opensource privacy security software

free industrial strenght data wiping

Awesome looking circular saws.It’s hard to believe there are still people who would sell or ditch their old hard drive without erasing the data off it first, but apparently there are. A while ago I prepared an old 486dx2 machine for it’s final trip to the recycle centre (at least, I think they recycle old electronic devices that get dumped at the so called “container park”) and I also wanted to make sure that my data was wiped clean off it, even though I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a lot of vital or delicate personal information on it. No sex tapes or anything like that on there, I swear. Those would be on a more recent machine of course, since making your own kinky vids is just a recent trend….

But to get back on topic, I searched the internet for something that would do the erasing for me, in a professional, yet preferably free and open source manor. Professional, simply because just reformatting or deleting files makes it easy for someone with the right kind of knowledge to retrieve the contents of the data afterwards in a jiffy. Good data recovery tools can do some of that for instance, so we need something that overwrites and mangles whatever is on the drive so that it gets really, really, really hard to get any of it back in the long run.

How about something that uses algorithms approved by the F.B.I. and the Canadian Mounties to shred it’s digital files? How about something that fits on a bootable floppy disk, and wipes all drives in the system you have it boot on? (after selection some options of course, not automatically) Well, if that sounds like something that might just do the trick, you should check out Dareks Boot and Nuke.
It’s free, runs on the most hardware and drive types, is child’s play to use it, and did I say it’s free?

You can choose from 5 different possible ways to wipe your drives clean, and to get that extra warm and safe feeling you can select how many runs in a row it has to perform, just to make sure that everything is nicely turned into digital shred.

I did put a big fat warning label on that floppy though.

geek internet opensource software tips

why is good for you

It just occurred to me that when I’m looking for an alternative[*] for a proprietary piece of software and find a number of open source/free software versions that are similar in features I usually pick the one that’s hosted at

“But why?”, you ask, “why is that a criteria for selection?”.

Well it’s quite simple really. I’ve learned that there are a number of advantages to the “one stop open source shopping” in the sourceforge shop. (Now try repeating that last sentence 3 times in a row without tripping your tongue.)

And here they are, compiled neatly into a little list for your convenience:

  • It’s free free free!
  • You can get update notifications by email if new versions are released, which is neat if you like your binaries nice and fresh, you geek.
  • A single user account gives you access to the support and bug tracking forums of most of the projects.
  • Support items can be tracked as well by email, which is nice, so you get a notification when the that bug you ran into gets fixed.

[*] OS software isn’t really an alternative anymore in my case these days, it’s actually my first option in a lot of cases. Why bother paying for a commercial closed source product if you can get equally good stuff for free?

Beats me!

opensource programming software

read any good code lately?

One thing I always find interesting as a programmer is to take a peek at other people’s source code. Sometimes this happens out of curiosity, to see how they solved a particular problem, or if their implementation kicks more ass than the one I thought of. Or simply to learn something new and excitingly different.
When I’m looking for a piece of open source software that I’m planning to use, and possibly will be making some changes to myself I always take a look at the source code to see how well it’s written. This is one of the major factors in making my choice actually, because I’ve learned that if you don’t feel comfy snooping through the code, or see stuff that you find not-so-well-programmed, you will end up spending way too much time digging through the sources to find that particular feature you want to change or add.

A screenshot of a snippet of WordPress codeBy doing this I ran into some source code that was IMO particularly well written. Clean, slick, and using the language to the max, allowing you to dig into it and run into things that make you go “WTF!? Never thought of doing it like that myself!
These are the ones that are worth using, and frankly, just “reading” bits of code from. Once you’ve picked up an idea from those beautiful lines of technological poetry, your mind has been stretched, and will never be the same again. Your own code will reflect this, making you a better programmer.
But enough already, lets get down to it, so here’s some source code I find worth reading:

  • TinyMCE JavaScript content editor : also used in the mighty WordPress editor, but I ran into it while looking for a good HTML rich text editor for a project at work. The major coolness here is how they magically turn a simple text area control into a full fleshed dynamic HTML text editor. Sweet.
  • WordPress : it rocks, really. It’s nice to see it’s so clean coded. Their plugin system is definitely worth checking out IMO.
  • Prototype JavaScript framework, containing a very nice AJAX library: in short, this is JavaScript wizardry. If you are a JavaScript Guru you might not think this is all that special. But if you want to see some really hardcore JS usage, this is the place to be. The framework itself is easy to use, and the code itself is inspirational to read. Check it out.

Did you read any inspiring snippets of code lately? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

firefox geek internet opensource software

firefox 2 beta 1 screenshots

Firefox 2 beta 1 is out, and it has some nifty new features for all you manic surfer out there.
At Lifehacker they have lined up the a bunch of the shiniest new things by using pretty pictures to illustrate them (screenshots that is).

Check it out I’d say if you’re a firefox freak0r like myself.

The features I’m digging the most judging from what I can see in the article are the very welcome integrated spell checker, and the RSS feed integration.
Currently I’m completely ignoring this in v1.x, but since the v2 has a way to link directly to Google Reader, that will probably change in the near future.

Oh yeah, and the supercute pup on the right. That’s a real firefox for ya.
Ain’t it sweet?

geek internet opensource security software

firefox security upgrade

A Firefox upgrade v1.0.1 is now available for download containing a fix for the previously mentioned spoofing vulnerability, other security fixes and some changes to make the browser more stable are in there as well, which is sweet (see El Reg for more info).

A bit annoying is the fact you can’t just slap it over your previous installation, but are advised to install in a separate folder. Fortunately all your settings are copied automatically, and plugins like Flash can be reinstalled through the browsers plugin installer in a few clicks nowadays.

More upgrade goodness with Trillian upgrading to v3.1 today. Yay!
Some new features are added, together with some bugfixes and performance improvements. I haven’t noticed anything in particular yet, but I’ll just take their word for it anyway and feel all warm and tingly because it’s using my computing resources more efficiently now… whoohoo!

Yes, I’m a geek, I know.