Show of 08-22-2015

Tech Talk

August 22, 2015

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Michael in Boston: Dear Tech Talk. I have a Windows 7 computer with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. Sometimes my mouse and keyboard have erratic behavior. What can be done? We listen to your podcast each week. Michael in Boston.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Interference from other wireless devices is normally the problem. Bluetooth works in the same band as 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi. Your wireless network connection could be the culprit. To check turn off the wireless network on your laptop and your wireless router. Did this make a difference? It that was the culprit, you might consider using a 5.8 GHz router. Other options might be to move your router away from your computer to a different room to reduce the signal level.
  • This is also a problem with non-Bluetooth wireless mice and keyboards. They typically operate at 27 mHz. Frequently the interference is from another wireless mouse or keyboard in the same room or some nearby electronics like a Plasma TV. Move your mouse and keyboard closer to the wireless dongle to improve performance. A USB extension cable was very useful to position the wireless receiver away.
  • Email from Azra in Fredericksburg: Dear Tech Talk. I recently changed my iCloud password. Now when I send an iMessage, it looks like the message is coming from my email account instead of my phone. I opened Setting/Messages and could not find a way to change this. The phone number is not available from the menu, only my email addresss. Help. Enjoy the show live every Saturday morning. Azra in Fredericksburg.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You will need to reinitialize your Message app. First, update to the latest version of iOS. Verify that you’re using the same Apple ID. Sign out of your Apple ID on all places in your iPhone. Go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive. Tap your Apple ID, then tap Sign Out. Go to Settings > FaceTime. Tap your Apple ID, then tap Sign Out. Sign in to your Apple ID with FaceTime and iMessage. Now your phone number should be listed in iMessage. Go Settings > Messages > Send & Receive. Choose the phone number to initiate new conversations.
  • Email from Brian in Kansas: Dear Tech Talk. I have an OfficeJet 8500 and keep getting a paper jam message. I can’t find any paper jam. I need my printer and it won’t work. What are my options? Brian in Kansas
  • Tech Talk: Paper jam can be problem, particularly if you pull the paper out backwards when trying to fix a jam. In the 8500 you will need to use a flashlight to look for small bits of paper. First pull out the paper tray and look for lose paper. Then go to the back and remove the duplexer and look for paper. Open the duplexer and look for paper. If that does not work, open the printer lid an look for paper. This is where you will need a flashlight. Make certain to move the print head and look both sides. If this still does not work, remove the print heads and look again. You last option is to clean the rollers in the back of the printer with distilled water and a clear cloth. You will need to remove the duplexer in the back. If none of these work, you will need servicing.
  • Email from Tung in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I recently upgraded by laptop from Windows 7 to Windows 10. I am currently using a Sony Vaio laptop. Everything was working perfectly until the last Windows 10 update. Now my Wi-Fi will not turn on. I go to the Windows setting and the Wi-Fi is turned off and I cannot turn it on. What is the problem? Love the show, Tung in Ohio
  • Tech Talk Responds: Windows 10 apparently treats the hardware settings differently than Windows 7. It gives them more control over the operation. I suspect that Wi-Fi is turned off at the hardware level and Windows 10 will not override it, whereas Windows 7 would. You need to go to the Vaio Control Center and click on Network Connections. This will take you to the Vaio Smart Network. Click the Advance button and make certain that Wi-Fi is enabled. You might also make certain that Bluetooth in enabled at the same time. This should fix the problem. I had a similar problem with screen brightness and had to disable automatic hardware level screen brightness controls on my Sony Vaio laptop.
  • Email from Shawn in Richmond: Dear Tech Talk. I have this great program for viewing images, but no matter what I do when I double click on a picture I get Windows Image Viewer. That’s not what I want! How do I change that and make it stick? Enjoy the podcast. Shawn in Richmond.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Most programs set themselves up to be the default handler for the types of files they support when they are installed. That means when you installed whatever program it is you’re talking about, it should have set itself up to be the default picture viewer. Fortunately “file association” is easy to change.
  • What we call a “file association” is nothing more than relating a file extension – the characters of a file name after the last period in its name – to a program.
  • For example, Windows might be set up such that after Adobe Reader has been installed, “.pdf” files are associated with “Adobe Reader”. Similarly “.doc” and “.docx” files might be associated with Microsoft Word, “.xls” and “.xlsx” files with Microsoft Excel, “.txt” files with Notepad, and so on. 
  • When you double click on a file ending with one of those extensions, Windows runs the corresponding program to open the file.
  • File associations generally come from three places:
    • Windows default set. For example, Windows associates .txt files to the Windows utility “Notepad”.
    • Associations made when a program is installed. For example, installing Microsoft Office sets up the associations for Microsoft Office documents.
    • Associations we make manually.
  • You need to change your “file association” manually. In Windows, you set File Associations in the Control Panel. Open Control Panel > Control Panel Home > Default Programs > Set Associations. Select a file type in the list and click Change Program. You will be displayed a list of Programs along with a Description and the Current Default. You can click on the Change program to set or change the current defaults.
  • Email from Richelle in Falls Church: Dear Tech Talk I am considering taking an online class and am wondering whether distance education as effective as traditional classroom delivery? Enjoy the show. Richelle in Falls Church
  • Tech Talk Responds: Yes, it is if the student is mature and disciplined. The real value of online delivery is not the presentation of lecture material remotely, but rather the ability to allow the students to interact with the teacher and the other students. Threaded discussions allow the students to reason online. If the teacher can engage the students through thoughtful discussion and questions, the critical thinking within the classroom is better than in a tradition classroom because it is written. 
  • For this reason, the best delivery method is blended. The students have a classroom session with interaction, questions, and some lecture. Then they complete a challenge question online to demonstrate critical thinking in written form. This form of delivery can be effective for most students.
Profiles in IT: Guido van Rossum
  • Guido van Rossum is a Dutch computer programmer who is best known as the author of the Python programming language.
  • Guido van Rossum was born January 31, 1956 in the Netherlands.
  • He received a master’s degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Amsterdam in 1982.
  • In 1982, he was hired by the Dutch company, CWI, in Amsterdam, where he worked on the ABC programming environment for beginners, distributed operating systems, and authoring software for multimedia presentations.
  • In December 1989, he was looking for a “hobby” programming project that would keep him occupied during the week around Christmas, when his office was closed.
  • He decided to write an interpreter for the new scripting language for Unix/C hackers.
  • He chose Python as a working title, inspired by Monty Python’s Flying Circus. 
  • Python became an interpreted, object-oriented programming language.
  • In April 1995, he became  a guest researcher for the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, working at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI) in Reston, Virginia. 
  • In May 2000, he became a full-time employee CNRI doing the same work.
  • His NIST research was on mobile agents in distributed systems using interpreted languages. Most of the work involved Python. 
  • In 2000, Guido was hired by BeOpen.com as Director of Python Labs.
  • In 2003, he was hired by Zope Corporation as Director of PythonLabs.
  • In 2005 he was hired by Google, spending his time developing the Python language. 
  • While working for Google, Van Rossum developed Mondrian, a web-based code review system written in Python and used within the company. 
  • In the Python community, Van Rossum is known as a “Benevolent Dictator For Life” (BDF and continues to oversee the Python development process.
  • In January 2013, Van Rossum started working for Dropbox. Python has been a backbone of Dropbox since its early days.
  • Python has grown to become a popular programming language and is one of the most used languages at hackathons. It is a great first programming language.
  • Van Rossum received the 2001 Award for the Advancement of Free Software from the Free Software Foundation for his work on Python.
  • In 2006, Van Rossum was recognized as a Distinguished Engineer by the Association for Computing Machinery. 
  • Guido lives in Belmont, California with his wife, Kim Knapp, and their son, Orlijn.
  • His website: https://www.python.org/~guido/
Google Alphabet
  • On August 10, 2015, Google announced that it was created a holding company Alphabet and that Google would be reduced to one of its divisions.
  • Google will be a smaller version of itself under the new umbrella, focusing on core products like search, email, YouTube and Android, the company’s software that powers smartphones and tablets. 
  • The company’s moon shots like driverless cars and drones, as well as Fiber, Google’s high-speed Internet initiative — will be broken out into separate companies, with their own CEOs, managed by Google’s co-founders and the Alphabet conglomerate.
  • Starting in the fourth quarter, the company will report financials for Google on its own, as well as the rest of its money-losing enterprises — giving investors a better sense of the health of Google’s core business.
  • The restructuring gives investors a better sense of what the company spends on “moon shots” like smart contact lenses.
  • Alphabet will report finances for Google’s core products separately from the moon shots like self-driving cars and computer-connected contact lenses, meaning shareholders can get a general sense of the costs for Google’s more out-there projects.
  • Giving CEO titles for the independent divisions means Google can reward top talent, especially as they become more in-demand from other tech companies.
  • Sundar Pichai, a trusted Page lieutenant, who was promoted to Google’s new chief executive as part of the restructuring. He has been considered for other CEO positions and this change will keep him at Google.
  • Google’s Life Sciences is the first group to graduate to a standalone entity. Previously part of Google X, it will now be a wholly owned subsidiary of Alphabet. Andy Conrad would act as Life Sciences CEO. Day to day, nothing will change:
  • They’ll continue to work with other life sciences companies to move new technologies from early stage R&D to clinical testing and transform the way we detect, prevent, and manage disease.
