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Chad Johnson
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September 18, 2008 - 8:37 pm
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Right, so a whole day with no posts? Come on! I need something to do to entertain myself other than work all day.

So a General discussion area. We could discuss things like politics, religion, football, or even have a Office versus Open Office argument. The sky is the limit, well, as long as we keep it clean and respect each other (right, Dave?). So, who's with me? I want this to succeed cuz I need a distraction from work. So c'mon, get posting!! Entertain me!!

--zig

[size=50:20ssb8g3]*DISCLAIMER: Ziggie was extremely tired when he wrote this and should by no means will this post be representative of his mental state. Take this as you will and move on. But seriously, let's get talking and chatting, and umm....forum-ing. [/size:20ssb8g3]

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Jim Hillier
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September 19, 2008 - 12:14 am
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Hi Ziggie - I'm with you mate........You could help me understand what uses one would have for a 'virtual machine'. I know the virtual environment is great for trying out new software and that a virtual CD-ROM drive will help with games and surfing in a virtual environment is much safer (I use Sandboxie myself). BUT...I would like to hear/know of any other major benefits to be derived from installing 'virtual machine' software? Also, do you have any recommendations in this area?...freeware of course!

thanks.....JIM

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David Hartsock
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September 19, 2008 - 1:22 am
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Jim,
The big thing about running a virtual machine is the "virtual" part (makes sense). Imagine that everything you do, every change you make, every change the OS makes, and every change ANYTHING else makes while in a virtual environment. If you exit the virtual machine it's all gone, unless you specifically save the state of the virtual machine. All of this happens within a virtual computer (machine) running on your OS, but completely separate from the OS. Nothing done in the Virtual Machine affects your real computer.

[color=#FF0000:sef2z1pe][size=85:sef2z1pe]* TECH NOTE: Virtual Machine is often referred to as a VM in tech circles. I'm lazy, so I'll be using VM for the remainder of this reply[/size:sef2z1pe][/color:sef2z1pe]

When I think about the paragraph above two things come to mind first - 1. Testing and 2. Security (OK, maybe 3. a combination of both). For me those are the two biggies. Using a VM for testing software, be it a word processor or a security suite. The second point of security comes from the fact that every change disappears when you turn the VM off. Many researchers (OK, most researchers) use a VM when researching a virus, spyware, or malware. They can see how it affects the OS they are running in the VM. They can try methods of containment. If their methods don't work, or they just want to observe the nasty's affect on the system, they just kill the VM and restart it. The next time they start the VM it starts clean.

A good example is when I did the spyware test beginning in December of 2006 - [url:sef2z1pe]http://www.davescomputertips.com/newsletters/2006/20061201.php[/url:sef2z1pe] - I used VMWare and created an XP virtual machine. After i created the VM I did all the current XP updates and then saved the VM. No matter what happened I could return to that "clean" state with a couple of clicks. I then went looking to get infected (and I did!). Once I was infected to the limit I saved another state, which I could return to with a couple clicks. The important thing is even though I was running an OS in the VM that was infected to the point of almost not being able to run, my computer was fine and clean.

I hope that makes a little sense. If you want to experiment you can try MS Virtual PC 2007, it's free - [url:sef2z1pe]http://www.microsoft.com/windows/downloads/virtualpc/default.mspx[/url:sef2z1pe]

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Jim Hillier
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September 19, 2008 - 2:53 am
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Hi Dave - Thanks for the reply. I was already pretty clear on all that. My question, obviously worded badly, was more inclined towards any additional benefits for the casual user (such as myself), those of us who do not test new software nor the efficiency of security programs. I understand the absolute security a VM offers but I was curious as to any other uses.....mostly because I see lots and lots of user reviews for the available VM software and I have often thought to myself....'They can't all be just using it for testing purposes alone, can they?...I wonder what else they would use it for.' It just doesn't seem feasible there would be that many out there testing various products.

cheers....JIM

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Chad Johnson
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September 19, 2008 - 9:23 pm
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Well...there are lots of reasons to use Virtual Machines.

There's the obviously gray areas: running a bittorrent/file sharing client on a virtual machine will eliminate all traces of the software and downloaded files when it is shut off. In fact, ripping downloaded files off to a DVD will prevent anyone who tries to track downloaded files to you from finding them. Throw a dead man's switch on your VM, and no one can ever prove you did anything. (Please note that I don't advocate doing this).

