Archive for category Computer

Universal Plug & Play (UPnP) Security Flaw discovered 6 weeks ago

RouterAlthough there have been fundamental problems & security issues with UPnP for over a decade, those are small potatoes compared to this new UPnP security flaw reported at the end of January 2013.  UPnP has always been assumed to be applicable only to the LAN-side of your router (i.e., your home network).  This new flaw effects the WAN-side of your router, meaning someone on the internet can easily use UPnP to exploit your router & network.   Approximately 6,900 products (including popular routers) from over 1500 vendors are susceptible to this UPnP vulnerably.  Rapid7 is credited with the discovery of the UPnP security flaw and they strongly recommend disabling UPnP on all internet-facing systems & replacing routers that do not provide the ability to disable this protocol.  They’ve produced a whitepaper on this security flaw here.  An extensive list of the vulnerable routers is posted here.

If you haven’t done so already, I strongly recommend you test your router for the presence of this vulnerability.  Over 81 million individual routers were discovered to be vulnerable as of January 30th, 2013.  Steve Gibson of Gibson Research Corporation ( has added a vulnerability test on his  “ShieldsUP!” web page located here.  Just click on the “Proceed” button, followed by clicking on “GRC’s Instant UPnP Exposure Test.”

In addition, Steve Gibson & Leo Laporte have a detailed discussion of the UPnP Security Flaw in their Security Now podcast, Episode #389.  You can find the audio, pdf and html files for this podcast on the “Security Now” homepage.

Here’s hopin’ that your router passes the vulnerability test!

Synchronize & Backup Files with SyncEXP — A Short Tutorial

SyncEXP is a free file and folder synchronization tool that I mentioned  a couple years ago in my list of favorite PC programs & utilities.  I’ve been using this tool daily for many years to not only keep files synchronized on my multiple PCs & laptops (over my wired & wireless network), but as my primary backup tool with USB external HDDs.  SyncEXP is a standalone executable file and does not require installation.  Just unzip it somewhere on your hard drive or USB stick & run.

SyncEXP is extremely easy to use, but it does take a little practice in order to gain confidence and eliminate user errors.  As the ReadMe file that comes with it mentions, make sure you review the “Preview” screen before completing a synchronization because all file deletions are permanent.

SynEXP Main ScreenHere’s what you see when you first run SyncEXP.   I’ve circled “Include sub-folder” as this check-box defaults to unchecked for each task you create.  Unless you specifically do not want to synchronize sub-folders, always check this box to synchronize ALL files in the specified task folder.

For each “Task” you create, select folders (Host & Mirror) that you want to synchronize on either the same system; with a folder on another PC/laptop; or with a folder on an external HDD.  You can synchronize entire hard drives (i.e., C:\), but the “Preview” screen could be extremely lengthy.

You’ll first want to set up all your tasks (all the file folders you want to synchronize) and then click on the Save button (floppy disk icon) in the upper left-hand corner to save the configuration.  Always double check that the “Include sub-folder” is checked, otherwise you may not be fully synchronizing all the files under the specified root folder you selected.

Browser for Host/Mirror Folder screenFor each task you must specify the Host and Mirror folder, followed by setting the six “File synchro options” at the bottom which allow you to specify the file copy, delete or ignore operations.  You can either enter the Host & Mirror locations or click on the Browse button; navigate to the desired folder; then click the “OK” button.  Double-check the six “File synchro options” carefully for each task, as this is where many user errors occur.

I pretty much use only two File synchro option settings.  One for copying between two systems in which the newest files are copied both TO & FROM the host & mirror system (bidirectional synchronization); the other for copying ONLY from the Host system to a backup external HDD (unidirectional) – the Mirror folder.

The two snapshots below indicate these two settings:

Bi-directional SyncUni-directional Sync

SyncEXP Main Screen w/Tasks

The snapshot to the right shows a completed task list.  Inside the upper left-hand red circle are the New Task; Copy Task; and Delete Task buttons.  After entering your first folder & setting the file synchro options, I suggest you copy that task for all subsequent folders; rename it; & enter the new Host & Mirror folder locations.  Otherwise you’ll have to set each of the six file synchro options for each & every task (which is a pain in the arse if you have a lot of tasks).

