Friday, May 19, 2017

Inexpensive Computer OS and File Security

How to Spend ONLY ~$25.00 to Have a Backup Way to Protect Your Computer!

Recently in the news we have been reading & viewing features about computers in many countries all over the world having Malware placed on them that encrypts the users' files, demands a "ransom" of $XXX.XX to decrypt the user’s files, and when or if the "ransom" is paid, the Hacker(s) never release the files that they took 'hostage'!

Well, I have been trying to inform my many friends for years how to have an emergency SAFEGUARD  backup method of protecting your computer's Operating System as well as your critical Documentation Files, Audio Files, & precious Photographs + Videos.

Equipment wise the user will have to buy two (2) Flash Drives or SD Cards. I personally purchased a 32GB Flash Drive and a 64GB Flash Drive from Amazon for $10.00 & $15.00 each.

1.) Then you need to plug the 64GB [or greater] Flash Drive into the computer and proceeded to copy every folder that on the computer holds any Documentation Files, Audio Files, & precious Photographs + Videos. {depending on what microprocessor the computer has, this might take 30 - to 45 minutes [you don't have to do it in a single setting]} but you then have a good backup of ALL your important data! Remove the 64GB [or greater] Flash drive from the computer when the task is completed!

2.) Next plug the 32GB Flash Drive into the computer, then RIGHT click on the Windows Icon located on the Task Bar at the bottom of the screen and then LEFT click on the word search that appears in the dialog box.

3.) Type the phrase "Create Recovery Disk" in the space provided followed by pressing the "Enter" Key; a pop-up dialog box will appear that will guide the user through now making an Operating System Recovery Disk on the 32GB Flash Drive. {This may also take some time, [drink a cup of coffee, a soda, or a beer while you wait] so be patient} When the process is completed click on finish in the dialog box and remove the 32GB Flash Drive.

NOW if you ever have a virus and/or malware that finds its way onto your computer that your Anti-Viral & Malware software can't seem to eradicate, you are no longer up-the-creek-without-a-paddle!! First contact your Anti-Viral & Malware provider, if they can't help you there is now the option open to you of re-installing your Operating System and your computer's Documentation Files, Audio Files, & precious Photographs + Videos.

A.) Turn the power off that goes to the computer!

B.) Plug the 32GB Flash Drive into the computer!

C.) Turn the computer on WHILE holding down the F8 or F12 key {depending on your computer brand}!

D.) When the computer starts, it will take you to the BIOS start menu!

E.) Chose to Erase & REFORMAT the Hard Drive!

F.) Repeat option C and chose to start the computer by loading the Operating System from the 32GB Flash Drive (which is now the Recovery Disk)

G.) After the Operating System has been re-installed, you can use the 64GB [or greater] Flash Drive to reinstall the computer's Documentation Files, Audio Files, & precious Photographs + Videos.

H.) The ONLY last set of task(s) is to download and reinstall all of the Application Programs* that the user prefers!

Like I cautioned in the beginning, this is an emergency method to always have in reserve, just in case the computer user has to deal with an terrible situation!

* I wrote a blog in October 2011 about some of the FREEWARE programs that I use as an "alternative" to some of the expensive commercial programs to include:

Office Suite* Microsoft Office LibreOffice (

Optical Character RecognitionABBYY FineReaderFreeOCR ↔ (

Image Manipulation Adobe Photoshop GIMP (

Sound Editing WavePad Masters Audacity  (

File Compression WinZip Ken Ward's Zipper (

Well six (6) years later, the latest versions of these programs are still very viable and excellent alternatives to the commercial programs of similar function! If you are repopulating your computer, it may be a time for you to try a few of them and see if they can serve your programming purposes!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Secure your Vital file(s) from hackers!

Secure your files from hackers!

Hackers from all over the world are now trying to get your computer to “share” your files with them so that they can go through them to see if there is any information there that can be used to obtain vital information about you.

They look for your business account numbers, your utilities account numbers, your family's Social Security numbers, your home and/or business addresses, your health insurance identification number, and so on and so forth!

They need that information to try and gain access to your accounts and/or steal your identity or even use your information to gain access to a larger target such as a business institution or your bank.

I have come to the conclusion that it is probably now safer for the average user just to encrypt the sensitive information files that they save and are now just sitting there located on their hard drive and/or stored somewhere on the 'cloud'. How many users out there now have their previous years’ income tax returns just occupying their hard drives? I personally prepare my income taxes using the collection of spreadsheets that can be found and downloaded from the internet at and I surely wouldn’t want that information compromised by some unknown hacker(s)!

