Show of 10-11-2008

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Letter from Alex: Dear Tech Talk. We just got a wireless router for our Internet connection. Our neighbor’s son keeps logging onto the system and using our Internet account. Is there any way to stop him? Alex
    • Tech Talk Answers: It is easy to stop him Alex. The easiest is to encrypt your wireless signal so that any user will need to know the password to access you system. First you will need to log onto your router using your computer.
    • It is normally at the web address of 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1.
    • The default user name and password are frequently both set to admin. You can check your user manual to find out you user name and password. As soon as you log onto the router, reset the password.
    • Reset your SSID to something unique so you can identify your signal.
    • Now to go security setting and select an option (WEP, WPA, WPA2).
      • WEP is Wired Equivalent Privacy (either 64 or 128 bit key)
      • WPA is Wi-Fi Protected Access (either WPA or WPA2)
    • You can also use MAC address filtering to limit access only to certain MAC addresses. This does not address the privacy issue and is easily hacked.
    • To learn more, go to Wi-Fi Alliance (http://www.wi-fi.org/)
  • Profiles in IT: Jonathan Paul Ive
    • Jonathan Paul Ive is the principal designer of the iMac, aluminum PowerBook G4 (and MacBook Pro), iPod and iPhone.
    • Jonathan Ive, casually called Jony Ive, was born in February 1967 in London and grew up in Chingford, Essex
    • In interviews Jonathan has spoken about always being interested in the construction of objects as a child, and a fascination with taking those objects apart.
    • After attending school in the south of England he moved North to study art and design at Newcastle Polytechnic (now Northumbria University) in 1985.
    • He graduated with first class honors having created a pebble-shaped concept for a product to replace cash and credit cards as his final year project.
    • In 1990 Jonathan moved to London and co-founded his own design studio, Tangerine, with Martin Darbyshire.
    • He created products ranging from hair combs and power tools to televisions and ceramics. Jonathan designed toilets Ideal Standard after seeking inspiration from marine biology books.
    • Apple was a client of Tangerine and in 1992 Jonathan joined the Apple team.
    • When Jonathan joined Apple the company was at a low point. Steve Jobs had just been ousted in a boardroom coup orchestrated by John Sculley. Much of the design work was outsourced. Apple was losing ground to Windows by the day.
    • In 1997, Steve Jobs returned and began to revive Apple’s fortunes and return it to the industry leader that it is today. Jonathan Ive was instrumental to this turnaround.
    • Under the new Jobs-led Apple Ive was promoted to Senior Vice President of Industrial Design. The launch of visually stunning iMac G3 is regarded as the birth of the ?new Apple’ and brought Jonathan Ive to the attention of the world.
    • From the iBook to the PowerBook all Apple’s products were met with universal acclaim and became instant masterpieces of product design.
    • Jonathan brought simplicity, elegance and innovation to everything he touched.
    • The minimalist styling of the iPhone with only one button on its front is the signature of Jonathan Ive.
    • Jonathan’s work has influenced by many things.
      • The original candy-colored iMac had its roots in gumdrops.
      • The transparent Apple mouse came from thinking about drops of water.
      • The see-through outer casing of recent iBooks came from the look that food has when wrapped in plastic wrap.
      • The iPod is like a cigarette pack for those addicted to music instead of tobacco
      • The sunflower-inspired iMac G4
    • Jonathan is a modest and shy person, who often seems uncomfortable with the attention. When he won the D&AD award, it was Steve Jobs that received the award and made the acceptance speech although Jonathan attended the event.
    • He lives modestly, inhabiting a two bedroom house in Twin Peaks, San Francisco with his wife Heather (a historian) and their twin sons.
  • All Gmail Users Are Given Two Separate Email Addresses
    • You probably know how to create multiple email aliases in Gmail by adding the plus symbol and dots to your Gmail username but there’s something more interesting.
    • When you create a Gmail account, you actually get two email addresses – one is the regular @gmail.com while the second email address has @googlemail.com in the domain.
    • That means if your email address in Gmail is something like billgates@gmail.com, all email messages that are sent to billgates@googlemail.com will also be delivered to your own Gmail account.
    • Like the Gmail plus trick, you can take advantage of these two domains so that less spam reaches your Gmail Inbox.
    • Give the @googlemail.com address to your close contacts (put that in the visiting card) while keep the @gmail.com address for public (put it on your blog).
    • Then set a Gmail filter such that all email messages with @googlemail.com in the header go a special folder so you will never miss important email from close friends.
  • No More Drunk Emailing on Friday Nights
    • Email won’t leave your Gmail outbox unless you solve that Maths problem.
    • Gmail Labs today released an interesting feature to prevent you from sending mails that may you may regret later. It does so by asking you to confirm whether you really want to send that email.
    • So if you’re writing a mail late on a Friday night, when you may not be as sober as you would like yourself to be, you can get GMail to ask you a few math problems before the message leave your Gmail outbox.
    • You can enable this via the "Labs" tab on the Gmail "Settings" page. By default, the Mail Goggles feature of Gmail become active late night on the weekend, but you can set it to other times as well from Settings/General.
  • Committee adopts new third-party Web site regulations
    • Members of the House will be permitted to use third-party Web sites like YouTube to communicate with constituents as long as the content is for official purposes.
    • The new rules were adopted by the House Administration Committee.
    • These new guidelines are a step in the right direction since Congress that has been behind the technological curve for too long.
    • By encouraging the use of emerging and established new media tools, Congress is sending the message that we want to speak to citizens, and receive feedback, in the most open and accessible manner possible.
    • When a link to a Web site outside the member’s official site is embedded on the member’s official site, the member’s site must include an exit notice advising the visitor when they are leaving the House.
    • This exit notice must also include a disclaimer that neither the member nor the House is responsible for the content of the linked site(s).
    • The Senate regulations go further by creating a "nonexhaustive list" of approved sites that must agree to disclose when content is maintained by a Senate office.
  • LHC Computer Grid Launched
    • Three weeks after the first particle beams were injected into the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid combines the power of more than 140 computer centers from 33 countries to analyze and manage more than 15 million gigabytes of LHC data every year.
    • The United States is a partner in the development and operation of the WLCG.
    • Fifteen universities and three U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories from 11 states contribute to the project.
    • U.S. contributions to the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid are coordinated through the Open Science Grid, a national computing infrastructure for science.
    • The Open Science Grid not only contributes computing power for LHC data needs, but also for projects in many other scientific fields including biology, nanotechnology, medicine and climate science.
    • Dedicated optical fiber networks distribute LHC data from CERN in Geneva, Switzerland to eleven major ?Tier-1? computer centers in Europe, North America and Asia, including those at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.
    • From these, data is dispatched to more than 140 ?Tier-2? centers around the world, including twelve in the United States.
    • When the LHC starts running at full speed, it will produce enough data to fill about six CDs per second.
    • As the first point of contact for LHC data in the United States, the computing centers at Brookhaven and Fermilab are responsible for storing and distributing a great amount of this data for use by scientists around the country.
    • Grid computing allows university research groups at home and abroad to fully participate in the LHC project while fostering positive collaboration across different scientific departments on many campuses.
  • Skype admits privacy breach by Chinese partner
    • Citizen Lab, a group of computer security experts at the University of Toronto, revealed Wednesday that TOM Online was spying on TOM-Skype users in China.
    • Citizen Lab said the messages, with words such as "Tibet," "Communist Party" or "Democracy," contained Internet addresses, usernames and other information which could make the senders and recipients easily identifiable.
    • Skype president Josh Silverman said in a statement that TOM Online "just like any other communications company in China, has established procedures to meet local laws and regulations.
    • In April 2006, Skype admitted that TOM Online "operated a text filter that blocked certain words in chat messages" and unsuitable messages were to be "discarded and not displayed or transmitted anywhere."
    • In a statement, Hong Kong-based TOM Group said it was operating within Chinese laws.
    • Citizen Lab said "TOM-Skype is censoring and logging text chat messages that contain specific keywords and may be engaged in more targeted surveillance.
    • The Citizen Lab team said there was no evidence the captured data had been used by the Chinese authorities.
    • China exercises strict control over the Internet, blocking sites linked to Chinese dissidents, the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement, the Tibetan government-in-exile and those with information on the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.
    • A number of US companies, including giants Microsoft, Cisco, Google and Yahoo, have been hauled before the US Congress in recent years and accused of complicity in building what has been called the "Great Firewall of China."
  • California Favors Open Source Software for Voting Machines
    • California’s secretary of state, Debra Bowen, believes that open-source software should be used in elections involving electronic voting machines, to protect against error and fraud.
    • Bowen has a history of pushing for greater transparency and accountability in election technology.
    • After taking office in November 2006, she commissioned a top-to-bottom review of e-voting systems, including detailed analyses of source code, documentation, security, and usability. "
    • The study revealed a variety of problems, from software vulnerabilities that could let an attacker install malicious software that changes the outcome of a vote, to opportunities to tamper with the devices while they are held in storage.
    • When asked about future elections, Bowen said the one technology she’d like to see integrated into voting systems tomorrow is open-source software for creating ballots and tabulating votes.
    • Both tasks are horrendously complicated, she added, and so need to be very carefully monitored.
    • MIT computer science professor Ron Rivest, who has studied the security and privacy of voting systems, says that these systems should be designed to work even if the software underneath is somehow flawed.
    • San Francisco will experiment with new software in November. It’s one of the few cities already using instant-runoff voting, a system that lets voters rank candidates in order of preference instead of choosing just one.
    • The rankings data can be used to determine a winner if no candidate receives a majority of the vote
  • ClickJacking Is the New Vulnerability
    • Clickjacking, has caused enough anxiety among the security researchers.
    • Clickjacking enables an attacker to force a user click on an invisible link, obviously without his knowledge or consent.
    • When you might think you are clicking on your bank funds transfer link, or saving a favourite link at Digg, or Facebook application, the reality could be entirely different.
    • Clickjacking gives an attacker the ability to trick a user into clicking on something only barely or momentarily noticeable. Therefore, if users click on a Web page, they may actually be clicking on content from another page,
    • Using a frame buster script will protect a user who uses cross-domain scripting.
    • However, even a frame buster script will not prevent the attack if it’s on a site the user is visiting.
    • According to reports the vulnerability is expected to be so widespread that almost everyone could be affected by it as attackers can potentially get the users to click a button (thus the name clickjacking).
    • There is however no viable foolproof defense against clickjacking at this time.
  • World Bank Under Cyber Siege.
    • The World Bank Group’s computer network ? one of the largest repositories of sensitive data about the economies of every nation ? has been raided repeatedly by outsiders for more than a year.
    • Sources inside the bank confirm that servers in the institution’s highly-restricted treasury unit were deeply penetrated with spy software last April.
    • Invaders had access to the rest of the network for nearly a month in June and July.
    • At least six major intrusions ? two of them using the same group of IP addresses originating from China ? have been detected at the World Bank since 2007.
    • While it remains unclear how much data has been pilfered from the bank.
    • World Bank says that as many as 40 servers have been penetrated, including one that
    • Some insiders fear that contractors might be seeking advance knowledge on the status of the bank’s anti-corruption probes.
    • The first breach of the bank’s secrets was discovered in September, 2007, after the FBI ?while at work on a different cybercrime case ? notified the bank that something was wrong.
    • The second major breach was of the bank’s treasury network in Washington .
    • After a forensic analysis of the treasury breach, bank investigators discovered that spy software was covertly installed on workstations inside the bank’s Washington headquarters.
    • The key logging transmitted every keystroke to a still-unknown location.
    • The truly alarming fact, however, is that someone ? or many people ? seem to know their way around the bank’s most valuable resource very well, even though they aren’t supposed to be there at all.
  • New Media Plan to Combat Taliban
    • A radical new plan is being considered by the UK government to counter growing Taliban propaganda in Afghanistan.
    • The program involves using new media like mobile phones and the internet to empower ordinary Afghans to contradict the prevailing Taliban message.
    • Non-governmental organizations would distribute mobile phones to Afghans for them to make their own video diaries.
    • Anti-Western films already circulate on Afghanistan’s estimated 6m mobiles.
    • These films are also distributed among the country’s half a million internet users.
    • Propaganda war
    • It envisages having up to 100 short films made by Afghans ready in time for a film festival next summer.
    • Whitehall officials say the aim is to deprive the Taleban of its virtual monopoly on propaganda using new media.
    • BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said there was a growing realization that the US-led coalition had been losing the propaganda war in Afghanistan.
    • The coalition’s reputation was particularly damaged by the recent distribution of mobile phone footage showing the bodies of dozens of Afghan civilians killed in a US-led raid in August.
  • Food Science: Cooking with Alcohol
    • How much alcohol remains after cooking?
      • Alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat – 85% remains
      • Alcohol flamed – 75% remains
      • No heat, stored overnight – 70% remains
      • Baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture – 45% remains
      • Baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture for:
        • 15 minutes – 40% remains
        • 30 minutes – 35% remains
        • 1 hour – 25% remains
        • 1.5 hours – 20% remains
        • 2 hours – 10% remains
        • 2.5 hours – 5% remains
      • Source: US Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Laboratory
    • Why cook with Vodka if it is flavorless?
      • In some recipes, vodka is used to achieve a chemical reaction in a dish.
      • Vodka added to marinades, for example, can help break down tough fibers and tenderize meats.
      • Vodka added to cheese and cream sauces lowers the boiling point to help prevent curdling.
      • It is also very effectively used to deglaze pans during the cooking process in order to dissolve and impart alcohol-soluble flavor compounds to foods or sauces.
      • And sometimes vodka may be added to provide a last minute burst of flavor, to complete the cooking process, or to enhance presentation ? as in a flambé.