Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog

daily link  Friday, March 25, 2005

HP ProLiant Essentials Server Migration Pack: New P2V tools from HP.  Features:

  • Systems Insight Manager Integration - enables all operations required for P2V or V2V migrations to be accessed from the SIM console
  • Automated P2V - automates the migration of physical servers into VMware ESX/GSX or Microsoft virtual machines
  • Automated V2V - automates the conversion of Virtual Machines between VMware ESX & GSX and Microsoft Virtual Server virtualization layers
  • Peer to Peer Migrations - accelerates the migration process and enables the ability to perform multiple P2V migrations concurrently
  • No boot CD required"
  9:13:18 AM  permalink  

IBM offers VMware apps: "Hoping to inspire more enthusiasm among corporate and smaller users alike for virtualization technology, VMware signed a deal to bundle evaluation copies of its entire virtual infrastructure software line with all IBM Intel-based eServer BladeCenter servers. "  9:08:02 AM  permalink  

daily link  Thursday, March 24, 2005

VMWare Workstation raw disk with WinXP guest: Nifty trick of converting a dual-boot machine into a multi-OS VMware system.  Starts with dual boot Linux and XP; adds vmware under linux; creates an XP vm that runs off the XP partition in raw mode.  Result is much faster execution of XP, and continued ability to boot XP.  The downside is loss of snapshots and other virtual disk functions (obviously).  I wonder if VMware workstation 5 can create an unlinked clone of the XP partition, to convert it to a true virtual disk.  VMware today probably doesn't support cloning of raw disks, but if it did, it might make a more elegant p2v process -- boot, say, from a USB drive that has vmware, define a VM with a raw disk link to a partition, and clone it.  (See also VMware 4.5 docs, caveat, and support comment. Thanks to 'perigrin' in  9:39:19 AM  permalink  

Oracle-on-Linux VMware Cookbooks: Oracle offers how-to's for installation, and complete VM's, 9 or 10 GB in size, which they call the "Desktop Data Center".  9:29:28 AM  permalink "We provide free storage and free bandwidth for your videos, audio files, photos, text or software. Forever. No catches."  Appears to build on the Internet Archive.  9:23:44 AM  permalink  

Podcasters get sponsors: Warner Brothers "will sponsor podcasts of the Eric Rice Show and provide exclusive audio content from one of its bands.  The Eric Rice Show, which is produced by Rice and three of his colleagues, features audio musings on entertainment, technology, and culture. .. The agreement calls for the label to give Rice exclusive interviews, banter and impromptu jams featuring "The Used," which were recorded on the band's current tour... RSS marketing firm Pheedo, which brokered the dea [said]. "It's basically paid placement. The music becomes the advertisement. The way I sold both these sponsorships is [that they're] enhancing what someone's already doing and adding value to it, as opposed to the interruption mode" [of paid ads]. ..

In a separate sponsorship facilitated by Pheedo, software provider Citrix has paid for a product placement on blogger Chris Pirillo's podcast. Listeners will be encouraged to register for a trial of the sponsor's GoToMeeting platform using a unique code announced specific to that podcast. That sponsorship will break on March 31."  [Thanks John!]

  9:22:45 AM  permalink  

daily link  Wednesday, March 23, 2005

New Virtual Platform: "Chris Stone, late vice-chairman of Novell responsible for its acquisition of SUSE and Ximian, has surfaced on the shiny new advisory board of Virtual Iron Software Inc.. [Virtual Iron] claims it can virtualize anything from a fraction of a processor to large-scale multiprocessors. .. The company was founded in 2003 under the name Katana Technology Inc by chief scientist Alex Vasilevsky, a grid pioneer and Thinking Machines veteran, along with CTO and head of business development Scott Davis, the former CTO of Mangosoft who in his youth was technical director of DEC's VAXCluster, VMS Volume Shadowing and DEC's NT clustering technology."  Virtual Iron has raised $20m, has many luminaries on its advisory board. 

The product calims to combine multiple servers into a single fabric.  "Virtual Iron is betting that Linux will be the big growth driver in data center computing going forward and that many small servers will be racked up in these places like so many books in a library. VMware has spread its bet across the Windows and Linux worlds and believes that, increasingly, data center operators will use fewer machines with more processors in each. Either way, thanks to their advances, get ready to see microprocessors from Intel and AMD make tons of headway in the heavy-duty corporate computing scene. .. Virtual Iron's product, VFe (get it?), allows computing system managers to turn a host of Linux servers into a single virtual server, in real time shifting jobs from one server to another as computing demands dictate. The idea is that the system is much easier to manage this way, since all of the servers run on a single Linux operating system--rather than requiring each computer to run its own operating system. (Linux sellers Red Hat and Novell must be saying "Ouch!") Also, with a setup like this, there's less unused computing power sitting around idle."  Commercial availability of VFe release 1.0 will be in Q2 of 2005.  Initial support for x86 and SUSE and RedHat only.

Analyst opinions: "Pund-IT analyst Charles King said Xen is likely to be a greater threat to VMware than Virtual Iron, which he said sports an approach so different from VMware's that Virtual Iron will more likely compete with grid computing vendors like Platform Computing or United Devices.  .. IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky said .. "On the edges, VMware and Virtual Iron will compete with each other. But VMware can't do what Virtual Iron does, which is spread resources among number of blades or boxes connected by InfiniBand. This is not to say VMware could not implement this, but it would probably take two to three years to implement."   [Thanks for the lead, Scott!]

