Show of 7-13-2013

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Steve in Potomac: Dear Doc, I just heard your detailed analysis of cable/TV/internet bundles in your 6/22/13 show which was in response to my e-mail. You are a wonderful professor since your explanation was superb. I have FOIS bundle and was planning to upgrade premium internet but won’t do it now since your experience now. I will also try to get FOIS to match COMCAST using your and Jim’s suggestion and report if they reduce my bill. Thanks for such a informative show and practical advice. Your loyal listener, Steve Potomac, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the feedback. We love your emails.
  • Email from Lynn in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. We would like to share photos online. We only want to share photos privately with only family members. What do you suggest? Love the show. We listen to the podcast in Ohio. Thanks, Lynn in Ohio.
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are a number of photo sharing websites. Most make their money by either selling storage or by selling prints. The two free ones which I have used several times and like are Flickr (owned by Yahoo) and Picasa (owned by Google). Since these are both part of a larger social network, neither site is forced to monetize your business. Both provide free storage up to a specific limit and then charge for additional storage. Both offer the option of ordering prints online.You simply create an account (either public or private), upload your photos, and authorize membership if you selected the private option. The Picasa site is very convenient because it is integrated with the Picasa program on your computer. Uploading the managing photos is very easy and convenient.
  • Email from Dustin in Alexandria: Dear Tech Talk. My Facebook page has been hacked. Someone is posting entries without my permission. What are my options? Thanks, Dustin in Alexandria.
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are several steps that you need to do immediately.
  • Try to recover your account.  Login to your Facebook account right away. If you can, consider yourself very lucky.  If you can’t login, then it’s likely that the hacker has already changed your password.
  • Facebook includes several recovery options provided that you set them up beforehand. These may allow you to regain control of your account and reset your password. If that recovery method doesn’t work – perhaps because the hacker has also altered all of the recovery information that might be used, you don’t recall the answers, or you never set up any recovery information in the first place.
  • If these did not work, get Help From Friends is a technique where you tell Facebook the names of a few friends whom you’re connected with on Facebook. Facebook then sends them recovery information, which you then collect from them and provide to Facebook to recover your account.
  • If your account really is hacked and you’re unable to regain access, you should report it to Facebook as being hacked by visiting this URL: http://www.facebook.com/hacked. That will also provide additional steps to attempt to regain access to your account.
  • If you regain access, change your password. As always, make sure that it’s a good password: easy to remember, difficult to guess, and long. In fact, the longer the better. Make sure your new password is at least 10 characters or more (ideally 12 or more).
  • Change (or set) your recovery information. While the hacker had access to your Facebook account, they may elect to leave your password alone. That way, chances are you won’t notice that the account has been hacked for a while longer. They may very well have gone in and changed the recovery information. The reason is simple: when you finally do get around to changing your password, the hacker can follow the “I forgot my password” steps and reset the password out from underneath you using the recovery information that he collected or set. Change the answer to your security question. Check the email addresses associated with your Facebook account and remove any that you don’t recognize or are no longer accessible to you. Make sure that all of the email addresses are accounts that belong to you and that you have and will continue to be able to access. Check the mobile phone number associated with the account. The hacker could have set their own. Remove any that you don’t recognize and make sure that if a phone number is provided, it’s yours and no one else’s.
  • Let your contacts know. I believe it’s important to notify your contacts, so that they know not to pay attention to posts made while the account was hacked and to be on the lookout for phishing attempts using information that the hacker may have gathered from your account while they had access to it.
  • Email from Jim in Bowie: Dear Tech Talk. Our disc drive is split into a C and a D drive which both have between 30 and 40GB on each. We only ever save on the D drive, but the C drive is up to about 31.9GB with 540MB left available! Apart from about 5GB of photos, I can’t understand what is taking up all the memory. What are my options? Thanks, Jim in Bowie
  • Tech Talk Responds: As we collect pictures and programs (and programs themselves collect data), more disk space is consumed unless files are deleted. With so much happening on our computers these days, it’s almost impossible to simply and quickly realize exactly what’s taking up space.
  • Fortunately, there’s a free tool that I that can give you some very helpful data, called TreeSize Free. TreeSize Free is a free tool that will show you what’s taking up all of the space on your machine. A paid version is available with additional features, but the free version will suffice. Download TreeSize Free from the JAM Software page and install it.1On completion of the installation, you’re given the option to run it or run it as Administrator. As TreeSize scans your hard drive, it updates its display in real time. The primary information here is a list of all of the top-level folders on the C: drive and the amount of disk space consumed by their contents. What’s most helpful is that it is sorted by decreasing disk space; the biggest consumers of space are at the top.
  • Once you know your disk usage, you may decide to move some of the files to your D: drive. Pictures are a good option.
  • Email from Kristi in Texas: Dear Doc. I’ve heard that computers that have webcams installed can get hacked. My question is how do hackers get access? Shouldn’t I be able to see the webcam software running on my screen? How can I tell if the webcam has been hacked and how do I avoid it?. Love the show. Kristi in Texas
  • Tech Talk Responds: A webcam hack is nothing special. It’s just malware. Some malware acts as spam-sending zombies. Other malware actually performs data destruction. Still other malware might sniff your keystrokes. This malware turns on your webcam and does something with what it sees.
  • Malware does everything it can to hide itself. Think of those keystroke loggers, spam-sending botnets, or any of those other forms of malware that are typically not visible, and particularly not visible on the screen. You may never see the webcam software running because the webcam’s being run by malware. And the webcam light might not even turn on. The light might, in fact, be under the control of malware. The bottom line to all this is to just avoid malware.
  • Email from Alice in Bethesda: Dear Tech Talk, what is the value of LinkedIn. I have a Facebook account, but not a LinkedIn account. Should I create one because many of my friends have set one up? Thanks, Alice in Bethesda.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Facebook is a personal social network. It is normally not used for business contacts. LinkedIn is designed to be a work-related network. Its primary use is in getting a job or in recruiting people for your company. You can also connect with many people who work in your industry. So it is very effective at building a business network of friends. If you are looking for a job or plan to look for a job in the future, I would suggest that you set up a LinkedIn account. I use it at Stratford for recruiting and have over 2100 contacts in the education field. It has proven to be a very effective way to connect with people who would like to work at Stratford.

