Show of 07-06-2019

Tech Talk
July 6, 2019

 Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Segments taken from previous shows.

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Doug in Baton Rouge: Shurtz and Jim. I found in the street a run over Samsung S9 cell phone. It is badly damaged with the case backing is fractured on all sides. It is dead for all purposes. How do I go about finding the owner? I have not brought the phone inside for a closer examination, but I would assume that there is a micro card installed with sensitive data on it. Your advice please. If you suggest disposing it because there is no way to locate the owner, I would like to disassemble it out of curiosity. If the internals are not damaged, it probably would be a fun project to rebuild with parts from the internet. Or will the phone be LOCKED and not worth rebuilding? I always look forward to your great radio shows! –Thanks, Doug / Baton Rouge, LA
  • Tech Talk Responds: The phone has two identifiers. The IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number and the phone number. The IMEI (15 decimal digits: 14 digits plus a check digit) includes information on the origin, model, and serial number of the device. If it is a GSM phone you could move the SIM card to another and discover the phone number. Both numbers can be traced to the owner through the records of the telecomm carrier. In all likelihood, the phones data was backed up on the cloud and the owner and restored the data to a new phone. The phone number has then been assigned to another phone and this phone’s connection to the network has been disabled. It is of no value to the current owner.
  • Email from Helen in Rockville: Dear Doc and Jim. I would like to be able to open my garage door remotely for package deliveries. I would also like to have it close automatically in the evening, in the event that I forget to close it. What are my options to enable these two features with my garage door opener? Love the show. Helen in Rockville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: Neither of these features are built into conventional door openers. You will have to add a device to your garage door to enable this ability. I would suggest use the Nexx Home Garage Door Opener. Nexx Garage is a companion device to existing garage door openers and allows one or more users to securely open, close, and monitor their garage door from anywhere. Nexx Garage uses apps on either your iOS or Android devices using your WiFi connection. It has a magnetic sensor to know when the garage door is closed or open. You can operate device with your cell phone from anywhere.
  • To trigger your device to close automatically, you will need another app. You will need to use the IFTTT (IF This Then That) app on your smartphone. IFTTT is a free web-based service to create chains of simple conditional statements, called applets. An applet is triggered by changes that occur within other web services such as Gmail, Facebook, Telegram, Instagram, or Pinterest. For example, an applet may send an e-mail message if the user tweets using a hashtag, or copy a photo on Facebook to a user’s archive if someone tags a user in a photo. Or, in your case, if the time reaches a certain point. Nexx Garage supports IFTTT. Simply configure IFTTT to send a close signal to your garage at the appropriate time. IFTTT only works with applications have support for it.
  • Email from Lien in Fairfax: I keep receiving a notification on my computer saying Microsoft is going to stop supporting Windows 7 in January. I really like Windows 7 and I hate the thought of having to upgrade to Windows 10! Is this really true or is it a scam? Lien in Fairfax.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Microsoft has indeed announced that they’re going to stop releasing security updates and providing technical support for Windows 7 to the general public on January 14, 2020. You have five options:
  • Do nothing and take your chances.Your computer’s Windows 7 installation will keep on working after January 14. It just will not receive any security updates after that date. Not recommended.
  • Upgrade your computer’s Windows 7 installation to Windows 10. If your PC was built not long before Windows 10 was released you can probably save some money by simply purchasing a Windows 10 license and installing the upgrade.
  • Replace your Windows 7 PC with a brand new Windows 10 machine. This is likely to be the best option since purchasing a Windows 10 license will cost about 1/3 of what you’d pay for a new low-cost Windows 10 laptop or Windows 10 desktop PC. If you don’t need a high performance computer you can easily add a couple of hundred bucks to the Windows 10 upgrade price and buy an entirely new machine! Probably the best option.
  • Replace Windows 7 with Linux. If you only use your PC for the Internet (visit websites, access social media, send and receive email, etc.) you can replace your PC’s Windows 7 installation with Linux for free! Your computer will probably run faster with Linux on it that it currently does with Windows 7! May be a good option for a techie.
  • Simply stop using your computer and use a mobile device instead.These days more people access the Internet with a smartphone or tablet than with a traditional laptop or desktop computer.
  • Email from Michael in Boston: Dear Tech Talk. When I woke up this morning and turned on my laptop to check my email, the laptop could not find my Wi-Fi network. I had it scan for available networks and it found just one. I first thought it might be a neighbor’s Wi-Fi signal that was straying into my house, but then I noticed that it was a really strong signal. When I unplugged my router the new Wi-Fi network disappeared. My router is a Belkin N450DB. It appears that someone has hijacked my router somehow. Can you help? Michael in Boston
