Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog


daily link  Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Plutocrats with hands in the money jar:  "Conrad M. Black ran a "corporate kleptocracy" for his own benefit at Hollinger International, the publisher of The Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers, and the board of directors failed in its responsibilities to monitor what he was doing, a committee of that board concluded in a report filed on Monday in federal court in Chicago and made available today.  "Hollinger wasn't a company where isolated improper and abusive acts took place," said the report, largely written by Richard C. Breeden, a former chairman of the SEC. Rather, it said, Hollinger was "an entity in which ethical corruption was a defining characteristic." ..

The report lays out in devastating detail the ways in which it says Lord Black and his associates drained $400 million, or 95% of Hollinger's adjusted net income from 1997 through 2003. .. the report said Hollinger failed to disclose as much as 96 percent of the amounts it should have disclosed. ..

The report saved its harshest criticism for Richard Perle, the former Reagan administration official and current member of a Pentagon advisory board. It said it did not consider Mr. Perle to have been an independent director and called on him to return $5.4 million in pay he received after "putting his own interests above those of Hollinger's shareholders."

It said James R. Thompson, a former governor of Illinois and the chairman of Hollinger's audit committee ..  and two other members of the audit committee, Richard D. Burt, a former United States ambassador to Germany, and Marie-Josée Kravis, the wife of the financier Henry Kravis, "failed to respond critically to the repeated demands for [management] payments even though they should all have known these payments were highly unusual from the numerous boards on which they had served." ..

The committee said large Hollinger donations to "pet charities" of various directors, including Mr. Kissinger and Robert Strauss, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, "without the restraint of sound corporate governance controls, raises questions regarding the independence of those directors.""

  10:47:15 PM  permalink  

Foreign Affairs - What Went Wrong in Iraq - Larry Diamond: Long careful analysis of the failed Iraq reconstruction.  "The obsession with control was an overarching flaw in the U.S. occupation from start to finish. In any postconflict international intervention, there is always a certain tension between legitimacy and control. Yet for most of the first year of occupation, the U.S. administration opted for the latter whenever the tradeoff presented itself. ..

Because of the failures and shortcomings of the occupation-as well as the intrinsic difficulties that any occupation following Saddam's tyranny was bound to confront-it is going to take a number of years to rebuild the Iraqi state and to construct any kind of viable democratic and constitutional order in Iraq. The post-handover transition is going to be long, and initially very bloody. It is not clear that the country is going to be able to conduct reasonably credible elections by next January. And even if those elections are held in a minimally acceptable fashion, it is hard to imagine that the over-ambitious transition timetable for the remainder of 2005 will be kept. "

  10:00:40 PM  permalink  

Gary Hart warns us (twice):  June 6, 2004: "[Rice] was a supporter of mine when I ran for Senate in '80 and for president in '84, so I've known her a long time. We briefed her on the phone when our [commission] report came out in January [2001]. We had a personal briefing with Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld. We tried to see the president, and he refused. We tried to see the vice president. He refused. After our commission was disbanded, I tried to see Dr. Rice as a concerned American. I had no official authority or title. It took months. While I was waiting, I kept on giving speeches, including one to transportation officials in Canada. A Montreal newspaper, the Gazette, ran a story after my talk: "Terror Risk Real: Hart: Thousands in U.S. Will Die." I flew down to Washington to see Dr. Rice, and my hair was on fire (to use Richard Clarke's phrase). That was September 6, 2001. When I saw the second plane fly into the tower on television on Sept. 11, I thought, "I wish I had done more to try to warn the country." That was the frustration I felt. Later, I got angry. ..

If you want to make a million dollars, you should write the book on the unknown background of the Iraq War. It's a blockbuster. I think Tenet's in the middle of it. Chalabi's a player. Richard Perle, Wolfowitz. All these guys. I think we went to war for reasons that were not told to the American people. And it's all going to come out. There has been a conspiracy, a plot. It's a cesspool. Tenet knows a lot of stuff he's not telling. Why he did remain in his job after Sept. 11? Because of the White House. They couldn't fire him -- he knew too much. "

  5:08:24 PM  permalink  

Mini-Box.Com: "Mini-Box is a small, lightweight, yet powerful x86 system designed for embedded or general purpose PC computing applications. Consuming under 10 watts, the M-100 is an excellent candidate for low power, small form factor computing requirements. The M-100 is equipped with a backlit LCD, customizable 14 key keypad, front load Compact Flash, USB and audio."  Comes with Linux on a bootable CF.  Powered by 12v DC.  4:49:59 PM  permalink  

Cane waste into electricity: "Cogeneration from bagasse could supply 25% of power in cane-producing countries, according to a report from the World Alliance for Decentralized Energy.  The overall potential share in the world’s major developing country producers exceeds 7%, but no more than 15% of this potential has yet been realized, says the report, ‘Bagasse Cogeneration - Global Review & Potential.’ Bagasse cogeneration describes the use of fibrous sugarcane waste to cogenerate heat and electricity at high efficiency in sugar mills.

“The critical condition for the full exploitation of this major opportunity is that mill owners should be able to secure competitive rates for the electricity they supply to the grid or to other power consumers,” it explains. “Currently, these buyback rates only rarely reflect the fair value of the electricity to the system - disincentivising producers and preventing high efficiency cogeneration plants from being optimally sized to meet heat demand.”
The issue is being addressed in parts of India, where the introduction of biomass feed-in tariffs are ensuring that the external benefits of bagasse cogeneration are recognised by markets. The cost burden to India will be reduced by almost US$1 billion a year through a buyback rate of 7¢/kWh.. "  The Kyoto CDM is seen as a financing mechanism for these plants.  4:19:50 PM  permalink  

Darfur, Sudan:  A shocking map of the region as of August 2, 2004.  One red marker for each of 395 destroyed villages, another 121 orange markers for damaged villages, the locations of camps with over 100,000 refugees, the dirt tracks and airports used by relief workers to get there.  (The map is a poster-resolution PDF, 1.87mb, including satellite image details.)  11:10:21 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, August 30, 2004


Global Village Energy Project: GVEP is a partnership of UNDP, World Bank, donor governements and NGOs for sustainable rural energy development.  ITDG – the Intermediate Technology Development Group – is the new host for the GVEP Technical Secretariat.  The site has a useful database of documents and pointers on renewable energy work around the world.   They participate in several EU programs on RE.  A brief 2003 survey of 9 related programs is online.  10:20:39 PM  permalink  

Copernican Inversion: Interesting new tool for making offline demos and traning versions of web apps.  I wonder if it could be used for creating test suites and exercising web apps.  Based on proxy emulation.  From Dan Grigsby.  4:48:51 PM  permalink  

Solar lanterns to light up 1,000 villages:  A product that is getting more popular in developing countries.  "As many as 660.000 houses in 1,000 villages in the State will get at least one solar-powered lantern as part of a `self-village energy security programme' involving the State Government and the Union Ministry for Non-conventional Energy Sources (MNES). This is part of a scheme to electrify `remote' hamlets using renewable energy..  The 1,000-village electrification project would cost Rs. 100 crores ($20 m). The MNES would provide 90 per cent of the funds and the State the rest. The project is to be facilitated by Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd. (KREDL). The Managing Director of KREDL, B. Shivalingaiah, said the organisation was identifying the 1,000 villages. Villagers would initially have to pay Rs. 40 to Rs. 50 a month under the scheme, he said. "  4:36:59 PM  permalink  

Technology already exists to stabilize global warming: Article published in Science identifies portfolio of options to cut emissions now.  They refer to a stabilization triangle composed of emission reduction wedges:  "Keeping emissions flat for 50 years will require trimming projected carbon output by roughly 7 billion tons per year by 2054, keeping a total of ~175 billion tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere [graphed as a triangle]. We refer to this carbon savings as the "stabilization triangle."

To keep pace with global energy needs at the same time, the world must find energy technologies that emit little to no carbon, plus develop the capacity for carbon storage. Many strategies available today can be scaled up to reduce emissions by at least 1 billion tons of carbon per year by 2054. We call this reduction a "wedge" of the triangle. By embarking on several of these wedge strategies now, the world can take a big bite out of the carbon problem instead of passing the whole job on to future generations. "

  4:28:43 PM  permalink  

Geothermal cooling for Toronto: "One of the world’s largest green heat systems has been commissioned in Canada’s largest city.  Enwave’s Deep Lake Water Cooling system can provide cooling for 130 office towers in the downtown core. The system pumps water of 4°C temperature from a depth of 83 m below Lake Ontario, which is used to chill Enwave's cooling plant before it is distributed to customers for air conditioning.

The earth energy system is used in cooling mode only, after which it is distributed for potable water consumption throughout the city. The project produces enough air conditioning for 20 million square feet of office space, and initial customers include the Air Canada Centre, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Royal Bank Plaza, TD Centre and Steam Whistle Brewing. .. Compared with traditional space cooling, the system reduces electricity use by 75% and will eliminate 40,000 tonnes of CO2, equal to taking 8,000 cars off of the streets. It also frees 59 MW from the Ontario electrical grid."  4:15:19 PM  permalink  

Axis Network Camera HTTP Authentication Bypass Vulnerability:  Amazing securty hole:  Axis makes widely used networked surveillance cameras.  They have an onboard website for administration -- and that website is easily compromised.  Furthermore, it's reported that many of these cameras are open on the public internet and can be found with google (not even a robots.txt file to prevent indexing).  Incredible that a security products company would release such a buggy product.  And it's also reported that the company didn't respond to hacker reports (normally companies issue info and an update before the hacker goes public.)   "A vulnerability has been identified in several Axis Network Cameras, which can be exploited by a malicious person to bypass user authentication. Normally a user is required to input a username and password before access is granted to "http://[victim]/admin/admin.shtml". However, by sending a HTTP request with an extra "/" before the "admin" folder, it is possible to bypass the authentication completely."

  10:10:56 AM  permalink  

Robocop Now in Beta: "If you're in New York City when the Republican National Conventions kicks off next week, watch for police officers watching you with extra sets of megapixel peepers. The Federal Protective Service has outfitted patrol officers with helmets embedded with wireless video cameras. The images from the helmet-cams and traditional surveillance cameras mounted in federal buildings are streamed to a headquarters-on-wheels where deployment decisions can be made. ..

The wearable component of the Federal Protective Service's system is more akin to two projects in development at UC Berkeley. As reported on TheFeature earlier this year, smart firefighter helmets will provide emergency personnel with an "augmented reality" display that overlays text and images onto their view through the helmet. Meanwhile, command and control officers can help guide the rescue efforts by sharing the view of the firefighters inside a blaze.

The police system is also quite similar to UC Berkeley professor Ken Goldberg's Tele-Actor, a "human robot" sporting wireless Web cams and microphones. Groups of online participants can collaboratively control the Tele-Actor as "it" moves through remote spaces. For example, in one experiment a class of high school students "visited" a restricted biotechnology laboratory using the Tele-Actor as their collective avatar. "  12:16:59 AM  permalink  

Made to Order - How industrial design became a weekend hobby: Many examples of customization (and "wrangling"), like fitting computers into other cases, modifying cars, playing The Sims, using rapid prototyping machines, and vendors like cafepress.com.  About rapid prototyping machines (aka "3D printers"), check out the Solidscape: T66 ($50k), and Z-corp (with a cool GIS application).  12:09:49 AM  permalink  

Links to browser editing tools:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/itools-htmlarea/
http://dynarch.com/mishoo/htmlarea.epl
http://tinymce.moxiecode.com/
http://sourceforge.net/projects/spaw/

List-maker's comment: "HTML Area was real easy to configure and add to my blog software. It took maybe 30 minutes of fiddling."

