Hard drives that still have some life in them!

IMG_20150205_053129

Local Retailers

I found a local computer repair store that recycles computers and sell them to prevent land fill waste.   They had what they would call broken hard drives that are bad.   I started laughing and said they not bad, they’re just misunderstood.   So I bought three of their BAD Hard Drives to test out with Spinrite.

SpinRite is a computer software program for scanning magnetic data storage devices such as hard disks, recovering data from them and refreshing their surfaces. The first version was released in 1988. Version 6.0, still current as of September 2014, was released in 2004.[1] SpinRite is run from a bootable medium (floppy disc, optical disc, bootable external storage device such as a USB stick) on a PC-compatible computer; it uses its own operating system and ignores the one installed, whether functional or not.

The Story so far!

I seriously have loved Spinrite for several years and have used it for multitude of situations that I could talk about in detail but this one story is really interesting because the local recycle facility kept telling me these were worthless and not repairable.   They even write “BAD” on the hard drive to prevent from using these guys in good components.   I decided it was time to use my registered copy of Spinrite to have some fun with these so-called “BAD” hard drives that the retailers didn’t trust or think was salvageable.   I started with the first hard drive which was a 500 GB Barracuda got really HOT and had so many seek errors.   I knew instantly the SMART controller was not working properly and swapped it with a new one.  The system picked this up and it was running much cooler and fixing problems on this hard drive.   The second hard drive, well it was another 500 GB Barracuda and it never got hot and as you can see the hard drive only had one sector that needed to be recovered (See Photo above).   I suspect it was the Master Boot Record that was faulty and this was why it was considered bad.  The rest of the sectors were working great and without problems.   I then took the last hard drive which was 160 GB Barracuda, did that scan and found nothing really wrong with it.   I then started a level 4 on that hard drive and it still didn’t find any major problems after 68 hours of operations for that hard drive.

Ebay these guys!

I’ve had an Ebay account for several years and it was time to use it.  I am going to keep at least one for myself as a way to keep a backup of all my data.   You can view what I am selling on Ebay now and maybe you might want to buy these two hard drives.   I’ll be going to the place this week to buy even more hard drives to test with Spinrite and probably even sell on ebay!   It couldn’t hurt, you never know when you might need to swap out a hard drive anyways.

Lesson so far

I am going to enjoy going into their shop this week just to show them I’ve got their hard drives working! I can’t wait to see their faces when I tell them they are running just fine!  I can’t wait for the newest version of SpinRite so I can have fun and use it on even more drives!

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Wifi Turns on due to Straight Talk App!

Screenshot 2015-02-03 at 1.04.19 PM

The Straight Stalk!

I’ve had a love and hate relationship with Straight Talk and I remember talking about their data usage in the past!   I must say I am still using my Unlocked Life View Phone by Blu, and have much success with this little phone for the past few months.   The problem of late is that recently I’ve had the Straight Talk app installed on my phone for convenience of adding airtime without having to use their website or even calling them.

The Low-down

As Straight is a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) they make their money by not having to pay for the data while using their phone.  The problem is that they are constantly trying to make money by under handed tactics.   I understand that they are in the business to make money and that they should just consider the importance of telling users when you install an app that they will DRAIN your battery by turning on the wi-fi and keeping the app running.   Way to go Straight Talk, I would go to another MVNO that is also Unlimited if their was a good one around here.   They also say that you can’t tether your phone even when you buy the recharge cards.

If your wi-fi is turning on automatically this is the reason, it will connect to ANY available WiFi network without your permission and this could be an unsafe practice for people who use their bank apps on the phone.    I advice people to uninstall this dirty little app and pay over the web or on the phone.   Far safer than having this app installed on your device.

To uninstall the app, please visit the app on Google Play Store using your device!

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Windows 7 stops updating After Tomorrow! (End of Life: 1/13/15)

Windows 7 DVD hologram design by Long Zheng

Windows 7 DVD hologram design by Long Zheng

Microsoft Leaves another OS!

It was 7 Months ago that Windows XP was retired and there was no more updates to that system. Microsoft extended Windows XP support for the embedded system and that ends on October 12, 2021.   So you have a few years to not have to worry about the Point of Sale for a few more years also.   So the main problem with Windows 7 coming to an end next week is that you no longer have any updates or patches to the Operating System to keep it from getting infected.  I am sure there will be some zero day vulnerabilities be found on Windows 7 in the coming months or years..  Although Google’s Project Zero can be a valuable resource to find out about Windows 7 Vulnerabilities before they get used on your system.

What’s Next for me!

This is probably the most asked questions to when we have an End of Life cycle and some people just don’t want to go buy a new system or even buy a new operating system.   I expect that Windows 7 will practical for at least 2 years without much worry but that risk.   The chance increases as it End of Life get farther and farther away.   You’ve got to decide now how you want to spend your money in the next 12 months or if you’re going to hold off for at least 2 years.   You have a better chance of saving money if you plan for the time when you need to.   The problem now is that no one really plans to buy a new laptop or desktop when they do not see the signs.

Different Operating System

I’ve talked in the past about the different Distro Linux Operating systems that can be used instead of Windows 7 or even Windows XP.   If your system is still running really nicely and their isn’t any major problems, you could just switch to a more secure operating system and keep your data safe.   This is has some drawbacks like needing to learn a new Operating System or even if they have the right software or programs that you might need for your personal life or maybe for your business that you use your laptop or desktop for.   Do they have the apps or programs that you must to get your work done?

You have to plan now

So you have to plan what you going to do next and what you are going to do if you keep your system that is working so nicely.   Are you going to sell the system on Ebay and use the money to help pay for a new laptop or desktop?   Are you going to switch to Linux?  I’d like to hear your thoughts on this and what you are planning on doing?

 

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The Operating System switch! When do you switch to a new operating system?

Samsung ATIV Launch 10 by Vernon Chan

Samsung ATIV Launch 10 by Vernon Chan

So Many Operating Systems!

We have Microsoft Windows, Chrome OS, Apple Macintosh’s and Several different Linux Distros. I’m looking through my options of buying a new laptop for my business and home use.   The real problem is finding something that I can use with three different systems on one laptop.   I’ve considered maybe finding a good system that I can create use with Virtual Box or some on Virtual Machine software that way I can have access to all different OS for testing purposes and to be able to talk about my experiences.

Windows

I must say, I’ve been working with Windows since the early days with Windows 1.01 to Windows 7.  Basically, I’ve been working with Windows since MS Dos 5.0 and later, which shows that I like command line.  I’m not to impressed with the look and feel of Windows 8.0 and 8.1.  Ive heard there are hacks to make it looks like Windows Xp or even Windows 7.   The problem with this is that it is entirely the best fit for those who really understand the Windows Kernel.   Even though Microsoft is bringing back the Start Menu to Windows 10.   I’m still not entirely convinced that it is something that I’ll be able to jump back into since I’ve used Chrome OS!

Chromebooks and Chrome OS!

I’ve used this Chrome Acer c710-2856 for almost two years.  I haven’t been doing anything major with this Chromebook because I have to rely on Google to keep my files in the cloud and the problem is that I can’t even actually use any apps.   All Apps are more like extensions and links to a browser.   You have the ability to have some stuff like Calculator and other small app that doesn’t need much programming experience but I am in need to find something that can be used for my business a little better.   I still rely on my Acer Windows 7 laptop for some of the things for hacking a phone to helping a friend with problematic install of Windows.

Linux Distros

I’ve used Linux in the past and it seems to be a very stable and useable operating system.   I can even have a Virtual Machine for Windows if I so want, or even have two operating system on system.   I could very well use this for some of my business without much trouble but it requires me to jump back into the OS and work at it Full time for the first couple weeks.   I can see me getting frustrated because I have to relearn all the quick easy shell codes for Linux and even to have a good desktop for me to easily navigate with.  It isn’t an easy because it is a totally different operating system from Windows but I have played around with it in the past and simply love Ubuntu / Kubuntu operating system.   I could probably find myself exploring other distros just to have fun but I’d probably only use Kubuntu until I found another one that I like better.

Apple Macintosh’s

I will say this operating system isn’t even one that I will consider buying because of their proprietary equipment and programs.   I do not feel I can fully secure a system using their operating system and thus, I have written them off entirely.   I also just refuse to pay the Apple TAX and I’m not an apple fan boy.

Readers review

I’m asking my readers which of the three operating systems is your most favorite and which I should avoid.   You must convince me about why you believe it is the best solution or why you think that is the wrong solution.   I’m hoping to get some idea of how I should go when I finally buy a new Laptop.   You comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated.   You can message me on Facebook, Twitter, or leave a comment.

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The truth behind “See Who Looked at Your Profile” on Facebook!

uW6Mi1b

http://i.imgur.com/uW6Mi1b.jpg

What I can find out who views my profile?

When I heard about this little App in facebook, I instantly knew this was a fake app.   You really think Facebook will ever let anyone else use their strict profile viewer stats.   So I decided to check out their privacy policy, which is hosted on chitobeats[.]com.   Let’s explore this privacy policy that is dubious to say the least:.

We allow third-party companies to serve ads and/or collect certain anonymous information when you visit our web site. These companies may use non-personally identifiable information (e.g., click stream information, browser type, time and date, subject of advertisements clicked or scrolled over) during your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services likely to be of greater interest to you

Mindblowing

According to the Facebook app:

See Who Looked at Your Profile will receive the following info: your public profile and friend list.

First off they are collecting data, from your Public Profile and that is:

When you give an app access to your public profile, the app receives:

  • Your name, user id, username, profile picture, gender and network in order to identify you
  • Your age range, language and country in order to personalize the experience
  • Other info that you choose to make public.

Website:

According to Godaddy

WHOIS search results for:CHITOBEATS.COM(Registered)
Is this your
domain? GO
Add hosting, email and more.
Want to buy
this domain? GO
Get it with our Domain Buy service.
Domain Name: CHITOBEATS.COM
Registry Domain ID: 1850423885_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.godaddy.com
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Update Date: 2014-03-14T05:21:56Z
Creation Date: 2014-03-14T05:21:56Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2015-03-14T05:21:56Z
Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
Registrar IANA ID: 146
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: abuse@godaddy.com
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.480-624-2505
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientUpdateProhibited
Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientRenewProhibited
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientDeleteProhibited
Registry Registrant ID:
Registrant Name: Registration Private
Registrant Organization: Domains By Proxy, LLC
Registrant Street: DomainsByProxy.com
Registrant Street: 14747 N Northsight Blvd Suite 111, PMB 309
Registrant City: Scottsdale
Registrant State/Province: Arizona
Registrant Postal Code: 85260
Registrant Country: United States
Registrant Phone: +1.4806242599
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax: +1.4806242598
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: CHITOBEATS.COM@domainsbyproxy.com

So this domain is hidden by Domainsbyproxy.com which isn’t exactly the best approach by any company. I used to have them until I went to hover.com and havent’ went back yet.   I had nothing but bad lock with Godaddy and their services.

The Website

If you decided to visit their website directly, you end up with a way to play Subway Surfer free on their website.    Kind of seems fishy, because I even talked about Subway Surfer in the past about their android apps permissions.  Which if this site chitobeats[.]com has any affiliations to Kiloo Corporation then they are also supporting this site by allowing them to let kids play the game for free on a web browser.  I do not support this company.

Finally

This app is designed for one thing and one thing only and that is to data mining  from Facebook so they can sell your personal information to other companies and make money.   I wouldn’t be surprised if this app does nothing but that and you are just letting them get your information free and clear.  There is no such way to track who views your profile and you should just ignore any app that suggests they can do it.   Afterall, Facebook wouldn’t want to give that kind of control out to anyone.   They make money by keeping that information private, that is how they sell ads and make money from the users of Facebook.

Remember to like my Facebook Page and my Google + Page to keep up to date on any posts on my website

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My Top 5 Posts for 2014!

Blog by Thomas Hawk

Blog by Thomas Hawk

Things change!

As most of you know, every day something changes and we sometimes have to review everything that we did in the past year.  I usually do this post late December but this year, I was really busy so I had to wait till now to talk about the posts that people are looking at or look for.   It seems like it was a good time as any to talk about these posts.

In 2014:

  1. How do you boost signal strength with Straight Talk Wireless? (Views: 7,596)
  2. How to Root a ZTE AWE phone! (Virgin Mobile)  (Views: 3,942)
  3. How to get the HTC Inspire 4g AT&T to work with Straight Talk (Views 2,921)
  4. How to Tether your Kyocera Rise by Virgin Mobile (Views 1,427)
  5. Best Tips and Tricks for your ZTE AWE! (Views 954)

Overview of the Year!

As you can tell, people were looking for solutions to for their Mobile Phones and Straight Talk Wireless.   It seems people are moving from contract phones to no-contract phones.  After all, I have a great Unlocked cell Phone and am Using Straight Talk to keep me from paying any more than 45$ a month.   As you can see, I’m planning on doing even more stuff with Unlocked phones.  I even am selling a good Unlocked Phone on Ebay now : Motorola Razr M 8Gb by Verizon Wireless [Unlocked].  I did go through the process of unlocking it and it is ready to be used with Straight Talk.  All you need to do is buy a Micro Sim card and you are all set.  If you like my blog posts and would like to get updates through Facebook, please remember to “LIKE” my Paul’s Tech Talk Facebook page to receive updates on current posts.   I occasionally only post things to Facebook and not on my blog or My Twitter (username: laforge129), but you can subscribe or like both and get updates from two different social networks about my activities!

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How to Create a VPN connection on Chrome OS!

Screenshot 2014-12-27 at 11.21.07 AM

Chrome OS Settings

It isn’t extremely hard to get into your Chrome OS.   The easiest way, that I know is to go type this is your browser:  chrome://settings/.  You can also go to you if you go to the toolbar and click on wireless settings!   You should see your wireless router and some other stuff but you will also see Settings and if you click that you will also get to that menu.

First off all, you should add a Connection and sub click on Add a private connection.   You will see this:

Screenshot 2014-12-27 at 11.36.30 AM

 

Choosing a VPN!

I recommend VPN4ALL *Affiliate Link*, You will need to buy the Mobile package.   It is the only one I use when I am out and about.   It does come with a 5 gb limit but you only going to use this when your trying to prevent snoopers from getting information on free wifi hotspots.  If you want to save 15% right just use the coupon code “savenow15″. There is also a free service if you want to trust them http://www.freel2tpvpn.com/.

Finally

You will get a username and password and also a server IP.   You will need to make sure you buy a VPN Service that has the L2TP + Preshared Key compatibility or you would be less likely to be able to do it.  You can also use Openvpn but you will need to select that by selecting it from the drop down menu when you setup your VPN service.  Once you have those fields enter into the setup then all you will need to do is check  “Save Identity/Password” and hit Connect.  You will see 4 bars going across your Wifi to tell you if your are connected or not.  If you have done it right you will have a VPN service for your Chrome OS and then you are far safer than before.

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SQRL implementations on Android and it works!

Screenshot 2014-12-24 at 2.44.44 PM

SQRL App available on Android!

As I was talking about SQRL a few months back, I’ve been waiting for the time when I would be able to download the SQRL APP on Android by Ralf Wondratschek.   I’ve been playing around with it the last few days and it looks really nice!  When we started to hear about this early last year, I was really excited about the prospect of not having to have to remember another password to login into a site.   I first learned about this idea on the Security Now Podcast and then I heard Steve Gibson talk about his idea in detail.

Implementation

I must say idea of it is rock solid, now though I can’t carry out this on my WordPress blog.   I am hoping this get fixed really soon by WordPress because it seems to be problem.  The Viability of this as a plugin for WordPress seems to be the one question on some of the developers mind.   There seems to be a problem with using a PHP SQRL Library that isn’t really used commonly against most shared hosting.   I would love to have this as a way to login in the /wp-admin/ page.  Since I sometimes like to use Free Wifi hotspots, this would help prevent man in the middle attacks from happening.

Sources

  1. SQRL WordPress Plugin
  2. SQRL on Android
  3. SQRL Website
  4. WordPress Support says Maybe later

As you can see, it is getting more traction but it would be nice to have a way to easily install and use the SQRL Plugin.   I’ve tried these test websites:

As you can see a few places where you can use the Android App to play around with the idea.   Hopefully this will become a much-needed change to a password and an email address.   What do you think?  Will you want to use this for your site also?

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Sony emails hacks just show how email isn’t secure!

Computer Security by The Intel Free Press

Computer Security by The Intel Free Press

Email and You!

Since the Sony Hack that started Nov 24, 2014. We’ve seen some many different perspectives of what Sony did to the press of late.  I’ve heard  some reports that people are saying we shouldn’t be talking about the hacks or the leaks from the hack itself.   I have a different opinion on the subject.   The more we know the better we can understand how this happened and hep fix some of the problems of having a big business or even just communicating through email.   Let’s face it email is never going to be a secure.   It is like you talking in a big room with others around you to your email pal and people being able to overhear your conversation.

Email Breakdown

When yo hit Send, there is a multitude of things that happen has you email message goes to the intended email address.   The first thing that happens is whatever DNS server you use will tell you where the mail server is for that domain.   The is the first place a Man in the Middle attack could happen and you would never know.   If the DNS server is compromised then the email might be sent to another Internet Protocol than intended and thus they could just copy the email and send it on to the right IP.   No one would be none the wiser because who here checks your email headers every time you receive an email.   I surely do not, I rarely check them.  So it could be months or even years before you find out the truth.  Another way is if your Domain server is compromised and you do not know it, then it could just be a email copy and send to another email address.   Just like when NSA did a fiber optic splice and copied all data and there would be no evidence of this because you didn’t see them copy the email and send it to an unknown email address.  Then the next place that could be compromised in the MTA Server (Message Transfer Agent) which is an internal server that is controlled by the company.   I suspect this is where they got all their emails from the Sony Hack.   I can’t be certain but this is the most overlooked part of the process.   I however can’t be certain of anything.

Truth of it all!

Less face it, the non geek people will not even know how to secure their email address and clients because they do not talk geek or talk about security.  The problem is the most important.   How can I easily teach someone to encrypt their emails before it is even sent.   I recommend CryptoBrowser (VPN4ALL) (Affiliate Link).  Which is a Chrome only extension that allows you to encrypt and decrypt it.   For example:

If you don’t use Cryptobrowser, you aren’t secure!   This is how I do it, just click and chose!

Looks Like this

————— VPN4ALL CryptoBrowser Encrypted Message —————-
rQGRp10Zk1Rkf0g4iMsbkyT2VARdc1DYp2REsJ5oZcoduIZu13nL2FRM82s8
suZH5hcpDjOL6IFBGuLdJ+nuCBi9Vw2QEqnf5Nld/6vlBY8VJVLpy1SH/LMh
KU+eQ0+dVcp2hZMs2mY=
———— End of VPN4ALL CyrptoBrowser Encrypted Message ————

Even if someone overheard this email it would just be gibberish and thus they couldn’t know what was said unless they know the key.   So this is one way to protect your private conversations in email.   It however just depends on your situation.

Finally

The key that I used (paulstechtal)  to encrypt this was a simple one because this was just for demonstration.   When I need to send sensitive emails or emails that I want to keep private.   I use Cryptobrowser by VPN4ALL (Affiliate Link).   They are a sponsor of this blog and I do get a commission every time you use the link to buy a service through them.   If you want to save even more money then don’t forget to use coupon code “15offnow” and save 15 percent when buying this service or other services.   You never know when you might need a VPN Service or even to send out some sensitive emails.   Please tell the person in advance the password through some other service besides email.   Phone, SMS, or even in person would be the best possible solution for them to decode the message.   

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