Show of 8-10-2013

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Alice in Bethesda: Dear Doc Shurtz. I own a Sony Bravia TV Model KDL26M4000.  Bought around Jan 2009 when all went digital.  Reception is not the greatest because at times I get the purple screen of nothingness until I adjust the antenna yet again…I don’t subscribe to any pay for TV. Of course I have internet (FiOS). What are some options for getting a more Internet experience from the TV? At present the only channels that have anything of value are 26.1/20.2/32.1 and some shows on channel 9. Was reading am article in Consumer Reports page 45, 9/13 issue, titled.” Watch TV on your own terms” that speaks to a bunch streaming media players but I’ve also heard about Apple TV.  Probably you’re going to say I need a new TV…Thanks Much, Alice in Bethesda
  • Tech Talk Responds: To boost your reception with the antenna, I would suggest getting an antenna with an amplifier. As for getting Internet access. As for getting additional content, you will need to connect your TV to the Internet using Wi-Fi. Your model does not have native Wi-Fi, you will be need an Internet Connection. You could get a DVD player with Wi-Fi and then purchase a Netflix account and watch streaming movies for around $12 per month. You can access the Netflix account using the browser that is within the DVD Player using the DVD Remote. If you want more content, you could get the Google TV box ($106). It comes with Wi-Fi connection and Remote. Google TV will come pre-loaded with apps like Netflix, Twitter, CNBC, Pandora, Napster, NBA Game Time, Amazon Video On Demand and Gallery. Apple TV is similar, but I think that Google TV has better options. Both the Google TV and the Apple connect to the HDMI port in your computer.
  • Email from Arnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz, There are ways one can install filters in their computer to eliminate unwanted emails. Surely there has to be a way for Verizon to allow people to filter unwanted calls. We seem to get unwanted calls about the same time of day from “out of area” or “unavailable” shown on our phone when we pick up the receiver. We have Verizon land line (FIOS bundle with broadband, TV & phone) and we live on a farm a tenth of a mile from the road. Cell service connection is virtually void in the house, so we rely on our Verizon land line for routine calls.
  • I would think there is a way to tap the phone with the spam call and have it filtered from calling us again. Electronically isn’t this possible, or is Verizon being paid to do otherwise. Or are spammer lobbyists at work to influence government to allow spam phone calls? The “no call” list is a joke.   Great show that I enjoy listening to on Saturday mornings. Thanks, Arnie McKechine, Davidsonville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can register for the Do Not Call List. This should block some of the traffic. Web address: https://www.donotcall.gov/.  You can block specific numbers using the call blocking feature, but that only works for numbers that you know. There is no good way to do this with Verizon Fios.
  • I actually dropped my Landline with FIOS and ported the number over to Ooma, a voice over IP service. I paid around $200 for the box and now I pay only around $20 per year for the service, including free calling in the US and great rates overseas. It paid for itself in less than 4 months. Ooma has a blacklist of telemarketers. I activated this and my calls dropped immediately. I can manage this with the website and just add any other numbers that come through. I hardly get any telemarketing calls now.
  • Email from Long Time Listener: Dear Doc Shurtz, I moved from being a solely Winpc user to owner of an iMAC in 2013. Mostly satisfied, but, stuff occurs that I’m not clear why. For example, I could not find a weather.com app for the iMAC, so I found this above named alternative. Don’t like it as well, but it is free. Anyway, I went to use it a few day back and it didn’t entirely open. Its shell/outline opened without the content and the Apple multi-colored spinning flywheel appears and will not go away (for accessing this app). I don’t know who to resolve this, other than to reboot the iMAC.
  • Are there ways to avoid getting the Apple multi-colored spinning flywheel  Is there a better, more reliable, free weather app for the iMAC?  I just need USA weather. Still trying to master the nuances of my iMac machine…Thanks Doc. Alice who lives in the magical kingdom of digital addiction :  )
  • Tech Talk Responds: As far as the app that you have installed. I would uninstall it and then reinstall it to see if that fixes the issue. If it does not, get another app. Here are a few options.
  • Weather+ is a beautiful app that can give you the weather along with an animation of the current forecast, and you can throw it into full screen to get the forecast for the next 5 days along with a big clock. Price: $0.99
  • Weather HD Weather HD is similar to Weather+ in that it relies on animations and cool graphics to get your attention. I do, however, like this one more than Weather+ because the animations are just great. It allows you to have multiple cities in your configuration and it comes with a useful menu bar icon. A good option if you don’t mind the price. Price: $3.99
  • MachWeather is a free and very simple menu bar weather app that lets you check on the local temperature without having to go into any confusing menus. It just always sits there on your menu bar displaying the current conditions, such as the temperature and the cloud conditions, along with a small icon of the current weather. While it is a free app and it works very well.
  • MenuWeather is very similar to MachWeather in that it only runs in the menu bar. The Lite version of MenuWeather is free. It has beautiful themes that let you use different types of icons, and it displays all the necessary information on a very simple way. It’s a very simple and decent looking app, and it’s free! The paid version is $1.99.
  • Email from Kirk: Dear Dr. Shurtz – I have been a faithful listener for many, many years and don’t miss a single podcast, even if I happen to be out of town. I just returned from a vacation with cousins who took hundreds of photos with their high resolution digital cameras.  Most of the photos are 8-12 megabytes in size.  Multiply that by hundreds and hundreds of photos and you have quite a bit of storage memory eaten up. I realize that memory is cheap, but 99% of these photos will only be viewed on the monitor or on a  8×10 print, which require a lot less resolution. I have been searching for a JPG batch compression utility that would allow me to  select a group of photos (maybe hundreds) and choose a resolution or file size (say 1.5 MB), and then compress all of the photos into JPGs that size.  Even nicer would be a freeware version of the program.  Do you have any suggestions? Keep up the good work.  And, it’s nice to see that Stratford University is growing with leaps and bounds. Kirk in Fairfax, Virginia
  • Tech Talk Responds: Good news. There are many batch processing options.
  • Batch image processors usually come with some very standard functions: Resizing images, Scaling images, Converting to different image formats.
  • BIMP Lite (Win, free). BIMP Lite is a Windows-application which performs batch processing. The tool allows you to create thumbnail images, add a prefix/postfix (with meta variables such as image width, image height, sequential number etc.), rename using a sequential number, change the case of filenames, replace/remove spaces & underscores, flip or rotate images and also apply anti-aliasing, inverse, greyscale and bevel effects. An FTP-Manager is integrated as well.
  • Phatch (Mac, Windows, Linux, free). Phatch (which is a combination of the words photo and batch) is an open-source batch photo editor that can be used on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Phatch handles all popular image formats and can duplicate (sub)folder hierarchies. It can batch resize, rotate, apply shadows, perspective, rounded corners and perform 35 further actions automatically.
  • ResizeMe. ResizeMe is a batch image processor for Mac users. With scaling you can create thumbnails for your website, decrease the file size of your photos, or resize your images to fit a certain size. If your images are all in portrait-mode, but you need landscape or you want to add a new angle to your photos, ResizeMe offers rotation effects as well. You can also batch flip your images horizontally and vertically. The software gets the job done and does it well. You can download a free 10-day trial or purchase the software for $19.95.
  • Photo Drop (Mac). photo Drop is a powerful application for bulk resizing images on a Mac. Essentially, you create “droplets,” which are specific configurations for photo resizing. This is perfect for saving presets that you’ll need over and over again, such as for resizing screenshots down to a 500-pixel width to fit blog layouts. photo Drop is a free application and comes with almost every feature you’d ever need to quickly process a large amount of images.
  • Photoshop CS3 to Batch Convert Images. Adobe Photoshop is far and away the most popular image processor for designers, so some might prefer the option of using the native tools provided by Photoshop. Photoshop comes with many advanced features, and one of them is the ability to batch convert image files.
  • DBP – David’s Batch Processor (Linux, Mac OS X, Win) David’s Batch Processor is a Gimp plug-in that performs batch editing functions on images. Instead of having to download a separate program, Gimp users can simply call the plug-in from within Gimp. The user simply selects the images that he or she wants to resize and creates a quick ruleset that will process the images. However, the plug-in is only intended to resize RGB images, not indexed images. The plug-in is licensed under the open-source GPL license.

