Cleave the general ear (ronks) Mon 31 Dec 07 14:38
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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."
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."
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.
Gail Williams (gail) Sat 16 Feb 08 13:04
The legal world is evolving. Interesting that the court is willing to enforce this.
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."
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
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.
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".
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 11 Mar 08 11:35
It often feels like the Dutch are a fearless and sensible people.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 1 Apr 08 12:39
ahahahah! I especially like item #1