Tech Talk #46 – March 4, 2017

Ransomware sneaks onto your computer by either tricking you into opening an attachment or by subverting ads on websites you visit.


Once on your computer, ransomware modifies your files by creating an encrypted copy of a file and then deleting the original file. It does this to all of your files, and holds them for ransom; you have to pay to get your pictures and documents back.


A new player in the anti-ransomware space is RansomFree by Cybereason. RansomFree watches the file-related processes running on your computer looking for suspicious behavior. Instead of relying on known attack signatures, Ransomware should be able to protect you against the older known ransomware and any new ransomware by monitoring file activities and letting you know when something is modifying your files. If something is going on that you started, you can click on the No – Let it run button. But if your computer shouldn’t be doing anything with files, you can click the Yes – Stop & clean the threat button to stop the ransomware from doing your system any harm.


It’s a new product, but early tests have shown it does what it says it can do.


It’s free, and you can download it here:



Reboot your Kindle, too

Sometimes our computers get slow and start not responding to our requests – well, more like insistent demands in my case. Anyway, we can’t try to get their attention by shaking them by the shoulders; or can we?


It’s an old joke by now, but turning it off and then back on again is the equivalent of shaking your computer by the shoulders to get its attention.


Turning it off and back on works on Kindles, Galaxy Tabs, iPads, and other tablets, too.



Hard drive history

In 1956, IBM introduced the first computer with a hard disk drive (HDD), the RAMAC. RAMAC stood for Random Access Method of Accounting and Control and included the IBM 350 storage system. The RAMAC was a room-sized computer, and the storage system was about the size of two refrigerators. The HSS system had 50 24 inch platters storing about 5 megabytes (MB) of data. Since IBM leased the RAMAC computer system to a customer, that 5MB of storage cost about $3,200 a month. In 1956 dollars.


To sell more computers, IBM made their computer smaller, and the storage systems got smaller, too. In the early ‘60s, IBM came up with removable storage systems. The IBM 1311 Disk Storage Drive was about the size of a dishwasher and used Disk Packs of large, sealed plastic cases with handles on the top and 9” hard drive platters inside. Each Disk Pack could store about 2MB of data.


With the System/360, IBM made various storage options and to make them all work with one system they created a standardized HDD interconnect. The standardized connector allowed other manufacturers to start creating HDDs.


Early personal computers (PCs) didn’t come with any internal storage, relying on perforated paper tape or audio cassettes. In 1980, Shugart Technology introduced a 5.25” HDD with a 5MB capacity and a price tag of $1,500 for PCs. Shugart Technology later changed its name to Seagate Technology.


Through the 80’s and 90’s 5.25” drives gave way to 3.5” drives for desktop PCs and saw the introduction of 2.5” drives for laptops. Platter speeds increased from 3,250 RPM to to 5,400 RPM to 7,200, and 10,000 RPM.


Interfaces changed, too, to get information from the hard drive to the computer faster. It’s an alphabet of acronyms: IDE, SCSI, ATA, SATA, PCIe. Capacities climbed as new platter and storage technologies developed, from 40MB to current HDDs of 8TB and more to come.


After a 60-year run, hard drives are being replaced by modern RAM-based storage systems. Solid State Drives, or SSDs, use FLASH memory to store data instead of spinning platters. Thin laptops, tablets, and smartphones all use an SSD for internal storage. Since these devices outsell traditional desktop and laptop systems, SSD storage is currently the best selling storage medium.



Tired of looking out the window?

Here are some webcams that might improve your view:

Yosemite, CA:

Venice, Italy:

Time Square, NYC:

Space Shuttle:



Tech thought for the week

When Apple finally makes a car, do you think it will have Windows?



Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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