Show of 03-28-2020

Tech Talk

March 28, 2020

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Dave in Everett, WA: Hello Dr Shurtz and Jim. I have several old computers that I have outgrown which are now gathering dust in my garage. I’d like to donate or trash them responsibly, but am concerned of the information that may still reside on the hard drives. Can you recommend a program you trust that will totally wipe all the files clean? Thanks for your great show and I listen to each program via a Podcast. Regards-Dave in Everett, WA
  • Tech Talk Responds: To wipe a hard drive means to completely erase the drive of all its information. Deleting everything does not wipe a hard drive and formatting does not usually wipe a hard drive. You will need to take an extra step to wipe the hard drive so the data cannot be easily reconstructed later.
  • Darik’s Boot And Nuke, usually referred to as DBAN, is the best free data destruction software available. DBAN is freely available in a ready-to-go ISO format, so all you need to do is burn it to a CD or flash drive and then boot from it. The DBAN program’s menu interface is also very easy to use. However, you should know that it does not support SSDs. After properly wiping a hard drive, you can be confident that whatever information was on the drive is now gone for good.
  • Download link: https://sourceforge.net/projects/dban/
  • Email from June in Burke, VA: Dear Doc and Jim. I am worried about the security of my laptop when travelling. I use Wi-Fi hotspots and hotel Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet. You have talked about VPN as a way to ensure a secure connection. What are some VPNs that you would recommend? Enjoy the podcase. June in Burke, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: A VPN (virtual private network) service is a great way to ensure you have a secure network connection while online. It also allows you to protect your browsing history, torrent, and access content that is blocked or regionally restricted.
  • Here are three good options: Best Overall, Budget, one for Multiple Connections.
  • ExpressVPN is $12.95/month is the one that I have used for years. It has over 30,000 IP addresses, 160 server locations across 94 countries, and more than 3,000 servers available. It is also backed by a strict no-logging privacy policy, so go ahead and surf with peace of mind. ExpressVPN offers unlimited bandwidth.
  • Tunnelbear is free and offers a user-friendly interface. Its free service is limited to 500 MB per month, and should you want more, subscription options start at $4.95 per month, for five devices and priority customer service. Tunnelbear will never log or sell your browsing activity, and it performs independent annual service audits. It only has 22 server locations and 1,800 servers, so it’s fine for working at a coffeehouse but probably not ideal for heavy users.
  • IPVanish ($10/mo) is my third option. With it, you can connect up to 10 devices at a time no problem. IPVanish offers over 1,300 anonymous servers across more than 75 global locations, and 40,000 shared IP addresses. It also has a clear zero-logs privacy policy and keeps your data safe with 256-bit AES encryption.
  • Email from Brian in Erie, KS: Dear Tech Talk. I am tired of this Coronavirus isolation and want to do some video chats to fill the time. We may try to do some simultaneous karaoke via Video Chat. How do you know which one to use? My friends have iPhons and I have an Android. All my friends know is Facetime, but I do not have that option. How can I bridge the gap? What video chat clients to you recommend? Enjoy the podcast. Brian in Erie, KS
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are many video chat apps out there, many of which only work on certain platforms. Some support iPhone and others support Android. I wish Apple would create a cross platform FaceTime, but that is a pipe dream.
    • Facebook Messenger is the best cross platform option. Facebook Messenger. Facebook Messenger is a great way to video chat with pretty much everyone you know. Since nearly everyone is on Facebook, they probably already have the requisite app, which is available pretty much any platform. Android and iOS have dedicated mobile apps for Messenger, and computer users can just leverage the web version of Messenger.
    • Skype is a good option for Windows to Windows users. Skype is also available on Android and iPhone. Skype is the obvious choice here: it comes bundled with Windows now that Microsoft owns it, and it’s become synonomous enough with video chat that basically everyone has a Skype account.
    • Facetime is the best for Apple to Apple chats. I love Facetime on my iPhone. It comes on all Macs, iPhones, and iPads. It works great, and everyone knows about it. Why would you use anything else?
    • Google Duo is a good option for Android to Android users. This is Googles best offering, better than Hangouts. Although Google Hangouts is available on all platforms.
  • Email from Dutchie in North Carolina: Dear Doc and Jim. Our company uses Zoom for video conferencing during the Coronavirus shutdown. How can I record a Zoom conference for later reference? I cannot find a record button. Love the podcast. Dutchie in North Carolina.
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you’re hosting a meeting on Zoom, you might want to record it for future reference. If you are a participant in the meeting, you will need permission from the host before you are able to record. The reason you cannot find the record button is that your host has not given you permission. By default, only the host of the video call is allowed to record the meeting in Zoom.
  • When you are ready, open Zoom and set up a meeting. You can do this by selecting the “New Meeting” button on the home page and then inviting the relevant participants to join the meeting.
  • Once the meeting is set up and the participants are present, you can start recording the meeting by selecting the “Record” button at the bottom of the window. You can pause the recording by selecting the Pause button (or end the recording by selecting the Stop button. When the meeting is over, stop recording and select the “End Meeting” button in the bottom-right corner of the window.
  • If you’re the host and would like to allow one of the participants to record the meeting, provide the necessary permissions to do so. During the video conference, select the “Manage Participants” option at the bottom of the window.
  • A list of participants will appear in the right pane. Hover over the name of the participant you want to give recording permissions to, and a “More” button will appear. A drop-down menu will appear. Here, select “Allow Record.” The guest will now be able to record the meeting.
  • Email from Alex in Boston: Dear Doc and Jim. My mom recently passed away and we had to clean out her house so it could be listed for sale. While going through one of her closets I found an old Kodak 110 camera with a half-used roll of film in it.
  • Are there any places that still process 110 film? I would love to have that film developed and see what the photos are like. Alex in Boston
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are many places that still develop 110 film. You might have to wait a few weeks to get your hands on the prints however.
  • Locally, you can drop the film off at CVS. They will send the film off and have it developed and printed for you. Expect to wait anywhere from 2 weeks to a month to receive your prints.
  • I would recommend sending your mom’s roll of film to a great company called FilmRescue. FilmRescue specializes in processing aged film and videotape. FilmRescue’s developing and printing services are typically a little more expensive than you’ll pay elsewhere, but their service is top-notch and they take extra care to salvage any images on your film that can possibly be salvaged. I strongly recommend them in situations such as yours.
  • Link to Film Rescue: https://www.filmrescue.com/

