Show of 06-27-2020

Tech Talk June 27, 2020

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Bob in MD: Dear Doc, Jim, and the ever-present and semi-well-behaved Mr. BigVoice. Today our special Lockdown version of Tech Talk seems to have come
  • off without a hitch or a glitch or EVEN a twitch! It was pretty darn good. I now always try to keep an eye out for resources that Doc can plumb for “Profiles in IT” suggestions. Here is an article that lists many historical female IT contributors: The women who led the way in computer programming. You probably covered quite a few of these ladies already, but there might be one or two others in this article that you could consider if you are running low on ideas! Just love the show! Excellent as always! Your faithful Listener, Bob in Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the list of seven women programmers. We have already covered a couple of them Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper. Today we will feature a third one from the list Kathleen Booth. We will feature a couple more in the future. Programming was initially viewed a women’s work. Building hardware was viewed as man’s work. Therefore, women did most of the programming and programming languages for the first computers.
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Dear Tech Talk. Are “Super Cookies” from ISP’s or others still an issue for privacy on line? Verizon, Adobe, AT&T, et al? The need or desire to delete them and how to do it is another problem. Understand Super Cookies are really buried in one’s PC, laptop & iPad – if they are still prevalent. Any solutions to delete them? Great Tech program. Very informative! Arnie Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: An HTTP cookie is a small piece of code that is left in your web browser by a website you visited. The cookie places information on your device so that the website could later identify you as a returning user.
  • Supercookies don’t use local storage as regular cookies do. Instead, they are injected at the network level as Unique Identifier Headers (UIDH). Supercookies are inserted by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) rather than the website itself. UIDH personal data can be revealed to any website and potentially sold to third parties. Verizon has previously told their partners that they use this type of tracking and have received a $1.35 million fine from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
  • Super cookies can restore the data of your deleted cookies and link the data with new ones. They can access your login credentials, image and file caches, and plug-in data. Ad blockers cannot block them, and you cannot clear them by deleting your browser history and cache data. You cannot simply delete super cookies. You only opt-out if your ISP allows you to. Verizon allows opt-out. AT&T has claimed that they discontinued the program in 2014.
  • Super cookies depend on HTTP connections, so making an encrypted connection with a website stops tracking headers from functioning. Visiting only HTTPS websites (those that use SSL or TLS certificates) should help you avoid super cookies tracking you or catching them in the first place. Alternately, you can used a virtual private network to encrypt your internet connection, making it impossible for the ISP to apply tracking headers and for super cookies to follow you wherever you go.
  • Email from Alex in Boston: Dear Doc and Jim. I just upgraded my laptop to Windows 10. I have heard that MS tracks everything I do with my Windows 10 machine. Is there any way that I can protect my privacy by configuring my system differently? Alex in Boston
  • Tech Talk Responds: By default, the Windows 10 operating system collects all sorts of sensitive user data and stores it on your PC’s hard drive and/or sends it back to Microsoft via the Internet. Luckily, most of Windows 10’s “spying” can be either mitigated somewhat or disabled completely if you know where to look for the various settings. Users have been lodging complaints about Windows 10’s privacy issues.