  12:04:41 AM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, August 29, 2004


Off-topic rant: Why are browsers such terrible writing instruments? Shirky's spot-on: "really, the browser has been around for a long time now; why should anyone even have to make an argument that autosave, undo, and re-sizing are good functions for an app to support?"  11:58:33 PM  permalink  

Mobile Phone Advertising That's Pull, Rather Than Push: Interesting note on ads that engage cellphone users. First, a billboard that shows a you video when you sent it an SMS (and presumably sneaks in an ad). Second, a magazine that encourages readers to photograph the pages and send them in to the publisher to enter a sweepstakes (and presumably pay closer attention to the ads).  It's reported that people have been snapping ads already to share images of clothes and hair that they like.  11:40:26 PM  permalink  

GmailFS: "GmailFS provides a mountable Linux filesystem which uses your Gmail account as its storage medium. "  Pretty neat - apparently similar hacks are available for yahoo or hotmail systems.  One more step to "the web as platform".  9:32:41 PM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, August 28, 2004


Limits to movement of a VMware Linux virtual machine: "Copying, moving, and backup operations are as simple as manipulating the virtual machine's files and selecting File | Open from the VMware menu to make VMware aware of a new or moved virtual machine. Note, however, that when moving a virtual machine to a different physical machine, you will need to edit the guest's device settings for the new hardware. Further, if the new computer uses a different processor, a Linux guest may not work on the new machine. This is due to the fact that Linux installations choose a kernel optimised for either an Intel or AMD processor. "  10:53:49 PM  permalink  

Virtual Server 2005: Program Customized Testing Environments Without Trashing Your Machine -- MSDN Magazine, August 2004:  Windows COM code that automates system setup tasks in a testing environment.  Code is downloadable.  10:50:12 PM  permalink  

RSS white paper: Clear introduction to RSS with comparison of aggregators.  9:45:17 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, August 27, 2004


GM Hybrid buses for Yosemite Park: "Yosemite National Park [is] investing in transit buses powered by GM's hybrid technology, which offers up to 60% greater fuel economy and 90% cleaner emissions. The General Services Administration (GSA) has awarded a contract for 18 new 40-foot diesel-electric hybrid buses, which are scheduled to go in service in May 2005. Gillig Corp., of Hayward, Calif., manufactures the buses.

GM-hybrid-equipped buses are currently in revenue service in Philadelphia and Seattle, which will have more than 230 hybrid buses in service by the end of 2004, representing the largest hybrid bus order in history. In addition, the hybrid buses are in "preview programs" in over a dozen major North American cities, including Minneapolis, Portland and Houston. ..

"Several types of alternative fuel buses were seriously considered," commented Yosemite National Park Superintendent Mike Tollefson. "The decision to pursue diesel electric hybrids was based on a significant improvement in fuel economy, dramatically reduced emissions, and noticeably quieter operations. .."

"General Motors' hybrid strategy focuses on applying fuel-saving hybrid technology where it makes the most sense, on vehicles like transit buses, full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles," said Tom Stephens, group vice president of GM Powertrain. "For example, replacing the 13,000 buses operating in the nine largest transit markets in the United States with our hybrid technology would result in annual savings of almost 40 million gallons of fuel, equivalent to nearly half a million small hybrid passenger vehicles." "  10:04:27 PM  permalink  

We like it negative: "when we hear, year after year, that we Americans are tired of negative political ads, we just quietly giggle to ourselves. Sure, we say we're tired of them. We say we want the focus of electoral politics to be all about healthcare, education, terrorism, jobs and whatever other issues to which we supposedly devote such a large portion of mindshare.

But we lie. We love negative ads. We love the game of politics much more than the substance of the issues. We are on every level a nation of substance abusers. We abuse anyone who focuses too much on substance and reward those who can come up with a really good (and ultimately meaningless) one liner. "  Several examples supplied.

  10:30:30 AM  permalink  

Cringely visits Englebart:  A short retelling of a classic innovation story.  Interesting that Englebart says he envisioned his famous 1968 demo in 1950, and talked about it with very few people in fear of ridicule.  10:14:05 AM  permalink  

IEEE Internet Computing: Wireless Grids: Distributed Resource Sharing: Wide ranging review articles on wireless mesh and sensor applications.  8:03:02 AM  permalink  

Futuristic factories make mesh: "Industrial motors (not including facility heating and ventilating) consumed 679 billion kilowatt hours in the United States in 2003. That's 63 percent of all electricity used in industry and 23 percent of all electricity sold in the United States last year, according to the Energy Department. .. DOE figures a wireless sensor network could increase a motor's efficiency by 10 to 20 percent, which corresponds to a total U.S. energy savings of 120 trillion BTUs (35.1 billion kW-hr) per year..

Sensicast has devised a suite of control programs that have frequency "agility" — that is, they seek out the clear frequencies and attempt to evenly spread out the simultaneous communications going on among the nodes on the mesh.  ..

Each wireless sensor will operate for years on a single battery charge, but for the future, GE is working on new technology that could harvest the vibrational energy of the motor itself to power the transceivers. Rensselaer, for its part, will be developing a physics-based model that will enable turnkey analysis and lifetime predictions from the sensor outputs of a motor. "

  7:59:29 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, August 26, 2004


Horizontal innovation networks - by and for users:  2002 MIT paper on what I've been calling open production, related to the book Enabling Innovation.  Several examples, both techie and nontechie (like mountain bikes).  "Innovation development, production, distribution and consumption networks can be built up horizontally – with actors consisting only of innovation users (more precisely, “user/self-manufacturers”). “Free” and “open source” software projects are examples of such networks, and examples can be found in the case of physical products as well. User innovation networks can function entirely independently of manufacturers when (1) at least some users have sufficient incentive to innovate, (2) at least some users have an incentive to voluntarily reveal their innovations, and (3) diffusion of innovations by users is low cost and can compete with commercial production and distribution. When only the first two conditions hold, a pattern of user innovation and trial and improvement will occur within user networks, followed by commercial manufacture and distribution of innovations that prove to be of general interest. In this paper we explore the empirical evidence related to each of these matters and conclude that conditions favorable to user innovation networks are often present in the economy."  Related: a Jonathan Schwartz blog entry on how users are making IT decisions; personal uses of IT come to the office now, it's not just work going home.  6:50:41 PM  permalink  

iChat AV at 35,000 Feet: Nice screen shots of an in-air commercial videoconference.  6:25:38 PM  permalink  

802.11b/g Signal Booster: Interesting - $120 for a small replacement antenna that puts out 500 mw instead of the 30 - 200 mw typical.   10:12:23 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, August 25, 2004


EFF: Best Practices for Online Service Providers: "In this paper, EFF offers some suggestions, both legal and technical, for best practices that balance the needs of OSPs and their users' privacy and civil liberties. "  4:52:21 PM  permalink  

GooFresh: Nifty little form for searching recent contents in Goggle.  Shows how use call from your own site's form.  I wish someone had javascript code so a browser could do the julian time conversion rather than relying on the script on ResearchBuzz's site.  4:35:03 PM  permalink  

Josh Marshall writes on Bush and moral cowardice:  It was "moral cowardice that led him to support the Vietnam war but decide it wasn't for him, run companies into the ground and let others pay the bill, play gutter politics but run for the hills when someone asks him to say it to their face, those are the same qualities that led the president to lie the country into war, fail to prepare for the aftermath and then refuse to take responsibility for any of it when the bill started to come due. That's the argument John Kerry needs to be making"  1:04:11 PM  permalink  

Do You Hear What I Hear?: Nice summary of the Bush campaign distortions of Kerry's statements.   Josh Marshall shows how this runs in the family, in the Bush 41 campaigns, where George Will wrote: "Soon Bill Clinton will have to say to Bush what Dole publicly said to Bush in 1988: "Stop lying about my record.""  1:02:18 PM  permalink  

70% of virus activity due to one hacker: "A report published by Sophos, a world leader in protecting businesses against viruses and spam, has revealed that 70% of virus activity in the first half of 2004 can be linked to a German teenager.

Sven Jaschan, 18, is the self-confessed author of the Netsky and Sasser worms which hit internet users hard in the first six months of the year.  Just two of Jaschan's viruses, the infamous Sasser worm and Netsky-P, account for almost 50% of all virus activity seen by Sophos up until the end of June. Counting Jaschan's other released variants of the Netsky worm, the total figure accounts for over 70%.

"For a single German teenager to have such an impact on computer security is simply staggering," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "If one of Jaschan's friends had not informed Microsoft about his identity then the situation may have been even worse."  .. his viruses continue to infect computer users and have an impact. .. "However, because Jaschan was under 18 at the time he released the viruses it's possible he will escape a stiff sentence if found guilty."

The Sasser worm hit home computer users and companies worldwide, including the South African government, Taiwan's national post office, and the UK's coastguard service. "

  9:13:16 AM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Economist on Prahalad:  Good short review.  "To be profitable, firms cannot simply edge down market fine-tuning the products they already sell to rich customers. Instead, they must thoroughly re-engineer products to reflect the very different economics of BOP [the bottom of the pyramid]: small unit packages, low margin per unit, high volume. Big business needs to swap its usual incremental approach for an entrepreneurial mindset, because BOP markets need to be built not simply entered. Products will have to be made available in affordable units -- most sales of shampoo in India, for example, are of single sachets. Distribution networks may need to be rethought, not least to involve entrepreneurs from among the poor. Customers may need to be educated in how to consume, and even why -- about credit, say, or even about the benefits of washed hands. The corruption now widespread in poor countries must be tackled (about which Mr Prahalad has penned a particularly useful chapter). "  2:36:42 PM  permalink  

Sophos 'Dirty Dozen' Spam Producing Countries: Sophos, a virus/spam filtering company, says its research shows the top twelve spam producing countries are:

     1.  United States            42.53%
     2.  South Korea              15.42%
     3.  China (& Hong Kong)      11.62%
     4.  Brazil                   6.17%
     5.  Canada                   2.91%
     6.  Japan                    2.87%
     7.  Germany                  1.28%
     8.  France                   1.24%
     9.  Spain                    1.16%
     10. United Kingdom           1.15%
     11. Mexico                   0.98%
     12. Taiwan                   0.91%

         Others                   11.76%

And, "Zombie computers -- PCs that have been compromised by hackers or virus writers -- are sending out approximately 40% of the world's spam, and many users who fall victim are unaware."

  2:25:27 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, August 23, 2004


The SoftGrid Platform: Interesting approach to application virtualization.  Oriented to delivering Windows apps to desktops or to terminal servers by monitoring their use of Windows resources (e.g., DLLs, registry keys, files, etc).  In latest release, application elements can be delivered offline in advance of use to minimize bandwidth requirements.  Has just been certified for use with MS Virtual Server 2005.  10:39:55 AM  permalink  

Fundrace.org: Search tool to find out information your neighbors' names, addresses, and occupations, and which presidential candidate they're giving money to.  Amazing, and a bit frightening.  9:06:23 AM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, August 22, 2004


Handy Backup "is an easy-to-use program designed for an automatic backup of your critical data virtually to any type of storage media including CD-RW devices and remote FTP servers. You can use Handy Backup to make a reserve copy of any valuable data on your system. Special addons are provided to facilitate the backup of MS Outlook, system registry and ICQ files. Restoring is as easy as clicking a button, but you can also use a number of advanced options. The program can be also used to synchronize files between two computers on a network."  $30 one-time purchase.  11:36:38 PM  permalink  

People Should Have Been Fired: ""Intelligence reform without accountability will not achieve the objective we all share -- that is avoiding the clearly avoidable tragedy of Sept. 11 and the equally avoidable tragedy of a botched assessment of Iraq's (weapons of mass destruction) capabilities," Dr. David Kay told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence." .. He said that the most frustrating moment of his failed hunt for stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was when he learned that the nuclear analysts were to get larger performance bonuses than the chemical-biological analysts, even though the nuclear conclusion -- that Iraq had reconstituted its atomic weapons program -- had turned out to be even more drastically wrong.

Kay said that the record of the nuclear analysis was one of "abuse of authority, a failure to use expertise."  "There is nothing in that record that ... deserves a performance bonus. Nor in fact, quite frankly, was there much that deserved a performance bonus in the chemical and biological area.  "Instead of holding people responsible," he concluded, "we reward them for failure."

Former Iraq Arms Inspector Faults Prewar Intelligence:  In uncharacteristically caustic remarks about his former colleagues,.. Dr. Kay suggested that the president had come to depend too heavily on information supplied by Ms. Rice, Mr. Bush's national security adviser, and that the president needed to reach out to others for national security information.

"Every president who has been successful, at least that I know of, in the history of this republic, has developed both informal and formal means of getting checks on whether people who tell him things are in fact telling him the whole truth," Dr. Kay told the Senate intelligence committee at a hearing called to discuss the findings of the Sept. 11 commission.

"I think this is particularly crucial and difficult to do in the intelligence area,'' he continued. "The recent history has been a reliance on the N.S.C. system to do it. I quite frankly think that has not served this president very well."  Dr. Kay added: "The dog that did not bark in the case of Iraq's W.M.D. weapons program, quite frankly, in my view, is the National Security Council." ..

"Where was the National Security Council when, apparently, the president expressed his own doubt about the adequacy of the case concerning Iraq's W.M.D. weapons that was made before him?" Dr. Kay asked.

"Why was the secretary of state sent to the C.I.A. to personally vet the data that he was to take the Security Council in New York, and ultimately left to hang in the wind for data that was misleading and, in some cases, absolutely false and known by parts of the intelligence community to be false?" he continued. "Where was the N.S.C. then?"

  11:34:27 PM  permalink  

Quite a gap (in Ohio at least): "In a survey last week by the University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) led Bush among likely voters 48 to 46 percent, with independent Ralph Nader garnering 1 percent. A Gallup poll in Ohio also showed a two-point spread favoring Kerry, but when the pool of respondents was expanded to include all registered voters, not just people who voted last time, Kerry was ahead by 10 points. "  10:37:20 PM  permalink  

More on the Kerry Iraq vote:  The comments to this entry have a good suggestion: "

To win the political argument with the American people, Kerry must talk to them in simple, everyday terms using an example:  “When my children became teenagers of driving age, they understood clearly that when I authorized them to use the family vehicle, I was not condoning ignoring the rules of the road, mistreating other drivers, or other kinds of counterproductive and dangerous behavior. Similarly, when those of us in the Senate authorized the President to go to war if the nation needed to do so as a last resort, we were not authorizing him to shut down the inspections process, ignore the sound advice of our allies, rush to war with too few troops, and fail to plan for securing the peace.

Just as my son or daughter would have been responsible for a failure to obey the rules of the road in a family vehicle, and reponsible for any consequences as well, the president is responsible for abusing the authorization given to him by Congress. Those in Congress like myself who, rather than undermine the president with a no vote and potentially tie his hands, gave him the authorization to go to war are not responsible for the President’s mistakes. He alone is responsible.”"

  10:13:59 PM  permalink  

Iraqi Shiite divisions: Interesting dissection of the generational and class divisions among Iraqi Shiites, and the role of nationalism and the legacy of Ayatollah Khomeini.  8:04:22 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, August 20, 2004


Astroturf, local edition:  Nice summary of Bush campaign tactics:  "In a nutshell, the Bush campaign: you can come hear us speak only if you already agree with us (and sign an oath of loyalty). We’ll tell you what to say to others (but let you pretend you said it on your own). And we’ll distort what others say if it helps our cause.

Think that’s what the framers had in mind when they drafted the First Amendment?"

  8:25:26 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, August 19, 2004


Visual Mining of E-Customer Behavior Using Pixel Bar Charts : Nifty visualization technique for seeing multidimensional relationships in large data sets.  (from Future Now)  10:47:14 PM  permalink  

Network Monitoring Tools:  Extensive collection both commercial and free tools, maintained by SLAC.  4:54:27 PM  permalink  

NIST Net: "The NIST Net network emulator is a general-purpose tool for emulating performance dynamics in IP networks. The tool is designed to allow controlled, reproducible experiments with network performance sensitive/adaptive applications and control protocols in a simple laboratory setting. By operating at the IP level, NIST Net can emulate the critical end-to-end performance characteristics imposed by various wide area network situations (e.g., congestion loss) or by various underlying subnetwork technologies (e.g., asymmetric bandwidth situations of xDSL and cable modems). 

NIST Net is implemented as a kernel module extension to Linux .. In use, the tool allows an inexpensive PC-based router to emulate numerous complex performance scenarios, including: tunable packet delay distributions, congestion and background loss, bandwidth limitation, and packet reordering / duplication. " Last modification 2002.

  4:31:17 PM  permalink  

The Network Simulator - ns-2: "Ns is a discrete event simulator targeted at networking research. Ns provides substantial support for simulation of TCP, routing, and multicast protocols over wired and wireless (local and satellite) networks. "  It supports Network Emulation, "The simulator acts like a router allowing real-world traffic to be passed through without being manipulated. The ns packet contain a pointer to the network packet. Network packets may be dropped, delayed, re-ordered or duplicated by the simulator. Opaque mode is useful in evaluating the behavior of real-world implementations when subjected to adverse network conditions that are not protocol specific."  Tutorial available.  4:26:50 PM  permalink  

Troubleshooting common problems in Microsoft Virtual PC 2004.  Long webcast transcript, several useful nuggets for Virtual PC users.  10:49:52 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Streamlining Software Testing with IBM Rational and VMware Test Lab Automation: "Software test teams that have deployed Rational TestManager to improve productivity are still challenged by the difficulty and expense of testing in multiple system configurations. Testing on all necessary combinations of hardware, operating systems and installed software normally requires labor-intensive setups on many dedicated test machines. The only alternative has been a large investment in banks of test machines. VMware virtual machines vastly simplify configuration management and eliminate the need for a physical machine .. IBM Rational and VMware have jointly developed the IBM Rational and VMware Test Lab Automation Solution to address the challenges of configuration testing. "  11:03:40 PM  permalink  

Nepal in turmoil: "19 August 2004 - Threats from Maoist rebels in Nepal brought business in the Himalayan kingdom to a halt yesterday, as traffic blockades kept supplies from the capital, Kathmandu. There is only about 10 weeks' worth of food in the city, and many travellers are stranded. Army convoys escorted the few vehicles that ventured on the country's two main highways. The roads to the temple-studded tourist hub of Kathmandu, ringed by lush, green hills, were nearly empty because the rebels said they would enforce the first blockade of the capital. In Kathmandu, the management of the Soaltee Crowne Plaza hotel, which defied rebel orders to close on Monday, capitulated and shut after the building was rocked by four blasts. No guests were injured."  10:02:31 PM  permalink  

Crypto researchers discover flaws: "MD5's flaws that have been identified in the past few days mean that an attacker can generate one hash collision in a few hours on a standard PC. To write a specific back door and cloak it with the same hash collision may be much more time intensive.   Still, Hughes said that programmers should start moving away from MD5. "Right now the algorithm has been shown to be weak," he said. "Before useful (attacks) can be done, it's time to migrate away from it." "  SHA-1 still looks good, but there are new approaches suggested toward cracking it. 

Technology Review: Fingerprinting Your Files has a c lear and simple explanation of MD5 and SHA-1 hash functions, and how they can be used in applications, system security, and compression.

  10:01:10 PM  permalink  

Fortune Magazine Backs Renewable Energy: "The cost of the plan is modest, about $7 billion to $9 billion per year, much of which can be offset by eliminating current subsidies and giveaways.  "Will it be enough to kick our longtime oil addiction?," asks [editor] Varchaver. "Of course not. Even a far more radical plan is not going to solve this problem in ten years. Progress will be incremental and will take decades. But with the hole we have to climb out of getting deeper every day we wait, this plan at least promises what we need right now--a good start."

Fortune's plan consists of four approaches:

1. Improving fuel economy. Hybrids... [and] drop the exemption that allows SUVs to be considered light trucks instead of passenger vehicles.

2. More spending on alternative fuels. Fortune estimates that a $3.5-billion-a-year investment in two key areas.. [hydrogen fuel cells, and] biomass fuel called cellulosic ethanol, which can be blended into gasoline with minimal modifications to current engines and gas stations.

3. Redoubled commitment to efficiency. ..

4. Getting serious about solar and wind. ..

For Fortune's plan to work, the government will have to do its part; when it comes to transformation on this scale, Washington needs to jump-start the process. Still, In Fortune's plan, government intervention would be modest.. "That 20 percent [cut] might sound like a modest figure," concludes Varchaver. "But that percentage turns out to be more than the portion of our imports that come from the Persian Gulf. If we do nothing, you can be sure Americans will pay more than just the price at the pump."  9:54:26 PM  permalink  

Bruce Sterling SIGGRAPH 2004 speech "When Blobjects Rule the Earth":  Fastastic speech connecting memes from all over (open production, new media, sci fi, cluetrain, sustainability) into a new techno vision.  An update of Bucky Fuller, maybe an "As We May Think" for this generation.  Too much to summarize, I'll quote just a few bits that stuck out for me. 

"We are facing a future world infested with digital programmability. A world where our structures and possessions include, as a matter of course, locaters, timers, identities, histories, origins, and destinations: sensing, logic, actuation, and displays. ..

[There were products, then gizmos, now spimes] A spime is a users group first, and a physical object second.. A Spime is today's entire industrial process, made explicit. That is the whole shebang, explicitly tied to the object itself. A Spime is an object that ate and internalized the previous industrial order. Some of this information might be contained inside the Spime, and some of it might be conjured up on the Web by, say, a barcode or an RFID chip -- but in practice, you wouldn't notice the difference ..

The natural world should be better for our efforts and our ingenuity. It's not too much to ask.  You and I will never live to see a future world with those advanced characteristics. The people who will be living in it will pretty much take it for granted, anyway. But that is a worthy vision for today's technologists: because that is wise governance for a digitally conquered world. That is is not tyranny. That is legitimacy. ..

The question we must face is: what do we want? We should want to abandon that which has no future. We should blow right through mere sustainability. We should desire a world of enhancement. That is what should come next. We don't need more dead clutter to entomb in landfills. We should want to expand the options of those who will follow us."

  7:40:06 AM  permalink  

Streamripper: "an Open Source (GPL) application that lets you record streaming mp3 to your hard drive."  It divides the mp3 webcast into separate files for each song.  Instructions online.  6:59:57 AM  permalink  

New Cooperation and New Tensions in Terrorist Hunt:  NYT reporters now say it was Pakistani, not US, sources that outed Khan as an agent.  "The release of Mr. Khan's name - it was made public in The New York Times on Aug. 2, citing Pakistani intelligence sources - drew criticism by some politicians, like Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who charged that this leak might have compromised the search in Britain and Pakistan for Mr. Khan's Qaeda partners. (No officials in Britain, Pakistan or the United States have told The Times on the record that identifying Mr. Khan had such an impact)."  Juan Cole maintains it did have an impact, and that the root cause was the administrations media efforts using Khan's information.  6:48:53 AM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Screenshot from Food Force WFP creates game to tackle hunger: "Food Force is the brainchild of the World Food Programme (WFP), which last year fed more than 100 million people.  The UN body seeks to capitalise on the popularity of video games to educate youngsters about hunger and the work of the aid agency. The game is due to be released later this year for the PC and Mac, and will initially only be available in the US as a free CD or download from the net. ..

