Show of 11-03-2018

Tech Talk

November 3, 2018

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Jean: Hello again Gentlemen, I am including a copy of the last email to you asking for help I did not make it clear that my head is spinning with reading the reviews about the best equipment to buy for the process of getting good results transferring the VHS tapes. I am using windows 10 and there are issues with some software. It seems as if there are always little caveats. Is the best I can get 720X480? Does that mean it will lose detail on a normal TV and it would be best played on a computer? Sorry I was not clear in my first email and thanks again for your very useful help. Jean
  • Tech Talk Responds: VHS is a consumer-level video standard developed by JVC and launched in 1976. Originally VHS was an acronym for Vertical Helical Scan (a reference to the recording system used) but was later changed to the more consumer-friendly Video Home System. VHS is a low-resolution video recording with (240 x 486) compared to a DVD (720 x 576) or HD (1920 x 1080). It will never look as good regular HD television.
  • A converter device that got really great reviews from average users is Elgato Video Capture – Digitize Video for Mac, PC or iPad (USB 2.0). It is $87.99 on Amazon. It captures video and puts it into a standard MPEG-4 format. It supports either 640×480 (4:3) or 640×360 (16:9) resolution. You can save the files on an external hard drive, a DVD, or the cloud. Many upload these videos to a private YouTube channel to share with family and friends.
  • Email from Linda in Myrtle Beach: Dear Doc and Jim. I am setting up email on my laptop and have choice for either using POP or IMAP protocol. Which should I choose? I read my emails using both my iPhone and my computer. Enjoy the podcast. Linda in Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Tech Talk Responds: POP (Post Office Protocol) is the traditional method used by email programs to retrieve e-mail from a mail server. When you retrieve your email the messages are moved from mail server to the computer/device you are using. Message storage limited only by the capacity of your computer. You cannot read your e-mail from multiple computers. If your computer fails you may lose all your email.
  • IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is the other major method used by email programs to retrieve mail. Unlike POP, IMAP keeps your messages on the server. IMAP accounts are a two way communication with our mail server where each device talks to our mail server to organize and view mail. All devices will see the same messages and an email that is moved to a folder on one device will be moved on all devices.
  • If you plan to view your mailbox from multiple devices (computer, laptop, smartphone), IMAP is your best option.
  • Email from Angie in Missouri: Dear Tech Talk. I have been looking a TVs and am confused by all of the standards (HD, UHD, 4K, etc). Can you shed some light on these TVs so I can sort through the hype. Love the podcast. Angie in Missouri
  • Tech Talk Responds: Resolution, in the sense I’m talking about here, refers to the number of pixels that compose the picture on the TV. A single pixel, or discrete picture element, consists of a tiny dot on the screen. On today’s TVs, there are between roughly one million (for 720p TVs) to eight million (for 4K Ultra HD TVs) such dots.
  • Lets talk about HDTV first. Nearly all HDTVs have an aspect ratio of 16×9, so that means a horizontal resolution of 1,920 pixels (1,920×1,080). These are called 1K because they have 1,080 pixels vertically.
  • Then we get some confusion. The 4K and UHD reference horizontal pixels. UHD is 3,840×2,160 resolution. Sometimes it is called 4K. But notice the 4K references horizontal pixels. Vertical resolution is 2K.
  • Technically, “4K” means a horizontal resolution of 4,096 pixels. This is the resolution set forth by the Digital Cinema Initiatives. Ultra HD TVs aren’t technically “4K” since their resolution is 3,840×2,160.
  • 8K follows the same logic. If you’re talking about TVs, it’s twice the horizontal and vertical of 4K TVs: 7,680×4,320.
  • Email from Christie in Alexandria: Dear Doc and Jim. How can I find all the photos on my computer? Is there an easy way. I have a Windows 10 laptop. Enjoy the show. Christie in Alexandria
  • Tech Talk Responds: File Explorer has a quick trick for searching for different types of documents. Open up File Explorer and navigate to the location you want to search. You can search your entire PC by selecting the “This PC” entry in File Explorer’s navigation pane. You can also search a particular hard drive or folder.
  • Next, click the search box at the top right of the window. Doing so will display the otherwise hidden “Search” tab at the top. Switch to that tap, click the “Kind” button, and then select “Pictures” from the drop-down menu. The search includes images saved in JPG, PNG, GIF, and BMP formats, which are the most common formats used. Once you’ve located the picture(s) you were looking for, you can right-click it, then select “Open File Location” to open the folder where it’s contained.
  • After you have located all the photos stored on your computer, you can move them to a more specific folder–like Pictures– or back them up on an external storage device where they hopefully will not be lost and forgotten again.
  • Email from Wendy in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I have started buying many products online, especially from Amazon. I tend to rely on the reviews, but recently I have heard that companies pay for fake reviews. How can I tell if a review is fake? Love the show. Wendy in Fairfax.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are right. Many reviews are fake. Companies have been known to hire fake reviewers to praise products and boost sales. If you are browsing Amazon or Yelp, and suspect the reviews you are seeing are fake, there is a quick way to support your suspicion: ( This site analyzes the comments and works out whether the reviews are likely to be fake.
  • Copy the product URL form any Amazon or Yelp page you think has suspicious review. The site will scan all the reviews and give you an adjusted rating, with reviews that are likely fake removed.
  • Fakespot scans the language used in every review, and also checks the profile of every reviewer, then uses a number of factors to decide whether a given review is likely to be fake or not. This site is quick and easy to use. I highly recommend it.
  • Email from Deborah from Baltimore: Dear Doc and Jim. I have Windows 10 on my laptop at him. I would like to share photos and MP3s across all my devices. I tried to install Apple iTunes and iCloud. I get an error message that says it cannot install Apple applications on this OS. What can be done? Love the show. Deborah from Baltimore
  • Tech Talk Responds: Apple has created Windows applications for both iTunes and iCloud. I have them installed on my Windows 10 computer. You apparently downloaded the applications written for the Mac and not for Windows. If you try and install a Mac application on a Windows computer, you will receive the error message that an Apple application cannot be installed on a Windows machine. Delete those apps. Go back to the download site and download the correct version of iTunes and iCloud.

Profiles in IT: Marian Rogers Croak

  • Marian Rogers Croak is an African-American technologist who is best known for being the driving force behind Voice of IP.
  • Marian Rogers Croak was born in 1955 in NYC.
  • At age 5, she knew she wanted to be the one who would be called when something needed repair. Whether she was an imagined plumber, electrician or carpenter, it didn’t matter. She envied that men could go out and work.
  • Her father built me my very own chemistry lab in our home and she attended a public New York City high school better known for bars on its windows than academics.
  • Her teachers understood how to inspire her. She wanted to be challenged and to do something that would change people’s lives. She I liked science.
  • In 1968, she earned her Bachelor’s degree at Princeton University.
  • In 1982, she earned a PhD in Social Psychology and Quantitative from USC.
  • She joined AT&T at Bell Labs in 1982. She felt somewhat unusual at first as a woman in a “man’s world,” but she loved the work. She completed her the regular workday, then late nights at the Labs, drafting five or six patents on the weekends.
  • She dedicated most of her career to the design, development and launching of integrated voice and data services for AT&T. She was on the data-side of the house which was competing with the core (switching networks, moving to ATM).
  • She was quiet, self-reflective and introspective and liked to invent. She holds over 350 patents, including over one hundred in relation to Voice over IP.
  • She pioneered the use of truncated phone numbers for viewers to vote for their favorite television show contestants and the public to donate to crisis appeals.
  • She filed the patent for text based donations to charity in 2005. The 2010 Haiti earthquake collected over $30 million using her innovation.
  • She served as VP of the Service Network in R & D, supervising more than 500 engineers and computer scientists.
  • In 2012 Croak wrote a letter to young women in technology in the Huffington Post.
  • In 2012, she was promoted to Senior VP of Applications and Services Infrastructure, where she led the Domain 2.0 Architecture to virtualize network infrastructure.
  • She was inducted into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame in 2013.
  • She was named the 2014 Black Engineer of the Year award.
  • In 2014 she left AT&T to join Google, where she serves as Vice President for R&D.
  • She leads on Google’s expansion into emerging markets, including Project Loon which plans to use balloons to extend coverage. She is pushing for acceleration in India, dealing with extreme weather and high population density.
  • She works with female colleagues to ensure they are comfortable contributing and don’t feel pressured to change their personality to fit their roles in the organization,
  • She enjoys long distance running, saying that that time is her most creative.

The Morris Worm turns 30

  • On Nov. 2, 1988, the Morris Worm brought the Internet to a halt. It was a bad day.
  • The patch to protect against the worm was not released for 24 hours. By that time, 10 percent of the Internet was down and the rest was slowed to a crawl.
  • Robert Tappan Morris, then a graduate student at Cornell, wasn’t trying to “attack” the internet’s computers. He thought his little experiment would spread far more slowly and not cause any real problems. He was wrong.
  • The Morris worm had three attack vectors: sendmail, fingerd, and rsh/rexec. It also used one of the now-classic attack methods: Stack overflow in its attack.
  • It was also one of the first attack programs to use a dictionary attack with its list of popular passwords. The passwords and other strings hid in the Worm’s binary by XORing, a simple encryption method.
  • Morris also tried to hide his tracks. He started the worm from a MIT computer. It hid its files by unlinking them after trying to infect as many other servers as possible.
  • Even without a malicious payload, the Worm did serious damage. Infected systems quickly did nothing but trying to spread the worm, thus slowing them down to a crawl. Some, most of them running SunOS, a Unix variant and the ancestor of Solaris, crashed under the load.
  • Before the Worm was finished, it successfully attacked about 6,000 of the 1988 internet’s 60,000 servers. In the aftermath, DARPA created the first CERT/CC (Computer Emergency Response Team/Coordination Center) at Carnegie Mellon University to deal with future security attacks.
  • Morris was prosecuted for releasing the worm, and became the first person convicted under the then-new Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
  • He went on to co-found the online store Viaweb, one of the first web-based applications and later the funding firm Y Combinator
  • He later joined the faculty in the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, where he received tenure in 2006.

The real-life Mario has died

  • The man who inspired Nintendo’s Super Mario character has died, aged 84.
  • Mario Segale, a highly-successful Italian-American property developer, was Nintendo of America’s landlord at its offices near Seattle in the company’s early days.
  • Segale left an impression on Nintendo by storming into the warehouse he rented to the company demanding it catch up on late rent payments.
  • Mario wore overalls and was not very tall.
  • He “always ducked the notoriety and wanted to be known instead for what he accomplished in his life”. He didn’t want to be known as Super Mario.
  • Mario’s first appearance in a video game was as ‘Jumpman’ in the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong, but the red-suited plumber would go on to star in his own franchise later that decade and become, the most iconic character in gaming history.
  • Nintendo wanted proper names for the characters, so they named the hero after their landlord and the lady Pauline after a Nintendo of America employee’s wife.

Next Generation Smart Glasses May Be Accepted

  • After four years and $140 million in funding later, North is launching its answer to Google Glass. They’re called Focals, and they work with Alexa.
  • The arms of the glasses are made of die-cast, matte finish aluminum. The rest of the frames are made of a premium nylon thermoplastic. This looks similar to acetate, another kind of plastic that’s often used in eyewear, but it holds up to heat better than acetate.
  • The glasses use direct holographic projection technology. This custom-built projector sits on the right inner arm of the glasses. It projects light onto the right lens, where it bounces off and is reflected back into your eye. The right lens has a photopolymer film inside it, which makes the light reflect in a precise way; this is the “holographic” element.
  • They curve the hologram first, and then correct the distortion, and then cast a prescription around that.
  • The menu is controlled with a remote control ring. The accompanying ring lasts three days on a charge. This ring is North’s solution to replace a touch-sensitive swipe panel on the glasses. It has a tiny joystick. It’s supposed to go on your forefinger. You control the little nub with your neighboring thumb.
  • Focals will cost $999 a pair and can only be purchased at the company’s two physical retail locations, in Toronto and Brooklyn, NY. This is so the company can guarantee the best possible fit and experience.

Daylight Saving Time

  • Daylight saving time (DST), also daylight savings time (United States) is the practice of advancing clocks during summer months so that evening daylight lasts longer, while sacrificing normal sunrise times.
  • Typically, regions that use daylight saving time adjust clocks forward one hour close to the start of spring and adjust them backward in the autumn to standard time.
  • In effect, DST causes a lost hour of sleep in the spring and an extra hour of sleep in the fall.
  • George Hudson proposed the idea of daylight saving in 1895. The German Empire and Austria-Hungary organized the first nationwide implementation, starting on April 30, 1916. Many countries have used it at various times since then, particularly since the energy crisis of the 1970s.
  • DST is generally not observed near the equator, where sunrise times do not vary enough to justify it.
  • Only a minority of the world’s population uses DST, because Asia and Africa generally do not observe it.

Radio Controlled Clocks (or Atomic Clocks)

  • A radio clock or radio-controlled clock (RCC) is a clock that is automatically synchronized by a time code transmitted by a radio transmitter connected to a time standard such as an atomic clock.
  • Such a clock may be synchronized to the time sent by a single transmitter, such as many national or regional time transmitters. These consumer grade clocks are sometimes called atomic clocks.
  • WWVB is a time signal radio station near Fort Collins, Colorado and is operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
  • Most radio-controlled clocks in North America use WWVB’s transmissions to set the correct time.
  • The 70 kW signal transmitted from WWVB is a continuous 60 kHz carrier wave, the frequency of which is derived from a set of atomic clocks located at the transmitter site, yielding a frequency uncertainty of less than 1 part in 10^12.
  • A one-bit-per-second time code, which is derived from the same set of atomic clocks, is then modulated onto the carrier wave using pulse width modulation and amplitude-shift keying.
  • A single complete frame of time code begins at the start of each minute, lasts one minute, and conveys the year, day of year, hour, minute, and other information as of the beginning of the minute.
  • In 2011, NIST estimated the number of radio clocks and wristwatches equipped with a WWVB receiver at over 50 million.

Tim Cook wants Bloomberg to retract its spy chip story

  • Chinese spy chips didn’t infiltrate Apple’s technology, according to CEO Tim Cook.
  • He wants Bloomberg to retract its story saying they did.
  • A report from Bloomberg Businessweek earlier this month said Chinese spy chips were allegedly used to gather intellectual property and trade secrets from the iPhone maker and Amazon Web Services, an Amazon subsidiary that provides cloud computing services.
  • The chips were found in servers assembled in China for a US company called Super Micro, according to the report, and could have been subject to a secret US government investigation that began in 2015.
  • Apple immediately denied the report and even told Congress that it was never hacked.
  • On Friday, Cook again denied the allegations during the interview with BuzzFeed and said he wants Bloomberg to retract its story.
  • Though there are often inaccurate rumors and other stories published about Apple, the company rarely asks for a retraction.
  • Apple, AWS, Super Micro and China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs all disputed the report, which cited anonymous government and corporate sources.
  • The report came against a backdrop of growing concern over potential surveillance and security issues in Chinese-made equipment, worries that’ve hindered the country’s bid to become a global technology powerhouse.
  • The US Department of Homeland Security said it was aware of the reports of compromised supply chains in the technology industry. However, “at this time we have no reason to doubt the statements from the companies named in the story,” the department said in its statement.

Two Botnets Control Thousands Android Devices

  • Two botnet gangs are fighting to take control over as many unsecured Android devices as they can to use their resources and mine cryptocurrency behind owners’ backs.
  • The turf war between these two botnets –one named Fbot and the other named Trinity– has been going on for at least a month.
  • Both are in direct competition and are going after the same targets, namely Android devices on which vendors or owners have left the diagnostics port exposed online.
  • This port is 5555, and it hosts a standard Android feature called the Android Debug Bridge (ADB). All Android devices support it but most come with it disabled.
  • There are tens of thousands where this feature has been left enabled, either by accident during the device’s assembly and testing process or by the user after he used the ADB to debug or customize his phone.
  • Making matters worse, in its default configuration, the ADB interface also doesn’t use a password.
  • The number of Android devices with an ADB port exposed online usually varies between 30,000 and 35,000 during a day.
  • Cyber-criminals have also noticed these devices. Back in February this year, a botnet built on a malware strain known as ADB.Miner had infected nearly 7,500 devices, most of them being Android-based smart TVs and TV top boxes.
  • This malware strain evolved and morphed into a new botnet named Trinity.
  • Just like its previous ADB.Miner incarnation, the Trinity botnet has continued to rely on the exposed ADB interface to access devices, plant its crypto-mining malware, and then use the infected device to spread to new victims.
  • In September, a different botnet was also seen scanning for devices with an ADB port left exposed online. This second botnet, named Fbot, has not been seen mining cryptocurrency, yet. Fbot contains special code that specifically searches for Trinity’s file name and removes it.
  • While its purpose remains a mystery and it may take some time before Fbot becomes just as large as Trinty, it is clear that Android device owners need to take note of this malware trend and make sure their device is not exposing the ADB port online.