May 31, 2007

Microsoft Surface - Multi-Touch Table

This thing is crazy cool!




Convert Pictures to ASCII art

I found a really cool site while Stumbling on my lunch break. It converts any jpg picture (must be 60 x 50 pixels) to ASCII Art!

bauer-power logo in ascii

If you want to give it a try, click the link here: www.typorganism.com

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May 28, 2007

War on Terrorism II

This a fun 1st person shooter game that lets you pretend to kill terrorist scum!



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Another Nick Burns Video

Happy Memorial Day! Here's another goody from good ol' Nick Burns, the company computer guy!


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Thanks for your donation!

You seriously rock! Creating, and maintaining Bauer-Puntu Linux is a tough, and time consuming hobby. People like you are what makes doing this worth my while! I of course am not making Bauer-Puntu for the money. I do it for the love of Linux and technology. Making Bauer-Puntu is basically my way of sharing the Linux love the best way I know how!

If you liked Bauer-Puntu enough to donate, please tell your friends about it. Word of mouth is the best way to spread the news of cool stuff in my opinion. That is one of the reasons I started writing on Bauer-Power! I hope to keep this blog going for a long time. Once again, thank you for your continued support!

 

yourock

NSA on the 4th Amendment

This is a humorous video on the NSA's knowledge of the constitutional amendment that is supposed to protect us from them...


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May 27, 2007

3D Pong

I found this really cool 3D Pong type game while using my Stumbleupon toolbar. It is called Curve Ball. I hope you like it.







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Another Reason to use Ubuntu Instead of Vista

If you were still on the edge between upgrading to Windows Vista or not, let's revisit the Ubuntu Linux alternative. Here is a cool video of Ubuntu using XGL which shows that you can have the same cool animations and 3D desktops as Vista, except you get all of this for FREE!

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The Truth: God Created The Earth Using Command Line

I found this Bash History file while surfing with Stumbleupon today. It is completely ridiculous, but funny none the less, especially if you know a little something about Unix/Linux or even remember the good ol' days of DOS. [celobox.googlepages.com]


Bauer-Power, God Bash History File

Click Here to Check it Out!

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May 26, 2007

Secrets of the C.I.A.

This is a very interesting documentary on some of the secrets that you may or may not know about the Central Intelligence Agency.



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May 25, 2007

Ubuntu on a Dell?

Sure, it doesn't sound that crazy to those of you who installed ubuntu on your Dell yourself, but now, you can order your new Dell PC or laptop with a fresh copy of Ubuntu 7.04 already installed and certified on a number of Dell products.

You can more read about it Here!

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Encrypted E-mail for the Non-Savvy

I wrote a while back about free OpenPGP email encryption using GnuPG, and how you could litterally take any e-mail service you used and secure it using PGP encryption. For some of you, having to download, install and configure something like that is too hard. Some of you may just be lazy, others not very technically savvy, either way, there is an even easier option available to you.

There is a free, secure, web-based e-mail service that offers secure OpenPGP e-mail. It is called Hushmail, and it is completely free to use. All encryption and decryption is done on the fly and completely transparent to you, so you don't have to think too hard about it. If someone you know uses PGP, you can upload their public key to the hushmail server using HushTools, and likewise, PGP users can download your public key so the two of you can send secure encrypted e-mail back and forth.

"But if anyone can download your public key, how secure is it?" As I mentioned before when talking about GnuPG, OpenPGP uses PKI, or public key infrastructure which according to Wikipedia is very secure since it, "...enables the parties in a dialogue to establish confidentiality, message integrity and user authentication without having to exchange any secret information in advance, or even any prior contact." In short, you don't have to worry about the "password" being intercepted on the way to your partner because no secret password even needs to be transferred in the first place.

One cool feature that Hushmail offers, that regular GnuPG doesn't though, is the ability to transmit a secret message to someone without them having to even use PGP. If the two of you establish a secret question and answer, you can send someone a message that they can decrypt later by answering the prearranged secret question. They call that kind of cryptography, secret key cryptography which isn't as secure as PKI, but it's better than nothing.

So quit sending your e-mail on virtual post cards so wrong people don't read you're e-mails, and start sending them in virtual envelopes, envelopes made with strong encryption.

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May 24, 2007

Why Use Gmail?

The Google engineers put together this funny little video on why to use Google's email system, Gmail...



Before you switch over though, read my post on securing Gmail.

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Linux: Free Operating System

You see, almost daily, those funny, witty commercials from Apple about how hip and cool it is to have a MAC, and how lame it is to have a PC. Of course, Microsoft fires back with their new Wow campaign, but not as hard as Apple because lets face it, Microsoft is top dog and they don't really need to do to much advertising. The funny thing is, with all of this bickering between Apple and Microsoft, most people don't realize that there are more than those two flavors of operating system available. Just like there is more than just chocolate and Vanilla, there are other choices in operating system.

Think about it for a minute. Let's say you still have an old Pentium III computer, with 256MB of Ram, running Windows 2000. You see these commercials and you realize that you are behind on technology and it really is time to upgrade. Now let's talk turkey for a minute. If you want to use MAC, you have to run out and spend about $2,500 for one of their iMAC desktop computers, because MAC OSX doesn't work on PC (Not without some serious hacking.) Okay, so maybe MAC is out of the question for you now. Let's think about Vista for a minute. Even Windows XP wouldn't run very fast on your current computer, so that means you have to buy a new PC too, with enough physical and video memory for it to operate efficiently, so you are looking at approximately $1500 just for the PC, which may or may not come with Vista. You also have to consider that your current software may not be compatible with Vista, so that means upgrading your software as well. It all adds up very quickly.

