Show of 2-9-2013

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Steve in Potomac: Dear Dr. Shurtz, Who provides the fastest internet service to households: FOIS, Comcast, DISH or Direct TV? Important since the rates vary widely. Can you also spell out the “OOma” Box discussed last week. Thanks for bringing the wealth of info to us less literate in technology.  Really enjoyed learning about Mr. Woodland, the inventor of the UPC! Steve, Potomac, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: Dish and Direct TV are both satellite, so they will always be slower. FIOS is fiber optic and Comcast is co-axial cable. Fiber has more throughput than coax, so FIOS has the potential of being faster. In the final analysis, it is actually the backhaul connection that will determine the overall speed. Nationwide FIOS has been winner the overall speed test. The VoIP solution which use is Ooma. Go to The box is around $225 and you must pay the annual taxes for domestic call (around $15 per year). I love the quality and convenient of this device. I have pre-paid my account so that I can call internationally at Skype rates just using my home phone. Very convenient.
  • Email from Margaret in Bethesda: Dear Dr. Shurtz, I HAVE AN iPhone 5 black 16GB w/ a Verizon plan that started Oct 2012. I have used this very little & it is in perfect condition. The plan I have is no longer offered w/Verizon. Plan has  450 minutes for during the day during the week and is utilized for incoming and outgoing calls other than on the Verizon wireless network; nights after 9:00pm and weekends are free to any caller incoming or outgoing.  2GB data usage monthly. Bill is $80.20/mo. I am looking for someone to buy the phone & assume the Verizon service Plan. Can you please suggest how I can find someone interested in this please? Thanks. Margaret, Bethesda
  • Tech Talk Responds: You will be hard pressed to get someone to assume you plan and I am not certain that Verizon will transfer the liability. I would suggest that you change your plan to the minimum allowable monthly charge. There is a minimum because you phone is subsidized by the plan. The good news is that Verizon has allowed the GSM portion of your phone to be unlocked. So you phone can be sold when you plan expires.
  • Email from Lauren in Bethesda: Dr Shurtz, For my home, Dec 2012  I bought an iMAC. Never used an Apple machine before. I want to install Office 2010 on my Mac.
  • If I go forward with the install of VMWare to have the MAC be a dual OS machine, how do I get Office 2010 software installed onto iMAC that is now on the WINXP Dell? Trying to avoid buying another copy of MS Office for the MAC and think this route is cheaper?? Thanks, Lauren
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can either dual boot your computer or set up a virtual machine. A virtual machine will allow you to switch back and forth between the two operating systems without rebooting. Boot Camp is a good dual-boot option offered by Apple. VMWare is a good virtualization option. You will need a license to install both Windows and Office on your new Mac. You will need to download the install media from Microsoft and provide the license number during installation. You re authorized two installations with one software license (a desktop and a portable machine). Download Office 2010 Installation Backup. You will need your original Product Key to install it. Go to to download a copy Office. You can get you product by installing MyKeyFinder from AbelSoft on your old computer.  The same procedure is required for the Windows installation. VWWare Fusion 5 will cost you $50. Boot Camp is a utility included with OS X and is free.
  • Open Office is a free, open-source alternative to Microsoft Office and is available for both Mac OS X and Windows. Open Office features an equivalent for each application in Microsoft Office, including text documents, spreadsheets, drawings, presentations, databases and formulas. You can download a copy of Open Office from
  • Email from Ron: Dear Tech Talk, Is there a better way to become a Linux expert other than getting a book? Thanks, Ron
  • Tech Talk Responds: The best way is to get Linux; install it; start playing with it. That’s exactly what I do for any software. Whenever I encounter something interesting, or something new that I want to learn, I get it, I play with it, I figure it out. I do things with it and I just sort of learn by doing.
  • A book can be a good way to get an overview of things; but by far, by far, the best way to learn technology (especially something as large and as encompassing as Linux) is to get your hands on it, start playing with it, and start doing. You’ll find yourself learning at an incredible pace
  • Email from Hac in Bowie: Dear Doc and Jim, I recently got an iPhone 4S. I love all of the features, particularly Facetime and iMessage. However, I don’t like that fact that every time I receive a text message, it is displayed on the iPhone home screen, even if my iPhone is locked. Sometimes I would rather keep my text message private, especially when I am at meetings and my phone is on the table. Is there a way to turn off these notifications? I have been a loyal listener for years. My husband and I love the show, especially Profiles in IT. Hac in Bowie
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is a common complaint for iPhone users. Fortunately, you can easily change the notifications used by your iPhone applications.  Go to Setting. Click on Notifications. Scroll down to Messages. Set Notification Center to OFF. Select None for Alert Style. Badge App Icon can be left On, since it only displays the number of unread messages. Set Text Tone to off so that messages are not always beeping during meetings. Finally set show preview to Off, so you have actually open the Message to see it. Every application can be modified in this way. I turned off most notifications because they are so annoying at meetings.
  • Email from Leslie: Dear Doc. My new laptop does not have a CD drive. I have some programs on CDs such as MS Office and Dreamweaver, which I want to run or update from on my new machine. How can I install them? Thanks, Leslie
  • Tech Talk Responds: Many programs that come on CD will actually install just fine if you simply copy the contents of the CD, the entire contents of the CD, to a USB drive. I typically recommend that you do so to an empty USB drive so that it looks as much as possible like the CD – except that it happens to be a USB flash drive.
  • After you have copied the files (presumably on some other machine that has both a CD-ROM drive and the USB drive) you can then take that USB drive to your new machine and plug it in. After it appears in Windows Explorer you can then navigate to the root of that drive and run what would, presumably, be a set up program or something like it.
  • Another way would be to use an external CD-ROM or share one over your local network.

Profiles in IT: Raymond Samuel Tomlinson

  • Raymond Samuel Tomlinson is a US programmer who implemented an email system in 1971 on the ARPANET.
  • Tomlinson was born in Amsterdam, New York in 1941. His family soon moved to the small, unincorporated village of Vail Mills, New York.
  • He attended Broadalbin Central School in nearby Broadalbin, New York. Later he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York where he participated in the co-op program with IBM.
  • He received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from RPI in 1963.
  • After graduating from RPI, he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to continue his electrical engineering education.
  • At MIT, Tomlinson worked in the Speech Communication Group and developed an analog-digital hybrid speech synthesizer as the subject of his Master’s thesis.
  • He received a Master’s  in Electrical Engineering degree in 1965.
  • In 1967 he joined Bolt, Beranek and Newman, now BBN Technologies, where he helped develop the TENEX operating system including ARPANET Network Control Protocol and TELNET implementations.
  • Ray Tomlinson was experimenting with a popular program he wrote called SNDMSG that the ARPANET programmers and researchers were using on the network computers (Digital PDP-10s) to leave messages for each other.
  • SNDMSG was a “local” electronic message program. You could only leave messages on the computer that you were using for other persons using that computer to read.
  • Tomlinson used a file transfer protocol that he was working on called CYPNET to adapt the SNDMSG program so it could send electronic messages to any computer on the ARPANET network.
  • Ray Tomlinson chose the @ symbol to tell which user was “at” what computer. The @ goes in between the user’s login name and the name of his/her host computer.
  • The first email was sent between two computers that were actually sitting beside each other. However, the ARPANET network was used as the connection between the two.
  • It was the first system able to send mail between users on different hosts connected to the ARPAnet.
  • At first, his email messaging system wasn’t thought to be a big deal. When Tomlinson showed it to his colleague Jerry Burchfiel, he said “Don’t tell anyone! This isn’t what we’re supposed to be working on.”
  •  In 2012, Tomlinson was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame by the Internet Society.

Chinese New Year

  • Chinese New Year is Sunday, February 10, 2013. The new year will be the Year of the Snake.
  • Where do all of these calendars come from? Why is this a different?  Let’s talk calendars.
  • Purely lunar calendars — Those which are based on the natural cycles of the Moon, which have months which attempt to stay as closely as possible in sync with the lunar phases, and whose years (composed of months) have no close relation with the solar cycle, for example, the Muslim Calendar.
  • Purely solar calendars — Those which are based on the cycle of the seasons, which results from the motion of the Earth around the Sun (and the fact that the Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted significantly with respect to the Earth’s plane of rotation about the Sun.
  • The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, incorporating elements of a lunar calendar with those of a solar calendar. It is not exclusive to China, but followed by many other Asian cultures as well.
  • In most of East Asia today, the Gregorian calendar is used for day-to-day activities, but the Chinese calendar is still used for marking traditional East Asian holidays such as the Chinese New Year, the Duan Wu festival, and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
  • In general, the year in Chinese calendar begins at the day with dark moon which near to the vernal beginning. It is also known as the Spring Festival.

