Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Freedom Technology Christmas

Check out this posting on how to spread the gift of Tech in the community.
Freedom Technology Christmas.

Thanks to the Villager

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Winter Survival Tip; Making Fire

Winter is fast approaching. Use this is a simply technique to create fire.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Layoff Lifeboat:

I was out of work for over a year in Detroit and you will experience nearly everything mentioned below. I would add that the key to getting back in the career field is networking with friends and involvement in professional organizations such as BDPA will help. The IT position I am in today is a result of networking with a BDPA members. Also stay busy. Volunteer in the community using you skill set. I helped refurbish laptop computers for students and their parents to use. This will be a difficult time but can be transformed into a time of locating you true passion.

The Layoff Lifeboat: How to Get Back to Work

Nobody wants to talk about layoffs. They're humbling, humiliating, draining and have a huge fiscal and professional drain on those that have been affected by them. But if you work in IT, it is rare to not know at least one person who has been down that road, and how hard it was for them to get back on their feet.

Joshua Muskovitz, a senior developer at SRC, headquartered in Orange, Calif. had the bad fortune to be laid off two months before 9/11.

"People were really excited to hire IT after 9/11," he quipped sarcastically. "The job market was devastated."

It took him a year to get back on his feet, and even that was an arduous process, beginning with teaching at the local ITT Technical school in Albany, N.Y., where he is based, which "paid almost to the penny what unemployment did, as in, not even close to enough" to taking on contract work before finally getting a full-time job with benefits.

In this year, he learned a lot. As if being unemployed isn't bad enough, there is a stigma attached to it.

"You have to constantly explain why you are unemployed. You have maybe a small window of time, a few weeks or a month, where people won't ask, though, so its best to get started looking as soon as you can," said Muskovitz.

Furthermore, as is often the case in IT layoffs, you are not alone in being laid off—often it is an entire department or company that is let go at the same time, which means that the market is flooded with people just like you.

"If you dally, they're going to get there first. You won't miss out on a job because you're not qualified, but it gets a little dog-eat-dog out there. Layoffs tend to come in cycles; they're anything but sporadic," said Muskovitz.

The good news is that advice on how to get back on your feet after being laid off isn't just for those who have recently lost their jobs—it can serve as protection if you ever do, and as anyone who has ever lost a job before knows, you can never play it too safe.

1. Look for the Signs

A little-discussed fact of job loss is that, quite often, the months and weeks leading up to a layoff weren't exactly the best of times. In fact, layoffs are rarely a sudden event.

"A company doesn't just look at the bank account one day and—gasp!—we didn't know we were running low! They knew it was coming. Everyone knows it coming, whether there is word of a big meeting or sale that could determine the future of the company or whether management is moping around," said Muskovitz. "It wasn't really a great job up until the very minute you got laid off."

As nihilistic a view as that statement may seem, the smartest move is to see these signs coming, and not wait until the axe finally drops to face the facts, whether that means getting back in touch with contacts, updating your resume or asking friends if their companies are hiring.

"On the day that you are laid off, or ideally before that, you want a Rolodex full of contacts. My big rally against open networking is that you can have 10 thousand contacts and not know any of them. Make sure you really know some people," said Muskovitz.

While no layoff is easy, getting gears into motion beforehand can help people get back on their feet faster, because the job market usually operates on a first come, first serve basis.

"If you really in your heart believe that the day is coming, don't wait until you are laid off to start looking for a job. On that day you are with a thousand other people. Be the first person," said Muskovitz.

2. Apply for Unemployment That Very Day

Even though it will be the very last thing that you will want to do—swallow your pride, get your papers together and march to the bureaucratic nightmare that your town's unemployment office will inevitably be—it has to be the first.

"Your benefits are based entirely on the day you go to apply. If you wait a day, you get one day les. You may not want to deal with it; you may be sure you are going to get a new job tomorrow, but you must," said Muskovitz.

There are other reasons as well, some of which vary by state.

"Here in Washington, there is a one-week period before you can start collecting. But, most layoffs happen on a Friday, so if you can get there on Friday, the week ends [on] Saturday, so those two days will count as seven" Robert Poulk, a Redmond-based senior enterprise systems troubleshooter, currently working on contract, who called himself all-too-seasoned in the ins and outs of unemployment.

Muskovitz, like others, made no bones about this process: applying for unemployment is "an awful, awful thing."

"People who apply for it are made to feel guilty about it, despite the fact that it is an entitlement. You have paid into this fund. It's your money, go get it," said Muskovitz. "It's really not a handout but it's very much treated that way."

