Jan 11, 2017

Jan - 11 2017 | By

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


Both Glenn and Paul were in the studio today.


Paul is going for his 3rd dental implant. Dental implants are titanium posts attached to the jaw. Their price has come down a lot and have become pretty common. He learned that they can contain a serial number, which can serve as another kind dental record for identifying a body, if necessary.

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 talked a bit about the internet of things (IoT). There are probably more ‘things’ on the internet than computers such as…
heart monitoring implants
biochip transponders on farm animals
“electric clams” in coastal waters
autos with built-in sensors
DNA analysis devices for environmental food and pathogen monitoring
field operation devices that assist firefighters in search and rescue operations
River depth monitors are especially useful with all of the rains we’ve had lately. You can argue if this is true IoT because the data flows only in one direction. But electric sluice gates both monitor water flow and get commands back telling them to open or close.

A lot of things for the home that use infrared controls — garage door, a gate opener, TV remote, the door for your pet. There is an IoT thing called a broadband IR gateway, aka an IR blaster.

The equipment in your house can be reached by the internet in 2 ways.
1) A hole in the firewall. <He didn’t elaborate>
2) The IR blaster. When it’s connected to the network in your house, but not visible from the internet, a wireless signal is sent to the blaster <from your router I assume> and is converted to infrared which is then sensed by the various appliances that use infrared. The appliance then acts according the instructions it receives.

Paul then explained how an app on your phone can issue commands to an IoT device. He said that the IoT device logs into a server on the internet belonging to the company that made the device. The phone app also talks to the same server. <The app was made by the same company. The server mitigates the flow of data between the phone & IoT device>. You have to have some trust that the company will not gather unnecessary information about you.

Paul recently got a cloud server <a hard drive that’s accessed thru the internet, I assume>. It’s a 1 terabyte Western Digital domestic server (network access server). The $119 he paid is at the lower end of what you might expect for such a unit. This gives him storage accessible thru the internet as well as his local network. ‘My Cloud Live’ is an app that lets him access the server from anywhere on the internet. The server uses a virtual private network (VPN) to connect to the Western Digital company and the app connects to them too. Again, the server mitigates the flow of data, as in the previous description. Supposedly, nobody else can see the data when using a VPN, but Paul said you’re trusting those who designed the system.

There much discussion about how secure IoT devices are. “Because there are thousands of these devices, if you subvert one of them it can actually reach out and grab the other ones and form what you might call a gang of collaborative things”. Dyn DNSwas recently subverted by a bunch of IoT devices that were infected by malware.

Paul noted that the [control] board that’s used in the KVMR studio is actually a network device. Instead of running cables, everything is connected with Ethernet. But it’s not connected to the internet.

Glenn said that news provided by Yubanet discloses that as of 9:34am today, there’s no estimated time of restoration [of power] for 1,130 homes on San Juan Ridge. And there’s a bolder 1 mile north of North San Juan on Highway 49, which is closed between Nevada City and North San Juan — use Pleasant Valley Road as a detour. Also, Highway 49 in Sierra County from Yuba Pass to Satley is closed due to rocks and mud slides. <I mentioned only those things that may not have expired by now>.

There was some chit chat about driving in foul weather..
– How to clear fogged windows.
– Some cars always turn on headlights when you drive. Some cars warn you when you leave the lights on when you park the car.
– DMV’s attempt to outlaw high intensity headlights that use Xenon discharge tubes because of their blinding brightness.
– An old model car that had a device that sensed oncoming headlights and dimmed your lights automatically. Apparently there’s nothing like it now.
– Old cars that had a headlight dimming switch that you worked with your left foot. Glenn liked that better that having the switch on the steering wheel, as with modern cars.
– Perhaps most importantly, Glenn noted that when it’s raining, state law requires you turn on your headlights.

Paul mentioned new state laws. A couple of years ago it became illegal to make phone calls or text (txt) while holding your device. Paul has used a suction cup attachment to avoid holding his phone. But a new law makes it illegal to operate it with your hand, whether you’re holding it or not. If you have it mounted on your dash, you have to complete what you’re doing with no more than one finger push or swipe, Paul said. And he asked, is it that important that it can’t wait until you’re stopped?

Of course you can activate the voice control on your smartphone and then make calls. But Paul said that Siri doesn’t work as well in his car as outside because of the engine noise and other noises.

Glenn noted that the new law is much more strict and applies to distracted drive in general — putting on makeup, shaving, eating something etc. And a ticket is pretty expensive — $20 for the 1st offense but state, county and city fees are added to that and can total over $200.

Paul talked about a Bluetooth control that you can put on your steering wheel to control the radio. You can get one for $15 or $20 for a basic unit. He said that not all Bluetooth controls work with all radios. There is a standard being implemented but Paul couldn’t think of its name.

The disclaimer:
The views and opinions expressed on KVMR are those of the speaker only and not necessarily those of KVMR management, staff or underwriters.

Gary called for guidance on calculating the capacity of a UPS (uninterrupted power supply). Paul noted that a UPS does more that provide power, it’s also a powerline conditioner that cleans up the current spikes, brownouts, etc.
– Paul recently had to get a 1,000 VA (volt-amps) UPS for himself for $119.
– Paul suggested getting a power meter that can be plugged into a socket, something like a Killa.Watt. Plug it into a wall socket and plug your appliance into the meter.
– If it’s only for one computer you can get an inexpensive UPS rated at 250VA for about $40.
– The difference between watts and VA has to do with whether the appliance has an inductive load (has coils of wire, like a motor).
– A typical desktop computer has a VA of about 100 and you need to double that to get the suitable size for a UPS. So a 250VA unit would be good.
– The goal is to shut down your computer in an orderly way, preserving your work & data when the power goes out. Don’t expect the UPS to keep working as if nothing has happened.
– A cheap UPS will likely not be ‘smart’. A smart UPS runs software on the computer that watches the battery and triggers a series of shutdown signals and keeps the computer off. That will prevent the computer from coming on when power is briefly restored only to go out again.
– The 1000 VA unit Paul got can run 1000 watts for about 5 minutes, he said.

A UPS takes the direct current from its battery at a low voltage and steps it up to 110 volts alternating current. It synthesizes the sine wave with a stair-step of discrete changes so it’s not a smooth sine curve. A lot of computers don’t like that. They may refuse to boot up. And the most modern computers with PFC (power factor conversion) may have a problem <he didn’t elaborate>. So you may have to get a UPS that generates a very smooth sine wave and end up spending up to 4 times more than the cheap units.

When you use a UPS, the computer is constantly running on the current produced by the UPS, with the dirty sine wave. It doesn’t run on AC and then switch over to the UPS when the power goes out. So you can test whether the UPS is right for your computer just by plugging the computer into it. An additional test is to disconnect the AC line.

Paul said it’s wise to get a UPS that has more power than you need. And look for one that has warranty that pays for your computer in case it gets fried.

Donny called. He said the advantage of laptop is that it’s battery acts as a backup to the power supply. If the AC goes out you don’t lose your work.

He also said his AT&T router has been going out regularly — 3 or 4 times a day. He thought it might have something to do with the weather.
– Paul suspected power surges might have damaged it. It’s fairly inexpensive so just replace it.
– He has solar that kicks in when PG&E goes out and that may cause spikes in the current.

Last Updated 1:13 AM 1-12-2017

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