Archive for April, 2010

Have a great summer, everyone!

Hey everyone,

On behalf of the isuTech team, we hope you all enjoyed reading our blog over the course of the semester! Hopefully you’re more interested in technology than you were before and we really think that you should sign up for a technology class or two. Even if your major is unrelated to technology, you’ll find that the information you learn in the tech classes at ISU will help you with whatever your major is. From teaching to agriculture, an understanding of the fundamentals of the technology that drives these fields will help you to remain competitive when job hunting.

Just because you’re done with the semester doesn’t mean you have to stop reading the blog, though! isuTech will be back in the fall, so we encourage you to keep reading!

Hope everyone has a great summer!

Nick

April 27, 2010 at 4:29 pm 1 comment

4/22/2010 – Yoky Matsuoka

This is Yoky Matsuoka, mother of three and a dog owner.  You might assume that the problems Yoky solves through out her day are mundane or repetitive, but you’d be wrong.  That’s because in addition to being a Mom, she is also a sort of expert in the fields of science and engineering.

Along with Neurobotics Lab, Yoky has been involved in over a dozen projects focusing on understanding how the brain directs the body then replicating that process in robots.  For example, one project resulted in a hand exoskeleton to aide people with paralysis.  The exoskeleton receives signals via EMG sensors attached to other parts of the body.  The hand was capable of pinching, pointing, and grasping and successfully aided a quadriplegic student in testing.  The lab is also working on an anatomically correct robotic hand. Check out the projects section on their website to see more of their projects.

When you’re done head back to black board and take the quiz!

David

April 22, 2010 at 11:57 am 2 comments

Library of Congress to archive ‘Tweets’.

So, most of you guys reading this probably don’t use twitter…yet. The social networking site is undeniably becoming a cultural phenomenon. It even provided the means for Iranians to organize protests and almost led to a revolution, all in 140 characters or less. The social implications of twitter are pretty profound, actually. The site can show cultural reactions to major events in a way that was impossible previously. Here is what the Library of Congress official blog had to say about the matter:

“Have you ever sent out a “tweet” on the popular Twitter social media service?  Congratulations: Your 140 characters or less will now be housed in the Library of Congress.That’s right.  Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets, by the way: Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions.

We thought it fitting to give the initial heads-up to the Twitter community itself via our own feed @librarycongress.  (By the way, out of sheer coincidence, the announcement comes on the same day our own number of feed-followers has surpassed 50,000. I love serendipity!)

We will also be putting out a press release later with even more details and quotes.  Expect to see an emphasis on the scholarly and research implications of the acquisition.  I’m no Ph.D., but it boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data.  And I’m certain we’ll learn things that none of us now can even possibly conceive.

Just a few examples of important tweets in the past few years include the first-ever tweet from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey (http://twitter.com/jack/status/20), President Obama’s tweet about winning the 2008 election (http://twitter.com/barackobama/status/992176676), and a set of two tweets from a photojournalist who was arrested in Egypt and then freed because of a series of events set into motion by his use of Twitter (http://twitter.com/jamesbuck/status/786571964) and (http://twitter.com/jamesbuck/status/787167620).

Twitter plans to make its own announcement today on its blog from “Chirp,” the Official Twitter Developer Conference, in San Francisco.  (UPDATE: Here’s their post.)

So if you think the Library of Congress is “just books,” think of this: The Library has been collecting materials from the web since it began harvesting congressional and presidential campaign websites in 2000.  Today we hold more than 167 terabytes of web-based information, including legal blogs, websites of candidates for national office, and websites of Members of Congress.

We also operate the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program www.digitalpreservation.gov, which is pursuing a national strategy to collect, preserve and make available significant digital content, especially information that is created in digital form only, for current and future generations.

In other words, if you’re looking for a place where important historical and other information in digital form should be preserved for the long haul, we’re it!

(Thanks to my co-blogger, Jennifer, for the headline.  She always does a much better job of that than I do!)”

So, what do you guys think? Every tweet we’ve made at @isuTech will be backed up forever in the Library of Congress! I think that’s pretty cool, but I’m sure many would disagree. Could this be useful for researchers in the future? Or is this a big waste of time? Feel free to leave a comment but don’t forget your quiz!

