Show of 12-13-2014

Tech Talk

December 13, 2014

Best of Tech Talk Edition
  • Segments replayed from previous shows

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Mary Wilson: Dear Dr. Shurtz. I finally got a response from Ooma. They reviewed the four tests, which gave my line a B rating with some jitter. My download speed was 4 Mbps. My upload speed varied between 4 and 10 Mbps. Jitter varied from 0 to 4 milliseconds. Packet loss was zero. They suggested adjusting the Quality of Service settings to reduce jitter. How do you do that? I’m not too sure Thank you. I am a long time listener. Mary Wilson
  • Tech Talk Responds: QoS could be an issue if you have other people of your network. When my son was at home, I had to adjust QoS on my router to ensure good VoiP reception. Change the password on your router to made certain that no one is stealing your bandwidth. I have set m Ooma device to have the highest priority on my router.
  • Email from Margaret: Dear Dr. Shurtz, Today I’ve tried to clean up some files/documents in Finder. I simply wanted them GONE so I moved them to trashcan. But after doing this for a while I noticed the trashcan was empty and the files landed on my desktop!!!!! Not when I try and drag doc/files from desktop to trash I can’t get them to go into the trashcan. I hope you can please help. Thanks. Margaret
  • Tech Talk Responds: Obviously you were not dropping them into trash. Make certain that the trash can is highlighted before releasing them. Perhaps the files are locked. Try unlocking the files before trashing them. It looks like a permissions issue. Do you have sufficient rights to trash the file? Check the file properties to see if any of these are issues.
  • Email from Arnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz. It looks like TOR is showing itself again. Global cooperation among law enforcement agencies closed Silk Road 2.0 and 400 other sites. These sites used TOR, which was created by the US intelligence agency, to assist people living under repressive regimes. The authorities must have developed new techniques to crack TOR and track down the origins of these networks and those behind them. Wonder why the lab ever thought TOR should go public? Wonder how they cracked TOR to get these guys? Arnie Crownsville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: TOR was created by the US intelligence agency to assist people living under repressive regimes. I don’t think they cracked it. Most likely the websites that used TOR were not configured correctly and some location information leaked out unencrypted.
  • Email from Ngoc in Houston: Dear Tech Talk, I am attending a convention in Houston and would like to record some comments about a few of the sessions on using my iPhone. What are my options? Love the show, Ngoc…normally from Ohio.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can, of course, always make a video of a session. That takes a lot of memory and may not be practical using the iPhone. I can make voice comments using Voice Memos. This is a great app for recording voice notes of the sessions. It is frequently used to record songs or other musical information. You can also use Notes to write notes. I like to use the voice recognition feature with notes. Just click on the mic symbol on the keyboard to activate voice recognition. It is quite accurate.
  • Email from Anita in Glen Allen: Dear Doc and Jim. I have a WD elements external hard disk. It is not recognized anywhere and I tried three computers. Before that I could not format it. I need help. Please help me, it’s urgent. It have very important data on it. Thanks Anita in Glen Allen
  • Tech Talk Responds: It could be as simple as the cable, so of course try another if you haven’t already. The problem is that it could be significantly more complicated. It could be the electronics in the external drive or it could be the hard disk drive itself. There’s just no way to really know for sure. Don’t reformat the disk. That only makes the matters worse. If you need to get the data, stop trying to use the drive and see a professional. Search for a data recovery company in your area with good online reviews. Expect to pay quite a bit. My last recovery was over $200, many years ago. Apparently you forgot the golden rule to backup all your data somewhere. Try to avoid that failure going forward.

