Show of 8-18-2012

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Lauren: I am a student and am in desperate need of a new computer; however, they are WAY too expensive for me right now. Do you know where a student could find discounts on computers (preferably a Mac)? Thank you! Lauren Snyder
  • Tech Talk Responds: I would consider getting an refurbished computer. You can get refurbished from Apple or from Dell. You can simply Google refurbished Macs and refurbished Dell and go right to the page. Get it from the original manufacturer for ensure a reliable system. The second option would be to get the old model just after a new model has been released. There are some very good deals that are about the same price as a refurbished system. Good luck.
  • Email from June: Dear Tech Talk, I am still interested n a cell phone repeater for my home. I am using Verizon, but donít necessarily want to buy their repeater because it may not support other carriers. What do you suggest? Thanks, June in Virginia
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you want to handle all carriers, you will need a dual band system. A company the specializes in these devices is Wi-Ex (www.wi-ex.com) The make a series of zBoost devices that will create a cell in you home. They will not work in all cases. You do need some signal to amplify. You can spend any from $299 to $599. If you are a long distance from the nearest cell tower, you may need to buy an additional directional antenna. If you want to pick up two carriers and the towers are not in the same direction, you may need a second antenna.
  • In the final installation, you will probably have the antenna in the attack with the base station on the middle floor of the house, connected with a coaxial cable. A multistory house will probably require the zBoost YX545-SOHO. Retail $399. Street price $184. The options dual band directional antenna is $159. Street price $119.
  • Comments regarding the photo of David Burdís surprise visit to the show that we posted to Tech Talk Facebook account. (www.facebook.com/techtalkonline)
    • James Messick: Wow! The face is never what you expect it to be! A great friend of the show.
    • Cathie Skoog: David Burd was co-host on a local TV talk program a couple of years ago, so I wasn’t surprised to see what he looks like from the photo. You can’t tell from the photo, but he still has a Marine’s body! He stays in good shape!
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the feedback. David Burd has been a long time supporter of Tech Talk. We love his occasional visits.
  • Comments About the Les Horribles Cernettes on Facebook
    • Kenneth C. Hutchison: I hope it doesn’t mean I am a particle physics nerd that I find this hilarious: Another article includes video of Les Horribles Cernettes (LHC) singing “Collider,” “Mr. Higgs,” and “Surfin’ on the Web.” It includes a link to a page with audio and lyrics for “Liquid Nitrogen.” It’s a little surprising that particle physicists have such attractive girlfriends.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Ken, I hate to tell you, but you are a nerd.
  • Email from Hac in Bowie: Dear Tech Talk, I travel overseas frequently and need to check the voice mail on my cell phone. Is there a way to do that so that I donít have to make an international call just to listen to my messages? That is way too expensive. I have a Verizon iPhone 4S. Thank. Love the show. Hac
  • Tech Talk Responds: I use an application called YouMail. I used it on my Blackberry and on my iPhone. It provides voice mail services free of charge. When it received a voice mail, it sends me a text message and then send an email with the voice mail attached. I can listen over a Wi-Fi network to my voice mails and donít have to make an expensive international call. It also has personalized responses. Since I have uploaded my contact list to YouMail, it calls each call by name when responding. You can also subscribe to a premium service that will convert your voicemails to text message. By the way I do the same thing with my home phone, using the Ooma voice mail system. Ooma is a VoIP solution. I pay only $3 per month for all the services and can free US calling and Skype rates internationally.
  • Email from Alex in Reston: Dear Doc and Jim. I have a desktop PC with Vista Ultimate OS original licensed version that I use for personal use. The problem is that the PC shows the hard disk is going to crash. I’ve formatted it almost three times, but soon the PC shows an error sign and finally ends up with something like, “Please insert Windows reinstall/repair bootable CD provided by the manufacturer” and “Some of your Windows files are corrupted and need reinstalling. The hard disk is about to crash. Please immediately backup the data.” What are my options? Thanks, Alex
  • Tech Talk Responds: You options are simple. Repair or replace. If the failure is because of a bad sector, you may be able to repair it using Spinrite. If it is failure because of mechanical failure, you will have to replace it.
  • If the hard drive is still under warranty, I would but second hard drive, replace it. You will have to backup your data first and then reinstall on the new hard drive.
  • If you try and repair bad sectors, you can use SpinRite. I love this program. It is written by Steve Gibson and can be downloaded from Gibson Research (www.grc.com). It is a little pricey at $84, but GRC will refund your purchase price if is does not work. Since I have a copy of Spinrite already, that would be my first option. In the past, I have run Spinrite periodically just to keep my hard drive tuned up. It is absolutely fantastic at recovering data from a bad sector and then repairing that sector.
  • Email from John in Roanoke: Dear Tech Talk, I’m using a laptop with Windows 7 with ESET Internet Security over a Wi-Fi network. How do I make sure that nobody sees or listens to us? Thanks, John
  • Tech Talk Responds: Skype conversations are encrypted from end-to-end. If I’m talking to you over a Skype conversation, there’s nobody in the middle that can listen. All they can see is encrypted data, which is digital noise.
  • Now, there’s been some recent concern with Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype some of the architectural changes that they announced. Perhaps Microsoft (or Skype itself) has the ability to intercept phone conversations or Skype conversations on their servers. They have indicated that they are apparently able to intercept or look at text messages: However, unless you are dealing with national security issues, I would not be concerned.

