Tech Talk November 28, 2020
Best of Tech Talk Edition
- Segments taken from previous shows.
Email and Forum Questions
- Email from June in Burke: Dear Doc. Have not setup my fios router with two SSID 2.4 and 5.0. How do I do it? Thanks for your help. June in Burke, VA
- Tech Talk Responds: You need to log onto your routers configuration page. Go to http://192.168.1.1and enter your user name and password. If you have not changed it, the password may be written on the bottom of your router. Click on Wireless Settings. Click on Basic Security Setting and make 2.4GHz and 5GHz SSIDs different. I like to use XXX_2.4 and XXX_5.8. You can choose which band to use. Make certain to select WPA2 encryption and set the password for each band. Use the same password for convenience. I tend to stream my video with 5.8GHz band and use the other band for low bandwidth activities. The 2.4GHz band penetrates walls much better and provides whole house coverage.
- Email from John in Kansas City: Dear Doc and Jim. I just started a new blog. I am confused with the traffic statistics. What is the difference between Hits, Page Views, and Visits? Enjoy the podcast. John in Kansas City, Missouri
- Tech Talk Responds: A website receives a hit every time a single file that makes up part of a web page is accessed. For example, if a web page consists of nothing but static HTML code and nothing else, every time a visitor’s web browser visits that page it will result in a total of one hit (for the web page itself). But if the webmaster were to add five photos to that same page, all new views of that page in a browser would result in a total of six hits (one for the HTML page itself and one each for the five photos).
- A page view is just that. Every time a web page is displayed in a visitor’s browser, one new page view is recorded in the website’s stats regardless of how many photos or other files the page might contain.
- A visit is recorded every time a person accesses at least one page on a website within a given length of time (aka a session). It doesn’t matter whether the “visitor” looks at one page, ten pages or a hundred pages during a session, a single visit is recorded in the stats.
- Email from Karen in Newport News: We set up our Wi-Fi routers years ago. Our Windows 10 laptops and phones log on automatically. Unfortunately, we have forgotten the password and now need to connect another computer to the network. Do you know of any way to retrieve the Wi-Fi password from the router? I’d hate to have to go out and buy another new router if I can avoid it.
- Tech Talk Responds: There is no way to retrieve the Wi-Fi password from your router. But you do have a couple of excellent options that don’t require the purchase of a new router.
- First, you could always reset your router back to its factory default settings and then create a new Wi-Fi network with a new password.
- A faster and easier solution is to retrieve the password from your own laptop.
- Since you are running Windows 10. Just follow these instructions to retrieve the stored Wi-Fi password from your laptop:
- If it is not connected already, connect your laptop to your Wi-Fi Network.
- Launch the Control Panel.
- Click Network and Internet.
- Click on Status.
- Click on Network and Sharing Center
- Click the name of your Wi-Fi network over on the right, then click Wireless Properties in the window that pops up.
- Select the Security tab. You should now see a box containing the “Network Security Key” displayed as a series of dots. The dots represent your Wi-Fi password in hidden form.
- Check the box beside Show characters to display the password for your Wi-Fi connection.
- Enter this password on your new laptop to log into your Wi-Fi network. You might also want to write the password down at this point and keep it tucked away somewhere for later use.
- Email from Peter in Fairfax: Dear Doc and Jim. Our business has gone remote and is using Zoom for weekly staff meetings. Recently some our meeting have been interrupted by someone posting lewd pictures and making crude remarks. This is unnerving. How can be configure Zoom to some theses unwanted intrusions. Love the show. Peter in Fairfax, VA
- Tech Talk Responds: You have been a victim of Zoom Bombing. Hackers gain access to a Zoom meeting and attempt to disrupt the video chat and upset participants by shouting profanity or racial slurs, or putting disturbing or offensive images in their video feed. The vulnerability also has people wondering if Zoom is safe to use.
- The majority of Zoom bombing attacks appear not to be the product of flaws in Zoom’s code, but rather of users’ being careless. If a Zoom meeting is set to public, it can be accessed by anyone with the correct link. Bad actors can find these addresses simply by searching for “zoom.us” on social media sites like Facebook, where public meeting links are often posted.
- Most importantly, Zoom users should not share meeting links publicly. This is perhaps the single most obvious precaution you can take. Rather than posting a meeting link to a Facebook group or in a promotional tweet, distribute information via a more private method, such as email.
Second, set your meetings to “private.” Zoom now sets all new meetings to “private” by default, requiring attendees to provide a password for access. But users often opt to make meetings public for the sake of convenience. Given the wave of Zoom bombings, the inconvenience of requiring a password is probably worthwhile in keeping your meeting safe.
Profiles in IT: Rasmus Lerdor
- Rasmus Lerdorf is a Danish-Canadian programmer best known as co-author and inspiration for the PHP scripting language.
- Lerdorf was born on November 22, 1968, on Disko Island in Greenland and then moved to Denmark. Lerdorf’s family moved back to Canada from Denmark in 1980.
- His first home computer was the Timex Sinclair 1000 home computer. He used a dial-up modem and the Gopher protocol to retrieve online research papers in college.
- He graduated from King City Secondary School in 1988, and in 1993 he graduated from the University of Waterloo with a BS in Systems Design Engineering.
- It was the first Mosaic web browser in 1994 that got him going. This changed everything for him and for everybody. He was motivated to impact the web.
- He contributed to the Apache HTTP Server and he added the LIMIT clause to the mSQL DBMS. It was later adapted by several other SQL-compatible DBMS.
- In 1994, Lerdorf created the first incarnation of PHP. It was a simple set of Common Gateway Interface (CGI) binaries written in the C programming language.
- Originally used for tracking visits to his online resume, he named the suite of scripts Personal Home Page Tools, more frequently referenced as “PHP Tools.”
- Over time, Rasmus rewrote PHP Tools, producing a much larger and richer implementation. This new model was capable of database interaction and more, providing a framework upon which users could develop simple dynamic web apps.
- In June of 1995, Rasmus » released the source code for PHP Tools to the public, which allowed developers to use it as they saw fit.
- This also permitted users to provide fixes for bugs in the code, and to improve it.
- In September, 1995, Rasmus expanded upon PHP. It had Perl-like variables, automatic interpretation of form variables, and HTML embedded syntax.
- In October, 1995, Rasmus released a complete rewrite of the code, called Personal Home Page Construction Kit. The language was deliberately designed to resemble C in structure, making it an easy adoption for developers familiar with C and Perl.
- In April of 1996, Rasmus introduced PHP/FI. It included built-in support for DBM, mSQL, and Postgres95 databases, cookies, and user-defined function support.
- In 1997 and 1998, PHP had a cult of several thousand users around the world. 60,000 domains reported having headers containing PHP.
- From September 2002 to November 2009 Lerdorf was employed by Yahoo! Inc. as an Infrastructure Architecture Engineer.
- In 2010, he joined WePay in order to develop their API.
- In February 2012 he announced on Twitter that he had joined Etsy, where he remains.
- In July 2013, Rasmus joined Jelastic as a senior new technology advisor.
- Lerdorf is a frequent speaker at Open Source conferences around the world.
- He works for a living, but PHP is his passion.
Observations from the Bunker
- My latest tragedy in the Bunker
- After doing some simple weeding by the Bay, where cut down some vines growing up a tree, I returned to the house the rest.
- I did not wash my hands. I only do that after shopping at WalMart. This instance was not in the flatten the curve guidelines from Dr. Fauci.
- The next day my eyes were swollen shut with Poison Oak blisters. My iPhone face recognition did not recognize me. It one thing if your mother does not recognize you. When you cell phone does not recognize you, it is a tragedy.
- So I had a critical decision this week, very critical. Should I adjust my phone to recognize my new, but temporary face. OR should I leave well enough alone.
- I decided not to change it. And just put in my passcode for awhile.
- But now I now advice for Dr. Fauci and the Coronavirus team.
- We more guidelines for social distancing. Here are a few suggestions.
- Social distancing for poison oak and poison ivy.
- Also for sharks, tigers, lions, boa constrictors, rattle snakes
- So many social distancing norms have been left out by Dr. Fauci and team.
Cell Phones Videos have changed the World
- In 2008, Steve Jobs had an assignment for a small team of engineers in Cupertino: Make the iPhone record video.
