Email and Forum Questions Profiles in IT: Bjarne Stroustrup Speech Recognition Software Nintendo Celebrates 30 Years of Donkey Kong HTC loses ITC patent ruling in Apple tussle NASA probe headed into orbit around asteroid Space Politics
Email from Robert Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz: I have a question about browser security. I use different browsers from time to time (IE9, Google Chrome) but most of the time I use the latest version of FireFox. This is mainly because this is the only browser that I can use the addon "NoScript" which I really love and which prevents cross-site scripting and clickjacking, among other threats. I was wondering if I really need this add on now that security in browsers has dramatically increased. Does today’s up to date browsers prevent these kind of exploits and am I safe not using NoScript? Thank you for your wonderful podcast. I never miss an episode. Robert Tyler
Tech Talk Responds: Great question. The top two vulnerabilities listed by SANS include
Client-side software that remains unpatched. Waves of targeted email attacks, often called spear phishing, are exploiting client-side vulnerabilities in commonly used programs such as Adobe PDF Reader, QuickTime, Adobe Flash and Microsoft Office. This is currently the primary initial infection vector used to compromise computers that have Internet access. Those same client-side vulnerabilities are exploited by attackers when users visit infected web sites.
Internet-facing web sites that are vulnerable. Attacks against web applications constitute more than 60% of the total attack attempts observed on the Internet. These vulnerabilities are being exploited widely to convert trusted web sites into malicious websites serving content that contains client-side exploits. Web application vulnerabilities such as SQL injection and Cross-Site Scripting flaws in open-source as well as custom-built applications account for more than 80% of the vulnerabilities being discovered.
Email from Minda and Marshall: Not really a question but, a tip for a fellow TechTalk listener. Margaret in Maryland was distraught because her older Boom-boxes could no longer play her CD’s. She felt trapped into having to use iTunes to digitally Rip her CD collection. You gave some excellent advice about getting an iPod and using iTunes to rip her CD’s and create playlists and using a docking station as a more modern "boom box" replacement. This is a great technical solution and would move her into the 21st century.
However, since she was looking for but, unsuccessful in locating a repair shop, indicating she like to stay "old school" if possible – I’d like to suggest instead she subscribe to a local chapter of http://www.freecycle.org/. Free cycle is a group recyclers that have something of value that they want to dispose of but, don’t want to send it to a landfill so they post it on-line so that someone else maybe able to make use of it. I often see CD boom boxes, CRT monitors, and TV’s etc. in my local group.
You may share this on the air if you like but, either way please forward to Margaret in Maryland to give her an alternative to finding a way to play her CD’s without digitally transferring them and perhaps even finding some new ones. Thank you for your excellent program and research! Minda and Marshall
Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the feedback. That looks like a great resource.
Email from James Messick: Is the chatroom running? Thanks, James Messick, Kernerville, NC.
Tech Talk Responds: It have not had the chatroom running for the last couple of months. We have switched over to Facebook. We will monitor the Facebook account during the show to check for comments.
Profiles in IT: Bjarne Stroustrup
Bjarne Stroustrup is best known as the creator and developer of the C++ programming language.
Bjarne Stroustrup was born December 30, 1950 in Arhus, Denmark.
The son of an upholsterer and a secretary, Stroustrup was born and grew up in the coastal city of Aarhus in Denmark.
Stroustrup has a master’s degree in mathematics and computer science in 1975 from the University of Aarhus, Denmark
While pursuing his degree, he did contract programming for Aarhus businesses: accounting, payroll, billing, mortgage calculation.
By the time Stroustrup had earned his degree, more than one in four mortgages in Denmark were being calculated using his software.
In 1979, Stroustrup earned a PhD in the Computing Laboratory at Cambridge University, studying under David Wheeler and focusing on the design of distributed systems. He was a student at Churchill College.
In 1979 Stroustrup moved to the United States to work at the Computer Science Research Center of Bell Telephone Labs.
He began work on what would become C++ in the same year that he joined Bell Labs.
It began as a natural extension of his PhD work in distributed systems, as a project to distribute UNIX over a network of small computers.
Stroustrup set out to develop some tools to help the project and he found the tools more interesting than the project.
The tools turned into "C with Classes," which later became known as "C++."
C++ was used internally in AT&T in 1983 and the name was settled on in that year.
But when he created his language, he based it on C, the most practical, efficient, and American of languages, adding to C the concept of classes that he admired in Simula.
The first commercial implementation was released in 1985, the year of the graphical user interface, the year that Microsoft delivered Windows 1.0.
It was the right time to introduce a practical class-based programming language.
He took an active role in the creation of the ANSI/ISO standard for the language, and continues to work on the maintenance and revision of that standard.
He stayed with Bell through the 1984 breakup of the Bell system and the 1995 breakup of AT&T
He joined AT&T Bell Labs, the part of Bell Labs that AT&T kept, where he headed the Labs’ Large-Scale Programming Research Department.
In 2002 he joined the computer science department of Texas A&M University.
He continues to work on programming tools, techniques, and.
Stroustrup also wrote what many consider to be the standard text for the language, The C++ Programming Language, which is now in its third edition.
Stroustrup was elected member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2004.
He is an AT&T Fellow and a Bell Laboratories Fellow, an ACM Fellow and an IEEE Fellow, and a recipient of the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award.
Byte magazine as one of the 20 most influential people in the computer industry in the last 20 years.
Speech Recognition Software
The best on the market is still Dragon Naturally Speak 11.5
Dragon Dictate for Mac ($199) is a complete voice recognition solution for all types of applications
MacSpeech Scribe for Mac ($149) will transcribe an audio file.
Dragon Premium for PC ($199) includes business apps and social media.
Dragon Home for PC ($99) includes a reduced set of applications
Dragon Systems was founded in 1982 by James and Janet Baker to commercialize speech recognition technology.
As graduate students at Rockefeller University in 1970, they became interested in speech recognition while observing waveforms of speech on an oscilloscope.
Rockefeller had neither experts in speech understanding nor suitable computing power, and so the Bakers moved to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), a prime contractor for DARPA’s Speech Understanding Research program.
There they began to work on natural speech recognition capabilities. Their approach differed from that of other speech researchers.
The Bakers’ approach was based purely on statistical relationships, such as the probability that any two or three words would appear one after another.
Their approach soon began outperforming competing systems.
After receiving their doctorates from CMU in 1975, the Bakers joined IBM.
The Bakers developed a program that could recognize speech from a 1,000-word vocabulary, but it could not do so in real time.
They left in 1979 to join Exxon’s Verbex Voice Systems, which had built a system for collecting data over the telephone using spoken digits.
Less than 3 years later, however, Exxon exited the speech recognition business.
In 1982, the Bakers decided to start their own company, Dragon Systems.
Dragon received a series of DARPA contract from 1986 through 1991.
In July 1997, Dragon had launched Dragon NaturallySpeaking, a continuous speech & voice recognition program for general-purpose use with a vocabulary of 23,000 words for use on the PC.
The package won rave reviews and numerous awards.
IBM quickly followed suit and offered IBM ViaVoice, but Dragon prevailed in the marketplace.
In 2000, Lernout & Hauspie acquired Dragon Systems.
In 2001, Scansoft, Inc. acquired all rights to Lernout & Hauspie’s speech recognition products including Dragon Naturally Speaking.
In 2003, Scansoft, Inc. acquired Speechworks, and the company changed their name to Nuance in 2005.
Nintendo Celebrates 30 Years of Donkey Kong
This week Nintendo celebrates three decades of the game that saved Nintendo of America from bankruptcy.
When Nintendo launched Donkey Kong in 1981, the company was struggling.
Nintendo’s previous titles had failed to catch on with consumers, so Nintendo pegged game designer Shigeru Miyamoto to convert a popular Japanese game called RadarScope into something that would have greater appeal to Americans.
The result was a game called Donkey Kong.
After successfully testing the arcade game in two bars in the Seattle area, Nintendo released the game nationwide, though there are conflicting reports about its exact launch date
In Donkey Kong, Jumpman, who was later designated to be the Nintendo character Mario, must navigate different structures, battling a gorilla who lobs barrels and other obstacles at him in order to rescue the lady Pauline.
Donkey Kong is arguably one of the first games that featured a story that developed onscreen.
Miyamoto went on to design several popular games, including Mario, a franchise that celebrated its 25th birthday last December.
He’s also behind such titles as The Legend of Zelda and Star Fox, among others.
The success of Donkey Kong has spawned the sequels Donkey Kong Jr. and Donkey Kong 3, and prompted the creation of different versions for various Nintendo consoles like the Game Boy, Nintendo 64, the Wii, and others.
In its 30 years, Donkey Kong has become a part of American pop culture; accordingly Nintendo trademarked the phrase "It’s on like Donkey Kong" in November 2010.
Donkey Kong has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.
HTC loses ITC patent ruling in Apple tussle
A judge at the U.S. International Trade Commission has made an initial determination that HTC infringed two Apple patents.
If the judgment is made final, HTC could be banned from importing phones to the U.S.
It’s the latest set back for Google’s Android operating system, which is being attacked by competitors including Apple, Microsoft and Oracle.
The initial determination will now be reviewed by a larger panel of ITC judges, who can uphold or reject it.
The two patents appear to be fundamental to Android. They are very likely to be infringed by code that is at the core of Android."
Apple could choose to license the technology to HTC, but Mueller thinks Apple won’t do so unless HTC has patents that Apple needs in return.
Friday’s ruling responds to one of two ITC complaints filed against HTC by Apple. HTC has also filed its own ITC complaint against Apple.
Apple filed suit on 10 of its patents against HTC, but based on the judge’s initial decision today only prevailed on 2 of those patents.
HTC will fight these two remaining patents through an appeal before the ITC Commissioners who make the final decision
HTC also noted that the ITC has ruled that Apple infringed patents assigned to S3Graphics, a company HTC is in the process of acquiring.
Android is being attacked from other sources as well.
Microsoft appears to have been approaching Android handset makers requesting that they license its technology.
HTC is one of the biggest vendors to have complied so far.
Oracle is battling Google for allegedly infringing Oracle’s Java patents and copyrights in Android.
NASA probe headed into orbit around asteroid
A robotic NASA science probe was scheduled to move into orbit around the asteroid Vesta today, July 16th, and begin a yearlong study of the second largest object in the asteroid belt.
NASA expects to hear back from its Dawn spacecraft Sunday to learn if the maneuver, which took place about 117 million miles from Earth, was successful.
Dawn was launched in 2007, the first stop in a $466 million quest to learn more about how the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago.
Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres, the second object in Dawn’s voyage, are two of the largest surviving protoplanets – rocky bodies that nearly had enough mass to become full-fledged planets – in solar system. Both reside in the main asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter.
With its iron core and possible lava flows, scientists believe Vesta is more similar to Earth or the moon than most of its other asteroid neighbors.
Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt, is relatively close to Vesta, but it formed under vastly different circumstances. The so-called dwarf planet more closely resembles the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn.
Ceres has water-bearing minerals and possibly a weak atmosphere.
The goal of the Dawn mission is to collect enough information about Vesta and Ceres to understand conditions and processes of the early solar system.
The spacecraft has three scientific instruments to study surface features and determine chemical composition.
Dawn, however, is the first probe to go into orbit around an asteroid for a long-term study. It also would be the first spacecraft to rendezvous with more than one object in the solar system, a feat made possible by what is known as an ion propulsion system.
Rather than chemical rocket thrusters, Dawn’s engines work by pumping electrically charged ions of xenon gas through an electric field, which accelerates the particles and prepares them for an 89,000 mph (142,400 kph) escape into space.
The force of the expelled gas causes the spacecraft to move in the opposite direction.
The motion, which is about equal to the pressure of a sheet of notebook paper on the palm of your hand, is so gentle it would be useless on Earth.
But in space, where there is no counteracting gravitational force, momentum builds up over time.
Dawn traveled 1.7 billion miles (2.8 billion km) to reach Vesta. It is expected to depart in July 2012 to begin the three-year, 930 million mile (1.5 billion km) trek to Ceres. The mission at Ceres is expected to last six months.
Government versus private sector LEO exploitation
Private sector may be more effective at commercializing this sector
Space tourism, communications satellite launches
International space station versus space colonies
Manned exploration will require colonization
First of moon, then mars, then beyond
Main limitation is distance to travel.
Colonies will provide a source of rich resources to be mined
IIS drained money away from this development and kept us LEO
Manned versus unmanned exploration
Robotic vehicles are the best way to explore distant planets
Most astronauts can only envision manned space flight since they have a fighter pilot background.
Exploration does not need men because of the distance (colonization does)
Current budget cuts could be devastating to our space initiatives
Cancelling the shuttle should allow redistribution of resources