Show of 11-23-2019

Tech Talk

November 23, 2019

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from June in Burke: Dear Doc. Thanks Doc for your info on data blockers. I enjoy your podcasts at work and can go back to previous weeks. I know you recommend AVAST software for virus scanning. DOD has banned its use on their systems. Any thoughts. Thanks. Security prone in Burke VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Avast was founded by Eduard Kučera and Pavel Baudiš in 1988. The founders met each other at the Research Institute for Mathematical Machines in Czechoslovakia. They studied math and computer science, because the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia would require them to join the communist party to study physics. At the Institute, Pavel Baudiš discovered the Vienna virus on a floppy disk and developed the first program to remove it. Afterwards, he asked Eduard Kucera to join him in cofounding Avast as a cooperative. The cooperative was originally called Alwil and only the software was named Avast.
  • The cooperative was changed to a joint partnership in 1991, two years after the velvet revolution caused a regime change in Czechoslovakia. The new regime severed ties with the Soviet Union and reverted the country’s economic system to a market economy. In 1995, Avast employee Ondřej Vlček wrote the first antivirus program for the Windows 95 operating system. In the 1990s security researchers at the Virus Bulletin, an IT security testing organization, gave the Avast an award in every category tested, increasing the popularity of the software. In 2001, Avast converted to a freemium model, offering a base Avast software product at no cost. As a result of the freemium model, the number of users of the software grew to one million by 2004[8] and 20 million by 2006. In 2010, Alwil changed its name to Avast, adopting the name of the software, and raised $100 million in venture capital investments. By 2013, Avast had 200 million users in 38 countries.
  • I suspect that DOD is simply concerned that it could still be influenced by Russia and may fear a back door into the software. DOD has become increasingly worried about foreign software, particularly software that relates to cybersecurity. I still think that AVAST is a good option for your home computer, but I agree with DOD’s caution regarding its deployment on the enterprise.
  • Email from Jim in Michigan: Dear Doc and Jim. I have an email client that does not have the undo option. Sometimes I will delete a sentence in error and would like to undo the action, but cannot. Is a anyway to perform this function using some time of keyboard command? I am using Windows 10 on my laptop. Jim in Michigan
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you are unfamiliar with them, clicking “Undo” will reverse the last change you made to a text file, a Word document, a photo or most anything else that you can edit. Clicking “Redo” will reverse the “Undo” and make the change you “undid” active once again.
  • Since you are running Windows, you have both Undo and Redo, using keyboard cominations. All you have to do is:
    • Press the Ctrl+Z key combination for Undo
    • Press the Ctrl+Y key combination for Redo
  • Email form Saqi in Herndon: Dear Doc and Jim. What should I do, if accidentally land on a malicious website and get a warning message that my computer is infected? This happened to my son recently. Thanks for a great show. Saqi in Herndon
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you happen to load a malicious web page into your web browser, bad things can happen quickly. Some malicious web pages don’t offer any clues as to their devious nature, but many of them do. Here are a few of the clues to look out for:
    • You landed on a page that you were not expecting to land on when you clicked a link.
    • You click a link and your computer instantly freezes up (it won’t respond to any mouse clicks or key presses).
    • Instead of an actual web page (or perhaps in addition to one) you see a message warning you that your computer has a virus.
    • A message pops up on the screen demanding that you pay a ransom.
    • You notice strange things happening, like new toolbars on your browser or your mouse pointer starts jumping around the screen on its own, etc..
  • First, don’t do either of the following:
    • DO NOT click the “Back” button in your browser or interact with the current web page in any way.
    • DO NOT call any phone number listed on a warning message. If you do you’ll be calling a scammer, not Microsoft or Apple.
  • Now that you know what not to do, here are the things you should do:
    • Shut down your computer.
    • First, try shutting it down the usual way by clicking the Shutdown option on the Start menu.
    • If you can’t get the computer to shut down that way, you can force it to shut down by pressing and holding the PC’s Power button.
    • Turn the computer back on and allow it to boot back up into Windows.
    • Run the scans in this post to track down and remove any malware that the malicious web page might have downloaded onto your machine.
    • Clear your browser’s cache to prevent the possibility of accidentally revisiting a cached version of the malicious page. This page explains how to quickly clear the cache in any popular web browser.
  • That’s all there is to it. Your computer should now be cleaned of any malware that was placed on it by the malicious website
  • Email from Doug in Houston: Dear Tech Talk. I run a business that deals with some pretty sensitive customer data that I would really prefer not to have stored in the cloud. I know that cloud storage is supposed to be encrypted and secure, but with all the hacking going on these days I just don’t trust it. Right now we’re using dual 2TB external USB hard drives to back up all of our data but I’m worried that a fire could wipe it all out. What I’d really like to get is a 4TB external hard drive that’s fireproof. Do you know where I might be able to get one? Doug in Houston
  • Tech Talk Responds: A company called ioSafe makes great hard drive enclosures that are not only fireproof, but waterproof as well. ioSafe makes a device called the ioSafe Solo G3. This 4TB fireproof and waterproof drive will hold all of your data and protect it from being lost due to fire or water damage. It is $399 on Amazon.
  • But I would also recommend that you backup to a remote location. Rsync is a popular Linux application that allows us to transfer, synchronize and backup files over computers. It is an effective way to sync or backup your computer to other computer and even to cloud storage. There are versions of rsync written for windows. This redundancy will give you peace of mind.
    • DeltaCopy — DeltaCopy is a free and open source, fast incremental backup program for Windows. It is a client server application which means you will need to install on both computers act as server and client.
    • Acrosync — Acrosync is another simple Rsync Alternative for Windows. Acrosync uses the native rsync technology on Windows OS. Acrosync comes with a simple and very easy user interface. A personal license is $29.99.
  • Email from Roger in Baltimore: I have an iPhone11. Is it waterproof and what do those rating really mean? Thanks for a great podcast. Roger in Baltimore
  • Tech Talk Responds: The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max each have an IP68 rating. These devices can withstand a depth of up to 4 meters for 30 minutes.. The iPhone XS and XS Max come in a close second, with an IP68 rating. These devices can withstand a depth of 2 meters for up to 30 minutes. The iPhone 7, 8, X, and their respective Plus/Max models each achieved an IP67 rating for a depth of 1 meter up to 30 minutes. The iPhone 6s lacks any kind of water or dust resistant rating.
  • This protection is defined by an IP (Ingress Protection) rating of IP67 or IP68.
  • The first number determines how effective the device is at deterring solids like dust and sand. In this instance 6 is the highest rating. The second number (7 or 8) determines how effective the device is at preventing liquids from entering. The IP67 rating guarantees a device can be submerged for a depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes and remain functional. An IP68 rating means the device can withstand depths of beyond 1 meter, though the test duration and precise depth not defined.

Profiles in IT: Dmitry Grishin

  • Dmitry Grishin is a Russian Internet entrepreneur best known as the co-founder Mail.ru Group and a pioneer in Russia’s internet presence, Runet.
  • Dmitry Grishin was born October 15, 1978, in Kapustin Yar, a Russian rocket launch and development site in Astrakhan Oblast.
  • His father was a designer of radar systems for the MiG-29 jet fighter.
  • At the age of 12, Grishin saw a VCR for the first time and the mechanics of the machine sparked his lifelong interest in robotics.
  • During his sixth year of school, his parents bought him a basic computer, the Electronika BK, with which he played games and created his own programs.
  • While attending Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Grishin started working for the U.S. software company Axiom International, overseeing programmers in Florida from his student hostel in Moscow.
  • He worked as Senior Software Developer and IT Consultant while with Axiom.
  • In March 2000 he began to work for netBridge as head of the project development division of the online auction site Molotok.ru. a year later, he was promoted to CTO.
  • In 2001, after the dot-com bubble burst, netBridge and Port.ru merged in 2001.
  • That same year, Grishin earned his CAD degree with a red diploma for outstanding performance and became head of the service center for what was then called Mail.ru.
  • By December 2001, he was the company’s technical director. He became executive director in June 2002 and succeeded Yuri Milner as CEO in April 2003.
  • Under Grishin, Mail.ru expanded to become Russia’s second largest web company by revenue. It provides a suite of consumer products including chat services, e-mail, and a social network, Odnoklassniki.
  • In 2010, Mail.ru held the first large IPO by a Russian internet firm, raising $912M.
  • 90% of Russian internet users regularly use Mail.ru’s services.
  • In November 2013, Grishin launched Mail.ru’s U.S. subsidiary, My.com. My.com is based in the Netherlands with operations in California.
  • Since launching, My.com has released a suite of mobile messaging, e-mail and gaming applications for iOS and Android devices.
  • In 2013, Grishin was named to MIT Technology Review’s “35 Innovators Under 35”.
  • He resides in Moscow, and is married with one child. He speaks Russian, English and Chinese.
  • In 2016, Grishin stepped down as CEO of Mail.ru, but remains Chairman.
  • In June 2012, Grishin founded a venture capital investment firm, Grishin Robotics, initially capitalized $25 million from his personal fortune. The company initially focused on investments in the field of personal robotics worldwide.
  • Through these investments, Grishin said he hopes to raise the profile of the robotics industry and bring robots to the homes and offices of tens of millions of people.

