Show of 10-03-2020

Tech Talk October 3, 2020 Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments taken from previous shows.

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.
    • ExpressVPNis $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.
    • Tunnelbearis 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 Messengeris 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.
    • Skypeis 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.
    • Facetimeis 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 Duois 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: Zhang Yiming

  • Zhang Yiming is a Chinese internet entrepreneur, best known as creator of TikTok, the video sharing platform, and it parent company Bytedance.
  • Zhang Yiming was born April, 1983, in China’s Fujian province.
  • Zhang’s parents encouraged him to try new things and allowed him to decide his own direction in life at a very young age.
  • In 2001, he enrolled at Nankai University in Tianjin, where he majored in microelectronics before switching his major to software engineering. He graduated university in 2005.
  • In the next year, he got his first job out of college at an online travel booking startup called Kuxun (“cool search”). He was one of the first employees. Within a year, he supervised 40 to 50 people working on back-end technology. The next year he was technical director.
  • In 2006, Zhang left Kuxun for Microsoft. However, he felt stifled by the corporate rules.
  • He soon left Microsoft to join the startup Fanfou, a microblogging website which was the first Twitter clone in China. However, the company eventually failed.
  • In 2009, when Kuxun was to be acquired by Expedia, Zhang took over Kuxun’s real estate search business and started 99fang.com (“Ninety-nine rooms”), a real estate search portal.
  • Within six months, he launched five mobile applications, including renting a house and buying a house. With 1.5 million users, 99fang soon became the most popular real estate app.
  • Zhang thought that Chinese smartphone users were struggling to find information. Zhang wanted to create a platform whose results were powered by AI, using prior search data.
  • He hired a CEO to run things at 99fang.com to focus on building another venture.
  • In 2012, he then founded Bytedance, in his four-bedroom apartment in Beijing.
  • The company raised US$5 million in its Series A financing round from billionaire investor Yuri Milner and Susquehanna Investments, which later on contributed US$10M more.
  • Zhang launched the Toutiao news app in August 2012 and within two years, attracted more than 13 million daily users. Toutiao means “headline” in Chinese.
  • In the next year, Sequoia Capital, which rejected Zhang the first time, led a US$100M round.
  • Zhang launched the Toutiaohao platform to attract more user-generated content.
  • By 2016, Zhang had launched Xigua Video (also known as Watermelon Video), a short form video platform that hosted a variety of video clips that were on average 2–5 minutes long.
  • Zhang also launched TopBuzz, a content discovery platform for videos, articles, breaking news and GIFs outside of China — in United States, Brazil and Japan.
  • In 2017, Bytedance purchased the global news app News Republic for US$86.60M.
  • In February 2017, ByteDance acquired Los Angeles start-up Flipagram for an undisclosed amount. Flipagram is an app that allows users to turn their photos into slideshows and videos.
  • Zhang started to develop an app where users could create short lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos. He integrated AI to recommend similar content to the users based on their preferences. The app was developed in 200 days.
  • Named as Douyin, the app was first launched in China in September 2016. Within a year, it had 100 million users, with more than one billion videos viewed every day.
  • Zhang began to build a global version of it. In 2017, TikTok was born.
  • TikTok is not available in China and its data is stored outside of China This is designed to prove independence from Communist China. But the US Military still bans it use.
  • Within two months of TikTok’s launch, ByteDance spent an estimated sum of US1B to purchase Musical.ly. This was in a bid to leverage its young user base.
  • On August 2018, TikTok merged with Musical.ly to create a larger video community.
  • TikTok, it still retains the core feature of both apps: short-form videos up to 15 seconds.
  • He then started to make his own TikToks and requires his senior employees to as well.
  • TikTok then became the third-most downloaded non-game app in the world, following behind WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
  • It has suddenly become a global cultural phenomenon. The app was downloaded 1.57 billion times, and nearly half of those, 689 million, occurred in 2019.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, TikTok hit 2 billion downloads and became the most installed app.
  • With this, TikTok surpassed WhatsApp as the most downloaded app in the world.
  • In 2020, Bytedance is worth more than US$100 billion in recent private share transactions.
  • App of the Week: GetUpSide App of the Week: GetUpSide (Originally aired 6 June 2020)
  • GetUpside partners with businesses to give you cash back on everyday purchases.
  • Most of the partner businesses are gas stations, but in some areas there are restaurant and grocery offers as well.
  • I was skeptical about this app. But after trying it, I like it.
  • I have used it for three gas purchases so far and have earned $9.94 in cash back.
  • It is easy to use.
    • Download the App and create an account.
    • Find Participating Businesses using location services
    • Claim an Offer
    • Complete Your Claimed Deal
    • Upload the Receipt. In some cases, you can simply identify the credit card that you plan to use. It takes about two days to get the credit.
  • Cash Out (to another account like Amazon or get a check)
  • Remember that an offer on GetUpside might not always be the best deal for your wallet, so always comparison shop.

Observations from the Bunker  (Originally aired 6 June 2020)

  • On Wednesday morning, before the Falcon 9 rocket was first set to launch, Musk gave an interview with CBS This Morning. In it, he shared three things we can all learn from how SpaceX and NASA put America back in the lead in space travel.
  • Don’t be afraid of big challenges.
    • This launch is the culmination of a dream. This is a dream come true. In fact, it feels surreal. If you’d asked me when starting SpaceX if this would happen, I’d be like ‘1 percent chance, 0.1 percent chance.
    • Imagine if no one did the hard things. Imagine if you woke up and decided that starting a business was just too hard. Your customers and team are counting on you and your idea. They are counting on you to do the hard things that bring that idea to life as a business.
  • Focus on what matters.
    • Overcoming challenges requires a relentless focus on what matters most. When you’re launching people into space, that means delivering the astronauts safely to their destination–in this case the International Space Station (ISS). According to Musk, their safety is “the only priority” for his team, and is “really all I can think about right now.”
    • That isn’t all that different for your business. Right now, the only thing that matters is figuring out how to best take care of your people, your customers, and your community. If you don’t get that right, nothing else will matter.
  • Share credit and take responsibility.
    • Rarely does someone accomplish a really hard thing–whether that’s launching a business or launching a rocket–on their own. Often it’s the person at the top who gets the recognition, but a good leader knows to share the credit.
    • “I’m the chief engineer of this thing, so I’d just like to say that if it goes right, it’s credit to the SpaceX-NASA team,” said Musk. “If it goes wrong, it’s my fault.”
  • That second part may actually be the more important leadership lesson, though it isn’t something we hear all that often lately. If you want people to join your idea or your adventure, show them that you are willing to be generous in sharing the credit for its success while being accountable for the outcome.

Safety Alert: Coffee Banned in A350 Cockpits (Originally aired 8 February 2020)

  • The EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued a formal safety directive banning A350 airliner pilots from putting cups of coffee anywhere near sensitive cockpit electronics.
  • The EASA ban, confirmed yesterday, takes the form of a “liquid prohibited zone” inside the A350’s cockpit and pragmatic “procedures to be followed in the case of inadvertent liquid spillage”.
  • If pilots do not overcome their addiction to caffeine and stop spilling beverages over control panels, warned EASA, spillages could “lead to a dual engine in flight shut down, possibly resulting in a forced landing with consequent damage to the airplane and injury to occupants”.
  • Aviation trade mag Flight Global reported that the cockpit coffee ban came about after two incidents where spilled liquids led to engines shutting down mid-flight “after inconsistent output” from control panels submerged under hot java.
  • Last year an A330 captain discovered, while over the middle of the Atlantic, that pouring hot coffee onto his aircraft’s radios causes them to melt.

Idea of Week: Monitor Glucose Levels without Finger Prick (Originally aired 8 February 2020)

  • Samsung announced that it has developed a way to monitor blood glucose levels without requiring people to prick their fingers to draw blood.
  • Using a technique known as “Raman spectroscopy” the team created a system that “utilizes lasers for chemical composition identification.”
  • Adjusting this system enabled “the direct observation of glucose Raman peaks,” with Samsung adding that the group “demonstrated one of the highest prediction accuracies among non-invasive technologies.”
  • Raman spectroscopy (/ˈrɑːmən/); (named after Indian physicist C. V. Raman) is a spectroscopic technique typically used to determine vibrational modes of molecules, although rotational and other low-frequency modes of systems may also be observed.
  • Raman spectroscopy relies upon inelastic scattering of photons, known as Raman scattering. Laser light interacts with molecular vibrations, phonons or other excitations in the system, resulting in the energy of the laser photons being shifted up or down. The shift in energy gives information about the vibrational modes in the system. Infrared spectroscopy typically yields similar, complementary, information.
  • No product launch date has been announced.