Check for Spectre and Meltdown CPU flaws using Windows Powershell

Microsoft have provided a Powershell tool for checking and reporting on an individual Windows computer.

Press the Windows key on your keyboard and type PowerShell – when you see the shortcut appear in the search results, right click on it and choose Run as Administrator.

Quick Instructions

To install the module type

You might get prompted to install the NuGet provider. Type Y and press enter. If you’re asked about installing from an untrusted repository do the same thing again.

Once the module installs type

If you see messages about execution error you can type

References

Microsoft have released an article explaining the output of the tool.

Two Compartments

Part 3

This is part 3 of a series. If you want, you can read from the beginning.

The information in this section has been inspired by Dr. Jason Fung. If I may, I will borrow his analogy of various kitchen appliances to explain how energy is stored in the body.

If you’ve been living on this planet for some time you’ve probably heard about the “calories in and calories out” concept. This school of thought says that your body requires a certain amount of calories per day to operate, and that losing weight is a straightforward maths problem where you simply need to put less calories into your body than you need, to lose weight. If you manage to eat less calories, or exercise, calories then you should lose weight.

The problem with this concept, or idea, is that the body just doesn’t actually work that way.

How many times have you gone on a diet and counted calories, and probably exercised diligently, only to see the weight fall away, only to eventually come back again? Almost nobody ever manages to lose weight and keep it off by restricting calories this way.

Why then do we keep hearing the same tired old advice over and over again, when it clearly doesn’t actually work in the real world?

Your body is not just a single compartment where energy flows in, fills up, and then empties out over time.

So why is the one compartment idea wrong, and why can’t most of us really lose weight by counting calories?

Well, your body is a very advanced machine, and it knows how to use three different types of energy sources. The main two sources of energy are glucose, and fat. The third type is protein and can be thought of as emergency energy for extreme situations.

If you have a lot of fat then your body will barely ever mess with your protein stores and will instead preferably operate on glucose and fat. We’ll talk more about protein in a later section, so we’ll focus more on glucose and fat for now.

The way your body stores energy really is more like two compartments. When you eat carbohydrates (sugar, bread, rice, pasta, potatoes etc.) this is very quickly converted to glycogen and stored in the liver. The liver can only store a limited amount of glycogen and fills up quickly. It’s kind of like your refrigerator at home where you store relatively small amount of things in it for short amounts of time.

If you go shopping and bring home an extra large amount of groceries then you’d fill up your fridge, and after that you’d probably have to store some of the groceries in your freezer. The same thing happens with glucose that you consume – the liver gets filled up and then the excess energy is stored as fat. Any fat that you eat also goes straight to your fat stores.

Your fat stores are your long term storage for energy, and a practically unlimited amount of fat can be stored on your body. If you’re like me, then you probably have a lot stored up.

The interesting part, is that when you consume energy you use up your glycogen first. This is a built in behaviour and is the same for everyone. Your glycogen gets used up first, and then you go to your fat stores (the “deep freeze”) to tap into your emergency energy. If we didn’t have fat stores then we’d die very quickly once we ran out of glycogen, so it’s a good thing we have them.

If you want to lose fat, then the only way to do that is to use up all the energy you have stored as glycogen first. However, if you keep topping up with new glucose all day long by eating meals and snacking then you’ll never be able to access the fat stores.

“But, wait!” I hear you thinking, “If we just put less food into the fridge won’t it eventually just empty out and we can access all the stuff in the freezer?”

This is a great point, and is really a very important point, and it’s the main reason that “calories in and calories out” is pretty much just nonsense.

For most people, as you empty out the fridge and use up all the stored glycogen, your body senses this and starts conserving energy by making you feel hungry. You’ll probably also not feel like moving very much and will want to sit down and watch tv, or have a sleep. If you keep going with not re-stocking the fridge them your body will reduce your metabolic rate.

Oh no! Are we doomed then? No, we’re not. Fortunately our body does have a built in mechanism for deciding whether or not our fat stores can be accessed once the glycogen is all used up. This mechanism is the hormone insulin and we’ll talk about that next.

 

 

Calories In and Calories Out

Part 2

This is part 2 of a series. If you want, you can read from the beginning.

If you’re like me, and you’ve tried to lose weight before you didn’t have to look for to find a diet that laid down the simple rules of weight loss. You’ve probably also seen and heard people tell you that weight loss is really simple, and that it boils down to one simple concept:

“You just have to eat less, and exercise more.”

Going from the conventional wisdom you as an individual require a certain amount of energy (calories) to operate your body, and if you put less energy in, or use some of the energy up by doing exercise that you’ll lose weight.

I feel that this is one of those statements that is so oversimplified that it is actually absurd.

Of course, we know that this doesn’t really work. You don’t need me to tell you that it doesn’t work, because you’ve probably already tried it, and it didn’t work. Millions of people have tried it, and overall it doesn’t work. Almost nobody in the entire world can lose weight by eating less food and exercising more alone, so why do we keep insisting that the solution is simple, or that anyone can do it?

Furthermore, why do we keep blaming overweight people for their situation? Obesity is a medical problem that needs solving, and we are not helping matters by trivialising the solution, or telling people that they’re just not trying hard enough. How insulting is it for a thin person to tell an overweight person that losing weight is easy, when they’ve probably never struggled with it, ever?

So, let’s be clear, it’s not your fault. Let’s get that straight. If you are overweight then you are suffering from a medical condition that has not been very well understood, the cause of which has been relatively obscured for various reasons, and that most medical professionals seem ill-equipped to deal with.

The key to dealing with your problem is understanding how energy enters the body, where and how it is stored, and how it is used. Once you understand this you’ll soon see why counting calories doesn’t actually work.

Up next is Part 3 – Two Compartments

Taking Control of Weight Loss

Part 1

Hello, and thanks for reading. I have put this guide together over a period of many months, and I’m making it free to access on my blog for anyone to read and share. You are more than welcome to share this information with friends and family.

The guide is currently a work in progress with something like 30 parts already planned, and probably many more to come. As new information and insights become available I’ll be updating the relevant sections.

First of all I need to be clear that I am not a doctor, and I am not trained in nutrition in any way. The information that I’m sharing here has been thoroughly researched, and I believe it to be true. I am building on the information and teachings of others, the many hundreds of studies that have been conducted that provide insight into how our body functions (or does not function).

Where possible I have linked to other sources of information and given credit to my sources. If you read a section and think, “Hey that sounds like something that ____ wrote, or podcasted or whatever,” then please let me know so I can properly credit the source.

This guide is specifically for people that are very overweight and are suitably motivated to do something about it. If you are looking to lose relatively small amounts of weight, or are already within healthy weight ranges then this guide is not specifically for you – although some sections may prove useful.

I have also tried to use a very straight-forward language that everyone can understand, and hopefully even people that don’t have a mastery of English can make use of it. If it’s helpful, please think of this guide as a conversation between you and me, where I’m explaining a few things I’ve learnt.

You should be reading this guide on my blog at lawrie.org – if you are not, then quite possibly you don’t have the full and latest version

When you’re ready, continue on to Part 2 – Calories In and Calories Out

Exporting Microsoft Exchange Mailboxes

Often, you’ll want to export a user mailbox from Exchange and store it as a .PST file. In my organisation I do that when people leave the company. We don’t want to keep the mailbox active but it’s handy to have the old mailbox in case we ever need to go dumpster diving to find something from the past.

The easiest way it to use PowerShell to export the mailbox to a UNC file share (local drives don’t seem to be supported).

Click your Start button and type Exchange – select and run the Exchange Management Shell.

When the shell finally loads enter a command similar to this, substituting your own mailbox name and export path and filename.

Some output will show that the requests is queued. It might take a few minutes to start. You can also make multiple requests and Exchange will export them whenever it feels like it.

You can check the status of the export(s) like this:

A table will be displayed along with the current Status. Once the export shows as complete it’s probably okay to delete the mailbox from Exchange – but that decision is yours to make 🙂

 

 

Windows 10 Creators Update and Controlling Delivery Optimization (or how to turn off the Peer-to-Peer Updating)

The first versions of Windows 10 introduced the ability to share and download updates from other computers on your network, or computers from the Internet. Importantly, it will probably also use your computer to upload those same updated to computers elsewhere in the world.

Sharing is great. I taught my kids to share with their friends and family. But I draw the line at sharing my previous (limited) upload bandwidth with random people on the Internet when Microsoft should be more than capable of providing the services for this themselves.

During installs of Windows 10 up until the Anniversary Update I noticed that this option could be disabled during installation. So they give you an up front way to opt out, albeit it’s still a bit cheeky considering many people won’t understand the setting and will leave it on anyway – no doubt something Microsoft are well aware of.

When recently updating a machine to Creators Update I noticed that this option (along with many others) are absent when the machine starts up. I do need to investigate further to see if the setting is changed or inherited from the previous version.

Nonetheless, if you have a Windows 10 machine there’s a reasonable chance that you’re sharing your upload bandwidth with the Internet.

To check your settings and possible change the settings, click the Windows icon in the bottom left, type Windows Update and run the applet. Once it’s open click on Advanced options.

On the Advanced options screen click on Choose how updates are delivered.

On the Choose how updates are delivered screen you can change the behavior of Windows 10. If you only have one computer or only want updates to come direct from Microsoft you can turn the feature off. If you have more than one computer on your local network I believe it’s reasonably safe and appropriate to change your settings as per below, and choose PCs on my local network.

If you have a business network with a Windows server then your IT guys should have configured a local update server which will take priority anyway. The IT team can also configure these options via Group Policy – but again, use WSUS if you can.

Advanced users can also make the change directly into the registry thus:

 

Major possible values for DODownloadMode are:

0 = Off
1 = On, PCs on my local network
3 = On, PCs on my local network, and PCs on the Internet

 

The Gracemere Hotel – At Least It’s Close By

It was my wife’s birthday today and I managed to talk her into going out to dinner with myself and the kids. Fresh back from a weekend away we were kind of all restaurant’ed out so we figured the Gracemere Hotel was a good choice due to being close by. We tend to go there a few times a year, irregularly enough that the menu always changes in between visits.

This time around they pulled out all the stops and even changed the carpet and interior furnishings for us.

Our previous visits have been a bit of hit and miss. I’m a fan of pub food but my recollection last time was of a fairly lackluster offering at restaurant prices – an expensive “seafood topper” that consisted of about 2 prawns and a teaspoon of sauce for $12 or so.

Upon arriving I was surprised that we couldn’t find a park directly out the front. Being ignorant of the time that alcoholics usually go home from pubs I couldn’t really see why it’d be so busy on a Tuesday. Turns out that Tuesday is schnitzel night, and the place was pretty packed.

We met up with our fellow diner for the evening, and after entering I was relieved as usual that a photo of our kids wasn’t behind the bar, with the words “banned for life” sharpie’d under it.

We started the evening with a win!

The new decor is fairly upbeat and the remodelling seemed to add a lot more seating. Looking down the middle of the restaurant reminded me of gazing down the aisle of a 747. A lot of people in a very small amount of space.

As we wandered down to our pre-booked table I noticed that the old floorboards still make you feel like a drunken sailor swaggering on the deck of an ancient sailing ship. Creak, everyone to the left, splash, everyone to the right.

We were seated and the youngest shouted something about a pizza whilst disappearing off into the kids play room.

The daughter, struggling against her impulse to join him and probably hang him upside down in the play equipment by his underwear decided to stay back at the table – apparently she is now old enough that food matters more than tormenting brothers.

Entrees, dinners and drinks were all ordered at the bar for a reasonable sum. I had opted for the schnitzel which allegedly was coming with chips at discount price that was forgettable enough. I added a “topper” of calamari for a value amount that could have been $8. The wife ordered some kind of beef that came with oysters, chips and a Diane sauce.

While we chatted we were delighted to overhear many conversations from the people talking loudly and close by. Up until that point I thought my exploits in the garage trying to fix things had educated my kids on all the swear words there were, but I think I even learnt some new ones tonight.

Anyways, our entrees arrive first, along with a mini pizza for the boy. Our cheesy toast was pretty good, although the mini pizza looked really oily – I’m going to think that the cheese they’ve used was to blame for that. I always think that you can judge a restaurant by how they treat kids’ food. I think a lot of places really disrespect kids and use the worst ingredients under the assumption that parents won’t pay for anything decent. Or maybe they just plain think they can get away with it and nobody will know.

We had quite a lengthy wait until our mains arrived. Actually, the place had just about emptied out. When they did arrive everybody seemed quite happy. My wife’s dish in particular looked interesting and different. Her Diane sauce was not too bad. I don’t know what it is with restaurants and sauces but I think they must all go and play golf on the week that sauces get taught, or they’re so used to getting it from a bottle, can, or packet that they have no idea how to mix 4 basic things together to make simple things.

One of our party ordered a mushroom sauce and I tried it. I was aghast – it should have been called rosemary sauce as the flavour was so incredibly overpowering that it was essentially inedible. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt on that one. Probably the mushroom sauce was bubbling along nicely, and then the cook suddenly hallucinated and thought the pot looked like a 65kg roast lamb and loaded it full of all the rosemary in Gracemere. And probably from two towns over.

I got no sauce. Yes, three paragraphs about sauce, that’s how important it is to get right!

However, I was sauceless, but my chips were quite delightful. Crispy and battered – I was really happy with them. The serving size I felt was generous too, although the schnitzel was clearly of the budget variety and itself unremarkable and maybe a bit on the smallish side. A basic garden salad was wedged underneath there also and I was hungry enough that nothing escaped.

My “topper” of calamari was a generous serving I thought, lightly herbed (not rosemary, there was none left obviously) and lemony. Really nice.

My wife was happy enough with her meal, although she did comment that the oysters were particularly great. I tried a little bit of the pork belly topper from another meal in an effort to analyse what was wrong with it. I believe it was unseasoned and quite plain. Also, I would suspect it was probably bits of pork chop and not pork belly – and there was also no crispy “crackling” at all.

Overall it was a pleasant evening, the meals were enjoyable and nothing worthy of complaint. Pubs prices were paid and reasonable pub meals were received. The lack of table service still surprises me – I definitely bought less drinks because of the effort involved in ordering and hauling them back.

After the new fit-out the place looks pretty flash. Plus, they haven’t yet banned our kids yet so they have that going for them.

Don’t order the mushroom gravy. Ever.

 

Retro Commodore 64 Style Command Prompt on Windows

I was using my command prompt today and noticed that my default font had somehow been changed and seemed a bit squished. I made the joke that it looked a bit like the Commodore 64 font.

And then… BAM… inspiration struck and I decided that I actually wanted a retro Commodore 64 style command prompt 🙂

This would involve altering the default font used, the colour scheme, and showing some text at the top to look like the Commodore system info.

Here’s how to do it!

First, create a shortcut on your desktop and point it to cmd.exe – which is of course the standard Command Prompt executable. Edit the properties f the shortcut and change the target to the following:

We’re almost there already! If you run the shortcut you can see that the default text is shown and that the colours have changed.

With the command prompt open, right click the title bar on the top of the window and choose Properties. On the Layout tab change the Window Size Width to 40, 60 or 80. 40 is more authentic, but 60 and 80 are more practical to actually use!

But wait… if you go and download the c64 TrueType font from http://style64.org/release/c64-truetype-v1.2-style and install the mono spaced font called C64_Pro_Mono-STYLE.ttf you’ll be able to choose this as the font on the Font tab. I would recommend setting the Size to about 12.

 

That’s it!

Kinka Kippa Fission Chips

Just a quick one…

This past Saturday I was casually wandering around the Causeway Lake (situated between Yeppoon and Emu Park) photographing unsuspecting things. My wife and various friends were zipping around on jet skis, getting extremely soaked and commenting about how cold the water was. It’s winter. Just saying.

The kids, having destroyed as much nature as possible reluctantly dragged themselves back to the car. I mentally added another location to my inner map of places that we can never return to in case we’re remembered from the time before.

It was cold, and people were wet, and it was getting dark. Insects were bothering people.

Fish and chips were suggested, and in double time we were piled into cars and headed off to find a shop that did not have our photo on the wall yet.

A short trip down the road was Kinka Kippa, an unassuming place that looked like it could have hailed from a bygone era. The phone booth, post office box and the Streets ice-cream sign out the front reminded me of my childhood past, and the local corner shop. If you looked hard, you could almost see the Telecom sticker on the side of the phone box.

Some of our group went in the order, while a couple of us men stood around outside and made casual, idle conversation. Topics ranged from building things, to how fast other things go when you turn the engines on, and whether or not NSW is any good at football. I tried a few times to steer conversation towards whether or not Superman was better than The Flash, but I just got some odd looks. Thinking about it now, this could be why I’m not always invited.

After a little while our three separate orders came out and everything seemed to be intact. We’d ordered a variety of crumbed and battered fish, calamari rings and crumbed prawn cutlets – and chips of course. The servings seemed fairly generous. Each of the “pieces” were actually two smaller pieces, so we almost had double the expected amount. If you go and check these guys out on Trip Advisor you’ll notice that some people whinge about the fish size – I suspect they can’t count and didn’t realise they had double the serves.

I think we had $8 worth of chips between four, and it was a substantial amount. We actually had some fish left over, despite all my efforts to turn it into an eating competition.

Everything was cooked rather well and it was some of the best fish and chips I’ve had in a really long time. I would not only go back, but I would TRAVEL to go back.

As we sat outdoors an elderly gentleman started belting out some tunes from the attached restaurant. I am extremely hesitant to make any commentary regarding the singing, as I don’t want to damage any future career plans he might have to appear on Australian Idol or other shows like it. But, I did check for hidden cameras, to see if it was a reality tv show, and we were being filmed or something.

All in all, it was good food, we fed four of us for about $50 and had a bit more food than we needed.

I would recommend it, and I will be back.

This short review was also posted in the Rockhampton Food Rater on Facebook, on 5 June 2017.

Annoying Command Prompt Window Appearing Every Hour

I noticed recently that every hour my Windows 10 PC was popping up a command prompt window and closing it very quickly. At first I thought I had some kind of malware installed but all the scans I ran said that I was seemingly okay. I then thought Windows Update might be the culprit but it too, seemed to be innocent.

I then went hunting in the Scheduled Tasks and lo and behold I found the bugger. Armed with this knowledge I took to Google to discover that this is apparently a common thing that is annoying a lot more people than me – especially if you run stuff in full screen mode like games or media players because the process seems to minimise those things when the task runs every hour.

Anyway, to get rid of it you can do so manually by clicking your Start button and typing Task Manager and running it.

Expend Task Scheduler Library, the expand Microsoft, then expand Office. Right click on OfficeBackgroundTaskHandlerRegistration and Disable it.

 

If you’re familiar with the command prompt, run it as an administrator and enter the following command: