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Ontario Technoblog

Ontario Emperor technology blog.

This blog has been superseded by the mrontemp blog
Location: Ontario, California, United States

Sometime audio artist. Email comments on this blog to the gmail account mrontemp.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Technical Examination of Daily Dancer

I never thought I'd be mentioning Daily Dancer in the Ontario Technoblog, but after his latest dance, I was moved to do so.

First, a little bit about Daily Dancer for those who haven't heard of him.

So I done visited Mitzzee's blog Ooh La La (she's from the northern Ontario, y'know) and ran across this post:


"This guy" goes by the name Daily Dancer, and is a self-described "computer geek who loves to dance." His blog includes wmv files of Daily Dancer, in a small apartment living room, dancing to about a minute of some pop hit....

Man. The guy has balls, AND he's a better dancer than I. The world is interesting at times.

Although I subsequently suspected that the website was just created for purposes of a contest, Daily Dancer set me straight on that:

Ahhh, yes, I am in the contest, but I had ideas for this site long before I heard of the contest. I just thought the contest would be a cool way to launch my site. I hope to keep this thing going even after the contest ends. I'm glad you like my site.
- Daily Dancer

P.S. By mentioning the other sites in the contest, you are helping them to get even farther ahead. :)

And, I'm adding a link to your blog.

posted by Daily Dancer : Monday, June 06, 2005 6:27:18 AM

Well, even after the contest ended, Daily Dancer kept on dancing, posting several dances a week. None of this necessarily merits mention in the Technoblog, but then I ran across this dance.

...And today, we have... Jacko!

Yeah, my girlfriend can't stand Michael Jackson, but since this is a very special occasion, she let me have this one song. Enjoy!

This is one of the first dances that is available in two formats. In addition to .wmv format, .mov format is now also supported.

Follow the link and click on the format of your choice. The first few seconds look almost like any Daily Dancer video - there he is, dancing in his living room, with the only odd thing being the pumpkin in front of him. Oh - and he's wearing one glove.

Ten seconds into the dance, the effects begin. I am not an expert on video special effects, so I can only describe them as I see them:

  • Daily Dancer goes ghostly - his body is partially transparent, and is glowing white.

  • After a while, Daily Dancer's body returns to normal, but all the objects around him look like neon in the darkness.

  • Everything then returns to normal, except for his body being slightly transparent.

Well, I can't really do it justice. But just think - back when the original "Thriller" video was released, it cost oodles of money. Today, a guy in a living room can apply special effects on the cheap. (And better still, Daily Dancer does not give "Jesus juice" to young boys.)

If someone more knowledgeable than me can explain the video production techniques, please do so in the comments.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I'm waiting for the Google floor cleaner that's also a dessert topping

Is there a business that Google hasn't launched in beta form? InfoWorld refers to the buzz about something called Google Base.

On Wednesday, a screen shot of a Google beta, or test, service called Google Base began circulating via blogs and news stories. There aren't many details on the page, which has since been removed but is still available in screen shot form on various Web sites. The page encourages visitors to post items on Google Base, defined by the company as a database where Google offers to host all types of content, making the content searchable online.

As an example, Google suggests that users can list a used car for sale and also suggests that users can post "descriptions of your party-planning service" or a "database of protein structures."

It's the used car example that seems to have led many onlookers to imagine that Google is planning to encroach on eBay’s space. However, the Google Base Web page makes no mention of an auction or online sales capability.

Here's what Google says about its plans:

Rumor of the day
10/25/2005 05:02:00 PM

Posted by Tom Oliveri, Product Marketing Manager

You may have seen stories today reporting on a new product that we're testing, and speculating about our plans. Here's what's really going on. We are testing a new way for content owners to submit their content to Google, which we hope will complement existing methods such as our web crawl and Google Sitemaps. We think it's an exciting product, and we'll let you know when there's more news.

Off-topic - the title of this post is explained here.

Monday, October 24, 2005

White Light Generator (Michael Bowers, not Ladytron)

From Live Science:

Accidental Invention Points to End of Light Bulbs
By Bjorn Carey

The main light source of the future will almost surely not be a bulb. It might be a table, a wall, or even a fork....

Michael Bowers, a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, was just trying to make really small quantum dots, which are crystals generally only a few nanometers big....

Quantum dots contain anywhere from 100 to 1,000 electrons. They're easily excited bundles of energy, and the smaller they are, the more excited they get. Each dot in Bower's particular batch was exceptionally small, containing only 33 or 34 pairs of atoms.

When you shine a light on quantum dots or apply electricity to them, they react by producing their own light, normally a bright, vibrant color. But when Bowers shined a laser on his batch of dots, something unexpected happened.

"I was surprised when a white glow covered the table," Bowers said. "The quantum dots were supposed to emit blue light, but instead they were giving off a beautiful white glow."

Then Bowers and another student got the idea to stir the dots into polyurethane and coat a blue LED light bulb with the mix. The lumpy bulb wasn't pretty, but it produced white light similar to a regular light bulb....

The new device gives off a warm, yellowish-white light that shines twice as bright and lasts 50 times longer than the standard 60 watt light bulb.

This work is published online in the Oct. 18 edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society....

If the new process can be developed into commercial production, light won't come just from newfangled bulbs. Quantum dot mixtures could be painted on just about anything and electrically excited to produce a rainbow of colors, including white....

From Vanderbilt University:

Until now quantum dots have been known primarily for their ability to produce a dozen different distinct colors of light simply by varying the size of the individual nanocrystals: a capability particularly suited to fluorescent labeling in biomedical applications. But chemists at Vanderbilt University discovered a way to make quantum dots spontaneously produce broad-spectrum white light. The report of their discovery, which happened by accident, appears in the communication “White-light Emission from Magic-Sized Cadmium Selenide Nanocrystals” published online October 18 by the Journal of the American Chemical Society....

[Michael] Bowers works in the laboratory of Associate professor of Chemistry Sandra Rosenthal. The accidental discovery was the result of the request of one of his coworkers, post-doctoral student and electron microscopist James McBride, who is interested in the way in which quantum dots grow. He thought that the structure of small-sized dots might provide him with new insights into the growth process, so he asked Bowers to make him a batch of small-sized quantum dots that he could study.

“I made him a batch and he came back to me and asked if I could make them any smaller,” says Bowers. So he made a second batch of even smaller nanocrystals. But once again, McBride asked him for something smaller. So Bowers made a batch of the smallest quantum dots he knew how to make. It turns out that these were crystals of cadmium and selenium that contain either 33 or 34 pairs of atoms, which happens to be a “magic size” that the crystals form preferentially. As a result, the magic-sized quantum dots were relatively easy to make even though they are less than half the size of normal quantum dots.

After Bowers cleaned up the batch, he pumped a solution containing the nanocrystals into a small glass cell and illuminated it with a laser. “I was surprised when a white glow covered the table,” Bowers says. “The quantum dots were supposed to emit blue light, but instead they were giving off a beautiful white glow.”

“The exciting thing about this is that it is a nano-nanoscience phenomenon,” Rosenthal comments. In the larger nanocrystals, which produce light in narrow spectral bands, the light originates in the center of the crystal. But, as the size of the crystal shrinks down to the magic size, the light emission region appears to move to the surface of the crystal and broadens out into a full spectrum.

Another student in the lab got the idea of using polyurethane wood finish for thin film research while working on his parent’s summer cabin. He had even brought some Minwax into the lab. That gave Bowers the idea of mixing the magic-sized quantum dots with the polyurethane and coating an LED. The result was a bit lumpy, but it proved that the magic-sized quantum dots could be used to make a white light source.

For more information, see

J. Am. Chem. Soc., ASAP Article 10.1021/ja055470d S0002-7863(05)05470-3
Web Release Date: October 18, 2005

Copyright © 2005 American Chemical Society
White-Light Emission from Magic-Sized Cadmium Selenide Nanocrystals

Michael J. Bowers II, James R. McBride, and Sandra J. Rosenthal*

Department of Chemistry, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37235

Received August 22, 2005


Magic-sized cadmium selenide (CdSe) nanocrystals have been pyrolytically synthesized. These ultra-small nanocrystals exhibit broadband emission (420-710 nm) that covers most of the visible spectrum while not suffering from self absorption. This behavior is a direct result of the extremely narrow size distribution and unusually large Stokes shift (40-50 nm). The intrinsic properties of these ultra-small nanocrystals make them an ideal material for applications in solid state lighting and also the perfect platform to study the molecule-to-nanocrystal transition.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

More on hazardous waste

I live in EPA Region 9, which includes "Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and over 140 Tribal Nations." This region has a page which "provides links to government, academic and industry Web pages dedicated to both hazardous waste site characterization and remediation technologies. They are intended for use by Superfund and RCRA project managers, researchers, engineers, the public, or anyone who may be looking for technologies to solve site specific hazardous waste problems."

(Yes, the Ontario Vineyard Village Association is hard at work.)

Saturday, October 22, 2005


From Reuters/Yahoo:

Research in Motion Ltd. moved closer on Friday to an injunction that could halt U.S. sales of its popular BlackBerry wireless device after it lost a bid to suspend a patent case against it....

The case goes back to 2002, when patent holding company NTP successfully sued RIM in a lower court. It won an injunction in 2003 to halt U.S. sales of the BlackBerry and shut down its service, although that ruling was stayed pending appeal.

The appeals court scaled back the initial ruling, but still concluded that RIM infringed on NTP patents. RIM shares sank earlier this month when the appeals court refused to reconsider the matter further....

NTP said on Friday it will ask the court to confirm the injunction. It said an injunction would not affect BlackBerry products used by U.S. federal, state, or local governments, where the wireless email device has become increasingly popular....

Up in the air...

From Ziff Davis/Yahoo:

Portal company Yahoo Inc. informed customers of its subscription music download service that it will increase pricing for users who transfer their tunes onto portable devices or CDs.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., firm forwarded an e-mail to its Yahoo Music Unlimited subscribers late Thursday telling customers that it plans to double the fee it charges for the so-called unlimited service from $4.99 per month to $9.99 per month, for people who buy the service on an annual basis.

Yahoo said people who subscribe to the download service on a monthly basis will see their memberships increase from $6.99 per month to $11.99 per month....

Web-based download pricing has come under increased scrutiny recently from leaders in the music industry who say that Apple's 99 cents per song payment plan won't generate sufficient income to cover recording companies' expenses for recruiting, signing and supporting artists.

At the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment Conference last month, Edgar Bronfman, the chief executive of Warner Music Group Corp., said in a keynote that more flexible pricing plans were needed to help defer the cost of recording and promoting performers.

However, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has rebutted such observations, calling the recording industry "greedy" and warning that more consumers will resort to illegal file sharing if companies raise their process significantly....

Friday, October 21, 2005

Where's Tim, and why you should care (arf)

Tim Hibbard posted this on August 30, 2005:

Using EnGraph's GPSParser, Air-Trak's Cloudberry AVL data and Google Maps, I built a web page that shows my real time location.

It took a little over an hour to put together. That shows the ease of EnGraph GPS Management tools and Google Maps.

Here's the page - www.timhibbard.com/wherestim.aspx

I'm sure you've heard of Google Maps, so let's dig into the other technologies.

From EnGraph:

EnGraph can quickly enable GPS tracking for your organization. Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology has become easier to implement and far less expensive. Let EnGraph show you how easy it is for any industry...

EnGraph can implement different levels of GPS/AVL technology to your organization. From passive GPS tracking with automated downloads to real-time AVL systems. Use integrated Messaging systems to communicate in real-time with MDT, PocketPC, or Motorola equipped vehicles....

Architecture #2) Real-Time AVL with Nextel Wireless and Cloudberry

For any size fleet, the Real-Time AVL with Nextel Wireless solution provides an affordable way to communicate with and monitor each vehicle in real-time. Nextel Phones or In-Vehicle platforms transmit GPS and other data through Nextel wireless networks to the Cloudberry® Data Center, which is then accessed through internet and displayed with EnGraph software.

The hardware and architecture for this solution is provided by Nextel and Cloudberry, a leading GPS tracking and communication system. The Cloudberry® GPS system gives managers real-time visibility and control of their mobile workers, vehicles, and assets to increase productivity, security, customer service, and profitability.

The Cloudberry® Nextel Phones platform enables you to track and message with your mobile workforce using Nextel GPS, Java-enabled phones running over the Nextel nationwide guaranteed all-digital wireless network.
The platform gives you accurate, up-to-the-minute information on employee locations, hours, and job statuses.

The Cloudberry® Nextel In-Vehicle platform is a rugged, vehicle-mounted unit enabling managers to track and communicate with their mobile employees through the Nextel nationwide guaranteed all-digital wireless network.
The platform offers a variety of unique security and communication features.

It turns out that Nextel themselves offer a number of GPS tracking solutions.

And it turns out that Verizon doesn't:

My phone says GPS. What does that mean? Can other people or agencies see where I am located?
Many of the phones sold by Verizon Wireless in 2002-2003 and 100% of the new handsets sold since December 31, 2003 are GPS-capable, which means there is a chipset in the phone that will help provide location information to a PSAP when a caller dials 911. The phone is not a stand-alone GPS device. The handset alone does not support or initiate any kind of individual tracking capability. The location-determining capability becomes functional after dialing 911 when the network is prompted to determine the mobiles' location.

From Cloudberry's perspective:


With Cloudberry®, you can track and communicate with your mobile workforce using two hardware platforms: Nextel® GPS, Java-enabled phones and rugged Nextel In-Vehicle units that deliver always-on tracking, push-to-talk communications, and added security.

The Nextel Phone and Nextel In-Vehicle platforms run over Nextel’s nationwide guaranteed all-digital wireless network. When Nextel coverage is unavailable, both platforms can cost effectively provide 100% satellite coverage of North and Central America with the SatCom Upgrade module.

You can mix and match Cloudberry platforms and modules, scale them up to tens of thousands, and conveniently monitor and manage them from a single Cloudberry display.

Nextel Phones or In-Vehicle platforms transmit GPS and other data through satellite and Nextel wireless networks to the Cloudberry Data Center, which is then accessed via an Internet-connected PC.

Morpeth speculated on the possibilities:

Other possible applications: Pets? Children? Vehicles?

Actually, vehicles are already covered, either via something like the EnGraph solution or via a LoJack solution. Children and pets are an interesting application, although tracking of children could raise a number of privacy questions (does a parent have the right to track their teenager's whereabouts?) and abuse questions (what if someone intercepts the location and uses it to track down a particular minor)?

But no such restrictions occur for pets, and I'm sure that police agencies and rich pet-owners would love to be able to track Fido in case he (or she) runs away.

Robert Vamosi gives public biometrics the finger

From Security Watch:

Biometrics, although it's been around for a while, is suddenly hot within the security industry. Over the years, I've talked with various biometric vendors and security individuals, and I've always come away with a lukewarm feeling about the matter. I like biometrics on my laptop but not at the airport. Now biometrics, specifically fingerprint scanners, may soon be coming to a retail store near you as a convenient form of payment. The genie appears to be out of the bottle, with talk of library cards and even automobiles equipped with biometric security devices available or coming soon. Yet the question remains: Are biometric devices more secure than existing methods? I think not....

There are two basic methods for scanning fingerprints: optical scanning and capacitance scanning. Optical scanning uses a charged coupled device (CCD) to take a picture of your fingerprint. In doing so, it flips the image so that the valleys appear dark and the ridges appear light.

In capacitance scanning, electrical current instead of light is used to make up a fingerprint sample. Your finger rests against an array of tiny cells. The benefit here is that capacitance scanning is much harder to forge than a mere optical scan of a fingerprint.

Whether it be an optical image or a capacitance scan, the fingerprint must be compared to an existing database. To compare the entire print would require a lot of processing power; instead, as seen on CSI and other crime shows, unique identifiers are tagged and compared against a standing database using algorithms. Unfortunately, there are no standards regarding fingerprint analysis--at least not among the many new commercial systems about to roll out....

