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pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #0 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Mon 31 Dec 07 14:38
    
 ...hello, 2008!
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #1 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Tue 1 Jan 08 19:38
    
   BBC Looks To Future

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/technology/7147804.stm

 "Technologies on the rise in 2008"
In a nutshell, they are:
 1. The web to go
 2. Ultra mobile PCs
 3. IPTV
 4. Wimax
 5. Mobile VoIP
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #2 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Wed 2 Jan 08 09:06
    

   Flat Tones

According to an article in the paper, the purchase of custom ring tones for
cell phones may be a fading fad. In the US, market penetration peaked at 10
percent last January and is now down to 9.3%. There are exceptions: a tone
involving the king of Spain telling the president of Venezuela to shut up is
a best seller, although the advice is ignored by most purchasers. And "the
next big thing in the ring tone wave" is predicted to be video ring tones in
which "your call shows the animation of your choice when it rings". This
could get interesting.
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #3 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Fri 4 Jan 08 08:13
    

   Social Networks Offer Target-Rich Environment

A story at  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/technology/7156541.stm  says Web
sites like Bebo, Facebook, MySpace, and Orkut are increasingly targeted by
criminals of various persuasions. Apparently there are two main avenues of
vulnerability. The sites themselves, with their openness to software add-ons
and multimedia attachments, can be subject to malware hijackings. And once
again as so often before, "the quasi-intimate nature of the sites makes
people share information readily leaving them open to all kinds of other
attacks". In other words, people reposing trust in others are at risk.
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #4 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Fri 11 Jan 08 15:53
    
   Bake Sale! Bake Sale!

Short enough to quote in its entirety:

  FBI, Failing to Pay Bills, Loses Wiretaps

"Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspects
because of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's repeated failures to pay
phone bills on time. A Justice Department audit said the problem was a
result of the FBI's lax oversight of money used in undercover
investigations. Poor supervision of the program also allowed one employee to
steal $25,000, the audit said. More than half of 990 bills to pay for
telecommunication surveillance in five unidentified F.B.I. field offices
were not paid on time, the report shows. In one office alone, unpaid costs
for wiretaps from one phone company totaled $66,000. John Miller, an
assistant F.B.I. director, said the bureau was working to fix the problems."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/11/washington/11brfs-wiretaps.html
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #5 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Tue 15 Jan 08 16:01
    
   No Safe Haven

Bad news for anyone who saw biofuels as a panacea. The European Union may
ban imports of several types as harmful to the environment in several ways.

"A flurry of studies has discredited some of the claims made by biofuel
producers that the fuels help reduce greenhouse gases by reducing fossil
fuel use and growing carbon-dioxide-consuming plants. Growing the crops and
turning them into fuel can result in considerable environmental harm. Not
only is native vegetation, including tropical rain forests, being chopped
down in places to plant the crops, but fossil fuels, like diesel for
tractors, are often used to farm the crops. They also demand nitrogen
fertilizer made largely with natural gas and consume huge amounts of water."

The story goes on to say that draining peatlands in southeast Asia for palm-
oil plantations "accounts for up to 8 percent of global annual carbon
dioxide emissions", per Friends Of The Earth. Plus clearing of forests (44
million acres in Indonesia alone) which endangers habitats for wildlife like
the orangutan and the Sumatran tiger, and the humans who live there. Besides
forests, the clearing of grasslands for corn could result in an import ban
on that product. Which would throw third world farmers out of work and stall
the growth of their economies...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/business/worldbusiness/15biofuel.html
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #6 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Thu 17 Jan 08 19:58
    
There seems to be something going around lately, a nasty rootkit that
targets small Web servers in a remarkably sophisticated way:

http://blog.scansafe.com/journal/2008/1/15/mom-pop-sites-hit-hard-by-host-
compromise.html
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #7 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Mon 21 Jan 08 09:18
    

   Quote Of The Day

Steven Jobs on Amazon's new Kindle e-book reader:

"It doesn't matter how good or bad the product is; the fact is that people
don't read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the US read one book or
less a year."
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #8 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Tue 22 Jan 08 09:09
    
   Skepticism Grows Toward Biofuels "Craze"

The pendulum seems to be swinging away from the earlier enthusiasm for
vegetation-based energy sources, as hidden costs emerge per

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/business/worldbusiness/22biofuels.html

Some quotes:

"There is increasing evidence that the total emissions and environmental
damage from producing many 'clean' biofuels often outweigh their lower
emissions when compared with fossil fuels. More governments are responding
to these findings. ... The biofuels craze was founded on the theory that
plant-based fuels are carbon-neutral: The carbon dioxide released from
burning biofuels would be canceled out by the carbon dioxide absorbed by
plants as they grow. But this equation does not include emissions from
processing the crops. Nor does it cover the environmental cost of
fertilizers. ... Corn is a relatively inefficient crop for making biofuel,
because it requires intensive processing and in most cases yields only a
minor emissions benefit."
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #9 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Fri 15 Feb 08 14:32
    

   Seek A Friend, Go To Jail

16-year-old Melisa Fernino faces up to a year in prison for sending MySpace
"friend requests" to Sandra Delgrosso and her two daughters. Unfortunately
those requests were preceded by threats of violence against Sandra (who had
dated Melisa's father) and her kids which resulted in a restraining order
that barred her from contacting her potential pals. The contempt-of-court
hearing may represent a case of first impression over MySpace invitations as
barred contact. A Columbia Law School professor opines there is a spectrum
from (for example) direct email to posting on a blog that both parties read.
The judge rejected a motion to dismiss the contempt charges in an opinion
"which managed to quote both Wikipedia and 'Hamlet'", noting that while the
recipient could refuse the friend request, it was still a form of contact
and hence prohibited.
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #10 of 72: Gail Williams (gail) Sat 16 Feb 08 13:04
    
The legal world is evolving.  Interesting that the court is willing to
enforce this.
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #11 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Thu 21 Feb 08 10:27
    

    Microsoft Promises To Play Nice, Yet Again; Others Wary

According to the BBC at  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/business/7257411.stm
Microsoft will "publish key software blueprints on its website...[and] also
promised not to sue open source developers for making that software
available for non-commercial use". Applause however was muted: the European
Commission, which is investigating MS for abusing its monopoly, dryly
observed "today's announcement follows at least four similar statements by
Microsoft in the past on the importance of interoperability". Perhaps the
fifth time is the charm.

And the NY Times has an update on the Wikileaks injunction at
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/20/us/20wiki.html   I especially liked

"The feebleness of the action suggests that the bank, and the judge, did not
understand how the domain system works, or how quickly Web communities will
move to counter actions they see as hostile to free speech online."
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #12 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Thu 21 Feb 08 14:35
    
   Quote of the Day

"most programs will continue to work as expected after you install Windows
Vista SP1"
  - Microsoft announcement

Unfortunately, firewall and anti-virus software are not among the lucky ones
according to www.technewsworld.com/story/Vista-SP1-Cripples-Some-Security-
Applications-61781.html

or   http://tinyurl.com/2472rh
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #13 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Thu 28 Feb 08 14:23
    

   Nortel Heads South

As the telecomm equipment maker logs a $1 billion write-down, a 2007 loss of
$957 million, and plans to cut 2,100 jobs and move another thousand away
from North America, there are those who question its health. Not for those
reasons, but on account of its declining market share; and worse yet its
focus on past technology, often fatal for high-tech businesses. The story
reports that Nortel's sales are almost entirely based on CDMA wireless
protocols little used outside America and that it has largely ignored GSM,
the "global standard". Worse yet, as both of those standards begin to yield
their place to UMTS, Nortel has chosen to abandon work on that technology in
favor of an unspecified "next generation". Whether CDMA will carry it to
that more distant point is a matter of skepticism among industry analysts.
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #14 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Sat 8 Mar 08 10:44
    

   Tiny Talkers

Governments, parents, and consumer groups show varying degrees of concern
over cell phones marketed to pre-adolescents as young as 5. The MO1 from
Imaginarium is targeted at 6-year-olds, according to an article at
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/08/technology/08mobile.html
Research group IDC predicts 31 million "new young users" will appear between
2005 and 2010, and that by then the number of cell-phone users 9 and less in
the US alone will reach 9 million and produce $1.6 billion annual revenue.
Other stats: "the average age of novice mobile phone users is dropping,
hitting 10 years old last year" and most children surveyed by Eurobarometer
in 29 countries had cell phones by the age of nine. Worries tend to cluster
in three areas: potential radiation damage to brains with phones clapped
close from childhood on, social ills like predators and bullies, and the
expense to families from kids with little sense of thrift. And the level of
apprehension varies: "The Health Council of the Netherlands concluded in
2002 that there was no special risk for children, while health authorities
in Britain, Russia and France all urge precautions".
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #15 of 72: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 11 Mar 08 11:35
    
It often feels like the Dutch are a fearless and sensible people.
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #16 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Thu 13 Mar 08 10:41
    

   TEOTIYA

The end of the Internet yet again is the focus of a story in today's paper
at  <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/13/technology/13net.html>
with observations like "Last year...the video site YouTube consumed as much
bandwidth as the entire Internet did in 2000." Nemertes Research projects
that as demand growth outpaces the increase in capacity and dark fiber left
over from the dot-com bust gets lit up, we could hit the wall by 2011.
Annual projected usage growth varies from Nemertes' 100 percent to Cisco
Systems' 50%. (A graph from Cisco shows "Global Consumer Internet Traffic"
at about 3.2 million terabytes in 2007, rising to a projected 8.8 in 2010.)
When spare capacity reaches zero, you won't get a busy signal but file
downloads and real-time video and audio may begin to lag. Another effect
could be on innovation: "high-speed networks are increasingly the economic
and scientific Petri dishes of innovation, spawning new businesses, markets
and jobs. If American investment lags behind, [experts] warn, the nation
risks losing competitiveness to countries that are making the move to
higher-speed Internet access a priority." However the article also notes
that in 1995 Robert Metcalfe famously predicted a "catastrophic collapse" of
the Internet in 1996, and it seems to have muddled through.
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #17 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Mon 17 Mar 08 14:50
    

   The Lengthening Shadow

A short piece at <http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/> asserts that
per IDC Research, the "digital universe" - "everything from e-mail to
YouTube videos" - reached 281 exabytes in 2007. (An exabyte is described as
a billion gigabytes, much larger than a human hair and equal to about 50,000
Libraries of Congress.) By 2011 IDC speculates it will be up to 1,800
exabytes, or something something grains of sand on all the beaches of Mars.
IDC also observes that digitally stored information about *you* (your
"digital shadow") exceeds what you have created and includes credit-card
trails, mailing lists, and surveillance photos; which hardly seems like new
news but is called an "intriguing finding". My speculation is that of those
1,800 exabytes of data, about half of them will be wrong.
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #18 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Wed 19 Mar 08 16:11
    

   Solving The CPU Traffic Jam

Since 20 years ago with IBM's dual-CPU 3081 (and CDC and Cray?), it has been
apparent that multiplying the number of processors does not produce an
equivalent benefit. (The classic if somewhat strained analogy is asking nine
women to produce a baby in one month; a better example is doubling the
number of programmers on a software development project.) As the laws of
physics slow efforts to improve the speed of an individual computer core,
multiple-core chips have become the primary means of increasing power. An
article at <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/19/technology/19compute.html>
observes that some chips have eight cores, and ones with 100 or more are
foreseeable. But if all that power is spent in subdividing tasks and queuing
up to wait for another core to finish, the promise of parallel computing
will not be fulfilled. Enter Microsoft and Intel stage left, bearing $20
million to fund two university groups at Berkeley and Illinois (who will
themselves chip in - ha ha - $7 million and $8M to the effort). The goal is
"to start over and design a new generation of computing systems" that use
"advanced parallel software". Interestingly, the two corporations "said the
research funds were a partial step toward filling a void left by the
Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa. The agency
has increasingly focused during the Bush administration on military and
other classified projects, and pure research funds for computing at
universities have declined." The article doesn't really say much about their
chances of success; it seems questionable whether many problems lend
themselves to being solved piecemeal.
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #19 of 72: it's time for a colorful metaphor (jmcarlin) Wed 19 Mar 08 18:35
    

> it has been
> apparent that multiplying the number of processors does not produce an
> equivalent benefit. 

From the story:
> The problem, according to academic researchers and industry executives,
> is that the software to keep dozens of processors busy simultaneously for
> all kinds of computing problems does not exist.

I read stories like this but have to observe that the T2000 sparcs we use
at work for web servers do a good job of coming close to realizing the
multi-core potential. True it's not "all kinds" of computing problems, to
be sure, but for multi-threaded apps it's a dynamite platform.

Maybe Intel and Microsoft need to study non-consumer OS's for how to
design compilers and processors properly.
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #20 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Wed 19 Mar 08 20:08
    
Could servers be a special case? I'm no expert on this, but I would guess
that certain functions like Web or mail servers with multiple clients lend
themselves to parallel processing, and that this research effort plans to
tackle the more difficult (it seems like) case of client machines. The
examples of client side parallel-processing benefits I see in magazines seem
sort of contrived; they almost always involve running a systemwide virus
scan while recalculating a large spreadsheet, while doing X in the
foreground. Possibly valid, but limited. Visual Studio .NET has made
multithreading much easier than before, but I've found few opportunities
where it's of use in my application development. I really wonder if this
project will turn up much that isn't known already.
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #21 of 72: it's time for a colorful metaphor (jmcarlin) Wed 19 Mar 08 22:20
    

I think that's a good point. I can't speak to Microsoft's server
platforms, but multi-threaded apps are a staple of UNIX servers.  But on
Windows platforms, I can be running a backup, listening to itunes and
surfing the web. All those processes should be able to run in parallel
most of the time.

