May 6, 2017
Email and Forum Questions
- Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Dear Dr. Shurtz and Jim (Hey, to Mr. Big Voice also), I have a problem. I use one or another Bluetooth wireless headset occasionally during TV watching (see specs listed below). One of my Bluetooth headsets (Travelocity) works fine when connected to the Mee Wireless Audio Transmitter for TV’s and other audio devices. The other Bluetooth headset (Everlast), when connected to the Mee, has a split second latency that makes the TV sound out-of-sync with the visual spoken word. Just listening to audible music with either unit through the Mee does not matter about the latency, as long as there is no visual involved. What is going on with the headset with the delayed audio when used with TV watching? How can I avoid making a Bluetooth mistake and what should I look for in these kinds of sound/visual wireless connected Bluetooth devices? Have you done a Profiles In I.T. on Konrad Zuse yet? He was a 1937 Berliner that assembled his creation called the Z1, his “experimental-made-computer”. As usual, your podcasts have been so informative, full of great information and entertaining! You do it so effortless and natural. –Thanks, Doug / Baton Rouge, LA
- Tech Talk Responds: Bluetooth does have a latency problem. Not all headsets are created equally. Some headsets have latency as high as 266 ms, which is quite noticeable. However, one user found that his Bose Bluetooth wireless headset (expensive) had no latency. The Everlast is a inexpensive headset with a latency problem. It may also not be using the Bluetooth 4.0 spec.
- Latency on TV viewing is a common problem that is even acknowledged on the Mee support page. Some modern TVs and receivers also have an audio delay option in their settings menu, which should be set to 0 to minimize lag. Usually they have audio delayed because video processing takes longer. My advice is to always get headsets that can be returned and then check them out to see if they have a latency problem. I did do Konrad Zuse in 2008, but he bears repeating. Good suggestion.
- Email from Jean: Its me again-Jean. Wonderful to have someone who can answer my questions. Saved me a lot of money on buying an OLED TV. Thanks. Just heard about how a pineapple (weird name) can pick up information. Wanted to know t if it could pick up information if you have a VPN address. Scary product! Jean
- Tech Talk Responds: The WiFi Pineapple NANO and TETRA are rogue access points. They can be deployed for WiFi man-in-the-middle attacks. At the core of the WiFi Pineapple is PineAP, an advanced suite of wireless penetration testing tools for reconnaissance, man-in-the-middle, tracking, logging and reporting. There are also sniffers that can grab unencrypted passwords and user names at the public Wi-Fi network, like AirSnort or Wireshark. I always use a VPN (ExpressVPN, $99 per year). If you don’t have a VPN, always make certain to use HTTPS for login, if it is supported by the site (Gmail, Facebook, etc.). If you want to play with some of the hacking tools, you can download and install Kali Linux. You will need to create a virtual client for the installation. The good news is that you will be learning both Linux and hacking at the same time. A good career move.
- Email from Doug in Kilmarkock: I recently purchased a Visio TV with a sound bar. The TV has an HDMI port called HDMI ARC. I connected my sound bar using the fiber optic connection, but the user manual recommends HDMI ARC. Please clarify this for me. Thanks. Doug in Kilmarmock, VA.
- Tech Talk Responds: HDMI ACR is no ordinary HDMI port. HDMI ARC can greatly simplify your audio cabling needs and setup if you know where to look for it and how to implement it. Historically, an AV receiver was the heart of the home media experience, and everything connected through it. Many newer HDTVs, with smart features built in, can serve as the hub. Without a receiver handling the audio in a central location, how do you get the sound from the HDTV to the auxiliary speakers, like your soundbar? You could rely on the 30 year old optical cable standard, but fortunately there is a newer and better standard. Since HDMI 1.4, HDMI has supported a specification known as HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) that offers two-way communication. In theory, using this feature should be as simple as plugging in an HDMI cable. Even though HDMI ARC has been around since 2008, the way manufacturers have implemented varies. Some manufacturer’s only label their HDMI ARC ports as “ARC”, some don’t even label them at all. Vizio actually puts both “Audio Out” and “ARC” on there, giving consumers a chance to figure out what’s going on. In the case of this Sony sound bar, the ARC port is labeled “TV (ARC)” and “HDMI Out”.
- On more observation. In the race to create ever slimmer HDTVs, there’s a seldom discussed sacrifice being made: sound quality. Your TV’s built-in speakers are probably terrible, but if you want to fix their anemic sound, adding a sound bar is an easy, inexpensive, and space-saving way to do so. Doug already figured this out.
- Email from Mai in Vietnam: Dear Doc and Jim. I am meeting someone at a rock festival. It is very hard to get the location right. Is there any way that I can temporarily share my location with someone so they can easily find me? Love the podcast. Mai in Vietnam
- Tech Talk Responds: Google Maps can help you both out. This relatively new feature shows your location right on your friend’s map—and his on yours—even if you’re both moving around. And if you’ve got Google Maps open, it’s easy to start sharing your location, assuming the person you want to share locations with is also a Google Maps user.
