Jul 8, 2015

Jun - 10 2015 | By

Shows After This: July 22nd & 29th!

A free, bootable operating system for your PC that looks JUST like a MAC (but is not)

StingRay 2 Cell Phone Monitoring and an OpenSignal App:  for Apple & Android to detect Signal status

MACKEEPER Fraud- Lies about Some Things, Lies about Everything?
Detecting well marketed (albeit fraudulent) obfuscated behind bogus reviews, etc..
a good explanation HERE. Sites are even registered to mis direct you: http://www.malwarebytes.org/ is NOT the Free MalWareBytes!

USB Flash Drives: As backups, movie mules and music porters. How do hey stack up $/mb/speed

New, Used or Refurbished– We Discuss..

Notifications of new show notes and edits are tweeted at: twitter.com/ddhart.
– They’re tagged with #Zentech.
– When what’s said is unclear to me (or I’m unfamiliar with a topic) I tend to quote (” “) verbatim.
– Editor’s comments are delimited by < >


Sorry for the delay in posting these notes. I had trouble trying to login


Both Paul & Glenn were in the studio today.

Paul noted that he and Glenn bought ASUS EEEPC netbook computers a few years ago. That model had 1gig of RAM, 13″ screen, used LED rather than a fluorescent back light, weighed under 2lbs, and ran on Windows XP. To conserve power it had no CD-ROM drive and used an Intel Atom CPU running at a relatively low clock speed.

Since older XP computers like these are now a security risk, because Microsoft stopped supporting that operating system, Paul has found a replacement OS called Lubuntu. The ‘L’ in the name means it’s a light version of Ubuntu, a version of Linux. It comes with a lightweight window manager, a component similar to Explorer on the PC or Finder on the Mac. It’s responsible for generating the menus and launching the apps from a menu and file system.

After installing Lunbuntu on his netbook and upgrading from 1 to 2gig of RAM, it ran faster than it did with XP, Paul said.

Lubuntu uses about 2gig of hard drive space to run and comes as an ISO 9660 image. <You can think of it as a bit-for-bit copy of operating system as it would normally be installed on the computer>. ISO 9660 is a CD-ROM standard so you’re expected to install Lubuntu on your computer by booting it from a CD (download Lubuntu, burn a CD with it and boot from the CD).

Since his ASUS didn’t have a CD drive, that caused a problem. After much searching, Paul discovered ways to make a bootable image on a USB drive, instead of using a CD. You can’t just copy the downloaded ISO image to the USB (or the CD for that matter), you’ll have to use special software. If you want to look up the information yourself, he suggested using the search words: iso to bootable usb. Using a USB drive should be 2 or 3 times faster than a CD.
<There was talk about ISO images & software for burning to CD on the 7-13-11 show>

When you’re ready to boot the USB drive (or CD), you’ll need to go into the BIOS settings to change the device you boot from — change from hard drive to USB drive. Getting into the BIOS settings varies by computer and you’ll usually hold down the ESC, F9 or F8 key as you start the computer. Typically, you need to have the USB drive plugged in or you may not see the option in the BIOS menu. From what Paul said, it seems like newer machine don’t require going into the BIOS settings, the menu is presented to you just by holding down one of those key. Google your machine if you need to find out which key to hold down.

Glenn said he had a friend with Xubuntu on their machine and said the look and feel of it is not anything like Windows. Paul said it’s a matter of what you get used to and implied that it’s not hard to get used to Ubuntu. Using LVWM (Low Power Volume Windows Manager) should make it easier.

Paul warned those who choose to install Ubuntu that they’ll lose the data on their hard drive with no chance of recovery. <Ubuntu can be used from the USB or CD without installing, or you can install it permanently.> Otherwise, it doesn’t require a much technical knowledge to install and it took Paul only about a half hour to do it. Expect to do online updates after installing.

If you like a Mac but can’t afford one, there’s an operating system that looks, runs and feels like a Mac. However, it won’t run Mac programs. It uses quite a bit of resources to look like a Mac and is not recommended for older, slower computers.

As an example of the race between hardware and software Paul again mentioned that his old iPhone 3GS is very sluggish on Facebook. If you have an iPhone 4 you can’t use anything newer than IOS7. An iPhone 3 can’t use anything newer than IOS6. An iPhone 4s can load IOS8 but it bogs down and is slower than IOS7 and you can’t easily go back to IOS7.

