Author Archive: Scott Woeckel

Printing Selected Pages using Preview – MAC OSX

Using our new print system here at Pepperdine can be a bit of a challenge at times. Particularly if you just want to print a few pages of a word document.

Since the web interface for printing requires PDF files to print, you may find yourself looking for an easy way (any way?) to print selected pages without buying an expensive copy of Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Luckily for MAC users, there is a simple way to accomplish this, by utilizing the thumbnail view from within the Preview Application.

With a document open in preview, select the Thumbnail view in the side bar. Command-click  the page thumbnails you would like to select for printing. Conversely, you can Command-click to deselect a page as well.

Once all desired pages have been selected, you will click File > Print from the menu bar, and chose the Selected Pages In Sidebar option. Using the PDF drop down menu, you will now create a new PDF of your selected pages for printing.

You will be prompted to name the file,  I suggest giving the file a unique name, and saving the file to your desktop so it’s easy to find and upload to the file server at print.pepperdine.edu.

For more information on printing to the Sharp Copiers please go HERE. If you would like to see this process in action please find a brief video walkthrough on preparing select pages for printing utilizing MACOS’s Preview Application.

Turnitin

Turnitin is a plagiarism detection service that Pepperdine School of Law faculty may use when you submit a paper for grading. This service provides a detailed assessment of originality on any submitted work by performing a search for textual similarities to other works in academic journals, on the Internet, and within its own database of submitted work. For more information visit the University’s Turnitin Community page.

If you are required to use Turnitin you will need to complete the following steps: (1) enroll in the course and (2) submit your work. If you have never used Turnitin before, you will also need to create a free account. This can be done through the home page on their web site.  Watch the video below for step-by-step instructions on how to enroll in a course and submit your work.

Product Review: INTEX Cables

Recently, I received a nice surprise in the mail, a cable made by INTEX cables located in Carlsbad, California. As a technologist, and musician, I’ve reviewed a lot of products over the years but rarely does one stand out from the pack. Especially when it comes to cables.

photo-3

INTEX 9-foot, 1/4 cable.

According to their website, INTEXcables are completely hand made from the finest components here in the USA. All connector parts are made of solid metal, from the brass Military Spec connector & custom engineered shell to the plated spring steel stress relief spring. All cables are made with Belden 8412, an industry standard microphone cable for over 30 years. No compression or crimping is used to attach cable to connector, INTEXcables are welded insuring the strongest and most durable connection possible.

I’ve been making my own cable for years based on audio guru Paul Rivera‘s specifications, which basically favor Mogami or Beldon wire and Neutrik or Switchcraft plugs, both being very good wire and plug combinations. I’ve had to make my own, as commercially sold wire and plugs usually do not meet this criteria (ie. generic wire, generic plugs; or good wire with generic plug). The problem with this is cables generally endure a significant amount of abuse, and inevitably there will be a short, or a bad connection at the plug end, or the plug itself can become damaged from repeated use and ordinary wear and tear. As a musician and technician, I’ve become accustomed to carrying several spares, as I know as good as my cable is it will fail eventually. Here’s a general side by side of an INTEX, Monster Cable, and Generic plugs:

photo-8

Side by side comparison

INTEX has created the best solution I’ve seen to date to solve the the weakest point in a signal wire, and that is at the connection. Notice how the Monster Cable is bowed and the cable shielding bubbling near the connector? That’s not a good sign! The Generic below is also bowing, but to get the rubber shielding off the plug would likely break the solder work in the process.

photo-7

Side by side, interior view.

Here’s another side by side showing the inner workings of the INTEX cable, and the Monster Cable. Notice how loosely the Monster Cable is wired compared to the solid wiring of the INTEX cable? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way bashing Monster Cable. The way they do it is simply the way most all cable makers have done it all along. The good news is INTEX has innovated the weak point where the wire meets the plug, and I find that ingenious. INTEX plug design starts with a Swichcraft PJ047 military grade plug which is welded to a steel spring shielding that allows for flexibility, without sacrificing durability.

photo-1

INTEXcable Swtichcraft Military Grade Welded Plug

Then, the wire leads are firmly mounted with flat screw connections that resist heat, involve no crimping, and insure the purest connection resulting in near zero signal degradation.

Jean-Marc du Mouchel, the founder of INTEXcables, has over 30 years experience as a highly trained and skilled electrical engineer working as an independent contractor for Synergetics, Emerald Systems Corp., ACI Medical, and NASA, to name a few. His company INTEXcable has been hand-making these cables since 1978, and are being used by numerous companies, and discerning performing artists.

419829_10150574217587283_1655699394_n

INTEX Pro AV Installation.

I contacted Jean-Marc to discuss his product offerings, and to my delight he can custom make just about any configuration you wish. Inquiring about XLR cables he said, “We do make XLR cables with a slightly different wire. For a mic cable, I would use Belden 8423, the same exact cable but with an extra conductor. I do have a killer design for a new XLR connector but I don’t know how much time it will be before I offer it as a commercial product”.

167836_487406732282_4875963_n

INTEX Custom Engraved Shell

At the end of the day, as an audio professional, you want to be able to depend on your cables. I put the INTEX cable I was sent through the wringer. It’s been with me on every event, and show I have worked over the past few months. It’s be stepped on, pulled on, twisted, and spilled on. We even tried to break the welds with a tug-o-war, and it simply wasn’t going to break. In addition to creating what is, perhaps, the world most durable audio cable INTEX also offers custom branding on it’s plug shells, and a limited lifetime warranty against defects and workmanship. This cable isn’t just built to last, it’s built for a lifetime of rugged use.

Technical Specifications

  • Capacitance between conductors = 98 pf/M (30 pf/ft)
  • Jacket thickness = 0.89mm (0.035 in)
  • Conductor AWG = 20 (26 X 34)
  • Conductor material = ETP high-conductivity copper (99.95% pure copper). The high purity obtained from ETP copper results in microphone cable performance that is comparable to that of oxygen-free copper cables
  • Insulation & outer jacket material = EPDM Rubber (Ethylene Propylene Diene Rubber)
  • Operating temperature range = -50 deg. C to +90 deg.C (-58 deg. F to 194 deg. F)
  • Maximum recommended pulling tension = 45.45 Kg (100 lbs)
  • Minimum bend radius (install) / minor axis = 70 mm (2.750 in)
  • EU ROHS Compliance = 01/01/2004
  • Nominal inductance = 0.055 uH/M (0.18 uH/ft)
  • Nominal conductor DC resistance @ 20 deg. C = 32 ohm/1000M (10.6 ohm/1000ft)
  • Nominal outer shield DC resistance @ 20 deg. C = 13.7 ohm/1000M (4.5 ohm/1000ft)
  • Hand-soldered using quad eutectic solder
  • All-metal connector assembly
  • Connector and cable welded together

 

People Hacking, a True Story…

In the everyday life of a computing professional, everything we do, implement, or design is done with utmost attention to security. Be it installing anti-virus and malware software to protect computers from remote intrusion, or physical locks and cables to prevent theft of devices, security is a big deal when it comes to computer systems and securing personal data. However, there is no malware software package when it comes to people, and there is no intrusion detection system to tell you when someone contacts you pretending to be someone they really aren’t.

Kevin Mitnick Author of “The Art of Deception”

Normally when people think of “hackers”, they think of the Hollywood image of some whiz kid typing 200 lines per second of code in an effort to gain access to some super computer for illicit purposes, such as that portrayed by Matthew Broderick in the classic movie WarGames. In reality “hacking” is merely the act of exploiting a vulnerability, or a weakness in a system in an attempt to gain access to something they ordinarily would be restricted from. In his book “The Art of Deception” famed hacker turned security consultant Kevin Mitnick describes social engineering as the key tool he used in his exploits. According to Greene (2003), “At age 12, Mitnick used social engineering to bypass the punchcard system used in the Los Angeles bus system. After a friendly bus driver told him where he could buy his own ticket punch, he could ride any bus in the greater LA area using unused transfer slips he found in the trash. Social engineering became his primary method of obtaining information, including user-names and passwords and modem phone numbers.”  More recently terms such as phishing, or vishing have come into vogue, but it all amounts to the same thing. Someone trying to deceive another into believing they are someone else, be it a utility worker trying to gain access to your physical home, or a credit card company calling to ask you for your pin for identification purposes, or someone spoofing an e-mail in an attempt to pass themselves off as you!

Recently I was contacted by an agency about a security pin I had requested via a phone call, and subsequent e-mail. The problem was, I had requested no such credentials, and upon further investigation had realized someone was using my name, spoofing my email address, and using my business affiliations as a part of a social engineering hack. Thankfully, those whom were the targets of the hack had their suspicions about the request, and the hack was ultimately unsuccessful. However, it could have turned out very differently had one individual not questioned the authenticity of the request.

We all have been programed to be helpful, and especially within the context of providing customer service, or allow people to “do their jobs” sometimes we don’t critically look at the situation and take people at their word. We take it for granted that the fellow wearing the red hat, and a fireman’s outfit really works for the fire department.  This is the heart of the social engineering exploit, and the reason why it works a good enough percentage of the time that people will still use it.

