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August 30, 2005

Alleged subway wanker makes the NY Daily News

Cory Doctorow: The alleged subway wanker whose victim captured him on cameraphone and posted it to Flickr is on the cover of today's New York Daily News. Cover Link, Story Link (Thanks, B-!)

Posted by dymaxion at 12:16 AM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2005

Movie Windows Set To Shrink

: And high time they did...hopefully they'll have some trickle down effect for online movie service. Robert Iger, CEO-elect of Disney, recently suggested the day could come when a DVD is released while the movie is still in theaters...and of course, for studios, DVD is still the cash cow, despite doomsday prophecies circulating these days.
The gap between a movie's opening weekend in theaters and its debut on home video has been narrowing from about six months in 1994 to about four months in 2004.
"Why do we make the assumption that five months later people are still interested in your product?" said Todd Wagner, co-owner with Mark Cuban of 2929 Entertainment. "If I hear a song on the radio, they don't say, 'Five months from now you can buy the CD.'"

Posted by dymaxion at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

People Creeped Out By Competent AI; Drawn To Needy AI

There's a theory in the robotics world that if a robot is too lifelike it really creeps people out. They like life-like robots up to a point -- as long as they can tell they're still robots. Perhaps an extension of this concept is brought up by Clive Thompson in his latest piece for Wired News, where he talks about the addictive qualities of Nintendogs, the latest in a long line of Tamaguchi-like games that require you to take care of a virtual "pet." While others have chalked up the success of the game to the "cuteness" of the dogs, Thompson takes a different view. He thinks that people are simply drawn to artificial intelligence that's somehow "needy." While the predictions always said we'd have super smart, perfect-acting AI machines that would be our robotic servants, Thompson believes that (like the too perfect human representations), such AI creeps us out. However, as soon as it becomes "needy," we're drawn to the cute little puppies that need our care and feeding.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

BBC to put TV programs online!

Can you imagine the coronaries that Cable company operators here in the United States would have if producers of programming said they were going to allow their programs to be viewed online at exactly the same time they are being played through traditional means.

I can predict a day in the near future where cable and satellite providers will no longer control our television programming. My wife can already watch a handful of popular Japanese TV shows that are aired only in Japan for free on our media center, versus paying our cable company $19.95 per month for 5 channels of Japanese programming that is garbage.

I think this is a huge move by the BBC and should make some people sit up and take notice. [BBC]

Posted by dymaxion at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

Windows 95 and Vista

John Jordan connects the dots:

Everyone is watching Microsoft, which is preparing to launch a new operating system next year. Last month merely changing the name from code (Longhorn) to product (Vista) devoured a lot of attention, and more recently a stripped-down version of the product shipped to beta testers. The product has been a long time in coming, and the scope has been managed downward in several respects. Nevertheless, both Microsoft and the industry more generally see Vista as a potential jump-start very much in the same category as Windows 95 ten years ago. Because Vista represents the first opportunity in over ten years to begin with a "clean sheet of paper," unlike Windows 3.1, 98, ME, and 2000/XP, Bill Gates has repeatedly linked the two products in public.
Here's another way of thinking about the comparison. In 1995, Microsoft turned the telephone network into an extension of the computer, or vice versa: between them AOL and Windows 95 made the Internet a household utility. In 2006, no parallel leap into an adjoining domain - think of home entertainment, specifically the television - will be supported. Bill Gates longstanding prediction about widespread adoption of a voice and speech interface to the PC will be addressed with Vista support, but even given a powerful standard processor configuration at its disposal, Vista still won't make masses of people retire their keyboards.

Vista looks like a solid product for corporate purchasers, but the lack of "gee-whiz" and "I've always wanted to be able to do that" desirability will prevent end-user excitement from reappearing the way it did ten years ago. An industry in search of the next big thing will probably have to keep looking.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:29 PM | Comments (0)

Japanese house-sitter robot hits stores

Worried about leaving your house empty while you go on vacation? Japan has the answer: a house-sitter robot armed with a digital camera, infrared sensors and a videophone. Stores across Japan started taking orders on Thursday for the Roborior a watermelon-sized eyeball on wheels that glows purple, blue and orange continuing the countrys love affair with gadgets. Roborior can function as interior decor, but also as a virtual guard dog that can sense break-ins using infrared sensors, notify homeowners by calling their cellular phones, and send the owners cell phone videos from its digital camera. It debuted in department stores this week, but supplies are limited. The robot is on display in a half-dozen shops, though many more are taking orders.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

Secret Life of My Space

The New York Times has finally discovered MySpace.com. “I’d say, as far as a cultural phenomenon, MySpace is as important, if not more important, than MTV.” Oh didn’t Robert Young say that, like a month ago? Still a pretty interesting look at how MySpace has changed lives of people, who above everything else simply love music.

Posted by dymaxion at 09:16 PM | Comments (0)

P2P, the only killer broadband application

Napster, the first easy-to-share P2P file sharing network, was all the rage in the late 1990s before the record industry cracked down and drove it into bankruptcy. While the morality of Napster system is still topic of big debate, it role in the proliferation of broadband cannot be denied. Consumer, tired of downloading files switched en masse to arguably faster cable and DSL connections. Thank you, Shawn Fanning, for helping the carriers come out of their financial doldrums. Napster, legal issues aside, was the first application that showed the consumers what was possible with broadband.

Napster’s legacy will be that it taught AOLers how to consume digital media. That it was okay to download music (and eventually video) instead of going to record stores or renting movies at local Blockbuster. The illegality of the service put an end to the business, but not the habit of digital consumption. Since then quite a few variants have come to market - Kazaa, Audio Galaxy, Earth Station, Bit Torrent - and they all have only reinforced the message. I had a chance to catch up Andrew Parker, chief technology officer of Cambridge, UK-based CacheLogic. The company studies traffic patterns on the Internet, and has often come-up with interesting data.

Parker was in town promoting his report on the state of P2P nation, and a new service called Streamsight monitoring network, that would be an array of CacheLogic appliances spread worldwide, that will collect information on the type of network traffic, which will then be available to carriers worldwide to get a better idea about what’s flowing on their pipes. Parker, a reserved Englishman on best of days was sluggish because of a pesky wisdom tooth that has been taking its time coming out of hiding. Despite the pain, we got into a spirited discussion, and came to a not-so-pleasant conclusion: P2P is driving consumer broadband demand….. and broadband is driving P2P uptake.


The symbiotic relationship between the two is reflected in this accompanying network traffic pattern graphic. It leads me to a few conclusions

Parker told me that many television and old line television companies are experimenting with P2P technologies for video distribution. BBC and Sky are the most public about their plans, but there are others who are looking to use P2P to get more viewers for their content. I think on a more longer term, this is an interesting situation and brings up some niggling questions about Silicon Valley’s concept of the moment: The Long Tail. I guess, as niche content finds it footing, one has to wonder who is really footing the bill for the distribution.

I mean be it P2P or iTunes or Rhapsody, we are simply shifting to cost of distribution over to the “pipe owners” who are (whether they like it or not,) being reduced to “mere conduits,” or utilities. For instance the distribution costs of a record used to be printing the CDs, and getting them into the stores, which the record label paid for. Now, if you take a song, put it on a server, and start selling it, the distribution cost is really the “IP transit,” which someone has to pay for.

And as the debate continues, one thing which is becoming increasingly certain: P2P has become the driver of broadband, and for now there is nothing which can even come close.

Posted by dymaxion at 09:12 PM | Comments (0)

Open Source : A Good Marketing Slogan

We have been covering in this blog about the downside of opensource questioning its maturity, lack of business model, some some perspectives and Reality Check.Forbes writes about VA Software - claiming to be “at the center of the open source technology revolution” operating SourceForge.net, a site where developers collaborate on open source projects and it also runs Web sites, like Slashdot and NewsForge, where the anti-Microsoft crowd rails against the evils of proprietary, closed source software. Forbes says that it turns out VA Software's main product, SourceForge Enterprise Edition, is as closed-source and non-free. Customers cannot view or modify the program's source code or basic underlying instructions (a hallmark of open source software), and they definitely can't share the code with others. Officials at VA Software say they can't release SourceForge Enterprise Edition as an open source program, because, if they did, copycats could create knockoffs of the program, and that would hurt sales.

