Show of 8-24-2013

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Ngoc in Ohio: Dear Tech Talk, I own an HP laptop. I’m currently using it with one external monitor and the laptop monitor. Can I add a second external monitor and have all three monitors working at the same time? The operating system is Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit with 8 GB of memory. I’ve done some searching without success. Thanks, Ngoc in Ohio.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Use your additional video outputs. The easiest approach is to see if the machine itself has additional video outputs. For example, you currently have your main screen and another monitor presumably plugged into an adapter that’s available on your laptop. If there’s another adapter available, then you should be able to plug in an additional monitor.
  • Try a USB-to-DVI video device. A very quick, easy, and inexpensive solution is to use a USB-to-DVI device. The only caveat is that the USB-to-DVI device works great if you are displaying static or slow-moving images, such as web pages, documents, or photos. It may lag with motion video or anything that’s heavily motion-oriented, like a game. The USB interface simply can’t transfer the data fast enough to keep up with things like that.
  • Use the display port or HDMI. Some laptops now include additional ports called “display ports.” Some laptops also have HDMI. That’s another alternative because it includes both video and audio. Quite often, you can use those in addition to whatever you’re using normally.
  • There is one more scenario that I want to describe. With your laptop, it might not be feasible, but it will work on some desktop machines. Some video cards can handle multiple monitors. If your desktop allows you to have several video cards plugged in, you can connect multiple monitors.
  • Email from Jim in Michigan: Dear Tech Talk.  My son only responds to text messages. He does not like to answer the phone. I have an old cell phone that cannot send text messages. Is there a way to send text messages from my computer? Thanks. Love the show. Jim in Michigan.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Jim, you can send text message from your computer to any cell phone. All you to know is the cell phone gateway and the phone number. Each carrier has a different gateway. The gateway takes for email and converts it to a text message, truncating the text message at 140 characters. The subject line is just part of the text message and is really not needed. Here are a few of the gateways for the major careers in the US
  • Email from Ted in Kansas: I am planning to do a clean install of my Windows operating system and will have to reinstall my applications. My problem is that I don’t have all of the serial numbers of my current software. How find and save them? I listen to the podcast each week. Thanks, Ted in Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: The good news is that all of the serial numbers are contained in your registry. Abelsoft has a program called MyKeyFinder that will collect your keys. You can print or save them to a file. This program is very easy to use and the output is displayed in an easy to read format. The program is free, but a shareware fee of 10 Euros is suggested. Here is the link: http://www.abelssoft.net/apps/mykeyfinder.
  • Email from Bernie in Manassas: Dear Tech Talk, I just bought a camera that allows me to take photographs in JPG or JPG plus RAW or just RAW! If I take a picture in RAW, the resulting picture is about 24 MB. When I save as JPG it is 8 MB. As a TIF, it is 45 MB. What format should I use? What does it have to do with resolution? Thanks, Bernie in Manassas
  • Tech Talk Responds: Pixels and resolution are independent of file formats. Pixels, resolution, height by width, color depth; that actually applies to pretty much all of the pictures. You can then store that information in different file formats.
  • RAW image file format. Each camera has its own raw output, the way that it natively stores the data. RAW is not a standardized format. You need to have special software to view or manipulate RAW data. This is the most accurate representation of the image data before any manipulation. I have a scuba diver friend to saves all of his images in RAW images and then performs color correction after the dive. He feels this is the best way to get quality underwater photos. But RAW is useless for sharing photos. For that you need a standardize file format.
  • JPEG image file format. The most common file format that you’ll find on the internet for photographs is JPEG (or JPG). JPEG is a standard. JPEG is that it is by definition a “lossy” file format. When you convert your original image (the .raw format) into a JPEG, some information will be lost.
  • This is why many photographers save all of their pictures as RAW so that they have everything possible, should I then want to go in and manipulate the image some more. JPEG loses something.
  • Many pros like to use Photoshop. They edit my images, crop them, adjust colors, then the result of that work in JPEG format. You will need the Adobe Camera plug-in to even read a RAW image.
  • TIF is not a good format for photos. It is not compressed and is usually larger than the original file. PNG is a lossless compression format that is becoming more popular. But JPG is still the best for sharing, since everyone has a viewer.
  • So if you are serious photographer, save in RAW and then covert to JPG for sharing. If you just want to share some snaps, save only in JPG. Then you will not have to do any further conversions.
  • Email from Alex: Dear Doc and Jim. Is there a better way to become a Linux expert other than getting a book? Thanks, Jim.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Getting a book is probably one of the worst ways. The best way is to get Linux; install it; start playing with it. That’s exactly what I do for any software. Whenever I encounter something interesting, or something new that I want to learn, I get it, I play with it, I figure it out. I do things with it and I just sort of learn by doing.
  • A book can be a good way to get an overview of things; but by far, by far, the best way to learn is to get your hands on it, start playing with it, and start doing. You’ll find yourself learning at an incredible pace.
  • The great news is that you can download Linux for free and start playing. You might want to download VMware so that you can run Linux as a virtual machine. You will also learn virtualization as a bonus.
  • Email from Leslie in Oakton: Dear Tech Talk. We just shifted our time by one hour because of Daylight Saving Time. I have two atomic clocks in the how that are supposed to automatically change time when we make this shift. One did and the other did not. What can I do to make them both work the same way? Love the show. Thanks, Leslie in Oakton
  • Tech Talk Responds: First of all Leslie, you do not have atomic clocks. Your clocks are connected to the Atomic Time Standard maintained by NIST. In the United States, the signals originate from NIST Radio Station WWVB, which is located near Fort Collins, Colorado. WWVB broadcasts on a frequency of 60 kHz. Your radio controlled clock actually has a miniature radio receiver inside, which is permanently tuned to receive the 60 kHz signal. Typically, you can only receive this signal at night when the signal bounces off of the ionosphere. If one of my clocks does not change time as expected, I place it in a window facing West. The next morning it is always set properly.
  • Email from Bernie in Waldorf, MD: Dear Doc. Why isn’t the time on my computer the same as that on my self-synchronizing watch? I thought all the clocks were synchronized to the same standard. Thanks, Bernie in Waldorf, MD.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Your watch is connected to the radio station in Fort Collins, Colorado. Let’s make certain that your computer is updating over the Internet to a tie standard, Right-click on the Clock. Click on Adjust time/date. There, in the resulting dialog box, there’s a tab for automatically updating the time. Make sure that’s configured; that it’s working; there’s no error message there. Pick a time service that works for you. You can test it and run it right there and make sure that it’s running properly. In most cases, that is on by default so your computer should in fact be setting the time correctly.
  • By default Windows is set for http://time.microsoft.com. If you wish, you can synchronize with the NIST time standard directly. A link to all of the time servers is: http://tf.nist.gov/tf-cgi/servers.cgi.

Profiles in IT: Eben Christoper Upton

  • Eben Christoper Upton is founder and trustee of the Raspberry Pi Foundation and creator of the low cost, credit card size, hacking computer designed to inspire the next generation of programmers.
  • He was born in 1978 in Leeds, England.
  • Upton received a BA in Physics and Engineering in 1999 from Univ.of Cambridge.
  • He completed Cambridge Diploma in Computer Science in 2001.
  • Upton received his PhD from in the University of Cambridge Computer Lab. in 2006.
  • He served as Director of Undergraduate Studies in Computer Science at St John’s College, Cambridge, while completing his PhD.
  • We handling undergraduate CS admissions, he came up with idea for a cheap, hobbyist computer.
  • The applicants were working on computers, but not with them. They had changed from active hackers, in his day, to passive consumers.
  • In the 1980s, he and his friends had learned basic computer science on a BBC Micro, available in most English schools. He felt the world needed a low cost equivalent.
  • Upton went ahead and built a prototype of a next-generation hobbyist machine, calling it Raspberry Pi, based on the tech tradition of naming computers after fruit.
  • But he didn’t see a way to produce Raspberry Pi, so he mothballed the project.
  • After finishing his PhD, Upton went to work at the Cambridge, U.K., office of Broadcom, a networking company based in Southern California.
  • As Technical Director and ASIC architect, Upton was instrumental in the creation of Broadcom’s first microprocessor intended for multimedia applications (BCM2835).
  • Released in 2011, the BCM2835 was a single chip that could fit in a phone that was powerful enough to include a CPU and graphics processor.
  • Upton realized that this processor could be used to jump start Raspberry Pi.
  • He and half a dozen volunteers worked on the new version on evenings and weekends. But the BCM2835 wasn’t easy to deal with: it was jammed with tiny components, including five power supplies.
  • To keep Raspberry Pi cheap, the team wanted to build it on a ­single circuit board
  • It appeared they would need to build a board with more than eight stacked layers of circuitry. The team eventually managed to shave the board design down to six layers.
  • The first prototypes were ready in December 2011, selling for around $25.
  • Raspberry Pi includes with five ports: HDMI, to hook the computer up to a television; USB, to hook it to multiple devices; Ethernet, for data; and analog TV and analog stereo. It boots from an SD card using the Fedora version of Linux.
  • When connected to a television and keyboard, it is capable of many desktop PC functions and also plays high-definition video.
  • Almost the instant the Raspberry Pi went on sale, orders crashed the website of its two vendors. The entire initial stock of 10,000 computers in minutes.
  • Upton is making more of the devices through a nonprofit Raspberry Pi Foundation.
  • He intends to sell two million devices a year in order to reach a critical mass.
  • Raspberry Pi Model B, with Ethernet and 512MB RAM, sells for $35.
  • Website: http://www.raspberrypi.org

Device of the Week: Raspberry Pi

  • The Raspberry Pi device is a credit–card sized computer board that plugs into a TV and a keyboard. It’s a miniature ARM–based PC which can be used for many of the things that a desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word–processing and games. It also plays High–Definition video.
  • Pricing
    • Model A: $25.00
    • Model B: $35.00 (with system of chip running Linux)
    • Model B with SIM: $40 (with 8GB SIM card installed
  • Accessories include
    • Case — $6.40
    • SD Flash Memory (4G) — $7.50
    • Power Supply — $8.00
    • USB Hub — $6.00
    • Keyboard — $23.00
    • Display — TV
  • Starter kits available for around $100, which include everything you need to start hacking or creating your own robot brain.
  • Website: www.raspberrypi.org. This site lists the two vendors that are currently offering the device and its accessories.
  • The MagPi is a community magazine produced by Raspberry Pi owners, and is now available in print as well as as a free download.
  • Members of the forum have been working on a Raspberry Pi wiki at eLinux. Web address: http://elinux.org/RaspberryPiBoard.

Justdelete.me can Help You Drop Online Accounts

  • We are spending too much time online.
  • Developer Robb Lewis and designer Ed Poole teamed up to create what may be an indispensable resource. It’s called Justdelete.me, and as the name sort of implies, it’s a directory of links to pages where you can lay waste to your myriad online accounts.
  • You’re a greeted with a sizable grid that points to you a slew of popular web services that you probably use.
  • More specifically, those links point you straight at the pages where you can deactivate all those accounts… or at least where you can try. Thankfully, Lewis has done the due diligence to figure out which services can be disconnected from painlessly and which ones require you to actually communicate with someone to get the job done.
  • A disconcerting number of sites and services fall into that latter category — of all the ones that Lewis has added, 10 won’t let you kill your account without first talking to a customer service rep, and 4 (Netflix, Steam, Starbucks, and WordPress) don’t seem to let you delete your accounts at all.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Retire

  • CEO Steve Ballmer will retire within 12 months, triggering a search for a successor to take over the software behemoth.
  • The announcement on Friday surprised analysts and investors and sent shares surging, reflecting belief that the company will benefit from new leadership.
  • The company needed a leader who could see through its reorganization and new strategy, according to Ballmer.
  • Ballmer, 57, who succeeded Bill Gates as CEO in 2000, will stay on until a successor is found.
  • Gates, who is now chairman of the board, will be part of a small committee tasked with finding the successor.
  •  It will be chaired by John Thompson, the board’s lead independent director, and consider internal and external candidates.
  • Devices chief Julie Larson-Green was tipped as the most obvious internal candidate but many analysts urged Microsoft to plump for an outsider to shake things up.
  • Ballmer first met Gates in 1973 when they shared a dormitory hall at Harvard University.
  • He joined the company in 1980 – the company’s 30th employee – after it landed a contract to supply an operating system to IBM and swiftly rose up the ranks.
  • Under Ballmer the company developed successful products like Windows XP and the Xbox 360. It grew to be worth $78bn and employ more than 100,000 people. It has more than a billion users and remains immensely profitable.
  • Over the past decade, however, its share price stagnated in contrast to Apple, Google and Amazon.
  • Once the world’s most valuable company, Microsoft lost more than half of its market value.
  • Critics accused Ballmer of failing to anticipate the explosive growth in tablets and smartphones and the decline of personal computers.
  • Some, though not all, were appeased by a 22% jump in share price this year after the company started developing and selling its own tablet-style computer.
  • Last month Ballmer announced a sweeping reorganization to focus more on hardware and make the company nimbler.
  • It appeared to mimic Apple by dividing itself into functions each dedicated to a single purpose such as operating systems, devices, apps or services.
  • Ballmer’s personal wealth is estimated at $15.2bn, which includes about 4% of Microsoft’s stock.
  • Born in Detroit, the son of a Ford motor company manager, he studied applied mathematics and economics at Harvard. He worked at Proctor & Gamble and later dropped out of Stanford’s graduate school of business to join Microsoft.
  • Ballmer made $1B when he announced his retirement, as stock prices soared.

Stratford Teaching Methods

  • Four learning styles (NT, SP, SJ, NF)
    • The “how” learner wants to “put together the bicycle, then read the manual.” Their Myers-Briggs temperament is SP.
    • The “what” learner wants to have very structured assignments and learning environment. Their Myers-Briggs temperament is SJ.
    • The “why” learner must know what is it important and how it will be used before learning it. Their Myers-Briggs temperament is NF.
    • The “if” learner learns the rules by asking “what if” the rule was not there. This type of learner excels in an unstructured project based environment. Their Myers-Briggs temperament is NT.
  • Three learning modes
    • Auditory learner learns my hearing the material.
    • Visual learner learns by seeing the material.
    • Haptic learner learns with hands-on projects.
  • Stratford teaches to all four learning styles and all three learning modes. That is why Stratford has such a high degree completion rate.