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I am not responsible if your devices send you back in time, explodes, implodes, bricks or flies into space from the use of any software I put up.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Managing Security using UAC on Windows 7 Home Editions

This post demonstrates how to manage Security Levels on Windows 7 Home Editions.

Only Windows 7 Professional and above editions have a front end secpol.msc to manage local security policies.

For Windows 7 Home Edition you can manage the security policies by manually changing the registry values.

The registry location is shown in the picture below.


The corresponding security levels is as describe below:

Key:
_______________________________________________________________

ConsentPromptBehaviorAdmin (Affects account created as Administrators)
Value - Mode 
0 - Elevate Without Prompting (No Security) NOT RECOMMENDED
1 - Prompt for Credentials on the secure desktop (Most Secure) RECOMMENDED
2 - Prompt for Consent on secure desktop (Default Setting)
3 - Prompt for Credentials
4 - Prompt for Consent
5 - Prompt for Consent for non-Windows Binaries
_______________________________________________________________

Key:
_______________________________________________________________

ConsentPromptBehaviorUser (Affects account created as Users)
Value - Mode 
0 - Elevate Without Prompting (No Security) NOT RECOMMENDED
1 - Prompt for Credentials on the secure desktop (Most Secure) RECOMMENDED
2 - Prompt for Consent on secure desktop (Default Setting)
3 - Prompt for Credentials
4 - Prompt for Consent
5 - Prompt for Consent for non-Windows Binaries

 ______________________________________________________________


On Windows 7 Home Editions the default allows users created with admin rights to mindlessly run executables causing headaches for administrators.

This also prevents people who "borrow" your computers with Windows 7 Home Editions from messing with it by locking down security.

You can lock down the security by changing the corresponding registry values hope you guys find this is useful.

By default Windows Administrative Share is enabled on all versions.
However on Home Premium Versions Administrative Backend is disabled but this is a security risk on Linux System you can actually see the administrative shares. It appears as C$ depending on the partitions present.
You can actually access the system disk if you have the administrative password!


To fix this problem do the following:
Type 'REGEDIT', hit Enter
Navigate to the following registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
Create the new DWORD (32-bit) Value and in the name field type: LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy
Leave the default value of 0.
or
Navigate to the following registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanManServer\Parameters
Create the new DWORD (32-bit) Value and in the name field type: AutoShareWks and press Enter. (You can also leave this setting with its default value of 0.)
Reboot your PC.

OpenSUSE 11.4

For those who use Linux you might know that OpenSUSE 11.4 has just released.

I will be doing a short write up on this but unlike many "review" sites I will not just run a LiveCD and do a review just based on the Live CD.

Rather I have completed a Full Setup of the OpenSUSE on my laptop running it natively and complete for usage. Doing a Review based on a Live CD or on VM is like reviewing a book just by reading the first page.

1)Downloading the Distribution

To install OpenSUSE you do not need to download the Full DVDs, simply download the Live CD about 700MB and either a)Burn it to CD and boot from it or b)Create a Bootable Thumbdrive by using the provided Tool SUSE Studio Image Writer and image the LiveCD to Thumbdrive.

Most of the time OpenSUSE will boot successfully without any issue unless you have some exotic hardware or OEM implementations.

2)Installation
Installing to harddisk is pretty standard just remember to uncheck the UTC if your computer is set to local time and adjust the boot entries accordingly.

3)Setup up the Repository

OpenSUSE has made setting it up very easy.
Simply go to YaST, select Software Repositories,
Choose add, Choose Community Repository  and simply check the Repository you need.
For those who are using Nvidia Graphics you need to add Nvidia Repository to the list.
You might want to add Packman to increase the number of package options.
You might want to add VLC as well.

4)Installing the Software

Next you want to pull down the software from the Repositories
Go to YaST, Software Manager and type in the name of the Packages you want.
This is where it shines unlike Fedora finding the package is like googling for the package.
For users of Nvidia Graphics you need the nvidia-gfx02-kmp-desktop (Desktop refers to laptops and desktop) and vdpau (for video acceleration).
If you want VLC and other additional software just select them accordingly.
I will just list some of the more useful packages
  1. java (jre)
  2. flash plugin for x86 OpenSUSE
  3. (if you are using x86_64 OpenSUSE I do not recommend install the x86 flash plugin instead get the square native 64bit plugin, copy it to the plugin folder /usr/lib64/browser-plugins with root permission, this way it pulls in less unnecessary packages and it is less buggy compared to the native x86 plugins)
  4. chromium (cutting edge release of google chrome)
  5. vlc
  6. freetype font
  7. fetchmsttfonts (pulls in Microsoft Fonts useful for document interoperability)
  8. skype (follow the instructions here you need additional libraries for it to work)
  9. cairo-dock & cairo-dock-plugins (from Packman)
  10. Droid Fonts
  11. Add the font hinting Repository (Guide here ) Highly Recommended!
Finally when you have 3D acceleration you can enable desktop compiz effects. The effects are similar to Windows 7 behavior.

9) To modified any file as root while running under Xserver you run the commands like this:

gnomesu gedit /etc/bootsplash/themes/openSUSE/config/bootsplash-1366x768.cfg

Basically I find that this is a pretty good release, it is very responsive, and OpenSUSE chose to exclude a lot of unnecessary drivers, however on the 64bit Live CD they omitted the dependency gnome-audio just remember to pull it from the repo if it is not there. The operating system is very smooth as a whole, compared to Fedora it has definitely less breakages as it aims to be a stable and up-to-date distribution.

I am so stucked on OpenSUSE, I find I am booting up Windows much less than ever ( I don't play games btw)

I also modified the Sonar Theme with the Faenza Theme (Original Source) Monochrome icons.


I have put it up for sharing here.

Workaround for 1360x768 resolution bootsplash:
When you set the vga_mode to 0x34c for 1360x768 resolution the bootsplash will not display a progress bar. This is due to only 1366x768 image and config files (Total 3 files) found in the OpenSUSE bootsplash. To fix this you need to trick the bootsplash into thinking that 1360x768 resolution files exist.

Solution:
sudo cp /etc/bootsplash/themes/openSUSE/config/bootsplash-1366x768.cfg /etc/bootsplash/themes/openSUSE/config/bootsplash-1360x768.cfg

sudo cp /etc/bootsplash/themes/openSUSE/images/bootsplash-1366x768.jpg /etc/bootsplash/themes/openSUSE/images/bootsplash-1360x768.jpg

sudo cp /etc/bootsplash/themes/openSUSE/images/silent-1366x768.jpg /etc/bootsplash/themes/openSUSE/images/silent-1360x768.jpg

su

mkinitrd


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rising Prices

Recently I found that prices for Acer Laptops have been increasing.

For Acer, TimelineX Series of laptops have contributed to the increase in sales of their laptops, however because of that the prices have been higher than before comparatively.

I do not know the reason of the price hikes. It can be attributed to either to greedy retailers who cashed in on the rising popularity or Acer's decision to increase the prices, however 1 thing is certain, Acer computers are no longer as value for money as their other OEM counterparts per specification.

I do not do mindless supporting of companies, if their products do not offer good value for money there is no reason to support it. A computer is a computer. Period.

Edit:
Hey guys did you see this?
I wrote this article on 16 Mar and the news appeared on 1 April almost like I predicted it.
Anyway if the article isn't an April Fools Joke I wouldn't be looking to buy Acer anymore.

My Computers run purely on Electricity & Logic NOT Feelings & Marketing.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Don't buy Macbooks


It is 2011 and it keeps getting better!


In the new refresh they decided to downgrade the graphics to Intel HD 3000! Wow, seriously they must have thought consumers are suckers(and maybe they are right the way things are going).


The Sandy Bridge was advertised as a major upgrade even though all other new laptops are going to get it at less than half the price. In this revision, Apple gets to sell 1 Chip (Sandy Bridge CPU) for the price of what was originally 2(1 Core 2 Duo CPU + 1 G320M GPU).


The only laptop worth looking at (the highest end Macbook Pro) cost ~3K SGD comes with a Quad Core i7 Sandy Bridge and a fast middle class ATi Radeon 6750HD.


And Thunderbolt? How many devices actually uses that...it is one of those technology that is going to be successful if and only if the world decided to use it. Still remember FireWire?


Major Profits for Apple in 2011! You got to be an IT idiot to buy 1 of those crapple products...


I would probably get a Acer Aspire 4750G that comes with a Quad Core Sandy Bridge and a GT 540M that has 80-90% of the highest end Macbook Pro's performance @ 1.2K SGD...Less than half its price.


Go Figure!

___________________________________________________________________________________

The new Acer Aspire 4741G 14" with the GT 330M Nvidia GPU (Discrete) cost around 1.5K (SGD) (Specs wise it is equivalent to a Macbook Pro 15") or less but a Macbook Pro 13" with an inferior Core 2 Duo CPU + inferior G 320M Nvidia GPU (Integrated) also cost 1.5K SGD so if this isn't a sign for an obvious ripoff then what is?
Moreover the AS4741G comes with a 60% Gamut Display screen as well.

New Updates:
Seen the new Macbook refresh laptops?
They just added another reason not to buy a Crapbook.
The 13 inch Macbook are still using Core 2 Duo endangered species processor (dangerously obselete if you consider all the new WinTel laptop comes with at least a Core i3) and the most powerful Graphics on the 15 inch Macbook Pro is what? GT 330M GPU ?!
The 11 inch Alienware Gaming Netbook has a GT 335M GPU which even more powerful than the most powerful 15" Crapbook Pro at the fraction of the cost.
Seriously Apple seems to targeting suckers in the computing market.
So you guys who didn't buy a updated Macbook and bought a new WinTel Laptop model, rejoice your current laptop's performance is probably way more powerful and cheaper than the crapbook.
As long as you learn about proper usage and take care of it, you will probably be happier than if you bought a Crapbook.

Lets look at 3D Mark 06 Benchmarks (I usually hate to do this)

Macbook Pro 13 Inch Refresh (Assuming it is a low end model costing 1200 USD)

Lets look at Acer Aspire 4740G (Cost 800USD Converted)
Shader Model 2.0 Score: 1723(MBP13) vs 1422(AS4740G)
Shader Model 3.0 Score: 2013(MBP13) vs 1431(AS4740G)
CPU Score: 2113(MBP13) vs 2246(AS4740G)

So you pay 400USD more for Good Graphics and a penalty in the CPU area?
I am sure for 400USD more we deserve better.

A lot of people complain about lousy unresponsive Windows PCs but it is actually the OEM's fault.
They bundled their computer with so much crapware everything slows down, so doing a clean install will solve everything. It isn't a PC problem but an OEM problem and it is definitely solvable if you follow the previous link.
My sleek Windows 7 installation never lags or crash just like the way it is suppose to be.

here are additional reason why not to buy one.
1)They use propriety EFI so there is no "modded" BIOS/EFI to activate Windows, you have to buy one or use a loader that might break at some point or stick to OS X.


2)They overheat while gaming at the expense of the pretty looking shell.
There are people who game using Macbook Pro and it overheats while gaming in Windows.
They are little or no vent holes. They choose form over function.
There is no such thing as: This laptop is not meant for gaming.
The only thing is if the specs sucks you won't enjoy the game.
Gaming is simply running your CPU & GPU at 100% and see if the thermal module can handle the heat effectively.

3)An equivalently priced Windows System is a lot cheaper than a Macbook, and you can even get a better one cheaper considering they haven't refresh specification according to market conditions in a long time.

4)Their battery is not removable so you have to sent it back to Apple to replace batteries than buy one off ebay. Either that or you have to dismantle it yourself.

5)They don't offer low voltage processors. I am a great advocate of low voltage processors because
1)Nowadays unless you are gaming low voltage processors are great for energy savings
2)Low Heat Output
3)Cheap

6)What struck me was most of these buyers are uninformed on what they are getting, probably on word that they cannot get virus etc: Advertising.
See how Apple calls their sale people:Mac Evangelist.
See how Apple calls their tech support: Genius Bar.
Apple like to abuse the English Vocabulary you as can tell by using different words to describe the same thing.
This is bad because in the world we are living in is not so based on facts and capability but dictated by how advertising gets into the minds of people.

7)OS X sucks when it comes to low level customization, power users will find a lack of control. There is no administrative tools/Control Panel to give you very high, low level control over the OS(Except Terminal but it is not GUI). It is like Ubuntu except Ubuntu is free software (cost as well as source code).
OS X also took code based on BSD while not returning much to the free software community.
OS X looks great at the sales counter but functionality sucks.
I hope I don't have to repeat this.

I hope real word can get around about the ugly truth about Apple. To me it is a marketing company nobody should buy from. Please tell your friends and family, do not let this get any worse.
The reason I am writing this is I don't want to see low-cost Windows System OEM get shutdown due to low sales because people believe Macs are better and buy them.
I still want my choice of cheap & powerful computers to exist! Not cheap Macs with lousy specification, so if my Acer dies I will still be able to get a cheap & powerful replacement(not necessarily an Acer, Lenovos and some HP & Dell are cheap too).

I hope there are many OEMs continue to be around so:
1)I can choose
2)Competition drive down cost and keep OEMs on their toes
3)We all benefit from cheap stuff

If Macs or any single OEM rules:
1)They control pricing.
2)No more cheap computers.
3)New parts specification may not deliver as fast because there are no competition for sales (Apple can afford not to update for a long time because "they are not PC" so they are different and not subjected to compete, and people are still suckers for them however any PC OEMs selling laptops with 9600M GT probably won't be gettting any sales).
4)We will be paying a whole lot more than what it actually cost (so those company profit and execs go on holidays sponsored indirectly by us).

I do not advocate any brands (Acer Laptop sucks as well I bought it because it was cheap), my final advice to anyone who want to buy anything is:

1)Do real research from a neutral party about your needs, and find market pricing standards, don't be lazy and ask the Salesperson/Mac Evangelist because they have an intention to make you buy their products so what they say will definitely contain falsehood.
I am not just saying about Apple Sale Representative, this applies to any Laptop salesperson.
I have seen people doing sales with ZERO knowledge of what they are selling.
They will give you any promise to make you take out your wallet. It is during after sales that their horns emerge.
Also do not ask your hippy Apple fanatic friend about anything.
Their minds have been altered by Apple Marketing to know any real facts.
Ask someone who really know what every line of a computer specification means.

2)Get a competitively priced computer no point paying extra for nice looks, when a computer is meant to be used not admired.
Things that matter:
  • Size, Weight
  • Specification
  • Price Point
  • Battery Life
3)There is no such thing as brand quality.
Laptops are really made by ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) not HP or Dell or any other company. Example of ODM: Compal, Quanta...
Example:
The HP Elitebook is made by Compal, HP only pasted their stickers and label on them.