Show of 12-28-2013

Tech Talk

December 28, 2013

Best of Tech Talk Edition

•           Replaying segments from previous shows.

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Kristi: Dear Tech Talk. I let my son play with my iPhone. He deleted the Message icon. I don’t know how to get it back. Please help. Love the show. Kristi in Fairfax.
  • Tech Talk Responds: In cannot undelete the Message icon once it is deleted. The program is still installed, the icon is just gone. To restore the icon, you can to reset the home screen, Go to settings/General/Reset.  Click Reset Home Screen Layout. This will restore the Message icon. I will also change the position of the default icons to their original location. Installed apps will be unchanged.
  • Email from a Devoted Listener in Bethesda: Dear Dr. Shurtz. I need to identify a software app that build a ‘custom dictionary’ of disallowed terms. Once this list of custom disallowed words is built I need to compare it to a PDF document and have all the disallowed terms highlighted. I have painfully learned this can’t be done in MS WORD because our custom disallowed words can’t be words in the WORD provided dictionary. My workplace can’t afford the Cadillac app though please do name the BEST Tool and then a few cheaper alternates. Thanks!  Bethesda devoted listener
  • Tech Talk Responds: The best options I could find is a shareware program called Batch Word Highlighter 3.0. It is $49.95 and can be downloaded from the web at this location: Beware I have not tested this software, but it looks cheap enough to give it a try.
  • Email from Lauren in Bethesda: Dear Dr. Shurtz, my tech guy, I am hoping you might pull a rabbit out of your hat and solve my current iMac and HP printer handshake dilemma. I have a HP Office Jet all-in-one G85 printer that works fine and I would like to continue using it. I own an iMac since Jan 2013 and have a working HP Office Jet all-in-one (that works now on a pc -Dell Inspiron- that I now hardly use and is over 6 years old.. HP’s drivers for my G85 printer (model C6735 or C6737) stop around MAC OS X 10.4 (2005). I called AppleCare and they there said I should download the basic printer driver for a MAC HP posted and we did. I installed this HP printer driver ‘basic printer driver’ on the iMac. Though printer seems to be understood to be online and ready on my iMac, I can’t get it to print a single page.  Do you know of a workaround?
  • In the event I’m forced to get a printer upgrade. Can you offer some guidance on a newer printer that is like an HP all-in-one that allows printing/faxing/scanning and copying that works on an iMAC? I’ve been told that I ought to not get another HP printer by a friend who is another smart tech guy :). Thanks!    Lauren Bethesda
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are right there are not HP drivers available for anything beyond OS X 10.4. Some have gotten it to work on 10.5 according to the forums, but none have gotten it to work on anything more recent. Many of the first generation USB printers seemed to have problems with their USB ports not being quite up to specs.  That seems to be the case with the HP G85. Combine that with lack of support for the scanner and it just isn’t worth it.
  • As for a new printer, I can’t tell your requirements well enough, Do you need a scanner, fax, printer…or just a printer. What is your print volume? In the long run ink cartridges are your largest expense.
  • Email from Arnie McKechnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz, You’ve mentioned on Tech Talk you use iCloud with your Apple iPhone and iPad. There are several MyCloud systems that act like iCloud, but the Cloud remains at home and not on a Cloud  server.
  •  There are:  Western Digital’s My Cloud, Seagate’s Central, NetGear’s Centria WNDR4720,  Lacle’s Cloudbox, Iomega’s Home Media Networked Hard Drive, Cloud Edition. What do you think of these Cloud systems? Seems there is more security of having something at home than on a Cloud server somewhere. Wonder if they work with Apple devices? Thanks, Arnie McKechnie, Davidsonville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you choose to manage your own cloud storage, there are now many options for Network Addressed Storage. The paid services are encrypted and quite secure, but you do have a monthly fee in some cases. If you manage you own storage, security and reliability are now your responsibility. Make certain to get a RAID device with redundancy. At a minimum that would mean two mirrored drives, so if one fails you can simply replace it without any data loss. If someone steals the drive, your data is gone. So secure your NAS device out of sight in the event of a break-in. If you need uptime guarantees, you will need a backup power supply. This is probably not needed in your case. Ease of use depends on the software suite provided for backup, picture sharing etc.
  • Email from John in Woodbridge: Dear Tech Talk. I have to email some very large attachments. They keep getting rejected by the recipients’ mail service. What are my options? Thanks John in Woodbridge:
  •  Tech Talk Responds: I have two standard methods to transfer large files. My first option is to use Gmail. Gmail can accept large attachments. I think their limit is around 20MB. I know that a Tech Talk file is around 14MB and I always send it using Gmail. If the attachment is much bigger, you can upload the file to a storage area and send the link to the stored file. By uploading and sending a link, you’re giving your recipient a choice to download or not.
  • There are many possibilities for an upload site. I like to use Dropbox. After you install Dropbox, simply copy the file that you want to share into a folder within your Dropbox folder. Then right-click that file and click the Dropbox share link item: Dropbox places a link in your clipboard. As part of Dropbox’s operation, the file was uploaded to the Dropbox servers. This link is valid anywhere that Dropbox can be reached on the internet.  If you update or alter the file in your Dropbox folder, the server copy will be updated as well, and the link will point to your updated copy.
  • Just remember to give the upload process enough time to actually upload the file from your machine before sharing the link with someone. Depending on the speed of your internet connection and the size of the file, this could take some time.
  • Other cloud storage services like Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Google Drive, and Box. If you’re primarily sharing pictures,  use a free photo sharing site like Google’s Picasa, Yahoo’s Flickr, or any of a number of other alternatives. •If you’re primarily sharing videos, use YouTube.

Profiles in IT: Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

  • “Amazing Grace” Hopper was Born December 9, 1906 to Walter and Mary Murray in New York City .
  • BA, Mathematics and Physics, Vassar College , 1928; MA, Mathematics, Yale University , 1930; Ph.D., Mathematics, Yale University , 1934
  • Admiral Grace Hopper was a computer programmer and “mother” of COBOL programming language.
  • As a child, Hopper loved gadgets. She loved to take things apart.
  • In high school, she played basketball, field hockey and water polo.
  • When working towards her Ph.D., she was one of four women in a doctoral program of ten students. She is one of few women admirals in the history of the United States Navy. First female PhD in Mathematics from Yale.
  • In 1930 at the age of 23 she married Vincent Foster Hopper. They divorced in 1945
  • She was Associate Professor at Vassar College from 1931 to 1943
  • After Pearl Harbor , Hopper decided to serve her country during World War II.
    • She was commissioned a Lieutenant (JG) and was ordered to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University inn 1944
    • She became the first programmer on the Navy’s Mark I computer.
    • Hopper loved this 8 foot high, 8 foot wide gadget filled with relays, switches and vacuum tubes.
    • She traced an error in the Mark II to a moth trapped in a relay, coining the term bug.
  • In 1946, when Hopper was released from active duty, she joined the Harvard Faculty at the Computation Laboratory where she continued her work on the Mark II and Mark III.
  • In 1949 she joined the Eckert-Machly Computer Corporation (later called Sperry Rand) where she helped design the commercial computer called the UNIVAC
    • The UNIVAC operated a thousand times faster than the Mark I.
    • Perhaps her best-known contribution to computing was the invention of the compiler (1952), the intermediate program that translates English language instructions into the language of the target computer.
    • It was used by Flow-Matic the only existing business language
    • She then participated in the work to produce specifications for a common business language which would be called Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL). The specification was published in 1959.
    • COBOL was the first language that allowed a programmer to speak to the computer with words rather than numbers.
  • She was also famous for presenting a nanosecond. She would have a piece of wire, about a foot long, and explain that it represented a nanosecond, since it was the maximum distance electricity could travel in wire in one billionth of a second.
  • Admiral Hopper was also famous for a remark she made on television in 1983. She said ” It is much easier to apologize that to get permission”.
  • She received the first computer sciences “man-of-the-year” award from the Data Processing Management Association in 1969
  • First woman of any nationality to be made a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society

Science of Snowflakes – Is Every Snowflake Unique?

