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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Zune rings in the New Year with a big glitch

Microsoft's Zune, New Year's Eve don't play together - Los Angeles Times

I couldn't help but laugh when I read this - to the chagrin of about a million Zune users, their beloved music machines shut down and stopped functioning today, on New Year's Eve. Microsoft has attributed it to a firmware bug in the clock driver. The fix is pretty low-tech: wait a day and it should work again! Talk about competing with Apple - this really throws a wrench into the works for MS's PR campaign.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Windows Vista: The Real Story

It seems that everyone's mind has been solidly inundated with horror stories about Windows Vista and how bloated and slow it is and how horribly it runs on not-so-new computers. I have been using Vista now for quite some time, both on a low-end single-core desktop and a high-powered Core 2 laptop. Compared to XP, I am EXTREMELY satisfied with my Vista experience on both machines.


Vista: It ain't so bad...

The desktop in question is a true bargain-basement system, a lowest-of-the-low prebuilt Compaq. To be honest, it is slightly souped up, but the base specs would have had a hard time running even XP decently. I wasn't expecting much when I threw Vista onto this underpowered box, but I am quite pleased with the end results.

  • Compaq SR5110NX
  • AMD Athlon 64 @ 2.4GHz (single core Orleans chip)
  • ECS nForce4 430 motherboard
  • 1.5GB DDR2-667 RAM (up from the original 512MB)
  • ATI Radeon HD 2400 Pro/256MB DDR2 with VGA/DVI/HDMI (up from the original integrated GF6150SE)
  • nForce integrated Ethernet + Netgear WG311T wireless card
  • Seagate 7200.7 120GB SATA 3.0Gbps 7200 RPM HDD
  • no-name 16x Lightscribe DVD burner
  • Windows Vista Home Premium SP1
  • AMD/ATI TV Wonder 650 USB HDTV Tuner

A meager machine, no doubt, but guess what? This baby not only runs a stock install of Vista snappily enough, but can handle HDTV recording via Media Center any day. Average RAM consumption is about 450MB, well below the 1.5GB available. Thanks to the Radeon 2400 Aero runs fluidly.

So why the big disparity between perception and real-world performance? When Vista first came out back in January 2007, it had its share of issues. Computers were sold that were barely capable of running XP, let alone Vista; consumers hoping to invest in a cheap Vista computer were, unsurprisingly, disgusted. Intel took a lot of heat for selling substandard integrated graphics parts, which simply weren't up to snuff when running Vista's Aero interface. Vista did have demanding hardware requirements - the problem was that big-box computer manufacturers failed to prepare adequately for the Vista launch.

Now, the situation has improved, and virtually all consumer machines sold today are more than capable of running Vista - even on anemic integrated graphics parts. You will still find computers sold with only 1GB of RAM, but from firsthand experience I can say that Vista WILL run. Don't expect any miracles - budget computers are intended for easygoing tasks, so you get what you pay for.

Microsoft has also matured Vista with the release of Service Pack 1 (SP1) back in April 2008. Like any new OS, the RTM version of Vista was plagued with a slew of annoying bugs and glitches, which SP1 has helped to resolve. SP1 may also be responsible for improved system memory usage as well. In general, I find that a fully-updated Vista system is just as good as, if not better than, the same system running on XP SP3.

Maybe the critics were right in the beginning, but they sure as hell don't have a lot of credibility now. XP will remain around for the foreseeable future, but Vista is now a formidable contender in the Windows OS market. Now we wait and see what Windows 7 brings...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Windows 7 Benchmarked, completely owns Vista + XP

Windows 7 build 6956 vs. Windows XP SP3 | Hardware 2.0 |

This ZDNet blog article pits Windows 7 against Vista SP1 and XP SP3 in a series of tests - boot time, Cinebench R10, and Passmark. The results put Windows 7 in the clear lead, shaving off six seconds in the boot time test when compared to XP SP3. To be honest, I've had a great experience with Vista, contrary to all those complainers out there...I guess 7 should be even better, then.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

NVIDIA Ion = Atom + GF9400

AnandTech: NVIDIA's Ion Platform: Bringing High Def to Netbooks

AnandTech did an informative article on NVIDIA's new "Ion" chipset/platform,
which is an ambitious foray into the netbook market. Out with the old, crappy,
desktop-inspired 945G chipsets used in today's Atom netbooks. Instead, Ion
is a two-chip solution that combines an Atom processor with a smoking GeForce
9400M GPU (the same graphics chip found in current MacBooks). The Ion
treatment makes any Atom netbook capable of playing H. 264 HD video,
something previously unfeasible with an archaic, piece-of-junk GMA 950.
And remember that the GF9400 is currently the only GPU capable of
such exotic HTPC ticks as 8-channel LPCM output.

Most interesting, though, is the size and scalability of Ion. Check out
NVIDIA's cute little reference box:

Amazing, huh? It is (literally) small enough to put in your pocket. Not to mention that this imparts a whole new meaning on "Home-Theater-in-a-Box"!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

VLC 0.9.8a ThinApp Available

For all you portable-happy media hounds out there, a ThinApp package of VLC Media Player 0.9.8a is now available. VLC is a versatile program which can handle all of your audio/video needs and comes with integrated codecs for out-of-the-box plackback. The new 0.9 series comes with a spiffy new Qt4 GUI. Grab a copy here:


This baby weighs in at 26MB, but is a full install with DVD playback and multilingual files.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Blog name changed

It's always a good idea to give descriptive titles, and quite frankly, I haven't done that with this blog. The old name - "Whitehat2009's Pages" - was not descriptive at all other in relation to the content. I've settled on the new name of "Binary Inspirations". I know, seems cheesy at first, but it definitely reflects the tech-oriented material I've posted.

Note that this is only a cosmetic change - the URL remains the same for now, In the future, I may change the URL too, but that's still up in the air since I need to decide what to do with my RSS feed and StatCounter.

Monday, December 1, 2008

John The Ripper for Windows

John the Ripper, everyone's favorite password cracker, is a highly capable tool that (with the right patches) can handle just about any hash you throw its way. It seems that Windows binaries are scarce, so I've taken the liberty of sharing my Cygwin-compiled JtR with the uber-awesome jumbo patch:

And here's a john --test benchmark summary from a Core Duo T2300 1.66 GHz/1GB RAM/WinXP computer:

Benchmarking: Traditional DES [128/128 BS SSE2]... DONE
Many salts:    601864 c/s
Only one salt:    554734 c/s

Benchmarking: BSDI DES (x725) [128/128 BS SSE2]... DONE
Many salts:    21058 c/s
Only one salt:    20842 c/s

Benchmarking: FreeBSD MD5 [32/32]... DONE
Raw:    4196 c/s

Benchmarking: OpenBSD Blowfish (x32) [32/32]... DONE
Raw:    282 c/s

Benchmarking: Kerberos AFS DES [48/64 4K MMX]... DONE
Short:    224411 c/s
Long:    588613 c/s

Benchmarking: LM DES [128/128 BS SSE2]... DONE
Raw:    4526K c/s

Benchmarking: NT MD4 [128/128 SSE2 + 32/32]... DONE
Raw:    6734K c/s

Benchmarking: Mac OS X 10.4+ salted SHA-1 [32/32]... DONE
Many salts:    1446K c/s
Only one salt:    1215K c/s

Benchmarking: M$ Cache Hash [Generic 1x]... DONE
Many salts:    8473K c/s
Only one salt:    3243K c/s

Benchmarking: Apache MD5 [32/32]... DONE
Raw:    4196 c/s

Benchmarking: HMAC MD5 SSE2 [hmac-md5 SSE2]... DONE
Raw:    1675K c/s

Benchmarking: Post.Office MD5 [STD]... DONE
Many salts:    1588K c/s
Only one salt:    1516K c/s

Benchmarking: Raw MD5 [raw-md5]... DONE
Raw:    2461K c/s

Benchmarking: IPB2 MD5 [Invision Power Board 2.x salted MD5]... DONE
Many salts:    1367K c/s
Only one salt:    853888 c/s

