Show of 4-9-2009

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Linda Lane : Dr. Shurtz. As I was listening to your podcast on Jan 3, you mentioned Atari systems. We have an Atari system which our children played with and would like to share with our grandson. Unfortunately we can’t figure out how to hook it up to our current TV. Any sage words of wisdom or instructions on getting the Atari connected and operating. Thanks. Linda Lane
    • Tech Talk Responds: These days TVs tend not to have the two-prong VHF input, but the cable connection (called coaxial, or just coax) instead. The good news is, you should be able to find RF videogame switch boxes with coax output at Radio Shack or other places that carry electronics equipment. Also, some multi-system switchboxes have inputs for the standard RCA 1/4" plugs (the type that the 2600 and other older systems use) and output coax or audio/video cables for newer TVs, so you might check these out if you have newer systems too.
    • I also found this item on eBay for $15 (ATARI TV GAME VIDEO SWITCH BOX – CABLE READY adapter)
    • Email from Landon: Hello. A friend of mine has a Toshiba Satellite laptop running Win XP Media Center Edition. It has a virus, I believe it is XP Antivirus Protection. The laptop has McAfee on it and it gives this message: McAfee has automatically blocked and removed a Trojan. Detected Generic Packed (Trojan).
      • System restore will not work.
      • I cannot disable anything in the MSCONFIG Startup tab.
      • I also cannot enter REGEDIT.
      • As an added bonus, the laptop gets the blue screen that says something about a physical dump and then turns itself off!
      • To make matters worse, she does not have the Win XP CD or restore disk.
    • Is there anything I can do to fix this?
    • On an unrelated issue, we have a PC in the office that is running Vista and the password is lost. Is there anyway to reset the password or get around this so we can install a printer? Landon
    • Tech Talk Answers: Landon you appear to have a virus on the machine and it is protecting itself by blocking any action that would disable it. You need to boot from the CD in safe mode and do a virus scan. Not have your original windows CD is a problem. Perhaps you can borrow a CD. I would opt for a clean install.
    • As for admin password recovery. There are several password recovery tools available. I recommend going to Microsoft TechNet and searching for Vista password recovery. They have several methods that may work for you.
  • Profiles in IT: Larry Wall
    • Larry Wall is a programmer and author, most widely known for his creation of the Perl programming language.
    • Larry Wall was born September 27, 1954.
    • He spent the first half his childhood in south LA about two miles from where the Watts riots broke out and the second half of my childhood in Bremerton , WA
    • His father was a pastor, as were both his grandfathers, and many of my ancestors before that. His church is the New Life Nazarene.
    • According to his home page, Larry is an INFP (Idealist)
    • Wall earned his bachelor’s degree from Seattle Pacific University in 1976.
    • Wall and his wife were studied linguistics at US Berkeley with the intention of finding an unwritten language, perhaps in Africa , and creating a writing system for it.
    • They would then use this new writing system to translate various texts into the language, among them the Bible.
    • Due to health reasons these plans were canceled.
    • Larry instead joined the NASA JPL after he finished graduate school.
    • Larry Wall began work on Perl in 1987, while working as a programmer at Unisys and released version 1.0 to the comp.sources.misc newsgroup on December 18, 1987.
    • The language expanded rapidly over the next few years with Perl 2 released in 1988 and Perl 4 released in 1989.
    • In 1991, Programming Perl was published by O’Reilly. This book features a picture of a camel and is commonly referred to as The Camel Book. At that same time, the Perl version number was bumped to 4.
    • On December 18, 2007, the 20th anniversary of Perl 1.0, Perl 5.10.0 was released.
    • Wall often compares Perl to a natural language and explains his decisions in Perl’s design with linguistic rationale. He also often uses linguistic terms for Perl language constructs, so instead of traditional variable or function he sometimes says noun or verb.
    • Perl is a general-purpose programming language originally developed for text manipulation and now used for a wide range of tasks including system administration, web development, network programming, and GUI development.
    • According to Wall, Perl has two slogans. The first is There’s more than one way to do it. The second is Easy things should be easy and hard things should be possible.
    • Wall continues to oversee further development of Perl and serves as the Benevolent Dictator for Life of the Perl project.
    • Perl was originally named " Pearl ," after the Parable of the Pearl from the Gospel of Matthew. He also considered naming it after his wife Gloria.
    • Wall discovered the existing PEARL programming language before Perl’s official release and changed the spelling of the name.
    • His career started as a programming and system administrator and he free software on the side. Later, he started collecting royalties from O’Reilly. It later occurred to Tim O’Reilly and Wall that anything good for Perl was also good for O’Reilly.
    • O’Reilly now pays Wall to do whatever he likes, as long as it helps Perl.
    • Wall was the recipient of the first Free Software Foundation Award for the Advancement of Free Software in 1998.
  • Is Conficker Finally History?
    • The general consensus seems to be that approximately 3 million computers are infected on any given day.
    • The number 15 million gets thrown around a lot as well, but that number includes computers that were infected and then scrubbed clean of the malware.
    • Keep in mind that the actual number of infected computers is also very hard to ascertain since security experts can only count infected Internet protocol (IP) addresses and not individual computers.
    • Security researchers have discovered four variants of the worm in the wild.
      • Conficker.A was reported to Microsoft on November 21, 2008.
      • Conficker.B was reported to Microsoft on December 29, 2008.
      • Conficker.C was reported to Microsoft on February 20, 2009.
      • Conficker.D was reported to Microsoft on March 4, 2009.
    • Win32/Conficker.B might spread through file sharing and via removable drives.
    • The Vietnamese security company Bkis says approximately 2.2 million computers are currently infected with Conficker A and B, and about 1.2 million computers carry Conficker C, the latest version of the worm.
    • Security Fix reported that only six percent of the world’s Conficker-infected systems are in North America .
    • Conficker.C instructs computers to search the Internet and private P2P networks for updates after April 1.
    • The Conficker C number is the most worrisome since that is the version that can most effectively update itself through p2p networking with no need to phone home.
    • The world’s biggest problem areas for Conficker infections are in Asia, Eastern Europe and South America .
    • Microsoft allows both pirate and genuine Windows users to download critical security updates. However, most pirate users have Windows’ automatic updates turned off to avoid Microsoft’s piracy detection tool.
    • If you’re worried that you might be infected, the MS Conficker Working Group has a simple test that can help.
    • If you are a pirate Windows user, you have amnesty for critical downloads so get the Conficker patch as soon as possible.
    • Conficker’s authors still have the capability to inflict harm. Whether that will happen is anybody’s guess, but making sure your computer is secure is always the best policy.
  • Conficker Eye Chart
    • Web Address: http://www.joestewart.org/cfeyechart.html
    • Joe Stewart came up with a simple visual test to evaluate a Windows PC.
    • Called the Conficker Eye Chart, it has a six image array.
    • If all the pictures are displayed, you are not infected.
    • Does not work behind a web proxy.
  • April Fool’s Day
    • Google continues the tradition with CADIE
    • This stands for Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity
    • Research group switches on world’s first "artificial intelligence" tasked-array system.
    • For several years now a small research group has been working on some challenging problems in the areas of neural networking, natural language and autonomous problem-solving.
    • Last fall this group achieved a significant breakthrough: a powerful new technique for solving reinforcement learning problems, resulting in the first functional global-scale neuro-evolutionary learning cluster.
    • Since then progress has been rapid, and tonight we’re pleased to announce that just moments ago, the world’s first Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity (CADIE) was switched on and began performing some initial functions.
    • It’s an exciting moment that we’re determined to build upon by coming to understand more fully what CADIE’s emergence might mean, for Google and for our users.
    • So although CADIE technology will be rolled out with the caution befitting any advance of this magnitude, in the months to come users can expect to notice her influence on various google.com properties.
    • Earlier today, for instance, CADIE deduced from a quick scan of the visual segment of the social web a set of online design principles from which she derived this intriguing homepage.
    • CADIE’s Homepage: http://cadiesingularity.blogspot.com/
  • Complete List for April Fool’s RFCs
    • The Complete April Fools’ Day RFCs
    • Web Address: http://www.rfc-humor.com/
    • All the April Fools’ RFCs in one place
    • RFCs are the documents that the IETF publishes to document how the Internet works. On April 1 of each year sometimes one or two are published that are parodies. This book collects them all under one cover in a book suitable for your coffee table, office, or hidden somewhere so your friends don’t know how geeky your humor is.
    • In book for form, its only $20. The perfect gift for the network administrator or computer scientist!
  • U.S. unemployment rate jumps to 8.5 per cent
    • U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning, which reported that companies in the United States dropped 663,000 jobs from their payrolls in March, boosting the unemployment rate to 8.5 per cent.
    • Since the recession started in December 2007, U.S. companies have let go of 5.1 million people, with 3.3 million of them.
    • IT jobs seems to holding
    • Total employment among computer and electronic products manufacturers fell by 5,700 in March to 1.19 million.
    • Telecom companies cut 6,300 jobs, to 995,600 jobs, while data processing and hosting companies actually added 3,400 jobs, to 256,700.
    • Professional and business IT service jobs dropped by 5,700 employees to 1.45 million.
  • Interesting Website of the Week: Stop Forwarding
    • Web Address: www.stopforwarding.us
    • Politely and anonymously ask them to stop forwarding you junk email.
    • Submit forwarder’s information below.
    • Forwarder receives this anonymous email.
    • Forwarder learns better email etiquette.
  • Food Science: How are coffee tea and colas decaffeinated?
    • Caffeine occurs naturally in more than 60 plants, including:
      • Arabica plant (coffee)
      • Theobroma cacao tree (chocolate)
      • kola nuts, (cola drink)
      • Thea sinensis plant (tea)
    • When separated from its sources, caffeine is a white, bitter-tasting powder.
    • Several methods are used to remove caffeine from its natural sources:
    • Methylene chloride processing
      • Methylene chloride is a chemical used as a solvent to extract caffeine from many raw materials. Molecules of caffeine bond to molecules of methylene chloride.
    • Ethyl acetate processing
      • Ethyl acetate processed products are referred to as "naturally decaffeinated" because ethyl acetate is a chemical found naturally in many fruits. Caffeine is extracted in the same way as with methylene chloride processing, but ethyl acetate is the solvent.
    • Carbon dioxide processing
      • To decaffeinate using carbon dioxide (CO2), water-softened materials are "pressure cooked" with the gas. CO2 becomes a solvent with its small, nonpolar molecules attracting the small caffeine molecules. Since flavor molecules are larger, they remain intact, which is why this process retains the flavor of the material better.
    • Water processing
      • Caffeine extraction with water is used primarily for coffee decaffeination. The process is similar to the "indirect" method used in methylene chloride processing, but no chemicals are used. After the caffeine is leached out of the material by soaking in hot water for a period of time, the solution is then passed through a carbon filter for caffeine removal.
    • Caffeine is not removed completely using any of these methods, but under federal regulations in the United States , caffeine levels must not be above 2.5 percent of the product in order for a product to be labeled "decaffeinated."
    • Most of the caffeine removed in processing is manufactured for use in other products, such as medicines and soft drinks.