Show of 02-22-2014

Tech Talk

February 22, 2014

Email and Forum Questions

  • Dear Tech Talk. I travel to Asia frequently and would like to watch Netflix Movies and listen to Pandora streaming music. However, these services are blocked outside of the United States. What are my options? Love the show. Phil in New Delhi
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are right. Streaming media is blocked for most countries, particularly in Asia. Fortunately, there is a simple workaround. Use a VPN with a proxy server in the US. Then the streaming media will think that the user is in the US. You need a service that can stream unlimited data without too much buffering. You will need a paid VPN service. Check the online reviews before subscribing to one. I use ExpressVPN (ExpressVPN.com). They have applications that support Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. It easily installed on my iPhone, iPad, and Sony Vaio laptop . It gives me excellent results when streaming Netflix videos. For an annual subscription, it is around $8 per month. For a month to month subscription, it is around $12. By the way, this always provides a safe way to check emails using unencrypted Wi-Fi. Happy streaming while on travels.
  • Email from Jim: Dear Doc and Jim. I recently bought a Chromecast Dongle so that I could watch streaming videos from my iPad or Windows 7 laptop in my hotel room. I can’t figure out how to configure Chromecast using the hotel Wi-Fi. Please help. Thanks, Jim
  • Tech Talk Responds: Chromecast will not work with any Wi-Fi system with a logon splash screen. Most hotels are unencrypted and require that you put in your room and last name and perhaps select a payment plan. Chromecast is configured for a home Wi-Fi system which only requires that you provide the network SSID and password.
  • To work in your hotel, your TV must have an HDMI input. You will need to select that input. They you are ready to configure Chromecast. You can connect to the Internet with your laptop and then create a Wi-Fi hotspot using you laptop. Enable Internet sharing and share your Internet connection with the wireless connection created for the hotspot.
  • There are two ways you can create a wireless connection. One is by setting up an ad-how network using your laptop. This will not work with Chromecast because it does not behave like a fully functional Wi-Fi router. Instead you have to create a fully functional hotspot using the Command Window or MS Dos prompt in Windows.
  • Search for cmd.exe. Right click on cmd.exe and open as Administrator. The DOS Prompt will appear. We will be using the NetSh utility. Netsh is a command-line scripting utility that allows you to display or modify the network configuration of a computer that is currently running.
    • Create the Hotspot: netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=”TechTalk” key=”1234554321″ keyUsage=persistent
    • Start the Hotspot: netsh wlan start hostednetwork
    • Stop the Hotspot: netsh wlan stop hostednetwork
  • To access the Internet, share the Internet connection. Go to Control Center and select Networks and Sharing. Click on Internet connection and then selection properties. Choose Sharing tab and turn sharing on. Choose the Wireless Network that is used for the hotspot.
  • You can now configure your Chromecast, using the new Wi-Fi network. It will work just like at home. The one problem is that you cannot have an Internet VPN setup for streaming Netflix videos. In this case, it might just be easier to use an HDMI cable and connect your laptop to the TV in order to watch Netflix outside of the US.
  • Email from Jim: I am interested in setting up a remote controlled web cam at home that I can use to monitor traffic conditions outside my window. The camera will be sitting on a window ledge inside the apartment. I need to remote control pan, tilt, zoom from my office. I’d like for multiple users to be able to view the images, but not have access to the control function. I’d like to be able to use the audio path from the camera to transmit audio from a police scanner along with the picture. My apartment has Wi-Fi. I’ll be using a Dell laptop as the interface for the camera. I’d like this to be cost effective. Thank you in and advance for your expertise. The guy on the other side of the console, Jim
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are a number of options for this camera. I assume that you don’t need to record the video because cloud storage is another issue. Any IP camera can be viewed by multiple people. They simply need to know the IP address and password. You can get webcams with either microphones or audio jacks. I would recommend an audio jack so that room background noise will not be transmitted. Optical zoom is quite expensive. Given your price constrains, I suspect that you will only want to have digital zoom, which is not that effective because you lose resolution as you zoom. You don’t need night vision (with LEDs), but most have it. A couple of options might be:
    •  Foscam FI8910W Pan & Tilt IP/Network Camera with Two-Way Audio and Night Vision (Black) $62.00 on Amazon. Store video on SD card (not included)
    • Foscam FI9821W Indoor Pan/Tilt H.264 720p Wireless IP Camera, 1/4″ Color CMOS Sensor, F: 2.8mm F:2.4 (IR Lens), IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wireless Connectivity, Black $99.00 on Amazon. This is higher resolutions with a 1MP and 720p video. Store video on SD card (not included)
    • D-Link Wireless Pan and Tilt Day/Night Network Surveillance Camera with mydlink-Enabled and a Built-In Wi-Fi Extender (DCS-5020L) $99 on Amazon.
  • You will have to configure your router for port forwarding so that Internet traffic going to your camera will not be filtered by the firewall.  You will need to assign a specific internal IP address to you camera and then enable port forward to that address.
  • Email from James Messick: Doc, how did you get NoMoRobo to work? When I went to sign up it said that Simultaneous Ringing was unavailable for my Ooma phone (or my Gmail phone number, OR my AT&T wireless number).
  • On an unrelated note I love my Chromecast and have found that Google Music is, for me, the KILLER APP for Chromecast. Google Music gives free storage for up to 20,000 songs. My television is connected to a nice soundbar with subwoofer, and thanks to Chromecast is now a killer stereo system, something I haven’t had for years. I also love it for YouTube videos. Hello Jim, thanks for carrying the Tech Talk Torch when Doc is off on his many junkets, er, business trips. James Messick, Kernersville, NC
  • Tech Talk Responds: I stand corrected. The website listed all those carriers, but when you select them they ask that you call the carrier and request that Simultaneous Ring be added. The got the same results for Ooma and Verizon Wireless.  Not that many carriers supported, although I did find a few. Glad you are enjoying Chromecast. It is a great product. Your TV simply needs to have an HDMI video input.
  • Email from Chris: Email from Chris: Hey Doc, love the show! I have a question about Ooma.  I bought the Ooma Telo about 15 months ago based mostly on hearing you talk about it on the podcast.  Thank you! I love the product! You’ve mentioned several times that your Ooma subscription costs around $10 per year.  Mine is costing me much more.  It costs me $4.95 per month for taxes and an additional $10 per month for the premium features.  Now $15/month is a big savings over what I used to pay Verizon, but it’s a whole lot more than your $10 per year. Is Ooma overcharging me?  Are you signed up for a plan that I don’t know about? Thanks for your attention and all that you do for the tech community. PS Jim is a great asset too.  So is Mr. Big Voice! Chris
  • Tech Talk Responds: I just went back and checked on my account. I signed up before they were subject to taxes. I now pay monthly taxes of $3.79 for my zip code. It varies by locality. Monthly Fees include: Regulatory Compliance Fee ($1.78); 911 Service Fee ($1.59); Federal Universal Service Charge and FCC regulatory fee ($0.42); and State and local taxes, fees and surcharges ($0.00). I have the Basic plan. I am paying for a second number for the fax machine (at $10/month) with a special ring that is automatically picked up by the fax. I did not sign up for the premium features, but the second phone apparently qualifies me for them. When I make outgoing fax calls, I have to use the prefix *99 to turn off audio compression for the fax to work properly.
  • Email from Carl Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: Please tell your audience about the recent “The Moon” worm that has been infecting Linksys routers and how we can prevent it from infecting the people who have those routers and how we can get rid of it if we have been infected. Thank you for a great show. I never miss an episode. Carl Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: A self-replicating worm is exploiting authentication bypass vulnerability in Linksys home and small business routers. If you have one of the E-Series routers, you are at risk. The worm, dubbed “The Moon” because of lunar references in its code, is not doing much at the moment beyond scanning for other vulnerable routers and making copies of itself, researchers wrote on the SANS Institute’s Internet Storm Center blog. It’s unclear at this time what the payload is or whether it’s receiving commands from a command-and-control server.
  • The following routers may be vulnerable depending on firmware version: E4200, E3200, E3000, E2500, E2100L, E2000, E1550, E1500, E1200, E1000, E900.” There are reports that E300, WAG320N, WAP300N, WES610N, WAP610N, WRT610N, WRT400N, WRT600N, WRT320N, WRT160N, and WRT150N routers are also vulnerable.
  • Linksys knows that The Moon has affected select older Linksys E-series Routers and select older Wireless-N access points and routers. A firmware fix is planned, but no specific timetable is available at this time.
  • Once on a vulnerable router, The Moon worm connects to port 8080 and uses the Home Network Administration Protocol (HNAP) to identify the make and firmware of the compromised router. It then exploits a CGI script to access the router without authentication and scan for other vulnerable boxes. SANS estimates over 1,000 Linksys routers have already been infected.
  • Routers that are not configured for remote administration are not exposed.  If you don’t need remote administration, turn off Remote Management Access from the administrator interface.
  • If you do need remote administration, restrict access to the administrative interface by IP address so that the worm can’t access the router. You can also enable Filter Anonymous Internet Requests under the Administration-Security tab. Since the worm spreads via port 80 and 8080, changing the port for the administrator interface will also make it harder for the worm to find the router. Finally, Update to the latest firmware to plug any other issues that may be unpatched.
  • LinkedIn Message from Ken: About 10 years ago, you gave some advice on your radio show. I took it and it changed my career. Thank you, Ken
  • Tech Talk Responds: Ken. Thanks for the feedback and good luck.

Profiles in IT: Paul Muret

  • Paul Muret is known as Father of Google Analytics.
  • Paul worked with the NASA-funded Space Physics Group at the UCSD School of Engineering, where he wrote analysis and visualization software.
  • Paul holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from UCSD.
  • In 1994, he caught the Web bug after seeing Mosaic, the first CERN browser.
  • In 1995, Paul Muret and his friend Scott Crosby started a website development business called Web Depot, which they later renamed Quantified Systems.
  • One of their large clients was struggling with the fact that it took 24 hours to process a single day’s worth of website tracking results.
  • In 1997 Paul personally created a new tool, Urchin, to help analyze the data. The new analytics tool it took 15 minutes to process the same data.
  • The team was faced with a choice: keep providing web consultancy services or pivot and focus on building and selling Urchin.
  • They pivoted, phased out its website development, and fine-tuned Urchin software.
  • They chose to develop a scalable web-based produce, as well as, a stand-alone software application. The scalable web-based product allowed them to service the customer base of large Internet service providers.
  • A breakthrough came in 2000 when host EarthLink signed on to use Urchin for reporting to its customers. This allowed them to connect with thousands of customers.
  • As they started landing top web hosts as customers, Urchin quickly became the standard analytics software for thousands of websites.
  • By 2003, Urchin was one of the dominant players in the Web analytics playing field.
  • It didn’t take long for Google to notice them. Google representatives approached the Urchin team at a trade show in 2004. An offer to buy was made and negotiations began. The deal closed on March 2005. It was not finalized until May 2005.
  • After the acquisition, Urchin’s web-hosted analytics software, Urchin on Demand, became the Google Analytics we’re now familiar with.
  • Paul Muret became the Director of Engineering at Google Analytics and to this day has a direct hand in the overall development of the core technology.
  • Google Analytics is implemented with “page tags”. A page tag, in this case called the Google Analytics Tracking Code is a snippet of JavaScript code that the website owner user adds to every page of the website. The code sends page data to Google.
  • In April 2011, Google announced the availability of a new version of Google Analytics, featuring multiple dashboards, custom reports, and AdWords integration.
  • Google continued to sell the standalone, installable Urchin Web Analytics Software through a network of value-added resellers until discontinuation on March 28, 2012.
  • Two startup lessons can be learned. First, a successful idea doesn’t need to be unique or flashy. It must be useful. Second, recognize your opportunities for pivoting.

New Delhi Graduation

  • Stratford conducted its annual graduation in New Delhi
  • We had students from nearly 15 countries, in addition to India.
  • Most of the international students were from Africa.
  • Our executive team attended the graduation and established an International Student Office to accommodate the international student population.
  • We began the formative activity on an innovation faculty development program grounded firmly in the Indian tradition of meditation and self-reflection.
  • This program was the genesis of the teaching methods used in Montessori schools in the US. It is a powerful technique. Stratford will use its strong tied in India to bring these techniques to the US.

Fanbox Spam Scam

  • Fanbox tricks people into giving up their email addresses, passwords and cell phone numbers and then spams them relentlessly. Not only that, they spam everyone in the contact list as well
  • Fanbox began notifying people that  “On March 15 you earned $2.75 and your all time earnings are $234.40”. This is nothing but a phishing attempt through a spam mail.  I have received at least 10 Fanbox spam emails to date. The dollar amount differ slightly.
  • According to Allspammedup.com, Fanbox is run by former SMS.ac, a shady company that claims to be an online community which exists via text messages only.
  • There are two ways for earning for Fanbox. First, it collects your email ID, data and contacts and then uses it for marketing (spamming) and may also be selling it to some other interested parties. Secondly, after few emails, Fanbox sends a mail asking for a ‘maintenance fee’ for an account that may not even exist. It tells you that you that you need to pay this fee in order to protect your “earnings.”
  • So what is the remedy to avoid getting trapped into Fanbox spam scam? In your mailbox, mark the mail from Fanbox as spam (for Gmail, you can also report it for phishing). According to Allspammedup.com, Fanbox make their money by getting people to subscribe to SMS-based blogs, and also send premium SMS messages.

Instapainting Turns Your Photos Into Oil Paintings

  • Instapainting, a YCombinator-backed company, turns any photo into a hand-painted piece on canvas for under $100.
  • A few companies have been doing the whole photo-into-art thing for years. Where Instapainting thinks they have them beat, however, is in pricing and speed.
  • Instapainting’s smallest option (a 12?x12? canvas) starts the pricing at $53 (including shipping), with the largest option (29.33?x22?) going for $130 .
  • Setting up your order takes all of a few seconds; upload your photo, crop it to the region you like, pick a canvas size, and you’re set.
  • Your original photo is printed onto canvas first, and this printed piece is used as the base/foundation of the hand painted piece. In other words: they’re painting on top of the photo. The artist still has to know how to properly mix colors and how to recreate lights/shadows/etc. in oil, but it’s a whole lot quicker than starting on blank canvas.
  • Instapainting’s founders source their painters (primarily in China) one-by-one, mostly through their myriad online profiles. After quietly starting to roll the service out around a month ago, Instapainting says they have just shy of 100 painters producing pieces.
  • They ship your art rolled in a tube, leaving it to the customer to frame it or stretch it onto canvas.
  • To keep quality up, Instapainting puts two layers of protection into the mix: first, each painting is checked by a second set of eyes before it heads out to the customer.
  • Second, they guarantee their work; if you don’t dig the oil-painted version they send you, they’ll remake it or give you a full refund.
  • This seems like a good idea. I may try it something this year.