Show of 5-17-2008

  • Email and Forum
    • Email from Joe: Dear Tech Talk If I send an email on my work computer through Hotmail, will it be picked up on the server that has been set up in the office to hold all emails sent through on our "actual office computer emails’ via a paying service provider? Can my company read my emails. Joe
    • Tech Talk Answers: Your email is not stored on your companies servers and hence cannot read after you send it. You company could read it but it would be a project. They could intercept all your web traffic and inspect it or they could put spyware on your computer and monitor your keystrokes. Both options are very unlikely, but they are possible.
    • Email from Alice : Dear Doc How do spammers send email that looks like it comes from me? I know that spammers can send email spoofing the "From:" address to make it look like it came from me. How do they gain access to my account to do that? I am worried. Alice
    • Tech Talk Answers: Alice , they don’t have access to your email account. They simply know your email address. The email from address is not validated, so anyone can spoof it. That is one of the weaknesses of the current standard. Chances are your email address came from the address book of someone who has been infected with a Trojan that sends out spam.
    • Email from Hac: Dear Doc, I heard to mention academic software on last week’s show. Where can I find this and how do I qualify? Love the show. Hac
    • Tech Talk Answers: You must be a student or staff member of a college or university. You can find many vendors online by Googling for ?academic software.? You will have to send proof of your association with a university. ID card or letter will suffice. Sometimes only an edu address is needed.
  • Profiles in IT: Paul Baran and Donald Davies
    • Co-inventors of packets switched data networks (each working independently)
    • Paul Baran, working for RAND , was the first to publish, On Data Communications Networks in 1962.
    • Donald Davies, working for the National Physical Laboratory in Great Britain , created a packet switched network in early 70s. He originated term packet switching.
    • Paul Baran was born April 29, 1926. in Grodno , Poland .
      • His family moved to Boston in 1928
      • Baran received a Bachelors degree from Drexel University in Philadelphia and a Masters Degree in Engineering from UCLA in 1959
      • He began working for the RAND Corporation 1959.
      • The development of a communication network that would withstand a nuclear attack was important to US defense strategy.
      • Baran developed his ideas for a distributed network as a solution to the problem of Command and Control in the event of a nuclear attack.
      • Baran’s architecture was well designed to survive a nuclear conflict, and helped convince the US Military that WAN were a promising technology.
      • Baran also talked to Bob Taylor and J.C.R. Licklider at the IPTO about his work, since they were building a wide area communications network.
      • Baran’s 1964 series of papers then influenced Roberts and Kleinrock to adopt the technology for development of the ARPANET network.
      • Paul founded Metricom, the first wireless Internet company, which deployed Ricochet, the first public wireless mesh networking system.
      • He founded Com21, an early cable modem company.
      • In addition to his innovation in networking products, he is also credited with inventing the metal detector used in airports.
    • Donald Watts Davies was born June 7, 1924 Rhondda Valley , Wales .
      • He received his BS in physics in 1943 and a second BS degree in mathematics in 1947 from the Imperial College in London in 1955
      • He worked at the National Physical Laboratory just outside London .
      • From 1947, he worked with Alan Turing on the Pilot ACE computer and spotted mistakes in Turing’s seminal 1936 paper On Computable Numbers, much to Turing’s annoyance.
      • He headed the NPL Autonomic Division from 1966 and worked on computer network security from the late 1970s.
      • Donald Davies at the National Physical Laboratory, was remarkably similar to Baran’s, including common details like a packet size of 1024 bits.
      • Davies was primarily concerned with the problem of resource-sharing rather than Baran’s focus on military issues.
      • In 1970, Davies helped build a packet switched network called the Mark I to serve the NPL in the UK .
    • Leonard Kleinrock published a seminal paper on queuing theory based on his doctorate research at MIT and has belated tried to claim credit because this paper can be applied this type of network.
  • Hopes For Microsoft Takeover Continue To Boost Yahoo Shares
    • Yahoo shares have so far defied expectations by hovering near $26 almost one week after Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) withdrew its sweetened $33-a-share takeover offer.
    • Market watchers said investors were hoping that Microsoft may yet revive its offer.
    • Microsoft walked away from the deal and has publicly indicated it was no longer interested in Yahoo.
    • However, there was no shortage of investors and analysts who believe that Microsoft would return to the table under the right circumstances.
    • Investors and traders said they expect Yahoo shares would likely fall sharply if Microsoft and Yahoo haven’t announced a friendly deal and dissident shareholders haven’t filed a slate of board nominees.
    • Some financial analysts expected Yahoo shares would fall to about $21 to $22 in the absence of a Microsoft offer.
    • If the deal falls through, expect movement to replace the board. Stockholders are not happy.
  • What to Do When you Experience Hard Drive Failure
    • Unfortunately, hard drive failure is inevitable. It is not a question of if a firm’s hard drives will fail, but when.
    • However, with proper planning and a strategic response hard drive failure does not have to lead to data loss.
