FBI Enlists Geek Squad

By Tom Jackman January 9 
 
At a giant Best Buy repair shop in Brooks, Ky., Geek Squad technicians work on computers owned by people across the country, delving into them to retrieve lost data. Over several years, a handful of those workers have notified the FBI when they see signs of child pornography, earning payments from the agency.  Read full article at Washington Post
 
NOTE - In this case, the alleged files weree in "unallocated space" - they had been deleted.  The tech had to intentionlly scan for dleted files and would not have been able to see or recover them without special tools.

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How To Rack Mount a Behringer X32 Producer

The Behringer X32 Producer can be easily mounted into a 19 inch console rackmount or road case, however it isn't obvious and there is nothing in the Behringer manual.  

The X32 Producer ships for desktop use with rounded molded plastic sides.  In the box are two steel brackets with hole patterns that do not line up with the screw spacing om the sides.

 

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HP "Time Bomb" Locks Out 3rd Party Ink Cartridges

The Guardian Alex Hern
 
Hewlett-Packard printers have suddenly started rejecting ink cartridges produced or refilled by third parties, apparently due to a “ticking timebomb” left by the manufacturer in an update released in March 2016.
 
The printers, in the company’s OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro and OfficeJet Pro X ranges, accepted refills made by third-parties and sold at a significantly lower price than the official ink made and sold by HP itself. But on 13 September, the printers began to reject those refills, with error messages including “cartridge problem”, “one or more cartridges are missing or damaged” and “older generation cartridge”.
 
Adding insult to injury, the printers themselves have not received a software update recently, suggesting that the last update, six months ago, had a delayed-action effect. In doing so, it prevented affected users from getting the word out about the lockdown and discouraging others in a similar situation from updating their own printers.  read more...
 
UPDATE  HP issued a non-apology and made it possible for users to back out the change by applying patched firmware to their printers.  See the HP Blog Post. "As a remedy for the small number of affected customers, we will issue an optional firmware update that will remove the dynamic security feature. We expect the update to be ready within two weeks and will post additional information here as it becomes available".  Emphasis is mine.

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FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera & Nexus 5X Phone- Camera Not Recognized

Infrared image using FLIR camera

The FLIR ONE is a thermal imaging camera attachment for iOS and Android devices.  The FLIR model for Android uses a micro USB connector while several newer devices including the Nexus 5X employ the newer USB Type-C connector.  Many micro USB to USB Type-C adaptors do not support the 5X being the host and the FLIR being the device (using a USB C to C cable to a Mac, for example, the Mac is the host and the 5X is the device).   Using a non-compliant connector the FLIR ONE Android app does not see the camera.

The VicTsing USB 3.1 Type-C to Micro USB Convert Connector  does work with the Nexus 5X and FLIR ONE.  The FLIR app connects to the camera and appears to work well.

Web searches return warnings about using un-tested micro USB to USB C adaptors or USB Type-C to female micro USB cables for charging.  A good discussion by Geoff Hoff can be found here.  Using the app Current Monitor by Eric Johnson, the VicTsing USB 3.1 Type-C to Micro USB Convert Connector appears to be safe to use for charging.  The charge current started in FAST mode, then when the phone reached 95% charge it switched to TAPER mode and reduced current through 100%.  Nonetheless, I plan on using the adaptor only for the FLIR and sticking with the USB C charger that came with the Nexus 5X.

 

Thermal image of Max 

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Boosting Performace of Older Macs

Older MacBook Pro computers made between 2009 and 2012 are routinely retired because they seem slow or will not hold a charge.  These models can have several more useful years with some simple and inexpensive upgrades.  The newer models - like the mid 2012 has a CPU almost as fast as the 2015 models.  Apple has made major improvements in battery life and the beautiful retina display however the perceived speed hasn't changed much.  If you bought your son or daughter a shiny new Mac when they started college in 2012, that computer, with a few upgrades would be a perfect computer for their high school sibling.  

3 Simple Upgrades for about $250 can save you from buying a new $1,800 Mac.

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How to Create an OS/X USB Thumb-Drive Installer

Apple makes keeping your Mac software up-to-date a snap with the Updates feature of the Apple App Store App.  While upgrading from one version of OS/X to the next is usually successful, performance on older Macs that have had several updates can suffer.  A fresh install can provide the latest version of software without the downsides of multiple updates.  Another advantage of a fresh install is the oportunity to restore only the programs and data you really want.

Protecting Macs from Viruses and Malware

March 11, 2016

For many years, computer viruses and malware were mostly the concern of Windows users.  Mac users faced very few threats. This has been atributed to the Mac's sibgle digit market share and, some have argued, a more secure product.  One common misconception was that Macs were somehow imune from viruses and malware.  While the number of threats may pale in comparrisln to Windows, Macs are indeed suseptible to attack and more and more are appearing.  The time has come for Mac users to make secutity a priority.   

In the last few weeks, researchers have found the first Mac Ransomware malware in circulation.  Ransomware is software that encrypts the files on a computer making them unuseable to the owner.  The person controllling the malware then demnads a ransom to unencrypt the files.  In most cases, the victim has only 72 hours to pay or the ransom or the malware author threatens to eraswe the key that is needed to restore the files.  Regardless of the size of your business, the loss of data can be davastatiung.  

Add these new threats to hardware failures and theft and the need for a well thought out and executed computer protection plan is more important then ever.

You can find my Mac security recomendations here.

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