Show of 03-27-2021

Tech Talk March 27, 2021

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Bob in Maryland: Dear Doc, Jim, and the respondent Mr. Big Voice, As evidence that the NFT craze might be getting out of control, I present: NYC man sells fart for $85, cashing in on NFT craze. What do you think Doc? Is this a market bubble? All the best, your faithful listener, Bob in Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: A Brooklyn man is mocking and attempting to profit from non-fungible tokens (NFTs) by selling a year’s worth of fart audio clips. His NFT, “One Calendar Year of Recorded Farts,” began incubating in March 2020 when Ramírez-Mallis and four of his friends began sharing recordings of their farts on WhatsApp. It sold to $85. In another example, Jack Dorsey sold his first tweet NFT for $2.9M.
  • Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, have quickly become one of the fastest growing trends in the digital market, with sales totaling more than $250 million in 2020. NFTs may use novel technologies, but they are an attempt at answering an old dilemma: how do you create and preserve value around an object that can be infinitely reproduced?
  • NFT stands for “non-fungible token,” and is a special kind of unique digital asset (a “token”) that is recorded and stored on a blockchain (a distributed digital ledger). NFTs are unique or highly limited. This allows them to certify specific versions of digital items. By creating scarcity and a sense of authentication, produce value.
  • Over a century ago, a new technology threatened to completely change the way art was bought, sold, and even understood: photography. While a painting or sculpture is typically unique, any number of identical prints could be created from a single negative. Artists and gallerists found new ways of restoring aura by limiting photographic prints into specific editions and issuing certificates of authenticity alongside the photographs, introducing scarcity and proving originality in the same way that an NFT does. NFTs are the digital equivalent of the certificate of authenticity.
  • Email from Hac in Bowie: Dear Doc and Jim. I just read that Yahoo is deleting all the emails from inactive accounts. I want to delete my Yahoo email account because I never use it anymore, but I have thousands of important emails in my Yahoo email account. Can you tell me how to move all of those emails from Yahoo into the Gmail account I just opened? Hac in Bowie
  • Tech Talk Responds: Many are making the switch from Yahoo to Gmail these days. It is easy to import your Yahoo emails into Gmail. Here’s how:
    • Log into your Gmail account.
    • Click the Settings icon located in the top-right corner of the window (it looks like a “gear” or “cog”).
    • Click on See all settings.
    • Click on Accounts and Import near the top of the window.
    • Click the Import mail and contacts link. A dialog box should now pop up.
    • Enter the Yahoo email address (e.g. janedoe@yahoo.com) that you need to import your emails from.
    • Click the Continue button and then follow the prompts that follow.
  • You done. You can now get on with other tasks while Gmail completes the transfer in the background. Once the transfer is complete, you will see a new label in your Gmail account that contains all of your imported Yahoo messages. Once you have confirmed that all of your Yahoo emails have been imported into your Gmail account, you can safely delete your Yahoo account.
  • Email Lilly in Fairfax: Dear Doc and Jim. I took my eight-year-old HP laptop to Best Buy over the weekend to have them upgrade the RAM for me. The guy told me I shouldn’t waste my money upgrading a machine that was that old and proceeded to try to sell me a new computer. I do not want a new laptop. Do you think I could upgrade the RAM myself? Or should I just take it to a computer repair shop. Lilly in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: Most any local computer shop should be able to order the correct RAM for your laptop and install it for you. However, I think you should do it yourself.
    • Visit www.crucial.com with the laptop you wish to upgrade. Once you’re on the Crucial home page, check the box to agree to the terms and conditions and run their handy System Scanner tool.
    • At the end of the system scan you’ll be presented with the number of RAM slots in your laptop, the type of RAM it uses and a list of available RAM modules that will work with the machine.
    • At this point, you can either purchase the RAM directly from Crucial or write down the specs for the RAM you need and buy it elsewhere. Amazon is a good option.
  • After you have purchased the new RAM modules, you can easily install them in your laptop yourself as long as your particular laptop model has user-accessible RAM slots. This excellent video from Crucial will walk you through the process, step-by-step:
  • Email from Ngoc in Cleveland: Dear Tech Talk. I have to write many reports with foreign phrases that require special characters. How can I insert those special characters in my document using my Windows laptop? Ngoc in Cleveland, OH
  • Tech Talk Responds: It is not difficult to add special characters (with diacritical marks) to your Windows document. The easiest way to add diacritical marks to a document is to enable the Windows touch keyboard. The touch keyboard automatically appears if you are using a Windows tablet or if you are using a PC in tablet mode. If you do not have a touchscreen, you can use the keyboard icon that appears in the taskbar, on the right side near the date. If you do not see it, right click on the taskbar and click on Show touch key board button.
  • The touch keyboard will appear. Long press (with your mouse button or, if you have a touchscreen, your finger) on the letter you want to use. You’ll now see several extra keys showing the ways you can type that letter with different symbols. Select the one you want, and it will appear on your document. If you want to enter an emoji, click on the emoji key (on the left of the “space bar”)
  • Trevor in Philadelphia: Dear Tech Talk. I like to visit the website of various artists. I love digital art. Recently, I have noticed the tag, Support me on Ko-fi. What is Ko-fi? I have never seen it before. Is it another NFT? I am confused. Trevor in Philadelphia, PA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Ko-fi is not an NFT. Ko-fi is a platform that’s similar to Patreon in that it allows people to make donations to various users, who are typically creators. It is an easy way to fund (or even simply supplement) income and help pay the bills or fund upcoming projects. It kind of feels like a combination of Patreon, DeviantArt, and a personal blog, which makes it more casual and approachable.
  • However, Ko-fi also differs from Patreon in a few key ways. It works more as a one-time tip jar (meaning it doesn’t ask for monthly donations or subscriptions). Donations can be in virtually any amount and aren’t limited to preset tiers. Ko-fi users aren’t required to put out content on a regular basis. Ko-fi does not charge any fees! Currently, Ko-fi’s platform supports over 500,000 creators of all varieties, like writers, illustrators, developers, streamers, podcasters, artists, game designers, small businesses, and more. When it comes to famous users, Ko-fi isn’t always able to match the prestige of sites like Patreon, which caters to celebs.
  • Email from Dennis in Pittsburg: Dear Tech Talk. I hate daylight savings time. Every time the time changes, some of my atomic clocks are wrong. Some change to the correct time on their own. Others just stay the same. I don’t have way to change the time manually in a few of them. Help. What are my options? Dennis in Pittsburg, KS
  • Tech Talk: Atomic clocks automatically synchronize to a radio signal called WWVB that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) broadcasts continuously from Fort Collins, Colorado. This 60 kHz signal transmits the official time from the Atomic Clock in Boulder, Colorado. The new WWVB broadcast format provided by the NIST includes a notification for the daylight savings time transitions well ahead of when they are to occur. The clock reads this information and, at the appropriate instance, automatically adjusts to DST. However, not all clocks get the signal.
  • If that happens, place your clock in a window facing toward Fort Collin, CO. In your case, that would be west. Leave it there overnight because the signal has to bounce off the ionosphere, which only occurs at night. I have eight atomic clocks and three of them needed to be placed in the window. The others changed on their own.

Profiles in IT: John Edward Warnock

  • John Edward Warnock computer scientist best known as the co-founder of Adobe Systems and hailed as a modern–day Gutenberg,
  • Warnock was born on October 6, 1940, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • When he was in the 9th grade, he flunked 9th grade algebra. After taking an aptitude test as a sophomore, he was advised not to go to college.
  • Warnock got back on track due to a particularly influential teacher named Barton, who made math fun and exciting for his students, almost all of whom got degrees.
  • Warnock went on to attend the University of Utah, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in math and philosophy in 1961, a Master’s degree in math in 1964, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science in 1969.
  • In his 1969 doctoral thesis, Warnock invented the Warnock algorithm for hidden surface determination in computer graphics.
  • Between his Masters and PhD he worked a several jobs (retreading tires, teaching), but could make ends meet. He decided to restart and transition to computer science.
  • After completing his Ph.D., Warnock and his family relocated to Vancouver, Canada, when he got a job at Computime Canada Ltd. Computime folded in 1970.
  • In 1971, Warnock moved to Toronto and took a job with Computer Sciences Corp.
  • The family then left for Maryland when Warnock went to work at Goddard Space Flight Center in Washington, D. C.
  • In 1972, Warnock took a job, working with supercomputers as head of operating systems development, at Evans & Sutherland Corp. at the Ames Research in CA.
  • In 1976, while Warnock worked at Evans & Sutherland, he developed the underlying concepts of the PostScript language.
  • In 1978, after E&S asked him to relocate to Utah, Warnock decided instead to stay in the San Francisco Bay area and took a job at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.
  • At Xerox PARC, Warnock helped develop graphic imaging standards. Based on prior work, he developed InterPress graphics language for controlling printing.
  • Unable to convince Xerox management of the approach to commercialize the InterPress, in 1982, with Dr. Charles Geschke, he founded Adobe Systems. with $2.1M in seed money from Hambrecht & Quist.
  • The founders named the company after a creek that ran behind their homes.
  • At their new company, they developed an equivalent technology, PostScript, from scratch, and brought it to market for Apple’s LaserWriter in 1985.
  • The company went public in 1986, based on the success with Apple.
  • In the spring of 1991, Warnock outlined a system called Camelot, that evolved into the Portable Document Format (PDF) file-format.
  • In 1993 Adobe introduced their Adobe Acrobat. Acrobat, which utilized PDF to helps businesses convert print document to a digital format.
  • This was followed by PageMaker, for creating documents that are heavy on graphics.
  • In 1996 Adobe had 2,200 employees worldwide with 2M registered users.
  • By the late 1990s, Adobe Photoshop was used by 93 percent of Web developers.
  • When PageMaker 6 was released, Adobe launched Web design tool, Adobe GoLive.
  • The company’s range of products used in Web, print, and video publishing included Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe LiveMotion, Adobe Premiere, Adobe FrameMaker, and Adobe After Effects.
  • Warnock holds seven patents.
  • His hobbies include photography, skiing, Web development, painting, hiking, curation of rare scientific books and historical Native American objects.
  • Warnock has received many awards, including the Marconi Prize, the Annual Medal of Achievement Award from the American Electronics Association and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from former President Barack Obama, one of the nation’s highest honors for scientists, engineers and inventors.
  • He is a fellow of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association for Computing Machinery, the Computer History Museum and the American Philosophical Society.
  • The estimated net worth of John Warnock is at least $305M as of September 2020.
  • The impact of his contributions to desktop publishing are as revolutionary as Gutenberg’s printing press was in his day.
  • Warnock’s PDF standardized the representation of digital documents and is used daily by virtually everyone who has access to a computer.

