Show of 10-6-2012

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Robert Tyler: Dear Dr. Shurtz. I have a good candidate for your “Profiles In IT” segment if you haven’t already profiled him. The person’s name is Leonard Kleinrock. He is the computer scientist who led a team that transmitted the first message over the internet on October 29, 1969. I think he would be a very interesting subject. I’ve included a link to an article I read about him which also show the “Interface Message Processor” they used to transmit that message. Thank you for that segment of the Tech Talk Radio Show. It’s my favorite part of the show.  Robert Tyler
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the suggestions. We featured Leonard Kleinrock on February 16, 2008. He was one of the leaders in the development of packet switched data communication.
  • Email from Bea from Texas: Dear Dr. Shurtz, How large of a system do I need for a university setting like Stratford assuming you have about 1- 200,000 students who will be learning virtually and interacting with the instructors as well as being able to perform their assignments, while also being able to monitor their progress? Also, what is the difference between codeigniter and cake php and in terms of CMS design, which is the better and why? Thanks for answering. Bea from Texas
  • Tech Talk Responds: You need a system that is scalable. We are hosting our online system on the cloud and monitor resource usage. We are running virtual servers with load balancing. We have outsourced our data center. However, we manage the servers. We have a development site and a production site for the online. The online program was started using our in-house data center and was moved to another location when scaling and response time became an issue.
  • CakePHP is an open source web application framework. It is written in PHP, modeled after the concepts of Ruby on Rails, and distributed under the MIT License.[2]
    • HistoryCakePHP started in April 2005, when a Polish programmer Michal Tatarynowicz wrote a minimal version of a Rapid Application Framework in PHP, dubbing it Cake.He published the framework under the MIT license, and opened it up to the online community of developers.
    • One of the project’s inspirations was Ruby on Rails, using many of its concepts. The community has since grown and spawned several sub-projects.In October 2009, project manager Woodworth and developer N. Abele resigned from the project to focus on their own projects, including the Lithium framework (previously part of the CakePHP project). The remaining development team continued to focus on the original roadmap that was previously defined.
  • CodeIgniter is an open source web application framework for use in building dynamic web sites with PHP. “Its goal is to enable developers to develop projects much faster than…writing code from scratch, by providing a rich set of libraries for commonly needed tasks, as well as a simple interface and logical structure to access these libraries.”
    • The first public version of CodeIgniter was released on February 28, 2006, and the latest stable version 2.1.2 was released June 29, 2012.
    • CodeIgniter is most often noted for its speed when compared to other PHP frameworks.In a critical take on PHP frameworks in general, PHP creator Rasmus Lerdorf spoke at frOSCon in August 2008, noting that he liked CodeIgniter “because it is faster, lighter and the least like a framework.”
    • CodeIgniter’s source code is maintained at GitHub, and as of the preview version 3.0-dev, is certified open source software licensed with the Open Software License (“OSL”) v. 3.0. Versions of CodeIgniter prior to 3.0 are licensed under a proprietary Apache/BSD-style open source license.
  • CodeIgniter is easier to learn and probably the best option if you are new to programming. Cake is the oldest and has the largest online community. It is slower and not as well documented as CI.
  • Email from Lauren: Dr. Richard Shurtz, Email from Lauren: Dear Doc, I have Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro and my client has Adobe Acrobat 10 Pro. Client sends me an AA 10 Pro portfolio (43 pgs) and wants me to insert bookmarks. When I figure out how to do this, will what I give back to client be compatible with his version of AA? Is it up and down compatible? I’m having difficulty figuring out how to do bookmarks in AA 9 Pro. I did them in AA 8 in the past, but it is different in 9 and I can’t seem to find where it is hidden! Your help is appreciated. Love the show !! Thanks, Lauren
  • Tech Talk Responds: To create a Bookmark in AA Pro, you need to open the Bookmark Panel. Click on the blue icon on the left side of the screen to open the panel. If this icon does not appear, our can hover over the left border and right click on the mouse and then select Bookmark Panel. Go to the page you want to bookmark and then click Create Bookmark. PDF files should be compatible since this is a standard format readable with many viewers.
  • Emial from Arnie McKechnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz, A listener asked some questions about Java & Java Script last Saturday, the 8th. I have “NINITE” on my computer. It’s a program that updates various computer programs and I find it helpful. When Ninite runs, it updates Java 7 and Java x647. As long as things work, I don’t care what it’s called, but I am curious as to what’s the difference in the two Java programs. Re Ninite; have you heard of it or used it? Thanks, Arnie McKechnie, Davidsonville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are seeing an update for both the 32-bit and the 64-bit version of Java. NiNite is a great program for installing popular software as a bundle. It gets the latest version of the software and installs without an user intervention or crapware. Highly recommended with great reviews. Simply choose your software from a menu and it will do the initial install  and maintain the updates.
  • Email from Robert: Dear Dr. Shurtz: I have a small (12” inch) HP laptop computer with a regular (spinning) hard drive. I have read that after changing to a solid state drive the computer has shorter boot up times and can accessing files much faster. Is this correct and how hard is it take the hard drive out of a laptop and replace it with a solid state drive? Also, after you replace the drive with an SSD drive how do you get the operating system back on the computer without an optical drive which my computer doesn’t have? Thank you for your classroom of the airwaves. Robert
  • Tech Talk Responds: SSDs come in two major types: SLC (single-level cell) and MLC (multi-level cell). An SLC SSD stores data as one bit per flash memory cell, while an MLC drive stores two or more bits per cell. As a result, MLCs are less expensive than SLCs at the same capacity point, since you need fewer physical flash memory components for greater capacity. The downside is that MLC drives are slower than SLC units, though usually still much faster than regular hard drives.
  • Next, consider whether your laptop is well suited for a solid-state drive. Here are a few concerns to keep in mind.
    • Does your laptop run Windows XP? If you have an older portable that shipped with Windows XP several years ago, dropping in an SSD is not a good idea. While SSDs can work with Windows XP, that OS isn’t as well optimized for SSDs as Vista–and, more particularly, Windows 7. The newest Windows supports the TRIM command, which helps keep SSD performance optimized. We recommend not replacing your XP laptop’s hard drive with an SSD.
    • Does your laptop’s BIOS support SSDs? The BIOS of some older laptops won’t work properly with solid-state drives. Unfortunately, there’s no easy rule of thumb to follow in this regard, so before you buy, try doing a Web search for your PC model and “SSD compatible” to see if other users have had upgrade issues.
    • Can your laptop be physically upgraded? Some older laptops don’t allow for easy upgrading of the hard drives. This is especially true for certain Macbook and Macbook Pro models. Make sure that upgrading won’t void your warranty or require you to perform serious surgery on your laptop.
  • If you have any doubts, be cautious and check online forums and other resources before attempting a swap to a solid-state drive. The technology is still new enough that the kinks and the potential backward-compatibility issues haven’t been completely ironed out.
  • After you’ve determined that your laptop is capable of handling a solid-state drive, you need to take a few steps prior to making the move.
    • If your laptop runs Windows Vista, make sure you’ve updated it to Service Pack 1. This will improve Vista’s performance when running on the SSD. Note that Windows 7 is still a better OS for SSDs, but Vista should work fine.
    • Update your system BIOS. This is particularly important if your Windows installation is running in Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) mode. AHCI implements native command queuing (NCQ), which enables greater efficiency in the way that standard hard-drive heads move around the platter.
    • Since SSDs have neither platters nor heads, NCQ can adversely affect performance on SSDs.
    • If your system is running in AHCI mode, try changing the BIOS storage access mode to IDE instead. This doesn’t always work–you may end up with a blue screen if Windows isn’t set up to boot from standard IDE mode. If this tweak does work, then keep your system in IDE mode.