I would think that multi-threading an app like Photoshop is an, um,
non-trivial exercise.
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #22 of 72: Hal Royaltey (hal) Fri 21 Mar 08 10:12
    
Yeah.  You have to be very careful about this stuff.

UNIVAC's EXEC-8 OS was very happily and efficiently running multiple
CPUs over 30 years ago, handling batch, timeshare, and real-time with
aplomb.   But this was in an environment filled with independent tasks.

Truly parallel - running parts of a single task in parallel - that's
a whole 'nother smoke.

I had the pleasure of being an OS programmer on EXEC-8 for a few years
in the early 80's.   It was way ahead of its time.   
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #23 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Sun 30 Mar 08 20:19
    

   Last OS Standing

I thought this was interesting, maybe more than interesting. The CanSecWest
Applied Security conference this month offered to give away three laptop
computers to hackers who could break into them; details at
<http://cansecwest.com/post/2008-03-20.21:33:00.CanSecWest_PWN2OWN_2008>
Each had the latest fully patched operating system; one with Windows Vista,
one with Macintosh OSX 10.5.2, and one with Linux Ubuntu 7.10. Contestants
did not have physical access to the machines. Each day that a system
remained intact, the rules were loosened a bit. The results are at
<http://tinyurl.com/27o9vm>. The Mac was hacked into on the second day, and
Vista on the third. Ubuntu proved invulnerable. (Because these are white-hat
hackers, most details on their exploits are not being given out until the
vendors, who have been notified, are able to patch them closed.)
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #24 of 72: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Tue 1 Apr 08 06:18
    

   Data Security Fears Ease

Experts estimate that the risk of identity theft will effectively cease by
2010, since every bit of ID that can be stolen will have been.


   Search Firm In Policy Shift

Reversing a strategy in place since its founding, Google's board of
directors has decide that starting next quarter the company should be evil.
Accordingly the Friday afternoon beer parties will be replaced with a black
mass, a committee has been appointed to summon the powers of darkness, and a
partnership with Microsoft is being explored.


   Alternative-Fuel Vehicle Debuts

The Ford Motor Company announced today a radically different type of car
which it hopes will restore it to the top 100 auto makers, a ranking it lost
last year when Citroen passed it in worldwide sales. Described as "the
ultimate green machine", the Ford Atom requires neither gasoline for its use
nor electricity (which involves charging from coal-fired power plants).
Instead it runs on a self-contained nuclear reactor with material supplied
from plutonium enrichment plants in Iran.


   Bicycle Racing Team Disqualified

Tour de France officials have expelled the entire Belgian team under a rule
which bars genetically modified organisms from competing. The "bulging
Belgians" who average 850 pounds each, immediately protested they had done
nothing wrong and were being discriminated against on account of the
circumstances of their birth, though the team leader acknowledged that
having six legs gave him an advantage on uphill stretches.


   Mainframes Return

The banks of blinking lights which impress clients were actually not the
main reason according to an IBM spokesperson, as lights dimmed all over
Armonk. The primary motivation was security: refrigerator-size disk drives
can't be lost in the mail or left on car seats.


   India Outsources

The Ramakrishna Bullock Cart Manufactory has contracted for up to a third of
its annual production to take place in Detroit at shuttered Oldsmobile
plants. They briefly outsourced design as well to American auto engineers,
but those models resembled Humvees, required 16 bullocks per cart, and got
only 2 miles per hay bale.


   Beating The Drum

TomTom NV has joined an alliance with Tom's Hardware and Tom's of Maine to
offer a combination automobile GPS system and Internet-addressable
toothbrush called Tom's and Tom's TomTom.


   New Protocols

With the popularity of Bluetooth devices which use a system named after
Danish king Harald Bluetooth (910-986), other Scandinavian nobles are being
considered for IEEE standards:

 - Eric Bloodaxe (895-954), for warcraft games

 - Sigurd Snake-In-The-Eye, ditto

 - Ivar the Boneless (-873), a berserker, ditto

 - Olaf the Big-Mouthed (995-1030), voice recognition

 - Hallfred The Troublesome Poet (965-1007), online dictionaries

 - Ragnar Hairy-Breeches (-865, father of Sigurd & Ivar), fashion standards

 (Ragnar's eponymous garment was supposed to confer supernatural qualities:
  as "Ragnar Magic-Pants" he could be a standard for XXX sites.)
  
pre.vue.146 : Business and Technology News for 2008
permalink #25 of 72: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 1 Apr 08 12:39
    

ahahahah! I especially like item #1
  

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