Show of 05-05-2018

Tech Talk
May 5, 2018

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments replayed from previous shows

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Azra in Fredericksburg: Dear Tech Talk. I changed the password to my MacBook Air a few weeks ago. I also changed the password to my email accounts on Mail. Now whenever I reboot my MacBook, I had to log into KeyChain, over and over again. I finally figured out the KeyChain password and now I only have to log in once (after reboot). How can I get rid of this KeyChain login? It is very annoying. Love the show. Azra in Fredericksburg.
  • Tech Talk Responds: After you or your Mac administrator resets the password of your macOS user account, your Mac might ask you to update your keychain password or enter the password of your login keychain. It might also tell you that the system was unable to unlock your login keychain. That is because your login keychain is still using your old password.
  • If you know your old password (which you do), use that password to update your existing login keychain:
    • Open the Keychain Access app, which is in the the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
    • From the list of keychains on the left side of the window, select “login.”
    • From the Edit menu in the menu bar, choose “Change Password for Keychain ‘login.’”
    • Enter the old password of your user account in the Current Password field. This is the password you were using before the password was reset.
    • Enter the new password of your user account in the New Password field. This is the password you’re now using to log in to your Mac. Enter the same password in the Verify field.
    • Click OK when done, then quit Keychain Access.
  • If you don’t know your old password, you can try to log into your keychain with your Apple ID and password. If that fails, you can create a new login keychain using your admin account password. All stored password will be lost and you will have to save them to the new keychain account.
  • Email from Jim in Bowie: Dear Tech Talk. I have enjoyed your cut the cord series. Based on your recommendation, I recently purchased a Tablo and put the antenna in the attic. I then got the Roku Streaming stick. Everything works perfectly. I am just about ready the cancel my cable TV. I would like to watch the Tablo stations when I am on travel and am having trouble configuring my firewall to allow Table Connect to function. I have a Verizon Fios router. What must I do to allow this. Enjoy the show in Bowie.
  • Tech Talk Responds: In order for Tablo Connect to work you must forward two ports to your Table device. Each of those forwarded ports will be mapped to a second port. In addition, you will need to make the IP address assigned to Table permanent so that the port forwarding rules will always work.
  • To make the IP addressed assigned to Tablo permanent, click on the Advanced Tab. Under Routing, click on IP Address Distribution. Click on Connection list to see all devices connected to the router. On the IP address assigned to Tablo, click on the edit symbol (pencil on the right side of the screen). Clock the box that says Static Lease Type. You might also change the name of the device to Tablo so you can find easily. BTW, the IP address assigned to Tablo should be indicated by your Tablo app, when you turn on Tablo Connect.
  • Next you must port forward the ports. Click on Firewall. Then click on Port Forward from the menu on the left. Select the Tablo IP address from the drop down menu on the left. Select Custom Port from the drop menu on the Right. Click on the Advanced Tab to allow for port mapping.
  • Create the first rule: TCP 21081forwarded to destination port 8887. Click apply.
  • Create the second rule: TCP 21080 forwarded to destination port 80. Click apply.
  • After router reboot, you should be good to go. Go the Tablo app. Turn off Table Connect and then turn it back on. It should show a successful connection to the central server.
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz, My wife and I use Facebook to keep up with friends & family, especially photos. We do not “like” or respond to anything we see on Facebook. We email, iMsg, text or call for any responses. Facebook has updates routinely, and they are large MB size. The last one is 295.5MB. After a while the memory required starts to add up. Or does it? Do Facebook updates both add and delete some things to make the net MB update not as large as they would appear? As another aspect of these updates, I understand from speaking with an Apple Store person, that if left alone, updates will be added even if we choose not to add them. Humm? How does that work? Thanks for having Tech Talk on air. Really like and get lots of good info from your program. Arnie, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: The updates files typically replace files on your iPhone. They just do not keep accumulating. You can check how much memory is used by all the apps on your iPhone by going to Settings/General/iPhone Storage. After some delay, you will see a list of applications and the memory that they use. You will also have the option of offloading unused apps and optimizing photos (only storing thumbnails on your phone with the full photo on the cloud). n my case, Mail is the largest application (4.13 GB) with photos coming in second at 2.88GB. Facebook was sixth on the list with 414 MB.
  • Email from Keith in Baltimore: Dear Doc and Jim. How can I check where my PC or Phone is protected against Meltdown and Spectre? With malware in the wild, I am worried. Love the show. Keith in Baltimore.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Even if you have installed patches from Windows Update, your PC may not completely protected from the Meltdown and Spectre CPU flaws. To fully protect against Meltdown and Spectre, you’ll need to install a UEFI or BIOS update from your PC’s manufacturer as well as the various software patches. These UEFI updates contain new Intel or AMD processor microcode that adds additional protection against these attacks.
  • Unfortunately, they are not distributed via Windows Update unless you’re using a Microsoft Surface device. They must be downloaded from your manufacturer’s website and installed manually.
  • On January 22, Intel announced that users should stop deploying the current UEFI firmware updates due to “higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior”. Intel now says you should wait for a final UEFI firmware patch that’s been properly tested and won’t cause system problems.
  • If you did install a UEFI firmware update from your manufacturer, you can download a patch from Microsoft to make your PC stable again. Available as KB4078130, this patch disables the protection against Spectre Variant 2 in Windows, which prevents the buggy UEFI update from causing system problems. You only need to install this patch if you’ve installed a buggy UEFI update from your manufacturer, and it isn’t being automatically offered via Windows Update. Microsoft will re-enable this protection in the future when Intel releases stable microcode updates.
  • To check whether you are fully protected, download the Gibson Research Corporation’s InSpectre tool and run it. It’s an easy-to-use graphical tool that will show you this information without the hassle of running PowerShell commands and decoding the technical output.
  • Once you’ve run this tool, you’ll see a few important details:
    • Vulnerable to Meltdown: If this says “YES!”, you’ll need to install the patch from Windows Update to protect your computer from Meltdown and Spectre attacks.
    • Vulnerable to Spectre: If this says “YES!”, you’ll need to install the UEFI firmware or BIOS update from your PC’s manufacturer to protect your computer from certain Spectre attacks.
    • Performance: If this says anything other than “GOOD”, you have an older PC that does not have the hardware that makes the patches perform well. You’ll likely see a noticeable slowdown, according to Microsoft. If you’re using Windows 7 or 8, you can speed things up some by upgrading to Windows 10, but you’ll need new hardware for maximum performance.
  • For instance, in my case, I am protected against Meltdown because I have installed the Microsoft Update. I am not protected against Spectre because I am waiting for a stable patch in the microcode to be released by Intel.
  • Email from Hac in Bowie: Dear Doc and Jim. I use Facebook uploads to keep all of my pictures. Unfortunately, Facebook only uploads low-resolution images. Is there any way always to upload, photos in high resolution. That would allow my family to copy and download the pictures for printing. Thanks for a great show. Hac in Bowie
  • Tech Talk Responds: By default, when you upload a photo to Facebook from your phone, it’s uploaded as a low resolution file. The good news is that you can change that default. Here is how to change the upload resolution.
    • On an iPhone, Open the Facebook app, go to the Options screen and select Settings. Head to Account Settings > Videos and Photos. Turn on both Upload HD switches on.
    • On an Android Phone, Open the Facebook app, go to the Options screen, and under Help and Settings, select App Settings. Toggle the switches for Upload Photos in HD and Upload Videos in HD to On.
  • Happy Facebooking. However, I would not recommend that you use Facebook to store all of your photos. You may lose them if your account is ever high jacked, or if Facebook changes their storage options. You should upload your photos to the cloud (iCloud, Google Drive, or One Drive). You can also use an external hard drive to backup your photos. I actually use both the cloud and an external hard drive.
  • Email from Irene in Arlington, Texas: Dear Doc and Jim. I heard that you can get free software from the IRS to file you taxes. Is that true? How can I get it? Enjoy the podcast. Irene in Arlington, Texas.
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you earned less than $66,000, there is actually an official, truly free method: IRS Free File. This is a partnership between the IRS and several different tax preparation companies, and it offers you free software for working out and filing your taxes online. Companies like TurboTax and H&R Block are here, offering free versions of their software that won’t try to upsell you.
  • To get started, go to the official list of Free File Software Offers on the IRS website (https://apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile/jsp/index.jsp).
  • You will see 12 different options, all with different qualifying requirements. All of these programs are free for anyone who qualifies.
  • Which of these options you use is going to depend on your financial situation as well as where you live, because each has different requirements. The most universal offering is H&R Block, which offers federal and state taxes for free to anyone between 17 and 50 earning $66,000 or less. Start there if that describes you, otherwise check out the other options.
  • Email from John in Chesapeake, VA: Dear Tech Talk. My Internet is very slow. It used to be much faster. What should I do to restore the speed? Love the show. John in Chesapeake, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Before troubleshooting, it’s worth running a speed test using a website like Speedtest.net to see how well it’s actually performing. Be sure to stop any downloads, uploads, Netflix streaming, or other heavy internet activity before running the test to ensure as little interference with the results as possible.
  • Compare the measured speed results against the expected speed of the Internet connection you are paying for. Remember the bandwidth is not guaranteed and your speeds may slow during peak times.
  • Reboot Your Modem and Router— Like computers, modems and routers sometimes get stuck in a bad, slow, overloaded state. This problem can be fixed with a reboot. If you haven’t rebooted your router and modem in a while, you should do it now.
  • Improve Your Wi-Fi Signal — It’s possible your internet is fine, but your Wi-Fi—which connects you to the internet—is having signal problems. There are quite a few reasons you may have a bad Wi-Fi signal. The airwaves could be congested with too many devices nearby, especially if you’re using 2.4 GHz and not 5 GHz, which can support a lot more devices. This is a particularly common problem in denser urban areas. For example, if you live in an apartment complex with neighbors who have a bunch of wireless routers and other devices.
  • If you have a larger home or yard and need better Wi-FI coverage, consider getting a mesh Wi-Fi system that provides multiple base stations you can place around your home or property.
  • Stop Saturating Your Connection (or Try QoS) —Your Internet connection is shared by all the devices in your home, so other devices on your network could be saturating your Internet connection, slowing things down for everyone else. If your router has a Quality of Service (QoS) feature, which will allow your router to automatically manage and assign how much bandwidth different devices and services receive. For example, it can automatically throttle BitTorrent bandwidth to avoid slowing down Netflix streams.
  • Check for Coax Splitters —If you have cable Internet and you have coaxial cable splitters on the line going to your cable modem, these could be degrading your signal strength and leading to slower Internet connection. Splitters vary in quality, and a bad, cheap one could lower your signal strength much more than a higher quality one would. See how your Internet connection performs without any splitters on the line. If you have a much faster Internet connection speed, you have found your problem.
  • Call Your ISP and Report the Problem —There may be a problem with the cable line running from your house to your ISP, or with some other equipment they have. In this case, you should call your Internet service provider and report the problem.
  • Email from Alice in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I am thinking about doing my banking online. However, I am not really sure that I can trust it. What is your opinion about online banking? Alice in Fairfax, Virginia
  • Tech Talk Responds: I regularly bank online. I have done so for years without incident. However, I follow some basic rules.
  • Use a strong password –Much of the account theft I see is due to poor passwords. You must have a strong password on your banking accounts. It’s your best, first line of defense.
  • Don’t share passwords –Giving your password to someone you “trust” is another way banking accounts often get compromised.
  • Use two-factor when available –Two-factor (also “multi-factor”) authentication prevents unauthorized entry into your accounts even when the password is known. Using SMS, a dedicated app, or some other approach is the best way to truly lock down your most important accounts.
  • Open only email attachments you trust –If you’re the least bit uncertain, don’t open ’em. Email attachments are, by far, the most common way malware lands on machines these days.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing –In order to fool you, hackers constantly send email that looks like it came from your bank. Don’t click on links in email messages from your bank. Instead, visit your bank as you would without the email: type the address of your bank’s website into the browser address bar (or use a bookmark you saved previously).
  • Secure your network –Make sure to secure your router. Understand what it means to use an open Wi-Fi hotspot or other shared network connection safely. Yes, you can bank online safely when traveling (again, it’s something I do), but it does require that you pay attention to network security.

Avoid shared or public computers, period – While library computers or the machine you can borrow while visiting your friend might be convenient, you have no idea what’s on them. They could be full of malware or include undetectable malicious hardware. Avoid them for anything sensitive.  

Profiles in IT: Michael Stonebraker

  • Michael Stonebraker is widely regarded as the “father of big data.”
  • Michael Stonebraker was born October 11, 1943 in Milton, New Hampshire
  • He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Princeton University in 1965.
  • He received an MS in 1967 and a PhD from the University of Michigan in 1971.
  • Stonebraker joined UC Berkeley as an assistant professor in 1971. It was there that he did his pioneering work on relational databases, based on the work of Edward Codd.
  • In 1980 Stonebraker founded Ingres (Interactive Graphics and Retrieval System) to implement Codd’s relational database ideas commercially.
  • Ingres Corp. was purchased by Computer Associates in 1994.
  • He was an early rival of Larry Ellison, who founded Oracle, a competing database system that ran on DEC minicomputers instead of UNIX.
  • Stonebraker went on to develop Postgres, which introduced the object-relational model, effective merging databases with abstract data types while keeping the database separate from the programming language. NASA was an early customer.
  • In 1992, he implemented Postgres commercially as Montage, which was renamed Illustra. It was bought by Informix, and re-renamed Informix Universal Server.
  • He released these systems as open software which allowed their widespread adoption.
  • This system was shamelessly copied by Oracle and Ellison won again.
  • In 2001, he became adjunct professor at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL), where he is also co-founder and co-director of the Intel Science and Technology Center for Big Data.
  • In the Aurora Project, Stonebraker focused on data management for streaming data, using a new data model and query language.
  • In 2003, Stonebraker co-founded StreamBase Systems to commercialize the it.
  • In 2005, Stonebraker developed a column oriented database. By dividing and storing data in columns, C-Store is able to perform less I/O and get better compression ratios.
  • In 2005, Stonebraker co-founded Vertica to commercialize the technology.
  • In 2006, Stonebraker started the Morpheus, a data integration system which relies on a collection of “transforms” to mediate between data sources.
  • In 2009, Stonebraker co-founded Goby, a local search company based on ideas from Morpheus, for people to explore new things to do in free time.
  • In 2007, Stonebraker started H-Store to provide very high throughput on transaction processing workloads. In 2009, he co-founded VoltDB to commercialize H-Store.
  • In 2008, Stonebraker started SciDB for scientific research applications.
  • In 2013, Stonebraker et al founded Tamr to tackle the challenge of connecting and enriching diverse data at scale, quickly and cost effectively.
  • In March, 2015, he will be awarded the 2014 Turing Award for fundamental contributions to the concepts and practices underlying modern database systems.

Google Now Blocks Annoying Ads In Chrome

  • To combat annoying ads, and leave its own alone, Google is adding an ad blocker to Chrome today.
  • If you are using Chrome, you can update your browser today to get the new ad blocker. The new version with ad blocking is Chrome 64. I had to request a download to get the latest browser.
  • This new feature will block a number of the most extreme annoying ad types, including autoplaying videos with sound and pop up ads.
  • It also blocks large sticky ads (those banners that appear over the text you’re reading and won’t go away), and what are known as “prestitial ads” that have a countdown. These are the huge overlays that block a site entirely and tell you to wait a few seconds before continuing to the site you’re about to read.
  • There are also a bunch of mobile ads that Google will start blocking according to the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group that counts Google, Facebook, and Microsoft among its members.
  • Importantly, this feature does not mean that you’ll never see any ads at all. Google’s goal with this ad blocker is to get rid of the most annoying offenders, but it’s also hoping that if the bad ads are gone, you won’t mind the more mild ads quite so much.
  • Google reports that as of February 15, 2018, 43% of all sites have modified their ads to conform to the new standard.
  • This seems like a fair trade. But Google has an biased position in this effort.

How to Disable Chrome’s New Ad Blocker

  • Go to Chrome’s Settings menu. Click the three dots in the upper right, then choose Settings.
  • Once in the Settings menu, scroll all the way down to the bottom and click on Advanced.
  • Scroll down a bit more, to the Privacy and Security section. Find the Content Settings option and click it.
  • Scroll down to Ads and click it.
  • Interestingly, this is on by default, but the toggle makes it look like it’s off. Instead of disabling the feature by turning it off, you actually toggle to it “allow ads.” It’s sort of counter intuitive if you ask me.
  • If you’re not keen on allowing all ads to come through for every site but don’t mind it for specific sites, you can do that too.
  • Navigate to the site you want to show all ads on, then click the area just to the left of the URL—it’ll either show an “i” bubble or the word “Secure.”
  • In this new dropdown, click on Site Settings.
  • Find the “Ads” entry, then choose Allow in the menu.

How to Block Cryptocurrency Mining Malware

  • Mining cryptocurrencies is a great way to earn small amounts of residual .
  • This is becoming an alternative revenue source some websites (and people with more nefarious intentions) are banking on.
  • com, for example, is giving readers the option to opt out of advertisements in exchange for letting the site use their CPUs to mine Monero, a cryptocurrency that is easier to mine than Bitcoin and has a current market cap of $4.6 billion.
  • Other sites mine using your computer without permission. This is malware.
  • Anti-malware software firm Malwarebytes and IT security company ESET both warned of of JavaScript files that use the CPU of visitors to mine cryptocurrencies without their knowledge (or explicit permission).
  • This can come in the form of malicious software that is installed on a user’s computer, an undetected JavaScript file that mines in the background or a pop-under window that can continue to mine coins even after the browser is closed.
  • Assuming your computer doesn’t have a malicious coin mining program installed, there are a number of ways to block coin mining while you browse.
    • Disable JavaScript on specific sites
    • If you suspect a website is using your computer to mine cryptocurrencies without your permission, you can simply block JavaScript altogether.
    • The problem, however, is that this is a very aggressive way to block mining and will break many websites. Facebook, for instance, will not load without JavaScript enabled.
  • There are a few of browser extensions available to block mining
    • No Coin (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)
    • minerBlock (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)
    • Anti Miner (Chrome)
    • Coin-Hive Blocker (Chrome)
  • These extensions work by blacklisting known domains and mining scripts. They’re regularly updated and are among the best hands-off approaches to block mining.
  • If you want to support a website by allowing it to mine, you can whitelist it.

Terrifying High-Tech Porn: Deepfake Videos

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning help us in countless ways.
  • But not all uses are benign. The latest exploits are called deepfakes.
  • The term is a combination of “deep learning” and “fake” — deepfakes rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • Programmers use existing video and images of celebrities, public figures, or anyone they know to superimpose the source images into a pornographic movie.
  • The movies look ultra-realistic. A Hollywood star could ‘appear’ in an adult film and you might not realize it was all created by a bot.
  • It is also being used for revenge porn, a programmer can insert an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend into a pornographic movie and share it on social media.
  • Deepfakes are not difficult to program and the source code is freely available.
  • Recently, sites like Reddit and Twitter have banned them.
  • The technology behind deepfakes, however, could also be used for legitimate purposes too.
  • Nachlas said deepfake technology could help Hollywood movie-makers recreate classic scenes in movies, to create new movies that license the image of long-dead stars, and even as a way to improve an amateur video.
  • The technology could also be used to help people deal with the loss of loved ones.