Show of 08-29-2015

Tech Talk

August 29, 2015

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Lilly in Fairfax: Dear Doc and  Jim. Why am I getting a delay notification on an email I sent? I am trying to send an e-mail to a co-worker and I keep getting the following message:
    • Delivery Status Notification (Delay). This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification. THIS IS A WARNING MESSAGE ONLY. YOU DO NOT NEED TO RESEND YOUR MESSAGE. 
  • The strange thing is that it is only happening with that specific e-mail address. What does it mean, and why it is happening? Enjoy the show. Lilly in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: Email uses a transfer method called “store and forward.” When you send an email, it’s received by a mail server, stored for some period of time, and then forwarded to the next server in the path on its way to your recipient. Eventually it is received by the recipient’s mail server, where it’s stored until the recipient downloads it, or reads it online. The time that a server holds your message before forwarding it is typically very short, which is why email often appears to be nearly instant. There could be any number of delays along the email’s path to your recipient. The most likely delay is that recipient’s mail server is temporarily offline. Rather than fail to deliver the email, your mail server keeps trying to pass the message along and send you a delayed delivery message. It keeps trying for around five days, then is stops and sends you a Failed Delivery message. If you message is urgent, you might try calling them.
  • Email from Nhan in Atlanta: Dear Tech Talk. I recently upgraded by laptop to Windows 10. It forced my use my Microsoft for login. I don’t like. How do I switch back to a local account sign-in for Windows 10? Enjoy the podcast here in Atlanta. Nhan.
  • Tech Talk Responds: The Windows 10 set-up and upgrade process encourages you to associate your computer with a “Microsoft account”, and use it to sign in to the computer from then on. Many people find this near-requirement inconvenient, and even a potential invasion of privacy. They would prefer, instead, to continue to use a local machine account for signing in.
  • It’s fairly easy to return your sign-in to a more familiar “local machine account”.
  • Click on the Start button and then click on Settings. In the resulting settings application, click on Accounts. Above “Your picture”, the picture associated with your account, is a link to “Sign in with a local account instead”. Click that. For security, you are asked to provide the password to your Microsoft account. Enter that and click Next. On the following page, you’ll set up your local account sign-in name, password, and password hint. Enter the information you want to use to sign in from this point onward, and click Next. You’ll be presented with a summary. Click on Sign out and finish to sign out of your computer. Sign back in using your new local machine account and password.
  • Email from Alex: Dear Tech Talk. I have heard that Windows 10 uses some kink of peer-to-peer downloads. Is that true? If so, is it safe? And what about the extra bandwidth that it uses? Love the show. Alex in Richmond
  • Tech Talk Responds: Windows 10 peer-to-peer sharing (or MS calls it “delivery optimization”) is a technology used to make updates quicker and more reliable. It can speed up downloads significantly. It’s most commonly associated with BitTorrent, which uses peer-to-peer to create a network of download sites that are efficient, resilient, and potentially difficult to track down
  • Now, Windows 10 is using peer-to-peer technology as part of its approach to distributing updates. Peer-to-peer file downloading – or more correctly, file sharing – takes advantage of the fact that once you’ve downloaded the file, you can potentially also make your copy available to others. If they are closer than the server, or if the server is being slow, it may be faster for them to get the file from you, instead of the master copy. Your computer, which has the file, and the other computer, which wants it, are “peers.” By making your copy of the file available for others to download, you’re engaging in peer-to-peer file sharing. It uses your internet connection, even after the file has been downloaded, in order to share what you’ve downloaded with others. This can impact your internet speed as you use it for other things. To turn off peer-to-peer file sharing. Click on the Start menu, and then Settings. In the resulting window, click on Update & security. Then click on Advanced options. In the Advanced Options page, click on Choose how updates are delivered. You can turn the feature off entirely by sliding the on/off control to the Off position. Or you can leave it on and only share locally, which is what I am doing.
  • Email from Tung in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I am trying to call my friends in Vietnam. I would like use a cheap Internet connection. What are my options? Love the show. Tung in Ohio
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are a number of voice-over-IP options. If your friends also have Internet access with data, the ca is completely free. If they don’t have a data connection, you will have to call either their landline or their mobile phone connection. You can use Skype on either a laptop or on your cell phone. Skype client to skype client is a free call. If you use Skype to call a phone number in Vietnam is around 10 cents a minutes. This is called Skype Out and you will have to put money into your prepaid account. I like to use Viber on my iPhone. If your friends have Viber and they have data access, it will automatically ring and the call will be free. You can also Viber Out to a phone number for the same price as Skype. I my case I have Ooma which is a VoIP phone system for the house. I have place about $30 in a prepaid account. If I call overseas, the Ooma rates are automatically at the low VoIP rate and I don’t have to do anything special. When I travel I used Viber whenever I have Wi-Fi access. Internal calling through the Telco’s is dying fast.