Muskovitz admits that it was a bit of a culture shock to go from being a white collar professional to being ordered to look for a job every day, be able to constantly prove this or else your only source of income would be taken away. The job-placement services that are offered are not always technology-focused.

"The first rule, though, is to put your pride in the bank and go deliver pizzas if you must," he said.

3. Mope, Cry or Imbibe, But Stay Classy

After the initial trip to the unemployment office is made, it is sometimes okay to give yourself a day or so to decompress, especially if, like in Muskovtiz's case, it has been a "not very enjoyable" job.

"There is a lot of tension, and the next day, you're not raring to go. I gave myself a week or two to take a vacation, sit outside, look at the clouds and not work," said Muskovitz.

He had been able to buy himself a little bit of time by negotiating a severance package [See Tip 10] beforehand, but even if you have not done the same, it's okay to take a day to get your head together, especially if you have until the end of the month, for example, before your job is eliminated.

Yet even if you have advanced noticed, it's important not to flip your bosses or coworkers the proverbial bird or act in any way unprofessional.

"The most important thing to do is to realize that the company did not want to do this. It was a last resort. So serve out your time, be a professional and hopefully make some connections. Be the guy that left with class, because it keeps that door open for you if business conditions change," Jim Lanzalotto, vice president of strategy and marketing at Yoh Services, a provider of talent and outsourcing services based in Philadelphia, told eWEEK.

4. Cut Back On All Excess Expenses, Get Insurance

The unemployment office may be a sobering event, but the visit is rarely as mood-killing as receiving the first check itself. While the exact amount received varies from state to state, in general it approximates 50 percent or less than your weekly earnings, with a set maximum that also varies by where you life.

At best, once your severance (if any) runs out, you'll be living on half your prior income, and there will be no choice but to cut back on any and all excess expenses. "The longer you can hold out, the better for everyone," explains Muskovitz.

Health insurance must be arranged as well, and even though it will cost an arm and a leg (no pun intended), it is essential that you remain covered, or you will do yourself an unintentional disservice.

"Every time you change jobs, your new insurance will demand proof of continued coverage, or they will only give you limited benefits for a period of time," Muskovitz said.

5. Perfect Your Resume

In general, unemployment insurance lasts for 26 weeks (about six months), but in times of extended high unemployment, benefits may be extended by 13 weeks or more. Nevertheless, once you're done moping, arranging unemployment pay and health insurance, its time to get down to the brass tacks of job hunting and buff your resume to a high shine.

Of course, not everyone agrees that you should wait until you need a new job to get this in order, in fact many argue that you should be updating it even when your next job hunt may be years off.

"I really believe that the process of updating your resume should not be an event-driven thing. You should always be updating it, to be ready for both internal [and] external activities. Maybe there is a promotion you want, or a move to another department… Don't let anyone make you feel that you are disloyal to keep it updated. If you're in charge of your brand, this is your brochure," said Lanzalotto.

Your resume should be flawless; as this is not a place where mistakes are easily forgiven. There should be no typos, it should look clean and neat and it should be totally coherent.

"If they can't take the time and trouble to get one piece of paper right, why do I want to risk my business on them? It's not rocket science to get it perfect. Ask your friends to take a look at it, buy them a beer," said Muskovitz, who has been the point person for hiring in many of his jobs.

"The very first place you lose your chance at a job is for your resume to have typos and or be in any way incoherent."

6. Tell Everyone in the Whole World That You Need Help

Losing a job, even if it was your company that failed or could no longer afford to keep you aboard, is humiliating. Few have gone through what is often called "the horror of unemployment" without it taking a toll on their self-esteem. Many deal with this by keeping the arduous process of getting back on their feet again to themselves, but this is the wrong way to handle it.

"Nobody is going to guess that you are looking for a job. If you appropriately communicate what you want to do, people generally want to help you, so reach out to your contacts," said Lanzalotto.

Muskovitz says that this is no time to be stoic and pretend that things are okay when they are not. During a year-long bout of unemployment, he even went so far as to make a t-shirt that said "Hire Me" with a list of his skills on it. He'd wear it to mixers.

"As soon as you know you've lost your job, start calling in favors. If you had a friend that suddenly lost their job, you would do everything in your power to help them out, but only if you knew there was a problem. The way you find a new opportunity is to enlist as many human beings as possible to help you find it," said Muskovitz.

You never know when the bag boy at the grocery store has a mother with a consulting business that needs help, he added.

7. Your New Job is Finding a Job

Those who have been laid off and those who advise them agree on one thing: you must come out of the gate fighting.

"That first week, you are still in a work mode and you have to take advantage of that. If you get used to staying home and sleeping late, your pace changes. When you're shocked and pissed off is a good time to leverage this energy and get the engines running," said Poulk.

In treating job-hunting as your job, maintaining a routine can help combat the funk that surrounds not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from.

"Every single morning, go out, buy the newspaper and read the classified [section]. Go to all of the job boards and post your resume everywhere and go to Google and find that one magic phrase that nobody else has thought of and e-mail everyone that you know," said Muskovitz.

Muskovitz would have business cards made with his contact information on it and have them and a stack of resumes everywhere, including his car. He'd have lunch at a diner and run into a friend and give the friend two cards, one for them and one for anyone else they know.

"I'd put classified ads in the paper offering to do one-on-one computer tutoring or maintenance. I'd help people who were computer-phobic. Odds are, if you are technically inclined, you've been doing this anyway for friends. Now get some work out of it," said Muskovitz.

8. Don't Take It Out on the Wrong People Having to ask friends for help and relying on social services for paychecks is emotionally draining.

"People have a lot of pride and this wears them down. It's awful and terrible and horrible, but if you've kept up your healthcare, take advantage of the mental health services available if you must. Find people to talk to," said Muskovitz.

Muskovitz said that being unemployed humbled him. While unemployed, he'd look at people on the street and finally understood how few steps there were between himself and the homeless guy he stepped over on the sidewalk. It was a sobering experience and finding people to talk to was essential to his well-being.

"It's better than taking it out on your family," he said.

9. Take a Deep Breath When You Reach the Shore

When you finally land a new job, it's the best day in the world. But, your job recovery process is not over yet.

"When you get that gig, celebrate. And then, thank everyone who helped you. Send them an e-mail, a letter. People appreciate that follow-through," said Lanzalotto, who sees the help friends have given as a responsibility as well as a gift. "Now it will be your job to reach out to other people who might run into the same problem."

Furthermore, don't be surprised if you are not completely out of the woods, financially or emotionally.

"It's not an immediate jump back into 'well.' If you're in a leaky boat and you plug the hole, you still have water in the boat. Even if you are on a day-to-day basis more or less back where you were, you accumulate baggage," said Muskovitz, who said that seven years later, he still carried debt from his year without a job.

10. Negotiate Severance Pay This Time Around

There's an old adage about if you make a mistake once, it's forgivable, but making the same mistake again is less so. IT and other professionals who have been laid off even once quickly learn to try to negotiate severance packages at the start of a job.

After being laid off from a company once, then rehired, Muskovitz did just this, and when layoffs came around again a year later, others had only two weeks pay while he had three months.

"It happened four times total, so I got wise—it helped a lot," he said.

Even recruiters agree it can be in the best interest of a scorned professional.

"It's almost like a prenuptial agreement, but its appropriate because if you're going somewhere, your hope is that relationship is going to work and you hope you're going to be a great player and as asset to them. But if this doesn't work out, you want to get something fair back," said Lanzalotto.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ad Server Hijacked

Details of hijacked 24/7 ad server emerge

Hackers have hijacked a server operated by Internet advertising company 24/7 Real Media and are using it to seed legitimate Web sites with ads carrying attack code, Symantec said Friday.

Windows users who visited sites with the attacking ads were infected if they browsed with Microsoft's Internet Explorer and had RealNetworks' popular RealPlayer media player program installed on their PCs, Symantec said in an analysis written by three company researchers. This is the first time that malware has piggybacked on Internet ads served from a major advertising firm.

The attack should be a warning to the Web, said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security Inc. "So much of the content we consume today comes from many syndication services," Storms said in an e-mail interview. "We trust that the content provided to us by Internet 'blue chips' is safe from malware.

"This should be a wakeup call for sites which offer syndicated content," Storms said. "They need to take a more active role in ensuring the security of [that] content."

Working off reports last week that RealPlayer and Internet Explorer could be exploited to infect Windows computers, Symantec researchers Aaron Adams, Raymond Ball and Anthony Roe used a compromised company honeypot to trace an attack back to 24/7 Real Media's server. Although Symantec didn't speculate on how the server was compromised, it did lay out the attack's progression.

