Monthly Archives: May 2012

Over the years, I have been asked repeatedly: “What kinda games you got on all those PC’s of yours?”. My answer has invariably: “Well, not very much at all.” I have to confess that I am not much of a gamer and never have been, much to the disappointment of friends – both male & female – family members, in-laws, etc. I’m just not “game oriented”. (It probably originated in my total lack of athletic ability and has migrated to board, card and electronic games.) Indeed, the top three games in my quite small pantheon of electronic amusements are:

  1. Tetris
  2. Sokoban
  3. Centipede

Another game that I have played on the computer from time to time is the old XP version of Space Cadet Pinball. Perhaps, some of you liked it as well. Since Windows XP is riding off into the software sunset, you might want take this game over to Windows 7.

Tech Republic’s Windows Blog offers detailed instructions on just how to move Pinball from XP to Windows 7. The instructions are pretty straightforward and the only thing you’ll need is either an old XP machine that still runs or a copy of the XP installation DVD. (Fortunately, I have both!) Once I get this going on Win 7, I’m going to try running it in Windows under Ubuntu – a nice way to spend a couple of hours.

Read all about it at http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/window-on-windows/migrate-3d-pinball-for-windows-space-cadet-from-xp-to-windows-7/6149?tag=nl.e064

I’ve been hard at work implementing an increased level of security for a client who has a number – more than 10 – WordPress sites. These sites were repeatedly being hit by the bad guys who gained access to her WordPress installations via brute force attacks. These attacks exploited vulnerabilities in the standard WP configuration and added a large number of  bogus subscribers.

In an effort to “harden” this client’s WP sites, I’ve been working with a tool called Better WordPress Security by Bit51. There are a large number of WP security plug-ins available – most of them are free – but Bit51’s seems to combine most of the known WP vulnerabilities that can be remedied into one package. For example, did you know that the standard WP table prefix of “wp-” is an open invitation to mischief via PHP injection attacks? A savvy hacker can cobble together a bit of PHP code  that wreaks havoc with the WP database simply because the default table prefix is very seldom changed. Bit51’s plug-in will generate a random table prefix and automatically apply it to the WP database.

This is just one example from a whole slew of tweaks and fixes in this plug-in. It can even handle database backups for you and I know from my own experience that finding a reliable backup utility that actually does what it’s supposed to can be a tall order. Many of them are half-baked at best, do not work with all server configurations or their support ceased long before WordPress 3.x came on the scene.

Some of the recommended tweaks do not work with all themes or server configurations but this package is well worth the time taken to install and configure it. Even if you can’t use some of the fixes that Better WordPress Security offers, any amount of security is better than none at all.

Better WordPress Security is “donation-ware” which means that it’s free for you to use but Bit51 would certainly appreciate any legal tender you send their way. If you’re trying to decide whether you pay the electric, gas and water bills this month, not to worry; Bit51 will gladly accept Tweets and/or posts about Better WordPress Security which is what I’m doing here. I’m also going to nag my client about a significant donation to the cause.

Go to bit51.com/software/better-wp-security/ to learn more.

My Rating:

Ever since his days at college, Dr. Data has been a fan of football – or soccer as it’s known here on the west side of the pond. No he’s not one of those rabid footie fans who threatens suicide if his team is relegated out of the English Premier League, but he does keep track of where things stand. (OK, he was a bit distraught when his beloved Portsmouth were sent down but it was their own damn fault!)

Manchester, England – Across the Atlantic sea – boasts not one but two teams in the Premier League: The legendary Manchester United and the somewhat less legendary Manchester City or “ManCity”. The latter is known for not having won a championship in 44 – count ’em! – years. There have been a number of close calls but the trophy has eluded them since they last won it in 1968.

That all changed on Sunday. May 13th. ManCity & Manchester United were running neck and neck for the championship. Manchester United was the expected victor and things were all set for a victory celebration following their match against Sunderland but things were also set up – just in case – for Manchester City’s home pitch match against the Queens Park Rangers who were struggling to stay in the Premier League; a death match if there ever was one.

For a while there  – meaning most of the 2nd half – it looked like victory was going to, once again, give ManCity a miss. They had been leading 1 – 0 when QPR scored an equalising goal followed by another one to take the lead. The fact that QPR were a man down because of a red card didn’t seem to help at all as the ball repeatedly failed to find the back of the QPR net. Manchester City had controlled the ball at least 80 % of the match but just couldn’t seem to capitalise on it. Then came stoppage time – 5+ minutes of it – where American supporters of the winning side usually start chanting “”Nah Nah Nah Nah, Hey Hey, Good-bye”. ManCity  scored an equalising goal just past the 91st minute and went ahead to stay at 93 min. and 20 sec. The rest is now British footballing history in a memorable game that had everyone – including Dr. Data – on the edge of their seats.

Back in 1968, when ManCity last won the championship, England’s claim of the World Cup title was just two years old. The next World Cup is scheduled for 2014 in Brazil; just two years from now. Is it time for England to reclaim their glory as well?

Week before last, I posted about three free-ware tools for Windows users. Today, I review Everything, a free file search utility by VoidTools.

Even though  the Search feature in Windows 7 is a vast improvement over that offered by Windows XP, It can still take a heck of a long time to find the file or folder that you’re looking for. Enter Everything, a file/folder search utility that pre-indexes every file and folder on your system. The up-front indexing is considerably faster than the Win 7 search and Everything monitors your file system for changes. If you add “Document-x.doc” to a folder or move “Document-y.doc” from folder A to folder B, Everything will track the changes and the file name and path will be waiting for you the next time you need to look for it.

It’s dead simple to use Everything. Simply start it – if it’s the first time on this particular machine, you’ll have to wait a minute or so for your file system to be indexed – and type in the file/folder name. If you’re not quite sure of just what that file or folder name was, the search accepts wild cards (“*”). Everything begins to filter the indexed files the moment you begin typing and continues until you’ve either entered the complete name or have entered enough of the name to narrow down the list of possible files or folders.

What Everything does not do is search the contents of files. Fear not, there is a utility by Nirsoft that allows you to do just that. It too, is free and is knows as SearchMyFiles. While it will also search for file and folder names as well as the contents of files, its interface is a good bit more complex so it’s worthwhile to read the instructions on the download page. Dr. Data recommends that you use Everything for basic file and folder name searches and save SearchMyFiles for those times when you want to find a file based on its contents.

Either way, you’ve got two great search tools for Windows and they’re both FREE!

My Rating:

Faithful Followers,

Howard Parsons – a.k.a. Dr. Data – is taking a wee break this week. There’s one client who really needs me to do some work on her websites – note the “s” – and another client who needs help figuring out why his system back-ups aren’t working quite the way they should. And finally, I’ve got to take care of some matters on the family estate. (It’s tough being a laird!)

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be any posts this week; just fewer of them. Fear not! Dr. Data will be back in full ranting form next week

This is going to be quick and I promise that I won’t bug any of you about Passwords for a while. You will remember in Thursday’s TechnoRant© on Freeware that I would be evaluating the LastPass password manager. Whilst I was nosing around the lastpass.com website, I ran across a blog entry on password security. The post explains how weak/poor choices of passwords is endemic amongst internet users. Weak passwords are responsible for 80% of security breaches. This post is one that is definitely worth a few minutes of your time to read.

My review of LastPass will be online in a day or so.

And I’m not talking about music here. The hackers – and hackettes since this sort of thing is an equal opportunity enterprise – have tasted the forbidden fruit and found Apple’s OS X to be quite tasty.  There is a rapidly spreading variant of  the Flashback Trojan called Flashback.S which is able to install itself  WITHOUT a password.

Like its predecessors, Flashback.S exploits a vulnerability in Java. Apple was supposed to have issued a patch for it but . . .

This article gives a pretty good rundown of the situation and even includes a download which will detect and remove all variants of the Flashback pestilence.

Dr. Data’s advice to all Mac users is to get anti-virus protection . . . NOW!!!  The article lists a number of  both paid and free security solutions for OS X.

You have been warned!

One of my clients is launching a new career and to support her range of interests and expertise, she is developing a series of websites using WordPress. Getting the message out there is the number one priority and for that, you need a search engine – in this case, Google – to crawl your site. My client needs to know this for not just one but x number of websites.

Google makes it easy for you.

  1. Go to Google.com
  2. Type in the words “cache: www.yoursitename.com” (Or .net, .info, .me, etc.)
  3. Google will present you with a list of results and – hopefully – your most recently crawled posts will be  at the top of the list.

The Geeks Club provided this tip so I’ll quote them directly:

Google takes a snapshot of each page examined as it crawls the web and caches these as a back-up in case the original page is unavailable.

For example, I did this for howardparsons.info and found 4 hits at the top of the list; The most recent ones being April 26, 2012. Before that, the date was April 12, 2012.

Have fun and impress your friends!

We humans just love something that’s free whether it be lunch or software. Tech Republic’s 10 Things blog posted a list of 10 free-ware tools that IT professionals love. For most of my readers, a number of these freebies have no value. However, there are several that will appeal to the average Windows user and here they are:

  • NINITE – This free-ware application keeps track of other free-ware applications that you already have or would like to install and updates or installs them for you. The tool is great for use on new machines and saves you a LOT of time in getting up and running. Check it out at ninite.com.
  • EVERYTHING – The search feature in Windows 7 is a great improvement over the sucky version in Windows XP but it still could be much better. The old saw about building a better mousetrap may apply as well to Everything. It is reported to be fast and thorough. Download it at VoidTools.com.
  • LastPass – If you remember my post on Passwords earlier this week, you’ll know that keeping track of passwords can be a somewhat daunting task. This password manager is a multi-platform tool for shopping or surfing on the web. Like a lot of tools, there’s a premium version as well. Take a look at LastPass.com.
N.B. Readers should be aware that Ninite isn’t quite the same thing as implied in the TechRepublic blog. I don’t know if this is intellectual laziness or sloppy fact-checking/editing on the part of TechRepublic but it does present a WTF moment. Ninite  has a two versions that you have to pay for. The 3rd version – the free one – actually runs off of their website. On Ninite‘s home page, you are presented by a list of applications supported by Ninite. You select the ones you already have or want, click the big green “Get The Installer” button on the bottom of that page. and the website will download a custom configured installer that you can execute on your PC & does the heavy lifting. Want to add or delete something from your freeware suite? Go back to ninite.com and re-select the applications you want. This service is free and does beat paying $9.99 per year for the stand-alone version but TechRepublic should have been more up-front about this.
How well do these tools work? Dr. Data is going to give them a try in the labs at Parsonage Data Services and will give a full report in a future post. if you’re  interested in what else is available, take a look at TechRepublic’s 10 Things blog.

I keep an eye on the stats for this blog-site because:

  1. I want to know what my readers are interested in
  2. I have nothing better to do.

That being said, the post I did a while back – Mens Fashion: Mantyhose – has been a big time hit. Nearly every day, I see “Mantyhose” (What a wretched name!) or tights come up in the list of search terms. Moreover, these queries are coming from all over the world.

Since this is my day for follow-ups, you may be interested to learn that the women’s legwear blog-site mentioned in my first article on this subject has released a second post on Mantyhose – the term was coined by Women’s Wear Daily – containing quotes about this growing trend from retailers, manufacturers, fashion editors, et al.

I am going to let the post on the Fashion My Legs blog-site do the talking for me.

This Month’s Rants

May 2012
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Pipe Count

Dr. Data's Pipe Count

480 (+/-)

Dr. Data has PAD - Pipe Acquisition Disorder

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