Wednesday, August 27, 2003


I've been playing with FeedDemon, currently in beta. It's from Nick Bradbury, the guy who did HomeSite (a cool product in its own right)!

FeedDemon is an RSS News Reader for Windows. Using the RSS protocol, FeedDemon gathers news from a variety of sources, including news sites (eg BBC, Yahoo News), technology sites such as Microsoft Watch as well as on-line blogs, etc. In most cases, the information provided by RSS is the a summary of the content on a web page (but without formatting)

FeedDemon feels like a good Windows Based newsreader, which presents a set of channel groups. Each channel group contains a number of channels. A channel is a single feed from a site. One channel I get is BBC News Technology site. The home page for the web site is To get this site's RSS feed, you'd need to go to This XML document is then rendered by the RSS client application, e.g. a news aggregator such as FeedDemon. RSS feeds feature autodiscovery to make setting things up. And there are channels with links to other channels, etc. Getting channels into your reader is the easy thing. Getting time to read it all, however, is another.

What the news aggregator does is to go out to each configured channel on a regular basis, and download the channel's XML document. This document will contain all the items the site has. Each item has a title, a description, and a link. Once the XML document is obtained, any new items are then presented to the user. Since each news item has a link property, i.e. the URL to the full article, the publisher can decide on how much detail to provide in the item's desctiption, and how much should remain on the web site whose URL is included. In reality, depending on the feed, the item's description property can be anything from very little to the full text of the article.

FeedDemon is cool. It's got a ton of neat features for presentign this information. It helps you to combine information from a variety of sources. You can, in effect, make your own newspaper!

If I could, I'd set this blog up with RSS. As soon as blogger allows me to subscribe...

[update - this blog is now published with RSS!]

Monday, August 25, 2003

BMW Loves It's Customers

Well maybe NOT if the MINI COOPER Online site is accurate. Seems BMW can't understand the value that independent enthusiasts bring to the market.

Even Microsoft understand this - with their MVP program. They may not like it when folks, like me, are critical of them, but they do react well. They invite the MVPs to give inpute direct to the people matter and are committed to making the input count. BMW could learn something from Microsoft.

Bengt Larsson - who's he? More IP Theft

I got a spam mail the other day, offering to help me promote my web site. As an aside, why do these mails always seem to say "I have seen you site and ..." when it's clear that they have never been there? Anyway, I got one to one of the mail alises that I ONLY ever use on the web. It pointed me to "Bengt Larsson home page". I was kind of suprised, to say the least.

That page looked familiar! The thief did not even know enough to change all the links. Now it's not big time IP theft, but the guy really should know better.

The ISP who hosts this guys page has had a complaint, but thus far have done nothing. :-(

An update: the nice folks over at have sorted this out and the pagea are gone.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Virtual PC 5.2 Available from MSDN Subscriber Downloads

At last, if you are an MSDN subscriber, you can download Virtual PC 5.2. Just go to the MSDN Subscriber Downloads page and it's the first entry under Platforms.

Friday, August 22, 2003

The Register

XP SP2 Delayed

If The Register is to be believed, XP SP2 has been pushed back till a year from now. And looking around the web, it seems other sites have picked up on this story too.

What are they thinking?

To look at how bad things really are, take a look at this Windows XP Post-SP1 Hotfixes list produced by MS. And if you do a wider KB search, you will see even more bugs (limited by the 150 max records that the asp page will actually return!). The Post SP1 patch page currently shows one hundred patches. But who knows if this list is up to date? And just how will home or small business users ever be able to work this out? And what large enterprise wants to devote this much tiem and energy?? If you buy Windows XP (RTM) today, or if you download it from the MSDN site, you get a CD with an almost lethal set of bugs. This version would simply not be safe to deploy on any network without patching it heavily. At an absolute minimum, you have to download SP1 plus a bunch of patches. Most of the OEM's seem to ship an integrated SP1 (which is helpful), but all my CDs are just plain RTM.

After getting SP1, you then need to go to Windows Update (or SUS) and add all the extra patches and validate that your system is both safe and functional. This is non-trivial. It's not only the sheer amount of patches you have to find and install, but you also have to test that you've not broken anything in the patching. Given MS's reputation and track record, testing is vital.

There's got to be a simpler way! Microsoft should offer to provide updated CD images for a relatively patched version of Windows XP (home, pro, and both rtm/msdn/vlk) - as well as every other key product (2003 Server, SQL, E2k3, etc). I don't want a bunch of CDs that are, in effect, dangerous!

No, the viruses are not Microsoft's fault. But I believe Microsoft has an obligation to make it simpler for customers. And as a matter of some urgecy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Paul misses the point - and not for the first time

I generally like reading Paul Thurrot's WinInfo newsletter, sent in email courtesy of Windows &.NET mag. But in his article Opinion: Windows Worm Should Never Have Been a Problem he just plain misses the point. OK - I agree with him when he suggests that Microsoft is not really the main culprit here - the fix was out and it wasn't applied. Thus it's not really MS's problem.The real problem is that systems simply were not patched

What he misses, sitting in that ivory tower of his, is the sheer difficulty of actually keeping everything up to date. I've said it before:it's just too hard. I'm not beating MS up for this latest bug, but for making it so difficult to patch things. Anyway - today it's the sobig virus. I've had around 40 mails this evening (each 100k or so) with this. Yuck.

There just has to be a better way. Admins deserve an easier life.

Editing MSI files

Editing MSI Files

I've been watching the hits on my weblog and find that a number of folks are looking for more information about Orca - a free Microsoft .MSI file editing tool. Orca enables you to do some basic .MSI table editing including simple things such as fixing a condition that stops an MSI file installing. You can get ORCA from Microsoft. However, contrary to KB article 255905, Microsoft seem to have removed orca.msi.

There is probably an easier way, but I did the following to get this:

  • Install the Platform SDK
  • Install the MSI SDK
  • Open up C:\program files\Microsoft SDK\bin - and there is orca.msi.
  • Run orca.msi to install Orca
Like I said, there MUST be an easier way.

If I get a chance, I'll do a deeper writeup of Orca for my ESM column.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Windows Update Runs on Linux

Windows Update Runs on Linux

According to the folks at Netcarft, Windows Update Runs on Linux.

The Register explains it all in a recent post. It is not quite as crazy as it sounds, explains Netcraft.

To some degree, it begs the question 'what's that site running'. After all, what is the Microsoft site? It clearly includes these global caches so the answer probably is - it runs a lot of things. I supose this is more an issue about how Netcraft does it's survey - and how it determines that a site is 'running' on a platform.

Like most statistics,

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

IE A Security Risk

IE A Risk?

I've been trying to keep up with details on the mblaster worm, and came aross an interesting page from a compan callied PivX Solutions. Called IE Security Holes this page is, as it's name suggests, one showing IE security holes that remain unpatched.

At present there are 21 listed vulnerabilities.


Monday, August 11, 2003

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit

Microsoft has produced a resource kit for every version of Windows NT since NT 3.1. As it turns out, I have every one produced thus far. The Resource Kit Team is a pretty amazing group (I worked for them for over a year). For Windows 2000, the entire Server Resource Kit is on line at

For Windows 2003, Microsoft decided to do even more! First, they decided to add a lot of new and improverd content. In a move which must have been designed to remove the threat of litigation from book shop ownnwers whose employees backs would have been damaged by lifting the new volue, MS has separated out the deployment information into a separate Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Deployment Ki.t This kit is now published, with some great content. And it's online too.

BUT: even cooler - you can download the entire kit. Not just as PDF files, but as word documents, thus you could (at least in theory) use some of the text in your own deployment plans.

I'm kind of surprised MS is putting the full word documents up for free download, but they have. The Resource Kit Team continues to do great things!

Now all we need is the actual Resource Kit itself...

Saturday, August 09, 2003

DNSDUMP.CMD - A script for managing DNS servers


An oustanding script for managing Microsoft DNS Servers

Written by true uber-geek Dean Wells, DNSDUMP is the ultimate managment script for managing Windows DNS Servers! The man is a genius - either that, or he's sad and has no life. I know part of the latter to be untrue!