Profiles in IT: Douglas Carl Engelbart

  • Douglas Carl Engelbart was an early computer and Internet pioneer. He is best known for the invention of the computer mouse and the development of hypertext, networked computers, and precursors to graphical user interfaces.
  • Engelbart was born in Portland, Oregon on January 30, 1925.
  • He graduated from Portland’s Franklin High School in 1942.
  • Midway his college at Oregon State College, he was drafted into Navy, serving two years as a radar technician in the Philippines.
  • He returned to Oregon State College and completed his BSEE in 1948.
  • He was hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics at the Ames Research Center, where he worked through 1951.
  • In 1952, he enrolled in graduate school in electrical engineering at University of California, Berkeley, graduating with a MS in 1953 and a Ph.D. in 1955.
  • After graduating, Engelbart taught for a year at Berkeley as an assistant professor.
  • In 1956, Engelbart then formed a startup company, Digital Techniques, to commercialize some of his doctorate research on storage devices.
  • In 1957, Engelbart took a position at SRI International.  He initially worked on magnetic devices and miniaturization of electronics.
  • In 1962, he published a report about his vision and proposed research agenda titled Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.
  • Funded by ARPA, he then founded the Augmentation Research Center (ARC) at SRI.
  • He and his team developed computer interface elements such as bitmapped screens, the mouse, hypertext, collaborative tools. He called it the oN-Line System (NLS).
  • Engelbart applied for computer mouse patent in 1967. He nicknamed it the “mouse” because the tail. SRI licensed it to Apple and Engelbart received nothing.
  • Engelbart showcased his and ARC’s inventions in 1968 at the Mother of All Demos.
  • Several of his researchers became alienated from him and left his organization for Xerox PARC. Engelbart saw the future in collaborative, networked, timeshare (client-server) computers, which younger programmers rejected in favor of the PC.
  • After a funding cut in 1969, SRI dismantled ARC and sold his lab to a Tymshare.
  • Tymshare took over the lab that Engelbart had founded, hired most of the lab’s staff, including Engelbart, and offered it as a commercial service.
  • After Tymshare was purchased by McDonnell Douglas in 1984, Engelbart focused knowledge management and IT requirements involved in the life cycle of an aerospace program. Engelbart retired from McDonnell Douglas in 1986.
  • In 1988 he founded the Bootstrap Institute to present his ideas in a series management seminars offered at Stanford University.
  • Engelbart died at his home in Atherton, California on July 2, 2013, due to kidney failure. His death came after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

MIT Tool Connects the Dots through Gmail metadata

  • How much does the metadata gathered in your inbox reveal about you?
  • Researchers at the MIT Media Lab built a web app that — once you grant it permission to do so — digs through your email history to piece together a “people-centric view of your email life.”
  • It creates a chart that links every who is listed in an email: senders, recipients (including those CC’d), and timestamps within your email archives.
  • It does not include subject lines and the actual bodies of your messages. It gives a graph connecting all contacts with the size of the dot for each contact related to the volume of emails.
  • You can try Immersion for free, but keep in mind you’ll need to grant MIT access to your Google account for the purpose.
  • The good news is that you can logout and erase all your metadata after view your contact graph.
  • I analyzed my Gmail account and it was a very interesting contact graph. You have time period options (last week, last month, last year, or all)
  • Web address: https://immersion.media.mit.edu/

What Part of the Brain Decides What to Share?

  • The Temporo-Parietal Junction, also known as TPJ, is the area of the brain that gets activated when we’re thinking about how to share something and who to share it with.
  • If you want to make something go viral on Facebook or Twitter, the TPJ what decides because it lights up before we even know we’re going to share something.
  • The more activated it is, the more persuasive the share.
  • In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, UCLA scientists put students in MRI machines and gave them a test that involved deciding what to share with each other.
  • The test had to do with entertainment: some of the students played production interns, the others producers, and they had to decide which TV pilot shows they were going to pitch or bank on.
  • If the TPJ was particularly active when someone saw an idea for a pilot, it successfully predicted not only whether they would pitch a given show, but how persuasive they were when making that pitch later on. The psychologists behind the study called this “the salesperson effect.”
  • You might expect people to be most enthusiastic and opinionated about ideas that they themselves are excited about, but this research suggests that’s not the whole story. “Thinking about what appeals to others may be even more important.”
  • The TPJ is located around the center on both sides of the brain, just behind your ears. We know its job is to connect us to the thoughts and beliefs of others; the kind of empathy you get from watching a movie or reading a novel.
  • Damage to the TPJ has been known to result in out-of-body experiences: literally stepping outside of yourself.

Automatic Gate Opener

  • Automatic gate or garage door openers can be controlled with a smart phone.
  • You simply need a gateway to talk with your device.
  • The iSmartGateOpener is a new technology which enables you to use your Smartphone to open your gates.
  • In order for you to download the application which is needed to be able to open the gates, you will need a mobile phone running on Apples iOS (for iPhone) or Google’s android operating system.
  • You have the option of purchasing the iSmart opener which is connected via wired ethernet or the other which has built in Wi-Fi.
  • If you have a fair few residents who are coming in and out of the property, this also saves buying a remote for each of them.
  • You can buy any automatic gate system you want and then simply connect the iSmartGateOpener to it.

Human-Powered Helicopter Wins Sikorsky Prize

  • For the first time since its introduction in 1980, the Sikorsky Prize for a human-powered helicopter flight has actually been awarded.
  • Since 1980, the American Helicopter Society (AHS) has offered the Sikorsky Prize: a US$250,000 reward for a functional, human-powered helicopter.
  • To win the prize, the helicopter must remain airborne for 60 seconds, with an altitude of 3 meters to be reached at some point during those 60 seconds. It must also remain within a horizontal area no larger than 10×10 meters.
  • Last year, it looked like the University of Maryland’s Gamera II was gearing up to take the prize — but two Canadians beat them to it.
  • Cameron Robertson and Todd Reichert of the University of Toronto’s Vehicle Design Team and AeroVelo used Kickstarter last year to fund a vehicle called the Atlas.
  • Consisting of four rotors connected by a massive frame, the helicopter is powered by a modified bicycle slung from the middle.
  • Robertson and Reichert had hired a stadium for five days of test flights. The successful flight didn’t occur until the very last day. Reichert, piloting the Atlas, remained airborne for 64.11 seconds and reached a top height of 3.33 meters within a 9.8-metre square.
  • “In 18 months, this passionate team went from preliminary design to achieving what many considered impossible; taking down one of the most daunting aviation feats of the past century,” the team said on its web page.
  • Web link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syJq10EQkog

An Engineering Toy for Girls

  • Less than a year ago, Debbie Sterling’s concept of a toy that would teach engineering skills to little girls was nothing more than a prototype on Kickstarter.
  • Today, GoldieBlox holds the distinction as one of Amazon’s top 100 toys.
  • The toy, which teaches engineering skills through the adventures of kid inventor Goldie, is available in 600 Toys “R” Us stores, and 400 other toy stores nationwide.
  • Messages from the parents that pour in every day. Stories about little girls that sing songs about building and engineering, or are inspired to build their own toys after playing with GoldieBlox.
  • An engineer herself, Sterling was surprised by the lack of options for little girls in what she calls the “pink aisle” of the toy store.
  • After doing research herself, through everything from talking to little girls about their favorite toys to speaking with toy manufacturers, she settled on a prototype for GoldieBlox, a construction-and-book set for girls aged five to nine.
  • “GoldieBlox is the best of both worlds: reading and building. It appeals to girls because they aren’t just interested in ‘what’ they’re building … they want to know ‘why.’ The machines Goldie builds solve problems and help her friends.”
  • As shown in the video, kids follow along with a picture book to use the toy, wrapping ribbon around pegs in a pegboard to make a functioning machine.
  • “In the first story, Goldie makes a belt drive,” she said. “But you can take that same toy and make a plane, a car, all kinds of things. We want to show people there are infinite ways to play with it.”
  • Sterling designed the GoldieBlox kit in 2012, writing and illustrating the picture books herself while looking for a manufacturer to mass produce the toy.
  • Before the Kickstarter, she invested her entire life savings into production.
  • Luckily for her, the Kickstarter was funded in just four days. By October 2012, Sterling had over 5,000 backers and over $280,000 in funds.
  • On the final day of the Kickstarter, Toys “R” Us contacted Sterling. This summer, GoldieBlox became available in the mega toy chain for the first time. It’s the final step in GoldieBlox’s transition from concept to commercial product.
  • Now GoldieBlox has seven employees; Sterling serves as CEO.
  • In advance of the holiday shopping season, Sterling’s company will launch an additional book as well as an expansion pack of parts to go with the original GoldieBlox toy.
  • Website: http://www.goldieblox.com/