AS HEARD ON: WGAN – Using Older Software – WordPerfect – Voting Machine Concerns Nationwide – Should I Install Latest Apple iOS Updates: AS HEARD ON – The WGAN Morning News [02-28-18]

On This Episode…

Did you know that people still use some of the older word processors? Craig spoke with Ken this morning about his use of one of these.

What is the best kind of voting technology? Craig spoke with Ken and Guest Host Andy Smith about voting and voting technology and the controversies surrounding it.

Do you regularly do your computer updates? Craig talked about the latest Apple update and the importance of updates.


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Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.


Airing date: 02/28/2018


Using Older Software – WordPerfect – Voting Machine Concerns Nationwide – Should I Install Latest Apple iOS Updates



Craig Peterson: [00:00:00] Hi everybody. Craig Peterson here. Good morning. Actually I’m not sure when you’re listening to this. We have people who listen in the morning when they’re driving to work. In fact I got a great comment from a listener just last week about this and said he made or I made his drive to work bearable. So I’d love to hear that sort of thing. I’d love to hear from you. Are you listening to it at work, at the gym, in the evening, in the morning? I’d love to hear. Just let me know. 855-385-5553. Easy enough to do. Just go ahead and send me a text and tell me. Morning, afternoon, at the gym, etc.. Kind of fun to hear those sorts of tales. Well today I was talking with our friend Ken Altshuler and Andy Smith was in cover and for Matt Gagnon this morning. And we talked about a few things that’s kind of fun because before the show started Ken and Andy were talking about how Ken preparers all of his legal briefs using WordPerfect. Ok. I almost said WordPress there. So with WordPerfect and the court, what happened? And he was saying that the judge loves it because that way he sees it come in because of the font that Ken uses. He knows he should just go ahead and deny whatever it is Ken is asking for because he says I can see it from a mile away because of the formatting and the font that Ken uses. So we had a little fun talking about WordPerfect and even Wordstar and kind of comparison to today’s Microsoft Word and it was kind of fun. We also got into the voting machine controversy and quite a bit of depth here. Some of these New England states, mine as well as Maine. They’re using paper ballots that are scanned electronically. Well Andy was actually involved in a recount. So we got information from Andy about recounts and how these types of voting machines are actually probably the best tradeoff. And we also talked about the latest Apple updates because Ken reflexively installs the latest software all of the time. And in the Apple world that’s usually not a bad idea although lately. Well that’s right. Talked about. So here we go with Ken and Andy this morning as we spoke with the state of Maine. Actually parts of Canada as well and New Hampshire and Mass. Here we go.


Ken Altshuler: [00:02:24] And this 737 on the WGAN Morning News. Ken also with Matt Gagnon is gone for the day. Andy Smith is subbing for him. Good morning Mr. Smith.


Andy Smith: [00:02:34] A pleasure to be with you Ken as always.


Ken: [00:02:36] Mr. Smith goes to WGAN, that’s all I can say.


Andy: [00:02:38] He just  goes to South Portland.


Ken: [00:02:40] And we’re pleased to welcome in as we do on Wednesdays right around this time. Our tech guru Craig Peterson. And you can go to, get all his information, his e-mails, his newsletters. Everything else you could want. Good morning to you Craig.


Craig: [00:02:54] Hey good morning. By the way this is Ken Altshuler, the only guy left in the United States or America that still uses Courier Farm.


Ken: [00:03:02] Yes well actuallyit’s Courier New.


Andy: [00:03:06] As opposed to the old.


Ken: [00:0207] Not just Courier font. It’s Courier New.


Craig: [00:03:09] So we’re not talking about the fonts that was on the old mechanical typewriter. The ones where the arms swung up. We’re talking about the one that was invented only papers now, 50 years ago?


Ken: [00:03:20] Exactly, exactly. By the way we also talked of the fact that I still use WordPerfect I don’t use Word.


Craig: [00:03:27] Well, you know that’s a big deal. A lot of lawyers are that way because of course way back when in the last century that’s what lawyers were using. First before that I really loved the Wordstar. That was my favorite.


Ken: [00:03:41] I knew Wordstar. You know what I had Wang computer and it used Wordstar. And I was a Wordstar user as well.


Andy: [00:03:50] Yeah, that was the function key days. There’s no way. Man, I’d drop that like a hot potato.


Ken: [00:03:57] But once you’ve memorized it it wasn’t hard. I mean once you memorize it you can do it.


Craig: [00:04:02] Yeah. With Wordstar, it was mostly control characters. It was before function keys. The WordPerfect had the function keys. Wordstar does not. And it was very, very fast. You could edit extremely quickly. Today Emacs which is like total geek out and I have been for 20 years.


Ken: [00:04:16] What is it that?


Craig: [00:04:18] Emacs?


Ken: [00:04:20] Never heard of it.


Craig: [00:04:2] It’s an editor primarily used by programmers down in the kernel. And when I would port a version of Unix the first thing I do is get EDI working and I’d use EDI to get the VI working and I use VI to get Emacs work. If Emacs work, I new the port of Unix to a new platform was complete.


Andy: [00:04:39] You do a lot of word process in that I guess, Craig.


Craig: [00:04:44] No.


Ken: [00:04:44] Why still use WordPerfect? I just find the WordPerfect is so easy to edit and to see the review codes and stuff. When I do Word I just you know I mean they said I’ll get a document and then I modified and all of a sudden it highlights it. And in the end have it’s got A, B and C and one, two, and three and I don’t know how to turn it off and it’s very sensitive.


Andy: [00:05:06] It’s the lack of knowledge Ken.


Craig: [00:05:07] Yeah, yeah. Well he’s untrainable I think he already established that Andy right.


Andy: [00:05:12] Not to be, wouldn’t be the first.


Ken: [00:05:15] Exactly. So let’s talk a little bit about politics. State elections officials are now kind of returning to paper ballots is this because they’re scared of the old Russkies, Craig?


Craig: [00:05:25] Yeah. Yeah. Well it’s a real problem. I’ve been yelling about this forever because if you have an electronic anything you have a lot of potential problems. You know you mentioned the Russkies and a potential hacking. Right. But let’s add to that the fact that someone has to define the borders. Where a checkmark, what it means where it’s located on the page? Even worse if it’s completely electronic what does it mean when they touch this part of the screen? How do you audit? Is the audit trail software correct? Is the loading software correct? Is any of this correct? You know you download a new release of almost any software and there’s problems. We had cars that could not be sold because the anti-collision software was steering them into the Jersey barriers in the middle of the road.


Andy: [00:06:21] That’s kind of like an election you know Ken. You could just steal that election and give the jersey barricade the like. And I know Craig I have the misfortune I guess to do a recount. A large recount here in Maine and we use paper ballots right. And they’re electronically counted in a optical scanner right so you get that. But you know if there’s anything.


Craig: [00:06:43] Which I like. It’s a nice compromise, Andy.


Andy: [00:06:46] It’s awesome because I got to tell you when you did the recount you pulled out all those paper ballots as cumbersome and clunky and you know old school as it was, if anybody ever had a question about democracy in Maine, that would solve it for you. Super. I mean it was like utterly clear people looking at a piece of paper. And if there was an ambiguity well then you’d have a discussion. But I mean it restored it’s restorative of your faith in democracy.


Craig: [00:07:14] It’s a beautiful thing it’s a piece of genius frankly to do it that way because you do have that paper ballot you know you fill it in with that little felt pen right. And for the most part you can see it now. Remember it’s still counted electronically so you can, by the way, and they do. And Andy that might have been what you were involved with but you can spot check these machines make sure their accounts are correct. You know when these ambiguous ballots can get tossed out people can look at them. But there are states out there that are using touch screens running Windows XP. Are you kidding me?


Andy: [00:07:53] Ken uses that I think. If not you know Windows 3.1 maybe.


Ken: [00:07:57] Exactly.


Craig: [00:07:59] Yeah well it runs WordPerfect so well you know.


Ken: [00:08:01] Exactly.


Craig: [00:08:03] But they’re still using that old software on the hardware with no audit trail at all. At best most of these machines have a little paper tape like you know you’d get your receipt from the grocery store, thermal tape that may or may not actually be printing. And we’ve seen cases where they put the paper in backwards you know upside down. So guess what it doesn’t print right? Because it doesn’t have the thermal active side to it. It’s nuts. It’s nuts. It’s nuts.


Andy: [00:08:33] You can’t keep up with it. I think that’s the trick right. It’s the problem with all software, all cyber security. And voting machines are worse because you know it’s proprietary. It’s the only precinct booth that’s going to make a change would be for you and not having paper. That’s the way to do it.


Craig: [00:08:49] Yeah it’s expensive to make changes. You look at avionics to change one line of code is estimated to cost about a million dollars. And you know how about these voting machines? It’s not going to cost as much as avionics.


Andy: [00:09:07] Well, no. The government paying for it? No. It would never cost that much.


Craig: [00:09:09] Look at toilet seats and hammers, you know. It would be pretty darn cheap. I’m sorry Andy I kind of overlooked that part. But the, you know having any sort of custom code causes problems. Non custom code has bugs. Even though the main machines here in Maine are air gapped. Ultimately those machines are vulnerable to problems if not out and out attacks.


