July 30, 2016
Best of Tech Talk Edition
- Segments replayed from previous shows
Email and Forum Questions
- Email from Mary in Bethesda:Dear Dr. Shurtz. Here is a sample of the 1,000+ spam emails I get a day into my professional email (personal) inbox on my iMac. This is maddening and such a waste of time daily deleting this spam. I hope you can recommend something I can do about this. I have 15 different email accts that feed into my MAIL application on the iMac. When I attempt to delete the spam, Apple MAIL app then asks if I want to delete ALL the spam in totality from the 15 accts, which I can’t do because I have to check each individual email acct first. Apple said that Gmail is suffering from a spam attack. Can you describe what a Spam Attack is and how I can set my Gmail acct settings to minimize the 700-2000 spam emails I get daily. Thanks. Mary Bethesda. I listen every Sat trying to learn all I can about IT.
- Tech Talk Responds: I would simply not transfer the Gmail spam to Apple Mail. Gmail spam is deleted in 30 days automatically and this spam filter is very good. Go to Apple Mail. Then select Preferences ? Accounts ? Mailbox behaviors and then disable the store junk messages on server. Do this first for the Gmail account. This should fix your problem. Gmail does have lots of spam and I have never found an actual message in the Gmail spam folder. There is nothing you can do with Gmail setting to get rid of the Spam attack. Google has handled by putting the spam into the spam folder using crowdsources data.
- Email from James Messick:I keep getting a failure when I try to download this file on my Pod Catcher. Best.
- Talk Responds: James we are in the process of porting the Tech Talk radio site to a new and faster server. It should be up and running this week. In the meantime, you can listen to the show form the Federal News Radio site. The link to this site is:http://custom.federalnewsradio.com/tech-talk-radio.
- Email from Mary Kay in Fairfax:Dear Doc and Jim. I would like to use the iPhone test mode on my iPhone to check the signal strength with my home, especially he basement. What are my options? Love the show Mary Kay in Fairfax.
- Tech Talk Responds: The iPhone has a hidden “field test” mode that shows all kinds of technical details about signal strength, cell towers, and more. Poor signal strength could be your carrier’s fault, or it could be because of signal-blocking materials in your home’s walls. Even in urban areas dense with cell towers, signal strength can vary widely depending on the phone’s carrier and current location.
- In any of these situations, knowing your phone’s precise signal strength rather than just a vague range of 1-5 bars can really help you diagnose the problem, and figure out the best way to fix it. And that’s where your iPhone’s field test mode comes in.
- You can access the field test mode on any iPhone. All you have to do is fire up your phone app, dial the following code: *3001#12345#*
- Your iPhone will enter a field test mode that offers up several menus of technical measurements. Most of these are only useful if you’re developing phones or testing cell towers.
- To view your signal strength in iOS 9, you’ll use a little trick to replace your bars on your main screen with the signal strength measurement. Hold down the Power button until the “Slide to Power Off” message appears, but don’t power off. Let go of the Power button and then press and hold your Home button until your home screen reappears. You should now see the signal strength displayed where your bars used to be. This change will last until you restart your phone (or until you repeat the process above). You can also tap the signal strength number to switch between signal strength and bars.
- Email from Charu in India:Dear Doc and Jim. A few weeks ago, I installed Ad Block on Internet Explorer and now some sites are blocking me. How can I disable it for a particular site? This is getting frustrating. Love the show. Charu in India
- Tech Talk Responds: Although preventing ads from showing up in Internet Explorer streamlines your Web browsing experience, ad blockers can occasionally cause websites to perform poorly by inadvertently blocking essential content. Open Internet Explorer. Click the “Simple Adblock” logo located on the status bar at the bottom of Internet Explorer to display the Simple Adblock menu. Click “Disable Simple Adblock” to disable all advertisement blocking. To disable ad blocking only on certain websites, navigate to the site on which you want to disable ad blocking. Click the “Simple Adblock” logo on the status bar, highlight “Disable Simple Adblock On the Current Site. If the status bar is not visible, right click on the top menu bar and check Status Bar.
- Email from Ngoc in Ohio: Dear Doc and Jim. My iPhone is not acting properly. My LinkedIn app is very slow and has trouble displaying my contacts. When I look at my Mail, it has to download the emails each time that I open the application. It does ot save them between uses. Sometimes the mail application and LinkedIn just close without warning. I need help. What are my options? Love the podcast here in Ohio. Ngoc in Cleveland, Ohio.
- Tech Talk Responds: This is common behavior when an iPhone runs out of memory. Applications stop working and storage functions are minimized. I would recommend that you start deleting items you don’t need (iMessages with pictures, large applications). To identify large applications go to Settings/General/Storage & Cloud Usage/Manage Storage. The memory hogs will be at the top of the list. Then I would look at hour pictures. They can take a lot memory. You can transfer them to your laptop and then delete them or you can store only thumbnails on your iPhone with the high resolution photos stored on the cloud. Go to Settings/iCloud/Photos. Click on Optimize iPhone Storage.
- Email from Karen in West Virginia: Dear Doc and Jim. I have so many pictures on my digital camera and would like to make an album. What are my options? I would like to have a system that is simple to use so my daughter can help me. Love the show. Karen in West Virginia.
- Tech Talk Responds: The website that his very high ratings for ease of use is Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com). I have use it and like it. They support a wide range of album formats, as well as, cards, calendars, mugs, etc. You simply upload your pictures to the site and select which ones you want in the album. You then simply drag each photo from the tray to the album. They even have an option to automatically populate an album for you, if you are in a hurry. There are many album out set, but this one is easy to use and not too expensive. A 20 page hard cover album is $30 to print with each additional page 90 cents. Shutterfly has an easy to navigate website and has apps for both iPhone and Android. Using these apps you can upload pictures directly to the sight from our phone.
- Email from Arnie in Colorado: Hi Dr. Shurtz, Have you heard about this flashlight intrusion? Apparently it was on a Fox News program also. What next? As you know, I moved to Colorado Springs last May. I thought Verizon FIOS was a challenge at times. Have Comcast Xfinity now. At times have to reboot it often. Have Ooma now also as you’ve mentioned on Tech Talk many times. So far it works great. Good luck with the blizzard this weekend. Payback for the 70° you had Christmas. Arnie in Colorado Springs, CO.
- Tech Talk Responds: Free flashlight apps tend to make money by collecting information and selling it to advertisers. I don’t think there is real hacking here. I got rid of all my flashlight apps when the iPhone iOS could turn on the LED directly. Glad Ooma is working for you. I love my Ooma. Actually Arnie, I was in California during the snow and only suffered from some rain and overcast. But coming home was a trip.
- Email from Alice in Alexandria: Dear Tech Talk. I received password reset requests for my account. Since I have two email addresses associated with my Facebook account, I had the same series of request in both inboxes. The problem is that I didn’t request a reset. Is my Facebook account being hacked?” Enjoy the podcast because I sleep in on Saturday. Alice in Alexandria.
- Tech Talk Responds: A series of Facebook password-reset notifications may or may not indicate that someone was actively attempting to hack my Facebook account. Probably someone attempted to log in to Facebook with the wrong email address. Not realizing they’ve typed in their own email address incorrectly, or not understanding that the email address they’re typing in isn’t theirs, they then assume it’s the password that’s at fault, and they start the password-reset process. The real owner of the email address then gets the password-reset confirmation emails.
- But hacking, or rather an attempted hack, is certainly a possibility. In order for the password-reset approach to work, the hacker needs access to the email account associated with the Facebook account. In other words, they somehow need to intercept the password-reset confirmation email message Facebook sends, and act on it. Once they do, they can reset the Facebook account password.
- Typically that means the email account or accounts associated with the Facebook account have themselves already been hacked. All the hacker really needs is access to the email messages sent to those email accounts.
- To protect your account, I would recommend two-factor authentication. In Facebook’s Security Settings, you can turn on two : Login Approvals and Code Generator. Login Approvals is two-factor authentication.
- The technique is very simple: when you log in to Facebook from a device you’ve never logged in from before3, Facebook requires you to enter a code (which is sent as a text to your phone) before it allows the login to succeed. The “Get codes” option allows you to plan ahead for when you have no phone or text coverage by procuring a set of 10 single-use codes to keep with you to use if needed.
- If you don’t have the phone, or the codes, then you can’t log in, even if you have the correct password.
- Email from Mimi in Orlando: Dear Doc and Jim. I use MAC address filtering and don’t use WPA. I realize that means I must physically enter the MAC address of each device that wants to connect to my network, but I believe that MAC address filtering is also a viable security solution (with or without WPA or WEP). What are your thoughts? Love the show. Mimi in Orlando.
- Tech Talk Responds: The short answer is that is not very secure. A MAC, or “Media Access Control” address, is a theoretically unique identifier assigned to every network interface card. It is the hardware network address. The Ethernet port on my desktop machine has a different MAC address than the Ethernet port on my laptop, which is different than the Ethernet port of Mary Ann’s laptop.
- The MAC address itself is never encrypted. Even if you specify WPA2 encryption on your wireless connection, the MAC address itself is not encrypted. It can’t be, as it’s required to tell the computers involved which computer is supposed to receive the packet. Your data is encrypted, of course, but the MAC address is not.
- So, let’s say a somewhat knowledgeable hacker is interested in accessing your WiFi hotspot, on which you have MAC address filtering turned on. He needs only needs to sniff the network and look at the MAC addresses which are allowed access to the WiFi and then configure his network interface to use one of those MAC addresses. This is called MAC address cloning. It takes minutes to do this.
- Therefore, use WPA2 for more effective security and forget MAC address filtering.
Profiles in IT: Matti Makkonen
- Matti Makkonen is a Finnish mobile phone pioneer and “Father of Text Messaging.”
- Matti Makkonen was born April 16, 1952 in Suomussalmi, Finland.
- He received a BS (1975) and MS (1976) in Electronics from Oulu University.
- He started his career in 1976 in the radio department of Finnish PTT, later Sonera.
- He worked on the international project, NMT (Nordic Mobile Telephone).
- In 1984, he was appointed as VP and was involved in the development of the GSM.
- GSM was first a Nordic idea, then a European effort and finally a global standard.
- In 1984, over a pizza at a telecoms conference, Matti proposed a mobile phone messaging service. This was to become the SMS (short message service) standard.
- In 1989, he was appointed president of the mobile communication unit, which had been renamed Telecom Finland.
- On December 2, 1992, the first text message using Matti’s idea was sent from a PC to a mobile device using Vodafone’s UK network. It said, “Merry Christmas.”
- The real launch of the service was when Nokia introduced the first phone that enabled easy writing of messages in 1994 using the Nokia 2010 mobile phone.
- Matti dislikes the distinction of being “father of SMS, “because other did much of work to develop the technology.
- He did not consider SMS as personal achievement but rather the result of a joint effort to collect ideas and write the specifications of the services based on them.
- In 1995, he was appointed VP of the Mobile Communications Group.
- In 2000, Makkonen joined Nokia as Head of Networks Professional Services, leading network planning, implementation, operating, optimization, and system integration.
- The same year, he was briefly the President and board member of the Mobile Internet operator unit of the company, which at that point had been renamed TeliaSonera.
- In February 2003, he was appointed CEO of Finnet Group Ltd., consisting of the joint efforts of the local Telco’s, like Finland’s fastest growing mobile operator, DNA.
- In 2006, he served on the Board and consultant for Tieto-X and the PR agency Evia.
- In 2008, Makkonen was awarded The Economist Innovation Award in the computing and telecommunications category for his work on text messaging (SMS).
- In 2010, he was appointed CEO of Anvia, a telco in Western Finland that expanded into IT services, security solutions and TV broadcasting. He retired in 2013.
- He did not patent the idea and never received any money for the invention. He does not believe it was a patentable innovation and is glad that it became part of GSM.
- As you might expect, he does not like text speak, sexting, or text spam. He preferred a touch screen, rather than a keyboard, for texting.
- On June 26, 2015, died at age 63 from complications caused by an illness. The “grand old man of mobile phone technology” is gone.
Tip of the Week: Getting Rid of Headphone Cable Kinks
- Tip from Kevin on Lifehacker Website
- He accidentally let my ear buds go through the washer and dryer. They still functioned well, but the cords were all curved and bunched up.
- To correct this wrapped the wires around a class of water and tapes them in place.
- He poured in boiling water and let the glass cool to room temperature.
- It worked perfectly, removing all the kinks from the headphones.
Space Elevator Conference
- The Space Elevator Conference is being held in Seattle, Washington, this weekend.
- The primary goal of this conference is to get technical people together to talk about the technical barriers to deployment. The secondary goal is to raise public awareness. The third goal is to showcase a breakthrough.
- They are always hoping that someone will show up with a carbon nanotube ribbon that is strong enough to build a space elevator. Carbon nanotubes are the main structure they’re experimenting with to build space elevators. They are constructed of interlinking carbon atoms, rolled into a cylinder, and make incredibly lightweight, strong and flexible structures.
- Carbon nanotubes also have very high-strength properties. Large scale carbon nanotubes might take 50 more years. Since they were invented in 1991, that would put us at 2041.
- The biggest fear of the conference goers is that funding will be cut because of austerity measures.
- Space elevators are important because they would drop the cost of space access by a factor of 10. The problem with taking people up is that elevators, as we conceive of them now, move pretty slowly, and getting through radiation belts in short periods of time would require higher-speed elevators.
- Hopefully, larger space elevators would not just be faster, but the larger elevator capacity would have climbers that are shielded so humans inside are shielded, so we can start to introduce people into the elevator equation.
- I love this kind of research. It is really science fiction personified.
String Theory — Breakthrough or Cruel Hoax?
- String Theory debate Wednesday, March 28, 2007
- Hosted by Smithsonian Institute and Department of Energy
- Brian Greene, String Theorist, author The Elegant Universe
- Lawrence Kraus, Elementary Particle Physicist, author of Hiding in the Mirror : The Mysterious Allure of Extra Dimensions, from Plato to String Theory and Beyond. Also wrote The Physics of Star Trek and Beyond Star Trek
- The entire Baird Auditorium was sold out
- String theory is an attempt to unify the two pillars of modern science: Quantum Mechanics (the very small) and General Relativity (the very large).
- String theory proposes that all elementary particles are are made of tiny, vibrating strings of energy.
- String theory requires the existence of six (or seven) extra spatial dimensions, "hidden" dimensions curled in tiny geometric shapes at every single point in our universe.
- Each universe or reality is actually a ten dimensional membrane (or brane) within an eleven dimensional world
- According to string theory mathematics, the extra dimensions could adopt any of tens of thousands of possible shapes, each shape theoretically corresponding to its own universe with its own set of physical laws.
- The question remains: how are the extra dimensions folded?
- Arguments in favor of theory
- Only theory that currently embraces both Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity
- Actually predicted gravity
- Experimental verification possible, but difficult
- Three possible ways to experimentally verify the theory
- Distribution of background radiation created by the Big Bang.
- Planck satellite to be launched by EU should be sensitive enough to measure this.
- The shapes of extra dimensions can be "seen" by deciphering their influence on cosmic energy released by the violent birth of the universe over13 billion years ago
- Observation of harmonics when atoms collide in atom smashers.
- Hopes that the Large Hadron collider at CERN will do it
- Looking harmonic frequencies of the basic string resonance frequency as indirect proof of strings
- Energy leakage when atoms collide
- Energy lost is caused by presence of additional dimensions.
- Based on the fact that total energy must be conserve
- Arguments against theory
- Never experimentally verified
- No actual quantifiable predictions yet and probably never
- Extra dimensions are not natural and actually a fudge factor
- Still not proven after 37 years
- For those who are interested in String Theory
- The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene (in paperback and hardback)
- The Elegant Universe, 3-hour PBS Series, hosted by Brian Greene
- Home Page:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/
- Distribution of background radiation created by the Big Bang.