Show of 02-06-2016

Tech Talk

February 6, 2016

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from James Messick: Dear Tech Talk, I’ve recently purchased some of Belkin’s WeMo Smart LED bulbs, and other devices. The app allows you to dim the bulbs. I was wondering if the bulbs use less power when dimmed. Love the show. Thanks. James Messick, Kernersville, NC
  • Tech Talk Responds: The bulbs are also fully dimmable through the WeMo app — though you’ll want to be sure not to use them with in-wall dimmer-switch setups, as the two dimming mechanisms will clash, causing terrible flickering. In the app, though, dimming is smooth, simple, and flicker-free, with a slider bar that lets you dial the light up from 0 to 100 percent in 1 percent increments. As you dim the lights, less power is used, just as you would expect. This is unlike many dimmer switches which just bleed energy to a bypass resistor. I have the same situation with my Phillips Hue LED lamps, but now I am controlling them with my Amazon Echo.
  • Email from Geek Chick: Dear Dr Shurtz and Jim: What is the IT INDUSTRY standard for: system availability, so if our firm writes in a federal govt. proposal that our “IT team maintains system at 99.5% availability and resolves 99% of helpdesk tickets in less than 1 hour.” How do these metrics of behavior stack up to the ‘industry norm/standards?” Thanks, Geek Chick
  • Tech Talk Responds: I don’t really have enough information to comment. If the requirement is for high availability (HA), you need five nines availability. That would be a downtime of a few minutes per year. HA is very expensive and only required for core services. NIST (National Institute for Science and Technology) has defined these standards. NIST defines FIPS 199 Availability Impact Levels of Low, Moderate, or High.
    • Low priority implies that any outage will have little impact, damage, or disruption to the organization.
    • Moderate priority would cause a moderate problem to the organization and possibly other networks or systems.
    • High priority would cause the most impact on the organization, mission, and other networks and systems. These systems are mission critical.
  • I suggest that use to the NIST Computer Security Division site and reference their standards, which were developed to help government agencies procure computer services. The website is
  • Email form Carl Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: I just replaced my spinning hard drives in mine and my wife’s computer with new SSD’s. Great performance and boot up improvement. There was really nothing wrong with the other ones. Could you give me some suggestions what I could do with these drives. For instance could I turn them into external drives? 
  • I’ve been reading a great book about the Linux operating system entitled “Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution”.  I know you have done a profile of Linus Torvalds, who wrote Linus, but there were two other people in the book who I think made great contributions to the free open source operating systems. They are Andrew Tanenbaum who wrote the MINIX operating system and Richard Stallman who launched the GNU Project. Both, I think, are worthy “Profiles in IT” candidates.
  • PS: Don’t know if you read about or reported this or not but in January the largest prime number ever was found by the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS). The prime number is 22,338,618 digits long. Great conversation starter at cocktail parties. As always thanks to you and Jim for the great podcast. Carl Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can get a hard drive enclosure for these drives and use the as external drives. You might also get a networked addressed storage enclosure and use them together as duplexed drives for a backup system. More than likely they are not worth the duplexed system. I would use them to back up your digital picture library. You would copy all your pictures to both hard drives for secure storage. Great suggestions for Profile in IT. I just did Richard Stallman last week. I may go back and look a Tanenbaum again. We did him once, but it may be time to repeat.
  • In mathematics, a Mersenne prime is a prime number that is one less than a power of two. That is, it is a prime number that can be written in the form Mn = 2n ? 1 for some integer n. They are named after Marin Mersenne, a French Minim friar, who studied them in the early 17th century. While prime numbers are important for cryptography, this latest prime is too large to currently be of practical value. You can find the Mersenne project at Carl, I love your comments.
  • Email from Hac in Colorado Springs: Dear Doc and Jim. I love to listen to streaming music over the Internet. What type of sites would be appropriate for streaming Vietnamese music? Love to listen live in Colorado Springs, CO. Hac
  • Tech Talk Responds: Here are three sites that have been highly recommended.
Profiles in IT: Dr. Nii Quaynor
  • Dr. Nii Quaynor (Dr. Nee Queye nor) pioneered Internet development and expansion throughout Africa for nearly two decades, known as “father of the African Internet.”
  • Dr Qyeyenor was born in 1949 in Accra, Ghana. He was the youngest of six brothers. All his brothers had migrated to the US for higher education. His childhood was happy.
  • He attended Adisadel College and Achimota School in Ghana.
  • He arrived at Dartmouth College in 1969 when the civil rights movement was bringing about integration at the universities. It was a culture shock.
  • The civil rights movement inspired him to help Africa participate in the global economy, to acquire knowledge for the liberation and development of Africa
  • He discovered computers while completing a physics programming assignment in the computer center. He managed to get a job at the center and never looked back.
  • Dr. Quaynor graduated from Dartmouth in 1972 with B.A in Engineering Science. 
  • He received a Ph.D. in Computer Science in distributed systems in 1977 from State University of New York at Stony Brook.
  • He worked with Digital Equipment Corporation in the US from 1977 till 1992. During his tenure at DEC, he never lost sight of Africa and Ghana.
  • As one of the first PhDs in computer science on the African continent, and the first in Ghana, I felt obligated to return to establish a department of computer science at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in 1979. He felt that it was necessary to establish a computer science department to produce students for the new computer industry of Internet-based solutions. He continues to hold a professorship there.
  • In 1988, he started Network Computer Systems (NCS), a networking company. 
  • He moved back to Ghana in 1993. By 1994, NCS had become the first company in West Africa to operate Internet services by first using international dial-up to the Public I.P. Exchange Ltd (Pipex) in the UK.
  • He then focused sharing his knowledge with other operators in Africa. These efforts culminated in the formation of the African Network Operators Group (AfNOG). AfNOG held its maiden event in 2000.
  • He was the founding chairman of AfriNIC, the African Internet numbers registry.
  • In 2000, he became director of ICANN for the African region.
  • Dr. Quaynor was a member of the UN Secretary’s General Advisory Group on ICT, Chair of the OAU Internet Task Force and President of the Internet Society of Ghana. 
  • In 2007, the Internet Society awarded him the Jonathan B. Postel Service Award for his pioneering work in advancing the Internet in Africa. 
  • On 26 June 2013, he was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame by the ISOC.
  • He was awarded the 2015 ICANN Multi-stakeholder Ethos Award.?
NJ Man Arrested After Crashing Drone Into Empire State Building
  • A New Jersey man was arrested after a drone he was remotely piloting crashed into the Empire State Building. 
  • The craft struck the 40th floor of the building, then fell to a landing on the 35th floor. 
  • No one was hurt in the Thursday evening incident. The drone was flown by Sean Nivin Riddle, 28, of Jersey City.
  • A person with the same name posted on Twitter about the event shortly afterward, but before the arrest. 
  • An NYPD representative confirmed that Riddle was charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, saying that’s the least one can expect from flying a drone in a heavily populated area, much less crashing it. ”We see a lot of drones, but we don’t get a lot of them crashing into major structures like the Empire State Building,” the NYPD representative said. 
Superbowl Tech: Cameras Bring the Fans Into the Action
  • CBS Sports is debuting new technology in its suite of 70 cameras being used to film the 2016 game; last year only 40 video cameras were used to capture the 2015 Super Bowl.
  • Eye Vision 360 — This new replay camera can freeze on any moment and revolve around the play to provide a first-person point of view of any player on the field. So you can watch from the perspective of the quarterback struggling to stay in the pocket, all captured with stunning 5K resolution cameras, the highest resolution ever used to film the big game.
  • Eye Vision 360 works with 36 cameras strung together along the top deck of Levi’s Stadium. The cameras are bunched toward the red zone at around the 25 yard line. 
  • And it’s the software in the background giving you the ability to freeze the scene and wrap around it for that Matrix look.”
  • Since there are 36 cameras all working to render into single 360 view, the technology isn’t for live broadcast, but the idea is that it will take replay video to the next level.
  • Pylon Camera — Another new camera making its Super Bowl debut this year: the pylon camera. A pylon is the rectangular orange marker placed in the corners of the end zone to help players and fans see the boundaries of the goal line.
  • Eight custom-molded pylons will be stuffed with two high-resolution cameras each, giving fans a field-level view of the game in 2K resolution. These cameras also have microphones to help capture the natural sound of the field. These cameras can capture a player’s feet as they pass the goal line.
  • SkyCam — The aerial camera technology was first introduced to Super Bowl fans in 1984, but didn’t become regularly used by the NFL until around 2001. The Wildcat SkyCam can soar through the air at speeds that surpass 25 miles-per-hour—that means the camera can outrun the players.
  • SkyCam uses a fully active four axis stabilization system, which each have feedback loops that are likewise stabilized. It is also equipped with microphones.
How to Watch the Super Bowl When You Don’t Have Cable
  • CBS, the network that is broadcasting this year’s game, will stream the Super Bowl free through apps on a broader set of devices than in the past. 
  • Owners of Roku’s set-top boxes, Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast, Microsoft’s Xbox One and Amazon’s Fire box can download the free CBS Sports or National Football League apps and watch the Super Bowl with no login credentials required.
  • This year’s Super Bowl, the 50th, will be the second that CBS has streamed free, though it will be the first time its streaming apps play the commercials while they are shown on television.
Silicon Valley’s High-Tech Super Bowl Stadium
  • Completed in 2014, Levi’s Stadium lives up to the reputation of its Silicon Valley home. 
  • Crammed full of networking equipment and 400 miles of fiber-optic cable, it was built with an outsize capacity for supporting Internet-connected devices. 
  • Underneath the stadium seats, 13,000 Wi-Fi access points broadcast a free wireless network to the assembled fans, who are never more than 10 feet from a node. 
  • The entire arena can handle a traffic load that’s four times higher than NFL’s minimum standard for football stadiums.
  • During well-attended games, cell and wireless networks can easily get clogged up when too many fans tweet, post photos, and stream video all at once. 
  • The networks built into Levi’s Stadium are designed to end this problem.
  • Whenever tens of thousands of devices are crammed onto one public Wi-Fi network, there will always be security risks. 
  • Another great feature are the 1700 beacons equipped throughout the venue, which use Bluetooth technology to provide locations and services with pinpoint accuracy. 
  • These beacons pair with the stadium’s mobile app to provide extra conveniences. The app will help locate the closest parking lot exit, find your seat for you, or even locate your friend for that matter. 
  • You can find specific concessions or get food delivered right to your seat with online ordering. This app can find and direct you to the closest bathroom and the shortest beer lines. 
  • Gone are the days of wandering around the stadium for extended periods of time trying to find that certain craft beer, all the while missing live game action.
  • The mobile app also provides in game replays that can show up to four views at once, bringing part of the home viewing experience directly to your seat in the stadium, once again covering a main issue for fans seeking the ultimate NFL experience.
  • There will be somewhere around 100,000 devices connected to the stadium this weekend. In one potential attack, hackers could infiltrate attendees’ phones through a security hole in stadium infrastructure—its Wi-Fi network, for example, or its official app. 
  • By infecting a large group of devices, the hacker could establish a botnet, a network of connected devices that work together to complete larger-scale attacks like sending spam or flooding a server with requests in a denial-of-service attack. 
  • Make sure you’re connecting to the authentic stadium Wi-Fi and not a malicious knockoff—or better yet, avoid Wi-Fi in favor of generally more secure mobile data. 
  • Installing a virtual private network can help keep more sensitive information safe.
Google is now showing anti-ISIS ads to potential extremists
  • Google wants to put its powerful targeted advertising system to use in the fight against terrorism.Soon, those searching for terms related to Islamic extremism will be hit with anti-radicalization propaganda ads aimed at dissuading potential Islamic State (ISIS) recruits. 
  • The nonprofits that create these ads will be able to run them at no cost, thanks to Google’s grant program.
  • A Google spokesperson confirmed the plans to Mashable.
  • The pilot Google AdWords Grants program works with a handful of eligible non-profit organizations. The program enables NGOs to place counter-radicalization ads against search queries of their choosing.
  • The initiative consists of two programs — one meant to make sure these viewpoints are more prominent and easy to find, and the other to target them to people searching for things that may hint at potential radicalization.
  • The Obama administration has been working extensively with tech companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter to take on the threat of ISIS.