September 6, 2005
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Hurricane Katrina

Normally, we would use this space for a Page Editor column or a commentary from one of our members. We recognize that tragedies occur all over the world every day; but Katrina has hit particularly close to home, so we've collected items and put them all here.

Disaster relief: Money Donations:; Give Blood:; Volunteer:; Donate Goods:; Housing:; Insurance information:

WesLennon, the Director of Community Support at EE, sent us a report from Houston on September 1:

We have two spare bedrooms, and contacted FEMA and the Red Cross on the 31st that we would take in a family of no less than five people, so my wife and I have taken in a family of four from New Orleans for as long as they need to stay, a husband and wife, a 6-year-old boy, and a 5-year-old girl.

Beth took the day off today, and is taking the girls shopping for clothes and groceries; I'll be taking Roderick and his son shopping for clothes later this afternoon.

Rod and the boy are still sleeping; the Red Cross dropped them off this morning at 6:00 a.m. from the SuperDome; they were still filthy with no bathing in almost a week. Good thing we have an oversized water heater as they all bathed and took showers in all the bathrooms. Rod is pretty much my size, so he has something to wear while shopping. My son will be here in less than an hour, he will baby sit the boy, Andre while we are out.

Rod is a pretty smart man; he had to swim under water to open his safe to get money, insurance papers and a zip disk with their home inventory on it so they will be reimbursed by their insurance for everything. I blew any of the moisture out of the disk with compressed air just now, and it worked long enough to transfer his data to my hard drive, whew...

Next week a State Farm Insurance agent will be here to cut them a check for their home and its contents, but we are not accepting any money from them whatsoever. AND he had flood insurance as well. The reality just hasn't really set in just yet.

At 7:00 a.m. I cooked everyone breakfast; we went through two dozen eggs to make omelets and scrambled eggs, toast, ham, pancakes, assorted fruits, juice and coffee. They plan on moving here so I will be taking him to my old company to get him a job; he is qualified for what the company does, and I know they are looking for someone with experience in a very well paid position (my old job has not been replaced since no one could do what I was doing). Since we too use State Farm for home and auto insurance, they said on the phone this morning we can add them as drivers on our cars free of charge.

It's really sad. All the people who have nowhere to go, so the least we could do is help out one family. We cannot really afford this and were going to put it all on credit cards and then pay them off, but FEMA informed us they would pickup the tab and will pay back our expenses. Our subivision has been collecting goods and three trucks have already left, and one refrigerated truck will go to New Orleans with perishables on dry ice. I wish we could do more to help.

gregoryyoung, the Page Editor for C#, lives in New Orleans. He was evacuated to Baton Rouge, and by Friday had been relocated to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. His reply, sent September 1 upon hearing of the donation credited to jkr:

Wow, this is great to hear. I wish the media would focus on stories like this instead of the negativity occurring in the city (looting).

Although we have made it out ok, there are a lot of people in desperate situations now. If anyone can assist them in any way (although this is more than I think 99.9% of people would do) please do.

Keep in mind it is not just the people who are still in New Orleans (in the SuperDome etc.) but also the people who evacuated early and are now being told it could be months before they can even survey the damage. I can say personally that if it were not for two sheriff's deputies in Meridian MS who located gasoline for us and escorted us through a road covered with downed trees to the gas we would be stuck!

I have to this day not been able to get accurate information about my area of New Orleans.

Editor's note: When Greg wrote to us saying he had made it to Ft. Lauderdale, he also mentioned, "We have made it to Fort Lauderdale, FL and will be staying here for the foreseeable future. I'd like to thank David (Kidego) for his assistance towards our future." Kidego is the Page Editor for Exchange.

We get a ton of newsletters and belong to several listservs, including one for online journalists. The following collection of links reflect, among other things, how technology is being used to get information to the rest of the world.

Thanks to shekerra for posting the link.
CNN's Safe List
If you're waiting to hear from someone, or if you're someone who needs to get the word out
interdictor's Live Journal
Includes links to video. Compelling stuff from a local.
New Orleans Times-Picayune
The local daily has a missing persons list.
Biloxi Sun-Herald
It wasn't just New Orleans that got hit
Hurricane Now
Includes a lot of video, including a report from inside his car, using his cell phone and laptop, connected to the Internet via wireless.
WWL - the local television station
For the first couple of days, they broadcast from LSU's studio. The website had 25 times its normal traffic on August 29.
Storm Digest
A compilation of news articles regarding the hurricane and its aftermath.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Photos of found children separated from their parents.
Tip from the Moderators: Keeping things professional

A couple of times every year, EE seems to go through a stretch (maybe it's the end of summer?) when people seem to lose the ability to keep their issues in proportion. That being the case, the Moderators have asked us to remind people that there are fairly strict rules about what you can post regarding other people at Experts Exchange.

The Mods will be using a guideline: if you wouldn't say it to your mother, your daughter, and your priest, please don't say it to another member. If it falls outside of those boundaries, the comment is subject to removal.

Group policies: an introduction

mkbean sent us an article he wrote introducing people to group policies. It's a little longer than what we can normally handle, but he did write up a nice introduction to the subject. The entire article can be seen on his website.

Microsoft now has over 1600 group policies that can be configured to manage your network. Yes, you read that correctly -- over 1600 policies! Thankfully you won't be using all of those policies but for the ones that you do, it would be nice to know how to backup and restore them. Microsoft's Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) is a tool that makes group policy management much easier and includes several somewhat hidden gems. Among those gems is the ability to finally be able to backup and restore our group policies.

The only way to restore a group policy without using GPMC would be to do a restore of your Active Directory. That can be extremely scary and time-intensive for any administrator. GPMC will backup all of your group policies into a directory of your choosing and then your favorite backup program will then backup that directory. Included in the backup operation is an XML file that is used as a manifest document. This document is read by GPMC during restores to see what policies are available to be restored. The great thing about this is the portability of your group policies. Now you can create and test group policies in a separate domain or forest and then back them up to a CD and restore them to your production environment. Without that portability option you would have to manually recreate the group policies.

One gotcha that you have to watch out for is that GPMC only backups and restores group policies objects. It does NOT back up or restore group policy links. So if a group policy is accidentally deleted so are all of the links. When you restore it you may have a problem finding out where those links were within Active Directory. Ah, but fear not, GPMC may not backup the links themselves but it DOES document where the group policy was linked when it was backed up. This is a huge time saver when restoring your group policies. Go ahead and take a look at the demo that shows you exactly how to backup and restore group policies using GPMC.

Memory dumps

We came across a question that was dealing with memory dumps, and noticed that the Expert, GinEric, said that he was putting together an article on the subject. This is the first of two parts. The entire article is on on his website if you can't wait.

Enough questions have been asked on to justify a single repository for outlining an approach to troubleshooting crashes, mostly by Windows systems, and Blue Screen Of Death [BSOD] occurrences.

This is an on-going document that will be updated from time to time. Below you will find the general approach and suggested steps to clear up reported Memory Corruption attributeable failures.

But first, a word about Virtual Memory. Virtual Memory is often given the Address C0000000, sometimes listed as Endian 0xC0000000. The definition of Virtual Memory has pretty much been lost in the annals of time and there is no where currently a single acceptible definition. This means that Virtual Memory in Windows can have an entirely different meaning on other systems.

Virtual Memory refers to a technique used by early mainframes in accessing disk pack drives using memory addresses that the software and hardware would recognize as being outside of either local cache or Memory Control Module (MCM) System Memory stored in Memory Modules immediately connected to the Central Processing Module (CPM) and Input/Output Module (IOM) buss, which was a combination of cables and driver cards that shared access to the actual memory modules via the Memory Control Module. The analogous architecture today is the DMA and the Memory Buss associated with it.

But these are not Virtual Memory. Virtual Memory for any computer system should be that extended Memory which is resident on peripheral memory storage devices such as hard disks, CD ROM, DVD ROM, tape, floppy drives, and so on. The concept was carried over into Microprocessor Architecture and the DMA is nothing more than the miniaturization of the Memory Control Module (MCM) whose tri-state buffers themselves are shrunken copies of the driver cards (which were about 15 inches square) and contained up to 144 IC chips, while the printed circuit lines of the motherboard are copied from the the cables that interconnected CPM, IOM, and MCM.

Global Memory and Virtual Global Memory are similar concepts, but never the same as Virtual Memory. All of these combined in a network environment constitute virtual networks composed of things like real networks and real machines as well as virtual networks and virtual machines called The Virtual Network Environment.

Returning to the troubleshooting technique: I guess I should explain that "IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL" means IRQ greater than 1; this determines only that it is not the system timer or the keyboard, NMI or non-maskable interrupts. But if the stack dump says the IRQL was "2," it means that it was re-entrant code via the PLC system (in other words, a redirected IRQ) and while not terribly important, it is the context of the failure which thereby eliminated the timer and keyboard.

For those who are more technically or engineering oriented, explaining what is meant by IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL and very specifically IRQL, which means Interrupt Request Queue Level, particularly the word Level, a highly technical engineering document will be available soon. Suffice it to say that there are at least three distinct meanings which all hinge on the primary meaning Lexicographical Level (LL).

To return to the Procedure: I did say it was a simple page fault, or, in terms of old Windows, a GPF. The technique for cleaning the corrupted areas on disk which occur over time not because of hardware, but because Windows autodefragging doesn't perform properly, are:

  1. Resize the page file, usually down to about 32 or 64 meg
  2. Run chkdsk, scandisk, and defrag with "fix all errors" set
  3. Change the page file again, usually, this is distributed on multiple disks and partitions
  4. Rerun chkdsk, scandisk, and defrag
  5. Now set the page file to one and one-half times the size of RAM for manual configuration
  6. Run chkdsk, scandisk, and defrag one last time

If the crash on memory error recurs, you have narrowed it down to either a bad disk or bad RAM, but have not eliminated the timing problem. If the crash doesn't recur, you have most likely solved the problem by exercising the disks which lose hysteresis over time, or, on a new disk that was not initially exercised enough.

This is preferable to guessing at faulty hardware, even if it is faulty hardware, because the act of touching things, such as RAM cards, can destroy them. So, you want to eliminate all other possibiities before doing so as you may actually cause a problem thereby.

Next: Why does a disk become corrupt, and why is this a problem in Windows.

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Page Two: More News and Notes
Nata's Corner: A special place for some people

woman in specticalsRegular readers of this column know that I like to celebrate whenever someone who writes viruses or sends out tons of spam gets busted. You also know that I really like what the people at Sophos do when it comes to reporting on all of the ills of computers.

I was looking at a different story on their site, and came across an article that talked about a spam outbreak that pretends to be news about the hurricane that hit New Orleans. What's worse, the spam attack sends users to a bogus website that tries to infect your computer with a virus. Sophos called it "sick"; my editor won't let me send out the words I would use to describe it.

The news that they caught the guys who wrote and spread the Zotob virus is good. What isn't good is the sentencing guidelines that will probably cause them to spend a couple of years in some minimum security prison if they're convicted. We'll probably never find out who it is that's writing the spam and viruses connected to the situation with Hurricane Katrina, but since the destruction is so profound, we can only hope that if they are, in fact, caught, that they're sentenced to rebuilding levees and cleaning up buildings for a long time.

Speaking of thugs and creeps, I came across an article that says that it's not the script kiddies who are writing these viruses, and releasing them "just to see if they can do it". The article says that there's a lot of money involved, and now these people are organizing themselves into gangs and aren't limiting themselves to just hacking a website. Sometimes, the article says, it might even be your competitors who have hired someone to do it.

Finally, there's a new player in the fight against spam. uses "reputation filters" to rate a domain, and users can click on an address to see if it is sending legitimate email or junk. What's really interesting is that the only region the site's global map of spam sources that is listed as "high" is the United States. Physician, heal thyself...

Inside the numbers
ameba, one of EE's prominent Experts, provides us with a list of newly earned Certificates. His list of all of the Certified Experts is located at his site. The list below covers the period from August 21 through September 4.
Expert Certified in Topic Area
eghtebas Olaf_Rabbachin egl1044 Computron jimhorn robberbaron acperkins kiddanger leew bigbillydotcom cjinsocal581 ellandrd jrram Debsyl99 gsgi graye Kenneniah nobus RedKelvin ginsonic mikeleebrla photograffiti RobWill orangehead911 StillUnAware Genius Master Wizard Master Master Master Wizard Guru Guru Master Master Master Master Wizard Master Master Wizard Guru Master Guru Guru Master Master Wizard Guru MS Access MS Access Visual Basic Visual Basic Visual Basic Visual Basic ASP ASP ASP ASP ASP JavaScript JavaScript Windows 2000 Windows 2000 Windows 2000 Windows XP Windows XP Windows XP Delphi Networking Networking Networking Java Java
Expert Certified in Topic Area
amit_g lem2802 brdrok nobus willcomp jake072 amit_g TDSnet NJComputerNetworks TechSoEasy DeltaFire kshays JBlond valicon OliWarner webtubbs AlexFM CrYpTiC_MauleR str_kani quad341 hemakumar lakshman_ce Iammontoya pinaldave trailblazzyr55 Wizard Master Master Guru Guru Master Master Master Wizard Wizard Master Master Master Master Guru Master Sage Guru Master Master Master Master Master Sage Wizard ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET Hardware Hardware VB.NET Programming Programming Win Server 2003 Win Server 2003 Win Server 2003 Win Server 2003 Win Server 2003 Win Server 2003 Web Development Excel C++ PHP PHP PHP MFC MFC Flash ColdFusion ColdFusion
Expert Certified in Topic Area
andw928 angelIII Arthur_Wood amit_g davorg nobus Esopo nobus Gertone Callandor Zyloch kbbcnet war1 grblades PeteLong prifre mikegagnon PCBONEZ owensleftfoot amit_g grblades jonvaughan rama_krishna580 sunnycoder gheist Master Wizard Wizard Master Guru Master Master Master Guru Genius Master Master Guru Guru Master Master Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Master Guru ColdFusion Databases Databases Databases Perl Operating Systems HTML Applications XML Desktops CSS Security Browser Issues Firewalls Firewalls DreamWeaver FoxPro Laptops/Notebooks Linux Net. Web Languages VoIP/Voice over IP SAP SAP Productivity Applications FreeBSD
1608 experts have 2601 certifications: Genius:61 Sage:115 Wizard:163 Guru:470 Master:1792
Number of questions answered

