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5901  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Best USB/Bootable recovery and "utility" tools on: January 16, 2012, 04:50:17 PM
Oh yes...and let's not forget Darik's Boot & Nuke (DBAN) disk.

About DBAN

Darik's Boot and Nuke ("DBAN") is a self-contained boot disk that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction.

Although primarily designed to be a data wiping utility, I've found good use for it when you're recycling a hard drive and your current Windows installation refuses to partition or format it.

Running DBAN using the quick option for 10-15 minutes is usually enough to get rid of whatever gremlins are lurking in the boot sector or partition table that are preventing you from formatting it.

Just run DBAN for a short while, then create a new MBR on the drive, and then proceed to partition and format as you usually do. You can do this with either Windows or PartedMagic.

5902  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Best USB/Bootable recovery and "utility" tools on: January 16, 2012, 04:41:57 PM
If you're not afraid to roll up your sleeves (and maybe get a little bit outside your comfort zone) there are several good Linux based tools that are worth their weight in gold when dealing with persnickety Windows issues:

SystemRescueCd and Trinity Rescue Kit are bootable "live" Linux distros that contain a wealth of powerful tools for PC troubleshooting and repair work.

About SystemRescueCd

Description: SystemRescueCd is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash. It aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the hard disk partitions. It comes with a lot of linux software such as system tools (parted, partimage, fstools, ...) and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It requires no installation. It can be used on linux servers, linux desktops or windows boxes. The kernel supports the important file systems (ext2/ext3/ext4, reiserfs, reiser4, btrfs, xfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs, iso9660), as well as network filesystems (samba and nfs).

Trinity Rescue Kit or TRK is a free live Linux distribution that aims specifically at recovery and repair operations on Windows machines, but is equally usable for Linux recovery issues. Since version 3.4 it has an easy to use scrollable text menu that allows anyone who masters a keyboard and some English to perform maintenance and repair on a computer, ranging from password resetting over disk cleanup to virus scanning

It is possible to boot TRK in three different ways:

-as a bootable CD which you can burn yourself from a downloadable isofile or a self burning Windows executable

-from a USB stick/disk (optionally also a fixed disk), installable from Windows or from the bootable TRK cd (which is easier and safer)

-from network over PXE: you start 1 TRK from CD or USB and you run all other computers from that one over the network without modifying anything to you local network.

Ever since version 3.4, TRK has received an easy to use textmenu but has equally kept the commandline.

PartedMagic is a Swiss Army Knife disk partitioning utility with some additional bells & whistles you may not want to live without.

The Parted Magic OS employs core programs of GParted and Parted to handle partitioning tasks with ease, while featuring other useful software (e.g. Partimage, TestDisk, Truecrypt, Clonezilla, G4L, SuperGrubDisk, ddrescue, etc…) and an excellent set of info to benefit the user. An extensive collection of file system tools are also included, as Parted Magic supports the following: btrfs, ext2, ext3, ext4, fat16, fat32, hfs, hfs+, jfs, linux-swap, ntfs, reiserfs, and xfs. Parted Magic requires at least a i586 processor and 312MB of RAM to operate or 175MB in “Live” mode.


  • Format internal and external hard drives.
  •     Move, copy, create, delete, expand & shrink hard drive partitions.
  •     Clone your hard drive, to create a full backup.
  •     Test hard drives for impending failure.
  •     Test memory for bad sectors.
  •     Benchmark your computer for a performance rating.
  •     Securely erase your entire hard drive, wiping it clean from all data.
  •     Gives access to non-booting systems allowing you to rescue important data.
  •     Runs from the CD, no install required.

Has a real pretty GUI too! Grin



In general, it's not a bad idea to get some familiarity with Linux system utilities and tools.

They're powerful; sometimes succeed when Windows and DOS-based tools fail you; and help stretch your technical knowledge.

