From WinXP to Windows 7

Monday, 5 October 2009

My home machine used to be pretty state of the art, but that was a few years ago now. It has an Intel D865PERL motherboard. When I first got the machine, I used the built-in RAID to strip the two SATA disks together to get better I/O performance. This has proved quite stable, but unfortunately Windows 7 does not natively support the Intel 82801ER SATA RAID controller (the Windows 7 Upgrade advisor will warn you about this).

So armed with this knowledge, I bought a brand new 1Tb SATA disk (a Hitachi HDT721010SLA360) and then attached it to a spare SATA card that was leftover from rebuilding Dad’s computer.

All looked good until I started up the computer, and was greeted by a message from the SATA card that had found the Hitachi disk, but then did not proceed any further.

This card identified itself as a Silicon Image SiI 3112 SATARaid Controller, with firmware version 4.1.34. I obtained the BIOS update utility and latest BIOS 4.2.84, upgraded the firmware and rebooted.

This solved that problem, and the machine was able to complete startup and boot Windows XP successfully.

I then tried to install Windows 7 from DVD onto the new Hitachi drive. First problem was that Windows 7 didn’t see the drive at all. Eventually I figured out that copying the "SiI3x12 32-bit Windows SATARAID Driver" to a USB flash drive, so then it could be loaded by the Windows 7 installer (don't make the mistake of trying the 'BASE' drivers – they're intended for motherboards, not cards).

Now Windows 7 could see the drive, but it refused to install on the drive. Next stop was to change the motherboard BIOS to make the Hitachi drive the first drive (instead of the original RAID drive)

That did it – Windows 7 was now able to install.

One final thing to try out was whether Windows 7 could actually use the old driver for the Intel RAID controller. I located the 'drivers' folder (Program Files\Intel\Intel Matrix Storage Manager\Driver) and copied those files to somewhere that the Windows 7 installation could see them. Fearing a possible BSOD, I located the 'Intel 82801ER SATA RAID controller' entry in Device Manager, and upgraded the driver to this driver.. and it worked!

So I was then able to backup files from the old RAID disks onto the new Hitachi (which I'd also split into two partitions).

The good news is Windows 7 runs pretty well. I've still got a fair bit of migrating of applications but so far so good.

Hotmail accounts hacked for sending iPhone spam

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

I've had a few family and friends now who have apparently had their hotmail email accounts hacked for the purpose of sending spam to all the people in their contacts (including me!)

The spam (who's grammar should make it obviously not from the original sender) takes the form of

hi,
how are you?
recently, I got a nice site: www.nottheoriginalsite.com
I brought some items from them. Wow, it is very nice.
low price and good quality (iphone new model 3GS 16 GB only 385 euro)
they also sell Wii, DJ, TV, laptop,camera and so on.
how do you think? login and have a look at it!
yours truly,

As best I can tell, they've done this either via guessing passwords or maybe via some kind of phishing attack. One reason for this belief is that for one incident I saw, the spam was saved in the sender's "Sent Items" folder, just like other regular email that they had sent.

If you have a hotmail account, I'd strongly recommend you ensure your password is long enough to be extremely difficult to guess. A passphrase instead of just a password is probably the best way to do this.

Why Websense is stupid (and I told them so)

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

One of the vendors who happened to be exhibiting at TechEd Australia this year was a company called Websense.

They were giving away T-shirts, so it was only after I had received my free shirt from them that I then proceeded to tell them how stupid and horrible their software was.

This seem to take the Websense staff a bit by surprise and they tried to defend their product assuring me with words to the effect that their software was wonderful and couldn't possibly be faulty and had the "largest database". Well let me assure you "quantity" definitely does not equate to "quality", and it may be no coincidence that their company name rhymes with "nonsense" :-)

Don't believe me? Well take a look at this example:

Try and browse http://www.opensource.org/licenses/bsd-license.html through Websense and you are greeted with this response:

Reason:

The Websense category "Entertainment" is filtered.

 

URL:

http://www.opensource.org/licenses/bsd-license.html

Presumably the legal department must have a fair bit of influence at Websense, Inc. as I don't think anyone else would consider reading software licenses 'Entertainment'.

It just goes to reinforce the enhancement Mitch Denny made in his Software Development Pitfalls talk to point 5 of Jeff Attwood's Programmer's Bill of Rights :

Every programmer shall have a fast, unfiltered internet connection

Ah, we can but dream.

BinScope and MiniFuzz

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Following on from seeing Michael Howard at TechEd last week, here's a couple of new tools to help with analysing your applications for security issues.

"BinScope is a verification tool that analyzes binaries on a project-wide level to ensure that they have been built in compliance with Microsoft’s Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) requirements and recommendations"

"MiniFuzz is a basic testing tool designed to help detect code flaws that may expose security vulnerabilities in file-handling code. This tool creates multiple random variations of file content and feeds it to the application to exercise the code in an attempt to expose unexpected and potentially insecure application behaviours"

Tech-Ed 2009 – Friday

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Highlights

2008 R2 Virtualisation with Ben Armstrong

.NET 4 Parallel Extensions with Corneliu Tusnea

Big Algorithms in F# with Joel Pobar

Mobile Smackdown

This was bizarre and quite crazy in a mostly good way. Because I'd won a token from the WCF talk, I got get a front-row (well second to front) seat and got a pile of goodies on my seat.

The basic rule of the smackdown was that anytime a demo failed assorted pieces of "swag" would be thrown into the audience.. Hence the audience were keen to see things fail!

Quite a few new Windows Mobile phones, headsets, mice and other nice prizes were given way.

I was also pleased to see that this year, no cat food was involved in any of the competitions (unlike the session from last year)

Final thoughts

So did I get my money's worth? Yes, I think so. I felt I learned or was exposed to new things in almost every session I attended. It was also great to catch up with lots of friends and familiar faces.

While the Gold Coast isn't the most convenient venue to get to from Adelaide, I do think the convention centre does an excellent job looking after and catering for everyone. No complaints about the food!

The HP Mini 2140 netbook is really nice. I think it was quite innovative to allow all delegates to be able to participate in the conference in an online fashion. Wireless network access at the convention centre worked pretty well considering how many concurrent users it had to cope with. Depending on which way the wind blew, I could sometime connect even when I returned to my motel room (which was just across the road). I've given my netbook to Narelle and I think she's pretty impressed already.

Maybe I missed them in the crowd, but I wonder if the days of UniSA sending >10 delegates are over as I didn't bump into any old colleagues this year. It did feel different not having Gary, Dat, Mark around or bumping into familiar faces from IT.

Finally I do especially appreciate the sacrifice my family made (both in my time away from home and financially) to allow me to attend.