Show of 10-1-2011

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Robert Taylor: Hey Doc, glad to see you back from overseas safely! I noticed last week you mentioned the Chief of Police from Texas as being Robert Tyler. While he asked you the question, I am the Chief! At least from Amarillo anyway. By the way, I just updated my windows 7 phone to the new Mango version. I think it is an improvement and really like the new windows phone 7. It is hard to believe that Windows Phones are not selling very well as it is a terrific phone and I know David Byrd would be happy with it. He ought to give it a try. Robert Taylor, Amarillo, Texas, Still the Chief
    • Tech Talk Responds: Sorry for the confusion between Robert Tyler and Robert Taylor.
    • Email from Greg: Hello, I listen to the pod cast via iTunes and have been listening for the past 3 years. I am considering purchasing the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Tablet but with today’s announcement from Amazon Kindle Fire. I was comparing iPad2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab and I chose the Samsung based on several factors:
      • iPad2 does not support Flash,  Samsung does
      • iPad2 does not have a microscan disk slot to expand the memory, Samsung does
      • iPad2 does not have a USB port, Samsung does.
    • I had made my choice and I was saving my money for the $32GB $599 when Amazon announced the Fire. Doing a brief comparison between the fire and Samsung I see a few differences.
      •  Fire is 7 " Samsung is 10.1
      • Fire does not have microscan card Samsung does
      • Fire has micro USB 2.0 Samsung has regular size US
      •  Fire has old android OS 2.x and Samsung has the Honey Comb 3.1
      •  Fire has 8GB Hard drive Samsung has 16GB or 32GB.
    • Beside the price do you see anything else that I am missing to help me make my decision between the Fire and the Galaxy tablet? Thanks, Greg W
    • Tech Talk Responds: You got most of the hardware distinctions. The real difference will be in the availability of applications. I can’t tell what your use for the device will be and that will drive the applications decision. Fire has no camera or mic, which are useful for video conferencing. iPad2 and Galaxy have front and rear facing cameras. Fire is tightly integrated with Amazon’s store, just like the iPad2 is tightly integrated with the iTunes store. Fire is cheaper (and sold at a loss) because Amazon expects to make money on sales.
    • Email from Tung: Dear Tech Talk, I listen to your show over iTunes every week here in Ohio. I have a problem with my thumb drive. I safe all of my critical documents on the thumb drive and now my computer won’t read it. We use the thumb drive to share the same data between different computers and this is the only copy. Can thumb drives fail? Thanks, Tung
    • Tech Talk Responds: While the technology continues to improve, the fact is that flash memory has a limited number of times it can be written to. It can, in fact, wear out.
    • The "problem" is that memory can be flashed only so many times. I’m finding numbers between 10,000 and 100,000 times – though as with anything, I’m sure that is increasing over time as well. Regardless, there is a limit. When that limit is approached, some portion of the memory may not properly remember what was written to it, resulting in corruption. It may only take a single bit of information to be wrong, or to "wear out", for the entire contents of a flash memory chip to be lost.
    • You could also damage the thumb drive if you remove it from the computer before the cache member has been fully written to the drive. You can try and recover files with recuva (http://www.piriform.com/recuva). Hopefully some files are still there.
    • I would recommend an external hard drive with a USB connection for you particular application. Much better than flash memory.
  • Profiles in IT: Michael Ralph Stonebraker
    • Michael Stonebraker has been a pioneer of data base research and technology for more than a quarter of a century. He is the founder of multiple startups to commercialize academic database prototypes.
    • Michael Ralph Stonebraker was born October 11, 1943.
    • Stonebraker earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1965.
    • He received his MS and PhD from the University of Michigan in 1967 and 1971.
    • Stonebraker joined UC Berkeley as an assistant professor in 1971.
    • In 1973 Stonebraker and his colleague Eugene Wong decided to start researching relational database systems after reading a series of seminal papers published by Edgar F. Codd on the relational data model.
    • Their project, known as INGRES (Interactive Graphics and Retrieval System) was one of the first systems to demonstrate a practical and efficient relational database.
    • INGRES was offered using a variation of the BSD license for a nominal fee, and soon a number of companies created commercial versions of INGRES.
    • Stonebraker, who with fellow Berkeley professors Larry Rowe and Eugene Wong helped found Relational Technology, later called Ingres Corporation. Sold to CA.
    • Other startups based on the INGRES code line include Sybase. Sybase’s code was later used as a basis for Microsoft SQL Server.
    • After founding Relational Technology, Stonebraker and Rowe began a new project was named POSTGRES (POST inGRES) to add support for complex data types.
    • These features supported applications like geographic information systems.
    • POSTGRES was also offered using a BSD-like license as POSTgreSQL.
    • Stonebraker founded Illustra to commercialize the code.
    • Informix acquired Illustra in 1996 and Stonebraker became Informix’s CTO, a position he held until September 2000.
    • After the Postgres project, Stonebraker started the Mariposa project, where data distributed across multiple organizations could be integrated and queried from a single relational interface. Stonebraker founded Cohera Corporation to commercialize Mariposa. Cohera was purchased by Peoplesoft.
    • Stonebraker moved to MIT in 2001, where he began another series of collaborative research projects and founded a number of companies.
    • The Aurora Project, which focused on data management for streaming data, led to the founding of StreamBase Systems in 2003 to commercialize the technology.
    • The C-Store project, which developed a column-oriented DBMS for data optimized data. Warehousing. This led to the founding of Vertica in 2005.
    • The Morpheus project, a data integration system which provides a queryable interface. He found Goby in 2009 to commercialize this project.
    • The H-Store project, which is designed to provide very high throughput for transaction processing. He founded VoltDB based on this project in 2009
    • In 2008, Stonebraker started SciDB, an open-source DBMS for scientific research.
    • He was awarded the ACM System Software Award in 1992 for his work on INGRES.
    • Forbes magazine named him one of the 8 innovators driving the Silicon Valley wealth explosion during their 80th anniversary edition in 1998.
    • He is presently an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at M.I.T.
  • Backup Options for Your Computer
    • Backing up your data is very important and most people put if off until tomorrow. Online backup services have been designed to automate this process reliably. Here are are three options to consider. All are very good, but they differ in features.
    • Carbonite
      • Unlimited data backup for $59.00 year
      • Windows 7, Vista, XP & Mac OS X 10.4 or higher
      • 15 day free trial
      • SSL Encryption
      • Storage space: unlimited
      • Storage: RAID-6 with Blowfish encryption
      • File Access: Any Web Browser
      • File Restoration: Web Restore, Client Restore
      • External hard drive backup: no
      • Archival: no (files removed from backup if deleted from computer)
      • Website: www.carbonite.com
    • Mozy
      • 5.99/monthly for 50 GB
      • Windows 7, Vista, XP & Mac OS X 10.4 or higher
      • Free account with 2GB
      • SSL Secure Encryption
      • Storage space: 50GB or 125GB
      • Storage: RAID-6 with Blowfish encryption
      • File Access: Any Web Browser
      • File Restoration: Web Restore, Client Restore, DVD Restore
      • External hard drive backup: yes
      • Archival: no (files removed from backup if deleted from computer)
      • Website: www.mozy.com
    • SugarSync
      • Free Trial: 30 Days
      • Pricing: $4.99/mo 30GB, $9.99/mo 60GB, $14.99/mo 100GB
      • Storage Space: 30GB to 500GB
      • Computer Synchronization: Yes
      • Number of Computers: unlimited
      • Type of Backup: Continuous
      • File Sharing: Yes
      • Version History Maintained: 5 versions
      • Deleted Files Kept: Yes
      • No File Size Limits
      • No Monthly Transfer Limits
      • Archival: yes
      • Website: www.sugarsync.com
  • How Long Do Wireless Carriers Retain Data?
    • How long does your cell phone carrier retain information about your calls, text messages, and data use?