This is the latest twist in the evolution of the free and open source (FOSS) movement.What began as a revolution has now become just another marketing slogan. Startups are latching onto the hype around “open source” to gain interest from venture capitalists and earn street credibility with the FOSS community, but then proceed with a business model predicated on making money by selling closed source code. Enterprises like EnterpriseDB, Gluecode, call themselves “open source” companies, but actually use a “hybrid” business model that involves selling closed source programs that run on top of some open source code. Richard Stallman says that VA Software should not be shipping programs that are not “free”-by which he means programs with code that cannot be viewed, modified and freely shared with others. Stallman differentiates between his “free-software” movement and the “open source software” movement. While open source proponents simply believe closed source development is less effective than open source development, free software proponents say “non-free” software is unethical, “because it keeps users divided and helpless, prohibiting cooperation,” Stallman explains. Bodell at VA Software asks, “If people are performing work, what is the model for compensation?” Well this is what the whole world is asking!!

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Posted by dymaxion at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

The Power Of Mobiles : Breaking Barriers

(Via IHT) In Japan, Yahoo has already made 50 percent of its PC content available on Yahoo Mobileincluding news, finance, shopping and travel services. The need for mobile readiness is particularly acute for certain services like auctions. About 10 percent of bidding at Yahoo Japan is already conducted via mobile phone. The phone screen and the Internet content underneath is almost always controlled by the mobile carrier. Yahoo and the other major Japanese portals, like Excite Japan, MSN and Goo, see that barrier breaking down, and they are investing heavily in their mobile phone content. The number of Web sites designed for viewing on cellphones is starting to catch up with the number of pages designed for PCs. There are 400 million to 500 million searchable Japanese-language Web pages, compared with 60 million mobile Web pages. Including carriers' pages, the cellphone total goes up to an estimated 100 million. The proliferation of cellphone Web pages is likely to surge again with the advent of "number portability," which allows subscribers to hold on to their phone numbers when switching service providers, and is likely to be introduced next year. When that happens, competition among carriers will increase and subscribers will gravitate to content from portals like Yahoo, which users can get irrespective of their carriers.

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Posted by dymaxion at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

German scientists cut bird-flu test time to hours - Expatica

German scientists cut bird-flu test time to hours
Expatica, Netherlands - 1 hour ago
... scientists said Friday they have developed a laboratory test for bird flu that reduces from days to hours the amount of time needed to detect the H5N1 virus in ...
Flu facts and concerns Telegraph.co.uk
Infection getting out of control Guardian Unlimited
World slow to face bird flu threat BBC News
Independent - Sify - all 12 related

Posted by dymaxion at 08:07 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2005

Locked Out CBC Workers Set to Launch Net-based Media Service

For the past week, about 5,000 employees of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) have been locked out due to a labour dispute. Now, the Canadian Media Guild says it plans to launch an internet-based media service produced by locked-out CBC employees. In a statement on their website, the group said " [j]ust because the Corporation won't let us go to work doesn't mean we can't do the work we love to do!", adding that "[v]arious ad-hoc groups have been meeting in Toronto and around the country to develop the idea. The CMG leadership has now approved the project and, since we are without a collective agreement, there are no conflict issues to prevent us from providing quality content to our audiences."

A name for service hasn't been announced, but the CMG says it will initally be a "text and picture site", followed by an English National daily newscast available as a podcast, and possibly some "moving picture TV elements."

The Canadian Media Guild is now looking for volunteers to work on the service but expects it to be ready to launch sometime next week. More on this as it develops.

[Via Clickable Culture]

Posted by dymaxion at 05:40 PM | Comments (0)

O'Reilly In Debate Over Link Selling

I wrote back in April about how the sale of off-topic links to advertisers looking for search ranking boosts had become well seated within university newspapers, with the Stanford Daily paper as a classic example. My longer piece for Search Engine Watch members went further in depth, examining how links like these even showed up at places like the Washington Post. Now respected publisher O'Reilly has come under fire for selling off topic links. It's not something new that they've been doing. Nevertheless, the attention and belated realization that they might be helping people to "game" search engines is causing...

Posted by dymaxion at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

Google's Talking Desktop -- More Hype Than Money Can Buy

: The torrent of words unleashed by the mention of a communications tool in a John Markoff story and the launch of a revamped Google Desktop continues with an almost-awesome mix of viral and orchestrated coverage. The story goes consumer today with NYT and WSJ Tech Thursday reviews. Meanwhile, the geeks are still at it.
-- David Pogue: This week's releases only intensify the Google mystery, cementing the move from "an Internet search tool" to "a full-blown software company." Pogue calls Google Talk 1.0 "probably the most stripped-down chat program on earth" but suggests the features (or lack thereof) aren't what's important for now. "Its mission, in fact, is far grander. Google Talk aims to end the ridiculous era of proprietary chat networks." The weapon: "an open, published standard that the company is making available to all."
-- Walt Mossberg: Mikey likes it. Seriously, apaprt from a couple of flaws, Mossberg writes that "both products, especially Google Desktop, have great potential for expansion and are meant to become indispensable. ... the two newest releases are bold, major steps for Google, and significantly broaden the company's already fierce competition with Microsoft, Yahoo and America Online."
-- Russell Beattie: Gmail left the invite-only stage this week as part of the Gtalk launch. Gmail wannabes can send an SMS message from a U.S. cell phone to Google and get up to 10 accounts. Reading the fine print, Beattie sees "a very neat move by the Goog to harvest mobile phone numbers for future services."

Posted by dymaxion at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

The coming era of the media engineer and media entrepreneur

. . . software engineer era ending

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher
Link_Harvester.jpgThere are tens of millions of programmers entering the world's job markets annually. Paradoxically, this global expansion of the geek population means the end of the era of the software engineer/coder as the most important profession in Silicon Valley - and in other centers of innovation.

Why? Because it is a common commodity. Software, servers and algorithms are cheap and are going to get cheaper. That's why Internet 2.0, this next phase of the internet (lower-case "i" please) will become the era of the "media engineer" - tech-savvy content producers, including journalists.

There are very few of them and the global pool grows slowly. [It's easier teaching geek to creative people than the other way around.]

It's all about the content

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Posted by dymaxion at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)

Who's Hot This Week? San Francisco; Pasadena (Not); Philadelphia Narrows; Palakkode, India; Kutztown, Penn.

San Francisco announces TechConnect citywide wireless plan: Didn't I ask that news be kept to a minimum while I was on vacation? And SF chose this moment to release its plan. The city will offer up its network for bid to nonprofits and private enterprise. The initial proposal is a request for information and comment, but the bid will apparently be awarded based on a response, and deployment would start a few months after the deadline of Sept. 28.

Given that we're on the cusp of fixed WiMax deployment, this proposal seems just months ahead of the curve. The San Francisco Chronicle's account of the announcement has Mayor Gavin Newsom stating that taxpayers will probably pay nothing. This seems awfully pie in the sky for the other objective: substantially lower cost than other broadband alternatives. (The article includes a properly attributed comment from an SBC-funded thinktank: it's appropriate that the quote is included and it's appropriate that the funding behind the analyst is also noted.)

However, the key metric here is 1 Mbps connections, not the 3 to 6 Mbps that cable and DSL now offer routinely in major metro areas (but not to every home in those areas), and the 10 to 20 Mpbs that's coming soon over copper and much higher speeds in certain effectively redlined areas.

Pasadena won't spend public dollars on Wi-Fi: The council says it would cost millions and only aid those with laptops. Vendors obviously didn't sell it well: Wi-Fi bridges are being used widely to bring municipal Wi-Fi from the outside to residential desktop users. Ah, well. The city will keep spending to put free Wi-Fi in libraries and elsewhere. They're looking to find a private vendor for a municipal network to bear the fiscal risk.

Philadelphia has narrowed candidates for building the citywide Wi-Fi network: EarthLink and HP consortiums are two remaining.

Palakkode, India, models computer centers linked wirelessly: The goal is to unwire 600,000 villages in two years, which is remarked as unlikely in the article. But potentially over 200,000 villages will receive a combination of non- and for-profit systems. Because the post is so unreliable, the article alleges, among other benefits to citizens are Internet-based bill presentment: you can't reliably pay your electrical bill through the mail in rural villages.

Kutztown, Penn., builds state's only municipal network: The town will build and operate the network municipally without a private partner, making it what the town believes is the first and only--due to legislation--municipal wireless network in the state. The town already has full fiber-optic coverage; the wireless will be just another layer. It's just 1.6 square miles in area.

Posted by dymaxion at 05:27 PM | Comments (0)

Link Selling: A Case Study

From time to time advertisers pop up over at Boing Boing who want to do nothing but buy a hard coded text link. The advertisers are not in any way interested in conversing with BB readers, all they want is to grab some Googlejuice by having a link on a high PageRank site. We always say no, as the intent is so evident. But here is an interesting case (at publisher O'Reilly, which is a partner of mine in Web 2) where a more sophisticated approach - via Google ads - to basically the same idea was not caught, at least initially. BB and SEW have good overviews.

