Show of 11-29-2008

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email form Eleanor: Dear Tech Talk. I am a web developer and am worried about the economy. What are my career options? Love the show and the hosts! Eleanor
    • Tech Talk Answers: All business marketing has migrated to the web. I would become involved with the development of sites that incorporate the latest trends in marketing, including social networking. Become very familiar with the technology for tracking web traffic on the site, click through effectiveness. The more you tie your technical capability with the success of the business, the more your job will be recession proof. You might consider combining a business degree with your technical degree, particularly if it relates to marketing. The internet is confusing many traditional companies. Where there is confusing, there is opportunity.
  • Profiles in IT: Alan Field Shugart
    • Alan Field Shugart is widely considered a pioneer of the disk drive.
    • Alan Shugart was born September 7, 1930 in Los Angeles, CA.
    • He received a BS in Engineering Physics from the University of Redlands.
    • In 1951, he began his career at IBM in San Jose, California, where he worked on the IBM 305 RAMAC. . He worked on the IBM 305 RAMAC. The IBM 305 RAMAC was the first commercial computer that used a moving head hard disk drive.
    • Shugart contributed to or managed a number of difficult disk drive development programs over his 18-year career at IBM, including the groundbreaking RAMAC 305–IBM’s first disk drive–and the legendary 1311 removable disk pack drive.
    • The floppy disk was invented by IBM engineers led by Alan Shugart.
    • The first floppy was an 8-inch flexible plastic disk coated with magnetic iron oxide; computer data was written to and read from the disk’s surface. The first Shugart floppy held 100 KBs of data.
    • The nickname "floppy" came from the disk’s flexibility. The floppy disk was considered revolutionary because it provided a new and easy way to transport data.
    • Shugart rose to become director of engineering in 1969 but left that same year to become vice-president of product development at competitor Memorex.
    • In 1971, IBM introduced the first "memory disk" or now known as "floppy disk."
    • Shugart remained at Memorex until 1972
    • He then launched Shugart Associates in 1972, taking several loyal followers with him, where they worked on, among other things, perfecting the eight-inch floppy disk drive as a mass-produced device.
    • After a dispute over company direction with his board, Shugart left in 1974, moved to Santa Cruz, opened a bar with some friends, bought a fishing boat, and wrote a book.
    • In 1976, the 5 1/4" flexible disk was developed by Alan Shugart for Wang Labs.
    • One interesting story about the 5 1/4-inch floppy disk is how the size was decided. Two engineers were discussing the floppy with An Wang at a bar. Wang motioned to a drink napkin and stated "about that size" which happened to be 5 1/4-inches wide.
    • In 1979, he and Finis Conner founded Seagate Technology with $1.5 million in start-up funding with the mission of producing hard disk drives for the personal computer.
    • Their first commercial product was a 5 1/4" 5-MB hard disk drive that sold for $1,500 and became a major enabling technology for the PC industry.
    • Within a decade, Seagate became the world’s largest producer of disk drives.
    • In July 1998, Shugart resigned his positions with Seagate.
    • In 1996 he launched an unsuccessful campaign to elect his dog, Ernest, to Congress.
    • He later wrote a book about it, Ernest Goes to Washington (Well, Not Exactly).
    • In 2000, he backed a failed ballot initiative in 2000 to give California voters the option of choosing "none of the above" in elections.
    • Shugart is considered by most industry analysts as one of the most influential and admired figures in the storage industry.
    • In 1997, he won the IEEE Rey Johnson Award for the advancement of information storage technology.
    • Shugart died on December 12, 2006 in Monterey, California.
  • Rovio Mobile Web Cam: My New Toy
    • Website: http://www.myrovio.com/
    • Rovio is a mobile robotic web camera with omni-directional movement.
    • It uses a tri-wheel design that lets it go in any direction and rotate in place.
    • Rovio uses two infrared spots projected on the ceiling by the docking station to navigate back for recharging.
    • Additional projectors can be used for multi-room navigation.
    • It web camera has audio and video streaming capability so you can spy on your home from anywhere in the world.
    • It uses the 802.11b/g WiFi access and can be accessed over the web, if configured properly.
    • List price: $300. Street price: $250.
  • Quick Network Tutorial So We Can Configure Rovio
    • Network Address Translation (NAT) Servers
      • Internal IP addresses are not registered or seen externally
      • External IP address is registered. Only one is needed for your network.
    • Each computer address has two parts: the IP address and the port number.
      • IP address identifies the computer
      • Port Number identifies a particular program on the computer
    • A NAT device translates internal IP addresses to an external IP address.
    • The firewall blocks all incoming port requests. To connect to a webcam, you must open up the ports required to establish the connection. To maintain security for the other computers on the network, the ports are forwarded to only the device which needs them.
  • Configuring Rovio for Web Access
    • Step One: Enable Port Forwarding the Router. In this case both Port 80 and Port 554 must be forwarded. Connect to your router using either 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1. Port Forwarding is part of the Firewall Configuration. Forward those two ports to the internal web address of Rovio, which in my case was 192.168.1.6. I directed by router to always give it this address.
    • Step Two: Check if the connection works. Go to another network (like Starbuck, McDonalds, or your neighbor’s network) and log onto the external web address of your router. You can discover this by logging onto your router and checking the main screen. Or you can just go to http://whatismyipaddress.com/
    • Step Three: If the connection does not work, your ISP may be blocking Port 80. In my case, Verizon FIOS does block Port 80 (as well as Port 25). I changed the web port for Rovio to from Port 80 to Port 8080 using the network tab under settings and then adjusted the port forwarded to forward 8080 in addition to 554.
    • Step Four: Set up a Dynamic DNS so you don’t have to remember the external IP address. Configure your router to automatically communicate with your Dynamic DNS whenever you IP address changes. One of the oldest free Dynamic DNS providers is www.dyndns.com.
