Show of 08-06-2016

Tech Talk

August 6, 2016

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Mike in Maryland: Hello Mr. Big Voice, I live on the ground floor of a tall building and local broadcast terrestrial radio reception is difficult to receive here. Last week I emailed you to see if a Wi-Fi radio or something else might help me. You put your crack team of engineers (Richard & Jim) on the case and they came up with a great option: The Amazon Echo. This week a friend that owns the Amazon Echo demonstrated it for me. That thing is amazing! The bass sound in the Echo is great for music. This device is more than just a speaker, because none of the large speakers that I have had for the last ten years does this. What do you see coming down the pipeline? I just seen a short video on Jibo , a social robot with a camera tracker. With Jibo ‘s new technology, is Jibo going to kick the ageing technology of the Amazon Echo to the curb? I love your show. Mike from Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: The Jibo Social Robot was funded with an Indiegogo campaign and raised over $3.7M. The campaign closed September 2014. They are now shipping devices. $760. This device was developed by social robotics pioneer Dr. Cynthia Breazeal. This is similar to an Echo, except it has a camera and screen for a more personal interaction. It is definitely an Echo version 2.0 and is much more interactive, but expensive.
  • The real thing coming down the pike is ubiquitous computer. With voice recognition powered by machine learning and the Internet of Things, our entire house will become a computer interface. Get ready for 2001 Space Odyssey. The most impressive feature of Amazon Echo is the voice recognition. I am certain that Jibo uses the voice recognition API available through either Amazon or Google. That is the real breakthrough. Jibo still needs applications and has released a Software Development Kit (SDK) for developers. I loved Jibo. It is very innovation.
  • Email from Ken in Gaithersburg: Dear Tech Talk. Thank you VERY much for answering my questions! Your answers were extremely helpful! [Incidentally, the reason I thought you would not be there on July 23 is that after the end of the July 16th program, before I closed the Periscope window, I heard you and Jim discussing when the next program or day off would be.  I got the dates backwards because I did not hear clearly; Jim was speaking in a normal conversational voice, not into the microphone. Ken in Gaithersburg
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the feedback. Jim and I are going to have to be careful about what we say after the show. Periscope is everywhere.
  • Email from Wendy in Fairfax: Dear Doc and Jim. I just downloaded and installed the Windows Anniversary Edition. They have now added extensions to the Edge Browser. How can I ad an extension? It it time to switch to Edge? Love the podcast. Wendy in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are correct. Microsoft Edge finally supports browser extensions thanks to Windows 10’s Anniversary Update. Edge extensions are now available in the Windows Store, although only a few are initially available.
  • Microsoft will also be releasing a tool that can easily convert existing Chrome extensions to Edge extensions, as the two are very similar. Firefox’s new extension framework will be much like Chrome’s, too.
  • To install extensions in Microsoft Edge, open the Edge web browser, click or tap the menu button in the top-right corner of the window, and select “Extensions.”
  • You’ll see the Extensions panel, which will list all your installed extensions. Click or tap the “Get Extensions From the Store” and the Windows Store will open with a special page listing all the available Edge extensions.
  • As of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update’s release, the Store currently offers the Adblock, Adblock Plus, Amazon Assistant, Evernote Web Clipper, LastPass, Mouse Gestures, Office Online, OneNote Web Clipper, Page Analyzer, Pin It Button (for Pinterest), Reddit Enhancement Suite, Save to Pocket, and Translate for Microsoft Edge extensions.
  • To download an extension, select it in the list. Click the “Free” button on the extension’s page to download it.
  • The Windows Store will download the extension to your computer and automatically install it in Edge. When any updates are available, they’ll be automatically downloaded and installed via the Windows Store.
  • Head back to Microsoft Edge and you’ll see a pop-up asking if you want to enable the extension and the permissions it requires. Click or tap “Turn it On” to enable the extension.
  • Microsoft is giving Edge’s extension ecosystem a big kick-start by making it easy for developers to port their existing Chrome extensions over. Many more Edge browser extensions should be on the way soon.
  • I may give Edge a try now that they have extensions. My go to extension is the RSS reader so I can check out the Tech Talk podcast. Still looking for that extension.
  • Email from Alex in Reston: Dear Doc and Jim. I recently got a notification from Lifelock that they had found information regarding my accounts on the Dark Web.
    • Account Password: Exposed Online (may or may not be readable)
    • Type of Compromise: Potential breach
    • Where your data was found: web page
    • Potential Impacted Site:
    • Email Password: Exposed Online (may or may not be readable)
    • Where your data was found: dark web
  • What should I do other than change the password? Is this really a serious threat? Love the show. Alex in Reston.
  • Tech Talk Responds: This does not mean your accounts have actually been hacked. It could mean your account is at risk. Your initial response to change passwords was correct.
  • Naturally, make sure to change it to a secure password, particularly if you’ve been lazy about that in the past. You’re at much higher risk if you previously used a weak password – even if the hackers didn’t actually get the password itself in the data breach. Depending on the data included in the breach, there are techniques hackers can use to try millions, if not billions, of different passwords at high speed to see which ones work. The weaker your password was, the more likely they are to discover it.
  • Do you use that same password for other accounts? If so, go change the password at each of those other accounts. Make sure to give each a unique password so you’re never using the same password twice.
  • Use a password manager if you have trouble keeping track of all your passwords. LastPass is a good option.
  • If you suspect your account actually has been hacked and accessed by someone else, you need to do much more than just change a password. You need to change or verify every bit of your account profile that could be used to reset or recover your password (for instance, phone numbers, security questions, and more). Hackers have been known to use this to re-hack an account, if all you’ve done was change your password. They’ve also been known to change this information so they can get back in whenever they want.
  • This is also a good time to consider two-factor authentication if your account provider(s) support it. Two factor, or multi-factor, authentication is an added security layer that prevents hackers from signing in to your account even if they know the password.

Profiles in IT: Satoshi Tajiri

  • Satoshi Tajiri is a Japanese video game designer best known as the creator of the Pokémon franchise and the founder of video game developer Game Freak.
  • Tajiri was born on August 28, 1965, in Tokyo, Japan. He grew up in rural Machida.
  • Growing up in rural Japan, Satoshi was obsessed with insects. His nickname was Dr. Bug. He spent every spare moment studying and collecting insects.
  • Soon the rice paddies and woods of his hometown became apartment buildings and shopping centers and his local fishing pond was replaced by an arcade center. I
  • In reaction, his interests shifted to anime and video games. He became a passionate player of Donkey Kong. He cut classes and nearly failed to complete high school.
  • Tajiri finally graduated from the Tokyo National College of Technology with an Associate’s Degree in electronics and computer science.
  • At the age of 16, he won a Sega contest for best new game idea. He spent the next two years learning programming and the third year producing his first game.
  • His first original game was something he did entirely on his own, starting by dismantling a Nintendo system to see how it worked.
  • At 17, Tajiri began writing and editing a fanzine called Game Freak. Ken Sugimori, who later illustrated the first 151 Pokémon, contributed.
  • Tajiri and Sugimori evolved the magazine into the video game development company Game Freak in 1989.
  • Tajiri first conceived the idea of Pokémon in 1990. The idea came together after he saw a Game Boy and the ability to communicate between Game Boys, and Tajiri decided Pokémon made the most sense on the handheld console.
  • When he first pitched the idea of Pokémon to Nintendo, they decided to explore the concept with Shigeru Miyamoto becoming Tajiri’s mentor.
  • Pokémon Red and Blue took six years to produce and nearly bankrupted Game Freak.
  • Five employees quit. Tajiri lived off his father’s income. Investment from Creatures Inc., for a 30% stake, allowed Game Freak to complete the games.
  • Tajiri does not like the violence of video games. He wanted to have the Pokemon faint instead of die, because he believes children should respect death.
  • He envisioned the competitive aspect of Pokemon as being ritualistic and respectful, like two Karate champions or sumo wrestlers. Pokemon stands for Pocket Monster.
  • Between the approval and completion stages of the project, Tajiri assisted in the design of two Mario spin-off games for Nintendo.
  • Pokémon sales increased until the series was among Nintendo’s top franchises.
  • Tajiri continues to be involved in the more modern Pokémon titles as well.
  • IGN named Tajiri one of the top 100 game creators of all time, mainly for his ability to have built Pokémon into a worldwide phenomenon.


Windows 10 Anniversary Update

  • Microsoft has commenced its rollout process for installing the Windows 10 Anniversary Update on millions of devices around the globe that are already running Windows 10. Features added in Windows 10 Anniversary Update include the following.
  1. Microsoft has introduced a brand new All Apps view for a full-screen Start menu. User profile and control buttons are all moved to the left side.
  2. Improvements in Action Center. It has been relocated on the far right of taskbar making it a lot easier to notice the new notifications as they come in. A counter on its icon denotes the notifications that need your attention.
  3. Microsoft Edge now gets Extensions. Extensions are finally available for Edge with Anniversary Update. You can download and install these extensions to see how it all blends in. Battery usage is also improved with Edge in this update.
  4. Windows Defender improved. It can be used as a dependable anti-malware in Windows 10 and most home users may not find it necessary to install a 3rd-party antivirus software on the computer.
  5. Windows Ink gets a major update. With Windows Ink Workspace, Microsoft has played a brilliant card on the consumers who frequently uses tablets and 2-in-1s. If you’ve got Surface and a pen, you can use Windows Ink to mark down notes, draw sketches and launch pen-specific apps.
  6. Cortana gets smarter. Your very own personal digital assistant is now getting smarter. Users can now use Cortana even on the lock screen.
  7. Windows Store gets overhauled. If you open up any app in Windows Store, you should see all the relevant info like system requirements, features and other useful information.

Last VCR maker will stop production: RIP

  • Funnai Electric has ceased production of VCSs. They are the last manufacturer.
  • They sold VCRs it sold under their own brand, Funai Electric and also produced them for other companies like Sanyo.
  • It’s always a little sad to see a beloved technology go, but VCRs probably won’t be missed by most people.
  • For the vast majority of the world, though, the era of VCRs and VHS tapes ended long ago. The switch to DVD players, Blu-rays and then to digital downloads and video streaming.
  • I remember having to often literally smack my old VCRs around and untangle VHS tapes to get them to work.
  • Also, who can forget the days of going to a physical video rental store like Blockbuster and getting slapped with a fee because you forgot to rewind a tape?
  • It’s been 44 years since the first VCR was introduced by Philips. In the intervening years, VHS fought off Sony’s Betamax and brought video into everyone’s home. VCRs ruled the ’80s and ’90s, but will rule no more.

Pokemon Update

  • I have been playing Pokemon for three weeks and am up to Level 23.
  • This will be the week that am powerful enough to start competing at the gyms.
  • Trick that I have learned along the way.
  • Double XP points using Lucky Eggs and then have an evolution party. You get 1,000 point for each evolution. Pidgey stacking (only 12 candies) is one of the best plays.
  • Hatch your eggs by driving slower that 20 miles per hour.
  • Save your star dust. Using candies to evolve your Pokemon. When you have your final players, Power Up using your star dust. Don’t waste star dust on lower valued Pokemon.
  • Hatch a lot of eggs. You can get rare Pokemon with candy to Power Up.
  • Turn off VR to catch Pokemon more easily.
  • Hold down on the ball and only throw it when there is a colored circle. Green means easiest to catch. Yellow more difficult. Red very difficult. The color may let you know when to use to Strawberries or Super Balls.
  • All third party Pokemon apps (like PokeRadar) have been disabled with the latest update. Users are in revolt.
  • Each successive Level takes more points and the Pokemon are more difficult to catch. Niantic is forced users to buy more balls. This is a very effective strategy to get users to pay. Supervise kids and restrict in-app purhases.
  • Commercial uses
    • Universities are using Pokemon to attract potential students to campus. They are even issuing Pokemon maps.
    • Restaurants attract and keep diners with Pokestops and Lure Modules.
  • You can 3-Print your own ball guide. We printed on this week using Stratford’s 3D printer. Here is a link to the print file.
  • My first Gym battle will be next week. Stay tuned.

DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge

  • The culmination of the world’s first tournament of automated computer security systems is set to took place in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 4.
  • The Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC) was hosted by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the Paris Hotel.
  • Seven teams were invited to Las Vegas to compete on the floor in a 96-round game of “Capture the Flag.” It’s a time-tested competitive hacking game in which teams are assigned servers which must perform certain tasks while constantly being fed new code filled with bugs, security holes, and inefficiencies. Teams must protect their own data while attempting to access that of the others — much like real-life CTF.
  • The difference in this game is that the players in the game were totally autonomous.
  • Normally a human would be looking at and correcting the code, choosing whether and whom to attack, and so on — but for the CGC, all that has to be done by the system.
  • The idea is, of course, to produce systems that can patch themselves, watch for intrusions, and so on, with minimal human interaction. It’d be nice to know that your computer is looking out for itself.
  • To win, competitors have to reverse-engineer software, probe its weaknesses, search for deeply hidden flaws and create securely patched replacements. While Capture the Flag contests are regular occurrences in the cybersecurity sector, CGC will be the first such contest in which all of the contestants are computer systems.
  • While automated systems already have the speed and the scale to protect sensitive networks, they currently lack the expertise and intelligence necessary to discover, prove, and fix system vulnerabilities.
  • After some 8 hours of battle at a ballroom in the Paris hotel (some highlights), the victor emerged: ForAllSecure’s “Mayhem,” with second place going to TechX’s Xandra. That’s $2 million and $1 million respectively, on top of the $750,000 each of the 7 finalists already received.

Don’t Do This to Fix Your Gmail Account

  • Websites will allegedly help you with accessing your account, changing your password, and helping you out of your Gmail predicament—but none of them are official Google phone numbers.
  • The first result when you ask Google for Gmail support is the Google contact page, but that’s really the only result you can trust.
  • Google doesn’t provide phone numbers for customer service; all your technical issues must be solved via the web.
  • The lack of human connection when getting locked out of Gmail is a problem people have experienced when trying to get accounts reinstated once they’re hacked.
  • If you do get locked out of your account or have to reset your password, Google Account Recovery is the first place you should start.