How the hack worked

After they'd gotten access to the server, the attackers added code that embedded an IFrame in every advertisement. The invisible IFrame contained instructions to redirect any browser that rendered the ad to another, unauthorized IP address. In other words, users who surfed to a theoretically trustworthy site that contained ads inserted by New York-based 24/7 were, in fact, secretly shunted to the second, malicious site.

Script hosted on that second site sniffed users' machines to determine if they were vulnerable to the unpatched RealPlayer vulnerability before actually launching an attack, according to Symantec. "The script first tests the user-agent supplied by the browser ensuring that it is Internet 6 or 7 and the system is identified as NT 5.1 [Windows XP] or NT 5.0 [Windows 2000]," Adams, Ball and Roe said in a report. Other sniff tests included one to identify the version of RealPlayer on the vulnerable PC.

If the computer met the attack criteria, a second exploit script was executed, which in turn downloaded and installed a Trojan horse to the PC. The Trojan horse was a variation of "Zonebac," malware first detected last year that disables a slew of security software and lowers Internet Explorer's security settings, said the analysts. On Friday, Symantec called the original Zonebac "fairly unsophisticated" but added that the variant in the RealPlayer attack "retrieves information from numerous Web sites."

Symantec was not available over the weekend to answer questions about the nature of that information or to provide any other details of the attack.

"What's most interesting about the exploit is where it is hosted," the three researchers said. "The compromise of an ad server can greatly increase the effectiveness of the attack. It is so effective because it allows an attacker to target victims that are browsing trusted or well-known Web sites."

In the specific attack that Symantec monitored, the advertisement -- which was for job-hunting site -- had been placed on a site hosted by, a Web hosting service owned by Lycos Inc. that offers both free and for-a-fee plans. "The Web site that triggered the breach on the DeepSight honeypot was ',' containing [an] embedded script ... which loaded the compromised advertisement and then in turn loaded the exploit," said the Adams, Ball and Roe report. "To emphasize the severity of this attack, [the ad script] is embedded and called in every user Web page (URLs formatted like '') at least," they added.

Ground control to major mess

Tripod places ads on sites hosted under its free plan; customers who pay hosting fees, however, do not have ads stuck on their sites' pages.

It's not known if the only sites served with ads containing the IFrame were Tripod's. There were hints, however, that Tripod might not be the only tainted domain. Last Wednesday, for example, NASA issued a warning to workers of a surge in attacks on Windows PCs running Internet Explorer and RealPlayer. According to the space agency's bulletin, the attacks had come from "well-known news sites which may be hosting advertisements from ad servers that redirect the users to malware hosting sites." Friday, NASA spokesman Mike Mewhinney declined to name the news sites the agency suspected of displaying rogue ads.

Because 24/7 Real Media's ad research is significant, the IFrame-infected ads may have been placed on a large number of Web sites. According to the most recent data from Internet audience measurement firm comScore, 24/7's ads reached 50% of all Americans online last month. The company's reach placed it at No. 15 on comScore's September Top 50.

24/7 Real Media did not respond to e-mails sent Friday and Sunday.

Symantec couldn't pin down the start date of the attack, but it did note that the malicious site had hosted exploit code since at least Oct. 8. "There is a possibility that this IP [has been] controlled by the same attackers for quite some time and that they are using it to launch numerous low-key attacks," said Adams, Ball and Roe.

Late Friday, RealNetworks issued a patch for RealPlayer 10.5 and the RealPlayer 11 beta. It also urged users of earlier versions to first upgrade to 10.5 or 11, then apply the patch. Only Windows versions of RealPlayer are vulnerable, RealNetworks said in its advisory; Mac and Linux versions are not at risk.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

'Low-priced' laptop

Taiwan's Asustek launches 'low-priced' laptop

An Asustek employee displays laptop computer model Eee PC in Taipei. Leading Taiwan computer maker Asustek Computer Inc launched a low-cost laptop computer targeting children elderly people and low-income users in the developing world.
An Asustek employee displays laptop computer model "Eee PC" in Taipei. Leading Taiwan computer maker Asustek Computer Inc launched a low-cost laptop computer targeting children, elderly people and low-income users in the developing world.

Leading Taiwan computer maker Asustek Computer Inc on Tuesday launched a low-cost laptop computer targeting children, elderly people and low-income users in the developing world.

Asustek described "Eee PC" as easy to work, play and learn, which Asustek chief executive officer Johnny Shih said made it more competitive.

"The 'Eee PC' is our answer to where the next one billion users of personal computers are going to come from," Shih told reporters at the product launch news conference.

"We want to enable more users around the world -- housewives, the elderly and children -- to have access."

