Show of 08-01-2020

Tech Talk August 1, 2020

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Bob in Maryland: Dear Doc, Jim and the irrepressible, Mr. BigVoice. I just stumbled across an article listing some programming languages created by women: Nine coding languages invented by Women. Maybe some of these women have not been profiled yet on Tech Talk. As you can see, I get up very early on Saturdays getting ready for Tech Talk Radio every week. If I am not mistaken, Saturday’s show on 07.25.2020 was a “highlight” or “best-of” show. Jim’s efforts were evident. One thing I have noticed is that when Mr. Big Voice is helping Jim with these “highlight” shows, is that Mr. Big Voice is much better behaved than normal, during a “live” broadcast. Is this possibly because Jim is able to work more closely with Mr. Big Voice to keep him on his marks and prepared during these “highlight” editions of Tech Talk? I do love the show. All the best, Bob in Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the article about women in computing. I have already features seven of the nine women. I missed a couple of them. Today I will feature one of them: Cynthia Solomon. I think you are right about Mr. Big Voice being controlled during “Best of” shows. He likes to show off when I am there.
  • Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Dear Dr. Shurtz and Jim. I have an irritating problem with the Win-10 Personalization Lock Screen Background Picture. A photo / picture that I chose to be displayed on the Lock Screen is larger and cropped on all sides. I have tried to edit the photo to a smaller pixel size, then to a larger pixel size. Even using other photos that are normally in high resolution or low resolution have the same problem. Nothing seems to work to get the photo on the Lock Screen to display without being cropped. Do you know how to get a photo to display on the Win-10 Personalization Lock Screen normally? And if you have time, you have mentioned that thumb drives are not reliable for storage of data. I agree. But, how do you feel about the SD cards for data storage? Are the SD cards more reliable or do they fall into the same category as thumb drives? What is your opinion on this storage medium? –Thanks, Doug / Baton Rouge, LA
  • Tech Talk Responds: When you put a photo into Screen saver or Lock screen, it must have the same dimensions as the screen if you don’t want one side cropped. Most photos are have a difference L to W radio. Check your screen and change the dimensions of the photo to match using the Photo editor. SD cards are more reliable than thumb drives because they are left in place permanently. It is the removing and inserting of the drive that creates the problem. Slightly better, but still not as reliable as other options because someone can easily remove it without your permission.
  • SD Cards use a similar technology to Solid State Hard Drives. Theoretically, you could end up with an SD card that writes and reads just as fast as an SSD.
  • Since SD cards have a limited amount of space, the microcontroller that fetches storage and writes to it is usually pushed to the edge of the card. There are only so many instructions that could be programmed into a microcontroller of that size, and with such a tiny infrastructure, the way an SD card handles data is rather rudimentary. It will have a tendency to store data wherever there is free space and read things in as orderly a manner as possible.
  • This isn’t true of SSDs, which have the luxury of fitting all of their memory and their entire infrastructure into a space that fits into the average computer’s drive bay. The entire infrastructure of the SSD is built to ensure that no single cell is used more than the others, keeping every file operation as balanced as possible, which is what you’d expect from a drive that does a lot of read/write operations. The larger amount of space also allows manufacturers to insert chips that store cached data, which is crucial for managing heavy and repetitive operations quickly. No time is wasted and everything transfers fluidly.
  • Email from Peter in Fairfax: Dear Doc and Jim. I have been working on a website and made several changes. In particular, I fixed a page that had a bad link. Now, ever though, I fixed page, I still see the same bad link result on my Chrome browser. I am perplexed and cannot figure this out. Please give me a suggestion. Peter in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: I suspect you have to clear your browser cache. Your browser stores frequently accessed website locally in memory cache to facilitate quick access. To clear the cache in a Chrome browse, click on the three vertical dots in the upper right corner. On the drop down menu, click on More Tools. Then click on Clear Browsing Data. If you clear all data, you will lose saved passwords. Choose which data you want to clear and then click OK. You should be good to go..
