Getting rid of that old computer? If so, you need to Boot and Nuke It

December 18, 2014

If you are in a position where it is “out with the old computer” and “in with the new computer”, please keep in mind it is important to make sure that the data on the old computer is not compromised. What many folks typically do is “packrat” the old computer by putting it aside, for sometimes years; OR, they will give it away as a donation, etc… No matter the scenario, it is very important that you make sure the computer does not leave your possession until your personal information and data has been removed and/or destroyed. The only way(s) to ensure that your personal information is safe is to either remove and destroy the drive(s) or use software that is engineered to wipe the drive(s) (of everything).

An option to consider, for home based computer users, is the open source program called DBAN – Darik’s Boot and Nuke. This program has been around for many years and was acquired by a company in Finland called Blancco in 2012. One of Blancco’s products is a powerful and secure data erasure tool that is geared toward the enterprise level of computing; however, DBAN – Darik’s Boot and Nuke is free erasure software designed for the home user. I can attest that this software will adequately serve the needs of the home based computer user when it comes to data removal.

DBAN is free erasure software designed for the home user. It automatically deletes the contents of any hard disk that it can detect. This method can help prevent identity theft before recycling a computer. DBAN is also a commonly used solution to remove viruses and spyware from Microsoft Windows installations.

Here’s how it works: I downloaded the DBAN ISO image file, wrote the ISO image to a CD and booted it on my old PC. You may have to go into the BIOS on the old computer to change the boot order so that the computer will boot from the CD. 

Once DBAN has booted, you will be presented with the following screen. At this screen you can type autonuke, press enter, and DBAN will do the rest for you (using the default settings). The Autonuke mode should be a sufficient in removing data from the computer.

DBAN start screen

 

The screenshot below is an example of the progress you will see. Erasing data on a drive, depending on the drive size and the amount of data, can take hours.

DBAN running in autonuke mode

 

When DBAN is finished, it will display a message similar what you see below to indicate that the CD can be removed and the computer powered off. You can feel confident that your data has been “nuked”.

DBAN autonuke finished message

 

Interactive Mode

There is also an interactive mode that you can select at the first screen, by hitting Enter. This mode gives you greater control (i.e. you can select the pseudo-random number generator, wiping method, verification method and rounds).

DBAN interactive

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Keep An Eye On Your Latest RSS News Feeds With Desktop Ticker

December 17, 2014

I am big into RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication), by using the likes of Feedly (RSS Feed Reader) to keep track of what is going on in the world. I currently have a large collection of feeds that I follow. RSS gives you the ability to track multiple news sources quickly and efficiently by giving you (in most cases, depending on how you configure the feed) the headlines with bits and pieces of the story. Once you see something of interest you can go to it by clicking on the feed link. You can grasp a whole lot of information with RSS feeds. It has been an invaluable tool to me with locating resources for the blog.

Now that you have somewhat of a feel what a RSS feed is, you may want to take a look at Desktop Ticker which is a FREE scrolling desktop ticker that you can load feeds into that will scroll the latest feeds across your desktop (much like what you see on TV when they scroll the news across the screen).

Desktop Ticker is a free RSS and Atom web feed aggregator application that allows you to keep an eye on the latest news from your favourite websites whilst you work on your computer. Once feeds have been added, the article titles scroll horizontally across the screen. Article summaries are displayed when the mouse cursor is placed over an article title, and the full article can be opened in a web browser by clicking on the article title. The RSS feeds are automatically downloaded after the specified interval to show updated content.

Desktop Ticker

What I like about Desktop Ticker is that it is FREE; can be downloaded as a portable app; and, can be fully customized. For example, the graphic you see above is close to the default size. What I ended up doing was increasing the font (to size 18) which will change the ticker to a very readable size. If you notice below, you will see my browser window is open and the ticker is at the top of the screen. Keep in mind this is a cropped screenshot and that the ticker stretches across the length of the screen. You can float the ticker or tell it to pin to the top or bottom of the screen. Personally I like it at the top of the screen.