    • According to data gathered by the Department of Justice, it can be as little as a few days or up to seven years, depending on your provider.
    • AT&T, for example, retains information about who you are texting for five to seven years.
    • T-Mobile keeps the same data for five years, Sprint keeps it for 18 months, and Verizon retains it for one year.
    • Verizon is the only one of the top four carriers that retains text message content, however, and it keeps that for three to five days.
    • Call detail records, meanwhile, are retained for one year by Verizon, five years for T-Mobile, five to seven years for AT&T, and 18 to 24 months for Sprint.
    • The data was made public after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request related to an investigation into cell phone location tracking by police.
    • Carriers do retain data about the cell towers to which your phone has been associated: Verizon keeps it for one year; T-Mobile retains it for one year or more; AT&T has retained all data from July 2008; and Sprint keeps it for 18 to 24 months.
    • On the data front, Verizon also keeps your IP session information for one year. T-Mobile does not keep this information, AT&T only retains non-public IPs for 72 hours, and Sprint keeps it for 60 days.
    • According to Verizon’s privacy policy, "sensitive records are retained only as long as reasonably necessary for business or legal purposes."
    • At Sprint, the carrier holds on to data in order to "respond to legal process and emergencies" as well as "monitor, evaluate or improve our Services, systems, or networks."
    • AT&T said the data it collects enables it to "address network integrity, quality control, capacity, misuse, viruses, and security issues, as well as for network planning, engineering and technical troubleshooting purposes."
    • T-Mobile "will retain Your Personal Information for as long as necessary to fulfill the purpose(s) for which it was collected and to comply with applicable laws."
    • Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who introduced a bill to deal with this data.
  • Digital Due Process
    • Google, Microsoft, Intel and other tech companies have teamed up to overhaul privacy laws enacted more than 20 years that define how the government can access user data.
    • The law the companies are targeting, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, is 24 years old and was created ages before the Internet became mainstream.
    • As a result, there isn’t clarity about whether documents stored in the cloud or location data from cellphones are protected communications that require search warrants to access.
    • The companies, along with other civil liberties groups, want to update the law so that the files, e-mails and chats they store are considered as protected as the paper documents you might keep in your file cabinet.
    • The coalition is pushing to require government officials to have search warrants before:
      • They can access user’s private communications or documents stored online
      • They can track, prospectively or retrospectively, the location of a cell phone or other mobile communications device.
    • Location data is a particularly sticky point. There are nearly three dozen legal decisions on how and when mobile carriers, ISPs or other types of tech companies should hand over location data to law enforcement officials.
    • Most courts have ruled that government officials need warrants if they want to track a suspect in real-time, but it isn’t codified into law.
    • The companies are also pushing to have the law require that government officials prove that the requested data is relevant to a criminal investigation when they want access to:
    • Transactional data in real time about when and with whom an individual communicates using email, instant messaging, text messaging, the telephone or any other communications technology
    • Transactional data about multiple unidentified users of communications or other online services when trying to track down a suspect
    • The companies that are part of the coalition don’t expect the law to be reformed this year, but they want to start a dialogue and have policy ideas that legislators can easily pick up and incorporate once the bill gets moving.
  • Solar Decathlon 2011
    • The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.
    •  Collegiate teams design and build energy-efficient houses powered by the sun. These teams spend almost two years creating houses to compete in the 10 contests of the Solar Decathlon.
    • The categories include architecture, market appeal, engineering, communications, affordability, comfort zones, hot water, appliances, home entertainment, and energy balance.
    • The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.
    • The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002; the competition has since occurred biennially in 2005, 2007, and 2009.
    • The current event is taking at the National Mall’s West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23–Oct. 2, 2011.
    • Twenty teams are competing. Rankings as of this morning place the University of Maryland team in first place, Purdue University in second, and Caltech in third.
    • The event is open to the public free of charge, visitors can tour the houses, gather ideas to use in their own homes, and learn how energy-saving features can help them save money today.
    • Website: http://www.solardecathlon.gov/