Show of 10-25-2008

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Andrew: I want to get my kids interested in computers, not just computer games. What do you suggest?
    • Tech Talk Answers: I suggest you get them hooked on programming robotic devices. There are many different options. And you can have fun too.
    • My favorite is Lego Mindstorms (http://mindstorms.lego.com/eng/) $250.00
    • Search to robot kits on the Internet. Many simpler kits (already programmed) are available.
    • Other web sources
    • Lynxmotion (http://www.lynxmotion.com/)
    • Robot Store (http://robotstore.com/)
  • Profiles in IT: Chuck Thacker
    • Thacker was the chief designer of the Alto, the first personal computer to use a bit-mapped display and mouse, a pre-cursor to the Apple PC.
    • Chuck Thacker was born February 26, 1943 in Pasadena, California.
    • Thacker received a BS degree in Physics from UC-Berkeley in 1967.
    • He wanted to design particle accelerators as an experimental physicist.
    • Thacker joined the university’s Project Genie in 1968, an arly timesharing system.
    • The Genie team later formed the Berkeley Computer Corporation, and there Thacker led the design of their new computer’s processor and memory subsystem.
    • BCC supplied the core group for the newly-formed Computer Science Laboratory at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), which Thacker joined in 1970.
    • He was the project leader of the MAXC timesharing system, one of the first systems to make use of semiconductor memory.
    • He led he development of the Alto workstation, the first personal workstation using a bit-mapped display and mouse to provide a user interface based on overlapping windows.
    • Responsible for the design and engineering of the Alto hardware, Thacker also wrote much of its microcode, hand-built the first batch of Altos, and oversaw production for the rest.
    • He co-invented Ethernet with Bob Metcalf.
    • He contributed to the world’s first laser printer, and to the "Dorado" high-performance personal workstation.
    • Steve Jobs visited PARC and saw the Alto’s GUI and the rest is history.
    • The PARC team created a very expensive Alto workstation ($100,000). They were counting on Moore’s Law to make it practical.
    • The problem was that Xerox was a copier company and at that time Xerox’s main business was under attack by low-end copiers from Japan. PARC did not fit in.
    • In 1983 Chuck was a founder of DEC’s Systems Research Center (SRC) in Palo Alto, California. He led development of Firefly, the first multiprocessor workstation
    • Thacker also worked in computer networking, leading development of AN1 and AN2 networking systems.
    • In 1997, he joined Microsoft to help establish the company’s Cambridge, U.K. Research Laboratory.
    • After returning to the U.S. in 1999, he joined the newly-formed Tablet PC group and managed the design of the first prototypes of this new device.
    • He is currently establishing a group at Microsoft Research in Silicon Valley to explore new areas in computer architecture.
    • Thacker is a member of the IEEE, a fellow of the ACM, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
    • The National Academy of Engineering, which awarded him the 2004 Charles Stark Draper prize for the vision, conception, and development of the first practical networked personal computers.
    • In 2007, he was awarded the IEEE Von Neumann Medal for a central role in the creation of the personal computer and the development of networked computers.
  • Einstein’s 5 Maxims for Creative Excellence
    • Imagination is more important than knowledge.
      • What it means: Don’t let ignorance hold you back! What the beginner might lack in knowledge she makes up for with a lack of preconceived notions. Learn as you go and don’t be afraid to question the status quo.
    • Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.
      • What it means: Don’t spend all your time reading the thoughts of others. You’ll learn more and become more creative by creating for yourself.
    • The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
      • What it means: Be curious, playful, whimsical. The world is a fascinating place. Don’t get bogged down by the details of daily life.
    • The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.
      • What it means: Follow your curiosity wherever it leads. Don’t be afraid of the unknown, rather embarrass the magical excitement of mystery.
    • The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
      • What it means: Take inspiration and make it your own. Don’t steal the work of others, but don’t be afraid to use their best ideas to enhance your own creativity.
  • What is Worth Learning?
    • Keeping up with the high pace of technology charge required a shift in mindset.
    • Anticipate where the field is going and what you will need to know.
    • Ignore the marketing hype and latest fads and try to understand the underlying concepts and theory.
    • How can you keep up and where can you begin?
    • How can kids be encouraged to learn for the sheer joy of learning?
    • Becoming a continuous learner
  • Trends in IT Technology
    • Convergence (voice, data, video)
    • Unified messaging (cell phones, handhelds, laptops, desktops, PDAs)
    • Virtualization for scalability and manageability
    • Open Source (Linux Servers, Linux Desktops following, OpenOffice, GIMPShop)
    • Distributed applications (cloud computing, TB data storage, Google Gears)
    • Green technology (recycling and power efficiency)
    • Merging of the mobile phone and the Internet
  • Trends in IT Employment
    • Server Technology (includes Microsoft and Linux Certifications)
    • Application Development (includes .Net and Java certifications)
    • Database Management (includes Oracle, MSSQL, MySQL certifications)
    • Internetworking Technology (includes Cisco and Wireless certifications)
    • Computer Security Management (includes CISSP and SANS security certifications)
    • Computer Forensics (includes Computer Forensics certifications)
  • New Class of Worm Infects Internet
    • A recent wave of web worms appearing on social networking websites represent a new generation of more sophisticated computer worms.
    • Early forms of the computer threats classified as worms were intended more for causing havoc or were designed for proof-of-concept purposes to determine if vulnerabilities could be exploited.
    • Recently, however, new worms have been discovered on social networking sites such as MySpace, which are designed to steal data.
    • These new worms employ cross-site scripting (XSS) flaws found on many websites.
    • XSS is defined as a security exploit in which the attacker inserts malicious codes into a link that appears to be from a trustworthy source. When the user clicks on the link, the embedded programming is submitted as part of that user’s web request and can execute on the user’s computer, typically allowing the attacker to steal information.
    • Web server applications that generate the web pages dynamically are vulnerable to this type of exploit if they fail to validate user input.
    • The popular MySpace website was first hit with the Samy worm in October.
    • A MySpace user, called Samy, had created a malicious profile by taking advantage of a flaw in the website’s design. The profile, when viewed, automatically activated a code to add the visitor to Samy’s friends list. Additionally, the malicious code would be copied into the victim’s profile, so when that person’s profile was viewed, the infection spread.
    • The infection stays on the website and almost creates a denial-of-service attack, because there is an exponential explosion of entries in your friends list that will eventually consume the infrastructure.
    • Penetration of the worm into MySpace
      • 200 friends within eight hours
      • 2,000 within 11 hours
      • 200,000 within 14 hour
      • 1,000,000 within 17 hours
    • The Samy worm demonstrated the ease with which cross-site scripting could be used as an exploit and was quickly followed by a major phishing attack later in October.
    • One such exploit changes a user’s profile to include links to a pornographic website that hosts spyware.
    • Hackers are finding cross-site scripting holes in numerous large websites.
    • According to computer firm CGI, sites such as CNN.com, Time.com, Ebay, Yahoo, Apple computer, Microsoft, Zdnet, Wired and FBI.gov have one form or another of XSS bugs.
  • Science Friction: An X-Ray Machine Energized by Adhesive Tape
    • Researchers take an image of a finger using film and some tape
    • Researchers have discovered that peeling adhesive tape ejects enough radiation to take an x-ray image.
    • If they stick, the findings could set the stage for a less expensive x-ray machine that does not require electricity.
    • Lead researcher Carlos Camara, a physicist at the University of California, Los Angeles, reports in Nature today that his team captured x-rays of a finger on film (positioned behind it) by using a simple tape-peeling device (placed in front of it).
    • It turns out that radiation is released when tape is ripped from a surface.
    • The reason: electrons (negatively charged atomic particles) leap from a surface (peeling off of glass or aluminum works, too) to the adhesive side of a freshly yanked strip of tape, traveling so fast that they give off radiation, or energy, when they slam into it.
