Show of 3-1-2008

  • Email and Forum
    • Email from Mary: Dr. Richard Shurtz, How do I do a search through your past programs to locate a topic I hope you have talked about?
    • Second question, I want to read a thorough overview/review of the new OS from MS. I don’t want to read Microsoft’s information on Vista. Can you recommend a respected website to read a non-biased review / evaluation of Vista? From my cursory look into Vista the software is not getting good press. Thank, Mary.
    • Tech Talk Answers: You can search for any item using Google. Just search for the term and then add Stratford Tech Talk Radio. You can also quickly scan the podcast feed. As for a website, I like Ars Technica (http://arstechnica.com/) and Lifehacker (http://lifehacker.com/).
    • Email from Mike: We are setting up an e-commerce website and are using PayPal to process the online payments. Unfortunately, PayPal does not permit a delivery address which is different than the billing address. Are there any other options? I am a long time listener and am confident that you can help. Mike
    • Tech Talk Answers: You can always set up your own shopping cart with credit card processing. However, that is fairly complex. You might be able to use Google Checkout. Google checkout both a quick installation mode as well as an XML sumbission standard. You should be able to meet your needs with Google Checkout.
  • Profiles in IT: Richard Matthew Stallman
    • Richard Matthew Stallman launched the GNU Project to create a free Unix-like operating system. GNU stands for GNU is not Unix.
    • He is the main author of the GNU General Public License. In October 1985, he launched the Free Software Foundation.
    • Stallman was born March 16, 1953 to Daniel Stallman and Alice Lippman iin New York City.
    • In June 1971, as a first year student at Harvard University, Stallman became a programmer at the AI Laboratory of MIT.
    • Stallman graduated from Harvard magna cum laude earning a BA in Physics in 1974.
    • There he became a regular in the hacker community, where he was known as "RMS".
    • Stallman then enrolled as a graduate student in physics at MIT, but abandoned his graduate studies while remaining a programmer at the MIT AI Laboratory.
    • As a hacker in MIT’s AI laboratory, Stallman worked on software projects like
      • TECO (Text Editor and Corrector)
      • Emacs (Editor MACroS for the TECO, a text editor used by programmers)
      • Lisp Machine Operating System (LISt Processing Language).
    • In 1980, he fellow hackers started two companies to market Lisp Machines. The first was Lisp Machines, Inc and the second was Symbolics, which was founded with the help of venture capitalists. Their software was proprietary.
    • For two years, from 1982 to the end of 1983, Stallman singlehandedly duplicated the efforts of the Symbolics programmers.
    • He rejected any job where he would have to sign non-disclosure agreements. He chose instead to share his work with others in what he regarded as a classical spirit of collaboration. H rejected of the pursuit of wealth as the primary goal of living.
    • In January 1984, Stallman quit his job at MIT to work full-time on the GNU project, which he had announced in September 1983.
    • Stallman announced the plan for the GNU operating system in September 1983.
    • In 1985, Stallman published the GNU Manifesto.
    • In October 1985, he started the Free Software Foundation to provide a legal infrastructure for the free software movement. Stallman is its non-salaried president.
    • He created the concept of copyleft, instead of copyright. With copyleft, you give users permission to use it, add to it, as long as it final product still covered by the original license.
    • He co-founded the League for Programming Freedom in 1989.
    • A young Finnish programmer named Linus Torvalds used pieces of GNU to develop a system released in 1991 and later dubbed Linux.
    • Within the free software movement, Stallman is considered the Philosopher, while Linus Tovalds (creator of Linux) is the Engineer.
    • There is tension between the Philosopher and the Engineer. Stallman would like to use GNU/Linux. Torvalds likes to drop the GNU.
    • His personal webpage is: http://www.stallman.org/
  • Update of Jamaica
    • New government was in power September 2007 (Jamaica Labor Party)
    • New prime minister: Bruce Golding
    • Last government was socialist and focused on giving benefits to the 75% underemployed or unemployed and taxing the 25% employed.
    • Education is seen as the important part of economic development in the new government.
    • Crisis in Jamaica
      • High drop out rate in high schools
      • Only 30% of high school completers actually graduate
      • High illiteracy rate.
      • Untrained labor force
    • Competency-based education is the focus on revitalizing the system
      • Outcome-based
      • Formative assessment
      • Summative assessment
  • Taliban wants cell phone networks shut down at night
    • The towers and offices of mobile phone operators in Afghanistan are being pressured to shut down operations at night by the Taliban.
    • The former rulers of Afghanistan and current insurgent group held "talks" with the four major mobile companies in Afghanistan last week and gave them three days to go dark for 14 hours per day?or else.
    • The reason for the threat is the Taliban’s belief that American soldiers and rebels within Afghanistan are using mobile phones to track down remaining Taliban members.
    • Since the occupying forces stationed in Afghanistan usually at night use mobile phones for espionage to track down the mujahideen, the Islamic Emirate gave a three-day ultimatum to all mobile phone firms to switch off their phones from five in the afternoon until seven in the morning,
    • Taliban spokesperson Qari Mohammad Yousuf ironically via mobile phone (and presumably during daylight).
    • Three of the four companies receiving the ultimatum?Roshan, Areeba, and Etisalat?are not based in Afghanistan, with the fourth being the Afghan Wireless Communication Company.
    • They are considered major investors in the country’s economy, as there are still almost no other means of outside communication since the Taliban’s fall in 2001.
    • If they give in to the Taliban’s threat, communications within the country would be severely disrupted due to the lack of landlines.
    • This isn’t the first time the Taliban has challenged mobile operators in Afghanistan.
    • In the past, the group has accused the phone companies of actively working with US troops as well as NATO, although not much has happened as a result of those threats.
    • Still, it’s no doubt unsettling to the mobile operators to know that they may be targeted for continuing with business as usual?especially since the US is reportedly using satellites and not mobile phone operators for tracking.
  • Website of the Week: Wikileaks
    • Web address: http://wikileaks.org/
    • Wikileaks is a website that publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive corporate and government documents, while taking measures to preserve the anonymity and traceability of its contributors. The interface is identical to Wikipedia.
    • Within one year of its December 2006 launch, its database had grown to more than 1.2 million documents.
    • Running on modified MediaWiki software, Wikileaks is hosted by PRQ, an internet service provider in Sweden.
    • Its primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.
    • February 29, 2008, a California District Court judge on Friday lifted a previous permanent injunction that he had issued two weeks ago to disable the controversial Wikileaks.org whistleblower Web site.
    • The wikileaks.org domain was reactivated today as a result of the decision.
  • Difference between Baking Soda and Baking Powder
    • Both baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents, which mean they are added to baked goods before cooking to produce carbon dioxide and cause them to rise. Baking powder contains baking soda, but the two substances are used under different conditions.
    • Baking Soda — Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient (e.g., yogurt, chocolate, buttermilk, honey), the resulting chemical reaction produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that expand under oven temperatures, causing baked goods to rise. Baking soda is basic and will yield a bitter taste unless countered by the acidity of another ingredient, such as buttermilk. You’ll find baking soda in cookie recipes.
    • Baking Powder — Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, but it includes the acidifying agent already (cream of tartar), and also a drying agent (usually starch). Baking powder contains both an acid and a base and has an overall neutral effect in terms of taste. Recipes that call for baking powder often call for other neutral-tasting ingredients, such as milk. Baking powder is a common ingredient in cakes and biscuits.
  • Solar without the Panels ? Simple and Cost Effective
    • In a solar-thermal trough plant, hundreds of mirror arrays like this one track the sun from east to west, concentrating sunlight onto the receiver pipe suspended above them and heating the oil within to nearly 400 °C.
    • The captured heat can be used to produce steam and generate electricity, or it can heat large tanks filled with molten salt to store solar energy for a rainy day.
    • This system does not use expensive silicon photovoltaic technology and is already cost effective.
    • Spanish solar-plant developer Abengoa Solar and Phoenix-based utility Arizona Public Service announced a 280-megawatt solar thermal project in Arizona.
    • By contrast, the world’s largest installations of photovoltaics generate only 20 megawatts of power.
    • Over the past year, developers of solar thermal technology such as Abengoa, Ausra, and Solel Solar Systems have picked up tens of millions of dollars in financing and power contracts from major utilities such as Pacific Gas and Electric and Florida
    • By 2013, projects in development in just the United States and Spain promise to add just under 6,000 megawatts of solar thermal power generation.
    • According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wind power costs about 8 cents per kilowatt, while solar thermal power costs 13 to 17 cents.
    • In fact, the capacity to store energy is critical to the economics of the solar thermal plant.
    • Stored heat means that a plant can use a smaller, cheaper steam turbine that can be kept running steadily for more hours of the day.
    • While adding storage would substantially increase the cost of the energy produced by a photovoltaic array or wind farm, it actually reduces the cost per kilowatt of the energy produced by solar thermal plants.
    • The 280-megawatt plant in Arizona, set to begin operation by 2011, will have six hours of storage, while other recent projects promise seven to eight.
  • How Does Brain Function Affect Learning?
    • Neural network learn specific neural excitation patterns.
    • Each learned pattern is a memory.
    • Partially exciting a memory pattern can trigger the entire pattern. This is called associative memory.
    • Expecting to see some can favor a particular pattern, so you will see what you expect.
    • Patterns are learned when the synapses are modified to form a stronger link between sympathetic neurons. Learning rate is determined by synapses. Learning capacity is determined by the number of neurons.