- After seeing that people liked taking photos with the first iPhones, he wanted to add moving pictures. A year later, Apple released the iPhone 3GS, the first iPhone to record video.
- About 10 years and 10 iPhone models later, 17-year-old Darnella Frazier found herself standing on a sidewalk in Minneapolis, swiping on her purple iPhone 11 lock screen to launch the video camera as fast as possible.
- She uploaded the video of George Floyd’s murder and the rest his history. These videos have been good for humanity. They have accelerated change.
Dumb Idea of the Week: Anti-PowerPoint Party
- I have grown to hate PowerPoint presentations. They come between me and the presenter. Marthias Peohm has even stronger opinions.
- In 2011, Poehm, a former software engineer, founded the Anti-PowerPoint Party (APPP), a Swiss political party with, as you may have guessed, a distinctly anti-PowerPoint bent.
- The party was formed with the sole purpose of raising awareness about the inefficiencies of PowerPoint and other slide-show-style presentation software, how presentations lower engagement and motivation, and how they ultimately cost Switzerland (and other countries) large sums of money due to lost productivity.
- While the APPP hasn’t exactly taken over the Swiss government, it has managed to gain enough supporters to become the 8th largest political party in Switzerland, as measured by votes in the 2015 election.
This is a rather strong indicator of just how little people like sitting through yet another PowerPoint presentation.
DHS Fears Face Masks will Hinder Facial Recognition
- The US Department of Homeland Security has raised concerns internally that facemasks meant to protect against the spread of COVID-19 may interfere with facial recognition technology,
- It also appears worried about the use of face masks to evade law enforcement even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
- The agency suggests in the memo that protesters would use masks to avoid detection by facial recognition programs, while acknowledging it had “no specific information that violent extremists or other criminals in the United States are using protective face coverings to conduct attacks.”
- The latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people wear cloth face coverings in public. Such face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others..
- Meanwhile, cities and states across the US have started reining in the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement and other entities. Boston banned the use of the technology in the city last month, following bans in Oakland and San Francisco that prohibit its use by city agencies.
- The American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan filed an administrative complaint against the Detroit police department over the January wrongful arrest of a man misidentified by facial recognition.
A bill introduced by Democrats in the House late last month would prohibit the use of facial recognition technology until there’s a law that explicitly permits it.
Food Science: Frozen Turkey
- Peter Snyder, Jr., Ph.D. has a new way to roast your Thanksgiving turkey: put it in the oven frozen solid.
- Snyder is the president of the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management in St. Paul , Minnesota.
- A common problem on Thanksgiving is waking up on Thanksgiving morning and realizing that the turkey has not been thawed, and there is not enough time to thaw the turkey in the refrigerator or in flowing water at 70 degrees F, which takes hours.
- However, there is a very simple solution – cook the entire turkey from the frozen state.
- The FDA Food Code allows this. The HACCP-based procedure for cooking a 12-to-13-lb. frozen turkey is shown below.
- Start 5 to 5 1/2 hours before you want to serve the cooked turkey. Set the oven temperature at 325 degrees It is much better that the turkey be done 30 minutes before mealtime than to rush and serve an undercooked turkey.
- Remove the wrapping from the turkey and put the turkey on a rack on a pan that has been covered with foil to make cleaning easy.
- In the first 2 to 2 1/2 hours, the legs and thighs get up to approximately 100 degrees The breast, about 1 inch into the flesh, is still at the soft ice point, about 25 degrees F. At this point, begin to monitor breast temperature.
- After about 3 1/2 hours, the legs and thighs will be around 150 to 160 degrees F, and the breast, about 40 to 50 degrees The bag of heart, liver, etc. and the neck can be removed.
- At 4 1/2 to 5 hours, the turkey is nicely cooked. Check the temperature. The leg and thigh should be tender and at a temperature of 175 to 185 degrees F, while the breast will be moist at a temperature of 160 to 170 degrees
- Cooking a turkey from the frozen state has benefits over cooking a thawed turkey.
- If one thaws a turkey in a home refrigerator, there is a significant risk of raw juice with pathogens at high levels getting on refrigerator surfaces, other foods in the refrigerator, countertops, and sink, thus creating a hazard and a need for extensive cleaning and sanitizing.
