Feb 14, 2018

Feb - 14 2018 | no comments | By

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 music was by Pentatonix.


Both Glenn and Paul were in the studio today.


Glenn thanked listeners & supporters of KVMR. <If you’d like to become a member, you can call the station at 530-265-9073 or go to kvmr.org.>

Glenn was given a 9″ tablet made by Digital Reins recently. It runs the Kit Kat operating system — version 4.2.2 <but their webpage says it 4.4>. He said it’s kind of slow and that he might add an external SD memory card (up to 32gig) to it. You can get it at Amazon for about $100.
<This might be the tablet>

He said it sometimes displays the message “cannot start android.google.(something) upgrade”. It seem to be trying to do something in the background, but can’t.

Paul said people should keep in mind that products you buy to experiment or have fun with may not be adequate for your need to get work done. He’s cautious about buying new off-brand products. Brand-name products that are similar can cost twice as much, but that doesn’t mean you get twice the performance.

There are various benchmarks <apps> you can get to check network performance. video rendering, etc.

Off-brand manufacturers get permission from Google to use the Android operating system without having to pay a royalty. Google expects to make up for it when people come to Google for resources and products — apps, email, media, etc. That will give Google the opportunity to gather information about the users.

You can learn more about your tablet by going to Settings -> About. Toward the top you’ll see the model number. Glenn’s tablet shows it’s model m920. Paul said the company may have put the firmware made for a different model with the same chipset into this tablet. He speculated that might be the reason Glenn was getting the error message.

Paul went on to say you can upgrade such tablets. There is a hacker community that will offer you recompiled images <of the operating system> that you can put on the flash card. You can then upgrade the OS from the flash card.

The cheaper tablets have a more reflective display because they don’t use an anti-glare coating, Paul noted. And several years ago cheap tablets would have a resistive display, which is less responsive to finger movement. This type of display is what you’ll find on GPS devices. The preferred type is capacitive display.

Taking tablets apart can be tricky. Paul bought a tool that looks like a pair of plastic tongs with suckers on them. You’re supposed to wet the suckers and put one on the front and one on the back of the tablet and squeeze the tool. If you patiently exert a fixed amount of force, eventually the glue will give way and the two halves of the tablet will come apart. You can speed up the process by using a hot air gun or hair drier but be careful not to apply too much heat. The glue will start to loosen at about 160 degrees F.

If you venture into upgrading your tablet, you’ll notice that newer versions of Android don’t demand much more from the hardware. The current version of Android is 7. And you shouldn’t have much trouble of installing most of the common apps on an older tablet.

Paul said most of the apps you would need would be able to run on version 4.2, so why would you want to upgrade? One reason is better advantage can be taken of the hardware resources. For example, Google made version 7.1 more responsive to touch.

Talk turned to cord cutting. Until recently, the content you got over the internet tended to be prerecorded, like Youtube. Now there’s Google Live, which lets you watch live TV relays of sports, political events, news broadcasts, etc.
<Maybe its Youtube TV
Engadget article
The app for it.>

Glenn’s experience was that he watched only a small fraction of what was available thru his cable subscription. Then he got the least expensive package from Direct TV called the Family Pack, which gave him something like 28 or 48 channels. But it was still kind of pricey. He’s intrigued by the internet channels but thinks the cost can still add up by the time you subscribe to enough services to meet your viewing desires. Glenn’s had some success bargaining with cable companies for better rates by claiming he can’t afford to pay more than the introductory rate he started with, and then settle for a marginal increase in his fee.

Steve Baker entered the studio to give an update on the shooting in a Florida high school. There are a number of fatalities — one source said 14 dead. The gunman is in custody.

Paul said there is feature in Google Maps to find the distance between 2 points in a straight line (as the crow flies) rather than driving distance. He thought the feature is available on the mobile app for Google Maps, too.

If you use your computer to go to Google Maps, you can discover other features you might not have been aware of. Google Earth, Street View are now integrated into Google Maps.

In the upper left corner of Street View is an option to see a particular street view from the past — different instances of that view photographed over time. Metro areas get photographed more often.

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

Glenn was impressed by the scenery of the opening ceremony from the Olympics and recommended listeners check out the recorded videos, wherever they can be found on the internet — maybe on Youtube.

Paul thought people might like to know how to watch the Olympics online for free. If you signed up at Google Live, you can watch for free during the 30-day trial period. After that it’s a $35/mo subscription. Otherwise, he hasn’t found any good options to watch the Olympics for free.

There was some chitchat about Elon Musk & Space X. There was mention of the recent launch of the Falcon Heavy and how the boosters do a soft landing on a barge.
<Watch video of the launch and landings if you missed it live earlier, or if you just want to watch a rerun.>

Douglas called. A mouse ate the fuel injection wires in his car. He thought a car would have to be parked for a long time before mice can get to it. He uses his car often and the mice needed less than 13 hours to do the damage. It cost $1500 to $2000 in repairs because the engine had to be partially disassembled to get to the wires. When the tow truck came for the car, the driver said <maybe jokingly> that he should put a bar of Irish Spring under the hood because the smell will keep them away. It didn’t help that in 2012 the auto makers complied with European laws that demanded the wire insulation be biodegradable and, perhaps more attractive to mice.

Glenn related the story of how Ivory soap was made to float. One of the vat tenders accidentally let it go too long and it got too much air in it. First thought to be an error, consumers were impressed.

Paul’s humorous contribution was about a workman at a factory that made glasses who fell into a vat of molten glass. The news headlines: glass worker makes a spectacle of himself.

Douglas also said that mint oil and the sonic devices you plug into a wall socket also keep mice away.

Paul mentioned a local company called Sonic Technology that discovered a way to modulate ultra sound in such a way that it drives rodents away and they don’t get used to it.

Adding to what was said before, Paul said you don’t have to drop your cable TV subscription before you experiment with the alternatives. You can get a Roku box for an “Android TV unit”, which he just bought for himself for $28. <He didn’t give a model number of the Roku.>

Robin called. She thought Douglas said menthol would keep the mice away. Glenn clarified by saying it was mint oil.

She also asked about where to have her broken computer looked at.
– Locally there’s Rod’s Computers.
– She was asked to email the guys to get a reply for other repair shops.
– Call the shop in advance to see if there’s a charge to determine if it’s worth repairing. Understandably, shops generally have a service minimum.
– If you want to recycle it, that’s usually free. Take the hard drive out first to protect your personal info. The best way to get rid of it is to take a hammer to it <or keep the drive & put it into your next computer.>

Last Updated 12:47 AM 2-15-2018

Jan 31, 2018

Jan - 31 2018 | no comments | By

A lost dog notice…
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


Jan 24, 2018

Jan - 24 2018 | no comments | By

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.


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

Jan 10, 2018

Jan - 10 2018 | no comments | By

Meltdown! FAQ

Intel CPU Defects


Button Cells like the CR2016: 3.6v

Type Numbers for Bulbs Batteries…

Oil Filters



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.


Both Glenn and Paul were in the studio today


Glenn took his first Lyft ride this past weekend. It was from the Golden One Center where he saw a basketball game. He said watching the megatron display was almost better than watching the game directly, because of all the camera angles.

He said the Golden One Center has an area where you can plug in your mobile device to get it charged. And they have an app that you can use order pizza <as well as do other things>.

Glenn wasn’t sure of the range for the ticket prices for a basketball game. He guessed they’re from about $40 to $300. For the seats he was in, a pair of season tickets cost “only” $17,000 and the cheapest are $6700 a pair.

The Lyft driver who served Glenn had a hearing impairment and the guys speculated about how the drivers were covered by insurance. Apparently, Uber does cover its drivers.

A couple of weeks ago Glenn started using the app called Waze, an alternative to Google Maps. Though it’s considered a superior mapping system to others, he didn’t like how it had control of his car’s stereo, via Bluetooth, even when it wasn’t issuing directions — nothing else would play thru the stereo. There is a setting to keep it from using the car’s stereo at all, but that’s how Glenn wanted it to work. For a workaround, he noticed that the Lyft drivers who use Waze will have their phones play music thru the car using Bluethooth which will relinquish control to Waze only when Waze has something to say. He likes, and apparently uses, Google Maps instead.

Paul explained that, as with other map/traffic apps, Waze automatically submits speed <and location> of its users to its central servers, which then aggregates the data to warn drivers of congestion, for instance. Unlike the other apps, Waze lets the users report things like a crash or stop & go traffic on an on ramp.

Paul noted the law that came into effect about a year ago regarding using a device while driving. Though discouraged, a concession was made to allow you to activate a function if it only requires one button press and you’re not actually holding the digital device. Glenn thought there were further restrictions — it’s only for a phone call or to use a map.

Paul thought using Siri by voice would be ok while driving. Glenn said he finds Siri confusing to use in the car. He tried to use it recently to find a gas station and asked Siri for an Arco AM/PM, but Siri couldn’t determine what he was asking for. He switched over to Google Maps, which not only showed nearby stations but also gave the gas prices. Paul said Google seems to be adding more details to their maps every time they update the app.

Gordon called to ask about the best way to backup his PC computer. If you have a network at home you can add network access storage like the Western Digital My Book Live, Paul’s favorite. 2 or 3 terabytes of storage is about $149, The backup software that comes with it is not great, but not bad. The drive works with Macs too, and looks like a Time Capsule to a Mac. Check Youtube for instructional videos to help you set it up or at least give you an idea of difficulties you might encounter.

Gordon expressed concern that the data will be vulnerable to a catastrophe like a fire or flood at his home. Paul said these threats exist but, on the other hand, the data transfer speeds are thousands of times faster than backing up to the internet. A hundred gigabytes will take forever to backup to the internet. The solution is to make a 2nd backup to a portable device, like a USB drive, and physically store it at a remote location.

Backups to the cloud tend to lag behind because they tend to be slow. so you may encounter the problem of not getting them done in a timely manner, Paul said. And keep in mind that uploading can be 10 times slower than downloading, due to the asymmetric nature of the protocol. However, you may be able to get by ok if you have a small number/size of files.

Glenn chimed in suggesting Carbonite for backing up to the internet. He said they have plans for business as well as individuals. He uses Google Drive for document storage and noted that you can synch your files if you install Backup & Synch.
<Google releases Backup and Sync for Mac and Windows>

Gordon said he doesn’t have a lot of data to backup. To find out how much you have, go to the C: drive & right-click on the folder ‘Users’ -> properties to find out how much data there is for all of the users on your machine…that is what you really need to back up. First, you might want to run Ccleaner, which removes all of the extraneous garbage files that you don’t want to backup. <More about Ccleaner in the 12-27-17 show notes.>

Another program the guys have used in the past for backups is Free File Sync. But this one requires more tweaking, Paul said.

Paul talked about the recently reported Meltdown & Spectre faults. They are not viruses but are defects in the CPUs. Modern CPUs process sets of instruction out of order to optimize speed. Some processes are supposed to be hidden from others but there may be a small time frame when they’re not and the data can be exposed. What to do…
– Don’t panic. There haven’t been any exploits seen out “in the wild”, yet.
– Watch out for claims purporting to fix the problem — all you need to do is click this & download that. Be very suspicious of emails with links or attachments unless you’re sure of their origin. Be careful of popups in webpages saying a problem with your computer has been detected.
– Anti-virus programs won’t be especially effective. Only some attempts to exploit these vulnerabilities might be done with a virus.
– Firefox, Chrome and to a lesser extent Internet Explorer browsers have killbits in place where they recognize certain types of things you get thru webpages. <I think the point is to keep your browsers updated.>
– All of the companies are issuing updates. Stay updated. Be sure your updates come from Microsoft itself thru Windows Updates or Apple thru Software Updates.
– Paul thought the problem affects iPhones and those phones with the ARM CPU, too.<Arm CPU, ARM & Spectre>
– The patches are expected to slow down your computer. They will negate the speedup you get with “preemptive look ahead”. In some cases there may be a 25% slowdown, but webpages won’t be affected so much.
– Microsoft didn’t wait until patch Tuesday to issue a patch. Paul speculated that it caused some Windows machines to crash and go into an “infinite boot loop”.

<Spectre and Meltdown Exploits – What You Need to Know:
A followup: Can Malware (Spectre, Meltdown) Spy After Reboot
What You Need to Do Because of Flaws in Computer Chips |
The CPU catastrophe will hit hardest in the cloud— The Verge:
Researchers Discover Two Major Flaws in the World’s Computers>

Glenn thanked those who have become supporting members of KVMR and invited listeners to write with their questions and comments to zen at kvmr dot org.

<The fallout from Apple deliberately slowing down older iPhones as new operating systems come out, has led Apple to offer discounts on battery replacements.> Affecting iPhone SE, iPhone 6 up to the iPhone 10, the battery will be replaced for $29. It’s not expected to begin until later this month & will go to Dec 31 2018. Glenn said he’ll wait until the last minute to get his done.
<Apple iPhone battery replacement program>

Last Updated 2:14 AM 1-11-2018

Favorite Programs & Utilities

Jan - 08 2018 | no comments | By

 Programs & sites often mentioned during the shows. All, I think, are free!! Some make money with Ads on the Pages, so be careful which link you click! SOME offer a Chekcbox to install things like Yahoo! Toolbar that they get a small Commission from. Always EXCLUDE such things.

For a description of how to save audio you're listening to over the internet, see the bottom of this page.

Let's start with those free utilities that passively help report what exactly your machine is and does…. IE they do not change anything but just provide useful information about the PC every time they are run…

BELARC PC Inventory Program; the free download is here
CPUID from HERE identifies Brain, memory type and maker etc.
SPEEDFAN Hard Disk and machine temperature and fan S.M.A.R.T. Troubleshooter
WinDirStat gives statistics about your hard drive usage
memtest86 gives info about the computers memory.
The machine has to be booted from separate media like a bootable CD, floppy or flash drive


Ckean up 'intrinsic' Windows slowdowns: In general THIS
site is Very Informative: http://www.blackviper.com and I have used many of its notes for the presentaion:
For XP Optimizing: http://www.blackviper.com/WinXP/supertweaks.htm
For Vista Optimizing: http://www.blackviper.com/WinVista/supertweaks.htm
Yes, Windows SEVERN Now already!: http://www.blackviper.com/Windows_7/supertweaks.htm

This section lists programs that will optimize the PC by cleaning defragmenting and otherwise improving things..

CCLEANER – Venerable Cleaner of Crap off PCs! Removed temporary/scratch and cache files that can accumulate over time and slow things down. Also has a REASOBALY good Registry Cleaner

EUSING Registry Cleaner Trims entries in the single datafile Windows uses called the Registry that are orphaned or are otherwise wrong..

NTREGOPT  Optimizes the Registry by converging fragmented parts of the branches of the database and clearing empty entries.. I Think. REBOOT after thsi one.

MYDEFRAG is a simple Disk Defragmenter that in default install mode provides an ingenious screen saving defragmentation routine

REVO UNINSTALLER uninstall programs.
Mentioned in the May 22, 2010 show.

Spybot AntiMal/Spyware Software (Home Page) <or maybe here>

AVG Free Anti Virus. Or…
For those who don't want to deal with a download manager to get AVG (e.g. if you're using a library's computer), you should be able to get the file directly here:

Thunderbird (email & Usenet client)
Firefox (a web browser, many plugins, more basic interface)
Opera (a web browser, some plugins, more user-friendly interface)
UBUNTU Linux an alternative operating system
For the PC there's Syncback Lite, a free backup program
Blender is a suite free tools for 3d graphic creation

Ad-Aware anti-spyware form Lavasoft
Zone Alarm firewall (for those without XP + service pack 2)
Audacity Audio editor
Audacity plugin called Lame (for saving your work in mp3 format)

crucial.com gives info similar to mentest86
Winamp plays audio files

Picasa a picture editing & managing 
Paint Shop Pro is now a Corel product but earlier free versions can be found
   The version I got at this location seems to be working ok but USE AT YOUR OWN RISk.

Black Light Anti-Rootkit 
   mentioned in show notes here and here

Openoffice is mentioned. It's a great alternative to Microsoft office and handles many of its file types.

LibreOffice is similar to OpenOffice. It branched off of OpenOffice when it looked like Oracle wanted to make money off of OpenOffice. Though they've backed off that idea, OpenOffice seems to be struggling and it's my impression that more people are going with LibreOffice. Here are some articles about it.
1) Former OpenOffice.org developers offer their first stable OpenOffice competitor
2) OpenOffice.org vs. LibreOffice
3) Facing closure, OpenOffice.org begs for survival. (This article has a link to more about LibreOffice)
4) Apache asserts OpenOffice stewardship

Gmail is an web based email service; can be used as a POP & SMTP mail service.
Google Docs is sort of like using Microsoft Office online

Check your connection speed with speedtest.net


This is intended to allow you to record while you're listening to streaming audio over the internet, like the Zentech show.

It's my understanding that not all audio cards support this feature, the newer the computer/audio card the LESS likely the support. Supposedly, the hardware manufacturers have bent to the demands of the recording industry who don't want you be able to record. But, this is simple enough and can be undone if you're not happy.

These instructions are for Windows XP.
The Task Bar is the bar with the row of buttons beginning with the "Start" button, and is usually at the bottom of the screen. The System Tray is the portion of the Task Bar at the opposite end of the "Start" button which includes the clock.

Right-click on the speaker icon in the System Tray.
Then left-click on "Open Volume Control".

In the window that opens, go to Options and click on Properties.
In the window that opens, put a dot next to the "Recording" button in "Adjust volume for" section.
In "Show the following volume controls" section, put check mark next to "Stereo Mix". Click OK

You'll see the that the "Master Volume" window has changed to "Recording Control" and one of the items is "Stereo Mix".
In the Stereo Mix column put a check mark next to "Select". Initially, you should probably adjust the slider in that column to somewhere near the middle.

That's it. You can close the volume control window.

You can use the Windows Sound Recorder to capture and save the audio from radio programs, but it seems to record 1 minutes at a time — you have to keep clicking the record button for more minutes — whether you're using "Stereo Mix" or not. So you may want to use something better like Audacity. Links to it and a plugin for saving in MP3 format are given above.

You can find Sound Recorder by going to Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Entertainment

Last updated: 4:09 PM 10/16/2011

a href=”http://www.blackviper.com” target=”_blank”#039;re not happy.a href=”http://memtest86.com/”

Dec 27, 2017

Dec - 27 2017 | no comments | By

Strange Minimalist Music from the 1980’s– Electronics.
“O Superman” by Laurie Anderson

Nostalgic? try telehack.com 

and see old BBS style Text Files Here!



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 music was by Pentatonix.
The outro music was a “random track” by Brian Eno.


Paul was in the studio. Glenn called in.


Paul played an excerpt of some music from the English musician Lori Anderson. It’s from 1982, which is when he left England permanently. She used an octave divider to process her voice. Her album is being republished, but an analog version was put on Youtube (see the link above) with a link to the digitally cleaned up version that you can buy.
<Lori’s website>

Glenn called in from a location he didn’t expose and started off by telling us about a problem Marilyn has recently encountered. She’s using Windows 10 and when she upgraded the Firefox browser to the latest version (ver 57.0.2), her computer started to run slow.

Paul said Mozilla did a rewrite of Firefox recently and it’s now called Firefox Quantum. Whichever version you’re using, you can do a cleanup by going to Firefox Health Report (or maybe it’s Trouble Shooting Information) in the ‘Help’ menu. From the page that opens, Paul suggested Marilyn choose ‘Refresh Firefox’ in the upper right-hand corner. It saves your bookmarks and some of your settings, dumps everything else and then reloads the bookmarks & settings. In the process, it dumps the addons, which can cause mischief, and you’ll have to reinstall them as needed. It also dumps caches as well as any bits and pieces left over from any previous upgrades. Paul said when you migrate to Firefox Quantum, it automatically triggers a refresh. <More about Quantum in the 11-29-17 show notes.>

If you had been using a 32bit version of Firefox but you have a 64bit computer you’ll be switched to the 64bit version of Firefox when you update to the new version. It appears Mozilla is no longer making the 32bit version but all of the addons work just the same, Paul said.

We should all have more than one browser on our machines, Paul continued. But he hates the Microsoft Edge browser, “it’s horrible”. It’s what comes with Windows 10. However, you can still get the earlier Internet Explorer browser from the Microsoft site. Right-click the button in the lower left of your screen <I think he meant the Start button> and then and use the word ‘Run’ and type in “iexplore” <w/o quotes>. You’ll get version 11 of Internet Explorer.

So, 1) refresh Firefox as explained above, although upgrading to Quantum should have done the refresh. 2) Get Internet Explorer and see if your speed improves using it <indicating Firefox is the problem>.

The other thing you can do is isolate the problem. Is it the machine or is it the traffic from the internet that’s slowing you down. Test your internet speed by using speedof.me. Speedof will wait until a webpage is fully loaded before it gives you the result. If the page doesn’t load, something else is wrong. Speedof is designed to isolate speed problems due to the machine from speed problems with the internet.

The guys went on to talk about Crap Cleaner (Ccleaner). Glenn said he has someone friends with a Windows Media Center PC they use to watch TV and record cable & other media. It started to give a ‘disk is full error’. They talked previously about it being more efficient to have the operating system on a separate partition and a much larger partition (or a separate drive) for your data. In this case, after using Ccleaner, the free space on their C: drive went from about 8Kb to 305 gigabytes free on a 500gig drive. Paul said it’s a tendency with Media Center computers to store a lot of temporary data that needs to be cleaned out.

Ccleaner used to be at ccleaner.com but they are trying to sell you what was once a free version by redirecting you to cleanercloud.com. You can still get the free version by going here. Installing it will put an icon into the system tray in the lower right, but Paul prefers to turn that option off; he prefers to run it on-demand (manually). You can also set it to do the cleanup only when you reboot Windows, but that adds about 60 sec to the boot up time. There are also settings that will keep it from deleting passwords or cookies.
<A version for Android is here>

Paul noted that Ccleaner will tend to ignore files specific to an application. So in Marilyn’s case, she’ll need to do the Firefox refresh and not depend on Ccleaner to do the job.

Since Windows 10 came out, there have been 2 major “patches” or updates. Paul said he’s seen one of the updates shut down Avast Anti-virus, without warning. On another occasion, an update shut down Classicshell, which many people use for a better user interface to Win10 than the default Metro interface. Both programs can be reinstalled, but you may have to download the latest versions.

Paul offered a tip to those who want to install Avast: uncheck everything except ‘file updates’, ‘browser check’ and ‘file protect’. He thinks the other options are not needed and Glenn agreed.

The ‘web protect’ option will look at the site you’re visiting and send the data to their servers and then tell you if the site is safe. Things to remember…
– It takes more time — there’s slow down.
– They make money from the aggregated data collected about your browsing habits. It doesn’t mean more advertising popups, as you might think.
– They don’t *guaranty* a website is not a malicious.

The guys mentioned a couple of sites that are a throwback to earlier days in computing. <See the links at the top.> Telehack is not so much a webpage but looks like a “terminal into a console”, Paul said. It uses Linux to make it look like a main frame computer from the late 1970s — in particular it looks like a operating system known as Galaxy that ran on a PDP 1091 or PDP 11.

One of the things you can do on Telehack is type ‘eliza’ and it will run an old program by that name that’s an early attempt at interactive psychological analysis.

Paul briefly noted that Youtube now has a subscription service called Youtube Red to provide movies.

The other nostalgic website is Textfiles.com. It gives you the experience of old bulletin boards. It allows you to download plain, unembellished ASCII text files.

One of the files Paul ran across at Textfiles is about Phil Katz who, circa 1970s, came up with a file compression program called Pkzip, which improved on the .zip compression scheme.

Listeners were invited to call with their questions and comments at 530-265-9555. And they can send email to zen at kvmr dot org.

Dan from Coloma called. He recently updated his iPhone to IOS 11 and now he notices periodic increases in the data being transferred — on the order of a third of a gigabyte. At other times it can be 2 gigs over the space of 11 minutes. All of this with out doing anything.
– Paul thought it might be updates being done over the cellular connection. You can restrict updates to only using wi-fi and avoid being charged by the phone company. Dan doesn’t have wi-fi at home.
– Paul said the Verizon site has an accounting of when the data is transferred, though it’s 4 to 8 hours after the fact.
– Paul thought it might be because he uses iCloud Photos. Dan said he turned off all of the iCloud stuff. Google Photos can also spontaneously synch up the data.
– Take your phone to a wi-fi hotspot (e.g. a coffee shop) and then do a check for updates to the IOS. The updates are usually big — on the order of 1.8gig. The automatic updates on the iPhone can happen without warning or asking for permission.
– Go to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Mobile’ (or ‘Cellular’) and you’ll see what items are allowed to use the cellular network. Turn off anything you don’t need. While there, you can see how much data is used by each app. And at the bottom, you can “reset statistics” — handy to use at the start of a billing period.
– Dan asked if it might be a virus. Paul said it’s possible but improbable.
– Go to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Personal Hotspot’ and keep it off. Dan checked and his was on. So it’s possible some other device was using the hotspot. In particular, Windows 10 may have been using up a lot of data.
– Dan asked if it’s possible to go back to Windows 7. Paul said Microsoft gives you a month to do that but they don’t really want you to. Dan is stuck with using cellular as a hotspot for his Windows computer — he has no other broadband. Paul suggested he take it to some free wi-fi location to let Windows do its updates.
– Dan has gotten some relief from Verizon. They’ve increased his data cap a couple of times — up to 16gigs/mo. That was recently and he’s waiting to see if that’ll be adequate.
– Check with local companies that can provide an internet connection for your computer using terrestrial wireless — aka wireless isp — so you won’t have to use the phone as a hotspot. Check with Smarter Broadband, for instance.
– Go into Windows 10 and turn off “metered connections” or turn off wi-fi entirely <so it won’t use the phone as a hotspot>.
– Call Adam Brodel of Smarter Broadband for any suggestions he may have, even a competitor, if he can’t provide the service. Glenn did a quick search and wondered if Blaze Wifi might be an option. <I’m not sure I heard “Blaze” correctly.>

Last Updated 1:49 AM 12-28-2017


Dec 13, 2017

Dec - 13 2017 | no comments | By

A Bit about the Blockchain & Bitcoin

Raspberry Pi– Arduino…



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 music was by Pentatonix.

The outro music was Fractal Zoom by Brian Eno


Paul was in the studio. Glenn called in from a Starbucks in San Jose.


Paul’s “been up all night” messing around with the Raspberry Pi & Arduino. He thinks they would be a good gift for the teenage nerd in the family.

Newer cars have the ability to display the tire pressure on the dash. Now there are valve caps for older cars that constantly monitor tire pressure and report the data via Bluetooth. One such valve cap is the FOBO System.

Paul also noted that most modern cars have a temperature sensor mounted near the road surface to warn of near freezing conditions and the possibility of road ice. But he wondered if the distraction of watching all of this info being displayed negates the margin of safety provided.

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

The most useful in-car system he’s seen for older cars is an Android dashboard. It’s a 6″ diagonal rectangular screen. On more modern cars, you can take out the radio and put the Android dashboard in its place. “The proper size for the original car radio was called 1 Din, which is a German standard for the height of the radio. 2 Din means double height and a 6″ screen will fit in there.” With Android you can add various apps like GPS and speedometer. You can retrofit whole bunch of useful stuff, which is what Paul has done. From what I understand, the Android dashboard can read and display info from external sensors like the tire valve caps.

<I’m not sure this is what he was talking about, but it seems close…
The Complete Guide to Android Auto – Google Maps, voice commands, messaging, and more in your car:
Or this
You no longer have to buy a new car or stereo to use Android Auto>

When you shop for an Android dashboard, pay attention to the exact size, Paul said. Hopefully, the retailer will have the dimensions on their website.

Some years ago, Paul bought himself a digital caliper (LCD caliper) from Harbor Freight in Roseville for $10 to assist in accurately measuring dimensions. As he recalled, the accuracy is claimed to be about 1/3 to 1/4 of a millimeter.

Talk turned to Bitcoin, a type of virtual currency. If you want to trade in Bitcoins you’ll have to use an exchange, similar to using an exchange if you want to convert dollars to yen. One popular licensed broker is Coinbase, but there are others.

People think using Bitcoins allows you to be anonymous. But the anonymity is questionable because in some places, like California, you have to provide personal information to the broker. “Neither the buyer nor the seller nor the transaction can be associated with you, but it can be identified,” Paul said. In other words, in the entire Bitcoin network, a transaction is visible but not necessarily the person who did it. However it is possible to track it back to the broker (Coinbase, for instance).

Paul said people are mortgaging their houses to invest in Bitcoin. Be diligent. It’s a highly speculative market. Glenn chimed in to say that it’s like gambling and is a very risky bet, in his opinion. Paul said he learned from the book titled “Black Swan” that this sort speculation is based entirely on psychology and perception and not at all on statistics or reality.

Paul mentioned that Bitcoin works on a system called a blockchain, which is a ledger or inventory of transactions. He said he’ll put up a link on the Zen Tech site to an animated diagram of how blockchain works.

Paul said he goes to thrift stores occasionally. He picked up a replacement remote control at one place recently because he doesn’t like universal remotes. He said all sorts of tech stuff is showing up at thrift stores. At many stores you can get store credit if you buy a gadget and it doesn’t work. Glenn noted that some thrift stores specialize in certain categories of merchandise.

Paul found a good location for recycled auto parts and it’s in Rancho Cordova. He said to google the words: recycle road rancho cordova. About the only thing you can’t find at these auto dismantlers are air bags, for legal reasons.

Brian called. He just bought an ASUS laptop with Windows 10. It came with a 1 terabyte mechanical hard drive and an empty slot for a second drive. So he bought a 275 gig solid state drive (SSD) to put in it. Now he’s not sure how to get the operating system to run off the SSD and use the original 1 terabyte drive for data.
– The problem is copying a bigger drive to the smaller one.
– It’s possible the software you need transfer the operating system came with the new SSD drive.
– Before you install the 2nd drive, unplug the power and take out the laptops battery.
– Glenn wondered if he could use the ‘restore function’ in Win10 and point it toward the new drive. Paul said it might work but he wasn’t sure. He said to call the computer company.

Buzz, the KVMR engineer, was listening to the show and came into the studio with a suggestion. It’s a method he’s used before. This may not be the only way, but it works. He suggested Clonezilla, which is a low level of Linux that uses a function called ‘dd’ to copy a drive. To copy from a larger to a smaller drive there is an option in Win10 to change the partition size of the drive. You can shrink the partition of the 1 terabyte drive to the same size of the smaller drive. You can even do this with the 2nd drive connected via the USB port, if you don’t have space for a 2nd drive inside the laptop. Google the words: shrink partiton windows 10.
<More about Clonezilla here>

Also, there is software called Easeus Free Partition Magic, Paul said. It’s a bit tricky and he didn’t go into it, but said there are some pitfalls.

Glenn said the Win10 operating system might already be in its own, smaller partition on the 1 terabyte drive. Look under “My Computer” to see what drives you have. You might have a C: drive and a much larger D: drive. And the C: drive will have the operating system. From his experience, Glenn said ASUS has an excellent tech support and suggested calling them. Brian had a look and found there was only 1 partition.

Paul said something he meant to say a few shows ago. If you lose Win10 on your laptop and you have a sticker on the machine or you know Win10 is already registered, you can download Win10 from the internet and burn a CD with it. So if you want to experiment with methods of transferring the OS, there would still be a way of recovering Win10.

The same thing is true for Winows 7 users. Be sure you use the Microsoft site to download it. Microsoft will want you to type in the number (key) on the sticker a.k.a. the COA (certificate of authenticity).

Brian also asked for a local technician that can help him. Paul said there’s Quiet Tech and Roy’s Computers. He asked Brian to send an email and he’ll reply with a list of local techs.

Dan called. <His audio was terrible.> He has a Dell laptop from 1998 that he upgraded to Windows 7. He wondered what using an iPad 2 is like. The audio was so bad Paul had to end the conversation. Glenn asked Dan to write in with his question — zen at kvmr dot org.

Next show will have an interview of someone who knows more about Bitcoin.

Last Updated 12:16 AM 12-14-2017


Nov 29, 2017

Nov - 29 2017 | no comments | By

3rd. Wednesday in the Month!
Raspberry PI & KODI– oh and a Teeny Keyboard, Too!
Failed High Sierra Update?
Wordpress– How?!
SonOff WIFI Controlled Devices!
Symptoms of a Dead SMC/BIOS battery
Prime Tests

Recycle Road, SAC



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 and outro music was by Pentatonix.


Both Paul and Glenn were in the studio today.


Glenn started out by telling us about the cataract surgery he had about a year ago, which was followed by corrective surgery. He now has mono vision and doesn’t need reading glasses. One of his eyes is set for close-up vision, the other for further out. He can read well out to about 12″. Recently, he went to see the Thor movie in 3D but realized he’ll need glasses to get both eyes to focus at a distance.