I'm here to tell you that there is a cheaper, and more viable solution. It comes in the flavor of open source, and it's name is Linux. There are many distributions of Linux out there, not all of them are free. Redhat Linux for instance is a very popular distribution, but it isn't free. Others prefer Gentoo Linux, but with that one you really have to know what you are doing because you literally build it yourself from the ground up. My favorite distro out there, and most others favorite as well according to Disrowatch's page hit rankings, is Ubuntu Linux.

Ubuntu is a really straight forward, user-friendly operating system that comes with just about anything you need already installed. You need office software? Open Office is already installed. You need something to edit your photo's? The GIMP is already installed. Something you need is not installed? Check the Synaptic Package Manager and do a search for it, you will be able to check a box and it will be installed over the Internet. If you don't know how to do something on Ubuntu, just open a browser and search for it on Google, there are all sorts of forums, and tutorials for anything Ubuntu available online.

Maybe you are a systems administrator, and have been tasked with building a new web server, or database server, or mail server, etc. Ubuntu's server version is free too, and you know what else? So is the support for it. You can also select the pre-configured L.A.M.P. (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) during server installation so you don't have to load all of those components separately which can be a real daunting task.

If you don't want to upgrade your hardware at all, you can probably get by on running Xubuntu, which is a lighter, more minimal version of regular Ubuntu and doesn't require as much processing power, or memory.

Do you have kids? There is an Ubuntu version out there built especially for kids, with all sorts of tools for homework, and learning games already built in. That one is called Edubuntu.

Maybe you are already familiar with Linux, and you like the KDE interface. No sweat, Kubuntu is the version you need.

You're options are pretty much wide open when it comes to Ubuntu, so in closing, my recommendation would be to save your money on the software side (i.e. operating system, and software upgrades) by using a free Linux operating system, and spend your upgrade money on the top of the line hardware.

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May 23, 2007

Cool New Logo!

Some of you may have noticed that I have finally designed a decent Bauer-Power logo! The old ones I tried out with the thumb print and the other biohazard symbol didn't agree with me. Especially when I got my hat in the mail from The Bauer-Power Shop and I couldn't make out that it was a biohazard symbol.

Anyways, after spending a few hours on the PC last night with an evil eye from my wife because I was spending too much time on said computer. I cranked out a better biohazard Bauer-Power logo using The Gimp.

Behold!


bauer-power biohazard logo: www.bauer-power.net
All items in the Bauer-Power Shop have been updated. Enjoy!

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The Art of Keylogging

I found a juicy little application yesterday, that I'm sure you all will like, or at least be somewhat interested in. There are many things you can do with such a utility, mostly subversive, but also morally sound. Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that In some states (and some countries, for my international readers) use of such software may be illegal. I do not encourage or condone the use of any software in violation of applicable laws. Please check your local laws before use of this software.

With that out of the way, let me give you some scenarios to think about:

Scenario One: You have a teenage daughter around the age of 13. She has lied about her age, and signed herself up on Myspace and is absolutely obsessed with maximizing her friend quantity. She is adding everyone in sight as her friend, when she adds Joe Predator as her buddy. Joe Predator is a 40 year old software developer looking for some underage action (See Dateline's to catch a Predator). He starts chatting your daughter up, and telling her how pretty she is. She, being the naïve, and impressionable young lady that most teenage girls are falls for Joe's wit and charm hook, line and sinker. The next thing you know she schedules a meeting with Joe, and becomes an unfortunate victim.

Scenario Two: You've been happily married for seven years. All of a sudden though, over the last few months, your spouse has been working late every night. He/ She says not to worry, it's just because there is a new "project" they are working on that requires the extra hours. You have also noticed that they are spending an unusual amount of time on the computer and online chat rooms, places that they never went to before. Another month passes by, and all of a sudden, your spouse leaves you and your children for someone else. The person they have been cheating on you with. The person they met using an online dating service.

Scenario Three: You are a hacker, and you need to obtain someone's password in order to crack their account. I think you know where I'm going with this one...

Well, the juicy little program I found yesterday can help you with one or all three of the above scenarios. It is what is known in the business as a keylogger. Just as the name suggests, it will log all keystrokes on a computer for you to review later. With this you can see what websites they are going to, what programs they are using, wheat e-mails they are typing, who they are emailing, who they are chatting with and of course, what passwords they are using.

The program I am recommending for this today is called Actual Keylogger 2.4 and is absolutely free. It runs in the background so no one knows it is recording keystrokes. It saves all information in an encrypted log file that only you can access using a password. Only the person with the password can decrypt the log. You can also hide the program in the program's settings, by removing shortcuts from the desktop, program menu, removing it from add or remove programs, and even hiding the program folder itself.

For home users it will be easy to install. For users at work, it might not be so easy if you don't have administrator right, but as I mentioned before, there are ways to get those rights. You may also have to disable antivirus or antispyware software in order to use it, or at least set the programs to ignore it so it doesn't tip off the mark.

It really is a cool little program, certainly has it's uses. If you had it on your computer for the scenarios above, you could monitor your teenage daughter's online activities, catch your spouse cheating, or obtain the secret password so you can hack into the Gibson!


May 22, 2007

Is the NSA Tapping You?

