Show of 04-30-2016

Tech Talk

April 30, 2016

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Mike in Maryland: Hello Mr. Big Voice, I have been listening and enjoy every episode of Tech Talk show for several years. I recently sent an e-mail to the Classroom of the Airways about watching the show at a later time. Since I Have a Life, I am busy Saturday mornings and Periscope-live is not for me. On weeknights when I have trouble getting to sleep, I can listen to the show on MP3. The content of the show can put me to sleep in less than 15 minutes, which is much faster than most sleeping pills. Perhaps the 2 fine gentlemen on the show can share their amazing technical skill of putting people to sleep and join forces with some sleep medicine companies. In the meantime, Mr. Big Voice, will you please give them a video camera so as that we can enjoy the show at a later time? Ok, I got to go. I need to set the clock on my VCR! Thanks, Mike from Maryland.
  • Tech Talk Responds: I have been told for years that I have the ability to put people to sleep when I get to techy. And now Mike has provided another great endorsement. We should find a way to package this great service to humanity.
  • Email from Carl Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: For the last two or three weeks I haven’t been able to download any Tech Talk Radio podcasts. My iPhone starts downloading and it quits after the podcast has downloaded only a few minutes of the program or doesn’t download it at all. My phone doesn’t have any trouble downloading other podcasts. Don’t know if it is something on my end or Tech Talk Radio’s. I hope this can be fixed. I really miss hearing your podcast. I don’t know if you commented on the 60 Minutes segment about “Hacking Your Phone” in last week’s podcast but if you haven’t I would be interested to know your thoughts on it. Also I think the guy who was featured on 60 Minutes in the “Hacking Your Phone” segment, Karsten Nohl, would be an interesting person to feature on Profiles in IT. Thanks to you and Jim for a great show. Carl Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: I checked with our IT department. The podcast files are stored on an older server. We are moving the entire show to a new location this week on the cloud. That should solve the problem with MP3 playback. Sorry for the inconvenience. Karsten Nohl is a good suggestion for Profiles in IT. Karsten Nohl. He was a PhD student at the University of Virginia from 2005 to 2008. At the moment, he lives and works in Berlin. His PhD thesis dealt techniques for Implementing Privacy in RFID Systems. His current research focuses on cryptography for small devices and touches on microchip security, privacy protection, and the economics of information. I feature him on a later show.
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Dr. Shurtz, I thought you would like to see this video of a new camera/drone since you have both that you’ve mentioned on Tech Talk before. Lily is the world’s first throw-and-shoot camera. Lily provides twenty minutes of overhead tracking photography. Just throw it into the air. Lily is waterproof, ultra-portable, and shoots stunning HD pictures and video. Arnie, Colorado Springs, CO 
  • Tech Talk Responds: I don’t own this drone yet. I watched the video and love the concept. They even had some kayakers throw it up and if followed them through the rapids. The drone floats and is waterproof. Very impressive. The unit is available for pre-order now for around $900. Link to website:
  • Email from Joy in Maryland: Dear Doc and Jim. I frequently use Uber to go to parties. I know that after each trip, I can rate the driver. I heard that the drivers can rate me. Is there any way to see my rating? I hope that it is not too low, especially after last weekend. Love the show and all the advice. Joy in Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: After every Uber ride, your driver can rate you and you can see your average rating. Start off by opening up the Uber app on your phone and tap on the menu button in the top-left corner of the screen. Select “Account”. In the list, find and select “I’d like to know my rating”. Tap on “Submit”. You’ll get a pop-up that tells you what your passenger rating is out of five stars. Tap “OK” to clear the pop-up. If your Uber passenger rating isn’t as good as you’d hoped, or you just want to keep that perfect five-star rating intact, there are some things you should keep in mind whenever you take an Uber. Don’t keep the driver waiting. Do be loud or boisterous. Don’t be drunk. Don’t damage the car. Normal, courteous, behavior should keep your rating high. BTW, my rating is 4.55. It should have been a 5.
  • Email from Tuc in Virginia Beach: Dear Doc and Jim. I frequently like to copy and paste text from websites. Some websites block the copy and paste function. How can I override this annoyance? Love the show here in Virginia Beach. We listen to the podcast while cruising in our boat. Tuc in Virginia Beach.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Some companies think they’re increasing security by disabling your ability to paste into form fields, such as the password field. But in reality, all they’re doing is frustrating users–and probably decreasing security by blocking password managers. Here’s how to solve this annoyance in Chrome and Firefox. 
  • If Chrome is your browser of choice, the easiest solution to your pasting problems is Don’t F*ck with Paste. Add that extension to Chrome, and it will just work quietly in the background. It tells the browser to accept all paste events and skip any paste event handlers on the page. 
  • Firefox users don’t need to use an extension, but instead can change the browser’s behavior in the configuration settings. Head to about:config in Firefox and click the “I’ll be careful, I promise!” button to proceed past the warning. Search for dom.event.clipboardevents.enabled  in the search box. It’ll be the only option once you type in “”: Double-click on the setting to change the value from “true” to “false”. Now websites can’t mess with your clipboard or block your ability to copy and paste.
  • Email from Tung in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. I have lots of pictures on my iPhone. Sometimes I share my phone with co-workers to show them a single picture or video. However, I don’t want them to look around at other pictures or apps while they have my phone. How can I keep the rest of my stuff private? Love the show. Tung in Ohio. 
  • Tech Talk Responds: This restriction requires the Guided Access feature, which isn’t enabled by default. To enable Guided Access, launch the “Settings” app. Click on General > Accessibility. Scroll down and tap “Guided Access” under Learning. Activate the “Guided Access” slider here and then tap “Passcode Settings” to set a passcode. You can enter the same PIN you use to unlock your iPhone, or set a different PIN–it’s up to you. On iPhones with a Touch ID sensor, you can enable the “Touch ID” option here. 
  • Now, you just need to place your iPhone into Guided Access mode before handing it to someone else. Not only will your iPhone be restricted to only the app you choose, but it won’t display incoming notifications or provide access to the notification center while Guided Access mode is enabled. Any incoming messages you receive will be kept private and for your eyes only.
  • To enable Guided Access mode, open the app you want to use–for example, the Photos app, the Phone app, or a game. Quickly press the “Home” button three times in a row. The Guided Access screen will appear. Tap “Start” in the top-right corner to enter Guided Access mode.
  • Your phone will now be restricted to the single app you chose, and it won’t display any notifications. You can hand the phone to other people, knowing they won’t accidentally see private notifications and ensuring a child playing a game won’t go through your emails and other personal information.
  • To leave Guided Access mode, press the “Home” button three times in a row and enter your PIN. If you enabled Touch ID for this, you can press the Home button once and leave your finger on the sensor. Your iPhone will automatically leave Guided Access mode if it recognizes your fingerprint.
  • If you want to restrict them to one photo, first launch the Photos app and find the one photo you want to show off. Press the “Home” button three times in a row to enable Guided Access mode. Tap the “Options” button at the bottom-left corner of the Guided Access screen and disable the “Touch” option. Tap “Start” or “Resume” at the top-right corner of the screen when you’re done.
Profiles in IT: Palmer Freeman Luckey
  • Palmer Freeman Luckey is the inventor of the Oculus Rift, a HD virtual reality head-mounted display.
  • Luckey was born September 19, 1992 and raised in Long Beach, CA. 
  • He was homeschooled by his mother, took sailing lessons, and liked electronics.
  • From ages 11 to 16, he experimented with a variety of high-voltage electronics projects including coil guns, Tesla coils, and lasers.
  • He built a PC costing tens of thousands of U.S. dollars with six-monitors.
  • He had an intense interest in virtual reality (VR), and built an extensive private collection of over 50 different head-mounted displays, often purchased at auction.
  • To fund these projects, he earned at least US$36,000 by fixing and reselling damaged iPhones, and was also a sailing coach and did boat repair.
  • In 2010, he enrolled in California State University in journalism and EE, where he wrote and served as the online editor for the student-run newspaper, the Daily 49er.
  • He worked as a part-time engineer at the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Southern California as part of a design team for cost-effective virtual reality.
  • Luckey was frustrated with the inadequacy of the existing head-mounted displays.
  • In 2011, he created his first prototype with a 90 degree FOV in his parents’ garage.
  • Palmer bought a used Liquid Image Corporation MRG2 leading to development of a head mounted display with a large high magnification lens and a large LCD screen.
  • Over the next 10 months, he developed prototypes with features like 3D stereoscopy, wireless, and extreme 270-degree FOW, while decreasing size and weight. 
  • His 6th-generation unit was named the “Rift,” and was intended to be sold as a do-it-yourself kit on the Kickstarter crowdfunding website, with a target of 100 customers.
  • John Carmack of id Software, a notable game developer demoed a modified version of id Software’s Doom 3 on the device at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012. 
  • He showed a prototype to Brendan Iribe, a former executive of Gaikai and Scaleform, who invested a few hundred thousand dollars in the Kickstarter campaign.
  • During the Kickstarter campaign, Luckey demoed the Rift at QuakeCon 2012.
  • The Kickstarter campaign was successful, raising US$2.4 million (10,000 units). He raised additional funds from VCs and Brendan Iribe joined his company as CEO.
  • Luckey dropped out of university to focus on the refinement of Oculus Rift.
  • In March 2014, Oculus VR was acquired by Facebook for US$2 billion.
  • Forbes magazine estimated the founder’s net worth to be $700 million in 2015.
  • Today, he continues to work at Oculus VR on core VR technology.
  • He has a casual appearance: he is frequently barefoot, and prefers sandals to shoes even at trade shows and events.
  • Despite his newfound wealth, Luckey lives in a shared house with several others where they regularly play multiplayer videogames.
Driverless Trucks are coming
  • A convoy of self-driving trucks recently drove across Europe and arrived at the Port of Rotterdam. This development will transform trucking.
  • Shipping a full truckload from L.A. to New York costs around $4,500 today, with labor representing 75 percent of that cost.
  • Where drivers are restricted by law from driving more than 11 hours per day without taking an 8-hour break, a driverless truck can drive nearly 24 hours per day. That means the technology would effectively double the output of the U.S. transportation network at 25 percent of the cost.
  • And the savings become even more significant when you account for fuel efficiency gains. The optimal cruising speed from a fuel efficiency standpoint is around 45 miles per hour, whereas truckers who are paid by the mile drive much faster. Further fuel efficiencies will be had as the self-driving fleets adopt platooning technologies, like those from Peloton Technology, allowing trucks to draft behind one another in highway trains.
  • This will also create safety benefits. This year alone more people will be killed in traffic accidents involving trucks than in all domestic airline crashes in the last 45 years combined. At the same time, more truck drivers were killed on the job, 835, than workers in any other occupation in the U.S.
  • The demonstration in Europe shows that driverless trucking is right around the corner.  The primary remaining barriers are regulatory. We still need to create on- and off-ramps so human drivers can bring trucks to the freeways where highway autopilot can take over. We may also need dedicated lanes as slow-moving driverless trucks could be a hazard for drivers.
SpaceX targets 2018 for first Mars mission
  • SpaceX plans to send an unmanned Dragon spacecraft to Mars as early as 2018, a first step in achieving founder Elon Musk’s goal to fly people to another planet.
  • U.S. space agency NASA, which is aiming for a human mission to Mars in the 2030s, said it will provide technical support for SpaceX’s first foray, known as Red Dragon.
  • The SpaceX program is intended to develop technologies needed for human transportation to Mars, a long-term aim for Musk’s privately held company, which is formally known as Space Exploration Technologies.
  • The company said it will provide details of its Mars program at the International Astronautical Congress in September. 
  • “Dragon 2 is designed to be able to land anywhere in the solar system,” Musk posted on Twitter. “Red Dragon Mars mission is the first test flight.”
  • He said that with an internal volume about the size of a sports utility vehicle, the Dragon spacecraft would be uncomfortable for people making the long journey to Mars.
  • SpaceX intends to debut its Mars rocket, a heavy-lift version of the Falcon 9 booster currently flying, later this year.
  • SpaceX now flies cargo versions of its Dragon capsule to and from the International Space Station under a $2 billion resupply services contract with NASA.
  • SpaceX also is upgrading the capsules to carry astronauts, with test flights to the station scheduled for 2017, under a separate NASA contract worth up to $2.6 billion.
  • NASA does not plan to provide financial assistance to SpaceX’s Mars mission. The agency is investing in its own heavy-lift rocket, capsule and launch pad modifications targeting Mars travel.
The Supreme Court Expands FBI Hacking Powers
  • The U.S. Supreme Court approved a new rule Thursday allowing federal judges to issue warrants that target computers outside their jurisdiction.
  • Federal magistrate judges can typically only authorize searches and seizures within their own jurisdiction. Only in a handful of circumstances can judges approve a warrant that reaches beyond their territory.
  • The amendments would allow a magistrate judge to issue a warrant to hack into and seize data stored on a computer, even if that computer’s actual location “has been concealed through technical means.”
  • In other words, under the new rule, a judge in California could approve a warrant allowing federal agents to lawfully hack into a computer without knowing its true location.
  • The Supreme Court’s changes automatically go into effect on December 1 unless Congress votes to override them. 
Device of the Week: Cyrano Scent Speaker
  • You’re hosting a beach-themed party. It looks like a beach party and sounds like a beach party, but it’s missing something. It doesn’t smell like a beach party.
  • Vapor Communications aims to change that with Cyrano, a “scent speaker” that uses multiple, interchangeable scent capsules to make your space smell nice. By mixing up different scents, Cyrano creates different “mood medleys,” emitting scents one after another to trigger different feelings like relaxation, energy or freedom.
  • The cylindrical device, about the size of a squat jar of peanut butter, holds three interchangeable scent capsules at once, each containing four different scents. Some of the smells include lilac, honeysuckle, sunscreen and a bunch more. Instead of emitting one scent for a long time, Cyrano switches between them before your brain has a chance to block out the smell.
  • Cyrano can be controlled with the smartphone app oNotes, which is where you can build your own scent playlists. The device will “play” different scents, switching between chosen odors so you can continue to experience the smells.
  • Scent is perceived differently than things like music or visuals, and different smells can cause visceral reactions before you even realize you’re smelling something.
  • The unit costs $150 and come with a scent package. The scent packages, which last about a month with regular use, cost $20.
  • Website: