|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog
Friday, October 31, 2003
Genetic programming and IdeaLab: This review of GP quotes Bill Gross of IdeaLab. "Instead of defining your part or your circuit board, define your objective and let the software evolve the answer. .. you tell the software, OK, you've got bars, beams, screws, bolts -- make the best thing you can at the lowest cost. .. Let's say you give the software access to the entire McMaster-Carr industrial supply catalog. They have 400,000 parts in stock: screws, bolts, hinges, everything. So you've got the whole gene pool of those parts available." Somewhere in that mix is the machine you're dreaming of, and simulated evolution may well be the fastest way to find it."
IdeaLab is assembling and selling the parts lists via Partsearch Technologies; from a press release in early 2003, "the database stood at 15 million SKUs, with CE models dating back seven years on average, and some major appliance models dating back as far as the 1950s and '60s. To develop the database, Partsearch compiles data from disparate sources, such as materials lists, tab-delimited spreadsheets, data feeds from CADD/CAM systems and even postings from corporate FTP Web sites. Partsearch then aggregates the data into its cross-referenced database, taking a total of about 60 days to process it, run it through quality assurance checks and post it live in the master parts catalog. " 10:58:56 AM
Tsunami Research - Hive Computing
: "a comprehensive and integrated approach to the development, deployment, and management of custom, transaction-oriented mission critical applications." A different take on grid-style computing, where commodity machines running their OS can distribute all functions on any machine. "HiveCreator
is a software toolkit that enables large numbers of dedicated, commodity computers to form a mission critical computing environment .. a Hive is unique in being Self-Healing, Self-Organizing, Self-Maintaining" 10:46:32 AM
"Omnilux Mesh Technology is a point-to-multipoint "fiber extension" solution .. using a repeating mesh topology over free space optics links" 10:23:03 AM
Catch the Fire!
: "Evolution of a Solar Dish," how Energy Innovations continues to refine its designs for small solar concentrators. They're now working on using high-concentration PV cells instead of sterling engines. Turns out they use genetic algorithms to refine their designs. The revamped Energy Innovations web site
has many photos of alternative designs arranged on a 3-year timeline. 10:20:40 AM
Thursday, October 30, 2003
: Interesting web service for maintaining links to interesting sites on a weblog. 12:14:24 PM
Brazil delays payment to Raytheon for jungle radars
: "The decision by Brazil's government came after delays in the development of a very high frequency (VHF) radio system by Raytheon to serve the $1.4 billion system that monitors drug runners, loggers, and other illegal activities in the Amazon...
It was not clear how this would hinder the full functioning of Sivam, the vast majority of which is already up and running. The Air Force spokesman said that for now personnel were using inferior technology radios. The largest system of its kind in the world, it combines radars, control centers, and aircraft with sensors to create a surveillance web that can monitor illegal deforestation to incursions by unidentified aircraft into Brazil's Amazon.
Raytheon is developing a new radio system which would be especially adapted to the jungle conditions of the Amazon. Perlini said final tests of the radio system would now take place in the first quarter of next year and be fully operational in the second quarter. The Air Force spokesman said only 19 of the 27 radios were currently in place at jungle command centers, which would ultimately improve contact with monitoring aircraft. Perlini said the VHF system was the final part of a huge monitoring system. "It is one part of a very large and complex system," she said. "You know the Amazon is two-thirds the size of the U.S. and you have less roads than in the state of Maine; that adds to the complexity." " 12:39:12 AM
Drawing PC, TV and Stereo Into an Entertainment Loop: Review of wifi links to TVs and stereos. Key points:
- all do pictures and audio ok
- 802.11b has problems with video streaming, 802.11g should be ok
- equipment reviewed:
- Linksys WMA11B Wireless Digital Media Adapter (about $150)
- Hewlett-Packard ew5000 Wireless Digital Media Receiver ($200)
- Prismiq Media Player ($250), with optional $50 wireless keyboard for surfing the web on the TV and $70 802.11g upgrade PC card. With TV picture-in-picture, you can type chat into a window while watching TV
- Gateway's Connected DVD Player ($200)
- Service upgrades from Tivo and Microsoft XBox
- the author used a Microsoft MN-700 802.11g Wireless Base Station ($89), noting other wireless "g" routers from Netgear and Linksys
- "All the devices I tested, except the Linksys Media Adapter, forced me to give up some network security to make the wireless hookup work.
- none played all the popular computer music, photo and video file formats. Apple's AAC music files, for example, were not supported by any of the devices, few can play video file formats like Real that are commonplace on computers."
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Iraqis condemn suicide attacks, blame foreigners
: Lebanese coverage of bombings in Baghdad: "Like many Iraqis, Yassen Saeed is convinced that a surge of suicide bombings which has killed dozens of civilians in Baghdad is the work of foreign extremists seeking to sow chaos for US-led occupation forces. .. It might be one of the few things on which Iraqis agree with US President George W. Bush, who on Tuesday pointed to foreign Islamic fighters as key suspects behind the rise in violence along with fighters loyal to ousted President Saddam Hussein. " 11:53:18 PM
Iraq's No Vietnam
: "The people who mounted the attacks on the Red Cross are not the Iraqi Vietcong. They are the Iraqi Khmer Rouge — a murderous band of Saddam loyalists and Al Qaeda nihilists, who are not killing us so Iraqis can rule themselves. They are killing us so they can rule Iraqis. Have you noticed that these bombers never say what their political agenda is or whom they represent? They don't want Iraqis to know who they really are. A vast majority of Iraqis would reject them, because these bombers either want to restore Baathism or install bin Ladenism.
Let's get real. What the people who blew up the Red Cross and the Iraqi police fear is not that we're going to permanently occupy Iraq. They fear that we're going to permanently change Iraq. .. Most of the troubles we have encountered in Iraq (and will in the future) are not because of "occupation" but because of "empowerment." The U.S. invasion has overturned a whole set of vested interests, particularly those of Iraq's Sunni Baathist establishment, and begun to empower instead a whole new set of actors: Shiites, Kurds, non-Baathist Sunnis, women and locally elected officials and police. The Qaeda nihilists, the Saddamists, and all the Europeans and the Arab autocrats who had a vested interest in the old status quo are threatened by this.
Many liberals oppose this war because they can't believe that someone as radically conservative as George W. Bush could be mounting such a radically liberal war. Some, though, just don't believe the Bush team will do it right." 11:41:34 PM
Texaco Ovonic Hydrogen Systems scalable modular solid metal hydride hydrogen storage
: "TOHS' solution is its proprietary hydride storage system, which can be used both at the refueling site and onboard the vehicle. It uses a powdered metal alloy within a storage tank to absorb and store hydrogen in a significantly lower 1,500 psi pressure environment, a reversal of the current trend toward 10,000 psi gaseous storage. This system works by absorbing hydrogen into a solid metal alloy while removing any heat released by this reaction. The result is hydrogen that is now stored safely in a solid, inert state, only to be released on demand when heated. This process would ideally make use of the waste heat from either an internal combustion or fuel cell powerplant. Showcasing this breakthrough is a hybrid sedan (a 2002 Toyota Prius) that TOHS has modified to run on its new low-pressure, solid hydrogen storage system." Pictures included. 4:30:04 PM
Wireless on a bike:
"a recently launched wireless project brings e-mail to 13 villages in [northeastern Cambodia]. Early every morning, five motorcycles leave Banlung, the provincial capital. Each has a wireless device and antenna on the back. Before the motorbikes leave Banlung, they download e-mail messages for the remote regions from a central server.
The cycles then fan out to remote towns where solar panels on the roofs of schools provide enough power to run a computer for six hours a day. As they pass each remote location, messages are uploaded using a Wi-Fi connection built into the device on the back of the motorcycle. Similarly, outgoing mail is retrieved from the school or hospital and stored on the device. At the end of the day, the couriers return to Banlung and transmit all the collected e-mail to the Internet." 4:25:19 PM
Sunday, October 26, 2003
Ubiquity Breeds Utility
: "In the late 1980s, Dartmouth College was the most wired campus on the planet, running 10Mb Ethernet into every dorm room. Today, Dartmouth is the most unwired campus on the planet, with 560 access points covering 200 acres. .. If you wanted to know where wired communications were headed in the late 1980s, all you had to do was go to the Dartmouth campus.. I looked for similar insights regarding wireless networks on the Dartmouth Campus." 8:43:18 AM
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Winning the War on spam: Comparison of 2 Bayesian spam filters: "
- SpamBayes is currently the best solution to the spam problem. In fact, after I started using it I hardly notice there is a spam problem at all.
