Show of 07-18-2020

Tech Talk July 18, 2020

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Ngoc in Cleveland: Dear Doc and Jim. My son has been wanting a nice gaming computer and I’m planning to buy him one for his 12th birthday. I looked at the gaming computers on Amazon and virtually every computer that came up runs Windows 10. My son has been playing around with Linux for a while and he really likes it. That’s why I’m trying to find a gaming PC with Linux on it. My question is why aren’t there any gaming computers that run Linux? Ngoc in Cleveland, OH
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are more Windows PCs in the world than there are Linux computers. Game developers target the Windows market because that’s where the real profit potential lies. That’s also why there are more viruses aimed at Windows machines than Linux boxes or Macs. The most popular games typically run on Windows machines.
  • There is also a secondary reason why gaming PCs tend to be Windows machines: Windows is simply better suited for gaming because it has much better support for gaming and the more powerful hardware that’s typically required for running the most resource-intensive games.
  • While there are various ways to run Windows games on a Linux machine (and some of them work pretty well), your son will most likely enjoy the best gaming experience if he simply runs them on a Windows machine instead. For that reason, I strongly recommend that you get your son a Windows gaming PC instead.
  • Email from Lilly in Fairfax: Dear Doc and Jim. 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? Lilly in Fairfax, VA.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can indeed connect Bluetooth speakers and headphones to an older stereo system or TV by using an inexpensive device called a Bluetooth Transmitter/Receiver. 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!
  • The TaoTronics Long Range Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter Receiver for TV, Wireless Audio Adapter for Home Stereos is $46.99 on Amazon. The Audio transmitter can stream Audio wirelessly up to a range of 164ft line-of-sight in open air. Will pair with tow devices simultaneously.
  • Email from Peter in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. Do you know when Microsoft is planning to release Windows 11? I really need to buy a new laptop but I’d rather wait to get one with Windows 11 if it’s going to be available pretty soon. Love the podcast. Peter in Fairfax, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Microsoft is not currently planning to release a Windows 11 at all. A while back, they made the decision to move to a “rolling update” process for Windows 10 instead of periodically releasing a new version. Under their rolling update model they are releasing a major feature update for Windows 10 every six months and regular “bug fix” and maintenance updates once a month (and occasionally more often when situations require it). The semi-annual major feature updates are not new versions of Windows. They are simply updates to Windows 10.
  • This strategy is a good move for both Microsoft and Windows users.
    • Once Windows 8.1 reaches the ends of its life-cycle in January 2023, Windows 10 will be the only version of Windows remaining.
    • Microsoft will no longer have to spend money and resources maintaining multiple versions of the operating system.
    • They will be able to spend that saved money to enhance and better support Windows 10.
  • If you truly need to buy a new laptop, you can go ahead and buy one at any time because Windows 10 is going to be on it regardless of how long you wait.
  • Email from Paula in Lancing, MI: Dear Doc and Jim. I recently bought a new 27″ iMac and I absolutely love it except for one small problem. I love the large screen but I sometimes have trouble finding the mouse cursor on it. Can you tell me how to increase the size of the mouse pointer on my Mac so it’ll be easier to find? Thanks. Paula in Lansing, Michigan.
  • Tech Talk Responds: It is very easy to make the mouse pointer bigger on any Mac. Just follow the steps below:
    • Click the Apple icon (located in the top-left corner of the screen).
    • Click System Preferences.
    • Click Accessibility.
    • Click Display (over in the left-hand column).
    • Find the “Cursor size” field and move the slider to the right until the cursor is large enough for you to easily see on a “busy” screen.
  • The mouse pointer on your iMac should now be a lot easier to find.
  • Email from Tuc in Chantilly: Dear Tech Talk. I like to post pictures of my business on Facebook for marketing. Is there a way to format my posts? They look so boring in plain type. I want my customers to read them and maybe visit me more often. Thanks for the advice each week on Tech Talk. Tuc in Chantilly, VA
  • grandkids on Face
  • Tech Talk Responds: The best formatting tool in Facebook is Notes.
    • You can format the text of your note to bold or italics.
    • You can insert a picture or a quote.
    • You can have numbered lists or bulleted lists.
    • Notes can have comments, shares and likes
    • Notes have their own area on your profile so they are more “accessible”
    • You can save drafts of Notes to work on and access later
    • You can restrict the privacy of your Note so only certain people or groups of people can see it (always available just on Profiles)
    • Notes appear in Google searches
  • With all the design options, you can develop very visually interesting Facebook notes.
  • To access Notes, Go to your own Profile (click on your name at the very top of Facebook). Select More just under your cover photo and if you already have the Notes app installed it will be in the dropdown menu and you can select it.
  • If you do not have Notes listed, add the Notes tab. Go to Settings. Select Templates and Tabs from the Menu on the left. Select Add a Tab at the Bottom. Select Add Tab beside Notes. Now Notes will appear in the Menu.
  • Once you create a Note. You can save it as a draft, or you can publish it. The only disadvantage of a Notes post, is that you cannot Boost it with paid advertising.
  • If you want to post to your wall, there are no formatting tools available with Facebook. However, you can use some third-party websites for format using Unicode tags. These Unicode tags will produce formatted posts. These posts can be Boosted.
  • Facebook now lets you add limited formatting to “Group” posts. Formatting options include: H1, H2, Unordered List, Numbered List, and Quotation. If you select any of the text you have written in the group post box, two more formatting options will pop up above the text, “Bold” and “Italic”. These options are not available for comments on group posts, just the posts themselves.
  • Email from Donna in Kansas: Dear Tech Talk. I sometimes have devices fail because the batteries leak and corrode the contacts. What is the best way to clean up my device, if it suffers from a old battery leak? Love the show. Donna in Pittsburg, KS
  • Tech Talk Responds; If the leak isn’t too bad, the device might be salvageable. If you don’t have a contact cleaner (like DeoxIt), vinegar or lemon juice both work just as well. Isopropyl alcohol can be used clean off the vinegar or lemon juice and leave the circuitry clean. At the pharmacy, you can get 91 percent, which is ideal. You need Q-tips that are small enough to fit into most battery compartments. A toothbrush may come in handy too.
  • Dip a Q-tip in your cleaning agent, vinegar, or lemon juice, and then soak the affected area with it. The clean it with Isopropyl alcohol, Let it dry and then reassemble.
  • On most gadgets with simple circuitry, the negative battery connector is usually held down by a screw or clip. You should be able to remove this easily and clean it separately. Place a towel underneath to catch any overspill.

