About matusiak

FLY

NCSU FOSS Fair 2012

Jack Neely of NCSU OIT group has put on a Free and Open Source Software fair each year for the past four years. This year I was fortunate enough to join them. It was a fun day and I was happy to meet other folks interested in Linux and such things, while catching up with some old TriLUG’gers that I don’t get to see very often. They even let me give a talk! ūüôā

Click the image above, or on the Documents link up top, to get to the presentation materials. I also got to take some photos and put them on Flickr. See y’all next year!

Take the new survey titled “Social Networking Privacy and Security Survey 2012”

If you are a user of any online social networking sites (such as Facebook), please accept this invitation to participate in a survey of your usage and privacy practices. Participation is strictly voluntary, but highly appreciated. The goal is to gauge the perceptions and activity related to user privacy across a wide swath of Internet users.

Take the new survey titled “Social Networking Privacy and Security Survey 2012“. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XDRY6FK

Please pass this link along! Thanks and I hope you choose to participate.

How to clone your Windows 7 hard drive

Recently I got a nice, new Dell Vostro laptop and wanted to upgrade the standard 250GB hard drive to a 500GB one. I wanted to take the disk image as it existed and clone it to the larger hard drive. This simple task was a bit harder to execute than one might think.

I went Googling on this topic and found a few software recommendations. The top hits included Paragon Backup & Recovery Free, Macrium Reflect Free, and EaseUS Todo Backup. Based upon positive reviews, I tried them one-by-one.

At first, I tried Backup & Recovery Free, but it wouldn’t install on Windows 7. Then I tried Macrium Reflect Free and it said the clone completed successfully. When the disks were swapped, Windows 7¬†would not boot. I used the Windows backup image (made by Dell Backup and Recovery Manager software) to repair that cloned image, but when it finally did boot properly, the fingerprint reader software wasn’t working and the OS gave several errors while running.

Getting desperate, I did another build directly from the Windows 7 backup/restore media. This worked, but again the fingerprint reader software was not present. Annoying!

Choose "Disk clone" from the Home menu

So I downloaded EaseUS Todo Backup 3.5 software and ran a Sector by sector clone¬†with the source disk in the laptop and destination disk in an external bay. This completed successfully, but then the disk wouldn’t boot when it was installed into the laptop. The Sector by sector option also did not allow me to expand to the full usage of the newer, larger disk.

Select source & destination disks, uncheck Sector by sector clone

As an absolute last attempt before going to Linux, I left the 500 GB drive in the laptop, and used the EaseUS Todo Backup software to clone from the smaller hard drive in an external drive cage. This time I did not select Sector by sector clone and it allowed me to grow the final partition on the newer drive to use all the disk space. This clone completed successfully and the system booted. It seems this final approach worked the best.

Verify settings, drag slider to use full disk, and click Proceed

After several days of testing, everything appears to be working fine. No Windows OS errors, system updates have been successful and system restore point snapshotting is working properly. So I’m finally happy with this end result. This process took way too long and involved too many mistakes. Hope this write up helps you!

If you have advice on ways to improve this process, such as newer/better software to use or other tips, then please leave a comment.

The Power of Social Networks

This is, like, a graph of social networking and stuff.

What a year! 2009 turned out to be the Year of The Social Networks. Your mom joined Facebook. The news media wouldn’t stop talking about Twitter for months. And now everyone is a “Social Media Expert.” Actors and musicians connected with fans, as did sports stars. (I’m sure Tiger enjoyed more than a few ‘random’ TweetUps). People used social media to cover war, the loss of Michael Jackson, and the story of a small Oregon boy risking his life in an airborne balloon craft. The latter turned out to be a hoax, but the impact of these new forces of immediate social communication became very real. You could send out an alert if you were in trouble or you could post up some mind-numbing minutiae if you were feeling bored. You could connect with and ‘follow’ people of interest which you had never had access to before. It was an exciting time and this emerging trend served as a handy distraction from whatever else was going on in the world.

It wasn’t all just welcoming handshakes and joyous LOL’ing, either. A study was released that attempted to show social stratification amongst the social networking set. I believe the conclusion was that lower socioeconomic individuals gravitated towards MySpace, while those slightly up the scale were trending towards Facebook. This led to further musing on the idea of “segregated” online networks and the potential for online inequality. Authors and journalists decried the dissolution of language to a bunch of abbreviations, emoticons, and short burst induced incompleteness. (These same people don’t seem to like text messaging for the same reasons). Computer connected employee productivity has taken a nosedive to such proportions as to almost cause a global financial meltdown. Privacy experts are practically having a conniption over this whole exposing oneself idea. Clearly, all is not rosy in the social networking arena.

So, why then are these newfangled social networks taking root and growing so fast? What is the value add? What do we get out of it? And why are these ephemeral and immediate networks so powerful?

First of all, online social networking is not new. Supernerds have been convening on the Internet since the early 1970’s. There were early bulletin board (BBS) systems, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), and (of course) electronic mail (now commonly and coyly referred to as ’email’). [The first Web-enabled chat I recall was ICQ circa 1998. I found the “group-shout” interaction intriguing, but rather annoying. Clearly, I wasn’t ready for short burst communications just yet. But I digress…]

Anyway, these perfect new online social networks are full of pizazz! Full of allure! And full of potential vectors for malware and privacy invasions. But mostly full of pizazz and allure — The pizazz to show off your own unique self and super-fantabulousness to the universe and the allure that you can connect with ‘anyone at any time’ and likely for any reason. Lots of people use it to follow their preferred news sources or to catalog information regarding their industry or career. Yet the killer feature seems to be localization. You can find people near you who do what you do. Or you can follow your local politicians (check to see if they’re on there). You can ask questions like “Where can I find a great Italian restaurant around here?” or “What bands are playing in Raleigh tonight?” One of my favorite services for this type of localized search is Aardvark. You should go there and sign up. (Or let me know if you still need to have an invite.)

