Helping our ETS Community

Posted by: chaosmagnet

Helping our ETS Community - 03/21/20 07:29 PM

Do you need help with something while youíre sheltering in place? Iím honestly not sure what we as a group can actually do for any of our members besides providing companionship, expertise and advice, but I for one am willing to try.

Hereís an example of how we can communicate on this matter:

Needs: The Magnet family is fine, weíre a little cooped up and have some concerns about our security situation degrading, but currently itís not a big worry.

Wants: Ideas on how to get my teenagers to be less difficult. Weíre not doing too badly there overall.

How I can help others: Iím an IT and cybersecurity professional, long-time ham radio operator, reasonably good with electronics and small engines, and the lead trainer on preparedness topics for my local CERT and for my local training collective. Iím also a firearms instructor and have started providing basic familiarization training via FaceTime for new gun owners. There may be other things that I can do that it hasnít occurred to me to list here.


chaosmagnet
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/21/20 09:09 PM

Chaos, a lot of people have kids at home now, needing onine school access and free games. I know several who have spare Win7 machines but are scared to turn the kids loose on them now that support has ended.

Any thoughts on locking down a Win7 box as much as possible to reduce the risk?
Posted by: nursemike

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/21/20 09:28 PM

Raised 4 teenagers, had to sit out some road closure 3 day blizzards with them: I feel your pain.

Teens have the task of distancing themselves from the parental dependence of their earlier childhood, and establishing themselves as independent adults which involves firmly rejecting parental behavior and slavishly adopting peer group behavior.

It might be good for them to hear that this is not a trivial exercise in governmental or parental control designed merely to ruin their lives. We are under attack from a lethal pathogen. We need to ranger up and acknowledge that people we know will be very sick or dead as a result of this attack, and that our actions right now will determine how many are sick in three weeks.

Maybe they need what we all need, and what you have offered in your post: a chance to move away from self-absorption and into an orientation of helping others. They could work on contacting their friends and making sure that their heads are in an okay place. Maybe find a church youth group that is doing a live youtube chat group, or some other techno-magic beyond my poor power to imagine. Or a atheist/agnostic youth group, tho those are harder to find. Maybe a project around the homestead,or an exercise in cleaning all the firearms in the house.

Or maybe not. I wasn't all that good with my kids in the crunch. YMMV
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 12:46 AM

Good question, dougwalkabout. Unfortunately, home and corporate users should not use Windows 7 for any purpose moving forward. Windows 7 PCs need to be upgraded (if possible) or replaced without delay. I have customers with industrial control system software that cannot run on modern operating systems; while replacing that ICS software with something new is strongly preferred, if they totally airgap those networks and prohibit things USB flash drives and other mechanisms to move files, it can work as a stopgap. Note that Iran tried that kind of security for their nuclear material enrichment program and failed.

In my professional opinion one cannot lock down a Win7 PC enough to make it worthwhile in a home network.

Excellent observations, Nursemike. Our youngest, dramamagnet, is being rather more obstreperous than the others, but a 5mile bike ride seemed to take the edge off. Dramamagnet will be doing more of that tomorrow whether they want to or not.

For me, Iím improving my ham radio capability so that I can reach friends who are further away. We can exchange information if nothing else. Today I used a new mast with a 2M J-pole antenna and had surprisingly good results. My plan is to work on improving my HF skills soon. Two others in my household are also hams, but they donít seem to be as interested in working on that skill right now.
Posted by: KenK

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 01:22 AM

Sadly, the biggest thing on my mind lately involves home/personal protection from sudden, expected break-in ... and that steps outside forum rules. We are so removed from neighbors and assistance that even the wife thinks about it.
Posted by: KenK

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 01:26 AM

CM,
Can something like a Chromebook provide internet access with less concerns about nasties???
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 02:02 AM

Chaos, thanks, that matches my understanding. (And don't get me started on ancient home routers ....)

