Show of 12-29-2012

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Replaying segments from previous shows.

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from June: Dear Tech Talk. I have a blackberry and an iPhone with Verizon. The coverage in my townhouse is not good. I have been told to get a network extender and this should solve my problem. Of course Verizon has one to sell me.What is your advice on the type I should get so I can receive and keep phone calls in my house wireless devices. Thanks, June Cunha.
  • Tech Talk Responds: I have had similar issues in my house. I first diagnose the problem by mapping the Wi-Fi signal strength in the house using my laptop and a free program called NetStumbler. Download it from Sometimes just adjusting your antenna location can make a difference. My next option is to get a high gain antenna for my router. Such antennas must have the right connector for your router. Since high gain antennas are directional you need to adjust their position. The simplest is simply a longer dipole antenna with 6db gain. Each 3db doubles the signals strength. A dipole has a donut shaped radiation pattern.
  • If these options don’t work, you can consider a range extender, such as Netgear Universal WiFi Range Extender. It cost around $70. Getting one which matches the brand of our router is best. The disadvantage is that this repeater will introduce latency into your network and may slow it down. Gamers may not like this. It is fine for normal web surfing. You will want to place your repeater in a location that gets a strong signal from your router. Use NetStumbler to help you.
  • Email from Linda Lane: Dr. Shurtz, many months ago through your Tech Talk Radio Show, you were kind enough to help me w/trying to set up my old Atari System. Because of your assistance I was successful in accomplishing the Atari hookup & subsequent hours of play for my grandson. I have encountered a problem with an ‘ilitili’ virus and don’t know how to get rid of it. We currently have Norton 360 and also ran Malewarebytes AntiMalware. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have worked. Your assistance and guidance in eliminating this ‘ilitili’ virus would be greatly appreciated. I realize you have a very demanding schedule but your help would be appreciated. Thank you! Linda L Lane.
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is a difficult virus to remove and detect.
    • Ilitili changes your browser’s default home page to a particular web site without asking for user permission.
    • It alters your web browser’s settings once it’s loaded on your computer and redirects you to its sites solely.
    • It redirects you to a predefined site whenever you enter invalid address or performs an Internet search.
    • It tracks your web browsing habits, records addresses of visited sites and sends collected data to a remote server.
    • It provides your no uninstall feature and hides in order to obstruct its removal as much as possible.
  • Removal on a windows machine requires that you delete registry entries after closing the program, called {random}.exe using the Task Manager. If your virus detection does not detect, you may have to run a rootkit detector first. Malewarebytes Anti Malware cannot detect rootkits. I will continue to look for a quick fix on Atari. There are complete removal instructions for Windows machines on the web.
  • Email from Bill Conley: Gentlemen, I recently reinstalled my Dell Latitude with MS XP Pro, storing all documents to an external hard drive. Prior to system reload had removed folder encryption from “all” folders, no more file titles in green, all black. Unfortunately I failed to notice that my Outlook pst files were still encrypted. Since they were encrypted under previous OS load, they are now inaccessible. Address Book, all email files are now out of reach. Do you have a means other than NSA of decrypting? Your assist most appreciated. Bill Conley.
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you encrypt data on your computer, you need a way to recover that data in case something happens to the encryption key. If your encryption key is lost or damaged and you don’t have a way to recover your data, the data is lost. You will also lose data if you store your encryption key on a smart card and the smart card is damaged or lost. To make sure you can always access your encrypted data, you should back up your encryption certificate and key.
  • Encryptions is managed by the Certificate Manager, which is opened by typing certmgr.msc into the search box and pressing enter.  Using this application, you can either import an encrypted file or backup your certificate. If you import encrypted files you will have to point to the appropriate EFS certificate. If you did not back up your EFS certificate, your files are lost.

