Why I Hate Windows No. 35707

My Windows password (on my work laptop, I no longer have a personal Windows computer) expired and I had to change my password otherwise I wouldn’t be able to login or even send out my daily status reports. Unfortunately, it turns out that the task is more difficult than I imagined. Every time I try to change my password, I get the message: Your password must be at least 8 characters, cannot repeat any of your previous 13 passwords and must be at least 7 days old. My new password satisfied the first two requirements but I couldn’t figure out how a new password must be at least 7 days old. And my old password is definitely more than 7 days old. A frustrated call the the help desk didn’t answer the puzzle. Instead they just gave me a pattern for the password: 8 characters and a numeric character must be in the middle. Totally unrelated to the error message.

Windows 7 Beta

My sister needed to install some medical courseware and it only runs under Windows so I took it as a chance to check out the recently released Windows 7 Beta. I had problems accessing the official site but after some searching here and there, I was finally able to procure a copy.

I installed the beta on my IBM Thinkpad X22 (it’s goodbye Kubuntu, for now). My Thinkpad only runs at 800MHz and has just 640MB and 40GB of RAM and hard disk, respectively. But it actually, surprisingly ran the beta reasonably well. We were able to run OpenOffice, Firefox, Quicktime, Flash, Acrobat Reader, Yahoo! Messenger, Skype, and the medical courseware with no problems at all. One or two at a time only though.

Looks like Windows 7 is going to be better than Windows Vista. Well definitely, since it seems to be just Vista with the problems fixed :P

RegEdit and Task Manager

RegEdit and Task Manager are two useful Windows tools for managing your computer. RegEdit allows you to edit the Windows registry, a global configuration setting repository. Task Manager, on the other hand, allows you to start and stop applications and processes among others.

What’s one use for these tools? Malware cleanup. Typically viruses, worms, and other malware would be hooked up into your registry to run upon Windows startup. You need to stop the malware process using Task manager. Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete, Select the Processes tab, choose the malware process, and click End Process. Of course you’ll need to know the name of the process. If I don’t, I would normally just stop everything I can and then run regedit :P

Once the malware process is (hopefully) stopped, you would want to be able to  edit out  their entries in the registry using RegEdit. Click Start->Run…, type “regedit”, and press Enter. Typically malware startup values would be under “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run”). Just carefully delete them.

Now here’s a  problem: Some malware disables both these tools. The solution? Use alternate tools that provide the same or even bettter functionality such as RegAlyzer and Task Killer.

Disabling Autorun

One big cause for your computer getting infected by viruses, worms, and other malware would be Window’s autorun “feature”. Plug in a hard disk, optical disk, memory card, etc and autorun launches and runs a program. Guess what that program usually is? Yup, malware.

So one of the easiest ways to protect your computer is to simply disable autorun. There are many ways to do it but by far, this procedure from annoyances.org works best for me:

  1. Click Start->Run…
  2. Type “regedit” and press Enter.
  3. Navigate the tree on the left pane to “My Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies”
  4. Expand “policies”
  5. If there’s no “Explorer” folder, right-click “policy” and select New->Key. Type “Explorer” and press Enter.
  6. Open the “Explorer” folder.
  7. If there’s no “NoDriveTypeAutoRun” entry on the right pane, right-click on it and select New->DWORD Value. Type “NoDriveTypeAutoRun” and press Enter.
  8. Right click on “NoDriveTypeAutoRun” and select Modify
  9. Enter “ff” on the Value Data Field and select Hexadecimal for Base. Click OK
  10. Close Regedit
  11. As with anything you do in Windows, restart your computer.

Voila! No more autorun.

Why Linux Sucks

There are many reasons to love Linux. But there are also many reasons to hate it. And this is one of those reasons.

I’ve been trying to refresh Selene, my Thinkpad X22, since I returned my office-issue Thinkpad T60. I figured Linux would be a good idea as it had Kubuntu before and I was reasonably fine with it. Unfortunately, the only Linux installer I have on hand is Fedora Core 4 (circa 2005). It installed without a hitch BUT I was stuck with Firefox 1.0 which doesn’t support a lot of those Web 2.0 stuff out there.

I tried automatically updating Firefox but apparently the FC4 repository is no longer being maintained. It only contained a point release. My next recourse was to manually download and install Firefox 3.0. But it flat out doesn’t work. Missing library or something. I tried updating the library but, you guessed it, the repository is no longer being maintained.

I turns out that once a new version of the distro is released, the old version’s repository is available for only about a year and then that’s that. This means you need to reinstall your OS once a year! I could probably get things manually updated and working one way or the other but it would just be too much hassle.

Now contrast this with the much older Windows 2000 Professional which installs fine, gets updates fine, and runs Firefox 3.0 just fine, thank you. Now if only I can get rid of the damn spyware that keeps infecting it.