Companies such as Pay By Touch are racing to install fingerprint readers at local points of sale; stores identified on its site are specific locations of Piggly Wiggly, Cub Foods, and Farm Fresh stores. The idea, according to companies such as Pay By Touch, is that swiping your debit card and keying your PIN takes too much time; it creates long lines at the checkout. With biometrics, they argue, you simply press your index finger to a pad, and your debit account is automatically accessed, and more people buy more things faster.

I question the security of a one-touch payment system. With a debit card, I'm using two-factor authentication: I need the card, and I need a PIN number. With one-touch payment systems, you have only the fingerprint between you and fraud....

Simson Garfinkel points out, in a recent issue of CSO magazine, several examples of built-in flaws regarding fingerprint scanning: What about children with faint and sometimes ill-defined ridges and valleys? Certain ethnic groups are at a disadvantage, having less-distinct fingerprints than others. And what about people without hands?

And certainly if you've watched enough television or read an issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, you know of a few ways to lift fingerprints using talcum and tape, or even gummi bears. In April 2005, security analyst Bruce Schneier wrote about a carjacking in Malaysia that involved the attacker sawing off the index finger of the victim in order to gain access to the victim's biometrically secured Mercedes S-class....

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Intelligent Transportation Systems

Several websites dealing with intelligent transportation systems:

http://www.its.dot.gov/index.htm [From http://www.its.dot.gov/its_overview.htm: "Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) encompass a broad range of wireless and wire line communications-based information and electronics technologies. When integrated into the transportation system's infrastructure, and in vehicles themselves, these technologies relieve congestion, improve safety and enhance American productivity."]


http://www.its.washington.edu/ ["Most transportation professionals agree that we cannot simply build our way out of urban congestion problems. Intelligent transportation systems provide the technology to enable people to make smart travel choices."]


http://dfwtraffic.dot.state.tx.us/ ["Traffic congestion in Dallas and Fort Worth is a problem that needs a unified approach instead of individual efforts from the many local entities of the urban area. Recognizing this, the Fort Worth and Dallas District offices of the Texas Department of Transportation have joined forces with local governments to launch a comprehensive traffic management program using Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)."]




This list presented for the benefit of the person who was searching for intelligent transportation system information and ended up here. Sorry I couldn't help you earlier.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Free Wi Fi and VPN Issues

this is an audio post - click to play

Free Wi Fi and the Business Model

This is being posted from Rico Coffee, 2320-A Foothill Blvd., La Verne, CA 91750. (Hey, it's not as automated as Where's Tim Hibbard, but it works.) I need to check my work e-mail before 8:00 Pacific time to see if I received an important e-mail from the East Coast, and for personal reasons I find myself in the La Verne area. After a bit of hunting, I was able to locate a free wi-fi location (well, if you don't count the medium coffee and the blueberry muffin, but it's still a lot cheaper than six dollars an hour or whatever the going rate is).

Granted that La Verne, California isn't San Francisco, California, or even Hermiston, Oregon, but even here we have a potential challenge to the business model of Wayport and the rest that charge large amounts for wi-fi access.

From Wi-Fi Planet:

...While wireless companies are busy building out fee-based services in such myriad locations as hotels, coffee shops, RV parks and truck stops, local community-based hotspots are being thrown up on the cheap as either marketing gimmicks or because the owners believe that the Internet should be untethered, ubiquitous and free. The free hotspot movement may seem a bit naove and quixotic, but it does pose a serious threat to the business case of the for-pay hotspot movement.

"At the very least," said John Yunker, an analyst at Pyramid Research, "the free hotspots will put downward pressure on the price of the for-pay services." The research firm believes that there will be more than 21,000 hotspots in the United States and 45,000 globally by the end of 2004, and that the price for the services will begin to fall soon thereafter. "[T]he rapid growth in Wi-Fi users will be coupled with equally rapid price erosion," Yunker said. "Average revenue per user will drop from $30 per month this year to $3 per month in 2008."

The operators of the community-based free sites receive $0 per user, yet show no signs of abandoning their nodes. For them, Wi-Fi is a valuable marketing tool. Phil Lavigna, who operates Little Italy WiFi in San Diego, says that setting up a Wi-Fi node is fairly cheap, and with it comes the opportunity to communicate with users via the splash page, the first Web page users see when signing on. What's more, free Wi-Fi offers good public relations to the community Lavigna's business, Color Graphics, serves....

But this doesn't necessarily mean that wireless ISPs (WISPs) are doomed. Pyramid's Yunker believes that Wi-Fi will be offered as an amenity at many locations, especially in hotels and chain restaurants, and while amenity services may technically be free to the end user, some company has to exist in the background to work out the roaming agreements and security concerns for public-space, business-class wireless access. Users will seek out a service that provides a consistent look and feel across its many locations, and one that shields them from configuration burdens, he said. "In a couple of years, I wouldn't be surprised to see business travelers choosing their hotels based on the availability of a particular Wi-Fi service."

This concern may be overrated. While it took me some time to find this location, once I started up my computer, I was literally connected to the 'Net in a few seconds. Configuration, schmonfiguration. (And yes, I'm using a VPN to check that important e-mail.)

However, I'll grant that the article above was written in October, 2003, and I'm still not seeing any big decrease in that "$30 per month" service.

Monday, October 17, 2005

IBM Taking Rational Software Toward Open Source

From TechWeb:

IBM is submitting a good amount of its Rational software process platform and related material to the Eclipse Foundation, the first step toward open-sourcing that material.


Specifically, the company is donating the meta model for describing development processes, the tools for customizing and creating processes, and a portion of the Rational Unified Process (RUP), said Roger Oberg, vice president of IBM's Rational group, based in Lexington, Mass.

The move is the latest in a series of contributions that IBM has made to Eclipse, an organization it helped found, as well as to Sourceforge.net, Apache.org and other open-source efforts.

The Eclipse Foundation will review, accept or modify IBM’s latest submission, and in all likelihood the foundation will release an Eclipse process framework sometime next year, Oberg told CRN on Tuesday. "Rational created what many thought of as the de facto standard for development, but you had to use Rational tools. We did all the authoring, and although we solicited best practices [from outside] we were the control point for the tooling, framework and content," he said....

So Much for Anonymous Copying

From AP:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation says it has cracked the tracking codes embedded in Xerox Corp.'s DocuColor color laser printers. Such codes are just one way that manufacturers employ technology to help governments fight currency counterfeiting....

Researchers found patterns of yellow dots arranged in 15 by 8 grids and printed repeatedly over every color page, said Seth Schoen, a staff technologist at the San Francisco-based civil-liberties group.

The dots are visible only with a magnifying glass or under blue light, which causes the yellow dots to appear black....

At the Secret Service, which helps develop such technologies with other government agencies and industry, spokesman Eric Zahren said the tools are designed "simply to make it more difficult to utilize that equipment for the illegal activity of reproducing genuine U.S. currency."

"They do not in any way track the use of a personal computer or a person's computer's hardware or software," he added, refusing to elaborate on the technologies.

But Schoen said much can be gleaned from the printouts alone.

Consider two documents, one carrying the author's name and one meant to be anonymous. By comparing the codes, it can be determined whether the two documents came from the same printer, even if Xerox reveals nothing about a customer's serial number, Schoen said....

Adobe Systems Inc. has acknowledged quietly adding the government software to its Photoshop software at the request of regulators and international bankers.

I guess you could say they're not employing a Steamroller approach

From heise online:

Through a "gentle" Linux migration the city of Mannheim in southern Germany is aiming to become "fit for the future." Although the go-ahead was already given last year, when requirements were assessed and scenarios discussed, it is only now that the migration of basic services has entered its final phase. In the current quarter the Oracle Collaboration Suite is to be deployed and by the end of 2005 the migration to Linux of all registration, file-management, and printing services is to be completed. This implied that by the end of the year 1,100 network printers would in all likelihood be managed via a central print server, the administration of the city of Mannheim declared.

