Monday, November 22, 2010

Maguindanao Massacre

In Memory of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre.

"There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is. " -- Isaac Bashevis Singer

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

10 signs of incompetent managers

Author: Toni Bowers

I came across a great piece about traits that incompetent managers share. Written by Margaret Heffernan for, this no-nonsense piece cuts to the chase and is about as true a list as I’ve ever seen. Here are the traits of incompetent managers, according to Ms. Heffernan:
  1. Bias against action: There are always plenty of reasons not to take a decision, reasons to wait for more information, more options, more opinions. But real leaders display a consistent bias for action. People who don’t make mistakes generally don’t make anything. Legendary ad man David Ogilvy argued that a good decision today is worth far more than a perfect decision next month. Beware prevaricators.
  2. Secrecy: “We can’t tell the staff,” is something I hear managers say repeatedly. They defend this position with the argument that staff will be distracted, confused or simply unable to comprehend what is happening in the business. If you treat employees like children, they will behave that way — which means trouble. If you treat them like adults, they may just respond likewise. Very few matters in business must remain confidential and good managers can identify those easily. The lover of secrecy has trouble being honest and is afraid of letting peers have the information they need to challenge him. He would rather defend his position than advance the mission. Secrets make companies political, anxious and full of distrust.
  3. Over-sensitivity: “I know she’s always late, but if I raise the subject, she’ll be hurt.” An inability to be direct and honest with staff is a critical warning sign. Can your manager see a problem, address it headlong and move on? If not, problems won’t get resolved, they’ll grow. When managers say staff is too sensitive, they are usually describing themselves. Wilting violets don’t make great leaders. Weed them out. Interestingly, secrecy and over-sensitivity almost always travel together. They are a bias against honesty.
  4. Love of procedure: Managers who cleave to the rule book, to points of order and who refer to colleagues by their titles have forgotten that rules and processes exist to expedite business, not ritualize it. Love of procedure often masks a fatal inability to prioritize — a tendency to polish the silver while the house is burning.
  5. Preference for weak candidates: We interviewed three job candidates for a new position. One was clearly too junior, the other rubbed everyone up the wrong way and the third stood head and shoulders above the rest. Who did our manager want to hire? The junior. She felt threatened by the super-competent manager and hadn’t the confidence to know that you must always hire people smarter than yourself.
  6. Focus on small tasks: Another senior salesperson I hired always produced the most perfect charts, forecasts and spreadsheets. She was always on time, her data completely up-to-date. She would always volunteer for projects in which she had no core expertise — marketing plans, financial forecasts, meetings with bank managers, the office move. It was all displacement activity to hide the fact that she could not do her real job.
  7. Inability to hire former employees: I hired a head of sales once with (apparently) a luminous reputation. But, as we staffed up, he never attracted any candidates from his old company. He’d worked in sales for twenty years — hadn’t he mentored anyone who’d want to work with him again? Every good manager has alumni, eager to join the team again; if they don’t, smell a rat.
  8. Allergy to deadlines: A deadline is a commitment. The manager who cannot set, and stick to deadlines, cannot honor commitments. A failure to set and meet deadlines also means that no one can ever feel a true sense of achievement. You can’t celebrate milestones if there aren’t any.
  9. Addiction to consultants: A common — but expensive — way to put off making decisions is to hire consultants who can recommend several alternatives. While they’re figuring these out, managers don’t have to do anything. And when the consultant’s choices are presented, the ensuing debates can often absorb hours, days, months. Meanwhile, your organization is poorer but it isn’t any smarter. When the consultant leaves, he takes your money and his increased expertise out the door with him.
  10. Long hours: In my experience, bad managers work very long hours. They think this is a brand of heroism but it is probably the single biggest hallmark of incompetence. To work effectively, you must prioritize and you must pace yourself. The manager who boasts of late nights, early mornings and no time off cannot manage himself so you’d better not let him manage anyone else.
  11. Credits:

Top 10 Day Trips

Sometimes you don't have a full weekend to enjoy your down time. Here are 10 destinations and activities that take only a full day whether it's by yourself, with your chicas, your family, or your honey!

By Kage Gozun

1. Viajes del Sol

The brainchild of designer Patis Tesoro, the Viajes del Sol (Travels of the Sun) is comprised of 16 establishments in Laguna and Quezon that deal with art and/or culture. This is not a packaged tour but rather a suggested itinerary for those who wish to learn more about the area and maybe pick up some good eats and treats along the way.
For more information:

2. Trek through Mt. Pinatubo.

Strap on a sturdy pair of sneakers, slather on the sunscreen, and take a scenic trek through Mount Pinatubo. The hike is over easy terrain so even first-timers won't have a hard time. Some day tours also include a stop at the PDC Spa.
For more information:

3. Club Manila East. Taytay, Rizal

Get wet and possibly even a tan without having to be at a beach! Club Manila East is best known for its in-house surf lessons at their wavepool. Book lessons in advance through the Philippine Surfing Academy and get your first taste of surfing, without being in the ocean.
For more information: or look for Philippine Surfing Academy on Facebook

4. The Binondo Wok, Chinatown

Combine two pleasures by feasting with both your eyes and taste buds during this tour of Chinatown's best. The tour, led by Ivan Dy, is a taste trip that is best experienced rather than read about. Bring along your cameras to capture the sights of Chinatown, as well as the delicious meals.
For more information:

5. Zoobic and Ocean Adventure, Subic

Drive down to Subic and enjoy two great family treats! Zoobic boasts of the only tiger safari in the country. There is a guided tour of the park, which covers different species on display, including a petting area for the smaller kiddies. Afterwards, if you've still got the energy, check out the nearby Ocean Adventure park for a chance to get up close and personal with marine life. There are sea lion, dolphin and false killer whale shows as well that delight audiences of all ages.

6. The Angono Rizal Art Tour

Angono is considered one of the major hubs for art in Luzon as evidenced by the numerous galleries. Many artists hold residences-cum-galleries that are open to the public. Dona Aurora Street features the works of the Franciscos, Charlie Anorico and other greats. Other must-sees are the Blanco Family Family Museum and the Nemiranda Art House. Round off the day with an exotic meal at the famous Balaw Balaw restaurant, that lists crickets, frogs and coconut worms on the menu. For the faint of stomach, more traditional Tagalog food is on offer.

7. Ilog Maria and Food Tripping in Tagaytay

Make a day of the fresh air and great eats in Tagaytay. Start with a delightful meal at Breakfast at Antonio's (if it's cold, have a cup of hot cocoa) before driving down to the Ilog Maria facility to pick up honey-based products made with the farm's in-house bee hives (the body soaps and the shampoos are very popular). If you find yourself with a need to nosh, drop by Sonja's Garden for fresh veggie dishes or to Leslie's if you're more meat-inclined (they are famous for their bulalo).

8. Siete Lagos, San Pablo

The seven scenic lakes of San Pablo carry large historical significance for the locals of the area. All can be visited within the day. The twin lakes of Yambo and Pandin with Yambo are supposedly the most amazing of all seven. Weather permitting, swimming can be an option. You can even rent rafts from the locals for some down time on the water.

9. Corregidor Island

The historic island offers chances to see an underground hospital (Malinta Tunnel), artillery batteries and other relics from World War II. Aside from these, you can spend the day hiking, rock climbing, and surprisingly, even snorkeling.
For more information:

10. Lago de Oro, Calatagan, Batangas

Don't have the time to go all the way to Camarines Sur? Then pack your bikinis and head to Batangas instead. The cable and ski park at Lago de Oro is a great place to learn wake boarding, meet new people and get a tan!
For more information:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Scallops in Garlic Butter

Seafood lovers are going to enjoy this decadent recipe for scallops sauteed in garlic butter!

1 pound scallops, cleaned
1/2 cup butter
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4 tablespoons sherry
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1. Cut scallops into quarters, if large. In skillet melt butter over low heat. Saute garlic until golden brown, remove from pan.
2. To garlic butter add sherry and scallops and saute 2 to 3 minutes. In bowl mix crumbs, parsley, garlic powder, paprika mustart, and Ajinomoto Umami Super Seasoning. To bread crumbs, add 2 tablespoons of liquid from skillet. Stir until moistened.
3. Arrange scallops and butter in single layer in a shallow pan, sprinkle with bread crumb mixture. Bake in 450 degree oven. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.

For Shirley Temples:
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage
1 tablespoon grenadine syrup
1 maraschino cherry

To make:
1. In a tall glass, combine orange juice and lemon-lime soda. Pour grenadine in and let it sink to the bottom. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a straw for stirring.

Steak and Mushrooms

This is a simple, delicious, hearty dish anyone you serve it to is going to love!


4 pieces tenderloin steaks
50 grams shallots
2 ounces Butter (1/2 stick)
450 grams assorted mushrooms (mushrooms, portabello, morel, shitake, button)
1/2 cup Red Wine
3 ounces Demi-Glace instant
Ajinomoto Umami Super seasoning
1 cup Hot Water
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parsley for garnish

1. Preheat your grill until really hot. Season the steaks with a little salt and pepper.
2. Cook steak on the grill approximately 3-4 minutes per side.

To make the Wild Mushroom Sauce:
3. Melt butter in a sauce pan and saute shallots until transparent, 2-3 minutes.
4. Add red wine.
5. Add mushrooms and cook until tender and wine has reduced to an essence. Add Demi-Glace and stir with a whisk until dissolved.
6. Season with Ajinomoto Umami super seasoning,
7. Add hot water and simmer until the sauce has thickened. Serve with hot steaks. Garnish with parsley.

Lamb Couscous

Don't cook much with couscous? Get familiar with this exotic ingredient by trying this recipe!


4 Lamb chops, about 1 1/4-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Ajinomoto Umami Super seasoning
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
3 cloves fresh garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (12-ounce) package couscous
1 can of tomato, diced
Fresh parsley
1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
1cup herb flavored feta cheese


1. Pre-heat broiler for 15 minutes. Season chops with salt and pepper.
2. In a small food processor, process rosemary, oregano, garlic and olive oil into a paste and season w/ Ajinomoto Umami super seasoning.
3. Place chops on broiler pan and broil as close to heat source as possible for 3 to 4 minutes on one side, turn and broil for 1 to 2 minutes on other side.
4. Remove broiler pan from oven and brush herb coating on top of chop. Return broiler pan with chops to oven, coated side up and continue until chops reach desired doneness. . Remove chops and cover; let rest.
5. Prepare couscous according to packet directions. When done, lightly stir in tomato, parsley and half cup of herb feta cheese. Sprinkle remaining cheese on chops and serve immediately.

Chicken Parmigiana Pasta

This pasta is perfect for picky eaters because it has a little bit of everything!


4 chicken breasts, deboned, skinned, and halved down the vein
1 cup Italian dressing
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
Olive oil
1 quart pasta sauce- choose the herbed one
Ajinomoto Umami Super seasoning
4 cups of shredded mozzarella
250 grams penne

1. Put the chicken pieces in a zip-lock bag with the prepared Italian dressing, make sure all surfaces of each piece of chicken gets exposed to the dressing.
2. Remove the chicken and season with Ajinomoto Umami super seasoning. Then roll each piece in a bowl with the breadcrumbs.
3. Lightly brown each piece in some olive oil in a saute pan and then set them aside on paper towels to drain the excess oil. This is just to seal the chicken, not to cook through.
4. Bring water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Once the pasta is drained mix it with most of the pasta sauce and turn this into a baking dish. Place the chicken pieces atop the pasta sauce over the chicken and then top with the shredded cheese.
5. Bake this at 350F for a few minutes. Serve.

Sens-Asian-al Fettucine

Try making this recipe for Asian-inspired fettucine!

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ginger, minced
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup chili garlic sauce
3 tablespoons java sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup peanuts
Sesame seeds
250 grams shrimp, chopped
1 pack fettuccini pasta
Ajinomoto Umami Super Seasoning
Salt and Pepper

1. Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente.
2. In a pan, saute the ginger and garlic in sesame and olive oil for 1 minute
3. Then add the hoisin sauce, chili garlic and java sauce. Cook until all the flavors are well incorporated.
4. Add in the shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes to avoid overcooking it.
5. Toast the sesame seeds and peanuts then top over the pasta before serving.
6. Mix in the pasta with the sauce and garnish with the toasted nuts and sesame seeds and garnish with wansuy.

Coconut Cake

Want to make a dessert that will impress your guests? Coconut cakes are always decadently delicious and beautiful to look at, so this recipe is perfect if you're throwing a party at home and want to wow your guests.


16 ounces unsalted butter, cubed
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon coconut extract

3 cups coconut milk
2 cups milk
3 cups sugar
16 ounces unsalted butter, cubed
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon coconut extract
2 tablespoons water
8 cups sweetened coconut flakes

2 cups whipping cream, preferably coconut flavor
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes, for decorating


1.FOR THE CAKE: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray two 10-inch round cake pans with cooking spray; set aside. or grease, butter, flour and line 2 10-inch pans.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until creamy, occasionally scraping down sides of the bowl using a spatula.
4. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. In a small bowl, mix together milk and coconut extract. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture, alternating with cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour; beat until just combined.
6. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before removing cakes from pans.
7. FOR THE FILLING: Place cream, sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved.
8. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together cornstarch, coconut extract, and 2 tablespoons water to the cream mixture, bring to a boil, and simmer until thickened, about 1 minute.
9. Remove cream mixture from heat and stir in coconut until well combined. Transfer to a large baking dish; let cool.
10. Cover filling with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Just before using, place mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth and creamy, 4 to 5 minutes.
11. FOR THE ICING: Place whipping cream in a bowl of an electric mixer. Gradually add confectioner's sugar and whip until stiff.
12. Ice the cake with the whipped cream, then place sweetened coconut flakes on the sides and top of the cake.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Yummy Chicken Breast Lunches

Bring back life to the lunch baon! Putting together an interesting variety of ingredients is a sure-fire way of making each meal interesting and appealing. With these suggestions, you might not be able to wait for lunchtime before digging in!

By Chupsie Medina

For quick, easy-to-prepare meals that you will want to bring to the office or even for your child to enjoy during the school lunch break, think chicken breast.

A pack of chicken breast fillets will go a long, long way-with rice, pasta, or as a sandwich. Grill, boil, fry, or bake it. Mix with vegetables, fruits, even nuts. Prepare creamy or spicy. There are endless meal variations you can enjoy with chicken breast. Best of all, it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to prepare.

Between Bread

A chicken sandwich is one of the easiest meals that even kids will find hard to resist. And it can be packed with all the right nutrients. Boil the chicken with some celery (or a halved onion), salt, and pepper. When cooked, chop your chicken in cubes and blend with just enough mayonnaise to coat, add a touch of mustard for spice, and flavor with a pinch of salt and a dash of finely ground pepper.

Instead of the usual pickle relish, why not use chopped mangoes, apples, or even grapes to your chicken mix. You may even add coarsely cut walnuts or slivers of almonds. For a zesty taste, toss in half an onion, a stalk of celery, or even a small bell pepper-all finely chopped.

