Show of 9-21-2013

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Arnie McKechnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz, You comment about education in last Saturday’s Tech Talk was right on. I think Einstein said it a little differently:  “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.” A friend of ours who has children 12, 7 & 4 told me that spelling, grammar and cursive writing are no longer taught at their schools in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Seems the feeling is that Word with spell-check & grammar check will take care of spelling and grammar, and cursive is out because of computers as well (until the kid is old enough to write and sign a check). I hope that is not the same sediment at Stratford University.
  • As a suggestion, Ray Dolby, who died recently, would be an interesting person to spotlight on Tech Talk. He changed the way we listen to music. My question for Tech Talk this week would be: does it really make a difference if one has a HDMI 2.0 cable versus a 1.2 or earlier model cable? Fortunately, it doesn’t look like there will be a change in the connection.  Really enjoy your show.  Arnie McKechnie, Davidsonville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: Each new version of HDMI has a faster data rate to support hirer resolution. The main problem with any cable system is attenuation at higher frequencies. If the cable is short (less than 5 meters) and uses the same connection, an older cable will work. The newer standards have defined some new connector configurations, which are smaller, for automotive and mobile devices.
  • Email from Robert Taylor in Amarillo; Hi Doc! I haven’t written in a while but I still thoroughly enjoy your show. I am glad to see you are still on the radio, you have taught me a lot over the last several years.  Thanks!  I see David Byrd is still drinking the Apple Kool-Aid and while I still love my Windows phone I can no longer take the battery out.  It is a Nokia Lumia 928 and it is a fantastic phone, Jim Russ should try one out before he is forever doomed to use an IPhone. 
  • I do have a question; I am getting my mother an android Galaxy Note 3 due to the larger screen size.  She has several things on her calendar that she would like to see and sync on her Galaxy Note 3 when it is gets it.  She has Windows 7 on her desktop computer with outlook 2003.  Is there a way to sync the two calendars?  I sync mine from work but we use Microsoft exchange which she will not have access too.  From doing some research on the internet I think it is possible, but I can’t quite figure it out.  She does have a Microsoft Live account and an email account from outlook.com.
  • PS: Thanks for any information and keep the information rolling! Chief Robert Taylor from the Amarillo Texas Police Department
  • Tech Talk Responds: First, you’ll need to install Google Calendar Sync, which automatically syncs your Outlook calendar entries with your Google Calendar account. This software allows you to sync calendar entries either one-way (from Outlook to Google or vice versa) or both ways (any changes made in either program will be reflected in both applications). On your Samsung Galaxy S III, go to Settings > Accounts & Sync > Add account > Google, then enter your details. When it’s done, make sure that you check the “Sync calendar” option.
  • Email from Kevin in Alexandria: Dear Doc and Jim, I have a router which connects to both my desktop PC and several wireless devices: a tablet, a laptop, and so forth. Whenever I turn on the desktop, my laptops, and my tablets, the internet almost stops working. When the laptop and the tablet are on alone, the Internet runs fine. How do I fix this? Thanks, Kevin
  • Tech Talk Responds: This sounds like your desktop computer is simply hogging all of your internet bandwidth. There are several reasons why this could be happening. The desktop computer may be trying to upload or download something (probably a very large file or maybe several things). My son’s did this when he was downloading music using peer-to-peer software like Kazaa, BitTorrent, or Limewire. In doing so, it’s taking up all of the available internet speed that your ISP is giving you.
  • This could be temporary. For example, if the desktop is downloading updates, then the speed should return to normal after the download is complete.
  • It could also be malware. Malicious software on that desktop could be trying to upload and download constantly to the exclusion of everything else.
  • I would check the process monitor on your Windows 7 machine to see what is going on. You can download Process Monitor from Microsoft. It is part of the SysInternals suite of tools.
  • Email from Feroze in Fredericksburg: Dear Tech Talk, I have a Nikon digital SLR camera and would like to get right memory card. The slow ones are very cheap. The fastest are quite expensive. How do I make the correct choice? Thanks, Feroze in Fredericksburg
  • Tech Talk Responds: All memory cards have both size and speed specifications. The faster the card the more expensive. Memory prices are dropping fast and both speed and size grow each year. There are four common speed classes.
    • Class 2 (2 MB/s for SD video)
    • Class 4 (MB/s for some video, stills
    • Class 6 (6 MB/s for HD video, HD stills)
    • Class 10 (10 MB/s 1080p HD video, burst shooting mode)
    • UHS 1 (50 MB/s for real-time broadcasts and large HD video files)
  • The speed you need depends on your applications. Since both Class 2 and 4 are very cheap. I would never buy a Class 2. Given the falling prices and the fact that your camera supports HD video and burst mode, I would only get a Class 10 memory card.
  • Email from Amber from Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk, I am confused about all of the browsers that are available. What is the difference and what do you recommend? Thanks, Amber from Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: Actually, I have five browsers on my computer (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari). I look at the Stratford website with all of them to check for problems. Chrome by Google has gotten the best reviews in terms of speed and security. A close second in Firefox. In recent years, Microsoft has made great strides with IE. It is now third in terms on speed and security. Opera is next and Safari is last because of speed.
  • IE has over 50% of the installed base. Firefox and Chrome have around 16%. Safari is fourth is around 12%. IE market share is holding. Look for this to shift the move to mobile continues with Android and Apple dominating.

Profiles in IT: Marc Russell Benioff

  • Marc Russell Benioff is the founder, chairman and CEO of salesforce.com, a cloud computing company.
  • Mark Russell Benioff was born September 25, 1964
  • Benioff was raised in a Jewish family in the San Francisco metropolitan area.
  • While in high school, he cleaned cases at Kerns Fine Jewelry in Burlingame, CA.
  • One day I walked across the street to Radio Shack and saw a TRS-80 Model One. It was about $400. It was the first computer he had ever seen.
  • At 14 he spent hours at RadioShack teaching himself how to use the computer.
  • He loved CB radios and had a side job fixing people’s CB radios.  He was only 15. His grandmother matched his earnings so he could afford the TRS-80.
  • He bought it and wrote his first piece of software, called “How To Juggle.” He sold it for $75 to CLOAD Magazine in Goleta, Calif.
  • He founded Liberty Software and designed Atari computer games with names like Crypt of the Undead and Escape from Vulcan’s Island, which paid for college.
  • He graduated from Burlingame High School in 1982.
  • While in college, Benioff worked as an assembly language programmer at Apple.
  • Benioff received a BSBA from the University of Southern California in 1986.
  • The day after graduating from the University of Southern California he started at Oracle, where he took orders coming in through the 800 number.
  • Benioff was a star salesman and rose quickly to become one of Larry Ellison’s favorites. At 23, he was the company’s Rookie of the Year.
  • Three years later he was promoted to VP, making $300K a year. He drove a Ferrari.
  • For all the rapid success, Benioff didn’t feel fulfilled. By 31, he was rich, powerful, and lost. With Ellison’s blessing, Benioff took a six-month sabbatical and traveled to Hawaii and India, which spurred his interest in yoga and Eastern religions.
  • The idea for Salesforce came in the fall of 1998, while Benioff was still at Oracle.
  • Ellison encouraged Benioff to start a company to implement it. He gave Benioff time off, invested $2 million, and agreed to sit on the Salesforce.com board.
  • Benioff started salesforce.com in March 1999 in a rented San Francisco apartment and defined its mission as The End of Software.
  • He is “credited with turning the software industry on its head” by using the Internet to “revamp the way software programs are designed and distributed.”
  • He is the creator of the term “platform as a service” and allowed customers to build their own applications on the company’s cloud.
  • He is the author of three books, including the national best seller Behind the Cloud.
  • Benioff pioneered the 1/1/1 Philanthropic model, by which companies contribute 1 percent of profits, 1 percent of equity, and 1 percent of employee hours.

Apple’s New iPhones Draw Record Crowds

  • Two new iPhone went on sale this week: iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. The C is a lower price version (with plastic case) that comes in five colors. The S is the standard version (with a metal case) that comes in three colors (White, Black, and Gold). The S version has a 64-bit processor, a significantly improved camera and fingerprint detection for unlocking phone.
  • According to a tally by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, the lines in three major cities (including New York and San Francisco) matched, or were up slightly from last year.
  • Piper’s Munster was one of the first out the gate earlier this week, suggesting Apple was on track to meet or surpass last year’s 5 million unit sales in the opening weekend, going all the way up to 6 million.
  • That was followed by similar estimates from RBC Capital Markets and Barclays Capital which both eyed 6 million as the number to beat.
  • Yet supply has proven to be short on at least some of Apple’s high-end phones. The new gold iPhone 5S in particular sold out online within minutes in multiple countries, including the US where the ship date slipped to 7 to 10 days within 10 minutes, before lapsing into a nebulous “October.”
  • All of Apple’s 5S models, on all carriers began to slip into that 7 to 10 day time frame, whereas the 5C can still be found readily both in stores, and online with just a day or two of waiting.