I was browsing around one of my favorite conspiracy sites on the internet last night when I found a link to this Wired blog Article talking about how to detect if the NSA has setup an illegal wiretap on your internet connection. Keep in mind that the article I found is a few years old, so the information may be out of date, but it still gives you something to think about.

Anyhoo, here's what you do. For Windows users, open a command prompt and type tracert nsa.gov then press enter. You should get something like this:

C:\> tracert nsa.gov

1 2 ms 2 ms 2 ms 12.110.110.204
[...]
7 11 ms 14 ms 10 ms as-0-0.bbr2.SanJose1.Level3.net [64.159.0.218]
8 13 12 19 ms ae-23-56.car3.SanJose1.Level3.net [4.68.123.173]
9 18 ms 16 ms 16 ms 192.205.33.17
10 88 ms 92 ms 91 ms tbr2-p012201.sffca.ip.att.net [12.123.13.186]
11 88 ms 90 ms 88 ms tbr1-cl2.sl9mo.ip.att.net [12.122.10.41]
12 89 ms 97 ms 89 ms tbr1-cl4.wswdc.ip.att.net [12.122.10.29]
13 89 ms 88 ms 88 ms ar2-a3120s6.wswdc.ip.att.net [12.123.8.65]
14 102 ms 93 ms 112 ms 12.127.209.214
15 94 ms 94 ms 93 ms 12.110.110.13
16 * * *
17 * * *
18 * *

If you are a Linux user, open a terminal, and type traceroute nsa.gov then press enter. You should get something like this:

# traceroute nsa.gov

1 2 ms 2 ms 2 ms 12.110.110.204
[...]
7 11 ms 14 ms 10 ms as-0-0.bbr2.SanJose1.Level3.net [64.159.0.218]
8 13 12 19 ms ae-23-56.car3.SanJose1.Level3.net [4.68.123.173]
9 18 ms 16 ms 16 ms 192.205.33.17
10 88 ms 92 ms 91 ms tbr2-p012201.sffca.ip.att.net [12.123.13.186]
11 88 ms 90 ms 88 ms tbr1-cl2.sl9mo.ip.att.net [12.122.10.41]
12 89 ms 97 ms 89 ms tbr1-cl4.wswdc.ip.att.net [12.122.10.29]
13 89 ms 88 ms 88 ms ar2-a3120s6.wswdc.ip.att.net [12.123.8.65]
14 102 ms 93 ms 112 ms 12.127.209.214
15 94 ms 94 ms 93 ms 12.110.110.13
16 * * *
17 * * *
18 * *

The string you are looking for is sffca.ip.att.net. If that is there, you are being watched. Make sure you take the proper precautions. Use the encryption techniques I have previously blogged about, and keep an eye out for the black choppers. That is of course, unless you are a terrorist, then I hope you get caught!

May 21, 2007

Hey Brits! Beware: Big Brother is Watching You

Man I am glad I live in the US. At least the United States Government has the decency to spy on you covertly. In the UK, the Government puts it right in your face..."We are watching!"

I found this startling article on DIGG. It looks like the the UK underground needs to start thinking of a few new ways to get around the prying eyes of Big Brother...

read more | digg story

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Bloggers Rights



There are people, and companies out there that don't like bloggers. They don't like what bloggers have to say especially about issues dealing with copyright "gray areas."

If you are a blogger, and are concerned with your rights as a blogger and/or a journalist, then you should check out the bloggers rights page over at EFF.

Some of these are outlined on their bloggers main page. Here are some of them quoted directly from EFF:

Bloggers can be journalists (and journalists can be bloggers)

Bloggers are entitled to free speech

Bloggers have the right to political speech

Bloggers have the right to stay anonymous

Bloggers have freedom from liability for hosting speech the same way other web hosts do

That is all I am going to say about that right now...

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Audio Video Player Freeware

Have you ever downloaded a video clip, or put a DVD into your computer to watch, only to find that the built in Windows Media Player does not support it? Many times I have too. The problem is that the built in media player doesn't have all of the necessary CODECs (CODEC stands for COMpression DECompression) to play every format out there. Windows lets you get the CODECs for a small fee though to use with their built in Media Player.

I'm here to tell you that you don't need to fork over any more money than you already have to Micro$oft. They already got you with the outrageous cost of Windows Vista and Office 2007, I think they are good for this year. I'm going to talk about a free CODEC pack, and a player that will play just about all media types, and the lofty price tag on this puppy is a whopping $0.

I am talking about the K-Lite Codec Pack, which comes complete with Media Player Classic, a free media player that plays just about everything including native Linux audio like OGG. It will play DVD's, AVIs, MPEGs, MP3, MP4 you name it, it will probably play it. When you play video files, you can even play them in full screen mode.

The next time you pop your DVD player in, and it won't play, don't go out and buy Microsoft's CODECs, and don't buy a software DVD Player like Ultra DVD. Stay home, and download the K-Lite CODEC pack for free.



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May 20, 2007

Nick Burns: Company Computer Guy!

Nick Burns is my hero!


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May 19, 2007

Stopping Spyware

Wikipedia defines Spyware as "...computer software that collects personal information about users without their informed consent." Some of it is worse than others. Most of it is used by marketing companies to track website usage to tailor advertisements to match your surfing habits. Others are a little more intrusive and can harm your computer.

