Show of 04-17-2021

Tech Talk April 17, 2021

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Ken Hutchinson: Thank you very much for the fascinating and inspiring profile of Katalin Karikó. I had not heard of her before, but I should have, considering her fantastic accomplishments.  Her amazing brilliance, persistence, and ultimate monumental success in the face of repeated rejection by ignorant, malevolent bosses (as well as the lack of compensation for her work) are beyond impressive.  I hope she receives a Nobel Prize, and I hope that the men who doubted her and rejected her get the disdain and disrespect they deserve. Kenneth Hutchison
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the kind words. I like to feature hidden figures in all areas of technology. Research is a team sport, with many contributors, many of whom do not get due credit or compensation.
  • Email from Bob in Maryland: Dear Doc, Jim, and the soothing Mr. BigVoice. It appears there is a growing backlash to Google’s FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), a controversial alternative identifier to third-party cookies for tracking users across websites. The Chromium-based Vivaldi browser has removed FLoC. The search engine DuckDuckGo last week released a Chrome extension to block FLoC tracking. I thought FLoC was supposed to still allow advertisers and Google to present ads to a customer, while disguising their individual identities. What has gone wrong here, Doc? All the best, your faithful listener, Bob in Maryland.
  • Tech Talk Responds: As you would expect, FLoCs actually give Google a key advantage and allow them to make more money on advertising. FLoCs place customers into groups for targeting. That is good on the surface. However, because of Google’s other tracking methods across all platforms, they still know the exact identity of each person. Therefore, if an advertiser wants to target clients specifically, they must use Google’s platform or else they must use their own database. In Stratford’s case, that is exactly what we do. If someone visit our site and interacts, we track it and follow up with after action marketing. We can do this without using the Google infrastructure.
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz. This regards your 4/10/21 Tech Talk program re FB hack, when one goes into to site to check it, how do you know that’s not a hacked site too? Below is from the site to check phone number, but is it legitimate site itself? Thanks, Arnie in Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: That is a good point, Arnie. There has been some discussion on the Hacker forum regarding this website. The consensus seem to be that it is not a risk. If the site were asking you to enter your username and password to check if it’s on a pwned list, well, yes, that would be a dumb thing to do. But a telephone number is telling the website operator at most that the phone might be associated with you, but all he learns about you is your IP address and possibly your browser fingerprint. He doesn’t get your name, Facebook ID, email address, interests, password, or anything else. Now you might say that he can see your Facebook ID or email address in the list of leaked data, and possibly through the Facebook password reset user interface as well. But he could have done that anyway without you ever having supplied the phone number. He has the entire leaked list and it seems that pretty much anyone can get the leaked list with modest effort. Associating the phone number with your name is bad, I agree. That allows targeted attacks (and targeted spam calls). But you are not giving your name to this website operator.
  • Email from Alex in Richmond: Dear Tech Talk. I have a desktop computer I hired a person to build for me about 3 years ago. It has Windows 10 on it. It has 4 GB of RAM in it right now and I would really like to max it out to (hopefully) speed things up a bit. How can I find out how much memory this computer can use since it does not really have a brand/model to look up? I also need to find out what kind of memory I need to buy. I tried asking the person that built the machine but I cannot get in touch with him. Alex in Richmond, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: The easiest way is to visit Crucial.com and use their free System Scanner utility. In addition to telling you the max amount of RAM your motherboard can handle, it will also tell you what type of RAM you need to buy, how many RAM sticks are already installed and if there are any empty memory slots. At that point you can simply buy your RAM directly from or write down the specs for the RAM you need and buy it someplace else like Amazon. By the way, if you really want to speed things up I strongly recommend that you consider installing a blazing-fast SSD as the boot drive.
  • Email from Alan in Waldorf: Dear Doc and Jim. I work for an employer who is very security conscious. I must lock my Windows 10 computer every time I leave the desk, even if it just for getting a quick cup of coffee. Sometimes I forget when I am rushed. I do not want to get into trouble. Is there any way to automatically lock my computer when I leave my desk? Alan in Waldorf, MD.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Windows 10 has a feature called Dynamic Lock that will automatically lock your PC every time you get up and leave the room. Dynamic Lock works by pairing your mobile phone with your Windows 10 PC via Bluetooth (which obviously means your PC must have Bluetooth capability for it to work). Once this feature is enabled your computer will go into Locked mode every time it senses that your mobile phone is no longer in the immediate area. That means as long as you take your phone with you when you leave you’ll never have to worry about accidentally forgetting to lock your computer again.
    • First, you will need to turn on Bluetooth on both your phone and your PC.
    • Next, you will need to pair your phone with the PC by following the steps below.
    • Launch the Settings app and select the Bluetooth setting.
    • Make sure your PC is listed as a nearby Bluetooth device. If it is not, double-check to make sure you have Bluetooth enabled on both the PC and the phone.
  • Now you’re ready to use your PC to pair the two devices via Bluetooth:
    • Press the Start button and then type the word Bluetooth.
    • Select Bluetooth and other devices from the list of search results.
    • Click Add Bluetooth or other device.
    • Once it appears in the list, click on your mobile phone, then click Next.
    • Compare the Passcode that is displayed on the computer screen with the one that is displayed on the phone. If they match, click Yes on the PC and then click Pair on the phone.
  • And finally, follow these steps to enable Dynamic Lock on the PC:
    • Click the Start button.
    • Click the Settings icon (it looks like a “gear” or “cog”).
    • Click Accounts.
    • Click Sign-in options.
    • Check the box beside Allow Windows to automatically lock your device when you are away.
  • Now that Dynamic Lock is enabled, your PC should automatically go into Locked mode every time you leave the immediate area with your phone!
  • Email from John in Fairfax: Dear Doc and Jim. Some friends have told me to stop using Windows 7 now that Microsoft has stopped updating it because it’s no longer safe. Others are saying it’s perfectly fine to keep using it as long as the computer has an antivirus on it. My HP laptop is old but it still works fine even though it has Windows 7 on it. I really hate the thought of having to replace it, but I will if it is unsafe to use. John in Fairfax, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: My short answer is that it is not safe to use Windows 7. But it depends on what you use it for. If you use your laptop for all the normal everyday things that most people use their computers for (banking, bill paying, online shopping, social media, etc.), then the answer is definitely no.
  • Malware is only one of several dangerous threats facing every computer that’s connected to the Internet. Hackers also seek out and exploit security flaws in a computer’s operating system itself. It is only a matter of time before the next serious one is discovered and exploited by the bad guys.
  • What’s more, even if someone were to come up with a security app that was indeed perfect and fully capable of detecting and stopping every malware, it still would not prevent a hacker from exploiting a serious security flaw in the operating system.


