Show of 04-01-2017

Tech Talk

April 1, 2017

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Dear Dr. Shurtz and Jim, As usual, great and wonderfully weekly shows; as they are full of information and interesting historical reviews of relevant people that contributed to the computer world.
  • I am not sure that 100% of my emails are getting to my recipients. When I send out an email, I flag the delivered message to Return-a-Delivery-Request notice. Some of my emails do get replies and others just never get any responses. I am sure that I have the email addresses correctly entered and there are no bounce-backs of incorrect address notices. My IP is through AT&T and the security suite offered by them is McAfee. I use Windows-10 and Microsoft Outlook as my proxy email program.
  • The majority of my correspondences are to businesses that provide services or where I am seeking information on their products. Even when I send in a message through their website messaging page, even those are not getting through as well. I went by a local vendor to whom I sent an inquiry through their website and I asked if they received it. They informed me that they did not. Nor did the salesperson receive another email I sent direct to his mailbox. What is going on with my email problems? Thanks, Doug in Baton Rouge, LA
  • Tech Talk Responds: I would send an email to another email account that I own, like Gmail to test whether the emails are getting out. Or to a family member.
  • If emails are not getting out, I would check your outbox to see if any messages are unsent. If you have a message with a very large attachment, it may the problem. Check your sent directory to see if the message in question was sent. Have you recently changed your password? Some outgoing mail servers require a password.
  • Remember that the recipient of your email may choose not to send a Receipt Notice back to you. It is optional. I have turned that option off in my email client for privacy purposes.
  • Here are the steps to troubleshooting Outlook
    • Outlook allows you to work in either offline or online mode. If your mail is still sitting in your outbox and hasn’t been sent, then check your status to ensure you are working in online mode.
    • An address conflict between your email address and the saved address can be the cause of the mail remaining unsent. If the address is not in the address book then add the email address to your address book. This often helps to get that stubborn email sent.
    • Make sure the send options in your Microsoft Outlook are correct by following the steps. Open Outlook, Click the “Tools” tab, Select the “Mail Setup” tab, Ensure that the “Send Immediately” option is checked, Go back into your outbox folder, open the mail and click “send” again.
    • If the above fixes haven’t worked then the problem may be caused by a damaged outbox folder. To create a new outbox folder, or any other standard folder in Outlook, exit the program and then use windows explorer to search for the outbox folder outbox.dbf. Delete this file on your computer. Note that any unsent mail will be lost. When you re-enter Outlook. Outlook will create a new Outbox folder.
    • The final fix you can try is to set up a new mail profile. Make sure you close your Outlook application and then click your start button and select “Control Panel”. Select the Mail or Mail and Fax icons and then click on “Show Profiles”: Select “Add” to add a new profile, Follow the instructions to set up a new mail profile, Start Outlook and try to send you email again.
  • Email from Jean: Listen to your program via podcast and enjoy learning about all the gadgets that become available. Have just been reading about spherical cameras and would like to hear a discussion about them and the advantages that they give photographers. Thanks, Jean
  • Tech Talk Responds: In photography, an omnidirectional camera (from “omni”, meaning all) is a camera with a 360-degree field of view in the horizontal plane, or with a visual field that covers (approximately) the entire sphere. Omnidirectional cameras are important in areas where large visual field coverage is needed, such as in panoramic photography, robotics, and virtual reality.
  • The first wave of 360-degree cameras has arrived, and they let you record everything going on around you at once. If you have a VR headset, such as the Gear VR or Google Cardboard, experience virtual reality and really feel as if you were there. Or you can just watch 360 clips on your phone or laptop after uploading them to YouTube or Facebook.
  • Tom’s Hardware Guide testes several of the 360 cameras and evaluated them on video quality, field of view, water resistance, ease of use and other factors.
  • Their top pick was 360fly 4K ($499). Although it doesn’t take a full 360-degree image in every direction, its image quality was among the best, it was easy to use, and its app was the most full-featured. Their favorite budget model is the LG 360cam ($199), which doesn’t take as good a picture, but is easy to use, and can slide smoothly into your pocket.
  • Surprisingly, of the cameras they tested, only a few of them, including the Giroptic, LG360 and Samsung Gear 360, actually recorded a true spherical image, or something very close to it. The others could record 360 degrees only in one direction. The result is that, when you’re panning around the final video, there’s a large black section (usually at the bottom), which takes away somewhat from a truly immersive experience, especially in VR. A 240 degree fisheye lens is a typical. You have to turn it for a full 360 and that requires stitching. Two back-to-back 180 degree FOV will provide a full 360, but it also requires stitching. They all require a smart phone for the final processing.
  • Email from Ngoc in Ohio: Dear Tech Talk. I all recently got a new iPhone and I lost all my photos in the process. I know that they were backed on the iCloud. What can I do. Love the podcast here in Ohio, Ngoc.
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you have created an iPhone backup with iTunes or iCloud, you have a big chance to get back your disappeared pictures by restoring your iPhone from the backup. But you should know that your iPhone data would be erased and replaced by backup data in this method. If you have taken lots of pictures since you got you new phone this may not be a good option.
  • If you don’t want to erase all data and settings on iPhone to restore disappeared pictures, you can use iPhone backup viewing tools like PhoneRescue to check whether there are some missing photos on iTunes/iCloud backup. And if there are, extract them from backup.
    • Download and install PhoneRescue to your computer.
    • Connect your iPhone to computer with USB cable.
    • Run PhoneRescue on your computer, choose “Recover from iTunes Backup” and click “Next” button on the bottom right corner.
    • Select your iPhone backup and click Next.
    • You can click “Compare” to get only the differences between your iPhone and the backup.
    • After Scan, click Photos on the left panel to preview all photos. Select the items you want to extract, and then click To Computer to extract selected pictures to your computer.
  • Email from June in Burke: Dear Doc and Jim, I got lost in your description of quantum computing last week. What is it actually good for? I could not figure that out. Love the show. June in Burke
  • Tech Talk Responds: The biggest and most important one is the ability to factorise a very large number into two prime numbers. That’s really important because that’s what almost all encryption for internet computing is based on. A quantum computer should be able to do that relatively quickly to get back the prime numbers and that will mean that basically anything that has been with [that] encryption can be de-encrypted. If you were to do it with the classical computers we have now, it would take longer than the age of the universe to go back.
  • Another application is calculating the positions of individual atoms in very large molecules like polymers and in viruses. The way that the particles interact with each other. So if you have a quantum computer you could use it to develop drugs and understand how molecules work a bit better.
  • Why is it faster? A normal computer has bits and each bit [is either] zero or one. A quantum computer has quantum bits. These are made out of quantum particles that can be zero, one, or some kind of state in between. In other words they can have both values at the same time. A quantum bit in a quantum computer could be a photon, an electron, an ion, or some other quantum particle.
  • In a normal computer, a particular calculation might go through all the different possibilities of zeros and ones for a particular calculation. Because a quantum computer can be in all the states at the same time, you just do one calculation [testing a vast number of possibilities simultaneously]. So it can be much quicker

