Show of 2-16-2013

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Margaret in Bethesda: Dear Dr. Shurtz, I have heard that e-filing of your income taxes is not safe and your filing can be easily hijacked. Do U plan on e-filing your Federal and state tax forms for tax year 2012? If so, can you share what precautions you are taking that I ought to take? Most appreciated. Margaret, a loyal Bethesda listener
  • Tech Talk Responds: E-filing is safe as long as you use reputable tax preparers or tax preparation software. The key factor is to keep your private information private in order to prevent identity theft.
  • Fraudulent tax returns can come in the form of tax-identity theft, refund fraud, or return-preparer fraud and are difficult to prosecute. With e-filing, evidence of fraud is difficult to find. There are no signed tax forms, envelopes or fingerprints, and e-filing promises quick refunds.
  • It’s easy for criminals to e-file using a real name and Social Security number combined with a phony Form W-2 (wages) or fabricated Schedule C (business income). The refund can be posted to an anonymous “Green Dot” prepaid Visa or MasterCard MA purchased at a drugstore. Such cards have a routing and account number suitable for direct deposit.
  • E-filing is not a danger. Identity theft is problem. And that has been made easier with e-filing.
  • Email from Mike: Hi, have been listening to your show for a few years most Saturday mornings.† I stumbled on a great show the other week on PBS, don’t know if you have already mentioned this or not on the history of Fairchild Semiconductor.† It was just fascinating; primarily I would say the 4 main personalities involved and the split to Intel. Anyway, if you haven’t done it before – it’s ready made for a “Profiles in IT” segment and you could cover several folks all at once. Great show and hope you can use the idea. Thanks, Mike
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is a great story. The migration of personnel from Fairchild to Intel and the creation of the CPU using integrated circuits. I have profiled most of those key individuals, but will revisit the story again on the a future show. Many lessons are to be learned from this piece of tech history.
  • Email from Geekchick: Dear Tech Talk, is there a legit site for unlocking my iPhone 5?† I had Verizon as the carrier and cancelled the plan about a week ago. Now I want to sell the phone and many buyers are asking if it is unlocked.† Is there any downside to unlocking it I need to be aware of? Do you know of a legitimate site for unlocking an iPhone?† Enjoy listening weekly on Sat mornings :† ), Thanks, Geekchick
  • Tech Talk Responds: The good news is that your Verizon iPhone5 is unlocked; at least the GSM portion is unlocked. The CDMA portion is still tied to you phone number and is not unlocked. My iPhone4S was initially locked and Verizon unlocked it. The iPhone is locked or unlocked during activation with the Apple website. You phone must be listed as unlocked by your carrier to be unlocked. It cannot be unlocked by simply putting in a code, as it can with other phones.
  • Email from Mathew: Dear Tech Talk, I canít always listen live.† I use Tune In to listen to podcasts but Tech Talk is not available.† I am sure that you would get many more listeners if you would make the show available on Tune In. Thanks, Mathew in Chevy Chase.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Tune In is used for live broadcasts primarily. You can listen to Tech Talk on Tune In during the show by simply searching for Federal News Radio. If you want to listen to the shows later in the week, you can go to Apple iTunes and search for Stratford Tech Talk Radio or you can go to the Stratford Website and subscribe to the podcast. I did notice that Tune In does list some podcasts. I will check to see whether they will list Tech Talk in their line up.
  • Email from Alex: Dear Doc. Is there a simple way to transfer pictures from my Android mobile phone to my PC? I use Windows XP. I have Bluetooth on the phone. I don’t know how to get Bluetooth on the PC. Is there any other way? Thanks, Alex
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are a couple of ways. The approach that I use is Dropbox. You will need to install the Dropbox app on your mobile phone and on your PC. When you install it on your phone, you will be given the option of having Dropbox automatically upload each of the pictures that you take as soon as you take them. Once you do so, then the pictures will, also, automatically show up on any of the other computers on which happen to be running Dropbox.
  • The other approach is to use a cable. Your phone came with a USB cable that should allow you to attach your phone to your computer. When attached, your phone should be enabled to look like a disk drive to your computer. Find a folder called “DCIM. That folder contain all of your pictures. You can simply use Windows Explorer to then copy those picture files from your phone to your PC.

