Windows PowerShell script to check for specific hotfix

I was asked by our IT department to write something that would check if a specific Windows Update hotfix was installed on a number of servers (they gave me list), and they wanted it ASAP.

So, I thought, hmm…this is the perfect opportunity to give Microsoft’s new scripting tool, Windows PowerShell, a try. I tip my hat to Microsoft for creating this tool – it was about time – since something like this has been in need to combat the “last mile” in the IT world.

It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to write this script, but being familiar with the .NET Framework is sort of a prerequisite:

# Get content
$computers = get-content c:\computers.txt

# Get all the info using WMI
$results = get-wmiobject -class “Win32_QuickFixEngineering” -namespace “root\CIMV2” -computername $computers

# Loop through $results and look for a match then output to screen
foreach ($objItem in $results)
    if ($objItem.HotFixID -match “KB932168”)
        write-host $objItem.CSName
        write-host “Hotfix KB932168 installed”

To use it:

1. Copy-and-paste this into notepad and save it as scriptname.ps1.

2. Set the execution policy, as Microsoft intentionally set it up like *nix scripts (right on!) wherein you need to chmod it, like so: Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted.

Note: There are different execution policies, such as “AllSigned.” Google it if you want to know more about it.

3. Run it from the powershell by typing .\scriptname.ps1.

4. That’s it! Now wait for the results.

This script, unfortunately, will only print out the servers that have the specific “KB932168” (read: an example) hotfix installed. I could’ve expanded the script to output a list of servers that didn’t have it and output it to a text file using the Out-File cmdlet, but, at the end, it served its purpose and got the results our IT department needed.

BTW, this script will work on Win2k3, XP, Win2k, and Win98 – but the corresponding .NET Framework (version 2.0 is good; version 3.0 is already out) must be installed on the target machine. Also, know that the Windows PowerShell only works on Windows.

Hope this helps! =0)

Password-Protecting your pages with .htaccess

If you develop websites or adminster them, you’ve probably been asked or required to password-protect parts of a website. 

So, to help you out, here’s a quick how-to in Apache using .htaccess:

  1. Open a terminal window and navigate to the folder or page(s) you’d like to add a password requirement.
  2. Once there, type the following: htpasswd -c .htpasswd username.  BTW, you can name .htpasswd to another name (something that is hard to guess is preferable).
  3. Enter the password you’d like to associate with the username (from above).  This will create the user and an encrypted password.
  4. Next, create the .htaccess file by typing: vi .htaccess, and add the following in the .htaccess file:

To protect a folder

AuthUserFile /full/path/to/.htpasswd
AuthType Basic
AuthName “Your Secret Folder”
Require valid-user

To protect a page

AuthUserFile /full/path/to/.htpasswd
AuthType Basic
AuthName “Your Secret Page”
<Files “yourpage.html”>
  Require valid-user

Note: You can use a different name for .htpasswd so it’s harder for a hacker to figure it out.

5.   Type :wq! to save and exit. 

6.   For better security, perform a chmod on .htaccess, like so: chmod 644 .htaccess.

As you can see, the steps above are pretty straight-forward.  Also as an FYI, Apache blocks any requests for anything that start with “.ht”.

That’s basically it, I hope this post helps you out.  =0) What technology used?

My sister’s been shopping around for airline tickets to go to Asia without any luck.  So, the geekness in me felt the need to help her out. 

Scanning through some blogs I read regularly, I came across  It is one of the “newer” travel websites that search a lot of other websites’ flight information, which got me curious as to what technology they use. 

Watching what other people/companies are doing and using helps me stay up-to-date with all these technologies.

I initally wasn’t able to figure out what technologies drive their website until I:

  1. Used Steve Gibson’s excellent ID Serve tool to find out what web server they were using
  2. Looked for file extensions and came across the .do extension on one of their links. 
  3. Checked out the HTML code and scanned for methods that buttons and other input controls were calling.

So, for the web server, it’s none other than Apache (yeah!):

HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2007 21:32:05 GMT
Server: Apache
Content-Length: 294
Connection: close
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1

For the back-end, it’s Java, most likely an Apache Struts implementation:

And of course, a ton of JavaScript code for client-side functionality.

From this brief investigation, I also learned that, though, a new comer is giving Orbitz and Expedia a run for their money.  Cool!  Better for us consumers.

To summarize: Try to regularly observe what other people and companies are doing, so as to keep yourself up-to-date.  And along with that, try the techniques I mentioned above for your investigation, as you might learn a thing or two.  =0)

Disclaimer: There are a lot of other techniques and tools that you can use, but the steps above, though, may be incomplete served the purpose of this post.

GTD anyone?

I read an article about GTD (Getting Things Done by David Allen) a few months ago but shoved it aside; however, with so many projects demanding my time recently, I started looking into it again (read: need better time management).

I have just barely started using Allen’s system, but have found it to be SO helpful (and quite easy to learn) that I’ve decided to spend more time incorporating it into my everyday life – see the GTD tab above? Sorry, it’s password-protected as it’s for my own use.

So, what is GTD anyway, you might ask? Well, let’s check out what Wikipedia says…

GTD is an action management method and it rests on the principle that a person needs to move tasks out of the mind by recording them somewhere. That way, the mind is freed from the job of remembering everything that needs to be done, and can concentrate on actually performing those tasks.

The premise of GTD, as I understand it, is do the tasks you’ve noted down (in the GTD way) based on the context you’re currently in (i.e., “In front of computer,” “In the car,” “At the office”). Of course, it’s not as simple as that, but it’s not very hard to understand and apply either.

Check out the diagram below to get a better understanding of this system.

Fig. 1.1 – GTD Flow Diagram (view top to bottom)

GTD Flow Diagram

If you have access to a LAMP server, I recommend installing gtd-php and jump right in – this was the fastest and only way I actually understood it.

To end, I recommend setting up some time to read up on it and give it a try. There’s nothing to lose and maybe a lot to gain… =0)

Too much in your mind, mind map it!

With the coming of the information age, comes information overload. If you’re like me who reads constantly to keep up with technology, your mind can get overloaded with so much – acronyms, concepts, theories, how-tos – you name it.

So the question is: what do you do with all that information stored in your mind (read: brain)? The answer is mind map it.

I’ve been fond of using mind map software because it helps me orgranize my thoughts and note them down. This gives me a lot of benefits, but the best one is it makes me see things clearer because I’m able to visualize it; it also affords me a knowledge-base of sorts, which I can later read again.

According to Wikipedia, a mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, and decision making.

There are quite a few mind mapping software packages available (google it), but I use an open-source app called FreeMind.

Fig. 1.1 – FreeMind App

FreeMind App

Fig 1.2 – Sample mind map

Sample mind map

Check it out and start mind mapping and brain dumping all the stuff in your brain!