It is in this city that a "gentle migration" approach is being tried -- in the course of which the basic infrastructure services such as the city administration's 110 servers are migrated first and it is only at the very end that the 3,700 PCs of the employees with their 150 different specialist software applications are switched to the new system. This helped to keep training expenditure at manageable levels and prevented staff from feeling overwhelmed by the requirements of the new system, the city administration noted. So far the administration's staff is still employing the Windows applications it has long been familiar with. The city however has already commissioned a study on the introduction of OpenOffice. It would probably take another four to five years before Linux appeared on the staff's PC desktops, Gerd Armbruster of Mannheim city's IT department told heise online.

Mannheim was the first major German city to proceed along this path, he said. The rationale for Mannheim's approach was provided by the recommendations to rely more extensively on Open Source in the public sector given by Germany's Federal Ministry of the Interior and the European Union, Mr. Armbruster observed. The officials of Mannheim's city administration are inspired and guided in their endeavor in particular by the Migration Manual issued by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior.

As in the case of Munich, where the city administration was also migrating to Linux, Microsoft's decision in 2004 to end its support for the operating system Windows NT had been a major factor contributing to the outcome of the decision-making process, Mr. Armbruster pointed out. New investments in IT infrastructure would have been necessary in any case, he added. The technical partner to all phases of Mannheim's "gentle migration" is IBM.

Day is Done

[Oops, I did it again.]

Another Wi-Fi Cloud is in the Bidding Stage

From SiliconValley.com / Yahoo:

San Francisco officials released responses Friday from 17 companies -- including Web search giant Google -- that are interested in bringing affordable wireless Internet connections to the entire city.

Google has offered to build the network for free, as has fellow Mountain View company MetroFi. Google's eight-page response was heavy on company philosophy, but provided few details on the company's blueprint for a San Francisco wireless Internet, or WiFi, network.

The company hopes to work with San Diego-based WFI, which would provide network engineering and installation services. Google also hopes to leverage its skill at bringing ultra-targeted advertising to those who use its network....

MetroFi's proposal was far longer and outlined the details for how it would build a citywide WiFi network. The company operates similar networks in Cupertino and Santa Clara, and charges subscribers $19.95 a month for access.

In MetroFi's proposal for San Francisco, residents and businesses could connect to the Internet for free if they agreed to keep a small advertising window open on their computers. Otherwise, customers would pay $14.95 a month for a 1-mps connection. One megabit equals 1,000 kilobits....

City officials said they expected to make a decision by the end of the month on whether to launch a formal request for proposals or to enter into direct negotiations with a company....

So much for a wi-fi free San Francisco... :)

Biggest Wi-Fi Cloud is in Rural Oregon

Perhaps wi-fi will survive after all:

HERMISTON, Ore. - Parked alongside his onion fields, Bob Hale can prop open a laptop and read his e-mail or, with just a keystroke, check the moisture of his crops.

As the jack rabbits run by, he can watch CNN online, play a video game or turn his irrigation sprinklers on and off, all from the air conditioned comfort of his truck.

While cities around the country are battling over plans to offer free or cheap Internet access, this lonely terrain is served by what is billed as the world's largest hotspot, a wireless cloud that stretches over 700 square miles of landscape....

But here among the thistle, large providers such as local phone company Qwest Communications International Inc. see little profit potential. So wireless entrepreneur Fred Ziari drew no resistance for his proposed wireless network, enabling him to quickly build the $5 million cloud at his own expense.

While his service is free to the general public, Ziari is recovering the investment through contracts with more than 30 city and county agencies, as well as big farms such as Hale's, whose onion empire supplies over two-thirds of the red onions used by the Subway sandwich chain. Morrow County, for instance, pays $180,000 a year for Ziari's service.

Each client, he said, pays not only for yearly access to the cloud but also for specialized applications such as a program that allows local officials to check parking meters remotely.

"Internet service is only a small part of it. The same wireless system is used for surveillance, for intelligent traffic system, for intelligent transportation, for telemedicine and for distance education," said Ziari, who immigrated to the United States from the tiny Iranian town of Shahi on the Caspian Sea....

Even as the number of Wi-Fi hotspots continues to mushroom, with 72,140 now registered globally, only a handful of cities have managed to blanket their entire urban core with wireless Internet access.

Hundreds of cities from San Francisco to Philadelphia have announced plans to throw a wireless tarp over their communities, and a few smaller ones such as Chaska, Minn., have succeeded. But only Ziari appears to have pinned down such a large area.

The wireless network uses both short-range Wi-Fi signals and a version of a related, longer-range technology known as WiMax. While Wi-Fi and WiMax antennas typically connect with the Internet over a physical cable, the transmitters in this network act as wireless relay points, passing the signal along through a technique known as "meshing."

Ziara's company built the towers to match the topography. They are as close as a quarter-of-a-mile apart inside towns like Hermiston, and as far apart as several miles in the high-desert wilderness....

The high desert around Hermiston also happens to be the home of one of the nation's largest stockpiles of Cold War-era chemical weapons. Under federal guidelines, local government officials were required to devise an emergency evacuation plan for the accidental release of nerve and mustard agents.

Now, emergency responders in the three counties surrounding the Umatilla Chemical Depot are equipped with laptop computers that are Wi-Fi ready. These laptops are set up to detail the size and direction of a potential chemical leak, enabling responders to direct evacuees from the field. Traffic lights and billboards posting evacuation messages can also be controlled remotely over the wireless network....

And for the Hermiston Police Department, having squad cars equipped with a wireless laptop means officers can work less overtime by being able to file their crime reports from the field.

While the network was initially set up for the benefit of city and county officials, it's the area's businesses that stand to gain the most, say industry experts.

For the Columbia River Port of Umatilla, one of the largest grain ports in the nation, the wireless network is being used to set up a high-tech security perimeter that will scan bar codes on incoming cargo....

Unfortunately, Pete Townshend Did Not Use The Information Services of Health Canada

From Health Canada:

Personal stereo systems offer a convenient way to listen to music in public without disturbing others. A typical system combines a portable cassette, compact disc player, or radio, with headphones or earphones. Scientific studies suggest that these devices may cause hearing loss if they are not used with a degree of caution....

Sounds with levels below 70 dBA pose no known risk of hearing loss, no matter how long they last. If you listen to music at 70 dBA, the sound level is about the same as what you experience while driving a four-door family car on the highway with the windows closed.

For sound levels higher than 70 dBA, the duration of daily exposure becomes an important risk factor. For example, sounds with levels of 85 dBA pose no known risk of hearing loss if you are exposed for no longer than 45 minutes per day. However, sound levels of 85 dBA or higher can pose a significant risk of permanent hearing loss, if you are exposed for eight hours per day....

Officials have reviewed scientific literature on personal stereo systems, and have conducted tests to assess their potential to cause hearing loss. These tests measured the sound levels generated at maximum volume settings using a variety of headphones/earphones, and portable compact disc (CD) players. The music selected for the tests included pop songs from the "top ten" charts, and heavy metal tracks.

The findings:

All combinations of headphones/earphones and CD players could generate potentially harmful sound levels

Pop music sound levels ranged from 86 to 102 dBA when researchers used the headphones that came packaged with the CD player. When researchers combined CD players with headphones purchased separately, the sound levels reached 114 dBA - test results also suggested that this was not necessarily the limit

If you played the pre-packaged systems at maximum volume, it would take from 12 minutes (at 102 dBA) to seven hours (at 86 dBA) to exceed the occupational noise limit noted above. Furthermore, you would exceed the limit in just one minute if you played heavy metal or pop music at full volume on the combination CD / headphone system that produced sound levels of 114 dBA. At this sound level, exposure for longer durations can pose a risk of immediate, serious and permanent hearing loss.

Another key finding was that sound levels from earbuds vary significantly from person to person, because the level depends on how well the "buds" fit into your ears. Tight-fitting earbuds tend to produce higher sound levels than other commercially available headphones....

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What if I just have a broken leg?

From Reuters/Yahoo:

Finnish scientists have invented a device to make it harder to steal mobile phones and laptops by enabling them to detect changes in their owner's walking style and then freeze to prevent unauthorized use.

The VTT Technical Research Center of Finland said the device, which is has patented but has yet to sell, could prevent millions of portable appliances being stolen every year.

