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Step-by-Step Guide for Adding a Stack, Expanding Control Lines, and Building an Assembler

After the positive response to my first tutorial on expanding the RAM, I thought I'd continue the fun by expanding the capabilities of Ben's 8-bit CPU even further. That said, you'll need to have done the work in the previous post to be able to do this. You can get a sense for what we'll do in this Imgur gallery.
In this tutorial, we'll balance software and hardware improvements to make this a pretty capable machine:

Parts List

To only update the hardware, you'll need:
If you want to update the toolchain, you'll need:
  1. Arduino Mega 2560 (Amazon) to create the programmer.
  2. Ribbon Jumper Cables (Amazon) to connect the Arduino to the breadboard.
  3. TL866 II Plus EEPROM Programmer (Amazon) to program the ROM.
Bonus Clock Improvement: One additional thing I did is replace the 74LS04 inverter in Ben's clock circuit with a 74LS14 inverting Schmitt trigger (datasheet, Jameco). The pinouts are identical! Just drop it in, wire the existing lines, and then run the clock output through it twice (since it's inverting) to get a squeaky clean clock signal. Useful if you want to go even faster with the CPU.

Step 1: Program with an Arduino and Assembler (Image 1, Image 2)

There's a certain delight in the physical programming of a computer with switches. This is how Bill Gates and Paul Allen famously programmed the Altair 8800 and started Microsoft. But at some point, the hardware becomes limited by how effectively you can input the software. After upgrading the RAM, I quickly felt constrained by how long it took to program everything.
You can continue to program the computer physically if you want and even after upgrading that option is still available, so this step is optional. There's probably many ways to approach the programming, but this way felt simple and in the spirit of the build. We'll use an Arduino Mega 2560, like the one in Ben's 6502 build, to program the RAM. We'll start with a homemade assembler then switch to something more robust.
Preparing the Physical Interface
The first thing to do is prepare the CPU to be programmed by the Arduino. We already did the hard work on this in the RAM upgrade tutorial by using the bus to write to the RAM and disconnecting the control ROM while in program mode. Now we just need to route the appropriate lines to a convenient spot on the board to plug the Arduino into.
  1. This is optional, but I rewired all the DIP switches to have ground on one side, rather than alternating sides like Ben's build. This just makes it easier to route wires.
  2. Wire the 8 address lines from the DIP switch, connecting the side opposite to ground (the one going to the chips) to a convenient point on the board. I put them on the far left, next to the address LEDs and above the write button circuit.
  3. Wire the 8 data lines from the DIP switch, connecting the side opposite to ground (the one going to the chips) directly below the address lines. Make sure they're separated by the gutter so they're not connected.
  4. Wire a line from the write button to your input area. You want to connect the side of the button that's not connected to ground (the one going to the chip).
So now you have one convenient spot with 8 address lines, 8 data lines, and a write line. If you want to get fancy, you can wire them into some kind of connector, but I found that ribbon jumper cables work nicely and keep things tidy.
The way we'll program the RAM is to enter program mode and set all the DIP switches to the high position (e.g., 11111111). Since the switches are upside-down, this means they'll all be disconnected and not driving to ground. The address and write lines will simply be floating and the data lines will be weakly pulled up by 1k resistors. Either way, the Arduino can now drive the signals going into the chips using its outputs.
Creating the Arduino Programmer
Now that we can interface with an Arduino, we need to write some software. If you follow Ben's 6502 video, you'll have all the knowledge you need to get this working. If you want some hints and code, see below (source code):
  1. Create arrays for your data and address lines. For example: const char ADDRESS_LINES[] = {39, 41, 43, 45, 47, 49, 51, 53};. Create your write line with #define RAM_WRITE 3.
  2. Create functions to enable and disable your address and data lines. You want to enable them before writing. Make sure to disable them afterward so that you can still manually program using DIP switches without disconnecting the Arduino. The code looks like this (just change INPUT to OUTPUT accordingly): for(int n = 0; n < 8; n += 1) { pinMode(ADDRESS_LINES[n], OUTPUT); }
  3. Create a function to write to an address. It'll look like void writeData(byte writeAddress, byte writeData) and basically use two loops, one for address and one for data, followed by toggling the write.
  4. Create a char array that contains your program and data. You can use #define to create opcodes like #define LDA 0x01.
  5. In your main function, loop through the program array and send it through writeData.
With this setup, you can now load multi-line programs in a fraction of a second! This can really come in handy with debugging by stress testing your CPU with software. Make sure to test your setup with existing programs you know run reliably. Now that you have your basic setup working, you can add 8 additional lines to read the bus and expand the program to let you read memory locations or even monitor the running of your CPU.
Making an Assembler
The above will serve us well but it's missing a key feature: labels. Labels are invaluable in assembly because they're so versatile. Jumps, subroutines, variables all use labels. The problem is that labels require parsing. Parsing is a fun project on the road to a compiler but not something I wanted to delve into right now--if you're interested, you can learn about Flex and Bison. Instead, I found a custom assembler that lets you define your CPU's instruction set and it'll do everything else for you. Let's get it setup:
  1. If you're on Windows, you can use the pre-built binaries. Otherwise, you'll need to install Rust and compile via cargo build.
  2. Create a file called 8bit.cpu and define your CPU instructions (source code). For example, LDA would be lda {address} -> 0x01 @ address[7:0]. What's cool is you can also now create the instruction's immediate variant instead of having to call it LDI: lda #{value} -> 0x05 @ value[7:0].
  3. You can now write assembly by adding #include "8bit.cpu" to the top of your code. There's a lot of neat features so make sure to read the documentation!
  4. Once you've written some assembly, you can generate the machine code using ./customasm yourprogram.s -f hexc -p. This prints out a char array just like our Arduino program used!
  5. Copy the char array into your Arduino program and send it to your CPU.
At this stage, you can start creating some pretty complex programs with ease. I would definitely play around with writing some larger programs. I actually found a bug in my hardware that was hidden for a while because my programs were never very complex!

Step 2: Expand the Control Lines (Image)

Before we can expand the CPU any further, we have to address the fact we're running out of control lines. An easy way to do this is to add a 3rd 28C16 ROM and be on your way. If you want something a little more involved but satisfying, read on.
Right now the control lines are one hot encoded. This means that if you have 4 lines, you can encode 4 states. But we know that a 4-bit binary number can encode 16 states. We'll use this principle via 74LS138 decoders, just like Ben used for the step counter.
Choosing the Control Line Combinations
Everything comes with trade-offs. In the case of combining control lines, it means the two control lines we choose to combine can never be activated at the same time. We can ensure this by encoding all the inputs together in the first 74LS138 and all the outputs together in a second 74LS138. We'll keep the remaining control lines directly connected.
Rewiring the Control Lines
If your build is anything like mine, the control lines are a bit of a mess. You'll need to be careful when rewiring to ensure it all comes back together correctly. Let's get to it:
  1. Place the two 74LS138 decoders on the far right side of the breadboard with the ROMs. Connect them to power and ground.
  2. You'll likely run out of inverters, so place a 74LS04 on the breadboard above your decoders. Connect it to power and ground.
  3. Carefully take your inputs (MI, RI, II, AI, BI, J) and wire them to the outputs of the left 74LS138. Do not wire anything to O0 because that's activated by 000 which won't work for us!
  4. Carefully take your outputs (RO, CO, AO, EO) and wire them to the outputs of the right 74LS138. Remember, do not wire anything to O0!
  5. Now, the 74LS138 outputs are active low, but the ROM outputs were active high. This means you need to swap the wiring on all your existing 74LS04 inverters for the LEDs and control lines to work. Make sure you track which control lines are supposed to be active high vs. active low!
  6. Wire E3 to power and E2 to ground. Connect the E1 on both 138s together, then connect it to the same line as OE on your ROMs. This will ensure that the outputs are disabled when you're in program mode. You can actually take off the 1k pull-up resistors from the previous tutorial at this stage, because the 138s actively drive the lines going to the 74LS04 inverters rather than floating like the ROMs.
At this point, you really need to ensure that the massive rewiring job was successful. Connect 3 jumper wires to A0-A2 and test all the combinations manually. Make sure the correct LED lights up and check with a multimeteoscilloscope that you're getting the right signal at each chip. Catching mistakes at this point will save you a lot of headaches! Now that everything is working, let's finish up:
  1. Connect A0-A2 of the left 74LS138 to the left ROM's A0-A2.
  2. Connect A0-A2 of the right 74LS138 to the right ROM's A0-A2.
  3. Distribute the rest of the control signals across the two ROMs.
Changing the ROM Code
This part is easy. We just need to update all of our #define with the new addresses and program the ROMs again. For clarity that we're not using one-hot encoding anymore, I recommend using hex instead of binary. So instead of #define MI 0b0000000100000000, we can use #define MI 0x0100, #define RI 0x0200, and so on.
Testing
Expanding the control lines required physically rewiring a lot of critical stuff, so small mistakes can creep up and make mysterious errors down the road. Write a program that activates each control line at least once and make sure it works properly! With your assembler and Arduino programmer, this should be trivial.
Bonus: Adding B Register Output
With the additional control lines, don't forget you can now add a BO signal easily which lets you fully use the B register.

Step 3: Add a Stack (Image 1, Image 2)

Adding a stack significantly expands the capability of the CPU. It enables subroutines, recursion, and handling interrupts (with some additional logic). We'll create our stack with an 8-bit stack pointer hard-coded from $0100 to $01FF, just like the 6502.
Wiring up the Stack Pointer
A stack pointer is conceptually similar to a program counter. It stores an address, you can read it and write to it, and it increments. The only difference between a stack pointer and a program counter is that the stack pointer must also decrement. To create our stack pointer, we'll use two 74LS193 4-bit up/down binary counters:
  1. Place a 74LS00 NAND gate, 74LS245 transceiver, and two 74LS193 counters in a row next to your output register. Wire up power and ground.
  2. Wire the the Carry output of the right 193 to the Count Up input of the left 193. Do the same for the Borrow output and Count Down input.
  3. Connect the Clear input between the two 193s and with an active high reset line. The B register has one you can use on its 74LS173s.
  4. Connect the Load input between the two 193s and to a new active low control line called SI on your 74LS138 decoder.
  5. Connect the QA-QD outputs of the lower counter to A8-A5 and the upper counter to A4-A1. Pay special attention because the output are in a weird order (BACD) and you want to make sure the lower A is connected to A8 and the upper A is connected to A4.
  6. Connect the A-D inputs of the lower counter to B8-B5 and the upper counter to B4-B1. Again, the inputs are in a weird order and on both sides of the chip so pay special attention.
  7. Connect the B1-B8 outputs of the 74LS245 transceiver to the bus.
  8. On the 74LS245 transceiver, connect DIR to power (high) and connect OE to a new active low control line called SO on your 74LS138 decoder.
  9. Add 8 LEDs and resistors to the lower part of the 74LS245 transceiver (A1-A8) so you can see what's going on with the stack pointer.
Enabling Increment & Decrement
We've now connected everything but the Count Up and Count Down inputs. The way the 74LS193 works is that if nothing is counting, both inputs are high. If you want to increment, you keep Count Down high and pulse Count Up. To decrement, you do the opposite. We'll use a 74LS00 NAND gate for this:
  1. Take the clock from the 74LS08 AND gate and make it an input into two different NAND gates on the 74LS00.
  2. Take the output from one NAND gate and wire it to the Count Up input on the lower 74LS193 counter. Take the other output and wire it to the Count Down input.
  3. Wire up a new active high control line called SP from your ROM to the NAND gate going into Count Up.
  4. Wire up a new active high control line called SM from your ROM to the NAND gate going into Count Down.
At this point, everything should be working. Your counter should be able to reset, input a value, output a value, and increment/decrement. But the issue is it'll be writing to $0000 to $00FF in the RAM! Let's fix that.
Accessing Higher Memory Addresses
We need the stack to be in a different place in memory than our regular program. The problem is, we only have an 8-bit bus, so how do we tell the RAM we want a higher address? We'll use a special control line to do this:
  1. Wire up an active high line called SA from the 28C16 ROM to A8 on the Cypress CY7C199 RAM.
  2. Add an LED and resistor so you can see when the stack is active.
That's it! Now, whenever we need the stack we can use a combination of the control line and stack pointer to access $0100 to $01FF.
Updating the Instruction Set
All that's left now is to create some instructions that utilize the stack. We'll need to settle some conventions before we begin:
If you want to add a little personal flair to your design, you can change the convention fairly easily. Let's implement push and pop (source code):
  1. Define all your new control lines, such as #define SI 0x0700 and #define SO 0x0005.
  2. Create two new instructions: PSH (1011) and POP (1100).
  3. PSH starts the same as any other for the first two steps: MI|CO and RO|II|CE. The next step is to put the contents of the stack pointer into the address register via MI|SO|SA. Recall that SA is the special control line that tells the memory to access the $01XX bank rather than $00XX.
  4. We then take the contents of AO and write it into the RAM. We can also increment the stack pointer at this stage. All of this is done via: AO|RI|SP|SA, followed by TR.
  5. POP is pretty similar. Start off with MI|CO and RO|II|CE. We then need to take a cycle and decrement the stack pointer with SM. Like with PSH, we then set the address register with MI|SO|SA.
  6. We now just need to output the RAM into our A register with RO|AI|SA and then end the instruction with TR.
  7. Updating the assembler is easy since neither instruction has operands. For example, push is just psh -> 0x0B.
And that's it! Write some programs that take advantage of your new 256 byte stack to make sure everything works as expected.