We processed questions asked in the first half of 2005. The table shows members with most questions answered, but we've removed the Moderators from the list, since most of their Answers are procedural.
Member Answers Points
leew Batalf objects jimhorn Sembee Callandor ldbkutty CEHJ mlmcc lrmoore rindi amit_g SystmProg SheharyaarSaahil nico5038 jkr acperkins archrajan byundt humeniuk capricorn1 ozo sajuks peter57r COBOLdinosaur bloodredsun Idle_Mind rafrancisco 1827 1565 1443 1418 1390 1257 1195 1137 1063 1050 1033 1026 1023 1006 911 855 841 820 802 796 783 782 769 757 746 739 737 726 1541383 1756899 1333470 1088775 1675403 960368 1376185 900719 834934 1246133 835807 1314825 1104251 1224050 1095379 957672 825361 938908 827185 675601 1108707 789166 601593 746452 615975 626903 707613 871627
Member Answers Points
AlexFM TheLearnedOne wesly_chen shanesuebsahakarn PeteLong stevenlewis jaime_olivares b1xml2 routinet nobus oBdA zzynx ScottPletcher fritz_the_blank raterus keneso pinaldave zorvek Billystyx mgh_mgharish aozarov Arthur_Wood TimYates ahoffmann ryancys gecko_au2003 Zvonko 713 711 709 708 708 698 657 637 635 627 627 620 602 596 594 582 575 564 557 554 544 540 523 513 508 505 494   724110 721768 727543 850685 613393 655766 558011 833393 624980 473469 827416 424015 609206 805921 717758 26977 255073 680292 609720 444688 488392 465380 401635 451041 397447 394868 536556
Member Answers Points
Axter LSMConsulting jrb1 dannywareham softplus mrichmon mikeleebrla GrandSchtroumpf matthewspatrick mvidas LeeTutor knightEknight snoyes_jw Fatal_Exception BriCrowe sirbounty blue_zee asyscokid Lobo cactus_data RonaldBiemans stevbe GwynforWeb Diablo84 Watzman kneH WileECoyote45305 493 490 490 489 479 460 457 451 451 450 448 443 440 438 437 434 430 428 428 427 427 423 422 420 419 419 416   394956 478673 438687 460873 342080 445204 385706 476595 474788 455671 397573 110099 362508 513141 476606 429590 391650 75742 224477 454870 471494 421201 456516 528582 303647 238098 63699  
Member Answers Points
pseudocyber JK2429 negatyve flyguybob samccarthy traval sunnycoder lherrou Hilaire rdivilbiss luv2smile Kevin3NF duz BlueDevilFan Erick37 phileoca Dave_Dietz Roonaan slightwv JesterToo schwertner MalicUK patrickab iboutchkine sramesh2k mysticaldan Netman66 414 410 405 402 390 388 385 384 382 380 379 379 372 371 361 357 357 351 347 341 341 338 336 332 331 328 328   333164 24656 583380 486312 314275 456856 325265 237485 412761 350826 354374 271705 527300 485544 401995 58787 433647 314855 266274 372218 300518 349730 163922 342039 315390 288185 372004  
Answerers: 8433 (5461 with 2 or more answered questions);  PAQs: 160294
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