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Yes, it is this bad

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From the UK Independent:

Children as young as 13 attending 'smartphone rehab' as concerns grow over screen time
Children refusing to put down their phones is a common flashpoint in many homes, with a third of British children aged 12 to 15 admitting they do not have a good balance between screen time and other activities.

But in the US, the problem has become so severe for some families that children as young as 13 are being treated for digital technology addiction.

One ‘smartphone rehab’ centre near Seattle has started offering residential “intensive recovery programs” for teenagers who have trouble controlling their use of electronic devices.

The Restart Life Centre says parents have been asking it to offer courses of treatment to their children for more than eight years.

It must be very tempting for a parent to use a device as a digital babysitter but they are doing incredible damage to their kid. Mental development requires diverse stimulation and play, focusing on a flat screen is not a substitute.

The reSTART website is here: reSTART. They have one program that lasts for nine to twelve months. I can not imagine anyone so addicted to digital devices that they need that amount of time to decouple. The fact that they list it on their website shows that there is a need for that service. How could the parents have let their kid get so far down the rabbit hole.

Why Trump won - part 1,573

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From the Miami, Florida CBS affiliate:

Former Disney IT Workers Claim Discrimination In Lawsuit
A group of information technology workers laid off by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts claims they were victims of discrimination.

They say they were forced to train their replacements from India before getting fired.

On Monday, the 30 former IT workers filed a suit against the company in an Orlando federal court. They’re seeking punitive damages.

The lawsuit contends that 250 IT workers in Florida were told they would need to train their replacements before they were fired at the end of 2014. Each replacement worker was of Indian origin, and was either brought from overseas or working outside the United States, according to the lawsuit.

The Disney bosses are looking to cut the bottom line and the imports may not be as skilled and fluent in English but they are a lot cheaper. Disney is probably contracting to an Indian employment agency that collects their money and then brings in these people from India on an H1-B visa, housing them in dormitories and paying them a pittance.

Trump will be stopping this practice.

Silicon Valley and Donald Trump

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I am loving that this man does not play by anyone's rule-book - from The New York Times:

Silicon Valley Chiefs Notably Absent From Trump’s Cabinet of Business Advisers
In President-elect Donald J. Trump’s newly named kitchen cabinet of business advisers, Wall Street is in. Silicon Valley is out.

Mr. Trump has named 16 business leaders to serve on what’s being called the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, described as a group meant to guide his administration on economic matters.

The list is notable for leaning toward New York executives and industries — finance in particular. The list echoes Mr. Trump’s picks for a number of major economic positions, including Treasury secretary (the former Goldman Sachs partner and hedge fund manager Steven T. Mnuchin) and commerce secretary (the billionaire investor Wilbur L. Ross).

Good - the silicon valley people made their money by a fluke - the technology caught on big-time. Now they want a big centralized government that can cut them all kinds of loopholes and tax breaks while preventing a new company from rising up and challenging their dominion. That way, they can stay on the top without actually having to do anything like product development or - you know - innovate.

The people that Trump is choosing are businessmen - they actually have to show a profit and hold the bottom line for their stockholders.

A new coal-burning airplane

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From [Aerospace Technology]( > **E-Fan Electric Aircraft, France**
E-Fan, a two-seat experimental electric aircraft developed by Airbus Group and partners, was unveiled and made its first public flight demonstration at Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport in France in April 2014. The training aircraft is intended for flying clubs and schools, and can be used for training professional pilots. > > Flight tests on the E-Fan 2.0 prototype are currently underway, while development of the production version is expected to begin in June in a production facility near Bordeaux Airport. BpiFrance Public Investment Bank will partially provide finance for the development. The aircraft is expected to enter into service by 2017. > Specs are not that bad: > The E-Fan aircraft has a takeoff speed of 110km/h, cruise speed of 160km/h and maximum speed of 220km/h. Its endurance ranges between 45 minutes and one hour. > All in the name of reducing carbon emissions. And where does the electricity come from -- 80% is generated by coal and less than 2% comes from renewables.

This is serious

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Bill Whittle is a national treasure. His videos are a call to arms on various aspects of our civilization. Today's video brings to light the addiction that children have with video games and tablets (iPad, etc...) and the measurable neurological damage that overexpsoure to these devices causes.
This is the post he cites at the UK Telegraph:
Infants 'unable to use toy building blocks' due to iPad addiction
Rising numbers of infants lack the motor skills needed to play with building blocks because of an �addiction� to tablet computers and smartphones, according to teachers.

Many children aged just three or four can �swipe a screen� but have little or no dexterity in their fingers after spending hours glued to iPads, it was claimed.

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers also warned how some older children were unable to complete traditional pen and paper exams because their memory had been eroded by overexposure to screen-based technology.
Lulu's son is adicted to video games and demonstrates a lot of the symptoms. I am trying to wean him off but it is an uphill battle.

Veery interesting...

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From Business Insider:
WIKILEAKS: Surveillance Cameras Around The Country Are Being Used In A Huge Spy Network
The U.S. cable networks won't be covering this one tonight (not accurately, anyway), but Trapwire is making the rounds on social media today�it reportedly became a Trending hashtag on Twitter earlier in the day.

Trapwire is the name of a program revealed in the latest Wikileaks bonanza�it is the mother of all leaks, by the way. Trapwire would make something like disclosure of UFO contact or imminent failure of a major U.S. bank fairly boring news by comparison.

And the ambitious techno-fascists behind Trapwire seem to be quite disappointed that word is getting out so swiftly; the Wikileaks web site is reportedly sustaining 10GB worth of DDoS attacks each second, which is massive.

Anyway, here's what Trapwire is, according to Russian-state owned media network RT (apologies for citing "foreign media"... if we had a free press, I'd be citing something published here by an American media conglomerate): "Former senior intelligence officials have created a detailed surveillance system more accurate than modern facial recognition technology�and have installed it across the U.S. under the radar of most Americans, according to emails hacked by Anonymous.

Every few seconds, data picked up at surveillance points in major cities and landmarks across the United States are recorded digitally on the spot, then encrypted and instantaneously delivered to a fortified central database center at an undisclosed location to be aggregated with other intelligence. It�s part of a program called TrapWire and it's the brainchild of the Abraxas, a Northern Virginia company staffed with elite from America�s intelligence community.

The employee roster at Arbaxas reads like a who�s who of agents once with the Pentagon, CIA and other government entities according to their public LinkedIn profiles, and the corporation's ties are assumed to go deeper than even documented. The details on Abraxas and, to an even greater extent TrapWire, are scarce, however, and not without reason. For a program touted as a tool to thwart terrorism and monitor activity meant to be under wraps, its understandable that Abraxas would want the program�s public presence to be relatively limited. But thanks to last year�s hack of the Strategic Forecasting intelligence agency, or Stratfor, all of that is quickly changing."

So: those spooky new "circular" dark globe cameras installed in your neighborhood park, town, or city�they aren't just passively monitoring. They're plugged into Trapwire and they are potentially monitoring every single person via facial recognition.

In related news, the Obama administration is fighting in federal court this week for the ability to imprison American citizens under NDAA's indefinite detention provisions�and anyone else�without charge or trial, on suspicion alone.

So we have a widespread network of surveillance cameras across America monitoring us and reporting suspicious activity back to a centralized analysis center, mixed in with the ability to imprison people via military force on the basis of suspicious activity alone. I don't see how that could possibly go wrong. Nope, not at all. We all know the government, and algorithmic computer programs, never make mistakes.
Oh right. Nothing can ever go wrong... ~go wrong... ~o wrong... ~wrong... ~rong... ... We are not at the AFDB stage yet but these days, it is hard to tell. More here. From what I understand of the algorithms used, they look for specific metrics -- geometry of the face, colors, etc. It would be interesting to see if eyeglasses could be fashioned to distort the facial geometry -- a tinted patch that the camera would pick up as an eye pupil spaced close together or far apart. A covering for the bridge of the nose that would hide the profile. Nothing blatant but enough to scramble their ability to recognize a specific face. This is also an excellent option. Also, something to realize is that 90% of the installed base of security cams and webcams are piss-poor resolution -- a couple-hundred lines at best under optimal lighting. Great for seeing crowd dynamics and individual movement but not that good for absolute recognition. If you have a couple hours to play with, here is a good set of instructions for finding unsecured security cameras on the web -- there are a ton of them!

India's recent power blackout

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An interesting post-mortem of India's blackout -- from IEEE Spectrum:
A Post-Mortem on India's Blackout
What set the stage for last week�s power outage in India, which left some 650 million people without electricity, was a widening rift between growing peak demand and the amount of generation available to meet that demand. A system had been put in place to ration the amount of power each state could draw from the national grid during peaks, but evidently those limits were simply ignored, IEEE Fellow John McDonald told National Public Radio in an interview with public radio�s much-admired program, �The TakeAway.�
And the root cause -- simple me-first and an ostrich-like attitude:
At 1 PM on July 31, on the eve of the blackout, loads exceeded the government-set maximums for electricity to be delivered by 7 to 132 percent in the nine states mainly affected by the outage, said McDonald. In Punjab, the excess electricity draw was 300 MW (7 percent above the maximum) in Uttar Pradesh 1600 MW (64 percent) and in Rajasthan 1100 MW (79 percent). On average, the 9 states were 28 percent above the maximum load they were allowed to draw.

According to R. Nagaraja, managing director at the Power Research & Development Consultants Pvt. Ltd., the grid discipline system depended on states' being charged far higher rates for electricity drawn above their peak load limits. In the past that system had worked rather well, and with improvements in the nation's grid infrastructure, operators had perhaps become somewhat complacent. But with recent shortages of water, reduced power generation, high demand for electricity and a political climate preceding elections, grid players and regulators couldn't resist the temptation to step farther and farther over the line.

Getting back to McDonald's insights, he says that as for the automated systems that ordinarily shed load automatically when power demand surpassed supplies, they were generally �jumpered." �Standard procedure in advanced industrial countries is to use automatic underfrequency and undervoltage relays with multiple tiers of settings. If the system is still collapsing the SCADA/EMS would automatically (using its prioritized list of breakers) begin shedding load by opening substation circuit breakers until the system stopped collapsing.� That kind of system was supposed to be operational in India too but, presumably for the same reasons peak load limited were exceeded to recklessly, it had been deactivated.

As best one can tell, the basic cause of the Indian outage was an ostrich-like attitude by both the national government and the state governments toward the country�s fundamental electricity dilemmas. To start with McDonald�s main point, India�s peak demand has grown by 4.9 percent a year since 2006-07; with generation failing to keep pace, the peak supply deficit now exceeds 10 percent.
Come on now -- it's just one more Megawatt. What will that do. A sobering observation:
An aggravating factor, mentioned by McDonald and discussed at length in an earlier IEEE Spectrum post, was a shortage of water in India because of weaker-than-usual monsoons. Jigar Shah, CEO of Jigar Shah Consulting, points out in a recent Earth2Tech post that the power sector is India�s greatest single consumer of water�bigger than agriculture�and that within the power sector, almost all the water is consumed by the coal-fired power plants that produce the lion�s share of India�s electricity.
Just wow! It will be interesting to see if India starts building nukes -- LFTR would be perfect for them. 600 Million people were without electricity -- that is just under double the entire population of the United States.

Good news on the domestic energy front

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From the Plains Daily/Associated Press:
ND pumps record 113M barrels of oil in 2010
State Industrial Commission records show North Dakota pumped a record 113 million barrels of oil in 2010, smashing the previous high set a year earlier by 33 million barrels.

The state set production records almost monthly in 2010, jumping from an average of 236,200 barrels daily in January to nearly 343,900 in December.

State documents show a record 356,505 barrels was pumped daily in November, with nearly 10.7 million barrels produced for the month.

One year ago, North Dakota had an average daily drill rig count of 94. The state Industrial Commission says 169 rigs were drilling Monday.
More faster please!

China energy

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China is a bit short on oil. So what do they do? From the China Mining Association:
China's Guizhou proposes $11.3 Bln coal-to-oil plant
Southwestern China's Guizhou province has proposed a 5 million tonnes-per-year coal-to-oil project after China's home-grown indirect coal liquefication technology was endorsed by the National Energy Administration.

Officials with the administration agreed to include the project in China's energy development plan for the five years ending 2015, the Guizhou Development and Reform Commission said in a report on its website.

The domestic indirect coal-to-oil technology, hatched by the Institute of Coal Chemistry under Chinese Academy of Sciences, has been applied in three pilot projects and one of them, a 160,000 tonnes-per-year plant Yitai in Inner Mongolia, passed NEA's examination in July, the report said.

The 75 billion yuan project proposed by Guizhou will adopt the technology.

