Show of 08-16-2014

Tech Talk

August 16, 2014

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Ken Meyers: Love your show!  I keep missing it, I know you have the podcasts, Thank You!!  Please put the time, day, and station call letters on your edu. website, it would make it easier for mostly everyone to find you live, I prefer live radio listening, of course I found it but for some reason I thought you were live on Sundays….Proving I need more education. Thanks again for a great show…Ken Meyers
  • Tech Talk Responds: The time is on the Tech Talk page. It may be hard to find and we may change the formatting. It is, of course, on 1500 AM in Washington DC at 9 AM Saturdays. You can download the app, TuneIn Radio, to either or Android or iPhone. Search for Federal News Radio and you can listen anywhere in the world. Thanks for listening to the show.
  • Email from Arnie in Crownsville, MD: Hi Dr. Shurtz,  I saw this story on the BBC News.  Users of the “dark net” service Tor who visited hidden websites may have had their identities revealed by a five-month long cyber-attack. This TOR thing has sure showed a lot of interest lately (sent you two emails on TOR previously). Who usually uses TOR? Seems like governments have lots of interest. Any particular use by common email users? Arnie, Crownsville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: Tor was originally designed, implemented, and deployed as a third-generation onion routing project of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. It was originally developed with the U.S. Navy in mind, for the primary purpose of protecting government communications. TOR originally stood for The Onion Router, but that acronym is no longer by the developers.
  • Today, it is used every day for a wide variety of purposes by normal people, the military, journalists, law enforcement officers, activists, and many others. 
  • Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy. 
  • Individuals use Tor to keep websites from tracking them and their family members, or to connect to news sites, instant messaging services, or the like when these are blocked by their local Internet providers. 
  • Journalists use Tor to communicate more safely with whistleblowers and dissidents.
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) use Tor to allow their workers to connect to their home website while they’re in a foreign country, without notifying everybody nearby that they’re working with that organization. 
  • Activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recommend Tor as a mechanism for maintaining civil liberties online
  • It was also used by Edward Snowden exclusively. He loved Tails, the companion OS that only accessed the web with TOR. 
  • Email from Ian in Greenbelt: Dear Tech Talk. Explain the hotspot on my cell phone. I have this feature, but cannot activate it without paying additional fees. Is it worth it? I enjoy the show every Saturday. Thanks, Ian in Greenbelt
  • Tech Talk Responds: With a mobile hotspot, you can create an Internet connection for up to five mobile devices on a 3G phone and up to 10 on a 4G LTE smartphone. After a few quick steps, the phone creates its own secure Wi-Fi network, which your devices can join. There’s no need for a USB cable, and multiple users can share your phone’s mobile data plan. There are just a few things to keep in mind: Be aware that any data used by a connected device will be deducted from the total amount of data you’ve selected.
  • Also, be sure not to disable the mobile hotspot’s Wi-Fi; if disabled, anyone could connect to the hotspot without your knowledge or permission and potentially access any data being transmitted. The iPhone supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth hotspots. Google Glass connects to the Bluetooth hotspot. Some carriers charge extra for activating the mobile hotspot.
  • Email from Duc in Ohio: Dear Tech Talk. I enjoyed your Google Glass segment last week. I am trying to determine whether a Google Glass. Please provide additional reviews about the strength and weaknesses of Google glass. I would like to take this to a private club here in Ohio and have some fun. How much is it. Where can I buy it? Love the show. Duc in Ohio.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Google Glass version 2 is in the works. I would wait to buy the next edition. In general, Google Glass is not ready for prime time. Let’s go through the issues
  • Navigation – Very distracting. It keeps turning off. Phone cannot be connected to the Bluetooth in the car, so Bluetooth music is not possible. It works, but probably not to safe to use on a regular basis. To much fiddling with the phone is requires.
  • Pictures and Video – Difficult to share beyond Google+. Streaming video makes the headset so hot that it threatens to shut down in five minutes. Pictures 5MP; Video 720p.
  • Sharing limitations – Google forces you into the Google+ ecosystem. It is difficult to get pictures and videos out of the system. It is possible but a hassle. You can only use contacts that Google knows about and cannot import contacts from Outlook, for instance.
  • Sending emails – Send emails. Contacts limited to Gmail contacts and manually entered contacts to the Glass page. Voice recognition good. But if you pause too long it ends the messages and prepares to send. Not being able to pause is real limitation.
  • Bone conduction audio: surprisingly good. Voice recognition: surprisingly good.
  • Receiving phone calls and using Glass as a Bluetooth headset. Works, but the person you are speaking too will hear a degraded sound quality. I had to switch to my cell phone directly several times.
  • Apps I like: Compass, Duolingo, Evernote, Facebook (dangerous), Gmail, Google Calendar (no Outlook integration),  Google Now, Google+ (keeps you in Google ecosystem),  Livestream (streaming video), MindMeister, Shazam, Star Charts, Stop Watch, Trackendo, Twitter (not used, but convenient), Tumblr (easy pic upload), What’s Around, Word Lens, Word of the Day, YouTube (could be dangerous).
Profiles in IT: Taher Elgamal
  • Dr. Taher Elgamal is an information security leader and cryptographer. He is recognized in the industry as the “father” of SSL.
  • Taher Elgamal was born August 18, 1955 in Cairo, Egypt. His father was a high level official in the government. He oversaw the health department.
  • Very early on, he liked numbers. He just liked to play with numbers; it was his hobby. He was very good in mathematics, but I was not very good in linguistics.
  • He hated writing essays. He graduated from high school in 1972.
  • He received a BSEE from Cairo University in 1977
  • After moving to the US, he received an MS in 1981 and PhD in 1984, both in Electrical Engineering, from Stanford University.
  • In 1984, he joined the technical staff at HP Labs.
  • In 1985, Elgamal published a paper titled “A Public key Cryptosystem and A Signature Scheme based on discrete Logarithms” in which he proposed the design of the ElGamal discrete log cryptosystem and of the ElGamal signature scheme.
  • The latter scheme became the basis for Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA) adopted by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as the Digital Signature Standard (DSS).
  • He also participated in the ‘SET’ credit card payment protocol, plus a number of Internet payment schemes.
  • In 1988, he joined Infochip as VP system engineering.
  • In 1991, he accepted the Director of Engineering position at RSA.
  • In 1993, he joned Oki as VP advanced technology center.
  • In 1995, he joined Netscape, serving a Chief Scientist, where he was a driving force behind SSL.
  • SSL version 3.0, was released in 1996, which was published by IETF as a historical document in RFC 6101. The basic algorithm was written by Dr. Taher Elgamal. 
  • In 1999, he became president of the Information Security Group at Kroll O’Gara. 
  • In 2001 he founded Securify and served as CEO and CEO. In 2008, Securify was purchased by Secure Computing and is now part of McAfee.
  • In October 2006, he joined Tumbleweed Communications as Chief Technology Officer. Tumbleweed was acquired in 2008 by Axway Inc. He continued serving as  CTO for Axway. The primary product was a secure messaging platform.
  • In 2009, he founded IdentityMind, Inc, in Palo Alto, serving as Director until 2012..
  • In 2012, he became CEO First Information Security in the Middle East.
  • In February 2013, he accepted the position as CTO, Security, for 
  • He was the recipient of the lifetime achievement award from RSA in 2009. 
  • He still reads number theory books for fun…..a very interesting hobby.Gandhi is his role model. He admires his quiet strength.
David Burd Surprise Visit
  • Tech news of the week
  • Google Glass antics with YouTube
  • A mix of humor and technology
FCC Extends Net Neutrality Comment Period
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it would extend the net neutrality reply comment period from September 10 to September 15.
