Show of 10-05-2019

Tech Talk

October 5, 2019

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Joey in Ashburn, VA: Dear Tech Talk. I am hoping you can provide some guidance. We have a Western Digital hard drive that failed. We got a new drive and attempted to clone it, but we could not get it to work. Do you have a recommendation of where we should send it to retrieve the information?  We have pictures also stored on it.  Joey in Ashburn, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Did it completely fail or just fail to boot up? If it simply failed to boot up, you could put it in a USB disk enclosure and try to copy all the pics to another drive. Failure to boot could be caused by corruption of the boot sector or Windows executables.
  • All hard drive manufacturers have released a free hard drive diagnostic tool. You can downloard the Western Digital Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows Media program from https://support.wdc.com/downloads.aspx?p=3
  • Download and install the program. Choose to Run As Administrator. You will see the following options: Quick Test, Extended Test, Erase, and View Test Results.
  • If the failure is caused by an error in the Printed Circuit Board (PCB), your only option is to replace the PCB. You can find companies that sell replacement PCBs for nearly all hard drives. You will have to put the ROM in the damaged PCB into the new PCB. The ROM contains the hard drive calibration data. Without the old ROM, the new PCB will not work. It will think that the hard drive needs formatting.
  • If you are uneasy about working on your hard drive, you can send it to a data recovery firm. They are expensive, but know what they are doing. They can recover data from almost any hard drive.
  • Kroll-OnTrack is an excellent data recovery firm. We have used them in the past for commercial data recovery but they offer personal data recovery as well. I know they have a location in Reston but of course, they accept drives that are mailed into them as well. They will analyze the drive and provide a report with the likelihood of recovery so you can make a decision regarding moving forward with their service. Link to their website: https://www.ontrack.com/
  • One final note. You need to maintain a backup going forward. You can use a cloud backup service like Carbonite (which is what I use for my laptop) or you can backup to an external USB hard drive (they are very cheap). You can either backup just your files (pictures, documents, etc.) or do a complete disk image (which is supported by Windows 10 natively). Pick one and use it. Best of luck with your data recovery.
  • Email from Stu in Kilmarnock, VA: Dear Tech Talk. I have several email accounts and would like to find a way to view all the unread mail for all of them in one directory. Is there a simple way to accomplish this feat? I am currently running Windows 10 on my laptop. I check email from my work (Exhange), Gmail, Yahoo, and AOL (legacy Verizon account). What are my best options? Stu in Kilmarnock, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can use the Outlook mail client on your laptop. A significant advantage of using Outlook on your computer is you can have multiple email accounts in one place. It can handle multiple accounts from multiple providers, including Microsoft, Gmail, Yahoo!, and pretty much any others you can think of.
  • If you want to add email accounts to Outlook, we walk you through the process here. After you have all your accounts set up, you can manage all of them in Outlook. Let’s take a look at how you do this. Open up the Mail app on your computer. Click on Accounts, then Click on Add Account. The Mail Client will automatically configure your email accounts as you add. You may have a problem with the AOL account. You will need to go to advanced configuration and set the incoming and outgoing mail servers. Just search for AOL mail servers using Google.
  • Because the Inbox is one of the core email folders, you can’t rename it. Instead, Outlook automatically adds the name of the email account to the Inbox folder in the Favorites section, so you know which is which.
  • Outlook does not provide an option to view all emails in the same folder. This is because each mailbox is a synced copy of one on a server your provider manages. However, you can click the search box at the top of the main window in the mail view and change the location to “All mailboxes.” When you choose this option, you can search for something in all mailboxes, including emails, tasks, calendar appointments, attachments, or anything else in Outlook.
  • Email from Tom in Pittsburgh, PA: Dear Tech Talk. I have a touchpad on my Windows 10 laptop. It is very annoying because I keep moving the cursor inadvertently. Is there any way I can disable this device I have been trying to find a switch, but cannot locate anything. Please help. Tom in Pittsburgh, PA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Many laptops have shortcuts to disable the touchpad. However, they vary by laptop. The easiest way is to simply disable the device d river. Type Device Manager in the search field in the lower left had corner. Click on Device Manager; Click on Mice and other Pointing Devices; Right click on Touchpad; Click on Disable Device. You done. You can enable it at any time by simply going back to the device manager.
  • Email from Ron in Seattle Washington: Dear Doc and Jim. I have heard that running two anti-virus programs at once is not a good idea. I seems that it would be safer. What is your recommendation? Ron in Seattle.
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are two types anti-malware programs:
    • Full-Time / Always Running – Antivirus programs such as AVG, Avast and others run continuously in the background, protecting your PC from threats on an ongoing basis. It is essential to have ONE of these programs running at all times if you use your computer to connect to the Internet.
    • On Demand – These anti-malware programs should be run periodically as a “backup” scanner to catch any nefarious code that might have slipped through the cracks in your regular full-time antivirus program (and they ALL have cracks).
  • The most popular on demand anti-malware program (and one I strongly recommend) is the free version of Malwarebytes.
  • Whenever two antivirus programs run at the same time they tend to fight one another, reducing your overall protection against viruses and other malware by a large margin. ONE good full-time antivirus program will do a better job at protecting your PC from malware than any two of them combined. My recommendation is to pick ONE high quality full-time antivirus program and go with it (Avast is a good choice), then run the free version of Malwarebytes about once a week to catch and remove anything that might have slipped in through the cracks.
  • When you download the free version of Avast the installer will actually install a 14 day free trial version of the full-blown Malwarebytes Premium program, which runs full time to offer real-time protection. After the trial period has elapsed the trial version will automatically revert to the free version unless you pay for the upgrade.
  • That means during the 14 day trial period Malwarebytes will be running full time. It is easy to turn Malwarebytes real-time protection off.
  • Email from Mike in Maryland: Hello Class room of the Airways. As a Senior Citizen, and having health concerns. I want my family members to be able to know where I am at any giving time. Using my cellphone is probably the best device. Can you please tell us what you think is the best top 3 phone tracker apps. I am looking for a free app, but what is the advantage of me paying for the service? Thanks, Mike from Maryland.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You have several options, so long as you have your phone:
    • Family Location on iPhone tracks you using your iCloud credentials. Not automated. Go to Settings; Click on Name; Click on Family Location Sharing: Share my Location
    • FollowMee GPS Tracker converts your iPhone or iPad into a GPS tracking device. Installing this app to the device that you want to track, you can monitor its whereabouts on the FollowMee.com web site. You can view last known location for free. Geofencing, location reporting, location sharing, and other tracking services are available on the web site. It has an SOS Panic Button. The basic service is $5.99/month.
    • Phone Tracker for iPhone is used to locate another Smartphone user that may be your family members, friends etc. Locate iPhone user and check its movement, check movement for last 24 hour. Can track 2 iPhones for free, you can locate friends from it.

