CES 2016

logo-ces-20161There’s a reason the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is in Vegas every year…things look more real, better on the stage…you get entertained no matter where you turn.  Once the stage show ends you go home, wake up the next morning with a throbbing head and wonder what you were thinking.  There were some fantastic concepts, ideas, products shown at this year’s show.  There were some good ones.  There were some you-gotta-be-kiddin stuff.  But best of all you got to see what was going to be real 3-5 years from now.  This year it’s obvious we’ve got a lotta work ahead but damn it’s gonna be good, it’s gonna be fun.

andy100x150WebHeadAndy Marken is President of Marken Communications and has been involved in the marketing of storage technology for more than 25 years. His experience includes work with Panasonic, Verbatim, Matsushita, Plasmon, Nikon, Mitsubishi Chemical, OWC, NewerTech and a number of storage/solution manufacturers.
Andy can be reached at  andy@markencom.com.

Droning On

man controlling a droneDRONES are the hot consumer product of the year, and 2015 saw an explosion in automation software that made the devices easier to fly and easier to control. (Wired) Anyone you know get a drone for Christmas? The FAA estimates that up to one million new drones will be entering U.S. airspace after the holidays. Many of the new pilots will be beginners. Among the most pressing concerns is the risk all those buzzing projectiles pose to manned aircraft and the Federal Aviation Administration has been scrambling to come up with regulations to ensure the safety in the air. (Tech Republic, ZDNet)

At our General Meeting on January 13, 2016, Manie Kohn will return to SPAUG and talk about advances in drone technology and the regulations affecting them.

Manie Kohn has been the center of National Media attention as the FIRST Trained, Certified and Fully Insured Drone Pilot in the USA, a pioneer in introducing sUAV technology safely and thoughtfully into the commercial space and enjoys a reputation as a trusted “Best Practices” consultant, sharing his journey including evolving regulations, risk management concerns and opportunities.

In addition to the featured talk, there will be two Technical Presentations:

computers for everyone logoComputers for Everyone (CFE) was established to enable the underserved communities of East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park to access the digital world through affordable education, equipment, connectivity, and support. Founder Court Skinner will talk about this organization and the services they provide.
[Read more…]

bng_website_30_3xBNGMobeam, Inc is a Palo Alto company providing an app (Beam N’Go) which allows smartphones to communicate reliably and securely with all the world’s laser scanners. Venky Raju, CTO of Mobeam will do a demo of their barcode emulation technology. [Read more…]

Agenda for the meeting is:

  • 5:30 PM NO-host dinner, Bistro Cafe
  • 7:00 PM Registration
  • 7:15 PM Business meeting
  • 7:25 PM Technical Presentation, Court Skinner
  • 7:40 PM Technical Presentation, Venky Raju
  • 7:55 PM Coffee Break
  • 8:15 PM Presentation, Manie Kohn
  • 9:00 PM Adjourn

The meeting will be held at the Palo Alto Elks Lodge, 4249 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All members and guests are invited to attend a NO-host dinner prior to our general meeting. Dinner will be at 5:45 PM at The Bistro located on the ground floor of the Elks Lodge.

Laptop and Smartphone Security and Privacy

UPDATED: September 27, 2015

There is no single solution for keeping yourself safe online. Digital security isn’t about which tools you use; rather, it’s about understanding the threats you face and how you can counter those threats. To become more secure, you must determine what you need to protect, and whom you need to protect it from. Threats can change depending on where you’re located, what you’re doing, and whom you’re working with.

At the September 2015 General Meeting SPAUG hosted a CryptoParty. Rhona Mahony and Daniel Roesler  talked about risks to security and privacy that people face from government agents, their ISP, their telephone company, and other business people.

