Show of 10-20-2012

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Hac in Bowie: Dear Dr. Shurtz, I recently bought an iPad, and would like to view the pictures I’ve taken over the past several months on my iPhone on my iPad. How can I copy my pictures from my iPhone to my iPad? My husband and I are faithful Tech Talk Radio listeners – we’ve even enjoyed fine dining at both your Tysons Corner and Woodbridge locations as quiz winners four times over the past several years! Hac in Bowie
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for listening and for your loyalty to Tech Talk. Apple recently changed Photo streaming. In the first instance, it was not very well thought out. All photos were streamed and you could not delete anything from the photostream. Now it is much better. You can set up multiple photostreams for sharing your photos with any or any group. You can then simply share a photo with with photo stream and everyone gets. If you want to have you photos on all of your own devices, you simply share the photo with yourself.
  • Here is how you implement photo stream directly. Open the native Photos App, On the bottom click on the middle Tab (Photo Stream). Press the Plus Button (+) in the upper left hand corner to create a new stream. Put the email address of the person you want to share the stream with (use your own email address if you want the photos to appear on all of your devices) and then name the stream. Then click the Create button in the upper right hand corner. Now click the left bottom tab to go to your photos. Select an album. Click edit in the upper right hand corner. Select the pictures you want to share by clicking on them. Press share in the bottom left hand corner and choose Photo Stream.
  • This feature is fantastic. I have been using it for the past couple of weeks and it is very convenient.
  • Email from Margaret in Bethesda: Dear Doc, I listen every Sat AM and look forward to your show/ classroom of the airways. I have a Win7 OS laptop and use WLM to get my mail. I’m going to need to burn/save all the WLM stuff onto a CD to move to another laptop that runs on WinXP. Will this work? What is the quickest way to do this? I use Roxio normally to burn stuff onto a CD. Thanks Much. Best, Margaret Bethesda
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you need to switch hardware or re-install Windows Live Mail, it’s a good idea to first export everything, make the change, and then re-import everything. This is commonly known as a backup and restore.
  • If you’ve added email accounts to Windows Live Mail, most of these accounts automatically save your messages and will sync them when you add the account again.
  • If you have a POP3 account, check the Advanced tab in Properties to see if messages are removed from the POP3 server. If they are and you plan to uninstall or remove that account from Windows Live Mail, you should manually export and re-import your messages.
  • Calendar items cannot be backed up. However, if you sign in with a Windows Live ID, then your calendar will be synced with http://calendar.live.com.
  • To export email messages from Windows Live Mail
    • Open Windows Live Mail. In the upper-left corner, open the File menu, click Export email, and then select Email messages. Select Microsoft Windows Live Mail as the export format, Cick Next and select the target folder.
  • To export contacts from Windows Live Mail
    • Open Windows Live Mail. In the lower-left corner, select Contacts. Click Export on the ribbon. Select a file format in the drop-down menu. If exporting multiple contacts, select .csv. Click Browse and select where to save your contacts. Enter a file name and then click Save. Click Next, and then all fields for export. Click Finish.
  • To import email messages into Windows Live Mail
    • Open Windows Live Mail. In the upper-left corner, open the File menu, and then click Import messages. Select the appropriate file format (Windows Live Mail) and then click Next. Select the transfer then click Next. Click Finish.
  • To import offline contacts into Windows Live Mail.
    • Open Windows Live Mail. In the lower-left corner, select Contacts. Click Import on the ribbon. Select the file format that matches your exported contacts (.csv). Click next and select the transfer folder. Click Next and select all fields for import. Click Finish.
  • You can put the transfer folder on a thumb drive, share it on the network, or burn a CD. It does not matter.
  • Email from Robert Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: I have a candidate for your “Profiles in IT” segment of your show. His name is Donald Knuth. He has been called the father of the analysis of algorithms and has made a lot of contributions in computer science over the years.  Your show has given me hours of entertainment, education and knowledge during these many years I have been listening to via your podcasts, which you make available to everyone. Thank you. Robert Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: Robert this is a great suggestion. I put it in the hopper. By the way when you are checking whether we have already featured a particular person, you can search the RSS feed on the Stratford website. It’s link is www.stratford.edu/rss/techtalkradio.xml. You can search for a name using the box in the upper right hand corner.