Profiles in IT: Kateryna Lohvynivna Yushchenko

  • Kateryna Yushchenko is a Soviet computer scientist best known for creating the Address programming language. She is called the Ukrainian Lady Lovelace.
  • As Ada Lovelace, who was the first programmer for Babbages analytical machine, Yushchenko was the first woman to write programs for MESM computer, the first electronic computer in the European continent. The MESM (Malaya Elektronnaya Schetnaya Mashina) means Small Electronic Computing Machine in Russian.
  • The address language correctly identified the main principles of algorithmic programming languages: the use of mathematical formulas and assignment operators. But the central idea was to explicitly distinguish between the address and its content. Thus, the pointer technique was invented. Pointers were not used in the West until much later.
  • Kateryna Lohvynivna Yushchenko was born December 8, 1919 in central Ukraine.
  • She started her studies in Kyiv University in 1937, but was expelled because her father was accused of being “enemy of the people”.
  • She applied to the university of Moscow and got accepted, but couldn’t start studying there, since they didn’t provide lodging.
  • She moved to Uzbekistan and enrolled at the university in Samarkand. To support herself, she got a job in a factory that produced sights for tanks during the war
  • She received her BS in 1942 from Central Asian State University.
  • After the war, she returned to Ukraine and in 1950 obtained a Ph.D. from the Institute of Mathematics of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. She was the first woman in the USSR to become a Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences in programming.
  • In 1950, Boris V. Gnedenko, a former boss of Kateryna, was appointed to the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. His was in the Kyiv Institute of Mathematics. As soon as he moved there, he invited Kateryna to join him, as Senior Researcher.
  • In 1954, the first computer in the USSR, MESM, was transferred to the Institute of Mathematics. Yushchenko was one of the scholars operating the MESM.
  • In 1957, she became Director of the Institute of Computer Science of the Ukrainian SSR Academy of Sciences.
  • In the process of working with MESM, it became clear that the more complex tasks were difficult to solve by writing simple machine programs.
  • There was a need to develop a high-level programming language, but there was a problem: the absence of an appropriate translator for better human/computer communication.
  • In 1955, Yushchenko created the Address programming language.
  • The address language correctly identified the main principles of algorithmic programming languages: the use of mathematical formulas and assignment operators.
  • The central idea was to explicitly distinguish between the address and its content.
  • Thus, the pointer technique was invented. Pointers were not used in the West until 1964. Some credit her with the creation of memory pointers, but most credit Harold Lawson with the idea when he created PL/1 in 1964. Her work was not known in the West. Her books were not in English.
  • In the early 1960s, the first compilers for the address language were created. But this language was created in isolation from the international community, which already had created Algol and Fortran.
  • If her work has been known globally, the address language could have been one the first programming languages used in the world.
  • In 1961 she co-authored the book “Elements of Programming.” The book was used all across the USSR and countries from the Eastern Bloc.
  • Yushchenko was the founder of the first Soviet School of Theoretical Programming.
  • One of the major achievements of the School at that time was the creation of algebraic grammar methods for software synthesis.
  • Yushchenko worked on probability theory, algorithmic languages and programming languages, and developing methods of automated data processing systems.
  • A tireless mentor, she supervised 56 PhDs!
  • To prepare programmers, Yuschenko wrote an educational series of textbooks in the 1970s. Yuschenko held five Copyright Certificates, which developed eight State Standards of Ukraine.
  • She is an author of over 200 manuscripts, including 23 monographs and train aids.
  • Despite all her achievements, it is hard not to empathize with the young Kateryna, wandering across Eastern Europe, with her family wrongly accused, and in jail.

