Email and Forum Questions Profiles in IT: Robert H. Dennard Skype 4.0 Released Cold-Virus Genome Revealed Neanderthal Genome Unraveled SanDisk Announces 64 GB Flash Memory Space Crash Creates Debris Space Traffic Numbers Microsoft Bounty for worm creator Car Show Update: Chrysler Wi-Fi Hotspot Announced Food Science: Cooking Green Vegetables
Email from Peter: Dear Tech Talk. I have heard that using BCC is one way to reduce the amount of spam your recipients might get as the email is forwarded further. Is it true that if I use BCC to email attachments, it will mean less danger of spam? Peter.
Tech Talk Answers: Using BCC allows you to hide the actual email addresses of those who are receiving your email. Addresses less vulnerable to harvesting.
You do this by sending the actual mail to yourself or to a ?holder? email address and then placing all other emails in the BCC field (Blind CC). That way each recipient only sees the ?holder? email address.
It’s all about keeping their email addresses private and unharvestable.
Email from Monica: I have a 80 GB hard disk in my system. I’d like to upgrade the storage capacity. Which is a better option: external hard disk or internal hard disk? Thanks Monica
You have three options: adding an external hard drive, adding an internal hard drive, replacing your current drive with a larger drive.
Adding an external USB (or Firewire/1394) drive is the easiest approach. The biggest downside to this approach is speed. USB 2.0 is rated to 480 Mbps, about half the speed on an internal drive. Other devices on the USB network can seriously degrade this speed. USB 3 (soon to hit the shelves) is 10 times faster.
Installing an additional drive into your machine is the best way to get the maximum performance out of a new drive. You need to be comfortable opening up your machine and following the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the internal drive.
If you want that drive to be internal, but your computer doesn’t have room for an additional internal drive (perhaps it’s a laptop), or you just want your C: drive to remain as is, only bigger, the only practical alternative is to replace it. The complication here is that you’ll need to move your data from one drive to the other as part of the replacement.
Profiles in IT: Robert H. Dennard
Robert Heath Dennard invented the one-transistor dynamic random access memory DRAM, one of the most significant advances in computer technology:
Robert Dennard was born September 5, 1932 in Terrell, Texas.
He received a band scholarship from Southern Methodist University (SMU).
He received his BSEE and MSEE from SMU in 1954 and 1956, respectively.
He earned a Ph.D. from Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, PA in 1958.
He was hired by the Research Division of IBM as a Staff Engineer in 1958.
He is currently an IBM Fellow at the IBM’s Watson Research Lab.
In 1966, Dennard invented one-transistor Dynamic Random Access Memory (or DRAM, better known simply as RAM).
Dennard’s research team was working on field-effect transistors (FETs) and integrated circuits, using the then standard six-transistor memory cell for each bit of data.
His key insight was that it should be possible to store binary data as a positive or negative charge on a capacitor.
Dennard’s revolutionary achievement was to reduce RAM to a memory cell with only a single transistor.
The problem was that leakage would discharge the capacitor in milliseconds.
The idea of a memory chip that couldn’t "remember" anything for longer than a heartbeat sounded a little absurd when Dennard first announced it to his colleagues.
After several months of experimenting, Dennard had reduced his RAM cell to a small capacitor and a single field-effect transistor gating the flow of data to and from a data line.
RAM patent 3,387,286 (US) issued June 4, 1968
The ultimate effect of Dennard’s invention was that a single chip can hold a billion or more RAM cells in today’s computers.
Dennard won a patent for his one-transistor RAM in 1968. By the early 1970s, it was commercially available, and by the mid-1970s, it was standard in virtually all computers.
$25 billion worth of RAM, in and of itself, is sold every year.
He has continued his career of invention, in refinements to RAM, specialized FETs, and low-voltage, high-performance operation of circuits.
The scaling theory he and his colleagues formulated in 1974 observed that MOSFETs would continue to function as voltage-controlled switches while all key figures of merit such as layout density, operating speed, and energy efficiency would improve provided geometric dimensions, voltages, and doping concentrations were consistently scaled such as to maintain the same electric field.
The evolution of microelectronics we have witnessed since along with Moore’s law that captures it rest on this property.
Dennard was appointed a Fellow of IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center in 1979.
In 1988, he was awarded National Medal of Technology by President Ronald Reagan.
In1997, he was Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
In 2005, he received the Lemelson Lifetime Achievement Award.
He is still employed as an IBM Fellow.
Skype 4.0 Released
First major release since taken over by eBay
Still outstanding audio
Cold-Virus Genome Revealed
The research, published this week in the journal Science.
Scientists have now sequenced all of the 99 known strains of cold virus.
These different viruses can swap DNA sequences, generating new strains that can evade the immune system.
The existing reservoir of viruses worldwide is huge and they have a tendency to swap genetic sequences when cells are infected by more than one virus.
Having sequenced the complete genomes of these things, scientists now know you can be infected by more than one virus at a time and that they can recombine their genes.
That’s why we’ll never have a vaccine for the common cold, according to the report.
Neanderthal Genome Unraveled
Man’s closest ancestors, the Neanderthals, disappeared about 30,000 years ago, leaving little more than their bones behind.
Researchers have revealed a first draft of the complete Neanderthal genome, using these bones.
The project was completed in by Max Planck Institute in Germany.
Most of the analysis derived from half gram of bone removed from 38,000-year-old fossils excavated from Vindija Cave in Croatia.
Studying the DNA will tell us what makes modern humans really modern.
Neanderthals lacked the lactase gene, present mostly in European humans, which allows adults to digest milk.
Researchers confirmed that the ancient hominid did share with us the only gene known to be implicated in speech and language, FoxP2, which earlier studies had only suggested was the case.
Scientists are currently looking for evidence in the Neanderthal genome of a contribution from human ancestors."
Microbes also invade a skeleton and saturate it with their own DNA; in even the most well-preserved bones, only 4 percent of the DNA belongs to its original owner.
The largest challenge has been finding ways to detect and eliminate sequences from human DNA from the Neanderthal samples.
This time around, to correct for contamination, they placed of genetic tags on all bone-derived DNA, which allowed them to detect and discard all untagged DNA as contaminants.
SanDisk Announces 64 GB Flash Memory
SanDisk has announced a significant advance in flash-memory technology that enables 64 gigabits of data to be stored on a chip the size of a fingernail.
The new, more spacious flash chips do this by holding four bits per memory cell, as opposed to the standard one or two bits per cell.
SanDisk presented details of the advance at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week.
In recent years, engineers have found another way to increase the capacity of flash drives, without waiting for the transistors to shrink. They do this by storing more than one bit of data per transistor, within what are referred to as multilevel cells (MLCs)
In a single-level cell, data is stored using two distinct states, defined by different voltage levels.
In contrast, a four-bit MLC stores information in 16 states, which translates into four bits of data per cell, or four times the amount of information.
Ensuring that each memory cell maintains precisely the right voltage, without disturbing that of neighboring cells, is a major challenge. So is write speed.
SanDisk tackled these problems with new algorithms that run on a flash-memory chip controller. In order to write and read data to and from cells, engineers employ some of the transistors on a flash chip to control the other transistors used to store data.
These algorithms are significant factors in reliably cramming in four bits per cell.
Space Crash Creates Debris
An out-of-service Russian military satellite collided with a working U.S. Iridium commercial satellite hundreds of miles above Siberia Tuesday Feb. 10, 2009
The collision was the first high-speed impact between two intact spacecraft.
The crash generated estimated tens of thousands of pieces of space junk that could circle Earth and threaten other satellites for the next 10,000 years.
Most fragments are concentrated near the collision course. Some debris was thrown into other orbits, ranging from 300 to 800 miles above Earth.
The two large debris clouds from Tuesday’s crash will spread over time, forming a shell around Earth.
Space Traffic Numbers
898 — The number of active satellites currently in orbit around Earth, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Satellite Database. The countries that have the most satellites in orbit: the United States, with 463; Russia, with 90; and China, with 48.
30 — The number of days it will take a satellite to fall to Earth from a low altitude of 190 miles. Satellites at 250 miles?where the International Space Station resides?would come down in a few years without a boost. Objects in geostationary orbit?above the dragging effects of Earth’s atmosphere?could take more than 1 million years to fall.
17,300 — The estimated number of pieces of debris larger than 10 centimeters in diameter that are being tracked by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network. The SSN also tracks more than 300,000 objects measuring between 1 and 10 cm and billions that are much smaller.
Microsoft Bounty for worm creator
A reward of $250,000 has been offered by Microsoft to find who is behind the Downadup/Conficker virus.
Since it started circulating in October 2008 the Conficker worm has managed to infect millions of computers worldwide.
The software giant is offering the cash reward because it views the Conficker worm as a criminal attack.
Arbor Networks said as many as 12 million computers could be affected globally by Conficker/Downadup since it in October 2008.
The Conficker worm is a self-replicating program that takes advantage of networks or computers that have not kept up to date with Windows security patches.
It can infect machines via a net connection or by hiding on USB memory drives used to ferry data from one computer to another.
The worm maneuvers through networks by guessing usernames and passwords.
Security specialists recommend hardening passwords by mixing in numbers, punctuation marks and capital letters.
The virus reports in to its creators for updates by visiting a web domain. It generates the name of the domain itself using a complicated code which security firms have cracked to track the growth of the worm and block its progress.
Malware such as Downadup can be triggered to steal data or turn control of infected computers over to malicious hackers which pool them into larger armies of so-called botnets.
These networks of compromised machines can be used to send spam, as dead drops for stolen or pirated data and to launch attacks on other machines.
Although Downadup is widespread its creators have yet to activate its payload to steal data or launch other attacks.
Rewards of $250,000 were offered over three other major computer worm threats known as Blaster, MyDoom and Sobig worms.
Those perpetrators have never been caught
Car Show Update: Chrysler Wi-Fi Hotspot Announced
In what the company claims is an industry first, Chrysler announced uconnect web, a system that brings wireless Internet connectivity to any Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep.
It turns the car into a WiFi hotspot that provides secure, real-time entertainment and information to all vehicle passengers.
The hotspot range will extend approximately 50 feet from the vehicle in all directions, and will combine both WiFi and 3G cellular connectivity.
Since this is ultimately a cellular service, despite its emphasis on WiFi, the pricing will be complex:
The U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the router module is $449.
Autonet Mobile offers wireless Internet account service at $29 a month, available in 12-, 24- and 36-month service plans. There is a one-time $35 service activation fee.
Uconnect web will be powered by Autonet Mobile, and will be available in August as a dealer-installed Mopar accessory.
Food Science: Cooking Green Vegetables
Dark green vegetables are sources of vitamins A and C.
Green vegetables contain chlorophyll, the green pigment. If you overcook vegetables, or cook them in an acid liquid, they will lose the attractive green color and become drab olive-green or brown.
Leave the lid off for the first five minutes of cooking. This will allow the plant acids to escape in the steam and help to prevent some of the discoloration.
Never add a pinch of baking soda to vegetables. It will preserve the green color, because it makes the water alkaline, but it destroys vitamins and makes vegetables mushy.
Don’t overcook green vegetables! The best way to ensure the best flavor, color, texture and food value is to cook vegetables only until they are tender.
The less water you use in cooking, and the shorter the cooking time, the more nutrients will stay in the vegetables.
You might want to stir-fry green vegetables like broccoli. Cook and stir chopped vegetables in a small amount of hot oil in a frying pan or a wok. Remove vegetables from oil as soon as they are crisp-tender.