Show of 05-19-2018

Tech Talk

May 19, 2018

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Stu in Kilmarnock, Virginia: Dear Tech Talk. I have to send a fax to a business associate in California. They are firmly grounded in the last century, They only want a fax. They don’t do email with a PDF attachment. I don’t have a fax machine. My printer/scanner will create a PDF file and save it to my computers hard drive. Is that any way to send this PDF as a fax without printing it and actually finding a fax machines somewhere? Love the show. Stu in Kilmarnock.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are in luck. There are a few free services that are ad supported. Here are two of my favorites. I use these to fax things to my lawyer or my real estate agent. They seem to be fax centric.
  • com — Just enter your information as the sender, enter your recipient’s information and Fax number, and then either upload a PDF or DOC file, or paste your email (which can even include formatting) into the rich text box. The only limitations are that your faxes can’t be more than 3 pages, and you can only send 2 free faxes per day. For the casual user, this free service is perfect. You can pay to eliminate the ads and send more or larger faxes.
  • FaxZero — FaxZero is a free service that is essentially an online email, where you can type the sender, recipient, and the text message into the text box – or you can attach a document. It is one of the fastest and easiest ways to send an email to a fax machine. The free version inserts an ad onto the cover page, but you’re allowed 3 pages plus the cover, and you can send up to 5 free faxes a day, which isn’t too bad. For a $1.99 fee, you can send up to 15 pages per document without any ad on the cover sheet.
  • Email from Kim in Arlington: Dear Tech Talk. I am doing some research and need to record my phone calls using my iPhone. This is a short-term project and I don’t want to spend a lot of money on fancy hardware. Is there a simple app on the iPhone for recording incoming and outgoing phone calls? Love the show. Kim in Arlington
  • Tech Talk Responds: While there’s no direct way to do this built in to iOS, there are some easy to use software options. TapeACall is by far the most popular iOS app to offer call recording. The lite version has 4.5/5 stars on over 4,000 reviews, while the pro version has 4.6/5 stars on over 8,000 reviews. This app has a simple to use interface and features like the ability to record both incoming and outgoing calls, easy export options to share via SMS, Dropbox, Evernote and more. TapeACall Lite is free to try for one week, then costs anywhere from $2-$5/month. TapeACall Pro is $10.99 for a year with additional in-app purchases to unlock more features.
  • A cheaper, but yet still viable approach is to put your calls on speakerphone and record them with another device like your Mac or iPad. This may be worth trying if you don’t need to record calls often.
  • Email from Catherine in Alexandria: Dear Tech Talk. I use an exchange email server at work. In order to access my email at home, I am required to use a VPN with Outlook. That seems so complicated. Is there an easier way to access my email, particularly when I am travelling. Love the show. Catherine in Alexandria.
  • Tech Talk Responds: The Exchange server has a web interface. Let’s assume the domain name of the work account is domain.com. In all likelihood, the web interface to this Exchange server will be http://mail.domain.com. Simply use a browser and go to this address. Use your normal credential to log into your account. It is intereting to note that Internet Explorer does not work very week with this interface. You are better off using Chrome, FoxFire, or Edge. By the way, I only use this interface because it is so much fasters than Outlook, which is feature rich, but slow.
  • Email from John in Richmond: Dear Doc and Jim. I get a message that shows hard disk failure is imminent, please back up your hard disk and have it replaced. So I did the backup with the system built in backup process. But it stopped the process halfway. So some files were encrypted and some files were not. I copied the files which were not encrypted to my external hard disk drive. But the remaining files which were encrypted are not able to copy and open. Please give me an idea to recover my files. Enjoy the show. John in Richmond
  • Tech Talk Responds: You may be out of luck.In a situation like this, where preserving and recovering the contents of an entire hard drive is the goal, my mind turns to SpinRite. In your shoes, I would see if I could get SpinRite from Gibson Research to run on this hard drive and possibly recover the contents of the damaged sectors.
    • You’ll need to be able to boot from SpinRite’s CD image.
    • SpinRite is not free. (But they’ll refund if it fails to recover your data.)
    • SpinRite can take a very long time.
    • There’s no guarantee your data will be recovered.
    • Link to download: https://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm
  • If the data on the hard drive is important enough. Your next option would be a data recovery service. I say “worth money” because that’s exactly what it’s going to take to have such a service examine the disk and do what they can. It can be very expensive. And once again, there’s no guarantee your data will be recovered. Expect to pay several hundred dollars. Perhaps it’s worth it, depending on what you’re about to lose otherwise.
  • Hard drives fail all the time. You must prepare, and preparation is simple: back up. If you’d had a backup of your data taken prior to the hard drive’s imminent failure, you would simply replace the drive, recover the data from backup, and get on with your life. It would be that simple.
  • Email from June in Fairfax: Dear Doc and Jim. I am having trouble with my Windows Update feature. What solutions to you suggest? I just got my new computer and now I am having this problem. Love the show. June in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: I would recommend an Update Troubleshooter that walks you through a troubleshooting process. It is designed for Windows 7, 8.1, 7, and 10. This guided walk-through provides steps to fix problems with Windows Updates, such as taking a long time to scan, or error codes while installing updates. The steps in this guided walk-through should help with all Windows Update errors and other issues. The steps provided here should fix any errors that come up during the Windows Update process.
    • Download the Windows Update Troubleshooter, and then select Open or Save in the pop-up window.
    • If you select Save, you need to go to the folder where the troubleshooter is downloaded to after the download is complete, and then double-click the latest wu.diagcab file to run the troubleshooter.
    • Select Next and follow the steps in the wizard to find and fix problems with Windows Update.
  • Link to Troubleshooter: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/10164/fix-windows-update-errors
  • Email from Lily in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk, I think that my Facebook account has been hacked. What can I do? Thanks, Lily
  • Tech Talk Responds: Go to the Facebook Hacked Account Page (www.facebook.com/hacked) A Google search will get you to the link. Click the “My Account Is Compromised” link. Enter your password and follow the instructions. Once your account has been reinstated and is back under your control, reset your Facebook password from the “Account Settings” page by clicking the “Change” link under the “My Account” Password section. From the Facebook Privacy Settings page, click on “Apps and Websites”. Under the “Apps You Use” section, click “Edit Settings” and then click on the “X” to delete any suspicious / malicious apps that may have been used to compromise your account. Alert your friends that your account was hacked and warn them not to click on any links that the hackers who compromised your account may have posted on their walls, in chat sessions, or in Facebook e-mails that the hackers sent to them. Act quickly before it is too late. And if your password is the same on your other accounts, change those passwords immediately.

Profiles in IT: Mitchell Baker

  • Winifred Mitchell Baker the driving force behind and Chairperson for the Mozilla Foundation, an organization responsible for the open source Mozilla Firefox browser.
  • Mitchell Baker was born in 1957 in Oakland, CA.
  • Baker received Bachelors degree in Asian Studies from the UC Berkeley in 1979 and a JD from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1987.
  • From January 1990 until October 1993, she worked as a Corporate and Intellectual Property Associate at Fenwick & West LLP.
  • In November 1993, she was hired by Sun as Associate General Counsel.
  • In November 1994, Baker was hired as one of the first employees of the legal department of Netscape Communications Corporation.
  • She wrote both the Netscape Public License and the Mozilla Public License.
  • The name Mozilla came from a combination of Mosaic killer and Godzilla.
  • Mozilla takes the form of a green and purple cartoon lizard.
  • In February 1999, Baker became the General Manager (Chief Lizard Wrangler) of mozilla.org, the Netscape division that coordinated the Mozilla open source project.
  • In 2001, she was fired by AOL, which had recently purchased Netscape.
  • She continued to serve as the Chief Lizard Wrangler of mozilla.org as a volunteer.
  • In November 2002, Baker was employed by the Open Source Applications Foundation, helping to guide the group’s community relations.
  • Baker was instrumental in the creation of the Mozilla Foundation, an independent non-profit that was launched on July 15, 2003 when AOL shut down the Netscape.
  • She returned full-time to Mozilla in January 2005.
  • Baker became the President of the Mozilla Foundation and was appointed to Board.
  • When the Mozilla Corporation was launched as a taxable subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation on August 3, 2005, Baker was named the CEO of the new entity.
  • She joined the Mozilla Corporation’s Board of Directors and kept her seat on the Mozilla Foundation’s board, as well as her role as Chairperson.
  • In 2005, Time magazine included her in its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world and.
  • On January 8, 2008, Baker, while retaining her role as Chairperson of the Mozilla Foundation, stepped down as CEO of the Mozilla Corporation.
  • The reasons cited for this change was Mozilla’s rapid growth, which made it difficult for executives to continue to wear many hats.
  • In the future, Baker will focus on the vision and message of the Mozilla project, while leaving the nuts and bolts of running a corporation with the CEO.
  • Mitchell is married to Casey Dunnand has one son.
  • As a hobby, she is a skilled trapeze artist, “flying” two or three times a week.
  • She can also speak conversational Mandarin Chinese.
  • Mitchell Baker won the 2009 Anita Borg Women of Vision Award in the Leadership.
  • In 2012, Baker was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame by the Internet Society.
  • In 2016 she received a total of $1,107,300 in compensation from Mozilla.
  • Personal Blog: http://blog.lizardwrangler.com/

People Have stopped naming their babies Alexa

  • Amazon’s AI personal assistant, Alexa, was first introduced with the release of the Amazon Echo smart speaker in 2015.
  • Since then, the popularity of the name Alexa has dramatically decreased in the United States, according to data provided by the U.S. government.
  • Fewer Americans are naming their babies Alexa since the first release of the Amazon Echo in 2015, according to Social Security data.
  • The government keeps track of the popularity of all baby names in the U.S., and their data shows that the girls’ name Alexa peaked in popularity in 2015.
  • The name experienced a dramatic drop off immediately after the release of the device.
  • The steep drop in popularity was first noticed by sociologist and University of Maryland professor Philip Cohen.
  • Cohen summarized the surprising decline by saying, “You have to feel for people who named their daughters Alexa, and the Alexas themselves, before Amazon sullied their names. Did they not think of the consequences for these people?”

MS to replace Surface Pro 4 tablets affected by flickering

  • Microsoft is formally launching a replacement program for Surface Pro 4 devices affected by screen flickering.
  • Any Surface Pro 4 units experiencing the problem will be covered for up to three years from the time of original purchase.
  • The annoying flickering has been well-documented on Microsoft’s support forums, with some users taking drastic steps like putting their Surface Pro 4 in a freezer to temporarily fix the issue.
  • Some customers have already paid for a screen replacement to stop the flickering since the problem typically arises when a machine is out of warranty; Microsoft says they’ll be “offered a refund.”
  • The company notes that this three-year coverage doesn’t extend to other problems your Surface Pro might experience outside the warranty period; it only applies to the screen issue. Replacement devices are refurbished — not brand new — Surface Pro 4s.
  • The so-called “Flickergate” has been yet another knock against the Surface line, which has been targeted by Consumer Reports for showing poor reliability over the years.
  • Plenty of Microsoft’s devices work wonderfully, but for those that do not, the company is now trying to do the right thing.

Apple moves to block iPhone ‘cracking’ method

  • Law enforcement can use codebreaking software such as GreyKey to access locked iPhones
  • Apple is set to launch a new version of its iOS mobile software that could make it significantly harder for law enforcement to access locked iPhones.
  • Smartphone users testing the iOS 11 software through Apple’s beta program say it features a new security feature that disables the iPhone’s charging port if a user hasn’t logged into the device for seven days.
  • If the feature appears on the public version of the software, due to be released in the next few weeks, it would close a loophole known as “cracking” that has been used by police forces to gain access to locked iPhones.
  • According to Cybersecurity blog ElcomSoft, authorities use software called GreyKey to decipher the passcodes of seized iPhones.
  • The process involves connecting the person’s iPhone to a USB stick or computer to use the codebreaking software.
  • However, the new version of iOS 11 would put a time limit of just one week on when that process could be carried out.
  • Apple’s move to tighter security for its iPhones is likely to please its customers while causing further tensions with the authorities.
  • Following the San Bernardino shooting in 2015, the FBI fought but later dropped a legal battle to make the company unlock the suspect’s iPhone, reports Engadget.

Four Must Have Features in a 4K TV

Here are four must have features in a 4K TV

  • High Dynamic Range (HDR) — HDR is arguably a much more important innovation than 4K to your television. 4K adds more pixels, but HDR lets those pixels display a wider range of colors and brightness levels. This gives you an even better picture than you’d see with a 4K upgrade alone. Depending on how far away you sit from your TV, simply upgrading to 4K might not change much but HDR fundamentally changes what your shows look like. The important thing to keep in mind is that HDR10 is free and almost every TV supports it.
  • Local Dimming – If you can’t afford an OLED, and get an LCD this feature is useful. LCD TVs use an LED backlight run through a filter, which means black is really “the closest to black we can get.” Local dimming is a feature that lets your TV make certain parts of the back light brighter than others. It’s not quite the same as having an OLED display, but it’s a far cry better than a single, evenly lit back light panel.
  • Upscaling — A 4K TV can display content made for older 1080p displays with a process called upscaling. This process stretches a lower-resolution image to fit the higher-resolution screen, then uses complicated algorithms to fill in the gaps. This process is never as good as watching a movie that was designed to use your high-res display. It can be hard to find out how good the upscaling is on a TV, since stores and salespeople prefer to show you the best content for the TV.
  • 120Hz Refresh Rate — All movies and shows are a series of still images played rapidly on your screen. Some content shows more frames per second than others, though. To make sure you keep the motion as smooth as possible, you will want a TV that can show up to 120 frames every second (referred to as 120Hz). Anything higher than that, though, and you (probably) do not need it.

Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci Used This Technique to Create

  • Apple co-founder Steve Jobs makes several appearances in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo da Vinci.
  • The two men have a much in common. They both had the ability to marry art and science to create innovations.
  • Steve Jobs once said that the secret to Apple’s success could be found at the intersection of technology and liberal arts.
  • The original Macintosh is one of best examples of his approach. Jobs assembled a team made up of “musicians, poets, and artists, and zoologists and historians who also happened to know computer science.”
  • Jobs was a genius at creating innovative products because he connected ideas from different fields.
  • According to Isaacson, Leonardo was “insatiably curious” and restlessly leapt from subject to subject. If he was passionate about a subject, he’d follow his heart, not knowing where his interest might lead or where it would intersect in the future.
  • Steve Jobs made similar decisions in his life. For example, he followed his passion for studying calligraphy in college, and not realizing that he would apply it years later to build the first computer with beautiful font and typography. It is what Jobs called “connecting the dots.”
  • We learn in Isaacson’s book that Leonardo was Steve Jobs’ hero. In fact, the Apple slide showing two street signs intersecting at the corner of “liberal arts and technology” was directly inspired by Leonardo.
  • Jobs “saw the beauty in both art and engineering, and his ability to combine them was made made him a genius,” writes Isaacson.
  • Ideas are often generated in physical gathering places where people with diverse interest encounter one another serendipitously. That is why Steve Jobs liked his buildings to have a central atrium.
  • According to the three-year Harvard research, the number one skill that separates innovators from noncreative professionals is “associating”: the ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas from different fields and apply them to the problem at hand.
  • Entrepreneurs, break out of your comfort zone and pursue shiny objects from time to time. If it makes your heart sing, a creative spark might be in your future.