2005: April part 1 part 2 [March, May]
How Long Is Your Misperception List? [VARBusiness 3/17/2005] Your decisions could be clouded by misguided ideas. I suggest gathering the team and writing on a whiteboard everything your company collectively believes that, frankly, is not true. They might be as simple as, "We are making gains against our rivals," or "Our processes are better than last year," or even "Our competition is slipping." Or more specific: "Our go-to-market strategy is well-founded," or "There's no way Jim in accounting or Stan in engineering would leave if they got better offers." How long is your misperception list? If it's longer than when you started in this business, you're going the wrong way. 4/11/2005 10:54:18 AM
Engineers Redesign Roads to Save Moose - And Squirrel? [Yahoo News 4/11/2005 via Fark] Standing six feet at the shoulder, weighing up to 1,000 pounds, with massive antlers more than five feet across, moose tower over automobiles and have no fear of them. Increasingly the undisputed giants of the northern forest are tangling with traffic as they expand south. But now some traffic engineers around the country are experimenting with redesigning roads to accommodate wandering wildlife and using high tech laser and infrared devices, developed for space exploration and anti-missile systems, to warn motorists when a moose wanders into the road.
"We're investigating ways to manipulate the drivers and also ways to manipulate the animals," said John Perry, a biologist with the Maine Department of Transportation. "And when moose are involved, it might be easier to manipulate the driver."4/11/2005 9:53:22 AM
Robot jockeys to ride Gulf camels. [BBC News | World 4/10/2005; 1:53:39 PM] The United Arab Emirates says it will use robots as jockeys for camel races from next season. Camel racing is one of the UAE's traditional sports and an important part of the region's heritage. The move comes after widespread international criticism of the use of young children to ride camels during the long and often hazardous races. Aid workers say there are up to 40,000 child jockeys working across the Gulf. Many are said to be have been kidnapped and trafficked from South Asia. 4/10/2005 9:17:28 PM
Our Ratings, Ourselves [Slashdot: 4/10/2005; 8:52:30 PM] This long New York Times article (10 pages; no registration required) reports on the mismeasure of television (TV). "One of the great contradictions of modern American life is that almost everyone watches TV while almost no one agrees anymore about what it really means to watch television....when it comes to figuring out how many of us are watching these shows, and whether we're paying attention while we're watching and even whether we're actually noticing the advertisements among the shows we may or may not be watching -- well, this is where things get tricky..." 4/10/2005 9:03:38 PM
These computer bugs can kill [The Globe And Mail: National 4/10/2005; 6:52:24 PM] Keyboards are easily contaminated with germs, which in hospitals can take the form of antibiotic-resistant pathogens — the so-called superbugs, a study suggests. And once they take up residence, there's almost no getting rid of them. Tests show that bacteria are capable of surviving on keyboards for at least 24 hours. Hospitals often use plastic keyboard covers that can be removed and immersed in cleaning solutions. Even so, more attention has to be paid to the cleanliness of hands — a suggestion no infection-control practitioner would argue against. Any contact with a keyboard in a hospital setting should be followed by hand washing. 4/10/2005 8:57:42 PM
Bill Gates 0wns Einstein, Groucho, Freud, Asimov, Fuller, et al. [Cory Doctorow - Boing Boing 4/9/2005; 12:53:27 PM] Rick Prelinger writes: Corbis, the image licensing company owned by Bill Gates, has bought the Roger Richman Agency, who represents, in its words, "a roster of legendary personalities including actors & actresses, comedians, musicians, film directors, sports figures, fictional characters and historical icons. What Richman, and now Corbis/Gates, control includes "full persona usage, consisting of name, voice, signature and image (photo, illustration, animation and/or look-alike)." Dead or alive. This is the first time an image licensing company has integrated with a personality licensing company. And guess whose personas Gates now controls: Isaac Asimov; Leonard Bernstein; George Burns & Gracie Allen; James Cagney; Maria Callas; Andrew Carnegie; Maurice Chevalier; Bobby Darin; Albert Einstein; WC Fields; Sigmund Freud; Mark Foo; Betty Grable; Harry James; Al Jolson; Boris Karloff; Burt Lancaster; Gypsy Rose Lee; Vivien Leigh; Marx Brothers; Walter Matthau; Steve McQueen; Basil Rathbone; Gloria Swanson; Rudolf Valentino; Johnny Weissmuller; Mae West; the Wright brothers 4/10/2005 10:55:02 AM
South Korea Considers Using Armed Robots Along DMZ [Slashdot: 4/9/2005; 8:52:29 PM] S. Korea and N. Korea (aka the ROK and DPRK, respectively) share the most heavily fortified border that has ever existed. Now the ROK is considering deployment of armed robots sometime in the 2010s. Hundreds of thousands of combat troops are deployed along the border by both Koreas, which remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The ministry expects it will cost about 20 billion won to set up 250 robots with one every kilometer along the border. Robots with weapons mounted on their frames are each expected to be able to observe from 2 and 1 kilometers during the day and night, respectively, and will have the capability to record voices and take pictures in a 180-degree circle. "The ability to shoot at targets is a matter which needs to be discussed and worked out very carefully." 4/10/2005 10:42:21 AM
Fly brains manipulated by remote control. [MSNBC 4/7/2005] "This is a new approach to neuroscience," said Gero Miesenbock from Yale University. "We can not only passively observe but actively control behavior." Using the lasers to stimulate specific brain cells, researchers say they were able to make the flies jump, walk, flap their wings and fly. Even headless flies took flight when researchers stimulated the correct neurons, according to the study, published in the April 7 issue of the journal Cell. Biologists have long known that an electrical stimulus can trigger muscle response, but this approach used focused beams of light to stimulate neurons that would have been impossible to study using electrodes. 4/10/2005 10:14:53 AM
Open Source Developers Are Rock Stars. [LinuxWorld 4/7/2005 via Linux Today 4/9/2005] "When I was a kid, all I wanted to be was a rock star. I wanted to play guitar, get up on stage, and have everyone scream while I cranked out some hard rockin' tune..."
4/10/2005 9:28:21 AM
Open source developers are the rock stars of the software world. You can say they don't get the money and fame, but I think you're wrong. I've met open source developers who have founded software companies and are doing pretty well financially. As far as fame goes, they may not do quite as well as real rock stars but some do pretty well; Linus Torvalds is fairly famous, but I guess not like Kurt Cobain. They're also usually the most talented developers. Rock stars get where they are in the music world by being great musicians; open source rock stars get where they are by writing great code. Naming their projects is a lot like naming their bands. When you hear people talking about Subversion, Ethereal, or Excalibur (all open source projects), it's hard to tell if they mean software projects or rock bands.
A good friend of mine called me once and went on excitedly for 30 minutes about his patch to the Jakarta Struts project. After he was done telling me about it, he was almost out of breath. I reached in my pocket, pulled out a lighter, and stood there holding it lit in the air.
Music Industry P2P Claims Dismantled [via Slashdot: 4/10/2005; 6:53:17 AM] Canadian law professor Michael Geist dismantles the recording industry's claims about the peer-to-peer. Using actual data from Canada, Piercing the P2P Myths, demonstrates that the loss claims are greatly exaggerated and that P2P has had little, if any impact on the income of the artists themselves. Other reasons for the decline in CD sales revenue include: the explosive growth of DVD sales; the declining number of hours spent listening to music; the shift in music retail merchandising to big–box retailers which focus on a small number of new releases; Wal-Mart's $10US price cap (which could account for the "loss" all on its own); and the economic slowdown, with similar "losses" in all sectors. The significant decline in new releases over the past six years is probably a factor too - less product results in fewer sales. 4/10/2005 9:19:02 AM
Create a .NET Agent [Visual Studio Magazine 3/14/2005] Save time with a dynamically configurable job scheduler and notification agent using the .NET Framework. The manager oversees a collection of jobs. Each job has schedulers, notifiers, and a worker. The manager is responsible for checking each of the jobs’ schedulers periodically. When a job is scheduled, an event kicks off the job’s worker. The worker comes back with a result, and notifications may be sent out based on that result. 4/8/2005 9:27:43 PM
Take the open source development plunge with Mono [TechRepublic.com 3/22/2005] The open source Mono project brings .NET development to non-Windows systems. It supports many features of the .NET Framework, with 2.0 features currently supported or in the process of being supported. It allows you to develop code that is run on Windows systems, in addition to Linux, UNIX, and OS X. Learn more about Mono by installing it and taking it for a test drive. In addition, Mono's specific libraries for developing Linux-based applications (the gnome interface) are a boost for Linux development. 4/8/2005 9:21:24 PM
Multivendor outsourcing wins some fans, but others not sold. [Computerworld IT Management News 4/8/2005; 6:52:41 PM] Sunoco has signed IT infrastructure services deals with 17 vendors -- an extreme example of best-of-breed outsourcing. The company says it's getting lower prices as a result, but others worry that increased management requirements could offset any contract savings. 4/8/2005 7:36:37 PM
Yankee Group Slams Linux 'Extremists' [ZDNet News 4/7/2005, 7:59 AM via Slashdot: 4/8/2005; 6:52:31 PM] The Yankee Group has hit back at critics of its latest survey, which reported that Microsoft Windows Server 2003 is at least as good if not better than Linux, in terms of quality, performance and reliability. Laura DiDio, an analyst at the Yankee Group who has been at the receiving end of much of the criticism from Linux advocates, claimed the radical elements of the community could damage the reputation of open source software. "There's an extremist fringe of Linux loonies who hang out on forums and are disrespectful and threatening because you disagree with them. That can hurt the Linux community." The fanatical side of the Linux community has been highlighted by others in the past. Security analyst Mi2g, states on its Web site, "Any empirical evidence pointing to a high level of online Linux breaches is immediately shot down by religious zealots as if a church had been desecrated. The management of Mi2g has been threatened with damage to reputation and online property unless more is preached in favor of Linux."
Eric's choice of the commments from Slashdot:
- She's a prime example of how pro microsoft extremism in the course of her job has decimated her credibility.
- I'd rather people be excited about something they believe in (ie, Linux), rather than just another Microsoft-funded puppet.
- You only have her word on that. There is no mention of a police report or anyone being arrested for communicating a threat to her.
- Re: As opposed to being bought out opinionistas? She HAS fairly earned her reputation for being Microsoft's loyal enforcer
- our extremists are better than your extremists: Trying being a Mac user...
Students adopt new generation of music downloads [The Globe And Mail 4/8/2005; 11:52:08 AM] In the search for on-line customers, entertainment companies are aggressively pursuing college students, who cannot remember life before the Internet. Thousands of students at U.S. colleges are among the earliest customers of a new generation of legal downloading services approved by the largest music labels and Hollywood studios. So important is this university market that Sony BMG, the world's largest label, has paid the entire bill at some schools during trial semesters. Colleges are in fierce competition to enroll top students and fill empty dorm rooms, so they pitch music downloading to prospective students: "Who's got music downloading and who's got the most comfortable mattresses really matters." Students appear enthusiastic, despite some early kinks that can keep them from loading songs onto iPods. 4/8/2005 7:03:55 PM
10 Documents You Shouldn't Live Without. [The Motley Fool 4/8/2005; 10:53:36 AM] We may have long meant to get around to it, but it's just hard to find the time, you know? Truth be told, there are a lot of documents that we all should have. Don't get caught without these vital sheets of paper. 4/8/2005 6:55:02 PM
New Batteries: Twice the Life [PCWorld April 2005 via Gizmodo 4/8/2005; 11:52:23 AM] Move over, alkalines: In PC World tests, new Panasonic Oxyride disposable batteries delivered more than twice the performance of high-end alkalines for the same price. Oxyrides face some competition in the disposable arena from long-lived AA and AAA lithium disposable batteries, which makers say last about five times longer than alkaline batteries. But these batteries also cost about three times as much as alkalines. There's one slight catch: At least for now, you can get the batteries only from Panasonic; the company has no plans at present to license its technology to others. 4/8/2005 6:40:06 PM
Old Star Reignites its Flame. [Universe Today 4/8/2005; 2:53:47 PM] "Sakurai's Object" is a white dwarf star that surprised astronomers when if flared brightly in 1996. They originally thought it was a common nova explosion, but further observations have uncovered that the star has actually reignited its stellar furnace. Computer simulations predicted that it could be possible for leftover hydrogen to sink into the star and drive a new flash of hydrogen fusion. If the simulation is correct, the star will stay bright until around the year 2200. 4/8/2005 6:39:54 PM
Microsoft Encarta Adopting Wikiesque Process [Slashdot: 4/8/2005; 2:52:55 PM] The MSN Encarta program manager announced that readers of Microsoft's encyclopedia articles can now edit articles in a Wikipedia-like fashion. Once submitted, edits are reviewed by Encarta staff members for accuracy, readability, and proofreading before being incorporated into the article." From the post: "To support this program, we’ve hired some new research editors. Their job will be to help you out with things like fact-checking, syntax, and editorial style. Every writer can use a good editor, and we see no reason that community contributors deserve any less." This won't be a big surprise, but "Your submissions to Encarta must be your own work" and "you grant Microsoft permission to use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, translate and reformat your Submission." 4/8/2005 5:46:49 PM
Spammer Sentenced to 9 Years in Jail [Slashdot: 4/8/2005; 4:52:06 PM] Jeremy Jaynes of Raleigh, NC now has the dubious honor of being the first spammer sentenced to jail for the felony of spamming. Virginia judge Thomas Horne sentenced Jaynes to 9 years in prison based on a jury recommendation after he was convicted of sending out 10 million e-mails a day. Jaynes, who sent out much of his spam using the name "Gaven Stubberfield", has held a position on the SpamHaus Registry of Known Spam Operations for a long time. Unfortunately the sentence has been postponed while the case is being appealed.
Forbes Commentary on the sentence: Judge Horne said that because the law targeting bulk e-mail distribution is new and raises constitutional questions, it was appropriate to defer the prison time until appeals courts rule. 4/8/2005 5:35:40 PM
How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else) [via Boing Boing 4/8/2005; 1:53:51 AM Cory Doctorow] EFF has released a guide to blogging anonymously, with "basic measures people can take to keep their blogs anonymous and explores what the law says about discussing work-related issues online. Some advice is common sense; for example, don't post a picture of yourself if you want to stay anonymous. But for bloggers who want strong guarantees of privacy, EFF suggests using technologies like Tor or Anonymizer to prevent your blog-hosting company from logging your computer's unique Internet Protocol (IP) address. Bloggers who fear they could be fired for blogging are also given an introduction to laws that prevent an employer from punishing them for speaking out online."
"While your right to free speech is protected by the First Amendment, this protection does not shield you from the consequences of what you say. The First Amendment protects speech from being censored by the government; it does not regulate what private parties (such as most employers) do. In states with "at will" employment laws like California, employers can fire you at any time, for any reason. And no state has laws that specifically protect bloggers from discrimination, on the job or otherwise. One way to make sure your blog doesn't earn you a pink slip is to make sure that you write about certain protected topics. Most states have laws designed to prevent employers from firing people who talk openly about their politics outside of work, for example. Be warned that laws like this do vary widely from state to state, and many are untested when it comes to blogging." 4/8/2005 5:23:31 PM
Microsoft Writes Open Source Child Porn Buster [Slashdot: 4/8/2005; 9:53:21 AM] Microsoft and Canadian authorities on Thursday launched a software program designed to help police worldwide hunt down child porn traffickers. Police departments can use it free of charge; the software is open source." From the article: "The open source program was developed by Microsoft Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Toronto police, with the help of the Department of Homeland Security, Scotland Yard and Interpol.
Eric's Comment: Amusingly enough, the Slashdot comment crowd spouts the usual rabid anti-MS paranoia, ignoring the porn part completely. This is a standalone application, offered free to anybody who can use it, to solve a worldwide problem. What else but Open Source makes sense? As another famous Canadian once said, "Get a life!" More details from Microsoft: Working Together for Child Safety; Globe and Mail: Police, Microsoft team up against child porn 4/8/2005 10:43:42 AM
[Eric] See also:
- Slashdot | Google Suggest Dissected
- Slashdot | Google Suggest Dissected, Part II
- Google Suggest Dissected...
- How to create the Google Suggest feature with ASP.NET 2.0
Creating a quick Windows XP SP2 slipstream CD. [TechRepublic.com 4/8/2005; 3:52:08 AM] In order to avoid having to reinstall SP2, you can create a quick Windows XP SP2 slipstream CD using your original XP CD, the network installation version of SP2, and a special command. Here's how. 4/8/2005 10:17:14 AM
When does it become a standard?. [Scripting News 4/8/2005; 8:52:04 AM] Turn to page 3 of this interview with Tim Bray, one of the eleven designers of XML. Asked why there is no version 27.5 of XML, he gives a common sense answer, that XML is frozen, and isn't going to change. Of course, it couldn't be any other way. He says: "XML was frozen and published in February 1998. As it came toward the end and it became obvious -- well, not obvious, but likely anyhow -- that this was going to get a lot of momentum, we were besieged by requests for extra features of one kind or another. We basically lied and told the world, we would do all that stuff in version 2. You have to shoot the engineers and ship at some point, right? I think there will never be an XML version 2. There is an XML version 1.1, but it's controversial and not widely supported." If XML weren't frozen, it wouldn't have been possible to build XML-RPC, RSS, SOAP or OPML on top of it. While XML is not perfect, it certainly is good enough. 4/8/2005 10:14:42 AM
Google Delivering Factual Answers [Slashdot: 4/7/2005; 7:52:55 PM] Google Inc. on Thursday began delivering factual answers for some queries at the top of its results page, to save users from having to navigate over to other sites and look for the information. For example, if a user enters the query 'Portugal population,' Google returns the answer -- 10.5 million -- along with a link to the Web page where the information came from, which in this case is the population page of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's Factbook. The query 'who is Jane Fonda?' triggers the answer '... is an Academy Award winning American actress, model, writer, producer, activist and philanthropist' and provides the link to the Wikipedia online encyclopedia's entry for the actress. A small percentage of queries currently trigger these factual answers, but the service, called Google Q&A, is in its early stages, said Peter Norvig, Google's director of search quality. 4/7/2005 8:09:35 PM
Ask these key questions to test application security. [TechRepublic.com 4/7/2005; 3:52:39 AM] Companies should conduct application testing from both an authorized user's and an unauthorized user's perspective. This testing should include all systems that make up the application. Not sure where to begin? Mike Mullins suggests some key questions to ask when testing. Let's look at some main areas to focus on and some key questions to ask when testing.
- Scripting: Could someone script an attack that overwhelms the application?
- Enumeration: Is it possible to enumerate account information of other users?
- Passwords: Have you changed the default passwords?
- Sessions: Have you based tokens on easily re-created variables, such as sequential, time, date?
- Error handling: Does your application reveal information about the products used to create it?
- Field variables: Have you fixed SQL injection and buffer overflows?
- Code commenting: Have you cleansed HTML of comments and unused metadata?
- Session time-out: Do sessions expire after a reasonable period of time?
- Session cache: Does information expire to prevent someone from replaying a session?
- Network parameters: Have you documented ports and protocols and filtered for origination?
One Size Fits One: Tailoring Technology to Consumer Needs. [Knowledge@Wharton 4/6/2005; 5:53:01 PM] While a number of commentators these days suggest that the web could ultimately make newspapers, magazines and TV obsolete, Jeff Weiner, senior vice president for search and marketplace at Yahoo!, doesn't buy it: Bloggers may critique and supplement the big outlets, but they won't soon replace them. The future, he predicted, won't belong to either mass or micro players, but rather to consumers who will increasingly tailor their information gathering to their needs and tastes. The move toward more personal media isn't limited to the web, he said. Its musical analog is the digital music player -- iPods are the most prominent example -- which lets users not only download songs but also mix and store them in varied ways. The TV versions are TiVo's digital video recorders and cable's on-demand video services. "Talk to people who have TiVo, and they will tell you that it absolutely changed their lives," Weiner noted. "TiVo users have an evangelical zeal." 4/7/2005 6:14:14 PM
File-Sharing Is the Latest Battleground in the Clash of Technology and Copyright. [New York Times 4/7/2005 via Tomalak's Realm] This is just the latest installment of a longstanding battle between technology companies and copyright holders. In the early 1900's, the disruptive technology was player pianos. Manufacturers of player piano rolls purchased a single copy of the sheet music of a song, hired someone to record the music and then sold these mechanical reproductions to consumers. The sheet music publishers held that this was copyright infringement. Congress responded with the Copyright Act of 1909, which required piano roll manufacturers to pay songwriters a fee for each roll. Subsequently, mechanical reproduction fees have been extended to new technologies like phonographs, audio tapes, CD's and online streaming digital music.
Almost 100 years later, up to $1 of the cost of each music CD still goes to the sheet music publishers. -- Eric 4/7/2005 6:00:44 PM
Sinister Heresy: Microsoft's Open Source Message Gains Subtlety. [NewsForge April 07, 2005
This article appears to be a review of a seminar describing Microsoft's revised attitude towards Open Source. As I read it, though, I started wondering when the Spanish Inquisition was going to show up. The article is actually a warning to all True Believers that Microsoft has started using the "time-honored debating tactics" of being polite, reasonable, honest, and thoughtful, to promote its Microsoft-Is-Not-ALL-Evil heresy. It ends up with a warning that "even these informed people" can be influenced to stray by these sinister "tactics", and that it "shows that the rules of engagement can change at any time -- and that the FOSS Community had better be ready when they do." What ever happened to the Apple fanatics? -- Eric
"Barnaby Jeans, an IT Pro Advisor at Microsoft Canada, has a new approach to Microsoft advocacy. ... Warning that "not all distributions are created equal or even compatible" without giving specifics, he goes on to say that most of the highly customized distributions fall into the Roll Your Own category that most corporations lack "the skill or the money to maintain." The implication is that the advantages of having access to the source code is overrated. ... Because Jeans demonstrates a knowledge of his subject, the implications of his argument are likely to be accepted without question, except by audience members who already know something about the subject. ... The result is a much more sophisticated and effective defense of Microsoft than consumers usually see. ... The effectiveness can be judged by the fact that the people who approached him after the seminar were the open source users in the audience. Although their opinions were unchanged, even these informed people seemed to respect the Microsoft perspective in a way that they had not at the start of the presentation. ... Many people in the FOSS communities are used to the Microsoft response to open source being crude and hysterical. What Jeans proves is that it can just as easily be subtle and sound reasonable. Even more importantly, he shows that the rules of engagement can change at any time -- and that the FOSS Community had better be ready when they do."4/7/2005 5:00:20 PM
Discovery's Rollout Viewed - From Orbit. [NASA Watch 4/7/2005; 1:52:24 AM] Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao used a digital camera April 6 to photograph the rollout of the Space Shuttle Discovery at NASA's Kennedy Space Center from an altitude of 220 statute miles. Chiao used the same lens arrangement for the photograph that will be used by the next Station crew to photograph Discovery's heat shield as it approaches the Station on its Return to Flight.
You can also view KSC's Shuttle launch pads using Google's new satellite imagery service. 4/7/2005 4:26:02 PM
MTV announces an Internet "channel." [Scripting News 4/7/2005; 8:53:04 AM] MTV is launching a free "channel" on the internet that will show some of the station's TV programmes, including reality hit The Osbournes. The MTV Overdrive website will let users with high-speed computer connections watch music videos and extended programmes on demand. The website is currently being tested and will launch fully on 25 April. MTV president Van Toffler has said he is not worried about the web service drawing viewers away from their existing TV channels. "The TV experience is still great," he said. "Our ratings are moving higher and we don't fear that." 4/7/2005 4:21:50 PM
Best Buy Has Customer Arrested For Using $2 Bills. [Baltimore Sun 3/8/2005 via Anandtech 4/6/2005] A Baltimore man tried to pay for a Best Buy car stereo installation with $2 bills—and was arrested. "I'm just here to pay the bill," Bolesta says he told a cashier. "She looked at the $2 bills and told me, 'I don't have to take these if I don't want to.' She took the money, like she's doing me a favor." He remembers the cashier marking each bill with a pen. Then other store personnel began to gather, a few of them asking, "Are these real?" "Of course they are," Bolesta said. "They're legal tender."
When an employee noticed some smearing of ink, the cops were called in. The customer was locked into handcuffs and leg irons, in front of a store full of customers. He was transported to the County lockup, where he sat handcuffed to a pole and in leg irons while the Secret Service was called in. Finally, the Secret Service arrived, examined the bills and said they were legitimate, adding, according to the police report, "Sometimes ink on money can smear."