Many data centers are moving towards VM's as a way to consolidate space and save money. Instead of buying 8 servers all dedicated to various things, they sink money into 1 or 2 servers and virtualize the 8 servers they need. Since most servers sit idle a lot of the time, these 8 servers can share processer time/memory cycles and save money while allowing "dedicated" servers for applications.

Personally I use Virtual Machines to maintain a few legacy apps (old DOS programs) as well as keep current on OS's that my friends/family are running so I can help them when they call me. Plus I am able to run Ubuntu Linux on my laptop, but keep XP in a virtual machine for those apps that are way too reliant on Windows.

So really, the use of vm's is limited only by your imagination (and licenses).

And of course, web surfing in a Virtual Machine is the ultimate in privacy.

Dave, have you heard of the VM viruses that target virtual machines? Supposedly they can target the host machine and run undetected because they're running as trusted "virtual" software.

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David Hartsock
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September 19, 2008 - 11:40 pm
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Dave, have you heard of the VM viruses that target virtual machines? Supposedly they can target the host machine and run undetected because they're running as trusted "virtual" software.[/quote:2ni5202h]
I have not. Do you have any links or remember anything off the top of your head?

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Chad Johnson
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September 20, 2008 - 12:22 am
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Here's a recent post I read: http://www.aspdeveloper.net/Virtual_PC/ ... virus.aspx

I remember hearing something in the news a year or two ago when virtualizing became the "next big thing" but honestly haven't heard of anything widespread happening, so it may have been a moot point.

However, it would seem that any ties between the host and the virtual machine would be open to attack if there are vulnerabilities there.

--zig

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David Hartsock
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September 20, 2008 - 6:43 am
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Here's a recent post I read: http://www.aspdeveloper.net/Virtual_PC/ ... virus.aspx

I remember hearing something in the news a year or two ago when virtualizing became the "next big thing" but honestly haven't heard of anything widespread happening, so it may have been a moot point.

However, it would seem that any ties between the host and the virtual machine would be open to attack if there are vulnerabilities there.

--zig[/quote:1bq6933i]
Zig, I'll have a look at that. Sorry my other replies were so short. I was trying to get something out before I had to leave.

I agree that virtualization is going to be the "Next Big Thing, both for OS developers and those looking for an attack vector. If they add virtualization to the next version of Windows it would be possible to run almost any windows software exactly like it ran when you first used it. Anything that doesn't run natively in the OS could start the app in a virtual environment of the OS needed by the software. Interesting possibilities!

Of course those with questionable motives would be all over that looking for holes to attach. If this ever does come to fruition I wonder what will happen to updates as they have to update the core OS and virtualization environment. Interesting times ahead!

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SEGMAT
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September 26, 2008 - 11:13 pm
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Hey,

Just wanted to throw my 2 cents worth into this discussion... I have heard that some malware is getting smart of the way that virtualization works and that if you use Sandboxie (for example), you can scan downloaded files that are still in the sandbox, and you will find them clean. Once you remove them from the sandbox though, the malware can tell what's happening and then deploy it's disaster. I can't remember where I heard it exactly but it's only logical that something like this would happen eventually.

The other thing is that the first post of this thread was about Office suites, and so maybe I should be starting a new thread but I feel that MSOffice and Open Office are not the only players... what about Word Perfect (Corel)... I don't really need to start a discussion about it but I just think that Corel should be included since it is a fairly major player as well. I'm a big Corel fan and so maybe I'm biased.

Matt

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Chad Johnson
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September 26, 2008 - 11:40 pm
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I have never used Word Perfect, so I can't comment except to say that I didn't know they were still putting out software.

Eek!

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SEGMAT
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September 27, 2008 - 12:03 am
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Yes, they are still a very active company, I recently purchased their newest Office suite which is Corel Word Perfect X4. Probably their most useful feature is the reveal codes screen at the bottom of every window. How many people complain about how Word creates automatic lists for you, does tabbing automatically... stuff like that. It's hard and annoying to try and change what Word wants you to do but in Word Perfect, you can see all the coding that's involved. You can set it to do automatic lists for you if you want, but then for the times when you want total customization or whatever, a glance down to Reveal Codes will tell you where the automation is and all you have to do is click on the code and you can get rid of it!

