Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cold Regions: The Future of Green On Line Computing?

Half of the energy that keeps server farms that makes cloud computing possible up and running are spent on cooling it, will locating this server farms to colder climes offer a “greener” solution?

By: Ringo Bones 

Facebook recently decided to locate their new server farms in Sweden to take advantage of the cold climate there. Given that half of the energy cost in running these server farms are spent on keeping them cool, then would locating them to a colder climate offer a more environmentally friendly solution to our increasingly energy hungry information society? 

There is now a “cold rush” so to speak for every major data firms to set-up their server farms up close to the Arctic Circle as possible to take advantage of the “free cold air” that can be used to cool down the banks of computers that keep their data up and running as a more environmentally friendly way of cooling the computer servers. Given that the regions bordering the Arctic Circle are not exactly “metropolitan” population wise, then there are not a lot of spots out there with a well-established electrical grid, after all, server farms need electricity to run before they can take advantage of the free cold air, right? 

Enter Iceland, whose abundance of geothermal energy had been harnessed to generate electricity for well over a century now could serve as a prime real estate for the coming “cold rush”. Jeff Monroe, CEO of Verne Global has since decided to locate the server farms of his data center company to take advantage of the free cold air in Iceland, not to mention the relatively low cost electricity generated with the help of the abundant and renewable geothermal energy of Iceland. And if cheap, sustainably generated electricity and distribution facilities becomes abundant way high in the Arctic Circle, then more data center companies could base their computer server farms there as a way to keep them cool in an Earth friendly manner.       

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Twitter Joining The Stock Market Floatation: Caveat Emptor?

Given that Facebook’s stock value never went higher than its initial floatation, should prospective investors exercise caution when jumping on the Twitter IPO bandwagon? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Even though Twitter’s eagerly awaited IPO / stock market floatation was announced late last Thursday, September 12, 2013, many institutional investors seem to be exercising restraint when it comes to jumping on the Twitter bandwagon after the top brass running the very popular social media site decided plans to monetize their current popularity. Maybe it was because of Facebook IPOs never regaining their initial floatation value since released over a year ago. But will Twitter buck the trend and manage to do a miracle – i.e. be a better social media site IPO than Facebook?

It may seem not that long ago that Twitter founder Jack Dorsey made his first ever Tweet back in 2006 that Twitter became the social media site of choice of alleged pathological narcissists and compulsive social media posters. Mollycoddling excuses aside, when seen for its mere advertisement revenue potential – Twitter is worth about 10 billion US dollars – about a quarter that of Facebook. And with 200 million plus users – a fifth that of Facebook – many wonder if investing in the upcoming Twitter IPO is a genuinely economically viable move. Is the Twitter source code actually worth the global servers running it?

Twitter is slated to earn over 528 million US dollars via advertisement revenue this 2013. Many see it as a better investment than Facebook due to the high profile users currently on it. As in US President Barack Obama and the rather somewhat unsavory types like disgraced NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner who Tweeted photos of his privates. But will the resulting IPO money might blunt Twitter’s edginess factor in comparison to Facebook? After all when Facebook got its IPO and tried to “proverbiably” clean up its act by strictly policing posts – i.e. putting sanctions not just on “alleged pornographic posts” but also on “controversial” political posts like Uyghur Statehood Movement posts, Free Liu Xiaobo posts, Tibetan Freedom posts, etc. Might Twitter suddenly become a proverbial “police state” like Facebook once the millions of IPO revenues comes pouring in? Oh, and don’t forget the unwanted attention Twitter might get from the world’s top criminal hackers once it gets more valuable than Facebook. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Unit 61398: The People’s Republic of China’s Cyber Warfare Center?

Even though the Beijing government denies if the unit’s involved in current cyber attacks and often finger-point to Edward Snowden and the NSA, nonetheless is the Unit 61398 Mainland China’s “cyber warfare center of operations?”

By: Ringo Bones 

The Uyghur and Tibetan Diaspora – or anyone labeled by the Beijing government as a “terrorist group” – seems to agree that Edward Snowden’s cyber-shenanigans pointing the United States’ National Security Agency resources is eavesdropping on everyone’s online data transactions is a lesser evil compared to the “Beijing 50-Cent Cyber Army” and other “Cyber-Terrorist” organizations actively sponsored by the Beijing government is that the NSA will probably never wreck your microfinance business’ database with malware. Back in February 3, 2013, Google chairman Eric Schmidt calls the People’s Republic of China an “internet menace” due to the Beijing government’s act of actively supporting home-grown top-notch cyber-criminals in order to achieve its own political and economic ends. Though the free world’s wariness of the Beijing sponsored cyber attacks had since been noted way before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, no one on this side of the “Great Firewall of China” has any idea what a top-notch Beijing government sponsored cyber warfare center looks like until February 20, 2013 when it was divulged that a certain non-descript government building in Shanghai was the nerve center of the Beijing government’s “Cyber Warfare Corps”. 