 

Profiles in IT: Hatim Zaghloul

  • Hatim Zaghloul, an Egyptian scientist best known for his development of signal processing techniques that form the basis of WiFi and CDMA standards.
  • He was born on February 7, 1957 in the Giza, Egypt.
  • Growing up, Zaghloul has always displayed interest in science and math.
  • In 1979, he graduated with a dual-degree in electronic engineering from Cairo University and a degree in applied math from Ain Shams University.
  • He served in the Egyptian Armed Forces during 1980.
  • He worked for Schlumberger Wireline Services as an oil well logging engineer from 1981 to 1983.
  • In 1983, he migrated to Canada and obtained his MS. in Physics from the University of Calgary in 1985.
  • He was a Teaching Assistant at the University of Calgary from 1984 to 1989.
  • In 1989, he was hired as a senior researcher at Telus Corporation, a Canadian telecommunications company.
  • He and Michel Fattouche, another fellow Egyptian scientist, developed signal processing techniques used for both 2G and 3G cell phone communication.
  • To improve the speed, they developed Wideband Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (WOFDM), which would later become the foundation for Wi-Fi, and Multi-code Direct-sequence Spread Spectrum(MCDSSS), which would be become central to the CDMA mobile phone standard.
  • He obtained a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Calgary in 1994.
  • In 1992, after patenting their methods, Hatim Zaghloul and Michel Fattouche co-founded WiLAN to market WOFDM and MCDSS.
  • However, leading tech companies like Apple, Siemens, and Cisco. Key players failed to honor their patents.
  • After filing a many lawsuits against those who breached their patent, Wi-LAN ultimately reached settlement with almost everyone in the industry by 2011 where they received $700 million.
  • Through WiLAN’s efforts, the FCC approved WOFDM technology over the 2.4 GHz unlicensed ISM band for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 standards.
  • In the end, the signal processing techniques developed by Hatim Zaghloul and WiLAN contributed to the invention of WiFi, 3G and 4G technology.
  • In 1997, Dr. Hatim Zaghloul learned that Hedy Lamarr was never compensated for her invention of frequency hopping spread spectrum.
  • He contacted Hedy Lamarr and signed an agreement giving Wi-LAN Inc. 49% rights to her patent for marketing purposes at an undisclosed sum.
  • He worked with Hedy till her death in 2000 to promote the patent and establish its value.
  • Based on his collaboration with Dr. Fattouche on Super-Resolution, Dr. Zaghloul also co-founded Cell-Loc Inc. in 1995, the developer of a family of network-based wireless location products that enable location-sensitive services of people and assets using a small portable device. He was the CEO of Cell-Loc Inc. from 1995 to 1997.
  • In 2016, he co-founded Inovatian Inc., in Giza, Egypt, as a research and development company specializing in telecommunications and electromagnetics.
  • Inovatian developed a mesh network, named InoMesh, in which WiFi routers also act as nodes relaying connectivity to other routers within the network to provide low cost Internet access to developing countries.
  • Each town will their own “mesh islands” controlled by an Inovatian blockchain computer, which acts as the central office from which town residents can connect through InoMesh. The blockchain computer connects to the global internet via a V-SAT terminal, which can cost as little as $300.
  • In 200, he received Fraser Milner Casgrain Pinnacle Award for his entrepreneurial achievements.
  • Zaghloul was a finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for two years: 1997-1998.
  • He was presented with the Hall of Fame Award from Broadband Solutions on April 10, 2000, for his contribution to the communications technology industry.

Observations from the Bunker

  • Student learn, teachers do not teach. Sugata Mitra, educator from India.
  • Education scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education — the best teachers and schools don’t exist where they’re needed most.
  • In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching.
  • His wish is to help design the future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their innate sense of wonder.
  • Sugata Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” experiments have shown that, in the absence of supervision and formal teaching, children can teach themselves and each other — if they are motivated by curiosity.
  • Sugata Mitra challenges teachers to become the ultimate facilitators of learning and to reimagine our classrooms as spaces for discovery where students are given the tools to succeed as we stand back and “watch the learning happen.”

Trivia of the Week: Which city has the first Municipal WiFi System?

  • In the early 2000s major cities around the world were dropping press releases filled with their plans to build free and far-reaching municipal Wi-Fi networks to serve all their citizens.
  • Jerusalem beat everyone to the punch in 2004 with the launch of the world’s first city-wide Wi-Fi network.
  • Trailing Jerusalem by just a few months, Mysore became India’s first Wi-Fi enabled city.
  • Sunnyvale, California became the first Wi-Fi enabled city in the United States. Since then dozens of cities around the world have set up municipal Wi-Fi systems including Singapore, Luxembourg, Paris, Venice, Toronto, Denver, Houston, and Philadelphia.
  • sensitive jobs.

App of the Week: FCC Speed Test

  • The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) hopes that by offering a free and ad-free app, many users will check their local speeds, sending the data back to the FCC.
  • The FCC promises not to upload too much data to help prevent going over any caps, and you can set limits to help with that.
  • For years, the FCC relied on ISP’s to self-report the speeds those companies offered, which unsurprisingly led to overly generous estimates above real-world results.
  • By shifting to a speed test app, the FCC will get more accurate data. That is why it’s asking for volunteers now.
  • Download the FCC Speed Test from either the Android or iPhone app store.

Tip of the Week: Sending Confidential Email with Gmail

  • Google’s “Confidential mode” is designed to ensure that only the intended recipient can view your message.
  • When you use Confidential mode while sending a message in Gmail, the intended recipient will need to enter a code to read your email.
  • After you send your message, the recipient will receive an email telling them that a confidential message is waiting for them.
  • To read it, they’ll need to verify their identity using a code sent either via email (to the same account) or via SMS (to a number of your choosing) before they can read it.
  • None of the message’s contents will be included in the email received. Instead, the message exists only on Google’s servers.
  • In addition to the verification process, messages sent via Confidential mode also expire. You can choose an expiration date of a week, a month, three months, or five years.
  • To use Confidential mode, sign in to Gmail and click on the Compose button in the top-left corner to begin writing a new email. Add a recipient, a subject line, and your message body, then click on “Confidential mode” at the bottom of the compose window (It looks like a padlock with a clock on it.).
  • After you enable confidential mode, you can require a passcode via SMS. If you choose “No SMS Passcode,” then the code will be delivered to the same email address you’ve put in the “To” field. Set expiry date for confidential mode in Gmail
  • Hit “Save” and check your message before hitting Send. If you’ve opted for SMS passcode verification, you’ll need to enter the recipient’s mobile number before your message is sent. Take care not to enter the wrong number!
  • To “unsend” a Confidential email, first, click on the message, and then click “Remove access.” If the recipient hasn’t yet read the email, then they won’t be able to gain access to it after access has been removed.
  • If you don’t request SMS passcode verification, Confidential mode is a lot less secure. If the email address you’re sending your message to has been compromised, then the verification code is virtually useless.

Gmail’s approach is not as good as secure email providers like ProtonMail and Tutanota. Like most email providers, Gmail doesn’t encrypt the contents of your inbox on the server. Google’s employees—or anyone who accesses your Google account—can, fr