Author Archives: Fred Langa

Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.

Inside Svchost.exe

Fred: I was pleased to find the
command shell command: tasklist /svc to finally actually see what the heck
service host was running. Up until now service host was a back hole that could
have been running anything and I had no idea how to find out what; of concern
obviously was malware cloaked by the cryptic cover "svchost". Are you aware of
any programs out there that take this a step further, internally breaking down
all of the svchost services running, looking at them, perhaps checking their
checksums or some other process to identify if each is the appropriate service
and warning if any are either out of the ordinary or an ordinary named service
that does not properly match the identifying characteristics for that service?

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How To Shrink Sound Files

Thanks for a great newsletter! I have
a lot of MP3 voice-only recordings that were originally made at 64 Kbps. In
order to maximize storage, I was wondering if it was possible to reduce the bit
rate from 64 Kbps to, say 32 or 40 Kbps. Are there utilities that do this kind
of downward conversion?

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OEM Drive Has Better Warranty Than Retail

Hey Fred, Love the newsletter. I just
bought two new hard drives. They are 250GB Maxtor DiamondMax 10 PATA 133MB 16M
cache. I plan to install them in a RAID configuration.

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Windows File Protection Gets In The Way

I’ve been doing this for many, many
years. I use a geezer technique: a batch file! I use Map Network Drive to map by
laptop’s C: drive to L: (for laptop) and then the batch file copies things from
C: to L:. For the actual copying, I used to use the XCOPY command; now I use
ROBOCOPY.

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IncrediMail Upgrade Tactics Incredibly Bad

Dear Fred, I thought I should write to
you so that you can warn any unsuspecting people of an unscrupulous scam being
perpetrated by the nasty people at Incredimail. I received a newsletter from
them on 12th/08/05 saying that they listen and respect their subscribers and
they have a great surprise for us. When you click to the link, you are
re-directed to a web page that downloads ( you assume) an upgraded version of
Incredimail. When it is installed, I found, where Junk & Unapproved folder had
been, was a new folder, Advanced Junk filter is turned off, click here. When the
link is clicked you are taken to a site offering Advanced Junk filter for
$29.99. Since Incredimail is a paid for service whose on-board filter works
perfectly well, I declined and went back to what I was doing. The following day,
when I opened my e-mail, I found in my inbox (which had previously been
configured to only accept mail from addresses in my Address book) 6 of the usual
rubbish junk mails that are sent out daily. When I went to Tools to check junk
mail filter, it had been grayed out, thus preventing me from adjusting anything.
I have since used System Restore to get previous installation back, but what I
would like to know is : Is it illegal for Incredimail to take off my system, a
service that I have paid for ,in order to force me to buy a programme that I
don’t need. You can guess who has been put into my junk mail folder after this
episode. Yours Angrily, Phil Bevan

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Hot Chip… Or Not So Hot?

Having read this article ("Horror
Story With A Good Ending":

http://langa.com/newsletters/2005/2005-08-15.htm#5 ) I have to question
something. Reader Fred Spector states "the only thing that troubles me is an overheating problem
with the Athlon xp processor. Spinrite temporarily terminated operation a few
times when the temperature reached 124 degrees +."

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Web Sites Lacking In Password Quality

Hi Fred, I just got around to reading
the June 20, 2005, Langa List article (

http://langalist.com/plus/newsletters/2005/2005-06-20plus.asp#1
) (and its counterpart in Information Week

http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=164303537 )
on password security. I’ve long been a proponent of really good passwords (much
to my wife’s annoyance, since I refuse to let her use our kids’ names, etc.) and
I have also used Roboform for a number of years both to generate and save my
passwords (I have something like a six or seven hundred accounts, services, etc,
that require passwords, so a good tool is essential, and Roboform is well worth
the price many times over IMHO). I’m writing to vent about a password related
pet peeve, to wit, almost none of those companies, services and so on who
require you to set up password protected accounts tell you what their allowed
password characteristics are at the point where you have to choose a password.
The forms say, "enter a password" but they don’t say which characters they
allow: upper or lower case only (and do they respect case sensitivity)? do they
allow numbers? symbols? punctuation? They also don’t tell you how many
characters they allow: 6 characters, or 8 or 12 or 36 or what? You can’t tell.
So then when you enter a good, random password of, say, 24 characters using
upper case, lower case, numbers, symbols and punctuation, the form comes back
with a really useless error, usually something like "invalid password – enter a
valid password to continue". So, you are left to guess what rules they used to
define "valid" passwords. And nobody has the time or patience to work their way
slowly down to the strongest combination of number and type(s) of characters
allowed in each particular instance by trial and error, so you’re essentially
forced use the lowest common denominator, ie, a relatively short password
including only one or both cases of letters, or maybe letters and numbers. And
this, of course, makes the whole point of your article moot and whatever it is
you are password-protecting many times more vulnerable that it should be.

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More Cool Free Tools

In last issue’s "Very Nice Free Software" (

http://langa.com/newsletters/2006/2006-09-21.htm#2 ) we discussed some
software available from Microsoft Research. In that issue, I said
"Microsoft Research explores new technologies and applications. Some of
them don’t pan out and thus never see the light of day. Others get built into
working demos or lightweight tools for further experimentation." I mentioned
"Continuous Flash," and some of you who took a look were disappointed
that it wasn’t a full-blown application. My description could have been clearer;
I apologize. Continuous Flash is one of those working demos; not a ready-to use
tool. That’s
the thing with an R&D site: you never know quite what you’ll find, or how useful
it will be. But as we said, it’s at least interesting, and worth a look.

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Got Your Vista RC1 Yet?

One major item that happened while I was offline was Microsoft’s public
release of Vista RC1— "release candidate 1." You may already know this, and
may have grabbed a copy; but it’s a significant enough thing to warrant a "just
in case" mention here.

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