Show of 11-07-2020

Tech Talk November 7, 2020

Email and Forum Questions

 

  • Email from Lily in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I’ve recently been taking a lot of digital photos. Is there a way to rename all the files in a certain folder to a common base name? My camera always names the pictures with the same base filename but just changes the numbers on the end. Is there an easy way to do that in Windows 10 without having to change all the filenames individually, one by one? Love the podcast. Lily in Fairfax. VA

 

    • Tech Talk Responds: There are actually several ways to rename files in bulk in Windows 10, but they are difficult to use and the results are less than great. When I need to rename several files at the same time I use a fantastic free tool called Bulk Rename Utility. Bulk Rename Utility makes it easy to change the filename of every file in a folder without having to go back and manually remove parentheses or other extraneous characters that Windows typically adds when files are renamed in bulk. You can download Bulk Rename Utility for free at OlderGeeks. Here is the link: https://www.oldergeeks.com/downloads/file.php?id=3086

 

  • Email from Michael in St. Louis: Dear Doc and Jim. I just got a new iPhone and still many old chargers laying around the house. Does it matter which charger I use for my new phone? I can really tell what the specs are. Micheal in St. Louis, MO

 

    • Tech Talk Responds: The most common spec you’ll see on a charger is the watts (W).
    • How quickly your phone goes from zero to a hundred in terms of battery life depends on both the watts coming from the charger and the maximum number of watts your phone can take. For instance, the new iPhone 12, for example, can handle up to 20 W.
    • If you want the fastest battery charge possible for your phone, you need the charger that supplies as many watts as your phone can handle at once. So if you buy the official 20-W charger from Apple, it’s going to charge your iPhone 12 about four times faster than the official 5-W charger from Apple. Most of the time—but not always—the charger that came bundled with your phone will fit the bill.
    • When it comes to “fast charging,” this is a technology that different manufacturers adopt in different ways, and the standards usually don’t cross over between brands. The latest OnePlus 8T, for example, supports 65-W fast charging—it basically splits the battery up into two internally and charges both halves simultaneously. Each brand has a different standard, and they are not interchangeable at this time.

 

  • Email from Doug in Pittsburg: Dear Doc and Jim. During the pandemic, I frequently have to sign documents at home and send a PDF of the document back to the office. Unfortunately, I only have a printer, not a printer/scanner. Is there any way that I can scan a document to a PDF with my cell phone. I would hate to buy another printer. Doug in Pittsburg, Kansas

 

    • Tech Talk Responds: The are a couple of free apps that work really well. The first is Adobe Scan. You can easily scan a multiple page document and save it to the cloud as a PDF with this application. You can just share the link with the person who needs the document. The second app is called CamScanner.  As is typical for apps of this type, a premium version of CamScanner is available but the free version works well for me. Both apps are easy to use. Best of luck with your document signing.

 

  • Email from Tom Schum: Dear Doc, Jim, Mister Big Voice, and Hal 9000. Until I heard your story about soldering house wiring, I thought I was the only one who had ever done this! I did mine while wiring my brother-in-law’s house in the 1980s.  There have been no problems so far as I know. The problem with soldering house wiring is that the PVC insulation on Romex melts very easily.  Then there is your nearly red-hot high-wattage soldering iron that will burn the house down if you are not careful.  After soldering, I put Silicone seal on each connection and capped it with a wire nut. 
  • I am building a radio from scratch, but it is impossible to find the little tiny RF coils and transformers that were used in most all radios from 1920-1980! I am back to making the resonators the way they were done in the 1920s: air core coils wound with magnet wire, and shielded with large metal cans. I will end up with a radio the same size as those consoles from the 1920s, except with transistors instead of tubes.  It is interesting to deal with the challenges. Tom Schum

 

    • Tech Talk Responds: I loved wiring that kitchen and soldering the connections. However, I did not go the extra mile with silicone seal. That is overkill. It must be fun assembling that vintage radio. I found quite a few sellers of vintage radio coils on eBay. You can get an assortment for under $10. There is quite a market for these old components.

 

  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz. Whenever I see something to do with physics, I think of you. Here is another one. I have never heard of computational physics. Over my head, but you may be able to get something out of this article. Arnie in Colorado Springs, CO.