Observations from the Bunker

  • Fixed vs Growth mindset. John Warnock is a case study.
  • Growth mindset is a term we hear a lot, but what does it actually mean?
  • Psychologist and Stanford University researcher Carol Dweck, has shared that students who have adopted a growth mindset believe that hard work, perseverance, and learning from mistakes give them the ability to learn and continually develop their knowledge and skills.
  • Students with fixed mindsets believe that learning is based on the intelligence that they already possess and that intelligence is unchangeable.
  • When the student with a fixed mindset is doing well, their belief in their intelligence is reinforced. What happens when these students struggle?
  • If doing well confirms “smartness,” then failing causes the student with a fixed mindset to question their intelligence. For this student, every low test score, every wrong answer, every time they find themselves struggling, serves as proof they have reached the limits of their mathematics potential.
  • A lot of scientific evidence suggests that the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is not the brains they were born with, but their approach to life, the messages they receive about their potential, and the opportunities they have to learn.
  • In other words, everyone is capable of learning mathematics when given the opportunity and experiences that send the message, “You can do this!”
  • How do we empower students to understand that they can get smarter by learning that their failures can be stepping stones to learning?

China Restricts Tesla Vehicles over National Security Concerns

  • China is restricting the use of Tesla’s vehicles by military staff and employees of key state-owned companies, citing concerns that the data collected by the cars could be a source of national security leaks.
  • The move follows a government security review of Tesla’s vehicles, which Chinese officials said raised concerns because the cars’ cameras can constantly record images, as well as obtain various data such as when, how and where the cars are being used.
  • The government is concerned that some data could be sent back to the U.S..
  • The move appears to be a retaliation against U.S. restrictions on the use of communications equipment made by a slate of Chinese companies including Huawei.
  • Washington has labeled Huawei a national security threat over fears it could spy for Beijing.

News of the Week: Audacity 3 is here

  • Audacity, the free audio recording software, has been updated to version 3.0.
  • Audacity was originally released in 2000. Its functionalities and features are basic, but the software has been a godsend to creatives looking to record and edit audio without going too deep into processing.
  • Version 3.0 comes nine years after the release of version 2.0 and, while it is hyped as a major update, not much has changed in design or workflow.
  • The biggest change is the introduction of the aup3 project format. Saved Audacity project files now carry the aup3 extension, promising an end to the problematic aup format. The previous format did not contain the data files for the project, meaning much of the project would be missing upon opening.
  • This new format keeps projects organized and cohesive, and also makes audio editing faster on most machines, thanks to fewer files being edited.
  • The developer has fixed over 160 bugs that were present in previous versions and has included the ability to import and export macros. The software is still available for Windows, macOS and Linux.
  • You can download Audacity for free at http://audacityteam.org.

Trivia of the Week: Webcams in the News

  • FogCam sprang to life in 1994 as a student project in the Department of Instructional Technologies at San Francisco State University.
  • Fogcam (https://www.fogcam.org/) is the oldest continuously operating webcam in the world. Wikipedia confirms we are the oldest operating webcam. You can even see FogCam on Wikipedia’s list of oldest websites.
  • Historically, the first webcam actually predated the web. The Trojan Room coffee pot cam at the University of Cambridge came online in 1991. It was retired in 2001. A Cambridge computer researcher rigged a camera so that he would not walk across the building only to find an empty coffee pot. The entire department used it. I was ported to the web in 1993.

Warning of the Week: iPhone Issued Emergency Security Update

  • On March 26th, Apple pushed out emergency updates for iOS and iPadOS to fix a zero-day flaw in WebKit, the browser-rendering engine underlying Safari and other browsers that run on Apple mobile devices.
  • The flaw lets a malicious website or web page spark “universal cross-site scripting” in WebKit. It means that hackers  can embed code in websites that can redirect you to malicious websites or even steal information, such as passwords or credit-card numbers, from your browser. It is already being used to hack iPhones and iPads.
  • Updating the device to iOS 14.4.2 and iPadOS 14.4.2 fixes the problem.
  • If you have not updated automatically, you can force a update by making sure your device is connected to the internet over a local Wi-Fi network, then going to Settings > General > Software Update and tapping Download and Install.
  • Credit for finding the flaw was given to Clément Lecigne and Billy Leonard, both researchers in Google’s Threat Analysis Group.