Show of 12-14-2013

Tech Talk

December 14, 2013

Email and Forum Questions

  • Facebook message from Ken Hutchinson: Hi. This is intended to be helpful, not critical. You pronounce “malware” as if it had two Ls, like mall, hall, wall, etc., instead of one, as in pal, hal, gal, balcony, California, falcon, galvanometer, etc. I have heard you pronounce it that way for a long time, but the reason I decided to write in today is that you mentioned malwaretips.com but pronounced it as if it were spelled mallwaretips.com, and that could confuse people. I didn’t send this by email because I don’t want it to be read on the air. Your show is very informative, and I take notes while I listen. Thanks, Ken Hutchinson.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks Ken. You are right. I stand corrected. Thanks for the feedback and for listening.
  • Email from Arnie McKechnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz, This would be an interesting discussion topic on Tech Talk – selling the means to spread malware?? Criminals are discussing ways to produce a ransomware creation kit in order to further the spread of blackmailing malware. Crooks ‘seek ransomware making kit What next. Arnie McKechnie, Davidsonville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: That is a very good summary of the problem. Cyber-thieves are seeking to mass-produce new forms of ransomware, according to Sophos AV. Sophos has referenced discussions on underground forums about ways to produce a “kit” that criminals could use to craft their own variants. Scammers try to extort cash by using ransomware to encrypt data, preventing access, or falsely accusing people of possessing illegal material. This has been stimulated by the success of Cryptolocker, which Tech Talk discusses last week. There are variants that attack Android devices and Macs. Ransomware was on the way to becoming the “market leader” in malicious code.
  • Cybercrime kits have fuelled the huge rise in the number of malicious programs circulating online and have helped many people get involved in hi-tech crime for the first time. The kits remove the need for any technical skill and some offer technical support numbers for those that need advice on how to craft their own malicious programs. Thanks to these kits Sophos and other security firms saw about 250,000 novel variants of malware every day.
  • Email from Alex in Chantilly: Dear Tech Talk, I have a PC, which I’ve upgraded about as much as I can, and I’m just looking to get a new one. My current PC has two hard drives: operating system drive and a secondary storage drive of 256 GB. Would it be possible to transfer the data from both hard drives on to a one terabyte drive installed into the new machine? Thank, Alex, Chantilly, VA.
  • Tech Talk Responds: As long as the new hard drive has enough room for everything, you can absolutely transfer data from both hard drives onto it. Just to clarify, we are  not talking about moving the operating system or any installed programs. We are only talking about consolidating data (pictures, documents, etc.).
  • There are two approaches to organizing the data on your new drive. You can actually partition that new hard drive, (the terabyte drive in your example), into two parts, so it would mimic the two drive setup you have now. Or you leave it as a single, large, partition. You could place the data from the drive you now use for storage into a folder on the new drive and then organize your files. I usually use a single partition.
  • The simplest way is to have both computers connected to your router at the same time, so that they’re on what’s called a “small local area network”. Having both machines connected to the local network allows me to use Windows file sharing to connect from one machine to the other; so that I can just copy everything that I want from that old machine to the new. A second way would be to use an external hard drive and copy the files to the hard drive. Connect an external hard drive to the old machine. Copy the data you want to move to the external drive. Dismount the drive. Plug it into the new computer, and then copy the data off the external drive on to the new PC. You could even put the old hard drive into an external drive device and use it directly. That is what I recently did when I transferred files from on laptop to another. Finally you could use a backup image and restore the files of interest to the new computer. This is what I did recently when I got a new laptop and restored the files from Carbonite.
  • Email from Steve in Reston: Dear Tech Talk. When I set up my machine I did set a password for the Administrator account, and then I forgot it, since I never use that account. Now I need it. What can I do? Steve in Reston.
  • Tech Talk Responds: First, download and burn to CD the Offline NT Password and Registry Editor. This is actually a highly customized version of Linux, that’s designed to do exactly what the name implies: allow you to examine and edit the password information and registry of a Windows machine.
  • Boot from that CD you just burned. You’ll see Offline NT Password and Registry Editor initial screen. First select the partition you want to work with, probably 1. After selecting the disk we want to use, the utility now asks us for the location of the registry. The utility will guess the location Windows/system32/config, so just hit enter. Next it asks more specifically what it is we want to operate on. In this case the default answer Password reset, which indicates which portions of the system are to be worked on. Just hit enter. It will then ask, which account and you will select Administrator. You can then clear the password. When you reboot the machine, without the CD, you can set the password using the User tools. Use the “Quit” options and further prompts to save data to disk, exit the utility and reboot back into
  • Email from Arnie McKechnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz, Did you know what on this day in history, December 9, 1888. Statistician Herman Hollerith installs his computing device at the United States War Department. Interesting info on Wikipedia about this man. Pre-IBM. Arnie McKechnie, Davidsonville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: This would make a great Profile in IT topic. Thanks for the suggestion. That first calculator used punch cards to perform the tabulation.