- POPFiles' support for multiple buckets can actually be a very useful feature for sorting your normal mail.
- both function as POP3 proxies "
Can Aliens Find Us?: "they could spectroscopically sample the light reflected from our atmosphere, and learn that it has large quantities of oxygen and methane, tell-tale markers of biology. In other words, aliens -- even relatively distant aliens -- could make straightforward astronomical observations that would prove that the third planet from the Sun hosts life. .. [But intelligent life? The easiest way] would be to detect our military radars. The bigger ones typically boast a megawatt of power, and are focused into beams that are a degree or two across. There are enough such radars that, at any given time, they cover a percent of the sky or so. The signal from the most powerful of these could be found at 50 light-years distance in a few minutes time with a receiving antenna 1,000 feet in diameter. Indeed, these military radars are the only signals routinely transmitted from Earth that are intense enough to be detectable at interstellar distances with setups equivalent to our own SETI experiments.
Bottom line? With radio technology slightly more advanced than our own, Homo sapiens is detectable out to a distance of roughly 50 light-years. Within that distance are about 5,000 stars, all of which have had the enviable pleasure of receiving terrestrial television. And each day, a fresh stellar system is exposed to signals from Earth.
But even if you believe in highly optimistic estimates regarding the prevalence of cosmic intelligence, its unlikely that another civilization exists within 50 light-years. Thats too small a distance. Were no doubt listed in some alien grad students data tables as a world with life, but without the footnote indicating intelligent life. We are the new kids on the block, and so far its a safe bet that none of the other kids know were here." 9:44:49 AM
Uganda to Make Solar Panels
: "Construction is expected to start by the end of the year on the $500,000 plant to be located in Kyambogo near Kampala. It is funded by the Danish Development Agency (Danida) as a joint venture between a Ugandan company, RAcell Uganda and a Danish company RAcell Denmark. Mr George Sizoomu, Executive director RAcell Uganda told BusinessWeek that the panels will be made using raw material imported from Europe. "We have to invest quite a lot to be able to produce. In about three months time, the factory will be operational and with the production in place, prices will definitely go down," he said." 9:30:46 AM
Friday, October 24, 2003
The full text
of Rumsfeld's memo on the war on terror. 11:50:54 PM
al-Qaida planned to attack U.S. embassy in Kenya
: "Al-Qaida operatives planned to destroy the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in June with a truck bomb and a hijacked plane loaded with explosives, a plot described in a Kenya police report seen by The Associated Press on Friday. The report, based on an interrogation of a terror suspect, could explain why the U.S. Embassy was closed June 20-24 and why Kenyan officials banned flights from June 20-July 8 to and from Somalia, a lawless neighbor and suspected haven for terrorists." 11:33:18 PM
Carrots and Fuel Rods
: "A news article in the Lebanese Daily Star
titled "Iran nuclear pledge is victory over Washington" shed
more pragmatic light on the details of the new agreement. According to the Star
, Iran does not recognize the Oct. 31st
deadline for proving that its nuclear program is "entirely peaceful," though it has now turned in documents to prove that point. Moreover, Iran has said nothing about how long it will suspend its uranium enrichment program or what might cause it to resume the process. The article quoted Israel's military intelligence chief ominously asserting that "if Iran completed its uranium enrichment program, it would be able to produce nuclear weapons without outside help within one year."" 9:31:49 PM
Trusted Email Open Standard
: 10-point summary of TEOS, which includes extensions to SMTP to verify identities, make assertions about message contents, and allow multiple authorities to certify the correctness of assertions. ".[Messages] that come from senders who are prepared to identify themselves are more likely to be legitimate than those that don't.. [Assertions will be useful because] it is a lot riskier to lie about messages when people know who you are". More details here 12:44:20 PM
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Carbon Finance at the World Bank: July 2003 presentation at a workshop on "Carbon Credits from Flare Reduction Activities" sponsored by the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR). Notable:
- greenhouse gas credits already purchased or under negotiation total approximately US$250 million
- shift into renewables and not just efficiency in last 2 years (breakdowns by region, type, and purchaser of carbon credits)
- carbon prices currently running $3-$4/tonne CO2e
- carbon finance helps solid waste management which saves on more powerful greenhouse gases
Author: Chandra Shekhar Sinha, Portfolio Manager, Carbon Finance Group The World Bank. 9:13:35 AM
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
CSIR Launches New Open Source Centre
: "The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Friday launched an Open Source Centre as part of broader endeavors aimed at stimulating the adoption of Open Sources Software Technologies in Africa. The center will be operating from CSIR in Pretoria. The CSIR, the largest scientific and technological research, development and implementation organisation in Africa, has been operating for more than 50 years." 11:52:39 PM
Tata Energy Research Institute TeriScope newsletters carry interesting stories. In this recent issue:
- The GNESD (Global Network on Energy for Sustainable Development), launched by UNEP at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, is a network of centres of excellence in the developing world working on energy, development, and environmental issues. Related institution: South Africa’s EDRC
(Energy and Development Research Centre),
- TERI has worked with the Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development (Canada) in developing potential CDM projects in Bangladesh, China, India, and Indonesia. Other related organizations included the Prototype Carbon Fund, International Emissions Trading Association, Asian Development Bank, EDRC, and Natsource.
Record Heat Wave in Europe Takes 35,000 Lives: "A record heat wave scorched Europe in August 2003, claiming an estimated 35,000 lives. In France alone, 14,802 people died from the searing temperatures—more than 19 times the death toll from the SARS epidemic worldwide. .. Though heat waves rarely are given adequate attention, they claim more lives each year than floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined. Heat waves are a silent killer, mostly affecting the elderly, the very young, or the chronically ill."
Health risks are magnified when humidity is high, the heat lasts 2 or more days, in cities where night cooling is less than rural areas (esp. "heat islands"), and where the air is polluted. Other killer waves in the US with over 700 deaths each were in LA in 1955, NYC 1972, Chicago 1995. "Over the last 25 years the average global temperature rose by 1 degree Fahrenheit, or 0.6 degrees Celsius. The IPCC's projected rise in temperature for this century is a global average, but the temperature is expected to rise more over land, where people live, than over sea. .. The World Meteorological Organization estimates that the number of heat-related fatalities could double in less than 20 years." 9:35:06 AM
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
UNEP Launches New Initiative to Shift Investment to Sustainable Energy
: "Noting that large centralized fossil-fuelled power stations supported by large centralized distribution systems will continue to be vulnerable, Mr. Toepfer launched the UNEP Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative (SEFI) aimed at engaging the finance sector to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Although sustainable energy technologies such as solar cells and wind generators have advanced rapidly, Mr. Toepfer said the transaction costs and market uncertainty of many renewable energy projects has lead most financiers to adopt a "wait-and-see" attitude, which is compounded by an overall lack of information, experience and the tools needed to quantify, mitigate and hedge project and financial product risks. With support from the United Nations Foundation (UNF), SEFI will help mainstream financiers overcome these barriers and consider renewable energy and energy efficiency as not just niche investments, but key components of secure energy systems based on truly sustainable forms of energy." 10:35:47 AM
Monday, October 20, 2003
The End of Spectrum: "There are two basic problems with the rules governing the radio spectrum: there is no such thing as spectrum, and we don't need any rules."