I find that a lot of people are completely oblivious to spyware, and it's affects on their computers. Most average users have only heard of antivirus, and pay no consideration to an antispyware solution. I have on numerous occasions taken calls, or went to some one's house asking me to do something about their computer running so ridiculously slow. 9 times out of 10, their systems are riddled with spyware.



So what are you going to do about it? I'll be honest, I don't mind being paid $50 an hour to come over and clean up your computer, but let's face it, you can do it yourself for free.

Two of the best antispyware solutions on the Internet are free, and if used together with your antivirus program (By the way there are free versions of those too), you can keep your system relatively clean. Some of you already know the secrets I am about to reveal, and probably don't think they are secrets at all. For the rest, you have never heard of either of these, and to those people...You're welcome!

1) Spybot Search & Destroy: This little utility is absolutely free of charge, and if you read the license, is not only restricted to private use. It is donation ware, so if you feel obligated, please donate to their cause. It is really great and is updated regularly. You can also schedule it to autoupdate with certain command switches, and you can also schedule it to run at certain times. What's that smell? It smells like automation!

2) Adaware SE Personal: This utility by Lavasoft is only free for personal use, so that's right...You can't add it to the corporate Ghost image legally. According to Lavasoft, Adaware scans"...your RAM, Registry, hard drives, and external storage devices for known data-mining, advertising, and tracking components." Since it isn't the pro version, you can't easily automate Adaware. For automation, you have to buy their pro version.

As I mentioned above, it is best to install both programs together and run them both. One will catch what the other missed and vice versa. Complete the trinity with your antivirus, and keep your computer running at maximum efficiency.

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May 18, 2007

Stop Illegal Spying in America

For those of you who know me personally, you know I'm as right-wing as they come, but that doesn't mean I don't like my privacy. Help EFF stop Illegal Spying in America.



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Flash Asteroids Game

It's kind of like asteroids from Atari except with better Graphics. I hope you like it :-)









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Pimp Your iGoogle With These Greasemonkey Hacks

While surfing around Digg today, I found this post about ways to make iGooge (The personal Google Home page) pop if you use Greasemonkey! If you use iGoogle as your home page like I do, you know how ugly it can be (Especially now that they have added the navigation bar at the top!). So check out these tips, and tidy up your home page!



read more | digg story

May 17, 2007

Tales from the TrueCrypt

I mentioned this once before in a previous post, and in that post I said I would be blogging about it a little more in depth. Well, here it is, I am blogging about it now, so you can let go of the horses your were holding.

In that previous post, I mentioned that I used TrueCrypt to create an encrypted volume on my USB drive, but it can and does go way beyond that. It can create a small volume with in an existing volume like I did with my USB thumb drive, but it can also encrypt the entire thumb drive! That's right, full thumb drive encryption! It can do the same on a regular hard drive as well.

TrueCrypt uses AES-256, Serpent, and Twofish encryption algorithms to secure your data, and it does it fast and on the fly so the whole process is transparent to you. Once you create your volume, you are set. You mount the encrypted volume using TrueCrypt and it shows up like a second hard drive under My Computer. Just drag and drop stuff in as usual. When you aren't using it, un-mount it and your data is as secure as fort Knox.

Another cool thing about this program is 'plausible deniability.' What is that you ask? Let me give you a for instance. Let's say you use this little work of art at work. You are storing your love letters from your girlfriend or boyfriend in there so nobody will laugh at you for calling him or her "Booboo schnoooky lumps." Anyways, your boss figures out that you have an encrypted volume on your computer and demands the password to decrypt it or lose your job. What do you do? Give your boss the password or lose your job? If you use TrueCrypt, you can give him the password, and I'll tell you why. You can create a hidden volume within an already created volume. You can place your sappy love notes in the hidden volume, and give the password to the outer shell to your boss. He opens it up, and see's that you are just hiding sensitive work data in there so prying eyes don't get a hold of it, but he won't see the hidden volume. Now you are a hero!

The last cool thing I will mention about this, is that you can create a volume on a network drive too, and you don't have to be an administrator of the file server to do it. The only problem with it is if you are not the administrator, you can only create FAT32 volumes on network drives (FAT32 have a 4GB file size max so no you can't store your pirated DVD's there).

The one major drawback to this program is that you have to be a local administrator in order to even run the program, this includes if you have installed it on your USB drive in traveler mode. If your company lets you be a local admin, then no biggy. If you are using it at home, chances are good that you are the local admin. If you are on a computer where you aren't a local admin, there are ways to give yourself those permissions.

So, if you are the type of person that stores all of your bank info, and passwords in you’re My Documents folder, then create a TrueCrypt Volume in there, and move that stuff to it. It might just save your life!

May 15, 2007

Super Mario Forever

So here I am sitting in my Windows 2003 Server class in school, listening to my instructor Brent jaw on and on about domain structure, and how to use the "New Trust Wizard". Blah blah blah. booooorrrinnngg! Half of you just fell asleep reading that I'm sure.

So I do a little Google search for a free game to pass the time. I played some of the open source ones I told you about before, but I wanted something else. I wanted something that would take me back to me childhood. Well I found it in Super Mario Forever.

After you install, you can start playing. It plays in full screen. The graphics are pretty good (better than the real Nintendo version anyways).

Sure, it isn't up there with XBox, or PS3, but it certainly passes the time in Brent's server class.

