Archive for June, 2007

How to Handle a Trojan Horse on Your PC

I was checking my web site logs last night and was pleasantly surprised to find lots of traffic coming from download.com. One of their writers, Jessica Delacourt, included a link to my bootable thumb drive virus scanner in her article “Beat back that Trojan Horse.”

Ms. Delacourt presents several ways of dealing with the damage caused by a Trojan infection. The article is excellent and I highly recommend it.

And, Ms. Delacourt, thanks for link!

Cheers!
The Geek

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Would You Free Fall From 60 Miles in Space?…for Sport?

image Wow! Talk about extreme. I can’t think of anything more extreme than falling from 60 miles up at 2500 miles per hour (unless it’s falling out of orbit from 150 miles up at close to 18,000 miles per hour). This article in Popular Science describes work being done to develop a spacesuit that would allow a person to survive such a fall.

Ostensibly, the suit’s purpose would be to allow astronauts and space travelers to bail out of a doomed ship and survive. But it could also spawn space diving as an extreme sport.

“Forget skydiving. Two entrepreneurs want to sell you space diving. You’ll feel the rush of a 60-mile free fall—and become a guinea pig for the next emergency space suit.”

Of course, there are big obstacles to overcome, like dealing with extreme heat and G-forces. From 60 miles up, your suit will have to withstand 464 degrees Fahrenheit and you’ll endure a sustained 4.4 Gs, meaning that if you weigh 150 pounds, you will weigh 660 pounds as you decelerate. From 150 miles up, your suit alone won’t withstand the 3000 degrees reentry heat–you’ll need a heat shield–and you’ll endure G-forces on the order of 8.2.

Then there’s this little problem:

The least-understood danger comes from transonic speeds—what happens when you cross the sound barrier. Are there shock waves at such speeds that can injure a person, or send him into an unstoppable spin? No one knows because no one has ever gone that fast outside a vehicle.

Do I have any volunteers?

Cheers!
The Geek

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Filed in: Science
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Will You Be Used As a Weapon Against Your Own Country?

It’s 2010, maybe sooner. A rogue nation has just declared war on your country. No one will be killed in this war, at least not directly. But people will die from starvation, disease, and in the general chaos caused by disruption in vital communications lines. The rogue nation’s primary weapon? Botnets capable of taking down huge segments of the Internet and telephone networks. [Read the full article at Ask the Geek, Too]

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Who Wants to Go Green?

Twenty-nine years ago (according to the date on my drawing), I designed a roofing system that could be retrofit to any home and which would provide up to one-half of winter heating needs on sunny days. At the same time, I designed a geothermal heating/cooling system that would provide a constant stream of air into the home at a temperature of 55 degrees year-round; cooling in summer, heating in winter. At the time, these designs coupled with homes that were three-quarters underground would have been the ultimate in *green*.

These days, with all of the focus on global warming, *going green* means much more than just having an energy-efficient home–it means doing everything you can to reduce your contribution to the greenhouse gases that are responsible.

So, I figured I’d tell you about a few things this Geek is doing to reduce his *carbon footprint*:

  • Crank-power radios and flashlights. One of my radios uses no batteries at all; one of them is recharged by cranking. Same with the flashlights.
  • I turn my PCs off when I’m not using them.
  • Most of the time, I use my laptop instead of my desktop PC; a little over 50 watts energy usage instead of 250 watts.
  • I use those spiral florescent lights instead of conventional bulbs (yes, LEDs would be better, but they’re still too expensive).
  • I recycle what I can.
  • I cook with the microwave whenever possible (less energy used to cook a meal than with my electric stove).
  • I cool only the bedroom to comfort level and keep the rest of the house bearable.

I wish I could do more, but certain job constraints prevent my limiting my gasoline usage. When I get my own house again, I’ll do much more. Stay tuned.

Cheers!
The Geek

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Does Anyone *Really* Know What a Geek Is? (Does Anyone Really Care?)

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, I had no idea of the changes it would make in my life and the lives of many of my readers who have “asked the Geek.” Not a week goes by without my receiving comments or emails like these:

Yes, yes, Kenny Hart,

It works pretty good. And computer shuts down properly as it should, now !

You ARE THE Genius !
Andrew

———

Thanks for the help, it did the trick ! ! ! !

