Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog

daily link  Friday, April 30, 2004

Collaborative Filtering Resources  12:09:03 AM  permalink  

daily link  Thursday, April 29, 2004

Death to Iraqis who dare to speak out:  "Over the past year, Baghdad's intelligentsia has seen a wave of killings: scientists, professors, and academics, executed in carefully planned assassinations. It's hard to estimate the toll, but US occupation authorities put the number of "intellectuals and professionals" assassinated at up to five a month, not counting another five to 10 monthly attempts. By some counts, as many as 40 of Iraq's leading scientists and university professors have been killed since last April. ..

But regardless of the numbers, there is one sure victim: free speech. On the campuses of Iraq's universities, the killings have created a climate of fear so pervasive that many professors flatly refuse to speak about them.. The killings are having another effect: brain drain...

Dr. Hadi, like several other professors, now refuses to give interviews on Arabic-language television channels. When asked why, he's afraid even to say. "Now we have freedom of speech," he says cautiously, "but no security."

  10:51:02 PM  permalink  

Using a Hosts File To Make The Internet Not Suck (as much): Clever little file to defeat ad and spyware servers, and to allow shorthand domain names for favorite sites.  10:12:52 PM  permalink  

The CPAN Search Site: Ever-growing PERL library, eg, XML::RSS::TimingBot - for efficiently fetching RSS feeds  10:09:14 PM  permalink  

Is One-Fourth of Your E-Mail Getting Lost?  High false-positive rates are cutting into corporate customer email.  "A new report shows that most major Internet service providers (ISPs) shunt into end users' Junk Mail folders — or simply delete — about one-quarter of the corporate opt-in communications that their customers have requested.  .. The study monitored 30,000 e-mails [in Jul-Dec 2003] from more than 100 Return Path clients, many of which are Fortune 500 companies. All of the e-mails that were counted in the statistics were either opt-in newsletters that individuals had specifically requested or "transactional messages," such as confirmations of orders, according to Return Path executive George Bilbrey. No unsolicited e-mail or "spam" was counted in the study..

The average "false positive" rate across all 16 ISPs was almost 19%, the report says. .. In a January 2004 scorecard of desktop spam filters, PC Magazine found that the best products misidentified legitimate e-mails only 1.6% of the time or less. ..


  10:32:14 AM  permalink  

New production of solar thermal dishes:  Phoenix-based Stirling Energy Systems Inc. and Schuff Steel Co. unveiled a prototype generator that could bring the cost of solar electricity down to 5 cents to 6 cents a kilowatt. .. Arizona Public Service Co., which is under an Arizona Corporation Commission mandate to generate 1.1 percent of its electricity through renewable resources by 2007, has agreed to buy 10 of the units next year. Southern Nevada Water Authority wants 40. "  Sandia has ordered a number of them this year.  They are 38-foot dishes with a Stirling engine, each generating 25 Kw.  

"the Stirling units use no water, in contrast to so-called solar trough generators that use the sun's energy to produce steam to turn turbine generators. "  Prototype units cost $300,000 each.  "Stirling believes it can bring the cost down to about $25,000 per unit if they are mass-produced. That would make them competitive with conventional power plants, Liden said. "

  9:38:17 AM  permalink  

Summary and update of America Unbound:  Address by one of the authors.  "Bush prefers to act unilaterally. .. On occasion he has turned to international institutions .. [when] they can help solve his immediate problems. What Bob Keagan has called instrumental multilateralism.. 

“If we are an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us,” Bush observed about other countries during the presidential debates “If we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us.” Bush ignored this advice once in office. .. What the poll numbers tell us is that in many parts of the world the United States is seen as the “SUV of nations,” to borrow Mary McGrory’s phrase, “hogging the road and guzzling gas, and occasionally running over something — like another nation — on its way to the Middle East filling station.” ..

Bush’s way is not America’s only choice. In fact, Washington has chosen differently before. America emerged from World War II as the world’s predominant power. It could have imposed an imperium commensurate with its power. Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman were certainly comfortable wielding America’s military might. But they wisely recognized that American power is more acceptable and thus more effective and lasting if it is folded into alliances and multilateral institutions that serve the interests and purposes of many countries. .. Rather than hobbling American power, these efforts legitimated and sustained it, building up a reservoir of goodwill that made it easier for the United States to act unilaterally, as on occasion it inevitably had to do.

Bush has chosen not to take this course. From the first day he entered office, Bush has pursued a revolution whose motto has been “foreign policy done my way.” For all the feints and seeming tactical changes in policy — yes to a UN resolution one day, no to sharing real power the next — that sentiment will no doubt continue throughout the remainder of his presidency. And so, no doubt, will continued frustration and anger abroad at the arrogance of American power. The final bill, unfortunately, will be America’s to pay."

  8:48:39 AM  permalink  

Why Study Rome When You Can Build It?: " John Seely Brown, the media innovator who helped make XeroxPARC such a center for creative thinking in the 1990s, has interesting things to say about [online] games, narrative, and education  .."
  1:45:08 AM  permalink  

MySQL Gotchas: "It's not a bug - it's a gotcha. A "gotcha" is a feature or function which works as advertised - but not as expected.   MySQL has an abundance of gotchas. These will cause cause much head-scratching, grinding of teeth etc. - particularly for anyone coming from more fully-featured databases who is not used to implementing large portions of the RDBMS functionality in the application code. "  It points to another concise set of MySQL complaints.  1:02:32 AM  permalink  

'Laser vision' offers new insights: "US firm Microvision has developed a system that projects lasers onto the retina, allowing users to view images on top of their normal field of vision. It could allow surgeons to get a bird's eye view of the innards of a patient, offer military units in the field a view of the entire battlefield and provide mechanics with a simulation of the inside of a car's engine. The system uses tiny lasers, which scan their light onto the retina to produce the entire range of human vision, reported the journal of the Institute of the Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE Spectrum. .. The first generation product, called the Nomad Expert Technician System, consists of a wireless computer and a hi-tech monocle, costing around $4,000. "  1:01:19 AM  permalink  

css-discuss: "The css-discuss Wiki is a companion to the CssDiscussList mailing list. Among other things the wiki serves as a collective long term memory for the list participants."  Table of contents serves as a fast directory/FAQ for css.  12:59:12 AM  permalink  

Google Answers: Spam Assassin Breakdown: More than you'd want to know about how SpamAssassin's rules work.  12:46:26 AM  permalink  

nexus: "Don't you hate all those RSS feeds with only title and links and no content? This little program will help you. It turns those RSS feeds into ones with full content. It does this by reading the original RSS file, following every link, downloading the content and putting it into the RSS files as HTML snippets. " Uses very simple heuristics to pick the best part of table layout.  Written in Perl.  12:29:54 AM  permalink  

Open Clip Art Project: "This project has the goal of creating a free archive of clip art that can be used with free software, closed software, distributed with various software distributions, or be used in graphic design compositions. "  See also Pixel Perfect Digital 3.0 - Free Image Archive: "Here you'll find a growing collection of free high resolution photos and illustrations. They're free to use in both your personal and professional design projects. Registration is not required. "  12:14:24 AM  permalink  

CPA work culture:  "The progressive leaders that I have met in my travels have all socialized very specific memes about what constitutes success in their organizations: Well done is better than well said; deliver quantifiable, measurable results; give me accomplishments over mere activities; schools and roads rebuilt versus meetings and discussions.  .. In Baghdad, CPA drove metrics around lives saved, hospitals rebuilt, roads paved, electrical towers erected, and so on."  This passage gave me chills, in hindsight.  Getting things done is what matters when there is broad agreement about what's important, like within a company or among competitors in an industry (or a bureaucracy).  But in national development, especially when the political system is underdeveloped, the ends are up for grabs, and the development of social processes with qualitative outcomes is what matters most.  When the Europeans told the US to make a provisional government as the first step, when Sistani's people clamored for any kind of early elections -- the clock was ticking, and it was the unquantifiable unmeasurable preceptions and opinions and conversations that would matter more than the concrete actions.  12:09:38 AM  permalink  

daily link  Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Printer Writes Micro 3D Objects: "University of Illinois researchers have come up with a new type of quick-setting three-dimensional ink that works a bit like a microscopic tube of toothpaste. The researchers' printer robotically deposits a continuous, elastic-like ink filament into a liquid rather than putting ink drops onto a surface.

The filament hardens in the liquid rapidly enough to allow for printing three-dimensional structures that have features like unsupported spanning elements. The process yields complete three-dimensional structures in about five minutes, and provides resolutions that are close to two orders of magnitude finer than existing methods, according to the researchers. The researchers' prototype has nozzles that vary in diameter from five microns to 0.5 microns. A micron is one thousandth of a millimeter.

