Show of 8-3-2013

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Replaying segments from previous shows.

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Bethesda listener: Dear Doc Shurtz, I just heard about Wal-Mart’s no-contract Straight Talk plan, which will provide unlimited data and voice for $45 per month. I own an iPhone5 and just cancelled the Verizon serv. plan and paid their 320 cancel fee. Can I now use it with the Wal-Mart no-contract straight talk plan? Are there steps I need to make first? Thanks! Bethesda Listener and Fan
  • Tech Talk Responds: Wal-Mart’s Straight Talk plan purchases coverage from existing carriers and then remarkets the product. This has been done in Europe for years. You can buy either a CDMA phone and use the Verizon network or a GSM phone and use the ATT network. Their phone is not free. You have to pay around $650 for an iPhone5. You can pay for it on installments at $25 per month, interest free. Once you paid your cancellation fee with Verizon, you bought your phone. You should be able to use it on the Straight Talk plan, unless Verizon chooses to be nasty.
  • If you buy your phone at Wal-Mart, I would get the Verizon phone because it comes with both CDMA and GSM capability. In the US you could use the Verizon network which has better coverage than ATT. Make certain that the GSM portion is unlocked, so you use the phone for international travel.
  • Email from Richard Caputo: Good day Dr. Shurtz, I just checked the Stratford website. I’m happy that the radio show can be heard in California. The radio talk show had always been the most informative and entertaining show to my ears. Richard Caputo, CIS graduate and former instructor.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks Richard. Always great to reconnect.
  • Email for Alex: Dear Tech Talk. Why was my computer locked by cyber cops when I did not do anything illegal? To unlock, I’m asked for a fine of $100. How do I know that it’s not a scam? Thanks, Alex.
  • Tech Talk Responds: It’s a malware scam. The Cyber Cops are scammers. The entire thing has to do with extortion. What you have is a malware infection. Unfortunately, removing it can be somewhat difficult. My suggestion is that you run a program such as Windows Defender Offline to scan your computer for malware before it actually boots. In other words, what you do is end up booting from the DVD or the CD that’s created by the Windows Defender offline installation process.
  • When you boot from that, you’re no longer running any software from your actual PC. You’re running the software that’s on that CD. That, then, may give you the opportunity to go in and clean any malware that’s on that machine.
  • Email for Roger in Alexandria: Dear Doc and Jim. My router goes offline quite often. The way I usually resolve this is to unplug it and then plug the router and I can get right back online. What can cause this sudden loss of internet connection through my router? Can you think of ways of preventing this from happening again? Love the show. Roger.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You just have a connectivity problem. I think that there are a couple of different things that can be diagnosed here. The first thing I would would try swapping that router for a different one. It’s very possible that the router is simply having an issue staying connected. The other thing that I would do is, of course, take a look at your internet connection itself. It is very possible that the internet connection itself is dropping out. That can happen for any number of different of reasons (loose connections, dampness, etc.). You might work with your ISP. They can remotely measure the S/N on the line and may be able to help. They may also be able help diagnose your router problem. They may swap it for you (and then register the new MAC address).
  • Email from Steve: Dear Tech Talk, I’ve a Windows 7 PC. My browser is IE 9. I’m using an external hard drive to backup files and hold files from a previous personal computer. My computer page shows my 750 GB external hard drive is full. Though I’ve added up all the files and there’s only 70 GB on it. I deleted 10 GB of duplicate files and it still reads “full” with only a few MB available. Thanks Steve
  • Tech Talk Responds: The first thing that comes to mind is: have you ever emptied your Recycle bin? When you delete files, by default they often get placed into a Recycle bin. What that means is the file is not physically deleted; the space is not immediately freed. So, first thing I would have you do is – empty your Recycle bin.
  • Second thing I would have you do is, in Windows Explorer, uncheck the option that says “Don’t display hidden files” or to put it the other way, make sure that hidden files are being displayed. My guess is that there’s actually a lot more on that external hard drive than you think and that those files are what’s taking up all that space. Make sure that option is turned off so that Windows Explorer will make all those files visible.
  • Finally, I would check what is taking up all the space with a program called TreeSize. It will allow you to actually see where, on that hard drive, that space is being taken up – which folder has all of these files that are taking up so much space. Even if you don’t turn on the view hidden files option in Windows Explorer, Tree Size is going to show you all of those folders that it can find on that hard drive.
  • Email from Graeme in Ireland: Dear Tech Talk. I just got my iPhone5 and love its feel and features. I am using the navigation system that came with it. It works pretty well except in the city. Yesterday I was trying to find the Shelburne Hotel and it directed me to a seedy part of town about 10 km from the Shelburne. My last phone was an Android and I did not have this problem. What can it do? Thanks, Graeme O’Toole, Virginia, Ireland.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Download Google Maps from the App Store. It is much better than Apple Maps that is natively run by the iPhone. It has an excellent interface and voice navigation. It is the same app that you had on your old Android phone.

