Show of 1-5-2013

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Margaret: Doc Shurtz. I got this the following email today and don’t understand its meaning, I’ve never used this email address with my apple account. Do you think this is SPAM or some kind of scam? Thanks! Margaret
    • Hello,
    • The following information for your Apple ID was updated on 12/21/2012:
    • Security question(s) and answer(s)
    • If these changes were made in error, or if you believe an unauthorized person accessed your account, please reset your account password immediately by going to iforgot.apple.com.
    • To review and update your security settings, sign in to appleid.apple.com.
    • This is an automated message. Please do not reply to this email. If you need additional help, visit Apple Support.
    • Thanks, Apple Customer Support
  • Tech Talk Responds: This email is definitely a phishing attempt. They want you to go to their website and provide your Apple ID, password, and challenge questions. Then they will take over your website. Most notifications of account changes, advise you to call a phone number to report an unauthorized change. Never use the link in an email to log into any site. If you want to double check your account, go to the web address directly and log in.
  • Email from Lola: Dear Doc Shurtz, Happy Holidays and hope 2013 is stellar!! I ordered the new iMAC and it is due to arrive today! Currently I’m using Windows Live Mail and I have about 10 accounts (Gmail, Hotmail, Verizon…) pouring through this conduit/Win Live Mail daily.  I get a TON of spam even though the Verizon accounts are set up to have SPAM filtering.
  • Will the filtering of Spam be more effective/powerful in the iMAC environment and I ought to experience a drop off in Spam? Does it make sense for me to create NEW email accounts with APPLE and just start with a clean slate since the jerks who are sending me spam now will still have the Verizon addresses. Thank You. Lola
  • Tech Talk Responds: When you get your new iMac, you will use OS X Mail as your email consolidation, instead of Windows Live Mail. OS X Mail sports a clean, easy to use interface to its powerful features. With great support for multiple POP, IMAP, Exchange and iCloud accounts, versatile mail filters and a smart conversation view, Mail is flexible enough for most needs.
  •  OS X Mail comes with an email program’s two essential features: a smart spam filter that learns from your decisions and fast search that allows you to locate any email in seconds, no matter which folder it is in. In order for the Bayesian SPAM filter to work efficiently, you must identity undetected SPAM and improperly identified SPAM. The more you give the filter feedback, the better it will become.
  • As far as a new account. If you have a Verizon account that is loaded with SPAM, you probably have used it too often in public postings or contests. It may be useful to abandon it, after notifying all your contacts. But I would wait and see if Apple’s highly rated SPAM filters will work for you.
  • Email from Alex: Dear Tech Talk. I am writing a manual for my users and would like to insert a screen shot into my Windows documents. What do you suggest? Thanks, Alex
  • Tech Talk Responds: A screen shot or screen capture is a way to “take a picture” of your computer screen.
  • Windows Vista and Windows 7 include the “Snipping Tool” for just this purpose. You’ll find it on the Start menu, in All Programs, Accessories:
  • As soon as you run it, your screen dims somewhat. As the instructions indicate, you can then click-hold-and-drag the mouse to specify a rectangle on the screen that should be captured. As soon as you release the mouse, the Snipping tool opens with the region you’ve selected as an image.
  • Once you’re done, click on the disk icon or type CTRL+S to save the image in a common image file format such as .jpg of .png.
  • The Windows 7 Snipping tool is still present in Windows 8. At the new Windows 8-tiled desktop, simple start typing “snip” to begin a search. As you can see, the Snipping tool is by default the only result.
  • When you press the PrtScn key, an image of your entire screen is placed on your clipboard. Now, rather than printing it, you can do something with it. After you’ve pressed PrtScn, open up your favorite image editor. While in your image editor (like Paint), hit Edit, Paste, and you should now have an image of your screen within the image editing program. Now, save this image to a file.
  • Email from Alicia: Dear Doc and Jim. If I have an e-book on my computer in e-pub format and send it to a friend’s computer, can they then send it to their Kindle via a USB cable? Love the show. Alicia
  • Tech Talk Responds: Yes you can transfer to a Kindle via USB. The problem is the Kindle won’t be able to read it. Kindle does not support the open source epub format.
  • The good news is that there is a program called Calibre. It is an ebook conversion program. It’s actually a desktop ebook reader, but it will do conversions of one format to another. You can use Calibre to load up your epub book and then save it in .mobi or MOBI format.
  • MOBI format is actually the native format used by the Amazon Kindle. They put a DRM layer (digital rights management) on top of that, but fundamentally, it’s the underlying format used by Kindle. You can perform that conversion yourself using Calibre. Calibre is an open source project started by Kovid Goyal, while still in graduate school.
  • You can download Calibre from http://calibre-ebook.com/. It supports Windows 32-bit and 64-bit, Linus, and OSX. The program is shareware and only asks for support if you find it useful.
  • Email from Susan: Dear Dr. Shurtz, I am being transferred to India for the next six months. I would like to find a way for my friends in the US to call me without an hassle. What do you suggest? Thanks, Susan in Alexandria
  • Tech Talk Responds: The good news is that you have several options using voice over IP (VoIP) over the Internet. I will give you a few.
  • Skype phone number — The first one I’m going to suggest is in fact, US Skype number. It will cost around $60 per year. You friends can simply call that number locally and your Skype client on your PC will ring automatically. Sign up for voicemail to get messages. You can also forward your account to an Indian cell phone number, but you will have to pay Skype out charges.
  • Google Voice number – Same for Google Voice. Purchase a Google voice number and use it the same way. It was free last time I checked. You can redirect to another phone number to get voice mail. Charges may apply here.
  • Vonage account – Get a Vonage account for $9.95 per month. Vonage is actually in the VoIP providing service here in the United States for residential customers. You hook up your Vonage box to the Internet and your local phone system. If you take your box with you to India, your phone will ring the same way. So you friends can call you just like you were in the US. Beware that you need sufficient bandwidth for good call quality.
  • Ooma – In this case you buy your Ooma box for around $200 and then you only pay minimal telecom taxes of around $4.95 per year. This is what I use. I have transferred my landline number to my Ooma account. No one can tell that I am using VoIP. If I take my Ooma box with me to anywhere in the world, my number travels with me.