"The game itself is somewhere between a game like Tomb Raider and a lecture from the WFP," explained the game's designer, Mike Harrison. "It starts with a short movie that explains a crisis in an imaginary country due to drought and civil war, two of the main reasons for people being hungry in the world," .. The challenge for players is to complete a series of missions, guided by a team of WFP characters...One of the missions is a Sim City type game "

  10:22:28 PM  permalink  

Wireless Sensors: How Not to Replace 1000 Batteries: Nice brief review of long-lived power sources for sensors, including

  • printed batteries (e.g., Power Paper);
  • extended shelf-life mini-batteries with a nanomaterial called "nanograss;"
  • a nuclear-powered battery that uses a speck of nickel-63 and a tiny cantilever of piezoelectric material (nickel-63 has a half-life of around 100 years)
  • indoor lighting photovoltaics microbattery
  • "strain energy harvesting" using the stretching of piezoelectric fibers
  10:07:42 PM  permalink  

Groove and other P2P hassles with XP SP2: Service pack 2 limits bandwidth for users with multiple simutaneous outbound connections.  When running a P2P package like Groove, all network applicaitons slow way down.  No resolution is posted yet.   3:59:36 PM  permalink  

m0n0wall: "m0n0wall is a project aimed at creating a complete, embedded firewall software package that, when used together with an embedded PC, provides all the important features of commercial firewall boxes (including ease of use) at a fraction of the price (free software). m0n0wall is based on a bare-bones version of FreeBSD, along with a web server, PHP and a few other utilities. The entire system configuration is stored in one single XML text file to keep things transparent. m0n0wall is probably the first UNIX system that has its boot-time configuration done with PHP, rather than the usual shell scripts, and that has the entire system configuration stored in XML format."  3:52:28 PM  permalink  

What ist fli4l?: "Fli4l is a single floppy Linux-based ISDN, DSL and Ethernet-Router. You can build it from an old 486 based pc with 16 megabyte memory, which is more than adequate for this purpose.  The necessary boot-disk can be built under Unix, Linux or Windows."  3:49:54 PM  permalink  

Enhancing Rollback by Using Virtual Machines: Many tips on using Virtual PC, including how to convert physical to virtual machines by hand.  (Comment:  one techie here says it may be more typical to "run a repair installation" rather than do his method for cleaning up drivers after a migration.)  Here's a similar document on conversion under VMware.  3:21:47 PM  permalink  

slayeroffice - web experiments gone horribly awry:  Neat collection of browser coding tricks, with how-to explanations.  Nice tool:  A suite of favelets.  11:39:22 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, August 16, 2004


Voting machine flaw caught by paper trail:  "a Sequoia electronic voting machine suffered a very public failure last week during a live demo. The machine worked fine with an English-language ballot, but failed to record votes with the Spanish-language ballot. The mistake was detected because the machine produced a voter-verifiable paper print-out:

"We did it again and the same thing happened," said Darren Chesin, a consultant to the state Senate elections and reapportionment committee. "The problem was not with the paper trail. The paper trail worked flawlessly, but it caught a mistake in the programming of the touch-screen machine itself. For some reason it would not record or display the votes on the Spanish ballot for these two ballot measures. The only reason we even caught it was because we were looking at the paper trail to verify it."

Not surprisingly, Sequoia is downplaying the incident, asserting that it was a ballot design issue, not a programming issue. "It was our fault for not proofing the Spanish language ballot before demonstrating it," said spokesman Alfie Charles. "  Sorry, that's not reassuring...  8:13:00 PM  permalink  

The Wisdom of Crowds: A popular new book sheds light on the earlier post about Open Production.  The publisher's notes provides an outline; the Amazon reader's comments are interesting, not least in noting examples (like intelligence failures -- reminding me of the movement to open source intelligence).  "While our culture generally trusts experts and distrusts the wisdom of the masses, Surowiecki argues that "under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them." To support this almost counterintuitive proposition, Surowiecki explores problems involving cognition (we're all trying to identify a correct answer), coordination (we need to synchronize our individual activities with others) and cooperation (we have to act together despite our self-interest). His rubric, then, covers a range of problems, including driving in traffic, competing on TV game shows, maximizing stock market performance, voting for political candidates, navigating busy sidewalks, tracking SARS and designing Internet search engines like Google. If four basic conditions are met, a crowd's "collective intelligence" will produce better outcomes than a small group of experts, Surowiecki says, even if members of the crowd don't know all the facts or choose, individually, to act irrationally. "Wise crowds" need (1) diversity of opinion; (2) independence of members from one another; (3) decentralization; and (4) a good method for aggregating opinions. The diversity brings in different information; independence keeps people from being swayed by a single opinion leader; people's errors balance each other out; and including all opinions guarantees that the results are "smarter" than if a single expert had been in charge."  5:18:54 PM  permalink  

The Cgnet Story: A Case Study of International Computer Networking: How cool: Our 1994 book is actively traded on second-hand book sites.  Under $6...  7:37:40 AM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, August 15, 2004


Open production:  I talked with Brewster Kahle briefly in 2001, and got the idea that the degree of collaboration is a spectrum.  At one end is the conventional commitment to play a role in a team; at the other is the incidental activity that leaves a trace that can be datamined in an implicit collaboration.  At the implicit end, we see Google mining the links I make as though I were collaborating with all other web authors; and Amazon mines my purchases and makes recommendations on my behalf to similar buyers.  Howard Rheingold sees this as part of a broader pattern, and ends up sounding like Buckminster Fuller:

Besides Google and Amazon, "there's open source [software]. Steve Weber, a political economist at UC Berkeley, sees open source as an economic means of production that turns the free-rider problem to its advantage. All the people who use the resource but don't contribute to it just build up a larger user base. And if a very tiny percentage of them do anything at all -- like report a bug -- then those free riders suddenly become an asset.

And maybe this isn't just in software production. .. The dogma is that the two major means of organizing for economic production are the market and the firm. But [Yale law professor] Yochai Benkler uses open source as an example of peer-to-peer production, which he thinks may be pointing toward a third means of organizing for production.

There's also Wikipedia [the online encyclopedia written by volunteers]. It has 500,000 articles in 50 languages at virtually no cost, vs. Encyclopedia Britannica spending millions of dollars and they have 50,000 articles. ..  [Rheingold also mentions unliscenced wireless "open" spectrum] ..

If I was a Nokia or a Hewlett-Packard, I would take a fraction of what I'm spending on those buildings full of expensive people and give out a whole bunch of prototypes to a whole bunch of 15-year-olds and have contracts with them where you can observe their behavior in an ethical way and enable them to suggest innovations, and give them some reasonable small reward for that. And once in a while, you're going to make a billion dollars off it."

  11:44:56 PM  permalink  

Social networking sites: a postmortem: One articulate users' decision to abandon social network sites, as "officially useless to me.. [Their] messaging functionality offers nothing but an extra spam channel .. What this indicates to me, incidentally, is something wonderful: that people are so manifold and multiple that the mere fact of friendship with someone is a remarkably poor predictor of affinity for that person's own friends. At least the people I seem to know. Walt Whitman would be delighted"  10:15:35 PM  permalink  

3D Holograms Detect Fake Signatures: Scanning handwritten text with lasers can measure the 3D structure of the writing.  From that it's possible to infer the pressure and direction of the writing.  With those attributes, identification of the author is much better than 2D analysis, approaching 100%.  Ancient manuscripts could be easier to identify; and maybe there's new life in the signature as a biometric ID?  [Thanks again Roland!  I'm catching up on a whole summer's worth of your excellent work!]  10:08:12 PM  permalink  

RFID in Japanese Restaurants: Finally, RFID in the sushi bar -- I've been talking about this for 2 years, finally RFID has gotten practical:  At a Tokyo restaurant, under each sushi plate "was a small square shaped bump, barely visible under blue lacquer. It was an RFID chip implanted in the plate. Different chips for different prices. Cool. The tallying up of over 18 plates literally took less than 5 seconds. "  9:49:54 PM  permalink  

Protégé-2000: Intesting interactive Java-based data modelling tool for capturing ontologies.  Good online demo of a newspaper.  2:14:12 PM  permalink  

UNV Online Volunteering: UN Volunteers has an online program:  "Volunteers from all over the world are helping organizations that serve communities in developing countries -- but without leaving their own communities. These online volunteers translate documents, write articles, research data, build web sites, mentor young people, design logos, and engage in many other projects to benefit organizations serving people in the developing world. Online volunteers are volunteers without frontiers."  2:11:32 PM  permalink  

Microsoft OS for third world: "Microsoft is set to roll-out a 'no-frills', low-cost version of its Windows XP operating system for third world markets.   The new OS, Windows XP Starter Edition, offers lower-resolution graphics and restricts the ability to connect computers via a network. Also, the OS can only run three programmes at any one time.   The stripped-down edition of the operating system is an attempt to undercut the spread of Linux in developing countries.

Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and 2 other countries are in the rollout.  "As part of the program, certain schools in 67 developing nations can qualify for free upgrades to the regular Windows software and for copies of Microsoft Office that cost $2.50. " 

Gartner released a report on it, approving the concept, but criticizing certain limitations and the lack of an upgrade path to the full XP editions.  "Microsoft would continue to gather feedback from consumers over the next 12 months." 

  2:02:26 PM  permalink  

Kokopelli Seed Foundation for organic seeds. "Preserving biodiversity in heritage crops"  1:59:34 PM  permalink  

Who are the neocons: Another excellent essay by Steve Clemons on politics within the Bush admin and its effects on foreign policy.  The commentary from other readers is worth a visit -- here's  a choice bit:  "I believe that many of the decisions [Bush] made President have turned out badly for the same reason he made bad decisions as a businessman: he's never been confronted with the consequences of failure. Every time he failed in business, family friends bailed him out, and he suffered no real setbacks. In politics, friends are still bailing him out: the excellent RNC PR apparatus is in high gear. As a result, the President seems to have developed the bad habit of making decisions based on instinct rather than careful analysis."  The commenter makes a good analogy to VC's Tim Draper and Jeff Osborn.  1:50:28 PM  permalink  

Juan cole on clans: "I think the Americans are gradually incurring feuds with all the major clans of Iraq, and this is undesirable. Americans are individualists, and don't understand clan societies. How many Americans are close enough to their cousins even to ask one for a loan? But many Iraqis would risk their lives to protect or avenge a cousin.

Ernest Gellner argued that it is industrialization that breaks up the clans. If you have factories all over the place, going in and out of business, then individuals are pulled away to them by the work opportunities. Clans and clan solidarity depend on people staying put, either on farms in villages, or in close-knit urban neighborhoods. Iraq's industrialization never proceeded far enough to really break up the clans, and many have emigrated jointly to city neighborhoods, keeping their ties even in an urban environment."  I think this applies to many pre-industrial societies, not just those in the Arab world. 

"If you want a stark visual account of what is going on in Najaf, look at the pictures at Karbala News.net. The pictures of people walking or marching show Shiites hurrying to Najaf in hopes of forming a human shield around Muqtada. Most are self-explanatory. Mostly these kinds of images are absent from US mass media reports"  1:36:00 PM  permalink  

Bluetooth phones are hackable:  Recent tests have expanded the list of issues. "Adam Laurie of A.L. Digital Ltd. discovered that there are serious flaws in the authentication and/or data transfer mechanisms on some bluetooth enabled devices. .. Confidential data can be obtained, anonymously, and without the owner's knowledge or consent, from some bluetooth enabled mobile phones. This data includes, at least, the entire phonebook and calendar, and the phone's IMEI. .. Access can be gained to the AT command set of the device, giving full access to the higher level commands and channels, such as data, voice and messaging. " Dozens of models are affected.  Combined with new long range antennas, many demonstrations have been done with hundreds of phonebooks harvested, calls made remotely (allowing listening in conversations at a distance), and messages sent impersonating the owner of the phone.  The likely fix will be to reduce the time the devices keep Bluetooth open.

  9:49:13 AM  permalink  

Goatse at Defcon: Nasty wifi attack demonstration (with hilarious and disgusting images). A program running on a machine with 2 wifi nic's can inject responses to HTTP (browser) requests, thus impersonating web sites.  New vector for phishing?  Linked from Bruce Schneier.  8:59:47 AM  permalink  

(Almost) Instant Cash Transfer with Mobile Phones: "last week Philippines' largest mobile phone company, Smart Communications, launched a cash transfer service that uses text messaging to speed up the process. Overseas workers still have to go to the bank to initiate the transfer, but the recipients in the Philippines get a text message on their phone notifying them that they have immediate access to the cash, which is stored in their phone's "electronic wallet," a feature included in all 16 million Smart Communications subscribersâ019 accounts. The recipients can then use their Smart Money debit cards to withdraw the cash from ATMs. An International Herald Tribune article on this story has some interesting details about why this could be a very successful service: Eight million Filipinos work overseas and send $7.6 billion dollars home every year. The average income of a Filipino is under $1000 a year. Nevertheless, 30 percent of the country's 84 million residents have a mobile phone. Most people use SMS because it is much cheaper than making voice calls. All this adds up to a potentially huge income opportunity for Smart Communications, which is charging about 4.5 cents per transaction"  7:59:58 AM  permalink  

Computer Couture: Nifty review of electronics in clothing, like wearable displays, fabrics that change color, and medical or other sensors.  7:51:16 AM  permalink  

The Wireless Robotic Gas Worker: Neat - a wireless snake-shaped robot that surveys pipes for damage and leaks.  A useful starting point for other out of the way inspection devices.  12:24:27 AM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, August 14, 2004


Tidal Flow To Power New York City: Excellent summary of tidal flow power from Roland Piquepaille.  The lead story is about a NY installation:  "Verdant Power, an energy company based in Arlington, Virginia, plans to plunge six electricity turbines into the East River. If the $4.5-million project is successful, the generators will form the first farm of tide-powered turbines in the world. The plan is to attach the machines, which look like small wind turbines, to concrete piles hammered into the bedrock nine metres below the river's surface. As the tide surges in and out, the heads pivot to face the current and the blades spin."  11:44:59 PM  permalink  

Kerry's education reform: merit pay for teachers: "The candidate proposed a "new bargain"--a $30 billion, 10-year plan of federal grants which would allow districts to raise the pay of teachers whose students consistently test above average, while at the same time making it easier for schools to fire bad teachers."  The article cites research in support.  11:14:46 PM  permalink  

Pro-Resolution, Not Pro-War:  On Kerry and his vote for the Iraq war resolution.  First, Kerry's statement made on the day he cast his vote: "Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm him by force, if we ever exhaust those other options, as the President has promised, but I will not support a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq unless that threat is imminent and the multilateral effort has not proven possible under any circumstances."  The commentator concludes "In reality, Bush flip-flopped. He said the war was about WMD and both he and Powell assured congress the WMD threat was the only thing necessitating the resolution to authorize force in Iraq. Now Bush admits that was a lie. He'd have gone to war anyway.." 

More on this from Kevin Drum, quoting first from another source: "Edwards says if Kerry had been president, we would have found out Iraq had no WMD, and "we would never be in this place." Kerry emphatically agrees with this translation. "  And concluding:  You can decide for yourself whether you like this position, but it's not hard to grasp. That's especially true for the press, since they know very well that there are lots and lots of liberal hawks and other former war supporters who have exactly the same position: pressuring Saddam was good, inspections were good, and eventually war might have been good too.  But Bush blew it: he failed to rally world opinion, he failed to get the Arab world on our side, he failed to let the inspections process run its course, and he failed to plan properly for the postwar occupation. The result is a loss of American power and prestige, a diminished chance of Iraq becoming a pluralistic democracy, and an al-Qaeda that's been given a second lease on life thanks to George Bush's Queeg-like obsession with Saddam Hussein."

And an analogy from Josh Marshall:  "in most cases, when a batter steps up to the plate, he doesn't decide whether he's going to swing until he sees the pitch. Only an idiot decides in advance not knowing what he's going to face. And yet this is roughly what the Bush camp says was the only reasonable, or I suppose manly, approach to the Iraq war.

I see the war decision in very similar terms to this baseball analogy. Voting for the war resolution was not remotely the same thing as going to war at the first possible opportunity.  Forcing inspections meant seeing what inspections would yield. And seeing what inspections would yield was the best insurance against getting ourselves into the current situation and finding that the WMD, which constituted the premise for the whole endeavor, didn't even exist.

To extend our baseball analogy, Bush went to the plate knowing he was going to swing at whatever pitch he got."

  10:56:27 PM  permalink  

NeroSoft TimeTrax: "TimeTrax is an application for the XM Satellite Radio XM PCR PC-based radio. This radio, available for under $50, plugs into a USB port on your PC and lets you tune into over 120 digital audio satellite channels, featuring music, talk, comedy and news.  Using TimeTrax, you can now record directly from your XM PCR radio onto your PC's hard drive in WAV or MP3 format." Software automatically breaks songs into separate MP3 files and collects metadata (artist, title, etc).  Can be scheduled to retain all songs by an artist, for example.  Software free (registered for $20), hardware $50, service $7/mo.  8:31:09 AM  permalink  

Al Queda on course:  Brief comment on their objectives now.  8:21:37 AM  permalink  

Dan Gillmor: Nice summary of the idea in his book, We the Media: "There are various ways to "make the news," but they're starting to blend. In the traditional sense it works this way: You can make news by doing something extraordinary (or ordinary, if you're a celebrity or politician), or by doing something evil or especially good. PR and marketing people help. We in the journalism business make the news every day, every hour, by reporting what we learn; newspapers are, in part, a manufacturing business. And "consumers" of news can make their own news reports by sifting through the growing variety of information now available to them.

Now, all of those news constituencies are starting to bleed into each other. The former audience is joining the journalism process, as is the Newsmaker who talks over our heads to the audience more directly via blogs and other new tools. The journalist has to pay much closer attention to it all, and must listen as much as lecture."

  8:01:19 AM  permalink  

Habitat Chronicles: You can't tell people anything: How do you explain what you can't demonstrate?  "When people ask me about my life's ambitions, I often joke that my goal is to become independently wealthy so that I can afford to get some work done. Mainly that's about being able to do things without having to explain them first, so that the finished product can be the explanation. I think this will be a major labor saving improvement."  12:57:27 AM  permalink  

Shirky: The Possibility of Spectrum As A Public Good: Very readible and clear explanation of the open spectrum position.  12:31:11 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, August 13, 2004


What may be the beginnings of a civil war among neoconservatives: Tight reading of an interesting article, "THE NEOCONSERVATIVE MOMENT" by Francis Fukuyama, with related material.  Interesting both for the internal dynamics and intellectual failure of the neocons, and the tensions with the "traditional realists like Brent Scowcroft, nationalist-isolationists like Patrick Buchanan, or liberal internationalists like John Kerry".

  11:30:01 PM  permalink  

Transparency Begets Trust in the Ever-Expanding Blogosphere:  Why are blogs good reading?  "A survey of 10,000 blog readers earlier this year conducted by Blogads found that 61 percent of respondents found blogs to be "more honest" than other media outlets. .. [Technorati exec] Hodder gives four reasons for trusting bloggers over general-assignment reporters:

  •  Niche expertise. Newspapers try to cover the whole world, while bloggers can be experts with a deep knowledge about a topic like open-source software or micro-biology.
  • Transparency in motives. Bloggers are upfront about their biases and subjective approach.. . Most journalists are constrained by an institutional objectivity. "I often read a reporter's story and wonder, what's their experience? Where are they coming from? What's the context? What do they really think?" Hodder says.
  • Transparency in process. Bloggers link to documents, sources and supporting evidence to buttress their own authority.
  • Forthrightness about mistakes. When bloggers err, the credible ones publish a mea culpa and take responsibility, with the corrected information alongside their original posting. Not so with newspapers, whose front-page mistakes are corrected in an inside page, or broadcast news, where mistakes are almost never acknowledged.

Hodder posted a chart of the most-frequently-referenced news sources and blogs, about 2/3 mainstream (NYT, Guardian) and 1/3 bloggers.

  7:57:58 PM  permalink  

Wash Post apologizes:  "Another major publication (this time the Washington Post) has come forward to indicate that they should have been more aggressive in covering the question marks surrounding the WMD stories during the build-up to the Iraq war. Not only were they soft in their coverage of the administration's view of things. They also buried some stories that called the WMD charges into question.

Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. explains: "We were so focused on trying to figure out what the administration was doing that we were not giving the same play to people who said it wouldn't be a good idea to go to war and were questioning the administration's rationale. Not enough of those stories were put on the front page. That was a mistake on my part."

Of course, that in many ways is the nature of today's front page and cable news. All the heavy hitting is saved for the front page "news analysis" stories. Better to get to the bottom of the President's political strategy and motivations for saying or doing something than to actually see if what is being said is true. It is the nature of the beast in today's news culture. What do you know more about? The inside baseball strategies of the Bush and Kerry camps or the details about (and the holes in) the policies they push?"  12:33:01 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, August 12, 2004


The Technology Behind Bloglines: Nice list, from their FAQ.  "Bloglines proudly uses and supports the following open source software:   8:41:16 PM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, August 11, 2004


The Broken Promises of George W. Bush: Nice chart.  "President Bush made a lot of promises during his 2000 presidential campaign. The record shows it was all talk"  9:05:04 PM  permalink  

Walter Cronkite | Prisons needlessly overpopulated with drug offenders:  Cronkite's syndicated column argues for reform of the 'cruel' and 'failed' war on drugs.  He's also joined the Drug Policy Alliance Honorary Board to carry the message on.  3:40:14 PM  permalink  

World Bank rejects reforms in extractive industries:  "The World Bank group rejected moves towards phasing out investment in oil and coal mining, as recommended by its own extractive industries review, this week, despite releasing a statement saying that it "broadly agreed that it [the review] represented a balanced way forward for the Bank Group." .. The Bank is also seeking to scale up its activities in the renewable energy sector by 20% annually over the next five years, bringing investment to more than US$400 million per year. This target will also be reviewed on a regular basis. It compares to an estimated annual investment of US$3 billion in fossil fuels. "  The World Wildlife Fund and others criticized the move.  "WWF says the Bank is missing “a historic opportunity to show real leadership and help guide the developing world towards a truly sustainable and clean energy future.” It wants the Bank to allocate at least $800 million of its $3 billion annual energy budget to renewables and energy efficiency, and to increase that level by 20% a year over the next five years. " The WB spin (World Bank Accepts New Oil, Gas Lending Controls) emphasises the changes in banking rules they are adopting, which basically require more reporting on where the money goes.  Full text of EIR and supporting documents are online.

  12:06:38 PM  permalink  

NKZone: Interesting "blog zone" site, where people with info about North Korea can share their stories.  Includes links to published stories on events in NK from many sources, and a Bloglines public directory on NK info.  This could be a model for the "open source intelligence" community.  11:55:50 AM  permalink  

Low-income villages get renewables in the Philippines: Interesting model for low income energy projects, incorporating lessons from earlier efforts.  "Eight off-grid villages in the Negros Occidental region of the central Philippines will benefit from a grant of US$1.5 million to install renewable energy systems.  The ADB (Asian Development Bank) will provide the money from its Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, which is financed by the Japanese government. The project is the sixth JFPR project in the Philippines, which have included urban development projects for slum communities in Manila to livelihood projects for the rural poor in Mindanao.

This community-based project will set up solar, wind, biomass and micro hydro systems for 2,480 residents who depend on kerosene, batteries and candles for energy. One-third of the villagers live below the regional poverty threshold of 27¢ per day, and the project was approved because of its creation of livelihood opportunities..  To mobilize the participating communities, sitios or barangays will be organized into power associations and a funds collection mechanism will be set up to operate and maintain the renewable energy systems. 

A revolving fund will be established so lighting, tools and equipment can be installed and homes can connect to the green power systems. A second revolving fund will promote activities which consume the power, such as community-owned rice mills to increase rice production, ice plants for cold storage of fish products, purchase of small power tools and sewing machines for home-based work, and skills development and on-site training.  After the four-year assistance period ends, the project will be turned over to the communities to take responsibility for operating and maintaining the renewable energy systems ..

JFPR was launched in 2000 with an initial contribution of $90 million, followed by another contribution of $155 million and a commitment of $50 million. The fund supports projects that target the poor and take innovative approaches."

