Show of 03-23-2019

Tech Talk

March 23, 2019

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Dave in Elkridge: Hello Doc and Jim, I would like to set our Android and iOS phones to only connect to our home Wi-Fi network, and never to public Wi-Fi, whether in restaurants, airports, or wherever. We have a 10GB per month family plan that we never use up, so I would like to stay on the Cellular connection all the time, except when at home. But I don’t want to have to disable Wi-Fi every time we leave the house. When we return to the house, we always forget to re-enable Wi-Fi. Also, out in public, I don’t want pop-up Wi-Fi screens asking me to connect to a public Wi-Fi network. Thanks, Dave in Elkridge
  • Tech Talk Responds: You need to forget all networks that you don’t want to connect to. Go to each of those networks and bring up network properties. Then click on Forget this Network. Then you want to turn off Wi-Fi notification when another Wi-Fi signal is detected. Turn off Ask to Join Networks. I did both of these things a while ago and it works like a charm. If you have Sprint, you also have to turn off the Sprint Connection Optimizer. This will also be located in Settings.
  • Email from Allen in Kansas: Dear Doc and Jim. I have heard many people talk about tracing the route of packets on the Internet to see how many hops there are to get to the destination. How is that accomplished? Love the show. Allen in Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is done with an Internet service called Traceroute. Traceroute is a computer network diagnostic tool for displaying the route (path) and measuring transit delays of packets across an Internet Protocol (IP) network. The history of the route is recorded as the round-trip times of the packets received from each successive host (remote node) in the route (path); the sum of the mean times in each hop indicates the total time spent to establish the connection. Traceroute proceeds unless all (three) sent packets are lost more than twice, then the connection is lost and the route cannot be evaluated. Ping, on the other hand, only computes the final round-trip times from the destination point.
  • The traceroute command is available on a number of modern operating systems. On Apple Mac OS, it is available by opening “Network Utilities” and selecting “Traceroute” tab, as well as by typing the “traceroute” command in the terminal. On other Unix systems, such as FreeBSD or Linux, it is available as a traceroute command in a terminal. On Microsoft Windows, it is named tracert. You need to open the command window and type “tracert www.stratford.edu” to check the number of hopes to the Stratford University website.
  • Email from Allen in Kansas: Dear Doc and Jim. I have heard many people talk about tracing the route of packets on the Internet to see how many hops there are to get to the destination. How is that accomplished? Love the show. Allen in Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is done with an Internet service called Traceroute. Traceroute is a computer network diagnostic tool for displaying the route (path) and measuring transit delays of packets across an Internet Protocol (IP) network. The history of the route is recorded as the round-trip times of the packets received from each successive host (remote node) in the route (path); the sum of the mean times in each hop indicates the total time spent to establish the connection. Traceroute proceeds unless all (three) sent packets are lost more than twice, then the connection is lost and the route cannot be evaluated. Ping, on the other hand, only computes the final round-trip times from the destination point.
  • The traceroute command is available on a number of modern operating systems. On Apple Mac OS, it is available by opening “Network Utilities” and selecting “Traceroute” tab, as well as by typing the “traceroute” command in the terminal. On other Unix systems, such as FreeBSD or Linux, it is available as a traceroute command in a terminal. On Microsoft Windows, it is named tracert. You need to open the command window and type �tracert www.stratford.edu� to check the number of hopes to the Stratford University website.
  • Email from Lynn in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I recently bought a new TV with HDMI inputs. The salesman tried to sell a new set of cable that support HDMI 2.0. Do I really have to buy a new set of cables or will my old cable work? Love the podcast. Mai in Ohio.
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are only four cable designations that are legitimate and recognized by the HDMI organization: High Speed and Standard Speed.
  • Standard Speed cables have the bandwidth to handle up to 1080i and High Speed cables have the bandwidth to handle 1080p and 4K. There is a very good chance that your old HDMI cables will work fine with your new 4K TV, unless you purchased them before 2009. Because HDMI is a purely digital signal either the cable works or it doesn’t.
  • However, hardware was have version. Your receiver and other gear will also need to support 4K
    • HDMI 1.4, released in 2009: Supports 4K video, HDMI Ethernet, Audio Return Channel (ARC), and 3D over HDMI.
    • HDMI 2.0, released in 2013: Supports 4K video at 60 frames per second.
    • HDMI 2.0a , released in 2015: Supports for High-Dynamic Range (HDR) Video.
  • Email from Barbie in Reston: Dear Tech Talk. I have a Macbook Pro. I love this computer, but am required to run some software for my work that only supports Windows. What are my options. Love the show. Barbie in Reston.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Your best option is to use a virtual machine program to run Windows applications on a Mac without rebooting. For maximum performance, which is particularly necessary for gaming, you should use a dual-booting systems.
  • A virtual machine allows you to install Windows and other operating systems in a window on your Mac desktop. Windows will think it is running on a real computer, but it is actually running inside a piece of software on your Mac. You will need a Windows license to install Windows in a virtual machine. If you already have a product key, you can download Windows installation media for free and install it in a virtual machine program.
  • Popular virtual machine programs for Mac include Parallels and VMware Fusion. Each of these is a paid program, so you will have to buy both a Windows license and a copy of your virtual machine program of choice. You can also use the completely free and open-source VirtualBox for Mac, but its 3D graphics support and Mac operating system integration are not as good. Parallels and VMWare Fusion both offer free trials, so you can try all these programs and decide which is best for you.
  • Installing Windows as a real operating system on your Mac is the best idea if you want to play Windows games or use demanding applications that need all the performance they can get. When you install Windows on your Mac, you will be able to use Windows and Windows applications with the maximum possible performance. Your Mac will perform as well as a Windows PC with the same specifications.
  • Apple’s Boot Camp allows you to install Windows alongside macOS on your Mac. Only one operating system can be running at a time, so you will have to restart your Mac to switch between macOS and Windows. If you’ve ever dual-booted Linux on your Windows PC, it’s just like that. The downside here is that you can’t run macOS applications and Windows applications side-by-side at the same time.
  • Email from Carol in Manassas, VA: Dear Doc and Jim. What is the Mirai Botnet and how can I protect my devices? Carol in Manassas
  • Tech Talk Responds: First discovered in 2016, the Mirai botnet took over 500,000 IoT devices, created a large DDOS botnet. By 2019, Mirai has been tweaked and updated to target additional hardware. In particular, targeting enterprise links also grants it access to larger bandwidth, ultimately resulting in greater firepower for the botnet for DDoS attacks. This variant of Miria continues to attack consumer routers, cameras, and other network-connected devices. The original creators of the Marai botnet software were arrested, pleaded guilty, and given terms of probation. For a time, Mirai was shut down.
  • Mirai, like other botnets, uses known exploits to attack devices and compromise them. It also tries to use known default login credentials to work into the device and take it over. Always update the firmware (and software) of anything you have in your home or workplace that can connect to the internet. Change your devices’ administrator credentials (username and password) as soon as possible.
  • If your device manufacturer stopped releasing new firmware updates or it hardcoded the administrator credentials, and you can’t change them, consider replacing the device.

Profiles in IT: Ronald Gerald Wayne

  • Ronald Gerald Wayne co-founded Apple Computer with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. He sold his 10% share for a total of $2,300. He is the unluckiest man in tech.
  • Ronald Gerald Wayne was born May 17, 1934 in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • He trained as a technical draftsman at the School of Industrial Art in New York.
  • In 1956, he moved to CA. In 1971, Wayne started a slot machine sales business. The company failed. Wayne was a better engineer than a businessman.
  • In 1976, Ronald Wayne built the internal corporate documentation systems at the three-year-old Atari, where he met coworkers Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
  • Jobs proposed the founding of a computer company led by he and Wozniak. Those two would each hold a 45% stake so that Wayne could receive a 10% stake to act as a tie-breaker in their decisions. Wayne wrote a partnership agreement.
  • The three founded Apple Computer on April 1, 1976. Jobs secured a US$15,000 line of credit to buy product materials for Apple’s first order placed by The Byte Shop.
  • Wayne illustrated the first Apple logo and wrote the Apple I manual.
  • Wayne was 43 and the others were 22 and 23. All were personally responsible for debts incurred, but only Wayne had assets. He was worried about the risk.
  • Wayne was worried about the risk of this venture. Only he had assets.
  • Wayne felt the Apple enterprise would be successful, but that there would be bumps along the way. He just could not risk it, because of his prior unsuccessful business.
  • On April 12, 1976, he made the fateful decision to relinquish his stock for $800.
  • A year later, Wayne received an additional $1,500 to forfeit any additional claims.
  • Had he kept his 10% stock it would have been worth over $35 billion in August 2011.
  • Bu 2019, the market cap has risen to $900B. He share would have been $90B.
  • Wayne has stated that he does not regret selling the stock as he made the “best decision with the information available to me at the time”.
  • Wayne resisted Jobs’ attempts to get him to return and remained at Atari until 1978.
  • He joined Lawrence Livermore Labs and later an electronics company in Salinas, CA.
  • Wayne also ran a stamp shop in Milpitas, CA for a short time in the late 1970s. After a number of break-ins, he moved his stamp operations to Nevada.
  • Wayne, now retired and living a quiet lifestyle in a Pahrump, NV. He lives in a mobile home park selling stamps and rare coins.
  • He holds a dozen patents, mostly related to slot machines.
  • He never owned an Apple product until 2011, when he was given an iPad 2.
  • Wayne published Adventures of an Apple Founder on July 2011 and Insolence of Office, a socio-economic treatise, on October 1, 2011.
  • Wayne came out as gay to Jobs shortly after February 1974, while both men were employees at Atari. No one else at Atari knew..
  • Wayne described Steve Jobs as colder than an ice cube and ruthless at times.

Twelve Most Common Phishing Email Subject Lines

  • After analyzing 360,000 phishing emails over a three-month period, researchers at Barracuda Networks have detailed the most common lines used in phishing attacks.
  • The top subject lines according to Barracuda analysis are based around the following key phrases:
    • Request
    • Follow up
    • Urgent/Important
    • Are you available?/Are you at your desk?
    • Payment Status
    • Hello
    • Purchase
    • Invoice Due
    • Re:
    • Direct Deposit
    • Expenses
    • Payroll
  • To avoid falling victim to phishing attacks, cybersecurity researchers recommend the implementation of DMARC authentication (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) to avoid domain spoofing, along with the deployment of multi-factor authentication to provide users with an extra layer of protection. Those techniques should be combined with user training and the use of security software

Facial Recognition Used to Track Down Criminals

  • On a Saturday afternoon in late November 2017, a woman walked into a Wilco Farm store in Oregon, put a $130 pair of Georgia Boots in her purse and walked out. About 24 hours later, she turned herself in to the Washington County jail.
  • The speedy investigation was made possible by Amazon’s Rekognition, facial recognition software that let the Washington County Sheriff’s Office create its own searchable database of county jail mugshots.
  • CNET reviewed seven sheriff’s office reports that showed facial recognition being put to use in making an arrest. According to those reports, Rekognition played a role in five cases in identifying suspects who refused to give their names when approached by deputies.
  • Deputy Jeff Talbot, Washington County’s public information officer, said that the software has made deputies far more efficient and that his office’s work could serve as a model for the responsible use of facial recognition by police.
  • Rekognition, which Amazon introduced in late 2016, works by mapping out a person’s face and analyzing how many of its features match those of other faces in a database. One of the biggest benefits of this technology is that it’s not fooled by a new haircut or a different pair of glasses, things that might throw off the naked eye.

Locating a Webcam in Your Hotel Room or AirBNB

  • Hidden webcams have become a problem. One network of 1,600 webcams in bedrooms was streamed over a pay-per-view site on the Internet.
  • How can you detect a hidden webcam in your room?
    • Perform a common sense scan of the room (smoke detectors above the bed, motion sensors, clock radios, etc.). Anything that is out of place or at a strange angle.
    • Turn off the lights and look for any infrared emitters. Use the front camera on our iPhone because it does not have an infrared filter.
    • Use the flashlight on your smart phone (or a regular flashlight) to look for retro-reflections from the camera lens. This is the cause of the red-eye in pictures.
    • Use an application to IP scan for on the networks (Fing is a free app)
    • Use an application to scan for magnetic fields or electromagnetic interference (several hidden camera apps are available ($2.99 to $4.99)
    • Perform an RF scan to detect a device send RF data. RF scanners are expensive ($150). This is probably overkill and not worth the expense.

From Ten Years Ago: Adjustable Glasses

  • On March 23 1985, Josh Silver, a professor of physics at Oxford University, wondered whether glasses might be adjusted without the need for expensive specialist equipment.
  • What if it were possible, he thought, to make a pair of glasses which, instead of requiring an optician, could be tuned by the wearer to correct his or her own vision?
  • Might it be possible to bring affordable spectacles to millions who would never otherwise have them?
  • He has embarked on a quest to offer glasses to a billion of the world’s poorest people by 2020.
  • Some 30,000 pairs of his spectacles have already been distributed in 15 countries.
  • Silver has devised a pair of glasses which rely on the principle that the fatter a lens the more powerful it becomes. Inside the device’s tough plastic lenses are two clear circular sacs filled with fluid, each of which is connected to a small syringe attached to either arm of the spectacles.
  • The wearer adjusts a dial on the syringe to add or reduce amount of fluid in the membrane, thus changing the power of the lens.
  • When the wearer is happy with the strength of each lens the membrane is sealed by twisting a small screw, and the syringes removed.
  • The principle is so simple, the team has discovered, that with very little guidance people are perfectly capable of creating glasses to their own prescription.
  • Silver calls his flash of insight a tremendous glimpse of the obvious; – namely that opticians weren’t necessary to provide glasses.
  • Website: http://www.adaptive-eyecare.com/ now appears to be inactive.

Tesla Autopilot Steering Toward Highway Barriers

  • New dashcam footage shows a Tesla Model 3, with Autopilot switched on, veering towards a highway divider.
  • The video, recorded Tuesday and shared to Reddit on Wednesday, shows the Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot mode correctly avoiding the divider several times before a final run where the car steers toward the metal barrier so severely that the driver needs to intervene.
  • Tesla drivers have been recording this particular Autopilot behavior for months.
  • In one video from April, a Tesla driver demonstrates his car’s Autopilot steering him towards a highway divider where an autopilot-enabled Tesla Model X crashed just days prior, killing its driver. Another video shared to Reddit in October corroborates those stories.
  • According to research firm Navigant Research, Tesla’s self-driving car technology ranks 19th out of the 20 autonomous vehicle companies that it evaluated, only beating out Apple’s mostly-gutted autonomous vehicle division.
  • In the past, a number of car crashes have been chalked up to Tesla drivers not understanding the limitations of the Autopilot mode. Given the prevalence of this dangerous bug, drivers would be wise to be more cautious than ever before letting their semi-autonomous vehicles take the wheel.

From Ten Year Ago: Why Do We Have Fingerprints?

  • It looks like the purpose of fingerprints has been solved.
  • Of course, for a long time, it was assumed they were there to help pick up things…little traction pads.
  • Sliman Bensmaia of Johns Hopkins University has found another purpose: they help us feel things more accurately like surface texture.
  • Finger prints interact with the surface and create specific frequencies of vibrations into the skin.
  • It turns out that the finger print pattern improves the ability to sense texture.
  • Why the swirls? Because the sensory system only works when the finger motion is 90 degrees to the fingerprint.
  • The swirls allow it to work in any direction.

The New Rules of Communicating in the Digital Era

  • Connecting with people has become so much easier with advancing technology.
  • Tasks that once required an operator, postage stamp or carrier pigeon are now as simple as tapping a name or even a face on your screen.
  • There are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of others who have taken to social media to express their detest for people who don’t follow the unwritten ground rules of digital communication.
  • Fifteen unwritten rules of communicating according to Twitter
  1. Don’t randomly FaceTime people. If you want to Facetime, send a text or call first.
  2. One word texts like OK and LOL are conversation killers. Don’t respond with one word, unless you don’t want to talk anymore.
  3. If someone you know comments on a photo or video you posted, you should respond.
  4. If someone communicates to you using a certain form of communication, e.g. e-mail, then you are expected to respond using the same form of communication.
  5. Do not like your own posts. People see that, and it makes you look weird.
  6. Do not ask for likes, comments or shares.
  7. Do not take hours to respond without an excuse.
  8. You do not actually have to leave a voice message.
  9. If someone asks you multiple questions via text, do not just reply to part of the message.
  10. Do not post dozens of photos of cheezy quotes back to back.
  11. It is OK to text Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, etc. You do not have to call.
  12. Do not have one-on-one’s in the group-chat, better yet, rarely send group chats. They are mostly annoying and usually avoidable.
  13. Try not to deliver bad news via text. Do not deliver bad news via DMs.
  14. If you don’t get a response, you don’t have to get angry. It’s not always that big of a deal.
  15. If you have time to post on Snapchat, you have time to respond to text messages.