Alternative Explorers

For many Windows users out there, one of the things they hate about it is the built in file explorer that comes with it. It is too basic, and doesn't have too many features with it. For Linux users, you already know that there are a bunch to choose from. You have thunar, nautilus, konquerer among others. Windows users, don't have too many to choose from. It actually took me a few hours of Google searching, and checking out places like SourceForge, Download.com and Softpedia before I came up with three free alternatives to Microsoft Explorer.

The first one I found is ExplorerXP. It is a pretty versatile explorer program that offers tabbed file browsing, and also displays the total file size of each folder. It also features an easy to use toolbar for easy access to My Computer, My Documents, Recycle bin and desktop. Some other features include a multiple file rename tool, a file merge utility, a built in file cleaner (shredder) and configurable shortcuts.

Number two on my list (Don't worry, I only found three that I liked) is Windows Explorer 0.6.0. This program is fairly similar to ExplorerXP. It doesn't have tabbed browsing, but you can open multiple folders in separate panes. It offers full drag and drop support, and offers picture and text file preview.

The best one I tried though combines the best of both, and also adds preview support for not only pictures and text, but also Microsoft Office Documents. It has tabbed browsing, like ExplorerXP and full drag and drop support. It is called XYplorer. This is the one I highly recommend if you are looking for an alternative to explorer with the most versatility. The only drawback is that the latest version comes as shareware only, but don't worry. I have provided the last freeware version for you to download HERE!

The built in explorer is great for simple things such as opening and closing files, renaming etc, If you are a power user though, and are looking for something a little more robust, check out one of the explorers I mentioned above. Try them out and find out which one will suit your needs best. If you find any more, or have any to recommend to me, please leave me a comment.

May 14, 2007

Starwars Help Desk

Another great Help Desk bit...

Medieval Help Desk

Take a look at what my ancestors went through...

Remote Administration: Tools of the Trade

For those of you out there that are system administrators, and for those of you that aspire to be system administrators, you probably know that without the ability to remotely administer a server or workstation, your life would be 100 times more difficult. Like in the early days of computers, you would physically have to move from computer to computer to do anything. They call that type of network, a "sneaker net" network because of all the walking.

I am going to mention a small, yet versatile set of free utilities that let you can use for free. Originally, these tools were developed by a man named Mark Russinovich. Many in the IT community know these tools came from Sysinternals. Like, most successful software companies, Microsoft bought them out. (If you can't beat 'em buy 'em).

These tools are still available by browsing to their old website (of course you get directed to Microsoft's servers), and they are still free of charge. There are a number of freeware utilities available on their site, but today I will only talk about PS Tools. PS Tools are a set of command line utilities that let you remotely "do stuff" on remote systems. You can also use these commands on local systems if need be. Below is a list of the tools, and what they do*:

•PsExec - execute processes remotely
•PsFile - shows files opened remotely
•PsGetSid - display the SID of a computer or a user
•PsInfo - list information about a system
•PsKill - kill processes by name or process ID
•PsList - list detailed information about processes
•PsLoggedOn - see who's logged on locally and via resource sharing (full source is included)
•PsLogList - dump event log records
•PsPasswd - changes account passwords
•PsService - view and control services
•PsShutdown - shuts down and optionally reboots a computer
•PsSuspend - suspends processes

Once you play with these utilities long enough, you begin to really see how useful they are. These tools really make it easy for automation as well Since they are command line tools, writing a quick batch file script is a snap! Check them out for yourself, and get to know them. They might just save yourself some time. Not to mention, everything looks cooler when you do it from command line!

*Taken directly from Microsoft's Website

May 12, 2007

Computer Nerd Enjoys a Brat

I know, I know, this blog is primarily for finding out about cool free software or other computer tips and tricks, but it is Saturday, and not too many people are at home or at work to read my blog anyway. If you are, great! Thanks for stopping by!

So anyway, my wife and I were at the park with our daughter today, and my daughter asked if she could have a hot dog. I immediately had an idea to go to the new hamburger and hot dog joint that opened up the street from us call Windy City Beef.

Now, I'm not from Chicago (Though I spent a little time up there when I was in the Navy) but I love a good hot dog, or a nice brat every once in a while. What we got, really blew me out of the water.

The brat I ate was probably one of the best I have ever had. My wife, Mary, had herself a Windy City Hot Dog that was as they say "Dragged through the garden." It was built using Vienna Beef hot dogs in this order: Yellow Mustard, bright green relish, fresh chopped onions, two tomato wedges, a kosher pickle spear, two sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt. All of this on a steamed sesame seed bun! Outstanding.

So if you are ever in the El Cajon/La Mesa area, I think you should check them out!

www.WCBSD.com

May 11, 2007

Painting with the GIMP

How many of you out there like to take pictures? Now, keep your hands raised if you like to take those pictures and edit them to make them look better? Now, keep your hands raised if you are willing to spend $1500 for the full version of Adobe Photoshop in order to do some serious editing on those pictures and images. Why did you all put your hands down? Don't worry, I did too.

I don't want to spend that kind of hard earned dough on that, frankly it isn't that important to me. I will however use a program that is free, and you should too. Like just about any program out there, there is an open source answer to it. The open source answer to Photoshop is the GIMP. (Gimp stands for Gnu Image Manipulation Program). GIMP is available for Windows, MAC and of course Linux.

Now, close your eyes and think about what you can do with Photoshop. Got a picture in your mind? Perhaps making logos with transparent backgrounds, or airbrushing away a blemish or two. Maybe even creating an animated GIF. Still got that idea in your head? Guess what, GIMP can do it too. Guess what else, GIMP is free!

