Monday, July 7, 2014

What To Do When You Get a SPAM Text Message

I've been getting these daily it seems. The Federal Trade Commission has a set of guidelines you can use. Here's FTC recommendations on what to do when you get a spam text message:
  • Delete any texts asking you to confirm or provide personal information. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information like account numbers or passwords by text or email.
  • Don’t reply, and don’t click on links provided in the message. Links can install malware and take you to spoof sites that look real but whose purpose is to steal your information.
  • Don’t give out any personal information in response to a text. A spammer wants access to your Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank and utility account numbers to open new accounts in your name.  
  • Report spam texts to your carrier. AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint or Bell subscribers can copy the original text and forward it to 7726 (SPAM), free of charge.
  • Review your cell phone bill for unauthorized charges.Report them to your carrier.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Storage Tiering

This is another topic I’ve been reading a lot about lately.  Storage tiering uses expensive faster access drives for frequently used data and slower less expensive  access drives for older archive type data. 

Typical fastest level tiers in a data center will use an optically connected fiber channel disk array, followed by Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) attached drives, followed by Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) drives followed sometime even by tape drives. Tape drives – I know – but yes they are still used - typically to take content completely offline and store.

Mechanical drives have been historically used for the fastest tier but as prices drop and operating systems include better support , we’re seeing a lot of much faster solid state memory devices (solid-state drives (SSDs) and I/O accelerator cards (sometimes referred to as solid-state accelerators [SSAs]) used for the faster level  tiers now.

What’s the difference between a SSD and an SSA? They both basically do the same thing – the only difference is the data interface. 
  • SSD’s look like a mechanical hard drive and the server operating system uses standard BIOS calls to access. 
  • SSA’s are a little different and use a PCI Express (PCIe) interfaceThe operating system must use a unique set of software drivers specific to the SSA device being used. 
Because SSA’s use drivers that have been tuned specific to the device, they tend to be a little faster. Both SSD and SSA devices can work together on the same server.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Calculating Wavelength If Frequency Is Known

I get this question a lot. It’s not exactly phrased this way though. Typically it’s along the lines of “What’s the wavelength of the WiFi signals in my home or office?

Good question and a pretty simple calculation! I do realize with a quick Google search you can look the value up but….. that takes the fun out of it J

First, let’s define wavelength. Electromagnetic radiation is sinusoidal in nature and wavelength, represented by the Greek letter lambda (λ), is a distance measurement usually expressed in meters. Wavelength is defined as the distance in meters of one sinusoidal cycle as illustrated in the figure below.

Most WiFi signals run at around 2.4 Giga Hertz (GHz) or 2.4 Billion cycles per second!

Now, in you home or office, you’ve likely got a lot of other wireless devices (microwave, ovens, cordless phones, baby monitors, etc) operating in this same 2.4 GHz frequency range. In the WiFi world, the 2.4 GHz WiFi signal range is divided into 11 channels and channels can be selected when setting up a wireless network to avoid other devices transmitting in the same frequency range.

Ok – back to our question – what’s the wavelength? Here’s how we do the calculation:
12.5 cm is approximately 4.92 inches and...... that's your wavelength.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cloud Computing Closer Look - Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas)

Let’s take a quick closer look at cloud computing today starting with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). IaaS is one of the three main categories of cloud computing services. The other two are Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) – we’ll cover the last two in later posts.

So, basically an organization (larger or small) outsources equipment (hardware) that can include servers, routers, switches, storage, backup, etc. The service provider handles all of the maintenance, updating, connectivity, etc and the client pays on a per-use basis. Some of the common IaaS components include:
  • Billing.
  • Automation of administrative tasks.
  • Dynamic scaling.
  • Desktop virtualization.
  • Policy-based services.
  • Internet connectivity.
IaaS is a cost effective option, especially for small companies that do not want to invest directly in hardware and staff to maintain it. That’s why it is sometimes (and perhaps more accurately) referred to as Hardware as a Service (HaaS).

Who are the big IaaS service providers? Today it’s Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Security has always been a concern when it comes to cloud-based processes and there are a number of smaller enterprise level companies involved including Adallom, Alert Logic, FireBlade, FortyCloud, HyTrust, Imperva, JumpCloud, and Porticor.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Rise Of The HetNet

I’m starting to see the term HetNet used in my reading and even had a student ask me for details this morning. That said – I figured it would make a good blog post.

HetNet is short for Heterogeneous Network and is a term currently being used in the wireless world. Most of us are carrying around smartphones with a number of different antennas built in for access via different network technologies. The neat thing about HetNets is they are able to maintain mobile connectivity (no dropped connections) when switching between different wireless connection technologies. 

The three different connection technologies getting all the HetNet buzz right now are LTE, Carrier WiFi, and enterprise femtocells. LTE is 4G cellular service and Carrier WiFi is just WiFi service provided by a wireless carrier. Femtocells are small cell devices that are connected to an Internet broadband connection. 

So HetNets allow a user device to seamlessly switch from network type to network type– LTE to WiFi to femtocell and vice-versa back and forth without dropping a connection. Pretty neat.

Now, not too long ago, it was believed LTE would be the dominant mobile technology and there would not be a need to alternative type technologies like Carrier WiFi and femotocells. But think about it…… there is only a limited amount of spectrum and bandwidth so providers are looking for ways to lower the number of devices per cell. There are also advantages to having users as close as possible to the different types of base stations. 

As a result, we’re seeing providers like Verizon Wireless and AT&T use HetNets to improve the coverage of their network, increase network capacity to match user demand. enhance the user experience, and lower the cost of delivering mobile broadband services.

Friday, December 13, 2013

On The Road With A Powerocks Magicstick Extended Battery

Highly Recommended
Just back from a quickie business trip – my first with a Powerocks Magicstick 2800 universal extended battery for my phone. When I travel I’ve always been careful about phone use just in case I need to make an emergency call, check for an important email, text etc.  I never seem to be able to find an electrical outlet when I need one. The Magicstick eliminates these worries. 

I’ve been reading Leander Kahney latest book on Jonathan Ive, the head of Industrial Design at Apple. It’s really opened my eyes to intuitive design, simplicity and absence in clutter. The Magicstick has that Jony Ive / Apple feel. It comes in a bunch of different colors (mine is black) and includes a micro-USB-to-USB cable for charging up the Magicstick and a nice little bag to keep it in. 

It’s a small (sort of reminds me of a BIC cigarette lighter at 3.5” long, and 7/8” in diameter) 2800mAh portable battery that you pre-charge using an included micro-USB-to-USB cable. When it comes time to charging the Magicstick you just plug the charging cable in and charge it up. When you want to charge your phone or other portable device you just plug the cable that came with the phone or other device into the Magicstick standard USB port. On the opposite end of the Magicstick there is a smart push-button LED that shows charge status. Blue light = 70% - 100% full, Green light = 30% - 70% full, Red light = 1% - 30% full. 

I was able to get two charges on my old iPhone 3GS (from approx. 20% to 100% and yes I still have an old iPhone) with one fully charged up Magicstick. It will charge Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, Blackberry, etc, etc, etc devices - basically anything that will charge using a USB connection.  Simple.

A nice little stocking stuffer, grab bag, office swap gift, birthday present, etc - The Captain and I give it our highest rating of 5 out of 5 Gordoccinos 

You can get more info on the Powerocks website

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Online Tracking, Consumer Profiling, Data Collection and You

Well - it's the holidays when we're using the web along with those credit cards a lot more frequently. Ever wondered who's watching you online?  And who the heck you are giving your personal card info to when making online purchases? Ever also wondered if there was anything you could do to protect yourself a little more? Well, others have too.

Abine, a Massachusetts company spun out of MIT in 2008, has developed some pretty nice tools that allow web users more control over their personal data. These accessible tools allow you to choose when you want to share your information, control your personal data, and provide the ability to protect your online privacy. Before we get to the products - here's some interesting tidbits from an Abine fact sheet:

Online tracking, consumer profiling, and data collection are happening wherever consumers go on the web, usually without their knowledge or approval. Consumers are the product being sold. Social networks, ad networks, and e-commerce sites collect every last byte of personal information they can, combining consumers’ online activity with their offline lives. The consequences of all this data collection are growing and real: lost job opportunities, higher prices, more spam, lower credit scores, identity theft, and more. Let's look at some tracking info and stats:
A tracker is a connection that your browser makes when it loads a webpage that’s intended to record, profile, or share your online activity. Usually these connections are made to entirely different companies than the website you’re actually visiting. The most common types of trackers are:
  • Javascript: 43% 
  • Images, such as 1-pixels: 14% 
  • iFrames: 14% 
  • Flash cookies: 5% 
Abine collaborates with the UC Berkeley Center for Law and Technology on a recurring Web Privacy Census. The most recent Census found:
  • The use of third-party tracking cookies on the 100 most popular websites increased by 11% from May to October 2012. 
If present trends continue, the amount of online tracking will double on about 2.5 years. 
  • Google has a presence on 712 of the top 1,000 websites 
  • 26.3% of what your browser does when you load a website is respond to requests for your personal information, leaving the remaining 73.7% for things you actually want your browser doing, like loading videos, articles, and photos.
  • Google makes 20.28% of all tracking requests on the web 
  • Facebook makes 18.84% of all tracking requests on the web 
5% of the top 1,000 websites use social networking code that can match users’ online identities with their web browsing activities, and nearly 25% of the web’s 70 most popular sites shared personal data, like name and email address, with third-party companies (Wall Street Journal, 12/2012).
So... how do you protect yourself?
Abine has just rolled out DoNotTrackMe 3.0, a browser extension that stops online trackers from finding your contact and credit card info.  Here's a DoNotTrackMe sample screen shot.

In addition, the company is giving out unlimited Masked Cards through December 26. The Masked Cards work with any credit or debit cards you have, allowing you to create disposable credit card numbers for each online purchase you make, preventing having to give out your real card info. 

The company also makes a product called MaskMe which keeps you private as you browse and shop the web, and creates and manages secure passwords and DeleteMe which removes your public profile, contact and personal info, and photos of you from leading data sites. 

Cool stuff. Check them all out.