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126  DonationCoder.com Software / Clipboard Help+Spell / Re: UTF-8 bug? on: April 08, 2013, 10:37:58 AM
Does CHS support Unicode characters at all?

(most of? all of?) mouser's stuff is written in Borland C++ Builder, which didn't use to have Unicode support. A few quick searches on the board doesn't seem to indicate that mouser has switched to a version with Unicode support (...which would probably mean a fair amount of source code changes as well).
127  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Discourse in Practice on: April 07, 2013, 04:48:37 PM
It does persist progress.  Not sure by what mechanism it does it, but it does persist progress.  And that's the reason behind the endless scrolling.
...and I'd hope it does it in a database-persisted setting rather than a cookie - because otherwise, it's useless smiley. Given that the team behind Discourse are pretty skilled (even if they chose RoR :p), I'd expect it not to be a cookie hack.

Doesn't change my overall sentiment, though.

128  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Discourse in Practice on: April 07, 2013, 10:00:48 AM
I hate "endless scrolling" with a passion.

It makes the scrollbar useless (both for scrolling and as a visual indicator of progress) once you're a few pages down, and if I'm searching for something specific in a thread, I often have an idea that it's a page n+/-3 (or whatever), something you just don't get with endless scrolling. Oh, and if a site doesn't persist "progress", or persists it in a cookie, that's just extra hate-fuel, since I often switch browsers and machines.
129  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: convert MOBI or EPUB ebook format to PDF while influencing font size? on: April 07, 2013, 06:17:55 AM
cecillovell2: are you, perchance, affiliated with said product in any way?
130  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Does anyone here use Bitcoins? on: April 06, 2013, 03:04:56 PM
^I think the "notable" (as in worth noticing) reference is that the malware's primary goal is to steal CPU cycles for the author's gain, rather than to steal user data from the host machine as is usually the case.
Yup - but as app also noted, it's not new by any stretch smiley

(Nor is the use of botnets for CPU-intensive work itself - they've been used in the past for stuff like factoring RSA keys).
131  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Does anyone here use Bitcoins? on: April 06, 2013, 12:01:55 PM
What Took Them So Long Dept...
India comes trough! The previously suggested zombie bitcoin miner is real. From the folks at Geek.com:

Quote
A new piece of malware is floating around, but that seems like par for the course these days. What makes this malicious bit of code notable is the goal its creators have in mind
Note that "notable" doesn't mean "not seen before" - botcoining is hardly new.
132  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Disney to shut LucasArts games studio, lay off workers on: April 06, 2013, 06:35:34 AM
LucasArts might not have come up with any interesting games for quite a while, but still... they were my childhood in a far greater way than Disney ever were. Screw you, Disney.
133  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: thunderbird alternative on: April 04, 2013, 05:57:33 AM
Tried The Bat!?
Been there, done that, migrated to Thunderbird.
134  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Six free security tools from Microsoft on: April 04, 2013, 05:56:07 AM
What Jibz said Thmbsup
135  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Registry cleaning software debunked... on: April 02, 2013, 07:56:24 PM
Alignment of HDD matters regardless of the sector size, the bigger the HDD capacity the worse (in term of performance) if a partition is misaligned. I remember I read an article discussing this issue.
Got a link to something backing this up? I can't off top of my head think of a technical reason this would be a problem - the smallest unit a HDD can address is a sector, and as long as your requests are sector-aligned you should be going full speed; I've never seen partitions that weren't at least 512-byte aligned (probably because the old-style partition table entries addresses in units of 512 bytes? Cool ).

I've owned a PC since W95, and the only time I have ever heard about "Alignments" was with the old C64 drives that had head alignment problems over time.  So what exactly is this alignment that you speak of?
Up until a few years ago, a sector was 512 bytes - "lots of people" used to hardcode this number when dealing with raw disk access. Then came SSDs and a bit later we got harddrives with 4k sectors. While the tech and reasons are different between the two, both share the same performance property: if you don't access the the drives native block size, performance suffers badly. Reads are bad enough, but consider what happens if your OS tries to write a misaligned 512-byte data block that crosses two 4096-byte drive blocks? The drive needs to read in those two blocks (8k), merge in the modified 512 bytes, and write back those 8k again. Instead of issuing a single aligned 4k block. Ouch.

