Show of 09-19-2015

Tech Talk

September 19, 2015

Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Tina in Ohio: Dear Tech Talk. I am trying to scan some old photographs for digital storage and am getting confused by the terminology. Please explain the relationship between bytes (resolution), pixels (understood as size), and dpi (e.g. 300 dpi resolution for scanning purposes) Thanks for your help. Tina. Enjoy the show here in Ohio.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Let’s start with the simplest idea. Pixel is short for Picture Element and it represents a dot in a digitally stored picture. Computer display devices, like the screen on which you’re reading this, are composed of nothing but a rectangle of dots – so many to each horizontal line, and so many lines. For example, my laptop screen has 1,200 rows of pixels with 1,920 pixels in each row. If you multiple that together, you get over 2.3 million pixels, or 2.3 megapixels. A camera may have images that are 4,288 by 2,848 pixels, or a little over 12 megapixels. 
  • To figure out image size, we need one more fact. Each pixel has color, which is represented by three numbers (red, green, blue). If we allow each color to have 255 distinct levels, it takes on byte (8 bits) for each color. Thus each pixel is three bytes in size. Thus a 12 megapixel camera would require 36 MB for each picture uncompressed. This is just the number of pixels times the bytes per pixel.
  • You can compress this file using several methods. JPG format is an example of a lossy compression format; when the file is saved, the user can select the quality of the image. PNG is a good example of a loss-less image compression format.
  • Remember that pixels are dots, so when we talk about dot per inch, we’re really talking about how tightly packed the pixels are when they’re displayed or scanned.
  • For example, many LCD displays present around 75 pixels (or dots) per inch. It actually varies widely, depending on the physical size of the screen, the maximum resolution capability, and the resolution setting. The “Retina” display on Apple’s MacBook Pro currently distinguishes itself by having an exceptionally high DPI: 220 pixels per inch. Printers often offer 300 pixels per inch, and professional printing may go as high as 600 or 1200 pixels per inch.
  • You can resize the image for that target use. Make it as big as necessary for that use, but no bigger. Want your picture to be around five inches on screen? Then around 400 pixels wide is a great start. Five inches on paper? Then maybe 1500 pixels wide. 
  • Email form Mai Lynn in Oakton: Dear Doc and Jim. My Android has been infected with ransomware and I don’t know what to do. Please help me. Love the show. Mai Lynn in Oakton.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Mai Lynn, there is an aggressive ransomware spreading in the US. Simplocker was the first Android ransomware to actually encrypt user files. A new ransomware has been found that resets the PIN lock. In the new Android ransom-lockers, Lockerpin.A, users have no effective way of regaining access to their device without root privileges or without some other form of security management solution installed, apart from a factory reset. 
  • In the latest versions, the Trojan obtains Device Administrator rights with a clever ploy. The activation window is overlaid with the Trojan’s malicious window pretending to be an “Update patch installation”. As the victims click through this innocuous-looking installation they also unknowingly activate the Device Administrator privileges in the hidden underlying window. Not long after making this mistake, the user will be prompted to pay a $US500 ransom for allegedly viewing and harboring forbidden pornographic material. The only practical way to unlock is to reset to factory defaults – if device is not rooted. The device is now permanently locked and it’s impossible to unlock it without root privileges.
  • You can protect yourself from this Trojan by only installing properly vetted applications. Don’t install apps from third party markets, warez forums or torrents. Finally, Tech Talk strongly advises to your Antivirus software up-to-date.
  • Email from Alice in Alexandria: Dear Tech Talk. I recently downloaded iOS9. I have heard that it includes ad blockers, but I can find anyway to activate this service. How can I use it? Love the show. Alice in Alexandria
  • Tech Talk Responds: With iOS 9, Apple introduced what they’re calling “Content Blockers”. These function primarily as ad blockers, but they can also be used to block tracking data if you’re concerned about privacy. Once installed, they’ll block ads, tracking attempts, and more. These only work in Safari and only on 64-bit iOS devices (so the 5s and newer, iPad Air and newer, and iPad Mini 2 and newer).
  • While lots of mobile ads are obnoxious, please remember that ads are how sites like us make enough money to run. So unless you want to see all your favorite sites go out of business, whitelist the sites you like.
  • Content blockers aren’t enabled by default, and they take two steps to set up. Download your content blocker of choice from the iTunes App Store. Open Settings > Safari > Content Blockers and enable the blocker you installed.
  • Here are a couple of ad bloc programs (Blockr and Purity). The best ad block, Peace, was withdrawn from the app store after a few days. The author had a change of heart.
  • Blockr (99¢) is a content blocker has a few optional settings. It has individual toggles to block ads, media (like images or video), cookies, social buttons, and a more general privacy button. You can also easily add sites to a whitelist. Blockr’s powered by its own ad blocking list. I am using Blockr
  • Purify ($3.99) gives you toggles for ads, images, scripts, and fonts, while letting you whitelist any sites you want. Purify doesn’t list where it gets it ad blocking list from, but its list seems pretty extensive so far.
