Category Archives: Windows

More on Connecting to a Network Drive Using Mac OS 10.5 Leopard

Update 18 December 2007:

I’ve discovered a better way to force Finder to browse the contents of a network drive. You can read more here.

I wrote recently about the problems that I was having connecting to a network drive from my MacBook.

I still haven’t solved the problem, but I have come across something else: If I share a drive on my Windows XP computer, the computer will be displayed in the Finder Window, along with my network drive. I can browse the Windows machine, but for some reason, I still can’t browse the network drive.

Finder Window

Problem Connecting to a Network Drive using SMB on Mac OS 10.5 Leopard

Update 18 December 2007:

I’ve discovered a better way to force Finder to browse the contents of a network drive. You can read more here.

Today I bought a new network hard drive. I bought it because I was getting tired of dragging my old USB external drive from room to room when I needed it. Having a network accessible hard drive makes it so much easier to share data between multiple computers using multiple operating systems.

Initially I set it up from my Windows machine, as I was working on that at the time. Setup was easy enough, and within a minute I was backing up my data over the network.

My problems started when I tried to access the hard drive from my Intel MacBook running Mac OS 10.5. I could connect to the drive and the shares with no problem, but when I tried to browse the contents of the share, it appeared to be empty. Now, I know it’s not empty because I just copied data onto the drive from my Windows machine. First of all I though that it may be the Mac OS firewall that was causing the problem, but even after disabling it, I still couldn’t get Finder to see any of the files on the drive.

I tried creating a folder on the drive using Finder. It seemed to create the folder OK, but no sooner had it done so than the folder disappeared. I checked the drive using Windows XP and the folder was there. It just wasn’t visible to Leopard.

The drive that I bought has a built in FTP server, so I tried to browse the drive using my FTP program and it worked. Using Finder to connect via FTP also worked. In both instances I was able to browse OK, but I could only add new files and folders with my FTP program.

I also tried mount the drive from the command line using:

mount_smbfs //user:password@drive_name/share_name /Volumes/NAS

(BTW, I had to manually create the /Volumes/NAS directory first)

No error messages were returned by the command and the hard drive showed as being connected in Finder, but once again, the share contents were “missing”. I also tried connecting using the CIFS protocol, but the same problem occurred. In desperation, I even tried using the Apple AFP protocol, even though I had an inkling that the drive wouldn’t support it. Unfortunately I was right.

I’ve been browsing the web for a bit looking for a solution, and it looks like I’m far from being the only person with this problem. There’s a thread on the Apple forums with some possible solutions, but none have worked for me.

So for the time being it looks like I’m stuck with browsing my new hard drive via FTP from my MacBook, while my Windows machines will have no problem connecting.

Syncing a Windows Mobile Smartphone with Mac OS X

When choosing a smartphone you have two OS options: Symbian and Windows Mobile. Nokia and Sony Ericsson use the Symbian OS, while HP, Toshiba, HTC and Samsung use Windows Mobile on their phones. No matter which OS your phone uses, chances are that the synchronisation software provided with the phone will be Windows only. So, if like me you’re a Mac user, how do you sync your phone with your Mac?

If you’re lucky, Apples iSync will recognise your device, in which case you’re pretty much good to go straight out of the box. However, if you have a smartphone that isn’t recognised by iSync, who’ll have to splash out on a 3rd party solution.

I recently purchased the HTC S710, which unfortunately, it isn’t recognised by iSync. After a quick Google search, I came across “The Missing Sync for Windows Mobile“. Missing Sync allows you to sync via your Network, Bluetooth or USB. Providing plugins for your Contacts, iCal, and all your multimedia content, Missing Sync has all the bases covered. If you have Microsoft Entourage installed, it will also provide a conduit to sync your data directly with Microsofts attempt at a PIM for the Mac OS.

Setting up your device is straightforward and I was up and running within minutes of downloading the program.

Costing $39.95 for download, or $49.95 for the CD version, it’s certainly worth it if you have to sync your smartphone with your Mac.

ATI Driver Flaw Exposes Vista Kernel to Attack

Security researchers have discovered a flaw with an ATI driver that allows unsigned and potentially dangerous code to be installed and loaded into the Vista kernel.

In order to increase security and to protect against attack, Microsoft have introduced a new driver signing requirement in Vista. By requiring that drivers are signed, Microsoft hoped that this would ensure that only drivers which were verified as being clean and compatible with Vista could be installed.

ATI duly had their drivers signed by VeriSign so that they could be installed on a Windows Vista system. Unfortunately, their was a flaw in one of the drivers. Apparently the flaw was originally intended as a shortcut in the driver that allowed ATI developers to load modules into the driver for testing. When the driver was released, either no-one thought to remove the shortcut or ATI forgot about it.

In order to close the hole, ATI will have to patch the flaw in their driver, have it signed with a new certificate, roll-out the update via Windows Update, then have the original signing authority revoke the original certificate. It’s not a straightforward process and it’s by no means foolproof either.

STOP 0x0000007E on Booting Windows XP

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been experiencing intermittent boot problems with my desktop machine running Windows XP. As anyone who has ever worked in tech support will tell you, these are the type of problems that give tech support agents nightmares. Though when I say intermittent, the error would appear on every second boot. Restarting the system would resolve the problem.

I tried searching Google and the Microsoft Knowledge Base for answers, but not one of the pages I found seemed to deal with my particular problem. Given that the problem would resolve itself after a hard restart I began to think that it might be a hardware problem – this kind of symptom might be related to a component which wasn’t initialising correctly, and was causing the OS to blue-screen. By the time I restarted the system, it had “warmed up”, and that’s why it was only on every second boot that I was seeing the problem.

