2011-10-31

Windows 7: restoring old-style logon screen tutorial

I've found a lot of information on the subject on various blogs and forums, strangely everyone seems to come to the conclusion that it is impossible to get back to the old style logon screen that appeared like this under Windows XP:
Why would anyone do this?
Why would you go back to something like this? There could be thousands of reasons. The default logon screen of Windows 7 looks like this:
If, like me, you work in a computer-unfriendly environment such as a school, you'll find that a lot of people are unable to locate the "Switch user" button or simply wouldn't just dare to click it. All they were told is to enter their username and password and they never expected to have to do anything else.

So how do you restore the good old logon screen with a simple text box for the user name, and a simple text box for the password? It's actually a lot simpler than some people would think.

Local security policy management console
Press Windows+R to get the "Run" dialog, and enter "secpol.msc" in the text box then click OK. You are opening up the Local security policy management console.
In the option tree on the left, go to "Security Settings" / "Local Policies" / "Security options".
In the list of settings on the right, locate "Interactive logon: Do not display last user name". Double click this setting and in the box that shows up, select "Enabled" and click OK. Restart your computer... and voila!
You can also change a couple of other settings, such as disabling the annoying "Ctrl+alt+del" screen, the option right below the one I just described.

Once you're all done you'll be seeing a screen like this when you start up your computer. If you didn't join a domain obviously you won't be seeing the domain part.

2011-10-25

Nginx market share soon to hit 10% mark

According to multiple sources such as:

the amazing and lightning-fast web server known as nginx is just about to hit the 10% market share mark in the next couple of months. This is a fantastic milestone for the author, Igor Sysoev, who probably didn't imagine that the application (which he originally developed on his own) would meet such fame.
Diagram courtesy of W3Techs.com (article linked above). Its market share went from a little over 5% to almost 10% over the last year as you can see. 

I wouldn't go so far as to say that the release of my Nginx HTTP Server book (released Summer 2010) was one of the factors that contributed to the popularity of the Russian web server. It is my belief that the sole quality and efficiency of the software is what made its success.


The book was and is being translated into three languages:
  • In Japanese
  • In Chinese (to be published soon)
  • In Korean (release date unknown) 
Nginx is already a popular web server in Russia and Asia; some of the most popular websites in these regions are powered by nginx; namely Yandex, 163 (China's #1 e-mail platform), Soso.com, Renren.com, and more internationally Wordpress, among many others. My own websites GBAtemp.net, FileTrip.net, ShopTemp.net are powered by nginx as well.

2011-10-13

PPTP server fix for iOS problems (pptpd/PopTop)

Ever since I was offered an iPod touch 4th gen I have been unsuccessful in my attempts to connect to PPTP based VPN servers from iOS. Apparently this is a well known issue since iOS 4.3.3 or earlier, that did not get fixed in the iOS 5 update.

Having set up my own PPTP-based VPN servers using Poptop (also known as pptpd) under CentOS, I always found it strange that my servers would function perfectly fine under all versions of Windows, but completely refuse to work under iOS and reportedly MacOS X as well.

Symptoms were the following:
  • Initially, the connection to the server starts ("Connecting... Starting... Authenticating... ") and appears successful for a second but then immediately drops, with a vague error message.
  • After a few tweaks that I read on DD-WRT's PPTP server configuration page (pertinent given that DD-WRT uses poptop as well) the situation changed but still failed to solve all of my problems: I was able to connect normally, without any error message, however any network communication failed and timed out. Whenever I tried loading a page it would just keep loading forever. Any app that connects to the Internet did the same- loading forever.
 Finally after a combination of multiple tweaks I finally got it to work! The solution is given below but I'd like to credit people first. First I used the DD-WRT tweaks as I previously said, then I followed the tips of two users who posted on this page, sid2 and jeremy207. Massive thanks to both of them!

Here's what got it to work for me. You need to open up the options file for pptpd usually located here: /etc/ppp/options.pptpd
At the very bottom of the file, insert the following lines:
nopcomp
noaccomp
mtu 1400
mru 1400
default-asyncmap
After saving the file, make sure to restart pptpd properly (I stopped it and started it again completely) and try connecting from iOS again. Worked for me! Hope it will for you as well.

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