Show of 11-30-2013

Tech Talk

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Replaying segments from previous shows.

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Tom Laird from LinkedIn: Hi Dr. Shurtz, I’m a long-time listener and lover of your Tech Talk “classroom on the internet radio show:)” Discovered it on Fed News Radio Online several years back (maybe 2007?) and have really appreciated it ever since. It’s cool. But please *please* explain to Jim & David why LI is the best platform for B2B — and FB and Pinterest for B2C, OK? (Don’t they get that?!?:) Also, what *is* the name of David’s walk-in “theme song” again? (Do tell.) Keep it up with your great (and always informative) Tech Talk shows. I kept pretty busy these days with my visual content/infographics and mobile marketing business, so I don’t often listen to you live these days — but the recordings I catch up on are always excellent. Keep delivering that worthwhile content. And thanks for joining my LI network! Sincerely, Tom Laird
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for great feedback. I love to use LinkedIn for business and have many contacts. It is strictly business and a great tool for hiring or looking for a job. Written endorsements are very useful to highlight your accomplishments.
  • Email form Lauren in Bethesda: Dear Dr. Shurtz,   I have Verizon FiOS internet ONLY (no TV or phone through them). My Internet connection was not working and they replaced my Router. The Verizon instructions ask my to put in the Verizon CD to configure my system.  I have an iMac and no CD Drive. Is there a way I can get the router working without using the Verizon software/CD? Sure hope so.  Do you believe this new router will solve this issue?  Help is most appreciated DOC. Best, Lauren
  • Tech Talk Responds: If the problem was hardware related and not your fiber connection, this should fix it. You don’t need to use the CD to configure you computer. In fact, your computer as configured should work with the new router right out of the box. The only thing new will be the Wi-Fi password and the admin password. They should be on the label in the back of your router. Your computer will be configured to get its IP address and gateway from the router automatically. Any wireless devices will be required to use the new Wi-Fi password. If you laptop is wireless you will have to enter the new password when asked.
  • Email from Margaret: Doc Shurtz,   Thanks for continuing to provide your audience with content worth hearing and coming back to weekly! I don’t get what I am doing to find that my homepage has been Change to Yahoo search when I had it set to Google advanced search. What is it that I’ve done, or, what can I do to fix my iMac that was bought Jan. 2013 — so it is ‘hardwired’ to stay w/ my chosen home page! Also, why do I periodically get a colored spinning wheel –What is that…– on the iMac and have to restart the computer? Thanks.  Margaret, who has not mastered the iMac b/c I use a PC for work.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You browser homepage has been high jacked. It could have happened when you downloaded some new software or installed a toolbar. If you have a Yahoo! add-on, it may reset these to Yahoo! every time you restart your browser, so the first step is to check for that and remove or disable it.  I would also scan for spyware.
  • Email from Jim in Maryland: Dear Tech Talk. You made a mistake last week. You can delete you own comment in someone else’s page. Love the show, Jim in Maryland.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks Jim. You are correct. There is a small symbol (v) in the upper right hand corner of the post. If you highlight that symbol, a drop down menu will appear. You can either edit or delete the post which you made on someone else’s Facebook page. This works for both the mobile version and the desktop version of Facebook.
  • Email from Ron in McLean: Dear Dr. Shurtz,  As a long-time weekly listener from all the way back in your WJFK  days and as an admirer of both your technical / scientific knowledge  and entrepreneurial success, I have never gone wrong applying your  suggested solutions to what I had often regarded as unsolvable  problems.  Now I have another one.
  •  I run many of my own and my company’s legacy programs in XP mode on a desktop PC using the Windows 7 Professional operating system.  Will my entire computer be at risk after the termination of security support for XP?  Apart from the anticipated headache of switching out of my old reliable software that runs best (or exclusively) on XP, is there any way after April 8 to protect my Windows 7 computer from destructive malware delivered through its XP mode?  Or is that mode just a virtualized feature of Windows 7 that won’t be affected? In my fondest dreams, some enterprising geek comes along next April to develop and offer subscriptions to a continuing XP security update service, totally independent of Microsoft Corporation and its ongoing strategy of forced obsolescence. As always, thanks in advance for your definitive advice.  Ron Krieger, McLean, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: 37% of the installed base of OS is Windows XP. So it will continue to be a great target. As new security updates are released for later Windows version, hackers will reverse engineer these and apply the same vulnerabilities to XP. Expect a surge in XP attacks after retirement.
  • That being said, you should have no problems running XP after its retirement. There are many embedded XP systems that will continue to operate. Since you will only be running your XP with your dedicated applications, you can avoid the Internet and the use of any thumb drives (another way to spread viruses). Only surf the web when you are running the Windows 7 native mode. I would also suggest that you do a disk image in the event your computer is corrupted. You can then simply restore to a previous state.  It is possible to just backup the XP Virtual machine if you wish. Go to the MS Support to get the specific files required. There are several included an XML pointer file with the specific file locations.
  • Perhaps if may be easier to use XP-More. XP-More is a tool that helps manage Windows 7 Virtual Machines (XP Mode and any other). Specifically, it makes duplication of VMs easy. No more raw XML editing and manually duplicating files.
  • You can download it from http://xpmore.codeplex.com/
  • Email from Rachel in Lorton: Dear Tech Talk. I have an HP computer that came with 8 GB of RAM, but it will take 16 if I sacrifice the two 4 GB cards. Do you think this would be worthwhile? I’ve already optimized the machine by fitting a Solid State Drive and this has made a big difference in performance.  Thanks, Rachel in Lorton
  • Whether or not more RAM would be better depends on exactly how you use your computer and what it is that you do. Clearly, the Solid State Drive was a good idea. Whether or not additional RAM will have an impact on your overall computer’s speed is really difficult to say. It’s a function of what programs you run, how much RAM they require, and even how many programs you run at the same time.
  • I we run a desktop with 8 GB, that plenty. However, we want to run more than one virtual machine, then more RAM is useful. More than 8 GB won’t help most people today. Run Process Explorer. Hit Ctrl+I in Process Explorer and you’ll get a summary. Watch the memory usage. If it never approaches 8 GB, then you’re fine for now. 

 Profiles in IT: Jeff Bezos

  • Jeffrey Preston Bezos was born January 12, 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • He is the founder, president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Amazon.com.
  • Bezos was born when his mother, Jackie Bezos, was still in her teens. Her marriage to his father lasted little more than a year.
  • She remarried when Bezos was five. Bezos’s stepfather, Miguel Bezos, was born in Cuba; he migrated to the United States alone at age 15 and worked his way through the University of Albuquerque.
  • At an early age, he displayed a striking mechanical aptitude. When a toddler, he dismantled his crib with a screwdriver.
  • Bezos showed intense and varied scientific interests at an early age. He rigged an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings out of his room and maintain his secrecy.
  • He converted his parents’ garage into a laboratory for his science projects.
  • Jeffrey spent most summers of his youth working with his grandfather on the family’s 25,000 acre Texas ranch.
  • Bezos attended River Oaks Elementary in Houston from the 4th to 6th grades.
  • The family moved to Miami, Florida, where Bezos attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School.
  • He entered Princeton University, planning to study physics, but soon returned to his love of computers and graduated with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering.
  • After graduating from Princeton, Bezos worked on Wall Street in the computer science field.
  • Then he worked on building a network for international trade for a company known as Fitel. Later on Bezos also worked in computer science for D. E. Shaw & Co..
  • Bezos founded Amazon.com in 1994 and became one of the most prominent dot-com entrepreneurs.
  • Bezos was named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year in 1999.
  • In 2006 his salary was $81,840 (unchanged since 1998), plus $1.1 million in other benefits.
  • Bezos’ wealth is primarily derived from his holding of Amazon.com stock At the end of 2006 he held just over 100 million shares of common stock, representing 24.26% of all Amazon.com shares.
  • At a value $81 per share, he is now worth around $8.1 billion.

Amazon’s Kindle vs. Sony’s Reader

  • Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader
  • Kindle’s has industrial look. It is too expensive ($400). It is awkward to use.
  • However, will it define our book future?
  • The only other player in this game is Sony’s Reader. Both use the same E-Ink display technology which has a paper like look.
  • The unit has the same screen as Sony’s Reader, but Kindle is much, much larger overall–longer, wider, and more than twice as thick.
  • It is 10.4 ounces vs. 9 ounces for the Sony.
  • Kindle includes a keyboard to aid in searching stored content and browsing the Kindle e-book store.
  • Also, Kindle seems to be pretty much limited to a vertical (portrait) orientation; there’s no mention of landscape mode in the user guide.
  • Kindle’s design has a “cursor bar,” a tall, skinny display alongside the main one that works with a scroll wheel to select on-screen menu options.
  • Kindle connects to the Internet Sprint’s EV-DO cellular data network…and to shield users from all the complexities of that service.
    • It’s called “Amazon Whispernet.?
    • Customers don’t have to maintain a separate cell phone account; there are no bills.
    • The cost of browsing Amazon’s Kindle e-book store is covered by Amazon; download costs are built into the price of the books, newspapers, blog feeds, and other services available from Amazon.
  • Amazon has lot more books than Sony. It is selling new releases at $9.99, compared to about $16 for Sony.
  • Amazon even keeps track of your purchases so you can download them again later if you have to replace or re-initialize your Kindle for some reason.
  • If you do have a PC, you can transfer files via USB. There’s also an SD card slot.
  • Kindle natively supports only a few different file types. However, more are coming.
  • The biggest limitation is the Kindle’s user interface, which relies on a scroll wheel to move a cursor in a single line up and down.

Cooking and Simple Food Technology

  • How not to overcook the white meat and still have the dark perfect. Use a temperature gradient. Let the turkey sit out at room temperature with an ice pack on the white meat.
  • How to avoid lumpy gravy. Gravy is a mixture of fat, flour, and meat juices. Flour is composed of protein (from the wheat germ) and the starch (from the food that surrounds the wheat germ). Starch is what thickens the gravy. At 160F, the starch combines with the fat and expands rapidly to thicken the gravy.
  • My favorite food science book: On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee, Copyright (1984, 2004), ISBN 0-684-80001-2

Cell Phone Jammers — Illegal Yet Popular

  • The jamming technology is not new, but it´s becoming increasingly popular on buses, in restaurants, and in movie theaters.
  • The device works by sending out a powerful radio signal that overwhelms cell phones so that they cannot communicate with cell towers.
  • Upon activating a phone jammer, all idle phones will indicate “NO NETWORK.”
  • Incoming calls are blocked as if the cellular hand phone were off.
  • Can be purchased from several companies
    • Portable cell phone jammer (battery operated) – $149 and $219
    • Low, High Power Cell Phone Jammer Fixed — $195 and $295
    • Adjustable High Power Cell Phone Jammers — $395 and $415
    • Ultra High Power Cell Phone Jammers — $1449 and $3995
  • However, using the jammers is illegal in the US, since the radio frequencies used by cell phone carriers are legally protected by the government, similar to the protected frequencies used by television and radio broadcasters.
  • Cell phone companies spend tens of billions of dollars to lease the frequencies from the government, and expect protection from infringement.
  • According to a recent article in the New York Times, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) warns that people caught using cell phone jammers could be fined up to $11,000 for a first offense.
  • FCC investigators have special technology of their own that can detect the jammers.
  • The commission has already prosecuted several US companies for distributing the devices nationally.

The Ten Commandments of cell phone etiquette

  • Thou shalt not subject defenseless others to cell phone conversations.
  • Thou shalt not set thy ringer to play La Cucaracha every time thy phone rings.
  • Thou shalt turn thy cell phone off during public performances.
  • Thou shalt not wear more than two wireless devices on thy belt.
  • Thou shalt not dial while driving.
  • Thou shalt not wear thy earpiece when thou art not on thy phone.
  • Thou shalt not speak louder on thy cell phone than thou would on any other phone.
  • Thou shalt not grow too attached to thy cell phone. For obvious reasons, a dependency on constant communication is not healthy. At work, go nuts. At home, give it a rest.
  • Thou shalt not attempt to impress with thy cell phone.
  • Thou shalt not slam thy cell phone down on a restaurant table just in case it rings. 

Impact of Mobile Phones in Developing Countries

  • Based on an article in the Economist, September 24, 2009
  • Mobile phones have transformed lives in the poor world.
    • Mobile phones compensate for inadequate infrastructure, such as bad roads and slow postal services, allowing information to move more freely, making markets more efficient and unleashing entrepreneurship.
    • An extra ten phones per 100 people in a typical developing country boosts GDP growth by 0.8 percentage points, according to the World Bank.
    • More than 4 billion handsets are now in use worldwide, 75% of them in the developing world. Four in ten people now have a mobile phone in Africa.
  • Mobile money is the next opportunity.
    • In the developing world, corner shops are where people buy vouchers to top up their calling credit.
    • Mobile-money services allow these small retailers to act rather like bank branches.
    • They can take your cash, and (by sending a special kind of text message) credit it to your mobile-money account.
    • You can then transfer money (again, via text message) to other registered users, who can withdraw it by visiting their own local corner shops
    • You can even send money to people who are not registered users; they receive a text message with a code that can be redeemed for cash.
  • The most successful example of mobile money is M-PESA, launched in 2007 by Safaricom of Kenya.
    • It now has nearly 7 million users (total population is 38 million)
    • M-PESA first became popular as a way for young, male urban migrants to send money back to their families in the countryside.
    • It is now used to pay for everything from school fees to taxis.
  • Similar schemes are popular in the Philippines and South Africa.
  • Extending mobile money to other poor countries, particularly in Africa and Asia, would have a huge impact.
  • It is a faster, cheaper and safer way to transfer money than the alternatives, such as slow, costly transfers via banks and post offices, or handing an envelope of cash to a bus driver.
  • Rather than spend a day travelling by bus to the nearest bank, recipients in rural areas can spend their time doing more productive things.
  • Mobile money also provides a stepping stone to formal financial services for the billions of people who lack access to savings accounts, credit and insurance.
  • Why is mobile money not more widespread?
    • Its progress has been impeded by banks, which fear that mobile operators will be tough competitors.
    • It is also feared by regulators, who worry about fraud and money laundering.
  • Banks should see it as a chance to exploit telecoms firms’ vast retail networks.
  • Linking banks and operators will help reassure regulators.