Show of 08-10-2019

 TECH TALK – Saturday, 10 August 2019

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments taken from previous shows.

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Jacob in Ashburn, VA: Dear Tech Talk. I have heard of a phone scam. Where callers leave a message and hand up. When you return the call, you reach a expensive toll line. Is there any way to protect yourself from this type of attack? Jacob in Ashburn
  • Tech Talk Responds: The “ring scam” is back. That’s when you get a phone call from a number you don’t know, and the call stops after just one ring. The scammer is hoping you will call back, because it is really an international toll number and will appear as a charge on your phone bill, with most of the money going to the scammer. You cannot tell if the number is a toll number until you get your bill. The FCC has issued with advisor: “Consumers Should Not Call Back Unknown Late-Night Callers Using the ‘222’ West African Country Code.”
  • Email from Jim in North Carolina: Dear Doc and Jim. I have heard about these devices that can report about problems with your car. They can notify the dealer or the owner when something is wrong. How do these devices work and are they worth it? Jim in North Carolina.
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you purchased a car after 1996, chances are it has an OBD-II (On-board diagnostics II) port. Every car or truck on the road manufactured after 1996 is legally mandated to have one installed. OBD-II is an on-board computer that monitors emissions, mileage, speed, and other data about your car. It is connected to the Check Engine light, which illuminates when the computer detects a problem. The OBD-II on-board computer features a 16-pin port located under the driver’s side dash. It allows a mechanic or anyone else to read the error code using a special scan tool. You simply plug the scan tool into the port and read the codes. You can also get a Bluetooth dongle for the plug and wirelessly connect to a scanner. If you use a laptop or smart phone to read the data, you will need to download the app that supports that particular Bluetooth scanner. You can get a scanner for under $50. Make certain that it support your car’s manufacturer. There is unfortunately some variation between how each manufacturer connects the plug. Some more expensive scanners support all OBD-II protocols and multiple manufacturers.
  • Bob in Fayetteville: Dear Tech Talk. I get a lot of Spam emails and would like to get rid of them. They all have a unsubscribe button at the bottom. This is worth it? Bob in Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: Whatever you do, don’t click that link! Clicking “Unsubscribe” in a fraudulent email will not result in your email address being removed from the scammer’s email list. What it WILL do is one, or both of the following:
    • Verify for the scammer that your email address is in fact a valid and active address.
    • Take you to a malicious website that will download malware onto your computer and/or trick you into falling for a scam offer of some sort.
  • The best way to handle SPAM and other forms of unwanted email is to simply mark them as “SPAM” or “Junk” (depending on which word your email provider uses) and then delete them without even opening them. If you accidentally click ANY link in a SPAM message you should first deal with the email as explained above, then thoroughly scan your computer for malware by following the steps listed in this post.
  • Email from Dennis in Texas: Dear Tech Talk. I get calls from sales people all the time. I try to block the number, but they keep changing the caller ID. Is it legal to have a fake caller ID? There is something fishy with those numbers. Love the show. Dennis in Texas
  • Tech Talk Responds: Calling (or texting) someone and having another person’s phone number show up in the recipient’s Caller ID display is called spoofing, and it happens all the time. Services like SpoofCard (https://www.spoofcard.com) make it extremely easy to spoof a phone number and trick the recipient into thinking the call or text is from either someone they know personally or from a local business.
  • Under the Truth in Caller ID Act, FCC rules prohibit anyone from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongly obtain anything of value. Anyone who is illegally spoofing can face penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation. However, spoofing is not always illegal. There are legitimate, legal uses for spoofing, like when a doctor calls a patient from her personal mobile phone and displays the office number rather than the personal phone number or a business displays its toll-free call-back number.”
  • As the passage above clearly states, spoofing a phone number without the intent to harm or defraud the recipient in some way is completely legal as long as no actual harm ends up being caused. Luckily, telemarketers ARE NOT allowed to spoof their phone numbers in any case, and there are no gray areas. But they still do.
  • My solution. Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers.
  • Email form Don in Baltimore: Dear Doc and Jim. My neighbor wants to use my WiFi. He is a nice guy. What is the risk? Should I do it your not. Don in Baltimore
  • Tech Talk Responds: You need to know him well because there is a risk. A man in Camden, New Jersey piggybacked onto his neighbors’ unprotected, open WiFi network and used it to download thousands of images and videos depicting child pornography onto his own laptop. Of course when the cops came looking for the culprit, they didn’t knock on the perpetrator’s door. Instead, they followed the digital trail of the crime to the home of the innocent neighbors because the illegal images and videos were downloaded using their Wi-Fi network. Since the couple were actually innocent of the crime, a thorough search of all the computers in the home found nothing incriminating so the police began to suspect a piggy-backing neighbor.
  • Luckily, the innocent couple was exonerated in this case and the real culprit was apprehended, but it’s never a good thing to have the police show up to search your home at 5:30am!
  • Another risk is that all your computers are can be accessed if you are not properly password protected. If you have someone on the network, make certain that any shared drives have passwords and are not simply open to the network. So do file and disk sharing carefully.
  • Email from Russel in Fairfax: I am an amateur photographer but I’m hoping to go pro before too long. I regularly upload some of my best photos to my Facebook profile to get feedback from my friends and other photographers. Someone told me that once I upload a photo to Facebook they automatically become the copyright holder of that photo and they can do anything they want to with it. Is that true. I am worried. Russel in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: When you take a picture you automatically become the copyright holder of that photo the instant it is taken. According to this page on the US Copyright Office’s website you will own the copyright to that photo until the day you pass away. Simply uploading a photo to your Facebook profile doesn’t affect that photo’s copyright in any way.
  • Facebook states it on this page of their Terms of Service (TOS).
    • “You own the content you create and share on Facebook and the other Facebook products you use, and nothing in these Terms takes away the rights you have to your own content. You are free to share your content with anyone else, wherever you want.”
  • When you upload a photo to Facebook’s website that does give Facebook the right to USE that photo in pretty much any way they see fit as long as they don’t share it with people who aren’t allowed to see it (based upon your privacy settings).
  • For example, if your privacy settings allow the Public to view your photos then Facebook is allowed to share them with everyone on Facebook via advertisements and other common uses as they see fit. What’s more, your “Public” photos can be also be shared with third parties outside of Facebook if those entities support Facebook in some way. Email form Doug in Baton Rouge: Shurtz and Jim. I have a problem! I dropped my landline phone and went with AT&T’s VOIP and router. Now I cannot use my USB Zoom fax dongle on my computer to send faxes through my router. After contacting Zoom about the problem, they stated that my Zoom model 3095 was analog and not DIGITAL. And furthermore they stated that they do not manufacture digital faxes. Having a fax “machine” is handy for sending documents that need to remain confidential; unlike emails that are not secure. I would like to find an inexpensive digital fax “machine” like the Zoom fax dongle that can be used through my computer USB port again. But, I hear conflicting information that using a digital fax going through a router is chancy at best or may not be supported. What are my options? Great podcast and so enjoyable! Thanks, Doug / Baton Rouge, LA
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are not any good options to fax over Wi-Fi because all standard faxing standards are analog and require a landline. Your best option is to use an online faxing service. He are a couple of services. There are many more. Just seach for free online faxing service.
    • FaxZero (https://faxzero.com/). Send a fax for free anywhere in the US and Canada (or many international destinations). You can upload a document or PDF file or enter text to fax. The free service places an ad on the cover page and is limited to a maximum of 3 pages per fax, up to 5 free faxes per day. If you need to send more than 3 pages, you can send a fax of up to 25 pages with priority delivery and no ad on the cover page for $1.99.
    • GotFreeFax (https://www.gotfreefax.com/). If you’d rather not have an ad on the cover page, consider GotFreeFax, which uses no-ad free fax cover pages and also doesn’t add any GotFreeFax branding to your fax. You can send faxes online to anywhere in the U.S. and Canada. You can send up to 3 pages per fax with 2 free faxes allowed per day. If you need to send more than 3 pages, GotFreeFax allows you to fax up to 10 pages for $0.98, 20 pages for $1.98, and 30 pages for $2.98.
  • Email form Susan in Alexandria: Good morning, Dr. Shurtz! In your show on April 27, 2019, Lien in Fairfax asked for advice about replacing an old Windows 7 computer. One option you mentioned was to “Simply stop using your computer and use a mobile device instead. These days more people access the Internet with a smartphone or tablet than with a traditional laptop or desktop computer. Then “Michael in Boston” said someone had hijacked his router.  Your advice was for him to connect the router to his computer with an Ethernet cable in order to setup stronger Wi-Fi security. So I am wondering:  How do you connect a smartphone or tablet to your router via an Ethernet cable?  Are there adapters to make the connection?  What’s involved? Thanks, Susan in Alexandria.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Many people want to connect an iPad to Ethernet. It can be done. You will need a Lightning to USB Adapter, USB Ethernet Adapter, a Powered USB Hub, and an Ethernet Cable
  • The reason you need a powered USB hub is because the USB Ethernet adapter requires more power than the Lightning to USB adapter cable can provide, so if you don’t have the powered USB hub, you end up getting a popup saying the device cannot power the adapter.
    • Disable WiFi on your iPad, as well as cellular data if it’s an LTE model.
    • Plug one end of the Ethernet cable into a free port on your router, and the other end into the Ethernet port on the USB Ethernet Adapter.
    • Connect the USB end of the adapter to any of the USB ports on the USB hub.
    • Connect a USB cable to the hub. Power the hub.
    • Connect the Lighting to USB Adapter to the other end of the USB cable.
    • Plug the Lightning end of the adapter into your iPad.
  • You might have to give your iPad a few seconds to recognize everything, but after that, you can launch Safari and begin surfing the web.
  • Email from Carl in Texas: Dear Doc and Jim. I own a small business with just a few employees. We share a common set of files that are stored in a shared folder on my Desktop PC, which mean I have to have my computer up and running 24/7. I’d love to go with a different setup, but I’d like to avoid having to buy and maintain a file server just to host a handful of Office documents. Can you tell me what my options are, and perhaps make a recommendation? Carl in Texas
  • Tech Talk Responds: A single NAS hard drive would be ideal for your situation. NAS stands for “Network Attached Storage”, and it allows everyone on a network to access the files stored on the drive(s) contained within the NAS enclosure. These devices are basically mini file servers that resemble common external hard drive enclosures (actually, that’s what they are). You simply connect the NAS device to your network, configure a few settings, and then get down to work!
  • NAS devices have several advantages over traditional file servers. They don’t require a keyboard, mouse or monitor since they can be administered from a remote PC, Mac or mobile device. They typically come with pre-installed software for backing up all the computers on the network.
  • You can buy NAS devices that will hold multiple hard drives, but given the size of your office staff and the small number of shared files, a device with two 8TB NAS hard drives should probably suffice. That will provide you with one drive for everyone to use to access the shared files and a second drive dedicated solely to storing backups. You can configure the drive in mirror mode so that you never lose data if one drive fails. I would augment the local back with cloud back like Carbonite.
  • A two-bay NAS example would be Synology 2 bay NAS DiskStation DS218, which is $298 on Amazon. You would still need to buy two hard drives. For instance, a Western Digital Red 4TB NAS Hard Disk Drive is $119 on Amazon.
  • Email from Alice in DC: Dear Doc and Jim. I have heard that anyone can clone your Facebook account and impersonate you. How can I prevent this from happening. Alice in DC
  • Tech Talk Responds: Account cloning, it’s where a scammer creates a completely new Facebook account in your name and populates it with photos and personal information they’ve copied from your real account. They then use the new fake account to send friend requests to all the people on your real account’s friends list. And since it appears to the friends receiving the friend requests that they were sent by you, some of them will accept it. This of course results in those friends now also being “friends” with the fake account that was created by the scammer. Scammers typically try to target accounts for cloning that have a fairly large number of friends.
  • Luckily, there’s one simple settings change that can make your account very unattractive to a potential scammer who might be interested in cloning it: Hide your friends list from the public. Setting the privacy of your friends list to “Only me” makes it an unattractive target for cloning because the scammers wouldn’t know who to send friend requests to from the cloned account. And if a scammer can’t add friends to a cloned account it’s virtually useless to him/her.
    • Access Facebook via a web browser on a laptop or desktop computer:
    • Log in to your Facebook account using your preferred web browser.
    • Click on your name in the upper right-hand corner in order to go to your Timeline.
    • Click the Friends link.
    • Click the pencil shaped icon just to the right of the “Find Friends” button.
    • Click Edit Privacy.
    • On the line that reads “Who can see your friend list?“, click the down arrow at the far right and select Only me. Then click Done.
  • You can go through a similar process with the cell phone client.
  • Email from Don in Fairfax: Dear Doc and Jim. My Windows computer is running very slow these days. It is annoying. How can I speed it up? Don in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are several things you can try.
  • Perform a thorough malware scan to find and remove any viruses or adware.
  • Remove any programs and apps that you do not use.
  • The next thing you’ll want to do is trim back your list of auto-loading programs to just the programs you really need.
  • Make sure that your PC isn’t over-heating. When many modern CPUs detect that they are running too hot they will reduce the system clock speed.
  • If your computer has 4GB or less of RAM, try doubling it to 8GB.

Profiles in IT: Kevin Systrom

  • Kevin Systrom is CEO and co-founder of Instagram, the photo-sharing application that was purchased by Facebook for $1B.
  • Kevin Systrom was born in 1984 in Holliston, a town 20 miles west of Boston.
  • He got his first computer at 12. His interest in computers was triggered by Doom 2.
  • His first programming languages were QBasic and Visual Basic.
  • He graduated from Middlesex School, a private school in Concord, MA, in 2002.
  • He was accepted to Stanford and initially focused on computer programming.
  • He was one of twelve chosen to participate in the Mayfield Fellows Program for entrepreneurs, leading to an internship at Odeo, the company that spawned Twitter.
  • He was offered a job at Facebook in 2005, but turned it down to finish school.
  • Kevin graduated from Stanford in 2006 with a BS in Mgmt. Science & Engineering.
  • He spent two years at Google. During the first, he worked on Gmail, Docs, Google Reader, and other products. He left after two years because he was not programming.
  • After leaving Google to join Nextstop, a location recommendation startup founded by ex-Googlers that was acquired by Facebook in 2010.
  • In 2009, he decided to launch Burbn.com, It was a competitor to FourSquare. It was check-in software with picture posting. He raised $500K in startup funds to launch.
  • Systrom and Mike Krieger, a fellow Stanford grad, built Burbn, a HTML 5 check-in service, into a product that allowed users to do many things: check into locations, make plans (future check-ins), earn points for hanging out with friends, post pictures.
  • They worked seven months on Burbn, but switched to Instagram in 2010, photo-sharing app, because they were so undifferentiated in the check-in space.
  • While on vacation in Mexico with his girlfriend, he decided to add filters to make photos look better. His girlfriend wanted to take awesome photos instead of snaps.
  • Instagram solved three problems: photo sharing, making photos gorgeous, photo sharing, and quick uploads. They started the upload while user was still picking filter.
  • Initially marketing was via email to his tech contacts in California. They loved it.
  • They showed it to Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter. He twitted that he loved it.
  • Instagram took just eight weeks to build. It racked up 25,000 users in 24 hours, 200,000 in the first week and 1 million in less than three months.
  • In February 2011, Instagram had 1.75 million users posting 290,000 photos a day. In 2011, raised $7 million from Benchmark.
  • In 2012, Instagram, along with 13 employees, was sold to Facebook for US$1 billion in cash and stock. Systrom’s 40% netted him $400M.
  • Under Systrom as CEO, Instagram grew to 800M monthly users in September 2017.
  • He resigned as CEO of Instagram on September 24, 2018.

WhatsApp Security Flaw allows Hackers to Install Malware

  • A newly discovered security flaw enables hackers to install a very dangerous piece of malware known as “Pegasus” onto your phone simply by dialing your phone number.
  • What’s more, the Pegasus malware will be installed on the phone even if you decline to answer the call.
  • Once Pegasus is installed the hacker will have complete access to every scrap of personal and financial data that’s stored on your phone.
  • Luckily, WhatsApp has released an update to the app that fixes the flaw.
  • This is what a WhatsApp company had to say: “WhatsApp encourages people to upgrade to the latest version of our app, as well as keep their mobile operating system up to date, to protect against potential targeted exploits designed to compromise information stored on mobile devices.”
  • If you have WhatsApp installed on your smartphone you need to update it with the latest (patched) version immediately.
  • You also need to ensure that everything else on your phone is up-to-date as well.
  • And if you have any kind of financial info stored on your phone (credit/debit card info, bank account info, etc.)
  • I strongly recommend that you keep a very close eye on those accounts AND your credit reports for the foreseeable future.

Invention of the Week: Pro Tech DNA Gel

  • A new technology is helping investigators return stolen property. Thousands of Central Floridians are using a nearly invisible gel that links back to their owners.
  • The gel is free for anyone who enrolls on Protech’s website.
  • Protech mails owners the gel in a package a few days after consumers sign up. People then spread it on their property using a wand and log the items into an online database, along with their contact information.
  • The company sends law enforcement agencies a microscope that clips onto smartphones. The microscope gives phone cameras the ability to zoom in close enough to read identification numbers on very tiny dots inside the gel.
  • “You don’t have to apply very much. There’s thousands of microdots in (the)
  • Investigators can track the stolen property back to the owner using their portal on Protech’s website.
  • Kissimmee Police say more than 3,600 people are using the gel in their area. The Police Department is now urging others to enroll and protect their property.
  • Link to Website: https://protechdna.com/

Facial Recognition coming to New York Schools

  • Lockport City School District will be the first US public school system to test a facial recognition program on students and staff.
  • The district begins the “initial implementation phase” for the Aegis software suite.
  • Aegis’ applications include a facial recognition tool, Sentry, that alerts school officials if anyone from the local Sex Offenders Registry enters a school or if any suspended students, fired employees or known gang members enters a school.
  • The company also offers Protector, a shape recognition tool that recognizes the top 10 guns used in school shootings, and Mercury, a forensic search engine that can review unattended video.
  • The district has already increased security measures in the past, like the “Raptor” ID System, which reviews the government-issued IDs presented by building visitors and alerts if they’re in the sex offender database.
  • Aegis’ system will not compile information on and track the movements of all District students, staff and visitors.
  • The software is limited to identifying whether an individual whose photograph has been entered into the system database is on district property.
  • The people in the database are those who aren’t allowed on the property.
  • If one is identified by Aegis’ software, it will alert staff.
  • In the case of the system identifying a gun, it immediately alerts police.

New Kilogram Standard, Le Grand K is Gone

  • On May 20th, World Metrology Day, the scientific community will officially change the definition of the kilogram.
  • For 130 years, the kilo has been defined by a physical cylinder of platinum-iridium alloy, known as Le Grand K and stored in a vault outside of Paris.
  • But every time scientists handled it, the cylinder lost atoms — an estimated 50 micrograms over its lifetime.
  • So, beginning Monday, the kilogram will officially be measured by a physical constant known as the Planck constant.
  • The change has been years in the making, and on May 20th, three other units of measurement — the ampere, kelvin and mole — will also get new definitions.
  • Those proved to be easier to update, as they weren’t based on a Victorian-era lump in France. The kilo will now correspond to the mass of an exact number of photons, or particles of light, of a particular wavelength.
  • With this change, the kilo will be defined in terms of seconds and the meter, which are physical constants and therefore more reliable than a man-made object.
  • It will give researchers far more accurate tools with which to make measurements and that could help reexamine the laws of physics.