Besides, if Microsoft ends up going down the road with Metro/Windows 8 the way they seem to want to, half of us will be permanently switching over to Linux or BSD anyway. So now might be a good time to start gaining some experience.  Thmbsup

(Note: I'm only half joking here. Cool )
5903  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: 2012 Kingsoft Office Suite Professional, Giveaway of the Day on: January 16, 2012, 01:36:11 PM
FWIW the wordprocessor is very nice.  smiley
5904  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: "Save the internet" on: January 16, 2012, 08:46:50 AM
Actually it doesn't say nothing ...
What it says is 'we have already made up our mind and irrespective of what the US population and the rest of the world want you can go F*** yourselves -Walllywood is more important than everyone else in the world - they say so themselves so it must be true'

Which is why I keep saying the only way America is going to save its entertainment industry is to stop consuming American films, TV, and music. Starving the monster to death is the only way to stop the nonsense.  So stop giving it your money - and more importantly, your attention. Walk away from it completely. Its only a matter of time before it dies and a new industry is born from the ashes. Y

But it needs to start somewhere  And you can start very simply: Stop feeding the Troll! Cool Thmbsup  
5905  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: "Save the internet" on: January 16, 2012, 07:25:17 AM
From the folks at OSNews:

White House Uses 838 Words to Say Nothing About SOPA
Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 14th Jan 2012 20:57 UTC

The Obama administration has responded to two petitions regarding SOPA, but in true political fashion, the response is 838 words of absolutely nothing at all. Here's a link, but don't complain to me about losing 10 minutes of your life reading this empty drivel. How about taking a stand for once, eh?

Here's the official response in case you don't want to waste additional time chasing it down at the White House website:

OK...it's official. 1 picture is worth 838 words.



5906  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: "Of course you know, this means WAR Gentlemen!" Microsoft makes its move. on: January 16, 2012, 05:51:42 AM
gHacks recently did a short editorial piece entitled: What might a post-Windows world look like?

There was one interesting observation made:


Windows 8 is a big gamble though and if it fails then Microsoft will either have to backtrack with Windows 9, pull an immensely impressive rabbit out of their hat or face the consequences of poor decision-making.

I think this hits a very important point.

Microsoft is going in a radically different direction with their upcoming Windows 8. In many respects, the underlying message is very similar to the "Father knows best" attitude they took with Vista.

And Microsoft cannot afford another Vista debacle.

So now I'm more certain than ever that what we are seeing is an attempt on Microsoft's part to avoid that  risk by force-shifting the previously open hardware platform to a proprietary model like Apple's.

I was talking to a Mac-using client last week while attempting to sort out one of those "OSX things" I get every so often. She's owns a five person totally Mac-based company. I had asked this client if she really liked Apple and the Mac operating system all that much. My client responded it wasn't so much a matter of 'liking' Apple as it was reaching "an accommodation" with it. She said she was "generally ok" with how her Macs worked most times. But even if she weren't happy, she'd have to live with it, because she had tens of thousands invested in the Mac platform and related software. She went on to say it usually worked well enough for what she needed it for - and it wasn't like the software would run on anything else.

I think her answer has a lot of bearing on where Microsoft is attempting to go with Secure Boot. In order for Microsoft to minimize its risk, generally available open platform computing has to go away. And the only way it can be made to go away is if Microsoft can use its market share to get hardware manufacturers to 'voluntarily' abandon open hardware and queue up to produce Ballmer's walled-garden.

And Microsoft will need to make this happen while they're still controlling 85-88% of the currently deployed desktops. Because the longer they wait, the less likely they will be able to force the shift in hardware.

If Microsoft succeeds, it also garners dividends because it effectively pulls the rug out from under Linux and open software. Without a readily available and affordable hardware platform to run on, Linux will become completely marginalized and either become a VCIW ('voice-crying-in-the-wilderness') OS at best - or gradually become extinct as the 'antique' hardware it runs on wears out.