Line some greens on one face of the bread (best to choose multi-grain or whole wheat) before slathering on the chicken mixture. Be adventurous: instead of choosing iceberg lettuce, go for alfalfa shoots or arugula. If you want to add a slice of tomato, choose one that’s ripe but firm; you don’t want to be munching on something soggy five hours after it’s been prepared.

Toss It

Grilled chicken is a great addition to a salad. Pound your chicken fillets for equal thickness. Season each side with lemon (or calamansi) juice, salt and pepper, and toss on a hot grill plate to char for a maximum of five minutes per side.

You may want to slice it diagonally, chop it into cubes, or shred it to pieces. Toss them with romaine leaves that have been cut into bite size pieces. You can add croutons, chopped nuts, and slices of parmesan cheese or even marinated feta. A handful of choice fresh fruits will also give added tang. Try pomelo or orange segments, even cubed cantaloupe or avocado.

To put more life in your salad, mix balsamic vinegar and olive oil of equal proportions. Pack this simple dressing separately, and pour over your greens just before eating it.


If you can’t survive the day without rice for lunch, try chicken bistek, a pick up from the Filipino beefsteak dish. It’s best to marinate the chicken fillets in soy sauce, the juice of about six calamansi, and ground pepper overnight. Slice white onions in rings and fry in vegetable oil (or even butter) until they wilt in the pan. Set aside. In the same pan, fry the chicken until well done. Set aside in a separate container.

Add about 1/2 cup of water to what’s left of the marinade, and bring to a boil in the frying pan together with all the drippings from the fried onions and chicken. Reduce to about 1/4 cup for the bistek sauce.

Top the cooked chicken meat with the fried onion rings and pour the sauce. For veggies, pick from a variety of colorful choices: bean sprouts, julienned carrots, diced zucchini, or broccoli. You can steam or lightly saute in butter or olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. Remember, to get the best taste from your vegetables, use only the freshest.

With chicken breasts as the basic ingredient, the variations you could think of are almost limitless.

Vanilla Cupcakes

These simple cupcakes are perfect canvases for a variety of designs and flavored icings!

1 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 pieces eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2- 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
4. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla.
5. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition.
6. Using an ice cream scooper, scoop batter onto the lined muffin tins filling it only 3/4, tap the pan several times to level the batter off or smooth with an offset spatula.
7. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack and cool completely before icing the cakes.

Chili Cheese Sticks

Are you ready to try this different take on cheese sticks? Your taste buds will go crazy over this great recipe that’s perfect to be shared with friends!

Lumpia wrapper
Cheddar cheese Quick Melt sliced into match sticks
Nori wrapper
Siling haba, split and seeds removed
Strawberry jam
A dash of Aji-No-Moto Umami Super Seasoning
Oil for deep frying
Chli powder
Lemon juice
Stawberries, for garnish

1. Ready your pan and deep fryer.
2. Slice the cheese and siling haba in half and remove seeds.
3. Slice a nori sheet that will be enough to roll the sliced chili and cheese and place in nori wrapper and roll.
4. Transfer the rolled nori wrapper in a lumpia wrapper and wrap carefully. 5. Secure both sides and ends of the wrapper with a mixture of cornstarch and water.
6. Deep fry until golden brown.

For sauce:
1. In a pan, dilute strawberry jam with water.
2. Add chili powder, lemon juice and Aji-No-Moto Umami Super Seasoing and serve.

Light Angel Food Cake

Looking for a dessert that's light on the waistline but not on flavor? Then this recipe for light angel food cake is just what you need!

1 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup eggwhites
1 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

For Garnish:
1 cup whipped cream
mint leaves

1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Whip eggwhites, cream of tartar, lemon juice a until frothy.
3. Slowly add 1/2 cup sugar, beat until stiff
4. Sift together self raising flour and 1/4 cup sugar.
5. Fold flour mixture and vanilla into the eggwhites.
6. Bake in a tube pan for 40 minutes
7. Invert and cool completely
To make self Raising flour :
Sift together 450 grams cake flour with 1 Tbsp baking powder and 1 1/2 tsp
salt. Get 1 cup for the recipe.

The Best Cheesecake Recipe

1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/4 C melted butter
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 C sugar

4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/2 C white sugar
3/4 C milk
4 eggs
1 C sour cream
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 C all-purpose flour

1.Pre-heat oven to 325 F.

2. Mix graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, ground cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. These obviously comprise the crust and you want to press this mixture down onto the bottom of a well-greased (bottom and sides) 9-inch springform pan. I thought the crust looked quite thin when I did that so I doubled mine. Also, I substituted the sugar with some coco sap sweetener (available at the Echo Store) I had lying around. But not for the next step.

3. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Gradually add the eggs one by one then add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and flour. It is crucial to note that all ingredients have to be at room temperature and to remember not to handle the mixture too much. I did all this with a wooden spoon, nothing else. I was a little concerned when the flour went in because I thought it looked a little lumpy but just try to get everything blended nicely without overworking it and it will be fine.

4. Pour above mixture into the springform pan and pop it in the oven with bain marie. Bain marie is when you have water in the lower rack. Some people would put the springform pan in a bigger pan filled with water. I don’t think it makes a world of difference so whatever floats your boat.

5. And now, the part that, I think, tips the scale from good cheesecake to The Best Cheesecake. Ever. - bake for 1 hour and then forget about it. The recipe states that it has to cool in the oven, bain marie and all, for about 5 hours.

Ten 10-Minute Recipes

Cucumber and Yogurt Salad

Here's a light, refreshing salad, perfect for starting any meal!


1 Pack mixed greens
1 carrot, fine juliene
2 cucumber, big cubes
1 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh dill
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 teaspoons pink peppercorn
1 pack cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Pita bread, toasted and cut into triangles.


1. In a hot pan, brown the pita bread and cut into triangles. Set aside.
2. Add the fresh dill with the yoghurt and season with Ajinomoto Umami Super seasoning and toss together all the other ingredients together in a bowl.
3. Assemble the salad and top with crumbled feta cheese and pink peppercorn.

Calamares with Dilis Breading and Lemon Beurre Blanc Sauce

Here's a zesty twist to your everyday fried squid dish!

2 cups Dilis
2 eggs
1 cup Flour
500 grams Squid, cut into rings
Ajinomoto Umami Super Seasoning

1. Grind Dilis in food processor (don’t over grind).
2. Season squid with salt pepper, and Ajinomoto Umami Super Seasoning.
3. Dredge in flour; dip in eggs, then to ground Dilis. Deep-fry for 1-2 minutes only.

Lemon Beuure Blanc Sauce

2 teaspoons chopped shallots
5 black peppercorns
30 milliliters White wine vinegar
15 milliliters Lemon Juice
100 grams butter, cubed and chilled
Ajinomoto Umami Super seasoning
Lemon Zest

1. Combine shallots, peppercorns, white wine vinegar, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Reduce over medium-high heat until Au Sec (almost dry).
2. Refresh with 1 tbsp of water. Strain.
3. Return to heat then add butter gradually until well blended.
4. Season with salt, pepper, and Ajinomoto Umami super seasoning. Adjust flavor with more lemon juice.
5. Add lemon zest. Keep warm.

Pandesal Pizza With A Twist!

Looking for the perfect merienda treat? Take pan de sal to a whole new level with this pizza recipe! And to accompany that pizza, add healthy greens with the Garden Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette. This will be a complete meal that is not only healthy, but filling as well!

