techtiptom

Tech Tip Tom, formerly of WIBC 93.1FM and wibc.com

Ford SYNC

ford_sync_logo

Ford SYNC is a factory-installed, integrated in-vehicle communications and entertainment system that allows users to make hands-free telephone calls, control music and perform other functions with the use of voice commands. The system consists of applications and user interfaces developed by Ford and other third-party developers, and runs on the Windows Embedded Automotive operating system designed by Microsoft.

Ford first announced the release of SYNC in January 2007 at the Detroit International Auto Show.   SYNC was released into the retail market in 2007 when Ford installed the technology in twelve Ford group vehicles (2008 model) in North America.

The Ford SYNC technology was promoted as a new product that provided drivers with the ability to operate Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones and digital media players in their vehicles using voice commands, the vehicle’s steering wheel, and radio controls.

Later, new technology was added to SYNC in which text messages received by the driver are “vocalized” by a digitized female voice device named “Samantha”. SYNC’s text message function also has the ability to interpret approximately one hundred shorthand messages, such as “LOL”, and will read “swear words”, but does not decipher acronyms that have been considered by the designers to be “obscene”.

I purchased a Ford Escape over the weekend, and must say that SYNC is very nice.
I press a button on the steering wheel, say “Call Barry’s cell”; and SYNC makes the
call via its Bluetooth connection to my phone…

SYNC has various mobile-integration capabilities, including “Push to Talk” on the steering wheel, wireless transfer of contacts between a mobile phone and the on-board phone book, as well as various advanced calling features, such as caller ID, call waiting, conference calling, a caller log, a list of contacts, a signal strength icon, and a phone battery charge icon. Personal ring tones can also be assigned to identify specific callers.

Some of the applications include:

 911 Assist

The 911 Assist application places a direct call to a local 911 emergency operator in the event of a serious accident with an air bag deployment. Before initiating the emergency 911 call, SYNC will provide a 10-second window to allow the driver or passenger to decide whether to cancel the call. If not manually cancelled within the 10-second window, SYNC will place the emergency call. A pre-recorded message will play when the call is answered, and occupants in the vehicle will then be able to communicate directly with the 911 operator.

Vehicle Health Reports

After setting their personal preferences online, users can access free car reports at any time using SYNC. This feature was released with SYNC version 2.0. All SYNC owners have access to upgrade to this version…

Facebook updates could cost young people jobs, study finds

Facebook updates could cost young people jobs, study finds

ByDara Kerr /CNET/ May 30, 2013, 3:02 PM

Ashley Payne didn’t know that a festive photo of her holding both a pint of beer and a glass of red wine would lead to her losing her high school teaching job.

The 24-year-old educator posted the image to her Facebook profile, and after a parent complained, school officials told Payne she’d have to choose between resigning and suspension, according to IOL News. She resigned.

If those same school officials were hiring and found a candidate with a similar photo shared on the social Web, it’s most likely that person wouldn’t even get an interview.

According to a new report, turning down young job candidates because of what they post on social media has become commonplace. The report, by On Device Research, states that 1 in 10 people between ages 16 and 34 have been turned down for a new job because of photos or comments on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social networking sites.

“If getting a job wasn’t hard enough in this tough economic climate, young people are getting rejected from employment because of their social media profiles and they are not concerned about it,” On Device Research’s marketing manager Sarah Quinn said in a statement.

Ten percent of young people said they knew they were rejected from a job because of their social media profiles, yet 66 percent of young people still don’t seem to care that these profiles may affect their career prospects. The majority of young people cater their social media presence to friends rather than potential employers, according to On Device Research.

Quinn says that better education on how social media can affect employment is needed to ensure young people aren’t making it even harder to excel in their careers.

Several U.S. states have created laws to protect employees from being fired because of what they post on social media. In January, six states officially made it illegal for employers to ask their workers for passwords to their social media accounts.

It’s unclear how many employers have demanded access to workers’ online accounts, but some cases have surfaced publicly and inspired lively debate over the past year. In one instance last year, a teacher’s aide in Michigan was suspended after refusing to provide access to her Facebook account following complaints over a picture she posted.