Because the resolution is so high, the process has the potential to produce templates for structured materials, like photonic band gap materials used to control light, microfluidic devices used for biological and chemical testing, and bioscaffolds for tissue engineering."

  11:08:26 PM  permalink  

Spain's 9-11: After the Madrid bombings, "the rule of law in Spain has not been suspended, there appears complete transparency in the arrests and detention of suspects, and no general “war” was declared or “Guantanamos” set up. Surely the Spaniards are as terrified as Americans were on that tragic day in September 2001 and their primal urge to retaliate is as strong. But in an exemplary demonstration of how democracies should operate in emergencies, Spaniards have conducted themselves—as Palacio had said they would—with the penal code in one hand and laws and procedures in the other.

The 25 countries of the European Union, meeting on March 21, 2004, barely two weeks after the terrorist attacks in Madrid, appointed a terrorism-czar to coordinate the European anti-terrorism efforts. But they made clear that Europe's heightened efforts to combat terrorism would not dilute their democratic institutions and free societies. "Europe is not at war," Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy czar told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "We must oppose terrorism energetically, but we must not change our way of life. We are democrats who love freedom." "  6:18:23 PM  permalink  

Send Jobs to India? Some Find It's Not Always Best: Examples when programming work was returned the US after trying India.  "Indian programmers required more detailed instructions to write the software code than would a programmer here, who would be more familiar with the customer's needs. This slowed the process, which was a major drawback because this technology is new and changing very fast. .. "Whenever the pace of innovation is very rapid," he said, "is when the work should be done closer to the client." .. [India's] Infosys announced that it would spend $20 million to set up a consulting company in the United States."  5:22:48 PM  permalink  

Nano-Hive: Nanospace Simulator: "Nano-Hive is a modular simulator used for modeling the physical world at a nanometer scale. The intended purpose of the simulator is to act as a tool for the study and development of nanotech entities." Version 1 is for a single-user desktop, version 2 is planned to be distributed, possibly using Globus.  8:59:02 AM  permalink  

China grows solar-cell production: "Mainland China will enter the top 5 countries with the largest output of solar cells next year.. The total capacity of the mainland's solar-cell industry doubled to 30MW last year.. [forecasting] 60MW this year.

Of over 30 solar-cell manufacturers in the mainland, about 6 have large-scale operations. .. The central government has allocated Rmb10 billion ($1.21 billion at Rmb8.28:$1) for the adoption of solar and wind energy for power generation in remote areas of West China. ..

At present, local solar cell manufacturers focus on improving the efficiency of their solar cells. The converting efficiency of Suntech Power's mono- and polycrystalline silicon solar cells range between 16 to 16.5 percent and 15 to 15.5 percent, respectively. Guan says the company plans to upgrade efficiency by 1 percent annually in the next several years."

  7:30:57 AM  permalink  

Internet-based Distributed Computing Projects: Directories of active and completed projects. Among them is a designer for circuits with Built-In Self-Test (BIST), such as ones used in space or medical applications where reliability and fault detection are critical.  It uses Genetic Algorithms (GA) and Evolutionary Strategies (ES) to derive and simulate alternate designs.

  6:43:27 AM  permalink  

Rapid Web Application Deployment with Maypole: "Maypole enables Perl programmers to get web front-ends to databases, as well as complex web-based applications, up and running quickly."  Part 2 has more examples.  6:18:24 AM  permalink  

daily link  Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Commonweal Institute: "a new think tank and communications organization working to bring positive moderate and progressive messages to the public and build widespread support for the issues we care about. "  Based in California, several supporters in Silicon Valley.  Mostly virtual organization. Has information on right-wing organizations, environment, voting machines.  Interesting advisors.  6:13:53 PM  permalink  

Giving It Away (for Fun and Profit): Music meets shareware.  "Vilhan is making money because he hosts his songs at, an Internet music distributor that replaces standard "all rights reserved" copyright language with "some rights reserved" licenses drafted by a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit organization called Creative Commons. Magnatune and its artists make MP3s available for free to play or download. But they still demand payment when the music is used for commercial purposes, such as inclusion in advertisements or in films released to theaters. ..

When composers upload songs on, they're presented with the option of choosing a Creative Commons license. The result is that nearly every song on MacBand functions as raw material for new songs. The sharing not only spurs activity on MacBand, but also builds demand for Apple software and hardware. ..

Lessig wants to integrate Creative Commons into the tools used to create digital art. The licenses now come in "machine-readable" form, which means that smart CD players can display a song's license as it plays. There is also a plug-in for Adobe's Photoshop that recognizes licenses embedded in image files. The open-source Mozilla project plans to put a Creative Commons search tool alongside one for Google in its Firefox 1.0 browser, due out this summer, making it easy to search the Web for, say, photos of the Empire State Building that are cleared for noncommercial use. A Japanese Creative Commons license is already available, and Lessig hopes to introduce 24 more country-specific versions by the year's end. A $1.2 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation should help the six-person Creative Commons staff complete the project. "  Related:  Free Culture: Lawrence Lessig Keynote, Aug. 15, 2002

  9:22:22 AM  permalink  

Infohound Color Schemer: "Matching colors will be automatically chosen. You can click on one to set it as the primary color."  8:51:45 AM  permalink  

HTML Tidy Online: "HTML Tidy is a tool for checking and cleaning up HTML source files." Paste the ugly html into the form and press submit.  8:35:45 AM  permalink  

HTML Tabbed Dialog Widget: "One of the most common widgets in a GUI is the tabbed dialog, where related options are grouped into tabs, and the user can navigate between them. This powerful widget is not part of the HTML spec, so it is not seen on websites. However, with some simple Java Script and a little CSS styling, it is straightforward to create a tabbed dialog in HTML"  8:32:08 AM  permalink  

daily link  Monday, April 26, 2004

sorttable: Make all your tables sortable: nifty simple javascript functions.  10:53:37 PM  permalink  

Compiling hardware from C++ code: Maxeler is a New York city company that supplies a product called ASC: A Stream Compiler for Computing with FPGAs.  "ASC is fully embedded in standard C++, and as such, ASC programs are compiled by a conventional C++ compiler. The concepts of timing and architecture of the circuit are expressed by ASC hardware types and operators. The ASC system facilitates design space exploration by providing three levels of abstraction: architecture level, arithmetic level and gate level. Since each intermediate representation is human readable C++, it is easy to optimize implementations at each of these levels and explore such optimizations within the ASC framework.  Conceptually, ASC follows the philosophy of the C programming language. The objective is to offer the capability to optimize the program for maximal performance, and at the same time provide a language interface that increases productivity. "

They claim typical 30x improvements in performance. Key factor is optimizing the data types to the bit representations to the data, rather than using standard int and float.  Varying the mantissa and exponent to fit the problem saves a lot.

"ASC provides a software-like interface to programming FPGAs and enables rapid exploration of the design space for FPGA implementations. This increase in productivity of up to 10x can result, for example, in 20-30 implementations of an algorithm in the same time it otherwise takes to develop 2-3 implementations. The advantages of ASC for an architecture that supports reconfiguration, or customizable architectures with a large number of (FPGA) nodes, have the potential to change the way we think about computing."

IP also developed: "Maxeler Technologies utilizes it's programming technology to develop state-of-the-art, flexible, parametrizable arithmetic modules and IP blocks implementing entire algorithms. Examples for our IP blocks are FFT (fixed point and floating point), Reed Solomon Code, IDEA encryption, and IDCT for video coding. "  Makes me think about linking this to genetic programming for IP generation.

  10:31:42 AM  permalink  

Bremer foresaw 9/11: Ironic -- Paul Bremer led a commission on the subject, and spoke in Feb 2001: ""It is the media's responsibility, and an important one, though very uncomfortable for people in government, to put a very strong spotlight on the government's policies and practices on terrorism, especially given the current disorganization of the federal government's fight against terrorism. In this area, the federal government is in complete disarray. There's been remarkably little attention to the major recommendation the Gilmore Commission made for a substantial reorganization of the government's approach to terrorism. Journalists shouldn't let politicians get away with that. 

"The new [Bush] administration seems to be paying no attention to the problem of terrorism. What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, 'Oh, my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this?' That's too bad. They've been given a window of opportunity with very little terrorism now, and they're not taking advantage of it. Maybe the folks in the press ought to be pushing a little bit."

