Show of 9-8-2007

  • Email and Forum
    • Dr. Shurtz, Why doesn’t the government stay out of the Internet business. They don’t even know how to operate themselves. Arnie McKechnie.
    • Tech Talk answers: Fragmentation of the net both in terms of top level domain politics (which we will cover next week) and bandwidth management are a concern. Trying to encourage infrastructure investment and maintaining equal access is a challenge.
  • Profiles in IT: William Yeager
    • Yeager developed the first multi-protocol router software in around 1980.
    • He was born in 1940. He received his BS in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1964; his MS in mathematics from San Jose State University in 1966; and his PhD from University of Washington in 1970.
    • Yeager, an engineer at Stanford University, was charged with linking these devices in the engineering and computer science networks across the campus. The Stanford Network included DEC10 Systems, a number of Xerox PARC Lisp machines, Altos file servers and printers, DEC VAXs, Texas Instruments’ Explorers and Symbolic systems. These devices were spread all over campus.
    • The router development began in the latter part of 1980. He developed a network operating system (NOS) for the router on a DEC PDP11/05. The PDP11/05 only had 56KB of user memory, and was diskless. Memory allocation algorithms and buffer management were essential.
    • He spent an entire summer making sure the NOS scheduling and packet-switching algorithms were optimal. He had the basic systems working in about three months. The first router was place in Pine Hall in 1981.
    • Initially, the code routed Parc Universal Packet (PUP) for the Xerox PARC systems and mainframes. In 1982, he added TCP/IP, so it became a multi-protocol router. By 1983, the box supported XNS, Xerox Networking System and CHOASnet for the TI Explorer. Now multi-protocol EtherTIP routing code was complete.
    • In 1984, he later ported the system to the 68000 boards (256KB RAM) developed by Andy Bechtolsheim, a EE Stanford student. He then added 3Com Ethernet boards. Bechtolsheim, went on to co-found Sun, where he is chief scientist. Yeager completed the router development in 1985.
    • According to Yeager, in the spring of 1985, Len Bosak, the director of Stanford’s Computer Science Department, asked if he could have access to sources for the router code in order "to improve it."
    • Bosak and Sandy Lerner, who also worked at Stanford, had secretly incorporated Cisco Systems in 1984. They used the source code as the basis of the first Cisco IOS.
    • When Stanford personnel found out about Cisco, Bosak and Lerner were forced to leave Stanford. In 1987, Stanford legal forced them to pay $100K in royalties. (1/3 to the school, 1/3 to the department, 1/3 to the inventor). Yeager gave is 1/3 back to the department. Stanford was offered equity in Cisco, but the offer turned it down as a matter of policy.
    • According to Sandy Lerner, co-founder of Cisco, ?Stanford was holding the technology hostage, and that’s why we started the company.”
    • Yeager left Stanford after 20 years for Sun to work IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) e-mail interface. He created an IMAP server and client while at Sun.
  • US Backing Two-tier Internet
    • The US Justice Department has said that internet service providers should be allowed to charge for priority traffic. DOJ said it was opposed to "network neutrality", where all data on the net is treated equally. The comments were submitted to the FCC.
    • Companies like Microsoft and Google support access to the net.
    • Several US internet service providers (ISPs), including AT&T and Verizon, have previously said that they want to charge some users more money for certain content.
    • This has particularly become an issue with the rise of TV and film download services.
    • A similar debate is ongoing in the UK.
    • The Justice Department said imposing net neutrality regulations could hinder development of the internet and prevent ISPs from upgrading networks. The agency said net neutrality could also shift the "entire burden of implementing costly network expansions and improvements onto consumers".
    • The agency’s stance is contrary to much of the internet community that believes in an open model for the internet.
    • Net neutrality advocates argue that a two-tier internet would allow broadband providers to become gatekeepers to the web’s content.
    • Providers that can pay will be able to get a commercial advantage over those that cannot, they say. In particular, there is a fear that institutions like universities and charities would suffer.
  • Astronomers Love Google Sky
    • Google Sky in Google Earth debuted two week ago.
    • For Google Sky’s Aug. 22 launch, Professor Geoffrey Marcy and his international planet hunting team provided Google with coordinates of all the stars with known planets – more than 200 planets around nearly as many stars.
    • This week, Google posted on its Web site another layer of information users can add to their personal sky: real-time updates on new objects that flash in the heavens.
    • Google Sky has become a powerful tool for the public and in the classroom," said Joshua Bloom, an assistant professor of astronomy who employed Sky in his opening lecture last week to an introductory astronomy class at UC Berkeley.
    • Bloom and his colleagues at the California Institute of Technology and Los Alamos National Laboratory build the infrastructure that allows satellites and telescopes to send astronomers (and now Google) real-time information on newly discovered objects in the sky. Google is updated every 15 minutes.
    • Google seems pleased by astronomers’ response to its platform for sharing astronomical data.
    • At launch, Sky in Google Earth allowed users to navigate the sky to find hundreds of millions of stars, to view Hubble Space Telescope images of galaxies and nebulae, to focus in on star fields mapped by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and to display the constellations, moon and planets.
    • Sky in Google Earth provides one way astronomers and the public can see now the amazing objects being discovered daily by telescopes and orbiting satellites.
  • Global Web Statistics
    • Source: http://www.w3counter.com/
    • Web Browsers
      • Internet Explorer 6.0 47.01%
      • Internet Explorer 7.0 19.19%
      • Firefox 2.0 17.51%
    • Operating Systems
      • Windows XP 83.48%
      • Windows 2000 3.94%
      • Mac OS X 3.73%
      • Windows Vista 3.46%
      • Linux 1.34%
    • Internet Traffic
      • United States 30.77%
      • Germany 7.39%
      • United Kingdom 5.75%
      • Latvia 4.01%
      • Canada 3.46%
      • France 3.12%
  • Software Freedom Day
    • Software Freedom Day is Saturday, September 15th.
    • Its vision is to empower all people to freely connect, create and share in a digital world that is participatory, transparent, and sustainable.
    • Sponsored by Software Freedom International
    • Partners: Ubantu, Mindtouch, Google, Free Software Foundation, Danish Unix Users Group, Linux Magazine, IOSN, TheOpenCD
    • TheOpenCD (http://www.theopencd.org/) — Best source of open source applications (including Open Office)
    • Ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com/) — Easiest to use distribution of open source Linux
  • Automation on the Farm Will Ease Labor Requirements
    • With authorities promising tighter borders, some farmers who rely on immigrant labor are eyeing an emerging generation of fruit-picking robots and high-tech tractors to do everything from pluck premium wine grapes to clean and core lettuce.
    • More than half of all farm workers in the country are illegal immigrants, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics.
    • Last year, amid heightened immigration enforcement, California’s seasonal migration was marked by spot worker shortages, and some fruit was left to rot in the fields.
    • Mechanized picking wouldn’t be new for some California crops such as canning tomatoes, low-grade wine grapes and nuts.
    • New robotic pickers do not blemish the product and can recognize ripeness.
    • The new pickers rely on advances in computing power and hydraulics that can make robotic limbs and digits operate with near-human sensitivity.
    • Modern imaging technology also enables the machines to recognize and sort fruits and vegetables of varying qualities.
    • The technology is maturing just at the right time to allow us to do this kind of work economically, according to industry experts.
    • Apple picking device by Vision Robotics
      • The process involves sending a mechanized scanning unit into orchards and orange groves. Equipped with digital-imaging technology, it creates a three-dimensional map displaying the location, ripeness and quality of fruit.
      • A robotic picker then follows the maps, using its long mechanical arms to carefully pluck the ripe produce.
      • A set of scanning and harvesting units will likely cost about $500,000 when the equipment reaches market.
    • Grape picking device developed by California State University in Fresno.
      • Growers of low- and mid-grade wine grapes already use mechanical harvesters, but picking and sorting premium grapes still requires a human touch.
      • The new technology includes a device called a near-infrared spectrometer, which measures the sugar levels and chemical content of grape samples before they are picked.
      • The data is then plotted to a global positioning system map, which a mechanical harvester uses to navigate the vineyards and pluck specific bunches at ideal ripeness.
      • The system has been under development for the past four years and is being tested in vineyards. The approximate cost of the two components is $230,000.
    • Lettuce picking device by Ramsay Highlander.
      • Partially automated lettuce picker uses band saws or water knives to cut the lettuce from the earth and convey it into bins for cleaning and processing.
      • The company is nearing completion on a new model that picks, cleans, cores and packs lettuce and other greens.
      • It will likely cost between $250,000 and $400,000
    • Some growers are excited by the prospect of having robots and a few trained technicians who know how to operate them replace the droves of manual laborers they currently depend on.
  • A US CERT Issues Warning
    • US CERT (Computer Emergency Readiness Team) on Friday warned that the world’s biggest websites have yet to fix the gaping security bug, which impact even careful users who only log in using the secure sockets layer protocol, which is denoted by an HTTPS in the beginning of browser address window.
    • US CERT warned that Google, eBay, MySpace, Yahoo, and Microsoft were vulnerable, but that list is nowhere near exhaustive.
    • Just about any banking website, online social network or other electronic forum that transmits certain types of security cookies is also susceptible.
    • The vulnerability stems from websites’ use of authentication cookies, which work much the way an ink-based hand stamp does at your favorite night club.
    • Like the stamp, the cookie acts as assurance to sensitive web servers that the user has already been vetted by security and is authorized to tread beyond the velvet rope.
    • The thing is just about every website transmits these digital hand stamps in the clear, which leaves them wide open to snoops monitoring public
    • Wi-Fi traffic or some other type of network. Once attackers have the cookie, they gain complete access to the victim’s account, and depending on the way many cookies are crafted, those privileges may continue in perpetuity – even if the victim changes the account password.
    • Google is the only web-based email service that offers a start-to-finish SSL session, the service is among the most resilient to cookie hijacking. Unfortunately, Gmail doesn’t enable persistent SSL by default, and has done little to educate its users about its benefits.