Asustek also aims to attract more general users hoping it could be seen as their second computer.

"Basically, we do not define the model as a low-priced computer. Rather, it is armed with innovative cutting-edge technology," company spokesman Beck Lee told AFP.

"Hopefully it would become the second computer of a number of PC users."

Weighing only 0.89 kilograms, the 7-inch Eee PC features compact mobility, wireless capability and large flash-based storage capacity.

Originally designed on the Linux operating system, the Eee PC will also become available with the option of shifting to Microsoft Corp's Windows platform when it hits store shelves next month.

The model launched Tuesday carries a price tag of 11,000 Taiwan dollars (337.4 US). Three other models of the line will hit the market before the end of next month, with separate prices of 7,999 Taiwan dollars (245.4 US), 9,900 Taiwan dollars (303.7 US), and 13,888 Taiwan dollars (426 US).

Asustek expected shipment of the PC model at 300,000 units in the three months to December.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tech Security and You

LTU @ LTU' event to talk security

What are the current threats to data and networks? What is the current IT security landscape? What are forward-thinking organizations doing to protect themselves against data theft and hacker attacks?

Join WWJ Technology Editor Matt Roush for an informative breakfast program on “Tech Security and You,” Thursday, Oct. 25 at Lawrence Technological University. Speakers will include David Glenn, vice president at the Troy IT security firm Creative Breakthroughs Inc., and Matthias Horch, CEO of Southfield-based Secure-24 Inc., a managed services and hosting company that handles some of corporate America’s most sensitive data.

The event will take place in Lawrence Tech;s UTLC Gallery, 21000 W. 10 Mile Road in Southfield.

It's all free -- coffee and bagels on us, beginning at 7:30 a.m., with the discussion running from 8 to 9 a.m. -- but reservations are required. Click here.

The event is presented by Lawrence Technological University, The Great Lakes IT Report and WWJ Newsradio 950

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

10 funniest Microsoft YouTube videos

Check out these classic parodies. The OPhone video is so real that you believe Microsoft just might actually make such a device.

Microsoft Parody

Noncertified IT pros earn more

Noncertified IT pros earn more than certified counterparts: survey

By Denise Dubie, Network World, 10/16/07

IT professionals who have acumen in diverse business areas but whose IT skills are noncertified are bringing in bigger salaries on average than their certified counterparts, according to Foote Partners, which attributes the growing imbalance to the melding of corporate and IT goals.

"The corner officially has been turned for IT professionals who choose to market the diversity of their talents, not just their technical skills," according to David Foote, co-founder, CEO and chief research officer at Foote Partners, which this week released the findings of its "IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index." The report monitors the pay of 74,000 IT professionals in the United States and Canada and what they earn for 315 certified and noncertified technical and management skills and certifications.

For instance, Foote Partners research shows the average premium pay for the 156 noncertified skills it tracks grew 8% in the past 12 months. On the other hand, the average earnings for 159 certified skills the research firm monitors declined 3.5% during the same time.

Foote estimates this trend will continue as the relationship between business and IT evolves. "The truth is that IT jobs have changed substantially in eight years," he writes. "The hurt that has been put on the marketplace reputation of skills certifications is only a drop in the pond of fundamental changes that will reform or destroy dozens of long-held IT industry conventions, beliefs and rituals."

Not all certifications are on the decline, however, Foote reports. IT security certifications have entered a growth phase, and the research firm expects to see that continue at a 5% to 7% rate for the next three years. Still, the firm contends that the trend to increased compensation for noncertified skills will not subside, and IT professionals will continue to need to have both technical knowledge and business savvy to succeed in the workplace. "IT professionals today have to be routinely knowledgeable about a whole lot of things that have to do with their employers' industry, customers and products, enough to take a strategic as well as tactical role in growing the business," he writes in the report.

The Foote Partners' research results are similar to recent findings from the Society for Information Management (SIM), which reported last week that IT management considered aligning IT and business and building business skills in IT among their top 10 concerns in 2007. In addition, the CIOs and IT executives responding to SIM's survey identified business intelligence and business process management among their top five application and technology developments in 2007. The shift in IT priorities from purely technical skills to business-related experience can be seen from administrators working in the IT trenches all the way up to the executive suites.

"CIOs are recognizing that they are going through a major transition from one of a more technical role to one that is more of a business management role," says Jerry Luftman, SIM's vice president of academic affairs. "We asked CIOs how they spend their time, and two-thirds of their time is spent on nontechnical issues -- just a few years ago, that number hovered around 50%.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

X-wing Flight

A not so successful X-wing flight for Luke!!

IPod Nano catches fire in man's pocket

This is a real problem with the new Li-Poly batteries. Overcharge them and they explode or if they get too hot they go boom. In the RC hobby world, you charge theses packs inside an old ammunition carrier to absorb the brunt of the explosion if the packs overcharge. Is this the price we have to pay for high capacity batteries?? Thank God we do not use nuclear batteries yet.

IPod Nano catches fire in man's pocket

An Atlanta man says his iPod Nano caught fire in his pants.

The nearly two year-old iPod caught fire in the pocket of Danny Williams at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where he is employed, according to Williams' mother, Elaine. The flames lasted 15 seconds and fire reached up to his chest, she said in a telephone interview.

Apple representatives were not immediately available for comment, but the company has since sent a packet to Danny to return the iPod Nano, she said.

Glossy paper in his pocket may have shielded him from getting burned by the fire, Danny Williams said in local news reports. "If TSA had come by and seen me smoking, they could have honestly thought I was a terrorist," Williams is quoted as saying.

The iPod contains a lithium-ion battery, which has a history of catching fire in laptops. Since December 2005 these batteries have been blamed for meltdowns and fires in several computers. Last year several manufacturers, including Apple, Dell, and Lenovo Group were forced to recall millions of the batteries.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Permanet computer memory!!

Nanoscale computer memory retrieves data 1,000 times faster

Nanoscale computer memory retrieves data 1,000 times faster
Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have developed nanowires capable of storing computer data for 100,000 years and retrieving that data a thousand times faster than existing portable memory devices such as Flash memory and micro-drives, all using less power and space than current memory technologies.

Ritesh Agarwal, an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and colleagues developed a self-assembling nanowire of germanium antimony telluride, a phase-changing material that switches between amorphous and crystalline structures, the key to read/write computer memory.

Fabrication of the nanoscale devices, roughly 100 atoms in diameter, was performed without conventional lithography, the blunt, top-down manufacturing process that employs strong chemicals and often produces unusable materials with space, size and efficiency limitations.

Instead, researchers used self-assembly, a process by which chemical reactants crystallize at lower temperatures mediated by nanoscale metal catalysts to spontaneously form nanowires that were 30-50 nanometers in diameter and 10 micrometers in length, and then they fabricated memory devices on silicon substrates.

“We measured the resulting nanowires for write-current amplitude, switching speed between amorphous and crystalline phases, long-term durability and data retention time,” Agarwal said.

Tests showed extremely low power consumption for data encoding (0.7mW per bit). They also indicated the data writing, erasing and retrieval (50 nanoseconds) to be 1,000 times faster than conventional Flash memory and indicated the device would not lose data even after approximately 100,000 years of use, all with the potential to realize terabit-level nonvolatile memory device density.

“This new form of memory has the potential to revolutionize the way we share information, transfer data and even download entertainment as consumers,” Agarwal said. “This represents a potential sea-change in the way we access and store data.”

Phase-change memory in general features faster read/write, better durability and simpler construction compared with other memory technologies such as Flash. The challenge has been to reduce the size of phase change materials by conventional lithographic techniques without damaging their useful properties. Self-assembled phase-change nanowires, as created by Penn researchers, operate with less power and are easier to scale, providing a useful new strategy for ideal memory that provides efficient and durable control of memory several orders of magnitude greater than current technologies.

“The atomic scale of the nanodevices may represent the ultimate size limit in current-induced phase transition systems for non-volatile memory applications,” Agarwal said.

Current solid-state technology for products like memory cards, digital cameras and personal data assistants traditionally utilize Flash memory, a non-volatile and durable computer memory that can be erased and reprogrammed electronically. Data on Flash drives provides most battery-powered devices with acceptable levels of durability and moderately fast data access. Yet the technology’s limits are apparent. Digital cameras can’t snap rapid-fire photos because it takes precious seconds to store the last photo to memory. If the memory device is fast, as in DRAM and SRAM used in computers, then it is volatile; if the plug on a desktop computer is pulled, all recent data entry is lost.

Therefore, a universal memory device is desired that can be scalable, fast, durable and nonvolatile, a difficult set of requirements which have now been demonstrated at Penn.

“Imagine being able to store hundreds of high-resolution movies in a small drive, downloading them and playing them without wasting time on data buffering, or imagine booting your laptop computer in a few seconds as you wouldn’t need to transfer the operating system to active memory” Agarwal said.

Source: University of Pennsylvania