Show of 7-21-2012

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments taken from previous shows

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from James Messick: Dear Batman and Robin! I wrote you a few weeks ago asking if you knew of a method to organize and remove duplicate photos. I heard your last show in which you recommended Picasa. I have used Picasa and it is great for organizing photos, but maybe not so great for removing duplicates. Before your last show I investigated a number of programs and found one that I can recommend: VisiPics v1.3, a free program available at http://www.visipics.info
  • VisiPics works by allowing you to specify one or more folders or disks and then searches the specified range for duplicate images. You can set the filter resolution from “Loose” to “Basic” to “Strict”. I find that “Strict” works best, as similar photos can be falsely flagged as duplicates with the “looser” settings. The program actually does the comparisons in an amazingly quick amount of time, after which you can review each group of photos or automatically have it mark all but one photo in each group for deletion. This is convenient with a large number of photos, and why I find it best to use the “Strict” settings, so that no unique photos are accidentally delete.
  • I found a usable method was to start with the folders which were most likely to be in order and remove the duplicates. Afterwards other groups of photo could be compared against the main group, the duplicates removed, and the remaining photos merged in. A program like WinDirStar is great for locating files of a particular type.
  • The whole process requires a little bit of work but I have reclaimed gigabytes of storage space and my photos are not (more) organized, and all in one place. Love the show, keep up the great work, love always. James Messick, Kernersville, NC
  • Tech Talk Responds: James that is a great suggestion. I now have a new application on my machine.
  • Email from Disciple in Bethesda: Dr Richard Shurtz, I truly hope your retirement is a ways away b/c my life is abundantly bathed in IT issues and your level of competence & consistency beats every helpdesk I’ve ever been subjected to!
  • Normally I read my email via the attachment named Outlook Direct. But, sometimes I have to go to our client’s site and read my email via the web.
  • Problem—today I accessed my email via Office Outlook Web Access and had three new emails that came in early today. Later today, when I came home and went to access Outlook on my laptop the THREE emails I’d seen in OWA in early AM were NOT delivered into my outlook professional plus 2010 application. I don’t understand why? Someone at another office told me I needed to restart my laptop and they’d show up. I did restart laptop and the 3 emails never got delivered. Would like to learn how to avoid that going forward.
  • Another issue…I just created a survey for our client and I used Survey Monkey Select Plan (it is not the most featured plan they offer, unfortunately). Everything about it turned out OK for client EXCEPT when the taker of the survey clicks DONE– they see the attached screen. Our client said that screen had to go. According to support email reply from SM the only way to get rid of it is to upgrade to more expensive plan. Boss says we can’t spend the money to do that. Is there any workaround for this so I can loose this last screen? We are not wishing to do anything illegal, of course. Your disciple in Bethesda
  • Tech Talk Responds: Outlook has two interfaces. The Outlook client can be installed on a computer and configured to download emails to you local computer. You can either leave the emails on the server or delete them. The Web Interface simply views emails on the server directly. Email will disappear if you use the Client and delete them from the server. In your case, you saw with the web interface and not with the client. The client will only see the email after synchronizing with the server. You can use the menu at the top to synchronize all folders. This is only done periodically and normally on start-up. You are not synchronizing for some reason.
  • You are correct about Survey Monkey. You have to be either a Gold or Platinum member to be able to redirect the user to any URL upon exiting. I don’t know of any easy work around to this problem. Each user could set his browser to block any redirects, but you can’t control that setting as a developer.
  • Email form Robert Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: I don’t get a chance to listen to Tech Talk on the radio due to the nature of my work, but I do look forward to getting it on itunes every week. But I haven’t seen it on itunes for a few weeks now. What’s up? Robert Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: All shows are posted now.
  • Email from Eddie Quinlan: Thank you for posting the shows, Dr. Shurtz. Your show keeps me awake while I’m programming at work. I’m getting my fix as I type. Keep up the good work, and thanx for responding. Sincerely, Eddie Quinlan, G.I.S. Coordinator/Cartographer, Okaloosa County Property Appraiser
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for listening to the show Eddie.
  • Facebook Posting from Sig Crossland: Nice job Jim. Like your productions better than the live shows. Is this show the ‘best of’ TTR or is the Doc there today? Your productions have gotten so good lately that it is hard to tell.
  • Tech Talk Responds: I really appreciate the Tech Talk live option. It allows me to travel more frequently.

