Best of Tech Talk Edition Email and Forum Questions Profiles in IT: Dr. Verner Vogels iPhone Forensics Avoid Phishing Sites Be careful what you tweet Able to unplug from work while you’re on vacation? Shake to Charge Batteries Solar Powered Plane Stays up 7 Days
Email from Robert Taylor: Hey Doc, Still enjoying your show in Amarillo, TX. I heard David Byrd talking up his Iphone again while I was “actually” looking at the battery in my Samsung Omnia II. I did not need to change it but it is nice to know I can! The Omnia II is actually a pretty good phone that runs Windows mobile 6.5 and has been stable for the 9 months. My son has an iPhone and has had to reload the software on it about 4 times.
A quick question about Outlook 2007. I started to see an upswing in junk email so I wanted to use the junk email filter that allows you to create a block senders list. I have noticed that there was only one email address in there even after I added several. I have found that no matter how many addresses I add to the block senders list, they all disappear after shutting Outlook down and then restarting it, leaving only that one address. I looked on the web for a solution and only found one that says the key in the registry that controls that file was corrupt and to delete the key in the registry for the block senders list. This did not work and now I am out of ideas. Any suggestions on how to fix this? Thanks for any help and you still have the best techtalk show out there. Thanks. Robert Taylor
Tech Talk Answers: Did you upgrade to Outlook 2007? If you have upgraded to Outlook 2007 from Outlook 2003 or XP, chances are that the old addins are not compatible with 2007 and may be the reason behind sluggish performance for hanging up while exiting. Try opening Outlook in the safe mode (start -> Run dialog and type outlook /safe). Then add the addresses to the block sender list and exit.
Best solution: a fresh install, then an import of your old 2003 .pst file.
Email from Lauren: Dear Tech Talk, I own a HP G85 All-In-One fax/copy/print/scan printer. It has worked Great for many years. I have VoIP Phone service. I use to have Vonage and Could Send Faxes without any problem. I never had to do any adjustments with the fax settings. Just started a new account with a New phone company, NetTalk. When I asked if I could send faxes, they said Yes!! But, they said I needed to set fax machine Baud rate to: 9600, and I did. They told me I needed to change the error correction mode to OFF. I did. After all of that, the fax display says, "Off hook" I DID connect the phone line to the fax machine/G85 all in one. And I plugged it phone line into the phone device. Still this is not working. Please help. PS The tech support at NetTalk seems limited…Thanks, Lauren
Tech Talk Answers: VoIP has compression algorithms that interfere with faxing. In order to get the fax to work on Ooma, the VoIP service that I have, I must turn off VoIP compression by entering *99 before the number that I am faxing too. Without *99, the fax will not go through.
I went to the NetTalk support website. They said that, “You can use a fax machine. If you are keeping a land line just for your fax, get rid of it! Keep in mind, you must have fax machine that supports VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)”
They also have a footnote at the bottom of their home page. * Faxing on best effort basis due to VoIP technology.
The off-hook indicator is measuring the line impedance and thinks another phone on the circuit is off-hook. This should not be affected by the ECM or Baud rate settings.
Email from Angelica: Dear Tech Talk. What happens when my anti-malware tool quarantines something? How does the Quarantine function by an anti-malware software works? Specifically, when a malware is placed in quarantine, how is that malware rendered impotent? Is the quarantine escape-proof? Should we delete a malware from quarantine as soon as I am sure it’s not a false positive? Angelica
Tech Talk Answers: Even though "quarantine" is a common term among anti-malware tools, there’s actually not a consistent definition of exactly what it means. Malware being quarantined in all likelihood means this:
The file identified as containing malware is moved to a folder that Windows would normally not look in. The file is renamed. Much malware relies on the filename being similar to existing Windows files, and/or being a file type – such as ".exe" – that Windows would normally run as a program. Renaming the file removes both of those possibilities, preventing Windows from running the file, and making it obvious by it’s name that the file is in quarantine.
The file may also be marked as "hidden", or (if on a file system that supports it) the permissions on it may be reset such that the file cannot be opened by normal system processes.
The only way malware could return is if you manually restored it outside of the anti-malware software. I’m not aware of any malicious way that malware would return from the grave. , As a result, I don’t see a pressing need to delete malware from quarantine; it’s just not likely to come back from there. But then again I also don’t see a reason not to.
Profiles in IT: Dr. Verner Vogels
Dr. Werner Vogels is the Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Amazon.com
Verner Vogels was born October 3, 1958 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Vogels received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.
