Category Archives: TECHNOLOGY

New Windows 10 hints of ‘Big Brother’

windows-10-02-03e2ad10fb534541b118c1e80211174ca
By Allen Miller
News Analysis

CYBERSPACE — A few interesting things you might want to know about Windows 10…

Microsoft officially released its newest version of the famous software on July 29th. I have been running what is known as a ‘beta version’ for several months and can attest to the fact that it beats Windows 8/8.1 hands down!

It is faster, smoother and much more user friendly than Windows 8/8.1. I like it!

That said, please be aware that by default Windows 10 is spying on you and reporting back to Microsoft every time you turn your computer on!

Windows 10 comes with a 12,000-word service agreement. I don’t have the time to read the agreement — even if I could understand what it means. One part of the agreement bothers me and I am quoting it here:

“Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to: 1.comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process, including from law enforcement or other government agencies; 2.protect our customers, for example to prevent spam or attempts to defraud users of the services, or to help prevent the loss of life or serious injury of anyone; 3.operate and maintain the security of our services, including to prevent or stop an attack on our computer systems or networks; or 4.protect the rights or property of Microsoft, including enforcing the terms governing the use of
the services – however, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property of Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves, but we may refer the matter to law enforcement.”

In other words Microsoft has every intention of watching, archiving and keeping your data, including email, documents and pictures! Really???

On top of that, Microsoft will be tracking your Windows 10 computer on the Internet. The ads you see will be personalized — targeted using details about what you may have searched for at one time or another.

Fortunately you have the option of turning those “services” off, but please be aware they are turned on by default.

Yet another (and better) option is to create a LOCAL account on your computer as opposed to an online account.

If you are currently running Windows 8 or 8.1 look at your login name. Are you logging in with an email address? If so, you are logging into your computer with an online account.

With Windows 10, if you log in using an email address Microsoft has access to your data. I sit here wondering where it will go from here!

Happy Computing!

Editor’s note: Allen Miller is the technology columnist for the County Compass. We thank him for this analysis of the world’s most prevalent software.

‘Cryptowall’ one nasty virus

By Allen Miller | The Technology Desk

cryptowall-ransomware-RIG-Exploit-Kit-(1)Last weekend, I worked on a laptop that was infected with the “Cryptowall” virus, which is the latest variant of the infamous “Cryptolocker” virus.

The Cryptowall virus (along with its predecessors) encrypts all the documents, pictures, etc. on your computer. It then places several files on your computer, stating that your files have been encrypted and you must pay a ransom in order to have them unencrypted.

I have seen reports of the ransom costing anywhere from $500 to $1,000.

Simply put, if your files have been encrypted they are “gone” and irrecoverable.

You could pay the ransom, but there is no guarantee the cyber-criminals will un-encrypt your files even if you do pay the ransom. On top of that, paying the cyber-criminals just encourages them to come up with new ways of ransoming your computer and/or data.

This virus falls into the category of “Ransomware,”, as does the FBI virus, etc. They are referred to as “Ransomware” because they try to force you to pay a ransom in order to regain access to your computer and/or your files.

Because of the success of the cyber-criminals there is no reason to think this type of exploit will end anytime soon.

The reason for the title of this column? This nasty virus goes after your backup drive, if one is connected to your computer. Once encrypted, your backups will be useless.The best scenario would be to have a “Warm” backup and a “Cold” backup (two external drives).

The “Warm” backup drive would be the one you use this week and is currently connected to your computer. The “Cold” backup would be the one you used last week and is currently disconnected from your computer/network. Obviously you would rotate the drives each week.

When I owned my technology companies in Pennsylvania, I tried to regularly rotate my tape backups. We had six tapes that we used one week, and six more tapes that we used the previous week.We had a safe-deposit box at the bank where we stored the tapes when they were not in use.

Overkill? Sure. Right up until you discover your QuickBooks file has been maliciously encrypted!

Editor’s note: Readers may contact Mr. Miller by e-mail: al@awm.bz

Boat Show offers handy gadgets

By Penny Zibula | Staff Writer
Photo credits: Simon Lock

On a rainy day in Annapolis, Penny Zibula, with guide dog Otto, prepares to enter the world famous boat show.

On a rainy day in Annapolis, Penny Zibula, with guide dog Otto, prepares to enter the world famous boat show.

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Sailors love wind and water. Right? Perhaps that explains why inclement weather did little to keep both old and young salts alike from participating in the plethora of exhibits and activities that marked the 44th Annual Annapolis Boat Show.

There definitely was much to see and do, including ogling the interiors and exteriors of magnificent sailboats, sampling pressure-cooked fried chicken and gourmet chocolate, and getting hands-on demonstrations of some of the most innovative gizmos on the Seven Seas.

Below, in this reporter’s humble opinion, are five of the most useful and affordable must-haves that we spotted:

NEWS-Boat-Show-pic-2Tree Frog Pad: Sailors and land-lovers all know how little items – pens, reading glasses, small screw drivers – tend to roll, slide, or sprout legs and walk. Well, The Tree Frog Pad is a low-tech solution to this ongoing problem. It is a simple sticky double-sided rubber pad that doesn’t leave any residue on anything, and items can be removed and re-stuck over and over again.  Unfortunately, dust and dirt, will also stick to these mats; however, they can be easily washed with soap and water to get them back to their original tackiness. Price ranges from $5.95 to $12.95 depending upon size.

