Show of 10-12-2013

Tech Talk

October 12, 2013

Email and Forum Questions

  • Dear Doc, Thank you for your help on blocking pop ups.  The Hosts file from mvps.org did the trick. I also installed the Google RSS Reader on Chrome and it works well. As to the comments about Weirsdale Florida,  it sounded “weird” to me as well about ten years ago.I felt compelled to let you know that after 30 years in the military as a pilot, and another twelve years living near Ann Arbor, MI where I earned my doctorate and taught at the Big M University, I began looking for a retirement home away from traffic congestion and too many people.
  • We found a six acre plot of land next to a private airport where I can enjoy my love of flying, with little to no automobile traffic. BTW, Weirsdale is named after the 9600 acre Lake Weir with its fresh water and was once home to Gator Joe, a 15 ft. 7 in. alligator that lived on Lake Weir in the early 1900s. Thank again for you excellent Tech Show. Dick Mondro, USAF RETIRED
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the feedback. I love to hear about successful advice.
  • Email from Steve in Potomac: Dear Doc and Jim, Your practical advice to deal with PC problems is so helpful! I I am already excited about your show in a couple of hours. Can you suggest a way to get rid of pop up ads that litter my PC and have made it slow.Thanks, Your Loyal Listener, Steve from Potomac, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: Steve, I covered this in detail last week. Go to www.techtalkonline.com and choose the show for October 5, 2013. You can set up the popup blocking in the browser or install a hosts file that blocks the hosts that the popping up. Finally, you an uninstall extensions that could be problematic. More details last week.
  • Email from Mary: Dear Tech Talk. 1 work as a tech writer at a transportation firm in DC Metro. To my amazement I am still with WinXP. This makes life challenging. My current issue is I’d like to know if there is a spell checker available for AA XI Pro?  Either built in or downloadable add-on. I use AA XI a lot and I’ve not, as yet, found this. I did find one via a Google search but it was for a MAC not WIN system. Thanks, Mary
  • Tech Talk Responds: There is a built-in spell checker, but it only checks the comments, not the underlying PDF. I found a script that will run on a Windows PC, but the developer is charging $85 and I have not tested it. Here is the link http://try67.blogspot.com/search/label/Spell-check.
  • You can also get a pdf extension for Word or LibreOffice or OpenOffie and spell check in those programs. Not quite as convenient, but cheaper.
  • Email from Sophia in Woodbridge: Dear Tech Talk, I just go a new iPad and want to prepare MS Office documents on it. What are my options? Thanks, love the show.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You have several options for programs that are similar (but not as rich) as MS Office. Their documents can be stored in the cloud using Dropbox. I have both DocsToGo and QuickOffice on my iPad. They each cost about $10. You can also use the Apple versions (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote). Each of these programs is around $10, so the apple option is more expensive. I have all of them and probably use Pages and Keynote the most often.
  • If you want to have the “real” MS Office running on your iPad, you will have to use a thin client program. They run MS Office of remote servers and simply send display information to your iPad. I have two thin clients (OnLive Desktop and CloudOn). Both operate using the Freemium model. I prefer OnLive Desktop because I like the interface more. If you end up using either one regularly, you will probably pay a subscription of $5 to $10 per month, for storage and faster response time.
  • Email from Hac in Bowie: Dear Tech Talk, I posted a wall post on my friend’s timeline. I noticed I made a few spelling errors and wanted it deleted/removed. When I clicked the Remove button on the right upper corner of the wallpost, the only option it gives me is “None”. It literally just says none. I tried everything. And anytime someone would like the post, it would direct me to “Sorry, this page isn’t available.” It’s strange. But the wall post is still up. I want it deleted. But when someone posts on my wall, it gives me the option to delete THAT wall post. Is it a glitch? Or did Facebook create a new update? And note this has been going on for a while. Love the show, Hac in Bowie
  • Tech Talk: You cannot edit your friend’s page. The only way that this can be removed is by the owner of the page. He or she can easily delete. Simply email them and make that request. In the future, proof-read your posts before hitting send. The good news is that you can edit your own page. If you don’t like a post you can simply delete and post it again.
