Show of 07-18-2015

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Robert Taylor in Amarillo: Hey Doc!  I still enjoy your show even thought I am all the way down here in Amarillo, Texas.  Recently several friends and I went on a motorcycle ride for a week in the mountains of Colorado.  During the trip everyone took several photos.  All of us live in different areas of the State of Texas, Dallas, Houston etc., hundreds of miles apart.  I have been searching for a way for us to share our photos.  I would like to have one place that everyone could upload photos too and then be able to download all of them that were contributed.  So far I don’t see anything that allows this, everything seems only to allow one person to upload and then share with others.  Are you aware of anything, free would be best, that would allow us to do this?  Thanks and as always you guys are the best! Robert Taylor (Yes, that Chief of Police in Amarillo)
  • Tech Talk Responds: Flickr is a good option. You can create a group for group sharing. Many families just use Facebook and make it private for their group. Facebook has excelled in private group photo sharing. DropEvent is a third option. You can create your event and determine whether you want to approve photos before they are added, and if adding photos is invite only or open to the general public. If invitation only, you can then invite your friends to the group and they have the ability to upload their photos.
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Dear Doc and Jim. On July 14, 1992 Lynne and William Jolitz released 386BSD, beginning the Open Source Operating System Revolution. Linus Torvalds releases his Linux soon afterwards. This is an historical date to remember. Arnie, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks Arnie. This is a great suggestion for a future Profiles in IT duo. The release of 386BSD as open source was important for the Unix community as ATT was divesting themselves of this operating system because of anti-trust rules. This inspired Torvalds to release his open source UNIX port called Linux. 386BSD was also the basis of Apple’s OS X.
  • Email from Betty in Oakton: Dear Doc and Jim. My Gmail account was recently compromised and I was able to recover access to it and changed my password? Is changing my password enough. What else should I do? Love the show. Betty
  • Tech Talk Responds: While someone else has access to your account, they have access to everything related to that account. As a result, changing your password just isn’t enough. You need to do more.
  • Most systems also provide a mechanism whereby you can recover or reset your password should you forget it. They use a variety of means, but they all boil down to the same thing: they use one or more additional pieces of information – often referred to as recovery information – to validate that you are who you say you are, and thus entitled to regain access to the account.
  • It’s that recovery information that presents the greatest risk once your account has been compromised.
  • For instance, Gmail an “alternate” email address. This email address can be used to reset the password. Make certain that it has not been changed to someone else’s account. Some sites also have challenge questions like your mother’s maiden name, the name of your first pet, or your favorite teacher. Reset all of those answers because the hacker may have changed them. Some systems can use a mobile phone for password reset by sending you a text message code. Make certain that this phone number has not been changed. You should also consider increasing the security of your account by adding two-factor authentication to prevent future hacks, as well as setting up any single-use or pre-defined recovery codes for those systems that support it.
  • Email from Judy in Tampa Bay: Dear Tech Talk. A friend of ours recently passed away and his wife cannot access any of his accounts and does not know his passwords. How should this have been managed to make it easier. We enjoy listening to the podcast here in Tampa Bay
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is becoming a bigger problem each year as we become more dependent on computers. This type of disaster planning is at direct odds with conventional security wisdom. On one hand, we say “never share your password with anyone”, but on the other hand, that’s almost exactly what you must do in case something were to happen.
  • Once you have someone you trust, what is it, exactly, that you give them? Password managers also help. A good one is Lastpass. Keep the information in your Lastpass vault up-to-date. You do this simply by using it every day, normally. Make sure you record the Lastpass master login ID and password into a file that you also keep secure. You can share that information with someone you trust and then then have all your passwords. If you lose trust in them, just change your Lastpass password.
  • Most websites now provide death policies. For instance, these are Facebooks policies.
  • If Facebook is made aware that a person has passed away, they will memorialize the account. Memorialized accounts are a place for friends and family to gather and share memories after a person has passed away. Memorializing an account also helps keep it secure by preventing anyone from logging into it. They can’t provide login information for someone else’s account even under these circumstances.
  • Verified immediate family members may request the removal of a loved one’s account from Facebook.

 

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Profiles in IT: Satoru Iwata

  • Satoru Iwata was a Japanese game programmer who served as the fourth president and CEO of Nintendo. He was the inspiration behind Wii.
  • Satoru Iwata was born on December 6, 1959 and raised in Sapporo, Japan.
  • He expressed interest in the creation of video games early on, and began producing electronic games using an electronic calculator during his high school years.
  • Iwata received his first computer, a Commodore PET, in the late 1970s. He immediately took it. The PET used a same CPU as Nintendo’s Famicom console.
  • Iwata was admitted to the Tokyo Institute of Technology in computer science.
  • While attending the school, he was an unpaid intern at Commodore Japan, assisting the subsidiary’s head engineer with technical and software development tasks.
  • He also did freelance work as a programmer for HAL Laboratory, Inc.
  • In 1980 after graduating, Iwata joined HAL Laboratory as its fifth employee.
  • He became the company’s coordinator of software production in 1983 and positioned HAL so they could produce games for Nintendo’s Famicom system.
  • With the company near bankruptcy, Iwata was promoted to president of HAL in 1993 and helped to turn the company around and strengthening ties to Nintendo.
  • Although not part of Nintendo, Iwata assisted in the development of Nintendo’s Pokémon Gold and Silver, released for the Game Boy Color in November 1999.
  • At the same time, he helped program Pokémon Stadium for the Nintendo 64.
  • He joined Nintendo as its head of corporate planning in 2000 and succeeded Hiroshi Yamauchi as the company’s president in May 2002.
  • He was the first Nintendo president who was unrelated to the Yamauchi family through blood or marriage.  Iwata continued to help out at HAL as a consultant.
  • Iwata used a "blue ocean" strategy to help Nintendo successfully compete against the other console manufactures: instead of trying to match hardware specs.
  • Iwata felt that the gaming industry was becoming too exclusive, and wanted to develop hardware and games that would be appealing to all players.
  • Iwata inspired Nintendo DS (touch screen) and Wii (accelerometers). The release of the Wii in 2006 helping to nearly double the stock price of Nintendo.
  • He pushed for the release of Brain Age, a brain training game to reach a new audience. Ultimately Brain Age sold nearly 20m copies, with its sequel close behind.
  • Barron’s included Iwata on their list of the 30 top CEOs from 2007 to 2009.
  • Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, were not as successful as the DS and Wii, and Nintendo’s finances took a downward turn in 2009. Iwata voluntarily cut his salary in half.
  • In 2015, Iwata put part of Nintendo’s focus on mobile games, creating a partnership with mobile provider DeNA to publish Nintendo game titles.
  • On July 11, 2015, Iwata died at the age of 55 due to complications from a tumor.

 

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Underground USB Network in Cuba

  • In a country nearly devoid of Internet access, the weekly distributors of El Paquete create a window to online content.
  • In Cuba, the Internet is, for the most part, only available at some professional jobs, in foreigners’ homes, and in expensive hotels.
  • El Paquete is a business that gives locals access to content from the Internet, offline, thanks to an army of human middlemen and thousands of flash drives.
  • Many vendors sell the content packet in booths. Just tell them what content you want and they will download it to your thumb drive.
  • You can get "movies," "music," "videos from Cuba," "applications," and "video games."
  • The company distributes the content each week for just the cost of the hard drive. It makes it money of the ads that it places within the content. Distributed each make a cut like in the drug trafficking business.
  • El Paquete allows Cuban people to access content that would never be found on official media outlets, even if it’s nothing more subversive than the latest episode of House of Cards.
  • It is not a static library of files, but a weekly updated resource that includes some of the same living resources that you might find on the Internet.

