Word of the Day: Tech Definitions from WhatIs.com

December 30, 2007  1:06 AM

Overheard: Technically speaking, I apologize

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
The nice thing about the New Year is getting to start over again. This will be the year when I stay on top of my inbox, am able to recover lost data in a snap, experience smooth upgrades and data migrations, think green and make smart hardware purchases. Sure, I may have screwed up in 2007 — but I’ve got a clean slate ahead in 2008.

On that note, here’s to all this year’s screwups — and the people who stepped up to the plate, accepted responsibility and apologized. Happy New Year!

1. Comcast
Comcast apologized for providing a Washington D.C. customer with an “unsatisfactory customer experience” when one of the company’s technicians fell asleep on the customer’s couch.
2. Michael Callahan
Yahoo executive VP and general counsel apologized for failing to inform the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the full circumstances under which Yahoo gave the Chinese government information about a specific user. The user happened to be a reporter.
3. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce issues several apologies this year, including one for repeatedly sending confidential faxes to a U.S. junkyard.
4. Sun Microsystems
Sun apologized for dissing its resellers after it promised massive discounts to customers using Sun’s own direct-sales site.
5. Sony
I don’t recall reading about any other company having to apologize for topless women at a party, slain goats or defiling a cathedral.
6. David Maynor
Hacker David Maynor apologized for not disclosing vulnerabilities to Apple before his public demonstration at last summer’s Black Hat conference.
7. Steve Jobs
When the price of an iPhone was slashed $200 in September, Steve Jobs apologized to all those people who camped out in June waiting for the initial (more expense) release.
8. Microsoft
Barry Goffe, Director Windows Vista Ultimate, apologized for not delivering the remaining Vista Ultimate Extras.
9. Verizon
Verizon apologized for violating free speech by blocking a pro-choice group from using one of it’s text messaging programs.
10. Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg apologized for mistakes in the design and deployment of Beacon, an application that was supposed to let a Web site’s customers share purchases with their Facebook friends.
11. TJX
The CEO for Marshalls and TJ Maxx apologized for allowing credit data to be stolen from 45 million customers.
12. Prime Minister Gordon Brown
British PM Gordon Brown apologized for his government losing disks that contained sensitive data about 25 million British adults and children.
13. Steve Rubel
Blogger Stevel Rubel apologized to everyone at Ziff Davis Media for announcing on Twitter that he gets a free subscription to PC Magazine but throws it in the trash.
14. Facebook
Facebook apologized to a British member of Parliament for not believing a politician could have a lot of friends.
15. Intel
Intel apologized for a print ad featuring six male sprinters of color and a white guy wearing chinos. The ad was deemed racist but not sexist. Go figure.
16. RIM, 365 Main, Skype and Rackspace
RIM and Skype were among the many providers that apologized for outages this year.
17. Apple
Apple apologized to a third-grader and her mom for sending a less-than-gracious reply to the child’s first business letter.
18. Stephen Heller
Temp worker Stephen Heller apologized to Diebold for stealing 500 confidential memos and turning them over to the Oakland Press.
19. AMD
AMD apologized to investors for the company’s poor financial performance.
20. Yahoo
Yahoo apologized to bloggers in India for stealing recipes.

December 28, 2007  2:11 AM

Overheard: Quantum computing

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
cat.gif “The fundamental unit of information in quantum computing (called a quantum bit or qubit), is not binary but rather more quaternary in nature, which differs radically from the laws of classical physics.”

Casey Kazan, The Quantum Future of Computing

A qubit can exist not only in a state corresponding to the logical state 0 or 1 as in a classical bit, but also in states corresponding to a blend or superposition of these classical states. In other words, a qubit can exist as a zero, a one, or simultaneously as both 0 and 1, with a numerical coefficient representing the probability for each state. This may seem counterintuitive because everyday phenomenon are governed by classical Newtonian physics, not quantum mechanics — which takes over at the atomic level.

Good explanation of quantum computing here from Cosmos Magazine.

December 27, 2007  12:56 AM

Overheard: Chaos theory, Google and the weather

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
gregrae.jpg “Many scientists believe that twentieth century science will be known for only three theories: relativity, quantum mechanics, and chaos.”

Greg Rae, Chaos Theory: A Brief Introduction

I moved to Mountain View, after finding employment at Google. I analyze the logs. That might not sound like much, until you realize that we got tens of gigabytes of logs. Every day. Not many people get to deal with the intricacies of dealing with terabytes of data. (Greg Rae)

December 26, 2007  8:14 PM

Quiz: Who’s sorry now? Apologies from 2007

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.”
Tryon Edwards

1. In 2007, Comcast apologized for:
a. unsatisfactory customer service
b. favoring conservative news shows in their programming lineup

2. Sony apologized for:
a. a humanoid robot that made obscene gestures to museum visitors
b. a freshly-slain goat centerpiece at a Greek orgy

3. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce apologized for:
a. repeatedly sending faxes with sensitive customer data to a U.S. junkyard
b. issuing Canadian Tire Money (cash coupons) instead of legal tender

4. Apple apologized for:
a. making a third-grader run to her room and slam the door
b. making iPhone customers have to use AT&T

5. Intel apologized for a print ad featuring six sprinters because:
a. the ad was considered to be racist
b. the ad infringed upon Sprint Nextel’s brand

6. Verizon apologized for:
a. inappropriately blocking free speech in text messaging
b. failing to hire anyone over the age of 40 for their TV commercials

7. Mark Zuckerberg apologized for:
a. mistakes in the design and deployment of a Facebook application
b. failing to protect Facebook member’s privacy

8. David Maynor apologized for:
a. hacking into the Mac OS X 10.4.6 operating system to demonstrate security holes
b. not telling Apple that he knew there were security holes

9. The CEO of TJX (TJ Maxx and Marshalls) apologized for:
a. using faulty third-party software for gift cards
b. the biggest data breach in history

10. Skype apologized for:
a. a major outage that left 220 million users unable to make VoIP phone calls
b. a software glitch that caused 220 million users to hear echos when they talked on the phone

December 26, 2007  2:08 PM

Overheard: Computing at the speed of light

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
lightening_006.jpg “Computers that operate at the speed of light have come a step closer. Researchers have devised a light-based transistor made of semiconducting nanowires that could be a key building block of machines that are hundreds of times faster than today’s supercomputers.”

Saswato Das, Speed-of-light computing comes a step closer

December 24, 2007  11:13 AM

Overheard: Why NORAD started tracking Santa back in 1955

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
santa.jpg “It was more than half a century ago, on Christmas Eve in 1955, that a Sears Roebuck & Co. store in Colorado Springs advertised a special hotline number for kids to call Santa.What the company didn’t know at the time was that they had inadvertently misprinted the telephone number.

Instead of Santa’s workshop, the phone number put kids through to NORAD…Worse, it wasn’t just any number at NORAD: it was the commander-in-chief’s operations hotline.”

Carrie Farrell, Tracking Santa, then and now

This is a great story — Carrie’s grandfather was the commander-in-chief who got the calls. To get directions for how to follow Santa this year using Google Earth, follow Carrie’s link above.

December 23, 2007  1:40 AM

Overheard: When the big box from HP arrived, it was like Christmas

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
kyle_rankin.jpg “Whenever I get to open up brand-new cutting-edge gear, it feels a little like Christmas for me. The crinkle of plastic, that crisp electronics smell, the unscratched metal–it’s a data center manager holiday. So, last December, when I started the installation of thirty-two blade servers in our new facility it was Christmas morning all over again.”

Kyle Rankin, No assembly required: How I lost two days in the data center

I’m hoping for a little box from HP this year.

December 21, 2007  4:27 PM

Overheard: December buzzword quiz

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

1. What is SimpleDB?

2. What is extrusion prevention?

3. What is hardware virtualization?

4. What is a Knol?

5. What is Brook’s Law?

6. What is the main purpose of HTML5?

7. What is frequency hopping used for?

8. What is a fuzz test?
9. What is IT?

10. What is IT?

December 21, 2007  2:11 AM

Overheard: Let’s all declare email bankruptcy and start over January 1

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
anne-zelenka.jpg Did you ever wish you could delete all your email without responding? Maybe you can. It’s called email bankruptcy. You realize you are never going to dig yourself out from under the pile of email in your inbox so you just declare that you won’t. You start afresh.

Anne Zelenka, Before You Declare Email Bankruptcy…

I got another notification this morning that my mailbox is over its limit. Geesh. One of the best Facebook wall posts I read this year was from a developer at Microsoft who said that his mailbox is so out of control that he just periodically wipes everything out and just starts again — and if I wanted directions for how to do that, to email him. 🙂

December 20, 2007  11:00 PM

Overheard: Extrusion prevention? Worst tech term of the year

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
eileen_kennedy.jpg Everyone is familiar with intrusion prevention — the security technology. But now we have extrusion prevention. Data leak prevention or outbound content filtering would better describe it.

Eileen Kennedy, 2007: These buzzwords made our eyes and ears burn

At first I thought Eileen was kidding. There couldn’t possibly be an IT word called “extrusion prevention” could there? But then I Googled it and sure enough, there’s not only tons of vendors out there pushing products for extrusion prevention — there’s also tons of stuff for extrusion detection.

How did I miss this word? And what guy made it up?  It had to be a guy. Yuck.

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