Show of 12-03-2016

Tech Talk

3 December, 2016


Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from the other side of the console:Doc, I know you’ve covered this in the past, but I have the cognitive retention skills of a grapefruit. My sister and brother in law live in an area where cell coverage is pretty sketchy. None of the major carriers penetrate their area with a strong signal. What options exist to optimize their cellular coverage? Are there resources available to locate the closest cell tower closest to them (and the provider that owns it)? I’ll hang up and listen for your answer. Signed: “Can you hear me now?” on the other side of the console.
  • Tech Talk Responds: I would suggest a cell phone booster. A typical booster has an antenna for pickup a weak signal and a distribution box for sending an amplified signal. You typically place the antenna so that it can point at the nearest tower. The distribution box is placed centrally in the house. The PC Magazine editors choice for a booster was the weBoost 473120 EQO Cell Phone Booster. It is a complete plug-and-play system that boosts cell phone signal in desktop to 1 room of a house or building. It does this with two main components. The Amplifier (Repeater) pulls in the outside signal then amplifies it up to 32X. It includes a 32-foot coaxial cable to connect the two units. This unit is $349 on Amazon. If you want a system with higher gain, weBoost has a more powerful unit for $550. These units work with all carriers and all bands. As a side note, you can also use Wi-Fi calling if you have reliable a Wi-Fi signal. The latest versions of Android and iPhones support this feature. This is very useful if you have a weak cellular signal in the house. I use it whenever I an in my basement. It switches over automatically.
  • Email from Mike in Maryland:Hello Mr. Big Voice, I love your podcast shows. Can you have your 2 employees (Richard & Jim) to recommend several good indoor TV antennas. I am hoping to capture a lot of TV channels. P.S. Mr Big Voice, with your voice being important to your career, do you do any part-time Ventriloquism gigs? Thanks, Mike from Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: To determine if you have over-the-air HD as an option in your home, visit AntennaWeb or TV Fool for a listing of the stations broadcasting near you. Top-rated HDTV indoor antennas include the Moho Leaf Metro ($20) or the Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse ($40), both non-amplified antennas that hang in a window and plug directly into a TV tuner, or the TERK Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna ($49). You might want amplification unless you’re living right next door to the local broadcast tower. Setup is easy, but you’ll have to play with the antenna position in the window to maximize reception. As for other careers, Mr. Big Voices contract does not let him do any other voice services. He is a Tech Talk Radio exclusive.
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs:Hi Dr. Shurtz, Have you ever had the need to use Shodan (com) search engine? This search engine can be used to find devices connected to the Internet. How does it do that? How does one really use it.  Founder of Shodan, John Matherly, may be a good person to profile on Tech Talk. I’m reading Privacy in the Age of Big Data. Again, like Future Crimes, privacy is something of the past, never again to be experienced by anyone except maybe primitive tribes somewhere. Great show. Thanks for all the neat info. Arnie in Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: Shodan can be used to discover which of your devices are connected to the Internet, where they are located and who is using them. Websites are just one part of the Internet. There are power plants, Smart TVs, refrigerators and much more that can be found with Shodan! You can keep track of all the computers on your network that are directly accessible from the Internet. Shodan lets companies understand their digital footprint. Companies use Shodan to see who is using their product. Shodan has servers located around the world that crawl the Internet 24/7 to provide the latest Internet intelligence. Shodan provides a public API that allows other tools to access all of Shodan’s data. Integrations are available for Nmap, Metasploit, Maltego, FOCA, Chrome, Firefox and many more.
  • This search engine pings a range of IP addresses and record the response. John Matherly has created a map of every device on the Internet. It takes him several hours to scan all the IP addresses and a few more to display them graphically. This database is available for anyone to use via a public API. John would be a good option to profile a later show. He is an interesting guy.
  • Email from Carl Tyler:Dear Dr. Shurtz: Please take a look at this website r00tz Asylum ( It’s a website that teaches white hat hacking to young people and has many videos relating to hacking. I believe it would be a good website of the week.  Loyal podcast listener, Carl Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: I have checked this site and it is an excellent resource for those who want to learn white had hacking. The workshops they conduct are designed to inspire kids. The last workshop was August 5-7, 2016 in Las Vegas, NV. It is usually held in conjunction with Def Con, the largest hackers conference. Many of the presentations from those workshops on the website. r00tz Asylum is the Website of the Week.
  • Email from Lucy in Fairfax:Dear Tech Talk. I just returned from a trip to India. While I was there, I could not watch Netflix movies on my iPad even though I have been a loyal subscriber for many years. Is there anything I can do to solve this problem? Love the show. Lacy in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: Netflix is not permitted to stream content to India with its current licensing agreements. So if the IP address that you are streaming from is located in India, it will be blocked. You can work around this problem by using a VPN service and connecting to a US server location. My favorite VPN service is ExpressVPN. They are actively engaged in a VPN war with Netflix and are wining.


