Show of 10-10-2015

Tech Talk

October 10, 2015

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from James Messick: Dear Tech Talk. My ISP doesn’t currently impose bandwidth caps, nor does it tell me how much bandwidth I’m using. Between computers, Roku, Ooma, smartphone and data usage I know that I use a lot of data and I would like to know how much. My current router, provided by my ISP, does not provide statistics so I am considering purchasing my own router. I believe the Google OnHub does provide information on bandwidth usage by device, but at $200 is a little pricey. Can you recommend another router or solution? Thanks, James Messick, Kernersville, NC
  • Tech Talk Responds: I have never seen a router that does not provide usage statistics. I would check your current router again. Frequently, this is hidden is the advanced section of the router.
  • If all you want is a simple router, Google’s OnHub is not worth it. It is their entry into the home automation arena. The device has a 2.4Ghz 3×3 array and a 5GHz 3×3 array, as well as an auxiliary 2.4Ghz 1×1 array that exists solely for monitoring network congestion. The OnHub also receives automatic security updates. It has only one gigabit Ethernet input, one gigabit Ethernet output, one power port, and one USB port (which is currently disabled). In addition to the Wi-Fi radios, there are also two additional home automation-oriented radios: a Bluetooth radio and a ZigBee/Thread radio. Both will be activated in future firmware releases. The device has an ambient light sensor in the device as well as a 3 watt speaker (both for home automation). It does not have a microphone. It is running a Chromebook-like operating system.
  • Email from Alice Lane: Thanks for answering winmail.dat question. How long does it take to have the transcript posted to the Tech Talk radio website? Maybe you can alert me when that is posted or send me the steps or audio of how you solved this. Thanks so Much! Alice Lane
  • Tech Talk Responds: Alice, the show is usually posted on Monday morning, sometimes on Tuesday morning is I am particularly busy.
  • Email form a Loyal Listener in Bethesda: Dear Dr. Shurtz. Our federal contracting firm is about to hold a job fair in a VA city where recently won work will need qualified applicants to fill the open positions. Since I suspect Stratford has seen some IT Job Fairs if you can direct me to a list of tips for how to Hold A Great Job Fair and get the candidates you want to come to it I’d be so grateful. Thank You. A Loyal Listener in Bethesda
  • Tech Talk Responds: We have lots of job fairs. We just had one at our Alexandria campus with over 400 attending. You agency could attend our job fairs too. If you want to find out about how we do them you can contact Career Services at our Alexandria Campus.
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Dear Dr. Shurtz. Computers, iPads & iPhones are funny things. The email I sent you (below) re apps not in “purchases” is not true today for some reason. I can see the apps purchased & deleted in my iPad purchases today. Don’t know what happened. They were not there yesterday & they are there today. Thanks, Arnie, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: Arnie, Apple has been deleted apps from the purchased area if they are removed by Apple for service violations or for malware like XcodeGhost.
  • Kenneth C. Hutchison on Facebook: Could you please list the sites for learning code here, in addition to listing them in the outline? Ken
  • Tech Talk Responds: Ken, I didn’t see your Facebook post last week. I have posted the information to the Facebook page now. The show outline is normally posted Monday morning.
  • Email from Hac in Vietnam: Dear Tech Talk. I downloaded three separate ‘check drivers’ programs. Each program identified seven drivers as being outdated. However, my Device Manager says they’re OK. It’s been very difficult to find the drivers, and if they are outdated I will have to purchase one of the driver programs. Do I need to update these drivers? If so, how do I find the sites to download? Love the show. I am listening via the Internet from Vietnam. Hac in Vietnam
  • Tech Talk Responds: I don’t like this type of program. They tell you need a driver and then charge you for it. It’s a scam. I never user them.
  • Device Manager will not tell you whether or not a device driver is out of date – that’s not its job. What it tells you is if the device driver is installed and working at some basic level. You can go the driver tap and click update. It will search the web for an updated driver. I have done that when I have a specific problem with my computer.
  • What is a driver? As you know, Windows is designed to work with all sorts of hardware, even hardware that might not exist yet. The way Windows manages to do this is that programs are written to use a fairly generic, albeit complex, interface. When you set up the machine, or install new hardware, software translates those generic instructions into whatever the actual hardware on the machine requires. That low-level software that directly controls your hardware device is called a device driver, or just “driver” for short. The important thing to realize is that drivers are software and specific to the hardware they’re designed for. Like any software, they can have bugs and security vulnerabilities. That means every so often they need updates.
  • If the drivers were installed with Windows itself, then there’s a good chance Windows Update will tell you if an update is needed and handle the update for you. You may need to look at the “Optional Updates” that are offered along with the critical or important updates, and that’s the most practical place to look first.
Profiles in IT: Sivaramakichenane Somasegar
  • Sivaramakichenane (Soma) Somasegar was the Corporate Vice President of the Developer Division at Microsoft and the driving force behind the MS development center in India.
  • Soma Somasegar was born August 13, 1966 in Pondicherry, India. His friends call him Soma.
  • His father was a technician in a hospital and mother a homemaker. They struggled to put him through school and college.
  • In 1986, Somasegar received a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering from College of Engineering, Guindy of Anna University, in Chennai, India. 
  • Upon graduation, Somasegar was picked by the Indian Space Research Organization, as a research scientist. He turned down the job, shocking his parents and grandparents.
  • He enrolled at Louisiana State University (LSU) in computer science and received his MS in Computer Science (specializing in in parallel processing) in 1988.
  • He then enrolled in the PhD program in computer engineering at State University of New York in Buffalo. 
  • Just before moving to Buffalo, he sent out about a 100 résumés to various recruiters and one of them was Microsoft. He had only completed one year of his program, when MS hired him.
  • In 1989, Somasegar joined Microsoft and was assigned to the operating system group.
  • He thought he would work for a few years and make $100K return to Pondicherry.
  • Somasegar was having too much fun at Microsoft developing operating systems to leave.
  • By March 2000, Somasegar was a Vice President. He had worked on eight versions of operating systems leading up to Windows 2000, XP and Windows Server 2003. 
  • His management style of never showing his anger, the opposite of Steve Balmer. 
  • In mid-2003. Eric Rudder, a long-time Microsoft leader, offered him the chance to head the developer tools division. 
  • In December 2003, he took up the job and has been pushing an open and transparent style of management at the division. Rather than just push finished tools out the community, he would involve developers with early versions and seek feedback. He felt the earlier a product is released the more robust the product will become.
  • He was responsible for engineering and marketing for developer tools and services, programming languages and runtimes for a broad base of software developer teams, including the Visual Studio, .NET Framework, and Team Foundation Server. 
  • Somasegar also led developer evangelism efforts spanning the full array of Microsoft platforms. His team owned MSDN (MS Development Network) and TechNet online properties to enable a deep connection with the developer and IT professional audiences.
  • In 1997, Soma proposed the first remote development center for Microsoft in Hyderabad. The office started in 1999 with 20 engineers, now has over 1,400. The center manager was handpicked by Soma. Soma was ultimately responsible for centers in India, China, and Israel.
  • By 2008, he held the title Senior Vice President.
  • In February 2008, he was presented the Asian American Engineer of the Year Award.
  • In October 2015, Soma announced that he was leaving MS to pursue other options.
  • His hobbies are racquetball and reading. His favorite MS product is Visual Studio. His favorite non-alcoholic drink is Virgin Pina Colada. He is a vegetarian.
  • Somasegar lives in the Seattle area with his wife and two daughters.
Three Ways that Steve Jobs Made His Meeting Productive
  • Here are three ways Jobs made meetings very productive.
  • He kept meetings as small as possible
    • One those contributors could attend.
    • He was ruthless and ask anyone else to leave.
  • He made sure someone was responsible for each item on the agenda
    • At the core of Job’s mentality was the “accountability mindset” — meaning that processes were put in place so that everybody knew who was responsible for what.
    • Internal Applespeak even has a name for it, the “DRI,” or directly responsible individual. Often the DRI’s name will appear on an agenda.
  • He wouldn’t let people hide behind PowerPoint
    • Jobs hated formal presentations, but he loved freewheeling face-to-face meetings.
    • Every Wednesday afternoon, he had an agenda-less meeting with his marketing and advertising team. Slideshows were banned because Jobs wanted his team to debate passionately and think critically, all without leaning on technology.
    • People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.
Deep Dive: Harnessing Big Data on the Web
  • Christopher Re, a computer scientist at Stanford University, has created a program called Deep Dive to organize unstructured data.
  • He has been named one of 24 MacArthur Foundation 2015 ‘genius grant’ award winners, announced on September 29, 2016.
  • Re developed an artificially intelligent program called Deep Dive that makes sense of hidden information that Re calls “dark data” — unprocessed information stuck in tables, illustrations, and images — which is difficult to quantify or keep track of.
