Windows 95 – 25 Years Later

I wrote this blog posting 15 years ago celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Windows 95. Now it’s 25 years later: wow I’m getting old! If you want to watch the Windows 2000 daily cycle video, you will need to load the Klite codec pack and use Windows Media Player Classic. The audio really sucks, but you can still make it out. I still run VMWare Workstation with Windows 98 SE on my dad’s laptop since he loves to play games from the Windows 3.1 era and EGACHESS. I think EGACHESS is from 1985.

This video by MJD is a nice overview of the Windows 95 development with reviews of preview/beta builds:

  • Soli Deo Gloria

New Web Host and Blog Format

You might have noticed a change in the blog formatting recently.  That’s because I went to update one of my older postings and was getting a 403 error message.  Eleven2 was my old web host which bought out Sharkspace and to be quite honest: they were a pain in the rear end. Periodically, they were blacklisting my IP address for logging in too many times forcing me to contact their tech support to unblock me.  I moved everything over to Hawkhost.

Looking at my web site: I realized that I needed to take down much of what was there since it’s mostly stuff I wrote and used in the Windows XP era.  In it’s place is a simple place holder and this blog is now the main feature of my web site.

-Soli Deo Gloria

Data Breach Mania

In light of the recent ebay databreach, I decided it was finally time for a password manager.  I typically use a permutation of about 5 different passwords and sometimes the same password across multiple sites.  I’m already up to 21 accounts on various sites: who can remember them all?  “To the cloud!” you say…well, I don’t trust the cloud.  Given that the Adobe cloud service was down for nearly a day and I can’t tell what the other guy is doing with my data on the other end, I prefer a more “manual” solution.  Enter: Keepass.  Keepass keeps all of the passwords in one KDBX file encrypted.  No cloud, no man behind the curtain.  Keepass will keep working even if the company goes out of business and the source code is completely open.

It gets even better, because there’s an Android app that can read and write to KDBX files as well. I have Keepass on an encrypted USB key (Locker+ G2) from Kingston for on-the-go situations and on Google Drive so I can get to it from my phone.  You can copy and paste the passwords from Keepass into your web browser.

– Soli Deo Gloria

Finding Silent Install Secrets

We use a program called Velaro chat.  I contacted the vendor a few years ago asking for a “quiet installer”.  It’s 2015 and you would think that would be standard by now.  They do offer MSI files on the side, but they have issues….particularly with some .NET interop assembly file missing.  What to do?  First, I tried velaro.exe /?.  No dice.  Next, I tried strings.exe from Sysinternals.  This will give us the plain text strings from the installer:

Ah ha!  /silent.  Why didn’t the vendor clue me in on this?  No idea!  Fired this through SCCM and it works like a champ, except it throws exit code 1 for some reason, even though it is properly installed.

Nice installer guys! (NOT!).  I just fire the install and then check C$ share for the install bits afterwards.  This does saving me time remoting in and manually installing the software.

– Soli Deo Gloria

Anti-Malware Tools

It’s been about 5 years since I posted anything about the tools I use to clean off malware.  So, here’s my method:

1. Depending on the type of virus involved: I do a system restore to a system restore point to a time before the infection.

2. Run Hitman Pro.  This uses a combination of Bitdefender and Kaspersky definitions from the cloud.   Note that the free version will not remove the threat if the computer is domain joined, but it will usually show you where the file or registry entry is and you can remove it with another program manually.

3. Norton Power Eraser.  This this another cloud based reputation scanner along with the Symantec virus definitions.  You do need to be a careful with this one as it as a tendency of flagging uncommon/infrequently reported files.

4. ADWCleaner.   Generally finds the same files as Hitman Pro, but is completely free and will offer to clean them without asking for money.  Do note that it has a tendency to just restart Windows for the cleanup without warning you.

5. TDSSKiller.  The “go-to” rootkit remover.

6. Stinger from Mcafee.  Mcafee AV defs in a standalone program.

7. Sysinternals Suite – Specifically, the tools Process Explorer (with built-in Virustotal support) and Autoruns can help identify an infection and remove it.

– Soli Deo Gloria

A Weekend with Plex

Finally decided to take the plunge and bought the lifetime subscription for Plex so I could dump all my TV shows into it and stream them to my TV in the living using Chromecast. However, certain TV shows just wouldn’t show up and the server log files weren’t much help.  The issue is that Plex expects to see files in the SXXEXX format, where S is the season and E is the episode number.  If your files don’t have this format, Plex will refuse to add them properly.

The real bear of course is that you may have many files…thousands of files…that do not fit this format.  What’s a guy to do?  Filebot to the rescue!  Basically: this program looks at each filename trying to determine what TV show it belongs to from an online TV database and then offers to put it in the proper naming format.  If the files are missing the TV show name, you can use Bulk Rename to add the show name to any part of the file en mass.  To find out if you are missing any episodes you can use TV Rename.

– Soli Deo Gloria