From Tim's post:

So there's the heart of the question: is it appropriate for a site to monetize its page rank as well as its page impressions?

It's pretty clear that the practice of "cloaking" -- that is, hiding links so that you're selling only the page rank -- is illegitimate. But what if someone pays you for a real ad, even if you know that they are paying you primarily because of your page rank rather than your targeted audience? As long as there's no deception as to the nature of the sponsored link, and a legitimate opportunity for click through, isn't this still an ad?

ds to a whole nest of hard questions: Where are the boundaries between legitimate "search engine optimization" to help people find stuff that they will appreciate, and "search engine gaming", to inflate the rank of sites that are less useful? Whose responsibility is it to solve this problem? Should web sites turn away advertisers just because they are performing arbitrage on Google and other search engines? Or is it the search engine's responsibility to adjust their heuristics to counteract any attempts to game the system? Or both? Is it legitimate for a site to improve its own user experience by hosting small, well-paid and relatively inobtrusive text ads rather than the large banners and popups demanded by many advertisers if those ads lead to a worse user experience on search engines?

Long term, I'm pretty sure that supporting people who game search engines is not a good thing.

Posted by dymaxion at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

Post Office Betting On eBay

With the rise of email and various private shipping companies, some have wondered if the US Postal Service can survive in the digital age. They've tried a few random things here and there, but most of them have been pretty silly (e.g., you could email the Post Office a letter, which they'd print out and deliver to someone's mailbox). However, it looks like someone finally realized that while the rise of the internet may have decimated the market for some types of mail, it's boosted individual shipments of packages from residential users thanks to eBay. With that in mind, they might as well jump on the eBay bandwagon and help train people to become eBay sellers -- while (of course) using the Post Office for all their shipping. While it makes sense for the Postal Service to do this, you have to wonder if some other online auction firms may get a bit upset that the US Postal Service seems to be promoting eBay over other online auction sites.

Posted by dymaxion at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

Dutch sperm donor show to air

After having inflicted Big Brother on the world, Dutch television producer John de Mol is launching a reality show in which a woman chooses a sperm donor.

The show, titled I Want Your Child... and Nothing Else!, is scheduled to air tonight.


The 30-year-old woman, Yessica explains: "The plan is that we visit potential donors and - of course on camera - decide which man is most suitable. Afterwards, there will be artificial insemination."

Dutch MPs have spoken out against "The Sperm Show", a pilot that will vie with four other reality programmes. One will follow the fortunes of five former prostitutes who start up a cafe. The show that gets the most votes from viewers on Saturday, after all five have been broadcast, will be commissioned for a full series.

Posted by dymaxion at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)

Traffic ticket update: we won!

Mark Frauenfelder: Beatticket
(Click on thumbnail for enlargement) I'm very happy to report that the traffic ticket my wife got last year was dismissed. (Read all about the lousy circumstances surrounding the ticket here.)

I thank the folks at Ticket Assassin for helping me beat this ticket. I paid $25 for the TicketAssassin Shareware, "an arsenal of forms, examples and guidelines assembled to help you fight your ticket via Trial By Written Declaration, a process you can do entirely by mail. This collection includes specific court documents needed to contest your case, dozens of examples, and comprehensive, easy-to-follow directions and guidelines for their proper use."

The TicketAssassin folks also answered my emailed questions about the specifics of the ticket.

And it worked! The ticket was dismissed and the check I sent for $190 is being returned.

Trial By Written Declaration is the best way to fight a ticket. I am thrilled with TicketAssassin!

Posted by dymaxion at 04:02 PM | Comments (0)

Skype: Bringing Concept of “Presence” One Step closer to Mainstream

With the advent of Skype opening up their SkypeNet and SkypeWeb APIs to developers, “Presence” is now another step closer to becoming the multi-billion dollar industry that I believe it will be one day. At the moment “presence” is a concept many people in the IP Communications industry “get”, but very few consumers or Enterprise users really understand. I believe that Skype has the opportunity to both educate people what “presence” means and provide a platform for presence to become commercialized.

With Skype opening up their platforms, they are in fact empowering their developer community with the ability to create both horizontal and vertical applications and the opportunity to apply the concept of presence in applications which would not otherwise be considered “communication” apps.

Back in the mid-80s when Lotus 1-2-3 published their “1-2-3 Toolkit” they enabled third-party developers like myself to add @functions to Lotus 1-2-3. At that time, other developers took advantage of the availability of the developer tools and created vertical and horizontal spreadsheet applications for industries which at that moment, Lotus Development Corp. never considered had a need for their products.

I expect that over time we will see a similar, albeit different symmetry with the way the growing and innovative Skype developer community takes advantage of their available tools and apply them. It will be real interesting to see how some of the more creative Skype developers start to commercialize the opportunities presented and how that ecosystem evolves.

Skype's opening up of their Skype Net and Skype Web API to the web is yet another major step in their on-going contribution and commitment to the IP Communications revolution.

Posted by dymaxion at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

Clear Channel wants to own Intenet Radio

Filed under:

Z100 Phone TapClear Channel Radio really seems to be upping it's Internet Radio initiative. Last year they hired Evan Harrison, formally vice president and general manager of America Online Music and AOL Radio Network, as exective vice president to head up its Internet radio division. With their embracing of podcasting and streaming online radio, it looks like their bracing for impact as WIFI/WIMAX really begins take off and online radio increases in adoption.

Posted by dymaxion at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

PodSafe Music Network goes Live (officially)

Filed under: ,

Podsafe Music NetworkThe PodSafe Music Network has done the unthinkable and has actually emerged out of beta, marking it's official launch. The PodSafe Music Network was created and supported by PodShow Inc (who recently received an amazing $8.5 Million), and is designed to meet the need for podcasters to be able to easily access music that can be used without restriction on their programs.

An awesome resource for both podcasters and artists alike, PodShow's sponsorship model may actually take hold considering that ABSOLUT Vodka is a key sponsor in the PodSafe Music Network's kickoff. Very cool.

Posted by dymaxion at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

RSS finds the Patent Office

Posted by dymaxion at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

Undermining the Browser

If it was from any other company it wouldn’t really matter, but Google’s Desktop Sidebar is important, not because it’s particularly new, but because it undermines the primacy of the browser.

Loose Wire ‘s WSJ.com column in June looked at desktop widgets like Konfabulator and Klips before, as well as existing sidebars like the Desktop Sidebar, put together in his spare time by software engineer Damian Kedzierski, 34, who lives in Katowice in southern Poland. Or the SpyderBar from New Orleans-based TGT Soft. In the longer term, Microsoft has indicated that it plans to incorporate a very similar approach in its next version of Windows. Yahoo!, of course, have already bought Konfabulator and I would be very surprised if someone doesn’t snap up Serence, the folk behind Klips, pretty soon.

That’s probably where the battle is going to be: the space on top of the browser. Google can find a way past Microsoft only if it’s able to supplant, or bypass, the browser as the main tool for not merely looking for information (like the search toolbar) but also how the information is displayed once it’s retrieved. That’s where the Sidebar comes in.

While I don’t think Google have done a particularly good job with the Sidebar. The weather widget, for example, only shows U.S. cities. There’s nothing new in there to surprise anyone who has used Damian’s Desktop Sidebar. But the power is not there, it’s in the fact that it channels all existing Google products — search, Gmail, presumably Google Earth etc later — straight to your desktop without going anywhere else first. The heat, finally, is on.

Posted by dymaxion at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

Technorati – Time To Ignore

I notice that in most cases Technorati cosmos search does not work at all. I can say with reasonable definiteness that Technorati tag does not work at all – atleast in my case. There’s no use in claiming coverage of additional millions of blogs every quarter, when the existing coverage quality can not be maintained. Om Malik has a detailed note on the deficiencies of the tagging system in Technorati. Noting said about technorati excites me anymore.

Jason Kottke echoes similar views when he writes, No more Technorati. He points out that the results are often unavailable for queries with large result sets (i.e. this is only going to become a bigger problem as time goes on), and most of the rest of the time it's slow as molasses. When it does return results in a timely fashion for links, the results often include old links seen before in the results set, sometimes from months ago. And that's to say nothing of the links Technorati doesn't even display. Results compared with comparable results shows that Technorati is seriously deficient.
Technorati sucks. For the sake of the growth of the blogosphere, it is better that technorati gets acquired by larger player with lot more resources and a better plan to scalability and maintaining search quality. For the sake of curiosity, am tagging this post as Technorati - to see how Technorati picks this up and shows in results .

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Posted by dymaxion at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

WebOS & Beginning Of The End Of Microsoft Dominance

The Google desktop with sidebar is seeing rave reviews and lot of views are coming out as to how Google may move into the center of the desktop. Jason Kottke has an excellent perspective about the evolving WebOS segment. Excerpts with edits and comments:
Google’s browser was expected to be a sophisticated local caching framework included, and Google will provide the reference apps (replying to emails on Gmail or posting messages to Google groups while on the plane). With GDS, Google finally had an application that installed on the desktop and, even better, it was a little Web server that could insert data from your local machine into pages you were browsing on google.com.WebOS may refer to three main parts to the system:
- The Web browser (along with other browser-ish applications like Konfabulator) becomes the primary application interface through which the user views content, performs services, and manages data on their local machine and on the Web, often without even knowing the difference. Something like Firefox, Safari, or IE...ideally browser agnostic.
- Web applications of the sort we're all familiar with: Gmail, Flickr, and Bloglines, as well as other applications that are making the Web an ever richer environment for getting stuff done. (And ideally all Ajaxed up to provide an experience closer to that of traditional desktop apps.)
- A local Web server to handle the data delivery and content display from the local machine to the browser. This local server will likely be highly optimized for its task, but would be capable of running locally installed Web applications (e.g. a local copy of Gmail and all its associated data).
Aside from the browser and the Web server, applications will be written for the WebOS and won't be specific to Windows, OS X, or Linux. Compared to "standalone" Web apps and desktop apps, applications developed for this hypothetical platform have some powerful advantages. As these run in a Web browser, these applications are cross platform (assuming that whoever develops such a system develops the local Web server part of it for Windows, OS X, Linux, your mobile phone, etc.), just like Web apps such as Gmail, Basecamp, and Salesforce.com. You don't need to be on a specific machine with a specific OS...you just need a browser + local Web server to access your favorite data and apps. This would help the application developers to write just one appwith the WebOS. The user can run local applications and use them when offline as well. Eg could be Gmail, iTunes, Flickr etc. Anyone with XHTML/JavaScript/CSS skills can build these, but that depends on how open the platform is. And that depends on whose platform it is. Right now, there are five organizations moving in this direction – Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla . A truly different and exciting world is on the anvil.

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Posted by dymaxion at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

Anemone Self-Organizing Battle Strategies

By studying how colonies of sea anemone Anthopleura elegantissima conduct their battles, David J. Ayre from the University of Wollongong, Australia, and Rick Grosberg from UC Davis have found a fascinating self-organizing battle plan with distinct castes of scouts, warriors, and reproductive anemones.

via EurekaAlert

Posted by dymaxion at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)


Flight404’s latest Magneto-Sphere (built in Processing) combines metaballs, gravity, and a self organizing network of magnetic nodes to create a tantalizing organic display of attraction and repulsion. [video]

Posted by dymaxion at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2005

Desperation Drives Telco Move To IPTV; SBC Exec Describes $4 Billion Investment As "Not Much Money"

: Telcos looking for a counterpunch to cable VoIP and telephony are pegging their hopes on IPTV. USA Today's Leslie Cauley writes about their plans against the backdrop of the IPTV rollout by Pioneer Telephone, which has 35,000 telephone customers in Oklahoma. After one year, Pioneer has 2,600 IPTV customers, with 270 more on the waiting list; the goal is 35 percent within two years. The rural telephone company doesn't market the service as IPTV, which could confuse customers, but as digital television. "People just don't realize the complexity of these systems until they get into it," says Pioneer GM Richard Ruhl.
Integration and scaling are the biggest hurdles facing SBC in its far more massive IPTV effort. SBC COO Randall Stephenson says the $4 billion IPTV investment "is very little money. If I bet wrong, it's not much money for us to burn." If IPTV, doesn't work, he told Cauley, "We'll just switch gears and go fiber-to-the-prem."
So far, Stephenson says SBC is only four months off schedule and could miss by another quarters at most. Microsoft is driving the timeline and Cauley reports it isn't close to done, citing another SBC exec who says the set-top boxes can't be finished until Microsoft is done.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

Salon Media Puts The Well On The Block

: thewell1.gif One of the most venerated online communities, The Well, has been put up for sale by parent Salon Media, according to its latest 10-Q, picked out by News.com. "We're diluting both our management and our resources by focusing on two brands," Elizabeth Hambrecht, Salon's CEO said in this story.
Salon.com bought The Well in 1999, during the boom days
In the 10-Q filed with SEC yesterday, rhe relevant portion about The Well: "Salon purchased The Well, an on-line community, in 1999. Even though this line of business has generated positive cash-flow since its acquisition, and is forecast to generate $0.5 million of revenue for the year ending March 31, 2006, Salon is evaluating what role, if any, this business will have in the future. As such, Salon has begun to explore the potential sale of the on-line community. The assets of The Well are predominately $0.2 million of goodwill. If The Well operation is sold, Salon will most likely not attain its forecasted revenue of $7.0 million. The potential sale of The Well is not driven by a need to generate cash to finance Salon's operations."
Also last week, the company announced its rather disappointing Q2 results: its revenues for Q2 were $1.6 million, a decrease of 6% from $1.7 million a year ago, with ad revenues decreasing to $0.9 million from $1.0 million a year ago...its subscriber base has also been skrinking: Salon has experienced a drop in overall membership, which has declined from approximately 84,500 at March 31, 2005 to approximately 80,600 at June 30, 2005.
For everything Salon, read our dedicated company page..
Update: Who would buy The Well?: Well, to start with, there aren't many choices among the traditional media companies: someone like Slate-WaPo (yes!), or maybe NYT. Another slightly tangetial buyer: Huffington Post
If any media company buys it, it will be more of a pity buy than anything. The best option is for members, or a subset of them, to attempt a community buyout, and go along the lines Plastic.com has (yes, it still exists.)
Related: Earnings: Salon.com's Revenues Decrease; Losses Shrink

Posted by dymaxion at 11:40 PM | Comments (0)

British scientists create first pure brain stem cells

Scientists have made the world's first pure batch of brain stem cells from human stem cells. The breakthrough is important in the fight against neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's...

Posted by dymaxion at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

SourceForge Top Downloads

Peer-to-peer filesharing software continues to dominate the top downloads over at Sourceforge.net. Here are some of the highlights from this week's top 100 downloads.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

Rumor Mill: Yahoo to enter VoIP fray?

Silicon.com has this article, replete with analyst speculation, that Yahoo Inc. is in the throes of tossing its hat into the VoIP ring. Probably within the next two weeks, according to this article from the Red Herring.
Yahoo already offers PC-to-PC calling following its acquisition of Dialpad, so at least two analysts from Daiwa and Piper Jaffray will not be gasping for breath if Yahoo gets more aggressive about entering the space.
Speculation at this point amounts to a two-prong strategy for the Yahoovians, viz. free, stripped down type service, and a premium service with more bells and whistles. Naturally, we'll be watching the signal traffic for signs that this will indeed come to pass, and report it here.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:26 PM | Comments (0)

Search Index Size Does Not Matter

We recently covered Yahoo's claim of increased index size.Based on the data created from sample searches, the study conducted at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign concludes that a user can expect, on average, to receive 166.9% more results using the Google search engine than the Yahoo! search engine. In fact, in the 10,012 test cases we ran, only in 3% of the cases (307) did Yahoo! return more results. In 96.6% of the cases (9676) Google returned more results. In less than 1% of the cases (29) both search engines returned the same number of results. It is the opinion of the study that Yahoo!'s claim to have a web index of over twice as many documents as Google's index is suspicious. Unless a large number of the documents Yahoo! has indexed are not yet available to its search engine, it is puzzling that Yahoo!'s search engine consistently returned fewer results than Google. This confirms what John Battelle reported as Google response to Yahoo’s claim of increase in index size. The whole index size thing development is increasingly becoming more and more curious

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Posted by dymaxion at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

Save the Stanford Radio Dishes

By tim Just heard from old friend Mark Bracewell, who saw our new book Astronomy Hacks, and thought that I ought to know that there's a plan afoot to tear down the Stanford radio telescope dishes. There are a group of people who are petitioning Stanford to stop the demolition. According to the petition:
We strongly support the rescue of the Stanford Radio Telescope Dishes by the Friends of the Bracewell Observatory Association (FBOA) to open up the world of radio astronomy to Stanford's faculty, students, and community!

In light of the number of Stanford faculty and students who have already signed up to use the facility, FBOA's readiness to provide long-term funding and expert maintenance, and the fact that it carries a $10 million replacement cost, we feel it would be a tragedy for the telescope to be demolished for no compelling reason.

We urge you to suspend the planned demolition, and accept FBOA's offer to fully fund, refurbish, and maintain the observatory.

