Show of 02-18-2017

Tech Talk

February 18, 2017

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Mike from Maryland: Hello Tech Talk People, I watch the recorded versions of Tech Talk later in the week. January 21, 2017 episode is not working. January 28, 2017 has no sound. Will we ever be able to enjoy those 2 episodes or are they gone forever. Mike from Maryland. Oh, P.S. Maybe Mr. Big Voice is having cigarette withdraws.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Our technical staff did not properly record the Periscope edition of the show on those two dates. You will unfortunately have to listen to audio only. You can listen to both of these episodes using our Podcast, located at Just search for the correct show using the Dropbox at the bottom of the page. By the way you can subscribe to the podcast and it will be delivered to your computer automatically.
  • Email from Jerry Cunningham in Alexandria: Dear Dr. Shurtz and Mr. Jim Russ. The real Mr. Big Voice Story. Comedian George Carlin, aka your Mr. Big Voice, did not refer to any kind of mail (E or snail) when he declared, “There’s a letter in your mailbox.” As this link to Mr. Carlin’s performance video shows, his declaration was a metaphoric description for an embarrassing undergarment malfunction. Jerry Cunningham in Alexandria
  • Tech Talk Responds: Jerry, you are right. We have just misappropriated the quote. Our audience is just too clever.
  • Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Dear Dr. Shurtz and Jim. Congratulations on your tenth year of excellent radio broadcasting. Your endeavor has delighted, informed and entertained many listeners over a decade of public service. May you have many more years of broadcasting and also provide a challenging employment for Mr. Big Voice.
  • I need your insight and advice on scanning documents. I have several thousands of clipping, articles, documents, white papers, etc. that I have collected over 40 years. I have purchased the Fujitsu Scan Snap iX500 as my machine to process the scanning documents. I will use external portable hard-drives exclusively for the document storage (no cloud storage desired at this time). Hopefully, during you career you have been exposed to scanners and methods of digital cataloging.
  • So, my questions are:
    • What level of computer power is recommended for scanning. I have a Lenovo with AMD Athlon II Dual Core, CPU 2.7GHz 64 bit, 4-GB memory installed (8-GB max).
    • What is the best lowest resolution for black & white and color documents to be scanned and still give good monitor and print out details.
    • How to organize similar articles and documents in an index (naming tricks)
    • Should the scanned PDF documents be made word searchable even if it creates larger files
    • Is there a difference in which PDF application is used for creating the scanned files.
    • On a home scanner with an automatic sheet feeder, what is the quantity limit per day should the machine be called upon to process
    • Are there any alternatives to my scanning project that would be economical in getting my vast documents to digital format (leasing office machines, farming out to professional companies, etc.)
    • Will PDF applications / programs be obsolete in 10-15 years thus rendering file retrieval difficult or no support; or is there on the horizon another system poised to supplant PDF’s
  • Doug in Baton Rouge, LA
  • Tech Talk Responds: You have selected a good scanner. It can scan at 25 ppm using 600 dpi for either color or black and white. It can function as a stand-alone scanner and send documents directly to the cloud. You can also scan using your computer. I would recommend that you upgrade the RAM to 8GB since scanned documents can be large and you have a 64-bit operating system.
  • You will definitely want to scan to a searchable PDF format. I would create subdirectories for storing your documents using categories that relate to the content. I would using a file naming convention that included the date and article source. I really think you should just send the files directly to the cloud and you won’t even need your computer. Your scanner supports SugarSync, Evernote, Google Drive, and other online locations. You can also scan to an external hard drive attached to your computer, but don’t forget to back it up to another location.
  • PDF file format should survive. All PDF use a standard format and are not different. Hardware is more likely to become obsolete. Try to read a floppy disk now. It is hard to find a reader.
  • There are many services out there. They start at 3.5 cents per page and if you want searchable text, expect to pay 5.5 cents per page.
  • Email from Feroze in Fredericksburg: Dear Tech Talk. I recently travelled to Saudi Arabia and all my VoIP connections were blocked (Viber, Skype, WhatsApp). I was reduced to text messaging or expensive calls. What are my options? Feroze in Fredericksburg
  • Tech Talk Responds: This is a classic problem. Many countries block VoIP because that don’t like encrypted communication (state intelligence) or because they don’t want to lose the phone revenue. Either way it is a bummer. I never have this problem because I use an encrypted VPN whenever I travel. This has many advantages. My Wi-Fi connections are secure even at the airport and in the hotel or coffee shop. I can use any of my VoIP clients with ease. In addition, I can listen to streaming content that is blocked for those countries (like Pandora or NetFlix). The preferred VPN provider for me is ExpressVPN. It cost about $100 per year, but you can buy it for just a month for around $14. It is encrypted and you can select the location of your VPN server. They are in many countries, with over 20 in the US. I always use a US proxy server. I just returned from Saudi Arabia and had not trouble making Skype, Viber, or WhatsApp calls. However, Netflix was blocked at that time. But I suspect that ExpressVPN has already released a workaround (in this cat and mouse game).
  • Email from Robert Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: Could you do a Profiles In IT about Mikko Hypponen. Hypponen is Chief Research Officer at F-Secure . Hyppönen has assisted law enforcement in the United States, Europe and Asia since the 1990s on cybercrime cases and advises governments on cyber crime.
  • Here’s something that you probably already know but might be of interest to your listeners. Professor Brian Greene of Columbia University recently tweeted that if you remove the space within the atoms making up a human body, every person that has ever lived would fit inside a baseball. Please explain. Thank you for ten years of great podcasts. I’ve listened to every one. Some more than once. Carl Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: Mikko is a good suggestion. He has been tracking malware for many years and is curator of the malware section in the Internet Archive. I’ll check him out further. As for the comment on the body mass, atoms are mostly vacuum with electrons a nucleus (both of which are very small). It you get rid of that vacuum each atom would become very small (and unstable) and the body size would shrink to an incredibly small size.

