Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bonus Day

Feb 6th was Bonus Day - a day that everyone looks forward to with eager anticipation. However, its also a day of doom and gloom. No work gets done because people are either ecstatic or aggrieved over the size of their bonus. You're not allowed to discuss the amount of your bonus with anyone as it is a sackable offence! People try not to reveal their true emotions and when asked about it usually respond by saying that they are "content" and "not particularly happy nor particularly disappointed". Some people think they have been ripped off because they are earning a small proportion of the very large sums of money they are making for the bank.

Almost everyone in the bank gets some kind of bonus. A secretary might receive between 6-10% of his or her salary. People in back-office functions, such as public relations or IT, might get 40% to 60%. The big money, though, is "front-office" traders who make four or five times their annual pay!

So how did I do? I made AVP (Assistant Vice President). I'd just like to thank all my colleagues, friends and family for their support and kind wishes. Cheers!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Recovering Deleted Files

When you delete a file using Windows Explorer, the file is normally be moved to the Recycle Bin, unless you used "Shift+Delete". While it is in the Recycle Bin, the file can easily be restored without any problem. So the first thing to do when you want to recover a deleted file is look in the Recycle Bin.

Nothing on your drive is permanently removed when you delete it. Whenever you delete a file Windows simply marks it for deletion by changing one character in the file table. The entire file is still sitting on your hard drive, but it is hidden from view. Windows then allows other files to write over the space where it resides if required, but the file is not gone from your hard drive until it is completely overwritten at some point. This means that you can actually recover files that have been 'permanently' deleted, but you will require special software to do so.


The best utility I have found to restore deleted files is a small free tool called Restoration. Upon start, you can scan for all files that can be recovered and also limit the results by entering a search term or extension. You can then select a file and click 'Restore by Copying' to recover it - however note that the file may not be complete since portions of it may have already been overwritten, so there is no guarantee you can recover an entire file this way. The chances of recovering the file intact decrease the longer you leave it - because the longer you leave it, the more likely it is that the computer will reuse all or part of the file's disk space for something else.

If you have accidentally deleted an important file, try and minimise any further disk activity. Do not start an application, save files, defragment your hard drive or even reboot Windows for example as these all aid in potentially overwriting the area where the file is sitting. Don't even leave your system idle for long periods of time either, since by default Windows XP starts defragmenting your hard drive in the background when idle. Run an undelete program like Restoration immediately.

Permanently Deleting Files

Restoration also provides the option to permanently delete files so that they cannot be recovered.


If you want to recover deleted or damaged files on a CD or DVD, you will have to use a utility like IsoBuster. However just like hard drive data recovery, there is no guarantee that any usable data can be recovered from a damaged or deleted disk - particularly if it has been erased.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Windows System Tools

These are useful tools which will tell you all you need to know about your Windows system:


    Start > Run > msinfo32
    System information.
    You will need to have the 'Help and Support' service enabled

    Start > Run > devmgmt.msc
    Displays your hardware devices which you can choose to update or uninstall

    Start > Run > dxdiag
    The most useful function for DXDiag is its ability to create a text file with all your major system information, including your main hardware specifications, driver files, and environmental settings.

    Start > Run > msconfig
    Allows you to select which programs are automatically launched when your computer first starts up. Also allows you to stop/start services.

    Start > Run > regedit
    Launches the Registry Editor. The Registry contains information that Windows continually references during operation, such as profiles for each user, the applications installed on the computer and the types of documents that each can create, property sheet settings for folders and application icons, what hardware exists on the system, and the ports that are being used.

  • System Information for Windows
    SIW is the System Information for Windows tool which can be downloaded from the SIW Website. "Everything you want to know about your computer."

  • CPU-Z
    You can download CPU-Z from the CPU-Z Website. Provides you with everything you need to know about your CPU, such as its name/number, core stepping, package, voltage, cache information etc. It will also tell you about your system's current Bus speed under the CPU tab, your full motherboard details under the Motherboard tab, and your RAM's complete details under the Memory and SPD tabs. Note that for information to appear under the SPD tab you will have to first select the slot(s) on the motherboard that your RAM stick(s) occupy, otherwise the box will be empty.

    You can download the Nero Disk InfoTool Utility from the CD Speed Website. It is a utility which analyses and displays the most important information about a drive, disc, configuration and software. The information can also be printed or saved to a text file.

  • JDiskReport
    You can download it from JGoodies. Illustrates with the help of graphs, how much space the files and directories consume on your disk drives and it helps you find where space is being used up.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Windows vs Linux System Calls

Windows has grown so complicated that it is harder to secure. The images below are a complete map of the system calls that occur when a web server serves up a single page of HTML with a single picture. The same page and picture. The more system calls, the greater potential for vulnerability, the more effort needed to create secure applications.

The first picture is of the system calls that occur on a Linux server running Apache.

This second image is of a Windows Server running IIS.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Stay Off Vista

Here are some of the reasons why I won't be getting Vista anytime soon:
  • Vista is slower than XP and needs more resources; it has some pretty hefty requirements compared to Windows XP. The fact of the matter is that Windows is bloated - it is now so big and onerous because of the size of its code base, the size of its ecosystem and its insistence on compatibility with the legacy hardware and software, that it just slows everything down. I believe that with time, users are going to end up with a more and more inferior operating system, which is really quite sad. Linux, on the other hand, can run on a 386.

  • Windows is buggy and prone to virus attacks. There is already a Vista Speech Recognition remote execution flaw which could allow an attacker to use the speech recognition feature in Windows Vista to verbally execute commands on a user’s computer. Therefore, its best to let the viruses get unleashed on Vista and stick to XP or another OS.

  • Although 80% of the changes in Windows Vista are positive, there is nothing about Vista that is truly innovative or compelling; there's no transformational, gotta-have-it feature in Vista. But the real problem isn't with Vista, its with Microsoft itself...

  • Vista's Aero graphics are an unnecessary waste of power and slow your system down.

  • You may not alter any of this evil. By installing it, you have agreed that "you may not work around any technical limitations in the software".

  • It is also advisable to wait until Service Pack 1 for Vista is available to upgrade from XP. Microsoft has announced that Vista SP1 will be released in the second half of 2007.