Show of 06-23-2018

Tech Talk

June 23, 2018

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Joy in Ashburn: Dear Doc and Jim. I recently bought a new ASUS laptop with a trackpad. I hate using the trackpad and want a mouse. The laptop supports Bluetooth. Should I get a Bluetooth mouse or a RF dongle mouse? The second question should I get an optical mouse or a laser mouse? I really do not understand the difference between those two. I love listening to the podcast, since 9am is just too early to listen to the radio. Joy in Ashburn, Virginia
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are a few factors to consider when making your selection.
    • On boot up, a Bluetooth Mouse will take a few seconds longer to start up compared to an RF mouse.
    • The RF mouse requires a dedicated USB port for the USB receiver/Transmitter. If you have few USB ports, this might become an issue.
    • RF and Bluetooth mice use AA and AAA batteries. Battery duration for both mostly depends on usage and the extra functionalities of extra buttons. A Bluetooth mouse has to stay ON for longer spells to maintain a connection. Newer Bluetooth 4 standards have low emission designed for low energy and latency. This evens the playing field by providing much-needed battery efficiency.
    • Proprietary Bluetooth SIG qualification costs drive the price of Bluetooth devices upward.
    • A limitation to the RF computer mouse is that it can only connect to one device at a time. It also translates only devices with USB ports. Bluetooth, on the other hand, provides interoperability with multiple devices.
    • Both Bluetooth and RF mice operate within the 2.4 GHz spectrum. At some point, frequency congestion is bound to occur.
  • On average, it is a wash. You probably better off this a Bluetooth mouse because your laptop does not have very many USB ports.
  • An optical mouse uses red LEDs to track the movement of the mouse over a surface. A laser mouse uses an infrared laser for the same purpose. Initially the laser provided better tracking. However, with the improvement of the overall optical mouse technology, there is virtually no difference between the two methods. The net result is that it does not matter.
  • Email from Youel Sarkis: Dear Dr. Richard Shurtz. How are you doing? You guys are great and love the show as always. I have little issue concerning deleting a video from YouTube account and that is the only copy that I have. I see the video on my account but unable to play it. Can you please help? It is important. Thank You. Youel Sarkis
  • Tech Talk Responds: Your best bet may be to simply download the video from YouTube. KeepVid is a great option. It supports YouTube, DailyMotion, Megavideo, Metacafe, and Vimeo. Copy the URL of the video you want to download, go to, and paste it in the bar at the top. Then click “Download” to the right of that bar. Do not click the large green “Download” button. It will load for a few seconds, then you’ll have the option to download the video in FLV (Flash), MP4, or WebM format. If you do not know which one to pick, go with MP4, as it has the greatest compatibility. Download the video to your computer. Once the download is complete, play it to make certain that it works. Then you can delete the video from YouTube.
  • Email from John in the Outer Banks: Dear Doc and Jim. I have MS Mail on a Windows 10 laptop. I cannot configure my Verizon account. Remember that Verizon bought AOL and ported all of their mail services to AOL mail. I love my Verizon email address and do not want to give it up. Please help. John in Outer Banks
  • Tech Talk Responds:
  • Open email client. Click on Account in left hand column. In the pop up window, click on Other Account. Put in your email address, user name, and password. Note that user name is also your email address. Click create account. Once account is created, open the mail client and click accounts. You have to provide additional information because MS Mail will not automatically configure the account properly. Click on the new Verizon account. Click on Change Mailbox Setting. Click on Advance Mailbox Settings. Then enter the following data.
    • Incoming mail server:
    • Outgoing mail server:
    • Outgoing server requires authentication
    • Use the same user name and password for sending mail
    • Require SSL for incoming mail
    • Require SSL for outgoing email
  • Good luck with the installation. The information on the web can be somewhat sketchy.
  • Email from Kathy in Colorado: Dear Tech Talk. I am getting lots of spam. Should I respond and tell them to stop sending it? Should I report them? If so, where? Please give me some guidance. Kathy in Colorado.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Never, ever reply to spam. Period. It won’t help, and will more likely make things worse.
  • When you reply to an email, your reply is sent to the address listed in the “From:” field1 in the original email. The problem is that the “From:” line in spam is generally a lie. More commonly, it’s the email address of someone who is completely unrelated to the spam message.
  • Spammers send email to millions of addresses at a time, including many that are bogus. Sometimes spammers do pay attention to your reply, but not in the way you want. If they pay attention to it, they may use it to confirm that your email address is valid and their spam has been read by a real person. The result is that you’ll get more spam … lots more spam.
  • If it’s truly spam, then mark it as spam in your email program or email service. They will use the assorted characteristics of the message to better identify and automatically filter spam in the future. If it is something you signed up for, then unsubscribe. Mark it as spam only if the unsubscribe process doesn’t work. Don’t bother blocking the sender of spam. As we’ve seen above, the sender is rarely accurate, and changes randomly. If you don’t have the option to mark it as spam, or it doesn’t seem to help, simply delete it and move on.
  • As a last resort, you might consider moving to an email service that has a better spam filter. While not perfect, as of this update Google Mail remains the most effective, in my opinion.
  • Email from Susan in Alexandria: Hi Dr. Shurtz and Jim, One of your listeners last week noted how he can tell which shows are re-runs: “Dead giveaway is not getting or taking an answer to the pop quiz.” Well, we are tipped off at the very beginning of the show when Jim gives the rundown of what topics will be covered rather than Dr. Shurtz.  Of course, if the listener does not recognize already having heard those topics, then it’s a great chance to catch up! Susan in Alexandria
  • Tech Talk Responds: Susan, you are very astute. We love listeners like you.
  • Email from Mimi in Orlando: Dear Doc and Jim. I use MAC address filtering and don’t use WPA. I realize that means I must physically enter the MAC address of each device that wants to connect to my network, but I believe that MAC address filtering is also a viable security solution (with or without WPA or WEP). What are your thoughts? Love the show. Mimi in Orlando.
  • Tech Talk Responds: The short answer is that is not very secure. A MAC, or “Media Access Control” address, is a theoretically unique identifier assigned to every network interface card. It is the hardware network address. The Ethernet port on my desktop machine has a different MAC address than the Ethernet port on my laptop, which is different than the Ethernet port of Mary Ann’s laptop.
  • The MAC address itself is never encrypted. Even if you specify WPA2 encryption on your wireless connection, the MAC address itself is not encrypted. It can’t be, as it’s required to tell the computers involved which computer is supposed to receive the packet. Your data is encrypted, of course, but the MAC address is not.
  • So, let’s say a somewhat knowledgeable hacker is interested in accessing your WiFi hotspot, on which you have MAC address filtering turned on. He needs only needs to sniff the network and look at the MAC addresses which are allowed access to the WiFi and then configure his network interface to use one of those MAC addresses. This is called MAC address cloning. It takes minutes to do this.
  • Therefore, use WPA2 for more effective security and forget MAC address filtering.

Profiles in IT: Morris Chang

  • Morris Chang is best known as founder and former chairman and CEO of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest silicon foundry.
  • Chang was born July 10, 1931, in Ningbo, Zhejiang. When he was young, he wanted to become a novelist or journalist.His father did not agree with the decision.
  • In 1948, as China was in the height of the Chinese Civil War, a year before People’s Republic of China established, Chang moved to Hong Kong.
  • The next year he moved to the United States to attend Harvard University.
  • He transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received his BS and MS degrees in mechanical engineering in 1952 and 1953, respectively.
  • He wanted to enroll in the PhD program, but failed the qualifying exam so he sought a job in industry. In 1955, Sylvania Semiconductor hired him to as an engineer.
  • In 1958, he moved to Texas Instruments, which was then rapidly expanding. After three years at TI, he rose to manager of the engineering section of the company.
  • His first big accomplishment happened three months after he joined TI. He tweaked the process and increased yield from near zero to 25-30 percent.
  • In 1961, TI sponsored his PhD at Stanford. In 1964, he received a PhD in EE.
  • During his career at TI, he rose to Group VP of TI’s semiconductor business.
  • He went from germanium transistors to silicon transistors to integrated circuits. He engineered the transition from bipolar to MOS integrated circuits.
  • Morris pioneered the then controversial idea of pricing semiconductors ahead of the cost curve, sacrificing early profits to gain market share and achieve manufacturing yields that would result in greater long-term profits.
  • His final role was in consumer electronics. He failed to grow the business and was put out to pasture. He is proud of the Speak and Spell product, but left without job.
  • In 1984, he became president and CEO of General Instrument Corp.
  • In 1985, the government of Republic of China recruited him to become chairman and president of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).
  • Chang founded Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited in 1987.
  • This was pure-play foundry idea. He foresaw the rise of the fabless industry. He knew that fabrication was the entry barrier for many new companies. TSMC became one of the world’s most profitable chipmakers.
  • Chang left ITRI in 1994 and became chairman of Vanguard International Semiconductor Corporation from 1994 to 2003 while still serving as chairman of TSMC. In 2005, he handed TSMC’s CEO position to Rick Tsai.
  • In June 2009, Chang returned to the position of TSMC’s CEO once again.
  • On June 5, 2018, Chang announced his retirement from TSMC. He is still fondly known as father of Taiwan’s chip industry.

Geeky Websites of the Week: A Fun Place to Buy Gifts

The US Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Digital Privacy.

  • In a 5-4 decision on Friday, the justices said police need warrants to gather phone location data as evidence for trials.
  • That reversed and remanded a decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Carpenter v. United States is the first case about phone location data that the Supreme Court has ruled on. That makes it a landmark decision regarding how law enforcement agencies can use technology as they build cases. The court heard arguments in the case on Nov. 29.
  • The dispute dates back to a 2011 robbery in Detroit, after which police gathered months of phone location data from Timothy Carpenter’s phone provider. They pulled together 12,898 different locations from Carpenter, over 127 days.
  • The legal and privacy concern was that police gathered the four months’ worth of Carpenter’s digital footprints without a warrant. A Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals judge ruled that cellphone location data isn’t protected by the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable search and seizure, and therefore didn’t require a warrant.
  • In the Supreme Court’s ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the government’s searches of Carpenter’s phone records were considered a Fourth Amendment search.
  • While the decision sets a ruling for historical GPS data, the Supreme Court said it does not apply to security cameras, business records or real-time location tracking.

Supreme Court’s Rules that Internet Sales Can be Taxed

  • A U.S. Supreme Court ruled that for states can ask online retailers to collect internet sales tax.
  • Brick-and-mortar retailers that have seen their businesses destroyed by the rise of e-commerce, which formerly was not subject to sales tax.
  • The highest U.S. court made the decision after South Dakota in 2016 filed a lawsuit against major pure-play online retailers Wayfair.
  • In the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court said times have changed to such a degree that online retailers no longer qualify for “an arbitrary advantage over their competitors who collect state sales taxes” by claiming they don’t have a physical presence in a state.
  • Last year, e-commerce sales alone totaled $454 billion. When combined with traditional catalog and other “remote” sales, that figure topped half a trillion dollars.
  • Etsy and eBay both asked Congress to intervene and set up some sort of tax rules while protecting the many small merchants that sell on their platforms.
  • The South Dakota case on tax collection applies only to online retailers with more than $100,000 in annual sales or 200 transactions from the state.

US ignores a Tech Alternative during Border Controversy

  • The US government may have a more humane and cost-effective tech alternative to detaining families at the border.
  • The majority of undocumented immigrants detained by border patrol agents are enrolled in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s “Alternative to Detention” program, which uses technology to keep track of people instead of physically detaining them.
  • Since the pilot program kicked off in 2004, these techniques allowed for tracking through ankle bracelets, phone check-ins with voice recognition software and a mobile app. It meant that families could stay together rather than in a detention center.
  • The technologies offer an alternative to the “zero tolerance” policy that has separated more than 2,300 children from adults at the US border in just five weeks
  • The tech alternatives program allows ICE to monitor immigrants without locking them up. An ICE spokesman said the program had a 99.8 percent compliance rate, with the majority of immigration hearings happening without a hitch.
  • ICE didn’t clarify why families in the last five weeks weren’t granted alternatives to detention.
  • As of the end of 2016, 50,825 people were approved directly at border processing sites in California, Arizona and Texas.

Summer Solstice Defined

  • The summer solstice (or estival solstice), also known as midsummer, occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun.
  • It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern). For that hemisphere, the summer solstice is when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky and is the day with the longest period of daylight.
  • On the summer solstice, Earth’s maximum axial tilt toward the Sun is 23.44°.
  • Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs sometime between June 20 and June 22 in the Northern Hemisphere and between December 20 and December 23 in the Southern Hemisphere. The same dates in the opposite hemisphere are referred to as the winter solstice.
  • Since prehistory, the summer solstice has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures, and has been marked by festivals and rituals.
  • The summer solstice is the longest day of the year for that hemisphere.

Ten Years Ago on Tech Talk: Humanity’s Brush With Extinction

  • Human beings may have had a brush with extinction 70,000 years ago.
  • The human population at that time was reduced to small isolated groups in Africa, apparently because of drought.
  • The number of early humans may have shrunk as low as 2,000 before numbers began to expand again in the early Stone Age.
  • “This study illustrates the extraordinary power of genetics to reveal insights into some of the key events in our species’ history,” said Spencer Wells, National Geographic Society explorer in residence.
  • Wells is director of the Genographic Project, launched in 2005 to study anthropology using genetics. The report was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.
  • Studies using mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down through mothers, have traced modern humans to a single “mitochondrial Eve,” who lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago.
  • The migrations of humans out of Africa to populate the rest of the world appear to have begun about 60,000 years ago, but little has been known about humans between Eve and that dispersal.
  • The new study looks at the mitochondrial DNA of the Khoi and San people in South Africa, who appear to have diverged from other people between 90,000 and 150,000 years ago.
  • Eastern Africa experienced a series of severe droughts between 135,000 and 90,000 years ago, and researchers said this climatological shift may have contributed to the population changes, dividing into small, isolated groups that developed independently.
  • Paleontologist Meave Leakey, a Genographic adviser, asked, “Who would have thought that as recently as 70,000 years ago, extremes of climate had reduced our population to such small numbers that we were on the very edge of extinction?”
  • Today, more than 6.6 billion people inhabit the globe, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • The research was funded by the National Geographic Society, IBM, the Waitt Family Foundation, the Seaver Family Foundation, Family Tree DNA and Arizona Research Labs.

iOS 12 Will Share Location Data For 911 Calls

  • Your iPhone will soon share accurate location data when you call 911.
  • 911 operators currently have access to location data shared by mobile phone companies, but it tends not to be very precise.
  • Apple announced it will also use emergency technology company RapidSOS’s Internet Protocol-based data pipeline to quickly and securely share HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location) location data with 911 centers.
  • RapidSOS’s system will deliver the emergency location data of iOS users by integrating with many 911 centers’ existing software, which rely on industry-standard protocols.
  • Google is working on a similar system for Android phones, according to Android police, so calling 911 from your mobile phone should be a lot more effective in the next few years.