Show of 09-16-2017

September 16, 2017

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Kevin in San Francisco: Dear Doc and Jim. I have AirPlay envy. All my friends can mirror that Apple laptops to AppleTV. I have a Windows10 laptop and all I can do is stream content using Chromecast. However, sometimes the content is not in a browser tab (like my DVD player). Is there any mirroring option for me? Love the podcast. Kevin in San Francisco.
  • Tech Talk Responds: There is a great solution for you, AirParrot 2. AirParrot 2 is designed to send content to a number of media receivers, even simultaneously. Broadcast to multiple devices like Apple TV and Chromecast, or share audio around the house to AirPlay-enabled speakers. I use AirParrot 2 on my Windows 10 machine to stream DVDs to our AppleTV. It only problem that I had was discovering the AppleTV device. I had to put in the IP address (found by logging into my router). That was a bit annoying, but after that it works perfectly. You can download AirParrot 2 for $12.95 from http://www.airsquirrels.com/
  • Email from Tu in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I was watching the recent Apple iPhone launch and they featured. Wireless charging. What standard does Apple use for wireless charging and how does it work? Thanks for the podcast. Tu in Ohio
  • Tech Talk Responds: Wireless charging will become popular with the adoption of Qi wireless charging in Apple’s iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X. Most wireless chargers use magnetic induction and magnetic resonance. They offer the promise of being able to place a device on a surface and have it charge automatically.
  • Wireless chargers typically use magnetic induction. The short explanation is that they use magnetism to transmit energy. First, you place the device–like a smartphone—on the wireless charger. The current coming from the wall power outlet moves through the wire in the wireless charger, creating a magnetic field. The magnetic field creates a current in the coil inside the device sitting on the wireless charger. This magnetic energy is converted to electrical energy, which is used to charge the battery. Devices must have the appropriate hardware in them to support wireless charging—a device without the necessary coil can’t charge wirelessly.
  • While the Qi standard was originally limited to magnetic induction, it now also supports magnetic resonance. This works similarly, but the device can be up to 45mm away from the wireless charger’s surface rather than touching it directly. This is less efficient than magnetic induction, but there are some advantages—for example, a wireless charger could be mounted under a table’s surface and you could place a device on the table to charge it. It also allows you to place multiple devices on a single charging pad, and have all of them charge at once.
  • The Qi standard, which is owned by the Wireless Power Consortium, is ahead, but it’s not alone. In second place is the Power Matters Alliance’s Powermat, or PMA, standard. It uses magnetic induction, like Qi. The two are incompatible, though. An iPhone can’t charge with a PMA wireless charger.
  • Some devices are compatible with both, however. Modern Samsung devices like the Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S8, and Galaxy S7 actually support both the Qi and PMA standards, and can charge with either.
  • Starbucks bet on PMA, but they may rethink things now that the iPhone only supports Qi. Apple is betting that airports, hotels, and other public locations will also choose to bet on Qi.
  • Email from Tuc in Virginia Beach: Dear Tech Talk. I like to surf the web and check email with my laptop. I may create an occasional word document. What type of laptop would your recommend? I am trying to save money and need something cheap. Love the podcast. Tuc in Virginia Beach
  • Tech Talk Responds: I would get a Chromebook. They are cheap and very effective. You might look at the ASUS Chromebook with 4GM of RAM. Prices vary from $189 to $469 on Amazon. The most expensive is the flip with a touch screen and 64GB of storage (4 GB RAM). The cheapest has 16 GB of storage (4 GB RAM) is not a touch screen. In your case, the cheapest would probably suffice. You can use Google docs on the cloud for your occasional word document.
  • Chromebooks boot instantly, update seamlessly, sync with other devices in the background, and are secure because Google must vet all apps and every webpage runs in a virtual sandbox.
  • Email from Brian in Kansas: Dear Doc and Jim. I was looking at my hard drive and noticed a System Reserved Partition. I am running out of drive space. Can I get rid of this partition? What does it do? Love the show. Brian in Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: The System Reserved partition contains two important things:
    • The Boot Manager and Boot Configuration Data: When your computer starts, the Windows Boot Manager reads the boot data from the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) Store. Your computer starts the boot loader off of the System Reserved partition, which in turn starts Windows from your system drive.
    • The startup files used for BitLocker Drive Encryption: If you ever decide to encrypt your hard drive with BitLocker drive encryption, the System Reserved partition contains the necessary files for starting your computer. Your computer boots the unencrypted System Reserved partition, and then decrypts the main encrypted drive and starts the encrypted Windows system.
  • The System Reserved partition consumes 100 MB of space on Windows 7, 350 MB of space on Windows 8, and 500 MB of space on Windows 10. The partition is typically created during the Windows installation process, just before the installer allocates space for the main system partition.
  • You really shouldn’t change the System Reserved partition—it’s easiest and safest to just leave it be.
  • Windows hides the partition by default instead of creating a drive letter for it. Most people never notice they have a System Reserved partition unless they fire up disk tools for other reasons. The System Reserved partition is mandatory if you use BitLocker—or want to use it in the future.
  • Email from Matt in New Jersey: Dear Tech Talk. I love my iPhone6, but the battery life is becoming a problem. I don’t want to buy another iPhone. It there a way to simply replace the battery? I don’t want to get sucked into getting a new phone every two years. Love the show. Matt in New Jersey.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You could but an Apple battery case for around $100 and solve your problem immediately. But your phone will be bulkier.
  • Your second option is to replace the battery. If you purchased AppleCare+, you are entitled to a free battery replacement from Apple. Here are your options.
    • DIY Replacement — You can replace the battery yourself. A replacement kit costs around $20. However, I would not recommend it – too many small screws and glued parts.
    • Third-Party Repair Service — It will cost you anywhere from $50-$80 to hire a shop or service to replace your iPhone battery. They know what they are doing and they will likely give you some kind of warranty. Most finish the job the same day.
    • Apple Replacement — Apple offers a battery replacement service that costs $79 for any iPhone model — a competitive price, and arguably your best option given that no company is better at servicing iPhones. You’ll have to be without your phone for at least a few days. Apple estimates up to five business days if you bring it to an Apple Authorized Service Provider.


 

Profiles in IT: Mark Buff

  • Mark Buff is the founder and President of Mohu, a Consumer Electronics Company located in the heart of Raleigh, a leader in the cord cutting revolution.
  • Mark Buff was born in 1970 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Mark Buff received his BSEE (1994), MSEE (2003), PhD in Electromagnetics (2006) from North Carolina State.
  • Mark Buff started his career at a global telecom company where he developed a passion for computer engineering.
  • Mark was inspired by a course in radio frequency design to pursue his doctorate in and create his first Raleigh, North Carolina-based company, Greenwave Scientific. Greenwave Scientific was a bootstrapped entity that researched and developed covert antennas for military ground vehicles and is now parent company to Mohu, a leading HDTV antenna provider.
  • In 2004, he founded Vadum, a systems engineering and design company, to provide engineering solutions to the defense, law enforcement, and commercial communities.
  • As principal investigator, he worked with various military commands in the Counter, Neutralization and Defeat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
  • Mark was inspired by a course in radio frequency design to pursue his doctorate and start Greenwave Scientific develop antennas for military ground vehicles.
  • In 2007, he developed an innovative antenna technology to fit within mud flaps of US Military ground vehicles. This research focuses on detecting, neutralizing and defeating IEDs to protect the HMMWVs and MRAPs from being targeted.
  • In 2009, he founded Mohu Consumer Electronics, a subsidiary of Greenwave. His mission was to translate defense-based military technology into common sense consumer electronics products.
  • Mohu’s initial product was the paper-thin Mohu Leaf Indoor HDTV Antenna.
  • Products now include Leaf 30, Leaf 50, designer Curves, and outdoor Sky 60.
  • The company has grown organically. They seeded the launch of the Leaf on Amazon.com and quickly became to the Best Selling antenna on Amazon.
  • In 2014, he launch Mohu Channels on Kickstarter. In about 15 minutes, you can create your own channel that includes both OTA and OTT channels.
  • In May 2015, he announced a partnership with Microsoft Xbox as the preferred provider of HDTV antennas to complement OTA TV through Xbox.
  • 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. Launching at Best Buy early fall 2017 for $149.99.
  • Mohu Cord cutting guide: http://untangle.tv/home. This analyzes your viewing habits and suggest which OTA and OTT channels that will need. It recommends subscriptions and devices and calculates how much you will save.
  • Website: http://www.gomohu.com/

Estimated 22.6 Million Cord Cutters By 2018

  • A new report indicates that the rate of cord cutting is occurring at a faster rate than previously believed.
  • The report notes sinking ad spending thanks to the growing rate of cord cutting in the United States.
  • At this rate, the report predicts that 22.2 million U.S. adults will have cut the cord on cable, satellite or telco TV service by the end 2017 — up 33% over 2016.
  • Younger audiences continue to switch to either exclusively watching OTT video or watching them in combination with free TV options.
  • Last year, even the Olympics and presidential elections could not prevent younger audiences from abandoning pay TV.

Website of the Week: Amazon Price Checker

  • Free Amazon price tracker monitors millions of products.

Amazon Price Drop Alerts — Create Amazon price watches and get alerts via email and Twitter when prices drop.

  • Amazon Price History Charts — View the price history of over 18 million Amazon products.
  • Browser Addons — Add price history charts to your browser with The Camelizer, an extension for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.
  • Link: http://Camelcamelcamel.com

