Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Alarming

A report submitted to Congress on Wednesday by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission expressed concerns over what the commission claims is China’s growing ability to control and manipulate Internet traffic. In one of the incidents, traffic to and from about 15% of all* Internet destinations was routed through servers belonging to China Telecom, a state-owned telecommunications company.

The rerouting happened on April 8 and lasted for about 18 minutes. The traffic hijacking affected U.S. government and military networks, including those belonging to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, as well as the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Department of Commerce, NASA and the U.S. Senate. Commercial sites, including those belonging to Microsoft, Dell and Yahoo, were also affected.

The kind of access that Chinese authorities had to the data could enable surveillance of specific users or sites, disrupt transactions, prevent a user from establishing connections to specific sites or divert them to other spoofed sites, the report noted.

“Incidents of this nature could have a number of serious implications,” the report said. (Yah think???)

Incidents such as those reported by the commission highlight some of the fundamental vulnerabilities* of the Internet“, said Dmitri Alperovitch, an Internet threat researcher at McAfee.

The takeaway here is that the foundation on which the Internet is built is insecure*,” Alperovitch said. “It is based on trust. We trust ISPs to tell us which networks they own. There is no validation [of that information].”

These are excerpts from a Computerworld article. Click here to read the whole enchilada.

Also, Dark Reading has a more detailed look, here.

* emphasis mine.

… My guess is they just slurped up all the packets; so they can better map IP’s and fingerprint users and systems. Step 1 in the hacker’s playbook.
(Maybe look at the encryptions used.. and run some through their supercomputer.)
But I’m a cynical, and not terribly well-educated guy. I could be wrong. I hope I am. But it seems pretty clear: a lot of people are playing games on the Internet.. and I’m not talking about WoW.

Today’s free download: IObit Toolbox is free, portable software that system administrators and computer geeks will take along to solve PC problems anytime and anywhere. With more than 20 dedicated tools, IObit Toolbox allows you to display/diagnose PC information, enhance PC security, optimize PC performance and repairing PC problems. In a word, it offers an easy way for PC admin to monitor and manage computers. It can be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes.

Today’s reco’s reading: How to become a certified IT ninja
When faced with a problem, people tend to collect into three mindsets. The first is not to do anything, lest we make the problem worse…

Quote of the day:Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.
~ Erica Jong

Note: I posted this article a year ago. This is one of the reasons “the Internet is broken” and we are dang fools for doing any kind of important business on it, or attaching “Industrial control units”, or doing any thing other than exchanging personal emails (not government or military), watching YouTube and Netflix, or looking up the Latin name of the rose on Wikipedia.

But.. the alarm was sounded – a few of the wiser took note – and the issue faded from sight… Conficker proved how vulnerable our machines are..
Nothing changed.

Shhh! Don’t say that! People might stop using the Internet! What would happen to Amazon?!

Have a great day everybody.

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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November 21, 2011 Posted by | Internet | 10 Comments

Sunday Beauty 67

Again, a pretty picture for your Sunday..

Click on image to see more from this artist

“Hawaii Vacation 2010” by merfam, courtesy of Flickr Commons.

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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November 20, 2011 Posted by | Digital Images | 4 Comments

Saturday Stupid Human Tricks

Yugg – what a day so far. You know what? I need a “LOL”.. so, how about a “fun” video?

.. what were they thinkin’?

Enjoy your weekend everybody!

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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November 19, 2011 Posted by | digital Video | , , | 2 Comments

A Daily Read*

It’s a fact: over time, things grow, and expand. The Internet itself is constantly growing, and every day thousands of new websites, blogs, and ‘online services’ appear.

I find it hard to keep up! (As, other things that are constantly growing are my business and my To Do List..) I simply do not have the time to explore them all.. and I bet you don’t either. (As a matter of fact, they say over 1,000 new ‘tech blogs’ are created each month. That’s the kind of market I am in!)

Fortunately, I know a guy.

WOMPC_logo

That “guy” is Rick Robinette, and for over two years now his What’s On My PC… website has been a daily read of mine — one of the half dozen (or less) remaining “daily reads”. I cannot say enough nice things about him; but the reason I am mentioning him to you, Dear Reader, is — he is reporting on the new ‘cloud computing’ developments as they happen, and bringing us the best of this new stuff. As you can see from his list of ‘pages’, below. (With a strong emphasis on free.. which I like!)

