SAFETY RULES FOR ACTIVISTS/ INFO DISSEMINATORS


Biggest single agency in the USA is SPOOKS. Hacker Tekkies run amok!
Want to avoid them? Follow these easy rules.

by PETER MYERS

My Software Programming work led me to become a specialist in Pansophic
software products for IBM mainframes. These provided for Version- tracking, Backups, Archives, and Restoration. Since running my own website and mailing list, I have constantly made use of expertise I gained in those days.

The importance of Backups cannot be over-estimated. Why learn the hard
way? I am now going to tell you how to do it:

Firstly, the difference between a Backup and an Archive. A backup is
done frequently, every day; it’s done piecemeal, selectively or at least
not comprehensively. An Archive is done comprehensively, of a whole
system, when certain critical stages have been reached.

For example, here’s how I back up my mailing list. Firstly, an
explanation: I chose not to make this forum a Yahoo Group or similar,
partly because I then forfeit control to those who set the rules, partly
because many such forums descend into name-calling. So, in place of
automated joining and exit, I do this manually, through user requests by
email.

My mailing list is the most critical piece of data I have. How do I
secure it against hard disk crashes etc? Simple; I back it up to an
external medium every time I add or remove someone.

We, who would tie Gulliver down, have enemies who send us viruses and
probably try to manipulate our computers remotely. So, we need a
computer with two internal hard disks, an Active one and a Backup one.
Every day, I copy my new bulletins, and my preparatory bulletins, from
the Active disk to the Backup one.

You will have a CD burner, but you also MUST have an external hard disk;
don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. I used to use SCSI, but now use
Firewire; other people use USB2, Bluetooth etc. Leave it attached to the
computer at all times, but switched off. Only switch it on when you want
to do a critical Backup or an Archive.

You can buy an “external case” through Ebay. The size will depend on the
width of the hard disks you want to put in it, e.g. 3 1/2”.

I compose text in Microsoft Word. Word 6 or 95, because it lacks the
bells & whistles of later versions, although I also occasionally use 98
& 2001.

To create webpages, I use Netscape 3 Gold. Yes 3, even though I use 7
for browsing. I have no use for gadgetry; I do not aim to impress the
reader with music or video, but appeal to the intellect - and therefore
through text not multimedia. For that purpose, older software is fine;
better, even.

I do not rely on Word’s automatic saves every 10 minutes or so, because
I do not like the extra files they create on the hard disk; I have that
feature turned off. Instead, I have trained myself, though learning the
hard way, to manually save every 10 minutes or so, or more frequently eg
after every critical change.

On the other hand, when using Netscape 3 Composer, I do have the
automatic save turned on - for 15 minute intervals.

To back up my mailing list, I copy it to both the Backup internal disk,
and to an external Zip disk. You could copy to an external floppy, or to
a USB flash stick. If you have a manually-operated mailing list, you
MUST back it up to one of these external media every time it changes.

But of course, I am assuming that you know where your mailing list is.

Your mailing list will be a file on your hard disk. Before Windows, every DOS user would have been able to find it, but Windows hides the files in the guise of “user-friendliness”, just as car owners are today discouraged from knowing anything about their car’s components & how to fix them.

Your mailing list will be in your Documents folder. From there, open the browser folder
(eg Netscape), then your profile folder. Keep opening folders until you find the one with your Cache, your Mail, your Addressbook and Bookmarks.

If you have a small Addressbook, Netscape will keep it in just one file; its name varies
with different versions of Netscape. If you have a big Addressbook, Netscape will keep it in several files, all with the same suffix eg “.nab” or “.mab”.

You can back them up and restore them directly; that’s what I do. Create an Alias to the folder that contains them, and leave this Alias an an icon on your Desktop.

In 1989 I had a job as Principal EDP Auditor at the Department of Finance in Canberra. The job required an ASIO (=CIA, MI5 etc) clearance, but they let me start while they got on with that. Later, I got the impression that my boss was hinting that I might like to join ASIO myself. That’s when I realised that ASIO and similar agencies probably have officers stationed in all important government departments, and in all major newspapers and TV networks.

