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Part 2: Tools & Info for Sysadmins - Mega List of Tips, Tools, Books, Blogs & More

(continued from part 1)
Unlocker is a tool to help delete those irritating locked files that give you an error message like "cannot delete file" or "access is denied." It helps with killing processes, unloading DLLs, deleting index.dat files, as well as unlocking, deleting, renaming, and moving locked files—typically without requiring a reboot.
IIS Crypto's newest version adds advanced settings; registry backup; new, simpler templates; support for Windows Server 2019 and more. This tool lets you enable or disable protocols, ciphers, hashes and key exchange algorithms on Windows and reorder SSL/TLS cipher suites from IIS, change advanced settings, implement best practices with a single click, create custom templates and test your website. Available in both command line and GUI versions.
RocketDock is an application launcher with a clean interface that lets you drag/drop shortcuts for easy access and minimize windows to the dock. Features running application indicators, multi-monitor support, alpha-blended PNG and ICO icons, auto-hide and popup on mouse over, positioning and layering options. Fully customizable, portable, and compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher and Y'z Dock skins. Works even on slower computers and is Unicode compliant. Suggested by lieutenantcigarette: "If you like the dock on MacOS but prefer to use Windows, RocketDock has you covered. A superb and highly customisable dock that you can add your favourites to for easy and elegant access."
Baby FTP Server offers only the basics, but with the power to serve as a foundation for a more-complex server. Features include multi-threading, a real-time server log, support for PASV and non-PASV mode, ability to set permissions for download/upload/rename/delete/create directory. Only allows anonymous connections. Our thanks to FatherPrax for suggesting this one.
Strace is a Linux diagnostic, debugging and instructional userspace tool with a traditional command-line interface. Uses the ptrace kernel feature to monitor and tamper with interactions between processes and the kernel, including system calls, signal deliveries and changes of process state.
exa is a small, fast replacement for ls with more features and better defaults. It uses colors to distinguish file types and metadata, and it recognizes symlinks, extended attributes and Git. All in one single binary. phils_lab describes it as "'ls' on steroids, written in Rust."
rsync is a faster file transfer program for Unix to bring remote files into sync. It sends just the differences in the files across the link, without requiring both sets of files to be present at one of the ends. Suggested by zorinlynx, who adds that "rsync is GODLY for moving data around efficiently. And if an rsync is interrupted, just run it again."
Matter Wiki is a simple WYSIWYG wiki that can help teams store and collaborate. Every article gets filed under a topic, transparently, so you can tell who made what changes to which document and when. Thanks to bciar-iwdc for the recommendation.
LockHunter is a file unlocking tool that enables you to delete files that are being blocked for unknown reasons. Can be useful for fighting malware and other programs that are causing trouble. Deletes files into the recycle bin so you can restore them if necessary. Chucky2401 finds it preferable to Unlocker, "since I am on Windows 7. There are no new updates since July 2017, but the last beta was in June of this year."
aria2 is a lightweight multi-source command-line download utility that supports HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, BitTorrent and Metalink. It can be manipulated via built-in JSON-RPC and XML-RPC interfaces. Recommended by jftuga, who appreciates it as a "cross-platform command line downloader (similar to wget or curl), but with the -x option can run a segmented download of a single file to increase throughput."
Free Services
Temp-Mail allows you to receive email at a temporary address that self-destructs after a certain period of time. Outwit all the forums, Wi-Fi owners, websites and blogs that insist you register to use them. Petti-The-Yeti says, "I don't give any company my direct email anymore. If I want to trial something but they ask for an email signup, I just grab a temporary email from here, sign up with it, and wait for the trial link or license info to come through. Then, you just download the file and close the website."
Duck DNS will point a DNS (sub domains of duckdns.org) to an IP of your choice. DDNS is a handy way for you to refer to a serverouter with an easily rememberable name for situations when the server's ip address will likely change. Suggested by xgnarf, who finds it "so much better for the free tier of noip—no 30-day nag to keep your host up."
Joe Sandbox detects and analyzes potential malicious files and URLs on Windows, Android, Mac OS, Linux and iOS for suspicious activities. It performs deep malware analysis and generates comprehensive and detailed reports. The Community Edition of Joe Sandbox Cloud allows you to run a maximum of 6 analyses per month, 3 per day on Windows, Linux and Android with limited analysis output. This one is from dangibbons94, who wanted to "share this cool service ... for malware analysis. I usually use Virus total for URL scanning, but this goes a lot more in depth. I just used basic analysis, which is free and enough for my needs."
Hybrid Analysis is a malware analysis service that detects and analyzes unknown threats for the community. This one was suggested by compupheonix, who adds that it "gets you super detailed reports... it's about the most fleshed out and detailed one I can find."
JustBeamIt is a file-transfer service that allows you to send files of any size via a peer-to-peer streaming model. Simply drag and drop your file and specify the recipient's email address. They will then receive a link that will trigger the download directly from your computer, so the file does not have to be uploaded to the service itself. The link is good for one download and expires after 10 minutes. Thanks to cooljacob204sfw for the recommendation!
ShieldsUP is a quick but powerful internet security checkup and information service. It was created by security researcher Steve Gibson to scan ports and let you know which ones have been opened through your firewalls or NAT routers.
Firefox Send is an encrypted file transfer service that allows you to share files up to 2.5GB from any browser or an Android app. Uses end-to-end encryption to keep data secure and offers security controls you can set. You can determine when your file link expires, the number of downloads, and whether to add a password. Your recipient receives a link to download the file, and they don’t need a Firefox account. This one comes from DePingus, who appreciates the focus on privacy. "They have E2E, expiring links, and a clear privacy policy."
Free DNS is a service where programmers share domain names with one another at no cost. Offers free hosting as well as dynamic DNS, static DNS, subdomain and domain hosting. They can host your domain's DNS as well as allowing you to register hostnames from domains they're hosting already. If you don't have a domain, you can sign up for a free account and create up to 5 subdomains off the domains others have contributed and point these hosts anywhere on the Internet. Thanks to 0x000000000000004C (yes, that's a username) for the suggestion!
ANY.RUN is an interactive malware analysis service for dynamic and static research of the majority of threats in any environment. It can provide a convenient in-depth analysis of new, unidentified malicious objects and help with the investigation of incidents. ImAshtonTurner appreciates it as "a great sandbox tool for viewing malware, etc."
Plik is a scalable, temporary file upload system similar to wetransfer that is written in golang. Thanks go to I_eat_Narwhals for this one!
Free My IP offers free, dynamic DNS. This service comes with no login, no ads, no newsletters, no links to click and no hassle. Kindly suggested by Jack of All Trades.
Mailinator provides free, temporary email inboxes on a receive-only, attachment-free system that requires no sign-up. All @mailinator.com addresses are public, readable and discoverable by anyone at any time—but are automatically deleted after a few hours. Can be a nice option for times when you to give out an address that won't be accessible longterm. Recommended by nachomountain, who's been using it "for years."
Magic Wormhole is a service for sending files directly with no intermediate upload, no web interface and no login. When both parties are online you with the minimal software installed, the wormhole is invoked via command line identifying the file you want to send. The server then provides a speakable, one-time-use password that you give the recipient. When they enter that password in their wormhole console, key exchange occurs and the download begins directly between your computers. rjohnson99 explains, "Magic Wormhole is sort of like JustBeamIt but is open-source and is built on Python. I use it a lot on Linux servers."
EveryCloud's Free Phish is our own, new Phishing Simulator. Once you've filled in the form and logged in, you can choose from lots of email templates (many of which we've coped from what we see in our Email Security business) and landing pages. Run a one-off free phish, then see who clicked or submitted data so you can understand where your organization is vulnerable and act accordingly.
Hardening Guides
CIS Hardening Guides contain the system security benchmarks developed by a global community of cybersecurity experts. Over 140 configuration guidelines are provided to help safeguard systems against threats. Recommended by cyanghost109 "to get a start on looking at hardening your own systems."
Podcasts
Daily Tech News is Tom Merrit's show covering the latest tech issues with some of the top experts in the field. With the focus on daily tech news and analysis, it's a great way to stay current. Thanks to EmoPolarbear for drawing it to our attention.
This Week in Enterprise Tech is a podcast that features IT experts explaining the complicated details of cutting-edge enterprise technology. Join host Lou Maresca on this informative exploration of enterprise solutions, with new episodes recorded every Friday afternoon.
Security Weekly is a podcast where a "bunch of security nerds" get together and talk shop. Topics are greatly varied, and the atmosphere is relaxed and conversational. The show typically tops out at 2 hours, which is perfect for those with a long commute. If you’re fascinated by discussion of deep technical and security-related topics, this may be a nice addition to your podcast repertoire.
Grumpy Old Geeks—What Went Wrong on the Internet and Who's To Blame is a podcast about the internet, technology and geek culture—among other things. The hosts bring their grumpy brand of humor to the "state of the world as they see it" in these roughly hour-long weekly episodes. Recommended by mkaxsnyder, who enjoys it because, "They are a good team that talk about recent and relevant topics from an IT perspective."
The Social-Engineer Podcast is a monthly discussion among the hosts—a group of security experts from SEORG—and a diverse assortment of guests. Topics focus around human behavior and how it affects information security, with new episodes released on the second Monday of every month. Thanks to MrAshRhodes for the suggestion.
The CyberWire podcasts discuss what's happening in cyberspace, providing news and commentary from industry experts. This cyber security-focused news service delivers concise, accessible, and relevant content without the gossip, sensationalism, and the marketing buzz that often distract from the stories that really matter. Appreciation to supermicromainboard for the suggestion.
Malicious Life is a podcast that tells the fascinating—and often unknown—stories of the wildest hacks you can ever imagine. Host Ran Levi, a cybersecurity expert and author, talks with the people who were actually involved to reveal the history of each event in depth. Our appreciation goes to peraphon for the recommendation.
The Broadcast Storm is a podcast for Cisco networking professionals. BluePieceOfPaper suggests it "for people studying for their CCNA/NP. Kevin Wallace is a CCIE Collaboration so he knows his *ishk. Good format for learning too. Most podcasts are about 8-15 mins long and its 'usually' an exam topic. It will be something like "HSPR" but instead of just explaining it super boring like Ben Stein reading a powerpoint, he usually goes into a story about how (insert time in his career) HSPR would have been super useful..."
Software Engineering Radio is a podcast for developers who are looking for an educational resource with original content that isn't recycled from other venues. Consists of conversations on relevant topics with experts from the software engineering world, with new episodes released three to four times per month. a9JDvXLWHumjaC tells us this is "a solid podcast for devs."
Books
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is a comprehensive technical guide designed to help you optimize Microsoft's Configuration Manager 2012 according to your requirements and then to deploy and use it successfully. This methodical, step-by-step reference covers: the intentions behind the product and its role in the broader System Center product suite; planning, design, and implementation; and details on each of the most-important feature sets. Learn how to leverage the user-centric capabilities to provide anytime/anywhere services & software, while strengthening control and improving compliance.
Network Warrior: Everything You Need to Know That Wasn’t on the CCNA Exam is a practical guide to network infrastructure. Provides an in-depth view of routers and routing, switching (with Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches as examples), SOHO VoIP and SOHO wireless access point design and configuration, introduction to IPv6 with configuration examples, telecom technologies in the data-networking world (including T1, DS3, frame relay, and MPLS), security, firewall theory and configuration, ACL and authentication, Quality of Service (QoS), with an emphasis on low-latency queuing (LLQ), IP address allocation, Network Time Protocol (NTP) and device failures.
Beginning the Linux Command Line is your ally in mastering Linux from the keyboard. It is intended for system administrators, software developers, and enthusiastic users who want a guide that will be useful for most distributions—i.e., all items have been checked against Ubuntu, Red Hat and SUSE. Addresses administering users and security and deploying firewalls. Updated to the latest versions of Linux to cover files and directories, including the Btrfs file system and its management and systemd boot procedure and firewall management with firewalld.
Modern Operating Systems, 4th Ed. is written for students taking intro courses on Operating Systems and for those who want an OS reference guide for work. The author, an OS researcher, includes both the latest materials on relevant operating systems as well as current research. The previous edition of Modern Operating Systems received the 2010 McGuffey Longevity Award that recognizes textbooks for excellence over time.
Time Management for System Administrators is a guide for organizing your approach to this challenging role in a way that improves your results. Bestselling author Thomas Limoncelli offers a collection of tips and techniques for navigating the competing goals and concurrent responsibilities that go along with working on large projects while also taking care of individual user's needs. The book focuses on strategies to help with daily tasks that will also allow you to handle the critical situations that inevitably require your attention. You'll learn how to manage interruptions, eliminate time wasters, keep an effective calendar, develop routines and prioritize, stay focused on the task at hand and document/automate to speed processes.
The Practice of System and Network Administration, 3rd Edition introduces beginners to advanced frameworks while serving as a guide to best practices in system administration that is helpful for even the most advanced experts. Organized into four major sections that build from the foundational elements of system administration through improved techniques for upgrades and change management to exploring assorted management topics. Covers the basics and then moves onto the advanced things that can be built on top of those basics to wield real power and execute difficult projects.
Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Third Edition is designed to teach you PowerShell in a month's worth of 1-hour lessons. This updated edition covers PowerShell features that run on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later, PowerShell v3 and later, and it includes v5 features like PowerShellGet. For PowerShell v3 and up, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and later.
Troubleshooting with the Windows Sysinternals Tools is a guide to the powerful Sysinternals tools for diagnosing and troubleshooting issues. Sysinternals creator Mark Russinovich and Windows expert Aaron Margosis provide a deep understanding of Windows core concepts that aren’t well-documented elsewhere along with details on how to use Sysinternals tools to optimize any Windows system’s reliability, efficiency, performance and security. Includes an explanation of Sysinternals capabilities, details on each major tool, and examples of how the tools can be used to solve real-world cases involving error messages, hangs, sluggishness, malware infections and more.
DNS and BIND, 5th Ed. explains how to work with the Internet's distributed host information database—which is responsible for translating names into addresses, routing mail to its proper destination, and listing phone numbers according to the ENUM standard. Covers BIND 9.3.2 & 8.4.7, the what/how/why of DNS, name servers, MX records, subdividing domains (parenting), DNSSEC, TSIG, troubleshooting and more. PEPCK tells us this is "generally considered the DNS reference book (aside from the RFCs of course!)"
Windows PowerShell in Action, 3rd Ed. is a comprehensive guide to PowerShell. Written by language designer Bruce Payette and MVP Richard Siddaway, this volume gives a great introduction to Powershell, including everyday use cases and detailed examples for more-advanced topics like performance and module architecture. Covers workflows and classes, writing modules and scripts, desired state configuration and programming APIs/pipelines.This edition has been updated for PowerShell v6.
Zero Trust Networks: Building Secure Systems in Untrusted Networks explains the principles behind zero trust architecture, along with what's needed to implement it. Covers the evolution of perimeter-based defenses and how they evolved into the current broken model, case studies of zero trust in production networks on both the client and server side, example configurations for open-source tools that are useful for building a zero trust network and how to migrate from a perimeter-based network to a zero trust network in production. Kindly recommended by jaginfosec.
Tips
Here are a couple handy Windows shortcuts:
Here's a shortcut for a 4-pane explorer in Windows without installing 3rd-party software:
(Keep the win key down for the arrows, and no pauses.) Appreciation goes to ZAFJB for this one.
Our recent tip for a shortcut to get a 4-pane explorer in Windows, triggered this suggestion from SevaraB: "You can do that for an even larger grid of Windows by right-clicking the clock in the taskbar, and clicking 'Show windows side by side' to arrange them neatly. Did this for 4 rows of 6 windows when I had to have a quick 'n' dirty "video wall" of windows monitoring servers at our branches." ZAFJB adds that it actually works when you right-click "anywhere on the taskbar, except application icons or start button."
This tip comes courtesy of shipsass: "When I need to use Windows Explorer but I don't want to take my hands off the keyboard, I press Windows-E to launch Explorer and then Ctrl-L to jump to the address line and type my path. The Ctrl-L trick also works with any web browser, and it's an efficient way of talking less-technical people through instructions when 'browse to [location]' stumps them."
Clear browser history/cookies by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-DELETE on most major browsers. Thanks go to synapticpanda, who adds that this "saves me so much time when troubleshooting web apps where I am playing with the cache and such."
To rename a file with F2, while still editing the name of that file: Hit TAB to tab into the renaming of the next file. Thanks to abeeftaco for this one!
Alt-D is a reliable alternative to Ctrl-L for jumping to the address line in a browser. Thanks for this one go to fencepost_ajm, who explains: "Ctrl-L comes from the browser side as a shortcut for Location, Alt-D from the Windows Explorer side for Directory."
Browser shortcut: When typing a URL that ends with dot com, Ctrl + Enter will place the ".com" and take you to the page. Thanks to wpierre for this one!
This tip comes from anynonus, as something that daily that saves a few clicks: "Running a program with ctrl + shift + enter from start menu will start it as administrator (alt + y will select YES to run as admin) ... my user account is local admin [so] I don't feel like that is unsafe"
Building on our PowerShell resources, we received the following suggestion from halbaradkenafin: aka.ms/pskoans is "a way to learn PowerShell using PowerShell (and Pester). It's really cool and a bunch of folks have high praise for it (including a few teams within MSFT)."
Keyboard shortcut: If you already have an application open, hold ctrl + shift and middle click on the application in your task bar to open another instance as admin. Thanks go to Polymira for this one.
Remote Server Tip: "Critical advice. When testing out network configuration changes, prior to restarting the networking service or rebooting, always create a cron job that will restore your original network configuration and then reboot/restart networking on the machine after 5 minutes. If your config worked, you have enough time to remove it. If it didn't, it will fix itself. This is a beautifully simple solution that I learned from my old mentor at my very first job. I've held on to it for a long time." Thanks go to FrigidNox for the tip!
Websites
Deployment Research is the website of Johan Arwidmark, MS MVP in System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management. It is dedicated to sharing information and guidance around System Center, OS deployment, migration and more. The author shares tips and tricks to help improve the quality of IT Pros’ daily work.
Next of Windows is a website on (mostly) Microsoft-related technology. It's the place where Kent Chen—a computer veteran with many years of field experience—and Jonathan Hu—a web/mobile app developer and self-described "cool geek"—share what they know, what they learn and what they find in the hope of helping others learn and benefit.
High Scalability brings together all the relevant information about building scalable websites in one place. Because building a website with confidence requires a body of knowledge that can be slow to develop, the site focuses on moving visitors along the learning curve at a faster pace.
Information Technology Research Library is a great resource for IT-related research, white papers, reports, case studies, magazines, and eBooks. This library is provided at no charge by TradePub.com. GullibleDetective tells us it offers "free PDF files from a WIIIIIIDE variety of topics, not even just IT. Only caveat: as its a vendor-supported publishing company, you will have to give them a bit of information such as name, email address and possibly a company name. You undoubtedly have the ability to create fake information on this, mind you. The articles range from Excel templates, learning python, powershell, nosql etc. to converged architecture."
SS64 is a web-based reference guide for syntax and examples of the most-common database and OS computing commands. Recommended by Petti-The-Yeti, who adds, "I use this site all the time to look up commands and find examples while I'm building CMD and PS1 scripts."
Phishing and Malware Reporting. This website helps you put a stop to scams by getting fraudulent pages blocked. Easily report phishing webpages so they can be added to blacklists in as little as 15 minutes of your report. "Player024 tells us, "I highly recommend anyone in the industry to bookmark this page...With an average of about 10 minutes of work, I'm usually able to take down the phishing pages we receive thanks to the links posted on that website."
A Slack Channel
Windows Admin Slack is a great drive-by resource for the Windows sysadmin. This team has 33 public channels in total that cover different areas of helpful content on Windows administration.
Blogs
KC's Blog is the place where Microsoft MVP and web developer Kent Chen shares his IT insights and discoveries. The rather large library of posts offer helpful hints, how-tos, resources and news of interest to those in the Windows world.
The Windows Server Daily is the ever-current blog of technologist Katherine Moss, VP of open source & community engagement for StormlightTech. Offers brief daily posts on topics related to Windows server, Windows 10 and Administration.
An Infosec Slideshow
This security training slideshow was created for use during a quarterly infosec class. The content is offered generously by shalafi71, who adds, "Take this as a skeleton and flesh it out on your own. Take an hour or two and research the things I talk about. Tailor this to your own environment and users. Make it relevant to your people. Include corporate stories, include your audience, exclude yourself. This ain't about how smart you are at infosec, and I can't stress this enough, talk about how people can defend themselves. Give them things to look for and action they can take. No one gives a shit about your firewall rules."
Tech Tutorials
Tutorialspoint Library. This large collection of tech tutorials is a great resource for online learning. You'll find nearly 150 high-quality tutorials covering a wide array of languages and topics—from fundamentals to cutting-edge technologies. For example, this Powershell tutorial is designed for those with practical experience handling Windows-based Servers who want to learn how to install and use Windows Server 2012.
The Python Tutorial is a nice introduction to many of Python’s best features, enabling you to read and write Python modules and programs. It offers an understanding of the language's style and prepares you to learn more about the various Python library modules described in 'The Python Standard Library.' Kindly suggested by sharjeelsayed.
SysAdmin Humor
Day in the Life of a SysAdmin Episode 5: Lunch Break is an amusing look at a SysAdmin's attempt to take a brief lunch break. We imagine many of you can relate!
Have a fantastic week and as usual, let me know any comments or suggestions.
u/crispyducks
submitted by crispyducks to sysadmin [link] [comments]

Tools & Info for MSPs #2 - Mega List of Tips, Tools, Books, Blogs & More

(continued from part #1)
Unlocker is a tool to help delete those irritating locked files that give you an error message like "cannot delete file" or "access is denied." It helps with killing processes, unloading DLLs, deleting index.dat files, as well as unlocking, deleting, renaming, and moving locked files—typically without requiring a reboot.
IIS Crypto's newest version adds advanced settings; registry backup; new, simpler templates; support for Windows Server 2019 and more. This tool lets you enable or disable protocols, ciphers, hashes and key exchange algorithms on Windows and reorder SSL/TLS cipher suites from IIS, change advanced settings, implement best practices with a single click, create custom templates and test your website. Available in both command line and GUI versions.
RocketDock is an application launcher with a clean interface that lets you drag/drop shortcuts for easy access and minimize windows to the dock. Features running application indicators, multi-monitor support, alpha-blended PNG and ICO icons, auto-hide and popup on mouse over, positioning and layering options. Fully customizable, portable, and compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher and Y'z Dock skins. Works even on slower computers and is Unicode compliant. Suggested by lieutenantcigarette: "If you like the dock on MacOS but prefer to use Windows, RocketDock has you covered. A superb and highly customisable dock that you can add your favourites to for easy and elegant access."
Baby FTP Server offers only the basics, but with the power to serve as a foundation for a more-complex server. Features include multi-threading, a real-time server log, support for PASV and non-PASV mode, ability to set permissions for download/upload/rename/delete/create directory. Only allows anonymous connections. Our thanks to FatherPrax for suggesting this one.
Strace is a Linux diagnostic, debugging and instructional userspace tool with a traditional command-line interface. Uses the ptrace kernel feature to monitor and tamper with interactions between processes and the kernel, including system calls, signal deliveries and changes of process state.
exa is a small, fast replacement for ls with more features and better defaults. It uses colors to distinguish file types and metadata, and it recognizes symlinks, extended attributes and Git. All in one single binary. phils_lab describes it as "'ls' on steroids, written in Rust."
rsync is a faster file transfer program for Unix to bring remote files into sync. It sends just the differences in the files across the link, without requiring both sets of files to be present at one of the ends. Suggested by zorinlynx, who adds that "rsync is GODLY for moving data around efficiently. And if an rsync is interrupted, just run it again."
Matter Wiki is a simple WYSIWYG wiki that can help teams store and collaborate. Every article gets filed under a topic, transparently, so you can tell who made what changes to which document and when. Thanks to bciar-iwdc for the recommendation.
LockHunter is a file unlocking tool that enables you to delete files that are being blocked for unknown reasons. Can be useful for fighting malware and other programs that are causing trouble. Deletes files into the recycle bin so you can restore them if necessary. Chucky2401 finds it preferable to Unlocker, "since I am on Windows 7. There are no new updates since July 2017, but the last beta was in June of this year."
aria2 is a lightweight multi-source command-line download utility that supports HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, BitTorrent and Metalink. It can be manipulated via built-in JSON-RPC and XML-RPC interfaces. Recommended by jftuga, who appreciates it as a "cross-platform command line downloader (similar to wget or curl), but with the -x option can run a segmented download of a single file to increase throughput."
Free Services
Temp-Mail allows you to receive email at a temporary address that self-destructs after a certain period of time. Outwit all the forums, Wi-Fi owners, websites and blogs that insist you register to use them. Petti-The-Yeti says, "I don't give any company my direct email anymore. If I want to trial something but they ask for an email signup, I just grab a temporary email from here, sign up with it, and wait for the trial link or license info to come through. Then, you just download the file and close the website."
Duck DNS will point a DNS (sub domains of duckdns.org) to an IP of your choice. DDNS is a handy way for you to refer to a serverouter with an easily rememberable name for situations when the server's ip address will likely change. Suggested by xgnarf, who finds it "so much better for the free tier of noip—no 30-day nag to keep your host up."
Joe Sandbox detects and analyzes potential malicious files and URLs on Windows, Android, Mac OS, Linux and iOS for suspicious activities. It performs deep malware analysis and generates comprehensive and detailed reports. The Community Edition of Joe Sandbox Cloud allows you to run a maximum of 6 analyses per month, 3 per day on Windows, Linux and Android with limited analysis output. This one is from dangibbons94, who wanted to "share this cool service ... for malware analysis. I usually use Virus total for URL scanning, but this goes a lot more in depth. I just used basic analysis, which is free and enough for my needs."
Hybrid Analysis is a malware analysis service that detects and analyzes unknown threats for the community. This one was suggested by compupheonix, who adds that it "gets you super detailed reports... it's about the most fleshed out and detailed one I can find."
JustBeamIt is a file-transfer service that allows you to send files of any size via a peer-to-peer streaming model. Simply drag and drop your file and specify the recipient's email address. They will then receive a link that will trigger the download directly from your computer, so the file does not have to be uploaded to the service itself. The link is good for one download and expires after 10 minutes. Thanks to cooljacob204sfw for the recommendation!
ShieldsUP is a quick but powerful internet security checkup and information service. It was created by security researcher Steve Gibson to scan ports and let you know which ones have been opened through your firewalls or NAT routers.
Firefox Send is an encrypted file transfer service that allows you to share files up to 2.5GB from any browser or an Android app. Uses end-to-end encryption to keep data secure and offers security controls you can set. You can determine when your file link expires, the number of downloads, and whether to add a password. Your recipient receives a link to download the file, and they don’t need a Firefox account. This one comes from DePingus, who appreciates the focus on privacy. "They have E2E, expiring links, and a clear privacy policy."
Free DNS is a service where programmers share domain names with one another at no cost. Offers free hosting as well as dynamic DNS, static DNS, subdomain and domain hosting. They can host your domain's DNS as well as allowing you to register hostnames from domains they're hosting already. If you don't have a domain, you can sign up for a free account and create up to 5 subdomains off the domains others have contributed and point these hosts anywhere on the Internet. Thanks to 0x000000000000004C (yes, that's a username) for the suggestion!
ANY.RUN is an interactive malware analysis service for dynamic and static research of the majority of threats in any environment. It can provide a convenient in-depth analysis of new, unidentified malicious objects and help with the investigation of incidents. ImAshtonTurner appreciates it as "a great sandbox tool for viewing malware, etc."
Plik is a scalable, temporary file upload system similar to wetransfer that is written in golang. Thanks go to I_eat_Narwhals for this one!
Free My IP offers free, dynamic DNS. This service comes with no login, no ads, no newsletters, no links to click and no hassle. Kindly suggested by Jack of All Trades.
Mailinator provides free, temporary email inboxes on a receive-only, attachment-free system that requires no sign-up. All @mailinator.com addresses are public, readable and discoverable by anyone at any time—but are automatically deleted after a few hours. Can be a nice option for times when you to give out an address that won't be accessible longterm. Recommended by nachomountain, who's been using it "for years."
Magic Wormhole is a service for sending files directly with no intermediate upload, no web interface and no login. When both parties are online you with the minimal software installed, the wormhole is invoked via command line identifying the file you want to send. The server then provides a speakable, one-time-use password that you give the recipient. When they enter that password in their wormhole console, key exchange occurs and the download begins directly between your computers. rjohnson99 explains, "Magic Wormhole is sort of like JustBeamIt but is open-source and is built on Python. I use it a lot on Linux servers."
EveryCloud's Free Phish is our own, new Phishing Simulator. Once you've filled in the form and logged in, you can choose from lots of email templates (many of which we've coped from what we see in our Email Security business) and landing pages. Run a one-off free phish, then see who clicked or submitted data so you can understand where your organization is vulnerable and act accordingly.
Hardening Guides
CIS Hardening Guides contain the system security benchmarks developed by a global community of cybersecurity experts. Over 140 configuration guidelines are provided to help safeguard systems against threats. Recommended by cyanghost109 "to get a start on looking at hardening your own systems."
Podcasts
Daily Tech News is Tom Merrit's show covering the latest tech issues with some of the top experts in the field. With the focus on daily tech news and analysis, it's a great way to stay current. Thanks to EmoPolarbear for drawing it to our attention.
This Week in Enterprise Tech is a podcast that features IT experts explaining the complicated details of cutting-edge enterprise technology. Join host Lou Maresca on this informative exploration of enterprise solutions, with new episodes recorded every Friday afternoon.
Security Weekly is a podcast where a "bunch of security nerds" get together and talk shop. Topics are greatly varied, and the atmosphere is relaxed and conversational. The show typically tops out at 2 hours, which is perfect for those with a long commute. If you’re fascinated by discussion of deep technical and security-related topics, this may be a nice addition to your podcast repertoire.
Grumpy Old Geeks—What Went Wrong on the Internet and Who's To Blame is a podcast about the internet, technology and geek culture—among other things. The hosts bring their grumpy brand of humor to the "state of the world as they see it" in these roughly hour-long weekly episodes. Recommended by mkaxsnyder, who enjoys it because, "They are a good team that talk about recent and relevant topics from an IT perspective."
The Social-Engineer Podcast is a monthly discussion among the hosts—a group of security experts from SEORG—and a diverse assortment of guests. Topics focus around human behavior and how it affects information security, with new episodes released on the second Monday of every month. Thanks to MrAshRhodes for the suggestion.
The CyberWire podcasts discuss what's happening in cyberspace, providing news and commentary from industry experts. This cyber security-focused news service delivers concise, accessible, and relevant content without the gossip, sensationalism, and the marketing buzz that often distract from the stories that really matter. Appreciation to supermicromainboard for the suggestion.
Malicious Life is a podcast that tells the fascinating—and often unknown—stories of the wildest hacks you can ever imagine. Host Ran Levi, a cybersecurity expert and author, talks with the people who were actually involved to reveal the history of each event in depth. Our appreciation goes to peraphon for the recommendation.
The Broadcast Storm is a podcast for Cisco networking professionals. BluePieceOfPaper suggests it "for people studying for their CCNA/NP. Kevin Wallace is a CCIE Collaboration so he knows his *ishk. Good format for learning too. Most podcasts are about 8-15 mins long and its 'usually' an exam topic. It will be something like "HSPR" but instead of just explaining it super boring like Ben Stein reading a powerpoint, he usually goes into a story about how (insert time in his career) HSPR would have been super useful..."
Software Engineering Radio is a podcast for developers who are looking for an educational resource with original content that isn't recycled from other venues. Consists of conversations on relevant topics with experts from the software engineering world, with new episodes released three to four times per month. a9JDvXLWHumjaC tells us this is "a solid podcast for devs."
Books
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is a comprehensive technical guide designed to help you optimize Microsoft's Configuration Manager 2012 according to your requirements and then to deploy and use it successfully. This methodical, step-by-step reference covers: the intentions behind the product and its role in the broader System Center product suite; planning, design, and implementation; and details on each of the most-important feature sets. Learn how to leverage the user-centric capabilities to provide anytime/anywhere services & software, while strengthening control and improving compliance.
Network Warrior: Everything You Need to Know That Wasn’t on the CCNA Exam is a practical guide to network infrastructure. Provides an in-depth view of routers and routing, switching (with Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches as examples), SOHO VoIP and SOHO wireless access point design and configuration, introduction to IPv6 with configuration examples, telecom technologies in the data-networking world (including T1, DS3, frame relay, and MPLS), security, firewall theory and configuration, ACL and authentication, Quality of Service (QoS), with an emphasis on low-latency queuing (LLQ), IP address allocation, Network Time Protocol (NTP) and device failures.
Beginning the Linux Command Line is your ally in mastering Linux from the keyboard. It is intended for system administrators, software developers, and enthusiastic users who want a guide that will be useful for most distributions—i.e., all items have been checked against Ubuntu, Red Hat and SUSE. Addresses administering users and security and deploying firewalls. Updated to the latest versions of Linux to cover files and directories, including the Btrfs file system and its management and systemd boot procedure and firewall management with firewalld.
Modern Operating Systems, 4th Ed. is written for students taking intro courses on Operating Systems and for those who want an OS reference guide for work. The author, an OS researcher, includes both the latest materials on relevant operating systems as well as current research. The previous edition of Modern Operating Systems received the 2010 McGuffey Longevity Award that recognizes textbooks for excellence over time.
Time Management for System Administrators is a guide for organizing your approach to this challenging role in a way that improves your results. Bestselling author Thomas Limoncelli offers a collection of tips and techniques for navigating the competing goals and concurrent responsibilities that go along with working on large projects while also taking care of individual user's needs. The book focuses on strategies to help with daily tasks that will also allow you to handle the critical situations that inevitably require your attention. You'll learn how to manage interruptions, eliminate time wasters, keep an effective calendar, develop routines and prioritize, stay focused on the task at hand and document/automate to speed processes.
The Practice of System and Network Administration, 3rd Edition introduces beginners to advanced frameworks while serving as a guide to best practices in system administration that is helpful for even the most advanced experts. Organized into four major sections that build from the foundational elements of system administration through improved techniques for upgrades and change management to exploring assorted management topics. Covers the basics and then moves onto the advanced things that can be built on top of those basics to wield real power and execute difficult projects.
Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Third Edition is designed to teach you PowerShell in a month's worth of 1-hour lessons. This updated edition covers PowerShell features that run on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later, PowerShell v3 and later, and it includes v5 features like PowerShellGet. For PowerShell v3 and up, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and later.
Troubleshooting with the Windows Sysinternals Tools is a guide to the powerful Sysinternals tools for diagnosing and troubleshooting issues. Sysinternals creator Mark Russinovich and Windows expert Aaron Margosis provide a deep understanding of Windows core concepts that aren’t well-documented elsewhere along with details on how to use Sysinternals tools to optimize any Windows system’s reliability, efficiency, performance and security. Includes an explanation of Sysinternals capabilities, details on each major tool, and examples of how the tools can be used to solve real-world cases involving error messages, hangs, sluggishness, malware infections and more.
DNS and BIND, 5th Ed. explains how to work with the Internet's distributed host information database—which is responsible for translating names into addresses, routing mail to its proper destination, and listing phone numbers according to the ENUM standard. Covers BIND 9.3.2 & 8.4.7, the what/how/why of DNS, name servers, MX records, subdividing domains (parenting), DNSSEC, TSIG, troubleshooting and more. PEPCK tells us this is "generally considered the DNS reference book (aside from the RFCs of course!)"
Windows PowerShell in Action, 3rd Ed. is a comprehensive guide to PowerShell. Written by language designer Bruce Payette and MVP Richard Siddaway, this volume gives a great introduction to Powershell, including everyday use cases and detailed examples for more-advanced topics like performance and module architecture. Covers workflows and classes, writing modules and scripts, desired state configuration and programming APIs/pipelines.This edition has been updated for PowerShell v6.
Zero Trust Networks: Building Secure Systems in Untrusted Networks explains the principles behind zero trust architecture, along with what's needed to implement it. Covers the evolution of perimeter-based defenses and how they evolved into the current broken model, case studies of zero trust in production networks on both the client and server side, example configurations for open-source tools that are useful for building a zero trust network and how to migrate from a perimeter-based network to a zero trust network in production. Kindly recommended by jaginfosec.
Tips
Here are a couple handy Windows shortcuts:
Here's a shortcut for a 4-pane explorer in Windows without installing 3rd-party software:
(Keep the win key down for the arrows, and no pauses.) Appreciation goes to ZAFJB for this one.
Our recent tip for a shortcut to get a 4-pane explorer in Windows, triggered this suggestion from SevaraB: "You can do that for an even larger grid of Windows by right-clicking the clock in the taskbar, and clicking 'Show windows side by side' to arrange them neatly. Did this for 4 rows of 6 windows when I had to have a quick 'n' dirty "video wall" of windows monitoring servers at our branches." ZAFJB adds that it actually works when you right-click "anywhere on the taskbar, except application icons or start button."
This tip comes courtesy of shipsass: "When I need to use Windows Explorer but I don't want to take my hands off the keyboard, I press Windows-E to launch Explorer and then Ctrl-L to jump to the address line and type my path. The Ctrl-L trick also works with any web browser, and it's an efficient way of talking less-technical people through instructions when 'browse to [location]' stumps them."
Clear browser history/cookies by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-DELETE on most major browsers. Thanks go to synapticpanda, who adds that this "saves me so much time when troubleshooting web apps where I am playing with the cache and such."
To rename a file with F2, while still editing the name of that file: Hit TAB to tab into the renaming of the next file. Thanks to abeeftaco for this one!
Alt-D is a reliable alternative to Ctrl-L for jumping to the address line in a browser. Thanks for this one go to fencepost_ajm, who explains: "Ctrl-L comes from the browser side as a shortcut for Location, Alt-D from the Windows Explorer side for Directory."
Browser shortcut: When typing a URL that ends with dot com, Ctrl + Enter will place the ".com" and take you to the page. Thanks to wpierre for this one!
This tip comes from anynonus, as something that daily that saves a few clicks: "Running a program with ctrl + shift + enter from start menu will start it as administrator (alt + y will select YES to run as admin) ... my user account is local admin [so] I don't feel like that is unsafe"
Building on our PowerShell resources, we received the following suggestion from halbaradkenafin: aka.ms/pskoans is "a way to learn PowerShell using PowerShell (and Pester). It's really cool and a bunch of folks have high praise for it (including a few teams within MSFT)."
Keyboard shortcut: If you already have an application open, hold ctrl + shift and middle click on the application in your task bar to open another instance as admin. Thanks go to Polymira for this one.
Remote Server Tip: "Critical advice. When testing out network configuration changes, prior to restarting the networking service or rebooting, always create a cron job that will restore your original network configuration and then reboot/restart networking on the machine after 5 minutes. If your config worked, you have enough time to remove it. If it didn't, it will fix itself. This is a beautifully simple solution that I learned from my old mentor at my very first job. I've held on to it for a long time." Thanks go to FrigidNox for the tip!
Websites
Deployment Research is the website of Johan Arwidmark, MS MVP in System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management. It is dedicated to sharing information and guidance around System Center, OS deployment, migration and more. The author shares tips and tricks to help improve the quality of IT Pros’ daily work.
Next of Windows is a website on (mostly) Microsoft-related technology. It's the place where Kent Chen—a computer veteran with many years of field experience—and Jonathan Hu—a web/mobile app developer and self-described "cool geek"—share what they know, what they learn and what they find in the hope of helping others learn and benefit.
High Scalability brings together all the relevant information about building scalable websites in one place. Because building a website with confidence requires a body of knowledge that can be slow to develop, the site focuses on moving visitors along the learning curve at a faster pace.
Information Technology Research Library is a great resource for IT-related research, white papers, reports, case studies, magazines, and eBooks. This library is provided at no charge by TradePub.com. GullibleDetective tells us it offers "free PDF files from a WIIIIIIDE variety of topics, not even just IT. Only caveat: as its a vendor-supported publishing company, you will have to give them a bit of information such as name, email address and possibly a company name. You undoubtedly have the ability to create fake information on this, mind you. The articles range from Excel templates, learning python, powershell, nosql etc. to converged architecture."
SS64 is a web-based reference guide for syntax and examples of the most-common database and OS computing commands. Recommended by Petti-The-Yeti, who adds, "I use this site all the time to look up commands and find examples while I'm building CMD and PS1 scripts."
Phishing and Malware Reporting. This website helps you put a stop to scams by getting fraudulent pages blocked. Easily report phishing webpages so they can be added to blacklists in as little as 15 minutes of your report. "Player024 tells us, "I highly recommend anyone in the industry to bookmark this page...With an average of about 10 minutes of work, I'm usually able to take down the phishing pages we receive thanks to the links posted on that website."
A Slack Channel
Windows Admin Slack is a great drive-by resource for the Windows sysadmin. This team has 33 public channels in total that cover different areas of helpful content on Windows administration.
Blogs
KC's Blog is the place where Microsoft MVP and web developer Kent Chen shares his IT insights and discoveries. The rather large library of posts offer helpful hints, how-tos, resources and news of interest to those in the Windows world.
The Windows Server Daily is the ever-current blog of technologist Katherine Moss, VP of open source & community engagement for StormlightTech. Offers brief daily posts on topics related to Windows server, Windows 10 and Administration.
An Infosec Slideshow
This security training slideshow was created for use during a quarterly infosec class. The content is offered generously by shalafi71, who adds, "Take this as a skeleton and flesh it out on your own. Take an hour or two and research the things I talk about. Tailor this to your own environment and users. Make it relevant to your people. Include corporate stories, include your audience, exclude yourself. This ain't about how smart you are at infosec, and I can't stress this enough, talk about how people can defend themselves. Give them things to look for and action they can take. No one gives a shit about your firewall rules."
Tech Tutorials
Tutorialspoint Library. This large collection of tech tutorials is a great resource for online learning. You'll find nearly 150 high-quality tutorials covering a wide array of languages and topics—from fundamentals to cutting-edge technologies. For example, this Powershell tutorial is designed for those with practical experience handling Windows-based Servers who want to learn how to install and use Windows Server 2012.
The Python Tutorial is a nice introduction to many of Python’s best features, enabling you to read and write Python modules and programs. It offers an understanding of the language's style and prepares you to learn more about the various Python library modules described in 'The Python Standard Library.' Kindly suggested by sharjeelsayed.
SysAdmin Humor
Day in the Life of a SysAdmin Episode 5: Lunch Break is an amusing look at a SysAdmin's attempt to take a brief lunch break. We imagine many of you can relate!
Have a fantastic week and as usual, let me know any comments.
Graham | CEO | EveryCloud
Fyi - I've set up a subreddit /itprotuesday, where we feature / encourage posts of some additional tools, tips etc. throughout the week. Pop over and subscribe if you’re interested.
submitted by crispyducks to msp [link] [comments]

