Tech Talk July 4, 2020
Best of Tech Talk Edition
- Segments taken from previous shows.
Email and Forum Questions
- Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Dr. Shurtz and Jim. Can you explain the following occurrence? I had a problem with one of my computer programs. The producer of the program requested me to do a trace and make a log of the incident. Then this log was to be forward to them for inspection and analysis for finding the “bug”. Their instructions said to open Microsoft’s FILE EXPLORER and in the ADDRESS BAR enter their FTP address – User Name — Password and press ENTER. To my surprise it connected to the INTERNET and opened a portal to the companies FTP FILE SERVER for uploading the captured log file. I was, until now, under the impression that INTERNET EXPLORER or any other of the web browsers were the only ones connecting to the internet. Can you explain how the FILE EXPLORER is able to do this internet connection? To what extent can the File EXPLORER be used in lieu of a web browser? What other connection “tricks” can the FILE EXPLORER do in this fashion (safely). Thanks, Doug in Baton Rouge, LA
- Tech Talk Responds: That is a clever way to connect to a remote FTP site. You simply have to map a external location as a local drive. Simply open my computer. Click on Map Network Drive. Place the web address of the network drive (and then user name and password, if protected). A drive letter will be assigned to that remote location and you can then simply open Windows Explorer and go that that location or copy local files to the remote location. We map drive all the time at Stratford to set up shared document repositories.
- Here are a few more tricks
- Open a File Explorer windows fast using Windows +E.
- Use the Send To menu. You can right-click a file or folder (or multiple items, for that matter) and use the Send To menu to do a few interesting things, like move or copy the selection to your Documents folder, create a compressed file (in .zip format), or send the selection as an email attachment.
- Master advanced search. Advanced search syntax, complete with Boolean operators, parameters, and operators. My favorite is the datemodified: operator, which accepts actual dates but also understands relative dates, like today, this week, last week, this month, and last month.
- Pin saved searches to Start. Then you don’t have to create the search conditions again.
- Use filters to find files faster.
- Group files to make them easier to see.
- Email from Charlie in Kansas: Dear Doc and Jim. I read an article last night about using two hard drives or SSDs in a RAID 0 configuration to speed up disk access speeds on my PC. It said RAID 0 can speed up disk read and write speeds by as much as 50% but that it’s risky to use it. The article didn’t explain why RAID 0 is risky. Can you explain it to me? Charlie in Kansas
- Tech Talk Responds: RAID 0 is risky (in relative terms) because if one drive goes out all the data stored on the drives in the array is lost. The reason RAID 0 is so risky is because saved data is split into blocks and spread among all the drives in the array. No single drive receives all the data, so if one drive fails the data that is stored on the other drives becomes useless. The acronym RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, but that’s sort of a misnomer with RAID 0 because there is actually no redundancy at all.
- With two drives of equal size, you should always use RAID 1. RAID 1 mirrors the two drives. They each have the same data. If one fails, simply swap it out and it will recover all data from the remaining drive. This redundancy provides much better reliability. There are other RAID modes for multiple drives, which include data stripping with redundancy in the event a drive fails.
- Email from David in New York: Dear Doc and Jim. I just got a new iPhone 11 with Face ID. I travel a lot and don’t always want this option available, particularly at a border crossing. Is there a way to disable it quickly? David in New York
- Tech Talk Responds: If you are somewhere (like a border check or party) where you think your face or thumbprint could be used against your will to unlock your iPhone, this quick shortcut will disable biometric authentication. You can even do this if your iPhone’s in your pocket.
- On your iPhone, simply press and hold the Volume Up (left side) and Right Side buttons for a second or two. When you see the “Slide to Power Off” menu or feel a vibration, this means biometric authentication has been disabled. The “Slide to Power Off” screen on an iPhone. You don’t have to turn off your iPhone; just press the Side/Power button again to lock it. Now, your iPhone won’t unlock without your passcode. If you are relying on your passcode for security, make it a strong one with both letters and numbers.
- Email from Allen in Missouri: Dear Doc and Jim. I am shocked at how much information about me is on the web. Is there anyway I can remove this information easily? Allen in Missouri
- Tech Talk Responds: People-finder sites have lots of information about you. They often have your address, phone number, email, and age. They even include data from court documents and other public or government records. Common people finders included: Whitepages, Spokeo, BeenVerified, and other similar sites.
- These sites get some data about you from social media sites. However, most of it comes from public records, like court documents and real estate transactions, or other online data, like search histories. Many companies are more than willing to sell your information to these data brokers—like warranty and sweepstakes registrations.
- You can still opt out of many people-finders, it’s just a more “manual” process. While some sites might have a link for removing personal information, the actual process is complicated. Spokeo is the simplest. You just find your profile page on the site, go to spokeo.com/optout, and then type (or paste) the link along with your email address so you can confirm.
- At Whitepages, you have to paste the URL to your profile at whitepages.com/suppression_requests, and then type the reason you want to opt-out. After that, you have to provide your phone number—yes, you have to give a data broker your phone number. You then receive a call from a robot, which gives you a verification code you have to type on the website to complete the process.
- info actually charges a fee if you want it to remove your info.
- Delete Me offers detailed instructions for a handful of the most common sites. In addition DeleteMe has a paid service that removes you from 38 common sites for $129 per year, with other plans that go up from there. Or you can do one month for $10.79 and just periodically do it again. Link: https://joindeleteme.com/
- Email from Rajive in New Delhi: Dear Doc and Jim. I need to transfer some very large files that are around a Gigabyte. What are my options? Enjoy the podcast in India. Rajive.
- Tech Talk Responds: We use a couple of options at Stratford. There are others, but we find these very convenient. These sites offer free and paid services. I will restrict my review to the free services they provide.
- Dropbox is a cloud service that allows you to store and share files. The files are stored in the cloud which means you can access them through an internet connection from anywhere. However, you do need an account with Dropbox to use the service. If you don’t have one you can register here. You can also share files and folders in your Dropbox account. The best way to share files is by using a folder, especially if you are sharing multiple files. The major drawback of Dropbox account is the storage limit which is set at 2GB. Use Dropbox (free) when you have smaller files (less than 1 GB), need to share and store multiple files, and want greater control over your files.
- WeTransfer is primarily a file sharing site. You can store files using WeTransfer but they limit the storage period to two weeks. WeTransfer does not require that you have an account with them. All you need is an email address and the file you want to share. You also need email addresses of all the people you want to share the file with.
- Use WeTransfer, if you’re looking to share multiple large files (more than 1GB, but less than 2 GB) and when you’re not looking for online file storage. Never use WeTransfer while working with confidential documents.
Profiles in IT: Cecil Howard Green
- Cecil Howard Green was a geophysicist who was co-founder of Texas Instruments.
- Cecil Howard Green was born August 6, 1900 in Whitefield, England.
- Green and his family migrated to Nova Scotia, Toronto, Canada and San Francisco, where he witnessed his first earthquake in 1906.
- The family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where Green attended UBC for two years before transferring to MIT, earning a BSEE in 1923 and an MSEE in 1924.
- For six years, Green worked as an engineer for various electronics companies, including GE, Raytheon, Wireless Specialty, and Federal Telegraph.
- He got his big break in 1930. He accepted a accepted a job in Oklahoma from Eugene McDermott as chief of a seismographic field crew for Geophysical Service Inc.
- Founded in May 1930 in Dallas, Texas, GSI was one of the first prospecting companies established to perform reflection seismic exploration for petroleum.
- In 1941, Green and three partners ( Erik Jonsson, Eugene McDermott and H.B. Peacock) bought GSI when they heard that the owners planned to sell.
- Green borrowed money, took out a mortgage, committed his and Ida’s insurance policies as collateral and scraped together everything they owned to pay his share.
- The deal closed on December 6, 1941, the day before Pearl Harbor was bombed.
- GSI had developed a towed magnetometer for oil exploration. It was not particularly useful for finding oil but very useful indeed for finding enemy submarines.
- GSI became a geophysical exploration service leader. However, it was the electronics work begun during World War II that was to make important technology history.
- In 1951, the company’s name was changed to Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI), and GSI became a wholly owned subsidiary of TI.
- Eventually, Green served as VP, President, and Chairman of GSI.
- In 1952, TI purchased the license to manufacture transistors from Western Electric.
- TI created a Semiconductor Products Division in 18 months.
- In 1954, TI designed and manufactured the first transistor radio. The Regency TR-1 used germanium transistors, as silicon transistors were much more expensive.
- TI researcher, Jack Kilby, invented the first integrated circuit, or transistorized logic circuit, on September 12, 1958.
- Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, TI in 2004 had $12.6 billion in revenues ($10.9B Semiconductor) with more than 34,000 employees worldwide.
- Green was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1970.
- The growth of TI made Green a wealthy man, and he and Ida quickly set about giving his wealth away, contributed more than $200 million to education and medicine.
- Cecil Howard Green died in 2003 at the age of 102.
- He was given an honorary knighthood in 1991 (at age 91) by Queen Elizabeth II.
First Integrated Circuit – The Back Story
- As with many inventions, two people had the idea for an integrated circuit at almost the same time.
- One day in late July, Jack Kilby was sitting alone at Texas Instruments. He had been hired only a couple of months earlier and so he was not able to take vacation time when practically everyone else did.
- The halls were deserted, and he had lots of time to think. It suddenly occurred to him that all parts of a circuit, not just the transistor, could be made out of silicon.
- At the time, nobody was making capacitors or resistors out of semiconductors.
- If it could be done then the entire circuit could be built out of a single crystal — making it smaller and much easier to produce.
- Kilby’s boss liked the idea, and told him to get to work. By September 12, Kilby had built a working model, and on February 6, Texas Instruments filed a patent. Their first “Solid Circuit” the size of a pencil point, was shown off for the first time in March.
- But over in California, another man had similar ideas.
- In January of 1959, Robert Noyce was working at the small Fairchild Semiconductor startup company. He also realized a whole circuit could be made on a single chip.
- While Kilby had hammered out the details of making individual components, Noyce thought of a much better way to connect the parts.
- That spring, Fairchild began a push to build what they called “unitary circuits” and they also applied for a patent on the idea.
- Knowing that TI had already filed a patent on something similar, Fairchild wrote out a highly detailed application, hoping that it wouldn’t infringe on TI ‘s similar device.
- All that detail paid off. On April 25, 1961, the patent office awarded the first patent for an integrated circuit to Robert Noyce while Kilby’s application was still being analyzed.
Today, both men are acknowledged as having independently conceived of the idea.
Weird eBay Auction of the Week: Old FBI Surveillance Van
- Someone in North Carolina is offering up what is described as a restored 1989 FBI “surveillance” van, complete with listening equipment, LCD monitors, and two DVD players, apparently.
- The Dodge Ram 350 van has low mileage (23,500 miles to be exact), one careful previous owner, double-locking doors, and its own toilet for long stakeouts.
- The seller, who looks legit and has dozens of good customers reviews, claims that while the van has recently been restored since leaving the bureau and being sold at government auction, the vehicle was in fact “used for FEDERAL DRUG INVESTIGATION and still has surveillance tapes inside with notebooks.” It includes other options:
- Rear AC/heat controls
- The ability to kill the engine from the back of the van
- On-board propane tanks
- An intercom
- A number of electrical sockets
- Two extra on-board batteries
- The seller is also offering to throw in manuals for all of the on-board surveillance equipment and full documentation to show that the van is legit, something that will no doubt come in handy should the local police inquire as to why you’re driving around in a windowless van packed with stuff that resembles surveillance equipment.
The current bid for the truck is $11,100, with 27 people having already made offers.
Drone “Fireworks” Displays Displace Traditional Fireworks
- There aren’t any 4th July traditions more firmly entrenched than fireworks.
