Show of 02-01-2014

Tech Talk

February 1, 2014

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Margaret: Dear Doc Shurtz, periodically I restart my iMAC b/c performance speed begins to degrade if I place it into sleep for too long a time without restarting.  Invariably when it restarts up I’ve Lost applications when I do this. For example, I had the weatherbug icon on my top R ledge that gave me the temp—now, that is GONE. I had the TOR browser on my dock, now it is Gone! How do I prevent this from happening going forward?  Thanks for the help : )  Margaret
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is a recurring theme is the Apple blogs. Here are a few suggestions that I found there.
    • One Mac user believes it caused by the anti-virus program.  He believes it was Norton or Sophos that put the apps in a hidden quarantine folder. Try a search with invisible files and system files enabled or use EasyFind with invisible files enabled to see if your deleted programs show up.
    • Another user had deleted apps with LaunchBar. With LaunchBar, you press a keyboard shortcut, then type some letters to choose an app, then press Return to launch it. But sometimes, he mistaken pressed Delete instead, which moves the app to the Trash.
    • Finally, if your applications disappeared from the Dock, they are only aliases or short cuts. They should still be in Applications folder.
  • Email from Arnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz. We probably don’t get as many robo phone calls as some others do, but we get our share. Have you heard or read about This company appears fairly new and recently won a contest with the FTC. It is a free service. On the other hand, Digitone Call Blocker / <> costs about $100. Have you heard of these programs to eliminate robo calls? Which one would you recommend? Also, would they work with OOMA? Or does OOMA eliminate robo calls all together?  Your show’s the greatest!  Thanks, Arnie,  Davidsonville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: Nomorobo is the brainchild of Aaron Foss, a software programmer from Long Island who hates robo calls. Nomorobo is a cloud-based solution that uses the “simultaneous ring” service (provided by some phone carriers) that allows numerous phone lines with the same number to ring at the same time. Sign up for the service and all of your calls also go to Nomorobo. If the call is tagged as a robocall, the computer hangs up on it before you get the second ring. They have 1.2 million phone numbers blacklisted. Legitimate robocalls from schools or doctors are not blocked, according to their website. This service has gotten great reviews from phone carriers and FTC officials. It looks legitimate. If you go to their website, they support a large number of carriers….and even Ooma.
  • The Digitone Call Blocker Plus is a device that you connect to your phone line. It has a 140 number memory for blocking unwanted calls including individuals or area codes and a 50 number VIP Caller List for preferred callers in After Hours mode, Blocked callers by default are Spoofed, Out of Area, Unavailable, Private, Anonymous, Name Not Provided, Unknown, No Name at all, and no number at all.  It cost $99. It does not have the extensive lookup table offered by NoRoboCalls. Lukewarm reviews.
  • Now I have Ooma VoIP. It has a blacklist of block phone numbers and I can add any other that I want. It also blocks calls without a caller ID, if I want. I only pay $20 per year for the service. It includes unlimited free calling in the US and low Skype type rates overseas. The Ooma box costs 225. I don’t need any further call blocking.
  • Email from Ken: Dear Tech Talk. You might have answered this one before, but could you explain why you post your archives of the show in .ashx format when actually if you rename the file to .mp3 it plays fine in any mp3 player? There must be some advantage for you to do it this way. Thanks, Ken in Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: ASHX files are files used with ASP.NET programming and can be opened with any program that codes in ASP. ASHX files are not intended to be viewed or opened by the browser. If you’ve downloaded an ASHX file and expected it to contain information (like a document or other saved data), it’s likely that something is wrong with the website and instead of generating usable information, it provided this server-side file instead. Stratford uses Site Core for the CMS. This is a .Net Framework program, so it uses ashx files for document handling. It should dynamically rename those files to mp3 before delivering them to your computer.
