Monthly Archives: April 2010

Why is The Hard Drive in My Computer Called “c:” ?

Well, I’m glad you asked. The first personal computer, the grand-grand-grandfather of the computer you’re using to read this, had  “floppy disk drives”, that used a thin magnetic disk for data storage. Sometimes a computer had two floppy disk drives, one for holding the operating system files that enabled the computer to function, and another for storing documents and other files. These 2 drives were labeled “A” and “B”. If there was a hard disk present as well, its designated drive letter would then of course be “C”.

OK but what’s with the colon after the letter? To be honest, I don’t know.  This is what I do know: back in the pre-Windows days, it was part of the path that showed where you where in a particular drive, in the tree directory. Don’t get confused. It’s very simple.  If  you have ever seen this in a computer monitor:


You get the idea. “c:” indicates the drive, “\” indicates that you are at the root directory, the first most basic directory, and “>” is an end symbol which indicates that after that comes whatever you as a user type. Typically a blinking cursor shows after that, so it looks like


(You’ll have to imagine the above cursor is blinking) 🙂

In modern Windows computers you can invoke a small black screen with the command prompt mode as described above by clicking on Start, Run, Command, or for Windows Vista/7, Start, typing “cmd” in the search box and pressing enter. Of course, the command prompt will probably look something like:


Or perhaps


Want it to look like “c:\>”? at that command prompt, type cd\ and press enter. Voila!

Anyways, when you open My Computer to look at files and whatnot, normally you will see under it a (C:) and under there, in a tree directory fashion, a number of folders. Well, now you know what that (C:) means.

How to Recognize an E-mail Scam

“I Just got an email that says…”:

1) I was just awarded a million dollars by Google.

2) That my email account needs to be verified and for that I need to provide certain information.

3) That the IRS needs me to fill out a form with personal information and fax it back to a fax number in Canada.

4) That UPS could not deliver my package because it doesn’t have my address, and needs the following data by return e-mail so if you could please fill out the attached form…

On and on ( laughable as they are, the above are actual scam e-mails making their way around the world). So, what do scam e-mails have in common? How can they be recognized?

1. They ask you for sensitive data, such as a password, social security number, bank account or credit card details, and so forth. And usually they offer a reward if provided or threaten a penalty if not provided.

2. They often are written with bad grammar or have glaring typos in them (like an email from Hotmail calling it “hot mail”)

3. They come from an e-mail address that is not related to where it’s supposed to be coming from.

In some cases they throw a curve because they ask for sensitive data and provide a file attached to the email, which one is supposed to use to provide the data. However the purpose of the e-mail is not to get your data, but to get you to open the attachment that is not what it appears and will infect your computer if opened, like the UPS example above. Pretty slimy.

So if you ever get an e-mail with any of the above points (especially the first point), know that it’s a scam, and don’t fall for it.  Delete it, report it if you know how to and feel like it. But whatever you do, don’t provide the information requested. Don’t even reply.

Emails – Secure Method of Communication?

To use a common comparison: Plain, unencrypted email is like a postcard with its message written with a pencil. It can be seen while in transit, and it can be modified as well. Since more people than not seem to be unaware of this fact, this is my contribution to changing that.

OK so now, what in the name of all that is holy can we do with that datum? well, you know now that if you are having correspondence by email, you shouldn’t write anything you don’t mind being seen by anyone other than the counterpart of your correspondence. Another thing you can do is implement email encryption, whereby the email is not in plain text anymore, but transformed into unintelligible characters so that it can’t be read or changed by unintended recipients while in transit, and then decrypted at the receiving end so the actual intended recipient can read the original message.

As far as encrypted email  goes, there are two main ways to go about it. One is web-based, meaning you have to set up an account on a website (just like you would do with a Yahoo or Hotmail account) and then use that account when you want to generate secure emails. Hushmail ( is a good example of that. Others exist as well. the second way is implementing encryption in your computer’s email client (Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Eudora are some examples of email clients). By installing a program such as Comodo’s Secure Email (, this can be achieved.

Whichever method you want to use, encryption is the standard solution to ensuring privacy when it comes to emails.