Profiles in IT: Stephen D. Crocker

  • Stephen D. Crocker is creator of Request for Comments and authored RFC-1.
  • Stephen D. Crocker was born October 15, 1944 in Pasadena, California.
  • He went to high school with John Postel and Vint Cerf, both Internet pioneers, who continued to work together on a global network.
  • He received his BS in 1968 and PhD in 1977 from the UCLA.
  • As a grad student, he was there the day the Internet was born on October 29, 196.
  • Crocker was among a small group of UCLA researchers who sent the first message between the first two nodes of the ARPAnet.
  • The first network connected UCLA, UCSB, SRI, and University of Utah.
  • Because he network was the not the main project for most of the principle investigators, they assigned with task to junior staff members or to graduate students.
  • Those who created the first rules were not in a position to mandate a standard. They could only suggest and they did not want to offend some lofty professor.
  • He organized the Network Working Group, which was the forerunner of the modern Internet Engineering Task Force and initiated the Request for Comment (RFC) series.
  • Crocker was staying with some friends in the Pacific Palisades area and he couldn’t sleep. The only place he could work without waking people up was in the bathroom.
  • It was 3 AM when he scribbled down some rules for these communications. He said that they were completely informal, that they didn’t count as publications.
  • You could ask questions without answers. You just had to put your name and the date and a title on these things, and he would assign them a number.
  • There wasn’t any editorial control. And then to emphasize the informal nature, he called them Request for Comments.
  • RFCs described how the ARPAnet should work and were essential to its evolution.
  • The first RFC was titled, Host Software, and dated, April 7, 1969. It was the first Network Working Group Request for Comments. It was 11 pages long.
  • Crocker is chair of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, which operates the Internet’s DNS.
  • Crocker has been a program manager at DARPA, a senior researcher at USC’s Information Sciences Institute, founder and director of the Computer Science Laboratory at The Aerospace Corporation and VP at Trusted Information Systems.
  •  In 1994, Crocker was one of the founders and CTO CyberCash, Inc.
  • In 1998, he founded and ran Executive DSL, a DSL-based ISP.
  • In 1999 he cofounded and was CEO of Longitude Systems.
  • He is currently CEO of Shinkuro, a research and development company.
  • In 2002, Crocker was awarded the IEEE Internet Award.
  • In 2012, Crocker was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame by the Internet Society.
  • His personal website: http://www.alpha.geek.nz/

RFC: 968, ‘Twas the Night Before Start-up’

  • Vincent Cerf, December 1985
  • STATUS OF THIS MEMO
    • This memo discusses problems that arise and debugging techniques used in bringing a new network into operation.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
  • DISCUSSION
    • Twas the night before start-up and all through the net,
    • not a packet was moving; no bit nor octet.
    • The engineers rattled their cards in despair,
    • hoping a bad chip would blow with a flare.
    • The salesmen were nestled all snug in their beds,
    • while visions of data nets danced in their heads.
    • And I with my datascope tracings and dumps
    • prepared for some pretty bad bruises and lumps.
    • When out in the hall there arose such a clatter,
    • I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.
    • There stood at the threshold with PC in tow,
    • An ARPANET hacker, all ready to go.
    • I could see from the creases that covered his brow,
    • he’d conquer the crisis confronting him now.
    • More rapid than eagles, he checked each alarm
    • and scrutinized each for its potential harm.
    • On LAPB, on OSI, X.25!
    • TCP, SNA, V.35!
    • His eyes were afire with the strength of his gaze;
    • no bug could hide long; not for hours or days.
    • A wink of his eye and a twitch of his head,
    • soon gave me to know I had little to dread.
    • He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
    • fixing a net that had gone plumb berserk;
    • And laying a finger on one suspect line,
    • he entered a patch and the net came up fine!
    • The packets flowed neatly and protocols matched;
    • the hosts interfaced and shift-registers latched.
    • He tested the system from Gateway to PAD;
    • not one bit was dropped; no checksum was bad.
    • At last he was finished and wearily sighed.
    • and turned to explain why the system had died.
    • I twisted my fingers and counted to ten;
    • an off-by-one index had done it again…

Tech Gifts that Teach

  • LittleBits: Tiny circuit boards that snap together with magnets: make an alarm clock, a hopping bunny, or a light-up whale-shaped tissue box that wags its tail. Or, obviously, anything you can think of.  The base kit is $99. The deluxe kit is $199. Web address: http://littlebits.cc
  • SnapCircuits: They have a variety of kits, from the basics to the remote control rover. They’re not toys that see constant use, but they come out again and again, and children have consistently been able to get their circuits working. Kits range from $35 to $135. Web address: http://www.snapcircuits.net
  • Lego Mindstorms: Mindstorms takes Lego to a different level. Kids get a programmable heart and robot instructions, and — with enough time, determination and (fun) effort — the ability to create something that does everything from shooting  Lego missiles to spying on your brother. Mindstorms is the program used in the FIRST Lego League. Kits range from $300 to $460. Well worth the price. Web address: http:// mindstorms.lego.com/?
  • Kodu: Kodu, a visual programming language that allows kids to create their own video games on the Xbox or a PC. If you’ve got one, add the book “Kodu for Kids: The Official Guide to Creating Your Own Video Games” to your list. It’s an inexpensive way (about $5 on the Xbox Indie Games channel) to transform that Xbox into an entirely different tool.
  • Bigshot Camera Kit: No doubt your child knows how to use a digital camera. But does he know how it works? He could build one with the Bigshot kit, and learn how the image sensor measures the light to convert it to a digital image. Kit cost $89. http://www.bigshotcamera.com/
  • Arduino Robot Arduino is an open-source physical computing platform that allows users to write software that controls a physical board. The Arduino robot has two fully programmable Arduino boards, one for its motors, one for sensors and operations, that can communicate via USB with a computer. That’s the gift of Arduino (and its kin, Raspberry Pi) — the chance to figure it out. Starter kit: $100, robot kit $200. Website: http://store.arduino.cc/

Quadcopter Gift Guide 2013

  • Note – these quadcopters can be less or more expensive depending on vendor and options. Quads best for beginners are marked with an *
  • Under $100
    • *Blade Nano QX – Micro Quad with great features. Amazon.
    • *Hubsan X4 H107L – updated version of the most popular micro. Amazon.
    • *WL Toys v212/222 – Mini quadcopters with 6-axis stability – 222 is with camera, 212 without
    • WL Toys v262 – Larger version of a 212 series with decent payload capacity
  • Under $200
    • Eye One Extreme – Brushless high quality quadcopter
  • Around $400
    • Parrot A.R.Drone with new GPS add-on and flight recorder
  • Under $500
    • DJI Phantom (original model) has been on sale for under $500.
    • Blade 350 QX – Advanced Quadcopter with GPS, Altimeter and more.
  • Under $5-600 (price varies with different transmitters, features.
    • Walkera QR X350 GPS – Full size Quadcopter with GPS and other advanced features – large payload.
  • Under $900
    • 3DR Iris – Advanced programmable expandable quadcopter from 3D Robotics
  • About $1200
    • The new Phantom Vision is a complete solution in a ready to fly Quadcopter – includes a high quality still and video camera, FPV, telemetry and much more. If you want to “buy, fly and photog/video”, you can’t beat this machine.

Pinterest inspires holiday gift guides

  • Pinterest has released the Holiday Giving Guide and the Holiday Gifts Feed.
  • In the Giving Guide, users can find more than 100 boards filled with ideas for those hard-to-shop-for-people.
  • For instance, on the “Mancave dweller” board, people can find a bar tool set, baseball chair, and foosball coffee table.
  • On the “Roller derby girls” board, people can find roller skate earrings, custom painted helmets, and books about the sport.

Laptop Guide for Christmas

  • Low Cost Laptops
    • HP Chromebook 11. Key specs: 11.6-inch (1,366 x 768) IPS display, Samsung Exynos 5 Dual processor, two USB 2.0 ports, micro-USB for charging and SlimPort video out, VGA webcam. Price: $279 from Google Play
    • Acer Aspire V5 (11.6-inch). Key specs: 11.6-inch (1,366 x 768) display, 1GHz quad-core AMD A6 processor, 4GB of RAM, Radeon HD 8250 integrated graphics, 500GB hard drive. Price: $400 on Amazon
    • Sony VAIO Fit 14E. Key specs: 14-inch (1,600 x 900) display, up to a dual-core 2GHz Core i7-3537U CPU, 4GB to 8GB of RAM, up to a 1TB hard drive with an 8GB SSD, up to a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M GPU. Price: $550 and up from Sony
    • Dell Inspiron 15R. Key specs: 15.6-inch (1,366 x 768) display, up to a dual-core 1.8GHz Core i7-4500U CPU, 6GB to 16GB of RAM, up to a 1TB hard drive, Intel HD graphics 4400. Price: $600 and up from Dell and other retailers
    • Acer M5-583-6428. Key specs: 15.6-inch (1,366 x 768) display, dual-core 1.6GHz Core i5-4200 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, Intel HD 4400 graphics. Price: $615 from Best Buy
  • Mid-range laptops
    • Lenovo IdeaPad U430. Key specs: 14-inch (1,366 x 768) display, up to a dual-core 2.4GHz Core i5-4258U CPU, up to 8GB of RAM, up to a 1TB hard drive with a 16GB SSD, up to a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M GPU. Price: $799 from Lenovo,
    • Sony VAIO Fit 14.Key specs: 14-inch (1,600 x 900) display, up to a dual-core 2GHz Core i7-3537U CPU, 8GB or 12GB of RAM, up to a 512GB SSD, up to a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M GPU. Price: $800 and up from Sony
    • 13-inch Apple MacBook Air. Key specs: 13.3-inch (1,440 x 900) display, up to a dual-core 1.7GHz Core i7 CPU, up to 8GB of RAM, up to a 512GB SSD, Intel HD Graphics 5000. Price: $1,099 and up from Apple
  • Top of the line laptops
    • Sony VAIO Pro 13. Key specs: 13.3-inch (1,920 x 1,080) display, up to a dual-core 1.8GHz Core i7-4500U CPU, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, up to a 512GB SSD, Intel HD 4400 graphics. Price: $1,150 and up from Sony
    • MacBook Pro with Retina display (late 2013).  Key specs: 13-inch: 13.3-inch (2,560 x 1,600) display, up to a 2.8GHz dual-core Core i7 processor, 4GB to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of internal storage, Intel Iris graphics; 15-inch: 15.4-inch (2,880 x 1,800) display, up to a 2.6GHz quad-core Core i7 CPU, 8GB to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of internal storage, Intel Iris Pro graphics or a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU. Price: $1,299 and up from Apple
    • Acer Aspire S7-392. Key specs: 13.3-inch (1,920 x 1,080) IPS display, up to a Intel Core i7-4500U CPU, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, up to a 256GB SSD. Price: From $1,300 on Amazon
    • Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus. Key specs: 13.3-inch (3,200 x 1,800) display, up to a dual-core 1.8GHz Core i7-4500U CPU, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, up to a 256GB SSD, Intel HD 4400 graphics. Price: $1,400 and up from Samsung

Hour of Code Campaign Sponsored by Code.org

  • Code.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting computer science education.
  • It unveiled a new campaign it calls “Hour of Code” targeting 10 million high school students in the United States.
  • From December 9-15, 2013, Code.org is asking schools, teachers, and parents for their help in motivating students to look into what lies ahead with computer programming.
  • What is an “Hour of Code”? It’s challenging educators to teach their students one-hour lessons designed to “demystify ‘code’” and show that anyone can do it.
  • The campaign is joined by companies and industry professionals like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman, and Twitter chairman and Square CEO Jack Dorsey.
  • Using its own platform, Code.org will provide online tutorials, which students can complete across any platform.
  • But it’s not just an educational activity that you can pick up anytime — it’s also a competition.
  • Code.org is awarding prizes to classrooms that participate, including 10GB of free storage from Dropbox for the first 100,000 educators that “host an Hour of Code for their classroom or club”.
  • Additionally, 50 schools who participate will win a full class-set of computers with one winner in each state.
  • Students that take follow-up courses online could also win other prizes like Skype credits or iTunes gift cards.
  • Code.org’s campaign will help develop crisp engineering problem-solving while helping you understand the modern world around you.
  • This certainly isn’t the first time that an organization or company has undertaken the task at promoting computer science. Codecademy launched its Code Year initiative back in 2012 geared towards “making programming mainstream”.
  • Services like Udacity, Udemy, Coursera, and Khan Academy also all offer computer programming tutorials.
  • Code.org is going directly after students in their learning environments and not as an extra-curricular activity.
  • The “Hour of Code” campaign coincides with Computer Science Week, an annual event marking the birthday of computer pioneer Admiral Grace Hopper.
  • It’s open to any K-12 student in the United States.