Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss The Office leaving Netflix for NBC’s own streaming service, Apple evaluating moving production from China, drones
Jason in Fairbanks, Alaska and asked: “I have some laptops and desktops that I want to donate to a charity, and I was wondering what is a cheap or free way to make sure that all the data is securely deleted from the hard drives?”
Jason, the first thing we should mention here is DoD 5220.22-M.
Plenty of software, free and otherwise will mention how they apply Department of Defense level security by wiping the drive to DoD 5220.22-M standards.
That standard basically consisted of writing all 0, then all 1, then something random with a check after each pass. There’s nothing wrong with that method, especially if several passes are involved, but keep in mind that it is misleading to clean DoD level encryption when offering that.
That method is not permitted by any member of the Cognizant Security Authority which includes the DoD, the Department of Energy, the CIA, and plenty of others as a way to secure a drive. No software-only method is allowed at all.
For your purposes, it’s probably more than enough, and you should mostly just try to choose a method that does as many passes as you have the patience for of random data, and there are plenty of solutions.
DBAN is probably worth a try, it’s been around forever, it will give you just about every data destruction option you can imagine, it doesn’t rely on an OS so it works on just about any computer and it’s free.
All of that goes for CBL data shredder too, except that it does offer a Windows UI in case you’d prefer to set things up from there.
Both should destroy your data beyond anything a casual user will be able to undo.
Lisa in Carey, North Carolina listens on 680AM WPTF and asked: “We would like to get my parents something for the doorbell so that when someone’s at the door they can see who’s there. They don’t have smartphones, so the Ring system wouldn’t work, so we need something that has a simple screen, something that can work wireless, something super simple. Just a camera that’s streaming from the front door would be perfect but I’ve looked and don’t see anything that is that simple.”
Lisa, the simples ones are a dying breed. People seem to be going for the smart ones these days and there’s a good reason for that: they cost about the same.
Having a quick look we found the MOUNTAINONE 7” which comes with a screen but doesn’t link up to a smartphone, for $130.
For around $80 to $150 we found plenty of others too, but it’s hard to tell you must about it because they all go roughly by the name of “Video doorbell with 7 inch monitor”.
It seems like no name brands are bothering to make them anymore, so we’re stuck with the generics.
The good news is that they are still out there, and plenty of the come with multiple screens so you can keep them in different rooms, but you’ll probably have to take some chances with some generics.
Donna in Townsend, Georgia listens on WBQO 93.7 FM and asked: “Is bluetooth an app that is in your phone that can be used with any vehicle, or does the vehicle have the bluetooth and you have to have a phone that is compatible? Can you use it in any vehicle?”
Donna, Bluetooth is a series of wireless standards. IEEE, the group that gave WiFi the 802.11 code, used to call Bluetooth the 802.15.2 standard, but they don’t anymore.
Bluetooth is just a near field communication standard and assuming both your phone and your car’s electronics adhere to it, they should be able to talk to each other. Any modern or not so modern phone will have it, as will most semi-modern cars, but there are still plenty of cars on the road that don’t support Bluetooth calling or Bluetooth audio, if yours is one of them, there are 3rd party adaptors you can buy to add that functionality.
If you don’t mind the expense, swapping out your stereo for one that supports Bluetooth natively usually works better.
Don in Labelle, Florida listens to the podcast and asked: “I wanted to know if I can use my smartphone for navigation without using data or should I just purchase a dedicated GPS device.”
Don, you don’t need data to access the satellites used for GPS, but you will need data to use the most popular smartphone navigation applications like Google and Apple Maps, Waze, etc.
There are fully offline GPS-like applications for phones, though they are not very common or very popular, and you can also download certain regions of a map with apps like Google Maps, so you may be able to get away with using your phone rather than a GPS device.
One big plus of sticking to your phone is that even if you download your map via WiFi and use it on the go from the phone’s own internal storage, you can always download more updates for free.
A downside of using your phone is that maps will use up big chunks of that precious internal storage.
If you’re planning on traveling long distances without data, you may be better off buying a cheap dedicated GPS, they’re not very expensive and it beats trying to find WiFi on the road to download the next piece of the map, otherwise you may be able to get away with using your phone. Even without a data plan.
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