Show of 02-19-2022

Tech Talk

February 19, 2022

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Karen in Virginia Beach: Dear Doc and Andrew. I tried to send a PDF file to the production company to produce a booklet. The PDF file was rejected because fonts were not embedded. I created the document with MS Word and saved the file as a PDF. How can I embed the fonts into this file? Thanks. Karen in Virginia Beach, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Microsoft Word does not embed fonts into either Docx or PDF files by default. This keeps the files smaller. If you print the file from the computer that created them, there is no need to embed the fonts. However, if you send them to another computer for printing, embedding the fonts ensures that your printed document will format correctly. You can embed fonts by simply adjusting the print settings.
  • In the case of PDF files, click on Save As within MS Word.. Select file type to be PDF. Click on the Settings button. Click on the option for ISO 19005-1 (PDF/A). Click Save. Your fonts are now embedded in the PDF.
  • In the case of the Docx files, click on Save As within MS Word. Select file type to be Word documents (Docx). Click on the Tools drop down button on the bottom. Check the line, Embed fonts in the file. Uncheck the line, Do not embed common system fonts. Click Save. Your fonts are now embedded in the Docx.
  • BTW, Word will remember the print settings and continue to use them.
  • Email from Dennis in Maryland: Dear Tech Talk. I do not like to be tracked while I am on the Internet. How can I hide my IP address while surfing the web? Dennis in Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: Your IP address is like your public ID on the internet. Any time you do anything on the internet, your IP address lets servers know where to send back information you have requested. Many sites log these addresses, effectively spying on you, usually to deliver you more personalized ads to get you to spend more money.
  • One of the big reasons that people hide their IP addresses is so that they can download illegal material without being tracked. One reason is geographic restrictions and censorship. Some content is blocked by the government in certain areas, such as in China and the Middle East. The other reason to hide your IP address is simply for more privacy and to prevent misuse of your personal information.
  • The two primary ways to hide your IP address is to use a virtual private network (VPN). This is an encrypted data stream through a proxy server. When you browse the web while connected to a VPN, your computer contacts the website through the encrypted VPN connection. The VPN forwards the request for you and forwards the response from the website back through the secure connection. If you’re using a USA-based VPN to access Netflix, Netflix will see your connection as coming from within the USA. I recommend a paid VPN service (Express VPN or Nord VPN). Installing a VPN is as simple as heading to the signup page, downloading the client app onto your device. Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, and Android are all supported.
  • If you are really worried, use a TOR router (the onion router). It routes your traffic through three random sites on the TOR network. Link: https://www.torproject.org/
  • Email from Peter in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I recently started a new job and the IT folks said I can connect my personal laptop to their network but only if it has something called Secure Boot enabled? Can you tell me what that is and how to check to see if its enabled? If it matters my laptop has Windows 10 on it. Peter in Fairfax, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Secure Boot is a setting in your PC’s BIOS/UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) firmware settings that basically instructs the machine to boot only if Windows and its related boot software is trusted by the computer’s manufacturer.
  • The purpose of Secure Boot is to prevent a rootkit or other type of malicious software from infecting and taking over the machine before it even has a chance to boot up into Windows.
  • It very easy to check to see if Secure Boot is enabled on your Windows 10 laptop. Just follow the steps below:
    • Click the Start button and then type msinfo.
    • Press the Enter key. You should now see the System Information page displayed on the screen.
    • In the right-hand pane, find the line labeled Bios Mode and check to make sure it says UEFI. It probably will since the machine is running Windows 10.
    • Also in the right-hand pane, find the line labeled Secure Boot State and check its status. If it says On then Secure Boot is enabled on your laptop. If it says Off then it isn’t.
  • If Secure Boot is not selected, you can open the computer in BIOS set mode and easily make the changes. You can get to the Bios settings by clicking the gear icon on the Start menu. …
    • Select Update & Security. …
    • Select Recovery from the left menu. …
    • Click Restart Now under Advanced startup. …
    • Click Troubleshoot.
    • Click Advanced options.
    • Select UEFI Firmware Settings. …
    • Click Restart.
  • Email from Craig in Oakton. Dear Tech Talk. I have a laptop that is provided by my employer for business use. I have a question about also using it at home for personal use. I’m allowed to take the laptop home every night, and I’m wondering if using Chrome in “Incognito Mode” will prevent the guys in IT from finding out which websites I visit? The higher-ups in the company (and my direct boss) are all of a different political persuasion that I am and they would be very upset if they knew about some of the websites I visit. I just don’t want to get into trouble over something like this. Thanks in advance for you answer. Craig in Oakton
  • Tech Talk Responds: Incognito Mode will prevent the browser from storing your browsing history, but since this is a company laptop there is a very good chance that your company’s IT department has installed software on it that tracks your every move while using that PC.
  • What’s more, even when used in “Incognito” mode your machine will still store bits and pieces of data that can be used by a security pro to figure out (more or less) what you’ve been doing with the laptop. My advice would be to refrain from using your company laptop to visit any unauthorized websites.
  • Also, make sure that you avoid any websites or activities that could possibly result in the laptop becoming infected with a virus or some other form of malware.
  • Most companies take the security of their IT assets very seriously, and it isn’t at all uncommon for employees to get fired if the company believes they have misused company property in any way.
  • Email from Bob in Maryland: Dear Doc and Andrew. Today I read about a couple of mysterious failures of the internet in Europe, caused in one case by a father trying to make sure his kids got some sleep, and in the other by an old TV set. The father, who used a signal jammer to reign in his children’s’ Internet use managed to wipe out an entire town’s connectivity by mistake. The second outage was caused by an individual who was turning on an old, secondhand television set at that time every day. The TV was sending out electrical bursts capable of disrupting signals. What do you think, Doc? All the best, your faithful listener, Bob in Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: Both of these examples show how vulnerable our system is to intentional jamming. This same vulnerability is in space too, with our satellite. Signal jamming will become a common feature of modern warfare.
  • In the first case, the father has purchased a multi-band jammer to prevent his teenage children from going online at night without permission. It is illegal to sell or to buy such jammers (without a permit) in most countries, including the United States. That being said, I can buy a cellular jamming on the Internet for around $200. A jammer simply emits a noisy signal in the signal band of the device that you wish to jam. I the case of the TV, a spark gap was probably generating broadband noise that covered the cellular bands.
  • The only approved application for jammers in indoors (like theaters). In that case the signal level of the jammer is adjusted so that it does not travel very far.