  • Email from Alex in Atlanta: Dear Doc, I am an audiophile and have been recording my music collection using FLAC, a lossless file compression format, which is superior to MP3. Now I want to buy a portable FLAC player. What do you recomment? Thanks, Alex
  • Tech Talk Responds: FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec, an audio format similar to MP3, but lossless, meaning that audio is compressed in FLAC without any loss in quality. This is similar to how Zip works, except with FLAC you will get much better compression because it is designed specifically for audio, and you can play back compressed FLAC files in your favorite player, that supports FLAC,  just like you would an MP3 file.
  • FLAC stands out as the fastest and most widely supported lossless audio codec, and the only one that at once is non-proprietary, is unencumbered by patents, has an open-source reference implementation, has a well documented format and API, and has several other independent implementations.
  • Here are the top two  portable players recently identified by CNET
    • Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2 –  When it comes to competing with Apple’s iPod Touch media player, the Galaxy Player 4.2 is Samsung’s best effort yet. Street price $179.
    • SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip –  SanDisk’s MP3 player is a great its practical clip-on design is perfect for the gym. With a street price of $53, selected as CNET editors choice.
  • Email from Loyal Listener: Dr. Richard Shurtz, I’m hoping you would share with your listeners your top 5 appl for your iPhone/Smartphone (I’m not remembering which you have).I just bought an iPhone5.What I’m mostly interested in is a good app that tells real time traffic status on the DC Metro Beltway, esp to/from Bethesda to Tysons Corner, VA. I bought the recent issue of MacWorld that had an article on 20 Best Apps, but they didn’t showcase one like this. Is there a website that keeps on top monthly of iPhone best new apps?? Thanks, Loyal Listener in Bethesda
  • Tech Talk Responds: Here are some my my favorites
    • Camera+ with very convenient image processing
    • Flashlight for using the iPhone as a flashlight
    • Flipboard for Tech Talk research
    • Google Earth
    • Mapquest for driving directions
    • TED for inspirational talks
    • PaperKarma for getting rid of junk mail
    • Amazon for quick purchasing
    • Find iPhone for tracking down MAs lost iPhone
    • Google translate for quick translation
    • Skype for VoIP calls
    • Viber for VoIP calls
    • LinkedIn for business connections
    • Bump for sharing photos and contacts
    • Pandora for streaming music
    • Yelp for restaurant reviews
    • Wikihood to finding out sights near my location
    • Hipmonk for airline reservations
    • Dropbox for synchronizing files
    • Productivity (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote by Apple)
  • Email from Tung in Ohio: Dear Doc, I am confused about CDs that play music. Is there a special format for a music CD? Love the show. Listen to your podcasts here in Ohio. Thanks, Tung.
  • Tech Talk Responds:  Audio CDs use a completely different format than the data CDs or DVDs you might use in your computer. As a result, they require a different approach to create.
  • A data CD is very much like a hard disk. It contains sectors and files and folders and directories and all the things that we’re used to seeing on a hard disk. In fact, the CD is written very much like a set of concentric circles of data, just as hard disks are.
  • An audio CD is more similar to an old vinyl record; it’s best thought of as a single spiral of data – in the reverse of that vinyl – starts in the center and slowly spirals outward. A single stream of bits.
  • While a data CD can contain music, it’s often in the form of compressed .mp3 files or files of other audio formats like FLAC. The result can be several hours of music in the roughly 700 megabytes that can be stored on a CD.
  • Not so for an audio CD. That single spiral of data can contain only one format: uncompressed 16-bit stereo audio at a sampling rate of 44 kilohertz. If you do the math (16 bits per sample times two stereo tracks times 44,000 samples per second, then divide that by 8 bits per byte), you find that an audio CD requires 176,000 bytes per second of audio and a 700-megabyte CD can hold approximately 69 minutes of audio1. That’s it.
  • Of course there are audio CD players that can also play data CDs. These normally have an MP3 logo somewhere on them.