10 pan de sal, cut into halves
1 can tomato paste
A few basil leaves
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
A dash of Aji-No-Moto Umami Super Seasoning
2 slices of Spanish sardines, bottled
4 Slices of red egg, cut into quarters
5 tablespoons cheddar cheese
5 tablespoons kesong puti

For vinaigrette salad:
1 pack mixed greens
Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 pack mixed greens
1/2 pack cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
kesong puti

For Pandesal Pizza:
1. Cut pan de sal in half and flatten with a rolling pin.
2. Add a dash of olive oil to the baking pan where the pan de sal will be laid for heating inside the oven.
3. In a bowl, add Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, and Aji-No-Moto Umami super seasoning and mix.
4. Slice basil leaves.
5. Spread tomato sauce mixture to pan de sal and add sliced basil leaves.
6. Quarter a salted egg.
7. Grate cheddar cheese and add to pan de sal along with kesong puti and heat in an oven.

For Salad:
1. In a bowl, add mixed greens and baby tomatoes.
2. Toss in honey balsamic vinaigrette and top with kesong puti.

Pitter-Patter Potato Gratin

Here's a cheesy and creamy potato dish your family is sure to love! This recipe for potato gratin is easy to whip up and it only takes five minutes to bake-perfect for moms on the go!

12 ounces bacon slices, chopped
2 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 kilo potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced into rounds, par boiled
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces arugula, trimmed, coarsely chopped
Ajinomoto Umami Super Seasoning
Salt and pepper
2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375F. Butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish.
2. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels and drain
3. Mix cream and milk in 4-cup measuring cup, season with Ajinomoto Umami Super Seasoning/
4. Layer 1/3 of potatoes in prepared dish; overlap slightly. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
5. Top potatoes with half of arugula. Top with 1/3 of cheese and 1/3 of bacon. Pour 1 cup cream mixture over. Repeat layering.
6. Top with remaining potatoes. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, remaining cheese and bacon. Pour remaining cream mixture over.
7. Bake gratin uncovered until potatoes are tender and cream mixture thickens, about 5 minutes

Storm Seafood Bisque

Thinking about making soup for dinner? This hearty soup is creamy, filling, and perfect for people who love eating seafood!

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 cup shrimp stock
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 pound medium shrimp - peeled and deveined
1/2 pound pre-cooked crab meat
1/2 cup white wine
Ajinomoto Umami Super Seasoning
salt and pepper

1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over a low heat. Stir in flour, salt, white pepper, and onion. Blend shrimp stock and 3/4 cream into the mixture. Mix in shrimp and crab meat. Turn the temperature to medium heat and continue stirring until the mixture thickens.
2. Blend the remaining half-and-half cream and wine into the mixture. Season with Ajinomoto Umami Super Seasoning, salt and pepper

Baked Oysters with Saluyot and Goat Cheese

Oysters Rockefeller is a popular dish in the United States. It’s usually made with cheese, butter, and bread crumbs, but this time, we’ll give it a Pinoy twist. We’ll use saluyot and goat cheese instead of the usual toppings for this yummy shellfish.

24 oysters in shells, pre-boiled
1 tablespoon chopped onion
2 tablespoons snipped parsley
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup chopped saluyot
A dash of Aji-No-Moto Umami Super Seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Goat Cheese

1. In a bowl, add the butter and bread crumbs. Mix them together and add 1/3 of the chopped onion.
2. Chop your saluyot leaves and add this to Step #1 along with the paprika.
3. In a baking pan, add rock salt and place oysters on top. This is to hold the shell for easy preparation.
4. Slice the goat cheese and place on top of the oyster.
5. Add the Aji-No-Moto Umami Super Seasoning mix, salt and pepper to the bread crumb mixture.
6. Add the mixture on top of the oysters and bake until the goat cheese melts.
7. Fry some bacon and drain out the oil in paper towel. Top bacon in the oysters.


Finding balance between supporting the technically savvy vs. the technically challenged

Some people embrace new methods and updated technology, while others cling to the old familiar ways. How do you find balance between supporting those two extremes?
A friend of mine, who also provides user support, was commenting to me recently about his frustration when people don’t take the time to learn new methods, keep things updated, or embrace new technology when it’s provided. He had a couple of specific issues he was frustrated with.
If seems that not all people he supports update their various e-mail distribution lists when they’re provided, and when others get left off future e-mail notifications, he’s the one who has to field the complaints. He’s in a position where he doesn’t have direct access to the computer users he supports (or their computers), and he has to rely on them to import updated e-mail address distribution lists on a regular basis. Only about half of them, he says, will regularly and immediately update their contacts list.
Another issue he’s been having is when some people don’t fill in pre-created forms on their computer. These specific forms are ones he’s created that would automatically tab to the fields that needed to be filled out, and then could simply be e-mailed back in their completed state. But many people, for some reason, would rather print out the form, fill it out by hand, scan it into a different file, and send back the scanned file. Why they didn’t take advantage of the easier and time-saving form that was provided is anybody’s guess.
I didn’t have an answer to his frustrations, but I suppose he just wanted a sympathetic ear to listen to him vent. I suppose I would call or e-mail the people who seem to be falling short and offer to lend whatever help they might need to get things right. If they continue to fall short, I’d continue to send them e-mails to keep reminding them. When you don’t have direct access to the people or their computers, like in his case, it could present a bit of a challenge.
Do you have any similar experiences finding balance between supporting the technical savvy versus the technically challenged (or, in some cases, the technically lazy)?

10+ interview questions that will help reveal a candidate's true qualities

Today’s IT job hunters are often so adept at fielding interview questions, it can be difficult to get a read on whether they’d be a good fit for your organization. Asking some of these questions may give you a glimpse of the person behind that candidate facade.

Determining a candidate’s technical skills is a major goal in an interview, but finding out how the person will fit into your organization’s culture is also essential. These days, however, candidates tend to be interview-savvy and well rehearsed in responding to typical questions. So how do you break through a candidate’s facade and find out what you really want to know? Here are some questions you may want to consider asking to help you gain some legitimate insight into the person you’re interviewing.
Note: These suggestions are based on the article “Questions I’d like to ask the next time I’m hiring,” along with some member suggestions. It’s also available as a PDF download.

1: How’s your stamina?

We’re not talking primarily about physical stamina here, although that’s part of it. In a lot of shops, the workload can grind people down if they aren’t strong enough to handle it. It’s important to let candidates know that a position will be demanding-as well as to see how they rate themselves in the fortitude department.

2: How hard have you been working lately?

Even the most industrious employees can lose the habit of working hard if they’ve been in a situation that doesn’t require it. And a candidate who’s fallen into “coasting” mode may have trouble ramping up for the effort you require. Conversely, a candidate who speaks enthusiastically about being engaged in challenging projects may well be a self-starter who could energize your team with his or her commitment and work ethic.

3: How do you react to being told “No”?

A big part of the typical manager’s job is telling people why they can’t do something-either because they don’t have the money or resources or because an idea or proposal is no good. And let’s face it: Some folks don’t handle being told No that well. A candid response to this question may not tell you for sure how well candidates handle the issue, but it could give you a picture of whether they’re aware of their own tendencies.

4: Can you handle telling other people “No”?

If don’t want to be the DDrN (Designated Dr. No) for the organization, you need people on your team who are willing and able to share the load. Of course, you don’t want someone who’s chomping at the bit to slap people down, either. But it can be revealing to see how many candidates respond along these lines: “I don’t really feel comfortable telling other people they can’t do things. I just worry about my own responsibilities.”

5: How good are you — REALLY — at handling change?

Everybody asks this question, so of course every candidate has a prepared answer. It goes like this: “I think it’s important to be flexible and adapt to new circumstances. One time, [insert anecdote illustrating ability to manage change here]….” This is a critical problem for managers, because the pace of change continues to accelerate, but a lot of job candidates are extremely uncomfortable with it. Trying to identify those folks during the interview process may require you to ask about it point-blank–and then hope that the candidate will abandon the script at some point so you can have an earnest discussion.

