Show of 5-3-2008

  • Email and Forum
    • Email from Alice: Dear Tech Talk, I am having problems with my Linux servers. Help. Who support Linux? My business depends on these applications. Alice
    • Tech Talk Answers: We have a live and robust Linux consulting community. I would suggest contacting the Linux Users Group in your area for a recommendation. In Northern Virginia, the Linux Users Group is Novalug (http://novalug.org).
    • You may also note that the latest version of Ubuntu Linux from Canonical comes with a phone support option for $250/year. That may be a good option for you. Canonical is trying to provide the type of support that is usually found with packages and licensed software.
    • Finally, you might check the Linux Consultants Guide on the web for your area.
  • Profiles in IT: Craig Newmark
    • Founder of San Francisco-based website Craigslist (http://craigslist.org)
    • Craig Alexander Newmark was born December 6, 1952 in Morristown, New Jersy
    • Newmark attended Morristown High School.
    • He received a BS Degree in Computer Science from Case Western Reserve University.
    • He worked in IT for companies such as IBM and Bank of America.
    • In 1995 while Craig was working at Schwab, he started craigslist as an email list for friends and co-workers about events going on in the San Francisco Bay Area.
    • In 1999, Craig retired from IT consulting to work full-time on craigslist.
    • What started as a fun side project in Craig’s living room has since grown into one of the busiest sites on the internet, helping people with basic day-to-day needs such as finding a job, an apartment and a date, all within a culture of trust.
    • Craig is involved with a variety of community efforts and is particularly interested in organizations promoting public diplomacy, mideast peace and new forms of media such as participatory journalism.
    • He’s on the boards of Sunlight Foundation, OneVoice, FactCheckED, and VotoLatino.
    • Newmark is a vocal advocate of keeping the Internet free.
    • According to his bio on Craigslist: Craig continues to embrace his inner nerd though he no longer wears thick black glasses that are held together with tape, and he retired the plastic pocket protector some years ago.
    • Newmark resides in San Francisco’s Cole Valley
    • He appointed Jim Buckmaster as CEO. Buckmaster has been called: anti-establishment, a communist, and a socialistic anarchist.
    • Now he is active at Craigslist in customer service, mostly dealing with spammers and scammers.
    • Newmark has a blog: http://www.cnewmark.com/
    • He is most noteworthy for his distain for cashing-in on the popularity of social networking sites.
    • Craig Newmark, is kind of a renegade. And, unlike most people in the world, money is not an incentive for him.
    • Newmark’s main comment was: "Who needs the money?"
    • Craigslist earns money by selling ads
      • It serves classified ads to 450 cities.
      • The site receives more than 750,000 job listings a month, and users self-publish about 14 million new classifieds a month.
      • The site has been profitable since late 1999, and it generates revenues by charging nominal fees for job posts in seven cities and for broker’s apartment listings in New York.
      • Analysts estimate the site took in $25 million in revenues last year with no user fees or banner ads.
      • It has only 24 employees.
      • The company has no meetings.
      • Craigslist had nobody in sales and marketing.
  • Imagining the Tech World in 2050
    • Scientists go collaborate with cinema faculty and producers at the USC School of Cinematic Arts,
    • Five IBM scientists offered their best guesses on how life would be different in 2050.
    • Bill Pulleybank on Super computers
      • Bill Pulleybank led the development of IBM’s Blue Gene systems, which account for 4 of the world’s top 10 most powerful supercomputers.
      • By 2050, he predicted, the capabilities housed in those giant supercomputers will be available in the palm of your hand.
    • Sharon Nunes on Harnessing Biological Processes
      • Sharon Nunes, who leads IBM’s green-research initiatives, launched IBM’s Computational Biology Center.
      • She predicted that by 2050, clean water and energy would be available to the entire planet.
      • Nunes is looking to synthetic biology and systems biology to help solve the critical problems the planet faces.
      • She gave an example of applying an understanding of the chemical and biological processes of photosynthesis to building solar cells and converting algae into environmentally friendly fuels.
    • Don Eigler on Nanotechnology
      • Don Eigler was the IBM scientist who, in 1989, took a small number of xenon atoms and spelled out "IBM" using a liquid helium temperature-scanning tunneling microscope that he had constructed.
      • In his 2050 predictions, Eigler focused on embedded and nanoscale technologies that could lead to life extension.
      • In the labs today, people are discovering how to fabricate new nanometer-scale structures for regenerative medicine.
      • Eigler believes that this technology could blossom over the next 10 to 15 years and that it eventually will result in pharmacies built into the human body that automatically administer medicines based on readings from internal sensors.
      • He also discussed parallel human processing. The idea is that a person could think about two problems at once consciously. This capability could be realized through training or symbiant embedded devices.
      • Eigler also said that by 2050, we would have a laptop with 100,000 times more horsepower than the state-of-the-art machine today.
    • Ajay Royyuru on Genomes and Synthetic Biology
      • Ajay Royyuru leads the Computational Biology Center at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, researching topics such as bioinformatics, functional genomics, and systems biology.
      • He predicted that before 2050, everyone will have personal genome.
      • People will have access to a steady stream of genetic data, and they will use that information to make choices of what to eat.
      • Today, we don’t know how the machinery works. The genome is a parts list.
      • We will get to a point where we can re-create things so we understand how it works or fails." The result will be a personalized, predictive model of behaviors based on an individual’s genome.
      • Stem cells and synthetic biology (design and fabrication of biological components) will cure diseases in specific places rather than tolerate the absence of an organ or other tissue, Royyuru predicted.
    • Jeff Jonas on Collective Intelligence
      • Jeff Jonas, an IBM Distinguished Engineer, is chief scientist of the Entity Analytic Solutions Software Group.
      • He works on projects such as data correlation, using irreversible cryptographic hashes.
      • Jonas predicted that by 2050, a 14-year-old will make $10 billion working in his bedroom in a day.
      • It took Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg three years to be worth $1 billion.
      • More pertinent to his research, Jonas said "collective intelligence will be in the cloud and available to all."
      • He described collective intelligence as lots of piles of data, much gleaned from a ubiquity of sensors that have to be stitched together and put in context.
      • In 2050, collective intelligence is your personal digital agent, locating and telling you what you need..
      • Jonas also expects that people will be spending more time in virtual worlds in 2050. "It’s a way to escape the trails you create by popping into an avatar."
  • Creative Video Device Driver Fiasco
    • Creative Sound has taken a hard-line stance against one of its most prolific modder, Daniel_K.
    • ?Modders? tweak device drivers to improve or extend performance
    • Two weeks ago, Creative posted a notice on its message board, threatening driver maker "Daniel_K" with legal action.
    • When Creative rewrote the Sound Blaster Audigy series XP drivers for Vista, it left off a number of features, including DVD audio support, Dolby Digital (DD) and Digital Theater System (DTS) encoding, equalizer, Creative Multi-speaker Surround (CMSS/CMSS2), and THX options.
    • The drivers it created are filled with glitches and frequently crash and stop working, indicating that the problem is more a general lack of success in driver writing.
    • Many alleged that Creative purposefully crippled its older Sound Blaster cards to push sales of its flagship X-Fi cards.
    • Daniel_K stepped into action and released a set of custom drivers for the Sound Blaster Audigy series.
    • These drivers re-enabled the crippled functionality from XP, improved stability, and improved general performance.
    • Daniel_K solicited contributions from supporters as is-oft done in the custom driver community.
    • Creative is now battling to squelch the spread of the drivers online, unhappy that the drivers enable features that it intended not to allow.
    • However, it is now facing an uprising from its former supporters, as indicated in the forum thread in which Daniel_K was put on notice.
  • Data for 6,000 UCSF patients gets exposed online
    • Personal data for more than 6,000 UCSF patients was exposed online for more than three months last year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
    • The news is troubling on multiple levels.
    • First off, it poses the risk that sensitive health information could be used against those patients by employers, health insurers, and others. It also could have allowed fraudsters to use the data to commit medical identity theft and get medical treatment and drugs without paying.
    • Also, while it’s unclear exactly how the data breach happened, it’s fairly clear that it arose after the hospital shared the data with a third party, Target America, hired to go through the patient database and find people to solicit donations from.
    • And finally, it took the hospital nearly six months to notify the 6,313 affected patients about the privacy invasion.
    • The breach is a symptom, but the real ethics challenge is the extent to which health care institutions are tracking patients and their families for nonmedical reasons–for fundraising, marketing, advertising.
  • FBI’s Net surveillance proposal Discussed
    • The FBI director and a Republican congressman sketched out a far-reaching plan this week for warrantless surveillance of the Internet.
    • During a House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing, the FBI’s Robert Mueller and Rep. Darrell Issa of California talked about what needs to be done.
    • The FBI would like to use deep packet inspection of all traffic on the Internet backbone.