But don't take my word for it - download it and try it. And to avoid confusion, the file referenced above has an extension of cm_. When you save it, make sure you rename the extension to '.cmd'.

And if you do take a look, and find anything missing or if you have any feature request, let me know and I'll send your comments along to Dean.

Bullfighter eliminates bull in your writing

No Bull Here!

Thanks Very Much

Deloitte Consulting have produced a free download writing tool called Bullfighter which, they say, Strips The Bull Out Of Business The product is a additional tool bar for Word - which analyses your writing, produces some basic metrics on the text,and points out anywhere the document is using 'bull' words. You'll understand it instalnatly when you see it- but for more info, see the BullFighter FAQ on the website for more info on the product. I like this for a couple of reasons.

I do quite a bit of writing - books, magazine articles, etc. Any simple tools that help me write better and easier are welcome. Especially if they help me avoid feedback from editors over unclear meaning.

I mainly use Word and PowerPoint - producing Word documents and PowerPoint slide decks. I also use tools like Blogger, O, etc. Where possible, I like to be able to use Word as the editor. My systems are big and fast enough to support this). So a tool that works in the environment is useful.

Bullfighter helps find the bullshit. I hope to avoid using phrases like "A value-added, leverageable global knowledge repository", or referring to products that are "Repurposeable, leading edge thoughtware that delivers results-driven value". But just in case I did lapse into marketing-eese, bullfighter lets me know.

Now we don't toally see eye - it complains when I use 'Enterprise". As I write for "Enterprise Server Magazine", avoiding the word is somewhat tricky. Still - a useful tool.

I also like it because it points out average sentence and word length and calculates the Fleich index. Keeping the writing simpler is good for editor, for me and hopefully for the reader. And it is very quick too.

The tools is a 4mb download. But do not run it on a system with sound in a crowded office. At least turn the sound down! :-) The flash image that is loaded while the product is installed is fun, and loud. You have been warned!

And what gives with the forced reboot after installation? It's just a tool bar for heaven's sake. Tool bar installs should never do a reboot. Should they? Grrrrr

Friday, August 08, 2003

It's almost funny

In an article in The Register we now learn that IBM is suing SCO over Lunux. So now we have SCO sueing IBM (and trying to obtain extra license income from Linux users), and both Red Had and IBM suing SCO!

If it wasn't so serious, it would be funny.

This sort of action must have them rolling in the aisles in Redmond. It sure isn't the way to obtain any sort of corporate loyalty. Personally, I'd ask some very hard questions if we had any Linux - and even Unix for that matter - running here.

But this does illustrate one important thing - you can make money out of Linux. Just become an Intellectual Property lawyer...

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

When is a Free OS expensive

When is a Free OS expensive???

Clearly when the free OS called Linux - at least that's what SCO seems to believe.

I can't help finding this mildly amusing amusing. Here we have all the Linux vedors at each other's throats - it actually makes Microsoft look better and better.

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might be tempted towards the view that MS and SCO are in this together. Of course, it's unture, but it does make a somewhat amusing story. I wonder what the movie rights on this are worth?

But all in all, this can't be doing Linux, or the Linux community any good and I find that just a bit sad.

Krispy Kreme comes to England

Or so The Independent reported it!

I'm not sure if this is good news or bad news.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Security and Security+ Links

I put up a page on my web site containing some general security stuff plus a Security+ Link List.


Update: I've moved things around and the Security+ link page has moved to a separate page!

Raymond Chen's Blog

Raymond Chen needs no introduction to any true Windows geek. As the originator of the Power Toys, he's easily The Shell God! If you do anything like shell programming, or are interesed in weird things about Windows, then read his blog The Old New Thing.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

I am an Uber-geek

It says so on the Internet - so it must be true!

In Mitch Tulloch's techBLOG, Mitch describes me as an Uber-geek. What kind words. He also liked the first TCP/IP book, but it looks like he hasn't yet gotten the update Microsoft Windows Server 2003 TCP/IP Protocols and Services Technical Reference.