6: Are you a good scrounger?

A common interview question centers around a candidate’s problem-solving capability. But this question focuses on a candidate’s ability to come up with the resources out of what he or she has on the shelf. (Think of the James Garner character “The Scrounger” from the movie The Great Escape, who comes up with camera, pipe, or whatever else the POWs need when planning their breakout.)

7: When conflict arises on your team, how do you handle it?

This is one of those questions that can easily be fielded with a stock answer and a polished anecdote, so it’s up to you to try to elicit something more illuminating. Often this will just be a matter of asking follow-up questions (and these don’t have to be formulaic; just have a conversation around what the candidate has told you). You can also pose a scenario and ask candidates what they might do in a particular situation. Is this approach contrived? You bet it is. But it will challenge candidates to think on their feet and may provide useful clues about their personality and conflict management skills.

8: What have the last few years taught you?

Anyone who’s been in IT for awhile knows that the industry has had some serious ups and downs. This questions is designed to get at what the job candidate has learned through the periods of explosive growth as well as through the tough downturns, tight budgets, and shifts in the job market.

9: What type of people do you like to work with?

Even if you get a canned response here, you may be able to get a glimpse of the candidate’s personality. Previous experiences and genuine preferences will often filter through to their answers. For example: “I like to work with people who really know what they’re talking about, not people who just want to show everyone how smart they are”; “I like to work with people who I can bounce ideas off of”; “I like to work with people who respect what I do.”

10: How do you stay current?

Since this one comes right out of Interviewing 101, most candidates will be ready for it. But it’s still a critical question that must be addressed. The technology changes so quickly that all of our past experience decreases in value daily. You can’t hire an IT professional without assessing their plans to keep abreast of new products and technologies.

11: What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to do professionally?

This question also comes out of the interviewing playbook, but it’s still a good one. It’s interesting to see whether the candidate mentions some technical achievement or project or discusses something more personal instead — for example, having to fire an employee.

12: How would you describe your perfect job?

You can learn a lot from the responses to this question, and it may spark a lively conversation as well. You might discover that the candidate is quite assertive in describing what he or she wants a position to provide; in fact, you may learn a thing or two that will help you craft a better job description for the position. You might also find out that a candidate has some unrealistic expectations about the respective roles of employer and employee-which could lead to disappointment and poor performance if left unaddressed.

13: If you could take back one career decision, what would it be?

This is a pretty good shot-in-the-dark question. There is certainly no “right” answer, but it can be useful to see how candidates respond. Can they point to something instantly or do they have to consider? Maybe they’ll be confident enough to admit, “I can’t think of anything substantial. So far, I’m pretty pleased with how my career is going.” Sometimes, ambivalence or dissatisfaction come to light, suggesting that they’re headed down the wrong path altogether. Regardless of their answer, this question can lead to an interesting discussion.


Four resume tips for older workers

People aged 55 and older are twice as likely to experience age barriers in employment than any other discrimination. Here are some resume tips on how older workers can get around this issue.
According to research from the University of Kent, from age 55, people worldwide are nearly twice as likely to have experienced age barriers than any other discrimination.
I’ve heard a lot from my older readers in regard to age discrimination. Some talk about discrimination they’ve faced while on the job, but even more of them point out discrimination they face when they’re looking for a job. The latter is perhaps worse because it’s harder to prove. After all, how can you prove that a hiring manager, in the privacy of his office, took one look at the college graduation date on your resume and tossed it?
Although it doesn’t look like our youth-obsessed culture is going to change any time soon, there are a few things that you, as an older worker, can do to give yourself a fighting chance at landing a job. One is to craft your resume in such a way that your accomplishments and skills are highlighted instead of the number of years you spent developing and achieving them.
First, leave off the dates. Don’t include your birth date, graduation date, or, if you can avoid it, dates of employment.
Consider using a chrono-functional resume. This resume is organized around functional skills clusters. You can list a bare-bones work history at the bottom of your resume, but only after you’ve emphasized the relevant skills; this de-emphasizes the dates. It may be a little difficult to discuss functional skills without, for example, mentioning particular software versions you’ve worked with (which would then indicate the time span within which you were working), but it can be finessed.
List only the last 10-15 years of work experience. There’s no need to list anything further back than that.
Instead of citing 20 years of experience, identify your benefits to the employer and put them into monetary terms. Back up your accomplishments with facts that are benefit-based. Sell them from the perspective of the result of your work and how it served your present and previous employers.
Last — and this advice holds not just for the sake of your resume but for your career in general — keep your skills current. If you can show that you are constantly learning and moving forward, then you can do your part to dispel the old adage that old dogs can’t learn new tricks.


Change the registered owner of Windows XP the easy way

By: Greg Shultz

When you install any version of the Windows operating system, a part of the installation procedure prompts you to enter the user’s name and the name of the user’s company. This registration information is stored in the registry and can be changed by carefully editing the data with the Registry Editor. However, not everyone is comfortable with firing up the Registry Editor and delving into its data. Even if you’re familiar with editing the registry, it’s a time-consuming job. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just pop open a dialog box and enter the new registration information? Well, now you can.
Note: This tool was originally published in October 2002 and is designed for Windows XP and earlier versions of Windows — not for Windows Vista or Windows 7.
I’ve developed the Registration Changer, a tool that makes quick work of this tedious task. To create the inner workings of the Registration Changer, I combined features made available by Windows Script Host and VBScript to create a script. Then, to give the utility a neat user interface, I packaged the script in an HTML Application (HTA). In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll introduce you to my Registration Changer utility, which is available as a free download, and explain how it works.

A closer look at the registration information

Registration information, which consists of the owner’s name and a company name (if specified), is stored in the registry as simple text strings. The owner’s name is stored in the RegisteredOwner key, while the company name is stored in the RegisteredOrganization key. Registration information is displayed on the General tab of the System Properties dialog box under the Registered To heading, as shown in Figure A.
Figure A

The user’s name and the name of the user’s company appear on the General tab of the System Properties dialog box under the Registered To heading.
This is fine as long as the user sticks with that system, but you’ll want to change the entries when they pass along the system to someone else in the company.

Back up!

Always use caution when working with the registry. Unintentional changes made to the registry can cause the system to crash. Always back up your system before opening the registry.
As you may know, the underlying structure of the registry in each of the Microsoft operating systems is very similar. However, there are slight differences. In the Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Me operating systems, the RegisteredOwner and RegisteredOrganization keys are stored in the key:
In Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP, the keys are stored in the key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

Blank keys

Keep in mind that either or both of the RegisteredOwner and RegisteredOrganization keys can be blank. In other words, the keys exist in the registry, but they contain an empty string.

Automating registry changes

As I mentioned, manually editing the registration information stored in the registry via the Registry Editor can be a tricky and time-consuming operation. Fortunately, the Windows Script Host provides programming methods that allow you to quickly and easily automate the process of editing the registry. The two methods that I use in this script are the RegRead and RegWrite methods.
As its name implies, the RegRead method allows you to access a key in the registry and read the value stored in that particular key. Likewise, the RegWrite method allows you to change the value of any particular key in the registry.
The Windows Script Host actually provides you with one more method for making modifications to the registry, the RegDelete method. However, since the Registration Changer utility doesn’t really need to explicitly delete anything from the registry and because the RegWrite method can actually overwrite an existing value, I didn’t need to use the RegDelete method in the script. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that RegDelete is available.
In order to use the RegRead and RegWrite methods, you need to know the exact name of the key in the registry that you want to edit, as well as its exact path. You also need to know what type of data the key holds. Without getting into too much detail on this last point, there are actually four different data types that the registry contains: strings, 32-bit unsigned values, binary data, and expandable macro strings.

Installing the Registration Changer utility

Once you’ve downloaded the Registration Changer utility installation package, simply double-click the RegChange Installation.exe file. When you do, the installation program will prompt you to choose a folder in which to install the application. If the folder doesn’t exist, the installation program will create it for you.
After you install the Registration Changer utility, you’ll see the following two files in your chosen folder:
Of course, the RegChange.hta file is the HTA file that you’ll use to launch the application. The RegChange.ico file contains the icon that the HTA uses for the control menu and the taskbar.

Using the Registration Changer utility

Using the Registration Changer utility is easy. After you install the utility, just double-click the HTA file to launch it. If you prefer, you can create a shortcut to the HTA file and place it on your Start menu. Once you launch the Registration Changer utility, you’ll see the main screen shown in Figure B.

Figure B

The Registration Changer utility makes it easy to change registration information.
To begin, you need to select the operating system you’re using. As you can see, the operating systems are grouped according to the location in the registry in which the RegisteredOwner and RegisteredOrganization keys are stored. If you fail to select an operating system and click either the Display or OK buttons, you’ll see the error message shown in Figure C. When you click OK, you’ll be returned to the main screen and can start again.

Figure C

If you fail to select an operating system before you proceed, you’ll see an error message.

Be sure to select the correct operating system

It’s imperative that you select the correct operating system for this operation to be successful. If the operating system is incorrect, the Registration Changer will apply the changes to the wrong location in the registry. When that happens, the registration information you wanted to change will remain unchanged, and unnecessary garbage will be added to the registry. If you happen to apply the changes to the wrong operating system, you can easily remove the unnecessary garbage by running the utility again and leaving the text boxes blank.
After you select an operating system, you may want to see the current registration information for the system. Just click the Display button. When you do, you’ll see the current registration information displayed in the dialog box, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

The Registration Changer utility can display the current registration information before you make any changes.
If you want to change the registration information, just enter the text in the appropriate dialog boxes and click OK. When you do, you’ll be prompted to confirm the operation before you proceed, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Before the Registration Changer makes any changes to the registry, it gives you a chance to abort the operation.
If you select No, you’ll be returned to the main screen and can start over. If you click Yes, the Registration Changer will apply the changes to the registry. You can then instantly check the results by clicking the Display button. When you’re done, just click Cancel or click Close, and the main Registration window will close.

Blanking out registration information

If you prefer to simply blank out the registration information rather than enter new names, just leave the text boxes blank and click OK.
That’s all there is to it. The Registration Changer makes it easy to edit the registry without fear. As I stated earlier, be sure to back your system up before you go poking around in the registry. It’s not something you should do lightly.


Four health-promoting job traits

Are some jobs healthier than others? Well, yes, and we’re not just talking about extremes, like how a macrobiotic chef job might be healthier than, say, that of a matador or bomb defuser.
According to this piece by Maria Hanson on Yahoo HotJobs, there are certain characteristics of a job that have been scientifically shown to produce big health benefits. The characteristics are:
  1. Autonomy/Personal Control — The more personal control people have in their lives, the less their chances of depression and heart disease and the better their health in general.
  2. Mentally Demanding — If you use more brain power on your job, you’re less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Low Stress — Research shows that stress can contribute to problems like heart disease, headaches, chronic pain, lowered immunity, and even obesity.
  4. Social — Hanson says jobs that require social interaction can lower blood pressure, decrease heart disease, prevent depression, keep you cognitively fit, reduce stress, and increase lifespan.
This data made me wonder about what specific job characteristics could contribute to poor health. And it occurred to me that three out of the four examples above could, if experienced in the extreme, also be detrimental.
For example, if you have too much control, as in ownership of a company, you might be under extreme stress. I’m the type of person who perfers autonomy, but some people are very uncomfortable with that type of freedom.
Also, if a job is too mentally demanding, you could be so preoccupied with it that you neglect other activities that keep you healthy. Have you ever been so drained from thinking too much that you’re “too tired” to exercise?
I understand that having some social aspect to a job is healthy, but I can also see how the nature of the people you have to interact with could alter your stress level for the bad. Can you say “Help Desk”?


Twitter Tools

By: Rick Hanover

Recently, I mentioned that I am a fan of Twitter. One of the nice things about Twitter is that there are so many applications to allow you to post or tweet compared to other social networking sites. It is easy to tell how someone tweets, from your home page you can see when and how a person has made their tweets. Figure A shows my tweet about writing this very blog:
Figure A
Figure A
This shows that I used the Twitter Opera widget to make the tweet as an add-on to the Opera browser for my Twitter feed. Looking closely at Twitter there is a wide distribution of tools people use to tweet. This is primarily because the Twitter API is very straightforward and well documented for application developers to follow.
But, there are so many tools out there. Here are a few of the popular Twitter applications and Web sites:

A powerful all-in-one applet for many social networking services

A nice follow-up from a URL shortening service

“The Mac people love it”

Another social network consolidation application

Multiple service consolidation, URL shortening, image posting with pictures

A blog to Twitter application

iPhone and iPod Twitter application

Another iPhone Twitter client
A multi-service consolidation client

A Firefox extension for the popular browser

Mac and iPhone Twitter application

Mobile device Twitter client

Twitter and Facebook client

Palm-based Twitter client

A time-delayed Twitter posting application

An Outlook-based Twitter client

A BlackBerry-based Twitter client
And that is just a quick look at what people are using to post. Of course you can go fully old-school and post via the Web browser.
With all these tools out there, a number of points need to be made. Above all else, all the Twitter tools won’t be around forever. Some of these organizations will fail, or the Twitter API will be updated and the applications won’t support it without further development. The other important thing to consider is the source of these tools. This goes for any community-developed or open source application. Simply think about what you are using for your Twitter stream (or any other social networking service) and the origin of the software. Further, if you are running some sort of business off a Twitter application, make sure you can move everything you do to another application if needed.


Setting up Change Data Capture in SQL Server 2008

By: Tim Chapman

Change Data Capture (CDC) is a new native feature in SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition.
Auditing database data is no easy task, but it’s absolutely required for most industries. In a previous column, I showed how you can use some native SQL Server functionality to do a decent job of capturing data changes.
The inherent problem with capturing these data changes is that it requires triggers on the base table. These triggers can either immediately enter the data into auditing tables or use Service Broker functionality to capture the data at a later time. In either event, the initial capture has to be done in the scope of the original transaction. In SQL Server 2008, the Change Data Capture (CDC) feature allows you to capture data changes much more easily and without the use and overhead of triggers.