So the next time you want to put your face on the $1.00 bill, or make a picture of your best friend in a dress, check out the GIMP, and save a few bucks.

May 10, 2007

Bauer-Power Gear!

I signed up for my own CafePress store. Now you can help support my blog and sport the latest in Bauer-Power fashion! Get your Bauer-Power gear today!

Adding Digg Buttons to Blog Posts

I found this little article on how to add the digg buttons to all of my posts. As you can see, there are buttons in the upper left of all my posts. The reason i can do it is thanks to this blog I found while searching Google. If you are a blog writer, and like to use digg to generate traffic to your posts, you should check out this very well written "how-to" on adding the digg button!



read more | digg story

USB Apps: Portable Productivity

About a week or so ago, I misplaced my USB flash drive. It didn't really have anything too important on it, but I was still pretty upset. I loved that thing. It was only a 1GB drive, but that was good enough for what I used it for. Anyways, I had to get a new one, so I decided to upgrade a bit. I went out and got a 4GB flash drive, and it just came in the mail yesterday. I immediately planned out how I was going to use the additional space. I set aside 1 GB for an encrypted volume using Truecrypt (I'll blog about it later). I put a folder for miscellaneous items I need to save, or transport. Lastly, I created an applications folder. That's right, you heard correctly, an applications folder. A directory where I can place portable applications that I can run on any computer.

Yesterday, while searching the internet I found a virtual goldmine for free USB applications at portableapps.com. Other ones I found while perusing Google. I am going to share each one that I have on my USB drive with you right now. Most of the following are portable versions of the original software.

1) 7Zip: This is a free compression utility like WinZip. This is good if you find yourself on an older system that doesn't have the built in zip utility like Windows XP, or if you want better options when creating a zip file like password protection or encryption.

2) ClamWin Antivirus: You did read that correctly, this is a portable antivirus that will download the latest updates to your USB drive, and will scan your computer for the latest virus and malware threats. It's great for IT guys that need to battle it out with a virus, like Constantine battles it out with demons.

3) FileZilla: This is a portable FTP client that also supports FTPS encrypted file transfers. This is great if you have an FTPS server, and can't use a regular browser to transfer files.

4) Firefox: A portable version of the famous browser. You can set you settings like skins and home page and take it with you wherever you go. If you are at a public library that only has the dreaded Internet Explorer, you can whip out your more secure Firefox browser on your USB drive.

5) OpenOffice: For you college kids out there that need to get your term paper done, and only have the limited library search computer to work with. You can plug this in and have a whole office suite at your fingertips including word processor, spreadsheet, slide show and more. All completely compatible with Microsoft Office as I mentioned in an earlier post.

6) Sumatra PDF: Perfect if the computer you are using doesn't have Adobe Reader installed and you have a PDF from the internet or some place else you need to review.

7) TrueCrypt: I will go in depth on this encryption utility in a later post. Take my word for it though, it is really awesome, and you can use it in "traveler" mode by running it on a USB drive. The only draw back is you have to be logged in as an administrator to run it.

8) TightVNC: This is a portable VNC client that you can use to remote into a VNC server.

9) Ultrashredder: A portable, secure file shredding program. You can set the number of times you overwrite a file before deleting it up to 20 passes (I read somewhere once that data is unrecoverable after 9 passes, but that is just hear say on my part).

I'm sure there are many other USB applications out there, and I think I will have a good time looking for them. In the meantime, I will be playing with the ones mentioned above! If you know of other good ones, please feel free to leave a comment with ones you have tried.

May 9, 2007

Bauer-Power was down: Sorry about that!

ERROR 404
Page Not Found


Earlier today, my blog along with someother "blogger" blogs were down with the dreaded 404 error. Sorry about that. Not sure what went wrong there. I couldn't find any links to complain to blogger.com about it or else it may have been back up sooner. Once again, I am sorry.

Games: A Cure for Boredom at Work

Unlike most people, I don't have a lot of time to mess around. I am constantly taking phone call after phone call, or answering tickets submitted into our ticketing system all from people who have mild to serious computer issues. Every once in a while, I get the oddball call where someone wants to play a game on their PC, or install their iPod software. So I know all too well that some people out there really don't have anything better to do with their time.

This post is for all you slackers out there looking to get an escape from your job through the wonderful world of video games. There are a few sites you can go to to play free flash games, and there are even free games you can download and install yourself (That is if your company gives you administrator rights, otherwise you may have to bribe your IT guy).

Some of the best sites I have found for games include:

Arcadepod
Liquid Arcade
Legit Games

Party Casino


All you have to do to find these sites though is to do a Google search for flash games.

For some games you can download and install, I found some open source beauties for you at good old Source Forge. The first one is The Classic Arcade Pack, which is a small pack of classic 80's games which include Pong, Snake, Asteroids, Space Invaders, Pac Man and Tetris. Another really cool one is called Oblivion, where you fly a space ship and shoot up other space ships, and the graphics aren't too bad. The last one I will talk about is called Space Butcher 2, which is a lot like Oblivion except you're flying horizontal and not vertical in your space ship.

There are other games out there for your PC, you have to be careful not to install anything that will harm your computer. Lots of so called game packs come pre-packaged with spyware or ad-ware that can harm your PC. If a game installation requires you to install a toolbar or something else besides the game, cancel the installation and get a different one.