Profiles in IT: Marissa Ann Mayer

  • Marissa Ann Mayer is currently President and CEO of Yahoo! and was previously a long time Google executive. She is the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
  • Marissa Ann Mayer was born May 30, 1975 in Wausau, Wisconsin.
  • Mayer loved classical ballet. By junior high, Mayer was dancing 35 hours a week.
  • Mayer was president of the Spanish Club, treasurer of the Key Club, and involved in debate, Math Club, academic decathlon and Junior Achievement.
  • Her debate team won the state championship her senior year.
  • She entered college thinking she’d be a pediatric neurosurgeon, but a required computer course for pre-med students intrigued and challenged her.
  • She decided to study Symbolic Systems which included courses in cognitive psychology, philosophy, linguistics, and computer science.
  • While at Stanford she danced in “The Nutcracker” ballet, engaged in parliamentary debate, volunteered at a children’s hospital, worked on CS education in Bermuda.
  • Mayer graduated with honors from Stanford University with a BS in symbolic systems and an MS in computer science, both specializing in artificial intelligence.
  • Mayer served at the UBS research lab in Zurich, Switzerland for nine months and at SRI International in Menlo Park prior to joining Google.
  • She joined Google in June 1999 as the 20th employee and its first female engineer.
  • She went on to establish the look of Google’s interface as a search engine and oversee the development, code-writing, and launch of Gmail, Google Maps, iGoogle, Google Chrome, Google Health, and Google News.
  • She heavily influenced Google Earth, Books, Images and curated Google Doodle.
  • Named a Vice President in 2005, Mayer’s most recent role had her supervising the company’s mapping products, location services, Google Local, and Street View.
  • Several patents in artificial intelligence and interface design carry her name.
  • When she failed to achieve SVP status at Google, her rise to the top slowed.
  • She assumed the reins at Yahoo as CEO on July 17, 2012.
  • Her secret weapon is the alumni of the Google internship program. She has mentored many of the young rising stars at Google and they still call her for career advice.
  • Mayer dated current Google CEO Larry Page for three years. She began seeing internet investor Zach Bogue in January 2008 and they married in December 2009
  • They are expecting a baby boy October 7, 2012.
  • She owns a $5 million luxury penthouse in San Francisco and a Palo Alto home.
  • Mayer was named to Fortune magazine’s annual list of America’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
  • A cupcake devotee, she’s been known to study cupcake cookbooks, create spreadsheets of ingredients, and test versions of her own before writing new recipes.
  • She’s run the San Francisco half marathon, the Portland Marathon, and plans on doing the cross country ski racing. She’s also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
  • Mayer loves of Mountain Dew and only requires 4 hours of sleep each night, both carryovers from her programming days.
  • She has a net worth estimated to be over $300M and will earn $117M over the next five years at Google.
  • She is currently on the Wall-Mart Board of Directors.

