Show of 12-07-2019

Tech Talk

December 7, 2019

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Ron in Miami, FL: Dear Doc and Jim. I have a 64GB USB flash drive that I use to transfer files back and forth between my work computer and my home computer. Both of these computers have Windows 10 on them. I have been using this flash drive every day for about two years with no problems at all. Starting last week every time I insert the drive into either computer I get a message saying the drive has a problem and needs to be scanned and fixed. I have clicked the button to scan drive and fix the drive several times but I always get the same message the next time I plug it into a computer. Is there any way to fix this problem or do I need to just replace the drive? I really like this one because it’s small and it attaches to my key ring. Ron in Miami, Florida
  • Tech Talk Responds: The most common cause of this “Scan and Fix” issue is removing the drive from the computer without properly “ejecting” it. When a flash drive is connected to a PC a little “Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media” icon should be present in the “Notifications” area of the screen. When you click that icon it tells Windows that you’re finished using the drive and you’re ready to remove it from the computer. Windows will then write any files that are waiting to be written to the drive and then unmount it, making it safe to remove it from the PC.
  • Now that you know how to digitally “eject” a removable drive, try this to see if it fixes the “scan and fix” issue with the drive you’re having problems with:
    • Insert the flash drive into an open USB port.
    • When prompted, click the “There is a problem with this drive…” notification, then click Scan and fix.
  • Windows will now scan the drive and attempt to fix any errors that it finds. If the repair was successful you can keep using the drive as you have in the past (just be sure to “eject” it every time before you remove it from the computer).
  • If Windows tells you that it was not able to repair the drive that means it likely has a hardware issue that cannot be fixed. You will need to stop using this drive and replace it with a new one. If it continues to fail, replace the drive. If you have been using every day for two years, it’s likely that the drive indeed has developed a hardware problem than cannot be permanently repaired.
  • Email from Mathew Chase in Chevy Chase: Shurtz: As they say on sports talk radio “long time, first time.” I try and catch the show virtually every Saturday morning and it is great. Gmail is driving me stark raving mad!  When I send an email to someone who has a Gmail mailbox, Gmail automatically routes it to the spam folder.  So either I have to call the recipient or email them from another email address to tell them to look in the spam folder and mark the message as “not spam.” This makes for twice as much work and frankly I don’t always remember to do so. Can you help? Thank you, Matthew Bogin in Chevy Chase, MD.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Google is apparently treating your domain as a source of spam. The algorithm that Google uses looks at various attributes of your domain. They are particularly concerned with address spoofing and unfettered forwarding. Here is link that deals with the problem. (https://support.google.com/mail/thread/4421235?hl=en).
  • When you put your domain name into the first link in that article (https://toolbox.googleapps.com/apps/checkmx/), it shows that your domain has four issues that might allow someone to spoof your email address. Have your IT support address these four problems.
    • DKIM is not set up. DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is an email authentication method designed to detect forged sender addresses in emails (email spoofing), a technique often used in phishing and email spam.
    • DMARC is not set up. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) is an email authentication protocol. It is designed to give email domain owners the ability to protect their domain from unauthorized use, commonly known as email spoofing.
    • There should be a valid SPF record. An SPF record is a Sender Policy Framework record. It’s used to indicate to mail exchanges which hosts are authorized to send mail for a domain.
    • No Google mail exchangers found. Relay host configuration? If you email is not configured properly, an spammer can use your mail server as a relay for their spam.
  • BTW, I also checked to see if your domain was blacklisted by anyone using MX Toolbox Blacklist Checker (https://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx). I simply put in your domain name, and you were blacklisted by anyone. Congratulations.
  • Email from Emma in New Jersey: Dear Tech Talk. A friend of mine recently has his Facebook page cloned and it has created a huge problem for him. How can I keep this from happening to me? Love the podcast. Emma in Pennsylvania
  • Tech Talk Responds: Scammers are cloning Facebook accounts all the time.
  • Cloning, is where a scammer creates a completely new Facebook account in your name and populates it with photos and personal information they’ve copied from your real account. They then use the new fake account to send friend requests to all the people on your real account’s friends list.
  • Since it appears to the friends receiving the friend requests that they were sent by you, some of them will accept it. This of course results in those friends now also being “friends” with the fake account that was created by the scammer.
  • Scammers typically try to target accounts for cloning that have a fairly large number of friends.
  • There is one simple settings change that can make your account very unattractive to a potential scammer who might be interested in cloning it: Hide your friends list from the public by changing its privacy level to Only me.
  • Setting the privacy of your friends list to “Only me” makes it an unattractive target for cloning because the scammers would not know who to send friend requests to from the cloned account.
  • If you access Facebook via a web browser on a laptop or desktop computer:
    • Log in to your Facebook account using your preferred web browser.
    • Click on your name in the upper right-hand corner in order to go to your Timeline.
    • Click the Friends link.
    • Click the pencil shaped icon just to the right of the “Find Friends” button.
    • Click Edit Privacy.
    • On the line that reads “Who can see your friend list?“, click the down arrow at the far right and select Only me.
    • Click Done.
  • Now that your friends list is private there’s very little risk that it will ever get cloned.
  • Email from Stu in Kilmarnock, VA: Dear Tech Talk. I have having trouble connecting to my router at home. This is particularly troublesome when I have to get work done. What could be the problem? Stu in Kilmarnock, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: While they can be quite irritating, many Internet connection problems can be fixed with a simple reboot procedure.
  • It might take you a few minutes to reboot all of your Internet-related devices, but it’s a simple procedure that will fix most any transient glitch that happens to afflict your local network. Here’s how to do it the right way:
    • Shut down your computer(s) and turn off your mobile device(s).
    • Unplug the power cords to both your modem and your router.
    • Disconnect the modem from the cable that connects it to your ISP’s grid.
    • Leave everything disconnected and powered down for a full two minutes.
    • After the two minutes are up, reconnect the coaxial cable to the modem.
    • Power up your computer and/or mobile devices.
    • Reconnect the power cord to your router and then wait a minute or so until it boots up and the lights become somewhat stable.
    • Reconnect the power cord to your modem and wait however long it takes for the lights to come on and stabilize. Be aware that a little flickering by some of the lights at all times is normal.
    • Try to access the Internet in the usual manner.
  • If the reboot procedure fixed the problem you won’t have to call your ISP for tech support and possibly wait hours or days for them to send a technician to your house.
  • Of course there’s always a chance there’s a problem on your ISP’s end that a simple reboot procedure can’t fix.