A police spokesman said, "It's a sign that we're all a little nervous in the post-9/11 world." 4/7/2005 4:18:40 PM
Microsoft Exec Broaches Open Source Paradigm. [InfoWorld 4/6/2005 via Linux Today 4/7/2005; 12:53:55] Like a Roman Catholic speaking to an audience of Protestant evangelicals, a Microsoft representative at the Open Source Business Conference Wednesday focused on similarities between traditional commercial projects and open source ventures, rather than cite sharp differences. Recognizing that some see Microsoft as anathema to open source, Microsoft’s Jason Matusow, director of the company’s Shared Source initiative, nonetheless said that companies building a business around open source operate in the same manner as commercial, proprietary vendors. 4/7/2005 4:04:52 PM
IBM: Proprietary Technology Not Enough. [CNET News 4/6/2005 11:51 AM] At the Open Source Business Conference, IBM said it's time to learn how to share. IBM itself has taken a mixed approach to open-source. It has aggressively promoted Linux and assigned hundreds of programmers to improve it. It also launched the Eclipse programming tool project. At the same time, IBM sells a lot of proprietary software, including its WebSphere business software and DB2 database. When it comes to legal actions, IBM also is mixed. The company permits use of 500 patents for open-source projects, but continues to win more patent awards than any competitor.
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, vice president of technology and strategy at IBM, described "a new kind of innovation cycle" in which companies move ahead of an expanding wave of open-source software. "A big part of your power is to have your people work with the communities and donate some of your intellectual property to those communities so they can get better. Then you build proprietary offerings on top of the open-source platform. Those proprietary offerings at some point will lose their value as proprietary offerings. Then there probably will be more value donating it to an open-source community, and on and on and on." 4/7/2005 4:01:14 PM
Call of the wild: animal ringtones. [Boing Boing 4/7/2005; 1:53:38 PM] This website offers animal sound ringtones for your mobile phone. Respond to the "true tone" of the turkey gooble, interrupted by a rifle blast. Other earthycrunchy options: Barred Owl, Canada Geese, Common Loon, Cougar, Mallard, Elk, Pintail, and Goose. Kinda pricey at $2.50 a shot. Free preview, though. 4/7/2005 3:50:38 PM
The Official Rules of Calvinball. [Bernie DeKoven's FunLog 4/6/2005; 10:52:33 AM] We are fortunate indeed to have in our virtual playground someone like Sam Ryan who has the wisdom to go to the needed lengths to document the essence of the prototypical Junkyard Sport, Calvinball. "IMPORTANT: All rules are subject to be changed, amended, or dismissed by any player(s) involved at any time...." 4/6/2005 2:42:46 PM
Microsoft Keeps Up Presence at Open-Source Events. [eWeek April 5, 2005] Determined to have its presence seen and its voice heard by its core customer constituencies amid the growing open-source chorus, Microsoft is coughing up cash and sponsoring targeted open-source conferences. The software maker is a platinum sponsor of the Open-Source Business Conference held in San Francisco this week. Jason Matusow, director of Microsoft's Shared Source program, will give a talk examining the effects of commercialization on open-source software and discussing strategies for adopting source-code licensing in a commercial software organization. 4/6/2005 2:21:42 PM
They can't steal data that you don't have. [Computerworld IT Management News 4/6/2005; 1:53:14 PM.] You can help beat data thieves by using effective data management. If you collect information that you don't actually need, not only are you spending money needlessly, but you're also opening yourself up to the risk that the unneeded data might be stolen or misused. If you can't define a valid business need or some legal or regulatory requirement for each piece of data, why are you keeping it? IT people should step back and ask whether it's appropriate to store the data they are holding, whether it's being stored for an appropriate period and whether it's being stored in a sufficiently secure fashion. 4/6/2005 2:12:42 PM
Think Week, the WSJ, and those Ten Crazy Ideas [Mini-Microsoft 4/4/2005; 9:53:14 PM] by Who da'Punk: We read a bit about Bill Gates' most recent Think Week in the March 28 Wall Street Journal article In Secret Hideaway, Bill Gates Ponders Microsoft's Future [Paid subscription required, but you may be able to access the google cache or some other on-line copy for free - Eric.] First, this Think Week is a great idea for everyone. Here's an interesting bit:
4/6/2005 1:52:19 PM
Four days into this Think Week, Mr. Gates had read 56 papers, working 18 hours straight some days. His record is 112 papers. "I don't know if I'll catch my record, but I'll certainly do 100," he said. Among the unread papers: "10 Crazy Ideas to Shake Up Microsoft."
Figures. About a month ago, a friend emailed me the "10 Crazy Ideas" paper off of Think Week. For those in Microsoft, you can go and read it yourself by navigating through the http://thinkweek/ web site and finding the Winter 2005 papers. I don't think they are crazy ideas at all and it's unfortunate, and very telling, if the paper went unread and not commented upon. Perhaps they should have chosen a more subtle title. I wish that Kentaro and Sean would go ahead and share their ideas broadly, posting either their own edited versions in a blog or emailing me text they'd like to share. I'd even serialize it! The ten crazy ideas? Mostly, more common-sense than craziness ( ooo, cut back on Bureaucracy! Craaaaaazy... ). Okay, I'll share that part:
- Schedule Unscheduled Time into Performance Reviews
- "Break Up" the Company
- Encourage Loose but Prominent Couplings
- Exile and Empower Incubation Projects
- Offer Super-exponential Rewards
- Offer Different Risk-Reward Compensation Profiles
- Cut Back on Bureaucracy
- Review Cost Cutting
- Reduce Headcount on Large Dev Projects
- Eliminate Exec Reviews
Developer Site CodeZoo Launches [Slashdot: 4/5/2005; 6:53:14 PM] CodeZoo is an archive of Java code pieces, which plans to do for Java what cpan did for Perl, according to an announcement from O'Reilly. From the announcement: "We're not focused on hosting developer projects, like SourceForge, nor on comprehensively listing all open source Java code. Instead, we've hand-selected a list of the components we think will be the easiest and best to use in your development projects -- whether you are an open source or commercial developer. It’s a fast-forward button for your compiler." 4/6/2005 9:35:54 AM
The secret of effective scope change management. [TechRepublic.com 4/5/2005; 3:53:07 AM] One of the conflicts project managers face is that they don't want to say no when someone asks for a scope change. Here's a "trick" that takes away the need to do that... [also known as "Pass The Buck" - Eric] Ask the client to send you an e-mail explaining the new capability and the business value of the change, including a description of the consequences if the change is not made. Determine the impact to the project on terms of budget and schedule and then send the benefits and costs to the sponsor for a decision. 4/6/2005 9:29:00 AM
Zinc shown to sharpen teenagers' mental skills [Globe And Mail 4/5/2005; 4:54:38 AM] Teenagers who take zinc supplements are more attentive and responsive at school, according to a new U.S. study. The research, among the first to look at the impact of the essential micronutrient on adolescents, suggests that many suffer from zinc deficiency. Teens are believed to be at particularly high risk of zinc deficiency because they are growing quickly and tend to have poor eating habits. The problem is particularly acute for girls because many adopt vegetarian diets in adolescence. 4/6/2005 9:25:11 AM
Write-on Poly Sheets - Instant whiteboards [Cool Tools 4/5/2005] Avery Polysheet instant whiteboards are thick, static-laden sheets of plastic, like ultra-heavy garbage bags. Just unroll one, slap it on the wall, and instant whiteboard! The 27 x 34 inch pad fits standard flip chart easels or conference cabinets; Rolls up for travel and storage. Dry erase markers wipe off fairly easily, and/or perforated sheets tear off cleanly. 4/6/2005 9:19:56 AM
Internet Explorer Search Prefixes. [via Lockergnome 4/5/2005] Internet Explorer has a little known feature that lets you quickly search for something on any site: IE Search prefixes. After the search prefixes are set up, you can type a single word identifier (prefix) and search query in the IE address bar to send the query to any website. For example, the prefix "kb" can go to the Microsoft Knowledge Base, "syn" to a thesaurus, or "quote MSFT" to a stock quote. This script installs several MSN search prefixes to your machine. You can add and customize your own search prefixes using the Microsoft Tweak UI utility for Windows XP. 4/6/2005 8:47:21 AM
NASA Presolicitation Notice: Sponsorship Opportunity for Bandwidth Support to Return to Flight Missions (STS-114, STS-121) [NASA Watch 4/6/2005; 1:53:29 AM] As Discovery and Atlantis are readied for their respective Return to Flight Missions, NASA is preparing to meet public demand to see the launches and missions via the NASA Web Portal (www.nasa.gov). Based on data from previous missions we expect 20 to 30 million visits with 250,000 to 500,000 Internet users also accessing NASA TV coverage via Web Streaming. NASA is seeking proposals to sponsor the bandwidth costs. In exchange for this sponsorship NASA will consider offers to display the logo of the sponsor(s) and give credit to the sponsor(s) ... 4/6/2005 8:31:18 AM
Copy This. [Fast Company 4/6/2005; 6:54:10 AM] Anne M. Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox, has the company cranking again. Here are her thoughts on changing an organization, taking risks, and telling stories. "In a crisis, you have the opportunity to move quickly and change a lot -- and you have to take advantage of that." 4/6/2005 8:19:51 AM