Profiles in IT: Reynold B. Johnson

  • Reynold B. Johnson is best known as the “father” of the disk drive. His other inventions include automatic test scoring equipment and the videocassette tape.
  • He was born July 16, 1906 in Minnesota.
  • Johnson graduated from the Minnehaha Academy in1925.
  • He then graduated from University of Minnesota with BS in Educational Administration in 1929.
  • After graduation, he began teaching science and math at a local high school.
  • In the early 1930s, Johnson invented an electronic test-scoring machine that sensed pencil marks on a standardized form based on the multiple-choice test created by Columbia University professor Benjamin D. Wood.
  • In 1933, when he lost his teaching job, he began to market his invention.
  • He attempted to interest IBM in his invention, but they initially rejected it.
  • However, in 1934, the IBM reassessed the machine and saw in Johnson great potential.
  • IBM bought the rights to Reynold’s invention and hired him as an engineer to work in their Endicott, New York laboratory. The test-scoring machine was sold as the IBM 805 Test Scoring Machine beginning in 1937.
  • One of Reynold’s early assignments was to develop technology that allowed cards marked with pencil marks to be converted into punched cards.
  • That allowed punched card data to be recorded by people using only a pencil. That “mark sense” technology was widely used by businesses in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.
  • The Federal Government used it under the name “electrographic” technology.
  • In 1952, IBM sent Johnson to San Jose, California, to set up and manage its West Coast Laboratory. He was tasked with developing a random access memory (RAM) storage system within two years.
  • Johnson and his team based their work on magnetic disk storage experiments conducted by Jacob Rabinow of the National Bureau of Standards.
  • In late 1955, Johnson and his team announced RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting Control). It was weighed one ton and met IBM’s original specifications, with access time to any given file averaging at about one second.
  • It used fifty 24-inch magnetic disks rotating at 1200 RPM on one shaft, with two read/write heads that could quickly access the files.
  • In 1956, IBM introduced the first commercial magnetic disk drive, the RAMAC 350. All disk drives today are still based on Johnson’s basic system.
  • Johnson then worked with Sony on another project. Sony was using wide tape on reels. He cut the tape to a half an inch and put it in a cartridge, creating the first half-inch videocassette tape. He wanted a device that could be used by children.
  • Johnson retired from IBM in 1971 with more than 90 patents.
  • After his retirement, he developed the microphonograph technology used in the Fisher-Price “Talk to Me Books.”
  • In 1986, he received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Ronald Reagan.
  • Johnson died in 1998, at the age of 92, of melanoma at Palo Alto, California.

