Aug 13, 2014

Jul - 30 2014 | By

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Paul was in the studio. Glenn called in from San Francisco.

Glenn called while on BART. The connection was dropped a couple of times during the show and the audio was poor.

Podcast of recent Zentech show are here.


When this show started some 15 years ago, the majority of people had desktop computers and a minority had laptops. That statistic eventually reversed. And then, roughly a few years ago, mobile phones and, more recently, tablets took the lead.

Now, you can find all sort apps for the mobiles. One of them is MonkeyParking. Developed by an Italian company, it allows you to publicize a parking spot you're about to vacate so others can bid for that information and thereby more easily acquire the parking place. <Alternately, of course, you can use the app if you're the one looking for a parking spot>. MonkeyParking uses the GPS chip in the phone to determine the location of the parking spot.
<Looks like MonkeyParking is only for the iPhone>

There has been controversy about the app. San Francisco claims it's illegal because it's selling a parking place. Apple has been cautious and pulled the app from its store, as far as Paul could tell. He speculated that other apps would take its place.

The other app he mentioned was Airbnb, which allows people to easily rent out a spare room and such. The problem with it is that municipalities like to charge tax on these types of transactions, which is not easy to do with Airbnb because it's essentially a private transaction. As on Ebay, Airbnb rates, thru feedback, the reputation of both the buyer and seller. Paul had a good experience using the app during a trip to Mexico.
<mobile devices can download here.>

Marilyn called. She uses Outlook 2002 for email and one of her mail services would only allow her to receive but not send email. She uses AT&T as her internet provider and for the mail service. She paid $50 to get AT&T to solve the problem but now she periodically gets the message: "The server you are connected to is using a security certificate that could not be verified. The certificate CN name does not match the past value. Do you want to continue using this server?" She wanted to ask Paul what it means before she goes back to AT&T tech support.
– The warning did not say what the name was that did not match.
– Paul has low opinion of Outlook. He expects such a program to provide the needed info in its warnings: the 'name' in this case.
– CN stands for Certificate Name, Certificates are issued to the exact name of the place where the webpage (or mail service) resides. Certificates certify the authenticity of whom you are connecting to.
– AccessBee may not have a certificate. Or the setting in Outlook may be using the wrong name for the mail server.
– She's already answered yes to the "do you want to continue" question but worried she may be circumventing some protection. Paul thought that probably it's OK.
– Certificates are being used more now than ever — more sites are using the https:// in their URL. They were never used for mail, until recently.
– Sites are implementing encryption (https) even though the chance of intercepting the information is relatively low. <This due in part to recent revelations of government spying.>
– If you ignore the certificate warning you could be connecting to some place that's impersonating the site you think you're connecting to. In the end, "I wouldn't worry about it too much", Paul said.
– Marilyn said AT&T determined the correct settings for AccessBee, requiring that the check box for using a 'secure server' be unchecked for incoming mail but checked for outgoing mail.
– Paul gets a bit concerned about using software more than a few years old. He suggest Marilyn get a newer version of Outlook, if she must use Outlook at all. He said don't use anything newer that 2011 because it depends on Office 365. <I think Office 365 works in conjunction with a Microsoft cloud server>

Marilyn mentioned that she's using Windows XP and Paul warned her…
– Do not use the Internet Explorer browser.
– Don't use Microsoft Security Essentials. Use some other anti-virus program.

Paul gave some quick tips in diagnosing the cause of problems…
– Odds are high it's the internet
– If it's not the internet it may be a virus, especially if you're using Windows.
– Your children…<may be messing with your computer>

Glenn finally called in, while on a BART train in the East Bay. Paul thought cellular signals work in some BART tunnels, even under the bay. Glenn confirmed that they do.

Glenn uses Pure Talk for his phone service. Pure Talk uses the AT&T infrastructure. He pays month to month — no contract. It used to be $43.95 a month but is now $40.95. The price change was due to competition, Glenn assumed. He pays for it online with a credit card. He thought they don't take payments by mail. He said that the younger generation uses lot of data might not like Pure Talk. His account has a data cap of 1gig, but the voice and text (txt) are unlimited. He doesn't need more data because he uses wi-fi a lot.

Glenn's connection dropped out and we heard distortion that Paul said was caused by the cell service trying to compress the data. When there are less and less data packets <when the cell tower doesn't receive a good signal> it "substitutes little bursts of noise". He remembered when cell phones used analog rather than digital. Analog meant the radio frequencies were modulated by the audio (voice).
– Analog was eventually replaced by digital because it used too much bandwidth.
– Analog tended to have better range because it didn't compress the signal. You might get some noise during the call, but you still could get intelligible audio. <Similar to analog TVs, which were better at receiving weak signals>

Paul noted that cellular (phone) communications also use certificates for validation. Certification is different than encryption, he said.

Paul said he tried to establish a Google Hangout for today's show but failed. One of these weeks we'll actually succeed, he said.

Glenn was on BART because he was going back to where he parked his car to pay for parking, which he initially forgot to do. That got Paul talking about how London handles traffic congestion around the city. You can prepay for your trip into the city using your car's registration. Then when you enter a zone where there is toll, cameras recognize your license plate and they deduct the fee from your prepayment. If you didn't prepay you are sent a huge ticket.

Paul talked a bit about recognition software. He mentioned that Dragon Naturally Speaking works remarkably well. It takes words spoken into a microphone and converts it to text. It works on mobile devices as well as desktops.

He said there's OCR (optical character recognition) that takes a scanned image of words and converts it to text. Some of these programs will take the scan of a grid of numbers and convert it to a spreadsheet.

Then there's the Leafsnap app. You take a picture of a leaf and it gets sent off to a server that recognizes it and tells you what plant it came.
<Looks like it's only for iPhone>
<Similar programs for Android:
(NOTE: I can't vouch for these programs nor do I claim they are safe to use)>

The guys talked a bit more about MonkeyParking. It's not illegal to have the app but if you're caught using it you may be in trouble, It's like years ago when CB radios were illegal in England but it wasn't illegal to sell them — just to use them.

Along the same thought, two of the proprietors of Pirate Bay, a peer-to-peer network, are in jail not because of copyright infringement but because of a type of conspiracy call 'facilitating copyright infringement'. You can read more about what's happening at the top of their page.

John in Citrus Heights called. He wondered if Paul's warning about not using Microsoft Security Essentials applied only to those using Windows XP.
– It's not being updated for XP.
– It's not recommended for anyone. It's effectiveness has gotten so bad it no longer qualifies to be on the list of those who rate anti-virus programs. It's only about 75% secure.
– Remember, no anti-virus is 100% effective.

added link to podcasts
added disclaimer for the Android apps

Last updated 9:15 PM 8/14/2014