My favorite use of social networking technology is to remake connections with friends from the past. It has been quite interesting to see all my high school friends emerging online almost two decades later. Not only that, but many people I didn’t have the opportunity to know better in the past have connected and enhanced our relationship via online social networking.¬†Beyond that, I have often gone to my vast legions of social network peeps and sought job leads, medical advice, shopping consultancy, and all sorts of things.

There is also the notion of communicating for communicating’s sake. I like to crack jokes and mash-up the day’s events into (quasi-)witty status updates. I rarely tell Twitter “What’s happening?” and instead just throw out “What’s on my mind?” I think there is a lot of value in the new social network scene, despite the non-extraneous time they seem to consume. If you can enjoy your time on these networks and not get carried away, then I guess you’ve won the battle.

What say you? Will the Web 2.0 social networks shepherd about the end of language? Will Twitter be responsible for the decimation of our final strands of time/information management? Will pictures of you holding a beer can in high school ruin your entire life? Why do you do (or don’t do) the online social networking thing? And how the hell did anyone solve any problems or research anything before The Google? Shout it below.

Image above:

The Eyes of March

Beck Tench got me involved in her whacky Experimonth concept. The idea is to conduct 30-day mini-experiments for each month of the year. This month has been dubbed “The Eyes of March and the goal is to take and post a photo every day.¬† There is an awesome Flickr pool and Beck has her own fancy aggregate site going.

hawk on UNC campus

Please take a look and comment and participate to your heart’s delight. We certainly are enjoying it.

GIAC Rising

The certificate granting branch of the SANS Institute, GIAC, just reached two important milestones. The first one was attaining ISO certification, which I’m not sure about, but I think it means that if an airline pilot has a heart attack and they need someone to fill in, then they will let me safely land the plane. The second big deal was that there are now over 20,000 of us. Twenty-thousand elite hacker, plane flying super geniuses who are all out there protecting your data from that evil CATS character.

“What’s a GIAC?” you may be asking. I wasn’t sure so I had to go look it up myself. Just kidding! If I learned one thing from my GSEC class (and I did) it was what GIAC stands for.

GIAC (pronounced Gee-ACK) = Global Information Assurance Certification
GSEC (pronounced Gee-SEC) = GIAC Security Essentials Certification

I guess they would call that second one a recursive acronym. If you have any idea what ‘recursive’ means. Anyway, this is all good news for SANS (Steven Northcutt) and GIAC (Jeff Frisk). It is good news for me, too, because in 100 years, employers in the technology realm will know what GIAC stands for.

You see, there is this other “certification” (if you can call it that) named CISSP. I have no idea what that stands for either, but it has one more letter in it. This obviously means something really really good to hiring managers because everyone I’ve ever known who got a really awesome job has “CISSP” after their name. I’m sure a simple Google search could unearth this mystery, but honestly who has that kind of time?

Anyway, there are a lot of CISSPs out there. Droves. Like a bazillion or so. And they hog all the headlines when it comes to those slick technology magazines that you all want to be seen reading in the coffee shop. So GIAC wants to dethrone CISSP. Or at least give it a huge black eye. But the playing field is, like, way unfair and stuff. So think back to that incredible theatric release of 2006, 300. It is like that! Dramatic, huh? Except we (the GIACs) are like the Spartans. So now envision me (and a bunch of other pot-bellied dudes) waving GSEC certificates over our heads whilst screaming “THIS IS SPARTAAAA!!!!!” and charging a bazillion nerds wielding CISSP certs.

Whoa. That would rock. And much blood would be shed. But it is all for a good cause. We just want to protect your computers, like, man. And thus was the tale of GIAC Rising.

Virtualize Me

2007 Virtualization Conference in NYC

So here I am in New York City attending the 2007 Virtualization Conference (a part of the larger 2007 SOA World Expo) and trying to learn a bit more about the future of enterprise computing. I had not done any traveling in a while and also had not been to a conference in ages, so I’m feeling very lucky to be here. And while this is essentially the premier SOA/Virtualization conference in the States, I still find the ambiguity of conference speakers to be frustrating.

I am so used to hands-on techie learning (a la SANS Institute) that to hear everything abstracted and spun into business-speak often leaves me less than satisfied. Thankfully, the speakers are not solely focused on plugging their companies and products. And from what I’ve heard so far, most of the large vendors are working together (via a SOA Best Practices Working Group) to make all of our lives easier in the future. (*fingers crossed*)

Regardless, New York City is beautiful right now and I’m enjoying it as much as possible. Nice sunny days and warm nights without the brutal humidity that usually keeps folks locked up in their air conditioned spaces. As a bonus, I got to take in a good portion of the massive Gay Pride Parade that took place yesterday. It was totally awesome to see so many happy dancing and smiling people flooding the city. When I get home I will post my photos to flickr, so please check back for that link.