Show of 2-11-2012

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Tung: Dear Tech Talk, I just got back from a trip to Las Vegas. I used my iPhone to take pictures of my trip. I am using iCloud with Photostream. Now I want to delete some of those pictures because they are embarrassing. However, I can’t delete any pictures from the Photostream subdirectory. If I remove and then re-install Photostream on my iPhone, the pictures just come back. What can I do? Thanks, Tung
  • Tech Talk Responds: By default, Apple will delete your photos from Photo Stream after 30 days. It will also start removing them once you’ve hit 1000 images. But it will not let you delete just one “private” picture manually. Here is the procedure to delete all of your Photostream pics.
    1. Step 1: Login to You should just be able to use your Apple ID and password.
    2. Step 2: Once you’ve logged in, tap on your name in the top right hand corner of the screen (to the left of where it says Sign Out).
    3. Step 3: You should now be looking at your profile. Click the button labeled Advanced.
    4. Step 4: If you’re sure you want all of your photos deleted, click Reset Photo Stream (this doesn’t delete photos in your camera roll).
  • Hopefully at some point we’ll see an option to delete photos individually from the cloud, but for now, this will work. It is in beta now and should be released soon.
  • Email from Arnie McKechnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz, Here are some questions for Tech Talk. I just read an article that discusses using laser pulses to increase the time to write a disk.  They have not perfected this yet. Still, I don’t see how this works since magnets and heat are not compatible. And the speeds they mention; how can they tell how fast this is being done? Like 60 femtosecond pulses of laser — that’s a duration of 60 quadrillionths of a second. How does this speed compare to the speed of light? There are a lot of zeros in the speeds they mention. Also, how do you think they’re going to overcome the problem of retrieving data? Thought you would like an interesting physics question. With the speeds involved with this, I don’t see how they work with it. Really like your program. Thanks, Anie McKechnie, Dvidsonville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: They are using a solid state laser to heat very small areas of a thin magnetically polarized film. They have show that thermal effects alone can de-polarize this material. They are using a 60 femtosecond laser pulse to write in less than 5 picoseconds (10 raised to the -12). A femtosecond is 10 raised to the minus -15 seconds. Light travels on foot in a nanosecond (10 raised to the -9). They can get this speed because of the intensity of the light beam, both spatially and temporally. You are right they cannot read at those speeds. But they can write 1,000 times faster. They still have to find a way to direct the beam to various locations at that speed too.
  • Email from Loyal Listener: Dear Dr. Richard Shurtz , I participate in a yahoogroups that is a neighborhood listserv. It is wonderful 99% of the time. There is One person who has a problem and sends very snide comments to every other poster. More than one person complained to the Listserv manager. Listserv manager says –it is a free speech world and All are welcome.
  • How can I block this man from emailing me? Many of his remarks are emailed directly to me, not to the listserv….If I choose SPAM in my yahoo inbox to send his emails there I believe the new ones still come through. Your help is most appreciated. What I am amazed about is all of these yrs with email and it seems no one has solved the SPAM issue that is such a nuisance. Thank You : ). A Loyal Listener
  • Tech Talk Responds: You will not be able to block only his messages from the Listserv. You can block all Listserv messages. If his comments are abusive, he should be kicked out of the forum.
  • The good news is that you can get rid of all the emails that he sends directly to you. Simply go to email rules, and create a rule that all emails from his email address will be deleted. If you are using Outlook, go to Options in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Select Create an Inbox Rule. Select New. Select If Was Received from. Select Delete the Message. Name the Rule. Then save the rule.
  • Email from a Regular Listener: Dear Doc, One unsettling article in the Feb. 4 that I hope you might comment on. “Facebook made $3.2 billion in advertising revenue last year, 85 percent of its total revenue. Google took in more than 10 times as much, with an estimated $36.5 billion in advertising revenue in 2011, by analyzing what people sent over Gmail and what they searched on the Web, and then using that data to sell ads. Hundreds of other companies have also staked claims on people’s online data by using cookies or other tracking.”
  • Has anyone written the Top 10 things a pc user needs to do to retain some degree of privacy? Best, Regular listener.
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is a great questions. Here are a few options that may help.
    1. The Block cookies on your Web browser.
    2. Don’t put your full birth date on your social-networking profiles.
    3. Don’t download Facebook apps from outside the United States.
    4. Use multiple usernames and passwords.
    5. Know how much private data are out there about you.
    6. Be really cautious about geo-location services.
    7. Shred.
    8. Opt out of “people search” sites.
    9. Max out your privacy settings on social networks.
    10. Close old accounts.
  • Two recommended websites to help with this project
  • Email from Steve: I recently downloaded two sizable content files, each 1.1GB. My FIOS is 20/5. The first file took X minutes to download. The second download link (from the same company) to me to a “content downloader” and the file of the same size took less than half the time I wonder how their “downloader” program can cut the download time of a huge file in half because my internet connection is still 20/5. Thanks, Steve
  • •Tech Talk Responds: Download accelerators certainly don’t make your internet connection any faster, but they do sometimes seem like they do.
  • Download Accelerator can use many techniques to speed file transfer
    • Multiple connections: Normally, in a traditional file, download only one connection is used. Download accelerators most commonly speed up downloads by creating more than one. Interestingly, the impact of this technique appears to be greatest the faster your internet connection, where the delays in a normal download become a proportionally larger percentage of the time spent downloading.
    • Data Compression: If a file being downloaded is not itself compressed – say it’s a text file or word document, or even an executable “.exe” file – the act of downloading it does not necessarily compress it. Some download accelerators cause the file to be compressed by the server before
    • Resumability: This isn’t so much a true speed up in the downloading technology, but it represents a huge speed up if you’ve ever been disconnected in the middle of a large download. Many download accelerators not only remember where you were when a download is disconnected for some reason, but they’ll often automatically re-connect.
    • Transfer Window Adjustment: Data is transferred in larger blocks before are response is required. Most TCP/IP connections start with a small window and increase the window if the transfer channel has a low error rate.
  • Email from Fredericksburg Listener: Dear Tech Talk, I just received this email from AT&T regarding my cellular data usage on my cell phone. What are my options? Thanks. Love the show. Listening in Fredericksburg.
    • As mentioned on a previous bill, we’re taking additional, more immediate steps to help address network congestion and improve reliability.
    • One of these steps involves a change for some customers who use extraordinarily large amounts of data in a single billing period – about 12 times more data than the average smartphone user.
    • Here’s how it works: Smartphone customers with unlimited data plans may experience reduced speeds once their usage in a billing cycle reaches the level that puts them among the top 5 percent of heaviest data users. These customers can still use unlimited data and their speeds will be restored with the start of the next billing cycle.
    • We’re writing because you are in the top 5 percent of heaviest data users for this billing cycle. Because we recognize that data usage can change from month to month, you will not see reduced speeds this billing cycle.
  • What are my options? Thanks. Love the show. Listening in Fredericksburg.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the email. I have wondered when AT&T was going to begin throttling their customers because of high bandwidth usage.
  • Wi-Fi offers great speeds and doesn’t add to your wireless data usage. Consider using Wi-Fi when possible for applications that use the highest amounts of data, such as streaming video apps, remote web camera apps, large data-file transfers (like video) and some online gaming.
  • I would avoid upgrading to the tiered data plan recommended by AT&T to avoid transfer slowdown. I would also explore Sprint and Verizon data plan options.

