VMware VI Toolkit for Windows Beta is now available


The VMware VI Toolkit for Windows Beta is now available for download. The toolkit provides cmdlets for managing, monitoring, automating, and handling life-cycle operations for VMware Infrastructure components – virtual machines, datacenters, storage, networks, etc.

Less experienced administrators can use PowerShell commands included in the VI Toolkit to manage their VMware virtual infrastructure from the command line. Advanced administrators can develop PowerShell scripts that may be reused by other administrators or integrated into other applications.

The VI Toolkit for Windows 1.0 ships with 101 cmdlets: 97 PowerShell-based cmdlets and 4 Microsoft .NET cmdlets for use through PowerShell – The so called Web Service Access Cmdlets.

You can launch the VI Toolkit (for Windows) Console in one of two ways:

  1. From the Start menu, click Programs > VMware > VMware Infrastructure Toolkit > VMware VI Toolkit.
  2. Double-click the desktop icon (if you have chosen the option at installation). The VI Toolkit console window opens in a PowerShell window.

For more information see the VI toolkit for Windows Admin guide or the VMware community discussions. Don’t forget to download and install Windows Powershell before using this toolkit.

Free Utility to Determine Which of Your Windows Applications Require Administrative Rights to Run


BeyondTrust Application Rights Auditor is a free product that automatically identifies and reports the Windows applications that require users to have administrative rights.

Once those applications are identified, enterprises can develop informed plans to remove users’ administrative rights without any application downtime, creating a more secure and compliant environment, and lowering the cost of administering Windows computers.

Free registration is required in order to obtain a download link. They also have a data collection policy that can be opted out of.

Supported client operating systems are Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 SP1 and SP2, Windows Vista Gold and SP1, and Windows 2008. Both x86 and x64 versions are included in the download.

The reporting management console runs on Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 SP1, Windows Vista, and Windows 2008. The reporting console is an MMC snap-in that requires MMC 3.0 and Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 SP1. Both are available to download from the BeyondTrust Application Rights Auditor download page.

ShellRunas – Launch Programs with Different Account Credentials from the Windows Context Menu


ShellRunas is free utility from Microsoft that integrates into the Windows context menu to launch programs as a different user. It provides similar functionality to that of the command line based RunAs utility.

ShellRunas works on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008, and is created by Mark Russinovich of Sysinternals fame.

You’ll have to run shellrunas.exe /reg from the directory you extracted the shellrunas.zip file to in order to add the Run as Different User option to the Windows context menu.

Once shellrunas.exe has been registered and you select Run as Different User from the context menu, a dialog box similar to the one shown below will prompt you for alternate account credentials.

shellrunas

New TrueCrypt Available – Free Open Source Disk Encryption Software for Windows Vista/XP , Mac OS X, and Linux


TrueCrypt is a great little freeware tool I’ve used on my USB flash drive for quite a while. A new version was just released that includes the following features:

  • Ability to encrypt a system partition/drive (i.e. a partition/drive where Windows is installed) with pre-boot authentication (anyone who wants to gain access and use the system, read and write files, etc., needs to enter the correct password each time before the system starts). For more information, see the chapter System Encryption in the documentation. (Windows Vista/XP/2003)
  • Pipelined operations increasing read/write speed by up to 100% (Windows)
  • Mac OS X version
  • Graphical user interface for the Linux version of TrueCrypt
  • XTS mode of operation, which was designed by Phillip Rogaway in 2003 and which was recently approved as the IEEE 1619 standard for cryptographic protection of data on block-oriented storage devices. XTS is faster and more secure than LRW mode (for more information on XTS mode, see the section Modes of Operation in the documentation).Note: New volumes created by this version of TrueCrypt can be encrypted only in XTS mode. However, volumes created by previous versions of TrueCrypt can still be mounted using this version of TrueCrypt.
  • SHA-512 hash algorithm (replacing SHA-1, which is no longer available when creating new volumes).Note: To re-encrypt the header of an existing volume with a header key derived using HMAC-SHA-512 (PRF), select ‘Volumes‘ > ‘Set Header Key Derivation Algorithm‘.

