Profiles in IT: Reynold Johnson Nobel Prize Winners Enabled High Density Hard Drives The Great Debate over H-1B Visas Politics, the Internet, and Cybersquatting Do Your Neighbors Make Political Contributions? Website of the Week: Molecular Expressions: Exploring Optics and Microscopy Cell Phones Double As Electronic Wallets China's Great Firewall turns its attention to RSS feeds 2007 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards
Reynold Johnson was inventor of the first computer hard drive.
He was born in 1906 in Minnesota.
He attended the University of Minnesota, achieving his B.S. in education administration in 1929. He then began teaching science and math at a local high school.
His life changed in 1933, when he lost his teaching job and began shopping around an idea he had for an electromechanical device for automatically marking and grading pencil-marked multiple choice tests.
One of the companies he attempted to interest was IBM, which initially refused the design. But in 1934, the company reassessed the machine and saw in Johnson great potential. They offered him a position as an engineer in their Columbia University and Endicott laboratories in New York.
In 1952, he assembled the team, which began examining magnetic disk storage systems. IBM asked the team to use their research to develop a mass random access memory (RAM) storage system within two years.
Johnson and his team based their work on magnetic disk storage experiments conducted by Jacob Rabinow of the National Bureau of Standards.
In late 1955, Johnson and his team presented the first-ever working hard drive to IBM management.
The RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting Control) was very large, weighing in at one ton, but it met IBM’s original specifications, with access time to any given file averaging at about one second.
It used fifty 24-inch magnetic disks rotating at 1200 RPM on one shaft, with two read/write heads that could quickly access the files.
In 1956, IBM introduced the first commercial magnetic disk drive, the RAMAC 350, and even today, all disk drives are based on Johnsonís basic system.
Johnson obtained 90 patents over the course of his career, many in the field of card handling, punching and reading devices.
He also worked with Sony to invent the process of storing video on video tape that was half the width of normal video tape, leading to the creation of the VCR.
Johnson retired in 1971 and continued to work at his Education Engineering Associates consulting company, where he created a microphonograph, used in Fisher-Price’s "Talk to Me" books. He died in 1998 at the age of 92.
Nobel Prize Winners Enabled High Density Hard Drives
France’s Albert Fert and Germany’s Peter Gruenberg won the 2007 Nobel Prize for physics on Tuesday for a breakthrough in nanotechnology that lets huge amounts of data be squeezed into ever-smaller spaces.
The 10-million Swedish crown ($1.54 million) prize, awarded by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, recognized the pair for revealing a physical effect called giant magnetoresistance.
Giant magnetoresistance — GMR for short — works through a large electrical response to a tiny magnetic input.
GMR was independently discovered in 1988 in Fe/Cr/Fe trilayers by a research team led by Peter Grünberg of the Jülich Research Centre, who owns the patent, and in Fe/Cr multilayers by the group of Albert Fert of the University of Paris-Sud, who first saw the large effect in multilayers that led to its naming, and first correctly explained the underlying physics.
The discovery of GMR is considered as the birth of spintronics.
Giant magnetoresistance (GMR) is a quantum mechanical effect, a type of magnetoresistance effect, observed in thin film structures composed of alternating ferromagnetic and nonmagnetic metal layers.
The effect manifests itself as a significant decrease in electrical resistance in the presence of a magnetic field.
It works because of a property called spin. Electrons — the charged particles within atoms — "spin" in different directions under various circumstances, producing the changes in resistance that are used to store data.
Thanks to advances based on GMR, a typical laptop computer now holds about 100 gigabytes of data. That is equal to the information contained in a kilometer-long (3,280-foot) bookshelf, roughly an entire library floor of academic journals.
"A computer hard disk reader that uses a GMR sensor is equivalent to a jet flying at a speed of 30,000 kilometers (19,500 miles) per hour … at a height of just one meter above the ground, and yet being able to see and catalogue every single blade of grass it passes over.
The Great Debate over H-1B Visas
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa category in the United States under the Immigration & Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H).
It allows U.S. employers to seek temporary help from skilled foreigners who have the equivalent U.S. Bachelor’s Degree education.
H-1B employees are employed temporarily in a job category that is considered by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services to be a "specialty occupation."
The Issue at hand
While American tech companies say they can’t find enough qualified people, many tech workers say there aren’t enough good jobs. (only 1.8% unemployment in this sector).
Workers counter that salaries in the sector are still below their level in 2000, adjusted for inflation, a sign that companies haven’t had to bid up wages to get staff.
Microsoft is one of the most active American companies in the H-1B visa program, receiving 3,117 certifications in fiscal year 2006.
Microsoft, along with Intel, Texas Instruments, Motorola, and others, has been pushing for the H-1B cap to be raised from the current 65,000 a year to at least 115,000.
The Senate and House of Representatives are considering whether to try to overhaul the immigration policies for high-skilled workers.
One reform could be to ban outsourcing companies from using temporary visas
Another could be to eliminate temporary visas altogether and allow high-skilled workers to come to the U.S. only on permanent green cards.
There’s even talk of limiting visas to positions in which a demonstrated shortage exists so the market isn’t flooded with workers and wages driven down."
Statistics show declining interest in tech degrees at all levels and the hunt for talent will only get harder.
In math, science, and engineering, for example, 50% or more of the post-graduate degrees at U.S. universities are now awarded to foreign nationals.
In addition to advocating for more visas and green cards, Microsoft is trying to boost enrollment in computer degree programs and help U.S. midcareer workers update their skills.
Politics, the Internet, and Cybersquatting
Domain name frenzy
Locking up derogatory names
Unmentionable on the radio
Check the WhoIs Database for the owner
Domain Cybersquatting is a problem for candidates
Obama2008.org is owned by Henry Treftz, Aurora, Illinois.
Hillary2008.com is owned by Brett Maverick of Canberra, Austrailia (since 1999). Would trade for a job or $30,000.
barackobama2008.com is owned by Glenn LaFaye of Floral Park, N.Y
rudyforpresident.com was owned byRobert Steiner of Wantagh, N.Y.
mccain4president.com is owned by Jon Kurpis, Saddle River, N.J.
Nearly every conceivable presidential ticket has been registered, including mccaingiuliani2008.com and clintongore2008.com.
hillandbill2008.com is owned by Gary Leland, Arlington, Texas.
giuliani2008.com is owned by Zev Adler
Obama2010.com has been taken since 2004.
Barackobama.com was finally secured by candidate himself when the name expired.
Registering a domain name is simple and costs about $10 per year.
Doing so can save candidates headaches and expenses down the road
hillaryforpresident.com, where a screed about the Antichrist is posted
gwbush.com, sells ?Impeach Bush? bumper stickers.
The courts have helped. Last year the National Arbitration Forum awarded hillaryclinton.com and took if from an an Italian woman who had registered it in October 2001.
Google search has made domain less important than in the past
Look at the universe through successive images magnified by powers of 10
Start by viewing the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth.
Then move through space towards the Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tall oak tree just outside the buildings of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida.
After that, begin to move from the actual size of a leaf into a microscopic world that reveals leaf cell walls, the cell nucleus, chromatin, DNA and finally, into the subatomic universe of electrons and protons.
Final destination is a view of the most elementary of particles the quark.
Cell Phones Double As Electronic Wallets
More than 5.5 million Filipinos now use their cell phones as virtual wallets, making the Philippines a leader among developing nations in providing financial transactions over mobile networks.
Mobile banking services, which are also catching on in Kenya and South Africa, enable people who don’t have bank accounts to transfer money easily, quickly and safely.
It’s spreading in the developing world because mobile phones are much more common than bank accounts.
Consumers also can store limited amounts of money on their cell phones to buy things at stores that participate in the network.
While Japanese and South Korean consumers have been using cell phones as virtual wallets for several years, those systems use a computer chip implanted in handset that allows people to buy things by waving the phone in front of a sensor.
The Philippine system relies on simple text messages, which cost just 2 cents to send.
The Philippines’ two biggest mobile service providers, Globe Telecom and Smart Communications, haventered the world of e-commerce.
Tapping into the cash flow from overseas Filipinos – who sent home $12.7 billion last year – Globe and Smart forged partnerships with foreign mobile providers and banks, as well as with local banks and merchants, to create a network that allows users to send and receive cash internationally.
When you want to send cash home, for example, you go to a branch of a local provider, Hong Kong CSL Ltd., where a clerk credits the cell phone with the amount deposited. It is then transferred to family members via text messages – in essence instructing her providers to deduct money from her balance to the recipients she indicates.
If a cell phone loaded with cash values is lost or stolen, the money can’t be tapped as long as the personal identification number isn’t revealed.
Control over the funds can be restored with a replacement SIM, or Subscriber Identity Module, card from either mobile provider.
Globe and Smart also allow their users to pay bills with their phones.
China’s Great Firewall turns its attention to RSS feeds
Savvy Internet fans in the people’s republic have known for a long time that there have been simple ways to get forbidden information.
Proxy servers are popular. Previously discussed
Another method was the RSS feed. The Great Firewall can block specific web sites all it wants, but as long as there’s an RSS feed, many Chinese surfers can use feeds to access otherwise forbidden information.
Unfortunately, China appears to have finally gotten wise to RSS as of late.
Access FeedBurner RSS feeds was blocked earlier this year.
More recently PSB appears feeds have been blocked.
Ars Technica feeds are also blocked
Well, there are a few workarounds, some of which may be simpler than others.
The best workaround is use of an ecrypted proxy server.