Technology Practice Tips Podcasts

Practical law practice technology concepts in an accessible, conversational manner with Phil Brown and David Whelan

Technology Jargon: G through L

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We return to cover six more jargon topics - giga (as in gigabyte), Heartbleed, the Internet of Things, juice-jacking, kernel, and Linux - in our series of technology terms of art that lawyers may run into while practicing law.
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Speaker Key:    PB: Phil Brown, DW: David Whelan

 

PB:  Hi, it is Phil Brown, and I am here with David Whelan. We are embarking on part two of our jargon podcast for 2015.

 

DW: Right. If you have not heard the first six letters of the alphabet, A through F, you will find them on our website. Let's start with G now, Phil. What have you got for G?

 

PB: G is for GIG (GB), or gigabyte, and one of the questions is how big a gigabyte is. It can be a billion bytes, but that still does not tell us much. I guess the big question is, how much information can you store in a gigabyte? It really depends on the kind of information you are storing and, for instance, different versions of Word. You can store a different number of documents. In the newest version of Word you can store about 7,000 Word files, and that is because there is quite a bit of compression that is done. Using the old "doc" version of Word, you would be able to store about 4,500 documents.

 

DW: Wow that is a huge difference.

 

PB: It is quite a difference, quite a bit of zipping going on in some of those files.

 

DW: So if I want to buy a new computer, how many GBs do I need in it?

 

PB: I think, now, a lot of the computers have gone from worrying about how much internal storage there is. They expect you to get some external storage, or to store most of your information in the Cloud. Of course, that has potential inherent risks, but I am not sure how much. I guess the amount is the amount that is going to allow you to run your operating system efficiently.

 

DW: It is probably one of those "more is better" things.

 

PB: More is always better. I guess not all memory is equal either, and some of it is going to be slower than other memory, in terms of storing and being able to access that memory later.

 

DW: Alright, what about H?

 

PB: H is for Heartbleed. Heartbleed is, sort of, a pesky little thing that has been around for quite a while, a couple of years. It is related to the Open SSL system, or secure socket layer system, and it is on about 70% of the internet. Open SSL, used with Apache servers, is really something that is used in just about everything, whether it is chat, instant message, email, or accessing web servers. The only way to guard against it is having the most up to date versions of open SSL running.

 

DW: Now, are most lawyers going to have SSL running on their computers?

 

PB: It is going to be running on most of the web that they are accessing, as opposed to their own computers, hopefully. Although, I suppose it could be running on their firm website servers.

 

DW: Right. I guess one thing they could do, if they have this Heartbleed vulnerability, is that they could test their SSL connections. But I guess they should also be aware of when they are connecting to a bank or something that uses SSL, they should know whether that one uses something that might have Heartbleed.

 

PB: Yes and then also, the banks running Windows XP and things like that. I is for the internet of things.

 

DW: Ooh, the internet of things, I love the internet of things.

 

PB: And the internet of things is going to play a bigger part in the next five to ten years, with some of the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi stuff that is out there, connecting your homes so you can initialize your coffee maker from work on your way home, or turn lights on and off and heat up and down and air-condition management, and a number of things like that. Of course, it potentially comes with a number of vulnerabilities, in terms of the security. A lot of these things really do not have the ability to update the security within them.

 

DW: Right and what I have heard is that a lot of these are coming with a version of Linux or a free operating system on them, because that makes the device cheaper to produce and distribute. But it makes it older software, in some cases or, as you say, software that cannot be updated. So you can potentially have a bunch of things for example, the latest one I have heard about is the toaster, an internet connected toaster. I do not know how that works if you are not there to put the bread in it though. You have all these devices that have passwords that you have to worry about, and connectivity issues that you are going to have to worry about.

 

PB: And I think one of these things is going to come back to managing your network. When you unwrap that network for the first time, make sure you change your administrative name and administrative passwords, and set your Mac permissions so that other devices cannot connect. Also keep an eye on your Wi-Fi and make sure it is updated often and that you have the most up to date security software that you can manage.

