Show of 7-30-2011

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Linda: Dear Tech Talk, My computer recently crashed. How do I recover my data? I mean my pictures, folders and the other items on my C: drive. I did a recovery, but I was unable to recover any files. Thanks, Linda
    • Tech Talk Responds: I assume that you don’t have a backup, which would be your best option.
    • First of all, don’t use the hard drive until your data is recovered. Even a recovery action may erase some of your files.
    • The safest approach to recovering files from a hard disk drive is to connect it as an additional drive. That might mean installing a new primary drive in your computer, or it might mean using a second computer for the data recovery process. The easiest approach is to place the hard drive into a USB enclosure and connect it as an external drive. Once your hard drive is attached as an external drive you can do the following steps.
    • Start with search. It’s possible that your files have not been erased or deleted at all. Perhaps your recovery was an install of Windows that preserved all of the files on the disk, but set up a new, empty My Documents folder. You might expect your files to be in this folder, but as it’s a new, empty one, they’re not.
    • Use the Windows Search function to search the entire hard disk for one or more files whose filename you know. If found, examine the containing folder and you may find more of your documents. Copy them to a safe location.
    • Run CHKDSK. Specifically, CHKDSK /R in a Command Prompt window (possibly run with administrative privileges in Windows Vista or Windows 7). If the file system has been corrupted by the crash, it’s possible that CHKDSK may uncover lost files. If it reports that it has fixed something, repeat the previous step of searching for your files.
    • Run SpinRite. If CHKDSK reports unrecoverable read or CRC errors, then you may want to consider running a disk surface recovery tool, such as SpinRite. After SpinRite completes (which can take hours), search for your files again.
    • Run Recuva. Recuva is a free file recovery utility that scans the currently unused free space on your hard disk for files and file fragments that used to be stored there. Any files which were deleted by the recovery process, but not overwritten by subsequent use of the hard drive should, in theory, be recoverable by Recuva.
    • Email from Seema: Dear Dr. Shurtz, What is the difference between a Mac Address and an IP Address? Are both traceable back to your computer? And can you hide them? If by hiding them is your computer safer from hackers. Thanks Seema.
    • Tech Talk Responds: Well, the last one is easy to answer: there’s no concept of free versus paid IP or MAC addresses. As you’ll see in a moment, IP addresses are assigned as part of connecting to a network, and MAC addresses are assigned at the time hardware is manufactured.
    • A MAC (or Machine Access Control) address is best thought of as a unique serial number assigned to every network interface on every device. And by unique, I do mean unique; no two network cards anywhere should have the same MAC address.
    • You can see your network interfaces MAC addresses using the command prompt in Windows XP using ipconfig /all. At typical MAC address is: 00-1D-60-2F-4B-39. Each network adapter on your computer will have one.
    • MAC addresses are typically used only to direct packets in the device-to-device portion of a network transaction. That means that your computer’s MAC address will be in network packets only until the next device in the chain. If you have a router, then your machine’s MAC address will go no further than that.
    • An IP address is assigned to every device on a network so that device can be located on the network. The internet is just a network after all, and every device connected to it has an IP address so that it can be located.
    • On a typically network, you have an internal IP address (192.168.1.1) and an external IP assigned by your ISP.
    • Email from Alberto: Dear Doc, When I go to empty my Recycle Bin, I notice there are a lot of files in there called BAK files. What are they, are they important, where do they come from and is it okay to delete them? Love the show.I have been listening since 2000 to Tech Talk. Alberto
    • Tech Talk Responds: ".BAK" files are perhaps one of the oldest file types known to computing. BAK is short for BAcKup. .BAK files come from programs that make changes to files. "In general, .BAK files are safe to delete. If you use a program to edit a document. Let’s call it TechTalk.doc. You make many edits. You click Save, or you close the program which automatically saves the document. Before saving, the editing program renames the original unmodified document file from TechTalk.doc to TechTalk.bak.
  • Profiles in IT: Mark Pincus
    • Mark Pincus is an Internet entrepreneur best known as the co-founder of Zynga, which makes online social games, including FarmVille, CityVille, FrontierVille.
    • Mark Pincus was born February 13, 1966 in Chicago, Illinois.
    • He attended Francis W. Parker School from K through 12th graduating in 1984.
    • Pincus grew up with video and outdoor games and is really into gaming in his private life as well. He would play games with his family all the time.
    • Pincus received a BS in Economics from the Wharton School in 1988.
    • Pincus spent two years as a financial analyst for Lazard Freres & Co. after graduating.
    •  He moved to Hong Kong and worked 2 years as a VP for Asian Capital Partners.
