Show of 04-29-2017

Tech Talk

April 29, 2017

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz. Have you ever used LINE messaging App during your travels overseas? Seems this app is very popular in Asia and growing in use there. How does LINE differ from US messaging apps? And do you think it’s use in the US is viable? Great show. Lots of tech info. Many thanks for it all. Arnie, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: Line is a freeware app for instant communications on electronic devices such as smartphones, tablet computers and personal computers. Line users exchange texts, images, video and audio, and conduct free VoIP conversations and video conferences. It is marketed heavily in developing Asian and African countries, since it can’t compete with Facebook in the US and Europe.
  • Line began as a disaster response. In March 2011 the T?hoku earthquake damaged Japan’s telecommunications infrastructure nationwide, obliging employees at NHN Japan, a unit of South Korea’s NHN Corporation, to rely on Internet-based resources to communicate. The company’s engineers developed Line to facilitate this, and the company released their app for public use in June. Within eighteen months of its release Line reached 100 million users; six months later it reached 200 million and on November 25, 2013 is used by 300 million users.
  • Email from Ken in Gaithersburg: Dr. Shurtz. You did something very interesting today in class (on the show) that perplexes me. You pronounced “kilo_meter” correctly and then “corrected” your pronunciation to the popular but wrong one, “ki_LOM_eter.”  The Metric System is a uniform, consistent system.  There are basic units, like meter, gram, hertz, etc., and prefixes like milli, centi, kilo, etc. Check our the website: I ask you to join the movement or mission to fix the mispronunciation. Ken in Gaithersburg
  • Tech Talk Responds: Ken, I really never paid attention to this controversy. You are right. As usual the American’s have corrupted the Queen’s English.
  • Note that in the case of micrometer, putting the accent on the first syllable makes it a unit of measure, and putting it on the second syllable turns it into an instrument. Other words with -ometer and the latter stress tend to be instruments also: speedometer, tachometer, barometer, etc. I have been trying to switch to stress on the first syllable for kilometer, but it’s difficult to break the habit.
  • Email from Chow in Indiana: Dear Tech Talk. I am having a argument with husband about something very simple. Do I really need to use a mousepad? I don’t use one and my husband does. What’s the real scoop on this. Love the show. Chau in Indiana.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Computer mice have been around in one form or another for the better part of 50 years and for most of that time they’ve been paired with mouse pads. But modern optical and laser mice can track on just about any surface. So a mouse pad isn’t technically necessary these days, but there are some obvious and serious benefits of using one. Mouse Pads will protect the finish of your desk, keeping it from wearing out over your usual mousing spot. It’s much cheaper to replace a mouse pad than replace your desktop surface. You also need a mouse pad if you have a glass top table. Gamers prefer a mouse pad because of consistency in movement. Finally, you mouse will stay cleaner because it wont pick up table dirt.
  • Email from Nhan in Atlanta: Dear Tech Talk. I have heard that Uber drivers can rate their passengers. Is there any way that I can find what my rating is? I have looked on the Uber App and can’t find it. Please help. Love the show. Nhan in Atlanta.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Riders are rated just like drivers, with one through five stars. You can find you rating. It is hidden and hard to find. Go to: Help/Account and Payment Options/Changing my Account Settings/I’d Like to Know my Rating. It looks like I need to improve my rating: 4.59 out of 5.
  • Email from Tuc in Virginia Beach: Dear Tech Talk. I would like to do some 3D printing, but I don’t have the funds to buy an expensive printer. Are there any custom services that I can use to print my designs. In particular, I want to print a a custom GPS mount for your bike. Love the podcast. Tuc in Virginia Beach.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are in luck. There are many 3D print services available. They have made 3D printing accessible even if you don’t own your printer. Some offer stores of 3D models that you can print directly, or you can upload models you made yourself or found online. Each service is a little different, so we’ll go through each one and highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each one. Here are a four companies that I have found:
  • Email from Lacy in San Francisco: Dear Tech Talk. I have heard that Facebook owns all the photos that I upload to my page. I that really true? I does not seem fair or honest. I enjoy you show each week via podcast and sometimes live in the DC area.. Lacy in San Francisco.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Facebook does not own the photos that you upload. They are still your photos. In fact, that is in Facebook’s terms of service: You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook.
  • However, Facebook does gets a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license” to your photos. What does that mean?
    • A “royalty-free worldwide license” means Facebook is free to use your photos pretty much how they’d like anywhere in the world without paying you a penny or asking your permission.
    • “Transferable” and “sub-licensable” mean that Facebook can either transfer the license to another entity or just sub-license it, again without your permission.
    • Finally, “non-exclusive” means that you’re free to license your photo to anyone else you want. Just because you’ve uploaded a photo to Facebook, it doesn’t mean you can’t share it on Twitter, or do whatever else you want with it.
  • Displaying the photos you post to Facebook in your friend’s News Feeds would be impossible otherwise: if you hadn’t given them a license, it would be a violation of your copyright for them to show that photo to your friends.
  • The most important sentence, however, is “subject to your privacy and application settings”. Through Facebook’s privacy settings you’re able to control exactly how your images are used. If you only want your close friends to see them? You can do that. This means that, even though Facebook’s license is broad, you’re still in control of how it’s implemented.
  • Dear Tech Talk. My children use the Internet for homework and research. However, they also browse and I want to protect them. How can I put parental controls on the Internet in the house? Love the show. Lauren in Manhattan, Kansas
  • One of the easiest ways to set up parental controls is by configuring them on your router. Your router functions as the choke point where all the Internet traffic for your network flows through. Setting up parental controls here will allow you to perform web filtering for all the devices on your network — computers, smartphones, tablets, and even game consoles with built-in browsers.
  • If your router does not includedparental controls, you can use OpenDNS to set up parental controls on any router. To do this, you’ll just need to change your router’s DNS server settings to use OpenDNS. OpenDNS allows you to set up an account and configure web filtering. If you would like a device on your network not to be filtered, you can change its DNS server manually so it won’t use OpenDNS. Of course, this means that anyone on your network can change their DNS server and bypass the filtering.
  • Windows 7 has some built-in parental controls that allow you to control what time a user account can log into the computer and what programs it can use. Windows 10 has integrated parental controls that combines time limits and program access controls with Family Safety’s web filtering and more new features.
  • Many Internet security suites come with built-in parental controls. Norton offers a free Norton Family parental control application that seems to be widely recommended.
  • There are also dedicated parental control solutions you can pay for, like Net Nanny. But I would not recommend paying for this service.

