Show of 06-12-2021

Tech Talk June 12, 2021

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Barbie in Reston: I have a MacBook Pro and don’t own a Windows computer. If I copy files from my MacBook Pro onto a thumb drive will my sisters be able to copy those files from that same thumb drive onto their Windows PCs? This is the only option that is available to us right now because I do not have a Windows PC and neither of my sisters has a Mac. Is this going to be a problem or can we all write files onto the same thumb drive and have the other computers be able to read them? Barbie in Reston
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can use a USB flash drive (aka thumb drive) to transfer files between your MacBook Pro and your sisters’ Windows PCs. However, in order to do that you’ll need to format the drive in a special way.
  • By default, Macs and Windows PCs format their drives using different file systems, and the file systems they use aren’t completely compatible with one another. That means if you save files onto a USB flash drive with a Mac, your PC might have trouble reading those files, and vice versa.
  • However, if you format the drive with a file system called ExFat (Extended File Allocation Table), both PCs and Macs will be able to read the files.
  • The exFAT file system was introduced in 2006 and is optimized for flash drives.
  • When you format the thumb drive of either machine, you can choose ExFAT as the format option. For instance, Windows can format in FAT32, NTFS, or ExFAT.
  • If you have a recent MacBook Pro it will only have USB Type-C compatible “Thunderbolt” ports which aren’t compatible with the USB Type-A ports that are likely on your sisters’ Windows machines.
  • However, this is not really a problem even if it turns out to be the case. You can simply use Samsung Duo Plus USB 3.1 Flash Drive Type-C with Type-A Adapter. The 128GB drive is about $28.
  • Email from Dan in Richmond: Dear Doc and Jim. Every time I load a Windows app on my Windows 10 laptop the scroll bar over on the right remains hidden until I move my mouse over it. This happens every time I use any app I have downloaded from the Microsoft Store. I have a health issue that makes it hard for me to control the placement of the mouse so I have trouble activating the scroll bar. Can you tell me how to keep Windows from hiding the scroll bars? Dan in Richmond
  • Tech Talk Responds: All it takes is a simple settings change to prevent Windows 10 from automatically hiding the scroll bars in Windows apps. Just follow the steps below:
    • Click the Start button.
    • Click the Settings icon located in the lower-left corner of the window (it looks like a “gear” or “cog“).
    • Click Ease of Access.
    • Select Display from the options listed in the left-hand pane.
    • Toggle the “Automatically hide scroll bars in Windows” setting to Off.
    • Click the X in the top-right corner of the window to close the Settings app.
  • The scroll bars should now remain in view at all times when you are using a Windows app.
  • Email from Donna in Pittsburg: Dear Tech Talk. I have a large PDF file. I would like to extract the images from this file and use them in another document. How can do this easily and cheaply. Donna in Pittsburg, KS
  • Tech Talk Responds: An easy and free way to extract images from a PDF is by using the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC app. With this app, not only can you open PDFs, but you can also extract their multimedia content. This way, you can save select images from PDF to a folder on your computer. If you haven’t already, download and install the free Acrobat Reader DC app for Windows 10 or Mac. Then, open your PDF with this app.
  • When the Acrobat Reader opens, click the selection tool (an arrow icon) in the toolbar near the top of the window. You’ll use this tool to select images in your PDF.
  • Next, scroll to the page in your PDF where the image that you want to extract is located. Click the image to select it.
  • Next, right-click the image and select “Copy Image” from the menu.
  • The selected image is now copied to your clipboard. You can now paste this image into any image editor on your computer.
  • Email from Elijah in Ashburn: Dear Tech Talk. I am a future programmer and would like to begin my journey now while I am still in high school. What programming language to you recommend for me to learn first? Love the podcast. Elijah in Ashburn, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Here are a few options for you.
  • Python –Python tops the list. It is widely accepted as the best programming language to learn first. Python is a fast, easy-to-use, and easy-to-deploy programming language that is being widely used to develop scalable web applications. YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, SurveyMonkey are all built-in Python. Python provides excellent library support and has a large developer community. The programming language provides a great starting point for beginners. Talking about those who are looking for a better job, you should definitely learn Python ASAP! A lot of startups are using Python as their primary backend stack and so, this opens up a huge opportunity for full-stack Python developers.
  • Java — Java is another popular choice in large organizations and it has remained so for decades. Java is widely used for building enterprise-scale web applications. Java is known to be extremely stable and so, many large enterprises have adopted it. If you are looking for a development based job at a large organization, Java is the language that you should learn. Java is also widely used in Android App Development. Almost any business today needs an Android Application owing to the fact that there are billions of Android users today. This opens up a huge opportunity for Java developers given the fact that Google has created an excellent Java-based Android development framework – Android Studio.
  • C/C++ — Almost all low-level systems such as operating systems, file systems, etc are written in C/C++. If you wish to be a system-level programmer, C/C++ is the language you should learn. C++ is also widely used by competitive programmers owing to the fact that it is extremely fast and stable. C++ also provides something called STL – Standard Template Library. STL is a pool of ready-to-use libraries for various data structures, arithmetic operations, and algorithms. The library support and speed of the language make it a popular choice in the High-frequency trading community as well.
  • Email from Michael in St. Louis: Dear Tech Talk. I use Venmo to transfer funds to my friends. I would like to keep some of these transactions private. Unfortunately, Venmo shows them all. Is there any way that I can change my settings to keep transactions hidden? Michael in St. Louis
  • Tech Talk Responds: I use many money transfer apps (PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, Cash App). Venmo is the least private of them all. Owned by PayPal, Venmo isn’t just an app for sending money, it’s a “social network.” By default, everyone can see your friends list—and all the transactions you send. That makes it a better social network, right? So why would you want to hide your friends list?
  • Fortunately, as of June 2021, Venmo now offers more privacy settings, and you can finally hide your friends list. However, everyone’s friends list is public by default. If you do not change this setting, anyone can see your friends list.
    • Open the Venmo app and head to the home screen. Tap the menu icon in the upper-right corner.
    • Tap “Settings” near the bottom of the menu screen.
    • On the Friends List screen, choose the “Private” option. Make sure that there’s a blue check mark or blue circle beside the “Private” option—this means that the option is selected.
    • You can also decide whether you want to appear on other people’s friends lists. By default, this switch is green, indicating that you will appear on other people’s friends lists.
    • If you don’t want to appear on anyone’s friends list, tap the toggle switch so that the circle is gray and to the left.

 

Profiles in IT: Timothy Brooks Westergren

  • Timothy Brooks Westergren is founder of Pandora Radio and co-creator of the Music Genome Project.
  • Timothy Brooks Westergren was born December 21, 1965 in Minneapolis, MN.
  • Tim Westergren grew up in Minneapolis, MN and attended boarding school, Cranbrook Kingswood, during his high school years.
  • His childhood love was Piano, which he started playing at the age of 7. Apart from that, he also plays the bassoon, the recorder, the drums and the clarinet.
  • In 1988, he received a BA in Music and Computer Applications from Stanford University. He studied computer acoustics and recording technology.
  • After graduation, he played keyboard for two rock bands, Late Coffee and Oranges and Barefoot, for almost a decade. In search of fame, he left the rock bands in 1995.
  • Unsure about his future, he worked as a male nanny for 5 years and also loves kids.
  • He also tried his luck as a composer, known for The Last Best Sunday (1999), The Colbert Report (2005) and Charlie Rose (1991).
  • In the end, he recorded with independent labels, managed artists, owned a commercial digital recording studio, scored feature films, produced albums, and performed.
  • He is obsessed with helping talented emerging artists connect with the music fans most likely to appreciate their music.
  • In 1999, with Will Glaser, he jointly created and patented the Music Genome Project, a mathematical algorithm to organize music.
  • A given song is represented by a vector (a list of attributes) containing approximately 400 genes or traits.
  • Each gene corresponds to a characteristic of the music, for example, gender of lead vocalist, level of distortion on the electric guitar, type of background vocals, etc.
  • Rock and pop songs have 150 genes, rap songs have 350, and jazz songs have approximately 400.
  • Each song is analyzed by a musician in a process that takes 20 to 30 minutes.
  • A list of other similar songs is constructed using a distance function.
  • Pandora began as ‘Savage Beast Technologies’ which Tim co-founded with Jon Kraft and Will Glaser, which proved to be a dying business.
  • Tim Westergren was denied 347 times before he received his first venture capitalist.
  • In March 2000 he was able to raise $1.5 million in venture capitalist but the joy didn’t last long as the market crashed after 2 weeks.
  • He started Pandora Media in 2000 to provide a song recommendation technology that could be licensed to other companies.
  • Pandora was the first mortal woman in Greek mythology, an Ancient Greek Eve.
  • By mid-2004 he had built large music genome database, but was not making money.
  • He maxed out his 11 credit cards, paid office rent from his checkbook. Four of his employees sued him for non-payment of their salaries.
  • Fifty employees worked 2 years for him without getting paid as they believed in his idea.
  • He decided to repurpose it to a playlist engine and become a consumer-based Internet radio company.
  • In November 2005, the project launched as an online radio streaming service, which took off like a rocket.
  • However, he was almost put out of business by the RIAA over royalties until he warned his huge fan base who fans lobbied Capitol Hill for a settlement.
  • He got a reasonable offer from RIAA and took it (60% of revenues go for royalties).
  • Now the company is nearly profitable with over 15 million iPhone apps in use.
  • He finally secured $35 million in VC funding.
  • As of March 2010, Pandora had 700,000 tracks in its library and 48 million users who listened for 11.6 hours per month on average.
  • In May 2010, Pandora was named in Lead411’s 2010 Hottest San Francisco Companies list.
  • In 2010 he was listed by the Time magazine as one among the 100 most influential people in the world.
  • The company went public in 2011, reporting $138 million in revenue that fiscal year.
  • In June 2017, he announced that he would step down as CEO.
  • On Feb. 1, 2019 SiriusXM acquired Pandora Media, Inc., for $3.5B.
  • Westergren’ s personal Pandora station comprises of James Taylor, Ben Folds, Oscar Peterson, Elvis Costello, Muddy Waters and Josh Fix
  • Website: http://www.pandora.com

