Show of 10-20-2018

Tech Talk

October 20, 2018

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from June in Burke: DOC, I need to send phone service payment to relative and they mentioned using Venmo. How safe is Venmo? Is there another mobile app that is safer? I have already realized I do not want to put my bank account number in or debit. Maybe a virtual limited card to pay. Also how safe is a bank app to scan a check? Lots of mobile questions dealing with money. Any info you can go live would be much appreciated. Enjoy listening to pod cast at work. June in Burke Va
  • Tech Talk Responds: Venmo is a mobile payment service owned by PayPal. It allows users to transfer money to others using the service using a mobile phone app; both the sender and receiver have to live in the U.S. It handled $12 billion in transactions in the first quarter of 2018. In January 2018, PayPal rolled out its Instant Transfer feature on Venmo. This feature allows to deposit funds to their debit cards typically within 30 minutes rather than days. A $0.25 fee is deducted from the transfer amount for each transfer while the standard bank transfer, typically completed within 1-3 business days, is still available for no fee.
  • Venmo includes social networking interaction; it was created so friends could quickly split bills, whether that is for movies, dinner, rent, tickets, etc. I look at Venmo as PayPal for millennials. It is as secure and reliable as PayPal.
  • I have also transferred funds using my online banking app. They transfer the funds using Zelle. Zelle interfaces with most banking apps. That is reliable and trustworthy too.
  • Email from Don in Arlington: Dear Doc and Jim. I am looking to buy a new car and really want to use my iPhone with Waze for navigation. When will this be available in new car offering. Love the show. Don in Arlington
  • Tech Talk Responds: CarPlay is an Apple standard that enables a car radio or head unit to be a display and also act as a controller for an iPhone. It is available on all iPhone 5 and later models with at least iOS 7.1. While most of the CarPlay software runs on the connected iPhone, the CarPlay interface provides the audio and display connection to the infotainment system. CarPlay is controlled through the touch screen, rotary dial, trackpad, or buttons on the instrument cluster and steering wheel.
  • Most worldwide vehicle manufacturers have said they will be incorporating CarPlay into their infotainment systems over time. According to Apple’s website, all major vehicle manufacturers are partnering with CarPlay. Apple CarPlay is supported on more than 400 models through 2019. Some manufactures began adopting CarPlay in 2016, with the biggest expansion in 2018. Even Lexis is coming onboard for 2019 models. They were a major holdout. In addition, the recent Waze update now support Apple Carplay, so you won’t have to hold the phone while you are navigating.
  • Link to the supported cars:
  • Email from Feroze in Fredericksburg: Dear Doc and Jim. I have been installing devices that connect to my Wi-Fi router and they all have a WPS button. My Wi-Fi router also has a WPS button. What is this button used for and how does it work? Enjoy the show. Feroze in Fredericksburg.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is a network security standard to create a secure wireless home network. Created by the Wi-Fi Alliance and introduced in 2006, the goal of the protocol is to allow home users who know little of wireless security and may be intimidated by the available security options to set up Wi-Fi Protected Access, as well as it easy to add new devices to an existing network without entering long passphrases.
  • To activate this setup, the user has to push the WPS button on both the access point and the new wireless client device. On most devices, this discovery mode turns itself off as soon as a connection is established or after a delay (typically 2 minutes or less), whichever comes first, thereby minimizing its vulnerability. During setup the all network information, including password and network name, are transferred to the new device automatically.
  • Email from Jeff in Gaithersburg: Dear Tech Talk. I have a Wi-Fi dead spots in my house and would like to fix them. Is there a way to extend my network without spending too much money? Enjoy the show live. Jeff in Gaithersburg
  • Tech Talk Responds: You have several options, ranging from directional antennas, a range extender, to a second router. I have tried them all at one time or another. The easiest option I believe is the range extender. Range extenders have gotten much better over the years and a now very easy to setup.
  • When choosing a range extender, it’s important to choose one that matches your router’s specs. For example, if you have a dual-band AC1900 router, get a dual-band AC1900 extender (or better). If your router supports Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) data streaming, which provides enhanced performance by sending data to compatible clients simultaneously rather than sequentially, look for an extender that supports this technology if you want to extend your MU-MIMO
  • There are two types of range extenders; desktop and plug-in. Most desktop extenders look just like a typical wireless router and are typically equipped with external adjustable antennas, multiple LAN ports and USB ports. Plug-in extenders are much smaller than their desktop counterparts and are inserted right into a wall outlet. Some models have external antennas, while others use internal antennas to present an unobtrusive profile. Plug-in extenders usually only have a single LAN port and lack USB connectivity. If you can’t afford to sacrifice a wall outlet, look for a plug-in model that offers a pass-through outlet.
  • But most of today’s routers and range extenders support WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup), which makes pairing the two as simple as pressing a couple of buttons, naming your new extended network, and creating a network password. Some (but not all) extenders are equipped with LED status indicators that tell you if the extender is too far from the router. I would recommend a plug-in extender for your situation. Try one first and add a second if you still have a dead spot. Two-band range extenders that support MU-MIMO are in the $100 to $125 range. Two-band range extenders without MU-MIMO are in the $50 to $75 range. Netgear and TP-Link range extenders are PC Mag editor’s choice.
  • If you’re considering upgrading your network with all new hardware, it’s worth looking into a mesh-based Wi-Fi system before you spend money on a traditional router. Wi-Fi systems are designed to blanket your home with wireless coverage and are made up of several networking components, including a main router and a series of satellite modules, or nodes, that you place throughout your home. They are all part of a single wireless network and share the same SSID and password, which means you can roam throughout your house without having to log into an extended network. Google Wi-Fi is the cheapest mesh coming in a $130 per node. Other meshes with PC Mag editor’s choices are made my Linksys, TP-Link, and Netgear, with costs ranging from $300 to $500 for either two or three nodes.
  • Email from John in Bethesda: Dear Tech Talk. I own an HP inkjet printer and the print cartridges are too expensive. I tried to refill my ink cartridge to save money and my printer is now rejecting it. I also tried buying cheaper cartridges from other companies and my printer rejected them. Is there anything I can do to save money on these printers. I am frustrated. Love the show. John in Bethesda
  • Tech Talk Responds: Printer manufacturers hate third-party ink cartridges. They want you buying the expensive, official ones. Epson and HP have issued sneaky “updates” that break these cheaper cartridges, forcing you to buy the expensive ones.
  • HP pioneered this technique back in 2016, rolling out a “security update” to its OfficeJet and OfficeJet Pro printers that activated a helpful new feature. Now, before printing, the printer would verify you’re using new HP ink cartridges. If you’re using a competitor’s ink cartridge or a refilled HP ink cartridge, printing would stop.
  • In late 2016 or early 2017, Epson started sending deceptive updates to many of its printers. Just like HP, Epson disguised these updates as routine software improvements, when really they were poison pills, designed to downgrade printers so they could only work with Epson’s expensive ink systems.
  • If you don’t like this extortion, your only option is to buy a laser printer with more economical toner cartridges. If you want to print photos, consider using a photo-printing service rather than buying an expensive photo printer, pricey photo paper, and endless overpriced ink cartridges.

Profiles in IT: Jeremy Stoppelman

  • Jeremy Stoppelman is best known as co-founder and CEO of Yelp.
  • Stoppelman was born November 10, 1977, in Arlington, Virginia.
  • Stoppelman, who spent his early childhood in Arlington, Va., before his family moved to nearby McLean. His middle school was next to CIA headquarters.
  • His dad had a Packard Bell 8088 computer. He tinkered with it without permission.
  • He got his own personal computer, an Amiga 2000, when he was in the 10th grade.
  • Stoppelman aspired to be a video game developer and took Turbo Pascal classes.
  • He was also interested in business. At 14, he opened a Schwab account and bought stocks with money earned mowing lawns or picking up pinecones.
  • When he arrived at the University of Illinois, he was interested in both finance and engineering. He chose engineering and graduated in 1999.
  • He attended the University of Illinois and obtained a BSEE degree in 1999.
  • After graduating he took a job with @Home Network. After four months, he was interviewed by Elon Musk and was hired by, which later became PayPal.
  • It was here that Stoppelman met businessman Max Levchin, a PayPal investor.
  • Stoppelman became the V.P. of engineering at PayPal, and is one of a group of PayPal’s early employees sometimes referred to as the PayPal mafia.
  • After it was acquired by eBay in 2003, he left to attend Harvard Business School.
  • Levchin persuaded him to do an internship at his business incubator, MRL ventures.
  • In 2004, he got the flu and could not find recommendations for a local doctor.
  • He and former PayPal colleague, Russel Simmons, began brainstorming on how to create an online community where users could share recommendations for services.
  • They pitched the idea to Levchin who provided $1M in initial funding.
  • The site allowed someone to ask a friend for a recommendation, but people just wanted to write recommendations without being asked. So they pivoted to site that focused on making recommendations fun to write
  • Yelp grew to a market capitalization of $4B and hosted 138M user reviews.
  • In 2012 Stoppelman, Yelp issued an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • The biggest challenges at Yelp has been business owners suing reviewers that leave negative comments and allegations that Yelp favors advertisers.
  • Stoppelman has a hands-on management style. He has a desk among his employees.
  • He is a strong believer in doing 1 on 1 meetings with each of his reports every week.
  • He feels that listening to people and hearing their problems keeps things humming.
  • The estimated Net Worth of Jeremy Stoppelman is at least $161M October 2018. He makes $10M as CEO of Yelp.

Why Apple Watch link to Jamal Khashoggi ‘killing’ is unlikely

  • Jamal Khashoggi has been missing since 2 October after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul
  • There is a story going around that Jamal Khashoggi recorded exactly what happened inside Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate on his Apple Watch.
  • The story was first reported in the Turkish paper Sabah. Sabah says Khashoggi turned on his Apple Watch’s recording facility before entering the Saudi consulate. Then it says the circumstances of his “interrogation, torture and killing” were recorded and sent to his iPhone, which was with his fiancée outside the consulate, and to Apple’s iCloud.
  • The report says Khashoggi’s attackers spotted the watch and tried to access it with guesses at his passcode before using his fingerprint to unlock it. They then deleted some but not all of its files.
    • First discrepancy. The Apple Watch does not use the company’s Touch ID system, so fingerprint access would have been impossible.
    • Second discrepancy. The recording function does not come built in to the device, but a number of third party apps allow you to record audio. But for that recording to upload to his iPhone, he would have had to press stop without his assailants noticing.
    • Third discrepancy. His Apple Watch would have needed a Bluetooth connection to the phone in the hands of his fiancée outside. Now Bluetooth has quite a limited range. It seems very unlikely that the signal would have stretched through several walls of the Istanbul building.
  • Direct connection to a cellular network was not possible either. There are not any supported carriers listed for Turkey.
  • It seems far more likely that they have other means of detecting what foreign diplomats are up to and the Apple Watch story is just useful cover.

App of the Week: Be My Eyes

  • Be My Eyes helps people who are blind or visually impaired “see” things with the help of sighted volunteers and the video cameras on their iPhones.
  • Through a direct video call the app gives blind people the opportunity to ask a sighted volunteer for help, for tasks that require normal vision. The person who is blind “borrows” the helper’s eyes all through his or her smartphone.
  • The sighted helper is able to see and describe what the blind person is showing the sighted helper by filming with the video camera in the smartphone. That way, by working together they are able to solve the problem that the blind person is facing. The Be My Eyes app is free and available in the Google or Apple App Store.
  • The idea behind Be My Eyes originates from the Danish 50-year-old furniture craftsman Hans Jørgen Wiberg, who started losing his vision when he was 25.
  • As of October 2018, By My Eyes has 97K blind registrants and 1.6M sighted volunteers. I have already registered and am waiting for my first call.

Idea of the Week: Hurricane Damage Assessment Imagery Online.

  • From October 11-14, 2018, the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) collected 9,580 aerial damage assessment images covering approximately 4,153 square miles in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.
  • Imagery was collected in specific areas identified by NOAA in coordination with FEMA and other state and federal partners.
  • Collected images are available to view online via the NGS aerial imagery viewer.
  • Aerial imagery is a crucial tool to determine the extent of the damage inflicted by flooding, and to compare baseline coastal areas to assess the damage to major ports and waterways, coastlines, critical infrastructure, and coastal communities. This imagery provides a cost-effective way to better understand the damage sustained to both property and the environment.
  • This imagery was also used by property owners to check on their property without driving to the site.
  • Some holdouts, who were trapped by the debris, put out help signs on their lawn and the imagery was used to direct rescue workers.

US Users Can Download All Their Apple Data

  • Apple is allowing all US users to download a copy of every last bit of their data from the company.
  • This feature has been available for EU users since May, thanks to new GDPR mandates, but now the company has extended this courtesy to American users as well.
  • This means you can now, just like with Google and Facebook, request a copy of all the information Apple has on you.
  • Here’s how you can download your data.
    • First, go to Apple’s Data and Privacy page, and you’ll be prompted to log in with your Apple ID and password.
    • Then choose “Get started” under “Get a copy of your data” section.
    • Next, you’ll see a screen that says “Get a copy of your data.” From here, you can select which data you’d like included in your “package” of info.
    • Next, you’ll be asked to choose a maximum file size for your data package. Your data will be distributed into multiple files of that size.
  • Apple will let you know when the download is ready via email.