Show of 11-21-2015

Tech Talk

November 21, 2015

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Fan in Bethesda: Dear Dr. Shurtz, Ever since I installed Apple’s new OS on my iMac my computer has slowed down and become unresponsive. It is driving me nuts. Should I uninstall this? I don’t even know how to do it. Thanks! Bethesda Fan of show
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are several reasons that cause your Mac is running slow.
  • Your hard drive is getting full. Nothing slows down a Mac more than having too much on your hard drive. If you can lighten the load on your Mac, you’re sure to see an increase in speed. The best option is to use a Mac cleanup tool, like CleanMyMac3. It cleans up your entire Mac, the easy stuff and the hard stuff. It knows what to clean and where to clean, and is incredibly safe to use2. Outdated OS X.
  • Broken Permissions. If for some reason your Mac is running slow after update, don’t panic. It could happen that disk permissions are broken. You can repair them with CleanMyMac3. Download the app and go to Maintenance tab, click “Repair Disk Permissions.”
  • Startup is slowing you down. When you start your Mac, a lot of things load up in the background. Not only do they slow down your startup, but they continue to do so the whole time you’re on your Mac. Give your Mac a clean start. Get a fast Mac startup by removing unnecessary apps. Go to your System Preferences > Users & Groups, and then click on your username. Now, click on Login Items, click on the name of an application you don’t need to launch during startup. Remove the application from the list.
  • Too much running in the background.  Activity Monitor will help out. Quitting an app that’s taking up a lot of processing power could make a huge difference in speeding up your slow Mac. Open up your Applications folder and then your Utilities folder. Here you’ll find the Activity Monitor, open it. Check out the list of apps and processes that happening on your Mac in real-time. Click on the Memory tab at the top, then the Memory filter at the top of the list; this sorts the programs by the amount of space they’re taking up on your Mac RAM. The higher the number, the more power they need. Stop an app from operating by clicking on the app in the list. Don’t remove anything you don’t know!
  • You’ve got old hardware. Your Mac may just be too old to fix. When your Mac hardware gets too old, your speed drops drastically and you can do little to fix it without taking some serious measures.
  • Email from Alice: Dear Dr. Shurtz, I listened on Sat, Nov 14 to the review you gave on LinkedIn.  Thanks so much for the education on this. There remains an issue I’m not clear about that I hope you can address. With all the various paid for subscriptions offered on LinkedIn now, my research on which one(s) include full access to any/all profiles, regardless of the default position of your 3rd degree of connectivity, has turned up one subscription:  Recruiter Corporate which is the most expensive subscription offered. Is there another option? Best, Alice
  • Tech Talk Responds: Full access is the most valuable thing that LinkedIn possesses and they must charge for it. You can get a free 30 day trial, but after that you’ll have to pay. You can also connect with individuals not in your network with InMail (a paid LinkedIn mail service). This may be cheaper depending on the number of InMails you send.
  • Email for Phuong in Australia: Dear Doc and Jim. I listen to your show on the podcast. My hard drive is about to fail and needs replaced. When I replace my hard drive, will I need to install a new operating system? Is there a way to clone my current hard drive completely including my operating system? What is the best way to save my existing files if I can’t salvage my entire hard drive? Are there software programs that can help me do this? Thanks. Love the show. Phuong in Australia.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Using backup software, create a full-image backup of your machine. Use an image backup tool like Macrium Reflect. After to have successfully imaged you hard drive, create the “rescue disk” or “emergency disk” for your backup software. Turn off your machine, unplug it, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacing the failing hard drive. After you put your machine back together again, reboot, using the emergency/rescue disk you created with your backup software. Now, use that software to restore your backup image to the new hard drive. When that’s done, you can remove the emergency disk and reboot, and you should be up and running as if nothing had happened, except you’ll be running from your replacement hard drive. 
  • It is common for replacement drives to be larger than the original. Most backup programs will restore the layout of the hard disk exactly as it was on the original drive. What that means is that there’s a chance all the extra space on the new drive will go unused. You can use Windows Disk Manager to create a new partition out of the unused space, which will appear as a new drive letter or you can use Windows Disk Manager to extend an existing partition (ideally your C: partition), making that partition larger. 
  • Email from Tung in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. My son installed BitTorrent on the house computer. This program slowed my computer down so much that I could not get online. I found out that as it was downloading, it was also uploading with unlimited bandwidth. I could not find any information on what it was uploading. I dislike P2P because of past experience with them, virus, spyware and the feeling I am stealing from the programmer. This program was promptly uninstalled. Is there any legitimate use for P2P programs? Love the show. Tung in Ohio.
  • Tech Talk Responds: I had the same problem with my son. Peer-to-peer is a fantastic technology that is getting smeared with a bad reputation because of how some people choose to use it. There are many legitimate uses for peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) programs like BitTorrent. Peer-to-peer shares the load when downloading programs. Many open source projects are downloaded using peer-to-peer. The fundamental concept is that once a computer downloads a file, it begins to share it with others who need it. There is no “master” distinction; all the computers are equal “peers”, and any that have a copy of the file can offer that file to any other computer looking for it. A peer may open connections to several other peers, each downloading separate parts of the file all at once. This typically makes much better use of bandwidth than a single straight download. The moment any part of the file has been downloaded, that part can be immediately shared with other peers who don’t have it yet.
  • The reason that peer-to-peer file sharing has a bad reputation is not because of the technology, but rather because of what is being shared: illegal copies of software, movies, music, and images. Many of the illegal file-sharing networks happen to use peer-to-peer technology.
  • Email from Benoit in New Jersey: Dear Tech Talk. I am frustrated with a couple of features on Waze. First, when the audio plays through the Bluetooth connection, the first few words are cut off and second whenever I move my phone, it activates the voice feature which is very annoying. What are the options? Benoit in New Jersey.
  • Tech Talk Responds: The Bluetooth connection is not kept open between uses and there is a delay when Waze sends a new message to your audio system. This may be fixed with the next Bluetooth update. In order to solve this problem, you have to keep the channel open. I do this my playing Pandora music with the iPhone. It is soothing and keeps the Bluetooth channel open for my Waze communication. As for the annoying voice feature. It is supposed to help provide feedback while driving (police locations, hazard locations. Etc.). You can turn it off by open Waze and going to settings (that is the Gear symbol in upper left). Scroll down to voice commands. Turn off the line that says Enable. You’re good to do.
  • Email from Beth: Dear Doc and Jim. I travel quite a bit between Florida and Virginia. I have a SunPass for Florida. What are the options for using it here in Virginia. Thanks. Enjoy the show. Beth from Virginia.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are out of luck. Virginia is in the E-ZPass network, which includes fifteen states: Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia. The other states have their own, a very inconvenient system for travelers. Most states have some type of license plate recognition and will bill you if you don’t have a pass. Some of them have severe penalties. In the case of Florida, it is just a simple toll charges with a small surcharge. You will have to get an E-ZPass or risk getting a stiff fine here in Virginia.
  • Email from Feroze in Fredericksburg: Dear Tech Talk. I have Nikon with multiple lenses and love taking pictures while on travel. However, frequently and only have my iPhone with me. Are there lenses that I can use on my iPhone to capture better pictures? The resolution of the camera is great, but the field of view is designed more for portraits than for great photography. I am only interested in quality lenses. Love the show. Feroze in Fredericksburg.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Some lenses attach directly to the iPhone; others work in conjunction with a custom case. iPro’s Lens System is an example of the latter—after you slide your iPhone into the two-piece sleeve-style case, you attach the lenses via a bayonet mount that is secured with an easy quarter-turn of the lens. iPro has a clever solution for carrying the lenses. Rather than storing them in some sort of case or bag, they screw together into a cylinder that you can hang around your neck. It also doubles as a handle that screw into the case, which you can use as a monopod to stabilize your photos. You can even mount the case on a real tripod.
  • The basic Trio kit ($279) comes with three lenses: a 2X telephoto, a super-wide angle, and a macro lens. You can also purchase additional lenses, such as a powerful 4x tele and a 165-degree wide angle. The lenses are made with Schneider Century optics. Link to company: http://www.iprolens.com/index.php
  • There are many cheaper options for removable iPhone lenses. I have just given you the professional version. For instance Photojojo gives you six lenses for $115, including Fisheye, Super Fisheye, Telephoto, Wide Angle, Macro and Polarizing lens. Each lens is crafted out of solid aluminum and outfitted with thick, high-clarity glass. Each set comes with an adhesive removable metal ring that fits any phone. Lenses clip on magnetically. 
  • Link to company: https://2.photojojo.com/awesomeness/cell-phone-lenses
  • Another low cost option for the Aukey’s 3 in 1 Clip-on Cell Phone Camera Lens Kit. 180 Degree Fisheye Lens/ Wide Angle Lens/ 10 X Marco Lens for iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, Samsung Galaxy, Windows, and Android Smartphones. List price is $39. Street price is as low as $16.
  • Link to Amazon sales page: http://www.amazon.com/Aukey-Fisheye-Samsung-Windows-Smartphones/dp/B014CXK9FQ
Profiles in IT: Gene Myron Amdahl
  • Gene Myron Amdahl was an American computer architect and entrepreneur, chiefly known for his work on mainframe computers at IBM at the Amdahl Corporation.
  • Gene Myron Amdahl Born November 16, 1922 in Flandreau, South Dakota.
  • His parents were farmers and attended a one room school where ended up teaching math to his classmates. 
  • He entered college in 1941 but was drafted in 1943 to teach physics in the Advanced Specialized Training Program. He started working with vacuum tube circuit design.
  • After serving in the Navy during World War II he completed a degree in Engineering Physics at South Dakota State University in 1948. 
  • He enrolled in the University of Wisconsin PhD program. He wanted to continue with theoretical physics (particularly quantum mechanics). He was asked to by the electrical engineering department to build proposed machine, which was a floating point computation device. He created his first computer, the Wisconsin Integrally Synchronized Computer, while working on his PhD. It used vacuum tubes.
  • He received MS and PhD in Physics from University of Wisconsin in 1952. His dissertation topic: The Logical Design of an Intermediate Speed Digital Computer
  • In June 1952, he was hired by IBM to work on mainframe computer design.
  • Amdahl worked on the IBM 704, the IBM 709, and then the Stretch project. 
  • In December 1955 left IBM in frustration and moved to Ramo-Wooldridge.
  • In September 1960 he returned and became chief architect of IBM System/360 and was named an IBM Fellow in 1965, and head of the ACS Laboratory in Menlo Park.
  • He left IBM again in September 1970, after his ideas for computer development were rejected, and set up Amdahl Corporation in Sunnyvale, CA with help from Fujitsu.
  • Competing with IBM in the mainframe market, the company manufactured “plug-compatible” mainframes, shipping its first machine in 1975. It was a less expensive, more reliable and faster replacement for the System 370/168. 
  • By purchasing an Amdahl 470 and plug-compatible peripheral devices, customers could now run S/360 and S/370 applications without buying actual IBM hardware. 
  • Amdahl’s software team developed VM/PE, software designed to optimize the performance of IBM’s MVS operating system. 
  • By 1979, Amdahl Corporation had sold over a US$1 billion of mainframes and had over 6,000 employees worldwide. Amdahl was ultimately bought by Fujitsu.
  • He coined the term FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) to describe IBM’s sales.
  • Amdahl went to found several other unsuccessful computer companies, including: Trilogy Systems to make integrated chips for mainframes, Andor International to build mid-sized mainframes using improved manufacturing, and Commercial Data Servers in 1996 to develop mainframes super-cooled processors.
  • He died on November 10, 2015 in Palo Alto, California, from pneumonia. He also had Alzheimer’s disease in the last years of his life.
Is Anonymous’ war on ISIS doing more harm than good? 
  • Just days after the attacks in Paris, ISIS became the target of Anonymous.
  • Intelligence agencies and journalists often track the group’s online footprint, looking for insights into the group’s larger movements, but Anonymous’ stated goal is to drive the group out of online spaces entirely. 
  • The online campaigns have focused on reporting Twitter accounts, websites, and IP addresses run by the group. Typically, the end result is deletion.
  • By that measure, the campaigns have been successful: the secure-messaging app Telegram reported blocking 78 ISIS-related channels this week, and a group called CntrlSec says it’s contributing to the suspension of more than 72,000 Twitter accounts since they began their campaign in January.
  • A firm called Ghost Security Group has been working with an intelligence advisor named Michael S. Smith II in a long-standing effort to provide tips to US agencies.
  • Smith collates Ghost Security’s tips and forwards them along to US Intelligence officials, where they can be used to inform the larger campaign against terror.
  • US intelligence has often quietly requested that services not remove ISIS-related accounts. In other cases, agencies like the State Department have gone head to head with ISIS accounts, treating Twitter as a safe space to argue and engage with radicals.There’s also reason to believe ISIS is changing its online habits based on the new campaigns. A recent unconfirmed posting instructed fighters to avoid people they don’t know on Telegram and make sure their Twitter username is different from their email to avoid easy intelligence tracking. It’s rudimentary advice, but suggests in the group may be changing tactics in the face of the new onslaught.
Windows is 30 Years Old
  • On November 20, 1985, Microsoft shipped the first version of Windows, building off the success of MS-DOS and adding a graphical layer to computing that has changed the face of business ever since.
  • But on that date, global domination did not seem assured: The Company was facing a lawsuit from Apple, and the software itself was slow and buggy. 
  • It was a tough start for software that had been announced to much fanfare two years before — and then had missed its launch date by over a year.
  • But if Microsoft struggled to make GUI interfaces accessible and functional, others simply failed: IBM had worked on TopView, actually demonstrating overlapping windows to Microsoft, but the shipping product failed to include a true GUI and the project’s assets were eventually acquired by Microsoft.
  • Balmer appeared in a dorky Windows ad for celebrate the launch.
  • Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sforhbLiwLA&feature=youtu.be
Self-driving cars may already be obsolete before they get here
  • In less than 20 years, owning a car will be like owning a horse
  • In 10 years, there’s no question that driverless systems will be ubiquitous, but self-driving cars will not be, says Ian Pearson, a futurologist.
  • “What Google is proposing is obsolete,” Pearson, who is also a fellow at the World Academy for Arts and Science, said. “It doesn’t exist yet, but there isn’t any point in going through that phase.”
  • Many companies are banking on having either fully-automated or semi-automated cars ready by 2020. But Pearson said self-driving cars are far too expensive considering in 10 years there will be no point to owning a car.
  • “What (companies are) suggesting is doing (driverless systems) with really expensive cars that they will make and hopefully make lots of money from,” he said. “What I’m saying is you don’t need that — all you really need is a cheap steel box with a comfortable seat in it.”
  • What Pearson envisions is similar to what two Italian researchers are looking to release in 2020 — self-driving pods. The pods, called Next, are essentially a driverless box that will take you to your desired destination. 
  • But even the Next pods fall short of what Pearson is envisioning. For one, Next is a public transportation system that is controlled by a third party. The pods will pick you up after you request one through an app.
  • Pearson said he thinks people will be able to own their own “cheap steel box” and control it themselves using a phone, thereby cutting out the middle man.
  • Additionally, the pods Pearson is envisioning will not have wheels, making them even cheaper. He envisions the pods will use a technology that was patented in the early 20th century — magnetic levitation. 
  • Currently, magnetic levitation uses powerful magnets to propel trains along designated pathways. The fastest maglev train to date is in Japan, which broke a world record in April.
  • Companies developing driverless technology seem aware that people won’t own cars in the near future.
  • Elon Musk hinted that Tesla might get into the ride-sharing business during an earnings call this week. Uber is also developing self-driving technology. 
  • But Pearson said he thinks ride sharing will also be a thing of the past in 10 years.
  • Pearson said he is banking that in 10 years time, people will be controlling their own driverless vehicles with their phones