Show of 07-31-2021

Tech Talk July 31, 2021

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Seema in Fredericksburg: 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 is no concept of free versus paid IP or MAC addresses. As you will 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 Linda in Myrtle Beach: 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 in Mytle Beach, SC
  • Tech Talk Responds: I assume that you do not 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 is 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 is 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.
  • Finally, always keep a backup
  • Email from Bob in Maryland: Dear Doc, Jim, and the moody Mr. Big Voice. Apparently part of the US government has created this new website: Stop Ransomware. What is your opinion of this, Doc? All the best, your faithful listener, Bob in Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: I check out the site (https://www.cisa.gov/stopransomware). They have placed all the government ransomware resources in one location. It is an excellent resource. I particularly like the section on best practices. Use the checklist to protect yourself against an attack.
  • Email from Peter in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I have an older Lenovo ThinkPad T520 laptop that I’d like to hook up to a spare 40 inch flat panel TV that I’m not using so I can watch Netflix on a larger screen. The problem is the ThinkPad T520 doesn’t have an HDMI port and the TV doesn’t have a VGA connector. Is there any way to add an HDMI port to this laptop so I can connect my TV to it? Peter in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: Kevin, there are a couple of ways to add an HDMI port to your laptop, but you really don’t need to. Your ThinkPad T520 is equipped with a DisplayPort connector that provides video signals that are 100% compatible with HDMI. That means all you need is an inexpensive DisplayPort to HDMI adapter cable. You can get one of these cables from Amazon for as little as $10. You might also be able to pick one up at your local electronics retailer if they have one in stock. Either way, once you get the cable just plug the DisplayPort connector into your laptop and the HDMI connector into the TV and you will be in business! By the way, your DisplayPort to HDMI adapter cable will transmit audio to the TV as well so you won’t have to run a separate cable just for the audio.
  • Email from Brad in Colorado Springs: Dear Tech Talk. When I bought my first computer I was told to always use a really good mouse. I was also told that I needed to stay away from cheap ones because they do not last very long and you end up spending more money in the long run. I have bought 3 mice in the last 5 years and none of them lasted very long at all. The last one I bought cost me over $70 and it only lasted about a year! Can you recommend a good mouse that costs less than $30? Brad in Colorado Springs
  • Tech Talk Responds: I too used to recommend that folks buy a more expensive mouse in order to save money in the end.
  • However, the difference in quality between expensive mice and cheaper models has shrunk quite a bit in recent years. Therefore, that advice is no longer true.
  • I have been using the Logitech M510 Wireless Mouse on all of my computers for some time now, and I could not be happier with it. This mouse works perfectly on all of my computers. It has great reviews on Amazon.
  • The Logitech M510 is around $25 on Amazon. It is the best mouse I have ever used.
  • Tech Talk from Al in Georgia: Dear Doc, I have an old IP phone at home. It does not have a Keep NAT Alive option. It seems like my router’s NAT blocks ports. Phone rings or calls but no voice either way, just air. Then I need to restart the phone to punch another hole in the NAT for a while. I was wondering if putting my phone in the routers DMZ can eliminate this problem and keep all the ports open for it forever. I know that you may have security issues but as much it is only about a phone and not my whole home network, I don’t care. Love the show, Al
  • Tech Talk Responds: You have come up with a good solution. DMZ is an acronym for, “Demilitarized Zone.” So, normally what happens on a NAT router is any unrequested, or unexpected, outside connection is blocked by the router. So if a server tries to connect to a computer in your home, and there’s a NAT router in the way, it can’t get through. The DMZ is essentially an exception to that rule. What the DMZ is… is the router allows you to specify an IP address of a computer on your local network. You can assign a device a static internal IP address (like 192.168.0.128). You then configure the router to send all incoming connections to this IP address without an port filtering. Thus rather than blocking it, it sends it to the DMZ. I like this solution.