Profiles in IT: Jeffrey Adgate Dean
  • Jeffrey Adgate Dean is the programmers behind Google’s scalable architecture. He is a programming legend within Google and treated as a rock star.
  • Jeff Dean was born in 1968.
  • In 1990, he received a BS  in Computer Science from University of Minnesota
  • He received an MS and a PhD in Computer Science from University of Washington in 1993 and 1996, respectively.
  • While in graduate school, he invented several new techniques for optimizing object-oriented languages, many of which are now in commercial C++ and Java compilers. 
  • In September 1996, he joined DEC/Compaq’s Western Research Laboratory, where he worked on profiling tools, microprocessor architecture, and information retrieval.
  • In February 1999, he became a Senior Member of Technical Staff at mySimon, Inc, where he developed a system for retrieving and caching electronic commerce content including a crawler and custom full-text indexing system, increasing speed 20X.
  • In August 1999, was hired by Google as employee number 20 and is currently a Google Senior Fellow in the Systems Infrastructure Group. 
  • He was co-designer and co-implementer of five successive generations of Google’s crawling indexing and query retrieval systems.
  • He was co-designer and implementer of the initial version of Google’s advertising serving system.
  • He was co-designer and implementer of MapReduce, a system for large-scale data processing applications on large clusters of machines.
  • He was co-designer and implementer of BigTable, a large-scale semi-structured storage system used underneath approximately 50 Google products.
  • He was designer and developer of the initial version of Google’s AdSense for Content product involving both the production serving system as well as work on developing and improving the quality of ad selection algorithms based on the contents of pages. 
  • He was co-designer and implementer of many aspects of the production system design for Google Translate, a statistical machine translation system.
  • He was co-designer and implementer of Spanner, a large-scale globally distributed storage system used for several important products at Google.
  • He was co-designer and implementer of system for large-scale distributed neural network training. System has been used to make significant improvements in image understanding, speech recognition and natural language processing applications.
  • He was co-founder and leader of Google’s deep learning, including Google Brain
  • He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2009, which recognized his work on large-scale distributed computer systems.
  • He received the ACM-Infosys Foundation Award (2012)
  • Jeff was granted 1% in Google equity, which is worth $4.5B today (September 2015).
Battle of Titans: Controlling the Internet
  • In ancient times, Greek and Roman Gods battles near Mount Olympus
  • Theirs was the original Battle of The Titans.
  • In the modern era, Silicon Valley has become the New Mount Olympus.
  • Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon are waging the New Battle of the Titans.
  • Each wants to control ad delivery on the Internet.
  • Each wants to create a walled garden that keeps Internet users contained
  • The winner of this epic battle will control the Internet.
Stratford’s Offers CISSP, CISA, CEH Cyber Security Workshops
  • Stratford is offering CISSP, CISA, and CEH certification courses.
    • CISSP — Certified Information Systems Security Professional
    • CISA — Certified Information Systems Auditor
    • CEH — Certified Ethical Hacker
  • Stratford has partnered with KeyCybersecurity, to offer CISSP, CISA and CEH training and certification courses. 
  • Stratford’s Center of Excellence provides hands on experience, with state of the art security solutions like HeurekaCyber CyberArmor. 
  • Call us or visit us on the web at http://www.stratford.edu/cyber.
Presidential Candidates and Social Media
  • The 2016 presidential race is inherently different from the 2012 contest.
  • Early campaigning on social media has never been so intense, with candidates turning to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to engage supporters.
    • Donald Trump (8M followers, 20.8M actions)
    • Ben Carson (3.3M followers, 5.7M actions)
    • Bernie Sanders (1.9M followers, 9.2M actions)
    • Hillary Clinton (8.8M followers, 5.7M actions)
    • Huckabee (2.2M followers, 7.9M actions)
    • Cruz (6.6M followers, 1.9M actions)
    • Paul (2.8M followers, 4.5 M actions)
Tor’s Anonymity Network Around the World
  • The anonymity software Tor is nearly ten years old and still growing.
  • Onionview is a web-based project that counts and tracks the geographic location of Tor nodes, the volunteer computers that bounce encrypted traffic around the web to offer Tor users anonymity.
  • Onionview also makes it possible to compare which countries host the largest chunks of the Tor network. 
  • Despite Tor’s origins as a research project at the US Navy and later at MIT, privacy-loving Germany has overtaken the US in total nodes, with France, the Netherlands, and Russia coming close behind. Here’s a breakdown of the nodes by country:
    • Germany: 1,364
    • United States: 1,328
    • France: 714
    • Netherlands: 472
    • Russia: 270
    • United Kingdom: 261
    • Sweden: 210
    • Canada: 209
    • Switzerland: 148
    • Romania: 117
  • Five years ago, the network consisted of less than 2,000 nodes, compared with 6,425 today.
  • Onionview link: https://onionview.com/
Ig Nobel awards for Silly Science
  • Ig Nobel Awards were first given in 1991. 
  • Each year the ceremony is held at Harvard University to offer awards for the most ridiculous scientific discoveries with practical applications. 
  • Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded for achievements that first make people laugh, then make them think.
  • The ceremony also features an event called the 24/7 Lectures, in which several of the world’s top thinkers each explains her or his subject twice — once in 24 seconds, and once in seven words.
  • Here are a few of the awards
  • PHYSICS PRIZE —for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds).
  • LITERATURE PRIZE —for discovering that the word “huh?” (or its equivalent) seems to exist in every human language.
  • MEDICINE PRIZE — for experiments to study the biomedical benefits or biomedical consequences of intense kissing (and other interpersonal activities).
  • BIOLOGY PRIZE — for observing that when you attach a weighted stick to the rear end of a chicken, the chicken then walks in a manner similar to that in which dinosaurs are thought to have walked.
  • PHYSIOLOGY and ENTOMOLOGY PRIZE —for determining the effect of bee stings on the body, from the least painful (the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm) to the most painful (the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft).
eBay is 20 Years Old This Month
  • eBay has now been operating for two decades.
  • Software developer Pierre Omidyar founded AuctionWeb on September 3, 1995. It was rebranded as eBay two years later.
  • The first sale was a broken laser pointer, which changed hands for a whopping $14.83. When Omidyar asked the buyer if he was aware that the item was broken, the response was: “I am a collector of broken laser pointers.”
  • Three years after the site launched, eBay claimed one million registered users and was floated on the NASDAQ. Six years after that, in 2004, the company claimed 100 million users.
  • eBay bought PayPal for $1.4 billion in 2002. However, PayPal’s growth was stymied somewhat under eBay, and it was split off as a separate company in 2015
  • eBay now has 35,000 employees and claimed $18 billion in revenue last year.
  • It has 25 million sellers and a community of 157 million people, with more than 800 million items on sale at any given time. 
  • It is notable that two of the early ecommerce pioneers — eBay and Amazon — both celebrate two decades in business this year. 
Cloud Computer – How We Got Here
  • In 1947, researchers at the University of Manchester developed the “Manchester Baby”, the world’s first stored program computer. With its limited functionality and its vast size (over 17 feet in length) the Manchester Baby is almost unrecognizable from the computers we know today, yet it played a pivotal role in their development.
  • The introduction of “packet switching” at the National Physical Laboratory in the 1960s allowed multiple individuals to use a network at the same time by breaking information down into smaller chunks – or “packets”. This laid the foundations for the Internet and the sharing of resources.
  • The first large-scale packet switching network, the ARPANET is considered the first Internet. In 1973 sites in Norway and the UK connected to the ARPANET, marking the first ever international network, later dubbed the Internet.
  • Hardware advances in the 1970s meant that computers became smaller and more affordable. The Apple II computer launched in 1977 and went on to sell between five and six million units over its lifetime.
  • The 1980s was the decade when computers truly became ‘mainstream’. The IBM Personal Computer was launched in 1981, and by 1982, one was sold every minute of the working day.
  • In 1991, The World Wide Web was developed by CERN employee, Tim Berners-Lee. The World Wide Web has gone on to become one of the most valuable resources in the history of humankind. Without the Web and its now huge user base, the ecosystem for cloud computing would not exist.
  • In 1996, George Favaloro and Sean O’Sullivan, executives at Compaq Computer, first referred to the term “Cloud Computing” in their business plan. This is the first known use of the term.
  • In the early 2000s, the Dot-Com Bubble reaches its peak and bursts. This caused businesses to re-think how they used the Internet to deliver services. Combined with the growing demands of Big Data, this provided the perfect conditions for cloud computing to thrive.
  • By the end of the 2000s, the smartphone revolution means that everyone has access to the Cloud.
  • Since 2010, the Cloud is on center stage, with companies such as Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Spotify all relying heavily on the Cloud.
  • Worldwide spending on Cloud services was estimated to be at $47 billion in 2013.
  • Previous concerns surrounding the security of Cloud Computing have begun to diminish, and this has seen companies around the world move parts, or all of their business, to the Cloud.
  • The market for Cloud services is predicted to double by 2017, being valued at around $108 billion.
Memory Lane: Internet in a Box
  • Internet in a Box (IBox) was one of the first commercially available Internet connection software packages available for sale to the public. 
  • Spry, Inc. produced the package, as well as started up a commercial Internet service provider (ISP) called InterServ.
  • The IBox software included the Winsock and TCP/IP stack that were needed to connect a computer running Microsoft Windows to the Internet in 1994.
  • The IBox package also included a licensed copy of the NCSA Mosaic web browser called AIR Mosaic, AIR Mail (an email client), AIR News (an NNTP news client), AIR Telnet, AIR Gopher, and an FTP Network File Manager.
  • Combined with InterServ’s dial-up access, Internet in a Box provided a complete solution for members of the general public to access the Internet.
  • Ed Krol’s ‘Whole Internet User’s Guide and Catalog’ (US-1993) was included.
  • Spry, Inc. was a small software company headed up by David Pool in Seattle, Washington. Spry was the first company licensing the Mosaic’s source code
  • In 1995 CompuServe bought Spry, Inc. for $100 million in cash and stock of H&R Block (the parent company of CompuServe).