- You know that blue dot that shows you where you are? Tap that blue dot and you’ll see a few options, including sharing your location. You can choose how long to share your location—the default is one hour. Once you decide how long to share your location, you can then choose specific contacts to share your location with using the “Select People” button. You can scroll through your contacts and choose someone to share with. The list will be populated with Google users in your contacts list. If the person you want to share your location with is not on the list, you can also send a link via SMS or any messaging app. The person you share your location with will get a notification. When they click through, they will see your location on their map.
- The other user will also have the option to share their location with you, making it much easier for you to find each other. Location updates do not come in real time, but frequently enough to give you an idea of how close you are to each other.
- Email from Jim in Kansas: Dear Tech Talk. I just bought a new Windows 10 laptop and it is loaded with bloatware. I would like to install a clean version without the bloat. What is the easiest way to do this? Jim in Kansas
- Tech Talk Responds: Resetting your PC will reset it to the way you got it from the factory–which includes all the software the manufacturer originally installed on your PC. From annoying bloatware to useful software drivers.
- To get rid of the bloatware for a clean, fresh-from-Microsoft Windows 10 system, you previously had to download Windows 10 installation media, create a USB drive or DVD, and then reinstall Windows 10 yourself.
- Windows’ new “Fresh Start” feature makes this process much simpler, allowing normal PC users to completely reinstall Windows in a few clicks. Just follow the instructions to quickly and easily reinstall Windows 10 on a new PC.
- The downside is that you’ll lose all the manufacturer-installed software on your PC (bloatware, drivers, and software). Drivers and software can probably be downloaded from your PC manufacturer’s website. Make sure you get any necessary license keys or registrations before you do this. They can’t be downloaded.
- If you don’t see the Fresh Start application, you haven’t upgraded to the Creators Update yet.
Profiles in IT: Konrad Zuse
- Konrad Zuse was a German computer pioneer, who build the world’s first programmable computer. Zuse is regarded as the inventor of the modern computer.
- Born on June 22, 1910, in Berlin, Germany.
- In 1930, he enrolled in the Technical University of Berlin, graduating in with a degree in civil engineering in1935. He briefly tried architecture, but found it boring.
- He started work as a design engineer at the Henschel aircraft factory. This required many routine hand calculations, leading him to dream of doing them by machine.
- In 1935, he experimented in the construction of computers in his parents’ apartment. Working in his parents’ apartment. His first attempt, Z1, was finished in 1936.
- The Z1 was a floating point binary mechanical calculator with limited programmability, reading instructions from a perforated 35 mm film.
- He finished the Z1 in 1938. The Z1 contained some 30,000 metal parts and never worked well due to insufficient mechanical precision. He worked in isolation from other scientists.
- In 1939, Zuse was called to military service, where he was given the resources to build the Z2 using telephone relays. It covered several rooms in the parental flat.
- In 1941, Zuse finished ehe Z3, a binary 22-bit floating point calculator featuring loops but without conditional jumps, also using telephone relays.
- The Z3, the first fully operational electromechanical computer. It was partially financed by German government, but was viewed as was denied as “strategically unimportant”.
- Work was halted when his laboratory was destroyed by an Allied bomb strike in 1945. The partially finished, relay-based Z4 was packed and moved from Berlin that year.
- Work on the Z4 could not be resumed until 1949. He showed it to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich who ordered one in 1950.
- On 8 November 1949, Zuse KG was founded. The Z4 was delivered to ETH Zurich on 12 July 1950, and proved very reliable. By 1967, the Zuse KG had built a total of 251 computers. Due to financial problems, the company was then sold to Siemens.
- In 1940, the German government began funding him. Zuse built the S1 and S2 computing machines, which were special purpose devices which computed aerodynamic corrections to the wings of radio-controlled flying bombs.
- The S2 featured an integrated analog-to-digital converter under program control, making it the first process-controlled computer.
- Zuse realised that programming in machine code was too complicated. He started working on a PhD thesis containing the first high-level programming language, Plankalkül (“Plan Calculus. As an example, he created the first real computer chess engine.
- After the 1945, unable to do any hardware development, he continued working on Plankalkül. The PhD thesis was submitted at University of Augsburg, but it was not accepted because he failed to pay his registration fee. His work influenced the design of ALGOL.
- While Zuse never became a member of the Nazi Party, he is not known to have expressed any doubts or qualms about working for the Nazi war effort.
- After he retired, he focused on his hobby of painting. Zuse was an atheist.
- Zuse died on 18 December 1995 in Germany from heart failure.
Sign of the Times: Data is the Most Valuable Resource
- The World’s Most Valuable Resource is No Longer Oil, But Data, a according to the Economist.
- A new commodity is at the center of fast-growing industry, prompting antitrust regulators to step in to restrain those who control its flow.
- A century ago, the resource in question was oil.
- Now similar concerns are being raised by the giants that deal in data, the oil of the digital era
- These companies (Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft) look unstoppable. They are the five most valuable listed firms in the world.
- Their profits are growing. They collectively earned over $25B in net profit in the first quarter of 2017.
- Amazon captures half of all dollars spent online in America.
- Google and Facebook accounted for almost all the revenue growth in digital advertising in America last year.
- Such dominance has prompted calls for the tech giants to be broken up, as Standard Oil was in the early 20th century.
Crazy Idea of the Week: UAE To Drag Iceberg From Antarctica.
- The UAE, which is among the top 10 water-scarce countries in the world, hopes to help ease the stress of a drinking water shortage by towing an iceberg from the Antarctica in order to create more drinking water.
- An average iceberg contains “more than 20 billion gallons of water” which would be enough for one million people over five years.
- Up to four-fifths of an iceberg’s mass is underwater, and due to their vast density, they would theoretically not melt in the climate of the Middle Eastern coastal line.
- It could take up to a year to drag the huge body of ice up to the UAE, and the project is set to begin in 2018.
Hackers Strike Again: The French Election This Time
- A large collection of emails from the campaign of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron was posted online a little more than a day before voters go to the polls in France.
- Macron is running against far-right rival Marine Le Pen.
- Some nine gigabytes of data were posted by a user called EMLEAKS to Pastebin, a document-sharing site that allows anonymous posting.
- It was not immediately clear who was responsible for posting the data or whether the emails were genuine.
- In a statement, Macron’s political movement confirmed that it had been hacked.
- They acknowledge a massive and co-ordinated hack which has given rise to the diffusion on social media of various internal information.
- The documents released online only showed the normal functioning of a presidential campaign, but that authentic documents had been mixed on social media with fake ones to sow “doubt and misinformation.”
Kentucky Derby Changed Forever by Technology
- Technology has had a great impact on the Kentucky Derby. Here are the top eight changes.
- The Automatic Gate — Clay Puett invented the first closed-door automatic starting gate in 1939. Before that, races started with horses standing in front of a rope, and false starts were incredibly common.
- The Photo Finish — There used to be a judge standing at the finish line of the Kentucky Derby to determine who won the race. Today, we have motion-sensitive digital cameras.
- Surveillance Cameras — It used to be that interfering with a horse before the Kentucky Derby just required slipping past the security guards posted outside the barns. Then you could go about your business of trying to slow down a rival horse by sticking sponges deep in its nose. Churchill Downs has video surveillance of every stall, in every barn.
- The Biomechanical Hoof Tester — Churchill Downs runs a mechanical horse hoof robot that hits the ground at 1,000 pounds of force at 70 miles an hour across the entire track. The device that attaches to the back of a van also uses radar to examine the track several feet below the surface. Mick Peterson, an engineering professor at the University of Maine, invented the machine. He discovered that the different layers on a track, up to a foot under the surface, have a dramatic impact on how horses can run and when they get injured.
- Swarm Artificial Intelligence — Last year, an artificial intelligence algorithm created by Unanimous A.I. correctly predicted the superfecta results for the Kentucky Derby, or the first four placings in order. The A.I. is using algorithms to interpret the bets of the masses to figure out what the most likely scenarios actually are. It’s announced its prediction for the 2017 Kentucky Derby superfecta, and if it guesses correctly it could indicate the beginning of an entirely new era of handicapping.
Senator says FBI paid $900K for iPhone hacking tool
- Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate committee that oversees the FBI, said publicly this week that the government paid $900,000 to break into the locked iPhone of a gunman in the San Bernardino, California, shootings.
- The FBI considers the figure to be classified information. It also has protected the identity of the vendor it paid to do the work.
- Feinstein cited the amount while questioning FBI Director James Comey at a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing Wednesday.
- The federal government paid the money as it cut short a court fight with Apple Inc., which was resisting a magistrate judge’s order to help the Justice Department hack into the phone.
- An unidentified third party came forward last March, ahead of a much-anticipated court hearing, with a solution to open the device.
- The AP and other news organizations last year filed a public records lawsuit to learn how much the FBI paid, and the identity of the vendor.
Beware: Clever Google Docs Phishing Scam
- If you get a request to access a Google Doc, don’t click it.
- As you may have heard, there’s a phishing scam going around, a con intended to steal your information and pass itself on to all your friends and contacts.
- The scam works like this: You get an email from a friend asking you to look at a Google Doc.
- When you click yes, Google Docs asks for permission to your account, including the permission to see and manage your email, as well as your contact lists.
- So far, you’re fine, but the second you click that button, your account will send out messages to all of your contacts with a link similar to the one you got in an attempt to spread itself further. It then deletes itself from your account.
- Most phishing scams are possible to spot because, to some degree or another, they don’t look right. This scam, it seems, suffers from none of these failings because it is done almost completely through Google’s legitimate system.
- This scam appears to use an actual legitimate third-party Google application that somehow got the name “Google Docs.” Therefore, when it asks for permission to access your account, it’s doing so on the up and up. Since it’s using Google’s actual framework, it doesn’t have to fake anything, making it next-to-impossible to spot.
- It’s not stealing your password through nefarious means or anything; it is legitimately asking for access to your account and even spelling out what that access is before you click.
- In the meantime, be careful. Don’t give any applications permission to your account unless you’ve vetted them as best as you can. And don’t click on any Google Doc requests you aren’t expecting for a while.
- Important Update: Google has taken action to protect users against an email impersonating Google Docs and has disabled offending accounts. They have removed the fake pages, pushed updates through Safe Browsing