Show of 12-20-2008

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Peter: Dear Tech Talk: How would I know if someone installed key logger or some other kind of recording program on a PC I might use? Sometimes I use a public computer and I just want to feel secure while working or chatting or doing any private things. Peter
    • Tech Talk Answers: You can’t be sure, so be cautious.
    • Things are bad enough on your own computer, where you have some semblance of control, but when you use someone else’s computer – especially a public computer ? you have no idea what is installed.
    • The only way to really know that a computer is exactly what you think it is, and nothing more, is to control that computer completely.
    • As we’ve seen with spyware and other forms of malware, even when the computer is our own, that’s not always possible to achieve.
    • The same actually applies to hardware, though it’s less vulnerable in general, since physical access would be required to do something to it that you didn’t authorize.
    • When you consider public computers, you have no control, and in fact no idea what has, or has not been installed on that computer.
    • It might very well have keyloggers installed recording every keystroke and mouse movement you make, along with corresponding screenshots to fully detail exactly what you’ve been doing. The loggers could be hardware, not software based, so you can’t even check. If it’s not your computer, you just don’t know.
    • I never do banking on a public computer. Surfing the web is OK. Checking email at one of the free email accounts.
    • Also be wary of unencrypted hotspots too.
  • Profiles in IT: Seymour Robert Cray
    • Seymour Roger Cray, known as father of the supercomputer, founded Cray Research.
    • Seymour Cray was born September 28, 1925 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
    • At age 10, he built a device out of Erector Set components that converted punched paper tape into Morse code signals.
    • Cray graduated from Chippewa Falls High School in 1943 prior to being drafted.
    • He received a BSEE in 1950 and an MS in Math in 1951 from Univ. of Minnesota.
    • In 1950, Cray joined Engineering Research Associates (ERA) in Saint Paul, Minn.
    • Cray designed the ERA 1103, the first commercially successful scientific computer.
    • Remington Rand and then Sperry Corporation in the early 1950s.
    • ERA became the "scientific computing" arm of the Sperry-Rand UNIVAC division.
    • When the scientific computing division was phased out in 1957, a number of employees left to form Control Data Corporation (CDC).
    • Cray moved to CDC in 1958. By 1960 he had completed the design of the CDC 1604.
    • Cray then designed the CDC 6600, the first commercial supercomputer.
    • Cray realized that there was more to performance than simple processor speed that I/O bandwidth had to be maximized as well in order to avoid "starving" the processor.
    • His next machine, CDC 7600, was five times faster
    • During this period Cray had become increasingly annoyed with mid-management.
    • Cray moved his lab from St. Paul his hometown of Chippewa Falls.
    • After the 7600 shipped, he started development on the CDC 8600.
    • Although the 6600 and 7600 had been huge successes in the end, both projects had almost bankrupted the company while they were being designed.
    • The 8600 was running into similar difficulties and Cray decided that the only solution was to start over. Management backed more conservative approach, CDC STAR-100.
    • Cray left the company and started Cray Research in Chippewa in 1973.
    • Norris invested $300,000. The new company was supported by Wall Street.
    • In 1976 the Cray-1 was released. It beat the competition including CDC STAR-100.
    • The first system was sold to the National Center for Atmospheric Research for $8.8M. Over 100 Cray-1s were eventually sold and the company was a success.
    • While he worked on the Cray-2, other teams delivered the four-processor Cray X-MP, which was another huge success. However, the Cray-2 was only marginally faster.
    • In 1989 Cray-3 ran into difficulties and management backed the Cray Y-MP.
    • Cray decided to to form Cray Computer Corporation to finish the Cray-3 project.
    • The 500 MHz Cray-3 proved to be Cray’s second major failure. Cray decided that the machine would have to be built using gallium arsenide semiconductors.
    • By this time a number of massively parallel machines were coming into the market at price/performance points the Cray-3 could not touch.
    • Cray responded through "brute force", starting design of the Cray-4 which would run at 1 GHz and outpower these machines, regardless of price.
    • The company ran out of money and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy March 24, 1995.
    • Cray founded SRC Computers and started the design of a massively parallel machine with improved communications and memory performance.
    • Cray died October 5, 1996 at age 71 after of injuries suffered in a car crash.
  • Three Undersea Cables Cut
    • France Telecom has reported today that 3 major underwater cables were cut: ?Sea Me We 4? at 7:28am, ?Sea Me We3? at 7:33am and FLAG at 8:06am.
    • The causes of the cut, which is located in the Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia, on sections linking Sicily to Egypt, remain unclear.
    • Most of the B to B traffic between Europe and Asia is rerouted through the USA.
    • Traffic from Europe to Algeria and Tunisia is not affected, but traffic from Europe to the Near East and Asia is interrupted to a greater or lesser extent
    • Part of the internet traffic towards Réunion is affected as well as 50% towards Jordan.
    • A first appraisal at 7:44 am UTC gave an estimate of the following impact on the voice traffic (in percentage of out of service capacity):
      • Saudi Arabia: 55% out of service
      • Egypt: 52% out of service
      • United Arab Emirates: 68% out of service
      • India: 82% out of service
      • Malaysia: 42% out of service
      • Pakistan: 51% out of service
      • Syria: 36% out of service
      • Taiwan: 39% out of service
    • France Telecom says that it immediately alerted one of the two maintenance boats based in the Mediterranean area.
    • Priority will be given to Sea Me We4, then to the Sea Me We3, then Sea Me We4.
    • By December 31st, the situation should be back to normal.
  • RIAA Will Stop Suing Downloaders
    • The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said it is working on a new approach to cracking down on online music piracy.
    • The move away from litigation represents a shift in strategy for the music industry, which has filed lawsuits against 35,000 people for online music piracy since 2003.
    • The RIAA said agreement in principle had been reached with several ISPs, which it did not identify, on a voluntary graduated response program to copyright violations.
    • Under the program, ISPs would alert subscribers to copyright infringement notices and carry out a series of escalating sanctions.
    • Repeated infringement could lead to Internet accounts being cut off.
    • The RIAA said that while it was ending its litigation program, pending cases would continue and the association reserves the right to sue when ISPs are ignored.
    • The Electronic Frontier Foundation welcomed the end to the lawsuit campaign calling it "long overdue" and a "failure."
    • But EFF that "more troubling is the news that the RIAA is pressuring US ISPs into adopting some sort of ‘3 strikes’ approach.
    • It is estimated that one in five American Internet users is an active file-sharer.
  • Sign of the Time: Polaroid Files for Bankruptcy
    • Polaroid has filed voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code in order to facilitate the company’s ongoing financial restructuring process.
    • The financial structuring process and the bankruptcy filing are the result of events at Petters Group Worldwide, the company that has owned Polaroid since 2005.
    • The company stressed that "Polaroid and its leadership team are not subjects of the ongoing investigation involving Petters Group."
    • Founded in 1937, Polaroid became a household name a decade later with the release of the first instant film camera, invented by the company’s founder, Edwin Land.
    • Polaroid fell into decline as digital photography replaced film and it filed for bankruptcy protection once previously, in 2001.
    • It discontinued production of its celebrated instant film cameras in February of this year and now produces LCD televisions, digital cameras and other consumer electronics products.
  • Gadget of the Week: GPS Angel
    • The all new GPS Angel Red Light/Speed Camera warning system is designed to warn you of red lights and fixed speed cameras.
    • The GPS Angel comes ready loaded with the leading database of speed and stop light cameras and accident black spots.
    • The database includes all 50 US states and Canada.
    • The GPS database can be updated daily and you can refresh your copy of it by simply connecting your GPS Angel to your PC. Updates are free for the first year of and then $19.95 buys you unlimited updates for the lifetime of your GPS Angel.
    • The GPS Angel determines where you are and your exact speed at all times through its radio connection to the GPS satellite network.
    • Utilizing the database saved in its memory, GPS Angel calculates the distance to the next risk area.
    • The GPS Angel uses GPS technology so it is 100% legal to use. It is designed to warn you of risk areas to help you observe traffic law. A series of colored LED’s and audible beeps (adjustable) alerts you when you are approaching a camera location.
    • The GPS Angel will also allow you to record any personal risk areas you may come across.
    • The GPS Angel comes ready to use straight out of the box. Simply place it on your dashboard and plug in its power cable to your cars cigarette lighter.
    • The GPS Angel is available for $129.00.
  • The Rise of the Netbook
    • The PC industry ended the year on a decidedly gloomy note.
    • The one product buoying PC makers right now, however, is the Netbook.
    • Asus led the way in late 2007, introducing the Atom-powered Eee PC.
    • The top names in computing soon followed. HP unveiled its education market-oriented HP Mini-Note, then Acer unleashed its Aspire One.
    • Dell eventually hopped on the bandwagon with the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 and then the Mini 12.
    • HP started shipping its consumer-oriented Netbooks, the Mini 1000 series right before the crucial holiday period, and put up the most encouraging earnings numbers in the PC industry
  • More ideas for Christmas gifts
    • Buy a backup solution for their home computer to protect from the loss of data in case of hard drive failure or erasure. Numerous options are available including hard drives specifically designed for backup via USB, online backup services, or a Windows home server.
    • Buy someone their own personal domain name so their e-mail address can be, for example, firstname.lastname.ca.
    • Set up encryption on their wireless router to WPA2 standards so others can’t use their wireless network and potentially compromise their information, or use their Internet connection for nefarious purposes.
    • Netbooks, or miniature notebook computers, seem to be the current rage. They are smaller and lighter than typical notebooks, and while they are generally less powerful and not usable for a primary computer, they are fine for tasks like e-mailing and surfing the Net.
    • Buy a battery backup system for their computer and router so temporary power outages are less likely to disrupt their system.
    • Buy a high-capacity storage card for their digital camera. Memory costs have dropped dramatically over the last couple of years.
    • Buy a media extender that connects their television to their computer so they can use their TV and home theatre system to display or play photos, video, and music stored on their computer.
    • One can never go wrong with an mp3 player. If the person is an Apple fanatic, only the latest and greatest iPod will do. Others may be interested in a Microsoft Zune or some other brand of mp3 player.
    • If they already have an iPod, buy them good-quality earphones with a black cord. That reduces the chance someone will try to steal their iPod, and gives better sound quality.
    • For someone who has far too many remote controls, buy a universal remote. Models are available that can be programmed through a computer to work with the specific equipment at hand.
    • Buy a Bluetooth headset. That will come in handy when the use of hand-held phones in cars is banned. They can also be used with a computer for calling services such as Skype, or to play online games.
    • Setting up Skype or other Voip (voice over Internet protocol) service to avoid long-distance charges. Buy a good quality headset with mic for the computer.
  • American IT Staffing Still Strong
    • According to Robert Half Technology’s latest survey, which asks CIOs and IT managers about their staffing plans for the first quarter of 2009, the vast majority of companies are planning to keep the staff they have.
    • And in this latest survey, which is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CIOs from companies across the U.S. with more than 100 employees, 82 per cent of those polled said they had no plans to change their IT staff in the first quarter of 2009.
    • The bigger the company, the more likely a company is to be making IT hires.
    • When asked what the main reason was for hiring IT staff
      • 32 per cent said it was being compelled the growth of the business
      • 21 per cent cited a need for more end user and customer support staff
      • 17 per cent were trigged by system upgrades
      • 11 per cent said it was needed for ERP installation
    • Network administrators were needed by 70 per cent including both LAN and WAN.
    • Windows server administrator and desktop support were both cited by 69 per cent.
    • Database administrators were in demand at 59 per cent of the companies surveyed.
    • Wireless network administrators were needed at 53 per cent of companies
    • Telcom support by 48 per cent.
    • Web development and Website design was needed at at 42 per cent of the companies.
    • Virtualization, business intelligence, Linux or Unix administration, and .NET and Java application development were cited by fewer companies as driving hiring.