The President's Message

January 2011

Rick Curry

Happy New Year! Congratulations to all of you who are still sticking by your resolutions.

Our new year has brought us a new contract with our landlords, the Boys & Girls Club. It has a new president (much as our club will be receiving -- sign up soon!) I was able to negotiate for the same rent as last year. In reading over the contract, the only significant impact on our activities is that we have agreed to be responsible for any stains made to the carpeted areas due to the spillage of dark liquids (that would be mostly coffee for us, although I bring in a soda sometimes). We are asking our members to honor the request that we enjoy our coffee (and soda) where it is not carpeted.

2011 may prove to be an interesting year in technology - the clouds are the limit. VMWare is talking about a product that allows them to move a running process from machine to machine in the middle of a transaction. It is more limited than it sounds when you read the details, and it can be made to work only if the machines are very close to each other. What it does provide is flexible banks of computers to do the work, and while some of the marketing is new, the technology has been around since 2009 (mature technology for computers).

In other technology news, the term "Butt Dialing"B (the art of telephoning family and friends by sitting on or otherwise accidentally activating a smart phone) may have permanently entered our lexicon when a public school employee, playing hip-hop music while working, resulted in a SWAT team deployment. His spouse, hearing the excited yelling of the music, thought her husband had been abducted.

Privacy rights just received a setback when the California Supreme Court ruled that a cell phone was no more private than a Post-it Note and that no warrant is necessary to peruse the phone. This will almost certainly apply to less complicated devices. Have you checked the maximum speed logged by your GPS lately?

This year Facebook promises to be a good investment (in perhaps another setback to privacy). Goldman-Sachs was besieged by takers when it offered up some of its Facebook holdings to wealthy investors.

Anid in my final story along the privacy theme, the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, had its plans for an inovative spy drone program cut short when one of them was captured in Saudi Arabia. The Israeli spy drone was a vulture, so technically it was arrested as a spy.

Things do not look as wornderful in the new year for Adobe. Its latest sandbox solution for security issues has already been hacked in an exploit. Adobe is classifying this as a moderate threat. As any prior use of Dbase will recall, no market position is guaranteed. If your product is bad enough or long enough you will be replaced.

And things do not look good for XP in 2011. Microsoft continues support for the product, but when a vulnerability was discovered late last year that would allow hackers to completely control a victim's PC, it was not deemed important enough to issue a patch outside of the regular cycle (and it is not even obvious it will be patched by the time of the next cycle Jan.11). Microsoft did not officially acknowledge the problem until this year, a couple of weeks after it was reported. It may only be a coincidence that Vista and Win 7 are immune to this vulnerability, but certainly XP will not get the attebtion that the newer operating systes will receive. God news for the Windows 7 early adopters!

And in good news for us, bad news for spammers, Google has worked out a way of reducing false-positive spam tests (le-mail that is not spam, but spam detectors will likely think it is sam). It is called DKIM or DomainKeys Identified Mail, but what is new is that Google is packaging and providing it to customers for free. If it reduces false-positives,it allows for stronger spam filters.

Happy Computing