|Ken Novak's Weblog
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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
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
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
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
: "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
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  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