The President's Message

February 2019

by Andy Toth

Established 1987

It is nearing the end of the first month of the new year. The area finally received its first decent rainfall in years. With the rain comes an abundance of weeds that have not appeared for a long time. I wish for the rain to continue.

January's presentation on "How to Stop Worrying About Every 'Mega' Password Breach That Comes Along" by Michael Shalkey was very informative. The nutshell version: Distinct username and particularly passwords for all accounts; use a password manager; use two-factor identification; don't click that box or dancing monkey and then you've done all you can. Relax but remain diligent because the next step is putting your computer in a lead-lined vault that will be covered by 10 feet of earth. He also mentioned a word I had not heard before "PWNED." According to the Urban Dictionary: VERB, 'pwned' "A corruption of the word "Owned." This originated in an online game called Warcraft, where a map designer misspelled "owned." When the computer beat a player, it was supposed to say, so-and-so "has been owned." Instead, it said, so-and-so "has been pwned." It basically means "to own" or to be dominated by an opponent or situation, especially by some god-like or computer-like force. This word was part of a website URL where you can ascertain, independent of each other, if any of your usernames or passwords are in any of the hacked lists. John will cover the presentation in more detail in this issue of the TOE. Be sure to check it out.

When the password is entered and the search icon clicked, it took a fraction of a second to return the results. That seems to be extremely fast to sort through 700 million plus entries. It is not inconceivable. In the mid 80s, I was testing a 30 bit 80GHz A/D converter fabricated using superconducting technology. The readback was much slower than the acquisition. My capture device and control computer was a Commodore 64. The game port interface was the fastest available at the time. Programming that port was very interesting. Today a FPGA would be the interface. All hardware has gotten faster and cheaper making its predecessors obsolete. I purchased my first computer in 1986 at three times the cost of my car. In a little over 30 years, the computer of today makes the early versions seem like a "pre-dinosaur" something or other. These devices are getting much easier to use with little or no knowledge of how it works. That may be good or bad. I'm just hoping I do not become pwned.