Gmail Undo Feature is Official

  • Google has finally rolled out the Undo feature, after being in beta for years.
  • Undo Send is currently off by default for all users and should you wish to activate it, you need to go toward the General tab in your Gmail settings and turn the feature on.
  • Undo Send lets users quickly recall an email they have just dispatched. Once you hit the send button, the Undo Send option provides you a set time period that you selected from between five seconds to thirty seconds.
  • The feature is quite a life-saver for users who accidentally press the send button in a hurry or decide to change their minds and not to send the email at all.
  • Often times you would have realized that the email you sent contained typos or required minor tweaks to make it read better.
  • The Undo Send feature was introduced to the Gmail Labs section back in 2009.

Another Social Engineering Trick

  • This social engineering trick makes breaking into email accounts easy
  • We’ve all heard of phishing attacks, but a new type of social engineering hack that uses your mobile phone to trick you is a little scarier.
  • The idea is simple: if you want to reset someone’s password, all you really need is their mobile number.
  • Send the victim a text from an unknown number, warning them that they’re about to receive a code to ensure their Google account is secure and asking them to reply with the code to confirm.
  • Trigger the Gmail password reset process, which sends a message containing an unlock code to the registered phone.
  • They send you the code. You unlock their email account and take it over.

Why did the NYSE Crash?

  • The New York Stock Exchange crashed Wednesday at 11:32 a.m. ET and remained down for exactly 3 hours and 38 minutes.
  • It caught many traders off guard and raised concerns of what was happening behind the scenes that might have caused the “technical glitch.”
  • The NYSE now explained  that it was caused by the rollout of a new software release.
  • The exchange was prepping for a July 11 industry test that’s on the horizon, which will test the platform’s SIP timestamp requirement. The software update was rolled out to one trading unit–the standard practice.
  • But, as investors started logging on Wednesday morning, a series of communications issues popped up between customer gateways that investors use to connect to the NYSE and the trading unit using the new software.
  • The gateways failed because were not loaded with the proper information needed to work in tandem with the release.
  • The NYSE updated the gateways with the correct version of software and opened for trading as usual at 9:30 a.m.
  • The update didn’t go as planned and the communication issues proliferated, causing the exchange to send out a message that a technical issue was being investigated at 11:09 a.m. ET before suspending all trading at 11:32 a.m. ET.
  • The NYSE then went about canceling all open orders as well as working with customers to reconcile orders and trades, while restarting all customer gateways and implementing a complete system restart after consulting with regulators and industry peers.
  • After that, the NYSE got everything back up and running by 3:10 p.m. ET.
  • NYSE vehemently denies that it was hacked, as many initially suspected.

New Horizons Views Pluto Up Close

  • The planet Pluto, and its sister planet Charon, were viewed up close for the first time by the NASA New Horizons Spacecraft as it flew by on July 14, 2015.
  • Traveling about 36,373 mph (a little under 10 miles per second), this spacecraft was the fastest spacecraft ever to leave Earth.
  • This mission was possible because the radionuclide Pu-238 generates power far out in space where solar energy is too weak and chemical energy is too heavy.
  • Plutonium powers the flight to Pluto, poetic justice since Pluto was demoted.
  • Pluto’s entire atmosphere freezes out and condenses onto the surface when it gets near its farthest point from the sun. Pluto’s highly elliptical orbit brings it in and out over a billion miles closer to the Sun each Plutonian year.
  • Pluto has a variety of ices in its crust, not just water and methane ice. There are geologic features on both small planets that indicate crustal motion and not just mere passive cratering of a dead surface.
  •  There are mountain ranges on Pluto, chasms as large as our Grand Canyon on Charon, and some areas on both worlds with no craters, indicating extreme youth and geologic activity.
  • Cryovolcanoes, liquid nitrogen geysers, and other active geologic processes have already set Pluto and Charon apart from other icy bodies orbiting the giant planets of the outer Solar System, especially as the heat source for such activity is not immediately obvious.
  • Pluto and Charon are actually a double planet system. Charon itself shows complex geologic features as well as Pluto. Pluto’s other moons are not planets, but small iceballs or pieces of older planets captured by Pluto.
  • The Pu-238 is encased in a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). The RTG provided about 200 W, 30 V DC.
  • Pu-238 will now power the New Horizons spacecraft as it flies into the Kuiper Belt where thousands of small planets slowly circle the Sun.