Sleep Hacking the New iPhone 5S

  • The iPhone 5s’s Touch ID fingerprint security system can be unlocked with your finger even if you’re asleep.
  • As long as someone knows what finger[s] you’ve registered with Touch ID, they can pick your phone up off the nightstand, press it against your sleeping finger, and voilà, the phone unlocks. This is Sleep Hacking
  • That means a jealous lover could hold your phone to your thumb while you slumber and read all your texts, call logs, emails, and more.
  • Apple confirms that a dead thumb won’t work. Chloroforming the victim might, but international spies will have no luck cutting off a Prime Minister’s thumb to access their secure files / selfies.
  • Apple also doesn’t send a copy of fingerprints back to its servers, and instead stores them in a “secure enclave” in its A7 processor designed to be inaccessible by hackers or other apps.
  • You could wake up from a night of drinking to find your fraternity brothers messaged all your exes and creatively rewrote your Facebook profile. Yet the biggest threat is likely that of misuse by significant others.

KVM Device Used to Steal from London Banks

  • On September 20, 2013, the U.K.’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) announced that eight men, between the ages of 24 and 47, were arrested for their alleged roles in the stealing money using a device that had been connected to the banks computer network.
  • The men fit bank computers with a keyboard video mouse (KVM) device in order to give themselves remote access to customer accounts. While police stopped the attack on the London Santander branch from being carried out, arresting 12 men and charging four of them with conspiracy to steal, £1.3 million was siphoned from the Barclays location in North London.
  • At both banks, staff allowed a man, posing as an IT engineer, access to bank computers. Instead of working on the machines, the individual allegedly connected a KVM device to computers. At Barclays, criminals were able to carry through with their plans and remotely transfer money to accounts they’d designated ahead of time.
  • Once installed, a KVM device can give saboteurs access to multiple computers in the organization’s network – in this case, to monitor accounts, move money or do any manner of malicious activities.
  • According to a Friday release from MPS, the eight men arrested for their alleged connection with the Barclays heist are still in custody of London police.

US Atomic Bomb Mishap over North Carolina

  • A secret document, published in declassified form for the first time by the Guardian today, reveals that the US Air Force came dramatically close to detonating an atom bomb over North Carolina that would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that devastated Hiroshima.
  • The document, obtained by the investigative journalist Eric Schlosser under the Freedom of Information Act, gives the first conclusive evidence that the US was narrowly spared a disaster of monumental proportions when two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on 23 January 1961.
  • The bombs fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented the explosion.
  • Each bomb carried a payload of 4 megatons – the equivalent of 4 million tons of TNT explosive. Had the device detonated, lethal fallout could have been deposited over Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and as far north as New York City – putting millions of lives at risk.
  • In the newly-published document, a senior engineer in the Sandia national laboratories responsible for the mechanical safety of nuclear weapons concludes that one simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe.
  • Writing eight years after the accident, Parker F Jones found that the bombs that dropped over North Carolina, just three days after John F Kennedy made his inaugural address as president, were inadequate in their safety controls and that the final switch that prevented disaster could easily have been shorted by an electrical jolt, leading to a nuclear burst. “
  • The accident happened when a B-52 bomber got into trouble, having embarked from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in Goldsboro for a routine flight along the East Coast. As it went into a tailspin, the hydrogen bombs it was carrying became separated. One fell into a field near Faro, North Carolina, its parachute draped in the branches of a tree; the other plummeted into a meadow off Big Daddy’s Road.
  • Jones found that of the four safety mechanisms in the Faro bomb, designed to prevent unintended detonation, three failed to operate properly. When the bomb hit the ground, a firing signal was sent to the nuclear core of the device, and it was only that final, highly vulnerable switch that averted calamity.