The cyber attack culprit was then traced to the Unit 61398 of the Mainland Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Look-wise, it is a non-descript looking 12-storey government building in an army base in the middle of Shanghai that is surrounded by a local run-down neighborhood that for a number of years now had launched cyber attacks on American I.T. companies with ongoing US government contracts. Western cyber security analysts still only had speculations on the structural hierarchy of the Beijing government’s “cyber warfare corps” – whether they employ civilian cyber criminals / cyber terrorists / hackers or it is mostly manned by People’s Liberation Army personnel with advanced computer skills; Though the “Comment Crew” and “Shanghai Group” had been speculated to consist mostly of the Mainland Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s elite crew of master cyber warriors. 

For a number of years now, the Obama administration had been wary of the Beijing government’s carte blanche attitude of its homegrown cyber terrorists / cyber criminals as long as these online outlaws work in maintaining Beijing’s interests. And unlike the secret eavesdropping activities since divulged by disenfranchised NSA private intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, the cyber-shenanigans done in the name of the Beijing government doesn’t just involve mere unauthorized looking into everyone’s private data but more often than not involve launching Directed Denial of Service or DDOS attacks on groups the Beijing government perceives as their “enemy” – i.e. the online computer infrastructures of Tibetan and Uyghur Diaspora living in the United States and elsewhere.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Practical Quantum Data Encryption

If at present quantum computers are still “science fiction”, can microscopic sized diamonds provide practical quantum data encryption for sensitive internet data right now using currently available technology? 

By: Ringo Bones 

The promise of ultra fast quantum computers and the benefit of ultra secure quantum encryption of sensitive computer data may be a few years away but materials scientists say they may be a way to provide quantum level encryption of computer data uploaded by users on the internet using current practical technology via the use of microscopic sized diamonds. But will such methods work? 

Recent advancements in the relatively cost competitive manufacture of gem quality microdiamonds by the thimbleful may be a way to provide current practical way to provide single photon key encryption of private messages and other sensitive data being sent on the internet or being saved on some “cloud computing site”. Diamonds possessing the desired optical properties that can process data stream a single photon at a time is the key for a practical single photon encryption / decryption method that is compatible with our current internet telecommunications infrastructure.

Using microdiamonds with a “perfect imperfection” –i.e. getting single impurity inside a microdiamond using existing laser deposition technology to provide that microdiamond the desired optical property to enable single photon key processing. This method could provide quantum level data cryptography using existing computer technology. Though still at the lab stage, microdiamonds with the requisite optical properties to perform single key encryption and decryption could easily be mounted on chips using existing chip manufacturing methods. 

Another advantage of such a scheme is that it could also perform the function of a true blue quantum computer’s ability to check and detect if encrypted data are already compromised by unauthorized hacking. If funding permits, microdiamond chips - or a microdiamond array on a chip - that enable current computers to perform quantum level encryption / decryption of sensitive data could probably be on the market as soon as five years from now – while costing the same or just a little bit more than ones already on the market today. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Catfishing: A Not So Victimless Crime?

Named after “Catfish”, an MTV in-depth report special about people using Facebook or other social media to pose as someone else, is catfishing truly a victimless crime it once believed it to be?

By: Ringo Bones

One of the most bizarre incidents I experienced first hand online was when I made my Facebook account a few years ago. Within 20 minutes or so of setting-up my Facebook account a friend request suddenly popped up because back then I genuinely believe that the “goal” of Facebook is to amass 5,000 friends in as sort amount of time so I was a bit lazy in doing the requisite background check of friend requests. It was someone whose name I now forgot using the metal band Night Ranger’s guitarist as his profile photo who – this was 20 mines into setting up my Facebook account – keep insistently asking me why I only have one photo. I responded I’m only into Facebook for a quarter of an hour or so my “new Facebook friend” started accusing me as a “fake profile”. I since unfriended and blocked the bastard, and given the recent news story of the Notre Dame football team star linebacker by the name of Manti Te’o’s “dead girlfriend hoax”, I know wonder – I am almost a victim of this so called “catfish” or “catfishing” social media / Facebook malarkey a few years ago?

Currently my Facebook friend roster sits at around the 500 mark, given the rather rigorous and draconian screening of prospective Facebook friend requests. Of the 500 or so, only about 30 of them I ever met face to face during the last few years or so – making them qualify for the “realness” category. And only two of them that I actually met when I was only a toddler back in 1975 or so. Does this mean that social media like Facebook is now so full of this “catfish” malarkey that the only criterion we have for giving the green light on Facebook friend requests is weather or not we have actually met them face to face?

Well, some of my “real” Facebook friends that I have actually met face to face – a couple of them – used to act like that “Notorious Nigerian Prince” extorting me charity money to support their causes even resorting to using “guilt tactics” if I ignore them. And I am very, very tempted to unfriend and block them this very moment. Surprisingly, there are those that I suspect to be “posers” seem to act like social media saints by only posting necessary messages on my Facebook wall. One at best can only be pragmatic when dealing the problem of fake social media profiles and catfishing on Facebook on a case-to-case basis so exercise with “caveat emptor” when selecting your prospective Facebook and other social media friends. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Africa: New Haven For Cyber Criminals?

Even though that notorious “Nigerian Prince” may be lying low for now, will Africa’s newly improved internet infrastructure make it the new haven for the world’s cyber criminals?

By: Ringo Bones

That notorious “Nigerian Prince” may have had his day of victimizing millions of unwary internet surfers during the first decade of the 21st Century cyber security experts now predict that Africa – with a now newly upgraded internet infrastructure via newly set-up fiber optic cables and power plants – could become the next haven of choice for the world’s cyber criminals. And unlike that notorious “Nigerian Prince”, those cyber criminals may not even be native residents on the African continent but more often than not are by cyber criminal syndicates based in Eastern Europe or South-East Asia that program their so-called bot-nets to hijack unsecured computers and internet hubs physically located on African soil.

The likely victim of those newly established cyber criminals using the African continent as their very own “pirate haven” will be European Union based web-surfing citizens. Given that ¾ of Europeans now use the internet as their primary way to conduct monetary-based business and commercial transactions – compared to only 1/3 of the rest of the planet, Europe’s online business transactions could be the so-called “low-lying” fruit that cyber criminals could exploit of if its online security infrastructure is not upgraded to be resistant to cyber crime.

Troels Oerting of the European Cyber Crime Center says in a recent BBC interview that Africa’s continually improving internet infrastructure now make the continent a prime home-base of choice of the world’s cyber criminals. And given that Europe is now increasingly reliant on internet based commerce, cyber crime has been costing European Union citizens and companies collectively on average 1.5 billion euros a year. The newly upgraded office of the European Cyber Crime Center or EC3 in the Hague now features a Faraday Cage shielded computer room to study how sensitive data could be hacked by cyber criminals plus other R-n’-D labs for forensic analysis of cyber crime incidences.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Death of the Desktop PC: A Completely Exaggerated Rumor?

Despite the rumors of the death of the desktop PC being “exaggerated” since the start of 2012, when was the last time you saw your computer savvy pal replacing the video-card of his tablet computer?

By: Ringo Bones

Despite of the 2012 CES Las Vegas unleashing products designed to consign the supposedly “dated” desktop PC to the dustbin of history, it seems that the rumors of the death of the desktop personal computer had been completely exaggerated for little over a year now. The latest – i.e. 2012 era – tablet computers, internet-capable smart-phones and razor-thin laptops may be the hippest must own products for every self-respecting computer-savvy “technocrat” for the whole of 2012, but have you ever seen any “computer-savvy-technocrat” replace the video-card of his or her tablet computer, razor-thin laptop or internet-connected smart-phone PC after his or her attempt at computer animation kept crashing his or her latest ultra-thin portable PC type device that he or she bought last year? Does the bigger bits – i.e. active and passive electronic components - of the old-fashioned desktop PC the “very bit” that makes it infinitely upgradable by DIY computer enthusiasts?

The last time I visit our local computer shop just 4 days before the Christmas of 2012, video-cards, the latest 2to 3-gigahertz capable multi-core central processing unit boards – in a size/dimension that can comfortably fit inside the housing of a traditional desktop PC – are still available and selling like hotcakes to prospective computer / desktop PC do-it-yourselfers. And try as I might, I never managed to find user-insert-able / user replaceable CPU boards and video boards for any 2012-era razor thin tablet and laptop PCs, never mind those for internet-connected smart-phones. Inexplicably, our local shop doesn’t even carry those external solar-photovoltaic battery chargers allegedly used by the US Navy’s SEAL Team VI’s tablet computers / smart-phones that they use during their clandestine missions even though similar solar-photovoltaic chargers where exhibited during the 2012 CES in Las Vegas.

While waiting for any of the latest computer-tech bulletins of the upcoming 2013 CES in Las Vegas, I do wonder what the top personal computer manufacturers’ roll-out this time to “allegedly” once and for all consign those good old desktop personal computers to the technological dustbin of history. If the wares they rollout are just a bit better vaporware versions of 2012’s offerings, the traditional desktop PC could get another reprieve from being consigned to the technological dustbin of history. Unless these top manufacturers manage to design nano-machines that can speed up post-manufactured tablet computers and smart-phones already in the field.