All that is wrong with the world…

March 25, 2010

Facebook’s security check is anything but.

Filed under: Security, Tech — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 10:31 pm

When logging into Facebook from either a different location, a security check will come up with an alert asking you to identify yourself. I tend to travel around a lot, and so this is very annoying. I use Facebook quite infrequently, I can only imagine how annoying it would be for those that travel and use the site daily. What’s worse here is that a different location is not necessarily a different city or even country, but can just be a different computer. For example, if you login at an internet café 10 minutes from your house for whatever reason, the warning will come up. This also adds to Facebook’s poor history of privacy, as for this check to work they must be maintaining a record of all the locations you use Facebook from. Logfiles are one thing, but actively maintaining a record of your location history for commercial gain is something else.

The fact that an account is signing on from a different location is in no way an indication of malicious activity. I don’t really understand the moronic reasoning that could have thought this was a good idea. Perhaps if the account was active in two different locales within a reasonable time difference, but simply from a different location? As stupid as the security check may be in the first place, it is made worse in that it is not effective in any way. The only information it asks you to enter to authenticate yourself is your birthday. Information that most people on Facebook make publically available without a second thought. Even if they don’t, it’s not exactly the hardest info to find out. Why not ask for the user to reenter their password, which would help protect against many type of session stealing attacks, or to confirm the location they last logged in from. At least something that wasn’t entirely security theater because at present it accomplishes nothing and is just a frustration.

What about if the attacker doesn’t know your birthday, or you used a fake birthday to signup and don’t remember what it was? In this case Facebook will send out a security code to one of your registered email addresses. This also allows for a breach of privacy, in that all email addresses will be exposed here, regardless of if they are marked as private or not. If the attacker does not have access to one of these email accounts then this might work OK. However even this security check is flawed, as it never changes. I.E. Every time that you fail to correctly enter your birthday, the exact same security code will be emailed out! This only means you need one million attempts to successfully brute force this code. This would take several days, but for someone who doesn’t use their Facebook account that often it would allow for it to be cracked. I have not investigated too deeply, but Facebook does not seem to have any preventative measures against bruteforcing this security check.

I find it hard to believe the Facebook developers could be this stupid. It seems much more likely that this “Security Check” is actually a measure to make sure their location information for users is accurate, disguised as security theater. Then again, Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

March 12, 2010

Christopher Nolan’s superhero universe(s)

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:01 am

Recently it was announced that Christopher Nolan and David Goyer, the team behind Batman Begins and The Dark Knight will be in charge of overseeing the next Superman movie. When I first heard this, I thought it was great news. Instead of the loveletter–travesty that was Superman Returns we would get a proper Superman movie true to the comics setting up the DC universe series of films to counter the Marvel universe films that have just gotten off the ground.

Alas, this was not to be. In a recent interview Christopher Nolan shed some light on his plans for the next Superman movie. The most interesting point revealed was that there was no intention to have the Superman movie set in the same universe as his Batman movies. Wow. This seems like a missed opportunity to say the least. Marvel have only just started getting the rights back to their characters for the main purpose of being able to have all their characters in the same universe and in each other’s movies.

Much like in the comics that these movies derive them, the universe is not limited to one character but is complex with all of the characters influencing or affecting each other in some way. Instead, Nolan has stated he thinks it is a better idea to have the movies set in a universe where the respective superhero is the only superhero of that world as it assures the integrity of the story. This seems like such a huge mistake that I’m surprised, and very confused as to how he could have made it.

Many comics are known for having some of the most detailed and complex stories out there while maintaining integrity at every stage. Saying keeping the characters alone in their own universe helps assure the integrity of the story seems like a very poor excuse that is contradicted by the very medium the movies are derived from, and also disregards a lot of what makes comics comics. I’m sure the Superman movie will still be amazing, but if it is actually setup in a way that prevents any crossover with the other DC movies it will be a horribly missed opportunity. I actually wonder if DC would even allow that.

The other interesting point raised in the interview was regarding the third Batman movie in development. When asked where he thought the franchise was heading, Nolan said he was basically hoping to finish the story. This is a bit worrying, because I think it is likely that in Nolan’s mind he views Batman in a very specific way. Batman was created to give hope back to the people and inspire them, and now that that has been accomplished there is no reason for Batman to continue. I think it is a strong possibility that the third movie will be completing one final task so order is restored and Batman can cease to exist.