One Handset, Five Operating Systems. [SmartPhoneToday via Linux Today 4/6/2005; 7:52:10 AM] In theory, Palm smartphones and PDAs should work with other operating systems besides the Palm OS. There have been rumors that even the platform's founder, palmOne, may introduce a Windows Mobile edition of the Treo 650—the highest profile Palm-based device currently on the market. Oswin Technology plans to release Palm, Pocket PC, Linux, MXI, and Windows CE editions of its new Zircon Axia A108 smartphone ($899), all using the same exact hardware. The Windows CE version of the Axia A108 is already shipping with the MXI and Pocket PC editions due for release during the third quarter. Axia A108 owners will be able to ship their phone back to Oswin and have their smartphone's OS changed. 4/6/2005 8:16:14 AM
Land Walker Homebrew Mecha. [TransportTrends via MotherDigital via Gizmodo 4/5/2005; 12:53:37 PM] Calling this mecha the 'Land Walker' might be a bit generous—it's more like the 'Land Shuffler.' Nevertheless, it's a heck of a project, apparently mostly the work of one man. Too bad the guns are just for show. On the upside, there's a video, which makes it look a lot less photoshopped than in these pictures. More Information. [Sakakibara Kikai via Slashdot Japan] 4/5/2005 11:27:45 PM
Explore alternatives to Visual Studio .NET. [TechRepublic.com 4/5/2005; 1:54:16 PM] Visual Studio .NET is a powerful development tool, yet it's often overkill or too pricey if you're in a smaller shop or working on a smaller project. There are a myriad of alternative tools available... 4/5/2005 11:16:25 PM
Time to get a passport [The Globe And Mail 4/5/2005; 2:53:03 PM] Canadians travelling to the United States will be required to show a passport or other so-called “secure document” when crossing the border beginning at the end of 2006, and by 2008 Americans will be unable to return to the United States without a passport. Currently, Canadians and Americans are able to enter the United States with little more identification than a driver's licence or a birth certificate, though a passport has sometimes made it simpler to satisfy immigration officers at the border. 4/5/2005 11:12:29 PM
Quirks and Quarks as MP3s. [Boing Boing 4/5/2005; 3:53:39 PM] Cory Doctorow: Every Saturday morning for as long as I can remember, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has aired a brilliant science show called Quirks and Quarks, currently hosted by the erudite and fascinating Bob McDonald. Listening to these shows growing up is partially what's responsible for my interest in technology and science today. Since moving away from Canada, I've really missed my Quirks and Quarks -- so imagine my delight at discovering that the CBC is now making every episode available as a downloading MP3s. There is also a Podcast feed. 4/5/2005 11:05:39 PM
Battle Brews Over Unlocking PC secrets. [CNET News 4/5/2004] As computer makers move to embed security features deep within PCs, a fight is erupting over a rarely noticed but crucial piece of system software. As the BIOS becomes more powerful, these critics argue, consumers must be allowed to freely develop their own alternatives. "We need a free BIOS, because if we don't control the BIOS we don't control our computers," said Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation. "It puts me in an ethically compromised position to have a nonfree program in my machine." The free-BIOS initiative comes at a time when the BIOS is undergoing the first major change in its history - a transition from software based on machine code to a new framework dubbed the Extensible Firmware Interface, or EFI. Ultimately, the free BIOS would emulate software such as the LinuxBIOS - a free BIOS that's already in existence for Linux, but does not work with a large number of PCs - on a much broader scale. 4/5/2005 10:56:27 PM
Feds Hack Wireless Network in 3 Minutes [Slashdot: 4/5/2005; 12:54:02 PM] At a recent ISSA (Information Systems Security Association) meeting in Los Angeles, a team of FBI agents demonstrated current WEP-cracking techniques and broke a 128 bit WEP key in about three minutes. Special Agent Geoff Bickers ran the Powerpoint presentation and explained the attack, while the other agents (who did not want to be named or photographed) did the dirty work of sniffing wireless traffic and breaking the WEP keys. This article will be a general overview of the procedures used by the FBI team. 4/5/2005 10:46:26 PM
First Confirmed Picture of a Planet Beyond the Solar System [space.com April 1, 2005 but NOT, it turns out, a joke] Astronomers have finally obtained the first photograph of a planet beyond our solar system. The planet is thought to be one to two times as massive as Jupiter, according to the scientists who imaged it. It orbits a star similar to a young version of our Sun, about 1 million years old, whereas the Sun is middle-aged, at 4.6 billion years old. The star GQ Lupi is part of a star-forming region about 400 light-years away.
Astrophysics, abstract astro-ph/0503691: Evidence for a co-moving sub-stellar companion of GQ Lup [arXiv.org e-Print archive] We present a companion of the le 2 Myr young classical T Tauri star GQ Lup in the Lupus star forming region at 140 pm 50 pc from imaging, astrometry, and spectroscopy. With direct K-band imaging using VLT/NACO, we detected an object 6 mag fainter than GQ Lup located 0.7 arc sec west of it. 4/5/2005 10:41:42 PM
Study: Windows Reputation Gets a Lift. [Redmondmag.com 4/5/2005; 1:54:10 PM] Microsoft made strides among customers this year in improving the image of Windows servers against Linux servers on security, quality, performance and reliability, according to a new independent study.
[Slashdot: 4/4/2005; 8:52:33 PM] A survey by Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio shows Windows and Linux are viewed as equal by U.S. businesses. In the eternal OS wars, '88 percent of respondents said that the quality, performance and reliability of Windows was equal to or better than Linux.' Companies were also asked to rank the operating systems on security. On a scale of 1 to 10 'companies rated Microsoft's security at 7.6, double the rating in a similar survey conducted last year. Linux's rating was mostly the same at 8.3.' Conclusion? 'DiDio said that most companies -- whether large or small -- rarely take the huge step of replacing one operating system with another. Instead, they usually add a mix of Windows and Linux server software to expand functionality.' Microsoft used last year's Yankee Group survey results in their Get the facts campaign. 4/5/2005 10:22:42 PM
Don't Lead With Your Heart. [Silicon.com via Linux Today 4/5/2005] When technology is both your livelihood and your passion, it can be hard not to get emotional about preferences for particular platforms, standards, products and vendors. Nowhere is this clearer than with operating systems and the ongoing mindshare battle between proponents of the open source Linux and Microsoft's Windows... Yet let's not get stuck on Linux vs. Windows. Biases exist in all corners of the IT world. We all have them, loathe though we may be to admit it. But being a professional means recognising any prejudices - and then moving beyond them to make clear-headed decisions that are in the best interest of the efficiency and health of your organisation. Security concerns are the main reason IT managers consider switching from Windows to Linux on the desktop - but the cost of migration and compatibility issues remain significant barriers, according to a study by analyst house Quocirca. 4/5/2005 10:17:12 PM
Sony announce the NW-HD5 Network Walkman. [Pocket-LintUK] via [Gizmodo 4/5/2005] Sony has just taken the wraps off their new NW-HD5 hard disk-based music player, a tiny little thing with 20GB of storage but weighing just 125 grams. Sony is also promising an ample 40 hours of bettery life and an easily removable battery. The NW-HD5 will be available in silver, red, and black and will go on sale in the UK next month for £200 (no word of a US release yet). The coolest trick is probably its new 'Follow Turn Display,' which orients the interface screen depending on which way the NW-HD5 is held. Pocket-LintUK will be posting a review of the new player by the end of the week. 4/5/2005 10:02:16 PM
Canada put on the on-line map [The Globe And Mail: Business 4/5/2005; 4:53:46 PM] A free, interactive, Web-based, Atlas of Canada has been launched. The maps allow users to zoom and pan, add and remove overlays, and interact with informative themed Web pages to explore details of Canada's geography, culture and people. "Themed modules invite an in-depth exploration of topics ranging from weather to flora and fauna, as well as Canada's diverse people and its unique history. These modules feature rich media including video and animated graphics." 4/5/2005 9:43:12 PM
Coming to an eye near you: video glasses [Times Online 3/31/2005] Scalar is now selling an impressively lightweight LCD screen that can be mounted on ordinary glasses. The 7 gram, ¼in screen offers a simulated 14-inch screen with 180,000 pixels (roughly television resolution - 360x500?). It connects to any standard audiovisual unit. It's not terribly expensive, either, at just $460 or so. Teleglass has already been a hit with a select few Tokyo commuters who managed to get hold of early versions of the gadget. The first batch produced by Scalar was discreetly sold from its website — and sold out almost immediately. Now the company is now embarking on a large sales drive and should have the devices in Japanese stores within a few weeks. More info: Teleglass by Scalar [medgadget]; Ultra-Lightweight LCD Glasses [I4U]. 4/5/2005 12:23:12 PM
Plugged in -- Next Big Tech Ideas May Be Small Ones. via [Linux Today 4/4/2005; 4:53:01 PM] Five years after the tech boom went bust, there's a dearth of million dollar or billion dollar ideas, or so some fret. But it doesn't mean that there is no smart new technology to wow consumers. It's just that people are finding more efficient ways to do it. Maybe that's because it has never been easier to create potent technology hybrids that mix-and-match hardware components, use a bit of borrowed software code, and require only a few thousand dollars of investment... By taking advantage of low-cost computers, freely shared software and high-speed Web connections, the next wave of innovations may not come from any venture-capital funded skunkworks or big business research lab. 4/4/2005 9:15:31 PM
Dayton, Ohio: Free City-Wide WiFi [Slashdot: 4/4/2005; 2:53:38 PM] The City of Dayton, Ohio announced a plan to make all of downtown a WiFi hotspot - and as of last week, the network is live. This makes Dayton the first Ohio city to offer free WiFi access. Approximately one square mile of downtown is now live. The WiFi project is a public/private partnership not funded by taxpayers, and comes at no charge to the end user.