Setting up CDC

First, I want to create a database for the use of testing my scenarios. The statement below creates a database named CaptureChanges on your database instance:
To use CDC, I’ll need to enable it at the database level. The statement below calls the sp_cdc_enable_db system stored procedure, which enables CDC for the current database scope:
USE CaptureChanges
EXEC sys.sp_cdc_enable_db
To illustrate how CDC captures data changes, I’ll need a table to perform data changes. The script below creates a table named SalesHistory and inserts data into it:
DROP TABLE SalesHistory
CREATE TABLE [dbo].[SalesHistory]
            SaleID int IDENTITY(1,1) PRIMARY KEY,               
            Product varchar(10) NULL,               
            SaleDate datetime NULL,               
            StatusID TINYINT NULL,               
            SalePrice money NULL
            DECLARE @i INT
            SET @i = 1
            WHILE (@i <=500)
              INSERT INTO [SalesHistory](Product, SaleDate, SalePrice, StatusID)               
              VALUES ('Computer', DATEADD(ww, @i, '3/11/1919'), DATEPART(ms, GETDATE()) + (@i + 57), 1)               
              INSERT INTO [SalesHistory](Product, SaleDate, SalePrice, StatusID)               
              VALUES('BigScreen', DATEADD(ww, @i, '3/11/1927'), DATEPART(ms, GETDATE()) + (@i + 13),5)               
              INSERT INTO [SalesHistory](Product, SaleDate, SalePrice, StatusID)               
              VALUES('PoolTable', DATEADD(ww, @i, '3/11/1908'), DATEPART(ms, GETDATE()) + (@i + 29),8)               
              SET @i = @i + 1
At this point, nothing in the SalesHistory table has been captured, as it is yet to be enabled for CDC. To use CDC for a particular table, the table must contain a Primary Key constraint or a unique constraint to uniquely identify the rows in the table. In the example above, I use an IDENTITY column for my Primary Key constraint.
To enable the table for data capturing, I’ll need to run a system stored procedure and pass in the table name. (The SQL Server Agent should be running when you run this stored procedure.)
EXEC sys.sp_cdc_enable_table
@source_schema = N'dbo',
@source_name   = N'SalesHistory',
@role_name     = NULL,
@supports_net_changes = 1
Now I’m going to update an arbitrary set of records in the SalesHistory table. Because I now have CDC enabled for this table, the data changes should be captured by the CDC system.
SET SalePrice = SalePrice + 1
FROM SalesHistory s
where SaleID % 13 = 0
If the CDC schema had not already existed in the database, the above procedure call would create it. All CDC tables will belong to this schema.
When the CapturesChanges table is enabled for CDC, two SQL Server Agent jobs are created. One job uses the LogReader to capture changes while the other job is used to clean up older messages. The job names created are listed below:
CDC has system tables that are created when CDC is enabled. The main one to concern yourself with at first is the actual data that stores the audited data. A SalesHistory_CT table is created when I enable the SalesHistory table for CDC. Data changes are captured in this table, along with a few housekeeping columns that CDC uses for reporting changes to data. Notice that this table belongs to the cdc schema.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Improve multiple-monitor support with DisplayFusion

Author : Greg Shultz

One of the nice features in Microsoft Windows Vista is its built-in support for multiple monitors. I’ve been taking advantage of a multiple-monitor configuration ever since the feature first became available in Windows 98, and now I feel cramped if I have to work on a system with only one monitor.
One of the biggest advantages I find to a multiple-monitor configuration is the amount of time and effort I save when doing any type of multitasking, i.e. running multiple applications. Rather than maximizing and minimizing windows to switch between applications, I simply turn my head from one monitor to the other.
For example, my multiple-monitor configuration consists of three monitors — a 19-inch monitor flanked by two 17-inch monitors. When I’m researching and writing a technical article, I have Internet Explorer running on the left monitor and Word running on the center monitor. As I track down relevant information, I can easily jot down notes in my Word document. If I need to double-check anything on the Web page, I just glance over. The right monitor is running Outlook, so as I’m doing my research I can glance over at my Inbox when new e-mail arrives and quickly determine if it’s important enough to interrupt my research/writing to deal with.
Of course, this is just one example, and I normally have more than one application running on each monitor. But the point is that a multiple-monitor configuration can really help you increase your efficiency when multitasking. While it’s great that Windows provides you with built-in support for multiple monitors, it’s too bad that they didn’t take the next step and provide you with some additional functionality. Fortunately, Jon Tackabury at Binary Fortress Software stepped up to the plate and created DisplayFusion. This handy utility allows you to really take advantage of multiple monitors by providing you with a host of features that will help you get the most out of a multiple-monitor configuration.
In this edition of the Windows 7 and Windows Vista Report, I’ll introduce you to DisplayFusion and show you some of my favorite features.
This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

Getting DisplayFusion

There are two versions of DisplayFusion: a free, but limited, version, which is available in the TechRepublic Software Library, and the Pro version, which sells for $20. However, you can download a license key and get a 30-day trial of the Pro version. You can check out the Comparison page and download a copy.
Once you download and install DisplayFusion, you’ll find its icon in the system tray and will be able to access and configure all its features from there.

Multi-monitor taskbar

Of course, one of the primary reasons for adding additional monitors to your Windows system is to expand your screen real estate. So why not carry this idea one step further with the Multi-Monitor Taskbar feature, which allows you to expand the Windows Taskbar by placing a taskbar on the bottom of the screen on each secondary monitor. To activate and configure this feature, you’ll right-click on the DisplayFusion icon and select the Multi-Monitor Taskbar command, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

To enable the Multi-Monitor Taskbar, just select the command.
As soon as you enable Multi-Monitor Taskbar feature, a taskbar appears on each monitor and immediately shows those applications that are open on that particular monitor. This alleviates the overcrowding of the main Taskbar that is a normal occurrence in a multiple-monitor configuration. In addition, this feature can save you time and frustration as it makes it easy to keep track of which applications are open on which monitor. And best of all, when you move a window from one monitor to another, you don’t have to Restore Down the window first — you can just click and drag a Maximized window from one monitor to the next. And when you do so, Multi-Monitor Taskbar keeps track of the window, such that it displays the task on the appropriate taskbar.

Desktop wallpaper

While not as mission critical to the efficiency of a multiple-monitor setup, DisplayFusion’s Desktop Wallpaper configuration option is still a really nice feature. For example, you can stretch a single image across all monitors or you can have a separate image on each monitor (Figure B). You can even configure randomly changing images from your computer or You can change the color selection to grayscale or sepia tone, reposition the images on each monitor, and much more.

Figure B

Stretch wallpaper across multiple monitors.


On the Settings window, you’ll find a host of additional configuration options that will allow you to tweak settings, assign hotkeys, adjust the Multi-Monitor Taskbar feature, as shown in Figure C, and much more.

Figure C

On the Settings window, you can make all sorts of additional adjustments.

The 10 faces of computer malware

Author: Michael Kassner

With all the different terms, definitions, and terminology, trying to figure out what’s what when it comes to computer malware can be difficult. To start things off, let’s define some key terms we’ll use throughout the article:
  • Malware: Is malicious software that’s specifically developed to infiltrate or cause damage to computer systems without the owners’ knowledge or permission.
  • Malcode: Is malicious programming code that’s introduced during the development stage of a software application and is commonly referred to as the malware’s payload.
  • Anti-malware: Includes any program that combats malware, whether it’s real-time protection or detection and removal of existing malware. Antivirus and anti-spyware applications and malware scanners are examples of anti-malware.
It’s important to remember that like its biological counterpart, malware’s number one goal is reproduction. Damaging a computer system, destroying data, or stealing sensitive information are all secondary objectives.
Keeping the above definitions in mind, let’s take a look at 10 types of malware.
Note: This article originally appeared as an entry in our IT Security blog. It is also available as a PowerPoint presentation and as a PDF document in our Downloads Library.

1: The infamous computer virus

A computer virus is malware that’s capable of infecting a computer but has to rely on some other means to propagate. A true virus can spread from the infected computer to a non-infected computer only by attaching to some form of executable code that’s passed between them. For example, a virus could be hidden in a PDF file attached to an e-mail message. Most viruses consist of the following three parts:
  • Replicator: When the host program is activated, so is the virus, and the viral malcode’s first priority is to propagate.
  • Concealer: The computer virus can employ one of several methods to hide from anti-malware.
  • Payload: The malcode payload of a virus can be purposed to do just about anything, from disabling computer functions to destroying data.
Some examples of computer viruses currently in the wild are W32.Sens.A, W32.Sality.AM, and W32.Dizan.F. Most quality antivirus software will remove a computer virus once the application has its signature file.