  8:32:26 AM  permalink  

daily link  Sunday, March 20, 2005

Blogcast: How to: The comments section gives links for using Windows Media Player to capture demos from your screen while recording your words. "The files usually end up in between 2 and 3 mb for about 6-8 minutes worth of blogcast"  11:30:40 PM  permalink  

Solar SeV Finetex Shell: Updated geek jacket, now with solar charger:  "The Solar SCOTTEVEST (SeV) combines the benefits of our signature jacket and removable solar panels. The solar panels enable you to recharge most USB compatible devices on the go, either while wearing the jacket or with the panels removed. When attached, the solar panels compliment the jacket’s design. The solar panels charge a small battery - about the size of a deck of cards. The battery powers your device almost immediately after the solar panels are exposed to sunlight. Once the battery is fully charged, the panels can be removed and your portable electronic device can tap into the stored power.   Typical charge times in direct sunlight range from 2-3 hours, but direct sunlight is not required."  Geek cargo pants also available, teflon coated (but no solar panel...).  10:55:10 PM  permalink  

Mapping Google: How Google Maps works in the browser.  Turns out they use XMLHttpRequest, a hidden iFrame and the browser-based XSLTProcessor.  Great to see that XSLT is now working well in browsers, both IE6 and Firefox.  More info on it here, and a broader comment about "AJAX" here:  "AJAX seems to be the new "buzzword of the day". In short, AJAX stands for "Asynchronous JavaScript And XML", an acronym coined by Jesse Garrett recently. The basic idea is very nice - you can actually perform client-side programming directly in the DHTML code, in the embedded JavaScript. And, while the DHTML page interacts with the user, it talks asynchronously in the background with the server through a variety of methods, notably by sending/receiving XML fragments."  Used in Google Maps, GMail, and even Outlook Web Access.  10:42:50 PM  permalink  

The XML User Interface Language: (XUL) is a markup language for creating rich dynamic user interfaces. It is a part of the Mozilla browser and related applications and is available as part of Gecko [and Firefox]. It is designed to be portable and is available on all versions of Windows, Macintosh as well as Linux and other Unix flavours. With XUL and other Gecko components, you can create sophisticated applications without special tools.

XUL was designed for creating the user interface of the Mozilla application including the web browser, mail client and page editor. XUL may be used to create these types of applications. However, it may also be used any place you would use currently use a web application, for instance, when you need to be able to retrieve resources from the network and require a richer user interface .. This means you don't have to look for third party code or include a large block of JavaScript in your application just to handle a popup menu. XUL has all of these elements built-in. In addition, the elements are designed to look and feel just like those on the user's native platform, even supporting OS level themes in Windows XP and MacOS X.  .. In fact, XUL is powerful enough that the entire user interface in the Mozilla application is implemented in XUL. "

Example:  (Use Firefox to view.)  Very slick, fast, pleasant to use.

  10:32:32 PM  permalink  

OpenLaszlo: Next generation, open source, supported by IBM:  "With Laszlo, you can:
  • Develop standards-based rich Internet applications with one code base in XML and JavaScript
  • Deploy them from any J2EE application server or Java servlet container running under Linux, UNIX, Windows or Mac OS X
  • Display them in any Web browser enabled with the Flash 5 Player or above, reaching 97% of all Web-enabled desktops

Since 2002, Laszlo-powered applications have demonstrated proven usability, scalability and reliability in public Web deployments to millions of users."

  10:23:28 PM  permalink  

Fedora Project Wiki - FedoraXenQuickstart: How to run Xen in Fedora.  "As some people have noticed, Xen is now available from the Fedora development repository. More information on Xen itself can be found at We're following the -unstable Xen tree at the moment which does occasionally lead to things being broken but also lets us track a lot of the more interesting work going on there. Since setting up to run Xen isn't entirely straight-forward, here's a run-through of what should work for setting up a single Xen guest running the Fedora development tree."  9:26:04 AM  permalink  

daily link  Saturday, March 19, 2005

China, Iran Cruise Missile Sales Confirmed: "Smugglers in Ukraine shipped 18 cruise missiles, each capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, to Iran and China at the beginning of the decade, Ukrainian prosecutors said Friday. The apparent sale to Iran of 12 of the Soviet-era Kh-55 cruise missiles, which have a range of 1,860 miles, is likely to add to concern in Washington about alleged efforts by Iran to develop nuclear weapons. .. public confirmation by the new administration of President Viktor Yushchenko came Friday.

Each missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead with a 200-kiloton yield at altitudes too low to be detected by radar, and the sales have been portrayed as a significant leak of Soviet-era weapons technology. .. Omelchenko said missiles were shipped to China in 2000 and Iran in 2001.  If the missiles were made operational, they could strike Israel if launched from Iran and Japan if fired from China or its neighbor, North Korea.  The Japanese government reportedly is worried that the six missiles allegedly shipped to China could have ended up in North Korea, which claims to possess nuclear weapons. ..

The [defendant's] attorney said the missiles sent to Iran and China were manufactured in 1987, had a service life of eight years, had been stored since 1992 in a way that did not meet standards, lacked parts and were missing the technical documents needed to use them, Itar-Tass reported."

The state prosecutor says it was a criminal group, but a legislator mainatins that the Ukrspetsexport, the state-owned arms sale monopoly was involved.

  7:43:27 AM  permalink  

daily link  Friday, March 18, 2005

AnywhereUSB - USB Over IP: "AnywhereUSB [can] connect USB devices anywhere on a wired or wireless LAN, while eliminating the need for locally-attached host PCs.  AnywhereUSB/5 provides five USB ports, which deliver the same Plug and Play user experience as onboard USB ports. Software drivers are loaded onto a host PC or server, enabling remote devices to communicate with the host, without changing existing application software. Peripheral devices can be centrally managed and monitored from a remote server or PC via an IP address."  $300 list, $250 through resellers, $200 under advertised developer demo program.  11:40:43 AM  permalink  

Watchport USB Sensors: "The Watchport Series is the first complete line of Plug and Play USB devices for 24/7 environmental monitoring. Choose from sensors for proximity, distance, acceleration/tilt, humidity/temperature, water and temperature. The Watchport Series also includes the Watchport/V USB camera. .. Watchport Manager application software provides centralized device status and historical data logging, and allows the easy integration of multiple Watchport devices without additional software development. The customizable software can send email, beeper or phone alerts when undesirable conditions are detected.."  Devices are small and USB-powered, $200 list, $150-190 through resellers, $130 under advertised developer demo program.  11:36:36 AM  permalink  

daily link  Thursday, March 17, 2005

China's Oil Thirst Could Push It Toward Fuel Efficiency; Eye On Solar And Wind: "Bryant Tong, managing director of privately held Nth Power, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that invests in energy and tech firms, says China's hunger for oil and other fuels is making its officials aware they need better ways to use and monitor energy. Tong doubles as chairman and president of the nonprofit China/U.S. Energy Efficiency Alliance, a board that advises Chinese officials on how to use energy more efficiently. ..