Update on Stratford’s International Initiatives

  • Expansion in India
    • New Noida campus
    • New Durg campus, co-located with the K. K. Modi University
  • Possible expansion in Saudi Arabia
    • Culinary school in Jeddah
    • Competency-based education programs to assist with the initiative to have Saudi citizens running the key industries within the Kingdom by replacing foreigners. This requires a massive training programs of Saudi youth.

Device of the Week: Good Talk for a second SIM for you iPhone.

  • Good Talk for Orofei is a square device that houses a SIM card and can connect to another device using Bluetooth.
  • Insert in Good Talk a micro SIM card from any cell phone provider. Install the “Good Talk” app quickly, and connect to Good Talk via Bluetooth.
  • Good Talk can allow you to have 2 active SIM cards while using only your iPhone.
  • Good Talk can turn your iPad or iPod Touch into a functional phone!
  • Good Talk connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth. When you save a contact in your iPhone, you will instantly see it in the Good Talk app.
  • When you move more than 10 meters away from Good Talk, the iPhone screen will display a warning message.
  • List price: $188. Currently on sales for $98
  • Link to website:

A Vespa Robot to Carry Your Stuff

  • Robots are coming! Especially robots that carry and deliver stuff.
  • A new bot is about to join those ranks, and it’s made by Piaggio, the same company that created the Vespa scooter.
  • This bot is called Gita, and it’s a bright blue orb-shaped cargo robot with wheels that Piaggio says has the same “braking, balancing and vehicle dynamics that you would expect of a high-performance motorcycle.
  • Standing at about two feet tall and with the ability to carry 40 pounds of stuff, the robot has a lid that opens to reveal the cargo bin. It can travel at a top speed of 22 mph.
  • It can either follow its owner around or navigate environments on its own.
  • Gita is going to be less about making deliveries and more about augmenting jobs that require a lot of equipment, like maintenance or gardening.
  • There’s no timeline for when a consumer can get their hands on one, and price has not yet been disclosed.

Gmail won’t allow JavaScript file attachments

  • Malicious emails often attach various forms of executable programs and trick users into running them. These include standard Windows executables (.exe), batch files (.bat), and even JavaScript files (.js).
  • Starting February 13, 2017, Google will not allow JS files to be sent as an attachment, including JS files detected within archives.
  • JavaScript is a common language used when developing web applications, and JS files are often loaded as part of web pages.
  • Opening an unknown JS file on Windows can be dangerous, as it runs inside Windows Script Host by default. From there, the script can easily run Windows executables.

Virginia could soon get deliveries from cooler-sized robots

  • Robots about the size of a beer cooler could soon be rolling down Virginia sidewalks to deliver sandwiches, groceries or packages.
  • State lawmakers have partnered with European company Starship Technologies on bills that would allow Virginia cities to join two others in the U.S. and many across Europe where the company is testing the robots. Much like big-time retailers’ attempts at airborne drone deliveries, the earthbound robots aim to revolutionize the way people get their parcels.
  • Company representatives visited the Capitol for a demonstration. They say the bills would clarify gray areas in current law about the legality of the robots and make Virginia the first state in the U.S. to regulate such devices.
  • The bills have been referred the transportation committees of both chambers.