Showing posts from May, 2009

Obama Addresses Cyber Security

May 29, 2009 (Associated Press) America has failed for too long to adequately protect the security of its computer networks, President Barack Obama said Friday, announcing he will name a new cyber czar to press for action.

Surrounded by a slew of government officials, aides and corporate executives, Obama said the U.S. has reached a "transformational moment" when computer networks are probed and attacked millions of times a day.

"It's now clear this cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation," Obama said, adding, "We're not as prepared as we should be, as a government or as a country."

He said he will soon pick the person he wants to head a new White House office of cyber security, and that person will report to the National Security Council and the National Economic Council — a nod to his contention that the country's economic prosperity depends on cybersecurity.

While the coordinator'…

12 IT Disasters

May 28, 2009 (Baseline) Learning from your mistakes is good. Learning from others’ mistakes is even better. Baseline looks at 12 major IT failures to learn more about how and why they happened.

Virtual Money

May 19, 2009 (CNN) When Santiago Martinez wants to give his friends birthday presents, he buys a cake or flowers or sometimes a teddy bear. But the 41-year-old, who lives on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, doesn't spend pesos or dollars. He buys the gifts with an online-only currency called hi5 Coins.

He also doesn't deliver the gifts in the physical world. They appear digitally on his friends' online profiles on a site called hi5, which is a social network like Facebook or MySpace.

"They can't eat the cake. It is an image -- the thing that it represents," said Martinez, an accountant with a wife and two kids. "You can send the feeling of that [cake] that you want to send."

In any given month, he spends the equivalent of $40 in this manner.

But Martinez is hardly alone.

As our identities migrate further onto the Internet, currencies that exist only online are becoming a more significant part of commerce on the Web and in the real world. Some, like the hi…

Tim Berners-Lee Warns That Web is Fostering Disinformation

The internet risks becoming a platform for cults, rumour and disinformation, according to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with creating the web. "On the web, the thinking of cults can spread very rapidly and suddenly a cult which was 12 people who had some deep personal issues suddenly find a formula which is very believable," he told the BBC. "A sort of conspiracy theory of sorts and which you can imagine spreading to thousands of people and being deeply damaging."

He said that he was especially concerned by the way the web had been used to stoke fears that the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider would destroy the earth, and to spread rumours that the combined MMR vaccine was causing harm to children. Sir Tim Berners-Lee is backing a new project, the World Wide Web Foundation, which aims to accelerate the progress of the internet and make it more easily available and accessible in developing nations.

"The web is a tremendous platform for innovatio…

New Search Engines

May 12, 2009 (CNN) We may be coming upon a new era for the Internet search. Google dominates the search world, but some sites are trying to expand the possibilities. And, despite what you may think, Google is not the only player.

New search engines that are popping up across the Web strive to make searches faster, smarter, more personal and more visually interesting. Some sites, like Twine and hakia, will try to personalize searches, separating out results you would find interesting, based on your Web use. Others, like Searchme, offer iTunes-like interfaces that let users shuffle through photos and images instead of the standard list of hyperlinks. Kosmix bundles information by type -- from Twitter, from Facebook, from blogs, from the government -- to make it easier to consume.

Wolfram Alpha, set to launch Monday, is more of an enormous calculator than a search: It crunches data to come up with query answers that may not exist online until you search for them. And sites like Twitter are…

Cell Phone Security 101

WXP News (May 11, 2009) Mobile phones have given us more freedom; we no longer have to stay close by a fixed landline when waiting for an important call. They've also given many people a sense of greater security; if your car breaks down or someone seems to be following you, you can call for help. But there's another, darker side to the security issue. Whether you have a fancy smart phone that's really a full-fledged hand-held computer or just the cheapie model that your cell phone carrier provides at no extra charge, the cell phone that you take with you everywhere you go could be posing a threat to your privacy.

Most people know that cell phone calls are really radio transmissions, and since they go out over the airwaves, they can be intercepted. Several years back, it wasn't uncommon for people with old style police scanners to pick up conversations that were occurring on analog phones in the 824.040 to 848.970 MHz range. It's now illegal to sell scanners that p…

Wi-Fi at 20,000 Feet

May 7, 2009 (CNN) A number of domestic airlines have recently begun offering Wi-Fi Internet access aboard planes, and other airlines say they are working toward making it happen. "This is the year" for Wi-Fi on planes, said Jack Blumenstein, president and CEO of Aircell, whose Gogo® Inflight Internet service provides access on Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Virgin America flights, and will begin testing on United flights later this year. Gogo is installed on more than 190 commercial planes, and Blumenstein said he expected 1,200 aircraft to have Gogo capability by the end of 2009.

For now, Wi-Fi on domestic carriers' planes is limited to flights within North America. Gogo, which operates by transmitting signals from ground-level towers, functions across the United States and up to about 300 miles offshore. The company's access will cover the entire continent within a year or two, Blumenstein said.

Row 44, which uses satellite technology to provide connectivity …

Star Trek Technology

MSNBC has an interesting slide show on which technologies shown in "Star Trek" are close to reality today and which ones aren't. View it here.

Internet Speed Test

This is the middle of our finals week, so no time to post much today! Here is a site to check your Internet Connection Speed.

Indianapolis 500 Pace Car

Marian College is only a few blocks from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and is located on the grounds of James Allison's estate. Allison founded the engine and transmission company that still bears his name and along with two of his friends, founded the Motor Speedway. Originally, the Sisters of St. Francis bought his estate in the 1930's and held classes in the Allison Mansion. Now we use it for meetings, parties, weddings, and other special events. As much into racing as I am, it is great to be able to work at a place that is connected to so much motor sports history. Right now, you can hear the cars practicing. My greatest thrill was a few years ago when I got to drive my Vette around the track as part of a "community day". Anyway, here is a video about this year's pace car. See you at the track!

Visit the Official Web Site of the Indianapolis 500

Swine Flu "Version 1.0"

On February 5, 1976, in the United States an army recruit at Fort Dix said he felt tired and weak. He died the next day and four of his fellow soldiers were later hospitalized. Two weeks after his death, health officials announced that the cause of death was a new strain of swine flu. The strain, a variant of H1N1, is known as A/New Jersey/1976 (H1N1). It was detected only from January 19 to February 9 and did not spread beyond Fort Dix.

This new strain appeared to be closely related to the strain involved in the 1918 flu pandemic. Moreover, the ensuing increased surveillance uncovered another strain in circulation in the U.S.: A/Victoria/75 (H3N2) spread simultaneously, also caused illness, and persisted until March. Alarmed public-health officials decided action must be taken to head off another major pandemic, and urged President Gerald Ford that every person in the U.S. be vaccinated for the disease.

The vaccination program was plagued by delays and public relations problems. On Oct…