Show of 2-23-2008

  • Email and Forum
    • Comment in Forum: Pronunciation of Dvorak was not correct.
    • Tech Talk Response. You are right. It is pronounced: ?Dvor Jak? with a soft ?a.?
    • Email from Peter: I want to edit my digital photos and don’t want to spend the money for Adobe Photo Shop. What do you suggest? Peter
    • Tech Talk Answers: I like to use Paint Shop Pro which is a low cost alternative to Photo Shop. It is now owned by Corel and costs $79. Can be downloaded from http://www.corel.com or from www.download.com .
    • If you want a totally free option, us GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). It can be downloaded from http://www.gimp.org/ .
    • If you want the complete look and feel of Adobe use GimpShop. GIMPshop is a modification of the free/open source GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), intended to replicate the feel of Adobe Photoshop. It can be download from http://www.gimpshop.com/ . GNU means GNU’s Not Unix
  • Profiles in IT: Konrad Zuse
    • Konrad Zuse invented the first freely programmable computer.
    • Konrad Zuse was born in Berlin , Germany in 1910.
    • Zuse graduated in civil engineering from the Technische Hochschule ( Technical College ) Berlin-Charlottenburg in 1935
    • After graduation, he was hired by Henschel Aircraft Company in Berlin as a construction engineer. This was the beginning of WWII.
    • Konrad Zuse earned the semiofficial title of  "inventor of the modern computer" for his series of automatic calculators.
    • In 1936, Zuse made a mechanical calculator called the Z1, the first binary computer. It included an: a control, a memory, and a calculator for the arithmetic.
    • Zuse explored the use of floating-point arithmetic, high-capacity memory and modules or relays operating on the yes/no principle.
    • In 1939, Zuse completed the Z2, the first fully functioning electro-mechanical computer.
    • Konrad Zuse completed the Z3 in 1941, with recycled materials donated by fellow university staff and students.
    • Zuse used old movie film to store his programs and data for the Z3, instead of using paper tape or punched cards. Paper was in short supply in Germany during the war.
    • In 1941, the Z3 contained almost all of the features of a modern computer as defined by John von Neumann and his colleagues in 1946. The only exception was the ability to store the program in the memory together with the data.
    • Konrad Zuse wrote the first algorithmic programming language called ‘Plankalkül’ in 1946, which he used to program his computers.
    • He wrote the world’s first chess-playing program using Plankalkül.
    • Zuse was unable to convince the Nazi government to support his work for a computer based on electronic valves.
    • Zuse left for Zurich to finish his work on the Z4, smuggling the Z4 from Germany in a military truck, which he hid in stables on route to Zurich , Switzerland .
    • He completed and installed the Z4 in the Applied Mathematics Division of Zurich’s Federal Polytechnical Institute, in use there until 1955.
    • The Z4 had punches and various facilities to enable flexible programming including address translation and conditional branching.
    • In 1949, he moved back to Germany to form a second company called Zuse KG for the construction and marketing of his designs.
    • By 1967, the Zuse KG had built a total of 251 computers. Due to financial problems, it was then sold to Siemens.
    • Zuse died in 1995.
  • CBET Conference Update from Jamaica
    • I am calling in from Montego Bay , Jamaica .
    • I gave the keynote address at a conference the 4th National Conference: Toward a National CBET Policy.
    • CBET stands for Competency Based Education and Training
    • My presentation at the conference dealt with the history of outcomes based education (starting with Socrates), learning modes, learning styles, description of how the brain learns at the neural level (associative memory, expectation). Finally I discussed management strategies.
    • The conference was sponsored by HEART Trust/National Training Agency, an organization tasked with developing education and training programs for workforce development.
    • HEART Trust was started 25 years ago and has transformed career education from time-based to competency-based education in Jamaica .
    • I sat the table with Prime Minister of Jamaica, Honorable Bruce Golding. He was newly elected and seeks to change the Jamaican economy.
    • In addition to the Prime Minister, we talked with:
      • Mr. Robert Gregory, Director, Jamaica Trade and Investment Group
      • Mr. Donald Foster, Executive Director of the HEART Trust/NTA.
      • Sonia Bennett Cunningham was the Conference Chair
      • Cornel Brown made all of the arrangements.
    • He is firmly convinced the education to the key to Jamaica ‘s economic future.
    • Competency-based education means that student demonstrate specific competencies in order to progress through the system.
    • It uses formative assessment to give students feedback during the process and summative assessment to measure overall progress.
    • HEART was familiar with the programs at Stratford and sought us out to further understand our methods and techniques.
    • This week has been very inspiring and I can see that Jamaica is making serious progress at upgrading its educational system.
  • Prime Minister Praises HEART Trust/NTA at conference
    • Prime Minister Bruce Golding has instructed the HEART Trust/National Training Agency (NTA ) to collaborate with Jamaica Trade and Invest to review the country’s projected skills training requirements, against a background of changing and dynamic business and investment opportunities.
    • One of the new frontiers which Prime Minister Golding wants explored is the establishment of a vocational training institution on the north coast to train craft workers, in a move to offer higher quality craft items to the tourism sector.
    • HEART/ NTA has been mandated to investigate the establishment of this craft training facility working through the Ministry of Education and the governments of Nigeria and Haiti, which have indicated their interest in providing assistance in training in this area.
    • The prime minister has also called on the training institute to develop training programs for the fire, maritime and police forces.
    • Golding expressed concern that, despite the considerable work being done by HEART/NTA, the labor force report showed negligible movement in terms of the level of certified Jamaican workforce which remains under 30%.
    • The prime minister also expressed concern over a report by Minister of Education Andrew Holness that while schools were graduating some 53,000 students, only 15,000 were on their way to worthwhile achievements, while the remaining 30,000 were excluded from the system.
    • He said the ministry had new ideas about the reconfiguration of the school system and that HEART/NTA would be required to play a critical role in increasing both the quality and quantity of training within the schools.
    • For the current year, the HEART/ NTA program is expected to enroll some 104,000 persons in its various training programs.
    • Since its inception 25 years ago, HEART has trained persons in the areas of tourism and hospitality, building and construction, information and communications technology, agriculture, cosmetology, apparel and sewn products, and commercial skills.
  • Court Injunctions against Jamaican Cable Company
    • The Broadcasting Commission has acquired court injunctions against telecommunications firm Flow and cable operators Entertainment Systems Ltd (ESL).
    • The injunctions come just days after cable subscribers of ESL raised concern over Flow’s recent acquisition of the assets of the Kingston and St Andrew-based company.
    • Customers complained that they were not informed of the sale until after it was finalised. Flow had neglected to inform them of negotiations with the directors of ESL.
    • The injunction against Flow, which took effect at 2:15 p.m. yesterday, bars firm from acquiring the assets or ownership of any other cable television distributor without the commission’s approval.
    • The second order, which is against ESL, stipulates that the cable operator is prohibited from making any further steps in the sale or transfer of its assets to Flow until the court has reached a decision.
  • Community Internet Access Points To Be Deployed in Jamaica
    • Minister of Energy, Mining and Telecommunications, Clive Mullings, says government will soon be rolling out an expanded program of community Internet access points across the island, to increase access to computers for Jamaicans.
    • Mullings, who was speaking at the Caribbean Institute of Technology (CIT) Information and Communication Technology Awareness Week in Montego Bay last Friday, said all 60 members of parliament have been asked to identify strategic areas in their constituencies, where a sum of five computers will be placed.
    • "Access to computers remain an issue for many persons in our country as we strive for 100 per cent access to telecommunications services," he said.
    • He said the ministry would set up community access points across the island with the help of the International Development Bank (IDB).
  • Chinese Company to Install Cell Towers
    • America Movil, the new parent company for Oceanic Digital Jamaica or MiPhone, has recruited a Chinese technology company, Huawei Technologies to ramp up the local company’s cell site and distribution networks.
    • The Financial Gleaner has learned that Huawei only four months ago established an office in Jamaica under the name Huawei Technologies Jamaica Limited to oversee the building out of some 800 cell sites across the island for MiPhone.
    • Sources say Carlos Slim’s America Movil is taking serious aim at a much bigger slice of the Jamaican market as it expands its footprint throughout the Caribbean .
    • Its biggest rival is Denis O’Brien’s Digicel Group, which has a lock on some 1.8 million subscribers in Jamaica and more than six million across the region.
    • The local telecoms do not comment on market share but reports on technology websites have suggested that the split is 4.0 per cent Miphone, 26 per cent Cable and Wireless and 70 per cent Digicel. Others suggest that Digicel has more than an 80 per cent lock on the market.
  • Jamaican T-1 Dedicated Line Rates to Jump by 40%
    • Come April 1, Cable and Wireless Jamaica (C&WJ) will hike line rental fees by 40 per cent for residential customers.
    • The telecommunications firm announced yesterday it would be increasing its line rental fees for both residential and business customers.
    • This will see residential customers paying $700 a month, $200 more than they previously did. Business line rentals, including PBX trunk lines, national and international toll-free lines and direct inward-dialing lines, will move from $1,250 monthly to $1,600.
    • "A rate increase of any kind for our customers is regrettable, but in this case, due to inflationary pressures and increasing operational costs, they are inescapable," said Mark Brunwin, chief marketing officer at C&WJ, in a release.
    • According to Brunwin, this was the first rental increase since March 2004, despite increases in the cost of providing fixed-line services due to high rates of inflation.
  • Yahoo Rejects Offer and Gets Sued
    • Yahoo rejects Microsoft bid and lays off 1000 employees.
    • A statement on the company’s website said: "After careful evaluation, the Board believes that Microsoft’s proposal substantially undervalues Yahoo!"
    • The directors say they continue to evaluate strategic options to maximize value for shareholders.
    • In other words, they are trying to smoke out a bigger bid. Yahoo! is casting around for a white knight.
    • Since the bid was announced Microsoft’s share price has fallen while Yahoo!’s has risen, effectively meaning that Yahoo! shareholders would get better value selling their shares on the open market rather than to Microsoft.
    • So what will Microsoft do next? The company could always sit tight and wait – but it is likely to increase its offer and take that improved price directly to Yahoo! shareholders.
    • In another action this week, Yahoo managers have been instructed to lay off 1,000 employees without cutting any projects that generate revenue. The cut is expected to span many divisions. Moral is low. Many are bailing.
    • The lesson here: It is dangerous for a successful company to tread water.
  • Yahoo Sued by Shareholders
    • Two Detroit pension funds have filed a shareholders lawsuit against Yahoo in the Delaware Chancery Court, according to reports Friday.
    • The lawsuit, filed by the a Detroit public employees pension fund and a Detroit firefighters and police pension fund, accused the Internet search pioneer of stonewalling Microsoft’s unsolicited buyout offer , initially valued at $44.6 billion on February 1.
    • "Yahoo’s directors cannot ‘just say no’ indefinitely to legitimate acquisition offers when the effect of that decision is to deny shareholder choice in the face of non-coercive and economically beneficial bid–especially where, as here, the bid may yet be improved through negotiations," the lawsuit stated.
    • Earlier this month, the Wayne County Employees Retirement System sued Yahoo in a Michigan court .
  • Website of the Week: W3Schools Online
    • Web Address: http://www.w3schools.com/
    • A collection of web building tutorials
    • Tutorials include the following topics
    • HTML Tutorials (HTML, XHTML, CSS, TCP/IP)
    • XML Tutorials (XML, XSL, XSLT, DTD, Schema, SOAP, RSS, WAP, and more)
    • Browser Scripting (JavaScript, DHTML, VBScript, AJAX , E4X, WMLScript, more)
    • Server Scripting (SQL, ASP, ADO , PHP)
    • Multimedia (Media, SMIL, SVG, Flash)
    • Learn some web program and forget TV?you can enhance your career.
  • Laptop Passwords Demanded at Border
    • Amir Khan, a Pakistani-born US Citizen, has had his laptop searched by US customs agents on five separate occasions when returning to the US from overseas.
    • It’s no longer just rifling through your luggage, Customs is now going through laptops, Blackberries, and other gizmos, sometimes confiscating them, and sometimes never returning them.
    • Amir Khan is an IT consultant, and always travels with at least one laptop.
    • He said that customs and border patrol agents searched his computer when he returned to the US from overseas and forced him to give them access to confidential company data.
    • Others travelers tell similar stories.
    • Some even had electronic devices confiscated and never returned. Laptops, cellphones, blackberries, often full of highly sensitive personal information.
  • New Rootkits Hide in MBR
    • The MX Logic Threat Center has identified multiple master boot record (MBR) viruses in recent weeks.
    • This signifies the next wave of malware, as cyber criminals continue to make malware and rootkits less detectable and more difficult to remediate.
    • These infections activate during the boot sequence before the operating system starts.
    • This new variant begam show up in mid-December 2007.
    • MBR viruses start when a computer’s BIOS (basic input-output system) activates its master boot code before the operating system loads.
    • The Master Boot Record tells the computer how to boot up and sits on sector 0 of the hard drive, storing the partition.
    • This makes these stealthy rootkits more difficult to detect and remove than traditional rootkits, which are attached to Windows device drivers.
    • These MBR rootkits continue to remain on computers even after uninstalling the operating system and reformatting the partitions.
    • Almost all antivirus vendors now have rootkit protection.
    • The security industry has to develop new blended defenses, and enterprises will have to use aggressive filters at the network perimeter, he said.
    • Computer users can issue the FixMBR command in the Recovery Console to make the operating system write a new master boot record to the hard disk drive.
    • FixMBR will restore the master boot record to a previous state, but that state might also be infected.