Observations from the Bunker

  • Top 10 Steve Jobs rules for success (in life)
    • Don’t live a limited life. — Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
    • Have passion — If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out. Being passionate about your job will make you able to hold on when things get rough.
    • Design for yourself — Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. You are the captain of your own ship; don’t let anyone else take the wheel.
    • Don’t sell crap — Sell only high quality products. That is Apple is still on top.
    • Build a great team — The people you surround yourself with, are the people that will shape your future. If you surround yourself with smart and positive people that share your vision, well then, you have a bright future ahead of you.
    • Don’t do it for the money — Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Steve Jobs was worth 100 million dollars when he was 25 years old, but he did not do it for the money. He did it because he wanted to change the world, he was an innovator.
    • Be proud of your products — Create products that you can proudly recommend to friends and family, if your product is great, money will follow.
    • Build around customers — You must also have a product that customers want and need, and the ability to show how you’re adding value, solving problems, and so forth. However, if you don’t earn the customer’s trust, they’ll probably buy from someone else whom they do trust–even if the offering isn’t as good
    • Marketing is about Values — So make sure your customers know what your company stands for.
    • Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish — Never be satisfied, and always push yourself. Do (or be willing to keep trying) the things people say cannot be done.
  • Steve died a young man, yet he was able to change the marketplace dramatically with his passion and insight.

The Twitter Hackers Tried to Breach 130 Accounts

  • Twitter suffered a serious breach a few days ago. Hackers managed to compromise employee accounts through some form of social engineering.
  • They then used Twitter’s internal tools to access high profile accounts, ranging from Barack Obama to Apple, sometimes turning off two-factor authentication.
  • Once the hackers had access, they tweeted out bitcoin scams, promising to double the money to anyone who sent a particular address bitcoin.
  • Twitter eventually managed to take back control and locked down all verified accounts in the process.
  • The company tweeted more details about the hack’s scope, and it seems the hackers targeted a total of 130 accounts, but only gained access to a small number of them.
  • While 130 accounts isn’t a huge number (especially compared to the hundreds of millions of users Twitter boasts), the limited scope makes sense.
  • The scam worked best if the tweet came from someone with both many followers and the potential money to be generous.

Iranian Spies Accidentally Leaked Videos of Themselves Hacking

  • Researchers at IBM’s X-Force security team revealed that they have obtained roughly five hours of video footage that appears to have been recorded directly from the screens of hackers working for a group calleds ITG18, APT35 or Charming Kitten.
  • It is one of the most active state-sponsored espionage teams linked to the government of Iran.
  • The leaked videos were found among 40 gigabytes of data that the hackers had apparently stolen from victim accounts, including U.S. and Greek military personnel.
  • Other clues in the data suggest that the hackers targeted U.S. State Department staff and an unnamed Iranian-American philanthropist.
  • The IBM researchers say they found the videos exposed due to a misconfiguration of security settings on a virtual private cloud server they’d observed in previous APT35 activity.
  • The videos appear to be training demonstrations the Iran-backed hackers made to show junior team members how to handle hacked accounts.
  • They show the hackers accessing compromised Gmail and Yahoo Mail accounts to download their contents.
  • The videos show a first-hand view of state-sponsored cyberspying that’s almost never seen outside of an intelligence agency.