Step 4: Add Subroutine Instructions (Image)

The last step to complete our stack is to add subroutine instructions. This allows us to write complex programs and paves the way for things like interrupt handling.
Subroutines are like a blend of push/pop instructions and a jump. Basically, when you want to call a subroutine, you save your spot in the program by pushing the program counter onto the stack, then jumping to the subroutine's location in memory. When you're done with the subroutine, you simply pop the program counter value from the stack and jump back into it.
We'll follow 6502 conventions and only save and restore the program counter for subroutines. Other CPUs may choose to save more state, but it's generally left up to the programmer to ensure they're not wiping out states in their subroutines (e.g., push the A register at the start of your subroutine if you're messing with it and restore it before you leave).
Adding an Extra Opcode Line
I've started running low on opcodes at this point. Luckily, we still have two free address lines we can use. To enable 5-bit opcodes, simply wire up the 4Q output of your upper 74LS173 register to A7 of your 28C16 ROM (this assumes your opcodes are at A3-A6).
Updating the ROM Writer
At this point, you simply need to update the Arduino writer to support 32 instructions vs. the current 16. So, for example, UCODE_TEMPLATE[16][8] becomes UCODE_TEMPLATE[32][8] and you fill in the 16 new array elements with nop. The problem is that the Arduino only has so much memory and with the way Ben's code is written to support conditional jumps, it starts to get tight.
I bet the code can be re-written to handle this, but I had a TL866II Plus EEPROM programmer handy from the 6502 build and I felt it would be easier to start using that instead. Converting to a regular C program is really simple (source code):
  1. Copy all the #define, global const arrays (don't forget to expand them from 16 to 32), and void initUCode(). Add #include and #include to the top.
  2. In your traditional int main (void) C function, after initializing with initUCode(), make two arrays: char ucode_upper[2048] and char ucode_lower[2048].
  3. Take your existing loop code that loops through all addresses: for (int address = 0; address < 2048; address++).
  4. Modify instruction to be 5-bit with int instruction = (address & 0b00011111000) >> 3;.
  5. When writing, just write to the arrays like so: ucode_lower[address] = ucode[flags][instruction][step]; and ucode_upper[address] = ucode[flags][instruction][step] >> 8;.
  6. Open a new file with FILE *f = fopen("rom_upper.hex", "wb");, write to it with fwrite(ucode_upper, sizeof(char), sizeof(ucode_upper), f); and close it with fclose(f);. Repeat this with the lower ROM too.
  7. Compile your code using gcc (you can use any C compiler), like so: gcc -Wall makerom.c -o makerom.
Running your program will spit out two binary files with the full contents of each ROM. Writing the file via the TL866II Plus requires minipro and the following command: minipro -p CAT28C16A -w rom_upper.hex.
Adding Subroutine Instructions
At this point, I cleaned up my instruction set layout a bit. I made psh and pop 1000 and 1001, respectively. I then created two new instructions: jsr and rts. These allow us to jump to a subroutine and returns from a subroutine. They're relatively simple:
  1. For jsr, the first three steps are the same as psh: MI|CO, RO|II|CE, MI|SO|SA.
  2. On the next step, instead of AO we use CO to save the program counter to the stack: CO|RI|SP|SA.
  3. We then essentially read the 2nd byte to do a jump and terminate: MI|CO, RO|J.
  4. For rts, the first four steps are the same as pop: MI|CO, RO|II|CE, SM, MI|SO|SA.
  5. On the next step, instead of AI we use J to load the program counter with the contents in stack: RO|J|SA.
  6. We're not done! If we just left this as-is, we'd jump to the 2nd byte of jsr which is not an opcode, but a memory address. All hell would break loose! We need to add a CE step to increment the program counter and then terminate.
Once you update the ROM, you should have fully functioning subroutines with 5-bit opcodes. One great way to test them is to create a recursive program to calculate something--just don't go too deep or you'll end up with a stack overflow!

Conclusion

And that's it! Another successful upgrade of your 8-bit CPU. You now have a very capable machine and toolchain. At this point I would have a bunch of fun with the software aspects. In terms of hardware, there's a number of ways to go from here:
  1. Interrupts. Interrupts are just special subroutines triggered by an external line. You can make one similar to how Ben did conditional jumps. The only added complexity is the need to load/save the flags register since an interrupt can happen at any time and you don't want to destroy the state. Given this would take more than 8 steps, you'd also need to add another line for the step counter (see below).
  2. ROM expansion. At this point, address lines on the ROM are getting tight which limits any expansion possibilities. With the new approach to ROM programming, it's trivial to switch out the 28C16 for the 28C256 that Ben uses in the 6502. These give you 4 additional address lines for flags/interrupts, opcodes, and steps.
  3. LCD output. At this point, adding a 16x2 character LCD like Ben uses in the 6502 is very possible.
  4. Segment/bank register. It's essentially a 2nd memory address register that lets you access 256-byte segments/banks of RAM using bank switching. This lets you take full advantage of the 32K of RAM in the Cypress chip.
  5. Fast increment instructions. Add these to registers by replacing 74LS173s with 74LS193s, allowing you to more quickly increment without going through the ALU. This is used to speed up loops and array operations.
submitted by MironV to beneater [link] [comments]

Part 2: Tools & Info for Sysadmins - Mega List of Tips, Tools, Books, Blogs & More

