Show of 1-21-2012

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Margaret: Dear Dr. Richard Shurtz, I own the Logitech Sqeezebox Internet Radio. When it works, I really like it, but, it is having issues. There are times when it simply looses connection/signal. I don’t know how to troubleshoot this–is it the radio or is it my Mbps upload/download speed through my Verizon FiOS service? I did several speed tests a few days back and my speed is really low…4.0 download and 1.73 upload. Do I have a defective radio, or, do I need to hand over more $ to Verizon and get a speed
    upgrade? How do I know if that will improve the radio performance? I only use internet w/ Verizon–no tv & no phone (never will get either of these through Verizon and wish there was another way to get internet besides Verizon in my area…). Thanks, Margaret, a regular listener in Bethesda
  • Tech Talk Responds: You have enough bandwidth for listening to audio. I could be that your bandwidth drops during peak times, as I experience. There is not guaranteed bandwidth with FIOS. Just a maximum allowed speed. Sometimes I have to reboot my wireless router and reconnect to re-establish the Internet connection. The Squeezebox Has gotten excellent reviews, except for some comments about difficulty with the interface.
  • Email from Lauren: Dear Dr. Shurtz, I’d like to recommend you showcase: Christopher Soghoian, there is an article on him in Wired, Dec ’11 issue. He finds security flaws and privacy issues and makes a stink about them. Hopefully you will find him worth showcasing. On another note, I went to your TechTalk website on Tuesday, Dec 27 to get the link to send you an email. But, you all have revised your website and I got this message when I clicked on the ’email the show’ link: Firefox doesn’t know how to open this address because the protocol (email to) isn’t associated with any program. I am using my work notebook to write you and to visit your website. I contacted our firm’s help desk — expecting them to resolve this, but, no such luck. Best, Lauren, Bethesda
  • Tech Talk Responds: Christopher Soghoian is a good suggestion. He is local and would be a good candidate for a future show. We fixed the error on the website. It should have been mail to; instead of email to: Thanks for the feedback.
  • Email from Robert Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: Just thought you would like to know that I keep getting this warning message when I try to download the Tech Talk podcast from ITunes: The URL”http//www.stratford.edu/mp3/techtalk111911.mp3″ cannot be found on the server. I’m not having any problems with the other podcasts I listen to. On another topic, could Tech Talk do a profile of Mark Russinovich in the “Profiles in IT” portion of your radio show? I recently read book he wrote entitled “Zero Day” and it was great. I understand he also works for Microsoft. I think he would be a good subject. Thank you. Robert Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: We will feature Mark on today’s show. Thanks for the suggestions. The original podcast file had an error in the MP3 address for the November 19, 2011 show. Your original email prompted me to check and fix it. I have since fixed the podcast. You need to reload the podcast to get the corrected file. If for some reason this does not work, you can always get the file directly using the link: http://www.stratford.edu/mp3/techtalk111911.mp3. Thanks for listening to Tech Talk.
  • Email from Arnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz, I’ve found several secure web sites to store passwords and related password managing sites:
  • My questions are: How secure are such sites themselves? (Some are cloud sites) Which ones pass your screening? Are any of these used by Stratford staff? If one buys an encrypted flash drive to store their passwords, does the computer used to enter passwords on the flash drive keep the passwords somewhere in memory where someone could access them? If so, this seems to defeat using this method of storing passwords securely. Finally, what is “etoken” and how does it work to protect sites? Does Stratford use eTokens? Sorry no physics questions this time. Hope these questions aren’t too lengthy for the program. Merry Christmas & love Techtalk, Arnie McKechnie, Davidsonville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: So many questions. Let’s give a few quick ansnwers. First, I would not store my critical passwords on the cloud. I would use a password encryption program on my computer. KeePass (free) or Roboform ($29) are my top choices. If you are a Mac user, try 1Password ($39 desktop, $15 mobile). As for cloud storage, www.lastpass.com has gotten great reviews ($1/month). However, that is not my preference. As for an encrypted thumb drive. This gives you even more security. Once the passwords are stored, they are not retained in your computer memory after roboot. They could be temporarily stored in memory cache. You can get a good encruptions drive for around $60. An eToken is a device that plugs into a USB port on your computer. It is designed to hold a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) security certificate, which is an electronic certificate that uniquely identifies individuals to computers. A rough analogy would be that an eToken is part of an electronic Identification Card that is completed or enabled when you enter your password. The eToken is about the size of a house key and can be kept on your key ring. We don’t use eTokens at Stratford for remote access.
  • Email from Santa’s Girlfriend: Merry Christmas to Dr. Richard Shurtz and all those who make TT come together and educate and inform the listeners!! I have a job that my place of work is my home office. Neither the employer nor the client I am assigned to has space for our small team in their brick/mortar locations. The reason I’m contacting You is this laptop I’ve been given goes into the Control/Alt/Delete mode when I’m not typing for 15 minutes. I contacted the firm’s help desk and was told this is “Firm Policy” and can’t be changed. I do like my job and the company but this policy is a waste of my time having to relogin multiple times during my workday…Are you aware of any workaround to this– I realize I am likely dreaming… Of course, it is not worth loosing my job over so perhaps I just am stuck w/ this…Happy New Year, Santa’s Girlfriend
  • Tech Talk Responds: You system administrator has implemented a very good security practice. You might be using your computer in a more public area and login out automatically would be important if it were stolen. Be glad that he gave you 15 minutes. There is not work around for this security configuration.
  • Email from Margaret: Dr. Richard Shurtz, I continue to have issues with this appl. On an earlier TT show you mentioned a website/resource that is the Best Place to learn all the features/functions of WLM. I went back and read through a couple of months of postings of answers you gave on the air and couldn’t find that answer.
    • How do I research/do a ‘word’ search for a topic from any/all of your prior shows?
    • Please repeat the source to learn all about managing my WLM , 2009 version, running on Windows XP.
  • My Biggest problem is deleting old emails and I wish there was a way to set to to AUTOMATICALLY delete any email in any of my 9 email inboxes when it is over 4 months old, but don’t want it to delete ANYthing I’ve saved in a personal folder on the Left side of the screen. Thanks, Big TechTalk/Dr Shurtz admirer, Margaret
  • Tech Talk Responds: The internal search for Tech Talk content does not work now with the new website. I will get that function added to the new site. You can search a particular site using the follow search words: “windows live mail site:Stratford.edu” This will search only the Stratford site for the listing. It did work this morning. However, all of the link are from the old website and don’t work. I will get this search function operating this month. As for windows live mail, I don’t know a way to automatically delete emails after 4 months. I can’t find that as a configuration option. You can get help on WLM from this website: http://windowslivehelp.com/