He is the author of many conference and journal articles, mainly on distributed systems technologies for enterprise computing systems.
From 1991 through 1994 he was a senior researcher at INESC in Lisbon, Portugal.
From 1994 until 2004, Vogels was a scientist at the Computer Science Department of Cornell University, conducting research in scalable reliable enterprise systems
He joined Amazon in September 2004 as the Director of Systems Research.
He was named Chief Technology Officer in January 2005 and Vice President, World-wide Architecture in March of that year.
In charge of driving technology innovation within the company, Vogels has broad internal and external responsibilities.
He is the only executive apart from Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos to speak publicly on behalf of Amazon.com.
Vogels maintains a technology oriented weblog named “All Things Distributed” which he started in 2001 while he was still at Cornell.
Vogels described the deep technical nature of Amazon’s infrastructure work in a paper about Amazon’s Dynamo, the storage engine for the Amazon Shopping Cart.
He is in general regarded as one of the world’s top experts on ultra-scalable systems and he uses his weblog to discuss issues such as eventual consistency.
When he was hired by Amazon, he characterized his job as that of a “big thinker” conceptualizing a scalable framework for Amazons web services.
Now that the system has been created, he has evolved into a “cloud computing” and HPC on-demand evangelist explaining the service to potential clients. He has gone from technologist to teacher….a perfect role for a former professor.
He preaches the 70/30 rule. 70% of the time is spent of undifferentiated infrastructure heavy lifting and 30% of the time is spent of differentiated value creation. He wants to sell you the 70% so you can spend time on the 30%.
During 2008 it became evident that Vogels was one of the architects behind Amazon’s approach to Cloud Computing, the Amazon Web Services (AWS).
During that year Vogels was continuously on the road to promote Cloud Computing and AWS and its benefits to the industry.
Information Week recognized Vogels for this educational and promotional role in Cloud Computing with the 2008 CIO/CTO of the Year award.
Vogels is married to Annet Vogels, a former musician with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. They have two daughters.
Law-enforcement experts said iPhone technology records a wealth of information that can be tapped more easily than BlackBerry and Droid devices to help police learn where you’ve been, what you were doing there and whether you’ve got something to hide.
"Very, very few people have any idea how to actually remove data from their phone," said Sam Brothers, a cell-phone forensic researcher with U.S. Customs and Border Protection who teaches law-enforcement agents how to retrieve information from iPhones in criminal cases.
Two years ago, as iPhone sales skyrocketed, former hacker Jonathan Zdziarski decided law-enforcement agencies might need help retrieving data from the devices.
He wrote a 144-page book, iPhone Forensics for O’Reilly Media.
Every time an iPhone user closes out of the built-in mapping application, the phone snaps a screenshot and stores it. Those screen snapshots can contain images of e-mails or proof of activities that might be incriminating.
iPhone photos are embedded with GEO tags and identifying information, meaning that photos posted online might not only include GPS coordinates of where the picture was taken and the serial number of the phone that took it.
Even more information is stored by the applications themselves, including the user’s browser history. That data is meant in part to direct custom-tailored advertisements to the user, but experts said that some of it could prove useful to police.
Clearing out user histories isn’t enough to clean the device of that data. With the iPhone, even if it’s in the deleted bin, it may still be in the database. Much is contained deep within the phone.
Most iPhone users agree to let the device locate them so they can use fully the phone’s mapping functions, as well as various global positioning system applications. The free application Urbanspoon is primarily designed to help users locate nearby restaurants. Yet the data stored there might not only help police pinpoint where a suspect was during a crime.
Phone call histories and text messages most useful in homicide cases.
The iPhone logs everything that you type in to learn autocorrect" so that it can correct a user’s typing mistakes. Apple doesn’t store that cache very securely. Someone with know-how could recover months of typing in the order in which it was typed, even if the e-mail or text it was part of has long since been deleted.
The courts have treated mobile phones like a within-reach container that police can search the same way they can check items in a glove box or cigarette pack.
However, the Ohio Supreme Court in 2009 ruled to bar warrantless searches of cell phone data. That case is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Avoid Phishing Sites
During a three-month study of its global malware database, Panda Security found on average 57,000 new Web sites created each week with the aim of exploiting a brand name in order to steal information that can be used to drain peoples’ bank accounts.
About 80 percent of those were phishing sites designed to trick people into entering their login credentials or other information on what they believed to be a legitimate bank or other Web site.
The remainder were URLs associated with command-and-control servers used in Western Union-related e-mail phishing attacks that trick people into opening an attachment that downloads a Windows-based data-stealing Trojan.
The study found that 375 high-profile brand names were being used for the fraud, with eBay (23 percent) and Western Union (21 percent) together comprising 44 percent of all the malicious Web sites discovered.
Rounding out the top 10 list of exploited brands were: Visa, United Services Automobile Association, HSBC, Amazon, Bank of America, PayPal, Internal Revenue Service, and Bendigo Bank (Australia).
For the phishers, banks were obviously the most popular choice to mimic, at 65 percent of the total, followed by online stores and auction sites, investment funds and stockbrokers, government organizations and payment platforms.
How the attacks work
Typically, phishing attacks arrive in an e-mail message that looks like it comes from a popular bank or other institution. The link directs to a fake site where the user is prompted to provide information like login credentials.
It might sound like a lot of work creating all the new fake Web sites, but actually it can be done fairly quickly by copying the source code of the Web site they want to fake.
And there are toolkits to help do this.
And there is a phishing attack targeting Bank of America customers that downloads malware on the victim’s computer that adds additional fields to the bank login page asking for debit or credit card number and PIN and sends that information back to the criminals, he said.
Unlike the Trojan attack, which targets Windows users, most phishing attacks designed to trick a user into revealing information affect all computer users regardless of what operating system they are using.
Be careful what you tweet
Nothing said online is really private, says Bill Thompson
Online tools and services such as Twitter and Facebook create a social space that encourages informality, rapid responses and the sort of conversation that typically takes place between friends in contexts that are either private or public-private, like the street, pub or cafe.
Unfortunately, online interaction has other characteristics which are very different from those of a casual conversation in a cafe.
Not least the fact that many services make comments visible to large numbers of people and search engines ensure that a permanent record is kept of every inane observation, spiteful aside or potentially libelous comment on a respected public figure.
Tweeting in haste may leave you to repent at leisure”
Able to unplug from work while you’re on vacation?
An Expedia.com survey from earlier this summer found that nearly a third of workers — up from about 25 percent the previous year — admitted to checking their work e-mail or voicemail while sitting by the pool, hiking in the hills, or otherwise trying to take some time off.
The rise in connected vacationers could explain another worrying statistic from last month’s Expedia survey: the 55 percent of workers who say they’re not "feeling rejuvenated" after they come back from their vacations.
I am in the third who check email when on vacation….using a Blackberry.
Do you check your work e-mail while you’re on vacation? How about your office voicemail?
Shake to Charge Batteries
With the introduction of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries many gadgets have moved away from using AA and AAA batteries.
But for certain devices e.g. a TV remote, these one use batteries are still the norm.
Although rechargeable versions of such batteries exist, most people still rely on using the standard one use versions and throwing them away, which is very wasteful.
Brother Industries may have come up with an alternative for low-power devices, however.
A new Vibration-power Generating Battery (VpGB) has been created which can be produced in both AA and AAA sizes. Unlike those batteries though, it does not contain a certain amount of energy which gets discharged and then becomes useless. Instead, shaking the battery generates power which can then be used immediately.
So with a VpGB in your remote, all you need do is shake the remote and then use as normal. The battery won’t ever need replacing, and therefore there is no waste until the remote’s life is over.
VpGB’s can’t replace standard batteries completely, but for any device that only needs power occasionally, and consumes no more than 100mW (AAA) or 180mW (AA), they are perfect.
The VpGB is set to be demonstrated at the Techno-frontier 2010 show held from July 21 to 23, 2010.
Solar Powered Plane Stays up 7 Days
The solar powered aircraft, named Zephyr, has achieved a new record. ..staying up for 7 days.
The craft took off from the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona at 1440 BST (0640 local time) last Friday and is still in the air.
Its non-stop operation, day and night, means it has now gone five times longer than the official mark recognized by the world air sports federation.
Zephyr is basically the first ‘eternal. Zephyr has been under development for a number of years at Qinetiq.
Solar-powered high-altitude long-endurance (Hale) UAVs are expected to have a wide range of applications in the future.
The military will want to use them as reconnaissance and communications platforms.
Civilian and scientific programs will equip them with small payloads for Earth observation duties.
The latest version of Zephyr is now 50% bigger than its predecessors with a wingspan of 22 meters.