Zero Day Adobe Acrobat Reader Exploit

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PDF Holes

Just a few weeks ago we saw the Conficker worm tear across networks. Now we’ve got reports of a zero day exploit that effect Adobe Reader 8.x and 9.x according to NAI as noted in their blog post http://www.avertlabs.com/research/blog/index.php/2009/02/19/new-backdoor-attacks-using-pdf-documents/. What’s worse is the attack installs a backdoor and montoring into your system, so even after you patch the hole they can still get in to your system. Until the patch is avialbale from Adobe, don’t open any PDFs that you are not sure of. The exploit uses a specially crafted file to deliver the payload. You could also uninstall Adobe acrobat reader and install the Open Source alternative XPDF which I belive does not have the vulnerability.
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5 Simple Steps to Tune-Up Your PC

wrench-1I have been in the IT industry of over 10 years and there have been a few tips and tricks I have learned along the way to tune-up and increase your Windows PC performance. I remind you to backup your data before you perform any of these actions, but I know you are regularly backing up your computer. Right?

1.    Remove unwanted programs

Over time you install programs, sometimes unwittingly, and forget about them. Well not only are those programs using up hard drive space, they may also be using system resources without your knowledge.

Go to your Add /Remove Programs in the Control Panel and remove any programs that you do not use or do not recognize. Be especially weary of programs named similar to “… Search Helper” or ”…. Toolbar”. Theses are potentially “spyware” or at least useless software. Be a little careful of programs you do not recognize. Some programs are needed for your sound, video, printer, or other devices you may have installed. Take note of these programs before you remove them in case you need to reinstall them after accidentally uninstalling them. Don’t forget to reboot after uninstalling to make sure you haven’t removed something you shouldn’t have.
Remove any spyware / viruses. These can be considerably more difficult to remove compared to those annoying toolbars. See the article Removing Spyware and Virues for good

2.    Check Start Up Folder

The startup folder is a special menu item on you start menu that automatically starts programs when you logon to your computer and is often overlooked. Go to Start -> Programs -> Startup. Simply right-click and each item that you don’t want to startup and select Delete from the menu. This will increase the login time as well as recover some system resources. Of course if there are any programs that you actually want to start up when you login, such as Outlook or Internet Explorer, place the shortcut in this folder and they will start up each time you login.

3.    Run Folder in the Registry.

So you have removed all of the items from you startup folder, but you still see programs starting up. There is a sneaky registry entry that starts programs at startup. Reminder: Before modifying the registry backup your registry in case you remove something you shouldn’t have. To see these entries go to Start -> Run and type “regedit”. Under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SOFTWARE -> Microsoft -> Windows -> Current Version -> Run
In this folder you will see entries pointing to the executables that run at startup. You may be surprised how many things are starting without your knowledge. Simply delete any entries you don’t want to startup. Again be careful what you delete since it may cause your PC to not boot.
There is also HKEY_CURRENT_USER ? SOFTWARE -> Microsoft -> Windows -> Current Version -> Run

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Xbox 360 RRoD Fix

This is an updated post to my last post Xbox RRoD really Sucks. I did get my Xbox 360 to work after following the i-hacked xbox fix video. This is how I did it.

Open the Xbox 360

Use this guide to open the xbox, http://www.xboxchopshop.com/catalog/man_360_open.php,  as mentioned in the i-hacked post.

Notes about opening the Xbox 360: I used a small screwdriver and leverage to pop the tabs in the back of the xbox. You will hear a popping noise when you push on the small tabs. This can be very frustrating to get the cover off. I recommend getting the Xbox 360 Unlock toolkit from www.mod-chip.com for this part and save your sanity.

Materials Neededxbox360_screws_tools

  • 8 M5-.80 x 10 Machine Screws  (Lowes part number:  #138433)
  • 16 #10 Flat Washers – Nylon (Lowes part number: #139065)
  • 16 5mm Flat Washers – Metal (Lowes part number: #13831)
  • Torx T10 screw driver
  • Torx T8 screw driver

Notes on materials: You can purchase these parts online and save yourself a little headache, but if you are like me and can’t wait I found similar parts at a local hardware store but I did have to make a few modifications which I will talk about later. You can also use 3/16 inch machine screws and the smallest washers that fit on the screws. The M5 screws have a better thread fit than the 3/16 inch however.

I feel the washers are the most important of this modification.  The parts list include metal washers and nylon washers.  I have read that the nylon washers are used as insulators to prevent shorting, but I feel all you need is the nylon washers not for insulation but for cushioning. The reason the washers are so important is because they provide the proper spacing between the motherboard and the chips. Improper height of the washers will either prevent the heatsinks from contacting the chips or create the possibility of over-tightening and damaging the chips.

Tip: Place the washer(s) on the motherboard an look to see if the top of the washer lines up with the top of the chip then you will know you have the right height.

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Kindle 2 leaked

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Engadget has some possible leaked photos of the Amazon Kindle 2 e-book reader. I may pick one up when they are out. Imagine having all your heavy textbooks you carried around in school condensed into a light electronic device. Not to mention magazines and newspapers reading during your commute. I do love holding books and flipping pages, but paper books might be going the way of the typewriter.

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Unable to open VMWare Server 2.0.0 homepage

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I installed VMWare Server 2.02 and when I tried to launch the VMWare Server Homepage icon, it opened Firefox 3.0.6 (my default browser) and I go the following error:

hostname:8333 uses an invalid security certificate.
The certificate is untrusted because it is unsigned.

To fix this in Firefox go to Options > Advanced > ENCRYPTION > View Certificates > SERVERS  tab

Click  Add Exception button

firefox_execption

Type the address of your host –  https://(hostname):8333

Click the Get Certificate  button

Click the  Confirm Security Exception button

Ensure Permanently store this exception checkbox is checked
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The Predator super antenna

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The whole wireless security scene has been old news for a while now but here is a bit of a spin on the idea. The Wifi Predator is a directional antenna to receive wif-fi signals from much longer distances than your standard laptop wifi antenna can pick up. Here’s the spin : There are hundreds of unprotected wifi connections from neighbors or coffee shops that you could use for “free intenet” access.  The antenna is big and sort of pain if it is conected to you laptop directly. Instead mount the antenna to a tripod, connect it to a wireless router and use the router as your repeater. Point the Predator at the hotspot and you got yourself a free wifi connection from quite a distance away. I will definitely try this one out.
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