  • While at Google X, the team now working for Alphabet invented a glucose monitoring contact lens meant to help diabetics monitor blood sugar levels.
Qualcomm to Enter Drone Market
  • With growth in the smartphone market leveling off, chipmaker Qualcomm is looking at consumer drones, especially those used for photography. 
  • Adding to the cost and bulk of today’s consumer drones are the multiple chips needed to handle photography, navigation and communications.
  • By using one chip, Snapdragon 800, Qualcomm believes it can cut hundreds of dollars from the price of entry-level photography drones.
  • Qualcomm plans to formally announce its drone effort and share more details September 2015.
  • The company has been meeting with some of the leading drone manufacturers and providing samples of its chip package. It also recently acquired a flight software company to boost its capabilities in the area.
  • Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 820 could have even more advanced features around collision avoidance and geofencing.
Losers of the Week: Cybersecurity Firm Hired for Hillary’s Email
  • The Denver-based IT firm, Platte River, was hired by Hillary Clinton to oversee her private server in 2013.
  • They said that they would never have taken it on’ if they knew the future.
  • They believe that it is highly likely that there a backup of emails she deleted.
  • “We’re normal people. We’re not used to this,” the firm said, referring to the death threats and “phone calls from screaming strangers” that his company, Platte River Networks, has received in the past week.
  • Winning the Clinton contract in 2013 was initially perceived as a victory for the company, which until then had mostly served clients in and around Denver.
  • The company, which had never had a federal contract before being hired by the former secretary of state Clinton, “is not cleared” to have access to classified material, said Cindy McGovern, chief public affairs officer for the Defense Security Service.
  • The FBI is investigating whether sensitive information passed through Clinton’s private server while she served as secretary of state, and if any of it was still stored on the server while it was under Platte River Networks’ oversight.
  • So far, authorities say they have found more than 60 emails containing classified information, not including two emails discovered by the intelligence community’s inspector general, Charles McCullough III. 
  • Cybersecurity expert Alex McGeorge of Immunity Inc. believes that ultimately, if classified information was ever mishandled, the onus is on Clinton, not on the IT firm.
  • Last week, Platte River’s attorney said the server was “blank” when it was transferred to federal agents. Federal agents are reportedly confident they can recover at least some of the deleted files.
  • Clinton’s unusual email system was originally set up by a staffer during her 2008 presidential campaign, replacing a server used by her husband, former President Bill 
Idea of the Week: Airbnb for RVs’
  • Have you ever wanted to take an RV on a camping trip without having to actually own an enormous vehicle? 
  • Do you own a $90,000 RV that spends 11 months of the year languishing in your driveway? Then the startup for you has just gone live.
  • Outdoorsy emerged from its beta stage in California and launched nationwide in August 2015.
  • The company is a  a community-driven marketplace for renting RVs directly from local RV owners, making sure everyone has access and opportunity to get outdoors.
  • The company currently has 2,300 RVs listed on the site, with about 75 more being added each day. Options range from low-end models for $65 a day to high-end models for $650 a day.
  • The average RV owner is only out and about in their land cruiser for three weeks out of the year. That makes RVs available for the sharing economy.
  • Outdoorsy takes a cut from the RV lender, about 15%, and they charge the renter a service fee of about 10%. 
  • Much like Airbnb quasi-trains their hosts in how to treat and please their guests.
Company That Blocked Wi-Fi Hotspots Fined $750,000
  • The Federal Communications Commission has fined Smart City Holdings $750,000 and ordered it to stop blocking visitors’ mobile hotspot Wi-Fi at its various convention centers across the country.
  • Smart City is the telecommunications arm of the holdings company that provides connectivity to Walt Disney World, 30 major U.S. convention centers, and three NFL stadiums.
  • According to the FCC, Smart City had been blocking convention attendees’ personal mobile hotspots, while charging them money to use Smart City’s Wi-Fi. 
  • Normally, Smart City charges exhibitors and visitors $80 per day to use its Wi-Fi. If its monitoring system detected an attendee attempting to use a mobile hotspot to connect to the Internet, Smart City would automatically block users from access.
  • Smart City said it provides Wi-Fi access to nearly 31 million users per year in public spaces. The company argued that major convention centers and federal agencies employ the same hotspot-blocking technologies.
  • This is the second time in less than a year that the FCC has enforced anti-blocking orders on commercial Internet providers, according to the release. In October, it fined Marriott International, Inc. and Marriott Hotel Services, Inc. $600,000 for a similar offense at its Nashville convention center.