Show of 8-14-2010

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Nikita: Dear Dr. Richard Shurtz. On July 23 my computer lost it’s ability to function. I was invaded by some Anti-Virus software that actually WAS the virus. It began by my getting insistent Windows Alert messages and then fewer and fewer things were working ’til nothing much was working at all.
    • I called a tech smart friend and he told me I needed to run MalWareBytes and Combofix. Since my computer was able to work in Safe-Mode, he sent me these files as email attachments and I installed and ran them.
    • I was using totally updated ESET anti-virus, as it had always been highly recommended by tech savvy people I know. But, this Trojan/virus/whatever made it’s way past the ESET anti-virus software. If you have any advice on how I can better protect my online life, I’d be grateful to learn what I can do to keep these twisted deviants at bay. Thanks much, Nikita
    • Tech Talk Responds: This is a problem. Anti-Virus software that is actually malware. You were given the option to install this software which you took. No one can protect you from this. You need to be very cautious about clicking on links of this nature.
    • Email from Kirk: Dr. Shurtz. All this week, the Wall Street Journal has run an excellent series on internet privacy.  A survey of the biggest 50 sites by traffic reveals that each site installs an average of 60 pieces of tracking software to learn as much as possible about the user.  These programs including tracking programs, cookies (including third party cookies which are apparently the major culprit, “beacons,” and keylogging software.
    • The series also included a story about the development of Internet Explorer version 8 where the programming staff argued for stiff security protection, but they were overruled by Microsoft advertising officials who felt that would inhibit their own advertising efforts.  So, while the high security option is available, it is difficult to turn on and is actually turned off each time the software is closed!  In other words, the user must turn the feature back on every time IE 8 is run.
    • Anyway, I’m sure some really smart programmer has figured out a patch to IE 8 to keep the security software turned on all the time.  Do you know of any such patch?  If not, can you recommend other ways to keep prying eyes out of my computer? Kirk, Fairfax, Va.
    • Tech Talk responds: Good email and observations about IE8. More to come about this later in the show. I don’t know of any patch that will enable InPrivate filtering permanently. You can enable it with the keyboard shortcut Cntl-Shift-F.
    • Email from Michael: Hi Guys. I got the following email form the IRS with a link to get my refund. It is a fake because I am not even a US Citizen.
      • Subject: Re: Urgent Tax Notification
      • After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $63.80. Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 6-9 days in order to process it.
      • A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.
      • To access the form for your tax refund, please click here.
      • Regards, Internal Revenue Service
    • Warn your listeners. Thanks Michael
    • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the warning. Tax refund scams are in season now. Beware. Do not go to any links offered in an email.
    • Email from Bethesda:
      Dear Dr.

      Shurtz, I would like to get Bloomberg Radio or TV.I don’t have cable/FiOS TV though am contemplating reluctantly getting it. Seems my choices are to watch Bloomberg radio and/or TV on my PC. But what can I do when exercising or in the car.Get XM radio or Serius satellite radio? Which is cheaper?

    • If you can recommend the least costly way to be able to gain access to Bloomberg and not have to sign up for FiOS TV.I have FiOS internet, but don’t want the boatload of other channels that come bundled into that service.
    • I thought I had it figured out – just move my laptop to the basement while I exercise. The wireless connection does work down there, but, there seems to be an ongoing need to reload the Bloomberg radio page (is this  a browser setting issue??)… and I have no remote that controls what is happening on my laptop while I’m on a piece of equipment exercising. Maybe I need an I-Pad? Is there some approach I’m missing? You really deliver a great service to your listeners. Thanks. Bethesda Fan
    • Tech Talk Answers: The laptop is your best option for the basement. Turn off your screen saver so the TV can be viewed without touching the computer. As for SM or Sirius in the car, you can get programming for around $12 per month…or get an ala carte program $6.95 month. Bloomberg is on both.
    • You can get an IR USB remote control for your laptop for $12 to $20.
  • Profiles in IT: Min H. Kao
    • Min H. Kao was co-founder of Garmin navigation.
    • Min H. Kao was born in 1949 in Taiwan.
    • After serving in the Taiwanese Navy, Kao attended National Taiwan University where he received a Bachelors degree.
    • Kao received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the National Taiwan University in Taipei.
    • After graduation, he was offered a teaching assistantship at the University of Tennessee, which helped to pay for his tuition and expenses, he decided to accept.
    • As a graduate student, Kao worked on research projects under the guidance of now-retired ECE professors Dr. James Hung and Dr. Robert Bodenheimer.
    • He moved to the United States to attend the University of Tennessee.
    • As a graduate student he performed research for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the United States Army.
    • After receiving his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from UT in 1975 and 1977, respectively, Kao accepted a position at Teledyne, where he was involved in the development of various navigation systems.
    • He then moved to Magnavox Advanced Products where he designed the Kalman filter algorithms for Phase II GPS user equipment.
    • In 1983 he was hired by Gary Burrell to work at Allied’s King subsidiary.
    • During his years working with Burrell, Kao led the team that developed the first GPS navigation system that was to be certified for use in airplanes by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
    • Kao had been thinking of starting a company, and had recently visited old school friends in Taiwan, one of whom was an investment banker, who assured Kao that if he wanted to launch a company, launch money would be available.
    • Within weeks of their meeting, Burrell and Kao were on a plane to Taipei, Taiwan.
    • Within months, they had raised $4 million, including the combined contents of their personal savings accounts.
    • The capital was sufficient to hire a dozen engineers and to rent office and work space in Lenexa, Kansas.
    • They named the new company ProNav, but changed it to Garmin in 1991 when a competitor, using the name NavPro on one of its GPS receivers, sued for trademark infringement.
    • Garmin” is a combination of the founders’ names, Gary and Min.
    • By 1995 Garmin’s sales had reached $105 million, and had achieved a profit of $23 million.
    • By 1999 the company’s products had captured about half of the North American market share of GPS receivers.
    • The company began public trading on NASDAQ on 8 December 2000.
    • Burrell retired in 2003 as Garmin’s Chief Executive Officer and in 2004 retired as Chairman of its Board of Directors.
    • Kao became CEO in 2003, and Chairman in 2004.
    • In 2005 Forbes Magazine estimated Kao’s net worth at $1.5 billion.
    • He recently donated $17.5 million to the University of Tennessee
  • Microsoft Blocks Effort to Boost Online Privacy
    • In early 2008, Microsoft Corp.’s product planners for the Internet Explorer 8.0 browser intended to give users a simple, effective way to avoid being tracked online.
    • They wanted to design the software to automatically thwart common tracking tools, unless a user deliberately switched to settings affording less privacy.
    • That triggered heated debate inside Microsoft.
    • In the end, the product planners lost a key part of the debate. And the advertisers won.
    • The winners: executives who argued that giving automatic privacy to consumers would make it tougher for Microsoft to profit from selling online ads.
    • Microsoft built its browser so that users must deliberately turn on privacy settings every time they start up the software.
    • Microsoft bought aQuantive, a Web-ad firm, in 2007 for more than $6 billion, to build a business selling ads online.
    • At a meeting in the spring of 2008, Brian McAndrews, a Microsoft senior vice president who had been chief executive of aQuantive before Microsoft acquired it, complained to the browser planners.
    • The debate widened after executives from Microsoft’s advertising team informed outside advertising and online-publishing groups of Microsoft’s privacy plans for Explorer.
    • When Microsoft released the browser in its final form in March 2009, the privacy features were a lot different from what its planners had envisioned. Internet Explorer required the consumer to turn on the feature that blocks tracking by websites, called InPrivate Filtering. It wasn’t activated automatically.
    • What’s more, even if consumers turn the feature on, Microsoft designed the browser so InPrivate Filtering doesn’t stay on permanently. Users must activate the privacy setting every time they start up the browser.
    • The best-known of those technologies are browser "cookies," small files stored on users’ computers that act as identification tags for them when they visit websites.
      • Some cookies, such as those installed when a user asks a favorite website to remember his password, don’t do tracking.
      • Others are installed on computers by companies that provide advertising services to the websites a user visits.
      • These "third-party" cookies can be designed to track a user’s online activities over time, building a database of personal interests and other details.
      • The Journal’s examination of the top 50 most popular U.S. websites showed that Microsoft placed third-party tracking devices on 27 of the top 46 sites that it doesn’t itself own.
      • All the latest Web browsers, including Internet Explorer, let consumers turn on a feature that prevents third-party browser cookies from being installed on their computers.
      • But those settings aren’t always easy to find. Only one major browser, Apple’s Safari, is preset to block all third-party cookies, in the interest of user privacy.
  • Oracle Sues Google over Java Patent Violation
    • Oracle has claimed in a legal filing lodged with a US court Thursday that Google’s Android operating system infringes on seven patents it owns regarding Java.
    • Sun previously prosecuted Microsoft for breaking compatibly with the official Java implementation because it modified Java for Windows by inserting proprietary extensions into Java.
    • This time, Oracle wants to end once and for all the dispute over where different versions of Java are allowed to run.
    • At the center of the case is Dalvik — the virtual machine built on a subset of the Apache Software Foundation’s Project Harmony implementation of Java Standard Edition (Java SE).
    • Dalvik recompiles Harmony class libraries for mobile devices to take account for the machines’ limited
    • According to precedent and tradition, Google should have used Java Micro Edition (Java ME) for Android — that’s what other Java handset makers have used.
    • Instead, Google chose to put a version of desktop Java on Android Linux.
    • The Java license is clear: even though Java is open source, Oracle grants a non-exclusive, non-transferable, limited license to use Java.
    • Oracle is arguing that Google’s Android has violated its Java patents by running on a mobile device, where it’s not allowed, instead of sticking to the desktop, where it’s permitted.
    • As more Android devices ship and Android increases its market share, Java ME users such as Blackberry have started to lose market share.
    • That means Dalvik is digging in and it risks becoming a permanent force in mobile that Java ME vendors could never dislodge and must compete against.
    • Worse for the pretender to the Java throne, Oracle risked losing control over a large part of the mobile Java market.
    • It would be unrewarding for Oracle to chase the Apache Software Foundation, it being an open-source organization.
    • Far better to chase Google, the body with the commercial implementation of Harmony.
  • India threatens to suspend Blackberry Usage
    • India has given Blackberry phone maker RIM a deadline of 31 August to give the government access to all of its services or face being shut down.
    • The country is reported to be considering similar bans on Skype and Google services, according to the Financial Times.
    • RIM has issued a statement outlining when it claims "lawful" access to encrypted data is acceptable.
    • In the statement, RIM sets out four principles which underpin any request for access to data sent and received by Blackberry handsets.
    • It includes a stipulation that Blackberry services are not treated any differently to its competitors in terms of access.
    • It also states that "no changes to the security architecture for Blackberry Enterprise Server customers" can be made.
    • It will get resolved if there is a chance for rational discussion”
    • India fears the device could be used by militants and insurgents in a repeat of the 2008 attack on Mumbai that left 166 people dead.
    • The row is the latest in a long running dispute between Research in Motion (RIM) and international governments.
    • The central issue is how governments monitor the encrypted traffic from Blackberry devices.
    • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the first country to propose a block on the devices, saying they posed a "national security risk" in their ability to send messages and e-mail without the authorities having the ability to monitor the communications.
    • RIM sends this data to servers in Canada and the encryption used to secure this is virtually uncrackable.
    • Other countries followed the UAE’s lead, including Lebanon, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
    • In July this year, RIM responded to a report in India‘s Economic Times that said the firm would allow Indian security authorities to monitor Blackberry services.
    • The firm said it co-operated with all governments "with a consistent standard and the same degree of respect", but denied it had ever provided anything unique to the government of one country that it had not offered to the governments of all countries.
  • iPhone Wanabees Are Released
    • Droid2 and Blackberry Torch are released this week.
    • No lines. No hype. So un-iPhone.
    • The Droid 2 has a physical keyboard and ships with the latest version of Android, which will attract some users, but it’s heavier and clunkier than its peers, and it lacks their screen size, camera quality and video capturing capabilities.
    • The BlackBerry Torch is a different story. It’s clearly the best BlackBerry that Research In Motion has ever made, with a touch screen/slide-out keyboard combo and a new operating system.
    • But non-committed smartphone customers who wander into an AT&T store will be faced with the dilemma of paying $199 for a Torch or $199 for an iPhone 4 — with the same data plan and same AT&T network.