It's even worse with SSDs - their read/write addressable blocks are large (typically 4k or 8k, I believe?), but then there's the "erase block size" as well - probably in the range of 256k or 512k.
136  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Registry cleaning software debunked... on: April 01, 2013, 08:22:57 PM
As far as I know, the alignment matter is as important in the case of SSD. Misalignment can happen when one does not prepare the SSD with Windows itself during setup. That was exactly my case in the past when I transfer my Windows (originally install on a HDD) via Ghost image to SSD.
Indeed - you'll want your SSD partitions to be aligned to the SSDs erase-block size - otherwise you'll both lose performance as well as decrease drive lifetime. XP didn't align partitions properly, Vista and upwards should be doing this automatically. For HDDs, I believe alignment only matters if you've got a relatively new drive with 4096-byte sectors?
137  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Registry cleaning software debunked... on: April 01, 2013, 10:32:02 AM
I'm on an XP puter, and I can tell a big difference.  As far as why removing unused reg keys would make a difference, the registry is constantly being accessed by the system and running apps where most all preferences are stored, the difference between scanning a registry that's 60 or 80 MB to scanning one that's been cleaned down to 47 MB AND optimized (defragmentation) makes a whole lot of difference, the CPU don't have to work as hard.
That's plain silly - keys are alphabetically sorted, so they can be searched with binary search... which means that doubling your registry size would require all but one extra comparison. And that's for infrequently-accessed keys, stuff that's used frequently is cached.
138  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Folder protection on: March 30, 2013, 12:51:11 PM
Not sure what OS your using but on XP (and XP Mode) I use Microsoft Private Folder, just don't forget the password!
I wouldn't consider that smiley
139  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Pirate Vinyl Records! :D on: March 30, 2013, 10:25:33 AM
In practice the situation is completely different. The Digital Era has created the plague of the "digital" sound in the worst sense of the word: a cold, cutting, caustic, harsh, metallic sound. I have never heard a such crap coming from a LP. Never.
Blame the musicians and the mastering engineers - not the playback media.

(In addition to that, there's of course subjective preference and the psychological/self-suggestive effects of putting a vinyl on your record player. Just like there's people who violently claim they can tell the difference between Monster Audio cables and electrical wire, even though they produce identical waveforms on an oscilloscope Cool).
140  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Pirate Vinyl Records! :D on: March 30, 2013, 09:47:05 AM
I wonder how accurate that copy is... and what the risk of damaging the original vinyl is?

Also, the obligatory: "pfft, vinyl." - it's great for artwork, but anybody claiming that the sound quality is objectively better than a proper digital format doesn't really know what they're talking about :-)
141  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Registry cleaning software debunked... on: March 30, 2013, 08:40:14 AM
Just recently MS updated Silverlight, when I ran a registry cleaner on Windows 7 afterwards it picked up well over 700 items, nearly all of which were related to the previous version of Silverlight. The files had been removed (or updated) but not the registry keys. XP was nearly as bad.
How much disk space did you save by removing those 700 entries? Even if we assumed each entry occupied 1k in the registry hive file (which I doubt it would), you've saved a whopping 700kb. How much lookup time have you saved? Given the binary-search done on keys and the caching on top of that, I doubt you'd be able to measure a difference.

I understand that it feels wrong having garbage left behind. But the practical implications of this? Roll Eyes
142  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Folder protection on: March 29, 2013, 10:42:06 PM
For me the most missing feature on a ram drive software is 'Allow multiple ram drives'. The one I use doesn't offer this.
Quote
SoftPerfect handles that - I have a permanent (and file-backed) 1gig for %TEMP%, firefox profile and the like, and sometimes I'll create a scratch drive for whatever purposes - I sometimes work with datasets with a huge amount of very small files, it's much faster to do this on a ramdrive than a physical disk (NTFS journals filesystem metadata - i.e. not file data itself, but "create file", "rename file", "delete file", "file has grown/shrunk by XXX bytes").

You know why I can remember the freeware I just mention? Because I use one of the r-tools company product, their R-Wipe&Clean. Man, you should try that, they are very serious in their product. Compare to R-Wipe&Clean many other competitors looks just like toys.
Took a quick sweep over their feature-list, and it seems like a somewhat mixed bunch - I'm not too thrilled seeing a file/free-space wiper being combined with anything else, since it might give the impression those "other things" will also be secure wiped (i.e. IE history, removed registry keys, ...) which I kinda doubt. But I guess it makes sense from a marketing view smiley
143  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Registry cleaning software debunked... on: March 29, 2013, 10:31:15 PM
Tinman57: I'd agree with that back in the Win9x days - not so for NT. I honestly can't recall a "registry cleanup" having effect on speed ever since I moved to Win2k, and with a (granted, somewhat superficial) idea of the on-disk and in-memory data structures used for the registry hives, as well as caching optimizations done, I can't see why it would, either.