State-owned Shenhua Group Corp, China's largest coal miner and parent of China Shenhua Energy Co Ltd , has started trial operation of a 1.08 million tpy coal-to-oil plant which is based on a direct coal-to-liquids technology.

Shenhua's proposed joint venture with South Africa's Sasol in Ningxia region, which would adopt the latter's indirect coal-to-liquids technology, has yet to be approved by Chinese government.
The article doesn't say what the technology is but converting coal to high-grade gasoline has been available since the 1920's More: Fischer�Tropsch process

News from the Petroleum Front

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There has been a lot of mis-information regarding the Deepwater Horizon disaster. I just ran into a site run by Dave Summers who (in his own words):
I have spent the last four decades teaching and leading research teams at the Rock Mechanics and Explosives Research Center at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
So he knows mining and engineering... Check out Bit Tooth Energy. His posts on the Deepwater disaster can be found here:
The Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster
I am still travelling in the UK, and thus have not been able to follow, in any detail, the environmental disaster that is unfolding along the Louisiana coast, as the oil from the Transocean Deepwater Horizon fire and sinking spreads across the Gulf of Mexico.

However I thought that it might be useful to explain where part of the problem might lie, and so am going to repost one of the technical posts from the past, where I explain what a blow-out preventer is. Then I will add a couple of comments on why it might be that they did not stop the leak in this case.
The first update here:
Further comments on the Gulf of Mexico oil well disaster
The oil spill in the Gulf is continuing to get worse, and there are some questions that have been raised on what could have gone wrong, and how it can be fixed. I am in the same position as most, in regard to getting information � it comes from news reports, in the main. But there are some points that can be picked out as the focus of those reports switch to the impact that the oil is going to have on the coast and businesses that are going to be severely damaged. But there is enough information now available to draw some conclusions.
And today's post here:
Progress on the Gulf oil leak and comments on cementing pipes
BP held a press conference yesterday in which they reported on progress in trying to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, following the blow-out and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon. The well was in the final stages of being closed down, after having been completed, so that the initial drilling rig could leave the site. This meant that the pipe that would ultimately carry the oil and gas to the surface, the production casing string, had been put into place. To hold that pipe in place, and to make sure that it is sealed so that no fluid can flow into the gaps between this tube and the rock walls left by the initial drilling of the hole, the casing had been cemented in place. I am going to repeat part of the post where I talked about that, to explain what this involves. I begin as the hole is still being drilled.
Dave mainly writes about Oil Shale but he is able to make deepwater drilling operations a lot clearer to me -- a good writer who knows his subject and is well connected enough to get the real data and not the media "talking points"

What oil shortage

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It is good to be a Greenlander these days -- from Popular Mechanics:
Oil and Gas Drilling in Greenland to Begin This Summer
When the 748-foot Stena Forth plows into the deep waters of Greenland�s Disko West zone next summer, the advanced drillship will be taking the first crack at what could be the world�s biggest untapped reservoir of oil and gas. The ship, built by Samsung in South Korea�s Geoje shipyard just over a year ago, can drill to 35,000 feet, in 10,000 feet of water. It is being leased by Cairn Energy, making that oil company the first to drill in Greenland�s waters since five exploratory wells were sunk in the 1970s. The company had been planning to begin drilling in 2011, but announced in December that it was moving its schedule up by a year. The United States Geologic Survey estimates the country�s offshore reserves could hold 50 billion barrels of oil and gas, or nearly one-third of the arctic total.

The country, which voted for increased independence from Denmark last year, has a population of only 58,000�that makes for more than 860,000 barrels per person, if the USGS estimate is spot-on. No oil hasn�t been found yet, let alone exploited. But many of the world�s biggest oil companies, including Exxon and Chevron, have acquired offshore leases and conducted geological studies in the past few years. They are attracted by high projected demand for oil in the coming decades and the retreat of arctic ice.
And then of course, there is the usual hand-wringing commentary re: Global Warming and its impact on the poor native population and their quaint primitive ways:
While hunters, who make up a sizable proportion of Greenland�s population, are suffering as a result of climate change, government officials quietly confirm that warming temperatures should bring new riches to the country. In addition to oil and gas, the retreat of ice is prompting new onshore mining ventures, and in coming decades Greenland could benefit from shipping as the Northwest Passage become a viable alternative to the Suez and Panama Canals.
The hunters are suffering from the low temperatures. The ice comes and goes and is driven more by wind and currents than temperatures. During the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300AD), Greenland was truly green. It was successfully colonized and agriculture supplemented the fishing and hunting. Our variable star and our normal planetary change brought the Little Ice Age into being around 1650-1800. We are now thawing out from that event -- it may be warming now but it has been a lot warmer in recent history:
From this post: Another look at the Hockey Stick
From Next Big Future:
China's Nuclear Energy Target for 2020 is 86 Gigawatts and Wind Energy Target of 150 GW
China Daily reports: China is planning for an installed nuclear power capacity of 86 gigawatts (gW) by 2020, up nearly 10-fold from the 9 gW capacity it had by the end of last year, two people familiar with the matter said. the new target is higher than targets earlier this year of 70-75 GW and higher than two-three years ago when the target was 40 GW.

The goal, which is part of an alternative energy development roadmap covering 2009-20, seeks to have at least 12 gW of installed nuclear power capacity by 2011.

The plan "will call for the government to accelerate nuclear power development in coastal provinces and autonomous regions, namely Liaoning, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangxi, Jiangsu, Shandong and Hainan," the sources said.

In order to achieve the goal, the government will also set up a "reasonable number of nuclear power plants in inland provinces in Jiangxi, Anhui, Hunan and Hubei", they said.

The government is also planning to have 150 gW of installed wind power capacity by 2020, of which 30 gW will come from offshore wind farms. Installed wind power capacity should reach 35 gW by the end of 2011, of which 5 gW will come from offshore wind farms.

The [Energy] industry would attract investment worth 2.97 trillion yuan by 2011, creating 5 million jobs. And, total investment in the sector would touch 13.5 trillion yuan and create 20 million jobs by 2020.
That is how you do it... None of this NIMBY shite when it comes to off-shore wind farms (Paging Senator Kennedy, Senator Kennedy to the white courtesy phone please). As a point of reference, the electrical generation capacity of the United States (2007) is 1,087 GigaWatts. China is talking about adding 25% of this power in about ten years. Considering that China's energy production per capita is one of the lowest for major nations, this shows that they see cheap energy as being crucial to economic growth and prosperity for its citizens. Instead, we are dinking around with feel-good bullshit that only addresses a fraction of a percent and has serious unintended consequences. Bleagh...