Profiles in IT: Evelyn Berezin

  • Evelyn Berezin is best known as designer of the first computer-driven word processor.
  • Berezin was born in the east Bronx in April 12, 1925, to Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire, and attended Christopher Columbus High School.
  • She started university at Hunter College in January 1941, studying Economics, instead of the Physics, because it was a preferred subject for women at that time.
  • After WWII started, she switched to Physics with a scholarship from NYU. Going to university at night, she received her B.S. in physics in 1946.
  • Berezin began graduate work at NYU, with a fellowship from the USAEC.
  • In 1951 she accepted a job with the Electronic Computer Corporation and began there as head of the Logic Design Department.
  • Berezin was the only person doing the logic design for computers developed by ECC.
  • In 1957 ECC was purchased by Underwood Typewriter Corporation.
  • She designed a number of general-purpose computers for specific applications.
  • Among them was a system for the US Army for range calculations, a system for controlling the distribution of magazines, and the first office computer.
  • In 1957, when the Underwood Typewriter Company was not able to continue the development, Berezin went to a Teleregister, a division of Western Union.
  • Using newly available transistor technology, Berezin developed a computerized reservation system for United Airlines, controlling 60 cities with a 1-second response.
  • As a follow on, Berezin also developed the first computerized banking system.
  • In 1968, Berezin had the idea for a word processor and in 1969, she founded Redactron Corporation.
  • The company’s main product was called the “Data Secretary” had no screen, an IBM Selectric typewriter served a keyboard and printer, and was the size of a refrigerator.
  • The Company was sold to the Burroughs Corporation in 1976, and integrated into its office equipment division. Berezin stayed on until 1979.
  • In 1980, Berezin served as President of Greenhouse Management Company, General Partner of a venture capital group dedicated to early stage high tech companies.
  • Throughout her career, she received honorary doctorates from Adelphi University and Eastern Michigan University.
  • Berezin served on the Boards of CIGNA, Standard Microsystems, Koppers, and Datapoint.
  • Berezin established the Berezin-Wilenitz Endowment, which will give the value of her estate to fund either a chair, professorship, or research fund at Stony.
  • Berezin was married for 51 years to Israel Wilenitz, a chemical engineer, born in 1922 in London. Wilenitz died on February 20, 2003.
  • Berezin died on December 8, 2018 at the age of 93 of caner.

Deal of the Week: Comcast Internet Essentials

  • Comcast recently expanded their reduced-rate Internet Essentials program to include military veterans who meet certain qualification guidelines.
  • This plan offers a 15Mbps broadband Internet connection for just $9.95 per month, and home Wi-Fi is included at no additional charge.
  • It is not an introductory rate that will expire after a few months or a year. That is the cost of this plan, period.
  • This program does not include Comcast cable TV or landline telephone service. It is just a 15Mbps Internet connection with Wi-Fi. This is a great option for cord cutters. Cheap Internet.

Police Raid Hosting Company Run Former NATO bunker

  • German officials have shut down a criminal web hosting service that was operating out of a former NATO bunker.
  • Investigators tracked down a Dutch man who bought the bunker, based in western Germany, in 2013.
  • The man had allegedly converted the bunker into a so-called “bulletproof” web hosting service, which was then used by illicit marketplaces for weed, synthetic drugs, and hacking tools.
  • Investigators also reportedly linked the hosting service to a botnet attack on Deutsche Telekom.
  • The AP reports that seven people were arrested at a restaurant near Frankfurt in connection with the investigation, which also included raids that stretched across the Netherlands, Poland, and Luxembourg.
  • Another six people are under investigation, according to the report, and authorities believe all of them are accessories to crimes related to drug distribution and counterfeiting money.
  • Bulletproof hosting services, like the one allegedly run out of the bunker, cater to criminals who want to outsource the work of hiding their digital activity.

Google Turns 21

  • Google turns 21 on Friday 27 September.
  • The popular search engine is used by people right across the world and it’s become a really important part of the internet for many.
  • Google is the world’s most visited website – it’s even one of the most-searched terms on Bing.
  • Google was started by two college students, named Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They wanted to create a website which would rank pages based on how many other pages linked back to them, a bit like a web.
  • The word Google comes from the term ‘googol’, which is the number one followed by a hundred zeroes. The creators chose it to reflect the huge amount of data they were searching through.
  • The first ever ‘google doodle’ (when Google’s homepage changes to mark an important event) was created in celebration of the 1998 Burning Man Festival. The founders wanted people to know why they were out of the office.
  • Google’s headquarters is known as the Googleplex and is based in California’s Silicon Valley.
  • At the Googleplex, there is a giant statue of a T-Rex dinosaur, which is often covered in flamingos. Rumour has it that this is a reminder to Google employees not to allow the company to go extinct.
  • Google first announced its e-mail service, known as G-mail, on April Fool’s Day in 2004. As a result, many people thought it was a joke!
  • YouTube became part of the Google family in 2006, after it was bought for more than $1.5 billion. At present, YouTube has nearly 2 billion monthly users, with more than 400 hours of video uploaded every minute.
  • The internet was ‘broken’ by a programmer at Google in 2009, after they accidentally added ‘/’ to Google’s blocked website registry. There is a ‘/’ in nearly every website created, so nothing online could be accessed.

Amazon Sidewalk: A New Wireless Standard

  • At Amazon’s annual hardware event, the company revealed a new wireless standard for the Internet of Things and smarthome devices called Sidewalk.
  • Sidewalk is a new wireless standard that Amazon hopes smarthome and other IoT devices will use to communicate instead of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 5G, and the many additional standards out there. The problem with existing standards is a question of range, complexity, and power usage.
  • Most of the current wireless standards do not broadcast far and are typically confined to your home. Amazon says Sidewalk solves these problems. By relying on low bandwidth 900 MHz spectrum, it has longer range and better building penetration than Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. In addition, Sidewalk forms mesh networks to extend that distance. The 900 MHz also benefits from lower power usage and less complexity from a cellular standard like 5G.
  • Amazon promises the standard will use relatively low power (measured in years of battery life), yet at the same time, the network will have a much wider range—up to half a mile. The company is accomplishing this by repurposing unlicensed spectrum, 900 MHz.
  • You may have already used a device that communicated with the 900 MHz spectrum—cordless phones. Amateur radios, like walkie-talkies all use 900 MHz.
  • Amazon Sidewalk devices will form a mesh network, which in turn extends their range even further. The company already sent out test devices to employees and with just 700 nodes, the Sidewalk network covered most of the Los Angeles Basin area.
  • At its hardware devices event, the company showed an upcoming pet tracker called Fetch. It looks a lot like a key fob and attaches to your pet’s collar. When the tracker leaves the predefined geofenced area, you get a notification. In theory, you could track your pet as it encounters other user’s Sidewalk devices.
  • Amazon says it will release an SDK (software development kit) next year and theoretically, any manufacturer could include a 900 MHz radio to its product and use the SDK to add Sidewalk compatibility.

Microsoft: Reinvented and Refocused

  • The operating system is no longer the most important layer for us,” was the message from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
  • Microsoft had a big day for Surface, introducing new hardware and discussing dual-screen devices like the Surface Duo and Surface Neo that are coming next year.
  • What is most important for us is the app model and the experience. How people are going to write apps for Duo and Neo will have a lot more to do with each other than just writing a Windows app or an Android app, because it’s going to be about the Microsoft Graph.
  • Nadella is signaling that by focusing on the Microsoft Graph, a collection of APIs that connects devices to Microsoft’s cloud services and acts as an important gateway into Windows, Office 365, and Azure.
  • It looks like Microsoft even returned to smartphones, just without Windows. Microsoft is now an Android phone maker, more connections to Microsoft Graph.
  • Microsoft has now turned to Google to get access to the Play Store. Microsoft has hinted that it is working directly with Google on dual-screen devices for Android.
  • Windows is still important for people using it right now. Corporate customers still rely on Windows for legacy desktop apps, Microsoft Office, and much more.
  • Apps are increasingly becoming more cross-platform, and relying on web technologies instead of native operating system hooks.
  • Microsoft followed this trend with its many Android and iOS apps, and by bringing Office to the iPad nearly five years ago.
  • Nadella envisions “an app model that spans experiences across devices.”
  • If the Google partnership is done correctly then maybe we’ll see better Google apps on Windows, or Microsoft allowing Windows 10 users to search Google from Windows search.
  • It is about time both Google and Microsoft offered the best solution for their mutual customers.

Google Announce a Tech Job Training Initiative

  • Pichai said Google plans to provide 250,000 training opportunities for Americans over five years.
  • At a roundtable event in Dallas, Tex., Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced new job training opportunities through a White House initiative.
  • Google will sign the “Pledge to America’s Workers,” a White House initiative that calls on employers to expand education programs for American workers.
  • As part of the commitment, Pichai said the company provide 250,000 training opportunities for Americans in technology skills over five years.
  • Google already has a national skills training program called “Grow with Google,” which provides free resources to learn various online skills.
  • Google announced plans to expand that program to 100 colleges in the U.S. by 2020.

Microsoft: Iranian Hackers targeted a Presidential Campaign

  • Microsoft disclosed that Iranian state-sponsored hackers tried to hack into email accounts belonging to current and former US government officials, and members of a 2020 US presidential campaign.
  • The attacks took place “in a 30-day period between August and September.
  • Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) linked the attacks to a group the company calls Phosphorous. The group has been linked to Iran.
  • The group first made more than 2,700 probes to identify consumer email accounts belonging to specific Microsoft customers.
  • Once the group had a list of high-value targets, it went after 241 of those accounts.
  • Of these, the hackers breached four account, that were not associated with the U.S. presidential campaign or current and former U.S. government officials.
  • MS notified all users about the hacks, and has helped victims secure accounts.
  • Microsoft said the Iranian hackers gained access to the four accounts by first getting access to the victim’s secondary email inbox, which the victim used as a secondary email for the Microsoft account.
  • Hackers then reset the password for the Microsoft account, and used the reset link they received in the secondary inbox to take control of the primary Microsoft account.
  • MS urging high-profile users to sign up for Microsoft AccountGuard, a special Microsoft service part of the Defending Democracy program.