Securing Windows

Found a neat applet for making sure that I have the latest and most secure versions of my software created by Secunia. It’s called the Secunia Software Inspector and when I ran it on my computer I found that both my Java JRE and Adobe Flash were out of date. Keeping up with security fixes is a pain.

Also, the latest version of uTorrent apparently has a vulnerability [secunia.com]. I wonder why this isn’t made really obvious on uTorrent’s homepage?

Custom file name separator for Windows Media Player

After a failed attempt at finding out how to use a custom file name separator using google I located the registry value where Windows Media Player stores the separator using RegMon. So simple I really should’ve tried that first ūüôā

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\MediaPlayer\
Preferences\CDRecordFileSeparator

I’ve only tried setting the value to ‘¬†– ‘¬†which works just fine,¬†but any other string¬†probably works too. ¬†

Fixing “LUA bugs” article

Fixing “LUA bugs”, Part I by Aaron Margosis, an interesting read about how to handle applications that needs an administrator account to run even though they really shouldn’t need it.

The first, and best, solution is to let the applications developer fix it. Although it sounds great on paper, right now it seems really hard to convince some developers to make sure their applications run as a non-admin user. At least that is what I found out when I contacted Sony-Ericsson. But game developers are probably the worst when it comes to making their games run as non-admin. If their plan has been all along to make me stop playing PC games and move over to playing only on my Xbox they’ve succeeded.

Link

Trying to use a limited account on windows xp

When I recently reinstalled Windows XP on my main computer at home I decided to try to use an limited user account as much as possible. An interesting experience to say the least. After I had installed Windows I created two users, me and an account with administrator rights called Installation that I intended to only use when installing new applications and system maintenance. Using fast user switching to switch back and forth when necessary has made installing new things relatively painless. Not that I install new things that often, not after the initial rush to get the things I knew I wanted to use installed anyways.

Not all applications play nice when run with limited privileges though. A little bit disappointing but not very surprising, and since it is mostly minor issues I’ll probably continue with a limited user account as my main account.

Previously I used a bittorrent client called BitComet, but it wouldn’t work correctly now. Even if I made the .ini file in its application directory writable by all it wouldn’t download torrents. So I switched to ¬ĶTorrent that I had read about a while ago and it worked just fine.

KeePass Password Safe, an opensource application I use for storing passwords. It also uses an .ini file in its application directory to store settings, which is by default readonly. Easily worked around, and it seems to work even if you don’t allow it to write to its .ini file, but you loose the ability to change any settings in the interface.

The software that came with my phone that among other things has a tool that lets my synchronize my contacts and calendar with Outlook, Sony Ericsson PC Suite, wont start at all. I tried to contact their support about it but after having filled out a support form I get nothing but 404:s when trying to submit. It would appear not only their phone hardware has issues.

FeedDemon 1.6 RC2, my favourite rss-reader, gave some error when started until it had been started once using an administrator account. Hopefully it will be fixed before the final version is released, installer issue probably.

Yet another chat client I use, Xfire, has a file download feature that does not work since it writes the downloaded files to its application directory, and I haven’t found a way to change that location. But chatting works, and that is what I use it for.

The price for the worst behaviour when run with a user account though goes to EA’s Battlefield 2. It seems it needs administrator privileges to run, there is a small note about administrator privileges on the box. But nowhere in the manual or elsewhere is it stated when it needs administrator privileges. Naively I thought I might as well try to run it, maybe it was only when installing the elevated privileges where needed. Unfortunately what happened was that the game happily started and when I tried to join a server I got a message popup that told me that my key no longer was valid. Not cool. Why not just detect that I didn’t have administrator privileges and tell me that it is needed, instead of detecting that I didn’t have administrator privileges and invalidate my key? I’m not impressed. Hopefully their support can do something about my key so I can play again. ūüôĀ

Not all applications I use has had obvious problems though. Here is a short list of applications I regularely use that so far has worked just fine:

Update: Battlefield 2 has started working again, earlier it said invalid key even if I started it on an administrator account, but when I tried today I could play.

Windows XP with User privileges

Found an interesting wiki while looking for information about how to best configure my parents computer so they can use accounts with user privileges as much as possible. With the increasing amount of spyware, adware, rootkits and malware in circulation it seems one has to have a computer science degree to be able judge what is save to install and what is not. ūüôĀ

Link: nonadmin wiki