Show of 01-10-2015

Tech Talk

January 10, 2015

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Lauren: Dear Dr. Shurtz, Happy New Year! In December, my Apple TV was updated. Since then, the YouTube interface changed, for the worse. Now I can’t save any videos to the favorite category and the recent list is limited to only five items. I don’t like this! When I call Apple Care, they say it is a Google issue. But I can’t talk with anyone at Google. What can I do? Is this a configuration issue? Most appreciated. Thanks. Lauren
  • Tech Talk Responds: It was not an Apple TV update. The YouTube app for Apple TV was updated by Google. An update revamped the interface, making it similar to its Xbox One and PS4 apps. Recommendations and subscription handling are better. The new app finally gives you access to YouTube’s entire library of content, but you will have to sit through ads for some videos. However, the favorites and recent lists are limited to only five items. There are many complaints about this and Google hopefully will listen.
  • One father found a work around for his daughter. She was having trouble finding the same videos on her iPad and then again on the Apple TV. It was time consuming and a hassle. He created a YouTube channel for her and then save her favorite videos to it. She can access them easily from either Apple TV or her iPad now and they would always be current. The key here is to be logged into your own YouTube channel on both devices. And it’s easy to do.
  • Email from Carl Tyler: Dear. Dr. Shurtz: I just recently saw the movie “The Imitation Game” which is about Alan Turing and the Enigma machine and how he and his fellow codebreakers at Bletchley Park decrypted the thousands of messages transmitted by the Germans during World War II. One person who I believe played a very important part is Thomas Flowers. He designed the first programmable electronic computer which helped decrypt the Lorenz or “Fish” machine ciphers. He would be a worthy candidate for Profiles in IT.
  • I listen to a lot of technology and science podcasts due to the commute to and from my work and I look forward to yours more than any. I sincerely hope you continue this show for a long time. 
  • You might be interested to know that the binary number for the year 2015 is 11111011111. Thank you. Loyal podcast listener, Carl Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: Carl thanks for the recommended. We will feature Tommy Flowers in today. I checked your binary number this morning. You are right it is 2015.
  • Email from Wendy in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I love to use Chromecast for Netflix. I am an Amazon Prime member and would like to use it for Amazon Prime movies. How can I do this with my iPhone? There is not casting option in this app. Love the show, Wendy in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: Wendy you are right about the Amazon Prime app. It does not support Chromecast. Remember Amazon and Google are fierce competitors. You only option is to open your Amazon Prime account in the Chrome browser. Then you will be able to cast a Chrome tab to your Chromecast. 
  • From the Chrome browser, just head to the Amazon Instant Video page. In the top menu bar, look for Settings near the right-hand side. Once you’ve clicked that link, scroll down a bit and look for the Web Player Preferences section. You’ll notice that by default, it is set to use Microsoft Silverlight. This is a format that Chromecast can’t utilize, and therein lays the problem. Switch this setting to Adobe Flash Player, and you’ll see a message letting you know that your preferred web player has been updated. Now it will work from the Chrome browser in your computer. However, it will not work with your iPhone because the iPhone will not support Adobe Flash. You are stuck. I use the Amazon prime app in my Smart TV and in the Xbox, so I never cast it from my iPhone. I hate these battles between giants. Never good for consumers.
  • Email from Jim in Kansas: Dear Tech Talk. How can I create a “Memory” DVD? I would like to put pictures of my father and family to music? By the way, I have a windows laptop, which is more difficult than a Mac. Love the show. Jim in Kansas.
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is a relatively easy task. You will need a read/write DVD player. If you don’t have one, you can purchase a USB player for your laptop for less than $100. 
  • Now for making the video. From the start menu of your PC, go to “programs” then “Windows Movie Maker” to launch the program you need. From the file menu, choose “start new project”. From the Import Menu on the left of the screen, import digital pictures, mp3’s or other music from media player or other music library in, and/or video. Digital photos and music must already be saved on your computer. Multiple images can be imported at once by holding ctrl while selecting.
  • Drag items down to the story board and adjust time to suit your style by manually entering time or by dragging the photo edge left or right. Generally for songs and digital pictures only, around 15 pictures works well per song. Effects, transitions, titles or credits can be added through the edit option on the left of the screen. When the show is complete choose “publish to” and choose source. Save to your DVD.
