Show of 8-28-2010

  • Best of Tech Talk taken from previous shows
    • Details of the previously recorded segments are shown below.
  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Ellen: My husband wants to reformat his computer, because of a virus. He wants to save certain files, and wants to know the best way to save those files. Ellen.
    • Tech Talk Answers: If you want to be totally, absolutely sure you don’t miss something important, then you want to take a complete backup image of your computer. Use a backup program like Acronis TrueImage or an equivalent, and backup your entire machine, most likely to an external hard disk. This is good practice anyway.
    • If you know exactly which files you need to save, your options are actually fairly simple:
      • Copy the file(s) to floppy disks
      • Copy the file(s) to a USB flash drive
      • Copy the file(s) to an external hard disk
      • Copy (or "burn") the file(s) to a CD or DVD
      • Copy the file(s) to another machine on your local area network
    • You simply need to copy those files to some other place so that you can copy them back after your machine has been reformatted.
  • Profiles in IT: Jack St. Clair Kilby
    • Jack St. Clair Kilby invented the integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments. He is also the inventor of the handheld calculator.
    • Jack Kilby was born November 8, 1923 in Jefferson City, Missouri.
    • He grew up in Great Bend, Kansas, and graduated from Great Bend High School.
    • Kilby received a BSEE degree in 1947 from the University of Illinois.
    • He received an MSEE in 1950 from University of Wisconsin while at Centralab in Milwaukee.
    • Kilby was hired by Texas Instruments in 1958.
    • He was assigned to work on transistor circuit design problem that was commonly called the "tyranny of numbers? because of the large number of interconnects.
    • In July 1958, when most employees left for the traditional two-week vacation period, Kilby — as a new employee with no vacation — stayed to man the shop.
    • It was in a relatively deserted laboratory at TI’s brand new Semiconductor Building where Jack Kilby first hit on the idea of the integrated circuit.
    • He came to the conclusion that manufacturing the circuit components in mass in a single piece of semiconductor material could provide a solution.
    • During the summer of that year working with borrowed and improvised equipment, he conceived and built the first electronic circuit in which all of the components, both active and passive, were fabricated in a single piece of semiconductor material half the size of a paper clip.
    • The successful laboratory demonstration of that first simple microchip on September 12, 1958, made history. The first circuit was a simple oscillator.
    • A patent for a "Solid Circuit made of Germanium", was filed on February 6, 1959.
    • In March, 1959, Robert Noyce, co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor, developed a silicon integrated circuit. Some view Noyce a co-inventor of the IC. Noyce co- founded Intel in 1968.
    • Fairchild and TI cross-licensed their patents.
    • But while the U.S. Air Force showed some interest in TI’s integrated circuit, industry reacted skeptically.
    • The integrated circuit first won a place in the military market through programs such as the first computer using silicon chips for the Air Force in 1961 and the Minuteman Missile in 1962.
    • Recognizing the need for a "demonstration product" to speed widespread use of the IC, Patrick E. Haggerty, former TI chairman, challenged Kilby to design a calculator as powerful as the large, electro-mechanical desktop models of the day, but small enough to fit in a coat pocket.
    • The resulting electronic hand-held calculator, of which Kilby is a co-inventor, successfully commercialized the integrated circuit.
    • From 1978 to 1985, he was Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University.
    • In 1983, Kilby retired from Texas Instruments.
    • He received the Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of the integrated circuit in December 2000.
    • Kilby died June 20, 2005 when he was 81, in Dallas, Texas
  • Getting a Job without Experience – The Chicken and the Egg
    • We are going to start a career section that addresses the age old problem: "I can’t get a job without experience and I can’t get experience without a job." So what comes first: The Job or the Experience? This is the classic chicken and egg problem. What comes first: The Chicken or the Egg?
    • First understand where the field is going by reading industry magazines or "rags." Most of these publications are free and give you something interesting to talk about during the interview.
    • Second, get the competencies demanded by the industry, either through self-study or through an educational institution, like Stratford University.
    • Third, learn the standards and procedures that support your industry in order to demonstrate that you will be in a position to make valid technical decisions.
    • Fourth, package yourself with a well written resume that emphasizes where you are going rather than where you have been (particularly if you are making a radical career change).
    • Fifth, network by joining user groups and trade associations (and don’t make the mistake of asking for a job at these meetings!). You will uncover opportunities and make many friends through this process.
    • Finally, survey employers to find out where they are going. Research each firm you visit and send thank you notes after you the complete informational interview. This process normally leads to a "lucky" discovery. Remember, you can’t find a gold coin in the grass unless you are walking around the lawn.
    • And, if you are a woman, don’t forget to tap the Women in IT support groups. They are excellent.
  • Home Project 1: Use Backtrack2 to Learn Hacking Tools
    • BackTrack is the top rated Linux distribution focused on penetration testing.
    • Currently BackTrack consists of more than 300 different up-to-date tools which are logically structured according to the work flow of security professionals.
    • Download Disk Image from www.remote-exploit.org
  • Home Project 2: Set up a Beowulf Linux Cluster
    • Beowulf is an epic poem about a 6th century warrior
      • Beowulf kills the sea monster Grendel to save King Hrothgar’s Kingdom.
      • He twists off Grendel’s arm and Grendel bleeds to death.
      • Linux Cluster was named Beowulf because it was designed to slay the Mainframe.
    • In late 1993, Donald Becker and Thomas Sterling began sketching the outline of a commodity-based cluster system designed as a cost-effective alternative to large supercomputers.
    • They started Beowulf project (www.beowulf.org) in early 1994.
    • Beowulf Clusters are scalable performance clusters based on commodity hardware, on a private system network, with open source software (Linux) infrastructure.
    • The commodity hardware can be any of a number of mass-market, stand-alone compute nodes as simple as two networked computers each running Linux and sharing a file system or as complex as 1024 nodes with a high-speed, low-latency network.
    • Class I clusters are built entirely using commodity hardware and software using standard technology such as SCSI, Ethernet, and IDE. They are typically less expensive than Class II clusters which may use specialized hardware to achieve higher performance.
    • Other Linux cluster sites
  • Distributed Computing Projects on the Internet
    • SETI@home (need some space music here)
      • Web site: setiathome.berkeley.edu/
      • SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is a scientific area whose goal is to detect intelligent life outside Earth.
      • One approach, known as radio SETI, uses radio telescopes to listen for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space.
      • In 1995, David Gedye proposed doing radio SETI using a virtual supercomputer composed of large numbers of Internet-connected computers, and he organized the SETI@home project to explore this idea.
      • SETI@home was originally launched in May 1999.
      • SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).
    • Folding@home
      • Web site: folding.stanford.edu
      • What is protein folding and how is folding linked to disease?
      • Proteins are biology’s workhorses — its "nanomachines."
      • Before proteins can carry out these important functions, they assemble themselves, or "fold."
      • The process of protein folding, while critical and fundamental to virtually all of biology, in many ways remains a mystery.
      • Moreover, when proteins do not fold correctly (i.e. "misfold"), there can be serious consequences (Alzheimer’s disease, Mad Cow (BSE) disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes
    • World Community Grid
      • Web site: www.worldcommunitygrid.org
      • World Community Grid’s mission is to create the largest public computing grid benefiting humanity.
      • Projects include Muscular Dystrophy, Fiocruz Genome Comparison, Cancer Research, Human Proteome Folding, FightingAids@home
      • IBM funded and launched this program in November 2004
    • How to participate in SETI@home, Folding@home, or World Community Grid.
      • Go to their respective web sites.
      • Download the screen saver.
      • When your screen saver is active you computer will do calculations have been downloaded from a central server.
      • When the calculations are complete, the results will be uploaded and another problem block will be downloaded.
      • No calculations are done while you are using your computer
  • String Theory — Breakthrough or Cruel Hoax?
    • String Theory debate Wednesday, March 28, 2007
      • Hosted by Smithsonian Institute and Department of Energy
      • Brian Greene, String Theorist, author The Elegant Universe
      • Lawrence Kraus, Elementary Particle Physicist, author of Hiding in the Mirror : The Mysterious Allure of Extra Dimensions, from Plato to String Theory and Beyond. Also wrote The Physics of Star Trek and Beyond Star Trek
      • The entire Baird Auditorium was sold out
    • String theory is an attempt to unify the two pillars of modern science: Quantum Mechanics (the very small) and General Relativity (the very large).
    • String theory proposes that all elementary particles are are made of tiny, vibrating strings of energy.
    • String theory requires the existence of six (or seven) extra spatial dimensions, "hidden" dimensions curled in tiny geometric shapes at every single point in our universe.
    • Each universe or reality is actually a ten dimensional membrane (or brane) within an eleven dimensional world
    • According to string theory mathematics, the extra dimensions could adopt any of tens of thousands of possible shapes, each shape theoretically corresponding to its own universe with its own set of physical laws.
    • The question remains: how are the extra dimensions folded?
    • Arguments in favor of theory
      • Only theory that currently embraces both Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity
      • Actually predicted gravity
      • Experimental verification possible, but difficult
    • Three possible ways to experimentally verify the theory
      • Distribution of background radiation created by the Big Bang.
        • Planck satellite to be launched by EU should be sensitive enough to measure this.
        • The shapes of extra dimensions can be "seen" by deciphering their influence on cosmic energy released by the violent birth of the universe over13 billion years ago
      • Observation of harmonics when atoms collide in atom smashers.
        • Hopes that the Large Hadron collider at CERN will do it
        • Looking harmonic frequencies of the basic string resonance frequency as indirect proof of strings
      • Energy leakage when atoms collide
        • Energy lost is caused by presence of additional dimensions.
        • Based on the fact that total energy must be conserve
    • Arguments against theory
      • Never experimentally verified
      • No actual quantifiable predictions yet and probably never
      • Extra dimensions are not natural and actually a fudge factor
      • Still not proven after 37 years
    • For those who are interested in String Theory
  • Why We Can’t Imagine Extra Dimensions
    • Read Flatland by Edwin A. Abbot
    • Two-dimensional world of polygons where more sides mean higher status.
    • A three-dimensional sphere tries to explain the third dimension to a two-dimensional square.
  • CD’s 28th Anniversary
    • Friday, August 17th was the CDs birthday
    • First CD manufactured by Philips factory, Hanover, Germany, August 17, 1982.
    • Philips and Sony co-developed CD.
    • The original target storage capacity for a CD was one hour of audio content, and a disc diameter of 115 mm was sufficient for this, however both parties extended the capacity to 74 minutes to accommodate a complete performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
    • The first CD to be manufactured at the plant was The Visitors by ABBA.
    • By the time CDs were introduced on the market in November 1982, a catalogue of around 150 titles mainly classical music had been produced.
    • The first CDs and CD players including Philips’ CD100 were introduced in Japan in November, followed by a US and European market introduction in March of 1983.
    • Over 200 billion CDs sold in last 28 years.
    • If all CDs ever produced were piled up, the stack of CDs would circle the earth six times.