Removing IE9 from Windows 7 (and keeping it off)

Update: This article covers removal, see the IE9 Blocker Toolkit from Microsoft to keep it from installing. If you’re looking for registry options, the important values are DoNotAllowIE90 and DoNotOfferIE90 in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Setup\9.0.

I’ve had to remove Internet Explorer 9 from a variety of new PCs lately because they’re connecting to online services (hospitals, medical labs, radiology services, etc.) that are not yet compatible with the new version, including issues in Compatibility mode. I’ve also needed to provide instructions (now reproduced here) for some physicians to do the same on home PCs so they can connect into those same systems.

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Viewing DICOM (Medical) CDs on Windows 7

Of the large number of medical practices shifting to Electronic Medical Records/EMR most are also updating older PCs at the same time. Updating to Windows 7 (generally 64-bit) raises compatibility problems with older medical imaging CDs and with current CDs created with older versions of software. In my case, I have two customers who’ve recently replaced many of their PCs with systems running Windows 7 x64, particularly for the physicians. Both experienced problems viewing diagnostic images (DICOM) on discs using eFilm Lite, but the same issues may apply to other packages as well. When this happens, it’s necessary to either use a different software package or (possibly) jump through some hoops to use a different version of the bundled software.

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Simple Rules for Avoiding Malware in Email

Here’s a bit of a writeup I did for some folks who were being hit with a bout of malware email messages (the actual attachments were being removed by our filters).

The message(s) you received were an attempt to infect your computer with malware, the mail server on receiving the message removed the dangerous attachment but in general if you receive an attachment that you’re not expecting, do not open it – malware writers are creative and may come up with something that the mail server won’t block, at least not while the attack is new. This is the first attempt I remember seeing that pretended to be travel arrangements, but it’s not a surprising development.

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USB Bluetooth on Kubuntu 11.04 (Natty)

I recently ended up with an ASUS Eee-PC tablet/netbook (T101MT) to play with. Reviews for the system were less than stellar, based in large part on it shipping with Windows 7 Starter edition (which is lacking in both features and good touchscreen/tablet support), so after a bit of partition rearrangement to free up space, I installed Kubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal on it – the same thing I’m using on my desktop.

The Ubuntu community has good support and documentation for both this machine and for running Ubuntu and Kubuntu on netbooks, so getting everything going was remarkably painless with two notable exceptions: getting a USB Bluetooth adapter working, and getting the screen to lock when I manually put the tablet to sleep (after a little fiddling with screen savers & settings, it locks fine if it goes to sleep due to idle timeout). I’ve seen some recommendations for the sleep locking issue and will pursue that later, but in this article I’ll do a bit of diagnosing and configuring to get Bluetooth working.

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National MS Society Fundraising Walk

I and several neighbors will be participating participated in the National MS Society fundraising walk in Chicago’s northwest suburbs on May 2, 2010. If you’d like to sponsor our team (The College Hillers) please visit my Walk MS Personal Page.

We do have a commitment from a private party to match the contributions we receive and we haven’t hit the limit on that yet, so anything you donate will effectively be doubled.

The walk was a great success, and we (our local team and the event as a whole) did a great job!

ESVACommunity.com is the new home for ESVA (Email Security Virtual Appliance) (2011-August)

Update 2011-10-13:
ESVA is now at the ESVA Community – Email Security Virtual Appliance site. Registration for the previous site at global-domination.org expired and attempts to re-register it were unsuccessful, so that site is now serving ads. Please visit the ESVA Community Forums for information on how to upgrade your installation, etc.

The title of this post has been changed from “ESVA Website (global-domination.org) Down, Probably Permanently, 2010-March, Back 2010-July” to help people find the new community development site. All active links to the old site have been disabled to avoid directing traffic to the domain squatter.

Update 2011-08-07:

At this point it appears that Andy MacLachlan, the creator of ESVA, has moved on in his life and no longer has time to be involved with development and maintenance of ESVA or the global-domination.org website. Several of the more active forum members have set up the ESVA Community site at http://www.esvacommunity.com/, including ESVA Forums. The future of the global-domination.org site is up in the air at this point but may clarify in the next couple of weeks (I’m attempting to register the domain to link to the ESVA Community site).

Update 2010-08-07: Several updates of note pulled from the comments.

  • The main site and Andy are back, see the last few comments for more info.
  • Downloads of 2.0.5.7 are available, see the 2010-04-08 update at the end of this post.
  • Updates beyond 2.0.5.7 are not currently available, but people are working on it.
  • Most discussion should probably be moving to the ESVA Interim Forums at http://rbe1.de/ESVA
  • There is a semi-commercial fork of the project at ESVA.Libra.IT, there has been some controversy over it but the developers of that project are also involved in the discussions and further project work at the forums. It also has its own forum.

Update 2010-04-12: The problem is being worked on; read for details.

Just a note because I’ve been seeing searches hit my site looking for information on this.

The Email Security Virtual Appliance (ESVA) website is down, I do not have any information on why but it doesn’t appear to be a domain registration or DNS issue – it’s something on the hosting side. I’ve been unsuccessful in contacting the creator/maintainer of ESVA, but I wasn’t corresponding with him before so I don’t have a known-good email address – just two old ones that may not still be in use. He does travel for business and has disappeared from the ‘net in the past while doing so, so everything may be restored at any time if he’s simply out of contact.

Continue reading ESVACommunity.com is the new home for ESVA (Email Security Virtual Appliance) (2011-August)

List of USB Flash Drives with Hardware Write Protection

Frequently when troubleshooting or cleaning PCs (ah, the joys of small business IT) it’s useful to have a bundle of tools that you can use. I generally use multiboot antivirus CDs created with Shardana Antivirus Rescue Disc Utility (SARDU) with additional utilities put in the Extras directory, but sometimes it’s hard to beat the convenience of a USB flash drive. Unfortunately very few flash drives still have the hardware write protect switch that was common years ago.

Here’s a listing of drives that still include that hardware write protection, along with some other options that might work though not as well. This listing is based on reports from several discussion boards in 2009-2010 as well as a list prepared and maintained by c’t Magazine (German) (or via Google Translate). Where available I provide links to the manufacturers and possibly to stores where the drives are available. Please comment with any corrections or additional drives to be added to the list.

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(Fix) postfix: Recipient address rejected: Domain not found

We had a problem last weekend with Postfix not accepting email for a single domain when it was coming from outside our network, while messages from hosts on the local network were accepted and routed with no problems. Messages from outside the network were rejected with a 450 (temporary) code and the error message “Recipient address rejected: Domain not found”. The cause did end up being a DNS problem (apparently the most common kind of issue with Postfix), but not one that I would have expected (a missing host entry for the top-level domain, so example.com wouldn’t resolve even though mail.example.com did). Finding the source of the problem was complicated because of a set of several changes during a weekend maintenance window.

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Configuring apcupsd on Linux for Multiple USB UPSes

I recently needed to add monitoring of a UPS powering network equipment to a Linux server already monitoring one USB-connected UPS. Since the second UPS also uses a USB connection for monitoring apcpusd (the standard UPS management package for Linux systems) was not seeing it. This is not a fault of the software – it’s designed to work pretty much seamlessly with detection of a single UPS and does so, but autodetectin multiple battery backups would still require some level of manual configuration – at the very least, which one(s) are powering the monitoring system in case it needs to shut down? The solution is to set up udev rules to let the system recognize each attached UPS as a distinct device using the serial number of the UPS, then follow the instructions for managing multiple UPSes in the manual. Continue reading Configuring apcupsd on Linux for Multiple USB UPSes

(Fix) OpenOffice.org Hangs When I Start Typing

I ran into a minor difficulty recently on a Linux desktop PC (CentOS 5.4) updated to the recently released OpenOffice.org 3.2, specifically the Go-Oo.org variant that includes some options and tweaks left out of the primary branch. OpenOffice.org 3.2 would start without difficulties, but as soon as I started to type the application would completely freeze up or hang. I only checked this in Calc and Writer, but I suspect that it applies to all of the other components as well and from what I’ve read it’s not specific to CentOS (or other RedHat-derived distributions).

After a bit of searching, I ended up at this thread: OpenOffice-3.0.1 hangs if SCIM is active. Boiled down to something for those not interested in the technical details, OpenOffice.org 3.x has problems with some configurations of SCIM, the “Smart Common Input Method platform.”
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