Profiles in IT: Normal Joseph Woodland

  • Norman Joseph Woodland was best known as the co-inventor of the barcode used for tracking inventory.
  • Norman Joseph Woodland was born in Atlantic City on September 6, 1921.
  • As a Boy Scout he learned Morse code, the spark that would ignite his invention.
  • After spending World War II on the Manhattan Project at Oak, Woodland resumed his studies at the Drexel Institute of Technology, earning a BS degree in 1947.
  • As an undergraduate, Mr. Woodland perfected a system for delivering elevator music efficiently. His system recorded 15 audio tracks on 35-millimeter film.
  • He planned to pursue the project commercially, but his father forbade it, claiming that elevator music was controlled by the mob.
  • Woodland returned to Drexel for a master’s degree  and was hired as a teaching assistant while completing his MS degree.
  • In 1948, a supermarket executive implored a dean to develop an efficient means of encoding product data.
  • The dean turned down the request. The request was overhead by fellow student, Bernard Silver, who mentioned it to Woodland. After working on some preliminary ideas, Woodland was persuaded that they could create a viable product.
  • Woodland, convinced that a solution was close, quit graduate school and used stock market earnings to devote himself to the problem. He holed up at his grandparents’ home in Miami Beach, where he spent the winter of 1948-49 thinking on the beach.
  • Woodland recalling how with Morse code dots and dashes are used to send information electronically.
  • He started to draw dots and dashes in the sand similar to the shapes used in Morse code. After pulling them downward with his fingers, producing thin lines resulting from the dots and thick lines from the dashes, he came up with the concept of a two-dimensional, linear Morse code.
  • After sharing it with Silver and adapting movie soundtrack technology, they applied for a patent on October 20, 1949, covering both linear and circular bull’s-eye designs.
  • In 1951, Woodland was hired by IBM in 1951 as a mechanical engineer.
  • The patent (Classifying Apparatus and Method) was granted on October 7, 1952.
  • They sold their patent to RCA for $15K in 1952 when IBM declined to pursue it.
  • RCA finally interested the National Association of Food Chains in the idea in 1969, the year the patent expired. They formed the U.S. Supermarket Ad Hoc Committee on a Uniform Grocery Product Code. The concept was complete with a laser scanner
  • IBM showed interest in 1971. Finding out about Woodland’s work, they transferred him their North Carolina facilities, where he played a key role in developing the Universal Product Code (UPC), beating RCA in a competition.
  • The first item scanned was a packet of chewing gum in an Ohio supermarket in 1974.
  • Woodland died on December 9, 2012, in Edgewater, New Jersey

Internet Was Born 30 Years Ago

  • Thirty years ago this week the modern internet became operational as the US military flipped the switch on TCP/IP.
  • The deadline was 1 January, 1983: after this, any of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network’s (ARPANET) 400 hosts that were still using the existing, host-to-host Network Control Protocol (NCP) were to be cut off.
  • The move to packet switching with TCP/IP was simultaneous and coordinated with the community in the years before 1983. More than 15 government and university institutions from NASA AMES to Harvard University used NCP on ARPANET.
  • With so many users, though, there was plenty of disagreement. The deadline was ultimately set because everybody using ARPANET was convinced of the need for wholesale change.
  • TCP/IP was the co-creation of Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn, who published their paper, A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection in 1974.
  • ARPANET was the wide-area network sponsored by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that went live in 1969, while Cerf had been an ARPANET scientist at Stanford University. The military had become interested in a common protocol as different networks and systems using different protocols began to hook up to ARPANET and found they couldn’t easily talk to each other,
  • Cerf, who today is vice-president and “chief internet evangelist” at Google, announced the 30th anniversary of the TCP/IP switchover in an official Google blog post titled “Marking the birth of the modern-day Internet”.
  • When the day came, it’s fair to say the main emotion was relief, especially among those system administrators racing against the clock. There were no grand celebrations. The only visible mementos were the “I survived the TCP/IP switchover” pins proudly worn by those who went through the ordeal!
  • On that day, the operational Internet was born. TCP/IP went on to be embraced as an international standard, and now underpins the entire Internet.
  • It was a significant moment, and without TCP/IP we wouldn’t have the internet as we know it.
  • But that wasn’t the end of the story, and three years later TCP/IP was in trouble as it suffered from severe congestion to the point of collapse.
  • TCP/IP had been adopted by the US military in 1980 following successful tests across three separate networks, and when it went live ARPANET was managing 400 nodes.
  • After the January 1983 switchover, though, so many computer users were starting to connect to ARPANET – and across ARPANET to other networks – that traffic had started to hit bottlenecks. By 1986 there were 28,000 nodes on ARPANET, causing congestion with speeds dropping from 32Kbps to 40bps across relatively small distances.
  • Van Jacobson, who’d spotted the slowdown between his lab in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley, just 400 yards and two IMP hops apart, devised a congestion-avoidance algorithm to lower a computer’s network data transfer speed and settle on a stable but slower connection rather than blindly flooding the network with packets.
  • The algorithm allowed TCP/IP systems to process lots of requests in a more conservative fashion. The fix was first applied as a client-side patch to PCs by sysadmins and then incorporated into the TCP/IP stack. Jacobson went on to author the Congestion Avoidance and Control (SIGCOMM 88) paper while the internet expanded to about one billion nodes.
  • Jacobson believes that TCP/IP faces another crisis – and, again, it’s scalability.
  • This time, the problem is millions of users surfing towards the same web destinations for the same content, such as a piece of news or video footage on YouTube.
  •  Jacobson proposed a solution, Content-Centric Networking, a network architecture to cache content locally to avoid everybody hitting exactly the same servers simultaneously.

Idea of the Week: Gravity Powered Light

  • Many people in developing counties don’t have the luxury of electric grids and have to rely on kerosene lamps to brighten the night.
  • Kerosene costs money and breathing the fumes is dangerous. A new light powered by gravity could be a superior solution to lighting needs.
  • GravityLight doesn’t need to be recharged through solar cells. It doesn’t use batteries at all.
  • It’s powered by gravity. A weight attached to the light takes 3 seconds to lift up, but provides 30 minutes of light as it descends.
  • One major goal is to eventually get the cost down to $5 per light, making it a very affordable purchase for people in need while saving them money over the ongoing cost of kerosene.
  • The GravityLight project has captured plenty of public interest. The Indiegogo campaign has raised more than $320,000.
  • Supporters can sponsor the delivery of GravityLights to villagers in need, as well as receive a light of their own. A $50 pledge supports research and comes with a light.
  • It’s healthier and cheaper than kerosene, less expensive than solar, and requires only a bag of rocks or sand to provide weight.
  • Supporters can get a GravityLight of their own to try out.
  • Website: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/282006

FTC Settles with Google

  • The Federal Trade Commission announced today that it has completed a nearly two-year investigation into Google’s business practices. Google emerges unscathed.
  • FTC commissioners decided unanimously that Google was not violating any antitrust laws when it comes to search results. For Google, this is a major victory. Google competitors are livid.
  • Google will have to license some of the patents it acquired from Motorola more liberally. The FTC found that Google’s use of some of the patents it acquired from Motorola to be anticompetitive. Google can no longer file injunctions against competitors that make use of those patents, which are needed for complying with technical standards. Google agreed to allow competitors access to the patents, “on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.”
  • Next anti-trust battleground will be the European Union.

Top 10 Jobs for 2013

  • These three professions are among the best jobs that require a bachelor’s degree for 2013, according to a new study by CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI).
  • The study used EMSI’s rich labor market database, which pulls from over 90 national and state employment resources and includes detailed information on employees and self-employed workers, to find the 18 top jobs for 2013, based on the occupations with the most jobs added since 2010.
  1. Software Developers (Applications and Systems Software). 70,872 jobs added since 2010, 7% growth
  2. Accountants and Auditors. 37,123 jobs added since 2010, 3% growth
  3. Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists. 31,335 jobs added since 2010, 10% growth
  4. Computer Systems Analysts. 26,937 jobs added since 2010, 5% growth
  5. Human Resources, Training and Labor Relations Specialists. 22,773 jobs added since 2010, 5% growth
  6. Network and Computer Systems Administrators. 18,626 jobs added since 2010, 5% growth
  7. Sales Representatives (Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific). 17,405 jobs added since 2010, 4% growth
  8. Information Security Analysts, Web Developers and Computer Network Architects. 15,715 jobs added since 2010, 5% growth
  9. Mechanical Engineers. 13,847 jobs added since 2010, 6% growth
  10. Industrial Engineers. 12,269 jobs added since 2010, 6% growth
  11. Computer Programmers. 11,540 jobs added since 2010, 3% growth
  12. Financial Analysts. 10,016 jobs added since 2010, 4% growth
  13. Public Relations Specialists. 8,541 jobs added since 2010, 4% growth
  14. Logisticians. 8,522 jobs added since 2010, 8% growth
  15. Database Administrators. 7,468 jobs added since 2010, 7% growth