IBD: What types of technology is China considering to make its energy consumption more efficient?

Tong: The simple answer is products such as energy-efficient commercial lighting, commercial and residential air conditioning, industrial motors and other systems.

IBD: Can China's energy problems be solved just by using such products?

Tong: No. You need to set up an infrastructure that's backed by the right policies and programs. That's where the China/U.S. Energy Efficiency Alliance comes in. We work with other groups, like the National Resources Defense Council, a U.S. think tank, to help Chinese officials pinpoint the best practices and energy-efficient products that have worked in the U.S. ..

IBD: What types of digital and online technology is China eyeing to make energy use more efficient?

Tong: A lot of (it) will be energy monitoring technology. The Internet is a huge enabler to track energy use by factories and citizens. There are new types of sensors to help the Chinese monitor and control energy use.

IBD: What about using solar and wind energy?

Tong: China is looking at different projects in solar and wind. There was a report that GE is selling wind turbines to China. Right now, China's main focus is on more efficient hydro-energy projects. It's mainly dam-type stuff. ..

IBD: What concrete steps has China already taken to curb energy use?

Tong: They've implemented fuel efficiency standards that are tougher on SUVs than in the U.S. China is also on the verge of enacting a fuel oil tax to curb consumption.

IBD: Doesn't China have access to oil reserves in Central Asia and the South China Sea region that can supply more oil and lessen its need to conserve fuel?

Tong: China is a huge net importer of oil. Regardless of what reserves they have, they are importing tremendous amounts of oil, and their projections of what they'll be needing are enormous as well. .. The Chinese people know they are at the beginning of a new era. Growth prospects are enormous, with China leapfrogging Japan last year as the second-largest oil-importing country. They know they have to be fuel efficient."

  10:01:07 PM  permalink  

China's Boom Brings Fear of an Electricity Breakdown: "According to Zhang Jun, a prominent Chinese economist who has made a comparative study of China and India, China consumes 3 times the energy and 15 times the amount of steel as its neighbor, even though the Chinese economy is only roughly twice as large, and is growing only about 10 percent faster than India's.  Part of this picture comes from an intensive focus on manufacturing and exports, which many economists say has led to overindustrialization and empty growth. A lot of the responsibility for wastefulness can be laid to duplication, with each province - and indeed many city governments - simultaneously pushing for the same kind of growth..

"China will definitely be facing a huge, huge challenge in a decade or so if the growth patterns don't change," said Dr. Zhang, who is the director of the China Center for Economic Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. "Ours is an extreme case of the East Asian model, and we are coming quickly toward the limitations in terms of the way we use energy, in terms of the environment, and even in terms of labor." ..

The toll on China's environment from this growth-at-any-cost strategy has been truly alarming. China's official development goal is to build what the government calls a well-off society by the year 2020, yet today the very growth that makes such dreams permissible has left China with 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities, according to the World Bank.   Using standards that are relatively lax when compared with those of the United Nations, the Chinese government itself reckons that fewer than half of the country's cities have acceptably breathable air.  The government also says that 90 percent of urban residents face serious water pollution problems. By another estimate, 700 million Chinese must make do with contaminated drinking water. Even the country's seas are increasingly under siege from industrial pollution and are regularly choked by red tide infestations.

If the country's galloping energy needs have caught people's attention throughout China, mobilizing resources to protect the environment has been far more difficult."

  9:56:24 PM  permalink  

China enacts first auto fuel-efficiency standards: Oct 2004: "China has introduced its first fuel-efficiency standards for passenger cars, moving to control soaring oil consumption and ensure foreign automakers share their latest technology, the government said Friday. .. Initially some foreign carmakers opposed the plans, fearing the added costs of compliance. Foreign manufacturers have also urged China to force suppliers to clean up the substandard diesel and gasoline fuel now sold throughout the country, complaining that bad fuel ruins high-tech engines. ..

Though not particularly stringent, the new requirements are stricter than U.S. standards, which haven't been updated for more than 20 years, [Energy Foundation official] Yang noted. American fuel efficiency standards are calculated using the average fuel use of the entire fleet sold by an automaker. In China, similar to Japan, the standards require that each model sold meet the criteria, Yang said.  The first phase of the standards will be implemented from July 2005, with a stricter second phase from 2008 for new models introduced to China, the research center said. "

  9:52:32 PM  permalink  

China - US Energy Efficiency Alliance: "As a coalition between governments, businesses and NGOs, the China-U.S. Energy Efficiency Alliance will be helping China to fuel its economic growth by tapping the highly cost-effective option of energy efficiency. In partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Alliance has been invited by governments in China, such as Shanghai and Jiangsu, to provide regulatory consultation and training assistance. The assistance will help these governments transfer and adopt effective programs to quickly realize the benefits of energy efficiency. " Interesting public-private effort.  Supported by Environmental Entrepreneurs ( and NRDC.

A related effort, also based in San Francisco: EF China: "In March 1999, after a series of meetings and consultations with scientists, policy-makers, business leaders, and analysts in China and the United States, the staff and boards of The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and The Energy Foundation launched the China Sustainable Energy Program. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation joined as a funding partner in 2002. The program's mission is: To assist in China's transition to a sustainable energy future by promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. "

  9:47:04 PM  permalink  

Which War Is This Anyway? "research for this piece by the Center on Law and Security at NYU School of Law suggests, just about all the major captures of significant al-Qaeda figures (or figures claimed to be significant) have been made not by the American military (a blunt instrument indeed when it came to the capture of men like Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, or countless others) but by law enforcement. Here is a listing of a number of the alleged terrorist figures, large and small, who were captured in the post-9/11 years (arranged by name, place and time of apprehension, whom apprehended by [LA stands for "Local Authorities"], and current custody if known):  .. [40 people listed] As you'll note, with few exceptions, these men were taken by "local authorities." "  I wonder how many have been killed by the military; at least a few in Afghanistan and Yemen.  11:25:29 AM  permalink  

daily link  Tuesday, March 15, 2005 > More Columns: Nifty.  Amazon's A9 search engine can add columns of specialized searches to your search results, for a more specialized and personalized search experience.  Reminds me of using the Google taskbar tool, but from a website instead of a desktop tool, and with the easy ability for third parties to add new search services.  10:25:14 PM  permalink  

Group Leaves Social Security Overhaul Bloc: Cracks in the GOP.  "Signaling more troubles ahead for President Bush's campaign to overhaul Social Security, a group representing the nation's biggest financial companies said Monday that it had decided not to renew its membership in a business coalition raising millions of dollars to back the effort.

The Financial Services Forum, which represents chief executives from such corporate heavyweights as American Express, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, was a co-founder of the Coalition for the Modernization and Protection of America's Social Security, or Compass. But it left the coalition last month after its members failed to agree on Bush's plan to let workers divert some of their payroll tax into individual investment accounts...

[It was] the latest indication of the conflicting pressures facing corporate executives — on one side, a White House eager for their backing on Bush's top domestic priority and on the other, corporate shareholders wary of endangering profits by entering a politically charged battle that could alienate customers and some investors. Trepeta said the forum had helped to create Compass to push for Social Security restructuring in general, and it was not prepared to become embroiled in a highly partisan war over private investment accounts...

The forum's shift follows the decision by two securities firms — Edward Jones and Waddell & Reed — to drop out of a related lobbying group set up to promote private accounts on Capitol Hill, the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security. ..

Financial services companies have come under particular pressure from opponents of private accounts, especially the AFL-CIO. These critics charge that the companies stand to benefit from Bush's plan to let workers divert taxes into stocks and bonds that the companies would manage. The AFL-CIO wrote to Lazio on Monday demanding to know where his group's members stood on private accounts and calling on the forum to "disavow" its support for the accounts. Because labor unions control large amounts of money for investment, through pension and mutual funds and as institutional shareholders, they have strong leverage with brokerage and financial services firms. The AFL-CIO has organized demonstrations against some firms; more are planned this month against Charles Schwab and Wachovia. Schwab officials have said they remain neutral on private accounts. ..

The forum represents 20 large firms and is the first known defection from Compass, which is raising an estimated $20 million to promote private accounts as part of a campaign coordinated with the White House and the Republican National Committee. 

William Patterson, an AFL-CIO official who has helped organize the federation's efforts to pressure corporations into withdrawing from the White House-backed coalitions, said Monday that he "applauded" the forum's decision. He said the group's move might heighten pressure on other financial services groups, such as the Securities Industry Assn., whose membership list overlaps that of the forum, to follow suit.  "The position that the industry associations have taken was untenable — that you can be in an advocacy position while your members are telling the investing public that they're neutral or not taking a position," said Patterson, director of the AFL-CIO's investment office. "We could not find a single firm that would stand by the Compass position." "

  10:01:23 PM  permalink  

Intel's mesh: 802.11s: "Intel has unveiled its first proposals for 802.11s, a new mesh wireless networking standard.. W. Steven Conner, wireless network architect at Intel and technical editor of the IEEE's 802.11s task group, told engineers at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco .. Although mesh networks are already in use for very large deployments in cities such as Taipei, and in some industry sectors, none of the systems interoperate or are suitable for domestic or office environments, Conner claimed. The 802.11s group, which met for the first time in July 2004, has just issued its first call for proposals, and Intel is keen for the new standard to cover domestic and small business environments.

Intel's proposals build on top of existing standards, such as 802.11a/b/g wireless transmission protocols and 802.11i security, and is compatible with them. It adds extra functions to allow wireless nodes to discover each other, authenticate and establish connections, and to work out the most efficient route for a particular task. This includes the concept of quality of service..

The company is also introducing the idea of Mesh Portals -- devices that know how to connect complete mesh networks to other, potentially non-mesh systems such as classic 802.11 networks, new standards such as 802.11n, broadband access points or different wireless technologies such as Ultrawideband and mobile data sources.

Although some recent wireless standardisation efforts have had problems due to entrenched opposing views, Intel thinks there is little risk of this with 802.11s.  The standardisation process is expected to produce a firm proposal towards the end of 2006 or the beginning of 2007, with ratification following a year later. .. Intel is hoping to promote the idea of a core set of standards that work with small meshes of up to around 25 or so reasonably static nodes in close proximity, but in the context of an extensible framework that allows many different mesh models to be implemented. Intel says this should mean anyone with different ideas will be free to implement them, but always in a way that interoperates cleanly with the core protocols.  By limiting the initial core functions, the company says, the additional amount of processing required in the network nodes will be easily managed by the existing class of network adaptors and consumer electronic devices, and as no changes need to be made to existing hardware 802.11s-compatible equipment should reach the market quickly. " (thanks, Mauro!)

  8:55:24 PM  permalink  

daily link  Monday, March 14, 2005

Apollo 11 - 17 Mission First man on the Moon: continues to collect great quicktime VR images, these from the moon missions of 30 years ago.  10:26:12 PM  permalink  

New CalCEF $30 Million Fund for California's Clean Energy Industry: "CalCEF's investment strategy will focus exclusively on clean energy, including renewables, energy efficiency, energy storage, and enabling technologies and services. Under the terms of the agreements, the venture capital firms will make equity investments in clean energy companies on behalf of CalCEF. .. CalCEF has allocated $8.5 million to each of the three funds for a total of $25.5 million. Nth Power and Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) will each directly manage an investment portfolio totaling $8.5 million, with Draper Fisher Jurvetson's allocation to be managed through DFJ AltaTerra, a DFJ affiliate fund launched to make investments in the clean technology sector. These managers will also match each dollar invested on behalf of CalCEF with its own investments in order to maximize market impact. CalCEF will also participate as a limited partner in VantagePoint Venture Partners. The remaining $4.5 million has been reserved by the CalCEF Board for future program development.

Nth Power estimates that venture capitalists invested approximately $500 million in US-based energy-tech companies in 2004, representing well over 2% of all VC investing. " 

More from SF Chronicle: "Although PG&E provided the clean energy fund's seed money, it no longer has any control over the fund, Bicker said. The $30 million, which will be distributed over five years, is drawn from the utility's shareholder money and not from utility bills, she said.  PG&E did, however, pick three of the fund's board members, while the California Public Utilities Commission picked another three. That initial group of six then chose the board's last three members.  The resulting board mixes financiers with academics and government regulators. Michael Peevey, the PUC president, serves as the board chairman."

