Show of 07-28-2018

Tech Talk
July 28, 2018

 

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments replayed from previous shows.

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Jim in Bowie: Dear Tech Talk. I listened to some of Tech Talk Saturday morning. You had another email asking about how one could reduce the cost of Verizon Wireless service. You mentioned that Verizon has a “Prepaid Plan” that the don’t advertise. I went over to the Verizon office in Bowie and Saturday afternoon and asked about their Prepaid Plan. Once I explained that we bought our current iPhones from the Apple store, had no desire to use their so-called “free phone” upgrade option, and that we were currently month-to-month (not under contract) in our current plan, they were quite happy to enroll us in their Prepaid plans.  It was actually quite easy and smooth to do. We are saving $75 a month under our new plans – and actually getting more GB of data. Previously we shared 6 GB, but now one phone has 7 GB and the other has 3 GB (which is plenty). Thanks for the mention of the Verizon Prepaid plans on your show.  It inspired me to investigate and ask the right question – saving us money and getting better service, too! Jim in Bowie
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the feedback. These plans are always better and they do not force you to pay for a new phone as part of your monthly bill. You can now get a new phone when you want and will not feel forced to upgrade. This the way Europe and Asia have been for years. Now the US is catching on, as consumers become better informed.
  • Email from Alice in Alexandria: Dear Doc and Jim. Help me with a debate that I am having with my son. Whenever I type a document, I put two spaces after each period to give more space between sentences. I believe that it make the document easier to read. My son puts one space after periods. He says that I am old fashioned and that two space slows him down and does no good. What is the real rule for typing documents: one space or two? That is the question. Love the show. Alice in Alexandria
  • Tech Talk Responds: This has been a battleground question for years. The two space rule started with fixed pitch typewriters. When variable pitch fonts became available on computers, some experts said that the two-space rule was not necessary. Not everyone agreed.
  • A study done by Skidmore College has just been released. It is titled: “Are Two Spaces Better Than One? The Effect of Spacing Following Periods and Commas During Reading.” It appears in the current issue of the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics.Rebecca Johnson, an associate professor in Skidmore’s department of psychology, led the team. Her expertise is in the cognitive processes underlying reading. Their final conclusion is that all readers benefit from having two spaces after periods. In the Skidmore study, among people who write with two spaces after periods, there was an increase in reading speed of 3 percent when reading text with two spaces following periods, as compared to one. This is an average of nine additional words per minute above their performance under the one-space conditions.
  • So Round One has been won by the two spaces. Let you son know and then enjoy the moment.
  • Email from Dennis in Arkansas: Dear Tech Talk. I heard that Apple slows down your phone as the battery degrades. I don’t want this feature. I would prefer to the full capability of my phone and then simply recharge more often. I can I disable my iPhone CPU throttling feature? Enjoy the podcast. Dennis in Arkansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: You will need to update to the latest operating system iOS 11.3. It has a new feature called Battery Health, which will show you two simple things: the battery’s maximum capacity and the “peak performance capability.” The latter is what you will be looking for if you’re concerned about CPU throttling.
  • To access this new option, open the Settings menu, then tap the “Battery” option. Click on Battery Health. The first option here—Maximum Capacity—is basically a way of gauging your battery’s health. It lets you know the actual capacity of your battery relative to its brand-new state. While a brand new phone will be 100%, this number will start to drop as the phone ages and the battery wears.
  • The second option—Peak Performance Capability—will let you know if your device is affected by the slowdown “feature.” If the battery currently reports that it “supports normal peak performance,” then the device has never experienced an unexpected shutdown then you’re good to go—no throttling for you. Be glad—but there will come a day when you won’t be.
  • Because one day, the battery might be “unable to deliver the necessary peak power.” And when that happens, it will automatically apply Performance Management, which basically means it’ll slow down the phone’s processor to avoid random shutdowns.
  • If that happens, you’ll have the opportunity to disable said feature. Once your device is affected, there will be an explanation of what’s happening along with a button to disable the feature.
  • Once you do, however, be aware that you’re opening yourself up to the problem of random shutdowns. Without that throttling, your phone may turn off without warning.
  • If you battery capacity is degraded because I age, you can have Apple provide a replacement battery for only $29 (reduced from $79 for 2018). The earlier battery shortage is now alleviated, so this replacement can be made without a long wait. Apple made this offer earlier, to make amends for slowing down phones without telling the consumer. Many thought that this was simply a way to get people to upgrade every two years.
  • 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.
  • GotFreeFax — GotFreeFax is an ad supported free service. 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 oneof 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: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz

  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz developed binary arithmetic. The root is from the Latin word binarius which literally meant “two by two”
  • He was born in 1646 and died in 1716.
    • He contributed to law, history, theology, politics, engineering, geology, physics, and perhaps most importantly, philosophy, mathematics and logic.
    • The Leibniz began to teach himself Latin at the age of 8, and Greek a few years later.
    • His study of logic and intellectual quest for order continued throughout his life.
  • At the age of 20 he published Dissertation on the Art of Combinatoricsin which he sought a a universal symbolic language and reduce all debate to calculation.
  • During this time in Paris, he became acquainted with several of the leading philosophers, read the unpublished manuscripts of Blaise Pascal and Rene Descartes.
  • He met Christiaan Huygens from whom he learned mathematics. He then laid the foundation of calculus, which become his philosophical legacy. The invention of the differential and integral calculus is part of his search for a universal language. A dispute with Issac Newton over the invention of calculus scandalized his life.
  • In 1703 he published An Explanation of Binary Arithmetic Using only the Characters 0 and 1. He was still seeking a universal symbolic language.
    • Of binary numeration, he writes it permits new discoveries [in] . . . arithmetic . . . in geometry, because when the numbers are reduced to the simplest principles, like 0 and 1, a wonderful order appears everywhere.
    • With base 2 numeration, Leibniz witnessed the confluence of several intellectual ideas of his world view, not just the characteristica generalis, but also theological and mystical ideas of order, harmony and creation, with 0 denoting nothing and 1 denoting God.
  • His 1703 paper contains the application of binary numbers to the ancient Chinese text of Yijing (I-Ching or Book of Changes).
    • This he thought, might be the origin of a universal symbolic language.
    • The ancient Chinese lineations or 64 hexagrams of Yijing consist of six lines atop one another, each of which is either solid or broken, forming a total of 64 possibilities. A grouping of three such lines is called a trigram.
    • A solid line can be viewed as one and a broken line as zero.
    • Leibniz cites an application to weighing masses. Suppose that a two-pan balance is used for weighing stones. Leibniz claims that all stones of integral weight between 1 and 15 inclusive can be weighed with just four standard weights.
  • Leibniz’ designed stepped wheel calculator was built for decimal numbers. He gave some thought over the years to another machine which would incorporate his beloved binary system using on/off principles.
  • 125 years later, a binary logic system based on true and false conditionals was developed in mid-19th century by George Boole
  • John von Neumann pressed for the use of binary arithmetic in 1946 in the ENIAC computer and the rest is history.

Apollo 11 Blasted Off 49 years ago

  • “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
  • With those words, astronaut Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon.
  • Man walked on the moon for the first time on July 21 1969, when Armstrong stepped off the space module ‘Eagle’ and uttered his unforgettable line.
  • Shortly afterwards he was joined by Buzz Aldrin.
  • Millions of people around the world saw history being made before their eyes, and now you can relive the whole Apollo 11 mission on the internet from start to finish to celebrate the anniversary.
  • The original, unseen footage and a computer animation in real time of the historic mission is available at org.
  • Apollo 11 took four days in all from the countdown of the Saturn V rocket at the start to the journey into space to finally landing on the moon.

NASA Lost Moon Footage

  • NASA could put a man on the moon but the original video of the live TV transmission.
  • The space agency said Thursday that it must have erased the Apollo 11 moon footage years ago so that it could reuse the videotape.
  • A huge search that began three years ago for the old moon tapes led to the ”inescapable conclusion”; that 45 tapes of Apollo 11 video were erased and reused.
  • The original videos beamed to Earth were stored on giant reels of tape that each contained 15 minutes of video, along with other data from the moon.
  • In the 1970s and ’80s, NASA had a shortage of the tapes, so it erased about 200,000 of them and reused them.
  • Hollywood is coming to the rescue.
  • The studio who restored “Casablanca” are digitally sharpening and cleaning up the footage of the moon landing, making it even better than what TV viewers saw on July 20, 1969.
  • They are doing it by working from four copies that NASA scrounged from around the world.
  • The first batch of restored footage was released just in time for the 40th anniversary of the “one giant leap for mankind”, and some of the details seem new because of their sharpness.
  • The original, unseen footage and a computer animation in real time of the historic mission is available at org.

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.