  11:20:50 AM  permalink  

Selsam Wind Energy: A New Type of Wind Turbine: Interesting multi-rotor design from a California inventor, using advanced carbon materials to utilize lower-speed wind resources.  Meanwhile, the State of California is offerering funds for development of lower-speed wind:  "Though California is recognized as the industry leader for total installed wind capacity at over 1,800 MW, the state ranks only 17th in terms of available high wind resource areas -- of class 5 and above .. Upon reviewing the most recent high-resolution resource maps for the state, it is evident that there are significantly more low wind speed resource areas (Class 3 to 4 at 10 m) than high wind resource areas."  11:17:27 AM  permalink  

Identifying Environmentally Preferable uses for Biomass Resources: A study of North American biomass resources and their comparative effects on greenhouse emissions.  Recommendations:

  1. If biomass is specifically grown to produce energy, avoid using low-yielding energy crops. Wheat, canola, or corn should not be used as energy crops, as they require considerable energy inputs in the form of fertilizer etc., take up prime farmland, and deliver small yields per hectare. Switchgrass or wood from short-rotation forestry (e.g., poplar or willow) should be used to produce energy.
  2. Use biomass waste and energy crops where they displace fuels with high carbon
    content. Combined heat and power, or the production of either biofuels or hydrogen are preferred over electricity-only options, since electricity production will usually replace relatively efficient natural gas burning.
  3. Landfilling and incineration are the best options to minimize GHG emissions from municipal solid waste. While landfilling with efficient gas collection is slightly preferred over incineration.  Composting is not recommended due to the considerable methane emissions from pockets of anaerobic activity.
  4. Do not produce biodiesel from virgin vegetable oils. Available land can be used more efficiently by growing other crops for energy purposes. However, waste oil and fat should be used to make either biodiesel, or a diesel additive.
  5. If the ultimate goal is to displace a maximum quantity of fossil fuels, combined heat and power systems are the preferable biomass use option. 
  10:34:10 AM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Nokia Lifeblog: Nokia's got the concept that's been around since the 80s Media Lab, of recording your life online -- using their all-singing all-dancing Nokia 7610, of course (has 1 mpixel camera, video, real and mp3 player, voice recorder, triband, bluetooth, smtp and pop3, games, java, etc.)  10:23:30 PM  permalink  

Pepys' Diary: 344 years ago in London, a public servant named Samuel Pepys wrote a daily diary, lasting about ten years, with a day to day view of what life was like then.  it's now being replayed as a blog, with annotations, and even an RSS feed.  Should make an interesting contrast to today's bloggers.  9:49:01 PM  permalink  

Main Page - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: I hadn't visited Wikipedia in a long time, and it's looking much nicer than I remember.  The Random page link is a nice touch.  1:44:53 PM  permalink  

MRTG applications:  Scott Lemon has a note with sample code of using MRTG as a data collection and graphing tool for non-SNMP data sources (like scraped web pages and SQL queries).  9:03:54 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, August 09, 2004


Scientists formulate intelligent glass that blocks heat not light: "Reporting in the Journal of Materials Chemistry, researchers reveal they have developed an intelligent window coating that ..reflects the sun's heat ..

While conventional tints block both heat and light the coating, which is made from a derivative of vanadium dioxide, allows visible wavelengths of light through at all times but reflects infrared light when temperature rise over 29 degrees Celsius. Wavelengths of light in this region of the spectrum cause heating so blocking infrared reduces unwanted rays from the sun.  The coating's ability to switch between absorbing and reflecting light means occupants benefit from the sun's heat in cooler conditions but when temperatures soar room heating is reduced by up to 50 per cent. ..

"Another consideration, is the colour of the coating. At present it's yellow/green, which really isn't attractive for windows. So we're now looking into colour suppression as a way round this." "

Besides space heating and cooling, I wonder if it would help for photovoltaic concentrating solar collectors, which use Fresnel lenses, mirror systems, or mirror troughs, to reduce the heat stress on the PV components.

  11:57:21 PM  permalink  

How to build homeland security:  An NYT "OpChart" showing how the first $144B in Iraq costs might have been spent on homeland security instead.  11:44:28 PM  permalink  

Foreign Affairs - The Neglected Home Front: Comprehensive review of what has not been done on homeland security, including tracking biomaterials, cleaning up nuclear materials, improving cargo inspection, securing infrastructure, equiping first responders.  Examples: "Although the CIA has concluded that the most likely way weapons of mass destruction (WMD) would enter the United States is by sea, the federal government is spending more every three days to finance the war in Iraq than it has provided over the past three years to prop up the security of all 361 U.S. commercial seaports. This myopic focus on conventional military forces at the expense of domestic security even extends to making the physical security at U.S. military bases a higher budget priority than protecting the nation's most critical infrastructure. In fiscal year 2005, Congress will give the Pentagon $7.6 billion to improve security at military bases. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security will receive just $2.6 billion to protect all the vital systems throughout the country that sustain a modern society."  11:35:00 PM  permalink  

e-business and development:  Information about several efforts in developing countries to use online catalogs and orders, information and travel services, and money transfers.  Includes links to appropriate technology suppliers in this area.  2:58:10 PM  permalink  

I've started to use bloglines.com for reading RSS feeds. I still use Radio to write my blog, but Bloglines to read blogs, news, Google alerts and email newsletters.)  It's got a lot of great features. For example, to see what I'm reading lately, check out http://www.bloglines.com/public/KenNovak .

  2:47:39 PM  permalink  

U.S. rapped for blowing spy's cover:  Condi Rice told reporters Khan's name and role, and blew the cover on a HUMINT resource.  "A captured Al Qaeda computer whiz was E-mailing his comrades as part of a sting operation to nab other top terrorists when U.S. officials blew his cover, sources said yesterday. Within hours of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan's name being publicized Monday, British police launched lightning raids that netted a dozen suspected Al Qaeda terrorists, including one who was nabbed after a high-speed car chase.  ..

Now British and Pakistani intelligence officials are furious with the Americans for unmasking their super spy - apparently to justify the orange alert - and for naming the other captured terrorist suspects.  Pakistani Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayyat expressed dismay the trap they had hoped would lead to the capture of other top Al Qaeda leaders, possibly even Osama Bin Laden, was sprung too soon.  "The network is still not finished," Hayyat said. It "remains a potent threat to Pakistan, and to civilized humanity."  "It makes our job harder," a British security source said. British officials denied press reports yesterday that several suspects were able to escape the net."

Juan Cole and others cite stories of 5 suspects who were not apprehended, and provides details of how Rice was identified as the source.  Senator Charles Schumer "has asked the White House to explain why the name was leaked to the press, saying it may have hurt the war on terror, according to a letter obtained by Reuters on Monday. "  Reuters quotes Tim Ripley, a security expert who writes for Jane's Defence publications, "The whole thing smacks of either incompetence or worse."

  2:43:05 PM  permalink  

Kerry gets 204 executive endorsements -- inlcuding one unlikely one: "Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry released a list of 204 executives who endorse his economic policies, including .. Peter Chernin, chief operating officer of News Corp..."  Chemin was just renewed for five more years as president and COO of News Corp.  10:43:00 AM  permalink  

The FIVIMS Programme:  "Poverty Mapping is a joint initiative by FAO, UNEP and the CGIAR consisting of a network of institutions dedicated to: analyse and map the spatial distribution of poverty, produce and promote the use of poverty maps and shows linkages between poverty and food insecurity, the environment and development and to promote the use of poverty maps in policy making and targeting assistance. The initative has been funded as a thee-year project throught he Government of Norway, closing by the end of 2004. The poverty mapping initative is performed within FIVIMS, an Inter-agency initiative to promote information and mapping systems on food insecurity and vulnerability."  9:41:47 AM  permalink  

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall:  A brilliant blog during this political season.  A few choice bits:

  • On Bush's endorsement of the 911 Commission recommendations, followed by his proposal of a weak Director of Intelligence:" this is such a pattern for this White House that you'd think the Kerry campaign, and the Dems on the Hill, would get hold of this as a pretty manageable critique of this administration: That is, you just can't trust them. What this White House says it's doing and what it's actually doing seldom turn out to be the same thing. "
  • Press failures covering WMD: "Do not miss this very important article that not only covers the exceptionally good reportage of Knight-Ridder reporters Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay on the WMD claims, but also the costs of aggressively bucking the administration line. "
  • On GOP ridicule (which I recall as devastatingly effective against Gore in 2000),  "aimed at mocking John Kerry as a undistinguished and risible figure. According to the Times, this will culminate at the GOP convention where Kerry will be portrayed as "an object of humor and calculated derision." .. Republicans are very good at this. And it can be a tool that is deceptively difficult to respond to or combat. Effective mockery is 'sticky', hard to shake off, hard to parry. And it appeals to people's appetite for fun and humor. Indeed, it's not just contemporary Republicans who have a knack for this. There seems to be something intrinsic to the reactionary or right-leaning mentality that gravitates toward this method of political combat. Think of the Tory pamphleteers and essayists of the 18th century in Great Britain or others of a more recent vintage in the US.  This is potent stuff. And Democrats would do well not only to be on their guard but consider applying this approach to the current president, who is more than a bit ripe for such treatment."
  12:06:03 AM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, August 08, 2004


GreenFuel Technologies Corporation:  2004 spinoff from a space technology company, attempting conversion of emissions to usable biomass (i.e. algae) in novel bioreactors:  "Depending on customer specifications, GreenFuel will reduce up to 90% of NOx and 40% of CO2, generating biomass, emissions reduction credits, and public goodwill, for far less than the price of current Selective Catalytic Reduction systems or CO2 sequestration methods, and with no toxic byproducts."  Innovations are outlined.  Field test is underway on MIT's cogen power plant.

  11:02:26 PM  permalink  

Intelligent Energy Demonstrates Fuel Cell for Rural Electrification in Latin America: "Intelligent Energy Inc. says it has completed trials of its ethanol-based fuel cell technology system, showing that sufficient electricity can be generated for a rural home from equipment little larger than a shoebox, using fuel derived from sugar cane. ..

Intelligent Energy is engaged in a partner program in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico which is focused on providing rural and urban electricity solutions.  Dr. Eduardo Torres Serra of CEPEL, Brazil's premier energy research laboratory, which is currently engaged in research aimed at rural and peri-urban electrification, witnessed the operation of Intelligent Energy's fully integrated ethanol-in to electricity-out system. He commented: "The Intelligent Energy system is at the cutting edge of technology, it is very compact and extremely impressive."

Making the announcement today, Intelligent Energy's Chairman, former Chairman of Shell, Sir John Jennings, said: "This successful demonstration is an important part of our expanding strategy to accelerate market acceptance of fuel cell technology as an alternative power source. " The company has interesting people from the conventional energy business, and materials that emphasize developing countries.  They appear to proceed by acquisition of companies with promising technology, from fuel source to power output.

  10:47:40 PM  permalink  

CO2 bioreactors:  Mix power plant CO2 with water and feed it to algae.  "As the carbon dioxide exhaust moves toward the smokestacks, it would pass through tubes of running water, creating bicarbonates that would bubble in the water like soda pop. The water then flows through a bioreactor that contains a series of screens on which algae grow.  "The algae basically drink the bicarbonates," says David Bayless, who also serves as associate director of the [Ohio U]'s Ohio Coal Research Center. "They get carbon through this system much quicker than trying to get it out of the air." .. He estimates that an average-size plant using this technology could process 20 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions and produce 200,000 tons or more of algae per year for a secondary market."  News story online.  Most info dates from 2001, including a technical paper.

  10:22:20 PM  permalink  

Jatropha plant yields biodiesel: "DaimlerChrysler is launching a new public-private joint enterprise in India for the production of environment-friendly biodiesel that can be used to power Mercedes vehicles. .. The project is setting out to test the production of biodiesel from Jatropha plants on eroded ground and its preparation for subsequent use in internal combustion engines.

With the establishment of this plantation, wind erosion will be alleviated and the roots of the plants will help reduce water erosion. The biscuits created as a byproduct of the oil extraction make an excellent organic fertilizer that helps improve the quality of the soil. It is envisaged that the plantations will later be operated by the municipal authorities.

Jatropha biodiesel is characterized by particularly favorable ignition performance. It also contains no sulfur and is thus a clean, low-emission fuel. .. Jatropha grows wild in many areas of India and even thrives on infertile soil. A good crop can be obtained with little effort. " 

The Austrian Biofuels Institute provided a note on a field test of the fuel in 2004, with some into on its development since 1996.

