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Basic Life-Financial Math

March 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Basic Life-Financial Math:

Income – Savings = Expenses

Where:

  • Income = f (Job Security, Career Advancement, Profits from Investments, Entrepreneurial Opportunities, Unnecessary Risk Mitigation or Avoidance, Good Health, Continuous Learning and Self-Development, Right Attitudes in Life, Networking)
  • Savings = f (Retirement Goals, Investment Goals, Emergency Funds Planning, Inheritance Planning, Proper Debt and Lifestyle Management)

Spend only whatever’s left from taking out what you want to save.  Also be sure that whatever you’re able to spend on are the luxuries you can afford to give up; in other words they are just your wants, not your needs.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Microsoft Security Essential’s Real Time Protection Getting Turned Off

March 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Problem Statement: The real time protection feature of Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) was observed to be getting turned off for no obvious reason.

How the issue happens:

Upon first boot up and login using an Administrator account, it works fine, and the real time protection is enabled and confirmed by the presence of a green icon for MSE. Using Fast User Switching, login happens to an account that is not an Administrator, and work is done in that account for a while. The MSE in this account is okay. When switched back to the Administrator account, it’s seen that the real time protection of MSE in this account is now turned off.

The issue was observed to happen only once every boot or reboot, and once that’s resolved, it doesn’t re-occur.

A question was posted in the Microsoft Community Forum to get the feedback of people who might have experienced this issue also. In checking the various forums posts I’ve seen a number of people having a similar issue but none that had any satisfying answer, at least not in this particular case.

A ticket was also submitted to Microsoft Customer Support. The solutions of the engineer were only partially followed.

Workarounds applied: The only thing that consistently resolved the issue for the short term was to log-off and re-login to the account affected with this issue. A previous attempt to run a Quick Scan somehow forced real time protection to be enabled again, but this solution was not consistently working.

What has been attempted to resolve the issue:

1. Tried turning on real time protection per the button to turn it on, but MSE just seems to hang, so the issue was only resolved by logging-off the account. When the Setting tab of MSE was checked, the option for real time protection was still checked despite MSE reporting that it’s turned off – this was confusing because the settings showed it’s checked but somehow not enabled.

2. Tried scanning the system using MSE; no viruses were found. Tried scanning using MalwareBytes (MBAM, on-demand version only, not the one with real-time protection); no viruses were found.

Notes:

• Per http://experts.windows.com/w/experts_wiki/89.aspx MBAM shouldn’t conflict with MSE.

• Prior to the time this issue was observed, there have not been MBAM and MSE conflicts encountered. It’s highly doubtful that there were conflicts between these two anti-virus scanners, especially since MBAM was not providing real time protection unlike (supposedly) MSE.

3. Tried scanning using the stand-alone root kit remover version of MBAM; no viruses found.

4. Tried scanning using Kaspersky’s TDSSKiller; no viruses found.

5. Tried restoring the system to a previous restore point, which was the last time this issue was not present, but the issue still came up.

6. Initially suspected that the issue was just isolated with the Administrator account which was running in the background (disconnected), however was able to observe this issue with the non-Administrator account.

7. Initially suspected that the daily scheduled Quick Scan had something to do with it, but was able to recreate the issue after a Quick Scan completed, so this theory was ruled-out.

8. Attempted to discover the cause of the issue using Process Monitor; this was run in the Administrator account while work was happening in the non-Administrator account. Unfortunately the log file collected was saved in CSV format and Excel could not open all the contents; it was able to open rows up to the point 15 minutes prior to the issue occurring, thus making the log useless for diagnostic purposes.

9. Successfully captured another Process monitor session which contained the issue, and this time was saved in the native format of the tool. Was successful this time in opening the log, unfortunately did not find anything outstanding that could explain why real time protection was getting turned off. In fact in the logs all indications showed that real time scanning was actually still working despite MSE reporting that it was turned off.

10. Microsoft Community forum post suggestion was to uninstall and reinstall MSE; with not much options left, decided to take this approach. Installer of MSE as well as an offline copy of the virus definition updates (KB971606) was downloaded. Machine was disconnected from the Internet. MSE was uninstalled, then reinstalled. Offline copy of the virus definition updates was installed. Machine was reconnected to the Internet, an update to the virus definitions was done again, and then a Quick Scan was performed; no viruses found.