(continued from part 1)
Unlocker is a tool to help delete those irritating locked files that give you an error message like "cannot delete file" or "access is denied." It helps with killing processes, unloading DLLs, deleting index.dat files, as well as unlocking, deleting, renaming, and moving locked files—typically without requiring a reboot.
IIS Crypto's newest version adds advanced settings; registry backup; new, simpler templates; support for Windows Server 2019 and more. This tool lets you enable or disable protocols, ciphers, hashes and key exchange algorithms on Windows and reorder SSL/TLS cipher suites from IIS, change advanced settings, implement best practices with a single click, create custom templates and test your website. Available in both command line and GUI versions.
RocketDock is an application launcher with a clean interface that lets you drag/drop shortcuts for easy access and minimize windows to the dock. Features running application indicators, multi-monitor support, alpha-blended PNG and ICO icons, auto-hide and popup on mouse over, positioning and layering options. Fully customizable, portable, and compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher and Y'z Dock skins. Works even on slower computers and is Unicode compliant. Suggested by lieutenantcigarette: "If you like the dock on MacOS but prefer to use Windows, RocketDock has you covered. A superb and highly customisable dock that you can add your favourites to for easy and elegant access."
Baby FTP Server offers only the basics, but with the power to serve as a foundation for a more-complex server. Features include multi-threading, a real-time server log, support for PASV and non-PASV mode, ability to set permissions for download/upload/rename/delete/create directory. Only allows anonymous connections. Our thanks to FatherPrax for suggesting this one.
Strace is a Linux diagnostic, debugging and instructional userspace tool with a traditional command-line interface. Uses the ptrace kernel feature to monitor and tamper with interactions between processes and the kernel, including system calls, signal deliveries and changes of process state.
exa is a small, fast replacement for ls with more features and better defaults. It uses colors to distinguish file types and metadata, and it recognizes symlinks, extended attributes and Git. All in one single binary. phils_lab describes it as "'ls' on steroids, written in Rust."
rsync is a faster file transfer program for Unix to bring remote files into sync. It sends just the differences in the files across the link, without requiring both sets of files to be present at one of the ends. Suggested by zorinlynx, who adds that "rsync is GODLY for moving data around efficiently. And if an rsync is interrupted, just run it again."
Matter Wiki is a simple WYSIWYG wiki that can help teams store and collaborate. Every article gets filed under a topic, transparently, so you can tell who made what changes to which document and when. Thanks to bciar-iwdc for the recommendation.
LockHunter is a file unlocking tool that enables you to delete files that are being blocked for unknown reasons. Can be useful for fighting malware and other programs that are causing trouble. Deletes files into the recycle bin so you can restore them if necessary. Chucky2401 finds it preferable to Unlocker, "since I am on Windows 7. There are no new updates since July 2017, but the last beta was in June of this year."
aria2 is a lightweight multi-source command-line download utility that supports HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, BitTorrent and Metalink. It can be manipulated via built-in JSON-RPC and XML-RPC interfaces. Recommended by jftuga, who appreciates it as a "cross-platform command line downloader (similar to wget or curl), but with the -x option can run a segmented download of a single file to increase throughput."
Free Services
Temp-Mail allows you to receive email at a temporary address that self-destructs after a certain period of time. Outwit all the forums, Wi-Fi owners, websites and blogs that insist you register to use them. Petti-The-Yeti says, "I don't give any company my direct email anymore. If I want to trial something but they ask for an email signup, I just grab a temporary email from here, sign up with it, and wait for the trial link or license info to come through. Then, you just download the file and close the website."
Duck DNS will point a DNS (sub domains of duckdns.org) to an IP of your choice. DDNS is a handy way for you to refer to a serverouter with an easily rememberable name for situations when the server's ip address will likely change. Suggested by xgnarf, who finds it "so much better for the free tier of noip—no 30-day nag to keep your host up."
Joe Sandbox detects and analyzes potential malicious files and URLs on Windows, Android, Mac OS, Linux and iOS for suspicious activities. It performs deep malware analysis and generates comprehensive and detailed reports. The Community Edition of Joe Sandbox Cloud allows you to run a maximum of 6 analyses per month, 3 per day on Windows, Linux and Android with limited analysis output. This one is from dangibbons94, who wanted to "share this cool service ... for malware analysis. I usually use Virus total for URL scanning, but this goes a lot more in depth. I just used basic analysis, which is free and enough for my needs."
Hybrid Analysis is a malware analysis service that detects and analyzes unknown threats for the community. This one was suggested by compupheonix, who adds that it "gets you super detailed reports... it's about the most fleshed out and detailed one I can find."
JustBeamIt is a file-transfer service that allows you to send files of any size via a peer-to-peer streaming model. Simply drag and drop your file and specify the recipient's email address. They will then receive a link that will trigger the download directly from your computer, so the file does not have to be uploaded to the service itself. The link is good for one download and expires after 10 minutes. Thanks to cooljacob204sfw for the recommendation!
ShieldsUP is a quick but powerful internet security checkup and information service. It was created by security researcher Steve Gibson to scan ports and let you know which ones have been opened through your firewalls or NAT routers.
Firefox Send is an encrypted file transfer service that allows you to share files up to 2.5GB from any browser or an Android app. Uses end-to-end encryption to keep data secure and offers security controls you can set. You can determine when your file link expires, the number of downloads, and whether to add a password. Your recipient receives a link to download the file, and they don’t need a Firefox account. This one comes from DePingus, who appreciates the focus on privacy. "They have E2E, expiring links, and a clear privacy policy."
Free DNS is a service where programmers share domain names with one another at no cost. Offers free hosting as well as dynamic DNS, static DNS, subdomain and domain hosting. They can host your domain's DNS as well as allowing you to register hostnames from domains they're hosting already. If you don't have a domain, you can sign up for a free account and create up to 5 subdomains off the domains others have contributed and point these hosts anywhere on the Internet. Thanks to 0x000000000000004C (yes, that's a username) for the suggestion!
ANY.RUN is an interactive malware analysis service for dynamic and static research of the majority of threats in any environment. It can provide a convenient in-depth analysis of new, unidentified malicious objects and help with the investigation of incidents. ImAshtonTurner appreciates it as "a great sandbox tool for viewing malware, etc."
Plik is a scalable, temporary file upload system similar to wetransfer that is written in golang. Thanks go to I_eat_Narwhals for this one!
Free My IP offers free, dynamic DNS. This service comes with no login, no ads, no newsletters, no links to click and no hassle. Kindly suggested by Jack of All Trades.
Mailinator provides free, temporary email inboxes on a receive-only, attachment-free system that requires no sign-up. All @mailinator.com addresses are public, readable and discoverable by anyone at any time—but are automatically deleted after a few hours. Can be a nice option for times when you to give out an address that won't be accessible longterm. Recommended by nachomountain, who's been using it "for years."
Magic Wormhole is a service for sending files directly with no intermediate upload, no web interface and no login. When both parties are online you with the minimal software installed, the wormhole is invoked via command line identifying the file you want to send. The server then provides a speakable, one-time-use password that you give the recipient. When they enter that password in their wormhole console, key exchange occurs and the download begins directly between your computers. rjohnson99 explains, "Magic Wormhole is sort of like JustBeamIt but is open-source and is built on Python. I use it a lot on Linux servers."
EveryCloud's Free Phish is our own, new Phishing Simulator. Once you've filled in the form and logged in, you can choose from lots of email templates (many of which we've coped from what we see in our Email Security business) and landing pages. Run a one-off free phish, then see who clicked or submitted data so you can understand where your organization is vulnerable and act accordingly.
Hardening Guides
CIS Hardening Guides contain the system security benchmarks developed by a global community of cybersecurity experts. Over 140 configuration guidelines are provided to help safeguard systems against threats. Recommended by cyanghost109 "to get a start on looking at hardening your own systems."
Podcasts
Daily Tech News is Tom Merrit's show covering the latest tech issues with some of the top experts in the field. With the focus on daily tech news and analysis, it's a great way to stay current. Thanks to EmoPolarbear for drawing it to our attention.
This Week in Enterprise Tech is a podcast that features IT experts explaining the complicated details of cutting-edge enterprise technology. Join host Lou Maresca on this informative exploration of enterprise solutions, with new episodes recorded every Friday afternoon.
Security Weekly is a podcast where a "bunch of security nerds" get together and talk shop. Topics are greatly varied, and the atmosphere is relaxed and conversational. The show typically tops out at 2 hours, which is perfect for those with a long commute. If you’re fascinated by discussion of deep technical and security-related topics, this may be a nice addition to your podcast repertoire.
Grumpy Old Geeks—What Went Wrong on the Internet and Who's To Blame is a podcast about the internet, technology and geek culture—among other things. The hosts bring their grumpy brand of humor to the "state of the world as they see it" in these roughly hour-long weekly episodes. Recommended by mkaxsnyder, who enjoys it because, "They are a good team that talk about recent and relevant topics from an IT perspective."
The Social-Engineer Podcast is a monthly discussion among the hosts—a group of security experts from SEORG—and a diverse assortment of guests. Topics focus around human behavior and how it affects information security, with new episodes released on the second Monday of every month. Thanks to MrAshRhodes for the suggestion.
The CyberWire podcasts discuss what's happening in cyberspace, providing news and commentary from industry experts. This cyber security-focused news service delivers concise, accessible, and relevant content without the gossip, sensationalism, and the marketing buzz that often distract from the stories that really matter. Appreciation to supermicromainboard for the suggestion.
Malicious Life is a podcast that tells the fascinating—and often unknown—stories of the wildest hacks you can ever imagine. Host Ran Levi, a cybersecurity expert and author, talks with the people who were actually involved to reveal the history of each event in depth. Our appreciation goes to peraphon for the recommendation.
The Broadcast Storm is a podcast for Cisco networking professionals. BluePieceOfPaper suggests it "for people studying for their CCNA/NP. Kevin Wallace is a CCIE Collaboration so he knows his *ishk. Good format for learning too. Most podcasts are about 8-15 mins long and its 'usually' an exam topic. It will be something like "HSPR" but instead of just explaining it super boring like Ben Stein reading a powerpoint, he usually goes into a story about how (insert time in his career) HSPR would have been super useful..."
Software Engineering Radio is a podcast for developers who are looking for an educational resource with original content that isn't recycled from other venues. Consists of conversations on relevant topics with experts from the software engineering world, with new episodes released three to four times per month. a9JDvXLWHumjaC tells us this is "a solid podcast for devs."
Books
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is a comprehensive technical guide designed to help you optimize Microsoft's Configuration Manager 2012 according to your requirements and then to deploy and use it successfully. This methodical, step-by-step reference covers: the intentions behind the product and its role in the broader System Center product suite; planning, design, and implementation; and details on each of the most-important feature sets. Learn how to leverage the user-centric capabilities to provide anytime/anywhere services & software, while strengthening control and improving compliance.
Network Warrior: Everything You Need to Know That Wasn’t on the CCNA Exam is a practical guide to network infrastructure. Provides an in-depth view of routers and routing, switching (with Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches as examples), SOHO VoIP and SOHO wireless access point design and configuration, introduction to IPv6 with configuration examples, telecom technologies in the data-networking world (including T1, DS3, frame relay, and MPLS), security, firewall theory and configuration, ACL and authentication, Quality of Service (QoS), with an emphasis on low-latency queuing (LLQ), IP address allocation, Network Time Protocol (NTP) and device failures.
Beginning the Linux Command Line is your ally in mastering Linux from the keyboard. It is intended for system administrators, software developers, and enthusiastic users who want a guide that will be useful for most distributions—i.e., all items have been checked against Ubuntu, Red Hat and SUSE. Addresses administering users and security and deploying firewalls. Updated to the latest versions of Linux to cover files and directories, including the Btrfs file system and its management and systemd boot procedure and firewall management with firewalld.
Modern Operating Systems, 4th Ed. is written for students taking intro courses on Operating Systems and for those who want an OS reference guide for work. The author, an OS researcher, includes both the latest materials on relevant operating systems as well as current research. The previous edition of Modern Operating Systems received the 2010 McGuffey Longevity Award that recognizes textbooks for excellence over time.
Time Management for System Administrators is a guide for organizing your approach to this challenging role in a way that improves your results. Bestselling author Thomas Limoncelli offers a collection of tips and techniques for navigating the competing goals and concurrent responsibilities that go along with working on large projects while also taking care of individual user's needs. The book focuses on strategies to help with daily tasks that will also allow you to handle the critical situations that inevitably require your attention. You'll learn how to manage interruptions, eliminate time wasters, keep an effective calendar, develop routines and prioritize, stay focused on the task at hand and document/automate to speed processes.
The Practice of System and Network Administration, 3rd Edition introduces beginners to advanced frameworks while serving as a guide to best practices in system administration that is helpful for even the most advanced experts. Organized into four major sections that build from the foundational elements of system administration through improved techniques for upgrades and change management to exploring assorted management topics. Covers the basics and then moves onto the advanced things that can be built on top of those basics to wield real power and execute difficult projects.
Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Third Edition is designed to teach you PowerShell in a month's worth of 1-hour lessons. This updated edition covers PowerShell features that run on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later, PowerShell v3 and later, and it includes v5 features like PowerShellGet. For PowerShell v3 and up, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and later.
Troubleshooting with the Windows Sysinternals Tools is a guide to the powerful Sysinternals tools for diagnosing and troubleshooting issues. Sysinternals creator Mark Russinovich and Windows expert Aaron Margosis provide a deep understanding of Windows core concepts that aren’t well-documented elsewhere along with details on how to use Sysinternals tools to optimize any Windows system’s reliability, efficiency, performance and security. Includes an explanation of Sysinternals capabilities, details on each major tool, and examples of how the tools can be used to solve real-world cases involving error messages, hangs, sluggishness, malware infections and more.
DNS and BIND, 5th Ed. explains how to work with the Internet's distributed host information database—which is responsible for translating names into addresses, routing mail to its proper destination, and listing phone numbers according to the ENUM standard. Covers BIND 9.3.2 & 8.4.7, the what/how/why of DNS, name servers, MX records, subdividing domains (parenting), DNSSEC, TSIG, troubleshooting and more. PEPCK tells us this is "generally considered the DNS reference book (aside from the RFCs of course!)"
Windows PowerShell in Action, 3rd Ed. is a comprehensive guide to PowerShell. Written by language designer Bruce Payette and MVP Richard Siddaway, this volume gives a great introduction to Powershell, including everyday use cases and detailed examples for more-advanced topics like performance and module architecture. Covers workflows and classes, writing modules and scripts, desired state configuration and programming APIs/pipelines.This edition has been updated for PowerShell v6.
Zero Trust Networks: Building Secure Systems in Untrusted Networks explains the principles behind zero trust architecture, along with what's needed to implement it. Covers the evolution of perimeter-based defenses and how they evolved into the current broken model, case studies of zero trust in production networks on both the client and server side, example configurations for open-source tools that are useful for building a zero trust network and how to migrate from a perimeter-based network to a zero trust network in production. Kindly recommended by jaginfosec.
Tips
Here are a couple handy Windows shortcuts:
Here's a shortcut for a 4-pane explorer in Windows without installing 3rd-party software:
(Keep the win key down for the arrows, and no pauses.) Appreciation goes to ZAFJB for this one.
Our recent tip for a shortcut to get a 4-pane explorer in Windows, triggered this suggestion from SevaraB: "You can do that for an even larger grid of Windows by right-clicking the clock in the taskbar, and clicking 'Show windows side by side' to arrange them neatly. Did this for 4 rows of 6 windows when I had to have a quick 'n' dirty "video wall" of windows monitoring servers at our branches." ZAFJB adds that it actually works when you right-click "anywhere on the taskbar, except application icons or start button."
This tip comes courtesy of shipsass: "When I need to use Windows Explorer but I don't want to take my hands off the keyboard, I press Windows-E to launch Explorer and then Ctrl-L to jump to the address line and type my path. The Ctrl-L trick also works with any web browser, and it's an efficient way of talking less-technical people through instructions when 'browse to [location]' stumps them."
Clear browser history/cookies by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-DELETE on most major browsers. Thanks go to synapticpanda, who adds that this "saves me so much time when troubleshooting web apps where I am playing with the cache and such."
To rename a file with F2, while still editing the name of that file: Hit TAB to tab into the renaming of the next file. Thanks to abeeftaco for this one!
Alt-D is a reliable alternative to Ctrl-L for jumping to the address line in a browser. Thanks for this one go to fencepost_ajm, who explains: "Ctrl-L comes from the browser side as a shortcut for Location, Alt-D from the Windows Explorer side for Directory."
Browser shortcut: When typing a URL that ends with dot com, Ctrl + Enter will place the ".com" and take you to the page. Thanks to wpierre for this one!
This tip comes from anynonus, as something that daily that saves a few clicks: "Running a program with ctrl + shift + enter from start menu will start it as administrator (alt + y will select YES to run as admin) ... my user account is local admin [so] I don't feel like that is unsafe"
Building on our PowerShell resources, we received the following suggestion from halbaradkenafin: aka.ms/pskoans is "a way to learn PowerShell using PowerShell (and Pester). It's really cool and a bunch of folks have high praise for it (including a few teams within MSFT)."
Keyboard shortcut: If you already have an application open, hold ctrl + shift and middle click on the application in your task bar to open another instance as admin. Thanks go to Polymira for this one.
Remote Server Tip: "Critical advice. When testing out network configuration changes, prior to restarting the networking service or rebooting, always create a cron job that will restore your original network configuration and then reboot/restart networking on the machine after 5 minutes. If your config worked, you have enough time to remove it. If it didn't, it will fix itself. This is a beautifully simple solution that I learned from my old mentor at my very first job. I've held on to it for a long time." Thanks go to FrigidNox for the tip!
Websites
Deployment Research is the website of Johan Arwidmark, MS MVP in System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management. It is dedicated to sharing information and guidance around System Center, OS deployment, migration and more. The author shares tips and tricks to help improve the quality of IT Pros’ daily work.
Next of Windows is a website on (mostly) Microsoft-related technology. It's the place where Kent Chen—a computer veteran with many years of field experience—and Jonathan Hu—a web/mobile app developer and self-described "cool geek"—share what they know, what they learn and what they find in the hope of helping others learn and benefit.
High Scalability brings together all the relevant information about building scalable websites in one place. Because building a website with confidence requires a body of knowledge that can be slow to develop, the site focuses on moving visitors along the learning curve at a faster pace.
Information Technology Research Library is a great resource for IT-related research, white papers, reports, case studies, magazines, and eBooks. This library is provided at no charge by TradePub.com. GullibleDetective tells us it offers "free PDF files from a WIIIIIIDE variety of topics, not even just IT. Only caveat: as its a vendor-supported publishing company, you will have to give them a bit of information such as name, email address and possibly a company name. You undoubtedly have the ability to create fake information on this, mind you. The articles range from Excel templates, learning python, powershell, nosql etc. to converged architecture."
SS64 is a web-based reference guide for syntax and examples of the most-common database and OS computing commands. Recommended by Petti-The-Yeti, who adds, "I use this site all the time to look up commands and find examples while I'm building CMD and PS1 scripts."
Phishing and Malware Reporting. This website helps you put a stop to scams by getting fraudulent pages blocked. Easily report phishing webpages so they can be added to blacklists in as little as 15 minutes of your report. "Player024 tells us, "I highly recommend anyone in the industry to bookmark this page...With an average of about 10 minutes of work, I'm usually able to take down the phishing pages we receive thanks to the links posted on that website."
A Slack Channel
Windows Admin Slack is a great drive-by resource for the Windows sysadmin. This team has 33 public channels in total that cover different areas of helpful content on Windows administration.
Blogs
KC's Blog is the place where Microsoft MVP and web developer Kent Chen shares his IT insights and discoveries. The rather large library of posts offer helpful hints, how-tos, resources and news of interest to those in the Windows world.
The Windows Server Daily is the ever-current blog of technologist Katherine Moss, VP of open source & community engagement for StormlightTech. Offers brief daily posts on topics related to Windows server, Windows 10 and Administration.
An Infosec Slideshow
This security training slideshow was created for use during a quarterly infosec class. The content is offered generously by shalafi71, who adds, "Take this as a skeleton and flesh it out on your own. Take an hour or two and research the things I talk about. Tailor this to your own environment and users. Make it relevant to your people. Include corporate stories, include your audience, exclude yourself. This ain't about how smart you are at infosec, and I can't stress this enough, talk about how people can defend themselves. Give them things to look for and action they can take. No one gives a shit about your firewall rules."
Tech Tutorials
Tutorialspoint Library. This large collection of tech tutorials is a great resource for online learning. You'll find nearly 150 high-quality tutorials covering a wide array of languages and topics—from fundamentals to cutting-edge technologies. For example, this Powershell tutorial is designed for those with practical experience handling Windows-based Servers who want to learn how to install and use Windows Server 2012.
The Python Tutorial is a nice introduction to many of Python’s best features, enabling you to read and write Python modules and programs. It offers an understanding of the language's style and prepares you to learn more about the various Python library modules described in 'The Python Standard Library.' Kindly suggested by sharjeelsayed.
SysAdmin Humor
Day in the Life of a SysAdmin Episode 5: Lunch Break is an amusing look at a SysAdmin's attempt to take a brief lunch break. We imagine many of you can relate!
Have a fantastic week and as usual, let me know any comments or suggestions.
u/crispyducks
submitted by crispyducks to sysadmin [link] [comments]

Tools & Info for MSPs #2 - Mega List of Tips, Tools, Books, Blogs & More

(continued from part #1)
Unlocker is a tool to help delete those irritating locked files that give you an error message like "cannot delete file" or "access is denied." It helps with killing processes, unloading DLLs, deleting index.dat files, as well as unlocking, deleting, renaming, and moving locked files—typically without requiring a reboot.
IIS Crypto's newest version adds advanced settings; registry backup; new, simpler templates; support for Windows Server 2019 and more. This tool lets you enable or disable protocols, ciphers, hashes and key exchange algorithms on Windows and reorder SSL/TLS cipher suites from IIS, change advanced settings, implement best practices with a single click, create custom templates and test your website. Available in both command line and GUI versions.
RocketDock is an application launcher with a clean interface that lets you drag/drop shortcuts for easy access and minimize windows to the dock. Features running application indicators, multi-monitor support, alpha-blended PNG and ICO icons, auto-hide and popup on mouse over, positioning and layering options. Fully customizable, portable, and compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher and Y'z Dock skins. Works even on slower computers and is Unicode compliant. Suggested by lieutenantcigarette: "If you like the dock on MacOS but prefer to use Windows, RocketDock has you covered. A superb and highly customisable dock that you can add your favourites to for easy and elegant access."
Baby FTP Server offers only the basics, but with the power to serve as a foundation for a more-complex server. Features include multi-threading, a real-time server log, support for PASV and non-PASV mode, ability to set permissions for download/upload/rename/delete/create directory. Only allows anonymous connections. Our thanks to FatherPrax for suggesting this one.
Strace is a Linux diagnostic, debugging and instructional userspace tool with a traditional command-line interface. Uses the ptrace kernel feature to monitor and tamper with interactions between processes and the kernel, including system calls, signal deliveries and changes of process state.
exa is a small, fast replacement for ls with more features and better defaults. It uses colors to distinguish file types and metadata, and it recognizes symlinks, extended attributes and Git. All in one single binary. phils_lab describes it as "'ls' on steroids, written in Rust."
rsync is a faster file transfer program for Unix to bring remote files into sync. It sends just the differences in the files across the link, without requiring both sets of files to be present at one of the ends. Suggested by zorinlynx, who adds that "rsync is GODLY for moving data around efficiently. And if an rsync is interrupted, just run it again."
Matter Wiki is a simple WYSIWYG wiki that can help teams store and collaborate. Every article gets filed under a topic, transparently, so you can tell who made what changes to which document and when. Thanks to bciar-iwdc for the recommendation.
LockHunter is a file unlocking tool that enables you to delete files that are being blocked for unknown reasons. Can be useful for fighting malware and other programs that are causing trouble. Deletes files into the recycle bin so you can restore them if necessary. Chucky2401 finds it preferable to Unlocker, "since I am on Windows 7. There are no new updates since July 2017, but the last beta was in June of this year."
aria2 is a lightweight multi-source command-line download utility that supports HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, BitTorrent and Metalink. It can be manipulated via built-in JSON-RPC and XML-RPC interfaces. Recommended by jftuga, who appreciates it as a "cross-platform command line downloader (similar to wget or curl), but with the -x option can run a segmented download of a single file to increase throughput."
Free Services
Temp-Mail allows you to receive email at a temporary address that self-destructs after a certain period of time. Outwit all the forums, Wi-Fi owners, websites and blogs that insist you register to use them. Petti-The-Yeti says, "I don't give any company my direct email anymore. If I want to trial something but they ask for an email signup, I just grab a temporary email from here, sign up with it, and wait for the trial link or license info to come through. Then, you just download the file and close the website."
Duck DNS will point a DNS (sub domains of duckdns.org) to an IP of your choice. DDNS is a handy way for you to refer to a serverouter with an easily rememberable name for situations when the server's ip address will likely change. Suggested by xgnarf, who finds it "so much better for the free tier of noip—no 30-day nag to keep your host up."
Joe Sandbox detects and analyzes potential malicious files and URLs on Windows, Android, Mac OS, Linux and iOS for suspicious activities. It performs deep malware analysis and generates comprehensive and detailed reports. The Community Edition of Joe Sandbox Cloud allows you to run a maximum of 6 analyses per month, 3 per day on Windows, Linux and Android with limited analysis output. This one is from dangibbons94, who wanted to "share this cool service ... for malware analysis. I usually use Virus total for URL scanning, but this goes a lot more in depth. I just used basic analysis, which is free and enough for my needs."
Hybrid Analysis is a malware analysis service that detects and analyzes unknown threats for the community. This one was suggested by compupheonix, who adds that it "gets you super detailed reports... it's about the most fleshed out and detailed one I can find."
JustBeamIt is a file-transfer service that allows you to send files of any size via a peer-to-peer streaming model. Simply drag and drop your file and specify the recipient's email address. They will then receive a link that will trigger the download directly from your computer, so the file does not have to be uploaded to the service itself. The link is good for one download and expires after 10 minutes. Thanks to cooljacob204sfw for the recommendation!
ShieldsUP is a quick but powerful internet security checkup and information service. It was created by security researcher Steve Gibson to scan ports and let you know which ones have been opened through your firewalls or NAT routers.
Firefox Send is an encrypted file transfer service that allows you to share files up to 2.5GB from any browser or an Android app. Uses end-to-end encryption to keep data secure and offers security controls you can set. You can determine when your file link expires, the number of downloads, and whether to add a password. Your recipient receives a link to download the file, and they don’t need a Firefox account. This one comes from DePingus, who appreciates the focus on privacy. "They have E2E, expiring links, and a clear privacy policy."
Free DNS is a service where programmers share domain names with one another at no cost. Offers free hosting as well as dynamic DNS, static DNS, subdomain and domain hosting. They can host your domain's DNS as well as allowing you to register hostnames from domains they're hosting already. If you don't have a domain, you can sign up for a free account and create up to 5 subdomains off the domains others have contributed and point these hosts anywhere on the Internet. Thanks to 0x000000000000004C (yes, that's a username) for the suggestion!
ANY.RUN is an interactive malware analysis service for dynamic and static research of the majority of threats in any environment. It can provide a convenient in-depth analysis of new, unidentified malicious objects and help with the investigation of incidents. ImAshtonTurner appreciates it as "a great sandbox tool for viewing malware, etc."
Plik is a scalable, temporary file upload system similar to wetransfer that is written in golang. Thanks go to I_eat_Narwhals for this one!
Free My IP offers free, dynamic DNS. This service comes with no login, no ads, no newsletters, no links to click and no hassle. Kindly suggested by Jack of All Trades.
Mailinator provides free, temporary email inboxes on a receive-only, attachment-free system that requires no sign-up. All @mailinator.com addresses are public, readable and discoverable by anyone at any time—but are automatically deleted after a few hours. Can be a nice option for times when you to give out an address that won't be accessible longterm. Recommended by nachomountain, who's been using it "for years."
Magic Wormhole is a service for sending files directly with no intermediate upload, no web interface and no login. When both parties are online you with the minimal software installed, the wormhole is invoked via command line identifying the file you want to send. The server then provides a speakable, one-time-use password that you give the recipient. When they enter that password in their wormhole console, key exchange occurs and the download begins directly between your computers. rjohnson99 explains, "Magic Wormhole is sort of like JustBeamIt but is open-source and is built on Python. I use it a lot on Linux servers."
EveryCloud's Free Phish is our own, new Phishing Simulator. Once you've filled in the form and logged in, you can choose from lots of email templates (many of which we've coped from what we see in our Email Security business) and landing pages. Run a one-off free phish, then see who clicked or submitted data so you can understand where your organization is vulnerable and act accordingly.
Hardening Guides
CIS Hardening Guides contain the system security benchmarks developed by a global community of cybersecurity experts. Over 140 configuration guidelines are provided to help safeguard systems against threats. Recommended by cyanghost109 "to get a start on looking at hardening your own systems."
Podcasts
Daily Tech News is Tom Merrit's show covering the latest tech issues with some of the top experts in the field. With the focus on daily tech news and analysis, it's a great way to stay current. Thanks to EmoPolarbear for drawing it to our attention.
This Week in Enterprise Tech is a podcast that features IT experts explaining the complicated details of cutting-edge enterprise technology. Join host Lou Maresca on this informative exploration of enterprise solutions, with new episodes recorded every Friday afternoon.
Security Weekly is a podcast where a "bunch of security nerds" get together and talk shop. Topics are greatly varied, and the atmosphere is relaxed and conversational. The show typically tops out at 2 hours, which is perfect for those with a long commute. If you’re fascinated by discussion of deep technical and security-related topics, this may be a nice addition to your podcast repertoire.
Grumpy Old Geeks—What Went Wrong on the Internet and Who's To Blame is a podcast about the internet, technology and geek culture—among other things. The hosts bring their grumpy brand of humor to the "state of the world as they see it" in these roughly hour-long weekly episodes. Recommended by mkaxsnyder, who enjoys it because, "They are a good team that talk about recent and relevant topics from an IT perspective."
The Social-Engineer Podcast is a monthly discussion among the hosts—a group of security experts from SEORG—and a diverse assortment of guests. Topics focus around human behavior and how it affects information security, with new episodes released on the second Monday of every month. Thanks to MrAshRhodes for the suggestion.
The CyberWire podcasts discuss what's happening in cyberspace, providing news and commentary from industry experts. This cyber security-focused news service delivers concise, accessible, and relevant content without the gossip, sensationalism, and the marketing buzz that often distract from the stories that really matter. Appreciation to supermicromainboard for the suggestion.
Malicious Life is a podcast that tells the fascinating—and often unknown—stories of the wildest hacks you can ever imagine. Host Ran Levi, a cybersecurity expert and author, talks with the people who were actually involved to reveal the history of each event in depth. Our appreciation goes to peraphon for the recommendation.
The Broadcast Storm is a podcast for Cisco networking professionals. BluePieceOfPaper suggests it "for people studying for their CCNA/NP. Kevin Wallace is a CCIE Collaboration so he knows his *ishk. Good format for learning too. Most podcasts are about 8-15 mins long and its 'usually' an exam topic. It will be something like "HSPR" but instead of just explaining it super boring like Ben Stein reading a powerpoint, he usually goes into a story about how (insert time in his career) HSPR would have been super useful..."
Software Engineering Radio is a podcast for developers who are looking for an educational resource with original content that isn't recycled from other venues. Consists of conversations on relevant topics with experts from the software engineering world, with new episodes released three to four times per month. a9JDvXLWHumjaC tells us this is "a solid podcast for devs."
Books
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is a comprehensive technical guide designed to help you optimize Microsoft's Configuration Manager 2012 according to your requirements and then to deploy and use it successfully. This methodical, step-by-step reference covers: the intentions behind the product and its role in the broader System Center product suite; planning, design, and implementation; and details on each of the most-important feature sets. Learn how to leverage the user-centric capabilities to provide anytime/anywhere services & software, while strengthening control and improving compliance.
Network Warrior: Everything You Need to Know That Wasn’t on the CCNA Exam is a practical guide to network infrastructure. Provides an in-depth view of routers and routing, switching (with Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches as examples), SOHO VoIP and SOHO wireless access point design and configuration, introduction to IPv6 with configuration examples, telecom technologies in the data-networking world (including T1, DS3, frame relay, and MPLS), security, firewall theory and configuration, ACL and authentication, Quality of Service (QoS), with an emphasis on low-latency queuing (LLQ), IP address allocation, Network Time Protocol (NTP) and device failures.
Beginning the Linux Command Line is your ally in mastering Linux from the keyboard. It is intended for system administrators, software developers, and enthusiastic users who want a guide that will be useful for most distributions—i.e., all items have been checked against Ubuntu, Red Hat and SUSE. Addresses administering users and security and deploying firewalls. Updated to the latest versions of Linux to cover files and directories, including the Btrfs file system and its management and systemd boot procedure and firewall management with firewalld.
Modern Operating Systems, 4th Ed. is written for students taking intro courses on Operating Systems and for those who want an OS reference guide for work. The author, an OS researcher, includes both the latest materials on relevant operating systems as well as current research. The previous edition of Modern Operating Systems received the 2010 McGuffey Longevity Award that recognizes textbooks for excellence over time.
Time Management for System Administrators is a guide for organizing your approach to this challenging role in a way that improves your results. Bestselling author Thomas Limoncelli offers a collection of tips and techniques for navigating the competing goals and concurrent responsibilities that go along with working on large projects while also taking care of individual user's needs. The book focuses on strategies to help with daily tasks that will also allow you to handle the critical situations that inevitably require your attention. You'll learn how to manage interruptions, eliminate time wasters, keep an effective calendar, develop routines and prioritize, stay focused on the task at hand and document/automate to speed processes.
The Practice of System and Network Administration, 3rd Edition introduces beginners to advanced frameworks while serving as a guide to best practices in system administration that is helpful for even the most advanced experts. Organized into four major sections that build from the foundational elements of system administration through improved techniques for upgrades and change management to exploring assorted management topics. Covers the basics and then moves onto the advanced things that can be built on top of those basics to wield real power and execute difficult projects.
Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Third Edition is designed to teach you PowerShell in a month's worth of 1-hour lessons. This updated edition covers PowerShell features that run on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later, PowerShell v3 and later, and it includes v5 features like PowerShellGet. For PowerShell v3 and up, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and later.
Troubleshooting with the Windows Sysinternals Tools is a guide to the powerful Sysinternals tools for diagnosing and troubleshooting issues. Sysinternals creator Mark Russinovich and Windows expert Aaron Margosis provide a deep understanding of Windows core concepts that aren’t well-documented elsewhere along with details on how to use Sysinternals tools to optimize any Windows system’s reliability, efficiency, performance and security. Includes an explanation of Sysinternals capabilities, details on each major tool, and examples of how the tools can be used to solve real-world cases involving error messages, hangs, sluggishness, malware infections and more.
DNS and BIND, 5th Ed. explains how to work with the Internet's distributed host information database—which is responsible for translating names into addresses, routing mail to its proper destination, and listing phone numbers according to the ENUM standard. Covers BIND 9.3.2 & 8.4.7, the what/how/why of DNS, name servers, MX records, subdividing domains (parenting), DNSSEC, TSIG, troubleshooting and more. PEPCK tells us this is "generally considered the DNS reference book (aside from the RFCs of course!)"
Windows PowerShell in Action, 3rd Ed. is a comprehensive guide to PowerShell. Written by language designer Bruce Payette and MVP Richard Siddaway, this volume gives a great introduction to Powershell, including everyday use cases and detailed examples for more-advanced topics like performance and module architecture. Covers workflows and classes, writing modules and scripts, desired state configuration and programming APIs/pipelines.This edition has been updated for PowerShell v6.
Zero Trust Networks: Building Secure Systems in Untrusted Networks explains the principles behind zero trust architecture, along with what's needed to implement it. Covers the evolution of perimeter-based defenses and how they evolved into the current broken model, case studies of zero trust in production networks on both the client and server side, example configurations for open-source tools that are useful for building a zero trust network and how to migrate from a perimeter-based network to a zero trust network in production. Kindly recommended by jaginfosec.
Tips
Here are a couple handy Windows shortcuts:
Here's a shortcut for a 4-pane explorer in Windows without installing 3rd-party software:
(Keep the win key down for the arrows, and no pauses.) Appreciation goes to ZAFJB for this one.
Our recent tip for a shortcut to get a 4-pane explorer in Windows, triggered this suggestion from SevaraB: "You can do that for an even larger grid of Windows by right-clicking the clock in the taskbar, and clicking 'Show windows side by side' to arrange them neatly. Did this for 4 rows of 6 windows when I had to have a quick 'n' dirty "video wall" of windows monitoring servers at our branches." ZAFJB adds that it actually works when you right-click "anywhere on the taskbar, except application icons or start button."
This tip comes courtesy of shipsass: "When I need to use Windows Explorer but I don't want to take my hands off the keyboard, I press Windows-E to launch Explorer and then Ctrl-L to jump to the address line and type my path. The Ctrl-L trick also works with any web browser, and it's an efficient way of talking less-technical people through instructions when 'browse to [location]' stumps them."
Clear browser history/cookies by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-DELETE on most major browsers. Thanks go to synapticpanda, who adds that this "saves me so much time when troubleshooting web apps where I am playing with the cache and such."
To rename a file with F2, while still editing the name of that file: Hit TAB to tab into the renaming of the next file. Thanks to abeeftaco for this one!
Alt-D is a reliable alternative to Ctrl-L for jumping to the address line in a browser. Thanks for this one go to fencepost_ajm, who explains: "Ctrl-L comes from the browser side as a shortcut for Location, Alt-D from the Windows Explorer side for Directory."
Browser shortcut: When typing a URL that ends with dot com, Ctrl + Enter will place the ".com" and take you to the page. Thanks to wpierre for this one!
This tip comes from anynonus, as something that daily that saves a few clicks: "Running a program with ctrl + shift + enter from start menu will start it as administrator (alt + y will select YES to run as admin) ... my user account is local admin [so] I don't feel like that is unsafe"
Building on our PowerShell resources, we received the following suggestion from halbaradkenafin: aka.ms/pskoans is "a way to learn PowerShell using PowerShell (and Pester). It's really cool and a bunch of folks have high praise for it (including a few teams within MSFT)."
Keyboard shortcut: If you already have an application open, hold ctrl + shift and middle click on the application in your task bar to open another instance as admin. Thanks go to Polymira for this one.
Remote Server Tip: "Critical advice. When testing out network configuration changes, prior to restarting the networking service or rebooting, always create a cron job that will restore your original network configuration and then reboot/restart networking on the machine after 5 minutes. If your config worked, you have enough time to remove it. If it didn't, it will fix itself. This is a beautifully simple solution that I learned from my old mentor at my very first job. I've held on to it for a long time." Thanks go to FrigidNox for the tip!
Websites
Deployment Research is the website of Johan Arwidmark, MS MVP in System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management. It is dedicated to sharing information and guidance around System Center, OS deployment, migration and more. The author shares tips and tricks to help improve the quality of IT Pros’ daily work.
Next of Windows is a website on (mostly) Microsoft-related technology. It's the place where Kent Chen—a computer veteran with many years of field experience—and Jonathan Hu—a web/mobile app developer and self-described "cool geek"—share what they know, what they learn and what they find in the hope of helping others learn and benefit.
High Scalability brings together all the relevant information about building scalable websites in one place. Because building a website with confidence requires a body of knowledge that can be slow to develop, the site focuses on moving visitors along the learning curve at a faster pace.
Information Technology Research Library is a great resource for IT-related research, white papers, reports, case studies, magazines, and eBooks. This library is provided at no charge by TradePub.com. GullibleDetective tells us it offers "free PDF files from a WIIIIIIDE variety of topics, not even just IT. Only caveat: as its a vendor-supported publishing company, you will have to give them a bit of information such as name, email address and possibly a company name. You undoubtedly have the ability to create fake information on this, mind you. The articles range from Excel templates, learning python, powershell, nosql etc. to converged architecture."
SS64 is a web-based reference guide for syntax and examples of the most-common database and OS computing commands. Recommended by Petti-The-Yeti, who adds, "I use this site all the time to look up commands and find examples while I'm building CMD and PS1 scripts."
Phishing and Malware Reporting. This website helps you put a stop to scams by getting fraudulent pages blocked. Easily report phishing webpages so they can be added to blacklists in as little as 15 minutes of your report. "Player024 tells us, "I highly recommend anyone in the industry to bookmark this page...With an average of about 10 minutes of work, I'm usually able to take down the phishing pages we receive thanks to the links posted on that website."
A Slack Channel
Windows Admin Slack is a great drive-by resource for the Windows sysadmin. This team has 33 public channels in total that cover different areas of helpful content on Windows administration.
Blogs
KC's Blog is the place where Microsoft MVP and web developer Kent Chen shares his IT insights and discoveries. The rather large library of posts offer helpful hints, how-tos, resources and news of interest to those in the Windows world.
The Windows Server Daily is the ever-current blog of technologist Katherine Moss, VP of open source & community engagement for StormlightTech. Offers brief daily posts on topics related to Windows server, Windows 10 and Administration.
An Infosec Slideshow
This security training slideshow was created for use during a quarterly infosec class. The content is offered generously by shalafi71, who adds, "Take this as a skeleton and flesh it out on your own. Take an hour or two and research the things I talk about. Tailor this to your own environment and users. Make it relevant to your people. Include corporate stories, include your audience, exclude yourself. This ain't about how smart you are at infosec, and I can't stress this enough, talk about how people can defend themselves. Give them things to look for and action they can take. No one gives a shit about your firewall rules."
Tech Tutorials
Tutorialspoint Library. This large collection of tech tutorials is a great resource for online learning. You'll find nearly 150 high-quality tutorials covering a wide array of languages and topics—from fundamentals to cutting-edge technologies. For example, this Powershell tutorial is designed for those with practical experience handling Windows-based Servers who want to learn how to install and use Windows Server 2012.
The Python Tutorial is a nice introduction to many of Python’s best features, enabling you to read and write Python modules and programs. It offers an understanding of the language's style and prepares you to learn more about the various Python library modules described in 'The Python Standard Library.' Kindly suggested by sharjeelsayed.
SysAdmin Humor
Day in the Life of a SysAdmin Episode 5: Lunch Break is an amusing look at a SysAdmin's attempt to take a brief lunch break. We imagine many of you can relate!
Have a fantastic week and as usual, let me know any comments.
Graham | CEO | EveryCloud
Fyi - I've set up a subreddit /itprotuesday, where we feature / encourage posts of some additional tools, tips etc. throughout the week. Pop over and subscribe if you’re interested.
submitted by crispyducks to msp [link] [comments]