Nick

April 19, 2010 at 7:57 am Leave a comment

4/15/10 – Computer network warfare is an essential military tactic, says Alexander

Hey all, hope everyone’s gotten their taxes all taken care of in light of this gorgeous

I’m sure you are all aware of computer networks, network security, and just how important it is, especially based from my last article about the Pwn2Own competition where hackers hacked software we use everyday within 24 hours to view supposedly secure data over a network.  Well, it IS important, there’s no doubt about it.  It’s bad enough to lose all of your important data from a computer, let alone having all of your data physically (well, more like digitally) stolen from you without even being aware of it even happening.

It seems that even the government is starting to pick up on the importance of network security in this day and age.  Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander of the U.S. Army believes that computer network warfare is becoming more and more an essential military tactic.  As head nominee for the Cyber Command position and as current head of the National Security Agency, Alexander said that while cyber security is a critical first step in securing computer networks, the military should also be prepared to launch counter cyberattacks.

Originally stood up for in June 2009, the position is running behind its intended October 2009 operation start date.  In the questionnaire filled out by Alexander, he described hypothetical situations where computer warfare would be necessary to military tactic.  Cyberwarfare would go beyond infiltrating military command-and-control systems and weapons systems. It may also be used to target civilian institutions and municipal infrastructure, he said.

Of course, suggesting civilian institutions be subject for cyberwarfare is a bit controversial.  Under traditional combat laws, civilians should be excluded from warfare, even if 20th century wars have made the dividing line between civilian and combatant more fluid.  Though difficult to conceive, Alexander wrote that an attack against a financial institution could be legitimate if “it was being used solely to support enemy military operations.”

In its infancy still, methods of deterrence and what constitutes a cyberattack on the U.S. are still undefined.  “There is no international consensus on a precise definition of a use of force, in or out of cyberspace,” Alexander wrote. “There is always potential disagreement among nations concerning what may amount to a threat or use of force.”

Already, the U.S. Air Force is preparing to ramp up its focus on computer-based combat.  This past Monday, April 12th, the Air Force announced it would be training all new recruits in the basics of cyberwarfare.  Then by June of this year, 16 Air Force officers will begin an advanced course to train for a career in cyber operations.  According to a TMCnet report, the Air Force aims to produce about 400 officers with skills in cyber defense annually.

That would be so ridiculous to have a title as Cyber Command, not to mention that now it goes along with newer terms such as “cyberwarfare.”  There’s no doubt how vital network security is, especially in situations and institutions where very private data is stored.  I also like the idea that the Air Force aims to train so many for careers in cyberwarfare, allowing many to bring their knowledge to the workplace bringing new ideas, or to keep a career in the military further protecting our security.

I can’t even imagine the security knowledge one would gain from being trained to an officer’s position in the military.  Pretty awesome!  Thanks for reading guys, here is the link to the article and don’t forget the quiz!

Mike

April 15, 2010 at 4:23 pm Leave a comment

4/12/2010 – Apple iPad : Mix of both good and bad features

This blog focuses on providing information about a tablet computer developed by Apple Inc. called ‘iPad’.

The new iPad is a hybrid of Apple iPhone, Apple iTouch, and a full laptop notebook. It was announced officially by Apple  on January 27, 2010 and was open to customers for the purchase from April 3, 2010.

Using the iPad touch screen, users can browse the internet, manage and store photos, watch movies, listen songs, access iTunes, download apps and games, play games, browse websites, watch YouTube videos and lot more. Safari, internet, mail, photos, videos, youtube, iTunes, AppStore, iBooks, maps, notes, calendar, contacts, and search are the key features of an iPad.

This new iPad has a height of 9.56 inches (242.8 mm), width of 7.47 inches (189.7 mm), depth of 0.5 inch (13.4 mm), and a screen size of 9.7 inches diagonal (1024×768 resolution). It weighs 1.5 pounds (.68 kg) Wi-Fi model; 1.6 pounds (.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model.

The Multi-Touch technology on iPod has been completely reengineered for the larger iPad surface, making it extremely precise and responsive. With its lithium-polymer battery iPad can be used for up to 10 hours while surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching videos, or listening to music. iPad will run almost 140,000 apps from the App Store.

Pros

  • The Apple iPad device is a marvel of creativity, graceful and not very heavy and straightforward to carry. It looks great.
  • It has the same great touch screen capabilities of the famous iphone and iPod Touch device and appears to be an excellent gadget to use.
  • The Apple iPad tablet is brilliant for watching videos, television shows and pod casts and playing video games together with browsing the web.
  • The Apple iPad is an amazing way to remain on the web when on the go, simple to line up and very speedy, and the diversity of drive sizes means there is one for everybody.
  • The Apple iPad is fantastic for traveling and being on the web when relaxing thanks to the glorious user interface and the marvelous display.
  • It offers an excellent new e-reader experience for publications and websites to be read upon.

Cons

  • No multitasking. This means that if you open one application, you will be unable to do anything else. Listen to Pandora while writing a document or having Twitter app opened at the same time as the browser is only a dream now. This alone makes iPad less attractive.
  • Such a big screen, and no camera.
  • It runs the telephone OS instead of a complete OS, which constraints what you can do with the device.
  • It does not run flash. This will definitely make viewing websites quite a bad experience and you may just forget about viewing any streaming videos.
  • While it is fast, there are no USB ports along with there is no method of increasing the capacity. Plus, the larger capacities are incredibly costly.
  • It does not seem to be all that great for doing any work on, which is what many of us would need out of it if taking it while traveling.

Price Information About iPad:

16 GB – $499 (with 3G – $629)
32 GB – $599 (with 3G – $729)
64 GB – $699 (with 3G – $829)

Apple’s iPad just entered the market and we still need to wait more to hear about the customers experience with this product. Apple might be thinking of adding new features and removing its current drawbacks in its next version of iPad.

Thanks for reading ~

Don’t forget to take the quiz on Blackboard.

Sandeep

April 12, 2010 at 2:45 am 1 comment

4/1/10 – Firefox Announces Monthly Subscription for Web Access

Jk. Hah, could you imagine? April fools. 😛 Anyways….

Pwn2Own 2010: Browsers and iPhone Get Pwned!

wise geek defines computer hacking as “the practice of modifying computer hardware and software to accomplish a goal outside of the creator’s original purpose.” Now usually when you think of a hacker, you might picture some scrawny arrogant nerd whose computer’s cost could easily have bought a car.  Well, I’m sure there’s probably a few out there like that anyways, but you can be sure that these guys or even girls know a lot about computer technology.

For the past four years at the CanSecWest security conference, there has been a contest called Pwn2Own where hackers are put to the test to break through security features in software such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, operating systems, and even the iPhone to win cash prizes and related benefits.  For this year’s competition, held in Vancouver on March 24th, there were two main issues that the hackers had to exploit in order to get the prizes, he first one being security posture of market-leading web browsers and operating system pairings; and the second target being vulnerabilities affecting mobile phones.

Two contestants were able to successfully hack Safari on the iPhone.  Ralf Philipp Weinmann of the University of Luxembourg and Vincenzo Iozzo of German company Zynamics were able to grab key data in an iPhone and found a vulnerability in Safari that pulled SMS database data including deleted messages, contacts, pictures, and iTunes music files. The joint hackers shared a $15,000 prize, and each took ownership of an iPhone.

$40,000 of the total $100,000 in cash prizes was sectioned for hacking browsers.  The targets used at this competition were the latest versions of Apple’s Safari, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox with each browser being hacked worth $10,000.  The results? All of the latest versions of these, meaning the one’s that we use pretty much every day, were successfully hacked on the first day, except for Google Chrome.

Charlie Miller, a principal security analyst at consulting form Independent Security Evaluators, remotely located a hole in the Safari browser of a MacBook Pro and launched a remote session on a target MacBook opening a command shell enabling him to see ALL of the files on the MacBook.  To recap what this guy got $10,000 for, he launched the newest version of Safari and found holes in its security design and was able to connect through the browser to another computer and access all the files.  The results for Internet Explorer and Firefox were similar and performed by Peter Vreugdenhil, an independent security researcher, and a hacker named Nils, the head of MWR InfoSecurity.

Now this could make you question how safe the browsers and other software we use actually are.  No worries here though, because with the results of the contest, though embarrassing for the companies, the hackers provide them in detail the steps they took to hack their programs.  With this valuable information, the companies can make critical updates to their software at a fraction of the time and cost it takes to thoroughly test for flaws in a program.

Makes me wish I had some hacking skills, but only for gloating reasons, I promise.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget the quiz on blackboard on the second page.  Here’s the link to the full article!

-Mike

April 1, 2010 at 1:16 pm 1 comment


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