Show of 7-12-2008

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from G. Rice: Hi Tech Talk Radio, I recently stumbled onto Tech Talk Radio from October 13, 2007 in which you discussed IBM Fellow Reynold B. Johnson. I knew Rey from early 1970s until his death in 1998. I worked for him at Education Engineering Associates on Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto. Although your comments suggested that Rey did not benefit from his inventions and didn’t get any stock options etc., that is entirely opposite of the truth. He once said to me: …And the IBM stocks just kept splitting and splitting". Rey and his wife Bea had a very comfortable upscale Palo Alto home on Crescent Circle. They lived comfortably and travelled as they pleased. While I worked for them I had the key to the lab door as they made frequent trips. Rey was an exceptionally intelligent man and also a sincere and modest person. He taught me much of product development and the patent process. In my spare time I did research into laser holography and he encouraged my work. I still miss him to this day. Thanks, G. Rice
    • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the feedback. Reynold Johnson was inventor of the first computer hard drive.
  • Profiles in IT: Alan Curtis Kay
    • Alan Curtis Kay is known for his early pioneering work on object-oriented programming and windowing graphical user interface design. The Apple interface was based on his work while at Zerox.
    • Alan Curtis Kay was born May 17, 1940 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
    • Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Australia where they lived for a few years before moving permanently back to the United States.
    • Kay attended Bethany College in West Virginia but he was expelled in 1961.
    • Briefly he turned to music, giving guitar lessons to support himself until he discovered his aptitude for computer programming.
    • He completed his B.S. in Mathematics and Molecular Biology in 1966 from the University of Colorado.
    • He continued his studies at the University of Utah where he received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering in 1968.
    • While a graduate student, he worked on the Utah ARPA project where he developed the idea of dynamic object-oriented programming.
    • Kay had come to the realization that computer users can and should interact with these powerful machines in many different ways ? not just text. He recognized that it was possible to represent computer objects and capabilities as pictures.
    • In 1969 he began teaching at the Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He designed a small, compact, portable computer that kids could use. He created what is now known as the world’s first portable notebook, the "Dynabook.?
    • In 1970 Kay joined Xerox PARC. He led a team working on the development of computer workstations. Kay developed a long list of computing advances, not the least of which was Smalltalk, the first object-oriented programming language. This lead to the development of operating systems with a graphical user interface or GUI.
    • This was part of the larger process at PARC that created an entire genre of personal computing including: the GUI, Ethernet, Laser printing, modern word processing, client-servers and peer-peer networking.
    • GUI systems were subsequently used in Apple’s Macintosh operating system as well as in Microsoft’s Windows.
    • More recently, Kay’s Smalltalk evolved an open-source version known as Squeak dynamic media software. Squeak continues to be a widely used, highly touted and user-friendly system.
    • After Kay left Xerox PARC in 1983, he was named a Chief Scientist at Atari, where he worked for three years.
    • He was also a Fellow of Apple Computer for 12 years, from 1984-1997.
    • He then served for five years as Vice President of Research and Development and Disney Fellow at The Walt Disney Company in Los Angeles.
    • In 2001 he founded Viewpoints Research Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to children and learning.
    • He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at UCLA a Visiting Professor at Kyoto University, and an Adjunct Professor at MIT.
  • Singularity is Near (Revisted)
    • A Book Published by Kursweil in 2005
    • The Singularity is future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed.
    • The key idea underlying the book is that the pace of change of our human-created technology is accelerating and its powers are expanding at an exponential pace.
    • Kurzweil claims our knowledge of the brain’s many functions and self-organizing structure is also growing exponentially, and that the convergence of powerful computing and a deep understanding of the brain means The Age of Non-biological Intelligence is much closer than most people think.
    • This will be enabled by three overlapping technologies.
      • Genetics. The first wave of change. Changing our genes on-the-fly with gene therapy will become practical; "Genetic Engineering" will start to live up to its name. Intelligence and body augmentation will be common by 2020, and non-augmented people are at a significant competitive disadvantage. Most genetic ailments, lifestyle problems, and age-related decline will are essentially eliminated for those who can afford it by 2020 to 2025.
      • Nanotechnology. The second wave of change. Within a few decades nano-manufacturing will take off. Nearly all physical goods become inexpensive, the majority of the cost being the price of the product’s blueprint. Tiny nanobots are integrated into our bodies, aiding in memory and cognition, acting as a super immune system, carrying out repair tasks, and enabling virtual reality. Portions of our bodies and brains will become non-biological.
      • Robotics/AI. Kurzweil believes that the functionality of the human brain is quantifiable in terms of technology that we can build in the near future. He contends that much of the complexity of the brain arises from simple probabilistic and self-organizational methods spelled out in our genetic code. He predicts that we will design a new, non-biologically-constrained intelligence more capable than ourselves, which presumably will design an intelligence more capable than itself. 2045 is the projected date for to occur.
    • He discusses the dangers and opportunities of this new technology. Destructive self-replicating nanobots, evil AI, genetically altered deseases.
    • Now some shortcomings.
      • Kurzweil doesn’t address human behavior, such as the manner in which we depart from perfect rationality, deal with change, and find motivation.
      • He identifies quality of life only with technological advancement.
      • He doesn’t speak to the potential of the first nation, lab, group, or individual that reaches a certain level of technological prowess to solidify their lead.
