Dan Bright's .NET Weblog

March 2003 - Posts

Preparing the sacrifices...

Well, after having seen one too many NINJA SCANNING X10 pop-up's from some strange and as-of-yet unidentified ad-ware, I am embarking on the (seemingly) monthly tribal ritual.  I can almost smell the smoke as I copy everything over to my mirrored RAID volume for posterity.


I am contemplating the installation of Slackware 9, or Mandrake 9.1 also…  I have a stripped 160gb volume on my other RAID channel, and I never seem to use more than 30 gigs or so (that’s counting the MS Transfer Manager directory from MSDN that always seems full of gig’s & gig’s of something…).


Of course this all stems from trying to fix the %@*% debugging problems I’m having with VS.NET 2002 & 2003, which somehow caused the IIS service to lock itself in the upright & closed position.


Also, was anyone else aware that the (?maybe?) final build of the .NET Framework 1.1 is sitting on the Outlook 2003 w/ Business Contact Manager Beta 2 CD? (1.1.4322.0).


Maybe that was my problem…


There comes a point where “cutting edge” will end up leaving you bleeding. 


(This message has been brought to you by Office 2003 Beta 2, Windows 2000 SP 4 Beta, Windows 2003 Std. Server Post-RC2, and the letters Q and A)

Posted: Mar 25 2003, 10:55 PM by DanB | with no comments
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Free Chapter From Content Syndication with RSS

I just saw this in the NewsGatorNews & Updates Feed:

Content Syndication with RSS

Through our arrangement with O'Reilly & Associates, we are pleased to bring you Chapter 2: Content Syndication Architecture, from the new book, Content Syndication with RSS, by Ben Hammersley.

From the chapter introduction:

In this chapter, we'll look at how RSS feeds are structured: both the feed itself and the way RSS fits into the whole web publishing picture.

Read the full text online!

Log Parser Tool 2.0

Microsoft has released a cool little utility for searching log files.

The Log Parser 2.0 tool lets you run SQL-like queries on log files of almost any format, and then display the results in a file format of your choice, in a SQL database, or on a screen. Log Parser is available as a command-line tool and as a set of scriptable Component Object Model (COM) objects.

You can use Log Parser to:

  • Quickly search for data and patterns in log files.
  • Create a variety of reports.
  • Export data to a SQL database.
  • Convert data between different file formats.

Log Parser supports the following input formats:

  • IISW3C: Internet Information Services (IIS) W3C Extended format.
  • IIS: IIS-formatted and IIS-generated log files.
  • IISMSID: Generated when the MSIDFILT filter or the CLOGFILT filter is installed.
  • ODBC: IIS Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) format that reads data directly from the SQL table populated by IIS when the Web server is configured to log to an ODBC target.
  • NCSA: National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) format.
  • BIN: Binary file format that is generated by IIS 6.0. Contains the requests received by the virtual Web sites on the same server running IIS 6.0.
  • URLSCAN: Generated by the URLScan filter if it is installed on IIS.
  • HTTPERR: IIS 6.0 HTTP error log files format.
  • W3C: W3C log file format, such as for personal firewall, Windows Media Services, and Exchange tracking logs.
  • EVT: Event messaging format from the Windows Event log, including system, application, security, and custom event logs, as well as from event log backup files.
  • FS: File information from the specified path, such as file size, creation time, and file attributes. It is similar to an advanced dir command.
  • CSV: Generic comma-separated value format.
  • TEXTWORD: Generic text format.
  • TEXTLINE: Generic text format.
Let us remember...

Scott just touched on a very important issue.

"It looks like the time for debate is over. Regardless of what you think about the situation, it now looks like war is inevitable.  I think our thoughts and prayers should be with the soldiers on both sides."

I agree.  While my views on the war may not be that of President Bush, we MUST support our soldiers.  Remember that they are just doing their job.  I truely hope that this doesn't become another Vietnam-like conflict. 

Posted: Mar 17 2003, 08:39 PM by DanB | with no comments
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Dan Appleman's latest PDF eBook "Exploring .NET Volume 1"

Ijust recieved this notification from Amazon.com.  Luckily I didn't delete it without looking.  I was very impressed with Dan's great book on Regular Expressions, and the Obfuscation book was interesting too, if not a bit beyond my skills at the current time.

Dear Amazon.com Customer,

As someone who has purchased books by Dan Appleman from us in the past, you might like to know that "Exploring .Net Volume 1" is available for immediate download. This title is an e-document, so you will need Acrobat Reader to read it. If you do not already have Acrobat Reader installed on your PC or Mac, download the program for free at http://www.amazon.com/acrobatreader

Exploring .Net Volume 1
Our Price: $7.49

This e-document is a collection of seven shorter articles on a variety of .NET topics. Though most were previously published, all have been updated and in many cases expanded for this collection. Except for VB.NET specific topics, articles include both VB.NET and C# sample code. Contents include control arrays in .NET; an introduction to cryptography using .NET; calendars in .NET and how they can make it easy to localize your applications; Option Strict in VB.Net; custom attributes, and intercepting keystrokes in .NET.

