Show of 11-27-2010

  •  Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Felix: Dear Tech Talk, I have a Hotmail account and want to transfer it to Gmail. What do you suggest? I listen to Tech Talk every Saturday morning. Congratulations on your Slashdot reference. Thank Felix
    • Tech Talk Responds: Gmail has been configured to make this easy. When logged into Gmail, click on to Settings in the upper right hand corner. Select the Accounts and Import tab. Click Import Mail and Contacts button. After you provide email address and password, Gmail will import your contacts and email from your Hotmail account. If you desire, it will continue to import email for the next 30 days and then stop automatically. After completing the import, log onto Hotmail and send an email blast to all your contacts informing them of the change. Then enable the auto-responder feature (sometimes called vacation message) to let any new email senders that you have moved. Hotmail will automatically close if you stop using for awhile.
    • Email from Mike: Good job! You made Slashdot!. Mike O’Dell
    • Tech Talk Responds: You saw the Slashdot article before I did. I was referencing the Computerworld article about the 20th anniversary of the H1B Visa. This article mentioned the fact that Stratford University had more OPT STEM extensions than any other university in the US. I was interviewed by the Computerworld reporter and asked to comment on the impact of the H1B Visa program.
    • Email from Ron: Dear Dr. Shurtz, As a retired academic and financial sector economist living near your Tysons Corner campus (and a regular Saturday morning listener to Tech Talk), I wanted to convey my appreciation for your perceptive remarks about economic and immigration policy on last week’s Tech Talk broadcast.  It was an unexpected pleasure to hear that kind of wisdom on local radio, especially in the national capital area where common sense on these issues is a scarce resource. I share your belief in the corrective abilities of the American electorate, long may it reign. Keep up the good work, Ron Krieger
    • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks Ron. I will continue later in the show with a brief discourse on the importance of an innovation ecosystem and how public policy is an essential ingredient to our future success.
    • Email from Tom: Dear Dr. Shurtz, Can you explain in a fairly simple way why the direction from one point on the earth to another is not 180 degrees when going in the opposite direction? For example, when I check the distance between New York New York and Los Angeles California I find that it is 2462 miles or 2139 nautical miles.  The direction is given as 274.0 degrees or very slightly north of due west.  However, the direction from Los Angeles California to New York New York is given as 66.1 degrees with the distance remaining the same .It seems to me that if I stretch a string between these two cities on a globe the shortest distance between them should be 180 degrees opposite. Why am I wrong? I listen to your program every week and enjoy it very much. I’ve been listening since the WMAL days. Thanks, Tom
    • Tech Talk Responds: If you draw the shortest distance between two points on a sphere on a map which has been flattened (conformal mapping of coordinates), the line will be an arc rather than a straight line. This curvature is what causes the deviation from 180 degrees. If you are a pilot, you must also account for the rotation of the Earth. Also, the Earth is actually an oblate spheroid (fatter at the equator). 
  • Profiles in IT: Reid Hoffman
    • Reid Hoffman is best known as the founder of LinkedIn, a social network used for business connections, and considered to a super angel.
    • Reid Hoffman was born August 5, 1967 in Stanford, CA and grew up in Berkeley.
    • He attended high school at The Putney School in Vermont, a liberal arts high school.
    • He received a BS from Stanford University in Symbolic Systems and a Masters in philosophy from Oxford University.
    • Symbolic systems is a combination of artificial intelligence and cognitive science.
    • Initially seeking to be a philosopher, he switched to business and entrepreneurship.
    • After working at Apple Computer and Fujitsu in product management, Hoffman co-founded his first company, SocialNet.com, an online dating service.
    • While at SocialNet, Hoffman was a member of the board of directors at the founding of PayPal and later joined the firm as a full-time employee.
    • At the time of PayPal’s acquisition by eBay in 2002, he was Executive VP of PayPal.
    • During his tenure at PayPal, Hoffman was instrumental to the acquisition by eBay and was responsible for partnerships with Intuit, Visa, MasterCard and Wells Fargo.
    • Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn in 2003. It was one of the first business-oriented online social networks. He was LinkedIn’s founding CEO for the first four years before becoming Chairman and President, Products in February 2007.
    • LinkedIn currently has 80 million members in over 200 countries.
    • In July of 2010, Tiger Global Management bought 1% of the company, valuing it at $2 billion.
    • After the PayPal sale to eBay, Hoffman became one of Silicon Valley’s most prolific and successful angel investors.
    • He made 80 angel investments in technology companies. In 2010 Hoffman joined Greylock Partners and runs their $20 million Discovery Fund.
    • According to David Kirkpatrick’s book The Facebook Effect, Hoffman arranged the first meeting between Mark Zuckerberg and Peter Thiel, which led to Thiel’s initial $500,000 angel investment in the company. Hoffman invested alongside Thiel in Facebook’s very first financing round. Facebook is valued at more than $14B.
    • Hoffman personally invested and joined the board of directors in Zynga’s first round of funding. Hoffman and Zynga CEO Mark Pincus co-own the Six Degrees Patent.
    • Zynga (known for Farmville and other online games) is currently worth $5 billion.
    • His other investments include Tagged, IronPort, Flickr, Digg, Ping.fm, Nanosolar, Care.com, Knewton, Kongregate, Last.fm, OneKingsLane, and shopkick.
    • He serves on the boards of Kiva.org (a micro-finance organization), Mozilla (creator of Firefox), and Endeavor Global (supports entrepreneurship in emerging markets).
    • Twitter address: http://twitter.com/quixotic
    • He has lobbied for government support of entrepreneurship, including: micro-financing for startups, welcome foreign innovations, raise H-1B Visa cap, match VC funds.
    • According to Hoffman, entrepreneurs are the fertile soil for job growth and recovery. Small companies represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms. They pay nearly 45 percent of U.S. private payroll and have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the past decade.
  • Stratford Makes Slashdot
    • This appeared in Slashdot this week.
    • Back in 2008, the Department of Homeland Security enacted a controversial ’emergency’ rule to allow foreign students earning tech-related degrees in the US to work for American employers for 29 months after graduation without a work visa. The program would allow US companies to recruit and retain the ‘best’ science and tech students educated at the top US universities, explained Microsoft.
    • But two-and-a-half years later, it turns out the top US universities are getting schooled by less-renowned institutions. Computerworld reports the DHS program is dominated by little-known, for-profit Stratford University, whose 727 approved requests for post-graduate Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM extensions tops all schools and is more than twice the combined total of the entire Ivy League — Brown (26), Columbia (105), Cornell (90), Dartmouth (18), Harvard (27), Princeton (16), Penn (50), and Yale (9).
  • Computerword Article: H-1B Visa 20th Anniversary
    • Computerword, November 17, 2010 Edition
    • When Congress created the H-1B visa program 20 years ago this month, it sent the American IT industry into uncharted territory from which it has yet to emerge.
    • The H-1B incorporated specialty occupations — including such IT roles as programming, systems analysis, and network and systems support — with a minimum requirement of a bachelor’s degree. The H-1B visa also allowed workers to pursue permanent residency.
    • In the years leading up to the recession in 2008, demand for H-1B visas exceeded the annual supply of 85,000, some years by 60,000 or more.
    • The Bush administration, unable to persuade Congress to increase the visa cap, developed an alternative strategy:
    • It extended the amount of time a foreign student with a science, technology, engineering or math degree can work for a private employer without a work visa, from 12 to 29 months.
    • But the university that has the largest number of students who applied for OPT extensions is a relatively small one. Students at Stratford University in Falls Church, Va., accounted for 730 OPT extensions in 2009 alone.
    • I was quoted in the Computerworld article, If the U.S. wants to continue to be an economic power, they are going to have to absorb those workers in the U.S. in support of our economy instead of sending them home. The H-1B visa allows us to keep that brain power.
  • Innovation Ecosystem
    • Innovation is enabled by inventions brought to the market by entrepreneurs.
      • According to Krisztina Holly, Vice Provost for Innovation at USC, a thriving ecosystem, whether in nature or economics, emerges from an evolutionary culture that nurtures diversity, doesn’t artificially pick "winners," and embraces failure early and often.
      • Innovation starts with the "understory" of the economic food chain: the entrepreneurs. In this group, you’ll find the diverse and future-oriented thinkers that will advance our economy despite times of struggle. This group gives us the mutations – the radical changes that enable groundbreaking ideas to enter the ecosystem if they are worthy.
    • An innovation ecosystem requires: entrepreneurs, research universities, capital formation, a favorable economic climate (tax, regulatory structure, non-intrusive governance).
    • We can only keep our leadership position if we continue to innovate and cultivate the next frontiers.
    • According to Ray Kursweil, who wrote The Singularity is Near, there are three technologies which will transform the future: cybernetics, DNA-based medical research, and nanotechnology. With these technologies, man will transform the world in which we live.
    • He talks of exponentially accelerating progress, a time when computers will be more intelligent than men, nano-machines that will replace manufacturing, and living forever.
    • The country which leads in these areas will dominant the world for a long time come.
    • The question is whether we pass the mantle or seize the opportunity.
      • Encourage the brightest to come and stay in the US. Green card with PhD.
      • Fund the research universities and encourage private-public partnerships.
      • End the negative discourse about business and honor the entrepreneur.
      • Keep government regulations low and non-intrusive
      • Keep taxes low, including capital gains to reward risk takers.
      • Keep inheritance taxes, which damage family businesses, low.
  • Windows Celebrates 25th Anniversary
    • On November 20, 1985, Microsoft shipped Windows 1.0 as a replacement for the DOS-prompt computing experience.
    • The idea was that users would no longer have to remember commands to do things like browse through file directories, install programs, or simply launch programs.
    • They could instead navigate with a keyboard and mouse. More importantly, the system brought multitasking, so users could run more than one application at a time.
    • While multitasking is something we now take for granted, at the time this was a killer productivity hook for computing.
    • Windows didn’t really catch on until its third iteration, some five years after the launch of the version 1.0.
    • Windows 3’s success, which can be measured in the 10 million copies it sold over two years, was based largely on the look and feel of the OS, along with backward compatibility for legacy software.
    • Following Windows 3, the company went on to launch Windows 95, which included the start button and the task bar and a massive ad campaign featuring The Rolling Stones.
    • This was followed by Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Millennium Edition, then XP–all within six years of each other.
    • XP then lived a very successful, though what could be considered a longer than anticipated lifespan, due in large part to Windows Vista.
    • Vista was met with a lukewarm reception both from consumers and companies alike, despite posting solid sales numbers.
    • After Vista came Windows 7. Windows 7 has proven to be a big success for Microsoft, with the company having sold more than 240 million copies of the software since its launch last October.
    • The future for MS is not so clear. Apple owns mobile or now. Google owns Internet apps for now. MS is still trying to overcome it success.
  • Tech Gift of the Year: Kinect for Xbox
    • With Kinect for Xbox 360, you are the controller.
    • Kinect uses a motion sensor that tracks your entire body.
    • When you play, it’s not only about your hands and wrists. It’s about all of you. Arms, legs, knees, waist, hips and so on.
    • As you play, Kinect creates a digital skeleton of you based on depth data. So when you move left or right or jump around, the sensor will capture it and put you in the game.
    • Facial recognition –Kinect ID remembers who you are by collecting physical data that’s stored in your profile. So when you want to play again, Kinect will know it’s you, making it easy to jump in whenever you want.
    • Voice Recognition – Kinect uses four strategically placed microphones within the sensor to recognize and separate your voice from the other noises in the room, so you can control movies and more with your voice.
    • The Kinect sensor contains an RGB camera and a depth sensor to track your movement.
    • It measures the positioning of 48 key joints in your anatomy and by tracking the movements of these joints, it can work out exactly what position your body is in.
    • It sees in 3D by overlaying the input from the RGB camera with the depth sensor.
    • The built-in multiarray microphone monitors the room for your voice.
    • Street price: $129 if you already have Xbox. (Kinect/Xbox combo less than $300).