Profiles in IT: John Backus Wal-Mart Sells $199 Linux Computer Russian schools go all Linux Outsmarting the CAPTCHA Avoiding Identity Theft Tech Phrases You Never Expected Here are a few phrases that you never would have expected to say a few years ago. Just IM me the link. I pinged her but haven't heard back yet. Will you be streaming video with the podcast? How much RAM do you have in the PC? Send me a text message on your cell. Do you have an optical or laser mouse? Does this hotel have free wi-fi? I need to defrag my hard drive after I run the disk cleanup. Did you google your that? I shopped on eBay, Craig's List, Amazon, Newegg, and ecost and still can't find it. If you don't have an optical or laser mouse, you have to clean your mouse's ball so it runs smoothly. Should I buy an 8 megapixel or 10 megapixel camera? Which smart phone is the best, the Treo, iPhone, Razr, or Blackberry? Ten Good Things About Vista Pet Peeve of the Week: Get Rid of WWW Predictions that Proved False
He led the team the developed Fortran, the first widely distributed high level computer language.
John Backus spent his first years in Wilmington, Delaware.
In 1942, he graduated from Hill School in Pottstown, PA. Not a good student.
In 1942, he entered the UVA to study chemistry. Flunked out his first year.
That year he joined the army via the draft.
In the army he took medical training and worked in an Atlantic City hospital. He dropped out of medical training after nine months.
After after the Army he move to New York City and initially took training as a radio technician where he discovered an interest in mathematics.
He entered Columbia University, New York to study mathematics. He graduated in 1949 with a Masters Degree in Mathematics
Backus joined IBM as a programmer in 1950.
During his first three years, he worked on a major project was to write a program to calculate positions of the Moon.
The difficulties of programming were acute, and in 1954 Backus assembled a team to define and develop Fortran for the IBM 704 computer.
John Backus wanted a programming language closer to human language, which is the definition of a high level language.
Though debatably not the first high-level programming language, it was the first to achieve wide use.
Fortran began as a digital code interpreter for the IBM 701 and was originally named Speedcoding.
It became commercially available in 1957.
Fortran is now over forty years old and remains the top language in scientific and industrial programming, of course it has constantly been updated.
The invention of Fortran began started computer software industry and began the development of other high level programming languages.
Fortran has been used for programming video games, air traffic control systems, payroll calculations, numerous scientific and military applications and parallel computer research.
Fortan is a third generation language.
First Generation: Machine Language (0 and 1s)
Second Generation: Assembly Language (includes words like add)
Third Generation: High Level Language (human sounding words and syntax)
In 1959 he invented the Backus-Naur Form (BNF), a standard notation to describe the syntax of a high level programming language.
His third major contribution to computer science was to develop a functional programming language called FP, which advocates a mathematical approach to programming.
He retired in 1991 and died at his home in Ashland, Oregon on March 17, 2007.
Wal-Mart Sells $199 Linux Computer
Wal-Mart is taking online orders for the Green PC (gPC), made by Everex of Taiwan,
It uses the Ubuntu distribution of Linux and costs $199.
The gPC has a low-end processor from VIA Technologies with 512 MB of RAM.
It includes an 80-gigabyte hard drive and a combination DVD drive and CD burner.
Everex says the processor is very energy efficiency, meriting "Green" in the name.
It will be available in about 600 stores, as well as online, Wal-Mart said.
A comparable Everex PC that comes with Windows Vista Home Basic and more memory costs $99 more, or $298, partly because the manufacturer has to pay Microsoft Corp. for a software license.
Both computers come with keyboard, mouse, and speakers, but no monitor.
Linux is in widespread use in server computers, particularly Web servers.
Surveys usually put its share of that market around 1 percent, far behind Windows and Apple Inc.’s OS X.
Russian schools go all Linux
School children in Russia will be using exclusively Linux on computers by 2009.
The schools in Russia will avoid paying any licensing fees for software by going all-Linux. The software will be tested in three pilot regions. After the pilot, these regions can choose between either sticking with Linux or paying for an alternative software such as windows.
Before now, the schools tended to use illegal copies of windows or other software but laws have gotten stricter and a number of them have been prosecuted for this behavior.
Despite the fact that Russian schools claim to be going all Linux because it’s more cost effective some people believe that the country simply do not wish to be tied to any kind of western software.
Outsmarting the CAPTCHA
CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart
Captcha is a challenge-response systems, which are used to prevent accounts being created until a user correctly identifies letters in an image.
Captchas have been used to defeat automatic sign-ups to email accounts by services including Yahoo! Mail and GMail for years.
Increasingly hackers have had more success at defeating the approach.
For example, the HotLan Trojan has created more than 500,000 spam email accounts with Hotmail, Yahoo! and GMail since its arrival back in July.
Once a webmail account is established, encrypted spam emails are sent from a website onto infected machines.
The HotLan Trojan then decrypts these junk emails and sends them to (presumably valid) addresses taken from yet another website.
Two ways have been used to spammers to beat the system.
Hire people in developing countries to identify the images. Pay around $2.50 an hour and get about 750 IDs per hour.
Trick people using social engineering to give you the answer free. Porn sites let you see another picture if you identify the CAPTCHA in a type of strip tease.
In order to get "Melissa" to lose an item of clothing, the user must identify the letters or numbers found within a scrambled text image that forms the basis of a captcha.
So by deciphering the text, voyeurs are unwittingly helping crooks get around checks designed to stop them establishing accounts.
The robots seek to create accounts may later be used to send junk mail.
Generally these accounts get shut down following complaints after a few days, but in the meantime spammers have a resource to abuse.
Avoiding Identity Theft
Spoofing," "phishing" and "dumpster diving" are some of the electronic and physical techniques used to gather personal information that can be used to steal a person’s identity for the purpose of accessing bank accounts or making purchases in the individual’s name.
The federal Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Department issued an information note on the best ways to prevent online identity theft:
Install and frequently update proven anti-virus software.
Ensure web browsers and operating systems are up to date and security patches are applied.
Be suspicious of any e-mails with requests for personal, financial or sensitive information.
Don’t fill out forms in e-mail messages that ask for personal, financial or other sensitive information.
Use caution with links supplied in e-mails.
Always verify you have the correct website address for sites that require users to authenticate by providing information such as a password.
Change passwords regularly. Use those that are hard to guess. Never share passwords with anyone.
Use caution when locating a website through an Internet search engine. It isn’t always possible to distinguish a fake site from a legitimate one.
Ensure that a secure website is used when submitting credit card or other sensitive information by way of your web browser. Look for secure symbol in the status bar.
Contact the organization by telephone, not the number listed on the website, if there is any doubt about the validity an e-mail or website.
Report suspect e-mails to the organization or to local law enforcement agencies.
Identity theft would not be as successful a criminal pursuit if e-mail and Internet users learned to be more vigilant and constantly protect themselves.
Tech Phrases You Never Expected
Things are changing quickly. It is a whole new lingo now. Sometimes it is jus hard to keep up.
Here are a few phrases that you never would have expected to say a few years ago.
Just IM me the link.
I pinged her but haven’t heard back yet.
Will you be streaming video with the podcast?
How much RAM do you have in the PC?
Send me a text message on your cell.
Do you have an optical or laser mouse?
Does this hotel have free wi-fi?
I need to defrag my hard drive after I run the disk cleanup.
Did you google your that?
I shopped on eBay, Craig’s List, Amazon, Newegg, and ecost and still can’t find it.
If you don’t have an optical or laser mouse, you have to clean your mouse’s ball so it runs smoothly.
Should I buy an 8 megapixel or 10 megapixel camera?
Which smart phone is the best, the Treo, iPhone, Razr, or Blackberry?
Ten Good Things About Vista
A truly multithreaded explorer. In Windows XP, if you opened a file dialog or a window that had to connect to the CD/DVD drive or to the network the whole shell would hang while it did its thing. Not so in Windows Vista. In Windows Vista, that all is done in a background thread.
Wireless networking is much improved. The built in wireless networking in XP was not good. The one in Windows Vista is not only better looking, it "just works".
Good plug & play. While it is true that video driver support for Vista at launch was spotty The reality is that most things do work and work extremely well.
More polish. A good user experience matters.
More information about your system. On Vista, the task manager will tell you how much of your hard drive bandwidth you’re using up and tell you what process is accessing the disk.
Much higher tolerance for handles. On Windows XP, if your system runs out of handles, programs won’t launch and weird things start to happen. On Windows Vista, the system seems to do just fine with high handles so far.
Assessments. On Windows Vista, you get the performance index is which they can get to very easily. This instantly lets people see how fast their computers really are.
Better thumbnails. Windows Vista has "Windows Photo Gallery". In Windows Vista, I can have them as large or small as I’d like which can make for very handy viewing of lots of pictures at once.
Better Laptop experience. In Windows XP, I didn’t ever know for sure if my laptop was really going to come back from sleep or hibernation. I know there are still people who complain, I’m not saying it’s perfect but it’s a lot more reliable for me than XP.
Usability improvements. For instance, in Windows Vista, if you click on the system tray clock, you get a nice calendar dialog. I like the sidebar too.
Pet Peeve of the Week: Get Rid of WWW
It’s no longer necessary to use "www" when referring to websites. I
t’s a waste of storage, a waste of ink, and it takes 2-5 times as long to pronounce as saying the domain by itself.
No-www is an initiative to make all websites accessible from both the http://www.example.com/ and http://example.com/ forms of their names.
The reason for using the "www" hostname prefix when entering websites is now a matter of history.
It’s wasteful to type, and it’s cumbersome to pronounce. Consider that it takes nine syllables to properly enunciate three characters.
Some argue that there is still a good reason to separate traffic destined to web servers from that destined to the domain itself. I think this is precisely the idea that’s become obsolete.
Things are different now. HTTP is utterly dominant.
As for people who include it when speaking, there’s no need to be rude when correcting them. Just kindly inform them that it’s faster if they just go to the domain itself, and that the "www" isn’t needed.
Predictions that Proved False
There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home. Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977.
We will never make a 32 bit operating system. Bill Gates
There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States. T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, in 1961 (the first commercial communications satellite went into service in 1965).
This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us. ? A memo at Western Union, 1878 (or 1876).
The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most. IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959.
Home Taping Is Killing Music. A 1980s campaign by the BPI, claiming that people recording music off the radio onto cassette would destroy the music industry.
Television won’t last. It’s a flash in the pan. Mary Somerville, pioneer of radio educational broadcasts, 1948.
The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular? ? Associates of David Sarnoff responding to the latter’s call for investment in the radio in 1921.
Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years. Alex Lewyt, president of vacuum cleaner company Lewyt Corp., in the New York Times in 1955.
Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. Lord Kelvin, British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society, 1895.
The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad. The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903