Show of 02-09-2019

Tech Talk

February 9, 2019

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Richard in Rockville: Hello Richard and Jim. I got a February 1 email from the Google Team announcing that My Personal GOOGLE + Account would be going away on April 2. I have used ordinary GMAIL for the past decade or so but have never subscribed to or (knowingly) opted in to a so-called Personal GOOGLE + account.  I hope that my regular GMAIL access will not go away or be harmed in any way.  Can you advise? Thank you, Richard in Rockville
  • Tech Talk Responds: The short answer is that Google Mail and Google + are two different applications. Google Mail will continue. Following a massive data exposure, Google announced that it is shutting down its social network Google+ for consumers. The company finally admitted that Google+ never received the broad adoption or engagement with users. The company discovered a bug in one of Google+’s People APIs that allowed apps access to data from Google+ profiles that weren’t marked as public. The bug was patched in March 2018. However, Google+ will continue as a product for Enterprise users.
  • Email from Betty in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I am 89 years old and only have a flip phone. I would love to use Uber, but my phone will not install the Uber app. Can I use my iPad to request an Uber ride? That will safe me lots of money. Love the show. Betty in Fairfax.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Yes, you can absolutely use iPads or other tablets like Android to order Uber or Lyft. All you have to do is to download the rider apps on them, and use it like you would a iPhone/smartphone app.  You do need WiFi/Internet connection and preferably GPS. You can also potentially use the browser on your laptop, iPad or tablets.  Uber and Lyft both support this feature now.
  • Here is the caveat: When you request a ride, the companies prefer that you can communicate with the drivers using the phone or through text messages. On a tablet, you most likely do not have that option. Hence, you may hit some frustrating situations if the driver tries to contact you. There is some confusion on this topic, because Uber’s site seems to suggest smartphones are required, most likely for the caveat given above.
  • Email from Feroze in Fredericksburg: Dear Tech Talk. I have two Bose Quiet Comfort (Series 2) Bluetooth Headsets and would to connect them to my TV. They is incompatible with my Sony TV, so the connection failed. I am have Apple TV (4th Generation) connected to my TV to stream other media. What are my options? Feroze in Fredericksburg
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are in luck. You can connect your Bose headsets directly to your apple TV. Make certain to install the latest firmware update in the earphones. You will need to install the Bose Connect app in your cell phone and connect to an headset. Then download and transfer the firmware update. After completing that for both headsets, you need to pair them. Turn on Apple TV; go to Setting; select Remotes and Devices; select Bluetooth. Your Applet TV is now in pairing mode. Turn on your Bose Headset; push the on button forward until you hear a ready to pair message. The name of your headset should appear on the Apple TV. Click that name and you are paired. Do this for the other headset.
  • Apple TV supports Bluetooth 5 and your headsets support Bluetooth 4.1, which is compatible. Bluetooth 4.1 only supports one audio steam at a time. Even though both are paired, only one headset can be connected at a time.
  • Email from Lynn in Houston: Dear Tech Talk. I love to use Pandora, but now I have a problem. I shared my account information with my children so they could listen free. In the beginning, Pandora did not care. Now they are enforcing the one data stream rule. Only one of us can listen at a time. This is not working. I am currently paying 12.99/month for the premium plan. Moreover, I do not see any other plans on my iPhone. What are my options? Lynn in Houston.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Fortunately, Pandora has a family plan. However, it is not available through the app store. You will have to discontinue you subscription in the app store and let it expire at the end of the month. To do this Launch the Settings app; Tap iTunes & App Store; Tap on your Apple ID; Tap View Apple ID when the pop up window appears; Enter your Apple ID password or fingerprint ID when prompted; Tap Subscriptions; Tap the Subscription you want to cancel. I gave you this sequence because it is hard to find.
  • After it expires, go to and log into your account. Click on the icon in the upper right; select Settings; select Subscription. Select Family plan for 14.99/month. You can add addition accounts above the base account for $2.50/month each. Your children will need their own account to be added. This is your cheapest option.
  • Email form Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz, Climate change is a big deal in the news nowadays. I have read that data centers with massive computers, servers et al, require significant power or energy requirements. This being the case, how will solar and wind generated energy be able to support data/ massive server centers, or will they? Curious how high energy needs will be met with alternative energy sources. Great show with neat & usable info. Thanks, Arnie in Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: Apple, Amazon, and Google all have the goal of powering their data centers with renewable energy. They are relying on solar panels with battery backups; operating in cold climates so they can employ thermal transfer; or operating near cold-water reservoirs for thermal transfer. Data centers are an easy problem to solve because they can be located anywhere and are a highly concentrated user. Many are already using workload management to use energy from the grid when it is in abundance and cheaper.
  • Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Dear Dr. Shurtz and Jim. I really enjoy your wonderful TechTalk radiocast programs. I have saved on my Apple iPad, multiple podcast for transferring to my desktop computer (via hardwire connection) for burning to a CD. However, I cannot find the saved files on my iPad. When I am in the iPad’s Podcast Application I see a Saved Icon Symbol next to the selected podcast. Short of going to the Apple Store and paying for assistance, what are my options that I can try first? Thanks, Doug / Baton Rouge, LA
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you downloaded the podcasts using the Apple Podcast app, you downloaded episodes will be in the iTunes Store in the Library section. iTunes is a media manager unique to Apple products. You can only transfer purchased (or free) apps acquired though the Apple eco-system. In your iPhone, open Settings. Click on Podcast. Tap Sync Podcast to On. To transfer these podcast to your computer, connect your iPhone to your computer using the USB cable. Launch iTunes on your Computer. In iTunes on the computer, pick iTunes/Preferences. Tap the Store Tab. Choose Sync Podcast Subscription and Setting. Now all Podcasts will be automatically transferred.

Profiles in IT: Erna Schneider Hoover

  • Erna Schneider Hoover is best known for inventing a computerized telephone switching method which revolutionized modern communication.
  • Erna Schneider was born on June 19, 1926 in Irvington, New Jersey.
  • She loved swimming, sailing, canoeing, and was interested in science at an early age. She was inspired by the biography of Marie Curie, a woman scientist.
  • She graduated from Columbia High School in Maplewood in 1944.
  • In 1948, she graduated with honors from Wellesley College with a degree in classical and medieval philosophy and history.
  • In 1951, she earned a PhD from Yale University in philosophy and mathematics.
  • Hoover was a professor at Swarthmore College from 1951to 54, where she taught philosophy and logic. However, she had been unable to win a tenure-track position.
  • In 1954, she joined Bell Labs as a senior technical associate and promoted in 1956.
  • When a call center was inundated with thousands of calls in a short amount of time, overwhelming the unreliable electronic relays, and the entire system to freeze.
  • Hoover used her knowledge of symbolic logic and feedback theory to use data about incoming calls to impose order on system. It was computer software based.
  • Her method gave priority to processes that were concerned with the input and output of the switch over processes that were less important (record keeping and billing).
  • The system became known as stored program control.
  • Hoover’s thinking about the invention happened while she was in a hospital recuperating after having given birth to her second daughter.
  • Lawyers for Bell Labs handling the patent had to go to her house to visit her while she was on maternity leave so that she could sign the papers.
  • The result of the invention was much more robust service to callers during peak load.
  • Hoover was awarded a patent in 1971, one of the first software patents ever issued.
  • She became the first woman supervisor of a technical department at Bell Labs. She headed the operations support department in 1987.
  • The principles of her invention are still being used in telecomm equipment today.
  • She worked on the development of the Safeguard Anti-Ballistic Missile System.
  • Her department worked on artificial intelligence methods, large databases, and transactional software to support large telephone networks.
  • She worked at Bell Labs for 32 years until retiring in 1987.
  • As a member of the board of Trustees of The College of New Jersey, she was described as a visionary who was instrumental in increasing women faculty.
  • She was elected as a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2008.
  • She received the Wellesley College alumni achievement award.

Observations on Education in the World

  • No matter where I travel, leaders acknowledge that education is the key to the future development of their county.
  • I have spoken to leaders in Pakistan, India, Sir Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and others.
  • They are seeking the golden grail in education: a growth mindset, but are challenged by the legacy British educational system.
  • Let’s talk about the human mind and how miraculous it is. We are learning engines.
  • The mind evolved in this way to get around the constraints in our human genome.
  • We are programmed and designed to teach ourselves, by changing synaptic values
  • This particular structure of neurons and synapses has three attributes
    • Learning Rate and Learning Capacity are independent
    • Neural networks are naturally associative memories
    • We have preconceived notions and expectations that influence perception.
  • Project centric work in the classroom is the natural way to teach.
  • Two fantastic examples in Pakistan: Habib University in Karachi and Information Technology University in Lahore.

Beware: Apple Airpods Can Be Used for Spying

  • You can now eavesdrop on your partner, your best friend and your boss all from a safe and inconspicuous location.
  • All you need is an iPhone, the latest operating system and a pair of Apple AirPods.
  • Apple officially cut the cord in 2016 and introduced us to the wireless AirPod.
  • Now they have added Live Listen for the hearing impaired….or for the amateur spy.
  • Live Listen effectively gives you super hearing by allowing you to place your iPhone close to a person or speaker you’re having trouble hearing.
  • It’s easy to set up through your control center if you have the latest iOS 12.
  • Once you download the new operating system, and enable the Live Listen feature (which appears as an ear icon), you can then turn up the volume on your iPhone’s microphone to listen to things closely through your AirPods.
  • What we now know is that you can actually leave your phone in different rooms, more than 15m away, and still hear everything that is going on.
  • Here we were, thinking Apple was spying on us, when really they were just road testing their prototype so we could eventually spy on each other.
  • You can also use your Apple watch for the same eavesdropping purpose. In fact, it would appear much more innocent to “accidentally” leave a watch lying around the board room at work.

Apple Maps gets turn-by-turn directions in India

  • Aiming to make GPS navigation better and ride-hailing easier for iPhone users in India, Apple on released turn-by-turn directions as well as support for cab-hailing apps Uber and Ola in Apple Maps in the country.
  • You could always download a third-party maps app on the App Store, but features like proactive alerts, or Apple Watch navigation are best offered by Apple Maps.
  • Apple Maps’ rival Google Maps has been the de facto navigation application in India for quite some time now, thanks to the popularity of Android and the driving, walking and public transport modes in it.
  • Disregarding quality of source data, many people prefer to use Apple Maps, because of its prettier, cleaner and ad-free user interface.

Hacking Bird Electric Scooters

  • Electric scooter company Bird has demanded that Boing Boing take down a story that discusses a $30 way to hack Bird scooters.
  • The article, published last month, describes a large number of Bird scooters dumped on city streets and follows that by saying “maybe now is a good time to invest in a $30 scooter ‘conversion kit.’”
  • The kits, which ship from China, are essentially a plug-and-play way to disable the Bird recovery and payment features to turn the scooter into your own personal one.
  • The story mentions how you could also potentially acquire one of the Bird scooters from an auction for around a dollar apiece.
  • Bird sent Boing Boing a notice of claimed infringement to alert the publication that writing about the issue could potentially be illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
  • Bird’s letter states that the article writer, journalist Cory Doctorow, promoted the sales of an illegal product that is designed to bypass Bird’s own proprietary tech’s copyright protections.
  • You just need to swap out Bird’s motherboard for a new one, which technically avoids modifying or accessing any Bird code.

Earth’s Magnetic North Pole Has Officially Moved

  • Earth’s magnetic North Pole has drifted so fast that authorities have had to officially redefine the location of the magnetic North Pole.
  • Earth’s magnetic field is known to have wandered and flipped in the geologic past.
  • Earth’s magnetic field is a result of spinning molten iron and nickel 1,800 miles below the surface. As the flow of molten metals in the outer core changes over time, it alters the external magnetic field.
  • The World Magnetic Model just updated their official location of the magnetic north.
  • The model is typically updated every five years and was last updated in 2015.
  • However, the recent rapid movement of the magnetic north prompted scientists to update the model early.
  • The magnetic North Pole is moving 34 miles a year toward Russia. Just a half-century ago, the magnetic North Pole moved about 7 miles each year.
  • Earth’s magnetic North Pole is moving from the Canadian Arctic toward Russia.
  • While the rapid movement of Earth’s magnetic North Pole may cause concern over the potential flip of magnetic poles, there is no evidence that such a flip is imminent.
  • Earth’s magnetic poles have flipped many times in its history, with the latest reversal occurring 780,000 years ago and 183 times in the past 83 million years.
  • There is no evidence that a magnetic field reversal causes increased extinctions, volcanic activity, etc.

Crypto Boss Dies with Bitcoin Passwords. $190M lost.

  • Customers of a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange are unable to access $190 million of funds after the company’s founder died with the passwords.
  • Gerald Cotten, the 30-year-old founder of QuadrigaCX, died due to complications with Crohn’s disease.
  • The executive reportedly passed away in December while traveling in India to open an orphanage. Cotten held “sole responsibility for handling the funds and coins.”
  • About $190 million in cryptocurrency and traditional money is said to be in “cold storage,” with the digital key held by Cotten.
  • While his wife has Cotten’s laptop, she does not know its password and even a security expert has been unable to get past the device’s encryption.