Blog: tools

Frink is a java program that runs everywhere - Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, uh, except the iPhone. Basically Frink is a calculating tool and programming language.  Here are a few of the features the I like:

  • Tracks units of measure through all calculations.
  • Recognizes thousands of unit types and can convert between them.
  • Arbitrary precision math - huge floating point numbers, retains rational numbers with no loss of precision, works with complex numbers.
  • Does date and time math.
  • Can run under a web server and can generate HTML 5 code.
  • Knows monetary exchange rates, translates text between a dozen languages, reads and writes local files, web and ftp files, does graphics, object-oriented programming...

Frink is updated very often.[more]  It has been updated over 600 times since December 2001. The web site is at

There are several ways to run Frink.  Using that Java Web Start stuff is just too much overhead for me.  The way I run it on Windows is to just download the frink.jar file, and run a batch file to invoke it.  The batch file just has this in it:
cmd /c start javaw -jar c:\u\frink.jar


An article by lifehacker ( showed how someone discovered a new use for an analog alarm clock.  The second hand registers as movement if the mouse is placed on top of the clock (see picture below) when not in use.

So, if you are inspecting the workplace and see a mouse perched on top of a clock, this may be the reason. [more]


If you are not using 7-zip, you need to install it.  It will unzip just about anything, including install shield files, msi files, gzip files, tar files, rpm, deb, iso – over 20 different kinds of files.  It will create compatible compressed files, but it also has it’s own 7z format that has a higher compression ratio that zip.  It will make encrypted files and self-extracting executables with better encryption that regular zip.  Of course it’s open source, mostly LGPL.

Example:  The other day I needed to install a printer driver on a machine that a customer connects to with remote desktop.  HP had the humongous 205 MB download with all the utilities, but all I needed was the driver, so I downloaded the huge basic driver package, which was only 61 MB.  It was an executable, so I tried running it and it complained that the USB was not working while looking for the printer.  This was a virtual machine and I didn’t need USB.  I tried renaming the file to .zip and unzipping it using the Vista built in feature, but it could not read it.  So I installed 7-zip and was able to extract all the files and just install the driver. One more happy customer.


Desktop Restore is a free shell extension that records the position of desktop icons and lets you restore your favorite layout when things have been rearranged by things such as having the screen resolution change.  [more]

This is a context menu where you can save or restore the desktop but there is also a custom save/restore option that saves multi-monitor information:


NTFS Undelete is a free software utility that recovers deleted files that are no longer in the recycle bin.  Of course, you're hoping something hasn't overwritten any of the deleted file.  An ISO image is also provided if you want to run NTFSUndelete from a CD rather than installing the program after deleting a file.  (The ISO image is not bootable, just used to run NTFSUndelete from the CD.) [more]

The user interface is easy to understand and there are some helpful advanced search options (date, size filters as well as file names, etc.)



My favorite live CD is SystemRescueCd  This includes Petter Nordahl-Hagen’s chntpw. It also includes gparted, partimage, ntfs-3g file system (safe, reliable, writable ntfs), clam antivirus.  It auto-detects many kinds of hardware and even connects to WPA access points.  You can put it on a small USB drive and create a backing store, so that it retains changes made.  You can even install additional packages and customize it.  It also contains boot images of several other programs, like dban, freedos, memtest+, aida hardware analysis and diagnostic tool.  You can also add additional applications to SystemRescueCd that aren't included by default, so I added spinrite to my copy.


If you google ‘netscan’, it will usually be the first or second hit (  In the past I've mostly used LANguard and LANspy as my subnet-scanning utils, but lately I've been using SoftPerfect more.  It is free, lightweight (around 700k), and is a stand-alone EXE, so no install needed.  It’s easy to quickly download to a client’s server in a pinch.  It will auto-detect the local subnet and has lots of useful scanning options.  You can see IP, MAC, OS-version, logged-on user, domain, SNMP, open ports, shares, etc.  Two of it’s slicker features are right-clicking a 'found' system to remotely shutdown/reboot (can send a broadcast message first) and right-clicking a file-share to explore the share and/or map a drive to it.  You can pick current or custom credentials to scan under.  It is multi-threaded and scans pretty fast.  Lastly, you can tell by the changelog that it gets updated often (already updated for Win7/Server08r2).


We frequently use comments in Word documents as part of our information security audit process and I finally looked for a keyboard shortcut to insert a comment.  The shortcut is Ctrl+Alt+M.  However, the most useful thing I found when looking for this was a comprehensive Word 2007 keyboard shortcut list at has keyboard shortcuts for all types of Microsoft, Adobe, Google, and other applications.  It's definitely worth adding a bookmark for if you're a fan of using shortcuts.


Sdelete is a small useful utility by Mark Russinovich that will perform a secure delete within Windows.  In addition to deleting files and folders it has an option to cleanse free space on the disk.  This came in very handy when I needed to clean up a PC but couldn’t rebuild it.

You can download the utility and find lots of good information about how this works at


During a recent information security audit, I ran across a “unified threat management” system that I had not seen before called Untangle (  The bank was using it in place of a traditional firewall.  According the Untangle website, the Untangle Gateway is “the world’s first commercial-grade open source solution for blocking spam, spyware, viruses, adware and unwanted content on the network, provides a free and better alternative to costly, inflexible proprietary appliances.”  The interesting part is that the gateway runs on Linux and all the “modules” (firewall, IPS, web content blocker, etc.) are open source downloads, so the gateway is a free download.  Additionally, the source code for the Untangle gateway is available for download. [more]

You can choose to pay for certain modules such as Untangle support, an Active Directory connector, Kaspersky virus blocker, etc..  However, the rest of the modules can be downloaded and installed from a very simple GUI for free.  So far, I have not been able to find any major vulnerabilities or issues with this software.  Their target market is small to medium businesses that don’t want to pay the big bucks for Cisco, SonicWall, and other proprietary appliances.

Untangle also makes another product called “Re-Router” that is a network gateway/proxy server that runs in background on a Windows XP workstation.