Show of 11-15-2008

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Alice: My husband opened an email that he thought was from UPS and how my computer does not work properly. It tried to install files called Antivirus XP, and then it tried to install an XP Security Center and wanted me to register to rid and give them my credit card number. My McAfee and Spybot are disabled.
    • One of the geek services says my hard drive is damaged. Is there any way to get rid of this virus without having to pay a fortune in a new hard drive plus all the other geek service charges? Or should I just get a new computer? Alice
    • Tech Talk Answers: Your hard disk is not physically damaged. I hope that the technical service company didn’t really mean that. If they did, they are crooks. A virus is not going to physically harm your hard disk in such a way that you would need to replace it. And certainly nothing that would require a entirely new computer. Viruses impact only the software installed on your machine.
    • Cleaning your computer may not be easy. There are two schools of thought. Complete install from scratch. Cleaning the hard drive by removing the malware.
    • Cleaning requires that you run anti-malware software, possibly several different packages, repeatedly until the system comes up clean. You might have to reboot into safe mode in order to do so. Sometimes it works.
    • The only alternative is a clean install. The steps in the clean required that you:
      • Back up you data (not programs)
      • Reformat your hard disk (don’t do quick install because it does not check for bad sectors)
      • Reinstall Windows from scratch using your Windows installation CD or DVD (don’t forget to do the security updates)
      • Reinstall all your applications from scratch. (these need security updates to)
      • Restore data (only) from your backup
  • Profiles in IT: Charles Geschke and John Warnock
    • Charles M. Geschke and John Warnock co-founded Adobe
    • Geschke and Warnock developed Postscript, the page description language that enabled desktop publishing and the Apple Computer look and feel.
    • Charles Geschke was born September 11, 1939 in Cleveland.
      • He earned a BA in classics and an MS in mathematics from Xavier University
      • He then earned a PhD in computer science from Carnegie-Mellon University.
      • He joined Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the early 1970s as a research scientist in their Computer Sciences Laboratory.
      • He worked on programming language design and machine architecture, including the "Mesa" which was the basis for the Xerox Star workstation.
      • In 1978, Geschke formed the Imaging Sciences Laboratory at PARC.
    • John Warnock was born on October 6, 1940 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
      • He received a BS in mathematics and philosophy, MS in mathematics, and PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Utah.
      • The concepts of the page description language were started in 1976 when John Warnock was at Evans and Sutherland Computer Corporation.
      • Warnock was hired by Geschke at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1978 where he worked on interactive graphics.
      • John Warnock was assigned to worked with Martin Newell. They developed a Design System called JaM (John and Martin) which was used for VLSI design and the investigation of type and graphics printing.
    • Geschke and Warnock invented Page Description Language (PDL)?a means of describing complex forms like typefaces electronically, called Interpress, which was based on JaM. Interpress was adopted by Xerox as its internal publishing standard.
    • Unable to convince Xerox management to commercialize InterPress graphics language, Geshke and Warnock left Xerox to start Adobe in 1982.
      • The company was bankrolled with $2.5 million in venture capital from Hambrecht and Quist.
      • At their new company, they developed an equivalent technology, PostScript, from scratch, and brought it to market.
    • About the same time Steve Jobs, who had founded Apple Computers, urged Adobe to develop a system to drive a laser printer.
    • With the drop in price of memory, the first low cost laser printer engine from Canon, and a bit-mapped computer from Apple, the first PostScript printer hit the market in 1985. This was the Apple Laserwriter printer and it sold for $7000.
    • Adobe’s PostScript technology made it easier to print text and images from a computer, revolutionizing media and publishing in the 1980s.
    • Because it stored fonts as outline format descriptions, PostScript was machine-independent and extremely flexible.
    • Geschke retired as president of Adobe in 2000, shortly before his partner Warnock left as CEO.
  • The Coming Wireless Revolution
    • The FCC has decided to allow wireless applications take advantage of unused frequencies in between channels used by broadcast television, so-called white spaces.
    • For years, researchers have been toying with radios that are smart enough to hop from one frequency to another, leaving occupied channels undisturbed–an approach known as cognitive radio.
    • Companies including Motorola, Phillips, and Microsoft have all tested prototypes with mixed results and hope to have robust white-space devices soon.
    • Motorola is one of the first companies to have developed a white-space radio device that meets the basic requirements of the FCC.
    • Motorola’s radio finds occupied frequencies by accessing a database of registered television stations and wireless devices within its vicinity, which it determines by using GPS.
    • During an FCC trial in October, the Motorola’s device, which is about the size of a suitcase, was able to find some but not all of the allocated frequencies in its vicinity.
    • Motorola is more focused on bypassing wired Internet technology by providing broadband to rural areas and providing point-to-point wireless antennas.
    • Wireless Innovation Alliance, a consortium of companies that helped convince the FCC to open up white spaces, says other companies have a wide range of motives.
      • Dell may want to build broadband wireless Internet cards that are faster and have more range than existing ones do.
      • Microsoft could be interested in building software and applications for new devices.
      • Google may simply want to push Internet coverage to increase the number of people who see Google ads.
      • Another vendor wants to create a free national Internet access.
      • One white-space application would send high-definition television signals from one room to another within a house.
    • Performance artists fear that the technology will interfere with wireless mics.
    • Regulations will be needed to ensure that devices consistently avoid causing interference.
  • AMD Breaks New Microprocessor Ground
    • AMD has a plan and it is good the consumers.
    • Even if you just bought a PC with an Intel processor, its main advances over processors from 5 years ago – combined 32 and 64 bit capability, multiple processors on a single piece of silicon, and lower energy use – were all invented at AMD and then reluctantly introduced by Intel.
    • One place AMD has consistently lagged Intel is process technology, which is the technology of creating semiconductor chips with ever smaller surface features.
    • AMD met this challenge by doing more with less; their processor designs were significantly better than Intels from about 2000 until 2006.
    • But if AMD could be at the same level of process technology at the same time as Intel, it would be in a better position to press its design advantage.
    • During the last decade AMD, working with IBM, has created very sophisticated fabs in Germany, and it has narrowed Intel’s lead time.
    • But it is still 6 months to a year or more behind Intel.
    • AMD is now shipping chips using 45 nm technology, but Intel started shipping theirs at the beginning of 2008.
    • In the past decade many major semiconductor players have emerged that don’t have their own fabs. These fabless companies, like NVIDIA, have done very well.
    • AMD’s new strategy is to start allowing other companies to use its foundries when they need the advantage of cutting-edge chip manufacturing.
    • As this happens research and development costs can be spread out over a larger number chip makers.
    • With IBM, AMD and others working together it is possible that the AMD coalition could catch up with the Intel axis in process technology over the next few years.
    • AMD is contributing its fabs and some of its intellectual property to the Foundry Company, but Abu Dhabi will be the majority owners, in return for a multi-billion dollar cash infusion.
    • In addition to continuing to expand the AMD plants in Dresden, Germany, AMD will break ground on a new plant in New York State.
    • AMD chips use less power and are better at math and sending information to and from memory.
    • AMD is in the black; Q3 2008 AMD showed operating profits.
  • Two Thirds of Firms Hit by Cybercrime
    • The Department of Justice released data from its 2005 National Computer Security Survey, finding that two-thirds of firms detected at least one cybercrime during that year.
    • More than 7,800 companies responded to the survey, which classified cybercrime into cyber attacks, cyber theft, and other incidents.
    • The survey found that three-quarters of cyber attacks came from external sources, while insiders accounted for the same proportion of cyber thefts.
    • More than half of companies reported a cyber theft to law-enforcement authorities, but only 6 percent of cyber attacks were reported. Computer viruses made up more than half of all cyber attacks.
    • About 90 percent of businesses that suffered an incident sustained monetary loss, and cyber theft accounted for half of the loss.
    • Some surveys of companies have found that damages due to cybercrime have fallen.
    • In 2006, the Computer Security Institute released their annual survey finding that corporate losses due to cybersecurity incidents had fallen for the fifth straight year.
  • Engineering: Suddenly In Demand with College Grads
    • As the financial crisis deepens, science and math grads who once flocked to investment banking are now considering jobs in engineering
    • Jobs in investment banking are not longer attractive.
    • The global market crash and the contraction of the financial sector has dramatically changed the decision matrix for tens of thousands of promising math, science, and engineering graduates.
    • Students who in years past would have flocked to Wall Street are considering careers in engineering and technology.
    • The tech sector is shaky, too. But few expect Silicon Valley to undergo the downfall suffered by Wall Street.
    • Tech Job Losses in 2008 Could Be Highest Since 2003
    • Last quarter saw the highest number of tech layoffs in nearly five years, according to a report from Challenger Gray & Christmas, an executive outplacement firm that tracks job losses in electronics, telecom and computer industries.
    • Through the end of September, there were close to 70,000 jobs lost in the tech sector, which is the second-highest quarter of losses since the fourth-quarter of 2003, when there were 82,000 job cuts.
    • Given the current rate of layoffs — Chellenger Gray estimates that it is averaging 22,000 per month for the second-half of the year — there could be a total of 180,000 tech jobs cut in 2008, which would make it the highest year of jobs cut since 2003, when there were 228,000 jobs lost.
    • The tech sector is simply the latest victim in this downturn that began last year with the collapse of the housing market, and quickly spread to the financial markets.
    • Since then, the impact has rippled throughout the economy and job cuts have surged in several industries, including retail, transportation, media, entertainment and leisure, automotive and even health care.
  • Israeli Candidate Uses Obama’s Web Strategy
    • Benjamin Netanyahu, the conservative Likud leader running for prime minister of Israel, has copied the look and feel of Barack Obama’s website.
    • The colors, the fonts, the icons for donating and volunteering, the use of videos, and the social networking Facebook-type options ? including Twitter, which hardly exists in Israel ? all reflect a conscious effort by the Netanyahu campaign to learn from the Obama success.
    • Those who created the Obama Web site at Blue State Digital say the Netanyahu site is closer to Mr. Obama’s than any others they have seen.
    • Web sites aside, for liberals in both countries, the idea of Mr. Netanyahu as the Obama candidate of Israel seems mystifying.
    • Mr. Netanyahu is the most hawkish and the least interested in the focus on dialogue with adversaries that Mr. Obama made a centerpiece of his foreign policy platform.
    • The phrase ?Together we can succeed? is the campaign slogan on the Netanyahu site, and it echoes, to some extent, Mr. Obama’s ?Yes we can.?
    • The campaign said that like the Obama operation, it would bombard its supporters with messages for volunteering and donating and set up a site where supporters could communicate with one another without the campaign’s direct involvement.
    • Web Address: http://netanyahu.org.il/
  • Google Is Taking Questions using iPhone Application
    • Google has added sophisticated voice recognition technology to the company’s search software for the Apple iPhone.
    • Users of the free application can place the phone to their ear and ask virtually any question, like ?Where’s the nearest Starbucks?? or ?How tall is Mount Everest??
    • The sound is converted to a digital file and sent to Google’s servers, which try to determine the words spoken and pass them along to the Google search engine.
    • The search results, which may be displayed in just seconds on a fast wireless network, will at times include local information, taking advantage of iPhone features that let it determine its location.
    • Both Yahoo and Microsoft already offer voice services for cellphones. The Microsoft Tellme service returns information in specific categories like directions, maps and movies.
    • Yahoo’s oneSearch with Voice is more flexible but does not appear to be as accurate as Google’s offering.
    • The service can be used to get restaurant recommendations and driving directions, look up contacts in the iPhone’s address book or just settle arguments in bars.
    • Raj Reddy, an artificial intelligence researcher at Carnegie Mellon University who has done pioneering work in voice recognition, said Google’s advantage in this field was the ability to store and analyze vast amounts of data. Whatever they introduce now, it will greatly increase in accuracy in three or six months.
    • The new iPhone search capability is not the first speech offering from Google. In March, it announced that GOOG-411, an experimental directory information service, had turned into a real product.
    • The service allows users to ask for business phone and address information. The company said it had built on its experience and the data it collected through GOOG-411 in developing the iPhone service.
    • To us this service, just call 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411)
    • The new service is an example of the way Google tries to blend basic computer science research with product engineering. The company has hired many of the best speech recognition researchers in the world and now has teams working on different aspects of the problem in New York, London and its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
    • An intriguing part of the overall design of the service was contributed by a Google researcher in London, who found a way to use the iPhone accelerometer ? the device that senses how the phone is held ? to set the software to ?listen? mode when the phone is raised to the user’s ear.
    • Google researchers said that another of its advantages over competitors was the billions of queries its users have made over the years.
    • Google recently published a technical paper on building large models for machine translation of language. The researchers wrote that they had trained the system on two trillion ?tokens,? or words.
  • Top IT Management Concerns
    • Society of Information Management’s (SIM) annual IT Trends Survey is complete.
    • SIM published the results of the 2008 survey
    • Here are the top 10 IT management concerns.
      • IT and business alignment
      • Build business skills in IT
      • IT strategic planning
      • Attracting IT professionals
      • Making better use of information
      • Manage change
      • Reduce the cost of doing business
      • Improving IT quality
      • Retaining IT professionals
      • Security and privacy
    • Top Five Technology & Application Developments
      • Antivirus protection
      • Business Intelligence (BI)
      • (tie) Business Process Management (BPM)
      • (tie) Continuity Planning and Disaster Recovery
      • Server Virtualization
  • Flu Follower
    • Google’s data is as good at tracking disease as the data collected by the Centers for Disease Control?
    • Google has found, and it shows trends a lot faster than the CDC’s data, although it’s not quite as accurate.
    • Undeterred, Google has gone ahead and launched its flu tracker, which basically plots out where cases of the flu are popping up based on the terms people enter into its search engine.
    • According to the tracker
      • Virginia and Maryland are moderate risk
      • DC is not listed
    • In previous years, flu inquiries have peaked in December and February
    • Website: http://www.google.org/flutrends/
  • Top execs cast blame in Vista Capable Claims
    • New e-mails unsealed in a lawsuit Friday show that a Hewlett Packard executive was outraged at a Microsoft decision to loosen the requirements necessary for a PC to be labeled ‘Vista Capable.’
    • The HP executive’s concerns then triggered an angry internal exchange of e-mails between senior Microsoft executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer.
    • Plaintiffs in the class-action case say that Microsoft misled consumers by loosening the requirements because some PCs labeled as ‘Vista Capable’ could only run a basic version of the operating system.
    • The decision pleased Intel because it would be able to sell more of an older-generation of its chipsets, but upset HP because HP had invested in upgrading its computers to match the original requirements.
    • After Microsoft loosened the requirements, senior vice president of HP’s consumer PC unit, Richard Walker fired off an e-mail to Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Johnson and Jim Allchin, the co-president of Microsoft’s platforms and services division complaining about the classification.
    • Microsoft’s Allchin then forwarded the e-mail to Ballmer, implying that he had heard that the change in requirements was due to a call between Ballmer and Intel CEO Paul Otellini:
    • Ballmer responded, deflecting any blame to another Microsoft executive, Will Poole.
  • Food Science: Green Tea
    • Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one. –Ancient Chinese Proverb
    • In 1994 the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results of an epidemiological study indicating that drinking green tea reduced the risk of esophageal cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly sixty percent.
    • University of Purdue researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. There is also research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol.
    • The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It has also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots.