Show of 10-19-2019

Tech Talk
October 19, 2019

 

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments taken from previous shows.

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.
  • Email from Wije in Germantown: Dear Doc and Jim: I just bought a new iPhone and would like to listen to music and be able to do hands free phone calls. I have a 2007 Ford and a 2009 Lexus. I cannot figure out how to connect my phone to the car audio system. Where is the Bluetooth? How can I make this connection? Love the podcast. Wije in Germantown
  • Tech Talk Responds: The Bluetooth standard was originally conceived by Dr. Jaap Haartsen at Ericsson back in 1994. It was named for a renowned Viking and king who united Denmark and Norway in the 10th century. However, Bluetooth did not start penetrating the car market until 2010. By 2012, it was offered by most manufacturers.
  • Neither of your cars has Bluetooth. You only option is to either replace you radio with one that offers a Bluetooth input, or to use an excellent workaround. I recommend the workaround because it is cheaper. You can get a Bluetooth to FM converter that send the signal to your radio on the FM band. You simply tune the converter and radio to the same station and are good to go. Use the lower frequency stations near 88 MHz for better reception. I ordered an excellent device from Amazon and tested it out this weekend. I purchased the Nulaxy Bluetooth FM transmitter, KM18. This plugs into the cigarette lighter and has two USB charging ports for your phones (a fast charge and a regular 2.4 amp charge). I configured it in less than five minutes. Pandora music sounded perfect. When I answered an incoming call by pressing a button on the device, the music stopped. When the call ended, the music started. I could talk hands-free during the call. I highly recommend this $21 device. Never fear, Bluetooth is always near.
  • Email from John in Kansas: Dear Tech Talk. I have finally moved from Yahoo Mail to a new Gmail account. How can I transfers all my Yahoo emails to my new account? I have a lot of history that I want to preserve. Love the show. John in Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: Gmail uses a built-in migration tool offered by ShuttleCloud that lets you import everything from your old inbox for free. ShuttleCloud usually charges a service fee.
    • To get started, log in to your Gmail account where want to migrate all your old emails to, click the settings cog, and then click “Settings.”
    • Click the “Accounts and Import” tab and then click “Import Mail and Contacts.”
    • Click “Accounts and Import,” and then click “Import mail and contacts.”
    • Enter the email address you want to migrate emails from, and then click “Continue.”
    • At the Sign-in page, enter the credentials to your email, and then click “Next.”
    • Based on the email service you used, you need to give the tool different permission to access your email. Click “Yes.”
    • For this application to access emails and contacts in associated with your email account, you have to give it access to your email account. Click “Yes.”
    • You get to choose what information gets imported into your Gmail account. Tick all the boxes that pertain to you and then click “Start Import.”
    • This process can take anywhere between a couple of hours and two days before you start to see anything appear. Click “OK” to finish up.
  • Email from Linda in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Dear Doc and Jim. My friend has told me that I need to force close all apps on my phone to keep it running fasters and to save battery life. Is that true? Just checking. Linda in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
  • Tech Talk Responds: There is a persistent belief that you need to actively manage your mobile apps and use the force-close function to shut them down (much like you’d close an application on your desktop computer like Word before launching a game). When you’re not using an application, the application is effectively suspended in time and space just waiting for you to come back. It does not matter if you’re using an Android phone, an iPhone, or even a Windows phone. All mobile platforms work more or less the same. Closing smartphone apps all the time just makes your smartphone work harder, feel slower, and burn more battery life.
  • Hanging out in the background is actually more efficient as your smartphone has to do less work to bring the app back to the forefront when you want it. That “do-less-work” bit means that by not closing the apps, you’re saving time and battery life. Plus, the apps should feel like they’re opening faster because they’re right there waiting to go.
  • The only real exception to this is applications you have allowed to run in the background (things like a weather app or email that do a little).
  • Email from Mark in Richmond: Dear Tech Talk. I have a very important question for you. How much is Facebook’s cut of all the money that’s donated to charity to honor someone’s birthday? I have heard they keep half of it. If that is true, it should be illegal in my opinion. I would really like to know the answer to this because I’ve made several donations in the recent past. Mark in Richmond
  • Tech Talk Responds: Luckily, the person that gave you that information was terribly wrong. In reality, Facebook doesn’t keep a single penny of the charitable contributions that are made though their website. If you click on the Donations to Charitable Organizations link on this page you’ll see that Facebook doesn’t charge any fees at all when donations are made to any qualified charitable organization.
  • They do charge a small fee when someone runs a personal fundraiser (i.e. when the person or organization benefiting from the fundraiser is not a qualifying charity). The purpose of those fees is to cover the expenses Facebook incurs for running the fundraiser, plus any applicable taxes.

Profiles in IT: Matti Makkonen

  • Matti Makkonen is a Finnish mobile phone pioneer and “Father of Text Messaging.”
  • Matti Makkonen was born April 16, 1952 in Suomussalmi, Finland.
  • He received a BS (1975) and MS (1976) in Electronics from Oulu University.
  • He started his career in 1976 in the radio department of Finnish PTT, later Sonera.
  • He worked on the international project, NMT (Nordic Mobile Telephone).
  • In 1984, he was appointed as VP and was involved in the development of the GSM.
  • GSM was first a Nordic idea, then a European effort and finally a global standard.
  • In 1984, over a pizza at a telecoms conference, Matti proposed a mobile phone messaging service. This was to become the SMS (short message service) standard.
  • In 1989, he was appointed president of the mobile communication unit, which had been renamed Telecom Finland.
  • On December 2, 1992, the first text message using Matti’s idea was sent from a PC to a mobile device using Vodafone’s UK network. It said, “Merry Christmas.”
  • The real launch of the service was when Nokia introduced the first phone that enabled easy writing of messages in 1994 using the Nokia 2010 mobile phone.
  • Matti dislikes the distinction of being “father of SMS”, because other did much of work to develop the technology.
  • He did not consider SMS as personal achievement but rather the result of a joint effort to collect ideas and write the specifications of the services based on them.
  • In 1995, he was appointed VP of the Mobile Communications Group.
  • In 2000, Makkonen joined Nokia as Head of Networks Professional Services, leading network planning, implementation, operating, optimization, and system integration.
  • The same year, he was briefly the President and board member of the Mobile Internet operator unit of the company, which at that point had been renamed TeliaSonera.
  • In February 2003, he was appointed CEO of Finnet Group Ltd., consisting of the joint efforts of the local Telcos, like Finland’s fastest growing mobile operator, DNA.
  • In 2006, he served on the Board and consultant for Tieto-X and the PR agency Evia.
  • In 2008, Makkonen was awarded The Economist Innovation Award in the computing and telecommunications category for his work on text messaging (SMS).
  • In 2010, he was appointed CEO of Anvia, a telco in Western Finland that expanded into IT services, security solutions and TV broadcasting. He retired in 2013.
  • He did not patent the idea and never received any money for the invention. He does not believe it was a patentable innovation and is glad that it became part of GSM.
  • As you might expect, he does not like text speak, sexting, or text spam. He preferred a touch screen, rather than a keyboard, for texting.
  • On June 26, 2015, died at age 63 from complications caused by an illness. The “grand old man of mobile phone technology” is gone.

Bad Idea of the Week: A Null License Plate

  • Droogie registered a vanity California license plate consisting solely of the word “NULL” — which in programming is a term for no specific value — for fun.
  • He admitted to the off chance it would confuse automatic license plate readers and the DMV’s ticketing system. He hoped to be invisible to the system.
  • But it didn’t work out that way. Instead, I got lots of tickets.
  • As Droogie explained, he’s a cautious driver and didn’t get any tickets for the first year he owned the vanity plate.
  • Then he went to reregister his tags online, and, when prompted to input his license plate, broke the DMV webpage. It seemed the DMV site didn’t recognize the plate “NULL” as an actual input.
  • That was the first sign that something was amiss. The next sign was, well, a little more serious: Thousands of dollars in random tickets starting arriving in the mail at his house, addressed to him.
  • It seemed that a privately operated citation processing center had a database of outstanding tickets, and, for some reason — possibly due to incomplete data on their end — many of those tickets were assigned to the license plate “NULL.” I
  • n other words, the processing center was likely trying to tell its systems it didn’t know the plates of the offending cars.
  • Instead, with Droogie’s vanity plate now in play, it pegged all those outstanding tickets on him. Specifically, over $12,000 worth of outstanding tickets.
  • Droogie went on the painstaking process to explain the situation to the DMV and the LAPD, both of whom advised him to change his plate.

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.

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.

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.