Email and Forum Questions
- Email from Jim: Dr. Shurtz: I have a question about loading music and great programming such as the Tech Talk radio podcast to my iPod Nano. Currently, I don’t have a computer at home, but I do have WiFi in my apartment building. I’d really like to get an iPad. It’s the perfect size and will do just about everything I’d like it to do except that I can’t access iTunes and sync it to the Nano. Or can I? What do you suggest? Signed: Confused and befuddled on the other side of the control board from you.
- Tech Talk Responds: There is no WiFi hardware in the Nano which is why it cannot use iCloud. The only way to use iCloud is to use a computer with iTunes synced to the iCloud. If you assign the iPod Nano to that iTunes account, it will sync with the computer. If you want to sync to iCloud using Wi-Fi, you will need to upgrade to the iPod Touch….but then you might as well just use your iPhone.
- Email from H. Hua in Ohio: Dear Doc. I recently installed Picasa and activated the face recognition software. It worked perfectly. Then I read that the same software is being used to track photos in Facebook and that face recognition is being used to track citizens as they walk around town. Someone told me that even casinos are using it. I am worried that too much tracking may violate my privacy. It this a real risk? Love the show. Thanks, H. Hua in Ohio.
- Tech Talk Responds: Google’s Picasa digital image organizer has a built in face recognition. OpenBR Open source face recognition system and research platform for biometric algorithm development.
- Windows Live Photo Gallery includes face recognition.
- The London Borough of Newham, in the UK, previously trialed a facial recognition system built into their borough-wide CCTV system. The German Federal Police use a facial recognition system to allow voluntary subscribers to pass fully automated border controls at Frankfurt Rhein-Main international airport. The Australian Customs Service has an automated border processing system called Smart Gate that uses facial recognition. The Pennsylvania Justice Network searches crime scene photographs and CCTV footage in the mug shot database of previous arrests.
- U.S. Department of State operates one of the largest face recognition systems in the world with over 75 million photographs that is actively used for visa processing.
- At Super Bowl XXXV in January 2001, police in Tampa Bay, Florida used Viisage facial recognition software to search for potential criminals and terrorists in attendance at the event. 19 people with minor criminal records were identified.
- Casinos are said to be using to identify gamblers who game the system and consistently win big, like card counting at the Blackjack table.
- Expect the technology to show up on ATM’s and mobile devices. The android market is working with facial recognition and integrating it into their cell phones. They have created an application called Visidon Applock.
- Email from Benoit in New Jersey: Dear Tech Talk, I recently purchased a Windows 7 Acer laptop for work. I travel quite often and am worried about it being stolen. Is there some type of tracking software that I can buy to locate my laptop in the event it disappears. Thanks, Benoit in New Jersey
- Tech Talk Responds: The program that I like the best is Absolute Software’s LoJack for Laptops. Most major manufacturers include code for LoJack for Laptops in their laptop BIOSes. That way, your laptop can be tracked even after the thieves have wiped the hard drive. Manufacturers that support LoJack include: Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, Lenovo, Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba, and few no names. Sony is not covered. If yours lacks the BIOS support, you can still use LoJack’s software, but that doesn’t provide the same level of security. The services costs around $40 dollars per year and reportedly gets good recovery rates.
- For Mac users, popular methods to do this include Find My Mac from Apple, Prey from PreyProject and Orbicule’s Undercover.
- Email from Lauren: Dr. Richard Shurtz, On April 10 when I logged off the Dell Inspiron (I’ve had for about 11 years) running MS XP OS, MS had updates. I installed about 8–all that were available– but didn’t pay attention to what they were. Now, I get a prompt that my login password is going to expire in 14 days…. I haven’t been prompted to enter it for some time!! I don’t remember what the password is. OK, I am an idiot….Is there anything I can now do to remove the password requirement when I don’t know what the password is?? Most appreciate your help. All the best, Lauren.
- Tech Talk Responds: I am not convinced that the password you are talking about is your user password. XP user passwords, even they administrative rights, do not expire. Perhaps your computer is trying to connect to an email account that has a required password change in 14 days. If you have forgotten you admin password, it is easy to reset it. There are a number of software options here. My favorite is: 1.Stellar Phoenix Password Recovery (http://forgottenpassword.org/recover-windows-administrator-password/). It is a simple startup utility resets a forgotten admin or users’ password using a familiar Windows-like program interface instead of command-line. Good luck.
- Email from Shel in North Carolina: Dear Doc and Jim. I would like to print remotely over the Internet. I have heard that I can use Google Cloud printing. However, my printer is not Google Cloud ready. Do I have to buy another printer or is there a work around. Love the show. Shel in North Carolina.
- Tech Talk Responds: Google Cloud printing can be accessed from any Chrome browser. If you currently have the stable release of Chrome, you will need to install the latest beta release to get cloud printing to work. You will need to set up a Cloud Printing account and adding printer to it. It your printer is Google Cloud enabled, it will be connected directly to the cloud without the need of a computer. If it is not Cloud Enabled, you will need to have a computer connected to the Internet in order to share this printer with the Cloud. Setting up the Google Cloud printer account is easy. You will need a Gmail account. You will simply use your Gmail user name and password. Any document you want to print must be viewed using Chrome. I have installed a Chrome browser on my iPhone so that I can print documents at home directly from my iPhone without using AirPrint.
- Email from Josh: Hi, My name is Josh. I was wondering how to further my computer. I general computer knowledge and would like to improve them. I am not sure where to start. What are some good areas to get started? Thanks, Josh
- Tech Talk Responds: Josh, I would get some experience with operating systems. You might download a free version Linux to install on your computer. Set up a virtual machine using the free version of VMware. If you are so inclined you might install a version of Apache Webserver to make a web server at home. You should start learning a program language. You might start with Visual Basic and then move to Java. There are many free online resources for you to use. When my son was learning computers, he built a couple of his own computers at home. It is relatively easy and he learned how to spec and troubleshoot hardware. You might download a free version MySQL, an open source database. You could begin working on some simply SQL applications. The way to learn computers is to play around with hardware and software. The more you become comfortable learning new things, trying new things, the more valuable you will be to employers. You might volunteer to do some IT helpdesk activities at your school. Subscribe to some industry rags. Go to user groups, like the PC Users Group, Apple Pi, Linux Users Groups, Oracle Users Groups, etc. They would love to help a young enthusiastic learner and you make some great contacts.
- Email from a Woman in Tech: Dear Doc. Can we please have you talk about this book, To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov? Thanks. Woman who works in tech and whose right wrist hurts all the time.
- Tech Talk Responds: Evgeny Morozov argues that the proliferation of sensors, big data, and social networks have given policymakers the irresistible temptation to solve problems that, perhaps, should not be solved at all — or only solved via democratic debate, not nifty technological fixes.
- He asks, how will such “solutionism” affect our society, once deeply political, moral, and irresolvable dilemmas are recast as uncontroversial and easily manageable matters of technological efficiency? The temptation of the digital age is to fix everything—from crime to corruption to pollution to obesity—by digitally quantifying, tracking, or gamifying behavior.
- To Save Everything, Click Here warns against a world of seamless efficiency, where everyone is forced to wear Silicon Valley’s digital straitjacket. The problem with his premise is that he assumes that all of these technological fixes will be accepted by society. Like the digital kitchen, the fitbit. He has bought all of the hype of Silicon Valley, but has not captured what is really successful. He quotes Silicon Valley bloggers who buy the hype. Human will not become robots in an algorithm driven world. We will rebel….and use what part of technology makes our lives more meaningful.
Profiles in IT: Cecil Howard Green
- Cecil Howard Green was a geophysicist who was co-founder of Texas Instruments.
- Cecil Howard Green was born August 6, 1900 in Whitefield, England.
- Green and his family migrated to Nova Scotia, Toronto, Canada and San Francisco, where he witnessed his first earthquake in 1906.
- The family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where Green attended UBC for two years before transferring to MIT, earning a BSEE in 1923 and an MSEE in 1924.
- For six years, Green worked as an engineer for various electronics companies, including GE, Raytheon, Wireless Specialty, and Federal Telegraph.
- He got his big break in 1930. He accepted a accepted a job in Oklahoma from Eugene McDermott as chief of a seismographic field crew for Geophysical Service Inc.
- Founded in May 1930 in Dallas, Texas, GSI was one of the first prospecting companies established to perform reflection seismic exploration for petroleum.
- In 1941, Green and three partners – J. Erik Jonsson, Eugene McDermott and H.B. Peacock – bought GSI when they heard that the owners planned to sell.
- Green borrowed money, took out a mortgage, committed his and Ida’s insurance policies as collateral and scraped together everything they owned to pay his share.
- The deal closed on December 6, 1941, the day before Pearl Harbor was bombed.
- GSI had developed a towed magnetometer for oil exploration. It was not particularly useful for finding oil but very useful indeed for finding enemy submarines.
- GSI became a geophysical exploration service leader. However, it was the electronics work begun during World War II that was to make important technology history.
- In 1951, the company’s name was changed to Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI), and GSI became a wholly owned subsidiary of TI.
- Eventually, Green served as VP, President, and Chairman of GSI.
- In 1952, TI purchased the license to manufacture transistors from Western Electric.
- TI created a Semiconductor Products Division in 18 months.
- In 1954, TI designed and manufactured the first transistor radio. The Regency TR-1 used germanium transistors, as silicon transistors were much more expensive.
- TI researcher, Jack Kilby, invented the first integrated circuit, or transistorized logic circuit, on September 12, 1958.
- Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, TI in 2004 had $12.6 billion in revenues ($10.9B Semiconductor) with more than 34,000 employees worldwide.
- Green was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1970.
- The growth of TI made Green a wealthy man, and he and Ida quickly set about giving his wealth away, contributed more than $200 million to education and medicine.
- Cecil Howard Green died in 2003 at the age of 102.
- He was given an honorary knighthood in 1991 (at age 91) by Queen Elizabeth II.
First Integrated Circuit – The Back Story
- As with many inventions, two people had the idea for an integrated circuit at almost the same time.
