Show of 11-16-2019

Tech Talk

November 16, 2019

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Dave Miles: Hello Dr Shurtz. Help! I have 5 WiFi enabled HD cameras around my home. Each one working, but each bought separately (probably when on sale) and with their own software. Getting in and out of each software program to view my cameras is driving me crazy! Do you know of a user-friendly software package that can consolidate all my WiFi network cameras into one program to monitor? Love your radio show that I hear via Podcast. Regards, Dave Everett, WA
  • Tech Talk Responds: You cameras must have some type of web interface. You need to know the IP address of the camera and connect to it using a browser. Many programs available enable you to view your webcam remotely, including Skype, TeamViewer and Chrome Remote Desktop. After you have installed the software on your computer and configured it, you can access your webcam feed from any computer or compatible mobile device with Internet access. You might try the Simple Webcam Viewer from Source Forge. I have not tried it, but it may fit your needs.
  • Link: https://sourceforge.net/projects/simple-webcam-viewer/
  • Email from June in Burke, VA: Doc, have you ever researched data blockers for USB connections. Sometimes you can find a USB public hub.  I know that is not safe and want to be able to block my data. Thanks. Security prone in Burke VA.
  • Tech Talk Responds: USB connections were designed to work as both data and power transfer mediums, with no strict barrier between the two. Security researchers figured out they could abuse USB connections to deliver secret data payloads. This type of attack received its own name, as “juice jacking.”
  • The most notorious example is Mactans, presented at the Black Hat 2013 security conference, which was a malicious USB wall charger that could deploy malware on iOS devices. In 2016, security researcher Samy Kamkar took the concept further with KeySweeper, a stealthy Arduino-based device, camouflaged as a functioning USB wall charger that wirelessly and passively sniffs, decrypts, logs, and reports back (over GSM) all keystrokes from any MS wireless keyboard in the vicinity.
  • Following Kamkar’s release of KeySweeper, the FBI sent out a nation-wide alert at the time, warning organizations against the use of USB chargers and asking
  • The most common way is via “pluggable” USB wall chargers. These are portable USB charging devices that can be plugged into an AC socket, and criminals can easily leave some of these behind “by accident” in public places, at public charging stations. The warning also applies to USB cables that have been left behind in public places. Microcontrollers and electronic parts have become so small these days that criminals can hide mini-computers and malware inside a USB cable itself. The best way to protect yourself is to:
    • Use an AC power outlet, not a USB charging station.
    • Take AC and car chargers for your devices when traveling.
    • Consider buying a portable charger for emergencies.
  • You can also buy USB “no-data transfer” cables, where the USB pins responsible for the data transfer channel have been removed, leaving only the power transfer circuit in place. Such cables can be found on Amazon and other online stores.
  • There are also so-called “USB condoms” that act as an intermediary between an untrusted USB charger and a user’s device. Two such devices are SyncStop (formerly known as USB Condom) and Juice-Jack Defender.
  • Caveat: There have been no real world examples of “juice jacking” operating the wild. Both Android and iOS have now incorporated popups in their user interface to alert a user when a USB port is attempting to transfer data
  • Email from Laurie in Baltimore: Dear Doc and Jim. My son has been begging me for an iPhone 11 every day since it was released. I finally gave in and got him one for his birthday. My own phone was starting to have battery issues so I decided to take over my son’s iPhone 7S after he received his new phone. The problem my son’s name still shows up when I log into certain apps on the iPhone 7. How do I change the name of this phone from my son’s name to mine? Laurie in Baltimore
  • Tech Talk Responds: It is very easy to change the name associated with iOS device.
    • Tap Settings.
    • Tap General.
    • Tap About.
    • Tap on the name of the device and change that name to your name.
    • Tap Done.
  • From now on your name should show up instead of your son’s name.
  • Email from Barbie in Reston: Dear Tech Talk. I recently learned that every email I send with my iPhone includes a line that says “Sent from my iPhone”. There are times when I’d rather not tip off the recipient that I sent their email using my phone. Is there any way to remove the “Sent from my iPhone” message from my outgoing emails? Barbie in Reston
  • Tech Talk Responds: It is quite easy to change this message.
    • Tap the Settings icon,
    • Tap Mail.
    • Find the “Mail” section and tap Signature.
    • Tap All Accounts.
    • Remove the text of the “Sent from my iPhone” message.
    • Either leave the message field blank or type in a custom message that you want to be included in every outgoing email (your choice).
    • Press the Home button to return to the “Home” screen
  • From now on, depending on the choice you made in step 6 every email will contain either your custom message or no added message at all!
  • Email from Alice in Alexandria: Dear Doc and Jim. I am expecting guests over the holidays and am dreading the following question: Can I use your computer? I cannot deny them, but I do not know what they will do. Especially the kids. What are my options? Alice in Alexandria
  • Tech Talk Responds: There’s really nothing wrong with allowing a visitor to use your computer, but there are a few things you might want to do before your guests arrive:
    • If you haven’t already done so, enable the Guest Account on your computer (every modern operating system has one). A Guest Account will prevent your guests from doing anything dangerous with your computer system.
    • To find out how to enable the Guest Account on your system, simply Google the words enable guest account for [your operating system]
    • Create a System Image Backup of your PC’s hard drive just in case your guest accidentally causes some serious issues with your computer.
    • Remove any stored passwords from your web browsers just in case one of your guests does happen to find a way to log into your personal user account.
    • Remove any notes or scraps of paper from your computer desk that might contain one or more of your passwords.
    • Make sure you have a quality antivirus program on your PC and ensure that auto-updates are enabled on it. I use and recommend the free version of Avast.
    • Enable Two-Factor Authentication on each of your online accounts.
    • Be prepared to remove any malware that might be left.
  • If you do all of this, you will have a happy holiday. Best of luck.
  • Email from Tuc in Chantilly, VA: Dear Doc. I used to watch Netflix on my computer but it got fried by lightning. I have decided that I don’t really need a computer now so I won’t be replacing it. I now watch Netflix on my iPhone 7 Plus but I’d really like to watch it on my 32 inch Samsung UN32J4000 TV. A family friend said I should be able to connect my phone to the TV through its HDMI port, but he isn’t sure. My first question is do you think I can connect the phone and TV together? And if I can, will it be expensive? What exactly will I need to buy? Tuc in Chantilly, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can indeed connect your iPhone to your Samsung TV (or any TV, computer monitor or projector that has an HDMI port for that matter). You will need a Lightning Digital AV Adapter. One end of this adapter will plug into your iPhone’s Lightning connector. The other end has a female HDMI connector on it. You will need an HDMI cable that’s long enough to reach from the adapter to your TV Simply connect the adapter to your phone, then connect the other end of the adapter to your TV with the HDMI cable. Once connected, the contents of your phone’s display (including your Netflix movies) will be mirrored on the TV screen.
  • If you still have a high-speed Internet connection and a Wi-Fi router you can use a $35 Chromecast device and skip the iPhone altogether. That is the best option.

Profiles in IT: Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace

  • Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace is best known as the first computer programmer, having working on Charles Baggages’s Analytical Engine.
  • Lovelace was born December 10, 1815. She was the only legitimate child of poet Lord Byron and his wife Lady Byron.
  • Her mother wanted her to learn mathematics, not poetry, to avoid her father’s well-known immorality. She excelled at both, other seeing mathematics within poetry.
  • Lovelace believed that intuition and imagination were critical to effectively applying mathematical and scientific concepts. She valued metaphysics as much as mathematics, viewing both as tools for exploring “the unseen worlds around us”.
  • From 1832, when she was seventeen, her mathematical abilities began to emerge, and her interest in mathematics dominated the majority of her adult life.
  • She was presented at Court at the age of seventeen “and became a popular belle of the season” in part because of her “brilliant mind.”
  • Lovelace first met Charles Babbage in June 1833, through their mutual friend Mary Somerville. Babbage invited Lovelace to see the prototype for his difference engine.
  • She became fascinated with the machine and visited Babbage as often as she could.
  • Babbage was impressed by her intellect. He called her “The Enchantress of Number”
  • On 8 July 1835, she married William King. They had three children.
  • King was made Earl of Lovelace in 1838, Ada became Countess of Lovelace.
  • In the 1840s, Ada flirted with scandals: extramarital affairs and gambling. She apparently lost more than £3,000 on the horses during the later 1840s, trying to perfect a mathematical model for successful large bets.
  • She was particularly interested in Babbage’s next device, the Analytical Engine. A steam powered mechanical computer.
  • In 1840, Babbage give a seminar at the University of Turin about his Analytical Engine. Luigi Menabrea transcribed Babbage’s lecture into French for an article.
  • Between 1842 and 1843, Ada translated the article, supplementing it with an elaborate set of notes.
  • In note G, she describes an algorithm for the Analytical Engine to compute Bernoulli numbers. It is considered to be the first algorithm ever specifically tailored for implementation on a computer.
  • Lovelace is now widely considered the first computer programmer and her methods are recognized as the world’s first computer program.
  • Ada saw something that Babbage failed to see. Babbage’s engines were bound by numbers. Ada realized that if those numbers could be symbols (like letters, musical notes), the machine could transition from a calculator to general-purpose computer.
  • Lovelace died at age 36 on November 27, 1852, from uterine cancer probably exacerbated by bloodletting by her physicians. The illness lasted several months.
  • In May 1979, the new DOD-1 programming language was named Ada in her honor.

History Mechanical Computers

  • The abacus, a simple counting aid, may have been invented in Babylonia (now Iraq) in the fourth century B.C.
  • The Antikythera (an ti ki ‘theer uh) mechanism, used for registering and predicting the motion of the stars and planets, is dated to the first century B.C. It was discovered off the coast of Greece in 1901.Accounted for leap year, irregularity in the Moon’s orbit.
  • Wilhelm Schickard builds the first mechanical calculator in 1623. It can work with six digits, and carries digits across columns. It works, but never makes it beyond the prototype stage. Schickard is a professor at the University of Tubingen, Germany.
  • Blaise Pascal builds a mechanical calculator in 1642. It has the capacity for eight digits, but has trouble carrying and its gears tend to jam.
  • Joseph-Marie Jacquard invents an automatic loom controlled by punch cards.
  • Charles Babbage conceives of a Difference Engine; in 1820 or 1821. It is a massive steam-powered mechanical calculator designed to print astronomical tables.
  • He attempts to build it over the course of the next 20 years, only to have the project cancelled by the British government in 1842.
  • Babbage’s next idea is the Analytical Engine – a mechanical computer that can solve any mathematical problem. It uses punch cards similar to those used by the Jacquard loom and can perform simple conditional operations.
  • Augusta Ada Byron, the countess of Lovelace, met Babbage in 1833. She describes the Analytical Engine as weaving algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.
  • Her published analysis of the Analytical Engine is our best record of its programming potential. In it she outlines the fundamentals of computer programming, including data analysis, looping and memory addressing.

Website of the Week: Minds on Toys

  • Web links:  www.mindsontoys.com
  • They sell the Digicomp Mechanical Computer V2
  • Digitcomp I V2 ($60)
  • Based on Digicomp I V1 which was sold in 1963
  • Digital Computer I V1 originally sold of $5.95
  • I ordered this computer and put it together a few years ago.

Warning of the Week: Beware of Phone Tech Support

  • An Apple store customer came home. Then she realized what the Genius had done
  • Someone at the genius bar went through her phone phone, found an intimate image of her, and texted it to himself.
  • She had to take her iPhone in for repair and remembered to delete some apps before she got to the Apple store.
  • She says she went to the store in Bakersfield, Calif., and, as so many customers do, trusted her iPhone to the so-called Genius.
  • The Genius took his time. She assumed he was just being thorough, even though he asked for her passcode twice.
  • When she got home, .she realized someone had texted a message to an unsaved number. And the message contained for very personal photos.
  • She immediately reported it to Apple and the employee was fired.
  • This also happened to a Verizon customers. That employee was arrested.
  • In 2012, a Best Buy customer alleged that not only had a repairman copied her intimate photos and made a CD of them.

The Supreme Court: Google vs Oracle

  • The US Supreme Court will take up a copyright lawsuit between Oracle and Google.
  • Oracle has claimed for years that Google’s Android operating system is built on stolen code from the Java software platform.
  • Google argues that it fairly developed its own alternative to Java code. Lower courts have sided with Google, but the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned their decisions multiple times.
  • It has concluded that companies can copyright application programming interface (API) packages, which are vital to making different software programs work together, and prevent other companies from using them commercially without a license.
  • Google has won multiple victories but had them reversed
  • The most recent ruling came in 2018, when the court declared that Google made non-fair use of Java’s API.
  • Google petitioned the Supreme Court in January of 2019, asking it to overturn the appeals court decision for the good of the software industry.
  • Microsoft, Mozilla, and several other companies supported Google’s petition, arguing that the Federal Circuit ruling would destroy developers’ ability to freely build new programs that work with existing software platforms.
  • The internet advocacy groups Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation also came out in support of Google.
  • Oracle and Google’s dispute has lasted nearly a decade. Oracle sued Google after it acquired Java owner Sun Microsystems in 2010, alleging that Google had infringed on copyrights and patents for Java.
  • Google definitively won the patent suit in 2012, and it was handed a copyright victory soon after.
  • However, Oracle appealed that decision, leading to years of legal war between the companies.
  • Google unsuccessfully asked the Supreme Court to examine an earlier Federal Circuit ruling in 2014.

Humans are Learning Engines.

  • Constraints of our DNA (720 MB, fits on a DVD)
  • Un-programmed neural networks are a way to bypass these constraints
  • We are born with the desire to learn, matched with a strong curiosity
  • Babies are learning engines. They learn without lecture or textbook.
  • Do you ever delight in watching babies learning to walk? What do you notice? They fall a lot. You never question why they fall. It is obvious they are learning. But why do they get back up? When they pull themselves up to try again, why are they smiling and giggling instead of crying. The answer is that they find joy in learning, growing, and gaining mastery.” Susan Fowler, in “Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work..and What Does.”
  • We need to let our children teach themselves, think through problems
  • We must provide formative feedback, insightful questions, and encouragement.
  • We need to reinvent education, as though all students were still learning like babies.
  • Time to learn should be dictated by the student, not the school. Learning rate and learning capacity are independent variables.
  • Schools should be designed to educate, not to rank students.