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Mar 31, 2008

Strange VBA Error in MS Excel 2003

This post is real quick, and I am only posting it because one of the help desk guys was having the damnedest time trying to find a solution to this on Google. Apparently all of the forums out there have people experiencing this issue, yet nobody has a solution. That or, the solution is on a site like Experts Exchange, and you have to pay for the answer.


Anyway, we had a user who would get the following error in Microsoft Excel 2003 whenever she hit Control-C to copy and paste:

Microsoft Visual Basic
System Error &H80004005 (-2147467259). Unspecified error


I first had her close excel, then I made sure no other excel processes were running in the background. Then I had her open excel again, this did not solve the problem. I then had her reboot, and when her machine came back up the error happened right away when opening excel.

I closed excel, then re-opened it. This time Excel notified me there was a problem with one of her add-ins. It was an add-in for Euro money conversion. She didn't need it so I disabled the add-in and it worked fine.

If you are having the same problem, or know someone else who is, check their add-ins. If you know of a way to fix the add-in itself, let us know in the comments!

Mar 25, 2008

Open Source Alternative to AutoCAD

Hey guys, I thought I would take a quick break from studying for Security+ to do a post. I found a really cool open source alternative to AutoCAD, which as you may or may not know is a really, really expensive design program. Companies use AutoCAD to design all sorts of things from machinery to buildings. The full version of AutoCAD costs upwards of $4,000. The light version of AutoCAD costs a measly $800. That may not seem expensive to you, but to me that is crazy expensive.

Well, you all know me and what a cheap skate I am. I personally follow the motto, "If it is free, it is for me!" That especially goes for software. I am a big fan of freeware, and particularly open source software.

This software is no different. I like it because it is free. It is called gCAD3D, and comes in flavors for Windows and Linux. From the website:

gCAD3D has its own
  • import-/ export-programs,
  • integrated 3D-OpenGL-viewer,
  • programinterpreter for geometry and NC-commands in 3D,
  • integrated NC-processor.
  • programminginterface for userprograms (plugins)


Here are a few screen shots so you can have an idea of what they can offer you:


free alternative to autocad

free alternative to autocad

free alternative to autocad
Now I am not a designer so I personally have no use for AutoCAD, but a lot of people in my company use it a lot. Have you used AutoCAD? What do you use it for? Do you think you could use gCAD3D instead? Let me know in the comments.

Mar 20, 2008

Not Posting For A While

Hey folks. You probably have already noticed that I have been slacking like crazy on Bauer-Power. I used to update daily, but recently only a few times a week. That, or I will bring up an older post to the top for you guys new to Bauer-Power.

First of all, I am sorry I haven't had my head in the game. I have really been focusing on work and school lately so the blog has taken a back seat in my list of priorities. Now to add to the clutter, when I first started this blog I mentioned that I was studying for my Security+ certification. Well, this blog has seriously got me sidetracked from that goal and I blew off studying. I have decided to get back with it and start studying. That means I won't have a lot of time to write here.

Now, I will still try to post when I can, so please keep checking back, but don't expect daily content as you just won't be getting it. If any of you out there have taken this test, let me know if you have any tips in the comments.

Mar 17, 2008

Spybot Search and Destroy...For Mobile?

I am a big fan of Spybot Search and Destroy. This little freeware wonder has saved my butt a few times, and has even helped me make a buck or two. When I used to do home and small business IT consulting, 90% of my business was spyware and virus removal. Often times all I had to do was install Spybot on a home users PC and run it for a quick buck. Or I would burn it, along with some other free tools, and give it away as a "Bauer-Power Consultation Security Pack" for marketing purposes.

Anyhoo, getting back on track, on Friday I was on the SpyBot website and noticed that they had versions of Spybot for Windows Mobile, Pocket PC, and Symbian devices. I didn't realize that spyware on mobile devices was that big of an issue requiring an Antispyware. Actually, I guess it isn't. According to the Spybot site, most malware for these devices is proof on concept right now, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared for the future.

Spybot Search and Destroy mobileIf you want to check it out for your device you can download them from here:

Spybot - Search & Destroy for Symbian UIQ 2 0.3.0

Spybot - Search & Destroy for Windows Mobile Smartphones 0.3

Spybot - Search & Destroy for Windows Mobile Pocket PCs 0.3

Mar 14, 2008

Stop Using Your Deleted Items as Another Storage Folder For Email!