Top 7 Tech Skills For 2013

  • Cloud Computing — Companies are looking for software developers who specialize in things like virtualization and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) development, with familiarity with Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) technologies. According to one survey of IT execs, 25% of companies are planning on hiring people with SaaS and related cloud-computing expertise in 2013.
  • IT Project Management — One of the most sought-after tech job skills isn’t all that technical. Certified project managers can earn six figure incomes and why 40% of IT executives are looking to hire project managers in 2013.
  • 5. JavaScript (And Related Technologies) — On the Web, JavaScript is what makes things interactive, especially now that the rise of tablets and smartphones has bumped Flash from prominence.
  • Whether it’s the  jQuery framework or the JSON data interchange standard, companies need JavaScript talent. JSON is the most in-demand skill on CyberCoders. JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is a lightweight data-interchange format. It is easy for humans to read and write. It is easy for machines to parse and generate. Go to If you are just starting, go begin with the jQuery framework.
  • Java / J2EE (Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition) — Java and the J2EE development platform are popping up more and more on job hiring boards. Java/J2EE developers are going to be in high demand throughout 2013, according to a survey from Dice.
  • PHP / MySQL —The open source scripting language runs on more than 20 million websites and powers high-profile sites we deal with every day, including Facebook and Wikipedia. Any blog, news site or other website built using WordPress or Drupal is making use of PHP as well.
  • PHP is currently ranked as the most sought-after skill on Elance, with MySQL and WordPress also cracking the top ten. There are more than a quarter of a million PHP programming gigs listed on Elance alone.
  • iOS Development — As Apple’s sales in both tablets and smartphones has exploded, so too has the demand for developers who can build apps for the iOS ecosystem. After years of slow but steady growth, demand for iOS development skyrocketed over the course of 2011 and 2012, according to data from the job aggregator site Indeed.
  • HTML5 / CSS — This simple markup language is literally what the Web is made of, with cascading style sheets (CSS) making everything look nice and JavaScript adding interactive functionality. It’s only natural that the language at the heart of the Web would be in high demand. HTML5 sites may even replace apps in the future, as developers strive to become platform independent.

Course Of the Week: Creative Learning from MIT

  • MIT is offering a free course in creative learning.
  • Learning Creative Learning is a course offered at the MIT Media Lab.
  • It introduces ideas and strategies for designing technologies to support creative learning.
  • This semester, for the first time, P2PU and the Media Lab are working together to bring the course online.
  • They are opening up the seminars, course materials, and hands-on activities to anyone with a computer and Internet access.
  • Each week the course will focus on a particular topic related to creative learning, such as “Interest-Based Learning” or “Powerful Ideas” or “Tinkering.”
  • Web address to sign up:

Cause Found for Blackout in Big Game

  • Entergy New Orleans announced Friday that a power relay was responsible for the Superdome power failure.
  • The device had been installed to protect the Superdome from a cable failure between the company’s incoming power line and the lines that run into the stadium.
  • The device has since been removed and will be replaced.
  • The power failure stopped the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers early in the third quarter, and seemed to switch the momentum from what appeared to be a rout by the Ravens to one of the most thrilling Super Bowls.
  • The Superdome never went completely dark — a few banks of lights remained on throughout the delay — but the light was dim, the scoreboards were black, and CBS lost much of its ability to broadcast.
  • Entergy and SMG, which manages the Superdome, had upgraded electrical lines and other equipment in the months before the Super Bowl. The faulty relay was part of a $4.2 million upgrade by Entergy. Entergy officials were scheduled to appear before a committee of the City Council on Friday to explain the blackout.

Super Bowl Tech Ads

  • My favorite was Best Buy – Amy Poehler, the “Parks and Recreation” and ex-“Saturday Night Live” star rattles off rapid-fire consumer tech questions while playfully sexually harassing a Best Buy clerk.  My favorite one liner from the ad: Can I use a dongle with this? Does it make you uncomfortable when I use the word ‘dongle’?”
  • My least favorite was Go Daddy –A red faced nerd kisses Bar Rafaeli, a super model. It was supposed to highlight Go Daddy’s slogan, “When Sexy Meets Smart.” It works because we all know Go Daddy as a domain name registrar.
  • My weirdest was BlackBerry –Tried to show what the phone was not. A guy uses the new BlackBerry Z10 to set himself on fire, grow elephant legs and magically turn an out-of-control big rig into an exploding pile of rubber duckies. Perhaps the dumbest tech ad I have ever seen.