User Boon or Starbucks Devil?. [Lockergnome's Windows Fanatics 4/4/2005; 3:52:28 PM] The program, which the city estimates costs it a measly $5,000 per year, is paid for through advertising. And Cleveland boasts the world's largest free wifi area (so far) with an astounding 550 acres. Other cities with free city-wide (or at least zone-wide) wifi access include Hermosa Beach, California, and Seattle, Washington. But of course, free city-wide access raises some questions. Oh sure, there are the usual questions about security and responsbility. And there are the ever-present questions which arise with any free wifi service, such as do you really know how secure it is, and how to avoid wifi evil twins. But aside from those, what about poor Starbucks?... 4/4/2005 9:09:47 PM
A Boost for Amazon's Book Sales?. [The Motley Fool 4/4/2005; 2:53:19 PM] The online bookseller purchases a print-on-demand concern. By providing print on demand, Amazon will be able to get copies of out-of-print books as well as foreign-language titles. The service also lets authors self-publish their works. It's an interesting time to delve into this arena. Given the democratic nature of the Internet and its ability to provide products and services on an as-needed basis, such a move has probably made sense since the year Amazon.com was born. On the other hand, you can't ignore that it's been suspiciously lacking until now. 4/4/2005 8:48:56 PM
Experiencing the power of SQL templates. [TechRepublic.com 4/4/2005; 3:53:45 PM] SQL Server ships with a variety of templates designed to simplify the most common tasks. SQL Server 2000 Query Analyzer (QA) has a library of templates that you can use to create stored procedures. The QA interface tends to hide this feature, which may be why so few developers know it's there. You’ll find them in the Program FilesMicrosoft SQL Server80ToolsTemplatesSQL Query Analyzer folder, which contains 13 subfolders that house templates devoted to a particular task (such as Create Table). Each folder contains several templates... 4/4/2005 8:41:43 PM
Kadrey's latest novel as free PDF. [Boing Boing 4/4/2005; 5:52:33 PM] Richard Kadrey is one of the original guard of cyberpunk authors; his Metrophage is a classic of the genre. He's just posted the full text of his latest novel, Blind Shrike, to the web as a free PDF download.
The downloadable file has been designed for on-screen reading by the eminent typographer and bookdesigner John D. Berry and described in detail: Acrobatics -- Putting the Story on the Screen: "Few designers seem to have tried using PDF as a format for designing extended text that's comfortable to read onscreen... Nobody wants to read a long story in a Web browser... I felt that most people would rather read a serif face, if it could be made to look readable at screen resolutions... On a screen page, justifying the text just made it look busier; the effect was distracting, rather than comfortable. So I set the text ragged-right, and adjusted the line breaks as I needed to when I prepared the final layout... To ease the glare of reading onscreen, I gave the pages a subtle background color: a Web-safe tan, which I then lightened to a 50% tint in InDesign. This gave me something like the effect of an off-white book paper. The type was all black -- no messing around with colored text. This was for reading, after all." 4/4/2005 8:14:00 PM
Is Google Too Generous?. [The Motley Fool 4/4/2005; 9:54:14 AM] Google has a good reason to give away as much email storage as possible. Advertising makes up 98% of Google's revenue. Using contextual technology, Gmail is able to get the gist of the email and serve up relevant text ads in a column to the right of the message itself. And lest you think archived correspondence isn't all that valuable, think again. Google's ads are always current. So, let's say three years from now, you are revisiting a friend's email asking about movie times. The ads generated by Google would likely be tied to what's showing at the local multiplex in 2008. Sure, email ads are going to have a low click-through rate. That's fine -- Google is aiming for incremental ad revenue. 4/4/2005 10:51:34 AM
Sowing CoRM. [Doc Searls' IT Garage 4/4/2005; 3:54:22 AM] So The Head Lemur wrote this about customer service, got this response, and replied back. "Because we are on the phone, the last thing we need is to be reminded that the Dumb Product Company has a website." It's long, and good. Read the whole thing.
CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is fine as far as it goes, which isn't very far. Approximately all CRM systems are silos that isolate the customer relationships to those only of a single vendor. They don't care what else the customer might be doing in the marketplace. For all their virtues as technological solutions, CRM systems in some ways cause more problems than they solve, in the form of lost opportunities made possible by relationships on the customers' terms. These may be far more rich and complex and potentiated than those contemplated by the vendor's sales and CRM systems. 4/4/2005 10:43:33 AM
Star Wars III Midnight Madness: [Fark 4/4/2005; 6:52:53 AM] X-Entertainment joins a thousand rabid Star Wars fans as they rush Toys 'R' Us at midnight to get first dibs on "Revenge of the Sith" merchandise. Also starring Boba Fett and a guy in a gigantic "Darth Tater" costume. "Being a loser is easiest in numbers; none of us felt embarrassed as the tourists and snooty locals zipped by wondering aloud why grown men and women would wait on hideously long lines for action figures. We'd have time to reevaluate our lives later. This was the last of a thrice in a lifetime experience. You know, I don't care what corporate evils Toys 'R' Us is responsible for. If I'm going to see Darth Vader, M&Ms dressed as Darth Vader and Mr. Potato Head dressed as Darth Vader, I want it to be here." 4/4/2005 9:30:35 AM
Games That Shoot Back [Slashdot: 4/3/2005; 8:52:23 PM] A VirTra Systems combat simulator developed for the US military that "shoots" back, delivering an electric shock strong enough to knock down players, could be the next big thing for home-computer games. Players enter a platform with a 360-degree screen that shows scenarios such as freeing hostages, street gun fights, taking out suicide bombers and team attacks on enemy positions. If a player fails to kill an enemy in time and the enemy is able to shoot back, the simulator delivers a powerful electric shock through the player's hips. "You definitely know you have been hit," a spokesman said. "It has the same power as a stun gun. It knocks you down. You have to continue to work through the pain and keep on fighting, even when wounded." The US military found trainees were getting rapid heart rates, sweaty palms and fear during the simulation, just like they might get if they were really shot. They also use the "America's Army" simulator at fairs as a recruitment tool. 4/3/2005 11:00:29 PM
Group puts $100 laptops in poor countries". (The Day) via [Fark 4/3/2005; 9:52:42 PM]. "When the kids bring them home and open them up, it's the brightest light source in the home. The students in a rural Cambodian village where the homes lack electricity were equipped with notebook computers by a foundation run by MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte and his wife Elaine. Negroponte and some MIT colleagues are hard at work on a project they hope will brighten the lives and prospects of hundreds of millions of developing world kids. Details are still being worked out, but here's the team's current recipe: Put the laptop on a software diet; use the freely distributed Linux operating system; design a battery capable of being recharged with a hand crank; and use newly developed "electronic ink" or a novel rear-projected image display with a 12-inch screen. Out of the box, the $100 laptops will be able to communicate with one another using peer-to-peer mesh networking. That doesn't directly solve the Internet or electricity problem, though. http://laptop.media.mit.edu 4/3/2005 10:40:34 PM
Saturn's Moons: [Eric Hartwell: April 3, 2005] I've updated my gallery of images from the Cassini mission. The current orbit has an inner system flyby about twice a month, and the glorious photos just keep on coming.
