Friday, October 29, 2010

Gotta love IM Bot Spam

Ok just thought I would share this with you all because I found it quite funny. I was on my Linux installation this morning. (Mint 9) An keep in mind I also have Windows 7 installed but like I said, wasn't using it at the moment. I had Skype open because I was waiting for a friend to sign on this morning. When all of a sudden I got this message.


To me this is one of those things that goes in my book of just hilarious incidents. Stupid bots that just assume things like me using a Windows OS at that point in time. Some of the others I have documented are like copying a .iso (Disc Image File) from the NAS server (Network Attached Storage) on my network and the estimated time to complete the copy was 1342 Years, 189 Days, 11 Hours, 21 Minutes and 31 seconds. Just things like that.

Well hope you got a kick out of it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Linux, Security, and You

Is Linux more secure then Windoze? (Yes. I said Windoze, not a typo) Yes it can be. Considering that over 90% of the current PC market do use a Windows Operating System but that doesn't mean that Linux is invulnerable. (MAC Included) Just like Windows, Linux has it fair share of threats out there. If a PC is connected to a network of any kind, is introduced to non-production stamped disc (a burned disc) and uses external media (USB Flash Drives, Floppy, etc) it is not invulnerable.

There are companies out there that make AV (Anti-virus) and other protection software for Linux. An some even offer a free one-year "Personal" license. Such as Panda, BitDefender, and AVG, just to name a few. There are Open Source alternatives too like F-Port and ClamAV. I guess you could use the term "The nail that sticks out the farthest gets hammered down first." (aka Windows). Although its more complicated then that and I'll tell you what I mean.

When it comes to Windows, many of the PCs that run it out there are very similar. Meaning that they get pushed to install the latest patches, similar packages are installed, and tend to all run the same software/services. So in theory that would make Windows an easy target. If all the PCs are similar, then the likely hood of a virus or exploit effecting all the targeted systems is really high.

Linux on the other hand is a different story. With Linux occupying around less then 1% of the current consumer market, they also differ from one another. For example, people use different kernels, distributions, packages, aren't using the same software, and don't all have the same services running. So there for if say the exploit was targeting a specific program with a targeted version and a kernel version of X, then the exploit will succeed. An again do to the fact that Linux is so customizable and people don't have to stick to a regimen of packages/patching requirements, the likely hood of success is just so low.

Still, that doesn't mean, as stated before, you are safe. There are some things you can do to help protect yourself from possible future problems. Make sure to use AV software, back up your files/partitions, check for root kits, and do these thing in a regular manner. It is possible to set these things to run automatically but it's not always a good idea. You don't want to set a scan or function to "autorun" and later find out that for some reason it had an issue and hasn't run for 2 months. Programs like these need human interaction to make sure they stay up to date and run regularly.

An one more thing. So many people I have talked to say that they don't use AV or other protection methods because they don't visit malicious websites or services. I got new for them, you don't have to be doing anything dangerous to get infected. It could be as simple as say a website you visit displays ads. An the server or service they use to display those ads gets compromised. Now you visit that site and there is hidden code in the advertisements that will execute and cause your PC harm. I have even seen people get hit with something just scrolling through their Google search results. Bad things can happen no matter where you go or what you do.

So be safe, take the necessary precautions and keep those exploits and dangers away.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Do you use Open Source software?

People are wrong if they believe that the future of software is anything but open. The power and versatility of Open Source software is amazing. Now I'm not saying that all FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) programs are worth using. The general populous believes that the only way to get software is what is available on a store shelf. Which is so not true. You may have FOSS running on your computer right now and you might not even realize it. If you are using the Firefox Web Browser, that is a FOSS project. An it's not the only one. There is a FOSS application out there that can do what current software you paid for does.