IT Pro Tuesday #64 (part 2) - Mega List of Tips, Tools, Books, Blogs & More

(continued from part 1)
Captura is a flexible tool for capturing your screen, audio, cursor, mouse clicks and keystrokes. Features include mixing audio recorded from microphone and speaker output, command-line interface, and configurable hotkeys. Thanks to jantari for the recommedation.
Unlocker is a tool to help delete those irritating locked files that give you an error message like "cannot delete file" or "access is denied." It helps with killing processes, unloading DLLs, deleting index.dat files, as well as unlocking, deleting, renaming, and moving locked files—typically without requiring a reboot.
IIS Crypto's newest version adds advanced settings; registry backup; new, simpler templates; support for Windows Server 2019 and more. This tool lets you enable or disable protocols, ciphers, hashes and key exchange algorithms on Windows and reorder SSL/TLS cipher suites from IIS, change advanced settings, implement best practices with a single click, create custom templates and test your website. Available in both command line and GUI versions.
RocketDock is an application launcher with a clean interface that lets you drag/drop shortcuts for easy access and minimize windows to the dock. Features running application indicators, multi-monitor support, alpha-blended PNG and ICO icons, auto-hide and popup on mouse over, positioning and layering options. Fully customizable, portable, and compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher and Y'z Dock skins. Works even on slower computers and is Unicode compliant. Suggested by lieutenantcigarette: "If you like the dock on MacOS but prefer to use Windows, RocketDock has you covered. A superb and highly customisable dock that you can add your favourites to for easy and elegant access."
Baby FTP Server offers only the basics, but with the power to serve as a foundation for a more-complex server. Features include multi-threading, a real-time server log, support for PASV and non-PASV mode, ability to set permissions for download/upload/rename/delete/create directory. Only allows anonymous connections. Our thanks to FatherPrax for suggesting this one.
Strace is a Linux diagnostic, debugging and instructional userspace tool with a traditional command-line interface. Uses the ptrace kernel feature to monitor and tamper with interactions between processes and the kernel, including system calls, signal deliveries and changes of process state.
exa is a small, fast replacement for ls with more features and better defaults. It uses colors to distinguish file types and metadata, and it recognizes symlinks, extended attributes and Git. All in one single binary. phils_lab describes it as "'ls' on steroids, written in Rust."
rsync is a faster file transfer program for Unix to bring remote files into sync. It sends just the differences in the files across the link, without requiring both sets of files to be present at one of the ends. Suggested by zorinlynx, who adds that "rsync is GODLY for moving data around efficiently. And if an rsync is interrupted, just run it again."
Matter Wiki is a simple WYSIWYG wiki that can help teams store and collaborate. Every article gets filed under a topic, transparently, so you can tell who made what changes to which document and when. Thanks to bciar-iwdc for the recommendation.
LockHunter is a file unlocking tool that enables you to delete files that are being blocked for unknown reasons. Can be useful for fighting malware and other programs that are causing trouble. Deletes files into the recycle bin so you can restore them if necessary. Chucky2401 finds it preferable to Unlocker, "since I am on Windows 7. There are no new updates since July 2017, but the last beta was in June of this year."
aria2 is a lightweight multi-source command-line download utility that supports HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, BitTorrent and Metalink. It can be manipulated via built-in JSON-RPC and XML-RPC interfaces. Recommended by jftuga, who appreciates it as a "cross-platform command line downloader (similar to wget or curl), but with the -x option can run a segmented download of a single file to increase throughput."
Free Services
Temp-Mail allows you to receive email at a temporary address that self-destructs after a certain period of time. Outwit all the forums, Wi-Fi owners, websites and blogs that insist you register to use them. Petti-The-Yeti says, "I don't give any company my direct email anymore. If I want to trial something but they ask for an email signup, I just grab a temporary email from here, sign up with it, and wait for the trial link or license info to come through. Then, you just download the file and close the website."
Duck DNS will point a DNS (sub domains of duckdns.org) to an IP of your choice. DDNS is a handy way for you to refer to a serverouter with an easily rememberable name for situations when the server's ip address will likely change. Suggested by xgnarf, who finds it "so much better for the free tier of noip—no 30-day nag to keep your host up."
Joe Sandbox detects and analyzes potential malicious files and URLs on Windows, Android, Mac OS, Linux and iOS for suspicious activities. It performs deep malware analysis and generates comprehensive and detailed reports. The Community Edition of Joe Sandbox Cloud allows you to run a maximum of 6 analyses per month, 3 per day on Windows, Linux and Android with limited analysis output. This one is from dangibbons94, who wanted to "share this cool service ... for malware analysis. I usually use Virus total for URL scanning, but this goes a lot more in depth. I just used basic analysis, which is free and enough for my needs."
Hybrid Analysis is a malware analysis service that detects and analyzes unknown threats for the community. This one was suggested by compupheonix, who adds that it "gets you super detailed reports... it's about the most fleshed out and detailed one I can find."
JustBeamIt is a file-transfer service that allows you to send files of any size via a peer-to-peer streaming model. Simply drag and drop your file and specify the recipient's email address. They will then receive a link that will trigger the download directly from your computer, so the file does not have to be uploaded to the service itself. The link is good for one download and expires after 10 minutes. Thanks to cooljacob204sfw for the recommendation!
ShieldsUP is a quick but powerful internet security checkup and information service. It was created by security researcher Steve Gibson to scan ports and let you know which ones have been opened through your firewalls or NAT routers.
Firefox Send is an encrypted file transfer service that allows you to share files up to 2.5GB from any browser or an Android app. Uses end-to-end encryption to keep data secure and offers security controls you can set. You can determine when your file link expires, the number of downloads, and whether to add a password. Your recipient receives a link to download the file, and they don’t need a Firefox account. This one comes from DePingus, who appreciates the focus on privacy. "They have E2E, expiring links, and a clear privacy policy."
Free DNS is a service where programmers share domain names with one another at no cost. Offers free hosting as well as dynamic DNS, static DNS, subdomain and domain hosting. They can host your domain's DNS as well as allowing you to register hostnames from domains they're hosting already. If you don't have a domain, you can sign up for a free account and create up to 5 subdomains off the domains others have contributed and point these hosts anywhere on the Internet. Thanks to 0x000000000000004C (yes, that's a username) for the suggestion!
ANY.RUN is an interactive malware analysis service for dynamic and static research of the majority of threats in any environment. It can provide a convenient in-depth analysis of new, unidentified malicious objects and help with the investigation of incidents. ImAshtonTurner appreciates it as "a great sandbox tool for viewing malware, etc."
Plik is a scalable, temporary file upload system similar to wetransfer that is written in golang. Thanks go to I_eat_Narwhals for this one!
Free My IP offers free, dynamic DNS. This service comes with no login, no ads, no newsletters, no links to click and no hassle. Kindly suggested by Jack of All Trades.
Mailinator provides free, temporary email inboxes on a receive-only, attachment-free system that requires no sign-up. All @mailinator.com addresses are public, readable and discoverable by anyone at any time—but are automatically deleted after a few hours. Can be a nice option for times when you to give out an address that won't be accessible longterm. Recommended by nachomountain, who's been using it "for years."
Magic Wormhole is a service for sending files directly with no intermediate upload, no web interface and no login. When both parties are online you with the minimal software installed, the wormhole is invoked via command line identifying the file you want to send. The server then provides a speakable, one-time-use password that you give the recipient. When they enter that password in their wormhole console, key exchange occurs and the download begins directly between your computers. rjohnson99 explains, "Magic Wormhole is sort of like JustBeamIt but is open-source and is built on Python. I use it a lot on Linux servers."
EveryCloud's Free Phish is our own, new Phishing Simulator. Once you've filled in the form and logged in, you can choose from lots of email templates (many of which we've coped from what we see in our Email Security business) and landing pages. Run a one-off free phish, then see who clicked or submitted data so you can understand where your organization is vulnerable and act accordingly.
Hardening Guides
CIS Hardening Guides contain the system security benchmarks developed by a global community of cybersecurity experts. Over 140 configuration guidelines are provided to help safeguard systems against threats. Recommended by cyanghost109 "to get a start on looking at hardening your own systems."
Podcasts
Daily Tech News is Tom Merrit's show covering the latest tech issues with some of the top experts in the field. With the focus on daily tech news and analysis, it's a great way to stay current. Thanks to EmoPolarbear for drawing it to our attention.
This Week in Enterprise Tech is a podcast that features IT experts explaining the complicated details of cutting-edge enterprise technology. Join host Lou Maresca on this informative exploration of enterprise solutions, with new episodes recorded every Friday afternoon.
Security Weekly is a podcast where a "bunch of security nerds" get together and talk shop. Topics are greatly varied, and the atmosphere is relaxed and conversational. The show typically tops out at 2 hours, which is perfect for those with a long commute. If you’re fascinated by discussion of deep technical and security-related topics, this may be a nice addition to your podcast repertoire.
Grumpy Old Geeks—What Went Wrong on the Internet and Who's To Blame is a podcast about the internet, technology and geek culture—among other things. The hosts bring their grumpy brand of humor to the "state of the world as they see it" in these roughly hour-long weekly episodes. Recommended by mkaxsnyder, who enjoys it because, "They are a good team that talk about recent and relevant topics from an IT perspective."
The Social-Engineer Podcast is a monthly discussion among the hosts—a group of security experts from SEORG—and a diverse assortment of guests. Topics focus around human behavior and how it affects information security, with new episodes released on the second Monday of every month. Thanks to MrAshRhodes for the suggestion.
The CyberWire podcasts discuss what's happening in cyberspace, providing news and commentary from industry experts. This cyber security-focused news service delivers concise, accessible, and relevant content without the gossip, sensationalism, and the marketing buzz that often distract from the stories that really matter. Appreciation to supermicromainboard for the suggestion.
Malicious Life is a podcast that tells the fascinating—and often unknown—stories of the wildest hacks you can ever imagine. Host Ran Levi, a cybersecurity expert and author, talks with the people who were actually involved to reveal the history of each event in depth. Our appreciation goes to peraphon for the recommendation.
The Broadcast Storm is a podcast for Cisco networking professionals. BluePieceOfPaper suggests it "for people studying for their CCNA/NP. Kevin Wallace is a CCIE Collaboration so he knows his *ishk. Good format for learning too. Most podcasts are about 8-15 mins long and its 'usually' an exam topic. It will be something like "HSPR" but instead of just explaining it super boring like Ben Stein reading a powerpoint, he usually goes into a story about how (insert time in his career) HSPR would have been super useful..."
Software Engineering Radio is a podcast for developers who are looking for an educational resource with original content that isn't recycled from other venues. Consists of conversations on relevant topics with experts from the software engineering world, with new episodes released three to four times per month. a9JDvXLWHumjaC tells us this is "a solid podcast for devs."
Books
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is a comprehensive technical guide designed to help you optimize Microsoft's Configuration Manager 2012 according to your requirements and then to deploy and use it successfully. This methodical, step-by-step reference covers: the intentions behind the product and its role in the broader System Center product suite; planning, design, and implementation; and details on each of the most-important feature sets. Learn how to leverage the user-centric capabilities to provide anytime/anywhere services & software, while strengthening control and improving compliance.
