NewerTech USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

If you find yourself needing to read and write hard disks from other computers and do not always want to transplant them into a computer or an empty USB drive chassis, the NewerTech USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter is a great solution. It handles just about any format:

  • 3.5″ SATA (1.5 or 3.0 GBps, Molex or SATA power connector)
  • 3.5″ parallel ATA
  • 2.5″ SATA
  • 2.5″ parallel ATA
  • 5.25″ parallel ATA optical drives (CD/DVD/Blueray – but not notebook drives!

Its 100-240V, 50/60 Hz universal power brick is usable worldwide. All necessary cables are included (ATA ribbon cable, SATA, USB, power cables).

Using a hard disk on any USB-equipped computer is as easy as connecting the drive to the USB adapter and power brick and plugging the USB cable into the computer’s port (PC or Mac, running Windows, OS X or Linux). It may take about half a minute for the PC’s operating system to load the necessary drivers, but then you’ll have a new drive that can use any way you like.

So far the unit has worked just as advertised. I’m using it to access drives from older machines as well as for system upgrades and new operating system installs. For example, you could use the unit to hook up a DVD drive for installing an OS on a net book or other PC that doesn’t have an optical drive.

NewerTech has been around for a long time and has a good reputation mostly for Mac-related hardware, but some of it works equally well for Windows and Linux PCs.

Their Guardian MAXimus external RAID-1 solution (from $150 without preinstalled disks, $430 for twin enterprise class 1 TB drives) also looks very interesting. It supports a full range of interfaces (eSATA, USB 2.0 and Firewire 400/800) and handles a pair of drives of up to 2 TB each. RAID-1 means that all writes are automatically replicated to both drives, without the operating system needing any special support for it, so that you’ll be fully covered should one of the drives fail: You just replace the dead drive and it is automatically rebuilt using the data from the good drive while you keep on working.

“…, has added you as a friend on SiliconIndia” scam emails

Over the past year I’ve been getting a steady trickle of “friend requests”, i.e. invitations to join a service, for a website called SiliconIndia. Virtually all the supposed senders were women from India. Job titles included Software Engineer, Business Analyst and HR Executive. Most were very pretty. By that I mean not just better than average looking, more like the portfolio of a modeling agency.

Because of my volunteer work against online scams, some email accounts of mine end up in address books of thousands of people who over time have forwarded me samples of questionable mails. Consequently, I also receive a lot of requests to join online networking and other websites, many of which make it too easy to invite everyone in your address book to join a particular service when you join. One mail folder that I keep exclusively for such invitations from people I don’t recognize currently contains over 1,100 examples.

When I received another SiliconIndia invitation yesterday, I decided to take a closer look and a very interesting picture evolved. I had 42 invitations going back to February 2008. Nine of them (originating with three indivuals) did not include a photograph and almost all of those were from the first month. They may have been real invitations. The interesting thing about the other 33 invitations was that the senders were all female. Not one guy! 23 of these were sent from Gmail accounts and 10 from AOL or AIM accounts. One picture I received from both a Gmail and an AOL account. It wasn’t just that these emails had AOL or Gmail sender addresses, they also did not come from a SiliconIndia mail server as one might expect for regular “tell a friend” invitations. All were sent from regular personal Gmail and AOL accounts through the respective mail servers.

What this tells me is that someone is manually making up invitation mails, using pictures of pretty women to attract mostly male job seekers to join that service. And somebody somewhere is making money out of people who respond.

Out of curiosity I joined the service under an assumed identity. The profile for the person who had invited me the day before had a list of 456 “friends”. If she were to “stay in touch” with all of them as it said in the invitation, she’d be a pretty busy lady. So next time you get an invitation to join SiliconIndia to connect with some pretty woman, don’t delude yourself. Most likely some guy somewhere is being paid a few rupees to mail pictures of pretty girls to thousands of guys in order to drive traffic to a commercial website.

“Trau keiner Statistik…”

Today, in online chat with an American friend that touched on website statistics I posted the line:

“Never trust any statistics that you didn’t forge yourself.”

He replied that he liked the quote, which suggested to me that he hadn’t heard it before. This particular one liner frequently pops up in discussions of published numbers in Germany, especially if one disagrees with what they appear to show. You might call it the German equivalent of “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Its two common variants are “Ich traue keiner Statistik die ich nicht selbst gefaelscht habe” (I don’t trust any statistics that I didn’t forge myself) or as advice: “Traue keiner Statistik die du nicht selbst gefaelscht hast” (Don’t trust any statistics that you didn’t forge yourself).

I vaguely remembered that this line was usually attributed to Winston Churchill and found my friend’s reaction odd, because if this was a Churchill quote, it would be more likely to be known amongst English speakers than in Germany. A quick Google search confirmed my suspicions because hits centered on Germany, making it unlikely the quote was indeed from Churchill. The German-centric hits were no coincidence, because as it turns out the “quote” was a product of Nazi propaganda that has managed to survive the fall of the Reich by more than six decades.

According to research conducted by a member of the Baden-Wuerttemberg State Office of Statistics a couple of years ago, there is no verifiable source for the supposed “quote”. The Times of London had never heard of it. What’s more, it dovetails nicely with WWII Nazi propaganda that accused Churchill of exaggerating Allied successes and minimizing British losses (i.e. forging numbers). It does not really fit Churchill, because he was not known as a general skeptic on statistics, though he was suspicious of German claims (and for good reasons). The fake “quote” combines these two themes, skepticism of his opponents’ statistics and accusations of being a liar that the Nazis liked to smear him with.

Maybe better advice would be: “Don’t trust any quote that you didn’t forge yourself.” 😉