Show of 6-7-2008

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Tom: Dear Dr. Shurtz, Several weeks ago I wrote to you to ask about purchasing a UPS that had absolutely no RF interference. As a good student, when you answered my question, I took notes and then followed your advice.  I ended up buying a Tripp Lite Smart1000LCD. One of the requirements you mentioned was that it meets the FCC class B standards which this one does.
    • Generally speaking, I am happy with it. However, it has the same problem my older Tripp Lite UPS has. A couple times a day it produces a very loud buzz saw type of sound on the AM and shortwave bands. The sound lasts for only four or five seconds but it often scares me half to death. Otherwise it seems to be pretty RF interference quiet.
    • I ended up purchasing a new transceiver but I got an old fashioned linear type of power supply for it that uses a good old transformer to step down the voltage. It’s the difference between five pounds and thirty pounds but I don’t intend to carry it anywhere.
    • Well, if you’ve gotten this far, let me say I listen to your radio program every week and enjoy it very much. Thank you for the service. Tom
  • Profiles in IT: Edgar Frank ?Ted Codd
    • He was a computer scientist who invented the relational model for database management, the theoretical basis for relational databases.
    • Edgar Frank "Ted" Codd was born Aug 23, 1923 on the Isle of Portland, in England.
    • After attending Poole Grammar School, he studied math and chemistry at Exeter College, Oxford, before serving as a pilot in the Royal Air Force during WWII.
    • In 1948, he moved to New York to work for IBM as a mathematical programmer.
    • In 1953, angered by Senator Joseph McCarthy, Codd moved to Ottawa, Canada.
    • A decade later he returned to the U.S. and received his doctorate in computer science from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
    • In 1965, he moved to San Jose, California to work at IBM’s Almaden Research Center, where he continued to work until the 1980s.
    • In the 1960s and 1970s he worked out his theories of data arrangement, issuing his paper "A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks" in 1970, after an internal IBM paper one year earlier.
    • To his disappointment, IBM proved slow to exploit his suggestions until commercial rivals started implementing them.
    • Initially, IBM refused to implement the relational model in order to preserve revenue from IMS/DB (Information Management System Database).
    • Codd then showed IBM customers the potential of the implementation of its model, and they in turn pressured IBM.
    • Then IBM included in its Future Systems project a System R subproject ? but put in charge of it developers who were not thoroughly familiar with Codd’s ideas.
    • As a result, they did not use Codd’s own Alpha language but created a non-relational one, SEQUEL. This team was led by Donald Chamberlin and Raymond Boyce.
    • SEQUEL was so superior to pre-relational systems that it was copied, based on pre-launch papers presented at conferences, by Larry Ellison in his Oracle Database, which actually reached market before SQL/DS because SEQUEL was trademarked.
    • As the relational model started to become fashionable in the early 1980s, Codd fought a sometimes bitter campaign to prevent the term being misused by database vendors.
    • As part of this campaign, he published his 12 rules to define what constituted a relational database. His campaign extended to the SQL language, which he regarded as an incorrect implementation of the theory.
    • This made his position in IBM increasingly difficult, so he left to form his own consulting company with Chris Date and others.
    • During the 1990s, his health deteriorated and he ceased work.
    • Codd received the Turing Award in 1981
    • In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.
    • Codd died of heart failure at his home in Williams Island, Florida at the age of 79 on Friday, April 18, 2003.
  • Virtualization and Thin-Client Software Challenge Microsoft
    • The recent activity and interest around virtualization including the VMware IPO and Citrix acquisition of XenSource is indicative of the importance of virtualization as the leading technology of the 21st century.
      • In a weak tech market, the VMware IPO emerged as a star.
      • The timing of the Citrix acquisition of XenSource was well timed.
      • XenSource is an open source company specializing in hypervisors, technology that allows multiple operating systems to simultaneously run on a single host computer.
    • What does this really mean?
      • It means the way Microsoft has shaped the market with the operating system, Windows, as the building block is about to undergo a transformation.
      • The transformation means that technology can be built to run on any device, duplicated elsewhere and keep track of where and how it is running.
    • Think about the possibilities this can create. Software will not be tied to an operating system, rather it will be a malleable environment capable of running where the user wants it to.
    • Microsoft is aware of this intention to dismantle and prove the operating system, its franchise business of Windows, irrelevant.
    • Microsoft certainly has a significant territory to protect.
    • The software giant made public statements regarding its intent to deliver virtualization, of course as part of the operating system.
    • However, their timeline has been delayed.
    • Virtualization technology, specifically, VMware has been the only company to seriously threaten Microsoft’s franchise business.
    • Citrix, with its XenSource acquisition, is now entering that elite group along with VMware.
  • Rubik’s Cube Can Be Solved With 23 Turns
    • Link: http://63.197.151.31/
    • Tom Rokicki has proven that all positions of Rubik’s cube can be solved in 23 or fewer face turns.
    • Previously he proved the theorem for 25 turns.
    • This proof was made possible by the contribution of CPU time from Sony Pictures Imageworks with the help of John Welborn, on the same machines used for movies such as Spider-Man 3 and Surf’s Up.
    • Tom is currently working on the theorem for 22 turns.
  • History of Rubik’s Cube
    • Rubik’s Cube was invented by Erno Rubik.
    • Erno Rubik was born in Budapest, Hungary during World War II.
    • Rubik studied sculpture in college, but after graduating, he went back to learn architecture at a small college called the Academy of Applied Arts and Design.
    • Rubik’s initial attraction to inventing the Cube was not in producing the best selling toy puzzle in history. The structural design problem interested Rubik; he asked, "How could the blocks move independently without falling apart?"
    • In Rubik’s Cube, twenty-six individual little cubes or cubies make up the big Cube.
    • Each layer of nine cubies can twist and the layers can overlap.
    • His solution was to have the blocks hold themselves together by their shape.
    • Rubik hand carved and assembled the little cubies together. He marked each side of the big Cube with adhesive paper of a different color, and started twisting.
    • That was how the Cube as a puzzle, was invented in the spring of 1974, when the twenty-nine year old Rubik discovered it was not so easy to realign the colors to match on all six sides.
    • Rubik applied for his Hungarian patent in January 1975 and left his invention with a small toy making cooperative in Budapest. The patent approval came in early 1977.
    • The first Cubes appeared at the end of 1977.
    • Ideal Toy Corporation bought the rights to Rubik’s Cube.
  • Document of the Week: Guide to NIST Information Security Documents
    • Web Address: http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/CSD_DocsGuide.pdf
    • Currently, there are over 250 NIST information security documents.
    • This Guide is designed to make NIST information security documents more accessible, especially to those just entering the security field.
    • NIST Information Security Documents include the following categories.
      • The Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) Publication Series is the official series of publications relating to standards and guidelines adopted and promulgated under the provisions of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002.
      • The Special Publication 800-series reports on ITL’s research, guidelines, and outreach efforts in information system security and its collaborative activities with industry, government, and academic organizations.
      • ITL Bulletins are published by the Information Technology Laboratory. Each bulletin presents an in-depth discussion of a single topic of significant interest to the information systems community. Bulletins are issued on an as-needed basis.
      • The NIST Interagency Report series may report results of projects of transitory or limited interest. They may also include interim or final reports on work performed by NIST for outside sponsors (both government and non-government).
  • Spam Statistics
    • Top Spam Generators (number of IP addresses)
      • China
      • Brazil
      • Turkey
      • United States
      • Germany
      • Russia
    • Number of US fraud complaints in 2007: 221,226
    • Internet fraud losses in 2007: $525.7 million
    • Source: Team Cymru Security, Burr Ridge, IL
  • Device of the Week: Botanicalls Twitter kit
    • Botanicalls Twitter lets plants reach out for human help! It offers a connection to your leafy pal via online Twitter status updates to your mobile phone.
    • The Botanicalls Twitter kit includes all the hardware you need to create a networked communication system for your plant.
    • A moisture sensor placed into the soil will send information to simple electronic detection circuitry you solder together yourself.
    • Twitter updates are then sent out via an onboard Ethernet connection to the Internet, where they can be viewed online or routed to your mobile phone.
    • The Botanialls Twitter kit includes all the parts you need, including an Arduino microcontroller board, custom moisture sensing system, Ethernet adapter, 120V wall-wart power supply, USB cable for programming and a short length of Ethernet cable
    • Website: http://www.adafruit.com/
    • Price: $149.00
  • Website of the Week: Corkd
    • Web Address: http://www.corkd.com/
    • Cork’d is a free service for wine lovers.
    • You can use Cork’d to catalog, rate and review wines you’ve tasted.
    • You can also keep track of wines you’d like to try and buy as well as subscribe to what your buddies have reviewed.
    • It’s a new way to discover and share wine. It includes the following features.
      • Wine Journal. This is where you catalog, rate and review the wines you’ve tried.
      • Wine Cellar. Your Wine Cellar is a list of bottles that you own, but haven’t tried yet.
      • Shopping List. Here’s where you can keep track of wines you’d like to buy.
      • Drinking Buddies. You can add other Cork’d members as Drinking Buddies. By doing so, you’ll be alerted each time a buddy adds a new Wine Jounal entry.
      • Recommendations. After you’ve reviewed a wine, you have the option of recommending it to any or all of your Drinking Buddies.
    • This is a great idea. Social networking applied to wine.
  • Food Science: Tea
    • Tea History (severely abridged)
      • 2737 BC The second emperor of China, Shen Nung, discovers tea when tea leaves blow into his cup of hot water or so the story goes.
      • 479 AD Turkish traders bargain for tea on the border of Mongolia.
      • 593 AD Buddhism and tea journey from China to Japan. Japanese priests studying in China carried tea seeds and leaves back.
      • 648-749 AD Japanese monk Gyoki plants the first tea bushes in 49 Buddhist temple gardens. Tea in Japan is rare and expensive, enjoyed mostly by high priests and the aristocracy
      • 1589 AD Europeans learn about tea when a Venetian author credits the lengthy lives of Asians to their tea drinking
      • 1610 AD The Dutch bring back green tea from Japan (although some argue it was from China). ? Dutch East India Company market tea as an exotic medicinal drink, but it’s so expensive only the aristocracy can afford the tea and its serving pieces.
