Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog


daily link  Wednesday, August 31, 2005


The Monopoly Factory:  How and why the patent office grants many spurious patents, with examples of the costs to society, and how to fix the system.  11:36:54 PM  permalink  

Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? "Lake Pontchartrain continues to pour through a two-block-long break in the main levee, near [New Orleans'] 17th Street Canal. With much of the Crescent City some 10 feet below sea level, the rising tide may not stop until it's level with the massive lake. ..

When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA. Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars. .. In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness. On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us." ..

The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back this spring with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history... [A] "study would take about four years to complete and would cost about $4 million, said Army Corps of Engineers project manager Al Naomi. About $300,000 in federal money was proposed for the 2005 fiscal-year budget, and the state had agreed to match that amount. But the cost of the Iraq war forced the Bush administration to order the New Orleans district office not to begin any new studies, and the 2005 budget no longer includes the needed money, he said." ..

One project that a contractor had been racing to finish this summer: a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal, site of the main breach on Monday.  The Newhouse News Service article published Tuesday night observed, "The Louisiana congressional delegation urged Congress earlier this year to dedicate a stream of federal money to Louisiana's coast, only to be opposed by the White House. ... In its budget, the Bush administration proposed a significant reduction in funding for southeast Louisiana's chief hurricane protection project. Bush proposed $10.4 million, a sixth of what local officials say they need.""

  11:04:23 PM  permalink  

An Introduction to Virtualization: A history from 1959 to now (with a quote using "virtual machine" in 1961), plus a directory of various virtualization projects and products.  10:57:20 PM  permalink  

FTC Message Switching Systems: A blast from the past, the project I worked on 20 years ago.  "The Sombers Group built the company's fault-tolerant Tandem Computer-based switching systems, which were installed both in the U.S. and overseas. "  By "overseas" they mean Cameroon, where I installed the message switch at Intelcam in 1983.  I also upgraded the switch in 1986, and then hosted their staff for TCP/IP training in 1995 in California.  1:08:19 PM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Irreplaceable Exuberance: Henry Blodget reviews tech booms:  "The growth of the Internet has paralleled that of most industries based on revolutionary technology. Canals, railroads, telegraphs, telephones, cars, radios, personal computers - all progressed (or are progressing) through four phases of development: boom, bust, mature growth and decay. .. Sometimes, industry life cycles last a century or more (circuit-switched telephones); sometimes, only a few decades (Polaroid). But the repetition of the pattern - as well as its resemblance to biological evolution - suggests that the boom-and-bust phases should be viewed as far more than repeated examples of human folly. Rather, they should be seen as natural, inevitable bursts of trial-and-error adaptation, the mechanisms through which industries are formed.

A precursor to the Internet boom and bust, for example, was the personal-computer bubble of the early 1980's. The Netscape of that era was Apple Computer, which went public amid the same sort of pandemonium that surrounded Netscape's I.P.O. 15 years later. .. Like Netscape, Apple came in an era of first-day "pops" in stock prices, instant paper millionaires and bull-market optimism. Lotus, Compaq and other companies followed, along with Seequa, Kaypro, VisiCorp, Altos, Gavilan, Victor and others. An ecosystem of supporting companies sprang up - distributors, retailers, trade-show producers, investment banks, law firms and public relations consultants - and the press reveled in rags-to-riches stories. ..

By late 1984, it was over. The stocks had tanked, former moon-shots had gone bankrupt, and thousands of people lost their jobs. Projections of perpetual fantastic annual growth had been hastily revised, and humbled survivors were preparing for a bleaker future. Eventually, however, as with the Internet, the personal-computer industry proved larger and more profitable than even early boosters had predicted. And some of the biggest winners were those that went public after the shakeout - Microsoft in 1986, Dell in 1988. ..

[We should] take solace in knowing that our exuberance helps build industries, however boneheaded it may later seem."

  9:09:02 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, August 29, 2005


The Observer: Iraq takes a step closer to civil war: "it appears it was not the Shias, as Bush feared, but the Sunnis who have torpedoed consensus on the constitution, first forcing a number of concessions from the Shias, then deciding to walk out on the whole process.  'The Sunnis made the tactical decision to negotiate for as much as they could get out of the document and then walk out to protect their own positions within their community,' said one diplomat. 'It is a dangerous tactic. It will take a lot of patching up.'..

While Bush could pick up the phone to try to cajole or mollify Hakim as a representative of Shia desires, on the Sunni side, despite more than two years of effort, there is no one of a similar stature and influence to call. ..

pessimism has been reflected in the new and chilling conversation that has repeatedly taken place among government and intelligence officials in the past few weeks on both sides of the Atlantic - how do you know when you are on the brink of civil war? And which, out of the available models, Iraq might follow if it follows down that path. It is not Vietnam that officials are looking to for their model of a worst-case scenario in Iraq, but to the fratricide of Lebanon's civil war."

  11:55:15 PM  permalink  

Juan Cole on success and frustration in Iraq: "Sullivan says that given US and British forces on the ground, the "insurgency" "cannot win." The problem is that the "insurgency" doesn't have to win in order to succeed. All it has to do is spoil everyone else's successes.  By sabotaging the oil pipelines and the electricity grid that supports them, the guerrillas have reduced Iraqi government revenue by a third to a half of what it otherwise would be. They can go on doing that a very long time. They have put the lives of every senior member of the new government in danger, and have managed to assassinate a whole roster of high-ranking officials, even two members of the new parliament and two members of the constitution drafting committee.

They have kept the new government, and even the US military, from truly controlling the major Sunni Arab cities, and have even made mixed cities such as Baqubah big security problems. They have increasingly succeeded in provoking deep hatred between Sunni and Shiite Arabs, contributing to a low-intensity, uncoventional war between the two that seemed unlikely as recently as a year ago.  These tactics are proving successful and can be maintained for a very long time."   The article also makes some predictions for 2006.

In a similar vein from Cole's March 05 op-ed, U.S. Caught in the Crossfire: "For all of these reasons, the United States will increasingly find its hands tied in Iraq. Caught between a popularly elected government dominated by fundamentalist Shiites and a determined guerrilla movement led by Arab nationalists and radical Sunnis, the United States is left without a safe and secure escape hatch."

  11:41:53 PM  permalink  

Major advance producing carbon nanotube sheets: "University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) nanotechnologists and an Australian colleague have produced transparent carbon nanotube sheets that are stronger than the same-weight steel sheets and have demonstrated applicability for organic light-emitting displays, low-noise electronic sensors, artificial muscles, conducting appliqués and broad-band polarized light sources that can be switched in one ten-thousandths of a second.

Carbon nanotubes are like minute bits of string, and untold trillions of these invisible strings must be assembled to make useful macroscopic articles that can exploit the phenomenal mechanical and electronic properties of the individual nanotubes. In the Aug. 19 05 issue of the prestigious journal Science, scientists from the NanoTech Institute at UTD and a collaborator, Dr. Ken Atkinson from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), a national laboratory in Australia, report such assembly of nanotubes into sheets at commercially useable rates.

Starting from chemically grown, self-assembled structures in which nanotubes are aligned like trees in a forest, the sheets are produced at up to 7 meters per minute by the coordinated rotation of a trillion nanotubes per minute for every centimeter of sheet width. By comparison, the production rate for commercial wool spinning is 20 meters per minute. Unlike previous sheet fabrication methods using dispersions of nanotubes in liquids, which are quite slow, the dry-state process developed by the UTD-CSIRO team can use the ultra-long nanotubes needed for optimization of properties. " More about applications, to solar cells, batteries, fuel cells, medicine, and engineering at WorldChanging.

  9:17:47 AM  permalink  

Carbon Nanotube Structures For More Efficient Solar Power: "Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) scientists have demonstrated an ability to precisely grow "towers" composed of carbon nanotubes atop silicon wafers. The work could be the basis for more efficient solar power .. Because their cells will be more efficient, Ready believes they can use older and more mature p/n-type material technologies and less costly silicon wafers to hold down costs and rapidly advance the project into products that can be used in the field. .. Challenges ahead include materials compatibility and long-term durability issues. Ultimately, the carbon nanotubes – which are themselves semiconducting at times – could be integrated to replace one or more of the p/n-type layers. "  Military and space applications are expected first.

  9:10:01 AM  permalink  

How Portland does Kyoto: "Portland announced that it had succeeded in cutting greenhouse gas emissions levels to within 1% of 1990 levels, on the way to a targeted 10% reduction below 1990 levels by 2010. .. As Portland officials count it, overall greenhouse gas emissions have dropped to 0.7% above 1990 levels. Transportation-related emissions essentially have been flat, combined emissions in homes, offices and industry have decreased slightly, and waste gases--largely extrapolated from methane gas escaping from rotting landfill waste--have decreased significantly...

Eric Sten, a Portland commissioner, insists that the reductions came not because Portland converted all of its citizens into global warming believers but because the city made investments that had tangible environmental and quality of life benefits, in addition to reducing greenhouse gasses. "We made progress on this issue by doing things that make Portland a good place to live," Sten says, "Not because of things that are specific to global warming."

"I knew there were efforts going on but to have that kind of significant reduction was remarkable," says Dennis Wilde, a Portland-based developer. "What's really remarkable is there's been no pain." .. "  Key factors are compact developent, mass transit support ("75% of Trimet's 290,000 daily trips are by "choice" riders who leave a car at home"), building codes ("building code upgrades dropped energy bills an average of 40% in new homes"), and utility efficiency programs.

  9:04:01 AM  permalink  

Clean energy incubators: "The Austin Clean Energy Incubator, which is part of the Austin Technology Incubator at the University of Texas, is a fairly typical incubator. The small, professional staff works with about six companies at a time on issues ranging from business plan development to assistance with  acquiring customers or strategic partners, to global expansion.  CEI's current portfolio companies include Austin Biofuels, an early stage biofuels distributor; E60 Vision, a company that makes remediation software; and Allied Energy Systems, which manufacturers efficient HVAC systems. Amato and staff are helping Austin Biofuels expand to a regional distributor, E60 to "productize" their service, and Allied Energy to grow to a regional manufacturer. ..

Albany Nanotech [is] located at the University of  Albany-SUNY.  Two billion dollars in private, state and federal funding financed this state-of-the-art nanotechnology infrastructure. The Albany Nanotech complex includes the  new College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering, which provides portfolio companies access to an entire research and teaching organization focused on the field.  This advanced facility attracts companies like IBM and GE and other companies from around the world, which make use of the equipment to explore new initiatives and test technologies. ..
The same capital-intensive facilities and equipment are available to startup businesses. They can use the infrastructure there to test their products and get them to the stage where investors are interested. .. E2TAC also offers more typical incubator services such as matchmaking, networking, and joint promotions for partner companies. "

  8:43:29 AM  permalink  

Energy startups raising cash: Many funding events in June 05. "Solar company Energy Innovations, based in Pasadena, California, said it had raised $16.5 million in a second round of venture capital funding, bringing its two-round total to $29 million.  In the meantime, Austin, Texas-based solar startup HelioVolt said it closed its first round with an $8-million investment from New Enterprise Associates (NEA) of Menlo Park, California. .. Nanosolar, a nano-based solar outfit, netted $20 million in a round led by MDV (see Nanosolar Raises Funding). And Miasolé, a thin-film solar firm, raised $16 million in a round led by Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (see Clean Energy Firms Get Funds). ..

HelioVolt said it will use the $8 million to build out and test its manufacturing method. .. HelioVolt uses semiconductor-manufacturing methods to apply the copper-indium-selenide coatings to traditional construction materials, such as steel, glass, and roofing. The coated materials would allow new buildings to power themselves, without the installation of separate solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.

Meanwhile, Sunflower uses a series of mirrors with motors to track the sun throughout the day. The mirrors reflect light onto a silicon-based receiver placed about six feet above the mirrors, said Energy Innovations’ President Andrew Beebe. His system uses much less silicon, saving money, Mr. Beebe said. .. The system is expected to last 15 years, compared with the 20- to 25-year life span of most solar panels... We think this round will take us to market,” he said.  For now, Energy Innovations is limiting its target market to commercial and institutional customers within the United States, Mr. Beebe said.  "

Also, in August, SunPower Files $115M IPO: "SunPower plans to raise $115 million in an initial public offering to help make and market its solar panels, the solar power company said in a filing Friday, as it looks to stay ahead of other venture-backed startups that are gaining ground in the field."  Cypress Semiconductor put $26M into the firm in the last four years.

  8:40:16 AM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, August 28, 2005


West Coast Cable: Dec 2004: "Sea Breeze Pacific..  has filed an interconnection application with Pacific Gas & Electric Company of San Francisco, California for the first submarine transmission line that would allow for the direct transmission of electricity from Canada to California.  Sea Breeze Pacific's initial application is for a 1,600 megawatt High Voltage Direct Current ("HVDC") undersea cable (expandable to 3,200 MW). The route will run 3-12 miles offshore along portions of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California for approximately 1,200 miles. .. The west coast submarine transmission corridor was conceived as an answer to the challenge of unlocking the many thousands of "stranded" megawatts of clean, renewable energy that remain unutilized along the rugged and windy west coast of Canada. An independent study by Fortis Bank, the World Energy Council and the Petroleum Economist have rated this region as having the number one wind resource in the world. Other significant benefits of the West Coast Cable would be to help stabilize the western continental power grid by making load flows more predictable.."