His writing is friendly, relaxed, fun, and yes, educational. He enjoys exploring fun and useful small utilities like desktop clocks and weather reports and sticky notes. As evidence, here’s a few recent What’s On My PC… articles:

Freahly printed: Three Technological Innovations That Will Blow Your Mind

Technology never ceases to amaze me. Check out these three technological innovations that will blow your mind — a spherical flying machine; brain imaging technology that is leading us down the road to mind reading; and, ASIMO, the humanoid robot. Spherical flying machine developed by Defense Ministry’s Research Department The world’s first spherical flying machine […]” Read more..

Other samplings..

If you are at all interested in free software, useful tips, and/or want to get a feel for this “cloud computing”.. well, now you ‘know a guy’ too. Visit http://whatsonmypc.wordpress.com and find out why I cannot say enough good things about this great online resource.

I am pretty sure that if you do, Rick will become one of your “must reads” too!

* Orig post: 1/18/11

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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November 18, 2011 Posted by | advice, cloud computing, Internet, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Win 8 Part 2 | Restore the Menu Bar | PC Giveaways | More..

After I got Windows 8 DE installed (a quick and – for me – painless process) and got past the (painful) ‘bump’ that was my introduction to the Metro “interface” (see, My First Day With Windows 8 (Part One)) it was time to start doing the post-install steps, and also my “customizations” to make the computer “more me” – things like setting a Desktop wallpaper, and configuring some settings to my liking.

I was able to skip right to “tweaking” (aka “customizing”), as Windows 8 detected all my hardware and installed the appropriate drivers automatically.. even my old webcam (impressive) .. and even the wireless network printer (not directly connected)(even more impressive). There was only one ‘glitch’ – even though the printer was detected and appeared to be “installed”, it would not get out of “offline mode” and actually print. So, I “deleted” it, and then clicked on “Add a printer”, then on the device, rebooted, and badda-bing, badda-boom – working printer. Just too easy.

So the first thing I did was to get rid of a ton of those Metro “secret squares”, as they are utterly irrelevant to me, by right – clicking on each one and either choosing “unpin” or “remove”. Then I simply dragged the remaining squares into an order/arrangement more to my liking. I had found that I had to research on the web how to interact with Metro, so I had read Paul Thurrott’s 8 Is Enough: Post-Setup Configuration.
Learn about the new Task Manager, and more – click the link.

Today’s Quick Tip: I am just “old school” enough that I prefer just having my menu bar visible in Explorer.. having to press Alt is not “cool” and “neato” to me. So.. “tweak that”.

In older versions of Windows, the menu bar was always visible in Explorer. In Vista and Windows 7, the menu bar is now hidden by default, and you must press the ALT key to see it. These simple steps will cause it to always be visible.
(The “menu bar” gives you the familiar File | Edit | View |Tools | Help ‘drop down’ menus)

1) Launch Explorer by opening Computer (or Documents, or Pictures..), then press ALT to access the menu bar.

2) Click on Tools and then on Folder options.

3) In the Folder Options window, click on the View tab, and click to place a check in Always show menus.

menus

4) Click on Apply and then OK.

That’s it. You’re done. (Should you decide you prefer the “more screen real estate” no menu bar look, simply repeat the steps and un-check the box.)

Today’s free download and first giveaway: (an “oldie but a goodie”) It has been a while since I have mentioned one of my fave little computer protection apps – WinPatrol.

Clean up your Taskbar, ActiveX, Brower and Startup programs. WinPatrol monitors and exposes adware, keyloggers, spyware, worms, cookies, and other malicious software. This program puts you back in control of your computer with no need for constant updates.
Download WinPatrol (Window XP, Vista, Windows 7 including x64 support)

To help celebrate Scotty’s 14th birthday, BillP is giving away – PRIZES to Thank you for your support

Happy Birthday Scotty!

On November 19th, 1997 the first release of WinPatrol was made public and generated 1252 downloads. This year is the 14th anniversary of WinPatrol and we’d like to celebrate it with a bang and plenty of prizes.

Click here for the 4-1-1.

Here’s another sweepstakes you might want to know about..

Perhaps we’ve gone a little overboard this holiday season? Nah, we didn’t think so either. Enter the Windows and Southwest Airlines® Holiday Sweepstakes for a chance to win:

  • A Windows 7 PC…every day
  • One of 10 Epson® Artisan® 730 printers
  • Or the grand prize of free flights for a year on Southwest Airlines®

Click here for the 4-1-1.

Sure they did….

