Show of 11-23-2013

Tech Talk

November23, 2013

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Chris: Doc…Love the show, BUT… If William Cleland Lowe was born in 1941, it’s not possible for him to have died at age 82. Chris.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Chris, I just double checked. You are correct 2013 minus 1941 is 72. Thanks for listening and correcting my errors.
  • Email from LedbyBrain: Dr. Shurtz, I will be 63 yrs old in Feb 2014. I have been working for the last decade as a tech writer. I have to find another kind of work b/c I have no passion or interest in this anymore. Prior to this I worked in the legal community as an intellectual property researcher. Law firms discriminate against older workers as I have had HR Directors tell me this is why I never am called for an interview when I submit my resume for jobs I clearly am qualified to do well. What kind of IT path of training can I get on that:
    • Can really lead to a job that pays a house payment?
    • In a field that will not discriminate against older workers?
    • Will be quicker than a multiyear degree?
  • I have a liberal arts education now. I am in good health and want to work for another 10 yrs. if I can find something I can be passionate about! BTW, how many older students does Stratford enroll? Older meaning over 55? Thanks, LedbyBrain
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is the classic dilemma and one that is worth talking about in some detail. There are two sides to this story. One is getting something that you are passionate about; the second is penetrating the HR shield so that you can talk to the right person. We have many people to come to Stratford to pursue their passion. If you already have a degree many on the credits will transfers so that you only need to pursue the courses needed for an IT degree. You might also consider taking some undergraduate bridge courses and getting into a Master’s program in software engineering.
  • My sister was in a similar dilemma after having taught elementary school for over 20 years. She ended up getting a BSIT from Stratford and is now working for DISA with a security clearance. The key to placement is networking and joining user groups and working on real projects. My sister was older, but had the ability to speak to the user (actually teach the user) and her maturity meant that she was always the adults in the room. Everyone one else was younger and mostly male. She is now over 60 and quite happy with her new career. In your case, you might pursue a Business Analyst position with a Software Engineering Degree. I would probably have to talk with the IT program chair at the Falls Church campus.
  • Email from Arnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz, Interesting article re broadband fees in different parts of the world. Guess we don’t have things so bad here with Verizon after all. You use various methods for reducing fees on your phone when traveling overseas, but for those who live in those places, broadband can be a bit pricy.  Arnie, Davidsonville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: Interesting article about internet access in the rest of the world. It clearly shows that developing countries are having trouble delivering bandwidth at a reasonable price. There are spots with great access near metropolitan areas with businesses, but the rural areas are lacking. We are fortunate in the US that even our rural areas have reasonable access.
  • Email from Steve Singal: Hi Doc and Jim, A program named “Sweetpack” has become entrenched in my PC! When I try to uninstall it gives message” unable to remove since a file can’t be located” and then goes in a loop so I can’t remove it or any other program since it says “please wait until the current uninstall is over”. Doc how to remove this leech from my PC? Your loyal listener Steve Singal, Potomac, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: Sweetpacks is an adware program, which is promoted via other free downloads, and once installed it will add to your browser the Sweetpacks Toolbar, change your homepage to and set your browser default search engine to Sweetpacks search will display advertisements and sponsored links in your search results, and may collect search terms from your search queries. Sweetpacks Toolbar got on your computer after you have installed another free software or add-on that had bundled into their installer this browser hijacker.  For example, when you install SweetIM, SweetPCFix or GamePacks, you will also agree to install the Sweetpacks Toolbar, change your browser homepage to , and default search engine to  However, when you uninstall these programs from your computer, your web browser’s default settings will not be restored. This means that you’ll have to remove from your favorite web browser manually.
