Show of 10-27-2018

Tech Talk

October 27, 2018

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Brian in Kansas: Dear Doc and Jim. I enjoy the show by watching Periscope live on my iPhone. I would like to install Periscope on my Windows 10 laptop and can find a version that supports Windows. I can only find iPhone and Andoid applications for download. What are my options? Brian in Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: There is no version of Periscope that supports Windows. However, there is hope. You can install an Android emulator on your computer and then install Periscope. In fact, that is what I have been doing for quite some time. BlueStacks was founded in 2011 to push the boundaries of mobile gaming. More than 210 million people use the App Player to play mobile games on their PCs or Macs.
    • Download and install Bluestacks (https://www.bluestacks.com/) on your computer. Bluestacks supports Android 7.1.2 (Nougat). Make certain to download Bluestacks from the correct website. There are fake download locations that may be infected with malware.
    • After you log into your Gmail account, search of the Periscope app on Google Play within Bluestacks. Then download and install this in the same way that you do on your Android smartphone.
  • Be patient. It takes a while to boot up the first time. After that Bluestacks will initialize in less than a minute. By the way, you can download and tryout any Android app within this environment. Enjoy.
  • Email from John in Bethesda: Dear Tech Talk. I listen to Tech Talk every Saturday morning, but sometimes I miss the show. Where can I find the podcast so I can listen to the show later in the week? Tech Talk is very informative. John in Bethesda
  • Tech Talk Responds: The Tech Talk Podcast can be found in several locations.
  • Plus, many other podcast aggregator sites that harvest information from Apple iTunes. Enjoy the podcasts. The feed goes back for several years. If you go to the Stratford Tech Talk website (http://techtalk.stratford.edu/), you can find shows that go back over fifteen years.
  • Email from David in Ashurn: Dear Tech Talk. I would like to install Linux on my Windows10 PC laptop and be able to toggle back and forth between Windows and Linux. I am new to computers and would like to start learning the ropes. What do you suggest? David in Ashburn
  • Tech Talk Responds: I would suggest that to run Linux as a virtual machine within Windows10. I would suggest that you install Ubuntu LTS (long term support edition), so you don’t have to upgrade the OS so frequently.
  • An excellent virtual machine option would be Oracle VM VirtualBox. It is a free and open-source hosted hypervisor for x86 computers currently being developed by Oracle Corporation. For some guest operating systems, a “Guest Additions” package of device drivers and system applications is available which typically improves performance, especially that of graphics. This is especially useful for Linux OS.
  • Users of VirtualBox can load multiple guest OSs under a single host operating-system (host OS). Each guest can be started, paused and stopped independently within its own virtual machine (VM). The user can independently configure each VM and run it under a choice of software-based virtualization or hardware assisted virtualization if the underlying host hardware supports this. The host OS and guest OSs and applications can communicate with each other through a number of mechanisms including a common clipboard and a virtualized network facility.
  • Email from Chris in Niceville: I am installing Windows 10 on a new laptop and have to buy an activation key. When I search on Amazon, there are many cheap keys for sale. Are they real? Will they work? I would love to save some money. Chris in Niceville, Florida
  • Tech Talk Responds: Microsoft charges $200 for a Windows 10 Professional product key. But, with a quick search online, you can find websites promising Windows 10 Pro keys for $12 or even less. That’s a huge savings—but don’t fall for it.
  • The websites selling cheap Windows 10 and Windows 7 keys aren’t getting legitimate retail keys straight from Microsoft.
    • Some of these keys come from other countries where licenses are cheaper.
    • Other keys could have been purchased with stolen credit card numbers.
    • Some keys may be education keys intended for students.
    • Other keys may be “volume license” keys, not sold individually.
  • They often do work…for a while. At some point in that year, the key may be flagged as bad and blacklisted on Microsoft’s servers. This happens when the key theft is reported to Microsoft. In some instances, they may never be flagged, but using them is still not right. So it stopped working, and we’d have to buy a new key. These keys just aren’t legitimate. By purchasing them, you may be supporting criminals who steal credit card numbers. Or, you may be rewarding people who abuse programs set up to help students and encouraging the shutdown of these programs.
  • Email from Lilly in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I frequently work from home and need to set up conference calls. I only have an iPhone at home. Is there any service that I can use for conference calls? Love the show. Lilly in Fairfax.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Your iPhone allows you to call up to five people at once, making it easy to set up a quick conference call. The other people don’t need anything special, just any old cellular or landline telephone.
  • Start your conference call by calling one of the participants normally from the Dialer app. You may want to tell the person that you’re going to add more people to the call. While in the call on your iPhone, tap the Add Call button. The first call will be placed on hold while you place the second call. Dial the second person’s number or choose it from your contacts.
  • After the second person answers the call, you’ll see the first call on hold and the second call active below it. If you have the names of the people in your contacts, their names will be displayed here. Otherwise, you’ll just see their phone numbers. Tap the Merge Calls button and you’ll now have a conference call involving you and the two people you called.
  • Repeat this process several more times if you want to add other callers. Just tap Add Call, dial the next person, and then tap Merge Calls after they answer. You can call up to five people at once.

Profiles in IT: Ivan Edward Sutherland

  • Ivan Edward Sutherland is an American computer scientist and Internet pioneer, widely regarded as the “father of computer graphics”.
  • He was born May 16, 1938 in Hastings, Nebraska.
  • In 8th grade he built a gantry crane with surplus motors brought home by his father. His favorite subject in high school was geometry.
  • His first computer processing experience was with a computer called SIMON, a relay-based computer with six words of two-bit memory.
  • Its 12 bits of memory permitted SIMON to add up to 15. Sutherland’s first significant program allowed SIMON to divide.
  • For 12th grade science fair, he made a magnetic drum memory with 128 2-bit words.
  • After graduating from Scarsdale High School in 1955, Sutherland attended Carnegie Mellon University on a full scholarship, which made it affordable for him.
  • He received a BS from Carnegie in 1959, an MS from the Caltech in 1960, and a PhD in EE from the MIT in 1963.
  • He invented Sketchpad in 1962 while at MIT. Sketchpad was a groundbreaking interactive computer-aided design system. Its innovations included hierarchical drawings, constraint-satisfaction methods, and an interactive GUI.
  • After graduating from MIT in 1963, Sutherland accepted a U.S. Army commission.
  • In 1964, at age 26, First Lieutenant Sutherland replaced J. C. R. Licklider as the head of the DARPA Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO).
  • From 1965 to 1968, Sutherland was an Associate Professor of EE at Harvard.
  • In 1968, with the help of student Bob Sproull, he created the first virtual reality and augmented reality head-mounted display system.
  • From 1968 to 1974 Sutherland was a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Utah. Among his noted students there were Jim Clark (founder of Silicon Graphics, Netscape, and WebMD, Alan Kay (creator of the Smalltalk language and 2003 Turing Award recipient and Edwin Catmull (co-founder of Pixar).
  • In 1968 Sutherland co-founded Evans & Sutherland, which focused on real-time hardware, accelerated 3D computer graphics, and printer languages. Former employees included the founder of Adobe (John Warnock).
  • Starting in the mid-1970s, Sutherland was affiliated with the RAND Corporation, and investigated making animated movies—an undertaking well ahead of its time.
  • From 1974 to 1978 he was at Caltech, where he was the founding head of that school’s Computer Science Department.
  • In 1980 he founded Sutherland, Sproull and Assoc., which was purchased by Sun in 1990 to form its research division. Sutherland became a Fellow and VP at Sun.
  • He was a visiting scholar in Computer Science at UC Berkeley from 2005 to 2008.
  • During his career Sutherland has obtained more than 60 patents.

Ford will Test Self-driving cars in DC

  • Ford announced October 22, 2018, that it would begin testing its self-driving cars on the streets of Washington, DC, early next year.
  • Ford currently has vehicles on the road in DC gathering mapping data, and will begin operating those cars autonomously in the first quarter of 2019.
  • A safety driver and a second engineer will remain in the vehicle at all times, Ford says, but the company plans to remove both when it feels confident enough in its technology.
  • Ford has also secured a fleet terminal for its autonomous vehicles within the district.
  • The facility will serve as a home base for Ford’s cars when they aren’t out on the streets and a place where they can transfer data and have their sensors cleaned and calibrated.
  • Washington will be the fourth city for Ford’s AV testing, in addition to Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Miami.
  • The automaker has said it expects to launch its commercial service of robot taxis and delivery vehicles at scale in 2021.
  • As for “equitable deployment,” in its negotiations with the municipal government of DC, Ford agreed to operate its vehicles in all eight of Washington’s neighborhoods, or “wards,” in an effort to reach different types of residents as it nears a commercial launch of its self-driving service.
  • Ford will also spend cash to train local residents for auto technician careers that could involve self-driving vehicles in the future.
  • But first, Ford needs to build a working map of the city. That includes gathering data on Washington’s uniquely complicated topography
  • The company is working with Argo, the self-driving startup that Ford is backing with a $1 billion investment.

Microsoft Has Changed Colors: It Support Open Source

  • Microsoft, once a staunch opponent of open-source technology, is joining the Open Invention Network consortium, created to protect open-source technologies from patent lawsuits.
  • Additionally, Microsoft will contribute more than 60,000 of its patents to the Open Invention Network. This is noteworthy because the group’s member companies cross-license their patents to each other to prevent future lawsuits in which companies may allege that another firm’s technology infringes on their own patents.
  • Some of the group’s member companies include Google, Red Hat, IBM, and Toyota.
  • The OIN group formed in 2005 to protect proponents of the open source Linux operating system from legal actions, and now covers a broader range of open source technologies.
  • Developers and companies can access and contribute to open source technology for free, unlike proprietary software like Microsoft’s Windows operating system.
  • For years, Microsoft has waged legal battles against companies working on open source technologies like Linux and Google’s Android operating system, alleging that the open-source tech infringed on its own patents.
  • But as open source technologies have become more popular with developers and corporations in recent years, Microsoft has shifted its attitude towards the tech that it once considered a major threat to its business.
  • As the company puts more resources into its Azure cloud computing service, it has been increasingly pushing into open source technologies as a way to court developers to build apps on Azure.
  • One of Microsoft’s first major steps to appease the open-source community occurred in 2014 when the company said it would open source its .NET developer framework.
  • Microsoft’s latest big open source play is its decision to buy GitHub, an open-source friendly service for developers to store their software code, for $7.5 billion.

Over 11,000 MikroTik router users at risk of cyber attacks

  • A security flaw in MikroTik WiFi routers has left thousands at risk of cyber attacks ranging from eavesdropping to cryptomining.
  • India is among the 10 countries worst affected by the cryptomining campaign.
  • and Reliane Jio Infocomm has the highest number of infected routers in the country, according to a report by Avast.
  • Avast, an anti-virus company, found that 11,809 routers were infected in India, putting it on the seventh position of countries with compromised routers.
  • At the top is Brazil with a 85,230 infected routers targeted by crypto mining campaign.
  • The campaign allows cybercriminals to exploit a vulnerability in MikroTik and inject scripts that further allow them to run software illegally. The software, in turn, can take over the computer’s resources and use them for cryptocurrency mining.
  • When you try to reach any URL starting with http:// on an infected router, you will get HTTP error code 403. The error code page is actually a script which launches a javascript cryptocurrency miner that runs in your browser.
  • Routers could have been targeted as owners did not change their default credentials or create strong passwords.
  • Avast recommended installing proper antivirus software to check if routers were infected or not. In the case of infected routers, they urged users to reset them to factory settings and update firmware immediately.

Thousands Of Swedes Are Inserting Microchips Under Their Skin

  • In Sweden, thousands have had microchips inserted into their hands.
  • The chips are designed to speed up users’ daily routines and make their lives more convenient for accessing their homes, offices and gyms is as easy as swiping their hands against digital readers.
  • They also can be used to store emergency contact details, social media profiles or e-tickets for events and rail journeys within Sweden.
  • Around the size of a grain of rice, the chips typically are inserted into the skin just above each user’s thumb, using a syringe similar to that used for giving vaccinations.
  • The procedure costs about $180.
  • More than 4,000 Swedes have adopted the technology.
  • Biohax International is dominating the market. The chipping firm was started five years ago by Jowan Osterlund, a former professional body piercer.
  • Many early adopters come from Stockholm’s thriving startup scene. Er
  • ik Frisk, a 30-year-old Web developer and designer, says he was really curious about the technology as soon as he heard about it and decided to get his own chip in 2014.
  • When Frisk moved into a shared house earlier this year, he organized a chipping party for his new housemates. Now they can access the 16th century building they share in Stockholm’s Old Town by tapping their hands on a digital reader by the door.
  • Szilvia Varszegi, 28, who uses it to get into her coworking space. And she uses it to share her LinkedIn details at networking events, avoiding the need to spell out her name. She simply touches another attendee’s smartphone and the information is transferred.
  • Sweden’s largest train company has started allowing commuters to use chips instead of tickets and there’s talk that the chips could soon be used to make payments in shops and restaurants.

$183 Million in Ethereum Transferred Successfully

  • The Ethereum block 6556384 went through 5080 confirmations and took over 19 hours to transfer more than $183,000,000 without having to go through expensive intermediaries.
  • A legacy payment system like PayPal – after removing the remittance limit – should have transferred $183 million by charging a $5.3 million transaction fees in an average East-to-West payment corridor.
  • Western Union, another global remittance service, should have sent the same amount by taking out $120 off each $3,000 transferred.
  • The Ethereum blockchain transaction fee was lower than what Western Union charges for sending $50.
  • Despite its innovation in the payment and remittance sector, decentralized blockchains see lower adoption rates compared to PayPal and Western Union, because the tokens transferred on these blockchains are volatile.
  • Therefore, a $183 million transaction, while on its way to receivers, could get reduced to, say, $170 million.
  • It could even gain a few million pounds if the market is acting bullish. It makes decentralized assets a little untrustworthy for participants looking for stable remittance.
  • What’s more problematic is liquidity. Receiver upon getting the amount in the crypto asset would need to exchange it for local currency. In many cases, the exchanges responsible for interchanging are less liquid than required, without suitable regulation.
  • Blockchain has solved one part of a two-part problem. This part is the immutability, scalability, and decentralization. While the success of the other part, comprising of regulation, economic inclusion, and space for further blockchain innovation, solely depends on friendly policies by economists and lawmakers alike.

North Korean Hackers Steal $571M in Cryptocurrency

  • North Korean hacking outfit “Lazarus” is the most profitable cryptocurrency-hacker syndicate in the world.
  • Since 2017, internet thieves have taken a total stolen of $882 million worth of cryptocurrency from online exchanges, but none have done it quite as well as the North Koreans, who needed $571M, as outlined in a report by cybersecurity unit Group-IB.
  • Hackers targeting cryptocurrency exchanges mostly use traditional methods and tools, such as spear phishing, social engineering, and malware.
  • Spear phishing remains the major vector of attack on corporate networks. For instance, fraudsters deliver malware under the cover of CV spam [with an attachment] that has a malware embedded in the document.
  • Group-IB expects the number of targeted attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges to rise, and not just the ones from Lazarus. It warns the most aggressive hacker groups, usually known for attacking banks, will shift their attention to cryptocurrency exchanges now they know just how lucrative it can be.
  • The report also reveals 10 percent of the total funds raised by ICO platforms over the past year and a half have been stolen. A majority of the funds were lost to phishing.
  • Group-IB also notes the possibility of the world’s largest mining pools becoming an easy target for state-sponsored hackers declaring attempted ‘51-percent attacks‘ to be increasingly common.
  • For 51-percent attacks to be successful, bad actors must control a majority of the total computing power utilized by a Proof-of-Work powered blockchain.