Windows Vista Home/Business/Enterprise has a telnet client, too

For some unknown reason, Microsoft decided that only the “Ultimate” version of Windows Vista ships with the telnet client installed by default. It can, however, be easily installed on all the other versions as well.

  • Open the Control Panel
  • Select “Programs”
  • Select “Turn Windows features on or off”
  • Scroll through the list, select “Telnet client”
  • Press OK
  • Wait (for surprisingly long)

That’s it, voila, the telnet client is now installed on your Windows Vista Non-Ultimate.

A first look at Google Chrome

Just played around with Google Chrome. First impression: Wow! This is definitely going to encourage development of other browsers as well!

It feels lightweight, fast for JavaScript applications, and offers some nice features (I especially like the possibility to open an “anonymous window” which will forget all cookies etc. when being closed without being forced to delete all other cookies as well.) Tabs can be dragged out and dropped back into the browser, something I’d always wanted Firefox to be able as well.

Each tab runs within its own process and Chrome offers a “Task Manager” (Shift-Esc), which will display memory usage, CPU usage and bandwidth consumption for each tab, which I consider very handy.

Chrome is available for Windows only at the moment, but is expected to be released for MacOS X and Linux as well. I am really curious how this is going to develop and if this is going to really affect “the Internet as a whole” (I really believe Google has gained enough market power to push their products).

Nice to know – Volume 1

As I definitely should post more on my blog, I now try to start a new series: “Nice to know”. It will be a collection of interesting things I consider memorable but which don’t deserve their own blog-post.

Trickle

Tricke allows you to limit bandwith for processes that do not support bandwith limitation out-of-the-box. It works by preloading and simulating the socket API. You use it as a wrapper when starting the process, like trickle -d 80 someapp.

You can use it to limit rsync speed for instance (thanks to http://www.yak.net/fqa/404.html): rsync -auvPe “trickle -d 80 ssh” user@host:/src/ /dst/

VMWare Tools and Kernel 2.6.24

VMWare Tools out of the box do not install on kernel 2.6.24 (as used in Ubuntu 8.04 for instance). A possible solution is described here. It is based on using the open-source version of the VMWare tools (open-vm-tools).

TrueCrypt 5 is out!

ImageAfter quite some time, a new version of my favorite encryption tool is out: TrueCrypt developers have released version 5 of their product, introducing a new killer feature (among others): System Volume Encryption with pre-boot authentification (only Windows 2000/XP/Vista). This means, that TrueCrypt will encrypt everything on your system drive, including page- and hibernation file, finally making hibernation a safe and easy possibility.

I am going to look into this next week, as I need my notebook on Saturday (just in case anything goes wrong).

Update 2007-02-08: As my first commenter below points out, it seems hibernation is disabled by TrueCrypt while having your system partition encrypted. I don’t really understand why at the moment, but I will investigate further. For me this is a primary show-stopper, as this was the long-awaited functionality I was waiting for.

Nitpickers Cornerยน: Of course I am aware why encryption and hibernation in general are no-goes together, but I don’t understand why this is an issue when full-system encryption is enabled.

Update 2007-02-08 (again): Ok, in this TrueCrypt forum thread they explain why they cannot support it at the moment: Windows treats the hibernation file differently, it seems to bypass the TrueCrypt driver and therefore would still write keys to disk without encryption. Ok, still get to wait for my dream feature then, but I still refuse to buy PGP ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks to the developers for their great work anyhow!

ยน a tribute to Raymond Chen ๐Ÿ™‚

[tags]security, encryption, truecrypt, windows, linux, osx[/tags]

CrossLoop: Free and easy remote assistance

Screenshot von CrossLoopToday I had to give quick support to a colleague working from home in order to resolve a networking issue. This was the perfect situation to evaluate CrossLoop, a free remote-assistance tool similar to NetViewer (but, as mentioned, free).

The experience was nice, it just worked “out of the box”, after installing and sending me the access key, the connection was established despite our firewalls in between. It is easy enough I would trust almost all customers to get it working. I’ll have to evaluate how the software behaves if you don’t have administrative privileges on your system.

Crossloop is based upon TightVNC and as a consequence you get the typical feeling of a VNC session, which is not as fluent as NetViewer, Remote Desktop, or similar, but it was more than enough to work on the issue at hand.

So if you are searching for a low-cost (i.e. free) alternative for quick support of family members, co-workers, or even customers, you should give CrossLoop a try. CrossLoop currently is only available for Windows, but Linux and Mac versions are planned.

By the way, CrossLoop just got a 3-Million-$ Series A investment, so hopefully this service will continue to exist for some time.

[tags]vnc, crossloop, remote access, software[/tags]

Writing articles using BlogDesk

Image

I am currently evaluating BlogDesk, a Windows-only software for offline blog editing, supporting a wide range of different blogging systems, including WordPress (the system this blog is running on).

