Show of 05-12-2018

Tech Talk

May 12, 2018

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Jim in Bowie: Dear Tech Talk. I listened to some of Tech Talk Saturday morning. You had another email asking about how one could reduce the cost of Verizon Wireless service. You mentioned that Verizon has a “Prepaid Plan” that the don’t advertise. I went over to the Verizon office in Bowie and Saturday afternoon and asked about their Prepaid Plan. Once I explained that we bought our current iPhones from the Apple store, had no desire to use their so-called “free phone” upgrade option, and that we were currently month-to-month (not under contract) in our current plan, they were quite happy to enroll us in their Prepaid plans.  It was actually quite easy and smooth to do. We are saving $75 a month under our new plans – and actually getting more GB of data. Previously we shared 6 GB, but now one phone has 7 GB and the other has 3 GB (which is plenty). Thanks for the mention of the Verizon Prepaid plans on your show.  It inspired me to investigate and ask the right question – saving us money and getting better service, too! Jim in Bowie
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the feedback. These plans are always better and they do not force you to pay for a new phone as part of your monthly bill. You can now get a new phone when you want and will not feel forced to upgrade. This the way Europe and Asia have been for years. Now the US is catching on, as consumers become better informed.
  • Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Dear Dr. Shurtz, (Hey Jim and Mr. Big Voice). I have a couple of short questions about computer procedures. First, do you see any problem with me shutting down my computer in a “hibernate” state? I normally hibernate my computer when a computer session is ended which allows for a quicker Win-10 OS start up. All session files and any opened apps are shut down and closed as well. I will do this method for a week or more before I do a full and complete computer shut down. Also after each session I will normally unplug my computer from any electrical source so the computer is not exposed to potential line surges or night thunderstorms.
  • The last question is about the automated-file-backup to an imaged external hard drive. If I create an external hard drive that has an image of my main hard drive and if I install an application that automatically updates the external hard drive with any altered main drive files, will it also copy over malicious malware that may have crept into the main drive? As usual, your radio shows are great and enjoyable!! Thanks, Doug / Baton Rouge, LA
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are using hibernate correctly. It is designed for a quick startup. As you suspect, memory is frequently not released by poorly written programs, so a full restart is required periodically. Your weekly schedule seems pretty good to me. As for the mirror image, you are correct that malware will also be backed up. If you have a good virus scan each time you use the computer, you are protected. I like Malwarebytes as an effective low cost option.
  • Email from Alan in Kansas: Dear Doc and Jim. I just got a new laptop with Windows 10 installed. Periodically, when I try to save a file, I get an annoying popup forcing me to sign into OneDrive. I really do use OneDrive for anything. I backup everything using Carbonite. How can I get rid of this pop up. This is bothersome when I do not even have an active Internet connection. Love the show. Alan in Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: The reason OneDrive starts up with Windows every time is because it’s listed in the startup items in your PC’s configuration. To disable OneDrive from starting up every single time you reboot your PC, just right-click on the Taskbar and choose the “Task Manager” option—or use the handy CTRL+SHIFT+ESC keyboard shortcut. In Task Manager, choose the “More Details” option at the bottom, and then flip over to the Startup tab, where you will see the MS OneDrive listed. Just click the Disable button, and you are all done. The next time you reboot your PC, that annoying OneDrive login window should be gone.
  • Rather than disable something you plan to never use, you can uninstall it. Go to Settings (press Windows+I), click the “Apps” option, find Microsoft OneDrive under the “Apps & Features” section, and then click the “Uninstall” button.
  • Email from Alice in Alexandria: Dear Doc and Jim. Help me with a debate that I am having with my son. Whenever I type a document, I put two spaces after each period to give more space between sentences. I believe that it make the document easier to read. My son puts one space after periods. He says that I am old fashioned and that two space slows him down and does no good. What is the real rule for typing documents: one space or two? That is the question. Love the show. Alice in Alexandria
  • Tech Talk Responds: This has been a battleground question for years. The two space rule started with fixed pitch typewriters. When variable pitch fonts became available on computers, some experts said that the two-space rule was not necessary. Not everyone agreed.
  • A study done by Skidmore College has just been released. It is titled: “Are Two Spaces Better Than One? The Effect of Spacing Following Periods and Commas During Reading.” It appears in the current issue of the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics. Rebecca Johnson, an associate professor in Skidmore’s department of psychology, led the team. Her expertise is in the cognitive processes underlying reading. Their final conclusion is that all readers benefit from having two spaces after periods. In the Skidmore study, among people who write with two spaces after periods, there was an increase in reading speed of 3 percent when reading text with two spaces following periods, as compared to one. This is an average of nine additional words per minute above their performance under the one-space conditions.
  • So Round One has been won by the two spaces. Let you son know and then enjoy the moment.
  • Email from Dennis in Arkansas: Dear Tech Talk. I heard that Apple slows down your phone as the battery degrades. I don’t want this feature. I would prefer to the full capability of my phone and then simply recharge more often. I can I disable my iPhone CPU throttling feature? Enjoy the podcast. Dennis in Arkansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: You will need to update to the latest operating system iOS 11.3. It has a new feature called Battery Health, which will show you two simple things: the battery’s maximum capacity and the “peak performance capability.” The latter is what you will be looking for if you’re concerned about CPU throttling.
  • To access this new option, open the Settings menu, then tap the “Battery” option. Click on Battery Health. The first option here—Maximum Capacity—is basically a way of gauging your battery’s health. It lets you know the actual capacity of your battery relative to its brand-new state. While a brand new phone will be 100%, this number will start to drop as the phone ages and the battery wears.
  • The second option—Peak Performance Capability—will let you know if your device is affected by the slowdown “feature.” If the battery currently reports that it “supports normal peak performance,” then the device has never experienced an unexpected shutdown then you’re good to go—no throttling for you. Be glad—but there will come a day when you won’t be.
  • Because one day, the battery might be “unable to deliver the necessary peak power.” And when that happens, it will automatically apply Performance Management, which basically means it’ll slow down the phone’s processor to avoid random shutdowns.
  • If that happens, you’ll have the opportunity to disable said feature. Once your device is affected, there will be an explanation of what’s happening along with a button to disable the feature.
  • Once you do, however, be aware that you’re opening yourself up to the problem of random shutdowns. Without that throttling, your phone may turn off without warning.
  • If you battery capacity is degraded because I age, you can have Apple provide a replacement battery for only $29 (reduced from $79 for 2018). The earlier battery shortage is now alleviated, so this replacement can be made without a long wait. Apple made this offer earlier, to make amends for slowing down phones without telling the consumer. Many thought that this was simply a way to get people to upgrade every two years.

Profiles in IT: Marcin Kleczynski

  • Marcin Kleczynski is best known as CEO and co-founder of the Internet security company, Malwarebytes.
  • Kleczynski was born in Łódź, Poland November 1, 1989.
  • His family immigrated to the United States when he was just 3 years old.
  • He was fascinated with flying and in 2011, he obtained his pilot’s license.
  • Kleczynski attended Fenton High School in Bensenville, Illinois and received his B.S. from the University of Illinois in 2012.
  • As a teenager, Kleczynski found a job working as a technician in a computer repair shop in Chicago. They would reformat the hard drive of an infected computer.
  • It was only when his mother’s computer became infected that Kleczynski learned that neither McAfee nor Symantec would remove the malware from his system.
  • It was only after Kleczynski posted on the forum SpywareInfo, popular at the time, that he was able to learn how to fix the computer.
  • In 2004, he bought an unused domain name, Malwarebytes, from a friend.
  • Kleczynski began writing his own free software tools in Visual Basic. With one of the site’s regulars, Bruce Harrison, he wrote the first version of the software.
  • In 2006, he worked with a college roommate to produce a freely available program called “RogueRemover”, a utility which targeted rogues, which scam computer users into giving away their credit card information through fake anti-virus software.
  • RogueRemover proved instrumental in developing Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
  • Kleczynski was able to set up a forum which enabled him to improve the software through feedback.
  • Kleczynski and Harrison formally launched Malwarebytes on January 21, 2008 while Kleczynski was studying computer science at the University of Illinois.
  • Bruce became the VP of Research for Malwarebytes, and he further hired Doug Swanson, and experienced freeware development technician.
  • Kleczynski and Harrison reportedly made $600,000 in their first year of selling the software, despite not having met personally at the time.
  • In 2014, Malwarebytes received $30 million in funding from Highland Capital.
  • By 2015, it had treated 250 million computers worldwide, representing about 20-25% of working business computers.
  • The company grew from 25 to 35 million active in 2014, revenues grew by 1650%.
  • In 2016, Malwarebytes unveiled an anti-ransomware package Endpoint Security and announced that it had raised $50M from Fidelity Management and Research.
  • In 2014, Kleczynski won the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 award, and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
  • Kleczynski reportedly made his first million by the time he was 19.

Amazon Can Deliver to Your Car

  • Amazon can now drop off deliveries in your trunk at home and in parking lots.
  • As a Prime member, get your Amazon packages securely delivered right into your vehicle parked at home, at work or near other locations in your address book.
  • Park your vehicle in a publicly accessible area to receive in-car deliveries, and track your packages with real-time notifications.
  • You will need a 2015 or newer car with OnStar or Volvo On Call. Here are the supported car brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Volvo.
  • You need to link Amazon Key to your OnStar or Volvo On Call service. When your delivery driver arrives at your car, the service remotely opens your trunk or hatchback. Amazon’s drivers cannot open your car on their own.
  • Couriers can use those assistance services to find the cars through satellite location-tracking and unlock the trunk.
  • You can does not have to be home. It could be near your work in an accessible public parking place.
  • In-car delivery is available in 37 U.S. cities and surrounding areas—including Atlanta, Austin, Houston, L.A., Miami, Nashville, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
  • The company conducted a small pilot test of in-car delivery in Germany in partnership with Audi and DHL several years ago.

Word of the Week: Selfitis

  • Are you obsessed with taking selfies?
  • Chances are you might have “selfitis” — a genuine mental condition that makes a person feel compelled to constantly take photos and post them on social media.
  • The term has been around since 2014 to describe obsessive selfie-taking but has not been backed by science until now.
  • Researchers from Nottingham Trent University and Thiagarajar School of Management investigated the term and discovered six motivating factors.
  • Those who suffer from selfitis are generally seeking to boost their confidence, seek attention, improve their mood, make memories, conform with their social group and be socially competitive.
  • Typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to ‘fit in’ with those around them and may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviors.”
  • Now the existence of the condition appears to have been confirmed, it is hoped that further research will be carried out to understand more about how and why people develop this potentially obsessive behavior and what can be done to help people who are the most affected.

Apps to Keep Your Kids From Texting and Driving

  • The best way to avoid a distraction is to completely remove it from your view—you know: out of sight, out of mind.
  • So make that a rule in the car. Put the phone away, somewhere it can’t be seen (or preferably even heard): in the console, in the glove box, in the trunk—just somewhere out of sight.
  • If you have an iPhone, you can set Do Not Disturb to automatically turn on in a moving vehicle. This prevent you from easily using it, as well as blocks all notifications to avoid distraction.
  • To turn it on, go to Settings, and then tap the “Do Not Disturb” option.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the Do Not Disturb page, and then click “Do Not Disturb While Driving” menu. There are three options here: Automatically, When Connected to Car Bluetooth, or Manually. Pick whichever one best fits your situation.
  • From that point forward, DND is activated automatically based on those settings. No notifications, no distractions. A safer drive.
  • There are also app that work on either an Android or iOS.
  • LifeSaver: Lifesaver blocks texts and calls while driving, can alert parents when a child arrives at their location safely, tracks mileage, and a lot more. It’s available for both iOS and Android, and offers a many of parental options.
  • AT&T DriveMode: This app is a simple one, but it gets a lot of things right. It automatically turns on when it detects movement of 15MPH or more, blocking all notifications. It should then automatically disable itself a few minutes after the vehicle stops moving. Despite being an AT&T app, it’s available for all users regardless of carrier. It’s available for iOS and Android.

Amazon Fake Reviews

  • Thousands of Amazon account holders are part of an extensive, invisible workforce fueling a review-fraud economy.
  • Buyers are unwittingly purchasing inferior or downright faulty products.
  • The systems that create fraudulent reviews are a complicated web of subreddits, invite-only Slack channels, private Discord servers, and closed Facebook groups.
  • The best way to make it on Amazon is with positive reviews, and the best way to get positive reviews is to buy them.
  • In a 2011 survey, 87% of consumers said a positive review confirmed their decision to purchase a product; online customer reviews are the second most trusted source of product information, behind recommendations from family and friends.
  • But only 3% to 10% of customers leave reviews. The best way to make it on Amazon is with positive reviews, and the best way to get positive reviews is to buy them.
  • In October 2016, Amazon banned free items or steep discounts in exchange for reviews facilitated by third parties.
  • Amazon’s ban didn’t stop sellers from recruiting reviewers. It only drove the practice underground. Reviewers are no longer simply incentivized with free stuff, they’re commissioned specifically for a five-star rating in exchange for cash.
  • Paid reviewers also typically pay for products with their own credit cards on their own Amazon accounts, with which they have spent at least $50, all to meet the criteria for a “verified purchase,” so their reviews are marked as such.
  • But based on his analysis of Amazon data, one researcher has estimated that 9.1% of the reviews are unnatural.
  • Amazon is investing heavily to detect and prevent inauthentic reviews. In addition to advance detection, we use a machine-learned algorithm that gives more weight to newer, more helpful reviews.

South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange under investigation

  • Upbit, the fourth largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, is under investigation for charges of faking its balance sheet and deceiving investors.
  • The exchange’s office in Seoul, South Korea, was raided by 10 investigators from the country’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS)
  • The investigators have reportedly seized Upbit’s computers and account sheets to review the company’s cryptocurrency holdings.
  • While the authorities have not yet pressed charges or released a full report of the investigation, it appears that Upbit users are withdrawing their funds from the exchange desk en masse, according to market data.
  • South Korea has been shifting the focus from outright ban of cryptocurrencies and ICOs to defined regulations since the beginning of this year.
  • This has, however, meant greater scrutiny of cryptocurrency businesses in the country.
  • Four executives from two different cryptocurrency exchanges including Coinnest, South Korea’s fifth largest cryptocurrency exchange, were also arrested last month for charges of embezzlement and fraud.

The Last Chance for Net Neutrality

  • Democrats in the Senate, and one Republican, took a step Wednesday toward saving net neutrality by forcing the U.S. Senate to vote on whether to overrule a FCC decision to undo open internet protections.
  • The senators are hoping to save the open internet rules through the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to veto rulings by federal agencies.
  • On Wednesday, the group of senators filed a discharge petition, a formality needed to trigger a vote on the Senate floor. It was not immediately known when the vote will be scheduled, although the deadline for a vote is June 12.
  • At its core, net neutrality regulations prohibit internet service providers from engaging in “unfair” practices, including blocking websites, throttling traffic and engaging in paid prioritization, or when an internet provider favors one of site over a competitor’s or offers better access to companies that pay for it.
  • The issue has split hard-line members of both parties. With a Republican majority, the FCC voted 3-2 in December in favor of returning to a “light touch” approach and ending the “micromanaging of the internet.”
  • While a Senate vote appears to be one of the final chances to stop the FCC rule, getting the necessary votes is going to be an uphill battle.
  • If Sen. John McCain, a Republican who is currently home in Arizona battling brain cancer, is not present for the vote, a 50-49 decision would send the vote to the House.
  • With Republicans in the majority, 236-193, in the House, the resolution is unlikely to pass, and even if it does, it would still need President Donald Trump’s signature.