Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog


daily link  Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Uncle Sam: Jekyll or Hyde? "I think that the Bush administration has a Jekyll-and-Hyde problem—a contradictory attitude toward the war on terror. On the one hand it has wholeheartedly embraced the view that America must change its image in the Muslim world. It wants to stop being seen as the supporter of Muslim tyrants and instead become the champion of Muslim freedoms. President Bush and his secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, are transforming American policy in this realm, and while some of the implementation has been spotty, the general thrust is clear and laudable. ..

But while Dr. Jekyll makes speeches by day on Arab liberty, some nights he turns into Mr. Hyde. There is within the Bush administration another impulse, a warrior ethos that believes in beating up bad guys without much regard for such niceties as international law. Excessive concern for such matters would be a sign of weakness, the kind of thing liberals do. Men like Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld see themselves above all else as tough guys. ..

Tough tactics in a darkened room in Abu Ghraib are not going to stay dark in a world of tiny cameras and recorders. And it's not just technology that's different, it's human attitudes. Today, when you release prisoners from Guantanamo, they don't return quietly to their villages in Waziristan. They hire lawyers, talk to human-rights organizations and organize public protests. And in a war for hearts and minds, the benefits of the intelligence gained might well be outweighed by the cost to America's image. Dr. Jekyll needs to explain this to Mr. Cheney, I mean Mr. Hyde. .. "

  10:36:21 PM  permalink  

Microsoft: No IE7 for Windows 2000: "With Internet Explorer 7 Beta 1 set to debut next month, Microsoft has quietly closed the door on Windows 2000 users planning to adopt the new Web browser. IE7 will require Windows XP Service Pack 2 due to internal security changes that rely on Microsoft's latest operating system release. .. Microsoft says the task is too complex due to security features not available in the older operating system. Company officials also noted that Windows 2000 is moving into the "Extended" support phase of Microsoft's product lifecycle as of June 30, 2005."  Sounds like an opening for Firefox; there are a lot of Win2k desktops and servers that won't upgrade.  9:18:04 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, May 27, 2005


The Long Tail: The dangers of "Headism"  Tight summary of the ideas and implications, comparing the head and tail in many dimensions.   12:23:35 PM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, May 26, 2005


R&T Efficiency Comparisons:  Interesting chart on this page compares today's cars, hybrids, and fuel cell cars, in terms of "well to tank" and "tank to wheel" efficiencies.  Combined into "well to wheel" figures, today's cars get 11% of well energy to the wheel, versus 15% for today's diesel, and 26% for diesel hybrids.  Fuel cells are predited to run 30% (which depends of course on the source of the hydrogen).    3:39:14 AM  permalink  

World Solar Industry Growth Jumped 70 Pct In 2004: " Last year, world solar cell production reached 1,256 megawatts (MW) .. That was a 67 percent increase over the 750 MW produced in 2003, according to PHOTON International, a German magazine.  "In Japan they're making solar cells because of high electricity prices," said Colin Murchie, director of legislative affairs at Solar Energy Industries Association. "Germany is boosting output because they want to meet Kyoto Protocol goals" .. In 2002 the world solar market increased 40 percent. "  3:20:38 AM  permalink  

Nanotechnology for Clean Energy and Resources: Good short summary of the ways nanotech makes more efficient use of resources.  3:16:19 AM  permalink  

Impacts of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy on Natural Gas Markets: Studies in 2003 and 2005 show how investments in electric efficiency cut natural gas demand and reduce natural gas prices, leading to major additional savings.  In the longer term, development of renewable energy sources lead to additional natural gas cost savings. 

From April 2005 full report:  "Our December 2003 report showed that, if policy initiatives to increase investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy were implemented, gas prices would fall by about 20% within five years, saving over $100 billion. Our findings were in-line with the recommendations of the National Petroleum Council’s major report on the future of natural gas in the United States and the Secretary of Energy’s call for increased focus on energy efficiency. However, no significant policy action has been taken to date.

Compared with our 2003 study, this updated analysis reflects a further tightening in natural gas markets. As a result, the price response to changes in natural gas demand from energy efficiency and renewable energy investments is greater than in the previous analysis ..

The energy efficiency measures proposed in this analysis are cost-effective based on reduced consumption alone, without the added benefits of reduced prices. It is important to note that while the direct benefits of energy efficiency investment flow to participating customers, the benefits of falling prices accrue to all customers. The national energy efficiency scenario will cost consumers $11 billion annually in 2010 and result in over $32 billion in consumer savings.. In the initial five years, energy efficiency produces most of the benefits. However, as we move into the second five years, the importance of renewable energy increases, with renewables becoming the dominant incremental effect in the final [five] years of the study..."

From a January 2005 summary:

  • Natural gas prices have risen by 42% since 1999.
  • Cutting electric use by 4.7% and gas by 4.1% results in a 25% reduction in natural gas prices.
  • There are price benefits nationwide even if efficiency is only pursued in one state or region.
  • Total investments of $22B in the first five years yield $142B in those years, and more later.  Most of the investment is in electric efficiency, most of the benefit comes through reduced gas prices.  The electric savings alone pay for the investments, with the gas price cuts additional.
  • Specific policy changes are itemized.
  2:50:44 AM  permalink  

Residential & Commercial Rooftops Make a Large U.S. Market for Solar Power: "A new study released by the Energy Foundation, and undertaken by Navigant Consulting, Inc. describes the vast market potential for rooftop solar photovoltaic systems (PV) in the United States. The study, "PV Grid Connected Market Potential in 2010 Under a Cost Breakthrough Scenario," provides an estimate of the market .. The state-by-state analysis [is] the first of its kind..

At a "breakthrough" price of $2.00-$2.50 per installed watt .. the annual market potential for grid-connected residential and commercial building PV applications is estimated at 2,900 MW, representing an annual market of about $6.6 billion (equipment and installations). .. California alone has the potential for about 40% of the total building rooftop market potential--through a combination of favorable sunlight levels and high retail energy prices. .. [The top 10 states account for 74%]

Rooftop space is not a constraining factor for solar development. Residential and commercial rooftop space in the U.S. could accommodate up to 710,000 MW of solar electric power (if all rooftops were fully utilized, taking into account proper orientation of buildings, shading from trees, HVAC equipment, and other solar access factors). For comparison, total electricity-generating capacity in the U.S. today is about 950,000 MW. .. Other distributed forms of PV electric generation, including ground-mounted PV, car ports, curtain walls (a type of commercial building window), and awnings could further add to the potential."  Assumptions made in the study: 

  • Today's installed costs are about $6/w residential and $4.60/w utility scale.  Business-as-usual would result in drops of 3% per year; their breakthrough scenario is an additional 50% drop to $2.50 or $2 per installed watt. 
  • Business-as-usual in 2010 offers average payback periods of 13-19 years.  Breakthrough prices offer 9-12 years.  If prices fell to $1.25 per installed watt, payback would be 7 years (some states under 5).
  • Alternate models of technology adoption were averaged to estimate gradual market growth. 
  • No new renewable portfolio standards, incentives, or time-of-day pricing was assumed.  No ongoing increase in natural gas prices was assumed. Any of these would accelerate adoption.
  • High upfront PV costs with long service life is assumed.  (Some new technologies may have shorter life with much lower upfront costs.)
  1:54:09 AM  permalink  

ADB Funds Solar Thermal Power Station in Morocco:  The African Development Bank is lending 136m Euros, and GEF is contributing additional funds.  "It will help raise the installed production capacity of the national electricity authority (ONE) from 200 to 250 MW and to inject about 1,590 GWh into the interconnected system, including 55 GWh from solar energy. ..  The Bank is a major partner of Morocco in the energy sector. It has financed 10 operations (9 projects and 1 study) in the energy sector for a total amount of UA 262.26 million. " Start-up date and duration: February 2005, 4 years.

  1:25:30 AM  permalink  

Nanotechnologists' new plastic can see in the dark (Jan 10/05): U of Toronto Professor Ted Sargent and his team used quantum dots trapped in lead and sulfur.  "“We made particles from semiconductor crystals which were exactly two, three or four nanometres in size. The nanoparticles were so small they remained dispersed in everyday solvents just like the particles in paint,” explains Sargent. Then, they tuned the tiny nanocrystals to catch light at very long wavelengths. The result – a sprayable infrared detector. ..

The discovery may also help in the quest for renewable energy sources. Flexible, roller-processed solar cells have the potential to harness the sun’s power, but efficiency, flexibility and cost are going to determine how that potential becomes practice, says Josh Wolfe [of Lux Capital]. “These flexible photovoltaics could harness half of the sun’s spectrum not previously accessed.” .. Professor Peter Peumans of Stanford University, reviewed the U of T team’s research.. “Our calculations show that, with further improvements in efficiency, combining infrared and visible photovoltaics could allow up to 30 per cent of the sun’s radiant energy to be harnessed, compared to six per cent in today’s best plastic solar cells.”

U of T graduate student Steve MacDonald carried out many of the experiments .. “The key was finding the right molecules to wrap around our nanoparticles,” he explains. “Too long and the particles couldn’t deliver their electrical energy to our circuit; too short, and they clumped up, losing their nanoscale properties. It turned out that one nanometer – eight carbon atoms strung together in a chain – was ‘just right’.”

  12:14:10 AM  permalink  

Firm to use PR methods on online media and the blogosphere:  I've been wondering when blogs and new media would attract PR professionals and political money.  In this case, it's someone from Fox and Cato.  "Next Generation Advertising has opened its doors in D.C. to produce online "virtual" public policy campaigns.   Founder Richard Pollock says the goal is to use what is known as "rich media," video/flash, audio and animation for "entertaining, compelling and interactive" campaigns that can be posted on a variety of online sites.  Pollock says Next Generation will also turn to influential Web-log sites run by bloggers, podcasters and video bloggers. Broadband now permits downloadable video to move around the Internet in a matter of days.  In an online campaign, Pollock says, policy advocates are free of the time limitations of 30- to 60-second TV spots and can reach out to specific audiences by advertising precisely where they visit. 

Pollock is a former Washington producer for ABC's Good Morning America and in 1993 won a daytime Emmy. He also was a senior producer for Fox News Sunday.  Before founding Next Generation, Pollock was executive vice president of Shandwick Public Affairs and vice president of communications for the Cato Institute." [Via John Furrier]

  12:04:19 AM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Samsung Builds Flash Based Disk Drive: "Samsung says it has developed a way to store up to 16GB of data using Flash memory, a development that could lead to extended battery life for notebook and tablet PCs. Flash memory has a power consumption that is five percent of today's hard disk drive, according to the company.  These solid-state disk (SSD) Flash-based drives will also provide faster access to data, at about two-and-a-half times the speed of current notebook hard drives. In tests, Samsung was able to read data at 57 megabytes per second (MBps) and write at 32MBps."  That's 2-3 GB/Min, comparable in my experience to desktop HD.

"Flash drives also offer the benefit of less noise and heat emissions. They are also less temperature- and humidity-sensitive, meaning Flash-based drives can be used in a wider array of applications and environments.  The disk drive itself will look much like a regular 1.8-inch hard disk drive, meaning manufacturers will have to make minimal adjustments to PC designs in order to incorporate the new drives. .. SSD Flash drives based on the new technology are expected on the market by August of this year."  They would be useful in off-grid locations, in developing countries or in sensor apps.  I wonder if the price will remain at today's $30-50/GB or will be lower.

  8:11:30 PM  permalink  

Web 2.0 programming:  First Flash MX, then AJAX, now more browser programming tools:

  • Dive Into Greasemonkey:  Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that allows you to write scripts that alter the web pages you visit.  Scripts can be shared.  Has a compiler that generates full Firefox extensions, and a script generator (called Platypus).
  • Piggy Bank 2.0: Piggy Bank is a Firefox extention that turns your regular web browser into a semantic web browser.  Supports scraping and sharing.  Uses Java for cross-platform consistency and deep functionality.   Code, a paper, and a primer online.

 

  8:34:09 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, May 23, 2005


Fundable: A web site for pooling money in small groups.  "Get it to happen or get your money back."  Could be great for non-profits, open-source coders or freelancers wanting to get paid for making a contribution, fans raising money to fund a concert, bulk buying, school projects, and more.  (How about a private lottery: if we all chip in, one of us gets to go somewhere amazing..) [From Hugh Pyle]

  11:35:26 PM  permalink  

Game skills pay off in real life: "there's a growing wave of research and firsthand reports about children, parents, workers, corporations and even medical patients experiencing notable benefits from computer or video games. There's also a push to change the mindset of people who dismiss video games as dangerous or worthless."  Cites a variety of studies.  10:52:20 PM  permalink  

SEFI: UNEP Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative: "SEFI is the UNEP Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative - a platform providing financiers with the tools, support, and global network needed to conceive and manage investments in the complex and rapidly changing marketplace for clean energy technologies.  SEFI's goal is to foster investment in sustainable energy projects by providing up-to-date investor information, facilitating deal origination, developing partnerships, and creating the momentum needed to shift sustainable energy from the margins of energy supply to the mainstream. "  Includes a Sustainable Energy Finance Directory of over 200 organizations. 

Related:  BASE: Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy: "BASE helps to build strategic partnerships between entrepreneurs and financiers to mobilize capital for sustainable energy in both developing and industrialized countries. BASE is a non-profit foundation and UNEP Collaborating Centre."  Offers links to related financing efforts.

  12:08:49 PM  permalink  

Global Village Energy Project: An information hub for sustainable energy in several developing countries.  "GVEP is a voluntary Partnership that brings together developing and industrialized country governments, public and private organizations, multilateral institutions, consumers and others in an effort to ensure access to modern energy services by the poor. "  Currently lists over 400 partners, 80 publications, and services to facilitate project finance.   Started in the World Bank, then shifted to ITDG in the UK.

  12:01:31 PM  permalink  

Foresight Institute:  A new theme and a new website.  "Foresight’s new mission is to ensure the beneficial implementation of nanotechnology."  It's a good change; I've been a member for 4 years and had advocated more of a focus on environmental issues and benefits.  Nice to see that of their six nanotech 'challenges', #1 is clean energy, #2 is water quality and supply, and #4 is agriculture.  8:38:40 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, May 20, 2005


When disaster strikes VMware: From IBM.  "This article gives you some guidance for system failures, including where to look and how to interpret the problems, and offers some answers on fixes, all within the VMware ESX framework. .. To aid in troubleshooting, you can categorize problems when a VMware ESX server fails in several ways, depending on the failure. The most common method is to split the categories into a four-way matrix with server and virtual machine problems on one axis and network and storage on the other axis. .."  8:31:13 PM  permalink  

Ontology is Overrated -- Categories, Links, and Tags: A rollup of Clay Shirky's writings on the collective organization of the web.  "It comes down ultimately to a question of philosophy. Does the world make sense or do we make sense of the world? If you believe the world makes sense, then anyone who tries to make sense of the world differently than you is presenting you with a situation that needs to be reconciled formally, because if you get it wrong, you're getting it wrong about the real world.

If, on the other hand, you believe that we make sense of the world, if we are, from a bunch of different points of view, applying some kind of sense to the world, then you don't privilege one top level of sense-making over the other. What you do instead is you try to find ways that the individual sense-making can roll up to something which is of value in aggregate, but you do it without an ontological goal. You do it without a goal of explicitly getting to or even closely matching some theoretically perfect view of the world. Critically, the semantics here are in the users, not in the system. This is not a way to get computers to understand things. .."

  9:07:59 AM  permalink  

China spending estimate reduced:  Reminds me of how DoD estimates of the Soviet military were overstated.  "The RAND Corporation, a research group that studies many issues for the Pentagon, estimated China's military spending totaled $31 billion to $38 billion in 2003, which it said was the most recent year for which full data was available. By contrast, the Defense Department has put the 2003 figure as high as $65 billion, 71 percent greater than the high end of RAND's estimate..

RAND estimated China's defense spending at 2.3 percent to 2.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2003. Using what it called newly available Chinese-language primary sources, it said this was 1.4 to 1.7 times the official Chinese number.  By comparison, U.S. defense spending was 3.8 percent of GDP in 2003, or about $417.5 billion. "

  12:09:37 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, May 19, 2005


Sober-N worm still growing: "the W32/Sober-N worm has now been reported attempting to break into computer systems in over 40 different countries, and shows no signs of slowing down. Since the worm first emerged on Monday it has dominated the chart of most commonly encountered viruses. At the time of writing it is accounting for 79.29% of all viruses seen by Sophos's monitoring stations around the world. Sophos experts calculate that the worm is now accounting for an astonishing 4.5% of all email (legitimate or otherwise) sent across the internet."  9:12:33 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Environmental Defense gets proactive about nanotech:  "The science of the very small has big potential: improved energy generation, information technology, health care delivery and a wide range of other applications, including some with potentially enormous environmental benefits. But as with any potentially revolutionary technology, it only makes sense to look before we leap.  .. New physical and chemical properties represent what's both exciting and worrisome about nanotechnology. While the ability of some nano particles to pass through a cell or skin could lead to breakthroughs in a cure for cancer or in the detection of Alzheimer's, these same features can pose environmental and health risks. .. Environmental Defense is starting to work with companies looking into this important new technology to make sure both positives and negatives are considered beforehand. We're also advocating to increase federal funding for research into nanotechnology's potential risks, and pushing to enhance safety regulations to ensure that nanotechnology products are properly evaluated before getting to market.

There is a flurry of activity around nanotechnology in government agencies and at scientific conferences. The U.S. government alone is investing approximately $1 billion per year in nanotechnology research and development.  We are pushing government to allocate at least 10% of that investment towards understanding the implications of the nanotechnology applications being developed. We are working with the International Council on Nanotechnolgy, the American National Standards Institute and the American Society for Testing and Materials, as they begin to develop consensus standards for several aspects of nanotechnology; such standards may help shape government regulations down the road. We're also exploring partnering with individual companies to develop risk management to develop standards, and sharing information with a wide array of scientific and environmental organizations. ..

This is the promising future of this exciting new science, and our hope is to ensure that with proper attention paid now to the risks, we can avoid the mistakes of the past while reaping the benefits that nanotechnology may bring. "

  12:25:44 PM  permalink  

Retirement at 70:  Calculations of effect of gradual increases in retirement age for social security and medicare.  " Under present law, it reaches 67 in 2027. That's too slow. Increasing it gradually to 70 by 2030 would require annual increases of about two months a year."  Adjusting early retirement from 62 to 66, and slight increases in progressivity of benefits, saves 3.5% of GDP by 2030.   12:49:41 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, May 16, 2005


Water Filters Rely on Nanotech: Report from the October 2004 NanoWater conference. "A slow, methodical transformation of the $400-billion-a-year water-management industry is currently in progress, and nanotechnology appears to be leading the way. .. Two products incorporating nanotechnology are going to hit the market within the next year and are already being tested in developing nations. .. Matrikx water filters will be on store shelves within the next year after already having experienced success in 50 pilot programs throughout central Asia.  Argonide's president, Fred Tepper, is trying to get his product in the hands of consumers in the next 60 to 90 days, he said, having recently secured a distribution deal with a European company ..

Though these breakthroughs seem cutting-edge, the technology is not terribly new. Water-treatment plants have been using nanofiltration and ultrafiltration membranes to separate good water from bad for more than five years. And already the technology is becoming the industry standard. .. The same technology is allowing desalination -- the process of removing salts from fresh or sea water -- to occur at a much greater rate. The largest desalination plant in the world will begin operating in Ashkelon, Israel, in March 2005."

Argonide Nanomaterials has an interesting history of collaborations with US govt labs, Russian institutes active in nanotechnology, and others in Italy, Japan, and Singapore.

  12:29:13 PM  permalink  

Development Through Enterprise: New web site, NextBillion.Net, with multiple author blogs. "Our goal is to identify and discuss sustainable business models that address the needs of the world's poorest citizens."  High quality content, looks like a good model for collaborative blog/infohub.  12:11:50 PM  permalink  

Piracy is Good?  A long piece on a business model for BitTorrent "hyperdistribution" of video programming.  "Per capita, Australians are the most profligate downloaders of television programming in the entire world, followed closely by the British. While the Americans lag behind, they're still on the chart, in third place. The sea change has already taken place - undoubtedly sped along by the monopoly position of the commercial broadcasters, who, in many cases, act as barriers rather than conduits for television programs. If a commercial broadcaster doesn't show a program, or delays it for years, that's no longer of concern to television audiences: they'll just download it from the Internet. ..

As yet there are no viable economic models connecting the television producer directly to the audience. Industry pundits talk about audiovisual downloads through some system like Apple's iTunes Music Store, and perhaps we'll see something like this in the near future, but this works against the simple fact that people do not expect to pay for television programs. .. [Also, thanks to PVR's and fast forward,] 30-second ads are not a part of television's future. They're too easy to edit out of the viewing experience. ..

the "bug," the smallish, semi-transparent station ID which has become the constant on-screen companion to all television broadcasts [can carry an ad instead, as it does on some sports broadcasts today]. the technique is already in use, and advertisers understand its value. .. advertisers are ready for this. .. As the advertisement-as-interruption disappears, we will see a series of advertisements — perhaps running five minutes apiece — embedded into the programmme itself. This is easy to achieve technically, and will be palatable to most major advertisers.

if those advertisers are paying between $250,000 and $500,000 for thirty seconds of advertising (in the United States), just a handful of advertisements would cover hyperdistribution [BitTorrent] costs. It's a numbers game: if enough viewers watch a hyperdistributed television program, it is cheaper for advertisers to work with producers, and handle the distribution themselves. Furthermore, if the program is widely popular, it is far, far cheaper to do so. In other words, the higher your ratings, the cheaper the advertising. That's precisely the reverse of broadcast television, and one big reason that advertisers will find this model so appealing.

Although no formal surveys have been conducted, it's reasonable to assert that at least four percent of Australians, two percent of Britons, and one percent of Americans are already using broadband hyperdistribution to get some percentage of their TV programs. Based on my own research, I have found television downloading to be widespread among men 18 to 25 years old, precisely the demographic most coveted by advertisers."

  9:10:14 AM  permalink  

The Baby Name Wizard's NameVoyager: Fabulous java app visualizing parents' name choices since 1900.   8:56:43 AM  permalink  

Microsoft Virtual Server Deployment Manager 1.3.0 (VSDM): "The Virtual Server Deployment Manager provides a streamlined way to manage and deploy Virtual Machines. Using this tool, regular users (not just administrators) will be able to create and manage their own machines, without impacting other users' machines... Based on the concept of templates, VSDM manages the virtual library (templates and ISO images) in a simple and productive way. A "must have" tool for Virtual Server customers that manage large number of machines or need to frequently recreate images based on a master image (template). .. This tool does not have PSS support. It is provided AS IS." 

Available for download.  More info: "The original Virtual Server administration is very powerful, yet very complex to use. Along with all the power it provides, it is complicated to manage to a regular user (not acquainted with administration processes) and therefore suitable to mistakes. One of the most critical mistakes this infra-structure provides support to avoid is when a user inadvertently modifies or damages other user’s machines..  The system also includes a client-side system service which runs inside the Virtual Machine. It is used to pass information from VSDM to the Virtual Machine and perform maintenance tasks, like renaming the machine. This a very important task because if you create Virtual Machines based from some image and they startup, Windows network will crash because another name already exists on the network. The VSDM Client prevents that by keeping the virtual machine name in sync with the VSDM database, avoiding network name collisions"

  8:26:07 AM  permalink  

Soros funds mesh nets: "The Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network (CUWiN) has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Open Society Institute, funded by the Soros Foundation, to develop wireless technology to be used around the globe, with a focus on developing nations. The result will be the most advanced community wireless technology in the world. "  OJC Technologies is doing the implementation under contract.  CUWIN has released an open source beta: "Imagine a free wireless networking system that any municipality, company, or group of neighbors could easily set up themselves. Over the past half-decade, the Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network (CUWiN) has been developing an open source, turnkey wireless networking solution that exceeds the functionality of many proprietary systems. CUWiN's vision is ubiquitous, extremely high-speed, low-cost networking for every community and constituency."  More background: "To set up a CUWiN network, you burn a CD with the 0.5.5 software later this week and use it to boot a computer with a supported wireless card. The system finds nearby nodes, creates tables, and establishes itself as part of the network. The software is free and open source. "  8:21:32 AM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, May 14, 2005


Gallup: 50% of Americans Now Say Bush Deliberately Misled Them on WMDs: "Half of all Americans, exactly 50%, now say the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the Gallup Organization reported this morning.

"This is the highest percentage that Gallup has found on this measure since the question was first asked in late May 2003," the pollsters observed. "At that time, 31% said the administration deliberately misled Americans. This sentiment has gradually increased over time, to 39% in July 2003, 43% in January/February 2004, and 47% in October 2004."

Also, according to the latest poll, more than half of Americans, 54%, disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, while 43% approve. In early February, Americans were more evenly divided on the way Bush was handling the situation in Iraq, with 50% approving and 48% disapproving. "  12:14:08 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, May 13, 2005


Chalabi returns as Deputy PM: "King Abdullah of Jordan has agreed to pardon Ahmed Chalabi, the controversial Iraqi political leader, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison for fraud after his bank collapsed with $300m (£160m) in missing deposits in 1989. Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi President, asked the king to resolve the differences between Jordan and Mr Chalabi, now Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq,.. Again Mr Chalabi has escaped not only political annihilation, but has emerged from a crisis with his power enhanced."  11:59:43 PM  permalink  

Double blast of societal & ethical issues in nanotech - Nanodot: Links to many academic articles on nanotech in society.  Includes a summary of environmental issues from an academic perspective.  11:12:07 PM  permalink  

Motorola Debuts First Ever Nano Flat Screen: "Motorola Labs today unveiled a working 5-inch color video display prototype based on proprietary Carbon Nanotube (CNT) technology.. Optimized for a large screen High Definition Television (HDTV) that is less than 1-inch thick, this first-of-its kind NED 5-inch prototype harnesses the power of CNTs to fundamentally change the design and fabrication of flat panel displays.

