All the stuff you didn't know (Part 2)

5/5/2012 9:13:35 AM

ICDNT - Saving Everything

Do you have any recommendation as to a new hard drive? I am running 32-bit Windows 7, which I know carries limitations, but basically as I am using the drives to share movies to the TVs around the house, I am wondering if one of these server solutions are better, such as the GoFlex from Seagate, or would I just be better sticking more drives in the box? Also, would these server boxes have the limitation, which I believe is 3GB although I could be wrong. I know backing up is going to become pretty much impossible as the terabytes mount, but I am muddling along for now.

Under Win7 32-bit, you can only boot from partitions that use the NTFS Master Boot Record system. This has a maximum size of 2TB. But you can format other drives, including external ones using the GPT system that allows partitions up to 9.4 zettabytes. One zettabyte is a billion terabytes, which is more than the storage capacity of the entire internet.

If most of your data is just movies ripped from DVDs or Blu-rays, there is no need to back them up - you already have them backed up to disc. If they are digital-only copies bought through iTunes or recorded from broadcast TV then I suppose you could burn each one to its own disc, but there are bound to be lots of DRM bear traps waiting to snap round your carefree ankle. I know I bang on a lot about backing up. That's because none of you ever listen. I don't know anyone else who actually backs up their hard disk properly. Lots of you think you do, but unless you have a incremental backup and a separate, bootable, disk image in a 'go' bag next to your bed, ready to grab in the middle of the night when the house is on fire; you don't. But even I would never bother backing up commercial movies. They take up lots of disk space and are easily replaced at about £10 each. A terabyte is about 250 films. Anyone who accumulates that many films is far too busy watching new films to have time to rewatch the old ones.

Description: I Wake on LAN can be a useful feature, but don’t waste energy trying to exploit it

I Wake on LAN can be a useful feature, but don’t waste energy trying to exploit it


ICDNT - The Plan from Uncle

I need your advice, Uncle Luis. I want to learn more about the basics of computers; hardware and software, then eventually moving on to networking. People confuse me with the whole compTIA and Cisco debate. CompTIA offering the A+ and the N+, Cisco offering IT Essentials which is the same syllabus as the A+ and the various levels for networking. What is your suggestion?

I'm much more of an autodidact. I do have a degree in 'computing with real-time computing' and I learned a few interesting things when I was doing that, but I learned a lot more fixing and programming actual PCs than I did studying how to fix and program them. CompTIA and other professional qualifications are a way to persuade someone to give you a job, but the best way to learn is on that very job.

It's not as catch-22 as it sounds. It's a process of boots trapping your level of technical competence by degrees. Start by taking your own computer to pieces. Break it, fix it, modify it. Build working computers from salvaged pieces of junk. Network them and write simple programs for them. You can learn how to do this just by reading the web; it's quite good fun and you are solving real problems. Then, armed with this knowledge and your boundless enthusiasm, get a very junior job or internship in IT support at a medium-sized company. It doesn't matter what the company does, you just want it to be big enough to have its own IT services department. If you are lucky and show willing, that company might pay for you to take the CompTIA, MCSA or Cisco exams. If they don't, you can take them in your spare time and with your own money.

Don't stress too much about which one to take, choose the one that looks easiest based on your current knowledge. Professional qualifications are a way to demonstrate how much you already know, not a way of learning. Once you have the qualification, use it as leverage to get a better job that will teach you new, more interesting things.



Print Viruses

Viruses that print themselves out?

No. Viruses that infect your printer. Researchers at Columbia University have discovered a security vulnerability that could allow a virus to use this to take control of some networked printers.

How does it work?

When the printer receives a print job, it checks for certain control codes that identify the job as a firmware update. If they are present, it overwrites its own flash RAM with the code. Surprisingly, lots of printers don't have any kind of hash or digital certificate to verify that the update is legitimate.

What could an infected printer do?

We most obvious virus payload would be to simply print the same document out, over and over again. A more aggressive virus could reprogram the printer to jam the fusing roller on at full power until the thermal override cut in -destroying the printer - or overheat the stepper motors, potentially causing a fire. The most sinister tactic would be to intercept print jobs and forward them to computers on the wider internet. Networked printers are usually accorded 'trusted' status on networks and bypass the normal firewall and routing restrictions.

How would a printer get infected?

Via a spambote mail or Facebook posting that asks you to print out a % coupon to take advantage of a special offer. The print job for the coupon would have the firmware /p update embedded in it.

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  •  Keep up to date with Windows Update
  •  Pimp Your Pad (Part 2) - Cross connections
  •  Pimp Your Pad (Part 1)
  •  AntiVirus – Top four of the newest releases tested: McAfee All Access 2012,F-Secure Internet Security 2012, Kaspersky One
  •  Uninstall troublesome software for free
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  •  Ditch your printer today : Step-by-step print your files to PDF (part 1)
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  •  100 Windows Speed-Up Tips (Part 4)
  •  100 Windows Speed-Up Tips (Part 1) - Clean up your hard drive & Defrag your computer
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  •  100 Windows Speed-Up Tips (Part 2) : Streamline your PC, Set up SMART
  •  The big test … Inter Core Power (Part 5) - Asus Zenbook UX31E & Packard Bell EasyNote TS13
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