Show of 04-20-2019

Tech Talk
April 20, 2019

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments taken from previous shows.

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from James Messick: Dear Doc and Jim. Profiles in IT suggestion is Steve Coast, who founded OpenStreetMap. A longtime listener. James Messick
  • Tech Talk Responds: That is an excellent suggestion. We will feature him in today’s show. He is the perfect candidate for Profiles in IT.
  • Email from Feroze in Fredericksburg: Dear Doc and Jim. I have heard a lot about 5G cellular. What is it and when will it be deployed. Love the show. We listen the live stream over Amazon Echo. Feroze in Fredericksburg
  • Tech Talk Responds: At the end of 2017, the wireless industry came up with the first official 5G standard. 5G has three advantages: greater speed (to move more data), lower latency (to be more responsive), and the ability to connect more devices at once. The standards bodies involved are aiming at 20Gbps speeds and 1ms latency.
    • 5G networks will use a type of encoding called OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing), which is similar to the encoding that 4G LTE uses.
    • 5G may also transmit data over the unlicensed frequencies currently used for Wi-Fi, without conflicting with existing Wi-Fi networks.
    • 5G networks are much more likely to be networks of small cells rather than huge towers radiating great distances. More cells equal more bandwidth.
  • AT&T has announced that it will launch in 12 cities by the end of this year. It will be probably be MM wave 5G, which requires dense networks of small cells (1,000 foot)
  • Verizon will start with a fixed 5G home internet service launching in three to five cities by the end of 2018. Verizon will follow with a mobile 5G network in 2019, the carrier has said.
  • T-Mobile is building a nationwide 5G network on the 600MHz band starting in 2019, with full national coverage by 2020.
  • Email from Alex in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I would like to check whether a few images that I have found on the web have been stolen. How can I do that? Enjoy the podcast. Alex in Fairfax.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You have two options: review the metadata or perform a reverse image search.
  • To check embedded copyright metadata, you can download the image and check using your operating system’s built-in tools or you can online metadata viewer like Metapicz. If it is there, the copyright data will be prominently displayed. If the copyright data doesn’t line up with the page where it’s posted, then there’s a good chance it’s being used without permission.
  • In the event that the metadata has been stripped out (and that is very easy to do), you can use reverse image search. Google’s is the most well known, but Bing also has a good one. TinEye is interesting, and their matching technology is better than most.
  • Email from Joan in Springfield: Dear Tech Talk. I have heard about bone conducting headphones. Are they the next great technology or just a gimmick? Enjoy the podcast. Joan in Springfield
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you often find yourself in a situation where you need to be aware of your surroundings but would also like to be able to listen to music, then a good set of bone conduction headphones may be right for you.
  • Instead of going inside or on top of your years, essentially blocking out most other sounds, bone conduction headphones transmit sound thought the bones in your skull.
  • Because they’re not blocking outside noise like most air conduction headphones do, sound quality won’t be quite as good. The sound won’t be as loud either, especially on the lower end. Here are a few good options
  • AfterShokz Trekz Air ($150) — It connects over Bluetooth 4.2, promises up to six hours of play time and 20 hours of standby, and charges in just two hours.
  • Vidonn F1 Titanium ($70) — It uses Bluetooth 4.1 for wireless connectivity, offers up to six hours of playback time and seven days of standby, and charges up in just two hours. Most of these metrics match that of the Trekz Air, making the F1 Titanium an excellent value.
  • AfterShokz Sportz Titanium ($50) – This is a wired headset. You will get 12 hours of playback time with these since they’re not also powering a Bluetooth module. Standby time comes in at 60 days, while the charge time is still a two hours. All solid numbers if you’re after a simple wired solution.
  • Email from Mary Margaret in Kansas: I have been using Chrome for quite awhile because it is more secure. Why does Google Chrome say website are not secure so often? Enjoy the podcast. Mary Margaret in Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: Starting with Chrome 68, Google Chrome labels all non-HTTPS websites as “Not Secure.” Nothing else has changed.
  • Chrome displays a lock and the word “Secure” when connected to an HTTPS site. Even if you enter passwords, provide credit card numbers, or receive sensitive financial data over the connection, the encryption ensures no one can eavesdrop on what’s being sent or alter the data packets while they’re travelling between your device and the website’s server.
  • This occurs because the website is set up to use secure SSL encryption. Your web browser uses the HTTP protocol to connect to traditional unencrypted websites, but uses HTTPS–literally, HTTP with SSL—when connecting to secure websites. Website owners have to set up HTTPS before it will work on their websites.
  • HTTPS also provides protection against malicious people impersonating a website. For example, if you’re on a public Wi-Fi hotspot and connect to Google.com, Google’s servers will provide a security certificate that is only valid for Google.com. If Google was just using unencrypted HTTP, there would be no way to tell whether you were connected to the real Google.com or to an imposter site designed to trick you and steal your password. For example, a malicious Wi-Fi hotspot could redirect people to these types of imposter websites while they’re connected to the public Wi-Fi.
  • BTW, these are all of the reasons that I use a VPN when connecting to a public hotspot. My data is encrypted whether the site is HTTPS or not.
  • Email from Lynn in Ohio: Dear Tech Talk. I am creating my own company to sell party supplies over the web. I don’t know anything about websites. About 5 months ago, I hired a web developer/marketer to create our site and handle our SEO. He created it in Drupal and began operation. However, the site has never been fully functional. We sought out alternative developers. Every one of them explained that he grossly over charged, under delivered and damaged our internet footprint. We are going to be working with a different company going forward.
  • He’s created a labyrinth of interconnected sites and it’s unclear who owns what or where it is actually hosted. He knows we are moving forward with a different company and he is threatening to either hold our sites ransom or arbitrarily shut them down unless we pay him over the top hosting fees. Love the show. Lynn in Ohio
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you own the domains and have the source code of your websites, it’s not a problem. Just hire another developer to move your sites to another hosting and continue with the development as if nothing happened. It won’t take much time to move everything.
  • If the rogue developer owns your domains, it’s harder. He can just turn them off anytime. You’ll need help from a domain name lawyer to get them back. The results are not guaranteed if the domain names are not protected by your trademark. So the first step will be getting the domains.
  • If you don’t have the source code from the site, it’s also not a big problem. Just hire a developer, who’ll download all the HTML/CSS of your existing websites and make a new Drupal or WordPress template and move the content. Then he’ll just make new installs for those websites on a new hosting. The complexity and time requirements of this task are low, unless you have some custom programmed features on those websites that take time to replace.

Profiles in IT: Steve Coast

  • Steve Coast is best known as founder of the OpenStreetMap community-based world mapping project and CloudMade, a geography-related company.
  • He was born December 20, 1980 in the UK and raised in Walderslade and London.
  • In the summer of 1999, Coast interned with Wolfram Research. He built polyhedra models in Mathematica.
  • In 1999, he enrolled in University College London, majoring in Computer Science.
  • In 2002, he was hired as a software engineer for Xrefer. He built graph layout algorithms to visualize the connections between large scale factual reference works.
  • In 2004, he founded the OpenStreetMap Foundation. He wrote all the early software, gave hundreds of talks, ran the mailing lists, maintained the server infrastructure.
  • He did initial mapping by riding a bike around London with a laptop and GPS.
  • He hosted mapping parties, where interested individuals would completely map small area in one weekend (like the Isle of Wright).
  • The project now has 1.6 million active contributors and is the de-facto map for large areas of the world. It has become the Wikipedia of maps.
  • In 2005, he received a BS in Physics from University College London.
  • In 2005, Coast co-founded Z.X.V. Consultancy with three friends.
  • In 2008, Coast moved to the US, first to San Francisco and later to Colorado.
  • In 2008, he co-founded Cloud Made, which attempted to be the RedHat of open source maps. It raised VC money from Nikolaj Nyholm and Sunstone Capital.
  • CloudMade provided a platform for software developers to build geo-enabled applications using of OpenStreetMap data.
  • He resigned from CloudMade in October 2010, although he remained a shareholder.
  • By 2015, CloudMade had pivoted twice, first to focus on location-based in-game advertising (“Zigi”) and more recently to the “connected car” market.
  • In 2011, he moved to Microsoft as Principal Architect. He wrote software for Bing Maps using open data.
  • In 2013, he moved to Telenav as Head of Open Source Mapping. He helped define product direction and community engagement. The company shipped Scout, the first turn-by-turn navigation system that used OpenStreetMap.
  • In November 2015, Coast published “The Book of OSM”. The book contains 15 interviews conducted by Coast with various users who had participated in the project.
  • In 2017, Coast was hired as Senior Manager at DigitalGlobe, the leading provider of high-resolution Earth imagery, data and analysis.
  • He has served as advisor to a number of tech companies, including Parknav, ChoreHat, what3words, MapJam, Auth0, SpaceKnow, and Navmii.
  • Open Street Map Link: https://www.openstreetmap.org/

Smart Vacuum Cleaner Hacked: Camera Accessed

  • Two researchers with enterprise security company Positive Technologies discovered vulnerabilities affecting the Dongguan Diqee 360 line of robotic vacuum cleaners and have shared details of the security flaw.
  • The vacuum cleaners, manufactured by Chinese smart home manufacturer Diqee, are equipped with Wi-Fi and a 360-degree camera for a mode known as “dynamic monitoring” that turns the machine into a home surveillance device.
  • The remote code vulnerability can give an attacker who obtains the device’s MAC address system admin privileges. The vulnerability is contained within the REQUEST_SET_WIFIPASSWD function and exploiting it requires authentication, though a default username and password combo is common (admin/888888).
  • The researchers suspect that the vulnerability in the Dongguan Diqee 360 robotic vacuum model might affect other products sharing the video module, including outdoor surveillance video cameras, smart doorbells and DVRs. Diqee also manufactures vacuums sold under other brands, as well, and researchers suspect that those devices would also be affected by the vulnerability.
  • The vacuum does come equipped with a privacy protection cover. Positive Technologies informed the manufacturer of the vulnerability, although no information is available yet about a patch.

Study of the Week: Women’s Pockets Too Small for Cellphone

  • According to The Pudding’s findings, pockets in women’s jeans are, on average, 48 percent shorter and 6.5 percent narrower than those of men’s.
  • The site says that only 40 percent of women’s front pockets can completely fit a iPhone X. The number only goes down for the Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel (20 percent and 5 percent).
  • The Pudding marks a 100 percent success rate for the iPhone X, 95 percent for the Samsung Galaxy, and 85 percent for the Google Pixel.
  • They measured 80 pairs of jeans that all had a 32 inch waistband, meaning that these jeans were all made to fit the same size person.

An Emergency SOS Feature on Your iPhone

  • The Mollie Tibbetts tragedy reminded us how important an SOS functions can be.
  • The iPhone has a lifesaving SOS feature that few iPhone owners know about.
  • It allows you to summon emergency services to your location without dialing a phone number or even looking at your phone.
  • You can call 911, send your geolocation, and notify family or friends without ever actually dialing. All you need to do is one of the following:
    • Press the power button on your iPhone in rapid succession five times and then slide the SOS bar across the screen.
    • Press and hold the Power button and one of the volume keys continuously
  • Be sure to read all of the instructions, adjust your SOS settings, and test this out to make sure it works as you expect it to.
  • Similar features are provided on some Android phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy.
  • Here’s how to make the call on iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus:
    • Press and hold the side button and one of the Volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears.
    • Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services.
  • Here’s how to make the call on iPhone 7 or earlier:
    • Rapidly press the side button five times until the Emergency SOS slider appears.
    • Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services.
  • To set it up, go to Settings/Emergency SOS. Select Auto Call. Choose Countdown Sound if you want a warning sound. I chose to keep the countdown silent.

Chemistry of Dyeing Easter Eggs

  • People have been dyeing fabrics and other items for many years. In fact, the earliest written record of the use of dye is from thousands of years ago in 2600 BC.
  • In 715 BC, Romans were already dyeing wool. People have used many different substances to dye fabrics and other materials, including a purple dye made from a sea snail called a murex. This dye was expensive and purple became the color of emperors and kings.
  • Dyeing Easter eggs is also a very old tradition. In the Ukraine, coloring eggs with wax and dye is called pysanky, and it has likely been practiced since ancient times.
  • In North America, people often dye eggs using plant or commercial dyes.
  • Food coloring is an acid dye. It bonds using hydrogen, and this chemical process only works in an acidic environment. Vinegar is added to the solution to make it acidic.
  • Vinegar is acidic and contains around 3% acetic acid. When you add vinegar to water, it creates ideal conditions for food coloring to dye the egg.
  • Since eggs are made out of calcium carbonate, this calcium in the shell reacts with the acid in the vinegar to make carbon dioxide. If you place an egg in vinegar and water, you can often see that chemical reaction taking place as bubbles of carbon dioxide form in the liquid.
  • We will experiment with different amounts of vinegar. Will the eggs in the vinegar get darker or lighter than the eggs in the water, or will they all be the same?
    • Get three containers and fill each one with a cup of distilled water. Distilled water is usually neutral, with a pH of 7.
    • Add several drops of food coloring to each container (
    • Add a teaspoon of vinegar to the first container and two teaspoons to the second.
    • Using a spoon, place a white egg into each container.
    • The egg that was immersed in the most vinegar is the brightest.