  • Email from Leslie in Oakton: Dear Tech Talk. Sometime when I get a exciting I hole the button down too long when taking pictures with my phone. I take a burst of pictures.  How can I save an individual photo from my image burst? Love the show, Leslie in Oakton
  • Tech Talk Responds: Burst mode is great some applications, like getting the perfect shot of a high speed sport event. But then you must select which ones to keep. Your burst of images will be clustered together and can be identified by an icon at the top of the lead image, which reads, “Burst.” Click on Select at the bottom of the image and check the ones that you want to keep. Just scroll horizontally. Once you’ve made your decision and select Done, you’ll be asked whether you want to Keep Everything or Keep Only Favorites. As burst images tend to take up a lot of space, you’ll likely only want to keep the images you’ve chosen.
  • Email from Chou in Indiana: Dear Doc and Jim. Can you safely delete set-up files of programs or updates that you have downloaded from the internet? I have files that are over five years old. Which types of downloaded set-up files or updates are safe to delete, and which must remain? Chou in Indiana.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Assuming you’ve run the set up to install the programs they contained then yes, you can delete setup files safely. The programs will continue to work without them. However, set-up files and packages that you download from the internet are almost exactly like the original installation media you might have received when you purchased software in some physical form. You ran the set-up program, and the software was copied onto your computer. After set up was complete, you removed those discs and began using the new software on your machine. If it were on a disc, you would eject it. 
  • You will want to save that downloaded setup program before you delete it. You may need for a reinstall, either for a new machine or for a clean install. You need this file because the software may not available online in the future for many reasons. So the safest thing to do is to save or archive those downloaded programs somewhere.
  • Here is a good procedure to follow when you download software to your machine:
    • Run the set up to install the software
    • Copy the download to a backup drive, replacing any previous copy for that same software
    • Delete the download from the Downloads folder. This way your Download folder is always clean.
Profiles in IT: Thomas Harold Flowers
  • Thomas Harold Flowers designed Colossus, the world’s first programmable electronic computer to help solve encrypted German messages.
  • Tommy Flowers was born December 22, 1905 in London, England.
  • While working as an apprentice in mechanical engineering at the Royal Arsenal, he took evening classes at the University of London to earn a BSEE.
  • In 1926, he joined the telecommunications branch of the General Post Office.
  • He believed that an all-electronic switching system (with not relays) was possible.
  • In 1941, Alan Turing, asked Flowers to build a decoder for the relay-based Bombe machine, which Turing had developed to help decrypt the Germans’ Enigma codes.
  • In February 1943 Turing introduced him to Max Newman who was leading the effort to automate part of the cryptanalysis of the Lorenz cipher, a high-level German cipher generated by a teletypewriter in-line cipher machine.
  • Flowers proposed an electronic system, which he called Colossus, using 1,800 thermionic valves (vacuum tubes).
  • Many were skeptical that it would work. His opponents thought mechanical relays were a better option, rather than vacuum tubes. 
  • The Bletchley Park management merely encouraged him to proceed on his own without funding. He did so, providing much of the funds for the project himself. 
  • Flowers gained backing for his project from his director at the General Post Office.
  • Flowers’s extremely dedicated team at Dollis Hill built the first machine in 11 months. It was dubbed ‘Colossus’ by the Bletchley Park staff.
  • The first Mark 1, with 1500 valves, ran at Dollis Hill in November 1943. It was five time faster and more flexible than the system with electro-mechanical switches. 
  • The first Mark 2 Colossus, with 2,400 valves, went into service at Bletchley Park on 1 June 1944, and immediately produced vital information for D-Day.
  • Colossus decrypted messages confirmed that Hitler wanted no additional troops moved to Normandy. Eisenhower decided to land at Normandy the next day.
  • Ten Colossi were completed and used during World War II in British decoding efforts, and an eleventh was ready for commissioning at the end of the war. 
  • All but two were dismantled at the end of the war. They ran until in 1959 and 1960. 
  • After the war, Flowers was granted £1,000 by the government, payment which did not cover Flowers’ personal investment in the equipment.
  • He remained at the Post Office Research Station. He and his group pioneered work on all-electronic telephone exchanges, completing a basic design by about 1950
  • In 1964, he moved to Standard Telephones and Cables Ltd., working on electronic telephone switching. He retired in in 1969.
  • His work in computing was not fully acknowledged until the 1970s.
  • Flowers died in 1998 aged 92, leaving a wife and two sons.
Intel’s 5th Gen Core Processors Have Arrived
  • The codenamed Broadwell, the new chips use 14nm technology. The launch was delayed because of production problems.
