Monday, February 27, 2012

Motivational Monday

Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.
Know your own mind, and you will be as wise as the sages.

When you take charge of your mind, you take charge of your life. When you understand your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and desires, you can direct them to any end you choose. Wisdom comes from taking the time to study yourself, to know why you are the person you are. Taking charge of your mind is a thoughtful, reflective, solitary process. Only you can come to understand the complex inner workings of your own mind, and you must be willing to spend the time and effort that gaining such insight requires.

Permanent link to this post: Know your own mind, and you will be as wise as the sages.

10 signs that you aren't cut out for IT

Takeaway: IT pros often complain about the downsides of their jobs. But what if you really AREN’T meant for an IT career?
It’s a tough world out there. Anyone who’s ever worked in IT knows just how tough it is. And if you’re not totally up for the challenge, there will always be someone else who is. But for anyone considering getting into the world of IT, or for those considering getting out of IT… how do you know? How do you know whether you are really cut out for the career that chews up and spits out its young? Well, I have a handy list of signs that maybe IT isn’t the best fit for you.

1: You lack patience

Patience is most certainly a virtue in IT. When some problems strike, they strike with vengeance and most often require a good deal of time to resolve. If you are without patience, you’ll either give up, lose your mind, or pull out all your hair. But the need for patience doesn’t end at dealing with problems. Many times, end users will test your patience more than the technology will. If that’s the case, I recommend that you either get away from having to deal with end users or (if that’s not possible), leave IT immediately.

2: You have no desire to continue your education

IT is an ever-evolving field and without the desire to continue learning, you’re already way behind the curve. This is one of those fields where you must be okay with constantly learning something new. That might mean taking a class or attending a workshop or just hitting the books on your own. But no matter how you slice that education, you must be willing to continue to learn.

3: You refuse to work outside 9-to-5

Technology doesn’t adhere to a set schedule. Servers go down whenever they want and business must go on. So you must be willing to wake up in the middle of the night, work long hours during the week, and work weekends. If you’re someone who refuses to let your workweek interfere with your personal life — well, the writing on the wall is pretty clear.

4: You don’t like people

Do I really need to expand on this one? Yes? Fine. The reason IT pros have jobs is to support end users — aka people. If you don’t like people (and I know plenty who don’t), you really shouldn’t consider a career in IT. The big irony of this is that I also know a lot of people who have been driven to dislike people BECAUSE of IT.

5: You give up quickly

How many times have you had an issue really test your abilities? Did you give up or did you forge on until you managed to best that problem? If you gave up, you did so knowing that you left something broken. That is not an acceptable work ethic in IT, and if you’re okay with that, it’s time to reconsider. Oh sure, there will be times when something is beyond repair or an issue goes above your skill set. But if that’s the case, it’s your responsibility to replace the broken tech or hire someone in to fix the issue.

6: You’re easily frustrated

This is an industry that can frustrate even the most unflappable. But if your frustration boils to the surface right away, you will spend much of your day with high blood pressure. Although IT is a rewarding field, it can also be a frustrating one. If frustration often gets the best of you, you might want to consider a new career or stock in a therapist.

7: You can’t multitask

At any given point in a day, I am doing three or four things at once. Sometimes, this is the only way I can actually get everything done in the given timeframe. If you insist on sticking to one task at a time, IT is going to be a tough career for you. That is not to say single-minded people can’t succeed — but they will have a tougher time than those who can multitask.

8: You have dreams of climbing the corporate ladder

There isn’t much room on the ladder within the IT department. If you have dreams of climbing up and perching yourself on top, you might want to consider a different field. Some IT departments do offer promotions, and maybe you can even climb your way up to CIO. But if CEO is in your dreams, IT is not the field for you.

9: You hate technology

This one should go without saying. But strangely enough, I know people in the IT field who actually HATE technology. If you consider yourself a technophobe, maybe being around servers, desktops, switches, routers, and other IT-centric hardware might not be the best place for you. Although it’s perfectly possible to work in a field you despise, the added level of frustrations you will experience might end your time on this good green Earth earlier than you expected. Take a pass on IT.