Note the area in the middle red circle.  Here you can choose to include or exclude specified sub-folders.  This can be useful when you’re syncing your laptop to your desktop PC & your laptop HDD does not have enough disk space to fully synchronize with a particularly large folder on the desktop.

SyncEXP Advanced Options screenThe circled “Advanced Options” in the upper right-hand corner of the previous snapshot allows you to include, ignore or delete only specified files or file types.  In addition, you can also specify a username & password if your network requires it.  The settings shown on the right are what you get if you click on the “Defaults” button in lower left-hand corner.  I strongly suggest that you DO NOT check “Auto Mode” as this will eliminate the Preview window and Results dialog.  I always check the “Ignore one hour time difference…” because for some reason this seems to occur more often than you would expect between different systems.

Before executing SyncEXP, you must check the box next to each of the Tasks (folders) in the Task List on SyncEXP’s main screen that you want to synchronize.  If you want to sync all tasks defined, right-click on a task & select “Check All” from the pop-up menu.  To execute, click the green arrow just to the right of the Delete Task button.  SyncEXP will compare all files for the first task selected & display the “Preview” screen below:

SyncEXP Preview Screen

Please note that NO files have been copied or deleted yet.  The above screen provides a preview of what files WILL be copied (or deleted) if you click on the “Sync Now” button.  The lower left-hand corner indicates that 10 files will be copied.  The Blue & Red arrows in the “Export” sub-folder of “blogs” indicates that files will be copied in both directions (from Host-to-Mirror and from Mirror-to-Host).  The Blue arrow in the left “Images” sub-folder indicates that files will only be copied from the Host to the Mirror sub-folder.  To see which files will be copied, click on each of the folders with Blue or Magenta arrows.  Clicking on the “Export” sub-folder displays the following screen:

SyncEXP Preview Screen

The above snapshot shows all the files in the “Export” sub-folder.  File names in black are the same in both folders.  Highlighted files (two in Blue; two in Magenta) indicate differences between the the two folders & the files that will be copied when you click on “Sync Now”.  If desired, you can click the left check-box of any of these files to ignore them (they won’t be copied if the check-mark is cleared).  As in the Task List check boxes on the SyncEXP main screen, right click anywhere in the file list and you can either clear or check all boxes via the pop-up menu.  Under the “=” column you can left-click on the Blue or Magenta arrows to cycle through applicable options.  In this particular case the only option offered is to delete the file.

You can cycle the display between all files shown or just differences with the buttons in the lower right-hand corner — black Asterik (*) for All Files; red “Equals Sign with Slash” to show only differences between the Host & Mirror folder.  When dealing with folders or sub-folders with lots of files, you’ll definitely want to click on the red “Equals Sign with Slash” to limit your view to only folder/sub-folder differences.  The snapshot below is an example:

SyncEXP Preview Screen

If I were to left-click on the “Images” folder, the Preview window would display (in the right-hand pane) the six files in the Host “Images” sub-folder that will be copied to the Mirror “Images” sub-folder.

To perform the file synchronization for this task, just click on the “Sync Now” button.  A window will display indicating the status of the synchronization, followed by a Results log window showing the number of files transferred and/or deleted.  Take note of the final entry “Failed to synchronize.”  You want to see a big fat zero to indicate success.  If not zero, the files that were unsuccessfully copied will be indicated above in this window.  Click on the “Close” button to dismiss the Results log window and begin the next Task comparison (that is, if you checked more than one Task to synchronize on the main SyncEXP screen).   If no other tasks remain to be synced, you’ll be returned to the main SyncEXP screen.

As stated in the SyncEXP readme file, I strongly suggest that you create a couple of dummy test folders on your system; populate them with various files; edit some of the files in each folder so there are date-time or file size differences; then get familiar with SyncEXP using these dummy folders.  Always review the Preview screen carefully before clicking on the “Sync Now” button, especially if you only have one backup.

If the link to download SyncEXP at the top of this post is not working, I’ve placed a copy of the program here.

Good Luck!

Soaring Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Prices…

In case you haven’t noticed, hard disk drives (HDDs) have become much more expensive lately due to extreme flooding near Bangkok, Thailand, where both Western Digital and Toshiba were struck hard.  Seagate apparently wasn’t touched by the floods, but unfortunately many of the components it needs for HDD manufacturing were hit hard by the flooding.

Windows Secrets has a great article titled  What you can do about soaring hard-drive prices by Woody Leonhard that provides much more info than found elsewhere.

Another article from ComputerWorld titled Hard drive shortage expected to hurt consumers most.”


Be Prepared for PROTECT IP & DNS Censorship

Just in case PROTECT IP passes, along with its planned Domain Name Services (DNS) filtering (a.k.a. censorship) of “alleged” infringing websites, prepare yourself by reviewing these guides published by ZeroPaid.  Over the past month, ZeroPaid has published eight guides for circumventing/defeating US DNS censorship.  Links to each of the guides is posted below.

ZeroPaid Guides:  How to Circumvent and/or Defeat US DNS Censorship:

  1. Obtaining Server IPs via command prompt
  2. Using DNS Web Tools
  3. Using Your Hosts File
  4. Using MAFIAAFire
  5. Using Tor
  6. Using Foxy Proxy
  7. Changing Your DNS Server
  8. Using a VPN

If you’re still not privy as to what the “PROTECT IP” act is about and how it will break the Internet as we know it today, see my previous posts on June 1, 2011 and June 6, 2011.  Both contain links to numerous reference information, articles and technical white papers.  If you haven’t contacted your lawmakers to urge killing this nasty piece of legislation, visit “Demand Progress” where you can send a personalized email to your representatives.

Computer stuff: Security Now, Windows Secrets & Ask Bob Rankin…

Security Now podcast:
Leo Laporte of TWiT & Steve Gibson of Gibson Research Corporation (home of SpinRite) have started another “How the Internet Works” podcast at Security Now.  Scroll down to Episode 309 (14 Jul 11) to download the podcast or transcript.  Here’s direct links to the first two episodes:

  • Episode 309, How the Internet Works, Part 1  (mp3)  (pdf)
  • Episode 313, How The Internet Works: ICMP & UDP (mp3) (pdf)

Steve and Leo Laporte did another “How the Internet Works” on Security Now over five years ago.  Scroll down to Episode 25 (02 Feb 2006) for the first episode in this series (mp3) (pdf).

Windows Secrets Newsletter:
This information-packed newsletter has been around for over 4 years.  For a small donation you can also enjoy the paid version which provides even more useful info.  Here’s a short sampling of some of their free articles:

Ask Bob Rankin:

The “Ask Bob Rankin” site provides a lot of useful information concerning PCs, peripherals  utility software, and much more.  Here’s a sampling of some of his articles:

The last article (Microsoft System Sweeper) references a tool, currently in beta, called Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper.  It promises to help start an infected PC and perform an offline scan to help identify and remove rootkits and other advanced malware.

Gotta’ go.  Oh… a friend was passing through Clarkston, WA & saw a bumper sticker with Obama’s picture and the text “Does this ass make by truck look big?”  Gave me a chuckle, plus I can think of LOTS of other pictures to use (including my own).  Latah’s

Beware of Firesheep!

Firesheep is an add-on for the Firefox web browser that makes it extremely easy for you (or anyone else) to hijack current web sessions over open Wi-fi.  It’s been available for a couple weeks now from here and has been downloaded over half a million times.

For a full analysis of what Firesheep is and how to protect yourself from being hijacked, listen to Steve Gibson’s “Security Now” podcast (28 Oct 10) on the topic.  If listening to podcasts isn’t your cup of tea, Steve transcribes them to various formats (html, pdf, text).  Here’s the html transcription of the Firesheep Security Now podcast.

I strongly suggest you also listen to Steve’s latest Security Now podcast (04 Nov 10).  It’s a “Listener Feedback” session but it provides more up-to-date info concerning Firesheep.  The html transcript of this podcast is located here.

The “Security Now” podcast is now in it’s sixth year of production.  It airs weekly every Wednesday on Twit TV  with Leo Laporte.  You can even watch the live video should you desire.  All 273 episodes are archived on Steve Gibson’s “Security Now” web site along with searchable transcripts.  It’s a fantastic educational resource!

UPDATE:  Woody Leonard wrote a great article for Windows Secrets last week titled  “Cloak your connection to foil Firesheep snoopers.”  I improperly referred to what Firesheep allows as “hijacking.”  The proper term for what Firesheep so easily performs is the other well known problem of “sidejacking.”

Ma Bell Canada – Metered Internet Usage & Eliminating Competition

I think perhaps we ought to be paying attention to what may be happening with internet service north of our border, as it could very well happen here in the US of A.  Bell Canada is apparently not only converting their customers to “metered internet usage”, but forcing their competing ISPs (who buy bandwidth from Bell Canada) to also do the same with their customers — thus conveniently eliminating any competition.  In addition to “metered internet usage” Bell Canada is also apparently throttling the traffic of so-called ‘network abusers.’

A metered internet – on the way in Canada? (p2pnet)

–  Bell Canada: Traffic Throttling Mark II (p2pnet)

Unfortunately, things aren’t all that great  here (south of Canada, that is).  Scientific American published an article last month titled “Why Broadband Service in the U.S. Is So Awful”.  It pretty much places the blame on the FCC boo-boo in 2002 where they reclassified broadband internet service as an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service,”  thus stifling competition.

Oh well… not to worry!  (yeah right….)

Articles report that “both Windows & Macs suck” (and they’re right!)

Two great articles from Ars Technica this week, one on Monday highlighting the ‘suckiness’ of Windows followed by one today covering Apple’s ‘suckiness.’  Both articles were written by Peter Bright and in my opinion, are “spot on.”

The 21st century guide to platform trolling: Windows edition

The 21st century guide to platform trolling: Apple edition

I highly encourage you to yonder over to Ars Technica & take a peek at these articles.  It’s really a treat to see dual articles (by the same author, no less) speak accurately about two competing OS’s.  Atho’ I’m a Windows-only user, I have no issues with what Mr. Bright had to say about Windows (yeah… it sucks)  — and I agree TOTALLY with EVERY SINGLE THING he pointed out concerning Apple.

And lastly… both articles are a quick read, full of graphic examples and quite humorous!

Windows Sysinternals “Primer” video

I’ve recommended Windows Sysinternals programs more than once in my blog.  Four of the Sysinternal  programs that I use daily and could not live without are:

Process Explorer
Process Monitor

Windows Sysinternals released a video primer this month covering Process Explorer, Process Monitor and more on their web site.  Don’t be concerned about the notice that you need to install Microsoft Silverlight.  Below the video placeholder are links to download the video in various formats (wmv, mp4, and even the Powerpoint slides).  If you are a user of Sysinternals utilities or just want to learn about them, I highly recommend you view this video.

To check out all the utilities offered by Windows Sysinternals, go to their site.  The really great feature of all of their utilities is that none of them require installation.  Just unzip the file(s) & run!

Increase your PC Security with a “Hosts” file

The “Hosts” file has existed in most, if not all, operating systems since the beginning days of the Internet — back when there was no distributed host name database or “Domain Name Server” (DNS).  Each network node maintained its own map of the network nodes as needed and assigned them names that users could (hopefully) remember.  This worked when the internet (or ARPANET as it was known back then) was fairly small… but not any more.  Most all the OS’s in use today still have the HOSTS file.  In most Windows boxes, it normally has only one entry (  localhost).

The purpose of the “Hosts” files is really simple — it maps IP addresses to host names.  Windows (and other OS’s) check this file BEFORE querying any DNS servers.  This allows it to not only OVERRIDE addresses in the DNS, but to BLOCK addresses, too.

Please check out the site “Blocking Unwanted Parasites with a Hosts File.”  This site provides a new Hosts file monthly that is tailored to block ads, banners, 3rd party cookies and more.  The MVPS HOSTS file now includes most major parasites, hijackers and unwanted Adware/Spyware programs.  To download, look for the yellow file folder & right-click on “” & select Save Target As.  The file was last updated on Sept 22, 2010.  The site provides all the necessary info you need for copying the Hosts file to the necessary location on your system.

I’ve been using the MVPS HOSTS file on all my systems for over three years and cannot imagine accessing the Internet without it.  I STRONGLY recommend using it!

Article on “How to Secure Windows” and more… (from OS News)

OS News posts some really informative articles periodically concerning Windows.  Two of the latest are:

How to Secure Windows

How to Revitalize Mature Computers

There’s lots of valuable information in both of these articles by Howard Fosdick.


Windows 95 turned 15 last week…

Not that anyone noticed (or cared, for that matter), Windows 95 turned 15 yrs old on Aug 24.  Actually, I found one site that noticed — OS News.

Now… I wasn’t particularly a Windows 95 fan, but I did like Windows 98 Second Edition & stayed with it well past the release of Windows XP.  I didn’t upgrade to XP until after Service Pack 2 was released.

Although my website is anything BUT popular, I thought the following compilation of operating system versions (OS) used by people visiting my site throughout this year was interesting:

OS Versions visiting my website

You’ll note that there are still 167 folks using Windows 98, and 22 folks using Windows 95 and Windows NT.  In the full tabular data set posted below that supports the above graph, there are 9 people still using Windows 3.1.

Amazing, eh?

OS Version supporting data

Western Digital offers “Acronis True Image WD Edition” for FREE!

Wow!  Can you believe it?  Western Digital is offering their own “WD Edition” of Acronis True Image for free download that features:

– Drive Cloning
– Drive Migration
– Drive Deployment
– Drive Image Backup
– Drive Image Recovery
— and more…

In addition, it is designed to create optimally aligned partitions on WD Advanced Format Drives (see my original post).  I visited the Acronis & Paragon web sites, and neither mention or acknowledge that they have updated their current software versions to handle Advanced Format Drives.  That means if you use either of these programs to clone a HDD to a WD Advanced Format HDD, you’ll still need to run Western Digital’s alignment utilities on the cloned HDD when you’re through  — even with Vista or Windows 7.  BUT… if you use Western Digital’s version of Acronis True Image to clone your HDD to an Advanced Format Drive, you’ll be set & won’t have to run the alignment utility.

Western Digital’s version of Acronis True Image will (hopefully) provide a complete solution to HDD cloning; migration; backup; and recovery.  I say “hopefully”, as I haven’t tried it yet.  I downloaded the 100MB file, but I already have Acronis True Image Home v11 software installed on my desktop (and it knows diddly-squat about “Advance Format Drives”).

I would assume that Western Digital’s version of Acronis True Image only works with Western Digital HDDs, but this is still fantastic!  IMHO, hard drive manufacturers should have been providing software such as this from the beginning.  We — the customers — buy their hard drives to store all of our precious data on them.  Why must we purchase 3rd party software to clone, migrate, backup & recover data from their HDDs????

Anyway’s… KUDOs to Western Digital!!!

You can download the User Manual for “Acronis True Image WD Edition” here.

Now… if they would just add a disk partitioning tool or partition manager, I’d truly be a happy man!

  • Side Note:  I originally wrote “happy as a clam” (vs. “a happy man”),  but I got to thinkin’ — what does “happy as a clam” even mean???   What does adding a disk partitioning tool to WD software have to do with “happy clams?”  I’ve been using that phrase (verbally) for most of my adult life, without a clue as to what it even means.  It was only when I typed it out here that it hit me… WTF does that even mean???  The only thing “happy” about a clam that I can think of has to do with ‘bearded clams.’  Well.. I googled the phase & found out that it really refers to “happy as a clam in high water,” which is when they are safe from predators.  Golly gee whiz!  After all these years I’ve learned yet something else!!!

Updated Western Digital “Advanced Format” HDD Alignment Utilities

For those of you out there running Windows XP & dealing with Western Digital’s new “Advanced Format” HDDs, I just noticed that WD has updated their Advanced Format Alignment Utilities since I last blogged about this.  The “Acronis WD Align” utility was updated to version on 4/26/10; the “Paragon WD Align” utility was updated to version 2.11615.6 on 7/21/10.

I visited the Acronis & Paragon web sites, and neither mentions anything concerning Western Digital’s “Advanced Format” HDDs.  If they haven’t updated their software, then you’ll still need WD’s Alignment Software if you use either of these programs when cloning a HDD to a WD Advanced Format Drive — even under Vista or Windows 7.

In addition, WD now offers “Acronis True Image WD Edition” software for (hopefully) a complete solution to HDD cloning; migration; backup; and recovery.  See my next blog post on this topic for more information.

UPS – Uninterruptible Power Supply — A MUST HAVE!

APC BN1250G  CyberPower CP1500AVRLCD  Eaton 5110 Series UPS  Tripp Lite SMART1500LCD UPS

If you don’t yet have one of these, I’d highly recommend one (or more).  I’ve been using them for over 12 years, and just bought my 4th & 5th units.  In the past I’ve mainly used them to guard against power surges, spikes, sags, brownouts and other power abnormalities.  But they also make great backup power supplies for DSL/Cable modems, routers, cordless phones, laptops and/or netbooks, cell phones, etc.

The first three I purchased have been used on my desktop systems, not necessarily for their “uninterrupted” power, but primarily because of their superior surge protection.  When connected to a UPS, I’ve never lost any electronic eqmt due to power surges, lightning, etc.

I purchased my two most recent UPS’s for devices other than my PCs (although they’ll make great backups for my 7 yr old UPS’s).  One is for my DSL modem/wireless router, network switches and VTech cordless phones.  The other is for recharging my laptop when the power is out.  If I had a new wide-screen HDTV & home theater setup, I’d put all of that equipment on a UPS, too.

Power outages at our house over the past 14 years have gone from monthly to just a few times a year.  Even so, it’s a royal pain in the arse when all your phones are cordless… can’t even call the power company to tell them the power is out (we don’t have cell phone coverage at our home, and I can’t imagine where I last saw one of our old “Ma Bell” hardwired phones).  Even more disruptive is being cut-off from the Internet!  With my DSL modem & wireless router attached to a UPS, I can still surf the Internet with my laptop/netbook for hours, or as long as the laptop/netbook batteries last.  (That’s why I purchased an extra UPS just for powering/recharging my laptop & netbook.)  A UPS is also great for charging your iPhone, iTouch, cell phone, mp3 player, etc., etc., etc.

What UPS to buy?  It looks like the “main” brands are APC, Tripp Lite, CyberPower & Eaton.  APC is the most expensive, but that’s what brand all five of my units are.  The only reason I bought APC is that’s what Sam’s Club sells (at a reasonable discount).  The last two APC units I bought were Model # BN1250G (1250VA/750Watt) for $145 each.  If I had it to do over again, I think I’d go with either the Eaton Powerware 5110 1500VA/900Watt or CyberPower CP1500AVRLCD (1500VA/900Watt).  Both are available on-line for about the same price (or less) than I paid for the APC 1250VA units. has one of the bigger selection of UPS’s at reasonable prices, but be sure to check out for the lowest price.  Just make sure you shop around, as prices vary as much as 100% for the same units.

What size should you get?  I’d recommend getting the largest capacity you can afford (i.e., 1500 VA / 900 Watts).  More capacity means more time on the battery per given load.  As a minimum, I’d get double your estimated load.  For example, if your PC & monitor consume 300 Watts, I’d get at least a 600 Watt unit.  As long as you purchase double the estimated load, you should get 10-15 minutes of battery time should the power go out.  Again… the higher the capacity of the UPS, the more time of usage you’ll get on the battery with your current load.  When your only load is a DSL/Cable modem and wireless router, you should get hours of use with a higher capacity unit.

With respect to connectivity, each of the above brands connect to your PC & have software that save & close any open files and safely shutdown your PC during a power outage.

Although the batteries used in a UPS are usually warranted for only 2 or 3 years, I’ve only had to replace one set and that was after 7 years of continuous use with numerous power outages.

If you don’t have a portable/standby power generator in your home inventory, an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is convenient to have on hand.  Its uses are only limited by your imagination & the power capacity of the unit.  But don’t forget — the PRIMARY purpose of a UPS is to protect your electronic equipment!  I strongly recommend that you use one with all electronic equipment that you value.

iPad vs. Disneyland…

Meant to post this a couple weeks ago — an interesting blog post at “Freedom to Tinker” comparing the iPad to Disneyland .

(Remember… this isn’t an iPad slam… just an interesting comparison… and one that I happen to think is apt)

What happens to your online accounts when you croak???

Ars Technica did a nice article yesterday on what happens to your life online when you die, dealing mainly with your social networking presence (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Blogger, Buzz, Gmail, etc.).  It was an extremely interesting article!

Well… can’t say I’ve given much thought to this, altho’ I certainly should since I’m a certified member of the Old Fart’s club.  Seeing as I’m not much into social networking, I’m more concerned about all my online banking, credit card, email & shopping (e-commerce) accounts.

One point of view a person could have is:  “Who cares?  I’m dead!”  Another point of view though, if you’re leaving behind a ‘significant other’,  is why make a difficult situation even worse?  (unless, of course, your ‘significant other’ is the reason you’re dead :-), in which case “Who Cares?” or worse applies, e.g., “Bite Me!”)

If your ‘significant other’ is a computer numbnuts & doesn’t use a PC, then I suppose the “Who Cares?” applies.  But if he or she DOES & CAN use a computer, then it “may” be convenient to leave them access to all your accounts (banking, email, e-commerce, etc., etc.).

One of the programs I mentioned previously in “My List of Favorite PC Programs & Utilities” post is the free, open source password manager called KeePass Password Safe.   Here’s just some of the info that I store in KeePass:

  1. All bank accounts (acct #’s, passwords, security questions, URLs, tele #, etc.)
  2. All credit cards (credit card #, PIN, CVC # and/or security code, username/password, tele #, etc.)
  3. All email accounts (usernames, passwords, acct settings, tele #, etc.)
  4. All e-commerce site usernames, passwords, URLs, etc.
  5. Administrator passwords for all PCs, laptops, BIOS’, Router, DSL Modem, etc.
  6. Program or file passwords (i.e., Quicken, TrueCrypt files, other password-protected files, etc.)
  7. Software license info, CD keys, registration #’s, etc.

KeePass has fields for several of the key items (username, password, URL) followed by a free flow “Notes” section where you can put whatever information you desire (including silly notes like “How could you do this to me?”)

I’ve made sure that my ‘significant other’ has the password to KeePass and knows how to use it.

So……  now…… when I croak…… can I rest peacefully?  Knowing that I’ve provided important & necessary information to my ‘significant other’?

Naaaaaaaa.  Who cares?  I’m dead already!

RE: Western Digital’s “Advanced Format” HDD Partitioning…

Finally… a new article that mentions Western Digital’s new 4KB hard drive sector (vs. previous 512 Byte sector) & it’s impact on Windows XP users that I discussed previously.

And… back to  the “lighter” side… here’s a funny article from “The Register.”  Wow… a guy that drives his ex-wive to meet her boyfriend (among other things)!  Only… in… America…  (good grief!)


UPDATE:  Ars Technica did an even more detailed article on this (“Why new hard disks might not be much fun for XP users”)

I don’t like Apple (the company) anymore…

I’ve seldom been an Apple user, but I always held both the company & Steve Jobs with utmost respect… until this past week.  I now consider Apple with the likes of every other greedy company gone awry.

Why, you might ask?

First is their filing of patent infringement lawsuits against HTC & Android phones (article 1; article 2; article 3).  Aw… gee… is Apple afraid they won’t be able to survive with some competition?

Next is the pressure Apple is applying to the music labels concerning Amazon MP3’s “Daily Deal” promotions.  Aw… gee… isn’t Apple satisfied with their previous & still current monopoly of online music?  Screw ’em!!!

No, I’m not naive.  I know many, many (TOO MANY) companies are filing patent infringement lawsuits on a daily or weekly basis.  Foolish me — I just thought Apple was ‘above’ this idiotic behavior.  I guess not.

I feel the same way about patents as I do about copyright — they should both be scrapped!  If more people would read up on the history, including a couple of the latest books — “Against Intellectual Monopoly(by Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine) and “The Gridlock Economy” (by Michael Heller) — they’d realize that all patents & copyrights do (among other things) is eliminate competition and stifle both innovation & creativity.  With the exception of possibly a couple extreme cases, patents (& copyrights) are NOT needed.  (And, oh, BTW – expanding patent law to cover software & business processes was a BIG MISTAKE!  Yet another means to stifle innovation.)

Will they ever go away or be modified?  Not unless the public gets involved.  There’s already way too many lawyers making way too much money on way too many patent & copyright disputes.  And, uh, oh yeah… who runs our government?  Lawyers, anyone???  Patent & copyright law is big business, so any modifications to this mess are going to be difficult and ugly.

Just my two cents worth…   (actually.. it’s probably only worth half-a-cent, if that much)

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) Internet Chapter Leaked…

Not sure if this is kosher, but I’m going to do it anyway.  You’ve got to check out the Techdirt Blog & read Mike Masnick’s review of the recently leaked ACTA Internet chapter.  You can find it here.