Desktop Ticker

There are many (very easy to use) configuration settings that you can manage to customize Desktop Ticker to your personal taste. Very nicely done software that has an easy learning curve and serves a good purpose (especially for a newshound like myself).

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A Portable App To Download FREE Music

December 9, 2014

Download your favorite music for free with Free Music Downloader. Simply enter the name of the artist or the title of a song and Free Music Downloader can connect to over 20 online music services to locate the song. Once the song is located you have option of where you want to download the song from. After you make the selection, the song is downloaded and converted to a MP3. You also have option of including cover images, as well.

Free Music Downloader

Free Music Downloader is a Windows based application that requires no installation (portable app). Simply download, unzip the file (LastFM.zip) to a folder and run the “Last.fm executable.

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A Free AppRemover Utility To Uninstall Antivirus and Security Software, Public File Sharing Applications, Toolbars and MORE

December 4, 2014

AppRemover is a must have utility to have around if you decide to swap out your antivirus or malware software on your computer.

It is important to know that security software installs, such as antivirus and malware software, are very complex in nature; and, if not uninstalled properly can wreak havoc to a PC. Typically, most developers of Security software will provide an uninstaller that you can download from their site; however, most people do not know or think about that. An easy option for removal of security type software is AppRemover.

AppRemover

AppRemover supports the removal of a boat load of applications – see here…  AppRemover is a standalone (portable) application that you simply download and run. You can download AppRemover – from here.

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Backup The Content Of Your Website (or any Website) With HTTrack Website Copier

December 3, 2014

In addition to What’s On My PC and Bookmarks4techs, I also maintain a private site at Blogger for the condo community for which I reside. The content of these sites, all of my making, are very important to me. The easiest and most confident way I found to locally keep a mirrored copy (of each site) is to use the open source software called HTTrack Website Copier.

HTTrack Website Copier

 HTTrack Website Copier allows you to download a World Wide Web site from the Internet to a local directory, building recursively all directories, getting HTML, images, and other files from the server to your computer. HTTrack arranges the original site’s relative link-structure. Simply open a page of the “mirrored” website in your browser, and you can browse the site from link to link, as if you were viewing it online. HTTrack can also update an existing mirrored site, and resume interrupted downloads. HTTrack is fully configurable, and has an integrated help system.

When I use HTTrack Website Copier I typically go with the default configuration settings and follow the below steps:

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Use f.lux To Make Your Computer Screen Look LIke The Room You Are In All The Time

November 30, 2014

I awakened very early this morning, due that I was having a hard time sleeping, turned on the computer and when the monitor came “on” the brightness of the monitor was like looking into direct sunlight. It was then that I was reminded of a really neat software application (called f.lux); that, in my opinion should be built into Windows. What f.lux does is that it auto adjusts the color of your computer’s display, based on the the time of day (for your location), making the display warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

f.lux Logo

After you install f.lux, go into the settings and enter your location and you are good to go. f.lux will make the adjustments based on the given location that will subsequently fine tune these settings (for accuracy) based on your location’s longitude and latitude. If you are not satisfied with the default settings, f.lux is fully customizable. I have found the default settings to work very well. Using f.lux has some health benefits, as well.

f.lux

f.lux makes your computer screen look like the room you’re in, all the time. When the sun sets, it makes your computer look like your indoor lights. In the morning, it makes things look like sunlight again.

We know that night-time exposure to blue light keeps people up late. f.lux adjusts colors in a way that greatly reduces the stimulating effects of blue light at night.

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I needed software to print an envelope and I found this…

November 25, 2014

If you want something that is far easier to use than Microsoft Word, to print an envelope, then take a look at Envelope Printer (at Tweaking.com) which is a FREE Windows based application developed to exclusively print envelopes.

Tweaking.com - Envelope Printer

Tweaking.com – Envelope Printer will save (and store) the addresses you input and you can even add a personal logo (or graphic) to your return address.

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