Show of 10-24-2020

Tech Talk October 24, 2020

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Cathy in Boulder: I hope you can help me. I dropped a book on my keyboard and something happened to my screen. Now, whenever I visit a website in Firefox the letters on the screen are so tiny I can barely read them. How can I get them back to normal size? Everything is fine when I use Edge, but I really prefer using Firefox. Cathy in Boulder, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: Amelda, it’s hard to visualize just which keys the book could have hit to make this change, but it obviously did. What happened was you accidentally changed a setting called the “zoom”. Luckily, getting things back to normal will be fast and easy. Here’s how:
    • Open Firefox and visit any web page with normal sized text on it.
    • Press and hold the Ctrl key while pressing the + key (that’s the key with the plus sign on it) until the text size looks normal to you. If you go too far and the text gets too big, simply hold down the Ctrl key while pressing the – key (that’s the key with the minus sign).
    • Alternatively, you can use your mouse. Simply hold down the Ctrl key while turning the mouse wheel. Turn the wheel forward to make the text larger or backwards to make it smaller.
  • That’s all there is to it. Pretty simple, right? And by the way, you can change the text size in any major web browser using these same methods. In case you’re wondering, the change will “stick”. That means the next time you open this particular web browser the text will be the same size it was when you last closed this window.
  • Email from Hac in Bowie: Dear Tech Talk. We are having a family Zoom event for Halloween. I would like to project the Zoom meeting on our big screen TV so we can just sit in the family Zoom and talk via Zoom what are my options. I have an iPhone and a Roku player.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You have several options for projecting Zoom meeting from your smart phone. The easiest is just to mirror the screen to your TV. Since you have a Roku streaming device, you can simply use the mirroring function within the Roku app to mirror you device to the TV. However, you will still be using the iPhone camera. To get the camera in the right place, I would prop the camera just below the TV so it is pointed at the audience. Then you are good to go. After you mirror the sc screen on your phone, just joint join the Zoom meeting.
  • BTW, if you have an iPhone and an Apple TV, you can mirror easily through the Apple TV. If you have an Android phone, the easiest way to mirror the screen is to use the Chromecast streaming stick. Finally, if you want to mirror your laptop and use an external webcam, you can connect the external webcam to your usb port and then connect the laptop to the TV using an HDMI cable.
  • Email from Bob in Maryland; Dear Doc, Jim, and the scintillating Mr. Big Voice. I sometimes use the Swedish opera browser, but I had never heard of the ‘Bork Edition’ of Opera. This is mildly amusing, and I just thought I would run it by Doc to see if this really did happen or not. Love the show! Keep up the good work, Your faithful listener, Bob in Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: Bob, thanks the reminder of days gone by. In 2003, Opera released a very curious edition of their web browser, the “Bork” Edition. The special edition was available concurrently with the regular Opera release, but had one interesting difference: if users visited MSN.com using the Bork edition, they’d find that the entire text of the website was revised to appear as if written in the incomprehensible dialect used by The Swedish Chef of the Muppets fame.
  • Why release such a version and specifically target MSN.com? In 2001, Microsoft blocked alternative browsers like Opera from accessing MSN.com on the grounds that only Internet Explorer could provide a proper browsing experience. To poke fun at the issue and raise awareness of the need for openness on the web and standards that would put an end to cross-browser compatibility problems, Opera released their Bork edition and issued the following statement in a press release:
  • This is a joke. However, we are trying to make an important point. The MSN site is sending Opera users what appear to be intentionally distorted pages. The Bork edition illustrates how browsers could also distort content, as the Bork edition does. The real point here is that the success of the Web depends on software and Web site developers behaving well and rising above corporate rivalry.
  • Email from Jim in Bowie: Dear Tech Talk. I would like to post an occasional polical post on Facebook. However, I do not want to create a stressful situation with friends who do not like to discuss politics at all. Is there a way to direct my comments to only those friends who want to participate in this type of conversation? How to post about politics on Facebook without irritating your apolitical friends. Jim in Bowie
  • Tech Talk Responds: There is a simple way to post about politics (or any other topic for that matter) on your Facebook Timeline without your non-political friends ever having to see those posts or any of the comments that are left on them. All you have to do is create a “Custom Friend List” consisting just of your Facebook friends who enjoy discussing politics (or whatever the topic might be) and publish your political posts to that custom list. Here’s how to set it up:
    • Log into your Facebook account and visit your Newsfeed page.
    • Click the Friend Lists link located in the left-hand column (note: you might need to click See More).
    • Click the Create List button.
    • Type a name for the list that matches the topic you wish to discreetly post about on Facebook into the “List Name” field. For example, if you want to post about politics you could simply name the list Political Friends.
    • Type the names of the friends you want to add to the list into the “Members” field.
    • After you’ve finished entering the names of all the friends you want to add to the list simply click the Create button to create the list.
  • Follow these steps to publish posts intended to be seen only by members of your new list:
    • Go to your Timeline page and click inside the “Status Update” box (the box where you always type your posts).
    • Type your post, upload a photo, paste a link…whatever you want the post to consist of.
    • Change the privacy setting for the post to force the post to only go to the members of your list.
    • To do that simply click the ‘Audience Selector’ for the post and select your new “Political Friends” list from the list of “Custom” lists.
    • After you’ve set the privacy level for the post to the “Political Friends” setting you can click the Post button to publish the post on your Timeline.
  • There are several ways to find friends who would want to be on your Political Friends list and receive your political posts. The easiest way is to publish a post saying something like “Who wants to be on my new “Political Friends” list and receive my posts about politics?”
  • Email from Donald in Fort Lauderdale: Dear Doc and Jim. I just dropped my Andoid phone and shattered the screen. Now I can do anything with the broken screen. Is there any way to access my phone so that I can back up all the data before getting a new phone? Donald in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Look at your phone’s connector. You are going to want to get an adapter that plugs into that connector. In your case, you’ll need a USB-C (male) to USB-A (female) adapter. BTW, you need a Lightning to USB-A (female) adapter for an iPhone.
  • You will plug that into your phone, and then plug a regular computer mouse directly in the open end. Yes, using the “male” and “female” naming conventions feels incredibly outdated. Once you’ve done that, your phone should immediately recognize your mouse as an input device. You will then be able to use it much as you would your finger—pulling up your PIN input, clicking on the numbers, and doing everything else you would normally do on your Android. My advice? Use it to email yourself whatever you might want to access on your phone. That, or make a solid backup of your device (remembering to save any texted photos or videos separately, or use an app that can back up text and media) while you ponder what you’re going to do about your shattered device. If you happen to have a USB-C hub with multiple USB-A ports, you can plug in both a mouse and keyboard to make this process even easier.