Profiles in IT: Kevin Systrom

  • Kevin Systrom is CEO and co-founder of Instagram, the photo-sharing application that was just purchased by Facebook for $1B.
  • Kevin Systrom was born in 1984 in Holliston, a town 20 miles west of Boston.
  • He got his first computer at 12. His interest in computers was triggered by Doom 2.
  • He was a huge Doom 2 fan. He would edit levels. He credits Doom 2 for everything.
  • His first programming languages were QBasic and Visual Basic.
  • He graduated from Middlesex School, a private school in Concord, MA, in 2002.
  • After high school his parents took him to California on a vacation. He decided that he would only go to school on the West coast.
  • He was accepted to Stanford and initially focused on computer programming.
  • He got a three months internship at Odeo, which spawned Twitter.
  • He had looked the CEO up using the Whois database after Odeo was featured on the New York Time website, while studying in Florence.
  • He was offered a job at Facebook in 2005, but turned it down to finish school.
  • Systrom took part in Stanford’s Mayfield Fellows Program for future entrepreneurs.
  • Kevin graduated from Stanford in 2006 with a BS in Mgmt Science & Engineering.
  • He was hired as Associate Product Marketing Manager at Google after graduation.
  • He spent two years at Google. During the first, he worked on Gmail, Docs, Google Reader, and other products. During his second year he worked on the Corporate Development team, which buys companies at Google.
  • He worked for startup NextStop, started by some Googlers for a year. He decided to wanted to hone his programming skills after his Google experience.
  • In 2009, he decided to launch Burbn.com, which morphed into Instagram. It was a competitor to FourSquare. It was check-in software with picture posting.
  • He managed to raise $500K in startup funds to launch. At that time he brought in a more technical co-founder Mike Krieger, a fellow Stanford grad from Brazil.
  • They worked seven months on Burbn, but switched to Instagram in 2010, photo-sharing app, because they were so undifferentiated in the check-in space.
  • While on vacation in Mexico with his girlfriend, he decided to add filters to make photos look better. His girl friend wanted to take awesome photos instead of snaps.
  • Instagram solved three problems: photo-sharing, making photos gorgeous, photo-sharing, quick uploads. They started the upload while user was still picking filter.
  • Initially marketing was via email to his tech contacts in California. They loved it. They showed it to Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter. He twitted that he loved it and it took off while still in Beta.
  • Instagram took just eight weeks to build. It racked up 25,000 users in 24 hours, 200,000 in the first week and 1 million in less than three months.
  • In February 2011, Instagram had 1.75 million users posting 290,000 photos a day. It raised $7 million from Benchmark
  • Last week Facebook purchased Instagram for $1B. Systrom’s 40% netted him $400M.

Flashback Trojan Infects 600,000 Macs

  • On Friday, researchers at Russian antivirus firm Kaspersky confirmed findings from another security firm earlier this week that more than 600,000 computers running Mac’s OSX are infected with the Flashback botnet, and half in the US.
  • Kaspersky’s researchers reverse-engineered the Flashback malware and created a fake “command and control” server for collection of hijacked PCs, intercepting and analyzing their connections.
  • The hijacked Macs are being used for click fraud, creating Web traffic from the infected machines to boost revenue from pay-per-click and pay-per-impression advertisements.
  • He says there’s no evidence yet that they’re being used for credit card fraud. But like any Trojan, the malware functions as a backdoor on the user’s computer, and can allow new software updates to be downloaded.
  • Flashback has been using an unpatched vulnerability in Java to invisibly infect Apple users through so-called “drive-by downloads.”
  • For years, security researchers have warned that Apple’s machines are no safer than Windows machines despite the company’s assurances that its devices are secure “right out of the box.”
  • Apple has released an update for Java on Macintosh computers running Mac OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and 10.7 (Lion) which it says gets rid of the Flashback malware that has affected as many as 600,000 Macs worldwide. The tool is available through the company’s built-in Software Update system.
  • Symantec says that the number of infections fell from 600,000 on 6 April to 380,000 on 10 April, to around 270,000 on 11 April – suggesting a dramatic cleanup rate among Mac owners. The greatest source of infection remains the US, with almost half of all infections, Canada and the UK.

Device of the Week: Fitbit

  • The Fitbit Tracker shows your real-time activity stats so you know how close you are to your goals. It fits in your pocket or on your belt.
  • Several people are work are using it and it is making a difference.
  • It’s with you every step of the day, motivating you to make small changes that add up to big results. It tracks activity, measures sleep, tracks stairs, uploads wirelessly.
  • A flower on the fitbit loses flowers and leaves if you don’t exercise during the day. You can use this to encourage more walking during the day.
  • Fitbit even has a Wi-Fi scale which records your weight automatically.
  • There are free PC and iPhone apps to track calories burned, consumed, and weight.
  • Fitbit Ultra device is $99.95
  • Website: www.fitbit.com

US Carriers Set Up Stolen Phone Database

  • Verizon Wireless, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile are joining forces with the FCC to work on curbing phone thefts using a central database that will store information about stolen phones, according to reports.
  • FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, along with law enforcement and representatives from the wireless industry, will announce the plan Tuesday.
  • Operators will disable and block further use of a device once it is reported stolen, according to the New York Times.
  • It is too easy for thieves to steal phones and sell them on the black market.
  • Over the next six months, each of the four operators is expected to put in place a program to disable phones reported as stolen and within 18 months the FCC plans to help merge them into a central database.
  • Sharing information about stolen mobile phones is far from a new practice in countries other than the U.S.
  • The GSM Association has allowed operators to do that since 1996 when it established the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR), now known as the IMEI Database, according to a spokeswoman at the industry organization.
  • U.K. operators have been using the IMEI Database to exchange stolen handset data since 2002. Operators in Chile, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden and Venezuela use the database as well.
  • It is surprising that U.S. operators haven’t come around to sharing information about stolen phones.
  • However, U.S. operators have a checkered history when it comes to joint initiatives. For example, it took them a long time to set up SMS interconnection, allowing users to send text messages between operators.
  • But better late than never, because trying to curb device thefts has become even more important as an increasing number of users have expensive smartphones, according to Newman

Best Job of 2012: Software Engineer

  • CareerCast, a site for job seekers, listed the top 200 jobs of 2012.
  • Software engineer had the best overall score when you average work environment, income, stress level, physical demands and hiring outlook.
  • The site, which used Department of Labor statistics, pegged the average income of a software engineer at $88,142.
  • Next on the list was Actuary, a job known for low stress levels and lucrative ($88,202) annual compensation.
  • The worst job? Lumberjack, judged to have high physical demands and stress and a lousy hiring outlook.
  • Also bad: dairy farmer, enlisted military soldier and oil rig worker.
  • Other IT jobs on the list
    • #9 Computer System Analyst $78K
    • #15 Web Developer $76K
    • #34 Computer Programmer $71K
    • #37 Tech Writer $63K

FBI Track Hacker Using Picture of Girlfriend

  • An alleged member of Anonymous has been tracked down after he posted a picture of his scantily clad girlfriend in an image bragging about his hacking exploits.
  • Higinio O. Ochoa III from Texas has been charged hacking into the websites of at least four US law enforcement agencies.
  • Ochoa, is an alleged member of CabinCr3w, an offshoot of the hacktivist collective Anonymous.
  • A criminal complaint filed in connection with the case reveals that pictures of a young woman taken in an outer-Melbourne suburb played a key role in the case.
  • The image was taken with an iPhone and posted at an online location below a law enforcement data dump.
  • The photo, cropped from the neck down, featured the bikini-clad babe holding a sign saying “PwNd by w0rmer & CabinCr3w”.
  • Whoever uploaded the photo, which was taken via an iPhone, failed to purge its metadata which revealed the GPS co-ordinates where the photo was taken.
  • This GPS location allowed local police to easily track down the presumed residence of the woman pictured in the photo, believed to be Ochoa’s Australian girlfriend.
  • Ochoa faces charges related to hacks against the West Virginia Chiefs of Police website and the Alabama Department of Public Safety database, the Mobile Police Department servers, the Texas Department of Safety and the Houston County’s database in a spate of attacks in early February.

App of the Week: Carrier Compare

  • CarrierCompare was released yesterday on iTunes.
  • Developed by Boston-based startup SwayMarkets, it allows you to see which carrier offers the best service for your iPhone in any given location.
  • The crowd-sourced app is simple to use. After you touch the start screen, the app takes about 15 seconds to analyze your network for signal strength, response time and speed. It then compares your result with other nearby results on the other two national carriers’ networks.
  • The display teslls you where your carrier ranks compared to the competition.
  • Sounds pretty simple, right? But iPhone carriers Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have successfully kept that information out of the public’s view.
  • Carriers rigorously test their networks and their rivals’ networks, hiring third-party surveyors to perform comparisons. However, those surveys are almost always performed under non-disclosure agreements.
  • Each carrier provides its own coverage map to customers, and some even offer a street-level view.
  • But that still doesn’t give users the kind of precise detail that CarrierCompare provides — and the carriers certainly don’t offer up direct, pinpoint comparisons against the competition.
  • The app tracks three data points.
  • “Signal” represents a granular, numerical interpretation of service bars, which gives a more accurate reading than a one-through-five bar graph representation.
  • “Response” measures how long it takes for the network to respond to a request. It’s an important metric for Internet use, such as Web browsing, posting pictures to Facebook and downloading apps. A lower response time indicates a better result.
  • “Speed” is in indicator of how much information the network allows your phone to download in a second.
  • CarrierCompare is on sale for $1.99, and an ad-supported version is available for free.
  • The app is only available on the iPhone for now, but Android versions are in the works.