Show of 4-30-2011

  • Best of Tech Talk Edition
    • Segments taken from previous shows.
  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Comment of Facebook from Ronald Glassford: Hello Tech Talk Radio. I listen to your podcast and enjoy the show very much. I am surprised but happy to be the first to post to your Facebook page. I would love to win a meal in your award winning dining room but being in Northern Ontario Canada the free meal would be very expensive for me. Since you are looking for discussion ideas I would love to hear your option of the Android OS and how it is developing. I held off on a iPad for Christmas this year because I wanted to see how other tablets would go.
    • Tech Talk Respond: Thanks for posting to Facebook. Great idea to talk about Android since Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) for tablets was just announced. Will get to that later in the show.
    • Email from Lauren: Dr. Richard Shurtz, Why is it when I go to YouTube and try and watch videos, many of them have significant pauses/stops during viewing. What is causing this? Is it something about my laptop or is this a YouTube site issue? Thanks, Lauren in Bethesda
    • Tech Talk Responds: Lauren, it is not your laptop or YouTube, it your Internet connection. You cannot download files at the rate that the video is streaming. So your systems buffers (stores data in advance), then plays until the buffer is empty, then buffers again. You can watch lower resolution videos or get a faster connection.
    • Email from Allen: Dear Tech Talk, should I include the "www" when linking to my web site? Allen
    • Tech Talk Responds: Most sites allow for both options. In the case of Stratford’s site, both http://stratford.edu and http://www.stratford.edu will work. The prefix dates back to the beginning when the same domain name would be directed to different servers and www would send it to the web server.
    • Email from Eileen: I am giving away my computer. How can I clean off all personal information and software before giving it away? Thanks, Eileen
    • Tech Talk Responds: Delete and uninstall as much as you can. Delete your data files and uninstall your programs.
      • For your data files, that means removing things from My Documents and wherever else you happen to keep data files. A good start for programs is to take a walk through the Add/Remove programs application in the Control Panel and just start uninstalling.
      • Remove All Login Users but Administrator
      • Clean up the disk. Run the built-in Disk Cleanup Utility or better yet use CCleaner (a free download).
      • Set your virtual memory to zero and delete the paging file
      • Turn off Hibernation, and remove the hibernation file.
      • Turn off System Restore.
      • Secure Erase the Empty Space using a tool like SDelete
    • The most secure way: erase the entire hard drive using secure erase and reinstall the OS.
  • Profiles in IT: Douglas Engelbart
    • He is best known for inventing the computer mouse and the graphical user interface.
    • Dr. Douglas C. Engelbart was born January 30, 1925 in Oregon .
    • Engelbart received a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Oregon State University in 1948, a B.Eng. from UC Berkeley in 1952, and a Ph.D. in EECS from UC Berkeley in 1955.
    • He stayed on at Berkeley as an acting assistant professor but a year later he left to work for Stanford Research Institute.
    • Engelbart was influenced by the principle of linguistic relativity which says that language controls the sophistication of the thoughts that can be expressed.
      • Engelbart reasoned that the state of technology controls our ability to manipulate information and our ability to develop new technologies.
      • His philosophy is summarized in Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, which was published in 1962.
    • He founded the Augmentation Laboratory at Stanford Research Institute.
    • He and his team developed computer-interface elements such as bit-mapped screens, groupware, hypertext and precursors to the graphical user interface.
    • In 1970 he received a patent for an "X-Y position indicator for a display system".
    • He never received any royalties for his mouse invention. Some years later he learned that SRI licensed the mouse to Apple for $40,000.
    • His version of windows was not patentable at that time.
    • In 1968, a 90-minute, staged public demonstration of a networked computer system was held at the Augmentation Research Center — the first public appearance of the mouse, windows, hypermedia with object linking and addressing, and video teleconferencing. He called the system the On Line System (NLS).
    • In 1969, ARC became the second node in the new ARPANET.
    • Several of Engelbart’s best researchers became alienated from him and left his organization for Xerox PARC due to differing views of the future of computing.
    • Engelbart saw the future in timeshare (client/server) computing, which younger programmers rejected in favor of the personal computer.
    • Engelbart continued to direct SRI’s Augmentation Research Center until 1978 when the lab was closed down for lack of funding.
    • NLS then became the principal line of business in Tymshare’s Office Automation Division under the name Augment.
    • In 1984, Tymshare was acquired by McDonnell Douglas Corporation, which terminated Engelbart’s laboratory in 1989.
    • In December 1995, he was the first recipient of the Yuri Rubinsky Memorial Award.
    • In 1997 he was awarded the Lemelson-MIT Prize of $500,000, the world’s largest single prize for invention and innovation, and the Turing Award.
    • Currently he is the director of his own company, the Bootstrap Institute, which he founded in 1988, devoted to refining the concept of Collective IQ and development of what he calls Open Hyper-Document Systems (OHS).
    • Bootstrap is housed rent-free courtesy of the Logitech Corp., the world’s largest manufacturer of computer mice.
  • Profiles in IT: Andrew Rubin
    • Andrew Rubin is the developer behind the Android OS for mobile devices.
    • Mr. Rubin grew up in Chappaqua, N.Y., the son of a psychologist who later founded his own direct-marketing firm, selling electronic gadgets which Rubin would try.
