Auto Application Changes Could Spell Trouble

Changes to the auto application mandated by the Ontario government poses some serious repercussions for Ontario brokerages.  From the looks of things the new app will be part of the TAM 10.5 upgrade due out in August.  As already discussed in the appliedusers forums we are already seeing issues with the 10.x TAM versions and integration with the popular Compu-Quote Rating Services application.  That is not a good thing to have broken.  This also seems to push agencies to be on the bleeding edge of TAM whether they want to be or not.

more info from Applied Systems

APR and Apache upgrade

For the second time, I have run into a snag upgrading PHP, and Apache 2.x due to an Apache Portable Runtime dependency.  It’s a bit of an annoying snag, that on FreeBSD at least (if you are one who uses ports) requires some fancy footwork.

According to /usr/ports/UPDATING you need to:

pkg_delete -f apache-2.\*

portupgrade -f -o devel/apr1 devel/apr

reinstall apache port

I know this is fairly technical for the AU blog – but just in case anyone is running Apache for their web server, it’s good to know.

OpenDNS stops working?

We use OpenDNS as yet another layer of security and control, as enforcement of our Acceptable Use Policy, as well as some phishing and malware protection.  Today we suddenly found OpenDNS was returning perfectly valid IP addresses to queries for blocked domains, such as

I checked our settings and nothing seems amiss, and more disconcerting, I do not see anything on the OpenDNS site that gives any indicator that anything is wrong.

I would dismiss this as a hiccup or even something wrong on our network, but this is happening to two distinct networks and two distinct OpenDNS accounts.

In general I am fairly happy with OpenDNS and have used it for years, but rarely by itself, because, after all, it’s a DNS service in the cloud and neither should be trusted completely.

Tasklist and Taskkill – Windows util double-play

Want to know what processes are running on a remote host on your domain?  First, find your way to the command prompt (START -> RUN -> cmd)

tasklist -s hostname

Something look suspicious – a process either from an application the user should not be running, a frozen app or a piece of malware doing it’s business?

taskkill /S hostname /IM badprocess.exe

I find these two utils to be extremely useful and present a method to rapidly determine what is happening on a remote host and allowing admins to kill processes without requiring user intervention.

There are numerous additional switches for these utils giving them an impressive array of abilities, definitely something worth having in your IT toolbox.

A Diatribe on Dilution

Some have voiced concerns that having AppliedUsers as well as ASCnet threatens to dilute either the pool of knowledge or ASCnet membership and will have a negative impact on the support system for Applied products.  I do not buy into that line of thinking, AppliedUsers may provide some friendly competition (OK perhaps the friendly is a little one-sided), but we aren’t out to destroy ASCnet.  AppliedUsers is an alternative source of knowledge sharing as well as professional social networking and although our philosophy is that such things should be freely available to those who wish to take advantage, we do not dismiss altogether, the need for commercial products and services.

When was the last time you shopped at only one store,  or got your news from only one source, or put on only one shoe?  The point is, there is great value in having multiple resources for anything.  Many of us use Citrix in our professional lives, and I’m sure some of us have used the official Citrix forums (free by the way), but I’m also quite sure my fellow IT professionals have also relied on or have googled for an answer to a Citrix issue they are troubleshooting.

Choice is good, having options is good.

There is also the concern about having to look in two places.  You don’t have to look in two places, but if you cannot find your answer in one, why not check out another?  How many drawers do you have in your kitchen?  Would one be better?  No, because you can keep different things in different drawers, and if you cannot find something in one drawer you can always check another.

Dilution is what happens when you put soda in whiskey, we are not soda, we are 100 proof in an oak cask – take a sip!

Taking down the botnets

Botnet, by and large, are responsible either directly or indirectly, for most of the malicious activity on the internet.  When it’s spam, viruses, drive-by downloaded, rogueware, scareware or all-out DDoS attacks, these large, distributed networks of zombie computers are usually behind it.

Recently a couple of the big ones have been taken down (or at least cut down in size) by the legal manoeuverings of Microsoft and the investigation and arrests of some key players.  The Microsoft actions were against the Waledac botnet and the Spanish authorities caught up with some crafty characters responsible for the Mariposa botnet.

Read more…

straight from the horse’s mouth –>Waledac

Panda helps in arrests –>Mariposa

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