Show of 9-25-2010

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Nikita: Dr. Richard Shurtz, I have a service I want to post an ad about on Craigslist. In the old days, you just posted it. Now, CL requires a phone# authentication. I submitted my phone number. System says that they have to contact me to verify. Then, I am never contacted. Then, I find out that they can’t verify a VoIP phone number. I’ve written to Craig and not gotten a reply. I also called them last week and no one answers their phone…Do you know how I can work with this/resolve this? Thanks, Nikita
    • Tech Talk Answers: You have no choice but use use an Authenticated Phone Number for the sevices section. They will not authenticate a toll-free number or any VoIP phone service without an external phone number. If you have an VoIP system with a regular phone number, there should be no problem. However, they may be slow in authentication because of the load. The blogs have many complaints and there is no one to call directly. Try again and I will look further for assistance.
    • Email from Andrew: Dear Tech Talk. When I delete stuff out of my recycle bin, I can go and find it and do a DOD wipe to remove all evidence of it ever having existed. However, what happens to the stuff I delete from my e-mails, where does this go when it is deleted? If not, how can I delete the stuff then? I have to sometimes download and print bank statements and other documents, this is the premise behind the question. Thanks, Andrew
    • Tech Talk Answers: It depends on your email program, and how you use it.
    • What is secure delete? When you delete a file (by emptying your recycle bin, or using a delete that bypasses the recycle bin), the data is actually left on the hard drive. The area of the hard drive that the data is on is marked as "empty", and will not actually be overwritten until another file is written to the disk that ends up taking that same placement on the hard drive. A secure delete (or a "DOD wipe) erases the data from the disk areas formerly occupied by the file you just deleted. Options typically exist to securely wipe all free space on the drive, ensuring that all deleted files are unrecoverable, and to perform that secure wipe multiple times so that even the most advanced data forensics tools would be unable to recover it. Download Sdelete v1.51 to perform this task (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897443.aspx).
    • Therre are two approaches to email: web-based and PC-based email.
    • Web-based email: When you delete an email via a web based interface such as Hotmail or Gmail, the deletion is happening on their server. There’s no way to know whether the delete is secure or not. However, because of all of the disk activity, it will probably be overwritten quickly.
    • However, your browser has a cache, and that cache is kept on your hard drive. It’s possible that images of the pages you’ve visited are cached and kept on your hard drive. Clear your browser’s cache
    • PC-Based Email: When it comes to email on your computer it really depends on how your email program stores your email. There are two types of storage. Aggregate Data Stores and Individual Data Stores.
      • Aggregate Data Stores –Stores multiple email messages in a single file. Most email programs, including Outlook, Outlook Express and Thunderbird all fall into this category. When you delete an email these programs simply mark the email as deleted, but otherwise leave it alone. It’s not until they "compact" your email that the message is physically removed. Empty your email program’s recycle bin if it has one, compact your email (you should see these files get smaller when the compaction is done), and then once again: secure delete to wipe your free space.
      • Individual Data Stores — Stores email messages as individual separate files. Windows Live Mail may fall into this category. Delete your mail, empty your recycle bin, and run your secure delete.
  • Profiles in IT: John J. Cullinane
    • John J. Cullinane created Cullinet Software, the first software company to go public in Wall Street. During 13 years, Cullinet annually grew by 50 %.
    • John J. Cullinane was born in 1935 in Arlington, Massachusetts.
    • His parents were immigrants who came to the US from Ireland in 1929.
    • In 1954, while attending Northeastern University, he got a job at Arthur D. Little.
    • Arthur D. Little had one of the first commercially available computers in the United States and it was located in the room next to Cullinane.
    • When he graduated, they offered him a job to run the computer.
    • In 1960, he went to New England Telephone & Telegraph as a management trainee.
    • In 1961, he moved to The Corporation for Economic Industry Research (CEIR) as a sales trainee. Then they made him the sales manager and soon Center Director.
    • In 1964, he moved to a firm called Philip Hankins & Company as VP for sales and marketing. There were seventeen people doing classic software programming.
    • This is where he got the idea for pre-packaged software
    • He sold a generalized payroll system to a bank down the street. He designed three more payroll systems for more banks.
    • When he another bank with the same computer system wanted the same application, he simply sold them the software for 20K and they were running in two weeks.
    • In 1966, he was recruited to open up the Boston office of Auerbach Corporation, a computer consulting firm.
    • But he want to start his own firm, selling existing application software.
    • The concept was that they would acquire software from institutions like banks, repackage and resell it.
    • In 1968, Cullinane headed for New York. He raised $500,000 from 25 investors, and Cullinane Corporation was established.
    • Prior to seeking the venture capital, he got non-binding letters. He continues to use this technique to establish market potential
    • By 1972, however, Cullinane’s dream was rapidly becoming a nightmare. All that remained of the original half-million dollars was $500.
    • Within a year, Cullinane acquired the rights to BF Goodrich data base management system, which he reworked and renamed Integrated Database Management Systems (IDMS). Combined with a new product called Integrated Data Dictionary, IDMS gave the company a new range of customers and a competitive edge against IBM.
    • In 1978 Cullinane became the first publicly traded software company and in 1982 joined the New York Stock Exchange. He changed the name to Cullinet Software.
    • Cullinet was also the first software company to have a billion dollar valuation, and the first to do a Super Bowl ad.
    • The company lost market share when IBM deployed a relational database DB2
    • In 1989, Cullinet was sold to Computer Associates for $330M in stock.
    • Following the sale of Cullinet Software, Inc., Cullinane became a John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
    • Cullinane has worked extensively with the Irish software industry and promoted peace through jobs and economic development in Northern Ireland.
  • Verizon To Go to Tiered Plan
    • Verizon is preparing to roll out new plans within the next four to six months with limits on different tiers depending on how much data customers want to use.
    • This definitely looks like the future of 3G data pricing, though 4G plans will likely remain limitless—at least until a critical mass of customers get on board.
    • Verizon’s comments follow AT&T’s decision to ditch its unlimited 3G data plan earlier this year.
    • Though current customers can continue to milk their $30 monthly unlimited plans for as long as they continue to use the same device on the same account, the new plans have 200MB and 2GB limits for $15 and $25 per month, respectively.
    • More and more customers are making the switch from traditional feature phones to smartphone-like devices that use 3G, and as a result, congestion on 3G networks continues to build.
    • This has not yet been the case for 4G networks, though.
    • For now, though, it looks like the future of 3G data plans includes tiers, while 4G data plans will remain unleashed.
  • Facebook blames outage on Internal Flaw
    • Facebook has published a detailed explanation of an internal configuration flaw that left the site unavailable for around two and a half hours overnight – the social network’s worst downtime in four years.
    • The outage stemmed from a cascading series of problems involving an error correction system that feed into a feedback loop that only cutting traffic to a database cluster and rebooting the site could solve.
    • The social network apologized for the downtime, which affected servers worldwide, and promised to redesign the faulty system it used to correct configuration values to prevent future problems in the area.
    • Facebook released a statement explaining what sparked the outage, which the company called its worst in more than four years:
      • Today we made a change to the persistent copy of a configuration value that was interpreted as invalid. This meant that every single client saw the invalid value and attempted to fix it. Because the fix involves making a query to a cluster of databases, that cluster was quickly overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of queries a second.
      • To make matters worse, every time a client got an error attempting to query one of the databases it interpreted it as an invalid value, and deleted the corresponding cache key. This meant that even after the original problem had been fixed, the stream of queries continued. As long as the databases failed to service some of the requests, they were causing even more requests to themselves. We had entered a feedback loop that didn’t allow the databases to recover.
      • The way to stop the feedback cycle was quite painful–we had to stop all traffic to this database cluster, which meant turning off the site. Once the databases had recovered and the root cause had been fixed, we slowly allowed more people back onto the site.
  • Quest Suffers Service Outage
    • On September 23 Qwest spokesman had two incidents that affected network traffic. In the morning, the company suffered an equipment failure in its Tukwila, WA offices. That outage was confined to the Seattle area.
    • Later that morning, a contractor working in Indiana cut through part of the national backbone fiber that Qwest operates, forcing the company to reroute traffic across its entire network in order to bypass the cut fiber.
    • This resulted in the massive traffic backups that were noted on the Internet Health Report (http://www.internetpulse.net/)
  • Route Tracing the Internet
    • Go to command prompt
    • Type: tracert www.stratford.edu
    • You will get the number of hops to get to the Stratford website.
  • Stuxnet on the Loose
    • A piece of highly sophisticated malicious software that has infected an unknown number of power plants, pipelines and factories over the past year is the first program designed to cause serious damage in the physical world, security experts are warning.
    • The Stuxnet computer worm spreads through previously unknown holes in Microsoft’s Windows operating system and then looks for a type of software made by Siemens and used to control industrial components, including valves and brakes.
    • Stuxnet can hide itself, wait for certain conditions and give new orders to the components that reverse what they would normally do, the experts said. The commands are so specific that they appear aimed at an industrial sector, but officials do not know which one or what the affected equipment would do.
    • Stuxnet was tailored for Siemens supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems commonly used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other industrial facilities.
    • While cyber attacks on computer networks have slowed or stopped communication in countries such as Estonia and Georgia, Stuxnet is the first aimed at physical destruction and it heralds a new era in cyberwar.
    • According to Symantec, which has been investigating the virus and plans to publish details of the rogue commands on Wednesday, Iran has had far more infections than any other country.
    • Experts say Stuxnet’s knowledge of Microsoft’s Windows operating system, the Siemens program and the associated hardware of the target industry make it the work of a well-financed, highly organised team.
    • They suggest that it is most likely associated with a national government and that terrorism, ideological motivation or even extortion cannot be ruled out.
    • The German conglomerate said it had offered its customers a fix for the virus and that since the Stuxnet virus was detected, there had been 12,000 downloads of its anti-virus software.
  • Social Media Users Getting Older
    • Social media users 50 and older are now the fastest-growing demographic among Internet users, a recent Pew study showed.
    • In the last year, social networking among 50-plus Internet users nearly doubled — from 25 percent to 47 percent, according to the Pew study.
    • That’s compared with an increase of 10 percentage points among Internet users 18-29 years old, whose membership level is now at 86 percent.
    • The Troy (Mich.) Senior Computer Learning Center has seen increased demand this year as digital holdouts face pressure from family and friends to make the leap.
    • If they want to know what’s going on in their grandkids’ lives, they have to text or log on to Facebook.
    • Some also express concerns over infringing on their children’s personal lives. For some, friending their child or grandchild is akin to snooping.
    • Privacy controls do allow users to decide which groups of friends see what information. Kids can choose to have certain updates kept from their parents and vice versa.
    • People who are not on sites like Facebook can feel excluded from the sharing of family news and photos.
  • Einstein’s Theory is Proved Again
    • Now scientists have demonstrated the true nature of Einstein’s theory for the first time with an incredibly accurate atomic clock that is able to keep time to within one second in about 3.7 billion years – roughly the same length of time that life has existed on Earth.
    • James Chin-Wen Chou and his colleagues from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, found that when they monitored two such clocks positioned just a foot apart in height above sea level, they found that time really does run more quickly the higher you are – just has Einstein predicted.
    • The atomic clocks used in the study are based on the tiny vibrations of aluminium atoms trapped in an electric field. These vibrations are in the same frequency range of ultraviolet light, detected by lasers, which effectively means that the atomic timepieces are optical clocks, accurate enough to measure billionths of a second and to keep time accurately over millions of years.
    • It means that the clocks were able to perceive the dilation of time with height above ground that was first predicted by Einstein. For every foot above ground, for instance, the clocks showed that someone would age about 90 billionths of a second faster over a 79-year lifetime, Dr Chou said.
    • This is a practical demonstration of the "twin paradox", a thought experiment of Einstein’s special theory of relativity which states that an identical twin sibling who travels through space in a rocket will actually age more slowly than the other twin living on terra firma.