And because the US economic forecast isn't looking too rosy (either near or long-term) I don't think we can expect much intervention on the part of US government. Because any action on their part would only risk losing one of the very few market segments where the United States still holds virtual dominance: personal computing operating systems.

Which only leaves the consumers to lead a push back.

And considering the widespread acceptance and commercial success of things like the iPhone, iPad, Kindle, and Nook - I don't think the average buyer is all that concerned about proprietary lock-in.

Remember the little Linux kid?

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7ozaFbqg00" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7ozaFbqg00</a>

Wanna know how he's gonna get "educated" going forward if Microsoft and Apple have anything to say about it?

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfevfJQtg_g" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfevfJQtg_g</a>

Time to educate the masses. Before it's unequivocally too late. ohmy


Note: My apologies for the twit who disabled embedding and forces you to go to the YouTube site to see the THX1138 segment above. (Not that it's his media to begin with.) Brave new world indeed...
5907  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: "Of course you know, this means WAR Gentlemen!" Microsoft makes its move. on: January 15, 2012, 05:31:38 PM
Jail breaking only works in that key data is R/W enabled. Commit that to silicon and it becomes virtually impossible unless you can "wedge" around the boot sequence. And that introduces a whole new level of challenges. And there are dozens of tricks to prevent that too.

So it's not a question of what could be done. It's a matter of preventing a never ending battle to lock/unlock the boot sequence and OS.  We don't want to have to go there even if we, as a last resort, could.
5908  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Download Crew: Another site for freebies... on: January 15, 2012, 04:25:48 PM
Why not?  What's the scoop with betanews/fileforum?

Run a search in this forum. It's hardly worth repeating or starting another discussion about them.  smiley
5909  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sorry, This Post Has Been Censored on: January 14, 2012, 01:32:10 PM

Can you say: 'backpedaling' and 'damage control'?

If they felt that strongly why don't they promise to veto these bills?

Dear Mr. President and all your hand-wringing White House Staff - please see #5 and #6 below:

5910  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sorry, This Post Has Been Censored on: January 14, 2012, 01:21:34 PM
@Renegade - Thx for that video. As someone who has also been ordered and escorted out of a municipal meeting for being out of order, I can appreciate what went down, and the outrage it caused. (I had asked the chairman if his board had the legal authority to do what they were doing since the issue clearly fell outside of the stated function of their department as defined by town ordinance - and likely outside their range of expertise and ability based on how badly it was being handled.) The cops were apologetic while escorting me out. And I knew them both personally, so I didn't push it. Besides, I have a rule about that.*

Most of the people at the meeting got pretty pissed. Including the ones that disagreed with me. Thankfully there's still some New England Yankee left in the local mindset. We might want to punch you in the mouth for something you said. But we'd also just as readily punch out the first person who tried to keep you from saying it.

* 40hz's Rule for dealing with the police in a confrontational political situation - Keep the following in mind at all times:

"Cops are just tools used by The Man. Don't get suckered into fighting the cops. Fight The Man." -anonymous 1967 rally speaker.
5911  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sorry, This Post Has Been Censored on: January 14, 2012, 12:30:51 PM
Maybe some heads should roll again while chanting 'Vive la revolucion!'. (in a good old fashioned French tradition...)

Not a bad idea. I'm getting a little behind with my knitting. And I could use an afternoon off. Grin

Excuse me Mme. Defarge, but is this seat taken?

5912  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sorry, This Post Has Been Censored on: January 14, 2012, 12:29:20 PM
No, the fido.net was not a mistuk.
It exists and, if you read the background and related material, you will probably see why it's called that. It doesn't appear to be a scam riding illegitimately on Fidonet's coattails, or anything similar.

Even if they were trying to ride on Fidonet's coattails there's nothing that could be done about it.

IIRC Fidonet and Fido were never registered as trademarks (since there was no business) or set up as any sort of formal organization. It was just a peer maintained network of volunteers. Knowing Tom Jennings avowedly anarchist political leanings, I doubt he would have allowed any formalization of his creation - even though he probably couldn't have done anything about it if it had happened. Because copyright was generally not considered applicable to software code, and the USPTO was still intelligent enough not to be issuing patents for software or business methods back then.

