Show of 02-27-2021

Tech Talk February 27, 2021

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email form Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz, This isn’t a Tech Talk question. Since you’ve traveled to India on occasion, I thought you’d like to see this if you have time in your busy schedule – and if you haven’t seen it already. Looks like education & bright people coming from India are taking some high level positions people In the U.S. She makes some very good points! Interesting. Arnie in Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: Interesting perspective: India will prevail because of education. Look at Silicon Valley leaders: Sundar Pichai (CEO Alphabet), Satya Nadella (CEO Microsoft), Shantanu Naraye (CEO Adobe), Nikesh Arora (CEO Palo Alto Networks). The work force is developed through education. India has an open society (free of religion and democracy). India has easy access to the sea (not land locked like China). India is aligned with the West (investment moving from China to India).India is the largest English speaking country in Asia. A great video and right on target.
  • Email from Mary Ann in Oakton: Dear Tech Talk. Last week you explained how to recover saved passwords from a Chrome browser. I have a different problem. I use the Safari browser on my iPhone. Can I also recovery my saved passwords from Safari. Please help. Mary Ann in Oakton, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Safari is tightly integrated with the iPhone. You passwords can be found by going to Setting and scrolling down to Passwords. Scroll down to the website on interest and click on it. You will see your user name and password. Also an assessment if your password is weak or overused. Great question.
  • Email from Peter in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I just bought a new computer monitor. When I got it home, I realized that had not checked the input ports. It only has DVI input, not HDMI. Unfortunately, my computer only has HDMI output. I got a great deal. What are my options? I would hate to return the monitor. Peter in Fairfax, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: I have good news. There is a simple and very inexpensive way to connect any monitor with a DVI input to any computer that supports HDMI, but not DVI. Just purchase a HDMI to DVI adapter cable and you will be in business! You can get an HDMI to DVI cable for around $10 on Amazon. DVI (an older technology) does not include the audio channel. HDMI includes both audio and video. Fortunately, you do not need audio for a computer monitor.
  • Email from Ngoc in Cleveland: Dear Doc and Jim. A good friend of mine kept hounding me to “Like” her Facebook page. I finally did and now I am seeing posts she is putting up that I have no desire to see. Can I change a setting somewhere that will let me stop receiving the posts but still “Like” the page? Please help me. A long time podcast listener. Ngoc in Cleveland, OH.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Good news. It is possible to “Like” a page and then block its posts from your Newsfeed, and it’s actually very easy to do. Just follow the steps below. If you use Facebook in a web browser on a laptop or desktop computer:
    • Visit the Timeline of your friend’s Facebook page.
    • Click the three dots on the right side of the page’s menu bar to display the Options menu.
    • Click Follow Settings.
    • Click Unfollow this Page and then click the Update button.
  • The procedure is similar for a mobile device. From now on you’ll no longer receive posts from your friend’s Facebook page in your news feed even though you still “Like” the page.
  • Email from Diane in Pittsburg: Dear Tech Talk. The hard drive in my laptop has stopped working and I need to take it somewhere to have it fixed. I have a recent backup they can use to restore everything once the bad hard drive is replaced. What worries me is I have many personal photos that were backed up along with everything else. I believe I could restore the files from the backup myself, but I do not know how to replace the hard drive (or even how to choose a drive that will work with my laptop). I need to know if the computer repairman will be able to see my personal files. I do not have a password on my computer. Diane in Pittsburg, KS
  • Tech Talk Responds: The short answer to your question is yes. After the tech replaces the bad hard drive and restores all of your files, everything on the drive will be wide open to him, including your personal photos. The way I see it, you have two options:
    • Have the computer shop replace the hard drive for you, then take the laptop home and restore the files from the backup yourself. If you decide to go this route, make sure the tech returns your old hard drive to you because he/she could possibly retrieve data the bad drive.
    • Replace the hard drive yourself and then restore your files. That way you can save some cash and not have to worry about someone else possibly seeing your sensitive photos.
  • It is really quite easy to replace the hard drive in any laptop that has removable cover over the drive bay. Check your computer model number to get the correct replacement hard drive. You can buy a replacement hard drive at your local electronics retailer or from Amazon. Just be sure to buy a 2.5 inch laptop hard drive (or even better, an SSD) that’s at least as large (in terms of storage capacity) as the drive that’s in your laptop now and you’ll be all set.
  • Email from Betty in Joplin: Dear Doc and Jim. I am confused by the power settings on my laptop. If I want to conserve battery life, is it better to hibernate my laptop instead of putting it to sleep. The documentation is not too clear. Love the podcast. Betty in Joplin, MO
  • Tech Talk Responds: When you place a PC into sleep mode it goes into a low power state during which all of your open programs and data are kept “alive” in RAM. Hibernation on the other hand copies the contents of RAM (the current state of the system) onto the hard drive and completely shuts down the laptop. And when a laptop is shut down, it draws virtually no power from the battery. The only real downside of hibernation is it takes longer to boot up.
  • Depending on your PC’s power settings, you might find that the Hibernate option is currently disabled. You can enable it by Going to Setting/System/Power/Additional Setting. BTW, if you replace your laptop’s hard drive with an SSD you will be able to get back to work in seconds due to much faster boot times!