- The second benefit is that, because the breast has greater mass, it takes longer to thaw. Therefore, the thigh and leg are well cooked and tender, while the breast is not overcooked and dried out. The breast will cook to a juicy 160-to-165 degrees F endpoint without difficulty.
Idea of the Week: Generating Power from the Night Sky
- A new device can harvest energy from the cold night sky.
- By harnessing the temperature difference between Earth and outer space, a prototype of the device produced enough electricity at night to power a small LED light.
- A bigger version of this nighttime generator could someday light rooms, charge phones or power other electronics in remote or low-resource areas that lack electricity at night when solar panels don’t work.
- The core of the new night-light is a thermoelectric generator, which produces electricity when one side of the generator is cooler than the other.
- The sky-facing side of the generator is attached to an aluminum plate sealed beneath a transparent cover and surrounded with insulation to keep heat out. This plate stays cooler than the ambient air by shedding any heat it absorbs as infrared radiation.
- Meanwhile, the bottom of the generator is attached to an exposed aluminum plate that is continually warmed by ambient air.
- At night, when not baking under the sun, the top plate can get a couple of degrees Celsius cooler than the bottom of the generator.
- Engineer Wei Li of Stanford University and colleagues tested a 20-centimeter prototype of the device on a clear December night in Stanford, Calif.
- The generator produced up to about 25 milliwatts of power per square meter of device, enough to light a small light-emitting diode, or LED bulb.
- The team estimates that further design improvements, like better insulation around the cool top plate, could boost production up to at least 0.5 watts per square meter.
- A typical lamp bulb might consume a few watts of electricity. So a device that took up a few square meters of roof space could light up a room from the night sky.
App of the Week: Apple VoiceOver
- In 1993, Scott Leason was a U.S. Navy veteran who had seven years of service as a visual communications expert. Unfortunately, that was also the year that he lost his vision in both eyes when he was shot at during a robbery attempt.
- Twenty-five years later, Leason has his iPhone XR and iOS’ VoiceOver feature to help him out in his everyday life, which includes regular surfing sessions in the San Diego area.
- VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader that lets you enjoy using iPhone even if you don’t see the screen. With VoiceOver enabled, just triple-click the Home button to access it wherever you are in iOS. Hear a description of everything happening on your screen, from battery level to who’s calling to which app your finger is on. You can also adjust the speaking rate and pitch to suit you.
- Because VoiceOver is integrated in iOS, it works with all the built-in iPhone apps. You can create custom labels for buttons in any app — including third-party apps. And Apple works with the iOS developer community to make even more apps compatible with VoiceOver.
- With the help of his new iPhone XR, Leason is now able to get ready for a day of surfing by checking the latest reports on the Surfline app. He also uses an Apple Watch Series 4 to monitor the progress of his surfing workouts and to find out how many calories he has burned.
- According to Paul Lang, instructional coordinator at San Diego’s Mission Bay Aquatic Center, Leason’s ability to use the iPhone and VoiceOver to assist him in his daily tasks has been quite impressive.
The World’s Longest Running Webcam Almost Went Offline
- FogCam, the world’s longest running webcam, will be shut down its creators, Jeff Schwartz and Dan Wong, announced on Twitter:
- FogCam has been in “near-continuous operation” for the past 25 years, having been temporarily offline when it had to be moved around San Francisco State University’s campus.
- Originally, the duo came up with the idea to set up a livestream while they were taking computer science classes and learning the process of scripting. Schwartz also ran another webcam from his apartment that streamed his cats, Petunia and Web, so he could keep an eye on them while he attended classes.
- Schwartz and Wong’s “little pet project” grew quickly and came to be loved by viewers, many of whom shared their disappointment:
- Alas, Wong and Schwartz seem firm in their decision to shut the camera down but will leave the FogCam website up “for the sake of posterity.”
- Update from the website: San Francisco State University can confirm it has agreed to continue maintaining the FogCam, which prevents shutdown of the service.
- San Francisco State University has supported operation of the FogCam since its inception in 1994, a major technology milestone at the time. The University looks forward to continuing the webcam’s legacy.
- Link to Website: https://www.fogcam.org/