Simpler times... smiley

And no lawyers.  cheesy

No wonder so much got done so fast - and so well. Thmbsup

5913  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: "Of course you know, this means WAR Gentlemen!" Microsoft makes its move. on: January 14, 2012, 12:03:20 PM
In the final analysis, if you don't like windows or how it operates.... don't buy it.

It is amazing how many problems would be solved if people followed this philosophy.

Would that it were that simple.

But in this case, those who don't like Windows enough to look for an alternative OS are in the distinct minority.

What I worry about is that the classic 'open' PC platform disappears completely once Microsoft starts setting up lock-in deals with hardware manufacturers.

Look at it this way: If somebody like Gateway or Acer is offered Windows 8 (OEM edition) at $35-$50 per unit if they go with UEFI and Secure Boot (with the argument it improves security for the end-user and cuts down on support costs for the PC manufacturers and Microsoft) or $80-$100 per unit if they don't - care to hazard a guess as to which way it's going to go?

In the case of companies like Dell, who manufacture their own mobos, it's an even easier decision since they're not dictating to another manufacturer. It's an in-house decision. And 98+% of their PC business is Windows. (Try buying one without Windows installed if you don't believe it. It's possible. For some models. But it's not easy.) But there is nothing stopping Dell from locking out the end-user from making changes to Secure Boot. All they need to do is clearly inform the customer their machine will only run Windows 8 (or a later OS) from Microsoft. It can be purely Dell's decision (since Microsoft doesn't "require" it - nudge-nudge, wink-wink) which therefor isn't illegal unless a court decides otherwise. And with all the competition out there in PC land, the courts won't.

The real problem with this is that there could easily come a time when taking your money elsewhere won't be an option. Because there won't be anyplace else to take it unless you start manufacturing your own hardware. (Although there's a chance somebody like Ubuntu might since they're already talking about tablets. Ah...cancel that. Ubuntu's on the tablet/Unity bandwagon so completely they're getting just as bad as the other guys. So they probably wouldn't mind seeing the PITA open desktop environment go away either. )

It's very similar to the problem corporate ownership of TV networks causes for their news desks. The mothership trolls would never censor what their news affiliates chose to report. Nor would they ever so much as hint at what stories an editor should or shouldn't run. They won't whisper so much as a single word. Nor would they want to. Because they know that cultivating low-key paranoia in an employee is much more effective since it leads to self-policing.

Let's imagine an editor for the 6 o'clock news called Ellen. Ellen is very aware of who she ultimately works for. And she knows that if she pushes things too far, or in the wrong direction, somebody someplace "high up" might suddenly take an interest in her career.

She's also smart enough to know any reprisals will be extremely oblique and impossible to prove. So she (since she is very smart) decides to self-censor herself and pull some punches with the news. She'll call it exercising editorial judgement, responsibility, and restraint. And it will be impossible to prove otherwise. And maybe, after a few years, she'll even believe it.

And that is exactly what has happened with network news reporting in the last decade.

Going back to PC hardware manufacturers, if they're in a position of staying on the good side of Microsoft by no longer supporting a miniscule portion of their former market, it doesn't take much thought as to which way to jump. There's nothing forcing them to leave their Secure Boot options user accessible. And as long as they're not being forced ('forced' being a relative thing here) by Microsoft, there's no violation of US law. Especially since US anti-monopoly laws aren't designed to encourage competition or protect specific players in a given market. US antitrust regulations do not prevent the eventual formation of what is called a "natural monopoly." They're only there to prevent the 800lb. gorillas from using their influence alone to illegally compete. And illegal competitive practices are often extremely tough to prove under US law.

So to loop back - yes, you can vote with your wallet.

But only up to a point where there are actual choices. Once the choices are gone (through machination or natural attrition) your only 'choice' is to buy what you really don't want - or do without completely.