  • The best trick with an ASHX file is to simply rename it to the kind of file you expected it to be. It seems many are really supposed to be PDF files so, for example, if you download an ASHX file from Tech Talk, just rename it show.mp3 and open it. We are also using this to ensure backward compatibility with previous versions of the website.
  • Email from June: Dear Dr. Shurtz. Kindle or nook which is better? Although I love opening up a real book, there are times an e-book would be great. Can you advise?  Thanks for your help. June in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: June, it all depends of which ecosystem you want to join. Kindle is Amazon (an up and coming company). Nook is Barnes and Noble (a struggling company). Once the ecosystem is gone, the unit is worthless. I personally use iBooks with my iPad and iPhone, so I am tied to the Apple ecosystem. I you like Amazaon, I would go with Kindle. You can download a Kindle app on your iPad or iPhone to read your books…and it will synchronize.
  • Email from Led by Brain: Dear Doc Shurtz, I needed to get Skype onto my iMAC and installed it today.  I assume that when someone calls me now both my Vonage phone and the Skype software program ring? This got me thinking. Is Skype reliable enough for me to cancel my Vonage phone account? Being free (Skype) of course concerns me because if it ever malfunctions I am totally on my own. I don’t have a cell phone right now I had to get it is I’m having an interview and they needed a video of me during the interview. Guess these are now becoming ‘the norm’? Any advise on how to make myself more ‘appealing’ when using the photo booth/Skype app. on the iMAC? You are probably laughing right now! I’m basically asking if there are things to tweak to put my best face forward, or, am I dreaming? Thanks!, Tech Talk Fan Club President
  • Tech Talk Responds: Vonage gives you a phone number that someone can call. Skype provides a account that can be called from another online account only. If you want a Skype number (Skype-in), you have to purchase the number for around $100 per year. So Skype cannot replace Vonage. I actually have Ooma. I had to buy a VoIP box for around $200 and transfer my landline to Ooma. I now pay only $20 per year for my “land line.” This rings in my house. As for my other VoIP accounts, I use Skype and Facetime. I love to use Viber when I am travelling because my regular cell phone number rings whenever I am on wi-fi.
  • Email from Jim: Dear Tech Talk. How do you control you television using your iPad or iPhone. I would love to dump my pile or remotes. This would make my life easier for all concerned. No more fighting over the remote. Thanks, Jim
  • Tech Talk Responds: I love my TV Wi-Fi controls. I am using the Logitech Harmony Link. The Logitech Harmony Link lets you control all your home theater gear using an app available for iOS and Android. There’s also an iPad-optimized app that lets you view TV listings, with large colorful tiles. The Harmony Link adopts many of the best features of the standard Harmony remotes, including an easy Web-based setup process and activity-based commands like “Watch TV.”
  • It connects to you Wi-Fi. After setting up (inputting your particular devices),  it emits an IR control signal to control your devices. The base unit emits into the room to control those things in direct line or sight. You can attach two remote emitters to control components inside on a cabinet.
  • Email from John in Alexandria: Dear Tech Talk. Are external hard drives worth the trouble.  If external hard drives can fail, should I bother with one? I am conflicted because you have talked about your external hard drive. John in Alexandria
  • Tech Talk Responds: It is true that hard drives fail or they can be corrupted. Online backup systems can fail too or they can be hacked and your account stolen. The key is redundancy. You need multiple copies of your critical files. If there’s only one copy, it’s not backed up. When you have data backed up (meaning you have made multiple copies, in any medium) then data loss will only happen if all of these copies are destroyed at the same time. I use the rule of three: three copies of critical files, with one stored at another location.
  • With my laptop, for instance, I store files on the laptop, use Carbonite, and have a 1T external USB hard drive for further backup.  The most valuable thing to most families these days are digital photos. They should always be backed up in three locations.

Profiles in IT: Sheryl Sandberg

  • Sheryl Kara Sandberg is COO of Facebook and the force behind monetizing the site.
  • Sheryl Kara Sandberg was born August 28, 1969 in Washington, DC.
  • Her family moved to North Miami Beach, Florida, when she was two years old.
  • She attended public school and taught aerobics in the 1980s while in high school.
  • In 1987, Sandberg enrolled at Harvard and received a BA in economics in 1991.
  • While at Harvard, Larry Summers who became her mentor and thesis adviser.
  • Summers recruited her to be his research assistant at the World Bank, where she worked for approximately one year on health projects in India.
  • In 1993, she enrolled at Harvard Business School and in 1995 she earned her MBA.
  • After graduating from business school in 1995, Sandberg worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company for approximately one year.
  • From 1996 to 2001, Sandberg served as Chief of Staff to Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers under President Bill Clinton.
  • She joined Google in 2001 as its VP of Global Online Sales & Operations.
  • She was responsible for online sales of Google’s advertising & publishing products.
  • In late 2007, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive of Facebook, met Sandberg at a Christmas party. Zuckerberg thought of she would be perfect for COO.
  • They met again in January 2008 at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
  • In March 2008, Facebook announced hiring Sheryl Sandberg away from Google.
  • Sandberg quickly began trying to figure out how to make Facebook profitable.
  • Before she joined, Facebook was primarily interested in building a really cool site; profits, they assumed, would follow.
  • By late spring, Facebook’s leadership had agreed to rely on advertising.
  • By 2010, Facebook became profitable.
  • Sandberg oversees business operations including sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy and communications.
  • Her 2011 compensation was $300,000 base salary plus $30,491,613 in FB shares.
  • She also owns 38,122,000 stock options and restricted stock units.
  • In 2012 she became the eighth member (and first female) of Facebook’s BOD.
  • Sandburg is currently married to David Goldberg, the CEO of SurveyMonkey. They have two children.
  • In March 2013, Sheryl Sandberg published her first book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, co-authored by Nell Scovell.
  • Lean In is a book for professional women to help them achieve their career goals and for men who want to contribute to a more equitable society “
  • Sandberg’s book inspired the Lean In movement, which aims to help women achieve their professional and personal goals by “leaning into their ambitions”.

Phantom 2 Vision Drone Update

  • Flew drone in 10 degrees F weather to get aerial shots of the Stratford campuses.
  • Drone successful flew at those temperatures. However, the cell phone used to control the camera failed within a few minutes. Apparently the operating temperature range of the cell phone does not extend to 10 degrees F.
  • Drone successful flew as the front came through Newport News in wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour. It was at the limit of its control and almost was pushed into a light post. I had to raise the drone’s altitude to above 150 feet to avoid any obstacles when being blown around. This weather is not recommended.

Google Chromecase

Device of the Week:  Chromecast by Google

  • Chromecast is a digital media player developed by Google.
  • The device, a 2.83-inch HDMI dongle, plays audio/video content on a high-definition television by directly streaming it via Wi-Fi from the Internet or a local network.
  • Users select the media to play from Chromecast-enabled mobile apps and Web apps, or through a beta feature called “tab casting” that can mirror most content from the web browser Google Chrome.
  • The device was first available July 24, 2013. I finally got mine last week.
  • Google sells it for $35. I bought mine on Amazon for $30.
  • I plugged it into the HIMI 2 port on the back of the TV. It has a USB power connection at the other end.
  • Setting it up required that I download a Chromecast application and attach to a temporaty Chromecast Wi-Fi network to program the device. That is inputer Wi-Fi network name, password, and time zone. After configuration, the temporary Wi-Fi link disappears.
  • With a desktop computer: To “cast” to your TV, you need to use the Chrome browser and install the Chromecast extension. You can then “cast” a tab to the TV.
  • iPhone or iPad: Only two apps are castable: Netflix and YouTube. Just click on the cast icon to begin sharing.
  • In both case, web content is streamed directed to your TV and you can use your device for other tasks.

More Americans Reading eBooks

  • More Americans are reading eBooks now than ever before, according to new data from the Pew Internet & American Life project.
  • Some 28% of U.S. adults have read an eBook in the past year, up from 23% a year ago. About three in four Americans read a book in any format over the past year, with the typical American reading about five books. That said, only about 4% of Americans only read eBooks.
  • The younger you are and wealthier you are, the more likely you are to read eBooks.
  • Among Americans 18-to-29, some 37% read eBooks, compared with 32% of those 30-to-49, 27% of those 50-to-64, and only 12% of those 65 and above.
  • Kindle is the most popular device for eBooks, beating out iPad.
  • EBook reading also skews wealthier, with 46% of those who make more than $75,000 a year reading eBooks, the highest proportion among any income group.
  • EBook reading device ownership also skews toward younger and wealthier Americans, with one exception: 40% of those aged 30-to-49 own a dedicated e-reader, the highest proportion among age groups.
  • At the same time, children are reading eBooks at a much higher proportion than adults, according to a new study from children’s digital research firm PlayCollective and Digital Book World.
  • About two-thirds of children’s aged two-to-thirteen are reading eBooks, most of them on a weekly basis, compared with 54% of children who read eBooks a year ago.