Dear friend,

 

Welcome to the Sep 12, 2009 issue of
CompuNerds.Net-News

 

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The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. So here goes!

See www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/08/24/social-networks-leaking-users-data-to-tracking-sites on how social netorking sites like Facebook and Twitter are a "gold mine" of your personal information, not only your demographic profile.

Also see www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/08/28/criminals-using-social-networks-to-target-people on the way burglars use these sites to plan their break-ins.

In the last issue of our CN.Net-News concerning the White House setting up the email address "[email protected]" for citizens to report any "fishy" emails critical of the current administration's nationalized health care bill, we've learned of one reason this effort was toned down to just ask for "comments": A lawsuit was filed against the White House by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) and the Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE). They charged that the White House project was unlawfully collecting information on protected political speech, which is a violation of First Amendment rights.

By the way, we've added Skype to our customized "PortableApps" that we mentioned in our last issue. Skype is the famous voice-and-video Internet communication program, and it also lets you call landline and mobile phones worldwide cheaply. We've also added VirtualDub, a video processing and capture utility for .AC-3, .AVI, MPEG-2 and WMV formats. Just ask us for a DVD of all these programs, or lend us your flash drive and we'll copy them for you (1.8Gb). You can get a 4Gb flash drive for under $10 on sale at Walmart now.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
What's the difference between a website designer and a large pizza? A large pizza can feed a family of four.

TODAY'S TOPIC: USB PROS & CONS
The PortableApps software concept is a great way to always have your most vital programs and your data files with you on a flash drive in case your computer is lost, damaged, stolen or you simply didn't want to lug it around and then you suddenly need to use that data, send or receive some email messages, transact some business on a secure website, etc. A flash drive is really handy to carry around instead of a notebook computer. Just plug your flash drive into any PC and you're "good to go."

But as we mentioned in our last issue, flash drives wear out much faster than the RAM or the hard drive in your computer, and if you copy the PortableApps folder to your user login folder (for example, to "C:\Users\Robert\" in Vista or Windows 7, or "C:\Documents and Settings\Robert\" in Windows XP, then your data will be secured under your login and password; you can simply synchronize your PC data with your flash drive on a daily basis and before going on a trip, etc. But it's not a good idea to use a flash drive as your only backup, because just like a notebook PC, it can get lost, damaged or stolen.

In fact, that's exactly what happened with "The Conference That Almost Wasn't" - my wife and I had already bought our airline tickets to attend a conference in Holland a couple years ago, when we received an email from the conference organizer that he had lost his flash drive that had all the conference information on it, including the list of attendees, their email addresses, when they were arriving, etc. He had to really scramble to pull together all that data from various sources so that the conference could happen.

Also, just this week on our Labor Day picnic, as I reached into my pocket for my keyring, I was shocked to see that the plastic casing of my flash drive had come apart and only half of the casing was left on my keyring. I looked in the car but didn't see the missing parts - "What if some stranger has found my portable RAM chip, plugs it into his computer and has access to all my personal data?" Thankfully I later found the missing parts of my flash drive further back under the driver's seat of our car... Whew! This misadventure, however, taught me the need to password-protect my data on my flash drive as well as on the PC's hard drive. I will cover how best to do that in our next issue of CN.Net-News. But what are some other USB pros and cons?

Pro: It's very easy to copy or move from one computer to another large data files or programs that could be too big to send over a network. Con: It's too easy for a disgruntled, dishonest employee copy or move from an office computer to his home PC large amounts of data - say, corporate data - instead of from a secure PC on a secure network where such transactions are monitored.

Pro: USB drives, whether flash drives or portable disk drives, have become ubiquitous because they're so inexpensive. Six years ago I purchased a 256Mb Compact Flash card for $100 to move data from my old notebook PC to my new one: the price per megabyte was under 40 cents - it seemed like a bargain, because I remembered when I was project manager several years ago on a software project that handled $100,000,000 of the company's annual business, and our project ran out of the 10Mb disk space allotted for the new programs and test data, so I had to beg for another 10Mb of disk space that cost the corportation thousands of dollars. But a week ago I purchased a 4Gb flash drive for $9.99: the price per megabyte was just 1/4 of one cent! At that price, today that 256Mb would cost only 64 cents, not $100. Con: Again, the positive aspect also has a down side - USB drives are so cheap and easy to get that any person can have one in his pocket, carrying away corporate data undetected.

In conclusion, to have the best of both worlds, it's vital for businesses to have clearly written policies on the use of USB drives, including the right to search for and inspect any USB drives leaving company premises. Soon we'll have 128Gb flash drives and 6-Terabyte USB drives, so policies and practices must be in place for this next wave of the information revolution!

Feel free to forward our CN.Net-News to a few friends (but don't spam!).

Yours truly,

Bob the CompuNerd

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