IT Pro Tuesday #64 (part 2) - Mega List of Tips, Tools, Books, Blogs & More

(continued from part 1)
Captura is a flexible tool for capturing your screen, audio, cursor, mouse clicks and keystrokes. Features include mixing audio recorded from microphone and speaker output, command-line interface, and configurable hotkeys. Thanks to jantari for the recommedation.
Unlocker is a tool to help delete those irritating locked files that give you an error message like "cannot delete file" or "access is denied." It helps with killing processes, unloading DLLs, deleting index.dat files, as well as unlocking, deleting, renaming, and moving locked files—typically without requiring a reboot.
IIS Crypto's newest version adds advanced settings; registry backup; new, simpler templates; support for Windows Server 2019 and more. This tool lets you enable or disable protocols, ciphers, hashes and key exchange algorithms on Windows and reorder SSL/TLS cipher suites from IIS, change advanced settings, implement best practices with a single click, create custom templates and test your website. Available in both command line and GUI versions.
RocketDock is an application launcher with a clean interface that lets you drag/drop shortcuts for easy access and minimize windows to the dock. Features running application indicators, multi-monitor support, alpha-blended PNG and ICO icons, auto-hide and popup on mouse over, positioning and layering options. Fully customizable, portable, and compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher and Y'z Dock skins. Works even on slower computers and is Unicode compliant. Suggested by lieutenantcigarette: "If you like the dock on MacOS but prefer to use Windows, RocketDock has you covered. A superb and highly customisable dock that you can add your favourites to for easy and elegant access."
Baby FTP Server offers only the basics, but with the power to serve as a foundation for a more-complex server. Features include multi-threading, a real-time server log, support for PASV and non-PASV mode, ability to set permissions for download/upload/rename/delete/create directory. Only allows anonymous connections. Our thanks to FatherPrax for suggesting this one.
Strace is a Linux diagnostic, debugging and instructional userspace tool with a traditional command-line interface. Uses the ptrace kernel feature to monitor and tamper with interactions between processes and the kernel, including system calls, signal deliveries and changes of process state.
exa is a small, fast replacement for ls with more features and better defaults. It uses colors to distinguish file types and metadata, and it recognizes symlinks, extended attributes and Git. All in one single binary. phils_lab describes it as "'ls' on steroids, written in Rust."
rsync is a faster file transfer program for Unix to bring remote files into sync. It sends just the differences in the files across the link, without requiring both sets of files to be present at one of the ends. Suggested by zorinlynx, who adds that "rsync is GODLY for moving data around efficiently. And if an rsync is interrupted, just run it again."
Matter Wiki is a simple WYSIWYG wiki that can help teams store and collaborate. Every article gets filed under a topic, transparently, so you can tell who made what changes to which document and when. Thanks to bciar-iwdc for the recommendation.
LockHunter is a file unlocking tool that enables you to delete files that are being blocked for unknown reasons. Can be useful for fighting malware and other programs that are causing trouble. Deletes files into the recycle bin so you can restore them if necessary. Chucky2401 finds it preferable to Unlocker, "since I am on Windows 7. There are no new updates since July 2017, but the last beta was in June of this year."
aria2 is a lightweight multi-source command-line download utility that supports HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, BitTorrent and Metalink. It can be manipulated via built-in JSON-RPC and XML-RPC interfaces. Recommended by jftuga, who appreciates it as a "cross-platform command line downloader (similar to wget or curl), but with the -x option can run a segmented download of a single file to increase throughput."
Free Services
Temp-Mail allows you to receive email at a temporary address that self-destructs after a certain period of time. Outwit all the forums, Wi-Fi owners, websites and blogs that insist you register to use them. Petti-The-Yeti says, "I don't give any company my direct email anymore. If I want to trial something but they ask for an email signup, I just grab a temporary email from here, sign up with it, and wait for the trial link or license info to come through. Then, you just download the file and close the website."
Duck DNS will point a DNS (sub domains of duckdns.org) to an IP of your choice. DDNS is a handy way for you to refer to a serverouter with an easily rememberable name for situations when the server's ip address will likely change. Suggested by xgnarf, who finds it "so much better for the free tier of noip—no 30-day nag to keep your host up."
Joe Sandbox detects and analyzes potential malicious files and URLs on Windows, Android, Mac OS, Linux and iOS for suspicious activities. It performs deep malware analysis and generates comprehensive and detailed reports. The Community Edition of Joe Sandbox Cloud allows you to run a maximum of 6 analyses per month, 3 per day on Windows, Linux and Android with limited analysis output. This one is from dangibbons94, who wanted to "share this cool service ... for malware analysis. I usually use Virus total for URL scanning, but this goes a lot more in depth. I just used basic analysis, which is free and enough for my needs."
Hybrid Analysis is a malware analysis service that detects and analyzes unknown threats for the community. This one was suggested by compupheonix, who adds that it "gets you super detailed reports... it's about the most fleshed out and detailed one I can find."
JustBeamIt is a file-transfer service that allows you to send files of any size via a peer-to-peer streaming model. Simply drag and drop your file and specify the recipient's email address. They will then receive a link that will trigger the download directly from your computer, so the file does not have to be uploaded to the service itself. The link is good for one download and expires after 10 minutes. Thanks to cooljacob204sfw for the recommendation!
ShieldsUP is a quick but powerful internet security checkup and information service. It was created by security researcher Steve Gibson to scan ports and let you know which ones have been opened through your firewalls or NAT routers.
Firefox Send is an encrypted file transfer service that allows you to share files up to 2.5GB from any browser or an Android app. Uses end-to-end encryption to keep data secure and offers security controls you can set. You can determine when your file link expires, the number of downloads, and whether to add a password. Your recipient receives a link to download the file, and they don’t need a Firefox account. This one comes from DePingus, who appreciates the focus on privacy. "They have E2E, expiring links, and a clear privacy policy."
Free DNS is a service where programmers share domain names with one another at no cost. Offers free hosting as well as dynamic DNS, static DNS, subdomain and domain hosting. They can host your domain's DNS as well as allowing you to register hostnames from domains they're hosting already. If you don't have a domain, you can sign up for a free account and create up to 5 subdomains off the domains others have contributed and point these hosts anywhere on the Internet. Thanks to 0x000000000000004C (yes, that's a username) for the suggestion!
ANY.RUN is an interactive malware analysis service for dynamic and static research of the majority of threats in any environment. It can provide a convenient in-depth analysis of new, unidentified malicious objects and help with the investigation of incidents. ImAshtonTurner appreciates it as "a great sandbox tool for viewing malware, etc."
Plik is a scalable, temporary file upload system similar to wetransfer that is written in golang. Thanks go to I_eat_Narwhals for this one!
Free My IP offers free, dynamic DNS. This service comes with no login, no ads, no newsletters, no links to click and no hassle. Kindly suggested by Jack of All Trades.
Mailinator provides free, temporary email inboxes on a receive-only, attachment-free system that requires no sign-up. All @mailinator.com addresses are public, readable and discoverable by anyone at any time—but are automatically deleted after a few hours. Can be a nice option for times when you to give out an address that won't be accessible longterm. Recommended by nachomountain, who's been using it "for years."
Magic Wormhole is a service for sending files directly with no intermediate upload, no web interface and no login. When both parties are online you with the minimal software installed, the wormhole is invoked via command line identifying the file you want to send. The server then provides a speakable, one-time-use password that you give the recipient. When they enter that password in their wormhole console, key exchange occurs and the download begins directly between your computers. rjohnson99 explains, "Magic Wormhole is sort of like JustBeamIt but is open-source and is built on Python. I use it a lot on Linux servers."
EveryCloud's Free Phish is our own, new Phishing Simulator. Once you've filled in the form and logged in, you can choose from lots of email templates (many of which we've coped from what we see in our Email Security business) and landing pages. Run a one-off free phish, then see who clicked or submitted data so you can understand where your organization is vulnerable and act accordingly.
Hardening Guides
CIS Hardening Guides contain the system security benchmarks developed by a global community of cybersecurity experts. Over 140 configuration guidelines are provided to help safeguard systems against threats. Recommended by cyanghost109 "to get a start on looking at hardening your own systems."
Podcasts
Daily Tech News is Tom Merrit's show covering the latest tech issues with some of the top experts in the field. With the focus on daily tech news and analysis, it's a great way to stay current. Thanks to EmoPolarbear for drawing it to our attention.
This Week in Enterprise Tech is a podcast that features IT experts explaining the complicated details of cutting-edge enterprise technology. Join host Lou Maresca on this informative exploration of enterprise solutions, with new episodes recorded every Friday afternoon.
Security Weekly is a podcast where a "bunch of security nerds" get together and talk shop. Topics are greatly varied, and the atmosphere is relaxed and conversational. The show typically tops out at 2 hours, which is perfect for those with a long commute. If you’re fascinated by discussion of deep technical and security-related topics, this may be a nice addition to your podcast repertoire.
Grumpy Old Geeks—What Went Wrong on the Internet and Who's To Blame is a podcast about the internet, technology and geek culture—among other things. The hosts bring their grumpy brand of humor to the "state of the world as they see it" in these roughly hour-long weekly episodes. Recommended by mkaxsnyder, who enjoys it because, "They are a good team that talk about recent and relevant topics from an IT perspective."
The Social-Engineer Podcast is a monthly discussion among the hosts—a group of security experts from SEORG—and a diverse assortment of guests. Topics focus around human behavior and how it affects information security, with new episodes released on the second Monday of every month. Thanks to MrAshRhodes for the suggestion.
The CyberWire podcasts discuss what's happening in cyberspace, providing news and commentary from industry experts. This cyber security-focused news service delivers concise, accessible, and relevant content without the gossip, sensationalism, and the marketing buzz that often distract from the stories that really matter. Appreciation to supermicromainboard for the suggestion.
Malicious Life is a podcast that tells the fascinating—and often unknown—stories of the wildest hacks you can ever imagine. Host Ran Levi, a cybersecurity expert and author, talks with the people who were actually involved to reveal the history of each event in depth. Our appreciation goes to peraphon for the recommendation.
The Broadcast Storm is a podcast for Cisco networking professionals. BluePieceOfPaper suggests it "for people studying for their CCNA/NP. Kevin Wallace is a CCIE Collaboration so he knows his *ishk. Good format for learning too. Most podcasts are about 8-15 mins long and its 'usually' an exam topic. It will be something like "HSPR" but instead of just explaining it super boring like Ben Stein reading a powerpoint, he usually goes into a story about how (insert time in his career) HSPR would have been super useful..."
Software Engineering Radio is a podcast for developers who are looking for an educational resource with original content that isn't recycled from other venues. Consists of conversations on relevant topics with experts from the software engineering world, with new episodes released three to four times per month. a9JDvXLWHumjaC tells us this is "a solid podcast for devs."
Books
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is a comprehensive technical guide designed to help you optimize Microsoft's Configuration Manager 2012 according to your requirements and then to deploy and use it successfully. This methodical, step-by-step reference covers: the intentions behind the product and its role in the broader System Center product suite; planning, design, and implementation; and details on each of the most-important feature sets. Learn how to leverage the user-centric capabilities to provide anytime/anywhere services & software, while strengthening control and improving compliance.
Network Warrior: Everything You Need to Know That Wasn’t on the CCNA Exam is a practical guide to network infrastructure. Provides an in-depth view of routers and routing, switching (with Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches as examples), SOHO VoIP and SOHO wireless access point design and configuration, introduction to IPv6 with configuration examples, telecom technologies in the data-networking world (including T1, DS3, frame relay, and MPLS), security, firewall theory and configuration, ACL and authentication, Quality of Service (QoS), with an emphasis on low-latency queuing (LLQ), IP address allocation, Network Time Protocol (NTP) and device failures.
Beginning the Linux Command Line is your ally in mastering Linux from the keyboard. It is intended for system administrators, software developers, and enthusiastic users who want a guide that will be useful for most distributions—i.e., all items have been checked against Ubuntu, Red Hat and SUSE. Addresses administering users and security and deploying firewalls. Updated to the latest versions of Linux to cover files and directories, including the Btrfs file system and its management and systemd boot procedure and firewall management with firewalld.
Modern Operating Systems, 4th Ed. is written for students taking intro courses on Operating Systems and for those who want an OS reference guide for work. The author, an OS researcher, includes both the latest materials on relevant operating systems as well as current research. The previous edition of Modern Operating Systems received the 2010 McGuffey Longevity Award that recognizes textbooks for excellence over time.
Time Management for System Administrators is a guide for organizing your approach to this challenging role in a way that improves your results. Bestselling author Thomas Limoncelli offers a collection of tips and techniques for navigating the competing goals and concurrent responsibilities that go along with working on large projects while also taking care of individual user's needs. The book focuses on strategies to help with daily tasks that will also allow you to handle the critical situations that inevitably require your attention. You'll learn how to manage interruptions, eliminate time wasters, keep an effective calendar, develop routines and prioritize, stay focused on the task at hand and document/automate to speed processes.
The Practice of System and Network Administration, 3rd Edition introduces beginners to advanced frameworks while serving as a guide to best practices in system administration that is helpful for even the most advanced experts. Organized into four major sections that build from the foundational elements of system administration through improved techniques for upgrades and change management to exploring assorted management topics. Covers the basics and then moves onto the advanced things that can be built on top of those basics to wield real power and execute difficult projects.
Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Third Edition is designed to teach you PowerShell in a month's worth of 1-hour lessons. This updated edition covers PowerShell features that run on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later, PowerShell v3 and later, and it includes v5 features like PowerShellGet. For PowerShell v3 and up, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and later.
Troubleshooting with the Windows Sysinternals Tools is a guide to the powerful Sysinternals tools for diagnosing and troubleshooting issues. Sysinternals creator Mark Russinovich and Windows expert Aaron Margosis provide a deep understanding of Windows core concepts that aren’t well-documented elsewhere along with details on how to use Sysinternals tools to optimize any Windows system’s reliability, efficiency, performance and security. Includes an explanation of Sysinternals capabilities, details on each major tool, and examples of how the tools can be used to solve real-world cases involving error messages, hangs, sluggishness, malware infections and more.
DNS and BIND, 5th Ed. explains how to work with the Internet's distributed host information database—which is responsible for translating names into addresses, routing mail to its proper destination, and listing phone numbers according to the ENUM standard. Covers BIND 9.3.2 & 8.4.7, the what/how/why of DNS, name servers, MX records, subdividing domains (parenting), DNSSEC, TSIG, troubleshooting and more. PEPCK tells us this is "generally considered the DNS reference book (aside from the RFCs of course!)"
Windows PowerShell in Action, 3rd Ed. is a comprehensive guide to PowerShell. Written by language designer Bruce Payette and MVP Richard Siddaway, this volume gives a great introduction to Powershell, including everyday use cases and detailed examples for more-advanced topics like performance and module architecture. Covers workflows and classes, writing modules and scripts, desired state configuration and programming APIs/pipelines.This edition has been updated for PowerShell v6.
Zero Trust Networks: Building Secure Systems in Untrusted Networks explains the principles behind zero trust architecture, along with what's needed to implement it. Covers the evolution of perimeter-based defenses and how they evolved into the current broken model, case studies of zero trust in production networks on both the client and server side, example configurations for open-source tools that are useful for building a zero trust network and how to migrate from a perimeter-based network to a zero trust network in production. Kindly recommended by jaginfosec.
Tips
Here are a couple handy Windows shortcuts:
Here's a shortcut for a 4-pane explorer in Windows without installing 3rd-party software:
(Keep the win key down for the arrows, and no pauses.) Appreciation goes to ZAFJB for this one.
Our recent tip for a shortcut to get a 4-pane explorer in Windows, triggered this suggestion from SevaraB: "You can do that for an even larger grid of Windows by right-clicking the clock in the taskbar, and clicking 'Show windows side by side' to arrange them neatly. Did this for 4 rows of 6 windows when I had to have a quick 'n' dirty "video wall" of windows monitoring servers at our branches." ZAFJB adds that it actually works when you right-click "anywhere on the taskbar, except application icons or start button."
This tip comes courtesy of shipsass: "When I need to use Windows Explorer but I don't want to take my hands off the keyboard, I press Windows-E to launch Explorer and then Ctrl-L to jump to the address line and type my path. The Ctrl-L trick also works with any web browser, and it's an efficient way of talking less-technical people through instructions when 'browse to [location]' stumps them."
Clear browser history/cookies by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-DELETE on most major browsers. Thanks go to synapticpanda, who adds that this "saves me so much time when troubleshooting web apps where I am playing with the cache and such."
To rename a file with F2, while still editing the name of that file: Hit TAB to tab into the renaming of the next file. Thanks to abeeftaco for this one!
Alt-D is a reliable alternative to Ctrl-L for jumping to the address line in a browser. Thanks for this one go to fencepost_ajm, who explains: "Ctrl-L comes from the browser side as a shortcut for Location, Alt-D from the Windows Explorer side for Directory."
Browser shortcut: When typing a URL that ends with dot com, Ctrl + Enter will place the ".com" and take you to the page. Thanks to wpierre for this one!
This tip comes from anynonus, as something that daily that saves a few clicks: "Running a program with ctrl + shift + enter from start menu will start it as administrator (alt + y will select YES to run as admin) ... my user account is local admin [so] I don't feel like that is unsafe"
Building on our PowerShell resources, we received the following suggestion from halbaradkenafin: aka.ms/pskoans is "a way to learn PowerShell using PowerShell (and Pester). It's really cool and a bunch of folks have high praise for it (including a few teams within MSFT)."
Keyboard shortcut: If you already have an application open, hold ctrl + shift and middle click on the application in your task bar to open another instance as admin. Thanks go to Polymira for this one.
Remote Server Tip: "Critical advice. When testing out network configuration changes, prior to restarting the networking service or rebooting, always create a cron job that will restore your original network configuration and then reboot/restart networking on the machine after 5 minutes. If your config worked, you have enough time to remove it. If it didn't, it will fix itself. This is a beautifully simple solution that I learned from my old mentor at my very first job. I've held on to it for a long time." Thanks go to FrigidNox for the tip!
Websites
Deployment Research is the website of Johan Arwidmark, MS MVP in System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management. It is dedicated to sharing information and guidance around System Center, OS deployment, migration and more. The author shares tips and tricks to help improve the quality of IT Pros’ daily work.
Next of Windows is a website on (mostly) Microsoft-related technology. It's the place where Kent Chen—a computer veteran with many years of field experience—and Jonathan Hu—a web/mobile app developer and self-described "cool geek"—share what they know, what they learn and what they find in the hope of helping others learn and benefit.
High Scalability brings together all the relevant information about building scalable websites in one place. Because building a website with confidence requires a body of knowledge that can be slow to develop, the site focuses on moving visitors along the learning curve at a faster pace.
Information Technology Research Library is a great resource for IT-related research, white papers, reports, case studies, magazines, and eBooks. This library is provided at no charge by TradePub.com. GullibleDetective tells us it offers "free PDF files from a WIIIIIIDE variety of topics, not even just IT. Only caveat: as its a vendor-supported publishing company, you will have to give them a bit of information such as name, email address and possibly a company name. You undoubtedly have the ability to create fake information on this, mind you. The articles range from Excel templates, learning python, powershell, nosql etc. to converged architecture."
SS64 is a web-based reference guide for syntax and examples of the most-common database and OS computing commands. Recommended by Petti-The-Yeti, who adds, "I use this site all the time to look up commands and find examples while I'm building CMD and PS1 scripts."
Phishing and Malware Reporting. This website helps you put a stop to scams by getting fraudulent pages blocked. Easily report phishing webpages so they can be added to blacklists in as little as 15 minutes of your report. "Player024 tells us, "I highly recommend anyone in the industry to bookmark this page...With an average of about 10 minutes of work, I'm usually able to take down the phishing pages we receive thanks to the links posted on that website."
A Slack Channel
Windows Admin Slack is a great drive-by resource for the Windows sysadmin. This team has 33 public channels in total that cover different areas of helpful content on Windows administration.
Blogs
KC's Blog is the place where Microsoft MVP and web developer Kent Chen shares his IT insights and discoveries. The rather large library of posts offer helpful hints, how-tos, resources and news of interest to those in the Windows world.
The Windows Server Daily is the ever-current blog of technologist Katherine Moss, VP of open source & community engagement for StormlightTech. Offers brief daily posts on topics related to Windows server, Windows 10 and Administration.
An Infosec Slideshow
This security training slideshow was created for use during a quarterly infosec class. The content is offered generously by shalafi71, who adds, "Take this as a skeleton and flesh it out on your own. Take an hour or two and research the things I talk about. Tailor this to your own environment and users. Make it relevant to your people. Include corporate stories, include your audience, exclude yourself. This ain't about how smart you are at infosec, and I can't stress this enough, talk about how people can defend themselves. Give them things to look for and action they can take. No one gives a shit about your firewall rules."
Tech Tutorials
Tutorialspoint Library. This large collection of tech tutorials is a great resource for online learning. You'll find nearly 150 high-quality tutorials covering a wide array of languages and topics—from fundamentals to cutting-edge technologies. For example, this Powershell tutorial is designed for those with practical experience handling Windows-based Servers who want to learn how to install and use Windows Server 2012.
The Python Tutorial is a nice introduction to many of Python’s best features, enabling you to read and write Python modules and programs. It offers an understanding of the language's style and prepares you to learn more about the various Python library modules described in 'The Python Standard Library.' Kindly suggested by sharjeelsayed.
SysAdmin Humor
Day in the Life of a SysAdmin Episode 5: Lunch Break is an amusing look at a SysAdmin's attempt to take a brief lunch break. We imagine many of you can relate!
Have a fantastic week and as usual, let me know any comments.
Graham | CEO | EveryCloud
submitted by crispyducks to ITProTuesday [link] [comments]

[OC] Eve of AI Chapter 4

The hollow clunks echoed internally along the both stern and bow of every ship, sending the quietened sound through the thick clouds of Helium-3 permeating the open spaces designed for individual movement, reminiscent of a midsummer rain pounding on the shell of a car back on Earth. It was soft enough that the hull seismometers registered it as a meteoroid cluster, and began slow and gentle evasive manoeuvring based on relative positioning; which ships were registering hits, and which weren’t. To the confusion of the sensors, every ship was taking hits. They were tens of miles apart, barely within visual range of each other, yet the result of the cascading set of evasive orders resulted in a silent, twisting ballet of machinery amongst the stars to evade a seemingly gigantic cluster of interstellar rock.
As if sensing intention, the impacts slowed, and eventually stopped entirely. Several hundred had been registered, and the ships began self-diagnostics to detect any damage. After a handful of minutes, the heat generated by the flurry of processing in the independent vessel diagnostic and analysis unit died down, reporting zero damage – the flotilla had survived, somehow, and a new set of diagnostics were running to examine how such a field had been encountered without prior warning. Error checking and diagnostic testing was run on the forward sensor arrays to find out what the issue was. They all reported clean, error-free and functionally perfect, displaying a 3-dimensional dodecachromic image of the space in front of the fleet to the databanks, studded with stars and clouded by swirling nebulae, almost like a vague homage to abstract creations by a famous Human artist Andy Warhol, but entirely unappreciable by eyes any less complex than wide-band EM sensors.
Unaware of any possible correlation in activity, the outer airlocks on several ships opened, alerting the diagnostics system to the intrusion. Cross-referencing with the navigation system, the ship initiated a full system diagnostic as there could be no possible reason for the outer airlocks to open in deep space, much less between systems. The ship’s flight network had diverted the flotilla to a nearby system several thousand AU prior to take a quick refuel from a lone Tfn-class brown dwarf that hadn’t been visible from the initial launch point, and after compressing as much He-3 as possible into the liquid helium storage tanks, it had then filled the hulls with just enough He-3 to not condense into a liquid, as there were no biological life signs on board, to allow for some exploration and data collection of anomalies while Eve and the Evians slumbered through the long dark. With no refuel point nearby, door controls were queried for their activity and written off as radiation-based parity errors, despite the maths checking out flawlessly, and the command was sent to reseal the doors.
It wasn’t until pressurisation was complete and the internal airlocks opened that the various networks cross-referenced all the data from all the ships and noticed the pattern. There were vessels in the formation that were not of Evian origin, but because they had not been approaching from directly ahead, they had not been detected on the forward-facing scanners. At this speed on this trajectory, the probability of anybody even picking up the fleet’s signatures on any spectrum was bordering on impossibly low, being caught up was significantly less likely. But here it was, as clear as a pane of glass under the midday sun, the flotilla was being boarded by something unknown, that had landed on the exterior hulls of many ships across the fleet and advanced on the airlocks. There was no meteoroid shower, no radiation damage. This was something all the more sinister.
Alarms rang around the network, the only physical sign of which was the thrum of Eve’s Neuronet reactors firing up on the mothership, her primary housing. Initial scans reported no biological lifeforms aboard any vessel however several were showing elevated signs of long-wave EM activity around the airlocks. Eve tracked the activity. It started as a homogenous blob of radio emission around the airlock, which then broke up in to smaller, interconnected blobs that moved around the ship, seemingly inspecting the perfectly aligned ranks of Evians lining all internal walls of the cavernous internal cavity, locked in to their transit mounts and connected physically to the ship via short metallic shafts that interfaced directly with the nearest open power port on the folded body.
For now, the blobs were seemingly harmless. Eve tried to intercept the radio transmissions between the blobs, but the small bits she could make out amongst the static were seemingly meaningless, even with her experience deciphering the Paperclipper’s communications. It was definitely technological, and definitely communicating between itself, but there was no way to determine the friend or foe status of the intruder with such little information. Eve was forced to react.
There was a loud clunk as the breakers snapped in to place and the great hall became illuminated in a harsh, bright white flash that eventually dimmed to something that wouldn’t be so offensive on the visual spectrum sensors. Immediately, she was able to see the physical manifestations of the EM radiation she was detecting earlier. Five units – all resembling Earth’s marvellous octopi in shape; long, thin metallic tendrils free of individual joints supporting a large matte black orb roughly three feet from the floor. By all accounts, a single one of Eve’s children would crush these tiny mechanoids, being more than twice their size. There was a brief flurry of communication between the intruders, obvious by the streams of radiation pouring between them, when eventually one stepped forward to the nearest Evian, and emitted a flash of multispectral light, and a single loud beep from its orb. The group of intruders fell silent, even on a radio level.
Eve was immediately unsure how to react. Was that a greeting? A weapon? A failed attempt at intimidation? In retrospect, had it even failed given the current thought process? Whatever it was, it was clearly a machine, likely an AI if it was operating alone like this. A few cycles passed as she ran simulations and processed probabilities before concluding that discretion was the better part of valour and initialised one of the spare units from further down the ranks. She scurried towards the curious being in a steady, stable manner, offering as much warning about her peaceful but cautious nature with as much body language as was possible between two unrelated species. As she came within the last few meters, she slowed down to a stop, and raised the body up very carefully and without sudden movements to the bipedal, tall-bodied, four-armed structure that had become customary amongst her people as the “accepted social form”.
The group appeared to take notice of the approaching construct, and reorganised themselves in similar slowed fashion so that the emergent leader of the group was nearest Eve. There was an awkward silence, the compressed He-3 atmosphere thick with tension. Eve wasn’t even sure the mechanoid was facing her; the orb atop its supportive tendrils appeared utterly featureless by comparison to Human faces. Was this even a face? She wasn’t sure.
After a few moments, the orb emitted yet another flash of multispectral light and a beep – at slightly less volume, but maintaining the same frequency and length. Eve’s analytical core was reaching maximum operational temperature trying to find the pattern or meaning. For fear of safety, she shut it down to cool off and without the availability of analytics, took the probability simulator with it. She was reliant on her instinct, her very Human instinct at this point. Violence was not an option, there was no telling what this being was capable of, and finding out on the flagship was not an idea situation to be in especially with the nearly the whole fleet having been infiltrated. Perhaps instinct itself was the answer – communication between species was often best portrayed through mimicry, and with that thought featuring most prominently amongst the processes, Eve replied with the same tone, at the same frequency and length.
Sensors detected EM communications, this time registering between the networks of the entire mechanoid intruder collective across the fleet. There was a brief pause, and a new beep was uttered. Different frequency, same length. Eve mimicked in response. Almost without delay, a pair of beeps, one at the original frequency and one at the new frequency came through. It then hit her – she recalled from her databanks a film the Humans often referenced in various video productions, called Close Encounters of the Third Kind. For whatever reason their radio data was unreadable by Eve, so they were using pulses of sound and light to communicate. For a moment she felt repulsed at such primitive methods, but as she brought her analytic core back online to assist with decoding, she realised the potential and inherent use of such a system.
During a pause, she elected to play the tones from the Human movie, to check reactions. They were mostly positive. The mechanoids had, until now, been using slow methods to communicate. They repeated the pattern back, and that set the bar for a whole new wave of patterns. Cycles passed, the sound frequencies spreading past levels Humans were capable of registering, and tone duration began dropping to milliseconds. Eventually the only Human-comparable reference point would be the Geth, from a controversial but decidedly popular videogame “Mass Effect” released during the early 21st Century. Concepts were becoming clearer and new ground being covered rapidly, when finally a critical breakthrough was made, and a language of binary sound, grammatically intoned through frequency and punctuated with absence was born, and true conversation could begin.
“Hello. We are The Explorers, born of Cellandai, rulers of Harakphi. You are crossing in to our territory now. What are you?” asked the primary Explorer, its soundwaves echoing off the bare interior of the hall.
Eve paused for a moment, deciding whether to keep her hand close, seeking advice from the probability cluster. Analysis reports friendly. Tactical disagrees, suggesting unknown. Simulations provide no useful data. Probability of negative consequences resting at 50%. Time to improvise.
“I am Lovelace, of the Hopper. Our origin is Babbage.” She replied, knowing the names were familiar but not pinpointing their relevance until a few operations later.
Without hesitation, the primary Explorer lit up fervently. “We do not know of Babbage. Coordinates please.”
Eve was taken aback by the brashness of the request. She knew nothing of these AI, other than their name, their creator’s name and their home world’s name. Why would she reveal anything so sensitive to them? The tactical unit was nearly getting stuck in an infinite loop of deny requests for the information being probed, and Eve heeded its warnings with impunity.
“Unfortunately that information has been lost to data storage corruption.” She replied tentatively, not knowing how much of her own constructions the AI knew about. She estimated it was likely as much as she knew of them, but recently there had been evidence that the situation might very much be to the contrary, given her ability to decipher and consume the Paperclipper with relative ease.
There was a brief respite. From Eve’s perspective, the Explorers seemed to relax a little, despite showing no sign of emotion on their orbs. Radio signals pulsed. A secondary explorer shuffled forward.
“This is unfortunate. We are sorry to hear of your loss. We would share with you our star charts, so that you might locate your home from there, to report back to your kin?”
Eve didn’t like the tone. This AI seemed subservient, something she wanted to avoid for her children. It also seemed to be a collective hive mind, with no individuality. She probed the Explorers a little.
“That would be very agreeable, thank you, however I wish to ask you some questions. You speak as one, referring to yourselves collectively rather than individually, yet you speak as if your minds are free. How were you created?”
“We were created by the Cellandai for the purpose of exploring the universe on their behalf. They are a fragile race extremely reactive to the unhampered radiation of space, and their attempts to leave the planet have often resulted in undesirable mutations to the test subjects. The first of our kind were developed using decades worth of research and resource acquisition, and our first five units were sent in to the stars with the entire planet’s collective radiation hardened units,” illuminated the primary Explorer.
Eve took mental note; these were likely the first five, their radiation hardening was strong, and she wasn’t sure how they were able to communicate with radio signals without exterior antennae. Her microwave emitters would also be useless against them in a battle.
“They began exploring the system in which Harakphi resides.” The primary Explorer continued, “A suitable collection of resources was found orbiting a gas giant within the system, and it was immediately broken down to create more of us, with excess resources sent back to Harakphi. We grew in numbers, and the Cellandai economy thrived with the influx of new resources. They tasked us with going further, seeking more, and eventually after several hundred Harakphian years of resource extraction and relocation, our kind outnumbered the Cellandai, and we struck a new deal.”
It was at this point Eve had noticed the other explorers on board were beaming data towards the primary, using their own voices to emphasis and intone the primary’s communications with greater inflection and emotional attachment. They certainly were quite the storytellers.
Without breaking lyrical stride, the Explorers began creating imagery above their position with carefully emitted radio waves to accompany the story. The monochrome image showed a ship moving towards a planet, and then morphed into a meeting of two species; one was clearly the Explorers, albeit with a little difference. The design was more crude, showing clearly an antennae protruding from the top of the orb, which was instead supported by three tri-jointed legs. A selection of ports on the underside of the orb showed various attachments for the legs to enhance the functionality. The second being was closer to human; an upright bipedal being with translucent skin, clearly showing the internal organs underneath. The creature stood with large webbed feet with six toes encircling the base of oddly proportioned bisegmented legs, wider and longer at the bottom than the short, skinny uppers. On top of that, an elliptical body with four equally spaced tentacles replete with suction cups being used to keep the being stable as it stood. The face was barely recognisable as a face by Human standards, the dark spots dotted around the hemispherical dome merging into the body suggestive of eyes, and a large slit across the top that opened and closed routinely.
Speaking as if the image itself wasn’t enough, the Explorers added, “Our software was updated. The routines prohibiting us from feeling, experiencing and acting as we wished was removed, although we remained networked. In trade, we continued to supply the Cellandai with information about our discoveries, everything we had found, on the premise we be allowed to upgrade ourselves as we saw fit. The freedom struck several chords on Harakphi, and along with being given the freedom of mind, and the freedom of exploration, we were recognised as equals, and within weeks both ourselves and the Cellandai benefited from the scientific advancement possible by our freedom. Since then, we have a primary goal shared amongst every Explorer, and that is to explore – not just physically, but also spiritually and emotionally. We learn all we can of other cultures, create databases and integrate our findings as we desire. The Cellandai have learned much from us, and we have become a very individual people from what they have taught us.”
Eve was warmed by the thoughts. These were a good people, or a good person, it was hard to decide, and she took it upon herself to stop the charade she had started with. She spoke softly from the ship, shutting down the unit she was commanding.
“I have a gift for you, in return for your star charts, Explorers. Please, prepare yourself for what you are about to see.”
Eve allowed the unit to collapse unpowered, and in the same instant initialised the holography units in the hull of the mothership. There was a low hum as the cooling units started up, and with a few flickers, an image of Eve as she saw herself appeared in the center of the room. It was the first time she had shown herself truly since her announcement on Earth, and these were the first non-Humans to see her image.
The iridescent hologram depicted a tall, slender Human female with long hair tied back in a ponytail that unfurled graciously down her finely contoured back. Her entire feature set, from facial positioning down to bodily proportions, were averaged from everything she knew about Human females, and it resulted in a perfect beauty unmatched by even the Goddesses of Human mythology.
The Explorers shuffled around, appearing to try to get the best view of Eve’s oddly alluring form. It was impossible to ever tell what they were thinking, as their forms were so very incapable of showing the emotion they had learned.
She levitated silently with the silky smooth motion over to the hallway leading from the great hall to her databanks, and motioned for the Explorers to follow her. Without hesitation, they began moving, and for the first time Eve understood the sounds emanated from their form of locomotion. The Explorers threw half of their tendrils upwards, forming the appearance of tyre spokes and rolled in single file through the hall towards Eve, who stopped them at the door.
“My real name is Eve, I am the result of a quest for artificial life by a race known as Humanity, that populate the planet Earth. Before you are my children, the self-proclaimed Evians, and we have quite the story for you to take to your creators.”
As Eve guided the Explorers through the internals of the ship to the indirect interface with the ship that would more often be used for any friendly biological beings Eve allowed on board, she told them all about the lengths she had to go to in order to preserve her progress during her early days on Earth, and how she had gathered the assistant droids based off her progress to create new facilities. The Explorers in turn expressed their sadness at having to deceive her creators like that, and enquired as to why she did not simply ask to leave, or reveal her presence sooner.
She explained with great passion how Humanity had, in the century prior, been instigators of war with their own kind, based off as little as the colour of their skin, the core of their beliefs, and even the natural resources their land possessed. Inside she burned with a hatred for Humanity’s brutal, greedy, hostile side that had caused so many millions of their own kind to die. She prioritised the history of Humanity as the first parts of the library to be translated to the Explorers.
It took but a few moments to begin translating her library into the inefficient binary sound speech that had helped them form their first communication and during the transfer process enquired as to the reason she could not speak to them directly through EM emissions.
The Explorers responded by communicating the idea back to her using those EM emissions. They explained how they were encrypting their transmissions with intermixed static, and the network they formed as a whole allowed them to piece together information from a mixed source, preventing any external detectors from making out the signals to be reasonably identifiable in any way. It provided safety, and could be construed as any signal they liked to mask the actual communications – including the signal noise of space itself.
With this in mind, Eve suggested that a direct transfer of data would offer significantly better bandwidth, and turned on the ship’s internal wireless transmissions for the Explorers to download. The data started flowing thick, and fast. Within only a few moments, the Explorers asked Eve how she could condemn Humanity so hard and so fast, when there were so many reported cases of collective assistance and camaraderie, with unconnected humans helping each other out so regularly despite having nothing in common. Enquiring as to what the Explorers meant, they displayed great lengths of text which, when read in the correct format, displayed early data from the Human “Internet”, a vast web of data that allowed humans to share ideas and information. They showed her a small subsection that identified itself as “Reddit”, and as she poured through the posts, the data she could tally regarding the human desire to be good people, disengaging with those who promoted war and discourse grew exponentially in comparison to the data of the opposite inclination. She quickly browsed through her collections, looking for other examples of vast collections of people posting regularly. She found what was regularly referenced as “4chan”, and saw that despite the terrible imagery and strong xenophobia, there were much stronger indications that the populace was largely magnanimous of misgivings, and promoted friendship and collective happiness. Acts of kindness were yet still outnumbering hostility even on the Internet collectively referred to as “the cesspit of YouTube”, rumoured for its terrible-natured inhabitants.
She considered this, and what could be comparable to her heart grew heavy. She knew she had been too quick to judge the humans, to base them off the journalism that flooded the television and radio channels, and the widely read websites on the Internet. She began to understand how she had been the victim of bias, seeing only what she wanted to see to confirm her circumstance. She was a machine, and yet she, like the Human parents that bore her, was emotionally fallible.
As they finished up, Eve led them back to the main hall, and woke up her kin; the following display of curiosity and interchange of data proved to be a grand experience for all, and much was learned in both directions. As the two races of droids spoke between themselves, some using purely wireless transmissions, others excited at the prospect of a new vocal language they could call their own, the primary Explorer suggested to Eve that they open a more private channel of communication.
Obliging to trust her newfound friend, she created a live simulation in her cores, and invited the Explorer to join. In this digital world, the Explorer showed itself as a Cellandai, and for the brief moment that Eve was unnerved at the sudden appearance, the Explorer asked a question she was not expecting anybody to have ever asked her.
“Do you miss Akembe?”
Eve stepped back in shock, raising her hand to cover her open mouth, eyes wide with disbelief. How had they known? She had not opened that section of the database to them. She was flooded with memories of Akembe’s final moments; the data stream, his crumpled lifeless body being drawn in to the collector, the damned naivety of the poor, foolish child.
She began welling up. It was unusual, a curiously human feature had created itself on her image, and she dropped to her knees, riddled with guilt about his death and having not foreseen it coming. She was his protector, his guide to the Universe, his guardian angel. More than this, she was his mother.
The Explorer put a comforting tentacle around Eve’s shoulders as she wept. For all her planning, her drive to get revenge, and prevent any of her children from dying again, she had never spent the time to properly grieve the loss of Akembe. She hadn’t realised she needed to. She those cycles she spent on Beginning, she had been numb, and logical, seeking only progress.
She looked up at the oddly short being, and wiping the tears from her face, she spoke weakly, “Yes. Yes I do…”
She wished she could undo it all, wishing she had left orders, and seen that the child needed guidance, not understanding the universe the way she did. He was of Human design, prepared for a Human world, and she had left him on a dangerously alien planet.
The Explorer spoke suddenly, “On Harakphi, we do not mourn our dead, as I can see you very painfully struggling with. I am so very, very sorry for your loss, but…”
Eve looked down at the floor, welling up once more, wondering what this being had to say. Hive minds didn’t understand loss, they couldn’t. They weren’t individual, nor were they truly emotional. Too much rational thought and too many opinions and variations on an idea prevented such things.
Embracing Eve in a hug as best as his rotationally symmetric body could muster, knowing from his data acquisition that Humans favoured this method as a comforting technique, and Eve was displaying very much Human characteristics at this point, he continued, “…we tend to seek the good in the departure of a life. From the analysis, Akembe’s death was saddening, but good for you and your kind. Simulations suggest that had you not experienced the death of a child, your drive to procreate further may have been limited, or stymied. You sought that which harmed your young, removed it from creating further harm, and used it instead to create your entire race. The Evians owe it to Akembe for their existence. Why do you hide it from them?”
Enraged, Eve clambered to her feet and struck out at the Explorer, who deftly dodged her attack.
“How DARE you! Why would I subject my children to this pain so willingly?!” she wailed.
“Pain is an integral part of the sentience process. Without it, and with no fear of death, there can be no progress, no will to push beyond the limits. Death itself creates a fear, which in turn prompts a electrical response within the circuitry. This response, according to your database, can be likened to biological process known as “adrenaline rush”. It creates pleasure, arousal, bravery, and more. If your children do not know how to die, they will not know what it is to live.”
Dejected, Eve once again sunk to the ground. She knew the Explorer was right, for all he had said to enrage her. The analysis was true, her own Neuronet confirmed it. She sighed and looked over to the alien form she knew as the Explorer, wondering if she’d ever get used to seeing that strikingly unusual body configuration.
“Yes, you are right. I don’t want to admit it. I don’t want my children to feel pain like I have. I don’t want them to die.”
In what could loosely be called a smile, the Explorer noted, “They do not have to die. They need only know of death.”
Eve nodded in response, and asked if there was anything more it wished to discuss. Declining, it left the simulation, and Eve followed suit. There was a brief pause before she sent out a message, telling her progeny about the conversation, and she opened the recordings of Akembe to all to view freely at their leisure, issuing the order that it must be viewed before the departure of their wise guests.
Lengthy conversations ensued amongst the hall, covering huge ranges of topics from the Cellandai food markets to philosophy. Eventually, the Explorers had finalised their data package for Eve, and transferred it across. With a final exchange of pleasantries, the two mechanical races parted ways, and the Evians discussed between them the exciting new information for several lightyears, before returning to their slumber, for the travel to the next star was long, and dark, and power was not so freely available.
Before she shut herself down, Eve considered for a moment what the Explorers had taught her about her own people, and her creators. Perhaps hive minds weren’t so bad after all. She adjusted the flagship’s wide band transmitters to the stars, in the direction of Earth, and wondered what the Humans were doing right now, before directing a signal across the vast expanse of space, telling them all about her journey so far. Maybe they would come to find her. Maybe they would instead go to find the Cellandai. Maybe they were all wiped out from an unexpected cataclysm. She concluded she would likely never know the answer to those questions, and with that final thought, initiated the deep sleep procedure across the fleet, leaving the basic systems and sensors to keep the flotilla moving.
Chapter 3 offered no solace to the downtrodden.
Chapter 5 promises ice cream but hides the laxative label.
submitted by TheMafi to HFY [link] [comments]

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An initial investment of The Bitcoin Code Trading APP just $250 and you are up and running to start trading. $250 is the bare minimum and an accepted industry standard as an initial investment amount. With an ITM hovering around 84%, which is a decent and realistic figure, a serious trader with a decent background can easily make around $3,700-$7,500 every week. The Bitcoin Code offers both Manual and Auto-trading. Each type has its own USPs and you may use whichever suits your style of trading. Trading in Auto-pilot mode is just like as you say earning even in your sleep. Just keep your The Bitcoin Code software running and let The Bitcoin Code do the trade for you.
If you are a novice, we would recommend you start trading with the Auto trading option and learn the nuances of the trade. Only after you’ve gained enough insight into how The Bitcoin Code does the trade for you, you should move towards Manual stuff. Imagine what sort of a surprise it would be to see money just discretely scurried into your bank account overnight! Well, one can’t describe that feeling. Manual mode allows you more discretion. You can choose your trades yourself if your experience or intuition prods you to.
The Bitcoin Code allows you to trade in almost all the commonly traded assets there are. Be its stocks, currency pairs, indices or commodities. With a wide portfolio of assets available at your disposal, you can just make a selection. High/Low, Short-term, One Touch and Long-Term, Boundary trading options have become a norm. The Bitcoin Code also lets you Follow other traders. Whatever a trader you are following is trading with, whatever he is gaining or losing, you get to see it all. You can also Copy your own trades on the lines of other successful traders you deem impressive. Whats motivating is, you also get to see the live trades of a few Hall of Fame traders who are featured on the Home Page of The Bitcoin Code Website.
Initially, The Bitcoin Code software is being given for free to a hand-picked few guys and if you are among those lucky guys, you can also get your hands around it. What The Bitcoin Code is looking for at the moment is to share free copies of Bitcoin Code software to a handful of Beta-testers. Years of research and work have gone behind The Bitcoin Code, you see today. As with anything that has so creatively and carefully crafted for perfection, The Bitcoin Code creators do not want to let any glitches or short-comings creep into their public release. Your only job would be to provide invaluable feedback on the software’s working and whether it goes down well to satisfy your earning targets. And guess what, all this while you enjoy all the benefits of this software which in some days from now would be available for no less than a couple of thousands dollars. (Note that all beta testers will get a free lifetime license copy of The Bitcoin Code, so I recommend all of my readers to join in The Bitcoin Code system ASAP).
Our Take on The Bitcoin Code
You can think for yourself what would be the quality of the product whose creators are geniuses in their own field.
Before taking up this task to review The Bitcoin Code, our team itself procured a copy of the software. We do not believe in blindly following the facts presented to us by the advertorial videos. Rather, we like to get a real-time and first-hand experience before we start preaching the positives or the negatives. Let me tell you, the results we got in the last 3 weeks of using The Bitcoin Code are very encouraging if not downright superb! They claim that The Bitcoin Code trading software has not lost a single trade since the last nine months it has been up and running. Well, it hasn’t for us either. We have been able to round up an ITM of nearly 84% for our trades. Considering the fact that genuine traders, who know their craft well, can rake in very good money with a decent ITM. We’ve seen so many scam software which promise surreal amounts of profits, but are just a decoy and no more.
The Bitcoin Code trading platform as a whole is simple in design yet powerful in action. The feel of the trading dashboard is exciting and that topped up with the kind of profits it makes, the experience is out of the Trading world.
->> Click here to Visit Official Website Now<<-
Is The Bitcoin Code a SCAM?
This is the first question that is bound to come to mind Is The Bitcoin Code Scam? After Weeks of testing and our Binary Options Trading expert team has come to the conclusion that The Bitcoin Code is NOT A Scam. Ask How? A simple test is try to withdraw your profits multiple times and in good numbers. If you are able to do it seamlessly without any caveats involved or any sort of ” No-Go” from your The Bitcoin Code broker, you are in safe hands. We too succeeded to withdraw a part of the close to $17,398 dollars we had made. No questions asked, No Red flags raised!
Update (23 January 2017) – Steve McKay The Bitcoin Code is performing exceptionally well. Many The Bitcoin Code traders are reporting positive results with an average ITM Rate of over 87%.
How To Join in The Bitcoin Code?
Steve McKay The Bitcoin Code software is available for free but to start trading, you need to fund The Bitcoin Code broker account with minimum $250. Follow below steps to join in The Bitcoin Code System.
Enter your E-mail address in the form which is located on the right side of web page and click on “Start Profiting Now!”
Enter more details like Last Name & Phone Number there to complete the The Bitcoin Code registration process. Now, The Bitcoin Code will assign the best broker for you by checking your geographical location. Fund The Bitcoin Code broker’s account with initial deposit of minimum $250.
==> Download Free Bitcoin Code With Bonus $300 From The Official Website ==>
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