Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Preparing for Conficker.c

Today’s the last day to make sure your computers are protected from a worm program that will impact many Windows PCs around the globe tomorrow, April 1st. The worm is called Conficker.c, and we don’t really know exactly what it will do.

Here’s an excerpt from CNN:
Remember the dire predictions surrounding the "millennium bug?" The doom-and-gloom scenarios bandied about by security analysts on how computers could act when their clocks turned to January 1, 2000?

Well, researchers are hoping that a potential April Fool's time bomb -- the Conficker.c that is supposed to hit computers on April 1 -- turns out to be equally unfounded.

But realizing that hope alone is not a prudent option, here is a primer on the worm so you can adequately prepare yourself -- and your computer.

What is Conficker.c and what do analysts fear it may do?
Conficker.c is a worm, a malicious program thought to have already infected between 5 million and 10 million computers.

Those infections haven't spawned many symptoms, but on April 1 a master computer is scheduled to gain control of these zombie machines, said Don DeBolt, director of threat research for CA, a New York-based IT and software company.
Here’s a link to the Microsoft security bulletin: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS08-067.mspx .

What should you do? First, know that this worm only affects Windows systems. Then, take the following steps:
  1. Make sure your PC’s virus program’s definitions are up to date.
  2. Make sure your Windows operating systems are currently patched, especially including patch MS08-067 (KB958644). If you participate in our WSUS patch management service, you can look at your WSUS server and tell which computers don’t have this patch. If you don’t participate in our WSUS patch management service, you should check every Windows PC and server. You can check by going to the Control Panel and clicking Add/Remove Programs. Click the box that says Show Updates, and look for patch KB958644 under operating system software updates.
  3. Scan your PCs and servers to make sure they’re not already affected.

Monday, March 30, 2009

You Know You're In Trouble When...

There are moments in your life when you know you're in trouble. Some of those are personal moments, and some are professional. Today I had one of those moments.

We're working through the redundancy/ failover settings of our two Internet connections. One of the ISPs had a modem that wasn't behaving. So they sent a tech out to replace it.

What was your first clue?
The first thing the tech said was that he wanted to know why level 3 support wanted the modem changed. That's not a good thing... field techs are not often as knowledgeable as level 3 techs. We got through that one.

Then, after finally agreeing to replace the modem with the make/ model detailed by level 3 support, the field tech wanted to document our static IP addresses. I knew we had really been in trouble when he said to the person on the other end of the phone connection, "Subnick?" For those not in IT, the person on the other end of the call was trying to give him a very basic piece of our setup called a subnet.

Phew! I'm glad that's over!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Is It Time for the 2nd American Revolution?

I don't know who put this video together, but it is awesome! It's definitely worth 6-1/2 minutes of your time.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Were We Warned?

A YouTube video was reportedly pulled from U.S. sites, but is still available from Canada that shows Congress was warned multiple times about the impending crisis in the U.S. mortgage market. Here it is:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Recycled Acronyms

There has been a move in the last couple of years to change the acronym for Church Management Software (CMS) that was coined by Steve Hewitt in the 1980s to ChMS. The reason given for the needed change is that many now think of something different when they hear "CMS". Other meanings of the acronym CMS:
  • Content Management System
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (I know, it has two Ms, but only one in the common acronym!)
  • Convention on Migratory Species
  • Compact Muon Solenoid
  • Comparative Media Studies
  • College Music Society
  • Clay Minerals Society
  • Course Management System
I'm sure there are more, but when I recently learned about Course Management Systems I couldn't help grinning. In today's push to reduce our carbon footprint and recycle, maybe using the same acronym to mean many different things is a good thing!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I've been thinking about why I sometimes respond to others or situations as I do, and I think I've put a finger on one of the issues. Rejection. It is painful for me... and I need to change how I let it affect me.