 

    • Tech Talk Responds: This article is a simple calculation of the oscillation of the spring and weight using Newton’s Laws of Motion. He was making the point that understanding computation is important because there are so many applications of this simple model. Understanding the math is as important as computing final answer. It was a nice tutorial. Link to article: https://www.wired.com/story/formulas-or-code-its-all-numbers-when-it-comes-to-physics/

 

  • Email from Bob in Maryland: Dear Doc, Jim, and the effusive Mr. Big Voice.  While doing my lockdown internet surfing, I came across this interesting article: Spooky similarity in how brains and computers see. Natural and artificial intelligence networks process 3D fragments of visual images in same way. AI systems do things completely differently than a human would do. And here is a possible example where the human system, created by natural selection applied to the trial and error process, seems to be mimicked by the AI system. I Love Stratford University Tech Talk, All the best, Your faithful listener, Bob in Maryland

 

    • Tech Talk Responds: The article shows that an artificial neural network, called AlexNet, performs , early detection of 3D shape presumably aids interpretation of solid, 3D objects in the real world, in a way that was similar to area V4, the first stage specific to the brain’s object vision pathway. Deep (multilayer) networks like AlexNet have achieved major gains in object recognition, based on high capacity Graphical Processing Units (GPU) and massive training sets. They found “spooky correspondence” between the brain — a product of evolution and lifetime learning — and AlexNet — designed by computer scientists and trained to label object photographs?
    • This is not too surprising. Nature when confronted with constrains develops optimized solutions. Nearly every invention by man has found it place with evolved nature: quarter wave filters, self-focusing optics, correctly lens triplets. I used the study of nature (mollusks and frogs) to develop optical systems for satellites long ago.

 

  • Email from Karen in Richmond: Dear Tech Talk. I recently go a DNA test from 23 and Me. The results are interesting, but now I am worried about my privacy since my DNA signature is public knowledge and can be used by law enforcement. Is there any way to remove this data from the site. Love the show. Karen in Richmond, VA

 

  • Tech Talk Responds: AncestryDNA, MyHeritage and 23andMe are all trying to lure as many people to use their service as possible. However, there are very real and serious risks involved with allowing any commercial company to store your genetic information in their database. Maybe an insurance provider will reject your policy because of a flawed DNA result.
  • If you’ve had your DNA tested by one of the “Big Three” testing services, you can opt to delete your genetic information from their database. I strongly recommend that you do so! Just log into our account and check your account settings and select the option to delete your data from their database. Best of luck.
  • BTW, I did a DNA with the Human Genographic project of National Geographic. This was completely anonymous. I simply used that number to look up my results. This test trace my ancestry using permutation in the Y Chromosome for male lineage and permutation in the Mitocondria DNA for female lineage. My ancestors left Africa 70 thousand years ago. They migrated to Europe about 30 thousand years ago.
  • The Genographic Project was launched in 2005 with a goal of revealing patterns of human migration. Nearly 1 million people have participated in The Genographic Project through National Geographic’s “Geno” DNA Ancestry kits. The public participation phase of this research project has ended and National Geographic has discontinued the Geno website.

