Show of 08-26-2017

August 26, 2017

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments replayed from previous shows

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Mai in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I recently bought a new TV with HDMI inputs. The salesman tried to sell a new set of cable that support HDMI 2.0. Do I really have to buy a new set of cables or will my old cable work? Love the podcast. Mai in Ohio.
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are only four cable designations that are legitimate and recognized by the HDMI organization: High Speed and Standard Speed.
  • Standard Speed cables have the bandwidth to handle up to 1080i and High Speed cables have the bandwidth to handle 1080p and 4K. There is a very good chance that your old HDMI cables will work fine with your new 4K TV, unless you purchased them before 2009. Because HDMI is a purely digital signal either the cable works or it doesn’t.
  • However, hardware was have version. Your receiver and other gear will also need to support 4K
    • HDMI 1.4, released in 2009: Supports 4K video, HDMI Ethernet, Audio Return Channel (ARC), and 3D over HDMI.
    • HDMI 2.0, released in 2013: Supports 4K video at 60 frames per second.
    • HDMI 2.0a , released in 2015: Supports for High-Dynamic Range (HDR) Video.
  • Email from Tracy in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. My Wi-Fi router has Ethernet connections on the back. Is it better to connect to the Internet with Ethernet or just use Wi-Fi? My computer is right beside the router, so I actually have a choice. Just wondering. Love the show. Tracy in Fairfax.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Wi-Fi is more convenient than wired Ethernet cables, but Ethernet still offers significant advantages. The three main advantages of using Ethernet over Wi-Fi are faster speeds, lower latency, reliable connections, security.
    • Ethernet is faster than Wi-Fi. The new standards like 802.11ac and 802.11n, which offer maximum speeds of 866.7 Mb/s and 150 Mb/s, respectively. On the other hand, a wired Ethernet connection can theoretically offer up to 10 Gb/s, if you have a Cat6 cable. However, your real limit with be the speed of your Internet connection. If you have multiple devices that back up to a NAS, backup server, or shared hard drive, backups will go faster over an Ethernet connection.
    • If reducing latency as much as possible is your concern. If you’re playing online games and need reaction time to be as quick as possible, you’re probably better off with a wired Ethernet connection.
    • Ethernet offers a more reliable connection than Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is subject to a lot more interference than a wired connection. The layout of your home, objects blocking the signal, interference from electrical devices or your neighbors Wi-Fi networks—all these things contribute to Wi-Fi being generally less reliable.
    • Wi-Fi is broadcast to you neighbors and they can hack your system with the proper tools. They can’t see you Ethernet signals, if you turn off your Wi-Fi signal completely.
  • On the other hand, Wi-Fi is speedy, super convenient, and perfectly serviceable for most of what we do on our networks. Wii-Fi is essential if you’ve got mobile devices.
  • Email from Lacy in San Francisco: Dear Doc and Jim. I have heard a lot about zero-day exploits after the NSA and CIA hacking tools were released on Wikileaks. Can you tell me more about zero-day drive-by attacks? I experienced one on my fully updated and patched Windows computer which has the latest anti-malware tools. I saw the hacked behavior and immediately turned off my computer. Scanning both before and after this attack showed no prior or present malware infection. Love the show. Lacy in San Francisco
  • Tech Talk Responds: The very nature of “zero day” exploits is that your virus scanner would show that you were clean both before and after being infected. It’s not until your anti-virus software provider updates their virus databases and you take that update that your scanner knows what to look for.
  • There are security vulnerabilities in Windows (and all operating systems) that have not yet been discovered. If no one knows about them, then it’s not an immediate threat. Hackers can’t exploit things they don’t know about.
  • When a “good guy” will discover a vulnerability, they contact Microsoft so a fix can be made available before the vulnerability becomes general knowledge.
  • If a malware author discovers the problem and releases malware that exploits it, then systems can become infected before anti-virus software providers can update their databases and release the update to their users. If malware exploiting a specific vulnerability is discovered “in the wild” before a fix for that vulnerability is available, then Microsoft has zero days to fix the problem. Hence, it’s called a “zero day” exploit, vulnerability, or attack.
  • There were a number of “zero day” exploits revealed in the WikiLeaks data dumps. Vendors rushed to patch them. Microsoft issued a patch in March to fix the exploit used by WannaCry Ransomware. Windows 7 machines that were not patched got infected.
  • You best to fix your computer, now that it is infected is to restore your disk from a backup or from a previous set point.

Profiles in IT: Ada Lovelace (Originally aired 06/09/07)

  • Ada Lovelace (Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace)
  • Ada Byron was the daughter of a brief marriage between the Romantic poet Lord Byron and Anne Isabelle Milbanke
  • Ada married William King. King inherited a noble title, they became the Earl and Countess of Lovelace.
  • Lady Byron wished her daughter to be unlike her poetical father, and she saw to it that Ada received tutoring in mathematics and music, as disciplines to counter dangerous poetic tendencies.
  • Ada met Charles Babbage in 1933 when she was 17 and they began a voluminous correspondence on the topics of mathematics, logic, and ultimately all subjects.
  • Charles Babbage, Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, was known as the inventor of the Difference Engine, an elaborate calculating machine that operated by the method of finite differences.
  • Babbage held the same post as Sir Isaac Newton (known for the equations of motion and calculus) and Steven Hawkings (Black holes and Hawkings radiation).
  • Babbage had made plans in 1834 for a new kind of calculating machine (although the Difference Engine was not finished), an Analytical Engine.
  • His Parliamentary sponsors refused to support a second machine with the first unfinished, but Babbage found sympathy for his new project abroad.
  • In 1842, an Italian mathematician, Louis Menebrea, published a memoir in French on the subject of the Analytical Engine.
  • Babbage enlisted Ada as translator for the memoir, and during a nine-month period in 1842-43, she worked on the article and a set of Notes she appended to it.
    • She rightly saw it as what we would call a general-purpose computer.
    • She understood the importance of keeping the calculating machine and the program separated.
    • Proposed a method to computer Bernoulli numbers using the analytical engine
    • The methods she proposed included loops, branches, and conditional statements.
    • She is thus credited with being the first programmer.
  • Babbage’s analytical machine anticipated most of the features of computers that were invented over a hundred years later
  • The programs for his machine developed by Babbage and Lovelace anticipated computer programming methods that were developed over a hundred years later.
  • In May 1979, the new DOD-1 programming language was named Ada in her honor.

History Mechanical Computers (originally aired 06/09/07)

  • The abacus, a simple counting aid, may have been invented in Babylonia (now Iraq) in the fourth century B.C.
  • The Antikythera (an ti ki ‘theer uh) mechanism, used for registering and predicting the motion of the stars and planets, is dated to the first century B.C. It was discovered off the coast of Greece in 1901.Accounted for leap year, irregularity in the Moon’s orbit.
  • Wilhelm Schickard builds the first mechanical calculator in 1623. It can work with six digits, and carries digits across columns. It works, but never makes it beyond the prototype stage. Schickard is a professor at the University of Tubingen, Germany.
  • Blaise Pascal builds a mechanical calculator in 1642. It has the capacity for eight digits, but has trouble carrying and its gears tend to jam.
  • Joseph-Marie Jacquard invents an automatic loom controlled by punch cards.
  • Charles Babbage conceives of a “Difference Engine” in 1820 or 1821. It is a massive steam-powered mechanical calculator designed to print astronomical tables. He attempts to build it over the course of the next 20 years, only to have the project cancelled by the British government in 1842.
  • Babbage’s next idea is the Analytical Engine – a mechanical computer that can solve any mathematical problem. It uses punch-cards similar to those used by the Jacquard loom and can perform simple conditional operations.
  • Augusta Ada Byron, the countess of Lovelace, met Babbage in 1833. She describes the Analytical Engine as weaving “algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.”
  • Her published analysis of the Analytical Engine is our best record of its programming potential. In it she outlines the fundamentals of computer programming, including data analysis, looping and memory addressing.

Anchor Charged with Hacking Colleague Email (originally aired 7/26/08)

  • Former Philadelphia news anchor Larry Mendte on Monday was charged with hacking into the e-mail accounts of Alycia Lane, his co-anchor at CBS affiliate KYW-TV and reported rival, hundreds of times over the course of two years.
  • Mendte accessed Lane’s e-mail without authorization approximately 537 times, from KYW and from his home, according to the government.
  • A hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 22 at which Mendte is expected to enter a plea. He faces up to six months in prison if found guilty.
  • He either guessed her passwords, looked over her shoulder, or used a keystroke logger.
  • USB Keyloggers go between the keyboard and the computer and capture all keystrokes. Cost approximately $150.00. Other options are software based and can send keystroke data to another computer via the Internet.

Luddites (Origin of the Word) (originally aired 7/26/08)

  • The original Luddites claimed to be led by one “King Ludd” (also known as “General Ludd” or “Captain Ludd” whose signature appears on a “’workers’ manifesto” of the time.
  • King Ludd was based on the earlier Ned Ludd, who is believed to have destroyed two large stocking frames in the village of Anstey, Leicestershire in 1779.
  • The movement began in Nottingham in 1811 and spread rapidly throughout England in 1811 and 1812. Many wool and cotton mills were destroyed until the British government harshly suppressed the movement.
  • “Machine breaking” (industrial sabotage) was subsequently made a capital crime and
  • 17 men were executed after an 1813 trial in York. The movement waned after these executions.
  • In recent years, the terms Luddism and Luddite or Neo-Luddism and Neo-Luddite have become synonymous with anyone who opposes the advance of technology due to the cultural and socioeconomic changes that are associated with it.

String Theory — Breakthrough or Cruel Hoax?

  • String Theory debate Wednesday, March 28, 2007
    • Hosted by Smithsonian Institute and Department of Energy
    • Brian Greene, String Theorist, author The Elegant Universe
    • Lawrence Kraus, Elementary Particle Physicist, author of Hiding in the Mirror : The Mysterious Allure of Extra Dimensions, from Plato to String Theory and Beyond. Also wrote The Physics of Star Trek and Beyond Star Trek
    • The entire Baird Auditorium was sold out
  • String theory is an attempt to unify the two pillars of modern science: Quantum Mechanics (the very small) and General Relativity (the very large).
  • String theory proposes that all elementary particles are made of tiny, vibrating strings of energy.
  • String theory requires the existence of six (or seven) extra spatial dimensions, ”hidden” dimensions curled in tiny geometric shapes at every single point in our universe.
  • Each universe or reality is actually a ten dimensional membrane (or brane) within an eleven dimensional world
  • According to string theory mathematics, the extra dimensions could adopt any of tens of thousands of possible shapes, each shape theoretically corresponding to its own universe with its own set of physical laws.
  • The question remains: how are the extra dimensions folded?
  • Arguments in favor of theory
    • Only theory that currently embraces both Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity
    • Actually predicted gravity
    • Experimental verification possible, but difficult
  • Three possible ways to experimentally verify the theory
    • Distribution of background radiation created by the Big Bang.
      • Planck satellite to be launched by EU should be sensitive enough to measure this.
      • The shapes of extra dimensions can be “seen# by deciphering their influence on cosmic energy released by the violent birth of the universe over13 billion years ago
    • Observation of harmonics when atoms collide in atom smashers.
      • Hopes that the Large Hadron collider at CERN will do it
      • Looking harmonic frequencies of the basic string resonance frequency as indirect proof of strings
    • Energy leakage when atoms collide
      • Energy lost is caused by presence of additional dimensions.
      • Based on the fact that total energy must be conserve
    • Arguments against theory
      • Never experimentally verified
      • No actual quantifiable predictions yet and probably never
      • Extra dimensions are not natural and actually a fudge factor
      • Still not proven after 37 years
    • For those who are interested in String Theory