The next time you're bored at work, try either one of the sites I mentioned, or download one of the games. Remember, if you can't install the software yourself, don't call IT, they won't help you goof off at work.

May 7, 2007

Open Source Alternative to M$ Office

I had a native American History class a few years ago at SDSU. In that class there was a lady that was also in my Natural Disasters class. We were discussing the power point slides for one of the two classes and how the instructor provided them on the school's blackboard website. The only problem was that she couldn't view them from home because she didn't have Microsoft Powerpoint at home. I of couse, felt that there was no excuse for this. Why does everyone feel that Microsoft is the begin all and end all of software? Because Microsoft has a helluva marketing team, that's why.

I let her know that there was an alternative out there, and that it is free. I am talking about OpenOffice! Many people on the internet already know of this, but just as many still haven't heard the news. There is an Open Source office suite complete with word processor, spreadsheet software, database and yes, even a presentation software. What also makes this free suite so great is that it is compatible with all versions of Microsoft Office 2003 and below. That means that my classmate could view the teacher's power point presentations using this new suite. She was over joyed to learn of the software, and she may have even passed the class thanks to yours truly. Another great thing is that OpenOffice is available for Windows, Linux and Mac!

So if you have been looking for an office solution, but didn't want to shell out the $370 for Office 2007 Standard, then you need to think outside of thebox, and start thinking OpenOffice!


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May 6, 2007

Doing the Family a Service

Since my name is Bauer, and also due to the popularity of the hit show 24 on Fox, My site has been getting a lot of hits for Jack Bauer screen savers and other 24 themes.

Me being a big fan of secret agents and secret government agencies, of course I can't turn my back on the great CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) for which my own family member (Jack) works.

I have stumbled across a great site with 24 desktop icons, screen savers and wallpaper. So for the fans of 24 who have showed up here looking for such things....You're welcome!

Click here for 24 related computer items.

Don't forget to come back though, and tell your friends!

Break Away from Limewire

How many of you use Limewire to download music, software, videos and sometimes viruses? Millions I am sure. Limewire is a fantastic program for peer to peer file sharing. The only catch? It's not free. Limewire Pro costs $18.88. Limewire does have a light version but to get all of the good stuff, you have to pay for it.

Being as how I don't like to pay for software if I don't have to, I prefer to use a different Gnutella client for my file sharing goodness. I like Frostwire, an open source Gnutella client spun off from the community of Limewire.

You read that correctly. Frostwire was created by community members of Limewire? What for? Because Limewire was forced to implement copyright protection into their program to prevent you from sharing or downloading files without the proper license.

Frostwire has all of the same functionality, including the "Turbo Charged" connection without the cost. Also, it is skinable. You can download different skins to change the look and feel of Frostwire.

Save yourself a buck. The next time you decide to look for a file sharing program, save $20 and go for the open source solution. Get Frostwire!

May 5, 2007

Vista Light. Tastes Great, Less Annoying

Vista is out now, and it is a really pretty operating system. Lots of bells and whistles, and even less intuitiveness that ever before. It has more security features, than any previous distro from Redland. So what's the big deal?

If you decided to upgrade to Vista today, you have to take a look at your current hardware. Many people would have to buy a whole new computer in order to get the full benefits that Vista has to offer. You also have to look at your current software situation. Many applications that are running on your Windows XP or Windows Vista system are not Vista compatible, so you will have to upgrade your software as well. What does that all mean? Money! You need to have a lot of money to upgrade to Vista.

Like most IT guys, I'm not planning on upgrading until Microsoft gets most of the bugs out. I am content to wait. Especially since Windows XP is still a pretty good operating system, and If I really want to work on something better than XP I have the latest version of Ubuntu in VM Ware. However, no one can deny that the look of Vista is really pretty and attractive. So what can you do to tide you over until you have enough to upgrade? You transform XP is what you do!

You can make Windows XP look almost just like Vista complete with the gadget sidebar for free with the Vista Transformation Pack. It changes you icons, boot screen, welcome screen, tool bar and everything else so you get the full look and feel of vista. All of it, without upgrading anything else.

So check it out, and be patient. Wait for some of the major Vista bugs to be worked out before you upgrade.

May 4, 2007

Gmail Secure?

I am what you might call a little bit of a paranoid nut. I supposed it is because I'm in the I.T. industry, and have a mindset for security. Anyways, I am Gmail user. I love it, and everything about it. It was one of the first free POP3 systems to use TLS for e-mail clients as far as I know.

Anyways, when I was looking at my Gmail account today from their web interface I noticed that it defaults to http://mail.google.com and not to httpS://mail.google.com. What does that mean? You may ask. It means your e-mail is not secured. As you know, https is used for web based SSL encryption to protect your data over the web. If you are browsing to a website with only http, you don't have any encryption to protect you. That means that the "man" can monitor your e-mail traffic coming from your web browser to the web server, and that is not a good thing. Does Gmail support SSL encryption through their web interface? The answer is a resounding YES! Just browse to https://mail.google.com or https://gmail.com and login as usual.

One might argue that when they browse to mail.google.com for the first time that it does default to https. This is only true if you have not logged in. As soon as you login, you are transferred to http.

If you have any bookmarks, or links that you use to get you your gmail web interface, make sure you add the S, to make it secure :-)

Feel the Burn!

I don't know about you, but I'm a CD and DVD burning freek. I am constantly burning stuff. I'm always burning software, and music to CD's, and I'm always burning movies (Home movies of course), backups, and everything else to DVD. I love it, and just can't stop.