So, the options are:

1) Dual boot with Linux, assuming they need files and offline access to installed Win7 software

2) Try the quietly still-available upgrade tool from Microsoft. I used this late last year on four systems. Two were compatible, and are now on Win10. Two were not compatible, but the current installer is quite intelligent and restored them to Win7. Very slick and capable, unlike the initial offering way back when.

for USA
https:// www. microsoft. com/en-us/software-download/windows10

for Canada
https:// www. microsoft. com/en-ca/software-download/windows10

3) Try the PC-to-Chromebook conversion. Said to work, but security is a question mark.
Posted by: M_a_x

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 08:09 AM

If you can go with Linux and maybe burn media, Knoppix may be an option. It is free and runs entirely from a read only medium. That way you do not need to bother with potitial trouble form installing a dual boot system and your OS cannot be compromised by internet nasties.
If it does not run on your current machine, you still have your unchanged setup.
Should you really like it, it offers an option to install AFAIK. The installed version is not read only though.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 11:48 AM

Originally Posted By: KenK
Sadly, the biggest thing on my mind lately involves home/personal protection from sudden, expected break-in ... and that steps outside forum rules. We are so removed from neighbors and assistance that even the wife thinks about it.


Discussion of the use of firearms and related self-defense topics is acceptable here. Discussion of firearms politics or unlawful activities would not be.



chaosmagnet
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 11:57 AM

I should have said this earlier: Before making any changes, be sure that you have a current backup of anything you need on the laptop. Double and triple checking is not wrong.

ChromeOS (the PC to Chromebook option) is a good choice and itís rare to see them get compromised.

Upgrading to Win10, if your hardware supports it, is a good option. Iíve had mixed results with the free upgrade tool of late.

If you choose Linux, you may have some learning to do. Iíd suggest you pick a distribution thatís easy to use ó this article seems to give good advice: https://itsfoss.com/best-linux-beginners/.

I do not recommend dual boot to Win7 ó instead Iíd recommend backing up all the files you need twice and then copying them back onto the laptop after whatever change you make. Why twice? Well, letís just say that ďchaosmagnetĒ long predates my time here on ETS, and I donít think thereís a way to break a PC or lose data that I havenít seen (or caused!).

If you need access to data that can only be read by a Windows application and cannot upgrade to Win10 in place, you should probably consider buying a new laptop with Win10.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 02:09 PM

Excellent link, Chaos. I have to check out Zorin.

I'm currently running Linux Mint Mate on more capable systems, and Lubuntu on ancient 32-bit systems.

In fact, I'm typing this on a ThinkPad T60 running Lubuntu 18.04, and it's plenty snappy for general web surfing. (The T60 is 14 years old. The official list price in 2006 was $2,799 USD!)
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 03:11 PM

Nice!
Posted by: pforeman

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 04:50 PM

This is a great idea!

I'm not sure what I could do to help... but with that - I've retired so have the time and interest. I got the BS and MS both in education and spent early life in a high school classroom and then the majority in 'training' a bit in the private sector and most in a government criminal justice environment.

I let most every certification lapse at retirement in July but still have the AHA Instructor Trainer card & NRA Instructor creds too. So... Lesson Plans? lots & templates to build your own too. I did a bunch of on-line elearning development and may have some thing for that too - and it forced me to also learn a lot about computer basics and making my desktop run.

Started to work with Ham radio but know just enough about that with my Tech license to know I'm fairly clueless but working on it! One resource I've used: https://www.khanacademy.org/ where some of you home-bound folks may find some ideas too.

So - if I can help with anything to assist our community, please let me know.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 05:22 PM

Thank you pforeman!
Posted by: UTAlumnus

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 08:37 PM

Have they added any processors since Win10 originally came out? I've got an old laptop that ran well on Win7 but the processor wasn't supported when Win10 first released.
Posted by: Jeanette_Isabelle

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 09:55 PM

Originally Posted By: UTAlumnus
Have they added any processors since Win10 originally came out? I've got an old laptop that ran well on Win7 but the processor wasn't supported when Win10 first released.

What processor does it have? Windows 10 requires a 1 Gh Pentium III or equivalent.

Jeanette Isabelle
Posted by: haertig

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 10:00 PM

I got my Tech license, was in the General class, but then that got canceled due to the virus. frown So I'll get General sooner or later, realistically not for a few months at least. Even if I studied at home, I believe all the testing has to be done in person - and all the VE exams around here have been canceled too.

Doesn't really matter though. I don't have an HF rig and won't for quite a while. Tech privileges are all I need right now. All's I have is a 2m/70cm handheld. FWIW, after a bit of testing side by side, I conclude that a Yaesu FT-60R absolutely stomps a Baofeng UV-5R in performance and usability. Both improve greatly with a better antenna installed. The club I joined gave us newbies that took their class and joined the club a free Baofeng. The Yaesu is one that a friend let me borrow. I will be buying my own FT-60R shortly. I really like the features and performance of that handheld, even though it is quite an old design and doesn't have all the latest digital technology (something i don't care about).

