Show of 3-8-2008

  • Email and Forum
    • Email from Consuela: Hello, A few months ago I was listening to your show and you were talking about the TWAIN technology and I believe you said it was an acronym which stands for: "Technology Without An Interesting Name". However, on the Twain website they dispute this and tell the actual origin of the name. So I guess in the interest of your listeners you might want to correct this. Thanks, Consuela Allen, Washington, DC
    • Tech Talk Answers: You are right! According to twain.org, The word TWAIN is from Kipling’s "The Ballad of East and West" – "…and never the twain shall meet…", reflecting the difficulty, at the time, of connecting scanners and personal computers. It was up-cased to TWAIN to make it more distinctive. This led people to believe it was an acronym, and then to a contest to come up with an expansion. None were selected, but the entry "Technology Without An Interesting Name" continues to haunt the standard. "
    • They actually did hold a contest and the most popular entry was ?Technology Without An Interesting Name.? The selection committee did not accept any entry as the winner. However, many just keep using that definition because it was so much fun to say.
    • Origin of word: [Middle English tweien, twaine, from Old English twgen]
    • Email from Tom: Dear Dr. Shurtz, I am looking for a new uninterrupted power supply but just not the common run-of-the-mill type. I can’t seem to get a definitive answer from APC, Belkin or Tripp Lite, in fact, I’m not even sure they know what I am talking about.
    • I listen to distant AM radio stations both during the day by ground wave and at night by sky wave. Also, one of my hobbies is ham radio. One of the requirements for a UPS is that it does not cause RF interference to the standard AM broadcast band or the short wave bands.
    • I currently use a Tripp Lite that doesn’t cause a constant noise but several times a day it causes a very loud noise in various parts of the radio spectrum that lasts for a few seconds.
    • Do you have any ideas on which UPS I might purchase?
    • Tech Talk answers: RFI is indeed a problem with Uninterruptable Power Supplies. These systems use a switching power supply charging circuit that generates quite a bit of noise. This noise is reduced through the use of shielding and line filtering of all outputs. The quality of the output depends on the quality of the line filter. Home entertainment UPSs have spent more effort at filtering RFI because home entertainment equipment is more sensitive. However, their specs are do not cover all bands, so it is difficult to tell.
    • This is also a problem aboard Navy ships. I found two Master’s Theses dealing RFI because it interfered with radio signaling. They are available on the net. They solved the problem by installing additional high quality line filters in the system and making certain that the shielding was thorough.
    • You could borrow a UPS from a home theater store and then offer to provide your RFI measurement data to them after you have completed your tests.
    • MFJ (http://www.mfjenterprises.com/) sells the MFJ-4245MV Adjustable Voltage Switching Power Supply they claim are clean and you won’t hear any RF hash on your signal or receiver. One ham radio operator has rated this UPS as very low noise. So low noise switching power supplies can be made.
    • They need to meet the FCC Class B specification for noise generation. This the most stringent.
  • Profiles in IT: Pierre M. Omidyar
    • Founder and Chairman of eBay (http://www.ebay.com)
    • Pierre M. Omidyar was born June 21, 1967 in Paris, France to Iranian parents.
    • Omidyar’s family moved to the US at the age of six.
    • Growing up in Washington, D.C., he developed an interest in computing while still at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Bethesda, Maryland.
    • He graduated in 1984 from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School (Maryland) in Bethesda, Maryland.
    • In 1988 he graduated in computer science from Tufts University.
    • He joined Claris, an Apple Computer subsidiary, where he helped write MacDraw.
    • In 1991 he co-founded Ink Development, a pen-based computing startup that was later rebranded as eShop and acquired by Microsoft.
    • Omidyar was 28 when he sat down over a long holiday weekend to write the original computer code for what eventually became the auction site eBay.
    • The site was launched on Labor Day, Monday, September 4 1995, under the name of "Auction Web"
    • It was hosted on a site Omidyar had created for information on the ebola virus.
    • Auction Web was later renamed "eBay", after Echo Bay, Omidyar’s consulting firm, since "echobay.com" was unavailable.
    • The service was free at first, but started charging in order to cover Internet service provider costs.
    • Jeffrey Skoll joined the company in 1996.
    • In March 1998, Meg Whitman was brought in as President and CEO and continued to run the company till Jan 2008 when she announced her retirement.
    • In September 1998, eBay launched a successful public offering, making both Omidyar and Skoll billionaires.
    • As of end November 2007, Omidyar’s 314 million eBay shares were worth around $14.8 billion.
    • According Forbes as of February 2008, he was the 43rd richest person alive.
    • He launched Omidyar Network was founded in June 2004.
      • Website: http://www.omidyar.net/
      • Omidyar Network is intended to invest in for-profit ventures and public initiatives which promote individual self-empowerment. He favors microcredit projects.
      • He Network has established a $400 million fund to be invested by 2010.
      • Omidyar decided to create the Network in lieu of a traditional foundation when he recognized that eBay’s social impact as a for-profit company was scalable and financially self-sustaining.
      • Omidyar cites "trust between strangers" as the social impact tied to eBay’s ability to be profitable.
      • In 2005, Omidyar donated $100 million to Tufts University to launch the Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund.
      • The fund is intended to spur economic self-empowerment for the poor in developing countries through microfinancing.
  • Website of the Week 2: Google Hacking Database
    • Web Address: http://johnny.ihackstuff.com/ghdb.php
    • Advisories and Vulnerabilities (215 entries)
      • These searches locate vulnerable servers. These searches are often generated from various security advisory posts, and in many cases are product or version-specific
    • Error Messages (68 entries)
      • Error messages that say WAY too much!
    • Files containing juicy info (230 entries)
      • No usernames or passwords, but interesting stuff none the less.
    • Files containing passwords (135 entries)
      • Google finds PASSWORDS!
    • Files containing usernames (15 entries)
      • These files contain usernames, but no passwords… Still, google finding usernames on a web site.
    • Footholds (21 entries)
      • Examples of queries that can help a hacker gain a foothold into a web server.
    • Pages containing login portals (232 entries)
      • These are login pages for various services. Consider them the front door of a website’s more sensitive functions.
    • Pages containing network or vulnerability data (59 entries)
      • These pages contain such things as firewall logs, honeypot logs, network information, IDS logs… all sorts of fun stuff!
    • Sensitive Directories (61 entries)
      • Google’s collection of web sites sharing sensitive directories. The files contained in here will vary from sesitive to uber-secret!
    • Sensitive Online Shopping Info (9 entries)
      • Examples of queries that can reveal online shopping info like customer data, suppliers, orders, creditcard numbers, credit card info, etc.
    • Various Online Devices (201 entries)
    • This category contains things like printers, video cameras, and all sorts of cool things found on the web with Google.
    • Vulnerable Files (57 entries)
      • HUNDREDS of vulnerable files that Google can find on websites…
    • Vulnerable Servers (48 entries)
      • These searches reveal servers with specific vulnerabilities. These are found in a different way than the searches found in the "Vulnerable Files" section.
    • Web Server Detection (72 entries)
      • These links demonstrate Google’s awesome ability to profile web servers.
  • US Troops Get Route Planning Software
    • Soldiers conducting frontline street patrols finally get software tools that let them share findings and plan missions.
    • A new map-based application allows patrol leaders in Iraq to learn about city landmarks and past events and enter new data.
    • After a two-year rush program by the Pentagon’s research arm, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, troops are now getting what might be described as Google Maps for the Iraq counterinsurgency.
    • There is nothing cutting-edge about the underlying technology: software that runs on PCs and taps multiple distributed databases.
    • But the trove of information the system delivers is of central importance in the daily lives of soldiers.
    • The new technology–called the Tactical Ground Reporting System, or TIGR–is a map-centric application that junior officers (the young sergeants and lieutenants who command patrols) can study before going on patrol and add to upon returning.
    • By clicking on icons and lists, they can see the locations of key buildings, like mosques, schools, and hospitals, and retrieve information such as location data on past attacks, geotagged photos of houses and other buildings (taken with cameras equipped with Global Positioning System technology), and photos of suspected insurgents and neighborhood leaders.
    • They can even listen to civilian interviews and watch videos of past maneuvers. It is just the kind of information that soldiers need to learn about Iraq and its perils.
    • Prior to this software application, there was no easily accessed central repository geo-tagged information.
  • Brain-Controlled Game Headset Announced by Emotiv
    • Web address: http://www.emotiv.com/
    • The neuroheadset called EPOC, which lets you control the gameplay with your thoughts and emotions.
    • EPOC was presented at Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
    • The retail price was set at $299 with the headset available for pre-orders online on Emotiv’s website.
    • The key characteristics of the EPOC headset is its light weight, wireless support, comfortable to wear, and special sensors in charge with detection of your emotions and thoughts.
    • EPOC does this using the electrical signals around your brain and processes these to let you control the game
    • EPOC headset is capable of detecting more than 30 expressions, actions and emotions including immersion, meditation, excitement, frustration, tension, laugh, smile, crossed eye, wink, anger, shock, horizontal eye movement, grimace, pull, push, drop, lift, rotate, as well as actions based on visualization like the ability to make things disappear.
    • It detects facial expression, emotive, and cognitive.
    • Wireless with 12-hour battery life.
  • Microsoft Played Games with Vista Processor Requirement
    • According to an email sent last February by Microsoft general manager John Kalkman, the software giant lowered Windows Vista’s minimum hardware requirements to ridiculous levels only because Intel needed to sell more to chipsets.
    • The email was just one of many released in response to a federal class action suit that accuses Microsoft of misleading the world with those "Windows Vista Capable" logos it slapped on new PCs in the run-up to the operating system’s debut.
    • The logos appeared on system more than nine month before the OS was unveiled.
    • MS lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with the 915 graphics embedded.
  • Food Science: What is Yeast?
    • Yeast is a one-celled fungus that converts sugar and starch into carbon dioxide bubbles and alcohol.
    • The yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been used in baking and fermenting alcoholic beverages for thousands of years.
    • There are many varieties of yeast.
    • Bread is made with baker’s yeast, which creates lots of bubbles that become trapped in the dough, making the bread rise so it’s light and airy when baked
    • A small amount of alcohol is also produced, but this burns off as the bread bakes.
    • Beer yeast and wine yeast are used to convert sugar into alcohol and, in the case of beer and champagne, bubbles.
    • It can produce these products both in the presence of air and in the absence of air.
    • There are several different species and varieties of yeast and, just like with the apples you choose to make your cider, each one will make the end product taste a bit different.
    • The differences come because of the rate of sugar consumption and carbon dioxide and other waste product creation, as well as the temperature and pH needed for fermentation.
  • Penetration of Pentagon Network More Serious Than Previously Reported
    • On June 22, 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged that the Pentagon’s network had been successfully attacked and that this attack was responsible for a disruption in email service to some 1,500 Pentagon employees.
    • At the time, Gates downplayed the attack, saying that it affected only the OSD’s (Office of the Secretary of Defense) non-classified e-mail service and that there was "no anticipated adverse impact on ongoing operations."
    • It seems that the adverse impact of the June attack may have been much greater than Gates’ early guidance implied.
    • According to Dennis Clem, CIO of the Pentagon and the OSD, the intrusion was first detected during an IT restructuring that was underway at the time.
    • By the time it was detected, malicious code had been in the system for at least two months, and was propagating via a known Windows exploit.