Show of 12-21-2019

 TECH TALK

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments taken from previous shows.

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Jim in Michigan: I have an older Sony stereo system that I’d love to connect some Bluetooth speakers and headphones to. The problem is the stereo doesn’t have Bluetooth built in. Is there any way to connect Bluetooth speakers/headphones to one of these old non-Bluetooth stereos? Jim in Michigan
  • Tech Talk Responds: I’ll be glad to answer your question George, and the answer is yes. You can indeed connect Bluetooth speakers and headphones to an older stereo system or TV by using an device called a Bluetooth Transmitter/Receiver. TaoTronics Long Range Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter Receiver is a good option ($49 on Amazon). These devices are very affordable, and they work quite well. They are also pretty easy to install and configure. All you have to do is connect the device to your stereo’s audio output jacks and then pair the speakers to the transmitter. Once the devices are paired with each other you’ll be able to place the speakers or headphones anywhere that’s within range of the transmitter’s Bluetooth signal and listen to the music you love via your older stereo equipment!
  • Email from Doug in Arlington, VA: Dear Doc and Jim. I can’t log into my router because I lost the password and I need to log into it to make some much-needed changes. I’m so frustrated right now that I’m seriously thinking about not even putting a password on my router and Wi-Fi connection once I manage to get into the settings screen again! I heard there are programs that you can download from the Internet that’ll hack into your router and give you the password. Can you recommend a good one? Doug in Arlington, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: The best way to solve your problem is to reset your router back to factory defaults. Then you will be able to log into it using the default username and password. You’ll need your router’s user manual in order to reset the router back to the factory default settings. Just make sure you download the manual for your specific router brand and model. If you no longer have the manual, you should be able to access an online copy of it or even download a free .PDF copy from the manufacturer’s website. Performing a factory reset on a router typically involves pressing and holding a reset button for a few seconds. After you have reset your router, log into the settings utility by following the instructions listed in the manual. This typically involves plugging your router into your computer with an Ethernet cable, then visiting your router’s IP address with a web browser and logging in using the default username and password that is listed in the manual. Once you have successfully logged into your router using the default username and password, you can change them and make any other changes that you wish to make.
  • While I can certainly understand your motivation for wanting to do so, you really shouldn’t leave your router unprotected against hackers. I strongly recommend that you never bring a router online without protecting it’s login screen by choosing a really strong password and locking down the Wi-Fi network by enabling the strongest encryption method on it that the router supports.
  • Email from Helen in Rockville: Dear Doc and Jim. I have noticed that a number of my emails w/attachments have not been delivered. One ISP actually told me the email was not delivered. I divided it into 2 emails and it seemed to be delivered. Could this be my problem (I receive large files up to 20mb regularly) or a problem with my correspondent’s email account? Helen in Rockville
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are many reasons emails with attachments fail to be delivered.
  • Spam filters —Perhaps the single biggest issue is that emailed attachments are the number one vector for malware. The result is that ISPs, mail programs, and mail servers are all extremely suspicious of any and all attachments.
  • Reputation —Every aspect of an email carries with it a reputation. Free email services in particular (Hotmail, Outlook.com, Gmail.com, etc.) have a slightly higher chance of being flagged as spam than, say, email from a business domain.
  • Explicit attachment blockers —Many email programs now come pre-configured to block access to some or all attachments. The recipient must indicate which attachments are accepted.