  10:38:42 AM  permalink  

daily link  Sunday, March 13, 2005

Cheney, the Energy Task Force, and Iraq: Why was (and is) it important to the administration to keep the work of the energy task force secret? "For months there has been a debate in Washington about when the Bush Administration decided to go to war against Saddam. In Ron Suskind’s recent book “The Price of Loyalty,” former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill charges that Cheney agitated for U.S. intervention well before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Additional evidence that Cheney played an early planning role is contained in a previously undisclosed National Security Council document, dated February 3, 2001. The top-secret document, written by a high-level N.S.C. official, concerned Cheney’s newly formed Energy Task Force. It directed the N.S.C. staff to coöperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the “melding” of two seemingly unrelated areas of policy: “the review of operational policies towards rogue states,” such as Iraq, and “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.”

A source who worked at the N.S.C. at the time doubted that there were links between Cheney’s Energy Task Force and the overthrow of Saddam. But Mark Medish, who served as senior director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian affairs at the N.S.C. during the Clinton Administration, told me that he regards the document as potentially “huge.” He said, “People think Cheney’s Energy Task Force has been secretive about domestic issues,” referring to the fact that the Vice-President has been unwilling to reveal information about private task-force meetings that took place in 2001, when information was being gathered to help develop President Bush’s energy policy. “But if this little group was discussing geostrategic plans for oil, it puts the issue of war in the context of the captains of the oil industry sitting down with Cheney and laying grand, global plans.”"  The case is still in the courts, sent back to the appellate court by the Supreme Court in June 2004.  Thanks to Salon's recent scandal sheet.

  10:54:11 PM  permalink  

Opentopia webcams: 1130 webcams available, at random or by location, with an option for animation of a few recent shots.  10:31:01 PM  permalink  

Listen to the Admiral: "Bobby" Inman on intelligence and the Bush crowd.  A good short read.  "Slate: Does this business—with Casey and George Bush Sr.—go back to when Donald Rumsfeld suggested making George Bush the head of the CIA in 1975?

Inman: The standard rumor at the time was that Rumsfeld, as chief of staff, had persuaded President Ford to appoint George H.W. Bush as director of Central Intelligence, assuming that that got rid of a potential competitor for the presidency.

Slate: Donald Rumsfeld had his eye on the presidency?

Inman: Oh, yes. Yes. In '75. … He was looking forward. You know, Ford was going to run in '76, so Rumsfeld had his eye on '80. But it was a clever job of, you know, sending Bush out there—"He's buried. He'll never come back to be a presidential candidate."

Slate: Some people think he was given the directorship of the CIA because he had a CIA background and they mention that his father, Prescott Bush, was a member of the OSS. …

Inman: No, no, no. None of that's valid.

Slate: That's not true? It was really political considerations?

Inman: Absolutely.  ..

Slate: What do you make of the pardons that George Bush Sr. gave to many of the people involved with the Iran-Contra situation?

Inman: Loyalty. They [the Bush family] give loyalty and they prize loyalty. I can remember—I don't want to identify the individual—but a very prominent Democrat, who compared looking at Carter and then Reagan, and then Bush, and observed that many of the people around Carter were totally disloyal to him.

Slate: Interesting that Rumsfeld's disloyalty to Bush Sr. would be rewarded by Bush Jr.

Inman: Certainly Rumsfeld didn't get the job in Defense through personal loyalty to Bush; he got it because Cheney was his sponsor...

Slate: .. Paul Wolfowitz; we saw a lot of him and the neocons in the Iraq war run-up. They have virtually disappeared. Why is that?

Inman: They don't want to take the blame. … [T]hey were willing to take credit for things earlier; they don't want to take blame.

Slate: Who is going to take the blame?

Inman: I think we'd better stop there."

  10:28:20 PM  permalink  

USB SIM card interface:  Tiny, cheap USB device to read and write mobile phone SIM cards, to download or change phonebook entries, messages, and ring tones.  5:05:55 PM  permalink  

Europeans Investigate CIA Role in Abductions:  We may learn more about CIA kidnappings from European magistrates and media.  "three official investigations that have surfaced in the past year into renditions believed to have taken place in Western Europe. Although the CIA usually carries out the operations with the help or blessing of friendly local intelligence agencies, law enforcement authorities in Italy, Germany and Sweden are examining whether U.S. agents may have broken local laws by detaining terrorist suspects on European soil and subjecting them to abuse or maltreatment. "  5:00:45 PM  permalink  

Solaris Zones Feature: Good intro to "Solaris Containers technology, a way to virtualize system resources and use multiple software partitions with one instance of the OS."   Built into Solaris 10.  I wonder if it runs on Intel x86 hardware; and if so, if it would run in a Solaris vm  under vmware.  I don't have an application in mind, just curious.  8:48:38 AM  permalink  

daily link  Friday, March 11, 2005

Powerline connectivity: "Three Japanese consumer electronics giants have created a new technology to transport Internet and media signals around the home via the electricity network. .. Sony, Mitsubishi and Matsushita-owned Panasonic have set up the SECA powerline alliance.   They have developed a system to transfer 170 Megabits per second of data through the power lines of a home, Panasonic researcher Ingo Chmielewski told journalists at the electronics trade fair CeBIT"  1:06:48 AM  permalink  

daily link  Thursday, March 10, 2005

Vizioncore: Backup and Control for VMWare ESX: Vizioncore provides products for ESX management that grew out of a consulting company.  For example, "esxRanger CLI runs on a windows host and can be scheduled to perform online hot backups of guest operating systems on VMware ESX Server. [It] compresses the disks before sending them to the destination server [with] NO Agents needed on the ESX Servers or the guest operating systems. .. esxRanger CLI uses the standard COM interface provided by VMware for adding and committing REDO logs. While it is possible to achieve a similar functionality with scripting, there are many hidden costs and known bugs to consider."  60-day eval available, starts at $125/server. "  A hardware appliance for swappable hard disk backup is under development.