Sea Breeze already has a project in progress for a 550 MW cable system between Victoria BC and Washington State.  Additional financing is sought for this project, with "construction for the Straight of Juan de Fuca Transmission Cable [scheduled] from the end of 2006 to the end of 2007."

  11:50:32 AM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, August 27, 2005


Sunnis offer an exit plan: "Largely unnoticed amid the U.S. political debate, al-Rawi and other Sunni leaders close to the insurgency have reached tacit consensus over the broad outline of an interim program to reduce the violence, stabilize the country and thus enable the U.S.-led coalition troops to begin a gradual withdrawal. While differences remain on some points, there is wide agreement on these steps:

-- A troop pullout from most urban areas and an end to military checkpoints and raids. "The Americans and British must leave all residential areas," said al-Rawi. ..

-- Overhaul of the Iraqi Army and National Guard... Sunni Arabs point out that these two institutions are almost completely composed of members of their ethnic enemies -- the Kurdish peshmerga and the Shiite militias. "These people want to humiliate the Sunni," al-Hashimi said. "The Army and National Guard must be professionalized. They cannot be dominated by members of the party militias."  ..

-- Release of prisoners. The number of Iraqi prisoners in American military custody has grown rapidly in recent months, with as many as 15,000 Iraqis behind bars, according to U.S. estimates. Military officials have admitted that many of the prisoners have simply been swept up in neighborhood roundups. Because there is no formal trial process, the process of vetting prisoners and releasing those found innocent is very slow. Military officials have reportedly expressed worry that the sprawling prison camps are serving as recruiting camps for al Qaeda and the most extremist insurgent groups.  .. Nadhmi and other Iraqis interviewed for this article said they did not advocate release of Saddam Hussein or others accused of involvement in killings and torture. ..

-- Negotiations with the "resistance." Sunni leaders have frequently met with U.S. officials in Baghdad to try to coax them to talk with the guerrillas. They draw a line between what they call the "resistance," by which they mean Iraqi fighters who attack only U.S. and Iraqi troops, and the Sunni extremists linked to al Qaeda who have spread terror with car bombs and suicide attacks against Shiite civilians. A big problem, however, is figuring out which insurgent groups to approach. The Sunni Arab leaders consulted for this article estimated the number of insurgent organizations as ranging from 12 to 35 -- not including foreign groups. ..

"We realize that it will take a long time for the Americans to leave. We cannot say six months or 12 months, because we may have to change the plan when the situation changes. If the Americans start taking real steps, if the Iraqi people feel that they will no longer be occupied, they will say with one voice to the terrorists, 'Please leave us.' And they will go," he said.

"But in this situation now, when the troops are even in our universities, our mosques, our houses, it is impossible." "

  1:02:16 PM  permalink  

How to exit Iraq:  Juan Cole's 10-point plan.  12:53:02 PM  permalink  

Wildlife trade on the web: "Internet shoppers in search of the exotic have sparked a booming trade that is threatening the existence of many endangered species, according to a report released Tuesday by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. .. “Trade on the Internet is easy, cheap and anonymous,” said IFAW UK director Phyllis Campbell-McRae.  .. The report “Caught in the web - wildlife trade on the Internet” found in just one week 146 live primates, 5,527 elephant products, 526 turtle and tortoiseshells, 2,630 reptile products and 239 wild cat products for sale."

  8:33:51 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, August 25, 2005


Customers of new UK ISP get to share all Sony music: "PlayLouder MSP, an ISP in the UK, has secured a license from Sony that allows its customers to legally share any song in the Sony-BMG catalog with any other PlayLouder MSP customer, and to download these tracks from any ISP customer in the entire world.  .. PlayLouder MSP DSL costs about the same as comparable DSL offerings in the UK. For their money, PlayLouder MSP customers get their regualr DSL lines, as well as the right to share any song in the Sony-BMG catalog, even if it's out of print, in any file-format, using any file-sharing software, at any bitrate..

PlayLouder MSP is using audio-analysis software provided by Audible Magic to analyze the P2P traffic that it can detect on its network and count approximately how many times each track is traded, and will deliver that, along with a cut of its revenue, to Sony.  They're also filtering traffic to the Internet to prevent Sony music tracks that Audible Magic recognizes from leaving its network via recognized P2P protocols and going to ISPs whose customers have not paid a license fee. However, they will not be stopping any tracks that Audible Magic fails to recognize, nor will they be resticting traffic using unrecognized protocols.

PlayLouder MSP has deals with many indy labels as well as Sony, and those labels will also get a proportional cut of the money that PlayLouder MSP takes in based on their network monitoring. The ISP says that it is negotiating with other major labels and hopes they'll come into the fold soon.  .. PlayLouder MSP is live at the end of September if their schedule holds"

  12:48:47 PM  permalink  

Copyright Flowchart: Amusing multi-stage chart to tell whether a copyrighted work has entered the public domain.  12:43:29 PM  permalink  

Cellphones Catapult Rural Africa to 21st Century:  20 years ago I travelled in Africa, telling people that wireless phones would be the IT that would matter there.  Nice to read the stories of how that works today.  "Bekowe Skhakhane does even the simplest tasks the hard way.  Fetching water from the river takes four hours a day. To cook, she gathers sticks and musters a fire. Light comes from candles.  But when Ms. Skhakhane wants to talk to her husband, who works in a steel factory 250 miles away in Johannesburg, she takes out her mobile phone. ..  "It is a necessity," said Ms. Skhakhane.. "Buying air time is part of my regular grocery list."  She spends the equivalent of $1.90 a month for five minutes of telephone time. ..

One in 11 Africans is now a mobile subscriber. .. cellphones are enabling millions of people to skip a technological generation and bound straight from letter-writing to instant messaging. .. One woman living on the Congo River, unable even to write her last name, tells customers to call her cellphone if they want to buy the fresh fish she sells. "She doesn't have electricity, she can't put the fish in the freezer," said Mr. Nkuli of Vodacom. "So she keeps them in the river," tethered live on a string, until a call comes in. Then she retrieves them and readies them for sale. ..

William Pedro, 51, who deals in farm and garden plants, said he tried for eight years to lure customers to his nursery in a ragtag township near George.. "now [customers] can phone me for orders and I can deliver them the same day." ..

Congo was in the midst of a civil war when Alieu Conteh, a telecommunications entrepreneur, began building a cellular network there in the 1990's.  No foreign manufacturer would ship a cellphone tower to the airport with rebels nearby, so Mr. Conteh hired local men to collect scrap and weld a tower together. Now Vodacom, which formed a joint venture with him in 2001, .. [hauls] each satellite dish into place with ropes. Base stations are powered by generators. .. Vodacom Congo has 1.1 million subscribers and is adding more than 1,000 daily.  ..