  • In response to the constant stream of customer complaints, Microsoft has released an easy-to-use “Your Privacy” dashboard that makes it a lot easier to understand the various privacy issues that exist with Windows 10 and mitigate those issues as much as possible. The new “Your Privacy” Dashboard is simply a web page that contains explanations of each privacy issue along with either a link to take you to another page where you can mitigate that issue or a button to handle it right on the spot. Visit https://account.microsoft.com/privacy/ to launch the “Your Privacy” dashboard. Note: You will be prompted to log in to your Microsoft account if you are not logged in already.
  • Email from Peter in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. The hard drive on my personal computer has failed. I cannot boot up and I need to recover some valuable photos on the hard drive. What are my options? Peter in Fairfax, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you have a current backup that works, you can simply replace the bad drive with a new one and restore everything in short order. I you do not have a backup, you still have options.
  • If you are willing pay several hundred dollars, there is an excellent chance that a service like Secure Data Recovery (http://www.securedatarecovery.com/) can rescue your files for you.
  • If the drive still powers up and the platters still spin at anything close to the proper speed you’ll probably be able to retrieve your files from it using an free tool called Recuva (http://www.ccleaner.com/recuva). Recuva will scan the sectors of your bad hard drive for uncorrupted files and give you a report listing all the files that can be recovered. Then with just a few mouse clicks, you’ll be able to copy those files to a different drive.
  • Recuva usually does an excellent job, but if the drive is too far gone you might be less than satisfied with the results. You second option is a program called Recover My Files (http://www.recovermyfiles.com/) will work with most any hard drive that still powers up and spins the platters. Recover My Files is not free, but at $69.95 for a two PC license it is better than spending several hundred dollars to a company that could end up using similar software to do the job. Download the evaluation version and give it a try! If it can “see” your files, it will be able to recover them. At that point you’ll need to purchase a license for $69.95 in order to actually recover your files.
  • Email from Jessica in Ashburn: Dear Doc and Jim. I just bought my daughter her first smart phone (it’s an iPhone) and she loves watching videos on it. The problem is she is hearing impaired and she cannot make out a lot of the dialog that is spoken in the videos. I know that lots of the videos available online are closed captioned, but I do not know how to turn “Closed Captioning” on. Can you tell me how to do it? Jessica in Ashburn, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: It is easy to enable Subtitles and Closed Captioning on any recent iOS device. Just follow these steps:
    • Tap Settings.
    • Tap Accessibility.
    • Tap Subtitles and Captioning
    • Toggle the “Closed Captions + SDH” setting to On.
    • You can also make any changes to the style of the captions that you deem necessary.
  • Whatever changes will make it easier and more enjoyable for your daughter to watch her shows and videos will be fine. Tweak it to your heart’s content!
  • Email form Stuart in Kilmarnock: Dear Tech Talk. I want to give my old iPhone to my granddaughter. However, I want to remove all of my personal data before giving the gift. What is the best way to delete my data from the iPhone. Stu in Kilmarnock, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can easily reset you phone to factory defaults. This will remove all of your personal data and allow your granddaughter to set up the phone as though she were the first owner. The process is very simple:
    • Tap on Settings
    • Tap on General
    • Tap on Reset
    • Tap on Erase All Content and Setting
  • You will receive several warnings that this cannot be reversed. You will be required to log into your iCloud account to validate your identity. When the process is complete, the phone will open as a new phone waiting to be configured by its owner. The phone will reboot and you are good to go.