Now, there might be some specific situations that can be fixed which could cause slowdowns (references to network shares, system startup items that can be removed, et cetera) - but for a normal system, I'd be surprised to see any quantifiable performance effect just by removing "unused" registry keys/values. And some of the "clean up" too much for their own good.
144  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Folder protection on: March 29, 2013, 07:33:14 PM
Is the SoftPerfect Ramdrive actually install like a drive/device, I mean like when we install a physical drive where all inf file is involved. Or it just run like a program which create a virtual drive after windows bootup.
Yup, it's driver based (don't think you can do a ramdrive without drivers), it supports boot-time ramdisks, saving/loading to image file (and loading image during boot), does differential image save (i.e. only saving modified portions == fast) - and all the other stuff I need. It's not as fully-featured as, say, SuperSpeed RamDisk - but I don't need the additional features (like selecting which type it shows up as, or >4gb support on 32bit Windows), and it's gratis - and fast smiley

You have convinced me, I will try TrueCrypt. I find myself always a bit stingy in giving up another drive no.  Currently I have 14 drive number used up and each one has it special meaning to me. e.g. R for RamDrive, V for Virtual drive, B for Backup. In fact I know another similar freeware (for home use) long ago, but I don't know how good it is compare to TrueCrypt.
Darn, that's a huge number of drive letters in use! Even back when I did obsessive partitioning, I don't think I had more than 5 disk partitions or so. These days I'm down to three disk partitions (the SSD split in 'system' and 'data/docs', and the HDD as a single partition), 'R' for my persistent ramdrive, one DVD-burner and one virtual DVD drive - and when mounting a TrueCrypt disk, 'T' for that (and 'S' for an additional one if I need to move stuff from one disk to another) - but that's the max these days smiley

I wouldn't really use anything closed-source for encryption these days (how many years have I been promising to open-source fSekrit now?  embarassed), and the fact that TrueCrypt is both open-source and works on Win/OSX/Linux makes me comfortable. It also has a pretty clean no-nonsense UI, and generally just works. Don't think there's (m)any opensource Windows products that are still maintained - a coworker mentioned some other product a while ago, but I can't recall which.
145  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Registry cleaning software debunked... on: March 29, 2013, 06:45:38 PM
That's not really "Registry cleaning software debunked...", IMHO - it's "scareware taken for a test drive" :-)
146  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Folder protection on: March 29, 2013, 06:29:06 PM
OK, that gives some protection against the residual plaintext problem. But are you sure your RamDrive product uses nonpageable memory? Otherwise you might be (slightly - depending on ramdisk size) increasing the risk of residue in the pagefile.
I am not knowledgeable enough to see whether the ram drive memory is subjected to Windows paging system, but I can show you this: (see attachment in previous post)
Hmm, dunno - that's a pretty confusing dialog. And it doesn't really seem like their website provides any detail either (just finding the right website was bothersome enough tongue) - they do spend time discussing that each tick corresponds to 32MB, though. (The website currently hosting the ramdrive seems relatively fishy - selling an 'enterprise' version, but using a free web host and gmail address? You might want to take a look here smiley).

Now, #2 is questionable practice, but #3 by itself is enough that I'd recommend people to stay the heck away from this program. It's insecure design, and if something as basic as this isn't done right, one has to guess what else isn't in order.
Man... you have scared me...
I found something that looks like it could be the encryption routine (handles IRP_MJ_WRITE and loops over the data in 512-byte blocks, then the remainder) - I didn't spend a lot of time untangling it, but the code didn't look familiar. I think we can add "homebrewn crypto algorithm" to the checklist, which is the final nail in the coffin.

And once again: try out TrueCrypt. It might be slightly less convenient than Folder Protect (you'll have to manually mount the volume/container, rather than get a "enter passphrase" popup when navigating to a protected location) - but it's tried, tested, and opensource. No magic pixie dust and fantastic claims, just pure old software engineering.
147  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Folder protection on: March 29, 2013, 05:15:57 PM
What I am currently doing is to temporarily place a confidential file which is yet to be encrypted on a Ram Drive and when I am done with my work on that file, I move it into my confidential.rar

I do the above because when my machine is off, I don't even need to worry about temp file left by program or whatsoever.
OK, that gives some protection against the residual plaintext problem. But are you sure your RamDrive product uses nonpageable memory? Otherwise you might be (slightly - depending on ramdisk size) increasing the risk of residue in the pagefile.

The biggest problem I have on both is I can't clearly understand the actual difference between several different products they both offer. I don't even bother to try because I simply have no idea which one is my real interest.
That's usually also a warning sign to me - companies producing extremely minor variations over the same theme with hard-to-discern feature differences? Ugh.

Anyway, I've started looking into Folder Protect. On the plus side, it comes with a driver (flycryptor.sys which I'm currently looking at) - this is at least a positive sign, though not by itself enough to give a stamp of approval (I personally wouldn't even consider this product given that TrueCrypt is around, but it's still worth finding out whether it's a decent program).

A couple of other things so far:
1) You can't move files into a protected folder, only copy them - this kindasorta makes sense given how the operation works on filesystem level, but could break software.
2) When uninstalling, the "magic" disappears, and a protected folder can be seen containing a bunch of "con.xxxx" files - this naming convention is an extreme ├╝berhack ("con" is the name of a device in Windows, and any attempt to access one of the files will give you an error. This is unnecessary for protection, and means you cannot rename, move or delete the protected files after uninstalling Folder Protect.
3) I rebooted the VM with a Linux live-cd ISO, and copied the protected 1-megabyte-of-zeroes file and renamed it so I could access it from Windows. Rebooted, got the file to my host machine, and inspected it with a hex editor. The first 16 bytes repeats at a 512-byte interval throughout the file. Actually, keeping "find next" pressed, the only thing that updates on the screen is the file offset - in other words, each 512-byte block is encrypted separately: ohmy ohmy ohmy tellme

Now, #2 is questionable practice, but #3 by itself is enough that I'd recommend people to stay the heck away from this program. It's insecure design, and if something as basic as this isn't done right, one has to guess what else isn't in order.

I'll keep on digging a bit more, see if I can find out which encryption algorithm they use (oh, that's not listed on their website either, is it? That's also a pretttttty bad sign).
148  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Folder protection on: March 29, 2013, 04:18:55 PM
I assume you mean that someone that stole the machine will try to look for decrypted temp files left by program(s)that work on a decrypted copy of my confidential files, am I right?
Yep - a common thief probably wouldn't do that, but if your stuff is "confidential enough" and you're being specifically targeted... it's a very real concern.

I have been think the same thing, may be I can create a temp folder for all those programs and had that temp folder wiped by a wiping utility periodically.
That won't work, because of the way filesystems work - you'll need to wipe each file individually before deleting... or you can ensure your partition is always fully defragmented, and use a "wipe free space" tool (those can also leave a bit of residue behind: free disk space wiping is a best-effort kind of thing, there's no APIs to handle it - so a wiping program basically has to try allocating the largest possible file it can, then wipe that).

If you use TrueCrypt, none of that is necessary. It works at driver level, meaning your data never hits disk unencrypted(*), and since it's not just an explorer hack, there's no way around this encryption.

(*): again, unless windows decides to swap to the pagefile - or some program you're using likes to make temporary files somewhere else smiley

I just browse through the folder protect program mentioned by dr_andus on their web site, it seems that the program is doing encryption and decryption on-the-fly and not simply a block to the access of the folder.
I'm going to take a look at it in a few minutes - the information on their website doesn't leave me with a very good feeling; there's no mention of just how the protection is done, which is a big warning sign when dealing with protection software... and the ease with which using it on a portable USB drive is described also rings some warning bells. But I'll take a look smiley
149  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Folder protection on: March 29, 2013, 03:53:57 PM
It's not a recommendation, but just saw something called "Protect Folder" on sale at BitsDuJour today, in this sort of area...
Quote
Protect Folder lets you protect files, folders, and removable drives using a secure password, on-the-fly. With Protect Folder, there's no need to manually encrypt and decrypt files as you go about your business - instead, the program automatically performs encryption and decryption, silently and quickly, in the background as you work.

Haven't looked at that program, but my gut reaction to a claim like that is "stay the hell away" - a false sense of security is worse than no security.

Currently, my confidential data files are encrypted in a WinRAR file. Let's say someone stole it, it is really that easy to decrypt it? I mean, no matter what password I use?
Afaik RAR uses AES256 encryption - if you use a strong passphrase, the RAR archive should be safe enough (given that they haven't made any stupid security bloopers). This workflow means that you'll be extracting the files temporarily, working on them, and RAR'ing them back up - that would make the data very easy to retrieve if somebody stole the machine or its harddrive.

Treat me a newbie and tell me  whatever you think I should be aware in term of keeping something confidential on my PC (which of course is linked to the outside world with internet)
One could argue that it depends on how confidential something is - to me, confidential means "doing things right", which also means guarding against a stolen harddrive.

Programs offering "folder level protection" (and marketed) as such are likely to only offer only mediocre protection (like, using shell extensions to block access), and not do any kind of encryption (thus being useless against offline attacks).

TrueCrypt is tried-and-tested security, it's free and opensource, doesn't leave unencrypted residue around(*), and Just Plain Works. Yes, it does mount the encrypted partition or container-file as a drive letter - but if you can point your programs to a specific folder, you should be able to point it to the root of a drive (or a subfolder there) as well?

It has a bunch of auto-dismount options (logoff, power saving mode, idle-for-X-minutes, ...), it has panic key for the paranoid, et cetera.

(*): there's still the possibility of windows deciding to swap out memory to the pagefile, which can be a real problem - but you'd still have that with any other approach as well, and it's not as severe as recovering an entire plaintext file as the "extract-work-compress" workflow opens you up to.

150  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: The Supreme Court makes a rational decision! on: March 29, 2013, 03:30:35 PM
Does this apply to pharma meds?
Probably doesn't matter - given patents and the FDA smiley
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