Observations from the Bunker

  • To Buy or to Stream, that is the Question.
  • The days of grabbing a CD from the local record shop are long gone. Even purchasing digital tracks seems antiquated to many.
  • In an era of streaming services with a monthly subscription that puts a vast library of music in your hand, why even bother with purchasing music?
  • Owning music means you have access to songs for as long as your copy is in good condition. Having copies of your favorite songs and being able to manually sort them, add information to each track and transfer them to any device you own makes for a great user experience.
  • There’s no need for an online connection. Simply locate the file, open it in your favorite media player and enjoy. You are not paying a company for the privilege of listening to your music.
  • However, it is you make copies of stored music to ensure you have a backup available in case of cataclysm. Hosting your tracks in the cloud? Better make sure you have some sort of local copy, lest the cloud service shut down and take your files with it. Which, of course means you need to have local storage space for all those songs.
  • If each song is around 3MB, then a modestly sized 10,000-song collection would take up 30GB on your hard drive. If every song we purchased was $0.99, that would be just shy of $10,000. That’s a lot of money.
  • Streaming services have won the battle. You pay a flat fee per month for unlimited access. Artists are then paid a small amount depending on how many times their music is played. Artists do not receive as much upfront as they would if you purchased an album directly.
  • Streaming services: Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Prime Music.

App of the Week: Shazam

  • My go to way to identify music that I am listening to.
  • Shazam is an application that can identify music, movies, advertising, and television shows, based on a short sample played and using the microphone on the device.
  • The original developer of the app, Shazam Entertainment Limited, was founded in 1999.
  • On September 24, 2018, the company was acquired by Apple for a reported $400M
  • The software is available for Android, macOS, iOS, Wear OS and WatchOS.

No more FaceTime FOMO

  • Android and Windows users have a reason to celebrate. You will be able to join your iPhone friends on FaceTime calls.
  • FaceTime is getting several upgrades in the upcoming iOS 15 operating system that will make it look and work more like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, including a participant grid view and the ability to schedule calls.
  • The new OS will also bring spatial audio to FaceTime, which will make people’s voices sound like they’re coming from their position on screen for a more natural feel.
  • But perhaps most exciting is opening up access to non-Apple devices — at least when using a web browser.
  • To schedule or start a FaceTime call, you’ll need to have an Apple device and an Apple account. Then, you can create a shareable link to invite others, who can join from their browser on Android or Windows devices — no Apple account needed.
  • But those participants won’t be able to enter the call until the Apple user who set it up approves them.

Amazon Devices will Share your Internet with Neighbors

  • If you use Alexa, Echo, or many other Amazon devices, Amazon will automatically enroll them in Amazon Sidewalk on June 8th , unless you opt out.
  • The new wireless mesh service will share a small slice of your Internet bandwidth with neighboring Sidewalk-capable devices that don’t have connectivity.
  • Sidewalk will also help your Amazon devices to a sliver of bandwidth from other Sidewalk users when you don’t have a connection.
  • Amazon Sidewalk uses wireless low-energy Bluetooth and 900MHz radio signals to pass data between compatible devices across far greater distances than Wi-Fi is capable of on its own — in some cases, as far as half a mile.
  • When they’re in range, other people’s Sidewalk-enabled devices can connect to the cloud through the Sidewalk bridges in your home, creating a sort of network of networks that any Sidewalk-compatible device can take advantage of.
  • When they do so, they’ll use a small sliver of your home’s Wi-Fi bandwidth, though their owners won’t be able to see or access your actual network or devices.
  • Along with making sure things like outdoor smart lights and smart garage door openers stay connected when your Wi-Fi can’t quite reach them, that’ll help things like Tile trackers stay in touch if you drop your wallet while you’re out on a walk, or if your dog hops the fence.
  • The full list of devices that can act as Sidewalk bridges is Ring Floodlight Cam (2019), Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019), Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019), Echo (3rd gen and newer), Echo Dot (3rd gen and newer), Echo Dot for Kids (3rd gen and newer), Echo Dot with Clock (3rd gen and newer), Echo Plus (all generations), Echo Show (all models and generations), Echo Spot, Echo Studio, Echo Input, and Echo Flex.
  • In the future, Sidewalk will support a range of experiences from using Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as smart security and lighting and diagnostics for appliances and tools.
  • The maximum bandwidth of a Sidewalk Bridge to the Sidewalk server is 80Kbps, which is about 1/40th of the bandwidth used to stream a typical high definition video.
  • I plan to opt out of the service. I don’t like Amazon controlling my bandwidth in anyway.