Space Pen

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A good fact-checking on the old Space Pen story:
The billion-dollar space pen
Everybody has heard of the infamous Space Pen.

Space has its urban legends of course, and the Million Dollar Space Pen is one of the more enduring ones. It is neither as outlandish nor as unbelievable as the story about faking the Moon landings, and even though it seems more credible than a massive government conspiracy, it is probable that fewer people have heard it.

The story goes like this: in the 1960s, NASA astronauts discovered that their pens did not work in zero gravity. So like good engineers, they went to work and designed a wonder pen. It worked upside down. It worked in vacuum. It worked in zero gravity. It even worked underwater! And it only cost a million dollars!

The crafty Russians used a pencil.

This story, like most modern urban legends, has proliferated on the Internet, but it has also been passed by word of mouth. I�ve even heard a well-known space historian tell the story while talking about his new book, getting the expected laugh from his audience when he held up a Number 2 pencil for the punchline. And, of course, the story has also been embellished, with cost of the writing device getting ever higher, from a million dollars to a hundred million dollars to a billion dollars in some variations. Undoubtedly at some point the cost will equal the mythical trillion-dollar price of a mission to Mars.
The article then goes on to talk about the $128.84 pencil that was used on Gemini 3:
This, however, was actually the second controversy about the flight. Earlier in the month, several newspapers reported that the mission would carry two pencils that cost $128.84 apiece. NASA had spent $4,382.50 to purchase 34 of the pencils.

Members of the public were outraged at NASA�s profligate spending and naturally they demanded answers from their congressmen. On the day of the flight itself, Congressman John Wydler, of the Fourth District in New York and a member of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics, wrote a letter to NASA Administrator James Webb (PDF, 1.3 MB) asking for a full investigation of the expensive pencils and an explanation why their high costs were justified. NASA received other letters as well, such as one from the President of Elgin School Supply Company of San Francisco.

NASA officials then had to explain to Congress and people like the president of the Elgin School Supply Company that the pencils were made of lightweight, high strength materials that could be attached to the inside of the spacecraft. The pencil housings had been expanded so that the astronauts could use them while wearing their bulky spacesuit gloves. The writing mechanism inside the housing had been procured from a local office supply house and had cost $1.75 each.
And the pen in question:
In the mid-1960s Paul Fisher of the Fisher Pen Company developed the Space Pen. He did this on his own, without prompting by NASA and without NASA money. What he did want from NASA was publicity, and to this end he managed to get his congressman to insert a promotional history of his Space Pen into the Congressional Record in March 1966. Fisher then contacted NASA and sought their review of promotional literature about the Space Pen.

A NASA official evaluated the advertising copy for the Space Pen and noted that the company �is not now and has never been under contract to NASA � [Manned Spacecraft Center] for the supply of any writing instrument to be used in a manned spacecraft.� However, a different Fisher pen, known as the AG-7 pen, was under consideration for carrying aboard American spacecraft.

Over two months after Fisher first contacted NASA, the space agency replied and disapproved his advertising, (PDF, 0.6 MB) which the agency called �quite misleading.� NASA�s procurement office was at the time purchasing Fisher�s AG-7 pens at a cost of $4 apiece (still a significant amount of money in 1967), and was not buying the Space Pen, which cost $1.98.
Fascinating bit of history...

An email from Europe

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It is difficult to sit over here in the USA and watch Europe slide into decay. I ran into another example of this tonight in an email. I am building some Computer Numerical Controlled equipment for my metal shop and am on several email lists. The commercial "solutions" for CNC run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars but there is a strong hardware hacker contingent that finds surplus equipment and makes it work for home use. Some people are even running small and successful business with their equipment making and selling parts for whatever catches their fancy. Unfortunately, this is becoming harder and harder for our friends in Europe -- from the email:
Well, in the EU, they have essentially banned the mom&pop business, desktop manufacturing, etc. The amount of regulation is insane - you practically need ISO9000 registration, and a whole raft of other certifications to install a car stereo. Basically, if you don't employ 1000 people, you can't sell anything as a "product". Machine shops seem to still be permitted, though.

Scrounging is already outlawed, as all manufacturers have to set up these WEEE shops to recycle their old products. They'd have to be idiots to not take advantage of this requirement to not make sure their old products simply disappear. No usuable motors, circuit boards, transformers, etc. for tinkerers to experiment with.

I think most people are familiar with the entreprenurial inventor figure in the history of the US, so anything that actually legislates that sort of thing out is not going to go over well. All you have to say is "Oh, so under this law Thomas Edison and Henry Ford would have been put out of business, huh?" But, we do have to be vigilant, as legislators are so in the pockets of big business that they don't think of this stuff unless you constantly remind them.
The leaders over there are idiots -- where does the disruptive technology come from? People working in their garages and coming up with the better mousetrap. Sometimes I bemoan the state of innovation in the USA but compared to what the EU will be like in five years, we are a regular Tesla or Edison. Sad...

Fly by wire

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Scary story from England -- from The Telegraph:
The accelerator has jammed, the brakes have burned out and I'm trapped in my BMW doing 130mph
A motorist was trapped in his car driving at almost 130mph for 60 miles after the accelerator jammed.

Kevin Nicolle, 25, was unable to stop the automatic BMW going at top speed after the malfunction on the A1.

His terrifying journey, which was followed by four police cars and a helicopter, ended when he smashed the car into a roundabout, flipping it on its roof.

Amazingly, the former lorry driver walked away from the accident uninjured.

"The whole thing was just a blur," he said. "I can't get it out of my head. I was terrified, hysterical and crying.
It will be interesting to see BMW's report on this. Fly by wire has been around aviation for a long time but the efforts taken to make it bomb-proof are major. Boeing uses three different kinds of computers for each system and they vote on the outcome. The different CPUs require that the same software be written three different times. This basically eliminates both hardware and software glitches. Fly by wire is just coming into the higher-end cars with electronic foot-pedals and steering. I would be curious to see how they plan for eventual failure. All this aside, I wonder why the guy didn't just turn off his ignition when he realized that the car was not going to stop.

RIP Jack Kilby

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He may not be a household name but we all use what he invented and for which he received the Nobel Prize. From Yahoo/AP
Microchip Pioneer Jack Kilby Dies at 81
Nobel laureate Jack Kilby, whose 1958 invention of the integrated circuit ushered in the electronics age and made possible the microprocessor, has died after a battle with cancer.

