Windows registry explained simply

Windows registry explained simply

I can’t say I’ve ever seen the Windows registry explained well. It helps to think of the registry as a database. Microsoft loves databases, and they’ve been trying for decades to stuff as much database technology into Windows as they can. The registry was one of the earliest and most successful of those efforts.

Although it was controversial in the 1990s, the registry solved a very real problem. Windows 3.1 and earlier stored all of its settings in huge plaintext files called ini files. They were a tangled mess, and the more you used your computer, the slower it became. The registry made it a lot faster for the computer to find each setting it needed.

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Resources for learning SQL

Whether you’re a sysadmin, an analyst, or use a computer for something else professionally–even if you’re not a database administrator or developer–SQL is a useful skill to know. I’ve gotten by for 20 years without knowing much more SQL other than simple SELECT statements, but those days are rapidly winding down–if I want to be good at my current job, I’m going to have to take some time to learn SQL. If you’re in the same boat, here are some resources for learning SQL.

Here are two resources:

SQL is the underlying language behind Oracle, Microsoft SQL, MySQL, PostgresSQL, and probably a few other databases I’m forgetting. If you’re doing something beyond Microsoft Access, it’s probably using some kind of SQL. Each implementation has its own quirks but the basics remain the same between all of them.

New password advice from GCHQ

New password advice from GCHQ

The GCHQ is the British equivalent of the NSA. They recently published a new document containing the GCHQ’s new password advice in light of the things we’ve learned in the last few years. It’s worthwhile reading, whether you’re a sysadmin or a web developer or just an end user who wants to stay secure online.

Some of the advice may be surprising.

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Worried about the wrong things? It’s always the wrong thing.

Guy Wright’s piece titled Internet Security: We were worried about the wrong things is a bit old but it’s an important point. Security is a moving target. It’s always a moving target.

I disagree, however, with the assertion that SSL (and its successor, TLS) were a waste of time.

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Those marketers targetted the wrong guy

So, I’ve been seeing one particular ad incessantly lately. It’s a fairly generic-looking ad, with the words “Jesus Christ is Lord” in bold letters across the top. Scroll down a little further, and there’s a very heavily tanned woman, under a thick layer of makeup wearing a skimpy halter top. She’s probably in her early 20s. It’s an ad for a certain Christian-themed dating web site I won’t mention by name.

It seems to be targeted advertising. Fine, my religion is no great secret. Most public databases that I’ve queried about myself identify me as a Protestant, and some even peg me as Lutheran too. But there’s this one other little detail that’s even easier to find out than what religion I practice.

I happen to be married. Read more

It’s the end of SSDs as we know it, and I feel fine

Flash memory’s days may be numbered. The end of the line for traditional flash memory has been predicted for a long time, and gloated about by Luddites who are dead-set against buying SSDs for whatever reason. But I’m not worried about it. All I want is solid-state storage; I don’t care about the underlying technology. The technology behind the RAM my computer uses has changed several times since the early 1980s, and I’m not broken up about it–the SSD in the last computer I built is faster than the RAM in my Commodore 64 was. Speed is good. More speed is better.

So I’m glad to hear about a potential breakthrough in RRAM. Read more

Four simple steps to optimize WordPress

A couple of years ago, I stood up a WordPress server. I made no effort to tune it, let alone turbocharge it, which is a decision I later came to regret. If your site gets more than a few hundred hits per day, you need to tune it. If you want to get more than a few hundred hits per day, you need to tune it because Apache and MySQL’s default settings are by no means one-size-fits-all. And you can never have too much speed. There are two reasons for that: Google favors fast sites over slow sites, and Amazon found that a one-second delay in page load drops traffic by 7 percent.

There’s a lot of advice out there on tuning WordPress, some of which seems to be good, and some of it not so good.

Here are four things that I know work. I run Apache and MySQL under Linux; these tools may run under Windows or OS X too.
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Long passwords aren’t necessarily good passwords

Well, crud. Not all long passwords are good passwords.

I’ve suspected for a long time that street addresses aren’t good to use–the formula is too simple–but now it seems that even mashing together a sentence into a long password doesn’t work. (That isn’t something I do often, but I’ve done it at least once or twice.) Read more

And speaking of SSDs, here’s how Oracle performs on an SSD

Andy Black is a former colleague and an Oracle DBA. Several times in the last few years, I ran into problems where I wished he wasn’t a former colleague, because my team got into some jams that I was pretty sure he could have fixed. (And let’s not even mention the time I got blackmailed into building an Oracle server.)

Last year, Andy did a thorough investigation of Oracle performance on SSDs, and observed very favorable results. Read more

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