 

 

Profiles in IT: Gary Arlen Kildall

  • Gary Kildall founded Digital Research, Inc and created the CP/M operating system, which was almost selected for the IBM PC.
  • Gary Arlen Kildall was born May 19, 1942 in Seattle, Washington.
  • Kildall later attended the University of Washington (UW), hoping to become a mathematics teacher. During his studies, Kildall became increasingly interested in computer technology.
  • Gary received his BS in mathematics from University of Washington in 1962.
  • He then taught at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA to satisfy his draft obligation.
  • Being within an hour’s drive of Silicon Valley, Kildall heard about the first commercially available microprocessor, the Intel 4004.
  • He bought one of the processors and began writing experimental programs for it.
  • To learn more about the processors, he worked at Intel as a consultant on his days off.
  • Kildall finished his doctorate UW in computer science in 1972.
  • He published a paper that introduced the theory of data-flow analysis used today in optimizing compilers (sometimes known as Kildall’s method).
  • He continued to experiment with microcomputers and floppy disks.
  • Intel lent him systems using the 8008 and 8080 processors. In 1973, he developed the first high-level programming language for microprocessors, called PL/M.
  • He created CP/M (Control Program for Microcomputers) the same year to enable the 8080 to control a floppy drive, combining for the first time all the essential components of a computer at the microcomputer scale.
  • He demonstrated CP/M to Intel, but Intel chose to market PL/M instead.
  • Kildall and his wife Dorothy established a company, originally called Intergalactic Digital Research (renamed Digital Research, Inc.), to market CP/M to hobbyists.
  • Kildall pioneered the concept of a BIOS, a set of programs stored in the computer hardware that enabled CP/M to run on different systems without modification.
  • By 1981, at the peak of its popularity, CP/M ran on 3000 different computer models and DRI had $5.4 million in yearly revenues.
  • IBM approached Digital Research in 1980, at Bill Gates’ suggestion, to license a forthcoming version of CP/M called CP/M-86 for the IBM PC.
  • Gary left licensing negotiations to Dorothy while he went to deliver software.
  • Before the IBM representatives could explain the purpose of their visit, they insisted that DRI accept a standard non-disclosure agreement. Dorothy refused to sign.
  • Gary returned in the afternoon and signed the agreement.
  • IBM lead negotiator Jack Sams related the story to Gates, who had already agreed to provide a BASIC interpreter and several other programs for the PC.
  • Sams left Gates with the task of finding a usable operating system, and a few weeks later he proposed using the CP/M clone 86-DOS from Seattle Computer Products.
  • Paul Allen negotiated a licensing deal with SCP and had 86-DOS adapted for IBM’s hardware. It shipped as PC-DOS.
  • Kildall concluded that PC-DOS infringed on CP/M patents, but did not sue.
  • PC-DOS was priced at $40 and CP/M-86 shipped for $240 a few months later.
  • With the loss of the IBM deal, Gary and Dorothy found themselves under pressure to bring in more experienced management.
  • He worked in various research projects, such as a version of CP/M with multitasking (MP/M) and an implementation of the Logo programming language.
  • He hoped that Logo, an educational dialect of LISP, would supplant BASIC in education, but it did not.
  • After seeing a demonstration of the Apple Lisa, Kildall oversaw the creation of DRI’s own graphical user interface, called GEM. Novell acquired DRI in 1991 in a deal that netted millions for Kildall.
  • In 1983 he started hosting a public television program on the side, called Computer Chronicles that followed trends in personal computing.
  • In his memoir, he called DOS plain and simple theft because its first 26 system calls worked the same as CP/M’s.
  • On July 8, 1994, Kildall fell at a Monterey, CA restaurant and died a few days later.
  • In March 1995, Kildall was posthumously honored by the Software and Information Industry Association for his contributions to the microcomputer industry.