    • Step Five: Enjoy. Remember to include the Port 8080 in the web address (e.g. http://mywebcam.dyndns.org:8080/)
  • Buying a Flat Panel TV
    • Contrast Ratio — Contrast ratio refers to the brightest and darkest light values a display can produce at the same time. LCD contrast-ratio specs start at about 600:1, while those for plasmas start at about 1000:1.
    • Aspect Ratio — The aspect ratio describes the relationship of screen width to screen height. Conventional sets have a 4:3 aspect ratio, whereas wide-screen models are 16:9.
    • Video Inputs — HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a digital video input (DVI) that includes digital audio and control link. HDMI is the dominant digital connection interface for HDTVs today. Aim to get an HDTV with at least three or four HDMI inputs.
    • Resolution — Digital content currently is delivered in one of five formats: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. The 720p and 1080i formats are used by satellite, cable, and over-the-air-broadcast high-definition content providers, as well as some advanced DVD players. Blu-ray Discs output 1080p video, though Blu-ray players can deliver the content in 1080i or 720p format. Given that the price differential between 720p and and 1080p has narrowed considerably, buy a set that supports 1080p.
    • Screen Size — To determine the best viewing distance, and therefore how much space you’ll need in your TV room, remember this simple bit of math:
    • Note the screen size in inches and multiply it by 2. Take, for example, a 52-inch set. The sweet spot for viewing is 104 inches away, or a little more than 8.5 feet from the screen.
    • Plasma versus LCD — Plasma is better for large screen applications, brightly lit areas, wide field of view requirements.
    • LCD is better for smaller screen sizes (because pixel size is smaller), narrow field of view viewing, and darker viewing areas.
    • Built-In Tuners — Most current flat-panel displays include a tuner for conventional analog broadcast and cable-TV reception and for broadcast HDTV. A few, however, are strictly business–they’re monitors with no built-in tuner (more common for plasmas than for LCDs).
  • Buying a Laptop Computer
    • AMD versus Intel CPU(AMD a better buy)
    • Dual Core CPU a must
    • RAM (get 4GB)
    • Hard Disk Size (at least 160 MB, 250 MB better)
    • Screen size (at least 15.4 inch LCD)
    • Wi-fi (required 802.11g)
    • Bluetooth is nice (if you want to use Bluetooth peripherals)
    • Great buys in the $300- $500 range from Asus, Lenovo and HP.
  • Buying a Digital Cameras
    • Resolution (10 MP now the norm)
    • Optical Zoom versus Electronic Zoom (at least 3:1, 5:1 better, 8:1 great)
    • Electronic Stabilization (must have)
    • Ease of Use (Flash mode selection, Delayed Shutter)
    • Movie and Sound enabled (fun, but not too useful)
    • Memory Size and Speed (at least 4G)
    • Display size (a personal preference, depends on your vision)
    • Form Factor (stored in purse or around your neck)
    • Battery life (get a backup battery for your travels)
  • Other popular gifts
    • Apple iPods and Nano are still popular
    • Nintendo Wii is still selling briskly (with Wii-fit games)
    • Portable GPS Devices
      • Screen size
      • Verbal directions
      • Bluetooth phone link
      • Ease of programming
      • Three top contenders
        • TomTom Go 930 at $400 to $500
        • Magellan 4259 at under $500
        • Garmin Nuvi 880 at $600.
    • Touch screen Cell Phones
      • CDMA (Verizon) versus GSM (AT&T, T-Mobile)
      • Cost of phone plan (3G capable)
      • Availability of applications
      • Built-in accelerometer for apps
      • GPS capable for apps (including directions)
      • Screen size for web browsing
      • Keyboard (on-screen or mechanical)
      • Top Contenders
        • Apple i-Phone ? $199
        • T-Mobiles G1 Phone (based on Android) ? 179
        • Blackberry Bold (AT &T ) — $299
        • Blackberry Storm (Verizon) — $249
    • Robots and Robot Kits
      • Lego Mindstorm for $249
      • Robot kits (www.robotstore.com) as low as $129
    • Gifts for the Geek
    • Amazon Kindle for e-Books ($360). The verdict is that it is easy to read in bed with the Kindle. Download books directly from Amazon using free cell phone link. Emails to documents to Kindle. Free connection of Wikipedia.
  • Joe the Plumber’s Next Gig: DTV Transition Spokesman
    • The man who gained national attention during the presidential campaign for being an average Joe is starring in a series of videos intended to educate other ordinary Americans about the transition to digital TV.
    • Joe Wurzelbacher, better know as Joe the Plumber, signed a deal with an online converter box retailer, VelocityStore.com, to star in a series of educational videos to inform TV watchers about what the transition is all about, how to hook up a converter box and how to get a government-sponsored coupon to help buy a box.
    • In his first video posted on the retailer’s site, Wurzelbacher says he wanted to work with VelocityStore.com because it’s the only retailer that is offering information in Spanish and Chinese — two languages spoken by viewers who will be largely affected by the transition, which happens Feb. 17. The site plans to add other languages, such as Vietnamese, soon.
    • "He has analog TV. He’s an average American. You can’t get more average American than people who have analog. One thing people have in common is that they’re all confused."
  • Food Science: Frozen Turkey Revisited
    • Cooking a frozen turkey cooks the dark meat longer and maintains a moister white meat.
    • We experimented on Thanksgiving.
    • A 20 pound turkey (thawed) should have been in the oven for 4.5 hours.
    • A 20 pound turkey (frozen) should be in the oven 50% more time or 6.75 hours.
    • We did the experiment and the results were perfect.
    • Careful calculations show that cooking time is proportional to the square of the size of the food, rather than the weight.