Show of 10-31-2020

Tech Talk October 31, 2020

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Bob in Maryland: Dear Doc, Jim, and the notable Mr. BigVoice. Since we are in the middle of a Pandemic Lockdown still, I might be surfing the web a bit more than usual for entertainment. I came across this interesting website which keeps track of the status of the ice cream machines at the McDonald’s every 30 minutes. Would this be the sort of project that Doc would recommend to his students to build their resumes? Love the show! Your loyal listener, Bob in Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is exactly the type of project we have our students work on. It gives them experience before the job. It is just the kind of thing that employers love to see.
  • McBroken is a McDonald’s ice cream-tracking website developed by 24-year-old software engineer Rashiq Zahid. Every McDonald’s restaurant in the US appears on the map as a green or red dot. Green dots stand for locations with a working ice cream machine, while the red dots on McBroken denote a non-working ice cream machine.
  • The McBroken website also displays some ice cream statistics. At the time of writing, 9.89% of McDonald’s ice cream machines are inoperable, with nearly a quarter of the broken machines residing in New York.
  • Zahid realized that, as McDonald’s ice cream machines go out of order, employees manually mark ice cream as “unavailable” through the McDonald’s mobile app. Every half hour, McBroken attempts to order ice cream from McDonald’s locations across the US. Orders are never paid for, so ice cream is never wasted.)
  • The website, which launched in the US October 22nd. Even the top brass at McDonald’s are excited about McBroken, and McDonald’s VP of US Communications praised the website hours after its launch.
  • Link to website: https://mcbroken.com/
  • Email from Alice in Alexandria: Dear Doc and Jim. Is there any way to schedule emails to be delivered at a particular tim? I know that email delivered first thing in the morning are more likely to be read quickly. What options do I have? My current email client is Gmail. Alice in Alexandria
  • Tech Talk Responds: Good news. Gmail now allow you to schedule your emails to be delivered at any specific future date and time of your choosing! This feature is very easy to use.
    • Log into your Gmail account.
    • Compose the email exactly the way you want it, then click the little down arrow beside the Send button.
    • Click Schedule send.
    • Select one of the Suggested Times or Pick Date and Time.
  • The new email is now sitting in your Gmail account’s “Scheduled” folder just waiting to be delivered at the specific date and time you selected.
  • Email from Alex in Fairfax: I enjoy taking pictures and sharing them on Instagram and Facebook, and I have been doing that as a hobby for several years now. Ten months ago, I started a photo blog using WordPress to try to make some money from all the photos I’ve taken over the years. The problem is I’m not getting much traffic from Google at all to my photos. Is there something I can do to get the photos on my blog to show up in relevant Google image searches? Alex in Fairfax, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are several things you can do to encourage Google to send more traffic to your blog’s via their Image Search tool. Google’s algorithm uses the text surrounding a photo as well as other direct and indirect signals to determine what your photos are about. It then uses the information it gathered to help it decide when a given post or photo of yours matches a search query.
  • You can give a description name to you phone.
  • You can discuss the photo in your blog in a way that describes the image.
  • You can add descriptive text to the photo in the form of an “Alt tag”.
    • Upload the photo to your blog and place it wherever you want it to appear in your post.
    • Click on the photo to display the small “Options” menu.
    • Click on the “Pencil” icon to open the “Edit” screen.
    • Type your descriptive text into the box labeled “Alternative Text”.
  • You can add a caption to the photo by following these steps:
    • Click on the photo and the “Pencil” icon again to re-open the “Edit” screen (if you’re no longer on the “Edit” screen of course).
    • Type a descriptive sentence into the box labeled “Caption”.
  • Good luck with your blog!
  • Email from Doug in Kansas City: Dear Tech Talk. I am getting sales calls with my own number. How can these spammers do this? It is very annoying. Perhaps they are using my number to call other people. That would be double annoying. What can I do? Doug in Kansas City, KS
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is becoming a problem. Calling (or texting) someone and having another person’s phone number show up in the recipient’s Caller ID display is called spoofing, and unfortunately it happens all the time. A number of shady online services make it extremely easy to spoof a phone number and trick the recipient into thinking the call or text is from either someone they know personally or from a local business.
  • Under the Truth in Caller ID Act, FCC rules prohibit anyone from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongly obtain anything of value. Anyone who is illegally spoofing can face penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation. However, spoofing is not always illegal. There are legitimate, legal uses for spoofing, like when a doctor calls a patient from her personal mobile phone and displays the office number rather than the personal phone number or a business displays its toll-free call-back number.”
  • Luckily, telemarketers ARE NOT allowed to spoof their phone numbers in any case,
  • Email from John in Baltimore: I have Internet through Verizon (10Mbps DSL) that seems to get slower every day. I just bought a new desktop computer that has both a wired Ethernet port and a wireless Wi-Fi card in it. Is there any way to use both of those network adapters at once to double the effective Internet speed coming from my router? John in Baltimore
  • Tech Talk Responds: Unfortunately, using two network adapters to connect your computer to your router at the same time cannot and will not double your effective Internet speed if you are only connected to the Internet itself via one Internet Service Provider (ISP). The speed at which your computer will be able to send and receive data over the Internet is limited by the maximum upload and download speeds supported by the modem and router as well as the maximum speeds available with the service plan that you are subscribed to via your ISP.
  • 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. 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. Each file in Dropbox has a unique url. You can share this url link with someone and they will have access to the file. Dropbox also have a Desktop app that syncs a local Dropbox folder with your online account. The major drawback of Dropbox is the storage limit which is set at 2GB for the free account.
  • 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.
  • You can share a file of up to 2GB in size. And you can share as many files as you want. But you will need to upload each file individually. The greatest limitation of WeTransfer is that all files are inaccessible two weeks after they are uploaded. Never use WeTransfer while working with confidential documents.

