Show of 12-05-2015

Tech Talk

December 5, 2015

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Azra from Fredericksburg: Dear Doc and Jim. I enjoy writing poetry in Urdu on my Windows 10 laptop and my iPad. How can I type in Urdu with my laptop or iPad? Enjoy the show over the Internet using TuneIin Radio. Azra from Fredericksburg
  • Tech Talk Responds: The good news is that there are a number of language keyboards for Windows computers. An Urdu keyboard was written by Kashif Akram. It is a free app that lets you type documents, send SMS, and compose email in Urdu. There a several apps for the iPhone, including Urdu Keypad by IChecker, which is free. BTW, most languages have specialized keyboards. They all require that you download the font set for the target language and then assign special characters to keys.
  • Email from Alice in Wonderland: Dear Dr. Shurtz, Hope you had a good Turkey Day. I use the Apple Mail application on my iMac. I need to establish some kind of auto-removal of emails in my inbox. Meaning, can I set up some rules that tell the inbox that when a message is 5 months old (whether read or not) to automatically delete it from my inbox. I am spending a ton of my life erasing junk email! Thanks. Alice in Wonderland
  • Tech Talk Responds: Alice, your only option is to fine tune you spam filter settings. There is not automatic program for deleting emails to my knowledge. It is sometimes easier to sort by subject line, rather than by date. That way spam emails with the same name can be deleted as a block. I have used this technique in the past when confronted with your situation.
  • Email from Peggy: Dear Dr. Shurtz. I am trying to format an MS Word table. I can’t figure out how to repeat the color used in the shading of the two top header cells and apply it to the first WHITE cell at the top of this table so that the color is same as in the two cells adjacent to it; the two cells at the top of the table that have shading of a brown color of some kind. Hope you can help. Thanks. Peggy, a long time listener
  • Tech Talk Responds: Peggy, you can see which color has been selected by highlighting the cell in question. Then on the top menu, go to Design under Table Tools. Then click on shading. The color that has been used in the cell will be highlighted with a red outline. It is unfortunately not possible to copy and paste the color of a single table cell, although I was able to do this for an entire row.
  • Email from Lynn in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I have an iPhone5S. Recently the search function stopped working in the contacts. When I try to look up name, it returns no results. I have hundreds of contacts and this is annoying. What can I do to fix it. Love the show. Lynn in Ohio.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Lynn, I had this same problem. Contacts are linked to what is called Your Card. I used to have two contacts for myself in my phone and I deleted one of them. It had been linked to My Card. I lost the ability to search contacts. You will need to check this. Go to Settings/Mail, Contacts, Calendars. Scroll down to My info and select your name from your contacts. Once this is done, open your contacts. Click on Groups on the top left hand corner and then select Show All Contacts. You should be set now. Lynn, good luck searching your contacts.
  • Email from Nhan in Atlanta: Dear Doc and Jim. How do I adjust the brightness of my screen in Windows 10? The display on my laptop is so dark that I have trouble reading it in the day. Love the show. Nhan in Atlanta
  • Tech Talk Responds: Adjusting the brightness of a monitor or display can often be done right on the display itself. Sometimes it’s also possible to adjust the brightness in software. You may have Brightness Adjustment Keys on your laptop. An example of brightness-adjustment keys. Use in conjunction with “Fn” or other modifier key to adjust brightness. In most cases, these “secondary functions” use the same keys as other functions, like the up/down arrows. The secondary functions are occasionally printed in a different color, such as blue. Regardless, you’ll need to hold down another key, often a “Fn” key, to use the secondary functions.
  • If you have the correct drivers (in other words, if your video-card drivers support this), it’s sometimes possible to adjust the brightness in Windows itself. Right-click on the desktop and choose Personalize. In the left-hand column, choose Display. On the resulting page, there may be something called Adjust brightness or Brightness level. 
  • You may also have automatic brightness control that responds to ambient light. You should just turn this off if it is there. I had that same problem with my laptop. Just uncheck the “Adjust my screen brightness automatically” option if you find that the brightness is changing in ways that don’t work for you.
  • Email from Dave in Colorado: Dear Tech Talk. I am backing up my computer as you recommended. How can I test whether the backup is actually any good? I would rather test now than later. Love the show. Dave in Boulder, CO.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Testing your backups is an easy step to overlook, but an important step to take. 
  • If you are only backing up specific files and subdirectories, you can pick an important file on your hard disk and rename it. Now go restore the original from your backup, and make sure it’s the same. Assuming its successful, repeat this for several different files in different locations on your hard disk, to ensure that the files you expect to be backed up actually have been, and can be recovered if needed.
  • If you have created a disk image, create and boot from the “emergency disk” or “rescue media”, to make sure that it works and can “see” the back up you’ve created, as well as the hard disk onto which that backup might be restored. Follow the sequence to actually perform an image restore, stopping at the very last step. Do not actually perform the restore because that will overwrite your hard drive. You could try the restore to an extra internal hard drive, if that is an option.
Profiles in IT: John William Mauchly
  • John William Mauchly was an American physicist who, along with J. Presper Eckert, designed ENIAC, the first general purpose electronic digital computer,
  • John William Mauchly was born on August 30th, 1907, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • When John was 8, his family moved to Chevy Chase, MD. His father was chief physicist at the Carnegie Institute of Washington, D.C.
  • He graduated from McKinley Technical High School in downtown Washington. 
  • He received a scholarship to Johns Hopkins University in the fall of 1925.
  • In 1927 he enrolled directly into a Ph.D. program, completing it in 1932. 
  • In 1932, he accepted a teaching position Ursinus College in Philadelphia. 
  • In 1936, Mauchly accepted a job assistant physicist and computer at the Carnegie Institution to analyze meteorological data. This sparked his interest in computation.
  • In 1941, Mauchly accepted a teaching position at the Moore School, which had an Army contract to calculate firing tables using an electro-mechanical calculator.
  • Mauchly got the idea for computing at electronic speeds from high-speed electronic flip-flops used in cosmic-ray counting devices at Swarthmore College.
  • Lieutenant Herman Goldstine asked Mauchly to write a formal proposal. 
  • In April 1943, the Army contracted with the Moore School to build the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC). Mauchly led the conceptual design while Eckert led the hardware engineering on ENIAC. 
  • A thousand times faster, it could do 357 10-digit multiplications in one second.
  • The ENIAC design was frozen in 1944 to allow construction.
  • Eckert and Mauchly began plans on a second computer, to be called EDVAC. 
  • John von Neumann learned of the project and wrote an internal document describing the EDVAC. Goldstine removed any reference to Eckert or Mauchly. 
  • Because of this paper, which defined the von Neumann architecture, the patent for the ENIAC (U.S. Patent 3,120,606) was invalidated.
  • In March 1946, just after the ENIAC was announced, the Moore School changed their patent policy and Eckert and Mauchly resigned.
  • In 1947 Eckert and Mauchly formed the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. Mauchly was president. Their first contract was with NBS to build an EDVAC II.
  • In 1950 they sold their company along with their computer patents to Remington Rand. Mauchly worked for Remington and later for Sperry, which bought RR.
  • In 1959, when he left to form his own consulting corporation, Mauchly Associates. 
  • In 1968, he founded a second consulting corporation, which he called Dynatrend.
  • In 2002, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
  • Mauchly retired to the quiet suburb of Ambler, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. He died on January 8, 1980, of complications from an infection.
Class for Web Developers Just $19
  • There has never been a better time to start a career in web development. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects about 20% employment growth for web developers by 2022.
  • Udemy is offering a class entitled The Complete Web Developer Bootcamp – Beginner to Expert for those interested in starting a new career.
  • The course consists of almost 200 lectures and 22 hours of content focused on taking you from web design beginner to job-ready developer. 
  • You’ll learn the basics of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ruby on Rails, and other coding languages to help give you as wide an expanse of knowledge as possible.
  • You’ll use these new skills to create your own portfolio of 14 sites through guided exercises, as well as design a site for your own startup.
  • The Complete Web Developer Bootcamp – Beginner to Expert, $19 (originally $300), available at Udemy. 94% off with the promo code DEVELOPER19. Offer good until December 7, 2015 11:59 pm PST.Adobe Flash is finally dead
Adobe Flash is dead, long live Adobe Flash. 
  • Apple co-founder Steve Jobs wrote a public letter about Adobe Flash back in 2010.
  • Steve Jobs wasn’t the first person to dislike Flash. In fact, developers had hated the technology for years because of its volatility and instability. 
  • Adobe had no choice but to devote time and resources to making Flash a better product. The Flash experience of 2015 is nowhere near as bad as it was then.
  • Flash still has issues with stability and security.  In fact, a recently discovered vulnerability in Flash was so bad that the only way to fix it was to completely uninstall Flash Player. And so Adobe has finally decided to kill Flash… sort of.
  • Adobe said in a blog post, “Because of the emergence of HTML5 and demand for animations that leverage web standards, we completely rewrote the tool over the past few years to incorporate native HTML5 Canvas and WebGL support. To more accurately represent its position as the premier animation tool for the web and beyond, Flash Professional will be renamed Adobe Animate CC, starting with the next release in early 2016.”
  • It might be long overdue, but it finally happened: the Flash brand is no more.
  • Adobe will then begin the long and painful process of trying to make the world forget “Flash” ever existed. The company is already off to a good start as it continues to harp on the fact that it has embraced HTML5, the web tech that Jobs fought for so vehemently back in 2010.
  • The company is of course still being careful to let the world know that legacy Flash support is not going to vanish overnight.
The Web Changes the Way We Think
  • New research reveals that just having access to the world’s information can induce an illusion of overconfidence in our own wisdom. 
  • In a new paper, Matt Fisher of Yale University, considers a particular type of thinking known as transactive memory, which is the idea that we rely on other people and other parts of the world – books, objects – to remember things for us.
  • Part of this phenomenon is the tendency to then confuse what we really know in our personal memories, with what we have easy access to, the knowledge that is readily available in the world, or with which we are merely familiar without actually understanding in depth. 
  • It can feel like we understand how a car works, the argument goes, when in fact we are merely familiar with making it work. I press the accelerator and it goes forward, neglecting to realise that I don’t really know how it goes forward.
Bitcoin to the Rescue
  • Tech entrepreneur and bitcoin guru Wences Casares saw his family lose their entire wealth three times in Argentina because of hyperinflation, a currency collapse and confiscation. 
  • Those instances are what ultimately led him to the digital cryptocurrency bitcoin.
  • Casares created Argentina’s first internet provider and later sold his online brokerage firm to Banco Santander for $750 million in 2000. 
  • He is now heading Xapo, a company that provides a bitcoin wallet and storage vault.
  • The real “a-ha” moment for bitcoin happened when he was planning a trip with a group of childhood friends back in Argentina. 
  • “We all had to chip in some money. They were all in Argentina except me, I’m here in California. They all got together and gave the cash to one of them. And I was trying to find a way to send money. At the time, PayPal had to stop sending money to Argentina and wire transfers were not working because of the currency control.” 
  • That’s when one of his friends suggested using bitcoin. Casares did some research online and arranged a meeting in a Palo Alto cafe with someone he connected with on Craigslist. He gave the man cash and got some bitcoin in return. He immediately sent the bitcoin to his friend in Argentina. 
  • By the time he made it back home, his friend had sold it for pesos in Argentina.
  • He believes that bitcoin will be as powerful as cellphones in developing countries.