Show of 6-26-2010

  • Email and Forum Questions    
    • Email from Seema: Dear Tech Talk, I love your show. I listen every week. I just have one suggestion to make the show better. Whenever you have a winner for the Pop Quiz, you seem to move on too quickly. Please talk to the winner and find out how they like the show and how long they have been listening. They took time to call in….so you should take time to listen. A Loyal Listener, Seema
    • Tech Talk Responds: A great suggestion.
    • Email from Hac: Dear Dr. Shurtz, You are usually "right on" with all the technical information you dispense on your show, but you were wrong about there being no more Space Shuttle launches. Actually, Jim Russ was right on this one. There are two more Space Shuttle launches scheduled.
    • You probably thought there were no more shuttle launches schedule because everyone was talking about how last month’s Space Shuttle Atlantis’ visit to the Space Station was Atlantis’ last voyage. However my husband, who works for NASA, tells me there are two other operational Space Shuttles: Discovery and Endeavor.
    • You are usually right about everything technical – but this time you were wrong! My husband and I love your show! Hac Hua, Bowie, MD
    • P. S. You have sexy voice! And you speak so clearly that I have no problem understanding you! You help me learn more about computers and technical English.
    • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the correction. There are two more shuttles.
    • Email from Lauren: Dr. Richard Shurtz, A friend of mine mentioned a Senate bill introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn, that I wanted you to please comment on. It is called the Internet Kill Switch. As far as I can tell this is indeed one disturbing piece of legislation…This appears to be our government’s way of addressing Cybersecurity. Thanks, Lauren (Geek Chick), Bethesda MD
    • Tech Talk Responds: This is a very bad idea undermine an independent Internet
  • Profiles in IT: Robin Li
    • Robin Li is co-founder of China’s most popular search engine Baidu.
    • November 17, 1968, in Yangquan, in north China’s Shanxi Province to factory worker parents.
    • Li was admitted by Yangquan First High School by achieving the second highest grades in the entrance examination.
    • In high school, Li enjoyed computer class and entered in programming competitions.
    • In 1987, Li attended the National Higher Education Entrance Examination and achieved the top grade among all examinees in Yangquan.
    • In 1987, he entered Peking University, studying library information management.
    • As a sophomore, Li witnessed the government’s pro-democracy crackdown in Tiananmen Square which shut down his school.
    • After receiving his BS degree 1991, and took a temporary job, while applying to many master’s programs in the United States.
    • He was accepted to the State University of New York at Buffalo on a fellowship and got his master’s in computer science in 1994, after dropping out of the PhD program.
    • His first job in the US was developing a software program for Wall Street Journal Online. It was there that he began his fascination with search engines.
    • In 1996 Li created a search method he termed “link analysis” that ranked the popularity of Web Sites based on how many other sites linked to it.
    • His hyperlink analysis, patented in 1996, is among the inventions that shaped today’s search engine technology.
    • His expertise led Silicon Valley search engine upstart, Infoseek, to recruit him to become the head of search engine development in 1997.
    • Li stayed at Infoseek for two years, but resigned in 1999.
    • With his friend, Eric Xu, he moved back to China to found Baidu in 2000.
    • "Baidu" was inspired by a poem written more than 800 years ago during the Song Dynasty, "…hundreds and thousands of times, for her I searched in chaos, suddenly, I turned by chance, to where the lights were waning, and there she stood."
    • Baidu, whose meaning is hundreds of times, represents persistent search for the ideal.
    • Li served as Chairman of the Board and Xu, trained as a biochemist, served as CEO.
    • Their first office was a hotel room near Peking University.
    • In 2004, Xu resigned from the company to pursue the field of biotechnology.
    • Li took on the role of CEO and a year later, the company went public on Nasdaq.
    • Baidu has China’s leading search engine with 70 percent of the market share and the third largest independent search engine world-wide.
    • Li and Xu have been listed on Forbes.com’s list of the 400 richest people in China.
    • Music companies have sued over copyright violations for links to music
    • Western media have complained that it assists in Internet censorship in China.
    • On November 15, 2008, China Central Television reported that Baidu’s paid-search clients were included in its search results.
    • A few days after the CCTV report, the company apologized.
    • As of March 2010, his net worth is $3.5 Billion.
    • He is married to Malissa Ma and has one child.
  • Lieberman sponsors Internet Kill Switch bill
    • Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., is sponsoring a bill that would grant the President far-reaching powers to take control of, or even shut down, parts of the Internet.
    • Broadband providers, search engines and software companies that the US Government selects “shall immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed” by the DHS if the legislation became law.
    • Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security committee, said the emergency authority would allow the federal government to “preserve those networks and assets and our country and protect our people.”
    • However, one of the most important things about the Internet is its relative lack of regulation and government control.
    •  The proposed legislation would give the American president immense power and could be renewed indefinitely — creating a bigger threat than any other risk.
    • The unintended consequences of such passage could lead to absolute power by our government.
    • Cyberthreats should be taken seriously, but granting the government this much power and creating more bureaucracy is not the answer.
    • Our government must craft more dynamic and preventive measures to safeguard domestic companies and citizens — as well as develop effective and robust models of what to do when the worst happens.
    • Implementing the proposed plan would do nothing more than cause chaos and limit the information available American citizens.
  • iPhone 4 antenna issue: User error or design flaw?
    • iPhone 4 has signal loss when gripped in a certain way.
    • Apple is writing it off as easily fixable by altering the way it’s held.
    • The problem is thought to be particularly acute for left-handed owners who naturally touch the phone in the sensitive area.
    • The casing of Apple’s latest phone is made of stainless steel, which also serves as its antenna.
    • The iPhone 4 has two antennas built very close to the metal band running around the exterior of the device. The one running on the left side of the phone is for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the one on the right is for cellular reception.
    • When the phone is touched the left bottom area, reception degrades or disappears.
    • Apple says to avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.
    • Their response points to the problem being the fault of the customer.
    • It can be solved by shielding the bottom left corner with a silicone case or with a piece of Scotch tape. This points to a design flaw.
    • In many smartphones today, the antenna is built into the bottom of the phone.
    • That’s for two reasons: to meet FCC requirements regarding the specific absorption rate, or SAR (how much radiation is allowed to enter the human body), and because the extending antenna went out of style several years ago.
    • Smartphone makers are placing more constraints on themselves to make increasingly smaller phones with increasingly sophisticated features and design.
    • Given all these constraints, the person who designed (the iPhone 4) did something pretty daring. He moved the antenna to the vicinity of the band. Using the band as part of the antenna system is the root of the problem.
    • 1.5 million iPhone 4’s were sold on the first day.
  • The iPhone 4 features
    • Physical
      • Full stainless steel body with glass front
      • Proximity sensor for dimming control and auto answer
    • Display
      • New ‘retinal display’
      • 960×640 resolution
      • Only 22% fewer pixels than iPad
    • Internals
      • New battery
      • Quad-band radio
      • 3-axis gyroscope
      • Proximity sensor
      • Battery life: 7 hours of 3G talk, 6 hours of 3G browsing, 10 hours of browsing over WiFi, and 300 hours of standby.
      • Peak transfer speeds should reach 7.2 mbps down, and 5.8 mbps up.
      • The 3-axis gyroscope will allow developers to work with pitch, roll and yaw, as well as rotation about a gravitational point.
    • Camera Changes
      • 5 megapixel rear camera
      • VGA front-facing camera
      • 720p HD recording at 30 frames a second
      • iMovie for iPhone
    • Operating System
      • Multi-tasking is here finally.
  • iPad Specifications
    • Size and weight
      • Height: 9.56 inches (242.8 mm)
      • Width: 7.47 inches (189.7 mm)
      • Depth: 0.5 inch (13.4 mm)
      • Weight: 1.5 pounds Wi-Fi model and 1.6 pounds Wi-Fi + 3G model
    • Display
      • 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen
      • 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)
    • Wireless and cellular
      • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
      • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology
      • UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)
      • GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
    • Location
      • Digital compass
      • Assisted GPS (Wi-Fi + 3G model)
      • Cellular (Wi-Fi + 3G model)
    • Memory
      • 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive
    • Sensors
      • Accelerometer
      • Ambient light sensor
    • Disadvantages: No Flash, Limited applications for larger screen.
  • Porno Domain .XXX Moves Toward Approval
    • Proponents of the creation of a top-level .XXX Internet domain scored a victory Friday following a decision issued by the ICANN board.
    • Groups like the ICM Registry have been vying for the creation of the domain since 2000
    • . Advocates say cordoning off a separate domain for adult entertainment makes it easier to ID
    • Critics say it will be expensive and raises difficult questions about defining porn.
  • Google Remote-Removes Two Applications
    • Two Android applications that Google claims "intentionally misrepresented their purpose" have not only been removed from the Android Market, but have also been erased from the phones to which they’d been downloaded.
    • The company used its remote delete ability to wipe the apps from users’ phones, though Google says the applications were not designed to be used maliciously.
    • The Internet search giant pointed to this action as one of many security controls Android posses to protect users.
    • The announcement came shortly after the release of a study earlier in the week that claimed a large number of Google apps present security issues.
    • The two applications, built by a security researcher, misrepresented their purpose to encourage users to download them.
    • The security researchers who made the apps voluntarily removed them from the Android Market, but Google went an additional step further by remotely erasing the apps from all the Android phones onto which they’ve been downloaded.
    • Android is a multi-process system in which each app and part of the system runs in its own process.
    • Each Android package file installed on a device is given its own unique Linux ID.
    • This creates a sandbox for it and prevents it from touching other apps or other apps from touching it.
  • Tenth Anniversary of Sequencing the Human Genome.
    • On June 26, 2000 US President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the successful completion of a “draft sequence” of the human genome.
    • The project itself had begun a decade earlier, through $3 billion in government funding from the US Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health, and a sturdy framework of international collaboration.
    • In 1998, a private initiative led by Dr. J. Craig Venter had entered the human-genome race, using $300 million in funding and a faster, cheaper sequencing method to catch up to the government program.
    • A “complete” sequence of the human genome would not actually be obtained until 2003.
    • The picture that has emerged since 2000 is that the classical understanding of how life’s core cellular machinery functions is rather shallow.
    • Sequencing revealed that genes only constituted a small, fractional percentage of the human genome.
    • The other 98 percent or so of the genome that didn’t code for proteins acquired the misguided label of “junk DNA,” though it’s now clear that much of that “junk” actually serves the purpose of coding for RNA.
    • The field of “paleogenomics” has yielded a sequence for the Neanderthal genome, revealing a new chapter in human prehistory and shedding light on what precisely made us human in the first place.
    • And the pace of progress is now accelerating, notably due to the increased use of high-performance computing to distill knowledge from the exponentially increasing amounts of genomic data via comparative analysis.
    • In China, the BGI (formerly known as the Beijing Genomics Institute) is installing 128 cutting-edge sequencing machines, which may concentrate enough sequencing power within a single building to overshadow the entire DNA-sequencing capacity of the US.
    • The price of a complete genomic sequence is presently too expensive for most individuals to afford, but seems set to fall in coming years to $1,000, perhaps even $100. Costs for genetic synthesis (the on-demand creation of strands of DNA from scratch) are falling as well.
    • Last week, news came that the aging rocker Ozzy Osbourne planned to have his genome sequenced, ostensibly to show how he’s managed to live so long despite a lifetime of drug-fueled debauchery.