Show of 09-09-2017

September 9, 2017

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Dear Dr. Shurtz & Jim (Hey Mr. Big Voice), Do you ever backup your operating system REGISTRY [Referencing Win-10]? I know that you back up your hard-drive to the cloud, but sometimes certain conditions may call for a restore of the register system. One situation would be for those of us who do not have cloud services or such offsite storages. What are your thoughts on backing up the operating system registry? If you recommend it, how is it done and then how do you do a restore of the registry as well? What media would you store the backup on until needed and what are the problems to watch out for since the registry changes quickly? Your radio/podcast program [Tech Talk] is the best of them all! Thanks, Doug / Baton Rouge, LA
  • Tech Talk Responds: It is extremely easy to create a disk image on an external hard drive with Windows 10. Simply go to the Control Panel and select Back Up and Restore. Then select Create a System Image. Plug in an external hard drive that is large enough to hold the date from your entire drive. Next choose On Hard Drive and select the Drive you just inserted. Finally click on backup.
  • If you would like to maintain incremental backup, you can use EaseUS ToDo Backup Free (http://www.todo-backup.com/products/home/free-backup-software.htm). It records how the contents of the drive change day to day.
  • The best way to back up the registry is to create a system restore point. System Restore is a feature in Microsoft Windows that allows the user to revert their computer’s state (including system files, installed applications, Windows Registry, and system settings) to that of a previous point in time, which can be used to recover from system malfunctions or other problems. Simply search for “System restore point” from the start menu. Click on the create button to create a system restore point.
  • To back up the registry, search for Regedit (registry editor) in the taskbar search box. Hightlight Computer to backup entire registry. Then click on File/Export. Select a location and name the file something you can remember (e.g. Complete Registry Backup). Click Export. To import the data, just open the Registry Editor and click on File/Import. BTW, it is fun to look around the registry with the Registry Editor. Just don’t save any changes.
  • If you really want to only backup the registry, search or regedit in the search box.
  • Email from Tom Shum: I love your show, listen at 9AM on Saturdays. You are the new Car Guys. About cellphone cameras, a 41mp cellphone camera was in the Nokia 808, introduced in 2012. A big problem with most camera sensors is that each pixel has a different color filter in front of it. There are three: Green, Red, and Blue.  In a typical sensor, we have two green, one red, and one blue filter in a square array. So, to get a good idea about color and brightness of a picture element, you really need to put these four pixels together. If you do that your final picture has 1/4 the pixels that are in the sensor.  If the sensor has 24mp, and you do that sort of downsizing, your final image has only 6mp! It’s all about the quality of the pixels.  If you don’t downsize you get a 24mp image but it is full of guesswork.  The image processor has to guess about color and brightness for all the pixels and it frequently guesses wrong!
  • There is one sensor that does not guess, and it is the Foveon original sensor, made in the timespan between 2003-2010. Here is a brief quote: “Lyon performed theoretical research into the light absorption characteristics of silicon, determining a set of red, green, and blue spectral sensitivity curves for theoretical R, G, and B photodiodes at specific depths.” Recently Sigma has moved away from this pure idea in order to get more resolution, but continues to make similar sensors. Tom Schum
  • Tech Talk Responds: We are yet again mislead by marketing hype. A pixel is by definition a Picture Element. Each element should include all four sensors (two green, one blue, one red). Unfortunately manufacturers quote the number of detectors, rather than the number of pixels to get a bigger number (by 4X).
  • The Foveon sensor stacks the three detectors (red, green, blue), so that the pixel and the sensor become the same size. Foveon was purchased by Sigma in 2008 for use in their DSLR cameras.
  • Email from Dave in Everett, Washington: Hello Doctor! I hated the high cost of our cable service, so with great courage I cut the cable! My wife and I are now going through a difficult transition period, and my wife is about to cut me! The biggest problem is finding where are favorite shows are being streamed. Is there some master streaming guide that would direct us to shows streaming on Sling TV, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Netflix, etc. We hate to go searching through all of these to find the latest streaming of our favorite shows. We need a universal streaming guide. Does anything like that exist? I am in hot water! I’m a big fan of your show and listen to the Podcast every week. Sincerely, Dave in Everett, Washington
  • Tech Talk Responds: We are getting closer to cable cutting nirvana. Since local OTA television is not streamed, you will need a system that combines OTA television with OTT (of the top) streaming services (Hulu, Netflix). Then you need an integrated directory of all shows that is convenient to use. Finally you need a simple DVR to store shows. We are getting closer. Here are a few options for you to review.
  • The first is Mohu AirWave, which provides wireless over-the-air (OTA) and over-the-top (OTT) device that integrates live, local broadcast TV with free streaming channels across popular streaming devices, including Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Android, iOS, and more. Launching initially as an exclusive at Best Buy early fall 2017 for $149.99. AirWave was built to give cord cutters open, simple and complete wireless access to the live TV and streaming content they enjoy, all in one place and with no monthly fees. Combine this with the Mohu Leaf® 30 HDTV Antenna ($39) is recommended for customers who live within approximately a 30 mile range of the broadcasting towers or the Moju Leaf® 50 HDTV Antenna ($59) is recommended, for customers who live within approximately a 50 mile range of the broadcasting towers. This was announced earlier this year and is eagerly anticipated. Here is there website (http://www.gomohu.com/)
  • Another option is the TiVo Roamio OTA 1TB DVR and TiVo Mini with IR/RF Remote Bundle ($548 on Amazon). It integrated both OTA and OTT services. You can subscribe to an integrated directory service for $15/month, which seems a little a step. However, it is easy to use. You will also need an antenna, like the Mohu just discussed.
  • The Channel Master DVR+ is another option that’s pricey (starts at $250), but it comes with an integrated programming guide, HDMI output to your TV for pass-through viewing, and no fees at all for the box’s DVR capabilities. It comes with 16GB flash storage on-board (enough for about two hours of TV), and you can connect an external hard drive for more storage and recording time. It also connects to your home network via Ethernet (a Wi-Fi dongle is extra).
  • A final option is the Tablo 2-Tuner DVR for Over-The-Air HDTV with Wi-Fi. Two tuners for $210 and four tuners for $280. Discover new shows, schedule & manage recordings, and skip commercials using the Netflix-style interface of the Tablo Apps for iOS & Android mobile devices, computers, smart TVs, streaming media and gaming devices: Roku, Xbox One, Apple TV, Android TV, NVIDIA SHIELD and Amazon Fire TV, etc. All new Tablo OTA DVRs come with a 30-day free trial of the guide data subscription, including the Tablo Connect feature which lets you access your Tablo over the internet to enjoy live, local news and sports and recordings when traveling or on the go. Tablo connects to your home’s router using Wi-Fi & Ethernet so you can stream your favorite live and recorded TV content to any screen, any time, anywhere.

Profiles in IT: Amnon Shashua

  • Amnon Shashua is a computer science professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem as well as co-founder and CTO of Mobileyeand co-founder of OrCam.
  • Amnon Shashua was 26 May 1960 in Isreal.
  • In 1985, Shashua received a BS in math and computer science from Tel-Aviv Univ.
  • In 1989, he received an MS in CS from the Weizmann Institute of Science.
  • In 1993, he received his PhD in brain and cognitive sciences from MIT (AI Lab)
  • He has been on the CS faculty at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem since 1996.
  • He became an associate professor in1999 and full professor in 2003.
  • In 2002, he became head of the Engineering and CS school at the Hebrew University.
  • Amnon Shashua sometimes uses a motorcycle to weave through traffic between Mevaseret Zion, where he lives, and nearby Jerusalem, where he teaches and works.
  • Shashua has published over 100 papers in machine learning and computational vision.
  • His work includes early visual grouping mechanisms, visual recognition and learning, image synthesis, theory of computer vision in the areas of multiple-view geometry and multi-view sensors, and recently on deep layered networks.
  • Amnon Shashua received the first prize of the 2004 Kaye Innovation award, and the 2005 Landau Award for Science and Research in the area Robotics.
  • In 1995 he founded CogniTens, a provider of 3D optical measurement for quality control in the car and aircraft industries, which was sold to Hexagon in 2007.
  • In 1999, Shashua co-founded Mobileye and currently serves as chairman and CTO.
  • Mobileye developed systems-on-chip and computer vision algorithms for detecting pedestrians, vehicles, traffic signs, lanes for driving assistance systems. Mobileye is also developing autonomous driving technology.
  • He got the idea for Mobileye when given a lecture in Japan in 1998 to automotive engineers and proposed use one sensor, rather than two, for safety functions.
  • Mobileye makes a computer-vision system on a chip for safer driving, installed on 1.5 million vehicles in 2013 and expected soon to be in every car manufactured.
  • On August 1, 2014 Mobileye launched its IPO on the NYSE which was the biggest Israeli IPO ever in the US raising approximately $1B at a market cap of $5.3B.
  • In August 2016, Mobileye and Delphi Automotive announced a partnership to develop a SAE Level 4/5 automated driving solution for customers worldwide.
  • BMW, Intel and Mobileye partnered in June 2016. Intel and Mobileye are developing the compute platform for automated driving and BMW the control software.
  • In 2010, Shashua co-founded Orcam, an Israeli company which launched an assistive device for the visually impaired based on computer vision capabilities.
  • In May 2017, Intel acquired Mobileye for $15 billion. Amonon defended the sale, “What we want to is to change the world. And the tie-up with Intel ensures this.”
  • As of May 2017, Shashua’s worth about $780 million.

Tel Aviv is a Startup Paradise

  • With the world’s highest number of startups per capita, Israel is a dream come true for many young entrepreneurs.
  • The DLD Innovation Festival in Tel Aviv, Israel, is one of the most important annual events for startups in Israel.
  • Roughly 400 startup companies looked for potential investors during the two-day festival and accompanying conference.
  • Isreal has helped numerous new tech companies rise to prominence. The most recognized among them is the messaging provider ICQ. Another product originating from Israel is Mobileye — a sort of camera software developed for self-driving cars.
  • These two brands were eclipsed, however, by Google’s 2013 acquisition of mapping service Waze to the tune of $1 billion (831 billion euro). This transaction put Israel on the map when it comes to significant investments in startups.
  • The country’s entrepreneurial spirit has also inspired several US-based companies to relocate their research divisions to Israel. Intel now works on building new computer chips in Israel, while Microsoft improves its operating system and e-book reader Kindle keeps Israeli programmers busy.
  • Israel’s army trains up young men and women to be cybersecurity experts who help keep the country digitally safe. Many of the startup founders here have a background in the tech division of the Israeli army.
  • Israel’s manageable size and its military know-how are major factors for its success.
  • It’s a part of Israel’s culture to try new things and to aim to succeed while doing so, and to create something of your own. This patriotic drive is pushing Israeli tech.
  • This is something that sets us apart from other countries.

Hurricane Tracking Models

  • Different approaches to forecasting have led to different predicted storm paths for Irma, with the variance being the difference between a direct hit on Miami from 185mph winds, or a mildly windy day on the beach.
  • Historically, the most accurate model for predicting the track of a storm is that produced by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, known as the “European model.”
  • It uses an array of supercomputers to model weather for the entire planet. By knowing what the weather will be like all round the world, the theory goes, it’s easier to predict the path of any one particular storm.
  • The downside to the European model is that it only runs twice a day, thanks to the amount of computational power required.
  • The American equivalent is called the Global Forecasting System (GFS), run by the National Weather Service. It’s run four times per day at a lower resolution, and although it’s not held in as high regard as the ECMWF, the timely data is still useful to forecasters.
  • The National Hurricane Center in Miami uses data from both models, as well as other inputs, when producing its reports.
  • The US also has the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF), which uses real-time data from aircraft and satellites to monitor changing weather conditions faster than the scientific models.
  • The HWRF was recently key in monitoring the intensity of Hurricane Harvey.
  • The National Hurricane Center produces a number of constantly-updated maps and advisories for tracking a hurricane.
  • The best visual aide is the interactive warnings/cone map (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at1+shtml/154730.shtml?gm_track#contents), which shows the current best-guess prediction for the hurricane’s path.
  • The “cone” shown on the map is where the eye of the storm is probably going to pass; anywhere within that cone is possible, with the line down the middle showing the storm’s most likely path.

US Hurricanes All Start in Africa

  • Hurricanes begin in the African Sahara.
  • In the Sudanese highlands, the same place the Nile begins, sun-heated air rises upward and condenses into mushroom-shaped thunderheads thousands of miles high.
  • While these tall clouds are growing out of the high desert, a massive, atmospheric pattern called the Africa Easterly Wave is pushed East thousands of feet above.
  • It’s a vast, sine wave-shaped air flow that carries weather across the Sahara, east to west. When those Sudanese thunderstorms rise, they get caught up in the flow and to drench Africa’s west coast. And there they stop because the Atlantic Ocean is cold.
  • Out in the mid-Atlantic, the water is warmer, the air more humid, and the wind stronger. And the Africa Easterly Wave’s undulations spin all those conditions into a nice cyclonic spiral.
  • Only about one in 10 of the African storms re-emerge as storms. What causes some of the storms in these Africa Easterly Waves to develop into a tropical cyclone?”
  • In new research, meteorologists from Tel Aviv University used geostationary satellites to look at the thunderstorms right before they disappeared off the coast of Africa into the Atlantic.
  • These tall, cold clouds often prefigured later tropical storms. If the temperature of about 5 percent of the clouds in a thunderstorm drops to -58˚F mark, the odds jump that it’ll resurrect as a cyclone.
  • It is ironic that hurricanes that produce so much flooding originate in the Sahara, one of the driest places on Earth.


 

Hacker Group Dragonfly Takes Aim at US Power Grid

  • According to Symantec, a leading cyber security firm, the group that it has dubbed “Dragonfly 2.0” has been active in 2017, particularly in the US, Switzerland, and Turkey, with scattered attacks on several facilities in other countries.
  • The group uses several means of attack, including malicious emails, such as an nefarious invitation to a New Year’s Eve party targeting key systems. Once infected, the target system would begin leaking network security credentials to Dragonfly.
  • Of greater concern, however, is the use of watering hole attacks, the compromise of otherwise legitimate sites and services, to deliver malware. To set one up, an attacker will masquerade as one or another site and potentially offer software updates and the like that users then accept onto their systems.
  • These open up new means of attack and even full-on trojans that allow for complete or near-complete control of a targeted system.
  • According to Symantec, Dragonfly has used all of these, creating everything from fake flash player updates to posing as a source for legitimate apps common in the energy sector.
  • Dorshel, Trojan.Karagany.B and others are all known bits of software that the new group has used, and each has an analogue from the old.
  • Many of their tools are either publicly available or custom. None of their attacks used zero day exploits, which can be traced to an individual or organization relatively easily.
  • Symantec notes that Dragonfly is a “highly experienced threat actor.”

Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is Blockchain’s Funding Engine

  • ICO, or Initial Coin Offering, is currently the most popular way to get your blockchain startup off the ground.
  • According to a quarterly report by CoinDesk, blockchain-based startups were funded with a total of $797 million in the second quarter of 2017 alone. That’s more than triple the amount that similar startups raised from venture capital.
  • The ICO is somewhat similar to an IPO, only instead of stock, the company sells cryptocurrency tokens, often based on the Ethereum platform.
  • These tokens aren’t the same as company shares, but they do typically carry benefits to owners, and they can easily be traded for other cryptocurrencies.
  • CoinDesk lists Bancor, Status, TenX, and MobileGo as the largest ICOs, worth $153 million, $95 million, $83.1 million, and $53.1 million, respectively.
  • ICOs are relatively easy to do, aren’t well regulated, and most of them have been very successful, especially in the last couple of months.
  • Most importantly, once you raise the money, you have a lot less to answer for to token holders as opposed to shareholders
  • Recently, China banned ICOs as well as trading with tokens which originated in an ICOs. South Korea followed suit with a warning that fraudulent ICOs will note be tolerated, and Hong Kong and Russia’s regulators warned that lack of regulations in relation to ICOs has opened the doors for scammers.
  • And the next quarter might be even bigger for ICOs.

Python is the Fastest Growing Language

  • Python is the fastest-growing programming language, and by 2019 will significantly outstrip other languages in terms of active developers, according to Stack Overflow.
  • This projection is based on the number of developers viewing questions about Python. on its site.
  • Stack Overflow is the world’s largest online community site for developers, with more than 50 millions amateur and professional developers.
  • In the five years to June 2017, Python has gone from the least to the most popular of the top six programming languages, with a 2.5x increase in views of Python questions.
  • The popularity of Python is, in part, due to its flexibility, with the language used regularly by web and desktop developers, sysadmin/devops, and more recently by data scientists and machine-learning engineers.
  • The rapid spread of Python also stems from its strong community, as well as the language itself, readability, conciseness, and the completeness of its standard library.
  • Data science and scientific applications are an area of high growth. Python’s accessibility allows subject matter experts to focus on their relative subject matter areas in their research.

Equifax Has Major Security Breach Affecting Millions

  • On September 8 2017, Equifax Inc. today announced a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers.
  • Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files. Based on the company’s investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017.
  • The company has found no evidence of unauthorized activity on Equifax’s core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.
  • The information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.
  • In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed.
  • Equifax has set up a site (https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/), where you can check if your information may have been compromised.
  • You’ll be asked to enter your last name and last six digits of your SSN.
  • If you are affected, you can sign up for free identity theft protection. You should also set up two-authentication on all of your critical accounts (like bank accounts).