And, in this new world we're building for ourselves, not owning some form of computer is rapidly becoming a non-option as well.
5914  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sorry, This Post Has Been Censored on: January 14, 2012, 08:05:36 AM
I doubt anyone here would else have cared, thinking "meh, it was...".

Not cared? With this topic and this crowd?

You'd be surprised. Wink
5915  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: OpenFreely warning on: January 14, 2012, 08:03:04 AM
OpenFreely]OpenFreely.com was founded in 2011 and is owned-and-operated by Download Freely, LLC. We are located in New York, New York and strive to deliver a high quality product which will help users open, view, edit, and print various file types on their Windows computer. Our users range from organizations to government agencies, Fortune 500 companies and even your "mom and pop" store down the street. Our software has been downloaded by millions of happy users

FWIW Download Freely, LLC is not listed as a limited liability company operating in New York per the State's corporate records office. They have no listing for that entity.

Maybe they'll want to get registered (and legal) with New York State if they're doing so much business out of there?  smiley
5916  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: When you make your 100'th Post on: January 14, 2012, 07:51:08 AM
A bit of anti-aliasing will clear that right up...  Grin
Since we appear to be on a pirate ship — and I have the peg leg, the eye-patch, but no parrot — I must ask, where's my polygon?

last I saw he said he was going for some fish and chirps

Fission chips? Isn't that what they use to power nuclear subs?
5917  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sorry, This Post Has Been Censored on: January 14, 2012, 07:48:39 AM
Before there was general public access to the Internet...before there was P2P...there was Fido. Kiss
And it is still around. smiley

Aw...now you gave it away! And here I was hoping to let folks discover that for themselves. Grin

OK. Since it's out of the bag, the "official" site is here.
5918  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / "Of course you know, this means WAR Gentlemen!" Microsoft makes its move. on: January 14, 2012, 07:44:37 AM
Microsoft never ceases to amaze...or quit.

This in from OSNews:

Link to full article here.

* Microsoft Forces OEMs To Lock Devices Into Windows 8 Using UEFI
posted by Thom Holwerda on Fri 13th Jan 2012 16:20 UTC, submitted by moondevil

And so the war on general computing continues. Were you looking forward to ARM laptops and maybe even desktops now that Windows 8 will also be released for ARM? I personally was, because I'd much rather have a thin, but fast and economical machine than a beastly Intel PC. Sadly, it turns out that all our fears regarding UEFI's Secure Boot feature were justified: Microsoft prohibits OEMs from allowing you to install anything other than Windows 8 on ARM devices (the Software Freedom Law Center has more).

I had honestly hoped that I was wrong with my concerns over Secure Boot. Really, I hoped so hard. Sadly, 'tis not to be true. It turns out Microsoft has been lying to us all this time (shocker, right?), and despite their sugared words, they're definitely going to force OEMs into not allowing anything but Windows to be installed on ARM devices.

In response to the initial concerns over Secure Boot's potential anti-alternative operating system nature, Microsoft stated it would not force OEMs into anything. "OEMs have the ability to customize their firmware to meet the needs of their customers by customizing the level of certificate and policy management on their platform," Redmond promised, "Microsoft does not mandate or control the settings on PC firmware that control or enable secured boot from any operating system other than Windows."

Well, dip me in white chocolate and call me Lorelai, but the company has amended its Windows Hardware Certification Requirements, stating that OEMs are not allowed to disable Secure Boot on ARM machines, or even offer the option for users to turn it off ...

The above article contains a link to the Software Freedom Law Center's assessment of what Microsoft has gotten up to. Read it here.

Suggestion: Read the both articles. Then get angry. Then get very angry. Then start complaining. Loudy and to anyone within earshot.


5919  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sorry, This Post Has Been Censored on: January 14, 2012, 01:44:27 AM
Time to run my own DNS services...

And they call it "Puppy Love"...

