Friday, January 30, 2009

Nostradamus Works at Blogger

I guess Blogger knows what kind of week I had. Best. Word. Verification. Yet.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Virtual Surfing with New SaniWeb®

I am writing this blog from inside a virtual machine (also known as a PC emulator or fake computer). I (re)installed Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 on my newly recovered Windows XP PC that was previously riddled with viruses.

This virtual machine has Windows 2000 (which I installed manually) on it. After spending a couple hours installing service packs, I copied the virtual disk drive (also emulated and not accessible by my main OS) onto my backup drive. When I need a new install, I just copy the backup file onto my main drive and I am good to go with a fresh new Windows 2000 install.

I put the latest Firefox and Thunderbird on the machine and it will be my new Internet safety zone. If it gets a virus, I just delete the virtual machine and copy the blank one. My Thunderbird profile is running in a folder which is shared between my real PC and the virtual one. If I get a web virus, it attacks the virtual machine. If I open a bad email attachment, it also attacks the virtual machine. If that happens, just delete, copy a new one, and start over. I likey.

I am keeping a copy of Firefox on the main machine so I can watch Hulu and Netflix only. It will be running with an extension called No Script which gives me power over which sites and which scripts are allowed to run. The home pages for both Internet Explorer and Firefox on the real PC will have home pages that warn in large letters not to surf and they will have links to the Virtual Machine (this is for family and guests who need to borrow my computer). Internet Explorer will be locked down and scripts will be disabled (unless I need to change them for Windows Updates). If I can prevent downloads from these real PC browsers, I will do that too.

Since I already paid them money, PrevX is my antiviral tool (and I will probably put Avira or AVG on the virtual PC).

I chose Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 because I already have an OS/2 virtual machine (ah, the memories!) and it is free. Ironically, Microsoft even wrote some software to make OS/2 interact with the real PC (shared clipboards and mouse tricks)...and to think they were bitter competitors just a decade or so ago. Even without DirectX installed yet it runs YouTube quite well. I know there are more options, but this works for me.

So, SaniWeb® isn't quite as easy as using a paper towel to clean up messes and it wasn't achieved easily, but I think it will keep my stuff protected and serve me well. Okay, my metaphors are getting mixed...time to sign off. :D

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bad News for Antivirus Programs

More viruses popped up today; I got a spam warning from Comcast and saw that IMAPI.EXE (a program that can control your mail client...any mail client) was running right after I logged in, so my conclusion is that NOTHING WORKS PERFECTLY or indeed well enough. More viruses.

As a result, I am writing this from a wiped and restored system. I could have kept trying other virus programs, but I think the point was driven home that the virus writers are ahead of the virus killers. All the programs I used were well-regarded internationally recognized programs. They can't handle it. If your system is working and virus-free, be happy and be careful.

I will be looking at several options to increase the security, but I no longer have faith that the virus makers have a handle on the situation.

Anyhoo, there is more to life than freaking viruses, so I will leave it at that.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

And the Anti-Virus Winner Is...

Only the PrevX Edge scanner found all of the viruses that I knew were on the system. Also, the download was less than 1 MB, it used the least total CPU by far. It also scanned and found all the baddies (that I am aware of) in under 10 minutes. The unfortunate part is that PrevX doesn't give you the geeky details. It just quarantines the viruses and deletes the root kits. Unfortunately, while detection is free, there is no free ride to remove viruses. I forked over the $30 (on an uncompromised PC) to clean up the files nobody else could find.

AVG Free is second best. It found all the new ones, but didn't find the root kit. It also cleaned out a bunch of stuff before I decided to do some tests. Full scan is about 2 hours. It used the most CPU and lots of memory. $FREE$ is a good price though.

Zone Alarm didn't find anything. - It took a long time to scan (you could see the individual filenames and the counter going up one at a time). I gave up and stopped it before it did the whole system and just spot scanned the folders that I knew had viruses. It had already checked most of them, but I wanted to give it a second chance. No luck.

Trend Micro didn't find anything. - It was the biggest download (almost 100MB). It took nearly four hours to scan. It looked irritating and disrupted the foreground window often. I uninstalled it as soon as the scan was over. Odd, because it came highly recommended.


The next couple of days will tell whether sub-viruses keep spawning off like they did yesterday and this morning. Even if they do, I am leery of whether or not this system is really clean. As a result, I must still decide whether to reinstall Windows or move on to Ubuntu Linux. It was educational, but not confidence inspiring. If I had the cash, I would punt and get a Mac Mini...but I don't.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Nostradamus Works at Yahoo! Sports

I was over at Yahoo! Sports checking out the Indy Car page and noticed a strange thing. This April 2009, the Honda Grand Prix will be run in St. Petersburg, Florida. In fact, here are the results:

1 Scott Dixon (9)
2 Marco Andretti (26)
3 Dan Wheldon (10)
4 Helio Castroneves (3)
5 Ed Carpenter (20)
6 Danica Patrick (7)

Race Date: Sunday April 5, 2009
Laps: 200
Time of Race: 01:44:03
Avg Speed: 171.248 mph
Margin of Victory: 0.5828 sec
Cautions: 3 flags totalling 24 laps
Lead Changes: 12 out of 5 drivers

Yep, they already know who won. They also list which cars had accidents and mechanical problems and which lap they finished at...and the race hasn't even happened yet.