Here's the Root of It
I was born into a home that was created because of the pregnancy that carried me. I was born a blond, and my hair didn't change to dark brown until I was five. Both my mom and dad, however, were Mediterranean-featured brunettes. Not good. I grew up hearing those first five years from my dad, "You're not my son." In later years it became apparent that I was, but the damage was done.

When I was fourteen my folks divorced. Divorce was a rare thing in those days, and like many kids, I took it hard. It wasn't much later that I left home to avoid being given to the courts as an incorrigible child (they had the papers ready to sign)... another rejection.

Rejection Hurts
When I feel rejection, it brings something up in me that almost takes over. I find myself responding in ways I haven't understood… though now I think I know why.

When we say things-- things that are hurtful-- people are impacted. I am purposing here and now to turn this over to the Lord and ask him to heal me and help me to deal with the pain of rejection when I encounter it. And I'm also asking him to help me not say things to others that could impact them in any way other than positively. My hope: that my words would be as apples of gold in settings of silver (Solomon in Proverbs 25:11)… isn't that a great word picture?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Google's Server Strategy

A colleague and I were having lunch today (sushi!), and we were talking about the concept of IT 'best practices'. While there are a number of items that should be in place in every IT environment (backup, security, etc), we eventually found ourselves talking about cloud computing and Google.

Simply said, cloud computing means placing all your data outside of your firewall and on servers-- most likely virtual servers-- you access via the Internet. That led us to Google, and what he recently learned about Google's server strategy. Here are some pics, early and current... hardly what you'd likely call 'best practices'!

What do you think? It obviously works for them, but would you use a similar server strategy?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fortune Cookie Says...

No offense to my Chinese friends, but I think Confucius got it wrong! My fortune cookie the other night said, "Pray for what you want, but work for the things you need."

I think he more accurately could have said, "Trust the Lord with your needs and your wants, and be diligent."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Technology's Future-- It's Pretty Cool!

Here's an 8-minute video that's worth watching. It starts cool and continues to build... and it's where technology's going... very cool stuff... (just ignore the sixth sense references).

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Managing Your Outlook Mailbox-- Part 2

I took Tuesday's blog, developed it little further into an article, and gave it to one of my puiblishers to print. If you'd like to download a free PDF advance copy, click here!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Managing Your Outlook Mailbox

While talking with a colleague this afternoon I realized that many don't have a good email storage strategy. While mine is not necessarily the best, it is a strategy that keeps my mailbox fairly lean. And it helps me be more productive... maybe it'll help you too!

I try to keep my Inbox pretty clean. My goal is to have it only contain those new emails I need to respond to but haven't yet. Once I respond to an email (and I always include the original in my response), I delete the one I received. So even though I manage between 100 and 225 emails on any given workday, my Inbox is focused. In fact, right now it only has 8 items in it!

Sent Items
I use my Sent Items folder as a follow-up tickler file. Once I receive some kind of acknowledgment of an email that I sent, I delete the one I sent (especially since all that I said is likely contained in the response!). Emails I send that I don't need a response to either get deleted or filed away (more on that in a moment). The result is that the only items in my Sent Items folder are those for which I'm still awaiting a response. And if I don't get one in a reasonable period time (varies based on the email content), I resend it and add at the top something like "Resending from 2/21..." My Sent Items folder currently has 30 items in it.

Deleted Items
Just like the kitchen trash, I empty my trash at the end of every day. This also gives me a sense of how many emails I touch in a given day, which is kind of fun to know! My count so far today is 266.

Filing Emails for Future Reference
Some emails need to be kept in case I need to refer to them in the future. For these I create a folder that's on the same level as my Inbox called Cabinet (think of it as a filing cabinet). I do this by right-clicking my name at the top of the folder structure and telling Outlook I want to create a new folder. Then I create new folders under Cabinet that help me categorize those emails I want to save. I name them after clients or events, etc to make finding things easy. Then, after receiving an acknowledgement from someone of an email I sent, for example, I just drag it into an appropriate folder in my Cabinet!

There you have it! Nick's tricks to managing email and keeping the mailbox database efficient! I hope you find it helpful!