Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog


daily link  Saturday, January 31, 2004


Slouching toward Big Brother: Excellent summary of the current situation from Bruce Schneier, a well regarded security analyst.  Again, we are reminded that in December, "a provision slipped into an appropriations bill allowing the FBI to obtain personal financial information from banks, insurance companies, travel agencies, real estate agents, stockbrokers, the U.S. Postal Service, jewelry stores, casinos and car dealerships without a warrant--because they're all construed as financial institutions."  When will the mainstream media pick up on this?

  11:43:08 PM  permalink  

SourceForge.net: Project Info - pennylender:  Some programmers are planning a global micro-lending system: "PennyLenders goal is to create a service that will allow any individual to loan/borrow money in a self-contained community-based network, irrespective of economic status, location, or age and without the interference of a central controlling Bank."  No working code yet.  11:30:57 PM  permalink  

Gold and Silver Nanotubes: "Scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) in Israel have produced a new type of nanotube made of gold or silver. These nanotubes, which are produced at room temperature, don't have the mechanical strength of the more common carbon nanotubes. But they have unique electrical and optical properties, making them ideally suited "to form the basis for future nanosensors, catalysts and chemistry-on-a-chip systems.""  11:04:58 PM  permalink  

GBIF portal: "The purpose of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is to make the world's primary data on biodiversity freely and universally available via the Internet. .. Technically, GBIF is evolving to be an interoperable network of biodiversity databases and information technology tools using web services and Grid technologies. In the near term, GBIF will provide a global metadata registry of the available biodiversity data with open interfaces. Anyone can then use it to construct thematic portals and specilised search facilities. Building on the contents of this registry, GBIF will provide its own central portal that enables simultaneous queries against biodiversity databases held by distributed, worldwide sources. In the long term, molecular, genetic, ecological and ecosystem level databases can be linked to the system. These will facilitate and enable data mining of unprecedented utility and scientific merit. "  Related: MaNIS: "With support from the National Science Foundation, seventeen North American institutions and their collaborators are developing a network of distributed databases of mammal specimen data. "

Several related sources are indexed at http://www.learningsite.com/

  10:59:34 PM  permalink  

Sensors of the World, Unite!: Good intro to this topic, quoting an Alun Anderson Economist article, and providing other references.  "Another information revolution is emerging, driven by billions of tiny and intelligent sensors able to self-organize into scalable and fault-tolerant networks. Taken individually, these sensors have small brains, but using billions of them is an entirely other story."  10:53:57 PM  permalink  

Political Patterns on the WWW: Valdis Krebs updates last year's map of political books on Amazon, showing how nearly all "preach to the converted". "So, if you are working a 2004 political campaign what do you do with this information? Obviously you will not be successful in removing a reader from deep in one cluster and transplanting them into the other cluster. All you can do is focus on the edge nodes and the bridges."  10:51:26 PM  permalink  

Wireless Networks as a Low-Cost, Decentralized Alternative for the Developing World: "Krag's presentation describes the Wireless Roadshow plan: "By teaching the skills with hands-on training, and at the same time building wireless networks in the countries we visit, we hope not only to raise awareness and heighten skillsets, but also gain the experience necessary to build a central repository of documentation and tools, targeted specifically at the developing world."  Tomas Krag and Sebastian Büettrich wrote an O'Reilly introduction to  Wireless Mesh Networking .  10:39:08 PM  permalink  

Dowd: The Mirror Has Two Faces: "Ms. Rice argued that the U.S. was right to conclude that Saddam had W.M.D. and attack him because the dictator was not behaving rationally. But why did she think someone President Bush deemed "a madman" would behave rationally?..

Even Paul Wolfowitz observed last May that it was important not to assume that foes like Saddam "will be rational according to our definition of what is rational." Interviewed by Sam Tanenhaus for Vanity Fair, Mr. Wolfowitz said bad intelligence came from mirror imaging — assuming people would behave like us: "The kind of mistake that, in a sense, I think we made implicitly in assuming that anyone who was intelligent enough to fly an airplane wouldn't commit suicide with it."

Saddam's old lieutenants have said that the dictator did not admit his paucity of weapons because he wanted his Arab neighbors to see him as a great leader and he hoped to deter America from war.

Jerrold Post, a former C.I.A. psychological profiler who calls Saddam messianic but not irrational, speculates that he may have built a Potemkin arsenal after his conventional arsenal was decimated in the first Persian Gulf war. "If he came across as an impotent leader capitulating to the West," Dr. Post said, "he might have been pushed out of power or killed."

Besides, according to Dr. Kay, Saddam was both finagling and finagled. "Did he really think he had the stuff because scientists were scared to tell him he didn't?" wondered a G.O.P. foreign policy expert. ..

The moral of Vietnam was supposed to be that we would never again go to war without understanding the culture of our antagonists, or exaggerate their threat to us. ..

The White House will have a lot of explaining to do if Iraq exchanges one form of dictatorship for another, or if it takes on a fundamentalist Islamic cast that sets Iraqi women's rights back 40 years.

"These guys created the exact can of worms we tried to avoid," said a Bush 41 official. "Guess what? Baghdad is ours."  

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daily link  Friday, January 30, 2004


INTERNALMEMOS.COM - Internet's largest collection of corporate memos and internal communication: Amazing site.  In case you were ever tempted to put something in writing that you didn't want the world (and Google) to find...  10:39:37 PM  permalink  

McNamara speaks out: Excellent interview with Robert McNamara with explicit reference to Iraq.  "The United States is today the strongest power in the world, politically, economically and militarily, and I think it will continue to be so for decades ahead, if not for the whole century," he told me. "But I do not believe, with one qualification, that it should ever, ever use that power unilaterally -- the one qualification being the unlikely event we had to use it to defend the continental U.S., Alaska or Hawaii."  Article contains a list of his lessons from Vietnam, just as relevant today.  9:49:01 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, January 29, 2004


Project 25 (P25): Standards For Public Safety Radio Communications: "TIA is acting as a catalyst for the wireless industry to develop and maintain Public Safety standards for digital equipment and systems that will assist the life-saving and damage-control activities of first-responders at the scene of an emergency or disaster situation. This activity, known as Project 25 (P25), is supported by Industry, Government Agencies and Public Safety Communications Officials alike; including the Department of Homeland Security's National Communications System (NCS), the Department of Defense and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). ..

Recognizing the need for common standards for First Responders and Homeland Security/Emergency Response professionals, representatives from the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials International (APCO), the National Association of State Telecommunications Directors (NASTD), selected Federal Agencies and the National Communications System (NCS) established Project 25 (P25), a steering committee for selecting voluntary common system standards for digital public safety radio communications. TIA TR-8 facilitates such work through its role as the ANSI-accredited Standards Development Organization (SDO), and has developed in TR-8 the 102."  Many links to documents and discussion groups on that page and here.  Many other groups and projects are easy to find.

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Project MESA - Mobile Broadband for Public Safety: "Project MESA is an international partnership producing globally applicable technical specifications for digital mobile broadband technology, aimed initially at the sectors of public safety and disaster response."  4:26:41 PM  permalink  

2001 Budgets of Top 20 Think Tanks: In $m:

Organization
Actual Expenses
Rand Corporation
$ 169.0
Urban Institute
64.5
Heritage Foundation
33.5
Hoover Institute on War, Revolution, & Peace
30.9
Brookings Institution
30.2
Council on Foreign Relations
25.7
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
20.8
Center for Strategic and International Studies
16.9
American Enterprise Institute
16.3
Cato Institute
14.0
Russell Sage Foundation
14.0
Resources for the Future
12.0
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
7.7
Manhattan Institute
7.1
Hudson Institute
7.1
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
6.3
Institute for International Economics
5.7
Committee for Economic Development
4.4
National Center for Policy Analysis
5.2
Progressive Policy Institute
2.5

Source: IRS 990s for 2001.

  4:07:38 PM  permalink  

UNAMSIL: On The Edge Of Peace: "Remote personnel, incompatible computer gear, unreliable power and communications lines, and equipment-disabling lightning strikes are just some of the obstacles confronting the technology managers supporting the United Nations' peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone. Yet U.N. specialists in this rugged, war-ravaged land have found ways to keep the field reports, threat assessments and supply requests flowing between Freetown headquarters and the mission's most remote outposts. "  PDF with many pictures, sidebars, and tables available upon registration at the site.  3:54:13 PM  permalink  

FITTEST - WFP Fast IT & Telecommunications Emergency and Support Team: "ICT is the backbone of modern humanitarian work. It is important that all humanitarian workers in Iraq are aware of how to make proper use of radio telecommunications, particularly for organisational and personal security. The United Nations has a common services approach to this issue which includes all UN agencies and is extended to the NGO community."  This is the forward edge of the WFP FieldComms group. HIC - Photo Gallery of Iraq work and brochure online.   3:51:58 PM  permalink  

Africa: The Next Wide-Open Wireless Frontier: "Sub-Saharan Africa -- home to more than 650 million people, three-quarters of whom live on less than $2 per day -- has become the world's fastest-growing market for mobile-phone service. Last year alone, the number of mobile subscribers in the whole region shot up 37%, to 34.4 million, compared with a 32% rise in Eastern Europe, the No. 2 growth region, according to researcher Gartner Dataquest. ..

What makes Africa's mobile revolution especially significant is its potential economic impact. The World Bank forecasts sub-Saharan gross domestic product growth at 3.7% this year, and as much as a quarter of that could come from rising telecom penetration, says Leonard Waverman, an economics professor at the London Business School. Adds Pierre Guislain, a manager at the World Bank's Global Information & Communication Technologies Dept.: "Mobile has become a tool of economic empowerment." A classic example: Farmers in Senegal used their one mobile phone to find eggplant buyers in Dakar willing to pay three times the rate offered by local middlemen.

Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig [says] Within five years wireless networks in Africa will be as able to provide Net access as their wired cousins. And to get people linked to the Web, says Knott-Craig, "the cell phone will be Africa's PC."

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Transcript: David Kay at Senate hearing: Short, worth reading.  Highlights: "It turns out that we were all wrong, probably in my judgment, and that is most disturbing. We're also in a period in which we've had intelligence surprises in the proliferation area that go the other way. The case of Iran, a nuclear program that the Iranians admit was 18 years on, that we underestimated. And, in fact, we didn't discover it. It was discovered by a group of Iranian dissidents outside the country who pointed the international community at the location. The Libyan program recently discovered was far more extensive than was assessed prior to that.

There's a long record here of being wrong. There's a good reason for it, probably multiple reasons. Certainly proliferation is a hard thing to track, particularly in countries that deny easy and free access and don't have free and open societies. .. I  do believe we have to understand why reality turned out to be different than expectations and estimates. ..

I had innumerable analysts who came to me in apology that the world that we were finding was not the world that they had thought existed and that they had estimated. Reality on the ground differed in advance. And never -- not in a single case -- was the explanation, "I was pressured to do this." The explanation was very often, "The limited data we had led one to reasonably conclude this. I now see that there's another explanation for it." ..  I did not come across a single one that felt it had been, in the military term, "inappropriate command influence" that led them to take that position. ..

[Looting and] document destruction [in Iraq means] we're really not going to be able to prove beyond a truth the negatives and some of the positive conclusions that we're going to come to. There will be always unresolved ambiguity here. ..

In my judgment, based on the work that has been done to this point of the Iraq Survey Group, and in fact, that I reported to you in October, Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of [U.N.] Resolution 1441. .. We have discovered hundreds of cases, based on both documents, physical evidence and the testimony of Iraqis, of activities that were prohibited under the initial U.N. Resolution 687 and that should have been reported under 1441, with Iraqi testimony that not only did they not tell the U.N. about this, they were instructed not to do it and they hid material."