[edit]

Adding the text from pforeman's post that I was responding to above. I forgot to quote it originally, and I'm sure many were wondering how in the heck my post about HAM radio ended up in this thread!

Originally Posted By: pforeman
Started to work with Ham radio but know just enough about that with my Tech license to know I'm fairly clueless but working on it! One resource I've used: https://www.khanacademy.org/ where some of you home-bound folks may find some ideas too.


[/edit]
Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 10:11 PM

I have the Yaesu FT-60R in my Amazon cart! To be totally fair though it should be better than the Baofeng for eight times the price. I bought my Baofeng 5Rs for $20 each.
Posted by: haertig

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/22/20 10:17 PM

Make sure Amazon is an approved distributor for Yaesu. I have read that with some brands, with some merchants, there can be warranty issues for non-approved distributors. I don't know for the specific case of Yaesu and Amazon though.

Another place to consider buying from is HRO, they are definitely an authorized distributor.

https://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-007323

p.s. The "Signal Stick" antenna from the outfit below is well regarded in my area. I am very happy with its performance on both the Baofeng and the Yaesu. Note: For a Baofeng your need an SMA-female connector, for the Yaesu you need an SMA-male. You can also just pick one or the other connector and buy an adapter so the antenna can be used on either the Yaesu or the Baofeng. The website also sells these adapters, but IIRC, you have to search around a bit to find them.

https://signalstuff.com/antennas/

p.p.s. - The antenna website also sells a little rubber washer you can use with the antenna. You don't need that washer for an FT-60R.

p.p.s.s. - (is "p.p.s.s." even a real thing?) The FT-60R at Amazon shows as $189 with $7.60 shipping when I look it up. It is $149 with free shipping if bought directly from HRO. It appears that the Amazon seller is HRO, and I don't know why it costs so much more to buy it through Amazon than direct from them.
Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/23/20 12:12 AM

Good to know, thanks!
Posted by: Doug_Ritter

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/23/20 03:45 AM

Originally Posted By: haertig

p.p.s.s. - (is "p.p.s.s." even a real thing?) The FT-60R at Amazon shows as $189 with $7.60 shipping when I look it up. It is $149 with free shipping if bought directly from HRO. It appears that the Amazon seller is HRO, and I don't know why it costs so much more to buy it through Amazon than direct from them.


Because they have to pay Amazon and instead of absorbing as a cost of business, it's passed along to the amazon customer. Not unlike having to pay more if you use a credit card instead of cash. I have found numerous instances where it is cheaper to go direct to a company's website rather than bu through Amazon.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/23/20 02:42 PM

I'm a big fan of the Signal Stick. I'm standardizing on it for HTs.

The Baofengs' biggest advantages are that they're almost disposable in price. Most of my friends have one or two. I don't have an FT-60R -- my one Yaesu HT is the FT-3DR that I got a couple weeks ago and I haven't had much opportunity to use it yet.
Posted by: Michael2

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/23/20 04:23 PM

Note that in the past, the Baofengs have been reported as failing FCC spurious emission tests.

If your philosophy is, "Get the best tools you can afford," then you might want to choose a different brand.

If your philosophy is, "A tool of questionable quality is still better than nothing," then a $20 handheld might have a place in your collection - especially if it is a collection and not the only one.

I remember a long time ago when I rode a motorcycle, there was an ad that had the headline, "If you have a 10 dollar head, wear a 10 dollar helmet." Well that convinced me. I got a Bell helmet

On the other hand, I've bought plenty of tools of "single-use" quality. Although at least a 75 cent screwdriver can be promoted to the job of paint-stirrer after it's all chewed up!
Posted by: Chisel

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/23/20 04:51 PM

I got a desktop and a laptop. Both on Win7

The desktop is not hooked to internet. I use it mostly with Word and Excel filesm plus seeing some movies. Laptop is connceted to internet and I use it for visiting ETS and such .

Do you think my e-stuff is doomed ???

A month a go, the laptop harddisk was replaced and the tech guy told me the Win10 cannot be installed on the laptop. Too old.

So, are my computers going to survive or die ???

Thanks
Posted by: haertig

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/23/20 05:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Chisel

So, are my computers going to survive or die ???

You may be surprised just how much life your laptop has left if you install a lightweight Linux distro on it. For use with Windows, yeah, it is probably long dead. What is the Windows minimum hardware for installation now? Something like a 512 core, 800 bazigahertz CPU and 256 petabytes of RAM?
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/23/20 05:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Chisel
So, are my computers going to survive or die ???

There's still plenty of useful life in them IMO.

A Windows 7 machine will keep running fine for as long as the hardware holds out. But it must never connect to the Internet.

What are the specs for your laptop? There's almost certainly a version of Linux that would work. Linix is a free, open-source operating system that replaces the Win7 operating system. All versions come with basic software like a web browser, file manager, office suite, etc. etc. But here's the kicker: you need to convince a friend to download it for you and burn it to a DVD.

Edit: Before you install, take Chaos's advice and double back up any files you want to keep. And when installing, it's best to connect to your router with a cable. Otherwise, the wifi drivers seem to be a little bit unstable; I don't know why.
Posted by: haertig

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/23/20 05:53 PM

Originally Posted By: dougwalkabout
And when installing, it's best to connect to your router with a cable. Otherwise, the wifi drivers seem to be a little bit unstable; I don't know why.

It's always best to use a cable over WiFi for any installation. Personally, I have installed Linux many dozens of times on many different computers, and never once had a WiFi issue. Generally you find missing driver issues for the latest, greatest pieces of hardware. Once you're installing Linux on an "older computer", you just don't see problems. At least that's been my experience. I have had more issues trying to install Windows than trying to install Linux.

Most Linux distros can run off of a CD or thumbdrive. Then after you've tested like that to see that everything works, you can tell it to install on your hard drive. Do not judge the speed of Linux based on running it off of a CD or thumbdrive however. Those are way slower than a hard drive. And ridiculously slower than an SSD. A lot of Linux distros can be booted off of a CD/thumbdrive and instructed to install totally into RAM (you need to have a lot of RAM to do this). In that case, Linux runs like a scalded ape! Of course, if you power down the computer, everything in RAM disappears, so running 100% from RAM is really mostly for testing or specialized applications.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/23/20 06:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Michael2
If your philosophy is, "A tool of questionable quality is still better than nothing," then a $20 handheld might have a place in your collection - especially if it is a collection and not the only one.


I have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to ham radio HTs. About half are Baofengs. After testing I put them in car kits and other places where if they get lost or suffer from rough handling I won't lose my mind.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/23/20 06:09 PM

Originally Posted By: haertig
It's always best to use a cable over WiFi for any installation.


Some PCs don't do well if both the wifi and the wired connection are connected; it's best to turn your wifi off when connected via a wired network.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/23/20 06:11 PM

Originally Posted By: Chisel
I got a desktop and a laptop. Both on Win7

The desktop is not hooked to internet. I use it mostly with Word and Excel filesm plus seeing some movies. Laptop is connceted to internet and I use it for visiting ETS and such .

Do you think my e-stuff is doomed ???


I would be very concerned about any Internet-connected Win7 device being compromised and your data stolen, if not also having your bank account(s) drained and your identity stolen. The other machine, if you never connect it to any network and never move files between it and other machines, will be fine.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/23/20 06:15 PM

Agreed, running it live off the DVD is a nice way to check it out.

The other cool thing about Linux is you can take the hard drive from a machine, plunk it into another, and it will run! It does a double-take the first time (whoa, this is different!) but it works. (Except: 64-bit installs only work on 64-bit systems. 32-bit installs run on everything.)
Posted by: haertig

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/23/20 06:46 PM

Originally Posted By: dougwalkabout

The other cool thing about Linux is you can take the hard drive from a machine, plunk it into another, and it will run! It does a double-take the first time (whoa, this is different!) but it works. (Except: 64-bit installs only work on 64-bit systems. 32-bit installs run on everything.)

This is true. I've done it a few times.

With Windows, you can clone a hard drive, put the cloned drive back into the same computer the original came from, and it won't boot. Some cloning software does better than others at trying to iron out the Windows-induced difficulties. But in general, if you are expected a clone/swap like this to work in Windows, you are skating on thin ice. No way are you going to take a harddrive out of one Windows computer, insert it into a different computer, and get anything useful to happen.
Posted by: Chisel

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/24/20 04:45 AM

Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet
Originally Posted By: Chisel
I got a desktop and a laptop. Both on Win7

The desktop is not hooked to internet. I use it mostly with Word and Excel filesm plus seeing some movies. Laptop is connceted to internet and I use it for visiting ETS and such .

Do you think my e-stuff is doomed ???


I would be very concerned about any Internet-connected Win7 device being compromised and your data stolen, if not also having your bank account(s) drained and your identity stolen. The other machine, if you never connect it to any network and never move files between it and other machines, will be fine.