 

 

Profiles in IT: Kathleen Booth

  • Kathleen Booth is an early pioneer in computer science, best known as creator of the first assembly language and the assembler to translate it to machine language.
  • Kathleen Booth was born Kathleen H.V. Britten in 1922, in Stourbridge, Worcestershire, England.
  • She received a BS in Mathematics in 1944 and a PhD in Applied Mathematics in 1950 from the University of London.
  • After university, she became a Junior Scientific Officer at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, a British research establishment, from 1944 to 1946.
  • In 1946, she began working as both a research assistant at Birkbeck College, where she later became a lecturer and Research Fellow. At the same time, she served as Research Scientist at the British Rubber Producer’s Research Association (BRPRA).
  • That same year, Andrew Donald Booth began working on a computer called the Automatic Relay Computer (ARC), an early electro-mechanical computer.
  • ARC was built in close proximity to the BRPRA facility. Upon meeting Andrew at BRPRA, Kathleen and Xenia Sweeting, assisted with ARC. After constructing most of the machine, Kathleen also had a deep understanding of hardware.
  • The following year, 1947, Andrew and Kathleen, traveled to the US to meet John Von Neumann. They discussed the Von Neumann computer architecture, which included: a Processing Unit, a Control Unit, Memory, Mass Storage, and an Input and Output mechanism.
  • Andrew redesigned the ARC, dubbed the ARC2, to incorporate this architecture. The computer officially came online on May 12th, 1948.
  • Upon returning to the UK, Kathleen co-authored General Considerations in the Design of an All Purpose Electronic Digital Computer, describing ARC2.
  • She outlined the possibility of synchronous vs asynchronous operations. This would allow multiple instructions in a program to be executed in parallel.
  • She was one of the first researchers to work on this new concept of “software” and invented assembly language to make programming the computer more human friendly.
  • In 1950, Kathleen married Andrew, an Engineer, Physicist and Computer Scientist.
  • From 1947 to 1953, Kathleen and Andrew Booth’s team produced three machines: ARC (Automatic Relay Computer), SEC (Simple Electronic Computer), and APEC (All-purpose Electronic Computer).
  • Booth regularly published papers concerning her work on the ARC and APEC systems and co-wrote “Automatic Digital Calculators” (1953) which illustrated her planning and coding’ programming style.
  • The final chapter included future applications of computers: X-Ray Crystal Structure Analysis, Computers and Linguistic Processing, Games, Machine Learning and Intelligence. She was ahead of her time.
  • She co-founded the School of Computer Science and Information Systems in 1957 at Birkbeck College along with Andrew Booth and J.C. Jennings.
  • Booth’s research on neural networks led to successful programs simulating ways in which animals recognize patterns and characters.
  • In 1958, Booth wrote he first book describing how to program APEC computers.
  • She left Birkbeck in 1962 to become a Research Fellow, Lecturer and Associate Professor at the University of Staskatchewan, Canada.
  • In 1972, she became Professor of Mathematics at Lakeland University in Canada.
  • After her retirement in 1978, she published a paper with her son, Dr. Ian J. M. Booth, in January 1993 titled, Using Neural Nets to Identify Marine Mammals.
  • Kathleen’s inventive mind and large contributions to programming have gone largely unnoticed. Assembly language and the assembler alone, led to higher-level languages such as FORTRAN and COBOL.
  • She truly was a pioneer of computing and programming!

Observations from the Bunker

  • Advice from Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha.
  • People ask me where they should go to work, and I always tell them to go to work for whom they admire the most. It is crazy to take little in-between jobs just because they look good on your résumé. Do what you love and work for whom you admire the most, and you’ve given yourself the best chance in life you can.
  • Forget the advice about climbing the elusive corporate ladder to build the perfect résumé that will land that coveted job at that dream company. No, the real key to success is not crafting the perfect background “on paper” — it’s finding someone for whom to work who holds the power to propel your career forward, faster than you would do on your own. That “admirable” person could be someone in a leadership role at your company right now.
  • Plain and simple, the best job should not be the job that pays the most, but the one whose boss you admire the most. Buffett likes to quote Isaac Newton, If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
  • The person you will eventually admire the most will undoubtedly be a leader to whom you’re willing to give your best effort.
  • This is a leader who will set you up for long-term success, allow you to fail-forward, and give your work purpose and meaning. In return, there is employee loyalty, commitment, and intrinsic motivation — matters of the heart that give companies true competitive advantage.
  • In turn, being mentored and guided by such leaders will catapult you to career success. It speaks volumes to how far and fast a career can advance when you are under the leadership of someone who cares about you and your career development.
  • Admirable leaders truly care about individual contributors on a human level. They are sincerely interested in getting to know them — their interests, concerns, dreams, strengths, gifts, and goals. And in the end, they will make those around them better and more successful.