If you agree, ="http://feeds.feedburner.com/oreilly/radar/rss10?g=353"/>

Posted by dymaxion at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2005

Delaware Supreme Court to hear blog suit

A lawsuit seeking to identify anonymous posters to a blog is to be heard by the Delaware Supreme Court. The case, filed by Smyrna Town, Delaware Councilman Patrick J. Cahill and his wife Julia, alleges that four anonymous posters to a community issues blog "defamed" the councilman and his wife in late 2004. According to NewsZap, an [...]

Posted by dymaxion at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2005

Firefox Loses Market Share to IE - Steady gain hits bump in July

some good comments that strike to the heart of the debate about whether or not free products can have market share. I use Firefox and enjoy it (as much as anyone can "enjoy" using a browser) but I don't think anyone in the tech business is really representative of the mass market, and that's exactly where IE plays. Maybe FF has picked off all the low hanging fruit they can get without dedicated marketing? Maybe there's a new dynamic at play where a community of interested 3rd party ISVs drive adoption once viability has been demonstrated? Flock is an example of a company that is building on the early success of FF with their own FF offering, at least that's as much as I understand as this point.

At any rate, outside of the noisy extremes I don't think dissatisfaction with IE is significant so in order for FF to continue to grow they will need to do more to appeal to users to continue growing.

UPDATE: Firefox.com says that they have been downloaded 80 million times... anyone know how many users that translates to? I've downloaded it at least a dozen times taking into account different OS versions and release updates.

Link: broadband � News � Firefox Loses Market Share to IE - Steady gain hits bump in July.

The streak of Mozilla's Firefox browser gaining market share from Microsoft's Internet Explorer has come to a grinding halt in July. For the first time since Firefox Version 1.0 made its debut, Internet Explorer was able to regain some lost ground.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

Recordable Media a Bigger Threat Than Filesharing?

Matilda the Hun writes "The Register is reporting on the RIAA claims that recordable media is more of a source of piracy than P2P networks. From the article: 'The RIAA's chief executive, Mitch Bainwol, last week said music fans acquire almost twice as many songs from illegally duplicated CDs as from unauthorized downloads, Associated Press reports. According to Bainwol, in turn citing figures from market watcher NPD, 29 per cent of the recorded music obtained by listeners last year came from content copied onto recordable media. Only 16 per cent came from illegal downloads.'"

Posted by dymaxion at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

BitTorrent for Content Providers

"ibiblio.org has entered the fray, launching an enhanced BitTorrent site. Among the torrent offerings (all legal) are Linux kernels, distros, Project Gutenberg texts, and the ibiblio Speaker Series, which includes videos of talks by Larry Lessig, Robin Miller, and Dan Gillmor. ibiblio developed and open sourced the Osprey and Permaseed software to make BitTorrent seeding reliable, persistent, and suitable for large-scale content providers. Yes, you can find these torrents later."

Via unmediated

Posted by dymaxion at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

Are You Being Cached?

Handy tool for finding out if your site is being cached by Google at http://www.webuildpages.com/cache/cachetoolpublic.pl . Enter a URL and it'll scan it for a list of internal links. Then...

Posted by dymaxion at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

Murdoch Wants Blinkx

According to a story in the LA Times, News Corp is in talks to acquire multimedia (video and audio) search engine Blinkx. Stories about Mr. Murdoch's rapidly growing interest in acquring Internet properties (not only Blinkx) have reached a fever pitch after conference call last week and his acquisition of MySpace a few weeks ago....

Posted by dymaxion at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

E-Mail Interception Decision Reversed

Is e-mail in transit communications or data in storage? Seems like a basic question, but the answer matters a lot to the police. A U.S. federal Appeals Court has ruled that the interception of e-mail in temporary storage violates the...

Posted by dymaxion at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

Roughly 1 In 10 Blog Readers Now Using RSS; Majority Still Clueless About It

: Somehow I missed the memo about today being Research Monday. Here's one from Nielsen NetRatings reporting that 11 percent of blog readers opt for RSS. Roughly 6.4 percent use a web site to aggregate while 4.9 percent use "feed aggregation software."
This may be the most important point: the majority of respondents weren't familiar with RSS -- 66 percent had either never heard of it or never used it. Of those, 50 percent had never heard about it before being asked for the survey while 15.7 percent had heard of RS but didn't know what it does. Another 23 percent said they knew about RSS but never used it. This is particularly interesting in light of a heated discussion now taking place in some forums about whether RSS should be used as the term for web feeds or whether feeds or web feeds make more sense. I have a feeling the majority of those in this survey would have responsed the same way to either term.
The issue isn't what you call it -- after, all how many consumers know what DVD stands for or that they're reading a site that uses CSS? It's how you educate people and how you make new technology accessible. It matters to us but, done right, most people probably don't need to know what it's called. This is increasingly important to major media companies trying to incorporate RSS into their plans.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

Intel Invests in Chinese IPTV Company

: Marking the first distribution from Intel's recently-created $200 million Intel Capital China Technology Fund, the company reported today three investments, and among them Onewave, an IPTV solutions provider in China. The amount was not disclosed.
Onewave's technology enables IPTV delivery to homes through broadband Internet connections. Recently, Onewave and Chunghwa Telecom have partnered to deliver VOD in five cities across the U.S.. Onewave's subsidiary company, Viewtoo is a content aggregator in China, with over 15,000 hours of licensed content.
Intel made two more investment..details on those are here.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:48 PM | Comments (0)

TECH TALK: Next-Generation Networks: BPL (Part 2)

News.com adds:

For several years, people have thought that BPL could allow electric companies to become a viable third alternative to the cable and telephone companies providing high-speed access to the Internet. But technical issues have kept the technology from being deployed widely. What's more, critics say turning electric utilities into consumer broadband providers will cost the industry billions of dollars because of the need to upgrade existing electrical grids.

n renewed interest in the technology as companies such as Google make significant investments in companies delivering BPL service. Supporters of the technology also say consumer broadband service is only one application that energy companies such as CenterPoint are considering as they look to deploy BPL technology.

"A lot of people have been focusing on BPL as the third competitive leg in the broadband market," said Raymond Blair, vice president for IBM's Broadband Over Powerlines initiatives. "But that is only the tip of the iceberg. The main reason utilities want BPL is to manage their businesses better."

Because BPL essentially turns the electrical grid into an Internet-based network, every device attached to the grid will be able to communicate with other devices on it. This means BPL technology has the potential to develop a "smart grid," which could allow for such services as automated meter reading, real-time system monitoring, preventive maintenance and diagnostics, outage detection and restoration, as well as other potential applications.

Alan Mutter provides additional context:

While cable and telephone companies long have scrambled with varying degrees of success to become full-service, triple-play providers of video, Internet and voice services, the third line into every home, the power line, has been quietly buzzing along and largely overlooked. Not any more.

rp. and Goldman Sachs have put $100 million into a private company called Current Communications Group, which says it can send and receive high-speed Internet signals to homes and businesses via the existing electric grid. The tres unlikely amigos are teaming up at Current Comm with earlier investor John Malone, the man who built Tele-Communications Inc. into a cable TV behemoth before he sold it to AT&T at the peak of ripeness in 1999.

Several small broadband power line (BPL) start-ups have spent a long time trying, without much technical or commercial success, to safely coax satisfactory Internet-protocol signals through electric lines. The plan was to provide an electrifying alternative to the enviable businesses of the high-priced cable guys and the low-tech telephone companies. To date, various flavors of BPL have moved out of the lab and onto a few hundred utility poles in a small number of experiments.

But the evident success of a 50,000-home pilot in Cincinnati has turned Current Comm into Google’s preferred partner in what appears to be no less an effort than delivering unlimited video on demand (VOD) to any home, shop or office with access to electricity.

BPL is an emerging technology which could potentially be the dark horse in the race to deliver broadband to the home.

Tomorrow: Next-Generation Services

Posted by dymaxion at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

Google Halts Scanning of Copyrighted Books

Google announced that they are temporarily not going to scan copyrighted material until November. The Association of American Publishers is not very happy. "Google wants publishers to notify the company which copyrighted books they don't want scanned, effe...

Posted by dymaxion at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

Google Sandbox Exists - So Says Google

After what, 2yrs? of speculation, the Google Sandbox, the algorithm that puts some (not all) new sites in a kind of probationary period, has now been confirmed by Google. Rand Fishkin recounts conversations at the recent SES During the conversation, which centered around spamming Google (as Todd, Greg & Dave a...