** No, I don't work for Desaware or Dan Appleman, I'm just a fan of his previous works. **

Running Windows Server 2003 as a Workstation Guide

Neowin has re-posted their guide for running Win2K3 as a workstation.

I remember somone mentioning this a while back & thought I'd post it


So Windows 2003 Professional turned out to be a pipe dream, faster than we could get used to the idea being a reality it was played down/denied by Microsoft and all the knowledge base articles were removed to be corrected. It turned out to be an oversight. Well, we aren't ones to give up so easily at Neowin, so we have put together a guide that turns Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition into what we would rather call Windows 2003 Professional.

Why, I hear you scream? Well, there’s only one simple answer for that, because we can.


Looks very neat.  As soon as the RTM version hits the MSDN downloads I will probably be trying this out. 

In related news, CRN is reporting that the RTM date has been pushed back again, probably due to a problem in escrow for the last build, and WinBeta reports that build 3787 is the current build in escrow.

Everything still seems lined up for the April 24 launch date though. I will definately be at the Charlotte launch party to get my free TShirts...

Oh yeah, the Windows Server 2003 Technology Seminar for Technology Specialists (TS2) is making the rounds now.  It's a free day long seminar on deploying 2003 Server, and all of the attendees will recieve a free NFR copy of Server 2003 Standard w/ 5 CAL's.  Definately worth checking out.


Help your customers get enhanced productivity, enhanced functionality, and enhanced reliability -- without spending more money. Attend a free Microsoft® Technology Seminar for Technology Specialists (TS2) coming to your area.

We're offering two seminars to help you build revenue and keep pace with your customer's ever-evolving business needs. Our morning seminar will provide you with a helpful overview of Microsoft's full spectrum of productivity-enhancing small business solutions. Stay for the afternoon session and get an in-depth look at what the new Microsoft Windows Server 2003 brings to the small business world.


Posted: Mar 15 2003, 04:02 PM by DanB | with no comments
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A few things worth reading

ZDNet UK Tech Update has an article on optimizing NTFS performance in Windows servers:

Want to keep your Windows file systems at peak performance? Start by following this guide to tweaking cluster size, picking the best naming structure, and more

At the heart of your Windows NT or Windows 2000 server's file system is NTFS, short for the NT file system, the default file system for Microsoft Windows NT and 2000. NTFS controls where Windows NT/2000 locates files on the server's hard drive. It also controls security and access privileges for those files.

To get the most out of your server's hard drives, you must take NTFS into consideration. I'm going to show you how to wring the last drop of performance out of NTFS. I'll consider the importance of defragmentation, compression, naming schemes, and folder structure.

Also, you can check out this Windows XP Firewall Log Reader.

Basically the application reads the Windows XP firewall log (C:\WINDOWS\pfirewall.log) Enabling the built in Firewall with logging is required, or the Application will not be able find the Windows XP log.

And I found this neat blurb on bink.nu

Account features in Win2K SP4/SP5 and Win2K3 domains

Thursday there was a Support WebCast Microsoft Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 Password and Account Lockout Features and some interesting things were told.

I suggest to look at past and future webcasts you can learn a lot and better you can ask questions to the host when you view the webcast live!

Password length and possible permutations
6 characters = 689,869,781,056
7 characters = 64,847,759,419,264
8 characters = 6,095,689,385,410,816
9 characters = 572,994,802,228,616,704
10 characters = 53,861,511,409,489,970,176

Given a 60 day password expiry date and a password of 7 characters, it would require about 7,407,407 logon attempts per second to find the password
Play the lottery, the odds are much better!

Password security recommendations:

Security Category Account Lockout Settings** Password Policy Settings Cost
        Max Password Age   Password Age Password Length  
Low - - - 3 42 0 0 disabled Low
Medium 10 30 30 24 42 1 7 enabled Medium
High 10 30 Infinite/0 24 42 1 8 enabled High

Coming in win2kSP4 and in Win2k3

RunAs Security Audit: rogue client application/user traceability
Auditing improvements: determine which process on a computer is locking out an account Not in SP4, but SP 5 should have this feature

Acctinfo.dll: add ability to change password for the user account and computer account on the DC in the user’s computer’s site

On-demand replication: replicate single user object from PDC immediately after the retried authentication attempt on the PDC succeeds

N-2: last two passwords will be denied access, but the DCs will not increment their BadPwdCount for that user

New DSclient: included with Windows Server 2003 for Windows 98 and Windows 95 clients
323466, “Availability of the Directory Services Client Update for Windows 95”

New tools!

