Show of 09-21-2019

Tech Talk

September 21, 2019

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Jim in Michigan: I have an older Sony stereo system that I’d love to connect some Bluetooth speakers and headphones to. The problem is the stereo doesn’t have Bluetooth built in. Is there any way to connect Bluetooth speakers/headphones to one of these old non-Bluetooth stereos? Jim in Michigan
  • Tech Talk Responds: I’ll be glad to answer your question George, and the answer is yes. You can indeed connect Bluetooth speakers and headphones to an older stereo system or TV by using an device called a Bluetooth Transmitter/Receiver. TaoTronics Long Range Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter Receiver is a good option ($49 on Amazon). These devices are very affordable, and they work quite well. They are also pretty easy to install and configure. All you have to do is connect the device to your stereo’s audio output jacks and then pair the speakers to the transmitter. Once the devices are paired with each other you’ll be able to place the speakers or headphones anywhere that’s within range of the transmitter’s Bluetooth signal and listen to the music you love via your older stereo equipment!
  • Email from Doug in Arlington, VA: Dear Doc and Jim. I can’t log into my router because I lost the password and I need to log into it to make some much-needed changes. I’m so frustrated right now that I’m seriously thinking about not even putting a password on my router and Wi-Fi connection once I manage to get into the settings screen again! I heard there are programs that you can download from the Internet that’ll hack into your router and give you the password. Can you recommend a good one? Doug in Arlington, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: The best way to solve your problem is to reset your router back to factory defaults. Then you will be able to log into it using the default username and password. You’ll need your router’s user manual in order to reset the router back to the factory default settings. Just make sure you download the manual for your specific router brand and model. If you no longer have the manual, you should be able to access an online copy of it or even download a free .PDF copy from the manufacturer’s website. Performing a factory reset on a router typically involves pressing and holding a reset button for a few seconds. After you have reset your router, log into the settings utility by following the instructions listed in the manual. This typically involves plugging your router into your computer with an Ethernet cable, then visiting your router’s IP address with a web browser and logging in using the default username and password that is listed in the manual. Once you have successfully logged into your router using the default username and password, you can change them and make any other changes that you wish to make.
  • While I can certainly understand your motivation for wanting to do so, you really shouldn’t leave your router unprotected against hackers. I strongly recommend that you never bring a router online without protecting it’s login screen by choosing a really strong password and locking down the Wi-Fi network by enabling the strongest encryption method on it that the router supports.
  • Email from Helen in Rockville: Dear Doc and Jim. I have noticed that a number of my emails w/attachments have not been delivered. One ISP actually told me the email was not delivered. I divided it into 2 emails and it seemed to be delivered. Could this be my problem (I receive large files up to 20mb regularly) or a problem with my correspondent’s email account? Helen in Rockville
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are many reasons emails with attachments fail to be delivered.
  • Spam filters — Perhaps the single biggest issue is that emailed attachments are the number one vector for malware. The result is that ISPs, mail programs, and mail servers are all extremely suspicious of any and all attachments.
  • Reputation — Every aspect of an email carries with it a reputation. Free email services in particular (Hotmail, Outlook.com, Gmail.com, etc.) have a slightly higher chance of being flagged as spam than, say, email from a business domain.
  • Explicit attachment blockers — Many email programs now come pre-configured to block access to some or all attachments. The recipient must indicate which attachments are accepted.
  • Size matters — Large files have always been a problem for email, and ISPs regularly disallow emails that exceed a certain size. If your ISP allows you to send a large file, it does not guarantee that your recipient’s ISP will allow him to receive it.
  • Another Option — Do not send attachments. Instead, use a cloud storage service like Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, or others. The process is fairly simple:
    • Upload your file or files to your cloud storage provider.
    • Get a sharing link2 from that provider (usually by right-clicking on the file or folder in that provider’s interface).
    • Include that link in the email you send to your intended audience, rather than including the actual file(s).
    • Your recipient can then download the file as needed.
  • Email from Wendy in Falls Church: Dear Tech Talk. What is the best way to allow, my bedroom lamps to be controlled with my smart phone or with Amazon Echo? Wendy in Falls Church, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: You have two options: a smart plug or a smart light bulb. I like to use the Kasa Smart WiFi Plug by TP-Link. It works with Alexa and Google and no hub is required. I also use Hue smart lightbulbs. They also work with Alexa and Google, but require a separate hub to connect to Wi-Fi. Both have a cell phone app to control the devices remotely. If you need only soft white light, you can use the Hue A19 LED 60W Equivalent Dimmable Smart Wireless Bulb, which is $13.97 on Amazon. I, however, has the full color LED lights, which cost arount $60 a bulb. I would recommend getting the three-pack, which includes the hub. The hub supports up to 50 light bulbs.
  • If you use a smart plug and the plug is turned off, a visitor to your house will not be a able to turn on the light without the app on the smart phone or without knowing how to Alexa or Google. On the other hand, if you use a smart bulb and the light is off. A visitor can simply turn the bulb off and on and it will respond to the switch. This is very convenient, particularly if the lamps are in the living room or area with many visitors. I use both options. Smart Plug in the Bedroom. Smart light bulb in the living room
  • Email from Tracy in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I have an iPhone and us iMessage for most of my communication. My boss communicates by iMessage with me on the weekend. I do not like him to know that I have read the iMessage because sometimes I do not want to respond. Can I turn off the read message notification for him, but leave it on for everyone else? That would make my life so much easier. Love the show. Tracy in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: Everyone knows that you can enable or disable read receipts across the board by opening the Settings app and toggling read receipts on or off from within the Messages menu. Most people want to leave them on, but there are always a few contacts who send you messages and you do not want them to know if and when you’ve read them. You can turn off notification for just one contact too. And it is so easy. Here is all you need to do:
    • From within the Messages app, open a conversation with the contact in question
    • Tap the i in the top-right corner
    • On that screen, you will see a setting for Send Read Receipts. Toggle it to off
  • That’s it. This setting will override your global setting and this specific contact will no longer know when you open his or her messages.
  • Email from Lori in Virginia Beach: Dear Tech Talk. I have started buying many products online, especially from Amazon. I tend to rely on the reviews, but recently I have heard that companies pay for fake reviews. How can I tell if a review is fake? Love the show. Lori in Fairfax.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are right, many reviews are fake. Companies have been known to hire fake reviewers to praise products and boost sales. If you’re browsing Amazon or Yelp, and suspect the reviews you’re seeing are fake, there’s a quick way to support your suspicion: FakeSpot.com (fakespot.com). This site analyzes the comments and works out whether the reviews are likely to be fake.
  • Copy the product URL form any Amazon or Yelp page you think has suspicious review. The site will scan all the reviews and give you an adjusted rating, with reviews that are likely fake removed.

Profiles in IT: Jacobus Cornelis Haartsen

  • Jacobus Cornelis Haartsen is a Dutch electrical engineer best known as the father of Bluetooth communication.
  • Jaap Haartsen was born 13 February 1963, in The Hague, Netherlands.
  • In 1986, he received an MSEE with honors from Delft University of Technology.
  • He worked briefly for Siemens in The Hague and Philips in Eindhoven.
  • In 1990, he received a PhD in EE from Delft University of Technology with honors.
  • His thesis dealt with programmable filters in silicon surface acoustic wave devices.
  • In 1991, he was hired by Ericsson, working in Raleigh-Durham, NC. In 1993 he was transferred to the Ericsson Mobile Terminal Division in Lund, Sweden.
  • He was tasked with finding solutions for short-range (3m to 4m) radio connections to enrich mobile phone functionality. Cost and power were driving factors.
  • Because the frequency band was shared with many consumer devices, he initially decided to use frequency hopping. He already had a working solution in the 2.45 GHz range using frequency hopping communication.
  • Bluetooth devices change frequencies within the designated band, hopping around on 79 frequencies 1,600 times each second.
  • While Dr. Haarsten was working initially alone, a team was quickly built. In 1995, he was joined by Sven Mattisson. The team eventually grew to 30 people.
  • The name in the initial development phases was MC (Multi-Communicator) Link.
  • By 1997, the team had a workable solution and Ericson realized that it needed to collaborate with other firms to ensure adoption.
  • In 1998, a Special Interest Group (SIG) was formed by five founding members: Ericsson, Nokia, Intel, Toshiba and IBM. Intel was selected as the lead.
  • Jim Kardach, representing Intel, suggested the name Bluetooth. Harold Bluetooth was a 10th century Danish king who united Denmark. The symbol is based on his initials.
  • The Bluetooth SIG has formed a patent pool for Bluetooth, defined the standard, provided licenses to manufacturers and examined devices for compliance.
  • Five patents, filed by Dr. Haartsen can be considered fundamental for the Bluetooth standard. In total, Dr. Haarsten has filed more than 200 patents. The SIG patent pool was essential for the early success of the technology.
  • In 1999, Bluetooth 1.0 was released. In 2000, the first mobile phones with Bluetooth appeared, as did first PC cards and prototype mice, keyboards and USB dongles.
  • In 2001, the first Bluetooth-enabled printers, laptops, and car kits were introduced.
  • In 2011, the SIG had 15,000 member firms. Bluetooth V4.0 was released.
  • In 2010, he became CTO of Tonalite in the Netherlands, a company which creates wearable wireless products.
  • In 2012, he was hired by Plantronics as Senior Expert, Wireless Systems.
  • In 2015, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Apple Event 2019: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and more

  • The mainstream iPhone 11 debuted with a dual-camera configuration and a new design in six colors. Features include Dolby Atmos audio, Wi-Fi 6, an ultra wide camera lens and enhanced camera features. This includes landscape selfies and videos and slo-mo video. The iPhone 11 starts at $699.
  • The iPhone 11 Pro and its big twin the Pro Max have “Super Retina XDR” OLED displays that are based on the Pro XDR Display that has similar specs but is not OLED. It has the fidget-spinner-looking tri-camera setup, a new matte finish, and uses the A13 Bionic as well. The three cameras are: Telephoto, Wide, and Ultra-wide. Apple claims longer battery life despite all that. It comes bundled with the fast-charge adapter. Apple was also very proud of its new Deep Fusion technology, which drives its improved Smart HDR multishot mode. It starts at $999, and the larger 11 Pro Max starts at $1,099.
  • The company is replacing its sixth-generation iPad with a new 10.2-inch seventh-generation iPad optimized for the new iPad OS. It’s got improved brightness, a better viewing angle, an A10 Fusion chip and adds a Smart Connector plus a new smart keyboard cover. For the same price as before, $329
  • The new Watch Series 5 features a new always-on display that can drop to as low as 1Hz refresh to save power, as well as a compass and optimized faces. GPS models will start at $399 and $499 for cell models. Apple Watch Series 3 is now $199
  • All preorders begin Friday and ship on Sept. 20.
  • Apple took the opportunity to introduce us to some new games for its upcoming all-you-can-eat game subscription service, coming later this month, which will run $4.99 per month per family.
  • You can get Apple TV Plus free for a year if you buy Apple devices. Apple TV Plus launches on Nov. 1 in over 100 countries, for another $4.99 per month for a family subscription.

The Best iPhone Deal

  • The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max dominated the spotlight this year, but the iPhone 11 is the better value.
  • Starting at $699 ($300 less than the iPhone 11 Pro) is packed with Pro features. The iPhone 11 has nearly every meaningful feature the iPhone 11 Pros have: the most powerful performance in any smartphone, a new ultra wide camera, night mode for better low-light photography, longer battery life than the previous generation, and all of the new features in iOS 13 such as dark mode and a redesigned Photos app. It does not include a fast charger and the bezels are still think.
  • Bottom Line: The iPhone 11 gets you every important iPhone 11 Pro feature, like an ultra wide camera, for hundreds less. It is the best deal of the show.

Why You Don’t Need a 5G phone Yet

  • For most people, it’s smart to stick with a smartphone that isn’t compatible with 5G wireless networks, which are just starting to roll out.
  • Not only are the first-generation 5G phones expensive, their antennas and modems typically work only with particular 5G networks owned by specific mobile carriers.
  • 5G phones will make up 9% of worldwide shipments in 2020 and 28% in 2023.
  • Samsung, Motorola, LG and OnePlus already make 5G phones that use Google’s Android system.
  • Motorola said such first-generation products primarily suit early adopters who need to be first on the block.
  • New iPhones will not support 5G. Apple typically waits for technology to mature before adopting it.
  • And 5G phones cost a few hundred dollars more. The price gap is expected to narrow and eventually disappear as 5G becomes a standard feature.
  • 5G coverage is limited to certain neighborhoods in a handful of cities. Full coverage will not be until 2021.
  • Similar all-in-one 5G phones should be fairly common by next year.
  • If you can squeeze another year or two out of your current phone, there will be plenty of 5G phones to choose from by the time you are ready to upgrade.

FCC Approves More Spectrum for 5G

  • The FCC voted 3-2 to auction spectrum in the 2.5GHz band.
  • This frequency band, known as the Educational Broadband Service, had been set aside for educational purposes during the 1960s.
  • License holders had to be either educational institutions or nonprofits supporting education.
  • These entities, which have gotten access to the spectrum for free, can lease the spectrum to wireless carriers.
  • Sprint uses leased spectrum in the 2.5GHz band for its existing 4G network.
  • The FCC voted to change the rules for the spectrum and is planning to auction unused or underused spectrum in the band directly to wireless carriers.
  • The vote comes as the FCC is trying to free up more spectrum for 5G.
  • A variety of underutilized bands is needed to ensure the service has the capacity and network footprint to reach consumers throughout the country.
  • In May, the FCC announced raising $2 billion in its second 5G spectrum auction, selling off millimeter-wave (mmWave) high-bandwidth spectrum in the 24GHz band.
  • Though everyone on the FCC agrees the agency should be doing all it can to enable 5G services, the vote wasn’t without controversy.
  • Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat who voted against the item because, she said, it didn’t do enough to benefit education. The thought the educational institution should have reaped some of the financial benefits of the sale.

Idea of The Week: Algae-fueled Bioreactor for CO2 Absorption

  • The carbon-absorbing abilities of algae may be one of the most potent tools at our disposal to combat climate change.
  • US company Hypergiant Industries has packaged the tech up into a box-shaped machine that can absorbs as much carbon from the atmosphere as an acre of trees.
  • Through the process of photosynthesis, the aquatic plant algae absorbs carbon dioxide, water and sunlight to produce energy.
  • Naturally, the plant will use this energy to multiply and grow, but scientists have been experimenting with ways to capture it and convert it into biofuels instead, with some promising results.
  • The reactor measures 3 x 3 x 7 ft (90 x 90 x 210 cm) and is designed to be installed in urban environments where it captures and holds carbon from the atmosphere, and produces clean bio-fuels that could be used to further reduce a building’s carbon footprint.
  • The reactor uses a specific strain of algae called chlorella vulgaris, which is claimed to soak up much more CO2 than any other plant.
  • The algae lives inside a tube system and water tank within the device, which is pumped full of air and exposed to artificial light, giving the plant the food it needs to thrive and produce biofuels for harvesting.
  • Hypergiant Industries claims that the harvesting technology packed into its Eos Bioreactor is so efficient it is 400 times more effective at capturing carbon than trees taking up the same footprint.
  • It will make the designs for the bioreactor publicly available in the hope that it will inspire others to come up with similar solutions. It plans to share further details about bringing the reactor to market in 2020.

Microsoft’s Free Python Video Course

  • Microsoft has launched a new 44-part series called Python for Beginners on YouTube, consisting of three- to four-minute lessons.
  • The course is not quite for total beginners as it assumes people have done a little programming in JavaScript.
  • Microsoft has published a page on GitHub containing additional resources, including slides and code samples to help students become better at Python.
  • The Python for Beginners series is presented by Christopher Harrison, a senior program manager at Microsoft, and Susan Ibach, a business development manager from Microsoft’s AI Gaming unit.
  • The main apparent benefit is that Microsoft can expand the population of Python developers using Azure for building AI applications.
  • There is already support for Python in Azure Machine Learning Studio.
  • The course features a number of ‘quick start’ tutorials, such as one teaching users how to detect human faces in an image using the Azure Face API and Python.
  • Another tutorial teaches users how to use the Computer Vision REST API. Both are part of Microsoft’s Cognitive Services.
  • https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlrxD0HtieHhS8VzuMCfQD4uJ9yne1mE6

Hundreds of Earthlings descend on Area 51

  • An internet joke to storm Area 51 and “see them aliens” has drawn hundreds of people to the mysterious US government facility.
  • Half a million people signed up to try to enter the military base in Nevada which conspiracy theorists say holds alien technology.
  • The event taking place this weekend is called ‘Storm Area 51: They Can’t Stop All Of Us’ and says, “We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Centre tourist attraction and coordinate our entry… let’s see them aliens.”

Huawei Mate 30 Has No Access To Google Apps

  • Huawei’s recent Mate 30 cannot get Google’s smartphone apps.
  • The new device comes equipped with its improved hardware namely its new 5G chipset, improved camera, and better display.
  • The Huawei’s Mate 30 doesn’t have an Android license which prevents it from obtaining any Google smartphone app in anyway.
  • Huawei’s new phone can’t have Google Maps, Play Store access, and have any other Google-related apps that can be downloaded manually after purchasing the device.
  • Without the license, any attempts to install and run Google apps will not work on Mate 30.
  • Without the Android apps, the open-sourced Android system installed in the Mate 30 is pointless unless Huawei manages to strike a deal with Google or the U.S. government again.