    • Andy Rubin attended Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, NY
    • He earned a BS in computer science from Utica College in New York.
    • After college he worked for Carl Zeiss, as a robot engineer and moved to Switzerland.
    • A chance encounter in the Cayman Islands brought him back to the US.
    • Walking on the beach there very early one morning in 1989, he Bill Caswell, sleeping on the beach. He had been evicted from his cottage after a fight with a girlfriend.
    • Rubin gave him a place to stay. Caswell offered him a job at Apple, which he accepted. He started Apple in 1989 as an engineer.
    • Rubin got into trouble with IT department after he reprogrammed the company’s internal phone system to make it appear as if calls were coming from the CEO.
    • In 1990, Apple spun off a unit that was exploring hand-held computing and communications devices into a separate entity called General Magic.
    • Rubin joined the new company two years later, where he thrived in total immersion.
    • He and several other engineers built loft beds above their cubicles so they could live at the office and work around the clock developing Magic Cap, an OS for handhelds.
    • It was ahead of its time. Just a handful of manufacturers and telecoms adopted it
    • When Magic Cap failed, Rubin joined Artemis Research, founded by Steve Perlman, which became WebTV and was eventually acquired by Microsoft.
    • Rubin left WebTV in 1999. He rented a retail store he called “the laboratory” in Palo Alto, populating it with robots, as a clubhouse for Rubin and his engineer friends.
    • They decided to make a device that cost less than $10 and allowed users to scan objects and perform an Internet lookup. No VCs were interested.
    • Then Rubin’s team, now called Danger Inc., added a radio receiver and transmitter. They pitched it as an Internet smartphone called the Sidekick. They got VC support.
    • In early 2002, Mr. Rubin gave a talk on the development of the Sidekick to an engineering class at Stanford. Larry Page and Sergey Brin attended the lecture. It was the first time they had met Mr. Rubin. Google was the default search engine.
    • In 2003, Rubin was ousted as CEO by the Board. Probably evil VC influence.
    • Using a domain name that he had owned for several years, Android.com, he started a new business and assembled a small team of engineers and product planners.
    • Their goal was to design a mobile hand-set open to any and all software designers.
    • Mr. Rubin spent all his savings on that project. He called his friend Mr. Perlman from Magic Cap and told him he was broke. Perlman ultimately lent him $100K.
    • This time, VC loved the idea. But Larry Page at Google found out about the company and within weeks, Google acquired Android for an undisclosed sum in 2005.
    • He is currently VP of Engineering at Google, where he is overseeing development of Android, an open-source operating system for smartphones.
    • Rubin says Google business model was a perfect match to Android. He probably would have failed selling the software.
    • His front door has a retinal scanner. If the scanner recognizes you, the door unlocks.
    • His doorbell is a robotic arm which grips a mallet and then strikes a large gong.
  • Book of the Week: Cooking for Geeks
    • Real science, great hacks, good food.
    • Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter (Publisher O’Reilly)Think like a Hacker
      • Initialize the Kitchen
      • Your Inputs: Flavors and Ingredients
      • Your Variables: Time and Temperature
      • Air: The Baker’s Key Variable
      • Fun with Hardware
    • One Example Lesson
      • Baking Soda: Bicarbonate which needs acids to form CO2. Used when the ingredients are acidic
      • Baking Powder: Baking soda plus acid. Self-contained for CO2 generation. Used when the ingredients are not acidic.
  • Physics of Whipped Cream
    • Notice the interesting behavior of whipped cream
      • First it flows smoothly out of the nozzle like a liquid.
      • Then, a moment later, it perched rigidly in the spoon as if it were solid.
      • What made it change?
    • Whipped cream performs this rapid changing act because of a phenomenon called "shear thinning."
    • When part of the foam is forced to slide or "shear" past the rest of the foam, the foam "thins."
    • It becomes less like honey and more like water, allowing it to flow easily until the shearing stops.
    • Shear thinning occurs in many substances–e.g., ketchup, blood, motor oil, paint, liquid polymers such as molten plastic.
      • Excessive shear thinning of motor oil is unwanted because it reduces the oil’s ability to protect engines from wear,
      • Shear thinning of paint allows it to flow smoothly from the brush but stay put on the wall.
      • It also allows ketchup to flow from the bottle but not drip off your french fries.
    • The inner workings of shear thinning are not fully understood.
    • The first real-world confirmation of a theory for how shear thinning works in a simple fluid has come from an experiment that flew aboard the final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia.
      • Most of the data from the experiment, called Critical Viscosity of Xenon-2 (CVX-2), was beamed down to scientists on the ground before the shuttle’s destruction during reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.
      • CVX-2 was designed to study shear thinning in xenon, a substance used in lamps and ion rocket engines.
      • CVX-2 had to be done in space: Critical-point fluids are easily compressed.
      • To test shear thinning, CVX-2 adjusted the temperature and pressure in a small cylinder to bring xenon to its critical point, and then gently stirred the fluid with a nickel-screen paddle. By measuring how strongly the fluid resisted the movement of this paddle, the experiment could determine the xenon’s thickness.
    • Results nicely matched the predictions of dynamic mode-coupling theory.