Solving the Windows 0x13d error, aka the 317 error, and watch for the scams

Yesterday when performing a routine server inventory, I received a Windows 317 error, aka a Windows 0x13d error, when I tried to view some directories remotely from a batch file.

The exact text of the error message: The system cannot find message text for message number 0x13d in the message file for System.

If you’ve received a 0x13d error and you’re wondering what it means, it seems to be an unhealthy system’s way of saying “file not found.” In my case that’s what it appeared to be. If the lack of a human-readable error message bothers you, I found two possible culprits: One is system hardening–perhaps you’ve applied the recommendations from CIS, USGCB/NIST, or the DISA STIGs to the system–or the more likely culprit, services not running that need to be. Start with some very routine maintenance. Check the remote machine to make sure all the services that are set to start automatically are indeed running, and you might want to think about rebooting.

In case you need legitimate details, pay http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ms681382%28v=vs.85%29.aspx a visit.

When researching the error code, I found an interesting scam—tons of sketchy web sites, some that did a decent job of impersonating Microsoft, offer programs to fix the issue. Microsoft doesn’t offer downloadable fix-its for error messages like this because these are the kinds of problems that require some human intelligence to resolve.

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Don’t run unknown executables for a dollar. And PLEASE don’t for a penny!

I can’t bribe my preschooler with a penny anymore, but, sadly, a consortium of Carnegie Mellon University, NIST and Penn State University found that 22% of respondents through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk were willing to run a dodgy unknown executable in return for a penny. Fifty-eight percent would do it for 50 cents, and 64 percent would do it for a dollar.

I’ve been telling people for 17 years not to take executable files from strangers. I know the percentage of people who will bend down to pick up a penny off the ground when they see one is less than 22%, so this saddens me. Read more

Looking to hire IT talent? Write a good job description

I had lunch on Friday with the recruiter who placed me at my current gig. We talked about a lot of things, including our families, but we talked a lot about the tech labor market. It’s growing, finally, and going to grow a lot more in the next few years as Boeing relocates its IT operations to St. Louis, but the market still isn’t what I’d grown used to it being over the last seven years.

One problem he runs into is with clients. They’ll submit jobs that, for example, I’m a perfect match for, and he submits me, and we get no call. Then he follows up weeks or months later, and finds out something completely different. Read more

Firefox 19 is a big security improvement

Mozilla quietly released Firefox 19 this week. Its biggest selling point is a built-in PDF viewer (like Google Chrome does), which makes me more comfortable than having Acrobat Reader installed–Mozilla is generally faster at fixing security holes than Adobe. Besides that, the built-in reader is fast. No waiting for Acrobat to launch. Short documents like IRS form 1040 display very quickly, though it wasn’t so crazy about me throwing the 237-page NIST 800-53 (if you’d like some light reading) at it. I closed the tab and revisited it, and it loaded the second time.

So this is an update you want. You may be wise to wait a day or two for it to stabilize (Firefox 18 was rapidly updated to 18.0.1 and 18.0.2 after its release), but being able to ditch Acrobat Reader (or leave it installed but only use it when absolutely necessary) definitely is appealing. Update it this weekend, maybe.

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