Show of 10-18-2014

Tech Talk

October 18, 2014
Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Bob in Maryland: Dear Doc: Friends of mine asked me about recovering files from a partially-backed up hard disk. It is in a laptop that was dropped. Software has been run on the drive and it has been installed in another machine, to no avail. Is there a service in the DC area that you would recommend for hard disk information recovery, if the disk housing has to be opened up because of some mechanical damage? I am of course, assuming that the disk has not been cracked or shattered.  PS The last few shows have been incredible! I even listen more than once if I get a chance. I have stopped listening to the other computer radio shows since I get so much more out of Tech Talk. Thanks. Bob in Maryland, a loyal listener and fellow physicist
  • Tech Talk Responds: I would first recommend that the hard drive be removed and connected to the USB port of another computer. A USB enclosure is quite cheap. If the files can be read in that fashion, you don’t need disk recovery. If that fails, there are many disk recovery services that you can use. They are expensive (several hundred dollars). A local recovery service is Salvage Data Recovery Services. They have offices in Herndon, VA, and Washington DC.
  • Email from Arnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz, A while back you discussed security for various browsers and mentioned that Firefox did not have a sandbox to provide additional security. My question is: is security also diminished in Thunderbird, the email service in the Mozilla / Firefox family of programs? Does an email service need a sandbox also?  Thanks. Great show – (BTW, I have to listen on-line now since 1500 AM isn’t available in Crownsville). Arnie Crownsville, MD
  • Tech Talk Responds: Thunderbird does not have a sandbox either. If you are worried about malicious emails, you might disable the email preview pane. If you used a web based email client, then you would automatically be in the browsers sandbox.
  • Email from Jim in the studio: I would like to develop an application for the mobile phones. It is a great idea and I was told that it would cost over $5,000 to create with spp. Is there a way that a non-coder like myself could create and market an app. What are my options? Thanks Jim in the studio
  • Tech Talk Responds: The good news is that entering the mobile market no longer necessarily requires thousands of dollars and months of work. There are many mobile platforms available to help you build an app on a budget — quickly, and with no coding knowledge required. Here are a couple of popular app development platforms
    • Appery is a cloud-based mobile app builder that you can use to create apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone, and includes Apache Cordova (Phone Gap) with access to its built-in components.
    • Since the builder runs in the cloud, there’s nothing to install or download, and it’s easy to get started quickly. It includes a visual editor using drag and drop components to build the UI. You can connect to any REST API and use it in your app, and instantly add a cloud database and backend to your app if you need to store data.
    • You can add powerful functionality with the Appery plugin catalog, or create your own custom private plugins to use in your apps. Collaboration is simple, allowing you to share your mobile project with development teams, business users and customers in real time.
    • Price: Plans start at Free and go up to $180 per month for Premium
  • Mobile Roadie 
    • Mobile Roadie is an app creator that allows anyone to create and manage their own iOS or Android app. The platform supports all media types, with automatic importing of RSS, Twitter or Google News keywords, and an auto-refreshing fan wall through which users can chat with each other in real time.
    • You can use the free Mobile Roadie Connect app to preview your app accurately, just as your users would on their devices. The app also guides you through the submission process, with Mobile Roadie checking the quality and appropriateness of your content. 
    • You can push content straight to your app and pull content from it to your own site or blog. The API is language agnostic, so you can pull data in a variety of formats, including XML, JSON, PHP, CSV and HTML. You can easily craft a custom look and feel for your app and apply that to all platforms, and use the suite of marketing tools once your app is launched. 
    • Price: Plans start at $125 per month (Core) and go up to $667 per month (Pro).
Profiles in IT: Johnathan Paul Ive
  • Jonathan Paul Ive is the principal designer of the iMac, aluminum PowerBook G4 (and MacBook Pro), iPod and iPhone.
  • Jonathan Ive, casually called Jony Ive, was born in February 1967 in London and grew up in Chingford, Essex
  • In interviews Jonathan has spoken about always being interested in the construction of objects as a child, and a fascination with taking those objects apart.
  • After attending school in the south of England he moved North to study art and design at Newcastle Polytechnic (now Northumbria University) in 1985.
  • He graduated with first class honors having created a pebble-shaped concept for a product to replace cash and credit cards as his final year project.
  • In 1990 Jonathan moved to London and co-founded his own design studio, Tangerine, with Martin Darbyshire.
  • He created products ranging from hair combs and power tools to televisions and ceramics. Jonathan designed toilets Ideal Standard after seeking inspiration from marine biology books.
  • Apple was a client of Tangerine and in 1992 Jonathan joined the Apple team.
  • When Jonathan joined Apple the company was at a low point. Steve Jobs had just been ousted in a boardroom coup orchestrated by John Sculley. Much of the design work was outsourced. Apple was losing ground to Windows by the day.
  • In 1997, Steve Jobs returned and began to revive Apple’s fortunes and return it to the industry leader that it is today. Jonathan Ive was instrumental to this turnaround.
  • Under the new Jobs-led Apple Ive was promoted to Senior Vice President of Industrial Design. The launch of visually stunning iMac G3 is regarded as the birth of the new Apple’ and brought Jonathan Ive to the attention of the world.
  • From the iBook to the PowerBook all Apple’s products were met with universal acclaim and became instant masterpieces of product design.
  • Jonathan brought simplicity, elegance and innovation to everything he touched.
  • The minimalist styling of the iPhone with only one button on its front is the signature of Jonathan Ive.
  • Jonathan’s work has influenced by many things.
    • The original candy-colored iMac had its roots in gumdrops.
    • The transparent Apple mouse came from thinking about drops of water.
    • The see-through outer casing of recent iBooks came from the look that food has when wrapped in plastic wrap.
    • The iPod is like a cigarette pack for those addicted to music instead of tobacco
    • The sunflower-inspired iMac G4
  • Jonathan is a modest and shy person, who often seems uncomfortable with the attention. When he won the D&AD award, it was Steve Jobs that received the award and made the acceptance speech although Jonathan attended the event.
  • He lives modestly, inhabiting a two bedroom house in Twin Peaks, San Francisco with his wife Heather (a historian) and their twin sons.
Nobel Prize for Blue Light-emitting Diodes
  • The Nobel prize in physics has been awarded to three researchers for the invention of blue light-emitting diodes – an energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source.
  • The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the invention was just 20 years old “but it has already contributed to create white light in an entirely new manner to the benefit of us all”.
  • Isamu Akasaki, 85, is a professor at Meijo University and distinguished professor at Nagoya University. Hiroshi Amano, 54, is also a professor at Nagoya University. Shuji Nakamura, 60, is a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • They produced bright blue light from semiconductors in the 1990s, something scientists had struggled with for decades.
  • Using the blue light, LED lamps emitting white light could be created in a new way.
  • “As about one-fourth of world electricity consumption is used for lighting purposes, the LEDs contribute to saving the Earth’s resources,” the committee said.
  • Worth $1.1m each, the Nobel prizes are always handed out on 10 December, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896. Besides the prize money, each laureate receives a diploma and a gold medal.
  • Nobel, a wealthy Swedish industrialist who invented dynamite, provided few directions for how to select winners, except that the prize committees should reward those who “have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind”.
Kmart Says Hackers Breached Payment System
  • Kmart is the latest large U.S. retailer to experience a breach of its payment systems, joining a fast growing club dealing successful hack attacks that have resulted in the exposure of customer data and payment card information. 
  • The company said that on Thursday, Oct. 9, its IT team detected that its payment data systems had been breached, sparking them to quickly initiate an investigation.
  • The company believes debit and credit card numbers have been compromised.
  • A company spokesperson told SecurityWeek that they are not able to provide a figure on the number of customers impacted. The spokesperson said that based on the forensic investigation to date, no personal information, no debit card PIN numbers, no email addresses and no social security numbers were obtained by the attackers.
  • “Our investigation to date indicates the breach started in early September,” the company said in a statement (PDF). “According to the security experts we’ve been working with, our Kmart store payment data systems were infected with a form of malware that was undetectable by current anti-virus systems. We were able to quickly remove the malware. However we believe debit and credit card numbers have been compromised.”
  • The company declined to comment on what security firm was conducting the investigation.
  • customers do not appear to be impacted, Kmart said.
  • The retailer said that it was working closely with federal law enforcement authorities, ibanking partners and other IT security firms as part of the ongoing investigation. 
  • News of the Kmat data breach comes just one day after Dairy Queen confirmed that its payment systems were breached and infected with malware.
  • “Attackers have access to a range of custom POS malware these days designed to specifically steal card and magnetic track data from POS memory, which bypasses traditional data-at-rest encryption and perimeter controls,” Mark Bower, VP of product marketing at Voltage Security, told SecurityWeek on Friday. “Malware into the POS might come from direct network intrusion, or by subverting the POS software update and patch management system with an infected update. Once in, attackers can syphon off every transaction that customers swipe until its detected and removed.”
Space Elevator Update
  • A Japanese construction company, Obayashi Corporation, has been investigating the concept for a space elevator. Their researchers believe that advances in carbon nanotechnology could make a space elevator possible as soon as 2030. A Japanese construction company, Obayashi Corporation, has been investigating the concept for a space elevator. Their researchers believe that advances in carbon nanotechnology could make a space elevator possible as soon as 2030.  
  • The concept for an elevator into space is almost 120 years old and was first published by the Russian father of modern rocketry Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in 1895. 
  • Advances in nanotechnology could finally produce a cable strong enough to tether an orbiting space station. 
  • A space station tethered to the earth at the equator would need a cable some 96,000km long. While researchers have only produced short lengths of tough and lightweight ‘nanothreads,’ scientists say advances that would make a space elevator possible are only decades away. 
  • Robotic cars with magnetic motors would take seven days to reach the space station, lifting cargoes and people into space at a fraction of the current cost.
  • According to the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC), space payloads would cost in the order of just hundreds of dollars per kilogram rather than the current $20,000 a kilogram that rocket technology costs.
  • A 2.5-inch thick cable made from carbon nanotechnology could lift the equivalent of three International Space Stations per day into orbit, according to ISEC.
  • John Badding, professor of chemistry at Penn State University, told CNN his team had made the breakthrough while examining the properties of benzene molecules and that it took 18 months of study to make sense of what the team had been seeing.
  • The experiments involved putting benzene — a liquid — under compression to form a solid material.
  • Everybody thought that the benzene molecules would link together in a way that was very disorganized, like a glassy amorphous material. 
  • Instead, there was order in the benzene. That all this occurred at room temperature was a further shock to the research team.
  • They hope that the nanomaterials could be used to make the super-strong, lightweight cables that would make possible the construction of a “space elevator” which so far has existed only as a science-fiction idea.
David Burd Visit
  • The Doc, David and Jim talk about drones being sold at Seven-Eleven
  • People doing dumb things with drones
  • Google Glass and the iPhone 6.
Food Science: Chocolate
  • Cocoa have originated in the Amazon at least 4,000 years ago.
  • It was used by the Maya Culture, as early as the Sixth Century AD.
  • Maya called the cocoa tree cacahuaquchtl “tree,” and the word chocolate comes from the Maya word xocoatl which means bitter water.
  • To the Mayas, cocoa pods symbolized life and fertility.
  • Aztecs believed that wisdom and power came from eating the fruit of the cocoa tree.
  • The use of chocolate worldwide begins with the discovery of America.
  • The Court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella got its first look at the principal ingredient of chocolate when Columbus returned in triumph from America.
  • During his conquest of Mexico, Cortez found the Aztec Indians using cocoa beans in the preparation of the royal drink of the realm, “chocolatl”, meaning warm liquid.
  • In 1519, Emperor Montezuma, who reportedly drank 50 or more portions daily, served chocolatl to his Spanish guests in great golden goblets, treating it like a food for the gods. Montezuma’s chocolatl was very bitter.
  • To make the concoction more agreeable to Europeans, Cortez and added sugar.
  • It did not take long before chocolate was viewed in Europe as a healthy food.
  • In 1657 the first of many famous English Chocolate Houses appeared.
  • By 1730, chocolate had dropped in price to within the financial reach of all.
  • The invention of the cocoa press in 1828 reduced the prices even further.
  • In 1847, an English company introduced solid “eating chocolate” through the development of fondant chocolate, a smooth and velvety variety.
  • The second development occurred in 1876 in Vevey, Switzerland, when Daniel Peter devised a way of adding milk to the chocolate, creating milk chocolate.
  • It was in the pre-revolutionary New England — 1765, to be exact — that the first chocolate factory was established in the US.