How does an African family in a hut lighted by candles charge a mobile phone? ..  the solution is often a car battery owned by someone who does not have a prayer of acquiring a car. Ntombenhle Nsele keeps one in her home a few miles down the road from Ms. Skhakhane's. She takes it by bus 20 miles to the nearest town to recharge it in a gas station.  For 80 cents each, Ms. Nsele, 25, lets neighbors charge their mobiles from the battery. She gets at least five customers a week.  "Oooh, a lot of people," she said, smiling. "Too many." "

  11:14:36 AM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, August 23, 2005


H5N1 seen spreading: "A bird flu outbreak in seven northern Kazakh villages is dangerous to humans and threatening the west of the sprawling country, the Agriculture Ministry said yesterday. .. ``The western region is now in the risk zone because migratory birds are starting to fly to the Caspian Sea and Urals-Caspian basin,'' he said. The outbreak spread from Siberia in neighbouring Russia.. Although the H5N1 strain has killed more than 50 people in Asia since 2003, no one has caught it in Russia or Kazakhstan. ..

Since its discovery on a farm in Siberia in mid-July, bird flu has spread to other areas in Russia. More than 130,000 birds have been culled in order to try to prevent further contagion. Another 11,715 birds died of the virus, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said in a report yesterday.  In Kazakhstan, at least 9,000 birds have died or been destroyed since the outbreak started in the north of the Central Asian state last month."

Meanwhile, The EU battens down hatches against bird flu: "Dutch poultry farmers have complied with a government order to move all their birds indoors, as Europe steps up its efforts to prevent a potentially deadly bird flu pandemic this northern winter. Germany plans to follow suit by ordering that all free-range birds be moved indoors next month to prevent contact with birds arriving from the east that may be carrying the virus. .. All EU states are monitoring poultry health closely and stocking vaccines for use in the event of an epidemic. At the weekend, Italy announced stricter import controls, heightened surveillance and accelerated vaccine production. .. [H5N1] has been moving steadily westwards. It has reached Siberia and experts are saying that migratory fowl could bring it to western Europe this northern autumn. "

  10:48:27 PM  permalink  

9 States in Plan to Cut Emissions by Power Plants: "The regional initiative would set up a market-driven system to control emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, from more than 600 electric generators in the nine states. Environmentalists who support a federal law to control greenhouse gases believe that the model established by the Northeastern states will be followed by other states, resulting in pressure that could eventually lead to the enactment of a national law.

California, Washington and Oregon are in the early stages of exploring a regional agreement similar to the Northeastern plan. The nine states in the Northeastern agreement are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. They were brought together in 2003 by a Republican governor, George E. Pataki of New York, who broke sharply and openly with the Bush administration over the handling of greenhouse gases and Washington's refusal to join more than 150 countries in signing the Kyoto Protocols, the agreement to reduce emissions that went into effect earlier this year."

  10:43:41 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, August 22, 2005


VMWare Serial Line Gateway: Not quite sure why I'd need it, but it seems nifty:  a gateway connecting a VMware serial device to a named pipe.  It's reported to work as a Citrix Access Gateway.  10:56:02 PM  permalink  

Global University Phone System: "The GUPS Initiative provides universities with a voice over IP (VOIP) system they can easily install and configure to connect their phone networks with other academic institutions around the globe. Calls are routed over the internet using VOIP thus bypassing traditional telecommunication charges for phone calls "  10:35:13 PM  permalink  

Scientists Race To Head Off Lethal Potential Of Avian Flu: More details, esp. on the science of avian flu transmission.  "The [2002] discovery by Hulse and Webster led, in part, to an extreme program Thailand mounted last November. About 70,000 investigators went into every village in the country looking for sick ducks and sampling the feces of healthy-looking ones. Flocks carrying H5N1 influenza virus were killed.  The strategy appears to have worked. Last year, Thailand had 12 human deaths from H5N1 flu. So far this year, it has had none...

The world, Webster believes,would be well advised to draw up a plan to limit human movement and distribute vaccine and antiviral drugs should a pandemic flu strain emerge despite the efforts to prevent it."

  10:30:19 PM  permalink  

Educational Software for the PC Takes a Nose Dive:  "In 2000, sales of educational software for home computers reached $498 million..  By 2004, sales of educational software - a category that includes programs teaching math, reading and other subjects as well as reference works like encyclopedias - had plummeted to $152 million ..  Only 222 educational programs for PC's sold more than 10,000 copies in 2004, down from 447 in 2001.  As sales began to decrease, retailers devoted less and less shelf space to these titles, making recovery for the industry more difficult.  ..

[Why?] With free games and learning sites now available all over the Internet, parents are finding that they do not need to buy software .. The preschool and elementary school set is also moving toward portable gadgets like the LeapPad .. Older students, industry analysts said, are less likely to buy educational software when reference material and encyclopedias are free online.  And there is the pass-along effect. Simple programs for toddlers and young children are often handed down among brothers and sisters because the titles and curriculums do not change much over the years. .. Other industry analysts and executives said that parents' frustration at installing new programs and the nearly universal availability of computers in classrooms have made using home PC's for learning less appealing.

Spending on teaching tools and toys had increased. Spending on tutors, she said, rose to $4 billion in 2004, from $3.4 billion a year earlier.  Yet educational software is getting an ever smaller share of that consumer dollar. It is among the lowest-priced of any software category; in 2004 the average price for an educational program was $18"

  10:18:00 PM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, August 21, 2005


BSD For Linux Users: Long but interesting comparison of BSD and Linux.  "[Someone said] 'BSD is what you get when a bunch of Unix hackers sit down to try to port a Unix system to the PC. Linux is what you get when a bunch of PC hackers sit down and try to write a Unix system for the PC.'  Now, I like that quip, not because it's some sort of absolute revealed truth, but because it gives a very good feel for some of the differences. The BSDs, in general, are very much more like traditional Unices than Linux is. A lot of that is because they're direct-line descendants of the BSD from Berkeley, which was a direct-line descendant of the original AT&T Unix. ..

BSD is designed. Linux is grown."

  8:18:55 PM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, August 20, 2005


How to make a terrorist, and the response:  Fine short summary from Juan Cole.   3:32:44 PM  permalink  

EnOcean: radio switches and sensors without batteries: Mesh wireless sensor components using harvested energy.  OEMed into many companies' products. Spun out from Siemens in 2001.   3:22:26 PM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, August 18, 2005


Akamai monitors news activity: Web page shows spikes in news reading, by story: "It's debatable how big a deal any specific news event is compared to all the other human mayhem that occurs each day. .. A news mapping service introduced on Thursday by Akamai Technologies Inc. promises to give unprecedented insight into the relative hunger that millions of Internet users have to learn of breaking events minute-by-minute. Akamai, which helps speed delivery of 15 percent of the world's Internet traffic over its network, is looking to count the sum of page requests across 100 major news sites it serves to rank interest in major events on a scale never seen before."  9:08:34 AM  permalink  

Nanoscience-as-Art Competition - NTU NanoCluster: Images from Singapore university research.  8:32:47 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Jatropha Biodiesel Energy Crops - D1 Oils: Company pursing Jatropha bean production in many developing countries, for biodiesel production.  Listed in late 2004 on the London Stock Exchange, raising about $20m.  "D1 Oils will produce biodiesel and supply crude vegetable oil used in the production of biodiesel.  ..  The Group’s strategy is to control and manage its operations on a regional basis by securing plantation rights and establishing refinery operations using its own refinery technology. .. The Jatropha tree has been selected as the Group’s primary energy crop due to the main benefits of its high productivity, durability and longevity. To date, the Group has established operations and strategic and commercial relationships in four regions: Europe (Teesside and London, UK), Africa (Johannesburg, South Africa), Asia Pacific (Manila, The Philippines) and India (New Delhi). "  Joint ventures or operations underway in China, Saudi Arabia, and (with Rolls Royce) in South Africa.

  3:44:25 PM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Selenium: "Selenium is a test tool for web applications. Selenium tests run directly in a browsers, just as real users do. And they run in Internet Explorer, Mozilla and Firefox on Windows, Linux and Macintosh. No other test tool covers such a wide array of platforms.

Selenium uses a unique mechanism which allows it to run on so multiple platforms. Installed with your application webserver, Selenium automatically deploys it's JavaScript automation engine -- the Browser Bot -- to your browser when you point it at the Selenium install point on your webserver. Thus, you must have write access to the machine your web application server is running on to install Selenium. ..

Selenium was developed by team of programmers and testers at ThoughtWorks. It is open-source software and can be downloaded and used without charge." (Thanks, John)

  10:25:12 PM  permalink  

New projects at Sun: "Sun's Squawk project was noted by Gage. Written in Java, Squawk is intended to provide multiple virtual machines and treat an application as an object, Gage said. Squawk would provide more efficient use of memory and power, according to Gage. Squawk was described on Sun’s Web site as a compact, high-performance Java environment.  "This is perfect for wireless sensor devices," Gage said."  7:54:50 PM  permalink  

Perverse results: "The results of the war have so far been utterly perverse. Not only wasn’t Iraq actively developing weapons of mass destruction; the invasion gave Iran all the more incentive to pursue its own nuclear program so it would not someday suffer the same fate as its neighbor -- and it has now broken off negotiations with the Europeans over that program and resumed processing nuclear fuel. That our intervention has inadvertently brought pro-Iranian parties to power in Iraq only adds to the irony. The great neoconservative hope was that the war would create a new political dynamic in the region that would favor pro-Western democracy. In fact, we have changed politics in the region -- in favor of Iran, just at the time that country has moved toward a more conservative, hard-line, Islamic government.

And the list of perverse effects of the war doesn’t end there. By occupying Iraq, we have provided the insurgency its sustaining passion. Rather than stopping terrorism, we have stoked it. We sought to demonstrate American power, and we have ended up demonstrating its limits. ..

Recently, after stepping down as chief of Australia's armed forces, General Peter Cosgrove called for foreign troops to quit Iraq by the end of 2006 so 'we take one of the focal points of terrorist motivation away, and that is foreign troops.' "  9:54:25 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, August 15, 2005


Royal Philips Electronics development pilots: Three projects, including one launched by Paul Rankin from the Reuters Digital Vision Fellowship at Stanford.  "Voices in Your Hand is a pilot project running in Recife, Brazil, to bring digital connectivity to people at the bottom of the economic pyramid. .. Using modified MP3 players, people can listen to personalized web casts of audio information offline in their homes, talk back and use voice email. Then they visit a public utility point to link their sets to the Internet. The customer here may be a family or a village, rather than an individual. ..  The pilot will be completed mid 2005, learning will be captured and results will be used to test the feasibility of possible scale up scenarios."

  8:48:26 PM  permalink  

The Africa You Never See: Africa, "according to the U.S. government's Overseas Private Investment Corp., offers the highest return in the world on direct foreign investment, [yet] it attracts the least. Unless investors see the Africa that's worthy of investment, they won't put their money into it.  .. Consider a few facts: The Ghana Stock Exchange regularly tops the list of the world's highest-performing stock markets. Botswana, with its A+ credit rating, boasts one of the highest per capita government savings rates in the world, topped only by Singapore and a handful of other fiscally prudent nations. Cell phones are making phenomenal profits on the continent. Brand-name companies like Coca-Cola, GM, Caterpillar and Citibank have invested in Africa for years and are quite bullish on the future.

The failure to show this side of Africa creates a one-dimensional caricature of a complex continent. .. With good governance and sound fiscal policies, countries like Botswana, Ghana, Uganda, Senegal and many more are bustling, their economies growing at surprisingly robust rates.

Private enterprise is not just limited to the well-behaved nations. [In Somalia] private enterprise is flourishing. Mogadishu has the cheapest cell phone rates on the continent, mostly due to no government intervention. In the northern city of Hargeysa, the markets sell the latest satellite phone technology. The electricity works. When the state collapsed in 1991, the national airline went out of business. Today, there are five private carriers and price wars keep the cost of tickets down. .. Obviously life there would be dramatically improved by good governance -- or even just some governance -- but it's also true that, through resilience and resourcefulness, Somalis have been able to create a functioning society.

Most African businesses suffer from an extreme lack of infrastructure, but the people I met were too determined to let this stop them. It just costs them more. Without reliable electricity, most businesses have to use generators. They have to dig bore-holes for a dependable water source. Telephone lines are notoriously out of service, but cell phones are filling the gap. .. As I interviewed successful entrepreneurs, I was continually astounded by their ingenuity, creativity and steadfastness. These people are the future of the continent. "

  8:33:32 PM  permalink  

What is a Hypervisor: Brief summary of how a virtual machine hypervisor relates to its hardware, and of upcoming hardware support.  "Intel and AMD are both working on providing full Hypervisor support at the CPU level, introducing a new CPU Ring (-1), with respective project codenames "Vanderpool" and "Pacifica".  A thin layer of Windows virtualization technology will move to execute at Hypervisor CPU Ring -1 to take full advantage of hardware innovations from Intel and AMD."  2:37:46 PM  permalink  

Are We Prepared for Avian Flu?: An interview with "Laurie Garrett, the only reporter to win all three of journalism's big "P" awards (the Peabody, the Polk and the Pulitzer) .. resigned from Newsday earlier this year [citing] a deteriorating climate for journalism .. Today, Garrett is Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her story "The Next Pandemic?" was published in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs ..

"Avian influenza comes from aquatic birds, including migratory ducks, geese and herons. The loss of these birds' migratory routes in China has brought them into direct contact with humans in farms and parks. In this way, influenza is spread from migrating birds to domestic birds, then to pigs and ultimately to humans. This chain of events involves veterinary science, ecology and medicine, the triumvirate studied by the science of conservation medicine."  One general issue: we lack "respectful mutual lines of communication between those protecting human health, those protecting animal health and those dealing with ecology."

On avian flu response specifically:  "I think the CDC is doing a lot. But what I keep trying to get across to people is that flu starts in Asia. We're a lot better off if we can stop it in Asia than if we wait until it is here and try to figure out some means to minimize the damage. And that means a whole lot more multinational agreements, and this is difficult at a time when our Congress is full of members saying really terrible things about China [and Vietnam]..

In a recent study published in Nature, a team at Oxford University did a computer model just simply asking if it is possible to stop pandemic flu. And the good news is their answer is yes, it is possible, but the bad news is it can be stopped only if you identify it when there are just 30 human cases. Well, we're not going to spot those first 30 human cases before it spreads to hundreds or thousands of people unless we have a much better infrastructure of public health, vigilance and surveillance in poor countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and in countries with more money but completely lacking in sophisticated public health infrastructure, like China." "

  2:04:44 PM  permalink  

VMware, Sun Microsystems Partner on Server Partitioning: "VMware will be packaging Solaris 10 in the pre-configured, "shrink-wrap" virtual machines that the company launched a few months ago."  1:03:35 PM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, August 14, 2005


Mobile phones in Kenya:  Good anecdotes on small business' use of phones.  "When handyman Alex Theuri puts down his wrenches after laying water-pipes in buildings, he picks up screwdrivers and pliers to install electric wiring elsewhere -- but there's one tool he's never without. The mobile phone has become the most essential work item for Theuri, a Kenyan plumber, electrician and small businessman who, like so many others in the East African nation, makes a living from various different jobs at the same time."  12:57:04 PM  permalink  

HopStop.com - Subway and bus directions:  Good service for finding your way within NYC, Boston, or DC, including walking directions, taking rush hours into account.  Available in multiple languages and over mobile phones; good for tourists.  12:51:33 PM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, August 13, 2005


OSx86 in the Wild: Running OSX as a guest VM will be interesting (once it gets released legally).  There are several bio and grid apps that run natively on OSX, plus various media products that are better in OSX.  "We can confirm that a torrent containing a VMware image of Tiger x86 has been leaked to a major torrent site.  This virtual hard drive image has supposedly been hacked to circumvent TPM and run on non-SSE3 machines.  ..  We obviously have not tested this image (and will not, due to its blatant violation of the DMCA) .."  7:43:06 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, August 12, 2005


Study of super-hard ceramics: "A discovery reported in the August 5 issue of Science could speed the design of materials that approach the hardness of diamond yet remain supple enough to be worked like metal.  In a massive computer simulation involving 128 computer processors and nearly 19 million atoms, materials scientist Izabela Szlufarska of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and colleagues at University of Southern California demonstrated the precise atomic mechanisms that explain why "nanostructured" ceramic materials-some of the hardest substances known-also exhibit unusual pliability.

Unlike other exceptionally hard materials, these advanced ceramics tend to bend rather than break, meaning they could be shaped into extremely long-lasting yet lightweight parts for everything from automobile engines and high-speed machining tools to medical implants in the body.

Simulations can help to answer this by providing a level of detail unavailable to experiments. Using atomic-scale simulations, the team observed for the first time how atoms moved and interacted as a super-hard ceramic deformed under stress. The advance has not only provided unprecedented insight into the properties of these materials, but also a tool that researchers can use to systematically nano-engineer them. ..

The researchers next want to learn how to control the crossover point so as to engineer greater hardness into nano-crystalline silicon carbide without compromising pliability. For example, they could vary the volume of the grain boundaries or the size of the grains. Impurities, or dopants, might also be added to the grain boundaries to make the material stronger.  Key to it all is the enormous computing power that allows scientists to simulate the material’s atomic details.  "The experiments and devices have become smaller and smaller, while the simulations have grown larger and larger," says Szlufarska. "This is a unique time when the leading edge of materials design is exactly at the same length scale where fully atomic simulations are possible." "

  2:21:50 PM  permalink  

Towards a green nanotechnology: Review of the issues and early studies.  "nanotechnology has been the subject of projections concerning its possible environmental risks well before its wide-scale commercialization. Raising such questions when nanotechnology is still in its infancy may result in better, safer products and less long-term liability for industry.

The rapidly developing nanomaterials industry is the nanotechnology that is most likely to affect our lives first. .. In the environmental technology industry alone, nanomaterials will enable new means of reducing the production of wastes, using resources more sparingly, cleaning up industrial contamination, providing potable water, and improving the efficiency of energy production and use. Commercial applications of nanomaterials currently or soon to be available include nano-engineered titania particles for sunscreens and paints, carbon nanotube composites in tires, silica nanoparticles as solid lubricants, and protein-based nanomaterials in soaps, shampoos, and detergents.

The production, use, and disposal of nanomaterials will inevitably lead to their appearance in air, water, soils, or organisms. Research is needed to ensure that nanomaterials, and the industry that produces them, evolve as environmental assets rather than liabilities.   Unfortunately, little is known about the potential environmental impacts of nanomaterials...

An encouraging trend is that the methods used to produce nanomaterials often become “greener” as they move from the laboratory to industrial production. Setting aside the issue of nanomaterials’ toxicity, preliminary results suggest that fabricating nanomaterials entails risks that are less than or comparable to those associated with many current industrial activities.  ..

It would be naïve to imagine that nanotechnology will evolve without risks to our health and environment. While attempting to halt the development of nanomaterial-inspired technologies would be as irresponsible as it is unrealistic, responsible development of these technologies demands vigilance and social commitment. "

  2:05:03 PM  permalink  

Security Watch: Major Cisco router flaw:  "Until recently, the idea of penetrating the Cisco Shellcode via remote access was fanciful. That was before security researcher Michael Lynn stepped up the lectern at this year's Black Hat conference, and after first stumbling through a deliberately faux presentation on VoIP security, proceeded to describe some (but not all) of his research to a skeptical audience. During his presentation, Lynn offered a quick demo of how he could access the root of a Cisco router remotely. ..

by remotely attacking the Cisco IOS Shellcode, you could destroy the instruction set on the hardware that tells the router to turn on again...  Following Black Hat, Cisco issued an advisory detailing how flaws in the way older Cisco IOS system process IP6v packets could allow a remote user control of the router. ..
 
by April, Cisco rolled out a patch via software upgrade. Problem was, neither Cisco nor ISS really explained why the patch was necessary. Applying a patch on a network router often requires that the router be shut down for a given length of time; on a busy network, this requires scheduling, to say the least. Thus, many Cisco clients may not have applied the patch .."

