Show of 12-17-2011

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Craig: Hello Tech Talk. I was wondering if I needed to have a Diploma or GED for the culinary diploma program. Thanks
  • Tech Talk Responds: You need either a GED or High School Diploma to enroll at Stratford University. You can contact the admissions department at admissions@stratford.edu. Thanks for listening to Tech Talk
  • Email from Geek Chick in Bethesda: Dear Dr. Richard Shurtz, I participate in two community listservs both hosted by Yahoo Groups. I noticed a post on each of them that I DID NOT POST this weekend!
  • How does this happen and how do I protect myself from such a hijack of my email going forward? What is the best way to get this cleared up? I assume I’ll have to create a new yahoo email and reregister with each listserv? Thanks, Margaret
  • Tech Talk Responds: Try logging onto the account and check the configuration. In particular check to make certain that the contact email address has not been changed.
  • If you cannot log on, immediately try to reset your password. If they have not changed the contact email address, you will be sent a reset option via email. If you can change the password, you will have reclaimed your account. If you cannot successfully reset the password or log on, you will have to set up a new account. It will be difficult to get it back at this point. It is possible, but very difficult and frustrating.
  • How could they have hijacked your account? Guessed the password using a password generator of commonly used words. Sniffed it from a Wi-Fi hotspot. Gotten it from a cyber café or public computer that saves passwords. Hacked the Yahoo database and downloaded the password. If you use the same password for all accounts, they could have hacked any of the other accounts.
  • Good luck. In the future, use a password at least 8 characters with upper case, lower case, letters and numbers. Use a different password for each account.
  • Email from Andrew: Dear Tech Talk, I want to advance in my IT career. I am currently working at the help desk, but would like to do more. What do you suggest? Love Tech Talk. Thanks, Andrew
  • Tech Talk Responds: You need to anticipate where the field is going and learn what will be needed in the future. A few suggestions would be VMWare (virtualization is here to stay), Cloud Computing (virtualization with load balancing on the web), security (SANS is the gold standard in security training), open source software (Linux, Apache can be installed at home), database management (Oracle student packs can be installed at home), programming languages (Visual Basic for scripting in a MS environment, C is a great foundation language, Java or C++ for object oriented), internetworking (open source Cisco simulators allow you configure devices without any hardware).
  • Ask your employer to pay for some certification courses for you. You are then billable at a higher rate. But most importantly, set up you own IT lab at home and “play around.” Show initiative. Join user groups. Subscribe to industry rags.
  • Email from Geoff: Dear Tech Talk, I would like to clear off/erase all of the programs on my hard drive and clean it up before I donate my computer. What do you recommend? It is a Windows machine. Geoff
  • Tech Talk Responds: The best way is to re-format the hard drive and then reinstall Windows. Don’t do a quick format. Do the full format. A quick format creates an empty root directory on the hard disk and adds a label. The rest of the disk is left alone. Many commonly available disk recovery tools will be able to recover data from a “quick” formatted disk. You’ll need to either install the disk in a different machine to be able to reformat it or boot from something else.
  • A safe, practical approach: DBAN. DBAN, which stands for “Darik’s Boot And Nuke”, is a free utility. It is a CD that you boot from that then “nukes” the information on the drive.
  • Download the DBAN CD image, burn it to a CD, and then boot from the CD. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it detects. DBAN does this not by simply deleting files, but by performing a careful overwrite of the entire hard disk surface. When it’s done, everything is erased.
  • Then you can reinstall Windows. You might even perform a security update. Make certain to include the product key as part of the gift.
  • DBAN web address: http://www.dban.org
  • Email from Tung: Dear Tech Talk, I am a Cox Cable customer and am using a Cox cable email address. When I travel, Cox will not let me send email when I use Outlook. I can receive emails, but not send. What can I do? I am regular listener from Ohio and love the show. Thanks, Tung.
  • Tech Talk Responds: In the old days, you cold use your ISPs outgoing mail server remotely. It would just forward your emails without authentication. Then came the spammers. They used these outgoing mail servers to send their email. If the ISP did not stop allowing unauthenticated forwarding, these mail servers were blacklisted. All email originated from these servers was put into the spam folder.
  • There are two common ways that ISPs have you configure your email program for authenticated sending:
  • Receive before send- When your email program receives or downloads email, it must first login as you to tell the server exactly whose email is being requested.
  • Authenticate to send – The connections that your email program uses to send and to receive are two completely separate things. “Authenticate to send” causes the email program to sign in first before sending email, just like it does when receiving. That proves that you’re a customer of the ISP, and the mail server then lets you send.
  • Your best bet is to simply use a web based interface for your email when travelling. I use the web interface for our Outlook server, my Gmail account, and my Verizon account. This works anywhere anytime.

Profiles in IT: Salman Amin Khan

  • Salman Amin ‘Sal’ Khan is an American educator and the founder of the Khan Academy, a free online education platform and nonprofit organization.
  • Salman Khan was born in 1976 and raised in New Orleans. He is the son of immigrants from India, the part which is now now Bangladesh.
  • He double majored at MIT, receiving a BS in math and a second BS in electrical engineering and computer science in 1998.
  • He received an MS in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT in 2001.
  • He earned an MBA from Harvard in 2003.
  • He was the president of his MIT class and did volunteer teaching in nearby Brookline for talented children, as well as developed software to teach children with ADHD.
  • He briefly worked as a Technical Architect at Scient Corporation and as a Senior Product Manager at Oracle Corporation.
  • He was one of the initial employees at MVC Venture Capital, earning about $1M before it shut down in the financial meltdown in 2008.
  • He was briefly the portfolio manager of the Khan Fund based in Menlo Park, CA. With the permission of his wife, he quit there in 2009 to work full time with the Khan Academy.
  • He used his $1M nest egg to buy a house and a reserve fund. It all started in the summer of 2004, when Khan learned that his seventh-grader cousin, Nadia, in New Orleans was having trouble in math class converting kilograms. He agreed to remotely tutor her.
  • Using Yahoo Doodle software as a shared notepad, as well as a telephone, Nadia learned quickly. Khan started working with her brothers, Ali and Arman.
  • Word spread to other relatives and friends. Khan wrote JavaScript problem generators to keep up a supply of practice exercises.
  • He started to record videos on YouTube for them to watch at their own pace.
  • He maintains he has no interest in monetizing the operation by charging subscriptions or selling ads.
  • From a small office in his home, Khan has produced 2,871 videos dealing a wide range of academic subjects, mainly focusing on mathematics and the sciences.
  • Each lesson is around 10 minutes and gets at the heart of the matter. Students have found them compelling. Schools have used the Khan Academy to Flip the Classroom.
  • As of November 2011, “Khan Academy” had more than 218,000 subscribers.
  • In 2009, the Khan Academy received the Microsoft Tech Award for education.
  • In 2010, Google provided $2 million to support the creation of more courses and to enable the Khan Academy to translate its core library into other languages.
  • In March 2011, Salman Khan was invited to speak at TED by Bill Gates who claims to use the Khan Academy Exercise Software to teach his own children.
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged another $1.5M.
  • Khan Academy is now run by a 20-member team and has eclipsed MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) in terms of videos viewed. Khan Academy’s YouTube channel has over 100 million total upload views, compared to MIT’s 32 million.
  • This is another example of how the Internet is transforming society.
  • Web address: http://www.khanacademy.org

Iran Claims to Have Hijacked Drone

  • The RQ-170 Sentinel, a sophisticated drone, was high jacked by Iran by using a flaw in the GPS guidance system.
  • They reverse engineered previously shot down drones. They were able to figure how to exploit a navigational weakness in the drone’s system.
  • The story was reported by the Christian Science Monitor.
  • An Iranian electronic warfare specialist explained that they were able to cut off the communications link by jamming on the communications.
  • The engineer said that they forced the drone into autopilot. That state is where “the bird loses its brain.”
  • The Iranians reconfigured the drone’s GPS coordinates and they used precise latitudinal and longitudinal data to force the drone to land on its own.
  • In doing so the Iranian team did not have to bother about cracking remote control signals and communications from a control center in the U.S., and the RQ170 suffered only minimal damage, according to the report.
  • GPS satellites transmit on two legacy radio frequencies. The unencrypted code used by most civilian GPS units is transmitted only on the L1 frequency. The encrypted P code for military users is transmitted on both the L1 and L2 frequency.
  • If the Iranians could jam the encrypted military code on the L1 and L2 frequencies then the drone’s GPS receiver might reach out to use the less secure code to get directions.
  • Without encryption, it would be possible for an enemy to fool a drone into thinking it was elsewhere.
  • While possible in theory, other GPS experts say it is a difficult feat and they express doubt that the exploit happened.
  • Some analysts think another possibility is that the aircraft malfunctioned independent of any Iranian electronic interference.
  •  Whether true or not, this highlights the vulnerability of all GPS military systems.

Product of the Week: Logitech Harmony Link

  • Logitech Harmony Link is a small device that connects to your home Wi-Fi network. 
  • It turns signals from the Harmony Link app into infrared commands that can control your TV, set-top boxes, music systems and many other home entertainment devices.
  • It even has an IR mini blaster that allows it to send signals through closed cabinet doors.
  • Logitech Harmony Link works with the free app for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and Android smartphones.
  • You can use simple swipes and taps to control volume, video playback and more without taking your eyes off whatever you are watching on the big screen.
  • We support 5000+ models with more added every day. 
  • List Price: $99

Tip of the Week: Archiving Your Photos

  • Your computer is not a good place to save photos.
    • Computers crash. Files get corrupted.
    • You can accidentally delete your files.
    • Laptops get stolen, dropped, or lost. If the only copy of the photo is on your computer, and something happens to the computer, it is lost forever.
  • Archiving your photos to a CD is a better option.
    • Burning a CD refers to the laser that actually heats up a layer in the CD and etches information into the disk.
    • If the front of your disc drive says “CD-RW”, “burner” or “writer” then you know it can burn discs.
  • Make sure you’re using the right disc.
    • If it only has an “R” on the end it is ‘write once’ and can be used for archiving your photos.
    • If it says RW or RAM at the end it is re-writable. Those formats are OK for back-up but shouldn’t be used to archive your photos.
  • How can I put my photos on a CD?
  • Photo saving strategies.
  • Pick a date every month that is your day to archive pictures.
  • Send copies of discs to friends and relatives.
  • Create slideshows if you have the capability, so that everyone can have fun looking at your shots.
  • How many photos will a CD hold?
    • 700 MB CR-R
      • Low Quality (1265K) – 730 pictures
      • Medium Quality (1750K) – 450 pictures
      • High Quality (2145K) – 326 pictures
    • DVD+R DVD-R
      • Low Quality (1265K) – 3400 pictures
      • Medium Quality (1750K) – 2500 pictures
      • High Quality (2145K) – 2000 pictures