Profiles in IT: Kimberly Bryant

  • Kimberly Bryant is an African American electrical engineer who founded Black Girls Code to teach basic programming concepts to black girls.
  • Kimberly Bryant was born January 14, 1967 in inner city Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Raised by a divorced single mom, Bryant grew up as a self-described “girly-girl” whose favorite activity was playing with dolls.
  • She thought she wanted to be a lawyer, but because she was so talented in science and math, her persuaded her to pursue a college degree in engineering instead.
  • She entered Vanderbilt University in 1985, intending to become a civil engineer, but switched her major to electrical engineering (high voltage electronics).
  • After graduation she landed jobs with Westinghouse and Dupont, in sales and then as a maintenance manager.
  • Bryant then moved from electrical companies to biotechnology and later to pharmaceutical companies, where she worked at Pfizer, Merck, and at Genentech and Novartis.
  • Often she was the only female, and invariably the only black female, in her classes or at industry conferences. Although not an outcast, she felt like an outsider.
  • Bryant was inspired to start Black Girls Code after her gamer daughter, Kai, attended a computing summer camp and was disappointed in the experience.
  • Her daughter was one in a handful of girls at the camp and the only African American. The boys at the camp were given more attention than the girls.
  • Having experienced isolation herself during her time studying and working, she wanted a better environment for her daughter.
  • In 2011, Bryant founded Black Girls Code to find a way to engage and interest her daughter in becoming a digital creative instead of just a consumer.
  • Black Girls Code works with girls of color, from the ages of 7 to 17, in trying to inspire them to get interested in STEM fields,
  • Black Girls Code teaches computer programming to school-age girls in after-school and summer programs, with a goal to teach 1 million black girls to code by 2040.
  • BGC depends on volunteers to design and conduct workshop classes. Professionals from the IT sector share their expertise with the young students, teaching them with the fundamentals of software design in languages such as Scratch or Ruby on Rails.
  • BGC has chapters in Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Miami, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Raleigh-Durham, Memphis, Houston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Johannesburg, South Africa. By 2014, they had trained 3,000 girls to code.
  • In 2013, she was selected for the White House Champions of Change for Tech Inclusion and Business Insider as one of the 25 Most Influential African-Americans In Technology.

History of April Fool’s Day

  • Although the day, also called All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery.
  • Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563.
  • People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes.
  • Historians have also linked April Fools’ Day to ancient festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises.
  • On this day in 1700, English pranksters begin popularizing the annual tradition of April Fools’ Day by playing practical jokes on each other.

