Show of 05-23-2015

Tech Talk

May 23, 2015

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Mary in Bethesda: Dear Doc Shurtz, I have a website I built in 2/15 & is hosted by HostGator. Though I thought I could make a go of this small service business the reality sunk in that I’d have several lean years before thing began to build. I got a ‘real’ job a week ago so now see no reason to continue on with this monthly hosting fee. Because it was a time investment to build this & I like the site I’d like to back it up some cheap but reliable way. Can you offer a good solution to do this? I’m also wondering what kind of shelf life my site will actually have once it stops getting the WP updates and the plugin updates? Thanks, Mary Bethesda
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are two parts to backing up your WordPress site: Database and Files. You need to back up the entire site, and you need to back up your WordPress database. Your WordPress site consists of the following: WordPress Core Installation; WordPress Plugins; WordPress Themes; Images and Files; JavaScript and PHP scripts, and other code files; Additional Files and Static Web Pages. In your case, the easiest thing to do is to use an FTP Client to copy all files to a folder on your computer. Once there, you can zip or compress them into a zip file to save space. Keep these copies in more than one place. FileZilla is a good open source free option for both Mac and Windows ( When you reactivate, you will have to perform all security updates.
  • Email from Lauren: Dear Dr. Shurtz, I own a single family home and want to know of any oddities around my property when I am not here. I am not an electrician so I’d prefer something easy to install. I am looking for a wireless camera that can scan the front and sides of the house and capture a pic of anyone on my property. Can you please recommend a brand/model? Thanks, Lauren
  • Tech Talk Responds: You will need a weatherproof camera that is motion activated, has night vision capabilities using infrared LEDs, and video storage. You have the option of cloud storage or storage on a local hard drive. Local storage is cheaper because there is not monthly fee. You will need multiple cameras with wide field of view lenses. Even though the Wi-Fi connection is wireless, you will need to provide a power connection for the device. There are many options depending on the quality and price range. Here is one to look at: D-Link Outdoor HD Wireless Day/Night Network Cloud Camera with 720p HD video, integrated motion-sensing, automated email alerts, and night-vision technology. It comes with a built-in microSD card slot so you can record video footage directly. You will need a way to save the output from multiple cameras to a hard drive. D-Link Camera Video Recorder will connect to up to four cameras and two USB external hard drives. This is your complete system. The cameras are $150 on Amazon. The video recording device is $90 on Amazon. Then you will need two external hard drives for around $150 each. This will give you a complete surveillance system with up to four cameras.
  • Email from a Loyal Listener: Dear Doc and Jim. My sister started a new job as a proposal writer at a Federal Government contracting firm. She tells me that her boss has established a folder on a network drive where the two volumes (technical and pricing) of their 50+ page proposal will be maintained and built from. Meaning, there is a WORD doc that is in the draft stage where each writer is to paste in their assigned content. This is Not in SharePoint. How will this work to have 5-7 different people accessing a file and iteratively putting content into it! I am at a loss.  Please help. Thanks, a loyal listener
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is not a very good way to collaborate. MS has created reasonable collaboration tools in Office365 on OneDrive and excellent collaboration with their SharePoint system. Google provides excellent document collaboration tools and allows for simultaneous editing of the same document on Google Drive. We used both Google Docs and SharePoint at Stratford. We only share documents on share subdirectories that are not revised very often, like Syllabi. In that case we always have a read only version maintained as a template. If you have multiple people edited the same document, insist on strict versioning in the file name and footers. That way you will save a new version each time, in the event of an editing collision. Someone will then have to consolidate all of the versions into a final document, a real drag.
