Show of 04-11-2015

Tech Talk

April 11, 2015

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Leslie in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I think that my neighbor is using my Wi-Fi connection. How can tell if he is? How can I stop it? Thanks. Leslie in Fairfax.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Leslie you can log onto your Wi-Fi router and look at the log to see which computers are using the router. You will need the user name and password for your router. It is located at one two web addresses depending on the brand: 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1. Make certain to encrypt with WPA2. 
  • The WPA protocol implements much of the IEEE 802.11i standard. Specifically, the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) was adopted for WPA. WEP used a 40-bit or 104-bit encryption key that must be manually entered on wireless access points and devices and does not change. TKIP employs a per-packet key, meaning that it dynamically generates a new 128-bit key for each packet and thus prevents the types of attacks that compromised WEP. I can hack a WEP network in a few minutes.
  • Email from Mary: Dear Dr. Shurtz, Using your recommendation, I went to pdfonline.com. I uploaded my 28 page PDF. I did not convert my document. I got this screenshot below. Can you advise another option please? I have attached the document for your review. Thanks Mary
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are right. This document would not covert using pdfonline.com. It is a long document and the process either timed-out or the document was locked. There are many free online pdf to word converters. I tried a few and this one worked on your document: https://docs.zone/pdf-to-word. Good luck.
  • Email from Alice in Wonderland: Dear Dr.  Shurtz, At home I am a mac user and kissed the pc goodbye over 2 yrs ago. Now I’m about to begin a new job where I’ll be living in the MS Office appl suite on a PC. I’m going to have to buy a pc laptop and get it loaded w/ MS Office. I will mostly be using WORD. Can you recommend a decent PC laptop brand to go with?  OR, since I much prefer macs, is there a viable way to buy a MacBook and get Windows and MS office for a PC working on it? I use MS Office 2011 for a mac but it is Different and not as feature rich as the pc version though no one mentioned that when I bought the software at the mac store…Thanks, Alice
  • Tech Talk Responds: I would not buy another machine to run Windows software. I would run Windows on your Mac. The good news is that the Macs have an Intel processor and can run Windows natively for high speed performance. You have a few recommended options.
  • A virtual machine is one of the best ways to run Windows desktop software. They allow you to install Windows and other operating systems in a window on your Mac desktop. Windows will think it’s running on a real computer, but it’s actually running inside a piece of software on your Mac. You have two paid choices: VMWare Fusion and Parallels Desktop. You can also use the free open source solution: VirtualBox for Mac. VMWare Fusion and Parallels Desktop both offer free trails. The best solution, according to the Mac pros, is the Parallels Desktop which costs $79. You will still need a licensed copy on Windows and your apps. You can run both Windows and OSX side-by-side without rebooting. However, you are not running natively and this will not perform at the highest levels for gaming and graphics.
  • If you want the highest performance, you will have to use a dual-boot system. You can either boot up in OSX or Windows. You best bet is to use Boot Camp. Thanks to the switch from PowerPC to Intel many years ago, a Mac is just another PC. Boot Camp allows you to install Windows alongside OS X on your Mac. Only one operating system can be running at a time, so you’ll have to restart your Mac to switch between OS X and Windows. You will still need to buy the Windows OS and applications.
  • The downside here is that you can’t run Mac OS X applications and Windows applications side-by-side at the same time. If you just want to run a Windows desktop application alongside your Mac applications, a virtual machine will probably be ideal. On the other hand, if you want to play the latest Windows games on your Mac, Boot Camp will be ideal.
  • You final option would be to use Remote Desktop and connect with a Windows machine at work. Many businesses have remote desktops available for their applications suites. You can run a remote desktop on any machine. We make remote desktops available for our students and staff.
  • You also have the option of running Office365 on your machine. It will cost you a small subscription fee of $5.00 a month for basic, $8.50 a month a business, and $12.50 a month for premium.
  • Email from Lilly in Virginia: Dear Doc and Jim. Occasionally the taskbar can get moved to somewhere other than where we want it. It is currently on the right side of my Windows screen. How to I get it back to the bottom of the screen. Love the show. Lilly in Virginia.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can move the taskbar to any side of the screen. Right click in an unused area of the taskbar. Make sure that “Lock the taskbar” is unchecked. Left click and hold in that unused area of the taskbar. Drag the taskbar to the side of your screen on which you want it. Release the mouse. Now right-click, and this time, ensure that “Lock the taskbar” is checked. The most common cause for taskbar migration is that the taskbar was unlocked 
  • BTW, this is a fun April fool’s joke to move the task bar and lock it on someone who is not an expert on their computer. Not that I would ever do it.
  • Email from Tung in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I take lots of photos and my iPhone is always filling up. I need a convenient way to store all of my phones. What are my options to store photos on the cloud? Love the show, Tung in Ohio
  • Tech Talk Responds: Cloud storage has become an integral part of our modern, mobile lives. Services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud and Box all vie to hold our vital data on their servers, but which one is the best for you? iCloud is of course a option for you. However, if you don’t sync properly you photos will be deleted so it is not the best permanent storage. Let me give you three options.
  • Dropbox is one of the only online storage solutions to offer clients for Linux and Blackberry, alongside the usual Windows, Mac OS X, Android and iOS standards. Plus, an official Windows Phone app was released in January 2015. The basic, free account includes 2GB of storage. You can upgrade to the 1TB plan for around $12 per month. Folders and files can also be shared with friends either by sending them links. Dropbox is an excellent, cross-platform solution.
  • Google Drive is at the heart of the various online services that Google currently offers. Free space is 15GB available when you setup your Google account.  You already have a Drive account if you use Gmail, Google Calendar, or even YouTube. The storage space is shared across all these services. Google exempts any photos below 2048×2048 resolution, and videos shorter than fifteen minutes, so you could always adjust the settings on your smartphone accordingly and get unlimited storage as they don’t count towards the 15GB limit. Data stored on Drive is encrypted in 128-bit AES rather than the 256-bit employed by Box, OneDrive, and Dropbox. With 15GB of free storage, Google Drive is the most generous of all the services in this test. If you live in the Google universe then it really is an excellent storage option.
  • OneDrive (previously SkyDrive) is similar to Dropbox, with apps available to Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and of course Windows Phone users. OneDrive offers 15GB like Google Drive. Office 365 users get 1TB of OneDrive storage as part of the monthly subscription fee. The recent updates to OneDrive help make it a competitive option, especially now that 15GB free space is offered. 

Profiles in IT: Lynda Weinman

  • Lynda Weinman is best known as co-founder of online software training web site, Lynda.com. This is used by Stratford University one its online student resources.
  • Lynda Weinman born January 24, 1955 in Hollywood, California.
  • In 1976, Weinman received a BA (Humanities) from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
  • A year after graduating, Weinman opened two retail stores, Vertigo on Melrose and Vertigo on Sunset in Los Angeles. They closed in 1982.
  • Weinman, with self-taught computer skills, worked in the film industry as a special effects animator. She worked for Dreamquest doing animation and special effects.
  • She worked on several films, including RoboCop 2 (1990), Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989).
  • Weinman attributes her initial interest in computers to her having taught herself how to use an Apple II when a boyfriend brought it home. 
  • From 1989 to 1996, Weinman taught digital media and motion graphics at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. 
  • In 1995, Weinman published her first book on designing web graphics. She has published sixteen books, all dealing with computer software applications.
  • In 1999, Weinman co-founded the Ojai Digital Arts Center in Ojai, CA.
  • In 1995, Weinman, she started the Lynda.com website. It was incorporated in 1997.
  • Lynda.com evolved from its original conception as a free web resource for Lynda’s students, to the site for her books on web design, to the registration hub for physical classrooms and conferences, to an online virtual knowledge library.
  • Lynda.com was founded in Ojai, CA and has moved to Ventura and Carpinteria, CA.
  • The Lynda.com Online Training Library teaches computer skills in video format to members through monthly and annual subscription-based plans. 
  • This is a free resource available to all of Stratford University students.
  • As of 2013, Lynda.com employs nearly 500 full-time staff members and more than 140 teachers who earn royalties from their shared revenue model.
  • The company received $103 million in venture capital funding in January 2013, led by Accel Partners and Spectrum Equity.
  • On January 14, 2015, lynda.com announced it had raised $186 million in financing, led by investment group TPG Capital.
  • On April 7, 2015, LinkedIn acquired Lynda.com in a deal worth $1.5 billion.
  • In 1999, Lynda.com and United Digital Artists Productions, Inc. co-founded the Flashforward Conferences and the Flash Film Festival. The last one was held in 2008. 
  • Weinman funded the Lynda Lab, an Experimental Effects Lab her alma mater, The Evergreen State College.
Driverless car finishes 3,400 mile cross-country trip
  • It took nine days, crossed 3,400 miles and touched 15 cities but the first coast-to-coast trip by a driverless car is complete.
  • The trek started at the Golden Gate Bridge and ended in midtown Manhattan on Thursday. It was organized by auto parts maker Delphi (DLPH) to test its automated driving technology. 
  • To comply with state laws, one person sat in the driver’s seat throughout the trip, ready to take over if necessary to avoid another car or a pedestrian. Other engineers on the team monitored data collection during the trip. 
  • Delphi said that 99% of the trip was done with the car in automated mode. 
  • The car, an Audi SQ5, was equipped with loads of autonomous driving technologies: radar, high-end microprocessors, and software to let it make human-like decisions such as exiting and entering highway traffic, navigating city streets or parking. 
  • “Along the way, the vehicle encountered complex driving situations such as traffic circles, construction zones, bridges, tunnels, aggressive drivers and a variety of weather conditions,” Delphi said in a statement. 
  • Delphi doesn’t expect to build its own self-driving car but it does want to sell these features to automakers. Some features are already being integrated into a number of high-end car models. But most automated driving tests have been conducted on test tracks or in short bursts on city streets. 
Could Autopilot have Saved Germanwings Flight?
  • The flight voice recorder aboard Germanwings Flight 9525 reportedly captured blaring cockpit alarms, warning co-pilot Andreas Lubitz to “pull up.” 
  • That was not enough to stop the aircraft from slamming into the French Alps.
  • There are new calls from aviation experts to develop and deploy enhanced crash avoidance software that could take control and steer the plane to a safe altitude.
  • The technology would work in a fashion similar to crash avoidance technology already used in automobiles. 
  • The idea is not new. In fact, more than 10 years ago, following 9/11, Airbus, the manufacturer of the doomed aircraft, was working to d?evelop aircraft crash avoidance software with tech giant Honeywell. But the project was ultimately scrapped. 
  • Former Department of Transportation Inspector General Mary Schiavo says pilots, regulators and the traveling public have, so far, not bought into claims that computers can do it better. 
  • For any situation where you are relieving the pilot’s control of their plane, there has been pushback not only from the pilots, but from airlines. 
  • There are some sectors that believe that ultimately the pilot must maintain overall control of the plane and that that is your best bet for a safe flight.”
  • Pilots’ groups point to numerous instances where a pilot’s training and perhaps unconventional thinking actually saved lives. 
  • Autopilot software could be vulnerable to hackers. They will work on the technology and therefore there will be bad people that will be able to exploit that technology. 
  • The Federal Aviation Administration rule that two people must always be in the cockpit during a flight might also have saved the Germanwings flight. 
Large Hadron Collider proton beam reaches new record energy 
  • On Easter Sunday the Large Hadron Collider circulated beams of protons again for the first time in nearly two years. 
  • This was a major milestone on the way to recommissioning the whole project for more data at higher collision energies. 
  • However, those beams were at “injection energy” of 450 GeV (energy equivalent to particles accelerated through 450 billion Volts). The LHC itself was steering and storing them, but not adding any energy.
  • On April 10, 2015, the LHC team for the first time accelerated a beam up to 6500 GeV, which is the target for this year.
  • The next big step will be to store two beams at this energy, and bring them into collision with a total energy of 13000 GeV. That’s when the new physics starts!
  • First, researchers hope to precisely measure the Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle” discovered in round one of LHC research.
  • On July 4, 2012, CERN announced that it had been able to discover the Higgs boson by data interpreting the collisions of particles. 
  • Increasing the energy of the LHC will increase the chance of creating Higgs bosons in collisions, which means more opportunity for researchers to measure the Higgs precisely and to probe its rarer decays.
  • Some theories predict that there could be a whole new set of particles out there that physicists cannot detect because they don’t interact through the electromagnetic force. 
  • These dark sector particles have mass, they will interact with the field associated with the Higgs boson. Higgs may the missing link to dark matter.
  • We can only “see” dark matter by the effect that it has on other things around it in the universe. We detect it from its gravitational effects. 
  • Another mystery researchers hope to look at in much higher energy accelerations at LHC is the question of extra dimensions. Gravity is much weaker than the other fundamental forces in the Standard Model. But why? 
  • One theory is that we don’t actually feel the full effect of gravity because part of its force is spread across extra dimensions. How can the LHC test for these extra dimensions? By searching for evidence of particles that could only exist if such extra dimensions are, in fact, real.
  • LHC researchers also hope to explore antimatter as well. Every particle of matter has a corresponding antiparticle that matches it exactly – but with opposite charge. Electrons have an antielectron (called the positron). Electrons and positrons are identical in every way – except that a positron has a positive charge.
App of the Week: Office Lens
  • Office Lens converts real-world ink into editable files
  • Microsoft released paper-scanning app Office Lens for iPhones and Android on Friday, opening one of its most popular apps to a wider world of mobile devices. Office Lens was previously available only on Windows Phone devices.
  • Office Lens uses a smartphone camera to scan business cards, sticky notes, white boards, or anything else written in real-world ink before converting them into electronic files that can be saved to the cloud or shared over email.
  • It works its neatest trick on printed documents. The app uses optical character recognition to upload text to a Word document for easy editing and keyword searches. It can also import business card text into your phone’s contact list.
  • The app has proved popular among Windows Phone users, a tiny 3% sliver of all mobile phone users.
  • It’s now available for free in the iTunes store and in preview mode for Android users. You will need a OneDrive account to save your editable files.
Gravitational Lens Creates Einstein Ring
  • Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity included descriptions of how mass can warp space-time, with one of the many theoretical consequences being the ability of masses within our universe to act as giant gravitational lenses, bending and warping light.
  • If, by sheer chance, the intervening mass is placed in exactly the right position compared to our planet, the lens will be perfectly symmetrical in bending light from an object behind it, creating a ring. 
  • Einstein thought that we’d never observe a ring because they’d be too small for even his most optimistic dreams for the future of telescopes, but that’s because he was only considering rings created by small, star-sized lenses. 
  • When galaxies or black holes mess take on the role of lenses, they can create massive Einstein Rings that are both easier to spot.
  • Galaxy SDP.81 is about 12 billion light-years away. Between us and it is a relatively-near galaxy just 4 billion light-years away that, by sheer luck, has just the right mass and distance to act as a perfect gravitational lens and amplify the light from SDP.81.
  • This allows us an otherwise-impossible look at the star-forming galaxy, helping us gain insights into how things have changed and how they’ve stayed the same over time.