Again, Paul talked about keeping track of Zen Tech show dates. Check the webpage with the show notes. The dates will be entered manually — the Google calendar has been abandoned.

Paul talked about the Stingray device <used often by the cops> that intercepts cell phone signals to gather certain information. The signal is then relayed to the legitimate cell tower so the call seems normal. It’s hard to tell if your call is monitored, but there is an app for that. See the link at the top of this page. The OpenSignal App keeps track of the signal strength and the identity of the tower your phone is connected to. You can google the tower’s identity number to find out about it.
<There more about Stingray in the 3-11-15 show notes and a link to another app>

Similarly, you can google the model of your iPhone to find more info about it. Go to Settings -> General -> About and look for ‘Model’ and use the number for your Google search.
<Droid users go to Settings -> About Tablet>

Don called to talk about Linux. One of his favorite versions is Mageia.
– Mageia has multiple ISO images that can be used on a CD, DVD or USB.
– Not all ISO images can be used on a USB unless they’ve been “fiddled” with a bit.
– Mageia originally was an off shoot of Red Hat long ago — used to be called Mandrake. Then it was called Mandreva. Then it morphed into Mageia.
– There’s a “live image” that lets you boot from CD, etc. without installing. If you want, you can install it later. You can use it if your hard drive has gone bad, Paul added.
– If you boot from CD or DVD you don’t have to worry about infection from malware when you’re online.

Paul asked if Mageia allows you to devote a portion of the USB to store configuration information (persistent storage), as some other versions do. Don said it does not yet have that feature. Paul said there’s no reason you can’t plug in a second USB drive to store it on. The only version of Linux with persistent storage that Paul is familiar with is Puppylinux.

Paul wondered how well Mageia runs on old & slow computers. Don said it does pretty well, it will run on an old Pentium 3 computer. The big problem on s P3 and older machines is that you’re limited to 512megs of memory, which can be a problem if you do much graphical stuff. He said Mageia offers 4 or 5 desktop setups that can be matched to the resources your computer has. If go thru the permanent installation process, you’ll be able to choose the window manager you want to use at each bootup.

Don said the whole process of getting started with Mageia is very approachable by the novice user.

Paul said recovering data from a bad Windows hard drive is possible if you first boot to a version of Linux. But if the drive has a physical problem and is clicking, you’d do better getting it to a data recovery company rather than messing with it.

Don mentioned reading the “smart data” from a failing hard drive to get some idea of what went wrong with it, and also mentioned the Linux tool called Ddrescue for recovering data from a hard drive.

Paul said if anyone is interested in doing this, send him a USB drive. <I presume he meant he’d put Lubuntu on it and send it back. I’m guessing that at least a 2gig USB is preferred>

Paul recalled that Emachines used to sell computers with a distribution of Linux on them called Lindows. Microsoft went after them because it sounded too much like Windows.

Paul mentioned Mackeeper, whose affiliates hound you with annoying ads trying to get you to buy it. It’s basically useless, Paul said. Mackeeper dissociates itself from the affiliates when people complain. Paul doesn’t think that’s right. See the above links.

Paul noted a problem with flash drives — they’re easily lost along with your private data. They can be used to infiltrate local networks for corporate espionage where one is dropped in the parking lot of a corporation and picked up by an employee who then plugs into the company’s computer, delivering a payload of spyware.

Flash drives vary greatly in speed. The hardware in your computer can affect the speed, too. There’s a link above for testing your drives. The site also has data on drives already tested.

Brand name drives tend to do better but even they may produce a budget version of their products that are slower. Paul found that to be true of a SanDisk drive he bought. For a couple of buck more he could have gotten a version that was 3 times as fast.

If you go to userbenchmark.com, you’ll find benchmarks for other hardware components. If you plan to replace your conventional hard drive with a solid state drive, check out ssd.userbenchmark.com

Paul thinks the Computer Museum in Sunnyvale is a great place to visit. They have a lot of original hardware including an Enigma machine (used by the Nazis for encoding messages). It’s $15 to get in but $7 if you go to Groupon first.

Last Update 1:11 PM 7/9/2015