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daily link  Wednesday, January 28, 2004


UNDP and Microsoft Announce Technology Partnership in Developing Nations: "The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Microsoft Corp. today announced a technology partnership to create and implement information and communications technology projects that will help developing countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals. ..

The alliance will draw on the resources of Microsoft's Unlimited Potential program, the company's global initiative to deliver computer literacy and job skills training to underserved communities.  .. In addition, Microsoft and UNDP have agreed to work together in support of UNDP's Southern Africa Capacity Initiative (SACI). In this sphere, Microsoft and UNDP will explore innovative opportunities to use technology to build capacity, facilitate e-government initiatives,and improve the delivery of basic services in countries most adversely affected by the HIV and AIDS pandemic. ..

Microsoft and the UNDP have already collaborated on a pilot project to provide technology access and skills training at 16 regional centers in Afghanistan, in the aftermath of the country's military and political upheaval. The training centers, located in Kabul and surrounding areas, will help build a skilled pool of IT professionals in a country where Internet skills and services technology had once been suppressed. It is projected that the centers will provide training to nearly 12,000 Afghan citizens annually. ..

Microsoft has committed $1 billion in cash, software, curriculum and technology assistance over the next five years to Unlimited Potential and other efforts to help reduce the global digital divide. Since May 2003, the company has made grants of cash and software totaling nearly $50 million to more than 150 programs in 45 countries."

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Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage: "Dutch firm Philips Electronics said on Monday it was preparing to mass-produce a slim, book-sized display panel onto which consumers could download newspapers and magazines -- then roll up and put away. The 5-inch display, which can show detailed images, can be rolled up into a pen-sized holder. .. Philips said it had created the displays using electronics circuits made of plastics, which power a monochrome display created with technology from E Ink, a privately-held U.S. company from Cambridge, Massachusetts. "We can produce this in batches. It's no longer a research project. We're going to build a pilot line that should be ready in 2005 to make one million displays a year," a spokesman at Philips Research said. Europe's largest maker of consumer electronics and lighting has already shown prototypes of a glass-based E Ink display which will be in the shops later this year. That sort of screen, used in pocket computers, can cost tens of dollars apiece."  E-Ink has been under development for years. It requires much less power than LCD panels and works better outdoors or using ambient light, so it's likely to have wide application where power is short.  Black and white only for now.  12:38:08 PM  permalink  

New Explorer hole could be devastating: "Explorer 6 users (and possibly users of earlier versions) could be fooled into downloading what look like safe files but are in fact whatever the author wishes them to be - including executables.  The previous spoofing problem allowed Explorer users to think they were visiting one site when in fact they were visiting somewhere entirely different. The implications are not only troublesome, but Microsoft’s failure to include a fix for the problem in its January patches has led many to believe it cannot be prevented.  If the same is true for this spoofing issue, then it will only be a matter of time before someone who thinks they are visiting one website and downloading one file will in fact be visiting somewhere entirely different and downloading whatever that site’s owner decides. ..

We also have reason to believe there is no fix. It may be that today’s flaw is identical to one found nearly three years ago by Georgi Guninski in which double-clicking a link in Explorer led you to believe you were downloading a text file but were in fact downloading a .hta file.  Guninski informed Microsoft in April 2001. The fact that the issue has been born afresh suggests rather heavily that the software giant has no way of preventing this from happening. ..

So how bad could it get? Just off the top of our heads - suppose someone set up a fake Hutton Inquiry site today with a link to the report’s summaries - how many people across the UK would download a worm this afternoon? And imagine the computers it would end up on. "

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daily link  Monday, January 26, 2004


Quantum Dots and Programmable Matter: Quick intro to an amazing future for materials science.  With reference to Wired article and FAQ:  "A quantum dot is any device capable of confining electrons in three dimensions, in a space small enough that their quantum (wavelike) behavior dominates over their classical (particle-like) behavior.  Under cryogenic conditions, this typically occurs with dimensions of 1000 nm (0.001 mm) or less.  At room temperature, confinement spaces of 20-30 nm or smaller are required.

Once the electrons are confined, they repel one another and also obey the Pauli Exclusion Principle, which forbids any two electrons from having the same quantum state.  Thus, the electrons in a quantum dot will form shells and orbitals highly reminiscent of (though larger than) the ones in an atom, and will in fact exhibit many of the optical, electrical, thermal, and (to some extent) chemical properties of an atom.  This electron cloud is therefore referred to as an artificial atom.  ..

Q13: How is programmable matter made?

A13: Current forms of programmable matter fall into three types: colloidal films, bulk crystals, and quantum dot chips which confine electrons electrostatically.  Quantum dots can be grown chemically as nanoparticles of semiconductor surrounded by an insulating layer.  These particles can then be deposited onto a substrate, such as a semiconductor wafer patterned with metal electrodes, or they can be crystalized into bulk solids by a variety of methods.  Either substance can be stimulated with electricity or light (e.g., lasers) in order to change its properties.

Electrostatic quantum dots are patterns of conductor (usually a metal such as gold) laid down on top of a quantum well, such that varying the electrical voltage on the conductors can drive electrons into and out of a confinement region in the well -- the quantum dot.  This method offers numerous advantages over nanoparticle ("colloidal") films, including a greater control over the artificial atom's size, composition, and shape.  Numerous quantum dots can be placed on the same chip, forming a semiconductor material with a programmable dopant layer near its surface.

Rolling such chips into cylindrical fibers produces "wellstone," a hypothetical woven solid whose bulk properties are broadly programmable.  ..

Q21: What is programmable matter good for?

A21: Almost anything.  It can improve the efficient collection, storage, distribution, and use of energy from environmental sources.  It can be used to create novel sensors and computing devices, probably including quantum computers.  It can create materials which are not available by other means, and which change their apparent composition on demand.  Currently, the design of new materials is a time- and labor-intensive process; with programmable matter, it becomes a real-time issue, similar to the design and debugging of software.  ..

Single-electron transistors, a form of quantum dot, were first proposed by A.A. Likharev in 1984 and constructed by Gerald Dolan and Theodore Fulton at Bell Laboratories in 1987.  The first semiconductor SET, a type of quantum dot sometimes referred to as a designer atom, was invented by Marc Kastner and John Scott-Thomas at MIT in 1989.  The term "artificial atom" was coined by Kastner in 1993.  Wil McCarthy was the first to use the term "programmable matter" in connection with quantum dots, and to propose a mechanism for the precise, 3D control of large numbers of quantum dots inside a bulk material.  The most interesting forms of this device or substance -- known as "quantum dot fiber" or "wellstone" -- are not produceable using circa 2003 technology, although related products may be.  The term "wellstone" was coined by McCarthy's business associate, Gary E. Snyder. "

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Maestro Headquarters: "Maestro is a public version of the science operations tool for the 2003 Mars Exploration Rover mission. On this website, you can download a scaled-down version of the program that NASA scientists use to operate Spirit and Opportunity. During the mission, updates will be released on this site containing real data from Mars that you can add to your copy of Maestro."  Looks like a cool geeky edutainment program.  The site is a nice example of Plone in action.  4:34:15 PM  permalink  

Community Enabler: "What is Community Enabler? Powerful, feature rich online Content Management and Collaboration Framework developed using the Zope application server and the CMF Plone portal "  3:47:55 PM  permalink  

Bhutan VoIP Project Report: "A pilot project to use wireless and VoIP technologies to deliver communication services to rural areas in Bhutan, a small Himalayan Kingdom, was completed with encouraging results. Once initial problems with radio interference from other sources were solved the 802.11b radio network became reliable. This allowed the VoIP equipment to be tuned to accommodate the more variable nature of a wireless network as compared to a wired one. International calls through the PSTN were hampered by a slightly non standard R2 protocol spoken by the local switch. This underscores the importance of adhering to open standards when many subsystems must work together."  3:44:32 PM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, January 25, 2004


Whole Earth: New Feature Articles:  WER is closing down.  Their site still has a collection of recent articles, on the Singularity.  11:41:21 PM  permalink  

Best Western hotels to install free high-speed Internet chainwide: "Best Western International Inc. will offer free high-speed Internet in all 2,300 of its hotels in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, its chief executive said Friday.  "It's the No. 1 amenity requested by virtually everyone, especially businesspeople, said Tom Higgins, CEO and president of the Phoenix-based hotel chain. "High-speed Internet for free is going to be where it's at."

Only about 10 to 15% of Best Western hotels currently have high-speed access, but Higgins said it will be available chainwide by September.  "Come Sept. 1, when you see a Best Western sign, you'll know they have it. That's the comfort we want to provide for the traveling public," he said.

In each of the hotels, at least 15% of the guest rooms and public areas will have high-speed Internet access. The company will also make wireless cards available at the front desk for guests who are in rooms without hard wiring.  Additionally, the hotel's corporate office will make a toll-free number available around-the-clock for guests who have difficulty connecting to the Internet.

Higgins predicts that other hotels will also be forced to offer free service eventually because travelers have become so dependent on e-mail and Internet services. "Everybody is going to be here. It's just a matter of how soon they're going to get there," he said. "

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Sp@m ShEn@nig@nS!!: That Gibberish in Your In-Box May Be Good News: Are filters beating spam?  Good summary article.  11:09:55 PM  permalink  

Friedman on root causes of Islamic terrorism, and Iraq: Predictable, but concise: "My hope is that Iowa will embolden the Blair Democrats to shuck off their intimidation, by Mr. Bush and Mr. Dean, and press their case. It is the only way to build a national consensus for what's going to be a long cold-war-like struggle to strengthen the forces of moderation and weaken the forces of violent intolerance within the Arab-Muslim world — which is what the real war on terrorism is about. To be successful, Democrats will need a candidate who understands three things (which Messrs. Kerry, Lieberman, Clark and Edwards do):

First, this notion, put forward by Mr. Dean and Al Gore, that the war in Iraq has diverted us from the real war on "terrorists" is just wrong. There is no war on "terrorism" that does not address the misgovernance and pervasive sense of humiliation in the Muslim world. Sure, Al Qaeda and Saddam pose different threats, Will Marshall [of the Progressive Policy Institute] notes, "but they emerge from the same pathology of widespread repression, economic stagnation and fear of cultural decline." Building a decent Iraq is very much part of the war on terrorism.

Second, sometimes smashing someone in the face is necessary to signal others that they will be held accountable for the intolerance they incubate. Removing the Taliban and Saddam sent that message to every government in the area.

Third, the Iraq war may have created more hatred of the U.S., but it has also triggered a hugely important dialogue among Arabs and Muslims about the necessity of reform."  Conclusion: "The war of ideas among Arabs and Muslims can only be fought and won by their own forces of moderation, and those forces can only emerge from a growing middle class with a sense of dignity and hope for the future. Young people who grow up in a context of real economic opportunity, basic rule of law and the right to speak and write what they please don't usually want to blow up the world. They want to be part of it. "

  10:59:52 PM  permalink  

A Tougher War for the U.S. Is One of Legitimacy:  Excellent essay by Robert Kagan, with surprising support from Kissinger:  "Opinion polls taken before, during and after the war have shown two peoples living on separate strategic and ideological planets. More than 80 percent of Americans believe that war may achieve justice; less than half of Europeans believe that a war — any war — can ever be just. Americans and Europeans disagree about the role of international law and international institutions, and about the nebulous and abstract yet powerful question of international legitimacy.

Americans will find that they cannot ignore this problem. The struggle to define and obtain international legitimacy in this new era may prove to be among the critical contests of our time, in some ways as significant in determining the future of the international system and America's place in it as any purely material measure of power and influence.

Americans for much of the past three centuries have considered themselves the vanguard of a worldwide liberal revolution. Their foreign policy from the beginning has not been only about defending and promoting their material national interests. "We fight not just for ourselves but for all mankind," Benjamin Franklin declared of the American Revolution, and whether or not that has always been true, most Americans have always wanted to believe that it is true ..

The Clinton administration, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, wrote in a famous essay in January 2000, had failed to focus on the "national interest" and instead had addressed itself to "humanitarian interests" or the interests of "the international community." The Bush administration, by contrast, would take a fresh look at all treaties, obligations and alliances and re-evaluate them in terms of America's "national interest." ..

Besides being an analytical error, the enunciation of this "realist" approach by the sole superpower in a unipolar era was a serious foreign policy error. The global hegemon cannot proclaim to the world that it will be guided only by its own definition of its "national interest." This is precisely what even America's closest friends fear: that the United States will wield its unprecedented vast power only for itself. In her essay, Ms. Rice derided "the belief that the United States is exercising power legitimately only when it is doing so on behalf of someone or something else." But for the rest of the world, what other source of legitimacy can there be? ..

"To be sure," she argued, "there is nothing wrong with doing something that benefits all humanity, but that is, in a sense, a second-order effect."  But could even America's closest friends ever be persuaded that an America always pursuing its self-interest could be relied upon to serve their interests, too, as some kind of "second-order effect"? ..

No one has made this argument more powerfully, and more presciently, than that quintessential realist, Henry A. Kissinger.  The task in Iraq, Mr. Kissinger argued in an essay, was not just to win the war but to convey "to the rest of the world that our first pre-emptive war has been imposed by necessity and that we seek the world's interests, not exclusively our own." America's "special responsibility, as the most powerful nation in the world," he said, "is to work toward an international system that rests on more than military power — indeed, that strives to translate power into cooperation. Any other attitude will gradually isolate and exhaust us."  ..

Right now many Europeans are betting that the risks from the "axis of evil," from terrorism and tyrants, will never be as great as the risk of an American Leviathan unbound. Perhaps it is in the nature of a postmodern Europe to make such a judgment. But now may be the time for the wisest heads in Europe, including those living in the birthplace of Pascal, to begin asking what will result if that wager proves wrong."

  10:54:26 PM  permalink  

The untamed madrasas: "In January 2002, Musharraf gave a televised speech promising to combat extremism. One aim was to bring all of Pakistan's madrasas, or Islamic schools, into the mainstream. Many now cultivate radical thinking and act as recruiting and indoctrination centers for jihadi terrorists. Declaring that no institutions in Pakistan would be above the law, Musharraf's government promised that it would register all madrasas to obtain a clear idea of which groups were running which schools, insist that all madrasas adopt a government curriculum by the end of 2002, and stop madrasas and mosques from being used as centers for the spread of politically and religiously inflammatory statements and publications.

Two years later, no presidential ordinance to regulate madrasas has been promulgated, and the government openly assures the clergy that it will not interfere in madrasas' internal affairs. Most madrasas in Pakistan remain unregistered. .. No national curriculum has been developed for the madrasas. The board has set up three “model madrasas” teaching government-approved versions of the standard madrasa course along with subjects like mathematics, general science, computers and English. But together these three schools have only about 300 students, while as many as 1.5 million students attend unregulated madrasas.

Most important, Musharraf has yet to curb the abuse of madrasas and mosques by religious extremists. During the 2002 national elections, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, or MMA, an umbrella group of six religious parties, used these institutions for its anti-American and pro-Taliban campaign. Some mullahs, including leaders of political parties that Musharraf has banned, continue to use them to propagate an extremist Islamic agenda.  .. The government has done very little to implement tougher controls on financing of madrasas and extremist groups despite obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373. It even removed the issue of terrorism funding from draft regulations on money laundering.

There is also no evidence of any focused and systematic campaign against homegrown extremists. The government has, it is true, apprehended foreigners with links to Al Qaeda and turned them over to U.S. authorities, but Al Qaeda was only officially banned in Pakistan in March 2003. In his time in power, Musharraf has concentrated hardest on legitimizing and consolidating his military-backed rule. The government has been hesitant to take any step against the religious right because it has needed the MMA's support in Parliament for measures supporting its rule."  10:43:52 PM  permalink  

Nuclear chief tells of black market: "The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei.. says in today's issue of Der Spiegel: "It's obvious that the international export controls have completely failed in recent years. A nuclear black market has emerged, driven by fantastic cleverness. Designs are drawn in one country, centrifuges are produced in another, they are then shipped via a third country and there is no clarity about the end user. Expert nuclear businessmen, unscrupulous firms, and perhaps also state bodies are involved. Libya and Iran made extensive use of this network."

He said at the weekend that his experts were working with Pakistan to try to crack the nuclear black market, the scale of which has stunned the IAEA and the western intelligence services investigating the Libyan and Iranian nuclear programmes.  ..

The IAEA confirmed on Friday that Libya had used the black market to buy equipment for turning uranium into weapons-grade material and had acquired designs for a nuclear warhead. .. Much of the equipment seen in Libya after Col Gadafy announced last month that he was renouncing weapons of mass destruction is of similar design to Iran's extensive uranium enrichment technology, all based on Pakistani designs derived from a 30-year-old European design."

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Referendum planned for Kurdistan?: "Under the plan, the Kurds will be asked to back the creation of an independent state, despite pledges from their political leaders that they would not secede from a future federal Iraq.  From Dohuk on the northern border with Turkey to Kirkuk more than 200 miles to the south, branches of the Kurdish Referendum Committee are fanning out across what they claim is Iraqi Kurdistan, whipping up support for the vote. At first, they are merely canvassing signatures in favour of a referendum, but large demonstrations will follow."

  9:55:27 PM  permalink  

Saddam WMD material hidden in Syria: "In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Dr Kay, who last week resigned as head of the Iraq Survey Group, said that he had uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year's war to overthrow Saddam.  "We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons," he said. "But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved."  ..

A Syrian official last night said: "These allegations have been raised many times in the past by Israeli officials, which proves that they are false."

  9:52:58 PM  permalink  

Google Deskbar: Very nice tool for a taskbar form for Google searches with a popup window for results.  And, it's extensible:  "If you have sites you search frequently, you can add custom searches to the Google Deskbar menu."  9:41:40 PM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, January 24, 2004


TheYoke: Simple Perl RSS Aggregator, designed for command line execution. Source code online.  Many others listed in Google Directory of News Readers  8:21:03 AM  permalink  

BlogAfrica: Interesting effort to teach and spread blogging in Africa, with a companion site as a Catalog for blogs in action.  12:54:31 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, January 23, 2004


Google unveils rival to Friendster:  "Google quietly released a new online social networking service Thursday .. Called Orkut, the service allows users to link up with friends of their friends and aims to ``increase the overall satisfaction of social life.'' It is much like the hot Sunnyvale online dating service Friendster -- but possibly with more features.  The launch comes just three months after Google entered talks to acquire Friendster -- reportedly for $30 million -- and was rebuffed.

The project was developed by a Google engineer [named Orkut] and a few of his colleagues, and is still in testing mode, according to Google spokeswoman Eileen Rodriguez. She said Google encouraged its launch but otherwise is taking a hands-off approach. .. For the time being, Google says it has no plans to use the personal information supplied by Orkut users for searches.  Like Friendster, Orkut  only accepts people invited by someone already on the network."

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Micro-Sized Hard Drives: "Colorado-based Cornice has introduced a 1-inch, 2GB drive it calls a "storage element." Several consumer electronics manufacturers already use Cornice's previous-generation storage elements, including PortalPlayer, SigmaTel, and Texas Instruments.  The new 2GB model is aimed at portable video, multimedia, and GPS applications, and has a unit price of $70 in quantities of 100,000.  Like the previous Cornice drives, the 2GB contains fewer parts than many comparable products.."  They expect to  increase in capacity at a rate of about 50 percent per year.  Toshiba and Hitachi also have .85 and 1 inch drives with 1-4 Gb.  8:26:59 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, January 22, 2004


Yesterday, They Would Have Died: Why were murder rates going down? "[Dr. Anthony] Harris had an epiphany: The United States was at least as violent as ever; it's just that fewer people were dying.

Harris spent the next few years testing his theory, and last year he published his findings in an academic journal called Homicide Studies, in which he concluded, in essence, that trauma care had improved dramatically in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, when doctors came home trained to handle the worst of injuries. More importantly, every day since then doctors have been constantly testing and perfecting diagnostic and therapeutic techniques, aided by increasingly remarkable advances in technology. In the mid-'80s they lucked into CT machines, capable of taking 3-D images of soft body tissues; now they can capture art-like pictures of the entire body in seconds. Ultrasound machines, used to visualize abdominal injuries, are no bigger than a beer cooler and can be moved instantly from station to station. Artificial blood is on the way. So is a unique type of bandage that can be slapped on a lacerated liver to stop it from bleeding immediately.

The pace of technological progress in the field is such that crime victims of a decade ago were victims too of bad timing: Their chances of living would have enormously improved if they'd had the good fortune to suffer their misfortune today. Harris's statistics on the subject are staggering. He determined that without advances in emergency response and trauma care there would have been 45,000 to 70,000 homicides each year for the past five years instead of 15,000 to 20,000. Back in 1964, 17 percent of assaults were with a gun, and 16 percent of those were fatal. In 1999, the year Ferguson was stabbed, 19 percent of assaults were with a gun, yet only 5 percent were fatal. "  2:53:20 PM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, January 21, 2004


A CIO talks about IT governance: "You may share my initial lack of appreciation for governance. Over time, I've come to understand that a significant portion of a CIO's job involves standardization, training and certification, and management through policy, notifications, audits, and approvals. These may not be as sexy as building the next big system, but they ultimately are what will determine whether the large IT organization succeeds or fails. "  Windley's blog is a good source for CIO info.  12:22:21 PM  permalink  

First Mile Solutions:  An MIT spinoff using roving wireless internet access points.  The "Internet Village Motoman" project operates today in Cambodia.  10:29:21 AM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, January 20, 2004


NanoBioConvergence, fusion of nanotechnology and biotechnology: Interesting site for non-profit about applications of nanotech in the Life Sciences. Presentations and content are available for download.

  4:41:12 PM  permalink  

BP awards $1.95 million to Stanford University's Program on Energy and Sustainable Development: "The BP Foundation awarded a three-year, $1.95 million gift to Stanford University for a research program to support the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at the Stanford Institute for International Studies (SIIS). With the gift, the BP Foundation joins the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., as a core sponsor of the program. "This new partnership with BP will accelerate research in several areas, including the design and operation of market-based policies to address the threats of global warming," said Program Director David Victor. "  11:55:03 AM  permalink  

Sunslates solar electric roofing tile, output 1 kW per 100 sq feet: "Sunslates® allow the roof of your home to serve as both a roof and a power plant simultaneously. A typical installation of 216 Sunslates® (about 300 square feet / 28 square meters) will cover from 60 to 80% of your power needs. The roof is installed by your local roofer and the electrical work is done by your local electrician. "  11:52:06 AM  permalink  

George Lakoff political ideas:  A cognitive scientist from Berkeley that offers advice to Dean and others:  ""We have a metaphor of the nation as family," Lakoff explains. Within that family are two types of parents, two models. Lakoff views the conservatives as the strict father model and the progressives as the nurturing parent.

"The strict father family has a background assumption," Lakoff says of the conservative approach. "The world is a dangerous place. It's a difficult place. And kids are born bad and have to be made good." The strict father model, to offer just one applied example, would not allow for social programs because they offer unearned rewards. Within this model, the very notion of such a program – an unearned reward – would be immoral because it would not serve to raise the "child" to be self-reliant.

The nurturant parent, on the other hand, Lakoff writes, believes "that children are born good and should be kept that way." The two core ideas to the nurturing parent are empathy and responsibility. Lakoff emphasizes that the empathy component within the nurturing model should not be interpreted as weakness.  "The nurturant parent is neither permissive nor weak in being empathetic. Rather empathy-carried-out requires responsibility, both personal and social. Responsibility implies strength, competence, and promoting the value of both personal and social responsibility in others."

The key factor of these two models, as it applies to Howard Dean, is that according to Lakoff, "Most Americans have versions of both worldviews … many people use both models – in different parts of their lives."   Lakoff believes that either element within the swing voter can be excited. ..

Lakoff thinks [conservatives] have created the notion that they are representative of morality and liberals are not. "Liberals have morality but have not been able to articulate it," he says of their language.  Conservatives, Lakoff believes, have spent millions of dollars and 40 years to develop a language to convey their ideas. The language, exemplified in such terms as "tax relief" and "partial birth abortion" brings with it a moral interpretation that the Democrats have not been able to counter.

Lakoff uses tax relief to explain. By substituting the word "relief" for "cuts" when talking about Bush's tax policies, the Republicans are able to associate a sense of morality with their agenda.  "If you have relief there has to be affliction, an afflicted party," Lakoff says. Once the notion of affliction is activated, even if unconsciously, the parties at play are assigned their roles. The party that relieves the affliction is a hero, while that which attempts to thwart the relief is a villain."  Recently some Democrats have been referring to deficits as a "Bush tax" to reverse the analogy.

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daily link  Monday, January 19, 2004


Quiz: Is Your Project at Risk for Disaster?: " three business school professors describe a continuum of risk onto which they say every project falls. Take this quiz, created by Baseline, to find out what risks your project faces"  11:43:16 PM  permalink  

Bush to Portray Libya as an Example: "Whatever the source of the concessions, the example of force used against Iraq has become part of the public mindset.   Western diplomats report that at a recent soccer match involving Saadi el-Qaddafi, Colonel Qaddafi's soccer-playing son, fans from the opposing side chanted "Saadi, Saadi, son of the ruler, your fate will be the fate of Uday." The phrase — it rhymes in Arabic — refers to one of the sons of Mr. Hussein who was killed in an American raid."  11:41:37 PM  permalink  

Vivisimo Clustering - automatic categorization and meta-search software: Interesting software with neat demo on web search.  11:32:05 PM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, January 18, 2004


Internet Users in China Number Nearly 80 Million; there were only 620,000 Chinese Internet users in 1997.  These numbers are from the China Internet Network Information Center. Pew says the US has 126 m users; other put Japan at 100m.  A Frost & Sullivan analyst thinks the China figure is reasonable, and the Chinese market has the potential to displace both Japan and the United States, which are reaching their limits in terms of possible new users.  "If you are looking at a 10- to 15-year time frame, I would say China and India are probably going to account for half of all Internet usage in the world."  11:20:49 PM  permalink  

New Zealand News - Americans need to question their style of democracy: "In contrast [to the US], Australia has designed a system that addresses and eases these concerns.  With a transparency that should be the gold standard by which all democracies conduct themselves, it made the software running its electoral system completely open to public scrutiny.  Although designed by a private company, drafts as well as the finished software code were posted on the internet for all to see and evaluate.  This ruins one American election official's comment that no country in the world has the rigorous certification and testing standards used in the US. "  10:39:26 AM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, January 17, 2004


Due Diligence: Great commentary on Silicon Valley: "The Next Big Thing is a narrative we lay on top of the events after they happen, when we make our myths of the FairChildren, Steve and Steve, and kids from Cham-bana who changed the world. Heros, villains, goats, motives, plot points, morals of the story. All a mirage, induced by survivorship bias.

The Next Big Thing sneaks up from behind while you're trying to do your work, kicks your ass, walks over you, and either rifles your pockets or drops gold into your hands. If it's gold, they write a story about it one day. The others you never hear about, unless you live here and know them personally Galahad knew what he was looking for, we don't. Anyone tells you different, you're talking to a liar."  His own history, including Apple, Kalieda, and Compuserve, illustrates the point.

  10:57:18 PM  permalink  

Why Multimedia Publishing is a Crock: A 1991 piece from an Apple engineer on why "multimedia" would fail and networks would win.  Funny reading both the good (salience vs production values) and  bad now: "Where would such a network come from? While the current Internet is a harbinger, it’s too hard to use, is tied to desktop machinery, and has the wrong economic structure. One of the requirements for progress is more bandwidth, which enables users to send higher volumes of information in shorter periods of time. The proposed NREN (National Research and Education Network) high-bandwidth backbone (powerful computers connected by high-speed communications lines) has the problem of being overtly subsidized and controlled by government, which is unlikely to lead to a market structure — and it seems unwise to entrust the bureaucrats that gave us NASA and DOE with the potential core of an information society."  10:50:28 PM  permalink  

Cell Phone Cameras Share Blotchy Moments: "Tens of millions of these less-than perfect pictures were snapped and e-mailed from cell phones in the US during 2003, the first full year such services were available. News organizations are publishing cell photos from their readers to help cover stories. And an untold number of mobile phone snapshots are being posted daily to "moblogs," a visual form of the online journals better known as Web logs, or blogs. ..

Of the roughly 75 million camera phones shipped worldwide in 2003, only 6 million went to the United States, compared with more than 35 million to Japan, according to Strategy Analytics Ltd., a British consulting firm. Likewise, North America accounted for just 1.7 million of the world's 24 million "active" users of camera phones, compared with a combined 21.6 million in Japan and South Korea. ..

Though one- and two-megapixel camera phones like those available overseas are expected here this year, none of the handsets now sold in the United States offer better than 0.3 megapixels, less than a third of the resolution of the lowest-end standalone digital camera. ..

To share picture messages with other cell phone users [rather than email or moblogs], those people must all be signed up with the same wireless service. Rival carriers have not reached any deals to interconnect their services."

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Poor Nations Eye Western Outsourcing: "The tech research firm Gartner Inc. predicts that the offshore outsourcing trend will result in at least one in every 10 U.S. technology jobs moving overseas by the end of this year.

India gets a huge amount of that work but also has set up so-called centers of excellence in Mongolia, Mauritius and Nepal to help those countries develop software skills, understand international business practices and enhance education. At the Hyderabad summit, Kamal Thapa, Nepal's minister for information technology and communication, said the Himalayan kingdom is laying fiber-optic cables along highways and liberalizing investment rules to attract foreign companies. Mongolia's infrastructure minister, Byamba Jigjid, said a software park has been built in the capital, Ulan Bator, to house companies that provide services to Western firms .. "We are small. But we have a young work force well skilled in information and communication technologies," Abdul Moyeen Khan, science and information technology minister for Bangladesh"

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Information Patterns - Toucan Navigate: "Toucan Navigate is the Geographic Information System (GIS) for users of Groove Workspace, the desktop collaboration software."  Integrated with GPS, with its own collaborative viewer and data entry engine.  Looks very powerful. Michael Helfrich discusses potential applications for NGOs.  9:56:21 PM  permalink  

North Korea Reaches Out to Japan:"Facing a choice of Japanese sanctions or Japanese aid, North Korea is quietly taking steps to unblock its longstanding political logjam with Japan.

First, six adult children of Japanese hijackers from the Red Army faction, an extinct left-wing terror group, unexpectedly arrived here on Tuesday from Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. Then, North Korea floated a March 20 deadline for sending to Japan the children of five Japanese who had been abducted by North Korea years ago. The parents were allowed to come here from North Korea in October 2002. .. On Friday, Yoriko Kawaguchi, Japan's foreign minister, confirmed that four Japanese diplomats were in Pyongyang, the first visit by Japanese officials since relations between the countries soured in the fall of 2002. ..

"Japan has a strong hand to play on the issue of financial support of North Korea," Senator Brownback said in a speech here, referring to annual remittances of tens of millions of dollars by ethnic Koreans in Japan to North Korea. "It needs to play its hand."

Japanese concern also extends to those fleeing North Korea. This week, Japanese human rights groups and editorial writers protested after the Chinese authorities disclosed that the Chinese police had arrested a Japanese human rights activist and two North Korean refugees a month ago. The activist, Takayuki Noguchi, worked with Life Funds for North Korean Refugees, the largest group here helping North Koreans who escape from their country. "

  9:44:47 PM  permalink  

Al-Qaeda launches online terrorist manual: "Al-Qaeda has issued a chilling new call to arms to recruits who remain undetected by security agencies. In a terrorist manual published on the internet, Osama bin Laden says: 'After Iraq and Afghanistan will come the Crusader invasion of Saudi Arabia. All fighters all over the world must be ready.' The manual has been masterminded by Saif al-Adel, the organisation's third most senior man and the only terrorist other than bin Laden and his partner Ayman al-Zawahiri to have a $25 million reward on his head.

It is directed at new volunteers who are 'below the radar' of counter-terrorist authorities and who cannot break cover to undergo formal training in terrorist techniques. Like bin Laden, Zawahiri is quoted in the publication, called 'The Base of the Vanguard'. .. Another author is Abdul Aziz al-Mukran, who is also known as Abu Hajjer and is one of the most wanted al-Qaeda suspects in Saudi Arabia. In his contribution, entitled 'The war of nerves', he lists the use of weapons of mass destruction, specifically biological and nuclear arms, as a potential tactic in the 'ongoing war'.

The manual is an internal al-Qaeda document [the January issue of what promises to be a monthly publication] and will be of enormous interest to security agencies. The fact that al-Adel, a former special forces colonel in the Egyptian army, has risked discovery to publish it is an indication of its importance. 'Though it shows that we have taken down a lot of the training infrastructure and made it hard for [al-Qaeda] to operate, it is very worrying in that it implies that there are a lot of recruits around who we have yet to pick up,' one British senior police counter-terrorist officer said. "

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Talking Points Memo by Joshua Micah Marshall: Another excellent blog, on US politics, winner of a recent "Opinion Award," along with Friedman, Krugman, and others in the print media.  12:23:28 AM  permalink  

Topical, polemical, and short:  Rick Klau and Dan Bricklin (Pamphleteers and Web Sites) make the point that weblogs are the modern equivalent of pamphlets in 18th century America: low-cost ubiquitous personal publishing.  Historian Bernard Bailyn is cited about pamphlets, quoting "George Orwell, a modern pamphleteer":   "[The pamphet] is a one-man show. One has complete freedom of expression, including, if one chooses, the freedom to be scurrilous, abusive, and seditious; or, on the other hand, to be more detailed, serious and "high-brow" than is ever possible in a newspaper or in most kinds of periodicals."  Bailyn says none were professional writers, that "The American pamphleteers were almost to a man lawyers, ministers, merchants, or planters heavily engaged in their regular occupations."

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daily link  Friday, January 16, 2004


Juan Cole * Informed Comment: Very informative blog on Iraq and MidEast affairs by a U Mich professor.  11:59:39 PM  permalink  

Nanotox 2004: "There is accumulating evidence that nanoparticles can have very toxic properties. Many nanoparticle systems are known to have exotic structural, electronic and hence chemical properties, when compared to their bulk counterparts, principally as a result of their reduced dimensions. However very little is known about the interaction between the surface chemistry of nanoparticles and ‘wet’ biochemistry. 
 
There are a variety of novel materials that have become part of the human environment over the past fifty years; some are unintentionally inhaled or ingested, whilst others are introduced into the body intentionally and have been studied in detail, for example prosthetic implants. The revolution in nanotechnology is currently driving these and other biointeractive devices to smaller and smaller lengthscales. Other groups are actively engaged in interfacing biomolecules into ‘biocomputing devices’. 
 
The primary aim of this meeting is to bring together experts in the science of materials, particularly nanoscale materials, with biomedical scientists studying the health effects of nanoparticle exposure. This meeting will attempt to advance understanding of the molecular mechanisms for toxicity and develop novel methods of research based on the latest technologies...

The venue for the meeting is the world famous Daresbury Laboratories in Cheshire, .. home to the new SuperSTEM atomic resolution analysis facility consisting of a suite of aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopes capable of sub-Angstrom chemical imaging and spectroscopy ideal for the study of nanoparticles." 

Wired carries a story before the conference: "There is an established risk with some novel materials. Research in this month's issue of Toxicological Sciences concludes that carbon nanotubes, which have a huge variety of potential applications, can be more toxic than quartz, which is considered a serious occupational health hazard. "

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Bush signs parts of Patriot Act II into law - stealthily: "By signing the bill on the day of Hussein's capture, Bush effectively consigned a dramatic expansion of the USA Patriot Act to a mere footnote. Consequently, while most Americans watched as Hussein was probed for head lice, few were aware that the FBI had just obtained the power to probe their financial records, even if the feds don't suspect their involvement in crime or terrorism.

The Bush Administration and its Congressional allies tucked away these new executive powers in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, a legislative behemoth that funds all the intelligence activities of the federal government.  The Act included a simple, yet insidious, redefinition of "financial institution," which previously referred to banks, but now includes stockbrokers, car dealerships, casinos, credit card companies, insurance agencies, jewelers, airlines, the U.S. Post Office, and any other business "whose cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, or regulatory matters."

Congress passed the legislation around Thanksgiving. ..  The Senate passed it with a voice vote to avoid individual accountability. [It] ramps up provisions within the 2001 USA Patriot Act, which granted the FBI the authority to obtain client records from banks by merely requesting the records in a "National Security Letter." To get the records, the FBI doesn't have to appear before a judge, nor demonstrate "probable cause" - reason to believe that the targeted client is involved in criminal or terrorist activity. Moreover, the National Security Letters are attached with a gag order, preventing any financial institution from informing its clients that their records have been surrendered to the FBI. If a financial institution breaches the gag order, it faces criminal penalties. And finally, the FBI will no longer be required to report to Congress how often they have used the National Security Letters."

Bloggers are making more noise about this hidden expansion of PATRIOT; let's see how long it takes for the mainstream media to criticize it.

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Web Blog Directory - Root Blog - Aggregating the PoweR of Blogs!  Categorization of blogs with RSS feeds.  11:28:05 PM  permalink  

Breakthrough Poised for Organic Solar Energy: "Through research with organic photodetectors, Siemens researchers revealed they were recently able to increase the efficiency of printed organic solar photovoltaic (PV) cells from three to over five percent. .. [The] photoactive layer of the cell has a thickness of approximately 100 nanometers, which corresponds to about 1/200th of the thickness of a hair. Since the polymers are printed on foil these solar modules are light-weight. Moreover, they are flexible and can be adapted to almost any shape. .. [They] achieve today a service life of several thousand sun hours, said Siemens. To start with, organic solar cells will first be applied in portable solar modules charging mobile telephones, satellite phones or navigation systems without requiring any connection to a main electrical supply. The first such products are expected to be sold in 2005, said the company. Siemens said that in some time it will be possible to achieve an efficiency of ten percent and a service life of 10,000 sun hours which corresponds to an operating life of approximately ten years. It is therefore conceivable to use organic PV in all main applications of conventional solar systems, said the company. "

  11:12:44 PM  permalink  

Soundblox: "can be embedded into a personal blog template or Web page, and displayed in any modern Web browser (via Flash Player 5 or above). .. : SoundBlox is part of a series of BlogBoxes that provide rich Internet functionality for bloggers while showcasing the merits of Laszlo's declarative XML development approach. Application code in this series is available under an Apache-style open source license."  This example played me the Grateful Dead.  11:03:25 PM  permalink  

WorldWater News Sept 2003: "Ronda, Cebu, Philippines, will inaugurate the world’s first solar powered, prepaid municipal water distribution system .. For the first time, a municipal water distribution system utilizes smart card technology as a financing solution for community water production and to remove problems associated with the payment collection process. The Ronda system uses WorldWater’s proprietary AquaCard™ (Smart Card) debit card system, which operates directly with WorldWater’s AquaMeter™ solar pumping stations throughout the community. The project was made possible by a commercial loan from the Philippine National Bank (PNB), and required no special subsidies or grants.  “This is one of the first times that PNB has been able to lend to a municipality the size of Ronda,” said Worldwater (Phils.) President John Herrman. “The bank’s willingness is based on the collection security of the ‘AquaCard™,’ which enables the community to recover its costs and pay off the loan.” .. Water purchased from the AquaMeter™ is not only clean, but is also significantly less expensive than water purchased from other sources. "

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'My So-Called Blog': "the vast majority of bloggers are teens and young adults. Ninety percent of those with blogs are between 13 and 29 years old; a full 51 percent are between 13 and 19, according to Perseus. Many teen blogs are short-lived experiments. But for a significant number, they become a way of life, a daily record of a community’s private thoughts — a kind of invisible high school that floats above the daily life of teenagers"  5:27:52 PM  permalink  

WhyFi already getting built in Santa Rosa: More on Cringely's WhyFi self-organizing romaing network:  "Dane Jasper, who runs Sonic.net in Santa Rosa, is doing that by urging his broadband users to build and share their own hotspots that can be used solely by other Sonic.net broadband users. The carrot used by Dane to encourage participation is both free service, like WhyFi, and some revenue sharing applied to the DSL userâ019s monthly bill. Sonic has downtown Santa Rosa completely covered without spending up front for anything. He gets it. ..

There are still nine dialup Internet users in the U.S. for every user with broadband access.. Now imagine Cantennas all over a city –- paying customers for WhyFi service at $9.95 per month?"

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Cantenna WiFi Booster Antenna: "Boost your wireless signal (802.11b g), or connect to other wireless networks in your neighborhood. Only $19.95"  8:39:24 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, January 15, 2004


Moderation rising in the Mideast: ""It's the end of radicalism," says Abdel Monem Said, director of the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in ter for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. "You have a general sense of accommodation taking place in the region."  Dr. Said, who defines radicalism as the struggle for unobtainable goals, adds that "radical movements, whether pan-Islamic or pan-Arab, have come to the conclusion that continuation of confrontation with the status quo or the West in general is either futile or very costly. ..  I hate to say it, but at least from the results we are seeing the Iraqi thing was like a jolt in the region - it put a cap on radical politics.""

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Renewable Energy Annual 2002: "Photovoltaic (PV) cell and module shipments by manufacturers rose 15 percent in 2002 to 112.1 peak megawatts in 2002. Shipments have grown every year since 1993. Domestic shipments grew faster than exports in 2002, in contrast to growth during the 1998-2000 period, which was fueled primarily by exports.  Germany maintained its position as the predominant importer of U.S. PV cells and modules, importing 50 percent of shipments. Exports to Hong Kong rose 129 percent in 2002, becoming the second-largest U.S. export market with a 16 percent share.

The average unit price of PV cells decreased in 2002 by 14 percent to $2.12 per peak watt. Average module prices, however, increased 9 percent to $3.74 per watt in 2002. The total value of cell and module shipments increased from $305 million in 2001 to $342 million in 2002."   Many tables. including:

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Gadget Jacket Charged by the Sun: Cool vest or jacket with many internal pockets, and add-on solar cells for recharging the devices: "the jacket has integrated solar panels that charge cell phones, PDAs, Game Boys, MP3 players and most any other mobile device its wearer slides into its multitude of interior pockets."  The SCOTTeVEST site claims the Secret Service uses them.  11:16:55 AM  permalink  

Australian Company Solar Powers Mobile Phone Network in Oman: Nice pictures.  Similar story on the company's site with a South Pacific Island satellite station: "Tokelau is a New Zealand dependency situated about 10 degrees south of the equator in the South Pacific, approximately 400km North of Western Samoa. The 3 main islands in the group comprise of Atafu, Fakaofo and Nukunonu. The location of Tokelau, remote even by South Pacific island standards, has meant that the local Government has had to rely on diesel generator sets for the provision of power, which presents big problems due to irregular shipping and handling of diesel fuel in drums through the shallow waters. The Telecommunication Tokelau Corporation (Tele Tok) recently turned to Solar Sales Pty. Ltd. for expanding their already existing solar power installations on all 3 islands. "  Solar Sales is located near Perth, Australia.

  10:37:29 AM  permalink  

DNS will map RFID: "The Auto-ID groups and now EPCglobal are in fact promoting the use of DNS as the means by which RFID tag identifiers are mapped to URIs that represent various sources of product data.  Called the Object Name Service (ONS), the standard "...specifies how the Domain Name System is used to locate authoritative metadata and services associated with a given Electronic Product Code (EPC)." 

Lest you think that it is a document only, with no momentum behind its implementation, Auto-ID / EPCglobal issued a request for proposals in the third quarter of 2003 for bids on the implementation and operation of the root network directory for the EPC Network being established by EPCglobal.  The contract has reportedly been awarded to Verisign."

  10:07:32 AM  permalink  

NCT Group, Inc. - Articles: Review of modem-oriented data compression packages from Propel.com, Artera.com or Proxyconn.com.  9:43:23 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, January 14, 2004


Tapping the Grid: Search for Life in the Universe:  Interview with David Anderson, leader of SETI@Home, now "the world's largest virtual supercomputer. .. Since its public launch in May 1999, computer owners in more than 226 countries have chipped in. [The United Nations only includes 191, and nearly two-thirds are developing countries, with few spare computers laying around unused]. .. Since then, SETI@home has performed 1.6 million years of computer processing time. After four and half years, this computing capacity continues to double every year. " Lately it processes over 2000 years of CPU time per day. 

"An often overlooked aspect of their network approach is seldom mentioned--its apparent human efficiency. .. The team manages to sustain about 0.1% of the world's total computing capacity, with as few as six programmers and system administrators." 

The leader, David Anderson, was interviewed: "United Devices and similar companies (most notably Entropia) found that there wasn't a business in reselling public computer time. There aren't enough paying customers for it - pharmaceutical companies, for example, aren't interested because of security concerns - and it's hard to convince people to volunteer their computers for profit-making activities. So these companies have switched to the "corporate intranet" market - letting technology companies use their own desktop PCs for their own R&D computing."

  10:51:02 PM  permalink  

BOINC: "BOINC is a software platform for distributed [grid] computing using volunteer computer resources." SETI is beginning to adopt it.  It is cross-platform and usable for a variety of computing tasks.  10:48:00 PM  permalink  

Can Nanoparticles Enter Our Brains?: "In a study carried out on rats, U.S. researchers have shown that carbon nanoparticles can move inside the brain after being inhaled, and also move from the lungs into the bloodstream. Both Nature and the Guardian publish interesting stories about this potential new danger to our health. Let's start with Nature.

Günter Oberdörster of the University of Rochester in New York and colleagues tracked the progress of carbon particles that were only 35 nanometres in diameter and had been inhaled by rats. In the olfactory bulb -- an area of the brain that deals with smell -- nanoparticles were detected a day after inhalation, and levels continued to rise until the experiment ended after seven days.

.. Little is known about what effect nanoparticles will have when they reach the brain. The toxicity of the nanoparticles that are currently being used to build prototype nanosized electronic circuits -- such as carbon nanotubes, which are produced in labs around the world -- has not been thoroughly assessed.
But Donaldson says that there is a growing feeling that other nanoparticles, such as those produced by diesel exhausts, may be damaging to some parts of our body. He estimates that people in cities take in about 25 million nanoparticles with every breath. These particles are believed to increase respiratory and cardiac problems, probably by triggering an inflammatory reaction in the lungs.."

 

  10:24:59 PM  permalink  

Chemists Grow Nano Menagerie: "Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories have found a simple way to make tiny, complicated shapes from zinc oxide, including arrays of vertically-aligned rods, flat disks, and columns that resemble stacks of coins.  The researchers grew the structures, which are similar to those found in biomaterials, by seeding a solution with zinc oxide nanoparticles. They were able to produce different shapes by changing the amount of citrate in the solution at different points during particle growth.

Zinc oxide is a widely-used, inexpensive ceramic material that has useful optical and semiconductor properties and can also be used as a catalyst. The material is already used in solar cells, microsensors and decontamination systems...

Zinc oxide nanostructures could be used as catalysts within the next two years, for chemical and biological sensing into five years, and for more efficient photovoltaics in something more than five years, according to the researchers. The work appeared in the November 23, 2003 issue of Nature Materials."  Zinc oxide has been shown to catalyze the conversion of methane to carbon nanotubes and hydrogen.

  10:19:34 PM  permalink  

Nanotubes Detect Nerve Gas: "Naval Research Laboratory researchers have found that carbon nanotubes are sensitive to extremely small concentrations—less than one part per billion—of chemical nerve agents. .. The researchers worked out a simple procedure to fabricate nanotube-based sensors from random networks of single-walled carbon nanotubes and used a prototype to detect dimethyl methylphosphonate, which simulates the nerve agent sarin. The networks of nanotubes form transistors; the presence of a nerve agent increases the nanotubes' resistance to electricity.

The sensors are very inexpensive, require very little power, and could be used to detect sub-parts-per-billion concentrations of nerve agents, other chemical warfare agents, and other toxic chemicals, according to the researchers. They made a prototype sensor contained in a quartz tube one-eighth of an inch wide by two inches long.

The researchers also showed that the nanotube network sensors can be combined with filters coated with polymers that are sensitive to certain chemicals to make sensors that detect specific chemicals.  Arrays of the sensors could be incorporated into handheld or remotely-operated devices designed to detect a variety of substances, according to the researchers.  Carbon nanotube sensors could become practical within two to five years, according to the researchers. "

  10:16:58 PM  permalink  

Body Handles Nanofiber Better: "Researchers from Purdue University have made a discovery that may help: carbon nanofibers are surprisingly compatible with human tissue. The material could eventually be used to create better bone and neural implants.  .. The researchers experiments showed that increasing the amount of carbon nanofibers in a polycarbonate urethane composite implant increased the functions of nerve and bone-forming cells and decreased the function of scar-tissue formation. The results imply that compatibility has to do with the size of the fibers that make up the materials.

The researchers have also shown that other materials that contain surfaces with nano-size features are also more compatible with the human body. Carbon nanofiber materials could be used in orthopedics in five to ten years, but it will be one to two decades before neural applications are practical, according to the researchers. "

  10:14:21 PM  permalink  

Scientific American: Robot Scientist As Effective As Humans At Lab Work: "Ross D. King from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and his colleagues designed their Robot Scientist using existing technology and two new software programs that they wrote. The team then assigned the robot the task of determining the function of specific genes in the yeast Xaccharomyces cerevisiae (commonly known as brewer's yeast). Robot Scientist, armed with preloaded information about yeast biochemistry and biological pathways, first generated hypotheses regarding possible functions and then ran a variety of experiments. When the real scientists compared the results obtained by their robot student to those achieved by actual graduate students, they didn't see any significant differences. And because Robot Scientist ran fewer experiments, its overall costs were lower than those of its human counterparts. "  10:07:20 PM  permalink  

"Free-Speech Zone":  Good summary of the many instances of the Bush administration investigating dissidents and confining protests in the name of the "war on terrorism".  From the American Conservative, no less.  "Is the administration seeking to stifle domestic criticism? Absolutely. Is it carrying out a war on dissent? Probably not—yet. But the trend lines in federal attacks on freedom of speech should raise grave concerns to anyone worried about the First Amendment or about how a future liberal Democratic president such as Hillary Clinton might exploit the precedents that Bush is setting."  1:35:49 PM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, January 13, 2004


Getting the Word Out:  Short list of news release services.  Addressed to non-profits, but usable generally.  2:51:54 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, January 12, 2004


BP donation to India via BASE: "BP Solar USA is donating over $1 million worth of solar modules to BASE (Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy), who in turn are dispatching them to rural and semi-rural areas of India where over 60 per cent of the population is without electricity. The solar systems will be used for water pumping, lighting and for powering telecommunications services including cyber cafes."  Contact info for BASE director provided in the article.  11:11:32 PM  permalink  

INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY APPLIED TO THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: Useful essays by John A. Daly that include an inventory of IT applications in development, specifically linked to Millenium Goals.  Especially useful for its summary of MDG and the specific measurements associated with each Goal.  "The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) provide a vision of development: one in which development reduces the number of poor in the world and specifically targets the worst aspects of poverty. The Goals were set forth in the Millennium Declaration of the United Nations, and increasingly influence the policies of governments and development assistance agencies."  10:20:36 PM  permalink  

World Bank ICT Toolkit: A checklist for project structures when getting multilateral grants.  "This toolkit directly addresses the basics of planning, designing and supervising "e" (or ICT) components of WBGroup projects in other sectors and discusses good practices for project management, procurement (goods and services); and implementation. At a time when the average investment lending operation in all sectors includes an ICT component of at least 10% of the total loan (much higher figures for HD and PREM projects where ICT can make up to 60% of some projects); the Toolkit's objective is to raise awareness, increase design and output quality; and enhance the monitoring and evaluation of ICT components in our portfolio."  10:15:30 PM  permalink  

Global Philanthropy Partnership: "The following summary is an initial attempt to identify and describe the range of organizations and activities currently promoting and supporting global social investing. We consider this draft a 'living document' that will evolve and grow with the field."  Lists many international private donors.  10:13:39 PM  permalink  

Hosts for Web Sites or Blogs: plus an update from Rick Klau on his current favorite.  I've been experimenting with hostingmatters.com with good results (sounds like the same setup as Klau's hoster).  10:00:37 PM  permalink  

ZIP-LINQ Retractable Cables and Retractable Cable Accessories: Cables for charging gizmos in many way, including from a laptop's USB ports.  Cuts the need for multiple adaptors.  9:54:03 PM  permalink  

Creative Commons: Useful site for selecting appropriate lisencing for created material (e.g., requiring attribution, no derivative works, but otherwise open to noncommercial use).  9:32:23 PM  permalink  

Blog Tools: PC Mag reviews a few, praising Moveable Type and its hosted version, Typepad.  Law blogger Jerry Lawson concurs (he switched from Radio to MT in 2003).  That blogger also says he not only has time for blogging, it saves him time.  9:26:56 PM  permalink  

Microsoft Bows to Pressure, Extends Support for Older Windows Versions: "Microsoft Corp. on Monday capitulated to customer pressure and announced that it would now continue extended support for Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition and for Windows Millennium Edition (ME) until June 30, 2006. Microsoft recently said that support for Windows 98 and 98 SE would be phased out this Friday—January 16, while support for Windows Me was due to stop on December 31, 2004. ..

During this time, Microsoft will continue to offer paid phone support and will continue to review any critical security issues and take appropriate steps. ..

According to officials, Microsoft also wanted to bring Windows 98 SE into compliance with the company's current lifecycle policy for new products, which provides for support for seven years instead of the original four. "

  9:15:58 PM  permalink  

Bloglines: Free, Web-Based News Aggregator: "Bloglines is a free service that makes it easy to keep up with your favorite blogs and newsfeeds. With Bloglines, you can subscribe to the RSS feeds of your favorite blogs, and Bloglines will monitor updates to those sites... Make it easy for your readers to stay up to date with your blog. Add a Bloglines Subscribe button and with one click they can subscribe to your blog."  Also has means for adding email subscriptions and treating as a subscription alongside other RSS feeds.  5:34:44 PM  permalink  

Yahoo, NewsGator Extend RSS Aggregation: "research shows that consumer dependence on the Web browser has diminished significantly. A recent study from Nielsen//NetRatings found that three out of every four home and work Internet users -- a full 76 percent -- access the Internet using a non-browser based Internet application like RSS aggregators, media players, Instant Messaging and P2P applications."  5:32:02 PM  permalink  

More casual VOIP: "We leave Skype running in the background when Matt's online in Helsinki and I'm in London. It's an easy, casual way to keep someone present when they're not. You hear the rhythms of their typing, occasional laughs or sighs or mutterings, and you can break into conversation when you feel like it. You can have conversational spurts, rather than one big download. It's casual, background conversation rather than a focused IM exchange or time-pressured telephone call."  5:29:05 PM  permalink  

Entering CasualSpace... John Perry Barlow gets a different VOIP experience: "Joi and I were typing at each other over the Net using Apple's iChat AV. I've never liked Internet chat. I don't like having to type that fast. So, at a certain point, I asked him whether he'd used the audio capacities that are built into iChat AV. I hadn't. A moment later we were conversing by voice through our computers. Despite the fact that Joi is presently in his country house outside of Tokyo and I'm at my condo in Salt Lake, it sounded like he was in the room with me. There was no discernible latency or loss of fidelity.

For awhile, we talked as though we were on the phone.. The really interesting shift occurred as we drifted back to what we'd been doing before we started chatting, leaving the audio channel open as we'd did so. We could hear each other typing. One of my daughters entered the room and spoke to me. Joi heard her and said hello. They had a brief conversation; .. I could hear the sounds of construction going on in his house. .. For a long time, it was as though we were working in the same room, each of us alone with his endeavors and yet... together. Though half a world away.

This feels significant to me. Even over shorter distances, people rarely think of phone calls as being so casually cheap that one would simply leave the connection open for ambient telepresence and occasional conversation. To create shared spaces that span the planet, and to do so whenever you feel like it, and to leave them unpurposefully in place for hours, is not something people have done very often before. The next step is to make those shared spaces larger, so that multiple people can inhabit the same auditory zone, entering and leaving it as though it were a coffee house. This will change the way people live.

Big deal, you think. You can do this with conference calls now. But you don't. Conference calls are expensive and unstable. The sound quality usually sucks if you're using a speaker phone. I think this is different. It certainly felt different to me. I had the same shiver of the New that I got years ago the first time I ever used telnet and realized that I could get a hard disks to spin in any number of computers thousands of miles away just by entering a few keystrokes. "

  5:23:09 PM  permalink  

The 1st External USB HDTV: "the first external USB HDTV TV tuner device that supports USB2.0 with PVR features."  From South Korean maker.  4:43:33 PM  permalink  

Tim Berners-Lee to get OBE: "Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), will be made a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth. This was announced earlier today by Buckingham Palace as part of the 2004 New Year's Honours list. The rank of Knight Commander is the second most senior rank of the Order of the British Empire, one of the Orders of Chivalry awarded. Berners-Lee, 48, a British citizen who lives in the United States, is being knighted in recognition of his "services to the global development of the Internet" through the invention of the World Wide Web."  3:19:41 PM  permalink  

Feds Roll On Vegas Rollers: "The FBI often uses these specialized warrants — issued under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — to record the telephone calls and e-mails of citizens and immigrants believed to be agents of a foreign power.  The government requested and won approval for a record 1,228 warrants in 2002 for secret wiretaps and searches of suspected terrorists and spies, .. significantly higher than the 934 warrants approved in 2001 and the 1,003 approved in 2000.

Operating with permission from a secretive federal court that meets regularly at Justice Department headquarters, the FBI has broken into homes, offices, hotel rooms and automobiles, installed hidden cameras, rummaged through luggage and eavesdropped on telephone conversations.  Besides break-ins, agents also have pried into safe deposit boxes, watched from afar with video cameras and binoculars and intercepted e-mails. They have planted microphones, computer bugs and other high-tech tracking devices.  Details about some FBI techniques emerge from court records spread across dozens of cases. But only a fraction of these surveillances each year result in any kind of public disclosure, so little is known outside classified circles about how they work. 

More recently, the FBI has implemented new ground rules that allow even more sharing of information between agents working on intelligence and those pursuing traditional criminal cases.   Police and prosecutors have increasingly turned the force of the new anti-terrorism laws not on al Qaeda cells but on people charged with common crimes. "  2:39:51 PM  permalink  

FBI gathered visitor info in Vegas: "Only in Las Vegas did the FBI require all hotel operators to surrender guest lists and airlines to turn over arriving passenger manifests, sources at the U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday. The program, which started Dec. 22, a day after Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge raised the terrorist alert level from yellow, or "elevated," to orange, or "high," was terminated Jan. 1 with the end of the holidays, local FBI spokesman Todd Palmer said.

Casino operators said they turned over the names and other guest information on an estimated 270,000 visitors after a meeting with FBI officials and after receiving national security letters requiring them to yield the information. .. the FBI has new authority to make follow-up demands for whatever information it wants on individuals included on the original lists, and hotel operators and local law enforcement agencies are banned by the recently signed Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 from disclosing any investigations stemming from the lists. ..

The FBI and local law enforcement agencies have said there was no specific and credible terrorist threat aimed at Las Vegas over the recent holiday. ..

Bill Thompson, University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor and casino industry expert, said .. "People come here for some stupid reason, and we want them to. That's our slogan. How does the FBI program match up with `What you do here stays here?' " he asked. ..

In Washington, D.C., [ACLU's] Edgar said there needs to be a distinction between situations in which individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as when they check into a hotel, and others in which they have diminished expectations, such as when they cross the border into the United States or board a commercial aircraft. "

  2:37:18 PM  permalink  

Cable, Internet gain on campaign trail" "Just 23% of Americans ages 18-29 say they regularly get their election news from broadcast news, down from 39% in 2000. Local news and newspapers also showed declines among that age group, 13% and 9%, respectively. Meanwhile, overall use of the Internet and cable for campaign news rose 4% since 2000 [to 13%].

The poll of 1,506 adults found that more young people are learning about the campaign from comedy shows such as The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live. Among 18- to-29-year-olds, 21% say they get campaign news from comedy shows. Before the survey was released, Daily Show's Jon Stewart was asked about young people getting news from his show. He joked that he worries every day and added, "I don't know if you know this, but the children are our future."

The poll found that those who learn from late-night shows don't know much about the current campaign. The Internet, on the other hand, has an informed audience, and active use of the Net for politics is linked to a high level of knowledge about the campaign." And about cable networks: "40% of the Democrats surveyed cited the three broadcast networks compared to 24% of Republicans and 30% of independents. And 27% of the Democrats are CNN fans compared to 20% of GOP and independent viewers.. 29% of the Republicans responding said they watch Fox News Channel to learn about the campaign as opposed to 14% of Democrats and 20% of independents. Radio also tilts heavily toward Republicans, while the Internet was split fairly evenly."

Reminds me of David Brooks' The Era of Distortion: "The proliferation of media outlets and the segmentation of society have meant that it's much easier for people to hive themselves off into like-minded cliques. Some people live in towns where nobody likes President Bush. Others listen to radio networks where nobody likes Bill Clinton. In these communities, half-truths get circulated and exaggerated. Dark accusations are believed because it is delicious to believe them. Vince Foster was murdered. The Saudis warned the Bush administration before Sept. 11.

You get to choose your own reality. You get to believe what makes you feel good. You can ignore inconvenient facts so rigorously that your picture of the world is one big distortion."

  9:45:21 AM  permalink  

Digital Business Ecosystems in Developing Countries: Brief summary of key concept in development of advanced industries. "In biological systems some capabilities cannot emerge prior to others.. Biologists sometimes call the rules governing such relationships “assembly rules,” that is, the rules affecting the assembly, in sequence and over time, of ecosytems. This notion of assembly rules has just begun to be applied to economic development, but it holds great promise. ..

In our study in Ghana, the ground of the digital business ecosystem was fertile with well-educated entrepreneurs—most of whom had studied and lived abroad for some time—who were willing to return to Ghana after the establishment of a democratic government—the first in more than two decades—in 2001. Once in Ghana they were able to connect to a highly competent dial-up ISP, which in turn was connected to the worldwide Internet by a reasonably high-speed satellite service, funded in part by the US government development assistance. Working with this base, and in a legal climate that allowed for the introduction of a variety of digital businesses—most without specific licensing hurdles—a small but thriving digital business community established itself.

The excitement and vitality of this community attracted international notice. This community, however, is only the pioneering phase of what could be a much larger and richer digital ecosystem in Ghana. However, the next phase in succession requires a number of capabilities that are not now present—ranging from reliable electric power, to affordable high bandwidth interconnection both within Ghana and across the seas. In addition, Ghana has limited expertise in financing and coaching the leadership of digital businesses.. The banking culture oriented to lending based on physical assets—and little experience with equity investments in knowledge-based businesses. Finally, the government has dabbled in digital policy making and telecommunications reform, but has not made either clear strategies nor appointed leaders who have the respect of the digital business or investor community. The result is a high level of uncertainty about the policy and legal environment. All of the above limitations were tolerable by pioneering businesses—but they make it difficult for those enterprises and others like them to scale up, expand, and diversify. "  More by these authors on this topic is online.  Also, there are additional perspectives on IT, development, and politics in a recent Harvard Law course syllabus.

  9:13:21 AM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, January 11, 2004


Knowing how to find the people you need: Cool story about how a weblog programmer volunteered a very productive few days to the Dean campaign.  8:36:52 PM  permalink  

Nanoparticles and health: "In a study carried out on rats, U.S. researchers have shown that carbon nanoparticles can move inside the brain after being inhaled, and also move from the lungs into the bloodstream. Both Nature and the Guardian publish interesting stories about this potential new danger to our health."  8:28:05 AM  permalink  

Top Five Social Investing News Stories of 2003: Includes a note on climate change reporting: "the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) is a coalition of ten state and city treasurers and comptrollers and labor pension funds that collectively manage over $1 trillion in assets. INCR issued a ten-point “Call for Action” that commenced with a recommendation to support the Rose Foundation’s rulemaking petition for the SEC to enforce and enhance its environmental liability disclosure rules.   “The corporate and financial communities are reaching consensus that it is indeed a fiduciary duty to at least assess and report on the risks associated with climate change and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mr. Falk."  8:17:04 AM  permalink  

Social Capitalists: List of "top 20" social enterprises, including Benetech and Room to Read.  8:14:38 AM  permalink  

Visualizing Connections: "Exploring the corridors of iterated similarity you get on Google is a good way to spend an afternoon. That's what makes the TouchGraph Google Browser so much fun. Entering a URL lets you see a graphical map of its various "Similar pages" links, as well as the pages similar to those pages, and so forth. It's Java-based, so it presumably runs on anything able to run JRE 1.3+, with typical Java alacrity."  8:09:56 AM  permalink  

MT Plugin Directory: MT Resources and Newsfeeds: Help for users of Moveable Type, from an extensive directory of add-ons.  Also found an interesting story about A Movable Type Intranet, where the comments are also worth reading.  And, a user noting some useful addons.  12:22:55 AM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, January 10, 2004


GRANT-MAKING SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FOUNDATIONS IN DEVELOPING NATIONS: Interesting list of institutions sponsoring research and innovation in places like Brazil, India, etc., including some bilateral or multilateral-sponsored ones.  11:43:17 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, January 09, 2004


Wishful Thinking on Korea: More selective intelligence at work in the administration:  "In the summer of 2002, insiders say, the U.S. had a defector report that Mr. Kim might soon be ousted. Experts on Korea were deeply skeptical about that unconfirmed report, but it matched what hard-liners wanted to believe, so they passed it all the way up to President Bush himself. That defector's report, later discredited, helped harden the administration's give-no-inch approach --leading Mr. Kim to begin reprocessing plutonium last year."  8:56:13 PM  permalink  

Clark or Dean? How about both? A progressive who thinks like I do -- the best ticket would be a Clark/Dean one, for all good reasons.   He misses one -- the necessity to integrate the new Dean organization and energy in the party.  8:03:11 PM  permalink  

The Australian: WMDs 'smuggled into Syria': " Paris-based Syrian dissident Nijar Nijjof told Britain's independent Channel Five News that a senior Syrian military intelligence source had told him about the weapons. The unnamed source revealed that the weapons were smuggled across the Iraqi border in ambulances before the war that led to Saddam's ouster, Nijjof said. "I knew this man during the last two years, he sent me much information," Nijjof said of his contact.

"There hasn't been any hard evidence that such a thing happened," [Condoleezza Rice] told reporters, but "I can't dismiss anything that we haven't had an opportunity to fully assess".

  5:33:10 PM  permalink  

Cringely's WhyFi: How to get to 1m hotspots -- the same architecture as the "grid networking" idea I was promoting in 2002: "First we need to encourage what are essentially noncommercial hotspots and we do that not by revenue sharing but by providing free equipment. Anyone who wants to start a hotspot gets a free WiFi access point and a free WiFi client card for a notebook or other computer [with] slightly different firmware. This firmware establishes for the hotspot owner a DMZ in which the public traffic is contained [to what is not used by the hotspot owner], as well as a RADIUS function required for network authorization. The WhyFi card also contains different firmware that establishes similar DMZ and RADIUS functions though in this case they operate in an ad hoc network around your notebook or dektop.

Your incentive to operate a WhyFi hotspot is free service for you when you leave home. The hardware and software are free. There is no performance hit. And your WhyFi card gives you free unlimited access to the entire network through MAC address filtering. So while you don't make any money from the WhyFi network it also doesn't cost you anything to belong. " Money is made from subscribers who don't have a hotspot.   Will ISP's resist sharing of their connections?  Some will, but some already don't, and they will be the ones that will ultimately thrive.

  2:41:47 PM  permalink  

Software for micropayments online: "Ronald L. Rivest, the R in the public key encryption system RSA, which he helped invent, and Silvio Micali, whose honors include the 1993 Gödel Prize in theoretical computer science, founded Peppercoin and introduced it commercially in December. Peppercoin hopes to reduce online merchants' transaction costs substantially, particularly the number of credit card charges they pay. These are typically about 25 cents per sale, said Robert W. Carney, vice president for marketing at Peppercoin. The company's software uses advanced encryption and mathematical models to avoid charging a seller a fee each time an item is sold. Instead, the system statistically selects a representative sample of the transactions for billing...

BitPass, another new micropayment company, stresses the simplicity of its system. Kurt Huang, chief executive of the company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., said that all the gatekeeping and financial processing services were bundled in a single file that can easily be uploaded to a Web server for use by a hosted Web site. "This way the little guy can engage in digital commerce," Mr. Huang said...

PayPal recently offered a special micropayment rate, restricted for now to large digital music providers. These sellers will be charged 11.5 cents for a 99-cent song - 2.5 percent plus 9 cents per transaction - rather than the standard 25 to 30 cents.

  12:21:49 AM  permalink  

GBN's Peter Schwartz: "Most organizations and most people assume that the world in front of us is basically continuous -- that tomorrow is basically going to be pretty much like today," he said. In fact, the opposite is true: We live in a time of perpetual discontinuity, a time in which bombshells and shockers are part of everyday life."  His 1999 "inevitable surprises" include:

  • Most baby-boomers won't retire
  • Tech-led productivity booms won't stop
  • Nano tech and quantum computing will revolutionize science
  • Cuts in pollution: "With the pace of technological change, high growth equals clean, low growth equals dirty."
  • 3 kinds of countries:
    • "Disorderly" countries where chaos and rebellion are rampant and information and financial flows are broken; this includes most of Africa, parts of Latin America, and big parts of Central Asia.
    • "Orderly" countries that follow a system of rules designed for them not to fight with each other; this group comprises traditional industrialized regions like Europe, Japan, big parts of Latin America, most of China, and most of India.
    • The United States, aka the rogue superpower. "We're the guys who make the rules but don't play by the rules," Peter explained. "We find ourselves in this unique position with a super-dominant economy and a super-dominant military, and no one can even come close to catching us. And nothing on the horizon suggests that's going to change."
  • Abrupt climate change, possibly slowing of the the Gulf Stream or other major change, even without global warming
  • European in-migration causing large cultural change there

Possibly interesting audio is on the site.

