September 3, 2016
Best of Tech Talk Edition
- Segments replayed from previous shows
Email and Forum Questions
- Email from Ken in Gaithersburg: This is fairly urgent since July 29 is coming soon, and you will not have another live show until July 30. I installed Windows on one computer, and because of the problems it created I will not put it on other computers unless I can fix two things.
- First, after an update, the computer restarts without my permission with at most a few days warning, wiping out whatever I may be working on, and I cannot stop it. I always have many things open. I don’t want the computer to restart until I am ready. Is there a way to stop that? I have read that the registry can be edited, but I want to be sure that I make the right changes. Do you know what I can do?
- Second, the upgrade wiped out the Chrome windows I had open and the entire Chrome history. Is there a way to prevent that?
- An additional question: Can I make disk images of both a drive C (solid state) and a 2 TB drive D on one external hard drive? If so, can the images be compressed so that both images will fit on a 2 TB external drive? (I hate Windows 10 and 7 because I don’t know how to do things I used to do in XP). Thank you. Ken in Gaithersburg
- Tech Talk Responds: The good news is that you can schedule your restart after an update. Open Action Center by clicking on icon in lower right. Then Click on All Settings, Click on Update and Security, Click on Windows Update, Click on Advanced Options, Under “Choose how updates are installed”, click on drop down menu. Select “Notify to Schedule restart.” You will now be asked to schedule a restart to finish installing updates.
- As far a Chrome is concerned you can log into Google and sync everything (open tabs, history, bookmarks, etc. Click on the icon in the upper right hand corner. From the drop down menu, select Settings. Go to setting. Under Sign in, log into your Google account. Click on Advance Sync Setting and select what you want to sync. This will place the information on all Chrome browsers that you use on all computers.
- You do a disk image with Macrium Reflect (http://www.macrium.com/). They have a free version and it can compress the image, usually saving about 40% of the space. Both images can be placed on the same hard drive.
- Email from Mike in Maryland:Hello Mr. Big Voice, I need your suggestion for a internet radio or WiFi radio. I think it is ironic that you are in the radio industry, but living in your Mom’s basement how do you get radio signals? I live on the ground floor of a tall building and radio reception is difficult to get, as I like to listen to radio everyday. A computer is too cumbersome for channel surfing. I would like a dedicated internet radio with a remote control, large display and lots of presets and future software updates. I am currently looking at two models: CC Crane WiFi radio with 99 presets or Mondo by Grace. I am opened to your suggestions. Please tell the two gentlemen that I love the show. Mike from Maryland.
- Tech Talk Responds: CC Crane WiFi was one on the first internet radios. It’s interface is quite dated. Of the two, I would prefer Mondo by Grace. Mondo has much better sound system (12W with a separate 3-inch woofer). Sound is everything. Plus it has a battery so you can listen on the deck.
- I listen to Wi-Fi radio quite a bit. However, I use Amazon Echo. I just say the call letter and Echo finds the station, either on iHeart Radio or TuneIn. Plus Amazon Echo can function with so many other needs. After Echo, I would never get a stand alone Internet radio.
- Email from Valerie in Boston:Dear Doc and Jim. We are planning to backpack for week and will probably not have access to electricity. I would like to keep my cell phone charged with a solar panel. Is this practical? Love the show. Valerie in Boston
- Tech Talk Responds: I would recommend a foldable solar panel. It will be larger and provide more power. You need at least 14W to charge your phone in a reasonable time. I would recommend the Nekteck 20W Solar Charger with 2-Port. It is $59.99 on Amazon.
- The power conversion rate increases up to 21%-24%, providing enough power to charger 2 devices at same time. It has abuilt-in smart IC chip, each port intelligently identifies your device and seeks to maximize its charging speed. Ultra lightweight (20 oz) and ultra compact (11.8 x 6.5in folded or 22.8 x 11.8in opened).
- Email from Tracy in Fairfax:Dear Tech Talk. I have been playing Pokemon Go while taking my walks. I have an iPhone 6S. I have a big problem. My battery goes down too quickly forcing me to stop player. What battery pack do you recommend? Tracy in Fairfax.
- Tech Talk Responds: I have the apply Smart Battery and it doubles the battery life. I have been using it for several months and really like. I is $99 at the Apple store. Everything is automatic, charging and discharging. There is not button or switch and it uses the same plug as the iPhone.
Profiles in IT: Phillip Zimmerman
- Philip R. "Phil" Zimmermann Jr. (born February 12, 1954) is the creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), the most widely used email encryption software in the world.
