|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog
Saturday, November 01, 2003
The madness of Kim Jong Il: Extensive review of the history and the current politics. "Shin spoke bitterly of the years he had lost in the North, yet even as he described Kim Jong Il's cynicism and called him an evil, controlling micromanager, most of his anger was reserved for South Korean leaders Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun, who have abandoned a half-century of hostility to the north and established a rapprochement with Pyongyang. Shin has written a memoir of his kidnapping and sojourn in the North. It is entitled Our Escape Isn't Over Yet because, he said, 'South Korea is now sympathising with North Korea, and it's a dangerous situation.' ..
To speak of North Korea under the Kim dynasty simply as a Communist state is insufficient. In recent decades, references to Marxism and Leninism have steadily faded from its propaganda. Marx and Lenin were not Korean, and North Korea's ruling ideology, Juche - which means self-reliance - is predicated on being independent from the claims or destinies of other revolutions. In its most obvious form, the Juche idea is a claim of radical autonomy: absolute political and economic independence for the Korean nation without any desire or need for traffic of any kind with other peoples. ..
Refugees' stories are often treated with suspicion, but in the late 90s, as the number of malnourished North Koreans in northeast China swelled from the thousands to the tens of thousands and then into the hundreds of thousands, their accounts of the conditions that had driven them to risk their lives and escape had a cumulative authority that defied disbelief. What's more, the fact that they were there - that so many had got out - was, in itself, evidence of a radical breakdown inside North Korea. ..
The passion North Koreans felt for Kim Il Sung, which was genuine, however misplaced and deluded, does not appear to have been transferred to Kim Jong Il, who is remote and secretive and lacks his father's populist touch. He has only once spoken before the general public, at a military parade in 1992, when he was heard to blurt out: 'Glory to the heroic Korean People's Army.'..
[Defector] Kang, who now works as a newspaper reporter in the South, regarded both the fanfare of the sunshine policy and the caution of Roh Moo Hyun's peace-and-prosperity approach as hopelessly naive, and as something worse than appeasement, more like capitulation. If the issue is protecting the South's pocketbook, he said, then what about the South Korean stock market's 5 per cent plunge when North Korea admitted to having a nuclear-weapons programme, and the enormous defence expenditures on both sides of the DMZ? .. After the UN human-rights vote [in which South Korea did not participate], he wondered, 'Why doesn't this government think about the situation it will face after unification when North Koreans ask why it didn't care about human rights?'" 9:25:25 PM
Arms and Aims: The Art of War vs. the Craft of Occupation: "The American forces have often been operating on the basis of inadequate or bad intelligence, according to a report that was recently released by the Center for Army Lessons Learned, a study group in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The United States has 69 intelligence teams in Iraq, but they produce about 30 reports a day, about one-quarter as many as they should, the study found. The Army continues to suffer from a severe shortage of interpreters, and many of those it does employ are barely competent, the report says. ..
Lawrence J. Korb, who was an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, is less optimistic. "Pretending things are better than they are, that's what worries me, that they don't seem to face up to it," he said in a telephone interview, referring to the Bush administration. "Before you can deal with the problem, you've got to recognize what the problem is."" 10:35:02 AM
: Review of ICT development in universities and local software development in Cebu, Philippines (now second to Manila in ICT activity). 9:52:41 AM
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