 

DW: Do you think internet of things is going to be more of an issue for lawyers in their firm or in their homes where they are doing work?

 

PB: I think it is more likely to be in their homes, especially where they are sharing networks and might have other less secure devices on that home network. Sort of a mishmash of bring your own device problems. So, your nanny cam, for instance, which might have been handed down from someone else, might not be very secure versus a newer version, or might be exposing a vulnerability to your home office computer, where you access your banking information.

 

DW: Sounds like a great time to go live in a cave.

 

PB: It is one of those things. Maybe you want to disconnect some of those devices that are great for convenience. Do you really need an internet enabled toaster or coffee maker in your home?

 

DW: I am thinking you do. What about J?

 

PB: J, juice jacking is just a term I am going to toss out. We have an entire podcast about it. It is really about when you go and see one of those kiosks where you can plug in your device to charge it while you are spending some spare time. Maybe you have noticed your phone is almost dead and you are running through the path or in a mall somewhere and you see one of these stands where you can just plug it in - it is brought to you by the local camera store or whoever. It may not be and you just have to be very wary that one of the things that you are potentially doing is exposing all of your information for download while you are plugging your device in to recharge.

 

DW: A USB port has four little pieces of metal inside, if you look inside. Two of those are for data and two of them are for power, so you should be aware that when you stick it in there, and you are getting the power over those two, you could also be receiving data over the other two.

 

PB: And then that is the other thing, you might be receiving a virus or something connected to a bot that is going to download your information later at some other time.

 

DW: But is it always safe to plug in as long as it is an actual plug and not a USB?

 

PB: As long as it is a plug that is physically located in the wall I suppose, but, again, there is also some potential vulnerabilities with power bars and things like that, which might not be what they seem.

 

DW: Yes, I love those. Okay, we were talking about the internet of things, devices that are hard to update. Why are they hard to update? I think that is our letter K.

 

PB: That is because of the kernel, which is not related to popcorn. It is really about the base level of your operating system. Operating systems are done in multi layers so that you have one layer that deals with your port connections, another layer that deals with how it handles visual objects, and another one that might deal with printer connections, and so on. The kernel is that base layer that, sort of, helps start up your computer and determines what memory is allocated to each little thing at that base layer. The more efficient the kernel is, the better your operating system is going to work.

 

DW: So Windows has a kernel and Mac OS has a kernel, and I guess that is why, with Linux, you have so many different types of Linux. They all share the Linux kernel, but then they have other stuff that is layered on top of it.

 

PB: Which brings us to -

 

DW: L.

 

PB: - L and Linux. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about Linux, because it is another operating system that is out there that is different. It is quite distinct from Mac OS and Windows.

 

DW: Linux is an operating system that was developed by a guy named, I think it is Linus, but it is definitely spelled L, I, N, U, S. Similar to the operating system, and the great idea behind that was, it was this open source operating system. Over the decades now, I guess, it has been out there, many people have adopted it, and it has become a core element of the web. It runs a lot of web servers that are out there. It runs a lot of application servers. It might even be running file servers in your law firm. The one place it has not gotten to is the desktop. So you probably have not seen it, but it has gotten a lot of press recently because it has some features that you may prefer over Windows 10, but it also has some of the same features that we are starting to see in Windows 10. It is interesting that this open source system, that has been out for so long, now has some traits that we are starting to see in the mainstream.

 

PB: And maybe another podcast will be devoted to talking about the differences between proprietary software and open source software, and advantages and disadvantages of each.

 

DW: Yes, I love Linux. I do not think it is for most lawyers, but it certainly is an option out there. I know that there are some diehards and, just like in the old WordPerfect days, they will have their Linux machines pulled from their cold dead hands.

 

PB: That is our look at letters 6 through 12 in the jargon podcast part two. Thanks a lot, David.

 

DW: Thanks, Phil.