Show of 05-03-2014

Tech Talk

May 3, 2013

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Lauren: Dear Doc and Jim. I have an iMAC about 16 months old. It is up to date with all current updates.  For no apparent reason my Verizon.net email account stopped working. There has never been a problem with the Gmail accounts or the Hotmail accounts! Do you know of a reliable source that goes through the steps for resetting this up OR am I better off using some other email app?  No one mentioned that having multiple email accts was going to be a problem. Your ideas are appreciated.  Regular Listener Lauren
  • Tech Talk Responds: Verizon has changed their email configuration. After many warning letters, they finally stopped services the old configuration. This was a letter that received from them.
    • Dear Valued Verizon Customer. You still have not updated your Email Server settings. We urge you to make changes to all your devices now as Verizon is beginning to implement changes that may cause interruption to your service if you neglect to make the required modifications. Please use our quick guided setup at http://verizon.com/emailassist or use the setting shown below.
      • Change POP3 Server to: pop.verizon.net,  SSL enabled, Port 995
      • Change SMTP Server to: smtp.verizon.net, SSL enable, Port 465
  • Email from Phil in New Delhi: Dear Dr. Shurtz. I took your advice a few months ago and installed EpressVPN on my laptop and iPad. Now I can stream Netflix and Amazon Prime Movies. Sometimes when I am travelling and only have my laptop, I would like to watch movies on the large screen TV in the hotel room. Google Chrome could be an answer, except that it does not work with a VPN installed, as you explained previously. Are there any other options for me use. Thanks Phil in New Delhi
  • Tech Talk Responds: Phil, I am glad that the ExpressVPN is working for you. That is the one that I use when I travel to India or when I want to use a public Wi-Fi connection. I had the same problem with the iPad. I finally purchase an HDMI cable for my iPad. When I plug the iPad into the TV, it displays the iPad screen perfectly. Netflix work quite well like this. The only drawback is that the iPad is not charging while plugging into the TV. The got this HDMI cable from Amazon for around $12.
  • Email from Arnie in Davidsonville: Hi Dr. Shurtz. Once physics was mentioned, I had to send this to you. Interesting. This YouTube video shows that you can extend the range of your car key to help locate your car in a car park. Just hold the key against you your head and click the button.  I’ll have to check it out with my own experiment.  Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/embed/0Uqf71muwWc. PS: Check out this article about ho the Heartbleed bug is being used against the hackers. Arnie in Davidsonville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the tip, Arnie. Putting the key to my head while trying to find my car does expend the range. Simply physics at work. Your body becomes an extended antenna for the 315 MHz transmission.
  • Email from John in Woodbridge: Dear Tech Talk. I am still using Windows XP and am very careful about what sites that I visit. However, I am worried now that a major vulnerability has been discovered in IE and MS is no longer sending out patches for XP. What should I do? Is it time to move on? Thanks, John
  • Tech Talk Responds: Microsoft’s support for Windows XP is over. It really is. But because of the company’s sense of responsibility, it will fix and Internet Explorer vulnerability that affects XP—just this once.
  • That was the message that Microsoft sent in a blog post, when it said it would fix all versions of Internet Explorer that were affected by a vulnerability discovered over the weekend. The bug was deemed so serious that the Department of Homeland Security recommended that users avoid using Microsoft’s browser until it had fixed the vulnerability. Users, who have automatic updates enabled, automatically have received the update on May 1, 2014. If your update was not one, to to Windows Update and install it.
  • As for your options, I would recommend that you upgrade your OS to Windows 7 sooner rather than later. In the meantime, make certain that you have a complete backup, a disk image is even better, in the even you are hacked.
  • Email from Barbie in Reston: Dear Tech Talk. My neighbor is letting me using their Wi-Fi connection. They gave me the encryption key so it is secure. However, are they able to see my files for monitor what I am doing on the Internet? Should I be worried? Thanks, Barbie in Reston
  • Tech Talk Responds: The short answer is: yes. First, you want to make sure that you have your firewall turned on. This will prevent the majority of truly malicious accesses due to malware, but you also need to make sure that Windows file sharing is turned off. Depending on your version of Windows, this can be easy as a simple change to the firewall settings. For example, in Windows 7, make sure that your network is classified as public, and that network discovery and file sharing are both turned off in the Windows firewall settings for public networks. If file sharing is turned on, it’s possible for someone to actually view the contents of your hard disk and the files on it.
  • Can they see what you’re doing on the Internet? Probably. They can simply sniff the network to view any and all packets on the network. Anyone connected to the network could potentially see your unencrypted data. Even when the connection is encrypted they can still see what sites you are visiting, just not the data you exchange with those sites.
  • Use https whenever available. In particular, make sure that anything truly sensitive like email or banking is only done via an https connection. And if you need more protection than that, start using a VPN service, which will encrypt everything you do between your computer and the VPN service’s server; meaning that no one in-between can see much of anything. I like ExpressVPN for this purpose.
  • Email from Leslie in Oakton: Dear Doc and Jim. I retired, but love to tinker with my computer. How can I find a way to learn more about computers and software? I want to learn not the mechanics of the computer – not how to build one for example but how to understand and interpret some of what I see and proceed to use it to my advantage. I don’t know what kind of course, what kind of study would give me that. There must be something. What do you recommend? Thanks, Leslie
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are attitude is all that you need. A strong curiosity to tray new things and explore. Classes are one option. Depending on where you live, there may be classes in computer basics available at community colleges, libraries, senior centers and more. But probably that is too structured for your taste.
  • Another option is a local computer user group. Now, user groups have been around forever, and they often present a perfect place for people of various skill levels to get together periodically and help each other out. You can find a computer user group near you by going to the website of the International Association of Technology and Computer User Groups (http://www.apcug2.org/). Just search for clubs in Virginia.
  • Online discussion groups and forums are all over the net. Most are topical, meaning that you might easily find a discussion that focuses on a specific technology. It’s not uncommon for me to find answers in groups like that when I’m researching a question that someone has asked. And don’t be afraid to ask a question.
  • What about books. Books are great when you’re dealing with a specific task you want to accomplish. But to learn something new, there is no real substitute for just diving in and trying things out, and of course, asking questions along the way. You really can’t hurt your computer. You may mess up the software, so always have a backup so that you can restore it. Knowing that you have a good backup in place allows you to be a little bit more adventuresome; a little bit more willing to try things out, discover new things and of course, ask questions along the way.
Profiles in IT: John G. Kemeny
  • John George Kemeny is co-developed of the BASIC programming language.
  • John George Kemeny was born May 31, 1926 in Budapest, Hungary.
  • Kemeny attended the Rácz private primary school in Budapest.
  • In 1940, the whole Kemeny family to the United States when the adoption of the second anti-Jewish law in Hungary became imminent.
  • Kemeny’s family settled in NYC where he attended George Washington High School.
  • In 1943, Kemeny entered Princeton University where he studied mathematics and philosophy, but he took a year off to work on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos.
  • His boss there was Richard Feynman. He also worked there with John von Neumann.
  • Returning to Princeton, Kemeny graduated with his B.A. in 1947 and began his PhD.
  • He worked as Albert Einstein’s mathematical assistant during graduate school.
  • Kemeny was awarded a PhD in mathematics in 1949.
  • He was appointed to the Dartmouth Mathematics Department in 1953. Two years later he became chairman of the Department, and held this post until 1967.
  • He co-developed the BASIC programming language with Thomas Kurtz and a team of student programmers. BASIC was supposed to be a simple system for teaching computer literacy and escaping the difficulties associated with early mainframes.
  • On May 1, 1964, a computer at Dartmouth College ran the first BASIC program.
  • BASIC (an acronym for Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages.
  • BASIC was perfect for beginners. The structure was inherent in the language – each line was numbered – and the commands encouraged linear thinking.
  • Versions of BASIC became widespread on microcomputers in the mid-1970s and 1980s. Microcomputers usually shipped with BASIC, often in the firmware.
  • Turbo Basic was popular. Now MS Visual Basic is used by many developers today.
  • Kemeny and Kurtz also developed one of the world’s first timesharing systems, the Dartmouth Time-Sharing System (DTSS).
  • John Kemeny was president of Dartmouth from 1970 to 1981, and continued to teach undergraduate courses, do research, and publish during his time as president.
  • He presided over the coeducation of Dartmouth in 1972. He also instituted the “Dartmouth Plan” of year-round operations, allowing more students to enroll.
  • In 1979, Kemeny was appointed by Jimmy Carter to head the Federal commission that investigated the nuclear accident at the Three Mile Island.
  • In 1982 he returned to teaching full-time.
  • In 1983, Kemeny and Kurtz co-founded a company called True BASIC, Inc. to market True BASIC, an updated version of the language.
  • John Kemeny died at the age of 66, the result of heart failure in Lebanon, New Hampshire on December 26, 1992.
Who Has Fixed the Heartbleed Bug?
  • CNET compiled a list of the top 100 sites across the Web, and checked to see if the Heartbleed bug was patched.
  • Some companies are be marked as “was not vulnerable.” In that case, the site in question does not use the type of OpenSSL encryption this bug was based on and your data was never at risk.
    • Google, Pass, Vulnerability patched. Password change recommended
    • Facebook, Pass, Vulnerability patched. Password change recommended
    • YouTube, Pass, Vulnerability patched. Password change recommended
    • Yahoo!, Pass, Vulnerability patched. Password change recommended
    • Amazon, Pass, Was not vulnerable
    • Wikipedia, Pass, Vulnerability patched. Password change recommended
    • LinkedIn, Pass, Was not vulnerable
    • eBay, Pass, Was not vulnerable
    • Twitter, Pass, Was not vulnerable
    • Craigslist, Pass, Awaiting response
    • Bing, Pass, Vulnerability patched. Password change recommended
    • Pinterest, Pass, Vulnerability patched. Password change recommended
    • Blogspot, Pass, Vulnerability patched. Password change recommended
    • Live, Pass, Was not vulnerable
    • PayPal, Pass, Was not vulnerable
    • Instagram, Pass, Vulnerability patched. Password change recommended
    • Tumblr, Pass, Vulnerability patched. Password change recommended
  • Link to article: http://www.cnet.com/how-to/which-sites-have-patched-the-heartbleed-bug/. It is being updated as new data is acquired.
Heartbleed Used to Hack Cyber Criminals
  • The Heartbleed bug has turned cyber criminals from attackers into victims as researchers use it to grab material from chatrooms where they trade data.
  • Discovered in early April, Heartbleed lets attackers steal data from computers using vulnerable versions of some widely used security programs.
  • Now it has given anti-malware researchers access to forums that would otherwise be very hard to penetrate.
  • Heartbleed had put many such forums in a “critical” position, he said, leaving them vulnerable to attack using tools that exploit the bug.
  • Mr K said he was using specially written tools to target some closed forums called Darkode and Damagelab.Darkode was vulnerable, and this forum is a really hard target. Not many people have the ability to monitor this forum, but Heartbleed exposed everything.
  • Individuals who repeat the work of security researchers such as Mr K could leave themselves open to criminal charges for malicious hacking.
FCC Is About to Kill the Internet
  • The open Internet may soon become a thing of the past.
  • The Federal Communications Commission is planning to abandon so-called “net neutrality” regulations—rules to ensure that Internet providers are prevented from discriminating based on content.
  • Under the new proposed system, companies such as Comcast or Verizon will be able to create a tiered Internet, in which websites will have to pay more money for faster speeds, a change that observers predict will curb free speech, stifle innovation and increase costs for consumers.
  • The policy shift may relate to the corruption of the revolving door.
  • The FCC is staffed with many who have worked for Internet Service Providers (ISP) that stand to benefit tremendously from the defeat of net neutrality.
  • These include Daniel Alvarez, an attorney who has long represented Comcast through the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. Alvarez is now on the other side, working among a small group of legal advisors hired directly under Tom Wheeler, the new FCC Commissioner who began his job in November.
  • As soon as Wheeler came into office, he also announced the hiring of former Ambassador Philip Verveer as his senior counselor. A records request reveals that Verveer also worked for Comcast in the last year.
  • In February, Matthew DelNero was brought into the agency to work specifically on net neutrality. DelNero has previously worked as an attorney for TDS Telecom, an Internet service provider that has lobbied on net neutrality.
  • Many have expressed surprise that the administration would walk back one of its biggest promises. On the campaign trail, Obama said that he is a strong supporter of net neutrality.
  • In January 2014, a federal court tossed out the Neutrality Regulations in a case brought by Verizon. The decision left open the possibility of new rules, but only if the FCC were to reclassify the Internet as a utility.
  • The Wall Street Journal story with details about the FCC’s leaked plans claims the agency will not be reclassifying broadband as a utility.
  • The revised rules to be announced by the FCC will allow ISPs to “give preferential treatment to traffic from some content providers, as long as such arrangements are available on commercially reasonable’ terms.
  • Critics have been quick to highlight the fact that Chairman Wheeler, the new head of the FCC, is a former lobbyist with close ties to the telecommunications industry.
  • The revolving door, however, provides a clear and semi-legal way for businesses to directly give unlimited cash and gifts to officials who act in their favor.
Farewell Nokia: The rise and fall of a mobile pioneer
  • Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition is a reminder that even the strongest companies are vulnerable.
  • Next to Motorola, which invented the mobile handset, there was no bigger name in the business than Nokia.
  • The company has been on such a steady downward slide over the past six years.
  • Nokia at its peak in 2007 controlled 41 percent of the market.
  • By the end of last year, Nokia’s market share sat at 15 percent, thanks to cheaper basic phones.
  • But when Nokia was on top, nobody could touch it. That kind of success eventually bred arrogance. Their vulnerability that was exposed first by the Motorola Razr, and then by Apple’s iPhone.
  • Nokia tapped outsider and Microsoft veteran Stephen Elop in 2010 to shake things up, which he promptly did with a controversial decision to drop the company’s proprietary software and adopt Microsoft’s Windows Phone mobile operating system.
  • What followed was a three-year battle to gain acceptance for Windows Phone software and its Lumia phones.
  • Now Nokia’s devices and services business is  part of the Microsoft family.
  • Nokia isn’t going completely away. Beyond mobile devices, the company’s telecom infrastructure business, mapping services, and advanced technology division will continue operating under the Nokia brand.
Device of the Week: Galileo iPhone Dock
  • Motrr’s Galileo robotic iOS device dock takes panoramas, time-lapse videos, or personal interview podcast videos without a cameraperson.
  • With Apple’s latest iOS, panoramic photos are possible, but the result is nowhere near what the Galelio and the Sphere 360 app can do. Once a 360-degree sphere is captured, it can be shared and embedded on websites.
  • Time-lapse video is another area where a robotic dock like the Galileo makes it a compelling accessory to own
  • The combination Bluetooth connectivity and app integration with TimeLapse available for $4.99 on the iTunes App Store, allows you to create time-lapse videos.
  • Personal podcasts are easier to make with Motrr’s Galileo. Motrr’s Galileo, along with the Videography app, track objects and faces that enter the scene. This eliminates the need to have a cameraperson track you in the frame or reshoot scenes when recording video solo.
  • The Galileo robotic motion platform from Motrr gives iPhone photography enthusiasts through professionals access to a wide range of new possibilities like tracking the flight of a drone automatically.
  • Price: $149.95 for the Bluetooth version and $99 for the 30-pin version– Available at the Motrr website or at BestBuy.
Using Smart Mailboxes on iOS 7
  • One of the killer additions to the Mail app in iOS 7 are Smart Mailboxes, which help organize all sent messages, messages with attachments, and more. The VIP mailbox is displayed by default, but you’ll want to tap on the Edit button on the top-right corner of the Mail app to reveal the other Smart Mailboxes.
  • If you’re familiar with the unified inbox (the inbox that shows mail from all of your inboxes), then you’re already familiar with what a Smart Mailbox can do. Standard mail folders tend to act like physical folders do: mail that you put into a standard folder isn’t available in any other folder. So if I put Patrick’s email with the lyrics of “O, Canada” into my “Patrick” folder, I won’t find it anywhere else.
  • Smart Mailboxes, on the other hand, are more like saved searches. They look for specific criteria and show all of the messages that fit those criteria in one place. Here are the various Smart Mailboxes currently available on iOS 7:
  • Flagged, VIP, Unread, Attachments, All Drafts, All Sent, All Trash
  • These are all fairly self-explanatory, and although you may not want all of them showing at once, it can be really handy to have a few of them displayed.
  • There’s also another little trick that the Mail App’s Edit button allows: folder shortcuts. Just below all of the Smart Mailboxes is a button labeled “Add Mailbox…”. Tapping on that will allow you to choose any folder from any account to display at the top level of the Mail app, alongside the Smart Mailboxes. If you’ve got a particular set of folders that you access often (e.g. Travel, Mail from Mommy, Contests I’ve Won), then you’ll probably want to set up a folder shortcut.
  • Mail in iOS 7 is now so good that it’s really my preferred iOS email client, even ousting the Gmail app for first place. I’m really happy the addition of Smart Mailboxes, and hopefully you’ll get some great use out of them, too.
Hulu Blocks VPN Users over Piracy Concerns
  • Hulu, the largest public movie and TV streaming service in the United States, began blocking VPN users.
  • The move is an attempt to prevent “pirates” from overseas from accessing videos without permission, but it is also blocking many legitimate users from surfing the Internet securely.
  • With a relatively cheap VPN subscription, people from all over the world can connect to the site via a U.S.-based IP-address and bypass its geographical restrictions.
  • In an effort to deal with these unauthorized users, Hulu has started to block visitors who access the site through an IP-address that’s linked to a VPN service. This blockade also applies to hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens.
  • Hulu’s blocklist was implemented this week and currently covers the IP-ranges of all major VPN services. People who try to access the site through one of these IPs are not allowed to view any content on the site, and receive the following notice instead.
    • Based on your IP-address, we noticed that you are trying to access Hulu through an anonymous proxy tool. Hulu is not currently available outside the U.S. If you’re in the U.S. you’ll need to disable your anonymizer to access videos on Hulu.
  • The sudden blockade hasn’t been announced publicly by Hulu, but it’s clear that the service wants to lock out all foreign users.
  • The main reason for this is most likely to please TV networks and movie outlets.
  • The problem with Hulu’s blanket ban on VPN services is that U.S. citizens are forced to give up their privacy as well. They can still watch Hulu, but not securely.