Show of 5-14-2011

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Lauren: Dear Dr. Richard Shurtz, Friday afternoon, after a long, stressful week with a lot of deadlines somehow I lost a WORD ’07 file. I had always understood that WORD ’07 was automatically backing up a WORD document as you worked. I’ll now have to rebuild this doc over this weekend. What is my best self-support I can create on my desktop to ENSURE my word docs are being backed up as I write them? I’ll likely also email myself any doc I complete upon its completion from now on.
    • Also, when a subject matter expert sends me a WORD document as an email attachment and that doc is one I’d sent him first and he made some editing changes, when I click on it to start making the updating changes, Outlook asks me when I close his email if I want to save the changes. I remember saying yes, yet, I believe I never saved it beyond that…I went back and looked at the doc he’d sent as an email attachment and it did not contain my new work. I just don’t know how this happened. Thanks MUCH, Lauren
    • Tech Talk Responds: I suspect you have a document management problem. Configure your word program to save all documents in the particular subdirectory. It is usually named Documents. Many times people save the document inadvertently to another subdirectory and then cannot find it. If you have lost a document you might use the search tool and search for a unique word sequence within the document to locate it. Word should save automatically at preset intervals. You can adjust the auto save interval. It is normally set to 10 minutes. Go to Tools/Option/Save Tab to set this. To set the default subdirectory, go to Tools/Options/File Location Tab.
    • As for saving an email attachment. When you open an email attachment, it is saved in a temporary folder (not the Documents folder). All the changes you make and save are in this temp folder. If you want to edit an attachment, first save it in the Documents folders, edit it, and then attach the edited file to a new email. If you simply open the old email, you will see the unaltered file opened again into another temporary subdirectory.
    • Email from Arnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz, I read recently that a technology called OLED is going to make big changes in TV market – taking much away from plasma, LED, and LCD TV’s hanging on walls in homes. It’s supposed to be a green technology as well and may have advantages over existing technology. LGD, a Korean company, expects to have OLED TV’s out in 2013. Would you explain what OLED is all about and how it will affect future technology and how OLED can be used in other electronic devices? It’s possible physics has something to do with it. Many thanks, Arnie McKechnie, Davidsonville, MD
    • Tech Talk Responds: OLED is Organic Light Emitting Diode. It is an electroluminescent polymer diode. The first diode device was reported at Eastman Kodak by Ching W. Tang and Steven Van Slyke in 1987.Research into polymer electroluminescence culminated in 1990 with J. H. Burroughes et al. at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge reporting a high efficiency green light-emitting polymer based device using 100 nm thick films of poly(p-phenylene vinylene).
    • Each pixel has a three OLED color to produce the display. OLED has a wide FOV, faster response time, higher contrast ratio than LCD. However, it has a shorter lifetime and is currently more expensive to produce. As production lines ramp up this should change. The technology is easily scalable to larger displays. OLED have larger pixels than LCD and hence are not favored for computer screens at this time.
    • Email from Ron: Dear Dr. Shurtz, I know you have a fondness for the latest and greatest, but today I hope you can help me with a question about the oldest and coldest. My concern is backward compatibility if and when my very small business finally replaces our old reliable 2004 XP Dell desktop PC with a new Windows 7 desktop. When we switch to a new PC, can we still keep running our old business software and hardware? We want to run Lotus 1-2-3 v. 9.8 and Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.1.1, which work perfectly in Windows XP but we are told will not run in Windows 7. We could use a dual boot arrangement, but that is cumbersome. Is there a better way?
    • We also have a a heavy-duty HP LaserJet 5M printer with only serial and parallel connections, which apparently are not offered on new PCs. For the legacy hardware, is it possible to use an external adapter or internal card to connect a USB or eSATA port on the new PC to a serial or parallel port on the old printer? And if so, will the old XP drivers still work with that setup?
    • Thanks again for your always-wise advice, even to us aging throwbacks who stubbornly try to resist planned obsolescence. –Ron
    • Tech Talk Responds: You are in luck. Windows 7 supports an XP Mode as a Virtual PC. Just download this extension and you can run all of your legacy applications. A dual boot will not be required. Just Google “Download Windows XP Mode” to get to the download page. As for using your parallel port printer. You can install a parallel port card in your printer. You will use the Windows 7 drivers for the printer because they will be supporting the virtual PC. You can also get a Wi-Fi print server with a parallel port and simply print to the network. This may be a preferred solution so you can use the same printer for many computers. The downside is that these print servers are expensive (80 to $100).
    • Email from LedbyBrain: Dear Dr. Richard Shurtz, Can you help educate me. If a book is Not full text in Google books, is there a way to print out what is available? All I can figure out is doing a screen capture/print which is really slow going. Thanks, LedbyBrain
    • Tech Talk Responds: Google Books is a way to explore and read a wide range of books. In many cases, you can read the entire book for free. Other services allow you to read only a few pages before you are required to purchase the book online. Google Books restricts printing from its database, but there’s a way around that restriction. Unfortunately, all methods only allow one page at a time to be printed as a screen shot. You can speed this up by using screen capture software. This is a Google restriction meant to enforce copyrights.
    • Facebook Posting from MaxMinn: Dr. Shurtz- Jim’s question about iTunes was informative. As a new Verizon iPhone user, I didn’t realize Apple had those restrictions on their music files. I wonder that if they go to the cloud for storage, like Amazon just did, if that will have any affect on their restricitions. I’ve always used Amazon to buy mp3 music, but I’ve considered switching to iTunes since when I buy music(mp3’s) from them, it automatically appears on my iPhone. Although, I had no problems dragging and dropping my Amazon mp3’s onto my iPhone, thru iTunes (on my W7 desktop). It’d be less of a quandary, if Amazon were to create, and Apple would allow, and iPhone app for that. Thanks for your insight. MaxMinn
    • Tech Talk Responds: Apple will never let a competitive app on the iPhone. iTunes is their cash cow. Always make certain that you purchase MP3s without DRM encryption. Then they will be portable between different devices. I don’t like iTunes because it imposes controls that are difficult to manage.
    • Email from Arnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz. From this article it looks like schools like Stratford are helping the foreign IT competition overseas. The article is titled: Tech Talents from India, other Countries, leaving Silicon Valley. Comment during Techtalk? Arnie McKechnie, Davidsonville, MD
      • At a time when the U.S. could use all the tech jobs it can get, Kunal Bahl is creating hundreds of them — in India.
      • The rub is he wanted to stay in the U.S. and build a company here, but visa issues forced him to leave and start SnapDeal in his native country. Four hundred employees later, he’s ready to take on Groupon. The numbers speak for themselves: SnapDeal, with $20 million in annual revenue, is on pace to top $100 million next year, he boasts. It is hiring 70 people a month.
      • What’s happening is the nation is experiencing a brain drain.
    • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for teeing up my soapbox. The US has been making several strategic errors which are destroying our innovation ecosystem. We are restricting the labor pool so that the talent is leaving. Capping H1B visas and restricting the number of F-1 visas approved is driving the very talent that we need away. Our tax base makes other countries more favorable for risky startups. The recent anti-business attitude has had a chilling effect on innovation.
  • Profiles in IT: Hakon Wium Lie
    • Hakon Wium Lie is web standard pioneer and creator of Cascading Style Sheets
    • Håkon Wium Lie was born 1965 in Halden, Norway.
    • In 1987 he receives a BS in Computer Science from West Georgia College.
    • From 1987 to 1988 he worked on the OECD Halden Reactor Project.
    • From 1988 to 1989 he worked at Norwegian Telecom Research.
    • He enrolled in MIT Media Lab in 1989 and received an MS Visual Studies in 1991.
    • From 1991 to 1994, he was a research scientist at Norwegian Telecom Research, multimedia group.
    • From 1994 to 1995, he was Scientific Associate at CERN, the birthplace of the web.
    • He proposed the concept of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) while working with Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau at CERN in 1994.
    • From 1995 to 1996 he worked at World Wide Web Consortium (W3C),
    • As an employee at W3C, he developed CSS into a W3C Recommendation with Bert Bos.
    • CSS is one of the fundamental web standards, with profound impact on typography, aesthetics, and accessibility on the web.
    • As a testbed, he integrated CSS into the Arena web browser.
    • He proposed the Acid2 test which was later developed and published by the Web Standards Project.
    • In 1999, he became CTO at Opera Software, Oslo, Norway. His goal is to make better and faster than other browsers.
    • In 2006, he finished his PhD at the University of Oslo.
    • His PhD dealt with the origins and a rationale behind the CSS standard.
    • Along with his work on the CSS specifications, Wium Lie has been an activist for standards in general.
    • Wium Lie has targeted Microsoft’s Internet Explorer due to its poor support for standards and argued against the use of formatting objects on the web.
    • In 2006, Wium Lie started campaigning for browsers to support downloadable web fonts using common font formats.
    • As of 2009, all major browsers except IE have implemented web fonts this way.
    • Likewise, in 2007, Wium Lie started campaigning for the video element to make it easier to publish video on the web.
    • Wium Lie has also promoted the concept of printing from the web.
    • His book on CSS, authored with Bert Bos, was produced from HTML and CSS files.
    • These files were then converted to PDF by the Prince XML formatter.
    • He listens to classical music and likes to design and make furniture.
    • He has designed a table, some lamps, a shelf, a bathtub, and a sled.
    • He plays with kites in all seasons and drives an electric car.
    • His long term project is to build a pipe organ.
    • His is not driven my money. He wants to improve the web through standards.
    • He observes two seasonal rituals to overcome fear: in the summer he jumps into water from 10 meters, and in the winter he races down mountains on a snowboard.
    • Personal webpage: http://people.opera.com/howcome/
  • Costa Rica Employment Strategy
    • Costa Rica was able to transition from a mainly coffee/banana-exporting nation to one where Intel was enticed to build a plant.
    • Unemployment is varies from 4 to 7% depending on the season.
    • Costa Rica abolished its standing army in 1949 and poured that money into education and health care.
    • The Costa Rican Government showed Intel that it was serious about business and did so by changing its priorities.
    • Due to rapid implementation by the Government, Intel invested US$300 million to build its factory, created 2,000 direct jobs and over 2,500 indirect jobs by purchasing from local suppliers.
    • What did Costa Rica do?
      • Upgrade the labor force via a one-year certificate program and one-year associate degree focused on semi-conductor manufacturing and microelectronics.
      • Higher quality of technical curricula in advanced microelectronics.
      • Revised Free Zone law, including how to establish Free Zone operations outside of an established Free Zone park and the addition of a re-investment benefit.
      • Exemption, and eventual elimination of the one per cent capital tax for all companies.
      • Fast-tracking of permits and simplifying the process to set up a business.
      • Approval of the Public Concessions Law to allow for private investors, national and foreign, to participate in the construction and operation of public works, such as roads, ports, etc.
      • Higher quality power, even during thunderstorms, due to power quality equipment and techniques taught by Intel to power supplier.
      • 100% exemption on import duties on materials.
      • 100% per cent exemption on taxes for 8 years, and 50% for next 4 years.
    • Costa Rica set up fiber optic ring for Internet access and GSM cell phone infrastructure.
  • Last Typewriter Factory in the World Shuts Its Doors
    • I did my PhD dissertation on a Selectric Erasable Typewriter. We still have an old Royal typewriter in the basement.
    • That era is now ending.
    • With only about 200 machines left — and most of those in Arabic languages — Godrej and Boyce shut down its plant in Mumbai, India, last month.
    • From the early 2000s onwards, computers started dominating. All the manufacturers of office typewriters stopped production, except Godrej and Boyce.
    • Until 2009, they produced 10,000 to 12,000 machines a year. Their primary market is among the defense agencies, courts and government offices."
    • Godrej and Boyce has been around for about 60 years now, having opened in a time when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru celebrated the typewriter as a "symbol of India’s emerging independence and industrialization."
    • For decades, the company was producing — and selling — tens of thousands of units annually. It the early 1990s, the Daily Mail points out, it was still able to sell 50,000 machines.
    •  In less than 20 years, though, that number dropped to fewer than 800. There’s still a market, albeit a (very) small one. And we’re not enough to sustain an industry.
  • Microsoft Purchases Skype for $8.5B
    • Microsoft announced on May 10 that it bought Skype, an Internet communications vendor, for $8.5 billion.
    • Instead of trying to mash Skype into an existing Microsoft business division, the company has decided to create a new, separate Skype business division, with Skype CEO Tony Bates as President.
    • Bates will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
    • In its press release announcing the deal, Microsoft played up the potential synergies between Skype and its own communications offerings, including its Lync VOIP platform, Outlook mail, Messenger instant-messaging, Hotmail Web mail and Xbox Live gaming service.
    • Skype will support Microsoft devices like Xbox and Kinect, Windows Phone and a wide array of Windows devices, and Microsoft will connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities. Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms,” said the release.
    • Microsoft offered no timetable or further details as to when and how it will make Skype available as part of any of its existing product offerings.
    • According to earlier reports, Microsoft was bidding against Google and Facebook for Skype.
    • This is Microsoft’s largest acquisition (dollar-wise) in the history of the company.
    • The big winner is the Skype developers, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. They sold to eBay (keeping the key technology) and then bought it back for a song. Now they has sold out big to MS, getting two paydays for the same company.
    • This technology is built of Kazaa peering technology and is not compatible with MS server centric software.
    • MS paid too much for a product that they will not be able to leverage.
    • Skype customers will not necessary like to become MS customers.
  • Sony Gives Few Details on Security Breach
    • Sony hasn’t provided the public any significant update about the status of the PlayStation Network outage or investigation into the security breach in a week.
    • It turns out its video game publisher partners aren’t getting much more new information either.
    • Sony has already posted on its PlayStation blog and written in e-mails to the 77 million users whose information was exposed in a cyberattack more than three weeks ago.
    • Sony had told us that the intrusion on its network took place between April 17 and 19.
    • But the letter notes that it wasn’t until several PSN servers "unexpectedly rebooted themselves" that the company was alerted there might have been a problem.
    • Dyer also says that while the company thought the unusual network activity was limited to four servers, further inspection revealed it stretched to a total of 10 servers. At that point, all PSN servers were shut down.
    • In the course of the investigation of the attack, Sony found that after the hackers were inside Sony’s system, they managed to "hide their presence from system administrators and escalate privileges inside the servers."
    • They then were able to delete the log files that would have shown exactly what they did while having access to PSN servers.
    • The hackers who gained access to sensitive data for 77 million subscribers using Amazon’s web services cloud to launch the attack, Bloomberg News reported.
    • The attackers rented a sever from Amazon’s EC2 service and penetrated the network from there. The hackers supplied fake information to Amazon. The account has now been closed.
    • The most recent update on PSN from Sony came Tuesday, when they said the network would be restored in "a few more days." Sony has not elaborated on what "a few" means.
    • PlayStation 3 customers are getting impatient. As the PSN outage has stretched on, retail trade-ins of the gaming console for cash or Microsoft XBox 360 are on the rise.
  • Osama Bin Ladens Sneakernet
    • Although bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan lacked phone and Internet connectivity, the al Qaeda leader used his computers to prepare messages and save them on flash drives, which would be passed to a courier.
    • The courier would head to a far-away Internet cafe, send the outgoing messages, retrieve the incoming ones, and then return to Abbottabad with the responses.
    • That physical couriering of data, or sneakernet, helped bin Laden to evade U.S. intelligence agencies, especially the National Security Agency, which specializes in intercepting radio and other communications.
    • The electronic gear hauled away by an assault team of Navy SEALs reportedly included five computers, 10 hard drives, and scores of removable media including USB sticks and DVDs.
    • Some reports say the forensic analysis is taking place at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Va., while others have placed it at a "secret location in Afghanistan."
  • Google Chromebook
    • The Chromebook, touted as an always-on and always-connected computing experience, will be offered by Samsung and Acer starting June 15.
    • The Samsung Chromebook will go for $429 in the U.S. for the Wi-Fi only version and $499 for the 3G version. Acer’s Wi-Fi only Chromebook will cost $349.
    • The devices will be sold in the U.S. by Amazon.com and Best Buy.
    • Google will also be selling Chromebooks internationally in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands.
    • Though the Chromebooks look as if they’re pitted against inexpensive Netbooks and even possibly new tablet PCs, the pricing seems expensive given that the devices leverage only Web apps from Google’s cloud services.
    • No real software is running on the devices.