The development of such a flat panel display is possible due to Motorola Labs Nano Emissive Display (NED) technology, a scalable method of growing CNTs directly on glass to enable an energy efficient design that excels at emitting electrons. ..

“Motorola’s NED technology is demonstrating full color video with good response time,” said Barry Young, VP and CFO of DisplaySearch, a leading flat panel display market research and consulting company. “And according to a detailed cost model analysis conducted by our firm, we estimate the manufactured cost for a 40-inch NED panel could be under $400.” 

Motorola’s proprietary CNT growth process provides excellent precision in designing and manipulating a material at its molecular level – enhancing specific characteristics – and, in the case of flat panel displays, producing high-definition images. .. Motorola’s industry-first working prototype demonstrates:

• Operational full color 5" video section of a 1280 x 720, 16:9, 42-inch HDTV
• High quality brightness
• Bright, vivid colors using standard Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) TV phosphors
• Display panel thickness of 3.3 millimeters (about 1/8th of an inch)
• Low cost display drive electronics (similar to LCD, much lower than Plasma)
• Display characteristics meet or exceed CRTs, such as fast response time, wide
viewing angle, wide operation temperature "

  10:52:02 PM  permalink  

LaserKey:  Nifty - a projection keyboard that communicates via Bluetooth to PDAs or smartphones.  Advertised at $129.  9:33:31 AM  permalink  

Interesting use for the Mac Mini:  "A few weeks ago I was visiting another one of my portfolio companies. They are in the process of rolling out the beta of their enterprise software product. But rather than risk any difficulties with download and installation, the company was shipping its beta as an appliance by simply loading the software onto the Unix shell of a mini and shipping the mini to its beta customers. Configuration of the beta at the customer premises then consisted of simply plugging in the power and the ethernet cable. Couldn't be easier.

Sure, I know that there are cheaper machines to be had running Linux on Intel processors. But the combined power, simplicity and beauty of the Mac mini can not be beat. I suspect we'll be seeing them popping up all over the place -- in the home and in the office -- in the coming months and quarters "

  9:10:58 AM  permalink  

Sharable Courseware Object Reference Model:  Scott Lemon writes about SCORM:  "There is a good SCORM "brief description" here. It's a rich specification for the creation of courseware - educational software - that includes the course material, coupled with exercises and exams (assessments), and even some metadata about the "flow" of the course - the order that students have to accomplish different parts before progressing, and even scores that must be attained - along with where to send the results.

I had my first demonstration of SCORM today in the form of a government course being given by the Navel Postgraduate School. It was pretty cool ... a .zip file contained the entire SCORM course (something on marine navigation) and once loaded into Blackboard there was all of the course material, the exams, and for the student a way to begin learning."

  8:49:15 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Joel Spolsky likes VMware, and has for a long time.  Here he gives an example of how to test installation code with it.  8:55:39 PM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Pakistan agrees jet deal with Chinese: "Pakistan and China have agreed to start joint production of a new fighter aircraft intended as a replacement for the ageing French and Chinese aircraft used by Pakistan's air force, a senior Pakistani air force officer said yesterday.  

The agreement comes only two months after the US offered to sell F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan, reversing sanctions applied almost 15 years ago over Islamabad's nuclear weapons programme. The move also comes as the US voices concern about the rise of the Chinese military. .. Tom Donnelly, defence analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, said the new JF-17 would enhance China's ability to intimidate Taiwan and mount an air campaign following a missile attack on the island. ..

The first four of the JF-17 "Thunder" aircraft would be delivered to Pakistan next year for trial flights, while the supply of 150 aircraft would begin in 2007."  Total 150 are planned for Pakistan, 250 for China, with half produced in each country.

  8:33:17 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, May 09, 2005


Telepocalypse by Martin Geddes: The telecom earthquake: Ruminations on SIP and Skype.  The comments and trackbacks are also interesting.  I like the comparisons.  Skype's CEO says that if Skype were a spreadsheet, it wouldn't be VisiCalc or Excel, but Lotus 123 -- the first package that broke open the market to large numbers of users, but still short of the mainstream.  Similarly, a commenter regards Skype like AOL:  a mass-market closed garden, far larger than the niche players before it, but smaller than the ultimate, hopefully open, system.  See also VoIP and ENUM on the possible "death" (or at least, "burial") of SIP.  11:57:32 PM  permalink  

What the American Civil War can inform us about Iraq: An American Army conference draws parallels:  "The Civil War, like the invasion of Iraq, was a war of transformation where the victors hoped to reshape the political culture of the vanquished. But as McPherson tells the story, reconstruction posed severe and unexpected tests: The occupying Union army was harassed by an insurgency that fused die-hard remnants of the old plantation power structure with irregular guerrillas. The Union was as unprepared for this struggle as was the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad in 2003. The army of occupation was too small, and its local allies were often corrupt and disorganized.

Reconstruction suffered partly because of a mismatch between a transformational strategy and haphazard tactics. Northern radicals like Representative Thaddeus Stevens wanted to break the old slaveholding aristocracy and remake the South into a version of New England, with former slaves and poor whites dividing up the plantations. But only weeks after President Abraham Lincoln's assassination, President Andrew Johnson was moving to protect the privileges of the old regime. ..

For a time, it still seemed that reconstruction might work. "In 1870, things looked pretty good - if not rosy, at least optimistic," says McPherson, who won a Pulitzer for his 1988 narrative, "Battle Cry of Freedom." A black man was serving in the U.S. Senate and Northerners were investing in what they believed would be a new South.  But the insurgency was potent and took more than 1,000 lives. Along with the Ku Klux Klan, there were underground groups such as "The White Brotherhood" and "The Knights of the White Camellia," determined to preserve the old regime's power. White insurgents staged bloody riots in Memphis and New Orleans in 1866. The rebels also drew support from the remnants of irregular Confederate units such as Quantrill's Raiders, which spawned the outlaws Frank and Jesse James. "It was a matrix of lawlessness," says Oregon law professor Garrett Epps, who chronicles the period in a forthcoming book, "Second Founding."

The poison that destroyed Reconstruction was racial hatred. The white elite managed to convince poor whites that newly freed blacks were their enemies, rather than potential allies. There's an obvious analogy to the Sunni-Shiite divide that has poisoned postwar Iraq. In the South, the die-hard whites began to believe that if they held tough, the North would eventually abandon the campaign to create a new, multiracial South. And it turned out they were right.  By 1877, says McPherson, the North essentially gave up. ..

What lessons does this dismal history convey for American forces in Iraq? First, what you do immediately after the end of hostilities is crucial, and mistakes made then may be impossible to undo. Don't attempt a wholesale transformation of another society unless you have the troops and political will to impose it. Above all, don't let racial or religious hatred destroy democratic political institutions as in the post-bellum South."

  9:20:51 AM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, May 07, 2005


The Perfect Storm to Drown the Economy:  Speculation on how an economic crisis might unfold. ""There's a pattern that is familiar from so many other countries that have gotten into debt problems," said Jeffrey A. Frankel, an economist at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "A simultaneous rise in interest rates, fall in securities prices and depreciation of the currency."

Of course, economists, always armed with bandoliers of caveats, are quick to warn that the economy is relatively healthy. .. That said, how might a perfect storm be created? It would likely gather overseas. .. If the Bank of China, which has been accumulating dollars at the rate of $200 billion a year, decides to cut back on new purchases, either to diversify or to let its currency appreciate, the United States would quickly have to offer sharply higher interest rates to retain existing investors and entice new ones. Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, estimates that if China cut its rate of accumulation by half, long-term interest rates in the United States could rise by 200 basis points over a few months and the value of the dollar would fall.

Such a rising tide - the yield on the 10-year bond shooting from 4.25 to 6.25, the average 30-year mortgage rising from 6 percent to 8 percent - would mean instantly higher borrowing costs for the government, businesses and consumers. It would drench Wall Street, soaking the stocks of giant interest-rate-sensitive blue chips like Citigroup and making life difficult for speculative, debt-ridden companies. ..  "The result would not be a full-blown financial crisis most likely, but it would still be a major recession," said Barry Eichengreen, a professor of economics and political science at the University of California at Berkeley.

What's more, a recovery would be comparatively slow in coming. When the global economy came to a screeching, synchronous halt in 2001, the United States led much of the world back to growth because the federal government went on a stimulus binge for several years: Congress significantly increased government spending while cutting taxes, and the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to historic lows, and held them there.  But in the perfect economic storm, none of these three powerful levers would be readily available. Today's deep budget deficits make both significant tax cuts and spending increases unlikely. And rising interest rates would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the Federal Reserve to reduce the cost of borrowing. ..

[But,] adds Jeffrey Frankel, "some of us have been warning of this hard-landing scenario for more than 20 years.""

  11:04:18 PM  permalink  

Captured Al-Qaeda kingpin is case of 'mistaken identity' - Sunday Times:  "THE capture of a supposed Al-Qaeda kingpin by Pakistani agents last week was hailed by President George W Bush as “a critical victory in the war on terror”. According to European intelligence experts, however, Abu Faraj al-Libbi was not the terrorists’ third in command, as claimed, but a middle-ranker derided by one source as “among the flotsam and jetsam” of the organisation. ..  the backslapping in Washington and Islamabad has astonished European terrorism experts, who point out that the Libyan was neither on the FBI’s most wanted list, nor on that of the State Department “rewards for justice” programme.  Another Libyan is on the FBI list — Anas al-Liby, who is wanted over the 1998 East African embassy bombings — and some believe the Americans may have initially confused the two. When The Sunday Times contacted a senior FBI counter-terrorism official for information about the importance of the detained man, he sent material on al-Liby, the wrong man.

“Al-Libbi is just a ‘middle-level’ leader,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, a French intelligence investigator and leading expert on terrorism finance. “Pakistan and US authorities have completely overestimated his role and importance. He was never more than a regional facilitator between Al-Qaeda and local Pakistani Islamic groups.”  .. Although British intelligence has evidence of telephone calls between al-Libbi and operatives in the UK, he is not believed to be Al-Qaeda’s commander of operations in Europe, as reported.

The only operations in which he is known to have been involved are two attempts to assassinate Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, in 2003. Last year he was named Pakistan’s most wanted man with a $350,000 (£185,000) price on his head.  .. A former close associate of Bin Laden now living in London laughed: “What I remember of him is he used to make the coffee and do the photocopying.” ..

Some believe al-Libbi’s significance has been cynically hyped by two countries that want to distract attention from their lack of progress in capturing Bin Laden, who has now been on the run for almost four years.  Even a senior FBI official admitted that al-Libbi’s “influence and position have been overstated”.

  10:51:01 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, May 06, 2005


Hackers attack IT conference: Clever, nasty, and far too easy.  "Hackers infiltrated an IT exhibition last week and attacked delegates' computers with a new type of wireless attack. Security experts attending the Wireless LAN Event in London last Wedesday found that anonymous hackers in the crowd had created a Web site that looked like a genuine log-in page for a Wi-Fi network, but which actually sent 45 random viruses to computers that accessed it.

Spencer Parker, a director of technical solutions at AirDefense .. said that the hackers walked around the exhibition carrying a Linux-based laptop running software that turned it into a wireless access point. Initially, they labelled the hotspot "Free_Internet_Access", then "BTOpenzone" and then "T-Mobile".  .. . "It downloads 45 different randomly generated viruses, worms and keyloggers so antivirus software doesn't protect it. It doesn’t recognise the signatures." .. Parker, whose computer was infected by the attack, believes that the Web site was up for half an hour."

  1:45:58 PM  permalink  

Operation Tsunami Aid: April 25 2005 collection of stories on comms in the tsunami response.  Highlights include fast deployment of wifi nets, extension of nets with new WiMax links, and military-civilian cooperation lessons.  "The Defense Department conducted an unprecedented humanitarian relief operation to aid victims of the tsunami. "This was the largest relief operation since the Berlin airlift" after World War II, Tapper said. To aid countries hit by last year's tsunami, the Air Force airlifted an average of 261 tons of relief supplies a day for 47 days, he said. The Navy deployed a veritable humanitarian relief armada off the shores of Indonesia and Sri Lanka, with a total of 18 ships and 35 embarked helicopters dedicated to tsunami relief [from December to April] ..

In early January, [at] the headquarters for a multinational force called Operation Unified Assistance, Monti realized he had a problem. He had more than enough military assets and personnel — including deployed DISA personnel — to provide SIPRNET and NIPRNET communications.  What he lacked, Monti said, was an unclassified network that could also be accessed by military personnel from Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and other countries, as well as representatives from the United Nations, other NGOs and U.S. civilian agencies, such as USAID...  a separate, shared unclassified network for purposes of trust, which he believed could not be achieved with U.S. personnel operating behind a classified wall.  ..

Rasmussen said DOD units also need to pay more attention to social networking, or person-to-person communications among U.S. military and UN, NGO and USAID staff, which "is the dominant part of collaboration in the field." Rasmussen wrote in the report that those relationships need to be developed through frequent exercises before a disaster hits. .

Steckler said the NPS team plans to use the Thailand experience as a model for quickly developing networks during future humanitarian and military operations. NPS officials are developing a WiMax and Wi-Fi kit that could be easily transported and quickly set up. .. Steckler returned to Thailand in March and, with the assistance of Marine Capt. Dwayne Lancaster, increased the power of the humanitarian network with another satellite terminal at the survivor camp and a dual-redundancy router. Officials at the World Wide Web Consortium have provided initial funding for survivor camp satellite connections, Steckler said.  They have also formed a partnership with California State University at Monterey Bay to set up an NGO training center. "

  12:46:20 PM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, May 05, 2005


The Christian Complex: Factoid from George Will: "According to the American Religious Identification Survey, Americans who answer "none" when asked to identify their religion numbered 29.4 million in 2001, more than double the 14.3 million in 1990. "  8:40:30 AM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Nanosolar - Products: New pictures of their modules; solid black, light weight, large size.  "Nanosolar's flagship product, Nanosolar SolarPly, is a 14 feet x 10 feet solar electricity module..."  Also spec'd in 4-inch strips for OEM use in roofing products.  Availability end-2005 or 2006.  No details on price or performance so far.  They're adding more execs in production and operations to ramp up.

Coincidentally, on an airplane today, I met an exec who left Cypress Semi to join their PV subsidiary SunPower.  They are building plants for silicon PV in SouthEast Asia, for sales of units to Japan and Europe, where sales are booming.  (Spain has recently accelerated solar PV adoption, joining Germany as a large growth market.)  This exec said he's confident they'll compete with grid power with silicon PVs within 5 years.

  11:26:18 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, May 02, 2005


VMware Sales Double: "growth was driven by new license sales, which accounted for 80 percent of its sales in the quarter, about $64 million.. VMware has an installed based of about 3 million seats for its Workstation products, and has about 10,000 customers for its server products"

  8:31:47 AM  permalink  

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