Posted by dymaxion at 10:23 PM | Comments (0)

P2P: Future Investment Haven

What do you call an industry where the user base increases by over 50% per year? H-O-T. (Figure on left from Big Champagne). Open legal issues have frozen the capital industry's participation in consumer P2P networks for several years....

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Posted by dymaxion at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

Google to include iTunes search?

Filed under:

Google Podcast SearchThere seems to be some market chatter about a possible partnership between Apple and Google, and more specifically the ability to search through iTunes directly on Google. The two will work together "somehow" though admists all the speculation and rumors no one really seems to have any specifics on how.

So let's add to the speculation a bit: This not only will include search for the music store, but also search for the (gasp) iTunes Podcast directory. And this is only the beginning of the Google Podcast initative.

[via Slashdot]
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Posted by dymaxion at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

SimonSays Voice Recognition Search

Filed under:

Simon SaysSimonSearch is a new speech recognition technology developed by the Toronto-based SimonSays Voice Technologies. The idea is to "listen" to both audio and video media files, index the result and locate the phrases you’re looking for within the index.

The technology is speech recognition based, as well as some level of human monitored quality control (sounds like a boring job). A demonstration of SimonSearch is being implemented at radiophiles.org, which is a searchable archive of interviews-in-progress conducted by Jennifer Leonard, co-author of Massive Change: The Future of Global Design (Phaidon, 2004)

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Posted by dymaxion at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

NPR to start Podcasting?

Filed under: ,

NPR goes PodcastingApparently NPR will not be renewing their contract with Audible and will be pursuing their own Podcasting strategy. NPR's beloved shows like "All Things Considered" and "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me" used to be available on Audible, but after what I can assume was a lackluster performance, have since been pulled from Audible's library.

Instead it seems that NPR is finalizing their new Podcasting strategy as indicated from this letter, which sounds intriguing to say the least.

As a related side-note, Bob Edwards, formally of NPR's Morning Edition has found his way back to Audible through a deal with XM Radio.

UPDATE: Looks like NPR has a Podcast page up though it's hidden off the site. Who'da thunk it?
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Posted by dymaxion at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

Screw Size! I Dare Google

Posted by dymaxion at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

Google Sandbox = Purgatory

Posted by dymaxion at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

Rupert Murdoch Wants The Blinkx Search Engine

Posted by dymaxion at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

PR, Blogs And Playing The Game

Posted by dymaxion at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

Yahoo! Index Size Inflated?

Posted by dymaxion at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

SLA 2005 Conference Review

Posted by dymaxion at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

Free Google WiFi + Location Based Ads = Probably

Posted by dymaxion at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

Murdoch Wants Blinkx

Posted by dymaxion at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

Google Sandbox Exists - So Says Google

Posted by dymaxion at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

NewsCorp Eyes Blinkx

Posted by dymaxion at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

Ask Jeeves Launches New Paid Search Advertising Program To The Public

Posted by dymaxion at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

Test 1 - Ignore

Posted by dymaxion at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

Watson 2.0 Search Software

Posted by dymaxion at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

The Allure Of Portals

Posted by dymaxion at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

Google Maps

Posted by dymaxion at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

Ask Jeeves Launches New Paid Search Advertising Program To The Public

Posted by dymaxion at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

Corporate Weblogs

Posted by dymaxion at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

Ask Jeeves Sponsored Listings Program Formally Opens

Posted by dymaxion at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

The Doctor Is In: 'AOL, Ask Jeeves Search Growth Outpaces Leaders,' Or Does It?

Posted by dymaxion at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

Google To Book Publishers: You Are Basically Webmasters

Posted by dymaxion at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

A U.S. District Court Judge Rules Against Google In AdWords Case

Posted by dymaxion at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

Technorati for sale?

100-to-1, not happening.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:10 PM | Comments (0)

Google Making a Music Move?

The Internets are humming with chatter about Google’s music service, possibly in partnership with iTunes. Now mind you this is based on one report, based on one comment by an options trader in TheStreet.com, not exactly a publication known for reporting accurate mac-related reporters. (ThinkSecret would make me take this more seriously!) Anyway if it does come to pass, it would be a stiff blow to Microsoft ecosystem and also to Yahoo’s musical ambitions. iTunes is to digital music, what Google is to search, and it would be a magical combination. Dave Winer had earlier reported that Google might be working on “an iTunes-clone, based on RSS 2.0, and fully podcast-capable. Multiple sources on this one.”

I believe a service like Mercora would be a great addition to Google, and helping realize its music ambitions. Why? First of all, it does not really involve in cutting any deals with record labels. The peer-to-peer streaming, along with instant messaging, combined with audio search are some of the features of Mercora. Google could simply plonk its “contextual ads” right into Mercora app, and become a credible player in the digital music business. Of course, that would not preclude any deals with Apple’s iTunes.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

Get Ready for GoogleNet

Business 2.0: What if Google (GOOG) wanted to give Wi-Fi access to everyone in America? And what if it had technology capable of targeting advertising to a user’s precise location? The gatekeeper of the world’s information could become one of the globe’s biggest Internet providers and one of its most powerful ad sellers, basically supplanting telecoms in one fell swoop. Sounds crazy, but how might Google go about it? More…

Posted by dymaxion at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

Technorati - Finding A Suitor

BL Ochman scoops, is about to be sold to a large search engine company. She thinks , the deal should go down in about a week. Speculation ranges from Yahoo to Google to Newscorp to Mark Cuban as prospective buyers. I do not have any inside information - but I can say one thing - considering the significant changes that Technorati has seen in the last six months or so and considering that the market looks hot and a few big deals are happening in the market - this may be a possibility. Jeff Jarvis reports that this coule be just a rumour. Niall Kennedy point out this to potential buyers. If I were Dave, I would definitely look at a sale option, if the price is indeed good. As a leader in the blogspace search market - Technorati is always an attractive option lets wait & see.

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Posted by dymaxion at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

Here Come RSS- Other Technologies Better Give Way

(Via Fortune) David Kirkpatrick has written an excellent column on the business usage of RSS technologies. Blogs, and a related technology called RSS, may hold the future for software says Jim Moore – he and his partners have raised $100 million for the first-ever venture capital fund devoted to these technologies, called RSS Investors. Moore, thinks that blogs and RSS are ushering in "the democratization of web services." Moore while working with Dave Winer began to understand the business potential of blogs & RSS.
Bigger Internet players are now snapping up firms that use these technologies. Flickr, recently bought by Yahoo, lets users share photos, post them to blogs, and send them from their camera-phones. And Bloglines was bought by Ask Jeeves, which is itself now being acquired by Interactive Corp. New RSS-centric companies are emerging all the time. One firm that Moore particularly admires is del.icio.us, which allows you to save websites you like, create labels for them, and share them with your friends. del.icio.us, makes highly creative use of RSS feeds. Moore says RSS and other technologies are poised to vastly expand online automated software programs, or what are called "web services." He thinks that more ways to acquire, share, and benefit from information will emerge. "There are a whole set of things which, taken together, are a new paradigm for software development," says Moore. "The revolution is that a set of elements now allow people, including end users, to very simply knit together powerful "web services."
Moore thinks we are heading to a world of web services built around RSS and other simple web technologies. This will let just about anybody build on to someone else’s software application on the web. "The elements of this programming are very simple instructions, like URLs, RSS, and zip codes," he says. Even companies like enterprise software giant SAP could find themselves threatened, as pieces of their business become available as much simpler services on the web (Not sure how – after all the RSS /Feed readers can be used only for display!). In Future, companies will begin to figure out how to perform tasks, such as tracking inventory, using RSS feeds. There’s no question that RSS is one of the most powerful technologies of the Internet age.

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Posted by dymaxion at 09:54 PM | Comments (0)

Boston Globe on reverse brain drain

The Boston Globe recently had a good article on Indian engineers and entrepreneurs who've been working in Silicon Valley and Route 128 returning to India, either to work for American companies who've set up facilities there; for new Indian companies; or to start their own businesses.

[W]ith the maturing of the US technology industry, and the rapid expansion of India as a center for software programming and business process outsourcing, thousands of Indian engineers and managers -- many of them US-educated and working on Route 128 or in California's Silicon Valley -- are opting to go back to their homeland.

The trend is raising fear of a brain drain. Some business leaders are worried that the immigrant Indian entrepreneurs who helped fuel the US technology boom might now start companies in India, and take whole classes of jobs with them....

Neither the US nor the Indian government keeps count of how many Indian employees have left the American workforce to return to India. The Economic Times, a business publication in India, estimated this summer that 35,000 have returned to the largest Indian high-tech center, which is now in and around Bangalore.