Profiles in IT: Marcian Edward Hoff, Jr.

  • Marcian Edward “Ted” Hoff, Jr. is best known as one of the inventor of the microprocessor concept and architechture.
  • Ted Hoff was born October 28, 1937 in Rochester, New York
  • He credits his interest in electronics to Popular Science, subscription gift from uncle and his interest in science to his high school science teachers.
  • In 1954, he was one of the Westinghouse Science Talent Search finalists.
  • Hoff received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1958.
  • He applied for his first two patents based on work done for the General Railway Signal Corp. of Rochester, New York during the summers of his undergraduate study.
  • He received a National Science Foundation Fellowship to enroll in Stanford University, where he received his master’s degree in 1959 and his Ph.D. in 1962.
  • As part of his Ph.D. dissertation, Hoff co-invented the least mean squares filter.
  • He stayed on to work at Stanford for another six years conducting research on neural networks and integrated circuits.
  • In 1968, Hoff got a phone call from Robert Noyce, who had co-founded Intel Corp., asking him to join the new company as its twelfth employee.
  • He worked initially on semiconductor memory chips, Intel’s primary business.
  • The Japanese manufacturer Busicom approached Intel requesting integrated circuits for its calculators, using twelve different chips to control different processes.
  • Hoff envisioned a processor single chip. Hoff proposed that the memory, calculating, and processing functions of a computer could be combined into one circuit.
  • He formulated the instruction set for the chip with Stanley Mazor in 1969.
  • Development of the silicon-gate design methodology and the actual chip design was done by Federico Faggin, who led the project during 1970-1971.
  • Hoff was awarded a patent for the microprocessor (3,821,715) on June 28, 1975.
  • Intel bought back the design and marketing rights to the chip from Busicom for $60,000 and dubbed it the Intel 4004.
  • The Intel 4004 chip was an 1/8 inch wide and 1/6 inch long. It had as much power as power as one of the first electronic computers, ENAIC, which used 18,000 vacuum tubes and was so large it filled an entire room.
  • Hoff was featured in an Intel advertisement, calling him the “rock star” of Intel and comparing him to the rock stars of American culture.
  • In 1980, Hoff became the first Intel Fellow, the company’s highest technical position.
  • In 1982, he left Intel accepted a position with Atari as Vice President for Technology.
  • In 1986, 1986 Ted joined Teklicon, Inc. as Chief Technical Officer, retiring in 2007.
  • In 1996, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his invention of the microprocessor concept and architecture.

Device of the Week: Amazon Echo Look

  • Amazon’s Echo Look is a style assistant that is raising privacy concerns.
  • The $200 device features a camera to capture full-length selfies and video which can be stored to create a personal “look book”.
  • It uses smart assistant Alexa to give a verdict on outfit choices and recommend clothes to buy.
  • It is listed as available “by invitation only” on the Amazon website and is aimed at the US market only. I have requested an invitation.
  • With this data, Amazon won’t be able to just sell you clothes or judge you. It could analyze if you’re depressed or pregnant and much else.
  • Amazon said that it would not share any personal information with advertisers or third party websites.
  • The Echo Look helps extend Amazon’s intrusion into other parts of people’s homes.a

NSA Halts Controversial Spy Program

  • The National Security Agency announced on Friday it will be halting the “about the target” collection program that allowed the NSA to sift through emails and text messages leaving from and arriving in the United States mentioning information such as names, emails, and phone numbers associated with terrorist groups or foreign spies.
  • A program long criticized by civil liberties advocates, such collection and searching authorities allowed the agency to identify individuals thought to have a connection to terrorist groups or foreign spy agencies.
  • Annually, the intelligence community needs to secure court permission to continue its foreign intelligence collection without seeking individual warrants for each target.
  • That permission was not granted in 2016. The court granted a temporary extension, and the NSA has been working to adjust its procedures for querying its databases to “minimize” access to American data.
  • It’s unclear how the NSA will address the legal problems with the program, because of the way that data is packaged by the carriers.
  • The NSA will likely litigate the option to petition the court to maintain access to the same data in emergency situations.
  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board have previously stated that preventing this type of collection would create massive holes in foreign intelligence collection.
  • Civil liberties advocates immediately hailed the program’s suspension as a major victory in curtailing the NSA’s spying authorities.

Ransomware attacks around the world grow by 50%

  • Ransomware attacks on businesses around the world rose 50% last year, research into successful cyber-breaches shows.
  • Its popularity means malware is now responsible for 51% of all the incidents analyzed in the annual Verizon data breach report.
  • The rapid rise in the number of successful ransomware attacks was widely expected because so many malicious hacking groups were adopting the tactic.
  • A separate report by security firm Symantec found that the average amount paid by victims of ransomware had risen to $1,077.
  • In most attacks, booby-trapped attachments sent via email were the main delivery mechanism for ransomware and other malware.
  • Symantec statistics suggest about one in every 131 email messages was now harboring some kind of cyber-threat. They are arriving in Word documents and Excel spreadsheets.
  • The Verizon report also spotted a shift in the targets of cyber-attacks with 61% of victims now being companies with fewer than 1,000 employees.

Trump Targets Net Neutrality

  • Trump may push FCC to end net neutrality rules enacted during the Obama administration.
  • Keeping net neutrality is a commitment towards offering today’s entrepreneurs the same opportunities the founders of Google or Paypal had, ensuring everyone can have a voice online, and guaranteeing that poorer or rural communities can enjoy the same quality of content as wealthy urban dwellers.
  • Dropping net neutrality would give big cable companies a green light to carve up the internet and pick winners and losers online based on who has the deepest pockets.
  • There is unlikely to be anything new to say in the long and contentious debate over net neutrality. The decision by the FCC to pass the Open Internet Order followed more than a year of fierce debate.
  • The rules are going to be difficult to unravel, especially since the FCC has already defended them in court and won.
  • The new FCC leadership, which voted against the rules, is expected to try to undermine the rules by failing to enforce them.
  • But in order to remove them, the FCC would need to develop a replacement.
  • The other option is for Congress to pass new communications legislation. The US is in need of such legislation, since the last relevant laws were developed in 1996.
  • But such legislation would also be a huge undertaking. Given Congress’ recent failure to pass healthcare legislation, the idea of telecom reform looks impossible.

Smartphone Zombies blamed for road deaths

  • A sharp rise in US pedestrian deaths has been partly blamed on people using their smartphones while driving or crossing the road.
  • The US Governors Highway Safety Association estimates that there were 6,000 pedestrian deaths in 2016, the highest number in more than 20 years.
  • In the last six years, fatalities have grown at four times the rate of overall traffic deaths.
  • The report says a number of factors are to blame, including mobile use.
  • A more recent factor contributing to the increase in pedestrian fatalities may be the growing use of smartphones by all road users, which can be a significant source of distraction for both drivers and pedestrians.
  • More and more older teenagers and young adults are being injured as a result of ‘distraction’, as a result of crossing [roads] while using their phone. This can be as a result of having a conversation, listening to music, texting or using the net.
  • Some cities around the world are taking measures to counter the issue of smartphone distraction.
  • In the Bavarian town of Augsburg, the station has fitted red and green lights in the ground to warn people who “stubbornly look at their smartphone”.
  • Officials in the Dutch town of Bodegraven ran trials in February of traffic lights that project a red or green lighting strip across the pavements to alert smartphone.