Subject: Networking | May 24, 2011 - 06:52 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: networking, Internet, fiber
Using a single laser, scientists were able to encode data and transmit it over 50 km of single-node fiber using “325 optical frequencies within a narrow spectral band of laser wavelengths.” The single laser was capable of handling 26 terabits of information per second in an energy efficient manner, which is equivalent to the amount of data used by 400 million phone calls.
The technique used to encode and decode the optical data is called orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM). It is a modulation technology that can be applied to both optical and electrical based transmission methods. The data is broken down into numerous parallel streams of data (using mathematics) that greatly increases the transmission speed and amount of bandwidth available. While electrical/copper based systems are not able to transmit 26 terabits of information using OFDM, optical systems are able encode the amount of data in their experiments without speed restrictions and while using “negligible energy.” Dr. Leuthold stated “we had to come up with a technique that can process data about one million times faster than what is common in the mobile communications world.” Further, his stated that his experiment shows that optical technology still has room for transmission speed improvement, and increases in bit-rate do not necessarily result in higher energy usage.
The important aspect of Dr. Leuthold’s research lies in the energy efficiency inherent in reducing the amount of lasers and fiber nodes required to transmit 26 terabits per second of data. Using simple optical technologies, they are able to greatly increase the amount of bandwidth in a single fiber line. Japanese researchers have been able to achieve 109 terabits per second download speeds; however, they had to use multiple lasers to achieve the speeds. Dr. Leuthold iterated that “it’s the fact that it’s one laser,” as being the important results of his research.
Image courtesy Kainet via Flickr Creative Commons
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 12:05 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Netflix, Internet, Android
It has been a long time coming; however, Netflix Instant Streaming is finally coming to a select number of Android powered smart phones. Engadget has the scoop, stating that
“Netflix explains that while the app is currently limited to phones with ‘requisite playback support,’ it anticipates that many of the ‘technical challenges will be resolved in the coming months,’and that it will be able to ‘provide a Netflix application that will work on a large majority of Android phones.’”
The following phones will be able to use the streaming feature of the Netflix application: HTC Incredible, Nexus One, Evo 4G, G2, and Samsung Nexus S.
While Nitdroid users and owners of older Android phones are currently out of luck, this move by Netflix is a good sign that Netflix on the open source operating system is possible, and can work well.
If you own one of the supported Android phones, you can download the application from the Android Market today!
Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2011 - 09:20 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sony, Internet, Data Breach, Anonymous
As Sony analyzed the forensic data of the recent PSN/SOE attack, they discovered a text file named "Anonymous" and containing the phrase "We are legion," according to Network World. As a result of this, Sony even went so far as to accuse the hacker group as the responsible party in hacking the Playstation Network (and stealing customers' information) in a letter to the U.S. congress.
Anonymous responded to the implications brought by Sony today. Network World reports that Anonymous has stated they were not involved in the attack and that "others performed the attack with the intent of making Anonymous look bad." Based on a press release by the hacker group, it's prior victims had motive to irreparably defame the group in the public eye. Anonymous stated that they have never been involved in credit card theft. Further, they claim to be an "ironically transparent movement," and had they truly been behind the attack they would have claimed responsibility for their actions.
The press release goes on to state that "no one who is actually associated with our movement would do something that would prompt a massive law enforcement response." They further claim that the world's standard fare of Internet thieves would have invested interest in making Sony and law enforcement agencies believe it was Anonymous to throw police off of their trail.
The hacker group names such former victims as Palantir, HBGary, and the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce of being organizations that would like to discredit Anonymous. "Anonymous will continue its work in support of transparency and individual liberty; our adversaries will continue their work in support of secrecy and control," they state in their press release "we are anonymous."
As Anonymous, Sony, and spectators the world over debate, the affected public continues to wait for the true identies of the hackers involved in stealing 77 milion Sony customers' private information to come to light.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 5, 2011 - 08:35 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Internet, Education, Cyber Security
Microsoft recently posted a press release detailing the results of its sponsored study by the NCSA (National Cyber Security Alliance). The study sought to determine whom people believe bears the responsibility for teaching children how to protect themselves on the Internet, as well as what the current situation is as far as K-12 students’ level of preparedness and education. The executive director of the NCSA, Michael Kaiser, had this to say:
“Just as we would not hand a child a set of car keys with no instruction about how to drive, we should not be sending students out into the world without a solid understanding of how to be safe and secure online."
According to Microsoft, the NCSA advocates for a “comprehensive approach” to teaching children from K-12 how to stay safe and secure online. While the consensus seems to be that students do need educated in Internet security, people are divided on exactly who bears the primary responsibility for teaching children. Children’s teachers, parents, and even government leaders and law enforcement have all been raised as possible responsible parties. The majority of teachers (80 percent) and school administrators (60 percent) surveyed are proponents of parents being responsible for teaching their kids about “digital safety, security, and ethics.” On the other hand, more than 50 percent of the IT coordinators surveyed believe that teachers are the ones that bear the most responsibility of educating kids. From the survey, one area where all groups do seem to agree is on the question of government responsibility in educating kids. Microsoft states that less than one percent believe law enforcement and government officials should bear the responsibility.
While cyber security is important for students to learn, as 97 percent of school administrators believe schools should have courses and an educational plan for students throughout their K-12 grades, only 68 percent of administrators “believe their schools or school districts are doing an adequate job of preparing students...”
The situation of adequate education looks even bleaker when teachers where surveyed. When asked whether they feel prepared to teach students adequately, 24 percent believed they were adequately prepared to talk about and educate kids on protecting personal information on the Internet, and 23 percent are comfortable teaching the risks of cyberbullying. Further, only one-third of teachers surveyed believe they are prepared to educated students on basic Internet security skills “such as password protection and backing up data.” The low numbers are attributed to the lack of professional development training that teachers are receiving. Microsoft states that “86 percent received less than six hours of related training.” Microsoft quotes Kaiser in saying that “America’s schools have not caught up with the realities of the modern economy. Teachers are not getting adequate training in online safety topics, and schools have yet to adopt a comprehensive approach to online safety, security and ethics as part of a primary education. In the 21st century, these topics are as important as reading, writing and math.”
In all of this, there is a ray of hope. Comparing the 2010 study to the NCSA’s 2008 study which you can read here, an increasing number of teachers believe cyber security and professional development training is a priority.More than 60 percent of school officials and teachers are interested in pursing further security training. This interest in training among teachers is up to 69 percent from 55 percent in 2008. IT coordinators and administrators are also becoming more interested in revamping the educational curriculum to better teach their students and workers. Further improvements in interest among educators pursuing further security training can be seen between the 2010 and the 2011 NCSA study. Also, slightly higher percentages exist across the board for teachers who have tought aspects of security in their classrooms compared to both the 2010 and 2008 studies.
On the other hand, while interest in training is increasing for teachers, from 2010 to 2011, security topics taught in clases have actually dropped. This is in addition to a decrease in teachers' beliefs that they bear responsibility in educating kids.
A comparison paper between the 2008 and 2010 study can be downloaded here (PDF).
What are your thoughts on this issue; who bears the primary responsibility in educating children on the importance of Internet safety?
Image 1 courtesy 2011 NCSA study. Image 2 courtesy 2008 to 2010 NCSA comparison study. Material is copyright NCSA, and used according to fair usage guidelines for the purpose of commentary and reporting.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 3, 2011 - 09:40 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Internet, Information, Filtering
TED talks are very similar to the motivational speeches that kids everywhere have had to endure throughout their junior high and high school years. The only real difference is that the talks are made available online to millions of people instead of a few thousand at a time. That said, if you are at all interested in the technology world, TED talks are usually both enlightening and relevant to present issues in the industry.
If that preface has not already scared you off of this article, I encourage you to watch this particular TED talk (which is embedded below), where Eli Pariser demonstrates just what a "filter bubble" is, and what repercussions the once ever-interconnected Internet world faces as more and more websites make personalization take priority over discovery.
Eli uses a search on Google for the subject "Egypt" to show that the results two people get can be drastically different. In an even more "close to home" example, by being a part of a social network like Facebook, you may already be inside a filter bubble and not even know it! This filter bubble is in the form of the "news feed" on Facebook. If you have not talked to, as an example, your best friends from college or high school in a few months, it likely will appear to you that according to their lack of any posts showing on your news feed, they have dropped off the face of the planet and have not updated their Facebook status since the last time you talked to them. More than likely; however, you are part of a filter bubble and simply were not aware of it.
Facebook has somewhat recently modified the way its news feed shows statuses of your Facebook friends to show only statuses of friends with whom you have a certain number of interactions with. This may seem like a good thing at first, as it leaves more room for the people that you talk with most often. Think for a second; however, if you missed your little brother or only nephew's first winning football game score status and photos of him during the winning play because you haven't talked to them in a few weeks. While that may be something you would consider to be big news and something that you would likely want to know about, Facebook's computer algorithms may just decide the exact opposite for you.
In practice, filter bubbles and personalization on the web are likely to be more subtle occurrences. Eli Pariser's talk does beg the question of whether or not filter bubbles are the right for the Internet and its users in any capacity. Is individual personalization worth people giving up the freedom to stumble upon new information and the opportunity to get the same exposure to the world as everyone else if they so choose? Do you see the personalized web as a positive or a negative thing for the world? What are your thoughts on users being led into a "web of one" as Eli cautions?