Stratford Releases New Mobile Website

  • Web address: m.stratford.edu
  • If you have a mobile device, you will be directed to the site automatically.
  • This was in response to the fact that nearly 40% of traffic to our site was from mobile devices.
  • On the first week, we had more traffic to the mobile site than the regular site.

SLIPS Liquid Repeller Inspired by Carnivorous Plant

  • A team of Harvard researchers wanted to create the ultimate liquid- and solid-repelling surface
  • They studied the Nepenthes pitcher plant, where curious are trapped by its slippery walls.
  • The tropical plant inspired the creation of SLIPS (Self-healing, Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surface), a synthetic material that utilizes nano/ microstructured substrates.
  • The coating is repellent to water, motor oil, liquid asphalt, concrete, black paint, and of course, bugs.
  • The team has published a number of papers on the material, including ones that demonstrate its ice- and bacteria-repelling properties.
  • Another example of technology transfer from nature.

The iPad Rules the Tablet Market

  • The International Data Corporation (IDC) released preliminary data yesterday from its Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet Tracker.
  • The study shows that total worldwide tablet shipments for the second quarter of 2012 are estimated at 25 million units, which is up from 18.7 last quarter.
  • Apple shipped 17 million iPads during this last quarter, which itself is up from 11.8 million last quarter.
  • The volume also beats the previous iPad shipment high of 15.4 million from the fourth quarter of 2011.
  • Other tablet makers saw serious growth in the second quarter of 2012, as well, with Samsung grabbing second place of 2.4 million shipped units, and Amazon shipping 1.2 million units.
  • ASUS shipped 855,454 units according to the data, while ACER only shipped 385,458 tablets this past quarter, making the PC company the only one with declining numbers.
  • Apple has sold way more iPads than anyone else. The obvious connection here is that iPad is driving tablet sales for everyone. 17 million iPads vs 2.4 million Samsung tablets.
  • The nearest competitor to the Apple is Samsung.

BYOD Created Security Concerns

  • A growing number of companies embracing BYOD are ignoring mobile security issues.
  • The number of companies investing in mobile management and security solutions related to bring your own device (BYOD) programs is growing.
  • The result is that many companies are putting themselves and their data at risk by jumping into the BYOD without properly securing employee iPhones, iPads, and other devices.
  • According to a study by OnForce, more than half the technicians that help businesses implement BYOD have seen a 25% increase in demand associated with employee devices (either setting up individual devices or broader BYOD options).
  • Less than one-third of those technicians have seen an increase in requests for mobile device security solutions.
  • That implies that a number of businesses are moving forward with official or unofficial BYOD options without implementing mobile management or security.
  • Nearly two-thirds (58%) of technicians working in the BYOD space have seen an uptick in the number of devices used by workers as well as an increase the diversity of devices over the past year.
  • Bring your own device programs carry a number of risks for companies, many of them related to corporate data being stored on or accessed by devices with little or no data security or device management options in place.
  • Most enterprise companies and small businesses use mobile management solutions that lock down insecure device features or that create secure encrypted storage space on devices like the iPhone and iPad as well as Android devices, BlackBerries, and other mobile devices.

AT&T to Shutdown 2G Network by 2017

  • AT&T has only just begun the transition away from 2G services with its spectrum refarming in New York City.
  • It now has a target end date to mark on the calendar: January 1st, 2017.
  • As disclosed in an SEC filing, the carrier hopes that both its GSM voice and EDGE data networks will end about 4 and half years from now.
  • Only 12 percent of its regular subscribers are using 2G-only phones today.
  • The transition should be smooth and uneventful.

Justice Approved Verizonís Bandwidth Purchase

  • Verizon Wireless is paying $3.9 billion for the spectrum, which will allow it to add capacity to its high-speed “4G LTE” wireless broadband network.
  • Regulators saw the transfer of the unused spectrum to Verizon as a positive one for consumers.
  • This deal will result in Verizon abandoning further investment in FiOS, its high speed network. This network has proven costly to Verizon and it is slowing deployment. Justice would not allow Verizon to market cable in areas where is was offering FIOS.
  • As a result, there will be no high-speed Internet competition in Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo and other upstate cities, and most of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts and Virginia.
  • Apart from limiting the areas where Verizon Wireless stores can sell cable, the agreement between the parties and the Justice Department puts a five-year limit on the co-marketing agreement in other areas.

Rover Gets First Mission

  • NASA said that Curiosity will move towards a spot dubbed Glenelg, which is located at the confluence of three specific types of Martian geology.
  • Over the next few days NASA will perform its final motor tests, shifting the rover about a meter forwards and then in reverse, before setting out towards Glenelg.
  • If everything checks out then Curiosity will begin the 400 meter roadtrip to the site, moving at its top speed of around 1.5 inches a second, which translates into 0.06 mph.
  • Once it’s reached its new destination, NASA will begin to use the rover’s instruments to break into the Martian crust and look for signs of organic compounds and materials that could give a clue as to whether Mars had, or possibly still even has, basic forms of life.
  • After it has finished there, the rover will begin the much longer trek to the base of Mt. Sharp.
  • Its Chemistry and Camera instrument, ChemCam, consists of a laser and telescope that will be used to zap Martian rocks and break them down for analysis.
  • To calibrate the laser’s aiming and response systems, the rover has to shoot a test plate on its own body, consisting of ten targets of different types of material.
  • Once that task has been successfully completed the team has picked their first target for study, a small innocuous rock dubbed N165.
  • Rock N165 looks like your typical Mars rock, about three inches wide. It’s about 10 feet away. ,”
  • They are going to hit it with 14 millijoules of energy 30 times in 10 seconds.

Tech Stock Update

  • Apple Hits New High
    • Already the world’s most valuable company, Apple Inc. saw its stock hit $648.19 just before closing, before retreating to $648.11. That was up $11.77, or 1.9 percent, from Thursday’s close.
    • Apple is expected to build 25 million iPads of all kinds in the current quarter, up from a previous estimate of 16 million.
    • Analysts believe Apple wants to make a cheaper tablet computer to counter the threat of the Google Inc.’s Nexus 7 and Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle Fire, both of which sell for $199. The cheapest current iPad costs $399.
    • Analysts now believe the iPhone 5 will go on sale in late September, and it’s widely believed that it will be the biggest phone launch ever. Rumored upgrades include the ability access the latest wireless data networks in the U.S. and a slightly bigger screen.
  • Facebook Hits New Low
    • Facebook stock has fallen below $20 per share — nearly half the stock’s initial selling price after its much-hyped public debut in May.
    • The sell-off came Thursday after the expiration of a 90-day ban that prevented early investors from selling shares of Facebook for quick profit.
    • It was easily the most anticipated, most watched public offering of 2012, but just three months later, early investors couldn’t get rid of their shares fast enough.
    • More than 270 million shares became available Thursday after selling restrictions were lifted – sending Facebook stock to a new low, and shaving about $50 billion off its market value.
    • But at nearly half it’s $38 selling price in May, equity analyst Scott Kessler at Standard and Poor’s sees a bargain.
    • Others urge casual investors to be wary. Facebook reported losses in July due to higher costs and slowing revenue. And there are new concerns about the company’s leadership and its ability to attract advertising.
    • About 14 percent of locked up Facebook shares were released Thursday. More than a billion more shares are expected to hit the market in November

CNNís Tech Trends for 2012

  • Touch computing. First Apple, now Microsoft.
  • Social gestures. Automatic sharing on the web with apps.
  • Near Field Communication (NFC) and Mobile payments. Google Wallet is gaining in popularity. †may become more widespread in 2012. Near Field Communication essentially lets you replace your credit cards with your phone: Wave an NFC-enabled phone near the credit card reader in a store.
  • Beyond the iPad. Rise of the iPad competitor from Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.
  • TV Everywhere. On any device, anywhere.
  • Voice control. Voice commands using Siri are gaining popularity.
  • Spatial gestures. Other input methods like on the Kinect.
  • Second-screen experiences. Watch TV and display related information on your iPad.
  • Flexible screens. Nokia and Samsung have both hinted they may release phones with bendable displays in 2012.
  • HTML5 It’s HTML5 lets developers create richer, more interactive applications than ever. The rise of HTML5 is bound to be accelerated by a recent revelation: Adobe is killing off Flash for mobile devices.