Show of 07-29-2017

Tech Talk

July 29, 2017

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Judy in Florida: Dear Doc and Jim. My mother has a Windows 10 laptop and struggles with it. Is there a way that I can assist her remotely from my Windows 10 computer without having to buy additional software? Drive two hours to her home in Naples just takes too much time. Love the podcast here in Florida. Judy
  • Tech Talk Responds: Windows offers a few built-in tools for performing remote assistance over the Internet. Since you are both using Windows 10 (Anniversary Update), you can use the built-in “Quick Assist” app to do this. If one of you is using Windows 7 or 8, you can use the older Windows Remote Assistance. Windows Remote Assistance is also included in Windows 10, just in case you need it.
  • First, open the Quick Assist application by searching your Start menu for “Quick Assist” and launching the Quick Assist shortcut.
  • Click “Give Assistance”. You will then have to sign in with your Microsoft account. After you do, you will receive a security code that expires in ten minutes. If your code expires, you can always just click “Give assistance” again to get a new one that will be valid for another ten minutes.
  • Your mother will have to open Quick Assist on her computer in the same way. She will then need to click “Get Assistance” in the Quick Assist window that appears. She will be prompted to enter the security code you received. She must enter this code within ten minutes from the time you received it. She will then see a confirmation prompt will have to agree to give you access to their PC.
  • The connection will now be established. It may take a few minutes before the devices connect, so you may have to be patient. Once connected, you will see your mother’s desktop in a wind on your computer. You will have all the privileges the computer’s owner has, so you won’t be restricted from changing any system settings. You can troubleshoot her computer, change settings, check for malware, install software, or do anything else you would do if you were sitting in front of their computer.
  • At the top right corner of the window, you’ll see icons that let you draw on the screen, change the size of the window, remotely restart the computer, open the task manager, or pause or end the Quick Assist connection.
  • At any time, either person can end the connection simply by closing the application from the “Quick Assist” bar at the top of the screen.
  • Email from Tuc in Virginia Beach: Dear Tech Talk. I frequently need to log into my computer over the Internet when I am travelling. It is sometimes not on and that is a problem. How can I remotely turn on my Windows computer? Enjoy the podcast. Tuc in Virginia Beach
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can turn on your computer remotely using Wake-on Lan, which is an industry standard protocol for waking computers up from a very low power mode remotely. Low power mode means while the computer is “off” with access to a power source. The protocol also allows for a supplementary Wake-on-Wireless-LAN ability as well.
  • Wake-on-LAN-enabled computers essentially wait for a “magic packet” to arrive that includes the network card’s MAC address in it. These magic packets are sent out by professional software made for any platform. The typical ports used for WoL magic packets are UDP 7 and 9.
  • You will have to enable it in your BIOS and within Windows of the machine the are waking. To enter the BIOS, you’ll need to press a key as you boot your computer—usually Delete, Escape, or F2. Once you’re in the BIOS setup, check under Power Management or Advanced Options. Check enable Wake-on-LAN. You may have to search a while to find it. If you’re having trouble, check your computer or motherboard’s manual or do a quick Google search.
  • You’ll also need to enable Wake-on-LAN in your operating system. Open the Start menu and type “Device Manager”. Open the Device Manager and expand the “Network Adapters” section. Right click on your network card and go to Properties, then click on the Advanced tab. Scroll down in the list to find “Wake on Magic Packet” and change the Value to “Enabled.” Now click the Power Management tab, and make sure the “Allow this device to wake the computer” and “Only allow a magic packet to wake the computer” boxes are enabled. Click OK when you’re done.
  • Open up your System Preferences and choose Energy Saver. You should see “Wake for Network Access” or something similar. This enables Wake-on-LAN.