"A device is equipped with sensors that measure certain characteristics of the user's gait. When the device is used for the first time, these measurements are saved in its memory," VTT said in a statement.

The gadget would monitor the user's walking style and check it against the saved information. If the values differ, the user would have to enter a password.

"Compared with passwords and traditional bio-identification, the new method is simple: confirmation of identity takes place as a background process without any need for user's intervention," the researchers said.

However, even if you assume that the same person carries the phone at all times and doesn't let others borrow it, how accurate is gait identification?

Variation because of tiredness, age and health (eg arthritis, a twisted ankle or prosthetic limb), bad footwear and carrying objects may also degrade confidence in results.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


What does this mean? Take www.cgmp.com:

Current Good Manufacturing Practices

Good Manufacturing Practice regulations (GMPs) are used by pharmaceutical, medical device, and food manufacturers as they produce and test products that people use. Drug GMPs also apply to the veterinary drugs.

In the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued these regulations as the minimum requirements. This site helps you access the GMP regulations called current Good Manufacturing Practices and provides a special emphasis on the drug cGMPs.

Most countries have their own GMPs for drug and medical device manufacturers. Those published on the Web, and of which we are aware, have links from this site.

But it is the singular or the plural? The FDA thinks it's one singular regulation.

Code of Federal Regulations

The Current Codified CGMP Regulations 21 CFR, Parts 210 and 211

In-Process Changes to the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) Regulations

Federal Register Notice Proposed Rule, Proposed Changes to the CGMP Regulations about Validation, Out-of-Specification Findings, etc. (5/3/96)
Federal Register Notice Final Rule, Partial, Extension of Compliance Date, (7/29/97); or Acrobat Version
Federal Register Notice Proposed Rule, Revision of Certain Labeling Controls (7/29/97); or Acrobat Version

Or maybe it doesn't have anything to do with drug manufacturing - perhaps they're talking about Cyclic Nucleotide Metabolism-cGMP.

Of course, Cisco people think about the Cisco Group Management Protocol.

So what do you do if you assemble information about the Current Good Manufacturing Practices for Cyclic Nucleotide Metabolism, and transmit this information using the Cisco Group Management Protocol?

Cubular, man.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Privacy and Technology

It's no surprise that the United States is not leading the world in the adoption of biometric technologies at banks - we Americans just got this privacy thang in our heads - but guess which country is leading? Surprise:

Colombia is one of the few places in the world where banks are using fingerprint biometrics, which verify people's identities based on their unique physical characteristics.

Scanning fingerprints or irises to verify an ATM customer's identity has yet to penetrate the U.S. banking market because of concerns about expense and privacy....

However, companies that make automated teller machines have found budding markets for the fingerprint technology in South America, where citizens already are accustomed to the use of fingerprints for general identification, such as ID cards they carry.

Diebold Inc. of North Canton, Ohio, has supplied fingerprint-capable ATMs to a bank in Chile that is using them in a pilot project. Last year Dayton, Ohio-based NCR Corp. installed 400 of them in Colombia.

BanCafe, Colombia's fifth-largest bank, bought the ATMs at the end of 2002 for added security for coffee growers and to get them to open accounts. The growers wouldn't need to carry ATM cards, which can be a lure for thieves.

Ricardo Prieto, who was vice president for system operations at BanCafe when the system was installed, said that at first ATMs failed to recognize fingerprints on the well-worn hands of some elderly customers and laborers such as construction workers.

He said the ATM imaging was improved, and the number of customers whose fingerprints couldn't be read fell from 30 percent to 8 percent.

About 230,000 of BanCafe's 1 million customers registered to use the fingerprint ATMs, which account for about 15 percent of the bank's total transactions....

About 350 banks in North America are using Diebold's hand geometry systems to clear customers into vaults so they can open their safe-deposit boxes. At Zions First National Bank in Salt Lake City and South Carolina Federal Credit Union, users place their hands on a screen, which reads the width of the palm, length of the fingers and other points of the hand.

Last year, Suruga Bank Ltd. in Japan began using ATMs that allow customers to access their accounts by holding their palms up to machines that read the pattern of blood vessels....

Systems that scan the iris of the eye are being used at airports in Canada and the Netherlands to check passengers going through customs and at border points in the United Arab Emirates to identify people trying to enter the country with fake work visas. Biometrics are also being used in U.S. airports as part of the "Registered Traveler" program for prescreened flyers....

Connie Steele doesn't believe the technology would add that much more security to the card-and-PIN system.

"If I'm a thief and I've got the card, I still don't have your PIN number, so how could they use it?" said Steele, 57, of West Milton, Ohio....

Monday, October 10, 2005

Never trust anyone over thirty

Guess who hit the magic number?

As Microsoft hits 30, critics reel off a list of complaints that sounds like, well, a Microsoft commercial: stifling bureaucracy, frustrating miscommunication, different units working on overlapping technology without adequate cooperation. In short, the very ills Microsoft promises to cure with its software....

Of course, no one would argue that the company co-founded by Bill Gates is in dire straits. Microsoft continues to earn billions from its flagship Windows and Office products, and the company is steadily making inroads in markets including mobile phones, video game consoles and server software.

But it isn't just Google and Yahoo that should worry Microsoft.

It's also up-and-comers big and small that offer products as Internet-based services. Salesforce.com, which manages customer relations, is a big one. Writely and gOffice, which provide Web-based word processing, and e-mail application Zimbra are among the small....

This month, Microsoft begins U.S. testing of its own system for selling sponsored links next to its regular search results, which are based on a formula that ranks Web pages according to such factors as relevance.

Microsoft currently outsources that job to Yahoo, which has a contract with Microsoft through June 2006....

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Integrating musical information into blog posts

Followup from here. The information below is dated 2003, but I am not trendy so that's OK. Don't know if the referenced plug-in works with Windows Media Player 10, which I use.

Part of the new Windows Media Player 9 Series Fun Pack is the Blogging plug-in. The Blogging plug-in is designed to make it easier for you to add information to your blog entry about the song currently playing on your computer. Posting the name of the song and artist that you're listening to is a great way to share your mood with your friends, family, and audience....

To use the Blogging plug-in, you must download and install it and you must have a compatible blog client application and blog host service....

The Blogging plug-in builds upon the new plug-in feature of Windows Media Player 9 Series by making it easier for third-party programs to identify the currently playing song. The plug-in operates in the background and has no user interface. You'll notice it's working by seeing the currently-playing song information displayed in the title bar of the Player. This can be useful in itself, even if you don't publish a blog....

Using the Blogging plug-in, you can make the following information about your music available:

• Current Album

• Current Author

• Duration of Song

• Title of Song

• Name of File

A wide range of Windows XP-compatible applications that work with the different services allow you to author and post blog entries....This list [w.bloggar, Semagic, LiveJournal Client for Windows] includes blog programs that are known to be compatible with the plug-in at the time of this column; other blog programs may also be compatible....

Friday, October 07, 2005

A Ladytron Post in the Technoblog

Yes, a true post about Ladytron, not just a song reference. I just ran across this old interview with Daniel Hunt, in which he was discussing the band's favorite equipment in the "Light & Magic" time period.

What are your favorite pieces of electronic musical equipment, and which do you think has the greatest effect on your sound and/or approach to composing music?

I love my Roland SH09, it's all over the record. Mira loves her Korg MS20, Reuben loves his Korg MS10, But we record on a PowerMac, which has to be the most important item of kit actually. Steve Jobs gets a thank you on our album.

And, of course, Ladytron isn't the only person using a Macintosh in recording. Take Moby (circa 2002):

The only fully separate room is Moby's recording studio, a fastidiously organized, double-walled space filled with winking LEDs, racks of keyboards, and a pair of Macintosh computers - a G3 and a G4 - on which he composed 18. The G3 runs the dozens of MIDI keyboards, samplers, and drum machines lined up on the studio's custom-built shelving. The new G4 records and manipulates vocals and live instruments (Pro Tools, the Word of the music-production world, is his basic software).

Of course, the one thing about accessibility is its accessibility. Anyone can use the Macintosh to record. Most of the songs that I released on mp3.com in the last millennium were assembled on a Macintosh. (For the record, the only mp3 that is still available online, "Non Sequitur 15," was recorded on a Windows ME computer.)

Soft Power

this is an audio post - click to play

[OE NOTE: If you're looking for Ladytron posts, look here.]

What is is, and what it isn't - notes from the MSB

MSB stands for mainstream bloggers, by the way.

You'll recall that I wrote the following a few days ago regarding the Google-Sun announcement:

So, for all the hoopla, all that's guaranteed is that Google users can get JRE, and Sun users can get a toolbar.


C/NET reports similar views elsewhere:

After much brouhaha leading up to Tuesday's announcement of a new Sun Microsystems and Google partnership, many bloggers were left scratching their heads at a press event they considered anticlimactic....

[F]ar from what many had hoped for--an online application meant to rival Microsoft Office--the two companies announced simply that they would collaborate on work on Sun's OpenOffice.org, Java and OpenSolaris, and Google's Toolbar. Details about what exactly that will entail were vague at best, with the only nugget offered being that Sun, in the immediate future, will make Google's toolbar a standard part of the package when users download Sun's Java Runtime Environment from the server seller's Web site....

C/NET then quotes several bloggers. Rough Type (Nicholas Carr) summed up the post-announcment mood as follows:

I'm at this very moment looking at two headlines in an AP news feed and trying to figure out which one is more banal:

Sun, Google in Software Distribution Pact


Pamela Anderson Gets Restraining Order

Carr links to Dana Gardner, who sees some future potential, but not a lot at present:

As Mel Brooks once said, "It's good to be the king." And with Google firmly on the top of the IT zeitgeist hill, and Sun Microsystems sort of feverishly building fortifications and levees in the meadows below, Google is in a great position to co-opt … err, I mean, partner with Sun. What's Sun gonna do, tell him to get in line behind Microsoft?...

Yes, the trenchant announcement today that those folks who soon download Sun's latest JVM for their local runtime pleasure will also get a free Google browser toolbar (it's like you get the Ginsu knives free after paying $20 for the spatula) must be Sun's way of saving face. Wouldn't it make more sense to give a shiny new JVM to everyone that downloads a Google tool bar? Certainly IE on Windows clients....

Sun's strengths and Google's interests do align really well, on the back end and the client. The competitive landscape also suits Sun and Google pairing up where it makes sense, and it makes a lot of cents. What's good for Sun and Google is not so good for Microsoft, Intel, IBM, BEA, and HP. Yet it won't really upset the field of play for SAP, Oracle, and Salesforce.com-anche....

Now, who needs to worry most about Sun and Google making happy-face? I say it's the voice and data networks providers, the Verizons, Sprints, SBCs, BTs, MCIs, BellSouths, and France Telecoms. Because if Sun+Google=Voice and Data Efficiencies as a service stream, aka Webtone, par excellence, on a global scale, then who are you gonna call when you need business services?

Microsoft. Security.

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Microsoft Corp. is gearing up to release a subscription service that will make it easier for network technicians at big businesses to make sure computers don't fall prey to spyware or virus attacks.

The world's largest software maker said Thursday it will release a test version of the service by the end of the year.

Scott Stanzel, senior product manager in Microsoft's security technology unit, said Client Protection, as the company is calling it, will be similar to Windows OneCare, an all-in-one service the company is working on to bolster security for personal computers.

The Redmond, Wash., company has not said how much the service will cost or when it will be available in final form....

From zdnet:

The eagerly anticipated news from Microsoft came today from CEO Steve Ballmer and VP of Security Technology Unit Mike Nash in Munich, Germany. The announcements included plans to release Microsoft® Client Protection, an enterprise solution for businesses that protects company networks and servers from malware threats. Microsoft also announced the creation of SecureIT Alliance, to "further enable participating security partners to efficiently integrate their solutions with the Microsoft platform to build new security features and products for the benefit of their common customers."...

Plans were also announced to release Microsoft's new Antigen application, an integrated anti-spam and anti-virus for messaging and collaboration servers based on technology from Sybari, a recent Microsoft acquisition. Microsoft Antigen for Exchange is anticipated to be available in beta in the first half of 2006....

And Symantec has demanded an investigation:

Symantec has responded to the disclosure of Microsoft Client Protection by appealing to EU antitrust regulators to consider whether or not another case against Microsoft is warranted, IDG reports.

Microsoft announced its Client Protection package, a combination of anti-spyware and antivirus technologies, is in development. The product integrates a couple of Microsoft acquisitions, GIANT AntiSpyware and Sybari, into what the company hopes will be a single security solution for businesses.

That package will also be included in the forthcoming release of Microsoft's next operating system, Windows Vista. Its inclusion could be viewed as monopolistic, and the EU's European Commission has asked for more information from Symantec.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


buyusa.gov briefly explains what WEEE and RoHS are, and why suppliers need to be concerned about them.

From August 2005, companies selling a broad range of electrical goods in Europe will need to conform to WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive) and as of July 2006, those same companies will also need to conform to RoHS (Restriction of Use of certain Hazardous Substances Directive).

The European Commission has a more detailed explanation:

Directives 2002/95/EC on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment and 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment are designed to tackle the fast increasing waste stream of electrical and electronic equipment and complements European Union measures on landfill and incineration of waste. Increased recycling of electrical and electronic equipment will limit the total quantity of waste going to final disposal. Producers will be responsible for taking back and recycling electrical and electronic equipment. This will provide incentives to design electrical and electronic equipment in an environmentally more efficient way, which takes waste management aspects fully into account. Consumers will be able to return their equipment free of charge. In order to prevent the generation of hazardous waste, Directive 2002/95/EC requires the substitution of various heavy metals (lead, mecury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium) and brominated flame retardants (polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE)) in new electrical and electronic equipment put on the market from 1 July 2006.

Here's what Hewlett Packard has to say about WEEE:

Governments, customers and the public are increasingly interested in the proper disposal of used electronics. The European Union (EU) has developed the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive to ensure that systems for collection, treatment and recycling of electronic waste will be in place throughout the European Union. While the WEEE Directive applies to most of HP’s products, it does not apply to parts, assemblies or consumables such as inkjet or LaserJet cartridges.

Throughout the European Union, national legislation is being developed to implement this Directive. Some countries in Europe have national WEEE-type legislation in place for several years, others are currently implementing the Directive and the rest will follow. HP expects that all WEEE legislation in Europe will be agreed by the end of 2006....

Product recycling is nothing new to HP and HP has participated in the development of the WEEE Directive at all stages of the legislative process both at EU and member state level. HP is now contributing to the implementation process in each member state where the company has a presence. HP will comply with the provisions of the WEEE Directive and national implementing legislation....

HP has recycled computer and printer hardware since 1987. HP's Planet Partners recycling service provides an easy way to recycle any brand of computer equipment and is available in 36 countries.

And here's what they say about RoHS:

HP is committed to compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including the European Union Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive. HP’s goal is to exceed compliance obligations by meeting the requirements of the RoHS Directive on a worldwide basis. Our company-wide RoHS Team, which includes representatives from all affected HP businesses and organizational functions, leads our global transition efforts. After completing extensive compliance planning and development work in 2003, the RoHS Team continued to work with suppliers in 2004 to guarantee a smooth global transition.

In 2004, we shipped our first HP products containing RoHS-compliant components. To speed our overall transition efforts, we focused on converting families of component parts as opposed to single products or platforms. We will continue to ship numerous products with a majority of compliant components while complete product lines are being transitioned. Our first fully RoHS-compliant products, the HP PhotoSmart R717, HP PhotoSmart M417 and HP PhotoSmart M22 digital cameras, will ship in early 2005....

As originally written, the EU RoHS Directive did not clearly define how to measure acceptable levels of restricted materials. Hexavalent chromium (Cr-VI), a RoHS-restricted compound (0.1% by weight allowed) that is commonly used as a protective coating for metals, presents one example of the implications.
HP took a conservative approach and assumed that use of this compound in coatings and platings on electronic parts would be subject to RoHS. However, many suppliers assumed that the acceptable level would be measured instead as a percentage of the weight of the coated component, allowing the use of restricted materials in thin coatings. These differing views created confusion, and consequently many suppliers delayed making changes to comply with RoHS. In 2004, legislators clarified that RoHS-restricted materials would be evaluated at the material level (e.g. coatings and platings).

A related challenge is that legislation is not harmonized across industries. For example, since the auto industry is the largest user of steel, many steel suppliers are working towards compliance with the EU End of Life Vehicle (ELV) Directive that requires Cr-VI elimination in auto manufacturing as of July 1, 2007 – one year after the RoHS compliance date. The electronics industry buys a small fraction of the total coated steel produced and therefore has little leverage with suppliers to drive an earlier transition. In an attempt to harmonize legislation across industries, HP worked with others in the industry to request a one-year exemption from the restriction of Cr-VI for electronics manufacturers. HP is working with the industry to find practical alternatives to Cr-VI coatings by sharing test results and establishing common specifications.

Goal for 2005

Eliminate lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium in 50% of electronic products sold worldwide, as defined by the EU’s RoHS Directive (PBB and PBDE are not used in HP products).

Goal for 2006

Eliminate lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium in 100% of electronic products sold worldwide, as defined by the EU’s RoHS Directive.

Here is what Cisco says:

Legislative and environmental factors combined with the competitive drive to implement the latest technology present many companies with the challenge of managing technology surpluses. Cisco offers customers the Takeback and Recycle program to properly dispose of surplus products and products that have reached their end of life.

Equipment that is returned to Cisco through this program is disposed of in an environmentally safe manner using processes that comply with the WEEE (EU Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment to be compliant by August 13, 2005) regulations, all EPA guidelines, and U.S. environmental laws at all levels of government. All Cisco branded products are accepted under the program, and on an "as requested" basis, Cisco works with customers to dispose of competitor or other IT products....

Cisco Systems is collaborating with industry peers and suppliers to comply with the European Union Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment ("RoHS") Directive, taking effect July 1, 2006. The RoHS directive prohibits sale of electronic equipment containing certain hazardous substances such as; lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls ("PBB") and polybrominated diphenylethers ("PBDE"), in the European Union. Cisco has a program in place to ensure that Cisco's products satisfy the RoHS Directive with respect to the various categories of electronic products. Cisco is committed to fully comply with the RoHS Directive on or before July 1, 2006....

pb-free.info has identified an interesting exception:

The RoHS Directive does not contain its own list of equipment that must comply with its requirements. Instead, it takes its scope from annex 1 of the associated WEEE Directive. RoHS does, however, maintain its own a list of exemptions within its annex. However, there are a few anomalies to this basic assumption. For example, military applications are absent from the scope of both Directives. In this instance, article 2.3 of WEEE states that equipment connected with national security or purely military purposes is excluded from WEEE. No such reference is made in the RoHS Directive, but the Commission considers that RoHS is broadly reflected in WEEE, and as such this exemption applies to both Directives.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

It's just the second letter of the Greek alphabet

I was reading this article:

Google Inc. is combining its popular online maps with its local search features, continuing a quest to increase its already rapidly rising advertising revenue.

The new features are expected to be available Thursday at either http://maps.google.com and http://local.google.com....

"Wait a minute," I thought. "They already did that." I read further:

With the change, Google's local search tools for the United States and Canada are being taken out of the "beta," or testing, phase, said Bret Taylor, the product's manager. The company's local search engines for the United Kingdom, Japan and China remain in beta — a label that technology companies attach to products that don't have all the bugs worked out....

Google is notorious for labeling half of its services as "beta" - last I checked Google Mail was still technically in beta mode. But as of early 2004, Jeremy Zawodny thought that Google's "beta" tag was entirely appropriate:

Let's say you want to use Google's new local search to find Badminton related places in zipcode 94089....

Let's see. Result #1 is good. Badminton Alley sound like just what I might expect to find. Result #2 is "Sociedad Cervantes Espanola." Hmm.

But wait. It gets better!

Result #3 is Kit Kat Club, a strip club. A nudie bar. That sort of thing. Al Bundy would be proud, I'm sure. And result #4 is for a railroad club. Result #5 is for an American Legion Post.

And so on down the list....

So I tried the same search today, in October 2005. Results were much better:

Din Tang Badminton
1375 Geneva Dr, Sunnyvale, CA
(408) 541-1837

Badminton Alley
1237 S Mary Ave, Sunnyvale, CA
(408) 746-0646

Din Tang Badminton
1600 N Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View, CA
(650) 938-6099

United Badminton Club
Fremont, CA
(510) 656-2582

Badminton Alley
San Jose, CA
(408) 281-7818

Badminton Alley
San Jose, CA
(408) 281-7818

Mission College Learning Svc
3000 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, CA
(408) 867-2200
Mission College Women's Bad...
... 5367 Mission College 3000 Mission College Blvd. Santa Clara, CA 95054 Mission College Athletics, 1999-2004.

Cal Badminton Club
Unverified listing
2412 Ellsworth St, Berkeley, CA
(510) 665-5508

Bank of America
444 S Mathilda Ave, Sunnyvale, CA
(408) 991-8300
Badminton Alley Store - Pro...
... easy to adapt and play with which is good for any beginners and intermediate players that are serious in playing badminton. ...

Sunnyvale Community Players
550 E Remington Dr, Sunnyvale, CA
(408) 733-6611
Play Badminton in San Franc...
... Play Badminton in SF & the Bay Area. Find your places open gym to play badminton in San Francisco and the Bay Area, US. ...

What? No nudie bars?

But at least you can search for local information about "ontario emperor" near Washington, DC.

If you're not going to hate Bill Gates, you might as well hate Steve Jobs

Tim Hibbard links to the following:

(Wells' Blog)

I'm perfectly willing to forget about qttask.exe. I mean nowadays it comes with no surprise when a program adds itself to the startup, and keeps adding itself to the startup even when you have deleted it and explicitly told it not to add itself to the startup....

(One Stack Mind)

I hate Quicktime (which, as I understand it, has been integrated into iTunes). I hate Quicktime so much, in fact, that I decided to get a non-iPod MP3 player. I’d never been a big fan of the software, but the more recent releases seem to want to take over everything on my computer, and most of the time, if something looks interesting, but is presented in Quicktime, I’ll pass over it....


If you like Apple, fine...if you don't care about a lot of options and would prefer to have Apple choose everything for you, fine. I will admit the iPod is a nice MP3 player, and for the moment, I wouldn't mind owning the "top of the line" PowerBook or dual proc G5. However, I don't like people/companies dictating to me what I want.
I hate QuickTime, always have and always will. I don't like the pop-ups everytime I click on a QT link. Yeah, I know there are hacks on the Internet, but let's be honest...People expect a secure Windows OS and I expect no pop-ups from web applications. I don't get them w/Flash, so why should I accept it from Apple's QT?
If people say that I need to stop bitching and do the hack, then I say shut the fuck up about Window's security, because there are hacks and programs to fix that too.
From this day forward, I won't ever buy an iPod and I DEFINITELY won't let QuickTime grace my computer again. I don't like to be forced to do anything, especially by Apple or Microsoft. You want a lot of people to see your shit, then get with the rest of the world and use MPEG or AVI. If you want to be a pseudo-rebel, then keep on, because not everyone will see your shit, and I know for a fact that I'm not the only person who hates QuickTime. If you have a hard time conceptualizing this, then you belong on a Mac and you deserve to have just the few stupid people willing to see your stuff. Outside Apple's world there are other innovations that Apple, like Microsoft, copies. The key word here is copies, more people are using the original.

Well, while there are other people (such as muse_madness and Aquarius) who hate Quicktime for other reasons, Tim Hibbard suggests a solution for the three people quoted above - QuickTime Killer.

This application is intended for people that use or consume Sprint Video Mail, as Sprint uses QuickTime for viewing thier movies. (or anybody that hates QuickTime) Of course, as soon as QuickTime is ran, it adds itself to startup, which is very annoying to me. This application will remove QuickTime from start up and kill any running QuickTime processes. This application runs silently at start up and closes itself as soon as it takes care of QuickTime.

I've never had a religious antipathy towards QuickTime...it's just RealPlayer that drives me up the wall.

Outbound spam filtering is necessary

Richi'Blog points out something that might not be apparent to all of us. An excerpt:

If a PC in your organization gets infected with malware -- such as a remote-access Trojan -- it may become a spam zombie. This means that it will send spam under the remote control of a spammer....If the recipients of the spam track down the source of these spam messages, they won't reach the spammer -- they'll reach you....

To protect itself, Microsoft implemented outbound spam filtering for its consumer mail services.

As part of its efforts to stop spam, Microsoft in the coming months plans to apply spam filters not only to incoming mail on its Hotmail and MSN services, but also to outbound mail. The filtering will kick in when users send a large number of messages and is intended to help stop abuse of Microsoft's services by senders of spam....

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

What it is, and what it isn't

Sourced from Google:

Sun and Google Expand Technology Reach And Global Opportunity
Multi-year, Strategic Agreement Promotes Java Technology and Google Toolbar

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - October 4, 2005 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced an agreement to promote and distribute their software technologies to millions of users around the world. The agreement aims to make it easier for users to freely obtain Sun's Java™ Runtime Environment (JRE), the Google Toolbar and the OpenOffice.org office productivity suite, helping millions of users worldwide to participate in the next wave of Internet growth.

Under the agreement, Sun will include the Google Toolbar as an option in its consumer downloads of the Java Runtime Environment on http://java.com. In addition, the companies have agreed to explore opportunities to promote and enhance Sun technologies, like the Java Runtime Environment and the OpenOffice.org productivity suite available at http://www.openoffice.org.

"As a leader in free and open source software, Sun has long recognized that network innovation is vital to the evolution of the global economy," said Scott McNealy, chief executive officer, Sun Microsystems. "Working with Google will make our technologies available more broadly, increase options for users, lower barriers and expand participation worldwide. Free and open source technologies, such as OpenOffice.org, OpenSolaris and Java, have never been safer or offered more choices."

"Google and Java are two of the most widely recognized technology brands because they provide users with online tools that enhance their lives on a day to day basis. The Google Toolbar offers useful Internet search services while Java enables richer interactive content. We look forward to exploring other related areas of collaboration," said Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google.

About the Java Software for the Desktop
The Java software for the desktop, also known as the Java Runtime Environment (JRE), is a software package that needs to be installed on a machine in order to run Java technology-based applications. Over 700 million desktop users leverage Java technology today to have a more interactive experience on the web. Users can download the latest version of the Java software for the desktop for free at java.com, and test drive the hottest Java technology-based games and applications.

About the Google Toolbar
The Google Toolbar is a powerful search and web surfing utility that seamlessly integrates with users' web browsers. It's available in 34 international languages and supports a built-in word translation that translates English words into other languages. The Google Toolbar is scheduled to be available as a Java Runtime Environment download option in late October.

About Google Inc.
Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major global markets. Google's targeted advertising program provides businesses of all sizes with measurable results, while enhancing the overall web experience for users. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit www.google.com.

About Sun Microsystems, Inc.
A singular vision – "The Network Is The Computer" – guides Sun in the development of technologies that power the world's most important markets. Sun's philosophy of sharing innovation and building communities is at the forefront of the next wave of computing: the Participation Age. Sun can be found in more than 100 countries and on the Web at http://sun.com.

About OpenOffice.org
OpenOffice.org is an open-source project, home of the OpenOffice.org software, the most widely distributed open-source multi-platform productivity suite. The OpenOffice.org community was founded by Sun Microsystems in 2000. An active community, of which Sun is a key member, enhances and supports the OpenOffice.org office suite.

About OpenSolaris
Sun has open sourced the Solaris Operating System, now available at: http://www.opensolaris.org. The OpenSolaris project is a community development effort and a place for collaboration about OpenSolaris technology. Future versions of Solaris – the most advanced operating system on the planet – will be based on technology develop by the OpenSolaris project.


Now before you conclude that Bill Gates is about to hit the poorhouse, read it a little more carefully. For example:

"The Google Toolbar offers useful Internet search services while Java enables richer interactive content. We look forward to exploring other related areas of collaboration," said Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google.

Note that Schmidt did not - I repeat, did not - mention OpenOffice distribution as a done deal.

So, for all the hoopla, all that's guaranteed is that Google users can get JRE, and Sun users can get a toolbar.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Sorry, 23 is not 27

[OE: The original text of this post has been deleted. It was supposed to be posted in the Ontario Empoblog, but I mistakenly posted it in the Ontario Technoblog. I was trying to come up with a technological justification for memes, but I couldn't. If you're dying to see the original text, go here.]

Malware history

From InfoWorld. This is just a small portion of the history.

“I’m the creeper! Catch me if you can!” taunted a rogue program called Creeper, written by Bob Thomas, of the BBN (Bulletin Board Network), in 1971. His creation has the dubious honor of being the first worm that spread through many of the early global networks.

The first malicious computer programs surfaced as generalized computing in the 1960s with online games called Life and Core Wars. They were essentially executable environments where each user’s programming instructions tried to live as long as possible before being killed off by someone else’s program.

Fast forward to 1982, when Richard Skrenta, a ninth-grade high school student from Pittsburgh, Pa., wrote the first PC-based virus, a 400-line Apple II boot program called Elk Cloner. Several other computer worms followed, and the Apple computer became the platform of choice for virus writers.

It wasnt until 1986 that the Pakistani Brain boot virus became the first malware program capable of infecting IBM-compatible PCs. It only spread on 360K floppy diskettes, but it had stealth features. Like Elk Cloner, it spread around the world.

In 1988, the Morris worm became the first malware program to spread across the Internet. It used a collection of documented flaws in Unix to do its work and eventually infected 60,000 computers. By the end of 1989, there were 56 viruses thriving on the PC/DOS platform alone....

Here's a story about Skrenta, circa 1985:

"Hey Skrenta," they used to say in the high school computer lab. "Have any new games this week?"

But that was back in Pittsburgh and before CAS freshman Richard Skrenta became mildly famous for his programming mischief. Now his "games" are not taken so lightly.

Time Magazine found out about Skrenta's work and included him in a story in its Nov. 4 issue. Back in March, he made his magazine debut in Scientific American.

All this fame for a program he wrote in the ninth grade.

"Some of my friends thought it was funny," said Skrenta. "Most of them hated it."

"Cloner" was Skrenta's baby. When a disk containing Cloner was inserted into the computer, a "virus" would wait inside the computer for another disk to be inserted. Then the contagious virus would attach itself to the new disk and have its fun....

None of the mischief that Cloner did was permanent. A quick flick of the on/off switch and a re-insertion of the disk would restore the program. The problem with Cloner lay in its name. Cloner would stay in the computer if it was not turned off, continuing to copy itself onto other disks.

There is no immunization yet against computer viruses. So before long, Skrenta, his friends and even one of his math teachers, discovered their disk libraries suffered from Skrenta's plague.

Skrenta didn't know just how his math teacher got a copy of Cloner on his disks. "He said if I would have been there (when he read the poem), he would have broken my neck," Skrenta said. "We were (friends) before that, but he didn't appreciate me much after."...

So what do you do after doing something like that? How about this:

Topix.net was founded in 2002 with the specific mission of providing users the ability to quickly and easily find targeted news on the Internet. With thousands of news sources continually releasing stories twenty-four hours a day, finding relevant news can often be a time consuming task. For complete coverage, users are forced to visit many different sites and sift through a variety of stories that may or may not be relevant to them. Topix.net alleviates this problem by creating thousands of topically driven, specific news web pages and populating each of those pages with only news about that particular topic. So, whether you are interested in finding all the news about your community, or your company or industry or perhaps even your favorite team or celebrity, Topix.net provides an intuitive, easy way to find the targeted news that is relevant to you....

The problems associated with cataloging the billions of pages available on the Internet are not new to the Topix.net team. Previously, several Topix.net founders created the Open Directory Project (originally called "NewHoo"), the first open development directory for the Internet, and now the largest human-edited web directory. This project is now a property of America Online and is the source from which many of the current web directories, including Google Directory, derive their information....