I went and checked the results from 2008 and it does not match the list above, so it isn't just a holdover that didn't get cleaned up.

Kind of weird....

Anyone want to make some bets?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Virus Mayhem

You might notice that I deleted the post with the broken English sign. I believe the web site I got it from wreaked havoc on 2 of my PCs this afternoon, rapidly filling them with viruses. While I can't be 100% sure the infection came from there, a warning came up almost immediately upon hitting the page and a new web page loaded and dropped files on my PC.

While it may not be their fault, I don't think it is a good idea to visit Engrish (I separated the words to make it harder to create a link from). If it was from their page, it was probably one of their advertisers (or a hacker I suppose). I had four other tabs open, so it could have come in from an ad on one of those pages. I hate to disappoint, but none of them were porn.

I should also point out that I've been visiting this site for months without any problem.

Several things frustrated me about this:

1. While Microsoft gets a lot of heat about every security transgression, the browser people (mostly Firefox & IE) along with AND ESPECIALLY Adobe Flash don't seem to face the same scrutiny. This happens in spite of the fact that malicious web pages are the usual mode of virus transmission now.

2. These viruses are nasty and well-written. They mutate, self-replicate, self-encrypt, and block your browser from using Windows update and, in some cases, reaching security web sites.

3. AVG Free could identify some of the virus files, but couldn't remove them. PrevX found the virus files, but wouldn't remove them without buying a license. Yeah, I am going to give out my credit card # on an infected PC, riiiight. Haven't these people heard of bootable live CDs?

4. Thanks to Ubuntu Linux, I was able to boot in and manually remove the files myself, but how is a novice going to know that? Sadly, our eMachine seems to freeze up when booting Linux, so I am still trying to figure out what to do there.

If the malicious web page situation can't be solved, I can definitely see us moving out of Windows altogether. I love the development tools, but I can't have my life disrupted by visiting innocuous web pages again. I don't understand why doesn't send out a muck raker to expose this security malaise.

The other option is to take the Commander Adama approach and remove the Internet part of our connectivity. It may be the only way to keep the Cylons out. :D

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Yes We Can is now over. Now it is time for Yes We Will. Because in the end, it only matters if Yes We Did. My hope is that President Obama's actions can match up to his words. I wish him well in that endeavor.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I/O Shield Gloves Activated

Update: This site checks out as clean (free of viruses or malicious web content) on a couple of different tools I used to scan it. Therefore, I am putting the post back on line.

This looks like it would fit my Blogger template:

see funny english mistakes

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Like the Nazis, Except for Good

Rick Warren compares his "radical movement" to some rather unsavory historical figures:

via Buzzflash

Of course, I am sure we are taking these righteous words out of context. It would have to be a VERY large context.

Godwin's Law states, "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

I don't think Godwin was referring to a situation where the leader was essentially saying, "Hey, the Nazis were bad, but they were successful. Let's be Nazis for the good." It throws the probability curve right off the chart.

Great formula. What could possibly go wrong?

(Not to rain on Prez elect Obama's parade, but there were thousands of conservative clergypeople to choose from besides this one. Ah well, I welcome the transition. Eight years was enough of that certain someone and his sidekick.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Stitchin Time!

Angel/Devil Pillow

Well here is a project I did for Christmas for our daughter, because she is a Teen Angel/Devil! Title bar link goes to Sublime Stitching, the place where I got stitching designs and the pillow cover. The specific patterns I used were Lisa Petrucci Artist Series #4 and Tatto Alphabet. I got the pillow form at Michael's (14x14) for a reasonable price with my 40% off coupon as well as a few other supplies.

I found these designs were very easy to stitch up and I had most of the colors I wanted to use on hand. I used DMC Cotton floss, of which I have bags and bags given to me by my mom's old lady friends! There were a couple small problems, so I have these recommendations:

1. It's important that the image not move at all while you are ironing it on, so either pin it or hold onto it. I don't recommend moving the iron around at all in fact, just put it on the highest setting for the fabric you are using and set it down on the image & fabric.... helps to use the steam function too...
(I've had several problems with this)
DON'T try to re-iron it,(you will end up w/a blurry image!); instead use a wash-away marker to draw any lines you missed - use the iron-on pattern as a guide.

2. The image can bleed through,(the lines are thick), so use cardboard or some remnants behind the fabric you are ironing on...our daughter has a whole other reversed image on the backside of her pillow!

3. I recommend using a hoop, tried to do it freehand, but just too hard. Helps me keep the tension right. Also easier to see when I messed up and needed to take stitches out.

4. I used shorter lengths, not much more than 15 inches at most, sometimes 12. Keeps the thread from getting too worn and tangled. Also I like the metallic thread Jenny sells (it does tend to "shred" a little, but I just work a little slower with it..). I tried DMC's Metallic floss..and almost went crazy! was like trying to sew with copper wire... (their regular floss is great though..).

Here's a close up of the dog...

Cute Poodle!

The Poodle's French knots took me forever to do, but really added to the overall look of the piece. Except for the dog, I used mostly stem stitch, backstitch, satin stitch for the eyes and just a couple straight stitches. I think the kitty turned out well too..and I LOVE the Devil gals! I have some other patterns, like Bon Voyage, Gnomes & Fairies and Forest Friends so I will have plenty of opportunity for more projects in the future...

UPDATE: More and BETTER Pictures....

Devil Girl with her Orange Flame!

Close up of the Angel, with a Golden Halo

and finally...

The Kitty!... with better view of the cute Devil Girlhead w/flames....

Monday, January 05, 2009

Tooth, ow! Sand, Nine.

Wow, doesn't everything seem different this year? It doesn't? Oh. Well, I am sorry.

Nonetheless, the arbitrary flipping of the year which has nothing to do with the birth of Anyone Whose Name Must Be Capitalized, any season, or much of anything else is nonetheless symbolic for many and it is a time to launch changes in lifestyle or some such gibberish.

I have some of my own gibberish that I am changing in my life. Some of it I will talk about publicly, some I won't. I might even add a gibber to two to this very post! Exciting, isn't it.

But first, let's talk about something nobody here cares about: sports.

In college football, where the Pac-10 couldn't buy their way into the polls this year, the teams were undefeated in bowl games, generally against teams of higher rank. Oregon State lost 50% of their offensive output (the brothers named Rodgers) to injury, so they just crushed the other team with defense and won anyway. The only undefeated team, Utah, will probably not be declared the national champion. I guess what I am saying is that the BCS hasn't really changed anything in college football.

I always like it when a corporation thinks they can basically throw a person away, but the person doesn't fade away all nicely for them. Darius Miles was a Portland Trailblazer who was injured two seasons ago. He was a good player, but like several of his teammates, he had off-the-court problems that bolstered the JailBlazer reputation. A new set of imagemakers joined the Blazer front office and focused on Character and Integrity. Part of this process included deciding that Miles, who had spent two years rehabilitating his body to return to the game, had a career-ending injury. They got the proper papers signed by the doctors and they cut Miles loose, along with some $18 million dollars in salary cap space they could use to get other players (Miles would get that money either way, but now the team could free up the ability to use that salary for other things).

The problem was this. Darius Miles didn't break his spine or something, he hurt his knee. It was a bad injury but, after enduring two years of surgery and rehab, he believed he could play. Last fall, Miles trained with the Boston Celtics, but did not make the team. Nonetheless, the Celtics said they were impressed with Miles. Since then, he has signed on with the Memphis Grizzlies. If he plays in 10 games, the Blazers eat that $18 million. Miles played his first game on January 4th. If he plays nine more, the Blazers will earn the consequences of throwing a person away. I hope they do (even though I am a fan of the team) because what they did was wrong.

Okay, enough with the sports.

I suppose I should mention some of my thoughts for the so-called year. First, I want to get going with backpacking again this year. There are some physical question marks, but I think we can deal with them. One of my goals is to continue our Pacific Coast Trail hike where Ladybug and I left off a couple years ago when I hurt my knee. I am thinking of heading north starting from Waldo Lake.

Getting away from the computer is another idea I had. Our whole family sometimes looks like we are hooked to The Matrix. It doesn't feel like a healthy thing to be doing. Sadly, it will mean fewer blog entries. On the good side, the entries that do appear should be of a higher quality.

For my dietary needs, I am working on finding a way to substitute vegetables into most situations where I normally eat something carb-rich, such as the morning taters, lunch items, and the ratios of things on the dinner plate. Things like beets and squash are tasty, filling, and there aren't a lot of reasons not to enjoy them instead of filling up on bread, potatoes, and rice.

Most people are excited about booting old Dubya out of office and welcoming Barack Obama. I think the Republicans are much better represented in Obama's cabinet than progressives are and I can only hope Obama isn't as stupid about dealing with Muslims as his foreign policy team appears to be (H. Clinton openly spoke of "obliterating Iran," nice work). He appears to be continuing the Bush policy of "look the other way" as it pertains to the idiots who took a pretty good shot at destroying capitalism. There is no accountability any more.

So. while I will give the guy a chance, every piece of evidence points to the distinct possibility that he will piss on the very people who put him over the top and that is just freaking sad. I can only hope I am wrong. Needless to say, my goals and hopes for 2009 are not dependent on a new President Obama becoming the next JFK. (Yes, I know the alternative to him was worse, but can't I have standards?)

With that said, I think the passing of Dubya, like a painful kidney stone, is worth celebrating, so the inauguration will be time for joy at Rancho Snabulus.

I will leave you with a picture from my lunch time walk (cheap cell phone quality). The remnants of last night's snow made for a nice forest scene. Enjoy.