Sigh. This is simply the wrong approach to take, hands down. A Batman story over 3 movies where Batman can cease to exist in a few years is not a proper Batman story and does not do the character justice. Batman needs to exist because in a city as huge and fucked up as Gotham, law and order is not enough to keep the baddest parts of humanity in check. What’s more, it was because of Batman’s emergence that many sueprvillians arose. As such Batman has a certain responsibility to continue fighting. Everything that defines Batman as a character as well as the world he lives in would prevent him from hanging up the cowl just because the situation was mostly acceptable. On the other hand the Nolan Batman has not been shown to have all the same qualities as his comic book counterpart.

Ultimately I think Nolan’s decisions and views on where to take the Batman franchise and how superhero movies should be handled show a massive lack of foresight and lack of familiarity with comic books in general. I know he did his homework with relevant comics for both the Batman films so far but I think he has a poor grasp of what makes comics unique. Batman is such a complex character that there is no way to finish the characters story in just three films. Instead, by doing so, we have a story about Gotham where the Batman character plays a main part, but the story is not about him. This is just wrong.

I do hope that he does not deliberately do anything that prevents this movies from sharing the same universe (or the Green Lantern universe) even if he does not make it apparent or acknowledge it. I am very grateful for the universe Christopher Nolan has given us, finally a realistic superhero universe with an emphasis on story. Given his view of how superhero movies should be handled I don’t think he is the correct person to continue the franchises. I hope DC would realize how important it is to have a shared cohesive universe and prevent Nolan from doing anything that would jeopardize that.

March 11, 2010

Has Buffy Season 8 jumped the shark?

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 10:48 pm

When I started reading the Buffy Season 8 and Angel Season 6 comics I was happy that these shows were able to continue. Buffy and Angel had some of the best storylines and characters to ever grace television screens. In addition to great storylines and characters the show was also remarkably deep for what it was, allowing for detailed analysis’s for a long time to come.

Buffy started out with interesting storylines and good looking art that actually resembled the characters. Angel started out with a storyline that was much harder to accept, and art that in no way resembled the characters. Things have improved since then with both comics being entertaining after settling in to the new medium. One odd thing in the Angel comic was the reappearance of Kate as suave and confident demonic crime fighter. Strange, but OK.

For the last few months however Buffy seemed to be bringing back as many characters as they could, just because they could. Likewise, while I understand there are almost no constraints on the story due to the freedom of the medium they seem to be taking liberties with the story just because they can. This isn’t always a bad thing, but having the entire US military attacking the Scooby gang seems unrealistic in that it never would have happened on the show. This is true for Angel also, with the Angel story-arc having the whole of Los Angeles turned into Hell – literally.

The Angel and Buffy shows were always set in the same universe, and while the plots were self contained it was evident that big events were shared between them. If Angel had been renewed for a sixth season the fifth season finale would have been explained in a way that still allowed for the majority of people to remain unaware of the existence of the supernatural. With the storylines the comics have taken that becomes harder and harder to accept.

The most recent Angel arc was interesting in that an Angel was introduced. This is the first time Christian mythology was acknowledged which was interesting, but not unbelievable. The most recent Buffy comic however….oh boy. The villain Twilight, how has been the main antagonist almost since the start of the series was revealed to be none other than Angel all along. O….kay. The thing is, Angel has had his own comic with his own storylines for a while now.

Ignoring any obvious criticisms of making Angel the villain, how do you reconcile the fact that he has apparently been in two places at once for almost two years? It probably isn’t that rare that fans of one character are also going to be fans of the over, and read both. Is some huge, hard to swallow reveal and crossover planned? Angel did mention he had been in LA….maybe the time scale is different?

Perhaps the Angel comics have been set over a few months, and Buffy years? When Angel Season 6 started it was set a lot closer to when season 5 ended, while Buffy seemed quite a bit in the future, so it isn’t that much of a stress. But then again, why take this approach if many people read both comics?

Is this the moment where the Buffy comic has jumped the shark? It is too early to tell, and will depend a lot on what they do from this point forward to make everything make sense. I’ve enjoyed the comic thus far and I am hopeful that the storyline will be intelligent. I have very little faith, and expect ridiculous storylines that never would have been accepted if they were on the show. A good story is a good story regardless of the medium, not because it caters to it. Buffy Season 8 and Angel Season 6 have been stretched over almost two years. Maybe it’s time to have a season finale and move on to the next chapter of these characters lives.

March 9, 2010

The Genius of Nip/Tuck

Late on Wednesday night I watched the 100th episode and show finale of Nip/Tuck. As far as finales go it was very well done, wrapping up nicely and reminding us who the characters are and what they had been through while leaving us wondering what they will go through next. I started watching Nip/Tuck just as the show was finishing its fourth season, and I was taken with the show from the start.

On the surface, what seemed to be a generic cable drama using the premise of plastic surgery as a cheap gimmick turned out to be anything but. Nip/Tuck turned out to have some of the most interesting characters and situations out of any show in the last 10 years thanks to excellent writing with an intriguing storyline that spanned seven seasons.

One of the things I came to appreciate about Nip/Tick was it exposing the profession of plastic surgery in greater detail. I was aware that plastic surgeons did a lot of reconstructions from accidents or disabilities, but based on what I had been exposed to through the media had assumed the majority of work was vanity related. Many of Nip/Tuck’s episodes were taken from real life cases, with the medical cases on the show described by creator Ryan Murphy as being more than 90% based on fact.

There were so many cases with people having a genuine need or desire to look normal, cases that I never would have thought of nor expected would come under the umbrella of plastic surgery. There were also plane weird cases such as a white guy wanting to look Japanese to impress his girlfriend’s parents or a woman wanting to carry her dead lovers ashes with her in her fake breasts. Throughout all of these cases, even the mundane ones we got to know the patient and came to understand their desire to have surgery – justified or not.

One of the interesting and perhaps defining things about Nip/Tuck was the way the characters, and to a lesser extent people in general were portrayed. So often characters are shown to do something utterly appalling and yet understandable. Instances such as Matt allowing an innocent man to be executed if it meant his freedom, Christian marrying Liz just for his own comfort at her expense or Eden’s insane attempt to murder Julia.

The show excelled at showing some of the worst of what humans are capable of while still managing to convey how frail and pathetic we all can be. On most shows or even in most novels or films when people do the wrong thing, we generally are shown how this affects the people involved with a lead up to a resolution of some kind. On Nip/Tuck in the characters did appalling things on a recurring basis. All too often the victims were not even informed or aware, if they were it would be rare that they would get any restitution. Instead the focus was on the characters committing the acts and allowing us to see their struggle or lack thereof, motivation for committing the acts and any guilt or compassion they felt as a result.

I really appreciated that rather than the characters resolve their issues, for the most part they kept things to themselves. Everytime was see them on screen we are aware of what they have done previously and the baggage they carry with them which helps us to understand why they do what they do. As much as I would have liked to see confrontations based on some of their issues, I think I prefer that the characters have to live with their actions alone.

One of the other things that really stood out about Nip/Tuck was the relationship between the protagonists. Rarely have TV shows had such strongly developed lead characters as Christian Troy and Sean McNamara. Together they have a remarkable bond developed over decades. Their relationship seemed to be defined by a necessary dependence on each other, supplemented with deliberate deceit and betrayal. From watching these two men over seven years, as well as their past via flashbacks it appeared that while they have a mutual trust and respect for each other, they did not necessarily like each other all that much. These two became so intertwined so early on that they became unable to imagine life without each other, despite them never stopping to realize they don’t necessarily like each other.

The supporting characters were also strong characters with their own development and story arcs in their own right, and yet they still primarily served the development and growth of the main characters. As interesting and well done as it was to watch Julia mature and slowly desire to leave Christian and Sean or see Liz develop and explore her desire for a relationship, these developments were important primarily because of the affect they had on Christian and Sean.

Forcing Sean to cope with his family life being shaken up and dissolved or Christian to accept responsibility for his past actions, while emotionally devastating allowed for character development generally not seen on other shows. In particular the Season 4 finale saw Christian and Sean move to LA for a new start. The season4 finale was one of the most interesting, with Christian having to face all of the women he had been with and since that was a large part of what defined him, takeing a long look at himself in the process. It was one of the few times we were granted insight into Christians mind, from his perspective.

Then there was the tragic case of Matt who became increasingly pathetic as the show progressed served as a good example to question how destructive an influence those two man can have on other people, and to what extent they affected Matt’s development. Likewise Christians relationship with Kimber which started with her being just another one of Christian’s women and evolved to be something far more intricate. Obviously Christian cared about her somewhat, but he rarely demonstrated this – To what extent did he contribute to her destruction?

I always found Christian to be the more interesting character when contrasted with Sean’s good guy persona. Being the child as a result of rape and not knowing who your father was, your mother wanting nothing to do with you while being abused as a child…that allows for a character that most people could not even start to relate to. Even so, throughout the series we saw some of what Sean was capable of and got further insight into his persona as a result. Were the terrible things he did a result of circumstantial pressures and the fact that all people are capable of doing bad things sometimes, or was it a result of Christians corrupting influence? Or a combination?

After everything we have seen Christian do and go through it is still almost impossible to know for sure if he has changed or not. We as the viewer are privy to more than anyone else in his life and it is still impossible for sure with good argument able to be made for either side. I think Christian’s character would be an ideal example for the more general argument of whether people can change at all.

I think it was very sad that the show had to end as it could have gone on for quite a while longer, with many stories yet to be told. That would just be unrealistic however, and I’m glad that we were able to get the seven seasons that we did, as I can honestly say I don’t recall thinking an episode was ever bad. As for the finale, I think it was very well done for what it was.

The finale allowed us to see all the family together for one last time which was nice, while ending with Christian doing something truly generous for Sean. Christian’s actions at the end showed that he genuinely does care about Sean (or just feel guilty? Selfish to the last?) by allowing him to move on in his life and help people in a way fulfilling to him. We saw Christian being true to form picking up a woman at a bar, almost exactly the same as how the show started.

Even though the finale had Christian and Sean separate, these characters are so inevitably and hopelessly intertwined in each other lives that we know they are going to be united at some point with more drama to follow. Will Christian be unable to cope and follow after Sean? Will Sean realize he has been irreversibly corrupted by Christians influence and not find his work as fulfilling as he anticipated? What will become of Julia and Liz? Unfortunately while we most likely will never know, it was amazing to get to know and see the characters as much as we did. Besides, there’s always a TV movie to hope for.

March 4, 2010

Thoughts on The Box

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:48 am

I watched The Box today, Richard Kelly’s third film after Southland Tales and Donnie Darko. The Box is a reimagining of a short story by Richard Matheson(also the author of I Am Legend) which was also a Twilight Zone episode. The premise of the story is fairly simple – someone is given a box with a button on it. If they push it they get $1,000,000 at the cost of someone they don’t know dying. I was interested to see how this story would be expanded to movie length. The result was disappointing.

While the film did an excellent job of keeping me interested, towards the end things began to be implied that were preposterous and it was obvious that the questions the film raised were not going to be answered. Towards the end of the film it is implied aliens are administrating tests on humans, one of which is the box. The reason given for these tests is to see if Humans are capable of putting their species above their own selfish desires. There are so many problems with the way this is presented.

First of all, from what we see of the couple the box is presented to they strongly believe it to be a hoax of some sort. Cameron Diaz’s character presses the button in a moment on spontaneity after her husband examines it and is sure that there is no way for anyone to know if the button has been pressed or not. The situation is probably similar for most people who are presented with the offer due to its absurdity. How, then, is this test in any way accurate? Not to mention the sample size of the test is likely so insignificance as to render the results irrelevant. I also found it quite odd that “they” were willing to punish the husband who made did nothing wrong, and to punish the son for the sins of the parents. How does this aid their test?

Many things were hinted at, and many questions raised without being answered apparently all in vain. The entire subplot with the water doors or “triptychs” doesn’t seem to related to the premise in any way, and only hints at a larger story which is never fleshed out or shown how it relates back to the box. Likewise with the bizarre references to “The Light” and the zombie people who stalk James Marsden. There is also a subplot about Cameron Diaz’s disfigured foot and one of her students bullying her which seems their only to fill time. I also found it strange that they gave Cameron Diaz a disfigurement. Why? So they could draw a parralel with the man who made the offer? To give her motivation for her speech near the end? At least there was no eyes poked out, which were present in Jelly’s previous two films.

Ultimately this updating of a simple short story is a failure. While it may work somewhat as a movie and be entertaining, almost everything from the original story or Twilight Zone episode is lost. The examination of people and an interesting moral dilemma is reduced, with the box being considered a hoax the moral issue does not have to be considered seriously by the people it is offered to. Instead the moral dilemma is replaced with a conspiracy thriller and a quest for the truth behind the offer which turns out to be not at all interesting, and deeply flawed.

