September 22, 2018
Best of Tech Talk Edition
- Segments replayed from previous shows.
Email and Forum Questions
- Email from Carl Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: I’ve been reading about the new DNS service that Cloudflare is offering. It is supposed to be faster and more secure. Could you explain DNS and how Cloudflare can make DNS more secure for all of us? The installation instructions for putting Cloudflare’s DNS service is for computers, cellphones, tablets, etc. Do I have to put the188.8.131.52 in my router, too. Thanks for the great podcast, Carl Tyler
- Tech Talk Responds: Cloudflare launched a consumer DNS service on April 1, 2018. They promised speed and privacy. The service is using https://184.108.40.206 and it’s not a joke. While OpenDNS and Google DNS both exist, Cloudflare is focusing heavily on the privacy aspect of its own DNS service with a promise to wipe all logs of DNS queries within 24 hours.
- DNS services are typically provided by internet service providers to resolve a domain name like Google.com into a real IP address that routers and switches understand. It’s an essential part of the internet, but DNS servers provided by ISPs are often slow and unreliable. ISPs can also use DNS servers to identify all sites that are visited, which presents privacy problems.
- Cloudflare’s DNS will offer support for both DNS-over-TLS and DNS-over-HTTPS, and the company is hoping that its HTTPS support will see more browsers and operating systems support the protocol. Cloudflare’s DNS is currently sitting at a global response time of 14ms, compared to 20ms for OpenDNS and 34ms for Google’s DNS, so it is the fastest DNS resolver for consumers.
- If you want to use Cloudflare on your home network, you will have to put the Cloudflare IP address into your router.
- Email from Jean: Dear Doc and Jim. I have a Samsung Galaxy S5 phone and have been satisfied with its performance for the most part. Lately it has been doing too many quirky things. To start I choose a wallpaper and it keeps it briefly then goes to other wallpapers that give me poorer vision of the screen. It will suddenly enlarge the screen and have a red line around the perimeter and be virtually unresponsive for a period of time. It corrects itself eventually but it is frustrating when one wants to use it now not at its convenience. Also why does google assistant just pop up. If I want it I will click on the icon. Appreciate some insight to help with the frustrations. Jean
- Tech Talk Responds: Many people are complaining about the wallpaper reset program on that phone. Two options are available. Wipe the cache partition. If that does not work, reset the phone. But reset requires that you set up the phone again, which is not fun.
- To wipe the cache partition, you need to use the Android System Recovery. Follow these steps
- Turn the device off.
- Press and hold the following three buttons at the same time: Volume Up key, Home key, and Power key.
- When the phone vibrates, release the Power and Home key but continue to press and hold the Volume Up key until the Android System Recovery menu displays and then release. This step may take several seconds.
- Press the Volume Down key to highlight ‘wipe cache partition.’ Press the Power key to select.
- When the wipe cache partition is complete, ‘Reboot system now’ is highlighted. Press the Power key to restart the device.
- So, if you’ve been frustrated by Google Assistant as well, here’s how to turn off that frustrating automatic launch:
- Open up the Google App,
- Touch the hamburger menu in the top left of the screen (looks like this: ≡),
- Select “Settings,”
- Select “Your Feed” (which is toward the bottom of the options listed),
- Touch the switch to the right of “Feed” and toggle it to off.
- Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Dear Dr. Shurtz (Hi to Jim and Mr. Big Voice), Can you explain the roll crystals play in computer timing speed? I understand that crystals generate a certain frequency, but how is that amplified to the gigahertz range in computers? How many different clock rates are there in a personal computer? Or is there some other mechanism used in creating computer speed? The first electronic general purpose computer, the ENIAC, used a 100 kHz clock in its cycling unit. In 2002, an Intel Pentium 4 model was introduced as the first CPU with a clock rate of 3 GHz. Since then personal computer speeds have not improved very much. The Home / personal Computer speed (bandwidth) seems to be “stuck” around that 3 GHz range. It seems if the computer chip manufacturers have the ability to create integrated circuitry in the 16-nanometer size, the speed (clock rate) should be faster. What is the hold back for achieving higher processing speeds? Will we ever have faster computer speeds in the terahertz or petahertz for the home computing sector? Thanks, Doug / Baton Rouge, LA
- Tech Talk Responds: There is only one master clock in your computer. Its frequency is controlled by a quartz crystal. Quartz is made from a chemical compound called silicon dioxide. The most interesting thing about quartz is that it’s piezoelectric. That means if you squeeze a quartz crystal, it generates a tiny electric current. The opposite is also true: if you pass electricity through quartz, it vibrates at a precise frequency. The quartz crystal oscillates at a precise frequency: exactly 32768 times each second. The circuit counts the number of vibrations and uses them to generate regular electric pulses. Most computer clocks put out a signal around 100 to 200 MHz, all based on the quartz vibration frequency. The CPU clock speed is simply a multiple of master clock. As far as processing speed, we have nearly reached the quantum limit. Making the transistor smaller doesn’t work because of tunneling. So now CPU are using multiple cores to process signals in parallel. It is no longer simply clock rate. It now is also the number of Cores that determine the overall processing speed.
- Email from Rick from Niceville: Dear Dr. Shurtz, I need to replace my external hard disk drive and I am considering the My Cloud Home by Western Digital. Is this a good product or are there other comparable products for home use and storage accessible via the cloud? Also, does My Cloud Home have security protection to prevent hackers to access my home files, pictures, videos, and etc.? As a suggestion for a person to feature on Tech Talk (if you haven’t already done so), perhaps you can highlight the Father of the Disk Drive, Reynold B. Johnson, the American inventor and computer pioneer who was a long-time employee of IBM. Johnson is said to be the “father” of the disk drive. Other inventions include automatic test scoring equipment and the videocassette tape. Rick from Niceville, FL
- Tech Talk Responds: Western Digital’s My Cloud Home devices have gotten good reviews. I would make certain that you get the My Cloud Home Dual Drive. The dual drive is set up using RAID 1, where the second drive is an exact mirror of the first. RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. This is truly a backup system. However, if you want a higher level of protection, you will need to have a second one at another location. The 4T dual drive is $309 and the 16T dual drive is $699. The other competitor in this space is Seagate Central. However, it is a single drive system and the capacity is capped at 4T. The reviewers loves Seagate Central because it is designed to work as a whole-home central media library for sharing and accessing data from game consoles, Smart TVs, and Blu-ray discs. As far as security is concerned, the WD My Cloud has critical security vulnerabilities revealed in early 2017. WD issued firmware patches in late March and early April 2017, so make certain that you system has the latest firmware patches before connecting it to the Internet. The bottom line is that given your use, the WD My Cloud Dual Drive is a good choice.
Profiles in IT: Yann LeCun
- Yann LeCun is a computer scientist with contributions in machine learning. , computer vision, mobile robotics and computational neuroscience. He is a founding father of convolutional neural nets He is director of Facebook AI Research
- Yann LeCun was born near Paris, France, in 1960.
- He liked to build radio controlled, ultra-light, battery-powered model airplanes with unconventional design, propulsion, or construction technique.
- He received a Diplôme d’Ingénieur from the Ecole Superieure d’Ingénieur en Electrotechnique et Electronique (ESIEE), Paris in 1983.
- In 1987, he received a PhD in Computer Science from Université Pierre et Marie Curie, where he proposed a form of the back-propagation for neural networks.
- After graduation, he was a postdoc in Geoffrey Hinton’s lab at the Univ. of Toronto.
- In 1988, he joined the Adaptive Systems Research Department at AT&T Bell Laboratories, where he developed a biologically inspired model of image recognition called Convolutional Neural Networks and the Graph Transformer Network method, which he applied to handwriting recognition and OCR.
- The check recognition system that he helped develop was deployed by NCR and other companies, reading over 10% of all the checks in the US.
- In 1996, he joined AT&T Labs-Research as head of the Image Processing Research Department and worked on the DjVu image compression technology.
- DjVu is an image compression technique, a file format, and a software platform, designed bring paper documents and high resolution photos to the Internet.
- After a brief tenure as a Fellow of the NEC Research Institute, he joined New York University (NYU) in 2003, as Professor of Computer Science Neural Science.
- At NYU, he has worked primarily on Energy-Based Models for supervised and unsupervised learning for object recognition and mobile robotics.
- In 2012, he became the founding director of the NYU Center for Data Science.
- On December 9, 2013, LeCun became the first director of Facebook AI Research.
- LeCun is a recipient of the 2014 IEEE Neural Network Pioneer Award.
- In 2013, he co-founded the International Conference on Learning Representations,
- He was the chair and organizer of the “Learning Workshop” held every year between 1986 and 2012 in Snowbird, Utah.
- He is the Co-Director of the Learning in Machines and Brain research program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR).
- He loves to sail and owns two small catamarans.
- He played the recorder and various wind instruments in a Renaissance ensemble when he was in high school and college. (Play a sample.)
- He now plays mostly Jazz improvisation, which he grew to love while in NYC.
- His personal home page is: http://yann.lecun.com/
Autumn Equinox: First Day of Fall
- Friday’s autumn equinox marks the end of summer and the first day of fall for anybody living in the Northern Hemisphere, meaning colder weather and longer nights are on the way.
- The 2017 autumn equinox, which signals the official change of season, occurs on Sept. 22 at 4:02 p.m. EDT, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory, which handles astronomical data and serves as the official source of time for the military and country.
- On the day of the equinox — a Latin term that means equality between day and night — day and night are each 12 hours long, according to NASA. The U.S. space agency said equinoxes occur when the Earth is in alignment with the sun directly above the Earth’s equator.
- Seasons change based on how the Earth, which spins on a tilted axis, moves around the sun each year, NASA said. For example, it’s summer when the North Pole is pointed toward the sun, which provides the Northern Hemisphere with direct sunlight. But it’s winter when the North Pole is pointed away from the sun.
- Winter officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere this year on Dec. 21.
Apps to Keep Your Kids From Texting and Driving
- The best way to avoid a distraction is to completely remove it from your view—you know: out of sight, out of mind.
- So make that a rule in the car. Put the phone away, somewhere it can’t be seen (or preferably even heard): in the console, in the glove box, in the trunk—just somewhere out of sight.
- If you have an iPhone, you can set Do Not Disturb to automatically turn on in a moving vehicle. This prevent you from easily using it, as well as blocks all notifications to avoid distraction.
- To turn it on, go to Settings, and then tap the “Do Not Disturb” option.
- Scroll to the bottom of the Do Not Disturb page, and then click “Do Not Disturb While Driving” menu. There are three options here: Automatically, When Connected to Car Bluetooth, or Manually. Pick whichever one best fits your situation.
- From that point forward, DND is activated automatically based on those settings. No notifications, no distractions. A safer drive.
- There are also app that work on either an Android or iOS.
- LifeSaver:Lifesaver blocks texts and calls while driving, can alert parents when a child arrives at their location safely, tracks mileage, and a lot more. It’s available for both iOS and Android, and offers a many of parental options.
- AT&T DriveMode:This app is a simple one, but it gets a lot of things right. It automatically turns on when it detects movement of 15MPH or more, blocking all notifications. It should then automatically disable itself a few minutes after the vehicle stops moving. Despite being an AT&T app, it’s available for all users regardless of carrier. It’s available for iOS and Android.
Amazon Fake Reviews
- Thousands of Amazon account holders are part of an extensive, invisible workforce fueling a review-fraud economy.
- Buyers are unwittingly purchasing inferior or downright faulty products.
- The systems that create fraudulent reviews are a complicated web of subreddits, invite-only Slack channels, private Discord servers, and closed Facebook groups.
- The best way to make it on Amazon is with positive reviews, and the best way to get positive reviews is to buy them.
- In a 2011 survey, 87% of consumers said a positive review confirmed their decision to purchase a product; online customer reviews are the second most trusted source of product information, behind recommendations from family and friends.
- But only 3% to 10% of customers leave reviews. The best way to make it on Amazon is with positive reviews, and the best way to get positive reviews is to buy them.
- In October 2016, Amazon banned free items or steep discounts in exchange for reviews facilitated by third parties.
- Amazon’s ban didn’t stop sellers from recruiting reviewers. It only drove the practice underground. Reviewers are no longer simply incentivized with free stuff, they’re commissioned specifically for a five-star rating in exchange for cash.
- Paid reviewers also typically pay for products with their own credit cards on their own Amazon accounts, with which they have spent at least $50, all to meet the criteria for a “verified purchase,” so their reviews are marked as such.
- But based on his analysis of Amazon data, one researcher has estimated that 9.1% of the reviews are unnatural.
- Amazon is investing heavily to detect and prevent inauthentic reviews. In addition to advance detection, we use a machine-learned algorithm that gives more weight to newer, more helpful reviews.
South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange under investigation
- Upbit, the fourth largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, is under investigation for charges of faking its balance sheet and deceiving investors.
- The exchange’s office in Seoul, South Korea, was raided by 10 investigators from the country’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS)
- The investigators have reportedly seized Upbit’s computers and account sheets to review the company’s cryptocurrency holdings.
- While the authorities have not yet pressed charges or released a full report of the investigation, it appears that Upbit users are withdrawing their funds from the exchange desk en masse, according to market data.
- South Korea has been shifting the focus from outright ban of cryptocurrencies and ICOs to defined regulations since the beginning of this year.
- This has, however, meant greater scrutiny of cryptocurrency businesses in the country.
- Four executives from two different cryptocurrency exchanges including Coinnest, South Korea’s fifth largest cryptocurrency exchange, were also arrested last month for charges of embezzlement and fraud.
Word of the Week: Selfitis
- Are you obsessed with taking selfies?
- Chances are you might have “selfitis” — a genuine mental condition that makes a person feel compelled to constantly take photos and post them on social media.
- The term has been around since 2014 to describe obsessive selfie-taking but has not been backed by science until now.
- Researchers from Nottingham Trent University and Thiagarajar School of Management investigated the term and discovered six motivating factors.
- Those who suffer from selfitis are generally seeking to boost their confidence, seek attention, improve their mood, make memories, conform with their social group and be socially competitive.
- Typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to ‘fit in’ with those around them and may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviors.”
- Now the existence of the condition appears to have been confirmed, it is hoped that further research will be carried out to understand more about how and why people develop this potentially obsessive behavior and what can be done to help people who are the most affected.
Amazon Can Deliver to Your Car
- Amazon can now drop off deliveries in your trunk at home and in parking lots.
- As a Prime member, get your Amazon packages securely delivered right into your vehicle parked at home, at work or near other locations in your address book.
- Park your vehicle in a publicly accessible area to receive in-car deliveries, and track your packages with real-time notifications.
- You will need a 2015 or newer car with OnStar or Volvo On Call. Here are the supported car brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Volvo.
- You need to link Amazon Key to your OnStar or Volvo On Call service. When your delivery driver arrives at your car, the service remotely opens your trunk or hatchback. Amazon’s drivers cannot open your car on their own.
- Couriers can use those assistance services to find the cars through satellite location-tracking and unlock the trunk.
- You can does not have to be home. It could be near your work in an accessible public parking place.
- In-car delivery is available in 37 U.S. cities and surrounding areas—including Atlanta, Austin, Houston, L.A., Miami, Nashville, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
- The company conducted a small pilot test of in-car delivery in Germany in partnership with Audi and DHL several years ago.
Twitter Application: Fast Food Truck (Original air date: 5-16-2009)
- Twitter recently became the communique of choice for the almost popular Kogi BBQ trucks, a taco vendor in LA.
- Kogi uses Twitter to alert customers of its location.
- The trend is spreading to other wheel meals as more food are using the social networking site to draw customers.
- While it’s not clear which truck Tweeted first, the Kogi folks have shown themselves to be the most effective at turning tweets into effective marketing.
- “Kogi special at the trucks and the Alibi! Grilled asparagus with Yellow Nectarines and Sesame Seeds!” read one recent Kogi Tweet.
- Since Kogi’s launch in November, hungry herds of have been following the pair of white trucks that rove the city selling tacos, burritos and other gourmet tidbits steeped in traditional Korean flavors.
- In short order, the Kogi name has become recognizable to foodies around the country.
- No small accomplishment for a pair of taco trucks all due to Twitter.
- And she thinks the success of food truck Tweets likely will inspire a broader use of Twitter across the food world.
- “Chefs will be Tweeting from the farmers market about the mushrooms they just picked up and will be part of their mushroom pasta that evening,” she says.
Python is the Fastest Growing Language
- Python is the fastest-growing programming language, and by 2019 will significantly outstrip other languages in terms of active developers, according to Stack Overflow.
- This projection is based on the number of developers viewing questions about Python. on its site.
- Stack Overflow is the world’s largest online community site for developers, with more than 50 millions amateur and professional developers.
- In the five years to June 2017, Python has gone from the least to the most popular of the top six programming languages, with a 2.5x increase in views of Python questions.
- The popularity of Python is, in part, due to its flexibility, with the language used regularly by web and desktop developers, sysadmin/devops, and more recently by data scientists and machine-learning engineers.
- The rapid spread of Python also stems from its strong community, as well as the language itself, readability, conciseness, and the completeness of its standard library.
- Data science and scientific applications are an area of high growth. Python’s accessibility allows subject matter experts to focus on their relative subject matter areas in their research.