Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog


daily link  Wednesday, March 31, 2004


UN CONFERENCE ON WIRELESS INTERNET INITIATIVES: "The 'Wireless Internet for Underserved Populations and Local Communities' programme had been designed to achieve one of the leading development goals of our time -- universal connectivity. The initiative involves all key stakeholders, from government and civil society to the private sector and field practitioners. Among global partners participating in the programme, are IBM, Intel, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships, the European Commission, the World Bank and regional and local professional organizations. Speakers emphasized that wireless Internet had the potential to bridge the digital divide by providing low-cost broadband Internet connectivity to underserved areas and communities"  3:44:30 PM  permalink  

Venture 'overhang' at $68 b:  "Excess cash left from the capital raised in the venture community since 1997 shows that $68 billion remains untapped.  While funds raised prior to 2000 are nearly completely invested, a quarter of the record funds raised in 2000 have not been invested, according to San Francisco-based VentureOne.  ..

Venture capitalists, however, plan on using the majority of the extra funds for future investments.  More than half of what remains of the 2000 vintage is earmarked for follow-on investments in existing portfolios, with the investments completed by 2005, according to the report. .. Those funds will be competing with capital raised in 2001 as well. More than half of the funds raised in 2001 have yet to be invested."  9:51:00 AM  permalink  

Kid sites: "Peter Grunwald of the Internet research firm Grunwald Associates estimates there are about 2 million sites created by kids age 6 to 17. By next year, his research indicates, there could be 6 million or more. Further, he estimates that 9% of kids age 9 to 12 have their own sites. "  9:45:29 AM  permalink  

Shifts from bin Laden hunt: "In 2002, troops from the 5th Special Forces Group who specialize in the Middle East were pulled out of the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to prepare for their next assignment: Iraq. Their replacements were troops with expertise in Spanish cultures.  The CIA, meanwhile, was stretched badly in its capacity to collect, translate and analyze information coming from Afghanistan. When the White House raised a new priority, it took specialists away from the Afghanistan effort to ensure Iraq was covered. ..

Bob Andrews, former head of a Pentagon office that oversaw special operations, says that removing Saddam Hussein was a good idea but "a distraction." The war in Iraq, Andrews notes, entailed the largest deployment of special operations forces — about 10,000 —since the Vietnam War. That's about 25% of all U.S. commandos.  It also siphoned spy aircraft and light infantry soldiers. Iraq proved such a drain, one former Pentagon official notes, that there were no AWACS radar jets to track drug-trafficking aircraft in South America. Saddam was not an immediate threat. "This has been a real diversion from the longer struggle against jihadists," especially in the intelligence field, he says."

Further confirmation of the 5th Special Forces role: "Abu Ghraib is a town in Baghdad's sprawling suburbs, just north of the international airport.  .. US Special Forces worked secretly with Iraqi townspeople on the outskirts of Baghdad for months before the war with Iraq got under way. Soldiers from the U-S Fifth Special Forces Group worked for over eight months with the people of Abu Gharib. It is unclear whether Special Forces remained in Abu Gharib throughout the months leading to the start of the war. However, Pentagon officials have in the past indicated some Special Forces units moved in and out of Iraq before the war, without maintaining a permanent presence. "

  8:47:37 AM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, March 30, 2004


Shirky: Situated Software:  Stimulating essay.  Reminds me of CGNET's helpdesk.  And what we'll do as programming gets really cheap.  "Part of the future I believe I'm seeing [in my students' work] is a change in the software ecosystem which, for the moment, I'm calling situated software. This is software designed in and for a particular social situation or context. This way of making software is in contrast with what I'll call the Web School (the paradigm I learned to program in), where scalability, generality, and completeness were the key virtues. ..  Situated software isn't a technological strategy so much as an attitude about closeness of fit between software and its group of users, and a refusal to embrace scale, generality or completeness as unqualified virtues..

We constantly rely on the cognitive capabilities of individuals in software design -- we assume a user can associate the mouse with the cursor, or that icons will be informative. We rarely rely on the cognitive capabilities of groups, however, though we rely on those capabilities in the real world all the time. ..  There is another strategy, however, analogous to asking the user to recognizing icons; the designer can simply assume the group has a certain capability, without needing to recapitulate it in code. If you have an uncollected payment in a communal buying pool, the software can kick out a message that says "Deadbeat alert. Deal with it." A real world group will have some way of handling the problem ..

So what happens next? If what I'm seeing is not transitory or limited to a narrow set of situations, then we'll see a rise in these small form-fit applications. This will carry some obvious downsides, including tying the developers of such applications to community support roles, and shortening the useful lifespan of the software made in this way.

Expectations of longevity, though, are the temporal version of scale -- we assume applications should work for long periods in part because it costs so much to create them. Once it's cheap and easy to throw together an application, though, that rationale weakens. Businesses routinely ask teams of well-paid people to put hundreds of hours of work creating a single PowerPoint deck that will be looked at in a single meeting. The idea that software should be built for many users, or last for many years, are cultural assumptions not required by the software itself. "

  11:45:09 PM  permalink  

StreamSage, Inc.: Search audio and video with speech and video recognition.  CPU-intensive, possible grid application.  "StreamSage's Audio/Video Search Engine finds relevant content and displays it in a prioritized list of search results. Whether the content is a news story, training presentation or web conference, StreamSage automatically identifies the precise intervals of content that are relevant for every topic addressed in the media file. The resulting index of "Relevance Intervals" allows you to quickly find the information in audio/video content that you need."  Example: NASA indexes a lecture series.  11:08:33 PM  permalink  

GrassFire.org: Right-wing answer to MoveOn.org, complete with Kerry-Kennedy comparison ads...  10:47:28 PM  permalink  

Richard Clarke and cybersecurity:  Refers to a speech he gave in 2002: "At the Black Hat Briefings in Las Vegas in the summer of 2002, Clarke gave a keynote address in which he outlined several bold ideas to secure the Internet. Clarke drew a round of applause from the gathered security professionals when he said the software industry "has an obligation to provide software that works." He further called upon software makers to ship products with unused processes turned off by default. And he suggested that broadband suppliers supply their customers with firewalls and antivirus protection--a recommendation I still think should be implemented. [Clarke believes not doing so is "like selling cars without seatbelts."]

More daring, however, was Clarke's suggestion that the U.S. government could lead a security revolution by procuring only computer products certified by the National Intergovernmental Audit Forum (NIAF) testing program. While this satisfied the current administration's desire to let the marketplace decide which products it wants to use, NIAF testing apparently sounded like too much government regulation to the creators of the NSSC." His recommendations were watered down, with no enforcement, no NIAF testing, and no broadband firewall requirement. 

  10:41:26 PM  permalink  

Panasonic lightweight notebook: The Panasonic ToughBook CF-W2 weighs 2.8 pounds with a drive that burns CDs and plays DVD movies.  It's about 10-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches and 1-1/4 inches thick.  12.1 inch display.  Up to 8 hours battery life (!).  $2200.  Limited distribution.  Poor choice of bundled software (updates required upon purchase).

 

  10:37:57 PM  permalink  

Ultrawideband roadmap: "The closer the devices are to each other, the faster the UWB transfer speeds. Inside four meters, data move at 480 Mbps, comparable with the wired USB 2.0 transfer rate. "  First devices expected xmas 2005, then built onto motherboards 2007.  Hi def TV is somewhere in the middle.  "Flash memory used in digital cameras could become obsolete, proponents say. When shooting photos with digital still or video cameras, UWB will allow hobbyists to stream their creations right onto [iPod-like] hard disks stored in their briefcases or backpacks. "  10:33:58 PM  permalink  

Search NextGen: Survey of many companies with search applications or extensions.  10:28:55 PM  permalink  

Indian Lake Unwired: Dal lake in Srinagar, Kashmir, now has WiFi service available for the houseboats.  9:32:11 PM  permalink  

Arrests foil terror blast, Manila says: "A terrorist bombing was averted with the arrests of four members of Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic terrorist group, and the confiscation of 36 kilograms of TNT, the Philippine president said Tuesday. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who faces a tough re-election vote on May 10, said the explosives were to have been used to bomb trains and shopping malls in Manila.  "We have prevented a Madrid-level attack in the metropolis," she said.. She said one of the men arrested claimed responsibility for a Feb. 27 explosion and fire aboard a passenger ferry that killed more than 100 people. Officials have not concluded what caused the disaster. Arroyo said she was ordering a fresh probe into the claim, despite earlier having played down the terrorist factor in the ferry fire...

The Abu Sayyaf is known for kidnapping and beheading hostages and is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. The government considers the group a spent force, down from about 1,000 guerrillas four years ago to about 300 after the United States sent troops and instructors to help Filipino troops dislodge the rebels from their stronghold on Basilan Island. "

  9:10:14 AM  permalink  

UK Anti-Terror Raids: "Police seized a large amount of explosive material and arrested eight men across London and southeast England Tuesday in Britain's largest anti-terror operation for years. Peter Clarke, head of Britain's anti-terror branch, told a news conference more than half a ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer was discovered in a 6-foot-high plastic bag in west London. An anti-terror source said the fertilizer was similar to explosive materials used in the 2002 Bali bombings, although there was no evidence that a bombing was planned or any possible target. However the source said there was enough material to launch an attack on the same scale as the huge 1996 bombing near Canary Wharf in London's financial district. "  8:40:06 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, March 29, 2004


Online gamers number over 3m:  "750,000 players use Xbox Live, each paying $50 a year to be able to play against people elsewhere and download updates.   Sony says it has sold 2.4 million of its $40 network adapters that enable Playstation online gaming, through broadband or a dial-up connection."  Could grid computing be an application for these boxes when idle and pay users $50/year or more?  2:21:45 PM  permalink  

Secret Worlds: The Universe Within: Nice "powers of ten" tour of the universe.  2:18:58 PM  permalink  

Into week 2: "The White House at first questioned an assertion by Clarke that President Bush asked him immediately after Sept. 11 to investigate whether Saddam was involved but on Sunday it confirmed that the conversation had taken place. ..

"The Bush administration and its allies have certainly not helped the story go away," said Howard Opinsky, a Republican operative who ran media relations for Arizona Sen. John McCain during his 2000 presidential bid.  "Instead, they adopted the risky strategy of trying to refute his charges, which makes it appear that they have something to hide," he said. ..

When Republicans said they would seek to declassify testimony Clarke gave to Congress in July 2002 to demonstrate differences to what he is saying now, Clarke told them to go ahead. If that occurs, the issue will remain in the headlines even longer. "

  11:09:59 AM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, March 28, 2004


More stuff you can search with Google:  Google returns links to display

  • UPS or FedEx packages: enter the tracking number, digits only
  • US Maps by area code
  • UPC product descriptions:  enter the 12-digit number under the bar doce
  • Flight status details: enter the airline and number (eg Qantas 26)
  • Vehicle identifier:  enter the VIN from the door frame, like JH4NA1157MT001832 to find out the car's year, make, and model
  3:43:17 PM  permalink  

MSNBC Poll on Bush and the 9/11 Charges:  Amazing disconnect between 21000 self-selected web respondents and the Newsweek poll 1000 randomized respondents.  75% of web respondents say Bush has not taken terrorism seriously enough; 61% of the public think they have.  60% on the web thought Clinton took it seriously, 65% of the public think not seriously enough.   Many possible explanations; an interesting one is that the more informed you are about the story, the less you believe the administration.  3:25:01 PM  permalink  

Terrorists Don't Need States: "The Bush team did not see Al Qaeda as an urgent threat. .. One example from the panel's report: the senior Pentagon official responsible for counterterrorism is the assistant secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict. Even by September 11, 2001, no one had been appointed to that post. ..

[It's] a new phenomenon in global politics: terrorism that is not state-sponsored but society-sponsored. Few in the American government fully grasped that a group of people without a state's support could pose a mortal threat.. An American official closely involved with counterterrorism [was asked] about state sponsorship. He replied, "Well, all that's left is Iran and to a lesser extent Syria, and it's mostly directed against Israel. States have been getting out of the terror business since the late 1980s. We have kept many governments on the list of state sponsors for political reasons. The reality is that the terror we face is mostly unconnected to states." Today's terrorists are harbored in countries like Spain and Germany—entirely unintentionally. They draw on support not from states but private individuals—Saudi millionaires, Egyptian radicals, Yemenite preachers." This makes the "war of ideas" more important, and by Clarke's analysis, makes the war on Iraq more damaging.

  3:16:46 PM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, March 27, 2004


Clarke Book Reignites Debate Over Iraq Invasion: More experts on the Iraq distraction:  "Flynt Leverett, a former CIA analyst and Middle East specialist who left Bush's National Security Council staff a year ago, also agrees.  "Clarke's critique of administration decision-making and how it did not balance the imperative of finishing the job against al Qaeda versus what they wanted to do in Iraq is absolutely on the money," Leverett said.

He said that Arabic-speaking Special Forces officers and CIA officers who were doing a good job tracking Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri and other al Qaeda leaders were pulled out of Afghanistan in March 2002 to begin preparing for the war against Iraq. "We took the people out who could have caught them," he said. "But even if we get bin Laden or Zawahiri now, it is two years too late. Al Qaeda is a very different organization now. It has had time to adapt. The administration should have finished this job."

Jessica Stern, Harvard University lecturer and author of "Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill," also agrees with Clarke. "It was a distraction on the war on terrorism and made it more difficult to prosecute because the al Qaeda movement used the war in Iraq to mobilize new recruits and energize the movement," she said. "And we apparently sent Special Forces from Afghanistan, where they should have been fighting al Qaeda, to Iraq."

Pat Lang, who was head Middle East and South Asia intelligence in the Defense Intelligence Agency for seven years, said: "When you commit as much time and attention and resources as we did to Iraq, which I do not believe is connected to the worldwide war against the jihadis, then you subtract what you could commit to the war on terrorism. You see that especially in the Special Forces commitment, as we have only so many of them." "

  3:14:55 PM  permalink  

'Wartime President' MIA: Spot on.  "What would a "wartime president" have done this week, as a bipartisan commission's public hearings on the Sept. 11 tragedy were being engulfed by political bickering?  
 
I like to think that this hypothetical leader would have found a way to rise above the fray and unite the country: He would have embraced the commission's work, forthrightly admitted his own mistakes, sent his national security adviser to testify publicly -- and insisted that the security of the United States was too important to be buried in election-year squabbles.

President Bush and his White House handlers did pretty much the opposite. They fanned the flames of partisan debate; .. they stonewalled; rather than testify before the cameras, Rice spent part of her Wednesday afternoon dishing dirt to reporters .. 

Bush flunked the test, in other words."

  3:10:46 PM  permalink  

Daalder and Lindsay on Clarke and Bush:  The "broader, more troubling point that Mr. Clarke's accusations raise is that Mr. Bush does not understand the threat we confront. For Mr. Bush and his advisers it is not al-Qaeda that is the real danger so much as the states that supposedly support it. Thus, a Defence Department spokesman, responding to Mr. Clarke's claim that Mr. Wolfowitz did not take the al-Qaeda terrorist threat seriously, said Mr. Wolfowitz did see al-Qaeda "as a major threat to U.S. security, the more so because of the state support it received from the Taliban and because of its possible links to Iraq."

The assumption driving Mr. Bush's war on terrorism is that the United States can win by targeting rogue states and the tyrants who rule them. The war in Afghanistan was about ousting the Taliban and denying al-Qaeda a sanctuary; the Iraq war was about ousting Saddam.  That view of the terrorist threat is deeply flawed, quite apart from the dubious claims about ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq. Al-Qaeda is a transnational network of terrorists, less like a state than like a non-governmental organization or multinational corporation with multiple independent franchises. It thrives on an Islamist ideology, and extends its presence to the far reaches of the globe -- not just in rogue and failed states, but within the West as well. Its terrorists can strike -- whether in Bali, Casablanca, Riyadh, Istanbul, Madrid or New York and Washington -- without the direct support of states. That is what makes it so frightening.

Mr. Clarke's charges have stung the Bush administration not just because of the stature of the accuser, but because at their core, they say that more than two years after the worst terrorist attack in history, the President and his advisers still don't get what happened.   That is the true, and alarming, message of this week's debate."

  11:14:27 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, March 26, 2004



Firetide mesh 'instant networks': "Firetide HotPoint wireless mesh routers [are an] alternative to standard LAN cabling. In addition to enabling wireless connectivity for standard networking devices such as computers, printers, and Ethernet hubs, HotPoint routers also eliminate costly backhaul wiring for wireless access points and hotspots. Because they form automatically without wires, Firetide mesh networks do not require elaborate site surveys or physical modifications to buildings and workspaces. Network installation costs will drop dramatically because time-consuming wiring between offices, walls, floors and different buildings is no longer needed. Provisioning is also easy and fast" with no drivers or setup, because ethernet ports are provided.  4:06:23 PM  permalink  

The Industrial Physicist: A new wave of microfluidic devices: Excellent review of new technologies, including the holographic optical tweezers from Arryx.   10:25:08 AM  permalink  

Clarke testimony video on C-SPAN: High political theater.  Must sees:  the opening statement, and an interchange on Iraq at 1h 21min.  Other testimonies, by Tenet et al, also worth watching on http://www.c-span.org/.    12:55:21 AM  permalink  

Clarke's Take On Terror:  The 60 Minutes article and links to videos ""Frankly," he said, "I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. Maybe. We'll never know." Clarke went on to say, "I think he's done a terrible job on the war against terrorism.""  Partial transcript here.   Also, NewsHour interview online video and text.  12:55:12 AM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, March 23, 2004


Cuba restricts Internet to those with hard currency: 2004/01/30 "The Cuban government plans to prohibit access to Internet from telephones paid for in local currency, a move seen as directed in part against the Church. Since January 14, access to Internet from phones is only allowed for lines paid for in dollars. Generally, only businesses and foreigners can pay for such lines."  5:28:28 PM  permalink  

Key stats on development:  ' "Madness is running over our planet"  [said] World Bank President James Wolfensohn addressing students at Stanford University.. World development help is running at about $56 billion a year, he said, while military expenditures are almost 20 times higher at more than $900 billion. Subsidies and tariff protections for world agriculture, including large commercial interests, reach about $350 billion a year. "This is a huge frustration. We have to find a way to focus on poverty and development ... but the big issue is indifference. People don't care. Money is not flowing to where it is needed," Wolfensohn told the students. '  4:58:04 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, March 22, 2004


Bush 'ignored al-Qaida alert': "Clarke also reveals that Philip Zelikow, a Bush transition official who is now the executive director of the [9/11] commission, was present at the meetings where the new team was briefed [on terrorism].  This news brought an outraged response from relatives of those killed in the attacks, who have long been uncomfortable about Zelikow's role, given his close ties to Bush national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

"I can't put into words how outraged I am," Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband, Ron, was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center. "This calls into question the integrity of the whole inquiry and the leadership of the commission." The families have called for Zelikow's resignation, and for him to be questioned under oath about his role in the transition when he reported to Rice.

"It is now apparent," the relatives wrote Sunday to Commission Chairman and former New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean, "why there has been so little effort to assign individual culpability. We now can see that trail would lead directly to the staff director himself."  Zelikow has previously acknowledged his role in the transition, but this is the first time it has become clear how close was his involvement in the transition's counter-terror strategy."

  8:00:00 AM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, March 21, 2004


Combining Renewable Energy With Information And Communication Technologies: a New Solution to Rural Poverty And Global Competitiveness: Nice to see a UN panel endorsing the concept:  "Combining the use of renewable energy, such as solar power, with wireless technologies and energy efficient computers should be a key strategy for developing nations in addressing the rural development crisis and in improving global competitiveness. This was the central conclusion of the Task Force for ICT Applications of Renewable Energy for Sustainable Development (IRESD), initiated two years ago in Paris, where the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Division of Technology Industry and Economics is headquartered.

The Task Force found a number of successful renewable energy and ICT projects in rural areas around the world, but points out that a variety of issues still need to be addressed in order for these examples to become more generally adopted. In particular, the group says that governments need to create incentives for using renewable energies, reduce the regulatory barriers for private networks to obtain connectivity, such as through tax incentives, and sanction the use of license-free radio spectrum. ..

Members of the Task Force [include] energy, ICT and development experts and include representatives from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Switzerland; Winrock International, USA; Massachussettes Institute of Technology (MIT), USA; Kumasi Institute of Technology and Environment (KITE), Ghana; United Nations Industrial Development Organization; an independent consultant Mark A. Foster (MAFA), USA; and Mike Jensen, South Africa."

  10:09:34 PM  permalink  

Wind and solar experience curves: " with each doubling of world wind-generating capacity, costs fall by 15 percent. The recent growth rate of 31 percent a year means costs are dropping by 15 percent about every 30 months. While natural-gas prices are highly volatile, the cost of wind power is declining. .. [Solar PV] industry experts estimate that with each doubling of cumulative production, the price drops roughly 20 percent. Over the last seven years, solar-cell sales expanded an average of 31 percent annually, doubling every 2.6 years."  10:00:04 PM  permalink  

CafePress Free Store: Interesting e-business concept:  Make up artwork, music or content, they'll reproduce it on 50 products. They'll also create an online shop for you to set your own markup, and send you the net proceeds when people buy.  So you can do content and marketing, no production or fulfillment.  9:41:32 PM  permalink  

2RSS.com: Source for software and links regarding RSS.  First, an Atom-to-RSS converter:  "As you know, many sites offer Atom feeds instead of RSS. Most noticeable Blogger.com [and therefore, Google's blogger]. .. Converting Atom XML feed to RSS feed is a new service our site offers, for free. You even don't have to register. All you have to do is to use a link to atom2rss.php page and pass your Atom URL in atom parameter. " Also, a big directory of news readers, and libraries of ASP and PHP functions for processing RSS.  9:38:07 PM  permalink  

Security Flaws Exploited Much Faster: "Security-software vendor Symantec Corp. [reports] that the rate at which Internet security holes are found leveled off at seven per day in the last six months of 2003. The bad new is that those flaws are being exploited much more quickly. "  9:10:15 PM  permalink  

Protonex Receives VC Financing for Portable Fuel Cell Technology: "Protonex Technology Corporation, today announced they received early stage financing to further develop their portable fuel cell technology for commercial applications. ..
Protonex’s portable fuel cell systems are compact, lightweight and durable, providing customers with a preferred alternative to heavier, short-term power sources such as batteries and generators. .. Protonex has been working with the military since 2000 to develop a portable, long duration power solution for portable applications. A soldier on a 3 day mission, for example, would need to carry over 20 pounds of batteries to equal the power of one Protonex portable fuel cell system. Weighing less than 5 pounds with fuel, Protonex’s products offers key advantages over conventional batteries such as increased operating times and fast refueling in the field. Targeting the 10 to 1000 Watt range, Protonex’s portable fuel cell systems are now being adapted for a wide range of mobile electronic equipment with commercial, industrial and government applications. " They offer hydrogen and methanol versions, and claim ongoing development for other fuels.  9:03:24 PM  permalink  

You call it spam, they call it a living: "About 8 percent of spam recipients actually respond. [No attribution to this stat, unfortunately.] ..

It didn't take long for accountant Laura Betterly to do the math. About 2-1/2 years ago, the single mother from Florida was looking for a lucrative career that would allow her to work at home and spend more time with her two sons, then ages 10 and 11. Betterly, already a savvy businesswoman, and three friends started a bulk e-mailing business - as she prefers to call it - with $15,000. Six months later, she had earned nearly $200,000. Today, she employs 20 people, and she's mum about what she makes, but she does reveal that her company hit the $1 million mark last year. She has moved the business out of her home and into a downtown office in Clearwater, Fla. Her sons both attend private school. And she is home for dinner every night with the boys and her new husband. ..

She calls her product "spam lite" because she does "things differently from other e-mailers." In other words, she explains, she follows the specifics of the new law and refuses to promote any product that wouldn't be appropriate for her 13-year-old son. .. "Most people imagine a guy in a trailer park smoking a cigarette and beating his wife," she says, laughing. "They are often surprised to find that I can put a sentence together."
 
Betterly thinks that when done right, bulk e-mailing can be a terrific boon to the entrepreneur.  She cites the example of a 70-year-old man who wrote a book about improving one's billiards game. He approached Betterly, she sent out millions of e-mails promoting his book, and now he supplements his Social Security income with the profits. .. Among Betterly's other clients are a distributor of alligator meat, an owner of Texas ranch land, and a debt negotiation company (not "consolidation" - a distinction she makes clear).

