Show of 4-26-2008

  • Email and Forum
    • Email from Beverly: Dear Tech Talk. I was talking with my 90 year old father and he was complaining that Microsoft has mad a decision to no longer support XP. Know anything about this. Beverly
    • Tech Talk Answers: The official position is that Microsoft will stop selling XP on June 30, 2008 with support ending April 19, 2009.
    • However, at news conference last week, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft Corp., announced that the firm may consider offering its Windows XP operating system until 2010 because Windows XP has developed a large fan base.
    • Many consumers who prefer XP are corporate information technology departments that have found the transition between the two operating systems to be difficult.
    • Since Microsoft cannot afford to alienate it corporate customer base, expect the extension to be become official soon.
  • Profiles in IT: Shawn Fanning
    • Shawn Fanning was the developer of Napster, a peer-to-peer file sharing program.
    • Shawn was born November 22, 1980 in Brockton Massachusetts.
    • He attended high school Harwich, Massachusetts.
    • In 1996, between my sophomore and junior years in high school, his uncle, John Fanning, gave him a computer and access to the Internet.
    • That was his first real experience with computers.
    • In 1998, he enrolled in Northeastern University in Boston and majored in computer science.
    • He started programming windows applications and spent quite a bit of time in Internet Relay Chat (IRC). His handle was Napster on IRC.
    • One of his college roommates loved listening to MP3s and used Internet sites such as MP3.lycos.com to find them. However, many of the MP3 links were dead.
    • He started thinking about ways to solve the reliability problems my roommate was experiencing.
    • He began designing and programming a real-time system for locating MP3 files of other users on the Internet.
    • He designed the Napster software to find MP3s because they are the most compressed format (in consideration of bandwidth) and they were very popular at the time.
    • His idea was to have users list the files they were willing to share on a computer that they all could access. That list would then be updated each time a person logged on to and off of that computer.
    • He had taught himself Unix programming between his junior and senior years in high school and knew enough to think such a program was possible.
    • Fanning spent several months writing code for a program.
    • The Napster system he designed combined a real time system for finding MP3s with chat rooms and instant messaging (functionality similar to IRC).
    • He made the decision to leave school to spend more time on the project.
    • He called his program Napster.
    • He and his uncle incorporated the company in May 1999 and raised money from angel investors.
    • He released an early beta version of Napster in during the summer of 1998.
    • In September 1999 Napster, Inc. obtained office space and I moved to California.
    • Download.com featured Napster in its Download Spotlight in early fall 1999, and the user community grew significantly.
    • Soon thereafter Fanning was featured on the cover of Wired Magazine.
    • He testified before Congress on October 9, 2000.
    • Napster and Fanning were targeted by the recording industry.
    • In order to avoid lawsuits, the Napster was sold to Roxio. Inc. in November 2002.
    • Napster now has a paid digital distribution system and is no longer supports free downloads.
    • In 2002, Fanning opened a new company, SNOCAP, to legitimately sell digital media over the Internet.
    • In 2006, Fanning developed Rupture, a site designed to share gamers’ profiles and facilitate chat between World of Warcraft players.
    • In 2008, SNOCAP is near bankruptcy.
  • Google Docs Aims At Microsoft Office Live With Gears
    • Google Docs will allow users to edit word processing documents offline.
    • Google said users of its Google Docs word processing application can use Google Gears to save and then edit documents without being connected to the Internet.
    • The editing feature, Google Gears, is an application programming interface introduced by Google more than a year ago to application developers to create Web applications that can run offline.
    • Everything you need is saved locally. And you do everything through your web browser even when I’m offline using the offline capability of Google Gears.
    • When you come back online, the documents sync up again with the server.
    • With this offline functionality, Google hopes to compete with Microsoft Live.
  • Website of the Week: Traffic on Google Maps
    • Link: http://maps.google.com
    • Google maps now has live traffice reports
    • Just to Google maps and click on the traffic link in the upper right hand corner
    • Select any city with a traffic light system symbol
    • Live traffic reports are show by default
    • Select the change link to view future traffic patterns
  • Spam Celebrate 30th Birthday
    • Thirty years ago next week, Gary Thuerk, a marketer at the now-defunct computer firm Digital Equipment Corporation, sent an spam email to 393 users of Arpanet, the US government-run computer network that eventually became the internet.
    • His commercial message, sent on 3 May 1978, drew a swift and negative reaction.
    • Recipients complained directly to Thuerk, who had made no attempt to hide his identity, and DEC was reprimanded by the Arpanet administrators.
    • Today, spam makes up 80 to 90% of all emails sent ? around 120 billion messages per day ? and is a multi-billion dollar industry.
    • Spam grabbed mainstream attention in 1994, when Arizona lawyers Laurence A Canter and Martha S Siegel posted a commercial spam to 6000 Usenet discussion groups advertising their services as immigration lawyers.
    • The two lawyers went on to write books about how to spam, helping others start spamming too.
    • The latest spam filters use Bayesian filters that learn to distinguish spam using the content of emails, or systems that identify new spam through digital "fingerprints".
      • Spammers also tweak the contents of their spams to defeat filtering techniques.
      • Many spams contain "word salad" ? for example, extracts culled from free online books ? to disguise spam messages.
    • To avoid being tracked down, spammers have created large "botnets" of millions of "zombie" computers ? under outside control, unbeknownst to their owners.
      • These botnets are used to send out huge volumes of spam, which can be hard to identify and block because they are decentralized.
    • Ferris Research, a San Francisco-based firm, estimates that the cost of fighting spam will be $140 billion globally in 2008.
    • The end is not in site. In Asia, where internet access using cellphones is more common, phone spam is becoming more common.
  • Twitter Gets The Word Out About Arrest
    • James Karl Buck helped free himself from an Egyptian jail with a one-word blog post from his cell phone.
    • Buck, a graduate student from the UC Berkeley, was in Mahalla, Egypt, covering an anti-government protest when he and his translator, Mohammed Maree, were arrested April 10.
    • On his way to the police station, Buck took out his cell phone and sent a message to his friends and contacts using the micro-blogging site Twitter.
    • The message only had one word. "Arrested."
    • Within seconds, colleagues in the United States and his blogger-friends in Egypt — the same ones who had taught him the tool only a week earlier — were alerted that he was being held.
    • Twitter is a social-networking blog site that allows users to send status updates, or "tweets," from cell phones, instant messaging services and Facebook in less than 140 characters.
    • Hossam el-Hamalawy, a Cairo-based blogger at UC-Berkeley, was one of the people who got word of Buck’s arrest.
    • Then, el-Hamalawy took to the Web and wrote regular updates in his own blog to spread the information Buck was sending by Twitter.
    • Nobody was sure how long Buck would be able to communicate.
    • Buck was able to send updates every couple of hours saying he was still detained, he had spoken to the prosecutor, he still had not been charged, and he was worried about Maree.
    • Twitter is normally used to keep groups of people connected in less urgent situations.
    • Eventually Buck was released.
    • As he left the station, send another one-word blog entry from his cell phone: "Free."
  • Physics of Whipped Cream
    • Notice the interesting behavior of whipped cream
      • First it flows smoothly out of the nozzle like a liquid.
      • Then, a moment later, it perched rigidly in the spoon as if it were solid.
      • What made it change?
    • Whipped cream performs this rapid changing act because of a phenomenon called "shear thinning."
    • When part of the foam is forced to slide or "shear" past the rest of the foam, the foam "thins."
    • It becomes less like honey and more like water, allowing it to flow easily until the shearing stops.
    • Shear thinning occurs in many substances–e.g., ketchup, blood, motor oil, paint, liquid polymers such as molten plastic.
      • Excessive shear thinning of motor oil is unwanted because it reduces the oil’s ability to protect engines from wear,
      • Shear thinning of paint allows it to flow smoothly from the brush but stay put on the wall.
      • It also allows ketchup to flow from the bottle but not drip off your french fries.

      The inner workings of shear thinning are not fully understood.