- However, a handful of towns in the Western U.S. are turning to drones to keep things wildfire-friendly.
- While traditionalists might complain that a fireworks display just is not a fireworks display without the sternum-rattling booms, drone-based solutions are rather clever.
- There’s nearly zero environmental impact, no air quality impact, and no risk of wildfires in the parched states where towns are experimenting with the alternative displays.
- Travis Air Force Base, California, has a great drone show that could be seen on YouTube.
Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7O9Qv-5D0k
Organized Cyber-crime — Evolution of the Mafia
- Does the common stereotype for “organized crime” hold up for organizations of hackers?
- Cybercrime networks work together to cause an estimated $445-600 billion of harm globally per year.
- Cybercriminals work in organizations, but those organizations differ depending on the offense. They may have relationships with each other, but they’re not multi-year, multi-generation, sophisticated groups that you associate with other organized crime networks.
- Organized cybercrime networks are made up of hackers coming together because of functional skills that allow them to collaborate to commit the specific crime.
- So, if someone has specific expertise in password encryption and another can code in a specific programming language, they work together because they can be more effective—and cause greater disruption—together than alone.
- In some of the bigger cases that we had, there’s a core group of actors who know one another really well, who then develop an ancillary network of people who they can use for money muling or for converting the information that they obtained into actual cash.
- The Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement, reviewed 18 cases from the Netherlands in which individuals were prosecuted for cases related to phishing.
- As things move to the dark web and use cryptocurrencies and other avenues for payment, hacker behaviors change and become harder to identify.
Locating a Webcam in Your Hotel Room or AirBNB
- Hidden webcams have become a problem. One network of 1,600 webcams in bedrooms was streamed over a pay-per-view site on the Internet.
- How can you detect a hidden webcam in your room?
- Perform a common sense scan of the room (smoke detectors above the bed, motion sensors, clock radios, etc.). Anything that is out of place or at a strange angle.
- Turn off the lights and look for any infrared emitters. Use the front camera on our iPhone because it does not have an infrared filter.
- Use the flashlight on your smart phone (or a regular flashlight) to look for retro-reflections from the camera lens. This is the cause of the red-eye in pictures.
- Use an application to IP scan for on the networks (Fing is a free app)
- Use an application to scan for magnetic fields or electromagnetic interference (several hidden camera apps are available ($2.99 to $4.99)
- Perform an RF scan to detect a device send RF data. RF scanners are expensive ($150). This is probably overkill and not worth the expense.
The New Rules of Communicating in the Digital Era
- Connecting with people has become so much easier with advancing technology.
- Tasks that once required an operator, postage stamp or carrier pigeon are now as simple as tapping a name or even a face on your screen.
- There are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of others who have taken to social media to express their detest for people who don’t follow the unwritten ground rules of digital communication.
- Fifteen unwritten rules of communicating according to Twitter
- Don’t randomly FaceTime people. If you want to Facetime, send a text or call first.
- One word texts like OK and LOL are conversation killers. Don’t respond with one word, unless you don’t want to talk anymore.
- If someone you know comments on a photo or video you posted, you should respond.
- If someone communicates to you using a certain form of communication, e.g. e-mail, then you are expected to respond using the same form of communication.
- Do not like your own posts. People see that, and it makes you look weird.
- Do not ask for likes, comments or shares.
- Do not take hours to respond without an excuse.
- You do not actually have to leave a voice message.
- If someone asks you multiple questions via text, do not just reply to part of the message.
- Do not post dozens of photos of cheezy quotes back to back.
- It is OK to text Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, etc. You do not have to call.
- Do not have one-on-one’s in the group-chat, better yet, rarely send group chats. They are mostly annoying and usually avoidable.
- Try not to deliver bad news via text. Do not deliver bad news via DMs.
- If you don’t get a response, you don’t have to get angry. It’s not always that big of a deal.
- If you have time to post on Snapchat, you have time to respond to text messages.