Show of 10-18-2008

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Andrew: Dear Tech Talk: I am thinking of going into computer science or information technology. What is your recommendation? Andrew
    • Tech Talk Answers: Computer science deals with the technology needed to create and build computers. The number of jobs in this area is limited. Information technology or computer information systems are the application of computers technology to the problems encountered in business. There are many jobs in this area. You could go into Software Engineering and learn how to build complex applications. You could go into Computer Security and learn how to protect systems and data. You could learn computer networking and manage a complex network or datacenter.
    • I would recommend reading What Color is Your Parachute by Dick Bolles. It can help yo assess you inner strengths and talents. Build you career on what you do best.
  • Profiles in IT: William Nelson Joy
    • William Nelson Joy (known as Bill Joy) co-founded Sun Microsystems and was the primary author of Berkeley UNIX, also known as BSD.
    • Bill Joy was born November 8, 1954 in Detroit, MI.
    • Joy received his BSEE from University of Michigan in 1975, MSEE from UC Berkeley in 1979.
    • Joy was responsible for Berkeley UNIX, also known as BSD, from which spring many modern forms of UNIX, including FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD.
    • Apple Computer has based much of Mac OS X on BSD technology.
    • During the early 1980s DARPA had contracted the company Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) to add TCP/IP to Berkeley UNIX.
    • While still in grad school, Joy had been instructed to plug BBN’s stack into Berkeley Unix, but he refused to do so, as he had a low opinion of BBN’s TCP/IP. So, Joy wrote a new high-performance TCP/IP stack.
    • Joy co-founded Sun Microsystems in 1982 along with Vinod Khosla, Scott McNealy, Andy Bechtolsheim and Vaughan Pratt, and served as chief scientist at the company until 2003.
    • Some of his most notable contributions were the vi editor, NFS, and the csh shell.
      • vi is a screen-oriented text editor written by Bill Joy in 1976 for an early BSD release. The name vi is derived from the shortest unambiguous abbreviation for the command visual in ex; the command in question switches the line editor ex to visual mode.
      • The C Shell (csh) is a command language interpreter incorporating a history mechanism, job control facilities, interactive file name and user name completion, and a C-like syntax. It is used both as an interactive login shell and a shell script command processor.
      • Network File System (NFS) is a network file system protocol originally developed by Sun Microsystems in 1983, allowing a user on a client computer to access files over a network as easily as if the network devices were attached to its local disks.
    • Joy was also a key figure in the development of the SPARC (Scalar Processor ARChitecture Computing) and the Java programming language.
    • In 1986, Joy was awarded a Grace Murray Hopper Award by the ACM for his work on the Berkeley UNIX Operating System.
    • On September 9, 2003 Sun announced that Bill Joy was leaving the company and that he "is taking time to consider his next move and has no definite plans".
    • In 2000 Joy gained notoriety with the publication of his article in Wired Magazine, "Why the future doesn’t need us", in which he declared that he advocated the relinquishment of GNR (Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics) technologies.
    • A discussion of these technologies with inventor and Technological Singularity thinker Ray Kurzweil started to set his thinking along this path.
    • Despite this he has become a venture capitalist, investing in GNR technology companies.
    • In 1999 Joy co-founded a venture capital firm, HighBAR Ventures, with two Sun colleagues: Andreas Bechtolsheim and Roy Thiele-Sardiña.
  • Free US wireless network a step closer
    • A free nationwide wireless Internet network has moved one step closer to becoming a reality in the US following a key finding by the FCC.
    • The proposed band is 2155-2175 MHz, or AWS-3, for Advanced Wireless Service.
    • Major US telecommunications companies have opposed opening up this unused portions of the US airwaves to wireless Web use.
    • US telecoms giant T-Mobile submitted test results claiming that using AWS-3 for wireless Internet use would interfere with mobile devices operating in the adjacent 2110-2155 MHz band known as AWS-1.
    • FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology said tests conducted in September at a facility in Washington state found there was no "significant risk of harmful interference."
    • A Silicon Valley start-up, M2Z Networks Inc. applied to the FCC, the US regulatory body, in May 2006 to lease the AWS-3 spectrum to build a free nationwide wireless broadband network.
    • M2Z pledged to ensure broadband coverage for 95 percent of the population within 10 years.
    • FCC chairman Kevin Martin has said repeatedly he favors extending free access to the Internet and has proposed auctioning off the portion of the spectrum that would be dedicated to free wireless use.
  • Loebner Prize Still Unclaimed
    • The 18th Loebner Prize Contest was be held 12 October 2008 at Reading University, UK under the direction of Professor Kevin Warwick
    • The Loebner Prize for artificial intelligence ( AI ) is the first formal example of a Turing Test.
    • The test is named after Alan Turing the British mathematician. Among his many accomplishments was basic research in computing science.
