Show of 7-28-2007

  • Email Forum Question
    • Dear Tech Talk. I need a computer for going back to school. What do you think of used computers?.especially a used laptop? John
    • Tech Talk answers
    • With computer prices dropping so dramatically, used computers are less attractive
    • Remember that the used computer does not come with software, so you will have to add that to the purchase price.
    • Refurbished machines are a good option for saving money. You can get them from the big box computer stores or from Dell online.
    • I have seen refurbished laptops for as low as $399 at Microcenter
    • Since you are a student, make certain to purchase academic software.
  • Profiles in IT: Raymond Samuel Tomlinson
    • Website: www.raytomlinson.org
    • Born in Amsterdam, NY in 1941, he invented email in 1971 at age 30.
    • He received a BS from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1963 and an MS from MIT in 1965 where he developed an analog-digital hybrid speech synthesizer.
    • He wrote his first computer program in 1960 as an intern for IBM
    • In 1967 he joined the technology company of Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN).
    • During the summer and autumn of 1971, he was part of a small group of programmers who were developing a time-sharing system called "TENEX" that ran on Digital PDP-10 computers, which serves as node in the ARPANET.
    • Earlier, he had worked on the Network Control Protocol (NCP) for TENEX and network programs such as an experimental file transfer program called CPYNET.
    • He was making improvements to the local inter-user mail program called SNDMSG.
    • The idea occurred to him that CPYNET could append material to a mailbox file just as readily as SNDMSG could.
    • It remained to provide a way to distinguish local mail from network mail.
    • He appended an @ sign and the host name to the user’s (login) name.
    • The first message was sent between two machines that were literally side-by-side.
    • His pet peeve: email versus e-mail. The hyphen should be dumped!

    Games: Man versus Computer

  • Chess ? Computer wins usually
    • In chess, checkers and backgammon, every contest starts the same way, then evolves through an enormous, but finite, number of possible states according to a consistent set of rules.
    • With enough computing power, a computer could simply build a tree with a branch representing every possible future move in the game, then choose the one that leads most directly to victory.
    • That’s essentially the strategy IBM’s Deep Blue computer used to defeat chess champion Gary Kasparov in their famous 1997 match.
    • No computer can calculate every single possible move in a chess game, but today’s best chess programs can see an astounding 18 moves ahead.
  • Checkers ? Computer will never lose. Best move always known.
    • After 18-and-a-half years and sifting through 500 billion billion (a five followed by 20 zeroes) checkers positions, Dr. Jonathan Schaeffer and colleagues have built a checkers-playing computer program that cannot be beaten.
    • Completed in late April this year, the program, Chinook, may be played to a draw but will never be defeated.
    • The results of this research are published today in the academic journal Science.
    • With the help of some top-level checkers players, Schaeffer programmed heuristics ("rules of thumb") into a computer software program that captured knowledge of successful and unsuccessful checkers moves.
    • Then he and his team let the program run, while they painstakingly monitored, fixed, tweaked, and updated it as it went.
    • An average of 50 computers?with more than 200 running at peak times?were used everyday to compute the knowledge necessary to complete Chinook.
    • If Chinook’s opponent also plays perfectly the game would end in a draw.
  • Poker ? Man still in the lead barely
    • Phil Laak and Ali Eslami, two poker players from Los Angeles ranked as the world’s best, prevailed against a program named Polaris by just 570 points in the fourth and final game in the match.
    • Rows of weary-looking computer scientists and a few spectators watched the grueling poker battle as it stretched on until 11 pm last Tuesday.
    • When the humans won, the room erupted in cheers.
    • The previous three games over two days resulted in one draw and one win each for humans and the machine.
    • Darse Billings, a one-time professional poker player, was lead architect of the Polaris team at the University of Alberta.
    • Polaris showed scientists that it is possible for a computer to do well at the essentially psychological game of poker.
  • Another Cell Phone Bites the Dust
    • My cell phone died last week.
    • This is my third cell phone in less than a year.
    • First two suffered water damage (beach and washing machine)
    • Fortunately I have replacement insurance.
    • I had backed up my contact list so I just restored it the new phone.
    • Now I have to hack my new phone so I can upload ring tones and wallpapers.
    • Software required
      • Motorola Phone Tools
      • Motorola Programming Tools
      • Programming Hacks from cellcables.com
  • Installed Windows Base to Reach 1 Billion
    • Microsoft has sold 60 million copies of Windows Vista this year, more than the entire installed base of Apple.
    • Total number of MS operating system should reach 1 billion Windows users by the end of the fiscal year
    • According to Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, "There will be more PCs running Windows in the world than there are automobiles.?
  • Impact on Technology on the Young
    • While young people embrace the Web with real or virtual friends and their cell phone is never far away, relatively few like technology and those that do tend to be in Brazil, India and China, according to a survey.
    • Only a handful think of technology as a concept, and just 16 percent use terms like "social networking," said two combined surveys covering 8- to 24-year-olds published on last Tuesday by Microsoft and Viacom units MTV Networks and Nickelodeon.
    • "Young people don’t see "tech" as a separate entity – it’s an organic part of their lives."
    • "Talking to them about the role of technology in their lifestyle would be like talking to kids in the 1980s about the role the park swing or the telephone played in their social lives — it’s invisible."
    • The surveys involved 18,000 young people in 16 countries including the UK, U.S., China, Japan, Canada and Mexico.
    • Terms most frequently used by the young when talking about technology related to accessing content for free, notably "download and "burn."
    • The surveyors found the average Chinese computer user has 37 online friends, Japanese children have one. The global average is five online friends.
    • Indian youth are most likely to see cell phones as a status symbol
    • One-in-three UK and U.S. teenagers say they cannot live without games consoles.
    • The key digital device for Japan’s young is the cell phone because of the privacy and portability it offers those who live in small homes with limited privacy.
  • Toy for Kites ? Great Beach Activity
    • Line Climbers
      • Kite Poppers ($25) ? 32? diameter, moves up string, collapses, drops to bottom
      • Lifesaver Parachute Kit ($6) ? move up string, drop parachute when reach the top.
      • Make your own (Google kite messengers) or just use paper with slit and hole
    • Lights
      • Glowire ? Electroluminescent wire, driven by a regular 9-volt
    • One website with line climbers and lights: www.intothewind.com
  • Bits and Bytes ? More than You Really Want to Know
    • bit = 0 or 1 (off or on)
    • Byte = 8 bits
    • KiloByte = 2**10 = 1,024 Bytes
    • MegaByte = 2**20 = 1,024 kBytes
    • GigaByte = 2**30 = 1,024 MBytes
    • TeraByte = 2**40 = 1,024 GBytes
    • PetaBypte = 2**50 = 1,024 TBytes
    • ExaByte = 2**60 = 1,024 PBytes
    • ZettaByte = 2**70 = 1,024 EBytes
    • YottaByte = 2**80 = 1,024 ZBytes