Profiles in IT: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz

  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz developed binary arithmetic. The root is from the Latin word binarius which literally meant “two by two.”
  • He was born in 1746 and died in 1716.
    • He contributed to law, history, theology, politics, engineering, geology, physics, and perhaps most importantly, philosophy, mathematics and logic.
    • The Leibniz began to teach himself Latin at the age of 8, and Greek a few years later.
    • His study of logic and intellectual quest for order continued throughout his life.
  • At the age of 20 he published Dissertation on the Art of Combinatorics in which he sought a a universal symbolic language and reduce all debate to calculation.
  • During this time in Paris, he became acquainted with several of the leading philosophers, read the unpublished manuscripts of Blaise Pascal and Rene Descartes.
  • He met Christiaan Huygens from whom he learned mathematics. He then laid the foundation of calculus, which become his philosophical legacy. The invention of the differential and integral calculus is part of his search for a universal language. A dispute with Issac Newton over the invention of calculus scandalized his life.
  • In 1703 he published An Explanation of Binary Arithmetic Using only the Characters 0 and 1. He was still seeking a universal symbolic language.
    • Of binary numeration, he writes it permits new discoveries [in] . . . arithmetic . . . in geometry, because when the numbers are reduced to the simplest principles, like 0 and 1, a wonderful order appears everywhere.
    • With base 2 numeration, Leibniz witnessed the confluence of several intellectual ideas of his world view, not just the characteristica generalis, but also theological and mystical ideas of order, harmony and creation, with 0 denoting nothing and 1 denoting God.
  • His 1703 paper contains the application of binary numbers to the ancient Chinese text of Yijing (I-Ching or Book of Changes).
    • This he thought, might be the origin of a universal symbolic language.
    • The ancient Chinese lineations or 64 hexagrams of Yijing consist of six lines atop one another, each of which is either solid or broken, forming a total of 64 possibilities. A grouping of three such lines is called a trigram.
    • A solid line can be viewed as one and a broken line as zero.
    • Leibniz cites an application to weighing masses. Suppose that a two-pan balance is used for weighing stones. Leibniz claims that all stones of integral weight between 1 and 15 inclusive can be weighed with just four standard weights.
  • Leibniz’ designed stepped wheel calculator was built for decimal numbers. He gave some thought over the years to another machine which would incorporate his beloved binary system using on/off principles.
  • 125 years later, a binary logic system based on true and false conditionals was developed in mid-19th century by George Boole
  • John von Neumann pressed for the use of binary arithmetic in 1946 in the ENIAC computer and the rest is history.

Profiles in IT: John von Neumann

  • Von Neumann was born in Budapest , Hungary , in 1903. Von Neumann was the oldest of 3 children of a banker.
  • John von Neumann was known for his contributions to the fields of mathematical logic, quantum mechanics, economics, game theory, strategic thinking, and computer architecture.
  • Dr. von Neumann was also a pioneer of modern computing, devising the computer infrastructure that is now known as the “von Neumann Architecture.”
  • At 6, he could divide two 8-digit numbers in his head; by 8 he had mastered calculus; by 12 he was at the graduate level in mathematics.
  • . In 1925, he received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and in 1926, he completed his doctoral degree in mathematics at the University of Budapest .
  • In 1930 he joined the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study. He became one of the 6 full-time people in the School of Mathematics (Einstein was one of the others).
  • His first book, published in 1932, was on quantum mechanics.
  • He became a US citizen in 1937, and during the Second World War distinguished himself with his work in weapons development.
  • During and after the war, he became one of the best applied mathematicians. When some of the best engineers in the world were at Los Alamos trying to decide how to bring the atomic fuel together quickly enough to create an explosion the (A bomb), he refined the technique for the implosion of plutonium by developing the “implosion lens” that would correctly compress plutonium.
  • His work is said to have accelerated the development of the hydrogen bomb.
  • In 1955 he was named a Commissioner of the Atomic Energy Commission, a position he held up to his death from cancer in 1957.
  • During the last part of the war he became involved with the development of computing machines. It was his idea to store the program (the sequence of instructions) in the machine as simply another kind of electronic data. Until then, in order to reprogram a computer a person had to physically rewire it.
  • Computers which perform their operations sequentially are called “von Neumann machines” as opposed to those perform several operations using “parallel processing.”
  • The four properties that characterize the von Neumann architecture.
    • Instructions and data are distinguished only implicitly through usage.
    • Memory is a single memory, sequentially addressed
    • Memory is one-dimensional
    • Meaning of the data is not stored with it
  • After the war, in 1945, von Neumann drafted a report and machine description that would lead to the construction of the EDVAC, or Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer.
  • As director of the Electronic Computer Project at Princeton ‘s Institute for Advanced Study (1945-1955), he developed MANIAC (mathematical analyzer, numerical integrator and computer), which at the time was the fastest computer of its kind. MANIAC was run on thousands of vacuum tubes.
  • He was appointed Atomic Energy Commission in 1955 and died of cancer in 1957.