  • Size matters — Large files have always been a problem for email, and ISPs regularly disallow emails that exceed a certain size. If your ISP allows you to send a large file, it does not guarantee that your recipient’s ISP will allow him to receive it.
  • Another Option — Do not send attachments. Instead, use a cloud storage service like Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, or others. The process is fairly simple:
    • Upload your file or files to your cloud storage provider.
    • Get a sharing link2 from that provider (usually by right-clicking on the file or folder in that provider’s interface).
    • Include that link in the email you send to your intended audience, rather than including the actual file(s).
    • Your recipient can then download the file as needed.
  • Email from Wendy in Falls Church: Dear Tech Talk. What is the best way to allow, my bedroom lamps to be controlled with my smart phone or with Amazon Echo? Wendy in Falls Church, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: You have two options: a smart plug or a smart light bulb. I like to use the Kasa Smart WiFi Plug by TP-Link. It works with Alexa and Google and no hub is required. I also use Hue smart lightbulbs. They also work with Alexa and Google, but require a separate hub to connect to Wi-Fi. Both have a cell phone app to control the devices remotely. If you need only soft white light, you can use the Hue A19 LED 60W Equivalent Dimmable Smart Wireless Bulb, which is $13.97 on Amazon. I, however, has the full color LED lights, which cost arount $60 a bulb. I would recommend getting the three-pack, which includes the hub. The hub supports up to 50 light bulbs.
  • If you use a smart plug and the plug is turned off, a visitor to your house will not be a able to turn on the light without the app on the smart phone or without knowing how to Alexa or Google. On the other hand, if you use a smart bulb and the light is off. A visitor can simply turn the bulb off and on and it will respond to the switch. This is very convenient, particularly if the lamps are in the living room or area with many visitors. I use both options. Smart Plug in the Bedroom. Smart light bulb in the living room
  • Email from Tracy in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I have an iPhone and us iMessage for most of my communication. My boss communicates by iMessage with me on the weekend. I do not like him to know that I have read the iMessage because sometimes I do not want to respond. Can I turn off the read message notification for him, but leave it on for everyone else? That would make my life so much easier. Love the show. Tracy in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: Everyone knows that you can enable or disable read receipts across the board by opening the Settings app and toggling read receipts on or off from within the Messages menu. Most people want to leave them on, but there are always a few contacts who send you messages and you do not want them to know if and when you’ve read them. You can turn off notification for just one contact too. And it is so easy. Here is all you need to do:
    • From within the Messages app, open a conversation with the contact in question
    • Tap the i in the top-right corner
    • On that screen, you will see a setting for Send Read Receipts. Toggle it to off
  • That’s it. This setting will override your global setting and this specific contact will no longer know when you open his or her messages.
  • Email from Lori in Virginia Beach: Dear Tech Talk. I have started buying many products online, especially from Amazon. I tend to rely on the reviews, but recently I have heard that companies pay for fake reviews. How can I tell if a review is fake? Love the show. Lori in Fairfax.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are right, many reviews are fake. Companies have been known to hire fake reviewers to praise products and boost sales. If you’re browsing Amazon or Yelp, and suspect the reviews you’re seeing are fake, there’s a quick way to support your suspicion: FakeSpot.com (fakespot.com). This site analyzes the comments and works out whether the reviews are likely to be fake.
  • Copy the product URL form any Amazon or Yelp page you think has suspicious review. The site will scan all the reviews and give you an adjusted rating, with reviews that are likely fake removed.

