Dec 10, 2014

Nov - 26 2014 | By

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Podcasts of some Zentech shows are here.

Both Glenn & Paul were in the studio for today's show

Next Zentech shows are on the 24th & 31st of Dec. There may be changes and I'll tweet them out if I'm notified in time.

 

The show started with talk about small tags that can be attached to items like keys so you can easily find them. Glenn thought that batteries powering these tags can be problematic. <Adding bulk to the tag and limiting the time you have to find the object, I guess>

Paul said that they do require batteries. The one he found at thetileapp.com, which started as a Kickstarter project, is white, about 1 square inch, and uses Bluetooth. Bluetooth allows it to communicate with a mobile device like a cell phone. You can then use a phone with Bluetooth to make the tag emit a sound, making it easy to locate.

iCloud can be used to locate an iPhone. The iPhone will submit it's location to iCloud and, when you login to iCloud, it will show you the phone's location on a map. You can then do a number of things.
– If the battery on the phone has run out, you can see, on the map, its last location before the battery quit.
– If the battery still has juice, iCloud will tell you how much battery life is left.
– If you've lost the phone and it's nearby, you can make it beep so can locate it. It will override the mute setting.
– You can send a text message to the phone, even if the screen is locked. So, if you left it at a friend's house, they will still get the message.
– If it's been stolen, you can delete all of the data on it remotely.
– You can send it a command to lock it. And you can change the lock code.

A similar service is available for Android phones. On both types of phone, the GPS location service has to be turned on.

Paul said he's not heard of law enforcement using the GPS location information as evidence to convict anyone. He said you can always argue that just because the phone's location is known that doesn't mean you were there using it.

Nick called. He had more info concerning what the police know about where your cell phone is. He had been perusing the county website and had been reading police dispatcher notices. He found that the police have access to a service, which gives the location of cell phones. <The location of the phones that call the police, I assume>.

Paul tried to remember the name of the service. It has a mysterious name, something like E9. It lets emergency dispatchers locate the caller using cell tower triangulation. It's not especially accurate, like GPS. But it can locate phones that don't even have GPS, like the flip phones, reasonably well. So, be aware that you (your phone) can still be found, even if you turn off your GPS location services.

If you don't want to be found by your phone, wrap it in tin foil or place it in a can or a wire mesh bag — a Faraday cage.

William called. He wants to replace his Toshiba laptop and wondered how hard it would be to replace or downgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 7.

– Glenn said it could be a challenge and might not even be possible if the machine has the newer BIOS. And you would lose and bonus software that came with the new Windows 8 machine. <I think he was talking about UEFI OR Unified Extensible Firmware Interface BIOS>
– If you're going to downgrade, consider having a professional do it.
– Considering the cost, you could be better off buying a machine that comes with Windows 7.
– If you get a Windows 8 machine, you can try software from classicshell.net. That will make Win8 seem more like Windows 7.
<More about UEFI on the 3-13-13 show>

William also had a question about web cameras when he's shopping for a machine. He sometimes sees that a webcam is listed in the specs for a computer, and sometimes not. He wondered how careful he has to be to insure the camera is included.
– It's uncommon for a laptop not to have a webcam. Paul said. Glenn said he doesn't know of a machine that doesn't come with one. Just because it doesn't say it has one doesn't mean it doesn't.
– Contact the seller and ask if it has a camera.

Next, William asked about how much RAM is adequate. He sees many laptops are coming with 4gigs but some people say they're happy to have gone with 8gig.
– Glenn thought 4gigs is plenty.
– Keep your options open by buying a machine that can be upgraded with more memory.

Finally, he asked about solid state memory (SSD). <This is a hard drive that uses a chip instead of spinning platters.> A lot of machines are coming with SSDs now.
– A 128gig SSD is more than enough for most people if they're not going to store a lot of photos, movies or music. This is becoming more the case as cloud storage (storage on the internet) is being used more. Paul has put much of his music collection online and uses Google Play to pull down a subset of it thru a playlist.
– If you get a machine with a SSD you won't be able to replace the SSD with a conventional hard drive — not enough room inside.
– SSDs are very expensive if should later want to upgrade it to a larger size.
– SSDs have no moving parts and transfer data very fast.
– SSDs do 'go wrong'. When they go wrong, they do so completely and without warning — no noises or bad sectors.
– There are hybrid drives — a smaller SSD and a large platter hard drive combined. They are a compromise between speed; storage capacity and price. But they won't fit a laptop meant to take only an SSD
– If you have (or bought) a laptop with a conventional platter hard drive, you should be able to replace the drive with a hybrid drive.