This is a far larger number than has returned to a comparable area in China, Zhongguancun Science Park, outside Beijing. According to Henry Rowen, director emeritus of the the Asia Pacific Research Center at Stanford, about 4,900 expatriate Chinese scientists and engineers have relocated to Zhongguancun in the last several years. They've done impressive things, but compared to 35,000, it's not a high number.

Returnees say that India's substantially lower average wages are more than offset by its dramatically lower cost of living. And with the proliferation of Western amenities, from air conditioning to consumer electronics to shopping malls, the returnees say they have found that the American lifestyle is now available in India -- at least for professionals laboring in the gleaming high-tech office parks of Bangalore and Hyderabad.

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Posted by dymaxion at 09:43 PM | Comments (0)

Cindy Sheehan video update

Mark Frauenfelder: Ben Britt says: "Brand spanking new 7 minute documentary shot outside the presidents ranch with Cindy Sheehan and representatives from Code Pink, Gold Star Families for Peace, Veterans for Peace & the Crawford Peace House. Describes events leading up to and current status." Link

Posted by dymaxion at 09:24 PM | Comments (0)

Google Print Is As Google Print Does (Donna Wentworth)

Michael Madison offers his .02 on the still-raging Google Print library debate:

In response to Siva’s post about Google Print and fair use, Laura Quilter weighs in, hoping to push the definition of "library" in Google’s direction — and toward a more expansive view of fair use.

e, it seems to me, is that it's hoping to provide "meta-information" about the underlying copyrighted works. Google has a few appellate cases in its corner — Kelly v. Arriba Soft to start with, then Ty v. Publications International, and (I'd say) Sony v. Bleem, and Triangle Publications v. Knight-Ridder. But Google has to deal with the scope of its project — which invites comparisons to less favorable opinions, like A&M Records v. Napster and UMG Recordings v. mp3.com (a district court case) — and it needs to couple its Kelly argument with leverage from cases approving "intermediate" copying under certain circumstances (e.g., Sega v. Accolade). The opt-out option makes Google look less like the bad guy, but it may not help the fair use claim — which I think is plausible but novel, and far from a slam dunk.

So, Laura suggests, Google should draw on the beneficence associated with "libraries" (think of George Carlin's description of baseball, which is all about going "home"). Even fair use skeptics have to agree: libraries do and should get a lot of slack under copyright law.

Is Google a library? Is there an "essence" of library — a definition — that Google can meet? Or can we say that Google is a library even if Google doesn't? Or what if Google says that it’s a library, but "we" (perhaps a court) say otherwise? Whose analysis gets deference? What if Google and a "real" library (Harvard? Stanford?) sign an agreement in which the contract specifies, whereas, Google and Stanford agree that Google provides library services via Google Print? Or should we simply conclude that Google should be characterized as a library because Google is doing something noble, and we all know that libraries are in the nobility business?

All of which is a roundabout way of suggesting that we should be focusing more on what Google does than on what Google is.

By the way, what if the service were named "Microsoft Print"? Or (since that sounds unfair to Microsoft) "Dr. Evil Print"?

Posted by dymaxion at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

Searching For Movie Reviews With The Movie Review Query Engine

Posted by dymaxion at 09:16 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2005


DesktopBSD aims at being a stable and powerful operating system for desktop users

Posted by dymaxion at 12:41 AM | Comments (0)

Google Posts New Total Size Number for Google Images

If you asked me yesterday after Yahoo's total index size announcement (web, images, audio databases) what I would be posting today I would have said that Google would post a new total size to one or more of their databases. I would have been correct. Google has now posted a new total image size count on the Google Images home page. The new total listed is 2,187,212,422 up from 1,305,093,600. Yes, that's nearly double. In yesterday's announcement Yahoo said their image database currently contains 1.6 billion images....

Posted by dymaxion at 12:16 AM | Comments (0)

Dukes of Hazzard Clearance

Via Phosita: Story on the $17.5 million clearance of rights of Dukes of Hazzard.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:13 AM | Comments (0)

It's Linux week in San Francisco...

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Open_Source.jpgLinuxWorld is in town and I haven't seen this much activity around a trade show in years. Actually, if you think about it, this is not surprising because it is becoming such a bedrock foundation of today's enterprise software world.

Linux, as the spearhead for the open source movement, has also become the metaphor for how to succeed in today's IT world. The metaphor is: take advantage of community property and layer your secret/proprietary sauce on top.

The interesting thing about LinuxWorld, and Linux in general, is the enormous amount of open source applications and technologies that are available. It's not just Linux, it's a ton of apps and technologies. Which means business opportunities in making all of this stuff work together.

The business opportunities are in the integration of stack/apps layers; offering complete ready-out-of-the-box-stacks; and, v. important, a one-stop one-page license (IP management tools.) Plus mixed-systems admin tools etc...

In terms of developing succesful business models based on open source technologies, the questions are: how far can you go in layering proprietary technologies on top of a "commons" infrastructure before you halt the community development process?

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Posted by dymaxion at 12:09 AM | Comments (0)

What's in the packet? There's no sign of it in th...

What's in the packet?

There's no sign of it in their website at this writing, but the folks at CacheLogic have recently conducted an updated study of what sort of content is moving on P2P networks. They found the following:

The mix of P2P traffic by volume, across the 4 major P2P networks:

  • Audio: 11.34%
  • Video: 61.44%
  • Other: 27.22%
Microsoft video formats represent 46% of aggregate worldwide P2P traffic

65% of all audio files by volume of traffic are still traded in the MP3 format, but fully 12.3% are in the open-source OGG file format (almost all exclusively traded on the BitTorrent network, particularly in Asia)

BitTorrent is increasingly being used for the distribution of legitimate content

eDonkey is now the network of choice for video file trading

I'm supposed to be having lunch with the company next week, and will report back.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

FedEx Throws A DMCA Fit Over Creative Use Of Their Boxes

Corporate lawyers really do have no sense of humor, do they? Recently, one of the popular sites that was getting linked and passed around was FedExFurniture.com. It was, like so many "pass around" sites, an amusing website that you looked at, laughed at, and moved on. A software engineer trying to save some money ended up building a bunch of furniture for his new apartment using sturdy FedEx boxes. If anything, it was a nice little advertisement for the quality of FedEx boxes. FedEx lawyers, on the other hand, saw otherwise. They sent him a takedown notice, somehow believing that the site infringed on the DMCA -- a law that has been misused more times than some of us can count. Luckily, the smart folks at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society agreed to take his case. They pointed out, quite correctly, that this case has nothing to do with copyright, and so the DMCA doesn't even remotely apply (mis-applied or not). If anything it's a trademark issue -- and even that is a weak claim. Would anyone going to the site actually think that it was FedEx's site? FedEx also claimed that this use of the boxes violated their terms of service, but as the folks at Stanford pointed out, there doesn't appear to be anything in the terms of service that prevents making furniture out of the boxes. This is another case where corporate lawyers completely overreacted to any use of their company's name. FedEx easily could have left this guy alone -- or, even better, encouraged him. It would have made for a great, amusing, advertisement for FedEx. Instead, they look like a bunch of bullies.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2005

Some amazing NASA Pictures

Considering the thousands of pictures that are shot from space how come we only get to see a handful those we get to see are simply amazing. [NASA]

Posted by dymaxion at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

U.S. Copyright Office Fumbles, Bit by Bit

The U.S. Copyright Office is soliciting opinions, through August 22d, about it's planned website upgrade that will require the use of Microsoft Internet Explorer, effectively banning most technically-advanced users and all Linux and open-source advocates from its service.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

RFID Passport Security Revisited

I've written previously (including this op ed in the International Herald Tribune) about RFID chips in passports. An article in today's USA Today (the paper version has a really good graphic) summarizes the latest State Department proposal, and it looks pretty good. They're addressing privacy concerns, and they're doing it right.

The most important feature they've included is an access-control system for the RFID chip. The data on the chip is encrypted, and the key is printed on the passport. The officer swipes the passport through an optical reader to get the key, and then the RFID reader uses the key to communicate with the RFID chip. This means that the passport-holder can control who has access to the information on the chip; someone cannot skim information from the passport without first opening it up and reading the information inside. Good security.

The new design also includes a thin radio shield in the cover, protecting the chip when the passport is closed. More good security.

Assuming that the RFID passport works as advertised (a big "if," I grant you), then I am no longer opposed to the idea. And, more importantly, we have an example of an RFID identification system with good privacy safeguards. We should demand that any other RFID identification cards have similar privacy safeguards.

EDITED TO ADD: There's more information in a Wired story:

The 64-KB chips store a copy of the information from a passport's data page, including name, date of birth and a digitized version of the passport photo. To prevent counterfeiting or alterations, the chips are digitally signed....