  12:04:23 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, January 08, 2004


Monitoring the Beach House: How remote Internet sensors are being deployed in second homes:  "OzVision, an Israeli company that opened an office in Massachusetts in 2002, offers closed-circuit-video and still-photo systems. (The images generated by these kinds of systems can be monitored by the homeowner or by a security company.)" Temperature and security sensors, fire alarms, and remote control of air conditioning or heating are also mentioned.  Luxury yachts get specialized systems.  Assurance of electric supply is sometimes difficult, so notices of power loss are also important.

Property managers have systems: "Using a Web- and telephone-based program, Timothy Cafferty, the president and general manager of ResortQuest Outer Banks can now warn thousands of people at once that a hurricane is coming, giving them 90 seconds of evacuation instructions over the telephone and requesting that they press a button to confirm that the message was received."  They used to make up to 4800 phone calls per hurricane.

  11:37:02 PM  permalink  

Let There Be L.E.D.s: "The research into solid-state lighting is motivated by light bulb makers who want to create new and profitable products. But saving energy is a consideration, too. About 20 percent of all electricity in the United States is used for lighting. A shift from bulbs to L.E.D.'s and other more efficient kinds of lighting could cut that percentage in half.."  Some models and design concepts are reviewed.  11:29:03 PM  permalink  

Case Yields Chilling Signs of Domestic Terror Plot: "One evening two winters ago, a man in Staten Island, N.Y., absent-mindedly flipped through his mail. Inside one envelope was a stack of fake documents, including United Nations and Defense Department identification cards, and a note: "We would hate to have this fall into the wrong hands."  It had. The package, intended for a member of a self-styled militia in New Jersey, had been delivered to the wrong address.

From that lucky break, federal officials believe they may have uncovered one of the most audacious domestic terrorism plots since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. Starting with a single piece of mail, investigators discovered an enormous cache of weapons in Noonday, in East Texas, including the makings of a sophisticated sodium cyanide bomb capable of killing thousands of people... Investigators found nearly 500,000 rounds of ammunition, 65 pipe bombs and briefcases that could be detonated by remote control.

Most distressing, they said, was the discovery of 800 grams of almost pure sodium cyanide — material that can only be acquired legally for specific agricultural or military projects. The sodium cyanide was found inside an ammunition canister, next to hydrochloric, nitric and acetic acids and formulas for making bombs."

3 perpetrators pleaded guilty in November.  "But what is typically the end of a criminal case may be only the beginning in this one. Some government investigators believe other conspirators may be on the loose. And they readily acknowledge that they have no idea what the stash of weapons was for — though they have tantalizing and alarming clues of a "covert operation or plan," according to an FBI affidavit..."

"Critics of the Bush administration say federal officials and the mainstream media are suffering from tunnel vision — that they are so focused on international threats that they have failed to give sufficient attention to threats at home... Much of the criticism has come on Internet Web logs, known as "blogs." People who operate the websites, or "bloggers," have seized on the Krar case and what they perceive as the inattention it received from the Bush administration and major media...  Robert Jensen, an associate professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas in Austin and director of the College of Communication's honors program, agrees with the criticism. He says that the Bush administration, to promote its efforts overseas, "needs a public that is afraid and sees these wars as justified."

  10:41:36 PM  permalink  

Intel, HP chiefs warn that U.S. needs to improve research, education: "Craig Barrett, head of Santa Clara chipmaker Intel Corp., declared that the world had arrived at a rare "strategic inflection point" where nearly half its population -- living in China, India and Russia -- had been integrated into the global market economy, many of them highly educated workers "who can do just about any job in the world." "We're talking about 3 billion people," Barrett said, more than 10 times the U.S. population. "The U.S. has a very simple choice to make. We have to decide if we're going to be competitive with these markets." ..

Barrett insisted that Intel was "still making massive investments in the U.S.," but he noted that jobs at these new facilities require two years of college "just to walk in the door. The infrastructure and education requirements of those jobs is forever increasing."

[HP's] Fiorina warned the United States risked losing its lead in high-end products as well. "It's interesting to me that so many people talk about China or India or Russia as being a source of low-cost labor," Fiorina said. "Truthfully, over the long term, the greater threat is the source of well-educated labor. And if you look at the number of college-educated students that China graduates every year, it's close to 40 million. The law of large numbers is fairly compelling."

Fiorina and Barrett said the United States must make a strategic choice to increase its competitiveness before it wakes up one day and finds it's too late. They outlined a list of objectives, including a doubling of federal spending on basic research in U.S. universities. Barrett derided Washington's decision to spend as much as $40 billion a year on farm subsidies and just $5 billion on basic research in the physical sciences. "I have a real degree of difficulty with the fact that we are spending some five to eight times as much on the industry of the 19th century than we are on the industry of the 21st century," Barrett said.

The executives also urged a national broadband policy to allow more homes and businesses to quickly take advantage of high-speed data networks, much as Japan and Korea have done. They also called for dramatic improvements in K-12 education in the United States, saying schools act more to block budding math and science students than to foster them. "

Average programmer salaries were compared in the article as

  • US: $60,000 - $80,000
  • Canada:  $28,174
  • China:  $8,952
  • India:  $5,880 - $11,000
  2:43:04 PM  permalink  

MythTV: "MythTV is a homebrew PVR project that I've been working on in my spare time. It's been under heavy development for over a year, and is now quite useable and featureful."  Cool feature list.  Linux-based.  11:38:24 AM  permalink  

Wi-fi and the future of wireless: Good, well-informed intro to wifi hot spot markets.  Excerpts:

  • Some 20 percent of homes broadband now have WLANs too.
  • Limousines are offering wi-fi service for customers on the go
  • Cerritos, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb, plans to become one big wi-fi hotspot by placing transmitters all over the town of 51,000 residents.
  • Even the question of powering up unplugged devices is solvable. [MIT's David]Reed sees a time when they could operate "parasitically by living off the radio waves of things that happen to be plugged into the wall."
  • Others envision wi-fi transmitters embedded in every power strip in an office, making a whole company one big hotspot.

  11:13:02 AM  permalink  

Is Your Hometown Safe from Chemical Disaster?  2 years after 9/11 there are still public chlorine facilities close to cities:  "Chlorine is commonly used to remove contaminants from sewage before the treated waste is discharged into local waterways. Chlorine gas is a powerful chemical that can burn the eyes and skin and inflame the lungs, and is fatal in high concentrations. (It was used as a chemical weapon by Germany in World War I.) There are thousands of wastewater treatment facilities scattered across the United States. ..

Switching from chlorine to a safer alternative is affordable and practical. .. Thirteen wastewater plants have successfully substituted safer alternatives; now, more than 20 million people who were once at risk from chemical releases at nearby wastewater facilities are safer.  [But] 18 million Americans remain at risk from [44] facilities that continue to use chlorine gas in heavily populated areas. An accident at any one of five facilities could each affect more than one million residents."

  9:42:49 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, January 07, 2004


CNN.com - Poll Jan. 5, 2004: "against the former NATO commander, Dean has a 46 percent to 32 percent edge among respondents, the poll found. .. in "what-if" head-to-head pairings with his strongest rivals: Dean over Lieberman, 50 percent to 32 percent; Dean over Kerry 51 percent to 29 percent; Dean over Gephardt 53 percent to 28 percent.   .. Among likely voters surveyed, Bush wins 51 percent to 46 percent for Dean; only Lieberman gets that much support from likely voters in other match-ups. "  9:34:04 PM  permalink  

PicoPoint: "PicoPoint provides complete back-office solutions for Wireless ISPs (WISPs). GateKeeper, PicoPoint’s state-of-the art management platform, provides 24/7 back-office services for WISPs, but also for Property Chains that wish to act as a WISP themselves. The professional back-office services for WISPs are complemented by partnerships with industry leaders to provide a complete wireless broadband access solution. Through PicoPoint's global partnerships with Mobile Network Operators and ISPs, usage on Hotspots is guaranteed.  PicoPoint is one of the founding members of the Global Broadband Internet Access (GBIA) network"  5:11:10 PM  permalink  

GBIA - Global Broadband Internet Access: "GBIA represents worlds’ largest international roaming network of independent Public WLAN providers. Through roaming, users can get connected at Public WLAN Hotspots using account information provided by their service provider as the basis for authentication. Charging for the service can be integrated into their regular bill, simplifying administration and delivering an experience equal to using the mobile phone on a different network: it just works." Their current network providers include Surf & Sip, the Dutch PTT, and hotspots in odd places like Poland, Tanzania, and Kuwait.  Current total about 1900.  5:06:54 PM  permalink  

rss2mail: Basic perl module that "delivers new information from RSS feeds direct to your inbox, one email per feed. "  Related code by same author: Foo2Mail, a function to fetch content, checking the content's not already been sent, format the mail, send it and doing some general cleanup.  10:51:38 AM  permalink  

Global Information Internship Program: UC Santa Cruz undergraduate program seeks NGOs to work with: "The Global Information Internship Program is an innovative undergraduate initiative sponsored by the Center for Global, International, and Regional Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. GIIP's objective is to raise the capacity of community, civil society, and non-governmental organizations to maximize the use of Internet-based information and communication technologies. "  7:46:20 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, January 05, 2004


Bridging Digital Gap To Alleviate Poverty: Nice coverage of Digital Vision Fellow Rajeswari Rao Pingali and her ongoing project in India.  7:59:07 AM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, January 04, 2004


Nigeria Says It's Routed Islamic Movement: "After two weeks of running gunbattles that killed at least eight people, Nigeria said Saturday it had routed a newly emerged Muslim militant movement fighting to create an Islamic state in Africa's most populous nation.  Two police officers and at least six of the militants died in the clashes in three towns in northeast Yobe state, including the capital, Damaturu, said Ibrahim Jirigi, a Yobe state government spokesman.

The battles saw about 200 of the Islamic extremists raid two police stations for arms, burn another, and occupy a public school building that they renamed ``Afghanistan,'' Jirigi said.  The group involved was the Al Sunna Wal Jamma group. The largely university-based student group was taking up arms for the first time after two years of preaching Islamic revolution. ..

The Yobe state uprising appears the largest and best-planned of any involving Islamic or Christian militants in Nigeria. "

  3:27:27 PM  permalink  

Indian Soybean Farmers Join the Global Village: NYT front-page article summarizing the ITC e-choupal network: "E-choupals were born in 2000 from ITC's determination to capture more of the soybean crop, which it turns into oil to sell in India and into animal feed to export. In purchasing soya, it has long been dependent on a static, archaic system: Farmers sold to village traders or went to government markets, settling for whatever price was offered. ITC then had to buy from the traders or markets, with little quality control and high transaction costs.

The idea of the e-choupals was to allow the company to buy more directly from farmers; e-choupals allow farmers to check prices the night before, and then decide whether they want to sell directly to the company the next day... Eventually the company expects to sell everything from microcredit to tractors via e-choupals — and hopes to use them to become the Wal-Mart of India, Mr. Deveshwar told shareholders this year. "We are laying infrastructure in a sense," Mr. Deveshwar said. Sixty companies have already taken part in a pilot project to sell services and goods, from insurance to seeds to motorbikes to biscuits, through ITC...

David Upton [is] co-author of a case study of e-choupals for Harvard Business School."

  8:36:59 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, January 02, 2004


Boost for rural UK broadband: "Just before Christmas, the Department of Trade and Industry said it would let internet service providers and community groups use the 5.8Ghz Band C spectrum. .. The Ministry of Defence had resisted opening up the spectrum because it has radar systems operating in Band C of the 5GHz part of the spectrum.

As from 5 January, groups can apply for licences to use the radio frequency from the new communications regulator, Ofcom. The fees have been kept deliberately low, with a cost of £1 per net terminal, subject to a minimum of annual charge of £50. "

  9:31:23 AM  permalink  

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