Profiles in IT: Evan Spiegel

  • Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of SnapChat, the disappearing photo app.
  • Spiegel was born in 1990, the oldest child of two lawyers. He led a privileged life.
  • His was a securities lawyer, earning than $3 million in 2006. The family lived in a $2M house in Pacific Palisades. They had five luxury cars and the right memberships.
  • Evan and his two younger sisters attended Crossroads, a private prep school.
  • In sixth grade, he built a computer from scratch. Spiegel started developing simulators and video game emulators in high school, then into web design.
  • Evan led a charmed existence until April 2007, when his parents filed for divorce.
  • His senior year at Crossroads, Evan decided to move in with his father full-time.
  • Evan began to rack up significant expenses around that time, often incurring overdraft fees. In February 2008, his father finally insisted that Evan come up with a budget.
  • The conflict escalated and Evan moved in with his mother.
  • John Spiegel helped his son get in Stanford. Evan majored in product design.
  • Scott Cook, the CEO of Intuit. Cook took an interest in Spiegel, giving  him an opportunity to work on a platform that Intuit was developing for use in India.
  • The idea for SnapChat came out of a discussion about sexting between Evan Spiegel Reggie Brown, a friend of Spiegel’s since freshman year. They were living in Kimball Hall in spring 2011 when the idea for was hatched.
  • Spiegel had already been working with an older fraternity brother, Bobby Murphy, on several failed startup ideas.  Spiegel was the designer, while Murphy wrote the code.
  • Spiegel and Brown agreed to bring Murphy in to write code for the disappearing-picture app, initially called Picaboo. They celebrated the launch in July 2011.
  • Brown returned home to South Carolina and Spiegel and Murphy cut him out.
  • Brown wanted 30% of the company and threatened litigation. Soon thereafter, Spiegel and Murphy changed the passwords on the accounts and the servers.
  • Spiegel and Murphy changed the name of the company from Picaboo to Snapchat.
  • The company’s infrastructure and unopened Snaps are stored on Google’s cloud computing service, App Engine, until they are viewed and then deleted.
  • Downloads started to spike in January 2012. Spiegel has theorized that it began to take off after teenagers received iPhones with front-facing cameras for Christmas.
  • By February 2012, Spiegel and Murphy had 40,000 users and were maxing out their credit cards. They go $485K from Lightspeed Venture Partners in May 2012.
  • In June 2013, he closed a $60 million funding round, with valuation of $800M.
  • In December 2013, he raised $55M on a $2B valuation, just after turning down offers to buy SnapChat for $3B from Facebook and $4B from Google.
  • Spiegel likes to call his app “ephemeral messaging” which offers greater freedom.
  • Spiegel initially moved in with his father when he left school to pursue SnapChat full-time just shy of graduating. The company is in Venice Beach, California.

Food Science: Gravy without Lumps

  • Grains have both starch and protein. Starch provides food when the seed begins to grow. If you remove the protein from corn flour, for instance, you get corn starch. Most sauces and gravies are thickened with some kind of starch. The most common are flour and cornstarch, though potato starch, arrowroot and tapioca flour also work well. When starch is in liquid it gels around 130-160 F. The transition is dramatic. The key is to manage this gelling process to keep from getting lumps.
  • If you attempt to thicken a pan sauce or gravy by simply stirring flour into the simmering liquid, you will inevitably end up with lumps. This is because the starch around each lump of flour expands rapidly when it comes into contact with hot liquid, forming a sort of waterproof gel that prevents the granules from separating properly. The same is true for any other starch.
  • To prevent this, you need to separate the granules before adding them to the sauce so that they can slowly disperse and expand to create the desired thickening effect.
  • You can accomplish this in several ways. The first is to use what’s called a roux. Made from a mixture of fat — either pan drippings or butter — and flour, a roux is slowly cooked on its own before it is added to the sauce. The fat helps the starch to expand and separate, and it lubricates it so it can be smoothly incorporated into the liquid. A roux should be cooked, then cooled slightly, then whisked into the sauce when you’re ready to thicken it. The precooking also eliminates the unpleasant raw-flour taste that sometimes occurs if a sauce isn’t simmered long enough.
  • Another method is to use kneaded butter. This is essentially the same as a roux, only the flour is worked into the butter by hand or with a fork, then formed into small balls and added, uncooked, to a sauce.
  • If you want a medium-thick sauce or gravy, you should add about 2 tablespoons of flour per cup of liquid. If you’re using cornstarch, use 2 to 2 ½ teaspoons per cup.