This is pretty much a rant post. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I am in the process of restoring mailboxes from our oldest email backups for an upcoming court case. So I have been busily working on this project for the last few days, and now I am restoring mailboxes. Half of the people I am restoring have gobs and gobs of email in their deleted items folder. WHY!?!?!?


Isn't the purpose for having a deleted items folder is to have a place to put junk you don't want any more? Sure, I can see keeping stuff in there for a few weeks in case you have to restore an email you deleted, but after that...Dude, time to clean it out!

Pull Hair OutThis one particular mailbox I am restoring right now has over 4000 emails in it! Now keep in mind, this is before my company had mailbox limits, and policies to clean out deleted items after a while. Now if you want to keep it, the last place you want to put it is your deleted items because we will clean that for you. Back when this backup was done, we didn't have such policies in place, so cleaning your mailbox and deleted items was on the honor system. That is great unless you are a pack rat (like company lawyers tend to be).

Anyhoo, this was pretty much just a rant. Don't use your deleted items for storage, and you and I will get along splendidly.

Mar 13, 2008

Looking To Save Hard Drive Space? Clean Out Your Duplicates!

My wife, God love her, is a photographing dynamo. I think it all started when I bought her a new digital camera for Christmas two years ago. I really created a monster. Since then, I can't seem to keep my hard drive from filling up. When I look to see what is taking up all of the space it is her photos! But it isn't just that, sometimes she will make copies of her photos and put them in other directories so she can doctor them up in Photoshop, or Picasa. Often times, she will create more than just one copy.

Now lets skip to my work, each office has a shared network drive, and each user has their own "home" drives. Often times, people will save both to their home directories and the shared directory. The users think they are separate drives, but in reality both directories take up the same storage space on the server.

TriplettsSo what is the common thread with both of these stories? Duplicate files! That's right, storage wasting duplicates! My man Karl over at Ask The Admin touched on a cool command line utility to check for duplicates called FindDupe. That program is pretty cool if you like the command line (Who doesn't right?). What about for the average Joe? Average Joe doesn't want to learn command line switches. They want to run a program, check some boxes and click some buttons right? This is the 21st century, we can use GUI now and again right?

That is where Duplicate Files Finder comes in. It is a free, open source GUI utility for finding duplicate files (There are command line functions with this too for you die hard types, and scripters). It is available for Windows and Linux. Here is the description from Source Forge:

Duplicate Files Finder searches for duplicate files by comparison of the file contents. Other features: fast search, many search options, support for symbolic links and hardlinks, interactive graphical and command line user interface.


Use of this application couldn't be easier to use. Just select the directory you want to search. Check a couple of boxes, and away you go!

What do you use to look for duplicate files? What do you do to help free up drive space? Let me know in the comments!

Mar 12, 2008

Creating Images with Drive Image XML

I mentioned in a previous post that if you can use the Ultimate Boot CD for windows to create custom, deployable computer images similar to Symantec’s Ghost

except it is 100% free. So what do I mean by images? Let’s talk about it for a minute.

Let’s say you are in a room, and you have a Polaroid camera. You spin around the room taking pictures of every wall, every corner, every ceiling etc. Now, you take all those photos and save them in a shoe box for later. A week later your boss says that they need you to build another room just like the one you took pictures of. (Now keep in mind this is just an analogy), you have two options. You can run down to the hardware store buy a ton of building supplies, drywall, paint etc, and you can spend a few weeks or months building the requested room, or you can take all of those photos and glue them all together to make an exact replica of the room, and have it done in a few hours. Sure, that wouldn’t work in real life, but that is the idea behind images.


Symantec GhostYou can take a Windows install CD, and manually install the operating system, configure it for your network, install all the programs, patches and service packs. That may take a few hours. Now multiply it by how many computers you have to setup for your network. Or you can install Windows, the programs, etc, then create a “snap shot” of the hard drive and copy that “snap shot” to other computers in a matter of minutes. That is the reality of creating deployable images.