4/3/2005 8:49:59 PM
SOA: Refactoring Mainframe Applications into Dynamic Web Applications (Part 1). [DevX: Latest Web Development Content 3/17/2005; 12:53:06 AM] By refactoring your mainframe applications into Web services you separate presentation from logic, and gain the ability to reuse mainframe data in Web applications. This two-part article describes the complete process. 4/2/2005 8:43:54 PM
Web Services Come Into Balance. [eWEEK Developer 3/15/2005; 3:52:25 PM] Maturing service scene requires more robust application design. Developers who had built applications that consume the PayMaxx services must now confront the need for a fallback strategy. It's always been part of the Web services proposition that an application had to deal with dependence on resources that were not under the application owner's control. That theoretical concern is now demonstrably real. Using tools such as UDDI to identify and engage alternative service providers, with or without an intermediate layer of value-added services support, looks like the next step in the process of Web services adoption. See also:
- Web Services Come Into Balance: Maturing service scene requires more robust application design.
- A href="http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1745776,00.asp">Systems Must Be Designed to Doubt: Sensors, business rules and cultivated paranoia yield customer-facing apps that can cope with unfortunate events. 4/2/2005 8:35:29 PM
Reason Magazine: "It's Mainly Just for Fun" [NASA Watch 4/2/2005; 6:53:18 PM] Interview with space entrepreneur Burt Rutan on how private space flight policy should emphasize innovation, safety—and having a helluva good time.
"When people think of the Wright brothers they think of 1903. I think a more important thing to look at when you make the point you're making is 1908 to 1911, early 1912. We're talking about only a three and a half year time period that started when only 10 people had flown, and ended three and a half years later when thousands of pilots flew hundreds of airplanes in 39 countries."
"If you think about it, until we had the Internet, we didn't know what computers were really for. Now it's our communication, it's our commerce, it's our—everything. I like to think that's what suborbital space tourism is; it's going to be a big industry. Just like personal computers. But it's mainly just for fun. You've got to have thousands, tens of thousands, of people enjoying it in order to figure out what to do with it. We never would have invented the use of the Internet, the communication, and the commerce, and everything if you had just a few dozen people with computers. 4/2/2005 7:16:32 PM
NASA on your iPod. [Science @ NASA 3/21/2005; 2:52:21 PM] Using an iPod or any portable MP3 player, you can now explore the universe while driving, jogging, waiting in line ... just about anywhere. It's easy: tune in to the Science @ NASA podcast. Podcasting is a new technology that lets you search for audio broadcasts on the Internet - so-called "podcasts" - and download them onto portable MP3 players. You can take a podcast with you and listen to it whenever and wherever the mood strikes. ScienceANASA has been providing audio recordings of science news stories for years. Last December, the site began podcasting those stories. By February, Science @ NASA was the #1 most popular podcast among users of the Podcasting News website. 4/2/2005 6:43:15 PM
2,000 Talmud tapes, or one loaded iPod. [Michael Gartenberg 3/21/2005; 11:53:21 AM] Or you could just buy yourself an iPod or any MP3 player and download the files yourself here for free.
The Daf Yomi is a seven-and-a-half-year cycle of Talmud learning. Participants study a page a day of this compendium of Jewish oral law, culminating in a celebration, known as the Siyum HaShas. But how do you study a 2,711-page book when you have to commute? With the ShasPad. For $399, Yehuda Shmidman sends his customers a 20-gigabyte iPod loaded with Talmud lectures. That is $100 above the price of an iPod alone. “We created this because of two glaring trends,” the entrepreneur said. “One is the iPod, and the other is the Siyum HaShas, which is something so incredible that when it happens you obviously want to join the next cycle.” The New York Times. 4/2/2005 6:32:12 PM
ZDNet UK: No Regrets for Newham. [Linux Today 4/1/2005; 5:54:52 PM] Newham Council thinks 'more than ever' that its decision to go for Microsoft-based systems over Linux-based alternatives was the right call. The council was at the centre of a major row between Linux advocates and Microsoft last year, following an evaluation of the benefits of Linux' and Microsoft's technologies — which concluded that Microsoft offered the best value. "In areas such as BizTalk Microsoft has products that have a real lead," said Newham’s head of ICT Richard Steell. The council is also working on a number of other projects including employee self-service and e-forms, as well as electronic monitoring systems in the home. But while it has a "Microsoft-centric" strategy, it still finds some room for open source: "We do use Linux in some areas such as for Web servers and have no immediate plans to discontinue." 4/2/2005 5:03:05 PM
The intrinsic appeal of telework [Globe And Mail 4/2/2005; 4:53:06 AM] The Canadian Telework Association estimates that more than 1.5 million Canadians work outside of regular offices, at least part of the time, connected electronically to their managers, employees or clients. At IBM Canada, 5,000 of the 20,000 employees are classified as "mobile workers." They work from home or from their cars if they travel a lot. They can book space in one of the "mobility centres" at 13 IBM locations across the country if they need to be at the office for a day or two. "Some of the feedback we've had from employees over the years is that they are a lot more productive and they don't have the interruptions [that often occur in an office setting]. Especially when they are doing work that requires a lot of concentration, they find it beneficial to work this way." 4/2/2005 3:51:01 PM
Best Buy to Eliminate Rebates [Slashdot: 4/2/2005; 1:53:29 AM] According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune 'In response to customer complaints, Best Buy, the world's largest electronics retailer, promised today to eliminate mail-in rebates within two years.' Can it be that we're finally nearing the end of one of the most hated marketing ploys of all? "Our customers are telling us they just hate the process," said Ron Boire, executive vice president and general merchandise manager at Best Buy. Further commentary available at BusinessWeek. 4/2/2005 3:47:04 PM
eTrust EZ Antivirus - 1yr FREE [RedFlagDeals.com 4/1/2005; 8:52:07 PM] Looking to protect your computer? Then head to My-ETrust.com. They’re giving away a free one-year trial of their EZ Antivirus Software. 4/2/2005 3:43:21 PM
What's missing in the digital hubs of today. [Michael Gartenberg 4/1/2005; 11:53:44 AM] Ian Fogg talks about some of his PC/TV issues here. He's totally correct. The PC, as it stands now is just too complex to serve this role for the average person. I've been using a Media Center PC as one of the hubs in the house and it works well for the most part. ... Except when it doesn't work. ... In short, the very flexibility of the PC is the Achilles heel for this device in the home. On the other hand, my TiVo is rock solid. It just works but is very limited in terms of overall flexibility of content and features. I want flexibility of content, the ability to add new features and rock solid reliability. I can't seem to get those things today which is what's leading to an ad-hoc series of solutions. Perhaps there's no good solution, for as soon as you open a platform for adding new features, you add inherent complexity and that tends to make things less reliable. So I'd be willing to live with a closed box for adding features but I insist on the flexibility of content portability that the PC offers me. For now, there's nothing like that on the market so I'll stick with using MCE but only in a very clean state. 4/2/2005 3:39:09 PM
BBC: Man implanted with chip that reads his mind. Only thing it does is turn TV on and off. [Fark 3/31/2005; 2:53:58 PM] A paralysed man in the US has become the first person to benefit from a brain chip that reads his mind. The device, called BrainGate, consists of nearly 100 hair-thin electrodes implanted a millimetre deep into part of the motor cortex of his brain that controls movement. Wires feed the information from the electrodes into a computer which analyses the brain signals. He can think his TV on and off, change channels and alter the volume thanks to the technology and software linked to devices in his home. 4/2/2005 3:31:58 PM
Ultraviolet View of Mimas. [Universe Today 3/31/2005; 1:52:43 PM] NASA's Cassini spacecraft took this picture of Mimas, Saturn's "Death Star" moon on February 18, 2005 at a distance of 938,000 km (583,000 miles). The image was taken using Cassini's ultraviolet filter, which helps to reveal better contrast of the moon's craters than would be possible in visible light. Mimas' large crater Herschel dominates the upper right of the picture. 4/2/2005 3:25:49 PM
HTML 4.01 Element Reference. [WebReference News 3/31/2005; 11:52:05 AM] HTML is the most basic and common language on the world wide web and is relatively easy to learn. If you've been looking for an excellent resource, this article contains the HTML 4.01 element (tag) list as recommended by the W3C. 4/2/2005 3:15:49 PM
The Register: Deutsche Bahn Dumps Intel, Pumps SUSE onto IBM Mainframe. [via Linux Today 3/31/2005; 9:52:12 AM] Deutsche Bahn, Europe's biggest railway, is junking 300 Intel servers in favour of an IBM mainframe. But its OS of choice, SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server, has profited from the cull and will run business-critical apps such as Lotus Notes on the new IBM eServer zSeries 990 mainframe. DB Systems, the captive IT service arm of Deutsche Bahn, anticipates "significant cost savings, more vendor independence and integration advantages throughout the roll-out period and beyond". ... 4/2/2005 3:13:21 PM
Do it yourself spyware? Maybe there's a less sinister use, too...