10: You turn off your phone at night

This relates to your work hours. Many IT pros I work with are on call 24/7. Their lives completely revolve around their networks, and if they weren’t willing to have such a life, they probably wouldn’t have the jobs they have now. The IT job doesn’t go away — it remains in the background all the time, waiting to pull you from sleep, family gatherings, the birth of your first child. If you’re one to turn your phone off when you leave work, or even ignore those calls from the office (even when said office is blowing said phone up), it might be a good sign the you and your career are not a good fit.

Tallying up the cons

Just because you suffer from one of two of these traits doesn’t mean you should jump off the IT train and start flipping burgers. But if you recognize quite a few of these signs, you might want to call it a career and head back to school. To help balance the pros and cons, I’ll follow up soon with a list of signs that IT is exactly where you need to be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

15 Top Paying IT Certifications for 2012

Randy Muller, Global Knowledge Instructor, MCT, MCSE, MCSA, MCDST

When the conversation amongst IT professionals turns to IT Certifications, one of their first thoughts is of high salaries - dollar signs dancing in their heads. While some certifications do command a six-figure salary, this is not true for all. With the recent completion of our annual IT Skills and Salary report, I thought it would be a great time to look at some of the more popular certifications - and their associated pay.
Note: The rankings below are based on certifications that received the minimum 200 responses required to derive a salary figure that is statically accurate. There are certifications that pay more that are not represented due to their exclusive nature. These include CCIE: Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert and VCDX: VMware Certified Design Expert, for example.

1. PMP® - Project Management Professional - ($111,209)

The Project Management Institute's (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) credential is recognized as the most important certification for project managers and is globally recognized and in heavy demand. The PMP credential demonstrates that you not only have the requisite, real-world experience, but that you also have the education to successfully lead and direct projects. The PMP credential should only be attempted by experienced project managers as the qualifications and testing for this certification are very rigorous. In addition, the PMI requires continued validation through required continuing education requirements. All of these factors ensure that the PMP credential is widely respected. The PMP experience and exam requirements focus on five process groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, and Closing.

2. CISSP® - Certified Information Systems Security Professional - $110,342

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential is for security managers and professionals who develop policies and procedures in information security. The CISSP certification has become the gold standard in information security certifications. Earning and maintaining a CISSP certification is required for many governmental, military, and civilian security positions. The CISSP was the first credential in the field of information security, accredited by the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) to ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Standard 17024:2003. Earning your CISSP certification is not only an objective measure of excellence, but it is a globally recognized standard of achievement.

3. CCDA® - Cisco Certified Design Associate - $101,915

The Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) demonstrates that the individual who has passed the required exams has the requisite knowledge, experience, and understanding required to design a Cisco converged network. A CCDA-certified individual has the skills to design a routed and switched network infrastructure and services involving LAN, WAN, and broadband access for businesses and organizations.

4. ITIL® v3 Foundation - ($97,691)

What is this ITIL that we hear so much about? The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITILv3) is a foundational process that provides for quality IT Service Management. The success of ITIL is through the use of documented and proven processes that cover the entire Service Lifecycle. The ITIL Expert level is the third of four levels. The ITIL Expert level certification is aimed at those individuals who are interested in demonstrating a superior level of knowledge of ITIL Version 3 (V3) in its entirety. Once you have achieved ITIL Expert level, you will also satisfy the pre-requisite entry criteria for the ITIL Master Level. This is the highest level of certification within the ITIL V3 scheme, though the Master level is still under development

5. MCSE - Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer - $91,650

The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification ended with Server 2003, though you can still earn it (as well as the MCSE on Server 2000, though many of the tests are retired). The continued use of Windows Server 2003 in the market suggests that the demand for related expertise will continue for some time. The MCSE certification demonstrates to clients and employers that you are skilled in designing, implementing, and administering infrastructures for business solutions based on Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Windows 2000 Server. Implementation responsibilities include installing, configuring, and troubleshooting network systems. In order for you to earn your MCSE on Windows Server 2003 certification (or Windows 2000 Server), you must pass seven exams: four exams on networking systems, one exam on client operating systems, one exam on design, and one elective exam. One thing to be aware of is that many of the exams are retired or will be retiring soon. If one of the required exams is retired and you have not passed the exam, then you cannot earn the certification. If you have passed the exam before it retired, than it still can be applied to the certification.

6. VCP - VMware Certified Professional - $91,648

Virtualization and those who are knowledgeable on virtualization products are in heavy demand. VMware is one of the leading vendors of virtualization products and earning a VMware certification is the first step toward gaining industry-recognized expertise in virtual infrastructure and the industry recognition that goes along with it. The VMware Certified Professional (VCP5) demonstrates that you have the skillset to successfully install, manage, and deploy VMware vSphere 5.

7. CCNP® - Cisco Certified Network Professional - $90,457

There are two tracks available at the Associate and Professional levels: Cisco Certified Design Professional and Cisco Certified Network Professional. The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) demonstrates that you have the ability to plan, implement, verify, and troubleshoot local and wide-area enterprise networks. A CCNP-certified individual is expected to work collaboratively with other Cisco specialists on advanced security, voice, wireless, and video solutions.

8. CompTIA Server+ - $84,997

CompTIA certifications are international, vendor-neutral certifications that validate a candidate's knowledge of a specific field. The CompTIA Server+ certification demonstrates the IT professional's knowledge of server hardware, software, storage, IT environment, disaster recovery, and troubleshooting. It is recommended that technical support professionals have 18 to 24 months experience in supporting servers and server technology. While not a prerequisite, it is recommended that candidates have a CompTIA A+ certification as well.

9. MCITP - Microsoft Certified IT Professional - $84,330

The Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification helps validate that an individual has the comprehensive set of skills necessary to perform a particular job role, such as database administrator or enterprise messaging administrator. The MCITP certification validates that the IT professional is capable of deploying, building, designing, optimizing, and operating technologies for a particular job role.
MCITP certifications build on the technical proficiency measured in the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certifications. Therefore, you will earn one or more MCTS certifications on your way to earning an MCITP certification. Currently, there are 15 MCITP certifications available from Microsoft:
  • MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7
  • MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7
  • MCITP: Consumer Support Technician on Windows Vista
  • MCITP: Enterprise Support Technician on Windows Vista
  • MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008
  • MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008
  • MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2
  • MCITP: Database Administrator 2008
  • MCITP: Database Developer 2008
  • MCITP: Business Intelligence Developer 2008
  • MCITP: Enterprise Project Management with Microsoft Office Project Server 2007
  • MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator on Exchange 2010
  • MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator on Exchange 2007
  • MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: Lync Server Administrator 2010

10. CCNA® - Cisco Certified Network Associate - $82,923

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) validates the holder's ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot medium-sized route and switched networks, including implementation and verification of connections to remote sites in a WAN. CCNA curriculum includes basic mitigation of security threats, introduction to wireless networking concepts and terminology, and performance-based skills. This new curriculum also includes (but is not limited to) the use of these protocols: IP, Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (EIGRP), Serial Line Interface Protocol Frame Relay, Routing Information Protocol Version 2 (RIPv2),VLANs, Ethernet, and access control lists (ACLs).

11. MCSA - Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator - $82,923

The Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) certification helps validate your ability to manage and troubleshoot network environments based on the Windows Server 2003 operating system. It reflects a unique set of skills required to succeed in a variety of job roles, such as systems administrator, network administrator, information systems administrator, network operations analyst, network technician, and technical support specialist. The MCSA on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server certification is no longer be available as of December 31, 2011

12. CompTIA Security+ - $80,066

CompTIA certifications are international, vendor-neutral certifications that validate a candidate's knowledge of a specific field. The CompTIA Security+ certification validates the knowledge of security professionals in one of the fastest-growing fields in IT. The Security+ certification validates the security IT professional in: network security, compliance and operational security, threats and vulnerabilities, access control and identity management, cryptography and application, and data and host security. Candidates will also be tested on their knowledge of security concepts, tools, and procedures to react to security incidents. It ensures that security personnel are anticipating security risks and guarding against them. The CompTIA Security+ certification is accredited by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).The CompTIA Security+ certification may be kept current through the CompTIA Continuing Education program.

13. MCP - Microsoft Certified Professional - $79,363

The Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certification was awarded by passing one or more exams, though there was no designation as to what product you earned with your MCP.
The MCP program itself was designed for both IT Professionals and developers. The MCP was replaced by the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification. The MCTS certification is designed to help validate your skills on the features and functionality of a specific Microsoft technology. The MCTS certification is tied to the end-of-life for Mainstream Support the product itself. You can show your depth of knowledge in one specific technology, earn multiple MCTS certifications to show breadth across different products, or build on the MCTS to earn a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification

14. CCENT® - Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician - $74,764

Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) validates the ability to install, operate, and troubleshoot a small enterprise branch network, including basic network security. With a CCENT, network professional demonstrates the skills required for entry-level network support positions - the starting point for many successful careers in networking. The curriculum covers networking fundamentals, WAN technologies, basic security and wireless concepts, routing and switching fundamentals, and configuring simple networks. CCENT is the first step toward achieving CCNA, which covers medium-size enterprise branch networks with more complex connections.

15. CompTIA Network+ - $71,207

CompTIA certifications are international, vendor-neutral certifications that validate a candidate's knowledge of a specific field. The CompTIA Network+ certification demonstrates the professional qualifications of a networking professional. The Network+ exam covers installation and configuration, media and topologies, management, and security. The CompTIA Network+ certification is accredited by the ISO and ANSI.The CompTIA Network+ certification may be kept current through the CompTIA Continuing Education program.


Having a certification does not mean you will walk into one of these higher paying jobs. It is certification and experience that will count. There was a time when, if you had a certification, you were reasonably assured of getting a job. Now it is more of a disqualifier - not having a certification means you may not even get an interview.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wireless Implant Meters Drug Doses

  • Smart medical implants can now dispense drugs into the bloodstream as a result of wireless signals sent to it from the doctor's office.A thumbnail-sized microchip containing multiple drug reservoirs has now passed clinical trials in which a wireless signal was used to release precise daily doses, instead of requiring patients to inject themselves with the drug. The technology could help patients who require frequent or daily injections.
    Studies have shown that many medical patients do not take their meds on schedule, especially when they are feeling good and think they no longer need them. Unfortunately, many drugs today need to be taken regularly and in precise doses in order to maintain their long-term therapeutic effect. As a result, many new technologies are being tried that prompt the patient, via email or telephone reminders, to administer the drug themselves. Others have tried using smart pills to wirelessly notify the doctor when a specific drug has been taken.

    MicroCHIPS has developed an implantable medical device which allows repeated wireless drug delivery in lieu of injections. (Photo courtesy of M. Scott Brauer)
    The new approach that has just passed clinical trials in Denmark uses a smart microchip implant that stores daily doses of drugs, then automatically dispenses them in response to a wireless signal sent by the attending physician on the Medical Implant Communication Service (MICS, frequencies band between 401- and 406-MHz). As a result, patients can receive regular, precise doses of their medicines in perfect compliance with their doctor's instructions.
    "It can be very difficult to get patients to accept a drug regimen where they have to give themselves injections," said MIT professor Michael Cima. "This avoids the compliance issue completely, and points to a future where you have fully automated drug regimens."
    The smart implant is manufactured by MicroChips Inc. under a license from MIT where Cima and fellow professor Robert Langer have been developing the idea for several years. Now that the clinical trials have been successful, the company is increasing the number of doses each chip contains as well as creating a variety of different sized reservoirs so that all the different drugs a patient takes can be held by a single smart implant.
    "You can deliver multiple drugs [using] remote control," said Langer. "You could literally have a pharmacy on a chip."
    The successful clinical trials showed no adverse side effects, but in fact showed a significant improvement in the accuracy and timing of the doses given, compared to depending on patients to administer the drugs themselves. The trials administered a drug for osteoporosis, but any patient with chronic diseases, regular pain-management, or other drugs that need to be taken daily could benefit from the implant.
    The smart implant can be injected under the skin in the doctor's office in about 30 minutes using a local anesthetic and lasts about four months before needing to be replaced. Each dose is held in a reservoir capped with platinum/titanium which melts when it receives a signal using the MICS wireless network protocol. The test chips only held 20 doses, but the production models now in development will hold hundreds of doses. Eventually MicroChips plans to develop even smarter models that can administer drugs in response to on-chip sensors, such as a glucose sensor for diabetics.

Friday, February 17, 2012

"Janitor satellite" made to clean up space junk

 CleanSpace One, a prototype for a family of satellites specially designed to clean up space debris, chases its target in this illustration provided by the Swiss Space Center of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) Feb. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/HO/T EPFL/Swiss Space Center)

GENEVA - The tidy Swiss want to clean up space.
Swiss scientists said Wednesday they plan to launch a "janitor satellite" specially designed to get rid of space junk, the orbiting debris that can do serious and costly damage to valuable satellites or even manned space ships.
The 10-million-franc ($11-million) satellite called CleanSpace One — the prototype for a family of such satellites — is being built by the Swiss Space Center at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne, or EPFL.
Its launch would come within three to five years and its first tasks will be to grab two Swiss satellites that were launched in 2009 and 2010 but will be phased out of use, EPFL said.

The U.S. space agency NASA says over 500,000 pieces of spent rocket stages, broken satellites and other debris are orbiting Earth. The debris travels at speeds approaching 17,500 miles per hour, fast enough to destroy or inflict expensive and time-draining damage on a satellite or spacecraft. Collisions, in turn, generate more fragments floating in space.
Space junk has collided with satellites at least twice: In 1996, a French satellite was damaged by a rocket fragment, and in 2009, a satellite owned by U.S.-based Iridium Communications was destroyed in a collision with a derelict Russian satellite.
"It has become essential to be aware of the existence of this debris and the risks that are run by its proliferation," said Claude Nicollier, an astronaut and EPFL professor.
Building the satellite means developing new technology to address three big problems, scientists say.
The first hurdle has to do with trajectory: The satellite has to be able to adjust its path to match that of its target. EPFL said its labs are looking into a new ultra-compact motor that can do this.
Next, the satellite has to be able to grab hold of and stabilize the debris at high speeds. Scientists are studying how plants and animals grip things as a model for what would be used.
And, finally, CleanSpace One then has to be able to guide the debris, or unwanted satellites, back into Earth's atmosphere, where both the Swiss-made satellite and the floating garbage it collects would burn on re-entry.
The Swiss Space Center's director, Volker Gass, said it hopes to someday "offer and sell a whole family of ready-made systems, designed as sustainably as possible, that are able to de-orbit several different kinds of satellites."
It remains to be seen how cost-effective the satellites are since each one would be destroyed after its mission, but governments might provide some funding if governments agree to rules to limit debris.
In 2007, China purposely destroyed one of its own satellites with a missile in a test, putting an estimated 150,000 smaller pieces of debris into space and 3,000 big enough to be tracked by radar on the ground.
More recently, Russia's $170 million planned Mars moon probe got stranded in Earth's orbit after its Nov. 9 launch. Efforts by Russian and European Space Agency experts to bring it back to life failed. It was one of the heaviest and most toxic pieces of space junk ever to crash to Earth.
There have been no reports of anyone ever being hit by it on Earth, but the problem it poses has slowly gained traction in political circles in the decades since the space age began more than a half-century ago.
The European Union has proposed its own draft rules for operating in space and the United States views that document as a starting point.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned last month of the space environment is threatened by space junk, and said the U.S. will hold talks with the EU to set informal rules aimed at limiting debris.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hard drive prices to remain high through 2014

