Monthly Archives: October 2016

Take Your Junk With You – Mobile Storage Devices

Mobile storage devices come in many shapes, sizes and capacity, but they can be broadly categorized into two: flash-based and hard disk-based. Flash memory refers to solid-state, non-volatile memory chips, while disk-based storage uses spinning magnetic disk platters to store information.

Flash memory based storage devices can be further categorized into two: the USB flash drives (also known as thumb drives or USB drives) and flash memory cards. USB flash drives are small, solid-state devices (which means there are no moving parts) that look like key fobs, and they use type A USB 1.1 or 2.0 interfaces, which allow users to mount them to a USB port. USB flash drives work with most operating system and are hot swappable, meaning they can be removed from a computer without rebooting it. Prices and capacity, from 128 MB up to 8 GB, are directly related.

Memory cards are postage stamp-size storage devices used in personal digital assistants, MP3 players, video game consoles, digital cameras and laptops. Like the USB flash drives, they also use flash memory. Memory cards as also non-volatile (which means that it retains data even without power), and removable. They also come in several formats; among them are Compact Flash, Multi Media Card, Reduced Sized MMC, Secure Digital (SD), SmartMedia Card, xD-Picture Card and Memory Stick. Capacity for memory cards range from 32 MB to 8 GB. Hard disk-based mobile storage solutions are hard disk-based; therefore they have bigger capacities, starting from 80 gigabytes up to 1 terabyte. These devices can be connected to the computer via a USB interface or FireWire (IEEE 1394).

Shy away from any that offers only USB 1.1 interface, as it will be slower than a spelling bee of stutterers. When choosing one, bear in mind that you should balance your choice between the drive’s capacity, reliability and price.

It’s An Emergency – Call BartPE

I found myself needing to ghost over a PC the first day on the job at a new company.

Come to find out, that they didn’t have a ghost server or any knowledge of ghost. Not wanting to spend too much time on this little project, I remembered using Bart PE to boot systems and recover data off of them. After tracking it down from a Google search, I proceeded to build my own CD and boot to it. Within no time I was ghosting over and had the entire job complete before I could have even tracked down an installation of ghost and setup the server and so on. The best part is that there are so many built in functions on the PE CD that I haven’t even seen them all or used them all. But having them close by helps.

Tilda Terminal

I often want to use a command prompt for a simple command, entering a relatively short text command rather than perform several clicks with the mouse around the screen (and then have to enter some text in a text box often).

On both Windows systems and Linux systems one can easily open a anew window to run the command. On Linux however, there are other solutions, and one that I use is a program called Tilda. Basically the program runs invisibly in the background until you press Tilda’s hotkey. A small command prompt window then slides down from the top of your screen and you can enter your command. Press the hotkey again and the window slides out of the way again. Tilda is a very simple program to use, but, the more “helpful” operating systems get, the more useful I find it.

Panda Nanoscan

I just came across a new anti-malware tool, called “Panda Nanoscan”, and accessible at

“Well, that’s what I call YAST” (Yet Another Scanning Tool), I thought at first. I decided to test it, anyway. The neat web 2.0 interface is composed of three main elements: a statistical tool called “infex” at the top left, where several data about infected computers are shown; a few navigation links at the bottom, where you can access different secondary pages like a blog, gadgets to add nanoscan to your personalized homepages, etc; and finally, a button that would “Nanoscan my PC”. After clicking on that button, I was asked to install an ActiveX component developed by Panda, which I of course did (it took a bit less than one minute). As soon as installation was done, the scanning process started, and.. know what? It took only 54 seconds! I repeated the process twice, and it took 20 and 24 secs. I looked at the documentation, and learnd that it looks for running malware, so it seems to be checking active processes only, but anyhow it was quite an impressive result, considering that it searched for more than two million malware variants. After showing the results, it recommends running a more in-depth scanning with other tools, inlcuding a full system scan, which I also tested, but that might be covered in a different post. Oh, by the way, my computer was, as I expected, free of any unwanted malware specimens.