  • To send out Wake-on-LAN requests, you have many options available. Depicus (depicus.com/) has an excellent series of lightweight tools to get the job done, including a GUI-based one for Windows. You may need to tweak other settings in that program for it to work, so refer to the program’s manual for more info on Wake-on-LAN. If your program doesn’t automatically handle the network connections for Wake-on-LAN, you’ll need to set up your router to forward UDP ports number 7 and 9, specifically for the MAC address of the PC you’re connecting to.
  • Email from John in Pennsylvania: Dear Tech Talk. I recently bought an Amazon Echo during the Prime Day sale. I am trying to link it to my smart home devices or type my iPhone. I need some help. Please point me in the right direction. Thanks for a great show. John in Pennsylvania.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Before beginning, update the firmware and companion software for the smarthome devices and hubs you intend to add to Alexa. Next, go through your smarthome devices and make sure that all of the names, settings, labels, and so on are to your liking. For example, instead of a Philips Hue bulb named “Lamp 1”, you might consider changing it to “Bedside Lamp”.
  • Before you can add smarthome devices to Alexa, we will need to enable the respective smarthome Alexa skills first. So tap on “Smart Home Skill”. If you have Philips Hue lights, you’ll want to install the Hue skill. If you have a Nest Thermostat, you will need to enable the Nest skill, etc.
  • Once you’re finished with that, we’re ready to begin adding devices to Alexa. Go back and tap on “Discover” at the bottom of the screen. The Alexa app will begin scanning your network for any connected smarthome devices it supports. With Philips Hue, you have to go tap the physical button on the Hue Bridge in order for Alexa to access it. Other smarthome products will not require any physical step.
  • Once the app is done scanning, you’ll see a list of smarthome devices that were successfully added. If nothing appears, it’s likely that you need to install the necessary Alexa skill for it.
  • Alexa will import room settings from Philips Hue, so you will not have to group together lights into rooms within the Alexa app, but other smarthome devices may need to be grouped together. You can now organize your smarthome devices into groups to make them easier to control and manage. From the main “Smart Home” screen, tap on “Groups”. At the top, give the group a name, like “Office”. Just make sure that it is not a name that is already in use by an existing device. You might want to group together a set of lights and a smart outlet so that they will turn on and off together with one command.
  • While each smarthome device is a bit different in terms of how it’s controlled, the more literal you are with Alexa, the better. When it comes to smarthome lighting, Alexa is good for two kinds of commands: binary (on/off) and graduated (brightness via percentage). For other devices, she’s only good for on/off or on/off and an additional input (like turning a heater on and setting the temperature, if the device supports it). Here are some sample commands:
    • Alexa, turn the living room lights on.
    • Alexa, turn off all the lights.
    • Alexa, set the bedroom lights to 50%.
    • Alexa, turn [groupname] on.
    • Alexa, start [groupname].
  • Good luck configuring your new Amazon Echo. Have as much fun as I have had with mine.
  • Email from Helen in Rockville: Dear Tech Talk. I have a router that supports both 2.4GHz and 5 GHz. I have heard that the 5 Ghz is a better connection (fasters, more simultaneous connects). Should I simply disable my 2.4Ghz and use only 5 Ghz? Love the show. Helen in Rockville.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Most modern routers are “dual band”, which mean they contain the ability to broadcast on both of these bands. The 5.8 Ghz band is faster. The 2.4 Ghz is band is crowded. Most wireless devices operate at 2.4 GHz (remotes, game controllers, etc.). The 2.4 Ghz band has better penetration through walls because it is lower frequency. I like to choose which band my device is using and not simply let it up to chance. Therefore I named the two networks differently. I configured by router to have one name for the 2.4 GHz channel and another name for the 5.8 Ghz channel. One might be labeled Stratford_2.4 and the other Stratford_5.8. I simply connect to the one that I want. All my video devices on the 5.8 Ghz band. Devices far away from the router are on the 2.4 Ghz band. This naming and assignment is done by logging into the Wi-Fi router. Since you can now select your frequency, there is no reason to disable the 2.4 Ghz band. It may be needed for some legacy device in your home.

Profiles in IT: Eric S. Yuan

  • Eric S. Yuan is a software engineer from China who founded Zoom, a video communications company.
  • Yuan was born in 1969 and raised in Shandong Province of China.
  • In 1987, he enrolled in Shandong University of Science and Technology in his hometown to stay close to his parents.
  • His girlfriend attended school a 10 hour train away. He took the train to visit her and swore to develop a way to visit her virtually and avoid the commute.
  • In 1991, he earned a degree in applied math with a minor in computer application.
  • He received his masters at China University of Mining and Technology in Beijing, where he started his first business creating HR software for large enterprises.
  • Yuan yearned to come to America, learn about the Internet and its impact.
  • However, getting a Work Visa was extremely difficult. His applications were denied eight times. Eventually, he succeeded with the ninth try when he was sponsored by WebEx in 1997. He became WebEx’s 10th employee and moved to Silicon Valley.
  • He could not speak English and had no choice but to just write code.
  • In 2006, he earned an Executive MBA from Stanford University School of Business.
  • WebEx continued to scale and expand. In 2007, WebEx was purchased by Cisco in for $3.2B. At the time, WebEx had 2,800 employees. As VP of engineering, he supervised 800 developers. After the acquisition, he was a Corporate VP at Cisco.
  • By 2011, Yuan was getting frustrated in the job: Cisco was focused heavily on selling expensive, complex teleconferencing hardware, and acting too slowly to reconfigure the underlying systems behind its meeting software to meet the new demands created by the rise of smartphones and tablets in the workplace.
  • In June 2011, he left Cisco to start Zoom Video Communications. Within a month, 40 WebEx engineers followed him. Zoom unifies cloud video conferencing, simple online meetings, group messaging, and a software-defined conference room solution into one platform. They built the new platform from scratch.
  • Yuan’s thought was that if Cisco wants to go after huge enterprise contracts and sell them complex solutions to their videoconferencing problems, then Zoom could go after the largely-ignored market for smaller companies.
  • He raised $3M initial seed money from friends. Three months later, he closed the B round with well-known VCs. Their first paying customer was Stanford University. Within two years, they had 140,000 business customers. He let the platform sell itself.
  • He told his wife that it would be so good, he would only have to travel twice a year.
  • The service started in January 2013 and by May 2013, it reached one million participants; By June 2014 (10 million); and by February 2015 (40 million).
  • In January 2017, Sequoia Capital invested $100 million in a Series D funding round, valued the company at $1 billion. Zoom had become a unicorn.
  • Zoom web address: zoom.us.

Adobe announces end-of-life for Flash

  • Flash will finally be dead in 2020. Adobe announced it will completely end support for Adobe Flash Player in 2020.
  • Steve Jobs insisted iOS devices would never support it, and several major browsers have started not playing Flash content by default.
  • On December 31, 2020, websites with Flash content will stop working because all major web browsers will have disabled the capability to play those files.
  • In independent announcements, Google, Mozilla, Apple and Microsoft outlined their plans for how their browsers will handle Flash over the next two-and-a-half years, with the ultimate goal of disabling Flash completely.
  • Adobe will stop distribution of Flash Player from https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer.
  • Adobe Flash, when it was first introduced in the 1990s was revolutionary. It brought animation technology to games, made the web interactive through photo galleries, and simplified how to use online video.
  • Criminals took advantage of the fact that browsers were essentially running full-fledged applications. Exploit kits predominantly target security vulnerabilities in Flash and Java to compromise individual devices via web-based attacks.
  • As open standards like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly have matured over the past several years, most now provide many of the capabilities and functionalities that plug-ins pioneered and have become a viable alternative for content on the web.
  • Adobe said in its end-of-life announcement.
  • At the time of Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia in 2005, Flash was installed on more than 98 percent of computers around the world.
  • In security circles, Flash is unwelcome, even reviled. Even so, Adobe is not going to pull the plug on Flash right away, giving developers time to migrate their websites and fully embrace HTML5 and other open standards going forward.
  • Flash will eventually fade from the web.

US total Solar Eclipse

  • A total solar eclipse will be visible on a path that crosses the US from Oregon to South Carolina on 21 August. That has led to a rush on accommodation for travelers hoping to see the rare event. Interior states like Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Idaho and Kentucky have seen the greatest increase in hotel searches.
  • Nebraska has seen a 325% increase in hotel searches at the time of the eclipse, while Kansas has seen a more than 200% increase.
  • Southwest Airlines has also announced that a number of its flights will provide customers with a chance to see the eclipse. Passengers on board these flights will receive special viewing glasses so they can have the chance to view the eclipse safely.
  • Use this tool to check how far you are from a total eclipse: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/7/25/16019892/solar-eclipse-2017-interactive-map. Just put your zip code in the yellow box.
  • And if you’re lucky enough to find yourself on the path of totality, NASA is looking for people to get involved in a nationwide experiment by collecting cloud and air temperature data, and reporting it to the agency on their phones

U.S. elections are an easy Target for Russian hackers

  • When Chris Grayson, a cyber-security researcher, downloaded the confidential voter file of every registered Georgian. He found unprotected folders with passwords for voting machines. He found the off-the-shelf software patches used to keep the system secure. These could have been easily infected with malware that would change vote talleys.
  • Confidence in the voting systems system’s invulnerability has eroded after national security officials revealed that during the 2016 presidential race Russian hackers attempted to infiltrate elections systems in 21 states.
  • Federal law enforcement officials say they are confident the vote count was not disrupted in 2016. But they worry about upcoming cycles.
  • Computer security experts warn that a well-timed hack of a vendor that serves multiple states could be enough to cause chaos even in systems that were thought to be walled off from one another. Security lapses like those in Georgia reveal the ease with which hackers can slip in.
  • Geogia election officials were warned months before about this problem. They told everyone it was fixed. But it was not and the FBI was called to investigate.
  • Such discord and uncertainty is exactly what intelligence officials say operatives from Russia and other hostile nations are seeking as they target U.S. elections systems.
  • More than 40 states use voting systems that are over a decade old, dating back to the modernization push following the 2000 presidential election.

India To Use Internships To Improve Employability of Engineers

  • India has come up with a solution to improve the quality of the engineers it graduates.
  • Over 60 percent of the 800,000 engineering graduates that India produces annually remain unemployed
  • The fix the problem, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), now requires all engineering colleges to provide undergraduate students three internships lasting between four and eight weeks each during the course of their program of study.
  • Practical knowledge will augment the formal book learning. This is indicative of the teaching styles in India, which are rooted in the old colonial system.

System Administrator (SysAdmin) Day

  • Friday, July 28, 2017 was the 18th annual System Administrator Appreciation Day.
  • On this special international day, you should have given your System Administrator something that shows that you truly appreciate their hard work and dedication.
  • System Administrators get no respect 364 days a year. This is the day that all fellow System Administrators across the globe, will be showered gifts.
  • Sometimes we don’t know our System Administrators as well as they know us.
  • Remember this is one day to recognize your System Administrator for their workplace contributions and to promote professional excellence.
  • Thank them for all the things they do for you and your business, even if it late.

Your Car Could Be the Next Ransomware Target

  • The cars are inviting targets for ransomware hackers is that they’re increasingly computerized.
  • As automakers have transferred more and more functions to processors, they have neglected to install the same levels of security found in other modern devices.
  • Once you connect the car to the internet, the entire vehicle becomes a threat surface.
  • The FBI issued a warning last year for the auto industry to be ever-vigilant about developing cybersecurity as autonomous technology advances and as cars become ever-more connected.
  • One possible scenario involves hackers installing malware into a vehicle’s operating system, perhaps through an unprotected internet connection, and locking out the driving functions.
  • A driver might find his or her car unable to start. A message pops on the control screen with instructions for how to pay a ransom to make the vehicle start again.
  • To date, the only company seriously affected has been Fiat Chrysler, which conducted a recall of certain Jeep models after security researchers exposed a vulnerability in an infotainment system.
  • The researchers were able to take over control of steering, acceleration, and braking via a laptop. The Jeeps were later subject to the first-ever U.S. hacking safety recall.
  • The vulnerabilities are not necessarily new—there are infotainment systems connected to the internet, unencrypted transmissions between car controllers, flawed software in phone apps, and unprotected key fobs.
  • The potential for hacking incidents that involve loss of human life may be a few more years out, as cars become more autonomous. Ransomware is a real near-term threat.
  • Another way that ransomware hackers could get into a car is through apps on the infotainment system that connect to the internet, or through smartphone apps that you can use to control your car through your phone.
  • Consumers might be tricked into downloading apps that look real but are really malware.