Profiles in IT: Stanford Robert Ovshinsky

  • Stanford Robert Ovshinsky was an American inventor and scientist whose inventions include: the batteries used in laptop computers and digital cameras, thin-film solar energy panels; flat screen LCDs, rewritable CD and DVD discs; hydrogen fuel cells; and nonvolatile phase-change memory. He accomplished this without a college degree and has been compared to Edison.
  • Stanford Robert Ovshinsky was born November 24, 1922 in Akron, Ohio.
  • Before graduating from high school in June 1941, Ovshinsky worked as a tool maker.
  • During WWII, he worked the tool room of a Goodyear plant in Arizona. Returning to Akron near the end of WWII, he started his own machine company, initially in a barn.
  • He developed and patented his first invention, the Benjamin Center Drive, named after his father. This unique automatic high-speed center drive lathe had many important uses, including production of artillery shells for the Korean war.
  • Ovshinsky developed an interest in human and machine intelligence. He studied the research literature on neurophysiology, neurological disease, and cybernetics.
  • In 1951, Ovshinsky accepted an offer to move to Detroit and work in the automotive industry as the director of research at the Hupp Motor Company.
  • He invented electric power steering, but Hupp’s president was opposed to completing the arrangements with General Motors to utilize the product.
  • Stan and Herb Ovshinsky, his brother, then started his second company, called General Automation, in a Detroit storefront.
  • There, Stan continued his study of intelligent machines and embarked on early research and development of various energy and information technologies.
  • By the late 1950s, Stan invented, and Herb Ovshinsky helped build, an artificial nerve cell, using an amorphous thin-film switch they called the Ovitron.
  • Stan patented the device and the brothers disclosed it publicly in 1959 in NYC.
  • Ovshinsky opened the scientific field of amorphous and disordered materials in the course of his research in the 1940s and 50s.
  • In 1960, Ovshinsky and his 2nd wife, Iris Dibner, founded Energy Conversion Laboratory, dedicating the laboratory to the solution of important societal problems.
  • Amorphous silicon became the basis of many technologies, including writable CDs and DVDs, solar energy, LCD flat panel displays and electronic memory.
  • After his wife’s death, he started a new company, Ovshinsky Innovation LLC, devoted to innovative and revolutionary energy and information technologies.
  • In October 2007 (at age 84) he married Rosa Young, a physicist who had worked at ECD on a hydrogen-powered hybrid car and his vision of a hydrogen economy.
  • Ovshinsky is self-taught, without formal college or graduate training. Many well known scientists visited his labs including John Bardeen, co-inventor of the transistor.
  • Because of his many inventions in digital memory, solar energy, battery technology, optical media, and solid hydrogen storage, and his hundreds of basic scientific patents, he has often been compared with Thomas Edison.
  • In the area of alternatives to fossil fuel, his pioneering work has caused many writers to refer to him as “the modern world’s most important energy visionary.”
  • Ovshinsky died of prostate cancer on October 17, 2012, aged 89.

Where do most people destroy their iPhone?

  • According to device warranty provider Squaretrade, most people — 21 percent to be precise — damaged their device in the kitchen. The runner up, at 18 percent, is the living room, followed by the bathroom at 16 percent.
  • All in all, 51 percent of iPhone accidents happen inside the house instead of out in the wild, says Squaretrade. To find that out, the company tapped Survey Sampling International and asked 35 questions to 2,004 iPhone owners in August.
  • Other findings from the survey include that water is overwhelmingly the most common when it comes to liquid damage at 43 percent, followed by soda at 19 percent, and beer and coffee/tea, which both came in at 12 percent.
  • The results follow a similar study published by SquareTrade last month that claimed Americans alone have spent $5.9 billion on damaged iPhones.
  • That same survey noted that the main reason phones became damaged in the first place was falling out of user hands (at 30 percent of issues), followed by liquid damage at 18 percent.