Nice technical summary, listing spectrum sharing methods other than frequency division: "Wireless technology has come a long way since Marconi's day. For example, many systems now use spread-spectrum as an alternative to frequency division. WiFi and CDMA cellular networks are two examples. In both cases, devices share the "same" frequencies, using computational intelligence to distinguish one signal from another. The ultimate form of spread-spectrum is ultra-wideband (UWB). UWB systems can transmit at extremely low power, so low that they appear invisible to licensed systems operating in the same bands. .. Other novel forms of wireless sharing include angle-of-arrival (for example, distinguishing a satellite transmission coming from overhead and a terrestrial wireless signal moving horizontally); mesh networking (relaying signals from other users); and cognitive radio (sensing the environment to find temporarily open "holes," and moving out of the way once another signal appears)." 10:25:23 PM
: Flash demo of a better way to do long scrolling lists. 9:59:04 PM
Water sparks new power source
: "A new way to generate electricity from water which could be used to power small electronic devices in the future has been developed by Canadian scientists. .. The research by Professor Kostiuk and colleague Professor Daniel Kwok is published by an Institute of Physics journal. It is said to be the first new method of generating electricity in over 150 years. The work is all to do with charge separation, and what happens to ions in liquids when they come into contact with a non-conducting solid." Bottom line: pressurized water can generate power when passed through a device with hundreds of thousands of microchannels in a block of glass . 12:08:32 PM
Sunday, October 19, 2003
Smart InFlow Power: "In commercial and industrial pipes where gases, liquids, or solids exert enough extra pressure to turn a small turbine, renewable electric power can be generated allowing utility companies, manufacturers, even owners of high-rise buildings to produce their own electricity or sell the power and create an additional source of revenue. These new smart turbine devices called Flow-to-Wire(sm) are a compact and more efficient version of much larger hydropower equipment used successfully around the world. The surplus power created by Flow-to-Wire(sm) can be a byproduct of a chemical reaction, occur during the release of stored compressed gas, or result from gravity pulling material from an elevated physical position to a lower one...
The power will qualify for renewable status in most states. To maximize efficiencies and safeguard water supplies against homeland security threats, Rentricity has built integrated sensors into the devices to provide data that will enable water utilities to track flow, pressure, and vault intrusion. Individually, a Flow-to-Wire(sm) system will produce on average 30 kilowatts (KW) to 50 KW -- enough to meet the usual demand of up to 50 homes or a portion of an industrial facility. Rentricity expects to install its devices in thousands of locations worldwide.. Rentricity is part of the Rensselaer Incubator Program" 10:48:36 PM
America Must Let Iraq Rebuild Itself: The current president of the Iraqi Governing Council writes in the NYT: "it is vital to call up the Iraqi Army and the national police force, at least up to mid-officer level. The coalition's early decision to abolish the army and police was well intended, but it unfortunately resulted in a security vacuum that let criminals, die-hards of the former regime and international terrorists flourish. .. Most of these soldiers are Iraqi patriots who chose not to fight for Saddam Hussein. Americans should not confuse the Iraqi Army with the hated Republican Guard, which Saddam Hussein created precisely because he distrusted the legitimate military. .. The coalition and the Iraqi Interior Ministry can vet officers to remove those who committed crimes under the old regime, and then rapidly redeploy the most capable units to work with, and progressively relieve, American troops of security duties. Iraqi Army units have an established chain of command and esprit de corps. Not only can they be recalled to barracks immediately, but it would be much easier and quicker to retrain and re-equip them within their existing organizational structure than to start from scratch.
.. In addition, the Iraqi national police must also be recalled. Most Iraqi policemen — as opposed to Saddam Hussein's feared intelligence and security organs — are dedicated to law and order. The United States does not have the time or money to create a police force from the ground up, nor is it necessary, because we have a large, organized force that is ready and willing to serve." 4:06:36 PM
High-Performance Photovoltaic Project: Entech 440x concentrator
: "Project Objective: Develop a new 440X, 27%-efficient photovoltaic concentrator module which is a "plug-and-play" replacement for ENTECH's existing, field-proven 21X, 13%-efficient module. The new module will use advanced multi-junction cell technology to be provided by lower-tier subcontractor Spectrolab, to replace the silicon cell technology used in the existing module. New color-mixing Fresnel lenses will be required to provide the primary 21X concentration and the secondary 21X concentration, together yielding a 440X overall concentration. The new module will fit into existing field-proven sun-tracking arrays, including the SunLine
2-module array for small power applications and the SolarRow
72-module array for large power applications. Due to the anticipated doubling of module and array efficiency, the delivered energy economics for the new systems are expected to be much better than for the existing systems." Longer paper available
. 10:35:15 AM
Friday, October 17, 2003
China exploring ethanol: "Like many other agriculture giants such as Brazil, the United States, and India, the northeast province is using its huge farm surplus to make organic fuel that cuts pollution, and reduces dependency on petroleum imports at the same time. Industry sources say, China, which is the world's fastest growing car and energy market, could extend the use of ethanol gasoline throughout the country by 2005 if initial exploratory steps are successful.. Turning grains into fuel also happens to allow the government to continue to subsidize agriculture outside its obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO), avoiding more social unrest from farmers who are now exposed to global competition." China subsidizes rural areas through corn production subsidies, and WTO rules prohibit subsidized exports, so a 20m ton corn mountain has already built up. 11:19:27 PM
VSAT services finding new customers: 2002 summary of changes in satellite IP markets:
- 90% of new customers request IP support
- "By supporting IP and standardizing certain parts of the technology, [service providers] can deploy two-way VSAT networks with [customer-premises equipment] that costs $500 to $600," Baugh says. He says this would be the floor of the market with users paying about $70 to $200 per month, per site for service for perhaps 128K bit/sec worth of bandwidth.
- Gilat's Spacenet Connexstar costs $119 per month for 128K bit/sec upstream and 500K bit/sec downstream with a one-time equipment cost of $1,000.
- Hughes is the leading provider of VSAT services in North America with Directway. Starband and Tacyon also sell VSAT Internet access services to individual users. These offerings [appeal to new customers "such as real estate agencies and veterinarian offices"
- In the past, most VSAT service providers were interested only in deployments that reached thousands of sites, but there has been a change of philosophy within many providers. Traditional VSAT networks are built based on the amount of bandwidth a company needs and the number of sites that will share that bandwidth. Classic app: reduce the time credit for card authorization, eg "from 15 sec down to 3 sec... A group of 500 stores could share a 128K bit/sec satellite channel and not experience any delays because of the small amount of traffic that's being sent over the network, even though it's regularly used." Price: for 4000 stations, perhaps $60/mo/station, for hundreds of sites, perhaps $100/mo/station.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Al-Qaida may try major attack on U.S. forces in Iraq: IISS annual review says Bush administration overconfident about "war on terror". Echoing earlier estimates from MI5 and MI6, it says Al Qaida is weaker on the offense but stronger on the defense as a result of recent events. Other key bits:
"The review expressed concern over the threat posed by about 120 large, poorly guarded ammunition dumps left in Iraq after Saddam Hussein's downfall, warning that terrorists may find them a source of weapons such as anti-aircraft missiles. The dumps have not been destroyed because of the search for evidence of weapons of mass destruction. ''The coalition was unprepared for the scale of the problem, and had no way of securing the quantity of ammunition and weapons storage sites,'' it said."
"Attempts by al-Qaida to penetrate Hamas have so far failed, mainly because Hamas's objectives are basically local. But "Hamas/al-Qaida links could materialise if Hamas became desperate and politically marginalised", says the report. " 10:58:11 PM
Business Maps The Way Wind Blows:
Truewind is an "Albany-based partnership that makes wind maps for companies seeking the best spots to erect electricity-generating wind turbines. Such maps can be crucial for determining how much electricity — and how many dollars — turbines will produce. TrueWind hit on the idea of using parallel computing — that is, solving a problem with the simultaneous use of multiple computers — to crunch a crushing load of meteorological data to figure out wind patterns.
TrueWind considers all sorts of historical atmospheric data on a given area, from temperature to moisture levels to more generalized wind measurements. Year-round data is randomly sampled over a 15-year period through a process Bailey likens to polling. Contours of the land are represented by topographical maps. Satellite images provide important details about land cover such as whether a piece of land is covered by trees or crops. "We let the model then say, 'Given these larger conditions, what must be happening on the small scale based on what we know about physics and the topography and the surface characteristics?'" said physicist Michael Brower.
TrueWind's computer model is designed to give a high resolution picture — down to about two-thirds of a mile in their large area MesoMaps and around 330 feet for "micrositing" maps of smaller areas.
The data — much of it culled from such federal agencies as the National Weather Service — is fed into more than 100 parallel computer processors. But even with that sort of firepower, it can take weeks to produce a map. Thresher calls TrueWind the leader among wind mappers in the United States, but noted there are other dominant players in Europe.
TrueWind does about $1.5 million annually in sales, Bailey said. .. Bailey estimates that 80 percent of TrueWind's business is in mapping and the rest in the related field of wind forecasting. TrueWind is starting a contract with the California Independent System Operator for hourly forecasts of the wind projects in that state. TrueWind has mapped out 30 states so far, as well as Brazil, Sri Lanka and other countries under a contract with the United Nations. "We want to map the world in the next two to three years," Bailey said. " Example: Utah has potential to generate wind power to meet state's electricity needs 10:06:39 AM
V O X I V A
: Company builds integrated telephone/internet solutions for data gathering and dissemination. Initial applications in developing country health care
, including in Iraq
.. "In an age defined by SARS, BioTerror, and growing Healthcare costs, Voxiva is pioneering phone/internet technology approaches that radically improve information access, data collection, communication, data analysis, and response in global health and safety." 9:05:58 AM
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
: "OfflineIMAP is a tool to simplify your e-mail reading. With OfflineIMAP, you can read the same mailbox from mul- tiple computers. You get a current copy of your messages on each computer, and changes you make one place will be visible on all other systems." I have read that it is a good tool for synchronizing with IMAP server-to-server, or as a platform for agents. 6:57:29 PM
New Catalyst For Renewable Hydrogen
: Significant improvement in biomass conversion using cheaper materials at lower temperatures in simpler liquid process: "Scientists have developed a hydrogen-making catalyst that uses cheaper materials and yields fewer contaminants than do current processes, while extracting the element from common renewable plant sources. Further, the new catalyst lies at the heart of a chemical process the authors say is a significant advance in producing alternate fuels from domestic sources.
In the June 27 issue of the journal Science, James Dumesic, John Shabaker and George Huber, of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, report developing the catalyst from nickel, tin and aluminum and using it in a process called aqueous-phase reforming (APR), which converts plant byproducts to hydrogen. The process performs as well as current methods that use precious metals such as platinum, yet runs at lower temperatures and is much cleaner." Photos at NSF site. They say it can be productive at small scale. Virent Energy Systems has been formed to commercialize the technology. This Conference Paper has some technical details and contact info. PDF papers provide more technical details. 9:48:31 AM
Monday, October 13, 2003
: "Buzz2Talk is a Push to Talk demo application for use with services such as FreeWorld Dial up. " Works on a GPRS-enabled Symbian device*." 11:51:37 AM
Strategy on Pyongyang is wrong, Bush told: "Charles (Jack) Pritchard, the former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, who.. embarrassed the Bush Administration by resigning on the eve of the six-way talks on the Korean crisis in Beijing in late August, .. [said] that unless its approach to negotiations is rethought, any prospect of success is "very grim". .. "We've got to get serious about this, rather than drive-by meetings that occur where we roll down the window and wave to the North Koreans and move on," Mr Pritchard said.
During the Washington forum on North Korea, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, played down any prospect of a US military strike on the North if talks fail. The US military would not support a "surgical" strike on Pyongyang's nuclear facilities because it did not have the forces for a counter-attack if the North responded militarily, he said. "Seventy-three per cent of all American manoeuvre battalions are now deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan," he said. The US military would be "violently opposed" to any military action on the peninsula." 11:40:43 AM
As The Blogs Churn
: A summary of stats about blogs. About 4m have been created, with 25% abandoned within a day, and about 40% updated in the last 30 days. Surveys seem to run between 900k and 1.6m active blogs (as of Oct 2003). An ongoing census
with factoids finds about equal male and female bloggers, English still the dominant language, etc. 11:23:44 AM
ZoneEdit.com provides a growing list of domain management services:
- round-robin DNS resolution for server load-balancing
- failover monitoring, automatically supplying backup IP or URLs when servers fail
- dynamic DNS, for servers running with DHCP addresses
- free test DNS page
- URL redirection, including "cloaking" the destination URL in a frameset
- mail relay, including aliases, duplication of mail, and wildcard redirection
- backup MX spooling
- rebranded zoneedit for resale
- API for program control of services
Incompentent diplomacy: From a Council on Foreign Relations talk in March 2003, Jean David Lavitte, the French ambassador in Washington and President Jacques Chirac's former national security adviser at the Elysee Palace, interviewed by Richard Holbrooke:
"JDL: One word about the second resolution in the Security Council. I think I can say it now on the record, you have to know that weeks before it was tabled, I went to the State Department and to the White House to say, don't do it. First, because you'll split the Council and second, because you don't need it. Let's agree to disagree between gentlemen, as we did on Kosovo, before the war in Kosovo ...
RH: And never went to the Security Council.
RH: And pulled it off.
Holbrooke elaborated in an April 2003 interview: "In order to protect the U.N. system, we bypassed it in the [case of the] Balkans. Jean-David Levitte .. said at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting in Washington three weeks ago, at which I was the moderator, that he had gone to the White House, on instructions, and told the NSC [National Security Council] at a high level that the French did not think we should seek a second resolution and we should bypass them--in other words, precisely what we did in Kosovo." 3:56:29 AM
Holbrooke had it right: From a 10 Feb 2003 interview: "I'm not here to defend the administration, I think their handling the U.S. alliance relations from Korea to Europe has been flawed from the beginning of the conceptual level. .. The United States does not need a second resolution. My personal recommendation to them would be not to seek a second resolution, because 1441 and the previous resolutions going back to 1991 are all they need. And they're going to get caught up at the U.N. in a very messy debate with the French and the Russians over wording. .. I would also add one last critical point. In Bosnia, in Kosovo, and in December of 1998 with Operation Desert Fox in Iraq, the Clinton administration used air power without any new Security Council resolution for Iraq and none at all in Kosovo and Bosnia, and we did that because we knew we couldn't get it through the Security Council. .."
Then a Washington Post Op-Ed Feb 23: "That Saddam Hussein is the most dangerous leader in the world today should hardly be in doubt after his behavior over the past 30 years. Left in power, he would undoubtedly find ways over time to rebuild his arsenal of mass destruction. The failure to finish him off in 1991 was one of the most significant errors in modern American history, no matter what the rationale offered for limiting Desert Storm to the liberation of Kuwait. .. The second resolution may be achievable, but only if Hans Blix issues far more negative reports than he has so far. This is certainly possible (especially if Hussein is stupid) but the United States should never put itself in a position where a vital national interest is decided by an international civil servant or another sovereign government. ..
In a roughly similar situation, in 1999, the Clinton administration and our NATO allies decided to bomb Serbia (for 77 days) without even seeking U.N. approval, after it became clear that Russia would veto any proposal. This contrast with the supposedly muscular Bush administration is especially odd when one considers that Saddam Hussein is far worse than Slobodan Milosevic, and that Iraq has left a long trail of violated Security Council resolutions, while there were none on Kosovo. ..
[This does not] bode well for the all-important post-Hussein phase, in which Washington's recently revealed plans for U.S. military control of Iraq can only spark fears that the United States will ultimately be trapped in what Winston Churchill, after the death of several British officers in Iraq in 1920, called "these thankless deserts." 3:38:33 AM
The Day After the Day After: Winning the Peace in Post-Saddam Iraq
: I'm blogging a few people who got it right before the invasion. Here's Lieberman in Oct 2002: "We have to face the fact that the best-case military scenario — the rapid collapse of the Iraqi military and the swift capture or elimination of Saddam — would also present the most challenging security scenario. .. U.S. forces must be ready immediately to shift gears to post-conflict operations — helping to restore order and handling humanitarian emergencies. Despite its tremendous training and talent, our military needs more specialized teams to take on this crucial job. Like the military campaign itself, stabilizing post-Saddam Iraq and helping the Iraqi people are more likely to be achieved if the United States is part of an international coalition, especially one that includes Muslim and Arab nations. " 2:05:40 AM
Monkeys Control Robotic Arm With Brain Implants: The details are fascinating (emphases mine): "Scientists in North Carolina have built a brain implant that lets monkeys control a robotic arm with their thoughts, marking the first time that mental intentions have been harnessed to move a mechanical object. The new work is the first in which any animal has learned to use its brain to move a robotic device in all directions in space and to perform a mixture of interrelated movements -- such as reaching toward an object, grasping it and adjusting the grip strength depending on how heavy the object is. ..
The device relies on tiny electrodes, each one resembling a wire thinner than a human hair. After removing patches of skull from two monkeys to expose the outer surface of their brains, Nicolelis and his colleagues stuck 96 of those tiny wires about a millimeter deep in one monkey's brain and 320 of them in the other animal's brain.
Then came the training, with the monkeys first learning to move the robot arm with a joystick. The arm was kept in a separate room -- "If you put a 50-kilogram robot in front of them, they get very nervous," Nicolelis said -- but the monkeys could track their progress by watching a schematic representation of the arm and its motions on a video screen. The monkeys quickly learned how to use the joystick to make the arm reach and grasp for objects, and how to adjust their grip on the joystick to vary the robotic hand's grip strength. They could see on the monitor when they missed their target or dropped it for having too light a grip, and they were rewarded with sips of juice when they performed their tasks successfully.
While the monkeys trained, a computer tracked the patterns of bioelectrical activity in the animals' brains. The computer figured out that certain patterns amounted to a command to "reach." Others, it became clear, meant "grasp." Gradually, the computer learned to "read" the monkeys' minds.
Then the researchers did something radical: They unplugged the joystick so the robotic arm's movements depended completely on a monkey's brain activity. In effect, the computer that had been studying the animal's neural firing patterns was now serving as an interpreter, decoding the brain signals according to what it had learned from the joystick games and then sending the appropriate instructions to the mechanical arm.
At first, Nicolelis said, the monkey kept moving the joystick, not realizing that her own brain was now solely in charge of the arm's movements. Then, he said, an amazing thing happened. "We're looking, and she stops moving her arm," he said, "but the cursor keeps playing the game and the robot arm is moving around." The animal was controlling the robot with its thoughts.
"We couldn't speak. It was dead silence," Nicolelis said. "No one wanted to verbalize what was happening. And she continued to do that for almost an hour."
At first, the animals' performance declined compared to the sessions on the joystick. But after just a day or so, the control was so smooth it seemed the animals had accepted the mechanical arm as their own. "It's quite plausible that the perception is you're extended into the robot arm, or the arm is an extension of you," agreed the University of Washington's Fetz, a pioneer in the field of brain-controlled devices.
"Once you have an output signal out of the brain that you can interpret, the possibilities of what you can do with those signals are immense," said Donoghue, who recently co-founded a company, Cyberkinetics Inc. of Foxboro, Mass., to capitalize on the technology. ..
Asked if the monkeys seemed to mind the experiments, Nicolelis answered with an emphatic "No." "If anything, they're enjoying themselves playing these games. It enriches their lives," he said. "You don't have to do anything to get these guys into their chair. They go right there. That's play time." 1:44:10 AM
Iraq poll results
: "Iraq is a much more secular country than people realize. Forty-two percent of the people we asked had not been to mosque at all in the previous month, so the idea that this is going to become a mullah-driven country, like Iran, I think is quite unlikely. And in fact interestingly, the Shiâ'a, who are of course the co-religionists with the Iranians, were even less attracted to a religious government than the rest of the population" 1:29:30 AM
Germany and Japan: What the US should avoid in Iraq: "it will do no good to use the post-1945 US occupations of Japan and Germany as inspiration. By invoking those earlier episodes, the Bush administration betrays a degree of wishful thinking, even ignorance, that bodes ill for Iraq. Indeed, perhaps the best reason to study those experiences is to learn what not to do. ..
US reformers encountered torpor, resentment and resistance as they tried to re-educate and reform their former enemies and bring war criminals to trial.
General Lucius Clay, who presided over the US occupation zone in Germany, called de-Nazification his “biggest mistake,” a “hopelessly ambiguous procedure” creating “a pathetic ‘community of fate’ between small and big Nazis” and elicited popular hostility. Wholesale dismissals of former officials, similar to US civil administrator Paul Bremer’s firing of 30,000 Iraqi civil servants with Baath links, were seen as arbitrary acts that made Germany and Japan more difficult to govern. Likewise, war crimes trials let high-ranking officers and former officials pose as “patriotic martyrs.”
Hardly had the occupations ended in Japan and Germany that many war criminals were set free, democratic reforms abandoned and quiet retribution meted out to many who had welcomed the occupiers." 1:10:36 AM
Sunday, October 12, 2003
Novak Leak Column Has Familiar Sound
: "In July 2001, Novak revealed that newly accused spy Robert P. Hanssen was his primary source for a column a few years earlier about an FBI agent who resigned after refusing a demand from Attorney General Janet Reno for names of secret sources in China. He wrote: "Disclosing confidential sources is unthinkable for a reporter seeking to probe behind the scenes in official Washington, but the circumstances here are obviously extraordinary." 11:56:28 PM
Searching the BlogSphere
: "Trusted Blog Search Tool: A search box that lets readers search the web, your site, or blogs you read." 4:59:25 PM
Perl scripts and java scripts
: Free and for-sale form processors, search scripts, Bulk email software and mass mailer, email software, Attachment mailer, shopping cart software, Web statistics software, for any web site with a cgi-bin". 4:58:01 PM
Saturday, October 11, 2003
Sound Point Ventures Portfolio
: "Angels with Attitude I, LLC, is the Northwest's only seed and early-stage private equity investment fund committed to sustainability. Its members are active angel investors who want to contribute more than money to growing companies.
Angels with Attitude has made investments in the following areas: clean and renewable energy, industrial process efficiency and controls, sustainable agriculture, education, and water and energy conservation technology. " 9:16:01 PM
Friday, October 10, 2003
Iraq trust fund:
"BRUSSELS: Major donors to Iraq have agreed how to operate a fund to channel aid independently of the US-led occupation authority and will unveil details next Tuesday, a European Commission official said yesterday. "The design is pretty well complete and will be presented on October 14 in New York in front of all potential donors," the official said.
Details of the multi-donor trust fund have been worked out by a core group of donors, including the US, international financial organisations and the European Union, which has pledged 200 million euros (BD90m) in reconstruction aid for the 14 months from November 2003 to the end of 2004. The fund will be unveiled just days ahead of the opening of an international donors' conference for the reconstruction of Iraq in Madrid on October 23. While the EU has already pledged 200m euros from the community budget, the EU's executive, the Commission, expects individual states to make separate donations" 11:49:22 PM
Asterisk - The Open Source Linux PBX
: "Asterisk is a complete PBX in software. It runs on Linux and provides all of the features you would expect from a PBX and more. Asterisk does voice over IP in three protocols, and can interoperate with almost all standards-based telephony equipment using relatively inexpensive hardware. Asterisk provides Voicemail services with Directory, Call Conferencing, Interactive Voice Response, Call Queuing. It has support for three-way calling, caller ID services, ADSI, SIP and H.323 (as both client and gateway)." 2:50:27 PM
Solar-Powered Refrigeration: "Designed to function in arid to semi-arid regions with at least 5 sun-hours per day, the PV direct-drive, or “PV direct,” SunDanzer™ solar refrigerator is a chest-type cabinet with a 105-liter (3.7 cubic feet) internal volume, a lockable top-opening door, a corrosion-resistant coated steel exterior, and a patented low-frost system. It uses thermal storage for cooling efficiency, with a direct connection between the vapor compression cooling system and the PV module. This is accomplished by integrating a phase-change material into a well-insulated refrigerator cabinet and developing a microprocessor-based control system that permits the direct connection of a PV module to a variable-speed compressor. The integration allows for peak power-point tracking and the elimination of batteries.. The solar refrigerator's thermal storage material provides 7 days of reserve cold storage, even in tropical climates, or during extensive periods of cloudy weather .. Light indicators on the front of the refrigerator inform users of the status of the thermal reserve.