  • Email from Heather: Dear Tech Talk. I have two websites and am worried about them getting infected. What should I do? Both sites are just HTML and are uploaded using FTP. Thanks, Heather
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you have a static website (meaning it’s just .html) that you’ve uploaded via FTP, the most important thing is to choose a good password and keep it secure. If a hacker can get your password, they could simply ftping in and change your files.
  • However, that is not the most common hack. The granddaddy of hacks is SQL injection. SQL (for Structured Query Language) is a database programming language. Many sites are SQL driven, particularly e-commerce sites and almost all blogs.
  • This query language is powerful and can manipulate or display any data. You just have to activate it with a web inquiry.
  • Suppose they the website, is asking for your name. Instead of your name, you insert an SQL command. If the website does not scrub user inputs properly, this command may get executed.
  • If you’re writing web pages that use SQL, you must learn the term “input sanitization.”
  • Content Management Systems (CMS), like WordPress, which are SQL-based, have had to seriously harden themselves over time to these types of attacks.
  • There have been bugs in them that allow SQL-injection to occur on purely content sites. If you’re using a CMS – any CMS – keep it up to date.
  • The single biggest reason for website hacks these days are web owners not updating their CMS.
  • One final note, back up your site daily. If you get hacked, you can simply restore to the last known time that the site was clean.
  • Email from Jim in Kansas: Dear Doc and Jim, I’ve contracted for 100 mbs from my ISP. The maximum speed that I can get, however, is about 30 megabits per second through WiFi. When I connect to the router via a LAN cable or I have the laptop right next to the router, I get 80 megabits per second, which is close enough for me. Thanks, Jim in Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: 100 megabits is actually faster than most of the WiFi standards. The earliest popular WiFi standard (802.11b) is actually only capable of transmitting 11 megabits per second. The more recent standard (802.11g) is at 54 megabits per second at maximum. Now 802.11n can supposedly operate up to 600 megabits per second, but as you say, signal strength matters. All of those highest speeds are often attained only in close range and with a very strong signal and good antenna. Moreover, if you have mixed devices on the wireless network (b or g), the entire network slows to match those devices.
  • Your wired connection is what you really want to be using whenever you are measuring your internet speed. Your actual wireless speed is the limiting factor.
  • When I want to check my Internet speed, I like to use www.broadbandreports.com. Go to Tools and select the speed test you want. Always choose a server as close to you as possible.
  • Email from Craig in Oakton: Dear Tech Talk. The other day, we were looking at a website and were hit with the System Progressive Protection virus. We never even clicked on a link! We shut the machine down, and I went on the internet and found what seemed to be a reasonable site describing how to get rid of it. After many steps, I think I did. How did this virus get through the firewall and Microsoft Security Essentials?  Thank, Craig
  • Tech Talk Responds: Firewalls only protect you from internet-initiated connections – the kind that other computers out on the internet try to make to yours. That protection’s important. Some malware constantly tries to connect to random IP addresses on the internet. Once connected, the malware attempts to exploit vulnerabilities. A firewall prevents that connection from happening.
  • What happened to you wasn’t that kind of malware. You actually made a request for a web page and when that request was honored, you firewall let the packet through.
  • It could be a web page, something that that web page references (i.e. an image), or an email attachment that you then download and run. All these things are initiated by your computer as an outgoing request of some server out on the internet.
  • What anti-malware tools like Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) usually do is try to scan things as they download. This is called “real-time scanning.” Make certain that “real-time scanning” was enabled.
  • It could have slipped through because the malware was very recent and an upgrade to detect it has not been released. Make certain to update you MSE frequently.
  • Many people get infected because they are visiting sites that are nests of malware just waiting to be downloaded and run. Surprisingly, people do download and run these programs and then they’re shocked when they get infected. Be mindful of the sites you visit.
  • Finally, it is always a good idea to back up your data.  If your drive is truly infected, it may be easier to simply restore it.


    Profiles in IT: Paul Gardner Allen

  • Paul Gardner Allen is best known as the co-founder, with Bill Gates, of Microsoft.
  • Paul Allen was born on January 21, 1953 in Seattle, Washington.
  • While attending the Lakeside School outside Seattle, 14-year-old Paul Allen met 12-year-old Bill Gates, a fellow student and computer enthusiast.
  • They used Lakeside’s Teletype terminal to develop their programming skills.
  • After earning a perfect score of 1600 on the SAT, Allen went to Washington State but dropped out after two years to work as a programmer for Honeywell in Boston.
  • Allen later convinced Gates to drop out of Harvard in order to create Microsoft.
  • Allen Co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1975, and began marketing a BASIC programming language interpreter.
  • Allen came up with the original name of “Micro-Soft,” as recounted Fortune.
  • In 1980, they promised to deliver IBM a Disk Operating System (DOS) they had not yet developed for the Intel 8088-based IBM PC.
  • Allen arranged for MS to buy an operating system called Q-DOS for $50,000 from Seattle Computer Products. It had been written b Tim Paterson.
  • Gates and Allen reinvented Q-DOS as MS-DOS and installed it as the operating system for IBM’ PC offering, which dominated the market after its release in 1981.
  • Allen was known as the “idea man” and Gates as the “man of action.”
  • Allen was diagnosed and cured of with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1982.
  • He did not return to Microsoft and began distancing himself from the company.
  • As Microsoft grew and its stock steadily rose, Allen’s share in the company he co-founded made him a billionaire at just over 30 years of age.
  • Allen resigned from MS Board of Directors in 2000, continued to consult.
  • Allen began to concentrate on other projects, hoping to find the next big idea.
  • In 1986, he founded Vulcan Ventures in order to research possible investments
  • In 1992, he founded a Silicon Valley think tank in 1992 called Interval Research.
  • Through Interval Research and Vulcan Ventures, Allen began to put his long-term dream of a wired world society in which virtually everyone is online.
  • From 1994 to 1998, Allen built an infrastructure of well over 30 different companies in pursuit of his “wired world” strategy.
  • Paul Allen holds 43 patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  • In 2007 and 2008, Allen was listed among Time’s 100 Most Influential People.
  • Allen also owns two professional sports teams, the Seattle Seahawks of NFL and the Portland Trail Blazers of NBA. He is part-owner in Seattle Sounders of MLS.
  • A report in February, 2012, named Allen as the most charitable living American in 2011. Allen’s donations, totaling $372.6 million.
  • Allen’s memoir Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft was released on April 19, 2011.

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

  • This year’s Grace Hopper Celebration was held in Minneapolis, October 2-5.
  • This was the largest event in history, with over 4,500 women in attendance.
  • The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is a series of conferences designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront.
  • The Grace Hopper Celebration is presented by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and the Association for Computing Machinery.
  • In 1994, Anita Borg and Telle Whitney founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.
  • With the initial idea of creating a conference by and for women computer scientists, Borg and Whitney met over dinner, with a blank sheet of paper, having no idea how to start a conference, and started to plan out their vision.
  • The first Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing was held in Washington, D.C., in June 1994, and brought together 500 technical women.
  • Ten conferences have been held from 1994 to the present.
  • The conference is named after Grace Murray Hopper, who was a computer scientist and US Navy Rear Admiral.
  • She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language.
  • She conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL.
  • She is credited with popularizing the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches (inspired by an actual moth removed from the computer).

Giant Fox News Touchscreens Are Running Windows 8

  • Fox News released a video detailing a new set that includes a number of analysts sitting in front of giant touch screens. The screens measure 55 in and run Windows 8.
  • Microsoft’s PPI display technology comes from its acquisition of Perceptive Pixel in July 2012.
  • Microsoft, through that acquisition, is now an OEM of some of the largest touchscreens in the world; PPI displays also come in an 80-inch variant.
  • According to Shep Smith, Fox News can toss the images of any of the displays on air when they wish.
  • According to MS, the multitouch slate screens cost around $7,000 for the 55-inch model.

European Cloud Users May Avoid US Cloud

  • European Union policy makers were skeptical about the safety of their corporations’ data in the public cloud, and the existence of PRISM has made the paranoid.
  • Lawmakers in the E.U. are attaching broad amendments to a 2012 set of digital privacy regulations that could, if enacted, severely curtail and even outright block EU businesses and private citizens from using US-based cloud services.
  • There are several proposed amendments to the privacy regulations, including prohibiting the transfer of E.U. corporate data to U.S.-based clouds altogether.
  • New proposed regulations would also sanction European companies that ignored these rules and used U.S. services anyway.
  • Up until now, the US and the EU have managed to establish a fairly one-sided arrangement in the handling of EU corporate data.
  • Safe harbor rules have essentially let US companies promise to abide by EU privacy rules, though without much oversight.
  • The actions taken by U.S. intelligence services, however, threaten to completely unravel that relationship.
  • EU technology vendors are also pushing to have more cloud availability from native sources.
  • US vendors and policy makers are alarmed by the notion of the EU going it their own way, because that is a big drop in revenue.
  • But it may already be too late to stem the tide.

Bitcoin users turn on FBI after Silk Road seizure

  • Bitcoin users retaliating after the FBI seized their digital currency as part of its case against underground marketplace Silk Road.
  • Last week, the FBI took down the Silk Road website and froze the over 26,000 Bitcoins that were being held for customers as they made their transactions.
  • The FBI put these Bitcoins into a separate holding address blockchain.info.
  • Angered by this action, supporters discovered the FBI’s wallet details — the information necessary for performing transactions and sending public messages.
  • People began posting their protests and making very small transactions with the seized Bitcoins.
  • Some exclaimed that the government wouldn’t be able to do this if the currency were recognized, others talked about the Bitcoins’ true ownership: the people.
  • Silk Road was an underground online marketplace that many people used for drug-related and other illegal activities.
  • The site’s alleged owner Ross Ulbricht was arrested last week with charges for drug trafficking, computer hacking conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and for allegedly hiring a hit man to kill an employee. T
  • Silk Road used both the Tor network and Bitcoin as a way to keep transactions anonymous. The digital currency’s value took a steep dive after the news hit.
  • Bitcoin’s appeal lies in being anonymous, untraceable, and unregulated. These attributes give the virtual currency appeal to a broad spectrum of speculators and investors, entrepreneurs, and the criminal underworld — including drug traffickers, terrorists, and anyone wanting to circumvent currency or tax regulations.
  • •The coins can be “mined,” or discovered, for free using computers and math.
  • •Because Bitcoin does not rely on centralized authorities for administration, it appeals, philosophically, to a certain segment of society.
  • Bitcoin represents the spirit of libertarianism – free, unfettered, and uncontrolled. The same attributes that make Bitcoin attractive to those with anti-government philosophies also make it a perfect currency for illegal transactions.
  • Untraceable, untrackable, and without physical existence, Bitcoin is the ideal means to buy drugs, move illegal cash across borders, fund terrorism without government interference.

Why the NSA loves Google’s Chromebook

  • Intel and Google are announcing an upcoming group of new Google Chromebooks based on Intel’s Haswell architecture processors.
  • The idea of a cloud-tethered notebook that can keep its owner connected over Wi-Fi and broadband all day long is going to be awfully appealing to many.
  • And without a doubt, no one will be happier than the National Security Agency (NSA) and law enforcement.
  • Google has moved into the education market with Google Apps and the low-cost Chromebook for the classroom.
  • And Chromebooks are designed to allow users to create a lot more information on the device than they might on a tablet.
  •  The new Haswell systems will undoubtedly take many of those advantages and run with them.
  • Google has taken many steps forward in easing businesses’ concerns over the security of Google Apps over the past few years.
  • But the revelations about the NSA and FBI’s PRISM program have added new doubts, particularly outside the US, about the wisdom of putting everything in Google’s cloud.
  • Furthermore, the Chromebook give those with network monitoring capabilities a way to pinpoint the location of a 4G wireless connection thanks to Verizon.
  • Google has addressed some of the security issues around the Chromebook and Google Apps model with its two-factor authentication.
  • But until Google can protect its users’ data (physically and legally) at the same level that users can protect themselves by keeping their data encrypted in their own offices and homes, the Chromebook is going to be very popular at Fort Meade.

Elon Musk 3-D Prints It Rocket Part

  • Elon Must use hand gestures to design a rocket part and then printed it.
  • CEO & CTO of SpaceX and CEO & Chief Product Architect of Tesla Motors.
  • Musk combined technologies, including Leap Motion’s 3-D gesture-control sensor to design a rocket part with free-standing projection.
  • No computer screens. No keyboards.
  • When he was done with the design, he 3-D printed the part in titanium.
  • The 3-D printer placed titanium power at the appropriate location.
  • A laser then melted it into a smooth metal surface.
  • The entire part was built up layer-by-layer.
  • Watching the YouTube video of this was very interesting.
  • Link: http://m.entrepreneur.com/article/228227
    • Point of view
  • Faculty inspire, students teach themselves (Sugata Mitra)
  • The true value of education is what you know after you have forgotten all you memorized.