Show of 12-02-2017

Tech Talk Radio
December 2, 2017

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments replayed from previous shows

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Susan in Alexandria: Dear Dr. Shurtz, I’m sure you’ll be discussing the KRACK vulnerability on Wi-Fi with WPA2 security. My specific situation is this. At home, I have Windows 10 (with automatic update) on two laptops and I use an Actiontec router provided by Verizon.  I checked the Actiontec website today (10/20/2017) and it said “We will be posting an update regarding affected devices and available software fixes for those devices as they become available. Please check back for updates. If your Wi-Fi router or network extender was provided by your service provider, the firmware updates for those devices will be pushed from your provider to your device without any action required on your behalf.” I could not find any further information about the KRACK vulnerability from Verizon. On public Wi-Fi, I use older-version Android devices.  The most sensitive thing I do is check my email, and I use a VPN for that. What other steps should I be taking? Many thanks from devoted listeners in our house! Susan in Alexandria, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attack) is a severe replay attack (a type of exploitable flaw) on the Wi-Fi Protected Access protocol that secures Wi-Fi connections. It was discovered in 2016[1] by the Belgian researchers Mathy Vanhoef and Frank Piessens of the University of Leuven. Vanhoef’s research group published details of the attack in October 2017. By repeatedly resetting the nonce transmitted in the third step of the WPA2 handshake, an attacker can gradually match encrypted packets seen before and learn the full keychain used to encrypt the traffic. This is permitted because the protocol allows for the reconnection without a new encryption key by repeating the third step of the WPA2 handshake.
  • The weakness is in the Wi-Fi standard itself, and not in individual products or implementations. Therefore, any correct implementation of WPA2 is likely to be vulnerable.The vulnerability affects all major software platforms, including Microsoft Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Linux.
  • The widely used open-source implementation, utilized by Linux, Android, and OpenBSD, is especially susceptible as it can be manipulated to install an all-zeros encryption key, effectively nullifying WPA2 protection in a man-in-the-middle attack.
  • It can only be exploited if you are in the proximity of the Wi-Fi network, while a device is connecting.
    • Microsoft has already issued a security patch for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Windows machines are safe.
    • The Apple patch will be included in the next big software release. You can fix the KRACK vulnerability by downloading the beta versions of macOS, iOS, tvOS and watchOS. Otherwise, Apple is going to release macOS 10.13.1 and iOS 11.1 in the coming weeks with other bug fixes, new emojis and more.
    • Google said that the November 6 patch would fix the issue. Google’s own devices will receive the update instantly, but it’s going to take some time before device manufacturers and carriers approve the update. In fact, it could take weeks or months. Android fragmentation isn’t ideal in those cases.
  • The ISPs will automatically push the update to your router. If you own you router, you will have to perform the firmware update manually. A few router companies have releases updates as of October 28, 2017, but most have not.
  • To protect yourself until all devices are updated, use a VPN to keep your traffic encrypted without reliance on WPA2. You can also switch to an Ethernet connection to your router (problem solved).
  • Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Dear Dr. Shurtz & Jim. Can you explain some information about cell phones? I have an Android pay-by-the-minute Tracfone, Alcatel Pixi Glitz. It is a small and limited cell phone that does what I need for communications. However, I would like a larger and rotatable screen, longer battery life and better photos than the 2-megapixals the phone currently provides.
  • Can I purchase on eBay or Amazon a better brand name Android cell phone (Samsung, AT&T, LG, etc.) and transfer my Tracfone SIM card to it? Then have the Tracfone website active and move my minutes and phone number to the “new” cell phone. Or is it more complicated than expected?
  • I noticed on my current Tracfone that it has a DATA USAGE screen that shows MOBILE DATA of 59.70 MB and WI-FI of 1.16 KB numbers. I am not sure how to interpret the numbers as it relates to the air time minute usage. I purchase phone minutes and I do not have any DATA PLANS. I look forward to your radio shows, which are great and full of very useful information! Thanks, Doug in Baton Rouge.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can move your sim to another unlocked GSM phone. However, you will have to work with Tracfone support to facilitate this transfer. They will deactivate your old phone in the process. This is not very convenient, but it is how their system works. You can also look at Walmart Straight Talk, which resells the networks. Your connection minutes plan includes limited low bandwidth data for email and web browsing. If you get a more powerful smartphone, Tracfone may move you to a plan with data. BTW, there are now many pre-paid plans out there. All the main carriers have them (ATT, Version, T-Mobile). They also sell some low-cost phones for this use. You can expect to pay around $40 to $45 for unlimited calling/text with 3 to 4 GB of data.
  • Email from Bill Meenahan: Doc and Jim, With regard to YouTube TV, you found these shortfalls: lack of a program guide on the TV and lack of a physical remote control box. If someone owns a touchscreen laptop, could he use that — and not his phone — as YouTube’s remote control box? If that were possible, would that improve the user experience? Enjoy the podcast. Bill Meenahan
  • Tech Talk Responds: In recent months, our options for streaming live TV grew significantly with the introduction of Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV. Both include many, if not all, of the major broadcast networks and comes extremely well known brands. If you are interested in cutting the cord with a cable replacement service, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV look pretty compelling.
  • The $35-per-month YouTube TV streaming bundle is only available in markets where YouTube TV can carry at least three live local broadcast channels, which right now covers about half of U.S. homes. And to watch YouTube TV on a television, you need a Chromecast dongle, a Chromecast-enabled Android TV device, or an Apple TV for AirPlay.
  • For those who live within the YouTube TV footprint, and don’t mind using a phone, tablet, or laptop as their remote, Google’s streaming bundle is an excellent value. It’s also the best attempt yet at combining live, on-demand, and recorded TV into a comprehensible interface. With broader app support and a larger coverage area, it could be the best streaming bundle for most people.
  • YouTube TV is a one-size-fits-all bundle, with nearly 50 channels for $35 per month. The lineup includes the major broadcast networks, ESPN channels, regional sports from Fox and Comcast, cable news from MSNBC and Fox News, and a slew of entertainment channels such as FX, AMC, SyFy, and Disney Junior. Access to YouTube Red originals are thrown in at no extra charge, and you can add Showtime for $11 per month and Fox Soccer Plus for $15 per month.
  • Like other streaming bundles, YouTube TV omits some networks to keep prices down. You won’t get any channels from Turner (TNT, TBS, CNN), Scripps Networks (HGTV, Food Network), Discovery Communications (Animal Planet, Science), or Viacom (Comedy Central, MTV), and the package doesn’t include league-specific sports channels such as NFL Network or NBA TV.
  • Each subscription entitles you to three simultaneous streams, and up to six people can have their own favorite shows and DVR recordings (more on that shortly).

Profiles in IT: Jeff Bezos

  • Jeffrey Preston Bezos was born January 12, 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • He is the founder, president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Amazon.com.
  • Bezos was born when his mother, Jackie Bezos, was still in her teens. Her marriage to his father lasted little more than a year.
  • She remarried when Bezos was five. Bezos’s stepfather, Miguel Bezos, was born in Cuba; he migrated to the United States alone at age 15 and worked his way through the University of Albuquerque.
  • At an early age, he displayed a striking mechanical aptitude. When a toddler, he dismantled his crib with a screwdriver.
  • Bezos showed intense and varied scientific interests at an early age. He rigged an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings out of his room and maintain his secrecy.
  • He converted his parents’ garage into a laboratory for his science projects.
  • Jeffrey spent most summers of his youth working with his grandfather on the family’s 25,000 acre Texas ranch.
  • Bezos attended River Oaks Elementary in Houston from the 4th to 6th grades.
  • The family moved to Miami, Florida, where Bezos attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School.
  • He entered Princeton University, planning to study physics, but soon returned to his love of computers and graduated with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering.
  • After graduating from Princeton, Bezos worked on Wall Street in the computer science field.
  • Then he worked on building a network for international trade for a company known as Fitel. Later on Bezos also worked in computer science for D. E. Shaw & Co..
  • Bezos founded Amazon.com in 1994 and became one of the most prominent dot-com entrepreneurs.
  • Bezos was named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year in 1999.
  • In 2006 his salary was $81,840 (unchanged since 1998), plus $1.1 million in other benefits.
  • Bezos’ wealth is primarily derived from his holding of Amazon.com stock At the end of 2006 he held just over 100 million shares of common stock, representing 24.26% of all Amazon.com shares.
  • At a value $81 per share, he is now worth around $8.1 billion.

Thermal Imaging Camera for Smartphones

  • Flir One, a thermal camera attachment for iPhones and Android phones.
  • The new Flir One features a new image processor and higher resolution visual camera, and is cheaper than its 2015 predecessor – just $199 instead of the old price of $250.
  • Flir Pro is a more ruggedized version of the Flir One that comes with a higher resolution thermal sensor. The Flir Pro will run $399.
  • Thermal cameras are not a thing that everyone needs, but they’re fun to use and are the kind of thing you can find uses for if you have one. That Flir is making them more affordable, more compatible, and easier to use can only be a good thing.

Cutting the Cord: My Journey

  • .OTA television streaming options
    • Mohu AirWave
      • Great directory on Apple TV
      • No support for iOS, Android, or Roku
      • Does not support amplified antenna.
      • If I got better reception, this would be my choice.
    • ClearStream TV™ Over-The-Air WiFi Television Digital Tuner
      • Support any antenna, even amplified antennas.
      • Usable directory. Not as slick as Mohu’s
      • Will evaluate reception in the new couple of weeks.
    • OTT providers
      • Direct TV Now –DirecTV Now is only $10 if you already have AT&T as your cell phone provider. That’s a great deal, but only for the first year. The channel lineup is solid (click here). The HBO add-on is only $5. You won’t get a price that low anywhere else. The interface is a mess and does a bad job curating shows. You are only allowed two concurrent streams, which is comparatively low. You can pause, but you can’t fast forward after pausing; you can only press play. No DVR.
      • Sling TV —Sling TV might be your best bet if you are NOT into sports and still want cable. Sling Blue is $25/month, Sling Orange is $20/month, or you can get them together for $40/month. Supports most devices. You can change the stream’s video quality by adjusting the amount of bandwidth allowed. Sling doesn’t focus much on sports. You can’t pause live TV. This is a feature on all of the other services. It doesn’t make sense because Sling has DVR capabilities. They don’t have a traditional guide with the grid, which is fine, but scrolling through channels and lineups isn’t easy. There are no profiles. You are stuck with a DVR and settings filled with everything the rest of your household likes.
      • Hulu —Hulu uses huge fonts and focus on getting content in front of you through a curation process, rather than just showing channel names. It’s great at recommending new content to watch. You get Hulu Limited Commercials for free. So if you’re already a Hulu member, Hulu with Live TV is only $32/month. You can change your location four times each year. You get a universal experience on all the apps. It’s perfectly in sync. You can pause TV, but once you do, you can’t fast forward at all. With the DVR, you can’t fast forward commercials either. You only get two simultaneous streams. For $15, you can get unlimited streams.
      • PlayStation Vue —PlayStation Vue is the most polished live service around. All regional sports teams are available. You can stream with five devices at once with all of the packages. If you want to see your local sports teams, it’s $45/month; if you don’t care to see them, it’s $40/month. You can set up your favorite channels to show up first on the guide list. You can watch from your web browser without downloading an app. If you want to watch local sports teams, Vue is probably your best bet. They give you the Fox and Comcast regional sports channels (depending on your location. It’s compatible with almost all devices. Sony should have called it Vue instead of PlayStation Vue. You can’t use it if you leave your city without calling customer support.
      • YouTube TV — YouTube TV’s Cloud DVR is amazing. You get unlimited storage and your stuff is stored for nine months. Shows are easy to find, record and watch. YouTube TV is by far the best in terms of DVR. The interface on the phone is very easy to use. You get six accounts. Everyone in your household gets their own account for DVR. Membership is simple; it’s $35/month. That is a great price for the content and the three simultaneous streams you’re getting. You will get your local sports teams in almost any location. There is no Apple TV app, nor does it look like there are plans for Google to make one. You can watch on the iOS app and use AirPlay.
    • Recommendation — PlayStation Vue is the best bet for most people. You will get the old-fashioned guide, great channel lineup, five streams at once, great compatibility, and a solid stream. All five services have a free trial period. I would recommend that you check out these services during the trial period to see how they meet your needs.
    • Streaming devices
      • Apple TV 4 (64GB) –Great single remote interface. It will turn on the TV, but it will not turn it off. Supports both Mohu and ClearStreamTV app. The best streaming quality. Price: $199.
      • Roku Ultra –Great single remote interface. It will turn the TV on and off. Supports ClearStream TV app. Does not support Mohu yet. Streams 4K HD. Features fast quad-core processor and 802.11ac dual-band wireless. Enhanced remote (voice, remote finder, headphone jack, TV power and volume). Great streaming quality. Price: $99.
      • Chromecast Ultra –Chromecast Ultra offers one of the best values for streaming video devices for 4K TV owners. Requires that you cast from a mobile device or from a Chrome browser. Not convenient for regular TV viewing. Great streaming quality. Price: $69.
      • Amazon Fire TV –The latest Fire TV is a great media streamer, with a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, support for 4K HDR streaming, and Dolby Atmos support. It is competing with the leader of the pack, Apple TV. The integration with Amazon Echo makes it easy to control you TV with voice commands. Price: $70.