If you are new to TrueCrypt, start by reading the FAQ, tutorial and technical deails. Now that TrueCrypt supports pre-boot authentication, there is no reason not to use it on my laptop and other portable devices.

Online port forwarding tester


Having problems getting applications to work through your firewall or router? Use the online Port Forwarding Tester to determine if your device is properly configured to pass traffic through the appropriate ports.

This application will automatically detect the public IP address your browser is originating from, or you can specify the IP of your choice. Next, enter the port number to test, and press the check button. The web site will tell you if that port is opened or closed.

If you’re note sure how to open ports on your particular router, check out portforward.com. They have a detailed list of routers and firewalls with step by step directions on setting up port forwarding for different devices.

If you need more information on what port forwarding is and why you would want to enable it, start here or checkout the FAQ. There is also a list of common ports that may need to be opened in order for your particular application to function properly.

Ninotech Path Copy – a free Shell extension to copy the path of a file or directory to the Clipboard


Ninotech Path Copy is one of those free utilities I’ve just discovered recently, although it has been around for years. I found it on Novell’s Cool Tools web site, and it isn’t just for use in a Novell Netware environment. You can quickly install it into your Windows 95-Windows XP context menu, where it can copy file or folder paths to the Windows clipboard from any network resource.

You copy the path of a file or directory by right-clicking it in the Windows Explorer and choosing Copy Path from the context menu. The context menu then offers nine standard ways of copying the path, in addition to the user defined copying methods that you create yourself:

– Short Name: File/folder name converted to 8.3 characters
– Long Name: File/folder name
– Short Folder: Parent folder name converted to 8.3 characters
– Long Folder: Parent folder name
– Short Path: Full path name converted to 8.3 characters
– Long Path: Full path name
– Short UNC Path: Full UNC path name converted to 8.3 characters (only enabled in network environment)
– Long UNC Path: Full UNC path name (only enabled in network environment)
– Internet Path: Full UNC path name converted to Internet path (only enabled in network environment)
– Setup… Create your own copy methods for copying the path names.

Why would this be beneficial? As a network administrator, I often find myself browsing for resources in Network Neighborhood. All too often I need to copy the paths to files and folders housed on various network resources, and I need to convert the path to a different format.

Take a Novell Netware for example. When creating a desktop shortcut to a server based ConsoleOne installation, I may need to copy and paste the path to the ConsoleOne executable file found at z:\public\mgmt\consoleone\1.2\bin\consoleone.exe. Since Z:\ may be mapped differently based upon which account I’m logged into the network as, I should specify the UNC path to the .exe.

Rather than manually replacing z:\ with \\servername\volumename\, I can use Ninotech Path Copy to copy the entire UNC path to consoleone.exe, i.e.

\\servername\sys\public\mgmt\consoleone\1.2\bin\consoleone.exe

This saves me keystrokes, and makes my job easier, especially since I am not the most accurate typist.

Microsoft’s Zune Device Diagnostic Tool Now Available


Microsoft’s Zune Device Diagnostic Tool is now available. The Zune Device Diagnostic Tool compiles data to help Product Support Services diagnose Zune USB and wireless sync connection problems.

While you’re troubleshooting your Zune, go ahead and upgrade to the most recent version of the Zune client software, version 2.1 as of today [12-24-2007].

Kurt also mentioned that a new Zune firmware release, version 2.3, is now available. Go into Device Settings to install the update.

Supported OSs for both the client and diagnostic software are Windows XP SP2+ and Windows Vista.

Lastly, check out this post on forums.zune.net that discusses resolutions to many Zune sync problems.

I sure hope Santa Claus brings a nice 80GB Zune to our household!