  • Dear Tech Talk. I keep seeing this option to eject my USB drive before removing it. Is that really necessary or can I just pull it out. Enjoy the show. Jim in Michigan.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Computers use something called write caching to improve performance: if you copy something to your drive, it’ll tell you it’s completed the task, but it’s actually waiting until it has a few other tasks to perform so it can do them all at once. When you press eject, your PC finishes anything in the queue to make sure you don’t incur any data loss. Windows does a better job of avoiding problems than OS X and Linux, but we recommend ejecting all your drives anyway. It is worth keeping your data safe.
Profiles in IT: Nathaniel S. Borenstein
  • Nathaniel S. Borenstein  is a computer scientist best known as creator of the MIME protocol for e-mail attachments.  MIME stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. It is the official Internet standard that defines the way that multimedia objects are labelled, compounded, and encoded for transport over the Internet.
  • Nathaniel S. Borenstein was born September 23, 1957 in Ohio
  • He was a child prodigy, reading adult books at the age of 2 and doing college work in the 3rd grade, before being restricted to studies at his own grade level in 4th grade.
  • In 1973, with the help of the ACLU, he became the first US student to be awarded damages for violating his freedom of speech by sending him home from school in 1972 for wearing a black armband on the anniversary of the Kent State shootings. 
  • Borenstein received a B.A. in Mathematics and Religious Studies from Grinnell College in 1980. Grinnell was actually the fourth college he attended.
  • He received a PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1985.
  • While at CMU, he co-developed the email component of the Andrew Project. 
  • The Andrew Message System was the first multi-media electronic mail system to be used outside of a laboratory.
  • In 1989 he became a member of technical staff at Bell Communications Research.
  • While at Bell, he developed a series of standards so the various electronic mail systems could exchange multimedia messages in a common way. 
  • He wrote five Requests for Comment (RFC), all related to MIME email attachments. 
  • He sent the first email attachment on March 11, 1992. The first attachment was a song, Let Me Send You Email, sung by the Telephone Chords barbershop quartet.
  • Link http://www.guppylake.com/nsb/audio/LetMeSendYouEmail.wav
  • In 1994, Borenstein founded First Virtual Holdings, called “the first cyberbank” by the Smithsonian. It was later acquired by DoubleClick.
  • In 2000, he found NetPOS, a web-based point of sale system.
  • In 2002, he was hired as a distinguished scientist by IBM, in Cambridge, MA.
  • In 2010, he became chief scientist at the email company, Mimecast, in London.
  • Color blind from birth, he developed a device that allows the color blind to see color. He calls is Amplifeye Vision. He is currently raising money through crowd sources to produce the device. Amplifeye Vision Website:  http://www.amplifeye.vision/site/
  • He is author of Programming As If People Mattered: Friendly Programs, Software Engineering, and Other Noble Delusions (Princeton University Press, 1994)
  • Borenstein lives with his wife, Trina, in Ann Arbor and Greenbush, Michigan; they have four grown daughters, and three grandchildren. 
  • His official blog: http://blog.mimecast.com/author/nborenstein/
  • His personal blog: http://theviewfromguppylake.blogspot.com/
Tip of the Day: Remove “Sent from my iPhone” from Email
  • The default signature in iOS Mail is “Sent from my iPad” or “Sent from my iPhone.” 
  • Some may prefer to provide other information, such as the name of the sender and additional contact information.
  • To edit your iPhone’s default email signature, go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Signature. Tapping on All Accounts will allow you to set one signature for all your email accounts. Tapping on Per Accounts will allow you to set different signatures for each individual account—which is handy if you use your iDevice for work and personal emails. 
  • Tap on the default signature to edit it, and then delete the default text and type in the information you want to appear at the bottom of your emails instead.
Panono
Device of the Week: Ball-shaped Camera for 360° photography.
  • Jonas Pfeil has created a ball shaped camera using funds from an Indeigogo campaign. 
  • The Panono Explorer Edition will ship in September, and when it does it’ll be the highest-resolution still camera you can buy. 
  • The 360-degree images it captures will technically be 108-megapixel photos — stitched together from the array of 3-megapixel lenses that dot the exterior of the ball.
  • The camera is about the size of a grapefruit, plastic exterior is sprinkled with small, slightly indented lenses, and it has rubberized green trim.
  • On one of the ball’s poles there’s an LED and a trigger button; on the other is a cap that covers the microUSB port and connector for a removable handle. 
  • Its handle lets you capture photo spheres without throwing the ball.
  • The Panono itself has 16GB of storage, but those 108 MP pics fill it up quick. It’ll hold only about 600 photos. The camera is built to connect with an app that relays the photos to the cloud. You can then use the accompanying app to view the photos. The camera isn’t actually drop-proof yet.
  • The Explorer Edition costs $1,499, a little pricey, with a consumer version for $599. 
  • Website: https://www.panono.com/
Happy 20th Birthday: Windows 95
  • On August 24, 1995, Bill Gates officially released Windows 95. The operating system featured a graphical user interface, along with a task bar and multitasking support, and it introduced the Start button to launch applications. 
  • Microsoft pulled out all stops, including having comedian Jay Leno share the stage with Gates. The company paid to use The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” for the ad campaign.
  • Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates tried to dance to the Rolling Stones at the launch event. It was a pathetic display.
  • Microsoft sold some 7 million copies in just five weeks.
  • Microsoft has just released Windows 10, and it could mark another turning point for the PC.
  • It remains to be seen if consumers will embrace Windows 10 as they did Windows 95.
70% Police Departments Use License Plate Readers
  • As many as 70 percent of local U.S. police departments already use license plate reader systems. 
  • The technology first pioneered by the UK in the 1990s to fight Irish Republican Army terrorism has since become popular among U.S. law enforcement, mainly for the purpose of tracking down stolen vehicles. 
  • Police departments are discovering that the technology, combined with growing license plate databases, can also rapidly identify suspect vehicles in the vicinity of a crime or help figure out the centers of criminal activity such as “chop shops” dealing in stolen vehicles.
  • The systems use both infrared and visible-light cameras to scan surrounding areas for license plates on passing cars, as well as character recognition software that can read and identify the plates. 
  • Such systems can then compare license plate information with a “hotlist” of plates related to criminal activity to determine if it should send an alert to a human police officer along with a photo of the suspect vehicle.
  • One police officer in Montgomery County, Md. used the license plate reader technology to scan more than 48,000 vehicles in 96-hour periods across 27 days, enabling the officer to issue 255 traffic citations, identify 26 drivers with suspended licenses, catch 16 vehicle-emissions violators, find four stolen vehicles, and identify one expired license plate.
  • License plate readers from US $10,000 to $25,000 per vehicle-mounted unit, or up to $100,000 for bridge mounted fixed sites. 
  • Police departments must also have the computer servers and other IT infrastructure to support the database “hotlists” of license plates. 
What is the Darknet?
  • Based on the book Future Crimes by Marc Goodman
  • The Internet is more than Facebook, Amazon, and Instagram. There is a hidden part of the web known as the Deep Web.
  • Google indexes no more than 16 percent of the Web and misses all of the Deep Web.
  • Much of the Deep Web’s unindexed material lies in mundane data­bases such as LexisNexis or the rolls of the U.S. Patent Office. 
  • But the Deep Web contains a hidden world, a smaller but significant community where illegal activity thrives. Welcome to the Dark Web or Darknet.
  • Things You Can Buy
    • Drugs. The Silk Road, now-closed, did $200 million of business in 28 months.
    • Counterfeit Currency. Six hundred dollars gets you $2,500 in fake U.S. notes.
    • Forged Papers. Passports, driver’s licenses, citizenship papers, fake IDs, college diplomas, immigration documents, are available from Onion Identity Services. A U.S. driver’s license costs approximately $200, while passports from the U.S. or U.K. sell for a few thousand bucks.
    • Firearms, Ammunition, and Explosives. Handguns and C4 explosives are available. Vendors ship their products in specially shielded packages to avoid x-rays.
    • Hitmen. Service providers advertise “permanent solutions to common problems.” For everything from private grudges to political assassinations, they accept bitcoin.
    • Human Organs. Kidneys get $200,000, hearts $120,000, livers $150,000, and a pair of eyeballs $1,500.
  • Enabling Technologies
    • Cryptocurrency. Digital cash, such as bitcoin and darkcoin, and the payment system Liberty Reserve provide a convenient system for users to spend money anonymously.
    • Bulletproof Web-hosting Services. Web hosts in places such as Russia or Ukraine welcome all content, make no attempts to learn their customers’ true identities, accept anonymous payments in bitcoin, and ignore subpoena requests from law enforcement.
    • Cloud Computing. By hosting their criminal malware with reputable firms, hackers are much less likely to see their traffic blocked by security systems. Estimates claim 16 percent of the malware and cyberattack channels originated in the Amazon Cloud.
    • Crimeware. Less skilled criminals can buy all the tools they need to identify system vulnerabilities, commit identity theft, compromise servers, and steal data. 
    • Hackers for Hire. Organized cybercrime syndicates outsource hackers-for-hire. China’s Hidden Lynx group boasts up to 100 professional cyberthieves.
    • Multilingual Crime Call Centers. Employees will play any role you, such as providing job and educational references, wire transfers, and unblocking accounts. Calls cost around $10.
  • How to Access the Dark Web’s Wares
    • Anonymizing Browser. Tor—short for The Onion Router—is one of several software programs that provide a gateway to the Dark Web. Tor reroutes signals across 6,000 servers to hide a page request’s origin, making it impossible to trace. It uses secret pages with .onion suffixes—rather than .com—only accessible with a Tor browser.
    • Secret Search Engines. In mid-2014, a hacker created Grams, the Dark Web’s first distributed search engine, which allowed would-be criminals to search for drugs, guns, and stolen bank accounts across multiple hidden sites.
    • Criminal Wikis. Carefully organized wikis list hidden sites by category, such as Hacks, Markets, Viruses, and Drugs. Descriptions of each link help curious newcomers find their desired illicit items.
    • Hidden Chatrooms. A network of invitation-only chatrooms and forums, hidden behind unlisted alphanumeric Web addresses, provides access to criminals.