Lot's of people have pay-for software like Nero or Roxio for their burning needs, but they can get kind of pricy. Seriously, if you are too cheap to buy a movie, then you probably can't afford software like Nero or Roxio anyways. Don't fret, Bauer-Power to the rescue. I'm going to tell you about two absolutley free burning programs that I use all of the time, and quite frankly, I think they work better than Nero or Roxio.

The first one I will talk about it CD Burner XP Pro. This little puppy is primarily made for burning CD's as the name suggests. It can burn audio disks, data disks, burn from ISO and create ISO images as well. There are settings for DVD on it too. For a free program, this is the most like Nero out there in my opinion.

My favorite for burning DVD's comes from the creater of DVD Decrypter. It is called ImgBurn (Pronounced I-M-A-G-E B-U-R-N). This is constantly being updated, and can be used to burn both ISO, BIN, IMG and NRG images among others. According to it's website, it is even Blu-ray compatible. The main features of the program are:

* Read - Read a disc to an image file
* Build - Create an image file from files on your computer or network - or you can write the files directly to a disc
* Write - Write an image file to a disc
* Verify - Check a disc is 100% readable. Optionally, you can also have ImgBurn compare it against a given image file to ensure the actual data is correct
* Discovery - Put your drive / media to the test! Used in combination with DVDInfoPro, you can check the quality of the burns your drive is producing


If you are looking for a good burning program and your budget is a whopping $0, then you should check out CD Burner XP Pro, and/or ImgBurn. If you need to find labels for the CD's or DVD's you burn, then I recommend taking a little visit to CDCovers.cc.

Enjoy!


May 3, 2007

Print Jobs Won't Delete from the Print Queue!

Today a user called me up because she couldn't print. The problem was apparent when I went to take a look. She had a print job stuck in the queue, and the rest of her documents were lining up right behind it.

I tried to delete it, but all it did was sit there saying deleting indefinitely. What the heck was going on?

Lets get one thing straight, this is not going to be a freebie post on where to get free software, this is one of those tips and tricks. Lots of administrators know exactly what to do in this case, but do you?

Here's what I did:

1) I remoted into the print server using Remote Desktop.
2) I stopped the print service ( I like the command line method: net stop spooler)
3) I browsed to %systemroot%\system32\spooler\printers and deleted the stuck file in there.
4) I started the service again (again with the command line: net start spooler)

Bingo! The job was deleted and she could print again. Luckily I have my easy button from Staples handy.

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May 2, 2007

The iRack

whether or not you support the war, this is pretty funny...


Don't feed the Pidgin's!

Let's dive right into the fun stuff. That's right, no pre-amble, no mumbo jumbo. Just pure unadulterated fun stuff. I'm talking about things we do on the computer for fun. There are several things right? Games, myspace, email etc. I'm going to talk about instant messaging! We all have our favorites right? My cousin and my brother like Yahoo messenger, while some of my friends prefer ICQ or IRC. Personally, I'm an MSN guy myself. So what are you supposed to do? Install three or four instant messenger clients on you computer? You can, but then they all eat up resources and eventually slow your computer down.


No, the solution is to get a client that will handle multiple Instant messaging services all bundled into one client. There are a few out there, Trillian is one, but to get all of the good fetures you have to pay for it. Let me introduce you to Pidgin. You may have heard of it by it's former name, GAIM. Pidgin services multiple instant messaging services ( AIM, Gadu-Gadu, Group Wise, ICQ, IRC, MSN, QQ, SILC, Simple, Sametime, XMPP, and Yahoo). Of course, like everything else I write about it is 100% free.

The only problem I see with Pidgin is that there is no video conferencing support like with the new MSN Messengers (More accurately Windows Live Messenger), or Yahoo messenger. The old version of the program, Gaim had a version that supported video and voice conferencing. That version is called Gaim-VV and is currently only available for Linux.

So do the math; multiple IM clients equals multiple processes running simultaneously which equals slower computer. Less Clients equals less processing power requirements which equals faster computing. If you are looking to consolidate IM clients, and aren't concerned with video conferencing, then you should probably check out Pidgin.

May 1, 2007

Printing to PDF for Free

Not everyone is a tech guru, or just a slight geek like me. Infact most people don't realize the full potential of their computers and they only do simple office tasks like read e-mail and create excel spreadsheets. That is perfectly okay!

I realize that in my previous posts, you might have to be somewhat technically savvy to understand what I'm talking about. I mean, most users can barely spell FTP, let alone know what it is. I will try to throw in reviews about regular software from time to time for those out there that don't speak nerd. This blog entry is one of those reviews.

Many people out there want a low cost, yet highly effective way to create PDF documents, but don't want to shell out $200 to $400 dollars to Adobe to get it done. They want to be able to easily convert their word documents, or maybe e-mails or excel spreadsheets into PDF. There is an easier way, and even better, a cheaper way.

PDFCreator is an open source application that works like a virtual printer. When you install it, it shows up in your printers and faxes as a printer. To create documents, you simply click File, Print and select PDFCreator as your printer. A dialog pops up asking you where to save it and what to name it. It litterally is that easy!

Lot's of so called free PDF creators out there put there logo at the bottom, but not this one. This one prints out a beautiful and clean PDF document everytime. So the next time someones wants you to send them something in PDF format, create it in Word, and print it to PDF.




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