Profiles in IT: Christopher (moot) Poole

  • Christopher Poole, aka moot, is an American internet entrepreneur from NYC noted for founding the websites 4chan and Canvas.
  • Christopher Poole was born in 1988 in New York City.
  • Poole started 4chan on September 29, 2003 out of his home in New York City. He was 15 at the time.
  • He started 4chan (www.4chan.org) anonymously, under the pseudonym moot (always written with lower case).
  • He was interested in obtaining a 4chan.net email address as 2chan began to rise in popularity with Western audiences.
  • At the urging of his friends, on October 1st, 2003 a basic image board system was set up and the 4chan we know was born.
  • The site has no memory. Discussions are not archived. Posting can be anonymous.
  • While the majority of 4chan is anonymous, some users use tripcodes or secure tripcodes to establish an identity.
  • Trip codes are hashes or double hashed of a phrase appended to the logon name.
  • The images and comments now appear under 44 topic headings ranging from fashion, sports and video games to weapons, the paranormal and ‘sexy beautiful women’ – the most popular by a long way is ‘Random’.
  • 4chan’s members, especially /b/tards, have been known to organize.
  • 4chan is one of the largest sources for memes and continues to grow in popularity.
  • 4chan is known as a Meme Factory (RickRolling, LOLcats, etc.). It also spanned Anonymous and has been called the Anus of the Internet.
  • Moot’s real-world identity, Christopher Poole, was revealed on July 9, 2008, in The Wall Street Journal.
  • The same day, Lev Grossman of Time published an interview describing moot’s influence as a non-visible administrator of 4chan.
  • In March 2009, Time place the moot persona on the 2009 Time 100 finalists list and opened it up to an Internet vote.
  • In April 2009, moot was voted the world’s most influential person of 2008 by an open Internet poll conducted by Time magazine.
  • 4chan’s interference with the vote seemed increasingly likely, when it was found that reading the first letter of the first 21 candidates in the poll spelled out a phrase containing two 4chan memes: “mARBLECAKE. ALSO, THE GAME.”
  • Prior to the Wall Street Journal and Time interviews, moot deliberately kept his real identity separate from 4chan.
  • He told Grossman, “my personal private life is very separate from my Internet life … There’s a firewall in between.”
  • In February 2009, The Washington Post reported that Poole had attended Virginia Commonwealth University for a few semesters before dropping out.
  • In 2010, Poole raised $625,000 to create a new online enterprise, Canvas.
  • The website (www.canv.as) opened on January 31, 2011, and features digitally modified images uploaded by users who self-identify using Facebook Connect.
  • At the TED conference, Poole said that he no longer lives with his mother.