However, this recommendation comes with a little caveat!

The first thing that you should realize is that when you encrypt anything; if the protection was made by 'man' then somewhere that very same protection can be broken by another 'man'. What you really want to do is to try and cause the hacker to spent so much time trying to decrypt the file(s) that it isn't cost effective for the hacker to spent so much time and effort on your encrypted files and the hacker just moves on to their next victim, who they perceive will be easier to victimize.

A few years ago, I stopped buying Microsoft Office Suite and switched over to the GNU office suite of LibreOffice {it has a cousin named OpenOffice that is very similar} because it is a free software product and it serves all of the usual computer user needs as well as is able to open or save Microsoft Office Suite files.

My recommendation is that you “double encrypt” all of your sensitive files using two totally different software programs. NOW, don't be put off by this recommendation, luckily both LibreOffice & OpenOffice both come with a built in encryption feature!

1.) When you go to save the file(s), just click on the word File at the top of the screen and then click on Save As and a dialog box will open for you to type in the new file name. You will see a box next to the phrase 'Save with password', make sure that box is checked and type in the new file name. You will then be prompted for the password* to allow you to open the file whenever it is accessed. Type in the password that you want and the file will be saved so that only the correct password will allow it to be opened and accessed again.

That is the first encryption that you could use to protect your file(s).

The second program to finally “double encrypt” your file(s) that I recommend is another free program, AxCrypt, that can be downloaded off the internet. So, after you have encrypted it with the internal encryption of the office suite, you can then encrypt the whole file again with the stand alone program. That follows the security trend of “two-step” verification, which a great many major commercial and business institutions have been slowly adopting over the past several years. It is about time the average user join this trend

* Password(s) – my suggestion for easy to remember password(s) for the user and a very difficult password for the hacker to try and guess are old addresses at previous residences that you, your relatives, and any of your old friends {like girl/boy friend(s)} may have had in the past, especially if you have changed your city and/or state of residence:

{e.g. 1234MainStreet,AnyCity,AnyState(zip code)}

Such a password fulfills all the criteria for a very STRONG password, it has numerals, upper case letters, lower case letters, punctuation characters, and is more than 21 characters in length! It is estimated that it would take a super-computer working for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, over two years to guess such a password. This is something the user will always remember and the hacker will never have a clue of what it could possibly be. Not many hackers would spend that much time and money for computer time trying to guess such a password and just move on to their next victim that they have hacked after failing trying to guess the initial password.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Manual Washing Machine

Manual Washing Machine

(Watch the above video to see how to construct and use this device)

All parts are available at Home Depot:

Two (2) 5-gal. Homer Bucket; Model # 05GLHD2 = $2.97 x 2 ....= $5.94

Leaktite 5-gal. Homer Leakproof Lid; Model # 5GLD ORANGE LID for 5GL HOMER PAIL ….................................................................................................... = $1.68

NIBCO 1-1/2 in. PVC DWV Hub x SJ Trap Adapter; Model # C48017HD112 =...................................................................................................... = $0.88
HDX 5 in. Force Cup Plunger; Model # PSC2451 ….................................................................................................... = $2.98 ….......................................................................................................$11.48

There are two modifications to the model that are not shown in the video.
1.) Cut and 1-1/2 inch hole in the lid to the unit; then insert the 1-1/2 inch PVC Trap Adapter through the hole and tighten the adapter, this strengthens the hole in the lid where the plunger handle is inserted!
2.) Substitute a longer broom handle for the original handle that came with the plunger; this makes it so the user can now operate the device in the standing position which will relieve any back strain from having to bend over to manipulate the original short handle.

Do you like to camping?
Are you in an "off-the-grid" situation?
Is your financial situation such that you can not really afford to spend $10.00 or more to do a load of laundry several times a week?
Do you live in an apartment and often have small loads of 'personal laundry' that needs to be attended to on a pretty regular basis?
Then the above device shown in the link to the video may just be what you are looking for to help assist you with any of the preceding situations. Long before there were electric washing machines, most laundry in this country and still throughout the world was and is still washed by the manual process of hand washing. The usual method is one of each piece of laundry is individually 'scrubbed' by hand which take a while to go through the whole batch.
The manual washing machine that is shown is extremely low cost {less than $12.00 in total material cost}, can be used very easily in any urban, suburban, rural, and/or emergency situation. Some of the toughest "hard knocks" situations are when the electricity is not functioning for long periods of time and the home and/or commercial laundry facilities are not available to the general populace. Having this manual device sitting in a storage closet may not be a bad insurance policy. {just ask the people that were effected by Hurricane Sandy or the winter of 2014-2015 ice storms}
For the outdoorsman that enjoys going camping for any period of time, it may be just what is needed to bring some sense of civilization to that primitive lifestyle. Spending 20-30 minutes to process a load of laundry in most primitive settings my seem like a gift from society.
For the apartment dweller, it means not having to go to the basement laundry facilities hoping that the machines are unused and/or worse yet taking time and effort to travel to a commercial laundering establishment and spending the necessary money to accomplish the task there; just using the device in the bathtub or shower seems much easier.
SOMETIMES, the low tech solutions to solving everyday problems may be work better than some of the highest technical advances!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Alternative "Luci Lantern" Prototype Example

First I had ordered some of the items from the above site as "toys" for my grand daughters; then I happened to run across the Luci Lantern video on YouTube.

I had ordered one of the items listed below to add to my household's emergency kit for the few instances that due to storms, falling trees, exploding transformers, and etc. that the electricity powering our lighting fails to function properly.

I tried a little experiment and came up with an idea for a prototype example of a similar lantern that has a slightly different operating principle than the Luci Lantern.
I had an extra 'flashlight', so I took it and an old medium sized plastic mayonnaise jar that was in the recycling bucket and went to work.
I cut an opening in the middle of the plastic top just large enough to insert just the lens section of the 'flashlight'; then using superglue I permanently mounted the 'flashlight' to the lid, I also sealed the joints around the flashlight with hot glue on the inside and outside of the lid.
I then took some aluminum foil and hot glued it to the inside of the lid where there was no 'flashlight' protruding through the inside of the lid AND on the entire bottom of the plastic jar.
I screwed the lid on the jar, squeezed the handle to charge the unit for about two minutes, turned off the kitchen light, and I had a prototype example lantern; which only cost me all of $2.63 and an old plastic mayonnaise jar the was about to be recycled. It comes with a strap so you can hang it up anywhere!
The Luci Lantern works on the principle of light energy charging the 'lithium battery', while the prototype example that I constructed works on the principle of a small dynamo charging a 'super capacitor'.
I never did test how long the "charge" would last because it is a moot point since whenever it dims you can just recharge it again in less than two (2) minutes.
If the Luci Lantern could be fitted with a 'super capacitor' instead of a lithium battery and a flat circular dynamo device instead of having light energy collectors, then it could be an all-weather source of light for those in need of a light source where and when the grid is not available. It may wind up being a little larger in its collapsed form! 
Items needed for the project - $2.63 Dynamo Flashlight, an old recycled plastic jar, Aluminum Foil, small amount of Superglue, small amount of hot glue!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Conversion of Analog Photography to Digital Photography

Here is a photograph that I took in 1967 that originally was on the cover of my college's Fine Arts magazine. The photograph was also used in the college yearbook on Page 13 {I disliked the way their Layout Editor cropped the image}:

then it was used for a couple of years later in the course bulletins on Page 5:

Of course back in 1967 we had pretty primitive darkroom facilities tucked away in the basement of a building with terrible ventilation, so dust particles on the negatives was always a big problem!

Years later when photograph became all digital, I converted the image from analog to digital taking a relatively pristine copy of an original print and scanning it into a digital .jpg file at 1200 DPI. I then used GIMP to retouch the photograph to remove all those dust spots that kept getting on the negative in that old darkroom. The resulting photograph then looked like the following:

Since the original use for the photograph was for the cover of the college's Fine Arts magazine, I then dabbled with the photograph to make it more artsy by again using GIMP to add some color to an original monochrome Black & White photograph resulting in the following image:

So, this is the final result of retouching a photograph that was had taken in 1967 in the analog age and then using digital procedure to enhance the image to what it could of possibly appeared as all those years ago if I was a more accomplished photographer back then!

Finally using my image manipulation program I also made a 3D anaglyph photograph from that original, you can see the 3D effect by wearing anaglyph glasses (using Red & Cyan lens). Viewing the photograph in the 3D mode really gives the viewer a feeling of how remote the wooded areas of the campus were back in 1967. Students could really find solitude for personal thoughts back then just by going for walks in the secluded areas of the campus.

To see exactly how to produce a 3D Anaglyph photograph using the GIMP program, download the following tutorial and read and learn how to produce photographs with this eye catching effect:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Recording Live Audio Streams in Windows

In a Q&A article on 10/07/2014, 'The New York Times' published how to record live audio streams.

Here is ANOTHER way to accomplish the same feat without the hassle of having to adjust your Computer System's internal audio software setup as it is recommended in that article!

ALL of the cables can be bought from MyCableMart! 
You connect this device to your Speaker Jack in the back of your computer!
THEN you can connect one jack to your speakers (if necessary) 
NEXT you connect the following cable:
One end goes to the other jack and the OTHER end connects to the Line In jack on the back of your computer.
NEXT you get the free Audacity software and when you run it make sure you have the following settings:
Then you can record any sound that you hear on your computer using the free Audacity software.
To have your computer running Audacity to AUTOMATICALLY record when the audio from your computer's audio source starts; click on 'Edit' and then on 'preferences', make sure that the 'record' dialog box has the following items checked!
With this setup you can record any live or recorded audio that is played on your computer, no matter what its source, and then at your leisure, use Audacity to edit those recordings any way that you see fit. 
HOWEVER, check your state laws about recording any VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephone audio; in some states you can record if you are one of the parties in the conversation without the other party's notification AND in other states you have to notify the other party to the conversation that it is being recorded.
With just a small change of cabling, the user can also configure their computer system to then be used to convert any of their [old] vinyl records, stereo cassette tapes, and any old analog audio output devices that have RCA output jacks from analog out put to a digital recording.

1.) 1st the user purchases a second Y-connector cable.
2.) Then the user connects the second Y-Connector cable to the line-in jack on the back of the computer.

3.) The user reconnects the lead coming from the speaker output to one of the new the line-in plugs.
4.) The new RCA cable set plugs into the other new line-in jack.

Now the output from any analog device {Turntable, Cassette Player, and Radio} can be recorded using the free Audacity program to be saved as digital files of any type (.wav & .mp3 are the most common).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Free Long Distance Digital Audio/Visual Communication

AT&T introduced the “Picturephone System" in 1964, you can read about it at this website:
AT&T charged $160.00 per month in 1964 [equivalent to $1228.55 per month in 2014] and of course only a few businesses could afford those prices, so it was a technology that never caught on with American society.

My Wife and myself originally signed up for Skype a few of years ago because our younger son was going to be spending several months overseas and we all wanted to be able to communicate with each other over that vast distance.

Well, being a person that doesn't want to put all their eggs in a single basket, I investigated what other FREE video services were available to a internet user.

Well there are three (3) FREE services that offer video & talking services over the internet;
2.) ooVoo
3.) Skype
{Did You KNOW that ooVoo Software System gives the users FREE 12 person video conferencing? Could be IDEAL for organizing family reunions, investment club meetings, and/or such!}

I recently made a video phone call via “Skype” with a good friend that I have known for 56 years that now resides 3000 miles away in California over the internet for FREE {costing really part of my monthly ISP fee} and I also recently happened to send an email to a U.S. Army Primary Flight School classmate, someone I have not seen or spoken to in forty-five (45) years, and then he placed a video/chat notice to me via Gmail and we spoke via "Google Video/Chat" for a good three quarters of an hour; he was in Germany and I was in the USA. It was very nice catching up with him about how our lives have transpired since serving together at Ft. Wolters, TX in 1969, also for FREE {again costing really part of my monthly ISP fee}. Finally, I also have video chatted with 'computer club' friend of mine that lives in the mid west using "ooVoo" software.

Anyone that has family and/or friends several hundreds of miles to several thousands of miles away, then I suggest that if it is at all possible, internet users should probably join each of these services to be able to hold voice and video communications with those friends. The reason I think that the prudent user should have ALL three (3) is because one never knows when one of the particular services may have an outage; it is always good to have a couple of back-ups!  
These internet visual communication services fits right into my new saying, "If its FREE, then it is for ME!"

The only equipment cost, other than my computer system, was $20.00 for a middle of the road 'Macally' web-cam bought on sale through "Amazon" several years ago.
The internet has really opened up the world of digital audio/visual communication to the general public way beyond anything that could have been imagined in the old analog audio/visual communication world first tried by AT&T. The world probably can thank DARPA and Steven Sasson, for by society combining their two discoveries has been the key to widespread digital audio/visual communication!