April Fool’s Internet Pranks 2017

  • Here are a few of pranks I found on the Internet
  • The Google Gnome device will give homeowners the “connected yard” of their dreams. Just walk outside and speak your command, and Google’s army of helper gnomes will come to the rescue. You can find the device in the Google Store or the Made by Google site.
  • If you don’t need to get to your destination in a hurry, Google Maps added a Ms. Pac-Man mode to further distract you from your task at hand. To play, open your Google Maps app and click on the pink Ms. Pac-Man icon on the right side of the screen. The idea is recycled from 2015’s Pac-Man integration, but hey, if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it.
  • Instead of your standard honk, “Honda Horn Emojis” will play a themed tune appropriately tied to a illustrated expression button on your steering wheel.
  • LEXUS LC’s “Lane Valet,” which moves the slows cars ahead into the next lane over to save drivers a honk.
  • Don’t have time to watch your favorite show? Hulu’s Hu abbreviates not only its name, but shortens episodes into eight seconds (or slightly more) to capture your fleeting attention.
  • The new version of Amazon Alexa called “Petlexa” You dog or cat can communicate with Petlexa to play ball, get some food, or just chat.
  • PETCO’s has just released it poop-scooping drone.
  • Canoeber,” a company in Ely, Minnesota, that wants to be known as the “Uber for canoes” and “the world’s first water-based, ride-sharing service.”
  • You’ll never go without service when you’re wearing your T-Mobile ONEsie. Slip on this wearable tech made from nano technology and you’ll be fully covered, whether through full bars service or literally all-over fitness tracking.
  • Telecommuting has evolved, thanks to the Prysm Avatar. Send your drone to work, and it will project a full-sized hologram of you in your office. Wardrobe options include a “programmer” t-shirt look, a “Silicon Valley” hoodie outfit, and a business casual suit.

Fired Employee Convicted After Trashing Company Server

  • Joe Venzor, a former employee at boot manufacturer Lucchese, had a near total meltdown after he got fired from his IT system administrator position.
  • He shut down the company’s email and application servers and deleted the core system files. Venzor now faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
  • Venzor was let go from his position at the company’s help desk and immediately turned volatile. He left the building at 10:30AM and by 11:30, the company’s email and application servers had been shut down.
  • Because of this, all activities ground to a halt at the factory and employees had to be sent home.
  • When the remaining IT staff tried to restart them, they discovered the core system files had been deleted and their account permissions had been demoted.
  • Eventually the company was forced to hire a contractor to clean up all of the damage, but this resulted in weeks of backlog and lost orders.
  • While recovering from the attack was difficult, finding out who did it was simple. Venzor was clearly the prime suspect given the timing of the incident, so they checked his account history.
  • They discovered he had collected usernames and passwords of his IT colleagues, created a backdoor account disguised as an office printer, and used that account from his official work computer.

Third Installment of Vault 7 CIA Leaks

  • WikiLeaks published the third installment of its Vault 7 CIA leaks.
  • The first installment was the Year Zero files which revealed a number of exploits for popular hardware and software
  • The second installment was the Dark Matter batch which focused on Mac and iPhone exploits.
  • The installment is Marble, a collection of 676 source code files. The documents reveal details of the CIA’s Marble Framework tool, used to hide the true source of CIA malware, and sometimes going as far as appearing to originate from countries other than the US.
  • The source code for Marble Framework is tiny. WikiLeaks has provided it in a zip file that’s only around 0.5MB.
  • WikiLeaks explains that the tool is used by the CIA to hide the fact that it is behind malware attacks that are unleashed on targets.
  • Marble is used to hamper forensic investigators and anti-virus companies from attributing viruses, trojans and hacking attacks to the CIA.
  • Marble does this by hiding text fragments used in CIA malware from visual inspection. This is the digital equivalent of a specialized CIA tool to place covers over the English language text on U.S. produced weapons systems before giving them to insurgents secretly backed by the CIA.
  • Marble forms part of the CIA’s anti-forensics approach and the CIA’s Core Library of malware code.

SpaceX Launches Recycled Rocket

  • Recycled rockets will dramatically reduce the cost of space travel.
  • A used Falcon 9 rocket took off over Cape Canaveral, Florida at 6:27 pm, on a mission to send a communications satellite for Luxembourg-based Company SES into a distant orbit.
  • The first stage, or booster, had already carried the unmanned Dragon cargo ship to space in April 2016.
  • About 10 minutes after launch, the re-used rocket powered its engines and landed upright on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean marked with the words “Of Course I Still Love You.”
  • The landing marked the ninth successful touchdown of a first stage rocket for SpaceX—six on ocean platforms, or drone ships, and three on land.
  • It also marked the first time a single rocket booster had ever been launched—and landed—twice.
  • The goal of the entire effort, Elon Musk has said, is to make rocket parts just as reusable as cars, planes or bicycles.
  • Currently, millions of dollars’ worth of rocket parts are lost after each launch.
  • SpaceX officials have said that reusing hardware could slash costs—with each Falcon 9 launch costing over $61 million—by about 30 percent.