Profiles in IT: Radia Joy Perlman

  • Radia Perlman developed the baseline routing algorithms that are used on the Internet and is also known as “Mother of the Internet.”
  • Perlman was born in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1952.
  • Perlman grew up near Asbury Park, New Jersey. Her father worked on radar and her mother was a mathematician by training who worked as a computer programmer.
  • Perlman found math and science to be effortless and fascinating. She enjoyed playing the piano and French horn. It was not until her high school programming class that she considered computers as a career.
  • Perlman obtained a BS (1973) and MS (1976) both in Mathematics.
  • She was one among the 50 or so women students, in a class of about 1,000 students.
  • As an undergraduate at MIT Perlman learned programming for a physics class.
  • In 1971, she worked as a programmer at the MIT AI Laboratory, where she developed a child-friendly version of the educational robotics language LOGO.
  • In 1976, when she needed to find an adviser for her thesis, she joined the MIT group at BBN Technologies. There she first got involved with designing network protocols.
  • In 1980, she joined Digital Equipment Company. DEC had been trying to get computers to share information in a reliable manner and asked for her help.
  • She received her PhD in Computer Science from MIT in 1988. Her doctoral thesis at MIT addressed the issue of routing in the presence of malicious network failures.
  • While working at DEC, she was tasked with developing a straightforward protocol which enabled network bridges to locate loops in a local area network (LAN).
  • Sh invented the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), which is fundamental to the operation of network bridges. It eliminates loops by only allowing one path between nodes.
  • Perlman was the principal designer of the DECnet IV and V protocols, which are part of the DECnet network protocol suite for peer-to-peer network architectures.
  • She also made major contributions to the Connectionless Network Protocol (CLNP).
  • Perlman has collaborated with Yakov Rekhter on developing network routing standards, such as the Open System Interconnection Routing Protocol (IDRP).
  • She helped to improve the intermediate-system to intermediate-system routing protocol, known as IS-IS, so that it could route the Internet Protocol (IP), AppleTalk and the Internetwork Packet Exchange (IPX) protocol.
  • At DEC she oversaw the transition from distance vector to link-state routing protocols. The Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) protocol relied in part on Perlman’s research on fault-tolerant broadcasting of routing information.
  • Perlman subsequently worked as network engineer and Fellow for Sun Microsystems, now Oracle. She specialized on network and security protocols.
  • Honors: National Inventors Hall of Fame (2016), the Internet Hall of Fame (2014), Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision Award (2005), Data Communications 20 Most Influential People (1992 and 1997).

Spanning Tree Algorithm Poem by Radia Perlman

  • I think that I shall never see
  • A graph more lovely than a tree.
  • A tree whose crucial property
  • Is loop-free connectivity.
  • A tree which must be sure to span
  • So packets can reach every LAN.
  • First the root must be selected.
  • By ID it is elected.
  • Least cost paths from root are traced.
  • In the tree these paths are placed.
  • A mesh is made by folks like me
  • Then bridges find a spanning tree.

Europe Just Ran out of New IPv4 addresses

  • The final block of new IPv4 addresses is handed out even as IPv6 adoption remains sluggish.
  • The organization responsible for allocating new IP addresses across in Europe, the Middle East and parts of central Asia says it has finally run out of IPv4 addresses.
  • The news is not a total surprise; rather, it has been expected since 2012 when RIPE NCC got its final allocation of IP addresses from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).
  • However, as the only source of ‘new’ IPv4 addresses in the region, the RIPE NCC said its announcement would increase pressure on network operators and raises concerns over scalable internet growth.
  • Any IPv4 addresses returned to RIPE NCC from now on, such as from organizations that have gone out of business, or from networks that return addresses they no longer need, will be allocated via a waiting list. This may provide a few hundred thousand per year.
  • Despite warnings, the successor to IPv4 — IPv6 – has still not been widely adopted, and much of the internet today still runs on older IPv4 networks.
  • In recent years, this scarcity has fueled a substantial secondary market in used IPv4 addresses, with prices ranging from 10-30 euros per address, meaning the IPv4 transfer market is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars globally.

Hack of the Week: Intercepting Key Fob Signal to Steal Car

  • In 2018, 62 percent of cars sold use keyless ignition as standard equipment, up from 11 percent in 2008, according to car-buying site Edmunds.
  • Keyless ignition systems come with a fob that transmits a unique low-frequency signal to the car’s computer system, which then validates that the correct signal has been sent and allows you to push a button on the dashboard or console to unlock the doors and start the engine.
  • Hackers can take advantage of this by using a cheap relay box to copy and transmit the signal from your key fob while it is still inside your home or on your person, making it easy to steal your vehicle. This is called a relay attack.
  • Here’s how it works: Each person carries a relay box, which can be purchased for as little as $20 online. The boxes can pick up the radio frequency from a car key fob that is sitting on a table inside, hung up on a key rack, or even resting in a purse.
  • The relay boxes allow one person to stand near the home to pick up and amplify the key fob signal and then transmit it to the second box, which the other person holds outside the door of a car.
  • Once the key fob signal reaches the second box, it unlocks the door, as the car thinks you’re holding your key fob nearby. Now the criminals just have to drive away without being caught and then change the locks.
  • Virtually every car with an automatic-open key fob is susceptible to theft, even if it is not push-to-start.
  • You can protect yourself by putting blocking the RF signal. You can buy a signal blocking Faraday Bag (two pack) from $9.99 on Amazon. Or you can also try wrapping the keys tightly in tin foil

Trump Plans to Throttle H1-B and OPT

  • These sweeping changes, if implemented, could change the face of US technology.
  • One of the big targets is the H1-B, a category of visas that US companies and Indian IT services outfits have been accused of gaming to their advantage, thereby displacing American programmers.
  • While the number of H-1B rejections have soared to unprecedented levels — from 6% to 24% — a new approach that details eliminating computer programming as a specialty occupation may well be the final nail in the coffin of the H1-B program.
  • There may be some justice in these high denials because of the dodgy operations of Indian body shops in the past.
  • It remains to be seen whether it damages the prospects of those who are not your average coders, but who in fact do have specialty skills in robotics or AI that pretty much every US company desperately needs and is in short supply of in the US.
  • There is also a plan to do away with the H-4 visa that will prevent spouses of H-1Bs from working and retroactively stop 80,000 people from doing so.
  • The Trump administration is planning significant reduction or elimination of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) from a maximum of three years for STEM students, and one for others.
  • OPT is one of the big reasons foreign graduates spend significant amounts of money to come to the United States for their studies but it is also a huge reason that graduate engineering programs churn out some of the best brains in advanced fields for US industry.
  • The Trump administration had set a target date of August 2020 for the rule change but is possibly quite happy to wait and see how a lawsuit filed against the OPT program by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, a labor union, goes.
  • If the court rules in favor of limiting or eliminating the OPT entirely it would have done the job of the administration.
  • NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, says that foreign students bring in $40 billion into the US economy and support 450,000 domestic jobs who will now simply depart to other international student-friendly destinations such as Canada, Australia, and the UK.
  • We are shooting ourselves in the foot. Almost half of all Fortune 500 companies were started by first generation immigrants or their children. 55% of billion dollar startups were started by immigrants. In the tech alone, companies like Google, eBay, and Sun Microsystems are a handful among thousands of small, medium, and large firms founded by immigrants and employing hundreds of thousands of Americans who used the OPT as a springboard towards other goals.

Demographic Bonus: What does it Matter to the US?

  • Demographic bonus occurs when a nation produces a high number of youth who are not encumbered with the costs of additional children.
  • It usually occurs as a country transitions from agriculture to industrial.
  • In the beginning, married women has 6.5 babies per person.
  • Then health care comes in. Babies do not die in childbirth and the populatin soars
  • Then education come in. The women say no to 6.5 babies and birth rate drops
  • This leads to a generation of youth who are unencumbered with large families and who are in a position to contribute to the economy.
  • It happened in southern India in the last fifteen years. That bonus fueled the IT revolution in southern India (Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai).
  • The average age in India in 26. The average age in southern India is 35. The average age in northern India is 22.
  • Northern India will enjoy a demographic in the next ten years and will produce 20 million workers for the world economy.
  • Indonesia is also poised to enjoy a demographic bonus.
  • The average age is the US is 45. The average age in Europe is 48.
  • Without immigration from countries enjoying a demographic bonus, the economy in the US falter and the US will lose it leading position in innovation and creation of wealth.