    • In 1993, he returned to the US and enrolled in the Harvard MBA program.
    • He spent a summer as an associate for Bain & Co., but was not hired full-time.
    • After Pincus received his MBA in 1994, he worked a manager of corporate development at Tele-Communications, Inc, now AT&T Cable.
    • A year later, he joined Columbia Capital as a vice president where he led investments in new media and software startups for a year in Washington, DC.
    • In 1995, Pincus launched his first startup, Freeloader, Inc., a web-based push technology service that was acquired seven months later by Individual, Inc. for $38M.
    • He then started his second company, Support.com, in August 1997.
    • He built the company into a leading provider of automation software.
    • The company went public in July 2000. In 2002, the company changed its name from Support.com to SupportSoft, Inc.
    • In 2003, Pincus and Reid Hoffman purchased a broad patent that describes a social network service that is the heart of social networks from SixDegrees for $700K.
    • In 2003, at age 37, Pincus founded his third startup, Tribe.net, one of the first social networks. Tribe was not successful, but Pincus learned about social nets.
    • In 2007, Cisco Systems acquired the core technology assets of Tribe.net.
    • Pincus cofounded his fourth company, Zynga Inc., in July 2007.
    • Zynga is named after Pincus’s late American Bulldog, Zinga.
    • Pincus bought an old potato chip factory in San Francisco to house Zynga.
    • Pincus wanted to build social network games on the Facebook platform which has just been opened up to third party developers.
    • Zynga games include CityVille, FarmVille, FrontierVille, Mafia Wars, Zynga Poker, Café World, Treasure Isle, YoVille, FishVille and PetVille.
    • In addition to making their own games, Zynga has created a network which allows third party developers to become part of the Zynga network.
    • In October 2009, Mark started Zynga.org, which has raised more than $6 million for several international nonprofits.
    • As of June 2011, Zynga’s games on Facebook have over 270 million monthly active users. Four of Zynga’s games, CityVille, FarmVille, Zynga Poker, and FrontierVille, are the most widely used game applications on Facebook.
    • Reportedly valued at $15 billion to $20 billion, Zynga filed with the SEC to raise up to $1 billion in an initial public offering on July 1, 2011.
    • He currently resides in San Francisco with his wife, Ali Pincus (founder of One Kings Lane) and his twin daughters.
  • Pakistan To Ban Internet Encryption
    • Privacy International is reporting that Pakistan is trying to ban the use of encryption, including for VPNs.
    • The ban is part of a new law which requires telcos to spy on their customers.
    • Encryption makes that tougher, so the response is just to ban it entirely.
  • AT&T to Start Data Throttling
    • AT&T has announced that starting on Oct. 1 it will throttle the data speeds of users with unlimited data plans who exceed bandwidth thresholds on its 3G network.
    • AT&T is following in the tracks Verizon and Virgin Mobile in reducing data throughput speeds of its heaviest mobile data users.
    • With more data-intensive apps being published everyday, how will AT&T’s data throttling affect users’ mobile experience?
    • AT&T says will affect the top 5% of its users.
    • AT&T did not make it clear what the data threshold would be other than that it would be the top 5% of users that are still on unlimited data plans.
    • Streaming video apps, remote web camera apps, sending large data files (like video) and some online gaming are examples of applications that can use data quickly.
    • Most users do not approach 200 MB worth of data a month, let alone 2.5 GB.
    • AT&T also encourages users to consume data over Wi-Fi whenever possible, citing its free use of AT&T hot spots to AT&T customers.
    • Throttling does not cost users any money and becomes a inconvenience only to a small subset of the populations.
    • In that way it may be the best way to address data management.
  • Facebook Pays Cash for Bug Reports
    • Facebook has joined Google and Mozilla in paying cash rewards to researchers who privately report vulnerabilities that could jeopardize security.
    • Facebook will pay $500 for the disclosure of most website flaws, such as XSS, or cross-site scripting errors.
    • The company may pay more for specific bugs.
    • To qualify, the researcher must be the first person to privately report the bug and reside in a country not under any current US sanctions.
    • The move comes as good news to legions of researchers who spend considerable time and expertise finding and reporting serious vulnerabilities in the websites and software they use.
    • More often than not, they receive little more than a public acknowledgement in return.
    • Microsoft, Oracle and virtually every other software manufacturer and website steadfastly refuse to pay for private bug reports.
    • Mozilla was among the first software makers to offer a bug bounty program when, years ago, when it began offering $500 rewards. Google eventually followed suit. The two outfits have gradually increased the rewards.
    • Mozilla is paying as much as $3,000 and Google up to $3,133.70 for serious bugs.
