Â TECH TALK
Best of Tech Talk Edition
- Segments taken from previous shows.
Email and Forum Questions
- Email from Joey in Ashburn, VA:Â Dear Tech Talk. I am hoping you can provide some guidance. We have a Western Digital hard drive that failed. We got a new drive and attempted to clone it, but we could not get it to work. Do you have a recommendation of where we should send it to retrieve the information?Â We have pictures also stored on it.Â Joey in Ashburn, VA
- Tech Talk Responds: Did it completely fail or just fail to boot up? If it simply failed to boot up, you could put it in a USB disk enclosure and try to copy all the pics to another drive. Failure to boot could be caused by corruption of the boot sector or Windows executables.
- All hard drive manufacturers have released a free hard drive diagnostic tool. You can downloard the Western Digital Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows Media program fromÂ https://support.wdc.com/downloads.aspx?p=3
- Download and install the program. Choose to Run As Administrator. You will see the following options: Quick Test, Extended Test, Erase, and View Test Results.
- If the failure is caused by an error in the Printed Circuit Board (PCB), your only option is to replace the PCB. You can find companies that sell replacement PCBs for nearly all hard drives. You will have to put the ROM in the damaged PCB into the new PCB. The ROM contains the hard drive calibration data. Without the old ROM, the new PCB will not work. It will think that the hard drive needs formatting.
- If you are uneasy about working on your hard drive, you can send it to a data recovery firm. They are expensive, but know what they are doing. They can recover data from almost any hard drive.
- Kroll-OnTrack is an excellent data recovery firm. We have used them in the past for commercial data recovery but they offer personal data recovery as well. I know they have a location in Reston but of course, they accept drives that are mailed into them as well. They will analyze the drive and provide a report with the likelihood of recovery so you can make a decision regarding moving forward with their service. Link to their website:Â https://www.ontrack.com/
- One final note. You need to maintain a backup going forward. You can use a cloud backup service like Carbonite (which is what I use for my laptop) or you can backup to an external USB hard drive (they are very cheap). You can either backup just your files (pictures, documents, etc.) or do a complete disk image (which is supported by Windows 10 natively). Pick one and use it. Best of luck with your data recovery.
- Email from Stu in Kilmarnock, VA:Â Dear Tech Talk. I have several email accounts and would like to find a way to view all the unread mail for all of them in one directory. Is there a simple way to accomplish this feat? I am currently running Windows 10 on my laptop. I check email from my work (Exchange), Gmail, Yahoo, and AOL (legacy Verizon account). What are my best options? Stu in Kilmarnock, VA
- Tech Talk Responds: You can use the Outlook mail client on your laptop. A significant advantage of using Outlook on your computer is you can have multiple email accounts in one place. It can handle multiple accounts from multiple providers, including Microsoft, Gmail, Yahoo!, and pretty much any others you can think of.
- If you want to add email accounts to Outlook, we walk you through the process here. After you have all your accounts set up, you can manage all of them in Outlook. Letâ€™s take a look at how you do this. Open up the Mail app on your computer. Click on Accounts, then Click on Add Account. The Mail Client will automatically configure your email accounts as you add. You may have a problem with the AOL account. You will need to go to advanced configuration and set the incoming and outgoing mail servers. Just search for AOL mail servers using Google.
- Because the Inbox is one of the core email folders, you canâ€™t rename it. Instead, Outlook automatically adds the name of the email account to the Inbox folder in the Favorites section, so you know which is which.
- Outlook does not provide an option to view all emails in the same folder. This is because each mailbox is a synced copy of one on a server your provider manages. However, you can click the search box at the top of the main window in the mail view and change the location to â€œAll mailboxes.â€ When you choose this option, you can search for something in all mailboxes, including emails, tasks, calendar appointments, attachments, or anything else in Outlook.
- Email from Tom in Pittsburgh, PA:Â Dear Tech Talk. I have a touchpad on my Windows 10 laptop. It is very annoying because I keep moving the cursor inadvertently. Is there any way I can disable this device I have been trying to find a switch, but cannot locate anything. Please help. Tom in Pittsburgh, PA
- Tech Talk Responds: Many laptops have shortcuts to disable the touchpad. However, they vary by laptop. The easiest way is to simply disable the device d river. Type Device Manager in the search field in the lower left had corner. Click on Device Manager; Click on Mice and other Pointing Devices; Right click on Touchpad; Click on Disable Device. You done. You can enable it at any time by simply going back to the device manager.
- Email from Ron in Seattle Washington:Â Dear Doc and Jim. I have heard that running two anti-virus programs at once is not a good idea. It seems that it would be safer. What is your recommendation? Ron in Seattle.
- Tech Talk Responds: There are two types anti-malware programs:
- Full-Time / Always Running â€“Antivirus programs such as AVG, Avast and others run continuously in the background, protecting your PC from threats on an ongoing basis. It is essential to have ONE of these programs running at all times if you use your computer to connect to the Internet.
- On Demand â€“These anti-malware programs should be run periodically as a â€œbackupâ€ scanner to catch any nefarious code that might have slipped through the cracks in your regular full-time antivirus program (and they ALL have cracks).
- The most popular on demand anti-malware program (and one I strongly recommend) is the free version of Malwarebytes.
- Whenever two antivirus programs run at the same time they tend to fight one another, reducing your overall protection against viruses and other malware by a large margin. ONE good full-time antivirus program will do a better job at protecting your PC from malware than any two of them combined. My recommendation is to pick ONE high quality full-time antivirus program and go with it (Avast is a good choice), then run the free version of Malwarebytes about once a week to catch and remove anything that might have slipped in through the cracks.
- When you download the free version of Avast the installer will actually install a 14 day free trial version of the full-blown Malwarebytes Premium program, which runs full time to offer real-time protection. After the trial period has elapsed the trial version will automatically revert to the free version unless you pay for the upgrade.
- That means during the 14 day trial period Malwarebytes will be running full time. It is easy to turn Malwarebytes real-time protection off.
- Email from Mike in Maryland:Â Hello Class room of the Airways. As a Senior Citizen, and having health concerns. I want my family members to be able to know where I am at any giving time. Using my cellphone is probably the best device. Can you please tell us what you think is the best top 3 phone tracker apps. I am looking for a free app, but what is the advantage of me paying for the service? Thanks, Mike from Maryland.
- Tech Talk Responds: You have several options, so long as you have your phone:
- Family Location on iPhonetracks you using your iCloud credentials. Not automated. Go to Settings; Click on Name; Click on Family Location Sharing: Share my Location
- FollowMee GPS Trackerconverts your iPhone or iPad into a GPS tracking device. Installing this app to the device that you want to track, you can monitor its whereabouts on the FollowMee.com web site. You can view last known location for free. Geofencing, location reporting, location sharing, and other tracking services are available on the web site. It has an SOS Panic Button. The basic service is $5.99/month.
- Phone Tracker for iPhoneis used to locate another Smartphone user that may be your family members, friends etc. Locate iPhone user and check its movement, check movement for last 24 hour. Can track 2 iPhones for free, you can locate friends from it.
- Motorola said such first-generation products primarily suit early adopters who need to be first on the block.
- New iPhones will not support 5G. Apple typically waits for technology to mature before adopting it.
- And 5G phones cost a few hundred dollars more. The price gap is expected to narrow and eventually disappear as 5G becomes a standard feature.
- 5G coverage is limited to certain neighborhoods in a handful of cities. Full coverage will not be until 2021.
- Similar all-in-one 5G phones should be fairly common by next year.
- If you can squeeze another year or two out of your current phone, there will be plenty of 5G phones to choose from by the time you are ready to upgrade.
Profiles in IT: George Charles Devol, Jr
- George Charles Devol Jr. was an American inventor known for developing Unimate, the first material handling robot employed in industrial production work.
- George Devol was born February 20, 1912 in Louisville, Kentucky.
- Devol was interested from boyhood in all things electrical and mechanical.
- He attended Riordan Prep, in addition to studying traditional subjects, he helped construct some buildings and ran the schoolâ€™s electric light plant.
- Although he wasnâ€™t very scholarly, he could figure out how things worked easily.
- Graduating from high school in 1932, he started forming United Cinephone to record directly onto film for the new sound motion pictures (â€œtalkiesâ€).
- After learning that others were working in the same area, he pivoted.
- He invented the first photoelectric door, a bar code system for sorting packages at the Railway Express, the first optical registration control for color offset printing, and automated photoelectric people counters for the Worldâ€™s Fair.
- When World War II began, Devol United Cinephone so he could help with the war.
- He was hired by Sperry to develop radar devices and microwave test equipment.
- In 1943, he was hired by Auto Ordinance in to produce counter-radar devices. The companyâ€™s radar counter-measure systems were on allied planes on D-Day.
- Devol was part of the team that developed the first commercial use of microwave ovens, the Speedy Weeny, which automatically cooked and dispensed hotdogs.
- In 1946 he applied for a patent on a magnetic recording system for controlling machines and a digital playback device for machines,
- In 1954, Devol applied and received the patent for Programmed Article Transfer that introduced the concept of Universal Automation or Unimation (termed Unimate).
- Devol patented the device, without a single prior citation. He he teamed up with Joseph F. Engelberger, who convinced Consolidated Diesel Electronic to back development of the robot. This new division was called Unimation.
- Unimation designed and machined practically every part in the first Unimates.
- The first Unimate robot was installed at GM to lift hot pieces of metal from a die-
- Approximately $5 million was spent to develop the first Unimate. In 1966, full-scale production began. The first production robot was a materials handling robot and was soon followed by robots for welding and other applications.
- In 1975, Unimation showed its first profit. In 1978, the PUMA (Programmable Universal Machine for Assembly) robot was developed with support from GM.
- Devol later obtained patents on visual and tactile sensors for robots, coaxial connectors, non-refillable containers, and magnetostrictive manipulators.
- Elected to honorary member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (1985)
- Devol was Inducted into the National Inventorâ€™s Hall of Fame in 2011 and is a member of the Automation Hall of Fame
Amazon Sidewalk: A New Wireless Standard
- At Amazonâ€™s annual hardware event, the company revealed a new wireless standard for the Internet of Things and smarthome devices called Sidewalk.
- Sidewalk is a new wireless standard that Amazon hopes smarthome and other IoT devices will use to communicate instead of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 5G, and the many additional standards out there. The problem with existing standards is a question of range, complexity, and power usage.
- Most of the current wireless standards do not broadcast far and are typically confined to your home. Amazon says Sidewalk solves these problems. By relying on low bandwidth 900 MHz spectrum, it has longer range and better building penetration than Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. In addition, Sidewalk forms mesh networks to extend that distance. The 900 MHz also benefits from lower power usage and less complexity from a cellular standard like 5G.
- Amazon promises the standard will use relatively low power (measured in years of battery life), yet at the same time, the network will have a much wider rangeâ€”up to half a mile. The company is accomplishing this by repurposing unlicensed spectrum, 900 MHz.
- You may have already used a device that communicated with the 900 MHz spectrumâ€”cordless phones. Amateur radios, like walkie-talkies all use 900 MHz.
- Amazon Sidewalk devices will form a mesh network, which in turn extends their range even further. The company already sent out test devices to employees and with just 700 nodes, the Sidewalk network covered most of the Los Angeles Basin area.
- At its hardware devices event, the company showed an upcoming pet tracker called Fetch. It looks a lot like a key fob and attaches to your petâ€™s collar. When the tracker leaves the predefined geofenced area, you get a notification. In theory, you could track your pet as it encounters other userâ€™s Sidewalk devices.
- Amazon says it will release an SDK (software development kit) next year and theoretically, any manufacturer could include a 900 MHz radio to its product and use the SDK to add Sidewalk compatibility.
David Burd Drops By
- Host Emeritus David Burd visits Tech Talk for our final show at the WFED Studios in Northwest Washington before 1500 AMâ€™s move to new facilities in Friendship Heights, Maryland. Dave, Rick and Jim reminisce about 20 years of Tech Talk on the air in the Nationâ€™s Capital.