Andy: [00:09:35] We already know about air gapping right. How’d that work out with the Iranians and their centrifuges?


Craig: [00:09:41] Yeah. Just drop a few little USB drives around the coffee shops and see what happens. Yeah absolutely. Which is by the way how our CIA got the viruses into the air gapped machines inside Iran’s nuclear program.


Andy: [00:09:56] And by giving out free copies of WordPerfect.


Ken: [00:10:00] That would improve it. We’re talking to Craig Peterson by the way. Our tech guru. Not to change the subject but being somewhat of a liberal myself I was delighted to find other conservative Twitter users are losing thousands of followers. Are they finally coming over and seeing the light Craig?


Craig: [00:10:18] Yeah that’s probably exactly what’s happening Ken. Yeah. We know, again we were just talking about software right? And software is written by people and people have biases. It’s just like the news you know. How do you decide which story’s worth covering? You have a bias. I have a bias, right? Everyone has a bias and that bias filters things on the news even though you may not consciously be trying to be you know from the conservative side or the liberal side or libertarian or whatever it might be. You are at least subconsciously making decisions when you’re evaluating things. So let’s look at Twitter. Twitter’s gotten caught up in the middle of this whole Russian mess and they’re saying hey, listen you know I was part of our effort to make things better. We’re going to block some of these bots. So if you’re a programmer how do you figure out which account is a bot and which accounts is not a bot. Well it looks like what ends up happening, whether this was conscious or not, is that Twitter’s code that was trying to suspend accounts for robots were looking at people. Anyone that sounded like a Russian bot. In other words Russian bots. Great. Some of them supported Hillary. Some of them are against Hillary some of them supported Trump. Some of them are against Trump. Really what the Russians appear to have been trying to do is just create confusion right here. Ultimately what they did is they were suspending a lot more conservative accounts and legitimate ones.


We have people who have been complaining now that their account got suspended. They lost thousands of followers. Some of the bigger guys who are out in the conservative realm have lost tens of thousands of followers. And so now they have to appeal to Twitter and Twitter is going through and trying to figure out what happened. But anyone that said anything that programmers at Twitter and the management considered controversial had a substantial chance of losing followers and losing their accounts entirely. So again even though you’re trying to program mistakes come in biases come in. And in this case we had conservative Twitterers losing thousands of followers.


Ken: [00:12:40] We’re talking to Craig Peterson, our tech guru who joins us Wednesdays at 7:38. So before we let you go, I have on my Mac, I’m seeing this little sign that says I have to update to iOS 11.2.6. Should I be doing that?


Craig: [00:12:58] Yeah. It depends. I think you should wait. Apple has decided now because of a pushback from the developer community. They’ve decided they’re going to go to a two year release cycle. They’ve been trying to do a one year release cycle on major software releases on the Mac. And they seem to be backing off on the iPhone and iOS as well because the software quality has dropped. It’s not as bad as Microsoft but it’s dropped OK. And this latest release I have not installed it. It has some people are calling surprises in there which are basically bugs right. We were hoping we’d see the fix for the whole battery dilemma. Fix I don’t know if that’s the right word but where it was slowing down your phone if you had an older battery that apparently is not coming out for a little while yet. That whole you can control it yourself rather than us make your phone slow to devalue your phone. But I wouldn’t install it yet. The bugs seem to be focused around the battery in the latest version of iOS. So I would just skip this particular one. There don’t appear to be any major security updates that are involved. And you know they’re pulling up the socks over at Apple but they’re not up high enough yet. We need to get to a flood level before I’ll feel comfortable.


Ken: [00:14:20] That’s right. Joining us. Our tech guru joins us every Wednesdays at 7:38. Thank you. We’ll talk to you next week.


Craig: [00:14:28] Gentlemen take care. Nice to meet you Andy.


Andy: [00:14:30] Good talking to you.


Ken: [00:14:32] And they fascinating. You I know. I just automatically always download updates. I just always do that.


Andy: [00:14:40] I tell people if you have like complex software you’re running then you probably should wait. Like if you’re a business. You have customized software. These updates can break them and so you have to be virtuous. But I tell people particularly the consumer grade or the very small business grade you don’t know what you’re exposing yourself to. Most of those updates are written in blood. You know they’re not just like new features or whatever. There’s usually security issues.


Ken: [00:15:09] If I don’t upgrade that that will always be there saying I’ve got to upgrade.


Andy: [00:15:12] Well they’re telling you that you’re at risk and so I mean Craig’s right. Maybe it’s going to do some snakey things and it’s bad. Generally they’ve tested it enough for the most the average user. Most the people listening this show. I would never let it leave you.

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