  10:08:47 AM  permalink  

Findory Personalized News: "Findory uses a patent-pending method to order news articles gathered from a wide variety of sources. The algorithm combines statistical analysis of the article text and of users who viewed the articles with information about articles you previously viewed."  Uses RSS and Bayesian statistics.  Founded 4Q 2003 by a former Amazon manager who worked on personalization.  The search function seems useful.  12:19:31 AM  permalink  

daily link  Sunday, April 25, 2004

The Wrong Debate on Terrorism: An update from Richard Clarke.  "One lesson is that even though we are the world's only remaining superpower — as we were before Sept. 11, 2001 — we are seriously threatened by an ideological war within Islam. It is a civil war in which a radical Islamist faction is striking out at the West and at moderate Muslims. Once we recognize that the struggle within Islam — not a "clash of civilizations" between East and West — is the phenomenon with which we must grapple, we can begin to develop a strategy and tactics for doing so. It is a battle not only of bombs and bullets, but chiefly of ideas. It is a war that we are losing, as more and more of the Islamic world develops antipathy toward the United States and some even develop a respect for the jihadist movement.. Fashioning a comprehensive strategy to win the battle of ideas should be given as much attention as any other aspect of the war on terrorists, or else we will fight this war for the foreseeable future. For even when Osama bin Laden is dead, his ideas will carry on. ..

We must also be careful, while advocating democracy in the region, that we do not undermine the existing regimes without having a game plan for what should follow them and how to get there. The lesson of President Jimmy Carter's abandonment of the shah of Iran in 1979 should be a warning. So, too, should we be chastened by the costs of eliminating the regime of Saddam Hussein, almost 25 years after the shah, also without a detailed plan for what would follow. ..

There will be a tendency to overemphasize organizational fixes [in US agencies]. ..The more important task is improving the quality of the analysts, agents and managers at the lead foreign intelligence agency, the Central Intelligence Agency. ..  We do not need another new agency right now. We do, however, need to create within the F.B.I. a strong organization that is vastly different ..

C.I.A. and F.B.I. cannot continue to be dominated by careerists who have carefully managed their promotions and ensured their retirement benefits by avoiding risk and innovation for decades. The agencies need regular infusions throughout their supervisory ranks of managers and thinkers from other, more creative organizational cultures.  In the new F.B.I., marksmanship, arrests and skill on the physical training obstacle course should no longer be prerequisites for recruitment and retention. Similarly, within the C.I.A. we should quash the belief that — as George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, told the 9/11 commission — those who have never worked in the directorate of operations cannot understand it and are unqualified to criticize it. ..

Finally, we must try to achieve a level of public discourse on these issues that is simultaneously energetic and mutually respectful.. We should not dismiss critics through character assassination, nor should we besmirch advocates of the Patriot Act as fascists. We all want to defeat the jihadists. To do that, we need to encourage an active, critical and analytical debate in America about how that will best be done. And if there is another major terrorist attack in this country, we must not panic or stifle debate as we did for too long after 9/11."

  12:07:56 PM  permalink  

daily link  Saturday, April 24, 2004

Stomp*3 Bayesian RSS Aggregator: "The Growlmurrdurr RSS aggregator is a piece of software which reads RSS feeds and allows access to them through a CGI web interface. It presents a simple and clean layout of all the news articles from the RSS feeds in chronological order. Additionally, it allows you to use Bayesian filtering to group RSS news items into two catagories, presumably the ones you're interested in and the ones you're not. It is geared towards aggregating many, many news feeds simultaniously and features the ability to specify individual reload times for each feed. It is written using Python. Python 2.3 or later is recommended as earlier versions may not work. Bayesian filtering software has been yanked out of SpamBayes. The RSS parsing module has been taken from pyblagg."  Sample site running aggregator and comments.  6:09:39 PM  permalink  

Wi-Fi service, product news: "Public IP Services of Pine Beach, New Jersey, has developed a solution specifically designed for small restaurants, hotels, laundromats and bars that want to differentiate themselves or encourage patrons to stay longer .. The ISP charges businesses US$69.95 per month for hotspot access. The service includes Netopia's 3-D Reach 3347W ADSL wireless gateway, which features an ADSL modem, Wi-Fi certified access point and Ethernet switch on one box. ..

Rich Mironov is AirMagnet's vice president of marketing. The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company has found that high-tech, education and government sectors have been quickest to deploy Wi-Fi, followed closely by healthcare, manufacturing and telecom.  .. His company's [sells a] line of analysis and management products, which patrol Wi-Fi network perimeters for security  and performance issues. "

  9:45:53 AM  permalink  

Nanosys filing for IPO, changing product plans: "One minor shift is that the company no longer expects its initial products to be biosensors .. Instead, the company is working with the government on biosensor applications. Nanosys has also added nonvolatile memory to the markets it seeks to penetrate, according to its recent filing. Given the subtle shifts, [analyst] Sanchez said, the most likely initial product would be solar cells. ..

Thiemo Lang, a portfolio manager with mutual fund firm Activest, said the IPO might be a bit early. “This will be very interesting to follow,” he said. “I think they see that the stock market is quite favorable for them.” Lang created the Activest Lux NanoTech mutual fund in 2002. "

  9:42:49 AM  permalink  

Wi-Fi Networking: Fast Food Nation: "QSR Magazine has a list of the top 50 quick-service restaurants (QSR) chains by dollar volume as of 2002. Only two of these chains, Starbucks and McDonald’s, have a comprehensive Wi-Fi plan. Panera and Schlotzsky’s have Wi-Fi in some locations with plans for expansion.  The total number of chain stores in the top 50 are 117,468, a staggering number, of which about 15 percent are committed to have Wi-Fi within a couple of years."  9:37:04 AM  permalink  

34% Americans have broadband, 24% have broadband at home:  "Also, 68 million Americans - or 34% of all adults - have access to high-speed Internet connections either at home or on the job. 48 m or 24% have high-speed access at home. Home broadband adoption is up 60% since March 2003.. DSL now has a 42% share of the home broadband market, up from 28% in March 2003. For the first time, more than half (52%) of college educated people age 35 and younger has broadband connections at home. Only 10% of rural Americans go online from home with high-speed connections, about one-third the rate for non-rural Americans."  9:18:07 AM  permalink  

Material grabs more sun: "Most photovoltaic materials absorb a relatively narrow range of light energy [from one band gap].. Researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of California, and MIT have engineered a single material that contains three bandgaps and is capable of capturing more than 50 percent of the sun's energy. The researchers made the material by forcing oxygen into a zinc-manganese-tellurium crystal. The oxygen split the crystal's band gap and formed a third one of its own. ..

It will take to three years to assess the technical feasibility of the multiband solar cell, according to the researchers. The work appeared in the December 12, 2003 issue of Physical Review Letters".  See also here.

  9:13:15 AM  permalink  

Regular Expression Mastery: a 100-slide tutorial with many tricks.  Surprisingly quick to review.  Plus, The Regex Coach, an interactive tool.  8:59:42 AM  permalink  

streaming media recording software:  comparison chart.  plus: StationRipper for easily recording radio streams.  7:47:18 AM  permalink  

daily link  Friday, April 23, 2004

Classifier4J: "Classifier4J is a Java library designed to do text classification. It comes with an implementation of a Bayesian classifier, and now has some other features, including a text summary facility. "  Last update end 2003.   It has been integrated with RSS and an NNTP & RSS reader.   11:13:55 PM  permalink  

What Are Topic Maps?:  A generalized data structure standard to link info and support general purpose navigation.  "The topic map takes the key concepts described in the databases and documents and relates them together independently of what is said about them in the information being indexed. So when a document says "The maintenance procedure for part X consists of the following steps..." the topic map may say "Part X is of type Q and is contained in parts Y and Z and its maintenance procedure resides in document W". .. The result is an information structure that breaks out of the traditional hierarchical straightjacket that we have gotten used to squeezing our information into. A topic map usually contains several overlapping hierarchies which are rich with semantic cross-links like "Part X is critical to procedure V." ..

The most common use for topic maps right now is to build web sites that are entirely driven by the topic map, in order to fully realize the their information-finding benefits. The topic map provides the site structure, and the page content is taken partly from the topic map itself, and partly from the occurrences. This solution is perfect for all sorts of portals, catalogs, site indexes, and so on. Since a topic map can be said to represent knowledge about the things it describes, topic maps are also ideal as knowledge management tools. "

From The TAO of Topic Maps: "Topic maps started life as a way of representing the knowledge structures inherent in traditional back of book indexes, in order to solve the information management problems involved in creating, maintaining and processing indexes for complex documentation. As the model evolved, their scope was broadened to encompass other kinds of navigational aid, such as glossaries, thesauri and cross references. "

  4:15:35 PM  permalink  

Quickiwiki, Swiki, Twiki, Zwiki and the Plone Wars Wiki as a PIM and Collaborative Content Tool.  Review of the many varieties of wiki, and comparison to other collaboration tools.  Links to many sources, including Zwiki (for Zope) and comparisons to Plone.  4:04:25 PM  permalink  

css Zen Garden: Amazing demo of one page with many CSS designs, from raw HTML to comic book.  3:36:38 PM  permalink  

The Content Management Comparison Tool: "Use the form below to select up to 10 content management tools to compare at once."  3:11:16 PM  permalink the title says it all.  3:09:32 PM  permalink  

xMail: E-mail as XML: "E-mail is a good example of a structured text format that can usefully be converted to XML for processing, archiving, and searching. In this chapter, we develop xMail–a Python application to convert e-mail to XML."  3:03:21 PM  permalink  

Developer tools for web site designers:

  3:02:13 PM  permalink  

Python, JS and CSS code: Nice collection, including a Python talk that can be browsed in HTML, and interesting alternatives for dropdown menus and explorer trees.  2:53:38 PM  permalink  

RSS to JS demo: How "to insert dynamically updated RSS into any web page, blog, or Course Management System. It makes use of a PHP script (demo version running on our server) that parses the XML feed, and returns a JavaScript set of write commands that insert the information into your page. All you need to do is to insert a simple JavaScript line of code in the part of your page where you want the feed. The only other thing to tidy it up is to link or insert a sytle sheet to format the output."  2:17:45 PM  permalink  

AquaEnergy Group Ltd.:  Washington state company with wave power buoys.  Phots and animation.  12:47:37 PM  permalink  

MODEL U CONCEPT CAR: "the Model T of the 21st century... Powered by the world's first supercharged hydrogen internal combustion engine, equipped with a hybrid electric transmission and pioneering green materials and processes, Model U is a vision for the future. It is Ford's model for change - exploring the benefits a vehicle provides to its users, the way it is manufactured and how it impacts the world."  Contributions from many sources, including William McDonough, Sun Micro, MIT MediaLab.  12:27:07 PM  permalink  

Cringely on search and digital archeaology:  ""MeaningMaster isn't a search engine, but a search technology.. [with a] lexicon -- a computer dictionary that is purported to understand the meanings of more than 200,000 English words IN CONTEXT..  MeaningMaster is hand-coded, a process that took 175 man- and woman-years."

I like Cringely's general observation: "What has changed is that, through the relentless passage of Moore's Law, computers are on average 16 times faster today than they were back in 1998. Today, MeaningMaster claims a server can process 50,000 queries per hour, though they are careful not to specify either the power of the server or the complexity of the query, though with modern brute force approaches like Google's swarm of PC servers, it probably doesn't matter. Where [the 1990's] Inquizit was interesting, but probably not competitive, MeaningMaster is now competitive. .. This makes me wonder, in fact, whether there aren't hundreds of promising technologies from the late 1990s that are worth another look today. It would probably be worthwhile to start a company just to specialize in this type of digital archaeology."

  8:49:26 AM  permalink  

daily link  Thursday, April 22, 2004

POPFile - Automatic Email Classification.  "POPFile is an email classification tool with a Naive Bayes classifier, a POP3 proxy and a web interface. It runs on most platforms and with most email clients."  Perl-based, open source, updated March 2004.  10:28:43 PM  permalink  

The Heavyweight Sea Snail: Tidal power plans off Scotland.  The unique feature is positioning underwater without expensive attachment to the sea bed.  "The Snail is a 15x12 meter (roughly 49x39 feet) anchoring device that uses hydrofoils -- what scientists describe as wings that "fly" in water -- to generate more than 200 tons of downward force to the seabed."  The press release says "At present the potential to use tidal energy is limited by installation methods for turbines, which require firm attachment to the seabed. This is very expensive and, at present, requires turbines to be placed in water depths greater than 25 m and less than 50 m. The full size SNAIL is a prefabricated tidal device that can be cheaply installed in shallow and deep water. This will significantly increase the number of suitable sites for turbines and reduce installation costs."  First installation is 5 MW in 2007.  5:16:47 PM  permalink  

Bad news not hurting Bush in polls:  "A Gallup Poll released Tuesday showed Bush winning re-election in a hypothetical matchup with 51 percent of the votes to 46 percent for Kerry. A similar Gallup survey taken in early March just after Kerry wrapped up the Democratic nomination showed Kerry ahead of Bush 52 percent to 44 percent.   The results mirror a Washington Post-ABC News poll, also published Tuesday, that found Bush ahead of Kerry 48 percent to 43 percent, almost exactly opposite a poll taken five weeks earlier by the news organizations. Independent Ralph Nader attracted 6 percent of the vote in the latest survey." 

How do we reconcile this with the results from two weeks ago:"The University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey compared attitudes about the candidates in the first half of March with those in the second half and found that changes in their favorable ratings were "statistically insignificant" in the 18 battleground states where the most ads have run."  National versus battleground states, in different time periods; but a difference of 8% seems hard to reconcile.

  4:36:36 PM  permalink  

Expand compression now available as software product: "The Accelerator Server is a Linux-based software solution that ports many of the Application Traffic Management features of the new Expand Accelerator appliances like application acceleration and bandwidth efficiency tools that reduce wide area network (WAN) costs and improve application response times."  4:30:33 PM  permalink  

Greener Freezers: Progress on thermoacoustic coolers:  "Ben & Jerry's teamed with Penn State University to build 'green'-technology freezers which will replace existing ones inside its stores. These new greener chillers use sound waves for cooling."  4:29:10 PM  permalink  

From the Higgs Boson Particle to Leadbelly: "Physicists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are using the same methods to search for the elusive Higgs Boson particle and to digitally restore audio recordings from the past."  By imaging the the old disk recordings, smoothing out the physical scratches and defects, and then simulating a stylus on the smoothed virtual disk, the sound improvement is dramatic. "Berkeley Lab signed an agreement with the Library of Congress to digitize the many thousands of early blues or jazz recordings it has in its archives."  Follow link to excellent example of before and after.   4:22:59 PM  permalink  

daily link  Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Earthlink Spyaudit: New tool free from Earthlink.  "When you browse the Web, spyware programs can sneak onto your computer. As a result, Web sites can track your browsing habits, corrupt your data, or even steal your identity.  To scan your PC for spyware, just run a quick EarthLink Spy Audit.* This free service examines your computer and lists spyware results in minutes. It will not change or harm your system in any way."  This doesn't clean your system; you'll need some other tool like Ad-Aware for that.  They also offer anti-phish software.   8:52:45 AM  permalink  

daily link  Tuesday, April 20, 2004

TCP Vulnerable:  "The vulnerability stems from the fact that TCP sessions can be reset -- in other words, shut down, if only temporarily -- by sending maliciously-crafted RST (reset) or Syn (synchronization) packets to either end of the session's connection. Although this is an intended feature of TCP -- as in the infamous phrase, not a bug -- an attacker who spoofs the source IP addresses on the packets can terminate the session, resulting in a denial of service.

Although a denial of service attack using TCP packets has long been known as a weakness of the protocol, experts believed that a successful attack wasn't practical, since the attacker would have to guess the an identifying sequence number in the next packet; the odds of that are about one in 4.3 billion.  But researcher Paul Watson, who runs the pro-hacking blog on, has discovered that the “probability of guessing an acceptable sequence number is much higher because the receiving TCP implementation will accept any sequence number in a certain range. [That] makes TCP reset attacks practicable,” said the NISCC in its advisory..

Ultimately, router vendors will have to issue patches. Not all had done so by late Tuesday afternoon, although leading router makers Cisco and Juniper Networks had posted advisories, and provided either patches or software to mitigate the risks of an exploit.  But even those companies and organizations relying on routers for which patches are available shouldn't be completely comfortable, said Rouland. “These are pretty significant changes to the IP set, and they're non-trivial patches that will require a lot of testing,” he said.

Other tactics that enterprises could employ until patches were available and deployed, said Oliver Friedrichs, the senior manager of Symantec's security response team, include implementing their routers' MD5 Signature Option, another level of authentication that should stymie attackers.  “MD5 adds a hash to each request for BGP,” said Friedrichs, “so the attacker would have to try to calculate the hash as well. That should make it much more difficult to inject a packet into the TCP session at the router.” "

  5:42:07 PM  permalink  

What Is Zope? A revised intro to Zope, a (mostly) Python web service platform that includes content management and other facilities.  Interesting directory of Zope Products, including the SQL2Form Automatic Form Generator.  10:16:10 AM  permalink  

OpenOffice: Interesting endorsement, with info on how it was built, and how it interoperates with everything XML.  10:13:50 AM  permalink  

Describe RSS in 10 words or less:  My favorites: 

  • The Fastest Way To Waste An Enormous Amount Of Time
  • Freebasing for Web junkies.
  • Makes life easier, but not really.
  • Remember Pointcast? Kinda like that, only actually useful.
  • News sent to your computer. No spam. No browsing.
  10:02:17 AM  permalink  

Cracks appear in Bush circle: "This month Bush approved a five-year plan to train up to 75,000 peacekeeping forces — largely staffed by other countries' soldiers — for use in hot spots around the world.   That would have been anathema a few years ago.  But U.S. forces are now too overstretched for the job, one administration official told the Washington Post, noting that the new peacekeeping reserve force "could be used by the United Nations."   Just the sort of thing, in fact, that Powell might have argued. "  12:12:26 AM  permalink  

daily link  Monday, April 19, 2004

'Spyware' Eludes Easy Answers: "Internet security firm McAfee today reported that the number of "potentially unwanted programs" on its customers' computers grew from 643,000 in September 2003 to more than 2.5 million this March.  In a survey released earlier this month by Internet service provider Earthlink and privacy firm Webroot Software, the companies found close to 30 million spyware programs on more than 1 million computers in a three-month period -- nearly 28 programs for every computer. "  It uses a broad definition of spyware.  In another report "Microsoft estimates spyware is responsible for half of all PC crashes. Dell says 12 percent of its tech-support calls involve spyware, a problem that has increased substantially in recent months. "  9:37:59 PM  permalink  

Velocity: A java template engine run in many environments, with an apache/jakarta project for generating web html.  From Velocity: Fast Track to Templating: "Velocity is a fast and easy-to-use Java-based templating engine. Velocity's speed, ease of use, and flexibility contribute to its use in a broad range of applications, including code generation, email templating, and web user-interface creation. A template is a parameterized, predesigned text format. A template engine processes a template and fills in the parameterized pieces with concrete data."  Another article: Client and server-side templating with Velocity: "Velocity is a versatile, open source templating solution that can be used standalone in report generation/data transformation applications, or as a view component in MVC model frameworks. In this article, Sing Li introduces Velocity and reveals how you can integrate its template-processing capabilities into your own client-side standalone application, server-side Web application, or Web services."  Plus, Velosurf: "Velosurf is a java database abstraction layer, for the Velocity template engine. It is meant for ease-of-use, genericity and efficiency."  6:06:37 PM  permalink  

SpamBayes: Bayesian anti-spam classifier written in Python. "The SpamBayes project is working on developing a Bayesian anti-spam filter, initially based on the work of Paul Graham."  Excellent  background page.  Includes POP and IMAP filters and Outlook plugin, but no sharing of filter info.  Work started in August 2002.  Reminds me of my 2001-2002 RDV fellowship, when I went looking for simple tools for doing Bayes filtering of RSS feeds, to rank-order and cluster articles.  Maybe now's the time?  9:49:22 AM  permalink  

daily link  Sunday, April 18, 2004

These are our banner terror trials? "It's clear that the Bush administration doesn't believe in open criminal trials for "real" terrorists. "  1:28:50 PM  permalink  

INTEL DUMP: Goog blog. "Near real-time analysis and commentary from Phil Carter -- a former Army officer, journalist and UCLA law student"  1:24:59 PM  permalink  

daily link  Saturday, April 17, 2004

Army Awards $32 Million Contract to Improve iRobot's PackBot:  Nifty remote control "toy-like" tank.  Uses WiFi, Linux, compact flash memory and video camera.  Soldiers use it to examine and detonate bombs or mines.  iRobot also makes the Roomba vacuum cleaner.  The military spec version (400 G of force, sand and mud, 15 mph, etc) sells for $50,000 and up.

  2:48:21 PM  permalink  

Creditel PowerSwipe:  "Mobile sales pros, small businesses, and flea marketeers, take note: You can now use a cell phone to take credit card payments anywhere you have access to Nextel's wireless network. The Creditel PowerSwipe is a phone-based credit card machine that frees you from needing a landline to process transactions. .. Creditel claims its security technology makes the system more secure than an ATM machine."  $250 plus $12/mo plus .15/transaction.  2:42:00 PM  permalink  

Danes tag kids with Bluetooth: "Copenhagen's famous Tivoli Gardens opened its gates today for the Summer season and, for the first time, mums and dads do not have to worry about their kids getting lost in one of the world's oldest amusement parks.  Tivoli Gardens has introduced a Bluetooth surveillance system .. based on Bluetooth wristbands and 63 access points ..

Parents can buy a armlet for their child for DKK 20 (about $3). Should a child wander off, they merely have to send a SMS requesting information on the particular tag. Shortly thereafter they receive a message back specifying the location of the child's nearest Bluetooth receiver. The access points can pinpoint the location down to 20 metres."

  2:38:45 PM  permalink  

D-Link Ships Wireless Presentation Gateway: "The D-Link Wireless Presentation Gateway eliminates the cables between the projector and the PC, providing contiguous access for multiple presenters to deliver presentations in a group environment. "  Smart wifi application.  Gateway plugs into projector, costs $250.

  2:36:22 PM  permalink  

daily link  Friday, April 16, 2004

Internet Arcade Games: browser versions of tetrix, pong, and many oldies.  10:51:15 PM  permalink  

Apache URL Rewriting Guide: "It describes how one can use Apache's mod_rewrite to solve typical URL-based problems webmasters are usually confronted with in practice. I give detailed descriptions on how to solve each problem by configuring URL rewriting rulesets. "  11:36:14 AM  permalink  

Address by General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret), 2003:  Lists 7 challenges for the US in today's world, and focuses on nation-building:  "[The military is] great at dealing with the tactical problems—the killing and the breaking. We are lousy at solving the strategic problems; having a strategic plan, understanding about regional and global security and what it takes to weld that and to shape it and to move it forward. Where are the Marshalls today? Where are the Eisenhowers and the Trumans, that saw the vision and saw the world in a different way; and that understood what had to be done and what America's role is? ..

Right now the question that has to be answered is: does our military expand its role beyond the military aspect, or will we continue to stick it with this mission without the resources, the training, the cooperation from others or the lack of authority needed to get the job done? .. If the others, those wearing suits, can't come in and solve the problem—can't bring the resources, the expertise, and the organization—and we're going to continue to get stuck with it, you have one or two choices. Either they get the capability and it's demanded of them, and we learn how to partner to get it done, or the military finally decides to change into something else beyond the breaking and the killing. ..

[In Iraq] At the end of the third inning we declared victory and said the game's over. It ain't over. It isn't going to be over in future wars. .. [Our soldiers] should never be put on a battlefield without a strategic plan, not only for the fighting—our generals will take care of that—but for the aftermath and winning that war. Where are we, the American people, if we accept this, if we accept this level of sacrifice without that level of planning? "

  9:03:49 AM  permalink  

daily link  Thursday, April 15, 2004

Linksys, Boingo Boost Hotspots: "Small businesses can now turn on Wi-Fi hotspots to compete with better-known rivals without the hassle of setting up the whole service themselves, according to Cisco Systems' Linksys division and Boingo Wireless, which have teamed to market Hot Spot in a Box.  The feature is available immediately in the United States on the Linksys Wireless-G VPN Broadband Router. Once the router is set up on a broadband connection, the business can join the Boingo Roaming System. "

  12:36:42 AM  permalink  

daily link  Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Head Spook Sputters: "In a commission staff report, there is a stark juxtaposition of Sandy Berger's approach before the millennium and Condi Rice's before 9/11.  "Berger, in particular, met or spoke constantly with Tenet and Attorney General Reno," the report said. "He visited the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. on Christmas Day 1999 to raise the morale of exhausted officials."  Condi and her deputy, Steve Hadley, did not stoop to mere domestic work. "Rice and Hadley told us that before 9/11, they did not feel they had the job of handling domestic security." They left that up to Dick Clarke to broker, the same guy Dick Cheney said "wasn't in the loop." ..

After the Bay of Pigs, President Kennedy spoke to newspaper publishers and said: "This administration intends to be candid about its errors. For as a wise man once said, `An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.' . . . Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed — and no republic can survive."  Compare Kennedy with Mr. Bush, who conceded no errors.."

  10:25:15 PM  permalink  

Fiber Spun from Nanotube Smoke: "Researchers from the University of Cambridge in England have developed a relatively simple way to manufacture continuous fibers of carbon nanotubes. .. The relatively simple method promises to make it possible to more cheaply produce carbon nanotubes in bulk. It could also eventually produce fiber that rivals carbon fiber in strength, but that is more flexible. Carbon nanotube fibers are able to twist, opening the way to flexible materials, multistrand threads and threads made from a mix of materials.

The researchers spun continuous, twisted fibers directly from the furnace where carbon nanotubes were produced. The researchers injected a liquid mix of ethanol, ferrocene and thiophene into a flow of hydrogen gas in a furnace heated to between 1,050 and 1,200 degrees Celsius to produce nanotube aerogel, or elastic smoke. The keys were closely controlling conditions and drawing the nanotube aerogel continuously using a rotating spindle. Existing nanotube fiber methods use previously formed nanotubes.  In theory, the method can produce nanotube fiber of any length, according to the researchers. They have also developed a related technique for coating objects with layers of carbon nanotubes.

The method could be used to synthesize carbon nanotubes in bulk within two years and to make practical fibers in 5 to 10 years, according to the researchers."

  10:12:16 PM  permalink  

Army criticism on Iraq: "In a broadside fired at the conduct of the war in Iraq, a senior Army strategist has accused the Bush administration of seeking to win "quickly and on the cheap" while ignoring the more critical strategic aim of creating a stable, democratic nation.  While the United States easily won the initial battles that toppled Saddam Hussein a year ago, the administration "either misunderstood or, worse, wished away" the difficulties of transforming that victory into the larger political goal, Army Lt. Col. Antulio J. Echevarria of the U.S. Army War College writes in a new paper...

Echevarria, a West Point graduate with M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history from Princeton University, served as operations officer of a cavalry squadron, among other assignments, and has written widely on strategy...

Retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash [said] "But once you understand that the political objectives are supreme, you understand that you have to broaden the political coalition internationally, regionally and locally" to support nation-building in Iraq, he said.  "That's hard to do, and even harder if you have to swallow your pride."

  1:55:57 PM  permalink  

Google Adsense Test Page: Nice way to find out what sorts of ads would be put on your page by google, based on its content.   12:38:07 AM  permalink  

Surgeons Who Play Video Games Err Less: "Researchers found that doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37 percent fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery and performed the task 27 percent faster than their counterparts who did not play video games.

"I use the same hand-eye coordination to play video games as I use for surgery," said Dr. James "Butch" Rosser, 49..

Laparoscopic surgery using a tiny camera and instruments controlled by joysticks outside the body is performed on just about any part of the body..  Rosser said the skill needed for laparoscopic surgery is "like tying your shoelaces with 3-foot-long chopsticks." .. Kurt Squire, a University of Wisconsin researcher of video game effects on learning, said that "with a video game, you can definitely develop timing and a sense of touch, as well as a very intuitive feel for manipulating devices."

Meanwhile, "men 18-34 devote 6 percent and teenage (12-17) males devote 15 percent of the time they spend with media each day to playing video games, may help explain the corresponding drop in TV viewing that has manifested among young males this year. "  Will Johnny grow up to be a surgeon? [Thanks to MIT Tech Review blog].

  12:30:50 AM  permalink  

Neopets: A phenomenon on the net. "Neopets is the greatest Virtual Pet Site on the Internet. With your help, we have built a community of over 60 million virtual pet owners across the world! Neopets has many things to offer including over 140 games, trading, auctions, greetings, messaging, and countless recipes for asparagus. Best of all, it's completely FREE".  Some facts about it:

  • In less than three years, Neopets has grown from operating on a single server to employing more than two hundred servers. Currently, the site peaks at just under a gigabit of bandwidth (the equivalent of approximately 700 T1's)
  • The number of registered Neopets accounts has risen to over 65 million by December 2003 (which is approximately 16 million individuals by Company estimates). The website receives more than 60,000 registrations daily.
  • Neopets offers its members 63 Neopian Shops (created by the Neopets creative staff) from which members can purchase Items for their Neopets.
  • Members have created more than 12 million pages of content, including more than 2 million pet homepages, 1 million guilds (clubs), and nearly 10 million members' shops.
  • The average time spent per person on Neopets is greater than any other site on the Internet, including Yahoo, eBay, MSN and AOL. Total pageviews per user on Neopets leads the entire Internet including all search engines, auctions and niche websites. Only Yahoo, MSN, eBay and Google have more total pageviews than Neopets.
  12:19:30 AM  permalink  

daily link  Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Economist on nanotech hazards: Brief review of several people active in the field.  "The public outcry over genetically modified foods offers several lessons for those working and investing in nanotechnology/"  3:59:13 PM  permalink  

Last Real Chance in Iraq: Another clear piece from Fareed Zakaria.  "Weeks after formal hostilities ended, France and Germany made clear that they would be willing to provide major support for postwar reconstruction in Iraq. But they asked that it take place under U.N. auspices, as had all recent nation-building, including Afghanistan's. Tony Blair urged that the United States accept these offers, but Washington spurned them, finding the requirement for U.N. control intolerable. "We're utterly surprised," a senior U.N. diplomat told me in June 2003. "We thought the United States would dump Iraq on the world's lap and the rest of the world would object ... The opposite is happening. The rest of the world is saying, 'We're willing to help,' but Washington is determined to run Iraq itself."..   [Now] an administration so hostile to the U.N. finds that it is at the mercy of the U.N. for its salvation."  3:19:43 PM  permalink  

Snares and Delusions: Krugman nails it.  "Mr. Bush, who once challenged his own father to go mano a mano, is still addicted to tough talk, and still personalizes everything.

Again and again, administration officials have insisted that some particular evildoer is causing all our problems. Last July they confidently predicted an end to the insurgency after Saddam's sons were killed. In December, they predicted an end to the insurgency after capturing Saddam himself. Six weeks ago — was it only six weeks? — Al Qaeda was orchestrating the insurgency, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was the root of all evil. The obvious point that we're facing widespread religious and nationalist resentment in Iraq, which is exploited but not caused by the bad guy du jour, never seems to sink in.

The situation in Falluja seems to have been greatly exacerbated by tough-guy posturing and wishful thinking. According to The Jerusalem Post, after the murder and mutilation of American contractors, Mr. Bush told officials that "I want heads to roll." Didn't someone warn him of the likely consequences of attempting to carry out a manhunt in a hostile, densely populated urban area?

And now we have a new villain. Yesterday Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez declared that "the mission of the U.S. forces is to kill or capture Moktada al-Sadr." If and when they do, we'll hear once again that we've turned the corner. Does anyone believe it?

When will we learn that we're not going to end the mess in Iraq by getting bad guys? There are always new bad guys to take their place. And let's can the rhetoric about staying the course. In fact, we desperately need a change in course.

The best we can realistically hope for now is to turn power over to relatively moderate Iraqis with a real base of popular support. Yes, that mainly means Islamic clerics. The architects of the war will complain bitterly, and claim that we could have achieved far more. But they've been wrong about everything so far — and if we keep following their advice, Iraq really will turn into another Vietnam. "

  12:53:17 AM  permalink  

daily link  Monday, April 12, 2004

Capital Games: Reminder of the coverup chronology.  "A small but significant White House cover-up fell apart this past weekend..

The PDB controversy is not about whether Bush received a specific warning a month before 9/11. It concerns his administration's attitude toward al Qaeda and the possibility of domestic attacks prior to September 11 and whether the White House has truly been willing to see the full 9/11 tale uncovered and told. The evidence is mounting that al Qaeda was not the priority it should have been in the first seven months of Bush's presidency. Yet the White House is unable to acknowledge that it made a misjudgment. Much of the public might even believe that it was a natural mistake for a new administration to underestimate the abilities and reach of a madman hunkered down in faraway Afghanistan. In a way, such a screw-up may be more forgivable than Bush and his lieutenants' efforts to cover up information and prevent the 9/11 commission from completing a thorough examination. ..

The 9/11 commission has not constantly inspired confidence, but thanks to the panel, Rice's PDB cover-up, after two years, caved in. Still, suspicious minds would be right to wonder: Are there other cover-ups, which are not yet publicly known, that will end up more to Bush and Rice's liking? "

  9:41:24 PM  permalink  

Battle stations? Hardly: "For at least a decade, the terrorist "kamikaze-ing” of airplanes had been much discussed. In 1994, a deranged man crashed a small plane into the White House, doing little damage. And in 1995, a plot was uncovered to hijack airplanes and crash them into U.S. targets, including the CIA headquarters in Virginia.  Since then, on at least six occasions, according to The Wall Street Journal, the government set up air-defense systems above sensitive events, such as the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Indeed, on 9/11, plans were already under way to protect the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. ..

Last week Rice said that .. "The president of the United States had us at battle stations during this period of time.” But a look at the timeline of 9/11 itself shows [otherwise. At] 8:13 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 stopped responding to air traffic control. Within 20 minutes, authorities not only knew that the plane had been hijacked and that a passenger had been killed; they even knew the identity of some of the Arab killers. That plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46.

Mightn't those events alone have triggered some recall of the Aug. 6 briefing, if, in fact, Uncle Sam was at "battle stations”? Instead, at 8:55, the presidential motorcade arrived at an elementary school in Florida; Bush went inside to read a book to the children. Then a second hijacked plane -- known to be off course for 38 minutes -- crashed into the second tower. Bush was told "America is under attack” at 9:07. Yet amazingly, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was sitting in his regular office a half-hour later when yet another plane struck the Pentagon. Does that sound like "battle stations”? Eighty-four minutes after the first inkling of a hijacked-airplane incident, the defense headquarters of the United States was hit by a lumbering passenger airliner, and the defense chief was caught totally exposed and vulnerable.

Can anybody call that performance a job well done? Bush seems to think so.."

  9:34:21 PM  permalink  

Oddpost: Interesting web mail client with news aggregator, Bayesian spam filtering, no advertising, and a DHTML/Javascript interface that resembles a desktop app.  Cheap for end users ($30/year) and can be lisenced (Java version available, Windows version falls from 5 users @$30/user to 1000 users @$2 or unlimited for $5000).  Hilarious weblog, too.   5:22:07 PM  permalink  

daily link  Thursday, April 08, 2004

New Scientist Interview with William McDonough: He "wants to reinvent everything from tennis shoes to cars so we can consume as much as we wish without harming the planet. He explains why he takes nature as a perfect model for human design, and why effective is better than efficient"  12:10:26 AM  permalink  

loaf: Nifty introduction to Bloom filters, which seem potentially broadly useful: "LOAF is a simple extension to email that lets you append your entire address book to outgoing mail message without compromising your privacy. Correspondents can use this information to prioritize their mail, and learn more about their social networks."  12:08:02 AM  permalink  

daily link  Wednesday, April 07, 2004

I fought the scammer... and I won: A Dublin internet cafe sysadmin calls the cops on a spammer in the act.  Fun techie sleuthing.  "He asks them what the problem is and is told to step away from the computer. He doesn't seem too happy about this, but does so. He's asked his name and is told that he might like to come down for a chat in the local station. He says his wallet and ID are in the booth, so he walks in, rips a USB memory stick from the side of his laptop, tries to swallow it and makes a run for it."  11:48:22 PM  permalink  

Opinions steady despite ads: "Public views of President Bush and Democratic rival John Kerry have changed little in the past month despite millions of dollars of television campaign ads, according to a survey released Monday... changes in their favorable ratings were "statistically insignificant" in the 18 battleground states where the most ads have run."  Bush spent $40m on ads and Kerry $20m during the period.  11:30:02 PM  permalink  

daily link  Monday, April 05, 2004

9/11 Panel News: "Newsweek reports that a staffer from Kean’s commission faxed a photograph from November 1945 of presidential chief of staff Admiral William Leahy appearing before a special congressional panel investigating the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Accompanying the photo was a note saying the photo would be all over Washington in 24 hours if the White House didn't allow Rice to testify in public before the commission.  The White House denied that the photograph forced its hand"  10:16:56 PM  permalink  

New Guide to Rich Opportunities with World's Poorest Customers:  An updated view of bottom-of-the-pyramid opportunities.  "In Doing Business with the Poor: A Field Guide, by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the guide advises companies to stick to core business, while finding innovative ways of marketing, distributing and billing when doing business with the poor -- which it defines as “sustainable livelihoods.” "  5:51:06 PM  permalink  

Putting 40,000 Readers, One by One, on a Cover: "Wthe 40,000 subscribers to Reason, the monthly libertarian magazine, receive a copy of the June issue, they will see on the cover a satellite photo of a neighborhood - their own neighborhood. And their house will be graphically circled. 

On one level, the project, sort of the ultimate in customized publishing, is unsurprising: of course a magazine knows where its subscribers live. But it is still a remarkable demonstration of the growing number of ways databases can be harnessed. Apart from the cover image, several advertisements are customized to reflect the recipient's particulars. ..

Rodger Cosgrove, president of Entremedia, a direct marketing firm and a member of Reason's board, assisted in coming up with a program that allows the subscriber list to be integrated with satellite photographs. He also worked with Xeikon, the manufacturer of the printer that made the endless customization possible.  ..

In his editor's note describing the magazine's database package, Mr. Gillispie left open three spots - commuting time, educational attainment and percentage of children living with grandparents - so he could adapt his message to individual readers. .."

  11:41:35 AM  permalink  

France 'sought secret UN deal' in bid to avert row: Confirmation of Holbrooke conversation from March, plus confirmation of Bush rush to war: "The French government offered a surprise compromise to the US president, George Bush, in the run-up to the war in Iraq .. The report undermines the public perception of France standing resolutely against the US and Britain in the United Nations security council as the two countries tried to win a second resolution in support of war. ..

At a lunch in the White House on January 13 last year, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, an adviser to the president, Jacques Chirac, and Jean-David Levitte, the French ambassador in Washington, put the deal to Condoleezza Rice, the US national security adviser.  In an effort to avoid a bitter US-French row, the French officials suggested that if the US was intent on war, it should not seek the second resolution, according to highly placed US sources cited by Vanity Fair.  Instead, the two said that the first resolution on Iraq, 1441, passed the previous year, provided enough legal cover for war and that France would keep quiet if the US went to war on that basis.  The deal would suit the French by maintaining its "good cop" status in the Arab world and safeguarding Franco-US relations.

But the deal died when Tony Blair led a doomed attempt to secure a second resolution to try to satisfy Labour MPs and government lawyers who questioned the legitimacy of the war. ..

The investigation also claims that Mr Blair and Mr Bush discussed war against Iraq only nine days after the attack on New York on September 11 2001, even though Mr Blair was insisting up until just before the Iraq war began on March 20 last year that no decision had been taken.  Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British ambassador to Washington, is quoted in Vanity Fair as saying Mr Blair told Mr Bush over dinner that the US president should not be distracted by Iraq from the war against al-Qaida."

  4:42:04 AM  permalink  

daily link  Sunday, April 04, 2004

Fouad Ajami on Iraq and Middle East: A collection of links up to early 2003.  10:37:03 PM  permalink  

Recording contact info in XML: "I am trying to develop an address book kind of application. The contact information will be maintained in XML format. Is there any standard DTD for contacts?"  Many, here are some starting points.  12:38:49 PM  permalink  

Using libferris with XML: "This article presents the benefits of using libferris with your XML applications. libferris presents a uniform interface to hierarchical data. This data can be persisted using many providers including the filesystem, an RDBMS, or even XML. All the data providers in libferris are made available using a filesystem metaphor: MySQL tables can be seen using ferrisls on a "mysql://host/database/table" URL."  12:37:47 PM  permalink  

daily link  Saturday, April 03, 2004

Terror responses:  couple useful facts.  "A Congressional inquiry into intelligence activities before Sept. 11 found 12 reports over a seven-year period suggesting that terrorists might use airplanes as weapons... Between 1998 and 2001, the last fiscal year for which President Clinton submitted a budget, counterterrorism spending across all government agencies grew by more than 50 percent, to $9.7 billion."  10:08:37 PM  permalink  

daily link  Friday, April 02, 2004

Industrial control systems seen as 'undeniably vulnerable': "In a hearing yesterday on the security of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems, which are used to manage infrastructure such as the electric power grid and oil and gas pipelines, Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) said the lack of a national strategy to deal with SCADA system security makes the nation "undeniably vulnerable" to cyberterrorism. Putnam is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census.

"The more I've learned [about the lack of SCADA system security], the more concerned I've become," said Putnam. "I've learned that today's SCADA systems have been designed with little or no attention to computer security. Data are often sent as clear text; protocols for accepting commands are open, with no authentication required; and communications channels are often wireless, leased lines or the Internet."  ..

