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1  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Be prepared against ransomware viruses.. on: June 27, 2015, 11:12:54 AM
I wonder if there's a really simple way to save all your files in an unusual fashion that the computer can read quite easily normally, but then the malware virus can't find them properly and tanks.
Cryptoware cannot encrypt everything since that would simply disable the victim's computer. Instead, it targets specific file types that are associated with documents, media and other data.

All the cryptoware I am aware of uses file extensions to determine the files it will encrypt, which means there is in fact a simple way to protect most data:

Use 7-Zip, RAR, or some such program to create an encrypted archive of the files you want to protect, then change the extension to something not likely to be targeted.   Cryptoware will not target .exe or .dll files since that might disable the system, but something like .cryptic is likely to be just as good.  The archive should be in some format like rar or 7z that provides good security and is less likely than zip to be identifiable by a header scan, if the bad guys get a little more ambitious about identifying data.

2  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Be prepared against ransomware viruses.. on: June 27, 2015, 10:50:00 AM
There is some frequently updated information on the Microsoft Malware Protection Center about ransomware, including which types are currently most active and recommendations about dealing with certain specific ones.

Some of the older ransomware can be defeated, although most of the newer ones cannot. Nonetheless, before panicking, you should try to find out as much as possible about exactly what you are dealing with and follow up on any information you can get about it.

3  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: The end of the hard disk on: June 26, 2015, 10:45:50 AM
I will be shocked if these predictions come true.  That is, if SSD's have capacities like 8TB or 16TB in 2016, I will be very shocked.  I'm talking at a reasonable cost, even enterprise cost.  anywhere under $1000 will be shocking to me.  Second, I will also be shocked if enterprise level applications will forego getting SSD's to replace mechanical drives by 2016.  For example, if cloud storage providers start using SSD's like that, I will be very surprised.

Not saying it's not possible, just that a jump like that so soon would be crazy.  Have we just been sitting on the technology all this time?

To be honest, I also find that time line unrealistic -- tech writers have a habit of making overly optimistic predictions -- but even if it takes a few years more, the writing is on the wall for the HDD, except as an inexpensive  long-term storage device.

Intel is the major supplier of PCIe board SSDs to major data center users, and their most recent prediction is that they will have 10TB enterprise class SSD boards available by 2018.

Intel already sells 1.2TB PCIe boards for under $1,000 in bulk. 2TB boards now cost several times as much, but that should change quickly as other vendors start to compete in that space.  SanDisk has announced that they will be selling an external 2TB SSD in a portable HDD form factor to the consumer market for under $1,000 this year.

A variety of new flash memory technologies are poised to drive the price/capacity ratio down dramatically.  What is holding them up is the ability to manufacture them reliably in large quantities, but a lot of really big players (Intel/Micron, SanDisk, Samsung, Toshiba) are competing fiercely to get there first.
4  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: The end of the hard disk on: June 24, 2015, 12:34:29 PM
Around 1000USD a pop you have now decently sized hard disks that work according to SSD principles, but instead of using SATA, they use the PCI-Express lanes of your motherboard. If you think SSD's (or SSD's in RAID) are fast...these puppies run 4 to 5 times faster than SSD drives (at their top speed) in most usage scenarios. If you want really fast servers that have no problems shifting mountains of data around, SSD's are already old hat.

Sorry to disillusion you, but the devices you are talking about are SSDs, not hard disks.  The difference is that the flash memory and controller are mounted directly to a PCIe card rather than enclosed in a SATA case to allow swapping with HDDs.

Actual hard disks are limited to a 6GB/s transfer rate because that is the fastest you can pull data off of a rotating memory device.  That is why the SATA-III interface tops out at 6GB/s.  Flash memory does not have the same limitations and by mounting it directly on a PCIe card, you avoid the bottleneck of the SATA interface.

5  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: The End of my Macbook Pro Experiment on: June 23, 2015, 03:14:06 PM
The thing that really peeved me looking at them was the fact that they were all "new technology", i.e. SSD.  And I just don't trust an SSD as my only HDD, and the fact that you wouldn't get enough space... I want a minimum of 500GB, which in SSD is exorbitantly expensive.

As I noted here yesterday, SSD capacities are growing and prices are dropping rapidly, leading some analysts to predict the demise of the HDD altogether within a few years.

As of today, you can get a 500GB SSD from Samsung or Crucial for about $175, and Samsung gives you a 5 year warranty. That's still several times the cost of a 500GB HDD, but no manufacturer will give more than a 3 year warranty on any HDD and most won't give more than 1 year. That tells you everything you need to know about the reliability of the current generation of SSDs.  And of course, in a laptop, an SSD has the advantage of being impervious to shocks and magnetic fields.

6  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / The end of the hard disk on: June 22, 2015, 05:57:31 PM
According to Information Week, the end of 2015 will see SSDs with greater capacity than any hard disks currently available and SSDs are expected to be cost competitive with hard disks by the end of 2016.

Even if these projections are a little optimistic, particularly with respect to the consumer market, it seems clear that the hard disk will soon be going the way of the floppy disk.

It won't be missed.
7  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Webassembly: Big four to develop binary format for the web on: June 20, 2015, 07:00:26 AM
So... they're reinventing Java?

You don't see Oracle (or IBM) in that "Big four" list, do you?

WebAssembly is explicitly not tied to a single language, which makes it conceptually more like .NET than Java.  Note also that it uses pre- rather than JIT compilation.  Google has already done that in Android with ARC replacing Dalvik beginning with Lollipop.  I'd guess that WebAssembly is also designed for sandboxing, meant to live in the browser rather than the  server while avoiding the security vulnerabilities that plague current browser-based runtime engines.

This sounds a lot like an attempt to move the heavy lifting away from the big iron and onto the user's system, which makes sense, given the folk who are behind it.

8  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: LastPass alternatives? (including premium LP) on: June 16, 2015, 11:19:29 AM
I personally don't use an online password system, but if I did, LastPass is actually the one I would use. At least they were smart enough to see relatively quickly that their security had been breached and the methods they use to encrypt user data seem as strong as anyone else out there.

Anything connected to the Internet is going to be vulnerable to hacking.  Someone capable of hacking into Kasperksy Labs internal network clearly has the knowhow to hack into just about anyone else's network too.  Kaspersky believes that only a state actor (think NSA or their equivalents in China, Russia or Israel) could have mounted the attack on them, but once you have a proof of concept, it won't take long to trickle down to clever hackers in private practice.

I keep my passwords locally in an encrypted database (eWallet), along with a lot of other private information I need to look up from time to time.  But I also distinguish between types of passwords needed for different sites.  I use the same passwords for a lot of sites of similar nature where I have nothing to lose if it is discovered - think subscriptions, forums, etc.  They are easy for me to remember but long enough to challenge the weekend hacker. For anything that might involve money, I use separate and more secure passwords.  The important thing is to make them long, not to use weird combinations that you can't reproduce or enter by hand.

An online password manager provides a certain amount of convenience, and probably enough security for most casual use.  I just don't think I would trust one with anything really critical.
9  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: LastPass hacked on: June 16, 2015, 10:07:16 AM
That linked statement says something different than your blurb, IMO.

Do I need to change my master password right now? LastPass user accounts are locked down. You can only access your account from a trusted IP address or device – otherwise, verification is requested. We are confident that you are safe on your LastPass account regardless. If you’ve used a weak, dictionary-based master password (eg: robert1, mustang, 123456799, password1!), or if you used your master password as the password for other websites you need to update it.

we have found no evidence that encrypted user vault data was taken, nor that LastPass user accounts were accessed.

Both of those directly contradict what's in your blurb.  At least... unless I'm missing something?

What they say was accessed:
The investigation has shown, however, that LastPass account email addresses, password reminders, server per user salts, and authentication hashes were compromised.

In my book, that qualifies as personal information.  Whether or not it is enough to crack your passwords, it can be a serious problem for many users who may not be as sophisticated as you are.  

And your first quote from the LP notice contains language explicitly telling anyone who has a weak master password or has used their master password on other sites needs to change it.

