|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog
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