Show of 08-03-2019

Tech Talk

August 3, 2019

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Brian in Kansas: Dear Tech Talk. I have an OfficeJet 8500 and keep getting a paper jam message. I can’t find any paper jam. I need my printer and it won’t work. What are my options? Brian in Kansas
  • Tech Talk: Paper jam can be problem, particularly if you pull the paper out backwards when trying to fix a jam. In the 8500 you will need to use a flashlight to look for small bits of paper. First pull out the paper tray and look for lose paper. Then go to the back and remove the duplexer and look for paper. Open the duplexer and look for paper. If that does not work, open the printer lid an look for paper. This is where you will need a flashlight. Make certain to move the print head and look both sides. If this still does not work, remove the print heads and look again. You last option is to clean the rollers in the back of the printer with distilled water and a clear cloth. You will need to remove the duplexer in the back. If none of these work, you will need servicing.
  • Email from June in Burke: Dear Doc. I do not know if you have mentioned this on your show, but do you recommend a data blocker you can use if plugging into a public WiFi or rental car connection. June, security conscience in Burke.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are right. When you plug your smartphone into a USB drive, your cell phone is at risk. If there is malicious software in the charging station, your phone is compromised. However, if you use your charger and plug it into the 110 outlet, you are safe. The same is true of the USB ports in an airplane, but that may be safer because those systems are not open to the public.
  • Email form Al in Waldorf: Hello Doc & Jim, Long time listener in Waldorf, Maryland. I have heard your concerns about public w-fi without using a VPN.  As a former Intel guy, I always think security and avoid putting anything personal on the air. My question is about the security of computers in hotel business centers.  I travel a few times a year, do not have a smartphone and would like to check E-Mail to avoid returning home to hundreds of days-old E-Mails.  I worry about the security (or lack thereof) of these hotel computers and putting the password to my E-Mail account into such a computer. Might it be possible to detect if malware or a keylogger might be installed? Thanks again for your interesting show. Al in Waldorf, MD.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Cybercriminals utilize low-cost key logging software to steal sensitive data and guest information from hotel guests who used business center computers. All they need is physical access to the computer to complete the installation of keylogger software. Key logging software captures every key entered by the user of that computer, thus if a guest entered their username and password, that information would be sent to the cybercriminals who could then access the victim’s account. The keylogger malware captured the keys struck, subsequently sending the information via email to the malicious actors’ email accounts.
  • It’s a really bad idea to use hotel business center computers, even to just check email. It is especially bad when your email password is the same as all of your other passwords (Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Twitter, TurboTax, banking, etc.)
  • Two factor authentication and unique passwords across all of your accounts can help protect you, but most people don’t take the time to establish such simple countermeasures. You could also use a disposable email account, if you want to print a document at the business center. Send the document to this disposable account and print it.
  • Email from Richelle in Falls Church: Dear Tech Talk I am considering taking an online class and am wondering whether distance education as effective as traditional classroom delivery? Enjoy the show. Richelle in Falls Church
  • Tech Talk Responds: Yes, it is if the student is mature and disciplined. The real value of online delivery is not the presentation of lecture material remotely, but rather the ability to allow the students to interact with the teacher and the other students. Threaded discussions allow the students to reason online. If the teacher can engage the students through thoughtful discussion and questions, the critical thinking within the classroom is better than in a tradition classroom because it is written.
  • For this reason, the best delivery method is blended. The students have a classroom session with interaction, questions, and some lecture. Then they complete a challenge question online to demonstrate critical thinking in written form. This form of delivery can be effective for most students.
  • Jim in San Diego: Dear Doc and Jim. I heard that Capital One was hacked. I have an account with them. Should I be worried or do anything quickly? Jim in San Deigo.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are correct Capital One was hacked. Approximately 100 million people in the US and 6 million in Canada were affected. Approximately 140,000 Social Security numbers were compromised. Approximately 80,000 linked bank account numbers were compromised. The breach also included personal and financial information. Capital One did say that no credit card account numbers or usernames and passwords were compromised. It is believed that the person alleged to have stolen all this data was arrested before she had the opportunity to use or sell any of the stolen information.
  • If you were one of the 100 million Capital One customers that were affected by this breach, Capital One will be contacting you ASAP to let you know about it. They will also be providing you with instructions for signing up for the free credit monitoring and identity protection services they are making available to all affected customers.
  • Email from John in Scranton: Dear Tech Talk. I have heard so much about phishing emails. How can I protect myself from them? It seems that they come almost everyday. Love the show. John in Scranton, PA
  • Tech Talk Responds: These “phishing” emails usually claim to be from your bank, PayPal, Amazon, Facebook or some other online entity that has a legitimate reason for keeping your financial information on file. The goal of these crooks is usually to get you to click a link in the email that takes you to a fake, but real-looking login screen for a website you actually do use. Like the email itself, the fake login screen will look extremely authentic, complete with logos and often valid contact information. In fact, the fake site will often look virtually identical to the firm’s real website. When you try to log in to the fake site you’ll find that the login form doesn’t work.
  • You’ll simply get a legitimate-looking error message after typing in your username and password – but by then the crook has already recorded your login credentials. Once he has your login information the crook will log into your account on the real website and can take over your account.
  • Phishing emails are actually pretty easy to spot. Here’s how:
    • The email will almost never be addressed to you directly. Instead, it will usually say something like “Hello, valued PayPal customer”. Sometimes it will simply refer to you by your email address. In contrast, a legitimate email from a reputable company will almost always address you by your name.
    • The content of the message itself will often use poorly constructed English, as if it had been written by a non-native English speaker (and in many cases it probably was since lots of these fraudulent emails originate overseas).
    • You will be asked to click a button or link to visit the company’s website to either login to your account or update your personal contact info and/or credit card or bank account info. This is a huge red flag!
  • If you suspect that an email is fraudulent but you just can’t tell for sure, don’t click any links contained in the email. The safest thing to do is visit the website directly (preferably from a known-good bookmark that you’ve used in the past) and log in to your account from there. If there’s something that truly needs to be updated, you’ll almost certainly be alerted to that fact as soon as you log in.
  • If you do happen to slip up and click on a link in a fraudulent email, I recommend that you do the following things, in this order:
    • If the service in question supports it (and most legitimate online services do these days), enable Two-Factor Authentication on the account.
    • Change your password on the account to a new password that’s easy to remember, yet very secure. This post explains how.
    • Run a thorough malware scan on your Windows PC. If you have a Mac, scan your machine with Malwarebytes for Mac.

Profiles in IT: Guido van Rossum

  • Guido van Rossum is a Dutch computer programmer who is best known as the author of the Python programming language.
  • Guido van Rossum was born January 31, 1956 in the Netherlands.
  • He received a master’s degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Amsterdam in 1982.
  • In 1982, he was hired by the Dutch company, CWI, in Amsterdam, where he worked on the ABC programming environment for beginners, distributed operating systems, and authoring software for multimedia presentations.
  • In December 1989, he was looking for a “hobby” programming project that would keep him occupied during the week around Christmas, when his office was closed.
  • He decided to write an interpreter for the new scripting language for Unix/C hackers.
  • He chose Python as a working title, inspired by Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
  • Python became an interpreted, object-oriented programming language.
  • In April 1995, he became a guest researcher for the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, working at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI) in Reston, Virginia.
  • In May 2000, he became a full-time employee CNRI doing the same work.
  • His NIST research was on mobile agents in distributed systems using interpreted languages. Most of the work involved Python.
  • In 2000, Guido was hired by BeOpen.com as Director of Python Labs.
  • In 2003, he was hired by Zope Corporation as Director of Python Labs.
  • In 2005 he was hired by Google, spending his time developing the Python language.
  • While working for Google, Van Rossum developed Mondrian, a web-based code review system written in Python and used within the company.
  • In the Python community, Van Rossum is known as a “Benevolent Dictator For Life” (BDF and continues to oversee the Python development process. However, he gave up this position in April 2018 and passed the mantle to others.
  • In January 2013, Van Rossum started working for Dropbox. Python has been a backbone of Dropbox since its early days.
  • Python has grown to become a popular programming language and is one of the most used languages at hackathons. It is a great first programming language.
  • Van Rossum received the 2001 Award for the Advancement of Free Software from the Free Software Foundation for his work on Python.
  • In 2006, Van Rossum was recognized as a Distinguished Engineer by the Association for Computing Machinery.
  • Guido lives in Belmont, California with his wife, Kim Knapp, and their son, Orlijn.
  • His website: https://www.python.org/~guido/

Why Python is Popular despite Being Slow

  • Python is one of the most widely used programming languages, and it has been around for more than 28 years now.
  • Python is popular because it is highly productive as compared to other programming languages like C++ and Java.
    • It is much more concise and expressive language and requires less time, effort, and lines of code to perform the same operations.
    • The Python allows developers to write very fewer lines of code for tasks that require more lines of code in other languages.
    • The language has a rich set of standard libraries and frameworks for several purposes.
    • This makes Python very easy-to-learn programming language even for beginners and newbies.
    • Python programs are slower than Java, but they also take very less time to develop, as Python codes are 3 to 5 times shorter than Java codes.
  • Python execution time is slower than “lower-level language” like C;
    • With Python, the code looks very close to how humans think. For this purpose, it must abstract the details of the computer from you: memory management, pointers, etc.
    • Python is interpreted and not compiled: During the execution, Python code is interpreted at runtime instead of being compiled to native code at compile time;
    • Python is a dynamically typed language: Unlike “statically-typed” languages like C, C++ or Java, you do not have to declare the variable type like String, boolean or int.
    • The less you do, the more your computer has to work. For each attribute access, requires a lookup.
    • Python prevents multi-threading by mandating the interpreter only execute a single thread within a single process (an instance of the Python interpreter) at a time.
  • Development time matters more in most cases rather than execution speed.
    • 90% of the time, slower performance of Python does not matter because end-users just don’t care about the difference between 0.001 seconds or 0.01 seconds.
    • Computer, servers and other hardware have become much cheaper than ever and speed has become a less important factor.
    • Faster prototype and deliver enable companies to innovate and get ahead of the competition.
  • However, it is also not suitable for speed-intensive applications including games that require high-performance, Operating Systems, or system-level applications.

Amazon Owns Nearly Half Of The Public-Cloud

  • According to Gartner, the worldwide infrastructure as a service (IaaS) market grew 31.3% in 2018 reaching $32.4 billion, up from $24.7 billion in 2017 with Amazon Web Services (AWS) once again being the top vendor, owning nearly half of the overall public-cloud infrastructure market (47.8%), leading by a wide margin Microsoft (15.5%), Alibaba (7.7%), Google (4%), and IBM (1.8%).
  • In 2018, all the top five IaaS providers saw double-digit revenue growth.
  • In 2018 Amazon cloud revenue reached $15.5 billion in revenue, up nearly 27%.

Police are Giving Ring Doorbell Cameras in Exchange for Info

  • Amazon-owned Ring has partnered with police department to combat crime.
  • The El Monte California Police Department has entered into an official partnership with Ring, which gives officers access to an online platform where they can ask citizens for footage from their doorbell cameras that may be connected to a crime investigation. 1,
  • In exchange, police departments promote the use of Ring’s cameras and its associated crime watch app, Neighbors. Since EMPD first start with Ring, they have added over 1,000 new users to their system.
  • Over 225 other police departments have entered into contractual partnerships with Ring, which was acquired by Amazon last year for over $800 million.
  • Some departments have given out free or discounted Ring devices to the community, and many are subsidized using taxpayer money.
  • Ring believes that its products can drastically reduce crime in communities, but critics have questioned the grounds for those claims. Others accuse the Neighbors app of creating a surveillance state.

Boeing changing Max software to use 2 computers

  • Boeing is working on new software for the 737 Max that will use a second flight control computer to make the system more reliable, solving a problem that surfaced in June with the grounded jet, two people briefed on the matter said Friday.
  • When finished, the new software will give Boeing a complete package for regulators to evaluate as the company tries to get the Max flying again.
  • The Max was grounded worldwide after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed a total of 346 people.
  • Use of the second redundant computer, would resolve a problem discovered in theoretical problem simulations done by the Federal Aviation Administration after the crashes.
  • The simulations found an issue that could result in the plane’s nose pitching down. Pilots in testing either took too long to recover from the problem or could not do so, one of the people said.
  • In the new configuration, both of the plane’s flight control computers would be monitored by software instead of the current one, and pilots would get a warning if the computers disagreed on altitude, air speed, and the angle of the wings relative to the air flow.
  • Only one computer and one sensor was used in the past, because Boeing was able to prove statistically that its system was reliable.
  • The company has said it expects to present the changes to the FAA and other regulators in September, and it hopes the Max can return to flight as early as October.

Pentagon testing mass surveillance balloons across the US

  • The US military is conducting wide-area surveillance tests across six midwest states using experimental high-altitude balloons, documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reveal.
  • Up to 25 unmanned solar-powered balloons are being launched from rural South Dakota and drifting 250 miles through an area spanning portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri, before concluding in central Illinois.
  • Travelling in the stratosphere at altitudes of up to 65,000ft, the balloons are intended to “provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats.
  • The balloons are carrying hi-tech radars designed to simultaneously track many individual vehicles day or night, through any kind of weather.
  • The tests have been commissioned by the US Southern Command (Southcom), which is responsible for disaster response, intelligence operations and security cooperation in the Caribbean and Central and South America.
  • The new balloons promise a cheap surveillance platform that could follow multiple cars and boats for extended periods.
  • The balloons also have advanced mesh networking technologies that allow them to communicate with one another, share data and pass it to receivers on the ground below.

Bird is making Paris its Second Home

  • Bird is planning to build a new hub in Paris and hire 1,000 people over two years to help spur the growth of its scooter-sharing service across the European continent.
  • Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden said the hub the company’s second European home.
  • Bird first launched its dockless, electric scooter rental business in Paris last August.
  • Since then, its scooters have become a ubiquitous sight in the City of Lights.
  • The hub will complement Bird’s service center in Paris, where employees perform maintenance on the company’s fleet of e-scooters.
  • A dozen startups operate approximately 20,000 scooters in Paris, a number that is expected to double by the end of the year.
  • The lack of regulations surrounding their use and storage has prompted Paris officials to impose a list of fines for infractions.
  • Starting July 1st, a spot fine of $40 will be levied on bad parking, while those caught on the sidewalk will be hit with a $152 penalty.
  • A speed limit of 12.5 mph has been imposed across the capital.
  • More than 1,000 tickets have been issued and about 600 scooters impounded and a new surveillance force has been set up.

Bird’s Releases a New Scooter Model – Bird Two

  • Bird Scooters has just unveiled the Bird Two, its most durable and advanced design yet.
  • Set to begin replacing its existing fleet of escooters across the U.S. in the fall, the Bird Two incorporates self-reporting damage sensors that alert Bird mechanics to any issues that occur as the rideable transports people around town.
  • Tires that won’t puncture are also part of the new design, as is an anti-tipping kickstand, which will hopefully help Bird to end complaints from pedestrians about its scooters being strewn across sidewalks.
  • The Bird Two does not have exposed screws. The seamless design means it should be a lot harder for vandals to dismantle the escooter.
  • Now all Bird needs is some kind of anti-throw-in-the-river system and it’ll be well
  • The scooter’s battery has 50% more capacity than its predecessor, which suggests it could have a range of some 60 miles.