IIS bundled with SMTP functionality

Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) is the web sever for Windows platform. However, it is a surprise to know that by default, there is a SMTP server working side by side when IIS is installed. The redundant SMTP server might give rise to security attacks. For those network administrators that are aware of this issue, they have stopped the SMTP from auto-start in the network administration tools.

The reality is that still Many IIS stations which act as web servers still have the useless SMTP daemon not yet removed.


Goodbye to Longhorn

Wooo.. at last, Microsoft finally decided to drop the official name "Longhorn" for the next release of Windows. The new name is "Vista". Frankly, Longhorn is an uninspiring name. Vista is a perfect name indicating the new OS will have a distant view or prospect. However, Vista has been registered by a software company. It is interesting to see how Microsoft could settle the legal issue of stealing other people's registered names.

Take a look at the poorly designed Longhorn logo and compare it with new Windows Vista logo. Vista logo is simple, cystal clear and elegant in design.

Haha.....Microsoft has taken a wise move to abandon Longhorn as the official brand name.


Firefox pdf2html plugin

I find the Firefox pdf2html plugin from rabotat.org. This is one of the most useful plugins I have found for use in Firefox. With this plugin installed, whenever I click to access a pdf file, there are three options offered, (i) save the pdf file, (ii) view the pdf file in a new window or (3) view the html file in a new window.

The reason I want to use this plugin is to copy and paste contents from pdf files to plain text for transfer to other file formats.


New functions in PRTG

PRTG gets new functions now to monitor bandwidth usage by different services such as HTTP, FTP and SMTP. This requires the aid of a packet sniffer to monitor the traffic carried over different port numbers. With this spendid idea, PRTG has more functions than traditional MRTG.



WEEE is the short name of waste electrical electronic equipment.

Presumably, many people in London have seen WEEEman sculpture placed near London Bridge. The WEEE man is built from the amount of electrical and electronic waste the average British person creates in their lifetime. On average, a British citizen produces 3.3 tonnes of WEEE in his/her lifetime. Most countries are running out of landfill to bury WEEE.

One problem identified is that people change their mobile phones frequently in pursuit of updated versions or trendier styling. An average person change his/her mobile phone just 11 months but the phone can have a usable lifetime of 7 years.

Time to considerate the impact to our environment when you want to buy new electrical or electronic products.


Queen of Rock N Roll

Quite some time ago, I mentioned in my blog that I picked "Ronnie James Dio" as the King of Rock N Roll. Now it's time for me to tell who is my Queen of Rock N Roll. Joan Jett is my idol for a long time. I love her voice, the way she plays her guitar and the rock beats in every song she sings. Indeed, she has been my Queen of Rock N Roll for a long time.

These are the great rock songs I chant in this month :

"Long live rock and roll - Ronnie James Dio

For those about to rock, we salute you - AC DC

I love Rock N Roll - Joan Jett and the Blackheart

I haste myself for loving you - Joan Jett and the Blackheart

Highway Star - Deep Purple"


Delete NTFS Partition

Somebody asked me how to delete Win2k or Windows XP NTFS partition. The fact is DOS FDISK command seems not able to detect NTFS partition. I recall that there is a tool "delpart.exe" which could be found in NT Resource Kit. Just wonder why Microsoft does not give Win2k and XP users this useful tool which has been available for quite a long time ???


Support for IPv6

I am a keen supporter for IPv6. Sadly, from time to time, I still hear people saying that there is no need to go for IPv6. These people include telecommunications experts in the ITU.

In the past decade, we all witness how the Internet change the way we do business and the way we live. Internet has bceome an important part of our human civilization. What we need now is a robust, reliable and efficient information foundation. Think it this way, the foundation of a building (brick and steel) determines how high a building can be built. The information foundation (networks) will determine how far our future civilization can reach. If we do not build a good information foundation now, our next generation will defintely suffer.

I notice this slogan from Green Peace in promoting environmental protection:


The slogan could equally be used to promote the implementation of IPv6.


Motorola Altair WLAN

As far as I can recall, Motorola is the first vendor to produce WLAN in 1990 and the product was named "Altair". The frequency band in use is 18.82 - 18.87 GHz, running with proprietary proctocol. Of course, the price was prohibitively high and such kinds of products with proprietary standard did not gain wide market acceptance.


The Soldier is the Network

In future warfare, every single solider is a network-connected fighting machine on the battlefield. Accessing a drop-down eyepiece on his helmet, called an Integrated Helmet Assembly Subsystem, he glances at a virtual computer monitor that links him to a GPS system showing his location as well as a live video feed from unmanned aerial vehicles.