Profiles in IT: John Elias Karlin

  • John Elias Karlin was the industrial psychology who was widely considered to be the father of human-factors engineering in American industry. He led to the way to all digital dialing and the design on the touch tone phone.
  • John Elias Karlin was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on Feb. 28, 1918.
  • He earned a bachelorís degree in philosophy, psychology and music, and a masterís degree in psychology, both from the University of Cape Town.
  • Throughout his studies he was a violinist in the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra and the Cape Town String Quartet.
  • He earned a PhD mathematical psychology from the University of Chicago in 1942.
  • After graduation, he was hired as research associate at Harvard to do research on problems in military psychoacoustics, like the impact of noise of aircraft.
  • In 1945 he joined Bell Labs as the first research psychologist on staff. Karlin spent his early years there working on problems in telephone acoustics.
  • In 1947 he persuaded Bell Labs to create the Human Factors Engineering Group to study larger issues related to human factors design.
  • An early experiment involved the telephone cord. Karlinís staff secretly shortened their colleaguesí phone cords an inch at time. No one noticed until the cords had lost an entire foot. From then on, phones came with shorter cords.
  • Mr. Karlin also introduced the white dot inside each finger hole of the rotary phone.
  • He noticed that after the phone had been redesigned with the letters and numbers on the outside the finger holes, users could no longer dial as quickly.
  • With blank space at the center of the holes, Karlin found, callers no longer had a target at which to aim their fingers. The dot restored the speed.
  • All-digit dialing was needed to create new phone numbers. It would replace the combination of letters and numbers. Mr. Karlinís research showed that seven digits could be easily remembered leading the way to seven digit dialing. †
  • In 1946, a Bell Labs engineer, Rudolph F. Mallina, had patented an early push-button phone with buttons arranged in two horizontal rows (1 through 5 and 6 through 10)
  • By the late 1950s, Karlinís group began to study the optimal design for the phone.
  • The victorious design used keys half an inch square. The keypad was rectangular, comprising 10 keys: a 3-by-3 grid spanning 1 through 9, plus zero, centered below.
  • Putting ď1-2-3Ē on the padís top row, instead of the bottom row like calculators, made for more accurate dialing.
  • The push-button phone was officially introduced on Nov. 18, 1963.
  • Karlin retired from Bell Labs in 1977. He died on Jan. 28, 2013, at age 94.
  • If he were alive today, I suspect he would be working at Apple in their human factors department with Johnny Ives.

Space News: Meteor Strike Russia

  • A meteor that exploded over Russia this morning was the largest recorded object to strike the Earth in more than a century.
  • Calculations show that the meteoroid was approximately 15 meters across when it entered the atmosphere, and put its mass at around 7,000 metric tons.
  • The meteor appeared at around 9.25 a.m. on February 15, 2013. The fireball blinded drivers and a subsequent explosion blew out windows and damaged hundreds of buildings.
  • †More than 1000 people are reported to have been injured, mainly from broken glass.
  • Despite its massive size, the object went undetected until it hit the atmosphere.
  • The meteoroid itself was probably made of rock, but may have also contained nickel and iron. Campbell-Brown says that it was likely to have come from the asteroid belt, a region containing hundreds of thousands of rocky bodies and located between Mars and Jupiter.
  • Many dash cam videos were posted to YouTube. Dash cams is prevalent in Russia because they help drivers protect themselves from fraudulent police actions.

Space News: Asteroid Passes near Earth

  • A 150-foot asteroid passed near Earth on Friday, February 15, 2013. It within an 17,150 miles and making the closest known flyby for a rock of its size.
  • Scientists the world over, along with NASA, insisted the meteor had nothing to do with the asteroid that struck Russia since they appeared to be traveling in opposite directions.
  • Asteroid 2012 DA14, as it’s called, came closer to Earth than many communication and weather satellites orbiting 22,300 miles up.
  • The asteroid was too small to see with the naked eye even at its closest approach around 2:25 p.m. EST, over the Indian Ocean near Sumatra.
  • The best viewing locations, with binoculars and telescopes, were in Asia, Australia and Eastern Europe. Even there, all anyone could see was a pinpoint of light as the asteroid passed by at 17,400 mph.
  • As asteroids go, this one is very small. The one that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was 6 miles across. But this rock could still do immense damage if it ever struck with its 143,000-ton weight, releasing the energy equivalent of 2.4 million tons of TNT and wiping out 750 square miles.
  • Most of the solar system’s asteroids are situated in a belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and remain stable there for billions of years. Some occasionally pop out, though, into Earth’s neighborhood.
  • NASA scientists estimate that an object of this size makes a close approach like this every 40 years. The likelihood of a strike is every 1,200 years.
  • Asteroid DA14 was discovered by Spanish astronomers only last February.

iPhone 4S Battery Life Problem with iOS6.1

  • When Apple launched iOS6.1 to fix network problems with iPhone 5, they created problems for the 4S, including connectivity problems, Exchange server connectivity, and battery life.
  • iOS6.1.1 update fixed connectivity and Exchange problems, but not the battery life issue.
  • If you have an iPhone 4S, close all open applications. By double clicking the button below the screen. Hold down an icon in the tray at the bottom of screen, until they wiggle. Then press the delete button. This will close the applications, but not delete them. This will help battery life significantly.
  • To complete the Exchange server fix, delete your Exchange server account, reboot the phone, and then reinstall your Exchange account.
  • These actions will help until iOS6.1.2 is released. This is a typical problem with all iOS releases.