TypeRecorder v2.0.1 $15.99. "TypeRecorder records everything that you type on your computer. Every keystroke is saved to a daily file on your computer, available for immediate retrieval. This is especially useful if you want to have some degree of insurance in the case of system crashes, power outages, or any problem that would cause you to lose data. Any data that you enter with a keyboard will be discretely saved. TypeRecorder is also helpful in monitoring unauthorized use of your computer, as it can log the time and application being used when any key is pressed." via [Lockergnome's Windows Fanatics 4/1/2005; 1:53:01 AM] 4/2/2005 2:44:53 PM
Schiavo parents to sell donor data to direct-marketing firm. [Boing Boing 3/31/2005; 7:52:44 PM. (Thanks, Steve)] Xeni Jardin: The parents of rececently-deceased Terri Schiavo will sell their list of supporting donors to a direct-mailing firm. The company, "Response Unlimited" pays about $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 6,000 e-mail addresses. A spokesperson for the Schindlers confirmed that they had agreed to sell the information, but won't say for how much. 4/2/2005 2:38:41 PM
NY Times: It's Not Just a Phone, It's an Adventure. [Tomalak's Realm 3/31/2005; 6:53:02 PM] Practically every new iteration of cellphone promises more: digital music, streaming video, 3-D video games, location-based navigation and full Internet browsing, not to mention a camera. With more features often come more buttons, complications and costs, and thicker operating manuals. 4/2/2005 2:18:02 PM
NewsForge: TUX Magazine Debut Signals New Vitality in Linux Market. [Linux Today 4/1/2005; 8:53:17 AM] "'TUX will tell you how to get things done--without having to lift the hood.' But is the world ready for a Linux publication aimed at entry-level users...?" 4/1/2005 9:02:37 AM
Credit Cards Aren't [All] Evil. [The Motley Fool 4/1/2005; 8:52:37 AM] They can be a force for good in many ways. 4/1/2005 9:01:01 AM
How To Use Microsoft Outlook With AOL. [Ask Dave Taylor] According to the helpful online documentation at the AOL help site, you can access AOL mail through their Open Mail Access system. There's detailed information on how to work with Outlook 2000, Outlook Express, IncediMail, Microsoft Entourage, Outlook 2002, and even Eudora. .... [via Lockergnome's Windows Fanatics 4/1/2005; 7:53:18 AM] 4/1/2005 8:57:07 AM
Customize the Places bar in Windows XP. You can customize the Places bar by editing the local group policy with the Group Policy Editor. Here's how. [TechRepublic.com 4/1/2005; 3:54:12 AM] 4/1/2005 8:51:01 AM
Viewers get sold on video on demand [Globe And Mail 4/1/2005; 3:52:26 AM] Sales of video on demand and subscription video on demand are expected to hit $170-million this year, blowing past the $100-million mark for the first time in Canada. That's a big increase from $85-million in 2004, according to numbers compiled by Brahm Eiley of Convergence Consulting Group Ltd. Mr. Eiley predicted sales will reach $450-million in 2007. 4/1/2005 8:50:12 AM
Genuine photo of Liquid Water on Mars [Astronomy Picture of the Day 4/1/2005; 2:52:53 AM] Many space missions have taken photographs of the surface of the red planet, and some of them might show a subtle clue pointing to water on Mars that has been missed. By close inspection of images, following curiosity, applying scientific principles, applying knowledge about features on the Martian surface, and applying principles of planetary geology, such clues might be brought to light. Thanks to the private space industry reviewing data, a new discovery has been made! A real picture (not using computer art etc) of liquid water on mars. 4/1/2005 8:48:41 AM
Google Ride Finder Announced [Slashdot: 4/1/2005; 2:52:42 AM] Need a ride? Now Google has included the ability to lookup where taxis are in real time! The new service is called Google Ride Finder. Using a combination of Google Maps and Google Local you can see where certain taxis are at the moment. Currently there are only 11 major cities that are supported, and there are still only a few cab companies that are involved. The service is pretty cool, but if they don't add more cities/companies, who knows how well it will do. For more info check out Google's Blog. 4/1/2005 8:44:19 AM
GMail Gets Rich Text Editing. [Aimless Words 4/1/2005; 1:52:26 AM] It was only yesterday when we at TechWhack were thinking about the shortcomings GMail has now compared to the market leaders MSN Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail. Only one thing came to mind, which was the rich text formatted email composing and mail forwarding. Looks like the souls at the Google Labs were listening to our requests as in the morning we just found that Google has enhanced its webmail service GMail to incorporate rich text editing facility! (Via TechWhack.)... 4/1/2005 8:41:40 AM
Novell's Race Against Time [Slashdot: 3/31/2005; 11:53:10 PM] The Guardian newspaper in the UK reports in 'It's a race against time' that Novell is on a knife-edge financially and competitively, having placed a huge one-way bet in the success of its Linux strategy. But there's no guarantee of success: its revenue from Linux licensing is puny, and it faces a crowded market of Linux distros. Novell may be getting some positive press now that it's gone full tilt for Linux, but let's remember the reasons why: because of mis-steps of its previous management (especially the disastrous acquisition of WordPerfect in the mid 1990s) and its failure to grow its Netware business (with more than a little help from Microsoft), it's now having to re-engineer itself for Linux." 4/1/2005 8:40:39 AM
Virgin Says Space Flight Plan Complete, Airline Expansion Planned [SpaceDaily.Com 3/31/2005; 10:53:13 PM] Flamboyant British tycoon Richard Branson said Thursday Virgin Galactic's ambitious plans for commercial space flights are complete and the first fee-paying astronaut will fly with him into orbit in the next 30 months. "The plan for the new spaceship is complete and work on the project will commence in the next three months, with the first commerical space flight to take off in two-and-half years. I, with my parents and my son and my daughter will travel in the first space flight," said the 54-year-old tycoon, who made his fortune with the Virgin pop record label before branching out into air travel, railways, telecommunications and a host of other enterprises. Commenting on the core airline business, Branson said Virgin Atlantic had laid out aggressive plans in many international markets, including the United States, India, Nigeria and the Bahamas. "The US still does not have good-quality airlines. We will expand our wings there." 4/1/2005 8:35:37 AM
Sony to Make an "iTunes for Movies" [Slashdot: 3/31/2005; 8:53:32 PM] After years of complaining that the RIAA and MPAA were missing the boat, and should have embraced things like Napster instead of supressing them, we got iTunes and the like. Now, Sony has announced it will 'make its top 500 films available digitally in the next year' according to a report on the BBC, with Sony's iPod replacement being the PSP. 4/1/2005 8:28:16 AM
‘No evidence' of price-fixing at gas pumps [The Globe And Mail: Business 3/31/2005; 10:52:16 PM] 4/1/2005 8:26:15 AM
Shirky: stupid (c) laws block me from publishing own work online. [Boing Boing 3/31/2005; 9:52:25 PM]
Clay Shirky tells Boing Boing:
Welcome to the Copyfight. So, at Etech this year, I gave a talk entitled Ontology is Overrated. I want to put a transcript up online, and Mary Hodder, who recorded the talk, graciously agreed to give me a copy of the video. When she came by NYC last week, she dropped off a DVD, which I then wanted to convert to AVI (the format used by my transcription service.) I installed ffmpeg and tried to convert the material, at which point I got an error message which read "To comply with copyright laws, DVD device input is not allowed." Except, of course, there are no copyright laws at issue here, since I'M THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER. Got that? I am in possession of a video, of me, shot by a friend, copied to a piece of physical media given to me as a gift. In the video, I am speaking words written by me, and for which I am the clear holder of the copyright. I am working with said video on a machine I own. Every modern legal judgment concerning copyright, from the Berne Convention to the Betamax case, is on my side. AND I CAN'T MAKE A COPY DIRECTLY FROM THE DEVICE.
This is because copyright laws do not exist to defend the moral rights of copyright holders -- they exist to help enforce artificial scarcity. 4/1/2005 8:23:46 AM