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vista rant #1

You no longer seem to have direct access to 'c:\Documents and Settings' it appears to be in multiple places all over the system (as symbolic links) and none of them will give you the ability to browse their files. All I ever get is 'access denied'. I hack program files in there all the freaking time.. in this case, I want to put a heavily modified copy of my mouse configuration's xml file on the new box, so it matches my laptop. That ability seems to have been taken away from me in the interest of security. Fuck security.. I was reasonably secure before..

Vista First impression. It sucks in amazing ways.

Well, I've got a Vista system under my desk now. From what I can tell from a low level low usage perspective it is fucking horrible. I set it up quite a few days ago, and was pretty impressed with the pretties and such. Then I started to actually.. um.. use it. UAC is garbage. It asks you to confirm confirmation boxes! (so, where you'd usually get an 'are you sure' box from say.. IE7.. UAC throws an additional one on top of that!) It's the stupidest thing I've ever seen.

QTFairUse6 2.5

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) just got useful.

With the release of QTFairUse6 2.5, you can finally, quickly and effortlessly, strip Fairplay DRM infection from your iTMS files without screwing up your iTunes library or playlists. This handy little app scours your library for offending files, captures them to non-DRMed AAC files, and replaces them in the database, so everything continues to work as before. It also backs up the infected ("protected" in industry parlance) files to a folder of your choosing, should you find that something didn't work right.

There is no command line to fuss with, no obscure settings, nothing. Just fire up the application, tell it to process all, tell it whether and where to save the original files, and hit "Start Conversion."

Since this was released last week, I have spent about $50 at the iTMS. I still don't like the sound of the files that much, but for things like re-buying CDs that I stupidly sold when I was strapped for cash in college but that I don't care that much about (Nirvana's In Utero, for example), it's quick and easy. And now that I know that I can keep the things I buy, I have no qualms about using the iTMS.

Hey Apple and RIAA thugs, if you're reading this: Do you understand what I'm saying? I will give you money if you let me keep what I buy. If you don't, I won't. It seems pretty straightforward to me, but then again, I don't have shit for brains.

Anyway, get this app and clean up your tracks before Apple makes you upgrade iTunes again and you have to wait for that to be cracked!

UPDATE:
For those of you (I'm looking at you, aaron!) who are unwilling to read the post linked above, here is a direct download link, which includes the files necessary for cracking iTunes 7.1.1:

Cross Site Scripting Response

I listen regularly to security now, and there has been a lot of talk lately about cross site scripting vulnerabilities on blogs and websites.

For a more detailed writeup of what cross site scripting is than I could ever produce, check out trusty wikipedia.

Aaron's really basic overview

For a really basic overview, here it is. Basically, in html documents (such as this one) you can put client side code (javascript, generally but it can be many flavors) anywhere on the page.

You can completely mix content and code however you want.

Now, years ago, when the web was young, and pretty much a 1 to many broadcast medium. (I post content, you look at content, nothing more) this was not a problem. The only way you could make my server spit out content was to get my ftp credentials.

The problem comes when you accept content from users.. which is all the rage with the young kids ever since... 1995? ; )

So, I have a guest book on my site. If that content is not properly checked, a you could include a line of code that would kick all users that hit that web page to a porn site... or cover it in platypuses. Worse still, you could include a line of code that would have javascript send you a copy of all the user's session cookies.. which would allow you to pose as them on the website.

Not a big deal for your average blog.. but amazon.com? banking? You get the idea.

Solution: uh.. browser manufacturers?.. w3c? turn that stupid crap off!

With current html standards and practices.. there is absolutely zero need for tag attributes that execute code such as 'onclick' 'onmouseover' etc. There is also absolutely zero reason a <script> tag should ever be found mixed in with content. Most useage of both at this point is due to either backward compatibility with really old browsers, or sheer laziness.

Arduino NG Google Sketchup Model

I created a basic model of the Arduino microcontroller board in Google Sketchup. Sketchup is a really handy tool. Once you learn to use it, you can model anything and everything with arbitrary accuracy. This model is accurate down to .01mm. (the resolution of my digital calipers)

It should be a handy thing for anyone looking to prototype something digitally before they go making parts.