Betterly is paid in various ways. She charges one fee for every 1 million e-mails she sends. That fee can range from $600 to $1,000, depending on whether the promotion is targeted to a specific location or demographic. She then charges about half that amount for each additional million e-mails sent. .. On a typical day, Betterly's firm might send out 8 million pieces of spam for more than 10 different clients. If 100 people respond, she'll do just fine. .. Betterly no longer sends bulk e-mail to anyone with a Yahoo address. Yahoo and a few other ISPs filter too well, she says, so she doesn't get much response."

  8:54:03 PM  permalink  

Disruptive technology: Nice idea on health care from C. Christensen:  It's "an industry in desperate need of disruption. In its current state, a gross amount of overhead costs prepare hospitals and doctors to treat the most complex illnesses known to mankind.  In reality, most people need a quick look and a prescription.

Christensen talked about a new business model coming out of Minnesota as the perfect disruptor for medicine.  Because Minnesota allows nurses to write prescriptions, the idea would be to create medical drop-in sites that treat 14 primary illnesses. Everything from strep throat to "burn your warts off."   The flat rate for a checkup and 'scrip is $29. If it takes more than 15 minutes, it's free.

This is what you and I want, right? No long wait on the phone. No huge bills for a simple checkup. Quick and easy, in and out.  This would provide an alternate product to consumers and make going to a big ol' HMO with a sore throat an unacceptable hassle for most consumers. "

  8:46:25 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, March 19, 2004


Nokia 5140 RFID Reader - Fun with RFID: A personal sized unit that links with a cell phone.  " The Nokia Mobile RFID Kit extends the mobility of field force personnel .. Simply by touching a smart object, the user can initiate tasks in their Nokia phone - call and send text messages or access databases and record new data entries.

"There are numerous ways to utilize the Nokia Mobile RFID Kit in a business", said Gerhard Romen, Head of Market Development, Nokia Ventures Organization. "The user can easily launch services and conveniently access phone functions like dial or send messages, just by touching smart objects, in this case RFID tags. The phone reader will read the content of the smart object, and translate it to an action. For example, a field service engineer can intuitively start browsing the latest service instructions to repair a machine on site. It is also possible to collect meter reading data to the phone by keying the reading into the phone, replacing the paper and pen method still widely in use today. The Kit can also replace the pen and paper method in recording time and attendance, for example."

The Nokia Mobile RFID Kit is part of the Nokia Field Force Solution and operates in the 13.56MHz frequency range, at a very short range of typically 2-3 centimetres, using the ISO-14443A standard. The short reading distance is optimal for field force solutions where tags placed in premises and devices are read individually by a workforce that moves." 

There could be consumer applications too.  Scan a store item and find its price online (via froogle, e.g.).  Find out if others are scanning you, or find the tags on objects you own.  Pick up a CD in a store and have the songs streamed to your phone.  It changes things when the consumer is the scanner.

  9:03:28 PM  permalink  

CommuniGate Pro: MAPI Connector: "The CommuniGate Pro MAPI Connector acts as a "MAPI provider". It accepts Messaging API requests from Microsoft Outlook (Outlook 98, Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002, Outlook XP and later) running in the "groupware" mode, and from other Windows applications. The MAPI Connector converts these requests into extended IMAP commands and sends them to the CommuniGate Pro Server. "  10:52:06 AM  permalink  

CBEN: The Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology at Rice University studies the potential good and bad environmental impacts of nanotech.   Recent Congressional testimony by its director Vicki Colvin summarizes its point of view.  10:45:08 AM  permalink  

Nano industry should address environmental issues: "Nanotechnology will best flourish in an environment that is largely self-regulated but includes measured governmental oversight, according to a report released today by a think tank in California.  Emerging technologies of the past, especially biotechnology, offer lessons that could help businesses, researchers and policy-makers acknowledge and address public fears that could stifle growth.  But it is critical that nanotechnology’s advocates and those who are concerned about new technology’s impact on society and the environment begin discussions now, before ideology and politics come into play."  Full report issued Nov 2002.  Greenpeace issued a comparable position advocating government studies in July 2003.  10:38:27 AM  permalink  

Quantum Dots (QD) Used To Visualize Cellular Processes: Great application of quantum dots.  From the press release: "These are nano-sized semiconductor crystals a mere ten millionth of a millimeter in diameter that fluoresce in several different colors upon excitation with a laser source. These crystals enabled the researchers to deliver real-time video-clips of signal transmission in the so-called erbB receptor family, important targets for many anti-tumor drugs such as antibodies directed against breast cancer. Among other processes, the movies capture the uptake and subsequent redistribution of the receptor-growth factor complexes into the interior of the cell. .. Conventional tools, such as fluorescent dyes and polymer spheres, bleach too quickly - sometimes within seconds - to be of use for extended video images of living cells, according to the researchers. Quantum Dots, on the other hand, are not only very photostable but also very bright, making it possible to trace many elements of the cell for minutes or even hours at a time. "  3:29:20 AM  permalink  

Blogad classifieds: Buy a week on a small blog for $20, or a large political one for $400.  3:19:52 AM  permalink  

Do terrorists play election politics?: " In recent tapes and on websites, Al Qaeda operatives have targeted a number of countries for helping the US.  By one US government official's count, Al Qaeda has now hit 20 of 23 countries that either Zawahiri or bin Laden said they would after the invasion of Afghanistan. "Japan, Norway, and Nigeria are the only ones that haven't been attacked," he says."  3:07:01 AM  permalink  

A progress report on Iraq: An interesting collection of stats and polls.  2:58:59 AM  permalink  

Microsoft goes even more global: "The latest versions of the company's dominant Windows computer operating system and popular Office software will soon be available in languages ranging from Ethiopia's Amharic to Inuktitut of the Arctic's Inuit, under a project between Microsoft and various local governments and universities.  The Local Language Program has already resulted in a Hindi version of Microsoft's software, and there are plans to make Windows and Office available in a total of nine languages spoken in India by the end of the year.  The software maker hopes the program will soon double the roster of languages available for Microsoft products, from 40 to 80. Hundreds of millions of people speak the languages that will be offered, but it's unclear how many of them have access to computers right now."  2:45:43 AM  permalink  

News blogs making money: "Weblogs are going commercial. Marketers including Xerox, America Online and CNN have run ads on some of the Internet's most popular blogs, according to the Wall Street Journal. A spokesman for the Interactive Advertising Bureau said blogs really are not on the radar of large, mainstream advertisers. But two politically oriented efforts, Daily Kos and TalkingPointsMemo.com, are reportedly generating as much as $5,000 a month in revenue. A Chapel Hill, N.C. company has started to represent these online publishers to advertisers. Henry Copeland, founder of the Blogads service told the Journal he's placed ads on about 200 blogs"  2:41:04 AM  permalink  

Profile of Nanosys: "Nanosys is like industrial design company IDEO, which doesn't make products but improves them. .. Similarly, firms knock on Nanosys' door with a need or an idea, and Nanosys figures out how nanotechnology might help.

For some of its partners, Nanosys is working on what it calls nanostructured surface coatings. By messing with atoms, Nanosys can create a coating that can do things never before possible. For instance, one coating is super-hydrophobic — which means, as Empedocles tells me, it can make an item "so water resistant that water literally bounces off it."  This might someday make windshields that never need windshield wipers. Or clothes that could be worn underwater and remain dry. ..

Another Nanosys project, with Japan's Matsushita Electric, is making a photovoltaic liquid that can be poured onto a surface, turning the surface into a solar energy panel. Within a couple of years, Matsushita hopes to market roofing tiles with Nanosys' coating. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for unsightly conventional glass solar panels, you could just turn your roof into a solar energy collector for maybe one-tenth the cost...

Nanosys is essentially developing liquid electronics. Pour it onto a surface, and when it solidifies, its nanowires can turn that surface into a display. The process would be cheap, and could be done on thin sheets of plastic at low temperatures."

  2:21:28 AM  permalink  

WiFi paid hotspots disappoint:  Hotspots worldwide generate $80m/yr, in the US $28m -- "what Verizon Wireless generates every 12 hours" with cell phones.  Analysts expect that no hotspot provider will make money before the end of 2005.  Cometa has built only 230 hotspots and won't say how many of the original 20,000 planned will actually get built. 

In Asia, providers are selling access at lower prices.  In S Korea, one provider offers unlimted wifi for $13/mo, or only $1/mo additional for home broadband subscribers. They have 360,000 subcribers.  Similar Hong Kong providers have 40,000. Last year, 4.7m Asians used a hotspot, compared to 2.7m Americans and 1.7m Europeans.  Resistance to $6/hr or $10/rates is high.

  2:17:21 AM  permalink  

Wind Turbines, Photovoltaics Winners in Distributed Generation Market: " In the distributed generation (DG) industry, most of the fuel cell and microturbine companies reported disappointing results for 2003, as they failed to ship expected unit quantities of their products. Wind turbine and photovoltaic companies, however, experienced extraordinary sales, and are expected to translate these sales into solid market share gains on the competition, finds ABI Research. "  2:07:28 AM  permalink  

IBM Researchers Develop Low-Cost Method for Making High-Performance Semiconductors: "A team of researchers at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center (Yorktown Heights, NY.) recently developed a simple, low-cost process to make extraordinarily thin films of semiconducting materials that allows electrical charges to move through them about 10 times more easily than had been reported for all other similar approaches. Such an increase can enable a broad array of low-cost electronics and new pervasive-computing applications. "These types of easily processed semiconducting films could eventually be used to make circuitry for very-low-cost or flexible displays, high-performance smart cards, sensors and solar cells or for flexible electronics coated onto a wide variety of molded or plastic shapes," said the IBM Research team leader, David Mitzi. ..

Spin coating is simple and cheap: Several drops of a liquid solution are simply placed onto a spinning platter.  Centripetal forces then spread the liquid to a uniform thickness over the entire surface. The film's thickness is usually determined by the solution's viscosity (its resistance to flow) and the rate and duration of spinning. The liquid is then cured into a solid thin film upon which transistors and other various electronic devices can be made. Until now, the only semiconducting materials that could be made using spin coating had limited usefulness due to their low charge "mobility" -- a measure of how fast electronic circuits made with a semiconductor can operate. Better semiconductors could not be dissolved in any liquid that would result in a thin film that retained the desired mobility. Mitzi's team developed a way to dissolve such higher-mobility materials in a liquid that could be used in a spin-coating process, leaving a very uniformly-controlled film. Moreover, in a transistor made on the films, the materials exhibited 10 times the charge mobility of any previously spin-coated seniconductor. "

  2:06:33 AM  permalink  

ISP Gets Tough With 'Zombie' Customers: "Chris Belthoff, a senior security analyst at Sophos, said zombie machines are a drain on an ISPs' bandwidth and storage budgets [and] call center costs .. "The problem Comcast is trying to solve is a very serious one," said Belthoff, whose research has found that about 30 percent of spam comes from consumer-based PCs. ..

Antivirus experts estimate that the recent MyDoom-A worm compromised 500,000 to 1 million computers -- all with open proxies. And they expect that army of zombie machines will be put to use in the spam community, much as anti-spam experts believe computers infected with the Sobig virus were. For end users, the best advice is to keep antivirus and personal firewall programs updated, Belthoff said. And from Comcast's point of view, setting up a personal firewall is increasingly becoming a customer requirement for getting online. "

  1:47:06 AM  permalink  

Hackers Embrace P2P Concept: "Computer security experts in the private sector and U.S. government are monitoring the emergence of a new, highly sophisticated hacker tool that uses the same peer-to-peer (P2P) networking abilities that power controversial file-sharing networks like Kazaa and BearShare.

By some estimates, hundreds of thousands of computers running Microsoft's Windows operating system have already been infected worldwide. The tool, a program that security researchers have dubbed "Phatbot," allows its authors to gain control over computers and link them into P2P networks that can be used to send large amounts of spam e-mail messages or to flood Web sites with data in an attempt to knock them offline. "

  1:39:47 AM  permalink  

ResourceShelfPLUS: Extensive list of patents and filings in search technology.  1:30:54 AM  permalink  

Topix.net launches: Interesting news and RSS aggregator.  "You can keyword search the Topix database (over 4000 sources, a great deal of content that's difficult to quickly access elsewhere) but the real power comes via easy-to-use "pre-built" pages that aggregate news and other information onto over 150,000 topical pages (company names, industry names, etc.). This total also includes a local news and info page for every Zip Code. "  FAQ: "the classification technology can be applied to a variety of text classification problems."  RSS feeds available, though not yet for search results.  1:24:31 AM  permalink  

EPIC FOIA Gallery 2004: The Electronic Privacy Information Center uses the Freedom of Info Act to get government documents on various topics.  It has collected highlights from each of the last several years -- facinating reading, esp on uses of the Patriot Act.  12:56:20 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, March 18, 2004


Google Search: superfund near East Palo Alto, CA 94303: Here's an interesting example of Google's new local search.  Instead of searching for hotels near my house, I asked for "superfund" (as in toxic waste sites).  Its top 10 results includes 4 toxic sites, 3 city agencies, 2 consulting firms that advise about superfund issues, and one newspaper.  The newspaper link is an odd one: it points to a page where an environmental advocacy group asks people to write letters to the newspaper!  Changing the query to "superfund site" adds a company that sold software to a superfund-related company.  I also looked for "USAID" as a way to find local people in international development, and got a similar mix with a few interesting bits and some odd ones.  Google calls it a beta version; it's US only.  It'll be interesting to see if it improves.  11:15:29 PM  permalink  

FBI adds to wiretap wish list: "Legal experts said the 85-page filing includes language that could be interpreted as forcing companies to build back doors into everything from instant messaging and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) programs to Microsoft's Xbox Live game service. The introduction of new services that did not support a back door for police would be outlawed, and companies would be given 15 months to make sure that existing services comply. "  It's now before the FCC.  1:17:21 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, March 17, 2004


Hans Blix -- March 2004: Delay was feasible without ruling out regime change.  "I don't think the Europeans actually were saying we would never exclude use of armed force. They did not. They rather said they would like to have longer period of inspections. And we broke them off at three and a half months, which was a very short time. There was nothing in the resolution from 2003 that suggested that it should be so short. So if the Iraqis would have practiced cat and mouse in the spring of 2003 on inspectors, then I think the Europeans would have come along. There would have been an authorization of the Security Council and there would have been legitimacy for the action..

I think it proved that international inspections, if independent of individual countries, and which is run professionally, came to conclusions which were closer to reality than intelligence agencies which were linked to political governments that had preconceived ideas.

And I think that's a lesson for the future because the world will need inspections in the future in Iran, in Libya and in North Korea. And in my view, the best would be to have these inspectors coming in, demanding the cooperation of the countries and also have the leverage of the political and military support. I have no doubt that we would not have been admitted into Iraq if it had not been for the U.S. military buildup in the summer of 2002, so both are needed. But in both cases, I think critical thinking is essential. "

  9:03:13 PM  permalink  

The new Pentagon papers: A high-ranking military officer and analyst tells the colorful story of the neocons in Pentagon and the buildup for Iraq:  "War is generally crafted and pursued for political reasons, but the reasons given to the Congress and to the American people for this one were inaccurate and so misleading as to be false. Moreover, they were false by design. Certainly, the neoconservatives never bothered to sell the rest of the country on the real reasons for occupation of Iraq -- more bases from which to flex U.S. muscle with Syria and Iran, and better positioning for the inevitable fall of the regional ruling sheikdoms. Maintaining OPEC on a dollar track and not a euro and fulfilling a half-baked imperial vision also played a role. These more accurate reasons for invading and occupying could have been argued on their merits -- an angry and aggressive U.S. population might indeed have supported the war and occupation for those reasons. But Americans didn't get the chance for an honest debate. "  3:37:30 PM  permalink  

Sy Hersh update on Pakistan, Iran, nukes and Osama:  Wide ranging review of current info.  "A former senior intelligence official said to me, .. “It’s a quid pro quo: we’re going to get our troops inside Pakistan in return for not forcing Musharraf to deal with Khan.” Some of the most highly skilled Special Forces units, such as Task Force 121, will be shifted from Iraq to Pakistan [in February and March]. ..

The centrifuge materials that the inspectors found in Libya had not been assembled—in most cases, in fact, the goods were still in their shipping cases. “I am not impressed by what I’ve seen,” a senior nonproliferation official told me. “It was not a well-developed program—not a serious research-and-development approach to make use of what they bought. It was useless. But I was absolutely struck by what the Libyans were able to buy. What’s on the market is absolutely horrendous. It’s a Mafia-type business, with corruption and secrecy.”

I.A.E.A. inspectors, to their dismay, even found in Libya precise blueprints for the design and construction of a half-ton nuclear weapon. “It’s a sweet little bomb, put together by engineers who know how to assemble a weapon,” an official in Vienna told me. “No question it’ll work. Just dig a hole and test it. It’s too big and too heavy for a Scud, but it’ll go into a family car. It’s a terrorist’s dream.” ..

[An] operative said, it was “the Libyans who blew up the Pakistanis,” and who made the role of Khan’s black market known. The Americans, he said, asked “questions about those orders and Libya said it had them.” It was, in essence, a sting, and was perceived that way by Musharraf. He was enraged by what he called, in a nationally televised speech last month—delivered in Urdu, and not officially translated by the Pakistani government—the betrayal of Pakistan by his “Muslim brothers” in both Libya and Iran... The intelligence operative went on, “Qaddafi is very pragmatic and studied the timing. It was the right time. The United States wanted to have a success story, and he banked on that.” ..

Another nonproliferation official depicted the challenge facing the I.A.E.A. inspection regime as “a seismic shift—the globalization of the nuclear world.” The official said, “We have to move from inspecting declared sites to ‘Where does this shit come from?’ If we stay focussed on the declared, we miss the nuclear supply matrix.” At this point, the international official asked me, in all seriousness, “Why hasn’t A. Q. Khan been taken out by Israel or the United States?”"

  3:34:25 PM  permalink  

Michael Ignatieff on Iraq: Excellent article from a liberal interventionist, with a few comments from me.  2:55:35 PM  permalink  

Iraqi exiles gave false information to media: It would be quite a competition to find the biggest fool and scoundrel, among the INC, the Congress, and the many ideologes in the administration:  "A June 26, 2002, letter from the Iraqi National Congress to the Senate Appropriations Committee listed 108 articles based on information provided by the INC's Information Collection Program, a U.S.-funded effort to collect intelligence in Iraq.  Knight Ridder, which obtained a copy of the INC letter, reviewed all of the articles in what the document called a ``summary of ICP product cited in major English language news outlets worldwide (October 2001-May 2002).'  The articles made numerous assertions that so far haven't been substantiated 11 months after Baghdad fell..

Feeding the information to the news media, as well as to selected administration officials and members of Congress, helped foster an impression that there were multiple sources of intelligence on Iraq's illicit weapons programs and links to bin Laden. .. U.S. intelligence officials have determined that virtually all of the defectors' information was marginal or useless, and that some of the defectors were fabricators or embellished the threat from Hussein.

The Information Collection Program (ICP) was financed out of the more than $18 million that Congress approved for the Iraqi National Congress, led by Chalabi, now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, between 1999 and 2003. The group remains on the Pentagon's payroll.  The INC letter said that it voluntarily fed ICP information to Arab and Western news media and to two officials in the offices of Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the leading invasion advocates.

The information bypassed U.S. intelligence channels and reached the recipients even after CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and FBI officers questioned the accuracy of the materials or the motives of those who supplied them.  .. The CIA and the State Department had long viewed the INC as unreliable."

  2:25:53 PM  permalink  

Sobering numbers: "This year, Bush says the federal government, outside of Social Security, will spend $1,939 billion but raise only $1,264 billion in revenues, for a deficit of $675 billion. More than a third of regular budget outlays will be financed with borrowed money.

Bush's assertion that he'll cut the deficit in half by 2009 includes the following explicit assumptions: Spending on defense and homeland security will fall by 14% as a share of the economy by 2009. Total domestic appropriations will plummet by 24%, with huge cuts in science (-19%), pollution control (-27%), transportation (-18%), disaster relief (-49%), education (-22%), housing assistance (-33%), and law enforcement (-20%). The alternative minimum tax will be fixed, but at no cost -- rather than the $65 billion that even a modest correction would cost in 2009 alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Even with all these ridiculous assumptions, Bush's projected regular budget deficit for 2009 remains at $501 billion. He offsets that against the $263 billion he projects as Social Security's surplus that year. Voila! A "unified deficit" of a mere $237 billion. "

  9:39:48 AM  permalink  

Rumsfeld and Friedman: Classic -- Rumsfeld caught in the act, trying to claim that he didn't call Saddam an immediate threat, Friedman nails him.  What a weasel.  A must-watch.  9:18:38 AM  permalink  

SharpReader RSS Aggregator: New widows app with several interesting features.  Appears to be desktop app only, not web-viewable.  8:51:08 AM  permalink  

Groove in Iraq: "Groove closed a first-quarter deal with the Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) for use of its collaboration software. .. Groove was enlisted a year ago by Dr. Eric Rasmussen, a civil military medical coordinator looking for technology to connect humanitarian efforts. Chat, maps, satellite images, manuals, news articles, pharmaceutical inventory, PowerPoint presentations and photos were commonly traded in Groove, and when phones were deemed unreliable, Grooveâ019s Voice Over Internet Protocol tool was enlisted."  8:39:12 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, March 15, 2004


AcceleNet XML compression: "XML-Xpress™ (XXP) is a software data compression engine optimized for XML (eXtensible Markup Language) data formats, particularly for query-based data transmissions where XML schemas are known in advance. It is the premier solution for software developers and companies who are distributing or storing information over the Internet via XML. As the use of XML in communication systems and databases increases, XML-Xpress™ provides the means of decreasing the amount of data that has to be transmitted or stored. " Compression ratios of 5 - 35 x are claimed, with a thruput test cited at 9mbps.  10:19:31 AM  permalink  

WI-FI wireless revolution in South-Africa: A discussion on community wifi networking in South Africa, including tips on defying the regulators, on using wifi for 50km links, and on setting up neighborhood perimeter security systems with webcams and infra red motion detectors.  8:14:09 AM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, March 14, 2004


Gateway Signs Another Grid Customer: March 2004: "Gateway has signed on another customer for its Grid computing serviceRapid Prototypes says it is analyzing the design of backplanes for next-generation optical switching equipment - and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process - thanks to its use of the Grid computing service from Gateway and United Devices.   ..

Field programmable gateway arrays (FPGAs) are integrated circuits (ICs) that can be programmed in the field after they've been manufactured. They let engineers design specialized ICs that can later be produced hard-wired in large quantities for distribution to computer manufacturers and end users. In this case, Rapid Prototypes is analyzing backplane systems for next generation Internet switching equipment.  Rapid Prototypes president Brian Von Herzen said the Gateway service "allows us to simulate very high-speed electronics without investing in expensive new hardware.."

Gateway's Grid service launched December 2002, joining about 7,000 computers in Gateway retail stores across the U.S. The system ranks among the 10 largest supercomputers in the world by processing power, producing more than 11 TFLOPS (trillion floating point operations per second) at peak capacity, with most nodes averaging 2 GHz or better."

  2:19:14 PM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, March 13, 2004


RFID and sensor tags for sale: "The RFID division of Mannings, a company located in Southport, Merseyside, England, has launched a new system of RFID tags and readers that can monitor machines used in industrial and manufacturing plants. The system features RFID two tag models—dubbed aTAG 1 and aTAG 2—with chips that can be configured to operate in any frequency ranging from 860 MHz to 920 MHz. The reader, which can accept signals from aTAG tags regardless of the chosen frequency, has a read range of up to 100 meters. Measuring 70mm by 64mm by 23mm in size, aTAG 1 has a total of 18 inputs (six analog and 12 digital) that can accept data from a variety of sensors; the smaller aTAG 2 has six (two analog and four digital).

Both tag models come with a temperature sensor, a battery, a battery-level sensor and a flash memory card that enables the configuration of the tag’s frequency and data transmission rate. The memory card also records the tag’s alarms settings for sending out alerts whenever a particular event happens. Battery life can last up to 10 years, depending on the signal and input frequency. The tags can also be wired to power source.

Each aTAG tag is identified by a unique algorithm that lets an aTAG reader pinpoint the tag’s location and, if the tag is moving, its direction of movement. The tag can by connected to temperature transducers, flow meters, pressure monitors, gas analyzers or other instruments that use 4 to 20 milliamp analog or digital I/O outputs. Once the reader receives the data transmitted by the tag, the data can be relayed to a PC or plant monitoring system using a standard RS232 cable.

Mannings and its partner, Handels Ock Konsulthuset Plefo AB, a company in Sweden, say the aTAG system can be integrated into existing building management systems, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software systems, or other monitoring software and is also compatible with wireless technology from Bluetooth. .. The aTAG readers and tags cost £40 to £180 (US$72 to US$324) each."  The Mannings site has examples of readers for applications like livestock tracking.

  12:00:09 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, March 12, 2004


Innovation - link it outside the firm:  A provocative observation from John Wolpert of IBM:  "There are some great minds focused on how companies build innovation practices inside the firm. To me, though, the best of these practices ultimately die off or are gamed into irrelevance by the forces roiling inside a closed system like a firm: getting ignored, shifting and capricious priorities, orphan opportunities that simply don't fit with the business model of that specific firm. On the other hand, I have observed that innovators who somehow connect to innovators in other firms (a trick of organizational savvy rife with legal risks, to be sure) tend to grow in influence, and both their innovation regimes and the ideas that come out of such regimes are more likely to enjoy sustained attention, funding, and - more important - wider sources of insight and capabilities. "  12:39:36 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, March 11, 2004


Radio E-mail in West Africa: IRC uses a Codan-based HF radio email network, using Qmail and other open-source packages on salvaged computers.   "The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has one of their largest operations in Guinea, providing services and support to a population of up to 200,000 refugees quartered in many camps established throughout the country. I became involved with IRC when my wife accepted the position of Country Director for the program in the summer of 2001.  ..

The current result of our own Radio E-mail project is that we are now serving mail to over 50 desktops and 150 staff in four offices throughout Guinea. The entire wide area network is serviced behind a single public IP address, at a total ISP cost of $150(USD) per month. Based mostly on existing hardware, the Radio E-mail project has leaped boundaries and opened dialogs for its users that were previously not possible.  Best of all, the system has deployed standard network and internet technologies throughout the organization and throughout Guinea utilizing the freely available, best of breed, borderless open-source technologies."    Reference is also made to MAFlink, a Christian missionary networking organization with HF, Satphone, and dialup services.  They operate HF email networks in Congo, Mali, Haiti, Ecuador and West Papua.

  9:34:15 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Broadband overtaking dial-up in major cities: "Broadband is rapidly becoming the preferred way residents of major U.S. metropolitan areas are accessing the Internet, according to a study released Wednesday.  San Diego currently has the highest broadband penetration rate in the nation, with 52% of its residents connecting to the Internet using a high-speed service, according to online measurement firm ComScore Networks. Boston ranks second with an even split between broadband and narrowband customers. New York City is in third place with 49%.  The San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles rank ninth and tenth with 44% broadband penetration each.

Despite gains in certain major cities, dial-up services remain the preferred choice for Americans to go online. 64% percent of all online Americans still use a dial-up services such as America Online, MSN and EarthLink. AOL still holds the lead, counting 28% of the U.S. Internet population as subscribers. "

  12:21:04 PM  permalink  

Ocean Power Delivery Limited: "Ocean Power Delivery Ltd has developed a novel offshore wave energy converter called Pelamis. Building on technology developed for the offshore industry, the Pelamis has a similar output to a modern wind turbine... It is anticipated that future `wave farm' projects would consist of an arrangement of interlinked multi-machines connected to shore by a single subsea cable. A typical 30MW installation would occupy a square kilometre of ocean .. "  The final full-scale prototype machine is built and being prepared for initial sea trials which will begin at the beginning of March.

Animation available.  News story summarizes operation:  "The 750 kW Pelamis machine measures 120m long by 3.5m wide (about the size of four train carriages) .. [It] is a semi-submerged, articulated structure composed of cylindrical sections linked by hinged joints. The wave-induced motion of these joints is resisted by hydraulic rams, which pump high-pressure oil through hydraulic motors via smoothing accumulators. The hydraulic motors drive electrical generators to produce electricity. Power from all the joints is fed down a single umbilical cable to a junction on the sea bed. Several devices can be connected together and linked to shore through a single seabed cable.  A novel joint configuration is used to induce a tuneable, cross-coupled resonant response, which greatly increases power capture in small seas..

The machine is held in position by a mooring system, for which a patent has been applied for, comprising of a combination of floats and weights which prevent the mooring cables becoming taut .. Ideally the Pelamis would be moored in waters approximately 50-60m in depth (often 5-10km from the shore). This would allow access to the great potential of the larger swell waves but it would avoid the costs involved in a longer submarine cable .. the prototype design [meets] (DNV) offshore codes and standards."

  12:09:42 PM  permalink  

Sorcerer II sails the world finding new species and new energy genes:  "Using precise mathematical algorithms previously used to assemble sequence results from single species, the researchers were able to assemble whole genomes and major sections of genomes from the diverse microbial community found in the ocean. The paper describes a minimum of 1,800 new species identified in the Sargasso Sea. As well, there were 1,214,207 new genes identified by the researchers, which is a significant increase over the number currently in public databases. ..

One of the most important single discoveries from the Sargasso Sea environmental shotgun sequencing study is the 782 new rhodopsin-like photoreceptor genes. Only a few dozen photoreceptors have been characterized in microorganisms to date and less than 200 photoreceptors have been discovered from all species, including human where they are responsible for our vision. Therefore, this discovery represents a substantial increase in the total number of this family of proteins.   One interpretation of this finding is that at least 50% of the new species discovered use some type of photobiology and could explain the diversity of species in such a low nutrient environment. Better understanding of these photoreceptor genes could be very important to IBEA researchers as they explore the mechanisms of photosynthesis as a means to efficiently and economically produce hydrogen as a fuel source. ..

Dr. Venter also announced the official launch of the Sorcerer II Expedition, a scientific expedition of discovery that will circumnavigate the globe under sail, surveying marine and terrestrial microbial populations. The Expedition has the potential to uncover tens of thousands of new microbial species and tens of millions of new genes.   The voyage and sample collection are being funded by the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation and by the Discovery Channel Quest Program. The Sorcerer II Expedition is the subject of a Discovery Channel documentary film slated to air in 2005.   In addition to the DOE Office of Science grant previously announced, the Expedition has received an important new grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for $4.25 million which will be used to sequence the DNA collected along the coast of North America."  The site has pictures and flash presentations.

  10:42:59 AM  permalink  

Researchers Report Bubble Fusion Results Replicated: "The research team used a standing ultrasonic wave to help form and then implode the cavitation bubbles of deuterated acetone vapor. The oscillating sound waves caused the bubbles to expand and then violently collapse, creating strong compression shock waves around and inside the bubbles. Moving at about the speed of sound, the internal shock waves impacted at the center of the bubbles causing very high compression and accompanying temperatures of about 100 million Kelvin.

These new data were taken with an upgraded instrumentation system .. . According to the new data, the observed neutron emission was several orders of magnitude greater than background and had extremely high statistical accuracy. Tritium, which also is produced during the fusion reactions, was measured and the amount produced was found to be consistent with the observed neutron production rate. Earlier test data, which were reported in Science (Vol. 295, March 2002), indicated that nuclear fusion had occurred, but these data were questioned because they were taken with less precise instrumentation. .. [Unlike laser or plasma fusion,] spherical compression of the plasma was achieved due to the inertia of the liquid surrounding the imploding bubbles.  ..

[Rensselaer professor Richard] Lahey explained that, unlike fission reactors, fusion does not produce a significant amount of radioactive waste products or decay heat. Tritium gas, a radioactive by-product of deuterium-deuterium bubble fusion, is actually a part of the fuel, which can be consumed in deuterium-tritium fusion reactions."

Several theoretical results are presented consistent with the observed data. Not everyone agrees.  PhysicsWeb reports: "Michael Saltmarsh of Oak Ridge says he is "intrigued but sceptical" about the new work. "Unlike their Science paper, most of the background notes and supporting information seem to be correct but there are still some puzzling inconsistencies. In particular, the estimated neutron detection efficiency is still an order of magnitude too low. While better than the Science article, the difference would produce a mismatch between the reported neutron and tritium yields."

"Thermonuclear sono-fusion may not be impossible," says Willy Moss of the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, "but more tests need to done." ..  Aaron Galonsky of Michigan State University [says] "Taleyarkhan and co-workers have not done .. enough for me to be able to say whether they have seen nuclear fusion in a bottle of acetone. With two million 14 MeV neutrons per second injected into the room where the experiment was performed, there are opportunities for error in detecting the much rarer, lower-energy sonoluminescent neutrons.""

  9:41:05 AM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, March 09, 2004


Globalization:  I just posted a collection of thoughts on the subject.  11:06:53 PM  permalink  

Guestmap Service: "Guestmap service allows your visitors to add a pin to a map pre-selected by you, to show where they live. Zoom in, zoom out, select from different types of pins, and more in this unique and fun service."  From Bravenet, who has other mostly free gizmos for enhancing simply web sites.   2:33:53 PM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, March 06, 2004


pulverInnovations: WiFi VOIP phones for sale, currently $249.  "The WiSIPTM Mobile IP Phone is a next generation intelligent IP Communications device which adds SIP based VoIP communications together with WiFi installations. The WiSIP phone has been optimized for use with Free World Dialup. It can also be used with SIP based IP-PBXs. "  10:33:43 PM  permalink  

IMF marginal for emerging markets: "In just 10 years, from 1991 to 2001, capital flows to emerging markets from the official sector, governments and bodies like the Fund halved to $36.5 billion, while private sector flows rose to $160 billion from $62 billion.  The IMF itself in fiscal year 2003 lent 29.4 billion special drawing rights, its currency unit which is composed of a basket of other currencies, worth around $20 billion.

"The IMF is in search of a new role, who leads it is probably irrelevant," said Paul Luke, an emerging market veteran who now runs a specialist emerging markets investment house Convivo Capital Management.  "The IMF share of world credit has collapsed, it is a fractional player, in large part because the developing world has sorted itself out and is now a net lender to the developed world," Luke said. "  8:57:51 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, March 05, 2004


IP2Location.com - Lookup IP address to Country, State, City, Netblock, Longitude and Latitide:  Good way to locate an internet IP address.  Free demo search.  Database subscriptions range from $50-$500/year, depending on how specific the location info is (country, region, city, lat/long).  10:34:52 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, March 04, 2004


The Digital Imprimatur: Lengthy and persuasive dystopia of an increasingly restrictive Internet, all based on current technologies.  The key are digital certificates:  "This, then, is the digital imprimatur; the right to publish as, in olden times, was granted by church or state. A document's certificate, its imprimatur, identifies the person (individual or legal entity) responsible for its publication, provides a signature which permits verifying its contents have not been corrupted or subsequently modified, and identifies the document registry which granted the imprimatur and which, on demand, will validate it and confirm that it has not been revoked. Trusted Computing systems and the Secure Internet will perform these functions automatically and transparently; to a user browsing the Web, everything will look and feel precisely as it does today."  6:00:09 PM  permalink  

Mobiles 'narrow information gap': "The Washington-based Worldwatch Institute says that in developing countries, the proportion of people with access to a phone has grown over the past 10 years by more than 25%.  One in five of the world's population had used a mobile phone by 2002, it reports - up from one in 237 in 1992.  In 2002, for the first time, the number of mobile phone subscribers (1.15 billion) was greater than the number of fixed-line connections (1.05 billion).  The report says phone access in Africa has grown "dramatically" on the back of the growth of mobile phone technology.  In 1992, just one in 778 of the world's population had used the internet. By 2002, one in 10 had. "

  5:37:56 PM  permalink  

Electric fuel cell aviation: "Backed by the non-profit Foundation for Advancing Science and Technology and education (FASTec) supports the exploration and application of emerging technologies, especially alternate energy technology such as fuel cells, for all types of transportation vehicles. FASTec along with NASA, is currently funding the development of the world's first fuel-cell-powered electric airplane.

The Electric Airplane, or Eplane, will be developed around an all-carbon French-built DynAero Lafayette III, which will be powered by an advanced electric motor supplied by UQM Corp. There will be three flight development stages. First, the plane will be equipped with advanced high-energy, lithium-ion batteries and flown. It will have about a 100-mile range. Then, it will be equipped with a combination of the batteries and a 10-15kW fuel cell, and will have a 250-mile range. In its final form, it will fly solely on the power of a fuel cell and have a 500-mile range, with emergency assist from reserve Li Ion batteries. "

  5:31:10 PM  permalink  

The Arlington Institute: A futurist link-fest on their site has monthly listings of interesting articles.  5:17:42 PM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, March 03, 2004


Utility to offer high-speed Internet over power lines: "Cinergy Broadband is pairing with Maryland-based Current Communications Group to offer the service in parts of Cincinnati this year. Plans also call for an expansion into Kentucky and Indiana; Cinergy hopes to market the service to 55,000 of its 1.5 million customers.  "We had very positive results from a pilot program that we began last January in about 100 homes and about 75 percent said they were very satisfied and willing to sign up for commercial service," Cinergy spokesman Steve Brash said.

A second venture will bring the technology to smaller municipal and cooperatively owned power companies, covering 24 million customers across the United States. The companies are committing more than $70 million to the effort.  .. The service starts at $29.95 a month. Customers will get one free modem, which must be plugged into an electrical socket for the system to work. .. the speed is comparable to high-speed cable and faster than DSL, or digital subscriber line, services.  "  11:30:31 PM  permalink  

44% of Web users create content: "Nearly half of U.S. adults who use the Internet have published their thoughts, shared files or created Web logs or diaries.  A telephone survey conducted last spring by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found Internet users under the age of 25 are the most enthusiastic about creating content and most likely to have blogs. Older Internet users, with an average age of 58, are most likely to have their own Web sites.

2-7% of Americans blog, 11% visit blogs: " The Pew Internet and American Life Project .. study was largely based on random telephone surveys of 1,555 Internet users taken from March 12 to May 20, 2003. The That survey found only 2% of users keeping blogs, although a preliminary analysis of follow-up surveys from early 2004 showed the figure increasing to about 7%. margin of sampling error is +/- 3%.  Of those, only about 10% update them daily, the majority doing so only once a week or less often.

About 11% of Internet users report visiting blogs written by others. Most often, they were for blogs written by friends. But blog readers are more likely to go to journals kept by strangers rather than by family members. Among other findings: 21% of Internet users have posted photos on Web sites, and 20% say they have allowed others to download video or music files from their computers. 7% have webcams that let others see live pictures of them over the Net."

  11:22:43 PM  permalink  

Biotech voted down in Calif. county: "Legislation restricting biotechnology has been passed elsewhere, but nothing as sweeping as the proposal in Mendocino County, a place with a frontier spirit where the biggest cash crop is marijuana. The local ban will not prevent processed food made with genetically modified ingredients from being sold in stores. There are no known genetically modified crops raised in Mendocino County, but farmers said they would use the law as a marketing tool, especially in Europe, where opposition to genetically engineered foods is fierce"  7:51:07 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, March 01, 2004


Like Japan in the 1980s, China Poses Big Economic Challenge:  Key statistics: "China has 10 times the population of Japan, with more unemployed adults in rural areas than the entire American work force. Raising the wages of so many people to the levels found in industrial nations will take a long time. 

Through the 1970's and 80's, Japanese wages rose 70 percent faster than American wages, according to data from the International Labor Organization. That, together with rapid appreciation in the value of the yen, helped push up Japanese factory wages from one-third of American levels to rough parity. 

Chinese wages, though, were no more than 4 percent of American and Japanese wages in 2002, the most recent year available. While official Chinese statistics show that wages doubled from 1996 to 2002, some factory owners say pay has been flat — or even declined slightly — in recent years, as rural migrants continue to pour into the cities.

In the meantime, China's productivity gap is being closed by a rapid investment in infrastructure, as China puts a third of the world's steel production and half its cement into extending modern roads, power grids and telecommunications links across the country."

  11:35:04 PM  permalink  

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