This particular machine is only a couple of months old, and as you can imagine I wasn’t too happy that it was beginning to fail on me, especially as I store all my important data on it.

But more in hope than expectation I decided to ignore the possibility of a hardware issue, and troubleshoot the software side. From experience I’ve found that more often than not when Windows blue-screens it’s driver related, and even more often than not the driver responsible is the video driver.

My PC has an nVidia Geforce 7500 card, so I updated the drivers to the latest ForceWare driver version 94.24. A quick restart, and the problem was solved.

While my problem is resolved, I don’t know what caused it in the first place. I haven’t installed or changed anything on the machine in a while, except for the usual Microsoft Updates. The only thing that I can think of is that an update from Microsoft didn’t like the video driver on my computer, and that there was a timing issue with the initialisation of the driver. That’s not s definitive answer, but I think it’s a fairly decent guess.

Microsoft Update Breaks Windows – Again

Patch Tuesday has rolled around again, and once more the latest patches are causing problems. Last month the issue was with the Realtek HD Audio Control Panel, this month users have been reporting problems with system slow downs and CPU usage.

Apparently an update to Internet Explorer is causing issues with a file called svchost.exe. This file is in fact a generic name for any service that runs from a DLL instead of an EXE. At the moment, the exact cause is not known, but Outlook users have been hardest hit, while the issue also affects users of Windows Server Update Services.

No official fix has been released as of yet, but some people have reported that another hotfix available from Microsoft seems to resolve the problem, although it has not worked for everyone. The hotfix is available for download from Microsoft.

Another Way to Subvert Windows

Symantec have released details of another possible way to subvert Windows, more specifically through the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS).

BITS is used by Windows Update to automatically download updates in the background and by Microsoft Messenger to transfer files. The fault lies in the fact that BITS bypasses any installed firewalls, and does not require any suspicious actions to start the download. By using BITS, an attacker could automatically download whatever they wanted to your computer, including password/ credit card logging software, remote access control software, the possibilities are endless.

While there are no major infections using this method, it is just a matter of time before one does come along. Hopefully, Microsoft will have addressed the issue before that happens.

When Windows File Associations Go Awry

You’re sitting in front of your computer and you’re bored. You’ve been to all your favourite websites, you’ve done the online crossword and a couple of games of Sudoku but you still have time to waste, so you decide to mess around with Windows for a while. You’re clicking buttons, opening dialog boxes and just generally trying to educate yourself on the finer points of the operating system.

Then you remember that you’re actually supposed to be responding to an urgent email you received about 6 hours ago. You try to open the mail, and instead of launching your email client it opens in your text editor instead. The email is no longer readable and is just gibberish. At the back of your mind, you have a hazy memory of doing something with an email saved on your desktop. You can’t remember exactly what you did, but you know it was one of those “A-ha, that’s funny” moments. For the life of you, though, you can’t remember what exactly you did.

Chances are that you’ve changed the program associated with the file extension for your email. Unlike the various flavours of Linux and Unix, Windows uses file extensions to decide what type of file it is dealing with. A file ending in .exe is an executable, ending in .txt and it’s a text file, ending in .doc and it’s a Word document, and so on. You can if you wish change these associations, and if you do this inadvertently you will probably end up with problems.

To change the association, you first of all need to locate one of the files showing the problem.

  • Then hold down the shift key and right click on the file. On the context menu, you should see an “Open with…” sub-menu.
  • On this sub-menu you’ll see a “Choose Program” option.
  • Click on this and you’ll be presented with a dialog box displaying list of programs that you can use to open the file.
  • Select the correct program from the list. If you cannot find your program listed, then click the “Browse” button to locate the program file.
  • Directly under the list of programs is a “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” tick box. Place a tick in the box and click “Ok”.

Now any file with the same extension as the file you right clicked on will open in this new program.

Program Names Matter on Windows Vista

One of the selling points of Windows Vista is it’s increased security. User Account Control, (UAC), is designed to ensure that unknown programs aren’t launched without the users express permission. The idea is sound, but the actual implementation may be off.

The Register reports that the name of the program has a major bearing on whether or not UAC asks the user to authenticate the installation. If the program is named “install.exe” for example, then Vista will require that the program have admin rights and UAC will prompt the user to cancel or allow installation. However, if the program name does not contain any references to “install”, “update” or “uninstall” then Vista will happily let it run without user intervention, even though it is the exact same program.

Microsoft responded that Vista was designed to automatically detect install, update and uninstall programs. As these types of programs generally need to write to protected areas of the registry and system files, then Vista would prompt for admin rights to be assigned to the program.

While Vista may have been designed to detect these type of programs, it seems that all it is doing is checking the program name, otherwise renaming the program would not allow the program to run without UAC prompting the user. While this type of behaviour may offer a modicum of protection, it can be sidestepped by using an innocuous file name. The big question now is how long will it take for malware authors to use this to bypass UAC and get their programs on to a Vista machine?

Problems with Realtek HD Audio Control Panel

I recently wrote about a vulnerability in the way that Windows handles animated cursors, and that Microsoft were releasing a patch for the problem. I downloaded and installed the patch yesterday, and discovered that it didn’t like my sound card all that much.

My HP desktop has a Realtek sound card, and the patch that MS released prevents the control panel for the sound card from loading, with the following error message:

The system DLL user32.dll was relocated in memory. The application will not run properly. The relocation occurred because the DLL C:WindowsSystem32Hhctrl.ocx occupied an address range reserved for Windows system DLLs. The vendor supplying the DLL should be contacted for a new DLL.

Fortunately, there is a fix available form Microsoft, available under KB 935448