Glenn mentioned the HP Stream laptop that's selling for $199. It comes with a modest size SSD, 1 year of Microsoft Office 365 and 1 year of 1 terabyte of cloud storage. He said the trend is to have software programs like Microsoft Office and Photoshop run in the cloud and charge the user 'rent' to use them.

James called to suggest that those who use a Faraday cage test its effectiveness. He said to put the phone in the cage (or tin foil) and then try calling it. If it rings, the cage is not adequate.

James also said that he's used the "locate my iPad function" with his cell phone and he was shown a satellite map of his house with the cross hairs at a spot that was within about 3 feet of it's actual location. Paul said the function is executed a few times and an average is taken to improve the accuracy.

Pam called. She has a Windows 8.1 laptop that her daughter bought for her. She had been using dialup internet on her old XP machine but it's extremely slow on the Win8 machine. She had been doing updates for Win8 using wi-fi when she came into town an thought they all finished. Paul determined the setting for her updates was wrong. There are 3 settings 1) Automatic updates 2) Download the updates but ask me before installing 3) Don't download updates, I'll do it manually. She had option 2 set and there were still more updates being sent to her. That's what was slowing it down when she was on dialup. He said to use option 3 until she gets back to a wi-fi hotspot, and only then do the updates. Paul suggested she set her anti-virus software to manual update, too. Anti-virus programs try to update frequently.

Pam also asked about accelerators to speed up her connection when she's on dialup. Paul said he's seen a review of these services, they do work but they're not worth the trouble. The accelerators compress the data before sending it to you and decompress when you receive it. <I've used an accelerator provided by basicisp.net along with their service and it more than doubled the throughput on non-binary data — general web pages but not things like .zip files or music>

Paul recalled that there's a program that monitors the data coming to you and displays the speed as a graph. He thought it's called Netstat.
<This MIGHT be the program Paul mentioned. It's called NetStat Live: (I can't vouch for this program. I know nothing about the company):
Download it from this page:

I also found NetWorx Free bandwidth monitoring and usage reporting (again, I can't vouch for it).

There is also the netstat command line program that comes with XP. Here's some documentation:

Here are some tweaks you can use to improve performance for both dialup & DSL (Probably more than you want to know):

Pam mentioned she uses Yahoo. Paul suggested she use the Yahoo version meant for mobile devices m.yahoo.com. This should bypass a lot of the graphics and advertising and will speed things up.

Janet called. She has an expired Flash player on her Mac Air and has tried to update the player. At the end it tells her to close the following programs: Safari and Google Chrome. She's tried clicking on the 'X' thinking that would close the program. But Glenn pointed out that closes only the window, not the program. He said go to the File option at the top and then click on Exit or Close. Paul said a different way to do it is to use the keys Option + AppleKey + Escape. That will give a list of the running programs that you can then kill.

Paul said most of the virus invasions now days are coming thru the Flash player. Flash is being updated frequently and you'll often see a notification that the player needs to be updated — ignore that, Paul said. Do not rely on websites or emails that tell you to update. Do a Google search for Plugin Check and use that to check all your plugins for updates.

The disclaimer (paraphrased):
The views and opinions expressed on this show are those of the speakers only and not necessarily those of KVMR, its board, management, staff, contributors, or broadcasters. Furthermore, we provide information and suggestions but are not recommending anything.

Ross called to clarify which version of Plugin Check Paul was talking about. Paul said it's the one at mozilla.com/en-us/plugincheck. He said it works with browsers other than Firefox but wasn't sure which ones.

Ross said his Silverlight plugin is updated but Plugin Check keeps saying it needs to be updated.
– Note the name of the plugin and then do Google search for: download Silverlight. Then go to Microsoft site to download it. Sometimes doing the update directly from the Plugin Check screen is faulty.
– Get the latest Mac operating system your computer can take. Ross has been using 10.68. That will insure you'll be allowed to get the latest Silverlight update.

Ross was concerned that the latest Mac operating system will use up a lot more of his hard drive space. Paul said it shouldn't use up much more space and is worth it.

Last Update 11:32 PM 12/10/2014