Show of 3-21-2009

  • Email and Forum Questions
    • Email from Maria: Dear Tech Talk. Someone got into my MSN Hotmail accounts and changed my password and all the security info, and blocked me completely out. All the contacts I have are being sent scam letters saying it’s me and to send $2300 to Lagos, Nigeria. I’ve tried to contact Hotmail, letting them know what has happened and asking if there is anything that can be done about stopping them and closing the accounts. I can’t find anyone to contact. Please help. Love the show. Maria
    • Tech Talk Answers: Unfortunately, your story isn’t all that uncommon. It seems to be the latest fad among scammers: steal someone’s account and then impersonate them to their contacts – make up a fake emergency and hope that some of your friends will help "you" out by sending them money. I’m not at all hopeful there’s much that can be done.
      • Microsoft recently created the Windows Live Help Solutions Center, which is an online resource for resolving Hotmail related issues. However, Microsoft does not offer any direct phone or email support for Windows Live Hotmail. So there is no one contact.
    • In your case, I would:
      • Create a new account (perhaps on a paid, or different free email system)
      • Email all your contacts that what they’re seeing is a scam and that they should ignore any and all email from your old email address
      • Start using the new email address
      • Take care that it not be stolen
      • Try to recover the old one, with the expectation that those attempts will fail
    • Make certain to use a strong password and then protect it.
    • Never, ever, rely on a free email account as the only place to keep important emails and contacts.
  • Profiles in IT: Yukihiro Matsumoto
    • Yukihiro Matsumoto, or "Matz," as he is known online, is the creator of the Ruby programming language and the Ruby interpreter.
    • Ruby is an easy to use object-oriented language suitable for writing day to day scripts as well as full-scale applications.
    • Yukihiro Matsumoto (a.k.a. Matz) was born April 14, 1965 in Osaka, Japan.
    • When he was in high school as a self-taught programmer, he had an interest in programming languages. He thought, one day he would will create his own.
    • He graduated with an information science degree from Tsukuba University, where he began working on programming languages and compilers.
    • Back in 1993, Matz was talking with a colleague about scripting languages. He was pretty impressed by their power and their possibilities. He felt scripting was the way to go. He felt that object-oriented programming was very suitable for scripting.
    • He wanted a scripting language that was more powerful than Perl, and more object-oriented than Python.
    • He wanted a language that made him productive while being fun to use.
    • He started developing Ruby on February 24, 1993. The first "hello world" program in Ruby ran in the summer of that same year. Matz was 28
    • The first alpha version was released in December 1994, as open source code.
    • He believed that if he had tried to sell Ruby, it would have had no users and been another dead-end language. Because of the decision to go open source, Ruby has become widely used.
    • Until 1996, he worked alone. Then a Ruby community has formed.
    • Ruby is named after the gemstone, like Perl
    • Pearl is the birthstone for June and ruby is the birthstone for July. He believes Ruby is an appropriate name for the next language after Perl.
    • Larry Wall, creator of Perl, is his hero.
    • The guiding philosophy when designing Ruby is called the "principle of least surprise." He believe people want to express themselves when they program. They don’t want to fight with the language. Programming languages must feel natural to programmers. He tried to make people enjoy programming and concentrate on the fun and creative part of programming when they use Ruby.
    • Ruby was designed to be human-oriented. It reduces the burden of programming. It tries to push jobs back to machines. You can accomplish more tasks with less work, in smaller yet readable code.
    • As of 2009, Matsumoto is the head of the research and development department at the Network Applied Communication Laboratory, an open source systems integrator company in Shimane, Japan.
    • He is the fellow of Rakuten Institute of Technology,
    • He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served as a missionary for the church.
    • Matsumoto is married and has four children.
    • Ruby website: http://www.ruby-lang.org/
  • Silicon Valley’s ‘Tech Innovation Deficit
    • The Innovation Economy: R&D and a Crisis round table was held at the Microsoft Research Silicon Valley campus.
    • The broad conclusion is that Silicon Valley and the broader tech industry hampered by:
      • An innovation deficit.
      • Fear of failure.
      • Greed and short term thinking.
      • Meddling MBAs and lawyers
    • Josephine Cheng, IBM vice president and fellow, suggested the problems in the U.S. were partly because we have "too many MBAs and lawyers.?
    • Judy Estrin discussed the Innovation Gap. She wrote the book, Closing The Innovation Gap: Reigniting the Spark of Creativity in a Global Economy.
    • Her hope is that the sudden, deep impact of the economic downturn will lead to new thinking, innovation and strategies that are built to last.
    • She said the current credit and liquidity crisis is holding back entrepreneurs who can’t get adequate funding for their startups.
    • Cheng said information technology has been evolving at such a rapid clip, it’s probably a good thing the economy is forcing a slow down. "The Chinese character for crisis also includes opportunity."
    • She also suggested companies would be well-advised to follow IBM’s strategy of having well-balanced investments in both short- and long-term research.
    • Others noted that recent investments in computing infrastructure are priming the way to new innovative services (Google and Amazon cloud computing)
    • Cheng said she thinks companies are essentially being forced to innovate.
    • Things couldn’t be any worse than they are today; that forces people to focus.
    • Cheng said that she is very optimistic.
  • Big Idea of the Week: Adjustable Glasses
    • On March 23 1985, Josh Silver, a professor of physics at Oxford University, wondered whether glasses might be adjusted without the need for expensive specialist equipment.
    • What if it were possible, he thought, to make a pair of glasses which, instead of requiring an optician, could be "tuned" by the wearer to correct his or her own vision?
    • Might it be possible to bring affordable spectacles to millions who would never otherwise have them?
    • After more than 20 years, Silver has the answer. A resounding yes.
    • He has embarked on a quest to offer glasses to a billion of the world’s poorest people by 2020.
    • Some 30,000 pairs of his spectacles have already been distributed in 15 countries.
    • Silver has devised a pair of glasses which rely on the principle that the fatter a lens the more powerful it becomes. Inside the device’s tough plastic lenses are two clear circular sacs filled with fluid, each of which is connected to a small syringe attached to either arm of the spectacles.
    • The wearer adjusts a dial on the syringe to add or reduce amount of fluid in the membrane, thus changing the power of the lens.
    • When the wearer is happy with the strength of each lens the membrane is sealed by twisting a small screw, and the syringes removed.
    • The principle is so simple, the team has discovered, that with very little guidance people are perfectly capable of creating glasses to their own prescription.
    • Silver calls his flash of insight a "tremendous glimpse of the obvious" – namely that opticians weren’t necessary to provide glasses.
    • Website: http://www.adaptive-eyecare.com/
  • Website of the Week: Global Climate Change
    • Web Address: http://climate.jpl.nasa.gov/
    • NASA’s eyes on the earth
    • Provides real time planetary vital signs
    • Arctic Sea Ice (38% reduction since 1979)
    • Carbon Dioxide (386 parts per million)
    • Sea Level (50 mm rise since 1992)
    • Global Temperature (1.3o F rise since 1895)
    • Ozone Hole (8.5 million square miles)
  • Twenty Jobs in Information Security
    • Source: SANS (SysAdmin, Audit, Network, Security) Institute
    • Web address: http://www.sans.org
    • Information Security Crime Investigator/Forensics Expert
    • System, Network, and/or Web Penetration Tester
    • Forensic Analyst
    • Incident Responder
    • Security Architect
    • Malware Analyst
    • Network Security Engineer
    • Security Analyst
    • Computer Crime Investigator
    • CISO/ISO or Director of Security
    • Application Penetration Tester
    • Security Operations Center Analyst
    • Prosecutor Specializing in Information Security Crime
    • Technical Director and Deputy CISO
    • Intrusion Analyst
    • Vulnerability Researcher/ Exploit Developer
    • Security Auditor
    • Security-savvy Software Developer
    • Security Maven in an Application Developer Organization
    • Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Analyst/Manager
  • Why Do We Have Fingerprints?
    • It looks like "the purpose of fingerprints" has been solved.
    • Of course, for a long time, it was assumed they were there to help pick up things…little traction pads.
    • Sliman Bensmaia of Johns Hopkins University has found another purpose: they help us feel things more accurately like surface texture.
    • Finger prints interact with the surface and create specific frequencies of vibrations into the skin.
    • It turns out that the finger print pattern improves the ability to sense texture.
    • Why the swirls? Because the sensory system only works when the finger motion is 90 degrees to the fingerprint.
    • The swirls allow it to work in any direction.
  • Diebold Admits Audit Logs Failures
    • ALL Versions of Their Software Fail to Record Ballot Deletions
    • This admission was made during public hearing in CA to consider decertification of the company’s voting and tabulation software…
    • Even the audit log system on current versions of Premier Election Solutions’ (formerly Diebold’s) electronic voting and tabulating systems — used in some 34 states across the nation — fail to record the wholesale deletion of ballots.
    • Even when ballots are deleted on the same day as an election.
    • An election system’s audit logs are meant to record all activity during the system’s actual counting of ballots, so that later examiners may determine, with certainty, whether any fraudulent or mistaken activity had occurred during the count.
    • Diebold’s software fails to do that, as has recently been discovered by Election Integrity advocates in Humboldt County, CA, and then confirmed by the CA Secretary of State.
    • The flaws, built into the system for more than a decade, are in serious violation of federal voting system certification standards.