Profiles in IT: Frederick Emmons Terman

  • Frederick Emmons Terman is an academic who is credited (along with William Shockley) with being the father of Silicon Valley.
  • Frederick Emmons Terman was born June 7, 1900 in English, Indiana.
  • The Terman family moved to Stanford University in 1912.
  • Frederick’s father was inventor and co-developer of the Stanford Binet IQ test. Frederick scored very high on this test.
  • Frederick graduated from Stanford in 1920 with a major in chemistry.
  • He then switched his field to EE, receiving his MSEE in 1922.
  • Terman earned a Doctor of Science in electrical engineering E from MIT in 1924.
  • Upon completing his degree in 1924 he was offered an instructorship at MIT, but before he could begin it, he fell victim to a severe form of tuberculosis, which sent him to bed for a year and very nearly took his life.
  • During a protracted convalescence at Palo Alto, he managed to teach electrical engineering on a part-time basis in 1925 at Stanford.
  • He decided to stay at Stanford and accept a full-time appointment in EE.
  • From 1925 to 1941 Terman designed a course of study and research in electronics at Stanford that focused on work with vacuum tubes, circuits, and instrumentation.
  • During this period, he wrote Radio Engineering (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th edition). The last edition was renamed Electronic and Radio Engineering.
  • His well-respected textbooks brought in a steady stream of income, much of which he plowed back to support educational enterprise at Stanford.
  • Terman’s students at Stanford included William Hewlett and David Packard.
  • He encouraged his students to form their own companies and personally invested in many of them, resulting in firms such as Litton Industries and Hewlett-Packard.
  • Terman must have been influenced by his experience at MIT, where students supplemented theoretical work on campus with practical experience in industry.
  • During World War II, Terman directed a staff of more than 850 at the Radio Research Laboratory at Harvard University.
  • This organization was the source of Allied jammers to block enemy radar, tunable receivers to detect radar signals, and aluminum strips (“chaff”) to produce spurious reflections on enemy radar receivers.
  • After the war Terman appointed Dean of the Stanford School of Engineering.
  • In 1951 he spearheaded the creation of Stanford Industrial Park (now Stanford Research Park), whereby the University leased portions of its land to high-tech firms.
  • Companies such as Varian Associates, Hewlett-Packard, Eastman Kodak, General Electric, and Lockheed Corporation moved into Stanford Industrial Park.
  • He served as Provost at Stanford from 1955 to 1965. Terman greatly expanded the science, statistics and engineering departments to secure defense funding.
  • In 1964, Dr. Terman became a founding member of the National Academy of Engineering.
  • His distinctions included the Presidential Medal for Merit; the IEEE Founder’s Award; and Stanford’s highest, the Uncommon Man Award.
  • Frederick Terman died in his sleep on December 19, 1982.

Special Guest: Feroze Khan

  • Feroze Khan is VP for International Programs at Stratford University
  • Stratford programs are in demand international students because it provides robust CPT and OPT programs, combined with a rigorous curriculum.
  • CPT (Curricular Practical Training) allows students to work in a job which is directly related to their coursework.
  • OPT (Optional Practical Training) allows students to work full-time after graduation for 12 months. In the case of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs, the OPT can be extended an addition 17 months (for a total of 29 months)
  • Stratford has more OPT STEM extensions than any other school in the US.

Market Demand for Web Programming Languages

  • Marc Gayle was interested in doing freelance programming and decided to see which languages were in demand. He lives in Jamaica wanted to work for US tech firms.
  • He wrote a Ruby script to extract data from Craigslist and his results are interesting.
  • He located around 12,000 opportunities in Craiglist in 720 cities. The script took 16 minutes to run.
  • Here are the results
  • Server Side Languages
    • PHP (592 postings, 49.8%
    • Java (282, 23.76%)
    • Dot-Net (105, 8.85%
    • C# (76, 6.4%)
    • Ruby (54, 4.55%)
    • Rails (38, 3.2%)
    • Python (15, 1.26%)
    • Perl (10, 0.84%)
    • Codeigniter (7, 0.51%
    • Django (6, 0.51%)
    • Lisp (7, 0.17%)
  • Client Side Languages
    • HTML (339, 40.79%)
    • CSS (192, 23.1%)
    • Javascript (191, 22.98%)
    • Flash (109, 13.13%)
    • If you are new to programming these results may help you decide where to focus your energies.

Facebook Scaled for 1B Users

  • Facebook had just officially registered one-seventh of earth’s population.
  • Zuckerberg has created a hacker culture which has been effective at building a scalable service.
  • Facebook builds a custom Web page every time you visit. It pores over all the actions your friends have taken—their photos, their friends, the songs they listen to, the products they like—and determines in two-hundredths of a second which items you might wish to see, and in what order.
  • Each day, Facebook processes 2.7 billion “Likes,” 300 million photo uploads, 2.5 billion status updates and check-ins.
  • Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering, has created the culture that drive Facebook innovation. Schrep, as everyone at Facebook calls him, arrived four years ago from Mozilla, where he led the development of the Firefox Web browser.
  • No person outside of Zuckerberg has had more influence on Facebook’s engineers and the construction of the company’s massive and growing infrastructure.
  • Schroepfer ensures the tweaking never stops. He’s been instrumental in developing the company’s obsession with what’s known in Silicon Valley as A/B testing. This is the process by which engineers compare one version of a Web page to another to see which generates the most interest.
  • At any given moment, Facebook has tens of thousands of A/B tests running. It may be trying to decide which version of an ad plays best to a particular crowd or how to word the options in a menu.
  • This is how Facebook discovered that people got stressed out and left the site when they were asked if they wanted to “reject” a friend request. The engineers found the noncommittal “not now” kept people logged on.
  • The de facto proctor of these A/B tests is Chuck Rossi. To the left of his desk he has a large, fully stocked Tiki bar with a lot of Scotch. Used targets have been stapled to the bar—Rossi is a competitive marksman, and sometimes conducts offsites at shooting ranges.
  • Rossi is Facebook’s release engineer, the overlord of a ritual the company calls “the push.” This is the moment when Facebook refreshes its source code with a new version. Facebook redoes its site once a day, usually at around 4:30 p.m. West Coast time.
  • The company’s engineers typically submit about 300 tweaks per push. On Tuesdays, there’s a bigger push that incorporates thousands of changes.
  • He begins the push by releasing the updated site first to Facebook employees, and then to about 2 percent of Facebook’s users.
  • From their first day of employment, Facebook engineers are expected to dig into the software that runs the site during a six week Boot Camp.
  • Under the supervision of “code mentors,” new hires hunt for minor glitches in the 1.5 gigabytes of source code that runs Facebook.
  • The company now has 1,000 engineers and expects to add hundreds more this year. Boot Camp is an attempt to fight the natural creep of bureaucracy that comes with rapid expansion.
  • Three years ago Zuckerberg and Schroepfer decided that the company should stop leasing data center space and build its own facilities.
  • They put together a team of about a dozen people. A few months later, Facebook began constructing a 330,000-square-foot complex in Prineville, Ore., a sparsely populated farming and ranching town that has cheap power and plenty of broadband access.
  • Most of the software running these data centers was likewise built from the ground up or modified by Facebook engineers. The company has invented ways to get thousands of computers to work in unison. It also has several labs at its headquarters where it designs servers and storage systems.
  • The company is building a half-dozen similar centers in Oregon, North Carolina, and Sweden.
  • The company’s biggest growth opportunity is mobile: “There are actually already 600 million people using Facebook on phones, so that’s growing really quickly. And as more phones become smartphones, it’s just this massive opportunity.”