The update is already installed on this system

The update is already installed on this system

I had an update on my system in a partially installed state. Our vulnerability scanner determined one file, MSO.dll, was still out of date. It recommended a patch to apply. Running it gave me an error message. Here’s what to do when Windows says the update is already installed on this system and refuses to let you do anything but click OK.

Because hey, from a security analyst’s point of view, this is anything but OK. I get questions about patches in a partially deployed state all the time, so I figured I’d write about it.

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Finding and blocking an abusive host from your Apache log

Finding and blocking an abusive host from your Apache log

My web site slowed to a crawl last night, my CPU usage soared to 100%, and my built-in security measures weren’t helping. I ended up having to do some old-school Linux sysadmin work to stop them.

I haven’t been an everyday sysadmin since 2009. But every once in a while I can still come off the bench and do this stuff.

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Reliable power supply brands

Reliable power supply brands

If you’ve built a few PCs, or repaired a few PCs, you have some idea how important the power supply is. If you buy any old tin box that fits, you can probably expect to run into some problems. Here’s some advice on buying power supplies, including reliable power supply brands.

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Watering hole attack prevention

Watering hole attack prevention

A watering hole attack is an indirect attack on a victim. Rather than directly attacking the victim’s network, the attacker attacks a web site that the victim’s employees are likely to visit. Then the attacker attacks the victim’s network, via its own workstations, from that web site. A former colleague asked me how you protect against watering hole attacks, and I thought this was a good exercise. So here are some strategies for watering hole attack prevention.

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Using Adsense with WordPress

I first started using Google Adsense sometime in 2003 or 2004. But using Adsense with WordPress isn’t completely straightforward. So here’s an easy, concise guide to using Adsense with WordPress, including within your content.

I’m not a full-time blogger. I’m a computer security analyst by day, and blog part time. I went to journalism school in the ’90s in hopes of landing a job that doesn’t exist anymore. Some of what I learned about printing magazines applies to modern blogging. Some of it is subtly different. I don’t need to make a ton of money blogging, but I don’t blog to lose money either. There are an awful lot of bad people with bad motives making a lot of money online off sketchy or downright dishonest content. I’m writing this so the good guys can learn what the bad guys know, and make a little money too.

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Why did IBM fail at PCs?

Why did IBM fail at PCs?

If you ask why did IBM fail, I assume you mean why did IBM ultimately fail in the personal computer market. IBM is still in business, after all. But its exit from the PC market after 24 years, including a period of dominance in the 1980s, does seem curious. And it raises another question: What does IBM do now?

I experienced IBM’s fall in this market firsthand. I sold computers at retail in 1994 and 1995. IBM’s computers at that time were no worse than anyone else’s, but I had an extremely difficult time selling them. Many consumers didn’t trust IBM and didn’t want to get somehow locked in. There was nothing wrong with those machines, but it sure was a lot easier to just sell them a Compaq.

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What happened to Digital Equipment Corporation?

What happened to Digital Equipment Corporation?

Digital Equipment Corporation was perhaps the second most important computer company in history, behind IBM. Its minicomputers challenged IBM, and, indeed, Unix first ran on a DEC PDP-7. DEC’s Alpha CPU was one of the few chips to make Intel nervous for its x86 line. It created the first really good Internet search engine. In a just and perfect world, DEC would still be dominating. Instead, it faded away in the 1990s. What happened to Digital Equipment Corporation, or DEC?

There’s a short answer and a long answer.

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IBM PS/2 vs PC

IBM PS/2 vs PC

The IBM PS/2 line was a fairly radical departure from the older IBM PC line. This was deliberate, as IBM wanted to disrupt the clone industry, which it saw as a threat to its business. Here’s a look back at the IBM PS/2 vs PC, the line it replaced.

IBM succeeded with the PC because it created an ecosystem, not just a PC. IBM’s misstep was creating an open architecture and then trying to close it back up after the fact with the PS/2. In IBM’s defense, it’s not clear whether they knew this at the time. If nothing else, in the case of the IBM PS/2 vs PC, IBM created a classic case study of open architecture vs closed.

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Compaq Deskpro 386

Compaq Deskpro 386

The Compaq Deskpro 386, announced in September 1986, was a landmark IBM PC compatible computer. The first fully 32-bit PC based on the Intel 386, its release took the leadership of the PC ecosystem away from IBM, and Compaq became the leader.

Compaq was no upstart by 1986. Its Compaq Portable was a runaway success earlier in the decade, and Compaq was a darling of the industry. The Deskpro 386 solidified Compaq’s position as an industry innovator.

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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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