Profiles in IT: James H. Clark

  • James Henry Clark is a computer scientist best known as co-founder of Silicon Graphics and Netscape Communications.
  • Clark was born in Plainview, Texas on March 23, 1944. He dropped out of high school at 16 and spent four years in the Navy, where he was introduced to electronics.
  • Clark began taking night courses at Tulane University’s University College. He earned enough credits to be admitted to University of New Orleans, where he earned both a BS and an MS in Physic. In 1974, he earned a PhD for the University of Utah.
  • After completing his PhD, Clark worked at NYIT’s Computer Graphics Lab.
  • He then served as an assistant professor at the UC Santa Cruz 1974 to 1978.
  • He then became an associate professor of EE at Stanford from 1979 to 1982.
  • Clark’s research work concerned geometry pipelines, specialized software or hardware that accelerates the display of three-dimensional images.
  • In 1979, with a group of students, he created the Geometry Engine, an early hardware accelerator for rendering computer images based on geometric models.
  • In 1982, James Clark, with several Stanford grad students, founded Silicon Graphics.
  • The earliest Silicon Graphics graphical workstations were terminals. Later they released stand-alone Unix workstations with very fast graphics rendering hardware.
  • By 1991, Silicon Graphics became the world leader in the production of Hollywood movie visual effects and 3-D imaging. Silicon Graphics focused on the high-end market where they could charge a premium for their hardware and graphics software.
  • Clark had differences of opinion with Silicon Graphics management regarding the future direction of the company, and departed in late January 1994.
  • In February 1994, Clark met Marc Andreessen who led the development of Mosaic, an early browser, at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).
  • Clark and Andreessen founded Netscape, and developed the Netscape Navigator web browser. The founding of Netscape and its IPO in August 1995 launched the Internet boom on Wall Street during the mid-to-late 1990s.
  • Clark’s initial investment in Netscape was $4 million in 1994; he exited with $1.2 billion when Netscape was acquired by AOL in 1999.
  • In 1995, Clark became interested in streamlining the paperwork associated with the health-care industry. The resulting start-up, Healtheon, was founded in early 1996.
  • Clark decided to merge Healtheon with the WebMD, which was backed by MS, to form the WebMD Corporation. WebMD is a leader in health info on the Internet.
  • In 1999, Jim Clark launched myCFO, a company formed to help wealthy Silicon Valley individuals manage their fortunes.
  • In 1984, he received the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award.
  • In 1988, Clark was an Award Recipient of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Northern California Region.
  • He was a recipient of the 1997 Kilby International Awards, which honored him for his computer graphics vision and for enabling networked information exchange.
  • Clark is an enthusiastic yachtsman and owns many notable sailing yachts.

Product of the Week: Phone Soap UV Sterilizer

  • Studies show that since we pick up our phones hundreds of times a day, we could be undermining our best hand washing efforts.
  • We call our phones the third hand you never wash. Unless you treat your phone the same way as your hands, it’s hard to keep all three clean.
  • Enter Phone Soap. Phone Soap is a device that kills germs on your phone using UV light. Just place your phone into Phone Soap and let it work. You device will come out clean and sterilized.
  • According to an MIT study, alcohol wipes are effective for fighting bacteria, and UV light can be effective under the right circumstances, depending on the strength of the UV and certain other factors.
  • Presently, it is unclear how effective UV light would be with the new coronavirus because it has not been studied yet. Other scientists have found that PhoneSoap is not effective against SARS (a cousin of the novel coronavirus). PhoneSoap says it can neutralize germs that transmit the common cold or flu, and work on other pathogens.
  • Some phone makers advise against using wipes because they can damage protective films on the phone’s surface. Wiping your phone yourself is not adequate because the treatment might not be equally distributed or last for a long enough time to kill the bacteria.
  • PhoneSoap makes a few different models, some meant for use on the go, some to be stored at home. Link to Phone Soap: https://www.phonesoap.com/