Also strange was the decision to involve NASA in the plot. Despite the implied alien presence in the film, NASA does not factor in at all nor does James Marsden use his resource their to try and obtain more information. I can only suppose NASA was included due to personal reasons with his father having worked at NASA. I’m not sure what to make of Richard Kelly’s films any longer. I have not seen his two shorts, thought Donnie Darko was amazing if not horrendously overrated and though Southland Tales made no sense whatsoever. His latest effort The Box seems to be a result of trying to hard. If the story was to be adapter to the screen, the focus should have remained on the moral issues and not turned it into a cheap excuse to make a science-fiction conspiracy thriller.

March 1, 2010

Windows Server 2008 R2 as a desktop OS

Filed under: Tech — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 2:43 pm

For the last six months or so I have been using Windows Server 2008 R2 as my primary desktop OS. I recently acquired a new laptop of my own after not having had one for a while and was interesting to see the developments made in the recently released R2. Back in the early 2000’s, I ran Windows 2000 for a long time because I appreciated its speed and elegant presentation, in contrast to the fisher-price monstrosity that was XP. Windows Server 2003 was then released which had an updated kernel to that which shipped with XP making it slightly faster. I also liked the fact that it was minimalistic with only the necessary services enabled by default and allowed for more configuration than XP did.

I believe the situation was similar with R1 and Vista, with R1 being released slightly after and having a slightly improved kernel, none of the problems that were attributed to vista and substantially less cruft. For Windows 7 and R2 however, this is no longer true. Windows 7 and R2 were developed in unison from the same codebase. As such there are no technical improvements in R2 over 7, rather it is all a matter of configuration or functionality. In theory 7 is a far far better desktop operating system as you can make it just as slim and minimalistic as a server OS, while retaining its optimizations for games and desktop applications. Windows has matured a lot in the last few years.

Also missing from R2 is support for ReadyBoost and SuperFetch. Unlike with R1, support is removed completely and it is impossible to patch it in. This does not really concern me, as my laptop tends to stay on pretty much permanently except when I am on the move. Additionally Firefox and Games would not benefit from SuperFetch or ReadyBoost, so nothing is really lost. For people who do get a benefit from those technologies it might be worthwhile to stay with 7, or checkout R1 if a server OS is still desired. Another feature I quite like on the server versions of Windows is the advanced firewall. While not terribly advanced, it allows for simple rules to be created which is more than the deny or allow approach on the consumer OS’s. While it would seem there would not be much advantage to running R2 over 7 in general, the fact that I wanted to become more familiar with the AD and Hyper-V enhancements sealed the deal.

The first thing I did was go to www.win2008r2workstation.com. I remember an equivalent website existing for Windows Server 2003 which was quite useful, and the updated guide for R1 and R2 equally so. Much of the stuff is obvious such as turning of the shutdown tracker or enabling themes, however it was still quite nice to have a checklist with instructions. I highly recommend the site and forum for anyone interested in trying out a server OS as a desktop OS. Unfortunately there are a few idiots around who make claims such as we need 8GHz computers today and technology has not improved from 10 years ago and 32bit software is considerably less stable on a 64bit CPU. However this is expected from someone who use a server OS just to be different, doesn’t understand what managed code means or what a system exception is and doesn’t seem to understand the the concept of graphics drivers . Wow. Sigh. Anyway.

After getting the system setup and usable, I had to install my applications and drivers and such. I noticed when I was typing a lot that the cursor would randomly reposition, and I was unsure why. I found out that I needed to install the software from Synaptics (manufacturers of touchpads) which disables the cursor while typing. Much much better. I then had to use the Mobility Modder software to install updated drivers for my Radeon 3650, which went absolutely smoothly. I needed a media player and chose smplayer. I have long been a fan of the mplayer software, and smplayer is the only free media player I found that won’t crash when a UAC screen comes up, supports all codecs natively and is extremely configurable. Highly recommended.

One of the first changes I then made was to configure automatic updates to only notify me every 24 hours. Most of the updates are rather pointless and I don’t need to restart unless it was a critical security fix. Unfortunately I can’t turn off notifications entirely, only delay them for 24 hours at a time. To do so open gpedit.msc as an administrator and go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update and configure the Re-prompt for Restart with Scheduled Installations option.

My laptop is fairly new and all hardware seems to have been supported natively. I don’t own any Bluetooth devices to test and have heard of problems with Bluetooth on R2, so all I can say is that Bluetooth is recognized on my system. The built in webcam was detected automatically and works fine with MSN and such. My Authentec AES1610 fingerprint sensor was detected, but I have been unable to get software to work with it. I tried the TrueSuite software which recognizes the devices, but never saves any of the fingerprints asking me to scan again to infinity. The device was also annoyingly disconnecting and reconnecting making an annoying sound, which I solved by disabling the “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” option.

All my other applications have worked without a hitch. Firefox, Notepad++, Adboe CS4 Master Collection, MS Office, Daemon Tools…everything works flawlessly. What about games? I play a lot of games, and they have all worked without a hitch on R2. I did have to set MSN to run in Vista compatibility mode to stop it from pinning itself to the tasbar, and go back to the system tray where it belongs. Many games I tried were from a few years ago, as well as the most recent games. Fallout 3, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Aliens Vs Predator(2010), Prototype, Max Payne 2, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Doom 3, Stalker, Soldier of Fortune 2…they all worked perfectly without any intervention needed. Bioshock has been working mostly without a hitch, however I had to install Games for Windows and set it to run in Vista compatibility mode. The only game I absolutely could not get to run at all was Project IGI 2, which ran fine on Vista. I am 99.9% sure however this would not work on Windows 7 either. There is a great list games and their known status of working with R2 here.

A few things annoy me which I am sure can be fixed, but I have not bothered to do so yet. I have not been able to get Aero Peek to work for a normal user account, only for the Administrator account. I am sure it is a policy setting somewhere, but as I wouldn’t use it anyway I don’t really care. I also found it annoying that I could not disable grouping..I much preferred windows to be in the order they were opened in. I might prefer to have a FireFox windows with new, then a word document then a firefox windows with pages relevant to that word document. Instead, all FirefFox windows will be grouped followed by all word windows etc. Annoying, but not overly so. Lastly the new start menu annoyed me…however I am used to it now and since the old startbar is gone for good, I should get used to it. Despite these few things I can honestly say R2 is a rock solid operating system and is highly recommended. I love the extra configurability available through group policy, the increased focus on security and the minimalistic approach.

Obviously the main drawback for running a server OS as a desktop OS is the price, with the cheapest edition of a server OS being close to $600. The extra features and functionality do not justify this price…but if you can get a copy through work, university or any other means then it may be worthwhile. If nothing else it presents an opportunity to learn some new skills which is rarely a bad thing.

Links to software

  1. http://www.hardwareheaven.com/modtool.php – Download site for ATIMobilityModder
  2. http://downloads.sourceforge.net/smplayer/smplayer-0.6.9-win32-webdl.exe – SMPlayer. I had to revert to an earlier version of the mplayer.exe to get the direct3d driver working for transparency, however I am unsure if that is still necessary.
  3. http://drivers.synaptics.com/Synaptics_v14_0_3_C_XP64_Vista64_Win7-64_Signed_default.exe – The Synaptics software and driver
  4. http://win7beta.authentec.com/w7wbf64.exe – The beta version of TrueSuite software for Windows 7

Update 1 – October 6th 2010
Some further tips for running R2 as a desktop OS.

The nagger thing for rebooting after installing updates can not be disabled. Contrary to what I wrote above, I can find no group policy setting or combination of setting to stop being nagged every 4 hours. Some updates are mundane and I don’t need to reboot over them, and the 4 hour thing can really get on your nerves. Enter WindowsUpdateSilencer, available at http://download.cnet.com/WindowsUpdateSilencer/3000-2084_4-10968085.html. This nifty little program runs in the system tray until you are ready to restart, no annoying bag screens. It is sad that I have to rely on third party functionality in this case.

Secondly, I found a nice hack to have the sleep and hibernate options available in the start menu.

To do this, download the Application Verifier tool from the Microsoft website at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?familyid=c4a25ab9-649d-4a1b-b4a7-c9d8b095df18&displaylang=en. Obviously, grab the 64bit version.

Now, add Explorer as an application, uncheck basics under tests, and then under Compatibility go to the properties for the HighVersionLie item. Set Product Type to 1, and voila, the sleep and hibernate options become easily accessible.

Update 2 – October 13th 2010
OK, So WindowsUpdateSilencer actually does not work. I’m not sure why it did, or maybe it was working but doesn’t work every time….I’m not sure. Either way, I have found the Postpone Restart tool, which actually does work. It basically clicks the postpone button for you. It is somewhat noticeable as the window will still popup briefly but it is nowhere near as much a distraction as having to keep manually postponing it.

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