Best of Tech Talk taken from previous shows Email from Listeners Profile in IT: Andrew S. Tanenbaum Geek or Nerd? Password Management The Ten Commandments of cell phone etiquette Food Science: Herbs and Spices Dumb Idea of the Week: Mobile Phone Fragrance Service of the Week: Slydial
Details of the previously recorded segments are shown below.
Email from Listeners
Email from Bob in Fairfax: I will be travelling in Poland for 5 days and be in Berlin, Germany for 2 week in a couple of months. The primary consideration is to have a cell phone for emergency calls and calls to hotels, theatres and museums. Secondary consideration would be operability back in the USA. I currently have a cheap prepaid T-Mobile SIM phone. My price range would be under $180. However, I would consider spending more on your recommendation. After spending all the money on tickets and hotels, an expensive phone would be a drop in the bucket. Lastly, All the Internet, camera and assorted bells and whistles are of limited utility to me. I can see where Internet access could be useful. Should I purchase or rent in Poland?
I would appreciate a your recommendation on the following: A cell phone, a prepaid service that would work in both countries, reputable web sites for phone sales and SIM cards, sources of useful information about my inquiry
I have been listening to the program for years. I love the little technical gems you come up with. Although, I have been using drop.io for a couple of years. You should encourage your audience to send you technical gems. How about a gem of the week contest?
I usually tune in the WFED webcast and record the program in Audacity at home while I listen in the car and do errands. Then I have a record of things I can’t jot down while driving. I have listend to the archives from time to time. For some reason I rarely think about going to an archive while doing many other things on the web. I enjoy the show and consider myself a loyal listener. Regards, Bob in Fairfax
Techtalk Answers: Bob needs an unlocked GSM phone for those countries. He can buy a SIM card in each country and charge it with prepaid minutes. It will be for voice only. Do not use the US SIM card. It will cost a lot per minute. That means he will have a different phone number in each country. If the phone is for emergency use only he can us the US SIM card and pay two or there dollars per minute.
He needs to select a US carrier with GSM. Her choices are T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint. He can get a one or two year plan in the Us with data if she wants email and Internet. He must get them to unlock the phone for carriers outside the US. The phone cost will be subsidized by the carrier. If she plans to use the Internet very much in the US she should get an unlimited data plan.
Email from JP: Hey Doc. I really enjoy your show & I’ve been listening via podcast download for a couple of months now. I was wondering if you had some way to search through all 10 years of your download library to find specific topics of interested. I know you have a description of each show, unless it is a repeat of an old show, but that’s a lot to search through. Also, I’d like to know how to block some new junk text messages I have been getting lately on my razor? Is it a good idea to reply for them to “stop”? My provider is AT&T
PS: you said you like Pandora, I also like Grooveshark until my IT Department. shut down all streaming. Thanks, JP (Arkansas)
Tech Talk Answers: JP, we don’t have a specific search function for Tech Talk. However, you can use Google advanced search to get what you want. Simply use this search string: “Search phrase” "tech talk" site:stratford.edu.
You can block most text message spam. AT&T allows you control your texting. Go to your Personal Preferences page on the AT&T wireless site. You have several options to block text messages. Your choices are to:
Block text messages sent as email (from email accounts)
Block all multimedia messages send as email
Block all messages sent from mobile numbers
Block messages sent from specific email accounts or domains
Allow all messages sent from specific email accounts or domains
As far as streaming at work, I don’t blame IT for blocking Grooveshark. Streaming is a bandwidth hog. We block it too at Stratford.
Email from Robert Taylor: Dear Techtalk Radio: My daughter in law recently got a virus by clicking on a popup which claimed to be a security program which detected a virus on her computer. When she clicked on it the hidden program ran an executable file that infected her computer with a terrible rootkit virus. She finally got rid of the virus via Dell tech support. The question I have is could she have used the system restore point feature in Windows 7 to go back to an earlier date to clear this problem up? Are rootkits hard to get rid of if you don’t wipe the drive?
Thank you for a very informative podcast. I am a commercial fisherman on the Chesapeake Bay and listen to your show and previous shows through the Itunes podcast download when I’m going to and from the fishing grounds. Robert Tyler
Tech Talk Answers: A system restore will not get rid of a rootkit because they intercept all system commands and protect themselves. You need a rootkit removal tool that looks for rootkit masking behavior. Sophos has a free anti-rootkit removal tool that can be downloaded. Just Google and you can get the address.
Email from Lynn: Dear Dr. Richard Shurtz, I work as a tech writer in No VA and need to learn how to build Macros in WORD ’07. I have bought several books on WORD 07 but they are not detailed enough to enable me to master doing this. I work with really lengthy documents and I need to be working smarter soon or I’ll never keep up with my workload. It is my hope that you know of some really good website that some Guru has created on WORD 07 where I can find heavy users of WORD and chat and learn from them. The life of a tech writer can get rather lonely and there is no one at my job doing this work but me. Thanks, Lynn
Tech Talk Answers: Lynn, take a deep breath. Macros are easy to create in MS Office products. You can simply use the record function to create a macro. Go to Tools/Macro/Record New Macro. Then simply do the things that you want to automate with a macro. Word will create a Visual Basic script as you do the operations. When you are finished, simply name and save the Macro. You can then open the Macro using the Visual Basic Script Editor and you can see the commands that were created. Viewing a finished script is actually one of the best ways to learn a new language. Also, don’t forget to view the many build-in macros within Word. You may already have what you want.
