Nyxem.E worm

For those of you who don’t run AV scans often (or at all…), you might wanna pay attention to this one if you don’t want to end up losing some of your files.
 
It’s a worm called "Nyxem.E" (link) and according to various security websites, the worm will activate itself every 3rd day of the month and corrupt the files with the following extensions with the string "DATA Error [47 0F 94 93 F4 K5]":
 
*.doc
*.xls
*.mdb
*.mde
*.ppt
*.pps
*.zip
*.rar
*.pdf
*.psd
*.dmp
 
So for those of you who haven’t kept up to date with anti-virus definitions, you might want to update your AV scanner and perform a full system scan.  Of course, your AV scanner might not find them all if they are hidden by (or is) a rootkit (link).
 
On that *cheerful* note, happy 3rd February (and for every month thereafter if you still have the worm),  !

Firefox switch

After a lot of web browsing and thinking (ever since version 0.7…), I’ve now finally set Firefox as my default web browser.
 
One for the reason why I switched is because of Firefox’s ability in handling tabs in a seamless fashion, not to mention the amount of extensions that allow it (FF) to be as good (if not better than) as IE in terms of system integration (give me a shout if you want to know what extensions I have installed).
 
However, there are still 2 things that IE is still better than FF:
Favorites – I would love to see FF supporting the "Favorites" folder directly instead of all the importing business; I like having each of my favorites link with a .url extension (and I like it being called "Favorites").
– Performance – Alright, I know FF does a better job at loading web pages than IE (at least those that aren’t designed specifically for IE…), but the reason for me saying this is because of the amount of RAM it (FF) takes up and the amount of time it takes to start up – especially when I’m on my laptop…  So for a quick browse (when no browser is launched), IE is still much faster then FF overall.
 
I know you are probably saying "what about security!?".  Well, that is taken care of by me configuring the web filtering feature on my firewall and the IE settings.  Oh, and do I need to mention something called "common-sense"?

Mini-blog: Rootkits in BIOS

Here’s a scary though, a rootkit installing itself in the computer’s BIOS (link).  I have no idea whether this is actually feasible to do on a large scale, but one thing’s for sure – if a system is exploited successfully this way, it sure would make the job of malware removal a hell lot more interesting  .

A problem with file metadata on NTFS

Here’s something I find really strange, Microsoft is touting how metadata attached to files (e.g. Keywords) is the next best thing (and maybe the the next worst thing – inadvertent data leakage), but since they are not actually stored as a part of the file (as most files on NTFS are…), all of those metadata will be lost once you move it out of NTFS (e.g. when you backup onto a DVD)…
 
So… I wonder, if you can’t save those metadata when you perform a backup / restore procedure, what’s the point in spending any time entering them (at least in the home environment)?  I mean, over the life of just about every Windows machine, they would go through at least 1 complete rebuild (software-wise), and that means every time you do a rebuild you’d have to re-enter all those metadata (providing you can be bothered and can remember what they were in the first place)…
 
So until someone finds a good way to save those metadata, I’m sticking with the method where you organizing your files correctly in the first place.
 
(Alright, I know at least WinRAR do backup metadata if you wanted it to, but I really am not very comfortable in putting everything in one giant archive file – if you’ve ever tried to "compress" a movie this way and managed to corrupt the file, you’d definitely understand what I’m saying.)

A common problem across many programs

(Sorry, no icon this time… – I couldn’t find one that’s appropriate…)
 
If you, like me, backup program settings once you got it configured the way you like it, you would have noticed one "thing" that is very wrong (or missing) from a lot of the programs out there – where the hell can I find all those settings to backup!?
 
Yes, I know this sounds obvious, but many application fails to document such basic things to a point where I have to bring this to light.
 
I mean, for instance, does anyone reading this knows where in the registry does Windows (XP) stores the Start Menu Pinned Items list?  How about the taskbar icon order / toolbar settings?  What about the "Customize Notifications" tray icon hide status settings? (Answers at the end of article)
 
Still needs more convincing application needs better documentation about where their settings are stored?  Let’s look at BitComet.
 
BitComet stores its settings in 4 XML files (at least as far as I know…):
– BitComet.xml           <– For general settings
– Downloads.xml        <– For overall download progress
[Torrentname].xml  <– For tracking torrent specific download progress + info.
– lang_en_us.xml       <– (Or whatever language you use BC in)  This one is my favorite, how could you have guessed settings are stored in a file that seems to exist for a completely different reason…  I only found out after realizing BC resets all my GUI settings such as column width after upgrade / reinstall…
 
And of course, none of this is documented (at least as far as I’m aware)…  At least this is not as bad as where Windows / some of the other Microsoft software stores their settings…
 
And I’ve only talked about a few settings from explorer and BitComet, there are many more programs out there that has a similar problem.
 
I guess I could go on and on and on about what’s wrong with program x and program y, but instead, I’m going to list 2 very simple and easy to implement recommendations to developers below:
• Please provide clear documentation as to where your program’s settings are stored.
• Please also provide settings backup and restore procedures.
 
You know, I’d love to see a backup "standard" that everyone would adhere to.  For example, such standard might include things like:
• Application settings must be stored in xml format whenever possible. <– Or whatever universal / most suitable format…
• Application should support the universal "/dumpsettings" switch. <– To enable automated backups.
• Application should support the universal "/restoresettings" switch. <– To enable automated restoration of backups.
 
So for example, I can simply include the command in my backup batch file like:
C:program.exe /dumpsettings "D:Backupdirprogram settings.xml"
 
I guess one thing I’m hitting onto is the lack of standards in some area of the IT industry (did I hear "Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD"?) and, I guess complete standardization is probably never going to happen (and there are probably reasons why this is good – but I don’t know enough to say exactly what they are…).
 

Oh yeah, the answer…  As far as I can tell…
 
Start Menu Pinned Items list is stored in:
HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerStartPage : Favorites
 
The task bar icon / toolbar settings:
HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerStreamsDesktop : TaskbarWinXP
 
The "Customize Notifications" (tray icon hide status) settings (MS article link):
HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerTrayNotify : IconStreams
and
HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerTrayNotify : PastIconsStream
(Pretty self-explanatory…)
 
And if you do a search on microsoft.com for the answers above, only the last item turns out any relevant articles…

BitComet -Ver 0.61-

BitComet logo
 
Ok, BitComet (version 0.61) is now out, you can get it at the link below:
 
 
Release Notes from the BitComet website for this version (link):
v0.61 2006.1.10
GUI Improved: enhance BCTP link command to lunch preview window
GUI Improved: support xp themes in the embedded browser
GUI Improved: no longer popup script error message in the embedded browser
GUI Bugfix: Possible buffer overflow when opening URL link using external browser. (Thanks to Dejun Meng of Fortinet for reporting this issue)
GUI Bugfix: the clip board can work in some user interface
Core Improved: support wmv/asf file in the preview window
Core Bugfix: fix the bug that DHT is added for the ‘private’ torrent after task begins
Core Bugfix: fix the bug that UDP port mapping is not released when bitcomet exit
 
 
Just in case you needed, here’s BitComet’s homepage:

Mozilla Firefox and its RAM problem…

Mozilla Firefox logo - click for full res. version
 
Grrh!  Please, Mozilla (well… the FF developers out there), please fix the RAM usage problem in FF – it’s a wonderful browser, but the aspect of it eating up 152 MB of my RAM when I’m only displaying the "about:blank" page (after just under 3 hrs of CPU time) just doesn’t make the browser look too attractive anymore…
 
Here’s the proof below:
Proof - click for full res. version
 
 
You know, RAM do cost money… even they are not that expensive comparing to a couple years ago…