      • 1618 AD Chinese ambassadors present the Russian Czar Alexis with many chests of tea, which a1650 ? The Dutch introduce several teas and tea traditions to New Amsterdam, which later becomes New York.
      • 1908 AD New York tea importer Thomas Sullivan inadvertently invents tea bags when he sends tea to clients in small silk bags, and they mistakenly steep the bags whole.
    • Black, Green and Oolong teas are all derived from the Camellia sinensis evergreen plant. The difference comes from how the plant is processed. Common processing terms are withering, rolling, oxidation, and drying or firing.
      • Withering: Newly picked leaves are thinly spread to dry during this process. Heated air is forced over the leaves if the climate is not suitable. The main goal of this process is to reduce the water content. By the end of this process, the leaves should be pliable enough to be rolled.
      • Rolling: From the withering racks, the leaves are now twisted and rolled so that the leaf cells are broken up. Sometimes shaking is done as well. Oils are released with this rolling process that gives the tea its distinctive aroma. The leaves can be rolled with machinery or by hand. The juices that are released remain on the leaf; a chemical change will occur shortly.
      • Oxidation: This is the chemical process where oxygen is absorbed. This process began once the leaf membranes were broken during the rolling process. Oxidation causes the leaves to turn bright copper in color. This process is the main factor whether we have Green, Oolong or Black tea.
      • Drying or Firing: In this stage the leaves are dried evenly and thoroughly without burning the leaves. Firing the leaves stops the oxidation process.
    • Types of processes tea
      • Black Tea: The Black tea process goes through the most stages. Once the leaves are picked, they are left to wither for several hours. After the leaves are rolled, oils from the leaves are brought to the surface. These aromatic oils aid in the oxidation process, which last for several hours. The last step consists of placing the leaves in an oven with temperatures reaching up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The resulting product is brownish (sometimes black) in color.
      • Oolong Tea: Oolong goes through a similar process that black tea goes through. The first two steps are withering and rolling. Instead of rolling, sometimes shaking is done to bruise the outer edges of the leaves. The oxidation period for oolong is half that of black tea.
      • Green Tea: The process for making green tea is the shortest. Withering is done first, but this step might be omitted. Rolling the leaves to break the membranes for oxidation is skipped, hence the oxidation process is also skipped.
  • Couple’s Supposedly Destroyed Hard Drive Purchased
    • A year ago, Henry and Roma Gerbus took their computer to Best Buy in Springfield Township, Ohio, to have its hard drive replaced.
    • Henry Gerbus said Best Buy assured him the computer’s old hard drive — loaded with personal information — would be destroyed by drilling holes in it.
    • A few months ago, Gerbus got a phone call from a man in Chicago.
    • "He said, ‘My name is Ed. I just bought your hard drive for $25 at a flea market in Chicago.
    • Through information listed on the hard drive, the man in Chicago was able to contact the couple.
    • "He said, ‘Do you want me to wipe it clean or send it to you?’
    • Gerbus received the hard drive a few weeks later.
    • As a precaution, the couple alerted the major credit bureaus to protect their information.
    • Best Buy issued the following statement:
    • "Our company values and places the utmost importance on maintaining the privacy of our customers. We will fully investigate these allegations."
  • NASA’s Phoenix Lander Update
    • Phoenix lander scoops up soil on Mars.
    • The NASA spacecraft uses its robotic arm to gather the sample, which will be tested for evidence that the Red Planet could have supported life.
    • After nearly two weeks of testing and preparation, NASA’s Phoenix lander on Friday began its first day of scientific work at Mars’ north pole.
    • The lander’s robotic arm delivered a scoop of soil to an oven attached to the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, known as TEGA.
    • Phoenix is the first spacecraft sent to Mars to hunt for water.
    • NASA’s orbiting Mars Odyssey spacecraft has found the spectral evidence of large amounts of ice at the north pole
    • During the three-month, $420-million mission managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Phoenix will dig down to the ice layer and deliver samples to a variety of scientific instruments that will test for organic compounds that could indicate Mars once might have been, or might be, home to rudimentary life forms.
    • Organic compounds contain carbon, often in combination with hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen.
    • Carbon is important because it is one of a few elements that can build long and complex molecules necessary to make living organisms.
    • Since the 756-pound, 7-foot-tall Phoenix lander touched down May 25, scientists have been doing test digs in preparation for scientific work.
    • A picture of the soil in the scoop beamed back to Earth showed the familiar reddish-brown dirt, with an inch-size clump containing whitish streaks that some scientists think could be ice.
    • Each of the eight ovens is about an inch long, with an opening about the size of a pencil lead.
    • TEGA will gradually heat the samples, eventually to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, to study the gases given off in a mass spectrometer.
    • Samples will also be sent to the Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer, which will dissolve the soil in water and test its acidity, among other things.
    • The microscopy part of the instrument will examine Martian soil particles at a scale never before seen on another planet.
    • It will take one week to complete the analysis.