 

 

Profiles in IT: John Vincent Atanasoff

  • John Vincent Atanasoff is known as the father of the computer and the creator of the first electronic digital computer.
  • John Vincent Atanasoff was born in Hamilton, New York on October 4, 1903.
  • After John Vincent Atanasoff was born, his father accepted a position as a senior electrical engineer in Osteen, Florida and later they moved in Brewster, Florida.
  • This was the place where John Vincent completed Brewster Florida grade school and started to get first understanding of the various electricity concepts.
  • He became very interested in the mathematics behind the his father’s slide rule at 9 years, he started to study trigonometric functions and logarithms. He then moved quickly to differential equations and other fairly difficult mathematical concepts.
  • In 1919, he entered Mulberry High School, graduating in two years with straight A’s.
  • In 1921 he was accepted in the University of Florida in Gainesville. Since the university did not offer a program in theoretic physics and he majored in EE.
  • In 1925 he graduated, again with straight A’s, with a BSEE.
  • In June 1926, John graduated from the Iowa State College with MS in Mathematics.
  • After his first child was born, he moved to Madison, Wisconsin and enrolled in a doctoral program in theoretical physics. While working on this thesis, “The Dielectric Constant of Helium” he had his first experience with serious computing.
  • He was working with Monroe calculator, which was one of the best calculators at that time, but still it was slow and tedious. He felt there was a better computing solution..
  • After he received his PhD in 1930, he accepted an offer from the Iowa State College as an assistant professor in mathematics and physics.
  • He started to make various experiments with vacuum tubes and radio signals as well as various electronic devices to create an advanced computing machine.
  • Around year 1937 John was still obsessed with the computer problem he was trying to solve, but was frustrated with his progress.
  • He got into his car and started driving without destination. Two hundred miles later, he pulled onto a roadhouse. After a drink of bourbon, he began generating ideas on how to build this digital computer. He quickly applied for a grant.
  • After receiving a grant of $650 from Iowa State College in March 1939, he hired a bright electrical engineering student, Clifford E. Berry. F
  • From 1939 until 1941 they worked at developing and improving the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC), as it was later named.”
  • The ABC computer was the first electronic digital computing device. It was designed with a specific purpose, to solve systems of simultaneous up to 29 linear equations.
  • The ABC was not a general-purpose computer, meaning that it did not implemented the stored program architecture (Von Neumann architecture).
  • It still was the first to implement 3 of the most important ideas used in computers.
    • The first and probably most important was using binary digits (1’s and 0’s) to represent all the numbers in a given data.
    • The second was to perform all the calculations using electronics instead of mechanical switches and wheels.
    • And the third was using the principle from the Von Neumann architecture where the memory and the computations were separate.
  • The memory of the Atanasoff-Berry Computer was a pair of drums, each containing 1600 capacitors that rotated on a common shaft once per second.
  • “The system weighed more than seven hundred pounds and contained 289 vacuum tubes and 31 thyratrons. It was about the size of a desk.
  • Primary user input was via standard punched cards and output via a front panel display.
  • At the end of his project John Atanasoff was called on duty for the Second World War and no one from the university did a patent on the ABC.
  • However, in 1973 a US District Court ruled that the ENIAC principals were taken from the ABC and stated the Atanasoff-Berry Computer was the first in the world.
  • On November 13, 1990, John Vincent Atanasoff was awarded the National Medal of Technology by the President George H. W. Bush.
  • After a long sickness Atanasoff died on June 15 1995, in his home in Maryland.

Observations from the Bunker

  • The Harvard Negotiation Project is a project created at Harvard University, which deals with issues of negotiations and conflict resolution.
  • The mission of the Harvard Negotiation Project (HNP) is to improve the theory and practice of conflict resolution and negotiation by working on real world conflict intervention, theory building, education and training, and writing and disseminating new ideas. The project published a text titled Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In published in 1981.
  • Do not negotiate over position. It required that you understand the reason behind the positions held by each side of the conflict. Seek a win-win solution.
  • Examples: window in library, the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
  • Today we need more listening and less screaming. We need more critical thinking.
  • Critical thinking is the process of conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, or evaluating information. It is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.