Observations from the Bunker

  • Protecting The Intellectual Property Rights for your Software
  • Intellectual property is an asset your company owns that gives it differentiation and a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  • While some businesses recognize the importance of their intellectual property, many businesses neglect both protecting and improving their intellectual property.
  • After all, intellectual property is an intangible asset, therefore, it is hard to place an actual value on its worth.
  • When it comes to your intellectual property you want to ensure that it is protected so that no one can steal what you have spent years to develop.
  • To keep the intellectual property of your software protected, use the four following tactics:
  • File a Copyright
    • A copyright is the protection of an idea or other information that has been developed by the copyright holder. Copyright laws protect the authorship of music, novels, movies, songs, architecture, and software. Although copyright protection is granted when your work is first created and given a tangible form, you still will need to give it the proper protection and register it—registered copyright.
    • Registering your intellectual information with the U.S. Copyright Office provides it with the proper protection that gets recognized in court.
    • When you register your copyright it is noted for public record which gives notice that you have claimed legal copyright protection for your intellectual information.
    • Another benefit of a copyright is that it provides you with the ability to sue anyone who infringes upon your copyright. Therefore, a copyright is needed if you want to pursue legal action against those who use your intellectual information for their own gain without your permission.
  • File for a Patent
    • A patent grants property rights to the inventor of a new invention. If your software has a distinct feature that separates it from your competition, you will need a patent to protect your competitive advantage.
    • Right Exclusivity – The exclusive rights of a patent grant only you complete ownership and use of your software for twenty years from the date of the filed patent application.
    • Establishing market positioning – Since your competitors cannot use your patented software, you reduce the threat of competition, providing you with an advantage in the marketplace
    • Increased returns on investments – Having exclusive rights allows you the possibility to generate higher revenue since your competition cannot provide the same value only you have the ability to produce.
    • Opportunity to license or sell the invention – You don’t have to do the hard work of marketing and selling your software if you sell it or license it to another company that will do all the work for you (provided you share some of the generated revenue).
  • Beware of Source Code Licenses
    • If you use a source code license, you are giving a licensee a non-exclusive and non-transferable license to your software; permission to use and modify your licensed software. This is a risky move to take because you are possibly allowing your source code outside of your organization. This arguably weakens your company’s trade secrets as the source code is no longer being kept completely secret.
    • To eliminate these issues use a source code escrow to ensure the rights of your software are protected. A source code escrow protects all parties of a software license by having a 3rd party escrow agent hold the software’s essential information. This helps keep the source code safe while still providing the protection a licensee needs.
  • Have Developers Sign an IP Assignment Agreement
    • The developers who are developing your intellectual property need to sign an IP assignment agreement stating that all work developed within the company belongs to the company.
    • This helps to dissuade an individual from selling your intellectual information to a competitor or using it to profit from their own use. If one of your developers does take either course of action you can use this document to take swift, legal action.

Tip of the Week: Getting the Most Recent Results from Google Search

  • Have you ever done a Google search on a topic only to discover that most of the search results consisted of pages that were created years ago?
  • That isn’t always a problem when searching for “facts” because many facts just don’t change over time.
  • For example, if you type largest planet in our solar system into Google, the answer you receive should be Jupiter whether the article you click on was written in 1998 or 2021. After all, Jupiter hasn’t gotten smaller and the other planets haven’t grown any larger.
  • On the other hand, if you search for latest medical research some of the pages returned by Google could possibly be woefully out of date.
  • Luckily, there is an easy way to ensure that your Google search results are at least fairly recent.
  • Simply adding the current year to your search query will usually ensure that most of the pages listed in the search results will be a few months old at the most.
  • For example, instead of searching for latest medical research, search for latest medical research 2021 instead.
  • Most of the articles returned in the search results for that query will likely be from either 2021 or another very recent year, and almost all of the top results should be.

How Anonymous Is Bitcoin?

  • Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin especially, has a reputation for being a completely anonymous form of payment, free from tracking and interference.
  • However, if you look a little closer, you’ll see that these digital currencies reveal a lot more information about you than you might think.
  • The main issue with Bitcoin is with its wallet, where your Bitcoin is stored.
  • Cryptocurrency wallets are generally pseudonymous rather than anonymous. Anonymity is about being “nameless”—it comes from the Greek word for “without name”—but instead, your wallet gives you a fake name, a pseudonym.
  • Instead of “Mark Twain,” you get some scrambled numbers and letters, but the idea is the same.
  • Bitcoin works on a blockchain, which for our purposes is a list of when Bitcoin came into being, where it was used, and by whom.
  • This list, also called a ledger, is public. Anybody can see which wallet spent which Bitcoin where. Although the person who spent the money is hidden behind a bunch of scrambled numbers and letters, their activity isn’t.
  • For example, with the knowledge that your buddy John spent money on a specific service—a VPN, let’s say—on a certain day, you could go to the ledger and see which Bitcoin address spent money on that VPN then. Even if that search spits out more than one or two addresses, you can check where else money was spent. If one of the addresses that you found made a Wikipedia donation like John regularly does, you have a second data point.
  • Spending is one thing, but buying Bitcoin is not anonymous, either. Exchanges, where you exchange your government-backed currency for cryptocurrency, all require some kind of proof of identity, be it a passport, a driver’s license, or a government-issued ID. Just like regular banks, to operate, exchanges need to implement know-your-customer (KYC) protocols.
  • This means asking you for your ID (like here, on the site for popular exchange Coinbase) and maybe even for proof of income and the like. Like with banks, they do this because they have to. Governments around the world are cracking down on money laundering, no matter the method. There are ways to get around such safeguards.
    • Getting an intermediary who (for a fee) will buy the Bitcoin for you.
    • Simply mine for it yourself, but that might not be profitable, depending on the price of electricity in your country:
    • Buy Bitcoin with cash using a Bitcoin ATM: