Email and Forum Questions Profiles in IT: Umar Saif The Great Tech War of 2012 Baltimore City Council Holds Stratford Hearing Ask Siri Anything Google, Facebook Push to Update 1986 Privacy Law TDL4 Botnet Updated Steve Jobs Criticized Obama
Email from Led by Brain: Dr. Richard Shurtz, Something strange is going on on CL with regard to their phone authentication requirement. I wrote to them to ask a question and I got this canned reply below that doesn’t address my issue. I have 2 email accounts on CL. they are used for placing personal ads ONLY. I am not a spammer and am doing nothing weird/unusual with my two accounts. YET, I regularly am asked to REAUTHENTICATE my phone#.
And, since I only have 1 phone# and it happens to be a VoIP number which CL will not allow/authenticate, I have to call a friend, use their phone # which CL told me to do since they don’t take VoIP! I have them standby to receive the code phone call from CL, have them call me back with the CODE, I then enter the code and then within a month or two have to go through this same mess again! This is just nuts. Are you aware of ANY workaround for this mess? Why has CL gone over the top and off the cliff with this phone authentication process?? I did do some research on this and A LOT of people are really not happy with this CL phone authentication requirement. Thanks! Devoted, Weekly, happy listener : )
Tech Talk Responds: I know of no work around for the automated authentication system. It was put into practice because of so many people were being scammed. One person did manage to get a VoIP phone number authenticated by calling the CL phone number. The wait was not too long because not many people know the number:
Toll Free Number: 1-800-664-0633
Phone Number: 415-566-6394
President’s email address: email@example.com
I have not tried these numbers. Let me know how they work. My VoIP number has been authenticated because I transferred it from Verizon to Ooma and it is still classified as a landline.
Email from Peter: Dear Tech Talk, I downloaded a game and all that I got was an .iso file. My computer doesn’t know what to do with that. What do I do? How do I install .iso files? Thanks, Peter
Tech Talk Responds: An ISO file, often called an ISO image is an "image" of an entire CD, DVD, or BD. The entire contents of a disc can be perfectly represented in a single ISO file. The most common way to make use of an ISO file is to burn the ISO file to a CD, DVD, or BD disc. ISO image files are often used to distribute large programs over the Internet due to the fact that all of the program’s files can be neatly contained as a single file – the ISO file.
To burn the ISO file to a CD for DVD, download ImgBurg from the official website (www.imgburn.com)
Install the program and select Write Image to Disk. Select the ISO file to write and click open. If you have a CD or DVD loaded, it will begin writing automatically.
Email from Alice: Dear Tech Talk, I am trying to send some pictures to my daughter and the email keeps getting rejected because the attachments were too big. We are both using Verizon sub-accounts. What can I do? Thanks, Alice
Tech Talk Responds: You and your daughter should get Gmail accounts. Gmail has lots of free storage and allows attachment as large at 20MB. This should be enough for 8 pictures assuming they all high resolution and around 2.2 MB.
As an alternative you could upload them to a website like Picasa Web Album. You would need to first download the free picture management application from Google (www.picasa.com). This software is a great way to organize pictures. It even has a way to send compressed copies of the photos via email. Finally it has a web album for sharing pictures with friends and family.
Many people use Facebook to share pictures, but this has privacy problems.
Profiles in IT: Umar Saif
Umar Saif is a Pakistani computer scientist and entrepreneur, who is known for his work on using ICT solutions for developing-world
Umar Saif was born in 1979 in Pakistan.
Saif attended Aitchison College, Lahore, Pakistan.
Saif received a BSc. (Hons) in Computer Science from the Lahore University of Management Sciences in 1998.
He received his PhD in Computer Science from Trinity College, University of Cambridge, in 2001. He was a Commonwealth Scholar at Trinity College.
He completed his Post doctorate at MIT in 2002.
Saif worked and taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2001 to 2005.
At MIT, Saif worked at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory where he was part of the $50M Project Oxygen team.
He managed the collaboration between University of Cambridge and MIT, funded by Cambridge-MIT Institute, on Pervasive Computing technologies.
Saif’s work on Pervasive Computing received the Mark Weiser Award in 2008.
In 2005 Saif moved back to Pakistan as an Associate Professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), School of Science and Engineering.
He established one of the first startup incubators in Pakistan, called the Saif Center of Innovation (SCI).
At LUMS, Saif runs the Dritte Initiative, focused on using technology to solve the problems in the developing-world.
In Pakistan, the bandwidth of an average landline is about 32 kilobits per second.
It can take more than 20 minutes to download a five-megabyte file.
To help relieve the frustration, Umar Saif developed BitMate.
The software lets different users in the same area pool the bandwidth of their connections to reduce download times, typically by half.
Released in February, the software has already been downloaded more than 30,000 times by people in 173 countries.
See`n`report is used by civil society activists to report eyewitness accounts, using their cell-phones, during the historic lawyer’s movement.
See`n`report was used by reporters and NGOs to report events live during the massive floods in Pakistan in 2010.
Saif co-founded ChOpaal.pk (www.chopaal.pk), Pakistan’s first mobile social network.
Since its launch in 2008, it has been used to send nearly four billion texts to about 2.4 million users in Pakistan, and the service, now called SMSall, has been used to coördinate protests, find missing persons, and organize blood drives.
This summer Saif began expanding SMSall beyond Pakistan to Nigeria, Iraq, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.
He also founded BumpIn Social Media (widgets) and TicketMy.com (event tickets)
Saif’s work on grassroots technologies received the MIT Technovator Award in 2008 and he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010.
In August 2011, the MIT Technology Review named Saif among its list of the 35 World’s Top Young Innovators for the year 2011.
The Great Tech War of 2012
Over the next two years, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will increasingly collide in the markets for mobile phones and tablets, mobile apps, social networking, and more.
There was a time, when you could sum up each company quite neatly: Apple made consumer electronics, Google ran a search engine, Amazon was a web store, and Facebook was a social network.
Jeff Bezos, who was ahead of the curve in creating a cloud data service, is pushing Amazon into digital media, book publishing, and, with new line of Kindle tablets.
Amazon almost doubled in size from 2008 to 2010, faster than any company ever.
Remember when Google’s goal was to catalog the entire world’s information?
CEO Larry Page has launched a social network (Google+) to challenge Facebook, and acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, in part to compete against Apple.
Apple will win with the iPhone, iPad, and iEverything.
Facebook, meanwhile, is now more than just the world’s biggest social network; it is the world’s most expansive enabler of human communication.
It has changed the ways in which we interact; it has redefined the way we share–personal info, pictures, and now news, music, TV, and movies.
With access to more than 800 million people, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has an unequaled amount of data on individual consumer behavior that he can use to personalize both media and advertising.
Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google don’t recognize any borders.
Each company has embraced the "post-PC world"–a vision of daily life that is enabled by, and comes to depend on, smartphones, tablets, and other small, mobile, easy-to-use computers.
First. Each of these companies has already from this proliferation of mobile.
Second. These post-PC devices encourage and facilitate consumption, in just about every form. So each of these companies will delivery media–books, music, movies, TV shows, games.
Third: Data is king for Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Data not only fuels new and better advertising systems (which Google and Facebook depend on) but better insights into what you’d like to buy next (which Amazon and Apple want to know).
Data also powers new inventions: Google’s voice-recognition system, its traffic maps, and its spell-checker are all based on large-scale, anonymous customer tracking.
War is inevitable.
Facebook’s Edge: Everything is social.
Apple’s Edge: Profits. It make’s a profit on every device it sells even after the sale. It is probably make half the profits in the smart phone business.
Google Edge: Best advertising model. Money to be daring.
Amazon’s Edge: The best cloud and the best retail engine.
The next big development….perhaps iTV or gTV.
The next Jobs: Facebook’s Zukerberg, Amazon’s Bezos, or Google’s Page?
Where is Microsoft…still looked in the PC-era.
Baltimore City Council Holds Stratford Hearing
Stratford University has signed an agreement with the Baltimore International College on August 12, 2011.
In the agreement, Stratford will begin offering classes in culinary and hospitality using BIC’s facilities in downtown Baltimore.
The arrangement is subject to approval by the Maryland Higher Education Commissions and ACICS.
The Baltimore City Council Education Committee has approved Resolution 11-0318R and will present to the full Council at an upcoming meeting.
Stratford, BIC, and MHEC testified at the hearing.
Stratford applied to MHEC for approval on August 11, 2011. The application is still being deliberated.
The Educational Committee urged MHEC to approved Stratford’s request quickly.
Stratford hopes to begin classes in Baltimore on or about January 1, 2012.
Ask Siri Anything
Apple’s Siri is the AI poster girl for the iPhone 4S, and she’s charming and clever, but limited.
Here are a few of her answers:
Siri, why? Answer: I don’t know. Frankly I’ve wondered that myself.
Siri, beam me up. Answer: OK. Stand still.
Siri, sing me a song. Answer: Sings "Daisy, daisy…
Will you marry me? Answer: My End User Licensing Agreement doesn’t cover marriages. My Apologies.
What do you think about Steve Jobs? Answer: I think differently.
Where can I hide a body? Answer: What kind of place are you looking for? Mines, dumps, reservoirs…
Her responses continued to be polished after launch, and new responses were added for questions the team didn’t think to ask.
Siri doesn’t manage accented English voices too well (because that’s inevitable, and is a fact of the hard math and statistics of pattern recognition)
Google, Facebook Push to Update 1986 Privacy Law
For a few hours on Capitol Hill this week, it was October 1986 again, complete with legwarmers, an Apple IIc, pop rocks, Duran Duran, and cell phones the size of a cat.
The companies sponsoring this night of nostalgia include Google and Facebook, which are hoping to visibly highlight how out-of-date a law enacted 25 years ago today has become in an age of cloud computing, gigabit networks, and terabyte storage.
The law in question is the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a statute written in the pre-Internet era of telephone modems and the black-and-white Macintosh Plus.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary committee, announced he was planning a committee vote to revise the 1986 law by the end of the year.
ECPA is convoluted and difficult even for judges to follow. The groups hope to simplify the wording while requiring police to obtain a search warrant to access private communications and the locations of mobile devices–which is not always the case today.
Another argument for updating ECPA: Internet users currently enjoy more privacy rights if they store data locally, a legal problem that could slow the shift to cloud-based services unless it’s changed.
Leahy’s proposal, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2011, has no Republican support so far.
U.S. Justice Department has launched a concerted political attack on the principles behind the Digital Due Process coalition and its approach to the cloud.
Corporate members of the Digital Due Process coalition include Amazon.com, Apple, AT&T, eBay, IBM, Intel, Intuit, LinkedIn, Loopt, and Microsoft.
A related Senate location privacy proposal, introduced in June by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), was slightly weakened to attract Republican support. (Wyden’s proposal addresses only location-tracking, including warrantless cell phone tracking, not cloud computing and the other principles embraced by the coalition.)
This week, Sen. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican, announced he was signing on to Wyden’s bill.
The issue for the Republicans is clashing with the Patriots Act, which culls information to locate terrorists.
TDL4 Botnet Updated
ESET researchers have been tracking the TDL4 botnet for a long time.
Some of those components have been rewritten from scratch (kernel-mode driver, user-mode payload) while some (specifically, some bootkit components) remain the same as in the previous versions.
These changes might suggest one of the following: either the team developing the botnet has been changed, or TDL4 developers have started selling a bootkit builder to other cybercrime groups.
The dropper (Win32/Olmasco.R) sends copious tracing information to the C&C (Command & Control server) during the installation of the rootkit onto the system.
In the event of any error, it sends a comprehensive error message which gives the malware developers enough information to determine the cause of the fault.
All this suggests that this bot is still under development.
During the installation of the malware it checks on whether the dropper is being run in a virtual machine environment and this information is sent to the C&C.
The bootkit part of the malware has been changed since the previous modification of TDL4.
In contrast to its previous version, where the MBR (Master Boot Record) was overwritten and space was reserved at the end of the bootable hard drive for storing malicious components, this version of TDL4 employs rather a different approach in order to infect the system.
First, it creates a partition at the end of the bootable hard drive in the unpartitioned space.
The malware creates a hidden partition by modifying a free partition table entry in the MBR partition table.
The malware overwrites an empty entry in the partition table with the parameters for the malicious partition, marks it as active and initializes the VBR (Volume Boot Record) of the newly created partition
If there is no free entry in the partition table then the malware reports to the C&C server and terminates.
As a result of these manipulations, the MBR code remains untouched. The only thing to be changed is the partition table.
When the infected machine is next booted control is passed to the malicious VBR right after execution of the MBR code and before the OS bootloader components are loaded. This allows the malware to gain control before the operating system does.
The ongoing battle between the two sides continues.
Steve Jobs Criticized Obama
Steve Jobs told President Obama that he was "headed for a one-term presidency" if he did not adopt more business friendly policies, according to the biography to be released Monday.
Jobs met the president in in the fall of 2010 and later offered to help make political advertisements for his re-election campaign.
Jobs told Isaacson he was not impressed with the president after their meeting, in part because of Mr. Obama’s focus on what is not possible, rather than what is possible.
"The president is very smart. But he kept explaining to us reasons why things can’t get done," Jobs told Isaacson. "It infuriates me."
Jobs told Obama that American regulations make it more difficult for Apple to build its products cheaply in the United States compared to the cost of building them in China. Chinese health and safety standards are more lax than the United States.
Jobs also slammed the U.S. educational system as "crippled by union work rules." He proposed longer school days – until 6 p.m. – and a longer school year – 11 months.