Today’s quotable quote:The thoughts of Plato and Machiavelli… don’t seem quite enough armor for a world beset with splitting the atoms, urban guerrillas, nineteen varieties of psychotherapists, amplified guitars, napalm, computers, astronauts, and an atmosphere polluted simultaneously with auto exhaust and TV commercials.” ~ John Fischer

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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November 16, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, free software, how to, Microsoft, PC, software, tech, Windows 8 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Is That A Mass-spectrometer In Your Pocket?

Sometimes my mind boggles. Science Fiction is becoming science Fact in ways I never dreamed would really happen. For example – Dick Tracy’s wristwatch. Or James Bond’s gadgets (and bulletproof cars).

Dick Tracy’s wristwatch was pure “Sci Fi”. Yet, when I have described some of the advantages of my Android smart phone to non-techies, I have said, “think Dick Tracy’s wristwatch.”

No, my ‘droid is not a top-secret crime fighting device. But the front-facing camera and Skype Mobile app give me Dick Tracy’s ability to have “2-Way” video conversations anywhere I happen to be. (It’s not strapped on my wrist, though..)

When I was knee high to a grasshopper, my fertile imagination simply was not fertile enough to dream that I might carry a movie theater and several radio stations in my pocket.. yet, my Netflix app and Spotify (et al) means that fiction is reality now too.

Amazing.

And my the tech in my Droid gives me some James Bond (Sci Fi) spy stuff too — with Google Goggles, I can point my phone at documents and signs written in a foreign language, and Presto-Chango! translate them into English (see, Does Your Android Wear Goggles?) – super spy style.

But this is not about Android.. as today’s title suggests, this Sci-Fi Into Reality article is not about smart phones.. it’s about tech evolving, and all that (above) is just the “build up”.

We are about a year away (or so) from having our police having devices – fingerprint readers – that will not only tell them your true ID, record, and BAC, but any substances you’ve handled, or ingested, and who knows what else. “Honest, Officer, I just fertilized my garden. Building bombs? Ridiculous! Not me!
(And as time elapses.. these devices will get cheaper, and be available to more than just Law Enforcement.)

Two new technologies: There are actually two different portable devices I read about. This first one is – literally – a mass spectrometer in your pocket.

Fingerprint Test Tells What a Person Has Touched

With a new analytical technique, a fingerprint can now reveal much more than the identity of a person. It can now also identify what the person has been touching: drugs, explosives or poisons, for example.

.. As it becomes cheaper and more widely available, the Desi technology has potential ethical implications, Dr. Cooks said. Instead of drug tests, a company could surreptitiously check for illegal drug use by its employees by analyzing computer keyboards after the workers have gone home, for instance.Read more..

Source = Wall Street Journal

A second, similar device, uses a different technology.. this one tests the metabolites in your sweat pores..

U.K. Roadside Drug Test a Step Closer

A roadside test for drunk drivers has been available in the U.K. to law-enforcement agencies since the 1960s, but no equivalent screen for drivers under the influence of drugs has been available. A team of scientists hopes to change that. Intelligent Fingerprinting has launched its first prototype of a device that it says will allow police to test reliably for illegal substances within a few minutes.Read more..

Interesting stuff… the world, she is a’changing.

Related:

RC Meets RL (RoboCop Meets Real Life)

Big Brother Can Drive – Police Car-Mounted Cameras Scan 10,000 License Plates Per Hour

Britons Wake Up. Too Late.

Big Brother Big Business

For the Uber Geek? Everything You Need to Know About the Dual-, Triple-, and Quad-Channel Memory Architectures

“Let’s take a look at how the dual-, triple-, and quad-channel memory architectures work and how to enable them in order to improve your computer’s performance.Read more..

Today’s quote:We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.” ~ Alfred E. Newman

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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November 15, 2011 Posted by | News, tech | , , , , | 6 Comments

My First Day With Windows 8 (Part One)

This weekend I did something I am going to advise you not to do..

Just so we are clear: I have been using personal computers since the term “IBM clone” was coined. I became a “computer nerd” (Geek) with the advent of the “graphical user interface” (click-able icons). I have been building/repairing Microsoft Windows PC’s since Windows 95 was launched, and have been “in the trenches” making each new tech advancement work with our machines ever since.
Windows 3/95/98/ME.. Windows NT/2000/XP.. Windows Vista/7. (The good, the bad, and the ugly.)

