Monthly Archives: May 2011

Platforma: goodbye

imageI wrote several times about our local Russian TechEd-like event named “Platforma”. It was really like TechEd: 1500 attendees, several dozens of presentations in two days. Still, “TechEd-like” is not exactly TechEd, so, from this year we’ll receive our very own TechEd. It will be twice as much in term if people and tracks, so I believe it will be really awesome. I’ll definitely take a look on it this autumn Winking smile

TextAnalysisTool.NET

imageA friend of mine twitted about some new small but great good tool: TextAnalysisTool.NET. It’s simple, yet can be very useful. What it does is just simple search for a string or several strings in a file. Do you think “who has written such a stupid thing”? We have findstr, not speaking of PoSh and all that stuff. I thought so too. But when I took a look at it, I discovered that there are situation when it is simply great. For example:

  1. Looking for several different strings at the same time. Using the tools mentioned above it is not very convenient. With the new tool it is.
  2. You need to take a look not only at the string itself but at its surroundings. Again it ‘is not very easy with other tools.
  3. You need to revise your search for a large to very large file. When you do it with, say, with findstr, it reads all the file again. In my case (log file of 640MB, over 2,000,000 lines) it takes 60 to 80 seconds. In case of the discussed tool it is way below 20 seconds. With PoSh it would be, probably other story, still, considering the first to items in this list, TextAnalysisTool.NET is to be considered for use.

What can the tool do:

  • Open files (brilliant, isn’t it? =) ). It can also reload them is they change.

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  • Load and save filters set. This can be useful if you search for the same patterns often. (It is in XML format, by the way, so you can take a look at it)
  • Usual search, like, say, in Winword. Except the fact that it can be a RegExp.

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  • Switch the view between the whole text, or only the strings you are looking for.

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  • Mark some lines (select them and press Ctrl+<number>) and go to them by just pressing a number you’ve marked them with.

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  • Create and edit filters. Filter can contain strings and RegExps. The results can be highlighted in color.

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Well, it is in my arsenal from now on.

Freebies: books and other learning stuff

imageWhat it takes to be a good specialist? Usually everyone agree that the vital element to it is to learn much. With MS, it is usually easy enough: TechNet and MSDN are great sources of information. No, really, most of official courses I sit on (to be honest – there was not many of them) don’t give you as much info as those two. If you are lucky enough, you’ll get a great trainer and then you can have even more than in TechNet, but usually it is only a good way to quickly refresh, restructure or get some basic knowledge. Anyway, it’s quick and I recommend it to you if you have an opportunity to be away from your work for several days: it’s quick, and you can polish your skills and knowledge after the course is over. Another knowledge source are books. There are good ones, excellent or not so much. Finally, there are eLearnings. They are somewhat between books and “offline” courses. You receive more visual content, you even can look at and listen to a tutor, but the only way to ask questions is Google (or BING, if you wish).

After such a long introduction, let’s go down to our freebies: MSLearning blog has done its spring cleaning and put a lot of stuff on the board for free (registration is needed only to receive updates on it, downloading doesn’t require it). There are mostly eBooks (or parts of the eBooks), clinic sessions and exam coaching sessions. It can be interesting to take a look. Or just download it to stash for good 😉

%SystemRoot%System32 Secrets: compact & convert

I’ve been quite busy for some time, so there is a quick run over two utilities: compact and convert. The first one can be used sometimes while the second, I think, has almost died out. Let’s take a look on them.

compact

Remember cipher? The same stuff: cipher deals with encryption, this one – with compression on an NTFS volume. You need to script it or find it boring to use all that GUI? It’s for you. But seriously: do many people use it? I don’t like the feature, actually. But anyway, if you need it, you get it.

convert

This command I haven’t used for years. Really, who has a file system which can be converted to NTFS now? Probably, on some thumb drive. Yet it was very useful back then, in time when we all were moving from windows 9x to Windows 2000 or XP. I used it quite often, so when I found it still placed on my W7 system, I decided to honor it even if it is worthless now. BTW, probably, it isn’t? Then tell me =)

%SystemRoot%system32 secrets: cipher

Next command in my list is what you never remember about unless user comes in with a cry: “I’ve reset my password and now all my EFS-encrypted files are gone!!!”. Are you familiar with the situation? I am not, fortunately, but I heard some related horror stories. Backup the encryption keys is the key. And updating of keys on the files. And creating of recovery keys. And backing up the encryption keys. All that the utility in the question can do for you.

There are plenty of articles about the actions described above. But when I tried to look at the utility’s description more closely, I found one new function: cipher with arguments “/W” and a folder will remove all data from unused disk space on the volume where the folder is placed. What it is doing is:

1) Creating folder EFSTMPWP on the volume:

2) Creating there a temp file (or several, according to some sources)

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3) Writing there zeros, then ones, and polishes it with some random values:

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It does each step until the whole disk is filled up and then repeats:

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Of course it is quite time consuming, especially on large volumes. But if I was the person to design the command, I’d rather made it to write not just zeros and ones, but just encrypt every free cluster with a random key. Luckily it wasn’t me, so it is not even more long procedure 😉

The command asks you to close all the applications to make the effort as effective as it is possible, mostly to eliminate all the temp files with data in them.

Further reading:

cipher /?

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc771346(WS.10).aspx

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/295680

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/814599