I wasn’t paying attention closely enough last night and before I realized it I had accepted the recently released Windows 7 Service Pack 1 onto my work machine. The install went smoothly enough but since then?
Not so great.
Internet Explorer stops working very frequently now. The funny thing is, if I just click the red X everything is fine — nothing is actually broken (as far as I can tell) but that dialog is driving me nuts!
Before you say “Stop using IE!” let me just say that I can’t. Some of our productivity apps at work are IE only. Right, wrong or indifferent, that’s just how it is.
Anyone else have similar issue(s)? I think tomorrow I’ll disable all the add-ins and see how things go. While writing this it occurred to me that perhaps it isn’t IE but one of the add-ins…
These days I find myself spending the majority of my time in a Windows based OS of one flavor or another. However, I still have most of my machines set to dual-boot to a Linux distro (lately that’s usually Ubuntu). That way I still have it very handy when I want or need it.
Grub 2 is the boot-loader I see the most and I find it quite serviceable. And maddening. Until recently it actually drove me nuts for two main reasons. Fortunately, I finally took the time to do 5 minutes of research last weekend and those reasons are no longer issues.
Item 1: Setting the Default boot OS
By default, the top item in the boot menu list is the default OS to boot. And, by default, that’s the most recent Linux kernel. Well, since I spend the majority of my time in Windows that was becoming distressing.
Initially I found a way to modify the config to tell grub which line number was the default OS. However, each time I updated and got a new kernel this line number was no longer correct — the new kernel would get added to the top of the list and push everything down (see item 2).
Fortunately, I found a blog post titled, “Fix Windows as default boot on Ubuntu with Grub2 loader” that offers a very simple solution. Just specify the default OS by name instead of number! So simple… yet I sure struggled to solve it. For details just follow that link.
Item 2: Cluttering up the Boot Menu list with Old Kernels
I alluded to this earlier. Every time you update and get a new kernel you get two more entries into the boot menu. After just a few updates that boot menu gets long and cumbersome.
Cleaning up the boot menu is pretty simple though — and rather automated. Once you’ve verified that the kernel is working there’s really no reason to keep the old one(s) around. Just fire up synaptic and completely remove those old kernels. When you do so, their associated menu entries are removed automagically as well. I picked up this tip from another blog post titled, “Clean up the New Ubuntu Grub2 Boot Menu.”
So there you go, with just those two posts I’ve removed a major “pain point” from my daily dual-booting experiences. Yay blogs!
Just a quick public safety announcement: When doing maintenance on other people’s PCs, take a moment and check out what they’re running for antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-malware, anti-whatever-we-call-it.
Lately I’ve seen a handful of machines running versions of McAfee first installed 4 or 5 years ago. No offense McAfee, but that old stuff is slow! Twice this month just uninstalling the old crusty McAfee and replacing it with the free Microsoft Security Essentials dramatically sped up the PC. We’re talking a perceived doubling of speed!
Here’s another example: I booted up a very slow XP machine this afternoon. I mean really slow. Like, it took 10 minutes before it was usable kind of slow. 1 GB and a Centrino chipset; not current, but they ran well for their time. Not this one.
Took a peek at the task manager and noticed that one process was using 300 MB of ram — and 99% of the CPU. A quick search showed that it was part of Ad-Aware. More research showed that was installed back in 2007 (4 years ago!) and hadn’t been updated since. Clearly it wasn’t happy with life anymore. Killed the process and uninstalled it. Like a shot of caffeine to a coffee junkie in the morning.
There are just two examples. I don’t mean to single companies out with this as in both examples the installed versions were definitely out of date and not current. And that’s the point: Don’t leave that old stuff laying around.
Thanks to a scratched CD I discovered a new/updated tool for my toolkit this week. See, I was swapping hard drives between two laptops: one is 500 GB and the other 160. Oh, and I didn’t want to have to reload either of them.
Before the swap I booted each from my trusty Clonezilla CD and made disk images of both laptops. That part was quick and easy. I physically switched the drives and attempted to restore the image from the 500 to the 160 drive. I figured this wouldn’t be an issue since it was only using about 25 GB… Alas, Clonezilla doesn’t like to restore to smaller drives.
OK, no worries. The easy way to solve that is to just shrink the partition (on the big drive) to something smaller than the destination drive. I tossed in my trusty Gparted CD and… hit a snag. Scratched CD couldn’t boot properly.
Before downloading a new one, I was inspired to see what my options of having both Clonezilla and Gparted on the same boot CD might be. Parted Magic is the first I found and is definitely a keeper. Boots quickly and loads to RAM so it runs quickly as well. Not only does it include Gparted and Clonezilla, but it bundles in quite a few other useful tools as well.
Works well as a little “pocket distro” too. Good stuff and I’m now a fan.
I just noticed Microsoft Security Advisory (2501696) and, if you’re running a Windows OS, I think you should notice it too. This is a published vulnerability and there are proof-of-concept attacks out there. As usual, yikes.
The vulnerability exists due to the way MHTML interprets MIME-formatted requests for content blocks within a document. It is possible under certain conditions for this vulnerability to allow an attacker to inject a client-side script in the response of a Web request run in the context of the victim’s Internet Explorer. The script could spoof content, disclose information, or take any action that the user could take on the affected Web site on behalf of the targeted user.
If you visit the associated Knowledge Base Article (2501696) you’ll find the “Fix it for me” button. Might as well give it a click until a patch or fix is released.
More details at the first link and also at the Naked Security blog.