Jan 24, 2018

Jan - 24 2018 | By

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


The intro & outro music was by Pentatonix.


NOTE: There is another Zen Tech show scheduled next Wednesday, 1-31-18


Both Paul and Glenn were in the studio today


Paul alerted listeners to below freezing temperatures coming probably tomorrow to the local area. <There was likely something about it in the Calendar segment, which I didn’t listen to.>

Paul thought that midwinter day is Feb 4. The equinox & solstice are the beginning & end of a season, he went on to say. The midwinter point is between the equinox & solstice — 6 weeks in from the beginning of winter and 6 weeks before the beginning of spring. It’s for astronomical reasons that 6 weeks after the “longest day” (around Dec 21) we experience our coldest temperatures, he said. <I guess he meant the longest night — the Winter solstice. More about this in the 11-8-17 show notes.>

The Romans disliked this time of the year so much that they made February the shortest month just to get it over with, he quipped.

We forget what it’s like to drive on icy & wet roads and need to be reminded to be careful, he cautioned. Paul thinks weather warnings and forecasts have become more undependable. Glenn seemed to concur and thought a change in weather modeling might be to blame.

While playing the Pentatonix intro music, Paul noted that there is a change in volume about 15 sec from the start. In the KVMR studio they have to compensate for this. The free software they use is called Audacity.

In Audacity it’s the ‘normalizing’ function that’s used. <But see below.> They highlight the whole waveform and go to ‘tools’ -> ‘normalize’. That will bring the highest & lowest volume levels closer together.

Glenn reminded listeners that they can call in with their questions & comments: 530-265-9555.

Paul doesn’t like to upgrade just for the sake of upgrading. It seems to cause “stuff” not to work like it used to, as in the case of iTunes. He doesn’t like the changes made to iTunes and has turned sour on the program.

A local lady with a Mac of 2011 or 2012 vintage, which came with Mac OS 10.6, got a warning that she can no longer use Dropbox, an internet based file storage/sharing site, with out upgrading the Dropbox software. But the new software wouldn’t install because her operating system (10.6) was too old. Hence a need to upgrade the operating system first.

The latest OS version is 10.13 (High Sierra) but you can’t go directly from 10.6 to 10.13. If you have 10.7 or 10.8 you can do it. Click at the top and it gives you the choice to upgrade to High Sierra. <Be careful to check that your older software will run on 10.13 before upgrading.>

So, if you have 10.6 you have to upgrade to 10.7 or 10.8 first. Open the App Store, which is present in 10.6 and do a search for OS 10.8. Paul seemed to say that sometimes you may not be permitted to install it and it will usually tell you why. The good news is that all versions since 10.6 or 10.7 are essentially free. The other thing you can do is a Google search for: upgrade 10.6 to 10.13. But Apple will sometimes change the procedure, so the information you find may be out of date.

Paul thought that Glenn had something to say about his Mac Mini. He thought it was something intriguing, apart from the fact that later versions of the Mini can’t have their memory upgraded. Glenn had trouble remembering, too. Then he brought up the problems he was having synching his Mac Mini, iPad and iPhone. iCloud is supposed to be smart enough to do that, but not in Glenn’s case. Glenn decided to leave iCloud and do his backups to the Mini instead. Paul said doing this gives you more control and is faster than sending data over the internet.

Around the time that Sierra (10.12) came out for the Mac, a feature called iCloud Drive was added to iCloud. It lets you synch your desktop & documents out to the cloud. If you turn that feature on, “the usage of your iCloud will go thru the roof” and you could get a warning that you’re running out of space, Paul said. Also, it will take forever copying out stuff from your desktop and your documents folders” to iCloud. And surprisingly, your documents folder will appear empty, but don’t panic. In its place it will give you iCloud access under a folder called ‘All Files’.

In his case, when Paul tried to turn off iCloud Drive he got the message “if you turn off iCloud, all copies of your documents will be removed from this machine”. It also said “would you like to download a copy before you disconnect iCloud?” The problem with that is you may have 100 gigs or more of data that’s been stored in the cloud and it would take long time to download. The lesson seems to be to think these things out before you accept a service like iCloud Drive.

If you choose to retrieve your files, iCloud will take it’s own sweet time to send them episodically. You can check the progress by going to Finder (on the left) and clicking the animated clockwork dial. It’s his personal feeling that it’s not worth using iCloud Drive. You’re better off using Google Drive or maybe even Dropbox where you have more control and file transfers go at full speed.

Bruce called. He has the older iMac Light with OS 10.6.8. It is a 32bit machine and he’s heard that it can’t be upgraded beyond OS 10.6.8, is it true? Paul said that is true. About 10 years ago Apple went from Power PC to the Intel chip. In 2007 they went to the Intel Core Duo. Later they started using Core 2 Duo, which can take an upgrade to a later version of the OS. The simple thing is to just try the upgrade and it will tell you if it can’t be done.

Also, Bruce recently acquired an iPad and wanted to know if there’s a way to browse the file structure. Paul said there is a way to see some of the file, but Apple doesn’t want you doing it. Paul found the app called Iexplorer to help you. But he said it’s a disappointing experience — you can’t “get to the guts of it”, only the first few layers. If you back up the iPad to a Mac, you can then browse some of the files but a lot of them are encrypted or useless.

Bruce would like to save some critical configuration files that he might want to restore later. Paul said there would be problems doing that because the Apple device keeps tight control and will defeat your efforts of moving files around.

Bruce related his experience with the normalize function in Audacity, talked about earlier. He said other than removing the DC offset, it proportionally increases everything up to about 100% from the maximum that you set it to, but it doesn’t level highs and lows, as Paul implied above. Instead, if you have a burst of loud sound, highlight that part of the audio and then use the ‘amplify’ function to reduce it.

Kay called. A friend of hers wants to make a portfolio using the program Word Writer. She doesn’t know what type of computer the friend is using, possibly a Mac. Paul looked up Word Writer and came up with many products by that name. He also found zoho.com/writer that allows you to do word processing online. <There are others, like Google Docs> Kay asked about making slides and Paul suggested she use, and may already have, Powerpoint, if she’s using a PC or Pages on the Mac.

Don called. He wondered of anyone had run Meltdown exploit code on their own machines. He’s done it on his machine that has a Pentium 4 processor (2005 vintage) and had a very low success rate (the exploit failed most of the time 1/200 to 1/2000). On a more recent Intel i5 CPU it was successful every time. He speculated that it’s because a level 3 processor cache is more exploitable. <There’s much more about Meltdown and Spectre in the 1-10-18 show notes.>

He gave a link to the software he used. It will check if your computer is vulnerable and see how well the patches you install are protecting it. Don’s understanding is that the AMD processor is not vulnerable to Meltdown, only to Spectre. Paul warned us not to use this exploit program on a work computer (it may be illegal) and be wary of doing it on your home computer.
<I think this is the software Don used>

Don said he only uses the Pentium machine for surfing the internet, not his newer machine. Paul said the internet doesn’t require much horsepower, even very old computers will work fine and be more secure running Linux.

Last Updated 12:14 AM 1-25-2018

– They’re tagged with #Zentech./p