I did audits of Applications that were being developed in the Department, such as one
providing for Appropriation in the Federal Budget; this required interviews with the Developers and the Users. I had to ascertain the risk of fraud, and ensured attention to Contingency Planning.

Application developers often run behind time, and when they have finished a project they want to move on; consequently, they often skimp on what seem like minor details, such as documentation for Users or for Maintenance Programmers, and Contingency Planning.

I can’t remember too many of the details now, but Contingency Planning provides for
unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters (these days, “terrorism” too). If fire, flood or  terorism destroyed an important government building from which computer programs were being run - perhaps issuing Tax Refunds, Payments to Contractors providing goods & services to the Government, Cheques to Welfare recipients, etc - what would happen?

Offsite Backups are an important part of the solution. And this brings me back to your
Website or Mailing List.

Burning CDs of your important Software (both System and Application) and Data allows you to keep some copies offsite, i.e. in different buildings, even dispersed at friends’ homes etc.

Do it; you must not cut corners.

What is “software”? The difference between “software” and “hardware” is this: suppose you have a CD, an LP record, or an audio tape containing songs. The songs on it are “software”;the CD, record or tape itself is “hardware”.

System Software is the programs which run your computer - the Operating System (eg
Windows, Mac OS 9, Unix), and Utility programs such as Disk Setup (to format or initialise disks, and mount them on the desptop), Disk Repair, Firewall, Compression & Decompresion.

Application Software is the programs which you use for email, browsing the internet,
writing articles, editing, calculating expenses, viewing images & videos, etc.

Data is the files you save from the internet, the articles you write, your budget for a
project, etc.

You should burn CDs of each of them; as a general rule, separate CDs for each of the
three kinds. Keep Data separate from Software.

Data changes frequently; Software rarely - so you need many more backups of Data than of Software. On the other hand, Software is more critical. Burn your CDs when your software seems to be working well. Later on, if your software develops bugs, overwrite it from your backups.

Software backups depend on the Operating System you are using.

Let’s assume you operate a politically incorrect website, as I do, which enemies try to
nobble by sending viruses in emails, or by directly inserting zaps (patches) in important programs  on your hard disk.

You make it easy for them if you use Windows. Therefore, if at all possible, you should
move to the Macintosh. For most people, this means Mac OS X, although I still use Mac OS 9.

When the Department of Homeland Security started up in the US, they standardised on Mac
OS X.

Don’t believe all the propaganda against Macs. They are the Rolls Royce of computers,
and always have been. If they were not, they would have disappeared years ago.

They last much longer than Windows boxes. And as my youngest son said to me, having
switched from Mac to Windows and back to Mac again, “The Mac OS is more beautiful than Windows,” ---he’s esthetic, a graphic designer - “and more stable than Windows.”

Mac OS X is really a Unix, and if you don’t want to move to Mac, then your next best
option would be another kind of Unix, which might run on the computer you already have. Max at max@mailstar.net will advise you there; he’s a Unix expert, based in Kuala Lumpur.

If you want Mac advice, you can do no better than Howard Miller at ausgrass@gmail.com, also on this mailing list. Howard is a sheep and cattle farmer near Wagga Wagga, currently having a hard time with the drought, but he used to be an Apple dealer at Bowral, and in a previous lifetime (so it seems) he was a maritime engineer. Talk about multi-skilled!

Anyone whose email address is mentioned in this mailing-list knows they need
spam-protection and virus-protection (except on Macs; viruses can’t penetrate Mac OS X, and they’re no trouble on Mac OS 9 either).

Windows, and Max OS 9 and X, contain a piece of code called an NSA Key, which enables the National Security Agency to pry inside and retrieve any data they wish from your computer. So don’t fool yourself with encryption. I never do. Unix may contain such a key too.

Keystroke Logging means the capture of characters from your keyboard (or
other input device) before they reach the Application program you are
using. So, even if you are using an Application which encrypts your
data, it can be captured and spirited away to Big Brother, or some
fraudster, without you knowing it. For that reason, I avoid internet
banking.

You may have used Mac OS X without knowing it - iPods & iPhones run it,
just as other brands of mobile phones run Windows.

One reason I still use Mac OS 9, is that Mac OS X is too Windows-like.
Another reason is that I have heaps of software for Mac OS 9. Because OS
9 is no longer supported, the software for it can be obtained free. As
long as my browsers continue to do the things I need, I will continue to
use OS 9.

I use multiple browsers, the latest version of each kind that will run
on OS 9: Mozilla 1.3.1, Netscape 7.2, Icab 3.0.5, Opera 6.0.3, Explorer
5. For incoming email, Eudora 6.1.1, and for outgoing email, Mozilla or
Netscape.

The Mac G4 is the last Mac that can run OS 9. I’m already using G4/466s;
my limit would be the G4/1000 or 1250. Apple speeds are measured
differently from Windows speeds. Be assured that in practice they’re as
fast or faster than comparable Windows boxes.

Suppose your computer freezes; what do you do? In OS 9 you would Force
Quit; that may solve the problem. If it doesn’t, you would press the
Restart button. You might also (but rarely) try Rebuilding the Desktop,
Zapping the PRAM (Parameter Memory), or Updating the Disk Driver.

I understand that Mac OS X never crashes. An Application may crash, but
the OS just keeps on going.

Other computers do crash from time to time. It’s important to try to
figure out whether a problem is hardware or software in origin.

Recently, I freaked out when my computer could not see its hard disks; I
had to boot from CD or external hard disk, and when I did, the internal
hard disks were absent from the desktop.

This could indicate crashed hard disks; but it would be unlikely to
happen to two of them at once. I undid the cabling (data bus + power) to
each internal hard disk, and reconnected it. After this, the computer
worked ok.

The reason in this case appears to be corrosion; it can affect telephone
or modem cables too.

A few weeks ago, I went with a friend to his 240 sq km station in
Outback Queensland. It’s rugged and remote, and for sale. There was a
satellite phone there, which had no dial tone. I unplugged and replugged
every socket I could get at, and after that it worked. The lesson is,
little things like corrosion, dust and condensation can give the
impression of hardware failure.

Over the years, I have learned to undo CD drives and scanners, clean the
laser lens and oil the motor shaft. Whatever it takes, to keep them
going.

Paper printouts are also a form of backup. We take electricity for
granted, but if we were deprived of it one day, only paper versions
would remain.

Similarly we should not take the internet for granted. Big Brother could
pull the plug, or slow it down to an unworkable speed, by imposing
vetting etc, at any time. Therefore, I provide my phone number and
address as an emergency way of contact. Openness is the best policy:
it’s best to show Big Brother you’re not afraid. A woman would have to
be more circumspect. But if we lived in Zimbabwe ... well, we don’t, and
we’re fighting to stay that way.

-- Peter Myers, 381 Goodwood Rd, Childers 4660, Australia ph +61 7
41262296 http://users.cyberone.com.au/myers Mirror:
http://mailstar.net/index.html I use the old Mac OS; being incompatible,
it cannot run Windows viruses or transmit them to you.

Never respond to emails offering pornography or sex; never click on
links they provide. Intelligence agencies may be using them to lure and
trap dissidents (e.g. on charges of "sex with a minor" or "being in
possession of child pornography"). Mordecai Vanunu was lured by a "honey
trap", after which he was jailed solitary for 18 years; and he never
even got the honey. Don't try to fight the government with guns - that
just gives them an excuse for getting rid of you. Your most potent
weapon is information - that's what Big Brother is really scared of.

Various Filters (ostensibly to trap porn etc) may be used to censor this
newsletter - check your Spam and Junk folders, and ask your Internet
Provider if they block emails. If my mail does not arrive, or yours
bounces, please ring me: this helps beat sabotage. To unsubscribe, reply
with "unsubscribe" in the subject line; allow 1 day.
 

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