Network Warrior: Everything You Need to Know That Wasn’t on the CCNA Exam is a practical guide to network infrastructure. Provides an in-depth view of routers and routing, switching (with Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches as examples), SOHO VoIP and SOHO wireless access point design and configuration, introduction to IPv6 with configuration examples, telecom technologies in the data-networking world (including T1, DS3, frame relay, and MPLS), security, firewall theory and configuration, ACL and authentication, Quality of Service (QoS), with an emphasis on low-latency queuing (LLQ), IP address allocation, Network Time Protocol (NTP) and device failures.
Beginning the Linux Command Line is your ally in mastering Linux from the keyboard. It is intended for system administrators, software developers, and enthusiastic users who want a guide that will be useful for most distributions—i.e., all items have been checked against Ubuntu, Red Hat and SUSE. Addresses administering users and security and deploying firewalls. Updated to the latest versions of Linux to cover files and directories, including the Btrfs file system and its management and systemd boot procedure and firewall management with firewalld.
Modern Operating Systems, 4th Ed. is written for students taking intro courses on Operating Systems and for those who want an OS reference guide for work. The author, an OS researcher, includes both the latest materials on relevant operating systems as well as current research. The previous edition of Modern Operating Systems received the 2010 McGuffey Longevity Award that recognizes textbooks for excellence over time.
Time Management for System Administrators is a guide for organizing your approach to this challenging role in a way that improves your results. Bestselling author Thomas Limoncelli offers a collection of tips and techniques for navigating the competing goals and concurrent responsibilities that go along with working on large projects while also taking care of individual user's needs. The book focuses on strategies to help with daily tasks that will also allow you to handle the critical situations that inevitably require your attention. You'll learn how to manage interruptions, eliminate time wasters, keep an effective calendar, develop routines and prioritize, stay focused on the task at hand and document/automate to speed processes.
The Practice of System and Network Administration, 3rd Edition introduces beginners to advanced frameworks while serving as a guide to best practices in system administration that is helpful for even the most advanced experts. Organized into four major sections that build from the foundational elements of system administration through improved techniques for upgrades and change management to exploring assorted management topics. Covers the basics and then moves onto the advanced things that can be built on top of those basics to wield real power and execute difficult projects.
Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Third Edition is designed to teach you PowerShell in a month's worth of 1-hour lessons. This updated edition covers PowerShell features that run on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later, PowerShell v3 and later, and it includes v5 features like PowerShellGet. For PowerShell v3 and up, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and later.
Troubleshooting with the Windows Sysinternals Tools is a guide to the powerful Sysinternals tools for diagnosing and troubleshooting issues. Sysinternals creator Mark Russinovich and Windows expert Aaron Margosis provide a deep understanding of Windows core concepts that aren’t well-documented elsewhere along with details on how to use Sysinternals tools to optimize any Windows system’s reliability, efficiency, performance and security. Includes an explanation of Sysinternals capabilities, details on each major tool, and examples of how the tools can be used to solve real-world cases involving error messages, hangs, sluggishness, malware infections and more.
DNS and BIND, 5th Ed. explains how to work with the Internet's distributed host information database—which is responsible for translating names into addresses, routing mail to its proper destination, and listing phone numbers according to the ENUM standard. Covers BIND 9.3.2 & 8.4.7, the what/how/why of DNS, name servers, MX records, subdividing domains (parenting), DNSSEC, TSIG, troubleshooting and more. PEPCK tells us this is "generally considered the DNS reference book (aside from the RFCs of course!)"
Windows PowerShell in Action, 3rd Ed. is a comprehensive guide to PowerShell. Written by language designer Bruce Payette and MVP Richard Siddaway, this volume gives a great introduction to Powershell, including everyday use cases and detailed examples for more-advanced topics like performance and module architecture. Covers workflows and classes, writing modules and scripts, desired state configuration and programming APIs/pipelines.This edition has been updated for PowerShell v6.
Zero Trust Networks: Building Secure Systems in Untrusted Networks explains the principles behind zero trust architecture, along with what's needed to implement it. Covers the evolution of perimeter-based defenses and how they evolved into the current broken model, case studies of zero trust in production networks on both the client and server side, example configurations for open-source tools that are useful for building a zero trust network and how to migrate from a perimeter-based network to a zero trust network in production. Kindly recommended by jaginfosec.
Tips
Here are a couple handy Windows shortcuts:
Here's a shortcut for a 4-pane explorer in Windows without installing 3rd-party software:
(Keep the win key down for the arrows, and no pauses.) Appreciation goes to ZAFJB for this one.
Our recent tip for a shortcut to get a 4-pane explorer in Windows, triggered this suggestion from SevaraB: "You can do that for an even larger grid of Windows by right-clicking the clock in the taskbar, and clicking 'Show windows side by side' to arrange them neatly. Did this for 4 rows of 6 windows when I had to have a quick 'n' dirty "video wall" of windows monitoring servers at our branches." ZAFJB adds that it actually works when you right-click "anywhere on the taskbar, except application icons or start button."
This tip comes courtesy of shipsass: "When I need to use Windows Explorer but I don't want to take my hands off the keyboard, I press Windows-E to launch Explorer and then Ctrl-L to jump to the address line and type my path. The Ctrl-L trick also works with any web browser, and it's an efficient way of talking less-technical people through instructions when 'browse to [location]' stumps them."
Clear browser history/cookies by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-DELETE on most major browsers. Thanks go to synapticpanda, who adds that this "saves me so much time when troubleshooting web apps where I am playing with the cache and such."
To rename a file with F2, while still editing the name of that file: Hit TAB to tab into the renaming of the next file. Thanks to abeeftaco for this one!
Alt-D is a reliable alternative to Ctrl-L for jumping to the address line in a browser. Thanks for this one go to fencepost_ajm, who explains: "Ctrl-L comes from the browser side as a shortcut for Location, Alt-D from the Windows Explorer side for Directory."
Browser shortcut: When typing a URL that ends with dot com, Ctrl + Enter will place the ".com" and take you to the page. Thanks to wpierre for this one!
This tip comes from anynonus, as something that daily that saves a few clicks: "Running a program with ctrl + shift + enter from start menu will start it as administrator (alt + y will select YES to run as admin) ... my user account is local admin [so] I don't feel like that is unsafe"
Building on our PowerShell resources, we received the following suggestion from halbaradkenafin: aka.ms/pskoans is "a way to learn PowerShell using PowerShell (and Pester). It's really cool and a bunch of folks have high praise for it (including a few teams within MSFT)."
Keyboard shortcut: If you already have an application open, hold ctrl + shift and middle click on the application in your task bar to open another instance as admin. Thanks go to Polymira for this one.
Remote Server Tip: "Critical advice. When testing out network configuration changes, prior to restarting the networking service or rebooting, always create a cron job that will restore your original network configuration and then reboot/restart networking on the machine after 5 minutes. If your config worked, you have enough time to remove it. If it didn't, it will fix itself. This is a beautifully simple solution that I learned from my old mentor at my very first job. I've held on to it for a long time." Thanks go to FrigidNox for the tip!
Websites
Deployment Research is the website of Johan Arwidmark, MS MVP in System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management. It is dedicated to sharing information and guidance around System Center, OS deployment, migration and more. The author shares tips and tricks to help improve the quality of IT Pros’ daily work.
Next of Windows is a website on (mostly) Microsoft-related technology. It's the place where Kent Chen—a computer veteran with many years of field experience—and Jonathan Hu—a web/mobile app developer and self-described "cool geek"—share what they know, what they learn and what they find in the hope of helping others learn and benefit.
High Scalability brings together all the relevant information about building scalable websites in one place. Because building a website with confidence requires a body of knowledge that can be slow to develop, the site focuses on moving visitors along the learning curve at a faster pace.
Information Technology Research Library is a great resource for IT-related research, white papers, reports, case studies, magazines, and eBooks. This library is provided at no charge by TradePub.com. GullibleDetective tells us it offers "free PDF files from a WIIIIIIDE variety of topics, not even just IT. Only caveat: as its a vendor-supported publishing company, you will have to give them a bit of information such as name, email address and possibly a company name. You undoubtedly have the ability to create fake information on this, mind you. The articles range from Excel templates, learning python, powershell, nosql etc. to converged architecture."
SS64 is a web-based reference guide for syntax and examples of the most-common database and OS computing commands. Recommended by Petti-The-Yeti, who adds, "I use this site all the time to look up commands and find examples while I'm building CMD and PS1 scripts."
Phishing and Malware Reporting. This website helps you put a stop to scams by getting fraudulent pages blocked. Easily report phishing webpages so they can be added to blacklists in as little as 15 minutes of your report. "Player024 tells us, "I highly recommend anyone in the industry to bookmark this page...With an average of about 10 minutes of work, I'm usually able to take down the phishing pages we receive thanks to the links posted on that website."
A Slack Channel
Windows Admin Slack is a great drive-by resource for the Windows sysadmin. This team has 33 public channels in total that cover different areas of helpful content on Windows administration.
Blogs
KC's Blog is the place where Microsoft MVP and web developer Kent Chen shares his IT insights and discoveries. The rather large library of posts offer helpful hints, how-tos, resources and news of interest to those in the Windows world.
The Windows Server Daily is the ever-current blog of technologist Katherine Moss, VP of open source & community engagement for StormlightTech. Offers brief daily posts on topics related to Windows server, Windows 10 and Administration.
An Infosec Slideshow
This security training slideshow was created for use during a quarterly infosec class. The content is offered generously by shalafi71, who adds, "Take this as a skeleton and flesh it out on your own. Take an hour or two and research the things I talk about. Tailor this to your own environment and users. Make it relevant to your people. Include corporate stories, include your audience, exclude yourself. This ain't about how smart you are at infosec, and I can't stress this enough, talk about how people can defend themselves. Give them things to look for and action they can take. No one gives a shit about your firewall rules."
Tech Tutorials
Tutorialspoint Library. This large collection of tech tutorials is a great resource for online learning. You'll find nearly 150 high-quality tutorials covering a wide array of languages and topics—from fundamentals to cutting-edge technologies. For example, this Powershell tutorial is designed for those with practical experience handling Windows-based Servers who want to learn how to install and use Windows Server 2012.
The Python Tutorial is a nice introduction to many of Python’s best features, enabling you to read and write Python modules and programs. It offers an understanding of the language's style and prepares you to learn more about the various Python library modules described in 'The Python Standard Library.' Kindly suggested by sharjeelsayed.
SysAdmin Humor
Day in the Life of a SysAdmin Episode 5: Lunch Break is an amusing look at a SysAdmin's attempt to take a brief lunch break. We imagine many of you can relate!
Have a fantastic week and as usual, let me know any comments.
Graham | CEO | EveryCloud
submitted by crispyducks to ITProTuesday [link] [comments]

