Show of 03-24-2018

Tech Talk

March 24, 2018

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Alex in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I started using Chrome browser after you discussed its new ad blocking features. Unfortunately, the browser will not play any sound, even for YouTube videos. How can I fix this problem? Alex in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: Open the Chrome browser, and open settings by clicking on the three vertical dots in the upper right corner. Scroll to the bottom and click Advanced. Scroll again to the bottom section called Clean Up and Restore. Click Reset and then click Clean Up Computer. That should fix any problem.
  • BTW, I have switched from IE to Chrome. The new ad blocker has made surfing the web so pleasant. No delays in opening obtrusive ad. No blaring sounds. I may be sacrificing some privacy, but it seems to be worth it.
  • Email from Jim in Bowie, MD: Dear Doc and Jim. I have an iPhone 7S and inadvertently deleted all my notes and then saved them. These notes go back all the way to 2001 and I need them back. What are my options? Enjoy the show live here in Bowie, Jim.
  • Tech Talk Responds: When restoring your iPhone from your iPhone’s backup, it is all or none. There is no option to select a portion of the backup only. When restoring, your iPhone is completely erased followed by the firmware being re-installed. After the firmware is re-installed, the options are restoring from your iPhone’s backup (which is the default selection) and is all or none, or as a new iPhone or not from your iPhone’s backup. Either way must be followed by a sync to re-transfer selected iTunes content and any photos on your computer selected to be transferred to your iPhone.
  • The best way to restore only one file, is to use third party software. There are couple of options: PhoneRescue for iOS ($49) and the other is AnyTrans for iOS ($39). You will be restoring a file by the name of notes.sqlite or NoteStore.sqlite. Good luck with the restore. Either software package will restore from either an iTunes or iCloud backup.
  • Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Dear Dr. Shurtz (Hey Jim). Thanks so much for the past help on my computer related inquires. Your analysis and answers have been a wonderful help in solving many of my confusions and problem solving dilemmas. My new question: Can you send text messages from a computer to a cell phone? And if so, can the computer receive a reply from that person’s cell phone as well? Where on the internet can an up-to-date Mail/Web-to-SMS Gateway listing be found for each cell carrier company? You have the best broadcasting computer show out there! Thanks, Doug in Baton Rouge, LA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Text messages can be sent from a personal computer to mobile devices via an SMS gateway or Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) gateway, using most popular email client programs, such as Outlook, Thunderbird, and so on. The messages must be sent in ASCII “text-only” mode. If they are sent in HTML mode, or using non-ASCII characters, they will most likely appear as nonsense on the recipient’s mobile telephone. The MMS gateway must be used if you want to send multi-media content (like a picture or a sound file).
  • Before the message can be sent, one must determine the domain of the mobile carrier’s SMS or MMS gateway. The normal format for the address is phone number@SMSGateway. A good up-to-date list of the gateways for US carriers can be found on Wikipedia (SMS gateway). You can just search for it on Google. A list of these gateways is below.
    • Mobile carrier, SMS gateway domain, MMS gateway domain
    • Alltel, alltelwireless.com, mms.alltelwireless.com
    • AT&T, att.net, mms.att.net
    • Boost Mobile, myboostmobile.com, myboostmobile.com
    • Cricket Wireless, mycricket.com, mms.cricketwireless.net
    • MetroPCS, com, mymetropcs.com
    • Project Fi, fi.google.com, msg.fi.google.com
    • Republic Wireless, republicwireless.com, Not available
    • Straight Talk, com, mypixmessages.com
    • Sprint, sprintpcs.com, pm.sprint.com
    • T-Mobile, net, tmomail.net
    • S. Cellular, email.uscc.net, mms.uscc.net
    • Verizon Wireless, com, vzwpix.com
    • Virgin Mobile, com, vmpix.com
  • For example, the email address for the number: (703) 111-2222, send to the AT &T MMS gateway would be: 7031112222@mms.att.net.
  • When you send an email to a gateway, their response will be delivered to your inbox. Don’t bother with a subject line because text messages don’t have subject lines, only message content. If you use the SMS gateway, keep the message to less than 140 characters and be mindful of large disclaimer paragraphs at the end of your email.
  • Dear Doc and Jim. I have been hearing about how Facebook is selling my data and my privacy cannot be assured. How can I best protect myself from Facebook abuses or do I just need to leave Facebook altogether? Love the show. Donna in Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: You should be concerned. Facebook is monetizing you data at the expense of your privacy. You can help protect yourself by following a few guidelines.
  • Beware of those fun “quizzes” and apps.
    • One of the way researchers were able to gather information on Facebook users was through “personality quizzes.” Some of those quizzes allowed Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre to gather private information from Facebook profiles, including from friends and activities. Remember: Nothing is free. If you’re inputting data about yourself, especially in a random third-party app, you’re giving it away.
  • Change your privacy settings.
    • You can manage privacy settings by tapping the drop-down arrow on the top-right of Facebook, choosing “Settings” and then selecting “Privacy.” Here, you can control who sees your posts, your phone number, your friend requests and more. Consider changing these settings so that only you can see this data. Remember: If a friend takes a quiz like the one mentioned above, they could be giving up their friends list, which includes you.
  • Beware who your friends are
    • If your friends aren’t using strict privacy settings, then photos and other posts you’re tagged in could still be shared or viewed by others. Facebook explicitly says this: “Remember, your friends control who can see their friendships on their own Timelines. Consider asking your friends to increase their security settings, too, and only befriending people you know and trust.
  • Consider avoiding third-party apps altogether.
    • You might be tempted to install games and other apps that are available through Facebook, but doing so allows those apps to tap into your personal data, including your name, profile picture, gender, networks, username, friends list and other public information. You can manage what an app has access to by going to Settings and selecting “Apps” on the left side of the screen.
  • Turn on extra security settings
    • You increase Facebook security even more by getting alerts when Facebook sees a login from a device or browser you do not typically use. You should also turn on two-factor authentication so that a code sent to your phone is required each time you log in. To access these extra settings, go to Facebook’s Settings page, select “Security and Login” from the left side and scroll down to the “Setting Up Extra Security” section.
  • Consider leaving Facebook
    • The best way to protect your private data is to leave Facebook altogether. Facebook allows to deactivate your account, but they still keep the old data. Data on the web is immortal, so beware what you post.

Profiles in IT: Rakesh Agrawal

  • Rakesh Agrawal is best known as Father of Data Mining, having developed fundamental data mining and data privacy concepts.
  • Rakesh was born in India in 1952.
  • In 1975, He received a BS in Electrical and Communications Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India.
  • After receiving his Bachelor’s degree, he was hired as a software engineer by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited in Hardwar, India.
  • In 1978, he received a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Engineering from the National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai, India.
  • In 1983, he received an MS and PhD in Computer Sciences from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
  • In 1983, he was hired as a Member of the Technical Staff by Bell Laboratories, in Murray Hill, NJ.
  • In 1990, he was hired as a Research Fellow by the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California.
  • It is rare that a researcher’s work creates not only a product, but a new industry.
  • IBM’s data mining product, Intelligent Miner, grew out of Rakesh’s research.
  • IBM’s introduction of Intelligent Miner and associated services created a new category of software and services.
  • His research has been incorporated into many other commercial products, including DB2 Mining Extender, DB2 OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) Server, WebSphere Commerce Server.
  • In 2006, he was hired as Microsoft Research Fellow by Microsoft Research in Mountain View, CA, where he led the Search Labs, working on Bing search engine.
  • In 2014, he founded Data Insights Laboratories in the San Francisco Bay area, a startup devoted to software and services that employ deep insights mined from data.
  • Rakesh is an innovator and thought leader who is driven by the desire to make the world better through scientific breakthroughs and practical working systems.
  • One of his accomplishments has been the development of “Hippocratic databases” that are designed to share information in a way that honors privacy. The concept sprang from a conversation with his brother, an orthopedic surgeon.
  • More recently, he has been active in education, working on ways that the ubiquity of mobile devices can benefit students, particularly in emerging countries like India.
  • Dubbed the “father of data mining,” Agrawal has won major awards recognizing his pioneering contributions in database systems.
  • Rakesh is the recipient of the ACM-SIGKDD First Innovation Award, ACM-SIGMOD Edgar F. Codd Innovations Award, among others.
  • Scientific American named him to the list of 50 top scientists in 2003.

Idea of the Week: Li-Fi, and alternative to Wi-Fi

  • Philips Lighting is providing internet to an office in France with nothing but its lights.
  • Philips is working with a technology called Li-Fi, an alternative to the Wi-Fi signals.
  • Li-Fi stands for Light-Fidelity. The term was first coined in 2011 in a TED Talk by the University of Edinburgh professor Harald Haas, who had been developing it around that time. It’s been under further development by various researchers in the years since.
  • Li-Fi is basically just high-speed wireless data transmission . . . through light. That light can come from something as simple as a desktop lamp.
  • The light sends data through really fast flickering that the human eye can’t detect.
  • A special dongle will make today’s laptops capable of detecting Li-Fi.
  • Later each computer or smartphone could be equipped with two new Li-Fi- components. One is a tiny light sensor. The second is an infrared transmitter.
  • Li-Fi has 2,600 times the capacity of the radio spectrum. That means we could meet our 20-year data demands using just 0.8% of the entire visible and invisible light spectrum.
  • Li-Fi works better in buildings with thick walls that tend to block radio signals.
  • It is much more secure than Wi-Fi. Offices could build secure rooms simply by blocking out windows and light leakage.
  • At the city scale, street lamps–and really, any LED–could take on the role of providing data to pedestrians or vehicles.

Mark Zuckerberg Talks About Cambridge Analytica Data Use

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has finally responded to controversy Cambridge Analytica, , which has been accused of harvesting 50 million Facebook profiles without user consent.
    • Facebook will audit every app and service that has access to Facebook’s data.
    • Facebook will show every user a new tool, placed at the top of their News Feed, that shows what apps they’ve granted access to.
    • Facebook will limit developers’ data access. For example, it will remove developers’ access to your data if you have not used their app in three months.
  • The policy changes come in the wake of reports about Cambridge Analytica, a data firm tied to the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, having access to 50 million Facebook users’ personal data.
  • Reports in The New York Times and The Guardian, informed by whistleblower Christopher Wylie, revealed that the data was obtained without users’ knowledge and was then used to create psychographic profiles.

Facebook Caught Off-guard by Russia

  • Facebook was caught off guard when Russian trolls abused its platform during the 2016 US presidential election.
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO, said Facebook is doing all it can to prevent that kind of thing from happening in the future.
  • “Things happened in the last election that were unacceptable — that we were not prepared for,” according to Sandberg.
  • The “unacceptable” things she’s talking about were Russia’s attempts to meddle in the election by spreading false and divisive content on Facebook, through a combination of paid ads and organic posts.
  • They also took to Twitter and to Google to try to interfere and sow discord among Americans.
  • Last November, Congress questioned Facebook, Google and Twitter during a public hearing on Capitol Hill.

Use of Data by Obama Campaign

  • The Washington Post reports that in 2007 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg invited developers to build businesses using Facebook data, effectively letting them tap in to users’ lists of friends, ‘likes’ and interests.
  • At the company’s 2010 developer conference, Zuckerberg took it a step further, saying the company was loosening up the grip on storing user data, allowing developers to store data indefinitely.
  • While the social network tightened its policy in 2015, the current scandal has shone a light on how Facebook data has historically been used.
  • On Twitter, Carol Davidsen, the former director of integration and media analytics at Obama for America, explained how the 2012 campaign harnessed Facebook’s Application Programming Interface (API) to access the company’s “social graph” that maps users’ connections.
  • This enabled the campaign to access information on users’ friends when they used the Facebook log-in button to access the campaign’s website.
  • According to Davidson, “They came to office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”
  • The data expert, who worked on the campaign from November 2011 to November 2012, added that she felt uncomfortable about the project.
  • Facebook has denied that there was any favoritism toward the Obama campaign.
  • Both the Obama and Romney campaigns had access to the same tools, and no campaign received any special treatment from Facebook.

Google Bias in Search Results

  • Although internet search engines play an increasingly prominent role in shaping voter opinions.
  • Unfortunately, according to a Can I Rank study, Google ranking algorithms aren’t designed to provide a completely honest representation of controversial issues.
  • In order to assess how fairly search engine results portray political candidates and controversial issues, they collected over 1,200 URLs ranking highly in Google.com for politically-charged keywords such as “gun control”, “abortion”, “TPP”, and “Black Lives Matter”.
  • Each URL was then assessed for political slant by politically active individuals from both the left and right.
  • Finally, the CanIRank’s SEO software to analyze how each URL compared in dozens of different ranking factors to determine whether Google’s algorithm treated websites similarly regardless of their political slant.
  • Among our key findings were that top search results were almost 40% more likely to contain pages with a “Left” or “Far Left” slant than they were pages from the right.
  • Moreover, 16% of political keywords contained no right-leaning pages at all within the first page of results.
  • Similar bias has been found in Facebook feed algorithms and in YouTube video indexing.
  • In their 2015 study, Robert Epstein and Ronald Robertson concluded that the order of search results can have a big impact on voter behavior. In the event of a close election, this effect could even determine the outcome of the election.
  • Though Google would like to portray itself as a fair and balanced arbiter of facts, no attempt is made to present multiple viewpoints on controversial political issues.

Here are the Big Data Issue: Privacy, Censoring – Not Net Neutrality

  • Privacy is breached when big data companies sell you data to those trying to influence your opinion or get you to buy a product.
    • Our data should be protected from monetization, without our clear consent.
    • This involves data used by companies to sell up products or data used by polical action committees to sell us candidates.
    • Data access should be transparent and controllable, with severe penalties for breaching that trust.
  • Censoring occurs when results of skewed to reflect a bias. This is true with search results, Facebook newsfeeds, YouTube listings, Twitter account banning, etc.
    • No matter what side of the political spectrum you reside, manipulation of public opinion by a few large corporations is a danger to democracy.
    • We need equal access in Social Media and Search.
  • Silicon Valley (Google, Facebook, Netflix, LinkedIn) have tried to say that Net Neutrality is the real issue.
    • They contend that we need to control unscrupulous ISPs that filter data to favor their own content.
    • Little evidence supports that concern
  • In reality, Silicon Valley and its use of big data needs to be regulated.
    • There is real evidence of breaches of our trust, yet no law war broken.
    • This needs to be fixed and probably the FCC is the right agency.
    • We don’t need to look at neutrality of the pipe created by ISP, we need to look at what is stuffed into that pipe by Silicon Valley.
    • We need content neutrality, not net neutrality.
  • Since 1927, radio and later television broadcast stations have been required to give equal time to opposing political candidates. For many years, the Fairness Doctrine required media to present both sides of controversial issues in an honest and equitable manner, a standard that many journalists still aspire to.
  • Now that web search has largely superseded radio and television as the primary source of information for most Americans, should web search results also be expected to present both sides of an issue?

Facebook Account Deletion

  • If you’re ready to leave Facebook, the process isn’t all that difficult.
  • The first step is to make sure you have a copy of all your Facebook information. Facebook makes it relatively simple to download an archive of your account, which includes your Timeline info, posts you have shared, messages and photos.
  • To go ahead and download, just go to the Settings page once you’re logged in to Facebook and click “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”
  • Before you delete your account, know this: once your account is deleted, it can’t be recovered. If ever you want to rejoin Facebook, you’ll be starting from scratch.
  • The button to delete your Facebook account isn’t available in the settings or menu.
  • Link to delete page: https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account
  • It takes a few days from the time you click the Delete button to the time that your account is actually terminated. If you sign on during that period, the account will no longer be marked for termination and you’ll have to start over. It will take up to 90 days for your account to be fully deleted.
  • Keep in mind, Facebook still likely has access to a good deal of your data long after you’ve deleted your account.