Show of 11-24-2007

  • Email and Forum
    • Email form Tom Dimeo: Hi again Dr. Shurtz, I was rather astounded that on your last program you devoted so much time to the issue of blind computer users and the CAPTCHA problem, and, that you did so much research into it. Don’t know if it was of interest to others but I appreciated all your information.  Sometimes we blind folks getting annoyed at having to adapt to a sighted world but we have so much more access to information now than we ever had even eight or ten years ago.  I’ll be listening to your program again on Saturday.  Hope you get around to talking a little about the hundred and ninety-nine dollar computer.  Probably not something I’d be interested in purchasing but I always enjoy hearing and reading reviews on hardware. Tom Dimeo
    • Tech Talk Answers: The inventor of the gPC wanted to make a computer that was Google applications centric. He built the machine around that specification. (See segment below.)
    • Email from Peggy Lucero: Dear Dr. Shurtz. You indicated on the November 17 show that people with this knowledge and training are going to be in demand soon. How do I get trained in this? Thanks, Peggy Lucero
    • Tech Talk Answers: Federal agencies must use the next-generation Internet service known as Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6) by June 2008. You can learn this in several ways. IPv6 is the lastest protocol called TCP/IP upon which the Internet is based. It was developed in 1973.
    • Stratford includes IPv6 in all of its networking courses, including Data Communication.
      • You can go to Cisco Systems to review best practices in router configuration. Search for Cisco Systems IPv6 to locate case studies and best practices.
      • I would recommend reading: A Profile for IPv6 in the U.S. Government ? Version 1.0, Recommendations of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Special Publication 500-267, February 22, 2007 (http://www.antd.nist.gov/usgv6-v1-draft.pdf)
      • I would also read IETF RFC 2460 – Internet Protocol, Version 6 (IPv6) Specification (http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc2460.html)
      • Email from Emily: Dear Dr. Shurtz. I loved your segment on the Internet for the visually impaired. What about speech recognition to help with data entry. Are there any good options for me. Thanks. Emily.
    • Tech Talk Answers: The best speech recognition software is Dragon Naturally Speaking 9. The preferred version is $185. The standard version $85. Speech recognition is also included with Windows Vista. Its reportedly as good. However, that is not my experience. The feature of Dragon that I really like its ability to analyze your document folder for a list of likely words you will use. This greatly increases the accuracy of the speech recognition. IBM’s ViaVoice 10 is decidedly less effective. However, it is does not requires much computer power and may be good enough for older machines.
    • Email from John: Dear Dr. Shurtz. During normal operation or in Safe mode, my computer plays "Fur Elise" or "It’s a Small, Small World" seemingly at random. I can’t get rid of this problem. What should I do?
    • Tech Talk Answers: This is an indication sent to the PC speaker from the computer’s BIOS that the CPU fan is failing or has failed, or that the power supply voltages have drifted out of tolerance. This is a design feature of a detection circuit and system BIOSes developed by Award/Unicore since 1997. Although these symptoms may appear to be virus-like, they are the result of an electronic hardware monitoring component of the motherboard and BIOS. You may want to have your computer checked or serviced.
  • Profiles in IT: Jeff Bezos
    • Jeffrey Preston Bezos was born January 12, 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
    • He is the founder, president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Amazon.com.
    • Bezos was born when his mother, Jackie Bezos, was still in her teens. Her marriage to his father lasted little more than a year.
    • She remarried when Bezos was five. Bezos’s stepfather, Miguel Bezos, was born in Cuba; he migrated to the United States alone at age 15 and worked his way through the University of Albuquerque.
    • At an early age, he displayed a striking mechanical aptitude. When a toddler, he dismantled his crib with a screwdriver.
    • Bezos showed intense and varied scientific interests at an early age. He rigged an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings out of his room and maintain his secrecy.
    • He converted his parents’ garage into a laboratory for his science projects.
    • Jeffrey spent most summers of his youth working with his grandfather on the family’s 25,000 acre Texas ranch.
    • Bezos attended River Oaks Elementary in Houston from the 4th to 6th grades.
    • The family moved to Miami, Florida, where Bezos attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School.
    • He entered Princeton University, planning to study physics, but soon returned to his love of computers and graduated with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering.
    • After graduating from Princeton, Bezos worked on Wall Street in the computer science field.
    • Then he worked on building a network for international trade for a company known as Fitel. Later on Bezos also worked in computer science for D. E. Shaw & Co..
    • Bezos founded Amazon.com in 1994 and became one of the most prominent dot-com entrepreneurs.
    • Bezos was named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year in 1999.
    • In 2006 his salary was $81,840 (unchanged since 1998), plus $1.1 million in other benefits.
    • Bezos’ wealth is primarily derived from his holding of Amazon.com stock At the end of 2006 he held just over 100 million shares of common stock, representing 24.26% of all Amazon.com shares.
