Show of 03-03-2018

Tech Talk

March 3, 2018

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email form Ammara in Fairfax: Dear Doc and Jim, I have a Windows 10 laptop. Everytime I reboot my computer, Microsoft OneDrive forces me to login or create an account. It is annoying. How can I get rid of this annoying popup. Enjoy the podcast. Ammara in Fairfax.
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is annoying. MS will do anything to get you to use OneDrive. If you want to make the annoying dialog go away for good, you’re going to need to disable OneDrive, and there are a couple of ways you could do this.
  • The reason OneDrive starts up with Windows every time is because it is listed in the startup items in your PC’s configuration. To disable OneDrive from starting up every single time you reboot your PC, just right-click on the Taskbar and choose the “Task Manager” option—or use the handy CTRL+SHIFT+ESC keyboard shortcut.
  • In Task Manager, choose the “More Details” option at the bottom, and then click on the Startup tab, where you’ll see the OnDrive. Simply disable it and your done. The next time you reboot your PC, that annoying OneDrive login window should be gone.
  • Rather than disable something you plan to never use, you can also uninstall it. Head into Settings (press Windows+I), click the “Apps” option, find Microsoft OneDrive under the “Apps & Features” section, and then click the “Uninstall” button.
  • Alternatively, you could actually use OneDrive if you want. If you have an Office 365 subscription you have access to a terabyte of space, and it works pretty well.
  • Email from Helen in Rockville: Dear Tech Talk. I would like to automate some tasks in Microsoft Word. How would I even begin to do this task. I am good a using Word, but am not a programmer. Helen in Rockville
  • Tech Talk Responds: Word has the ability to create small automation programs called Macros. You can activate a macro by hitting a keyboard shortcut to trigger a pre-recorded action. Here is how you can create a macro.
  • First, create a new blank Word document to work in. You will be able to save your macros in a system-wide database, so you don’t need to create new ones for each document you work on. In the blank document, switch to the “View” tab on the Ribbon, click the “Macros” dropdown menu, and then click the “Record Macro” command.
    • Next, give your macro an appropriate name and type a brief description.
    • Choose whether to assign your macro to a button or keyboard shortcut.
    • Choose where to store your macro. The default is to store it in Word’s master template (a file named Normal.dotm) so that you can use it in all your documents. You can also store it only in the current document if you want. Click the “OK” button when you’re done.
  • If you choose the “Button” option, you’re presented with a screen that lets you choose where to store the new button.
  • If you are assigning your macro to a keyboard shortcut, you will be able to create the shortcut using a popup window. Make sure the name of the macro is selected in the “Commands” pane, click inside the “Press New Shortcut Key” box, and then press the keyboard combo you want to use. When you’re done, click the “Assign” button, and then click the “Close” button.
  • Now click create and start the task you want to automate. While creating your macro, you can click the “Pause recording” button if you need to adjust something or make some quick notes. Click the “Resume recorder” button to continue working on your macro. When you’re done, open the “Macros” dropdown menu again, and then click the “Stop recording” command. Word creates a macro from your recording and saves it as a button or keyboard shortcut (whatever you decided).
  • To run the macro, click the button you assigned or the hit the keyboard shortcut you defined. BTW, macros can be used in all of the MS Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoints, and Access).
  • Email from Brian in Kansas: Dear Tech Talk. I have a dilemma. Employers will not hire me for an IT job without experience and I cannot get experience without a job. It seems like an impossible situation. What do you recommend for someone just starting out. Brian in Kansas.
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is always a frustrating dilemma, but you’re not the only one dealing with it. Career fields such as IT that rely on precise technical skills often want proof that candidates can actually deliver before they hire. So what can a beginner gain some IT experience?
  • Do projects at home. No one said that experience had to be paid.
  • Build something. Buy some servers or get some donated from a company and do something with them. Computer systems and networking equipment are upgraded so frequently that businesses, schools and even consumers often give away outdated equipment. Obtaining used equipment can provide great material for practice and experimentation.
  • Build a lab at your house. A home lab shows passion, hunger and hands on knowledge. Getting your hands dirty on projects at home will allow you to hone your skills without the fear of damaging a company’s expensive investment.
  • Once you feel comfortable on your own equipment, expand your services to your friends or family. Helping a friend recover from a computer virus or setting up a wireless router are examples of ways you can demonstrate expertise.
  • Earn certifications
  • Earning industry certifications is a great way to gain and showcase your IT experience before getting hired somewhere. Students gain skill sets in a specific technical area and receive a credential within a matter of days.
  • Some precise skills can be earned in the form of micro-certifications, which are essentially badges that signify you possess a certain skill. Passing these industry exams also helps showcase a specialized area of technical study.
  • Volunteer your services
  • One great way to do this is by volunteering to help small businesses create a new program, web site or mobile app for free. Charities are another great place to offer your services. It is a great way of showing a potential employer that you have acquired hands-on experience. As compensation for your work, ask the business or charity for a statement of recommendation you can highlight in your job search.
  • Become an intern
  • Paid, unpaid, summer, during the school year, for-credit or not, it doesn’t matter. And for students who think the internship market is competitive, just wait until you are competing for a full-time position. Checking out local job boards. But don’t be afraid to reach out to local companies without visible internship job postings.
  • Network, network, network!
  • IT is a surprisingly collaborative field, so candidates who can represent their ability to connect with other professionals. Go to professional networking events for the areas you want to get into. Forming professional relationships is also a great way to keep track on what is happening in the IT industry. If you are unsure of where to start, do some research on IT events in your area. Follow industry leaders and organizations on social media and maybe even reach out to some directly. Many professionals are happy to share their wisdom and career advice with the next generation of tech pros. Landers says he wishes more students would reach out.
  • Get educated
  • You likely know by now that a technology degree is not essential to getting your start in the tech world, but it can be a big differentiator on a resume. When faced with a decision between two candidates for one position, possessing a degree could very well be the deciding factor.
  • Most technology degree programs place a strong emphasis on hands-on training, which will allow you to acquire practical experience within the safe confines of a classroom. Many courses are also facilitated by professionals currently working in the field. Being able to develop your skills under expert supervision is just one of the many benefits to earning your degree.

Profiles in IT: Kenneth Lane Thompson

  • Kenneth Lane “Ken” Thompson is best known for designing and implementing the original UNIX operating system. He also invented the B and Go programming languages.
  • Thompson was born February 4, 1943 in New Orleans.
  • He was always fascinated with logic and in grade school he would work on arithmetic problems in binary because he loved the mathematical logic
  • Thompson received a BS in 1965 and an MS in 1966, both in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Thompson was hired by Bell Labs in 1966. Thompson and Dennis Ritchie worked on the Multics operating system. While writing Multics, he created the Bon programming language.
  • He also created a video game called Space Travel. When Bell Labs withdrew from MULTICS, Thompson found an old PDP-7 machine and rewrote Space Travel on it.
  • The tools developed by Thompson for Space Travel became the UNIX operating system:
  • He did the first of two or three versions of UNIX. Dennis Richie became an evangelist.
  • Working on a PDP-7, a team of Bell Labs researchers led by Thompson and Ritchie developed a hierarchical file system, the concepts of computer processes and device files, a command-line interpreter, and some small utility programs.
  • Thompson decided that Unix needed a system programming language and created B. A rewrite of this higher-level language by Richie that would come to be called C.
  • For the first time in 1970, the UNIX operating system was officially named and ran on the PDP-11/20. This port was funded by Bell as a word processor.
  • In 1970, Brian Kernighan suggested the name UNIX, as a pun on the name Multics.
  • AT&T made UNIX available to universities, commercial firms, and the US government under licenses.  UNIX became ubiquitous academically.
  • In 1975, Thompson helped to install Version 6 Unix on a PDP-11/70. UNIX at Berkeley, maintained as its own system, was known as the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD).
  • With Joseph Condon, Thompson created the hardware and software for Belle, a world champion chess computer. It included end-game lookup tables for 4, 5, 6 men.
  • Throughout the 1980s, Thompson and Ritchie continued revising Research Unix, which adopted a BSD codebase for the 8th, 9th, and 10th editions.
  • Thompson was instrumental in the design and implementation of the Plan 9 from Bell Labs, a new operating system utilizing principles of UNIX.
  • In 1992, Thompson developed the UTF-8 encoding scheme together with Rob Pike. The UTF-8 encoding has since become the dominant character encoding for the web.
  • In late 2000, Thompson retired from Bell Labs. He worked at Entrisphere, Inc as a fellow until 2006 and now works at Google as a Distinguished Engineer.
  • Recent work included the co-design (with Rob Pike, and Robert Griesemer) of the Go programming language, which they developed because of a mutual hatred of C++.
  • According to a 2009 interview, Thompson now uses a Linux-based operating system.
  • In 1983, Thompson and Ritchie jointly received the Turing Award “for their development of generic operating systems theory and specifically for the UNIX operating system.

Amazon is buying Ring, a Shark Tank Reject, for $1B

  • Amazon agreed to buy Ring, a company that makes smart doorbells It could cost Amazon over $1 billion.
  • For Ring’s CEO and founder Jamie Siminoff, achieving such success wasn’t easy.
  • Siminoff went on Shark Tank in 2013, pitching Doorbot, a WiFi-enabled doorbell.
  • All of the investors but Kevin O’Leary passed, and he made what Siminoff considered an unacceptable offer. Doorbot didn’t make a deal.
  • He’d sunk $10,000 into building props for the pitch, and the company’s staff of eight had spent a month preparing for the show, according to his blog. After leaving without an investor, it seemed the efforts all may have been a waste they couldn’t afford.
  • After he appeared on Shark Tank, the business saw immense growth.
  • It has now been four years since ‘Shark Tank,’ and the business is now valued at $1B.
  • In late 2010, Siminoff set up shop in his garage and put all his focus into dreaming up new products. There was just one problem: He couldn’t hear the doorbell ring from his work space. He looked for a product that could buzz his phone with a notification when someone rang and could not find one.
  • He literally built myself a WiFi doorbell. He remembered thinking, “I need this thing so I can be in my garage inventing.” Then his wife remarked how much safer she felt with a device that could tell you who was knocking before you let them inside. When he began to envision a bigger mission, he realized he’d found his idea.
  • Doorbot launched in 2012, and by the time the “Shark Tank” episode aired in 2013, costs had begun to mount for the upstart.
  • After Shark Tank, sales grew to $3 million within the year. As the business grew, we didn’t want to be just one product, so we built a whole line of home security solutions and re-branded it as Ring.”

EU Gives Companies One Hour to Remove Terrorist Content

  • Google, Facebook and other internet companies must remove terrorist and other illegal online content from their websites within an hour or risk facing EU legislation forcing them to do so.
  • Social media sites have become a popular conduit for terrorist groups to share their ideas and recruit people to the cause.
  • The EU and other political institutions have repeatedly pressed internet companies to do more in the fight against terrorism. For their part, the companies have consistently tried to step up by funding research, partnering on a shared database of images and videos that promote terrorism, and putting artificial intelligence to work at identifying content automatically.
  • Internet companies signed an EU-established code of conduct last year, promising to pull down illegal content within 24 hours of it being posted.
  • The one-hour deadline is too short according to the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which represents companies like Google and Facebook.
  • Such a tight time limit does not take due account of all actual constraints linked to content removal and will strongly incentivize hosting services providers to simply take down all reported content.
  • The commission said it would monitor the responses to determine whether additional steps, including legislation, would be necessary.

Beware: Selfies Make Your Nose Look Bigger

  • The short distance from the camera combines with the wide-angle lens make the nose look larger in selfies, according to the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.
  • Distorted self-portraits are leading more people to request nose jobs for better selfies.
  • In 2017, 55 percent of facial plastic surgeons reported seeing patients who want to look better in selfies. That marked an increase of 13 percent from the prior year.
  • The JAMA study breaks down selfie face with help from Stanford University’s Department of Computer Science. To quantify just how much selfies increase nose size, research fellow Ohad Fried came up with a mathematical model.
  • The model revealed that a standard selfie, taken about 12 inches (30 centimeters) from the face makes the nose look about 30 percent wider and the nasal tip appear 7 percent wider than if the photo had been snapped at the more portrait distance of 5 feet.
  • Therein lies the problem.

People Are Holding on their Old Phones

  • A common comment among phone owners is to point to their handset and state: “I’ll probably wait till it breaks.”
  • Phone replacement has slumped since 2013, when consumers bought a new one every 20 months.
  • These days, especially with the iPhone, there is not a lot of difference between the phones coming out.
  • Price was also a “big thing” when considering upgrades, with the next iPhone expected to cost over $1,000.
  • The US, China, Japan and the UK – four of the world’s largest markets – have all seen slowdowns or flat growth in the past year.

How to Extend the Life of your Smartphone

  • There are two main areas to concentrate on when keeping your phone fast and performing as if it’s still new: data storage and battery capacity.
  • When your data storage is close to full, your phone will slow down, while an older battery will lose its charge faster and annoy you with the amount of recharges you’ll be doing.
  • It’s those two issues that usually drive a person to buy a new phone, but Wien says keeping those two things in check is simple.
  • To free up space on your phone so that it stays fast, store large files like photos and videos on either a removable memory card for Android phones or back up older files on an external hard drive and remove them from your phone.
  • There is another trick for clearing up excess cached files on Apple products. Try renting a movie or TV show that is larger than the space available on your phone or iPad. When the device realizes there isn’t enough room, it will reject the download and automatically clear cached data in the apps and free up space.
  • Paring down your apps to just those you use frequently will also keep data storage down and speeds up.
  • For the battery issue, you will have to replace it when it starts to lose the ability to keep a charge. Every battery has a maximum amount of charge/deplete cycles it can go through before its drain time accelerates.
  • Apple says the iPhone battery loses about 20 percent of its original capacity after 500 charge cycles, but a good rule of thumb is to replace a smartphone battery every two years, four or five years for a tablet.
  • A new battery costs between $20 and $40 and you can find repair guides for how to do the replacing yourself over at iFixit.com. Many Android phones have a removable back cover where the battery can easily be swapped out.
  • Apple battery replacement is around $79, but this year you can get a replacement for $29 because of slowgate.
  • Using these tips, your smartphone should serve you well for years longer than you thought.