Profiles in IT: Dr. Martin Cooper

  • Martin Cooper was born December 26, 1926 in Chicago.
  • He is considered the father of the cell phone.
  • He received his degree in electrical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1950 and received his master’s degree from the same institution in 1957.
  • After four years in the navy serving on destroyers and a submarine, he worked for a year at a telecommunications company.
  • Hired by Motorola in 1954, he worked on developing portable products, including the first portable handheld police radios, made for the Chicago police department in 1967.
  • He then led Motorola’s cellular research. He was eventually promoted to Corporate Director of Research and Development for Motorola.
  • Cooper is the inventor named on US patent 3,906,166, Radio telephone system.
  • Cooper is considered the inventor of the first portable handset and the first person to make a call on a portable cell phone on April 3, 1973 in New York. That first call, placed to his rival Joel Engel, Bell Labs’ head of research.
  • The brick-like phone weighed 30 ounces (1.87 pounds). The phone was 10 inches high, 3 inches deep and an inch-and-a-half wide. The commercially available model was 2.5 pounds, 10 inches x 5inches x 1.75 inches, 35 minute talk time, and 10 hour charge time.
  • Cooper later revealed that watching Captain Kirk talking in his communicator on the TV-show Star Trek inspired him to research the mobile phone.
  • Cooper’s Law is the semantically incorrect name used for his observation that the number of radio frequency conversations which can be concurrently conducted in a given area has doubled every 30 months since Marconi’s spark gap transmitter, over 100 years ago.
  • Cooper believes the next big advancement in the wireless industry will be ubiquitous, wide-area, high-speed access to the Internet.
  • To that end, he is currently serving as chairman and chief executive of privately held San Jose, California-based ArrayComm, which developed a technology which uses smart antennas to increase spectral efficiency and network throughput.
  • Quote from Martin Cooper:?I’m rich beyond all imagination in satisfaction and in happiness and in self-fulfillment. But not necessarily in dollars and cents.?

Space Elevator

  • 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.

New Twitter Application: Fast Food Truck

  • Twitter recently became the communiqué of choice for the almost popular Kogi BBQ trucks, a taco vendor in LA.
  • Kogi uses Twitter to alert customers of its location.
  • The trend is spreading to other wheel meals as more food are using the social networking site to draw customers.
  • While it’s not clear which truck Tweeted first, the Kogi folks have shown themselves to be the most effective at turning tweets into effective marketing.
  • “Kogi special at the trucks and the Alibi! Grilled asparagus with Yellow Nectarines and Sesame Seeds!” read one recent Kogi Tweet.
  • Since Kogi’s launch in November, hungry herds of have been following the pair of white trucks that rove the city selling tacos, burritos and other gourmet tidbits steeped in traditional Korean flavors.
  • In short order, the Kogi name has become recognizable to foodies around the country.
  • No small accomplishment for a pair of taco trucks all due to Twitter.
  • And she thinks the success of food truck Tweets likely will inspire a broader use of Twitter across the food world.
  • “Chefs will be Tweeting from the farmers market about the mushrooms they just picked up and will be part of their mushroom pasta that evening,” she says.


Flight Controlled Move toward GPS Guidance Systems

  • The System We Have Now is Antiquated
    • Radar plane detection and tracking
    • Planes have no knowledge of other nearby aircraft
    • Currently, a plane is guided to its destination via a series of radar handoff’s.
    • With today’s radar, it can take up to 36 seconds to get an accurate read on a plane’s position and a longer time for an aircraft flying 500 mph.
    • So safety buffers err on the conservative side: The minimum distance between planes is 5 miles horizontally and about 3 miles on landing and approach.
  • NextGen is designed to change all that by providing air traffic controllers and pilots with much more accurate and detailed real-time information
    • Instead of radar, the new system relies on ADS-B, or automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast.
    • An aircraft equipped with ADS-B receives GPS signals via an on-board receiver to determine its position in the sky.
    • That information, plus data on the plane’s identity, position, speed and intended flight path, is broadcast to other aircraft and ground stations within 150 miles. For the first time, both pilots and controllers will see the same real-time displays of air traffic.
    • Planes will be able to fly closer without jeopardizing safety, so more flights can be scheduled, easing congestion.
    • This procedure is known as self-separation.
  • Several airlines aren’t waiting for government action
    • Cargo carrier UPS Airlines has already equipped nearly 300 of its planes and its main airport hub in Louisville , Ky. , with ADS-B technology.
    • By shortening flight times and using more efficient approach paths, UPS expects to save about 800,000 gallons of fuel annually.
    • Next year, Southwest will install a similar system.
    • Southwest is forecasting big fuel savings when it re-equips its fleet of 520 737s next year

How Does GPS Work?

  • The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a world-wide radio-navigation system formed from a constellation of 24 satellites and their ground stations.
  • GPS receivers use these ?man-made stars? as reference points to calculate positions accurately to an accuracy of meters using unclassified data.
  • GPS Satellites
    • Name: NAVSTAR
    • Manufacturers: Rockwell International
    • Orbit: 12 hours, 55 degrees to the equatorial plane
    • Ground stations in: Hawaii , Ascension Islands , Diego Garcia, Kwajalein, and Colorado Springs
  • Three satellites are needed for triangulation, but the receiver must have an atomic clock
  • Four satellites provide the time information and allow for cheap receivers.