Show of 06-13-2015

Tech Talk

13 June 2015

Best of Tech Talk Edition
  • Segments replayed from previous shows
Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Benoit in New Jersey: Dear Doc and Jim,  I have an iPhone 4s and Verizon is my carrier. I love my iPhone4s but it has this annoying issue of disconnecting the data stream when I am using the phone. This is particularly frustrating when I drive: If I receive a phone call while using Waze. This is a fantastic GPS app that was a Tech Talk recommendation. Is there something I am doing wrong or is it a limitation of. Verizon or my phone? Thanks, Benoit, a regular listener from New Jersey
  • Tech Talk Responds: Benoit, I have good and bad news for you. The bad news is that this feature is not available for iPhone 5 and older devices. 
  • The good news is that you can get it if you upgrade. If you’re a brand-new owner of Apple’s iPhone 6 or 6 Plus on Verizon, then the cell phone carrier has some good news for you. Great news, actually, given how long its iPhone users have been waiting for a way to talk on their smartphones and access their data connections at the same time. 
  • The carrier has officially launched its Voice over LTE service (VoLTE). If you’re using one of Apple’s latest devices on Verizon, you’ll now be able to browse the Web and play around with apps while you talk—assuming the former isn’t too distracting for the latter. 
  • In addition to simultaneous voice and data, Verizon’s new “Advanced Calling 1.0” upgrade allows iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users to enjoy what Verizon’s describing as “HD Voice.” The tweak runs audio on frequencies more matched to the human voice and uses double the audio samples of a normal call to better reflect the nuances of the voice on the other end of the line. It’s also completely free for Verizon users to take advantage of, so long as their smartphones support the feature.
  • Email from Tina in Ohio: Dear Tech Talk. Sometimes when I take pictures, part of the scene is very bright and the rest is very dark. This is particularly true if I am taking pictures of someone in front of a window. Is there a simply way to fix with problem with my iPhone5s camera. I hate bad party pictures. Love the show. Tina in Ohio
  • Tech Talk Responds: I have good news for your party pictures. Your iPhone5 has something called High Dynamic Range (HDR). When you open your camera, you will see HDR on the top of the screen. Click on HDR and you will have a choice (Auto, On, Off). I leave mine of Auto. By the way, HDR is disabled when you use flash. Now what is HDR? The camera will automatically take three photos with the exposure bracketed. Some exposures will be optimized for the highlights; some for the shadows. Then the camera will merge these pictures into a composite photo automatically.
  • Note that it takes longer to take an HDR photo than a regular one since it has to capture three separate images at different exposures. Therefore, it’s important to hold your iPhone very still or mount it on a tripod while taking HDR photos. It’s also important that your subjects are not moving while the photo is being taken – if they’re moving they may appear blurred.
  • In general, the iPhone’s built-in HDR is rather weak. If you want to get a stronger HDR effect, you have to use a dedicated HDR app. My favorite and the App Store bestseller is Pro HDR X, which costs $1.99 to download. It’s a really great app for HDR photography, with a variety of shooting and editing options, and it’s very easy to use.
  • Email from Feroze in Fredericksburg: Dear Doc. I have heard to talk a lot about your drone. I am thinking of buying a drone to take photographs on vacations. What are the legal limitations? How much do they cost? It sounds like fun, but I don’t want to get arrested. Love the show. Feroze in Fredericksburg
  • Tech Talk Responds: Individuals flying for hobby or recreation are strongly encouraged to follow safety guidelines, which include:
    • Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
    • Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
    • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
    • Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
    • Don’t fly near people or stadiums
    • Don’t fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs
    • Don’t be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft.
  • The final regulations are still being developed. Many Federal parks have banned the use of drones. They cannot be used in DC near the White House or on the mall.
  • You may want to join the DC Area Drone User Group (DC DUG), an organization for amateur and professional drone users that seeks to promote the responsible use of flying robots for community service, artistic, entrepreneurial, and recreational purposes. It has nearly 2,000 members. They meet at least twice a month.
  • I own a DJI Phantom2 Vision drone. I paid around $1,200. My unit is now available for only $730 on Amazon. It is a quadcopter with integrated camera (14MP photo, 1080p video, stabilizer gimbal). It will fly to around 1,000 feet. It has GPS and altimeter. It flies itself. I just move the set point. The prices are dropping quickly.
  • Email from Fredrick in Alexandria: Dear Doc and Jim. I am trying to get a job and IT and keep sending out my resume to companies and am getting nowhere fast. I have a BS in computer science with a good GPA. I don’t have any experience and most jobs require experience. I am tired of living in my parent’s basement. What are my options? Love the podcast. 9am Saturday morning is too early for me to listen. Thanks, Fredrick in Alexandria
  • Tech Talk Responds: Frederick, you need to complete some tech projects. Now one ever said that your experience had to be paid. Set up a webserver; install VM Ware and set up a virtual Linux machine with Apache web service; create a database driven website with PHP and MySQL; write an app for the iPhone or Android; create an Oracle database using the student (free) version. Join user groups and go to meetings. Talk about your projects. Read the current literature on the web; subscribe to industry rags.  In other words, act like a professional in your desired field. This will give you something to talk about in an interview. It will also put your resume on steroids. Finally, you may just meet your future employer while you network. Get a copy of What Color is Your Parachute and follow Dick Bolles’ networking advice. Great question and don’t give up. The fact that you ask this question means that you thinking about your predicament in the right way.
  • Email from Tuc in Chantilly: Dear Tech Talk. I got a laptop last year. I use it to record songs. I have a high quality microphone for an audio input. Here is my problem. The virus protection that came with the laptop has expired and I don’t want to spend more money to renew it. The software that is installed on my machines seems to slow it down and I would like something faster. What are my options for free anti-virus and anti-malware software?  Thanks, Tuc in Chantilly
  • Tech Talk Responds: Tuc, the good news is that you have many free options. According to PC Magazine’s 2015 roundup for free AV, your top three options are (listed by ranking): Panda Free Antivirus 2015; Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (2014); Malwarebytes. I personally like Malwarebytes. Get this installed immediately. Don’t surf the web until you are secure.
  • Email from Lois in Kansas: Dear Tech Talk. I am confused by the specifications given to me by my ISP. I want to figure out the download and upload speeds of my connection. They only give them something called bandwidth. What is this? Where the band and what is the width? Love the podcast. Lois in Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: ‘Bandwidth’ describes the rate at which data can be transferred to your computer from a website or internet service within a specific time. Therefore the amount of bandwidth you have (the bandwidth ‘strength’) determines the efficiency and speed of your internet activity. Bandwidth is generally measured in ‘bits per second’ or not ‘bytes per second’. 
  • The name comes from Fourier analysis. The more frequencies that are transmitted in a certain frequency range (or band), the higher the information content. Think of a piano keyboard. The complexity of the music increases as the number of keys increase. In the beginning bandwidth had a specific technical definition. It has become corrupted to just mean data transfer rate because more frequencies in the band allow more zeros and ones to be transmitted.
Profiles in IT: Raymond Samuel Tomlinson
  • Website: www.raytomlinson.org
  • Born in Amsterdam, NY in 1941, he invented email in 1971 at age 30.
  • He received a BS from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1963 and an MS from MIT in 1965 where he developed an analog-digital hybrid speech synthesizer.
  • He wrote his first computer program in 1960 as an intern for IBM
  • In 1967 he joined the technology company of Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN).
  • During the summer and autumn of 1971, he was part of a small group of programmers who were developing a time-sharing system called “TENEX” that ran on Digital PDP-10 computers, which serves as node in the ARPANET.
  • Earlier, he had worked on the Network Control Protocol (NCP) for TENEX and network programs such as an experimental file transfer program called CPYNET.
  • He was making improvements to the local inter-user mail program called SNDMSG.
  • The idea occurred to him that CPYNET could append material to a mailbox file just as readily as SNDMSG could.
  • It remained to provide a way to distinguish local mail from network mail.
  • He appended an @ sign and the host name to the user’s (login) name.
  • The first message was sent between two machines that were literally side-by-side.
  • His pet peeve: email versus e-mail. The hyphen should be dumped!
Nerd – History and Other Thoughts
  • Linus Torvalds is quoted as follows: I was a nerd. Geek. From fairly early on. I didn’t duct-tape my glasses together, but I might as well have, because I had all the other traits. Good at math, good at physics, and with no social graces whatsoever. And this was before being a nerd was considered to be a good thing.
  • Bill Gates the richest nerd. The New Yorker wrote: “To many people, the rise of Bill Gates marks the revenge of the nerd. Actually, Gates probably represents the end of the word nerd as we know it.
  • Charles J. Sykes is quoted as saying: “Be nice to nerds. Chances are you will end up working for one.”Nerd is used a derogatory designation to refer to somebody who passionately pursues intellectual knowledge rather than engaging in social activities.
  • Variations of the name include Nurd. Derived by spelling drunk backwards, since nerds party backwards by only studying.
  • The word “nerd” first appeared in Dr. Seuss’s book, If I Ran the Zoo (1950).
    • Nerd was one of Seuss’s imaginary animals.
    • The narrator Gerald McGrew claims that he would collect “a Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too” for his imaginary zoo.
  • Nerd Pride Day is May 25. Started in Spain in 2006. We overlooked it last month.
  • Slashdot (www.slashdot.org) motto: “News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters”
  • Being a nerd is now hip. Made popular by the world’s wealthiest nerd, Bill Gates.
  • How nerdy are you?
  • Nerds are now even datable. Check the Internet for all the reasons that nerds are worth dating.
Beach Gear for the Geek
  • Solar Powered Laptop
    • Laptop of choice
    • Two 30-watt solar panels
    • Voltage regulator
    • Reserve battery (optional)
    • $600-$800 for solar power
    • Suggested web site: http://www.ctsolar.com/
  • Wi-Fi Internet access
  • Solar Umbrella (alternative power)