Kilby died Monday at age 81, said Texas Instruments Inc., where he worked for many years.

Before the integrated circuit, electronic devices relied on bulky and fragile circuitry, including glass vacuum tubes. Afterward, electronics could become increasingly more complex, reliable and efficient: powering everything from the iPod to the Internet.

During his first year at Texas Instruments, using borrowed equipment, Kilby built the first integrated circuit into a single piece of semiconducting material half the size of a paper clip. Four years later in 1962, Texas Instruments won its first major integrated circuit contract, for the Minuteman missile.

Kilby later co-invented the hand-held electronic calculator.

"TI was the only company that agreed to let me work on electronic component miniaturization more or less full time, and it turned out to be a great fit," Kilby wrote in an autobiography for the Nobel Committee in 2000, the year he won the prize for physics.
The obituary goes on to talk about his history, his inventions and tells a little bit about his character, intelligence and modesty. One of the titans of technology -- right up there in the pantheon with Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Issac Newton.

If The Problem Persists, Reboot The Car

From Slashdot comes a link to this story in the NY Times

What's Bugging the High-Tech Car?
On a hot summer trip to Cape Cod, the Mills family minivan did a peculiar thing. After an hour on the road, it began to bake the children. Mom and Dad were cool and comfortable up front, but heat was blasting into the rear of the van and it could not be turned off.

Fortunately for the Mills children, their father - W. Nathaniel Mills III, an expert on computer networking at I.B.M. - is persistent. When three dealership visits, days of waiting and the cumbersome replacement of mechanical parts failed to fix the problem, he took the van out and drove it until the oven fired up again. Then he rushed to the mechanic to look for a software error.

"It took two minutes for them to hook up their diagnostic tool and find the fault," said Mr. Mills, senior technical staff member at I.B.M.'s T. J. Watson Research Center in Hawthorne, N.Y. "I can almost see the software code; a sensor was bad."

And more:

Owners across the country and around the globe have posted anguished cries to Internet forums about electronic gremlins that stop windows from rolling all the way up, that unexpectedly dim the interior lights, that drain batteries or that make engines sputter. While most automakers have had problems, quality rankings for some - particularly technology-intensive German luxury brands renowned for engineering - have plunged.

Heh... And the word from an independent researcher:

David E. Cole, president of the Center for Automotive Research, a consulting firm in Ann Arbor, Mich., says electronics may be the cause of a third of warranty claims. The problem seems to stem from car manufacturers buying "systems" from vendors and there is no guarantee that the systems will work together in the car environment.

When Jen and I bought the tractor for our Farm and Cider business, we made sure to get the one with a 100% mechanical and hydraulic control system. They do have fully computerized ones but we avoided those like the plague. If something breaks, I want to be able to fix it. Same thing with our cars -- we have some older cars that run fine and we are keeping them. I love technology and use it and have fun with it but when high-tech is incorporated into a business with little prior familiarity (automotive for example), the tech decisions are at that point made by managers who have zero experience with tech issues. When high-tech has been used in a business for a while (say commercial aviation), tech decisions are made based on information coming from the users and the service personnel -- new introductions are more likely to be tested rigorously and not rolled out until it is know that they work on the target platform. A simple management decision but not one the automotive managers seem to be doing right now.

IBM and China

bq. The China Syndrome If You Want to Understand IBM Selling Its PC Division, Just Look East bq. This week, as anyone knows who reads the business section of their local newspaper, IBM sold its personal computer division to Lenovo, a company presently based in mainland China. How far we have come! When IBM announced what was then its Entry Systems Division and introduced to the world the underpowered, overpriced, but fantastically successful IBM Personal Computer, China wasn't even a major trading partner with the U.S. Who would have guessed that times would change so much and so quickly? And who also would have guessed that all the analysis we've been reading about this transaction could be so shallow and misleading? There is far more to this deal than people are being told. bq. The simple story -- and the only one that made it in most papers -- is that IBM hasn't made much of a profit on PC products for years, so selling out is a simple way of improving corporate results and shifting capital to where it can be used more profitably. Well, yes and no. PCs HAVE become a commodity, and IBM hasn't made money on them since the late 1980s, but this story goes far beyond raising gross margins and cutting pension liabilities. But wait -- there's more: bq. What is absolutely key to this deal is that the buyer is Lenovo, the largest Chinese PC manufacturer. Yes, the division was unprofitable and IBM would have eventually had to do something about it, but Sam Palmisano wanted a Chinese buyer and was willing to accept far less cash than he might have received elsewhere just to get the buyer he wanted. bq. IBM got rid of a headache and in doing so, gained unique access to what will shortly be the world's largest IT market. This deal is all about China, not the U.S. bq. Doing business in China always requires having a partner. You don't just set up an IBM China and start selling stuff. You find a local partner company and move into the market together. Now IBM's partner will be Lenovo, the biggest, baddest PC maker in China, which is a good partner to have. IBM not only has its Chinese partner, it has a substantial equity position in that partner as a result of this transaction. That's unique as far as I know. Chinese-U.S. corporate partnerships aren't always the easiest marriages, but in this one, IBM actually has a vote. It also got Lenovo to move its global headquarters to the U.S. and accept an American CEO and 10,000 U.S. employees, which will have to change the way Lenovo runs its global business. And still more: bq. While IBM will still have design input on future PC products and those products will continue to carry the IBM brand for five years, the company will shortly have severed any major financial dependence on the future of those product lines. In short, this is the end of the line for IBM's marriage with Intel. Sure, they'll continue to sell boxes containing Intel (and perhaps AMD) processors, but the historic link is severed, with the result that IBM will be able to compete with impunity using its PowerPC and Power5 processors. bq. What Palmisano has done is clear the decks so he can compete unfettered in a completely different segment of the market -- servers -- where IBM DOES make money and where they will now proceed to crush the competition. bq. IBM's PowerPC investments are beginning to show impressive results. If you look at their November 9th press release on the p5-575 "super computer," IBM shows it can now comfortably combine and cluster scores of processors into a relatively small blade center chassis. Robert sums up with: bq. Winners in this deal are IBM, Lenovo, AMD, and Dell. Lenovo instantly doubles its market share. AMD eats away just a little bit more at Intel's power base. Dell, as the true PC market leader, will rely on its lower overhead to further hurt HP. bq. Losers in the deal are HP, Intel, and Sun. Especially Sun. Those guys are in trouble. So true -- SUN has been in serious trouble for the last five years or so. They kept their hold on proprietary operating systems and hardware for too long and that strategy backfired on them.


Wonderful collection of technical data and pictures of old 'classic' Microphones. Lots of links to other interesting audio sites.

The Dual Layer DVD+R is Here

From Gadgetopia: bq. Verbatim has announced that "it is on schedule to deliver industry's first Double-Layer DVD+R (DVD+R DL) discs". The first 8.5 GB DVD+R9 media should ship this spring and will be 2.4x speed discs according to Verbatim. bq. The first recording layer of the Verbatim DVD+R DL disc is semi-transparent, providing enough reflectivity for writing/reading data on the first layer, yet transmitting enough laser power to read/write on the second layer by refocusing the laser. Cool - these will not work with the current crop of DVD+R recorders but considering that each disk will offer 8.5GB of storage space, this is a powerful inducement to change... I do a lot of digital photography and for off-line storage of images, DVD is the only way to go.

Wrights' First Flight Reenactment a D

from Yahoo/Reuters bq. KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (Reuters) - An attempt to reenact the first powered human flight with a replica of the Wright Brothers wood-and-cloth biplane was a flop on Wednesday, dampening a celebration of 100 years of human flight. bq. The replica of the Wright Flyer moved down a wooden track and its nose appeared to lift off the ground briefly before flopping back down and coming to rest in a puddle of water. bq. The reenactment capped a weeklong First Flight festivities at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in North Carolina, where Orville Wright made his 12-second, 120-foot flight at 10:35 a.m. on Dec. 17, 1903. Goes to show just how fragile that craft was and how lucky those two pioneers were... Fun to see what happens with the next 100 years!


new software from Yamaha (hat tip Grafyte) Interesting stuff - probably very CPU intensive but still, the flexibility looks very cool - for $350 or so, it would be something to be considered if the format is open. Nice to have users develop other voices for this and not be locked into a proprietary format...

Tunnel from Europe to Africa

from New Scientist bq. Construction of a tunnel linking Europe and Africa could begin within five years after Spain and Morocco agreed to a major engineering study of the Strait of Gibraltar. bq. The tunnel could be dug between Punta Paloma in southern Spain and Punta Malabata near Tangier in Morocco. It would run for 38.5 kilometres and would pass beneath the strait for 27 kilometres at a depth of about 300 metres. bq. The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow and turbulent stretch of water connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The shortest distance across is just 19 kilometres. But the seabed is so deep across this stretch that a tunnel would need to be dug at a depth of 900 metres. 900 meters down - probably gets pretty warm down there. This will be an amazing engineering task.

UN taking over the Internet

from TechNewsWorld bq. Paul Twomey, the president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, found out what it feels like to be voiceless. bq. On Friday night, Twomey, who flew 20 hours to Geneva from a meeting in Vietnam to take part in a preparatory session for this week's United Nations summit meeting on Internet issues, was escorted to the exit of the meeting room by guards after participants suddenly decided to exclude observers. bq. The move underscores the wrath of countries that for years have been unhappy with what they perceive as their voicelessness over how the Internet is run and over U.S. ownership of key Internet resources. It also foretells the level of criticism that both the U.S. government and the Internet Corporation, or ICANN, may face at the UN meeting, one of the largest gatherings ever of high-level government officials, business leaders and nonprofit organizations to discuss the Internet's future. bq. Formal meeting activities begin on Wednesday. Although more than 60 nations will be represented in Geneva by their heads of government, only a handful of industrial nations are sending their leaders. President George W. Bush has no plans to attend, though the U.S. government will be represented by other officials. bq. To the great frustration of the international community, ICANN, a private company under contract to the U.S. government to oversee the technical aspects of the Internet's address system, has been in a pole position of power since its formation in 1998, deciding such issues as when languages could be used as a communication tool by other nations. bq. Twomey, reached by mobile phone outside the conference room, said: At ICANN, anybody can attend meetings, appeal decisions or go to ombudsmen, and here I am outside a UN meeting room where diplomats most of whom know little about the technical aspects are deciding in a closed forum how 750 million people should reach the Internet. I am not amused. bq. Twomey said he, representatives of the news media and anyone who was not a government official had been evicted from the meeting. Clueless twits... But wait, there's more: bq. UN To Examine Governance bq. To that end, all countries participating in the UN gathering agreed Sunday that a working group should be set up under the auspices of the United Nations to examine Internet governance issues, including the question of whether more formal oversight of ICANN by governments or intragovernmental agencies is necessary, said Marcus Kummer, the Swiss Foreign Ministry's delegate and head of the UN meeting's working group on Internet governance. bq. Tuesday's private meeting will bring together heads of state from six African, five Middle Eastern, four European and two Asian countries as well as the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, and Erkki Liikanen, the European Union's commissioner for enterprise and information society. Conspicuously absent from the list of invitees in the private meeting are ICANN and the U.S. government, which has sent a delegation of 41 people to the Geneva meeting.

SCO hit by DOS attack

Awwwww... :) from Newsforge: bq. The SCO Group, Inc., owner of the UNIX operating system, today confirmed that on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2003 at approximately 4:20 a.m. Mountain Time, it experienced a large-scale distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. The attack caused the company's Web site and corporate operational traffic to be unavailable during the morning hours including e-mail, the company intranet, and customer support operations. The company's site remains unavailable while this DDoS attack continues to take place. The company is working with its Internet Service Provider to restore to legitimate Internet users. bq. This specific type of DDoS attack, called a "syn attack," took place when several thousand servers were compromised by an unknown person to overload SCO's Web site with illegitimate Web site requests. The flood of traffic by these illegitimate requests caused the company's ISP's Internet bandwidth to be consumed so the Web site was inaccessible to any other legitimate Web user. Don't know why anyone would do such a thing...

Novell supports Open Source in a big way

from bq. Officials at the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) have filled the group's last board of director seat with the addition of Novell (Quote, Chart) Vice President Jeffrey Hawkins. bq. The independent software vendor (ISV) applied for "platinum-level" membership -- with $1 million a year dues -- within the organization last week, and got unanimous approval from the other directors Friday. bq. Novell's inclusion was apparently helped by its recent decision to acquire Gemany-based SuSE Linux, though officials from both sides hastened to say that the membership was completely independent of the purchase. bq. "It's not conditional in any way to our deal with SuSE," said Bruce Lowery, a Novell spokesperson. bq. Last month the San Jose, Calif., company announced its intentions to acquire Germany-based SuSE Linux for $210 million, the latest step in Novell's strategy to embrace open source. SuSE is one of the top three commercial distributions (RedHat and Mandrake) and it's a good one. It will be nice to see a convergence of Novell's security and management tools and the performance and open source of the Linux kernal. OSDL has a press-release here

Microsoft Patches

First, MSFT announced that they were not releasing any patches for December 2003 Then, they release a patch: bq. The patch, for a flaw announced during its monthly fix bulletin in November, updates FrontPage extensions. It plugs a security hole that could allow malicious code to be run on a person's PC. bq. On Wednesday morning, Microsoft discovered that a glitch in the patching process resulted in a November fix not being applied to some Windows XP computers. The same patch was sent out again via the Windows update service on Tuesday night. The company is still investigating why and how the patch was reissued. bq. The original flaw occurs in Microsoft's FrontPage extensions and affects Windows 2000, Windows XP and Office XP. The security hole was rated as critical for all systems, except for original Windows XP installations that hadn't been upgraded with FrontPage Extensions 2002. Company that size it must be hard to coordinate everything but still...

Modem inventors

Interesting profile of the two people who invented the modern Modem Dennis Hayes and Dale Heatherington, the two people behind Hayes Modems. Different lives...

IBM Research takes a look at email

from IBMs research facility comes ReMail This is a new look at how people use email and what can be done to make it better. Very cool stuff!

Robot Librarian

A Japanese team has developed a robot that can browse the stacks and retrieve books via command issued over the internet. bq. A Japanese team of researchers has developed a robot that could help browse for books in a library by receiving instructions via the Internet, a team member said Friday. The robot, a wheeled vehicle measuring 50 by 45 centimeters with a digital camera, mechanical hand and arm, follows orders received through the Internet. bq. Still in the experimental stage, it was developed as a way to help people who cannot go to a library, said Akihisa Oya, an assistant professor at the University of Tsukuba. Using a laser to navigate between shelves and other barriers, it can select a book, open it and flip through pages with its own hand, while taking and sending pictures of contents. (Kyodo News)

Congress OKs anti-spam bill

from CNN/Money bq. Congress approved a bill Monday outlawing some of the most annoying forms of junk e-mail and creating a "do not spam" registry. bq. By a voice vote, the House approved the bill containing jail time and multimillion-dollar fines for online marketers who flood e-mail inboxes with pornography and get-rich-quick schemes. bq. The measure, which cleared the Senate last month, now goes to the White House where President Bush is expected to sign it into law by the end of the year. bq. "For the first time during the Internet era, American consumers will have the ability to say no to spam," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Republican, said in a statement. bq. "What's more, parents will be able to breath easier knowing that they have the ability to prevent pornographic spam from reaching defenseless, unsuspecting children," he said. This is a start - it will not in any way limit the ammount of spam that you recieve since most of it comes from two sources beyond the control of the US Government. Most of the SPAM is sent from outside the USA. A good chunk of the rest (and this number will jump on December 26th) comes from clueless people whose computers have been infected with viruses that don't appear to be doing anything but are using the computers resources to serve as a relay point for SPAM. December 26th is the day that all the new holiday gifts will be plugged in, turned on and their initial install (without the latest patches) will be connected to broadband internet. Their owners will be so enthralled with the new experience that they will click on all sorts of 'fun' websites, open attachments that their friends sent to them and send and recieve eCards with abandon. Sigh... Keeps people like me in business anyway

ViewSonic AirPanel review

from Ars Technica Neither fish nor fowl and not very good with some applications. Good for casual home use but when you need decent video rendering, this doesn't work well... Pros: * 15" LCD touchscreen * Instant-on and quick connect * Variety of data entry methods to choose from * Built-in USB and docking ports for expandability. Cons: * Heavy (6 lbs) * Tiny keyboard * Expensive (compared to a laptop) * Poor audio/video performance * No VGA/DVI port (cannot double as an LCD monitor)

Are the Days of 32-Bit Chips Numbered?

from PC World bq. Advanced Micro Devices will probably stop producing 32-bit processors by the end of 2005, a senior AMD executive predicts. bq. "I think it will be in the '05 timetable. Late '05," said Marty Seyer, the vice president and general manager of AMD's Microprocessor Business Unit. He was speaking during a panel discussion on AMD's 64-bit processors at the Comdex show here. bq. Seyer added the caveat that AMD intends to keep selling 32-bit chips "literally as long as customers want them." But as the price of AMD's 64-bit Opteron and Athlon 64 processors drop, customers will have less reason to purchase 32-bit processors, he said. bq. Though the majority of AMD shipments are 32-bit processors today, its new 64-bit chips are designed to also run 32-bit applications without taking a hit in performance. Interesting... There are still a lot of 8-bit chips being used in embedded applications (the 8051 is still widely used after more than ten years in production) but for desktops, this is definitley the path.

Yet another DVD 'standard'

from AP/Excite news bq. Seeking to compete on its own terms in the lucrative entertainment industry, China announced a government-funded project Tuesday to promote an alternative to DVDs and "attack the market share" of the global video format. bq. The rollout of the long-planned project, known as EVD, or enhanced versatile disc, was timed to coincide with the beginning of what China calls the "golden sales" period - known elsewhere as the Christmas shopping season. bq. EVD would give Chinese manufacturers and technology consortiums a homegrown platform to sell and build on. It also is aimed at relieving Chinese DVD producers from paying licensing fees to the companies that hold patents to the DVD format. Yeah - just what we need, another standard... There is one coming out called Blu-Ray that looks really good - it uses the shorter wavelength of a blue laser to pack more data onto a disk very similar to DVD - this gives 27GB storage on a disk (about 13 hours of standard TV and 2+ hours of HDTV) Blu-Ray is currently supported by Hitachi, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and Thomson and Sony has already announced a Pro-sumer grade recorder for under $4K (DVD recorders first hit the Pro-sumer market at $10K) Hello China??? Anybody listening over there???

cell phones in Iraq

from Time Magazine bq. When U.S. authorities in Iraq picked three companies last month to build a wireless telephone network for the country, they were pleased that no Americans were among the winners, a fact they hoped would silence those who charge that the Bush Administration is handing reconstruction contracts only to business cronies and campaign contributors. But some telecom-industry insiders complain that the winners of the licenses, which cost just $5 million but could eventually be worth as much as $1 billion a year, benefited from ties to prominent Iraqis on the U.S.-backed Governing Council. The majority partner in the consortium that was awarded the southern-Iraq license, for instance, is Dijla Telecommunications Corporation, a Baghdad outfit headed by Ali Shawkat, the son of Mudhar Shawkat, a senior adviser to Iraqi National Congress President Ahmad Chalabi. Coalition officials and the Shawkats denied to Time that the family's connections were behind the decision to grant Dijla the license. But others contend the deal reeks of cronyism. "The mobile contracts were all politically divided," says an Iraqi emigre who returned as a consultant for a telecom firm. "It's the same as Saddam's time. It's about who you know." Actually, this is a bit more complex than it seems on the surface... There are two basic standards for cell phone technology - CDMA and GSM CDMA is the better of the two by far and is the one used in most of the US. GSM is the one used by 90% of the Arab nations (and Old Europe). GSM was chosen - even though it's faults are known - to match the phone system in use in the area. For a great discussion of the two standards, check out Steven DenBeste's website here

CDs 'could be history in five years'

interesting article from Ananova bq. Compact discs could be history within five years, superseded by a new generation of fingertip-sized memory tabs with no moving parts. bq. Scientists say each paper-thin device could store more than a gigabyte of information - equivalent to 1,000 high quality images - in one cubic centimetre of space. bq. Experts have developed the technology by melding together organic and inorganic materials in a unique way. bq. They say it could be used to produce a single-use memory card that permanently stores data and is faster and easier to operate than a CD. They go on: bq. A report in the journal Nature described how the researchers identified a new property of a polymer called PEDOT. bq. PEDOT, which is clear and conducts electricity, has been used for years as an anti-static coating on photographic film. Researchers looked at ways of using PEDOT to store digital information. In the new memory card, data in the form of ones and zeroes would be represented by polymer pixels. A bit more detail: PEDOT is PolyEthyleneDi*OxyThiophene and has been around for a while. * the Di is actually a Thi but the original compound was Di and the 'nym stuck... Water based, fairly (hell yeah at 1.5pH) acidic. Interesting uses are cropping up all over - it's also used for LEP displays and organic semiconductors. Limited temperature range so far so I would not leave the "music stick" on the dashboard of my car during summer but still... UPDATE: Science Blog has some more information bq. From Princeton University: New memory device could offer smaller, simpler way to archive data Discovery of new property in commonly used plastic leads to invention bq. The research was done in Forrest's lab by former postdoctoral researcher Sven M�ller, who is now at HP in Corvallis, Ore. Craig Perlov, Warren Jackson and Carl Taussig, scientists at HP Labs in Palo Alto, Calif., are also co-authors of the Nature paper. bq. M�ller made the basic discovery behind the device by experimenting with polymer material called PEDOT, which is clear and conducts electricity. It has been used for years as an antistatic coating on photographic film, and more recently as an electrical contact on video displays that require light to pass through the circuitry. M�ller found that PEDOT conducts electricity at low voltages, but permanently loses its conductivity when exposed to higher voltages (and thus higher currents), making it act like a fuse or circuit breaker. bq. This finding led the researchers to use PEDOT as a way of storing digital information. Digital images and all computerized data are stored as numbers that are written as long strings of ones and zeroes. A PEDOT-based memory device would have a grid of circuits in which all the connections contain a PEDOT fuse. A high voltage could be applied to any of the contact points, blowing that particular fuse and leaving a mix of working and non-working circuits. These open or closed connections would represent zeros and ones and would become permanently encoded in the device. A blown fuse would block current and be read as a zero, while an unblown one would let current pass and act as a one. bq. This grid of memory circuits could be made so small that, based on the test junctions the researchers made, 1 million bits of information could fit in a square millimeter of paper-thin material. If formed as a block, the device could store more than one gigabyte of information, or about 1,000 high-quality images, in one cubic centimeter, which is about the size of a fingertip. Lots more work to be done but this is really cool!

New Crime wave

From the Financial Times bq. Gangs based in Eastern Europe have been found to have been launching waves of attacks on corporate networks, costing the companies millions of dollars in lost business and exposing them to blackmail. bq. The most recent cases of affected companies have surfaced in Britain where the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) is investigating how one betting site was brought down and then received a threat that it would be attacked again unless tens of thousands of pounds were paid. It is co-operating with international law enforcement agencies, with the perpetrators thought to be based in Eastern Europe. bq. The attacks involve gangs commandeering as many as hundreds of computers through hacking methods to use without their owners' knowledge. A command is then issued to each one simultaneously to make a series of bogus requests to the servers of the victim. The weight of traffic brings the servers to a halt and legitimate requests to carry out transactions cannot be completed. The emphasis in the last quote is mine. These computers are infected with virusses by the inaction or poor operation of their owners. Keep current on your patches. If you get an email with an attachment, check with the sender to make sure they sent it to you. If you get a Security Alert email from Microsoft, ignore it, they never send security alerts via email. Think before you click! set RANT=off


from Wired News bq. Citing concerns that Diebold Election Systems installed uncertified software on some electronic voting systems in a California county without the state's knowledge, officials are forcing the company to pay for an audit of all the company's voting machines used in the state in order to win certification for a new model. bq. An investigation of how and when the software was installed in Alameda County is still underway. But Tony Miller, special projects coordinator for Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, said Monday that the state would certify Diebold's AccuVote-TSx touch-screen voting machine for the time being under several conditions. bq. The certification is contingent on Diebold paying for an independent audit of all its hardware and software used in 13 other California counties to determine if uncertified components have been installed elsewhere. Whoops!!!

Robot Hall of Fame

Wi-Fi security weakness

What??? Again???
Specific to 802.11i and Pre-Shared Key (used mainly for small networks)

Read here

Anyone with knowledge of the PSK can determine any PTK in the ESS through passive sniffing of the wireless network, listening for those all-important key exchange data frames. Also, if a weak passphrase is used, for example, a short passphrase, an offline dictionary attack can readily guess the PSK. Since the common usage will be a single PSK for the ESS, once this is learned by the attacker, the attacker is now a member of the ESS, and the whole ESS is compromised. The attacker can now read and forge any traffic in the ESS.

Pre-Shared Keying is provided in the standard to simplify deployments in small, low risk, networks. The risk of using PSKs against internal attacks is almost as bad as WEP. The risk of using passphrase based PSKs against external attacks is greater than using WEP. Thus the only value PSK has is if only truly random keys are used, or for deploy testing of basic WPA or 802.11i functions. PSK should ONLY be used if this is fully understood by the deployers.

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