Show of 8-2-2008

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Amy: Dear Tech Talk. How can I set up my own blog? Amy
    • Tech Talk Responds: Amy. Thanks for the email. We will discuss setting up a blog during this show.
  • How to Set Up a Blog
    • Define Your Niche
      • Defining Your Audience
      • Choosing Your Subject
      • Once You’ve Chosen Your Subject, Evaluate the Competition
    • Name Your Blog
      • Choose a name that’s memorable, short and easy to spell
      • Name and URL should match
      • Checking Your Name’s Availability Using Whois Database
      • Secure Domain Name using GoDaddy or Network Solutions
      • Point your newly-purchased domain name to your blog.
    • Choose a Blog Host (Option 1)
      • If you are creating your first blog or don’t have a great deal of technical expertise, than a hosted blog service is the way to go.
      • A hosted blog service essentially "hosts" your blog at their domain. They make creating a blog easy by providing well-designed templates, a web address and rich text editors that allow you to create posts without any special technical knowledge.
      • With a hosted blog service, you can have a blog up and running in less than ten minutes.
      • Some of the most popular hosted blogging platforms include:
        • Blogger.com (www.yourblogname.blogger.com)
          • Designed First-Time Bloggers
        • WordPress.com (www.yourblogname.wordpress.com)
          • Some knowledge of tech- or blog-related jargon is helpful. Designed for Savvy beginners.
        • Vox.com (www.yourblogname.vox.com)
          • Ads embedded at bottom of page. Cannot use registered domain name. Beginners looking for social networking options.
        • Typepad.com (www.yourblogname.typepad.com)
          • Four Pricing Levels from $4.95/mo – $29.95/mo. Designed for Savvy beginners.
    • Stand Alone Blogging Platform (Option 2)
      • This type of blogging platform is hosted by you on your own domain. This type of platform allows you to have full control over the design of your site and will use whatever domain name you’ve purchased.
      • To use this kind of blogging platform, you will need to subscribe to a hosting service and download a blogging platform WordPress.org or MovableType.org.
      • This route is more costly and demands a certain amount of technical literacy. You get a fully customizable site in your own name, which makes it the choice of many (but not all) professional bloggers.
  • Profiles in IT: Jack St. Clair Kilby
    • Jack St. Clair Kilby invented the integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments. He is also the inventor of the handheld calculator.
    • Jack Kilby was born November 8, 1923 in Jefferson City, Missouri.
    • He grew up in Great Bend, Kansas, and graduated from Great Bend High School.
    • Kilby received a BSEE degree in 1947 from the University of Illinois.
    • He received an MSEE in 1950 from University of Wisconsin while at Centralab in Milwaukee.
    • Kilby was hired by Texas Instruments in 1958.
    • He was assigned to work on transistor circuit design problem that was commonly called the "tyranny of numbers? because of the large number of interconnects.
    • In July 1958, when most employees left for the traditional two-week vacation period, Kilby — as a new employee with no vacation — stayed to man the shop.
    • It was in a relatively deserted laboratory at TI’s brand new Semiconductor Building where Jack Kilby first hit on the idea of the integrated circuit.
    • He came to the conclusion that manufacturing the circuit components in mass in a single piece of semiconductor material could provide a solution.
    • During the summer of that year working with borrowed and improvised equipment, he conceived and built the first electronic circuit in which all of the components, both active and passive, were fabricated in a single piece of semiconductor material half the size of a paper clip.
    • The successful laboratory demonstration of that first simple microchip on September 12, 1958, made history. The first circuit was a simple oscillator.
    • A patent for a "Solid Circuit made of Germanium", was filed on February 6, 1959.
    • In March, 1959, Robert Noyce, co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor, developed a silicon integrated circuit. Some view Noyce a co-inventor of the IC. Noyce co- founded Intel in 1968.
    • Fairchild and TI cross-licensed their patents.
    • But while the U.S. Air Force showed some interest in TI’s integrated circuit, industry reacted skeptically.
    • The integrated circuit first won a place in the military market through programs such as the first computer using silicon chips for the Air Force in 1961 and the Minuteman Missile in 1962.
    • Recognizing the need for a "demonstration product" to speed widespread use of the IC, Patrick E. Haggerty, former TI chairman, challenged Kilby to design a calculator as powerful as the large, electro-mechanical desktop models of the day, but small enough to fit in a coat pocket.
    • The resulting electronic hand-held calculator, of which Kilby is a co-inventor, successfully commercialized the integrated circuit.
    • From 1978 to 1985, he was Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University.
    • In 1983, Kilby retired from Texas Instruments.
    • He received the Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of the integrated circuit in December 2000.
    • Kilby died June 20, 2005 when he was 81, in Dallas, Texas
  • Space Update: Mars Has Water
    • Laboratory tests aboard NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander have identified water in a soil sample.
    • The Lander’s robotic arm delivered the sample Wednesday to an instrument that identifies vapors produced by the heating of samples.
    • Water was detected by the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA.
    • NASA also announced funding for the mission will extend through Sept. 30.
    • The soil sample came from a trench approximately 2 inches deep. When the robotic arm first reached that depth, it hit a hard layer of frozen soil.
    • Two attempts to deliver samples of icy soil on days when fresh material was exposed were foiled when the samples became stuck inside the scoop.
    • Most of the material in Wednesday’s sample had been exposed to the air for two days, letting some of the water in the sample vaporize away and making the soil easier to handle.
    • The mission is examining the sky as well as the ground. A Canadian instrument is using a laser beam to study dust and clouds overhead.
    • A full-circle, color panorama of Phoenix’s surroundings also has been completed by the spacecraft.
    • Phoenix Website: http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/
  • Cuil: New Search Engine
    • Website: http://www.cuil.com/
    • Anna Patterson’s last Internet search engine was so impressive that industry leader Google Inc. bought the technology in 2004 to upgrade its own system.
    • She believes her latest invention is even more valuable – only this time it’s not for sale.
    • Patterson instead intends to upstage Google, which she quit in 2006 to develop a more comprehensive and efficient way to scour the Internet.
    • The end result is Cuil, pronounced "cool."
    • Backed by $33 million in venture capital, the search engine plans to begin processing requests for the first time Monday.
    • Cuil had kept a low profile while Patterson, her husband, Tom Costello, and two other former Google engineers – Russell Power and Louis Monier – searched for better ways to search.
    • Cuil’s search index spans 120 billion Web pages.
    • Patterson believes that’s at least three times the size of Google’s index, although there is no way to know for certain. Google stopped publicly quantifying its index’s breadth nearly three years ago when the catalog spanned 8.2 billion Web pages.
    • A search index’s scope is important because information, pictures and content can’t be found unless they’re stored in a database.
    • But Cuil believes it will outshine Google in several other ways, including its method for identifying and displaying pertinent results.
    • Rather than trying to mimic Google’s method of ranking the quantity and quality of links to Web sites, Patterson says Cuil’s technology drills into the actual content of a page.
    • And Cuil’s results will be presented in a more magazine-like format instead of just a vertical stack of Web links.
    • Cuil’s results are displayed with more photos spread horizontally across the page and include sidebars that can be clicked on to learn more about topics related to the original search request.
    • Finally, Cuil is hoping to attract traffic by promising not to retain information about its users’ search histories or surfing patterns.
    • Patterson joined Google in 2004 after she built and sold Recall, a search index that probed old Web sites for the Internet Archive. She and Power worked on the same team at Google.
    • The trio of former Googlers are teaming up with Patterson’s husband, Costello, who built a once-promising search engine called Xift in the late 1990s. He later joined IBM Corp., where he worked on an "analytic engine" called WebFountain.
    • Costello’s Irish heritage inspired Cuil’s odd name. It was derived from a character named Finn McCuill in Celtic folklore.
    • Cuil’s first week could have been better. Server problems, relevancy of some page selections could have been better.
  • 3-D Printing for the Masses
    • A rapid-prototyping service opens up technology to hobbyists and designers.
    • Website: http://www.shapeways.com/
    • A new online service aims to bring customized manufacturing to the masses by allowing consumers to submit digital designs of products that are then printed, using 3-D printers, and shipped back.
    • Currently, such 3-D printers–in which successive layers of different polymers are sprayed gradually, building up a 3-D object–are very expensive.
    • The new service, launched last week, makes this technology accessible to anyone: budding artists, architects, product designers, and general hobbyists.
    • A small design company might want to make samples to show a client, or an artist might want to make copies of the same sculpture created digitally, for example.
    • Users submit their design in digital form, after which Shapeways’s software checks it over to ensure that it can be made.
    • Shapeways then passes the design to its production line of polymer printers, delivering the tangible object within 10 days of ordering, with prices typically between $50 and $150.
    • The 3-D printers that Shapeways is using are commercially available, made by Israeli firm Objet and Stratsys in Eden Prairie, MN.
    • The company also aims to increase the range of plastic materials that can be printed, and eventually move on to metals and ceramics.
    • While some 3-D printing services already exist, they are geared to professionals familiar with rendering designs in software suitable for 3-D printers.
    • Shapeways makes this process far easier. Its proprietary software checks customers’ designs to ensure that they are printable, and it tweaks them if necessary.
  • AMD Gets New CEO
    • In just more than six years with Ruiz as the leader of AMD, the chip company has lost a staggering $6.3 billion according to generally accepted accounting principles.
