Show of 03-09-2019

Tech Talk
March 9, 2019

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments taken from previous shows.

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Hac in Bowie: Dear Doc and Jim. I recently installed Roku on te TV in the living room. I want to use this TV for Karaoke, but the YouTube interface is very difficult to use. Is it possible to use the YouTube client on my iPhone and simply mirror the screen to the Roku device? I have tried to do this can can’t figure it out. Love the show. Hac in Bowie, Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: The easiest way to look up Karaoke videos is to use the YouTube client on your iPhone. The YouTube client in Roku is very difficult to use. The good news is that Roku has a built in Chromecast capacity making screen mirroring very easy. First, you must got to setup in Roku and turn on screen mirroring for any device.
    • To begin with, go to “Network” and connect your Roku to the WiFi connection where the iPhone is connected.
    • After that, you need to set up your Roku Play device. Go to “Settings” and then choose “System”. Click “System update” to check whether your device is the latest version. If not, update it.
    • Once done, go back to “System”, choose “Screen mirroring” and enable its mirroring feature.
    • Right after setting up the Roku Play device, it is now time for you to mirror iPhone to Roku.
  • Now simply open the YouTube app on you iPhone and click the Chromecast icon. It will display the all-available Roku devices. Select the Roku device that is active on the mirroring TV. Any other app that supports Chromecast can also be mirrored.
  • Since Roku is a newly-developed technical product in terms of mirroring on television, there are some issues that you may face.
    • You may experience that a video takes some time to play. At that time, just wait for it and don’t be panic.
    • You may also find some time lag between the visuals and the audio of the video you are streaming.
    • The mirroring sometimes does not start while you stream iPad to Roku. Just turn it off and repeat the steps given above.
  • Email from Susan in Alexandria: Good morning, Gentlemen! So disappointed! Last week’s show teaser included a reference to a bug in the latest Windows 10 update that may delete some files, but time ran out before Dr. Shurtz got back to that topic.  Please do not forget to tell us “the rest of the story” next time! Thanks for “Tech Talk Radio.” Susan in Alexandria
  • Tech Talk Responds: Microsoft stopped the flawed update and have since fixed it. The new update does not delete files anymore. You are safe. I will cover it during today’s show.
  • Email from Lavona in Dumfries: Dear Doc and Jim. I am paranoid and all these smart home devices have me worried. Are they listening to my every word and collecting data 24/7? I feel like I am putting a spy in my house voluntarily. What are you thoughts about this? Lavona in Dumfries, Virginia
  • Tech Talk Responds: We are all paranoid about devices spying on us (and rightfully so). There have been so many stories about NSA hacks that allow smart televisions or laptops to spy on their owners. Are these worries justified.
  • Most smarthome devices need to be connected to the internet to function properly. This lets you control devices remotely from your phone or use voice commands to turn things on and off. Whenever you send a command to your devices, that data gets sent to the company that made that particular device.
  • If I’m away from home and I want to turn on my smart lights from my phone, I open up the Hue app and turn on the lights. That data gets sent to Philips to get processed. Whenever you activate Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant, your voice command gets sent to their servers for processing, and what comes back is the result of your voice command. These companies also store all of the voice commands you’ve ever said, but you can easily erase the history if you’d like. Wi-Fi cameras do the same—video recordings are stored in the cloud. So your Nest Cam recordings are stored on Nest servers. They’re encrypted, so only you can view the video recordings.
  • This is not spying, especially since you agree to all of this data getting sent to these various companies. Furthermore, your smart speaker is not continually recording your conversations 24/7. Yes, it is always listening for the wake word, but it is not recording.
  • Being spied on by the companies themselves is one thing, but users are also afraid of being spied on by hackers who break into their smarthome devices. There’s a legitimate fear around this for sure, and theoretically, it’s possible. The NSA has proven it. However, if you make sure that all of your devices are locked down with a password, as well as two-factor authentication (if available), you make it difficult for something bad to happen.
  • Furthermore, it is best to stick with reputable brands when buying smarthome products, rather cheap knock-off Chinese brands. The bigger, popular companies have a reputation to uphold, so it is always in their best interest to create a secure interface for their devices, whereas a cheap Chinese brand that no one has ever heard of doesn’t need to care.
  • Email from Phillip in Pittsburg, KS: Dear Doc and Jim. I would like to delete my Facebook account. However, I have stored so many of my pictures there. Is there a way to download all my pictures easily and quickly from my Facebook account? After I do that, how do I delete my account? Love the show. Phillip in Pittsburg Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can download all your Facebook information, including pictures. Go to Settings. Then click on Your Facebook Informationin the upper left-hand corner. From this window, you can both backup your data and delete your account. Click on Download your Information. You can download all of it at once, or you can select only the types of information and date ranges you want (like Photos and Videos). You can choose to receive your information in an HTML format that is easy to view, or a JSON format, which could allow another service to more easily import it. JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is a lightweight data-interchange format. Select high media quality to get your pictures and videos in the highest resolution. Downloading your information is a password-protected process that only you will have access to. It may take an hour or so to create your file, depending on the size of your Facebook page. The file will be compressed using zip. You will need software to read the zipped file. The file will be available for download for a few days.
  • One you have verified your data, you can delete your account. Go back to Facebook/Settings/Your Facebook Information. Click on Delete your Account and Information. Enter your password and a captcha, and, it’s done. There’s a 14 day cooling down period where you can log into your account and stop the deletion process. Don’t log in for two weeks and it’s gone for real. All your account data will be deleted from Facebook’s servers (although it can take up to 90 days to be fully removed).
  • Email from Dennis in Maryland: Dear Tech Talk. I do not like to be tracked while I am on the Internet. How can I hide my IP address while surfing the web? Dennis in Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: Your IP address is like your public ID on the internet. Any time you do anything on the internet, your IP address lets servers know where to send back information you have requested. Many sites log these addresses, effectively spying on you, usually to deliver you more personalized ads to get you to spend more money.
  • One of the big reasons that people hide their IP addresses is so that they can download illegal material without being tracked. One reason is geographic restrictions and censorship. Some content is blocked by the government in certain areas, such as in China and the Middle East. The other reason to hide your IP address is simply for more privacy and to prevent misuse of your personal information.
  • The two primary ways to hide your IP address is to use a virtual private network (VPN). This is an encrypted data stream through a proxy server. When you browse the web while connected to a VPN, your computer contacts the website through the encrypted VPN connection. The VPN forwards the request for you and forwards the response from the website back through the secure connection. If you’re using a USA-based VPN to access Netflix, Netflix will see your connection as coming from within the USA. I recommend a paid VPN service (Express VPN or Nord VPN). Installing a VPN is as simple as heading to the signup page, downloading the client app onto your device. Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, and Android are all supported.
  • Email from Don in Arlington: Dear Doc and Jim. I am looking to buy a new car and really want to use my iPhone with Waze for navigation. When will this be available in new car offering. Love the show. Don in Arlington
  • Tech Talk Responds: CarPlay is an Apple standard that enables a car radio or head unit to be a display and also act as a controller for an iPhone. It is available on all iPhone 5 and later models with at least iOS 7.1. While most of the CarPlay software runs on the connected iPhone, the CarPlay interface provides the audio and display connection to the infotainment system. CarPlay is controlled through the touch screen, rotary dial, trackpad, or buttons on the instrument cluster and steering wheel.
  • Most worldwide vehicle manufacturers have said they will be incorporating CarPlay into their infotainment systems over time. According to Apple’s website, all major vehicle manufacturers are partnering with CarPlay. Apple CarPlay is supported on more than 400 models through 2019. Some manufactures began adopting CarPlay in 2016, with the biggest expansion in 2018. Even Lexis is coming onboard for 2019 models. They were a major holdout. In addition, the recent Waze update now support Apple Carplay, so you won’t have to hold the phone while you are navigating.
  • Link to the supported cars: https://www.apple.com/ios/carplay/available-models/
  • Email from Feroze in Fredericksburg: Dear Doc and Jim. I have been installing devices that connect to my Wi-Fi router and they all have a WPS button. My Wi-Fi router also has a WPS button. What is this button used for and how does it work? Enjoy the show. Feroze in Fredericksburg.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is a network security standard to create a secure wireless home network. Created by the Wi-Fi Alliance and introduced in 2006, the goal of the protocol is to allow home users who know little of wireless security and may be intimidated by the available security options to set up Wi-Fi Protected Access, as well as maki.ng it easy to add new devices to an existing network without entering long passphrases.
  • To activate this setup, the user has to push the WPS button on both the access point and the new wireless client device. On most devices, this discovery mode turns itself off as soon as a connection is established or after a delay (typically 2 minutes or less), whichever comes first, thereby minimizing its vulnerability. During setup the all network information, including password and network name, are transferred to the new device automatically.
  • Email from Jeff in Gaithersburg: Dear Tech Talk. I have a Wi-Fi dead spots in my house and would like to fix them. Is there a way to extend my network without spending too much money? Enjoy the show live. Jeff in Gaithersburg
  • Tech Talk Responds: You have several options, ranging from directional antennas, a range extender, to a second router. I have tried them all at one time or another. The easiest option I believe is the range extender. Range extenders have gotten much better over the years and a now very easy to setup.
  • When choosing a range extender, it’s important to choose one that matches your router’s specs. For example, if you have a dual-band AC1900 router, get a dual-band AC1900 extender (or better). If your router supports Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) data streaming, which provides enhanced performance by sending data to compatible clients simultaneously rather than sequentially, look for an extender that supports this technology if you want to extend your MU-MIMO
  • There are two types of range extenders; desktop and plug-in. Most desktop extenders look just like a typical wireless router and are typically equipped with external adjustable antennas, multiple LAN ports and USB ports. Plug-in extenders are much smaller than their desktop counterparts and are inserted right into a wall outlet. Some models have external antennas, while others use internal antennas to present an unobtrusive profile. Plug-in extenders usually only have a single LAN port and lack USB connectivity. If you can’t afford to sacrifice a wall outlet, look for a plug-in model that offers a pass-through outlet.
  • But most of today’s routers and range extenders support WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup), which makes pairing the two as simple as pressing a couple of buttons, naming your new extended network, and creating a network password. Some (but not all) extenders are equipped with LED status indicators that tell you if the extender is too far from the router. I would recommend a plug-in extender for your situation. Try one first and add a second if you still have a dead spot. Two-band range extenders that support MU-MIMO are in the $100 to $125 range. Two-band range extenders without MU-MIMO are in the $50 to $75 range. Netgear and TP-Link range extenders are PC Mag editor’s choice.
  • If you’re considering upgrading your network with all new hardware, it’s worth looking into a mesh-based Wi-Fi system before you spend money on a traditional router. Wi-Fi systems are designed to blanket your home with wireless coverage and are made up of several networking components, including a main router and a series of satellite modules, or nodes, that you place throughout your home. They are all part of a single wireless network and share the same SSID and password, which means you can roam throughout your house without having to log into an extended network. Google Wi-Fi is the cheapest mesh coming in a $130 per node. Other meshes with PC Mag editor’s choices are made my Linksys, TP-Link, and Netgear, with costs ranging from $300 to $500 for either two or three nodes.
  • Email from John in Bethesda: Dear Tech Talk. I own an HP inkjet printer and the print cartridges are too expensive. I tried to refill my ink cartridge to save money and my printer is now rejecting it. I also tried buying cheaper cartridges from other companies and my printer rejected them. Is there anything I can do to save money on these printers. I am frustrated. Love the show. John in Bethesda
  • Tech Talk Responds: Printer manufacturers hate third-party ink cartridges. They want you buying the expensive, official ones. Epson and HP have issued sneaky “updates” that break these cheaper cartridges, forcing you to buy the expensive ones.
  • HP pioneered this technique back in 2016, rolling out a “security update” to its OfficeJet and OfficeJet Pro printers that activated a helpful new feature. Now, before printing, the printer would verify you’re using new HP ink cartridges. If you’re using a competitor’s ink cartridge or a refilled HP ink cartridge, printing would stop.
  • In late 2016 or early 2017, Epson started sending deceptive updates to many of its printers. Just like HP, Epson disguised these updates as routine software improvements, when really they were poison pills, designed to downgrade printers so they could only work with Epson’s expensive ink systems.
  • If you don’t like this extortion, your only option is to buy a laser printer with more economical toner cartridges. If you want to print photos, consider using a photo-printing service rather than buying an expensive photo printer, pricey photo paper, and endless overpriced ink cartridges.

Profiles in IT: Evi Nemeth

  • Evi Nemeth was an engineer known for her expertise in computer system administration and networks, best known as the Godmother of Unix administrators.
  • Evi Nemeth born June 7, 1940.
  • Evi Nemeth grew up in Vermont, got her bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Penn State University in 1961 and her PhD in mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Canada in 1971.
  • Nemeth worked in Boulder during the summers, starting in 1976.
  • Nemeth was an associate professor at Colorado University from 1980 to 2001, where she taught networks, data structures, UNIX tools and system administration.
  • What she was really known for at the university was developing undergrads. And that made a huge difference in the computer science program at CU.
  • Her math skills were proven when she found problems with the “Diffie-Hellman problem” used for cryptography. She has an Erd?s number of 2.
  • She bought a house in Sunshine Canyon in 1983 after getting on full time with Colorado University in 1980.
  • Nemeth actually purchased an old water pump house and transported it up the canyon. She relied on a wood-burning stove for heat and used composting toilets.
  • Her house burnt down in 2013 in a forest fire. She lost almost everything. She had plans to rebuild and had just bought a historic cabin on Main Street in Gold Hill.
  • In 1989 she wrote the Unix System Administration Handbook, which she revised in 1995 and 2000.
  • She also published the Linux Administration Handbook in 2002 (revised in 2006).
  • In 2010 authored the combined UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook.
  • All are best-sellers and explain the basics of network topology and administration simply and without recourse to hype.
  • Nemeth saw the need to simplify the arcane language of the IT industry, a language that sometimes did more harm than good.
  • In addition to teaching at several universities throughout her career, she spent eight years working with the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis at the University of California, San Diego.
  • She also organized the Internet Engineering Curriculum (IEC), a repository of IT training tools for the academic world, and worked with Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak to set up academic scholarships in the industry.
  • Evi Nemeth retired from teaching and bought a sailboat in 2002.
  • Nemeth was a keen and experienced sailor who devoted much of her time to on the water since her retirement, and was well-respected in the cruising community.
  • Nemeth was sailing off the western coast of New Zealand in a 21-meter vintage wooden schooner with its owner.
  • The boat disappeared and Evi Nemeth is presumed to have died June or July 2013.
  • The New Zealand authorities have formally called off the search for the cruiser.
  • The boat was last heard from on June 4, when Nemeth requested meteorological information about rough weather they were encountering.

App of the Week: Be My Eyes

  • Be My Eyes helps people who are blind or visually impaired “see” things with the help of sighted volunteers and the video cameras on their iPhones.
  • Through a direct video call the app gives blind people the opportunity to ask a sighted volunteer for help, for tasks that require normal vision. The person who is blind “borrows” the helper’s eyes all through his or her smartphone.
  • The sighted helper is able to see and describe what the blind person is showing the sighted helper by filming with the video camera in the smartphone. That way, by working together they are able to solve the problem that the blind person is facing. The Be My Eyes app is free and available in the Google or Apple App Store.
  • The idea behind Be My Eyes originates from the Danish 50-year-old furniture craftsman Hans Jørgen Wiberg, who started losing his vision when he was 25.
  • As of October 2018, By My Eyes has 97K blind registrants and 1.6M sighted volunteers. I have already registered and am waiting for my first call.

Don’t Give Apps Access to Your Email (Even to Save Money)

  • Some online services want full access to your email account, so they can scan it for purchases, travel plans, or annoying newsletters. Apps like these generally sell your private data.
  • When you sign up, you “connect” your email. This gives the service access to your entire email account. They can see every email you have ever sent or received as well as all new incoming and outgoing emails.
  • But the contents of your email are unusually personal. A company with access to your email account could take all kinds of personal data and sell it.
  • Your email isn’t just a repository for receipts and newsletters. It’s a central point from where you manage all your other accounts. If someone has access to your email, they can reset the passwords for everything from your online banking to your Facebook account.
  • This also applies when you give apps access to other accounts, such as your Facebook, Twitter, and Dropbox accounts.
  • We recommend you check which apps have access to your accounts, review them, and revoke any apps you do not use.

Facial Recognition To Help Women Find Egg Donors

  • Every year, thousands of women struggling with fertility issues use egg donors so they can have babies of their own.
  • However, getting a child who looks like them is generally left up to the doctor’s judgement and fate.
  • A European company called Ovobank has created a facial recognition app called Ovomatch that not only uses the recipient’s phenotypical characteristics—like height, hair color, eye color, skin color, etc.—but also facial characteristics to find the best match possible to ensure the child will look as much like the parents as possible.
  • Most countries in the world require anonymous egg donation, which means the real identity of the donor is never released to the recipient or the child once they get older.
  • It is the doctor’s job to find a donor that physically resembles the recipient. Not only can that be taxing for the doctor, but it’s also completely subjective.
  • With Ovomatch, the recipient need only enter a bit about their general characteristics, then snap a selfie. The app will do the rest, pairing the recipient with the best match from its donor database.
  • The recipient is not allowed to see what’s going on, nor do they ever see an image of the potential donor match.
  • After this process is carried out, the app sends out two reports: One to the collaborating IVF center so they can begin to program the treatment, and the other to Ovobank so that it can prepare the necessary paperwork related to the egg donation.

Idea of the Week: Hurricane Damage Assessment Imagery Online.

  • From October 11-14, 2018, the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) collected 9,580 aerial damage assessment images covering approximately 4,153 square miles in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.
  • Imagery was collected in specific areas identified by NOAA in coordination with FEMA and other state and federal partners.
  • Collected images are available to view online via the NGS aerial imagery viewer.
  • Aerial imagery is a crucial tool to determine the extent of the damage inflicted by flooding, and to compare baseline coastal areas to assess the damage to major ports and waterways, coastlines, critical infrastructure, and coastal communities. This imagery provides a cost-effective way to better understand the damage sustained to both property and the environment.
  • This imagery was also used by property owners to check on their property without driving to the site.
  • Some holdouts, who were trapped by the debris, put out help signs on their lawn and the imagery was used to direct rescue workers.

The Pareto Principle in Software Design

  • The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
  • Management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who showed that approximately 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.
  • In software design, 80% of your users use 20% of your features or 20% of the code causes 80% of the errors
  • There is a well-known maxim that goes “done is better than perfect”.
  • Imagine a floor for a moment. 80% of the traffic uses 20% of this floor. It makes sense to focus your cleaning efforts on that 20% since the most people use it. You will not have a 100% perfectly clean floor, but you will get 80% of the way there in 20% of the time.
  • MVPs (minimum viable products) are the Pareto Principle in action. An MVP is an approach to software and product development.
    • The approach can be summarized as: build the thing you want to build with the least amount of features to engage early adopters. Once you have got those early adopters, you can start to learn from them and use this research to develop your product iteratively and incrementally.
    • When building an MVP, you need to gather research on your target users, their needs and goals. This research will give you the knowledge to work out the 20% of the critical and necessary features of your product to get 80% of the user satisfaction.