On a side note I would like to talk about "computer games" for a minute. Now keep that in mind "GAME". That leaves the door wide open for possibilities. What do I mean by this? Take the classic games Asteroids for example. I consider it to be a good computer game (Arcade originally) just as much as some of the games that new technology has to offer. An by that I mean games like Crysis or Modern Warfare 2. Yes the visuals are stunning but I dislike the fact that such games I specified blind people on the true meaning of a fun and entertaining game. So many people out there claim that games have to have good "graphics" or "visuals" as I call it, just for it to be fun and enjoyable. An I got news for them that is just a ridiculous argument and it's just not true. Not to say that visuals are not an important factor. They are, but shouldn't be the only factor that has to be met for someone to give a game a try. Same thing goes for people who don't want to try things like MAC OS or mainly Linux because they are intimidated. The longer people are use to and glues to proprietary software the harder it is for them to let go and make a change or even simply just to give it a try. I have friends that I have personally asked if they have tried Linux in their life time and they reply with, "No I don't know anything about programming." Which proves my point. With modern distros such as Mint or Ubuntu, learning Linux has never been more user friendly. It's a perfect time to start.

Finally I would like to address support. As stated above, people are intimidated by Linux. An if I had any advice or guidance to share, it's that you are not alone. The amount of open source communities out there is just crazy. If people have issues with their Operating System, Hardware, Software, there are human beings out there willing to help you with your problems. If there is anything I have learned while using Open Source software or just computers in general, if you ever encounter a problem, the chance of you being the ONLY case is next to null. So give it a try, It's free and you have nothing to loose. Well except for hard disk space and that's easy to get back.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Emergency Tech Support Creativity

Ok I'll try to keep this short. An this isn't English class so mind my grammer. Plus I'm a bit tired. Long day.=)

So my friend Adam calls me up at 5PM on a Sunday night and tells me that the video card for his laptop has crapped out. Nothing showing on the LCD display and the video out ports are non-functioning. Then he lays it on me. That he need to have a working computer for school by midnight, because he has to head back down to Bloomington so he can get some sleep and make his class in the morning.

Once I got to his house, the first thing I did was get his laptop hard-drive out of the laptop to get his personal files off of it. When he tries to use his parents Windows Vista PC to access his hard-drive, he can see the root file system but when he tries to go down a directory it freezes. (I came prepared) I brought my Linux Mint 9 Laptop with me. An wouldn't you know it he could access his files right away. It took some time but he backed up his files to his personal external (USB powered) hard-drive. Once his files were backed up it was time to find him a PC to work with.

He goes into his room to find his old eMachine PC that gave him crap years back. So I try booting up the eMachin but the onboard (motherboard) video adapter is screwed, so only a video card (AGP) is an option. The first card I try is an weird off-brand ATI card. It worked at first but then began to fail after a few reboots. An got so bad the OS could not load successfully with it in the PC. So I asked Adam if he still had the Nvidia 6200 I sold him years back. An he said yes … if he can find it.... (sigh) Luckily he found it but the onboard fan is burnt out. Well that's just great! Good thing was we were able to use the card to get the OS configured, install WINE (Windows API program which stands for Wine Is Not an Emulator) to make sure he can still use his college applications. Like interactive text books and all that jazz. An by the grace of god the apps worked flawlessly.

Unfortunately now the graphics card is starting to overheat so I convinced Adam that we will need some things from the local electronic store, if we want to keep it cool. (Fry's) Just to make sure I get the right GPU cooler I bring the Nvidia card with us. When we get there the store is getting ready to close. I look around and can't seem to find the GPU coolers anywhere. So I decided to ask a sales rep where they are and he replies that they don't carry them anymore. The second he said that I hear the store is closing in 10 minutes.

So I start to get an idea of what to do. I told Adam we need a case fan. I took some time to find one of a good size to cover the GPU and ram modules along with a good amount of airflow. An last but not least some thermal grease to replace the dried up/flaking off grease that was already on the card. So we stand in line and pay for the items. We were on a 12$ budget and got it all for 12$. Once we got back I told him I was going to need a paper towel to remove the old grease. Once the old grease was removed I polished it up with a shammy I brought with me. The clearer the surface the better the contact and heat transfer. I applied some fresh thermal grease and clip the heat-sink back onto the card. At about this Adam started to draw “Tux” the Linux mascot on the front panel of the eMachine that we took off earlier.

As for the fan I needed some way to elevate it to allow it to have proper airflow. The small screws it came with wasn't enough height so I had Adam go get some tall wood screws out of the garage which did the trick. After we got the cooling taken care of I proceeded to finish configuring Linux Mint 9 that we install on the PC because we didn't have a copy of windows on hand. Once the computer was all configured and set it was about 11:30PM by the time I left. An well that's about it. =)