Email and Forum Questions Profiles in IT: Anthony M. Fadell BART Wireless Service Cut to Stop Protest The Web Turn 20 IBM PC Turns 30 Perseid Meteor Shower Now Online DARPA Loses Mach 20 Aircraft Black Hat and Defcon USA 2011
Facebook Comments by Cathie Skoog: At the end of the show you were discussing passwords with mobile voicemail (VM). I have Verizon service but since getting my iPhone I have never been prompted for a password when accessing VM; always prompted with previous phone. Went to iPhone settings and nothing to turn on; only change VM password. Would you pls address this? In the meantime I will check it out further (play with phone).
Tech Talk Responds: You phone is storing and sending the VM password. If you use another phone, the password will. You might want to change your VM password. I believe that the Verizon default password is the last four digits of your phone number. No too secure. They assume that you will change it.
Facebook Comment by Cathie Skoog: Years ago it was critical that VM was password protected because a person getting into your VM account could dial out and you could be charged for the calls. I thought that hole was closed up years ago. So, if I get non-sensitive VM messages, why would I care if my VM account is password protected?
Tech Talk Responds: If you don’t mind someone listening to and deleting your voicemails or changing or greeting, then there is not reason to worry about it. Don’t forget if they have access to your VM, they can also set the password so you can’t get it.
Email from Alex: I have been listening to the news about to VM hacking, what about taking over online accounts, like with your healthcare provider or phone provider. Thanks, Alex
Tech Talk Responds: This is also a great problem. Many times people don’t even do the initial setup of their accounts. Sometimes it can be very easy to set up the account without much information. This was also done by some news organization so they could see which numbers were being called. With Verizon you need the billing zip code and the last four digits of the social security number. Some online accounts require even less.
Email from Alice: I have heard so much about Facebook privacy. How can I make certain that I am still protected? Thanks, Alice
Tech Talk Responds: Facebook privacy is a continuing program. Facebook keeps changing the rules as they open their database in order to monetize it. The biggest leak of information is caused by applications which you have given the rights to share your information. To check on your privacy setting, go to Accounts in the upper right corner and select Privacy Preferences. There are three areas: Connecting on Facebook (what visitors can see on your page): Sharing on Facebook (what data you are sharing); Apps and Websites (apps you have given permission to access your data, instant personalization of websites, public search). Keep your settings restricted, but don’t post anything on Facebook you would not want the world to know.
Question from Cameron: I am a student at NVCC Woodbridge campus. I would like to know about transferring to this university. Do they accept courses already taken in different universities? Is there a way I can send transcripts so I can find out how many courses will be accepted? Thank you for your time, Cameron
Tech Talk responds: You can send an email to email@example.com. They can perform a transfer credit analysis. Stratford accepts credits from accredited institutions. Whether the credits apply to a degree depend on how well the degrees match.
Email from Jim: Dear Tech Talk. My daughter is going away to college and needs a laptop. What are your suggestions? Thanks, Jim
Tech Talk Responds: You daughter will be carrying this around the campus and to class. The larger the screen, the heavier the unit and the shorter the battery life. I would recommend getting a screen 15 inches or smaller. Get a large hard drive (at least 500 MB) to accommodate all the other activities she will have (downloaded movies and music). Invest in a larger battery to increase the time between charges so she won’t be tethered to a wall socket. Buy an automatic backup service like Carbonite or Mozy. If her laptop is lost or stolen just before finals, she can get another and restore her work immediately. Laptop theft is the biggest problem at colleges. Finally, make certain to purchase the software at academic pricing (a full version is typically the cost of an upgrade). She will need a student ID to qualify.
Profiles in IT: Anthony M. Fadell
Anthony M. Fadell is best known as the inventor of the Apple iPod.
Anthony M. Fadell was born in 1969 in Detroit.
Born in Detroit, he moved with his family throughout the country, attended eleven schools and as an eight-year old held his first job selling eggs.
Fadell graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI.
He received a BS in Computer Engineering in 1991 from the University of Michigan.
While still at Michigan, he founded Constructive Instruments, which marketed multimedia composition software for children.
In 1992, he started working for Apple spinoff General Magic, starting as a diagnostics engineer and progressing to a systems architect for the Magic Cap PDA platform.
During his three-and-a-half years at General Magic, Fadell lost touch with his family, screwed up his personal relationships, gained 40 pounds and then lost 50.