    • If the failed drive is the system boot disk, immediately unplug the computer and remove the drive. Do not attempt to reboot from this drive. Depending on the nature of the data stored on this drive, one may wish to make an initial attempt at data recovery before sending the drive to a professional data recovery service. However, if the data on the drive is mission critical, we recommend immediately contacting a professional data recovery service.
    • If the disk does not contain mission-critical information, one may attempt to retrieve the data without the assistance of a professional data recovery service. However, do not execute any system software, such as chkdsk to repair the file system unless you can afford to lose the data completely. System software is intended to repair a disk’s file system, not to recover data. These tools will most likely overwrite lost data.
    • If the failure is definitely related to the file system (e.g., deleted files, OS failure, or virus attack…), and not a physical, electronic, or firmware failure, data retrieval software may be able to recover the disk’s data. We recommend first installing the drive into an external USB enclosure for this process to reduce the disk utilization during boot up. Once the drive is recognized by the Operating System, immediately begin the data retrieval. Do not save any files to the target disk or install programs as this would likely overwrite lost data. Though this strategy is often successful, there is a chance the OS will overwrite some lost data while updating or writing system files to the drive thus resulting in data loss. Therefore we do not recommend applying this recovery method on drives containing mission-critical information. If this strategy does not recover your data you should contact a professional data recovery service for assistance.
    • Never open a drive case. It may only be opened in a clean-room environment. Any other exposure will eventually result in the physical destruction of the disk’s magnetic layer and the complete loss of data.
    • Never attempt to swap PCBs (Printed Circuit Board) from a healthy drive to a failed drive. Modern hard drives are manufactured with unique configuration parameters based on the tolerances of the individual components at the disk’s manufacture. Applying PCB/ROM to a disk for which it was not manufactured may destroy the drive and make it non-repairable. This is true even if the two drives share a common manufacturer, model, and manufacturing date.
    • Do not attempt to "repair" bad sectors or to read data from bad sectors by using data retrieval software on a failing disk. Doing so will either overwrite the underlying data or result in data loss. Note: as described above professional imaging tools retrieve bad sectors to a healthy disk rather than repairing or skipping bad sectors from a failing disk.
    • In cases of water, fire, or vandalism damage, do not attempt to power up a system that contains critical data. Doing so may destroy the disk’s magnetic layer and cause the data to be non-recoverable.
    • The Golden Rule: Always Backup your Data
  • Data recovered from Seagate drive in Columbia shuttle disaster
    • Remember the Columbia Space Shuttle which ignited, burning and crashing to earth in fragments in 2003.
    • Data from a hard drive recovered from the fragments has been used to complete a physics experiment that took place on the doomed Shuttle mission.
    • Columbia ‘s fragments were painstakingly and exhaustively collected. Amongst them was a 400MB Seagate hard drive which was in the sort of shape you think it would be in after being in an explosive fire and then hurled to earth from several miles up with a ferocious impact.
    • The Johnson Space Centre workers analyzing the shuttle crash sent it off the hard drive containing the Critical Viscosity of Xenon experiment to Kroll Ontrack in Minneapolis , Minnesota , to see if the data, any data could be recovered.
    • The Kroll people managed to recover 90 percent or so of the 400MB of data from the drive with its cracked and burned casing.
    • Berg and his team have analyzed the data and reported the experiment and its results in the April edition of the Physical Review E journal.
    • These showed that, rather liked whipped cream which changes from a fluid to a near-solid after being whipped or stirred vigorously, the gas Xenon change its viscosity from gas to liquid when similarly treated in very low gravity.
    • We reported on this experiment a couple of weeks ago.
  • Carpet bombing in cyberspace: Why America needs a military botnet
    • Concept paper by Col Charles W. Williamson III
    • Link to paper: http://www.infiltrated.net/?p=94
    • As much as some think the information age is revolutionary, local networks and the Internet are conceptually similar to the ancient model of roads and towns:
    • In today’s Internet, network ?towns? are ?fortified? with firewalls, gateways, passwords, port blocking, intrusion detection devices and law enforcement.
    • This approach uses the same strategy as the medieval castle with its walls, moat, drawbridge, guards, alarms and a sheriff.
    • The time for fortresses on the Internet also has passed, even though America has not recognized it.
    • Now, the only consequence for an adversary who intrudes into or attacks our networks is to get kicked out ? if we can find him and if he has not installed a hidden back door.
    • That is not enough. America must have a powerful, flexible deterrent that can reach far outside our fortresses and strike the enemy while he is still on the move.
    • Troy finally fell when it foolishly brought the threat inside its own walls by falling for the enemy’s masquerade in the form of a giant wooden horse.
    • Today, it is no coincidence that the Trojan horse exploit uses the same technique on the Internet by hiding a threat inside what appears to be a gift.
    • We intend to take the fight to the enemy before the enemy has a chance to come here. So, if the fortress ultimately failed, does history provide a different model?
    • We need to build an airforce.mil botnet to strike back.
    • The U.S. would not, and need not, infect unwitting computers as zombies. We can build enough power over time from our own resources.
    • The Air Force could add botnet code to all its desktop computers attached to the Nonsecret Internet Protocol Network (NIPRNet).
    • We deploy retired computers to a botnet farm ready for action.
    • To generate the right amount of power for offense, all the available computers must be under the control of a single commander, even if he provides the capability for multiple theaters.
  • Linux: 9000 PCs in Swiss schools will switch to Ubuntu only
    • Beginning from next term, all computers at schools in the Swiss canton of Geneva will be switched to Ubuntu Linux only.
    • Geneva newspaper Tribune de Geneve reports that from September 2008 all computers at schools that currently are dual-boot MS Windows and Linux will have MS Windows removed and become FOSS (Free Open Source Software) only.
    • Besides lower costs for the administration, students will also profit from the use of Ubuntu, as they then will be able to use the same applications at home without additional cost.
  • Google Search To Surpass Size of Microsoft Windows in 2009
    • By this time next year, Google’s search business will be larger and more profitable than the most profitable and legendary monopoly in history–Microsoft Windows
    • Both products are natural monopolies.
    • Google’s share of the search market should continue to approach Microsoft’s share of the operating system market (90%+)
    • Both products are wildly, profitable. Microsoft’s Windows business has operating margins of 75%-plus. So does Google’s search business.
    • Google natural monopoly is growing a lot faster than Microsoft’s. Google’s search business should be bigger than Microsoft’s Windows business by early next year.
    • Google is also growing faster than Microsoft’s two monopolies combined–Windows and Office.
    • Google has yet to develop a second huge, profitable monopoly, but AdSense is getting there.
  • Good News of the Week: Solar Panels to Get Cheaper
    • Solar electricity is about to get much cheaper because a shortage of the silicon used in solar panels is almost over.
    • Solar power is more than three times the cost of electricity from conventional sources, according to figures from the industry tracking firm Solarbuzz and the United States Energy Information Administration.
    • The added silicon production capacity is now starting to begin operations.
    • While only 15,000 tons of silicon were available for use in solar cells in 2005, by 2010, this number could grow to 123,000 tons.
    • Prices for solar panels could drop by as much as 50 percent from 2006 to 2010.
    • In areas that get a lot of sun, that will translate to solar electricity which matches the average price of electricity in the US . Demand will soar.
    • That will make solar affordable and, eventually, will vastly increase the market.
  • Website of the Week: Games with a Purpose
    • Web address: http://www.gwap.com/
    • Sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University
    • When you play a game at Gwap, you aren’t just having fun. You’re helping the world become a better place. By playing our games, you’re training computers to solve problems for humans all over the world.
    • ESP Game asks you and a partner to tag the same image.
    • Other games include: Tag a Tune, Verbosity, Squigl, Matchin
  • Good Idea of the Week: Floating Windmills
    • At great heights the wind blows much more powerfully and steadily than it does at lower altitudes.
    • Wind turbines only spin one tenth of the time at their maximum output, which makes wind not a very reliable energy source.
    • At higher altitudes, wind conditions are much better.
    • Floating windmills, which send the generated electricity to the earth by means of a cable, could harvest much more energy.
    • Canadian firm Magenn Power developed concept based on the principle of zeppelins.
    • It uses a helium filled balloon. Around the balloon is a wheel, driven by the wind.
    • Inventor Fred Ferguson also has been working on the system since the eighties ? but today it is the concept which is close to reality.
    • If all goes well, the floating wind turbine of Magenn Power will be on the market in 2008.
    • The first model will deliver 10 kilowatts of electricity, and floats at an altitude of around 330 metres ? more or less twice the height of a normal windmill.
    • Larger versions are planned, and the company also aims to develop a small system that fits in a backpack.
    • The drawback of the technology is that the balloon has to be re-filled with helium every 6 months.
    • Website: http://www.magenn.com/
  • Twitter Give First Earthquake Reports from China
    • The news of the Sichuan earthquake apparently broke first on Twitter.com, a website whose users constantly update the world on what is happening around them.
    • Links to maps showing the epicentre of the quake were posted alongside accounts of shaking buildings and evacuated offices from Chengdu , Shanghai and Beijing .
    • "Breathing normal again, feeling an earthquake on the 31stfloor was not fun," wrote Ana from Shanghai .
    • Videos of children hiding under desks and of the thousands of office workers congregating outside their buildings soon made their way onto YouTube, while a rolling account of the day’s events was soon up on Shanghaiist, a Shanghai city website.
    • Shanghaiist posted 90 updates to the story, and started a rumor that the authorities had prior warning of the earthquake which provoked an official rebuke and more chatter across blogs.
    • The website gathered together material as diverse as reports that spy satellite images of the region were being used in the rescue operation, to the fact that Monday was Buddha’s birthday, to a posting about how people killed in the earthquake were "victims of China’s economic miracle.?
    • It was a contrast to the events in Tangshan 32 years ago, when the Chinese government refused for months to admit the 7.8 magnitude earthquake had even happened, despite the deaths of an estimated 240,000 people.
    • China ‘s new found transparency has much to do with the arrival of the Olympics in Beijing next month.
    • Although there are at least 29 journalists in Chinese prisons, 19 of whom are bloggers, the country has had to relax its reporting restrictions as a condition of holding the games.