Show of 07-19-2014

Tech Talk

July 19, 2014

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Ann in Bethesda: Dear Doc Shurtz. I would be grateful (and I suspect I am not alone) if you would devote a program to Internet privacy and security. Your level of awareness on this topic is likely significant where mine is too limited. I have been doing some YouTube searches on this and what I’ve come across is plenty concerning.  I believe I need a WHOLE new way to use my home computer on the net. I have an iMac, bought in 2013. For example: I have several Gmail accounts. I had a google voice account and had to kill it b/c some telemarketer got my number and has been calling me daily. Only after I cancelled it did I see there is a way to block a number. But, in the process of noodling around with this issue it seems 268 people have viewed my Gmail activities!!!! I don’t want anyone viewing my activities on the net.  I heard that I ought to immediately install https everywhere. Do you use that or is there something better? How do I get up to speed on this topic and spend Sat or Sun putting a belt and suspenders on my internet behavior to become as anonymous as I possibly can? Thanks for any guidance. Ann in Bethesda who listens weekly
  • Tech Talk Responds: Google loves to track everything you do. They want to log into Chrome with your Gmail account so that all of your activity is tracked. Advertising companies like to track your browsing choices using cookies so that they can deliver targeted ads. All of your activity can tracked back to the IP address of your computer. Any item that you post on a blog or any review that you make will be stored indefinitely in the Google search results. Netflix knows your viewing habits. Google knows your searches. Amazon knows what you have ordered. Nest knows when you are home. Privacy is becoming a thing of the past.
  • My advice is to not log into the Google services that you use with your Gmail account. If you are really paranoid about your identity, use a proxy server when you surf the web. I use on whenever I am logged into a Wi-Fi hotspot. I used ExpressVPN which is around $80/year. There are others that specialize in anonymity. Create throwaway email addresses when you make public comments or reviews on websites. Don’t let them track back to the email address that you use.
  • Email form Wayne in Tuscan: Hi Jim and Doc. I have been listening to your show over a year now and really enjoy the podcasts. I would like to switch over to VOIP and have looked into Ooma and BasicTalk.  Ooma’s web site lists the unit for $99 and BasicTalk’s for free if you get it from them and $9.99 per month. Ooma doesn’t charge per month as far as I can see. Can you explain the differences between the two and which one is better? Plan to keep my local phone number approx. two years.
  • PS a drone story. Over the 4th of July weekend and we went for a walk Sunday morning and found a drone upright near a bush. Name and phone number was written on underside. Contacted and they came over and said they were flying between storms and the wind came up and carried the drone away. Wind was so strong they lost control. Approx. distance was 1/4 mi. They were glad to get it back. I guess the drone could return due to the strong wind. Wayne H Boyer in Tucson AZ
  • Tech Talk Responds: All of these options are VoIP. Vonage itself markets BasicTalk, a cheaper version of its flagship Internet phone service. Like Vonage, BasicTalk involves a small box that connects your home phone system to your Wi-Fi router. Available at Walmart, BasicTalk offers just what the name implies – basic nationwide phone service at a flat rate of $10 a month (plus taxes and fees). The service includes Caller ID, Call Waiting and voice mail. This is better than the Vonage price of $30 per month.
  • Ooma offers free calls, although you must pay fees and taxes (about $4/month) and buy the Ooma Telo device ($99). International calls are prepaid and are at Skype rates.
Profiles in IT: Garrett M. Camp
  • Garrett M. Camp is co-founded StumbleUpon, a web discovery platform, and Uber, an on-demand car platform.
  • Garrett Camp was born October 4, 1978 in Calgary, Canada.
  • His mother was an artist and his father was an economist until they changed careers and became a design/build team. He grew up watching them build homes.
  • In 1996, he  enrolled in the University of Calgary in electrical engineering. 
  • Between his junior and senior years, he had an internship with Nortel Networks in Montreal, working on speech recognition technology.
  • He returned to finish his BS and stayed to complete a MS in Software Engineering, studying collaborative systems, evolutionary algorithms, and information retrieval.
  • He co-founded his first company in 2001. He and three partners set up the corporate entity in October, and on November 5, came up with the name, StumbleUpon. 
  • StumbleUpon provides a personal tour of the Internet. If you choose a topic that you’re interested in, such as art, Web sites related to art appear.
  • They finished the prototype in 2002 and worked on it part time until 2005, when they me an angel investor from Silicon Valley.
  • They met a number of employees and investors through the site. The first angel investor sent them a message through StumbleUpon and said he liked what they had done. He met him for dinner and he introduced us to other angel investors. 
  • He stumbled upon his chief scientist when he was using the site. Garret realized he had based one of the chapters in his thesis on his work. He hired him.
  • The company took off, and in 2006 he moved to San Francisco to be near the startup action. Before long, he was getting buyout offers. 
  • They eventually sold to eBay for $75M. Two years later, he assembled a few investors and bought the company back to have total control. 
  • Garrett grew the company to over one hundred employees and over 25 million registered users as its founding CEO before stepping down in mid-2012.
  • In 2009, he co-founded Uber. Uber is an on-demand car service available via a mobile application. Garrett initially founded Uber as UberCab while he was CEO of StumbleUpon and self-funded the seed round of $250K. 
  • His big idea was cracking the horrible taxi problem in San Francisco. 
  • Uber launched in San Francisco in mid-2010 with just a few cars on the road and in late 2010 raised $1.25M in angel funding. 
  • Uber was listed in Forbes Top 10 Companies of 2012,and was ranked #6 in Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2013.
  • In 2013, Garrett formed Expa. Expa is a startup studio that works with founders to develop and launch new products. In March 2014, Expa raised its ?rst $50M.
  • Garrett was named to the TR35 List of Top Innovators under the age of 35 at Technology Review’s Emerging Technologies Conference at MIT in 2007.
Chinese hackers take command of Tesla Model S
  • The first documented successful hack of a Tesla Model S has come from China, Chinese security giant Qihoo 360 Security Technology announced Thursday.
  • The hackers were attempting to win $10,000 in prize money at a kick-off event during the SyScan +360 security conference, which is co-sponsored by Qihoo. 
  • They were able to gain remote control of the car’s door locks, headlights, wipers, sunroof, and horn.
  • The security firm declined to reveal details at this point about how the hack was accomplished, although one report indicated that the hackers cracked the six-digit code for the Model S’ mobile app.
  • Qihoo 360 said it reported the hack to Tesla and offered to work with the automaker to fix the vulnerability.
Switzerland Tops Innovation Rankings Again
  • Switzerland got top spot on the Global Innovation Index for the fourth-straight year while Sub-Saharan Africa “posted significant regional improvement”. 
  • The annual rankings, which this year focused on the role people play in the innovation process, found that Switzerland and other top-ranked countries Britain, Sweden and Finland, had strong all-round support systems that led to “high levels of creativity”.
  • BRIC nations such China, Brazil and India were catching up with the developed countries.
  • The Sub-Saharan Africa region also moved up the rankings, with the Ivory Coast recording the biggest jump among the 143 economies surveyed.
  • “Sub-Saharan Africa now has more ‘innovation learner’ economies than any other region, with five African economies joining that status in 2014: Burkina Faso, Gambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Rwanda,” the report said.
  • They also found that growth in research and development funding was slowing as governments reduce public spending, and amid firms’ cautious attitudes towards investing in new projects.
  • Asian countries—particularly China, South Korea and India—were expected to boost their support for research and development programs, the report said
  • The US ranked number 6 in the report.
Chrome Browser Draining PC batteries
  • A documented bug in the source code for the Chromium open source project seems to account for the mysterious power drain that some users of Google’s web browser have been experiencing.
  • The bug was first filed for Chrome version 22, way back in September 2012, yet Google has so far ignored it.
  • When a computer isn’t doing much, it sends its CPU to sleep to save power, waking up at intervals when if there are any events that need handling. On Windows, these checks normally happen every 15.625ms, but that interval can be adjusted.
  • Instead of waking up the processor every 15.625ms, Chrome tells Windows to have it wake up every 1.000ms. So while your PC normally wakes up the processor 64 times per second when it’s idle, as long as you have Chrome running, the processor wakes up 1,000 times per second.
  • There’s only one platform timer, so when one application changes its resolution, the new value becomes a system-wide setting.
  • The effects of any power-management techniques will be virtually negated and the battery will run down at a much faster rate than it should.
  • Unfortunately, despite repeated complaints from Chrome users over the years, as documented in Google’s bug tracker database, the glitch has never been addressed – until now, that is.
  • Finally the bug was assigned an official owner, just one month shy of its two-year anniversary.
  • Windows users are advised to keep their eyes on Google’s Chrome Releases blog for word of a fix. Linux and OS X machines, on the other hand, are believed to be unaffected by the bug.
  • On July 12, 2014, many people may have noticed the moon looking big and bright. This is because of a phenomenon known as the supermoon.
  • A supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with the closest point to the Earth that the Moon travels to. They happen about once a year.
  • The moon’s orbit is not circular but elliptical, meaning its distance from the earth can vary between 357,000 km and 406,000 km.
  • When the Moon is at its closest point, known as ‘perigee’, it appears up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than at its farthest point, known as the apogee.
  • An optical illusion means that the moon always looks bigger when it is on the horizon, so when it is rising, it will look particularly impressive.
  • The moon creates tides on earth, because its gravity pulls harder on the side of the earth which is closest to it. The resultant tides are seen both in the sea and in the rock which moves up and down by up to half a metre.
  • The fact that the moon is closer at the moment will have an effect on tides – all be it a small one. Tides may be an inch higher, at most, but the difference is likely not to be noticeable for us humans.
  • The next supermoon will be seen on August 10th, with its closest pass at 7pm GMT. This will be the closest the earth comes to the moon all year, so is worth looking out.