Email from Listener in Bethesda: Dr. Richard Shurtz, I’d like to clean up my laptop.My OS is MS windows XP; bought 09/2006 I have 2GB RAM and an 80GB hard drive. It has a dual-core 2 GHz processor. I have a lot of icons on my desktop and I don’t remember what they are about anymore… What is the best method to simply get rid of junk on the laptop without screwing up something? I did a defrag recently and that really hasn’t improved performance much. Is it time to breakdown and buy a more current laptop? When does it make the most sense to make the upgrade technology wise, discounting the cost/my budget issue for the moment. And, as you see I spent $1657.91 in 2006
Are prices such that I can buy a good pc now OR am I better off waiting for the first of the year when everyone is broke from Xmas and things are on sale? I’d like to make a good purchase that will last for at least 5 years.I started a new job and employer has given me a Fujitsu Lifebook E780 notebook w/ Windows 7. Do you know anything about the quality of Fujitsu pcs? Weekly listener in Bethesda
Tech Talk Responds: I notice that you only have 80 GB of hard drive space. You may be running out of space and that could create problems. Secondly, PCs slow down overtime because of corruption of the registry. I would get a registry cleaner and fix any registry corruption. This has been the best way to get a speed increase. I like PC Tools Registry Mechanic for $29 per year.
As for buying a new computer, the prices have dropped dramatically. Expect to see prices drop before Christmas. Make certain to get a large hard drive (at least 500 GB) and lots of RAM (at least 4GB). Decide what weight and screen size you want. That depends on whether this unit is a desktop replacement or a travel computer.
Email form Bea: Dear Dr. Richard Shurtz. I recently attempted to set up a Facebook account. At the end of the screen that walked me through the fields I had to fill out to set up the account I clicked submit ( or save, I don’t recall what it was labeled). THEN, Facebook said it was downloading my contacts!!!! HolyCow! It was downloading my personal contact list! I clicked cancel OR maybe all I was able to do was to close the browser window. Yes, I believe that is what I did –closed the browser window! Tonight when I log onto my email acct I’d used on the profile for Facebook I got this email from Facebook below. Needless to say, I will NOT be finishing up this registration with Facebook. I am having a difficult time understanding HOW Facebook could begin to download / export my contacts WITHOUT EVEN ASKING ME IF I WANT TO DO THAT! Can you explain how Facebook gets evidently a lot of members to do this? What is the big wow of Facebook anyway? I listen to your show weekly and really like it. Best, Bea
Tech Talk Responds: Facebook, in fact most social websites, try to use your contact list. You ask you to provide user name and password during account creation and then ask to download your contacts. I never provide this information or give them permission, even though they contend that they don’t save the information.
Email from Jim: Dear Tech Talk, I want to explore to new interests, relating to web design and photography, and need some advice. How does one register a url? Does it cost anything? How does one start a blog? Thanks, Jim
Tech Talk Responds: You can obtain a domain name for about $35 per year or less. GoDaddy.com is one of the cheapest registries. Once you select your domain name and register it, you will have to have it hosted at an ISP in order to it to become active.
When it comes to starting a blog, your biggest decision will be whether you want to host the blog yourself, or use a free blogging service that is hosted for you.
Free Blogging Services. When you start a blog with a free blogging service, you don’t get your own domain. You get something like mygreatblog.blogspot.com (where there are a million other blogs at blogspot.com) and you don’t actually own the blog. If you ever do decide to move to your own domain, you have no way to take your readers with you, because you have no control over the site.
Host your own blog using WordPress free Blog software. This is the method I suggest, because it offers much more flexibility and freedom to do what you want. You will have your own domain name, like mygreatblog.com. WordPress is excellent free blog software that allows you flexibility and room to grow.
Email from John: Dear Tech Talk, I need a new home computer. I’d like a laptop – one that I can use with Photoshop. One of my potential projects involves photography. I am also interested in web design. I’ve been strictly a PC guy up until now, but most of the projects I want to work on are creative. Would I be better off going to an Apple product?I am looking to upgrade my camera. I need something that I can use to take professional grade photos, mostly outdoor subjects, scenery and such. I don’t want to break the bank. What do do you suggest. Thanks, John
Tech Talk Responds: If you are going to do design and graphics work, I would suggest an Apple product. The all in one iMac with a 21 inch monitor and quad-core processor is a good option. If you are going to do intensive work with videos, I would suggest the MacPro with either 8 or 12 core processors. The iMac is around $2,000 and the MacPro is around $4,000.
As for a camera, you need a single lens reflex with interchangeable lenses. Don’t get the cheaper fixed lens option. Cannon and Nikon are two brands that I like. The Nikon is a great choice. Their mid-range SLR body is around $1200.
Profiles in IT: John McCarthy
John McCarthy was computer scientist and cognitive scientist. He coined the term "artificial intelligence" (AI), invented the Lisp programming language.
John McCarthy was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 4, 1927 to an Irish immigrant father and a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant mother.
The family was forced to move frequently during the Depression, until McCarthy’s father found work as Union organizer in Los Angeles, California.
McCarthy graduated from Belmont High School two years early.
He showed an early aptitude for mathematics; in his teens he taught himself mathematics by studying the textbooks used at Caltech.
When McCarthy entered Caltech in 1944, he skipped the first two years of math.
McCarthy was expelled from Caltech for failure to attend physical education courses.
After serving US Army and was readmitted, receiving a B.S. in Mathematics in 1948.
He described attending a 1948 symposium bringing together some of the leading minds in computer science and cognition, including Alan Turing and Claude Shannon and psychologist Karl Lashley, as a watershed moment in his life.
It occurred to the McCarthy, who was then working on his doctorate in mathematics from Princeton, that machines could be made to think like humans.
He received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Princeton University in 1951.
He conceived the idea of computer time-sharing, which has been described as a contribution to the development of the Internet, and a precursor of cloud computing.
In 1956, he organized the first international conference to focus on artificial intelligence. One of the attendees was Marvin Minsky, who became, later, one of the leading theorists in the field, and joined McCarthy at MIT in 1959.
In 1958, he proposed the advice taker, which inspired later work on question-answering and logic programming.
Around 1959, he invented garbage collection to solve problems in Lisp.
McCarthy proposed Lisp (LISt Programming) based on the lambda calculus in 1960.
Lisp rapidly became the programming language of choice for AI applications.
In 1961, he was the first to publicly suggest that computer time-sharing technology might lead to a future in which computing power and even specific applications could be sold through the utility business model (like water or electricity).
After short-term appointments at Princeton, Stanford University, Dartmouth, and MIT, he became a full professor at Stanford in 1962, where he remained until his retirement at the end of 2000.
He founded Stanford’s artificial intelligence laboratory, known as SAIL.
In 1966, McCarthy and his team at Stanford wrote a computer program used to play a series of chess games with counterparts in the Soviet Union.
From 1978 to 1986, McCarthy developed the circumscription method of non-monotonic reasoning.
McCarthy often commented on world affairs on the Usenet forums. His best Usenet interaction is visible in rec.arts.books archives.
He received several major honors, including the Association for Computing Machinery’s prestigious A.M. Turing Award in 1971, the Kyoto Prize in 1988 and the National Medal of Science in 1990.
Groupon Goes Public
Shares Groupon closed at $26.11 on the first day of trading on Nasdaq, a jump of more than 31 percent from its offering price of $20.
That left Groupon with a market valuation of about $16.7 billion, almost three times the buyout offer from Google it rejected in December.
This valuation makes Groupon nearly as big as Yahoo, 10 times the size of AOL, and more than 15 times the size of The New York Times.
Chicago-based Groupon is losing money, it’s had to restate its financials, and its business model is hardly a sure bet.
Even though money-losing Groupon made it public, that doesn’t mean it’s now a smart investment.
Anonymous to Mount Attack Today
According to various tweets, blog posts and message across the Web, November 5 will host a series of attacks on various institutions waged by members of the online collective Anonymous.
Among the rumored targets this weekend include Fox News, Facebook and a notorious Mexican drug cartel.
Additionally, November 5 is scheduled to be the day that customers of big banks across America have vowed to close down their accounts and transfer their money to smaller institutions in alignment with the growing Occupy movement.
Across the Internet and in Occupy encampments across the country, November 5 is being dubbed as Bank Transfer Day, Move Your Money Day and other monikers as part of the Operation Cashback movement.
Internationally, November 5 is recognized as Guy Fawkes Day, named in remembrance of the radical Englishman who attempted to overthrow parliament in 1605.
His plight was idolized in the major motion picture V For Vendetta, and the Guy Fawkes mask from the film has since become the calling card for members of Anonymous.
On Saturday, those members are expected to open up battlefronts across the Web and in banks across the country.
Aside from the Operation Cashback initiative, Anonymous has previously vowed that it will take on the website for Fox News on November 5, swearing to shut down their servers under the umbrella of an agenda called Operation Fox Hunt.
According to a YouTube video posted on October 22, the assault on Fox will come as a response to the cable news network’s lack of serious coverage aimed at the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
Now in its second month, Fox was late to devote any coverage to the movement and, once it did, took a light-hearted and laughable approach at what polls show that many Americans feel is a serious issue.
In the past Anonymous has been mostly successfully with planned attacks of similar scales, running infiltrations on the computers of SONY, Bank of America, Mastercard and other major corporations and institutions.
Rumors have also begun to circulate across the Web in recent days that November 5 will be the day that Anonymous will launch an attack on Facebook in an attempt to shut down the popular social networking site for its infringement on the privacy of its patrons.
Regardless of what attacks are carried out on Guy Fawkes Day, the scale of the threat that Anonymous poses across the board is impressive. Small scale bank transfers in the weeks since the Occupy Wall Street movement began has led to dozens of arrests across the country, and as the United States gets heated over the ongoing police attack on Occupy demonstrators, this weekend’s festivities, no matter which threats are indeed carried out, are sure to escalate not just the Occupy movement but the awareness of Anonymous.
Members of Anonymous fed up with reports that the online activist group is going to take down the social network said today that the threat is not real and was the work of one lone member without any support from others in the group.
The statement then provides an address, phone number, and other information ostensibly belonging to the individual named.
Anonymous sources and people familiar with the group have previously said that the campaign against Facebook was the work of a rogue member and not a legitimate threat.
Members of Anonymous in Mexico canceled a threat against the Zetas drug cartel after the return of an Anonymous member who was kidnapped. The message that innocent people would die if Anonymous exposed any information on cartel associates also played a part in that decision.
New Duqu Virus linked to MS Word
A new virus has been found in various countries across the world and its target appears to be corporate networks.
The Duqu virus, first noted last month by a laboratory at Budapest University, has now been spotted in several other countries and appears to be sent via Microsoft Word documents attached as emails.
The point of the new virus seems to be to gather corporate information and then send it to some as yet unknown site. Thus, it’s a form of corporate espionage. Researchers at Symantec say it looks like some of the code in the virus is the same as was found in the Stuxnet virus that wreaked havoc on Iran’s nuclear program, indicating that the perpetuators were either able to obtain the code from that virus, or, are the same people.
The virus is activated when a person to whom an infected Word document was sent, opens it. The virus infects that computer then seeks out other computers through the corporate network. As it goes, it collects data and then apparently, seeks a path out to the Internet where it can send the data it’s collected to a predefined destination. Thus far it has relied on a so-named zero day exploit to take advantage of a previously unknown weakness in the Windows kernel.
Thus far, it appears that the virus has been targeted at specific types of companies, as the data- collecting part of the virus seems to seek out information pertaining to industrial control-systems. So it’s likely that whoever unleashed the virus, did so in hopes of gaining information on how companies are designing and manufacturing their products; not something the average person would need to worry about, but still enough to cause concern about the growing sophistication of computer viruses.
So far, instances of the virus have been seen in Iran, India, France, Ukraine, the UK and at least eight other countries that have not been specifically identified.
The MS released the "workaround" along with detailed information it said would enable anti-virus software companies to detect Duqu, which takes advantage of a flaw in Windows computer operating systems.
MS engineering teams determined the root cause of the vulnerability, and are working to produce a security update to address it.
A software patch to protect against Duqu will not be ready in time for this month’s "update Tuesday" next week, according to Microsoft.
Stuxnet was designed to attack computer control systems made by German industrial giant Siemens and commonly used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other critical infrastructure.
Most Stuxnet infections have been discovered in Iran, giving rise to speculation it was intended to sabotage nuclear facilities there
Google Does a Barrel Roll
If you are using Chrome or Foxfire, type Google “do a barrel roll.”
The entire results page will do a barrel roll before your eyes.
I could not get this to work in MS Explorer.
This is latest tricks from Googlers using their 20%.