Senators Propose Reform to Tech Liability Shield

  • Two U.S. senators on Wednesday introduced legislation to reform part of a federal law that largely exempts tech platforms such as Facebook and Twitter from legal liability for the material their users post.
  • The legislation, titled the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency Act, or PACT, from Democratic Senator Brian Schatz and No. 2 Senate Republican John Thune aims to provide more accountability and transparency for large tech platforms with respect to content moderation decisions.
  • There are mounting calls to reform Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act at a time when legal immunity for tech platforms has come under severe scrutiny.
  • The bill would require tech platforms to explain their content moderation practices in a way that is accessible to consumers, form a complaint system that notifies users of moderation decisions within 14 days and allows them to appeal such decisions.
  • It would offer no immunity for known illegal content if companies are notified and when federal regulators pursue civil actions.
  • It includes one provision put forward by the Justice Department last week to reform Section 230.
  • Another bipartisan bill, titled the Earn It Act, co-sponsored by the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican, and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, aims to curb the distribution of child sexual abuse material on tech platforms by threatening their Section 230 immunity. It will be taken up at a committee hearing on Thursday.

The Slow Launch of IPv6

  • Marco Hogewoning, public policy for the Amsterdam, Netherlands-based European regional internet registry, predicted that despite the best efforts of IPv6 proponents over the last eight years, it might take “five to 10 years” before the world starts to truly abandon the IPv4 address space.
  • IPv6 was first defined in 1996, but with today marking the 8th anniversary of (the second) IPv6 “Launch” Day.
  • When the internet came into widespread use, the system for allocating those addresses was called IPv4. That had capacity for about 2 billion IP addresses.
  • After the last decade of address allocation, the world ran out of unallocated IPv4 addresses in November 2019.
  • About a decade ago, IPv6 came into being. It allows for 2^128 possible addresses, compared to IPv4’s 2^32.
  • The entire world is only going to switch to IPv6 when there’s enough of an economic incentive to do so. At the moment large parts of the internet work well enough and don’t appear, as far as some are concerned, to need fixing just yet.
  • Until the economics shift decisively in favor of dumping IPv4 support, it looks like the old technology will be with us for a long time to come.

Apple Tracking Stolen iPhones

  • The company is actively disabling the iPhones that are stolen from the displays of its retail stores, leaving them inoperable.
  • Apple stores, which recently started reopening across the United States after months of closures due to the global pandemic, reported vandalism and theft at several locations, including in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.
  • Message displayed on stolen iPhone. “Please return to Apple,” “The device has been disabled and is being tracked. Local authorities will be alerted.”
  • However, the effort is not specific to the ongoing protests. The company has long installed special software on its stores’ iPhones to track the whereabouts of stolen items. This software does not come on purchased iPhones.

Zoom Complies with Chinese Government Demands

  • Video conferencing software company Zoom has admitted that it suspended the accounts of users in the United States and Hong Kong at the request of the Chinese government.
  • It further intends to add the ability to block or remove meeting participants from mainland China.
  • Zoom last week suspended the accounts of three human rights activists, Lee Cheuk-yan, Wang Dan, and Zhou Fengsuo, who used the service to hold online discussions about the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
  • Two of these accounts were based in Hong Kong, and one in the U.S.
  • The company says it suspended the accounts at the request of the Chinese government.
  • Zoom said it suspended the users after the Chinese government informed them that this activity is illegal in China and demanded that Zoom terminate the meetings and host accounts.
  • Zoom has now reinstated the three users’ accounts, but it effectively denied them the opportunity to speak to other pro-democracy organizers during a crucial period.


 

US Claims Huawei ‘backed by Chinese military’

  • US claims that Huawei, and others, are back the Chinese military.
  • The list of banned companies includes video surveillance firm Hikvision, China Telecoms, China Mobile and AVIC.
  • The determination lays the groundwork for new US financial sanctions against the firms.
  • Already the US has pressured other countries, including the UK, to bar Huawei for national security reasons.
  • The list was published to inform congressional committees, US businesses, investors and other potential partners of Chinese firms about the role such firms may play in transferring sensitive technology to the Chinese military. The list is also likely to grow.
  • Under US law, the Defense Department is required to track firms “owned or controlled” by China’s People’s Liberation Army that are active in the US.
  • The Pentagon has been under pressure in recent months from lawmakers of both the Democrats and Republican parties to publish and update the list.