  • Email from Ngoc in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I am have trouble using the alarm on my Alexa. Even though the mucis volume is set to a relatively high volume, I can hardly hear my alarms and I am sleeping through them. Help. Ngoc in Ohio
  • Tech Talk Responds: The music volume and the alarm volume are two different settings. You can set the alarm volume by using the Alexa app on your mobile phone and click on Settings. Then click Device setting. Choose the particular Alexa you want to adjust and click on its name. Scroll down and click on Sounds. On this page you can adjust the volume for Alarms, Timers, and Notifications. I like to turn on the option to gradually increase the alarm volume. That way I never miss an alarm.
  • Email from Rich in Madison, Wisconsin: Dear Tech Talk. I am the lone Android phone user in an Apple family with only Apple TVs. How can I share my screen with an Apple TV when we are looking at vacations photos. Everyone except me can share and it is frustrating. Thanks for the podcast. Rich in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Streaming to Apple TV is made possible with AirPlay, which works perfectly with Apple devices. This is why iPhone users can share contents between their smartphone and Apple TV effortlessly. However, this is not applicable to Android because AirPlay is designed to communicate with its other Apple devices only.
  • Fortunately, there are third-party streaming apps which you can utilize to mirror Android to Apple TV easily. I will give you two options: Mirroring 360 and AirSync.
  • Mirroring360 is a screen mirroring program which allows you to reflect the display screen of your iPad, iPhone, or Android device to a computer screen wirelessly. In addition, it can mirror your computer screen to another PC monitor, whether it is Mac or Windows PC, allowing you to share your media content such as videos, photos, or even applications on a bigger screen. Simply download Mirroring360 from Google Play Store. Launch the app and make sure both your Android phone and Apple TV are linked to the same wireless network. Now, from the list of the detected devices, tap the name of your TV followed by the “Start Now” button. By then, you should be able to see your Android screen displayed on your Apple TV screen.
  • AirSync is nother program which uses AirPlay to enable Android devices stream media content to Apple TV is AirSync. It allows you to sync your iTunes media collection such as music, videos and other image files from your desktop or laptop to your Android over WiFi network. It automatically imports your photos and videos from your tablet or Android phone to your Mac or Windows PC. In order to unlock its AirPlay function, you have to purchase AirSync first to be able to stream your Android content to the Apple TV.
  • Email from Jessica in Ashburn, VA: Dear Tech Talk. I am trying to turn some my mobile phone photos into canvas artwork. What are my best options? How large can I make my photos? Love the show. Jessica in Ashburn, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: I love to make canvas photos on my cell phone pictures. I have used Costco photos. I do some photo optimization using apps on the cell phone first. Then I upload the photo to the Costco Photo shop. I always make certain to upload the full resolutions picture (not the thumbnail if it is stored on the cloud). If you select a print size that is too large for your photo resolution, Costco will warn you select a smaller print size. By the way to can also print on other media than canvas. All the Costco canvas prints are stretch over wooden frames. Here are few prices points: 16×20 ($37.00), 20×30 ($57.99), and 30×40 ($119.99).
  • Email from Hac in Bowie, MD: Dear Doc and Jim. I love to Tweet and sometimes I make a spelling error. However, I cannot edit my Tweet. Why not? What I am doing wrong? Hac in Bowie, MD.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Twitter does not allow Tweets to be edited because of retweets. If you send a tweet, for instance, and say “I Love X” and then it is retweeted. Then, if you edit the tweet to “I Hate X” and then all of the retweets may have retweeted something that they disagree with. The only way to edit a post is to delete the Tweet and create a new one.