So, here is what you do; you install Windows and all programs and get it set the way you like it. Then you take your Windows 2000 or Windows XP CD and browse to the tools folder and find deploy.cab (Or download it from Microsoft.com) and extract the contents of deploy.cab to c:\sysprep. Create a sysprep.inf file using setupmgr.exe. Once you have the sysprep.inf file, run sysprep.exe and check the box to use mini setup, and then click OK. Your computer will then shutdown or reboot depending on the option you select. I recommend before clicking OK, that you insert the Ultimate Boot CD in your disk drive. I know Drive Image XML will work on Vista, but the sysprep procedures have changed. You will have to Google how to use sysprep with Vista.


Now that Windows has been packaged, and you have booted up to your Ultimate Boot CD, enable network support. After networking is finished, open My Computer, and map a drive to a network share where you want to save the image (you can skip this if you are going to save your image to a local hard drive). You need to map this so that the Ultimate Boot CD caches your login credentials for later.


Once that is finished, open up Drive Image XML, and select the options to backing up a drive. Select your C: drive and when prompted for where to save the image file, use the UNC path to the file share you mapped earlier NOT THE DRIVE LETTER! (If you are using a local hard drive, then just select the drive letter). Now back up your drive.


Once the drive image is finished, you can boot other computers (They have to be the same make and model) using the Ultimate Boot CD. Map the network share as before, then open Drive Image XML. This time select the restore option and follow the prompts. Before restoring, there is a link to open Windows Disk management. Open it up, and delete any partitions you have on the drive you are going to image, then reformat and mark the drive as active (You will get some errors about having to reboot, these can be ignored). Close out of disk management and continue with the options for restoring the image. Once again, you will need the UNC path to the network share, and not the drive letter to restore. Depending on the bandwidth of the network, and the speed of the computer, imaging can take 10 minutes to an hour give or take. Once complete, take out the disk and reboot. The computer will go through a little mini setup, and if you configured the sysprep.inf correctly, it should all be automated. After it is all said and done, you now have two or more fully installed operating systems complete with an applications and customizations. Well done!



Keep in mind, this isn’t step by step, in fact I am writing this strictly from memory. Some things may not be so intuitive at first, but play around and figure it out. That is what I did, and that is the best way to learn.

Mar 10, 2008

Ripping DVD's in Ubuntu

For the longest time if I wanted to rip a movie in Ubuntu I would use DVD Decrypter that was installed using WINE. I just couldn't find a good enough open source Linux program that would do the trick. That is until yesterday.

I have to admit, I did try this particular program before and it kept erroring out. This time, on Ubuntu 7.10, it worked like a charm! This program is called K9Copy. Much like DVD Shrink, it will rip the movie to your hard drive, then shrink it down to DVD5 format.

Here are some of it's features from their website:

  • Pirate Jolly RogerThe video stream is compressed to make the DVD fit on 4.7 Gb recordable DVD
  • DVD Burning
  • Creation of ISO images
  • Possibility of selecting the audio tracks and subtitles to be copied
  • Title preview (video only)
  • Possibility of preserving the original menus


I have tried other Linux rippers in the past. Many of them only rip to VCD format, or to mpeg and AVI. Still, others only rip the movie and leave out the menus. Some people like that. I on the other hand want to keep it as much like the original as possible. Isn't that what creating a "backup" is all about?

Anyway, k9Copy worked like a dream. It's interface was very intuitive, and easy to use. Installation was easy too in Ubuntu 7.10, as long as you have all of the back ports open. I easily found it in synaptic package manager.

Do you know of any other good Linux DVD rippers? Let me know in the comments.

Mar 6, 2008

Recovering A Domain Password

Often times people will call a help desk because they have forgotten their password. I know this because I worked at help desk for three years and those kind of calls came all the time. In that type of situation, most help desk agents will just reset the password in active directory once they have verified the identity of the user calling in. Simple right?

There are some times when you need to know that password, and not just change it. For instance, if the user has any encrypted files. By resetting the password as an administrator for a user, that can break the encryption key pair used to encrypt those files. So how does one obtain that users password?

rainbow tableI know of one way. That way involves using a little gem of a program called pwdump2 and using the Rainbow tables on Plain-Text.info. I wrote about using Rainbow tables before a while back. It really is a fast way to crack passwords.