Inventories won't be back to normal until later this year

Lucas Mearian

While hard disk drive (HDD) supplies are starting to resurge, inventories will not be back to normal until the third quarter of this year and prices will remain unusually high through 2014, according to market research firms IHS iSuppli and Coughlin Associates.
As a result of flooding in Thailand last year, HDD prices will likely increase 20% to 30% over their average pre-flood prices and remain there through most of 2012, Coughlin Associates said in its report today (download PDF).
Additionally, the hard drive manufacturing industry will have to spend about $1 billion to replace and repair manufacturing plants damaged by the monsoonal flooding.
HDD supplies in the fourth quarter of 2011 fell by 26% compared to the same period in 2010, according to IHS iSuppli. Shipments are set to decline by another 13% in the first quarter of 2012 and by 5% in the second quarter on an annual basis.
The average global selling price for HDDs soared by 28% in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to IHS iSuppli. While prices will decline by 3% in the first quarter and by 9% in the second quarter, they will remain inflated for the whole year.
"Prices will remain high for a number of reasons, including the higher costs associated with the relocation of production, as well as higher component costs because of flooding impacts among component makers," said Fang Zhang, a storage analyst for IHS iSuppli.
PC prices will also be affected because system makers have signed annual contacts with HDD makers that have locked them into elevated pricing deals for the rest of the year, Zhang noted.
Additionally, industry HDD consolidation could hold prices higher than pre-flood levels for a few more quarters because there are fewer competitors in the market, IHS iSuppli said. It was referring to mergers between Seagate and Samsung and between Western Digital and Hitachi GST.
In a report released Friday, iSuppli predicted the Thailand flooding will continue to have an impact on inventory and prices until shipments rise first by 2% in the third quarter, followed by a 42% surge in the fourth quarter of 2012.
"The recovery of global HDD manufacturing has begun and will continue during each quarter of 2012," Zhang said. "HDD prices will remain inflated and inventories will continue to be depleted, showing that demand is exceeding supply. Supply and demand should return to balance by the end of the third quarter."
Coughlin Associates said the combination of industry consolidation and Thailand-related shortages, will result in higher HDD prices at least until 2014. The higher prices, however, will help fund expensive new technology transitions by 2015 or 2016 and increase areal density growth rates by 40%.
The annual rate at which hard disk drive areal densities increase has slowed in recent years, Coughlin Associates said.
However, drive capacities continue to grow due to technology advancements such as Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR). While hard drive areal density growth has slowed, storage capacities continue to rise: 3.5-in. HDDs with storage capacities of 12TB and 2.5-in. HDDs with 6 B are expected by 2016.
Because of slower areal density growth, user companies will have to spend more per gigabyte of drive capacity over the next two years. The average hard drive capital equipment spending per year between 2008 and 2016 is estimated at about 7.2% of hard drive industry reven

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Four crazy tech ideas from Google's Solve for X project

Google X Project: Wearable computers, life-saving MMOGs and more!

By Brad Reed

Google promised radical technology proposals would be a part of its Solve for X project, and its initial offerings so far haven't disappointed.
BACKGROUND: Google piques interest with Solve for X video, website
ANALYSIS: Google Labs' greatest non-hits
In a series of lectures about radical new technology posted on the Google Solve for X page, several entrepreneurs and academics have outlined ideas for technology that seemingly come straight out of science fiction movies. While not all of these technologies are anywhere close to becoming a reality anytime soon, companies and universities are doing the basic research and laying the groundwork for what could be some amazing technological breakthroughs in the years to come. In this article, we'll run down the five craziest, most far-out technology proposals outlined on Solve for X so far and hopefully give you some insight into the future of high-end technology.
One: Computerized contact lenses
This is one of the most straight-up sci-fi technologies being showcased at Solve for X so far but sadly it's also likely the farthest away from coming to fruition. Babak Parviz, a McMorrow associate professor of innovation at the University of Washington who specializes in nanotechnology and micro systems, made the case that we could someday wear contact lenses that could double as personal computer display screens in the future although he declined to speculate on when, exactly, such technology would be mature enough for use.
At the moment Parviz is researching ways to create contact lenses that have sensors capable of using the eye as a portal for health care monitoring. The reason that contact lenses could be ideal for monitoring patients' health, he says, is that they are relatively nonintrusive compared with implanted devices and because they can gather vital health data from tear drops that contain mean of the same essential components as a drop of blood.
So, OK, that's all well and good but what about transforming our contact lenses into augmented reality machines so we can play "Skyrim" while we're walking down the street? Parviz imagines that we'll eventually be able to shrink down technology to the point where we'll be able to include wireless data connectivity into the lenses along with RF energy transfer antennae, display drive circuits and a semi-transparent display that will give us instant data to fill us in on just what we're looking at. So if we're talking through the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, for example, and we want to know a specific species of tree, our contact lenses could take one look at the tree, cross-reference it with other pictures on the web and then display the tree's Wikipedia page right in front of our eyes.

Well, in theory at least. As mentioned before, these super contact lenses aren't close to becoming a reality. But while they may not go on sale in the next year, Parviz is optimistic that they're coming.
"With miniaturization technology we can pack a lot of optical devices in a contact lens and help people see in a different way," he says during his Solve for X lecture.

Two: Unlimited water for everyone
Rob McGinnis, the cofounder and CTO of resource recovery technology company Oasys, has made it his life's goal to figure out how to desalinate water without simultaneously plundering the planet.
The problem, as he sees it, is that desalination simply requires too much heat and thus is not an efficient way to change salt water into fresh water on a mass scale since it typically involves boiling the water until it becomes steam, thus leaving the salt behind it. But what if instead of turning the water into steam we could turn the salt into steam?
McGinnis figures he's found a way to do just that by adding ammonium and carbon dioxide into the water to create osmotic pressure that will draw pure water into a draw solution.
Wait, what did I just say? OK, picture this: You have two chambers filled with different kinds of water that are separated by a membrane that acts as a filter. On the one side you have standard salt water while on the other side you have water with ammonium and carbon dioxide added. The osmotic pressure exerted by the ammonium and carbon dioxide will draw the water through the membrane while leaving the salt behind.
"But wait!" you say. "Doesn't adding ammonium and carbon dioxide to water like that just make more salts?" Well yes, but as McGinnis tells it, those salts can be boiled out of the water at relatively low temperatures so you wouldn't need to use all the energy that you typically use during desalination.
Whether this idea catches on is anyone's guess but we have to admit it's extremely cool and could provide nearly limitless fresh water if it's implemented successfully.

THREE: Wearable computers
We all love our computers but we'd never be silly enough to try wearing them in lieu of clothes. Unless, of course, we could make clothes that acted as computers...
So that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it's something that Kevin Dowling, the vice president of research and development at MC10, wants to work toward. During his Solve for X talk, Dowling outlined ways to make silicon bendy and, yes, even stretchy.
"Using MEMS, or microelectronic mechanical systems, that have been used for accelerometers, you can etch silicon in a variety of ways and actually create flexible silicon nano-ribbons," he explains. "Now you're able to do devices that can strain and stretch in significant amounts."
These flexible devices can be used in ways that current devices can't, such as implantable devices that will now be able to bend more to the shapes and contours of our bodies or sensors that can conform to our bodies' outer ridges and valleys to provide more accurate body scans. So as crazy as it sounds, we may soon have computers that can be folded up like paper or slung around our necks like scarves.
"Silicon by itself is a lot like glass, it's very brittle, very rigid," says Dowling. "But if you can make anything thin enough, whether it's a two-by-four that eventually becomes a piece of paper, you can make it thin enough so that it can be bent."

Four: Massive multiplayer online games that cure cancer
While the massive multiplayer online games that Adrien Treuille has helped develop as an assistant professor of computer science and robotics at Carnegie Mellon may not sound as initially exciting as World of Warcraft, they could have real-world consequences.
Treuille has helped the Center of Game Science at the University of Washington develop a game called Foldit that essentially crowd sources protein-folding puzzles that will be used to determine the proper structures of proteins to accurately predict how they'll react to certain drugs or treatments. As the game's website puts it, "The number of different ways even a small protein can fold is astronomical because there are so many degrees of freedom" and thus "figuring out which of the many, many possible structures is the best one is regarded as one of the hardest problems in biology today."
Treuille explains that while scientists used to rely upon supercomputers to create model proteins for folding, technology has advanced now to such an extent that the computing can be done on a user's home desktop.
"The proteins you see aren't being folded by a supercomputer, it's being folded by an 11-year-old boy," Treuille says during his Solve for X demonstration of the game.
Once users have folded proteins to what they feel is a satisfactory extent, they can submit them to be graded and scored on how effective they are. The game has even started sending money to users based on their scores, thus giving them an incentive to take the game seriously and really put a lot of thought into the ways they fold proteins.
Treuille sees this as a future model of knowledge acquisition where millions of people around the world can try to solve problems in a collaborative manner without needing access to vast corporate or academic resources to get the job done.
"The platform I'm imagining in the future is a platform that will allow us to identify expertise in large groups of people across the Internet," he explains. "It will enable people to discover skills and let them contribute much more deeply and richly than is possible today."

Thursday, February 02, 2012

How to keep a pulse on you career market place

Great video on proper use of networking.  This is what we must perform with BDPA Detroit members and the Detroit IT  community.

HTC Android phones can leak Wi-Fi passwords

Exposed 802.1X credentials can be picked off by rogue applications

A group of HTC Android phones is susceptible to an exploit that can steal Wi-Fi credentials and passwords and send them to attackers.
The exploit relies on attackers creating rogue applications to take advantage of vulnerabilities in the Android build HTC uses on some of its phones, according to a post by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT).
Users with affected phones should go to HTC's support site for software updates, US-CERT says.

TIPS: Tricks for upgrading your Android phone

The affected Android builds expose 802.1X passwords to applications on the phones that have permission to access the Wi-Fi state of the phone. The flaw doesn't allow access to the 802.1X settings themselves, it does allow viewing Wi-Fi credentials, according to a description of the flaw at the My War With Entropy blog by Bret Jordan.
So an application could gain access to stored SSIDs of Wi-Fi networks, user names and passwords. If the application also has Internet-access privileges, it could send along the stolen credentials to attackers.
If the stolen credentials are for corporate networks, they could be used to target data on those business networks, Jordan writes.
According to US-CERT, affected phones are:
• Desire HD (both "ace" and "spade" board revisions) - Versions FRG83D, GRI40
• Glacier - Version FRG83
• Droid Incredible - Version FRF91
• Thunderbolt 4G - Version FRG83D
• Sensation Z710e - Version GRI40
• Sensation 4G - Version GRI40
• Desire S - Version GRI40
• EVO 3D - Version GRI40
• EVO 4G - Version GRI40
HTC and Google were told about the flaw last September and have been working to fix the problem and arrange for public disclosure. Jordan describes the companies as responsive and good to work with

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Social Media Conquering Ebooks

  • Annotating ebooks--that is sharing notes in the margins with other readers of the same book--is poised to be the next ubiquitous use of social media.Social media in the form of ubiquitous user-generated product reviews, where people who have bought and used a product previously can alert new buyers to their experiences with the product, are something that in pre-Internet days had to be obtained from a publication like "Consumer Reports. "
    Now, it looks like the next ubiquitous social media success will be the ability to share notes in the margins with other ebook readers. These clickable threads alongside highlighted text in any ebook could become the next big win for social media. And some see the messages as being especially useful for young readers, including students who want to share their notes with their classmates.

    In this popular novel, "The Game of Thrones" by George R. R. Martin, a highlighted passage (left) reads "dead men sing no songs" to which Garcia (top right) recounts a similar passage "songs the dead men sing" and Morbus (bottom right) adds "dead men tell no tales."  
    Students have long had to get together in libraries or dorm rooms to share their notes and questions about specific reading assignments. With ebooks-based textbooks, students will see icons in the margins from their classmates as they read an assignment. When clicked, these icons reveal threaded comments from the other students, the teacher and anyone else who has read the ebook. Even in novels, icons can be left by other readers--hopefully not giving away the plot.
    Readers who add margin notes in books can also add links to relevant Websites, online reports, discussion groups, audio, photos and videos. The threaded comment format makes it easy for readers to trace the train of thought of comments and insert their own at just the right spots.
    The brainchild of social networking for ebooks was Subtext Media Inc., which recently raised $3 million from investors led by Google Ventures. Subtext Media plans to allow user-generated commentaries to be shared across platforms.
    "We want to help everyone get more out of--and put more into--their books," said Andrew Goldman, CEO of Subtext. "Our goal is nothing less than to transform the way people read."
    Subtext recently released its first iPad application and 18 demonstration books in the Apple Store with margin comments already inserted by the books’ authors, giving behind-the-scenes facts and revealing secrets about the writing of their books. Subtext also announced that it had struck a deal with Google Books to integrate its social media with all the books in the Google eBookstore.