  • Can you ever be sure that no two are alike?
  • The short answer to the question is yes, since it is indeed extremely unlikely that two complex snowflakes will look exactly alike. Notice I said complex snowflake.
  • Variations caused by isotopes
    • If we restrict ourselves to water molecules which contain two ordinary hydrogen atoms and one ordinary oxygen atom, then again physics tells us that all such water molecules are exactly alike
    • However about one molecule out of every 5000 naturally occurring water molecules will contain an atom of deuterium in place of one of the hydrogens.
    • One in 500 will contain an atom of O (with an atomic weight of 18) instead of the more common oxygen (with an atomic weight of 16).
    • Since a typical small snow crystal might contain 1018 water molecules, we see that about 1015 of these molecules will be different from the rest.
    • The probability that two snow crystals would have exactly the same layout of these molecules is very, very, very small.
    • Even with 1024 crystals per year, the odds of it happening within the lifetime of the Universe is indistinguishable from zero.
    • However, if we consider a crystals of only 10 molecules, here’s a reasonable probability that two would be exactly alike.
  • Variations caused by stacking faults
    • When a crystal grows, the molecules do not stack together with perfect regularity, so a typical snow crystal contains a huge number of crystal dislocations, which again are scattered throughout the crystal in a random fashion.
    • One can then argue, like with the isotopes, that the probability of two crystals growing with exactly the same pattern of dislocations is vanishingly small.
    • Again one has the exception of few-molecule crystals, which can easily be free of dislocations.
  • Variations caused by variable growth dynamics
    • The number of possible ways of making a complex snowflake is staggeringly large. Now when you look at a complex snow crystal, you can often pick out a hundred separate features if you look closely.
    • Since all those features could have grown differently, or ended up in slightly different places, the math is similar to that with the books.
  • Thus the number of ways to make a complex snow crystal is absolutely huge.

 How Technology Will Make Everyone A Great Photographer

  • At the end of May, the Chicago Sun-Times laid off all its staff photographers.
  • The paper would instead use newswires, freelancers, and reporters armed with iPhones.
  • It was not the first time traditional media turned to untrained photojournalists—consider the Instagram photos NBC published after the Boston Marathon bombing or CNN’s iReport—but it was the first time any outlet made a policy of doing so.
  • For the strategy to pay off, however, camera phone technology needs to support it in ways it currently doesn’t. Camera phones have improved dramatically in the last few years—the Nokia PureView sensor has 41 megapixels, and HTC’s newest sensor has larger pixels that grab more light—but they still suffer from one great shortfall: inadequate lenses.
  • About a year ago, engineers began to address the issue by putting cellular radios inside cameras, rather than attempting to cram cameras inside phones.
  • The 16.3-megapixel Samsung Galaxy Camera has a 4G radio and a 21-times zoom lens.
  • And the newer 20.3-megapixel Galaxy NX has an interchangeable lens mount. The Sony QX100, the newest offering in the lot, is the most extreme example.
  • The device is just a lens, sensor, and image processor, and users attach their smartphone as a viewfinder.
  • Editors will need software that selects the best images—not just the ones from the right place at the right time.
  • Connected cameras may improve the overall quality of crowd sourced images, but they will do little for the editors whose job it is to sort through them.
  • Current services provide a temporary solution.
  • With Scoopshot, a Helsinki software start-up, publishers can send photo assignments to the service’s network of 300,000-plus mobile users.
  • Stringwire, which NBC acquired in August, lets video producers request an uplink from anyone who has tweeted near an event of interest.
  • But to assure quality, editors will need software that automatically selects the best images—not just the ones taken in the right place at the right time.
  • That type of computer vision already exists on a small scale.
  • A recent update to Google+ analyzes groups of pictures for blurriness, aesthetics, landmarks, and exposure to pick out the most shareable ones.
  • The Sun-Times to benefit from that type of machine vision, the software will need to process larger image batches from multiple sources.
  •  In time, those pieces may come together, proving that the Sun-Times decision wasn’t foolish—it was just a bit before its time.

David Burd Guest Appearance

  • David and Dr. Shurtz talk about the WAZE app for traffic information and the reasoning behind the FAA’s decision to loosen restrictions on using electronic devices on commercial flights