Profiles in IT: Dennis Crowley

  • Dennis Crowley is an internet entrepreneur best known for co-founding the popular social networking sites Dodgeball and Foursquare.
  • Dennis Crowley was born June 19, 1976 in Medley, Massachusetts.
  • Crowley graduated from Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, MA in 1994.
  • He received a BA in Public Communications from Syracuse University in 1998.
  • After graduating from Syracuse, he worked ked two jobs in New York: one was at an Internet research firm and the other was at a tech start-up.
  • After the dot-com crash, he lost both jobs in the summer of 2001.
  • Then 9/11 happened and he took a job as a snowboard instructor for the winter.
  • The winter he began applying to business schools unsuccessfully and a friend asked him to attend a weird art show at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
  • The first project I saw was someone who was making robots who follow robots who follow robots. He loved the program and enrolled.
  • He was inspired by emerging technology and the Internet and building things that people use and get enjoyment out of.
  • He enrolled in the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU and received a Masters degree in 2004.
  • His thesis project at ITP was called Dodgeball. It was kind of a really early version of what Foursquare is: you tell Dodgeball where you are, and we’ll tell your friends where you are.
  • Crowley co-founded Dodgeball with fellow student Alex Rainert in 2003 while attending NYU.
  • While trying to raise money to fund it, they were acquired by Google.
  • Google bought Dodgeball in 2005 and shut it down in 2009, replacing it with Google Latitude.
  • He left Google and worked for a friend’s company for eight months and then took a year off.
  • Crowley along with Naveen Selvadurai developed a second version of the original Dodgeball service called Foursquare (www.foursquare.com)  in 2009.
  • Both dodge ball and foursquare are elementary school games using a ball.
  • Foursquare is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices.
  • Users check-in at venues using a mobile website. Location is based on GPS data or network location provided by the application.
  • Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes badges, like Mayor.
  • Foursquare is principally funded by three VC firms and raised $1.35 million in its Series A and $20 million in its Series B round. On June 24, 2011 Foursquare raised $50 million on a $600 million valuation.
  • Foursquare, had over 10 million users as of June 2011 and currently as around 100 employees.
  • In 2005, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR35 as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under the age of 35.
  • Crowley was named one of Fortune Magazine’s “40 under 40” Business’s hottest rising stars in 2010.

Idea of the Week: Speech-Jamming Gun

  • Two Japanese researchers recently introduced a prototype for a device they call a SpeechJammer that can literally “jam” someone’s voice — effectively stopping them from talking. Now they’ve released a video of the device in action.
  • The researchers released the video after their paper went viral Thursday, to the authors’ apparent surprise.
  • The design of the device is deceptively simple. It consists of a direction-sensitive microphone and a direction-sensitive speaker, a motherboard, a distance sensor and some relatively straightforward code. The concept is simple, too — it operates on the well-studied principle of delayed auditory feedback.
  • By playing someone’s voice back to them, at a slight delay (around 200 milliseconds), you can jam a person’s speech.
  • The Japanese researchers behind the SpeechJammer looked to medical devices used to help people with speech problems.
  • Delayed auditory feedback, or DAF, devices have been used to help stutterers for decades. If a stutterer hears his own voice at a slight delay, stuttering often improves.
  • But if a non-stutterer uses a DAF device designed to help stutterers, he can start stuttering — and the effect is more pronounced if the delay is longer.
  • They utilized DAF to develop a device that can jam remote physically unimpaired people’s speech whether they want it or not.
  • Being at a distance from the target means it’s possible to aim the device at people who are several feet away.
  • Bothered by what someone at a meeting is saying? Point the SpeechJammer at him.
  • The device is still a prototype.

Woman cuffed for deleting virtual husband

  • A 43-year-old Japanese woman has been jailed for “killing” her virtual husband to revenge an unexpected in-game divorce.
  • The unhappy couple’s characters had been “married” in the side-scrolling Korean massive multiplayer game, MapleStory.
  • She was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data. Police claim she used the man’s identification and password in order to delete his beloved character.
  • “I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry,” a police official quoted her as telling investigators.
  • The 33-year-old office worker contacted the police when he discovered his character was missing in Mid-May.
  • He is believed to have freely given the woman his MapleStory password at an earlier date when the two were in the joyous throes of e-marital bliss.
  • After her arrest, the woman was taken some 620 miles from her home in southern Miyazaki to be detained in Sapporo, where the man lives.
  • She hasn’t yet been formally charged, but AP reports she could face a prison term of up to five years in prison or a fine of $5,000 (£3,091) if convicted.

Food Science: Hot Sauce Origin

  • Hot sauces have been around since humans first realized they could eat peppers.
  • Bottles containing hot sauce have been recovered from archaeological digs as well as shipwrecks.
  • Advertisements for cayenne sauces appeared in Massachusetts newspapers and city directories as early as 1807.
  • Sometime between 1840 and 1860, J. McCollick & Company of New York produced a Bird Pepper Sauce, most likely made with wild chiles called chiltepins, or bird peppers.
  • In 1849, England’s Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce was first imported into the United States from Great Britain.
  • Many of the first homegrown hot sauces in the United States came from the South. Cajun cuisine and other fiery ethnic foods fueled the drive to make hot sauces.
  • Colonel Maunsell White, a prominent Louisiana banker and legislator, grew peppers on his Deer Range Plantation.
    • In 1859, White manufactured, bottled and advertised the first hot sauce from these chiles.
    • Edmund McIlhenny planted peppers his plantation on Avery Island, LA, using seeds given to him by Colonel Maunsell White.
    • Edmund McIlhenny created what would become Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce.
    • In 1868, Edmund first bottled his Tabasco sauce in recycled cologne bottles.
    • The McIlhenny Company has trademarked Tabasco, which is why it’s the only Tabasco sauce on the market today
    • Although it is trademarked by McIlhenny, Tabasco actual refers to a geographic and political region in Mexico where the Tabasco pepper was said to originate.
  • Similar sauces can note they are made with Tabasco peppers, but can only be known at hot sauce.
  • Jacob Frank started selling Frank’s Redhot Cayenne Pepper Sauce in 1920 and it was this hot sauce that French’s, the current owner of Frank’s Redhot Cayenne Pepper Sauce, proclaims as the secret ingredien in the original Buffalo Wings concocted in 1964 by Teresa Bellissimo at the Anchor Bar and Grill in Buffalo, NY.

Time Measurements

  • Why is a minute divided into 60 seconds, an hour into 60 minutes, yet there are only 24 hours in a day?
  • Why 24 hours?
    • As early as 1500 B.C., the Egyptians had developed an advanced sundial. A T-shaped bar placed in the ground, this instrument to divided the interval between sunrise and sunset into 12 parts.
    • Egyptian astronomers used the movement of stars to measure the night, based ultimately on a set of 24 stars, 12 of which marked the passage of the night.
    • The clepsydra, or water clock, was also used to record time during the night, and was perhaps the most accurate timekeeping device of the ancient world.
    • Once both the light and dark hours were divided into 12 parts, the concept of a 24-hour day was in place. The hours were not fixed because the length of the day changed throughout the year.
    • Hours of fixed length became commonplace only after mechanical clocks first appeared in Europe during the 14th century.
  • Why 60 minutes?
    • The Babylonians made astronomical calculations in the sexagesimal (base 60) system they inherited from the Sumerians, who developed it around 2000 B.C.
    • Although it is no longer used for general computation, the sexagesimal system is still used to measure angles, geographic coordinates and time.
    • The Greek astronomer Eratosthenes (who lived circa 276 to 194 B.C.) used a sexagesimal system to divide a circle into 60 parts in order to devise an early geographic system of latitude, with the horizontal lines running through well-known places on the earth at the time.
    • A century later, Hipparchus normalized the lines of latitude, making them parallel and obedient to the earth’s geometry.
    • He also devised a system of longitude lines that encompassed 360 degrees and that ran north to south, from pole to pole.
    • Each degree was divided into 60 parts, each of which was again subdivided into 60 smaller parts.
    • The first division, partes minutae primae, or first minute, became known simply as the “minute.” The second segmentation, partes minutae secundae, or “second minute,” became known as the second.
    • Minutes and seconds, however, were not used for everyday timekeeping until many centuries later.
    • It was not practical for the general public to consider minutes until the first mechanical clocks that displayed minutes appeared near the end of the 16th century.

Food Science: Marinades

  • There are three main components — Acid, Fat and Flavor.
  • Acid is the most important element, as its function is to break down muscle proteins and tenderize tough cuts of meat. Its secondary function is to impart flavor; however an acid cannot act alone; it needs fat and additional layers of flavor to achieve balance. Examples include: tomatoes, citrus fruits, pineapple, papaya, vinegar, wine, beer, hard booze, buttermilk and yogurt.
  • Fat – You don’t need much, but even a few tablespoons of oil helps to keep things lubricated. Solid fats (butter, lard, shortening) are not used because they wouldn’t dissolve until cooking, which defeats the purpose. Certain fats, such as sesame oil, olive oil and walnut oil will impart flavor as well.
  • Flavor is where you can get creative. Generally speaking, the flavor components includes all or most of the following elements: Sweet, Heat, Salt and Savory.
    • Sweet: It’s amazing how a little bit of sugar, honey, molasses or any other sweetener can bring out the savory qualities of a dish. Not necessary, but worth a smidge.
    • Heat: from cayenne to paprika, red pepper flakes, sliced chiles, hot sauce. The goal here is to achieve a multilayered experience, and a small amount of heat from peppers can complement all the other flavor components.
    • Salt: Maybe this seems obvious, but it cannot be understated. Marinades need salt, at least 1 teaspoon for every 1 1/2 pounds of meat. Salt alternatives are soy sauce, fish sauce, smashed anchovies, and to a lesser degree, olives and capers.
    • Savory: This comprises the flavor notes you want to stand up and sing. Think spices, including rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. Savory can also include lemon zest, onions, garlic, ginger root and pureed fruit.
  • Marinade myth: You must marinade for a long time.
    • The diffusion of marinade into the meat is very slow.
    • Based on the measurement of penetration as a function of time on actual meat. Puncturing the meat helps penetration, but is also causes loss of moisture during cooking.
  • Marinade Myth: Marinades tenderize.
    • Letting meat sit for a day or so lets the meat age so that naturally occurring enzymes can break down the connective tissue. Marinades do not contain those enzymes.
    • As far back as pre-Columbian Mexico, cooks found that wrapping meats in papaya leaves before cooking made for more tender results. The active enzyme in the papaya leaves is papain, now refined from papayas and commercially available. Connective tissue that comes in direct contact with the protein-digesting enzymes gets broken down.
  • Marinade Fact: Short times coat the surface and fill the cracks (via capillary effect) immediately. One minute is nearly as good as 1 day.