As for Payne, even though she ultimately resigned, she since has sued the school to get her job back or receive monetary damages, according to IOL News.

On Device Research surveyed 17,657 people, ages 16 to 34, in China, India, Nigeria, Brazil, the U.S., and U.K.

On Device Research

This article originally appeared on CNET under the headline “Facebookers, beware: That silly update can cost you a job.”

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Unix Tips & Tricks

Here are a few pieces of Unix wisdom, picked up over the years…

You’ve done something that has completely screwed up your terminal. Everything you type is either invisible or incomprehensible. Try the following:

    $ ^C
    $ stty sane^J

If this doesn’t work, try:

    $ echo ^V^O

To determine what program dumped an anonymous core file, use gdb:

    $ gdb -core core
    [...]
    Core was generated by `a.out'.
    Program terminated with signal 6, Abort trap.
    [...]

If you are on a system without gdb, try the file command:

    $ file core
    core: ELF 32-bit LSB core file of 'a.out' (signal 6)
    $

To create a vi macro that will wrap the current paragraph to a reasonable number of characters, add the following to your .exrc or .vimrc file:

    map Q {!} fmt -c -u^M

Now, when you press ‘Q’ in visual mode, the current paragraph will be wrapped to approximately 70 characters.

Due to the Unix concept of sparse files, you can create seemingly enormous files that in reality take next to no disk space. The following program will create a 305,419,897 byte file called ‘core’ that may result in you receiving a ‘cleanup’ email message from a less-than-seasoned Unix sysadmin even though it occupies virtually no real disk space.

    $ cat bigcore.c
    #include <fcntl.h>
    #include <unistd.h>

    int main(void) {
        int fd = open("core", O_CREAT|O_WRONLY|O_TRUNC, 0600);
        lseek(fd, 0x12345678, SEEK_SET);
        write(fd, "1", 1);
        close(fd);
        return 0;
    }

    $ cc -o bigcore bigcore.c
    $ ./bigcore
    $ ls -l core
    -rw-------  1 dmr  staff  305419897 May  1 03:50 core
    $ du -k core
    48      core
    $

On older Unix systems, in particular those that don’t support MD5 password hashing, only the first 8 characters of a password are significant. If you use an 8 character password on these systems, you can type anything you want after the first 8 characters and it will be accepted by login. This allows you to type the first 8 characters of the password as usual, then have some fun. Enter a bunch of crap at superhuman speed, then enter the last few characters with your elbow. Then press backspace twice carefully and retype the characters with your other elbow. Etc….

When recursive copying, cp (cp -Rip, etc.) may not be the best tool for the job. For example, cp copies hard links as separate files, which is probably not what you want. To get a true copy of a directory, try:

    $ tar cf - <dir> | (cd <destdir>; tar xf -)

This will create an exact copy of ‘dir’ in ‘destdir’. The same principle can be used to create a recursive copy on a remote machine:

    $ tar cf - <dir> | ssh remotehost "(cd <destdir>; tar xf -)"

To list the files in another directory that match more than one pattern, it is easiest to do:

    $ ls -l /usr/local/foo/{*.conf,*.local,*.rc}

which is equivalent to:

    $ ls -l /usr/local/foo/*.conf /usr/local/foo/*.local /usr/local/foo/*.rc

This syntax is supported by (at least) bash, ksh, csh and sh.

You can extend this idea to make renaming files in another directory, for example, a little easier:

    $ mv -i /usr/local/foo/bar/baz/{stuff,stuff~}

A little insurance against running ‘rm -rf *’ in the wrong directory — create an empty file called -i in any critical directory:

    $ >-i

or…

    $ touch -- -i

If the ‘rm -rf *’ command is issued in that directory, the shell will expand the ‘-i’ early on and go into interactive mode, thus giving you a chance to say ‘Whoa, that was close!’, which always sounds better than ‘Oh fsck!’.

This tip works because the -i option to rm will override any previous -f.

Be forewarned that this tip only protects against ‘rm -fr *’, i.e., files and directories in the current directory.

To remove the -i file (or any other file beginning with ‘-‘):

    $ rm ./-i

or…

    $ rm -- -i

To return to the previous directory in ksh or bash, use:

    $ cd -

To use the last argument of the previous command line as an argument, use $_. For example:

    $ ls -l /usr/home/dmr/somefile
    $ vi $_

To make the up and down arrow keys work and thereby enable command line editing and recall in ksh, include the following lines in your ~/.profile:

    set -o emacs
    alias __A='^P'
    alias __D='^B'
    alias __B='^N'
    alias __C='^F'
    alias __H='^A'

You need to enter the actual control characters ^P, ^B, etc.

Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage

babbage Biography

Charles Babbage was born in London on December 26, 1792 (3), the son of Benjamin Babbage, a London banker. As a youth Babbage was his own instructor in algebra, of which he was passionately fond, and was well-read in the continental mathematics of his day. Upon entering Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1811, he found himself far in advance of his tutors in mathematics.With Herschel, Peacock, and others, Babbage founded the Analytical Society for promoting continental mathematics and, reforming the mathematics of Newton, then taught at the university.

In his twenties Babbage worked as a mathematician, principally in the calculus of functions. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, in 1816, and played a prominent part in the foundation of the Astronomical Society (later Royal Astronomical Society) in 1820. It was about this time that Babbage first acquired the interest in calculating machinery that became his consuming passion for the remainder of his life.

Throughout his life Babbage worked in many intellectual fields typical of his day, and made contributions that would have assured his fame irrespective of the Difference and Analytical Engines.

Prominent among his published works are:

  • A Comparative View of the Various Institutions for the Assurance of Lives (1826); an actuarial paper,
  • Table of Logarithms of the Natural Numbers from 1 to 108, 000 (1827),
  • Reflections on the Decline of Science in England (1830),
  • On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures (1832),
  • Ninth Bridgewater Treatise (1837),
  • and the autobiographical Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (1864).

Babbage occupied the Lucasian chair of mathematics at Cambridge from 1828 to 1839. He played an important role in the establishment of the Association for the Advancement of Science and the Statistical Society (later Royal Statistical Society).

Despite his many achievements, the failure to construct his calculating machines, and in particular the failure of the government to support his work, left Babbage in his declining years a disappointed and embittered man. He died at his home in Dorset Street, London, on October 18, 1871.

Computer Pioneers: Howard Hathaway Aiken

aiken_howard3Achievement

Invented/developed the Mark I

Biography

Howard Hathaway Aiken was born March 8, 1900 in Hoboken, New Jersey. However he grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana where he attended the Arsenal Technical High School. {My High School!}   After high school he studied at the University of Wisconsin where he received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. During college Aiken worked for the Madison Gas Company; after graduation he was promoted to chief engineer there.

In 1935 Aiken decided to return to school. In 1939 he received a Ph.D. from Harvard University. It was while working on his doctoral thesis in physics that Aiken began to think about constructing a machine to help with the more tedious tasks of calculations. Aiken began to talk about his idea and did research into what could be done. With help from colleagues at the university, Aiken succeeded in convincing IBM fund his project.

The idea was to build an electromachanic machine that could perform mathematical operations quickly and efficiently and allow a person to spend more time thinking instead of laboring over tedious calculations. IBM was to build the machine with Aiken acting as head of the construction team and donate it to Harvard with the requirement that IBM would get the credit for building it. The constructing team was to use machine components that IBM already had in existence.

It took seven years and a lot of money to finally get the machine operational. Part of the delay was due to the intervention of World War II. Officially the computer was called the IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator but most everyone called it the Mark I. After completing the Mark I, Aiken went on to produce three more computers, two of which were electric rather than electromechanical.

More important than the actual computer (whose major purpose was to create tables), was the fact that it proved to the world that such a machine was more than just fancy, it was a practical purpose machine. Perhaps more important than the invention of Mark I was Aiken’s contribution to academia. He started the first computer science academic program in the world.
Aiken retired from teaching at Harvard in 1961 and moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He died March 14, 1973 in St. Louis, Missouri.

History of Mother’s Day

mothers_dayEARLY CELEBRATIONS 

Some historians believe that the earliest celebrations of Mother’s Day was the ancient spring festival dedicated to mother goddesses. The ancient Greek empire had a spring festival honoring Rhea, wife of Cronus and mother of the gods and goddesses. In Rome there was a Mother’s Day-like festival dedicated to the worship of Cybele, also a mother goddess. Ceremonies in her honor began some 250 years before Christ was born. This Roman religious celebration, known as Hilaria, lasted for three days -from March 15 to 18.

ENGLAND’S MOTHERING SUNDAY 

England’s “Mothering Sunday”, similar to Mother’s Day,  also called Mid-Lent Sunday, is observed on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Some say the ceremonies in honor of Cybele were adopted by the early church to venerate the Mother of Christ, Mary. Others believe the Mother Church was substituted for mother goddess and custom began to dictate that a person visit the church of his/her baptism on this day. People attended the mother church of their parish, laden with offerings.

Also in England in the 1600’s, young men and women who were apprentices or servants returned home on Mothering Sunday, bringing to their mothers small gifts like trinkets or a “mothering cake”. Sometimes frumenty was served – wheat grains boiled in sweet milk, sugared and spiced.

In northern England and in Scotland, the preferred refreshments were carlings – pancakes made of steeped pease fried in butter, with pepper and salt. In fact, in some locations this day was called Carling Sunday.

Another kind of mothering cake was the simnel cake, a very rich fruit cake. The Lenten fast dictated that the simnel cake had to keep until Easter. It was boiled in water, then baked, and was often finished with an almond icing. Sometimes the crust was of flour and water, colored with saffron.

JULIA WARD HOWE

In the United States, Julia Ward Howe suggested the idea of Mother’s Day in 1872.
She wrote her Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870.

Julia Ward Howe, a Boston poet, pacifist, suffragist, and author of the lyrics to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” organized a day encouraging mothers to rally for peace, since she believed they bore the loss of human life more harshly than anyone else.

THE FIRST MOTHER’S DAY

The first Mother’s Day observance was a church service honoring Mrs. Anna Reese Jarvis, held at Anna Jarvis’s request in Grafton, West Virginia, and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 10, 1908.

Carnations, her mother’s favorite flowers, were supplied at that first service by Miss Jarvis. White carnations were chosen because they represented the sweetness, purity and endurance of mother love. Red carnations, in time, became the symbol of a living mother. White ones now signify that one’s mother has died.

OFFICIAL PROCLAMATION

The House of Representatives in May, 1913, unanimously adopted a resolution requesting the President, his Cabinet, members of Congress, and all officials of the federal government to wear a white carnation on Mother’s Day. Congress passed another Joint Resolution May 8, 1914, designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. The U.S. flag is to be displayed on government buildings and at people’s homes “as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” President Woodrow Wilson issued the first proclamation making Mother’s Day an official national holiday.

Juliet Calhoun Blakeley

On May 13, 1877, the second Sunday of the month, Juliet Calhoun Blakeley stepped into the pulpit of the Methodist-Episcopal Church and completed the sermon for the Reverand Myron Daughterty.

According to local legend, Daughterty was distraught because an anti-temperance group had forced his son to spend the night in a saloon.

Proud of their mother’s achievement, Charles and Moses Blakeley encouraged other to pay tribute to their mothers.

In the 1880’s the Albion Methodist church began celebrating Mother’s Day in Blakeley’s honor.

OTHER MOTHER’S DAY OBSERVANCES 

The first Mother’s Day proclamation was issued by the governor of West Virginia in 1910. Oklahoma celebrated Mother’s Day that year as well. By 1911 every state had its own observances. By then other areas celebrating Mother’s Day included Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, South America and Africa. The Mother’s Day International Association was incorporated on December 12, 1912, with the purpose of furthering meaningful observations of Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is celebrated in many countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and Belgium. The day is used by children and husbands to honor mothers and grandmothers for all that they do in raising children.

Converting cassettes to MP3s

cass2mp3

Converting cassettes to MP3s

So, in an effort to clean up my home office; I have been converting VHS tapes to DVD’s….  Then I discovered all the old cassettes of presentations I gave (and the tapes from the Karaoke bars!)…  Decided to convert those to MP3 files and get rid of (read, destroy!) the old tapes..

But how to do it??  Using my trusty search engine, I found many ways ( and costs) to accomplish this…

Of course, my favorite is free!  I already have the software Audacity, a free, open-source application available on Mac, PC, and even Linux.
I use it for my audio blogs and voice-over work…  So it was a simple matter of connecting the output from a cassette deck to an input on my PC.

I record an entire side in one pass using Audacity. Then, I divide and batch export tracks as MP3 files..  Finally, I can burn audio CD’s; or store to DVD’s for hysterical purposes..

It is a little bit of work, but it’s free, and it’s faster than most methods I’ve seen. It’s also not dependent on anyone’s for-profit software solution.

I will pay for software when it is the best for the job; but if open source is available and comparable, it’s for me!!

Samsung ATIV S

ativ

Specifications

OS = Windows Phone 8

Display = 4.8” HD Super AMOLED (Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode)

Processor = 1.5 GHz dual-core processor

Memory = 16/32GB User memory + 1GB RAM,  microSD (SDXC support)

Battery = Standard battery, Li-ion 2,300mAh

Video = Codec: H.263, H.264, WMV, MP4, M4V, MOV; Full HD(1080p) Playback & Recording

Camera = Main(Rear): 8 Megapixel Auto Focus Camera with LED Flash; Sub(Front): 1.9 Megapixel VT Camera Has Bluetooth, USB, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 & 5 GHz),  Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Channel Bonding

OK, my thoughts on this device:  For a business phone, I felt this was a great fix.  Yes, a “smart” phone, with all the apps you need; especially Pocket Office. Word, Excel, etc. Using a microSD card I opened a Word document with ease. I wouldn’t want to draft or do much editing on the phone; but being able to read a doc is handy. The microSD slot is rated up to 32GB – added to the built-in 16GB mass memory, this is plenty of memory.

But it also has the X-Box app, for the gamer community… Or so I thought! I enjoyed checking out X-Box Music, X-Box Video, and reluctantly X-Box Games. I am not really a gamer.

Call quality on the Samsung ATIV S has very good loudness but somewhat mediocre clarity…  Very sharp display; this handset is a close clone of the Galaxy S III…

And watching videos was nice…  I used SkyDrive to  copy in a few videos; very easy. And I took MetroTube for a ride (from the Windows Phone Store) which worked very well. I also tested Outlook.com e-mail; which integrated with my office e-mail perfectly; including my calendar. Drove a few co-works bonkers when the ATIV S, my iPhone 5, and my iPad 3 all reminded me of meetings and such all at the same time!

Overall, I enjoyed this handset; although I found myself comparing it to the Galaxy and the HTC Windows Phone 8X.

boston

Belkin WeMo

belkin-wemo-Sensor_w_Plug

The Belkin WeMo is a home automation gadget that acts as a digital go-between. It works as a Wi-Fi-enabled adaptor for your lamps, televisions, irons; anything that has a plug.

You then connect it to your Wi-Fi network and it allows you to control the device plugged into it;  via an app on your Apple or Android-powered smartphone. I download the free app to my iPhone 5 and used it to turn on a light at my home while I was away.

Worked nicely!  I had connected to my neighbor/friends security camera via the Web; and then I watched the light turn on and off!

The WeMo also comes with a motion sensor as well..  I tested it: Turned the lights on when the motion sensor was activated; so I didn’t fall face first into the fridge!

The WeMo is safe, good-looking, easy to use, off-the-shelf hardware that you don’t need to hack to get it to automate your home.

Anything that has a plug can now be controlled via your smartphone. I played with turning the  lamp on and off when I set it up at home. And speaking of set-up: it’s possibly the easiest gadget to get going I have ever seen.

The motion sensor is great. It sets up the same way as the standard plug and you can use it to trigger events around your house. I set it up in my hallway, and set a rule that said if it detected motion activated after 11 pm it would trigger the light. Of course, I didn’t think about the dog setting it off…  Once I put the sensor up higher I was ready…  Forgot I set it up when I got up in the middle of the night; got quite a scare!

This is a fast, relatively inexpensive way to build your smart home…..  I recommend it; wish I didn’t have to give back the demo!