Products of the Week: Keeps you From Touching Your Face

  • With the onset of Coronavirus, we must stop touching our faces.
  • Transmitting an infection via our hands to our face (mouth, eyes, nose, ears) is the most common attack vector.
  • Studies show people touch their faces up to 25 times an hour. Medical experts want us to break that habit as a defense against coronavirus. How can we break the habit?
  • Here are two options.
    • JalapeNO — Kim Binsted, a University of Hawaii professor, designed an app for the Fitbit fitness tracker to help people remember to stop touching their faces. It’s called JalapeNO because it’s supposed be like you having jalapeno juice on your hands. You don’t want to touch your face or nose.
    • It took her only a couple of days to create the app that tracks the orientation of the wearer’s hand as at rises toward their face. Get the Fitbit too close to your face and you feel a pulse and hear a faint beeping sound.
    • The JalepeNO app only costs 99 cents. Binsted said some of the proceeds will go to the Hawaii Foodbank. She is working on an Apple watch app.
    • Link: https://Jalapenoapp.com
    • Immutouch Coronavirus Wristband – This is an option if you don’t have a Fitbit.
    • Slightly Robot redesigned their wearable as the Immutouch, a wristband that vibrates if you touch your face. Its accelerometer senses your hand movement 10 times per second. Based on calibrations the Immutouch takes when you set it up, it then buzzes when you touch or come close to touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. A companion app helps you track your progress.
    • The Immutouch wristbands go on sell for $50 each and they’re ready for immediate shipping. Link to device: https://habitaware.com/

US Coronavirus Cases top 100,000

  • Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surpassed 100,000 Friday, doubling in just three days as the pandemic accelerates and the U.S. rolls out broader testing measures.
  • Confirmed U.S. cases passed 50,000 on Tuesday, up from 5,000 last week.
  • At the beginning of the month, there were roughly 100 confirmed cases in the U.S.
  • Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surpassed 100,000 March 27, doubling in just three days as the pandemic accelerates and the U.S. rolls out broader testing measures.
  • Data from Johns Hopkins University showed the total number of coronavirus cases as 101,707 and the total number of deaths in the U.S. as 1,544.
  • The virus emerged in Wuhan, China, in December. It has since spread to more than half a million people in almost every country around the world and continues to pick up speed, the World Health Organization warned earlier this week.
  • It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases.
  • Confirmed U.S. cases passed 50,000 on Tuesday, up from 5,000 last week. At the beginning of the month, there were roughly 100 confirmed cases in the U.S. On Thursday, confirmed cases in the U.S. surpassed that of both China and Italy, making it the country with the largest outbreak in the world.
  • The number of confirmed cases likely underestimates the true number of infections across the country.. Testing in the U.S. has been hampered by delays and a restrictive diagnostic criteria that limits who can get tested.
  • With 44,635 confirmed cases as of Friday morning, New York state accounts for almost half of all cases in the US. The rapid growth of confirmed cases is partly due to a “backlog” of infections that had not been confirmed due to lack of testing.
  • However, the virus appears to be spreading to multiple so-called hot spots around the country, including Los Angeles, Detroit, New Orleans and other cities around the country.
  • Major outbreaks in hot spots such as New York threaten to overwhelm the local hospital systems, which have a limited number of beds, staff and equipment, particularly ventilators, a potentially life-saving device. Cities and states across the country have rolled out strict measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Twenty-three states have issued stay-at-home orders or advisories and have closed nonessential businesses. Seven states and Washington, D.C., have shuttered nonessential businesses. Several cities or counties in Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania have issued individual stay-at-home orders in the absence of statewide mandates.
  • They are now predicting that the DC area will peak in July. The implies that we have extended the doubling rate to twelve days using social isolation.

Alexa Provides Guidance for COVID-19

  • Amazon just made it possible to get information and screening with your voice using its Alexa-powered devices.
  • What you can do: Ask Alexa “What do I do if I think I have COVID-19 (or coronavirus)?” and she’ll ask a series of questions (probably similar to those on the Apple screening web site or app) about your symptoms and exposure potential. Alexa will provide guidance sourced from the CDC based on your risk level.
  • The voice assistant will use Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare guidance that matches your symptoms.
  • Have some fun while washing: If you’re in the US, UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, or India, you can ask Alexa to sing a song for 20 seconds to help time your hand washing.
  • This could be a great way for kids to manage their own time at the sink.
  • Alexa, what do I do if I think I have COVID-19 (or coronavirus)?
  • Amazon says Alexa can answer thousands of your questions related to COVID-19. You can also ask Fire TV to play the news, as well as Echo Show devices to play the CDC video for any public service announcements in the US.
  • For all the details, check out Amazon’s COVID-19 page.