Show of 12-17-2016

Tech Talk

December 17, 2016

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Lilly in Fairfax: Dear Doc and Jim. Why am I getting a delay notification on an email I sent? I am trying to send an e-mail to a co-worker and I keep getting the following message:
    • Delivery Status Notification (Delay). This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification. THIS IS A WARNING MESSAGE ONLY. YOU DO NOT NEED TO RESEND YOUR MESSAGE.
  • The strange thing is that it is only happening with that specific e-mail address. What does it mean, and why it is happening? Enjoy the show. Lilly in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: Email uses a transfer method called ďstore and forward.Ē When you send an email, itís received by a mail server, stored for some period of time, and then forwarded to the next server in the path on its way to your recipient. Eventually it is received by the recipientís mail server, where itís stored until the recipient downloads it, or reads it online. The time that a server holds your message before forwarding it is typically very short, which is why email often appears to be nearly instant. There could be any number of delays along the emailís path to your recipient. The most likely delay is that recipientís mail server is temporarily offline. Rather than fail to deliver the email, your mail server keeps trying to pass the message along and send you a delayed delivery message. It keeps trying for around five days, then is stops and sends you a Failed Delivery message. If you message is urgent, you might try calling them.
  • Email from Tung in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I am trying to call my friends in Vietnam. I would like use a cheap Internet connection. What are my options? Love the show. Tung in Ohio
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are a number of voice-over-IP options. If your friends also have Internet access with data, the ca is completely free. If they donít have a data connection, you will have to call either their landline or their mobile phone connection. You can use Skype on either a laptop or on your cell phone. Skype client to skype client is a free call. If you use Skype to call a phone number in Vietnam is around 10 cents a minutes. This is called Skype Out and you will have to put money into your prepaid account. I like to use Viber on my iPhone. If your friends have Viber and they have data access, it will automatically ring and the call will be free. You can also Viber Out to a phone number for the same price as Skype. I my case I have Ooma which is a VoIP phone system for the house. I have place about $30 in a prepaid account. If I call overseas, the Ooma rates are automatically at the low VoIP rate and I donít have to do anything special. When I travel I used Viber whenever I have Wi-Fi access. Internal calling through the Telcoís is dying fast.
  • Email form Jim in Michigan: Dear Tech Talk. I keep seeing this option to eject my USB drive before removing it. Is that really necessary or can I just pull it out. Enjoy the show. Jim in Michigan.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Computers use something called write caching to improve performance: if you copy something to your drive, itíll tell you itís completed the task, but itís actually waiting until it has a few other tasks to perform so it can do them all at once. When you press eject, your PC finishes anything in the queue to make sure you donít incur any data loss. Windows does a better job of avoiding problems than OS X and Linux, but we recommend ejecting all your drives anyway. It is worth keeping your data safe.
  • Email from Lee in North Carolina: Dear Doc and Jim. I am having trouble connecting my new Bluetooth speaker to my laptop. Sometimes it works. Other times, it just wonít link. What can I do go get a reliable connection? Love the show Lee in North Carolina. Lee in North Carolina
  • Tech Talk Responds: Bluetooth depends on both hardware and software to work properly. What you can do about pairing failures
    • Make sure Bluetooth is turned on.
    • Determine which pairing process your device employs. The process for pairing devices can vary. Sometimes, for example, it involves tapping a code into your phone. Other times, you can just physically touch your phone to the device you want to pair it with. Or in the case of the Bose SoundLink, you only have to hold down a button on the speaker to pair it with a phone.
    • Turn on discoverable mode.
    • Once it finds your phone, the car may ask for a numeric code you need to confirm or input on your phone.
    • Make sure the two devices are in close enough proximity to one another.
    • Power the devices off and back on.
    • Power down likely interferers. You may be connecting to your spouseís device by mistake.
    • Delete a device from a phone and rediscover it.
    • Get away from the Wi-Fi router.
    • Make sure the devices you want to pair are designed to connect with each other.
    • Download a driver. If youíre having problems pairing something with your PC, you might be lacking the correct driver.

 

Profiles in IT: Andrew W. Houston

  • Andrew W. “Drew” Houston is best known as co-founder and CEO of Dropbox, an online backup and storage service.
  • Drew Houston was born in Acton, Massachusetts in 1983.
  • Growing up in suburban Boston he began tinkering at age 5 with an IBM PC Junior. His mother, correctly deducing that her son was becoming a code geek, made him learn French and hang out with the jocks, and refused to let him skip a grade.
  • At 14 Houston signed up to beta test an online game, and began rooting out security flaws. They soon hired him as their networking programmer, in exchange for equity.
  • He attended Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in the 1990s.
  • In 2005, Drew graduated with a degree in Computer Science from the MIT, where he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
  • He worked at startups throughout high school and college, including Bit9, Accolade and Hubspot. Dropbox is his sixth.
  • Houston conceived of Dropbox on a bus trip from Boston to New York:
  • He had left his USB drive on his desk at home, leaving him with nothing to do.
  • He opened his text editor and started writing the first lines of code of Dropbox.
  • While still at MIT, Houston met Arash Ferdowsi, co-founder and CTO of Dropbox, through a friend at MIT and showed him an early version of Dropbox.
  • Houston founded Dropbox, Inc. in June 2007, and shortly thereafter secured seed funding from Y Combinator.
  • They eventually moved to San Francisco and received their first venture capital investment from Sequoia Capital, early investors in Google and Apple.
  • Dropbox officially launched at 2008’s TechCrunch50.
  • Due to trademark disputes, Dropbox’s official domain name was “getdropbox.com” until October 2009, when they acquired their current domain, “dropbox.com”.
  • His initial video describing Dropbox went viral while Dropbox was still in beta.
  • In December 2009, Steve Jobs met with Drew and tried to buy Dropbox saying it was just feature. Drew turned him down and Apple launched iCloud in June 2011.
  • Google Drive would launch April 2012. Dropbox had to scale or be crushed.
  • Dropbox solved the ďfreemiumĒ riddle, with revenue on track to hit $240M in 2011.
  • In August 2011, he raised $250M on a $4B valuation from the five top tech VCs.
  • In May 2011, Dropbox struck deals with Softbank and Sony Ericsson to come preloaded on their mobile telephones. He had to penetrate the Android market.
  • In April 2012, Dropbox announced a new feature to automatically upload photos to up to 3GB of free space, a move against Google Drive and MS SkyDrive.
  • As of 26 September 2012, Facebook and Dropbox integrated.
  • As of March 2016, Dropbox has 500 million users, up from 300 million in 2014.
  • Drewís net worth is estimated to be around $1.39B in 2014.

Gifts for Techies

  • Bose QuiteComfort QC35 Wireless Headset. The gold standard in noise cancellation headsets is finally wireless (bluetooth) $349
  • Google Home. The Google Home smart speaker is the new rival to Amazon Echo. It features the AI-powered Google Assistant. For those enthusists who are on the Google eco-system.
  • Amazon Echo. Get Amazon Smart Assistant, Alexa, to play music, give news or weather. Competes with Google Home. $179
  • Google Nest. The smart thermostat for the home. Programs itself, connects to smart phone, easy to install $199.
  • Macbook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID. The new model is sleeker, lighter, and more powerful than the model it replaced. Available in 13 and 15 screens. From $1,799.
  • Microsoft Surface Book. With a magnesium body and detachable display. Excellent battery life. With this 2-in-1 notebook, MS has designed a winner. From $1,299.
  • Acer Chromebook 14, Aluminum, 14-inch Full HD, Intel Celeron Quad-Core N3160, 4GB LPDDR3, 32GB. $299.
  • HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer. Designed to work with Apple iPhone and Android smartphones via a free app, the Bluetooth printer uses zero ink photo paper. $130
  • Skullcandy Ink’d Wireless Earbuds. Lightweight and comfortable, 8-hour battery life, many colors. from $47
  • Apple Watch Series 2. Much better than the original. It is fully waterproof, equipped with GPS, bright display. from $269
  • Anki Cozmo mobile robot. Powered by sophisticated AI, Cozmo is self-aware, can recognize its owner, express feelings, and loves to play games. You can add features using its developerís platform.
  • DJI Phantom 4 Drone. This drone can capture 4K video. It also supports slow motion in full HD. It can automatically avoid obtacles and track moving objects. Maximum speed 44 mph. 28 minutes of flight time. $1,400
  • Google Pixel or Pixel XL for the Google Pi enthusiast. If you are in the Google eco-system this phone is for you. It has an earphone jack. from $650
  • Apple iPhone7 or iPhone7 Plus. If you are an Apple fan, the latest phone has powerful hardware, an exceptional cmaera and stereo speakers. And its fully waterproof. From $649
  • Roku Express. A new ultra-compact design, it turns any TV with HDMI intoT a smart TV. Supports all streaming services with multiple content channels. Great remote. $29
  • Apple TV (4th Generation). Touch and voice control, support for Siri, 4K content, connects to iPhone. All streaming services. $149.
  • Fitbit Charge 2. The new Fitbit Charge 2 is user-friendly, features continuous heart-rate tracking, GPS, OLED touchscreen, and swappable wristband. It tracks health data using smart phone. $150
  • TP-Link Smart Light Bulb. Wi-Fi enabled, it doesn’t require a smart hub. Compatible with Amazon Echo. $30.
  • Phillips Hue Smart Starter Kit. It you want colors this is the one for you. Its expensive, but fun. Three bulbs and a hub (that supports 50 bulbs). $199
  • Logitech Harmony Elite. The best universal remote control available. Has Wi-Fi connectivity. Supports 270,000 devices. Very easy to set up. I have the older model and love it. $298
  • Any flat screen TV. This is the year of the cheap flat screen TVs. The prices have really dropped. If you want to be future proofed make certain to get 4K support. Its more expensive, but worth it.
  • Code-a-pilar. It tasks your kids with discovering basic if/then combinations that are great for STEM learning. Each segment on the code-a-pillar lights up and it has a motorized head that has lights, sounds, and blinking eyes. The idea is to challenge your kids to figure out the proper segment order to get to specific targets that you lay out on the floor, and when doing it, theyíll have a blast while learning a basic foundation of coding. $36.99.
  • littleBits Electronics Arduino Coding Kit. It uses a snap module system that is easy to understand. It comes with 8 skteches for beginners, including a Mouse Control, how to buiild a basic Etch-a-Sketch, and more, and there are a thousand more instructions that can be found online in the Arduino community. The kit also works with other littleBits kits, so the more kits that they have, the more theyíll be able to build. $89.95
  • Geno 2.0 Next Generation Genographic Helix DNA Ancestry Kit from National Greographic. Track your ancestry through DNA. Both maternal and paternal for men. Only maternal for women. $149

Tech Firms Team to Battle Terrorism Online

  • Facebook has teamed up with Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft to fight the proliferation of terrorist content on the Web.
  • The companies will create a shared industry database of hashes for violent terrorist imagery, terrorist recruitment videos, or images they have removed from their services.
  • They may use these shared hashes to help identify potential terrorist content on their platforms. Hashes to be shared will apply to content that’s most likely to violate all the companies’ content policies.
  • No personally identifiable information will be shared. There will be no automated takedowns of terrorism-related content. Each company will retain its own process for dealing with appeals against its removal of content.
  • The four will apply their own transparency and review practices when responding to any government requests.
  • All four of the tech participants that teamed in the latest initiative already have launched separate efforts to counter terrorist activities online, in some cases through other partnerships.
  • Twitter earlier this year outlined its policy, which includes deactivating accounts linked to terrorism groups, cooperating with law enforcement entities when appropriate, and partnering with organizations working to counter extremist content online.

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla will make the Web run faster

  • Browser makers have agreed to move forward with a new web standard that aims to bring “near native” performance to the web for online games, music streaming, VR and AR, cryptography, and other applications.
  • The new standard, dubbed WebAssembly or wasm, has now moved to the ‘browser preview’ phase following its first public airing in June and early experimental implementations this March.
  • It is expected to remain in preview until the first quarter 2017, after which the group will write a draft specification of WebAssembly, and browser makers can begin introducing it in browsers.
  • WebAssembly, a new runtime, can be thought of as a “virtual CPU for the web” that enables more powerful web applications to run in a sandboxed environment. The standardized binary format is meant to take the web beyond the limits of JavaScript, but still integrate with the language.
  • WebAssembly is being implemented in the respective JavaScript engines of each browser, including Chrome’s V8, Firefox’s SpiderMonkey, Microsoft’s Chakra, and Apple’s WebKit JavaScriptCore. They’re currently implemented behind a flag in Chrome and Firefox, while Microsoft has developed an internal build of Edge with WebAssembly.
  • If all goes to plan, by the first quarter of 2017 it will be shipped by all browsers as on by default.