He quickly checks computer-generated graphical data, digital maps, intelligence information, troop locations, and imagery fed from his weapon-mounted TWS (Thermal Weapon Sight). By scanning an area with the TWS, the soldier sees enemy positions. His climate controlled, lightweight body armor gives him ease of motion as he positions himself for battle.

Wooo…. each person is a network with routing capability to everyone else and the cascading networks, all IP-based, are dynamic and self-configured as the troops advance.

The “soldier is the network” will become a reality in ten years’ time.


Father of the Internet

Dr. Vinton Cerf is famoulsy known as the Father of the Internet.

In 1973, he invented the transmission-control protocol (TCP). The main idea was to enclose packets in "datagrams." These datagrams were to act something like envelopes containing letters. The content and format of the letter is not important for its delivery. The information on the envelope is standardized to facilitate delivery. TCP allowed networks to be joined into a network of networks, or what we now call the Internet.

In 1978, Dr Cerf and several of his colleagues made a major refinement. They split TCP into two parts. They took the part of TCP that is responsible for routing packages and formed a separate protocol called the Internet Protocol (IP). TCP would remain responsible for dividing messages into datagrams, reassembling messages, detecting errors, putting packets in the right order, and resending lost packets. The new protocol was called TCP/IP. It went on to become the standard for all Internet communication.

In 1997, President Clinton presented Cerf and his partner, Robert Kahn, with the U.S. National Medal of Technology for founding and developing the Internet.


Can US be the leader in IPV6

The US Government has been accused by the IT industry of not doing enough to promote the use of IPv6. In the US IPv6 Summit 2004, Mr Alex Lightman, the Chairman of the 4G Society, gave these words to the Government :

1. If there is no federal mandate for IPv6, the US cannot lead in IPv6 compared to countries that do have or soon will have national mandates with sufficient funding.
2. China, Japan, Korea, India, and the European Union are eager to compete with the US and have trade surpluses with the US to fund their transitions.
3. If the US does not lead in IPv6, the US cannot lead in the Internet.
4. If the US does not lead in the Internet, it cannot lead in Information Technology
5. If the US does not lead in Information Technology, it cannot lead in high technology.
6. If the US does not lead in high technology, it will be difficult to lead the world in anything except for deficits.
7. We will lose opportunities in satellites, automotive, energy, toys, apparel, food, 4G wireless, and a broadbandenable service export boom.
8. If the US does not lead in anything but deficits, its economy will shrink even as its population increases.


Trials of Chinese Domain Names in HK

HKDNR has announced to give free trial of Chinese domain names for 6 months. Without a second thought, I have registered two Chinese domain names.

Actually, the Unicode names shall be converted to punycode strings in order to configure DNS setting. Punycode is the standard coding scheme to convert Unicode strings to limited characters supported by DNS. For instance, my temporary registered domain name is "電信局.暫時.HK" in Unicode will be translated as "XN--VUQ841AX29B.XN--KJVZI.HK" in punycode.

On client browsers, in order to support Chinese domain names, the i-Nav plugin developed by Verisign must be installed. This is for Microsfot IE only. What a pity that there is no such plugin for Firefox and other browsers.


Google Earth

I never realize I have the chance to play with satellite images until I find Google Earth. Google Earth let me see the aerial views of many locations on the planet from satellite images. From the globe, I can locate the building I am living. No doubt, I will use it to find interesting land marks before planning to visit other countries.

This is a very demanding software package. Pentium P4 CPU and 3D graphic cards are required. Of course, high speed Internet connection is a must because when you zoom a location, Google's server will delivered the appropriate satellite images to your PC.

Google always develop new ideas that make all human being surprise. What is the next big project of Google ?


4-port Ethernet Hub

Today, it is very difficult to buy Ethernet hubs in any computer shopping centers in Hong Kong. I have been searching for some time and last Staurday, I saw Arlotto 4-port hub at Golden Shopping Center. The sales guy asked me to pay HK$70. I argued that hubs were being phased out in networking use and he agreed to sell it to me at HK$50.

Hubs create a lot of collision in networking. They should be used as seldom as possible and should only be deployed when the no. of networked stations is small, say below 10. However, an ethernet hub in association with a protocol analyzer is an indispensable tool to troubleshoot network problems.


Portable Firefox on USB Drive

A clever IT guy named John Haller has developed Portable Firefox, a fully functional package of Firefox optimized for use on a USB key drive. He even wants to make Mozilla Thunderbird and OpenOffice as packages in portable devices.

The release of Portable Firefox sounds a great news to me since I do not have the admin rights to install new software for my office PC.


No. of CCIE worldwide

On Cisco web site, it shows that there are 12,212 CCIEs worldwide.

Total of Routing and Switching CCIEs         :  11647
Total of Security CCIEs : 482
Total of Service Provider CCIEs : 210
Total of Storage Networking CCIEs : 9
Total of Voice CCIEs : 152
3706 of these experts are in In Asia Pacific Rim. In our places, 1473 CCIEs are working in China while 159 are working in Hong Kong. Just wonder what kinds of job position should these experts hold ???



Linksys USB 802.11b client

The left picture shows an old model of 802.11b client designed by Linksys. I like the steerable antenna and the USB extension cord which allows me to place the whole unit in a best transmit and receive position. The performance is much better than that design as USB finger style 802.11b/g WLAN clients. Actually, no matter you plug a little finger client in the front or rear position of a PC's case, the metal case itself either block or absorb a great deal of electrogmagnetic energy.


Integrating Browsers with Bittorrent

The two browsers, Opera and Mozilla Firefox will soon have built-in Bittorrent downloaders.

Opera is already ready to release a test package.

For Firefox, Mozilla has started the Moztorrent project with the aim of releasing the moztorrent plugin and another standalone BT client named as "watermonkey".

Well.. how about Microsoft IE. Researchers at Microsoft's computer science lab in Cambridge have developed a peer-to-peer filesharing system called Avalanche. Using a proprietary network coding technique, the researchers claim download times are between 20-30 per cent faster than BT. It is not yet known if Avalanche will part of future release of IE.


ECS 760GX-M Mother Board

I bought this motherboard with an Athlon XP-M 2800+ CPU at HK$990.

The onboard SiS 760GX chipset can display 3D graphics and the maximum sharable memory can be up to 128M. That is to say, a PC game station can be realized but it is naive to expect playing high-end 3D games without resorting to a high quality AGP8X 3D display card.

My budget for a game station with this motherboard is just HK$2200. Wooooooo., about the prices of AMD Sempron 2000 PC stations sold in Sham Shui Po.


Anti-spam measure of Netvigator

Netvigator has established two SMTP servers for its customers to send out email. For those that have the sender email addersses as @netvigator.com, @hkstar.com, they could use "mail.netvigator.com" and no SMTP authentication is required. However, in case users have sender email addresses from other domains, they must use the second mail sever "smtp.netvigator.com". For connection to this mail server, SMTP authentication by means of POP password is required.

Though the security is tightened, I do not see how these measures could deter users from spaming.


Security key fob

HSBC will issue to Internet bank account users a security token device in the form of a key fob for Internet banking transaction. In future, users will need to key in username, password and the one-time-password genearted from the security key fob for any transaction. This is in response to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority's call for two-factor authentication for Internet banking in Hong Kong.

Still two more methods for two-factor authentication, One is the digital ceritifcate approach and the other is SMS-based one-time-password. For the former, the users have to renew their digital ceriticates with hongkongpost on an annual basis. As for the latter, time will be wasted in waiting for the bank to send the SMS-based one-time-password.

I think HSBC makes the best choice in adopting the security token method which brings the least inconvenience to end users.


low cost game PC station

I want to make a low-end entry-level game PC station for my son during the summer vacation. It's about HK$2073 with the following config :

1. Asrock P4VM8 mother board - HK$355
2. Intel Celeron 2.4 GHz CPU - HK$528
3. Geforce 64 MB AGPx8 display card - HK$220
4. 80G ATA-100 hard disk - HK$420
5. 52x Combo CD-ROM - HK$290
6. 256M DDR 400 RAM - HK$190
7. Case and power supply - HK$200
8. Floppy disk drive - HK$40
9. Keyboard and mouse - HK$100

A licensed copy of Windows XP Home will add extra HK$700, hence the total cost amounts to HK$2773. Hmmm.., I shall make the PC available by next week.



Packetyzer is a Windows user interface for the Ethereal packet analysis engine. It is built on winpcap and Ethereal but with a more powerful user interface.

In using Ethereal, I encounter a problem of setting the display filter. Packetyzer helps me to easily set display filter without memorizing the ugly syntax.

However, packetyzer can not handle a large file size. Files of captured packets in Ethereal format of up to 100 Mbyte can be handled by Ethereal without problem.


Linux and the movie Titanic"

In the movie "Titanic", all the visual effects were generated by a cluster of Linux computers :

In 1997, during the work on Titanic, the estimated computer facility required involved approximately 350 SGI CPUs, 200 DEC Alpha CPUs and 5 terabytes of disk all connected by a 100Mbps or faster network, running under the OS DEC Unix. The cost was far too prohibitive and Digital Domain turned to Linux. Finally, the configuration was made up of 160 433 MHz DEC Alpha systems, 105 were running Linux and the remaining 55 were operating Windows NT. I got a picture of the facility set up at that time:

According to Digital Domain, the low entry cost, versatility and interoperability of Linux is sufficiently attractive to warrant more extensive investigation, experimentation and deployment in the film production industry.