NEWS-Boat-show-pic-3Spot Gen-3: At the opposite end of the techno-spectrum is SPOT, which provides location-based messaging and emergency notification technology, allowing the user to communicate from almost anywhere in the world. This device not only keeps boaters in touch, it can potentially help keep them alive. SPOT can send messages and GPS coordinates to loved ones, or even directly to emergency authorities who can contact the Coast Guard. A simple push of a button, can provide worry-wart family members and friends with peace of mind without interrupting a grand nautical adventure. Cost is $150 for the equipment and $150 per year for basic monitoring.

NEWS-Boat-show-pic-4Sea Flush: This is a boating tool that anyone who has ever had to winterize a boat could easily learn to love. It makes quick work of winterizing — unclogging thru-hull fittings, flushing out saltwater and cleaning heat exchangers/exhaust manifolds/A/C hoses and Oil Coolers. Sea Flush works with canister-style sea strainers and no hoses need to be removed. Basic unit costs $69.

NEWS-Boat-Show-pic-5Jurgan Tool Free Clevis: No removal or insertion tools are needed to minimize snagging of sails, lines, and crew members while sailing. (And the best part is there’s also no need to tape sharp cotter pins). These robust and secure clevis pins are available in 48 different sizes, based on grip length and diameter combinations.

NEWS1-Boat-show-pic-6-ClampTiteClampTite: This clever tool is about as low-tech as they come, but it’s a real gem for securing most materials, from rubber hoses to spliced lines and wires. It can quickly replace ineffective or damaged conventional hose clamps with a temporary or permanent clamping mechanism formed from stainless steel safety wire. “Your clamp will be as good as your wire,” was the theme during a demonstration of this tool. Wires wrapped around an object can be tightened and then locked in place. A stardard size ClampTite costs $69 plus $25 for the 316 stainless steel wire.

Needless to say, I recommend the Annapolis Boat show!

E-recording propels Register of Deeds into 21st Century

 

Secretary of State visits county to underscore importance of new system

From left, Ozie Stallworth, Notary Enforcement Director for the N.C. Secretary of State; Bob Gannon, sales representative for Utah-based software company Simplifile; Lynn Lewis, the Register of Deeds for Pamlico County, and Elaine Marshall, North Carolina Secretary of State.

From left, Ozie Stallworth, Notary Enforcement Director for the N.C. Secretary of State; Bob Gannon, sales representative for Utah-based software company Simplifile; Lynn Lewis, the Register of Deeds for Pamlico County, and Elaine Marshall, North Carolina Secretary of State.

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

BAYBORO – Beginning April 1st, the Pamlico County Register of Deeds will join 30 other North Carolina counties as early adopters of ‘e-recording,’ a process that allows attorneys, banks, utilities, and even private citizens to officially record land records, deeds of trust, contracts, and other documents through a secure Internet-based system.

The system has proven to be a time and money saver — eliminating postage, overnight freight costs, and clerical expenses required to file land records and other documents with a Register of Deeds office.

Wednesday afternoon, North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall underscored the importance of e-recording when she personally appeared with Lynn Lewis, Pamlico County’s Register of Deeds, during a brief kick-off presentation at the Bayboro courthouse.

“Registers of Deeds throughout the state have told us that with e-recording half the work has already been done,” said Marshall. “It is a safe, reliable, user-friendly, efficient, and of course, ‘green’ process that promises to become a key quality of 21st Century government service.”

Lewis echoed the enthusiasm of Marshall when she pointed out that more than 20 entities that frequently file documents with her office have already executed Memorandums of Understanding, which allows electronic filing.

The system is the brainchild of Utah-based Simplifile, represented at the session by Bob Gannon, who oversees the business throughout eastern North Carolina.

“Our compensation comes in the form of a $5 fee for each document recorded,” explained Gannon, “whether it is 100 pages long or something as simple as a one-page Satisfaction Agreement.”

Ozie Stallworth, of Marshall’s staff at the Secretary of State’s Office, described e-recording “as so much more secure than the traditional paper processes. The multiple levels of security are really superior.”

Marshall, a veteran elected official, could not have been a more enthusiastic proponent of the system, which she said “has no downsides whatsoever.”

“I am proud to say that we are far and away the leaders in the nation for e-recording,” said Marshall. “This system saves time, money, and shoe leather.”

House Bill 298 becomes ‘wild card’ in wind energy debate

wind mills

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

BAYBORO – As the Pamlico County Commission braces for an April 1 public hearing on a new county law to govern wind turbines and other tall structures, the General Assembly appears likely to repeal a state law that provides much of the impetus for wind energy development across the state.

House Bill 298, introduced last week, bears the official title of “An Act to Reduce the Burden of High Energy Costs on the Citizens of North Carolina by Eliminating Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards; and to Provide for Cost Recovery by Public Utilities for Certain Costs of Compliance with Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards.”

The proposed legislation takes a state law passed in 2007 – by a predominantly Democrat-controlled legislature – and strikes lines and lines of provisions, including the word ‘wind’ in a section of the original law that defines ‘renewable energy resources.’

If the proposed bill is approved later this year – which insiders believe will happen – the state’s electricity providers will no longer be required to purchase part of their energy needs from renewable resources. And, without that mandated revenue stream, wind energy projects across the state may lose much of their economic viability.

Proposed state legislation would repeal many of the requirements that force utilities to buy part of their energy from renewable sources, as can be seen from the deletions tailored for Page 3 of an existing law.

Proposed state legislation would repeal many of the requirements that force utilities to buy part of their energy from renewable sources, as can be seen from the deletions tailored for Page 3 of an existing law.