  • Re’s programs can improve on their own with machine learning and can be integrated into existing database systems. The programs are available to everyone to use, prompting the MacArthur Foundation to write that Re is “democratizing big data analytics.”
  • He’s building a data-processing system that is open for anyone to use for anything, from tracking down human traffickers to analyzing genes.
  • The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (also known as DARPA) is using it to seek out the secret details of human traffickers on the dark web. That data is then used by law enforcement to track down human traffickers.
  • It’s also been used by paleontologists to create a database of every fossil that’s ever been found, and by scientists at Stanford Hospital to find associations between genes and diseases.
  • “DeepDive was a project that we started a couple years ago basically in response to what we called macroscopic problems — problems where the information for a particular analysis is out there scattered throughout the literature,” Re said.
Selfies now kill more people per year than sharks
  • It turns out that not paying attention to one’s surroundings is far more deadly to human beings than sharks.
  • A 66-year-old Japanese man visiting the Taj Mahal Royal Gate tripped and tumbled down some stairs while attempting to take a selfie. His head injuries lead to unconsciousness and death. 
  • A 21-year-old woman was posing with a gun for a selfie when she accidentally shot herself in the head. 
  • A Spanish man who tried to get a picture of himself during a bull running and was gored to death.
  • In Russia, injury due to selfies is becoming such a serious problem that the government has started a public service campaign cautioning young people against taking selfies near trains, on rooftops, or in the presence of dangerous animals. 
  • We’ve had 8 shark deaths so far this year, but we’ve had 12 selfie deaths. 
  • Major tourist locations including Disney theme parks and Comic-Con have started banning selfie sticks. They are dangerous on rides.
Big Idea of the Week: 3D-printable Ice House on Mars
  • One of the challenges of building a habitat on Mars is going to be materials.
  • Transporting enough materials to build shelter will add to the shuttle payload, so a plan for a shelter can be built from materials that are already available on Mars would be really useful.
  • To solve this problem, one designer turned to a substance that has been the topic of much speculation and research about Mars: ice. 
  • Their Mars Ice House is a its 3D-printed frozen habitat using an iBo Robot crawler.
  • Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office was awarded first prize and $25,000 in NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge.
  • The translucent ice construction of the conical habitat would allow natural light to enter the space. Meanwhile, because water provides a highly effective radiation shield, it would protect the inhabitants from radiation that’s stronger on Mars than Earth due to its thinner atmosphere.
  • The habitat’s construction consists of an outer ice shell, with the habitat inside, for a double layer of protection. Inside the habitat, which has multiple levels, private and communal spaces are provided, as well as vertical hydroponic garden facilities for supplementing the crew’s oxygen and food supplies.
  • The habitat would be built on a section of Mars that is known to have access to an ice table at a shallow depth of less than a foot beneath the surface, as well as a climate that maintains temperatures below freezing year-round. 
  • In order to protect the ice structure from sublimating, a membrane of reinforced plastic, manufactured on Earth and deployed by the Mars lander, would coat the exterior. An artificial interior atmosphere with higher pressure would keep the ice inside from sublimating too.
App of the Week: Improve Detroit
  • More than 10,000 problems fixed through ‘Improve Detroit’ cell phone app 
  • It’s not easy for Detroit workers to find and fix thousands of problems that exist in the city.
  • But that has changed with the introduction of the cell phone app, Improve Detroit.
  • The app allows users to easily alert city hall to potholes, illegal dumping sites, abandoned cars, water main breaks, busted traffic signals and broken hydrants.
  • In the six months since Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration launched the app, more than 10,000 problems have been fixed, city officials said today.
  • About 6,500 people have downloaded the app since it became available in April. According to the city, the app has helped:
    • Clean up more than 3,000 illegal dumping sites.
    • Repair 2,092 potholes.
    • Shut off running water to 991 abandoned structures.
    • Remove 565 abandoned vehicles.
    • Repair 506 water main breaks.
    • Fix 277 traffic signal issues.
  • The Improve Detroit app  was the brainchild of Mayor Mike Duggan, who is making government more accountable.
  • Residents have long complained about city hall ignoring litter and broken utilities. But the app has provided a more transparent and direct approach to fixing problems.
  • Since Duggan took office, the city also launched an app called “Detroit Police Connect,” which provides up-to-date information on the police department and ways to contact police anonymously.
  • The city also launched “DDOT Bus,” an app that provides riders with real-time location, movement and arrival times of buses