Profiles in IT: Fang Binxing

  • Fang Binxing is known as Father of China’s Great Fire Wall. He is a Member of the Communist Party.
  • Fang Binxing was born born July 1960 in Harbin, China.
  • Fang went to the Harbin Institute of Technology, where he earned a PhD in computer science and became a lecturer.
  • He was hired as Deputy Chief Engineer for the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team in 1999 and promoted to Director in 2000.
  • He oversaw the development of the filtering technology known as the Golden Shield, which came online in 2003.
  • Also known as  Great Chines Firewall, it sniffs out keywords, such as Tibet and the Dalai Lama, and can cut off an internet user’s connection if the searches continue.
  • It can also be used to locate Internet user who puts sensitive information online.
  • Great Firewall of China blocks the world’s most popular websites including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and WikiLeaks.
  • Fang oversaw internet censorship program until 2007.
  • After launching the Great Chinese Firewall, he was appointed President of the Beijing University of Post and Telecommunication. He continued his research on Internet censorship methods and technologies.
  • On December 2010, Fang joined a Twitter-like service in China known as a micro-blog or weibo. Within hours, he was battered by thousands of angry and abusive comments laced with expletives. Fang shut down his account a few days later. He reopened the blog a year later with comments blocked.
  • On 19 May 2011, Fang was hit on the chest by a shoe thrown at him by a student, while Fang was giving a lecture at Wuhan University.
  • This student became an instant Internet hero of the Chinese blogosphere.
  • Fang has six VPNs on his home computer, using them to “test which side wins: the GFW or the VPN.”
  • Fang has openly criticized foreign companies such as Google and Cisco for their connections with the US government.
  • He urged the central government to to screen for possible software back doors to protect the telecommunications infrastructure from sabotage and infiltration, before Snowden revealed that the US had staged such attacks.
  • April 26, 2012, Fang was detained by the police due to his suspected involvement in Bo Xilai’s wiretapping of phone calls to senior officials.
  • On June 27, 2013, he resigned as President of the Beijing University of Post and Telecommunication, citing health reasons. Many expressed hatred toward Fang.
  • Fang’s students at the university also spoke out against the harsh comments, saying that his contributions to education won’t be ignored.

David Burd Visits Studio

  • Transferring pictures from iPhone4S to iPhone5
    • Using Photo Stream and the iCloud
    • Treating iPhone as an external drive and transferring files using file manager.

Kurdistan Education Trip

  • Remarkably peaceful
  • Known as The Other Iraq
  • Not a single US soldier was killed in Kurdistan, Iraq
  • Economy is booming and education is a key ingredient for future success.

Washington Post To Sold to Jeff  Bezos

  • The Washington Post Co. agreed to sell its newspaper to Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos.
  • Bezos, whose entrepreneurship has made him one of the world’s richest men, will pay $250 million in cash for The Post and affiliated publications to The Washington Post Co., which owns the newspaper and other businesses.
  • His willingness to pursue a long-term vision was critical to the rise and persistence of Amazon.
  • Seattle-based Amazon will have no role in the purchase; Bezos himself will buy the news organization and become its sole owner when the sale is completed, probably within 60 days. The Post Co. will get a new, still undecided name and continue as a publicly traded company without the newspaper.
  • Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham and Post publisher Katharine Weymouth, his niece, broke the news.
  • For much of the past decade, The Post has been unable to escape the financial turmoil that has engulfed newspapers and other “legacy” media organizations.
  • Bezos, 49, will take the company private. He will be able to experiment with the paper without the pressure of showing an immediate return on any investment.
  • Bezos’s history of patient investment and long-term strategic thinking made him an attractive buyer to the current owners.

What Will Jeff Bezos Do With the Post?

  • Among the top predictions, Bezos will want to wean the venerable paper off its print edition; expand the Post’s real-time content for a Twitter generation; share Amazon’s near-unparalleled data on online buyers; and devise novel avenues to sell anything from books to smartphones to the Post’s half a million readers.
  • He did tell employees on Monday that they will have to “invent” and “experiment” as the Internet revolutionizes the news business.
  • Although Bezos, not Amazon, is buying the Post, it is widely expected that he will in some way ‘Amazon-ify’ the news business, bringing across strategies imprinted on the company he founded in a garage 19 years ago.
  • Bezos could emulate Netflix Inc CEO Reed Hastings, transforming a physical distribution network into a streaming service that adapts to customers’ choices. That means more real-time news delivered via PCs, tablets and phones.
  • One idea would be for the Post to offer news via a branded tablet, perhaps given away with a one-year subscription, much as phone companies subsidize handsets.
  • Amazon for a long time sold its Kindle e-readers at cost, effectively giving away a device through which buyers then access its online trove.
  • Perhaps Amazon’s greatest strength is its knowledge of customers built up through their buying history, which makes the company a very efficient marketer. That technology applied to the Post could make its advertising business much more valuable.
  • Bezos wrote in a letter to Post employees that he did not intend to get involved in day-to-day management of the paper.
  • “Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about – government, local leaders, restaurant openings, scout troops, businesses, charities, governors, sports – and working backwards from there,” wrote Bezos.
  • His purchase of the Post could be viewed as an extension of Amazon’s move towards content creation, most recently creating its own movies and TV series, which give the company a new way of engaging with customers.

Google’s Wi-Fi Balloon Project

  • Google’s latest unconventional project, balloon-borne Wi-Fi service, is being tested in the skies above California’s Central Valley.
  • Google has been conducting research flights over parts of California to fine tune what it called Project Loon.
  • That project is an effort by Google to bring Internet access to parts of the world where the necessary infrastructure, such as cell towers, is lacking.
  • Project Loon comes from the Google X lab, which is also responsible for self-driving cars and Google Glass eyewear.
  • Most recently, Google said Thursday, Project Loon flew over Fresno to test how well the Wi-Fi balloons relayed signals in busy city areas.
  • It turns out that providing Internet access to a busy city is hard because there are already many other radio signals around, and the balloons’ antennas pick up a lot of that extra noise.
  • In order for a signal to be transmitted in that kind of situation, Project Loon had to transmit multiple times, which decreased its bandwidth.
  • But two-thirds of the world’s population does not yet have Internet access. Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.
  • Project Loon balloons float in the stratosphere, twice as high as airplanes and the weather. They are carried around the Earth by winds and they can be steered by rising or descending to an altitude with winds moving in the desired direction. People connect to the balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building. The signal bounces from balloon to balloon, then to the global Internet back on Earth.
  • Project Loon started in June 2013 with an experimental pilot in New Zealand, where a small group of Project Loon engineers testes the technology in Christchurch and Canterbury. California was the second test site.