Note also that LP does not say that no passwords were compromised, only that they have not found evidence of that and that they think their encryption methods are strong enough to prevent that from happening.  Of course, they also thought their security was strong enough to prevent a breach in the first place.

10  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: 2014-2015: Best tablet specs for ebook reading on: June 15, 2015, 07:00:54 PM
That hp pro slate looks pretty neat.
Unfortunately, the 12.3" HP Pro tablet has only 1600x1200 resolution, which means that text is going to look pretty jagged on screen.

Interestingly, the 7.9" version has 2048x1536 resolution, which is the same as the iPad Mini.  The small version has the same pen and OCR  software as the big tablet, in addition to much higher resolution, but it is too small to work well as a writing pad.

I just don't get what the folk at HP are thinking.
11  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / LastPass hacked on: June 15, 2015, 06:11:53 PM
LastPass has issued a Security Notice saying that they have been hacked resulting in account owners personal information being compromised.

They claim that no password data was breached, but recommend that all users change their master password ASAP.

12  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: PayPal about to claim rights in all IP sold/licensed using PayPal for payments on: June 12, 2015, 11:57:37 AM
Since 2013. the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) has forbidden auto dialed calls to US cell phones without prior express written consent.  Implicit consent and prior business relationships are explicitly disallowed as exemptions.  The fines for noncompliance are steep.

The FCC has already announced that it is looking into the matter, as is the New York State Attorney General.

Unless PayPal is planning to liquidate or move to Russia, I really can't understand what they, or their lawyers, think they are going to accomplish.
13  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Syncovery at 50% off - BDJ on: June 11, 2015, 06:08:10 AM
Syncovery Pro is 50% off ($29.95) again at BDJ today - June 11 2015.
14  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: 2014-2015: Best tablet specs for ebook reading on: June 08, 2015, 07:51:34 PM
A 10.1 diagonal screen is approximately 5.5 by 8.5 for the side dimensions.

To approximate a letter size page, you need a 13.3 diagonal, which gives you approximately 8.2 by 10.5 for the sides, assuming a standard aspect ratio.

For ebook reading, including PDF, you really don't need more than 10.1, as long as the resolution is at least full HD (1920x1080). Higher resolution is better, of course.   For a 13.3 tablet to be used mostly as a reader, I'd really look for 2K (2560x1440).  Unfortunately, high resolution translates to high price.

15  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: facebook tracing on: April 24, 2015, 07:53:53 AM
please understand it's not the location I live and I typed in fb when I opened the account, that got revealed, it's my actual location at the time of the conversation!

Your Internet connection provides geolocation information whenever you are online.

This is the case even if you turn off location services in your browser or mobile device (if you even have that choice), because all service providers capture this information and sell it to data brokers and online services.  If you connect through a mobile phone, your precise location is captured, at least in the US, because all mobile phones are required to provide GPS coordinates for emergency services and law enforcement.

Facebook makes your location available to advertisers to "enhance the customer experience" by informing you of sellers near you. 
16  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: USB 3.0 problems with Windows; general discussion on: April 22, 2015, 08:32:16 PM
In my experience, problems with USB 3.0 have come from the controller on the computer, or more specifically the drivers for the host controller.  It's worth seeing if newer drivers are available for the chipset on your host controller.

eSATA is very stable, but it will not work with drives >2TB on older computers that do not have BIOS support for large drives, whereas USB 3.0 (with a reasonably recent driver) will.

I have successfully used a U3eSATA USB to eSATA converter to attach a 3GB drive in an eSATA enclosure through a USB 3.0 port to an older computer that would not recognize it when connected directly to the computer's eSATA port.
17  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Simpler tax forms? Intuit says NO! on: April 16, 2015, 06:03:10 PM
Yesterday was Tax Day for those of us who live and work in the USA – the day by which you need to file your income tax return with the IRS.  If you wonder why the process is so complicated, don’t blame the agency, which would actually like to make it easier for most taxpayers (and itself).  It seems that the main roadblock to simplifying the way taxes are filed is a massive lobbying effort by Intuit, the makers of TurboTax software, which has spent over $13 million dollars over the past 5 years lobbying against reform.
18  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: pound symbol on: April 16, 2015, 05:28:52 PM
I keep a cheat sheet of symbols and foreign characters that I frequently need in a text file.  When I need one of those characters,  I copy from that sheet and paste into whatever I am writing.

You can also use the Windows Character Map program, which includes the GBP character (£) and most anything else you are likely to need on any Western keyboard.  Character Map used to be in the Accessories group in the Start Menu, but disappeared in Windows 7.  However, it is still included with Windows and you can call it up by typing "Character Map" (without the quotes) in the Start Menu search box.  It's a little clunky, but it works.

19  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: So, what pdf reader app is your fav? on: April 12, 2015, 11:12:02 PM
SumatraPDF is a great file viewer and the fact that it supports so many formats makes it a great tool to keep on hand, particularly as a portable viewer.  That said, it is too bare-bones to be my regular pdf viewer. A major problem for me is print support - pages cannot be resized or fitted to paper size. It also has no editing support and does not support forms at all, making it unusable in many situations.

Adobe Reader is now ridiculously bloated and larded with "features" that attempt to get you to buy additional online services from Adobe. I gave up on it after Version 9.5.  For several years, I have used PDF Xchange Pro, but the free version is probably adequate for most people.  It's not noticeably slower than SumatraPDF and actually performs better with very large and complex documents, in my experience.
20  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Why are car stereos so flimsy? on: April 03, 2015, 11:40:35 AM
The market for third party car stereos is fast disappearing.   Recent car models tend to use proprietary designs integrated with the dashboard and other parts of the electronic control system that tie into things like steering wheel controls and hands free phone systems.

Also, starting in 2015, all new cars sold in the US have to incorporate back-up cameras, meaning they will all have video screens in the dashboard. You can expect the audio system controls to migrate to that screen as well.  Apple and Google are furiously working to sign up auto manufacturers, so within a few years, all new cars will offer iOS and/or Android extensions for the dash screen. I'd expect Microsoft to follow suit.

Personally, I like having physical buttons I can use without taking my eyes off the road, but I suspect that voice controls will become a lot more common in the future.
21  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / MS-DOS Mobile on: April 01, 2015, 07:06:10 PM
I don't have a Windows Phone, but this would almost make it worth getting one.
22  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: What books are you reading? on: March 20, 2015, 11:11:27 AM
Just finished "The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere" by Kevin Carey.

Like many journalists, the author does a better job of explaining the way things are and how they got that way than in predicting where they are going, but this should be a must read for Mouser!

23  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: 2014-2015: Best tablet specs for ebook reading on: March 15, 2015, 04:20:16 PM
Sony has been selling the Digital Paper directly to consumers in the U.S. since last summer through their online store, but I'm not sure they are still making the device.  It's currently listed as "back-ordered" on the site.

Sony pulled out of the e-book market late last year and said they would not be making readers any more.  Whether that includes the Digital Paper is an open question.

24  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Once-in-a-century Pi Day 03/14/15 on: March 14, 2015, 09:46:26 AM
Pi is an irrational number and can only be represented in decimal notation as an approximation.

In the case of Pi, rounding (3.1416) provides a better decimal approximation than truncation (3.1415).

I conclude therefore that next year's Pi day (3/14/16) will be a closer fit than this year's Pi day.
25  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Need help guidance as a beginner of Android world on: March 11, 2015, 09:29:08 PM
There is no global undelete in Android and the Android OS is very aggressive about reclaiming memory and storage space.  If in doubt, don't delete things before you copy them somewhere.

You can backup photos and videos automatically by turning on auto-backup in the Google Photo app. See here for more information.

Google's backup service will automatically backup most apps and the data they own (but not external data you have worked on with an app like an editor or reader).  This is only useful if you do a factory reset, in which case your apps will be restored after the device has been wiped.  Check that "Backup My Data" is enabled under Settings/Backup and Reset.

For backing up data files in general, I recommend X-plore File Manager, a dual pane file manager that makes it very easy to copy files to and from other computers on your local network as well as backup data to various cloud services.
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