Dec 28, 2016

Dec - 28 2016 | By

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For a couple of months, the audio of today’s show is here. Recent shows are here.


Both Paul and Glenn were in the studio today.


Glenn thanked the listeners and supporters of KVMR. If you’d like to become a supporting member, you can call the KVMR office at 530-265-9073. If you’d like to talk to the guys during a Zen Tech show, call 530-265-9555 or send email to zen at kvmr dot org.

Paul was impressed by a device being used at a hospital where he was with a friend who was getting some blood drawn from her hand. It’s a hand-held device 6″ to 9″ long weighing about 9 oz. It has an infrared camera that scans the hand looking for temperature differences. It then projects an image back onto the hand showing black tracks where the veins are.

The device was made with off-the-shelf components — the infrared camera, a digital signal processor and a red LED with a lens on it. A Google search revealed that the device costs $6000.

Paul said a little know fact is that at the US patent office you can download most patents. You can copy the patent without violating the law, as long as you don’t make money from it. He noted that some people will get a patent and release it to the public. Jonas Salk did that with his polio vaccine and Tim Berners Lee with HTML (the structure for webpages).

Glenn reminded us that he was in the hospital about a year ago and had a device similar to what Paul talked about. But this one had a screen and was able to show the depth of his veins. They were looking for a vein because he had to be rehydrated. He said he’s back to normal now.

Paul wanted to find the vein-scanning device on Ebay. He found something advertised for $27 that looked like the right thing but was completely different. He used search terms that included the actual name of the manufacturer but still got steered to something different. He said to beware of such tricks that sellers use.

Paul said he enjoyed watching a documentary from Netflix called ‘Minimalists’ about a couple of guys with well-paid jobs who wanted for nothing. Apparently documentary had something to do with wanting things just to have them.

Paul briefly talked about Microsoft’s Surface. 8 to 10 years ago Microsoft had a project called the Surface Operating System. It was to work with different surfaces — kitchen table, office desk — to make it a “conscious surface”. If you put something on the surface, the operating system would recognize it.

Quite often technology consists of great solution in search of problems we didn’t know we had, Paul said. An example is the laser. When it was invented back in the 60s it didn’t seem to have many uses. Now, they’re used in many things including surgery where it both cuts and cauterizes the flesh.

Paul said there was a remarkable advance in cancer surgery. Someone thought of combining a laser knife and a gas chromatograph. Smoke from the burning flesh is fed into the chromatograph, which then analyzes it and tells the surgeon how the job is progressing. The inventor indicated he will patent it but then release it to the public for the greater good.

Paul talked a bit about magical thinking, which, to paraphrase, is assuming causal relationships. People have tendency to make connections between events that have nothing to do with each other. If you get a phone call about your aunt dying as you’re about to change a tire, you’re slightly more circumspect about changing a tires.

He thought females are less prone to magical thinking than guys when it comes to trouble shooting. Guys tend to “pre-fix” the problem by unjustifiably speculating about its cause. Paul said he sometimes has to catch himself at magical thinking when he would “assume I know what’s wrong because of what it looks like, not because of what it is”.

An example is when people assume they have a computer virus when their mouse pointer seems to move by itself on the screen. Changing the pointer’s position puts a surprising load on the system when it’s doing something else — the pointer has to be redrawn thousands of times to show movement. When the system finally is free to attend to the pointer, it seems to move by itself. A similar situation can occur when you’re typing into a document. You hit a bunch of keys and nothing happens, and a bit later the letters suddenly appear.

Glenn said he helped a friend who had a Windows 10 laptop with a problem by installing Kubuntu. He said the Linux operating system is bulletproof from virus. Paul interjected saying the virus problems are vanishingly small.

Glenn warned listeners, as he’s done before, not to open email from an unknown source. And if you do, don’t click on any links in the email. The links can take you to malicious places. You can end up on a site that looks authentic but is totally bogus. Paul said it can be hard to tell from the URL in the address bar if you’re on a legitimate website. For instance, you may think you’re on the Paypal site but the link may be something like If you need to go to Paypal, use a link that’s worked for you before <from your bookmarks or personal notes>, don’t use the link in the email.

Also, Glenn said bogus email tends to be addressed “dear customer” instead of your name. Paul added that Mac users tend to be more careless than PC users because they think their platform is secure. There is no security from clicking on a bad link.

Saxon called from Fair Oaks. A while back he called about offline storage for his photographs. Paul suggested a solid state drive that plugs into his USB port. Using that along with Lightroom, his photos come off the camera and onto the drive. He said that’s been working great. He paid $65 for a 1 terabyte Segate SSD. The guys were incredulous about such a low price — one can expect to pay that for a spinning drive, not a SSD. They asked Saxon to send them a link to it.

He also has 4-year old 15″ Mac Book Pro and asked what he might do for routine maintenance. Paul said he can try the utility called Drivedx to check the integrity of the hard drive. He highly recommends it. It comes with a 15-day trial. It probably won’t work on drives connected to the USB, just SATA or M2 interface.

Another tip is to run “drive utils”. But, Paul recently worked with a Mac that had a problem when dragging a folder across the desktop, it would slow it to a crawl. He eventually found that the home directory folder had the wrong permissions. “Disk utilities” could not fix it.

Also, Saxon has a 4-year old iPhone full of data. He had trouble regaining some space so he did an erase and restore and it freed up some space. Additionally, Paul suggested emptying the cache of the Safari browser. Paul said he’s never been able to find an app that cleans out cached data. On Android there’s Clean Sweep. Paul asked listeners if they’ve found such an app for iPhone. Paul did a quick search and found an app called Phone Clean, but wasn’t sure what it’s all about.
<I couldn’t find Clean Sweep but I see some people refer to CleanMaster as Clean Sweep. I suspect that’s what he meant, since he’s mentioned it before>

Paul noted that one shouldn’t depend on iCloud to backup everything. It backs up a lot of the important stuff but not everything. Glenn said using iTunes to do the backup to your computer is the way to go.

Paul said the Mac OS and IOS are quite orderly and prevent people from getting at its guts, frustrating people who like to take control of things like the “library”, which stores the profiles.

The guys warned listeners who use H2O Wireless, which uses AT&T network but is cheaper. They perform monthly billing by sending out a text message. Glenn got a text message from them promoting a two-for-one bundle. It had the link (missing an ‘s’). The email was indeed from H2O but someone there missed the ‘s’. Then, one of its subscribers noticed this and registered the domain So a mistake at H2O led to someone exploiting it by creating a bogus website.

John called. He has a Mac desktop computer on which he installed the Sierra operating system. It slowed down a lot and he can’t figure out why. He couldn’t get Apple tech support to resolve the problem.
– Turn off Siri. Go to Preferences and uncheck the box that says ‘use Siri’.

Paul related a quick anecdote. He was in a restaurant with a friend and they wanted to know the origin of the phrase “something’s rotten in the state of Denmark”. His friend used Siri and got the correct answer. When Paul used his iPhone and asked Siri the same question, Siri replied “Sorry?”.

Last Updated 12:13 AM 12-29-2016