Show of 10-12-2019

Tech Talk

October 12, 2019

 

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments taken from previous shows.

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from David in North Carolina: Dear Doc and Jim. I just bought a smartphone that supports wireless charging. I am planning to buy a wireless charger soon. Are there any technical specifications that I should be watching for? Love the show. David in North Carolina.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You must buy a charger that is Qi-Certified. Qi (pronounce chee) is a standard for wireless energy transmission. It is a format that is maintained by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), and it aims to standardize wireless charging across all devices in the same way that the USB or Bluetooth standards have standardized data transmission across all devices.
  • When a phone or charger is Qi-Certified, it’s tested by the Wireless Power Consortium for safety, effectiveness, and compatibility.
  • Wireless chargers rely on magnetic induction or magnetic resonance to transmit energy (Qi uses both). Your phone contains a coil that converts this magnetic energy into electrical energy, which then charges the battery.
  • If a wireless charger isn’t Qi-Certified, then you should avoid buying it or using it. Qi-Certified chargers from Anker, CHOETECH, and Yootech. A Qi-Certified charger from CHOETECH is 15W and only $25.49 on Amazon.
  • Email from Anna in Kilmarnock: Dear Tech Talk. A few days ago I got a text message from Microsoft saying my computer has a virus and that I need to delete System 32, but I can’t find it on the list of programs to remove. I texted them back and asked them what I need to do, but I have not heard back from them. Can you tell me how to find System 32 so I can delete it? Anna in Kilmarnock, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: You do not have to delete anything because the text message you received is a hoax. It was sent to you by a scammer, not by Microsoft. You couldn’t find System 32 on the list of programs you can delete because it isn’t a program at all. It’s actually a critical file folder that contains many essential components of your Windows installation. If you ever managed to find and delete it, you would end up completely trashing your Windows installation. Luckily, Microsoft has made it extremely difficult to actually delete the System 32 folder. But given the right set of malicious instructions it can be done. The person that sent you that text message is just trying to cause you to cripple your Windows installation.
  • Email from Helen in Rockville: Dear Doc and Jim. I have been shopping for a new laptop and I have noticed that most of the better ones do not come with an optical drive. I have hundreds of CDs and DVDs that are filled with photos that I need to access on occasion so my new laptop needs to have a DVD drive. I know I can buy an external DVD drive, but I’d prefer to have it built-in. Why are they making laptops without optical drives? Helen in Rockville
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are several reasons why they are being left out of new laptops these days:
    • Most music, movies and computer software is being delivered to the consumer over the Internet instead of on discs these days, making optical drives completely unnecessary for younger consumers who don’t own a library of optical media.
    • Inexpensive USB hard drives and online backup services make it easy and convenient to back up our computers without having to deal with a stack of blank optical discs.
    • Cloud storage and cloud backup services make sharing photos and other files with our friends a lot faster and easier than having to burn them onto a disc.
    • Leaving out the optical drive lets the manufacturers build laptops that are smaller, lighter and less expensive than they would have to be if the drive was included.
  • Luckily, an external USB optical drive can be purchased for as little as $15 for those of us that still use optical discs on occasion. The good news is that you can still buy a laptop that does have an internal optical drive. They are getting harder to find every day, but they are still available.
  • Email from Jim in Arizona: Dear Tech Talk. I am an admin on a large Facebook group that now has over 60,000 members. This is a wonderful group that discusses mindfulness living. The problem is the person that created the group has stopped making useful posts and now posts nothing but SPAM. I have a feeling he is selling posts on the group to third-party businesses. My question is do you know of a way to kick that person out of the group and ban him? Everything I have read says I cannot but I thought maybe you know of a way to do it.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You cannot ban the creator of a group, even if you are an admin. I believe Facebook is correct in preventing other admins from removing and banning a group’s creator. If just any admin could kick the person that created a group out of it that would leave every group creator vulnerable to losing control of his/her own group. The fact is, the person that created a group can use that group in any way he/she sees fit as long as he/she doesn’t violate Facebook’s ‘Terms of Service’.
  • This is what I recommend that you do:
    • Create a new group of your own for discussing the disease in question.
    • Invite the members of the old group to join your new group (be sure to explain why you created it).
  • If the SPAM problem is as bad as you say it is, I believe a large percentage of the current group’s members will be eager to join your new group.
  • Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Shurtz and Jim. Since I do not watch movies, play games, search the internet, make many calls, do texting, etc., how many cell phone Minutes, Text or Data do I really need? Can you please explain these elements that are offered from the cell phone providers? I find it a little bit confusing with the Minutes, Text and Data that one would actually needed for a month of cell usage. Since the usage will vary from person to person, can you address your answer for a typical LOW, MIDDLE and HIGH usage person? Furthermore, why are there Minutes, Text and Data on a cell phone anyway? Since the cell phone is a “walkie-Talkie” on a carrier band, it seems that it should be similar to my desktop computer that can do all these features without the mumbo-jumbo of Minutes, Text and Data involved. I really enjoy your great radio show. Thanks, Doug / Baton Rouge, LA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Minutes relate to the actual phone call duration that is made using the cellular network. Text messages refer to SMS (Short Message Service) messages that are sent over the cellular network. They are limited to 160 characters and do no use data. If you send a picture, it uses MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service ) protocol, which also uses the cellular network and does not count against your data cap. Carriers will typically charge more for MMS messages and may limit the size of your picture. Data is used for all other services, include VoIP (Skype, Viber, WhatsApp), iMessages (the iPhone text message), surfing the web, listening to streaming media (Pandora, Amazon Music, Amazon Video, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video). Streaming video is the real data hog. If you are connected to Wi-Fi, not data is used. If you have Wi-Fi calling enabled on your phone, you can make a call and not use any minutes. Since it all about data, the carriers are moving to data charging. Even calls are converted to VoIP once they leave the cell tower.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Email from James Messick in North Carolina: Dear Dr. Shurtz, I sometime edit home video to upload onto YouTube to share with friends. My old laptop work fine for 1080p video, but does not really have enough power to handle the 4K video that my new Mavic Air drone can produce. I was wondering if it is possible and affordable to rent time on a remote computer to edit and render my videos. If so, what are some good options and how much can I expect to pay? Thanks, James Messick, Kernersville, NC
  • Tech Talk Responds: Using cloud-based computer is definitely a possibility. There are many services available. Since all the computing is done on a virtual machine, you can use any client. Here are a few free editors that look pretty good. Nothing is really free, so you have to put up with ads.
  • Movie Maker Online –A flexible online tool, with royalty-free media to supplement your own movie clips, audio files and images. Movie Maker Online is funded by ads that you might find distracting, and you will have to deactivate any ad-blocking plugins you have installed before you can use it. Movie Maker Online lets you upload video, images and music, and combine them into a project by dragging and dropping them onto a timeline. You can only export your finished projects in MP4 format. Movie Maker Online is the best for your browser.
  • ClipChamp — The free version of this online tool lacks some advanced features, but it’s easy to use and is a good choice for simple movie-making tasks. The free version of ClipChamp has a few limitations, the biggest of which is that you can only export videos in standard definition. There are premium tiers starting at US$9 per month, that give you more freedom, but if your needs a simple, the free version might well offer everything you need. Once your footage is in ClipChamp, you’ll have ready access to tools including trimming, cropping, flipping, rotating and brightness/contrast adjustment. Processing is fast, and you can share the results online or download the video to use in other projects.
  • Adobe Spark —Adobe Spark is something of a Jack-of-all-trades, offering browser-based tools for making greeting cards, flyers, Instagram posts and, yes, videos. Spark gives you two options for making videos: use one of Adobe’s own themed templates, or start from scratch. Whichever you choose, you will be able to upload still photos and video clips, or import them from cloud services including Dropbox, Google Drive, and Adobe’s own Creative Cloud. You can record audio from your PC’s microphone (a great way to annotate a video), add titles, apply color themes, and add music from an impressive choice of options. To adjust the length of a clip, just change the number at the bottom right of the preview image. Your finished video will bear a small Adobe Spark watermark on the bottom, but it’s unobtrusive.
  • Online Video Cutter —Despite the name, Online Video Cutter is about more than just cutting up videos. The site lets you upload files up to 500MB in size, or work with clips stored on Google Drive or other online service. You can then opt to trim away unwanted footage, and crop in if you have taken too wide a shot. There is a rotate function for footage accidentally shot with your phone on its side, and there’s even a Chrome extension available so you can access the tools more easily. When you are happy with the changes you have made, you can take your pick from a variety of popular video formats and choose lower a quality setting if you need to minimize file size.
  • Email from Bob in Maryland: Dear Doc and Jim. I just read this slightly disturbing article about MS Window 10 not backup up the registry with informing the end user. What is going on? Thanks. Bob in Maryland (another physicist, but a Canuck down south of the border)
  • Tech Talk Responds: Microsoft Issued Warning for 800M Windows 10 Users that it stopped backing up the registry in Windows 10 machines in October 2018, starting in Windows 10, version 1803. The OS gives the impression that the registry was backup up, but the files size is 0 kB. They said it was to reduce the Windows 10 footprint. The company coming clean about what happened. Ironically, this disclosure comes just two months after Microsoft pledged to give Windows 10 users more “control, quality and transparency”.
  • Backing up a registry is a crucial last line of defense for many businesses and everyday users. Should a Windows System Restore point fail, barring the use of third-party software, the registry backup is all you have. And yet Microsoft has now revealed what is actually happening: This means that set point restore will not work. I hope that they will fix this quickly and let the users decide if they want to use disk space to back up the registry.
  • Email from Lynn in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I have a Gateway desktop PC that is running Windows 7. I upgraded it to USB 3.0 but by adding a USB 3.0 expansion card. The only thing I use this particular computer for is writing blog posts in Microsoft Word before uploading them to my WordPress blogs. I plan to turn my blog posts into a series of books someday so I want to keep the posts stored on my hard drive in MS Word format. Right now, the 7 folders containing the posts and their associated images add up to a grand total of a little over 22 Gigabytes. My question is do you see anything wrong with using a 64 GB USB thumb drive to hold backup copies of these 7 folders? I do not need to back up anything else, just the Word files and images. I bought the USB 3.0 card because I need really fast data transfer speeds when backing up to the thumb drive and I’d hate to think I’ve wasted that money. A buddy of mine says thumb drives aren’t reliable enough to use for backup storage. What is your opinion about that? Lynn in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tech Talk Responds: Your friend is right about USB flash drives being unreliable, and if there’s one thing you want in a back-up medium it’s reliability.
  • Flash drives can be quite finicky, and the way Windows sometimes caches data in system RAM before actually writing it to the drive makes the risk of data loss and corrupted files very real should you remove the drive from the PC before the files have all been written to it. If you decide to go that route there are some steps you can take that could lessen the risk to almost zero, always “Eject” the thumb drive before pulling it out of its socket by right-clicking on it in Windows Explorer and clicking Eject.
  • Do not trust your files and life’s work to a single backup drive. If you are going to back up your files onto a USB flash drive, back them up to at least two or three of them. These days 64GB thumb drives (and even larger ones) are cheap. Use several of them!
  • Back up your files to the cloud as well using Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Carbonite or another dependable online backup service.

Profiles in IT: Marcus Hutchins

  • Marcus Hutchins, also known online as MalwareTech, is a British computer security researcher best known for temporarily stopping the WannaCry ransomware attack.
  • Marcus Hutchins was June 1994 in Devon, United Kingdom.
  • He got in with the wrong crowd and started writing malware code at age 15.
  • One of his registered domains is http://Gh0sthosting.com, which corresponds to a hosting service that was advertised and sold circa 2009-2010 on Hackforums.net.
  • Using one of his aliases, Iarkey, he told fellow Hackforums users in a sales thread for his business hosted on Gh0sthosting was “mainly for black hats wanting to phish.”
  • In 2009, using the alias, Da Loser, he brag about his Messenger password-stealing program is not detected by AV software. He distributes on http://hackblack.co.uk.
  • Gh0sthosting was sold by a Hackforums user named Iarkey and in 2009 Iarkey blogged that Gh0sthosting was “mainly for blackhats wanting to phish.”
  • Many suspect that Hutchins authored or sold the Kronos banking Trojan. According to the government, Hutchins did on the Dark Web marketplace AlphaBay.
  • Hutchins had a significant and prosperous black hat career that he gave up in 2013.
  • In 2013, He became a white hat hacker working for Kryptos Logic, cyber firm.
  • His anonymously authored a white hat malware blog: https://www.malwaretech.com/.
  • In 2017, Hutchins was working from his homes, when WannaCry began spreading like wildfire, encrypting systems and crippling businesses across Europe.
  • The U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) was one of the biggest organizations hit, forcing doctors to turn patients away and emergency rooms to close.
  • Hutchins discovered a domain name in the code that had not been registered. He immediately registered the domain to see what it did.
  • The malware was written to check for this domain name. If it came back unknown, the malware would proceed. If the domain was registered, it activated a kill switch.
  • By registering the domain, Hutchins had “sinkholed” the ransomware.
  • He and a colleague fended off several attacks from an angry operator of a botnet trying to knock the domain offline with junk internet traffic.
  • They fought to keep it online. Cloudflare stepped in to host and protect the domain.
  • As long as computers are infected with WannaCry and are not patched, data remains at risk — and at the mercy of the kill switch.
  • He had been operating in obscurity, but the press wanted to find the national hero who stopped the WannaCry virus. They outed him and then his past began to emerge.
  • In August 2017, three months after the WannaCry attack, Hutchins was arrested in Las Vegas after leaving DefCon on charges of creating malware in his teenage years.
  • On April 19, 2019, Hutchins plead guilty. Hutchins faces up to five years in prison and $250K in fines for two charges related to writing malware as a teen, prior to his successful white hat security career.

AT&T will start Blocking Fraud Calls

  • AT&T will start automatically blocking fraud calls and issuing suspected spam call alerts for new phone customers at no extra cost.
  • You will have to opt out if you don’t want the company to screen calls this way.
  • Existing customers, meanwhile, will see the feature automatically reach their accounts in the ‘coming months.
  • If you like the capabilities, you can turn it on right now either by downloading the AT&T Call Protect app or enabling it through your myAT&T account settings.
  • Although AT&T isn’t charging extra, the FCC rules don’t prevent it or others from using the auto-blocking as an opportunity to raise subscription rates.

Google Maps Speedometer Feature: Check Your Speed History

  • Google is rolling out the speedometer in Maps and will be global in the weeks to come. This feature is added to camera trap and traffic jam reporting..
  • Speedometer may possibly be used in court if you get a speeding ticket and we not going that fast. This happens when two cars are close together and the police tag the wrong car for speeding.
  • Here’s how to turn on all three of the latest features.
  • Turn on the speedometer
    • Open your Google Maps app.
    • Tap on the three stacked lines and scroll down to the bottom of your screen.
    • Select Settings.
    • Tap Navigation Settings.
    • Scroll down to the Driving Options menu and slide the toggle on for Speedometer. If you don’t see this option, you probably don’t have this new feature yet.
  • Report a speed camera trap
    • Open your Google Maps app.
    • Type in your destination to start navigating — you can only report the speed cameras if you are in navigation mode.
    • Tap the speech bubble icon with the plus sign.
    • Select Mobile speed camera.
    • A pop-up message will appear that says, “Adding mobile speed camera to the map.”
    • If you didn’t mean to report anything, you have a few seconds to cancel by tapping the circle that says Undo.
  • Report an incident, like a car crash or a traffic jam
    • Open your Google Maps app.
    • Type in your destination to start navigating — you can only report incidents if you’re in navigation mode.
    • When you’re on the road and you see a wreck or a slowdown, tap the speech bubble icon with the plus sign.
    • Tap Add a report.
    • Select crash or slowdown.

The Age of Electric Flight Is Coming for Regional Carrier

  • Israeli firm Eviation is building an electric airplane called Alice that will carry nine passengers for up to 650 miles at 10,000ft at 276mph. It is expected to enter service in 2022.
  • Alice is an unconventional-looking craft: powered by three rear-facing pusher-propellers, one in the tail and two counter-rotating props at the wingtips to counter the effects of drag. It also has a flat lower fuselage to aid lift.
  • “This plane looks like this not because we wanted to build a cool plane, but because it
  • Eviation has already received its first orders. US regional airline Cape Air, which operates a fleet of 90 aircraft, has agreed to buy a “double-digit” number of the aircraft.
  • Crucially, electricity is much cheaper than conventional fuel.
  • A small aircraft, like a turbo-prop Cessna Caravan, will use $400 on conventional fuel for a 100-mile flight. But with electricity “it’ll be between $8-$12, which means
  • For example, Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Siemens are working on the E-Fan X program, which will have a two megawatt (2MW) electric motor mounted on a BAE 146 jet. It is set to fly in 2021.
  • Investment bank UBS which predicts the aviation sector will quickly switch to hybrid and electric aircraft for regional travel, with an eventual demand for 550 hybrid airliners each year between 2028 and 2040.
  • But the prospects for electric long-haul flights are not so rosy.
  • While electrical motors, generators, power distribution and controls have advanced very rapidly, battery technology has not.