Posts Tagged Nerd Stuff

Setting up a New Company

My parents exposed me early to self  employment. Working with them, (cleaning office buildings) I learned allot about all the many soft skills needed to be/run a company. From billing, scheduling, client communication to the actual work involved…it takes a ton effort to keep it all afloat.

Tamara had a recent idea for cool product; A Tissue Box cover idea. After running a product test pilot at Etsy, it seemed that the market existed. The real key came about when we found a custom fabric supplier.

While Tamara worked on the actual item design and production, I started on a website that incorporated a order, fulfillment and shipping method. In the past, we had used a full blown website (www.SockMonkey.net) to receive and process orders but the effort involved is dumbfounding. This time I tried a WordPress based theme that had some basic Content Management Database (PHP 5.0) built in.

After 36 hours of work I came up with www.Snotty-Bots.com. We had liked the name SnotBots but SnotBot is a PrOn site…. so we adapted to Snotty to avoid any issues.

We used a great graphic designer Tyler Tinsley and he came up with a super logo design. We also used Frank to help us with some product design and marketing advice. Both have helped us in the past with some other designs.

In the future we hope to get official licensing from an unnamed company but that is a bit further than we have ever explored.

Have you started a company and how do you keep it afloat?

 

 

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Windows Update fix – Fake Anti-Virus

A client of mine got one of the very common Fake Anti-Virus trojans. You know the one, where a pop up box, that looks like a Windows security window, frightens you with all these virus and privacy alerts. These fake AV malware are called “Extortion-ware” as they want you to pay to remove the newly discovered virus’. Not that paying will do anything but cause you identity and credit card issues in the future.

 

If you have ever tried to fight one of these trojans you know that if you are successful, the virus uses an exit strategy of breaking parts of Windows on it’s way out. This is what happened to us.

The error we had after we removed the virus was that Windows Update could not be activated. After using my google-fu for 30 minutes I called Bobby from 2PCGuy.com, as he is a pro at fighting virus.

Here are the solutions that worked for us.

This fix from MS seemed to do a thorough job of reactivating numerous .dll . This one worked for our problem. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971058

Here is another fix for Error number: 0×80070424

Quick tip on how not to get this increasingly common virus. Dont click any link in an email and get NoScript for Firefox.

 

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Blogs can work

Tamara and I have been blogging for over thirteen years. Before blogging was invented we used hand-coded HTML websites to document our travels for friends, family and as it turns out…for us and our failing memories.

With the invention of the WordPress platform, we thought we found a way to easily document future travels. Unfortunately, I have had trouble for many years creating a stable and flexible enough platform. I gave up on WordPress many times, trying Squarespace and other for pay services but…. paying for it kinda destroys the romance.

All my troubles with WordPress (the backend of the www.WeGoWest.com ) all ended last week when I discovered two solutions. I had to share/document them.

1. Instability with WordPress on 1and1 hosting.  A common problem I had and has followed me for many versions of WordPress is an error named;

Internal Server Error 500

The issue is how 1&1 handles or parses php files. A simple fix and WordPress is as stable as everyone has said it was for years now. I owe the solution and you can find it at This Blog.

2. The inability to dynamic list a categories listings, on a main sub page. I know, kinda nerdy but that is exactly what I wanted….to sort out my “Nerd Stuff” posts into a subpage. It took two years but the solution I found and could use is a plugin found here ; List Category Posts You can now click on the “Nerd Stuff” tab above and see only the appropriate posts.

I hope to continue to use WordPress and have launched a new Blog to help promote Tamara’s Sock Monkey Crafts company SockMonkeySocks.com

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Konboot for free

One of the more frustrating things is trying to work on a password protected computer when the password is not-known. If you Google for an answer, you will find some but most solutions are a bit funky and unreliable.

Kon-boot is a prototype on the fly (while booting) kernel “fixer”, that will allow you to enter any password protected profile without a password. I found it to work great and will add it to my stack of tools. It is quite easy to use and is simple as it gets.

The project originally started as a linux tool but was ported for Windows kernel.

You can find the project here; http://www.piotrbania.com/all/kon-boot/

Now, with every blackhat hack, the opportunity for whitehats to find a solution arrives.

How do you protect your Windows/Linux password protected profiles from this tool? Easy…my favorite encryption suite, TrueCrypt. Just whole drive encrypt your drive and this method of entry is neutered.

Depending on your password retention this could be a good/bad thing.

What cool tools have you found recently?

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Verizon FIOS WEP belong to us

I deal with computer security almost every day and just found one of the most shocking lapses in judgment by a major corporation I have ever seen.It will have a huge effect on many of readers of this blogs security for quite a while to come.

Lets boil it down for those non-nerds. If you have Verizon FIOS and they installed your modem/router (comes with the service) your WEP key is being broadcast through out the neighborhood. The secret code to connect to your internet is being sent to everybody in your neighborhood…. wow.

Now for some details. If you have ever fired up your computer in a neighborhood, likely you have seen the new 5 character (example;  H6196, 9RHUN) wireless clouds that pop up anywhere Verizon has FIOS. This SSID is unique and helps you find your wireless cloud. Verizon decided that since they were doing all this work in setting up peoples wireless access points, why not use the MAC address of the modem and generate SSID based on this. This is a OK idea but then ,as per normal for any large corporation, decided to shoehorn the idea into every aspect of the situation. They then used the MAC address to generate the WEP key.

Any user of Network Stumbler or Wireshark knows that the MAC address is broadcast along with the SSID. You take that 5 charicture SSID, run it through the java script WEP calculator at (http://fioswepcalc.webs.com) and you will likely end up with the WEP key of most all your neighbors wireless networks.

Screenshot

Security through Obscurity has been the modus operandi since the start of computers. At some point, if computers systems are to continue, companies that endanger their clients, lose clients data or expose clients to data theft, will have to be held accountable for poor security.

In real life trials, only half of the FIOS WEP keys were valid.

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