    • Initially, Internet service providers to open their networks to the FBI voluntarily.
    • This would be followed by a federal law forcing companies to require cooperation.
    • The FBI said "legislation has to be developed" for "some omnibus search capability, utilizing filters that would identify the illegal activity as it comes through and give us the ability to pre-empt" it.
    • Many feel that such surveillance is illegal.
  • Microsoft Increases Offer for Yahoo
    • Microsoft Corp. has sweetened its $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo Inc. by several billion dollars.
    • Microsoft executives hope that a takeover of Yahoo would help compete with Google for ad business.
    • Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Jerry Yang said early on that Microsoft’s proposal, originally valued at $31 per share, was too low.
    • But he added that he was not opposed to combining forces as long as Microsoft raised its bid.
    • After making little headway in informal negotiations, Microsoft boosted its offer Thursday to $33 per share, according to the sources.
    • Yahoo’s board wants at least $37 per share.
    • One possibility was to start a hostile bid by asking Yahoo’s shareholders to oust the company’s board, a scenario that usually prompts an exodus of workers from the company in the crosshairs. Another option was for Microsoft to withdraw its proposal, which probably would have caused Yahoo’s shares to plummet, according to analysts.
    • If Microsoft and Yahoo reach an agreement, the deal will face a tough review by federal regulators.
  • Hackers Warn Next Attack Will Be Business
    • The InfoSecurity Europe Conference was held last month.
    • The hackers panel is one of the highlights of InfoSecurity Europe
    • The panel felt that large online retailers will be the next victims of cyber terrorism.
    • Criminals could use the kind of tactics which crippled Estonia’s government and some firms last year, they warned.
    • The panel includes penetration testers and so-called "white hat" hackers, who help companies tighten up their digital security by searching for flaws in their defenses.
    • The panel included
      • Gary McKinnon, known as Solo, alleged by the US government to have hacked into dozens of US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Department of Defense computers.
      • Roberto Preatoni, the founder of the cyber crime monitoring site, Zone-H, and WabSabiLabi, a trading site for security researchers. His appearance came just a few months after he was arrested by Italian authorities on charges of hacking and wiretapping.
    • Mr Preatoni told the audience that the attacks in Estonia were a harbinger for a new era of cyber warfare.
    • During the two week "cyber war" against Estonia, hackers shut down the websites of banks, governments and political parties using "denial-of-service" (DoS) attacks.
    • We have to get the message across to companies to invest in information security.
    • Mr Preatoni said that the Estonian government’s repeated failure to thwart the attacks was proof that we still have "no good solutions" for denial of service attacks.
    • The panelists then argued over whether Internet Service Providers should do more to tighten security, by helping customers’ protect their computers from being "zombified" by hackers for use in distributed DoS attacks.
    • Mr Preatoni warned the audience it is "only going to get easier" to carry out a DoS attack, because he claimed the latest net address system, known as Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6), is actually more amenable to DoS.
  • Website of the Week: Bathsheba Scupture
    • Web Address: http://www.bathsheba.com/
    • Exploring art and mathematics
    • Complex 3D mathematical metallic sculptures
    • Complex 3D designs from astronomy, biology, math and physics etched using laser.
    • Artwork is in the $400 to $500 range
  • Website of the Week: (In)Secure-Magazine
    • Website: http://www.net-security.org/insecuremag.php
    • Month magazine with latest issue dated April 16, 2008
    • Each issue covers current topics in security
    • Approximately 100 pages in length and downloadable in PDF format
    • Great source of information for the budding IT professional
  • Asus Eee PC Finds Market Sweet Spot
    • 7" compact design and less than 2lbs
    • Solid State Hard Drive (2GB or 4 GB)
    • 512 MB DD2 RAM
    • Networking (802.11 b/g wireless, 10/100 Ethernet)
    • Ports (3 USB, VGA)
    • MMC/SD/MS/SDHC memory card reader
    • Webcam with built-in microphone
    • HD audio speakers
    • Linux OS with over 40 built-in applications (including open office)
    • Target audience: K-12 students and frequent travelers
    • Price: $299 for 2G and $399 for 4G SSD
  • Food Science: Behavior of Protein
    • Protein behavior during cooking
    • As protein heats up adjacent molecules bond (crosslink)
    • Cross linking makes the product firm
    • Cross linking squeezes out interstitial water
    • Fully cross linked by 160F
    • Behavior during the cooking process
    • Meats get firm and dry
    • Eggs squeeze out the water