Show of 10-01-2016

Tech Talk

October 1, 2016

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from the other side of the console: Doc, I know you’ve covered this in the past, but I have the cognitive retention skills of a grapefruit. My sister and brother in law live in an area where cell coverage is pretty sketchy. None of the major carriers penetrate their area with a strong signal. What options exist to optimize their cellular coverage? Are there resources available to locate the closest cell tower closest to them (and the provider that owns it)? I’ll hang up and listen for your answer. Signed: “Can you hear me now?” on the other side of the console.
  • Tech Talk Responds: I would suggest a cell phone booster. A typical booster has an antenna for pickup a weak signal and a distribution box for sending an amplified signal. You typically place the antenna so that it can point at the nearest tower. The distribution box is placed centrally in the house. The PC Magazine editors choice for a booster was the weBoost 473120 EQO Cell Phone Booster. It is a complete plug-and-play system that boosts cell phone signal in desktop to 1 room of a house or building. It does this with two main components. The Amplifier (Repeater) pulls in the outside signal then amplifies it up to 32X. It includes a 32-foot coaxial cable to connect the two units. This unit is $349 on Amazon. If you want a system with higher gain, weBoost has a more powerful unit for $550. These units work with all carriers and all bands. As a side note, you can also use Wi-Fi calling if you have reliable a Wi-Fi signal. The latest versions of Android and iPhones support this feature. This is very useful if you have a weak cellular signal in the house. I use it whenever I an in my basement. It switches over automatically.
  • Email from Mike in Maryland: Hello Mr. Big Voice, I love your podcast shows. Can you have your 2 employees (Richard & Jim) to recommend several good indoor TV antennas. I am hoping to capture a lot of TV channels. P.S. Mr Big Voice, with your voice being important to your career, do you do any part-time Ventriloquism gigs? Thanks, Mike from Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: To determine if you have over-the-air HD as an option in your home, visit AntennaWeb or TV Fool for a listing of the stations broadcasting near you. Top-rated HDTV indoor antennas include the Moho Leaf Metro ($20) or the Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse ($40), both non-amplified antennas that hang in a window and plug directly into a TV tuner, or the TERK Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna ($49). You might want amplification unless you’re living right next door to the local broadcast tower. Setup is easy, but you’ll have to play with the antenna position in the window to maximize reception. As for other careers, Mr. Big Voices contract does not let him do any other voice services. He is a Tech Talk Radio exclusive.
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz, Have you ever had the need to use Shodan (shodanhq.com) search engine? This search engine can be used to find devices connected to the Internet. How does it do that? How does one really use it.  Founder of Shodan, John Matherly, may be a good person to profile on Tech Talk. I’m reading Privacy in the Age of Big Data. Again, like Future Crimes, privacy is something of the past, never again to be experienced by anyone except maybe primitive tribes somewhere. Great show. Thanks for all the neat info. Arnie in Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: Shodan can be used to discover which of your devices are connected to the Internet, where they are located and who is using them. Websites are just one part of the Internet. There are power plants, Smart TVs, refrigerators and much more that can be found with Shodan! You can keep track of all the computers on your network that are directly accessible from the Internet. Shodan lets companies understand their digital footprint. Companies use Shodan to see who is using their product. Shodan has servers located around the world that crawl the Internet 24/7 to provide the latest Internet intelligence. Shodan provides a public API that allows other tools to access all of Shodan’s data. Integrations are available for Nmap, Metasploit, Maltego, FOCA, Chrome, Firefox and many more.
  • This search engine pings a range of IP addresses and record the response. John Matherly has created a map of every device on the Internet. It takes him several hours to scan all the IP addresses and a few more to display them graphically. This database is available for anyone to use via a public API. John would be a good option to profile a later show. He is an interesting guy.
  • Email from Carl Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: Please take a look at this website r00tz Asylum (https://r00tz.org/). It’s a website that teaches white hat hacking to young people and has many videos relating to hacking. I believe it would be a good website of the week.  Loyal podcast listener, Carl Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: I have checked this site and it is an excellent resource for those who want to learn white had hacking. The workshops they conduct are designed to inspire kids. The last workshop was August 5-7, 2016 in Las Vegas, NV. It is usually held in conjunction with Def Con, the largest hackers conference. Many of the presentations from those workshops on the website. r00tz Asylum is the Website of the Week.
  • Email from Lucy in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I just returned from a trip to India. While I was there, I could not watch Netflix movies on my iPad even though I have been a loyal subscriber for many years. Is there anything I can do to solve this problem? Love the show. Lacy in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: Netflix is not permitted to stream content to India with its current licensing agreements. So if the IP address that you are streaming from is located in India, it will be blocked. You can work around this problem by using a VPN service and connecting to a US server location. My favorite VPN service is ExpressVPN. They are actively engaged in a VPN war with Netflix and are wining.

Profiles in IT: Roy L. Clay, Sr.

  • Roy L. Clay Sr. designed and built the first Hewlett-Packard computer and is affectionately known as the Godfather of Black Silicon Valley.\
  • When Roy Clay Sr. started programming computers in the Bay Area in 1958, Bill Gates was 3 years old and universities didn’t have computer science programs.
  • Clay was born in 1930 and grew up in Kinloch, Mo., a segregated town of 5,000, in a home without indoor plumbing.
  • He lived in a home with no indoor plumbing, a neighborhood with no streetlights, in an area with a tradition of police picking up black boys like Clay.
  • To earn money, he cleaned a local pool hall. He got good at shooting pool.
  • In elementary school, he displayed an early proficiency and love for mathematics.
  • In 1947, he was admitted to St. Louis University, one of the first blacks to attend.
  • When Clay graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1951, he applied for a job at McDonnell Aircraft and was invited to an interview.
  • But once he got there and the interviewers saw he was black, He was they had no jobs for “professional Negros.”
  • He worked as a teacher, until McDonnell eventually did hire him in 1956, where he and everyone else learned computer programming.
  • He moved to the Bay Area in 1958, working for Lawrence Radiation Laboratory as lead programmer for the fastest computer then built, writing programs to simulate radiation and explosive activities of atomic bombs.
  • In 1962, Control Data hired him as manager of COBOL and Fortran programming.
  • In 1965 applied for a position at Hewlett-Packard Company when they advertised a start-up computer division. He was offered the job as Director.
  • Clay led the team that engineered HP’s entrance into the computer market with the development of the 2116A computer in 1966.
  • Not only was Mr. Clay the Director for the first HP Research and Development Computer Group, he also developed the software for the 2116A computer.
  • Clay expanded HP affirmative action programs, hiring black engineers and recruiting from Morehouse College. He was known as the “godfather of black Silicon Valley.”
  • There were still restaurants where Clay could not dine and places where he could not live. He lived in the only San Jose apartment building that accepted blacks.
  • In the early 1970’s, at the outset of Silicon Valley as we know it today, the premier venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers selected Mr. Clay as the computer consultant for prospective investments in start up companies such as Tandem Computers, Compaq and Intel Corporation.
  • He served as Palo Alto’s first black City Councilman in 1973 and later as vice-mayor.
  • Galvanized by a Nixon-era policy proposal of “benign neglect,” he helped organize networking events for black technology workers.
  • And he started ROD-L Electronics, which set the standard for dielectric testers.
  • Tries to hire minority youth with potential, even if they don’t have right degree.
  • Clay said he looks for characteristics that will ensure success in programming.
  • He looked at the correlation between math and skill games like chess and bridge.
  • When he hired people at HP, he asked if they had hobbies. If they said they liked chess, he hired them.

Dumb Idea of the Week: Drilling Earphone Jack in iPhone 7

  • The new iPhone does not have an earphone jack and some fools are creating their own jack.
  • A hoax video on YouTube appears to have convinced some of the 10 million people who have now watched it that it will.
  • Complaints about the absence of the headphone jack in the new iPhone also made it to Youtube in no time, and TechRax responded with “a very simply tutorial” – just drill a hole in it.
  • If the phone starts flashing “this is perfectly normal,” says the friendly voice as he clamps his brand new iPhone into a vice.
  • “This means you’re on your way to getting a brand new headphone jack,” he says, taking a power drill to it.
  • He then plugs in headphones in the new hole and music begins to play, though rather obviously, through the speakers not the headphones.
  • The man behind the video is a California-based Ukrainian called Taras Maksimuk, who says he specialises in “smashing technology for your pleasure”.
  • In other recent videos he has tested whether the iPhone will survive in a microwave (it doesn’t) or five minutes in a bowl of nitrogen (also no).
  • But his earphone jack video, posted on 17 September, seems to have been taken seriously by some of its 10 million viewers, with Maksimuk saying on Twitter: “Legit people complaining to me about them drilling the iPhone 7 for a headphone jack.”

Security Website Suffers Massive IoT DDoS Attack

  • The huge distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack which wiped security journalist Brian Krebs’ website from the internet came from a million-device-strong Internet of Things botnet.
  • Attack appears to include numerous IoT devices, including security cameras.
  • The attack “included substantial shaped traffic (traffic directly controlled by that botnet operator), rather than merely reflected, amplified unshaped traffic.
  • Krebs’ website was taken down at his request after it had been receiving up to 620Gbps of malicious traffic. He thinks he was targeted because he is currently researching DDoS gangs.
  • Two people were recently arrested in connection with recent DDoS attacks, which may have been one outcome of Krebs’ investigation.
  • DDoS mitigation firm Akamai, which had Krebs as a pro bono customer, struggled to cope with the volume of incoming requests and gave him two hours’ notice of being kicked off their system.
  • Google later stepped in to provide DDoS mitigation through its Project Shield service, meaning Krebs’ website is back up again.
  • Krebs said, on his blog, that the sort of DDoS mitigation protection Akamai gave him (until deciding not to) would cost between $150,000 and $200,000 per annum.
  • “Preliminary analysis of the attack traffic suggests that perhaps the biggest chunk of the attack came in the form of traffic designed to look like it was generic routing encapsulation (GRE) data packets, a communication protocol used to establish a direct, point-to-point connection between network nodes,” he added.

Bid to block US Internet handover rejected

  • A judge in Texas has rejected a last-ditch legal challenge to halt the final handover of internet naming power from the US government to a non-profit group.
  • The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) has administered the naming system since 1998.
  • But from 1 October it will operate without the ultimate oversight of the US government.
  • Four US states filed a joint motion on Thursday in an attempt to block the handover from going ahead, arguing it could disrupt freedom of speech.
  • Backers of the move said it was essential to preserve the independence of the internet amid growing pressure to remove the US’s dominance over the Domain Name System (DNS), a crucial component of how the web operates.
  • The DNS links easy to remember domain names, such as bbc.com, to the harder to remember IP addresses, strings of numbers that points to the correct server containing the website.
  • Icann has had the task of administering this system for almost three decades, but the US government has held the power to veto any decision it made – something it very rarely did.
  • The handover will remove this power, instead making Icann – which is a body consisting of many interested parties, including nation states – entirely independent.

igNobel Prizes have been announced

  • The chemistry prize goes to Volkswagen for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.
  • The awards were announced at Harvard University by Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable Research.
  • This marked the 26th year of the contest that celebrates scientific studies that “make you laugh, and then think.”
  • But perhaps the ultimate exploration of animal confusion goes to Charles Foster and Thomas Thwaites. Foster is an ethicist and veterinarian based in Oxford, U.K.; Thwaites is a technologist based in London, and both of them have spent significant amounts of time pretending to not be humans. Foster, who wanted to better understand the nonhuman “worldview,” lived for days at a time as a badger, sleeping all day and roaming the forest all night on his hands and knees hunting for earthworms to eat. The animal of choice for Thwaites was an elephant, but he deemed it too dangerous and difficult of a transformation, so he settled on being a goat.
  • This required the design of prosthetic limbs and intense physical training. He spent days with goats in the Swiss Alps, chewing grass and generally trying to fit in with the herd. What did he learn from his immersive exploration of the goat world? It’s crucial to have friends in the intensely hierarchical world of the herd, and Thwaites says he was lucky to have a goat “buddy
  • REPRODUCTION PRIZE
  • The late Ahmed Shafik of Cairo University, for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for then conducting similar tests with human males.
  • ECONOMICS PRIZE
  • Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective.
  • PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE
  • Evelyne Debey, Maarten De Schryver, Gordon Logan, Kristina Suchotzki, and Bruno Verschuere, for asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers.
  • PEACE PRIZE
  • Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit.”
  • LITERATURE PRIZE
  • Fredrik Sjöberg, for his three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead.
  • PERCEPTION PRIZE
  • Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.