Glow in the Dark Halloween Drink

  • There are two main ingredients that will help these cocktails glow: Tonic Water, and Vitamin B. Tonic Water will glow blue, and Vitamin B (specifically Thiamine) will glow yellow. Use a combination of these two ingredients, along with other ingredients for flavor to create a glow in the dark cocktail.
    • 3 Ounces Tonic Water
    • 3 Ounces Fresca
    • 2 Ounces Vodka
    • ½ Ounce Orange Juice
    • 1 Vitamin B Complex Pill (ground into powder, stir in ¼ of the powder)
  • Enjoy under Black-Light

Tip of the Week: Back Up Your Photos to Cloud

  • You probably have hundreds or even thousands of photos that can’t replace if they’re lost. Both Android and iOS let you back up your photos to the cloud for safekeeping. It’s easy, and you don’t have to install extra software to do it.
  • On an iPhone:
    • Open Settings on your device and tap your name at the top.
    • Tap iCloud, then tap Photos.
    • Turn on iCloud Photos to start saving your photos to the cloud.
    • The process may take some time to complete. Once it’s finished, any photos you take will be automatically saved to the cloud. You can also view them on your desktop by signing into iCloud.com with your Apple ID.
  • On Android:
    • Open the Google Photos app and sign in if you need to.
    • On the top right, tap your account photo or initial.
    • Select Photos settings, followed by Back up & sync.
    • Toggle Back up & sync on.
  • Once your backup is done, future photos you take will be automatically saved to the cloud. iCloud and Google Photos come with a limited amount of free storage. More will cost you 99 cents to $1.99 per month.
  • BTW, Amazon Photos offers free unlimited, full-resolution photo storage, plus 5 GB of video storage for Prime members. Just download the Amazon photos app and log into your Amazon Prime account. This works on either the iPhone or Android.

Use Zoom like a Pro

  • The Zoom video meeting and chat app has become very popular. Despite a number of privacy and security issues that arose alongside the platform’s rapid growth, it now features end-to-end encryption and other ways to protect your account. Here are a few tips.
  • Change your background — Virtually transport yourself to the beach, outer space or anywhere else you can imagine by customizing your background while on Zoom calls. Simply go to Settings > Virtual Background and select or upload the image you want from there. You need a plain background for green screen for it to work optimally.
  • Mute and unmute with the space bar — When you are called on to speak, stop scrambling to click the microphone button. You can press and hold the spacebar to quickly mute and unmute your mic, right from your keyboard.
  • Turn on the beauty filter — At this point, if you know all of the work from home advice about getting dressed and ready like it’s a regular work day, but still don’t think you’re looking your best, Zoom’s Touch Up My Appearance feature may be for you. To turn it on, click the up arrow next to Start Video. Click Video Settings, and under My Video, check the box for Touch Up My Appearance.
  • Set up a waiting room for added privacy — You’ve probably heard about Zoombombing — when uninvited guests crash your Zoom meeting and disrupt it. One way to help prevent this from happening is by enabling the Waiting Room feature, so you can see who’s attempting to join the meeting before allowing them access. To do so, go to Account Management > Account Settings. Click on Meeting, then click Waiting Room to enable the setting.
  • Create breakout rooms for smaller group discussion — Split your big Zoom meeting into up to 50 separate smaller sessions with breakout rooms. The meeting host can choose to split meeting participants into separate sessions automatically or manually, or can let participants select and enter any breakout session they like. The host can switch between sessions at any point. To start a breakout room as the host, go to Account Management > Account Settings. Under the Meeting tab, go to Breakout Room, and make sure the setting is toggled on..
  • Share your screen — Share your screen for a Zoom meeting (or to watch a movie or play a game) with other participants by clicking the Share screen icon on the toolbar at the bottom of the meeting screen. You’ll have the option to share your entire desktop, or just one of the windows you have open. Click the red Stop Share button at the top of the screen to go back to being a normal participant in the meeting.
  • Record the meeting to your computer or to the cloud– Both free and paid Zoom subscribers can record their meeting to their laptop or computer using the desktop app Recorded files can be uploaded to a file storage service such as Google Drive or Dropbox, or a video streaming service such as YouTube or Vimeo. To enable local recording, go to Settings > Recording, and toggle it on. When you’re hosting a Zoom meeting, click the Record icon on the bottom toolbar. If you have one of Zoom’s paid plans (which start at $15 a month), you can take a recording that will save directly to the cloud (or to your computer if you prefer).

Apple Added a Secret Button to Your iPhone

  • Release iOS 14, the latest version of its iPhone software, includes a feature called Back Tap.
  • Back Tap turns the entire back of your iPhone into a giant touch-sensitive button that you can double or triple tap to trigger specific functions on your phone.
  • Apple slipped the settings for Back Tap into its Accessibility menu.
  • Its intended purpose is to give users more options for interacting with their devices.
  • Most of Back Tap’s options reflect that, with settings to open the app switcher, notification menu, or control center; scroll through an app or webpage; trigger Siri; or take a screenshot.
  • You can activate it with either a double or a triple tap.
  • Just go to Accessibility Touch controls and turn on Back Tap.
  • I use the double tap to activate Siri. Very convenient when I don’t want to say Hey Siri all the time.