Nazareth: A Hub of Palestinian Innovation

  • Nazareth, cradle of Christianity, is now establishing a reputation as the hub of Palestinian entrepreneurship and innovation.
  • Palestinian citizens of Israel are seeking their share of high-tech success in a “startup nation,” a quest that has already turned Nazareth into an incubator for innovation.
  • But scarce funding and the disadvantage of not serving in the Isrelai military are obstacles the Palestinian community faces.
  • Over the past decade about 7,000 tech companies have been founded in Israel, where high-tech goods and services account for 12.5% of gross domestic product.
  • Only 30 Palestinian-led tech firms, however, the majority of them in software, are generating revenue.
  • For example, SolidRun makes small cube-shaped computers sold through distributors in Europe and Australia and throughout the world over the Internet.
  • There are also several dozen, pre-revenue Palestinian startups, focused on the natural sciences, medical devices, hardware and Internet, mostly in Nazareth.
  • The Israeli government budgeted $739 million to economic development of what they call the “Arab sector” including tech entrepreneurship, of which the most notable initiatives are in Nazareth, the biggest Palestinian town within the Green Line.
  • Access to startup funding, especially from key private sources, has often been the biggest challenge: Nazareth is a 90-minute drive from Tel Aviv, the country’s main commercial center.
  • With few Palestinian citizens serving in Israel’s army, the source of much of the country’s innovation, they cannot tap into relationships built during military service that help many Jewish entrepreneurs.
  • Change can already be seen at the Technion University in the northern Israeli city of Haifa. Often referred to as the MIT of Israel, about 21% of its undergraduate students in 2014 were Palestinians — the same proportion as in Israel’s overall population of 8.3 million, and up from 11% in 2001.
  • Since its founding in 2012, the incubator, NBIC, has worked with 70 Palestinian companies, of which a fifth have secured outside funding.
  • While some graduates of the Nazareth incubator are standing on their own feet, there is still no “success story” like a company acquired for a large sum.
  • The government is trying to increase the visibility of Palestinian firms by attracting them to economically thriving central Israel to meet potential investors.

John Deere Invests in Robot Farming Firm

  • The John Deere brand owner this week announced plans to purchase robotics firm Blue River Technology for $305 million.
  • Blue River’s growing portfolio includes high-tech agricultural spraying equipment, dubbed “See & Spray,” which enables farmers to reduce the use of herbicides by spraying only where weeds are present.
  • Using artificially intelligent tools, growers can scan fields, assess crops, and exterminate weeds in one fell swoop.
  • A set of cameras fixed to crop sprayers use deep learning algorithms to identify various types of greenery; the machine automatically knows to shower weeds with herbicide and squirt fertilizer or fungicide on plants as needed.
  • The multi-million-dollar transaction is expected to close this month.
  • The 60-person Blue River team will remain in Sunnyvale, Calif., where it has been operating since 2011.
  • Despite working on autonomous tractors for two decades, Deere & Company hasn’t yet reached the same level of success as industry giants like Google and Tesla.
  • Even its most advanced vehicles, which use the proprietary AutoTrac guidance system, can only assist with navigation, and require a human in the cab.
  • The agricultural robotics sector, expected to reach $16.3 billion by 2020. This is the furture of farming.

Equifax Lax Security Practices

  • Equifax had two months to prevent its massive data breach, but failed to install a software fix flagged by an industry group.
  • A patch for it was issued in March, but
  • In March, Apache discovered a bug that let hackers take control of computers running Apache Struts. A fix was issued the same day.
  • Equifax did not install the patch for months. Hackers didn’t start stealing the sensitive information of up to 143 million Americans until May.
  • It’s unclear why Equifax apparently left its computers unprotected for months.
  • Shawn Frix was a lead information analyst at Equifax. He says people in his department shared unmasked social security numbers to company offices overseas.

Apple Watch Was the Big Winner

  • Apple Watch Series 3 is just as slim as its predecessors, and it has all the same features introduced with last year’s refresh — including a brighter display, a bigger battery, and GPS connectivity.
  • It includes a faster dual-core S3 an improved W2 wireless chip. It has also added an LTE modem, which makes Apple Watch even more useful.
  • With its own LTE modem, Series 3 can connect to a cellular network. That means it no longer needs to be tethered to an iPhone over Bluetooth. You can leave your iPhone at home when you go grocery shopping or out for a meal, and you won’t miss a thing.
  • You’ll continue to receive notifications just as your normally would, and you’ll be able to reply to them there and then. You’ll also be able to use apps that require data without having to stare at a never-ending loading animation.
  • Series 3 won’t just let you receive and reply to notifications; it also allows you to make and receive calls. That means if the babysitter needs to get in touch or you decided to have a drink and need a cab, Apple Watch has you covered.
  • And because Apple Watch is tied to your iPhone’s wireless plan, it uses exactly the same phone number.
  • An Apple Watch with LTE can connect to Apple Music. That means that if you have a subscription, you also have 40 million songs on your wrist — and you don’t have to worry about syncing a playlist, or updating it when it gets old.
  • Simply connect a pair of wireless earbuds and you’re good to go. It makes Apple Watch even greater for fitness activities, when you don’t want a heavy iPhone in your pocket.
  • Siri is another feature that continues to work as normal over LTE without a tethered iPhone. You can use it to fetch information, to reply to text messages and emails, to create calendar events and reminders, and to keep on top of the things that matter most to you.
  • With LTE and Apple Maps on your wrist, it’s even more difficult to get lost in strange places. You can find coffee shops, bars, and other places nearby, and get turn-by-turn navigation to wherever you need to be — even with a dead iPhone battery.
  • If you use Find My Friends, the service will automatically display the location of your Watch when you’re away from your iPhone. That means your friends will still be able to find you when your iPhone is sat on your nightstand at home.