Profiles in IT: Jack Patrick Dorsey

  • Jack Patrick Dorsey technology entrepreneur best known as co-founder and CEO of Twitter and the founder and CEO of Square, a financial payments company.
  • Dorsey was born November 19, 1976 in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • He attended the Catholic Bishop DuBourg High School. In his younger days, Dorsey worked occasionally as a fashion model.
  • By age fourteen, Dorsey had become interested in dispatch routing. Some of the open-source software he created in the area of dispatch logistics is still used.
  • Dorsey attended the University of Missouri–Rolla for two-plus years, before transferring to NYU, but he dropped out in 1999, one semester short of graduating.
  • In 2000, Dorsey used his dispatch software to start a company in Oakland to dispatch couriers, taxis, and emergency services from the Web.
  • In July 2000, building on dispatching and inspired by AOL Instant Messenger, he had the idea for a Web-based real time status/short message communication service.
  • He pitched the idea to Odeo. Dorsey and Biz Stone decided that SMS text suited the status-message idea, and built a prototype of Twitter in about two weeks.
  • The idea successfully attracted many Odeo users. In 2005, Evan Williams, Odeo co-founder, provided angel financing.
  • Williams, Stone and Noah Glass co-founded Obvious Corporation, which then spun off Twitter, Inc., with Dorsey as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
  • As CEO, Dorsey saw the startup through two rounds of VC funding.
  • As the service began to grow in popularity, Dorsey chose the improvement of uptime as top priority, even over revenue.
  • He says his three guiding principles are simplicity, constraint and craftsmanship.
  • On 2008, Williams took over as CEO, while Dorsey became Chairman of the Board.
  • He reportedly lost his position for leaving work early for yoga and fashion design.
  • In 2011, he returned to Twitter as Executive Chairman after Dick Costolo replaced Williams as CEO.
  • In 2015, Costolo resigned as CEO and Dorsey assumed the post of interim CEO.
  • He was named permanent CEO on October 5, 2015.
  • In May 2016, Dorsey announced that Twitter would not count photos and links in the 140-character limit to free up more space for text, to entice new users.
  • In March 2018, Dorsey announced that an improved version of the verification system would be coming to Twitter.
  • Dorsey announced that, as of November 22, 2019, Twitter would ban all political advertising. The policy applies globally to all polical campaigns.
  • In October 2020, Dorsey was one of several tech firm CEOs subpoenaed by the US Senate Commerce Committee about the legal immunity the tech platforms receive under Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934.
  • In May 2010, Dorsey, and Jim McKelvey, released a small business platform to accept debit and credit card payments on a mobile device called Square.
  • The small, square-shaped device attaches to a mobile device via the headphone jack.
  • Square is also a system for sending paperless receipts via text message or email.
  • The company grew from 10 employees in December 2009 to over 100 by June 2011.
  • Square’s office is on Market Street in San Francisco. In September 2012, Business Insider magazine valued Square Inc. at US$3.2 billion.
  • Dorsey is CEO of Square, Inc. On October 14, 2015, Square filed for an IPO to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. As of that date, Dorsey owned 24.4 percent of the company.
  • In March 2020 the FDIC permitted Square to open a bank. It announced plans to launch Square Financial Services in 2021.
  • In 2012, Dorsey moved to the Sea Cliff neighborhood of San Francisco. He walks five miles to work each morning and calls it a “very clearing time”.
  • On April 7, 2020, Dorsey announced that he will move about $1 billion of his equity in Square, Inc., just under a third of his total wealth, to Start Small, LLC, and to relief programs related to the coronavirus
  • In 2008, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR35 as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under the age of 35.
  • In 2012, The Wall Street Journal gave him the “Innovator of the Year Award” for technology.

Observations from the Bunker

  • First Amendment vs Censorship
  • The now-retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in an opinion on a 2017 First Amendment case, called the cyber age a revolution of historic proportions, noting that “we cannot appreciate yet its full dimensions and vast potential to alter how we think, express ourselves, and define who we want to be.”
  • Kennedy said cyberspace, and social media in particular, was among the “most important places … for the exchange of views.” He compared the internet to a public forum, akin to a public street or park.
  • Justice Kennedy’s believed that the public forum doctrine should not remain frozen in time, limited to protecting public squares and public parks, while new forums for public debate go unprotected.
  • This battleground raises serious concerns about the future of free speech, including attempts at censorship by government actors critical of comments on social media, the shifting standards of private platforms to censor online expression and the rise of hate and extremist speech in the digital world. There are three areas that must be addressed.
  • GOVERNMENT BLOCKING — When government officials block or remove critical comments online, this violates the core First Amendment principle that individuals have the right to criticize government officials.
  • PRIVATE CENSORSHIP — Much of the censorship on social media does not emanate directly from the government. Often, the censorship comes from social media companies that police content pursuant to their own terms-of-service agreements. Do these activities stifle free speech and how can they be regulated? Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 must be reviewed and revised.
  • POLICING HATE-FILLED CONTENT — If such private entities are not subject to First Amendment constraints, what should be the obligation of social media platforms when it comes to regulating private expression, particularly expression that advocates hate or includes calls for violence?

How Twitter Makes Its Money

  • Hundreds of millions of people use Twitter to keep up on breaking news and follow events in the entertainment, sports, and political arenas. That relevance has helped the company earn a $12 billion valuation.
  • Twitter makes almost all of its money by selling advertisements — called promoted posts or promoted stories — that show up in its users’ feeds.
  • Ad revenue was $2.25 billion, accounting for 89% of the company’s top line last year. Twitter’s data licensing segment accounts for the rest.
  • In that way, its business model is essentially the same as Facebook’s. Both companies operate in a digital advertising industry that’s growing quickly as people consume more media online rather than through television, newspapers, and magazines.
  • Yet there are major differences that help explain why Facebook’s stock has been setting new all-time highs lately while Twitter’s is languishing well below its IPO price. The biggest is in the area of reach. Facebook recently passed 2 billion users as its active base jumped 17% year over year. Twitter, on the other hand, counted just 328 million users in late July, unchanged from the prior quarter and up just 5% from the year-ago period.
  • Facebook also has a much more engaged base of people who post status updates, pictures, and messages. That translates into additional opportunities to show ads and increased engagement on the ads themselves.

Tip of the Week: NEVER participate in a ‘Quiz’ on Facebook

  • If you’ve been on Facebook for a while you’ve probably seen a wide variety of quiz-style posts pop up in your Newsfeed.
  • There are many variations of these posts, but the most common ones are of the “What is your spirit animal?” or “Which celebrity do you look like?” type posts.
  • These posts can seem like they’re nothing more than just a bit of innocent fun, but the truth is they can be quite dangerous.
  • Many of these quizzes require you to enable an app in order to participate in the quiz.
  • Once you enable the app and accept its “permissions” it will proceed to mine your Facebook account and steal your personal information, your photos and even a digital copy of your Friends List.
  • The app (or the scammer behind it) will then use that stolen information to do all of the following (and often more):
    • Use the information mined from your account (your real name, mailing address, phone number, and birthdate) to steal your identity.
    • Create a fake “clone” Facebook account in your name.
    • Use that fake account to perpetrate various scams on the people on your Friends List.
    • Install additional malicious apps on your account that you don’t even know about.
    • Write posts on the Timeline of your real account and make it appear that they were written by you.
    • Send fraudulent (and dangerous) instant messages to your Facebook friends.
  • If an invitation to participate in a quiz lands in your Newsfeed it would be best to simply delete the post and move on because interacting with it in any way could cause problems for both you and your friends.

All iPhone 12 Phones have 5G: Should you Upgrade?

  • All iPhone 12 models support 5G. Future iPhones will all likely support 5G, too.
  • However, older iPhones like the iPhone 11, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and iPhone X do not support 5G.
  • However, only US models of the iPhone 12 will have millimeter wave (mmWave) hardware support.
  • When someone says 5G can offer speeds of over 4.0 Gbps in “ideal conditions,” they’re talking about millimeter wave.
  • Millimeter wave technology is short range. In dense urban areas, it may be worth the investment to install the necessary amount of base stations for widespread coverage, and millimeter wave may deliver high speeds.
  • Not everywhere covered by 5G will be covered by millimeter wave base stations.
  • 5G in most small towns, rural areas, and suburbs likely won’t get close to the promised fastest speeds. They will get “sub-6” 5G that is more similar to 4G LTE.
  • 5G will add additional mid-band spectrum that should extend somewhere faster service to rural areas covered by slower low-band service under 4G LTE.
  • In some cases, 5G networks have shown slower speeds than 4G LTE networks. In September 2020, a PCMag test found that AT&T’s 5G network was slower than its 4G LTE network in nearly every city tested.
  • This is a result of the way AT&T has chosen to deploy 5G and can be fixed by cellular carriers—but it shows how upgrading to 5G isn’t necessarily an improvement in 2020.
  • My conclusion: Don’t upgrade your phone just to get 5G. It is not worth it.

Lidar Sensor is the Biggest Change for iPhone12

  • The iPhone 12 Pro and 2020 iPad Pro have a new sensor that adds depth scanning for better photos, but the future points to AR glasses and more.
  • Look closely at one of the new iPhone 12 Pro models, or the most recent iPad Pro, and you’ll see a little black dot near the camera lenses, about the same size as the flash.
  • That’s the lidar sensor, and it’s a new type of depth-sensing that could make a difference in a number of interesting ways.
  • Lidar stands for light detection and ranging, and has been around for a while. It uses lasers to ping off objects and return to the source of the laser, measuring distance by timing the travel, or flight, of the light pulse.
  • Lidar is a type of time-of-flight camera. Some other smartphones measure depth with a single light pulse, whereas a smartphone with this type of lidar tech sends waves of light pulses out in a spray of infrared dots and can measure each one with its sensor, creating a field of points that map out distances and can “mesh” the dimensions of a space and the objects in it. The light pulses are invisible to the human eye, but you could see them with a night vision camera.
  • The idea’s the same: Apple’s Face ID-enabling TrueDepth camera also shoots out an array of infrared lasers, but can only work up to a few feet away. The rear lidar sensors on the iPad Pro and iPhone 12 Pro work at a range of up to 5 meters.
  • Lidar is used for self-driving cars, or assisted driving. It is used for robotics and drones. Augmented reality headsets like the HoloLens 2 have similar tech, mapping out room spaces before layering 3D virtual objects into them. But it also has a pretty long history.

How to Protect Your Privacy When Your Laptop Gets Repaired

  • When your laptop goes into the shop to get repaired you risk exposing your private information, as Hunter Biden has discovered.
  • To prevent your laptop from getting “Huntered,” don’t overlook the basics, experts say.
  • First of all, laptop users should always set a strong login password. This password should be required whenever booting the device, waking it up from a sleep state, as well as to authorize any file downloads or system modifications.
  • Laptop users should also encrypt hard drives. That may sound complicated, but both Mac and Windows systems make it incredibly simple for users to encrypt their hard drives with just a few clicks.
  • But strong passwords won’t do much good if you hand them over to your repair technicians. Many repair shops will refuse to take on the repair job unless you provide this information to them. The reason the repair shop needs this is so when the repair is done the repair technician can log in to the laptop and verify that the laptop is running properly and they’re likely to run some tests as well.
  • It’s also a good idea for laptop users to keep their systems updated to ensure the latest security patches are installed. Finally, it is critical for laptop users to back up their data, in multiple places whenever possible to ensure their data is recoverable should their device get lost or stolen.
  • For users who are really paranoid, consider asking to be there during troubleshooting so that you can log in yourself and observe what is being done. Anything short of being present cannot guarantee the privacy of your data..