DHS Fears Face Masks will Hinder Facial Recognition

  • The US Department of Homeland Security has raised concerns internally that facemasks meant to protect against the spread of COVID-19 may interfere with facial recognition technology,
  • It also appears worried about the use of face masks to evade law enforcement even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
  • The agency suggests in the memo that protesters would use masks to avoid detection by facial recognition programs, while acknowledging it had “no specific information that violent extremists or other criminals in the United States are using protective face coverings to conduct attacks.”
  • The latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people wear cloth face coverings in public. Such face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others..
  • Meanwhile, cities and states across the US have started reining in the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement and other entities. Boston banned the use of the technology in the city last month, following bans in Oakland and San Francisco that prohibit its use by city agencies.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan filed an administrative complaint against the Detroit police department over the January wrongful arrest of a man misidentified by facial recognition.
  • A bill introduced by Democrats in the House late last month would prohibit the use of facial recognition technology until there’s a law that explicitly permits it.


 

How to Make Google Auto-Delete Your Web and Location History

  • Google collects and remembers information about your activity, including your web, search, and location history.
  • Google now auto-deletes history for new users after 18 months, but it will remember history forever if you previously enabled this feature with the default options.
  • As an existing user, to make Google delete your data after 18 months, you will have to go into your activity settings and change this option. You can also tell Google to auto-delete activity after three months or stop activity collection entirely.
  • To find these options, head to the Activity Controls page and sign in with your Google account if you are not already signed in. Click the “Auto-delete” option under Web & App Activity.
    • Enabling “Auto-delete” for Web & App Activity on a Google account.
    • Select when you want to delete data—after 18 months or 3 months. Click “Next” and confirm to continue.
  • Scroll down on the page and repeat this process for other types of data you might want to auto-delete, including Location History and YouTube History.
  • Auto-delete controls for YouTube History in a Google account.
  • You can also disable (“pause”) activity history collection by clicking the slider to the right of a type of data. If it’s blue, it’s enabled. If it’s grayed out, it’s disabled.
  • If the “Auto-delete” option for a type of history data is grayed out, that’s because you’ve paused (disabled) collection of that data.
  • Disabling Location History for a Google account.
  • You can also head to the My Activity page and use the “Delete activity by” option in the left sidebar to manually delete various types of data stored in your Google account.

Defendant’s Refusal To Unlock Smartphone Upheld By Indiana Supreme Court

  • The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled on whether a suspect in an ongoing investigation can be compelled to unlock their smartphone to aid authorities in their investigation.
  • In a 3-2 decision released June 23, the court held that an individual’s decision to not voluntarily unlock their smartphone is protected by the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.
  • This case only interprets the law in Indiana and is only controlling on courts in Indiana. However, the depth of the analysis into the federal case law on the Fifth Amendment will likely mean that this case is cited in other jurisdictions that will have to grapple with this same issue in their own cases.
  • The defendant in the case, Katelin Seo, was being investigated by local authorities for stalking and harassment.
  • The police detectives sought and obtained two search warrants. The first permitted a forensic download of the contents of her smartphone. The second warrant compelled her to unlock the phone for purposes of allowing investigators access. Seo refused to unlock the phone and was held in contempt by the trial court.
  • In reaching its decision, the court relied upon the Fifth Amendment provision that protects a person from “being compelled to be a witness against himself.”
  • The Indiana Supreme Court found that compelling Seo to unlock a smartphone was tantamount to requiring her to “assist in the prosecution of her own criminal case.”
  • The majority opinion concludes that the compelled production of an unlocked smartphone is “testimonial” in nature and as a result is covered by the protections of the Fifth Amendment.
  • This will be an issue in other cases in the future, and this thorough review of Fifth Amendment application to electronic devices will likely be at the forefront of future case analysis.