Jan 31, 2018

Jan - 31 2018 | By

A lost dog noticeā€¦
A male Queensland Heeler named Orion last seen in the Dobbins and Challenge area without a collar. If you have info, call Adam at 530-675-9403



Notifications of new show notes and edits are tweeted at: twitter.com/ddhart.
– They’re tagged with #Zentech.
– When what’s said is unclear to me (or I’m unfamiliar with a topic) I tend to quote (” “) verbatim.
– Editor’s comments are delimited by < >

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

The intro & outro music was by Pentatonix.


Paul was in the studio today. Glenn called in.


At the start, KVMR’s program director Steve Baker talked with Pascal of yubanet.com about horrific auto accident on highway 20.

A tow truck and a fuel tanker had a head-on collision near the junction of highway 20 and I80. At the time of this announcement, highway 20 was closed between Nevada City and the junction, except for citizens of Cascade Shores & the town of Washington. There’s no estimated time when the highway will reopen. Pascal speculated that it will be closed overnight. You can get updates at yubanet.com.

Paul thought the technology that went into the making of the Pentatonix video showcased their talent well and paraphrased a quote by saying ‘the best technology is indistinguishable from magic’. He pointed listeners to wikiquote.com for the source of his quotes.

Glenn invited listeners to write with their questions and comments to zen at kvmr dot org

The guys commented about the weather. Glenn said that, unlike last year, there hasn’t been as much precipitation and that we may have an early spring.

Paul shared with us the source for the news he reads. In the US there’s therecord.com and from the UK it’s therecord.co.uk <this doesn’t go anywhere, maybe he meant the Daily Record, I dunno.> Both sites are run by the same people. He said the UK site gives Eurocentric news and the US site gives tongue-in-cheek and unusual tech news.

Looking back at the show notes from last week, Paul continued talking about the Meltdown & Spectre flaws. He said that there has been patch by Microsoft to disable a previous patch for the problem, when it was determined that it caused some machines running Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 to reboot unexpectedly.

Paul said he’s seen the rebooting problem affecting a couple of his clients. He had to be quick on the keyboard to get into safe mode on those machines. And even then, there was a problem because the faulty patch expressed itself, even in safe mode. “You have to get to the point where it says go back to last known good configuration,” he said. He didn’t go into details.

Don’t worry too much about it, Paul said. Just be cautious of popup windows <in your browser> telling you something like ‘click here to fix your problem,’ much of the time they’re bogus.
<Though mentioned during the last show (1-24-18), there’s much more about Meltdown and Spectre in the 1-10-18 show notes.>

On 1-22-18 Intel told customers not to install one of the security updates that it had issued, as the patch was causing even more problems. He didn’t elaborate.

Paul noted that the Mac operating system had name change. It used to be OSX and is now called Apple OS. He said he religiously does the recommended Apple updates and recently updated to version 10.13.3 of High Sierra. He then noticed that 2 smaller fixes were issued, but they didn’t change the version number. It’s the first time he’s seen that happen. Everything seems to be working ok.

When Apple sends out Mac updates, not everybody gets them at once, that would be a strain on Apple’s servers. Doing updates this way also makes it easier to catch and correct a bad update.

Paul said software goes thru different stages of rollout — alpha release, beta release and release candidates (RC1, RC2…). Microsoft no longer releases service packs for their Windows 10. They want to make Windows 10 the last Windows operating system. But what goes on under the hood is a different story. There have been “2 or 3 very substantial rollouts of large chunks of software which performed an under-the-hood upgrade.” He compared it to taking out the engine and giving you a new engine, while you weren’t looking.

The Sep 2017 rollout of the Windows 10 Creator’s Edition caused some people to suffer from machines that “blacked out, continually rebooted or didn’t go anywhere”. Paul speculated that a fix for the Intel bug was part of Creator’s Edition and that it caused the problem.

Paul pointed out that these days it’s far easier to find information and easier to go wrong. Right and wrong are concepts that can vary in meaning. There’s wrong reasoning, wrong information and wrong outcomes. You can get to the right conclusion with the wrong reasoning, it happens in science. You can argue in a faulty way, which are fallacies in logic, in order to convince other people.

On Facebook, people can be convinced of the truth of some news depending on whether they like it or not. I think what Paul was getting at is don’t be quickly swayed by emotions, things that are true have a way of sticking around.

Paul talked about an elderly friend who tried to find the Geek Squad, the tech team from Best Buy, on Google. He called the number he thought belonged to them and they seemed to pass themselves off convincingly. He ended up sending them $700 for subscription for technical service. Bottom line is being careful about search results. Scammers have ways to get their ads placed high in the search results. Be careful what personal information you provide when you’re not absolutely sure they are legit. Be aware that calling an 800 number will reveal your phone number even if you have number blocking.

Glenn said Marilyn wrote in asking about which security protocol she should choose for her internet router. She asked about WEP, WPA and WPA2. Paul said these protocols are used when you connect to wireless networks. They encrypt user name, password and the data that is sent/received between the computer and a router.

The oldest is WEP (Wired Equivalency Protocol). It would use a key that came from a limited set of characters — 1 thru 9 and a,b,c,d. It’s generally not used anymore.

Then came the more secure WPA (Wifi Protected Access) and later WPA2. Paul suggested using WPA2. Go into your router and set it to use WPA2, at least. Also get the latest firmware upgrade for your router.

WEP is insecure and the data that is transferred between computer and router can be spied on. The data that travels between your router and a website can’t be looked at to any degree of usefulness because it is encrypted. <I think he meant to say that this is true if the URL in the address bar begins with https:, not http:> If you’re visiting your bank, a hacker won’t see the data going thru your router.

But some stuff is visible. “Not least is the fact that the second flaw can redirect the website. So when you think you’re typing in mynevadacounty.com you may actually be going to hackersdomain.net, hidden to you and shown on the screen the correct way”. <It wasn’t clear what he meant by ‘second flaw’, maybe the Spectre flaw, and that it may display what you type in the address bar but take you somewhere else> What to do about it? Upgrade the firmware or don’t do anything that’s really sensitive over wireless.

Even very basic sites are starting to use secure certificates. For example, if you go to speedof.me, you’re directed to a secure website. This a site to test the speed of your internet connection, not one where you’ll be typing in personal info, but it’s made secure nonetheless. “However, you may type things in there that could be useful to somebody…Enough information is triggered by visiting the website…that it could be useful to somebody intercepting it”.

If you have a WordPress site or a site with your own domain name, it’s suggested you get a secure certificate. It used to be a lengthy process but is now free. You can get a low-grade SSL certificate at letsencrypt.org. They will give you a certificate but they won’t validate who you say you are. It just means the traffic between you and a website will be secure even if your “router is flawed, even if you have this other defect” (Spectre).

Paul backtracked to say more about Spectre. “One of the defects in Spectre will allow people to see what happens on your machine after encrypted connections are going on.” Spectre doesn’t care about your router or secure websites, “at some point on your screen something readable was visible, which was the balance in your bank account, your account number or any of that stuff. If you could see it on your screen, it could be grabbed out of cache memory and subverted.” <Spectre and a secure connection are separate issues, as I understand it.>

Paul said he’ll post pictures taken with his quadcopter from Sugarloaf just north of Nevada City.

Saxon from Fair Oaks called. He has a 5 year old Mac Book Pro with a 1 terabyte SSD drive that he put in it. Since it’s 5 years old, he wanted to know when should he start thinking about replacing it. He has a thunderbolt display and runs CAD (computer aided design) programs and the machine seems get warmer than normal. Paul suggested he use compress air under 60 pounds or can of compressed air to blow it out. Find the vent underneath the back hinge. Unhinge the cover and look for the vent.

There are a series of keystrokes, which Paul couldn’t remember, to reset the system management console. This is an Intel chip that controls the keyboard lights, fan and battery charging. For more info, google the words: reset smc. It doesn’t hurt to reset it even if there’s nothing wrong with it.

Check the condition of the SSD drive. The maker of the SSD will usually give you a custom diagnostic to see what shape it’s in. This is different than a hard drive diagnostic. The memory cells of the SSD degrade over time.

Last Updated 11:47 PM 1-31-2018


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