2: The ever-popular computer worm

Computer worms are more sophisticated than viruses, being able to replicate without user intervention. If the malware uses networks (Internet) to propagate, it’s a worm rather than a virus. The main components of a worm are:
  • Penetration tool: Malcode that leverages vulnerabilities on the victim computer to gain access.
  • Installer: The penetration tool gets the computer worm past the initial defense mechanism. At that point, the installer takes over and transfers the main body of malcode to the victim.
  • Discovery tool: Once settled in, the worm uses several methods to discover other computers on the network, including e-mail addresses, Host lists, and DNS queries.
  • Scanner: The worm uses a scanner to determine if any of the newly found target computers are vulnerable to the exploits available in its penetration tool.
  • Payload: Malcode that resides on each victim’s computer. This could be anything from a remote access application to a key logger used to capture user names and passwords.
This category of malware is unfortunately the most prolific, starting with the Morris worm in 1988 and continuing today with the Conficker worm. Most computer worms can be removed by using malware scanners, such as MBAM or GMER.

3: The unknown backdoor

Backdoors are similar to the remote access programs many of us use all the time. They’re considered malware when installed without permission, which is exactly what an attacker wants to do, by using the following methods:
  • One installation method is to exploit vulnerabilities on the target computer.
  • Another approach is to trick the user into installing the backdoor through social engineering.
Once installed, backdoors allow attackers complete remote control of the computer under attack. SubSeven, NetBus, Deep Throat, Back Orifice, and Bionet are backdoors that have gained notoriety. Malware scanners, like MBAM and GMER, are usually successful at removing backdoors.

4: The secretive Trojan horse

It’s difficult to come up with a better definition for Trojan horse malware than Ed Skoudis and Lenny Zelter did in their book Malware: Fighting Malicious Code:
“A trojan horse is a program that appears to have some useful or benign purpose, but really masks some hidden malicious functionality.”
Trojan horse malware cloaks the destructive payload during installation and program execution, preventing anti-malware from recognizing the malcode. Some of the concealment techniques include:
  • Renaming the malware to resemble files that are normally present.
  • Corrupting installed anti-malware to not respond when malware is located.
  • Using Polymorphic code to alter the malware’s signature faster than the defensive software can retrieve new signature files.
Vundo is a prime example; it creates popup advertising for rogue anti-spyware programs, degrades system performance, and interferes with Web browsing. Typically, a malware scanner installed on a LiveCD  is required to detect and remove it.

5: Adware/spyware: more than an annoyance

  • Adware is software that creates popup advertisements without your permission. Adware usually gets installed by being a component of free software. Besides being irritating, adware can significantly decrease computer performance.
  • Spyware is software that collects information from your computer without your knowledge. Free software is notorious for having spyware as a payload, so reading the user agreement is important. The Sony BMG CD copy protection scandal is probably the most notable example of spyware.
Most quality anti-spyware programs will quickly find unwanted adware/spyware and remove it from the computer. It’s also not a bad idea to regularly remove temp files, cookies, and browsing history from the Web browser program as preventative maintenance.

Malware stew

Up until now, all the malware discussed has distinctive characteristics, making each type easy to define. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the next categories. Malware developers have figured out how to combine the best features from different types of malware in an attempt to improve their success ratio.
Rootkits are an example of this, integrating a Trojan horse and a backdoor into one package. When they’re used in this combination, an attacker can gain access to a computer remotely without raising any suspicion. Rootkits are one of the more important combined threats, so let’s take a deeper look at them.

Rootkits: Completely different

Rootkits are in a class all their own, choosing to modify the existing operating system instead of adding software at the application level, like most malware. That’s significant, because it makes detection by anti-malware much more difficult.
There are several types of rootkits, but three make up the vast majority of those seen in the wild: user-mode, kernel-mode, and firmware rootkits. User-mode and kernel-mode may need some explanation:
  • User-mode: Code has restricted access to software and hardware resources on the computer. Most of the code running on your computer will execute in user mode. Due to the restricted access, crashes in user-mode are recoverable.
  • Kernel-mode: Code has unrestricted access to all software and hardware resources on the computer. Kernel mode is generally reserved for the most trusted functions of the operating system. Crashes in kernel-mode aren’t recoverable.

6: User-mode rootkits

It’s now understood that user-mode rootkits run on a computer with the same privileges reserved for administrators. This means that:
  • User-mode rootkits can alter processes, files, system drivers, network ports, and even system services.
  • User-mode rootkits remain installed by copying required files to the computer’s hard drive, automatically launching with every system boot.
Hacker Defender is one example of a user-mode rootkit. Luckily Mark Russinovich’s well-known application Rootkit Revealer can detect it, as well as most other user-mode rootkits.

7: Kernel-mode rootkits

Since rootkits running in user-mode can be found and removed, rootkit designers changed their thinking and developed kernel-mode rootkits. Kernel-mode means the rootkit is installed at the same level as the operating system and rootkit detection software. This allows the rootkit to manipulate the operating system to a point where the operating system can no longer be trusted.
Instability is the one downfall of a kernel-mode rootkit, typically leading to unexplained crashes or blue screens. At that point, it might be a good idea to try GMER. It’s one of a few trusted rootkit removal tools that has a chance against kernel-mode rootkits, like Rustock.

8: Firmware rootkits

Firmware rootkits are the next step up in sophistication, with rootkit developers figuring out how to store rootkit malcode in firmware. The altered firmware could be anything from microprocessor code to PCI expansion card firmware. This means that:
  • When the computer is shut down, the rootkit writes the current malcode to the specified firmware.
  • Restart the computer and the rootkit reinstalls itself.
Even if a removal program finds and eliminates the firmware rootkit, the next time the computer starts, the firmware rootkit is right back in business.

9: Malicious mobile code

In relative anonymity, malicious mobile code is fast becoming the most effective way to get malware installed on a computer. Mobile code is software that’s:
  • Obtained from remote servers.
  • Transferred across a network.
  • Downloaded and executed on a local system.
Examples of mobile code include JavaScript, VBScript, ActiveX controls, and Flash animations. The primary idea behind mobile code is active content, which is easy to recognize. It’s the dynamic page content that makes Web browsing an interactive experience.
What makes mobile code malicious? Installing it without the owner’s permission or misleading the user as to what the software does. To make matters worse, it’s usually the first step of a combined attack, similar to the penetration tool used by Trojan horse malware. After that, the attacker can install additional malware.
The best way to combat malicious mobile code is to make sure that the operating system and all ancillary software are up to date.

10: Blended threat

Malware is considered a blended threat when it seeks to maximize damage and propagate efficiently by combining several pieces of single-intentioned malcode. Blended threats deserve special mention, as security experts grudgingly admit they’re the best at what they do. A blended threat typically can:
  • Exploit several known vulnerabilities or even create vulnerabilities.
  • Incorporate alternate methods for replicating.
  • Automate code execution, which eliminates user interaction.
Blended threat malware, for example, may send an HTML e-mail message containing an embedded Trojan horse along with a PDF attachment containing a different type of Trojan horse. Some of the more famous blended threats are Nimda, CodeRed, and Bugbear. Removing blended threat malware from a computer may take several pieces of anti-malware, as well as using malware scanners installed on a LiveCD.

Final thoughts

Is it even possible to reduce the harmful effect malware causes? Here are a few final thoughts on that subject:
  • Malware isn’t going away any time soon. Especially when it became evident that money, lots of money, can be made from its use.
  • Since all anti-malware applications are reactionary, they are destined to fail.
  • Developers who create operating system and application software need to show zero tolerance for software vulnerabilities.
  • Everyone who uses computers needs to take more ownership in learning how to react to the ever-changing malware environment.
  • It can’t be stressed enough: Please be sure to keep operating system and application software up to date.