    • At a value $81 per share, he is now worth around $8.1 billion.
  • Amazon’s Kindle vs. Sony’s Reader
    • Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader
    • Kindle’s has industrial look. It is too expensive ($400). It is awkward to use.
    • However, will it define our book future?
    • The only other player in this game is Sony’s Reader. Both use the same E-Ink display technology which has a paper like look.
    • The unit has the same screen as Sony’s Reader, but Kindle is much, much larger overall–longer, wider, and more than twice as thick.
    • It is 10.4 ounces vs. 9 ounces for the Sony.
    • Kindle includes a keyboard to aid in searching stored content and browsing the Kindle e-book store.
    • Also, Kindle seems to be pretty much limited to a vertical (portrait) orientation; there’s no mention of landscape mode in the user guide.
    • Kindle’s design has a "cursor bar," a tall, skinny display alongside the main one that works with a scroll wheel to select on-screen menu options.
    • Kindle connects to the Internet Sprint’s EV-DO cellular data network…and to shield users from all the complexities of that service.
      • It’s called "Amazon Whispernet.?
      • Customers don’t have to maintain a separate cell phone account; there are no bills.
      • The cost of browsing Amazon’s Kindle e-book store is covered by Amazon; download costs are built into the price of the books, newspapers, blog feeds, and other services available from Amazon.
    • Amazon has lot more books than Sony. It is selling new releases at $9.99, compared to about $16 for Sony.
    • Amazon even keeps track of your purchases so you can download them again later if you have to replace or re-initialize your Kindle for some reason.
    • If you do have a PC, you can transfer files via USB. There’s also an SD card slot.
    • Kindle natively supports only a few different file types. However, more are coming.
    • The biggest limitation is the Kindle’s user interface, which relies on a scroll wheel to move a cursor in a single line up and down.
  • Cooking and Simple Food Technology
    • How not to overcook the white meat and still have the dark perfect. Use a temperature gradient. Let the turkey sit out at room temperature with an ice pack on the white meat.
    • How to avoid lumpy gravy. Gravy is a mixture of fat, flour, and meat juices. Flour is composed of protein (from the wheat germ) and the starch (from the food that surrounds the wheat germ). Starch is what thickens the gravy. At 160F, the starch combines with the fat and expands rapidly to thicken the gravy.
    • My favorite food science book: On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee, Copyright (1984, 2004), ISBN 0-684-80001-2
  • Cell Phone Jammers — Illegal Yet Popular
    • The jamming technology is not new, but it´s becoming increasingly popular on buses, in restaurants, and in movie theaters.
    • The device works by sending out a powerful radio signal that overwhelms cell phones so that they cannot communicate with cell towers.
    • Upon activating a phone jammer, all idle phones will indicate "NO NETWORK."
    • Incoming calls are blocked as if the cellular hand phone were off.
    • Can be purchased from several companies
      • http://www.phonejammer.com/
      • Portable cell phone jammer (battery operated) – $149 and $219
      • Low, High Power Cell Phone Jammer Fixed — $195 and $295
      • Adjustable High Power Cell Phone Jammers — $395 and $415
      • Ultra High Power Cell Phone Jammers — $1449 and $3995
    • However, using the jammers is illegal in the US, since the radio frequencies used by cell phone carriers are legally protected by the government, similar to the protected frequencies used by television and radio broadcasters.
    • Cell phone companies spend tens of billions of dollars to lease the frequencies from the government, and expect protection from infringement.
    • According to a recent article in the New York Times, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) warns that people caught using cell phone jammers could be fined up to $11,000 for a first offense.
    • FCC investigators have special technology of their own that can detect the jammers.
    • The commission has already prosecuted several US companies for distributing the devices nationally.
  • National Geographic Genographic Project
    • Web Address: https://www3.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/
    • The National Geographic Society, IBM, geneticist Spencer Wells, and the Waitt Family Foundation have launched the Genographic Project, a five-year effort to understand the human journey?where we came from and how we got to where we live today.
    • This unprecedented effort will map humanity’s genetic journey through the ages.
    • The fossil record fixes human origins in Africa, but little is known about the great journey that took Homo sapiens to the far reaches of the Earth.
    • We are all related and descended from a common African ancestor who lived only 60,000 years ago.
    • When DNA is passed from one generation to the next, most of it is recombined by the processes that give each of us our individuality.
    • But some parts of the DNA chain remain largely intact through the generations, altered only occasionally by mutations which become "genetic markers." These markers allow geneticists like Spencer Wells to trace our common evolutionary timeline back through the ages.
    • Our genes allow us to chart the ancient human migrations from Africa across the continents. Through one path, we can see living evidence of an ancient African trek, through India, to populate even isolated Australia.
    • But to fully complete the picture we must greatly expand the pool of genetic samples available from around the world
    • The key to this puzzle is acquiring genetic samples from the world’s remaining indigenous and traditional peoples whose ethnic and genetic identities are isolated.