Profiles in IT: Cynthia Solomon

  • Cynthia Solomon is a computer scientist known for her work in AI and for the Logo programming language, and as the Mother of Educational Computing.
  • Cynthia Solomon was born in 1938 in Somerville, MA.
  • Cynthia has admitted to struggling through some of classes during middle and high school, and has mentioned that she became motivated to continue her education through her passion of computer science and kind music teachers.
  • In the early 1960s, she received her BA in history from Radcliffe
  • In 1976, she received an MS in Computer Science from Boston College.
  • In 1985, she received a PhD in Education from Harvard University.
  • She taught at Milton Academy in Milton, MA while she worked on her PhD.
  • In 1985, she became the Technology Integration Coordinator at Monsignor Haddad Middle School in Needham, Massachusetts.
  • She was extremely interested in computer programming, but that was not something women did back then. A friend of Solomon’s helped her land a job as a secretary to MIT professor and artificial intelligence pioneer, Dr. Marvin Minsky.
  • As a result, Solomon worked for several years as a researcher with Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert at MIT and later at Bolt, Beranek and Newman.
  • While working as a researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Solomon took it upon herself to learn the programming language Lisp.
  • Solomon realized that children needed a programming language of their own.
  • Together with Seymour Papert and Wally Feurzeig, Cynthia designed the Logo computer programming language in 1967.
  • Logo is not an acronym: the name was coined by Feurzeig while he was at Bolt, Beranek and Newman, and derives from the Greek logos, meaning word or thought.
  • This language was for children to experiment with words, solve math problems, make-up stories, and create their own games. Her struggles with her early education motivated her to explore better teaching methods for children.
  • Logo is known for its use of turtle graphics, in which commands for movement and drawing produced line graphics, either on screen or with a small robot called a turtle.
  • The language was created to teach concepts of programming related to Lisp, a functional programming language.
  • In the 1980s, MIT hired Dr. Solomon to lead the Atari Cambridge Research Laboratory due to her success in developing Logo. Her focus was on building a “play station of the future”. The lab produced many experimental prototypes of technologies now central to human-computer interaction.
  • Cynthia founded Logo Computer Systems and directed the development of Apple Logo, the first commercial version of Logo.
  • Solomon maintained a long relationship working with the MIT Media Lab and the One Laptop per Child Foundation.
  • Solomon directed the creation of educational materials for the One Laptop per Child Foundation, and her doctoral research at Harvard led to the publication of the critical book, Computer Environments for Children: A Reflection on Theories of Learning and Education.
  • Solomon worked on the program committee of Constructing Modern Knowledge and the Marvin Minsky Institute for Artificial Intelligence in 2016.
  • Further, she has published many writings based on research in the field of child education and technology in the classroom.
  • Solomon has conducted workshops in elementary schools, high schools, and colleges regarding academic research and writing.
  • Focused specifically on elementary school mathematics, Solomon discusses the role of computers in innovative learning theories.
  • Solomon is also the co-author of Designing Multimedia Environments for Children, with Allison Druin.
  • Not only did Solomon help create the first programming language for children, but she developed many of the pedagogical approaches and activities we currently use to teach students to use computers.
  • Forty five years later, Logo is still in use by millions of children around the world in the form of Scratch, MicroWorlds, Snap! and other dialects.
  • Solomon and Papert’s 1971 paper, Twenty Things to Do with a Computer, remains provocative today and lays the foundation for the Maker Movement sweeping the globe.

Observations from the Bunker

  • The Nature of Learning: Seymour Papert
  • Papert’s career traversed a trio of influential movements: child development, artificial intelligence, and educational technologies.
  • Based on his insights into children’s thinking and learning, Papert recognized that computers could be used not just to deliver information and instruction, but also to empower children to experiment, explore, and express themselves.
  • The central tenet of his Constructionist theory of learning is that people build knowledge most effectively when they are actively engaged in constructing things in the world.
  • As early as 1968, Papert introduced the idea that computer programming and debugging can provide children a way to think about their own thinking and learn about their own learning.
  • Seymour Papert he developed a theory of learning called constructionism, built upon the work of Jean Piaget in constructivist learning theories.
  • Papert had worked with Piaget at the University of Geneva from 1958 to 1963 and was one of Piaget’s protégés;
  • Four words define his approach: Projects, Passion, Peers, Play
  • Papert used Piaget’s work in the development of the Logo programming language, with Cynthia Solomon, while at MIT.
  • He used Logo as a tool to improve the way children think and solve problems.
  • A main purpose of the Logo Foundation research group is to strengthen the ability to learn knowledge.
  • Papert insisted a simple language or program that children can learn—like Logo—can also have advanced functionality for expert users.
  • A good example is teaching one of Newton’s Laws of physics: F= MA. Working with pools balls to really understand the relationship in nature is the best way to internalize the idea. Merely teaching the equation is boring and does not lead to insight.
  • Or teaching statistics with a bowl of colored marbles. Or teaching networking with a group of envelops

Tip of the Week: Using VPN to Save Money

  • If you’ve ever bought a flight online, you may have noticed that the price goes up after you’ve viewed it but before you’ve bought it.
  • That’s not usually because you’ve wasted time and the tickets are going fast – it’s because the travel company wants you to buy, and is upping the ante to scare you into pulling the trigger.
  • This clever but somewhat unscrupulous technique is most common with flight sales and car rentals (why does going on holiday have to end up so expensive?), but can also crop up elsewhere.
  • Essentially, the website uses cookies to track you, which means the next time you visit the website it knows exactly what you wanted last time, and knows to up the price again if you do another search.
  • This can potentially be avoided by using a VPN. If you fire it up before doing any searches, your identity is anonymized and subsequently you won’t have any cookies attached to your identity. If you visit the site again, you might be able to avoid an inflated price because the site doesn’t know to target you.
  • Digital services – software, video games, even other security tools – is another area where prices fluctuate. However, while prices in this market rarely change per user visit, they can vary wildly depending on your location.
  • Often companies will serve a lower price to those in poorer countries, for fairly obvious reasons. However, this isn’t always the case, and companies may also favor those in their own country. Sometimes prices seem to change entirely randomly across the globe.
  • My favorite VPN is ExpressVPN, with excellent apps, rock-solid privacy and tons of servers all over the world.


 

Watch SpaceX Landing Drago-Demo 2 This Weekend

  • The SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission has been a success to date.
  • The return to Earth takes some time, and NASA will be there along the way with a livestream on NASA TV.
  • Stormy weather at the potential splashdown sites in the Atlantic could complicate the schedule. “We’re going to watch the weather very carefully. We have a series of sites and many days. If we don’t undock on Saturday to come home on Sunday, we would move undocking to Monday,” NASA Commercial Crew Program manager Steve Stich said in a statement on Wednesday.
  • While the timing details could change, NASA has set the following coverage schedule for the major milestones:
    • Undocking coverage starts at 6:15 p.m. EST ahead of the 7:34 p.m. EST departure on Saturday, August 1, 2020 (today)
    • Splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean is targeted for 12:42 p.m. EST, Sunday, August 2, 2020.
  • Crew Dragon will be traveling at orbital velocity prior to reentry, moving at approximately 17,500 miles per hour. The maximum temperature it will experience on reentry is approximately 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Congress could take on ‘monopoly power’ in Big Tech

  • The CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google faced uncomfortable questions from the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law.
  • Big questions about fairness in the tech industry — whether the giants are too big, and if they should be broken up — remained in focus at the hearing.
  • Lawmakers explored whether giant tech companies have too much control over the industry as a whole.
  • Lawmakers worry that such power could let Big Tech stifle innovation and reduce consumer choice, which could push up prices.
  • It is illegal to pursue or maintain a monopoly with nefarious means under federal antitrust law, including the Sherman Antitrust Act and others.
  • The Sherman Antitrust Act was passed to stop companies from taking improper steps to either become or persevere as monopolies. That includes striking backroom deals or entering into conspiracies to fix prices or wages.
  • The cornerstone of US antitrust legislation, the law dates back to 1890, when the federal government was breaking up the industrial giants of the late 19th century.
  • Back then the target was steel, meat, and oil.
  • Huge “trusts” monopolized the steel, meat and, oil industries.
  • Lawmakers gave examples of antitrust behavior.
    • Amazon’s purchase and destruction of competitor Diapers.com.
    • Facebook’s power to acquire competitors like Instagram and WhatsApp.
    • Google’s ability to dominate competitors in the world of online advertising because it also owns an advertising platform.
    • Apple’s App Store, which gives it the ability to squeeze out apps that compete with its own services.

Three Have Been Charged with Twitter Hack

  • On July 31, 2020, the FBI, IRS, US Secret Service, and Florida law enforcement placed 17-year-old Graham Clark of Tampa, Florida, under arrest.
  • He is accused of being the “mastermind” behind the biggest security and privacy breach in Twitter’s history.
  • In addition, two more individuals were formally charged by the US Department of Justice: 22-year-old Nima Fazeli in Orlando and 19-year-old Mason Sheppard in the UK. They go by the hacker aliases “Rolex” and “Chaewon.
  • Authorities have probable cause to believe Clark, the Tampa teen, was the one who got access to Twitter’s internal tools and directly carried out the scam.
  • He allegedly convinced a Twitter employee that he worked in the Twitter IT department and tricked that employee into giving him the credentials.
  • Clark without gained access Twitter’s Customer Service Portal, convincing a Twitter employee that he was a co-worker in the IT department and had the employee provide credentials to access the customer service portal.
  • He accessed the Twitter accounts of prominent individuals, including Joe Biden, Barack Obama and businesses such as Apple and Coinbase.
  • Clark then posted on their Twitter accounts a communication that if Bitcoins are sent to accounts they will be doubled and returned to the victim.
  • Clark did not return the funds and he moved the funds to another account. Clark received approximately $117,000 during the commission of his scheme to defraud.
  • Sheppard was caught because he used a personal driver’s license to verify himself with the Binance and Coinbase cryptocurrency exchanges, and his accounts were found to have sent and received some of the scammed bitcoin.
  • Fazeli also used a driver’s license to verify with Coinbase, where accounts controlled by “Rolex” allegedly received payments in exchange for stolen Twitter usernames.
  • Fazeli is facing five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for one count of computer intrusion. Sheppard is being charged with computer intrusion, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy, the most serious of which comes with a 20-year sentence and a $250,000 fine in the US.
  • Clark is currently in jail and being charged with over 30 felony counts, including organized fraud, communications fraud, identity theft, and hacking.