  • Tech Talk Responds: It sounds like someone has taken control of your router and renamed your Wi-Fi network. The first thing you need to do is manually reset the router back to its factory settings. Doing so will wipe out that rogue Wi-Fi network and allow you to log in to the router to set up one of your own. Here’s how:
    • With the router powered up, turn it around to where you’re looking at the back panel.
    • Press and hold the “Reset” button for at least 10 seconds, and then release it. The lights on the Router will momentarily flash. The “Router” light will begin to blink. When the “Router” light becomes solid again, the reset process will be complete.
  • Next, you need to log into the router’s setup utility
    • Connect the router to your computer with an Ethernet cable.
    • Open your web browser and paste this URL into the address bar:
    • After the “Router Setup Utility” loads, click Login.
    • Click the Submit button. .Since there is no default password for this particular router, you can simply leave the password field blank.)
    • Set up a new Wi-Fi connection. Be sure to use WPA2 security and choose a strong password that’s impossible to guess.
    • Finally reset the default router password
  • One final note: Your Belkin N450DB is a really old router. I recommend that you consider replacing it with a more recent model, giving your better speed and security.
  • Patricia in Florida: I am an avid LinkedIn user. I frequently view profiles of people who have left my company, but I don’t want them to know. Is there a way to stop LinkedIn from showing that I viewed their profile? Patricia in Florida
  • Tech Talk Responds: LinkedIn tells people when you view their profiles and shows them your name. That person may even get an email or alert saying you viewed their profile. Here’s how to browse privately without LinkedIn sharing this information.
  • To find this option, go to the LinkedIn website.
    • Click your profile icon on the top bar, and select “Settings & Privacy.”
    • Click “How others see your profile and network information” under Privacy.
    • Click “Profile viewing options.”
    • Anonymous LinkedIn Member. People will still see that someone viewed their profile, but they’ll see only that an anonymous person viewed it.
  • LinkedIn will hide the names of people who view your profile from you after you enable this anonymity option.
  • Dennis in Kansas: Dear Tech Talk. I have a large house and the basement is very far from the Wi-Fi access point. I have nearly no Wi-Fi signal in my recreation room. How can I extend my Wi-Fi to the basement is a cost effective way? Dennis in Kansas
  • There are a couple of common methods for dealing with a weak or non-existent Wi-Fi signal in a home, both of which can be problematic:
  • Tech Talk Responds: Your best option is an inexpensive Powerline Networking / Wi-Fi Extender Kit to provide fast wired and wireless connections to any part of your home without having to run any wires! You can even use one of these kits to extend your Wi-Fi network to a detached garage or other outbuilding as long as the other building is connected to your home’s primary circuit breaker panel!
  • These kits typically contains two devices: a Powerline Ethernet Adapter and a Wireless Network Extender.
    • Connect the Powerline Ethernet Adapter to your router with an Ethernet cable, then plug the device into the nearest electrical outlet directly.
    • Plug the Wireless Network Extender into any electrical outlet in the remote area of the house where you wish to extend your Wi-Fi network to.
  • After you have installed the two devices in the kit, you’ll be able to plug a desktop computer or other device with a wired Ethernet connection directly into the Wireless Network Extender. You will have a strong and fast Wi-Fi signal in that area as well.
  • I recommend is the NETGEAR PowerLINE 1000 Mbps WiFi, 802.11ac, 1 Gigabit Port – Essentials Edition Kit. It is currently $108 on Amazon.
  • Angie in Missouri: Dear Doc and Jim. I have been reading about new time-of-flight cameras on 2019 smart phone. All the manufacturers are joining the cause. What is so special about this camera? Is it worth waiting for? Angie in Missouri
  • Tech Talk Responds: A ToF camera uses infrared light to determine depth information. The sensor emits a light signal, which hits the subject and returns to the sensor. The time it takes to bounce back is then measured and provides depth-mapping capabilities. In phones, ToF camera sensors will likely be used for 3D photography, AR, and in particular Portrait mode. Theoretically, ToF cameras can better blur photo backgrounds in Portrait mode. We say “theoretically” because the process still requires software magic.
  • In photography, this idea of foreground and background is called depth of field. It’s what creates a sense of realism or focus. Objects that are nearby look sharp, with clean outlines, while far away objects look slightly blurred. With a ToF camera, photographers have more options for controlling their depth of field.
  • As of April 2019, there are only a few phones that have built-in ToF cameras, like the LG G8 ThinQ, the Honor View 20, the Huawei P30 Pro, and the Oppo RX17 Pro. These phones are marketed toward photographers and geeks, but they’re setting the standard for future phones, including Samsung and Apple’s 2019 and 2020 releases.

Profiles in IT: Alfred J. Gross

  • Alfred J. Gross, the founding father of wireless communication, invented an early walkie-talkie, Citizen’s Band radio, the telephone pager and the cordless telephone.
  • Gross was born in Toronto, Canada on February 22, 1918. The son of Romanian immigrants, he grew up in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • In 1927, he became fascinated with things wireless at age 9 when his parents took him on a cruise on Lake Erie, and the ship’s radio operator let him listen in.
  • At 12, he scrounged parts from a junkyard to cobble together a ham radio.
  • At 16, he earned an amateur operator’s license, using the call sign W8PAL.
  • He was determined to investigate the frequency region above 100 MHz.
  • By 1938, Gross had developed a portable high-frequency radio with two-way communications. The device, which he called a walkie-talkie, caught the attention of the U.S. Office of Strategic, which recruited him to develop a two-way, air-to-ground radio system for covert use by troops behind enemy lines.
  • These mobile “walkie-talkies” made it possible for the military to conduct a high level of surveillance throughout World War II.
  • The Joint Chiefs of Staff later praised Mr. Gross’s project as having ranked among the Allies’ most successful wireless intelligence-gathering operations.
  • After the war, Gross demonstrated his walkie-talkie for the FCC, which allocated the first frequencies for the Citizens’ Radio Service Frequency Band in 1946.
  • He embraced CB radio, adopting the name Veeblefetzer as his own CB handle.
  • Veeblefetzer is a word used facetiously as a placeholder name for any obscure or complicated object or mechanism, especially in auto repair.
  • Gross formed Gross Electronics Co to produce two-way communications system to utilize these frequencies, receiving FCC approval in 1948. He sold more than 100 thousand units of his system, mostly to farmers and the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • In 1949 when he adapted his two-way radios to one-way for cordless remote telephonic signaling, effectively inventing the first telephone pager system.
  • According to Gross, doctors hated it, because that it would interrupt their golf.
  • This same technology is used in signaling devices such as garage door openers.
  • In 1950, he tried in vain to interest Bell Telephone in mobile telephony. They were firmly tied to their wired infrastructure.
  • His patents expired before mobile telephones and pagers were widely accepted. He joked that if he were born 20 years later, he would be a rich as Bill Gates.
  • He served as principal engineer at such leading electronics companies as Sperry Corp., Westinghouse, and Orbital Sciences until his death in 2000 at age 82.
  • Gross received the IEEE Edwin Howard Armstrong Achievement Award and Medal (1999), the Marconi Memorial Gold Medal of Achievement (1997) and a Presidential Commendation in Telecommunications from Ronald Reagan (1981).

Drone “Fireworks” Displays Displace Traditional

  • There aren’t any 4th July traditions more firmly entrenched than fireworks.
  • However, a handful of towns in the Western U.S. are turning to drones to keep things wildfire-friendly.
  • While traditionalists might complain that a fireworks display just is not a fireworks display without the sternum-rattling booms, drone-based solutions are rather clever.
  • There’s nearly zero environmental impact, no air quality impact, and no risk of wildfires in the parched states where towns are experimenting with the alternative displays.
  • Travis Air Force Base, California, has a great drone show that could be seen on YouTube.
  • Link to video:

An IT Guy Gets Fired and Erases 23 Amazon Web Servers

  • In 2016, Voova, a marketing and software company an IT staffer and paid a big price.
  • The employee, 36-year-old Steffan Needhan, was let go due to “poor performance” after only four weeks on the job.
  • Needhan was still able to access the company’s systems soon after being terminated, because he’d stolen a fellow employee’s login credentials.
  • After gaining entry to Voova’s network, Needham erased the Amazon Web Services computers which hosted the company’s main business applications and data.
  • As a result, the company lost “big contracts with transport companies” worth $700,000
  • The company was unable recover the deleted data.
  • Needham was ultimately tracked down and arrested, and he found guilty.
  • Could Voova have avoided this crisis? Yes, and the solution would have been simple: a 2FA (two-factor authentication) system.

Locating a Webcam in Your Hotel Room or AirBNB

  • Hidden webcams have become a problem. One network of 1,600 webcams in bedrooms was streamed over a pay-per-view site on the Internet.
  • How can you detect a hidden webcam in your room?
    • Perform a common sense scan of the room (smoke detectors above the bed, motion sensors, clock radios, etc.). Anything that is out of place or at a strange angle.
    • Turn off the lights and look for any infrared emitters. Use the front camera on our iPhone because it does not have an infrared filter.
    • Use the flashlight on your smart phone (or a regular flashlight) to look for retro-reflections from the camera lens. This is the cause of the red-eye in pictures.
    • Use an application to IP scan for on the networks (Fing is a free app)
    • Use an application to scan for magnetic fields or electromagnetic interference (several hidden camera apps are available ($2.99 to $4.99)
    • Perform an RF scan to detect a device send RF data. RF scanners are expensive ($150). This is probably overkill and not worth the expense.

The New Rules of Communicating in the Digital Era

  • Connecting with people has become so much easier with advancing technology.
  • Tasks that once required an operator, postage stamp or carrier pigeon are now as simple as tapping a name or even a face on your screen.
  • There are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of others who have taken to social media to express their detest for people who don’t follow the unwritten ground rules of digital communication.
  • Fifteen unwritten rules of communicating according to Twitter
  1. Don’t randomly FaceTime people. If you want to Facetime, send a text or call first.
  2. One word texts like OK and LOL are conversation killers. Don’t respond with one word, unless you don’t want to talk anymore.
  3. If someone you know comments on a photo or video you posted, you should respond.
  4. If someone communicates to you using a certain form of communication, e.g. e-mail, then you are expected to respond using the same form of communication.
  5. Do not like your own posts. People see that, and it makes you look weird.
  6. Do not ask for likes, comments or shares.
  7. Do not take hours to respond without an excuse.
  8. You do not actually have to leave a voice message.
  9. If someone asks you multiple questions via text, do not just reply to part of the message.
  10. Do not post dozens of photos of cheezy quotes back to back.
  11. It is OK to text Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, etc. You do not have to call.
  12. Do not have one-on-one’s in the group-chat, better yet, rarely send group chats. They are mostly annoying and usually avoidable.
  13. Try not to deliver bad news via text. Do not deliver bad news via DMs.
  14. If you don’t get a response, you don’t have to get angry. It’s not always that big of a deal.
  15. If you have time to post on Snapchat, you have time to respond to text messages.