[uncensored-r/Bitcoin] /r/Bitcoin FAQ - Newcomers please read

The following post by BinaryResult is being replicated because some comments within the post(but not the post itself) have been silently removed.
The original post can be found(in censored form) at this link:
reddit: /Bitcoin/comments/6jlop4
The original post's content was as follows:

Welcome to the /Bitcoin Sticky FAQ

You've probably been hearing a lot about Bitcoin recently and are wondering what's the big deal? Most of your questions should be answered by the resources below but if you have additional questions feel free to ask them in the comments.
The following videos are a good starting point for understanding how bitcoin works and a little about its long term potential:
For lots of additional video resources check out the videos wiki page or /BitcoinTV.
Key properties of bitcoin
  • Limited Supply - There will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins created and they are issued in a predictable fashion, you can view the inflation schedule here. Once they are all issued Bitcoin will be truly deflationary.
  • Open source - Bitcoin code is fully auditable. You can read the source code yourself here.
  • Accountable - The public ledger is transparent, all transactions are seen by everyone.
  • Decentralized - Bitcoin is globally distributed across thousands of nodes with no single point of failure and as such can't be shut down similar to how Bittorrent works.
  • Censorship resistant - No one can prevent you from interacting with the bitcoin network and no one can censor, alter or block transactions that they disagree with, see Operation Chokepoint.
  • Push system - There are no chargebacks in bitcoin because only the person who owns the address where the bitcoins reside has the authority to move them.
  • Low fee - Transactions fees can vary between a few cents and a few dollars depending on network demand and how much priority you wish to assign to the transaction. Most wallets calculate the fee automatically but you can view current fees here.
  • Borderless - No country can stop it from going in/out, even in areas currently unserved by traditional banking as the ledger is globally distributed.
  • Trustless - Bitcoin solved the Byzantine's Generals Problem which means nobody needs to trust anybody for it to work.
  • Pseudonymous - No need to expose personal information when purchasing with cash or transacting.
  • Secure - Encrypted cryptographically and can’t be brute forced or confiscated with proper key management such as hardware wallets.
  • Programmable - Individual units of bitcoin can be programmed to transfer based on certain criteria being met
  • Nearly instant - From a few seconds to a few minutes depending on need for confirmations. After a few confirmations transactions are irreversible.
  • Peer-to-peer - No intermediaries with a cut, no need for trusted third parties.
  • Portable - Bitcoins are digital so they are easier to move than cash or gold. They can even be transported by simply remembering a string of words for wallet recovery.
  • Scalable - Each bitcoin is divisible down to 8 decimals allowing it to grow in value while still accommodating micro-transactions.
  • Designed Money - Bitcoin was created to fit all the fundamental properties of money better than gold or fiat
Some excellent writing on Bitcoin's value proposition and future can be found here. Bitcoin statistics can be found here, here and here. Developer resources can be found here and here. Peer-reviewed research papers can be found here. The number of times Bitcoin was declared dead by the media can be found here. Scaling resources here, and of course the whitepaper that started it all.

Where can I buy bitcoins?

BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com and Howtobuybitcoin.io are helpful sites for beginners. You can buy or sell any amount of bitcoin and there are several easy methods to purchase bitcoin with cash, credit card or bank transfer. Some of the more popular resources are below, also, check out the bitcoinity exchange resources for a larger list of options for purchases.
Bank Transfer Credit / Debit card Cash
Coinbase Coinbase LocalBitcoins
Gemini Bitstamp LibertyX
GDAX Bitit Mycelium LocalTrader
Bitstamp Cex.io BitQuick
Kraken CoinMama WallofCoins
Xapo BitcoinOTC
Cex.io
itBit
Bitit
Bitsquare
Here is a listing of local ATMs. If you would like your paycheck automatically converted to bitcoin use Cashila or Bitwage.
Note: Bitcoins are valued at whatever market price people are willing to pay for them in balancing act of supply vs demand. Unlike traditional markets, bitcoin markets operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Preev is a useful site that that shows how much various denominations of bitcoin are worth in different currencies. Alternatively you can just Google "1 bitcoin in (your local currency)".

Securing your bitcoins

With bitcoin you can "Be your own bank" and personally secure your bitcoins OR you can use third party companies aka "Bitcoin banks" which will hold the bitcoins for you.
  • If you prefer to "Be your own bank" and have direct control over your coins without having to use a trusted third party, there are many software wallet options here. If you want easy and secure storage without having to learn computer security best practices, then a hardware wallet such as the Trezor or Ledger is recommended. A more advanced option is to secure them yourself using paper wallets generated offline. Some popular mobile and desktop options are listed below and most are cross platform.
Android iOs Desktop
Mycelium BreadWallet Electrum
CoPay AirBitz Armory
  • If you prefer to let third party "Bitcoin banks" manage your coins, try Coinbase or Xapo but be aware you may not be in control of your private keys in which case you would have to ask permission to access your funds and be exposed to third party risk.
Another interesting use case for physical storage/transfer is the Opendime. Opendime is a small USB stick that allows you to spend Bitcoin by physically passing it along so it's anonymous and tangible like cash.
Note: For increased security, use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) everywhere it is offered, including email!
2FA requires a second confirmation code to access your account, usually from a text message or app, making it much harder for thieves to gain access. Google Authenticator and Authy are the two most popular 2FA services, download links are below. Make sure you create backups of your 2FA codes.
Google Auth Authy
Android Android
iOS iOS

Where can I spend bitcoins?

A more comprehensive list can be found at the Trade FAQ but some more commons ones are below.
Store Product
Gyft Gift cards for hundreds of retailers including Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, Whole Foods, CVS, Lowes, Home Depot, iTunes, Best Buy, Sears, Kohls, eBay, GameStop, etc.
Steam, HumbleBundle, Games Planet, itch.io, g2g and kinguin For when you need to get your game on
Microsoft Xbox games, phone apps and software
Spendabit, The Bitcoin Shop, Overstock, Rakuten, DuoSearch, The Bitcoin Directory and BazaarBay Retail shopping with millions of results
ShakePay Generate one time use Visa cards in seconds
NewEgg, TigerDirect and Dell For all your electronics needs
Cashila, Bitwa.la, Coinbills, Piixpay, Bitbill.eu, Bylls, Coins.ph, Bitrefill, Pey.de, LivingRoomofSatoshi, Hyphen.to, Coinsfer, GetPaidinBitcoin, Coins.co.th, More #1, #2 Bill payment
Foodler, Menufy, Takeaway, Thuisbezorgd NL, Pizza For Coins Takeout delivered to your door!
Expedia, Cheapair, Lot, Destinia, BTCTrip, Abitsky, SkyTours, Fluege the Travel category on Gyft and 9flats For when you need to get away
BoltVM, BitHost VPS service
Cryptostorm, Mullvad, and PIA VPN services
Namecheap For new domain name registration
Stampnik and GetUSPS Discounted USPS Priority, Express, First-Class mail postage
Reddit Gold Premium membership which can be gifted to others
Coinmap, 99Bitcoins and AirBitz are helpful to find local businesses accepting bitcoins. A good resource for UK residents is at wheretospendbitcoins.co.uk.
There are also lots of charities which accept bitcoin donations, such as Wikipedia, Red Cross, Amnesty International, United Way, ACLU and the EFF. You can find a longer list here.

Merchant Resources

There are several benefits to accepting bitcoin as a payment option if you are a merchant;
  • 1-3% savings over credit cards or PayPal.
  • No chargebacks (final settlement in 10 minutes as opposed to 3+ months).
  • Accept business from a global customer base.
  • Increased privacy.
  • Convert 100% of the sale to the currency of your choice for deposit to your account, or choose to keep a percentage of the sale in bitcoin if you wish to begin accumulating it.
If you are interested in accepting bitcoin as a payment method, there are several options available;

Can I mine bitcoin?

Mining bitcoins can be a fun learning experience, but be aware that you will most likely operate at a loss. Newcomers are often advised to stay away from mining unless they are only interested in it as a hobby similar to folding at home. If you want to learn more about mining you can read more here. Still have mining questions? The crew at /BitcoinMining would be happy to help you out.
If you want to contribute to the bitcoin network by hosting the blockchain and propagating transactions you can run a full node using this setup guide. Bitseed is an easy option for getting set up. You can view the global node distribution here.

Earning bitcoins

Just like any other form of money, you can also earn bitcoins by being paid to do a job.
Site Description
WorkingForBitcoins, Bitwage, XBTfreelancer, Cryptogrind, Bitlancerr, Coinality, Bitgigs, /Jobs4Bitcoins, Rein Project Freelancing
OpenBazaar, Purse.io, Bitify, /Bitmarket, 21 Market Marketplaces
Watchmybit, Streamium.io, OTika.tv, XOtika.tv NSFW, /GirlsGoneBitcoin NSFW Video Streaming
Bitasker, BitforTip, WillPayCoin Tasks
Supload.com, SatoshiBox, JoyStream, File Army File/Image Sharing
CoinAd, A-ads, Coinzilla.io Advertising
You can also earn bitcoins by participating as a market maker on JoinMarket by allowing users to perform CoinJoin transactions with your bitcoins for a small fee (requires you to already have some bitcoins)

Bitcoin Projects

The following is a short list of ongoing projects that might be worth taking a look at if you are interested in current development in the bitcoin space.
Project Description
Lightning Network, Amiko Pay, and Strawpay Payment channels for network scaling
Blockstream and Drivechain Sidechains
21, Inc. Open source library for the machine payable web
ShapeShift.io Trade between bitcoins and altcoins easily
Open Transactions, Counterparty, Omni, Open Assets, Symbiont and Chain Financial asset platforms
Hivemind and Augur Prediction markets
Mirror Smart contracts
Mediachain Decentralized media library
Tierion and Factom Records & Titles on the blockchain
BitMarkets, DropZone, Beaver and Open Bazaar Decentralized markets
Samourai and Dark Wallet - abandoned Privacy-enhancing wallets
JoinMarket CoinJoin implementation (Increase privacy and/or Earn interest on bitcoin holdings)
Coinffeine and Bitsquare Decentralized bitcoin exchanges
Keybase and Bitrated Identity & Reputation management
Bitmesh and Telehash Mesh networking
JoyStream BitTorrent client with paid seeding
MORPHiS Decentralized, encrypted internet
Storj and Sia Decentralized file storage
Streamium and Faradam Pay in real time for on-demand services
Abra Global P2P money transmitter network
bitSIM PIN secure hardware token between SIM & Phone
Identifi Decentralized address book w/ ratings system
Coinometrics Institutional-level Bitcoin Data & Research
Blocktrail and BitGo Multisig bitcoin API
Bitcore Open source Bitcoin javascript library
Insight Open source blockchain API
Leet Kill your friends and take their money ;)

Bitcoin Units

One Bitcoin is quite large (hundreds of £/$/€) so people often deal in smaller units. The most common subunits are listed below:
Unit Symbol Value Info
millibitcoin mBTC 1,000 per bitcoin SI unit for milli i.e. millilitre (mL) or millimetre (mm)
microbitcoin ?BTC 1,000,000 per bitcoin SI unit for micro i.e microlitre (?L) or micrometre (?m)
bit bit 1,000,000 per bitcoin Colloquial "slang" term for microbitcoin
satoshi sat 100,000,000 per bitcoin Smallest unit in bitcoin, named after the inventor
For example, assuming an arbitrary exchange rate of $500 for one Bitcoin, a $10 meal would equal:
  • 0.02 BTC
  • 20 mBTC
  • 20,000 bits
For more information check out the Bitcoin units wiki.
Still have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below or stick around for our weekly Mentor Monday thread. If you decide to post a question in /Bitcoin, please use the search bar to see if it has been answered before, and remember to follow the community rules outlined on the sidebar to receive a better response. The mods are busy helping manage our community so please do not message them unless you notice problems with the functionality of the subreddit. A complete list of bitcoin related subreddits can be found here
Note: This is a community created FAQ. If you notice anything missing from the FAQ or that requires clarification you can edit it here and it will be included in the next revision pending approval.
Welcome to the Bitcoin community and the new decentralized economy!
submitted by censorship_notifier to noncensored_bitcoin [link] [comments]

HEAT 3.0 Crypto

HEAT Ledger Ltd, a Finland-based Fintech startup, is launching a 3rd generation crypto platform coined H.E.A.T.
http://heatledger.com
https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1543991.0
What makes HEAT 3rd generation?
H.E.A.T. Ledger stands for Heuristically Enhanced Asynchronous Transactions Ledger, embodying a completely new way of structuring cryptocurrency and peer-to-peer decentralized asset ledger. Optimized for speed and architected in enterprise friendly Java for custom private chains, HEAT slices the currently used blockchain database technology to modular components and readily provides flexibly scalable server side technology for corporate needs of any size.
UNLIMITED SCALABILITY
HEAT's unbounded vertical scalability is only limited by the performance of the hardware used. Utilizing not a single blockchain, but achain of blockchains - and removing embedded databases through the use of off-heap memory mapped binary files, the HEAT blockchain is able to sustain transaction throughput of at least 1000 tps 24/7. On our internal tests the HEAT JVM has been capable of achieving an unbelievable rate of several millions of updates per second on commonly available 16-core server.
DIRECT CRYPTO TRADING
Because the HEAT client hosts client side real crypto, integrated to the HEAT blockchain asset exchange through built-in invisible gateway, users can trade cryptocurrencies right from their wallet on p2p orderbooks without going through an exchange. This means that once your trade for ie. BTC/ETH goes through, you can use the BTC or ETH as you do normally. Bye bye withdrawal delays! Welcome multicurrency client and native direct exchange!
LICENSED MULTISIG FIAT WALLET
The unique HEAT crypto client provides access to major cryptocurrencies including BTC, ETH, FIMK and NXT. It also allows creation, transfer and trade of any custom assets created by operators of any size. Having multi-sig for currencies whose tech is capable of such - the client thus supports fiat money accounts secured with multi-sig private keys. HEAT Ledger Ltd has joint venture agreements in place with EU wide money transmitter license pending, making the prospect of transferring real fiat money in a cryptographic ledger a reality. One of the first, if not THE first - but certainly the first multi-sig fiat!
SMALLER BLOCK FILES HASH-CHAINED
Splitting blockchain into separate files for homogenous data types such as unconfirmed and confirmed balances, unconfirmed and confirmed asset buy and sell orders etc. makes HEAT able to function on many levels of node involvement. No longer does each user need to host the full blockchain - they can store just one or more of the sliced block files that are chained together in torrent-like manner to form a cryptographically secure, full blockchain. And of course they can opt for thin clients with either standalone app or web browser, no server software running at all.
HYBRID BLOCK REWARDS
For its block rewards granted every 25 secs in average, HEAT uses twin system: half of the block reward comes from traditional PoS (Proof-of-Stake) algorithm, while the other half is granted on PoP (Proof-of-Presence) basis for nodes that host the block files online. The HEAT algorithm monitors the presence of block slice files, and assigns higher probability for slices that have a smaller number of copies online. That way any discrepancy arising in the relative number of different block files is attenuated.
DISTRIBUTED SERVICES ARCHITECTURE
HEAT doesn't provide smart contracts as such - but it provides something we think is better; Distributed Services Architecture. DSA is HEAT's answer to blockchain based applications. What we have created is a stateful interactive communication protocol much like the HTTP protocol that is in use today for the web. This allows anyone in the world to write an application in a language supported by the JVM script engine (Java, JavaScript) and have the distributed app serve clients interactively using the blockchain as (encrypted) distributed state full memory space. Supporting Java, this is a never before seen feature on open source blockchains.
RUNDOWN OF HEAT HIGHLIGHTS (some items repeated for clarity)
  1. Technology to be used has been 5 man-years in the making a. Written in enterprise friendly Java b. Cryptography and p2p consensus code based on MIT licensed NXT c. Networking layers and many features based on FIMK development d. Architected with re-use for private chains e. Optimized for speed and instant high frequency trading f. Massively scalable through the use of not one single blockchain, but a chain of blockchains g. Completely remade HTML5 client / downloadable / app
  2. New memory mapped OS binary file sliced blockchain structure without db overhead
  3. Splitting balance storage from transactions and blocks
  4. Transaction throughput rate initially in the 1000 tps scale on legacy hardware
  5. Unlimited scalability depending on node hardware: Boost rates of 10k+ tps on standard 4-core Linux server
  6. 25-second blocks, instant tx confirmations through websockets and replication layer
  7. Regular client startups are near instant since all that has to be loaded are the balance files (~1/10,000 the size of full blockchain)
  8. High frequency trading enabling instant matching of 1k+ trades per second stable
  9. 2-tier reward structure: Proof-Of-Stake and Proof-Of-Presence (Online storage of blockchain slice files)
  10. Distributed Services Architecture (blockchain software robots, Javascript and Java)
  11. Thin client: Home users don't need to carry blockchain files but get rewarded to do so
  12. Replication layer: Vendor independent replicated database integration for corporate full node operators
  13. Remade, smarter networking protocol uses binary messages - on request basis only - between peers
  14. Non-blocking asynchronous websocket connections over Netty (Facebook, Twitter) enables high number of peer connections
  15. Offline smart vouchers (fully signed transactions that can be sent to the blockchain by anyone.)
  16. PIN protected account access to local wallet.dat, with secret phrase brain wallet backup
  17. Native A2A (asset to asset)custom tokens exchange with option for native non-gateway BTC price base
  18. Multicurrency crypto client enabling non-gateway direct crypto transfer
  19. Built-in non-gateway (direct real crypto) p2p exchange for client supported crypto
  20. Custom tokens, private tokens, colored accounts and white label software cloning readiness
  21. Multisig for FIAT currency tokens and several main target use cases: a. Simply value adding feature for the crypto client user security b. Facilitating implementation of p2p live crypto trading (asset exchange tokens auto match multisig real crypto) c. Enabling crowdfunding security and direct intake of funds (also “real” gated EUR, USD that have multisig security) d. Unique sales point: Multisig Fiat currency
  22. Crowdfunding / IPO capabilities heavily emphasized: a. Readily on-blockchain for DIY agile companies / geeks b. Licensed fintech corporate partner for turnkey crowdfunding service c. Cloned source / white label installation
  23. Unique, private human defined identifiers (email account format)
  24. Off-blockchain instant E2EE (end-to-end encrypted) P2P messaging
  25. Decentralized web shops with instant EUR payments (/pricing in any token)
  26. Major licensed corporate partners in crowdfunding, fiat currency token transfer and BTC exchange areas
  27. ICO tokens reward stock options for startup company IPO shares at lower price later in 2016
  28. ICO runs from July 11th 2016 through August 8th 2016. Currencies accepted: BTC, ETH, FIMK, NXT.
TOKEN DISTRIBUTION
HEAT Genesis block's preliminary release date is September 5th 2016. Before that there will be an alpha client and a testnet available in August.
ICO PHASE GENERAL INFO
For launching the HEAT cryptocurrency in September 2016, HEAT Ledger Ltd arranges Initial Coin Offering investment opportunity for the public between July 11th midday GMT and August 8th 2016 midnight GMT.
• 25 million HEAT tokens will be distributed to investors & stakeholders on pro rata basis.
If ICO is not fully reserved, 1 000 000 HEAT are locked up as an incentive and released for development crew after 1 250 000 blocks (1 year) from genesis. If ICO is fully reserved, a minimum of 500 000 HEAT will be purchased for the development crew from market by the ICO BTC funds after ICO closure.
ICO PRICING DETAILS
HEAT credits can be reserved either through escrow agents (described in the next section) or by paying a freely chosen amount of cryptocurrency to a designated BTC / FIMK / ETH /NXT account listed on the HEAT web site at http://heatledger.com/ico. Credits purchased through all of the channels are synchronized bona fide real time, and collected at the end of the ICO period to form the total reservation amount for final stake calculations. Each HEAT credit entitles to a portion of the full 25 Million HEAT token stack in pro rata basis. ie. if the full 25 Million HEAT are reserved, each credit will receive 1 HEAT. If less than 25M HEAT are reserved, each credit will receive more than 1 HEAT. HEAT Ledger Ltd reserves the right to either increase the total number of HEAT tokens released, or the proportion of ICO credits relative to HEAT tokens in case there are more than 25M credits reserved during ICO.
ESCROWS AND TRADING
HEAT credits can be reserved from the following sites:
http://heatledger.com/icohttp://blog.openledger.info/2016/07/08/how-to-subscribe-to-ico-prelaunch-on-openledge operated by https://www.ccedk.com/ico/heathttps://c-cex.comhttp://fitcoin.fi
THE CROWDFUNDING CRAZE
While HEAT uses crowdfunding services from partners and arranges one on its own during the ICO, significant emphasis will be put on facilitating crowdfunding for large and small companies through the HEAT Ledger blockchain itself. With HEAT, every businessman and his mother will be able to have their own blockchain application to crowdfund projects!
HEAT Ledger Ltd assists companies and projects to obtain crowdfunding via the decentralized open source HEAT Ledger through consultation and partnership. We aim to have at least 2 to 3 external companies to accompany the launch of HEAT Ledger Proper through their own funding proposal (IPO, other crowdfunding investment) on the HEAT Asset Exchange custom crowdfunding UI - accessible from the HEAT wallet.
IPO STOCK OPTIONS FOR HEAT TOKENS
Heat Ledger Ltd will arrange Initial Public Offering of stock equity in late 2016. 50 000 - 80 000 new company shares will be released to constitute 20% - 25% of total company equity, in order to raise between 500k to 1.5M EUR funding to further develop company operations. HEAT token holders who participate in round 1 ICO and hold their tokens will receive options that entitle for 50% minimum rebate from IPO share price.
CALL TO ACTION FOR DEVELOPERS AND MARKETERS
HEAT Ledger is an ambitious business project initiated by a small, experienced and skilled team of professionals hardened in a rough set of challenges previously. Our goal is to provide not only prosperity for the HEAT founders and investors, but also long-lasting value for the society by leveraging our innovations and know-how to further the evolution of financial technology towards more effective modes of operation.
We invite enthusiastic people to join the HEAT startup team. With time we'll need online marketers, sales specialists, local ambassadors, skilled java programmers and especially front-end coders. Please contact us to let us hear about your skills that the world could make good use of through your participation in HEAT.
Soon... The HEAT is ON!
submitted by HEAT-kani to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

Bitcoin Origins - part 2

Afternoon, All.
This is a continuation from the previous reddit post:
Bitcoin Origins
The following are a few notes I've been making on the original development of the tech behind Bitcoin.
This is still in early draft form so expect the layout and flow to be cleaned up over time.
Also be aware that the initial release of the Bitcoin white paper and code was what we had cut down to from earlier ideas.
This means that some of the ideas below will not correspond to what would end up being made public.
As I'm paraphrasing dim memories some of the sections are out-of-order whereby some things occurred earlier rather than later. As I recall more I'll be updating this story elsewhere for uploading when it appears more substantial.
As noted on the first post ( link supplied above ):
There is no verification of truth here.
There is absolutely no evidential proof that I had any part in the project.
Take this as just a fictional story if you wish.
Bitcoin Logo
BitCoin Origins
Six Months In A Leaky Boat
continued ...
“You’re saying that we can use this proof-of-work thing to inject electronic cash into the network and have it tied to fiat currencies, but how would the network know what the local fiat currency is to figure out the correct fiat-currency-to-electronic-cash exchange rate ?”, (2) asked.
“Maybe we could have a server that keeps a record of what the various electricity companies charge and have the software get the values from there ?”, I suggested. “Some of these new mobile phones, the smart phones, the cellular network phones in folks pockets, have GPS chips incorporated into them, right ? And everyone has them or will be getting them as they become more popular. This means everyone will have a device on them which will allow the software to include a GPS location so that the network knows which exchange rate to use for that particular minted cash.
“But how will the network know that the GPS coordinates haven’t been changed and set to another location ?”, (2) asked. “Wouldn’t that mean relying on a trusted third party again ? I thought you said we have to get away from that ? If we cannot trust a single computer for minting cash into the network then maybe we shouldn’t trust any at all ?”
“Uhh… dunno,” I replied. “I’ll get back to that later”, I said.
“Ok, ” (2) said. “How are we going to have the transactions sent to other people on the network ? All the other white papers are expecting people to connect directly to one of the trusted computers to purchase the electronic cash and to transfer it to someone else through them. If we’re not going to use a trusted computer for this and will have the proof-of-work generate the cash, then how do people receive or pay the cash ? Also: How would the network trust that the cash is valid if no computer is being used for time-stamping and validating the cash ?”
I told him I’d have to think about it.
Multiple ideas were given and discarded. He consulted with (3) about every possible solution and every one was a failure.
They either resulted in having to rely on at least one server to hook everything together or would break if multiple transaction messages were sent at the same time to different computers.
After a week or so of this I’d finally burnt myself out and decided that it’s quite possible that everyone else was correct when they said that you couldn’t solve double-spending in a digital world without depending upon a trusted third party.
I stopped emailing (2) at that point, hoping it’d all go away.
After a week he emailed me asking if I’d come up with another solution for testing.
I told him that I don’t think there is a solution and maybe he should just use part of what he had in his original white paper and rely on a trusted third party like everyone else.
He said something along the lines of “Like [redacted] I will ! You’ve taken me down this path of not trusting a single computer and that’s what I want. No-one's done that before and if we break it, it will probably change everything ! ”
I told him I’m taking a break from it all for a while.
Another week passes and he emails me again.
He said, “How are you feeling ? Sorry to be so harsh on you but I really need this to work. I’ll leave you be if that’s what you want. Just let me know when you’re able to continue.”
Another week goes by and whenever I begin to think of the problem I just say to myself “To [redacted] with him and his electronic cash problem.”
For comfort I turn to perusing through some of my old Win32 Asm proggys (I called them “proggys” because I thought of them as small, incomplete computer programs - kind of like examples and tutorials).
I also begun reminiscing about the Amiga 500 days and the proggys I made back then (late 1980’s through to mid 1990’s).
Knowing that one of the most difficult issues with electronic cash revolved around the networking architecture and how data would be propagated by the networked computers I began going through some of the discussions I had back in 2005 and 2006 with someone who was attempting to make a tank game.
I explained to him the main difference between TCP and UDP ( Transmission Control Protocol User Datagram Protocol ).
If you need data packages to arrive in a particular order with confirmation that they’ve arrived then you’d use TCP.
If you need velocity of data packets you can throw all the protocol error checking out and use UDP.
That’s one of the reasons great online multi-player games uses UDP. It reduces the latency with the data being transmitted around the network.
The main difficulty is in building the gaming system in such a way so that the data the servers and clients transmit and receive work when data packets never arrive.
TCP guarantees delivery if the network is functioning while with UDP you do not know if a particular packet ever arrived or if packets arrived in a different order to transmission due to separate packets traversing the internet via different pathways.
Many online games were usually built for single-player first and the multi-player code would be chucked into the codebase near the end of development.
This would mean that all of the game code objects and classes were made to use known values at any particular time and could not work in a UDP environment without re-architecting the entire code base from scratch.
You’d find many of the games that also included multi-player gameplay options ended up using TCP for the network communications and this made all of these games slow over the network with high latency and unplayable lag as the gameplay would be faster than the network data packets telling your computer where your opponents are located.
The various tanks games around 2005 were built as above. I convinced this person to focus on the multi-player aspect of the game because he could always add in single-player later on.
Multiple players would have to drive and fire tanks around a field while being updated continuously about the complete state of the network.
This is usually accomplished by having a single server that receives all of the current data from all the player clients and dishes out the official game state back to all of those player clients so that everyone knows who went where, who fired at what and who has been hit.
However even with using UDP there is a bottleneck in the network with the server itself only being able to process a peak number of connections and data throughput every second. It could only scale so high.
We had talked about different ways to improve this by possibly having relay servers on some of the players computers or having a more peer-to-peer like structure so that each player client only had to get the latest data from its nearest neighbours in the network and only transmit to their peers so that a fully server-less multi-player game could be created.
How the data could be moved about without someone creating a hack that could change the data packages in their favour couldn’t be figured out.
In the end he went with using a central server with both TCP and UDP depending upon what data packages were needed to be sent - general gameplay data (tank movements) via UDP and server state (for confirming who hit what) via TCP.
If a peer-to-peer network was to be used for electronic cash then to be scalable the data packages must be able to be transmitted with as high a velocity as possible. It must work with the majority of transmissions using UDP.
If two-way communication is required then a return ip/port can be included within a UDP data package or a TCP connection could be used.
I had also read and reread this thing that has been going around the crypto community for ages called the Byzantine Generals Dilemma (or worded in a similar way).
It’s supposed to be impossible to solve and at least a couple of well-known academics and crypto folks had “proven” it was impossible to solve only a few years previously. They had pretty much staked their reputations on the fact that it was unsolvable.
I thought “Wouldn’t it be absolutely hilarious if the solution to this double-spending problem is also the solution to the impossible Byzantine Generals Dilemma and could be found using ideas from the Amiga days and 3D programming and uses multi-player gaming techniques ? That would annoy the [redacted] out of the crypto community and take those elitists down a peg or two !”
(This is where you’d see the screen go all watery-wavy as the scene morphs to a time in the past when I was a moderator of the Win32 Asm community)
The assembly community and the crypto community share a lot in common.
They’re made up of some of the most brilliant folks in the computing industry where huge egos do battle against one-another.
You’d also find folks in one community existing within the other.
Both communities are made up of both light and dark actors.
The light actors are those who are very public.
They are academics, researchers, security professionals, and so on.
The dark actors are … (and that’s all I’ll say about them).
Except to say that the light crypto actors are usually doing work to undo what the dark assembly actors are doing.
It’s one [redacted] of a game !
To have a message board that was able to accommodate all actors required a few tough rules and stiff execution of them if the forum was to continue to exist.
Many of the other assembly boards were being snuffed out by government actors forcing the hosting service to shut them down.
This was mainly due to the assembly forums insistence of allowing threads to exist which showed exactly how to break and crack various websites/ networks/ software/ etc.
Whenever one of these sites were shut down the members would disperse to the various remaining assembly boards.
So we received an influx of new members every few months whenever their previous venue went up in smoke.
However they never learned from the experience ( or, at least, some of them never learned ) and they would continue to openly chat about dark subjects on our board, which put our board in danger as well.
The moderators had to be strong but fair against these new-comers, especially knowing that they (the moderators) could be actively attacked (digitally) at any time.
Occasionally one of these new members would decide to DDOS ( Distributed Denial Of Service ) us, however they apparently forgot what message board they were attempting to DDOS, and it always ended very badly for them.
We would also occasionally get someone with quite a bit of knowledge in various subjects - some of it very rare and hard-to-come-by. It would be terrible if that member left and took their knowledge with them.
They would complain that there were too many noobs asking questions on the message board and it would be better if there was a higher level of knowledge and experience needed before the noobs could enter the message board or post a question.
Once I told one of these members, “Ok then. Let’s say that thing you’ve been talking about for the past two weeks, and calling everyone else a noob for not understanding it, is the knowledge limit. I know that you only first read about it two and a half weeks ago. Let’s say I make that the limit and predate it three weeks ago and kick your butt out of this community ?"
“That’s not very fair”, he protested.
I told him, “None of us know where the next genius is coming from. The main members of this community, the ones that input more than everyone else, have come from incredibly varied environments. Some with only a few weeks knowledge are adding more to the community every week compared to members who have been with us for years. One of the members you’ve dissed in the past couple of weeks could in turn create the next piece of software that all of us use. We don’t know that. What we need to do is have a community that is absolutely inclusive for every single person on the planet no matter where they’ve come from, what their wealth is, what their nation state does, and to keep our elitism in check.”
“Ok, fair enough, I’m sorry, please don’t kick me out.” was the usual result.
These were very intelligent folks, however they had to be reminded that we are a single species moving through time and space together as one.
(This is where you’d see the screen go all watery-wavy as the scene morphs back to me figuring out this double-spending problem)
As you may tell, I don’t tolerate elitist attitudes very well.
Which also helped when I turned towards the elitist attitudes I read in some of these academic papers and crypto white papers ( some of which were more like notes than white papers ) and messages on the crypto forums and mailing lists.
“ ‘It’s impossible to solve the Byzantine Generals Problem’ they say ? Let’s see about that !”
Byzantine General’s Dilemma
The problem is written a little bit differently depending upon where you read it.
An occasional academic may be more well-read than others and becomes the “official” wording used by many others.
I’ll paraphrase it a wee bit just so you get a general idea of the problem (pun intended).
We go back to the time of the city-states.
This is before the notion of sovereign states - there’s just a bunch of individual city-states that control the surrounding nearby country side.
Every so often a bunch of these city-states would get together and form something called an empire.
Alliances would change and friends would become enemies and enemies friends on a month-to-month and year-to-year basis.
To expand the empire the bunch of city-states would send armies controlled by generals to take over an adjacent city-state.
These city-states are huge (for their time) walled cities with armies in strong fortifications.
Let’s say there are six generals from six empire city-states that surround an adjacent city-state - all generals and their armies are equidistant from each other.
They cannot trust one another because at any moment one of them may become an enemy. Or they could be an enemy pretending to be a friend.
Due to the defensive forces of the defending city-state, the six generals know that they could take the city if every one of them attacked at the same time from around the city.
But if only a few attacked and the others retreated then the attackers would be wiped out and the surviving city-states, with their generals and their armies intact, would end up over-powering and enslaving their previous friendly city-states.
No-one could trust any other.
(This has massive parallels with modern day sovereign nations and their playing of the game with weapons, armies/air forces/navies, economics, currency, trade agreements, banks, education, health, wealth, and so on)
The generals have to send a message to the other generals telling them if they’re going to attack or retreat.
The problem is that a general could send a message to the general to his left saying that he’ll attack and send a second message to the general to his right that he will retreat.
Some possible solutions said that there should be two lieutenants to receive the message from the general and that they could check each others message to confirm that they are indeed identical before passing the messages onto the left and right messengers.
However the messengers in turn could change the message from “attack” to “retreat” or vice versa or not deliver the message at all.
Plus the generals, once a message has been sent out as “attack” could turn around and retreat, or vice versa.
I thought to myself, “I bet the folks who thought up this problem are feeling pretty damn smug about themselves.”
However I was a moderator of an assembly community.
I’d translated the DirectX8 C++ COM headers into their x86 assembly equivalent (using techniques built by others far more smarter than me, and with help for some files when DX8.1 was translated), built a PIC micro controller assembler in x86 assembly language, and many other things.
And because I've done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with creating a solution to the Byzantine Generals Dilemma !
Elitist ego ? What elitist ego ? They’re all amateurs !
Let us begin:
“Ok,” I thought to myself. “let’s start at the beginning. We need a network. What does that look like ?”
The Generals are going to be represented as computers. The servers in the network. The nodes.
The messages are going to be the data travelling between them.
Transactions will be used as the first example of data.
For those reading, hold your hands in front of you - touch the bottom of the palms together with the fingers far apart, thumbs touching each other, twist your elbow and wrists so that the fingers are pointing upwards - slightly curved.
Fingers as Nodes
These are the nodes in the network.
The node where the thumbs touch is your own node.
No node can trust each other.
For this network structure to work, it must work even with every single node actively hostile toward one another.
“Surely the network can trust my node. I’m good ! “, you may say to yourself.
But you would be wrong.
This network is not about you. It must exist even when you don’t.
If there were a hundred nodes then it’d be ninety-nine to one against you.
As far as the network is concerned, there’s ninety-nine nodes that cannot trust you compared to your one.
So accepting that all nodes cannot trust one another, plus they are actively hostile toward one another, we can …
“But hang on ! ”, you say. “What do you mean ‘actively hostile’ ? Surely they’re not all hostile ? ”
Even if most of the time nodes will play nice with one another, the rules of the game must be structured in such a way that they will work even if all participants were actively hostile toward one another .
Because if it still worked with everyone having a go at each other then you would’ve built something that could last for a very long time.
You could build something whereby sovereign nations could no-longer undermine other sovereign nations.
It would be the great equaliser that would allow stronger nations to stop screwing around with weaker nations.
It’s the ultimate golf handicapping system. Everyone could play this game.
Kind of like my moderating style from the assembly days.
So we have these hostile nodes.
It has to be able to work with any type of message or data package. Initially it will be built for electronic cash transactions.
I will type it as "messages (transactions)" below to indicate that the messages are the messages in the Byzantine Generals Dilemma and that the message could be any data whatsoever - "transactions" just being the first. Plus in a roundabout way a message is also a transaction whereby a transaction doesn't have to be only for electronic cash - it's just an indication of what items are being transacted.
We want to send messages (transactions) between them and make sure everyone agrees that the messages (transactions) are correct.
That implies that every single node would have to store an exact copy of all the messages (transactions) and be able to read through them and confirm that they are valid.
And whenever a node receives a message (transaction) it would check it for validity and if it’s ok then that message (transaction) would be passed onto the adjacent nodes.
But how to stop a node changing the message (transaction) contents and sending different results to two adjacent nodes ?
How about taking the possibility of messages (transactions) being able to be changed out of the problem completely ?
We could using private/public keys to sign the messages (transactions) so that they couldn’t be changed.
The owner could sign a message (transaction) with the owners private key and everyone could check its validity with the owners public key, but not be able to change it.
Right. The messaging ( transactions/ data/ etc ) part of the problem is partially solved.
Now how do I solve the generals problem so that they all play nicely with one another ?
If we can make sure all generals (nodes) can get the identical data and that they can all validate that the data is identical and unchanged then the Byzantine Generals Dilemma would be solved.
Data Chunks
It became apparent that every major node on a network would have to store an entire copy of all of the data so that they could verify that the data was correct and hadn’t been modified.
The data would probably end up looking like a list or stack, with each incoming valid message (transaction) placed on top of the previous messages (transactions).
What looks like a stack but hasn’t got the memory restrictions like a normal assembly stack ?
When I was reminiscing about the Amiga 500 days I recalled having to muck about with IFF.
That’s the Interchange File Format.
The basics of it is like this:
In a plain text file there are chunks of data.
Each chunk of data begins with a chunk identifier - four characters that indicate to a program what type of data resides within that chunk (example “WAVE”, “FORM”, “NAME”).
An IFF file can have many data chunks of differing types.
The .AVI (audio/video), .ILBM (bitmap) and .WAV (audio wave) file formats are based upon the IFF.
I thought, “What if one of these data chunks was called ‘MSG ’, ‘DATA’ or ‘TSTN’ (TranSacTioN) ? ”
That might work.
Where would the proof-of-work thing come into play ?
Let’s say we replace the four-character-identifier with a header so that the proof-of-work can be done on it ?
That means the header would now include an identifier for what type of data is included within the chunk, plus a value used to modify the difficulty for generating a hash (the number of zeros needed to prepend the generated hash), a random value which increments as hashes are attempted so that the header data is slightly different for each hash attempt, plus the data itself.
But once a correct hash is generated, that particular node would mint electronic cash to pay for the electricity used.
Remember: The electronic cash is supposed to cover the actual fiat currency costs involved in doing the proof-of-work computations.
As the owner of the node computer is paid by an employer in fiat currency and has paid personal tax on it, and they have used that fiat currency to pay their electricity provider (which in turn pays company, state and value-added or goods&service taxes), then the electronic cash is equivalent to swapping your own money for a soft drink can from a vending machine.
Except, due to the media of this system, you’d be able to go to another vending machine and reenter your soft drink can for a refund in fiat currency again ( minus a restocking fee ) and the vending machine could be anywhere on the planet.
That means an extra message (transaction) would have to be included within the chunks data for the minted electronic cash.
If there must be at least two messages (transactions) within a data chunk - the actual message (transaction) plus the message (transaction) for the node that generates the hash - then maybe there could be more messages (transactions) stored in each data chunk ? How would a bunch of messages (transactions) be stored inside a data chunk ?
I remembered learning about binary space partitioning around 2006.
BSP trees were used to store 3D graphic polygons that were able to be quickly traversed so that a game could decide which scenery to display to the game player.
Quake 3 Arena and Medal of Honour: Allied Assault ( which uses Q3A codebase) used BSP trees for storing the scenery. Wherever the player was looking the tree would be traversed and only the polygons (triangles) that were viewable would be rendered by the graphics chip. Try to think of the players view in a game was like a searchlight beam and whatever the light touches is rendered onto a persons computer screen and everything else is ignored- unseen and not rendered.
“I wonder if I could break the transactions up into a binary space partitioned tree ?”
For those interested, a wee bit of light reading is here: Binary Space Partitioning
A binary space partitioned tree begins at one polygon and uses its surface as a plane to cut throughout the rest of the scene.
This kind of plane: Geometry Plane
Each polygon the plane hits gets sliced in two.
Note: The ‘node’ word used below is used for talking about the nodes in a BSP tree - not nodes in a computer network. Think of nodes as where an actual tree branch splits into two smaller branches.
All the polygons in front of the plane go into the left branch (node) and all the polygons behind the plane go into the right branch (node).
Traversing each branch (node) in turn, a polygon is chosen closest to the middle of the remaining branch (node) scenery and another plane slices the branch (node) in two.
The traversal continues until the entire scenery has been sliced up into left/ right (or up/ down) branches (nodes) and they all end up at the leaves (nodes) which store the actual polygon geometry.
If we use the messages (transactions) as the equivalent of the polygon geometry then we could have a bunch of messages (transactions) in the leaf nodes at the bottom of a tree-like structure inside a data chunk.
Instead of a group of triangle vertices ( polygon geometry ) there would be a single message (transaction).
But how to connect them all up ?
A BSP tree is linked up by having a parent node pointing to the two child nodes, but that’s in memory.
The BSP file that’s stored on a disc drive can be easily modified ( easy as in it’s possible instead of impossible ).
The messages (transactions) within a chunk cannot be allowed to be changed.
What if, instead of memory pointers or offsets pointing parents to children we use one of those crypto hashing functions ?
The bottom-most leaf nodes could use data specifically from their message (transaction) to generate a node hash, right ?
Parent Branch nodes could create a hash using the hashes of their two children hashes.
This would create a tree-like structure within a data chunk where the topmost parent hash could be included within the data chunks proof-of-work header.
This would allow all the messages (transactions) to be locked into a tree that doesn’t allow them to be modified because all parent node hashes would have to be recalculated and the trees root hash would be different from the original generated hash.
And that would mean that the entire proof-of-work hash value would be changed.
The same mechanism used to transfer the transaction data around the network would also be used to send the chunks of data.
If a network node received a changed dataChunk and compared it with one they already held then they’d notice the proof-of-work is different and would know someone was attempting to modify the data.
Bloody [redacted] ! I think this might actually work.
I email (2) to inform him that I was again making progress on the issue.
I explained the idea of having a simplified BSP tree to store the messages (transactions) into a dataChunk and have them all hashed together into a tree with the proof-of-work plus parent hash at the top.
He said, “If I change the transaction stuff to use this method I’m going to have to throw out half my white paper and a third of my code”.
“Well, “ I replied. “You can keep using your current transaction stuff if you want. It can never work in a no-trust environment but if that makes you happy then stay with it. For me - I’m going to take the red pill and continue down this path and see where it gets me. I’m also working on solving the Byzantine Generals Dilemma.”
“Ok. ok”, he said. “I’ll go with what you’ve come up with. But what are you stuffing about with the Byzantine problem ? It’s an impossible crypto puzzle and has nothing to do with electronic cash.”
“It has everything to do with an actual working electronic cash system”, I said. “If it can be solved then we could use a peer-to-peer network for transferring all the data about the place ! Kinda like Napster.”
“Didn’t Napster get shut down because it used a central server ?”, (2) retorted.
“What’s another peer-to-peer network ? IRC ? Tor ?, BitTorrent ?”
“I think we can use IRC to hold the initial node addresses until such time the network is big enough for large permanent nodes to appear”, (2) suggested.
(2) asked, “What’s to stop nodes from sending different dataChunks to other nodes ? If they’re just stacked on top of one-another then they can be swapped in and out at any time. That’s why a third party server is needed for setting the official time on the network for the transactions. Someone could create different transactions and change the time to whatever they want if they can use whatever time they choose.”
I said I’ll think on it some more.
A Kronos Stamp Server
If a third party cannot be used for a time stamp server then we’d have to reevaluate what is meant by time in a computer network.
What if how people think about time is actually wrong and everyone is assuming it to be something that it really isn’t ?
If you hold one fist in front of you to represent time - call it ‘now’ time.
Now Time
If you hold another fist after the first fist you can call it ‘after now’ time.
After Now Time
If you hold another fist before the first fist you can call it ‘before now’ time.
Before Now Time
What we’re actually looking at is a chronological order stamp. The actual time itself is pretty much irrelevant except for when comparing two things in their chronological order.
It should work whether the ‘now’ time is the time shown on your clock/watch right now, or on a date two hundred years from now, or 1253BC ( Tuesday ).
The before/ now/ after can be adjusted accordingly:
after ( Wednesday )
now ( 1253BC Tuesday )
before ( Monday )
And if the time value used is the time shown on your clock, is it the same as the time value shown on your watch ? On the microwave ? DVD player ? Computer ? Phone ? You may find that all the time pieces inside your own home vary by a few seconds or even a few minutes !
In an office almost every single person has a timepiece that has a different time to everyone else - even if it’s only different by a few milliseconds.
Does that mean as you walk from your kitchen ( showing 2:02pm on the wall ) into the lounge ( showing 2:01 on the DVD player ) that’s you’ve just entered a time portal and been magically transported back in time by a minute ?
Of course not. They’re all equally valid time values that humans have made up to be roughly synchronised with one-another.
All that really matters is the range of valid time values used to indicate “This is Now”, “This is Next” or “This was Before”.
If the network nodes all agree on what range of time values should be valid to be “now” or “near now” then each node could use its own time value in any data messages (transactions or dataChunks) and no third party timestamp server would be required.
I email (2) and let him know the time-stamp server issue has been resolved by having the nodes use a Kronos-Stamp.
“What the [redacted] is a ‘Kronos-Stamp’ ? ”, (2) asked.
I give him the explanation I gave to you ( the Reader ) above.
“But what’s this ‘Kronos’ word mean ?”, (2) asked.
“It’s short for “Chronological Order. It’s a Chronological Order Stamp. We don’t need a Time-Stamp any more,” I replied.
“But what’s with the ‘K’ ?”
“To annoy all those folks who’d rather get furious about misspelt words than try and understand the concept that’s being explained. ”
“Well, the crypto community won’t like it spelt like that. We’re going to have to call it a Time-Stamp server because that’s what they understand,” (2) said.
I said, “Time-Stamps are for systems using third party servers. Chronological Order Stamps are for peer-to-peer networks.”
“Ok,” (2) said. “We can use this time thing for making sure the dataChunks are in a chronological order but what stops someone from just changing the time of their computer to be a little earlier than someone else and having their version of the data accepted by everyone else?”
I said I’ll think on it some more.
A Chain of Data Chunks
On another project I was rereading some information about rendering graphical data.
In 3D graphics triangles are used to create any object you see onscreen.
Example of Triangle types:
Triangle Types
Each numbered dot represents a vertex.
The data for the vertices are placed into arrays called buffers.
They’re just a long list of data points which are loaded onto a graphics card and told to be drawn.
Triangle Strip
A triangle strip is a strip of triangles which share the data points from the previous triangle.
Each triangle in the strip is drawn alternating between clockwise/counter-clockwise (indicated by the red and green arrows)
The very first triangle must have all of its vertices added (all three vertices 1,2,3)
Every other triangle in the strip only has to add one more single vertex and reuse the previous two vertices.
The second triangle just adds the data for the vertex (4) and reuses vertices 2 and 3 that’s already embedded inside the strip.
This makes the strip incredibly compact in size for the data it’s meant to represent plus locks each triangle inside the strip and they cannot be accidentally used elsewhere.
If a triangle was wanted to be drawn in a different order then an entirely new triangle strip would have to be created.
A key side affect is that a triangle strip can be set to start drawing at any vertices (except vertices 2 and 3) and the entire strip from that data point onwards will be drawn.
I was staring at this for a long time thinking “This could be used for the electronic cash project somehow, but how exactly ?”
I kept going through the explanation for the triangle strip again and again trying to understand what I was seeing.
Then it dawned on me.
The triangles were the data in a triangle strip.
The chunks were the data in the electronic cash project.
If the triangles were actually the dataChunks then that means the vertices were the proof-of-work header, with the embedded root hash for the messages/ transactions.
The lines in the triangle strip represented the reuse of previous vertex data.
So that means I could reuse the proof-of-work hash from a previous dataChunk and embed that into the next proof-of-work as well !
And just like a triangle strip the dataChunks couldn’t be moved elsewhere unless all the surrounding proof-of-work hashes were redone again.
It reinforces the Kronos Stamp by embedding the previous proof-of-work hash into it so we know what came before now and what was next after previous.
If the entire network was using their cpu power to generate these proof-of-work hashes then a hostile actor would need half the processing power to get a fifty percent chance of generating the proof-of-work hash for a block and modifying the data.
However every second block on average would be generated by an opposing hostile actor and so whatever the fifty percent hostile actor was attempting to do wouldn’t last for very long.
DataChunk Chain
I needed to have some of the math for this looked at to see if I was on the right track.
I email (2) and let him know about this idea of hooking together the dataChunks like a chain so that they couldn’t be modified without redoing the proof-of-work hashing.
He liked the idea of a chain.
I said, “You see how all the appended dataChunk headers reuse the hash from the previous dataChunk header ? Take a look at the very first dataChunk.”
“What’s so special about that” , (2) asks.
“Well,” I say. “The first dataChunk header hasn’t got any previous hashes it can use, so in the beginning it will have to use a made up ‘previous hash’ in its header. In the beginning it has to use a manually create hash. In the beginning… get it?”
“What ?”, (2) asks.
“The very first data chunk is the Genesis dataChunk. In the beginning there is the Genesis dataChunk”, I reply.
He said he likes that idea very much as he’d just started being involved in a church in the past year or so.
I ask him to get the other cryptos he’s in contact with to play around with the numbers and see if this would work.
(2) asked, “Hang on. How would this solve the double-spending problem ?”
I'll stop this story here for now and post a follow-up depending upon its reception.
I guess I've found reddit's posting character limit. 40,000 characters. There was going to be another 10,000 characters in this post however that will have to wait till next time.
Bitcoin Origins - part 3
This is a continuation from the previous reddit post:
Bitcoin Origins
Cheers,
Phil
(Scronty)
vu.hn
submitted by Scronty to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

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