LockoutStatus.exe Displays multiple facets of a locked out account. Assists in finding the computers involved in the authentication chain.
ALockout.dll The tool attaches itself to various APIs that make calls to LogonUser and then dumps information about what is making those calls into a text file named Alockout.txt in winnt\debug
ALOinfo.exe Aloinfo.exe can be used to dump all user account names along with their password age. This will allow proactive setup with the Alockout.dll logging
Acctinfo.dll AcctinfoFO.dll is used to add new property pages to user objects in Active Directory users and computers to help isolate or troubleshoot account lockouts and to change a user’s password on a DC in that user’s site
NLParse Used to parse Netlogon logs for specific Netlogon return status codes. The output dumps to a CSV file that can be opened with Excel and sorted further if you need to. The return codes specific to account lockouts are 0xC000006A and 0xC0000234
EventCombMT A multithreaded tool used to gather specific events from event logs of several different computers from one central location. Includes a built-in search for an account lockout that is already preconfigured to include events 529, 644, 675, 676, and 681
FindStr A command-line tool built into Windows 2000 that can be used to parse several Netlogon.log files at once. Put all Netlogon.log files in one directory and run the following command: FindStr /I “User1” *netlogon*.log >c:\user1.txt
Replmon & Repadmin If Active Directory replication has not already been verified, Repadmin /showreps and Replmon can be used to verify proper Active Directory replication is occuring
Network Monitor If the account lockout is process or application related and an account is already locked out on a specific client computer, gather network traces of all traffic to and from that client computer while the account is still locked out. The application or process will probably continue sending bad credentials while trying to access resources on the network. If you have found the specific computer, but the user account is not yet locked out, then keep running Network Monitor until that user’s next lockout occurs, and then compare the new lockout event in Netlogon logs or security logs with the data captured in the trace by comparing time stamps of events and frames.

Cool tools! Well I got my hands on them. They are not supported by Microsoft (yet!)  View webcast or look at presentation for more info on these tools

  Bink.nu exclusive Download tools

View this Support WebCast (length: 2 hours) Download Presentation

Posted: Mar 13 2003, 01:51 AM by DanB | with 1 comment(s)
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Convert Windows Installer Databases (MSI) to XML Files

Scott Hanselman has pointed out a cool little utility:  MSI2XML


"The command line tool msi2xml converts Windows Installer Databases (.msi) to text based XML files. The complementary tool xml2msi reconstructs the .msi from the XML file."

Utterly brilliant. [Via Almost Perfect] [Via Joshua Allen.]

Ooooo....that is nice...

The command line tool msi2xml converts Windows Installer Databases (.msi) to text based XML files.
The complementary tool xml2msi reconstructs the .msi from the XML file.

There are several possible uses for msi2xml/xml2msi:

  • Quality assurance: use the human readable XML file to compare changes between different versions of a .msi file.
  • Version control: many version control systems are text based. Store the XML file instead of the .msi file.
  • Automated build systems: using xml2msi, existing installations may be updated with new files, and automatically rebuilt.
Posted: Mar 12 2003, 10:45 PM by DanB | with no comments
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My first article...

I just submitted my first article to CodeProject.  Its a DLL that will control Winamp2 Winamp3 or Sonique that can be used from other programs.  I originally wrote the DLL as part of my AmpControl plugin for Codename: Dashboard. Check it out and let me know what you think,  but go easy on me - this is the first article I have ever submitted anywhere...

Controlling Winamp2/3/Sonique Programmatically

Posted: Mar 12 2003, 11:45 AM by DanB | with no comments
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Developers Guild meeting and a conference too!

Last night's Enterprise Developers Guild meeting was pretty good. Bill McLuskie of extreme Logic gave a great presentation on Dynamic User Interfaces using both Web and Windows forms.  I picked up a few neat tricks like Namespace aliases, but since the presentation code was VB I left a bit confused.  (If anyone can clue me into how namespace aliasing works in C# I would be much appreciative).  

Over all it was a very good presentation. 

Also, I will (hopefully) be attending the TechFusion Technical Conferences next month.  This being my first dev conference I will probably have a great time.  Its nice to see people remembering the mid/southeast region of the US has developers too…

TechFusion connects you with the .NET technical information you need to guide your career and organization into the decade of .NET!

Move beyond the marketing messages and the overviews into advanced technical topics with Wintellect's John Robbins, Jeff Prosise, Jason Clark, Dan Fergus and other independent experts!

Accelerate your understanding of the .NET IDE; .NET security; .NET debugging; porting VB6 code to .NET; ASP.NET and much more!

Learn how .NET Technologies generate incredible ROI for organizations here at home and across the country. Hear how a local technology director did it, and in the process is created thousands of satisfied customers!

Prepare to successfully migrate your skills and your organization to .NET Technologies - and meet the local .NET architects, consultants, trainers, and software vendors who can show you how!”

Posted: Mar 12 2003, 06:25 AM by DanB | with 1 comment(s)
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