Nov 9, 2011

Oct - 12 2011 | By

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Both Glenn & Paul were in the studio today.

Glenn brought in a MagicJack unit and the guys spent some time talking about different options for a phone service. <Wikipedia article here.>

The MagicJack is $39.95 and you can get it at retailers, or online where shipping charges may apply.
– Their service includes 1-year free unlimited domestic, U.S. & Canada, long distance and cheap international calling.
– But you do have to plug it into your computer and the computer has to remain on to make & receive calls. In addition, the computer has to be running Windows.
|- Ongoing subscriptions are $20 per year.
– "You can port your own number to it". Glenn said he'll be doing that, as he seems to like it the unit.

What Glenn actually has is a MagicJack Plus (for $69.95 initial and $40/year ongoing and an optional 5 year prepaid plan that's even cheaper per year). This unit doesn't require a computer to plug in to. Instead, it can plug directly into an Ethernet port on a router. Glenn has yet to figure out how to get all of the phones in his house connected to the MagicJack — maybe disconnecting the incoming AT&T line at the outside box and connecting an unused wall plug to the MagicJack.

Glenn's MagicJack comes with voice mail, caller ID, call waiting and call forwarding. If you prepay for international calling, calls to many countries are about 2 cents per minute.

Paul noted that in some countries cell phone customers are charged for incoming calls at a premium rate and he avoids calling cell phone numbers in such cases.

Paul went on to say that Skype is another alternative for a phone service. It uses VOIP or voice over internet protocol. He also said ooma.com has a device similar to the MagicJack. It's a decentralized peer-to-peer network similar to Skype in the way it connects. He said it's surprisingly good and asked listeners who've used it for their opinions. Glenn said Ooma costs about $200 and there are no further charges.

Talking about Skype, Paul said that the individual packets travel by different routes (they're reassembled at the destination) and they are, he thinks, encrypted, so it's nearly impossible for the NSA or FBI to snoop on users. The origin and destination of the calls, however, are easily discovered.
<Here are articles concerning privacy with Skype & BitTorrent:
Researchers uncover privacy flaws that can reveal users' identities, locations and digital files.
New MS Office, Skype Could Spy on User Conversations
Researcher claims dangerous vulnerability in Skype>

Glenn said people without a MagicJack can make free calls to someone who has one by using an online VOIP service.

Charlie called in. He had been using Gmail while letting his computer fill in the password during login, but he eventually forgot the password. Now the computer has stopped filling in the password, so now he's stuck. <I've noticed this myself on some sites, and I think it sometimes happens when the login page gets changed so much that the browser no longer associates a password with it — I guess>.
– He's using the Firefox browser and there is a way to look at the passwords that it stores. Go to Tools -> Options -> Security -> Passwords. You'll then see an option to make Firefox display the password along with the website & user name information.
– You can also go to Gmail and click on the button that says something like "I lost my password", He said he tried that but he didn't have an alternate email where an new password can be sent. It's a good idea to provide an alternate email and challenge questions when you sign up for a service.
– It's not likely Gmail (Google) will be able to help him if he calls them directly.
– Keep entering possible passwords even though it may while. After about 3 attempts they may require you to respond to a captcha at each attempt.

Paul suggested a method for creating an easily remembered password. Pick a phrase that's meaningful to you and use the fist letter of each word in that phrase for the password. E.g. using the phrase "I can fly" would yield the password: icf. <It's usually recommended to choose a password several characters long and to add some symbols (! # $ etc) or numbers>
<Password tips mentioned in shows for Aug 23, 2010, Jul 27, 2011 and Jun 8, 2011>
<Password managers mentioned in show for Dec 15, 2008>

There are web sites & browser extensions that store passwords for you and some store other info, for instance, to fill in forms. Roboform was mentioned.

Rick called with a suggestion for remembering passwords. He said he writes all of his confidential information on cards and stores them in a safe place at home. He also uses just the first couple of letters of a word that's meaningful to him and depends his memory for the rest of the word. He then said not to use passwords that are personally relevant to you but are also commonly known to people you associate with or are otherwise easily discovered — spouse's name, your phone number, etc.

Rick also said he's been dissuaded from using Facebook because it's easy to share too much with too many people.
– Sign up using a pseudonym and a fake profile (age, location, etc).
– Paul said advertisers can indeed end up with your information from Facebook.
– You can set up Facebook so only your Facebook friends but NOT friends of friends will see your posts.
– Stick to email to keep your communications private instead of posting to Facebook.
– Even when using email don't click on links in an email if it's not from someone you know.
– And be aware that the email account of someone you know may be compromised. It's best to check with them before you click on any links in email form them.
– Email from a bank asking you to click on a link to fix some problem is likely to be a phishing attack. Call the bank (using their number from a directory) to confirm — don't click such links.

Michael called. He wanted to know if he could listen to this show in the Bay Area.
– Yes, KVMR is broadcast on the internet. You can hear a .mp3 stream at the "Listen Live" link on KVMR's front page.
<Podcasts of past KVMR shows are here.>

Michael went on to ask about the reaction of the technology sector to the Occupy movement. He was wondering if the new media (the internet) will follow the old media (print & broadcast) with unfavorable views of the Occupy movement. <Paul seemed to interpret his question to be whether the movement's message can be censored>
– The internet was developed for the military to be robust.
– Such attempts are subject to failure. Paul mentioned the Streisand Effect — "attention is drawn to something the moment you do try to shut it down".
– And remember, it's because of technology that word of the Occupy movement spread.
– Paul's view is that the internet is just a tool for communication and is essentially neutral.

The disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on this show are those of the speakers only and not necessarily those of the station or its board, its management, the staff, the contributors or the animals that belong to the people concerned.

Yvonne called. She uses AT&T DSL on a LAN and it & keeps going out for her and 2 others.
– Paul said some modems, from AT&T, were bad — they would occasionally reboot. In that case the modem's red light goes on indicating a reboot. That's not true in her case.
– Call AT&T…She's done that and they attempt to service her connection, but the problem comes back.
– Talk to AT&T asking them to check their service records so they know the problem has not gone away.
– Check your contract for the minimum level of service to expect. You may be due to not only reimbursement, but also compensation for the lost service.

Lily called saying some keys on her laptop are not working — she has to push hard. She's tried to blow out and also vacuum the keyboard but that hasn't helped.
– Paul's guess is that the electrical contacts have failed.
– Paul found out that she has a Dell Inspiron 1545 and said that those 4-digit series of Dell Inspirons had this problem in common.
– Check Ebay for a used keyboard. Paul had recently replaced a friend's keyboard for only $8.
– You can try to find a Youtube video showing how to change the keyboard. You just have to pop the top panel off, undo 2 screws and a connector — that's it.
– Also, first be sure it's not under warranty.

Last updated: 10:16 PM 11/11/2011