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daily link  Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Google Desktop Search Plug-ins:  Now there's an SDK to extend the Google Desktop search, to things like IM and IRC sessions, intranet pages crawled to your desktop, odd file formats (like *.url, *.vb), and open office documents.  There's also a Firefox add-in to integrate desktop search into the browser better.  Maybe someone will do an RSS search that returns whole items, rather than page excerpts (which I use all the time to look up stuff on my own weblog, and bloglines and other services do for other blogs).  Makes we wish for a package that integrated all this into a simple-to-install linux (or even coLinux) desktop. [thanks for the tip, John]

  9:41:20 AM  permalink  

vnc2swf - Screen Recorder: "Vnc2swf is a screen recording tool for X-Window (X11), Windows and Mac OS Desktop. Vnc2swf captures live motion of a screen through VNC protocol and converts it a Macromedia Flash(TM) movie (.swf). "  9:35:55 AM  permalink  

daily link  Monday, March 07, 2005

The Sharecropper Society: Excerpts from Berkshire Hathaway's annual report.  "Berkshire owned about $21.4 billion of foreign exchange contracts at year end [i.e. 2004], spread among 12 currencies. As I mentioned last year, holdings of this kind are a decided change for us. .. The decline in [the dollar's] value has already been substantial, but is nevertheless likely to continue. ..

other countries and their citizens now own a net of about $3 trillion of the U.S. A decade ago their net ownership was negligible .. Should we continue to run current account deficits comparable to those now prevailing, the net ownership of the U.S. by other countries and their citizens a decade from now will amount to roughly $11 trillion. And, if foreign investors were to earn only 5% on that net holding, we would need to send a net of $.55 trillion of goods and services abroad every year merely to service the U.S. investments then held by foreigners. At that date, a decade out, our GDP would probably total about $18 trillion [sot the US] would then be delivering 3% of its annual output to the rest of the world simply as tribute for the overindulgences of the past. ..  A country that is now aspiring to an “Ownership Society” will not find happiness in -– and I’ll use hyperbole here for emphasis -– a “Sharecropper’s Society.” "

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ObjectGraph Dictionary: Nifty demo of a dictionary that looks up with every character typed into an HTML form. Like Google suggest. The best part: they document How to do it.  From ObjectGraph, a software contracting firm.  1:00:03 PM  permalink  

Radio Time: "TiVo for radio? You bet! Just like TiVo, you can listen, pause, fast forward, or move radio as MP3 files with RadioTime software. Listen to your favorite programs --anytime, anywhere. Record one airing or every broadcast of your favorite programs."  Wonder if it has made peace with the RIAA?  12:49:41 PM  permalink  

frontline: high stakes in cyberspace: Paul Saffo in 1995 on PBS:  Fun to read the old stuff.  Paul Saffo is remarkably on-target, 10 years later.  This article mentions "macro-myopia: A pattern where our hopes and our expectations or our fears about the threatened impact of some new technology causes us to overestimate its short term impacts and reality always fails to meet those inflated expectations. And as a result our disappointment then leads us to turn around and underestimate the long term implications and I can guarantee you this time will be no different. The short term impact of this stuff will be less than the hype would suggest but the long term implications will be vastly larger than we can possibly imagine today."  I've since encoutered Gartner's Hype Cycle, which they say they started to use also in 1995, with a graphic version of this insight. 

I found this when looking for a reference to an aphorism that I think comes from Saffo.   The aphorism:  Over two years, things change much less than we think they will; but over ten years, they change more than we imagine. 

It makes me wonder about the timeframe in between, say 5 to 7 years in the future, when major impacts will be felt from things we know are changing now, despite hype (digital sensors and surveillance) and disillusion (wind and solar power).

  12:45:30 PM  permalink  

BrightPlanet - Deep Query Manager:  Enterprise software to search online data bases and combine the results.  Emphasis is on the "deep web" that is inaccessible to search engines.  They claim preconfiguration to 70,000 online databases and specialty search engines, extendible to include in-house databases, with a tool to automatically select the relevant engines for a query if desired.  One package component does tracking, executing stored queries at intervals and reporting new results.  9:47:24 AM  permalink  

daily link  Sunday, March 06, 2005

WordPress: "an elegant, well-architectured personal publishing system built on PHP and MySQL and licensed under the GPL. .. WordPress is fresh software, but its roots and development go back to 2001. It is a mature and stable product. We hope by focusing on user experience and web standards we can create a tool different from anything else out there. "  11:31:47 PM  permalink  

iftop: display bandwidth usage on an interface: "iftop does for network usage what top(1) does for CPU usage. It listens to network traffic on a named interface and displays a table of current bandwidth usage by pairs of hosts. Handy for answering the question "why is our ADSL link so slow?". "  11:16:58 PM  permalink  

daily link  Saturday, March 05, 2005

Hundreds of Miles Per Gallon:  Fareed Zacharia joins in and gets the vision:  "the car of the future, a plug-in hybrid with a flexible-fuel tank".  The engine has to be flexible with fuel, accepting ethanol, methanol, and gasoline, and the hybrid has to be "pluggable" so that it can use low-cost nighttime electricity.  With much less fuel required, a high proportion can be non-petroleum derived (ie, ethanol, biodiesel, methanol, etc) so that hundreds of miles per gallon of petroleum products becomes possible -- all with today's technology.  Naturally, FZ wants this mostly for national security reasons, but greenhouse gases would be reduced as well.  10:13:18 PM  permalink  

John Howard - Virtual Server, Virtual PC: John Howard, IT Pro Evangelist, Microsoft UK, keeps a blog on many interesting topic, especially MS virtual computing products.  Recent samples:  how to share a vm desktop with VMRC with 2 or more simultaneous remote sessions; and how to use WMIC (Windows Management Interface Commands) to generate html pages with Windows system info.  9:04:11 PM  permalink  

Sysprepping a virtual machine: Details on use of the Windows Server sysprep command when cloning virtual machines.  3:54:35 PM  permalink  

Howto for UML: Steps for installation and use of the mature User Mode Linux platform. For new development, see FAUmachine: "We are working on an Open Source Virtual Machine which started out as a User Mode Linux, and which we therefore used to call UMLinux. Since the project has evolved from a User Mode Linux to a Virtual Machine we have chosen to give it the more appropriate name FAUmachine... FAUmachine development is supported by the European Community."  3:49:57 PM  permalink  

Linux-VServer: "the vserver project: It allows you to run linux inside linux: Any distributions inside any distributions. Each virtual server has its own packages, its own services, its own users and is confined to using some IP numbers only and some area(s) of the file system. You can think of them as virtual machines."  All vms are linux, and they share the host kernel.   So there is essentially no CPU overhead.  VM disks can be resized, and vms moved easily, just like other vm solutions, getting many vm advantages with almost no overhead costs.  Active development.  3:48:14 PM  permalink  

Fingerprinting PCs wherever they connect to the Net: ". A doctoral student at the University of California has conclusively fingerprinted computer hardware remotely, allowing it to be tracked wherever it is on the Internet.  In a paper on his research, primary author and Ph.D. student Tadayoshi Kohno said: "There are now a number of powerful techniques for remote operating system fingerprinting, that is, remotely determining the operating systems of devices on the Internet. We push this idea further and introduce the notion of remote physical device fingerprinting ... without the fingerprinted device's known cooperation."

The potential applications for Kohno's technique are impressive. For example, "tracking, with some probability, a physical device as it connects to the Internet from different access points, counting the number of devices behind a NAT even when the devices use constant or random IP identifications, remotely probing a block of addresses to determine if the addresses correspond to virtual hosts (for example, as part of a virtual honeynet), and unanonymising anonymised network traces. .. One could also use our techniques to help track laptops as they move, perhaps as part of a Carnivore-like project [or to] obtain information about whether two devices on the Internet, possibly shifted in time or IP addresses, are actually the same physical device."

The technique works by "exploiting small, microscopic deviations in device hardware: clock skews." In practice, Kohno's paper says, his techniques "exploit the fact that most modern TCP stacks implement the TCP timestamps option from RFC 1323 whereby, for performance purposes, each party in a TCP flow includes information about its perception of time in each outgoing packet. A fingerprinter can use the information contained within the TCP headers to estimate a device's clock skew and thereby fingerprint a physical device. .. Our techniques report consistent measurements when the measurer is thousands of miles, multiple hops, and tens of milliseconds away from the fingerprinted device, and when the fingerprinted device is connected to the Internet from different locations and via different access technologies. Further, one can apply our passive and semi-passive techniques when the fingerprinted device is behind a NAT or firewall. .. For all our methods, we stress that the fingerprinter does not require any modification to or cooperation from the fingerprintee." Kohno and his team tested their techniques on many operating systems, including Windows XP and 2000, Mac OS X Panther, Red Hat and Debian Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD and even Windows for Pocket PCs 2002. ..

Although the paper says that "It has long been known that seemingly identical computers can have disparate clock skews," it goes on to conclude that "the main advantage of our techniques ... is that our technique can be mountable by adversaries thousands of miles and multiple hops away." " [via Mitch Kapor]

  11:30:33 AM  permalink  

daily link  Friday, March 04, 2005

How America Became the World's Dispensable Nation: "A decade ago, American triumphalists mocked those who argued that the world was becoming multipolar rather than unipolar. Where was the evidence of balancing against the US? they asked. Today the evidence of foreign cooperation to reduce American pri macy is everywhere - from the increasing importance of regional trade blocs that exclude the US to international space projects and military exercises in which the US is conspicuous by its absence. [examples in the article]

It is true that the US remains the only country capable of projecting military power throughout the world. But unipolarity in the military sphere, narrowly defined, is not preventing the rapid development of multipolarity in the geopolitical and economic arenas - far from it. And the other great powers, with the exception of the UK, are content to let the US waste blood and treasure on its doomed attempt at hegemony in the Middle East.

That the rest of the world is building institutions and alliances that shut out the US should come as no surprise. The view that American leaders can be trusted to use a monopoly of military and economic power for the good of humanity has never been widely shared outside the US. The trend toward multipolarity has probably been accelerated by the truculent unilateralism of the Bush administration.. In recent memory, nothing could be done without the US. But today, most international institution-building of any long-term importance in global diplomacy and trade occurs without American participation.  In 1998 Madeleine Albright, then US secretary of state, said of the US: "We are the indispensable nation." By backfiring, the unilateralism of Mr Bush has proved her wrong. The US, it turns out, is a dispensable nation. Europe, China, Russia, Latin America and other regions and nations are quietly taking measures whose effect, if not sole purpose, will be to cut America down to size."

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daily link  Wednesday, March 02, 2005

14 CDM projects in the Philippines: "The Philippines is ready to participate in the “clean development mechanism” under the Kyoto Protocol and 14 CDM-eligible projects have been identified for endorsement to investors, Environment Secretary Michael T. Defensor said on Wednesday.  These projects are meant to limit emissions of ozone-depleting greenhouse gases while promoting sustainable development. .. “Three [projects] have already been endorsed to the World Bank Prototype Carbon Financing,” Defensor said .. Bangui’s 25-megawatt (MW) North Wind Project, Victoria’s 50-MW cogeneration project, and First Farmers’s 30-MW cogeneration project. "  9:36:22 AM  permalink  

Kyoto Protocol means green energy projects for India: "The Kyoto Protocol will bring into force a clean development mechanism (CDM) wherein developed nations would be able to trade part of their commitment to reducing greenhouse gasses by buying green energy credit from projects in developing countries like India. .. So far the government has endorsed 46 out of the 150 projects submitted for CDM credit to help them earn extra dollars.  Every tonne of carbon dioxide reduction through use of clean technology like wind, hydropower and biodegradable waste can fetch anywhere from $5-$6.

In the case of projects that reduce emission of methane gas, generated from municipal waste, the returns are expected to be 20 times more, while in the case of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which is 6,000 times more harmful than carbon dioxide, the returns are proportionately higher.

"With the carbon trading mechanism expected to bring in anywhere between five and six paise per unit of clean power generated to as much as 50-60 paise per unit, green energy will now be a profitable venture," Mathur told IANS.  [Ajay Mathur, president and CEO of Senergy Global, formerly with World Bank]

He cited the example of how Gujarat Fluorochemicals Ltd, by investing in a project to burn the HFCs being emitted into the air, is now getting revenue that will soon pay off its investment while helping to clean environment pollution. Gujarat Fluorochemicals was one of the first projects to be certified for CDM by Britain.

All clean energy projects that have been commissioned after January 2000 are eligible for certified carbon trading.  India has emerged as the largest supplier of projects followed by Brazil. China is expected to enter the market soon, with a difference, as the Chinese government would sell the emission reduction credits through mega projects, said Mathur.

"In the 46 projects that have been endorsed so far, there is no foreign funding upfront. But there are contracts in place that will bring in extra revenue apart from the income the project would have anyway generated," said Mathur, who is a key member of the Indian Carbon Market Group. ..

Over the next few years till 2012, the first phase of commitment for developed nations under the Kyoto Protocol, an estimated two to three billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions is to be reduced through energy efficiency, clean technology and other project like afforestation.

"These efforts are expected to generate around $12-$15 billion additional revenues for new clean energy projects. This should leverage investments of over $100-150 billion in clean energy globally. Given the present trend, India can expect at least one-third of the estimated investments," said Mathur.

An important facet of the CDM is it would help promote waste management projects on the lines of the Lucknow, Hyderabad and Chennai experiments to generate power from municipal waste.  This would not only help tackle growing mounds of biodegradable city waste but also reduce methane emission."  9:01:10 AM  permalink  

News: "The Asian Development Bank will introduce a new five-year loan programme for Pakistan and other member countries from 2006. Pakistan is expected to receive about $1 billion loans per year from the bank under the new programme, ADB Country Director in Pakistan Marshuk Shah said... in the coming two years, his bank would provide $500 million for transmission, distribution and renewable energy projects in Pakistan besides $200 million for wind, solar and other resources of alternative and renewable energy."  8:55:54 AM  permalink  

daily link  Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Nano for better batteries, fuel cells:  SRI scientist "Narang and other researchers have found ways to combine high energy density with high power using nanotechnology.  In SRI’s case, the approach involves using high aspect ratio nanomaterials, or nanofibers. The nanofibers are minutely small in one dimension (about 20 nanometers) so energy flows rapidly across them. But because they are, relatively speaking, long in the other dimension (50 to 200 nanometers) they can store much more energy than nanoparticles with small dimensions all around.  The result, Narang maintains, is a battery that can deliver about eight times the power of a traditional battery while providing comparable energy. Plus, there’s a bonus: The nanoscale dimensions that let energy move rapidly also allow the battery to recharge faster when the energy flow is reversed, a feature that’s important for hybrid cars designed to harvest energy from braking and use it to recharge the batteries.

Other organizations are working on the same problem. Ener1, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is researching enhancements for electrolytes and cathodes, using nano-structured powders for electrolytes and nano-structured, iron-disulfide for cathodes.  The company says that by combining its nano-structured, iron-disulfide cathode with its polymer electrolyte it can provide high energy and a long cycle life. ..

Batteries, however, are not the only nano-enhanced technology poised to augment alternative energy efforts. .. California-based Proton Power proposes using solid acid fuel cells to supplement diesel engines inside long-haul trucks. Currently, truckers idle their engines when resting to power heating, air conditioning and other amenities.  Proton Power would provide a supplemental fuel cell that truckers could use when not driving.  .. “The thinner the electrolyte layer,” [Proton's founder Calum] Chisolm said, “the more power.” Currently funded by friends and family, the California Institute of Technology spinout is looking at longer-term financing opportunities and broad markets.  ..

SRI is working on a form of solid oxide fuel cell that would use military-grade diesel fuel. The design takes advantage of nanostructures for catalysts and uses 200-nanometer powders for a thin electrolyte, upping the power in the same manner as Chisolm’s solid acid cell."

  9:43:34 AM  permalink  

Nanotech Startups Eye Solar Energy Spotlight: A short article from Investor's Business Daily in November 2004 spotlighted a few companies with comments from analysts: "At least three startups -- Nanosolar, Nanosys and Konarka Technologies -- are using nanotech to try to make solar energy more viable. In time, such work could become "world changing," said Josh Wolfe, a managing partner of nanotech-focused investment firm Lux Capital in New York. Lux has invested in Nanosys.  "All three of these firms have a different approach, but all of them are trying to create solar energy anywhere, any time," Wolfe said. 

Nanotech solar cells could come down to fossil-fuel prices within a few years, says Steven Milunovich, an analyst with Merrill Lynch. Electricity now costs 7 cents per kilowatt-hour in the U.S. and 19 cents in Japan. Solar cells run about 43 cents. "There could be significant adoption" if nanotech solar drops below 7 cents, said Milunovich in a recent research note. Nanotech could have "a significant impact" on the $3 billion-plus solar power market.  "Cheaper manufacturing plants and processes could make solar competitive with fossil fuels," he wrote.

Nanosolar, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is building nanotech panels that are 100 times thinner than current solar panels. This approach could let the firm mass-produce cheaper solar cells by printing them out like rolls of newspaper.  .. Nanosolar plans to make test products next year and go to full production the following year. ..

Nanosys, also based in Palo Alto, has partnered with Japanese corporate giant Matsushita (NYSE:MC - News) to make nano materials into special shapes known as tetrapods. This material is laid onto plastic substrates that are produced like photo film to make nanopanels that are more flexible and smaller than current rooftop solar panels. By encasing such solar panels between windowpanes, skyscrapers might someday double as self-contained power plants..

Konarka of Lowell, Mass., is developing plastic sheets that are embedded with titanium oxide nanocrystals. The crystals are coated with light-absorbing dyes."

  9:24:35 AM  permalink  

Nanotechnology for Clean Energy and Resources: Abstract of a paper presented in Oct 2004 by Stephen L. Gillett of Georgia Tech, and Ralph Merkle of Foresight Institute.  Key applications are efficiency, renewables, energy management, and new materials.  9:18:29 AM  permalink  

CalCars Aims to Green-Tune Popular Hybrid to Build PRIUS+:  CalCars is popularizing the pluggable hybrid car (PHEV).  Their site links to several groups that already modify Prius and other hybrids.  9:02:54 AM  permalink  

Nanosponge for hydrogen:  "The materials made by Xuebo Zhao and colleagues are composed of long carbon chains linked by metal atoms. When they are crystallized, these molecules frame cavities less than a nanometer across, connected by windows that are even smaller than a hydrogen molecule. While the cavities are being filled, hydrogen can wriggle through these windows because the carbon chains are flexible.

But once the cavities fill, the chains lose their room to flex, forcing the windows closed. As a result, the material can be loaded with hydrogen gas at high pressure, but does not release the gas when pressures drop to normal, essentially forming a molecule-sized pressure seal. "

  8:24:01 AM  permalink  

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