In 1995 he was hired by Philips where he was co-founder, Chief Technology Officer, and Director of Engineering in the Mobile Computing Group.
As a condition for joining, he demanded that his team be allowed to operate like a startup. The Mobile Computing Group got its own building, with walls painted yellow and purple. There were open cubicles, free soda and fruit.
He calls himself a “studied engineer” and “self-proclaimed designer”. His passion is designing portable devices. He feels limited space forces more creative solutions.
During the 1990s, Fadell started his own company called Fuse. His vision was to become the Dell of the Consumer Electronics.
One of the devices he had in mind was a small hard disk-based music player.
Fuse failed to find a second round of funding and Fadell started exploring options.
He first approached RealNetworks in 2000 but left after only six weeks.
The second company he approached was Apple, where Jobs was very receptive.
He started doing work for Apple from February 2001 as a contractor.
In April 2001 he was hired by Apple to assemble and run its iPod & Special Projects group, where he oversaw the design and production of the iPod and iSight devices.
Tony Fadell partnered with a company called PortalPlayer who had been working on their own MP3 player to design the software for the new Apple player.
Within eight months, Tony Fadell’s team and PortalPlayer completed a prototype iPod and Apple polished the user interface adding the famous scroll wheel.
On October 23, 2001 Apple Computers announced the iPod, created under project codename Dulcimer. The iPod was formally released November 10, 2001.
Fadell was already kept out of the picture – even though he had developed the device from the very beginning, as head of a team of 35 designers and engineers.
Jobs was always the face of the iPod. Jobs was afraid that the competition could steal his best engineers. That’s why no one could interview Fadell
He was promoted to vice president of iPod engineering in 2004.
On March 31, 2006, he was promoted to Senior Vice President of the iPod Division.
As of April 2007, the iPod had sold over 100 million units worldwide. This unit, in combination with iTunes, restored Apple.
On November 4, 2008, Fadell stepped down as Senior Vice President but would remain as an adviser to CEO Steve Jobs.
BART Wireless Service Cut to Stop Protest
Bay Area Rapid Transit, a regional transportation system in the San Francisco area, cut wireless service prior to a planned protest at four downtown San Francisco subway stops.
Activists were responding to a shooting by a BART police officer, but their protest seems never to have materialized because of the disruption of cell service.
BART staff or contractors shut down power to the nodes and alerted the cell carriers.
The ACLU objected saying shutting down access to mobile phones is the wrong response to political protests, whether it’s halfway around the world or right here in San Francisco.
The organization was referencing reports from earlier in the week that rioters in London have been using BlackBerry devices to communicate.
The Web Turn 20
It was August 6, 1991, at a CERN facility in the Swiss Alps, when 36-year-old physicist Tim Berners-Lee published the first-ever website.
It was, not surprisingly, a pretty basic one — according to CERN:
Info.cern.ch was the address of the world’s first-ever web site and web server, running on a NeXT computer at CERN.
Visitors could learn more about hypertext, technical details for creating their own webpage, and even an explanation on how to search the Web for information.
There are no screenshots of this original page and, in any case, changes were made daily to the information available on the page as the WWW project developed.
Of course, the only people who actually had web browser software were Berners-Lee and his colleagues at CERN, so the world at large remained almost entirely ignorant of the momentous event that had just taken place.
Gradually installations of web servers and the use of web browsers spread, but it really wasn’t until 1993, when the Mosaic browser was released, that the technology really achieved serious momentum.
In 1994, Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium (often referred to as “W3C”) at MIT in order to create standards for the web to ensure that different websites would all work the same way.
Berners-Lee, now 56, is still the director of the W3C, in addition to several other positions he holds.
While there are and surely always will be some deviations from the standards by many websites and browsers, it’s not a stretch to say that the web as we know it would probably not exist if not for the W3C’s guidance.
Happy birthday, World Wide Web!
IBM PC Turns 30
On August 12 1981, IBM launched the Personal Computer.
Revealed at a press conference at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, the 21-pound PC cost $1,565, boasted 16K of memory
Now for some quick PC history.
In July of 1980, IBM representatives met for the first time with Microsoft’s Bill Gates to talk about writing an operating system for IBM’s new hush-hush "personal" computer.
IBM had been observing the growing personal computer market for some time. They had already made one attempt to crack the market with their IBM 5100.
At one point, IBM considered buying the game company Atari to commandeer Atari’s early line of personal computers.
However, IBM decided to stick with making their own personal computer line and developed a brand new operating system to go with.
The effort was led by Don Estridge. The secret plans were referred to as "Project Chess". The code name for the new computer was "Acorn". Twelve engineers, led by William C. Lowe, assembled in Boca Raton, Florida, to design and build the "Acorn".
On August 12, 1981, IBM released their new computer, re-named the IBM PC. The "PC" stood for "personal computer" making IBM responsible for popularizing the term "PC".
The first IBM PC ran on a 4.77 MHz Intel 8088 microprocessor. The PC came equipped with 16 kilobytes of memory, expandable to 256k. The PC came with one or two 160k floppy disk drives and an optional color monitor.
The price tag started at $1,565, which would be nearly $4,000 today.
What really made the IBM PC different from previous IBM computers was that it was the first one built from off the shelf parts (called open architecture) and marketed by outside distributors (Sears & Roebucks and Computerland).
The Intel chip was chosen because IBM had already obtained the rights to manufacture the Intel chips.
IBM had used the Intel 8086 for use in its Displaywriter Intelligent Typewriter in exchange for giving Intel the rights to IBM’s bubble memory technology.
While IBM wasn’t the first or only company with a personal computer on the market (the Apple II was launched in 1977), it kick-started the home computing revolution.
A year later, the personal computer was selected as Time Magazine‘s “Man (or rather, Machine) of the Year.
Perseid Meteor Shower Now Online
August’s Perseid meteor shower provides the best opportunity to catch meteor shows,
This year the Internet will let casual observers enjoy the show live online.
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is providing a live video feed of the sky throughout the night.
The webcams, which are light activated, will only show a blank screen during the day, but as night rolls in, the webcams will automatically switch on to give a wide panoramic view of the sky.
In addition to the rooftop-mounted cameras at NASA’s Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., several other camera’s are also available for live viewing:
The Perseids have been observed for at least 2,000 years and are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years. Each year in August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet’s debris.
These bits of ice and dust — most more than 1,000 years old — burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The Perseids can be seen all over the sky, but the best viewing opportunities will be across the northern hemisphere.
The showers are occurring through out this week, but the peak will be Friday night, Aug. 12 and August 13.
DARPA is developing a hypersonic vehicle that can travel across the US in 12 minutes to reach any point on the Earth in 1 hour.
It would travel 20 times the speed of sound (Mach 20) and be launched from a rocket.
If the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s test had gone as planned, Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 would have separated from the rocket it was riding on when it reached the edge of space before hurtling through the atmosphere at 13,000 mph before touching down in the Pacific Ocean.
The test was supposed to take 30 minutes.
But DARPA reported that it "lost telemetry" with the craft even before the halfway mark.
The vehicle did reach about 20 times the speed of sound and collect more than nine minutes’ worth of data before DARPA lost contact with it.
The first test flight also lost telemetry.
Black Hat and Defcon USA 2011
Black Had and DefCon Security Research Conferences were held this week in Las Vegas.
Topics include OS security, TCP/IP security, Smart card security, Cloud security, targeting attacks.
Many presentations are available on the web.
Here are a few of the papers from the conference
The certificate authority system that is so critical to HTTPS/SSL secure website encryption is fatally flawed, has been hacked several times already where certificates were stolen and is generally in need of a major overhaul to fix the lack of true authenticity it is providing today. Authenticity is the thing that keeps us safe from SSL man-in-the-middle attacks.
MAC OSX 10.7 is a must upgrade for those that take security seriously. Many critical improvements, upgrade now.
MAC OSX holds up to Advanced Persistent Threats (ATP) attack. It is better than XP but in a dead heat with Win7.
MAC OSX Server has major security issues and is less secure than Win2008R2.
Apple’s Bonjour file sharing/network discovery protocol has major security weaknesses such as no authentication. Don’t use on untrusted network.
Researcher found that on several consumer Internet router/firewall products when UPNP (universal plug and play) was enabled (usually on by default) it worked on both the inside and OUTSIDE interfaces. That would mean that anyone on the Internet would be able to send your router a UPNP message to reconfigure the security settings of your device to let them in. Disable UPNP.
Apple iOS turns on encryption as soon as you enable a passcode on your device. The complete file system is encrypted. However, as was previously known a simple jailbreak of the phone allows the attacker to decrypt all data.