I find it to be just as good if not better as MSOffice, and it's compatible with Vista64 which, according to Microsoft, at the time I was looking for my software a few weeks ago, MSOffice is not totally compatible, so my choice was clear anyway.

Matt

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Chad Johnson
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September 27, 2008 - 8:58 am
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well whadya know. Learn something new every day.

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Carol Bratt
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September 27, 2008 - 1:05 pm
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Yes, they are still a very active company, I recently purchased their newest Office suite which is Corel Word Perfect X4. Probably their most useful feature is the reveal codes screen at the bottom of every window. How many people complain about how Word creates automatic lists for you, does tabbing automatically... stuff like that. It's hard and annoying to try and change what Word wants you to do but in Word Perfect, you can see all the coding that's involved. You can set it to do automatic lists for you if you want, but then for the times when you want total customization or whatever, a glance down to Reveal Codes will tell you where the automation is and all you have to do is click on the code and you can get rid of it!

I find it to be just as good if not better as MSOffice, and it's compatible with Vista64 which, according to Microsoft, at the time I was looking for my software a few weeks ago, MSOffice is not totally compatible, so my choice was clear anyway.

Matt[/quote:1t8q6vlg]

I have used both WordPerfect and MS Word and OpenOffice and I have to say that MS Office comes in first hands down and OpenOffice second and WordPerfect Office Suite third. WordPerfect if a good piece of software - no doubt about that. The reason I favor MS Word is that it is a much more robust piece of software and very customizable up until this latest version but still much better than WordPerfect in my humble opinion.

I have taught both WordPerfect and MS Word to many, many classes and have found that users of both pieces of software think that theirs is the best but neither group knew how to use their software to the fullest of its potential and both thought they were power users.

The key to any software, including Corel WordPerfect and MS Word is training, training, training! With the basic class that I teach in MS Word you learn how to turn off anything that is automatically done for you in the program. You also learn what every icon on your Word screen means and how to use shortcuts.

In my intermediate class I teach folks how to format documents, both characters and paragraphs. I also teach the beginning of numbering and using fields for such things as dates and page numbers. I also teach more advanced character and paragraph formatting, such as drop caps and spacing between paragraphs. I also teach how to use Find and Replace.

In the advanced classes it really gets interesting because then I teach folks how to create their own templates, such that once they have it all set up, as if for an APA thesis, if they are in academia, it need only be done once. I teach them how to set up a two page letterhead template so that every time they want to send a business letter it is all done for them; their company logo and address are on the first page and when the letter spills over to the next page it automatically has a header with the date, the name of the recipient and the page of page information.

So you see, it is all in the training. People who complain about what MS Word does or does not do for them really do not know exactly what MS Word is capable of. They are complaining because they have never been trained properly to use the software.

I work with a group that uses Corel WordPerfect and they have no earthly idea how powerful that piece of software can be. I set up templates in WordPerfect to so that when I want to send a fax to someone I simply click a button on my toolbar and a small dialog box pops up and I sill in the name of the recipient, the fax number, the date and the number of pages and bingo - I'm finished.

So you see, there are pluses and minuses to everything but as they say, the devil is in the details. Once you are trained to use the software to its fullest potential, there really is very little to complain about!

Having said that, Corel still does offer an office suite of applications, but an extremely small number of businesses use it. The best part of their office suite is MS Word. The other applications, in my opinion, cannot begin to compare with the MS Office Suite or OpenOffice.

I have not mentioned OpenOffice, but it is a wonderful office suite that is very much like MS Office and again, I like it much better than the office suite offered by Corel.

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SEGMAT
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September 27, 2008 - 1:12 pm
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Thanks for your opinions Carol and I totally agree with you. Although I would be one of the people who doesn't know much about the underlying capabilities of Office suites, I know that I have only scratched the surface of the programs. I use them to get simple jobs done and not much more. I reformat my document every time I need to and so a template would be useful but I have never bothered to try and figure out how to do it. You are right, training is necessary to find success with any program, and I probably would enjoy MSOffice a lot more if I knew how to harness the power that is built into it.

All that said, I also agree with you that each user of software thinks that theirs is the best and so I remain a Corel fan and unfortunately ignorant of the power built into MSOffice and OpenOffice, but also Corel.

Maybe I should take a class one of these days to learn how to properly use my software, but I would take a Corel course seeing as I just bought their newest suite and don't feel like throwing that money away to buy something like MSOffice.

Matt

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