Thanks

As long as I remember, I was never more stress-free in my whole life than in 2002, after finishing our house. We lived in OUR house, got free from paying reant, AND I had absolutely no money left in the bank . LOL.

Maybe one year from now, I will start building our next house. Almost a condo size, but will free me from lots and lots of stress. AND when finished, my bank account will be sparkling clean . LOL . I wont be worrying too much about hackers and e-robbers. LOL.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/24/20 04:55 AM

Your credit rating is worth defending, though. It affects everything from borrowing rates to insurance rates to employment prospects.

Edit: And on dating sites these days, a top-shelf credit rating is a particularly potent pheromone. A dealer-financed BMW is thin gruel in comparison. grin
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/25/20 11:56 PM

Back to the meat and potatoes of this thread.

A few areas where my practical knowledge could be useful to others here:

- gardening / farming for food
- harvesting and heating with wood
- repairing and sharpening tools
- repairing and playing musical instruments
- repairing small appliances and electronics
- small scale solar power, chargers, inverters, rechargeable batteries
- troubleshooting water well and septic systems
- frugal living -- getting the best value for a buck
- five star scrounge -- knows where to get stuff for cheap/free
- information scrounge -- tenacious at researching in all areas
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/27/20 10:01 PM

I thought I would share a "win" based on information I got from this thread (thanks Chaos!). A lady who runs a small business had water splashed on her laptop by her kids. No backups (argh!). Motherboard fried.

Staples told her there was no hope of getting her files back, and sold her another laptop. I put her hard drive in another machine and ran a couple of Linux live CDs I have kicking around. Couldn't mount the drive. Then I ran a live CD of Zorin OS Lite, and I was able to retrieve three years of business records, course work, and family photos.

She was understandably relieved, and grateful. That extends to you guys.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/27/20 10:58 PM

Well done dougwalkabout!

This isnít the first time Iíve heard of big box stores giving bad computer advice, Iím afraid.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/28/20 02:19 AM

Thanks again, Chaos. This is the way we can extend the ETS knowledge base out into our respective communities.

As for the big box store, I will only say that while I am in favour of honest free enterprise, I have zero tolerance for whatever mix of incompetence/scumbaggery was demonstrated here.
Posted by: haertig

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/28/20 04:23 AM

Originally Posted By: dougwalkabout
I put her hard drive in another machine and ran a couple of Linux live CDs I have kicking around. Couldn't mount the drive. Then I ran a live CD of Zorin OS Lite, and I was able to retrieve three years of business records, course work, and family photos.

Good job! I have had similar successes saving friend's computers. Usually they cannot boot Windows, but I have been able to access the disk using Linux and copy their files off.

Zorin OS is Linux. Do you have any idea why Zorin worked and other Linux distros didn't? I have had a few instances where one LiveCD worked better than another for some task, and never figured out why. Generally I use SystemRescueCD (another Linux distro) because it contains lots of tools for recovering systems. You can add these tools to any Linux distro, but SystemRescueCD comes with them pre-installed (since it's whole purpose, evident by the name of the distro, is rescuing systems!)

I think the happiest user I ever "saved" was one who deleted 1000's of photos and cleared the wastebasket (on Windows). Then realized what they had done after the fact. When they called for help I said, "Don't touch anything, don't even breath, I'll be right over". Using the PhotoRec command on SystemRescueCD I was able to recover all of the photos.

On my computers, I have a small partition setup that holds SystemRescueCD (normally you don't install it to harddisk, but I did in this case). It's so small it's doesn't take up much room. So if I get into Deep DoDo I can just boot my computer from that partition. I also keep a DVD with SystemRescueCD on it for mobile rescues or in case my harddisk gets so screwed up that I can't even boot from that special partition. My main OS is on an SSD these days, but my computers still have harddisks in them too.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/28/20 04:47 AM

I don't know why Zorin worked. Other distros warned that the file system was in a dangerous state, no doubt from the system crash. So either Zorin was smarter or too dumb to notice, I don't know. (And yes, of course it's a Linux Ubuntu distro; my post wasn't clear.)

I'll check out SystemRescueCD. This sort of thing seems to land on my desk on occasion. One more tool in my toolbox.
Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/28/20 07:32 AM

Sounds like a win!
Posted by: UTAlumnus

Re: Helping our ETS Community - 03/31/20 12:59 AM

Intel Core Solo T1350 @ 1.86 Ghz. The Core Solos were released in 2006.