  • Power consumption keeps dropping, power production keeps increasing
  • Battery life is longer. The typical 15W Broadwell CPU will last an average of 90 minutes longer than its predecessor when playing back video. 
  • Intel added 14 new processors under its Core i3, i5, and i7 designations while also expanding its Pentium and Celeron ranges with new models as well. 
  • The die size has shrunken by 37 percent, but it now fits 35 percent more transistors, for a total of 1.3 billion. According to Intel, 3D graphics rendering has improved by as much as 22 percent, while performance in its traditional strength of video encoding has leapt up by 50 percent. The graphics portion of the chip has gotten a boost and Intel’s WiDi wireless streaming option can now stream full 4K video.
  • Intel anticipates laptops, 2-in-1s, tablets, convertibles, and a number of power-sipping desktop PCs with Broadwell inside to start making their way into retail channels very soon. 
  • The company has been shipping its 5th Gen Core chips out in volume for a few months now and its hardware partners are ready to finally release their long-promised next-gen machines. 
FAA Allows First Real Estate Company To Use Drones
  • Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Ariz., today became the first real estate agent who can legally use a drone for real estate photography. 
  • Trudeau, the FAA today announced, is authorized “to fly a Phantom 2 Vision+ quadcopter to enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos.”
  • In addition, the FAA also granted another exception to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Spokane, Wash., which will use a fixed-wing eBee AG drone for monitoring crops.
  • Tierra Antigua and Advanced Aviation Solutions can’t just take their drones for a spin, however. In addition to the pilot, there also has to be an observer around. The pilot also needs to have “an FAA Private Pilot certificate and a current medical certificate, and the UAS must remain within line of sight at all times
  • Today’s new exemptions bring the total number of companies allowed to commercially operate drones in the U.S. to 13 (there are a total of 14 exceptions for 13 companies now). 
  • The FAA says it has now received a total of 214 requests for exemptions
Anonymous will avenge Charlie Hebdo attacks 
  • Anonymous have released a video and a statement via Twitter condemning the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people were murdered. 
  • In the clip, a figure wearing the group’s symbolic Guy Fawkes mask is seated in front of a desk with the hashtag #OpCharlieHebdo – which stands for Operation Charlie Hebdo – featured on screen. 
  • The figure, whose voice is obscured says: “We are declaring war against you, the terrorists.” 
  • They add that the group will track down and close all accounts on social networks related to terrorists in order to avenge those who have been killed. 
  • They write “freedom of expression has suffered inhuman assault … and it is our duty to react”. 
  • Anonymous is a group comprised of activists and hackers who claim to defend and protect democracy. 
  • In the past the group has carried out cyber-attacks on government, religious, and corporate websites by distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks which attempt to overwhelm an online service with traffic from numerous sources so that users can no longer access it. 
Lizard Stresser Runs on Hacked Home Routers
  • The online attack service launched late last year by the same criminals who knocked Sony and Microsoft’s gaming networks offline over the holidays is powered mostly by thousands of hacked home Internet routers, has discovered.
  • Just days after the attacks on Sony and Microsoft, a group of young hoodlums calling themselves the Lizard Squad took responsibility for the attack and announced the whole thing was merely an elaborate commercial for their new service designed to help paying customers knock virtually any site.
  • That service draws on Internet bandwidth from hacked home Internet routers around the globe that are protected by little more than factory-default usernames and passwords.
  • On Jan. 4, KrebsOnSecurity discovered the location of the malware that powers the botnet. Hard-coded inside of that malware was the location of the LizardStresser botnet controller, which happens to be situated in the same Internet address space occupied by the LizardStresser Web site.
  • In addition to turning the infected host into attack zombies, the malicious code uses the infected system to scan the Internet for additional devices that also allow access via factory default credentials, such as “admin/admin,” or “root/12345”. 
  • Few users take the time to make sure their routers  are secure. 
  • For starters, make sure you change the default credentials on the router. This is the username and password that were factory installed by the router maker. The administrative page of most commercial routers can be accessed by typing, or into a Web browser address bar. These addresses work for most routers. 
  • Default IP Address:
  • Router default passwords:
  • When you’ve changed the default password, you’ll want to encrypt your connection if you’re using a wireless router. WPA2 is the strongest encryption technology available in most modern routers, followed by WPA and WEP (the latter is fairly trivial to crack).