Email from Tom: Dear Dr. Shurtz, Just wanted to send you an e-mail message and let you know I listen to your radio program every Saturday on WWWB 820 in Frederick. I live in Harrisburg Pennsylvania and the station comes in quite well. I can also hear WWWT 1500 but not as well as WWWB. A few years ago I used to listen to, I think it was you, on WMAL 630. I found it interesting that you talked about the way spammers discovered how to get around using the CAPTCHA verification. I am a blind computer user and one of our biggest recent problems has been using websites where a CAPTCHA is used. Our screen readers can not read the text in the image box and therefore we are not able to access anything where they are used. Leave it up to the spammers to figure out a way to get around them. Blindness advocacy groups have been protesting this method of verification for a long time but so far there has not been a resolution to the problem. Thanks, Tom
Tech Talk Responds: audio CAPTCHAs are available, Akismet may be of use
Profile in IT: Andrew S. Tanenbaum
Andrew Stuart Tanenbaum is best known for his six computer science textbooks, including: Computer Networks and Operating Systems: Design and Implementation.
He is also known as the author of MINIX, a free Unix-like operating system.
Operating Systems: Design and Implementation and MINIX were Linus Torvalds’ inspiration for the Linux kernel.
Andy Tanenbaum was born in 1944 in NYC and grew up in White Plains, NY.
He received a BS in Physics from MIT in 1965 and a PhD in Physics from UC Berkeley in 1971.
He moved to the Netherlands assumed the position of professor of computer science at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
In 1987, Tanenbaum wrote the first open-source clone of UNIX, called MINIX (MIni-uNIX), for the IBM PC.
He had been teaching UNIX using internal Bell Laboratory documents. When Bell Labs attempted to stop all UNIX instruction at Universities, he created MINIX.
It was targeted at students who wanted to learn how an operating system worked.
He wrote a book that listed the source code in an appendix and described it in detail.
Within three months, a USENET newsgroup, comp.os.minix, had sprung up.
One of these readers was a Finnish student named Linus Torvalds.
On October 5, 1991, Torvalds announced his own (POSIX like, Portable Operating System Interface) operating system, called Linux.
Although MINIX and Linux have diverged, MINIX continues to be developed, now as a production system as well as an educational one.
The system is based on a microkernel, with only 4000 lines of code in the kernel.
The rest of the OS runs as a number of independent processes in user mode, including processes for the file system, process manager, and each device driver.
The system continuously monitors each of these processes, and when a failure is detected is often capable of automatically replacing the failed process without a reboot, without disturbing running programs, and without the user even noticing.
MINIX 3, as the current version is called, is available at www.minix3.org.
Tanenbaum has had a number of Ph.D. students who themselves have gone on to become famous computer science researchers.
Tanenbaum and Torvalds feud started with Tanenbaum’s comp.os.minix usenet post dated January 29, 1992. Subject: LINUX is obsolete.
MINIX is a microkernel-based system. LINUX is a monolithic style system. This is a giant step back into the 1970s.
MINIX was designed to be reasonably portable… LINUX is tied fairly closely to the 80×86. Not the way to go.
Your job is being a professor and researcher: That’s one hell of a good excuse for some of the brain-damages of minix.
The USENET flame war was started. Eventually Torvalds apologized for responding
Tanenbaum made up and now Tanenbaum refers to Torvalds as one of his most successful students.
Geek or Nerd?
Are you a geek, or are you a nerd? Here’s your chance to find out.
There are many confused lay people out there in today’s modern world who are unhappily unaware of the difference between geeks and nerds.
Even more sadly, there are also many geeks and nerds who do not know of the true nature of their own stereotype.
Geek: A person who is interested in technology, especially computing and new media. Comparable with the classic definition of hacker. Formerly referred to a wild circus performer who bit off the heads of live chickens, snakes, or bats.
Nerd: Nerd is a term often bearing a derogatory connotation or stereotype, that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities or esoteric knowledge rather than engaging in more social activities, such as organized sports.
Geek is a subset of nerd.
All geeks are nerds
All nerds are not geeks
A password manager is software that helps a user organize passwords and PIN codes.
The software typically has a local database or files that holds the encrypted password data.
Many password managers also work as a form filler, thus they fill the user and password data automatically into forms. Some have password generator capabilities.
Disadvantage is that a compromised master password would render all stored passwords unusable.
Advantage is that only one password needs to be remembered.
Password Safe runs on PCs under Windows (95/98/NT/2000/XP).
