Show of 11-8-2008

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Joshua: Dear Tech Talk, How to find the IP address of my computer? Is there any command? I am running Windows XP. Joshua
    • Tech Talk Answers: We need a small IP address tutorial to answer this question. Every computer must have an IP address to be found on the Internet. The public IP address must be unique. In versions of Windows from Windows 2000 and later, run the Windows Command Prompt (Typically in Start, All Programs, then Accessories). In the command prompt, type IPCONFG to get your IP Address information.
    • If you’re behind a router (or a modem that is acting as a NAT router) then the internet IP address is actually assigned to the router. The IP address assigned to your internet connection is most easily seen by visiting http://whatismyipaddress.com/. The router hands out "local" IP addresses to the individual machines connected to it. Those are the "192.168." addresses you’ll commonly see when running ipconfig.
  • Profiles in IT: Morris Chang
    • Chung-Mou ‘Morris’ Chang is the founding chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Ltd. (TSMC), a revolutionary enterprise he founded in 1987.
    • TSMC is a "dedicated silicon foundry," an independent factory available to anyone for producing integrated circuits.
    • Morris Chang was born in Ningbo (Zhejiang province), China, on July 10, 1931.
    • He had wanted to become a writer but his father, an official in the Ningbo county government, persuaded him otherwise.
    • In 1949, Chang moved to the United States to attend Harvard University. He transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received his BS and MS in in Mechanical Engineering from there in 1952 and 1953.
    • Chang accepted a job as an engineering manager at Texas Instruments in 1958.
    • He received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1964.
    • During his 25 year career (1958-1983) at Texas Instruments he rose in the ranks to become Group Vice President responsible for worldwide semiconductor business.
    • Under Dr. Chang’s leadership as group vice president in charge of semiconductors, TI emerged as the world’s leading producer of integrated-circuits.
    • During his tenure the company also pioneered high-volume production of consumer products including calculators, digital watches, and the ‘Speak & Spell’ electronic toy.
    • He left Texas Instruments to become President and Chief Operating Officer of General Instrument Corporation (1984-1985).
    • However, a year later, the Republic of China (Taiwan) government recruited him to become Chairman and President of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).
    • While there, he focused on issues relating to using technology to advance Taiwan’s larger social and economic goals.
    • In this capacity at the Research Council, Chang founded the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) at a time when firms increasingly needed to outsource their manufacturing capabilities to Asia. TSMC become one of the world’s most profitable chip makers.
    • Chang left ITRI in 1994 and became Chairman of Vanguard International Semiconductor Corporation from 1994 to 2003 while continuing to serve as chairman of TSMC.
    • Dr. Chang was the recipient of the IEEE Robert N. Noyce Award for Exceptional Contributions to Microelectronics Industry, and the "Exemplary Leadership Award" of the Fabless Semiconductor Association (FSA).
    • He is on the advisory boards of NYSE, Stanford University, and University of California, Berkeley.
    • Dr. Chang and his wife Sophie reside in Taiwan. His personal interests include classical music and bridge.
  • Hubble Update: One Last Maintenance Mission Planned
    • Hubble was launched into orbit in the year 1990 by the Discovery Space Shuttle.
    • The telescope is named after the famous American astronomer Edwin Hubble.
    • The telescope is both the largest and the most versatile out there.
    • It functions as a research tool and as an advertising bonus for NASA and the European Space Agency.
    • During its almost 20 years of service, the telescope has undergone a series of repair missions.
    • One of the missions took place in 1993, when they had to fix the mirror’s position ? one of its most vital components.
    • There have so far been a total of four missions, during which several of its components were either fixed or replaced, among which electrical failures, replacement of batteries and gyroscopes and several new instruments, a faulty camera and spectrograph.
    • A fifth mission was programmed for October 2008, but another component of Hubble broke down in September.
    • Consequently, the repair mission was postponed until 2009.
    • The mission was postponed so technicians can fix more problems at once, given the extremely high costs of a space trip.
    • The most recent malfunction was the computer was sends data back to earth.
    • Hubble was blinded by the failure of the Control Unit/Science Data Formatter (CU/SDF) in its operational Side A Science Instrument Command and Data Handling unit (SIC&DH), which packets data from the ‘scope’s five main instruments for transmission back to Earth.
    • NASA deployed the redundant Side B system and Hubble is now operational after being out of service for a month.
    • The next mission will replace the broken computer system
    • The new system will re-enable Hubble to send the required information back to Earth.
    • This new issue will probably cause the fifth repair mission to be postponed until April 2009.
  • Microsoft Launches Windows Azure for the Cloud
    • Microsoft’s scalable hosting environment aims to help developers build applications spanning from the cloud to the datacenter and PCs, the Web, and phones
    • At Microsoft’s PDC (Professional Developers Conference) in Los Angeles, Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie unveiled the company’s cloud computing platform, dubbed Windows Azure.
    • Primarily a platform for developers, Windows Azure plays host to the .Net Framework, SQL Server, SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, and an offering called Live Services, which, according to Ozzie, will extend Azure services "outward" to connect with locally running Microsoft software.
    • Using this environment, developers will be able to build and deploy Web applications and services running on Microsoft’s worldwide infrastructure of datacenters.
    • Previously known as Project Red Dog, Windows Azure is a scalable hosting environment for you to deploy your apps in our cloud.
    • Windows Azure is a new Windows offering at the Web tier of computing.
    • This represents a significant extension of the Windows computing platform.
    • Windows Azure serves as the underlying foundation of the Azure Services Platform, which helps developers build applications spanning from the cloud to the datacenter and PCs, the Web, and phones.
    • Cloud-based developer capabilities are combined with storage, computational, and network infrastructure services.
    • Azure compares to Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) services platform.
  • When will Windows 7 ship?
    • Speculation continues to mount that Windows 7, Microsoft’s next operating system, will ship in time for next year’s holiday season.
    • Microsoft blogs indicate the such a release is in the works.
    • Microsoft has not set a specific time table. In an e-mail, a spokeswoman said that the company continues to expect it will take three years from the time Windows Vista was generally available to launch Windows 7. That would mean January 2010.
    • One possible reason that Microsoft is being cautious is that Vista was set to be released in time for the 2006 holiday season, but the company missed that deadline.
  • Scientists Turn Tequila into Diamonds
    • A team of Mexican scientists found that the heated vapor from 80-proof (40% alcohol) tequila blanco, when deposited on a silicon or stainless steel substrate, can form diamond films.
    • The key to the surprising discovery is tequila’s ratio of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon, which lies within the "diamond growth region."
    • Originally, the scientists were experimenting with creating diamonds from organic solutions such as acetone, ethanol, and methanol.
    • They found that diluting ethanol in water resulted in high quality diamond films. The scientists then noticed that the ideal compound of 40 percent ethanol and 60 percent water was similar to the proportion used in tequila.
    • The scientists duplicated the results using cheap white tequila. The results were the same as with the ethanol and water compound. The final diamond film was hard and heat-resistant.
    • These films could be used to make ties coatings for cutting tools, high-power semiconductors, radiation detectors and optical-electronic devices.
    • Scientists are continuing to test different tequilas´ abilities to produce diamonds.
  • Fermilab’s CDF Result Sparks Rumors of New Physics
    • Fermilab’s CDF (Collider Detector) has observed unusual muon-muon observations could point to physics beyond the Standard Model.
    • When observing decay events that produce a b meson and anti-meson (b-bbar) pair, which has a lifetime of about a picosecond, physicists found something unexpected in the background.
    • When further investigating the background, the physicists were surprised.
      • The production of an anomalously high number of muon pairs.
      • The exciting possibility here is that a new, relatively long-lived particle has been observed.
    • The observation and its implications are so puzzling that only about two-thirds of the 600 CDF physicists chose to attach their names to the publication.
    • A second publication, authored by seven CDF physicists, offers a possible explanation.
    • Whether or not this particular result proves to lead toward something new, it offers some unexpected excitement while the new LHC undergoes repair until next spring.
  • Web helps Obama with transition with Change.gov
    • Web Address: http://www.change.gov/
    • Obama campaign plans to provide a guide to the transition process using Change.gov
    • The site solicits suggestions from US citizens about their vision for America, and lets them apply for a post with the new administration.
    • On its transition website, the US governmental watchdog has listed the 13 most urgent issues that will soon confront President-elect Obama.
    • The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) listed oversight of US financial institutions and markets, and the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as the most pressing issues.
    • The creation of the Change.gov website is seen by many as making good on Mr Obama’s stated aim to make the process of governing more transparent.
    • A blog on the site will document the transition process, and elsewhere it plans to provide biographies and background on the people Mr Obama is recruiting.
    • The site will also accept applications for "non-career" posts in the incoming administration. The site does not give details about posts for which it is seeking recruits, but it said some of the roles would require "Senate approval" suggesting they could be positions of some influence.
    • The site also wants US citizens to tell their stories about what Obama’s campaign meant to them, and pass on their "vision" for what they would like to see happen in America.
  • Obama’s Position on Technology Issues
    • Net Neutrality
      • Obama has been a repeated and unequivocal supporter of Net Neutrality. Barack Obama strongly supports the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet. Obama is very unlikely to change his stance on this subject. He’s even been on the Google campus to tout his Net Neutrality position.
    • Broadband development
      • Every American should have broadband access to the Internet, regardless of economic status. Full broadband penetration can enrich democratic discourse, enhance competition, provide economic growth, and bring significant consumer benefits.
      • Improving our infrastructure will foster competitive markets for Internet access and services that ride on that infrastructure.
      • To get true broadband deployed in every community in America, we need to reform the Universal Service Fund, make better use of the nation’s wireless spectrum,.
    • R&D tax credits
      • Obama and Biden want to make the Research and Development tax credit permanent so that firms can rely on it when making decisions to invest in domestic R&D over multi-year timeframes.
      • It could be politically difficult for Obama to justify R&D tax cuts unless he can find a way to sell it as something that benefits the average American worker.
    • H1B Visas
      • Obama does not put emphasis on his H1B Visa policy as part of his technology plan. He supports a temporary increase in the H-1B visa program as a stopgap measure until we can reform our immigration system comprehensively.
      • He supports allowing immigrants who earn their degrees in the U.S. to stay, work, and become Americans over time.?
    • Green tech
      • His plan is to create five million new ?green collar? jobs in a new alternative energy industry that he would fund with a $150 billion investment over 10 years to stimulate private investment in a future powered by clean energy and driven by American innovation.
      • He also wants to make energy efficiency and conservation a national priority.
    • Related technology observations
      • If elected he plans to appoint the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
      • He would like to take what he and his team have learned about using technology in the campaign and apply it to government. He was primarily referring to electronic communications. Case at point: http://www.change.gov.
      • He would like to make electronic medical records a key part of his health care plan (as a way to drive efficiency). He generally views technology as a powerful enabler
  • Obama Tech Policy Advisor Is On the Transition Team
    • Rock Creek Ventures’ co-founder Julius Genachowski has been named to advisory board of President-elect Obama and vice president-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, which has been established as a non-profit entity.
    • The group’s role is to recommend agency heads and generally manage a smooth transition between the Bush and Obama administrations.
    • Genachowski chaired the advisory committee that came up with Obama’s technology and innovation plan, a wide group that included Stanford Law School’s Larry Lessig, former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt and Craig Newmark of Craig’s List.
    • Genachowski was Hundt’s chief counsel in the Clinton administration between 1993 and 1997
    • He worked for eight years with Barry Diller as his chief of business operations at IAC/InterActiveCorp, which owns diversified businesses in sectors strongly influenced by the internet
    • The key technology-related positions in the administration include the chairmanships of the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Commerce, and the head of the US Patent Office.
    • There’s also the new cabinet-level position of chief technology officer and a science advisory committee.
    • As well as the new White House level intellectual property coordinator.
    • There’s no word on who the chief technology officer could be. Possible candidates include Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, and Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.
  • Deal of the Week: The Ultimate Steal is Back
    • Microsoft Office Ultimate for only $59.
    • You must have a valid e-mail address at an educational institution ending with the domain suffix .EDU
    • And you must be a student at a U.S. educational institution and must be actively enrolled in at least 0.5 course credit and be able to provide proof of enrollment upon request.
    • Office Ultimate includes: Word 2007, Groove 2007, Excel 2007, Publisher 2007, PowerPoint 2007, Access 2007, Outlook 2007, InfoPath 2007, OneNote 2007, Accounting Express 2008
    • Web Address: http://www.microsoft.com/student/discounts/theultimatesteal-us/
  • Food Science: Mushrooms
    • Food historians tell us prehistoric peoples most likely consumed fungi and mushrooms. These foods were easy to forage and incorporate into meals. The Ancient Romans appreciated the taste and grew mushrooms. Modern cultivation commenced around the 16th century.
    • Mushrooms are a subset of the larger plant world of fungus:
      • Fungus means any group of plants which include mushrooms, yeasts, and moulds.
      • Unlike more advanced plants, fungi lack chlorophyll and so can only grown as sprophytes (from dead plants or animals); or as parasites (on living plants); or in a mycorrhizal relationship (symbiosis between fungi and the roots of trees).
    • Mushrooms and other large varieties of fungus have been eaten since earliest times.
      • Traces of puffballs in the prehistoric lake dwellings of Switzerland, Germany, and Austria.
      • In classical times both Greeks and Romans grew the small mushrooms on on slices of a poplar trunk.
      • The Chinese and Japanese may have been growing chitake on rotting logs for even longer.
    • The word mushroom, first recorded in the early fifteenth century, has been traced back to a late Latin mussirio, a word of unknown origin.
    • Mushrooms entered America in the late nineteenth century. In the 1890s, a fungus frenzy was sweeping America. Mushrooms were the latest fad and health food. Mushrooming clubs, were forager swapped tips, spring up quickly.
    • The first professional information on mushroom cultivation in America was disseminated on a large scale in the 1890s, through the efforts of William Falconer
    • Two of the most well known varieties of mushrooms are: Truffles and Portobello
    • Truffles
      • A number of fleshy subterranean fungi of the genus Tuber are called truffles.
      • Truffles were known to the Babylonians and the Romans and that truffles were secured from the Arabian Desert in ancient times, just as today some of the richest truffle mines known are located in the Kalahari Desert.
    • Portobello
      • This meaty mushroom is an American invention with Italian roots (spores, actually) made popular by clever marketing in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
      • Both cremini and portobello mushrooms are first mentioned in the New York Times during the mid 1980s.
      • The name "portobello" began to be used in the 1980s as a brilliant marketing ploy to popularize an unglamorous mushroom that, more often than not, had to be disposed of because growers couldn’t sell them.