What you need to do is, RDP into your domain controller with a domain administrator account. Download pwdump2, and extract the contents. Open a command prompt and change directory into the directory you extracted the pwdump2.zip contents into. Create a one time scheduled task for a few minutes into the future, and have it run the run.bat script in that directory. The reason for this is that pwdump2 will error out when ran using a terminal services session. This has been fixed in pwdump3, but I think pwdump2 is easier to use. The script will generate a pwdump.txt file for you (You're welcome!).

bpower:1266:e52cac67419a9a2238f10713b629b565:64f12cddaa88057e06a81b54e73b949b:::

[Note, the user's name will replace bpower.]

Now copy everything after the username, and browse to http://Plain-Text.info. Click on the "Add Hashes" link on the left. Paste the hash in the box, choose lm from the drop down box, enter the captcha code and press send. In about five minutes or less you should see the password on the top of the list. It really is that simple.

There are other ways of doing this. If you do it a different way, let me know how in the comments.

Mar 5, 2008

Installing Backtrack Linux to a USB Thumb Drive

A few months back, when I was doing to series on my Capstone class for school, I wrote about installing Backtrack Linux to your hard drive. For those not in the know, or for those that didn't read my article, Backtrack Linux is a Linux distro based off Slackware Linux, and is designed for pentesting, and hacking. It normally comes as a live CD, and is pre-packaged with all sorts of hacking tools and scanners.

I don't know about you, but I don't like walking around with CD's in my pockets. They are just too cumbersome. What about a USB stick? Most of us, techie or not, carry around a USB flash drive now days right? I mean, they have pretty much replaced floppies, and CD's as the preferred method of transferring files via sneakernet.

Backtrack Linux on USBSince you already have a thumb drive in your pocket, why not install Backtrack Linux on that? It is really very simple. The following instructions were taken from PenDriveLinux.com:

  1. Download the USB BackTrack version
  2. Extract the Boot and BT3 folders to the root of your USB device
  3. Navigate to the Boot folder on your "USB device" and click bootinst.bat (click continue if the following error appears)
  4. Backtrack Error

  5. Follow the onscreen instructions to make the device bootable
  6. Once the USB install script has finished, reboot your computer and set your BIOS or Boot Menu to boot from the USB device.


Could it be any simpler than that? I think not! If you are a Thumb Drive Linux person, let me know what flavor you are using in the comments. If you have never heard of this before, try it out and let me know how it goes!

Mar 4, 2008

Entrecard Contest Results

February is over, and that means so is my Entrecard contest. This was the first contest I have ever offered, and I have to say that I was pretty disappointed. Maybe it is because every other blog out there is offering an Entrecard contest, and so it has lost it's appeal? I don't know.

Well I didn't have one winner, I had a tie (However I think it is the same blogger, just two different sites.) I tried contacting the blogger to ask if he definitely owns both domains, but he never responded back. That leaves me no choice but to split the 1000 Entre Card credits between the two sites. Here are the winners (by blog URL):

Parent Life - 500 Entre Card Credits
Top Entre Drops - 500 Entre Card Credits

Wait, this just in, I just checked the blogger's profile, and he certainly does own both sites, therefor it is really one winner. His name is Andy!

Congrats!

Mar 2, 2008

Security Policies and Procedures

I am in the final weeks of a security policies and procedures class in college. We have three final projects to do before the end of the course. The current project I am working on is developing security policies and procedures for a small business. I decided to go it easy and develop a policy for a fictitious small, local non-profit consisting of five employees, and five volunteers. Only the five employees have computers, and they all share on small business server. Simple right?

you are being monitoredWell anyway, one of the things my professor said was that we do not have to re-invent the wheel with these procedures. That is great news because there are tons of examples online for all sorts of policies and procedures for information security. One of them I want to share with you.

If you ever have to write security policies for your company, I highly recommend checking out SANS. They have a plethora of pre-written policies for information security. Often times they are very generic, and easily customizable for your company. Besides policies, SANS offers other really cool resources such as security white papers, security news, certifications etc.

What resources do you use for writing security policies? Let me know in the comments (I still have two more projects do).



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