Awesome Geek – your new name lol
Doris

I’m always glad to see these of course, but I realized that since 99% of the questions I receive are about computer problems, most people associate Geeks with computers.

But, wait! Geeks are into everything, remember?

GEEK – (1) The name given to scientifically savvy folk; (2) A person who is interested in learning and becomes deeply involved in their interests.

Doesn’t say computers are the only thing Geek, does it? You have bowling Geeks, cooking Geeks, science Geeks, almost any kind of Geek you can think of if the person is really interested in something. I realize that the perception about this blog is my fault; most of what I write about here is computer related.

I’m going to change that. After all, my own interests extend far beyond computers and so do yours.

So, be prepared to see me embark upon finding out such things as what is the best curry powder blend, evaluating micro-fiber rags, how to build a tesla coil, anything and everything if it interests me–or you.

And I hope that we all learn something in the process; that’s what it’s about, after all.

Cheers!
The Geek

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Filed in: Answers, Questions
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If You Don’t Download Foxmarks Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later.

Forgive my cliche headline, but it’s true; if you’re using Firefox on more than one computer, you have to have Foxmarks. It will keep all of your PCs’ Firefox bookmarks synchronized.

The Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer automatically synchronizes your bookmarks between two or more computers running Firefox. It also lets you access your bookmarks from any computer anytime via my.foxmarks.com. An easy-to-use wizard guides you through the quick startup process. Then Foxmarks works silently in the background to keep your bookmarks up-to-date on all your computers.

It’s very cool and it works just like they say.

Cheers!
The Geek

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Filed in: Open Source, Software
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Who Else Wants to Lose Their Computers to Lightning This Year?

Last week, my friend Allison’s home was hit by lightning taking out her satellite TV dish, her TV, microwave, stereo, and both of her computers. She never thought it would happen to her. After all, her two PCs had been running fine and never had any problems. She would turn them off if storms approached, a good practice.

But, like most people, she had all her stuff plugged into those cheap power strips you can buy anywhere. Bad idea! Most of them have no protection against power surges and the ones that do wear out after a couple of years and should be replaced.

Based on the damage, it was easy to see that the satellite dish took the direct hit and the rest of the damage was caused by a surge in the power lines, so a proper surge suppressor might have saved her PCs.

Don’t let Mother Nature and the local utilities rob you of your computers; put proper surge protection in place. American Power Conversion makes some of the best surge and battery backup equipment going. I recommend them highly.

Cheers!
The Geek

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Filed in: Answers, Computers, Tips
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How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #5

To say nothing of Microsoft Windows, there are few, if any, application software packages that are free of security vulnerabilities. The SANS Institute publishes its Top- 20 Internet Security Attack Targets on a regular basis and Secunia currently lists 14,043 pieces of software and operating systems with vulnerabilities. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that most reputable software companies, when informed of a vulnerability by security researchers, promptly issue a software patch to fix it. These are widely available to the public for free download or through update features built into the software packages. Windows allows you to turn on Automatic Updates (which you should do). Check the Help menu in other software packages for the update feature.

There’s more bad news, however. Most people don’t keep up with patches on their systems except for Windows updates. Which brings us to computer security Maxim #5:

A vital part of PC security is keeping up with software patches for ALL of the software on your system, not just the operating system. Where it is available, use the software’s automatic updates feature.

Cheers!
The Geek

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Filed in: Computers, How To, Security, Tips
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Feds Claim to have Nailed "King of Spam"

According to this ABC news story, 27-year-old Robert Alan Soloway arrested in Seattle yesterday. They claim he’s one of the world’s biggest spammers, sending out millions of spam e-mails using computers he has hijacked and turned into “zombies” — computers that have been taken over by a hacker without the knowledge of the owners.

Will this really mean less spam in your inbox? Maybe, but don’t hold your breath. It may slow down for a little while (I’ve noticed a decrease today), but someone else will fill the hole. Guaranteed. All the laws and arrests in the world won’t deter criminals from chasing easy money. If only one e-mail out of 10,000 results in a sale, the spammer is probably making tons of money. If he sends out 10 million emails, he can expect 1000 sales.

The only solution to the spam problem is to take the profit out of it. The only way that’s going to happen is if people stop buying the stuff the crooks are pushing. That’s not likely.

Cheers!
The Geek

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Filed in: Computers, Email, Spam
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