- He is also known for his work in VoIP encryption protocols, notably ZRTP and Zfone.
- He was born in Camden, New Jersey. His father was a concrete mixer truck driver.
- Zimmermann received a B.S. degree in computer science from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton in 1978, and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- He was one of the first to make asymmetric or public key, encryption software readily available to the general public.
- He released the source code to PGP, and shortly thereafter, it became available overseas via the Internet, though Zimmermann has said he had no part in its distribution outside the US.
- Motivation for release: Senate Bill 266, a 1991 omnibus anticrime bill, would have forced manufacturers of secure communications equipment to insert special "trap doors" in their products, so that the government could read anyone’s encrypted messages. Bill was defeated.
- The Customs Service started a criminal investigation of Zimmermann, for allegedly violating the Arms Export Control Act.
- The US Government had long regarded cryptographic software as a munition, and thus subject to arms trafficking export controls.
- At that time, the boundary between permitted ("low strength") cryptography and impermissible ("high strength") cryptography placed PGP well on the too-strong-to-export side (this boundary has since been relaxed).
- The investigation lasted three years, but was finally dropped without filing charges.
- After the government dropped its case without indictment in early 1996, Zimmermann founded PGP Inc. and released an updated version of PGP and some additional related products.
- That company was acquired by Network Associates (NAI) in December 1997, and Zimmermann stayed on for three years as a Senior Fellow.
- NAI decided to drop the product line and in 2002, PGP was acquired from NAI by a new company called PGP Corporation.
- Zimmermann now serves as a special advisor and consultant to that firm. Zimmermann is also a fellow at the Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society.
- He was a principal designer of the cryptographic key agreement protocol (the "association model") for the Wireless USB standard.
- In the very first version of PGP, an encryption algorithm was given the humorous name BassOmatic (after a skit on Saturday Night Live).
- Pretty Good Privacy itself is named after a Lake Wobegon fictional grocery store named "Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery".
- PGP Website: http://www.pgp.com/
- Zfone Website: http://zfoneproject.com/
- Phil’s personal website: http://www.philzimmermann.com/
Food Science: Cereals
- The first modern and commercial cereal foods were created by the American Seventh-day Adventists.
- The Adventists formed the Western Health Reform Institute in the 1860s.
- It was renamed the Battle Creek Sanitarium after its location in Battle Creek, MI.
- The Adventists manufactured, promoted, and sold wholesome cereals. Cereal or grain is a member of the grass plant family, with starchy seeds used for food. Common cereals are: wheat, rice, rye, oats, barley, corn (maize), and sorghum.
- In 1894, Will Keith Kellogg was trying to improve the diet of hospital patients. He was searching for a digestible bread substitute using the process of boiling wheat.
- Kellogg accidentally left a pot of boiled wheat to stand and the wheat became tempered (soften). When Kellogg rolled the tempered or softened wheat and let it dry, each grain of wheat emerged as a large thin flake. The flakes turned out to be a tasty cereal. Kellogg had invented corn flakes.
- Kellogg received his M.D. from Bellevue Hospital Medical College, New York City, in 1875. He was a Seventh-day Adventist.
- Will Keith Kellogg founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1906.
- Rice Krispies were introduced by Kellogg in 1929.
Food Science: History of Bubble Gum
- The ancient Greeks chewed mastiche – a chewing gum made from the resin of the mastic tree.
- The ancient Mayans chewed chicle which is the sap from the sapodilla tree.
- North American Indians chewed the sap from spruce trees and passed the habit along to the settlers.
- Early American settlers made a chewing gum from spruce sap and beeswax.
- In 1848, John B. Curtis made and sold the first commercial chewing gum called the State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum.
- In 1850, Curtis started selling flavored paraffin gums becoming more popular than spruce gums.
- On December 28 1869, William Finley Semple became the first person to patent a chewing gum – U.S patent #98,304.
- In 1869, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna introduced Thomas Adams to chicle.
- In 1871, Thomas Adams patented a machine for the manufacture of gum.
- In 1880, John Colgan invented a way to make chewing gum taste better for a longer period of time while being chewed.
- By 1888, an Adams’ chewing gum called Tutti-Frutti became the first chew to be sold in a vending machine. The machines were located in a New York City subway station.
- In 1899, Dentyne gum was created by New York druggist Franklin V. Canning.
- In 1906, Frank Fleer invented the first bubble gum called Blibber-Blubber gum. However, the bubble blowing chew was never sold.
- In 1914, Wrigley Doublemint brand was created. William Wrigley, Jr. and Henry Fleer were responsible for adding the popular mint and fruit extracts to a chicle chewing gum.
- In 1928, an employee of the Frank H. Fleer Company, Walter Diemer invented the successful pink colored Double Bubble, bubble gum. The very first bubble gum was invented by Frank Henry Fleer in 1906. He called it Blibber-Blubber. Fleer’s recipe was later perfected by Walter Diemer, who called his product Double Bubble.
Good News for the Earth: Plastic Eating Bacteria
- There’s an estimated 311 million tons of plastic produced every year globally.
- There will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.
- Polyethylene terephthalate (known as PET), which is used for manufacturing plastic bottles, makes up one fifth of the annual production of plastic.
- PET’s strength and stability under heat makes it an ideal material for packaging—it’s one of the world’s most-used plastics for a reason—but it’s properties also makes PET difficult to decompose.
- Ideonella sakaiensis, a newly discovered bacterium, that feeds on PET.
- Researchers in Japan isolated the bacteria from the 250 samples of PET debris they collected from a recycling plant. T
- The bacteria appeared to use a pair of enzymes to slowly break down PET.
- “If you put a bacteria in a situation where they’ve only got one food source to consume, over time they will adapt to do that,” lead researcher Enzo Palombo, from Swinburne University, told The Guardian.
- Researchers note in the study, that it takes the bacteria six weeks to degrade a small piece of low-quality PET. The bacteria took even longer to degrade highly crystallized PET.
- Researchers warn that the bacteria would—for now— have limited impact if it were to be applied to large amount of plastic waste sitting in landfills around the world.
- For now, people should make more of an effort to recycle PET—particularly PET bottles.
The Way You Use Your iPhone Says Much About You
- Are you the type to respond to every single text ASAP? Or are you capable of putting your smartphone down for hours and forget about its flashing blue light?
- A new study suggests that the more people check their devices, the more impulsive they are in their everyday lives.
- Two researchers from Temple University had 91 undergraduates fill out a questionnaire assessing how often they used their phones to update social media, browse the Internet, or interact with friends.
- Then they tested students’ ability to delay gratification (aka wait) by asking them whether they’d prefer a small sum of money right now or a large sum anywhere from a few days to a year from the immediate moment
- The researchers also assessed students’ sensitivity to rewards by having them rate how greatly they identified with statements like, “I’ll try anything once,” and, “I like wild and uninhibited parties.”
- Finally, they ranked students’ impulsivity by placing them at a computer and asking them to press a button whenever an “x” popped up on the screen but resist pressing a button whenever they saw a “k.” (The more participants hit buttons when they weren’t supposed to, the less impulse control the researchers concluded they had.)
- Impatient undergrads — the ones least interested in waiting more than a day to get a hypothetical amount of money — were more likely to be preoccupied with their smartphones on a regular basis.
- Those who had a harder time controlling impulses to press buttons were also more tethered to their devices. Surprisingly, students’ sensitivity to rewards didn’t appear to be an influence on their phone-checking habits.
- The more compulsively you check your smartphone, the more impulsive and impatient you probably are.
- If you’re the type to never let a retweet remain un-liked or a friend request go unnoticed, take a peek at some other areas of your life.
- If you’re having trouble reining in urges — to, say, eat the whole pint of ice cream, resist ordering one more round, or flip out at a coworker or friend — it may be time to take a break from your smartphone and start practicing some self-regulation.
Your computer mouse may be opening the door for hackers
- Malware is being spread over Wi-Fi connections from one computer to another.
- According to cybersecurity firm Bastille, which reports that wireless devices that do not use a Bluetooth connection are at risk of spreading the MouseJack virus.
- All a hacker needs to get into your computer is a $15 dongle and few lines of computer code. Hackers are intercepting radio frequencies using the 2.4GHz band.
- Unlike Bluetooth, there isn’t an industry standard to protect your devices. So, manufacturers create their own security system, if they have one.
- This vulnerability affects Windows PCs, Macs and Linux computers. It also affects several types of wireless keyboards and computer mice, including Dell, Lenovo and Logitech. Once the hacker is in, they gain full access to your computer, although they need to be within about 100 meters of you. They can take over your computer and infect it with malware.
- To find out if your device is at risk, click here for Bastille’s list of affected devices. If your wireless device is at risk, contact the manufacturer, and ask if a firmware patch has been issued, or if one is planned.
- If not, switch to a Bluetooth-connected wireless keyboard or mouse. And always make sure you’re using a strong Internet security system.
- Link to Bastille’s list of affected devices:https://www.bastille.net/affected-devices
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.
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.
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.