Anonymous Group Springs Out of 4chan

  • Anonymous (used as a mass noun) is a group, spread through the Internet, initiating active civil disobedience, while attempting to maintain anonymity.
  • Originating in 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, the term refers to the concept of many online community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, chaotic, global brain.
  • In its early form, the concept has been adopted by a decentralized online community acting anonymously in a coordinated manner, usually toward a loosely self-agreed goal, and primarily focused on entertainment.
  • Beginning with 2008, the Anonymous collective has become increasingly associated with collaborative, international hacktivism, undertaking protests and other actions, often with the goal of promoting internet freedom and freedom of speech.
  • Actions credited to “Anonymous” are undertaken by unidentified individuals who apply the Anonymous label to themselves as attribution.
  • Although not necessarily tied to a single online entity, many websites are strongly associated with Anonymous, including 4chan.
  • After a series of controversial, widely-publicized protests and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by Anonymous in 2008, incidents linked to its cadre members have increased.
  • Anonamous has mounted attacks related to Scientology, 2009 Iranian election protest, Australian Internet censorship, Sony Corp over Playstation hacking, Wikeleaks support, and Arab Spring support.
  • Usual tactics include DDOS or revealing hacked information.

  Judge OKs Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking

  • The decision, issued by US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the District of Columbia, said the Stored Communications Act doesn’t require investigators to get a warrant based on probable cause to access the suspect’s location history pulled from cell phone towers.
  • The ruling was based on his interpretation of cell phone calls as “wire communications”. Under the statute, records involving those communications are subject to a less burdensome standard requiring a showing that the contents are material to an ongoing criminal investigation.
  • The ruling, which was unsealed on Wednesday, came as a surprise to civil liberties advocates because it disregarded a federal appeals court ruling from last year that soundly rejected US government claims that it didn’t need a search warrant to track suspects using global positioning system location-tracking devices.
  • The appeals court judges in that case, known as US v. Maynard, said the surveillance of the suspect’s movements were so prolonged and extensive that it was barred by the US Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable searches.
  • In his ruling, Lamberth said so-called CSLI, or cell-site location information was significantly more limited and therefore the Maynard decision didn’t apply.
  • Lamberth went on to say that under previous court rulings governing wire communications, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in the numbers a customer dials using a landline.
  • In the same vein, cellular customers have no privacy expectation for data their handsets transmit to nearby towers, he concluded.
  • Civil liberties advocates have warned that Lamberth’s decision could erode people’s rights to be free from unreasonable surveillance, should it be adopted widely. The dueling interpretations of the Stored Communications Act and the privacy expectations relating to historical cellphone location data are sure to be repeated.
  • This points to the need for a revised digital privacy law.

Apple’s iMessage Texting Service Cuts Out Carriers

  • The iMessage service, part of the iOS 5 update released Wednesday, lets iPhone users send messages with text, photos and video to other iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch users – for free.
  • iMessage uses the carrier’s data network or the Internet via a Wi-Fi connection to transmit the text like email.
  • When users send a text to a friend with iMessage turned on, it shows up as a blue chat bubble and doesn’t count as a text message in their phone plan.
  • Texting someone with an Android or other non-Apple phone will count as a text message and show up as a green chat bubble.
  • Free downloadable apps that offer free texting, such as textPlus, WhatsApp and Pinger, have attracted millions of people who are looking for ways to chat with friends on the cheap.
  • Google Voice and Facebook also offer free alternatives to traditional, paid texting plans.
  • Texting is hugely lucrative for the wireless industry. It generated about $21 billion in revenue last year and is estimated to grow to $23 billion this year.
  • Every year, more than 2 trillion text messages are sent over cellular networks in the U.S. alone. A message costs carriers a fraction of a penny to send, but they usually charge consumers 10 to 20 cents per text or a flat monthly fee for unlimited usage.
  • Because iMessage works only between Apple devices, at least for now, it will probably not persuade people to abandon their texting plans immediately, analysts say.

Nobel Prize for Physics: The Expanding Universe

  • Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity in 1916.
  • Relativity told physicists that the universe was restless. It couldn’t just sit there. It either had to be expanding or contracting. But astronomers looked, and as far as they could tell, it was doing neither.
  • The only way that was possible, Einstein realized, was if some mysterious force was propping up the universe, a sort of antigravity that pushed outward just hard enough to balance the gravity that was trying to pull it inward.
  • Einstein hated this idea. An extra force meant he had to tinker with the equations of general relativity.
  • Einstein did it anyway. The universe ought to behave according to the laws he had set out, but it simply wasn’t cooperating.
  • The “cosmological constant” – his name for the new antigravity force – became part of the theory.
  • Edwin Hubble observed that the universe was not stationary at all. The were moving apart from the other.
  • This discovery ultimately lead to the Big Bang theory, which says that the cosmos was once tiny, with all matter packed tightly together, and that it’s been expanding every since.
  • When Hubble first announced his results, however, Einstein was more concerned with its consequences for general relativity.
  • If the universe was expanding, the cosmological constant wasn’t needed. His beautiful equations had been right to begin with.
  • In 1931, Einstein came to Mount Wilson to shake Hubble’s hand and thank him for saving relativity from the cosmological constant.
  • Einstein denounced the cosmological constants as the greatest blunder of his life. His pronouncement was premature.
  • In the mid-1990s two independent teams of astronomers, one based at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the other at observatories in Baltimore and Australia, decided to find out.
  • They began using supernovas as markers to measure the expansion speed at different times in the history of the universe.
  • By measuring the speed and distance of many different supernovas, from many different eras, they could see whether anything has changed over the billions of years of cosmic history.
  • They discovered that the expansion of the universe wasn’t slowing down. It was speeding up.
  • The only explanation that made sense was Einstein’s conmological constant.
  • The 1998 discovery of the accelerating universe earned the Lawrence Berkeley Lab’s Saul Perlmutter half of this year’s Nobel. His competition – Brian Schmidt of the Australian National University and Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute, split the other half.
  • What is this antigravity force, anyway? Theoretical physicists call it dark energy, but do they have ideas about what it actually is, how it works? They are still figuring that one out.

Large Hadron Collider Inspires Android App

  • The Large Hadron Collider in Europe that is expected to find the Higgs particle by the end of 2012.
  • Live updates from the Large Hadron Collider are now available thanks to scientists at Oxford University.
  • CERN scientists created a free Google Android app that provides a live feed into what particles are being smashed, as well as computer-generated 3D models of the particles viewable from every angle.
  • The application has already been downloaded by more than 10,000 people.
  • If you want to learn about the science of the LHC, then you can play with the animated tutorials. Then you can stream videos to your phone about the construction of the detector, and its operation.
  • One feature of the app is “Hunt the Higgs,” a game named for the Higgs boson particle. The so-called “god particle” would help physicists explain how matter has mass, and is one of the key things scientists hope to find in the Large Hadron Collider. The game involves looking at slides of reactions and trying to discern which particles are present.
  • The app is currently available strictly for Google Android based devices, with no plans to release an Apple iOS version.