Profiles in IT: Cheng Wei

  • Cheng Wei is be known as found of Didi Chuxing, China’s largest mobile transportation platform, and as the man who outmaneuvered Uber.
  • Cheng Wei was born in May 19, 1983, in Shangrao, China.
  • When the time came to sit for university entrance exams, he was ill but did enough to get into Beijing University of Chemical Technology.
  • In 2004, he received a BS in Business from Beijing Univ. of Chemical Technology.
  • In 2004, Wei served as an assistant to a chairman at a foot massage company.
  • In 2005, he applied to Alibaba in business-to-business e-commerce sales.
  • Wei rose to being a sales manager for the northern region of China for Alibaba.
  • In 2011, he moved to Alibaba’s e-commerce online payment arm, Alipay, where he rose through the ranks to become the company’s youngest regional manager.
  • In 2012, he founded Beijing Orange Technology Co and launched Didi Dache, which meaning Beep Beep Call a Taxi.
  • In 2014, Uber rapidly gained traction in China after its local unit received a cash injection in late 2014 from Baidu.
  • Cheng favors rectangle-framed glasses and polo shirts and has an astute eye for talent
  • In 2014, he hired Jean Liu, from Goldman Sachs Asia, the COO and fundraiser. Didi out maneuvered Uber it gained backing from Apple.
  • In February 2015, the company merged with its rival Kuaidi Dache to become Didi Kuaidi (later renamed Didi Chuxing).
  • In August 2016, Didi Chuxing acquired all assets of the Chinese division of Uber, including its brand, business operations and data for operation within China.
  • Under the terms of the deal, Wei is set to become a board member of Uber and Uber’s CEO also gets a seat on DiDi’s board.
  • Under the leadership of Cheng Wei and Jean Liu, DiDi has grown to become one of the world’s highest valued tech start-ups.
  • The company has evolved from a simple taxi-hailing app to taxi hailing, private car hailing, hitch (social ride-sharing), bus, minibus, chauffeur service, car rental service, and bike-sharing service.
  • Wei is among those advocating that China needs to focus intensely on development of artificial intelligence. DiDi is investing substantial resources in AI research and is focused on building self-driving cars.
  • He believes that China will be the new driving force for the development of the Internet industry with Chinese Internet companies competing with US counterparts.
  • Cheng is a voracious reader. He wrote in 2011 that he had developed a habit of going to the same bookstore to curl up in on Sundays, with a book and a cup of tea.
  • His leadership style is cutthroat and tinged with nationalism. He often references China’s history and military in his speeches.

Idea of The Week: Algae-fueled Bioreactor for CO2 Absorption

  • The carbon-absorbing abilities of algae may be one of the most potent tools at our disposal to combat climate change.
  • US company Hypergiant Industries has packaged the tech up into a box-shaped machine that can absorbs as much carbon from the atmosphere as an acre of trees.
  • Through the process of photosynthesis, the aquatic plant algae absorbs carbon dioxide, water and sunlight to produce energy.
  • Naturally, the plant will use this energy to multiply and grow, but scientists have been experimenting with ways to capture it and convert it into biofuels instead, with some promising results.
  • The reactor measures 3 x 3 x 7 ft (90 x 90 x 210 cm) and is designed to be installed in urban environments where it captures and holds carbon from the atmosphere, and produces clean bio-fuels that could be used to further reduce a building’s carbon footprint.
  • The reactor uses a specific strain of algae called chlorella vulgaris, which is claimed to soak up much more CO2 than any other plant.
  • The algae lives inside a tube system and water tank within the device, which is pumped full of air and exposed to artificial light, giving the plant the food it needs to thrive and produce biofuels for harvesting.
  • Hypergiant Industries claims that the harvesting technology packed into its Eos Bioreactor is so efficient it is 400 times more effective at capturing carbon than trees taking up the same footprint.
  • It will make the designs for the bioreactor publicly available in the hope that it will inspire others to come up with similar solutions. It plans to share further details about bringing the reactor to market in 2020.

Hundreds of Earthlings descend on Area 51

  • An internet joke to storm Area 51 and “see them aliens” has drawn hundreds of people to the mysterious US government facility.
  • Half a million people signed up to try to enter the military base in Nevada which conspiracy theorists say holds alien technology.
  • The event taking place this weekend is called ‘Storm Area 51: They Can’t Stop All Of Us’ and says, “We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Centre tourist attraction and coordinate our entry… let’s see them aliens.”

Top 2018 iPhone Apps

  • Apple just released its lists for the most downloaded apps of 2018 and YouTube took the number one spot, beating out Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat for the honor.
  • YouTube held the #3 spot last year, when Bitmoji and Snapchat came in at #1 and #2 respectively. This year, Snapchat dropped to third place and Bitmoji down to sixth, with Instagram climbing to the #2 slot.
  • These are the top 20 free apps of the year, according to Apple
  • 1 YouTube, 2 Instagram, 3 Snapchat, 4 Messenger, 5 Facebook,
  • 6 Bitmoji, 7 Netflix, 8 Google Maps, 9 Gmail, 10 Spotify Music,
  • 11 Amazon, 12 Uber, 13 WhatsApp Messenger, 14 Pandora, 15 Wish,
  • 16 TikTok, 17 Cash App, 18 Google Photos, 19 Google Chrome, 20 Twitter

Why You Don’t Need a 5G phone Yet

  • For most people, it’s smart to stick with a smartphone that isn’t compatible with 5G wireless networks, which are just starting to roll out.
  • Not only are the first-generation 5G phones expensive, their antennas and modems typically work only with particular 5G networks owned by specific mobile carriers.
  • 5G phones will make up 9% of worldwide shipments in 2020 and 28% in 2023.
  • Samsung, Motorola, LG and OnePlus already make 5G phones that use Google’s Android system.
  • Motorola said such first-generation products primarily suit early adopters who need to be first on the block.
  • New iPhones will not support 5G. Apple typically waits for technology to mature before adopting it.
  • And 5G phones cost a few hundred dollars more. The price gap is expected to narrow and eventually disappear as 5G becomes a standard feature.
  • 5G coverage is limited to certain neighborhoods in a handful of cities. Full coverage will not be until 2021.
  • Similar all-in-one 5G phones should be fairly common by next year.
  • If you can squeeze another year or two out of your current phone, there will be plenty of 5G phones to choose from by the time you are ready to upgrade.

Food Science: Champagne Bubbles

  • A team of scientists at the University of Reims have revealed the secrets behind the bubbles in Champagne, and why your glass might leave the wine as flat as a pancake or fizzing furiously.
  • A single bottle of Champagne contains 10 million bubbles. As the bubbles reach the surface of the wine they explode, and this phenomenon known as “the Worthington Jet” has been captured by the scientists on a 5000-frames-per-second camera.
  • It explodes, making a tiny crater on the surface. The crater closes up and then ejects a thread of liquid, which then breaks up in droplets that can fly up to 10 centimeters.
  • They also figured out why strings of bubbles, known as the bead, rise from certain points in glass. It happens when microscopic fibers left by a kitchen towel or often just an airborne particle stick to the side of the glass, allowing molecules of dissolved carbon dioxide to coalesce and form bubbles.
  • The finding is important for Champagne lovers and for the restaurant industry.
  • Glasses that are retrieved from a dishwasher, where they have been washed and blown dry upside down, could be so ultra-clean that horribly few bubbles form.
  • Top-end glass manufacturers now use lasers to etch a tiny crown of spots at the bottom of the glass, creating flaws to make bubbles form and rise in a pretty ring.
  • Should you drink Champagne from a tall, long-stemmed glass or a shallow cup?
  • The shallow cup loses CO2 one-third faster than a flute, so the flute is preferred.
  • Drinking Champagne from a plastic cup can be a drab experience because the sides are hydrophobic, or liquid repelling. The bubbles adhere to the sides through capillary action and inflate into the size of tiny balls.
  • The easiest way to produce finer bubbles is to reduce the quantity of CO2 which is dissolved in the Champagne, and this is linked to the amount of sugar.
  • The tradition was to add 24 grams of sugar per liter of Champagne along with yeast to induce the second fermentation, but the trend now is 18 grams of sugar.
  • Although its carbon dioxide that dissolves in both wine and mineral water under pressure, the label on the bottle actually says “contains carbonic acid.”
  • The reason for this is the chemical process that causes carbon dioxide molecules to combine with water molecules under high pressure to produce carbonic acid.
  • Because carbonic acid is a very unstable molecule, it quickly disintegrates again when the bottle is opened and the pressure drops, and then bubbles up as carbon dioxide.
  • Scientists have named their new branch of science “blaseology”, the science of bubbles

Live Champagne Bubble Demonstration

  • Demonstration Props
    • Bottle of Champagne (Brut)
    • Two crystal Champagne Flutes with etched bubble ring in bottom
    • Two Plastic Glasses
  • Observations
    • Bubbles originate from etched ring rough area in flutes
    • Bubbles stick to the sides of the plastic glasses
  • On air question: To drink or not to drink.