- One day in late July, Jack Kilby was sitting alone at Texas Instruments. He had been hired only a couple of months earlier and so he wasn’t able to take vacation time when practically everyone else did.
- The halls were deserted, and he had lots of time to think. It suddenly occurred to him that all parts of a circuit, not just the transistor, could be made out of silicon.
- At the time, nobody was making capacitors or resistors out of semiconductors.
- If it could be done then the entire circuit could be built out of a single crystal — making it smaller and much easier to produce.
- Kilby’s boss liked the idea, and told him to get to work. By September 12, Kilby had built a working model, and on February 6, Texas Instruments filed a patent. Their first “Solid Circuit” the size of a pencil point, was shown off for the first time in March.
- But over in California, another man had similar ideas.
- In January of 1959, Robert Noyce was working at the small Fairchild Semiconductor startup company. He also realized a whole circuit could be made on a single chip.
- While Kilby had hammered out the details of making individual components, Noyce thought of a much better way to connect the parts.
- That spring, Fairchild began a push to build what they called “unitary circuits” and they also applied for a patent on the idea.
- Knowing that TI had already filed a patent on something similar, Fairchild wrote out a highly detailed application, hoping that it wouldn’t infringe on TI ‘s similar device.
- All that detail paid off. On April 25, 1961, the patent office awarded the first patent for an integrated circuit to Robert Noyce while Kilby’s application was still being analyzed.
- Today, both men are acknowledged as having independently conceived of the idea.
Stanford Creates Biological Transistor
- Bioengineers at Stanford University have created the first biological transistor made from genetic materials: DNA and RNA.
- Dubbed the “transcriptor,” this biological transistor is the final component required to build biological computers that operate inside living cells.
- We are now close to biological computers that can detect changes in a cell’s environment, store a record of that change in memory made of DNA, and then trigger some kind of response.
- Stanford’s transcriptor is essentially the biological analog of the digital transistor.
- Where transistors control the flow of electricity, transcriptors control the flow of RNA polymerase as it travels along a strand of DNA.
- Like a transistor, which enables a small current to turn on a larger one, one of the key functions of transcriptors is signal amplification.
- A tiny change in the enzyme’s activity (the transcriptor’s gate) can cause a very large change in the two connected genes (the channel).
- By combining multiple transcriptors, the Stanford researchers have created a full suite of Boolean Integrase Logic (BIL) gates — the biological equivalent of AND, NAND, OR, XOR, NOR, and XNOR logic gates.
- With these BIL gates, a biological computer could perform almost computation inside a living cell.
- You need more than just BIL gates to make a computer, though. You also need somewhere to store data, and some way to connect all of the transcriptors and memory together.
- Harvard has used DNA to store 700 terabytes of data one gram of DNA.
- Stanford has already developed an ingenious method of using the M13 virus to transmit strands of DNA between cells.
- In short, all of the building blocks of a biological computer are now in place.
- Stanford has contributed the BIL gate design to the public domain.
- Biological computers might be used as an early-warning system for disease, or simply as a diagnostic tool.
- Biological computers could tell their host cells to stop producing insulin, to pump out more adrenaline, to reproduce some healthy cells to combat disease, or to stop reproducing if cancer is detected.
- Biological computers will probably eliminate the use of many pharmaceutical drugs.
Apple Will Replace Water-Damaged iPhones
- Court documents show that Apple has agreed to pay $53 million to settle a class action lawsuit filed by countless iPhone and iPod Touch owners who claim that the company failed to honor its own warranty.
- The consumer complaints all revolve around a little strip of tape inside the phone known as the Liquid Contact Indicator (LCI) that’s supposed to indicate whether or not the device has sustained water damage. If so, the tape would turn pink.
- So for a long time, if an Apple employee opened up a malfunctioning iPhone or iPod at the Genius Bar and found pink tape, the warranty was immediately voided and the consumer invited to buy a new phone.
- There’s only one problem with this patented magic tape technique that the Geniuses used to determine which phones had been dropped in a toilet and which had simply stopped working. The tape didn’t work.
- The tape’s maker, 3M, said humidity, and not water contact, could have caused the color to at least turn pink. In other words, Apple was punishing people who lived in humid climates. Arizonans were probably fine. Alabamans were certainly screwed.
- Apple must’ve known that there was a problem for a while. A little over two years ago, the company announced that it would no longer rule out a replacement “if the customer disputes whether” the LCI had been triggered. As long as there was not corrosion present on the phone, Apple would allow for some leeway.
- The money will be enough to compensate those in the class about $200, though it applies only to early iPhone models (original, 3G and 3Gs) and the first three generations of iPod Touches.
Google Launches Tool to Specify Data Use after Death.
- Google will allow users to decide what happens to their data after they die or become inactive online, the first major company to deal with the sensitive issue.
- The feature applies to email, social network Google Plus and other accounts.
- Google said users can opt to have their data deleted after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. Alternatively, certain contacts can be sent data from some or all of their services.
- However, the company said it would text a provided number or email a secondary email address to warn users before any action is taken.
- Other companies have also attempted to tackle the questions that raises after a person’s death. Facebook, as an example, allows users to “memorialize” an account.