  • Email from Carl Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: I believe I have a good candidate for Tech Talk Radio’s “Profiles In IT”. His name is William Friedman. Friedman worked for the Signals Intelligence Service during World War II. He and his team were responsible for breaking the Japanese cipher “Purple”. Friedman had a long and illustrious career as a cryptologist and later worked for the NSA. He is also credited for coining the term “cryptanalysis”.  Thank you for your podcast. Loyal podcast listener, Carl Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: Carl, this is a great suggestion. We will feature William Friedman today on Tech Talk
  • Email from Hong in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I am having trouble with my router. My connection goes down once every few days, and I have to unplug the router and reboot it to fix the problem. What can I do to just make it work properly?  A loyal Tech Talk listener in Ohio.
  • Tech Talk Responds:  This is a very common ailment. It could be that your internet provider changes your IP address often, and your router doesn’t catch on. Maybe it’s overheating, or maybe it’s getting bogged down by too many connections at once. 
    • Make Sure Your Router Isn’t Overheating. Get your router out of hot, enclosed spaces, raise it up using wooden blocks, or even stick it in front of your fan. 
    • Update Your Router’s Firmware. You can log onto the router and there should be an firmware upgrade link to check for updates. If not there, write down the version number of the firmware and go to the manufacturer’s website.
    • Limit Connections to File Sharing Services. Oftentimes, your router can just get bogged down by too much traffic coming through. This is especially common with things like BitTorrent and Usenet. , which achieve high download speeds by making multiple connections at one time. Go to your BitTorrent or Usenet client and limit the download speed or number of connections.
    • Buy a New Router. Make sure that you buy from a store that has a good return policy in case you experience problems within the first few weeks. 
    • Plug the Router Into an Outlet Timer. Reboot automatically in the middle of the night.
Profiles in IT: William Frederick Friedman
  • William Frederick Freidman is known as the Dean of American Cryptology
  • Wolf Frederick Friedman was born September 24, 1891 in Moldavia, Russia
  • His family moved to Pittsburgh, PA in 1892 and changed his first name to William.
  • Friedman was introduced to cryptography by “The Gold-Bug” by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • He studied at Michigan State and received a scholarship to Cornell in genetics. 
  • He joined Riverbank Labs in September 1915 as head of the Department of Genetics.
  • One of his projects was to find secret messages in messages by Sir Francis Bacon. 
  • He soon became director of Riverbank’s Department of Codes and Ciphers as well as its Department of Genetics. Friedman wrote a series of 23 papers on cryptography, including the first description of the index of coincidence.
  • Riverbank became the unofficial cryptographic center for the US during WWI.
  • Friedmans broke a code used by German-funded Indian radicals in the US who planned to ship arms to India to gain independence from England.
  • The US decided to set up its own cryptological service. To support the program, Friedman wrote a series of technical monographs, completing seven by early 1918. 
  • He enlisted in the Army and went to France to serve as the personal cryptographer for General Pershing. He returned to the US in 1920 and published an eighth monograph.
  • In 1921 he became chief cryptanalyst for the War Department. Friedman had coined several terms, including cryptanalysis.
  • During the 1920s, he analyzed and cracked cipher machines based on using typewriter mechanics and basic electrical circuitry using statistical analysis.
  • Friedman developed SIGABA, which was immune to this attack which became the US’s highest-security cipher machine in WW II. 
  • In 1939, the Japanese introduced a new cipher machine for their most sensitive diplomatic traffic, called PURPLE. It was different and much more difficult. 
  • After several months Friedman and his team figured it out. PURPLE did not use rotors but stepper switches. His team constructed an exact analog of the PURPLE.
  • It was used to decrypt Japanese messages before and after the Pearl Harbor attack. 
  • The US gave the British a PURPLE machine, in exchange for details on the design of the Enigma machine and on how the British decrypted the Enigma cipher. 
  • In 1949 he became head of cryptographics of the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA) and in 1952 became chief cryptologist for the National Security Agency.
  • Friedman produced a classic series of textbooks, “Military Cryptanalysis”, which was used to train NSA students. He encouraged the NSA to develop super-computers.
  • Friedman retired in 1956 died in 1969, after a long illness.
  • Friedman has been inducted into the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame and there is a building named after William and Elizebeth at the NSA complex at Fort Meade.?
Wi-Fi troubleshooting for Apartments
  • If you are using the 2.4 GHz band there are only three non-overlapping channels: 1, 6, and 11. Use the one that is least used.
  • Used directional antennas to reduce the impact of nearby routers. Even tin foil can be used to direct your antenna beam.  Even if the antenna is internal, you can set up a reflector ( Remember you can use beam forming for both the router and receiving device. I have a high gain antenna that I plug into my laptop and can pick up over 20 channels in my neighborhood.
  • You can use the 5.8 GHz band (802.11a). Make certain to get a dual-radio and not just a dual-band. A dual radio will continue to transmit at 5.8GHz and not switch back to the lower frequency band spontaneously. 802.11a has 24 non-overlapping bands (not all can be selected because they use dynamic frequency selection). This is your best option to get rid of interference. The main problem is that this frequency does not penetrate wall very well and is only useful at a short range.
  • If you have a router provided your ISP, you can plug a second router into the Ethernet port and use it for wireless connectivity. Make certain to turn off the Wi-Fi transmitted in the baseline use. You will be cascading two hardware firewalls, but that will not be a problem. The second router will give you a change to add an antenna.Remember all we care about is Signal to Noise. If you can restrict the FOV of your antenna so it only sees your devices, you are effectively reduce the noise level and increasing the S/N ratio.
  • Also be mindful that you device will always default to the slowest device on the system. So if you have a legacy wireless device (801.11b), all devices will be slowed to that data rate. Or if you have a dual-band router, it will go the band that connects to all devices, so it will probably revert back to the 2.4GHz band. Remember the iPhone will transmit at both frequencies and you can’t select which one is used.
Idea of the Week: Heating with Nerd Power
  • All computers produce heat, but computer servers produce a lot of heat – so much that it usually costs a fortune to cool them down. 
  • This heat can be used to keep homes or offices warm.
  • Meet a new type of radiator.  Instead of hot water, it contains a computer connected to the internet, doing calculations.
  • It was created by a Dutch start-up called Nerdalize, and could be part of a solution to a big problem for the tech industry. 
  • Data centers are estimated to account for 1.5% of global electricity consumption and most of this heat is wasted.
  • Nerdalize’s solution is, effectively, to spread their data center across domestic homes linked by fiber-optic cable. The excess heat can then be used instead of going to waste.
  • The radiators take a little longer than average to heat up and a single unit won’t be enough to heat a room in mid-winter. But, after a small set-up fee, the heat is completely free to users. Nerdalize’s radiators are in a tamper-proof case, and use encrypted data.
  • Nerdalize gets its money for providing data services. During this year-long pilot, its clients include Leiden University Medical Centre, which uses the radiators to crunch through lengthy protein and gene analysis. 
  • The server in the radiator does not stop working when the unit is turned off, but the heat is pushed into an extractor on the outside wall. 
  • And in the unlikely event that a user needs heat but the internet is down and the radiator has nothing to work on, it starts performing dummy equations.
Mystery Radio Signals that Baffled Astronomers
  • Beginning in the late ’90s, once or twice a year, astronomers operating the telescope at the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, Australia would pick up mysterious radio signals.
  • These signals were known as perytons, described in a recent report as “millisecond-duration transients of terrestrial origin.” 
  • The researchers believed the perytons were linked to atmospheric activity such as lightning strikes, and they held this belief for around 17 years, until this year, when they installed a new receiver to monitor interference.
  • The actual source of the perytons? A microwave oven
  • The receiver detected signals at 2.4 GHz within 5 kilometers of the telescope, which the researchers realized were being created by staffers heating up their lunches in the Parkes Observatory kitchen. 
  • The interference only occurred when staffers opened the microwave door while it was still heating. Mystery solved!