Profiles in IT: Chieko Asakawa

  • Cheiko Asakawa develops software programs for visually impaired computer users, including the IBM Home Page Reader. She has become a global thought leader in computer accessibility technologies. Her life is truly inspirational.
  • Cheiko Asakawa was born in Osaka, Japan in 1960.
  • She was born with normal vision and had dreams of becoming an Olympic sprinter.
  • At age 11 she hit her eye on the side of a swimming pool, damaging her optic nerve.
  • She was completely blind by 14 and transferred to a school for the blind to finish HS.
  • At that time in Japan, many blind people were routed into careers in massage or acupuncture. But Chieko wanted a different future, encouraged by her father.
  • Her family let her travel to the US for a year. As a blind teenager, she learned  the New York City subway system from top to bottom.
  • In 1982, she completed her bachelor’s degree at Otemon Gakuin University, in Osaka, where she majored in English literature.
  • She then signed up for a two-year computer course for the blind, which had been recommended by one of her teachers. This changed her live.
  • Asakawa learned to program by using a device called the Optacon, which used a camera to transmit the letters in a printed document, one by one, to a grid of tiny rods.
  • She was offered a one-year internship position at IBM Research in Tokyo.
  • She was hired as a full-time staff researcher in March 1985.
  • An in-house IBM team had just developed a voice synthesizer that allowed Asakawa to read e-mail and write code much more easily.
  •  For her first IBM project she developed a digital Braille editor.
  • She then developed a network that allowed Braille libraries to upload and share documents and books.
  • When a colleague set up a system that allowed Asakawa to browse the Internet in the mid-1990s, she embarked on her mission to bring the Web to blind people.
  • By 1997 she had developed a plug-in that worked with the Netscape browser.
  • Computer stores around the world sold IBM’s Home Page Reader, and Asakawa says its effect on the blind community was immediate, electric, and sometimes touching.
  • She and her team wrote a program called aDesigner to allow designers to experience a site as blind users do and to suggest ways to improve navigation for audio browsers.
  • In 2004 she earned a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Tokyo.
  • While she still works on new projects for the blind, she has broadened her efforts to include Web accessibility tools for illiterate and aging populations.
  • In 2008, Chieko launched the Social Accessibility project to create bridges among the communities of visually impaired web users who face web accessibility issues.
  • Chieko’s team developed a solution which offers an open and collaborative environment where everyone can work together to address accessibility issues.
  • She was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 2003.
  • She became an IBM Fellow in 2009, one of only 218 Fellows in company history.
  • In 2010, she  received Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award.
  • She has been granted over 20 patents for her work.
  • Her motto is: Make the impossible, possible by never giving up.

