Show of 06-25-2016

Tech Talk

June 25, 2016

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Azra in Fredericksburg: Dear Doc and Jim, I recently upgraded my phone to the iPhone6Plus. After transferring my data using the iCloud, I have many duplicate contacts. Is there an easy way to get rid of these duplicates? Enjoy the show. Azra in Fredericksburg
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is a common problem. The easiest way is to limit the source of contacts. In your contact manager, you might have contacts from Yahoo, Facebook, Outlook, iCloud, and Gmail. These contacts would be duplicates. Select one to two sources to reduce duplicates. In my case, I select Outlook only. In some cases, your contacts have really been duplicated in the same database. In that case, you can use an app called Cleanup Duplicate Contacts. It has a free version, but you will need to upgrade to the pro version (for 99 cents) to automate the process. This app got great reviews, but it must be configured correctly.
  • Email from Phillip in Kansas: Dear Tech Talk, my outlook.com is putting legitimate emails into its junk mail folder. It seems very random, but some of my closest friends’ emails are going into the junk folder as well as other legitimate contacts. Can I just not use outlook.com, do I need it? How I stop the filtering of legitimate emails in to the outlook.com junk folder? Enjoy the podcast. Phillip in Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: You need to train the junk mail filter. It does mean you need to periodically log in to Outlook.com on the web and see what you find in the junk mail folder there. Then, for each non-spam email message you find there, right click on it and mark it as not junk. That will then also help “train” Outlook.com’s spam filter to learn that, for your account, email that looks like this should not be placed in the junk mail folder.
  • You can also set up Safe senders. Click on the gear icon again, click on Options and in the resulting page click on Safe and blocked senders. Allowing known safe senders can be one way to bypass the junk mail filter for senders you know about beforehand. You can make two different types of entries: Individual email addresses can be placed on the list. You could also allow an entire domain. Any email from that domain would bypass the junk mail filter.
  • Email from Tung in Ohio: Dear Tech Talk, I have a new Mac computer. It uses a Bluetooth mouse. I can’t seem to connect my Bluetooth speaker at the same time. I am listening to some audio files that my sister sent me. Does Bluetooth allow two devices to be connected at the same time? Please help me. Love the show, Tung
  • Tech Talk Responds: A single Bluetooth device can communicate with up to eight different devices within about a 30-foot radius simultaneously. Bluetooth 4.0 randomly chooses from 40 frequencies 1,600 times every second to minimize interference among devices. You may be having trouble connecting with your Bluetooth speaker because it is already paired and connected with another device, like your iPhone or iPad. If that is the case, turn off Bluetooth in those devices so that only the Mac is discoverable. Press the button in the speaker to make it discoverable. Then try again. It should work because the technology supports it.
  • Email from Bernie in Manassas: Dear Tech Talk, I just bought a camera that allows me to take photographs in JPG or JPG plus RAW or just RAW! If I take a picture in RAW, the resulting picture is about 24 MB. When I save as JPG it is 8 MB. As a TIF, it is 45 MB. What format should I use? What does it have to do with resolution? Thanks, Bernie in Manassas
  • Tech Talk Responds: Pixels and resolution are independent of file formats. Pixels, resolution, height by width, color depth; that actually applies to pretty much all of the pictures. You can then store that information in different file formats.
  • RAW image file format. Each camera has its own raw output, the way that it natively stores the data. RAW is not a standardized format. You need to have special software to view or manipulate RAW data. This is the most accurate representation of the image data before any manipulation. I have a scuba diver friend to saves all of his images in RAW images and then performs color correction after the dive. He feels this is the best way to get quality underwater photos. But RAW is useless for sharing photos. For that you need a standardize file format.
  • JPEG image file format. The most common file format that you’ll find on the internet for photographs is JPEG (or JPG). JPEG is a standard. JPEG is that it is by definition a “lossy” file format. When you convert your original image (the .raw format) into a JPEG, some information will be lost.
  • This is why many photographers save all of their pictures as RAW so that they have everything possible, should I then want to go in and manipulate the image some more. JPEG loses something.
  • Many pros like to use Photoshop. They edit my images, crop them, adjust colors, then the result of that work in JPEG format. You will need the Adobe Camera plug-in to even read a RAW image.
  • TIF is not a good format for photos. It is not compressed and is usually larger than the original file. PNG is a lossless compression format that is becoming more popular. But JPG is still the best for sharing, since everyone has a viewer.
  • So if you are serious photographer, save in RAW and then covert to JPG for sharing. If you just want to share some snaps, save only in JPG. Then you will not have to do any further conversions.
  • Email from Alex: Dear Doc and Jim. Is there a better way to become a Linux expert other than getting a book? Thanks, Alex.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Getting a book is probably one of the worst ways. The best way is to get Linux; install it; start playing with it. That’s exactly what I do for any software. Whenever I encounter something interesting, or something new that I want to learn, I get it, I play with it, I figure it out. I do things with it and I just sort of learn by doing.
  • A book can be a good way to get an overview of things; but by far, by far, the best way to learn is to get your hands on it, start playing with it, and start doing. You’ll find yourself learning at an incredible pace.
  • The great news is that you can download Linux for free and start playing. You might want to download VMware so that you can run Linux as a virtual machine. You will also learn virtualization as a bonus.


 

Profiles in IT: Evi Nemeth

  • Evi Nemeth was an engineer known for her expertise in computer system administration and networks, best known as the Godmother of Unix administrators.
  • Evi Nemeth born June 7, 1940.
  • Evi Nemeth grew up in Vermont, got her bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Penn State University in 1961 and her PhD in mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Canada in 1971.
  • Nemeth worked in Boulder during the summers, starting in 1976.
  • Nemeth was an associate professor at Colorado University from 1980 to 2001, where she taught networks, data structures, UNIX tools and system administration.
  • What she was really known for at the university was developing undergrads. And that made a huge difference in the computer science program at CU.
  • Her math skills were proven when she found problems with the “Diffie–Hellman problem” used for cryptography. She has an Erd?s number of 2.
  • She bought a house in Sunshine Canyon in 1983 after getting on full time with Colorado University in 1980.
  • Nemeth actually purchased an old water pump house and transported it up the canyon. She relied on a wood-burning stove for heat and used composting toilets.
  • Her house burnt down in 2013 in a forest fire. She lost almost everything. She had plans to rebuild and had just bought a historic cabin on Main Street in Gold Hill.
  • In 1989 she wrote the Unix System Administration Handbook, which she revised in 1995 and 2000.
  • She also published the Linux Administration Handbook in 2002 (revised in 2006).
  • In 2010 authored the combined UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook.
  • All are best-sellers and explain the basics of network topology and administration simply and without recourse to hype.
  • Nemeth saw the need to simplify the arcane language of the IT industry, a language that sometimes did more harm than good.
  • In addition to teaching at several universities throughout her career, she spent eight years working with the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis at the University of California, San Diego.
  • She also organized the Internet Engineering Curriculum (IEC), a repository of IT training tools for the academic world, and worked with Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak to set up academic scholarships in the industry.
  • Evi Nemeth retired from teaching and bought a sailboat in 2002.
  • Nemeth was a keen and experienced sailor who devoted much of her time to on the water since her retirement, and was well-respected in the cruising community.
  • Nemeth was sailing off the western coast of New Zealand in a 21-meter vintage wooden schooner with its owner.
  • The boat disappeared and Evi Nemeth is presumed to have died June or July 2013.
  • The New Zealand authorities have formally called off the search for the cruiser.
  • The boat was last heard from on June 4, when Nemeth requested meteorological information about rough weather they were encountering.

Device of the Week: Google Voice Adapter

  • This Google Voice adapter will allow you to drop your landline and its cost, without losing the functionality. List price: $50.
  • List price is $50, but you can buy the adaptor from ObiHai for for just $35.
  • This is a low cost competitor to Ooma, which is currently my favorite.
  • Getting set up with it is quite simple: all you need to do is purchase the adapter and walk through the setup process at OBiTALK.com.
    • Save Money – Use free and low-cost VoIP services from OBiTALK Approved Service Providers to lower your phone bills – Maybe to nothing!
    • Pay Only for the Device — It’s Not Locked to a Service! – Easily add VoIP services, to make & receive phone calls to and from regular numbers. In addition, OBi to OBi calls are free.
    • Computer Not Required – All you need is your existing home phone and broadband router.
    • Good Voice Clarity – Talk with your family and friends anywhere in the world, from the comfort of your home telephone.

Gift of the Week: Namey McNameface T-Shirt

  • Google is having a bit of fun in the latest Android N Developer Preview by trolling us with a Namey McNameface Easter egg.
  • While we doubt the name is going to stick for the final version, it’s still a great name and would make for a heck of a shirt.
  • Especially since when Google announced that it would be seeking submissions for the name of the update, it specifically called out Namey McNameface as something that should not be submitted.
  • So, before Google announces the official name for the next version of Android, you can buy a limited edition t-shirt for your collection.
  • They are available from TeeSpring until June 27.
  • Link: https://teespring.com/namey-mcnameface-android-n#pid=369&cid=6514&sid=front


 

FAA Issues Commercial Drone Rules

  • FAAA has made it easier for companies to use drones for a variety of tasks, including aerial photography and emergency response.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration’s new commercial drone rules allow a broad range of businesses to use drones under 55 pounds, but with several restrictions: The drones must be operated by a pilot who has passed a written test and is at least 16 years old. And drones can be flown only below 400 feet, during the day and at least five miles away from airports.
  • The FAA stopped short of giving a green light to package delivery, a goal of Amazon and Google, which have pushed regulators to create rules that would allow them to transfer part of their ground-based delivery systems to the sky.
  • The new guidelines mandate that a commercial drone operator must always have the machine within line of sight — a rule that, for now, makes delivering packages unfeasible.
  • Drone makers and tech companies have been lobbying for the rules for five years. But the Obama administration, while trying to accommodate the potential economic benefits of the technology, has struggled to safely integrate the popular, remote-controlled flying vehicles into airspace.
  • Pilots and privacy groups that pushed hard for greater safety provisions and strong surveillance rules expressed fear that clearing the way for more of the flying machines posed new dangers and few protections from spying.
  • The FAA rules prohibit drones from flying above people and faster than 100 miles per hour.
  • The demand by companies has been broad. Real estate brokers want to use drones to take aerial estate photos, news organizations believe the machines would be useful for news gathering, farmers want to use them to survey fields, and emergency responders believe the devices would be useful for rescue operations.

Google Offers Free Cloud Services to Universities

  • The search giant said that it would give university students free access to some of the software tools available on its cloud computing service.
  • For students to receive access to the cloud services, university computer science faculty and those teaching related courses can apply online.
  • Currently, only U.S.-based faculty members can apply, but Google said people in other countries should soon be able to qualify too.
  • Some of the cloud tools that will be available include Google App Engine for building apps, Google BigQuery for storing and sifting through large amounts of data, and Cloud Machine Learning for detecting patterns across big datasets.
  • Google said students from Carnegie Mellon University and Duke University have been experimenting with some of Google’s cloud tools.
  • The free credits are one way Google is trying to popularize its cloud computing business. If more university students are familiar with Google’s tools, they are more likely to adopt them once they hit the workforce.

ISS installs Internet for Solar System

  • Setting up an network is not that easy. You need a system that can tolerate delays, particularly when communicating with Pluto.
  • NASA has developed such a system. It is called Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) and has been installed on the International Space Station.
  • What’s DTN is a protocol suite made to be resilient even in the face of huge interruptions of connectivity.
  • A DTN-powered network uses a “store and forward” technique that breaks down communications into chunks that can be transferred independent of each other and then reassembled at will once they’ve all arrived where they’re going.
  • The ISS recently added DTN to its Telescience Resource Kit, making the satellite the first piece in what NASA says may eventually form a Solar System-scale internet.
  • NASA has collaborated with Vint Cerf, who is optimistic about the possibilities for the protocol suite.
  • DTN has been a major collaboration among several organizations, and many of its implementations will be available as open-source code.

VPN Wars have Started

  • Netflix has been cracking down on users leveraging VPNs to access content that may be restricted in their country of residence.
  • Netflix is contractually bound by production companies to geographically restrict content to countries for which it has a license to distribute that content.
  • Some IPv6 users are blocked because they have to tunnel within an IPv4 world and this is not fair. Netflix is trying to fix this problem.
  • Others who simply want to surf anonymously using a VPN are blocked because Netflix cannot certify their location.
  • VPNs are responding to make it harder to block their service.
  • I use ExpressVPN when I travel to India to access Netflix, which is blocked in India.
  • Netflix blocked my ExpressVPN connection. ExpressVPN modified four of their servers to make it through the Netflix block and I was able to get through.
  • This will continue to be a cat and mouse game as Netflix block and VPNs respond.

App of the Week: Prisma

  • The Russian-made photo app, Prisma, allows users to customize their images by feeding photos through an artificial intelligence that “repaints” them in the stye of great artists like Van Gogh, Munch, and Picasso.
  • Unlike many other photo apps, Prisma doesn’t simply slap a filter on top. Instead, the AI completely reinterprets the images using a deep learning method known as convolutional neural networks.
  • The iOS app has gone viral with over 650,000 downloads and the top spot in app stores around the region.
  • Russian internet giant Mail.Ru even announced an investment into the product, a 10 percent stake that reportedly amounts to $2 million.
  • Prisma has been praised for its entertainment value and near-immediate feedback.

Ethics of Self-Driving Cars: Who Gets Injured

  • Here is the ethical dilemma. How should the car be programmed to act in the event of an unavoidable accident?
  • Should it minimize the loss of life, even if it means sacrificing the occupants, or should it protect the occupants at all costs?
  • Should it choose between these extremes at random?
  • The answers to these ethical questions are important because they could have a big impact on the way self-driving cars are accepted in society. Who would buy a car programmed to sacrifice the owner?
  • There is no right or wrong answer to these questions, public opinion will play a strong role in how, or even whether, self-driving cars become widely accepted.
  • Bonnefon and Company are seeking to find a way through this ethical dilemma by gauging public opinion. Their idea is that the public is much more likely to go along with a scenario that aligns with their own views.
  • They posed these kinds of ethical dilemmas to several hundred workers. The participants were given scenarios in which one or more pedestrians could be saved if a car were to swerve into a barrier, killing its occupant or a pedestrian.
  • In general, people are comfortable with the idea that self-driving vehicles should be programmed to minimize the death toll.
  • However, people are in favor of cars that sacrifice the occupant to save other lives—as long they don’t have to drive one themselves.
  • Should different decisions be made when children are on board, since they both have a longer time ahead of them than adults.
  • If a manufacturer offers different versions of its moral algorithm, and a buyer knowingly chose one of them, is the buyer to blame for the harmful consequences of the algorithm’s decisions?