The main reason, why I am trying to switch from using the integrated online-editor of WordPress to a dedicated software, is speed and offline availablity. Lately I tend to work offline again, because I got a nice little notebook which is able to run on battery for quite some time. I now tend to use the time I’ve got for instance when riding a train. And I want to be able to use this time and publish some posts. BlogDesk online editor is very speedy, it is more responsive than using the online editor. One also tends to concentrate more on the content and less on the layout, because there is no preview possibility.

Additionally, BlogDesk encourages using images in your blog posts, because it makes it easy to incorparte them. It warns you if your images are going to be too big and it provides some ncie effects like the drop shadow used in the screenshot above. Images can be inserted from an URL, a file or the clipboard. They will be uploaded when publishing your article.

Unfortunately, BlogDesk does not support tags in WordPress 2.3+ yet. But I am sure they will come.

BlogDesk is free, but the source code is not available. As mentioned, it is Windows only, but it works very well. I’d recommend you to give it a try it if you are using Windows and are contributing to a blog.

Online Backup using JungleDisk and Amazon S3

Recently I featured Mozy, a tool for automated online backup on Windows and Mac. I finally got round to using a different solution: JungleDisk, a WebDAV frontend for Amazon Simple Storage Services (S3).

What I really like about the software and the company is that they don’t claim that their data will be safe forever at their location. They confess it is possible for a company to vanish. In order to prevent you from being locked out they have outsourced the storage to Amazon, which provides cheap storage on a “pay what you need” basis.

JungleDisk provides encryption of the documents using AES and only you can decrypt them. To be on the safe side you’ll always be able to retrieve your data, they have released parts of the code covering filename-mangling and encryption under GPL.

JungleDisk is available for Windows, Linux and Mac. As said, they provide a WebDAV frontend so any WebDAV client can interact with it. It also features a local cache to prevent needing to download a file on every access. There is also an automated backup routine.

Costs are reasonably. At the time of writing, JungleDisk costs 20 US-$ once, with promised life-long updates and patches. All you need to pay for is Amazon fees for your usage, which are at 0.15$/GB/month, 0.10$/GB inbound traffic, and 0.18$/GB outbound traffic. You see, you can store lots of data for around 10$ per month.

One big minus-side of this is that Amazon’s data-centers are very slow from Europe, I was able to achieve around 700-800kbit/s (90-100kB/s) from our office connection. On the pro-side, due to the caching and background transfer, you don’t notice that the transfers are so slow, unless you need to download something. As I am using it for automated backup, I hope to never have to download anything.

So if you are searching for an offsite backup solution, you should definitely consider JungleDisk.

Syncing your Firefox: Google Browser Sync

How could I miss this so long? Google Browser Sync keeps Firefox‘ bookmarks, sessions, cookies, tabs and even passwords (if you really want to) in sync. As I constantly switch between multiple computers, this is really a nice thing to have. You need to have a Google account, but as I already use Google Reader and Calendar, I already have one. In order to hide your data from Google (as if this mattered due the amount they are already collecting about us) you can protect the information by a password (PIN).

I’m currently trying it out and up to now I am very pleased with it. One more reason to stick with Firefox ๐Ÿ™‚

Collaborative document editing

A quick side note: during a research for collaborative tools I came around two promising-looking tools: Gobby and CoWord.

Gobby is a dedicated editor for allowing multiple users to edit a set of text-documents (like source-code, etc.) simultaniously. Everyone sees what the others are doing in the current document.

CoWord promises the same but uses Microsoft Word as underlaying editor. This basically means a group of users can edit a document simultaniously.

Up to now I have not had time to try any of these tools, but I am planing to do so soon. Of course there are lots more tools for collaborative editing. A very comprehensive list of collaborative editors is available on Wikpedia.

Affordable offsite automatic backup for Windows and MacOS

I just discovered Mozy (via TechChrunch), a service for automating the backup process by automatically storing all your data encrypted on their server for backup purposes. It is a Windows software that automates the backup process and provides secure online storage. According to the specification you can either use their encryption key or provide your own public key for the encryption.

Mozy comes in two flavors, a version for home-users which they call MozyHome (4.95$/month for unlimited storage) and a service for businesses, called MozyPro, which bills 3.95$ per computer, but also 0.50$/GB per month. I think the service would definitely be interesting but the storage costs seem to high for me. There is also “MozyHome Free” which provides you with free 2GB of backup storage. Maybe the recent purchase by EMC Corporation will change the pricing list (honestly, I don’t think so…)?

The idea of storing my confident data or even corporate data on remote servers not under my control is a little bit frightening, but in case you are able to believe they have not built a master-key in the software, it might be a nice option for offsite backups which definitely everybody should use. Maybe one should give the “MozyHome Free” a test-drive… Too bad there is no Linux version available.

If I can convince myself to try out the “MozyHome Free” I will write another report here.