July 16, 2016
Email and Forum Questions
- Email from Mary Kay in Alexandria: Dear Doc and Jim. Should I Upgrade to Windows 10? The free Windows upgrade ends on July 29, 2016. I have to make a decision on whether to upgrade from Windows 7 Help! Enjoy the show. Mary Kay in Alexandria
- Tech Talk Responds: I have been using Windows 10 for nearly a year and it is solid. So the short answer is yes. Windows 10 is better. It’s faster, more secure, richer in features, and compatible with and able to exploit all the features of the latest hardware. It is definitely an improvement over Windows 8, and even over Windows 7, which was my previous OS.
- However, if your hardware has issues with Windows 10, then upgrading isn’t the right thing to do. Similarly, if applications you use and rely on won’t work in Windows 10, then, again, Windows 10 is not the way to go.
- The Windows 10 compatibility check tells you can’t upgrade. Unfortunately, that check is sometimes wrong, particularly with peripheral devices, like printers or scanners. If you have Windows XP, your hardware probably won’t be suitable.
- Many are worried about privacy issues. I believe that MS is collecting all this data in the aggregate to understand how people (not individuals) use the product and to make the product better. So I don’t think privacy is a reason to avoid upgrade.
- Before upgrading, back up everything. I mean make a complete image backup – a backup image of the entire machine. If, after upgrading, you find that Windows 10 fails miserably, you don’t like it, you can restore to that backup image.
- Email from Kevin in Manassas: Dear Tech Talk. I have a lot about Pokémon Go. What is it and how does it work? I have heard some bad things about it and have wondered whether I should let my kids us it. Love the podcast. Kevin in Manassas.
- Tech Talk Responds: In simple terms, Pokémon Go is a game that uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when you are in the game and make Pokémon “appear” around you (on your phone screen) so you can go and catch them. As you move around, different and more types of Pokémon will appear depending on where you are and what time it is. The idea is to encourage you to travel around the real world to catch Pokémon in the game. This mix of a game and the real world interacting is known as “augmented reality.” Pokémon Go is now available for a free download on Android and iOS. It’s so popular that it’s now competing with Twitter in terms of daily active users on Android.
- The Pokémon games take place in a world populated by exotic, powerful monsters — they can look like rats, snakes, dragons, dinosaurs, birds, eggs, trees, and even swords. In this world, people called “trainers” travel around the globe to tame these creatures and, in an ethically questionable manner, use them to fight against each other. The you can go to stop to get prizes. When you are Level 5, you can go the gym and compete with other trainers.
- Two issues are: privacy because it grabs all your Google data (they are fixing this), battery drain (they say they are fixing this), and dangerous settings (criminals have waited at remote Pokémon locations to attack). This last warning is real, so beware.
- Email from Jim in Michigan: Dear Tech Talk. Why does antivirus software quarantine viruses and malware instead of completely deleting them? I think it would be better to make sure your computer is safe by completely getting rid of them. How can I manually remove quarantined items? Enjoy the podcast. Jim in Michigan
- Tech Talk Responds: Anti-malware applications provide a quarantine option, which is often on by default for two reasons:
- Keeping a backup of the items identified as threatening in case of a false positive. Although not very common, I have seen cases of false positives on many different legitimate application files and drivers.
- Having the items in quarantine may allow for them to be better (further) investigated. The fact that a particular virus or malware matches a known signature does not mean that it is exactly the same, but may actually have other unique characteristics.
- If a virus or malware has embedded itself into a file you actually want, such as a Word document or similar, then outright deletion may be the worst option from the user’s perspective. Quarantine at least gives you a chance, however risky, to get the actual file contents you need back.
- Email from Tina in Ohio: Dear Tech Talk. How can I delete an iMessage for SMS from my iPhone? I want to keep some of the messages, but not all of them. Tina in Ohio
- Tech Talk Responds: First, we’ll look at deleting specific messages from a conversation. In your Messages app, tap the conversation to open it. In the conversation, tap and hold any message. On the pop-up that appears, tap “More”.
- Tapping “More” reveals selection bubbles you can use to select one or more messages in the thread. When you’ve got the messages selected that you want to delete, tap the trash can icon at the bottom left. Just note that iOS won’t ask you to confirm your choice, so be sure you’ve selected the right messages before hitting delete.
- You can also delete entire conversations at once. Back at the main messages view, just slide a conversation to the left to reveal a Delete button. Tap the button to delete the whole conversation.
- And finally, you can delete multiple conversations at a time. On the main Messages screen, tap “Edit.” Tapping “Edit” reveals selection bubbles you can use to select as many conversations as you want. When you’ve selected the conversations you want to delete, tap “Delete” at the bottom right. And once again, there’s no additional confirmation. The deletion happens right away.
- By the way, getting rid of iMessages can free a lot of memory, if your messages contain photos. Those photos use valuable memory and may be keeping you from taking more pictures.
Profiles in IT: John Hanke
- John Hanke a computer scientist best known as creator of Google Earth, Google Maps, and Pokémon Go.
- John Hanke was born in 1989 and grew up in Cross Plains, Texas.
- In 1989, John received his BS with Honors from the University of Texas at Austin.
- He then worked in Foreign Affairs for the State Department in the US and Myanmar.
- In 1996, he received an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.
- While still a student, he co-founded Archetype Interactive to develop games.
- At Archetype, John co-created the very first MMO (massively multiplayer online game) called Meridian 59. They sold the company to 3DO in June 1996.
- In 1998, was co-founder and COO of Big Network, a multiplayer game company
- In 2000, John launched Keyhole to link maps with aerial photography to create the first online, GPS-linked 3D aerial map of the world. Keyhole was VC backed.
- In 2004, Google bought Keyhole to augment its mapping efforts. After the purchase, John ran the Google Geo team, creating Google Maps and Google Street View.
- In 2010, John launched Niantic Labs, as a startup funded by Google to create a game layer on maps.
- Niantic was a whaleship that brought fortune-seekers to San Francisco during the California Gold Rush of 1849. Run aground and converted into a store ship and hotel, she was a prominent landmark in the city for several years.
- In 2012, John then created Niantic’s first geo-based MMO, “Ingress”.
- In the case of Ingress, the activity is layered on top of the real world and on your phone. The inspiration was something that John used to daydream about while he was commuting back and forth from home to Google.
- In 2014, Google and the Pokémon Company teamed up for an April Fools’ Day joke, which allowed viewers to find Pokémon creatures on Google maps.
- It was a viral hit and got John thinking the idea could be turned into a real game.
- John decided to build Pokémon Go on the user-generated meeting points created by players of Ingress.
- He had two and a half years of people going to all the places where they thought they should be able to play Ingress, so it’s some pretty remote places.
- John raised $25 million from Google, Nintendo, the Pokémon Company and other investors from Dec 2015 to Feb 2016 to grow a team of 40+ to launch Pokémon Go.
- John and his team launched Pokémon Go on July 6th in USA, Australia and New Zealand.
- Since its launch, Nintendo’s share price has risen $12 billion, and the app is already generating over $2 million daily in in-app purchases, making it an overnight phenomenon.
- The overnight success of Pokémon Go has taken John Hanke 20 years to create.
Fake Pokémon Go app on Google Play infects phones with screenlocker
- Malware purveyors trying to capitalize on the ongoing Pokémon Go frenzy.
- Researchers from antivirus provider Eset report finding at least three malicious apps in the Google-hosted marketplace.
- Of the three, the one titled “Pokemon Go Ultimate” posed the biggest threat because it deliberately locks the screen of devices immediately after being installed.
- In many cases, restarting an infected phone isn’t enough to unlock the screen. Infected phones can ultimately be unlocked either by removing the battery or by using the Android Device Manager.
- Once the screen has been unlocked and the device has restarted, the app—which by now has the title PI Network—is removed from the device’s app menu. Still, it continues to run in the background and surreptitiously clicks on ads in an attempt to generate revenue for its creators.
- Eset discovered two other fake Pokémon Go apps inhabiting Google Play, one named “Guide & Cheats for Pokemon Go” and the other “Install Pokemongo.” Both deliver ads carrying fraudulent, scary-sounding messages that are designed to trick users into buying expensive, unnecessary services.
- One such message claims the device is infected with malware and prompts the user to spend money to get the malicious apps removed.
- People who want to run Pokémon Go on their Android phone should download the app only from Google Play, and even then, they should closely inspect the publisher, the number of downloads, and other data for signs of fraud before
This malware pretends to be WhatsApp, Uber and Google Play
- Hackers are stealing credit card information in Europe with malware that can spoof the user interfaces of Uber, WhatsApp and Google Play.
- The malware, which has struck Android users in Denmark, Italy and Germany, has been spreading through a phishing campaign over SMS.
- Once downloaded, the malware will create fake user interfaces on the phone as an “overlay” on top of real apps. These interfaces ask for credit card information and then send the entered data to the hacker.
- This family of malware continues to evolve. Since February, FireEye has observed 55 malicious programs in Europe that use the same overlay technique.
- Earlier versions targeted banking apps, but now the malware can spoof the interfaces to more popular software, including WhatsApp and Google Play.
- Users tend to input credit card information into these products as well as into banking apps.
- In some cases, the malware has also targeted YouTube, Uber and Chinese messaging app WeChat.
- To spread the malware, the hackers have sent off SMS messages with a link and tricked their victims into clicking on it. One SMS message said: “We could not deliver your order. Please check your shipping information here.”
- Since February, FireEye has noticed that the malware has been spread through five different campaigns. In one campaign, the hackers managed to generate at least 130,000 clicks to the link where the malware was hosted.
- Newer versions of the malware can also be difficult to detect. Only six out of 54 anti-virus tools tested noticed a danger with the malicious coding, according to FireEye.
- The malware has been found contacting servers in the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Italy, Latvia and the Netherlands.
- Beware: coming the US soon.
Tesla Crash Forces Rethinking of Autonomous Cars
- A self-driving Tesla-S failed to register the side of a white tractor-trailer truck against a pale sky.
- The driver was killed when the car ran full speed into the turning tractor trailer truck.
- In its statement on the accident, Tesla is quick to remind us that the 40-year-old man killed in the crash was a technology consultant and autonomous vehicle enthusiast — as if a martyr for the greater cause of civic transportation.
- The driver was watching a DVD moving in the car. It was still playing when the police arrived.
- Had the tractor-trailer also been driven by computer, it could have been on the same network as the Tesla. Like an air traffic control system, the network could have orchestrated the safe passage of both vehicles.
- As autonomous vehicle proponents like to point out, these problems would be solved if robotic cars weren’t required to share the road with humans. We people are the problem,
- It’s an argument reminiscent of that made by early car manufacturers, who were being criticized for the high numbers of pedestrian injuries and fatalities on streets. The companies went on a massive public relations effort to shift the blame, and came up with the term “jay walker” to describe the country rube who didn’t know how to cross a street and was deserving of ridicule.
- Automobile clubs encouraged people to exterminate “the Jay Walker family” – and their little Walker children. Presumably, this was to be done through education, not running them over with cars.
- This also accentuate the difference between Google’s approach an Tesla’s.
- Google is going straight for Level 5 autonomy (no driver at all, complete autonomy). Tesla is releasing Level 3 autonomy now. It will continue to release improvements until full autonomy is reached.
- Clearly drivers are unreliable while beta test the software.