Best of Tech Talk Edition Email and Forum Questions Profiles in IT: Azim Premji The Great Data Warehouse Debate Data warehouses versus operational systems Social Media Users Getting Older Hackers accidentally give Microsoft their code The iPad is killing laptop sales Pigeons Win Broadband Race Einstein's Theory is Proved Again
Email from Andria: Dear Tech Talk. I was on Craigslist and chatted with someone about meeting. I changed my mind and now he is bothering me via email. He only knows my email address. Can he locate me? What should I do? Thanks Andria
Tech Talk Answers: The short answer is that yes, it’s quite possible you could be found by just your email address. It depends on how you have used your email address on the web before. If you have entered an personal information along with your email address in a public forum, it is probably traceable. The best thing to do is to search for your email address using Google to discover any linkages.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Profiles in IT: Azim Premji
Azim Premji is Chairman of Wipro, one of the largest software companies in India and considered to be the IBM of India
Azim Premji was born July 24, 1945 in Mumbai, India.
His father, M. H. Premji, was a Muslim and a businessman in Mumbai.
He completed his high school education at St. Mary’s School in Mumbai and entered Stanford University in electrical engineering.
Premji was forced to leave Stanford after completing his BSEE at the age of 21 to take over the family business when his father suddenly died in 1966.
The family business was the Western India Vegetable Product Company (later known as Wipro Ltd.) which made hydrogenated vegetable oils and fats.
Azim repositioned Wipro into a consumer goods company that produced hydrogenated cooking oils/fat company, laundry soap, wax and tin containers.
In 1975, he set up Wipro Fluid Power to manufacture hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders
In 1977, when IBM was asked to leave India, Wipro entered the IT sector.
In 1981, Wipro began selling computers becoming India first computer maker.
Wipro subsequently developed the first Indian 8086 chip.
In the 80s, Wipro developed customized software for hardware customers.
In the 90s, Wipro moved off shore, particularly into the US.
Wipro expanded into IT Services, R&D Services, Technology Infrastructure Services, and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).
Wipro’s Technology Infrastructure Services (TIS) is the largest Indian IT infrastructure service provider in terms of revenue, people and customers with more than 200 customers in US, Europe, Japan and over 650 in India.
Wipro provides business process outsourcing services in areas Finance & Accounting, Procurement, HR Services, Loyalty Services and Knowledge Services.
In 2002, Wipro acquired Spectramind and became one of the largest BPO service players.
Premji is known for his modesty and frugality in spite of his wealth. He drives a Toyota Corolla and flies economy class
He prefers to stay in company guest houses rather than luxury hotels.
Premji has been recognized by Business Week as one of the Greatest Entrepreneurs of All Time for his vision and leadership at Wipro.
He set up the Azim Premji Foundation. Azim Premji Foundation says it "dedicates itself to the cause of Universalization of Elementary Education in India".
Two weeks ago, in accepting a lifetime achievement award, he said, ldblquote Build your organisation that is grounded on values and practice these values on a ‘no exception’ basis. Integrity is the biggest value.rdblquote
Premji is married to Yasmeen. The couple has two children.
He is a member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee for IT in India.
Azim Premji was rated the richest person in the country from 1999 to 2005.
His wealth in 2006 was estimated at US$14.8 Billion (fifth richest Indian).
The Great Data Warehouse Debate
Bill Inmon’s top-down paradigm
Data warehouse is one part of the overall business intelligence system.
An enterprise has one data warehouse, and data marts source their information from the data warehouse.
In the Inmon vision the data warehouse is at the center of the "Corporate Information Factory" (CIF), which provides a logical framework for delivering business intelligence (BI) and business management capabilities.
Inmon favors information to be stored in 3rd normal form. This data structure is very efficient but difficult for the end user to access.
The main disadvantage to the top-down methodology is that it represents a very large project with a very broad scope.
The up-front cost for implementing a data warehouse using the top-down methodology is significant.
Ralph Kimball’s bottom-up paradigm
Data warehouse is the conglomerate of all data marts within the enterprise. Information is always stored in the dimensional model (Sales, Production, Marketing).
Kimball favors star schemas (denormalized) design. This data structure is easier for the end user to access.
Kimball model also proposes the data warehouse bus architecture to connect the department-centric data marts.
Maintaining tight management over the data warehouse bus architecture is fundamental to maintaining the integrity of the data warehouse.
Business value can be returned as quickly as the first data marts can be created.
There is no right or wrong between these two ideas, as they represent different data warehousing philosophies.
In reality, the data warehouses in most enterprises are closer to Ralph Kimball’s idea.
Most data warehouses started out as a departmental effort, and hence they originated as a data mart.
Over time it has become apparent to proponents of bottom-up and top-down data warehouse design that both methodologies have benefits and risks.
Hybrid methodologies have evolved to take advantage of the fast turn-around time of bottom-up design and the enterprise-wide data consistency of top-down design.
Data warehouses versus operational systems
Operational systems are optimized for preservation of data integrity and speed of recording of business transactions through use of database normalization and an entity-relationship model.
Operational system designers generally follow the Codd rules of database normalization in order to ensure data integrity.
Codd defined five increasingly stringent rules of normalization. Fully normalized database designs (that is, those satisfying all five Codd rules) often result in information from a business transaction being stored in dozens to hundreds of tables.
Relational databases are efficient at managing the relationships between these tables.
Data warehouses are optimized for speed of data analysis.
Frequently data in data warehouses are denormalised via a dimension-based model.
Also, to speed data retrieval, data warehouse data are often stored multiple times—in their most granular form and in summarized forms called aggregates.
Data warehouse data are gathered from the operational systems and held in the data warehouse even after the data has been purged from the operational systems.
Social Media Users Getting Older
Social media users 50 and older are now the fastest-growing demographic among Internet users, a recent Pew study showed.
In the last year, social networking among 50-plus Internet users nearly doubled — from 25 percent to 47 percent, according to the Pew study.
That’s compared with an increase of 10 percentage points among Internet users 18-29 years old, whose membership level is now at 86 percent.
The Troy (Mich.) Senior Computer Learning Center has seen increased demand this year as digital holdouts face pressure from family and friends to make the leap.
If they want to know what’s going on in their grandkids’ lives, they have to text or log on to Facebook.
Some also express concerns over infringing on their children’s personal lives. For some, friending their child or grandchild is akin to snooping.
Privacy controls do allow users to decide which groups of friends see what information. Kids can choose to have certain updates kept from their parents and vice versa.
People who are not on sites like Facebook can feel excluded from the sharing of family news and photos.
Hackers accidentally give Microsoft their code
When hackers crash their systems while developing viruses, the code is often sent directly to Microsoft, according to one of its senior security architects, Rocky Heckman.
When the hacker’s system crashes in Windows, as with all typical Windows crashes, Heckman said the user would be prompted to send the error details — including the malicious code — to Microsoft.
The funny thing is that many say yes, according to Heckman.
"People have sent us their virus code when they’re trying to develop their virus and they keep crashing their systems," Heckman said. "It’s amazing how much stuff we get."
At a Microsoft Tech.Ed 2010 conference session on hacking today, Heckman detailed to the delegates the top five hacking methods and the best methods for developers to avoid falling victim to them.
According to Heckman, based on the number of attacks on Microsoft’s website, the company was only too familiar with what types of attacks were most popular.
"The first thing [script kiddies] do is fire off all these attacks at Microsoft.com," he said. "On average we get attacked between 7000 and 9000 times per second at Microsoft.com," said the senior security architect.
Heckman said there were two reasons why the top hacking methods of cross-site scripting and SQL injection had not changed in the past six years.
"One, it tells me that the bad guys go with what they know, and two, it says the developers aren’t listening," he said.
Heckman said that developers should consider all data input by a user as harmful until proven otherwise.
The iPad is killing laptop sales
iPad sales are slashing laptop sales by as much as 50 per cent, according to the Best Buy.
Brian Dunn said internal research showed half of potential laptop buyers had chosen an iPad instead of a traditional laptop.
Dunn told the Wall Street Journal that internal estimates revealed iPad sales "had cannibalized sales from laptop PCs by as much as 50%".
Best Buy projects that iPads, Kindles and motion-sensing game add-ons from Sony and Microsoft will be the big sellers for Christmas.
Pigeons Win Broadband Race
Broadband is the most modern of communication means, while carrier pigeons date back to Roman times.
Ten USB key-laden pigeons were released from a Yorkshire farm at the same time a five-minute video upload was begun.
An hour and a quarter later, the pigeons had reached their destination in Skegness 120km away, while only 24% of a 300MB file had uploaded.
Campaigners say the stunt was being carried out to illustrate that broadband in some parts of the UK is still "not fit for purpose".
It is not the first time that such a race has taken place. Last year a similar experiment in Durban, South Africa saw Winston the pigeon take two hours to finish a 96km journey. In the same time just 4% of a 4GB file had downloaded.
The pigeons are expected to complete a 120km journey to Skegness in around two hours, but Tref Davies, who is organising the stunt to give publicity to the campaign for better rural broadband, said the broadband connection will take significantly longer to transfer the 300MB file.
Einstein’s Theory is Proved Again
Now scientists have demonstrated the true nature of Einstein’s theory for the first time with an incredibly accurate atomic clock that is able to keep time to within one second in about 3.7 billion years – roughly the same length of time that life has existed on Earth.
James Chin-Wen Chou and his colleagues from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, found that when they monitored two such clocks positioned just a foot apart in height above sea level, they found that time really does run more quickly the higher you are – just has Einstein predicted.
The atomic clocks used in the study are based on the tiny vibrations of aluminium atoms trapped in an electric field. These vibrations are in the same frequency range of ultraviolet light, detected by lasers, which effectively means that the atomic timepieces are optical clocks, accurate enough to measure billionths of a second and to keep time accurately over millions of years.
It means that the clocks were able to perceive the dilation of time with height above ground that was first predicted by Einstein. For every foot above ground, for instance, the clocks showed that someone would age about 90 billionths of a second faster over a 79-year lifetime, Dr Chou said.
This is a practical demonstration of the "twin paradox", a thought experiment of Einstein’s special theory of relativity which states that an identical twin sibling who travels through space in a rocket will actually age more slowly than the other twin living on terra firma.