Paul told us that the call letters ‘KVMR’ stand for Victoria Museum Radio. The ‘K’ means that it’s a West Coast station. After mentioning that KVMR has audio podcasts, he went on to talk more about podcasts, including videos.

Years ago he used to listen to Science Friday audio podcasts. Science Friday originated from The Canadian Broadcast Corp. They now produce video podcasts and Paul thinks they’re great. To find them, he said to search for the words: cbc science friday videocast.
< I’m not sure these are what Paul found, but they’re pretty good too — here and here>

He implied it was one of these videos that talked about cochlear implants. Earlier implants would regain about 30% of the hearing. The newer ones containing a microprocessor that increases the understanding of normal speech by 80%.

Paul mentioned that colorblind people have difficulty discerning the correct balance of red & green colors. Capuchin monkeys have been used in experiments where a virus is used to insert a gene into the eyes that restores the color receptors needed for the proper detection of color. Apparently it works in monkeys but hasn’t been tried in humans yet. He learned this from another Science Friday videocast, if I heard him correctly.

Paul said Youtube has a channel explaining how things are made. For example, use their search facility to find out how donuts holes are made using the search term: donuts how it’s made. I think the catch phrase is “how it’s made”.

Glenn said he likes the new operating system IOS 11 on his iPhone but isn’t thrilled with the keyboard on his iPad. He didn’t specifically say he upgraded the iPad to IOS 11, but I guess that’s implied.

He uses the feature that turns off notifications while he’s driving. The phone senses movement from driving to implement the feature. Glenn said use ‘Settings’ -> scroll down just a bit to “notifications control center do not disturb” to turn it on. Paul said version 8 of Android (named Oreo) also has this feature.

The guys talked about the new Firefox browser. Glenn said he doesn’t like the black tabs, with the only white tab representing the windows you’re looking at. That’s the only thing he’s noticed that’s new.

Paul said that around version 6 Firefox started putting out updates rapidly and versions jumped by whole numbers. It’s now up to about version 60 and has taken on a version name that he couldn’t remember. <I think it’s version 57 and is called Quantum.> It’s been completely rewritten under the hood but you don’t have to learn a lot of new stuff, he said.

Nobody makes 32bit CPUs anymore, they’re all 64bit now. Firefox used to be available in both versions but is now only for the 64bit machines. “32bit Firefox is still out there. It won’t work in XP. It won’t work in older Macs, which are 32bit. But if you have a new machine, which is 32bit, you can still get Firefox. It tends to rely on the underlying operating system. So if you got Windows 7, you’re going to get the latest Firefox even if it’s the older 32bit. Don’t worry about it,” Paul said.

<If you go to mozilla.org with your browser’s style sheets (CSS) turned off, you should see the links to the older Windows OS versions of Firefox, including XP. I’ve downloaded (but not yet installed v52.5 for XP). The actual 43.4meg .exe file is here.>

There are a couple of ways to upgrade, it will either do it automatically or you can go to the ‘Help’ menu -> ‘About Firefox’. “If it is not up in the 60 region and there is no button that says ‘update’ a couple of things could have happened. One is you are the unfortunate that has a machine that is too old to upgrade any further, especially if it says el1 or ec1, it means end of life or end or cycle. It means that you’re looking at version 40 something and it won’t go any higher. If you try and download it manually, it will not allow you to install it,” Paul said in his sometimes inscrutable manner. <He didn’t say what the second thing is.> <As I said, I haven’t tried to install v52.5, but suspect it will.>

When you go to install version 60 something, it will perform a clean install while saving your bookmarks and history, Paul said. It throws away the cache. To find out more about what’s going on, go to ‘Help’ -> ‘Trouble Shooting Information’. He said the new Firefox gained about 50% in speed and it works a lot better and it works with his plugins. <I heard some old plugins don’t work.>
<New Firefox Quantum Twice as Fast, 30% Less Memory:
Firefox 57 to Kill Many Addons: Tab Groups Alternative>

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

Glenn said the old X10 and DSR home control units don’t work properly to dim LED light bulbs. There are control units called Sonoff that do work and the guys ordered some from Ebay. Soon after, the company disappeared and the guys have to apply for a refund. If you get into a similar situation with Ebay, go look at your order and on that page you can apply for a refund.

Paul found another source for the Sonoff switches. They plug into the wall outlet. Then you plug what you want to control into the switch. They have wi-fi and can be controlled directly by your mobile device. If you create an account, you can control them from anywhere you have an internet connection using a proxy server in China.
<Sonoff Wi-Fi Smart Light Switch,Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home ,No Hub Required, Remote Control your Devices from Anywhere:>

For added security, Paul suggested creating a guest account on your in-house network that the switches will use. That will keep the switches separate from your normal network that you use for computers, mobiles, printers, etc.

A Sonoff unit has a programmable timer so you can set it to turn lights on an off according to a schedule. Paul uses one to switch his patio lights in this way. Glenn said they are about $23 on Ebay.

The Raspbery Pi and Arduino can talk to a Sonoff, too. Paul said they are great for kids to learn programming and build projects. There are knock-offs from China that are around $10, but you may have to download some software to get them to talk your computer.

Glenn noted that the only Sonoff units on Ebay at this time are the type that you have to put in-line in a wire (like an extension cord), not the type you plug into a wall socket. Be careful of the polarity (proper grounding) when you do the wiring. <See below.>

Arnie called. He had bad experience when he had a Mac Mini and did an upgrade only to find out that the software he’d been using no longer worked. So he recently bought a Dell PC and is looking for video editing software that’s easy to use but has a good compliment of features.
Microsoft Movie Creator is free. It’s pretty simple to use and Paul’s had success with it. It supports .mov and .wmv files. BE SURE you download it from the Microsoft site.
– You might also consider getting VLC. It’s free and plays and converts many formats of audio and video.
– There’s also Adobe Premiere and a cut down version called Adobe Premiere Elements. But they might be more than you need.
– Use Youtube for videos of how to use these programs. Search for something like “how to slow a movie down” or “how to create subtitles”.
– Paul looked up Adobe Premiere Elements and found a cyber Monday deal for $60. Be sure you’re not buying the subscription version where you pay yearly to use the software online — get the downloadable version (or CD).
– Glenn said the cyber Monday deal expires today. The regular price is $99. The combo of Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements package is $150.
<I CAN’T VOUCH FOR THIS SITE. If you have an older Windows OS check this out.>

Alan Stahler called with some info about the polarity of wires/plugs (mentioned above). The broad blade of a plug is neutral and it’s connected to the white wire. Short (narrow) blade goes with the black wire. The green wire goes to the ground. He also said that disabling (cutting off) the third prong off a plug is a bad idea, especially for outdoor use. It’s there to keep you from being electrocuted.

Bob called with a tip for people with Windows 10. He’s encountered a problem right after a Windows 10 upgrade. The problem is “the display resolution goes to 640 X 480 and the 1920 X 1080 is not available for you.” So the display was crappy. The fix was to do a restore to a restore point just before the upgrade. Apparently, when the upgrade installed the next time, his problem didn’t return. He suspected Microsoft had a bad upgrade package and replaced it, so his second try was fine.

Paul said some people have experienced failure during the upgrade to the latest version of the Apple operating system called High Sierra v11.13. Their machines “blacked out and went squitty”, he said. The solution he offered is that when starting, up hold down the Command key & R keys. That makes it use a recovery partition and you’ll have enough function to go online and use Safari and perform a disk check and reload the operating system.

Glenn said the Flea Market is back to it’s regular schedule and will be on tomorrow.

Last Updated 12:10 AM 11-30-2017

) turned off, you should see the links to the older Windows OS versions of Firefox, including XP. I’ve downloaded (but not yet installed v52.5 for XP). The actual 43.4meg .exe file is

Nov 22, 2017

Nov - 22 2017 | no comments | By

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 and outro music was by Pentatonix.


NOTE: there will be another Zen Tech show next Wednesday (11-29-17)


Both Glenn and Paul were in the studio today.


Glenn talked about upgrading his iPhone 6S to IOS 11 after doing a backup. For 2 weeks he kept putting off giving the final ok for the upgrade, but woke up this morning to find the upgrade had completed. He didn’t know why that happened without his permission. Paul thought that was “naughty” and added that to this day there are lawsuits pending by people who were upgraded from Win7 or Win8 to Win10 unwillingly.

Glenn said he likes IOS 11 so far. “When you push phone, everything is a little different and a little larger. The same thing on messages”. He said the fonts are bigger. And the copy, cut and paste is simpler than the previous IOS, which had different levels of how hard you ‘push’ for each function. Paul, who upgraded to IOS 11 previously, said the performance seems better and Glenn agreed.

Glenn wasn’t so happy with the upgrade to the High Sierra operating system on his Mac Mini. He said that yesterday it was running slowly. He thought it might be because he didn’t do a restart after the upgrade finished. Paul said he’s noticed something similar with other operating systems after they upgrade. The new system needs to do some maintenance before it starts running normally. Somewhere around version 10.12, the filing system was changed and there was a delay before the performance recovered, but then it improved over the previous OS.

Both Windows and the Mac do what’s called indexing, where a database of the files on the machine is built for quicker access in the future, Paul said. When you plug in another hard drive or a flash drive, an index is also built and is stored in a hidden file called .spotlight on the Mac and .index (so he thought) on Windows. The user can set whether a drive is indexed.

Paul talked about online or cloud backups. He said he doesn’t “trust” them. The internet connection speed is a fraction of the network speed that you have at home, which is a fraction of the speed of a local USB or hard drive. 16 gigs of data can take a very long time to backup online. Some people just manually backup the most critical files, not the entire drive. But then you don’t have the convenience of an automated backup system. <He didn’t explain what he meant by ‘trust’. Maybe it was a poorly chosen word.>

Paul said he uses Rsync to synchronize and do incremental backups. It has a graphical user interface. It’s available on all major platforms (PC, Linux, Android, Mac and others). He said it’s important to practice restoring your data. A backup is no good to you if you can’t restore it.

Years ago there was a backup program called Norton Ghost that would take a snapshot of your entire hard drive, which you could recreate later on another drive. The down side is that you could recreate the drive only on the machine from which the snapshot was taken. “That’s almost completely useless”, he said.

On the PC, the data that’s important is located under ‘Documents and Settings’ for the XP, and under ‘Users’ on later Windows systems. On the Mac go to ‘Mac Hard Drive’ -> ‘Users’ where you’ll find folders with names of those who have a login account on the machine. The data you’ll find in these places is what needs backing up. It will contain things like Word documents and photos but not the applications themselves, so keep track of where you keep your software programs. Paul mentioned another sync program called Free File Sync.
<I can’t vouch for this: Free Norton Ghost Alternatives to Create a Full Windows Image …:>

Increasingly, people are getting their applications from the internet. Paul mentioned that Turbo Tax is a 56meg download from intuit.com. If you lose a hard drive, you can just to Intuit and download it again.

Paul cautioned listeners that when they throw their laptops into a bag, be sure to first disconnect the peripherals (hard drives, USB sticks, etc.). Otherwise, the force of the bag on the connectors can damage them. The Mac has a magnetic connector that just slides off if there’s an unusual force put on it. Glenn said he had found an adapter that plugs into the lightning port of the iPhone that provides a similar magnetic connection. He’s been very happy with it.

Next, Paul talked about inductive charging (wireless charging). The standard that was developed a number of years ago is called Qi. <Discussed on the 11-16-14 show.> Of the iPhones, Glenn thought only the iPhone 10 has inductive charging.

The way it works is that there’s a coil in the phone an one on the your table that’s plugged in to the wall socket, and you place the phone on the coil to get the charge. Paul’s Nexus tablet <circa 2013> has the ability to charge inductively. It charges at low frequency (less than 60Hz, he thought) and the field doesn’t go very far. He has to position the tablet directly on the coil.

Alan Stahler, who hosts Soundings, came into the studio and raised some philosophical issues about how much we need computers. He facetiously questioned Glenn and Paul, what will you do when the bubble bursts and people throw away their computers. Paul noted that those of us from the pre-computer generation were more likely to have been educated in critical thinking. He thought it wasn’t being cultivated in this digital age, and without computers, the younger generations would be in trouble.

Paul said the 1st use of word ‘computer’ applied to women who computed trajectories of NASA missions. He’s seen a competition between someone using an abacus and someone using a calculator. The abacus user won.

Talk turned to multitasking and parallel processing. Paul described most modern processors as having at least 2 cores and at least 2 sets of hyper threads, giving you 4 jobs going on at once. There’s also a hardware arbitrator that decides who should be given what to do, and the jobs run in parallel.

The guys rambled on about how some people are tactile, others are visual and how we learn. On a previous occasion, the 3 guys discussed how dogs learn and how it’s possible to breed dogs not just for their appearance but also for their attributes (hunting skills or digging skills). Paul once asked a dog trainer how dogs are trained and got the reply that you don’t train the dog, you cultivate what it already has.

Glenn said Elon Musk <of Tesla> announced some new products. There are 2 different tractor trailers with a 500 mile range, recharge to 85% in 35 minutes or 100% in an hour and have a low drag coefficient. There’s also a roadster with a 600 mile range, accelerates 0 to 60 in 1.2 seconds and possibly an accessory to make it fly.

KVMR’s news director Paul Emery came into the studio. He was motivated by the question about our computers going away. He noted that neutron bombs can destroy silicon chips by inducing high currents in them. He’s heard that the highest levels of the US government have vacuum tube communication systems that don’t contain silicon chips. A neutron bomb may temporarily knock out a tube but it will return to a functional state. Alan said that a couple of decades ago a Soviet pilot defected with a fighter aircraft and it was discovered to have tube-based circuits.

Alan mentioned the Hyperloop, which is a container carrying passengers that rides in an evacuated tube to cut air resistance. Supposedly, it could travel as fast as a 747. It’s being tested now.

On that note, it’s been calculated that a 747 with a full load of passengers while flying at a high altitude has mileage as good (miles per gallon) as a compact car with 1 person. Paul noted that if you double the speed at which a car goes, the air resistance quadruples.

Paul mentioned that energy of motion can be conserved and then used again. Years ago in Britain, trams (streetcars) going downhill would have their kinetic energy harvested and converted to electricity, which helps to slow it down. The electricity would then be used to power a tram going uphill. The conversion is not 100% efficient. Hybrid vehicles, like Glenn’s car, do something similar. When slowing down, they convert the energy of the braking process to charge the battery, giving it great mileage

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

He also said that there will be no Flea Market tomorrow.

Last Updated 12:07 AM 11-23-2017

Nov 8, 2017

Nov - 08 2017 | no comments | By

Honda Civic– Troubleshoot?!

Raspberry PI Computer SOC

IOS 11.. OK?

Drone Fun



Additional notes

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.


Both Paul and Glenn were in the studio today.


Paul was looking at the wrong entry in the list of the shows because of the recent time change over to Standard Time. He went on to explain that the date we move our clocks forward or back has been changed a number of times over the years, and that there are differences between countries in the date that the change occurs. He went on to say that midsummer day and midwinter day occur midway between a solstice & the following equinox. <I believe these are also called cross-quarter day>

The operating systems we use today reference a data base called “tz data” to know when it’s time to change the computer’s clock to comply with the local custom, no matter where you are in the world.

Glenn thanked new and continuing members of KVMR. <If you’re not yet a member, you can call the office number at 530-265-9073 and make a contribution.>

Paul talked about an incident he had with his 1996 Honda Civic while driving back from Yuba City last weekend up highway 20, which involves a significant accent. He heard a hissing sound coming from under the hood and the temperature gauge went to the top — no alarm or warning lights. He pulled over & checked under the hood to find the expansion tank had water in it. The tank is supposed to let the water back into circulation when things cool down, but it didn’t in this case.

There were a couple of clues as to what was going on. The radiator cooling fan wasn’t running because there was likely no water to set off the fan’s thermostat. Second, when he turned on the heater, there was no heat. By some process yet to be discovered, the engine had consumed all of the coolant. He blamed the thermostat and bought another one for $10 and that seemed to solve the problem. The thermostat doesn’t allow the coolant into the radiator when you first start a cold engine. It waits for the coolant to reach the running temperature before opening up. Paul said that, from now on, before venturing out, he will check not only the expansion tank but also the radiator to be sure there’s adequate water.

The guys took several minutes to chat about transportation. There was nothing particularly interesting. The main takeaway is that when you relieve congestion in one place and it shows up in another. And that Google Maps keeps suggesting routes to avoid traffic only to have those routes become congested.

For the past couple of weeks, Glenn said he’s been getting emails from Judicial Watch but the sender address shows they are from zen at kvmr dot org or fleamarket at kvmr dot org. He asked Paul how to get them to stop.

Paul said Google can be set up to deal with this. “You notify google” … “so that Google actually knows who’s supposed to be sending email.” Check out the Wikipedia article about SPF — sender policy framework. “It sets a policy from the places from which you can reasonably expect to get email while excluding everywhere else.” He said he needs to see a copy of the emails to determine what’s going on.

Glenn said the emails enticed him to click on a link and he warned listeners, as he’s done many times before, not to click on such links. Among other possible mischief, it will at least let the spammers know there’s someone reading the emails and they can sell your email address to other spammers.

Glenn said he got a call last week from what the caller ID identified as his own phone number. It was a recording supposedly from AT&T that asked him for the last 4 digits of his social security number. Sensing an obvious scam he hung up. Paul said he would have been tempted to respond with some fake numbers.

Dennis called to comment on traffic congestion. He said he’s worked for the railroad for almost 2 decades. He lamented that our country is dedicated to the auto — an auto economy. He said in only 7 years, the Chinese went to high speed rail system. He said the rail system in Europe is phenomenal. He worked in Southern California where General Motors and the tire companies who wanted to sell diesel buses gutted the rail system. Paul added that it’s the tyranny of convenience that makes us choose the ease of driving somewhere over dealing with train schedules.

Dennis also commented about the spam situation. He said he has 2 emails. One is for personal acquaintances. The other is for subscribing to websites, newsletters and such. He said he routinely unsubscribes to spam and berates them if they ask him to leave a comment.

Paul said he thinks Gmail is the best email service for filtering out spam. And if they get enough people reporting a spam, their algorithm will block it.

Paul talked about using throwaway Gmail addresses. He said to google the words: infinite number of gmail addresses, and you’ll find how to make your single Gmail address act as many addresses. <Later in the show, Paul searched the words: gmail infinite addresses.> It involves using a ‘+’ symbol. If your address is johnsmith@gmail.com you can use mr+johnsmith@gmail.com for a throwaway address. <From what I found, the + should come after, not before the normal name — johnsmith+mr@gmail.com. Check the webpages here and here for more info.>

Paul also said that if you own a domain like finerailroad.com, you can redirect mail that’s sent to something like info@finerailroad.com to a Gmail address and you will inherit the spam proofing provided by Gmail. Similarly, you can get Gmail to pickup your Yahoo mail and it will also be spam filtered. He didn’t go into details.

Paul warned users of Gmail to be sure to set up a backup email address in case you loose access to your account. The backup address could be another email of yours on another system or that of a friend. At Gmail there is no customer service to contact for help; the backup email address is crucial.

Rick called about a problem he has with his 2.5-year old desktop HP computer running Windows 10. One day he tried to get online and it “failed to get into Windows.” He got a blank screen instead of the home screen, only the pointer was working. It happened after he tried to login with the Chrome browser. But it also goes black without running Chrome.
– Paul said Windows 10 makes maintenance a bit more difficult to do than earlier versions of Windows.
– Search for the words: hp windows 10 recovery mode. This is a mode that lets you repair the system.
– Paul suspected that a video driver is the problem and that the machine needs an update or upgrade.
– Paul said he’ll get back to Rick. And if he learns more, he’ll post it to the Zentech website.

Glenn reminded listeners that they can email the guys at zen at kvmr dot org with questions or suggestions.

Last Updated 11:52 PM 11-8-2017

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