Profiles in IT: Ajay V. Bhatt

  • Ajay V. Bhatt has developed of technologies such as USB, Accelerated Graphics Port, PCI Express, platform power management and is best known as one of Intel’s Rock Stars.
  • Ajay Bhatt was born in India in 1957.
  • Growing up as the only technically-minded child in a family of liberal-arts professionals, Bhatt had long been the go-to person to fix radios, televisions and circuit breakers.
  • In 1980, he received a BSEE from Maharaja Sayajirao University.
  • His interest in electronics led him to leave his India to study at City University in New York, where he helped develop video technology used aboard the Columbia Space Shuttle.
  • In 1984, he received an MSEE from The City University of New York.
  • In 1984, he was hired as a Principal Engineer by Wang Laboratories. Lead system architecture definition of the Motorola 680X0 based Workstation product line.
  • In 1990, he was hired by Intel as a Senior Staff Architect. Ajay lead a team of engineers in defining architecture for the Energy Star compliant Green Desktops. He was a key technical contributor to ISA Plug and Play (PnP) architecture.
  • In 1991, Ajay Bhatt’s wife wanted to print some letters for his daughter’s school project. His wife tried several ways but nothing worked and she couldn’t print the letters by herself. While helping his wife, Ajay V. Bhatt was confronted with an all-too-common frustration: connecting new peripheral devices.
  • He felt there was a better way. He began searching for a solution
  • In July 1992, was became Chief Architect for USB Development. In 1993, he conceived of a platform with ubiquitous and easy to use Universal Serial Bus Port.
  • For inspiration, Bhatt turned to the common electrical wall outlet. Would it be possible to design a system that worked in a similar way and allowed users to simply plug devices into their computer and have them work automatically?
  • The original name, ‘hierarchical serial bus assembly’, was changed to Universal Serial Bus (USB) to reflect the universal way it connected with computer devices.
  • When a USB-enabled peripheral device is attached to a computer, it is assigned a number called an ‘address’ by the USB hub, the translator which sends information back and forth between devices and the computer’s main circuit board.
  • The USB hub also determines which kind of device has been plugged in and what type of data-transfer connections (called stream pipes) this device should share with the computer.
  • The USB hub cycles through each of the devices each second and sends packages of information back and forth on the stream pipes.
  • He led a cross company (Compaq, IBM, Nortel, Microsoft, Intel, NEC, DEC) definition team and delivered an open USB 1.0 industry spec in 1995.
  • In July 1996, he became Senior Principal Engineer at Intel. He was Lead Architect & co-director of the Platform Ingredients Architecture & Planning (PIAP) organization.
  • In January 2001, he became Chief I/O Architect and Intel Fellow. As the PCI Express lead architect, Ajay was instrumental in developing and driving the Rev 1.1, 2.0 & 3.0 specifications through the SIG.
  • He continues to be the primary technical lead and spokesperson for PCI Express within Intel.
  • In June 2008, he became Chief Architect & Intel Fellow, Client Computing Group. Ajay leads definition and development of the next-generation Client Platform architecture. He is primarily focused on the novel advances in platform hardware and software by working with key internal and external technology partners to develop the future Client Platform Architectures and Technologies.
  • In 2009, Ajay Bhatt rose to global celebrity as the co-inventor of USB through an Intel 2009 TV advertisement, where he was portrayed as a technology rock star.
  • On October 9, 2009, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien did a comedy sketch featuring him that parodied Intel’s “Rockstar” commercials.
  • In July 2010, Ajay Bhatt was featured in July 2010 issue of GQ India, as one of “The 50 Most Influential Global Indians!”
  • In 2012 he was given The Light of India Award for his contributions in advancement of science and technology.
  • In 2013, he received the EU Inventor award 2013 for his work on USB
  • Ajay currently hold 70 US and international patents with several pending.

Observations from the Bunker

    • Satya Nadella, well known for leading a major turnaround at Microsoft. Nadella explained how his company was able to repair a broken organizational culture, while simultaneously skyrocketing the company’s share price. Here is advice.

 

  • Don’t be a “know-it-all.” Be a “learn-it-all.”

 

      • Nadella highlights a lesson he learned from Stanford child psychologist Carol Dweck: We needed to become what I describe as ‘learn-it-alls,’ versus ‘know-it-alls.
      • If you consider yourself to be an expert, you stop learning because you know it all.
      • When you pursue a mindset of growth, you continue seeking to learn. You’re not afraid to try new things or even to make mistakes–because these are all learning opportunities.

 

  • Bring clarity. Not confusion.

 

      • When your team comes in for a meeting, do they all know the purpose of that meeting? Or do they leave still wondering why we met in the first place?
      • When you assign roles on a project, does each team member understand the scope of their individual role? Or are they surprised or do they even fail to deliver on expectations?
      • When running into obstacles, can the team come to agreement on which problems need to be solved and in which order? Or do the same problems hinder progress again and again?

 

  • Create energy.

 

      • Of course, energy is more than just surface enthusiasm. True energy is about “bringing all the people together across functions.” This is leadership at its best, the type that unites a team and creates chemistry.
      • A team with less talent that has chemistry can achieve great things. In the words of Aristotle, they become a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

 

  • 4. No excuses.

 

    • Nadella emphasizes the need for leaders to find a way to manage constraints in a way to achieve their goals. Leaders don’t wait for perfect weather to perform. The world is constrained … and leaders figure out how to unconstrain ourselves to drive success.
  • True leaders measure success first by looking in the mirror as to how well they are doing these things, instead of placing blame on their teams.

Police Used Facial Recognition System to Identify Protestor

  • This past June, one protestor punched an officer in the face before fleeing.
  • According to court documents, police found the protestor by mining cellphone footage from the protest posted on Twitter.
  • Michael Joseph Peterson Jr. was identified after the Twitter footage was fed through the National Capital Region Facial Recognition Investigative Leads System (NCRFRILS),  a pilot program of the suburban Maryland nonprofit Metropolitan Washington Council of Government.
  • Philadelphia police allegedly turning to this software to track down protestors accused of vandalizing police cars; police in New York confirmed roughly a week later that they, too, used similar software to find a protestor who allegedly shouted into an officer’s ear with a bullhorn.
  • The software is not used to surveil peaceful protests. According to Quinn, the 1.4 million images that make up the NCRFRILS database are derived from mugshots supplied from partnering agencies.
  • The facial recognition has been used over 12,000 times since 2019 and has generated around 2,600 leads.

