Wednesday, October 1, 2014

BEWARE Flash Drives Can Deliver Computer Viruses

The majority of us these days no longer use disks to share files since the advent of flash drives. Instead most now share via thumb drives inserted into the USB port. Along with it comes new dangers from viruses and malware.

The number one danger comes from leaving a thumb drive inserted while booting up. This can allow these bad guys to reprogram the USB firmware. Once that happens even a clean install from scratch won't solve the problem. So it's important to take precautions that will prevent this from happening in the first place.

The first line of defense is to disable the "autoplay" feature in windows. (1) On the start menu type in the word "autoplay" (w/o the quotes)
(2) Uncheck the box "Use Autoplay for all media and devices".

The second line of defense is to have really good antivuris protection software installed. In my case I use 'Norton'. So this suggestion is specific to it. Go the 'settings' menu and make sure the settings are what you see here. Specifically "Auto Protect- Removable Media Scan" and "Enable Boot Time Protection".

Note I also changed my boot time protection to "aggressive". The reason for that is Norton starts scanning at the earliest time possible after the power button is pushed.

Contaminated Flash Drives Can Contain The Following Risks..
Opening up files on a thumb drive may not always be caught by a antivirus program. They may not even show up as they set about to infect the computer. Some will install commands that will start a set of instructions on the next boot up. Those instructions exploit a weakness found in nearly every computer that allows the USB firmware to be updated w/o oversight with whatever the hacker designed it to do. Once that happens it cannot be removed. As far as I know there is no known 100% effective method to rid it.

Some things it said that this hack can do is..(1) Emulate keyboard commands. Thusly opening the system up creating all kinds of unimaginable havoc without the operator pressing a single key. Thus allowing it reproduce and propagate itself who knows where by issuing a set of keyboard commands unknown to the user while it's happening. It can also record keystrokes in the background undetected. Thus recording passwords, and whatever else a user may be doing through the keyboard.

(2) Create a fake network When computers look for a network they will always look first for a wired network controller before a wireless one, hence go to the fake. This spoofed network then can remain undetected while it forwards everything first through the malware before sending signals to the wireless. All this happens invisibly in the background undetected by the user. The danger in all this lies within the DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server. The function of which is to spoof the DNS (domain name system) every computer uses to go online.. This allows a hacker receive a users information on everything they do online, while at the same time remaining invisible while it's happening.

I suggest before anyone plugs in another flash drive again to first change all those settings I recommended. Then when the thumb drive is plugged in run a virus scan on it manually even if it's brand new right out of the box. Use this procedure to check all the flash drives laying around even if they've been used before in the computer. This to be sure it's not already too late for you.

I further suggest if you want to go one step further, just to be sure something is not still hiding on a flash disk (even a new one), "format" it before clicking on it. Just remember 'formatting' will erase everything on the drive. Even the files already stored on it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Better Way To Do Hi-Rise Apartments

One of the things I have against renting is feeling like many are nothing more then chicken coops warehousing people. Especially the hi-rises. This guy has some ideas which could change my entire outlook of them and make me want to live in one.

What follows is Moshe Safdie speaking about how to reinvent the apartment building at a 'TED' conference in Vancouver this past March."In 1967, Moshe Safdie reimagined the monolithic apartment building, creating “Habitat ’67,” which gave each unit an unprecedented sense of openness.

In this short talk, Safdie surveys a range of projects that do away with the high-rise and let light permeate into densely-packed cities."

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hospital Financial Trap Even When Patients Insured

Elisabeth Rosenthal | New York Times--
Costs Can Go Up Fast When E.R. Is in Network but the Doctors Are Not"... Texas demanded some data from insurers last year, they learned that up to half of the hospitals that participated with UnitedHealthcare, Humana and Blue Cross-Blue Shield — Texas’s three biggest insurers — had no in-network emergency room doctors. Out-of-network payments to emergency room physicians accounted for 40 to 70 percent of the money spent on emergency care at in-network hospitals.."
I wrote about this before, but felt it worth reminding people of this financial trap again. While this article specifically mentions the E.R. past experience indicates this can be a problem patients may run into with any of the doctors throughout their treatment.

What Can you Do About it?
Not much. Anyone who's ever experienced the medical system can attest how many doctors confusingly end up getting involved. A patient who's treatment becomes complicated is often referred to other hospitals in other cities for specialized treatment. Unless someone at their most vulnerable moment has an outside expert 'medical advocate' who they can afford or are BFF's with one who can look out for them chances are after recovering from what ails, they'll need a whole lot of financial recovery afterwards as well.

So much for the private sector policing itself
It would be really swell if legislators got off their rumps and passed some regulations. Regulations could come in one of two forms. Either require all doctors working at a in-network hospital actually be in one. Or at the very least require hospitals to notify patients which doctors are not part of their plan. I don't think the latter is to much to ask even for those who favor less government.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Park Creeks Which Would You Rather?

Bethlehem's Monocacy Park with it's dams & gabions


Allentown's Parkway with it's riparian buffers?

Nobody's saying neither the Monocacy, Cedar Creek nor Little Lehigh should be gabion lined completely. But it would certainly be more attractive then if there were none at all. Same goes with removing every last dam (including teeny tiny partial rock dams no matter how small).

The 'Little Lehigh Creek is 24 miles long. It flows through the Lehigh Parkway in Allentown which is 6.5 miles long. I'd be quite certain a few gabion areas here and there for a mile or two wouldn't be catastrophic. The same goes for Cedar Creek which is 15 miles long. Only about 1.5 miles of it runs through the Cedar Beach area in Allentown.

What sets the Cedar Beach area apart (with it's riparian buffers) is the fact street drains flow directly into the creek behind them. Street runoff comes from South of Hamilton street to beyond North of Tilghman street for almost this entire length. Hence creating no mow zones and riparian buffers in this area is practically useless. They serve only to take away visitor's access and views.

The following chart is from a 1976 study done by Lehigh University entitled, Storm water management for little lehigh and cedar creek drainage basins.

The Point I'm Trying To Make Is...
There's no reason why certain parks in designated areas can't be both visually appealing and readily accessible along their embankments. By utilizing gabions in areas where embankments are prone to reoccurring erosion (despite riparian implantation) they require no maintenance and last for decades. Because of riparian buffers' tendency towards invasive plant species neither would this be a concern.

Is this about environmental science or political science?
You decide.

No one has spoken more about this subject then "Molovinsky On Allentown". Check out some of his posts concerning riparian buffers. In particular check out his picture post showing just one of the street drains going into Cedar Creek.

Manhunt For Eric Frein

AP Photo/Scranton Times & Tribune, Michael J. Mullen

Laura MCCrystal, Inquirer Staff Writer-- "Police presence that intensified Saturday afternoon escalated Sunday morning in a rural neighborhood."

A couple of things are worth noting..
     (1) How many 100,00's of manhour$ have been allocated to his capture?
     (2) When was the last time police went to this much effort for other victims of a shooting?
     (3) How many cops were taken away from their other duties?

Don't get me wrong I'm concerned when a officer gets ambushed. However, dedicating this much time, money and effort is leaving other areas unprotected. Either that or there are too many law enforcers employed then are ordinarily needed elsewhere.

It ought to be interesting to see what the total tab to taxpayers is for this.

Today's New York Post Front Page

Robert Plant Does Doo Wop

Here's something you don't see everyday..

Just goes to show what a great vocalist he truly is!

For those unaware Robert Plant is on world tour. This in conjunction with his latest solo album of original songs entitled "The Ceaseless Roar" available on Amazon or at iTunes.

Robert Plant- The Sensational Space Shifters perform 'Rainbow' live (from the new release)
Recorded at Hydrogen Festival/Padova, Italy & Colours of Ostrava/Czech Republic

Of the upcoming 19 tour dates announced 12 have already been sold out word wide. There are only 5 upcoming show dates announced here in the United States. Three of them are already sold out. Two in Brooklyn and one in Chicago. Leaving only two not sold out... Denver and Los Angeles.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Nielson's Top 10 (Week of Sept 8, 2014)

Below is a screen shot of top 10 most viewed TV shows for the week of September 8, 2014

6 are football related. 3 have nothing to do with current events. Only '60 Minutes' (#5) has anything to do with what goes on around us.

The point is, which programs do you think TV executives will invest the larger portion of their network's budgets for in the future?

Cable users are charged by these networks for the rights to broadcast them into homes. Hope people like sports and are fans, cause they'll be charged more on their cable bills for them.

'MOD MILL' Reunion 2014

Jerry Deane announced Our Next and Biggest Reunion 2014"In keeping with the tradition of “Peace, Love and Music”, the regulars of the Mod Mill, a club for young adults in Center Valley from 1967 to 1970, will “Get Together” again Sunday, November 9th at the Meadows in Hellertown, PA. Doors will open at 5:30 and the party is over at 10....

There will be a large dance floor and special guests who played in the original Mod Mill bands, will occasionally appear on stage with the Flowerheads..."

Anyone who hung out at the former 'Mod Mill' in Center Valley (1967-1970) and is interested can check out the link above for more information with all the details.

A Prior Post On This Blog,
      Remember The Mod Mill?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Highest Grossing Production Of All Time

The Daily Mail-- 'The Lion King' musical named highest-grossing production of all time, with $6.2billion in box-office sales

It's been on Broadway 17 years come Oct.15, 2014.

We went to see this musical in 2001 while it was still playing at New Amsterdam Theatre before they moved it to the Minskoff Theatre in June of 2006.

The show came to the live stage 3 years after the animated movie.

There are so many elements that made this one of the best musicals we've ever seen. The costumes. The musical scores. Staging design. All complimented each and other. It pleases me to hear this show has done so well. Perhaps by it doing do well it will serve as an example to others of what audiences most seek out.

Many shows have come and gone since that time. I think this lasted so long because of it's originality, positive theme as well as absolutely unbelievable musical scores that appeal to all age groups.

The Broadway Cast Takes Over NYC Subway and Sings 'Circle Of Life'

May 'The Lion King' Live Long For Many More Years!