    • Despite all the setbacks, it’s still possible to argue that Ruiz leaves AMD a better place than it was before he took over.
      • All four major server vendors (Hewlett-Packard, Dell, IBM, and Sun Microsystems) have a relationship with AMD.
      • Corporate purchasing departments don’t shake their heads in confusion at seeing AMD’s name on a purchase order.
      • Cnsumers are quite used to seeing AMD-based systems on the store shelves at Best Buy and other stores alongside Intel systems.
    • Ruiz made AMD relevant to a much wider segment of the computer buying population than it was before he became the company’s CEO, and for sticking to his guns with AMD’s bet-the-farm strategy for its Opteron chip.
    • AMD succumbed to the classic innovator’s dilemma: once it was clear Opteron was a hit, especially in dual-core format, AMD failed to come up with a worthy successor.
    • His first mistake. It insisted on an integrated quad-core design for its third-generation Opteron processor. The project suffered from countless delays, and AMD allowed Intel to have the quad-core segment of the server market to itself for more than a year.
    • His biggest mistake. AMD spent $5.4 billion it didn’t have on ATI Technologies in order to find its next big thing in graphics technology. AMD has now written off $2.5 billion of goodwill related to that ATI purchase.
    • Ruiz will remain at AMD as chairman, but he’s leaving a day-to-day role at the company at a time when it is trying to get back to basics, to focus on execution and discipline rather than trying to take down giants.
  • FCC Rules against Comcast
    • The Federal Communications Commission came down hard on cable operator Comcast when it said its network management practices were illegal.
    • But what will the FCC’s move mean for the rest of the industry and the ongoing debate over Net neutrality?
    • The phone companies say the decision puts to rest any notion that Net neutrality legislation is needed, but Net neutrality proponents believe that a legal challenge from Comcast will necessitate the need for laws that make it clear the federal government has a role in keeping the Net open.
    • But in the long run, the ruling could give some ISPs the excuse they’ve been seeking to impose metered billing as a way to control network usage and help fund network upgrades.
    • But the fight for legislation protecting the openness of the Net may not be dead. If Comcast challenges the FCC’s decision in court, as many expect it will, that will likely call into question whether the FCC even has the authority to issue such an order or even require the company to comply with the order.
    • And it’s very likely that supporters of Net neutrality legislation will take this opportunity to ask Congress to clarify that the federal government does have authority.
    • The FCC’s ruling will end ISP plans to implement some kinds of technology, such as deep packet inspection, which looks into IP packets and identifies particular applications and protocols.
  • Tech Zombies: Technologies that don’t know they’re dead
    • Some technologies are like a Tyrannosaurus running down the highway.
    • They made sense once and now they’re hideously out of place, carried only by momentum as they stumble toward their inevitable date with the sixteen-wheeler of Progress.
    • Already Out
      • Phone Books
      • Newspapers
      • Pay Phones
      • Encyclopedias (replaced by Google)
    • On the Way Out
      • MP3 Players (to be replaced by multifunction phones)
      • DVD (to be replaced by downloaded media)
      • Cash (replaced by credit card, one use shown above)
      • Lecture Halls (replaced by online content)
      • Home phone with land line
  • Food Science: Caramel
    • Caramel (or Carmel) refers to a range of confections that are beige to dark brown in color, derived from the caramelization of one or several types of sugars, often occurring in the traditional cooking method of a sweet.
    • Caramel is made by heating sugar slowly to around 170 C (338 F). As the sugar melts and approaches this temperature, the molecules break down and re-form into compounds with a characteristic caramel color and flavor.
    • Caramel can provide the flavor in puddings and desserts, a filling in candies, or a topping for custards and ice creams.
    • A variety of candies, confections, and desserts are made with caramel and its products: caramel apples, barley sugar, caramel with nuts (such as praline, nougat, or brittle), and caramel with custard (such as crème caramel or crème brûlée).
    • Seneca first mentioned caramel in 65 BC.
    • The first scientific studies were done in 1838 by French chemist Etienne Peligot
      • During carmelization of sucrose, for example, the sucrose is disassociated into glucose and fructose.
      • These elementary sugars then recombine into more complex sugar compounds (oligosaccharides)
    • Along with the Maillard reaction, carmelization is one of the principal methods for culinary transformation.
      • Maillard reaction is a reaction of sugars with amino acids or proteins
      • Carmelization is a reaction that involves on sugars
    • My favorite carmelization: caramelized pecans for salad topping
    • Heat sugar until melts. Continue heating until slightly brown, but not burnt. At the nuts and cool on tin foil. If you want to make delicious candy caramel, add whipping cream and butter slowly as you stir.