    • In 1950, in the article Computing Machinery and Intelligence which appeared in the philosophy journal Mind, Alan Turing asked the question "Can a Machine Think?"
    • He answered in the affirmative, but a central question was: "If a computer could think, how could we tell?" Turing’s suggestion was, that if the responses from the computer were indistinguishable from that of a human,the computer could be said to be thinking. This field is generally known as natural language processing.
    • In 1990 Hugh Loebner agreed with The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies to underwrite a contest designed to implement the Turing Test.
    • Dr. Loebner pledged a Grand Prize of $100,000 and a Gold Medal (pictured above) for the first computer whose responses were indistinguishable from a human’s.
    • Each year an annual prize of $2000 and a bronze medal is awarded to the most human-like computer. The winner of the annual contest is the best entry relative to other entries that year, irrespective of how good it is in an absolute sense.
    • Here are one computer contestants
      • Eugene Goostman is a 13-year-old boy from Odessa, Ukraine, the son of a talk-show host and a gynaecologist, who keeps a guinea pig called Bill in his bedroom and likes the science fiction novels.
      • He is also a work of fiction, a software program written by a bio-scientist from St Petersburg and a finalist in a contest to find the world’s first thinking computer, staged yesterday at Reading University.
      • His task was to convince judges, in five minutes of conversation, that he was a human being who really had read Slaughterhouse Five and could plausibly shoot the breeze about it and any other topic under the sun.
    • If more than 30 per cent of judges mistook the program for the human, the program would have passed Turing’s test, thus beginning a new age of thinking machines.
    • The Turing Test was not passed yesterday. It was a close run thing: Elbot, the eventual winner of this year’s prize was confused for a human by a quarter of the judges.
  • Study Warns of Hearing Loss From Music Players
    • Noise from personal music players is a routine annoyance for travelers on buses, trains and planes.
    • But it also threatens permanent hearing loss for millions who use them.
    • According to a scientific study for the European Union published last week, those who listened for five hours a week at high-volume settings exposed themselves to more noise than permitted in the noisiest factory or work place.
    • Maximum volume on some devices can generate as much noise as an airplane taking off nearby.
    • The study warns that young people do not realize the damage until years later.
    • Regularly listening to personal music players at high-volume settings when young often has no immediate effect on hearing, but is likely to result in hearing loss later in life.
    • The report is the latest of several to warn that the ?MP3? generation of youths may be heading for hearing impairment in later life.
    • Users listening at high volumes for more than an hour a day each week risk permanent hearing loss after five years.
    • Personal stereos and portable phones with a music-playing facility are considered a particular threat because ear-bud type earphones lead to a greater sound exposure than other types of listening devices.
  • Website of the Week: Tonzr
    • Web address: http://www.tonzr.com/
    • Tonzr provides MP3 ringtones (also known as "realtones") for free.
    • There is absolutely no hidden fees or subscriptions/
    • With over 6.2 million ringtones (and thousands being added every day), you can be sure we’ll have what you’re looking for.
    • Maybe you want more than just a 30 second ringtone. You can download the entire song in MP3 format, directly from Amazon for as low as $0.89 per song.
    • Tonzr was created by three teenagers in the age range of 15 to 17. It is supported without ads. And is currently their hobby.
  • Richard Garriott Is the Latest Space Tourist
    • Space tourist Richard Garriott is about to begin his 10-day stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS) following a successful docking this morning of the Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft.
    • Computer games designer Garriott, 47, paid Space Adventures around $17m for the privilege of joining American Mike Fincke and Russian Yuri Lonchakov on Expedition 18.
    • His father, Owen Garriott, spent 60 days aboard Skylab back in 1973.
    • Garriott will return to Earth in a Soyuz TMA-12 on 23 October.
    • Fincke and Lonchakov are both ISS vets, with the former on his second gig, and the latter on his third tour. They’ll be on board for six months, during which the crew will prep the station’s life-support equipment for a permanent compliment of six crew members from next year.
  • Can Microsoft Conquer Cloud Computing?
    • Microsoft is hoping it can leapfrog the competition yet again, with an operating system dubbed Windows Cloud.
    • No big technology company thrives on competition the way that Microsoft does.
      • Apple’s graphical user interface
      • Novell’s Netware network operating system
      • Netscape Navigator Internet browser.
    • And according to sources inside Microsoft, the next such about-face will come later this month, in the form of what is being called, for now, Windows Cloud.
    • Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer mentioned Windows Cloud for the first time last week in two European speeches.
    • All that has been said in public by Microsoft’s head of cloud computing, Amitabh Srivastava, is that the project is "risky."
    • A cloud is made by linking together any number of generic Intel-class computers so that they act like a single large, distributed computing platform.
      • An application running on a cloud can more easily scale up for larger audiences and is more resistant to failure.
