Microsoft Security Updates, But Not By Email

From: Microsoft Public Support
Subject: Latest Microsoft Security Patch

Microsoft Customer,

this is the latest version of security update, the “August 2006, Cumulative Patch” update which fixes all known security vulnerabilities…

Please don’t fall for this. Microsoft DOES NOT send software updates out via email, certainly not a broadcast email. Synamtec’s anti-virus software found that this email included an attachment which was identified as containing a virus known as 1. q694726.exe: W32.Swen.A@mm. Eew, that sounds icky.

Make sure that your system is up-to-date, but be sure to use the Microsoft Update website or automatic update service to do so. Don’t expect to get software updates in your email.

As always, NEVER open email attachments that you don’t recognize and didn’t ask for (and even then, let’s be careful out there).

Windows Vista, OS X

The guys over at have noticed that Windows Vista looks a lot like Mac OS X. That doesn’t really come as much of a surprise, the way that software (in the larger, general sense) evolves; vendors see what works for other companies, “borrow” or “steal” (depending on your point of view) from each other and build on it. The devil, as they say, is in the details. I’m sure there will be plenty of “yea, but” posts pointing out differences and places where Microsoft improved upon Apple’s work (or failed to).

OS life is going to get interesting again, for a short while.

See also The Real Windows Vista video, available on YouTube. :-)

Windows On Mac-on-Intel, Revisited

January 12: “Will we be able to run Windows on an Intel Mac?”

Today’s news: Apple Senior Software Architect Cameron Esfahani when asked whether Intel Macs should easily run Vista, replied “I don’t think so.”

Windows is a legacy OS. We don’t have legacy support.

Note the use of the word “easily.”

[later] never underestimate the power of the force… It’s Official: XP Runs On Intel Macs. (

Windows On Mac-on-Intel

Ever since Steve Jobs announced that they’d be moving to Intel chips, one of the major questions on people’s minds (well, geeks’ minds) has been “Will we be able to run Windows on an Intel Mac?”

The Apple party line at MacWorld seems to be “we won’t support that” – which is completely fair and understandable, I think – and folks such as Geren have found articles that seem to indicate that it could be possible. I think the money quote comes from Apple’s VP of Marketing, Phil Schiller.

That doesn’t preclude someone from running it on a Mac. They probably will, we won’t do anything to preclude that.

Of course, he doesn’t say they’ll do anything to make it easy, either.

A dual-bootable MacBook though, that’d be pretty damn tough to beat. Let’s see now, I wonder if a 100Gb drive be large enough…

[later] Sam points out in comments that Windows XP won’t run boot on the new Intel Macs, we’ll have to wait until Vista.

[even later] has instructions that might work. Or might not, according to

What’s In A Name?

Oh Crikey. In December ’02 Scott Hanselman realized that MSN Messenger 5.0 wasn’t an upgrade to Windows Messenger 4.7. No, it was a different product that did mostly the same thing. Was Microsoft changing the name and bringing out a new, improved product? No, they now had two instant messaging clients.

Now he finds that there’s an “upgrade” to Windows Update called… Microsoft Update. Two ways to keep your operating system updated via the net. One has more features. Will the other stay around as well, like Windows Messenger did? Time will tell. But for now, Microsoft’s customers are left in the twilight zone of product names.

What is it with companies and product names? Either they find a good name, then proceed to beat it to death – I watched Digital do it with the PATHWORKS name and then the AltaVista name, then Compaq with the iPaq name (did you know there were products with “iPaq” on them that were not handhelds?) – or, like Microsoft here, they have multiple products that do the same thing and get tacked with names so similar that nobody can keep them straight.

C’mon folks. Pretend you’re a customer and think about what makes sense.

Drive Safely

Sept ’03: “I’ve never seen Microsoft send patches out to everyone via e-mail… learn more about how you can help protect your computer.”

Mitch Tulloch: Is This Security Alert Really from Microsoft?

Of course, not every email that arrives in your inbox and purports to be from Microsoft is actually from Microsoft.

The bottom line is that owning and using a computer is slightly more complex than just dropping some dough at CompUSA and rolling a mouse around.

Sure, we don’t have rogue bands of idiots sneaking around and sabatoging automobiles in driveways, but there are precautions you need to take with a car to keep yourself and your family safe. You wear seatbelts, observe and obey traffic control devices, change the oil every 3,000 miles, inspect the tires for wear, lock the doors when you park on the street, etc. Computers are only slightly different.

You don’t drive your kids through “the bad part of town” with your windows open and doors unlocked. On the Internet, just remember, it’s tough to tell which click will take you through “the bad part of town.” That dosen’t mean you don’t drive, just that you keep your doors locked and eyes open.

Watch It Anyway

Jon Udell: “I suspect few outside the geek community read those postings or “got it” if they did.”

I agree that a single password used everywhere is A Bad Thing, and this is a reasonable solution to the problem. I’m not sure how many “outside the geek community” are going to get past the ‘bookmarklet’ example, though, or if their eyes will just glaze over.

Formatting Big FAT32 Volumes

Ok, so I’ve got this nice big 190Gb external firewire drive. Both my Windows XP systems and my Macintosh have firewire, so I should be able to plug it into either system and use it, right? Well, kindof.

Formatted NTFS, the XP system could use it just fine. The Mac could read it, but not write. Ok, that I can understand. But I want to use it fully.

I understand that OS X can read and write FAT32 drives, so I use the XP box to move all the data off and format it. But XP doesn’t want to format a drive that large, apparently. Per Microsoft:

In theory, FAT32 volumes can be about 8 terabytes; however, the maximum FAT32 volume size that Windows XP Professional can format is 32 GB. Therefore, you must use NTFS to format volumes larger than 32 GB. However, Windows XP Professional can read and write to larger FAT32 volumes formatted by other operating systems.

display from Macintosh
So… what system can format this drive for me? Should Windows 2000 or 2003 be able to format a big drive like this using FAT32?

update: so far the best (for me, given equipment & OS’ around) solution is to build the small FAT32 partition and then buy a copy of Partition Magic to resize it.] [oh good grief. $70!? no, there’s got to be another solution

another update: there is another solution, and thanks to RC and others who suggested Linux. I didn’t acually use a Linux system, but found Linux mkdosfs for Windows NT/2K/XP, which worked just fine. A big thank-you to Jens-Uwe Mager who apparently ported mkdosfs from Linux to a “DOS” or Windows console application.

C:kitsformat>mkdosfs -F 32 -n BigFish -v G:
mkdosfs 2.8 (28 Feb 2001)
Win32 port by Jens-Uwe Mager
\.G: has 255 heads and 63 sectors per track,
logical sector size is 512,
using 0xf8 media descriptor, with 390716865 sectors;
file system has 2 32-bit FATs and 8 sectors per cluster.
FAT size is 380816 sectors, and provides 48744400 clusters.
Volume ID is 4149e22c, volume label BigFish    .

display from Windows Explorer

Windows XP hangs, Applying computer settings…

I’ve got another self-induced problem with my PC, which I’m going to document here in case you have the same problem and don’t realize where it comes from.

Occasionally, Windows XP hangs while booting, at the [ Applying computer settings… ] messagebox.

Now, for me at least, the explanation has some background. This is my laptop, which I carry from site to site and use on different networks. All of those networks supply TCP/IP addresses and other information via DHCP. Some of those bits of “other information” are the DNS servers that the PC should use. On most of those networks, the DNS servers are reliable. On one, they’re not. So when I’m on that one network, I sometimes have to override the addresses given by DHCP and set the DNS addresses manually. That also means that when I leave that network I have to put that setting back.

Sometime I forget.

This laptop is also part of a Windows 2000 domain. Windows 2000 uses DNS extensively. Perhaps now you see the combination that leads to the problem.

When a PC that’s part of a Windows 2000 domain boots, it needs to “talk” with its domain controllers. It uses DNS to find them. If DNS is set wrong, it can’t find them… and it hangs.

So what’s the solution? Well, for me it goes like this. The laptop boots, and hangs. I see the messagebox, grumble to myself, and pull the network cable. It then continues to boot though it didn’t really finish the required domain conversation (just like it would if it were on one of my other networks, it’s “smart enough” to do that). Once it’s up, I go back to the Network Control Panel and re-set the properties to use the right DNS servers.

[later] Shawn McGrath also says that I could just disable the Network Location Awareness Service (Start – Settings – Control Panel – Administrative Tools – Services – Double Click on the Network Location Awareness (NLA) Service – Click on Stop – Then Change the Startup type to Disabled). In my case (at least half the time I need to actually be logged into my enterprise’s domain structure) I’m not sure that would work but it’s worth a try.


Start->Control Panel->Network Connections. Right-click on Local Area Connection, select Properties

Select Internet Protocol, click Properties