Profiles in IT: David Baszucki

  • David Baszucki is a entrepreneur and engineer best known as the co-founder and CEO of Roblox Corporation.
  • Baszucki was born on January 20, 1963, in Canada.
  • He attended Eden Prairie High School in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, where he was the captain of his high school TV quiz team.
  • In 2003, he hosted his own talk radio show for KSCO Radio Santa Cruz.
  • In 1985, Baszuck received a BS in Engineering and Computer Science from Stanford University. He had been accepted in to the General Motors Scholar program.
  • In the late 1980s, Baszucki, together with his brother Greg, developed a simulation called Interactive Physics, which enabled the creation of 2D physics experiments.
  • In 1989, David Baszucki, founded the company `Knowledge Revolution,’ along with his brother. It allowed users to create physics experiments of their own.
  • In the early 1990s, they also designed the mechanical software design named `Working Model.’ It could provide a virtual set of mechanical components, such as springs, ropes, and motors, which could be used to create basic physics simulations.
  • In 1998, ‘Knowledge Revolution’ was acquired by ‘MSC Software,’ a company based in California. Baszucki was named the vice president and general manager of ‘MSC Software’ from 2000 to 2002. He eventually left the company to establish his own angel investment firm, ‘Baszucki and Associates.’
  • In 2004, that he began working on ‘DynoBlocks,’ which was an early prototype of ‘Roblox.’ After being renamed Roblox, the website was eventually launched in 2006.
  • The name Roblox, a portmanteau of robots and blocks.
  • Roblox provided users a platform to design their own games and play the ones made by other users. Roblox was inspired by the success of his earlier ventures, such as `Interactive Physics’ and `Working Model.’
  • Roblox allows players to create their own games using its proprietary engine, Roblox Studio, which can then be played by other users.
  • Games are coded under an object-oriented programming system utilizing a dialect of the programming language Lua to manipulate the environment of the game.
  • Roblox users create their own virtual worlds and design their own avatars and games within the platform. After registration and email verification, the new user then selects and customizes a virtual character that is used as his or her identity.
  • Each user can request their own pieces of virtual real estate on which they can build houses, cars, machines, roller coasters, or anything else with building blocks and code; these places are called “games”. Developers keep 18% of the revenue.
  • Users are able to create purchasable content through one-time purchases, known as “game passes”, as well as micro transactions for user generated products.
  • In April 2016, Roblox launched Roblox VR for Oculus Rift. At the time of release, more than ten million games were available in 3D
  • The majority of games produced using Roblox Studio are developed by minors, and a total of 20 million games a year are produced using it.
  • Roblox began to grow rapidly in the second half of the 2010s, and this growth has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Roblox is free-to-play, with in-game purchases available through a virtual currency called “Robux”.
  • As of August 2020, Roblox had over 164 million monthly active users, with it being played by over half of all children aged under 16 in the United States.
  • Roblox also launched a new digital civility initiative on January 15, 2019. It aimed at empowering children, teenagers, parents, and caregivers with the skills to create a positive online experience.
  • Baszucki owns a roughly 13% stake in the Roblox Corporation, the company that owns Roblox, a stake estimated to be worth roughly $4.2 billion.
  • In March 2021, after Roblox’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange, Baszucki and his wife launched the Baszucki Group, a philanthropic organization.
  • Baszucki received Goldman Sachs 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs in 2017 and 2018.
  • He loves off-road biking. It helps him unwind and think clearly.
  • Baszucki lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Jan Ellison, and their four children.

Observations from the Faculty Lounge

  • Roblox CEO Dave Baszucki wants to inhabit the metaverse — an online place where we work and play and entertain ourselves.
  • He has dreamed about it for a long time, and he has so many followers now that Roblox will likely be one of the most credible candidates for building the metaverse.
  • His metaverse must contain eight elements: Identity, Friends, Immersive, Low Friction, Variety, Anywhere, Economy, Civility
  • Roblox has 43 million people who come back daily to play on the platform. Baszucki is a big fan of getting his own users to do the work.
  • People do everything from playing traditional games, to social experiences that are more around hanging out and just being together.
  • A lot of people used Roblox as a way to stay connected, whether it’s trying to have a birthday party or graduate from high school.
  • His metaverse will be realistic with real laws of physics. He even has a helicopter that pushed against the air.
  • His has the best set of primitives for his environments. He has the most developers ready for the challenge.
  • Most importantly, he seeks to create a civil online environment where people with different views can converse respectfully. He is determined to make the metaverse a positive experience.

Mark’s Metaverse Update

  • Since being rolled out to users in the U.S. and Canada, Meta’s social VR platform for the Quest headset, Horizon Worlds, has grown its monthly user base by a factor of 10x to 300,000 people.
  • Before its December rollout, Horizon Worlds was in a private beta for creators to test its world-building tools.
  • Similarly to how the gaming platform Roblox or Microsoft’s Minecraft works, Horizon Worlds lets people build custom environments to hang out and play games in as legless avatars.
  • Meta announced this week that 10,000 separate worlds have been built in Horizon Worlds to date, and its private Facebook group for creators now numbers over 20,000 members.
  • Meta still hasn’t disclosed how many Quest headsets it has sold to date, which makes it hard to gauge Horizon’s success relative to the underlying hardware platform it runs on.
  • Bringing Horizon to mobile would position it as even more of a competitor to Rec Room, a well-funded, social gaming app with 37 million monthly users across gaming consoles, mobile phones, and VR.

AirTag Stalking is Still a Problem

  • Apple’s AirTags are small keyring-sized discs that you can attach to your bag or keys to help find them if they go missing. This useful technology is ripe for abuse.
  • Though AirTags were introduced by Apple in 2020, the technology isn’t a new innovation. A company called Tile released small battery-powered tracking devices called “tiles” in 2015 which used the same basic premise.
  • You can use your iPhone to detect an AirTag at a distance of around 100 meters (or 300 ft) thanks to the use of ultra-wideband Bluetooth and Apple’s U1 chip on newer smartphones.
  • Each AirTag can be detected by other iPhones running iOS 14.5 or later, sending the owner an update of where the item was last seen when it comes into range.
  • Since AirTags piggyback the existing network of iPhones, they are far more useful than Tile’s implementation of the same concept.
  • Since AirTags are small, they can easily be slipped inside of a bag or a pocket.
  • AirTags have a speaker on-board that allows the owner to emit a sound. If the tracker is away from its owner for a set amount of time (8 to 24 hours), it will chirp repeatedly until it is found or disabled. The user also receives an “AirTag Found Moving With You” message, if an AirTag they do not own is tracking them.
  • A model in New York had an AirTag slipped into her coat pocket which tracked her movements for five hours before she noticed an alert on her iPhone. Another woman was tracked from a theater to her home where she noticed an unknown vehicle parked outside after receiving the alert.
  • There are emerging reports of car thieves also using AirTags to track vehicles, both for stalking purposes and car theft. They conceal an AirTag somewhere on the vehicle (like a wheel well) and then trace its location.