  9:54:27 PM  permalink  

New Solar Tent Prototypes for US Army (June 16, 2004):   "Iowa Thin Film Technologies, Inc., has completed the development of integrated solar technology for three Army tent prototypes. The tents integrate the company's PowerFilm® flexible solar panels directly with the tent fabric. Iowa Thin Film Technologies says that it is the only company in the world that has developed this fabric integration solar technology."  Could be equally useful during disasters or in refugee camps.  9:47:55 PM  permalink  

Bush approval scatterplot: Quite a trendline.  9:15:33 PM  permalink  

New Transmission Line for CA Wind: "A new transmission project designed to carry wind energy from California's Tehachapi and Antelope Valley area to customers throughout California met with swift approval from the California Independent System Operator Board of Governors. The new line is needed to carry power from an expansion of wind turbine generators planned for the area.   The Tehachapi range already is home to more than 600 MW of wind generation, making it California's largest concentration of wind turbines. As much as 1,100 MW worth of new wind projects are planned for the region.. California utilities [must] meet the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires 20 percent of the energy the Investor-Owned Utilities deliver to their customers to come from renewable resources by the year 2017. .. The 25-mile Antelope-Pardee line will cost about $94 million to build. It could be energized as early as December 2006. "

  8:34:23 PM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, August 07, 2004


EFF: Liberation Digital Television Front:  EFF wants people to stock up on HDTV cards and computer systems now, before the broadcast flag takes effect:  "Responding to pressure from Hollywood, the FCC has adopted a rule requiring future digital television (DTV) tuners to include "content protection" (aka DRM) technologies. Starting next year, all makers of HDTV receivers must build their devices to watch for a broadcast "flag" embedded in programs by copyright holders. When it comes to digital recording, it'll be Hollywood's DRM way or the highway. Want to burn that recording digitally to a DVD to save hard drive space? Sorry, the DRM lock-box won't allow it. How about sending it over your home network to another TV? Not unless you rip out your existing network and replace it with DRMd routers. Kind of defeats the purpose of getting a high definition digital signal, doesn't it?

The good news is this mandate doesn't take effect for another year. We have until July 1, 2005, to buy, build, and sell fully-capable, non-flag-compliant HDTV receivers. Any receivers built now will "remain functional under a flag regime, allowing consumers to continue their use without the need for new or additional equipment." [PDF] Any devices made this year can be re-sold in the future. .. Since machines you've already built will still work in high-def next year, we'd like to make HDTV tuner cards easy to use now, while they can still be manufactured."

  12:06:14 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, August 06, 2004


Amazon's Web Services and XSLT: "Amazon Web Services (AWS) provide two ways to get XML versions of the information that Amazon's customers ordinarily get from HTML web pages: a SOAP interface and a REST interface."  80% of use is the simpler REST interface, where a carefully-composed URL yields XML.  What's more, you can specify a URL to an XSLT file and Amazon will filter the XML before returning it - very clever. 

The links in the article connect to Jon Udell's LibraryLookup : "bookmarklets for searching libraries. Apparently, quite a few libraries have ISBN lookup capabilities. Jon developed a piece of code that attaches itself to your browser menu bar. Then, when you are on, say, Amazon looking for a book, you can click on the bookmarklet and it will find out if your local library has it."  The bookmarklet Java script regex's to find the ISBN and constructs the URL to the library system of choice.  Cleverly, Jon added a link on his page so that users (mostly librarians) could hack up their own bookmarklets for their favorite libraries and submit them to his page.  His readers thus built a library of solutions they all share.  Great way to leverage a community to build shared value.

  11:44:18 PM  permalink  

Scripts in the media;  Krugman recommends this site, which details how the conservative message machine takes on and repeats falsehoods and spin as a "script".  The site also berates the press and Democrats for letting the script go unchallenged, and provides corrective material.  10:56:23 AM  permalink  

China backs Nigeria rural comms:  "In the bid to provide cheap telephone services to rural communities, the Federal Government yesterday launched a rural telephony programme for the country for which it plans to spend $200 million (about N26.6 billion) in the next few years. The money is a loan package granted by the Chinese Government while the Federal Government will provide a counterpart funding of N2.8 billion...

The rural telephony programme will be delivered in three projects spread across 343 local government areas of the country. The three projects include Rural Radio Systems (RRS), which will be provided in 125 local government areas, Alcatel Shangai Bell (ASB) covering 108 local governments, and the ZTE, which will be provided in 110 local government areas.  ..out of the $200 million loan facility, 50 per cent would be committed to ABS while the other 50 per cent will spread across the other two projects under the rural telephony programme. 

He explained that the rural telephony programme would provide service in rural and under-served urban centres, local government areas through tele-centres and .. educational institutions.. "

  10:19:46 AM  permalink  

Zimbabwe prepares Internet controls:  "The Zimbabwe government is planning to acquire high-tech equipment from China for the purpose of bugging the internet. This is to enable it to interfere with the flow of information it considers subversive as well as the operations of independent internet based media outlets.  Authoritative sources within Posts and Telecommunications (PTC) and government circles revealed that the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) is already looking into ways of controlling internet communication as soon as the equipment arrives.

The whole of Zimbabwe has during the past weeks been experiencing intermittent internet break-downs, which PTC management had failed to explain, according to sources at the PTC.   'They merely said that there was work being done in upgrading or some security measures being implemented.  There are CIOs [agents] that seem to have been permanently stationed at Tel One (the state owned hub for internet providers) and were carrying out some surveys in the past weeks. We understand that there are some Internet Service Providers (ISP) who have agreed to cooperate with the CIOs and let them use their domains for the tests with samples of equipment brought from China,' a PTC source said.

Sources within the CIO said that the equipment from China is expected to be delivered next month. Government would push for the promulgation of a law allowing it to bug the internet for security reasons. President Robert Mugabe announced during the opening of parliament last week that government would introduce a bill in the house to give it powers to control communication systems for the sake of 'tightening state security'.  .. Tel One recently asked ISPs to sign commercial contracts obliging them to take 'all necessary measures' to prevent the transmission of illegal material on line."

  10:14:02 AM  permalink  

WRI Conference: Eradicating Poverty through Profit: Dec 12-14, 2004, San Francisco.  Program lists presenters and tracks on Connectivity, Energy and Agriculture, among other topics.  9:52:29 AM  permalink  

Microsoft touts Virtual Server as NT migration tool: "Microsoft is pushing its upcoming Virtual Server 2005 software as the means for partners to migrate customers from NT Server 4.0 systems across to Windows Server 2000 and 2003.  .. Microsoft Australia product manager for servers, Michael Leworthy, .. said up to 25 per cent of Microsoft server customers were still operating on a NT 4.0 platform. Of these, some 60 per cent were still running line of business applications incompatible with the newer 2000 or 2003 server products, including Microsoft’s Exchange 5.5 and SQL 7, as well as third-party business applications.  Using Virtual Server 2005, customers could continue to run these applications on a virtual NT environment, underlined by a Windows 2000 or 2003 platform. This would give customers the benefit of the additional performance, resources, and stronger management and security buffers promised by the newer server software, while also taking away the costs of running multiple NT 4.0 server boxes, Leworthy said. It would also free up funds to invest in upgrading business applications or buying newer software products, he said. "  12:36:48 AM  permalink  

SWsoft: Control Panels, VPS and Hosting Automation Solution: "Mainframe-like dynamic partitioning, resource management with full isolation of each partition, OS virtualization that allows migration of a VPS to another physical machine, and templating to manage mass deployment of updates and applications"  12:33:18 AM  permalink  

Virtual Server 2005 Released to Manufacturing: "August 5, 2004: Virtual Server 2005 is released to manufacturing, a Microsoft spokesperson said Thursday. RTM marks the final development milestone in the server virtualization software's odyssey .. The precise delivery date is not public, although general availability usually follows RTM by less than two months. "  12:27:50 AM  permalink  

Movie-swapping up; Kazaa down: "Over six months of surveying, [CacheLogic] found that Kazaa use had slipped far behind rival BitTorrent, which accounted for 53 percent of actual peer-to-peer network traffic. It found also that overall traffic has not been falling, as some have suggested. By June, an average of 8 million users were online at any given time, sharing a petabyte (10 million gigabytes) of data.

"The overall level of file sharing has increased," said Andrew Parker, CacheLogic's founder and chief technology officer. "Users have migrated from Kazaa onto BitTorrent."   The company's observations add to what have been growing indications of a generational shift under way in the peer-to-peer world, with computer users increasingly downloading big files such as movies and software, and reducing reliance on onetime file-sharing king Kazaa. "

  12:24:09 AM  permalink  

About IP Fabrics: "IP Fabrics’ technology stems from the premise that future networks will demand three attributes that are often at odds with another:  1. True wire-speed performance; 2. Much more intelligence directly in the network; 3. Readily extensible to new protocols, new threats, and new silicon.  We believe highly parallel NPUs (network processors) present the best opportunity for satisfying these objectives.. The radically different approach consists of a very-high-level packet processing language and a virtual machine environment for it. The language and environment are well suited for any application based on IP technology, including firewalls, VPNs, security gateways, intrusion detection, content switching, application-layer firewalling, SPAM filtering, traffic monitoring, and many more. "  12:08:32 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, August 05, 2004


MY WAR - Fear And Loathing In Iraq: Men In Black: Whew, what a blog, from an infantry gunner in Mosul.  Reminds me of Dispatches.  "We were driving there on that main street, when all of the sudden all hell came down all around on us, all these guys wearing all black (Black pants, and a black t-shirts tucked in), a couple dozen on each side of the street, on rooftops, alleys, edge of buildings, out of windows, everywhere just came out of fucking nowhere and started firing RPG's and AK47's at us. I freaked the fuck out and ducked down in the hatch. I yelled "WE GOT FUCKIN HAJI'S ALL OVER THE FUCKIN PLACE!!! THERE ALL OVER GOD DAMNIT!!!" Bullets were pinging off our armor all over our vehicle, and you could hear multiple RPG's being fired and flying through the air and impacting all around us."  11:36:50 PM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, August 04, 2004


24HOURDOTCOM: "Our mission is to build a dotcom in 24 hours. We will then sell the company on eBay and get rich... "  This was at the Wizards of OS conference in Berlin, as "a performance art/business project. The mission is to create a dotcom business from scratch in 24 hours. That means designing and programming a complete and useful web application, recruiting people, doing marketing, creating investment programs and much more. After 24 hours, the complete business will be sold on an eBay auction, and everyone involved will be rich!"  Pretty funny - and they got $2026 on ebay.

  6:03:45 PM  permalink  

Polio's last days: "Fifteen years ago, more than 1,000 children a day, in 125 countries across five continents, were being paralysed by polio.  In 1989, when the WHO eradication programme was set up, more than 350,000 people a year were developing polio. By last year, there were just 700 cases.

By end of this year, health experts believe they could have eradicated polio from every country around the globe. A massive, last push in the international vaccination campaign should mean that the remaining six nations classified as having endemic polio - Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Niger, Afghanistan and Egypt - are declared free of the disease by next year.  .. The success of the eradication programme is solely due to this 6p-a-time vaccine, which has been available in the West for 30 years, saving billions from death and disability. ..

The WHO-led eradication programme is now facing a $200m shortfall as it enters the most critical phase ..

Yesterday saw the end of a door-to-door initiative to immunise four million children in the Nigerian state of Kano in five days. Health workers administered a couple of drops of the vaccine into the mouths of every child under five. Samples were subjected to independent analysis to convince sceptics that it was safe, and health officials worked to persuade the Muslim clerics to their side. The initiative was given a boost when Ibrahim Shekaru, the Kano state Governor, administered the vaccine in the village of Takai at the start of the resumed immunisation initiative this week.

But last August, polio immunisation in the Islamic state was suddenly halted after a coalition of radical Muslim clerics and local politicians claimed that the vaccines were part of a Western plot to sterilise African girls and spread HIV/Aids. The effects were immediate and disastrous. Cases of polio in Nigeria increased from 50 to more than 250 within a year. At the beginning of last year, polio was endemic to two nations in sub-Saharan Africa; by this year, the Nigerian crisis was linked to re-infection in 10 more countries, including Chad, Ghana and Togo. The conspiracy theories about the vaccine spread to other Islamic states - Pakistan and Afghanistan. ..

In January, the WHO called an emergency meeting in Geneva. Already faced with a $100m shortfall, officials felt they had no option but to commit an extra $100m to ensure 74 million children in Africa received a dose of OPV by the end of the year. If all goes well, the world could be declared to be rid of polio by 2008.."

  5:35:44 PM  permalink  

Virtual Machine Shootout: Concise overview of the VMware workstation and MS Virtual PC products, with a performance comparison.  VMware averages around 10% worse than hardware, VPC 20% worse.  5:17:56 PM  permalink  

Quantum crypto network debuts:  "Quantum cryptography has the potential to guarantee perfectly secure communications, but until now all of the prototype systems have been point-to-point links rather than networks that share connections. BBN Technologies, Harvard University and Boston University researchers have built a six-node quantum cryptography network that operates continuously "  4:54:12 PM  permalink  

Sadr army owns city's streets: "In recent months, [al Sadr's] Mahdi Army has consolidated its control over Sadr City - a poor sprawl of 2.5 million on Baghdad's northeastern edge - maintained control over large portions of Najaf, forced a US-backed government council in the southern city of Amara to resign, and rearmed in anticipation of further confrontation with the US.  "We're in charge here,'' says Sheikh Amar Saadi, a preacher in Sadr City and senior Mahdi Army commander.  "Our mission is to clear Iraq of evil, and that's not just about defeating the Americans." ..

Sadr officials say the group is making the first tentative steps towards becoming a political force like Hezbollah in Lebanon.  US patrols rarely venture here and the local police tend to take orders from Sadr's men rather than the other way around. Every afternoon, large queues of supplicants form outside Sadr's main office to ask for help with medical bills, schooling, and jobs. ..

By running a wildly popular anti-vice campaign in cooperation with local police, Sadr's men - and not the US-installed interim government - have taken up the mantle of chief guarantors of public order in Sadr City. Mahdi Army members have killed alleged drug dealers and kidnappers, and handed more over to the police. Local cops confirm their cooperation. "They're doing a lot of our work for us,'' says one.

Mahdi Army is the most potent social and political movement in Sadr City. The area holds about 10 percent of Iraq's electorate - a powerful bloc in a country divided between the Kurds and competing Shiite and Sunni factions. .. The thickly muscled and calm Hisham is typical of many of the army's lower ranking leaders whose commitment to the cause was hardened by their time as political prisoners under the old regime.  Now, he says, he's driven by a desire to make sure Sadr City is never subject to an outside power again, one of the reasons he's so opposed to the US presence here. Despite a day job as a security guard elsewhere in Baghdad, he spends six nights a week on the streets of Sadr City with his friends. "We don't hate American people, we just hate the policies of the US government, which wants to control Iraq," he says. "We're dealing with the criminals here, people's safety. The Americans have done nothing.""

The situation is similar in Najaf.  ""What he says is right ... the militia is protecting Najaf," says Aamer Harez Ali, a barber sniping away with his sheers. Still, he admits, if more young men had work they would be less likely to enlist in the Mahdi Army. "We need jobs," he says."

  4:38:22 PM  permalink  

Who votes: " The more wealthy you are, the more likely you are to vote. " From the 2000 election, Household Income - (Percentage that Voted):

  • Less than $5,000 - (34%)
  • $5,000 - $9,999 -   (41%)
  • $10,000 - $14,999 - (44%)
  • $10,000 - $14,999 - (44%)
  • $15,000 - $24,999 - (51%)
  • $25,000 - $34,999 - (58%)
  • $35,000 - $49,999 - (62%)
  • $50,000 - $74,999 - (69%)
  • $75,000 and over - (74%)
  4:21:39 PM  permalink  

Microsoft to implement SPF checking: "The company is strongly urging e-mail providers and Internet service providers to publish, by mid-September, Sender Policy Framework records that identify their e-mail servers in the domain name system. Microsoft will begin matching the source of inbound e-mail to the Internet Protocol addresses of e-mail servers listed in that sending domain’s SPF record by October 1.  Messages that fail the check will not be rejected but will be further scrutinized and filtered, says Craig Spiezle, director of Microsoft’s Safety Technology and Strategy Group."  However, a comment says that MS has not yet published SPF records themselves for any of their domains.  12:00:38 PM  permalink  

LeapFrog donating 20,000 books to Afghan women to learn basic health lessons in own languages:  "Twenty-thousand interactive women's health books, built with the LeapPad learning system technology of LeapFrog Enterprises, are en route to Afghanistan to help teach basic health care lessons .. The recipients are Afghan women, 80 percent of whom are illiterate .. They will also begin to learn to read using the device, just as many children have.

The popular technology-based learning device has been tailored for speakers of Dari and Pashto, the primary languages of Afghanistan. They will be able to use it to learn about personal health subjects including diet, childhood immunization, pregnancy, breastfeeding, sanitation and water boiling, treating injuries and burns, and disease prevention.  The [DHS] department, LeapFrog and several consultants for the company, including Dr. Najiba Zamani of Hayward, who had practiced medicine in an Afghan refugee camp, took 12 months to develop the material. The result: 350 items of recorded information on 19 personal health subjects that carefully take into account a host of cultural and religious considerations.

For example, reproduction is a culturally and religiously sensitive topic in the country. The solution: a page of text and a page of pictures with the analogy of growing carrots. Growing them too close together produces skinny and not-well- formed carrots that do not look good to eat, but if you space the carrots, they're plump and appetizing -- the lesson being it's better to space children rather than having them in rapid succession. "  US DHS provided $1.2m for content development and translation.

  11:22:05 AM  permalink  

9/11 panel dismayed by Bush's reaction, Director needs real clout, members say:  ""I know that Secretary (of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld is going to oppose [giving the new chief budget authority]," Kerrey said. "And if they [the Department of Defense] wins one more time, then next time there's a dustup and there's a failure, don't call the director of Central Intelligence up here. Kick the crap out of (the defense department) because they're the one with the statutory authority over the budget." "  DoD controls about 80% of all intelligence spending today.  10:15:57 AM  permalink  

The Official Kwiki Web Site: "Kwiki is perhaps the simplest to install, most modular, and easiest to extend Wiki. A Wiki allows users to freely create and edit web pages in any web browser. Kwiki is Open Source Software written in Perl, and is available on CPAN. "  12:20:03 AM  permalink  

Internationalizing Iraq: Juan Cole describes how Kerry might be able to substitute a UN command international force for US troops in 2005.  12:17:16 AM  permalink  

Iraq on verge of implode: Fisk predicts a complete meltdown, reports that no one expects elections to take place in January due to deteriorating security.  12:15:11 AM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, August 03, 2004


The Niger forgeries: British newspapers report that an Italian fraudster claims to be the source.  Very interesting account of how the political demand for evidence about Iraq (in this case, ironically, from French intelligence) resulted in the supply of  fictitious information.  11:52:28 PM  permalink  

newsmap: A visual rendering of google news, with cool options for filtering categories or countries and reaching back in time.  11:04:21 PM  permalink  

Dialogue with the Grassroots: A collaborative project between Mountain Forum and Radio Sagarmatha in Nepal.  Interesting model of collaboration between an international NGO and community broadcasters to develop and deliver audio content in local languages.  The Mountain Forum is an interesting collection of people and institutions with many moderated email distribution lists.  1:14:26 PM  permalink  

Heading for trouble:  Prescient criticisms of Iraq invasion from Nov 2002 by a Reagan Secy of the Navy: "The connotations of "a MacArthurian regency in Baghdad" show how inapt the comparison is. Our occupation forces never set foot inside Japan until the emperor had formally surrendered and prepared Japanese citizens for our arrival. Nor did MacArthur destroy the Japanese government  .. The Iraqis are a multiethnic people filled with competing factions who in many cases would view a U.S. occupation as infidels invading the cradle of Islam. Indeed, this very bitterness provided Osama bin Laden the grist for his recruitment efforts in Saudi Arabia when the United States kept bases on Saudi soil after the Gulf War.

In Japan, American occupation forces quickly became 50,000 friends. In Iraq, they would quickly become 50,000 terrorist targets.

Nations such as China can only view the prospect of an American military consumed for the next generation by the turmoil of the Middle East as a glorious windfall. Indeed, .. it lends credence to their insistent cultivation of the Muslim world. One should not take lightly the fact that China previously supported Libya, that Pakistan developed its nuclear capability with China's unrelenting assistance and that the Chinese sponsored a coup attempt in Indonesia in 1965. An "American war" with the Muslims, occupying the very seat of their civilization, would allow the Chinese to isolate the United States diplomatically as they furthered their own ambitions in South and Southeast Asia."  12:54:33 PM  permalink  

Sustainable Resources:  "An International Forum Connecting People with Hands-on Solutions to World Poverty."  Boulder CO, Sept 30 - Oct 2, 2004 (plus pre- and post-conference workshops).  Keynotes by John Todd, A.T. Ariyaratne, William McDonough.

Unfortunately, it overlaps with Engineers for a Sustainable World - 2004 National Conference, Stanford CA, Sept 30-October 2, 2004.  Keynotes by William McDonough (busy guy!), and Jeffrey Sachs.

  12:27:22 PM  permalink  

RSA Security - The Blocker Tag: Selective Blocking of RFID Tags for Consumer Privacy: Clever scheme for allowing consumers to block scanning of tags on items that they have purchased (eg, while in public places), and allowing scanning of those same items when desired (eg, in a medicine cabinet or refrigerator at home). 

"One may think of a the RSA® Blocker Tag as "spamming" any reader that attempts to scan tags without the right authorization. (The RSA® Blocker Tag manipulates the reading protocol with the aim of making the reader think that RFID tags representing all possible serial numbers are present.) When a Blocker is in proximity to ordinary RFID tags, they benefit from its shielding behavior; when the Blocker tag is removed, the ordinary RFID tags may be used normally.

Thanks to their selective nature, RSA® Blocker Tags are designed not to interfere with the normal operation of RFID systems in retail environments. They help prevent unwanted scanning of purchased items, but do not affect the scanning of shop inventories. Thus RSA® Blocker Tags are designed not to be usable, for example, to circumvent theft-control systems or mount denial-of-service attacks -- only to protect the privacy of law-abiding consumers."

  9:53:04 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, August 02, 2004


SDSU MiTAP Home Page: "The MiTAP system is a research prototype for monitoring infectious disease outbreaks and other global threats. MiTAP focuses on providing timely global information access to analysts, medical experts and individuals involved in humanitarian assistance and relief work. Multiple information soures are automatically captured, filtered, summarized, and categorized into searchable newsgroups based on disease, region, information sources, person, and organization. .. The system currently processes thousands of articles daily, delivering up-to-date information to hundreds of users. Because MiTAP uses an intuitive news browser interface, users are able to use the system with little or no training."  11:46:04 PM  permalink  

Sveasoft Firmware Documentation Site: Firmware Guides and Manual for their modification of the Linux in the WRT54G Linksys Router.

  11:40:40 PM  permalink  

Linux on the WRT54G:  "This is a mini Linux distribution for the Linksys wrt54g. In about 20 seconds, you can install a small set of Linux tools to your access point's ramdisk. The distribution is geared towards those who are curious about casually exploring the internal workings of this device. The installation is strictly to the ram disk of the box. No permanent changes are made. If you mess something up, power-cycle the box.

Upon completion of the installation, you'll be able to telnet into the box and have a system with basic tools such as syslog, httpd (with cgi-bin support), vi, snort, mount, insmod, rmmod, top, grep, ls, ifconfig, iptables, ssh, iptraf etc. "  The author also has tools for accessing the Linux running in the Linksys NSLU2 network storage/USB device.  Like the WRT54G, it costs under $100.  3:31:32 PM  permalink  

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