Posts Tagged ‘ hacking ’

How to hyper activate your USB Thumb Drive

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Nearly everyone of us carries around a flash drive with some of our important information with us. But flash drives have evolved, not only are they now growing in capacity and speed. But with a small push from the software industry the humble flash drive will play an important part in the whole cloud computing phenomenon. As applications move from computers to the cloud, it is quintessential for the applications of the desktop to move around a bit as well, with the user I mean. The applications that cannot (at the moment) be realized from the cloud need to be for the user to be able to use. They also need to essentially provide another important feature i.e. not to leave any files on the host computer once you take them to your friends place. This is essentially something that separates a normal application from a portable application.

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How did I get into this is also an interesting story, I work on a construction site and IT facilities there can be a little poor. Like restricted internet access for an hour a day with ridiculously slow download speeds. Anyway, the company where I work is considerably large and the IT department there had issues with things like virus on machines being transferred from USB drives, people installing malicious software accidentally etc. So they decided to have a restriction on installing anything on the computer. That started some issues with inaccessibility to software, legitimate open source software included. In that scenario I was forced to use only the software on that computer like, internet explorer (of which I am not a big fan) and Office, no image editing tools etc. I had to work on a few image editing assignments as well as could not stand to use Internet Explorer. I wanted either Chrome or Firefox, firefox being the second choice. So like always necessity is the mother of all inventions and finds. Well in that scenario I tried to look for software that I could use without installing it, and walla a whole new world of portable apps greeted me.

The portable application suites that are available are built in such a way that you do not need to actually worry about your information being left on another computer, you plug in your USB into another computer, run the application and once your work is done; remove the USB and you are done. In fact there are applications that keep the data in the USB encrypted so in case you lose the USB drive the person who finds it will definitely not be able to see any information that is on the thumb drive.

If you have not been looking at the portable apps world, you will be surprised to see and know the vast libraries of applications that are already available either official releases from the companies who are making the software themselves, like firefox portable etc, and then there are unofficial releases done by Portable Application enthusiasts. Most of them work like a breeze. Essentially portable apps are available as individual applications but for starters or to better organize the portable apps on your thumb drive, it is better to use an application launcher like portableapps.com, liberkey, or geekmenu. Then there are those that come preloaded onto USB drives like the U3, which comes standard on all Sandisk drives; which although are not open source but definitely free with their drives.

Today not only do you get portable applications but also complete Operating systems that are portable on USB drives called Live USB. In fact windows 7 can be ported into your USB to make a portable windows 7 OS Drive.  Well enough spoken about these nifty tools, let me just add some links for you guys to check them out.

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These flash drives  make a great Holidays present to your geek friend also 😉 Load in one of the above mentioned portable app launcher and some apps for a great surprise. In case you cannot find your favorite application yet, then you can in fact create your own. Package factory is a portable application creator for the U3 launcher system. They claim that they can convert any application into a portable application, let’s hope it works. Check out the Package Factory here. Some of my favorite tools on my USB drive at the moment that I really use would be, Gimp portable, Sketch Up portable, Chrome Portable as well as Firefox portable, VLC portable, Picasa 3 Portable, Keepass portable, Thunderbird portable, Sunbird portable, convert All portable and last but not the least 7-zip portable.  Most of these from the POrtableapps.com launcherAll awesome tools that let me do a lot without having to install them on my machine.  Have also installed recently Opera tor portable which helps me access Flickr at work, which is essentially blocked in the UAE. Although I have to admit, for the one hour of slow browsing, Opera Tor is not really ideal. I hope someone makes a good chrome extension to mimic the performance of tor.

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Technology and Networks in the Military

Sparked by the Dubai Air show, and the awesome display of the aircrafts here, I began to think what the future of the warfare would be like. We are seeing a different sort of a conflict resolution in the world already, The U.S playing big brother in the world trying to have a say in all the internal issues of countries is a growing concern among nations. This was evident when the U.S president bought over the topic of unrest in Tibet and the Xinjiang province. The “Minority Report” style of operations (like foreseeing the conflict that Iraq may pose with its alleged WMD’s) that was employed by the U.S to attack Iraq was something of a game changer, not only is the result a bad reference for the U.S but a definite setback to similar thinking processes.

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The entire shift of conflicts now is spearheaded world over through the keyword “terrorism”. Most conflicts starting from the Sri Lankan siege on the LTTE or the worldwide attack on Al Qaeda are all terrorism related. The good old days of the cold war don’t seem to be in sight, when one country used espionage on another country to get information in peace time to have an upper hand during “war” time. On the surface it looks like it is a dying form of warfare or has it just moved from the physical to the virtual.

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Analysts say China employs a constantly shifting mix of official and civilian or semicivilian groups (such as so-called patriotic hacker associations) as the foot soldiers — the “proxies” — in its cyberwar armies. The technological challenges of tracing attacks on U.S. government and private-corporation computers are so enormous that Beijing can simply deny that any of the problems have originated in China. If you cannot identify the source you cannot deter the attack. So far, the Chinese have been able to get away with it, despite the fact that not just the U.S. is complaining. In the past few years, sources ranging from the German Chancellor’s office to government mainframes as far afield as New Zealand and Belgium have made loud public allegations that they had been the subject of cyberinfiltration from China, all to no avail.

If U.S. officials try to raise the issue of what they believe is a constant and growing campaign by China to infiltrate U.S. networks, steal secrets and hone Beijing’s ability to wreak havoc in case of military conflict, the likelihood is that Chinese officials will simply deny that the problem exists, as they have done with great success in the past. From the American point of view, there’s unfortunately currently little Washington can do to change that state of affairs.

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Since I am from one of China’s neighbors, India, this might not be something we might be losing sleep over, today. But definitely as technological advancements trickle down into the heart of the military operations in India this might be something that we need to worry about, but unlike a country like the U.S, our inability of implementation of these technologies in the military sector might be a sort of a boon in disguise. The websites of the Indian armed forces are a faint shadow of their counterparts in the U.S or Europe.

With less networking between the bases, the Indian Armed forces rely on less “low tech” communication methods than the rest of the superpower militaries. Although having declaring itself a nuclear state with the capability of producing a nuclear weapon in 18 months, It has begun indigenously manufacturing its own weaponry only in the late 90’s and the 2000’s.

One could write a whole lot about the pros of technology in the military, I am quite contended that India is on the ‘not-so-advanced’ list. For now …

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