Show of 3-9-2013

Best of Tech Talk Edition

  • Replaying segments from previous shows.

E mail and Forum Questions

  • Email from Margaret: Dear Dr Shurtz, because U are one of the best IT people I know, I hope to learn if you have a device in your car that gives you heads up when you are approaching a speed camera (mobile or fixed pole) unit? I live in Mont County MD and these devices are multiplying every day. They are a GIGANTIC money machine for MD. Most appreciated, Margaret
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are GPS sensors that use a database of known speed cameras and stop light cameras. These require an annual subscription and you must download the data frequently. They can either use your Smartphone or a GPS Navigation System like Garmin or TomTom. Subscription ranges from $35 to $100 per year. Some are stand alone and do not have an annual subscription. GPS Angel V4E Red Light and Speed Camera Detector include lifetime camera database subscription. It sells for only $60.
  • The second type detects the radar or laser signal emitted by the speed cam. They are used to find speed traps and are illegal is most states. They do not require a database and cannot locate red light detectors.
  • The third option is to put a reflective coating on your license plate that will not allow off axis viewing. A spray can of PhotoBlocker Spray is only $29.
  • The fourth option is not to speed.
  • Email from Maryland Listener:
  • Dear Dr.
  • Richard Shurtz, I just finished gathering and documenting the Business Intelligence Reporting and Analytics requirements for a complex software tool. We will then create a set of BI Reporting and Analytics reports. Then we will then need to provide training for the users. How long would it take for me to master Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) and be able to lead this training. What would be the best method to master this? Most appreciated. Maryland listener.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Reporting Services delivers enterprise, Web-enabled reporting functionality so you can create reports that draw content from a variety of data sources, publish reports in various formats, and centrally manage security and subscriptions. It is an excellent tool if you are using a MS SQL database.
  • If you want to do training you should use SSRS to actually create a report. You will have to learn some basic database theory, including how tables are joined. You will need to have the data dictionary for your database application. Then you should have the tools to need to create the report. If you are only teaching someone of how to use a report, then you simply need to understand the actual reports and how to run and interpret them. This is worth doing.
  • Email from Andrew: Recently I tried to use RoboForm for an account at a large financial institution, but I couldn’t get it to work. In response to my inquiry, this institution said they do not permit log in using credentials that are stored on software because the security of the password could become jeopardized if my computer were hacked, invaded, etc. Is this true? Am I safer not to use RoboForm? Thanks, Andrew
  • Tech Talk Responds: Technically they are correct. However, using a password manager like Roboform is significantly safer than the alternatives most people choose. The real problem is that most people will not do what your bank really wants you to do. The wants you to have a good, strong password and keep it nowhere except in your head. The value of password tools like Roboform and Lastpass make adhering to best practices easier.
  • In my judgment, Roboform and Lastpass are safer than the alternatives. Make your master password strong and do not store it near the computer.
  • Using a password manager allows you to: easily generate and use secure, completely random, and appropriately long passwords without ever needing to type or remember them easily use different passwords on different sites.
  • Email from Ron in Springfield: Dear Tech Talk, I have a home network with three computers (two desktops connected with Ethernet cables to a Linksys router; laptop is wireless). The wireless signal is encrypted and I gave my next-door neighbors my network key so they can wirelessly connect just to check email, do banking, etc. They are not on my home network, but can they still see where I am surfing. Thank, Ron.
  • Tech Talk Responds: If you give someone access to your wireless access point, you have given them access to your home network. I hope you trust them.
    • If you have computers that share files or a printer among themselves, your neighbor may be able to access them.
    • They may be able to sniff your network to detect the traffic. It is no longer encrypted for them.
    • If your neighbor’s computer becomes infected with malware it may propagate to your machines. This is the most serious.
    • They could sap all your bandwidth, if they use peer-to-peer file sharing.
  • To protect yourself, turn on the firewall for each machine on your network. A more secure approach would be use a second router. You want a router between you and your neighbor. You might also get a wireless router specifically designed for this application. In recent years wireless routers have come to market that actually provide two separate wireless connections, one of which is isolated from your local network.
  • There are some legal issues too.
    • It may violate your terms of service with your ISP
    • If they download music of video illegally, you IP address will be identified with the transaction.
  • Email from John in Fairfax: I have an HP OfficeJet 6500 wireless. Sometimes it will not connect to my laptop via Wi-Fi. I’ve gone to HP’s website, downloaded everything I am able to download to help, but I’m still not able to print. The printer’s four to five years old. Does anyone have any advice? Thanks, John.
  • Tech Talk Responds: First, I would clear the print queue in your laptop. You can click on the printer symbol in the tray and bring up the active print jobs. Clear the list. Try printing again. Next, I would reboot the wireless router, the printer, and the laptop. If you still can’t print to the printer, I would uninstall the printer. Reboot the computer and then reinstall the printer.

Profiles in IT: Aaron Levie

  • Aaron Levie is the CEO and co-founder of Box.com to help people access their information from any location.
  • Aaron Levie was born in 1987 in Seattle, Washington.
  • Aaron Levie grew up in Seattle where he attended high school.
  • As a youngster, he spent most of his time in front of computers.
  • He enrolled in the Marshall School of Business at USC.
  • While in college, he had two internships in the film industry with Miramax for 3 months and then with Paramount Pictures for 4 months. He was a file clerk.
  • He realized he wanted to write software to solve the problem of file and data sharing.
  • Levie a SWOT analysis for file and data sharing as part of a marketing class.
  • He found that there were few meaningful services on the market.
  • That’s when Aaron, then a sophomore, decided to build a company to provide this service-technology to the market.
  • Box.com was launched from Aaron’s dorm room in 2005 with the help of CFO Dylan Smith, who was an economics major at Duke.
  • They focused on incorporating the best of traditional content management social business software using cloud computing and storage.
  • The project was then incorporated in April 2005 in Mercer Island, Washington.
  • He raised his first investment funds from Texas Billionaire Mark Cuban.
  • Aaron took a leave of absence from school to work full time on Box. Dylan graduated from Duke before going full time.
  • In the summer of 2006, the company moved to Palo Alto, California. They wanted to be part of the Silicon Valley innovative environment.
  • Box is a SaaS and its core is based around combining the core features of traditional content management with the usability of typical online collaboration software.
  • Box aims to reinvent how businesses share, manage and access all of their content with Cloud Content Management Service.
  • Early investors in the company include VC firms like Andreessen Horowitz, Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), Emergence Capital Partners, Meritech Capital Partners, Scale Venture Partners and U.S. Venture Partners.
  • The last round came from Salesforce and SAP reaching total of $162M since launch.
  • They offered 1GB of space free for every new users using the freemium model.
  • Box provide full professional service for the Businesses/Enterprise space.
  • Employees implement the Box solution with their co-workers, inspiring IT managers and CIOs to sign up the entire Corporation for this service.
  • Box is valued at $600 million and has more than 500 employees.
  • Box has 82% of the Fortune 500s companies ( with over 100K clients and 7M users).
  • Their biggest threat at this time is Google GDrive and Microsoft Skydrive.
  • He has been inspired by Steve Jobs. Search for the simplest solution. Allow the user to bring the technology to the enterprise. Prepare for the post-PC world.
  • The biggest push in cloud storage came from the mobile tablets like iPad.
  • He is featured in the “30 Most Influential Under – 30 CEOs” and INC. Magazine’s “Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30” as well as in Fast Company,
  • Website: www.box.com

Daylight Saving Time – More Than You Wanted to Know

  • On August 8, 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
    • Act changed the time change dates for Daylight Saving Time in the U.S.
    • Beginning in 2007, DST will begin on the second Sunday in March and end the first Sunday in November.
    • The Secretary of Energy will report the impact of this change to Congress.
    • Congress retains the right to resume the 2005 Daylight Saving Time schedule once the Department of Energy study is complete.
  • When does the actual time change occur?
    • In the U.S., clocks change at 2:00 a.m. local time.
    • In spring, clocks spring forward from 1:59 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.; in fall, clocks fall back from 1:59 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
    • Now we “Spring Forward” in Winter instead of Spring.
  • Daylight Saving Time is NOT observed in
    • Hawaii
    • American Samoa
    • Guam
    • Puerto Rico
    • Virgin Islands
    • Arizona
  • The Navajo Nation participates in the Daylight Saving Time policy, even in Arizona, due to its large size and location in three states.

Daylight Saving Time (not Daylight SavingS Time)

  • Saving is used here as a verbal adjective (a participle).
    • It modifies time and tells us more about its nature; namely, that it is characterized by the activity of saving daylight.
    • It is a saving daylight kind of time.
    • Saving is used in the same way as saving a ball game, rather than as a savings account.
  • Many people feel the word savings (with an ‘s’) flows more easily off the tongue.
  • Daylight Savings Time is also in common usage and can be found in dictionaries.
  • Adding to the confusion is that the phrase Daylight Saving Time is inaccurate
    • No daylight is actually saved.
    • Daylight Shifting Time would be better

What about DST computer system updates

  • If you shift the time manually, your system may shift again on April 2nd
  • Microsoft – automatic update six weeks ago
  • Palm – update released a couple weeks ago
  • Blackberry Enterprise Server – must upgrade to 4.0 to get update
  • Phone Systems – may need manual reset

Check Correct Time on the Internet

  • Official Time maintained by NIST
    • National Institute of Standards and Technology
    • Based on Atomic Clock Standard
  • Official Internet time display
  • Official Internet time computer update
    • 0.3 sec accuracy caused by network delays
    • Uses Network Time Protocol (RFC-1305)

Radio Controlled Clock Change to DST Automatically

  • Some manufacturers refer radio controlled clocks as “atomic clocks”, which isn’t true.
  • Atomic clock has an atomic oscillator inside (cesium or rubidium oscillator).
  • A radio controlled clock has a radio inside, which receives a signal that comes from a place where an atomic clock is located.
  • In the United States, the signals received by radio controlled clocks originate from NIST Radio Station WWVB, which is located near Fort Collins, Colorado.
    • WWVB broadcasts on a frequency of 60 kHz.
    • Your radio controlled clock actually has a miniature radio receiver inside, which is permanently tuned to receive the 60 kHz signal.
    • The 60 kHz signal is located in a part of the radio spectrum called LF, which stands for low frequency.
    • The lowest frequency received by any of the other radios in your house is probably 530 kHz, the bottom of the AM broadcast band.
    • Even that frequency is nearly 10 times higher than the WWVB signal.
  • At 60 kHz, there isn’t enough room on the signal (bandwidth) to carry a voice or any type of audio information.
    • All that is sent is a code, which consists of a series of binary digits, or bits, which have only two possible values (0 or 1).
    • Bits are generated at WWVB by raising and lowering the power of the signal.
    • They are sent at a very slow rate of 1 bit per second, and it takes a full minute to send a complete time code
    • When you turn a radio controlled clock on, it will probably miss the first time code, so it usually takes more than one minute to set itself (sometimes 5 minutes or longer) depending on the signal quality and the receiver design.
  • Once your radio controlled clock has decoded the signal from WWVB, it will synchronize its own clock to the message received by radio.
  • Before it does so, it applies a time zone correction, based on the time zone setting that you supplied.

Primary Time and Frequency Standard for United States

  • Cesium Fountain Clock (NIST-F1)
    • Developed at the NIST laboratories in Boulder, Colorado.
    • The uncertainty of NIST-F1 is continually improving.
    • In 2000 the uncertainty was about 1 x 10-15
    • In Summer of 2005, the uncertainty had been reduced to about 5 x 10-16
    • Neither gain nor lose a second in more than 60 million years
  • How Does An Atomic Clock Work?
    • NIST-F1 is referred to as a fountain clock because it uses a fountain-like movement of atoms to measure frequency and time interval.
    • First, a gas of cesium atoms is introduced into the clock’s vacuum chamber.
    • Six infrared laser beams then are directed at right angles to each other at the center of the chamber.
    • The lasers gently push the cesium atoms together into a ball.
    • In the process of creating this ball, the lasers slow down the movement of the atoms and cool them to temperatures near absolute zero.
    • Two vertical lasers are used to gently toss the ball upward (the “fountain” action), and then all of the lasers are turned off.
    • Under the influence of gravity, the ball then falls back down through the microwave cavity.
    • The round trip up and down through the microwave cavity lasts for about 1 second. During the trip, the atomic states of the atoms might or might not be altered as they interact with the microwave signal.
    • When their trip is finished, another laser is pointed at the atoms.
    • Those atoms whose atomic state were altered by the microwave signal emit light (a state known as fluorescence).
    • The photons, or the tiny packets of light that they emit, are measured by a detector.
    • This process is repeated many times while the microwave signal in the cavity is tuned to different frequencies.
    • Eventually, a microwave frequency is found that alters the states of most of the cesium atoms and maximizes their fluorescence.
    • This frequency is the natural resonance frequency of the cesium atom (9,192,631,770 Hz), or the frequency used to define the second.

Food Science: Herbs and Spices

  • What is the difference between a spice and an herb?
    • Spice is the ground up part of a plant. Spices are usually the dried flowers or fruits of tropical trees and shrubs. There are exceptions; ginger and turmeric are roots and cinnamon is the cambium or inner bark of a tree.
    • Herbs are the dried leaves of plants – usually annuals or perennials. So herbs are green. Herbs can either be freshly picked or dried and stored in airtight containers. Drying tends to mellow the flavor and is favored by some chefs.
  • What we detect when we smell herbs or spices is the essential oils they contain. It is the volatility of the oil that makes the spice fragrant. And it is that same volatility that causes it to lose flavor in storage.
    • When a spice is stored in big chunks it takes some time for the volatile oils to escape.
    • Think first of nutmeg – a nutmeg nut stored properly will be spicy for years. But when the spice is ground into tiny bits the essential oils come out quickly.
    • We keep them whole as long as possible to lock in the flavor.
    • Then we grind them to release the lovely flavor and fragrance just before eating.
  • Cilantro and Coriander
    • The plant Coriandrum sativum, the leaves are used as the herb cilantro while the seed is used as the spice coriander.
  • Nutmeg and Mace
    • In the case of nutmeg and mace, the two are separate parts of the fruit of a tree that grows in only a few places in the world. Nutmeg is the seed and mace is the reddish web that surrounds the seed.
  • Bay Leaf
    • Bay Leaves come from the sweet bay or laurel tree.
    • Ancient Greeks and Romans crowned victors with wreaths of laurel.
    • Bay Leaves, a staple in American kitchens, are used in soups, stews, meat and vegetable dishes. The leaves also flavor classic French dishes such as bouillabaisse and bouillon.
    • The term “baccalaureate,” means laurel berry, and refers to the ancient practice of honoring scholars and poets with garlands from the bay laurel tree.
    • Romans felt the leaves protected them against thunder and the plague.
    • Later, Italians and the English thought Bay Leaves brought good luck and warded off evil.
  • Basil (Sweet)
    • Basil is a bright green, leafy plant, Ocimum basilicum, which is in the mint family.
    • Basil is widely used in Italian cuisine and is often paired with tomatoes.
    • Basil originated in India and Persia, and was both prized and despised by ancient peoples.
    • Though its name means, “be fragrant,” Greeks hated it.
    • However, the Romans loved it and made it a symbol of love and fertility.
    • Hindus plant it in their homes to bring happiness to the family.
  • Saffron
    • Saffron is the stigma of Crocus sativus, a flowering plant in the crocus family.
    • Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, is costly because more than 225,000 stigmas must be hand picked to produce one pound.
    • Saffron is used in French bouillabaisse, Spanish paella, Milanese risotto, and many Middle Eastern dishes.
    • Ancient Greeks and Romans scattered Saffron to perfume public baths.
    • The 13th century Crusaders brought Saffron from Asia to Europe, where it was used as a dye and condiment.
    • In Asia, Saffron was a symbol of hospitality.
    • In India, people used Saffron to mark themselves as members of a wealthy caste.