Gerald Freese, director of information security at American Electric Power, said SCADA systems remain "open books" to any terrorist organization that wants to learn how to exploit them. In fact, U.S. energy companies assisted Pakistan in developing that country's SCADA and supporting telecommunications infrastructure. Modeling the Pakistani electric power infrastructure on the U.S., these companies used many of the same technologies and many of the same vendors to do the work, Freese said.

Richard Clarke and Howard Schmidt, the two former chairmen of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, acknowledged in interviews that raids conducted during the war on terrorism have uncovered evidence that al-Qaeda has been actively studying vulnerabilities in U.S. SCADA systems

  11:04:22 PM  permalink  

Gnews2RSS: "An experimental convertor that takes a Google News search and turns it into RSS" from programmer Julian Bond. Google filed a court order to shut down one service running this code.  10:50:28 PM  permalink  

Nanowrapping cell enzymes:  "To increase [a cell's] enzyme's longevity and versatility, a team at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., has caged single enzymes to create a new class of catalysts called SENs, or single enzyme nanoparticles. The nanostructure protects the catalyst, allowing it to remain active for five months instead of hours.  "The principal concept can be used with many water-soluble enzymes," said Jungbae Kim of PNNL..

Kim and Grate modified a common protein-splitting enzyme called alpha-chymotrypsin. They modified the enzyme surface to make it soluble, then added vinyl reagents to induce the growth of molecular threads, or polymers, from the enzyme surface. A second polymerization step cross-linked silicon chains, forming a basketball-netlike structure a few nanometers thick. What results are SENs that appear in electron microscopic images as hollow enzyme-containing nanostructures about 8 nanometers across. Kim and Grate found that by using less reactive forms of vinyl they could vary the thickness of the nano-netting by half. Thick or thin, the porous netting preserves the shape of the enzyme inside yet allows its active site to interact with a substrate. SENs are also amenable to storage; they have been refrigerated for five months, losing little of their activity.

Among the uses Kim noted for SENs is the breakdown toxic waste--a single treatment could last months. Stabilized enzymes are also a prerequisite for many types of biosensors. And they may be of interest for coating surfaces, with application ranging from medicine (protecting implants from protein plaques) to shipping (keeping barnacles off hulls)."

  10:07:44 PM  permalink  

Mali agricultural pricing radio show:"The farm-pricing radio show comes from an enterprise called the Observatoire du Marché Agricole (Agricultural Market Watch). OMA started out as part of a foreign-aid program. Using an $8.5 million handout from the U.S. Agency for International Development and other donors, a group of Malian and American professors at Michigan State University set out 13 years ago to help deregulate the Mali grain market."  Also, I've seen Indian data on a website run by their ministries of ag and info.  10:38:54 AM  permalink  

BBC NEWS | Technology | Simputer for poor goes on sale: "The Simputer was officially launched on Friday and the basic model costs around $240. .. Branded as the Amida Simputer, the handheld comes in three versions. The basic model has a monochrome screen, a 206MHz processor and 64MB of memory. It also has an internal microphone, speakers and a battery that lasts for six hours."  Its site promotes it as both a personal device and a business application platform.   There are 3 Models, $240/300/480, from stripped down to one with a color screen. Features in the mid and high models:

  • Linux based, with support for a few Indian scripts built in
  • integrated SmartCard reader/writer
  • 3 USB 1.1 ports (eg, for flash memory, or GPS), one as slave (eg, peripheral to a PC, for synching or whatever)
  • infrared interface , serial interface, mic and speakers
  • Amida Alchemy, an application development suite with a text-to-speech engine
  • an accelerometer that senses the wrist motion of the user, so that a flick of the wrist can advance pages in an online book, and rotating the device can change the aspect ratio from portrait to landscape
  • support for CDMA data networks (and bundles that include internet access packages from an Indian ISP)
  8:28:43 AM  permalink  

Gateway Stores to close: "Gateway said all 188 company-operated stores will shut down and approximately 2,500 retail jobs will go with them."  I wonder if that will mean the end of the Gateway Grid computer service.  8:04:45 AM  permalink  

daily link  Thursday, April 01, 2004

High Definition Video Surveillance System: "Delivering digital HDTV imagery at video rates across local area networks, AV2000 is designed to offer a vastly superior cost-competitive alternative to mainstream NTSC-based video surveillance and industrial monitoring systems.   AV2000 system is enabled by proprietary MegaVideo(TM) technology protected by multiple pending patents. This revolutionary technology leverages dedicated massively-parallel image processing architecture and represents a drastic departure from traditional analog and network camera designs. For the first time it has become possible to introduce to the market multi-megapixel video systems at NTSC price levels, with cameras priced below $500. ..

In addition to remote access and digital video archival functionality typical for today's network-based systems, Arecont Vision products offer unique capabilities unattainable with NTSC/VGA cameras. In sharp contrast to low-resolution systems, MegaVideo(TM) technology allows simultaneous delivery of full field of view and high-quality zoomed images at video rates, post-event zoom-in capability from archived footage, and instantaneous no-moving-parts pan and tilt required for tracking of fast moving targets. "

  5:42:59 PM  permalink  

Canada Unveils Tell-All, Online Expenses Policy: "Canada took its bid to clean up politics to new levels on Thursday, publishing details of expenses claimed by ministers, ambassadors and other senior officials on government Web sites. .. The measures were announced last year after it emerged that former privacy commissioner George Radwanski and his press aide had racked up C$510,000 ($390,000) on travel, meals and hotels in just two years. He was forced to resign over the affair.  Federal institutions will have to update figures for travel and hospitality expenses every three months. "  5:18:13 PM  permalink  

'Nanorings' could boost computer memory: "Purdue chemist Alexander Wei may have come up with a surprisingly simple and cheap solution to the shrinking data storage problem. Wei's research team has found a way to create tiny magnetic rings from particles made of cobalt. The rings are much less than 100 nanometers across – an important threshold for the size-conscious computer industry – and can store magnetic information at room temperature. Best of all, these "nanorings" form all on their own, a process commonly known as self-assembly."  2:13:10 PM  permalink  

Nano funding: "the impression that VCs are falling all over themselves to get in on the nano action isn't really true.   Government money, though, is a totally different story -- DARPA, NIST ATP, SBIR, the whole alphabet soup. It's really not the private sector that's boosting the industry right now. It's government spending. And that's a fairly normal phenomenon for an industry in its early phase. The government props it up, encourages it, gets R&D moving in the lab, helps it along into the startup phase, and then the Darwinian world of business kicks in.

Even there, though, startups can live to see another day primarily through government grants. And right now, the military is where the money is at. Shop your nanomaterial around and tell a VC that your superstrong, superlight nano-enhanced polymer would be useful for garage doors, and you might be shown the door. But go to DARPA and say it can help reinforce tank or aircraft or cockpit doors and can stop a speeding bullet, and you might have an easier time getting some dough.

The difference now, though, is that public relations people have taken over the business of nanotechnology, and so there's a perception that VCs just can't seem to stop blindly throwing their money at anything with the n-word as a prefix. That's what creates buzz and gets nano names in the news during evening drive times."

  2:05:35 PM  permalink  

VOYAGE: "VOYAGE is a movement of young people working to inspire a globally engaged America. We envision an informed U.S. public that voices solidarity with our global community and acts to alleviate suffering across the world. VOYAGE pursues this vision through public outreach and grassroots networking, creating a variety of forums for youth to enrich the debate on America's role in the international community."  Endorsed by Gary Hart; active in small development projects and media outreach.  1:46:51 PM  permalink  

President Bush: Flip-Flopper-In-Chief: Nice list.  Could be significant: "Even as the Bush campaign chips away at Kerry's credibility, he'll have to address similar questions about his own. .. His flip-flops take on added weight because he himself has upped the ante. The underlying theme of every Bush campaign is that he is a man of honor, while his opponent is a liar or a hypocrite. Of course, Bush doesn't use those exact words. But make no mistake, that's what he meant when in the 2000 Republican primary he described Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) as a politician who "says one thing and does another" and characterized Vice President Gore as a politician who will "say anything to get elected."

Kerry campaign spokesman David Wade said the Bush administration has "this nasty habit of flip-flopping the only time political pressure is applied, any time they see that their own positions are untenable. It's incredible how transparent their flip-flops are... The great irony is that this administration makes these baseless attacks when in fact not only is George Bush a walking contradiction, but clearly he is the candidate in the race that has the known credibility problem."  "

  12:04:32 PM  permalink  

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