      • He doesn’t go into what may come of people or intelligences being able to directly tinker with their emotions and motivations.
      • He believes that the quest for more intelligence is equivalent to consciousness.
    • This book will capture your imagination. The most complete picture of the state of the technological future that I have seen
  • Website of the Week: Dreamspark
    • Web Address: https://downloads.channel8.msdn.com/
    • Microsoft DreamSpark enables students to download professional-level Microsoft developer and design tools at no charge.
    • In order to get this software from Microsoft at no charge, you will be asked to establish or verify your student status once every 12 months.
    • Selected software available for download
      • Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
      • Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition
      • MS SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition
      • MS Expression Studio
      • Game Studio 2.0
      • Visual C# 2005 Express Edition
      • Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition
      • Visual Web 2005 Express Edition
      • Visual J# 2005 Express Edition
      • MS Virtual PC
  • Are SSD’s Worth the Price?
    • According to Joel Hagberg, VP of business development at Fujitsu, the advantages of SSD over CSDs (conventional spinning drives) — better performance, improved reliability, and lower power consumption — are minimal and do not justify adding $1,000 to the price of a notebook.
    • Fujitsu customers returned mostly negative feedback on SSD laptops, having found neither significant performance advantage nor much improvement in battery life.
    • The LCD panel, the CPU, and the DRAM are the three power hogs in a notebook, and those are still there with a SSD.
    • Fujitu saw only a 10- to 15-minute improvement with the SSDs.
    • SSDs do provide improved reliability when compared with CSDs.
    • SSDs however require wear-leveling.
      • Memory cells that flash-memory chips and SSDs are made of can sustain only a finite number of erase-write cycles.
      • There seems to be a consensus around that number: It varies between 100,000 and 1 million cycles, depending on the "quality" of the flash memory used.
      • Manufacturers implement a wear-leveling strategy, distributing writes across cells, so that no cell will be forced to an early failure.
  • Apple iPhone 3G Released on Friday
    • Pros: Supports 3G network, includes GPS, has third party apps
    • Cons: Higher phone service cost and reduced battery times
    • Cost: 8-GB model sells for $199 and 16-GB for $299
    • Probably not worth upgrading from older iPhone model. You will get a free upgrade to give you access to the third party apps.
    • Initial rush overloaded servers for activation. Many users impatient.
  • Internet’s Domain Name Servers Coordinated Patch
    • Last Tuesday, major vendors released patches to address a flaw in DNS. Researchers say this is the largest synchronized security update in the history of the Web.
    • Vendors and security researchers are hoping that their coordinated efforts will get the fix out to most of the systems that need it before attackers are able to identify the flaw and begin to exploit it.
    • Attackers could use the flaw to control Internet traffic, potentially directing users to phishing sites or sites loaded with malicious software.
    • The flaw in the DNS was discovered six months ago by security researcher Dan Kaminsky, director of penetration testing services at IOActive.
    • The flaw that Kaminsky found could allow attackers to take control of the system and direct Internet traffic wherever they want it to go. A user might type in the address for the Bank of America website, for example, and be redirected to a phishing site.
    • Details of the flaw are being kept secret for now. After Kaminsky discovered it, he quietly notified the major vendors of hardware and software for domain name servers.
    • In March, he was one of 16 researchers who met at Microsoft to plan how to deal with the flaw without releasing information that could help attackers.
    • Since the flaw is in the design of the domain name system itself, it afflicts products made by a variety of vendors.
    • The flaw also poses more problems for servers than it does for Web surfers.
    • When a domain name server responds to a request for a website’s location, it provides a confirmation code that is one of 65,000 numbers, as assurance that the transaction is authentic. "What has been discovered," Kaminsky says, "is that, for undisclosed reasons, 65,000 is just not enough, and we need a source of more randomness.
    • Kaminsky says he’s glad that vendors were willing to work together to address the flaw
  • FCC chief says Comcast violated Internet rules
    • The head of the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday he will recommend that the nation’s largest cable company be punished for violating agency principles that guarantee customers open access to the Internet.
    • The potentially precedent-setting move stems from a complaint against Comcast Corp. that the company had blocked Internet traffic among users of a certain type of "file sharing" software that allows them to exchange large amounts of data.
    • Comcast has "arbitrarily" blocked Internet access, regardless of the level of traffic, and failed to disclose to consumers that it was doing so.
    • The action was in response to a complaint filed by Free Press and Public Knowledge, nonprofit groups that advocate for "network neutrality," the idea that all Internet content should be treated equally.
    • The FCC approved a policy statement in September 2005 that outlined a set of principles meant to ensure that broadband networks are "widely deployed, open, affordable and accessible to all consumers."
    • The principles, however, are "subject to reasonable network management."
  • Food Science: Why is Fish White?
    • There are two types of protein myosin that be found in muscle
    • Slow fibers
      • Slow fibers burn fats to provide energy.
      • These muscles need oxygen to operate.
      • Slow fibers are suited for working continuously.
    • Fast fibers
      • Fast fibers burn glycogen and do not need oxygen.
      • Fast fibers do not need myoglobin and are always white.
      • Fast fibers can only operate in short bursts.
      • Fibers are short and fall apart when cooked.
    • Land animals need to support their own weight and hence must have slow fibers.
    • Fish swim in busts and are supported by water and can be by with fast fibers.
    • Sharks which must continuously are an exception.