Profiles in IT: Gary Keith Starkweather

  • Gary Keith Starkweather was an American engineer and inventor most notable for the invention of the laser printer and color management.
  • Gary Keith Starkweather was born on Jan. 9, 1938, in Lansing, Mich., the only son of Richard and Crystal Starkweather. His father owned a local dairy; his mother was a homemaker.
  • Their home was near a junk shop, where Gary would bargain for old radios, washing machines and car parts that he could tinker with in the basement, taking them apart and then putting them back together.
  • Starkweather received a B.S. in physics from Michigan State University in 1960.
  • In 1961, he moved to Rochester so that he could join Bausch & Lomb, which at the time made lenses for eyeglasses, cameras, microscopes and other equipment.
  • In 1966, he received an M.S. in optics from the University of Rochester.
  • After Bausch & Long laid off several of his colleagues, they moved to Xerox, and he followed them.
  • Starkweather was working as a junior engineer in the offices of the Xerox Corporation in Rochester, N.Y.
  • In 1964, several years after the company had introduced the copier, he began working on a version that could transmit information between two distant copiers, so that a person could scan a document in one place and send a copy to another.
  • He decided that this could best be done with the precision of a laser, another recent invention, which can use amplified light to transfer images onto paper.
  • Then he had a better idea: Rather than sending grainy images of paper documents from place to place, what if he used the precision of a laser to print images straight from a computer?
  • Because his idea ventured away from the company’s core business, copiers, his boss hated it. At one point Mr. Starkweather was told that if he did not stop working on the project, his entire team would be laid off.
  • But he soon finagled a move to the company’s new research lab in Northern California, where a group of visionaries was developing what would become the most important digital technologies of the next three decades, including the personal computer as it is known today.
  • His move to PARC came after he read about the lab in the company’s newsletter. After visiting PARC in 1970, he phoned his wife in cold Rochester and asked how she felt about moving to sunny Palo Alto. Her response, he recalled, was, “I’ll have the furniture in the street by the time you get home.”
  • At the Palo Alto Research Center, or PARC, Mr. Starkweather built the first working laser printer in 1971 in less than nine months.
  • As he developed his printer, his new colleagues built a personal computer that could drive it: the Alto, a machine that eventually gave rise to the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows PCs.
  • By the mid-1970s, Mr. Starkweather’s printer could plug into an entire network of Altos, printing documents from across the lab at a rate of a page a second.
  • After the lab split into two buildings, he and a colleague built a system that could transmit print jobs across the street wirelessly. It was, in many ways, a blueprint for the office of today.
  • Starkweather also made major contributions to digital matte film techniques. He was a consultant on the digital effects team for the original Star Wars movie (1977).
  • In 1990, he moved to Apple Computer, where he invented color management technology, and led the development of Colorsync 1.0. In 1991 he was awarded the David Richardson Medal.
  • He won a technical Academy Award in 1994 for his pioneering work with Lucasfilm (and later, Pixar) in the field of color film scanning.
  • In 1997, Starkweather joined Microsoft Research, where he worked on display technology.
  • In 2004, he was elected to the United States National Academy of Engineering. He retired in 2005. Starkweather died on December 26, 2019 at the age of 81 of leukemia.

Observations from the Bunker

  • The best companies are not afraid to replace their most profitable products.
  • What is the secret that allows these incumbents to fend off the startups aiming to displace them? The answer is deceptively simple: embracing self-cannibalization.
  • There are four rules, which can help managers instill the principle in their day-to-day work, in order to make self-cannibalization successful in the long run.
  • Rule #1: Get into the habit of setting up new business units that compete with the old
  • The willingness to cannibalize a company’s existing business before its decline was also a major focus of Apple under Steve Jobs. In 2005, when the demand for the iPod Mini remained huge, the Nano was launched, effectively destroying the revenue stream of an existing product. And while iPod sales were still going through the roof, Jobs launched the iPhone which combined iPod, cell phone, and Internet access into a single device.
  • Rule #2: Find a balance between derivative products, platform upgrades, and breakthrough innovation
  • Self-cannibalization occurs at different levels. It can mean both replacing existing products and platforms with incrementally better ones and replacing them with something completely different. Most companies find the latter more challenging, but the best companies pursue both.
  • Rule #3: Create a bypass mechanism to pitch ideas to the top
  • Game-changing ideas can easily be filtered out as business proposals move up the corporate ladder. To counter-balance this tendency, some companies host idea pitch days when operating managers can showcase unconventional proposals to senior executives directly, bypassing the management hierarchy entirely.
  • Rule #4: Create a corporate goal with a percent of revenue earmarked to new products
  • 3M is famous for employing the thirty percent rule, with 30% of each division’s revenue coming from products introduced in the last four years. Adding such a metric makes it easier to follow Rule 1, since a culture that encourages new products will be more likely to consider cannibalizing its own successes.

Border Agents Can Search Phones Freely Under New Circuit Court Ruling

  • A U.S. appeals court has ruled that Customs and Border Protection agents can conduct in-depth searches of phones and laptops, overturning an earlier legal victory for civil liberties groups.
  • First Circuit Judge Sandra Lynch declared that both basic and “advanced” searches, which include reviewing and copying data without a warrant, fall within “permissible constitutional grounds” at the American border.
  • Lynch ruled against a group of US citizens and residents objecting to invasive searches of their electronic devices.
  • The group includes Sidd Bikkannavar, a NASA scientist who was detained and pressured to unlock a secure government-issued phone. Most of the incidents date to 2017, when then-President Donald Trump pushed for tighter border security alongside travel bans and other restrictions.

Australia to Make Google and Facebook Pay for News

  • Australia’s law forcing Google and Facebook to pay for news is ready to take effect, though the laws’ architect said it will take time for the digital giants to strike media deals.
  • The Australian Parliament passed the News Media Bargaining Code agreed between Australia and Facebook.
  • In return for the changes, Facebook agreed to lift a ban on Australians accessing and sharing news.
  • The legislation would address the market imbalance between Australian news publishers and Facebook and Google.
  • Google and Facebook need media, but they don’t need any particular media company, and that meant media companies couldn’t do commercial deals.
  • Google has already struck deals with major Australian news businesses in recent weeks including News Corp. and Seven West Media.

Maryland to Tax Online Ads

  • Maryland is the first state to impose a tax on the sale of online ads.
  • The House of Delegates and Senate both voted this week to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill passed last year to levy a tax on online ads.
  • The tax will apply to the revenue companies like Facebook and Google make from selling digital ads, and will range from 2.5% to 10% per ad, depending on the value of the company selling the ad.
  • The tax would only apply to companies making more than $100 million a year.
  • Proponents say the new tax is simply a reflection of where the economy has gone, and an attempt to have Maryland’s tax code catch up to it.
  • The tax is expected to draw in an estimated $250 million a year to help fund an ambitious decade-long overhaul of public education in the state that’s expected to cost $4 billion a year in new spending by 2030.
  • Hogan also vetoed that bill, and the Democrat-led General Assembly also overrode him this week.
  • Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh warned last year that “there is some risk” that a court could strike down some provisions of the bill over constitutional concerns.

Illness of the Week: Zoom Fatigue

  • According to Stanford researchers, Zoom fatigue is real.
  • All those hours of video calls take a toll on your body and brain that regular office work does not. Now scientists say they know why.
  • Researchers say Zoom fatigue comes down to four primary causes:
    • excessive and intense eye contact,
    • constantly watching video of yourself,
    • the limited mobility of being stuck at your desk and
    • energy spent identifying social cues remotely.
  • The research goes on to address each of those areas and offer strategies to counterbalance them, like turning off the video of yourself and positioning your desk so you have more room to stretch and move around.

Zoom Trick of the Week

  • An eight year old found a way to skip her Zoom classes.
  • Every morning her Zoom logon would fail.
  • Her parents, tech support, or teachers could not solve the problem.
  • This login failure continued for over a week until her father investigated
  • Her father caught her logging on twenty time with the wrong password to lock her Zoom account each morning.
  • The gig was up, but still it was a very clever trick.


Feud of the Titans: Apple vs Facebook

  • Facebook and Apple, are in a bitter fight that centers on the iPhone data of millions of people and whether companies should be able to track that data as easily as they do now.
  • In the coming weeks, Apple will update its iOS software for iPhones to require apps to get explicit consent to track what people are doing on their phones for the purposes of sharing it with third parties.
  • According to Apple, the average app has at least six trackers that are discreetly harvesting user data.
  • Starting sometime early this spring, Apple will require apps to send a push alert where people can either choose to “ask app not to track” or “allow.”
  • Facebook says Apple is attempting to push free apps, which often sweep data up and feed it to advertisers, to move to subscription models.
  • Facebook has launched a website and taken out full-page advertisements in newspapers, in addition to a recent TV and radio ad push, to put a spotlight on how many small business owners depend on targeted ads.