Headphones Under $50

  • Panasonic Ergofit (ear buds for around $10)
  • MEElectronics A151 (best ear buds for around $50)
  • Koss Portapro (over the ear phone, they fold up, around $40)
  • Audio Technica ATH-M30 (around $50, very comfortable)
  • Panasonic RP HTX7 (around $40, selected by CNet as best headphone under $50)

Home Theater Essentials

  • After you buy a great new flat panel TV, you may still need some components to make a great home theater. Here are five essential items after your TV
    • Game Console (Xbox or PS3)
    • Blu-Ray Player
    • Universal Remote (Harmony is the best option)
    • Speaker System
    • Media Streamer (for Netflix streaming)

Update: Logitech Harmony Link Remote

  • I love Logitech’s Harmony Link, which retails for $99.99. This was a gift from my son and now I could do without it.
  • This discreet little oval sits on your TV stand or shelf and acts as a translator, fielding Wi-Fi® commands from your favorite Apple iOS device or Android™ phone, and sending out infrared blasts to control your TV, cable box, Blu-ray player, and practically any other device you may have connected. 
  • Setting up the Harmony Link is remarkably similar to setting up any of Logitech’s Harmony remote controls. You plug the device into your computer, enter info about your components and connections, and sit back while Harmony’s web-based software loads it up with all the necessary settings.
  • With the Harmony Link, though, there are a couple of extra steps: entering your Wi-Fi network’s login password, and downloading a free app for your iOS device or Android phone.
  • One-touch on-screen activity buttons turn on your system and get all the necessary components fired up and set to the correct inputs.
  • It works with iPhone, iPod touch®, and Android. I iPad app is fantastic. You can view the entire TV schedule online.
  • I used two IR blasters that plug into the back of the unit to control the components in my cabinet. The blaster can be pointed directly at the TV (or bounced off the back wall) to control the TV.
  • Since your smartphone or iPad communicates with the Harmony Link via Wi-Fi, it gives you much greater range than an infrared remote.

Food Science: Wine Preservation

  • Wine that isn’t preserved properly will result in oxidation damage, which results when wine is exposed to air.
  • Oxidation damage degrades the wine by causing the aroma, flavor, and color to change, thus affecting the consumer’s ability to enjoy the wine properly.
  • In as little as 2-8 hours, oxidation can occur upon opening the bottle.
  • Wine preservation products are intended to reduce the amount of air that comes into contact with wine to prevent or slow down oxidation.
  • Rebottling $0. Instead of purchasing preservation systems, some people transfer the leftover wine into smaller bottles and then put a stopper in the
  • Marbles ~$1 or less. Instead of rebottling, some purchase marbles to fill up the unfinished bottle before putting a stopper in the bottle neck.
  • Spray ~$10. This system uses 100% non-toxic inert gas to remove oxygen from the opened bottle. A tube is inserted into the nozzle of the spray bottle. Each can has 120+ uses. This method is said to extend the life of the bottle for up to a week.
  • Vacuum Pump ~$15 – $40. Vacuum pumps are designed to pump out the air from an open bottle. They are portable and usually fit any size or type of wine bottle. This method is said to extend the life of the bottle for up to five days.
  • Argon Gas ~$70. Argon gas systems are designed to prevent the air from touching the wine. As soon as the bottle is opened, you inject the argon gas into the bottle with a nozzle and then insert the stopper. The stopper is specially designed so that you can pour directly through it into the glass. This method is said to extend the life of the bottle for days-weeks.
  • Inert Gas ~$110. This system is popular amongst restaurants that serve wine by the glass. Insert gas is used to displace oxygen. A disposable inert gas tank connects to a serving spigot via a tube. The spigot is attached to the opened bottle.

Food Science: Champagne Bubbles

  • The bubble patterns evolve as the amount of dissolved carbon dioxide changes in the glass. They start out as strings of bubbles that rise in pairs, then gradually transition to bubbles in groups of threes, and finally settle down in a clockwork pattern of regularly spaced individual bubbles.
  • The researchers observed the carbon dioxide bubbles in a champagne glass as they rise from nucleation points on the glass wall. The nucleation points are small defects in the glass that trap tiny vibrating pockets of carbon dioxide. Dissolved gas in the champagne gradually collects in a vibrating bubble inside the defect, causing it to grow and soon expel gas from the defect, forming another bubble that sticks to the outside of the defect. That bubble, in turn, grows as more dissolved carbon dioxide collects inside it and it eventually breaks free of the defect to rise through the champagne. Then the process begins again with a new bubble expelled from the defect, forming rising strings of tiny bubbles.