Show of 10-07-2017

Tech Talk Radio
October 7, 2017

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments replayed from previous shows

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Brian in Kansas: Doc and Jim. What is Safe Mode? Occasionally, when I reboot my computer, it asks me if I want to use Safe Mode. What does that mean? Should I do it? Enjoy the podcast. Brian in Kansas.
  • Tech Talk Responds: On computers infected with malware or crashing because of buggy drivers, Safe Mode may be the only way to start the computer. Safe Mode starts your PC with a minimal set of drivers and services. No third-party software or drivers get loaded, and even the built-in Windows services are limited to just what’s necessary. Safe Mode is a great way to remove problem-causing software, like malware, without that software getting in the way. It also provides an environment where you can roll back drivers and use troubleshooting tools.
  • In Safe Mode, Windows uses a very low screen resolution with generic video drivers, doesn’t initialize much hardware support, starts only the necessary services, and avoids loading third-party startup programs. Your Windows PC should automatically start up in Safe Mode if it crashes more than once while trying to start normally. However, you can also boot into Safe Mode manually.
      • Windows 7 and earlier: Press the F8 key while the computer is booting.
      • Windows 8: Hold Shift while clicking Restart on the Power menu.
      • Windows 10: Hold Shift while clicking Restart on the Start Menu.
  • After starting Windows in Safe Mode, you can perform most of the regular system maintenance and troubleshooting tasks to fix your computer:
      • Scan for Malware
      • Run System Restore.
      • Uninstall Recently Installed Software.
      • Update Hardware Drivers.
  • Email from Alice in Alexandria: Dear Tech Talk. How can I attach a file or an image to an Email in my iPhone Mail application? I use Gmail all the time on my iPhone’s Mail app, but don’t see any way to add an attachment. Enjoy the show. Alice in Alexandria
  • Tech Talk Responds: Attachments in emails in iOS have not always been easy to work with. However, since iOS9, Apple has made it easier to attach any file to an email in the Mail app.
  • Start by opening a new email by clicking on the pen and paper icon in the lower right hand corner. To insert an attachment, tap and hold your finger down in the body of the message. A popup displays with various options. Tap ‘Add Attachment’ or ‘Insert Photo or Video’. If you do not see these options on the right because the screen size is too small, tap on the arrow on the right side of the popup display. In my case, I have to turn my phone to landscape mode to see it all.
  • A dialog displays allowing you to choose a file. By default, it opens to iCloud Drive. However, you can select files from other storage providers registered on your device. To attach a file from a location other than iCloud Drive, tap ‘Locations’ in the upper-left corner of the dialog box. A list of storage providers registered on your device displays in a popup. These can be apps that have their own local storage or cloud storage apps, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Box. Tap on the storage provider where the file you want to attach is located.
  • By the way, if you are using the Gmail application in the iPhone, the add attachment icon is a small paperclip in the upper right hand corner of the new email.
  • Email from Ngoc in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I love to use Facebook, but hate the videos that automatically play with sound in my newsfeed. Is there a way to mute these videos? It is very annoying. Ngoc in Ohio
  • Tech Talk Responds: Facebook now has videos set to automatically play the audio in your news feed. Fortunately, you can turn off this ‘feature’. To turn off the always-on volume feature, open the Facebook mobile app and click on the menu icon in the lower right corner. Within the main menu,
    • Select ‘Settings’,
    • Select ‘Account Settings’,
    • Select ‘Videos and Photos’.
  • Within the Videos and Photos menu, toggle the top entry, ‘Videos in News Feed Start With Sound’ off. Now videos in your news feed will not start with the sound blaring and if you want to hear the sound you will either need to double tap on the video to zoom to the video.
  • Email from John in Fairfax: Dear Dr. Shurtz. I am interested in technology. What developments and languages are worth pursuing now? I am still in high school and would like to learn as quickly as possible. Love the show. John in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: You need to learn the basics of coding. Once you learn one language, moving to another is quite easy. A good starting point in your coding career might start with the follow.
    • HTML and CSS —If you are interested in developing websites, you’ll inevitably be using HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). HTML is the standard language used to create basic web pages, and CSS is a language used to add style (layout, color, fonts, etc.) to the documents you create with HTML. Since both languages are essential for web development, HTML/CSS combo as the best place for aspiring coders to start.
    • JavaScript —While HTML and CSS are foundational building blocks for creating web pages, JavaScript is a programming language that controls a site’s interactive elements. Pop-up ads, slideshows, search field autocompletes, and other web features that change without refreshing the page are all powered by JavaScript. HTML and CSS are often recommended as a starting point before moving on to JavaScript.
    • Ruby/Ruby on Rails —Ruby is a programming language that’s easy to use but powerful enough to fuel websites like Hulu, Groupon, and GitHub. Ruby on Rails is a framework (a collection of code libraries) that allows applications written in Ruby to run on the Web. Ruby is an ideal first programming language and its open source.
  • If you want to be prepared for some long-term trends in technology: study Blockchainsand Machine Learning. Some excellent courses on Coursea are nearly free. Blockchains are distributed ledgers that can track and verify anything. They eliminate the need for a central authority, like a bank. Etherium is a block chain platform with its own language. Machine learning is the new way to program using large datasets to train the program to recognize patterns. It is used for speech recognition and AI. Google has opened the TensorFlow API, its machine learning engine, to developers and students.
  • Email from Doug in Kilmarnock: Dear Doc and Jim. I’m trying to delete a document in the queue of my printer, but I can’t. It writes ‘deleting’, but it never finishes, I’ve tried to cancel the same from the field of my printer but it doesn’t disappear, restarting my computer, restarting the document, turning off the printer, unplugging the cables, still I can’t. What else can I do? It does not allow other documents to print! Enjoy the show. Doug in Kilmarnock, Virginia
  • Tech Talk Responds: The print queue is managed by the “Print Spooler” service. The process of adding a document to the print queue, or sending it to the printer from the print queue is referred to as “spooling”. Each printer you have available on your system has its own queue.
  • You can view the print queue for each by opening up Control Panel, and going to Printers, or Devices and Printers, and double clicking on the print icon you’ll find there. You can also cancel printing a document if it shows up in the print queue: right click on the document and click on the Cancel option.
  • Next check a few things. Is the printer out of paper? Is it showing some other kind of fault? Is the printer connected and powered on? Is there a paper jam?
  • If nothing works, you can clear the print queue manually.
      • Turn off your printer.
      • Press  ‘Window key’ + ‘R’ to open the Run dialog. Type ‘services.msc’ , then click ‘OK’. Double-click the ‘Printer Spooler’ service, and then Click on Stop to stop the print spooler. (You can leave this dialog open.)
      • Now, use Windows Explorer to navigate to the folder C:\Windows\System32\spool\PRINTERS. Delete the contents of this folder.
      • Back at the Printer Spooler Properties dialog, click on Start.
  • Turn your printer back on and print something. It should be fixed.
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz, So now there is HEIF (High Efficiency Image File Format) from Apple. How does this compare to JPEG & GIF? And can one go from one format to another without a lot of hassle? What do you think of HEIF? Understand this format will save space for iOS users, but may have compatibly problems. Great show with lots of good info. Thanks, Arnie, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: The High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) uses video compression technology called HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) that was designed by the Motion Picture Experts Group. HEIF is the technique to compress individual frames that comprise an HEVC video. HEIF is a natural to support Apple’s Live Pic mode. It can also easily replace animated GIFs. In addition, the image quality is superior to JPG and GIF.
  • HEIF uses some similar methods as JPEG, but goes a step further. JPEG breaks an image up into blocks, each of which is compressed with a clever combination of trigonometry and matrix mathematics. One way HEIF improves on JPEG is by comparing those blocks. If one block is similar to another, HEIF records just the difference, which requires less storage space. In effect, for example, HEIF could tell a computer, “just put some blue sky here like we already have.
  • You don’t have to worry about converting HEIF images because the Apple OS will convert it automatically to JPG when you export the picture. You will simply be able to store about twice as many pictures on the iPhone and use less iCloud space for backup.
  • Email from Al: Hello Tech Talk. I use Outlook as my mail tool on a Dell desktop running Windows 7 Home Premium. The E-mail downloaded into Outlook comes from my Microsoft Outlook.com account. Recently, images in some E-mails will not display. One sees only an empty box with a red X. This problem occurs for most E-mails but not all. Some display all images just fine. Some E-Mails display some images but not all. Some E-mails display none. Ive done some research that indicates theres a problem in some Outlook file but that the problem can only be fixed by going into the registry. Im very reluctant to tinker in the registry. Can you advise as to what the problem is and how I can safely fix it? Thanks in advance and thanks for your interesting Saturday radio show. Al
  • Tech Talk Responds: I would check your security settings first. Internet Explorer has a security setting that, when enabled, prevents Outlook from displaying images with a secure URL. Image URLs starting with “http” will display, not URLs that start with “https”. To change the setting in Internet Explorer:
      • Open Internet Explorer.
      • Go to Tools > Internet Options.
      • Click the Advanced tab.
      • Scroll down to the Security settings list, then uncheck the “Do not save encrypted pages to disk” option.
      • Click OK.
  • Before the changes take effect, it may sometimes be necessary to clear the cache in Internet Explorer and close Outlook (File > Exit to close fully). After relaunching Outlook, send yourself another email with an image that did not display previously.
  • If that did not work, Outlook itself can be configured to block images for security reasons. Assuming you have Outlook 2010, do the following:
      • Click the File > Options.
      • Click Trust Center.
      • Click the Trust Center Settings button.
      • Uncheck the box next to the “Don’t download pictures automatically in HTML e-mail messages or RSS items” option.
  • Changing the registry is only required if the configuration for image storage is pointed to the wrong subdirectory. It is most likely to be your security settings. If the security setting do not solve the problem. You can check the registry image storage issue. Microsoft has created a tool that will check and modify your registry automatically. Before you use this tool, make certain to set a restore point on the OS, so that you can revert back to the old registry settings. Here is the link to that tool: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/2638687/pictures-cannot-be-displayed-and-are-shown-as-red-x-in-outlook. This would be your last resort.
  • Email form Jim Barlett: Hey Doc. Would you explain again how you use TRACERT to find the node hops? Where do you write TRACERT? It does not work if it is placed in front of the URL in the search line. Thanks, Jim
  • Tech Talk Responds: I discussed on the last show. TRACERT is a command line prompt and needs to use the DOS command line. To get to the command line, type ‘cmd’ into the Start Button search field. Then click on Command Prompt (Desktop App). When the Command Prompt Window opens, type: TRACERT website address. The web address is not preceded by http. If you want to see all of the TRACERT options, just type TRACERT without a web address. This is a fun way to understand how the Internet actually works.
  • Email from Tung in Ohio: Dear Tech Talk. I have a problem with the sound coming from my HDTV when I am listening to DVD movies. The dialogue is too quiet compared to the sound effects and other noises. I can hardly understand what they are saying. If I turn up the volume to hear dialogue, everything else is too loud. How can I fix it. Love the podcast. I am currently using the stereo output from my TV. Tung in Ohio.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Audio and speaker configurations are labeled by the number of different channels of audio present in the source. Headphones, regular TV sets, and systems with a pair of speakers (and no subwoofer) are referred to as 2.0 channel audio. The number before the decimal represents the number of full frequency range channels so, regular front speakers, rear speakers, and so on. The number after the decimal represents the number of specialized, low frequency channel’s output to subwoofers. So, if you add a single subwoofer to 2.0 channel audio, it becomes 2.1 channel audio. Add in rear surround speakers and a center channel front speaker, and it becomes 5.1.
  • Your are watching TV with the simple 2.0 channel speakers built into the TV and maybe a 2.0 channel soundbar with a subwoofer added in for good measure to boost it up to 2.1. When you watch media encoded with 5.1 or greater channel audio (which is pretty much any DVD) on a 2.x setup, it falls on the TV to perform a task known as ‘downmixing’ to blend the channels together and re-balance sounds so that the 5.1 configuration sounds normal coming from a 2.0 system.
  • Your TV may be down mixing improperly. Organizations like Dolby publish ratios that provide the ideal down mixing configuration. Many cheaper TV sets just smash the channels together and push them out the speakers with little to no adjustment. That’s a perfect recipe for way-too-loud action and way-too-soft dialogue.
  • If your Blu-ray player, for example, thinks that it’s hooked up to a 5.1 channel audio system, then it’s going to put out all 5.1 channels and you’ll be at the mercy of whatever your TV does with that output. If your DVD player has the option to specify that the audio output is 2.0, then the player and not the TV can handle the down mix. That is your best option.
  • You can also reduce the difference between the high and low volumes by adjusting the dynamic range. Your DVD player may have an audio option labeled as ‘Dynamic Range Compression’, ‘Dynamic Range Control’, ‘DRC’, ‘Night Mode’. This option instructs the device to compress the range of volume in the audio track of the displayed video such that the highest and lowest points are closer together. This makes the booms not as loud and the whispers not as quiet.

Profiles in IT: Vic Hayes

  • Vic Hayes is known as “Father of Wi-Fi”
  • Popularly known as the “Father of Wi-Fi”, Vic Hayes is senior research fellow at Delft University of Technology in Delft , Netherlands .
  • The father of WiFi, Dutch engineer Vic Hayes, didn’t invent the technology but steered the sector away from a VHS-versus-Beta-style debacle.
  • In the early 1990s, Hayes corralled the many companies working on wireless-networking technology into an agreement on WiFi standards.
  • The term WiFi was created in 1999 by Interbrand, the consultancy that coined the name Prozac. They were hired by what is now known as the Wi-Fi Alliance. Other name finalists: Torchlight, Elevate.
  • From its inception in 1990 through 2000, Mr. Hayes chaired the IEEE standards workgroup that defined the IEEE 802.11 set of wireless networking standards, better known as Wi-Fi.
    • Hayes’ leadership is one of the reasons that low-cost, nearly ubiquitous wireless LAN connectivity exists today.
    • Hayes helped bring global recognition of the need for additional spectrum for wireless computer networks.
    • Through the Wi-Fi Alliance he mobilized the computer industry into regulatory activities, with the result that the World Radio Conference 2003 allocated an additional 455 MHz of radio spectrum in the 5 GHz area for wireless access devices.
    • The task of developing an IEEE standard around wireless technology was a diplomatic mission for Vic Hayes, the father of Wi-Fi.
  • Ironically, Agere dropped out of Wi-Fi because it could not compete on price with its competitors.
  • He was born July 31, 1941 in Indonesia (at that time Netherland’s Indies )
  • Received his BE degree in 1961 in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from HTS Amsterdam in 1961
  • He was a Radio and Radar Officer at the Dutch Royal Air Force in 1962.
  • 1963 to 1974 – Customer Engineer for Friden Holland (now Singer Business Machines).
  • 1974 to 2003 – Systems Engineer for NCR, Systems Laboratory, (the Netherlands ). This company later became AT&T, then Lucent Technologies, and finally Agere Systems.
  • He is currently Senior Research Fellow at Delft University of Technology,

Hurricane Physics (Originally aired on 8/27/2011)

  • Dedicated to Irene, the hurricane of the moment
  • Wind and Rain
    • Air flows clockwise around a high pressure system and counter-clockwise around a low in the Northern Hemisphere.
    • Hurricanes are areas of deep low pressure, so their winds swirl counter-clockwise around the center of the storm – where the eye is located.
    • Both rotations are caused by the Coriolis force
    • Hurricanes impacting the East Coast usually have a northwesterly track. That movement affects the wind speeds felt on the ground: The winds in the northeast quadrant of the storm which blow to the north (counter-clockwise around the eye) combine with the northwesterly movement of the storm.
  • Storm Surge
    • Air pressure presses down against ocean water at an average sea-level pressure of 1013 millibars.
    • In the eye of a hurricane, the pressure is far lower than average and doesn’t push down as hard on the water. This causes the water to rise higher than water outside the hurricane.
    • This moving hill of water carried in the center of the hurricane is known as storm surge.
    • When the hurricane makes landfall, this hill of water is carried onshore, causing flooding. If the landfall timing coincides with high tide, the flooding can be even worse.
  • Hurricanes always have the potential to spawn tornadoes, though usually weak ones. So no matter how nice it looks outside, keep an eye on the local weather station and stay indoors just to be safe!

War Driving Equipment (Originally aired on 6/16/2007)

  • Netstumbler
  • Cantenna
  • 11b Orinoco Gold Classic Wi-Fi card manufactured by Proxim

Driverless Trucks are coming

  • A convoy of self-driving trucks recently drove across Europe and arrived at the Port of Rotterdam. This development will transform trucking.
  • Shipping a full truckload from L.A. to New York costs around $4,500 today, with labor representing 75 percent of that cost.
  • Where drivers are restricted by law from driving more than 11 hours per day without taking an 8-hour break, a driverless truck can drive nearly 24 hours per day. That means the technology would effectively double the output of the U.S. transportation network at 25 percent of the cost.
  • And the savings become even more significant when you account for fuel efficiency gains. The optimal cruising speed from a fuel efficiency standpoint is around 45 miles per hour, whereas truckers who are paid by the mile drive much faster. Further fuel efficiencies will be had as the self-driving fleets adopt platooning technologies, like those from Peloton Technology, allowing trucks to draft behind one another in highway trains.
  • This will also create safety benefits. This year alone more people will be killed in traffic accidents involving trucks than in all domestic airline crashes in the last 45 years combined. At the same time, more truck drivers were killed on the job, 835, than workers in any other occupation in the U.S.
  • The demonstration in Europe shows that driverless trucking is right around the corner. The primary remaining barriers are regulatory. We still need to create on- and off-ramps so human drivers can bring trucks to the freeways where highway autopilot can take over. We may also need dedicated lanes as slow-moving driverless trucks could be a hazard for drivers.

Tip of the Week: Getting Rid of Headphone Cable Kinks

  • Tip from Kevin on Lifehacker Website
  • He accidentally let my ear buds go through the washer and dryer. They still functioned well, but the cords were all curved and bunched up.
  • To correct this wrapped the wires around a class of water and tapes them in place.
  • He poured in boiling water and let the glass cool to room temperature.
  • It worked perfectly, removing all the kinks from the headphones.