ISS Astronauts Vote from Space

  • NASA built a voting booth on the International Space Station. Voting data is sent securely from ISS to NASA.
  • Astronauts retain their right to vote even when they are cruising in a space station far above the Earth. This has been the case since a bill was passed back in 1997, allowing astronaut David Wolf to become the first American to cast a vote from space.
  • After filling out their ballots, the data is then encrypted and uploaded to the ISS’s computer. From there, the ISS transmits the encrypted votes using NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellites system (TDRS).
  • The TDRS then shuttles the data to the White Sands Complex in New Mexico. The data’s travel doesn’t stop there, with White Sands’ TDRS ground terminal passing the data on to the Johnson Space Center in Texas.
  • Finally, the Johnson Space Center passes the data along electronically to each astronaut’s county clerks to be properly filed as a vote.

Chinese Control of Companies is Real

  • The suspension of Ant Group’s planned IPO scheduled for Thursday is a reminder of how much China’s government dictates the life of Chinese companies.
  • The much-anticipated offering was put off after the government warned Ant chairman Jack Ma that his company would face new rules that would restrict its growth.
  • The offering would have raised $37 billion for Ant, making it the largest in IPO history, valuing Ant at more than $300 billion.
  • But the significance of the offering was broader. It appeared to signal a recognition by Chinese tech giants that going public at home, rather than in the U.S. as many have long preferred, is a viable option.
  • That could have paved the way for large companies like ByteDance or Didi to follow suit.
  • Trade tensions between the U.S. and China are a major factor hanging over Chinese companies’ consideration of U.S. listings.
  • Most Chinese companies still prefer the US markets. This latest episode may only reinforce that attitude.

Happy Birthday Android

  • On November 5th, 2007, the “Open Handset Alliance” was revealed after long speculation that Google would enter the smartphone market, following the purchase of a little startup named “Android.”
  • Rumors had swirled surrounding a potential “Gphone,” but Google quashed them as it announced that Android would be an open platform for anyone. Companies including Motorola, Qualcomm, HTC, and T-Mobile were all on board to help deliver the hardware and partnerships the nascent platform would require.
  • Google promised that Android would change the status quo, and it definitely delivered, with it now claiming over 72% of the worldwide smartphone market share.
  • It’s the primary vehicle that has allowed billions of people to get online in emerging markets.

Coronavirus Update: Mink Permutation

    • Denmark plans to cull its entire population of roughly 15 million minks in farms after the animals spread a mutation of the coronavirus to humans.
    • The mutated virus could spread to other countries and it “may pose a risk to the effectiveness of a future vaccine.”
    • The mutated virus was found in a dozen people who got infected by minks. Half of the 783 human Covid-19 cases in northern Denmark are related to mink.
    • There are between 15 million and 17 million minks in Denmark, one of the world’s main mink fur exporters.

 

  • According to government estimates, culling the country’s mink population could cost up to $785 million.

 

Ransomware Threatens US Healthcare System

  • On October 28, 2020, the FBI and other federal agencies warned that cybercriminals are unleashing ransomware attacks against the U.S. healthcare system that could lock up their information systems.
  • In a joint alert Wednesday, the FBI and two federal agencies warned that they had “credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers.”
  • Independent security experts say it has already affected at least five U.S. hospitals this week, and could potentially impact hundreds more.
  • The offensive by a Russian-speaking criminal gang coincides with the U.S. presidential election, although there is no immediate indication they were motivated by anything but profit.
  • The cybercriminals launching the attacks use a strain of ransomware known as Ryuk, which is seeded through a network of zombie computers called Trickbot that Microsoft began trying to counter earlier in October.
  • U.S. Cyber Command has also reportedly taken action against Trickbot. While Microsoft has had considerable success knocking its command-and-control servers offline through legal action, analysts say criminals have still been finding ways to spread Ryuk.
  • The group was demanding ransoms well above $10 million per target and that criminals involved on the dark web were discussing plans to try to infect more than 400 hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities.
  • A total of 59 U.S. healthcare providers/systems have been impacted by ransomware in 2020, disrupting patient care at up to 510 facilities.
  • Protecting against ransomware attacks: keep security patches updated, use factor authentication for any remote access portal, backup every day and keep selected backup data off line, train employees to refrain from clicking on every link in an email.