Virtual Reality Contact Lenses

  • Innovega researchers funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation are developing novel contact lenses that can help view tiny full-color megapixel displays.
  • Over the past months, they have demonstrated contact lens-enabled eyewear for mobile devices, including smartphones, portable game devices and media players that deliver panoramic, high-resolution experiences for entertainment and planned augmented reality applications.
  • The new system consists of advanced contact lenses working in conjunction with lightweight eyewear.
  • Normally, the human eye is limited in its ability to focus on objects placed very near it. The contact lenses contain optics that focus images displayed on the eyewear onto the light-sensing retina in the back of the eye, allowing the wearer to see them properly.
  • Conventional mobile device screens are often too small to read comfortably “and certainly too small to enjoy.
  • Innovega’s contact lenses could effectively generate displays with a screen size equivalent to a 240-inch television, viewed at a distance of 10 feet.
  • Moreover, by projecting slightly different pictures to each eye, the display can generate the illusion of 3D. You get full 3D, full HD, fully panoramic images.
  • Potential consumer applications include immersive video, 3D gaming, mobile device interfaces and augmented reality applications.
  • This could be the ultimate computer interface for the troops, something that’s fully transparent and fully hands-free.

Mobile App of the Week: PaperKarma

  • PaperKarma is a new app that helps you reduce the amount of unwanted coupons, catalogs and postcards that clog your mailbox.
  • Users download the app to their iOS, Android or Windows Phone device; register, and then start snapping photos of the unwanted mail.
  • Once a photo is taken, the user taps the “Unsubscribe Me” button, and then PaperKarma does the legwork.
  • Sean Mortazavi, the CEO and founder of PaperKarma, who also works full-time at Microsoft, has spent countless hours and weekends tracking down 10,000 of the biggest junk-mail offenders so that you don’t have to.
  • Mortazavi said more than 100 billion pieces of junk mail are sent every year in the U.S. alone, making it both time-consuming and a waste of natural resources.
  • The company already has a long list of companies in its database, but if users submit requests for something that isn’t on file, PaperKarma will use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to track down the culprit. The Turk typically can track down people for hire at a reasonable price.
  • PaperKarma’s mobile apps, which are free, launched 10 days ago.
  • Mortazavi imagines being able to make money in the future by partnering with various businesses.

Eolas’s Web Patent Rules Invalid

  • An East Texas patent case that has attracted the attention of the technology world came to a screeching halt Thursday as the jury ruled that the key patent in the case is invalid.
  • Eolas, a patent troll that has been shaking down technology companies for the better part of a decade, now faces the prospect of losing the patent.
  • Wired reported this week, the case centers on a biologist, Michael Doyle, who claims to have invented the concept of interactive websites back in 1993. He applied for a patent, which was granted in 1998.
  • But Doyle’s claims are sharply disputed by many in the Internet community, including World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee. They’ve pointed to prior art, including Viola, an early Web browser created by Pei-Yuan Wei.
  • Companies that depend on the open Web praised the verdict.

Google’s First Employee Departs for Khan Academy

  • Craig Silverstein, the first employee hired by Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, will leave the search giant for Khan Academy, an online education portal based in Mountain View, Calif.
  • Silverstein had been with Google shortly after it first launched in the garage of Susan Wojcicki, a friend of both Page and Brin, in September 1998.
  • Before he joined the company, Silverstein was a PhD student at Stanford researching machine algorithms and techniques for data mining and information retrieval.
  • He helped Brin and Page develop infrastructure when Google was just a Stanford graduate school project operating out of their dorms. When he officially joined Google, Silverstein became its technology director.
  • Silverstein figured he would stay at Google for four or five years, but when the company began rapidly growing, his ideas of quitting went out the window.
  • In 2008, Silverstein had no plans to leave Google, but he had said he might leave the company momentarily to finish grad school or become a stay-at-home father.
  • He decided to stay with Google at the time to improve its search engine and help mentor the company’s thousands of engineers.
  • The Khan Academy, where Silverstein is heading, is a not-for-profit organization that aspires to change the education industry by providing free world-class education to anyone anywhere.
  • The Khan Academy offers an extensive library of 2,800 videos, covering subjects like K-12 math, finance, history and physics, and even offers practice exercises to apply what you’ve learned.
  • It is not certain how Silverstein will contribute to the Khan Academy, but he will go from working alongside tens of thousands of employees to just 21.