Typical social engineering and phishing attacks today occur by e-mail. Most people have become savvy enough to spot obvious phishing attempts, but not all, and depending on the drive or the sophistication of the attacker, some of these spoofed emails and website links can look quite genuine. Here are a few tips that may help you recognize a phishing attempt via email:

  • Check both the ‘To’ and the ‘From’. If they both have the same address-person-name in them, it is a phishing email.
  • If the email tells you to open an attachment, don’t,  especially if the attachment name ends in .pif .exe .bat .asp or .scr.
  • If you see a hyper link in the body of the email, do not click it. You can use your cursor to hover over the word/link to see where the address leads, generally it is not someplace you want to go.
  • If you get a suspicious email from a friend, call them and ask them if they sent you that email to verify it’s legitimacy.
  • Never respond to an offer of money in exchange for personal information. If you have a rich uncle in Nigeria, I’m sure you were well aware of it prior to receiving an e-mail alerting you that you are the sole heir to his fortune.
  • Some phishing emails can look quite genuine, so as a matter of best practice always navigate directly to the websites of businesses contacting you. Banks and businesses will never email you asking for your passwords or credentials. 
  • Use your internet browsers anti-phishing measures (Firefox, Safari, and internet explorer have them). Using these features will alert you if you do follow a link in a phishing email and warn you if the site is fraudulent.

The phone is a powerful tool for someone seeking to gain information for illicit purposes. They may make several phone calls in an effort to pick up corporate lingo, spoof telephone numbers, and even find out what music is played in your institution when on hold! They may pretend to be law enforcement, or vendors seeking details about systems and infrastructure. Best practice is to always get the number of the agency, and verify that number and agency before calling them back. Never offer anyone’s personal information, or discuss company details with someone you haven’t verified to be who they say they are over the phone, and that includes your own.

In conclusion, be wary and be wise. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t take things at face value. If you have any doubt whatsoever about the authenticity of a person requesting information from you via phone, email, or in person DO NOT feel that you have a responsibility to answer their questions without getting yours answered first to your satisfaction. And even then, be wary, be wise, and be well.

 

References

Greene, Thomas C. (January 13, 2003). “Chapter One: Kevin Mitnick’s story” Retrieved from: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/01/13/chapter_one_kevin_mitnicks_story/

 

Apple Maintenance 101

In Basic Mac Maintenance 101, I’ll be covering some basic tips and maintenance you MUST perform periodically to ensure your mac continues to operate at peak performance. These sleek beasts boast some of the nicest looking and performing hardware, but it’s helpful to understand that, at it’s core, the OSX operating system is simply a sleek graphical user interface (GUI) controlling the powerful UNIX Mach Kernel that lies right beneath the surface. That being said, having some understanding of the “UNIX way” of doing things can shed some light on why these tasks need to be accomplished to keep OSX firing on all cylinders. Today we will talk about permissions.

In the same way traditional UNIX based systems do Mac OS X assigns specific access privileges, known as permissions, to all of your programs, folders, documents, and files. These permissions are generally managed automatically, but when a permission errors occur, they can cause significant problems. Applications may not launch, your computer might respond slowly, or in the worst case, may not boot up at all. These problems are most likely to occur after you update your operating system or install new software, or move files to location folders without the proper permissions for applications to access them.

The proactive, and reactive solution to this dilemma is to repair disc permissions. In order to accomplish this you will want to launch your Disc Utility application located in Applications/Utilities Folder/Disc Utility.

“Pro-tip: There is no need to run the “verify permissions” which will you show you which permissions are incorrect, but not repair them. This is helpful for diagnostics, however, it takes about the same amount of time to repair as it does to verify. Simply click repair, and you can save yourself some time completing this basic  maintenance task.”

Once you have launched the Disc Utility application, open the First Aid tab (should be open by default) and simply click “Repair Disc Permissions.” This will compare the current permissions status of files, folders, and applications against what they should normally be, and “repair” any deviant permissions to their prescribed status.

When the permission repair runs, you will see output in the application window showing you exactly what permissions are incorrect, and what they should be. Once disc utility has completed it’s repair, it’s best to  close the application, and restart your computer, to allow the system to begin utilizing the new permission structure. If your mac has been behaving a little sluggishly, you may be surprised at how easily this little maintenance step can quickly perk your system right back up. For best results, utilize the permissions repair after every application installation, and after every software update to prevent symptoms, from bad permissions settings, getting out of hand.

Product Review: Dropvox

There’s good news for iphone & ipad users looking for a simple and effective way to record, store, and share  audio from your iDevice. Dropvox from Irradiated Software allows iDevice users to easily record high quality audio straight to your personal dropbox. Set up is  very straight forward, enter your dropbox credentials, and you are ready to record!

Of all the products I’ve tested for recording and sharing voice memos via iphone, Dropvox has been the most user friendly, and is extremely reliable assuming you have a strong internet connection. The only major drawback of this product is that without a strong network connection, be it 3g, 4g, or wifi, you will lose your recording if dropvox is used with no connection. On the flip side, however, dropvox eats up no additional space on your iDevice storing hard copies of the recorded files.

So if you are an iDevice and dropbox user, Dropvox is a powerful addition to your tool set. You can capture lectures, create podcasts, record meetings, perhaps memoires for a new book your writing. Whatever the purpose, dropvox offers a simple way to to record, store, and share your recordings as you see fit. At a cost of $2.00, I’d say that’s money well spent.

 

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0.2 or later.