For frequently cloudy regions or areas with less than 5 sun-hours per day, SunDanze Refrigeration offers highly efficient battery-powered refrigerators, as well as freezers. These units run on 12 or 24 volts, direct current, and require a smaller PV or renewable energy system. " Current retail price $900. 2:23:15 PM
Thursday, October 09, 2003
POPFile - open source Bayes
: "POPFile is an automatic mail classification tool. Once properly set up and trained, it will work in the background of your computer, scanning mail as it arrives and filing it however you wish. You can give it a simple job, like separating out junk e-mail, or a complicated one - like filing mail into a dozen folders. Think of it as a personal assistant for your inbox." Related program: Robin Keir's K9
: "K9 is an email filtering application that works in conjunction with your regular POP3 email program and automatically classifies incoming emails as spam (junk email) or non-spam without the need for maintaining dozens of rules or constant updates to be downloaded. It uses intelligent statistical analysis that can result in extremely high accuracy over time. K9 learns from its mistakes and becomes better and better at being able to identify spam. More importantly it learns to recognize what you consider to be spam. " 1:51:34 PM
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
: "Solaria, based in Berkeley, CA, is a leading solar company developing next-generation solar modules that combine conventional PV cells with advanced optics and electronics. This proprietary solution promises to dramatically reduce manufacturing costs and to enable the rapid scale up and deployment of customized PV applications." 7:27:34 PM
U.S. Can't Locate Missiles Once Held in Arsenal of Iraq: "The United States military has been unable to locate a large number of shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles that were part of the arsenal of Saddam Hussein .. The lack of accounting for the missiles — officials say there could be hundreds — is the primary reason the occupation authorities have not yet reopened the Baghdad International Airport to commercial traffic .. United States military officers do not know exactly how many of the missiles are unaccounted for, because they do not have precise estimates of how many Iraq once possessed. "We just don't know," said an allied official, turning up his palms for emphasis. ..
United States officials have discovered that Mr. Hussein's overall conventional military arsenal was much larger than American prewar estimates. The C.I.A. has estimated that the weapons dumps found so far in Iraq hold 600,000 tons of all kinds of ammunition and weapons.
Experts estimate that there are about 100,000 shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles in existence globally. In the last 15 years, more than 50,000 have been sold to governments of developing countries, according to Clive Williams, director of terrorism studies at the Australian National University in Canberra. At least 30 insurgent and terrorist groups possess this kind of missile, Jane's Terrorism Intelligence Center reported in August." 12:32:41 AM
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Iraq Shake-up Skipped Rumsfeld: "Rumsfeld was asked several times why the changes were necessary. "I think you have to ask Condi that question," he said, according to a transcript posted on the Web site of the Financial Times. Pressed, he said: "I said I don't know. Isn't that clear? You don't understand English? I was not there for the backgrounding."
One source said the perception among some in the administration was that the Pentagon had been "neutered" by the changes, inasmuch as the White House now will be involved in budget and other decisions that had been the sole province of L. Paul Bremer, the civilian administrator in Iraq, who reports to Rumsfeld.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters Monday that Rumsfeld had been "very involved" in the overhaul. McClellan said last night that he found out later that Bremer was involved but Rumsfeld was not. "I received some bad information about that," he said." 11:38:40 PM
"Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, said on Tuesday he had not been told by President George W. Bush or the National Security Council that the White House was to restructure the handling of postwar Iraq before the media were briefed on the plan by NSC officials... "I don't know quite what the purpose of the backgrounding [to the New York Times] was . . . she gave a background, she said what she said, and the way I read the memorandum is that it is basically what the responsibility of the NSC is and always has been, which is what's been going on," he said. Mr Rumsfeld added: "My impression of it is that that is what is the charter of the National Security Council, and I haven't been able to detect any difference from the memo - unfortunately it's a classified memo, it shouldn't be, there's nothing in it that's classified." ..
But people close to the Pentagon said on Tuesday that Mr Rumsfeld's account appeared to be at odds with that of Ms Rice who told the New York Times that she had devised the new structure with Mr Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, the secretary of state, and Dick Cheney, the vice-president. Before issuing her memo, Ms Rice had been criticised for giving the Pentagon too much control in Iraq.Paul Bremer, civilian administrator, and General John Abizaid, chief military commander, report to Mr Rumsfeld. " 5:15:31 PM
VeriSign Sitefinder suspended:
"E-mail spam blockers [were] one of Site Finder's casualties. The blockers bar mail from nonexistent Internet domain names, but Site Finder makes it look like all domain names exist, rendering a key blocking mechanism useless, Schairer said. He also said that devices that allow blind people to read Web pages rely on specialized error messages that can be circumvented by Site Finder. Similarly, non-English-speaking web users were diverted away from error messages in their own languages onto an English-only Site Finder search page. Chinese authorities actually took steps to disable Site Finder on their national networks because of this problem. " Verisign returned to previous operation after multiple ICANN requests, but says it retains the rights to return it to service. 5:11:23 PM
Ghana rural electricity
: High proportion of PVs, using export financing from Spain, China, India, and Korea: "Under the project, financed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ghana Government, 2,300 solar systems have been installed in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions in schools, residential property, health facilities and water pumping systems, as well as street lighting.
The Minister said the government was sourcing a 15 million-dollar and a six million-dollar funding from the Spanish government and the China Exim Bank respectively for the development and expansion of solar systems throughout the country. .. Dr Nduom announced that under the Rural Electrification Programme, the government was seeking 25 million dollars from Exim Bank of India and 50 million dollars from the Korean Exim Bank for the extension of electricity to the rural areas. 4:09:15 PM
Dr Nduom said under the Rural Electrification Programme 1,000 communities would be connected to the national grid throughout the country while 650 other communities would be connected under the Self Help Electrification Programme (SHEP)... Mr John Nuworklo, Northern Regional Director of NED said VRA/NED had signed a contract for the supply of 50,000 pre-paid meters for the next three years for distribution to customers."
: "Mason is a Perl-based web site development and delivery engine. With Mason you can embed Perl code in your HTML and construct pages from shared, reusable components. Mason handles caching, debugging, templating, maintaining development and production sites, and more. Mason is 100% free and open source." Features
online. XSLT has some support
. SQL interface
with session management
provided via Perl libraries. 1:41:01 PM
Monday, October 06, 2003
Aljazeera: Arab firms win Iraqi mobile phone contracts:
"Shunning Western bidders, Iraq has awarded two-year GSM mobile phone contracts to three Arab firms: Orascom, Atheer Tel and Asia Cell. The licences are among the most potentially lucrative and high-profile contracts to be offered in post-war Iraq. .. As many as 100 bids were received from interested parties in the contracts. Abbadi did not reveal who the other candidates were but Orascom's Sawiris said there were “more than four or five US firms” in the race." An Australian report
: "IRAQ has awarded its first national mobile telephone network contracts to Egypt's Orascom, Atheer Tel and Asia Cell, both largely Kuwaiti owned, saying it expected the long-awaited GSM service to begin by the end of the month." 6:30:26 PM
Lockheed Martin wins airship competition
: The PV-powered helium UAV can "loiter with a 4,000lb (1,814kg) multimission payload in quasi geostationary orbit at altitudes around 65,000ft for periods much greater than contemporary unmanned air vehicles. This could be up to a month with a planned prototype unit and approaching a year for an operational variant. Yet, unlike a satellite, the airship could return to base for maintenance.
Lockheed Martin's highly autonomous, helium-filled design is 152.4m long, 48.7m in diameter, with a volume of 1.5 million m3, said Ronald Browning, the company's director of surveillance systems business development. It carries four electric motors with vectorable large twin-bladed propellers, two on each side of the vehicle [with] high strength-to-weight ratio materials for the airship's skin and thin-film photovoltaic cells to generate power [for] propulsion and the 10 kilowatts necessary to operate the airship's payload.
The company is now under a $40 million contract to mature its airship design through a critical design review in mid-2004. " 5:44:46 PM
Hybrid lighting uses fiber optics to bring daylight inside:
"Hybrid solar lighting, which is nearly 10 times more efficient than the most affordable solar cells today, is a concept being developed at ORNL. Jeff Muhs, who leads the research effort, notes .. "hybrid lighting uses sunlight directly," Muhs said. "Roof-mounted collectors concentrate sunlight into optical fibers that carry the light inside buildings to hybrid light fixtures that also contain electric lamps."
Control systems keep rooms at a constant lighting level by dimming the electric lights when the sunlight is bright and turning them up as clouds move in or as the sun sets. The result is a dramatic improvement over conventional approaches to bring sunlight into buildings.
The hybrid solar lighting system also overcomes a number of limitations of conventional approaches. "Daylit buildings are comparatively more costly to design, more constrained in terms of space utility, more difficult to cool during the summer, more difficult to evenly illuminate and more likely to develop maintenance problems caused by large roof penetrations," Muhs said.
From an economic perspective, a study for Department of Energy by the Antares Group concluded that up to 1 million hybrid solar lighting systems could be in use by 2020, saving rate payers billions of dollars annually. " 5:39:55 PM
Further details about ST organic dye PV research: "the Graetzel cell, known as the Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell (DSSC), mimics the mechanism that plants use to convert sunlight into energy, where each function is performed by different substances. The DSSC cell uses an organic dye (photosensitizer) to absorb the light and create electron-hole pairs, a nanoporous (high surface area) metal oxide layer to transport the electrons, and a hole-transporting material, which is typically a liquid electrolyte. "One of the most exciting avenues we are exploring is the replacement of the liquid electrolytes that are mostly used today for the hole-transport function by conductive polymers. This could lead to further reductions in cost per Watt"...
The ST team is also developing low cost solar cells using a full organic approach, in which a mixture of electron-acceptor and electron-donor organic materials is sandwiched between two electrodes. The nanostructure of this blend is crucial for the cell performance because the electron-donor and electron-acceptor materials have to be in an intimate contact at distances below 10 nm. ST plans to use Fullerene (C60) as the electron-acceptor material and an organic copper compound as the electron-donor." 5:31:51 PM
: features many small and medium-sized solar energy projects in developing countries. 2:16:52 PM
Spam Fighters Turn to Identifying Legitimate E-Mail
: Partial summary of standards-based anti-spam efforts. "Put simply, these efforts are trying to develop the Internet equivalent of caller ID, a technology that will let the receiver of an e-mail message verify the identity of the sender. As with caller ID for telephones, senders will be able to choose whether to remain anonymous. But also like caller ID, recipients may presume that those who do not identify themselves are sending junk. The loudest calls for such a system are coming from the banks, travel companies and online stores that are finding that much of their e-mail is getting caught in spam filters." Per-message and per-MTA authentication methods compete for attention. 10:30:06 AM
Korean Housewives Want Speedy Net: "Most [S Korean homes] pay about $33 monthly for an 8 megabit-per-second connection. Wireless access, which allows subscribers to access numerous public Wi-Fi networks, costs an extra $8.50 a month. Koreans spend an average of 16 hours a week on the Internet -- compared to 10 hours for Americans and four hours for the British ..
Such broadband vitality didn't come out of nowhere. The Korean government sank over $1.5 billion into helping create the world's most advanced telecommunications network, according to a report from Britain's Brunel University. The government also offered a range of "soft loans" -- very low-interest loans -- to operators ready to build out infrastructure. ..
"Initially Internet traffic went overseas, 98 percent of it," Son said. "There was no Korean content. But this has changed completely. Domestic traffic is now about 85 percent, and overseas, 15 percent. However, this does not mean that overseas traffic has decreased. Instead, domestic traffic has increased." ..
"So many people are trying to see first what the killer application will be for broadband. In our experience, broadband itself is the killer application," Son said" 2:56:46 AM
Sunday, October 05, 2003
Reuters | Kay: Two Iraqi WMD Scientists Shot for Helping U.S.: "One scientist was "assassinated literally hours after meeting" with a member of the WMD-hunting team, killed by a single shot to the back of his head outside his apartment, Kay said. There were no signs of robbery. Another scientist, who was "really golden for us," was shot six times but survived, he said. Kay declined to name them. "The scientist who took six bullets was ... key to starting our understanding of the biological weapons program and pointing us in the direction of others," he said. His nephew was also shot in the incident a month and a half ago, Kay said.
It is also investigating multiple reports from Iraqis of WMD or weapons-related substances being moved across borders into Iran, Syria and Jordan. "We have in several of the cases confirmed that there were actually movements on the date, on the route, to the locations they have identified," Kay said, adding that his team had no proof that it was WMD material being moved." 8:35:10 PM
SmartClone from SkyDesk
: Interesting workstation backup and restore product, built on @Backup
. Designed for migrating from one computer to another, and subsequently keeping a online backup. 9:52:32 AM
E-mail's special power:
Email is broken for some types of collaboration, but not all. Nice summary of its special value. "Every interpersonal e-mail message creates, or sustains, or alters the membership of a group. It happens so naturally that we don't even think about it. When you're writing a message to Sally, you cc: Joe and Beth. Joe adds Mark to the cc: list on his reply. You and Sally work for one department of your company, Joe for another, Beth is a customer, and Mark is an outside contractor. These subtle and spontaneous acts of group formation and adjustments of group membership are the source of e-mail's special power. Without any help from an administrator, we transcend the boundaries not only of time and space but also of organizational trust.
An ad-hoc group convened by e-mail dissolves unless membership is reaffirmed by each message. This is a feature, not a bug, [like] a hallway conversation is over in minutes; a spontaneous collaboration can last a day; a project may take a week. Software that requires people to explicitly declare the formation of these groups, and to acknowledge their dissolution, is too blunt an instrument for such ephemeral social interaction. ..
Could a protocol other than SMTP, and an application other than e-mail, support such interaction? Sure, but any other communication medium that has e-mail's special power to convene groups will suffer the same diseases that afflict e-mail: spam, abuse, infoglut. We're going to have to figure out how treat these ills with a mix of technical, social, and legal remedies. As we proceed, let's be clear about what e-mail is uniquely qualified to do. There are other ways to publish newsletters, send automated alerts, transfer files, and hold long-running discussions. If we can relieve e-mail of some of these burdens, it will be easier to heal its wounds." 9:23:52 AM
Saturday, October 04, 2003
ZigBee Standard Approved By IEEE: "The ZigBee standard, now officially known as 802.15.4, specifies the physical and media-access control (MAC) layers for the network, which can transfer data at rates up to 250 Kbits per second. The specification defines three throughput levels: 250 Kbits/s at 2.4 GHz, using 10 channels; 40 Kbits/s at 915-MHz, using 6 channels; and 20 Kbits/s at 868 MHz using a single channel. The technology can tranfer data at ranges up to 75 meters, depending on the power used and the transmission environment." 11:56:39 PM
RFID Journal - Peer-to-Peer: RFID's Killer App?: "A small Finnish company has taken a novel approach to solving that problem. Stockway has developed a peer-to-peer network that enables companies to share real-time data about products, regardless of the kind of RFID tag used on them. "We don’t track information as such, we track where information can be found," says Lion Benjamins, Stockway's marketing director. .. Stockway's system doesn't create a centralized directory where people can go to find out where files are stored. Instead, Stockway makes the product the center of the system. When a tag is scanned with an WWAI-enabled reader, it lets users know which private network within the system is being used and where distributed information about the product is stored. ..