Benchmarking: Raw SHA-1 SSE2 [raw-sha1 SSE2]... DONE
Raw:    2026K c/s

Benchmarking: Kerberos v5 TGT [krb5 3DES (des3-cbc-sha1)]... DONE
Raw:    18013 c/s

Benchmarking: Netscape LDAP SHA SSE2 [SHA-1]... DONE
Raw:    2204K c/s

Benchmarking: Netscape LDAP SSHA SSE2 [salted SHA-1]... DONE
Many salts:    2824K c/s
Only one salt:    2032K c/s

Benchmarking: OpenLDAP SSHA [salted SHA-1]... DONE
Many salts:    1443K c/s
Only one salt:    1356K c/s

Benchmarking: Eggdrop [blowfish]... DONE
Raw:    12299 c/s

Benchmarking: Oracle [oracle]... DONE
Raw:    418759 c/s

Benchmarking: MYSQL [mysql]... DONE
Raw:    992029 c/s

Benchmarking: MySQL 4.1 double-SHA-1 SSE2 [mysql-sha1 SSE2]... DONE
Raw:    1144K c/s

Benchmarking: Lotus5 [Lotus v5 Proprietary]... DONE
Raw:    130809 c/s

Benchmarking: More Secure Internet Password [RSA MD defined by BSAFE 1.x - Lotus v6]... DONE
Many salts:    86117 c/s
Only one salt:    51079 c/s

Benchmarking: LM C/R DES [netlm]... DONE
Many salts:    244081 c/s
Only one salt:    237663 c/s

Benchmarking: NTLMv1 C/R MD4 DES [netntlm]... DONE
Many salts:    335436 c/s
Only one salt:    320273 c/s

Benchmarking: LMv2 C/R MD4 HMAC-MD5 [netlmv2]... DONE
Many salts:    247772 c/s
Only one salt:    241829 c/s

Benchmarking: HalfLM C/R DES [nethalflm]... DONE
Many salts:    603322 c/s
Only one salt:    601247 c/s

Benchmarking: MS-SQL SSE2 [ms-sql SSE2]... DONE
Many salts:    3050K c/s
Only one salt:    2115K c/s

Benchmarking: MS-SQL05 SSE2 [ms-sql05 SSE2]... DONE
Many salts:    3045K c/s
Only one salt:    2036K c/s

Benchmarking: EPiServer SID Hashes [SHA-1]... DONE
Many salts:    1548K c/s
Only one salt:    1472K c/s

Benchmarking: PHPS MD5 [MD5(MD5($pass).$salt)]... DONE
Many salts:    2253K c/s
Only one salt:    1120K c/s

Benchmarking: MYSQL_fast [mysql-fast]... DONE
Raw:    10375K c/s

Benchmarking: PIX MD5 SSE2 [pix-md5 SSE2]... DONE
Raw:    4524K c/s

Benchmarking: SAP CODVN G (PASSCODE) [sapg]... DONE
Many salts:    487255 c/s
Only one salt:    459095 c/s

Benchmarking: SAP BCODE [sapb]... DONE
Many salts:    478364 c/s
Only one salt:    439469 c/s

Benchmarking: Netscreen MD5 [NS MD5]... DONE
Raw:    1639K c/s

Benchmarking: HTTP Digest access authentication [HDAA-MD5]... DONE
Many salts:    636657 c/s
Only one salt:    648469 c/s



iPhone Now Runs Linux

TG Daily - iPhone now boots Linux, soon to boot Android?

Stop the presses! It's the apocalypse!!! The iPhone Dev Team has created a basic port of the Linux 2.6 kernel to the iPhone. Right now, it seems to be just a measly command line, but needless to say, this paves the way for something much more significant. Google's Linux-based, open-source Android cell phone OS may soon be running on an iPhone near you. If this ever happened, things would get real interesting for sure - Apple's rep of creating a secure, locked-down platform would be completely destroyed.

More info can be found here: