Probably should leave it alone
.. truth ..
“New Phone, Who Dis?” famous words said countless times to any number of people days, weeks, and even months after replacing a mobile phone. The strange “Who Dis?” dance goes on when we get a new computer too, though the moves are a little different. Worse, the steps of the dance especially when the computer is not exactly Brand New and the previous owner left their grubby fingerprints all over.
I have had some luck in the past 18 months or so finding really interesting computers at thrift stores and in ‘lots’ of “junk” computers from various online sellers. One of these so-called “junk” laptops happened to be this little Asus EEE PC pictured below. By today’s standards, the EEE PC no where NEAR anything to write home about, but back in the day this little brick was a pioneer, kicking off the ‘Netbook’ style of computers (outside Japan).
Of course, when the machine arrived the battery was completely drained and there was no power supply included – but a quick once over and the machine looked to be in working order. A power supply was quickly sourced and once power was applied, the laptop bounced back to life, and started Windows.
Awesome, already loaded with Windows 7. Since this machine was part of a lot of machines I really did not need anyway, seeing this I am about ready to get this little laptop ready to throw onto eBay. Until …
Oh. Well. A password prompt, lovely. It is at this moment of our story that I need to make a point or three. First, the powers I am about to demonstrate can be used for good or evil, and while this really is not a sophisticated trick – Do. No. Evil. with what you may learn. Second, I feel comfortable sharing these screen shots as there honestly not enough information here to identify the previous owner OR anything personally identifiable (aside from a name and a few internet favorites, random files, et cetera). Third, the point I am aiming for is that – before you donate a computer to your local charity, erase your stuff…
Now, seeing a password prompt I can easily just erase the drive and reuse the computer, but I simply cannot pass up the opportunity to see what a computer was used for in a past life. Cracking the password just is not worth the time as the machine is now mine and seeing Windows 7 Starter is installed, it is not encrypted. At this point, I reach for a trusty USB drive with a Live Ubuntu image and booted right up to the drive, and I am around the password.
Now with the password problem sorted, time to check the hard drive. The first observation is that this drive was spilt into 2 volumes (something like an OS partition and a Data partition). Starting with the partition with Windows on it, the folder layout on the drive drive looks very much like a Windows 7 Installation would. This means that if there is anything obvious to be found, the Users folder is where to begin.
With just a few clicks we find ourselves in the previous owner’s user profile (Jon) and can now see what was left behind, aside from a password that is.
There was not much to speak of on this machine, only a few bit and crumbs left behind. Although, the more technical readers will be quick to point out that I did not look for internet cookies, internet cache, or temporary files and they would be correct. Finding all the crumbs to build a profile on a particular user was not the point of this exercise … The point of this exercise was to point out how simple it was to get the data off the machine even though a password was in place. No fancy or complicated tricks were used, just a bit of time and patience and then I could see anything left behind.
Of course I should not have to say this again, but this was a machine I purchased second hand from a thrift store and the drive was securely wiped after writing this. A method like this should not be used to bypass any sort of security on devices that you do not own … and, in conclusion, for the love of all that is holy … Erase your stuff BEFORE selling or donating them!
… It’s one of life’s great mysteries indeed. Ugh, looking back at my last update I have the broken record sound and really depressing …
In all accounts, 2020 was a train wreck, easily one of the worst years I have ever had, probably the worst that most people have had in recent memory. It started off with medical problems, then medical problems with family, then a good psychological blow just a week before my birthday. So, within the first half of the year I was pretty well in a bad place. Add to that 20 anniversary of Dad’s passing, a Global Pandemic, not able to travel, and a collection of abusive selfish leach-like people. By the end of the year I had just about checked out mentally – burned out.
I know I am not the only one that had problems last year but, I can only speak for myself. I feel that it is worth acknowledging (without all the specifics) “Yes, some bad stuff happened and was really depressing” definitely helps putting a cap on those things. Continuing to talk about the problems is just giving mistakes of the past year free reign to keep bringing me down. It is a new year and after a few weeks in, looking a lot different than last year, not exactly brighter, but different.
I am starting off this year by clearing out the backlog of things that I wanted to do last year but did not get off the ground. One habit I really have to break is this streak of needing everything to be perfect when I do not have a set timeline – as in “I want to do this, you know sometime …”. There is not too much that was gathering dust, but I did want to put this up first though – if nothing else, just to have clarity and direction in my own mind.
This is not that whole “New Year, New Me” bullshit, because I was trying that last year – I completed training for Autopsy (digital forensic software), I had joined a gym (pandemic hit a week later… no joke), I was trying to be more outgoing with people I cared about (… then a week before my birthday …), I tried to be decent to leaches (almost got into a brawl). Nope, this is me dusting off, reloading, and re-engaging life. Here is a list of what I have in store…
- Robots begging for their lives
- Tales from the thrift store
- A Browser Based Laptop
- Unreal Tournament
- An infinite universe
- Being terrible at video games
- Strange fixin’s for technical problems
Stick around, going to be an adventure!
I started this post right about the time this story dropped, but somehow it never made it to being posted. As I was going though to clear out drafts of posts that I did not finish (for whatever reason…) I ran across this gem to be shared. As a side note, in all the time since this was posted, there has not been a follow up.
I saw an article the other day discussing an experiment about where participants worked with a robot to perform a list of tasks. Now working with the robot is not so odd, but the twist is that after the tasks were done the participants were asked to turn off the robot. The robot began to ask or beg not to be turned off, and a significant number of the participants would not turn the robot off.
What if there was a robot that was meant to kill instead of solve puzzles, say a “kill bot”. Now what if that code to “beg for its life” was added to the kill bot and it started a fight with a human. The human could get the advantage on the kill bot and while the human were ready to deliver the ending blow the kill bot begs for its life. If the results of this study were to scale then most humans would feel sympathy and not deliver the blow giving the bot the chance to turn the tables and kill the human instead.
The experiment reminds me a lot of the Milgram experiments in the 1960’s. Sure, bit of a stretch, but what if?
New Monday, New Year, Wash it away…
You know, I think we can all agree …
Greetings fellow wall climbing pandemic shut ins … or am I projecting? It has been a bit since I posted a State of the Website address, so here latest.
First, I have decided to lay off the meme’s … I had several months of meme’s and other assorted slightly amusing items queued up to post Mondays and Fridays. These have been the source of several resets over the years, as they were intended to be filler content, and an opportunity to test scheduling posts in Word Press. Well, the scheduling part definitely works, but they became less filler and more the only thing that was getting posted. So moving forward, I will not have nearly as many of those. I do not intend to remove what is already there, but I do not plan to maintain the every Monday / Friday schedule anymore now that the backlog is empty.
Second, I am picking through a few old stories I had on the site previously – I REALLY dislike the idea of letting content go to waste, so I want to re-post them but add an update or two to them. Honestly, I really cannot pass up the opportunity to pass up putting up a story about robots begging for their lives [insert machine-killing evil cackle here]. Also, adding to the backlog … *cough cough* … I am working on piece about a very old Chromebook (like first generation) and laptops not wiped before being sold. I am also toying around with the idea of Linux on very old computers … because why not.
Third, stay tuned, but I am working on some game servers … I know, anything to waste more time, but the more that I start trying to get these things running the more administration and minor details keep coming up. I hope to have everything working as designed soon.
That is all for now, till next time.