Category Archives: Computers

She Made Hard-Drive Wiping a $2 Million-a-Year Business

She Made Hard-Drive Wiping a $2 Million-a-Year Business

One day in May 2004, Elizabeth Wilmot tried to throw away an old computer and looked around for someone who could properly wipe sensitive data from the hard drive and recycle it. She couldn’t find anyone online who would do that at a residential level, and a business idea germinated.

So at the beginning of 2005, she drew her last paycheck from her marketing job at CitiGroup and went off on her own. She set up an office in an upstairs guest room of her house in Severna Park, Maryland, and started ferrying people’s unwanted computers back to her garage, where an employee would dismantle them for about $20 each.

And that was how Data Killers got started: a small business smashing computer hard drives into little bits with a sledgehammer on the floor of Wilmot’s garage.

The Data Killers of today is much more high-tech. It employs National Security Agency approved “degaussers,” five-foot-tall machines that demagnetize electronic equipment and rob the computer chips of their functionality before they are fed into giant shredders. (Because turning a hard drive into dust without demagnetizing it first isn’t secure enough for some people.)

After 10 years running the company, she sold it to local competitor Capitol Asset Recovery for an undisclosed sum last month. The combined company, which operates under the name Data Killers, grosses $7.5 million, employs 39 people locally and has four facilities in the District of Columbia area.

At the time she sold it, Wilmot’s company was turning a healthy profit handling on-site data disposal for the country’s most secretive institutions – Northrop Grumman, the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security, to name a few.

But things weren’t always so rosy.

In its first year, the business pulled in less than $125,000 (roughly Rs. 82 lacs). Wilmot, who had a daughter in middle school at the time, didn’t take a dime out of the company for its first 18 months in operation.

She quickly realized she couldn’t turn a profit if she worked only with individuals. So she bought a massive, industrial-strength equipment shredder from an Austrian supply company for about $100,000 (roughly Rs. 66 lacs) only to discover that her electric system couldn’t power it, and she had to drop an additional $40,000 (roughly Rs. 26 lacs) on a transformer.

She paid for it all with a home-equity loan.

“When you’re taking out a line of credit on your own house, you realize your next step is homelessness if this doesn’t come through,” Wilmot said. “We pretty much starved for a long time.”

She never even went looking for investors, keeping full ownership over the company until the end. The company expanded by reinvesting capital, putting $1.25 (roughly Rs. 82) into capital assets for every dollar the company made.

“I could never be a public company because I never could have convinced shareholders to take that leap, that there would be a return on it,” Wilmot said of those shoestring early days.

At the time she sold the company, it was grossing $2 million (roughly Rs. 13 crores) each year and had paid off all its debts. But it took 10 years to get there.

The turning point: getting into the business of destroying classified data. By 2007, a wave of cyber-induced anxiety was drumming up demand for a new kind of technology disposal. The NSA has highly specific standards for how government equipment has to be thrown away. And a lot of businesses are so paranoid of data theft that they don’t trust the garbage men with old company hard drives.

One of her first customers, who worked for a forensics company, was so finicky that he wouldn’t let anyone else touch the hard drive.

“The guy absolutely insisted on being the actual person to drop the hard drive into the shredder,” Wilmot said. “He wouldn’t let it go.”

By 2010, the company was grossing $1 million. Keeping up with the NSA’s standards for data disposal was tough, but the government contracts paid off.

“We came to be known as the people who could destroy just about anything,” Wilmot said. “There’s a big business in getting rid of stuff and getting rid of it properly.”

Zack Boorstein, who had been a vice president at Wilmot’s company, left the company in 2009 to start work for Capitol Asset Recovery. Boorstein says he left amid a disagreement with Wilmot over the direction of the business, and he immediately wrote an email to her (chief executive Chris Scott sent it from his own account) offering to acquire her company. Six years later, Wilmot responded to the offer out of the blue, saying she wanted to sell her company.

Wilmot declined to say why she decided to sell the company, citing personal reasons. As for what’s next, Wilmot says she has no immediate plans but “remains an entrepreneur at heart.”

© 2015 The Washington Post

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Samsung Gear Circle

Samsung Gear Circle

Samsung Gear Circle

Alongside the Gear S smartwatch, Samsung today announced the Gear Circle, a pair of wireless earphones that can pair with your smartphone and vibrate to alert you to calls and notifications. Samsung says Gear Circle users can also use the wearable device’s Bluetooth connection to listen to music on their smartphone, or issue voice commands.


Samsung Gear Circle

When not in use, the new earphones can either be stuffed away in your pocket, or worn proudly around your neck: the device has a metal clasp that means the Gear Circle can double as an impromptu necklace. Samsung has shown the Gear Circle in three colors so far — black, blue, and white — and said that the device will start rolling out to global markets in October.

Samsung Gear Circle

Dying Husband Left Her the House and Car, but Forgot the Apple Password

Dying Husband Left Her the House and Car, but Forgot the Apple Password

After Peggy Bush’s husband, David, succumbed to lung cancer last August, she liked to play card games on their iPad to pass the time. The 72-year-old resident of Victoria, Canada, was on an app one day when it suddenly stopped working, and she was unable to reload the device without providing a password for their Apple ID account.

Bush’s husband never told her the password, and she hadn’t thought to ask. Unlike so many of the things David had left for Bush in his will – car ownership, the title of the house, basically everything he owned – this digital asset followed him to the grave.

According to reporting by the Canadian Broadcasting Channel, the journey to procure the password proved more difficult than any other process involved in David’s passing.

“I thought it was ridiculous,” Bush told CBC. “I could get the pensions, I could get benefits, I could get all kinds of things from the federal government and the other government. But from Apple, I couldn’t even get a silly password.”

At first, they thought the solution would be simple. Bush’s daughter, Donna, called Apple to ask about having the password retrieved and the account reset. The company then requested David’s will and death certificate.

When they got these documents together and called a second time, Apple said they had never heard of the case. Donna told CBC that it took several phone calls and two months of waiting for Apple to accept a notarized death certificate, her father’s will and the serial numbers for the iPad and Mac computer to which Bush also wanted access.

But this was not enough. Over the phone, a representative told Donna the next step: “You need a court order.”

“I was just completely flummoxed,” Donna told CBC. “What do you mean a court order?”

Obtaining one could cost thousands of dollars, depending on the need for a lawyer, so Donna decided to take her complaint straight to the top.

“I then wrote a letter to Tim Cook, the head of Apple, saying this is ridiculous,” she said. “All I want to do is download a card game for my mother on the iPad. I don’t want to have to go to court to do that, and I finally got a call from customer relations who confirmed, yes, that is their policy.”

While Bush had the option of setting up a new Apple ID account, that would have meant losing all the app purchases that she and her husband had made on the original one.

Bush ended up buying a new laptop (not a Mac). Her mission to gain access to her husband’s Apple ID seemed futile until CBC’s “Go Public” wing contacted the company on Bush’s behalf.

Apple apologized for the “misunderstanding” and has since started working with Bush to solve the issue without a court order, CBC reported this week.

For the Bushes, the overdue response feels like putting a Band-Aid on a larger problem.

“We certainly don’t want other people to have to go through the hassle that we’ve gone through,” Donna told CBC. “We’d really like Apple to develop a policy that is far more understanding of what people go through, especially at this very difficult time in our family’s life, having just lost my dad.”

Toronto estate lawyer Daniel Nelson told CBC that online access is controlled by service providers such as Apple, even if users own their digital material. He described the court order demand as “heavy-handed,” but also said Canadian digital property laws are “murky.”

While the incident occurred in Canada, Americans have encountered similar snafus involving the digital assets of deceased relatives on this side of the border.

In 2011, after 15-year-old Eric Rash of Virginia committed suicide, his parents desperately wanted to know why. But when they tried looking to his Facebook page for answers, the website cited state and federal privacy laws blocking their access.

“We were just grieving parents reaching out for anything we could,” Rash’s father, Ricky, told The Washington Post in 2013.

The question of whether digital assets should be treated the same as material possessions where inheritance is concerned has emerged naturally with the growing ubiquity of social media usage, but few concrete answers have been offered by lawmakers and legal authorities. Most states place digital and physical property in different categories, and tech companies themselves prohibit password-sharing. This means that often a person’s virtual trail continues to float in cyberspace following their death, adding to the grief felt by surviving family.

That, however, is slowly changing.

Thanks to a bill passed two years ago, Virginia is now among a handful of other states that have enacted legislation addressing the inheritance of email, blogs and other social media. More recently, Delaware passed a law in 2014 that gives family members and other heirs complete control over an individual’s digital accounts after their passing. And nearly a year ago, Facebook rolled out new settings that allow users to manage how their account will appear to the public and whether they want to pass it onto someone else in the event of their deaths.

“It’s big. It’s real big,” attorney Deborah Matthews told The Post in August 2014, after the Delaware legislation was announced. “I ask my clients the same thing I ask them about their safe deposit boxes: Who has access? Who has a key?”

© 2016 The Washington Post

Original Article

Check Out Massive Discounts on Laptops, Speakers, Printers, and More

Check Out Massive Discounts on Laptops, Speakers, Printers, and More

This week we have the Lenovo ThinkPad, a curved screen LED monitor from Samsung, wireless headphones by Sony and a lot more at great discounts.