For an introduction to the topic go to the Surveillance Self-Defense project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Rhona and Daniel discussed the use of several helpful tools, such as

  • HTTPS Everywhereor Privacy Badger  HTTPS Everywhere is a free and open source web browser extension for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera.  Many sites on the web offer some limited support for encryption over HTTPS, but make it difficult to use. For instance, they may default to unencrypted HTTP, or fill encrypted pages with links that go back to the unencrypted site. The HTTPS Everywhere extension fixes these problems by using clever technology to rewrite requests to these sites to HTTPS.  It automatically makes websites use the more secure HTTPS connection instead of HTTP, if they support it.  
  • Signal and TextSecure for encrypted texting (smartphone)
    Signal is a free and open-source encrypted voice calling and instant messaging application for iOS. It uses advanced end-to-end encryption protocols to secure all communications to other Signal users. Signal can be used to send and receive encrypted instant messages, group messages, attachments and media messages. TextSecure is an advanced end-to-end encryption protocol as well as a free and open-source encrypted instant messaging application for Android which uses that protocol.
  • Tor, the anonymous browser (laptop).
    Tor is free software for enabling anonymous communication. The name is an acronym derived from the original software project name The Onion Router. Tor directs Internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer network consisting of more than six thousand relays to conceal a user’s location and usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis.
    and
  • A password manager such as KeePass, Last Pass or 1Password to facilitate the use of strong passwords.
    Safe practices on the internet require that you use multiple long and strong passwords which are hard to break and also hard to remember. Password vaults allow you to generate strong passwords and store them in an encrypted file under a single master password. They also allow you to store other sensitive information.

rhona-mahony-webRhona keeps bees, has twins in high school, lives on the Stanford campus, and enjoys teaching CryptoParties.  She likes Linux, sawdust toilets, blogging, and backpacking.

Living Through the 20th Century

SPAUG General Meeting – August 12, 2015

UPDATE: This is a continuation of the talk from the July 8, 2015  meeting which was interrupted by the birthday party for our former SPAUG Treasurer, Nat Landes.  He will describe for us many of the changes in technology and computers he has seen in the course of his lifetime.

Legion of Honor presented to Nat LandesIn World War II Nat served in the U.S. Army as an artillery officer in Europe, battling he Nazis through France and into Germany. It was called “the Good War”. Should it be? “I think war should be avoided at all costs. “You’re going to sit down and talk anyhow. You might as well sit down and do it before the war. War is hell to everybody. Even the victors are hurt.” (The Almanac recently published a full story of his war experiences.)  Nat was recently awarded the French Legion of Honor for his service.

After his army service, with a degree in Civil Engineering, he moved with his family to Woodside and worked as a contractor and land developer. He served for 10 years on the Woodside Town Council, including 4 years as Mayor. Nat joined SPAUG in 1990 and served for many years as Treasurer.

The meeting will be held at the Palo Alto Elks Lodge, 4249 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. Meeting registration starts at 7PM in the Lodge room on the second floor. The featured talks begins at 7:30PM.

All members and guests are invited to attend a NO-host dinner prior to our general meeting. Dinner will be at 5:45 PM at The Bistro located on the ground floor of the Elks Lodge.

A Slice of Pi

Over the past 10 years we have seen a burgeoning interest in small microprocessor boards which can be programmed using a variety of software. They are being used by engineers for prototyping, by artists and by “do-it-yourselfers” for a wide variety of projects from music synthesizers to robotics. It is almost a “return to the future” similar to the early years of computing in the 1970’s.

Two of the most popular units have been the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi. Costs are in the $25-$50 range and much of the software is open source, making them easily accessible to students, experimenters and professionals alike. Microsoft has recently announced that there will be versions of Windows 10 available for both the Arduino and Raspberry Pi 2.

Maurice Green will describe the Arduino and Raspberry Pi systems and then demonstrate the installation and programming of a Raspberry Pi.

Tips and Tricks

In addition to the featured talk, this month’s meeting will include short talks by three of our members:

  • Android Smartphone Overview (Christie Bilikam)
  • Introduction to Google Docs (Stan Hutchings)
  • Using Irfanview for Your Images (John Sleeman)

The meeting will be held at the Palo Alto Elks Lodge, 4249 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. Meeting registration starts at 7PM in the Lodge room on the second floor. The featured talks begins at 7:30PM.

All members and guests are invited to attend a NO-host dinner prior to our general meeting. Dinner will be at 5:45 PM at The Bistro located on the ground floor of the Elks Lodge.