Disk recovery, lost keys, TV tracking
Bob's Tech Talk
August 1, 2019
Q. My computer was crushed in an accident. I was able to rescue the drive from the wreckage, but how do I copy my files onto a new computer?
A. This can be a surprisingly complex task. Simply installing the old drive into a new computer will not work. The contents have to be migrated onto the new drive.
Assuming you have a bare drive from the original computer, the first thing you will need is a new enclosure. These are typically inexpensive and can be found easily online. Check the ports on your new computer and choose an enclosure that has a matching USB connector. Also be sure to match the drive’s connector to the connector inside the enclosure.
Now comes the really hard part: selecting which files to copy. Both Apple and Microsoft have free migration utilities, but success depends on many factors. Some apps will not migrate due to restrictions, and there is also a challenge in identifying which files contain vital bits of data. The nature of apps is why moving each one could be considered a unique job.
While I understand that computer repair services can be costly, unless you have your data backed up already, data migration is probably a job best left to a professional (or a very knowledgeable friend).
Q. Do those keychain tags that locate your keys with the help of a smartphone really work?
A. Tracking devices made by companies like Trackr, Tile and Cube can be useful in some situations, but they come with significant limitations.
For readers unfamiliar with this type of product, they are small battery-powered radio tags that report their location to your smartphone.
The tags can attach to almost anything, from a key ring to a pet. When accessed via an app on your smartphone, the location of the tag is displayed on a map.
Most of these products are on their second generation, and the prices have become more affordable. Some early models often did not have replaceable batteries, which made them expensive paperweights after a short time.
The tag’s radio transmitters are not especially powerful, so they do not always show up. Moreover, the tags do not include a GPS, so they can only approximate their location. And since they are communicating with your cell phone, unless they are relatively close to the phone, their functionality is limited. For example, you probably cannot find Fido out roaming the neighborhood.
These devices work best when finding misplaced items near your phone. Instead of using the map, you can command the tag to emit a sound to help reveal where it is hiding.
Q. Is there a way to keep my so-called “Smart” TV from tracking what I watch? Is there such a thing as a “dumb” TV?
A. Unfortunately, no.
Although preventing a smart TV from connecting to the internet can help.
One reason large screen, feature-laden televisions are affordable is because they are subsidized by other revenue streams, such as watching you.
Welcome to the era of surveillance capitalism.
In recent years several TV manufacturers have been caught quietly snitching on their owners, while others admit to collecting data but blur the behavior with innocent-sounding privacy policies.
The issue is not just smart TVs. Practically every video viewing experience includes some degree of personal tracking.
Until such time as regulations catch up with the technology, it is best to assume any TV connected to the internet is talking to someone about you.
Your only defense is to make sure that the TV is isolated, that it cannot attach to the Internet in any way, shape or form. This can be a challenge, since some TVs seem to require an Internet connection in order to operate at all.
The sad reality is that clunky workarounds can minimize tracking, but escaping it entirely is impossible.
The internet has become a surveillance engine whose momentum seems both unstoppable and unavoidable.
Wander the Web
One of my personal favorites, this site started in 2003 with a simple idea: pair high quality, achievable recipes with mouth-watering food photographs. http://www.simplyrecipes.com
Fly along with two air traffic controllers in a Cessna 310 and watch over their shoulders as they fly instrument approaches, attend air shows, take a vacation in the Bahamas, and much more. This is an ideal inside look at private aviation.
Apollo 11 Experience
This website explores the electrifying journey to land the first person on the moon. Experience the sights, sounds and stories as they were recorded in 1969. http://www.apolloinrealtime.org/11/
A tech enthusiast his entire life, Bob can be contacted at email@example.com.