    • The first real-world confirmation of a theory for how shear thinning works in a simple fluid has come from an experiment that flew aboard the final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia.
      • Most of the data from the experiment, called Critical Viscosity of Xenon-2 (CVX-2), was beamed down to scientists on the ground before the shuttle’s destruction during reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.
      • CVX-2 was designed to study shear thinning in xenon, a substance used in lamps and ion rocket engines.
      • CVX-2 had to be done in space: Critical-point fluids are easily compressed.
      • To test shear thinning, CVX-2 adjusted the temperature and pressure in a small cylinder to bring xenon to its critical point, and then gently stirred the fluid with a nickel-screen paddle. By measuring how strongly the fluid resisted the movement of this paddle, the experiment could determine the xenon’s thickness.
    • Results nicely matched the predictions of dynamic mode-coupling theory.
  • Top 10 Paying Technology Majors
    • All salary information was obtained from the 2007 Dice Tech Salary Survey and the 2007 Game Industry Salary Survey
    • Information Technology Management
      • Average Annual Salary – $107,830
      • IT managers supervise information technology departments and ensure that all systems run smoothly. Students who major in information technology management earn a significant salary after graduation. IT professionals with an MBA earn 46 percent more than IT pros with a bachelor’s degree.
    • Database Administration
      • Average Annual Salary – $85,092
      • Students who major in database administration work with database systems to ensure that everything is secure, organized and working properly. Most database administrators work for search portals, Internet service providers, government agencies and data processing firms..
    • Software Engineering
      • Average Annual Salary – $84,122
      • Software engineering majors develop and test computer software and systems. Most software engineers specialize in either systems or applications. A bachelor degree is almost always necessary for either specialization, but a graduate degree is usually preferred.
    • Video Game Programming
      • Average Annual Salary – $80,886
      • Video game programmers work with various software systems to program games for computers, consoles, and other gaming devices. Programmers with more than six years experience can earn in excess of $100,000.
    • Computer Programming
      • Average Annual Salary – $71,623
      • Computer programming majors write and test computer programs. A degree is not always required, but it is easier to secure a job with some type of education or certification. Most programmers start out at nearly $50,000.
    • Web Development
      • Average Annual Salary – $68,571
      • Web developers create and program content for a website. Most web developers start out at around $50,000 and earn in excess of $80,000 after accumulating a few years of experience.
    • Network Engineering
      • Average Annual Salary – $68,391
      • Network engineering majors are responsible for the design and implementation of Local Area Networks and Wide Area Networks. A degree is almost always a must to secure a position as a network engineer, and certifications are highly recommended. Network engineers with more than five year of work experience can easily earn $90,000 or more.
    • System Administration
      • Average Annual Salary – $66,388
      • System administration majors design, install and maintain computer systems. Some system administrators are also responsible for supporting entire networks. A degree is not always required; experience and certifications can sometimes be substituted for a formal education. However, system administrators who have at least a bachelor’s degree tend to earn the most.
    • Network Management
      • Average Annual Salary – $64,638
      • Network managers manage a variety of different networks, including computer networks and fiber optic networks. Students who work in network management may end up working as an operator, administrator or planner. Experienced network management professionals can earn almost twice as much as entry-level professionals.
    • Game Designer
      • Average Annual Salary – $61,538
      • Game designers make video games for computers, consoles and other gaming devices. A degree is not always required to work as a game designer, but it will be helpful. Although the video game design industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the tech sector, the field is very competitive.
  • Ten Most Expensive Domains
    • VIP.com sold for $1.4 million in 2005
    • CreditCards.com sold for $2.75 million in 2004
    • Wine.com sold for $2.9 million in 1999
    • Shop.com sold for $3.5 million
    • AsSeenOnTv.com sold for $5.1 million in 2000
    • Beer.com sold for $7 million
    • Diamonds.com sold for $7.5 million
    • Business.com sold for $7.5 million in 1999
    • Porn.com sold for $9.5 million in 2007
    • Sex.com sold for $11 to $14 million in 2006