  • The commission has already received more than 1.1 million comments, which it released to the public last week. That is the largest number of comments the FCC has ever received, with the exception of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004, which garnered 1.4 million comments. With three extra days, net neutrality commenters will likely beat that.
  • The deadline for the reply comment period was pushed back to match the extension of the initial comment period, which occurred in July after the FCC experienced issues with its website. Because the first comment period was extended three additional business days and the reply period then started later, the FCC extended the period for reply comments.
  • Keep your comments coming!
Pet Peeve of the Week: Car Navigation Systems
  • Maps are out dated when the car leaves the lot. Most systems on a three year update cycle. Updates, when available, are expensive and can’t be downloaded.
  • Very limited live congestion data with dynamic re-routing.
  • Can’t doing anything with the navigation system when you are moving. Not even the passenger.
  • Poorly designed interface with lousy voice recognition.
  • Premium price for an inferior product.
NASA Mars Opportunity Rover Drives 25 miles
  • NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover, which landed in 2004, has driven a total 25 miles.
  • This is quite amazing since Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance. 
  • A drive of 157 feet (48 meters) on July 27 put Opportunity’s total odometer at 25.01 miles (40.25 kilometers). 
  • This month’s driving brought the rover southward along the western rim of Endeavour Crater. The rover had driven more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) before arriving at Endeavour Crater in 2011, where it has examined outcrops on the crater’s rim containing clay and sulfate-bearing minerals. 
  • The sites are yielding evidence of ancient environments with less acidic water than those examined at Opportunity’s landing site. 
  • Its next major investigation site will is called Marathon Valley, since it will have driven 26 miles.  
  • The Russian Lunokhod 2 rover, a successor to the first Lunokhod mission in 1970, landed on Earth’s moon on Jan. 15, 1973, where it drove about 24.2 miles (39 kilometers) in less than five months. Thus we have finally beaten the Soviets. 
  • The Mars Exploration Rover Project is one element of NASA’s ongoing and future Mars missions preparing for a human mission to the planet in the 2030s. 
Dropbox Deleted More Than 8,000 Personal Files
  • Jan ?urn, co-founder and CTO at photogprahy software platform VirtualRig Studio, has been using Dropbox since 2009.
  • More than 8,000 of his personal files had mysteriously disappeared and he can’t recover them.
  • ?urn detailed his experience on Medium. In his post, ?urn writes that he had decided to use Dropbox’s Selective Sync feature when the hard drive in his laptop was running low on space. 
  • Selective Sync allows you to manually choose which folders from Dropbox you’d like to sync with your computer.
  • ?urn decided to use Dropbox as the sole storage space for a large amount of his files.
  • He writes that he unchecked a bunch of folders using Dropbox’s Selective Sync tool, meaning that these unchecked folders would only live in Dropbox, not on his computer.
  • After that, the Dropbox client froze and didn’t show any sign of life for a couple of minutes, so I decided to kill it and restart again. 
  • He then tried to sync them one-by-one since the folders were so large. He thought the process had worked out perfectly — the folders had disappeared from his local storage, but were still available on Dropbox. It wasn’t until about two months later he realized that he was missing a giant chunk of his work and personal files.
  • After contacting Dropbox, ?urn came to the conclusion that this mysterious deletion has to do with the way Dropbox’s Selective Sync feature works.
  • According to ?urn, Dropbox reportedly deletes these files from your local storage before it tells its servers about the changes you made to your Selective Sync settings. So, if Dropbox crashes while it’s synching your files, the files can be at risk of permanent deletion. When the client restarts, it only sees the files that have yet to be synched before the crash occurred. 
  • Dropbox is only able to recover your deleted files within 30 days. In ?urn’s case, it had been more than 60 days by the time he realized his files were gone.
  • It’s important to note that these kinds of situations can be avoided by actively backing up your work — meaning you should store important files in several safe places to avoid losing them.