The Art and Craft of Windows Search – (2) Sophisticated Searching

(Article originally submitted under the title: “On the Synthesis of Search Terms in the Application of the Windows Search Algorithm to the Location of Desired Objects, with Particular Reference to the Precepts of Symbolic Logic Established by Professor Boole”.) In the first part of this two-part series, we did the groundwork for an efficient search index configuration, and rebuilt and tested the index.  Now we’re going to go further than simply typing in words and phrases as search terms, to look at how we can set up and combine search terms and conditions using the Advanced Query Syntax. If you … Continue reading

The Art and Craft of Windows Search – (1) Groundwork

  Windows Search has been much maligned.  There are forums all over the internet where it has been vigorously discussed, often in vitriolic terms.  Typical complaints are that it can’t find a file even when you know the file is present, and, most often, “it just doesn’t work!”.  For instance, this Microsoft Forum thread  has been going for years now, and still occasionally gets new comments, mostly bad.  (But then, how many people go out of their way to comment that something is brilliant?) I’ve done a lot of research on Windows Search, and one conclusion is that its poor … Continue reading

VeraCrypt Rises from the Ashes of TrueCrypt

Good news – there’s probably no need to stop using TrueCrypt.  Not only should it keep its status as the top encryption software for the general user, if not for business purposes, but in spite of the fact that the developers have apparently shut down the project, it continues – same code, different name. There has been much wild speculation recently about the sudden and apparently suspicious demise of TrueCrypt, including some interesting conspiracy theories.  The closure of the project was all the more unexpected because an initial audit of the code has recently been completed (“iSEC Completes TrueCrypt Audit“) … Continue reading

Secure Cloud Storage – Mission Impossible?

 Can you keep your stuff secure in the cloud?  When Google, Microsoft and other cloud providers, not to mention the NSA and GCHQ, can scan through your uploaded files, what price your privacy? The power of Google was demonstrated when I uploaded to YouTube a video of an interview with Edward Snowden by the German television station ARD.  Within seconds of the upload, Google blocked the video, because of ARD’s copyright.  Maybe that was justifiable, maybe not (you can’t even pay to see the video legally, although you can in fact view it at  But clearly the scanning technology … Continue reading

Be A Super Computer! – Folding@home

Fancy a part-share in the second most powerful supercomputer in the world?  Think what you could do with it: play Call of Duty or Crysis faster than real-time, crack all your friends’ passwords in a microsecond, finish your accounts spreadsheets before you even started, forecast hurricanes, predict climate change….  If the mood took you, you could even model the behaviour and effects of biological molecules in the human body.   Dream on – unless the last one appealed to you, in which case you can start straight after you’ve finished reading. Supercomputers rely on parallel processing – joining together huge numbers … Continue reading

Tails – The Secret Agent’s IT Toolkit

Are you a spy? An investigative journalist? A political dissident? A reforming activist? Someone living under a repressive regime where saying, writing, or surfing the wrong thing is likely to land you in jail (think China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, even at times the UK or the USA)? Or just someone who would really rather not have the government, Google, or the cyber-criminal fraternity rifling through your private communications? Then you need TAILS. TAILS is The Amnesic Incognito Live System; you can’t get much more anonymous than an incognito amnesiac. On one flash drive, it contains everything you need to surf … Continue reading

Hello World! Start Coding – with NetBeans

Perhaps you’ve read or heard about how coding is the cool thing right now.  Kids should be taught it in school; young ladies and gentlemen should be encouraged to get together and start software companies.  Everyone should have a go, right?   Including you, so read on. What do you need to do to try coding, or programming, as it used to be known?   You need a programming language which can convert your inspired coding thoughts into machine code that your PC can understand, and a civilised and helpful application to help you write those thoughts down. Lots of nasty things … Continue reading

Pretty Good E-mail II – Practice Makes Private

This is the second part of the “Pretty Good E-mail” series which follows on from an earlier introductory article. For those who are not terribly familiar with email encryption and the tools involved, I suggest you start off by reading Part I which is a guide to getting started… you can catch up with Part I here: Pretty Good E-mail Encryption – The Snowden Way. Adele’s PGP E-mail Centre This is Adele. When I said previously that she was a cracker, I meant of course that she’s really good at cracking encrypted messages.  She’s a friendly German lady whose only … Continue reading

Pretty Good E-mail Encryption – the Snowden Way

Just about a year ago, a video was posted on the Vimeo website, with the intention of demonstrating encryption for journalists, by one “anon108″. The video was for Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who subsequently broke the NSA mass surveillance stories; he watched it, didn’t really understand it, and didn’t bother to take it any further. As Greenwald says in his new book, “No Place to Hide”, “That’s how close I came to blowing off one of the largest and most consequential national security leaks in US history”. “anon108″ turned out to be Edward Snowden. He was trying to teach Greenwald … Continue reading

E-mail – Encryption! Encryption! Encryption!

E-mail Encryption for Private People Millions of people every day send messages to friends, colleagues, and business contacts, written on postcards.  Electronic postcards, but still readable by anyone who cares to pick them up.  Would you send a letter without an envelope?  Every time you send an ordinary e-mail, that’s what you’re doing.  What you need is encryption. Difficult?  Complicated?  Well, not really, although e-mail client software like Outlook and Windows Mail hasn’t gone to any trouble to make it easier.  They’ve hidden the set-up two or three layers down in the menu structure, for a start.  Try to find … Continue reading