Show of 10-31-2015

Tech Talk

31 October 2015

Best of Tech Talk Edition
  • Segments replayed from previous shows
Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Christie in Atlanta: Dear Doc and Jim. A friend of mine has a computer infected by ransomware. He can’t read his data. It has been encrypted and he has to pay to get to get it restored. How can I decrypt files encrypted by ransomware? Enjoy the podcast from Atlanta. Christie.
  • Tech Talk Responds: The news is not good. It’s nearly impossible to decrypt files encrypted by ransomware
  • This is a type of malware most often referred to as “ransomware“. Hackers encrypt your files and then hold them hostage for ransom. The technology they use is good. It’s called “public key encryption“, and it really is one of the cornerstones of internet security. A file encrypted using public key cryptography is essentially uncrackable, unless you have the matching private key. It’s essentially impossible to decrypt files encrypted by ransomware without their private key.
  • Prevention before the fact is the only guaranteed peace of mind.
    • Avoid malware, phishing schemes, and all the other ways that hackers get ransomware on to your machine.
    • Have appropriate security software installed, running, and up to date.
    • Back up regularly.
  • The most reliable solution to recovering files encrypted by ransomware is to restore them from a backup taken before the ransomware took hold. 
  • If you don’t have a complete image backup of your machine, but do have your data backed, recovery is possible. Take an image backup of the infected machine to preserve a copy of the machine in its current state, in case it becomes necessary and possible to recover something from it in the future. Wipe the hard drive and do a clean install and then restore your data.
  • Should you pay? If you do, there is no guarantee that they’ll follow through. Their criminals. If the data is valuable and you have no backup, you may have to.
  • Email from Ngoc in Ohio: Dear Tech Talk. I am thinking of changing jobs and wondered about using LinkedIn as a way to search for jobs and connect with potential employers. What is your experience at Stratford with LinkedIn? Is is worth it or will I just get inundated with lots of spam. Love the show her Ohio. Ngoc.
  • Tech Talk Responds: LinkedIn in an excellent idea. I would first make certain that you have a well written profile, one that highlights your skill set. You might upload some of the projects that you are able to share. I would then start connecting with people you know. I would join some of the groups in LinkedIn that relate to your field. You should ask the connections who know you well to write a recommendation for your profile. These recommendations carry a lot of weight because they are linked with the profile of the person who wrote them. This may take some time. Then  I would use the LinkedIn search tools to locate jobs. I may also look on the forums because jobs are frequently posted there. This is a great way to connect with a future employer. We recommend it to all of our students.
  • Email from June in Burke: Dear Tech Talk. I would like to play music from my MP3 file collection in the car. I have both a Bluetooth audio system so I can connect my phone, but I don’t have much memory left on my iPhone. I only have 16G. What would you suggest?
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can connect to your car audio system in two ways: Bluetooth and USB. I would copy all your MP3s to a thumb drive and plug that into the USB port of your car. You can then set you audio system to have a USB input and you are all set. I had a similar problem and I simply subscribed to Pandora so I stream all of my music to the car audio system using Bluetooth. I pay $7 per month to have ad free listening.
  • Email from Ian in Greenbelt: Dear Doc and Jim. I am having a problem with the photos on my iPhone. I am using iCloud on my laptop, my Apple TV, and my iPhone. All my cell phone pictures automatically sync with my other devices and they even show up on the screen saver on my Apple TV. I am having trouble deleting some of these pictures. How can delete picture easily and quickly. Love the show. Ian in Greenbelt
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can delete any photo on your iPhone by open the photo and deleting it. Then you must open the Photos app and open the Recently Deleted Album and delete from that folder to permanently delete it. We will take a while for these changes to propagate to all of your devices. If you want to delete from your Apple TV. Open the iCloud app and open the picture you want to delete. Hold the select button down until the Delete window comes up. Select delete. You can also log onto your iCloud account using a web browser and delete a photo, as well as, the recently deleted instance. If you want your iCloud account secure, I would enable two factor authentications. Too many people have had their accounts hacked.
  • Email from Betty in Oakton: Dear Doc and Jim. I switched from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice a few years ago. Apart from the cost, I was frustrated in getting macros to do what I wanted. When I found out about the LibreOffice development, I decided to ignore it. Now I am told that LibreOffice is better. I have invested a lot of time in becoming familiar with OpenOffice Basic. Should I switch to Libre or is it time to go back to Microsoft? I like Windows 10 and have a Windows phone. IWhat do you recommend? Love the show. Betty in Oakton
  • Tech Talk Responds: LibreOffice is a forked version of OpenOffice. The two suites are still very close, and LibreOffice includes OpenOffice Basic. However, I expect them to diverge, because Apache OpenOffice will not be able to keep up with the speed of LibreOffice’s development. 
  • OpenOffice was born when Sun Microsystems bought Star Office, and made it open source. Much of the programming was done by Sun staff, and open source contributors were obliged to give Sun rights to use their code in its commercial version of Star Office. Dissatisfaction with Sun eventually prompted most of the open-source developers – along with backers such as Novell, Red Hat, and Canonical – to defect, and they forked the code to create LibreOffice.
  • Sun Microsystems was taken over by Oracle. After LibreOffice came out, Oracle released one version of Oracle Open Office before dropping the project. It gave the code and trademarks to the Apache Software Foundation, under Apache’s liberal open source license.
  • Because of licensing differencs, LibreOffice can take code from Apache OpenOffice, but Apache OpenOffice can’t take code from LibreOffice.
  • Whether you should go back to Microsoft Office is another matter. It offers many advantages in being both more powerful and easier to use. It also has more applications (there are no open-source equivalents to OneNote and Outlook, for example), and is compatible with the vast majority of the world’s documents. But if you have found that OpenOffice meets your needs, these must not be very important to you.
Profiles in IT: Jack St. Clair Kilby
  • Jack St. Clair Kilby invented the integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments. He is also the inventor of the handheld calculator.
  • Jack Kilby was born November 8, 1923 in Jefferson City, Missouri.
  • He grew up in Great Bend, Kansas, and graduated from Great Bend High School.
  • Kilby received a BSEE degree in 1947 from the University of Illinois.
  • He received an MSEE in 1950 from University of Wisconsin while at Centralab in Milwaukee.
  • Kilby was hired by Texas Instruments in 1958.
  • He was assigned to work on transistor circuit design problem that was commonly called the “tyranny of numbers because of the large number of interconnects.
  • In July 1958, when most employees left for the traditional two-week vacation period, Kilby — as a new employee with no vacation — stayed to man the shop.
  • It was in a relatively deserted laboratory at TI’s brand new Semiconductor Building where Jack Kilby first hit on the idea of the integrated circuit.
  • He came to the conclusion that manufacturing the circuit components in mass in a single piece of semiconductor material could provide a solution.
  • During the summer of that year working with borrowed and improvised equipment, he conceived and built the first electronic circuit in which all of the components, both active and passive, were fabricated in a single piece of semiconductor material half the size of a paper clip.
  • The successful laboratory demonstration of that first simple microchip on September 12, 1958, made history. The first circuit was a simple oscillator.
  • A patent for a “Solid Circuit made of Germanium”, was filed on February 6, 1959.
  • In March, 1959, Robert Noyce, co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor, developed a silicon integrated circuit. Some view Noyce a co-inventor of the IC. Noyce co- founded Intel in 1968.
  • Fairchild and TI cross-licensed their patents.
  • But while the U.S. Air Force showed some interest in TI’s integrated circuit, industry reacted skeptically.
  • The integrated circuit first won a place in the military market through programs such as the first computer using silicon chips for the Air Force in 1961 and the Minuteman Missile in 1962.
  • Recognizing the need for a “demonstration product” to speed widespread use of the IC, Patrick E. Haggerty, former TI chairman, challenged Kilby to design a calculator as powerful as the large, electro-mechanical desktop models of the day, but small enough to fit in a coat pocket.
  • The resulting electronic hand-held calculator, of which Kilby is a co-inventor, successfully commercialized the integrated circuit.
  • From 1978 to 1985, he was Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University.
  • In 1983, Kilby retired from Texas Instruments.
  • He received the Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of the integrated circuit in December 2000.
  • Kilby died June 20, 2005 when he was 81, in Dallas, Texas
Geek or Nerd?
  • Are you a geek, or are you a nerd? Here’s your chance to find out.
  • There are many confused lay people out there in today’s modern world who are unhappily unaware of the difference between geeks and nerds.
  • Even more sadly, there are also many geeks and nerds who do not know of the true nature of their own stereotype.
  • Wikiepedia Definitions
    • Geek: A person who is interested in technology, especially computing and new media. Comparable with the classic definition of hacker. Formerly referred to a wild circus performer who bit off the heads of live chickens, snakes, or bats.
    • Nerd: Nerd is a term often bearing a derogatory connotation or stereotype, that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities or esoteric knowledge rather than engaging in more social activities, such as organized sports.
  • Geek is a subset of nerd.
    • All geeks are nerds
    • All nerds are not geeks
Profiles in IT: Robert Norton Noyce and Gordon Earle Moore
  • Noyce and Moore are co-founders on Intel.
  • Noyce is nicknamed the Mayor of Silicon Valley
  • Moore is creator of Moore’s Law, first published in Electronics Magazine in 1965.
  • Robert Norton Noyce was born December 12, 1927 in Burlington, Iowa.
    • Noyce received a BA in physics from Grinnell College in 1949 and a PhD in physics form MIT in 1953.
    • While a student at Grinnell College, Noyce stole a pig from a nearby farmer for a college luau and then slaughtered it in Clark Hall, a prank that almost led to his expulsion.
    • He joined William Shockley at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory division of Beckman Instruments, but left with the “Traitorous Eight” to create the influential Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation.
    • While at Fairchild, Noyce independently invented the integrated circuit in Silicon, some six month after Jack Kilby invented the IC in Germanium at TI.
    • Noyce died from heart failure in 1990, aged 62.
  • Gordon Earle Moore was born January 3, 1929 in San Francisco, CA.
    • He received a BS degree in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in 1950 and a PhD in Physics and Chemistry from Caltech in 1954.
    • He joined Caltech alumnus William Shockley at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory division of Beckman Instruments and was part of “Traitorous Eight” who formed Fairchild.
  • Noyce and Moore founded Intel in 1968 when they left Fairchild Semiconductor.
    • To obtain start-up capital, Noyce and Moore approached Arthur Rock, a venture capitalist, with a one-page business plan simply stating their intention of developing large-scale integrated circuits.
    • Rock, who helped fund Fairchild, provided $3 million.
    • At its founding, Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce wanted to name their new company “Moore Noyce”. The name, however, sounded remarkably similar to “more noise.”
    • The company was incorporated on July 18, 1968, as N M Electronics (the letters standing for Noyce Moore), but quickly changed its name to Intel, formed from the first syllables of “integrated electronics.”
    • Intel gathered another $2 million in capital before going public in 1971.
  • Noyce is nicknamed the Mayor of Silicon Valley.
  • Moore is creator of Moore’s Law, first published in Electronics Magazine in 1965.
  • Within a few months of its startup, Intel produced the 3101 Schottky bipolar memory, a high-speed random access memory (RAM) chip.
  • A year later Intel introduced the a 1-kB dynamic RAM, or DRAM, which was the first chip large enough to store a significant amount of information.
  • In 1971 Intel introduced the 4004, the world’s first microprocessor, which had been produced as a calculator chip the Japanese company Busicom.
  • The 4004, which crammed 2,300 transistors onto a one-eighth- by one-sixth-inch chip, had the power of the ENIAC computer, which used 38,000 vacuum tubes.
  • Intel changed focus from memory to processor chips and the rest is history.
Space Elevator
  • The Space Elevator Conference is being held in Seattle, Washington, this weekend.
  • The primary goal of this conference is to get technical people together to talk about the technical barriers to deployment. The secondary goal is to raise public awareness. The third goal is to showcase a breakthrough.
  • They are always hoping that someone will show up with a carbon nanotube ribbon that is strong enough to build a space elevator. Carbon nanotubes are the main structure they’re experimenting with to build space elevators. They are constructed of interlinking carbon atoms, rolled into a cylinder, and make incredibly lightweight, strong and flexible structures.
  • Carbon nanotubes also have very high-strength properties. Large scale carbon nanotubes might take 50 more years. Since they were invented in 1991, that would put us at 2041.
  • The biggest fear of the conference goers is that funding will be cut because of austerity measures.
  • Space elevators are important because they would drop the cost of space access by a factor of 10. The problem with taking people up is that elevators, as we conceive of them now, move pretty slowly, and getting through radiation belts in short periods of time would require higher-speed elevators.
  • Hopefully, larger space elevators would not just be faster, but the larger elevator capacity would have climbers that are shielded so humans inside are shielded, so we can start to introduce people into the elevator equation.
  • I love this kind of research. It is really science fiction personified.