Does anonymity breed contempt?

Anonymity_SQ“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” To some extent, that’s still true – but not nearly as much so as it was in 1993 when that famous cartoon was published in the New Yorker. In the early days, everybody went by “screen names” or “handles” such as CrazyFox233 or DoctorJ. With the advent of social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, whose terms of service require that you use your real name, anonymity is rapidly disappearing. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

There are certainly some excellent talking points on both sides of that argument. Like everyone else, I have my own opinion, formed by my own experiences. Maybe there’s a bit of the exhibitionist in me, but I have always preferred to let those with whom I’m dealing know up front who I am. I guess, as a writer, I see my words as uniquely mine and I want the credit (or blame) for them.
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Troubleshooting networks with TCPing

Troubleshooting_SQAnother one of my favorite tools for troubleshooting networks is TCPing, by Eli Fulkerson. This small, self-contained command line tool is to TCP what ping.exe is to ICMP, which is to say a totally awesome way to troubleshoot networks and more with minimal effort. If you’d like to learn how to evaluate firewall connectivity, check on service restarts, and determine if servers are up even when ICMP is being blocked, read on for more on TCPing.

Getting TCPing “installed”

For starters, you need to download TCPing from While you are there, grab TCProute, and we will cover that in an upcoming post. Once you download it, copy it to any directory that is in your path. It’s self-contained, so you don’t need to install anything, register any DLLs, or do anything else other than be able to execute it.

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Trying again: Microsoft re-releases flawed patch

FlawedPatchRerelease_SQMicrosoft just can’t catch a break with this month’s security updates. As we reported a little over a week ago, some of the patches were causing blue screens and other problems – to such an extent that Microsoft was recommending to customers that they uninstall the problematic updates.

In an effort to rectify the problems, the company replaced one of the updates that was released on Patch Tuesday (KB2982791) with a brand new one (KB2993651). Last Friday, Microsoft removed four patches (KB 2982791, KB 2970228, KB 2975719, and KB 2975331) from Windows Update, all of which had been reported to cause varying degrees of problems on both Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 systems.
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How to resolve ADFS issues with Event ID 364

Troubleshooting_SQActive Directory Federation Services, or ADFS to its friends, is a great way to provide both Identity Provider and Identity Consumer functions in your environment. With it, companies can provide single sign-on capabilities to their users and their customers using claims-based access control to implement federated identity. It is based on the emerging, industry-supported Web Services Architecture, which is defined in WS-* specifications.

One common error that comes up when using ADFS is logged by Windows as an Event ID 364-Encounterd error during federation passive request. There are three common causes for this particular error. If you encounter this error, see if one of these solutions fixes things for you. Continue reading

Yet another sysadmin’s compendium of cheat sheets

CheatsheetsYetAnother_SQOur Sysadmin compendium of cheat sheets was a real hit with our readers and by popular request we’ve added yet another compendium of cheat sheets, quick references, and general quick hits. This time round, we’re including some reader requests, including SCCM and System Manager, as well as expanding on some of the other topics we covered in rounds one and two. Have a look and see what new bookmarks you can add to your browser.

System Center Configuration Manager

By reader request, some cheat sheets on SCCM/ConfigMgr and related products. This is a field rather lacking in one-pagers, so if you know the product, there’s an audience out there for your blog!
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What’s new in GFI FaxMaker 2014?

FaxMaker2014Launch_SQSome people are amazed that companies are still sending and receiving faxes in this day and age. Surprisingly, faxing is one technology that has kept pace with change and evolved, adapting to new methods of delivery and platforms. Product manager, Scott Hagenus explains how the latest version of GFI FaxMaker is keeping up with the times and what’s so special about this release.

Q: Scott, simple question: why faxing?

When companies need to deliver documents of value quickly, and delivery of those documents needs to be guaranteed, they will most likely use fax.

Faxing has been around for over 100 years, and preceded – the telephone – so if it wasn’t such a rock solid form of communication with real benefits, no one would use the technology. As with every technology, there are some hurdles to overcome and drawbacks as well. Traditionally, faxing is a manual process and you’re also faced with the cost of consumables (paper, ink and so on).
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Introducing: The great cloud guidebook

GreatCloudGuidebook_SQThe string of benefits that cloud-based computing offers businesses is a strong driver to migrate to the cloud. At the same time, there are, as always, possible downsides that should be considered before taking that all-important dive. Where do you start from? With a guidebook, of course.

Hot on the heels of our ebook The security experts’ guide to the cloud, today we are launching another ebook on the cloud, The great cloud guidebook, packed with advice and information by 10 experts and independent authors. In our first ebook, we focused on security; this time round, our cloud pundits talk ‘everything’ cloud.
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13 things every employee should do before calling the helpdesk

13ThingsBeforeCallingHelpdesk_SQIf you work in IT, at some point in your career you formed part of the ‘the helpdesk’ team. You may have started there or you might still be leading the team. In many organizations, the sysadmin fulfils all roles so they can rarely escape those phone calls.

You all had those ‘dreadful’ callers who always seem to have the worst technology day of their lives, demanding you solve the problem yesterday because they have an important meeting or file to print out…

Been there, done that, most of you will say; but is there something you could have done to reduce the number of calls? Yes, there is and it begins when a new employee joins the company. That’s when the training begins.
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Could your business survive a day without IT?

No ITMost of us take reliable technology for granted – just like modern conveniences such as electricity and running water. But what if you had no access to IT for a whole day…how would that affect your business?

What do you do when there is a power-cut? Often, you’ll walk into the kitchen and immediately try to switch the light on, or power up the kettle to make a hot drink. Even though you know there’s a power outage, you’re so used to having on-demand access to certain things that it takes a second to realize the true implications.

The same thing applies when IT systems go down. Initially, it’s all a bit different and perhaps even a little exciting. Staff may even relish the prospect of a slightly longer lunch-break, or a guilt-free gossip around the water-cooler. However, it doesn’t take long before reality sets in.
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Organized cybercrime: bad guys go pro, highlighting “customer service”

J003-Content-OrganizedCybercrime_SQBack when I was a police officer in suburban Texas, most of the criminals I dealt with weren’t very bright. Burglars and embezzlers, druggies and drunk drivers and domestic violence perpetrators, they had that in common. Even the ones who were well educated and held impressive job titles weren’t nearly as clever in carrying out their illicit activities. You see a lot of brilliant criminal masterminds in the movies but we didn’t see many of them in real life. But that was in Life 1.0, a.k.a. Life before the Internet.

One of the things that always made it easier for law enforcement to catch and prosecute the bad guys was the fact that the majority worked alone or with one or two fumbling, bumbling partners. From petty thievery to murder, most crimes weren’t well-thought-out. Criminal types were usually impulsive and consequently made a lot of mistakes that led to their downfall. The exception was organized crime, exemplified by the Italian Mafia – and members of those criminal organizations proved much more difficult to bring to justice.
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