    • But such distinct peoples, languages, and cultures are quickly vanishing into a 21st century global melting pot.
    • Discover YOUR deep ancestry?purchase a kit and trace your genetic lineage. You can trace your ancestors back to ?Adam? and ?Eve? using the DNA participation kit. The kit includes the following items:
      • Buccal swab kit and self-addressed envelope
      • Multimedia DVD and Genographic Map
      • Confidential Genographic ProjectnID Number (GPID)
      • Cost: $107
    • I have my kits and will be send in samples next week. Male lineage using the Y chromosome. Female lineage can be traced using the mitochondria DNA.
  • Wal-Mart’s $199 Linux Computer ? An Interview with Inventor
    • Last month, Wal-Mart began selling a $199 Linux-based PC from a little-known firm called Everex. It is called the gPC.
    • The machine is dubbed the gPC TC2502, and it includes a 1.5GHz VIA C7-D processor, 512MB of DDR2 RAM, an 80GB hard drive, a customized version of Ubuntu Linux 7.10, and no monitor.
    • Instead of utilizing applications on the computer locally, the gPC leverages online applications that are delivered via web browser, such as Google Docs and Spreadsheets.
    • Here is what David Liu, founder of the gOS project, thinks about the gPC.
    • What is the vision of gPC?
      • I got interested in Google applications, especially docs and spreadsheets, presentations; and originally, I wanted to create my idea of what a Google OS would look like.. if there were such a mythical OS.
      • As I started looking around at all the Google applications out there, I realized that all of our ?computing? could eventually be done in the Google cloud. We just needed an OS that looked really good and pointed people to Google in a really friendly, intelligent way.
      • After seeing this, I got excited because I saw it was also commercially viable for the mainstream end user? Google makes Linux familiar.
    • How long has it been in development?
      • The Enlightenment windows manager for Linux plays a big part in this, and most of our team is from the Enlightenment community. That’s been going on for a long time. gOS is a little less than six months
    • Why not use Ubuntu for your Linux distribution?
      • Basically it has to do with the Ubuntu community and vision. I like their mantra ?Linux for human beings.?
      • I wanted to take it further.. more like ?Linux for human beings who shop at Wal-Mart? (??and who probably have never heard of Linux?)
  • Fun Site: Google Fight
    • Web Address: http://www.googlefight.com/
    • Put in two words and see what is most the most popular.
    • The most popular ?wins? the fight.
    • This is a fun game with common words or ideas.
  • Hackers Use Banner Ads on Major Sites to Hijack Your PC
    • The worst-case scenario used to be that online ads are annoying, memory-draining distractions.
    • But a new batch of banner ads is much more sinister: They hijack personal computers and bully users until they agree to buy antivirus software.
    • And the ads do their dirty work even if you don’t click on them.
    • The malware-spiked ads have been spotted on various legitimate websites.
    • Hackers are using deceptive practices and tricky Flash programming to get their ads onto legitimate sites by way of DoubleClick’s DART program. Web publishers use the DoubleClick-hosted platform to manage advertising inventory.
    • If you’ve seen any of the ads, you may have experienced something like this: You’re on a legitimate site. Your browser window closes down. A new browser window comes up, redirecting you to an antivirus site, while a dialog box comes up telling you that your computer is infected and that your hard drive is being scanned. The malware tries to download software to your computer and scans your hard drive again.
    • The malware looks like a ordinary Flash file, with its redirect function encrypted, so that when publishers upload it, the malware is not detectable.
    • DoubleClick acknowledges the malware is out there, and says it has implemented a new security-monitoring system that has thus far captured and disabled a hundred ads.
  • Google malware watchdogs bite mom-and-pop shops
    • Google issues thousands of "harmful web site" warnings, often without notifying site operators.
    • The blocked site listing is maintained by http://StopBadware.org
    • Recently sites with paid advertising have been blacklisted because of tainted banner ads that were served by advertising networks.
    • Some sites have been financially devastated when all traffic was stopped.
    • Cyber crooks increasingly look to legitimate third-party ad networks as a vehicle for distributing software that silently installs Trojans and other forms of malware while an end user surfs presumably safe sites.
    • It was revealed that a company owned by Yahoo delivered an estimated 12 million ads on sites such as MySpace and PhotoBucket that installed a back door on unpatched Windows machines.
    • Few law-abiding denizens of the net have a problem with Google using its considerable computing heft to sniff out malicious sites and warn its users to stay away.
    • Regrettably, such initiative is sorely lacking at Yahoo and Microsoft’s Live.com.
    • But the experience of Jay and others like him expose some of the pitfalls of a system that frequently doesn’t inform webmasters of its findings, fails to provide enough information for them to identify the source, and, in the minds of many operators of smaller sites, gives large websites a pass.