  11:23:21 AM  permalink  

Puffin Cam:  "The Project Puffin seabird camera is now beaming live-streaming video from Matinicus Rock—Maine’s largest colony of Atlantic Puffins and Razorbills. Matinicus Rock is located 22 miles south of Rockland, Maine. .. The robotic camera was funded by grants from MBNA Foundation and the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund. The video signal is beamed by microwave 25 miles to Rockland .. When the [visitor] Center opens, visitors will be able to operate the camera. The camera is an invention of Daniel Zatz of SeeMore Wildlife Systems of Homer, Alaska.

The camera is set to move every two minutes on an auto tour of 20 preset locations that show seabird habitat on Matinicus Rock. The auto tour includes the murre attraction program that is using decoys to encourage Common Murres to nest on the island.. The camera turns on automatically at 5AM and runs until 9PM- at which time viewers will be able to see the light sending its powerful beams. .. The auto tour also includes two minutes of observation within an underground puffin burrow. Using infrared lighting, viewers will be able to see the growing chick and its parents. This is the first underground video of nesting puffins to be shown on the Internet. "

  11:17:36 AM  permalink  

Internet Scammers Keep Working in Nigeria: "In Festac Town, an entire community of scammers overnights on the Internet. By day they flaunt their smart clothes and cars and hang around the Internet cafes, trading stories about successful cons and near misses, and hatching new plots.  Festac Town is where communication specialists operating underground sell foreign telephone lines over which a scammer can purport to be calling from any city in the world. Here lurk master forgers and purveyors of such software as "e-mail extractors," which can harvest e-mail addresses by the million. Now, however, a 3-year-old crackdown is yielding results, Nigerian authorities say.

Nuhu Ribadu, head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, says cash and assets worth more than $700 million were recovered from suspects between May 2003 and June 2004. More than 500 suspects have been arrested, more than 100 cases are before the courts and 500 others are under investigation, he said."

  11:12:31 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Google 'intelligence' fills in the blanks: Nifty feature.  Ask a google query with a * and it'll search for pages that match.  Example:  Ann Arbor is the * of the midwest , or cgnet is a * .  10:39:33 AM  permalink  

Google adds RSS News feeds.  10:20:31 AM  permalink  

Trading Cricket for Jihad: "We know, thanks to a database gathered by Marc Sageman, formerly of the C.I.A., that about 75 percent of anti-Western terrorists come from middle-class or upper-middle-class homes. An amazing 65 percent have gone to college, and three-quarters have professional or semiprofessional jobs, particularly in engineering and science. .. these men are, far from being medieval, drawn from the ranks of the educated, the mobile and the multilingual. .. The jihadists are modern psychologically as well as demographically because they are self-made men (in traditional societies there are no self-made men). Rather than deferring to custom, many of them have rebelled against local authority figures .. They have sought instead some utopian cause to give them an identity and their lives meaning. ..

In other words, the conflict between the jihadists and the West is a conflict within the modern, globalized world. The extremists are the sort of utopian rebels modern societies have long produced. In his book "Globalized Islam," the French scholar Olivier Roy points out that today's jihadists have a lot in common with the left-wing extremists of the 1930's and 1960's. Ideologically, Islamic neofundamentalism occupies the same militant space that was once occupied by Marxism. It draws the same sorts of recruits (educated second-generation immigrants, for example), uses some of the same symbols and vilifies some of the same enemies (imperialism and capitalism). .. Roy emphasizes that the jihadists are the products of globalization, and its enemies. ..

The first implication, clearly, is that democratizing the Middle East, while worthy in itself, may not stem terrorism. .. Second, the jihadists' weakness is that they do not spring organically from the Arab or Muslim world. They claim to speak for the Muslim masses, as earlier radicals claimed to speak for the proletariat. But they don't. Surely a key goal for U.S. policy should be to isolate the nationalists from the jihadists.  Third, terrorism is an immigration problem. .. Countries that do not encourage assimilation are not only causing themselves trouble, but endangering others around the world as well. "

  5:38:24 AM  permalink  

G.M. Thrives in China With Small, Thrifty Vans: "In this obscure corner of southern China, General Motors seems to have hit on a hot new formula: $5,000 minivans that get 43 miles to the gallon in city driving. That combination of advantages has captivated Chinese buyers, propelling G.M. into the leading spot in this nascent car market.  ..

The minivans, which G.M. builds in a joint venture with a Chinese partner, have a quarter the horsepower of American minivans, weak acceleration and a top speed of 81 miles an hour. The seats are only a third the thickness of seats in Western models but look plush compared with some Chinese cars. ..

The utilitarian minivans and pickups are mainly purchased in China by small-business owners in towns and smaller cities, who drive them both to carry supplies for their businesses and to transport their families. .. The minivans have been a big hit, helping G.M. sell more than 170,000 very small vehicles - automobile types not available in the United States - and to pass Volkswagen this year in sales in a market that VW has dominated for two decades. They have helped turn China into G.M.'s biggest center of automotive profit - in contrast to losses in manufacturing operations in the United States - and its second-largest market in terms of the number of vehicles sold, after the United States...

The Chinese government has also encouraged a shift toward more efficient models through stringent fuel-economy regulations, even as Congress has opted for more subsidies for oil production and a limit on hybrid car subsidies .."

  5:32:53 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, August 08, 2005


Terror views of Indonesians changed by tsunami relief:  "In the first substantial shift of public opinion in the Muslim world since the beginning of the United States’ global war on terrorism, more people in the world’s largest Muslim country now favor American efforts against terrorism than oppose them. This is just one of many dramatic findings of a new nationwide poll in Indonesia conducted February 1-6, 2005 ..

  • For the first time ever in a major Muslim nation, more people favor US-led efforts to fight terrorism than oppose them (40% to 36%).  Importantly, those who oppose US efforts against terrorism have declined by half, from 72% in 2003 to just 36% today.
  • For the first time ever in a Muslim nation since 9/11, support for Osama Bin Laden has dropped significantly (58% favorable to just 23%).
  • 65% of Indonesians now are more favorable to the United States because of the American response to the tsunami, with the highest percentage among people under 30."
  6:16:13 PM  permalink  

Padded Downloads: PAD is "Portable Application Description", an XML document that software packages include with descriptive info.  9:37:54 AM  permalink  

A Bright, Shiny Service: Sparklines:  Nifty minigraphs that can be generated on the fly and embedded into web text.   The article also provides a good example of how to define and generate simple web services.  9:35:55 AM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, August 07, 2005


Secure RSS Syndication: Using greasemonkey to decrypt web content in the browser.  Neat.  10:40:27 PM  permalink  

Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action: Richard A. Clarke and others released this report in November 2004.  The Summary of the Recommendations is worth reading:  "We argue that the threat is not terrorism, nor even all terrorist organizations, but rather jihadist terrorists, who seek to hijack Islam and use violence to replace existing governments with non-democratic theocracies. In most predominately Muslim nations, these affiliated jihadist groups seek to overthrow the existing government .. In Islamic countries, the jihadists seek to expel non-Muslims and non-Muslim influences. In nations where Muslims are in the minority, jihadists seek to create sub-cultures that are insulated from the nations and societies in which they exist. Often they also use their presence in these nations as a base for propaganda, recruitment, fundraising, and terrorism aimed at influencing the host governments. ..

There is disagreement as to whether jihadists are motivated chiefly by U.S. actions, such as the invasion of Iraq or U.S. support to Israel, or by their desire to create theocratic governments. Jihadists successfully employ criticism of U.S. policies to widen their support. Whether or not the U.S. were in Iraq or Israel in the West Bank, however, the core jihadists would still seek to overthrow existing regimes to create theocracies, and would target the U.S. because American support of existing Islamic governments makes that goal harder to achieve. ..

Since 9/11 Washington has provided only $516 million dollars towards the $5.6 billion the Coast Guard estimates U.S. ports need to make them minimally secure. In the FY2005 budget, the White House asked for just $50 million more. ..

The $155 million appropriated by Congress for [rail security] is about 1% of the funding appropriated for aviation security, though 16 times as many people travel by public transportation every day than by air. The next administration has the opportunity to play a critical role in this process by ensuring the passage of a block grant program dedicated to enhancing transit system security, focusing in particular on subways, commuter trains, and Amtrak railways...

Today, there are 123 chemical plants in this nation that, if attacked, could threaten up to one million people each. Yet there is no requirement to secure these plants. A Government Accounting Office (GAO) report released in March 2003 noted that even though U.S. chemical facilities were “attractive targets for terrorists,” the ability of any facility to respond to an attack was “unknown.” GAO found that the chemical industry was not required by law to assess vulnerabilities or take action to secure its facilities, and that “the federal government has not comprehensively assessed the chemical industry’s vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks.”.. "

  4:42:35 PM  permalink  

When Pigs Wi-Fi:  Free WiFi works in rural Oregon:  "this chunk of arid farm country appears to be the largest Wi-Fi hot spot in the world, with wireless high-speed Internet access available free for some 600 square miles. Most of that is in eastern Oregon, with some just across the border in southern Washington .. Morrow and Umatilla Counties in eastern Oregon are far ahead of them in providing high-speed Internet coverage to residents, schools and law enforcement officers - even though all of Morrow County doesn't even have a single traffic light. .. [WiFi] is free for consumers and has been up and running for more than a year and a half.

One reason it sprang up here is that a nearby Army depot contains chemical weapons, so there is special concern about what would happen if a cloud of nerve gas escaped from the depot. That fear helped provide a pot of federal money to underwrite safety systems.  Usually, the police and fire agencies communicate just by radio, but Hermiston decided to go with a public-private partnership that established a Wi-Fi network. .. all police officers now carry [wireless computers that] download data and receive images from video monitors - and, if nerve gas ever escaped, display the cloud's direction and speed.

Fingerprint readers are now being added to these portable devices so a police officer can almost instantly run a person's fingerprint through a multistate database. And if there's a report of a burglary, the police rushing to the scene can download floor plans of the building, live images from video monitors and information about the alarm system. ..

Hermiston is already starting to introduce WiMax, the next generation of technology after Wi-Fi, offering much higher speeds and greater range."

  10:56:41 AM  permalink  

prefuse: an interactive visualization toolkit: "prefuse is a user interface toolkit for building highly interactive visualizations of structured and unstructured data. This includes any form of data that can be represented as a set of entities (or nodes) possibly connected by any number of relations (or edges). Examples of data supported by prefuse include hierarchies (organization charts, taxonomies, file systems), networks (computer networks, social networks, web site linkage) and even non-connected collections of data (timelines, scatterplots). Using this toolkit, developers can create responsive, animated graphical interfaces for visualizing, exploring, and manipulating these various forms of data. prefuse is written in the Java programming language using the Java2D graphics library and is designed to integrate with any application written using the Java Swing user interface library. " Many good demos at the site.  See also JUNG, "the Java Universal Network/Graph Framework is a software library that provides a common and extendible language for the modeling, analysis, and visualization of data that can be represented as a graph or network. "  10:19:50 AM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, August 06, 2005


Posting, Subscribing, and Tagging:  Nice summary of how they layer, what they're good for.  "We are five years into the posting revolution, two to three years into the subscribing revolution, and maybe one year into the tagging revolution. We are just looking at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be done with these techniques."  And they're all carrying spam, too. I think we'll see them gamed heavily for political and PR purposes.  12:59:54 PM  permalink  

Osama bin Laden's Heir By Alexis Debat: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as Osama bin Laden's replacement, and Iraq as a replacement for jihads Afghan base.  11:33:34 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, August 05, 2005


Robotic Hacking:  Folks are now hacking Roomba vacuums, and there's a rumor that its maker, iRobot, will endorse the trend with an API so that third parties will sell add-ons.  11:17:26 PM  permalink  

MP3300 Tekkeon myPower ALL Universal Rechargeable Battery: Extender battery kit with multiple plugs and power levels.  11.8 oz (330g), 3.28” (W) x 6.80” (L) x .92” (D), lithium polymer battery, 3 hour charging time, claims 5 hours of play time for portable DVD players or 3 hours for notebook computers.  $ 99.

  8:56:35 PM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Nanotechnology kills cancer cells: Another study with light-activated nanoparticles.  "The technique works by inserting microscopic synthetic rods called carbon nanotubules into cancer cells.   When the rods are exposed to near-infra red light from a laser they heat up, killing the cell, while cells without rods are left unscathed. .. 

Under normal circumstances near-infra red light passes through the body harmlessly. But the Stanford team found that if they placed a solution of carbon nanotubules under a near-infra red laser beam, the solution heated up to about 70C in two minutes.  They then placed the tubules inside cells, and found they were quickly destroyed by the heat generated by the laser beam. .. The next step was to find a way to introduce the nantubules into cancer cells, but not healthy cells.  The researchers did this by taking advantage of the fact that, unlike normal cells, the surface of cancer cells is covered with receptors for a vitamin known as folate.  They coated the nanotubules with folate molecules, making it easy for them to pass into cancer cells, but unable to bind with their healthy cousins. Exposure to the laser duly killed off the diseased cells, but left the healthy ones untouched.

The researchers believe it should be possible to refine the technique still further, for instance by attaching an antibody to a nanotubule to target a particular kind of cancer cell.

  4:18:48 AM  permalink  

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