Run that "Run" menu the way you wanna!

So my friend Nik asked me something about emulating launchbar and quicksilver on the mac, where you can basically type a command at the mac and it will figure out what you're looking for with pattern matching.

This won't do that. Not by a long shot. ; )

The thing he asked me was about the windows run menu, and getting things to run from there with simple commands.

If you're on a windows box, you can do the following:
hold down the windows key,
press 'R'
type 'calc'
hit enter.

Bam! you've got the calculator. Well.. that's handy and all.. but what if you want your own programs in there.

Nik pointed me to the PATH environment variable as the place to change what the run menu searches in.

If you know what your environment variables are, then you probably don't need my hand holding. I added one that points to My Documents\bin\ as I preserve my my documents folder across formats, and I like to keep everything there.

For the rest of you. There's already an environment variable in there pointing to your systemroot. that's C:\Windows\

If you go there, and drop any windows shortcut in that directory, the name of that shortcut becomes the keyword you enter in "run".

Yay! Make a shortcut that points to photoshop, name it 'ps' and put it in C:\Windows\

Then, windowskey-R, type 'ps', hit enter BAM! Photoshop! I'm never going to use my mouse again!

UPDATE

I hadn't a clue how cool this would have been!
1. It passes arguments along.. so.. i made a shortcut called 'ff' that points to firefox. if i use the command 'ff google' firefox opens up and runs google. also, because firefox is soo damned smart, if it's already running, it'll just put google in a new tab.

2. you can do shortcuts to sites. take a firefox shortcut and add a url as an argument after 'firefox.exe'. That pretty much give limitless capacity for web application shortcuts.

3. firefox will take multiple arguments. guess what
"ff aaronpropst.com google.com" does... ; )

No! You DON'T need to run at startup!

Adobe Acrobat thinks I only use my computer for viewing pdfs. Apple thinks my computer is used solely for syncing my ipod. Install Shield thinks it is necessary to run in the background so that it can check for urgent updates to god knows what. Ooohh.. and don't even get me started on quicktime, and realmedia.

All of these people think they need to leave a process running in memory on my system.. 24.. 7.. 365.

Um... guys.. if all of you do that... what is left for ME to use?

Spyware is generally the reason most people start having trouble with their computers after a couple years and either buy a new one, or tap their social network for the nearest geek at hand to help them reformat. The thing is, this kind of crap is equally responsible. After 2 years, you've done so many things with your computer, and installed so many programs, about 30% of which leave some worthless hunk of code running in memory so their program will start faster, or update on its own, or whatever.

The computer is a tool. It's probably the most extensible and versatile tool in human history. You can do any number of things with a computer, but not if it's busy downloading garbage on your behalf, or checking for updates, or scanning for aliens, or grabbing the latest maps of azeroth.

So, software people.. (adobe, i'm looking in your direction*) Quit it! You're creating software at the program level for a reason! So we can run your program, and when we want to do something else, we can close your program! Otherwise we'd call your shit 'drivers' or an "operating system"

Ways to take control:

download process explorer This app used to be offered by a site called sysinternals, which recently got acquired by microsoft. : (
process explorer gives you a list of all running processes on your system similar to the windows task manager, but wayyyy more descriptive. So, for instance, instead of just seeing the exe name, it will give you its full path and supporting files.. so you can see who's it is. (and kill it.)

click start: run: type 'msconfig' This is a kickass built in app that allows you to see and disable all the crap you don't need at startup. You should use a bit of caution of course, as you could remove something you need, or kill your system's normal startup process. Experiment though.. that's what safe mode is for. ; )

*acrotray.exe.. what it does, I don't know. I'm pretty sure I don't need it though. When i uncheck this little fucker in msconfig, and start acrobat reader... it adds another new entry to my startup profile putting it back. grrrrrr.... Them's spyware behaviors!!

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