The Ten Commandments of cell phone etiquette
Thou shalt not subject defenseless others to cell phone conversations.
Thou shalt not set thy ringer to play La Cucaracha every time thy phone rings.
Thou shalt turn thy cell phone off during public performances.
Thou shalt not wear more than two wireless devices on thy belt.
Thou shalt not dial while driving.
Thou shalt not wear thy earpiece when thou art not on thy phone.
Thou shalt not speak louder on thy cell phone than thou would on any other phone.
Thou shalt not grow too attached to thy cell phone. For obvious reasons, a dependency on constant communication is not healthy. At work, go nuts. At home, give it a rest.
Thou shalt not attempt to impress with thy cell phone.
Thou shalt not slam thy cell phone down on a restaurant table just in case it rings.
Food Science: Herbs and Spices
What is the difference between a spice and an herb?
Spice is the ground up part of a plant. Spices are usually the dried flowers or fruits of tropical trees and shrubs. There are exceptions; ginger and turmeric are roots and cinnamon is the cambium or inner bark of a tree.
Herbs are the dried leaves of plants – usually annuals or perennials. So herbs are green. Herbs can either be freshly picked or dried and stored in airtight containers. Drying tends to mellow the flavor and is favored by some chefs.
What we detect when we smell herbs or spices is the essential oils they contain. It is the volatility of the oil that makes the spice fragrant. And it is that same volatility that causes it to lose flavor in storage.
When a spice is stored in big chunks it takes some time for the volatile oils to escape.
Think first of nutmeg – a nutmeg nut stored properly will be spicy for years. But when the spice is ground into tiny bits the essential oils come out quickly.
We keep them whole as long as possible to lock in the flavor.
Then we grind them to release the lovely flavor and fragrance just before eating.
Cilantro and Coriander
The plant Coriandrum sativum, the leaves are used as the herb cilantro while the seed is used as the spice coriander.
Nutmeg and Mace
In the case of nutmeg and mace, the two are separate parts of the fruit of a tree that grows in only a few places in the world. Nutmeg is the seed and mace is the reddish web that surrounds the seed.
Bay Leaves come from the sweet bay or laurel tree.
Ancient Greeks and Romans crowned victors with wreaths of laurel.
Bay Leaves, a staple in American kitchens, are used in soups, stews, meat and vegetable dishes. The leaves also flavor classic French dishes such as bouillabaisse and bouillon.
The term "baccalaureate," means laurel berry, and refers to the ancient practice of honoring scholars and poets with garlands from the bay laurel tree.
Romans felt the leaves protected them against thunder and the plague.
Later, Italians and the English thought Bay Leaves brought good luck and warded off evil.
Basil is a bright green, leafy plant, Ocimum basilicum, which is in the mint family.
Basil is widely used in Italian cuisine and is often paired with tomatoes.
Basil originated in India and Persia, and was both prized and despised by ancient peoples.
Though its name means, "be fragrant," Greeks hated it.
However, the Romans loved it and made it a symbol of love and fertility.
Hindus plant it in their homes to bring happiness to the family.
Saffron is the stigma of Crocus sativus, a flowering plant in the crocus family.
Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, is costly because more than 225,000 stigmas must be hand picked to produce one pound.
Saffron is used in French bouillabaisse, Spanish paella, Milanese risotto, and many Middle Eastern dishes.
Ancient Greeks and Romans scattered Saffron to perfume public baths.
The 13th century Crusaders brought Saffron from Asia to Europe, where it was used as a dye and condiment.
In Asia, Saffron was a symbol of hospitality.
In India, people used Saffron to mark themselves as members of a wealthy caste.
Dumb Idea of the Week: Mobile Phone Fragrance
NTT Communications (NTT Com) announced on April 7th that it will conduct a pilot test of its new Mobile Fragrance Communication service.
Fragrance Communication is now used by companies and individuals to enhance indoor environments with pleasing fragrances.
The device will be able to combine ringtones or music with fragrances.
You will have a playlist and a scent list.
Associating a scent with a particular ringtone could be fun
The pilot test will run from April 10 to 20.
The new mobile version offers the convenience of using mobile communication to download Fragrance Playlists, or files of recipes for specific fragrances together with visual and audio content.
The Fragrance Playlists are downloaded from the "i-mode" mobile website of sister company NTT DoCoMo.
In the pilot test, a total of 20 male and female monitors will each receive a free Mobile Fragrance Communication kit containing a mobile phone and fragrance device.
Five of the monitors will also be given Service Gateway modules which an remotely emit fragrances at home
Service of the Week: Slydial
But a free new phone service called Slydial might make it easier to get through awkward moments without actually having to talk to anyone.
Slydial lets you connect directly with another person’s cell phone voice mail by bypassing the traditional ringing process that often results.
You are guaranteed that the other person will not pick up.
Users call (267) SLY-DIAL from either a cell phone or a landline, and are prompted to enter another person’s cell phone number.
The service is free.
You must listen to on ad before being connection to voicemail.