Scott Hanselman

Anti-Things you must install on your fresh Windows box

September 23, '03 Comments [5] Posted in Tools | Web Services
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There's nothing quite like the smell of a fresh Windows box.  After that first reboot, seeing that clean, smooth desktop brings a tear to my one good eye.  Everything is possible with a fresh Windows box.  Everything runs faster with a fresh Windows box.

Then I plug into the network and I'm immediately attacked by Popup Ads, Gator (evil), DoS attacks, Messenger Service Popups, HTTP requests for /system32/cmd.exe and clever neighbors trying to print to my printer. 

How should we protect our fresh Windows boxes, these new fawns, just before we hurl them into the abyss?

Well, here's the first things I put on ANY Windows box.  This is the "don't leave home without 'em" list.  This is the "You're not seriously going out without your _______" list. 

"Anti"-Things you must install on your fresh Windows box in the 21st century

  1. Firewall
    At a minimum, enable the Windows XP built in firewall.  This will protect you from MSBlast (which I removed off half a dozen relative's computers).  Other folks use Tiny Personal Firewall, and others, but if you're serious (and you love your family) just buy ZoneAlarm Pro.
  2. Anti-Virus
    In the old days, (last year) you could be clever and avoid viruses.  Don't open anything, don't talk to anyone.  But now, with attachments being sent to my Mom with names like babypics.jpg.exe, I just can't trust her to be THAT clever.  Heck, I don't know if I am that clever.  I use either Panda, ETrust, or Norton...but my preference is Norton.
  3. Anti-Spyware
    The #1 least understood problem on PCs today, IMHO, is spyware/malware/scumware.  A friend of mine visited recently from Malaysia and brought his laptop.  He's a technical guy, and a developer, but he was complaining of weird popups and odd behavior in his browser during development.  We ran Ad-Aware and counted up 357 different components of spyware.  He had at least 20 different evil (but not viruses!) bits on his box, including CometCursor, Gator, SafeCast, Hotbar, and a particuarly evil bit of spyware that actually chained and appeared in the TCP/IP Properties and literally sniffed traffic at the protocol level.  I install Ad-Aware and run it on Startup.
  4. Anti-Spam
    Everyone has their favorite, but I recommend SpamNet, it's like Napster for getting rid of Spam.  When you block a spam message with SpamNet you are "voting" for that message as Spam.  The more people vote, the more accurate SpamNet gets.  It's at least 99% with VERY few false positives, since actual humans are involved.  On the server-side for a Spam solution, I'm going to check out SPAMSoap.  I'll just change the MX record on my mail server, and mail will route through SPAMSoap first, then to me.  It appears to be a nice, cheap way for me to protect all my hanselman.com users.

If you're not running these particular tools, make sure you are at least running something to address these issues.  And seriously, run Ad-Aware if you haven't.  You'll be surprised.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Holy Crap, 70-300

September 22, '03 Comments [1] Posted in Programming
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I woke up today and checked my Outlook Calendar first thing, like I do every morning, just to make sure I wasn't missing any 8 am meetings, and dammit if I didn't completely forget that like 6 months ago I scheduled a MCSD.NET test for Exam 70-300: Analyzing .NET Requirements.  Original MCSDs were given a free coupon for the new 70-300 but only if they took it by September 30th.  I got the coupon, cheapskate that I am, and immediately schedule the exam WAY out in September (today) figuring, "Hey, I've got months to worry about this."

This is the test with all the "new" kinds of questions.  It's got a chunk of multiple choice questions, but as soon as you get comfortable, you're faced with some weird E-R diagram with an interface that's straight out of Windows for Workgroups.  It's the Year-of-Our-Lord-Two-Thousand-and-Three and I'm taking this brand new test on 16-bit Windows.  I swear it was the same computer running the SAME software at the same testing center that certified me on WfW in 1993.

But, long story short, I passed it in about 40 minutes and made it back in time for lunch.  Now I can go back to my personal hypocrisy of bad-mouthing certifications.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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The replacement TechEd bag just arrived...

September 22, '03 Comments [0] Posted in TechEd | Speaking | PDC
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A very suspiciously-shaped package from a random distribution-warehouse-sounding address just arrived - what's inside?  Well, none other than a Replacement Backpack from TechEd U.S.  You might rememember that at TechEd by the end of the week many folk's bag's inner linings had ripped and at the end of the week there was an announcement that the bags would be replaced.  I still use my bag (I just hang on to a bag until the next conference, then I use that bag...wonder what we're getting at PDC?) and it's ripped all over.  At a recent garage sale I sold about a dozen bags for about $5 each, some going as far back as a SiteBuilders conference in the mid-90's...re-selling conference bags to the general public could become a lucrative side business for me.  I should probably read the bag's EULA, though. ;)

Anyway, I'm not sure what critical structural reinforcement or steel beams have been added to this new bag; it looks just about the same to me.  Either way, kudos for MSFT for making good on their promise.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Java is the SUV of Programming Languages or Phillip Greenspun is a stud

September 22, '03 Comments [2] Posted in ASP.NET | Tools
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This speaks to me, not only as a reformed Java person, but also as the owner of a Toyota Prius and a Honda Civic Hybrid...

"Our students this semester in 6.171, Software Engineering for Internet Applications have divided themselves into roughly three groups.  One third has chosen to use Microsoft .NET, building pages in C#/ASP.NET connecting to SQL Server.  One third has chosen to use scripting languages such as PHP connecting to PostgreSQL and sometimes Oracle.  The final third, which seems to be struggling the most, is using Java Server Pages (JSP) with Oracle on Linux.  JSP is fantastically simpler than "J2EE", which is the recommended-by-Sun way of building applications, but still it seems to be too complex for seniors and graduate students in the MIT computer science program, despite the fact that they all had at least one semester of Java experience in 6.170.

<snip/>But the programmers and managers using Java will feel good about themselves because they are using a tool that, in theory, has a lot of power for handling problems of tremendous complexity.  Just like the suburbanite who drives his SUV to the 7-11 on a paved road but feels good because in theory he could climb a 45-degree dirt slope." [Phillip Greenspun's Blog]

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Neal Stephenson in Portland doing a book signing for Quicksilver

September 22, '03 Comments [0] Posted in Musings
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For those of us who live in Portland, Neal Stephenson, author of Cryptonomicon, Diamond Age, and more importantly, Snow Crash, is doing a book signing (get that dog-eared copy of Snow Crash signed!)on a press junket around his new book Quicksilver on Wednesday, September 24th.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.