11. Just for good measure, Windows Update was also run to check for the latest version of MSE and its virus definition files (it’s set it to check other updates to Microsoft products, not just the operating system), and everything was still up to date. A fresh and up to date install of MSE now active in the machine.

Resolution: Uninstalling and reinstalling MSE resolved the problem. This issue has not resurfaced.

Root Cause Analysis and Recommended Preventive Measures:

Root cause of the issue continues to be unknown since the Process Monitor logs didn’t capture any error that can be obviously linked to real time scanning getting turned off – but apparently still turned on somehow.

I was advised that a regular Full Scan is needed to prevent this from happening; the daily scheduled Quick Scan was supposedly not sufficient. As new or updated software is introduced in the machine, MSE is not able to scan this as per Quick Scan which just checks essential system files. Thus, MSE will eventually report that it’s not running efficiently. The supposed reason doesn’t make sense – either that or I just don’t understand it. In any case, doing a regular Full Scan is still good advice to implement.

The Power of Anonymity

March 7, 2014 3 comments

We all have a tendency to want to be “somebody.” It’s part of our human nature to want to be valued, and this is normal.

The thought crossed my mind that, ironically, there’s more power in being a “nobody.” A sense of anonymity gives you the freedom to do more things, especially when no one thinks you’re capable of doing something, because no one really knows you that well, compared to someone who is very visible and under scrutiny all the time. You can get away with many more things when no one knows you exist, when no one is looking for you because no one is suspecting you.

However let’s also not forget that ultimately there’s no such thing as freedom without consequences. Sooner or later we will need to give an accounting of what we did or failed to do in our life, if not in this world then in the next. The consequences of our action or inaction will come back to us eventually.

Strive to choose to do good always, whether anonymously or otherwise, so that what you reap later is something also good.

 

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Under-Appreciation is a Reality of Life

March 2, 2014 8 comments

I’m a manager of a team of system administrators.  Historically our work has been just web application setup and code migration.  Over the years the work has become more complex and hence more valuable, with the team now provisioning virtual environments and coordinating network configuration tasks, among others.  Even the technologies we handle have evolved, from physical servers running now-legacy operating systems to virtual machines running the latest and greatest out there in the cloud.

One thing that hasn’t changed, though, and this is something that once in a while we’re still reminded of, is that this can be a thankless job.  When things are doing well for an application’s release, the quiet work we did to help make that successful, from provisioning their environments to supporting it post-go-live, is not mentioned.  However when there’s a problem, somehow, right or wrong, the team gets a lot of the blame.  In other words, when there’s success we’re not credited, however when there’s a problem we’re blamed.

Success has therefore been defined as a release where no one complained about what we did, even if that also meant not getting any recognition for it.  It’s not the ideal, but we’ve since learned to take what we can get.

I can imagine that it’s not just my team that gets this treatment.  There are other support teams in the company like mine that are in “thankless” situations too.  Our DBA team is another such example.  Outside of technical work I think a good example would be our HR who lately ends up getting shot as the messenger of bad news, among other things.

Under-appreciation is a reality of life.  This is very obvious and real for my team and other teams that provide some kind of support work.  In the face of such under-appreciation, you have to take things in stride.  The reality is that you’ll never be able to please everybody no matter what you do, so the sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you can get over any feelings of neglect and move on.  There are some jobs that are not meant for everybody; the really thankless jobs are those meant for the strong who can handle it. 

Ultimately what’s more important is that you do something because you love doing it and it gives you a sense of fulfillment.  The under-appreciation of people in what you do is therefore irrelevant.  It’s just a nice bonus if they do so, but if you really love what you’re doing, it won’t even matter.

Fortunately for my team we eventually got the recognition that was long overdue.  I’m really happy for us because we finally got the recognition we deserve; our award is rightly shared with several generations of team members that have come and gone over the years who have helped build the reputation of the team and contributed to its success.  We wouldn’t be where we are now without the long history of unwavering great work which was its own reward as far as we were concerned.

Of course this recognition also means one thing: The reward for good work is more work – and more work it is!  When you’ve developed a reputation for making success happen then more work comes your way.  The good thing is its work that we enjoy doing anyway (at least for the most part), so things are looking up for us.

Don’t let under-appreciation demoralize you.  Whether it is work or something else you need to do that’s important, love what you do and do it as best as you can.  (Though don’t forget that you are more than just your work, of course.)  Eventually people will realize the effort you put into it and appreciate you for it – and it’s those people who appreciate you who will ultimately matter in your life. 

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy