Show of 01-31-2015

Tech Talk

January 31, 2015

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Azra in Fredericksburg: Dear Doc and Jim. I just got a new Mac Air Laptop and am having trouble saving my world document. I can find the save menu from the word processor. I know it is a simple solution, please help. I also have created a large number of video clips of my grandchildren and would like to organize them into a movie. What are my options? Love the show, Azra in Fredericksburg
  • Tech Talk Responds: When you are using your word processor, you are probably in the full screen mode so that you have more area in the document draft area. Just hit the escape button to leave the full screen mode. The menu should appear at the top of the screen. When you want to find the files again, use the Mac Finder (the smiley face icon in the tray on the left)
  • As for organizing your movie clips, you can use iMovie. It is a free app that you can download from the app store. Collect your entire clips one place. iMovie will allow you to browse, watch, and make into a movie. Just choose the clips you want to use. Insert titles, add effects, and create a full soundtrack with tools that are as easy as drag and drop. Good luck with your production. By the way, you can share this movie with your grandchildren by uploading to the cloud with Dropbox and sending them a share link.
  • Email from Jessica in Ashburn: Dear Tech Talk. I heard to you talk about printing to an HP Printer, which does not have AirPrint capability, using the iPhone app HP ePrint. This printer app is not a native app and can only print documents, other than photos, that are stored on the cloud. It cannot use the print function within other apps. Is there a way to print natively to you HP printer? That would be so much more convenient. Love the show. Jessica in Ashburn, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: There is a way to print natively. However, it will cost some money. You will need an AirPrint server. I love the Lantronix xPrintServer, which is available for $90 from Amazon. It plugs into your router using an Ethernet cable and is the size of two iPhones sitting on top of each other. It supports two wireless printers and as many USB printers as you can put on a hub. I couldn’t get the wireless printer function to work with my Verizon router, but the USB printer port functioned perfectly. I am still tinkering with the router configuration to get the wireless print function to work. You can get an office edition, which will support an unlimited number of wireless printers, for $180 from Amazon. This is by far the most elegant solution that I have found.
  • Facebook post from Ken Hutchison: I just listened to your pressure analysis of a football. You quoted the Gay-Lussac’s law, was found by Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac in 1809. It states that, for a given mass and constant volume of an ideal gas, the pressure exerted on the sides of its container is proportional to its temperature. Doesn’t the temperature have to be measured in degrees Kelvin for the formula to work? You only quoted degrees in F. Ken Hutchison.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Ken, you are correct. The temperature in that law must be in degrees Kelvin. I must have been in autopilot last week. I went back and check my calculations. Let’s assume that the ball as filled to 12.5 psi at 70 F (294.261 K). The question is: What temperature drop is required to lower the pressure to 10.5 psi? The answer is 10.211 F below zero (249.699 K). In other words, an 80 F drop in temperature would be required, rather than the 40 F that I calculated last week.
  • The conclusion is still the same. A drop in temperature to 50 F (delta 20 F) could not explain the pressure change. Thanks for listening so closely to the show.
  • Email from Arnie McKechnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz, this article is in line with what you said about temps and pressure in footballs on Tech Talk. Arnie in Crownsville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for listening Arnie. Conclusion correct, but calculation was wrong.
  • Email from Carl Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: Could you explain how computer forensics experts go about finding out how hackers gained access to the Sony corporate date? Also could you explain how a computer forensics expert goes about finding out where the attacks came from?  How do they backtrack to find out where the “smoking gun” is located? Is a computer forensics degree something that is offered by Stratford University? Loyal podcast listener, Carl Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: You take all of the hard drives out of service and search them for Indicators of Compromise. You search the logs of all network infrastructure devices for evidence of penetration from the outside. The IP address of external traffic can be an indicator or who did the attack. However, with the advent of proxy routers, this is not a reliable method, unless the hackers are amateurs. 
  • For instance, the FBI has chronicled “destructive malware used by unknown computer network exploitation operators and has issue Indicators of Compromise.”
  • This malware has the capability to overwrite a victim host’s master boot record (MBR) and all data files. The overwriting of the data files will make it extremely difficult and costly, if not impossible, to recover the data using standard forensic methods. The FBI memo lists the names of the malware’s payload files—usbdrv3_32bit.sys and usbdrv3_64bit.sys.
  • WIRED spoke with a number of people about the hack and have confirmed that at least one of these payloads was found on Sony systems.
  • Four samples of the malware, including one that was used in the Sony hack and was uploaded to the VirusTotal web site. VirusTotal found the samples using the “indicators of compromise,” mentioned in the FBI alert.  The sample uploaded contains a hard-coded list that names 50 internal Sony computer, as well as log-in credentials it used to access them. The file used in the Sony hack was compiled on November 22. 
  • The FBI has independently hacked the North Korean servers and found evidence of the Sony hack on their servers. They must have had help from insiders to acquire this detailed level of information. 
  • Stratford has a Cyber Security Master’s Degree, which includes some forensics. We do not currently offer a forensics degree.
  • Email from Alice in Wonderland: Dear Dr Shurtz, I want to start a small business and need a low cost website. I found a company that will build it for free and then charge me $114 per month to host it. My friends tell me that this is a rip off. Squarespace advertises easy to use templates with  hosting rates as low as $8 to a high of $24 a month. Jumpline (the one I use) starts at $4.97 a month.
  • So, though I respect the importance of having a website I actually don’t see the ROI of spending a lot to get this up. Since I don’t have any training in website building I don’t know what I’m potentially missing by choosing this approach. The site will need to be about 10 pages total. What is your opinion? Squarespace, Godaddy or Jumpline. Appreciate your thoughts. Best, Regular Sat show listener and fan! Alice in Wonderland
  • Tech Talk Responds: I would use a hosting service with a web builder template. In the past, I have used Network Solutions to help a friend build a website. Godaddy seems to have a good template service and they are price right too. Pictures are important. Don’t simply steal them from someone else. I recommend getting your photos form iStock photos. They are cheap with unlimited licensing and quite good. It will take you a few days to figure out the the template. Remember this is graphic design and that white space is as important as text. Visual impressions will drive customers. You are creating an online brochure. You to secure your domain and select a hosting company with good templates.
Profiles in IT: Charles Hard Townes
  • Charles Hard Townes was an American inventor best known for his invention of the laser, which is now used for fiber optic communication and DVD players.
  • Charles Hard Townes was born in Greenville, S.C., on July 28, 1915.
  • Charles graduated from the Greenville high school in 1931, when he was 15. 
  • He from Furman University in Greenville in 1935 with two Bachelor degrees at 19.
  • At Furman, he majored in physics and modern languages, was curator of the college museum and a member of the band, glee club, swimming team and newspaper.
  • He received a MS in Physics from Duke 1937 and a PhD from Cal Tech in 1939.
  • He joined Bell Labs in 1939 at its Murray Hill, N.J, working on wartime radar bombing and navigational systems. He later studied radio astronomy and microwave spectroscopy as a means of controlling electromagnetic waves.
  • In 1948, he was named the executive director of the Radiation Laboratory at Columbia. Two years later, he became a full professor, and from 1952 to 1955 was the head of Columbia’s physics department. 
  • He was interested in molecular structures and the behavior of microwaves as a way to measure time with unprecedented accuracy.
  • While sitting on a park bench in Washington in April 1951, pondering how to stimulate molecular energy to create shorter wavelengths, he conceived of the maser, for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
  • Theorists like Niels Bohr and John von Neumann doubted that it would work. Other Nobel laureates, who competed for funding, tried to stop him, but he persevered.
  • He and two graduate students built his maser in 1953 and patented their creation. 
  • Five years later, Dr. Townes and Dr. Schawlow, his brother-in-law, drew a blueprint for a laser. They called it an optical maser and through Bell Labs they secured the first laser patent in 1959. Despite their Bell Labs patent, they profited little.
  • He directed research at the Institute for Defense Analyses from 1959 to 1961, became provost at MIT in 1962, joined the UC Berkeley in 1967, retiring in 1986.
  • In 1964, Dr. Townes and two Russians shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on masers and lasers, which have transformed modern communications, medicine, astronomy, weapons systems and daily life in homes and workplaces.
  • Over six decades, Dr. Townes developed radar bombing systems and navigation devices, advised presidents and government commissions on lunar landings and the MX missile system, verified Einstein’s cosmological theories, discovered ammonia molecules at the center of the Milky Way and created an atomic clock that measured time to within one second in 300 years.
  • Besides more than 125 scientific papers, he wrote “Microwave Spectroscopy” (1955, with Dr. Schawlow) and two memoirs, “Making Waves” (1995) and “How the Laser Happened: Adventures of a Scientist” (2002).Townes died January 27, 2015 in Oakland, CA, at age 99.
100th Anniversary for First Transcontinental Call
  • January 25th marks the 100th anniversary of what is often called the first transcontinental phone call, made by Alexander Graham Bell, in New York, to his assistant Thomas Watson, all the way out in San Francisco. 
  • The phone call also included President Woodrow Wilson, who was in the White House, and AT&T president Theodore Vail in Georgia. 
  • The first ceremonial transcontinental phone line opened on Jan. 25, 1915. 
  • Of course, the actual first transcontinental phone call probably took place the year before, historians agree, after the phone line was completed for testing. 
  • The 1915 call was part of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition that year — a celebration of the Panama Canal’s completion and a showcase of the newly revitalized San Francisco, which had been decimated by a 1906 earthquake and fire.
  • It was a heavily scripted conversation, one designed to bring in publicity for the achievement, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. 
  • The only genuine moment came when Bell first asked Watson, “Are you there? Do you hear me?” 
  • Bell was also the man behind the very first phone call of all time Bell was also the man behind the very first phone call of all time, which took place on March 10, 1876 — 39 years prior to the transcontinental conversation. 
  • That phone call was also made to Bell’s assistant, Watson. “Mr. Watson, come here,” Bell is reported to have said. “Come here. I want to see you.” AT&T built the coast-to-coast telephone system, which included 130,000 telephone poles and 2,500 tons of copper wire that spanned 3,400 miles, according to the company. 
DJI Drones Will Be Disabled over DC
  • Following the crash of one of its Phantom drones at the White House, Chinese drone maker DJI will reportedly be disabling its units from flying over the DC area. 
  • According to the FAA, it was already against federal regulations to fly in that region, not to mention the fact that the pilot told the Secret Service he was drinking.
  • DJI previously stated to The Verge that it programmed its drones to stop flying when they reached a certain distance from airports. 
  • Using the GPS, DJI can track a drone’s position at all time and establish which zones are off limits. But this would mark the first time DJI is preventing flight over a metro area.
  • “DJI will release a mandatory firmware update for the Phantom 2, Phantom 2 Vision, and Phantom 2 Vision+ to help users comply with the FAA’s Notice to Airmen, which restricts unmanned flight around the Washington, DC metropolitan area,” the company wrote in a press release this morning. “The updated firmware (V3.10) will be released in coming days and adds a No-Fly Zone centered on downtown Washington, DC and extends for a 25 kilometer (15.5 mile) radius in all directions. Phantom pilots in this area will not be able to take off from or fly into this airspace.”
  • DJI also said “the restriction is part of a planned extension of DJI’s No Fly Zone system that prohibits flight near airports and other locations where flight is restricted by local authorities. These extended no fly zones will include over 10,000 airports registered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and will expand no fly zones to ensure they cover the runways at major international airports.”
  • The drone industry is actually in agreement with Obama that more regulation is needed. Congress is on board as well, as evidenced during a recent hearing.
  • On another note: The FCC recently announced on January 28, 2015, that drones can’t be flown within a 30-mile radius of the Super Bowl stadium.
Imaginary Digital Boyfriend
  • Invisible Boyfriend, the new service that invents a boyfriend to deceive your pestering family and friends.
  • When you sign up for the service, you can design a boyfriend (or girlfriend) to your specifications. You pick his name, his age, his interests and personality traits. You tell the app if you prefer blonds or brunettes, tall guys or short, guys who like theater or guys who watch sports. 
  • Then you swipe your credit card for $25 per month and the imaginary man of your dreams starts texting you.
  • Except … the man on the other end isn’t imaginary. He’s a real human person, texting multiple women, contorting himself to carefully match each one’s specific expectations and fantasies.
  • You can actually carry on a conversation via text.
  • One woman became so attached to her imaginary boyfriend. She was falling in love with him.
  • The invisible boyfriend is actually boyfriends, plural: The service’s texting operation is powered by CrowdSource, a St. Louis-based tech company that manages 200,000 remote, microtask-focused workers. 
  • When you send a text to your imaginary boyfriend,  the message routes through Invisible Boyfriend, where it’s anonymized and assigned to some Amazon Turk or Fivrr freelancer.
  • But falling in love with a digital surrogate could happen. 
  • There are many stories about couples carrying on “relationships” exclusively via Second Life, a sort of fictional, virtual world. One Second Life couple even met and got married in real life (RL).
Super Bowl Will Be Played Under LED Lights
  • The University of Phoenix Stadium, where the Super Bowl 2015 is being played, recently upgraded over 780 metal halide fixtures with 44,928 Cree XLamp MK-R LEDs. 
  • The LED lights need only 310,000 watts of power, compared to the 1.24 million watts required by the metal halide bulbs. That is a 75% reduction is power.
  • The LED fixtures also produce nearly double the illumination of the old metal halide bulbs, and run at full intensity as soon as they’re switched on. 
  • If you remember the infamous Super Bowl blackout from a few years ago, it takes almost 20 minutes for metal halide bulbs to warm up and reach their full intensity.
  • The bulbs also promise more life-like and uniform lighting during the big game.