Show of 05-02-2015

Tech Talk

May 2, 2015
Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Margaret: Dr. Shurtz, My experience for about a yr. now w/ OOMA has not been great. Lots of dropped calls and really bad voice quality, at times (those I call can’t hear me but they always sound fine to me). Had a tech call with OOMA today so they could adjust my Verizon FiOS gateway router settings to improve phone call audio. We did this: Changed IPV4 security settings from Typical (medium) to minimum security. OOMA tech guy also wanted to go to a part of router that we could never get to – Quality of Service – QOS. He said that is where we could rank the devices on my home network and by placing the OOMA telco device in a higher ranked order the audio/voice quality would be positively impacted. I don’t know if my stepping down the security setting from med. to minimal is OK or not but I assume it is ok? Tech guy said I could call Verizon and ask them how I can access the QOS part of the router OR tell the Verizon tech person that I need them to tell me the device priority order I now have and then tell them I want to move up a device and give them the OOMA telco MAC Address and OOMA IP address (that Ooma guy gave me today) and that ought to boost voice/audio reception. Thanks, Margaret
  • Tech Talk Responds: I have used Ooma with Verizon for years and love it. Looking at router configuration is a good idea. QoS is only important if you have more than one device on your network. I suspect that when you are using Ooma, that is only device operating on your network. I doubt that you are downloading many large files (which is what happens when my son is home). I did set the QoS to favor my Ooma device. The QoS section is easily reached on the router. Simply logon. Choose Advanced Settings and then select Quality of Service. 
  • Email from Arnie in Crownsville: Hi Dr. Shurtz, Last week a listener had a question about someone in her area using her WiFi. What do you think of this program: Who Uses My WiFi (WUMW) Project your network from intruders? This app could also be used for catching roaming wayward professors from driving around neighborhoods looking for open WiFi networks. I’ve used it, but don’t get a lot of all the numbers it generates showing who is using my network. I recognize my family stuff, but other 192.168.1.xxxx numbers really don’t tell me who or where the intrusion is coming from. What do you think of this app, and do you think it would have helped your listener last week? PS: Hi Dr. Shurtz, If you haven’t featured Robert Noyce in a past program, it may be someone you could discuss on Tech Talk. Noyce is granted a patent for an integrated circuit. Arnie,  Crownsville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: The app is 99 cents and got good reviews. I give the same information that you can get from your router log. Just go to your routers IP address and login and click on log. You will see the IP address and name of all devices that have used your WiFi network. I don’t think I would buy the app, but many love it. I covered Noyce, along with Gordon Moore on August 16, 2008. They were co-founders of Intel. I think he deserves to be features alone. I’ll put him in the hopper.
  • Email from Carl Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: I’m a big fan of the TV show “Person of Interest”. On almost every show one of the main characters, John Reese, clones the cell phone of the person he is following. And it doesn’t take much time for him to do it either. After he clones the person’s cell phone he can hear what the person is saying and who he is talking to.  Is this possible with today’s technology and if not will it soon be possible? I recently sent you an email about the FIDO Alliance, “Fast Identity Online Alliance”. I was just wondering if the email somehow got sent to your junk mail folder.  Anyway I would be interested in knowing your view of FIDO and if it will solve our password problems. Thank you for the great podcast you and Jim produce each week. Carl Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: Cloning and listening in is very easy on the old analog phone networks which don’t use encryption. It is much more difficult with CDMA or GSM which use encrypted signals. You need the encryption key, but this would only allow you connect with a cloned phone number. It would not let you listen in. There is femtocell technology for listening in. These are mini cell phone towers that connect to the phone and grab the encryption data for cloning purposes. You can then listen into any phone call going through the cell. This was covered at a recent Black Hat Security conference. I didn’t get your FIDO email. I must have gone to junk. The FIDO Alliance is a great idea. It would allow all your authentications to use your thumbprint, for instance, and eliminate the need for passwords. Interoperability of standards is essential. It was formed in 2012. It board is well connected. I think that it is going to make a difference and help eliminate the password.
  • Email form Ngoc in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I heard to talk about Meerkat and Periscope on your podcast.  I would like to tweet live videos from our Mod Squad parties here in the basement. Which one is best? They look so similar to me. We love the show in Ohio and sometimes listen live using the TuneIn Radio app. Most of the time we listen to the podcast. Ngoc, a loyal listener in Ohio.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Live-streaming app Meerkat became a media sweetheart at South by Southwest conference. And this week Twitter unveiled its answer with Periscope, a company acquired last year. Meerkat and Periscope are very similar. Both apps are built for users to send live-streamed videos to followers. Those streams could show anything, such as a product demonstration or taking your dog for a walk. Neither app works without Twitter; you’ll need an account to get started. The differences between the two may seem slight for the uninitiated. 
  • Meerkat streams are live-only, but watchers can re-stream anything to their viewers in real time. Periscope streams can be saved to replay up to 24 hours after they are filmed. As of now, neither app allows comments, but Periscope allows users to send heart icons, similar to Facebook’s “Like” button, to live-streamers. Periscope is better integrated with Twitter (view the video within Twitter, access to user API for users can find you stream easier). I would probably use Periscope if you would like people to find your streams easily.
  • Email from Tung in Tung in Ohio: Dear Tech Talk. My Facebook account has been hacked. I can’t log and they are making comments that I don’t like. What can I do? Love the show and the podcast. Tung in Ohio
  • Tech Talk Responds: You need to report that our account has been compromised immediately. Go to: They will try and verify your true identify by using a secondary method to contact you (assuming that it has not been changed). Then they will try to verify your authenticity using your friends to verify that your account has been hacked. You need to move very quickly here. One thing that you should not do is to create another site with the same email address. If you do that, you may never get your site back.
  • In the future, turn on log on approvals. It is listed under Extra Security Features. It will require a code, anytime your account is accessed from a new device. This code will be sent to your cell phone. If you would have had notifications turned on, your account could not have been hacked.
Profiles in IT: Ross William Ulbricht
  • Ross William Ulbricht, AKS as Dread Pirate Roberts, is the founder and mastermind behind Silk Road, which is eBay of the dark-web.
  • Ross William Ulbricht was born March 24, 1984 in Austin, Texas.
  • An Eagle Scout, Rossman, as friends called him, drove an old Volvo, smoked plenty of pot, and still got a 1460 on his SATs. 
  • Ross earned a scholarship to the University of Texas at Dallas and majored in physics. From there he landed a graduate scholarship at Penn State, where he studied material science and crystallography. He published a paper dealing with solar cells.
  • When he finished his Masters in 2009, he moved back to Austin with his girlfriend.
  • Ross tried day trading, but it didn’t go well. He started a videogame company. That failed too. The setbacks were devastating. 
  • During this time, his downstairs neighbor, invited Ross to work with him on Good Wagon Books, a business that collected used books and sold them on Amazon. 
  • Ross built Good Wagon’s website, learned inventory management, and wrote a custom script that determined a book’s price based on its Amazon ranking.
  • But by the end of 2010, he was looking beyond the book business. He discovered bitcoin and dreamt of building a site where people could buy anything anonymously.
  • Then, one night in early 2011, Ross was working late, alone in the warehouse, when he heard an enormous crash — the sound of the library falling apart. 
  • Following this ordeal, Ulbricht left the company and began working full-time on Silk Road. It sold its first items, a batch of psychedelic mushrooms, in January of 2011.
  • His pseudonym was Dread Pirate Roberts, borrowed the name from The Princess Bride, in which the pirate was a mythical character.
  • Silk Road was named after the Silk Route, a routes from China to the Mediterranean.
  • He’d been doing it all himself, learning on the fly, programming automated transactions and using CodeIgniter to write and rewrite the site.
  • By late 2011, he had banked $100,000 and was earning $25,000 a month.
  • As Silk Road became a true global market, DPR loved in his new role as leader.
  • The FBI began its probe of Silk Road around January 2011. By the summer of 2013 they were conducting surveillance on Ulbricht directly.
  • They located the Silk Road server and copied it in its entirety, including all accounts. 
  • In June 2013, Ulbricht logged into Silk Road from an Internet cafe in San Francisco. From there the feds traced his Gmail logs and located his apartment.
  • On October 2013, Ulbricht was arrested in San Francisco. 
  • On 4 February 2015, Ulbricht was convicted of all seven charges laid in a U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan in relation to Silk Road. Murder-for-hire charges are still pending. He had tried to kill a hacker who was blackmailing him.
Google Want to Be Your Cell Phone Carrier
  • Google last week officially announced everything there is to know about its wireless carrier initiative.
  • The company even started taking registrations for Project Fi, with invites supposed to soon roll out to interested users in the U.S. 
  • Meanwhile, users looking to check out how the Project Fi wireless service. You can download an app that explains the service from Google Play.
  • Initially, the service will be available solely on Google’s latest Nexus smartphone, so it’s not surprising to see the app only work on that handset. 
  • The online publication says the app won’t even open on the Galaxy Note 4, which might also be the case for other Android devices.
  • Even though you’re yet to receive a Project Fi invitation in the mail, you can still check out the application and see how the service is supposed to work. 
  • The app will let you do a bunch of things, including activating the service, paying the bills, monitoring your data usage, managing account settings and more.
  • Base plan is $20/month with unlimited text and talk. Pay for only the data you use. Coverage in 120 countries with no roaming charges. The plan I always wanted.
  • Go to the Project Fi website and request an invite. All you need is an email address and zip code.
Good News: Facebook shuts down friends data API
  • When signing on to a new app, Facebook users are often confronted with a choice, let Facebook access information about hundreds of your closest friends without their knowledge or permission, or perhaps just give up that particular product or service.
  • Facebook announced it is shutting all that down with its migration to the Graph API 2.0. Changes took effect on April 30th.
  • Companies did have fair warning. Facebook announced its intent to close off that intrusive feature at its F8 Conference last year.
  • The move will break certain apps like Job Fusion, which depended on the ability to use friend information. 
  • While apps do not have to delete data they already have, if someone asks that their data be removed, the company will have to comply. 
  • You can adjust your own privacy settings going forward to deny apps the use of your data.
  • It is now requiring all apps to use its new login system which hands over more data control to users. A new “Edit the info you provide” link lets users pick and choose which permissions they want to grant. 
  • A new Login Review system has Facebook employees examine any app that requires more information than the public profile so apps do not get into the habit of gathering more data than they need to operate properly.
App of the Week: Samsung Backup Memory
  • Samsung app helps Alzheimer’s patients remember their families
  • Samsung as just released a dedicated Backup Memory app to stimulate the memories of early-onset Alzheimer patients. 
  • The Android tool uses Bluetooth to detect when friends and family running the app are nearby. 
  • If they are, it’ll both identify the person and show user-uploaded photos and videos that recall past events. The app is currently very simple (Samsung still wants to add GPS locations, for instance), but it’s reportedly promising enough in early tests that it’s slowing down the effects of Alzheimer’s and making life just a little bit easier.
Viber, Google are helping people to call loved ones in Nepal
  • In an effort to aid communication T-Mobile is offering free calls to and from Nepal.
  • On Sunday, Viber announced it would switch off its Viber Out billing — a service that lets users make international calls at local rates — so free calls would be available to those inside and outside Nepal.
  • Google Voice announced on Monday that it would offer 1 cent per minute calls to Nepal — down from normal rates of 19 cents per minute.
  • According to a post on Google’s Asia Pacific blog, the company chose 1 cent calls instead of making them free to prevent spammers from abusing their systems. 
  • Whether those in Nepal will be able to receive calls and texts remains an open question. Phone lines and digital services in the country remained weak or destroyed.
AT&T Charges Customer $24,000
  • Ron Dorff, an 83-year old user of AOL was charged $24,000 and AT &T wanted to collect.
  • This wasn’t for a cellphone racking up stratospheric roaming charges, which is usually the case in situations of insane phone bills.
  • This was for a land line in Dorff’s house, which he uses to access the Internet via a low-speed AOL dial-up subscription.
  • Dorff was accustomed to paying about $51 a month to AT&T for Internet access. Then, in March, he received a bill for $8,596.57. The same for April and May.
  • He lives off his monthly $1,530 Social Security checks.
  • He called AT&T and placed that question to a service rep. The rep said he could check into it and never got back.
  • “Nobody ever showed up,” Dorff recalled. “So I figured that everything must be.
  • But the bills kept coming. If he didn’t pay by May 8, the phone company warned, his bill would rise to at least $24,786.16.
  • Dorff contacted AT&T again, and a service rep once again scheduled an appointment for a technician to visit his house. This time the guy showed up.
  • AT&T finally sent a technician after Dorff had contacted a local TV station.
  • He discovered that Dorff’s modem somehow had started dialing a long-distance number when it accessed AOL, and the per-minute charges went extremely high.
  • AT&T fixed the modem and cancelled the bill. Clearly his system has been sabotaged by a virus that redirected his modem to this high cost line.
Google Is Making Search Mobile Friendly
  • On Tuesday, April 21, Google made a major update to its mobile search algorithm that will change the order in which websites are ranked when users search for something from their phone.
  • The algorithm will start favoring mobile-friendly websites (ones with large text, easy-to-click links, and that resize to fit whatever screen they’re viewed on) and ranking them higher in search. Websites that aren’t mobile-friendly will get demoted. 
  • About 60% of online traffic now comes from mobile and Google wants users to have a good experience whenever they click on a mobile link.  
  • The company announced its impending changes back in February, giving webmasters nearly two months and plenty of information to make the changes necessary to keep their sites from disappearing from mobile search results. 
  • But the update is still expected to cause a major ranking shake-up. It has even been nicknamed “Mobile-geddon” because of how “apocalyptic” it could be for millions of websites. 
  • Businesses that depend on people finding them through localized search  could see a decrease in foot traffic as a result of this update.
  • It’s not only small businesses that are going to be affected by mobile-geddon though. 
  • Marketing company Somo released a study last week that found a number of big brands, like American Apparel’s brand site, The Daily Mail, and Ryanair, will all get punished when the change takes place, unless they update their sites before Tuesday.
  • Mobile-friendly website test: