bobquasit: (Default)
My mother-in-law is going to buy a computer, and she asked for my help. She mentioned Wal-Mart; Best Buy and BJs also came up. She wants to spend $600-800 and for the system to include a decent-sized monitor and a DVD burner. Other than that she's not going to be a power user at all. Desktop, Windows (I recommended XP, but she may not have the option), and definite not Dell - we know too many people who've gone through Dell hell.

I did some research and printed out systems from the three stores I mentioned, plus a system from PCs for Everyone. Two of the systems are HPs, as I recall. The superstore prices range from $540 - %590, and PCs for Everyone is $691 (I customized it online). My gut feeling is that the PCs for Everyone system is worth the extra money because A) they use good component, B) they don't sell anything else BUT computers, C) they've been around for a long time now - around 25 years, and D) their service center is in Norwood (MA). From what I've heard, with computers from the three big stores you're more likely to have a problem, and when you do it's more likely that they'll have to ship the system to the manufacturer across the country somewhere.

Thoughts, anyone?
bobquasit: (Default)
Dear Microsoft,

Just a note to say "hi!" and thanks. I was working on my website, trying to get things done before finally getting some much-needed sleep. But you knew that my work wasn't really important. And that's why you decided to install some important updates and force my computer to restart.

Oh, you gave me a few minutes warning. You even provided a little window with a countdown, saying "X minutes before restart". There was a box that said "Restart Now", and another box that said "Restart Later" - but wacky jokesters that you are, you greyed that "Later" box out! You know I didn't really want the option to wait a few extra minutes and finish my work. No, it's so much more satisfying to have the computer shut down on me against my will, at the command, Microsoft.

I can't help but imagine what the world would be life if you guys ran everything. Say I'm in the middle of a phone conversation with my doctor. I had some tests recently (no, not really, but bear with me - this is dramatic license) and she's going to tell me how I'm doing. Is it cancer, doc?

"BEEP! This is Microsoft. We've installed some important security updates on your phone. Press umlaut to delay hangup. Ha ha! Umlaut isn't an option! Say goodbye! Click...beeeeeeeeeeeeep..."

And just to cap things off, after the computer restarted you thoughtfully didn't bother to restore my programs. FireFox can do it, and it's open source. But you, Microsoft, you're much too busy to bother wasting time considering the convenience of your users. Why, if you did that once, they might expect consideration ALL the time!

So thanks, Microsoft. And fuck you, fuck you very much.



Apr. 13th, 2007 10:40 am
bobquasit: (Prisoner)
The New York Times reported today that Karl Rove was personally deleting his emails from the RNC server until 2005, when the RNC changed the system to stop him from doing that. Frankly, I have to wonder why - it's simply not credible that they did it to obey the Presidential Records Act. They've made it abundantly clear that they regard themselves as above the law.

Anyway, I'm not an expert in the field of email. But I have studied the subject a bit over the years. And here's my explanation of the email situation, as I recently tried to explain to [ profile] stairflight. Incidentally, it seems that Senator Leahy agrees with me on the technical aspects of this issue.

It is incredibly difficult to totally destroy all copies of an email once it has been sent. Too many copies are made in the process of delivery:
  1. A copy on the creating device's hard drive.
  2. Possible backup copies of the originating device's hard drive.
  3. A copy on the originating email server.
  4. Backup copies of the originating server.
  5. Copies on the servers that the email passes through on the way to the recipient (which are almost certainly NOT under the control of the sender or recipient). This almost certainly represents multiple copies, possibly dozens or more.
  6. Backups of the data on any of those intermediate servers.
  7. A copy on the receiving server.
  8. Backup copies of the data on the receiving server.
  9. A copy on the hard drive of the receiving device.
  10. Backups (if any) of the hard drive of the receiving device.

Totally erasing any ONE of those copies is a tricky proposition at best.

When you press "delete", you're just deleting the copy on whatever machine you're on. What's more, you're not actually deleting ANYTHING - you're just telling the system to mark the email header as deleted. All of the data is still there and can be recovered quite easily, up to this point.

To really destroy the data, you could use a special overwrite program to write random ones and zeros over the deleted file over and over and over. This has to be done multiple times, because otherwise there's a good chance that a forensic team can still recover the data via the residual magnetic charge on the drive.

Even that isn't totally reliable. The only sure way to destroy the data is to smash the hard drive into little pieces, or better still, melt it into slag.

Once you've done that, though, you have the problem of all the other machines that your email went through!

Email is simply not a secure medium.


bobquasit: (Default)

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