Show of 11-11-2017

Tech Talk

November 11, 2017

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Jim in Bowie: Dear Doc and Jim. Thanks for the response last week. I’ll think I’ll just use Microsoft Edge for my browser since its already installed and apparently just as good as Chrome now. My new Dell computer comes with a free one year subscription to McAfee. Security, so I might as well use that for the length of the subscription. I can then obtain from work for home use the same computer security software used by NASA: Symantec Endpoint Protection and Symantec Anti-Virus software. As far as email, even though Gmail has great features, I would rather not change my email address. When verizon outsourced their email to AOL, I went along with that so that I could keep my @verizon.net email addresses. I think I’ll just go ahead and use the Microsoft mail client and not install Thunderbird on my new computer. However, this means that my email archives will not be transfer over to my new computer (or do you know a way to do this, Any further comments or suggestions? Thanks for your help. Jim in Bowie
  • Tech Talk Responds: Security options make sense. I do the same at Stratford, using the same security as my work system. According to Microsoft TechNet, you can convert Thunderbird email Thunderbird Converter CataSoftwareThe Thunderbird to Outlook Converter utility supports batch Conversion for instant processing. It is useful for converting Thunderbird emails onto Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Outlook Express, etc. The software is $69. You can download it from: http://www.catasoftware.com/thunderbird-converter/
  • As far as email, I actually kept my Verizon email address and simply added my Gmail account, along with my work account to MS Mail. Over time, I simply used Gmail more frequently and Verizon less frequently. So I would keep Verizon, but add Gmail as a more robust option.
  • Email from Tung in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I post lots for things to Facebook and would like to know who visits my page. I found one app that says they can do this. But are they legit? Love the podcast. Tung in Ohio
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are plenty of browser extensions, apps, and websites that claim to be able to tell you which of your Facebook Friends have recently visited your profile, and how much time they spent there. Unfortunately, none of these extensions or apps do what they claim. You will not get what you want by installing one of these extensions. At best, they just do not work, and at worst, they are malware, stealing your information, mining Bitcoins using your browser, or otherwise doing something nefarious. You should never install anything, or provide any personal details or login credentials, to any service that claims to do it. There is no reliable way for them to get that data from Facebook unless they were also able to spy on all those other users. If you’ve already installed a browser extension of Facebook app that claims to let you see who’s viewed your Profile, get rid of it now. You should also change your Facebook password and take other steps to secure your account.
  • Email from Lilly in Fairfax: Dear Doc and Jim. How can I hid sensitive notification from my iPhones lock screen? I don’t like all they notification visible for anyone to see while my phone is charging. Enjoy the show. Lilly in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: In iOS 11, your iPhone gives you much more control over notifications. You can designate certain apps as “sensitive”, so that it hides the content of notifications while your phone is locked, only letting you see the full preview when you use Touch ID or Face ID to unlock your iPhone. This works in every single app on your phone, unlike in iOS 10 and before.
  • When you designate an app as “sensitive”, it won’t show the contents of your notification—for example, the entire text message or email subject—instead it’ll just say “Notification”.
  • To change this setting, head to Settings > Notifications on your phone. Tap the “Show Previews” option at the top of the screen. Set the option to “When Unlocked” and notification previews will be hidden until you unlock your phone, preventing other people from snooping on them. You can also select “Never” and you’ll never see previews, even while your phone is unlocked. The “Always” option is the default and will always show full notification previews, even on the lock screen.
  • Whatever option you choose, you can override it for individual apps. For example, you can hide message previews for all apps, but then allow them for a few apps. Or, you can allow message previews from most apps, but hide them for a few sensitive apps, like email.
  • To do this, head to the Settings > Notifications screen and tap the app you want to configure. Scroll down on the app’s notification settings screen, tap “Show Previews” under Options, and select your preference. You can select “When Unlocked”, “Never”, or “Always” here. Unless you select custom preferences for an app, it will use the default setting you choose for all apps.
  • This is a huge improvement from iOS 10 and earlier, which only allowed you to hide previews for Apple apps like Messages and Mail, and didn’t show them when you unlocked your phone. It’s now possible to hide notification previews only while your phone is locked, and for every last app on your phone.
  • It works well with the iPhone X, too—just look at your phone to unlock it with Face ID and you’ll see the full notification content. On an older iPhone with Touch ID, you just have to touch the home button with a finger to see the notification content.
  • Kim in Florida: Dear Tech Talk. I love to use creative and interesting fonts in my documents. However, when I send them to a colleague, they can view them properly because they don’t have the same fonts installed on their computer. Is there a way to include the fonts in the document that I send? It would make my life easier. At this point, I am simply sending PDF files, rather than DOCX files which they can edit. Enjoy the show in Florida. Kim in Florida
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is a common problem. Not everyone has the same font set installed on their computer. When you email someone a copy of your Word document or PowerPoint presentation and they don’t have a font installed, Microsoft Office shows that document with the default font instead. This can mess up the whole layout and make the document look completely different, but you can fix this by embedding fonts into your documents.
  • When you enable this option, Office takes the font file from your system and embeds a copy of it into the Office document. This increases the size of the document, but anyone who opens the document will be able to see the document with its intended font. You can only do this in the Windows versions of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher. This does not work in the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, or web versions of Word or PowerPoint.
  • This also only works if the font you are trying to embed allows embedding. The font files on your system have “embedding permissions” in them. Office respects these permissions, so you may not be able to embed some fonts, or the resulting document may not be editable after fonts are embedded.
  • To embed a font, click the “File” menu while working on a document in the Windows versions of Word, PowerPoint, or Publisher. Click the “Options” link at the bottom of the menu that appears. Click “Save” in the left pane. Under “Preserve fidelity when sharing this document”, check the “Embed fonts in the file” option. To reduce the resulting document’s file size, be sure to check the “Embed only the characters used in the document (best for reducing file size)” option. Office will only embed a font if it’s used in the document. Leave the “Do not embed common system fonts” option enabled. This will also help reduce the file size by omitting Windows system fonts that the recipient likely has installed. Click “OK” to save your changes and save the document normally. The fonts you used in the document will be embedded into the file.

Profiles in IT: Dennis Jennings

  • Dennis M. Jennings is an Internet pioneer, who was responsible for three critical decisions that shaped NSFNET, the network that became the Internet.
  • Dennis Jennings was born in Manchester in 1945 and raised in Rathfarnham, Ireland.
  • Dennis Jennings received BSc degree in Physics in1967 and a PhD in Physics in 1972, both from the University College Dublin. His dissertation measured high-energy gamma radiation from pulsars.
  • Jennings was the director of Computing Services at the University College Dublin from 1977 to 1999, where he was responsible for the university IT infrastructure.
  • In 1984, the National Science Foundation (NSF) began construction of several regional supercomputing centers to provide high-speed computing resources for the US research community.
  • In 1985 NSF hired Jennings as its first Program Director for Networking to lead the establishment of the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) to provide access to the five NSF super-computing.
  • Jennings made three critical decisions that shaped the subsequent development of NSFNET. He deemed that it would:
    • Be a general-purpose research network, not limited to supercomputer centers;
    • Act as the backbone for connection of regional networks
    • Use the ARPANET’s TCP/IP protocols.
  • This was the first time a protocol known as TCP/IP was deployed. It would go on to become the bedrock of the Internet.
  • He went back to UCD to head up the computing services department before leaving to set up his venture capital fund – 4th Level Ventures.
  • In 2002, Jennings co-founded 4th Level Ventures, an Irish Venture Capital company whose primary objective is to invest in companies commercializing the business opportunities that arise from university research in Ireland.
  • He is also an Angel investor, investing in early-stage technology companies.
  • He is currently chairman and/or board member of a several small technology companies, and has a wide experience of the issues relating to the start-ups.
  • Jennings was also actively involved in the start-up of research networks in Europe, including the European Academic Research Network, EARN.
  • He chaired the Board and General Assembly of the Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries (CENTR) from 1999 to early 2001.
  • He was actively involved in the start-up of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and was on the Board from 2007 to 2010.
  • In April 2014 Jennings was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame.
  • He is an opera and classical music enthusiast and is the chairman of the UCD Choral Scholars Board of Management.

Major internet outages after ‘configuration error’

  • Comcast’s internet service suffered massive outages on November 6 across the U.S., including large metropolitan areas like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, due to an outage at Level 3, an internet provider to other networks.
  • A Level 3 spokesperson said that the outages were caused by a configuration error that caused internet routing problems to major service providers like Comcast as well as Spectrum, Verizon, Cox and RCN, whose services also went down to varying degrees on the same day.
  • Comcast said the outages should now be resolved, but had not explained the cause. In a tweet, the telecommunications firm characterized the cause as an “external network issue.”
  • Level 3 Communications operates a Tier 1 network. The company provides core transport, IP, voice, video, and content delivery for medium-to-large Internet carriers in North America, Latin America, Europe, and selected cities in Asia. Level 3 is also the largest competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) and the 3rd largest provider of fiber-optic internet access in the United States.

Facebook’s Answer to Revenge Porn

  • Facebook wants you to send them your nude pics and they will keep them off their platform. The Internet has gone berserk with this idea.
  • The system works like this: if you suspect someone has copies of photos of you naked and is going to leak them on Facebook, you can preemptively upload those snaps to a private chat area of the network where a trained staffer will verify the photo, and generate and store a digital signature of the image.
  • Once that happens, the users should delete the image from the message thread, removing it from the network.
  • If any photos are subsequently posted on Facebook that match one of these signatures, it will be automatically blocked.
  • Thus, if someone shares one of your previously submitted nude pics, the action will be halted before any damage is done.
  • The one obvious drawback is that someone at Facebook will get to see you, albeit briefly, naked.
  • The system applies across the tech giant’s entire platform: Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
  • The digital signature kept on file by Facebook is a cryptographic hash – a one-way encrypted summary of the image that can’t be reversed to the original.

New Amazon Products Available for Pre-Order

  • Amazon has released some interesting new hardware. They are trying to dominate the smart home market and are winning.
  • Amazon Echo (Second Generation) — The Echo features an updated voice-activated technology and a better speaker system, At roughly ⅔ the height of the previous version, the new Echo speaker offers a more compact and portable way to take advantage of Alexa. It comes in six new colors and costs only $99.99
  • Echo Plus (With a Built-In Smart Hub) — While the Echo Plus may look like your everyday Echo, this version doubles as a smart home hub, meaning it’s able to automatically search for smart devices in your home and connect them to your Alexa network. Smart lights, smart thermostat, smart TVs and more are all covered without any work on your part. If you’re constantly adding new devices to your home, the Echo Plus is a must. It natively supports the Zigbee standard and costs $149.99.
  • Echo Spot — With a 2.5-inch color display, Alexa voice-activated technology and the ability to sync to other devices in your home, the new Echo Spot is gearing up to be one of the most anticipated new Amazon releases ever. It works as an alarm clock, but it does a lot more. It will make live video calls, check the weather, listen to your favorite tunes and more. When not in use, it looks like a bedside clock. But beware, Amazon has now place a camera in your bedroom. It costs $129.99.
  • Echo Connect — Echo Connect is an accessory that lets a user link his Echo to his home phone line, letting people make phone calls hands-free, including to 911. Priced at $35.

Cutting the Cord: My Journey Continued

  • .OTA television streaming options
    • Mohu AirWave
      • Great directory on Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV
      • No support for iOS, Android, or Roku
      • Does not support amplified antenna.
      • If I got better reception, this would be my choice.
      • Cost: $149 for Wi-Fi and antenna. Antenna not good enough for my location.
      • Purchased Mohu Air60 for $126 on Amazon. I mounted it in the attic. I used a cell phone app to point the antenna.
      • Now I get 49 stations with excellent picture quality (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, FoxPlus, plus many more). Works well.
    • ClearStream TV™ Over-The-Air WiFi Television Digital Tuner
      • Support any antenna, even amplified antennas.
      • One tuner only. Streams to multiple TVs
      • Usable directory. Not as slick as Mohu’s
      • Will evaluate reception in the new couple of weeks.
      • Price: $99 without antenna.
      • Purchased a ClearStream 4MAX antenna with 70+ range and a slightly wider FOV. I plan to compare with the results from the Mohu Air60.
    • Tablo Wi-Fi DVR
      • Support any antenna, even amplified antennas.
      • Either 2 or 4 tuners. Steams different channels to multiple TVs
      • Directory costs $5/month or $150 for lifetime.
      • Will evaluate reception in the new couple of weeks.
      • Price: $299 for four tuners, plus $70 for 2TB WD hard drive.
    • Poor Wi-Fi reception in attic: If you don’t have good Wi-Fi signals in the attic, you can use power line Ethernet to connect your Wi-Fi bridge to the Router. The Netgear solution is $70. The TP Link solution is $45. Both got good reviews.