Ada Lovelace Day was October 16th

  • Ada Lovelace was a pioneer.  The daughter of Lord Byron, Ada was also the daughter of a woman fed up with Lord Byron.
  • In an effort to dampen the dangerous poetic blood in her daughter, she encouraged her to study mathematics, or really anything except poetry.
  • Despite this, Ada would enjoy poetry and mathematics, asking her mother in a letter if she couldn’t have poetry, could she at least have “poetical science”?  And science was poetic to Ada. 
  • While everyone else was likely bored to tears at a dinner party when old Babbage droned on about his Analytical Engine, Ada was fascinated.
  • She liked it so much that she began corresponding with him, even writing up notes on Menabrea’s summary of Babbage’s plans. 
  • In those notes, Ada predicted that a machine like the one Babbage was planning would one day be used to compose music, produce graphics and would be employed for practical and scientific use.
  • Of course, like many of the great visionaries, she left us far too young, dying of illness at age 36.
  • We celebrate Ada not for her visions of computers that would one day bring us joy and pain, but because she suggested a plan for the engine to calculate Bernoulli numbers, and that algorithm is now considered the first computer program.
  •  In honor of Lady Lovelace, we now have October 16th as Ada Lovelace Day.

Hackers Exploit Zero-Day Bugs For 10 Months

  • Software vendors are constantly on the watch for so-called “zero day” vulnerabilities–flaws in their code that hackers find and exploit before the first day companies become aware of them.
  • That’s one of the findings of a broad study of hackers’ zero-day exploits by two researchers at the antivirus firm Symantec.
  • Leyla Bilge and Tudor Dumitra used data collected from 11 million PCs running Symantec’s antivirus software to correlate a catalogue of zero-day attacks with malware found on those machines.
  • Using that retrospective analysis, they found 18 attacks that represented zero-day exploits between February 2008 and March of 2010, only seven of which were previously known to have been exploited prior to their public discovery.
  • And most disturbingly, they found that those attacks continued 312 days on average–up to 2.5 years in some cases–before the security community became aware of them.
  • 60% of the zero-day vulnerabilities they identify in the study were not known before, which suggests that there are many more zero-day attacks than previously thought.
  • One aspect of zero-day exploits use that’s made them tough to track and count has been how closely targeted they are.
  • Unlike the mass malware infections that typically infect many thousands of machines using known vulnerabilties, the majority of the exploits in Symantec’s study only affected a handful of machines–All but four of the exploits infected less than 100 targets, and four were found on only one computer.
  • That careful use of zero-day exploits, often reserved for stealthy espionage tactics rather than credit-card harvesting or other for-profit crime.
  • A single zero-day exploit can cost as much as $250,000 and the fees are often paid in installments based on the vulnerability remaining secret and unpatched.
  • Unsurprisingly, the study shows that hackers target common software like Microsoft Word, Flash and Adobe Reader. Sixteen of the 18 zero-day exploits discovered and analyzed in the study affected Microsoft and Adobe software.

Text spam messages on the rise

  • Mobile phone consumers received 1.5 billion text spam messages in 2008
  • In 2011, that figure shot up to 4.5 billion text spam messages, according to Ferris Research, a market research firm that tracks mobile spam.
  • That represents less than 1 percent of all text messages that go out.
  • Text spamming is illegal, but that’s not stopping spammers, who typically start by sending out tens of thousands of messages at once.
  • Most use a computer to generate millions of mobile phone number combinations, hoping even a fraction of those numbers are working and that someone will respond.
  • AT&T Mobility warned of recent scams such as one that emerged after Hurricane Isaac. Customers reported receiving text spam messages saying they had qualified for public assistance to recover from storm damage.
  • Mobile phone companies are trying to fight back with a combination of internal security measures and by asking customers to aggressively report spam messages to their wireless carrier.
  • Now, customers of AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint and others can forward their text spam message to 7726.
  • The mobile phone carrier will ask customers for the phone number that’s linked to the spam message so can start investigating.
  • Many spam text phish for account names and passwords, so beware.
  • Spam messages that include audio, videos or photos can cost even more for customers who don’t have data plans.