    • To date, Google has paid $300,000 under the program for bugs.
  • The Netflix Price Put in Perspective
    • Netflix is now charging $7.99 for both DVD delivery and streaming.
    • The user has to choose rather than getting both for the same price.
    • Loyal customers felt betrayed. Netflix could have taken a different approach.
    • Netflix’s chief executive officer, Reed Hastings, thinks his core business is doomed.
    • He sees streaming as the future and wants to make that choice.
    • As soon as four years from now, he predicts, the business that generates most of Netflix’s revenue today will begin to decline, as DVDs delivered by mail steadily lose ground to movies sent straight over the Internet.
    • Hastings, who co-founded the company, is quickly trying to shift Netflix’s business — seeking to make more videos available online and cutting deals with electronics makers so consumers can play those movies on television sets.
    • This may be the beginning of the end for DVDs.
    • It is similar to other events that forced the user to change.
    • When Apple dropped the floppy from the iMac.
  • Dumb Idea of the Week: Elite Email
    • World’s Most Exclusive E-Mail Address
    • Elite750 is an e-mail service for suckers, they charge an initial sign up fee of $7,500 for an e-mail address plus $750 a month as the ‘service fee’.
    • The e-mail service is only available to 750 people worldwide with the number of accounts limited per country.
    • Currently, no more accounts are available for Bahrain, Malaysia, Germany, Monaco, Gibraltar, Argentina, Uruguay, The Bahamas and Switzerland.
    • Web address: http://elite750.com/
  • Obama drops Twitter bombs on debt-ceiling foes
    • The US dept-ceiling legislative fight ratcheted up a notch on Friday morning when President Obama’s campaign staff launched a Twitter-bombing run on US legislators.
    • Shortly after Obama made a short statement in which he urged Americans to "make a phone call, send an email, tweet; keep the pressure on Washington," @BarackObama, an account run by the #Obama2012 campaign staff, began to tweet the Twitter handles of Republican senators and representatives, asking the account’s 9,405,391 followers to tell those targets to accept a "bipartisan compromise".
    • This Twitter attack may backfire and some view offensive.
    • Twitter is yet again influencing events, starting with the Arab Spring.
  • Obama’s data.gov CIO quits White House
    • The White House confirmed today that Vivek Kundra, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in March 2009, had handed in his notice with plans to take on a fellowship post at Harvard University in August.
    • Data.gov has been the subject of serious funding cuts in recent months. Its budget was dramatically reduced from $35m in 2010 to just $8m this year.
    • All of which has led to a campaign from the Sunlight Foundation to restore the Government Electronic Fund.
    • Open data enthusiasts over in the US have said that the cuts brought Obama’s initial transparency and technology splurge to a halt.
    • Berners Lee added at the time that he hoped the UK version – data.gov.uk – didn’t "follow suit".
    • He also argued that storing data in the public domain actually helped to push down costs, because there are fewer security concerns.
    • Kundra was the first US Chief Information Officer and he had been tasked with driving down government operations’ costs, while also making data more "open" for the country’s taxpayers.
    • According to the administration, "Two and a half years after joining the Administration, Vivek… has cracked down on wasteful IT spending, saved $3bn in taxpayer dollars; moved the government to the cloud; strengthened the cybersecurity posture of the nation while making it more open, transparent, and participatory.”
    • "His work has been replicated across the world from 16 countries that have deployed the data.gov model to tap into the ingenuity of their people to multiple countries that have deployed the IT dashboard to save money."
  • Hackers strike ManTech
    • Hackers flying the AntiSec banner released what they said was 400 megabytes of internal data from a government cybersecurity contractor, ManTech, as part of their campaign to embarrass the FBI.
    • "Today is Friday and we will be following the tradition of humiliating our friends from the FBI once again. This time we hit one of their biggest contractors for cyber security: Mantech International Corporation," the hackers said in a statement on PirateBay.
    • In Summer 2010 the FBI had the glorious idea to outsource their Cybersecurity to ManTech. Value of the contract: 100 Million US-Dollar.
    • The batch of documents mostly involves NATO, another ManTech client, along with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. military branches, and the State and Justice departments.
    • ManTech representatives did not return a call seeking comment earlier in the day when the hackers had merely threatened to release ManTech data, and its Fairfax, Va., office was closed when the data was released in the afternoon.
    • The Anonymous hacker group, part of the AntiSec alliance with the LulzSec hackers, also boasted today about releasing DHS e-mails that they had obtained legally and which were later found to be obtained on the Web.
    • Recent arrests of purported Anonymous members last week in the U.S. and Europe have not put a halt to the hacking activities.