Tip of the Week: Digital Tools for Dyslexia

  • Dyslexia is a learning condition characterized by difficulties with reading and, to a lesser extent, writing. As the web is full of written content, the right fonts and extensions can make consuming digital content much easier for those with dyslexia.
  • People with dyslexia often “see” letters swapping places, turning back to front, melting together, or just generally changing in ways that make it difficult or impossible to read. The right font can help stop these problems, or at least alleviate them enough that reading is possible.
  • Fonts — There are two big names in the world of dyslexia fonts: OpenDyslexic and Dyslexie Font. Both are popular, both are free, and you can install one or both and use them whenever you want.
  • Browser Extensions — The most popular browser extension (based on downloads) is Helperbird, available for both Chrome and Firefox. Helperbird has a wide range of options, including changing fonts to dyslexia-friendly ones such as OpenDyslexic, changing colors, text-to-speech, tint overlay, and much more. Unfortunately, the full verison is $4.99 per month.

Food Science: Frozen Turkey

  • Peter Snyder, Jr., Ph.D. has a new way to roast your Thanksgiving turkey: put it in the oven frozen solid. Snyder is the president of the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management in St. Paul , Minnesota .
  • A common problem on Thanksgiving is waking up on Thanksgiving morning and realizing that the turkey has not been thawed, and there is not enough time to thaw the turkey in the refrigerator or in flowing water at 70 degrees F, which takes hours.
  • However, there is a very simple solution – cook the entire turkey from the frozen state.
  • The FDA Food Code allows this. The HACCP-based procedure for cooking a 12-to-13-lb. frozen turkey is shown below.
    • Start 5 to 5 1/2 hours before you want to serve the cooked turkey. Set the oven temperature at 325 degrees It is much better that the turkey be done 30 minutes before mealtime than to rush and serve an undercooked turkey.
    • Remove the wrapping from the turkey and put the turkey on a rack on a pan that has been covered with foil to make cleaning easy.
    • In the first 2 to 2 1/2 hours, the legs and thighs get up to approximately 100 degrees The breast, about 1 inch into the flesh, is still at the soft ice point, about 25 degrees F. At this point, begin to monitor breast temperature.
    • After about 3 1/2 hours, the legs and thighs will be around 150 to 160 degrees F, and the breast, about 40 to 50 degrees The bag of heart, liver, etc. and the neck can be removed.
    • At 4 1/2 to 5 hours, the turkey is nicely cooked. Check the temperature. The leg and thigh should be tender and at a temperature of 175 to 185 degrees F, while the breast will be moist at a temperature of 160 to 170 degrees.
  • Cooking a turkey from the frozen state has benefits over cooking a thawed turkey.
    • If one thaws a turkey in a home refrigerator, there is a significant risk of raw juice with pathogens at high levels getting on refrigerator surfaces, other foods in the refrigerator, countertops, and sink, thus creating a hazard and a need for extensive cleaning and sanitizing.
    • The second benefit is that, because the breast has greater mass, it takes longer to thaw. Therefore, the thigh and leg are well cooked and tender, while the breast is not overcooked and dried out. The breast will cook to a juicy 160-to-165 degrees F endpoint without difficulty.

Food Science: Gravy without Lumps

  • Grains have both starch and protein. Starch provides food when the seed begins to grow. If you remove the protein from corn flour, for instance, you get corn starch. Most sauces and gravies are thickened with some kind of starch. The most common are flour and cornstarch, though potato starch, arrowroot and tapioca flour also work well. When starch is in liquid it gels around 130-160 F. The transition is dramatic. The key is to manage this gelling process to keep from getting lumps.
  • If you attempt to thicken a pan sauce or gravy by simply stirring flour into the simmering liquid, you will inevitably end up with lumps. This is because the starch around each lump of flour expands rapidly when it comes into contact with hot liquid, forming a sort of waterproof gel that prevents the granules from separating properly. The same is true for any other starch.
  • To prevent this, you need to separate the granules before adding them to the sauce so that they can slowly disperse and expand to create the desired thickening effect.
  • You can accomplish this in several ways. The first is to use what’s called a roux. Made from a mixture of fat – either pan drippings or butter – and flour, a roux is slowly cooked on its own before it is added to the sauce. The fat helps the starch to expand and separate, and it lubricates it so it can be smoothly incorporated into the liquid. A roux should be cooked, then cooled slightly, then whisked into the sauce when you’re ready to thicken it. The precooking also eliminates the unpleasant raw-flour taste that sometimes occurs if a sauce isn’t simmered long enough.
  • Another method is to use kneaded butter. This is essentially the same as a roux, only the flour is worked into the butter by hand or with a fork, then formed into small balls and added, uncooked, to a sauce.
  • If you want a medium-thick sauce or gravy, you should add about 2 tablespoons of flour per cup of liquid. If you’re using cornstarch, use 2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons per cup.

Good News of the Week: Passwords Protected by Fifth Amendment

  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a forceful opinion today holding that the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from being forced to disclose the passcode to their devices to the police.
  • In a 4-3 decision in Commonwealth v. Davis, the court found that disclosing a password is “testimony” protected by the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination.
  • The Fifth Amendment privilege prohibits the government from coercing a confession or forcing a suspect to lead police to incriminating evidence. Unlocking and decrypting a smartphone or computer is the modern equivalent of these forms of self-incrimination.
  • Crucially, the court held that the narrow “foregone conclusion exception” to the Fifth Amendment does not apply to disclosing passcodes.
  • This exception applies only when an individual is forced to comply with a subpoena for business records and only when complying with the subpoena does not reveal the “contents of his mind,” as the U.S. Supreme Court put it.

Russia bans Sale of Devices without Russian-made Software

  • Russia has passed a law banning the sale of certain devices that are not pre-installed with Russian software.
  • The law will come into force in July 2020 and cover smartphones, computers and smart televisions.
  • Proponents of the legislation say it is aimed at promoting Russian technology and making it easier for people in the country to use the gadgets they buy.
  • But there are concerns about surveillance and fears that firms could pull out of the Russian market.
  • The law will not mean devices from other countries cannot be sold with their normal software – but Russian “alternatives” will also have to be installed.
  • The Association of Trading Companies and Manufacturers of Electrical Household and Computer Equipment (RATEK) has said it will not be possible to install Russian-made software on some devices and that the international companies behind the gadgets may leave the Russian market as a result of the law.
  • Others have raised concerns that the Russian-made software could be used to spy on users.
  • Russia has introduced tougher internet laws over the last five years, including requiring search engines to delete some search results and calling on messaging services to share encryption keys.
  • The latest legislation comes just weeks after the country introduced new controls on the internet through its “sovereign internet” law. In theory, the law gives officials wide-ranging powers to restrict traffic on the Russian web.

Idea of the Week: First Kingdom in Space

  • Website: https://asgardia.space/en/
  • Asgardia is a non-governmental organization that wants to become the first kingdom and nation-state in space.
  • Asgardia was created with three top goals in mind: to ensure the peaceful use of space, to protect the Earth from space hazards, and to create a demilitarized and free scientific base of knowledge in space.
  • Asgardia also has a long-term objective of setting up habitable platforms in space and building settlements on the Moon.
  • The nation will create a new legal platform for the exploration of near-Earth and deep space is crucial to keep pace with humanity’s rapid technological and scientific expansion off-planet.
  • Universal space law and astro-politics have to replace the current outdated international space law and geopolitics.
  • On Saturday, the group’s 150 elected representatives met for Asgardia’s first parliamentary session in Tallinn, Estonia.
  • More than 300,000 people are already paying Asgardia’s annual “residency” fee.
  • Asgardia’s goal is to transport thousands of people to an enormous space station by 2043, beyond Earth’s jurisdictions, to “build a new democratic society.”
  • The project, founded by billionaire Russian scientist and politician Igor Ashurbeyli, is currently chaired by former British politician Lembit Opik.
  • Starting small, there is already an online shop selling mugs, badges and T-shirts “for the discerning Asgardian”.
  • Asgardia was founded by Ashurbeyli in 2016 — or “Year 0” in the Asgardian calendar – and it now boasts an elected body of 150 members from all over the world, after online elections last year.
  • At present, Asgardia has three tiers of members: “followers”, “residents”, and “citizens.”