Since September, I have been aware that a “Developer’s Preview” edition of next Microsoft operating system, Windows 8, was available for download and trial (see Windows 8 Developer Preview available as free download) but have had neither the time, nor that much interest, to install it. This weekend I made the time.

A Tech’s First Impressions:
Windows 8 is Microsoft’s operating system of the future, and they are adapting to the fact that that future is being shaped by tablet PC’s and smart phones. Touch-screens. Gestures.

I downloaded and installed the smallest package – the plain 32-bit – onto a partition (“dual boot) of a HP Pavilion desktop PC. Installation went smooth, and was quite quick. After the second (and final) reboot, I saw a screen like this..

Okay.. now what?

Where’s the login?

Where’s something I can click?

So I started clicking at random all over the screen. And tried all the well-known keyboard shortcuts. And pounding both fists on the keyboard. Then I threw my wireless mouse at the wall, and – finally – something happened, I saw a plain, puke greenish login screen – yay! (I found out later, this is the “lock screen”, and I was supposed to ‘slide’ it up with my finger.. or, double-click on it [which I thought I had..])(The up arrow works too.)

Double-click.. why didn’t I think of that?

[attention Microsoft: the Android and Apple lock screens have WORDS on them instructing us what to do.. why don’t you copy the whole idea?]

Well, I know how to log in, so, next I saw.. the Metro interface

Uh.. what? Where’s the Start button?

Store. Shopping. Weather. Paintplay… no thank you.

Please.. where is the Start button???

I clicked on Paintplay. Why not? It was just as irrelevant as any other secret square.

This filled my entire screen.

Yippee. Don’t care about a doodle pad. So, time to try something else.

But.

How do I get out of Paintplay? Note that there is no “red X” in the upper right corner?

Whaaaat? No red X? Okay.. maybe the Esc key.. nope. Maybe that gray X in the lower right.. nope.

Backspace?

Alt+M? .. Ctrl+Z?

Maybe I could “grab an edge” and shrink the window to mere inches.. nope.

Holy jumpin catfish. I couldn’t get out of a program! So I killed it in Task Manager after I discovered that good ole reliable Ctrl+Alt+Del still worked.

10 minutes in, and I am feeling good and stupid.

Later, I went on the Internet and researched, and found out I was supposed to press the Windows key.

Why didn’t I think of that?

The Windows key! The one I practically never touched in 20+ years!

I clicked on other secret squares, and each and every time, whatever it was that opened, filled my entire screen.

This might be OK if I was on a 7″ tablet.. or smaller yet smart phone. But it is NOT how I compute and get work done. I use windows (often, side by side). I have rather large monitor.. I don’t need a 23″ wide doodle pad...
[attention Microsoft:
what is the name of your operating system? Why did you name it that.. all these years ago now??]

I simply could not figure out how to turn off my machine either. The power button has gone missing……….

Yes. I did find the “Desktop” secret square.

Out of time for today: I have run long, and out of time for today, but will be back with more on this. Yes, my first brush with Metro was incredibly frustrating, and for the first time ever, a new Windows version made me feel like a moron. (I know, some of you out there are laughing at old Tech Paul. But you take away my Start button, and it seems I am lost. The Start button has been there since Windows 3 {1990}) But I am not totally displeased with Windows 8. Not at all.
Just the Metro UI.

Hate it. Simply and utterly.

My first impressions of Windows 8 confirms what I have been reading: Microsoft is trying to make one OS fit all devices – tablets and phones and desktop PC’s.

But here’s the thing: One Size Fits All never does.
Ever.

Attention Microsoft: I want the ability to completely disable Metro to be a “one click” On/Off setting (call it “Classic mode” if you must) in Windows 8 — and I suspect I am not at all alone in that. Someday, when I buy a Windows tablet, I might prefer the Metro. But on desktop machines, controlled by keyboard and mouse, Metro is .. well, this is a family website; I cannot type what I really think, so I will simply say that I almost downloaded a file from a Russian server just to make it go away. I want Metro gone that badly.

Of course, my frustration with Metro would have been greatly lessened had I read this article first.

But come on. A professional technician has to research just to do basic computing moves? Like exit a program??? It’s not intuitive for a multi-decade Windows user??????

Maybe I’m just too old.. and should retire.
nah. Windows 7 is the cat’s pajamas. I’ll just stick withit (maybe forever?). But.. I will be back with more – happier – Windows 8 (Developers Preview) articles soon. Maybe.. tomorrow?

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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November 14, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, Microsoft, News, PC, tech, Windows, Windows 8 | , , , | 12 Comments