  • Link to uninstall tips:
  • Dear Dr. Shurtz. Many months back I downloaded, installed and successfully used the TOR browser on my iMAC. I don’t use this browser a lot and when I just went to use it last night I got the below proxy server error message and could not figure out how to get rid of it. I have a smart IT friend and wrote to him this issue and he’s suggested that I uninstall and reinstall TOR. My friend also raised some concerning issues. Is Verizon blocking my access? If so, what can I do? Should I uninstall/reinstall TOR? In case you haven’t followed the Snowden revelations, the NSA apparently targets people who use TOR. I’m not sure what that means, however. Thanks, Lauren
  • Tech Talk Responds: There was a bug in some recent TOR releases. They were connecting with the wrong Proxy port. You can edit the script and change the port from 9050 to 9151, but most agree that it is easier to simply uninstall and reinstall the latest version with the bug fixed. Many users had the same problem that you encountered. I do not think that Verizon is tracking or blocking your TOR session. They are encrypted and not much use to them. As for the NSA. Their release of TOR has a version of Firefox that they can hack to track your session using an exploit. I would suggest that you do not use the Firefox provided with TOR. Rather you should download your own version with the exploit fixed. Then you are secure, at least more secure until they find another exploit.
  • Question for the Falls Church CIS Club: Dear Tech Talk. What do you think will happen to development of electronics in the next 20 years since electronics are continuously getting smaller? Will there be a point where they can’t make electronic devices any smaller? Thanks Christopher Wagner, Falls Church CIS club.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Transistor density has doubled pretty reliably about every 18 months or so since the dawn of the information age — you might know this as “Moore’s Law.” But quantum effects that threatening to end this movement to smaller devices. Carbon nanotubes — long chains of carbon atoms thousands of times thinner than a human hair — have the potential to be more energy-efficient and “take us at least an order of magnitude in performance beyond where you can project silicon could take us. A research team at Stanford has made a proof of principle circuit comprised on 176 transistors using carbon nanotubes.
  • Theoretical work has also suggested that a carbon nanotube computer would be an order of magnitude more energy efficient than the best silicon computers. And the nanomaterial’s ability to dissipate heat suggests that carbon nanotube computers might run blisteringly fast without heating up—a problem that sets speed limits on the silicon processors in today’s computers.
  • Still, some people doubt that carbon nanotubes will replace silicon. Working with carbon nanotubes is a big challenge. They are typically grown in a way that leaves them in a tangled mess, and about a third of the tubes are metallic, rather than semiconducting, which causes short-circuits. Imperfections are the barrier now. It could mean that Moore’s Law will continue for at least a little while longer.
  • The next breakthrough will be quantum computing. A quantum computer (also known as a quantum supercomputer) is a computation device that makes direct use of quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform operations on data. Quantum computers are different from digital computers based on transistors. Whereas digital computers require data to be encoded into binary digits (bits), quantum computation uses quantum properties to represent data and perform operations on these data.
  • In April 2011, a team of scientists from Australia and Japan made a breakthrough in quantum teleportation. They successfully transferred a complex set of quantum data with full transmission integrity achieved. Also the qubits being destroyed in one place but instantaneously resurrected in another, without affecting their superposition.
  • In September 2011 researchers also proved that a quantum computer can be made with a Von Neumann architecture (separation of RAM). In November 2011 researchers factorized 143 using 4 qubits. In February 2012 IBM scientists said that they had made several breakthroughs in quantum computing with superconducting integrated circuits that put them on the cusp of building systems that will take computing to a whole new level.

Profiles in IT: Ryan Allis

  • Ryan Allis was the co-founder and CEO iContact, an email marketing company.
  • Allis was born in 1984 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and grew up in Bradenton, FL.
  • At age 11, Allis set up a consulting business that, for $5 an hour, taught local senior citizens how to use AOL and send pics. He earned $500 that summer.
  • At age 14, Allis started doing website design. At age 16, he a Web marketing consultancy Virante. He still owns Virante, which employs 12 staffers.
  • He graduated from Manatee High School in Bradenton, Florida.
  • In 2003, he went to UNC-Chapel Hill for college, where he met Aaron Houghton.
  • Within three days of meeting, the two had the idea for iContact: They use a tool that Houghton had developed to help small businesses manage e-mail marketing.
  • The company ran lean and struggled with cash flow. Houghton and Allis got a $5,000 loan from a friend to keep them afloat after being turned down by a bank.
  • Those first dollars went into hiring a customer service person to handle the phones.
  • Every additional dollar went into Google AdWords, their marketing strategy.
  • By gathering data over several years, iContact was able to show that, for every dollar they put in to marketing, they got back a customer and generate predictable revenue.
  • In 2008, Allis wrote a book on entrepreneurship called Zero to One Million
  • By 2010, iContact generated $26.5 million in revenue had raised a total of $18M from NC IDEA, North Atlantic Capital and Updata Partners.
  • Allis studied economics at the UNC, graduated in 2011, and spoke at commencement.
  • In 2011, gave a TEDx talk  where he focused on creating a better world.
  • Allis created the 4-1s Corporate Social Responsibility Program through which the company donated 1% of payroll, product, employee time, and company equity.
  • In February 2012, they sold iContact to Vocus for $169M.
  • Following the sale of iContact, Allis and his co-founder Aaron Houghton established a $1.2M Scholarship Program for the children of past employees.
  • Allis founded the HumanityFund, an impact investing fund investing in firms in Kenya, Uganda, and the United States.
  • He was about to take a trip to Kenya to visit some investments there and wanted to see on a map all the people he knew who were in Kenya. There was nothing out there that mapped all your friends and contacts–so he decided to build it.
  • In May 2012, he began working on Connect, his latest startup to change the world.
  • He is a member of the UN Foundation Global Entrepreneur Council and has travelled the world on their behalf to help use technology to solve problems.
  • Allis was recognized by INC Magazine as one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30, by Ernst & Young as the Entrepreneur of the Year for the Carolinas.
  • He is now pursuing an MBA at Harvard, in addition to his charity work.
  • He an avid autodidact and a freestyle rapper, often getting into late night flows.

David Burd Surprise Visit: Cellphones on Airplanes

  • FCC will allow electronic devices and cell phones on airplanes.
  • They will allow airlines to make their own policy for electronic devices
  • There has never been a real technical reason for the the ban.
  • FCC is tired of being the fall guy for this policy.
  • Now the marketplace can decide what it wants and where.
  • Tech Talk request: no phone calls on flights, only text messaging and email.
  • Other random topics: Waze, satellite phone on airplanes, Christmas gifts for techies coming soon.

Selfie named Word of the Year

  • “Selfie” has been named as word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries.
  • The word has evolved from a niche social media tag into a mainstream term for a self-portrait photograph.
  • Research suggested its frequency in the English language had increased by 17,000% in the last year.
  • Other shortlisted words included “twerk” – a raunchy dance move performed by Miley Cyrus – and “binge-watch” – meaning watching lots of TV.
  • “Schmeat”, meaning a form of meat synthetically produced from biological tissue, was also a contender.

Tech Giants Help After Typhoon in Philippines

  • Facebook and Twitter have placed ad-like banners at the top of their main timelines — or “streams” — directing those who click on the banner to donate money to outside relief organizations.
  • Funneled through the American Red Cross and NetHope, the donations will go to aid those bringing food, water and relief supplies to Tacloban, the city in the Philippines decimated last week by super typhoon Haiyan.
  • The banner campaign is a way for both Facebook and Twitter — home to nearly 1.5 billion monthly active users combined — to help spread word of relief efforts in a relatively lightweight manner.
  • Facebook’s News Feed and Twitter’s home timeline are by far the two most visible and active areas, and thus a prominent way to help promote a cause.
  • Facebook was the first network to solicit its users for donations, and has made similar efforts during past major disasters.
  • Twitter joined shortly thereafter with its own timeline ad, while other sites like the Yahoo-owned Tumblr and Apple’s iTunes solicited for donations to other organizations through their respective platforms.
  • Google created its own “missing persons” tool specifically for survivors of the typhoon, matching those seeking Tacloban residents with others who may have information about them.
  • Twitter, too, has introduced creative, tech-oriented solutions to natural disasters. Two months ago the company rolled out an emergency alerts system in the United States, allowing official organizations to distribute urgent relief information to Twitter users via mobile notifications.