1. Lenovo X250 ThinkPad


In the market for a solid Windows laptop? The Lenovo X250 ThinkPad is available with a decent cashback offer on Paytm. You can grab the laptop for as low as Rs. 84,301 (effective after cashback). Use the promo code A10K to get a cashback of Rs. 10,000 in your Paytm Wallet. The Lenovo X250 ThinkPad is powered by the fifth generation Core i7 processor, supported by 4GB of RAM. You may want to upgrade the RAM later on, for a better experience. The laptop ships with a 1TB hard drive and runs Windows 8 Pro out of the box. You’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 10. The laptop features a 12.5-inch display with anti-glare coating. It has one USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port. The 6-cell battery can last up to 9 hours on a single charge, according to Lenovo.

Price: Rs. 84,301 (effective)
Link: Paytm

2. Samsung 24-inch curved LED monitor


Add a slick curved LED monitor to your workstation, without making a hole in your wallet. The Samsung 24-inch curved LED monitor is now down to Rs. 14,352 using code MOBIEBAY08 on eBay. The monitor offers a 3000:1 static contrast ratio on a 4000R curved display, and a viewing angle of 178 degrees. The LED monitor offers a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels with a response time of 4ms. Ports include the standard HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort and an audio jack for plugging in speakers and headphones.

Price: Rs. 14,352
Link: eBay

3. Samsung SL-M2071 multi-function laser printer


The Samsung SL-M2071 multi-function laser printer is now down to Rs. 7,246 (effective after cashback) at Paytm. Use the coupon code IT18 to get a cashback of 18% in your Paytm Wallet. The monochrome printer can be a great addition to your workstation at home or office where you don’t need colored prints. You can print, scan, and copy using the in-built scanner. The printer can deliver prints at a maximum resolution of 1200×1200 dpi (dots per inch) at a maximum speed of 20 pages per minute. The Samsung SL-M2071 comes with a full 1-year manufacturer warranty.

Price: Rs. 7,246
Link: Paytm

4. Ultimate Ears Boom portable speaker


While there are plenty of great portable speakers out there, only a few offer a great package and value for money. The Ultimate Ears Boom portable speaker is one of them. Currently down to Rs. 12,990 (MRP Rs. 14,995) at Croma, the wireless speaker is compatible with all mobile devices with Bluetooth support. The speaker is also resistant to water and stains which means you can practically take it just about anywhere. You can easily pair your smartphone with the speaker if you have an NFC compatible smartphone, with a simple tap and pair feature. You can even buy two of these and pair them for an enhanced sound experience. The battery can last up to 15 hours on a single charge. You can get an additional 5% off using code Desidime.

Price: Rs. 12,490
Link: Croma

5. Sony MDR-10RBT headphones


If you’re in the market for a decent pair of wireless headphones, the Sony MDR-10RBT over-the-ear headphones are now down to Rs. 10,990 (effective after cashback) at Paytm. Use the coupon code ACC30 to get a cashback of 30% in your Paytm Wallet. The cashback is typically transferred within 24 hours of shipping a pre-paid order and within 24 hours of delivery for a cash-on-delivery order. The Sony MDR-10RBT offer Bluetooth and NFC connectivity options which means you can easily pair the headphones with a large number of devices. The headphones ship with a rechargeable battery which can last up to 17 hours on a full charge and can get charged in a little under three hours. The headphones weigh around 210 grams without the cord.

Price: Rs. 10,990
Link: Paytm

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The UNITEK 3-In-1 Connector will let you leave your laptop at home


The one thing that will weigh my bag down the most is my laptop. It is a monstrosity, but using a phone or tablet for work outside of the office just isn’t going to cut it. Opening up a laptop and setting to work anywhere is just too easy. You could make it work on your phone, but that would require opening an app, losing half of your screen to a keyboard, and you would have to use your fingers instead of a track pad or mouse, and that just doesn’t feel right.

If you like the portability of your phone, but wish you had the keyboard and mouse aspect of your laptop, then you might like having the UNITEK 3-In-1 Connector around. This is a smartphone stand that will allow you to connect three USB devices. There’s also a built-in SD card reader. The On-The-Go function will allow you to connect a flash drive, USB keyboard, or mouse to your phone.

This was meant for microUSB smartphones, but can charge your iPhone or tablet. It can act as a stand for smartphones up to 8”, and if it is not being used as a work station, this can charge three USB devices at once when plugged in. It’s plug-and-play, and supports Windows 7, 8, Vista, XP, 2000, Linux, and Mac. You will need to be near an outlet when using this $55 device. This is a great idea, but it comes with the annoyance of needing to find enough space to set everything up. You’ll have to balance out the ease of use versus the extra weight you’d have to carry with a laptop.