27 June 2015
Best of Tech Talk Edition
- Segments replayed from previous shows
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: https://www.facebook.com/hacked. 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: William Henry Gates III
- Position while at Microsoft: CEO, Chief Software and Chief Software Architect
- Holds 8% of common stock with a net worth of $56 billion
- Gates founded Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000.
- Early Years
- Gates took an interest in programming the GE system in BASIC and was excused from math classes to pursue his interest.
- He and other students sought time on other systems, including DEC PDP minicomputers. PDP-10 was owned by Computer Center Corporation.
- Computer Center Corporation which banned the Lakeside students for the summer after it caught them exploiting bugs in the operating system to obtain free computer time.
- Information Sciences Inc. hired the Lakeside students to write a payroll program in COBOL, providing them not only computer time but royalties as well.
- At age 14, Gates also formed a venture with Allen, called Traf-O-Data, to make traffic counters based on the Intel 8008 processor. That first year he made $20,000; however, when his age was discovered, business slowed.
- He enrolled at Harvard University in the fall of 1973 intending to get a pre-law degree, but did not have a definite study plan.
- Beginning of Microsoft
- After reading in Popular Electronics (Jan 1975) about the Altair 8800, Gates contacted MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems), to inform them that he and others were working on a BASIC interpreter.
- Over the course of a few weeks they developed an Altair emulator that ran on a minicomputer, and then the BASIC interpreter.
- The demonstration, held at MITS’s offices, was a success and resulted in a deal with MITS to distribute the interpreter as Altair BASIC.
- Paul Allen hired into MITS, and Gates took a leave of absence from Harvard to work with Allen at MITS, dubbing their partnership “Micro-soft” in November 1975.
- The hyphen was dropped the next year in the trademark filing.
- Microsoft’s big break and expansion
- In 1980 IBM approached Microsoft to make the BASIC interpreter for the IBM PC.
- After Digital Research failed to negotiate with IBM for the CP/M OS, Gates proposed QDOS (Tim Paterson of Seattle Computer Products).
- MS signed a deal with SCP to be the exclusive agent, and later full owner.
- After adapting the OS for the PC, MS delivered it to IBM as PC-DOS for a one-time fee, without transferring the ownership of the source code.
- MS was quick to license DOS to other clone manufacturers, calling it MS-DOS.
- In the early 1980s Microsoft introduced its own version of the graphical user interface (GUI), called Windows. (Based on ideas pioneered by the Xerox, not Apple).
- Windows 3.0 (released in 1990) sold around 10 million copies in the first two years.
- Finally the 32-bit operating systems arrived (Windows 95, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003, Windows Vista)
- Gates served as the CEO of the company until 2000, when Steve Ballmer took the position.
Lesson Learned from Gates Career
- Work on real projects to pursue your interests.
- License your work carefully.
- Own the code when paying for development.
- Hardware not software is the best focus (MS versus Apple)
- Anti-competitive behavior (good or bad for the industry)
- Will Google do to MS what MS did to IBM and Netscape?
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.
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 (http://www.freeantennas.com/). 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!