Another advantage is the system can use any kind of RFID tag or even bar codes. It doesn’t solve the problem of needing standardized tags because business partners sharing information need to be able to scan the same tag. But partners could use the software to begin sharing data today with existing tags and readers, while waiting for their industry to agree on a standard tag. .. The system will have to compete with the Auto-ID Center's EPC Network, which also aims to use the Internet to enable companies to share data, though in a more centralized way. " 11:21:05 PM
Followit GPS+GSM: "With help from a cell phone or Internet can you position your object. Taxi companies, transport companies, car rent and even insurance companies can use the transponder in a wide range. .. Telia, a Swedish phone company, think that more than half of the mobile phone traffic is going to be computer traffic." It's called "matchbox sized", but looks about the same size as a cell phone. Another story : "Called Followit, the £700 device was invented by Olaf Lundberg, a Swede who lost his dog while moose hunting. Mr Lundberg's brainwave was to find a way of squeezing the workings of a GPS satellite navigation receiver and a mobile phone with a battery and two aerials into a box that he could strap to his dog's collar... "At first he sold it through hunting magazines, but then he found it was being used by truck companies to monitor the movement of their drivers through Sweden," .. In a demonstration seen by The Daily Telegraph, the device tracked the position of a car to the street in Winchester where the car was parked, even giving details of the nearest house number. Followit is now being sold to parents who want to keep tabs on their children, pet owners, private investigators, car hire firms, yacht owners, haulage companies, and travellers concerned about losing their luggage. It is also being offered to lone workers, such as community nurses, who can use its panic button if they are attacked." 11:08:54 PM
Back to the Future: New Wi-Fi Bridges Use 1999 Standard [Aug. 28, 2003]
: Technical description of WDS bridging that is simple and effective. Summary
from the author: "Apple and Buffalo, to name two, allow their access points to work as APs and bridges simultaneously, which can let you create a cloud of access instead of a little pool. It also reduces costs. In a shocking discovery, which I write about in this article, you can use Buffalo and Apple equipment together in WDS mode. Buffalo's roughly $100 access point (WLA-G54) pairs with Apple's $200-$250 AirPort Extreme Base Station, which has all the gateway features you need." 10:48:47 PM
Polish troops discover four French missiles in Iraq, made in 2003: "The discovery of [4 anti-aircraft] missiles by Polish troops raises fresh questions about the role of France in arming Saddam, as well as reviving memories of the French sale of Exocet missiles to Argentina before the Falklands war. ..
The Roland series of short-range anti-aircraft missiles is built by the Euromissile consortium, a joint venture between the Aérospatiale-Matra company and Germany’s DaimlerChrysler Aerospace. Roland missiles have previously been discovered at Baghdad airport, although France at the time insisted they were models no longer in production. ..
Eugeniusz Mleczak, a spokesman for the Polish defence ministry, said the missiles were discovered on 29 September and made safe. "It is not the first time Polish troops found ammunition in Iraq but, to our surprise, these missiles were produced in 2003," he added. A spokeswoman for the French foreign ministry denied knowledge of the missiles, saying: "Since July 1990, France has not authorised a single shipment of military equipment to Iraq." 8:22:52 AM
Thursday, October 02, 2003
Altamont Pass to Receive Wind Turbine Upgrade
: "Altamont Power, plans to complete construction by May, 2004. The repower project originally won approval in 1998, but the California energy crisis blocked progress at that time. Altamont Power expects to increase efficiency with the new turbines, in addition to cleaning up the site and burying many of the overhead power lines. It will replace nearly 200 Flowind turbines with 45 800-kW NEG Micon turbines. There will be no net addition of wind power capacity, but the output is expected to increase due to the increased efficiency of the new machines. The project stretches over a 2,880-acre area north of Interstate Highway I-580." 11:39:09 PM
Dow, GM, and Johnson & Johnson use Green Power
: "GM is also selling to Dow 35 MW of hydrogen fuel cells, which represents the largest corporate fuel cell purchase in the world. .. Johnson & Johnson now has nearly 1.2 megawatts of on-site solar PV capacity across 3 states, making the company one of the nation's largest corporate users of this technology as well." 11:32:58 PM
RPS in trouble
: "A renewable energy portfolio standard has been dropped from the energy bill being crafted by a House and Senate conference committee. The standard is unlikely to be restored despite a letter from 53 senators asking for its inclusion, according a congressional source close to the talks... the conference committee decided to omit the renewable energy portfolio standard because it was not included in the House version and because of fears that utilities in certain parts of the country -- including [conference chair] Tauzin´s home state of Louisiana -- would have difficulty meeting renewable energy requirements" 11:30:15 PM
Poll on US foreign affairs: "In choosing between broad descriptions of multilateralism and unilateralism, two-thirds of Americans choose multilateral policy versus three in ten who favor unilateral policy. Three in five Americans say the United Nations is needed now more than ever in world affairs, while 34% say the world body is less relevant and less influential today in global matters.
Americans are at least twice as likely to agree as to disagree that the United States should participate in the International Criminal Court (53%-22%) and in the Kyoto Protocol (44%-22%). However, margins of support for international treaties soften considerably when Americans learn more about them. Given more information, Americans are more likely to say the United States should not participate in the Kyoto Protocol (48%) than to say we should participate (41%). Support for the International Criminal Court Treaty (48%) still remains higher than the opposition (38%) after hearing arguments for and against the treaty. " 11:18:38 PM
Boa Constructor home
: "Boa Constructor is a cross platform Python IDE and wxPython GUI Builder. It offers visual frame creation and manipulation, an object inspector, many views on the source like object browsers, inheritance hierarchies, doc string generated html documentation, an advanced debugger and integrated help." 12:22:41 PM
"We had a lot of success with the use of Groove during Operation Iraqi Freedom. .. The day that "event swarming" became obvious was the day that the statue of Saddam was brought down. As Rapid Assessments were received by members of the space, we would receive Groove IM's directing us to the form and space in which it resided. What was fascinating was to see the number of people that would click through the IM and arrive in the shared space. Where there had been 5 people working in the space, there were now 50. Instantaneously, the space became super-charged with activity, which was most evident in the chat pane as people, separated by thousands of miles, began to discuss what needed to be done, who needed to do it, and decide when it would happen" 9:55:02 AM
Collaboration tools for conflict resolution
: "The Virtual Negotiation Table in Southern Asia/New York/Helsinki: Groove was used less than eight weeks ago to broker peace in a nation in southern Asia. .. Groove was embraced by both constituencies because of the virtual nature of the shared space. While one shared space served as the meeting place for the factions, each had separate spaces to discuss their positions and provide context for the negotiators." 9:42:07 AM
for Groove. (Used in Iraq for publishing news stories to the field DART teams.) 9:38:50 AM
Power to the Edge:
300 page PDF book from DoD on changing patterns in information and power: "Power to the Edge is the latest book in the Information Age Transformation Series, and in a sense it completes the articulation of a vision of DoD Transformation and an approach to achieving it. " 9:30:18 AM
Ray Ozzie's Weblog
: "If you're doing a critical process in e-mail now, you won't be doing it there for long." 12:32:09 AM
Online NewsHour: General Zinni's View
: Excellent interview. "I do think we can't do business as usual. We can't just stay the course and keep doing the same things. We're going to have to take some dramatic action to internationalize this effort to put qualified, highly trained Iraqi security forces in the field, to generate an economy and a level of business that gets jobs on the street. Unfortunately it's going to cost us $87 billion and probably more down the road. But time can run against us in this and it has to be executed more quickly. I would like to see more people on the ground. I think you need a Bremer and a Bremer-like team at every provincial level, maybe 18 teams down to the grassroots level. You can't leave it to a battalion commander to run the local school or to the run the local city council or village council. You need a political, economic, security, humanitarian piece at every level. " 12:26:35 AM
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
FBI fails to re-create anthrax production
: "Two years after the nation's deadly anthrax attacks, the FBI still has not been able to re-create the process the killer used to produce the substance sent through the U.S. mail, a top FBI official said Monday." The FBI is also backing away from its designation of Stephen Hatfill as a "person of interest." 10:33:08 PM
Saudi Arabia's Overrated Oil Weapon
: A conservative's revaluation of Saudi power. "When the American political community realizes that the world economy is not in Saudi hands as much as the Saudi economy is in the hands of Western oil buyers, Washington can stop being afraid of the Saudis. .. there is no strategic imperative for the United States to reduce its "dependency" on imported oil by reducing oil consumption. We should make sure that world oil-production capacity stays comfortably ahead of world demand for oil. We should also ensure that there are large stockpiles of oil to improve the short-term balance of supply and demand. And we need to stop feeling dependent when we are not. These measures are all feasible and have moderate costs. " 6:53:41 PM
Internet & ICTs for Social Justice and Development News - APC
: "The majority of the community development workers (CDWs) interviewed were found to be accessing a wide range of development information disseminated through the WorldSpace from the C-MAD (Community Mobilization Against Desertification) offices. They shared the information with local communities mostly through listening to the audio channels and downloading." 5:32:28 PM