Email and Forum Questions Profiles in IT: Mihalis “Mike” Lazaridis Patent troll sues Apple, Google, and Microsoft Google Adjusts its Policy to Stay in China iPhone 4 Users Petition For Antenna Fix Solar Plane Lasts All Night Long Senator’s Email Hacked 'Scareware' ads proliferate across Internet
Email from Ken: Dear Dr. Shurtz: Thank you for your correction and explanation. I have never heard before that Steve Jobs pronounces his name the way you do. That information was surprising and edifying. I have been listening to you faithfully for umpteen years because of the excellent information that you give. I also have a degree in physics, which, of course, is the most interesting and important subject of all.
Your information about Second Life also was surprising. I have always thought Second Life was stupid and pointless, but it must be worthwhile and useful after all.
Background of my "kill switch" comment: You said that people in the private sector should have the power instead; to me, the term "private sector" brings to mind Enron, Madoff, BP, Toyota, ruthless bankers, etc. Since some central person or very small group has to be able to respond very rapidly to a nationwide attack, who should it be, if not the President? Thanks, Ken
Tech Talk Responds: Thanks for the kind words. As for the private sector and the Internet, you must remember that the private sector has been responsible for the development of the Internet. It is led Internet Corporation for Naming and Numbering (ICANN) and Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Both are populated by representatives from industry. The culture has been collective management and consensus rather than top down dictates.
Email from Angelica: How do I copy/paste from sites that don’t permit it? There is info I’d like to send to a friend without a computer but has a machine that only sends/receives plain text. I want to send her stuff from this site as an example but they don’t permit copying/pasting. Is there anyway around that? Thanks, Angelica
Tech Talk Answers: If you can see it on your screen, there is always a way to copy it. Love the show. Angelica
Here are a few ideas.
Install a PDF printer driver (like PDFCreator) and then print the page to create a PDF.
Save the page using the File -> Save As… option in the browser when viewing the page, and save it "as" plain text format.
Use the "View Source" option available in most browsers which will allow you to view the underlying HTML for the page, and copy out the relevant content.
Take a picture. Get your digital camera and take a picture of the screen. Instant copy.
Profiles in IT: Mihalis “Mike” Lazaridis
Mihalis “Mike” Lazaridis is the founder and co-CEO of Reseach in Motion, which created and manufactures the Blackberry wireless handheld device.
Mihalis "Mike" Lazaridis was born March 14, 1964 in Istanbul, Turkey to ethnic Greek parents.
Lazaridis was five years old when his family moved to Canada in 1966, settling in Windsor, Ontario.
At age 12, he won a prize at the Windsor Public Library for reading every science book in the library.
In 1979, he enrolled at the University of Waterloo in electrical engineering.
He was an intern Ontario’s Control Data Corporation while still in school.
Lazaridis dropped out of the University of Waterloo in 1984, a few credits shy of a degree in electrical engineering.
In 1984, he founded Research In Motion (RIM) later that year along with his childhood friend Doug Fregin.
Since then, RIM’s BlackBerry handheld devices have become a popular platform for companies seeking to provide their mobile workforces with secure access to e-mail.
The actual device can be traced to the early 1990s, when RIM began working on a BlackBerry predecessor that operated on Mobitex, a narrowband wireless data network developed by Ericsson and operated by BellSouth in the United States.
Lazaridis worked to optimize the network performance of the early BlackBerry, which was extremely large and cumbersome by today’s standards.
In 1997, Lazaridis’ efforts paid off in the form of a smaller, more efficient device.
The first BlackBerry device was introduced in 1999 as a two-way pager.
Lexicon Branding suggested the name Strawberry because the keys looked like seeds.
They then suggested the name Blackberry because the device was black.
In 2002, the more commonly known smartphone BlackBerry was released.
Lazaridis insists that the BlackBerry’s popularity—RIM counts some 3.65 million BlackBerry users today—stems from its simplicity. He doesn’t iPhone the user.
Along the way, Lazaridis has accumulated more than 30 patents, some for wireless functions of the BlackBerry, others for inventions such as wireless PC cards, industrial display systems, and bar-code reader used to produce of motion pictures.
University of Waterloo awarded him an honorary Doctor of Engineering in 2000.
In June 2003, he became the eighth chancellor of the University of Waterloo.
He believes that investments in basic research at the university level will fuel the economies of the next century.
He wants to give back to the research community because he realizes that much of his success was built on the scientific discoveries of 50 to 100 years ago.
In the past ten years, he has donated over $250 million to the University of Waterloo, supported the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Institute for Quantum Computing, and Institute for Nanotechnology.
In 2006, he became an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of Ontario.
His network is approximately 1.7 billion US dollars according for Forbes.
Patent troll sues Apple, Google, and Microsoft
NTP, the patent-holding firm that tortured Research in Motion (RIM) throughout the middle of the past decade is at it again.
This time, its targets are Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, and Motorola.
Litigation is our only means of ensuring the inventor of the fundamental technology on which wireless email is based, Tom Campana, and NTP shareholders are recognized, according to the suit.
Apparently, NTP has spent all of that $613m settlement they received from RIM back in 2006, are in need of a new cash infusion.
Not that they’ve been dormant in the ensuing years — NTP sued Palm in 2006 and AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in 2007.
The Richmond, Virginia company is best known for its long litigation and eventual settlement with Research in Motion (RIM), maker of BlackBerry wireless devices."
NTP doesn’t manufacture anything. It merely holds patents and sues companies.
The eight patents in question relate to wireless email delivery, and are among the 50 granted to NTP co-founder Tom Campana during his career. Campana died in 2004.
Referring to a ruling by the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Board of Patent Appeals in favor of NTP’s patent rights, Stout noted: "In view of the USPTO Board’s ruling, the debate over whether Mr. Campana was an originator in the field of wireless email is over. No patents in US history have received as much scrutiny as NTP’s patents."
To those scrutinizers will now be added the legal teams of Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, and Motorola.
Google Adjusts its Policy to Stay in China
A simple change to Google.cn that forces Chinese-language searches to click through to uncensored results was enough to get Google’s license in China renewed.
Back in 2006, when Google was just getting into China for the first time, The New York Times published an inside look at the complicated process Google was required to follow in order to make sure it was censoring its search engine in line with Chinese law.
The problem is that there is no real stated law as to what’s banned and what’s allowed; instead, sensitive topics would get hashed out in meetings with government officials termed "wind-blowing meetings," as in, the answer is blowin’ in the wind.
Perhaps Google has learned how to take a hint.
It announced Friday that the Chinese government has renewed its Internet Content Provider license, earning it another year of business in China but only after it agreed to make changes to the way it redirects users to its Hong Kong Web site, where Web search can be unfiltered under China’s "one country, two systems" approach to Hong Kong.
Google’s first solution to its China problem–which kicked off in January when Google declared that it no longer intended to censor search results in China–was to simply move Chinese-language search to Hong Kong in March.
At the time, it admitted that it didn’t know whether or not this would actually work.
Last week, Google showed signs that it has figured out how to read the Chinese government’s wishes. When it became clear to Google that the government didn’t like its method of automatically redirecting Google.cn users to Hong Kong, it changed course, requiring them to actively click through to a special version of the Google.com.hk site while on Google.cn.
iPhone 4 Users Petition For Antenna Fix
Apple customers dissatisfied with the company’s response to a glitch that renders the device’s antenna nearly inoperable are petitioning the company to either fix the problem or hand out free rubber "bumpers" that mitigate its effects.
"A free case is definitely the solution to this," wrote Richard Kirk, who is among dozens of iPhone 4 users to have signed the petition, which was launched last week by tech blog Gizmodo.
"Don’t get me wrong I’m a huge apple fan, and I think Steve Jobs is a brilliant man. But, I also think it was in poor taste to publicly state that everyone is holding their phones wrong! It needs to be fixed," wrote another user, "sjud9227."
Many iPhone 4 buyers have reported that the device’s signal drops dramatically if its bottom left corner is covered by the palm of the user’s hand—a situation common when it’s wielded by lefties.
Solar Plane Lasts All Night Long
Swiss researchers yesterday marked a major milestone in the development of a solar-powered, single-pilot aircraft.
Solar Impulse’s solar-powered, single-pilot aircraft flew through an entire night on stored solar energy.
The plane took off from a Swiss airbase early Wednesday and landed there at dawn Thursday.
But the Solar Impulse plane does include some novel engineering feats. Its wings are covered with 11,000 solar cells, and it uses lightweight composite structural parts and has a wingspan of 210 feet, not far from that of the world’s biggest commercial jet, the Airbus A380, which has a wingspan of 260 feet.
Keeping the plane’s weight down to 3,500 pounds required optimizing electrical components in order to keep battery size as small as possible.
The lessons learned from the test flight will be used to develop an improved version of the plane that would attempt to fly around the world.
Lightweight solar-powered planes could be crucial to conducting long-term surveillance and that’s why various governments are supporting the technology.
In 1999, the leader of the Solar Impulse project, Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, became the first person (along with his copilot) to fly nonstop around the world in a balloon.
The Government Has an Online Identity Plan for You
Most people identify themselves online by juggling a long list of user names and passwords.
The U.S. government is hoping to step in and improve the state of online identity management.
In a draft recently posted online, the Department of Homeland Security outlined a possible National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace–a document that suggests how the government could facilitate a system for managing identities.
The system could be used not only by government sites such as the Internal Revenue Service, but by other websites, including commercial ones.
The draft document does not suggest creating a national ID card or government-mandated Internet identity system.
Instead it proposes a way to combine existing online identity technologies to create a simpler, more privacy-conscious identity system, without the government taking control of the whole thing.
The draft suggests starting with accounts that users might already have, like those from Google or Facebook.
Providers would be certified as reliable and secure. Then users could choose a company or organization to sign up with, and their credentials would be in a standard format that would be widely accepted.
A user might have an identification technology connected to her cell phone. That system could be used to log onto a government site and access tax services, for example.
This would prevent the user from having to create a new password for that site, and it would save the government from having to maintain any of the authentication infrastructure.
The Department of Homeland Security is taking comments on the draft through July 19. The U.S. government plans to finalize the draft in the fall.
Senator’s Email Hacked
Senator Robert Dvorsky’s email account sent a message to hundreds of his contacts requesting £10,000 because he was in Scotland and had lost his wallet.
However, Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulrabek knew that Dvorsky wasn’t overseas and contacted the senator immediately after receiving the suspicious email.
The senator believes his password had been stolen months ago.
Dvorsky believes the password was stolen when he emailed it to a person he had believed to have been a legitimate Yahoo representative.
‘Scareware’ ads proliferate across Internet
Court records show how much Innovative Marketing banked by getting computer users to pay for fake anti-virus programs: $163,167,539.95.
Before its demise, the Ukraine-based company employed hundreds of workers collaborating to scare victims into paying $30 to $70 for such software.
Even now, "scareware" continues to flourish.
Online promotions for worthless anti-virus software increased tenfold in the first quarter this year as compared with mid-2008 when U.S. regulators began civil and criminal legal actions against the firm.
Microsoft recently reported that its free Malicious Software Removal Tool cleaned scareware off 7.8 million PCs in the last six months of 2009, vs. 5.3 million PCs in the first six months.
According to a civil judgment won by the Federal Trade Commission, Innovative Marketing created dummy ad agencies to place innocuous-looking ads for big-name corporations without their permission on popular websites.
Anyone who clicked on such an ad triggered a fake scan showing his or her PC to be infested with viruses; a sales pitch followed for a bogus clean-up.
•Social networks. Scammers steal Facebook and Twitter account log-ons, then send messages carrying a tainted Web link to the victim’s contacts. The high trust and rapid repartee common to social networks help scammers trick users into launching scareware.
Meanwhile, scareware purveyors take advantage of merchant banking rules that enable them to accept Visa and MasterCard payments from victims across the globe.
Scareware is proving to be a "sustainable business model," says Sean-Paul Correll, researcher at Panda Security.