      • A computing cloud may contain tens of thousands of computers distributed around the Internet running applications on the nearest, least-loaded server.
    • Google’s many Web applications run on a cloud of machines that may contain more than 100,000 nodes.
    • Precisely how the cloud-computing paradigm will fit with Microsoft’s operating systems and applications remains a mystery for now.
    • But one thing is clear: if Microsoft is to develop the technology needed to dominate the market, it will need to catch up quickly.
  • Yahoo Tanks, Microsoft Smiles
    • Yahoo is in a hell of its own making, said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer this week.
    • Microsoft isn’t planning to help it escape.
    • Ballmer, speaking at an event in Florida this week, was quoted in news reports saying, ?We offered 33 bucks not too long ago and it’s $11 today.? referring to Microsoft’s February bid of $33 a share, or $44.6 billion, which Yahoo rejected.
    • They probably still think it’s worth more than $33 a share.?
  • Future planes, cars may be made of Buckypaper
    • Buckypaper looks a lot like ordinary carbon paper, it is 10 times lighter than paper and potentially 500 times stronger than steel when sheets of it are stacked and pressed together to form a composite.
    • Unlike conventional composite materials, though, it conducts electricity like copper or silicon and disperses heat like steel or brass.
    • Buckypaper is made from tube-shaped carbon molecules 50,000 times thinner than a human hair.
    • So far, buckypaper can be made at only a fraction of its potential strength, in small quantities and at a high price.
    • The Florida State researchers are developing manufacturing techniques that soon may make it competitive with the best composite materials now available.
    • The scientific discovery that led to buckypaper virtually came from outer space.
    • In 1985, British scientist Harry Kroto joined researchers at Rice University for an experiment to create the same conditions that exist in a star. They wanted to find out how stars, the source of all carbon in the universe, make the element that is a main building block of life.
    • They discovered a molecule formed by 60 carbon atoms shaped like a soccer ball.
    • It also looked like the geodesic domes promoted by Buckminster Fuller, an architect, inventor and futurist, which inspired the name, buckyball.
    • Japanese physicist Sumio Iijima developed a tube-shaped variation while doing research at Arizona State University.
    • Researchers at Smalley’s laboratory then inadvertently found that the tubes would stick together when disbursed in a liquid suspension and filtered through a fine mesh, producing a thin film ? buckypaper.
    • Carbon nanotubes are already beginning to be used to strengthen tennis rackets and bicycles, but in small amounts.
    • It takes upward of five years to get a new structural material certified for aviation use.
    • The long-range goal is to build planes, automobiles and other things with buckypaper composites. The military also is looking at it for use in armor plating and stealth technology.
  • Food Science: Ice Cream
    • The origins of ice cream can be traced back to at least the 4th century B.C.
    • Early references include the Roman emperor Nero (A.D. 37-68) who ordered ice to be brought from the mountains and combined with fruit toppings, and King Tang (A.D. 618-97) of Shang, China who had a method of creating ice and milk concoctions.
    • Ice cream was likely brought from China back to Europe. Over time, recipes for ices, sherbets, and milk ices evolved and served in the fashionable Italian and French royal courts.
    • After it was imported to the United States, it was served by famous Americans.
    • George Washington and Thomas Jefferson served it to their guests.
      • In 1700, Governor Bladen of Maryland was recorded as having served it to his guests.
      • In 1774, a London caterer named Philip Lenzi announced in a New York newspaper that he would be offering for sale various confections, including ice cream.
      • Dolly Madison served it in 1812.
    • The first ice cream parlor in America opened in New York City in 1776.
      • American colonists were the first to use the term "ice cream".
      • The name came from the phrase "iced cream" that was similar to "iced tea". The name was later abbreviated to "ice cream" the name we know today.
    • Whoever invented the method of using ice mixed with salt to lower and control the temperature of ice cream ingredients during its making provided a major breakthrough in ice cream technology.
    • In 1846, Nancy Johnson patented a hand-cranked freezer that established the basic method of making ice cream still used today.
    • In 1851, Jacob Fussell in Baltimore established the first large-scale commercial ice cream plant. A
    • Ice Cream Cone: The walk-away edible cone made its American debut at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.
    • Soft Ice Cream — British chemists discovered a method of doubling the amount of air in ice cream creating soft ice cream.
    • Eskimo Pie — The idea for the Eskimo Pie bar was created by Chris Nelson, a ice cream shop owner from Onawa, Iowa. Originally Eskimo Pie was called the "I-Scream-Bar"
    • Haagen-Dazs — Reuben Mattus invented Haagen-Dazs in 1960, he choose the name because it sounded Danish.
    • DoveBar — The DoveBar was invented by Leo Stefanos.
    • In 1920, Harry Burt invented the Good Humor Ice Cream Bar and patented it in 1923.