Showing posts from August, 2004

Palmtops - the next computing craze

Here's a quick review of upcoming palmtop PCs; machines which will fit in a coat pocket, and maybe pants pocket, but not a shirt pocket, and run Windows and/or Linux to give you all of your programs while out in the field.

I've actually used two of these, the OQO and the FlipStart, as well as a lot of other mobile computing gear. Since I've just had the touchscreen on my Fujitsu one-kilo notebook fail, with a probable repair cost of 75% of a new unit, I appreciate that the Vulcan folks might have left ouff the touchscreen for ruggedness reasons.

This is the best solution for really portable packet radio, as well as being tremendously useful in general. Palm has got to be sweating over this one, and it explains why Sony retreated from the PDA market.

Time required for viruses & worms to hack your machine drops 50% in a year

Computer Security: Getting through Day One without getting hacked

This guide from the non-profit and respected SANS, Windows XP: surviving the first day, shows how to set up a PC and get it ready to connect to the INternet without getting hacked in the process. Highly recommended.

Neat Windows Safety freeware

If you are using Windows XP, 2000 or NT, this freeware will alow you to make multiple backups of your Registry, and to 'optimize' (reorganize) it for best running. Windows 98 does this automatically, as does ME, and it's easy to do with Windows 95(and here's a script which does it, using the previously described PKZIP25 program)

: REGBACK.BAT - (C) 2004 John Bartley K7AAY
: Archives five last Registry files
echo off
md \data
: (delete the first line above once run for the first time)
cd \data
if exist back-reg.5 del back-reg.5
if exist back-reg.4 ren back-reg.4 back-reg.5
if exist back-reg.3 ren back-reg.3 back-reg.4
if exist back-reg.2 ren back-reg.2 back-reg.3
if exist ren back-reg.2
PKZIP25 -a -max c:\data\ SYSTEM.DAT USER.DAT
dir back-reg.*
echo Registry backup successful if you see
echo BACK-REG.ZIP above with today's date

If your Registry is corrupted, your PC will either behav…

Fear and Loathing in Iraq

Here's how I protect myself from data loss when syncing my Palm

I use PKZIP25.COM from PKWARE, and call it within a script ('batch file'). If I accidentally delete data I don't discover as gone until after the next sync, I can go to an old data archive made with PKZIP 2.5 for DOS and recover it.

BTW, if anyone knows of a freeware archiving utility which can be invoked from within a DOS script, please do let me know at (please change THREE to 3 before sending). I obtained my PKZIP25 through purchase, but believe I'd like to try an Open Source or Freeware solution if there's one which works scripted within DOS.

I created this batch file which I place in C:/WINDOWS (or somewhere else in the path) and call it every time Windows reboots by adding COMMAND /C PALMBACK.BAT within C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT on my 98 machines. NT-based machines would place the file in C:/WINNT instead and use CMD instead of COMMAND.

Before use, Palmists must go to C:\Program Files\Palm and find the name of their data subdirectory. Most u…

Moport: An independent event-driven mobile blog network

I grew up on the Gulf Coast, and spent some time in Tornado Alley as well. Now, I live on the Ring of Fire. All three have their disasters; hurricanes, twisters and earthquakes.

I also know many volunteer disaster workers who had Ground Zero assignments. They found low-bandwidth texting (often through paging networks, since cell nets were down for many days) their best source of information.

Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs website led me to this article on Moport, a text blogging net for mobiles, which will make its debut during the Republican National Convention in the Big Apple at the end of this month.

Why not establish a Moport for Hurricane Charlie, and then create protocols for quick deployment of other Moports for other natural disasters?

My motivation is that people deal with disasters better when they have a sense of being informed. Traditional disaster relief organizations, however, have to do that through the commercial media, who are rather cumbersome and have their own int…

This is a spoof, this is only a spoof...

A recent analysis of the Emergency Alert System, which replaced the Emergency Broadcast System (itself heir to CONELRAD), shows the hackability of emergency alerts.

The EAS was launched in 1997 to replace the cold-war era Emergency Broadcast System known best for making the phrase "this is only a test" a cultural touchstone. Like that earlier system, the EAS is designed to allow the President to interrupt television and radio programming and speak directly to the American people in the event of an impending nuclear war, or a similarly extreme national emergency. The system has never been activated for that purpose, but state and local officials have found it a valuable channel for warning the public of regional emergencies, including the "Amber Alerts" credited with the recovery of 150 abducted children.

As first reported by SecurityFocus nearly two years ago, the EAS was built without basic authentication mechanisms, and is activated locally by unencrypted low-sp…

Pentagon Abandons Microsoft for "Commander's Digital Assistant"

Here's a BargainPDA report on how the new ruggedized PDA (whoops, CDA, or "Commander's Digital Assistant" will use Linux, instead of Microsoft's PocketPC. I can see that; I would not want to have my CDA hacked by a virus or stuck in a reboot cycle when out on a mission.

430 ELE NEAs documented, more on their way; but, wait, there's more....


ELE = Extinction Level Event

NEA = Near Earth Asteroid

So: when do we expect that particular doom?

Well, I don't know when it will occur, and neither do the experts, beyond 'soon' (in geological terms). But, then I moved from Collier County, Florida (where the highest point is 17' above mean high tide) a dozen years ago, after I read LUCIFER'S HAMMER, right after I read ON THE SLOPES OF VESUVIUS.

I think Dr. Pournelle and The Admiral both provided a Clue.. and now, I live in cheeful, happy, mountainous Oregon, with in-laws who have a spread at 2,200' on the other side of the Cascades.

> And is there a way to trigger such things?

The article suggested a volcanic eruption would be required, and we don't know how to trigger those any more than we know how to set off an earthquake. There may be some Russians still around who worked on their equivalent of PLOWSHARE, or maybe some Chinese know (shall we sen…

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Funny du jour

De-gunking your PC

Here's a very useful summary of how to maintain your Windows PC's software. Of course, you have to clean your desktop machines to remove the dust, lint and hair which accumulate within and block the cooling air flow, but this is a good start for all Windows users.