Show of 04-02-2016

Tech Talk
April 2, 2016
Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Barbie in Reston: Dear Doc and Jim. My health app does not have any data. Steps and Distance have data. I have an iPhone 5S. Enjoy the podcast. Barbie in Reston.
  • Tech Talk Responds: I have bad news for you. The iPhone5S does not have a barometer, which is the sensor that is used to measure altitude. The barometer was not until the iPhone6. You will just have to remove Stairs from the Dashboard for now and wait until you upgrade.
  • Email from Mike in Maryland: Hello “Classroom of the Airwaves.” Can you recommend a 6 inch smartphone? The ageing process has reduced my eye vision. I have a 5 inch Motorola G smartphone (2nd generation), but the 5 inch screen is now too small for my eye vision. I feel even a 5.7 inch screen is too small. I am not interested in Apple or Samsung products. Can you recommend another reliable brand with a 6 inch screen? Love your show! Mike from Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are looking for a phablet. Most of the phablets have screen sizes of 5.5 to 5.7 inches. There are several in this category, including Samsung and iPhone. Most of these phablets are running the Android OS. If you really want a big screen, you can get a full tablet with phone capability. Asus Fonepad 8 has all the functionality of a tablet plus voice call and phone messaging functionalities. It has an 8-inch and a 12 hour battery life. I would also suggest that you search the accessibility sites for android apps that appeal to you. There are many magnifiers and voice activated options.
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz. Are you familiar with “How to Geek Newsletter?” Interesting tidbits of IT information. Much of the info over my head or applicable for me, but interesting none the less. You’d understand all of it. Great show. Thanks. Arnie, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: Arnie, that is a great website. Very clearly written with good, practical advice. Link to site:
  • Email from Jim in the Studio: Doc, I use my iPhone as my alarm clock. As you know, because of my job, I keep odd hours. Is there a way to mute the speaker and have the alarm to play only through my headphones? I’ve tried all of the obvious means to turn the speaker off. Signed: Trying not to wake the neighbors (from the other side of the studio). 
  • Tech Talk Responds: No, unfortunately there is no such setting. Your best bet is probably to use a 3rd party app with alarm clock functionality. That way it will only play the sound through the headphones and not the speakers. The main disadvantage is that you would need to remember to keep the app launched before you go to bed each time.
  • Another option is to mute the voice before inserting the earphones and then put in the earphones and set the volume. This way the alarm sound will only come through the earphones because you have muted your phone, not the earphones. You could also record a silent alarm and then used that as the sound and set the alarm to vibrate. The vibration works really well if you put the phone next to or under your pillow.
  • Email from XX: Dear Doc and Jim. Years ago when I created an Xbox live account, I used a Hotmail since I didn’t have Gmail. My PC uses my Gmail as my Microsoft account, and there’s an Xbox app on my PC. I don’t like having two emails. I in fact despise my Hotmail. Can I merge them and delete the Hotmail entirely while saving the info to my Gmail. 
  • Tech Talk Responds: If your Gmail Microsoft account does not have a Gamertag, you can move your Xbox Live profile information over from your Hotmail Microsoft account. You could then set up the Hotmail account to auto forward to the Gmail account, so you never have to really bother with it except in specific occasions.
  • Email from Alex: Dear Doc and Jim. What is a hardware hypervisor? I don’t know a lot about VMs but the concept seems like an oxymoron to me. If the OS is being run on hardware, how is it “virtual?” Enjoy the podcast. Alex
  • Tech Talk Responds: A Hypervisor is basically an operating system that’s designed to do one thing: run virtual operating systems on top of itself. The Hypervisor creates virtual computers that use the physical hardware in a shared fashion, and then shows them as if they were normal computer hardware, and thus you get the ability to run multiple virtual computers on one piece of hardware. A Type 1 Hypervisor that runs directly on the hardware. For example, VMware ESXi (part of vSphere). A Type 2 Hypervisor would be VMware Workstation, which runs on top of Windows, and then you can run virtual computers on top of it and Windows.
  • Email from XX: Are the high end routers a rip-off? I saw a post about the new Asus router, ASUS RT-AC5300 for $375. I was wondering if it’s all just a gimmick. Are the 20-70 dollar routers just as good? Enjoy the show. XX
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is a commercial grade router for a small office. It is a tri-band (dual 5 GHz, single 2.4 GHz) with the latest 802.11ac 4×4 technology for maximum throughput (5334 Mbps) and coverage (up to 5,000 sq. ft.). It is probably overkill for your application, unless you are a heavy gamer or Netflix user with many computers, and a large house. 
  • Typically higher-end Routers are higher quality because they use better internal chipsets, as well as, better hardware-design and better coded firmware. A $100 to $150 router is going to be a better performing Router than a cheap $20 you got on a Wal-Mart sale day. Better routers can handle a higher number of simultaneous connections. The sweet spot for a home router is around $100. Make certain to get a dual band router (5.8 GHz and 2.4 GHz).
  • Email from Andy: Dear Doc and Jim. Where can I purchase a small, hidden camera? I share a room with my brother. But everyone in the house is denying turning it off every time it happens. Someone keeps entering my room and turning off the switch for the plugs, even when my PS4 is on or in rest mode. It is really beginning to bug me. I don’t want to spend too much. Thanks, Andy.
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are many hidden camera options available. One particular vendor has many form factors (clocks, power adapters, etc.) for as low as $80.
  • Check out:
Profiles in IT: Andrew Stephen Grove
  • Andrew Stephen Grove was one of the founders and the CEO of Intel Corporation, author. He has been called the “guy who drove the growth phase” of Silicon Valley.
  • Andrew Stephen “Andy” Grove was born September 2, 1936 in Budapest, Hungary.
  • Grove was born to a middle-class Jewish family. At the age of four he contracted scarlet fever, which was nearly fatal and caused partial hearing loss.
  • When he was eight, the Nazis occupied Hungary and began deporting Jews to concentration camps. To avoid being arrested, Grove and his mother took on false identities and were sheltered by friends.
  • During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, when he was 20, he left his home and family and escaped across the border into Austria. 
  • In 1957, penniless and barely able to speak English, he made his way to the US.
  • That same year, he met his future wife, Eva Kastan, a fellow refugee. They met at work. He was a busboy and she was a waitress. They married in June 1958. 
  • In 1960, he received a BS in Chemical Engineering from the City College of NY.
  • In 1963, he received a PhD from University of California, Berkeley.
  • After graduation, Grove worked at Fairchild Semiconductor as a researcher and by 1967 had become its assistant director of development.
  • His work there made him familiar with the early development of integrated circuits, which would lead to the “microcomputer revolution” in the 1970s. 
  • In 1967, he wrote a college textbook on the subject, Physics and Technology of Semiconductor Devices.
  • In 1968, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore co-founded Intel, after they and Grove left Fairchild Semiconductor. Grove joined on the day of its incorporation.
  • Grove worked initially as the company’s director of engineering and helped start manufacturing operations. Intel primarily manufactured memory chips, DRAM.
  • By 1985, in the face of stiff Japanese competition Grove discontinued producing DRAMs and focused on microprocessors. He played a key role in negotiating with IBM to use only Intel microprocessors in all their new personal computers.
  • Grove was Intel’s president in 1979, its CEO in 1987 and its Chairman and CEO in 1997. He relinquished his CEO title in May 1998.
  • As CEO, Grove oversaw Intel’s market value increase from $4 billion to $197 billion.
  • Grove helped create the Intel Architecture Laboratory (IAL) in Oregon to ensure that software was developed in time to take advantage of their new microprocessors. 
  • He created a culture within Intel that allowed innovation to flourish. 
  • He became known for his guiding motto: “Only the paranoid survive,” and wrote a management book with the same title in 1996.
  • He also wrote over 40 technical papers and held several patents on semiconductor devices.
  • In 1997 Time magazine chose him “Man of the Year”.
  • In 2006 his $26 million donation to his alma mater, City College of New York.
  • He died at his home on March 21, 2016; the cause of death was unspecified.
Crazy Idea of the Week: Lie of Facebook to Fool Identity Thieves
  • A few well place lies can make the identity thief’s job a real nightmare.
  • This is why you should lie as much as possible on your Facebook profile.
  • Key dates, names of your pets, etc.
  • A 2014 study found that a fifth of young Facebook users admitted to lying on the site about things such as relationship status and job promotions. So why not make it complete?
  • If Facebook doesn’t know which version of you is the real one, would it not also be harder for an identity thief to figure it out.
Website of the Week: Free Code Camp
  • Link:
  • What is Free Code Camp is an open source community that helps students learn to code. Students work through our self-paced coding challenges, build projects, and earn certifications. 
  • The site connects coders with people in their city so they can code together. Hundreds of people have gotten software engineering jobs after completing our coding challenges.
  • A lot of coding boot camps use Free Code Camp as part of their curriculum. Their curriculum, nonprofit projects, and verified certifications are all free.
  • The site offers four free verified certifications: front end development, back end development, data visualization, and full stack development.
  • Once you finish the first three certifications, you’ll get to build a series of solutions for nonprofits. You’ll work in pairs, under the supervision of a volunteer project manager and a stakeholder from the nonprofit.
  • It takes about 2,080 hours to earn all four of our certifications. This translates into one year of full-time coding. We’re completely self-paced though, so take as long as you need.
Apache Spark will Dominate the Big Data
  • The Apache Spark Big Data processing framework will account for more than a third of all Big Data spending by 2022, according to a recent Wikibon report
  • The role of Apache Spark is set to expand significantly in the next six years, to the point that by 2022 it will account for 37 percent of all Big Data spending, which is forcast to be close to 470 billion a year.
  • This massive expansion will be driven by evolution of Big Data applications towards “continuous, real-time processing of vast streams of data”, of which Spark will be a “crucial catalyst”.
  • At present, most Spark users have adopted the technology in order to address the limitations of Apache Hadoop, the current number one Big Data technology.
  • By 2026, Gilbert estimates that 59 percent of all Big Data spending will be tied to Apache Spark or related streaming analytics technologies in some way, with these technologies eventually automating many of the tasks that are currently fulfilled by data engineers and data.
Most Demanded Job for CIS Grads
  • Computer Science is one of the most diverse fields in the world. It’s not just about making complex games or hacking into top secret archives. Here are some of the popular directions in the field.
    • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
    • Data Science
    • Virtual Reality
    • Internet of Things & Augmented Reality
    • Back-End Development
    • Front-End Development
    • Full Stack Engineers
    • IT Managers
    • Quality Assurance Experts
Amazon’s Alexa Great for the Elderly
  • Amazon’s Echo has won praise from tech gurus for its invisible technology that responds to spoken commands and questions. 
  • Voice commands can prompt Alexa to do everything from playing music to adding items to an Amazon shopping list to answering questions and giving weather, traffic and news updates
  • The device is also gaining support among disabled adults and the elderly. Among the more than 30,000 customer reviews on the Amazon website are those from caregivers for wheelchair-bound relatives who love the control that Alexa gives them over their environment, and also from family members of older adults who enjoy Alexa’s companionship and help.
  • Alexa wasn’t designed for older adults, and experts say that might be part of its appeal with that demographic. 
  • The device avoids the bland aesthetic that has traditionally characterized assistive devices, which turns off consumers who don’t self-identify as old — that is, pretty much everyone. 
  • Alexa’s promise to alleviate loneliness in older adults and plans to test the device with some of his elderly clients soon. 
  • Among older adults, a sense of companionship can mean the difference between sickness and health. Research has shown how loneliness causes people to become physically ill. 
  • Alexa can tell the date and time, as well as respond to questions whose answers might have slipped from memory, such as “When was Ronald Reagan president?”
  • Alexa cannot currently dial 9-1-1, a capability that online reviewers have requested.
  • Alexa does have an Ask My Buddy function to help users in an emergency. Developed by one of the third-party firms that Amazon has invited to create “skills” for Alexa, this function can send phone calls or text messages to up to five contacts. A user would say, “Alexa, ask my buddy Bob to send help” and Bob would get an alert to check in on his friend. 
Build your own Amazon Echo using Raspberry Pi
  • You can build your own Amazon Echo for about $60. 
  • Amazon has posted detailed instructions on how to do so, using a programmable Raspberry Pi computer, an Amazon developer account and some free software.
  • The $60 should cover the cost of a new Pi Model 2, a microSD card to load the software on, a mini mic and an ethernet cable. 
  • You’ll also need a mouse, keyboard and monitor to set things up, but hopefully you have those lying around already.
  • There are a lot of steps involved, but it seems straightforward enough for anyone with an iota of coding experience to try out.
  • However, it’s worth noting that as per the terms of Alexa Voice Services, your DIY device can’t always be listening for a trigger command.
  • Instead, you’ll have to either click on the ‘Start Listening’ button in the app running on the Pi or wire a physical button to your project.
  • This is a great project to try over the weekend.
Google Gives Away $150 Photo Software Suite
  • Google has announced that the entire Nik Collection of image processing tools is now free to download and use.
  • Formerly available at a cost of $150, the suite of seven professional-grade plugins is now available for download without charge in both Mac and Windows versions. 
  • Those who purchased the software in 2016 will receive a full and automatic refund in the next few days, according to Google.
  • The suite comprises Analogue Efex Pro, Colour Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR  Efex Pro, Sharpener  Pro and Dfine. 
  • Together, they provide features such as the ability to emulate classic film stock and lenses as well as creating nuanced color corrections and black and white conversions. There are also plugins for creating HDR effects and tools for sharpening up details and reducing image noise.
  • Of course, many of these tasks are already possible in applications such as Adobe Lightroom, but Google’s dedicated plugins provide a much greater degree of control and they are FREE.