    • This can be a very inexpensive alternative source of x-rays good enough to take x-ray images.
    • Conventional x-ray machines require expensive electrical components to create a beam of high-energy electrons that is aimed at a metal target.
    • Worried about radiation from the tape dispenser on your desk? Don’t. X-rays are only produced in a vacuum.
  • Woman cuffed for deleting virtual husband
    • A 43-year-old Japanese woman has been jailed for "killing" her virtual husband to revenge an unexpected in-game divorce.
    • The unhappy couple’s characters had been "married" in the side-scrolling Korean massive multiplayer game, MapleStory.
    • She was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data. Police claim she used the man’s identification and password in order to delete his beloved character.
    • "I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry," a police official quoted her as telling investigators.
    • The 33-year-old office worker contacted the police when he discovered his character was missing in Mid-May.
    • He is believed to have freely given the woman his MapleStory password at an earlier date when the two were in the joyous throes of e-marital bliss.
    • After her arrest, the woman was taken some 620 miles from her home in southern Miyazaki to be detained in Sapporo, where the man lives.
    • She hasn’t yet been formally charged, but AP reports she could face a prison term of up to five years in prison or a fine of $5,000 (£3,091) if convicted.
  • National Cyber Security Awareness Month
    • Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has declared October its fifth annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month to help ?educate the public on the shared responsibility of protecting cyberspace.?
    • Sign-up to receive e-mails with technical cyber security alerts, bulletins, tips from the DHS-run National Cyber Alert System (http://www.us-cert.gov/)
    • Sign up here to receive e-mails from the FBI on the latest e-scams and test your cyber fraud awareness to gain some valuable tips;
    • Join your local InfraGard chapter (http://www.infragard.net/) to meet and share information with area business professionals, academics, and government experts
    • Visit the website of the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) to get and share breaking information on cyber security.
    • Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s webpage to find out more about its cyber operations?including the work of the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications; the National Cyber Security Center; the Secret Service’s Electronic Crimes Task Forces; and the Cyber Crime Center of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  • Food Science: Hot Sauce Origin
    • Hot sauces have been around since humans first realized they could eat peppers.
    • Bottles containing hot sauce have been recovered from archaeological digs as well as shipwrecks.
    • Advertisements for cayenne sauces appeared in Massachusetts newspapers and city directories as early as 1807.
    • Sometime between 1840 and 1860, J. McCollick & Company of New York produced a Bird Pepper Sauce, most likely made with wild chiles called chiltepins, or bird peppers.
    • In 1849, England’s Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce was first imported into the United States from Great Britain.
    • Many of the first homegrown hot sauces in the United States came from the South. Cajun cuisine and other fiery ethnic foods fueled the drive to make hot sauces.
    • Colonel Maunsell White, a prominent Louisiana banker and legislator, grew peppers on his Deer Range Plantation.
    • In 1859, White manufactured, bottled and advertised the first hot sauce from these chiles.
    • Edmund McIlhenny planted peppers his plantation on Avery Island, LA, using seeds given to him by Colonel Maunsell White.
      • Edmund McIlhenny created what would become Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce.
      • In 1868, Edmund first bottled his Tabasco sauce in recycled cologne bottles.
      • The McIlhenny Company has trademarked Tabasco, which is why it’s the only Tabasco sauce on the market today
      • Although it is trademarked by McIlhenny, Tabasco actual refers to a geographic and political region in Mexico ? where the Tabasco pepper was said to originate.
    • Similar sauces can note they are made with Tabasco peppers, but can only be known at hot sauce.
    • Jacob Frank started selling Frank’s Redhot Cayenne Pepper Sauce in 1920 and it was this hot sauce that French’s, the current owner of Frank’s Redhot Cayenne Pepper Sauce, proclaims as the secret ingredien? in the original Buffalo Wings concocted in 1964 by Teresa Bellissimo at the Anchor Bar and Grill in Buffalo, NY.