Before there was general public access to the Internet...before there was P2P...there was Fido. Kiss

Time to start working on an updated and enhanced version of something like Fidonet. As long as you're on a government/commercial network, you play by government/commercial rules.

There's a light on tech, heavy on social issues (and slooooow moving) 44 minute documentary segment on it up on Youtube if anybody's interested.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlXNXdf6Xh0" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlXNXdf6Xh0</a>

What emerges is an intriguing and historically documented example of just how much can be accomplished - and how quickly - with a touch of imagination, some work, and a community of people who believed in what they were doing. Check out the comment at the 17:52 minute mark about censorship and the Internet even if you don't have the patience to watch the whole thing. Probably the single most important point in the entire segment.

Also some good cautionary notes on the problem with politics and personal power plays - and what happens when they infiltrate and eventually become an obsession within a technical endeavor. Something which sometimes plagues the FOSS community till this day. Everything that's good soon discovers its dark side once it becomes popular. (IIRC flaming and flame-mail was a problem that was first seen in Fidonet.)

What was accomplished once can be accomplished again. Cool Thmbsup
5920  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: "Save the internet" on: January 13, 2012, 07:16:24 PM
^ I think the operational phrase might be:  "only limited by your imagination."  Grin Cool
5921  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: "Save the internet" on: January 13, 2012, 05:03:18 PM
Wow!  That Cory Doctorow stuff is excellent!  So juicy.  I loved reading that.  I love hearing from people explain things with such clarity.


Ive got this like/dislike (or very mild love/hate) thing with Cory D.. Lately, as my mind is gradually moving more towards the confrontational and radical (sure sign I'm entering 'supplemental childhood') I find myself agreeing with him more and more.

And unlike so many, he does 'get it.' Better than most in fact.

Good author. And a blogger worth reading.  Thmbsup
5922  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: "Save the internet" on: January 13, 2012, 03:42:27 PM
I reckon perhaps more effective than an outright boycott would be a massive move over to independent media. After all, with a sudden drop-off of sales and no corresponding rise in other legitimate media business, they can just claim piracy has had a huge jump and they need even more draconian laws to handle it.

- Oshyan

All the more reason why you need to stop consuming. Pirating just plays into their hands.

And alternate indy isn't really viable as a method for sending a message. They'll just keep harassing indies and passing laws until they eliminate them. That's how they got a fee put on audio cassettes. All blanks in the US had a tariff (something like 50¢ each) that got paid back to the recording industry to compensate the for the losses to piracy the music industry 'just knew' were taking place.

You need to kill these people before they get laws passed that makes DRM mandatory for all media. BEcause once that happens they'll be able to survive indefinitely just by licensing that technology.

To defeat big media, you need to put them out of business in a clear and true capitalist fashion such that it gives them no grounds to go running to the government begging for intervention.

Starve them to death. It's the only way. Cool
5923  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: "Save the internet" on: January 13, 2012, 03:37:54 PM


So much for bullying other countries into passing laws. Now it seem the US has sold the UK on enforcing US laws as well.

This news just in time for Friday the 13th:

‘Guinea pig’ extradition case sets dangerous precedent for pirating Britons

By Zack Whittaker | January 13, 2012, 7:41am PST

Summary: British citizens can now be extradited to the United States based on a ‘guinea pig’ case regarding the alleged infringement of copyrighted works.

Link to full article here.

5924  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: When you make your 100'th Post on: January 13, 2012, 02:04:58 PM
Stern measures!
5925  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Planning a major programming project - tips requested on: January 13, 2012, 10:58:55 AM
The truth of the matter is, that much of what differentiates an experienced coder vs. someone just starting out is not knowledge of a language or implementation speed -- it's developing good judgement and skills regarding how to attack a problem. And you can only learn that through experience and practice.

So from that I guess you're saying the real difference between an experienced and a beginner coder is...experience?  Grin tongue

Good to know! Thmbsup

Kidding...just kidding. Wink
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