"We are seriously considering the adoption of basic access control," [Frank] Moss [the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for passport services] said, referring to a process where chips remain locked until a code on the data page is first read by an optical scanner. The chip would then also transmit only encrypted data in order to prevent eavesdropping.

like this access-control mechanism is not definite. In any case, I believe the system described in the USA Today article is a good one.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

Online Market-Making ... in Organ Transplants

The New England Journal of Medicine has a worried editorial in its current issue about the MatchingDonors.com website, which matches (live) organ donors with (live) would-be organ transplant recipients: [MatchingDonors.com] currently claims to have more than 2100 registered potential donors...

Posted by dymaxion at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

Skype Sale

From BusinessWeek, perhaps the worst-kept secret in technology, that Skype is officially on the block, albeit with the tidbit that Morgan Stanley is running the book and an IPO is more likely than a sale: Skype: On The Block Skype,...

Posted by dymaxion at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

Survey Says-VoIP Growth Sluggish

This report says VoIP is five years away from any real growth. I say that's about the time the legacy carriers will have absorbed the next gens, the old hardware in the CO's will have been written off and the public won't care if it's VoIP or PSTN, as they will just want new features for less money.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

SanDisk USB SD Card


I'm not sure how they came up with this one, but SanDisk's new Ultra II SD Plus memory card is one of the coolest things I've seen in awhile. When Gina sent me the link, my jaw about dropped at the ingenuity and simplicity of it all.

David Pogue writes about it in his Circuits Newsletter:

It turns out that SanDisk's SD Plus is a card with a twist--or, rather, a fold. Even though the card itself is smaller than a postage stamp, it's been built with teeny, tiny hinges. And when you fold it back on itself, you reveal a set of metal contacts that you can insert directly into the U.S.B. jack of your Mac or PC.

The card doesn't have an actual U.S.B. connector of the sort you find at the end of your camera's cable; it dispenses with the outer rectangle frame. All that really counts, it turns out, is those metal contacts.

That's it. The computer sees the card as an external drive--a flash drive, just as though you'd inserted the card into a card reader--and you can download the photos just as you always do. Except you've completely eliminated the need for an additional piece of gear that bridges your camera and your computer.

Now, that is something I call handy. And it looks like it's not much more than the regular SD version. Amazing.

Posted by dymaxion at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

BitTorrent, seeded, now waits for VC funds

Ashwin Navin has the self satisfied look of a cat that just licked a pint of cream. His eyes gleam, when he talks about BitTorrent, where he has a lofty title of chief operating officer. Navin, an investment banker-turned-Yahooligan doesn’t need a jolt of Starbucks double shot, when exulting about the future of his little start-up. In the ephemral world of digital content, Bit Torrent is as close to a sure thing, you can get.

All he has to do is mention Bram Cohen and Bit Torrent. In the ever mutating peer-to-peer networking universe, Cohen is like New York Yankees’ short stop, Derek Jeter. In less than two years, their client software which allows users to share big files such as video clips with remarkable ease through smart technology, has been downloaded nearly 45 million times. That’s about 100 million less than claims by Skype folks, but its only getting started. In less than a year, Bit Torrent has gone from being an illegal file sharing network to being the network that is being used to distribute legal content. “We are now in a position to promote free, or paid content,” says Navin. And that explains why MPAA and RIAA are both responding nicely to Bit Torrent’s overtures.

The Bit Torrent search engine, and soon a torrent directory service will bring the company one step closer to becoming an even more legitimate part of the broadband world. Navin explained that distributing video games, short video clips, ancillary audio information and software are key areas of focus for the company. Blizzard, Linspire and a slew of other companies have used Bit Torrent for content distribution over the Internet in recent past. [ If I am C/Net’s Download.com, I need to be worried, for Bit Torrent can quite easily replace their digital download directory. (Yahoo, how about stepping in, and buying this before it gets too expensive?)]

For now thanks to advertising dollars, donations from users and other projects, the company has enough to pay the bills, keep seven employees well fed, and hire another 13 by end of the year. How about more venture capital? I have heard rumors that Doll Capital might have invested in Bit Torrent. Navin says the company hasn’t taken any VC money thus far. “But we are opportunistic,” he says. Not that opportunity is not knocking on their door. A recent San Jose Mercury News article resulted in over a dozen VCs reaching out to the company. Bit Torrent could be one of those start-ups, that VCs can go nuts about.

Think about it. In today’s Silicon Valley, there is so much cash sloshing around, that some of the smartest money managers on the planet, the guys who have turned more pennies into dollars than I can even dream off, aka Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins, are ready to pump in $8.5 million into a promise of an aging hipster’s ability to turn podcasting into a mega-business. Or that, another equally pennywise bunch is ready to invest a few million more, in another Podcasting start-up, Odeo.

If those companies can snag millions, then Bit Torrent is definitely worth a lot more. Let me put it in the old world terms. The podcast start-ups of today are like Wine.com, while Bit Torrent is Cisco of the digital content revolution. It has actual technology that will help grow the open media. It has the technology that will help distribute the “video content” next generation bloggers will create or whatever. It is infrastructure - and we know who makes all the money. That explains the cat who licked the cream smile on Navin’s face.

Posted by dymaxion at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)

Does a Yahoo (YHOO) / Alibaba combination pose a threat to EBAY in China?

Forbes reported yesterday that Yahoo (ticker: YHOO) is negotiating to acquire a 35% stake in Alibaba for approximately $1 billion. S&P analyst Scott Kessler had the following reaction:

On Yahoo (ticker: YHOO)

....An unconfirmed report in Forbes.com indicates that Yahoo is in talks to acquire 35% of Alibaba for some $1 billion. Alibaba is a leading e-commerce company in China that owns payment service AliPay and about half of the consumer auction business Taobao. We think this potential deal would be quite complicated because of Softbank's stake in Taobao and Yahoo's joint venture with Sina Corp. (ticker: SINA). We think this constitutes a price/sales valuation that is pricey, but seems more reasonable given Alibaba's market position and notable interest in Chinese Internet properties.

On eBay (ticker: EBAY)

Via The China Stock Blog

Posted by dymaxion at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

Second Wave RFID : Bigger & More Velocity

Like many other nascent technologies, RFID has improved with age, writes BWeek. Excerpts with edits & comments:
RFID has become more reliable and less costly. Boeing says its RFID system works 99.8% of the time, failing to read just 21 tags out of more than 18,000 in six months. That's negligible compared to the occurrence of human error when deliveries are entered manually. RFID system costs have come down, finally making the technology's return on investment attractive. While several years ago, the simplest RFID tags cost $1 to $5, they now sell for 25 cents to 50 cents. And tag prices are still dropping - expected to reach 20 cents this fall as suppliers deploy new, materials-saving manufacturing processes. Now manufacturers are starting to incorporate RFID on their own accord, to better manage their inventory and to track work in progress, storage containers, and tools. Indeed, RFID adoption among manufacturers is about to go into high gear. As many as 40% of all U.S. manufacturers - in industries as diverse as aerospace, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, automotive, and mining - will deploy RFID by 2010, up from under 10% today, estimates Kara Romanow, an analyst with AMR Research. That's a tremendous jump, considering that most companies using RFID today are running only limited trials.

RFID suppliers should see a sharp escalation in demand in mid-2006. That's when manufacturers are expected to first start moving from pilot tests to large-scale RFID deployments as new, industry-standard RFID technology comes to market. Called Gen 2 RFID, these new readers and tags will be cheaper, a lot more accurate, and work at distances up to 30% longer than their predecessors. With Gen 2, it would be far more easy to implement RFID. RFID no longer requires a mountain of special add-ons to corporate networks. Manufacturers that have installed Wi-Fi, a wireless broadband access technology, on their factory floors can use these networks to capture information from RFID tags without the help of RFID readers. Major customization and tweaking of corporate software systems have become unnecessary, too. RFID feeds, for example, will be a standard part of Microsoft' enterprise-resource-management software, used to track products through the manufacturing process and due for release in the first half of 2006. Tools and equipment vendors are starting to make RFID a standard part of their wares used by manufacturers to improve asset management. Business-intelligence software helps managers analyze daily trends in inventory buildup. In the future, RFID's importance for making business decisions will grow, as the tags start incorporating more memory as well as a slew of sensors, recording things like temperature and noise levels

Category :

Posted by dymaxion at 09:16 PM | Comments (0)

Anti-Skimming in Japan

The following short article excerpt from RFID Japan shows the increasing concern over skimming, or the surreptitious acquisition of RF encoded information, say in a card in your wallet. There have been a number of 'blocking' devices proposed, but the interest in the US has been minimal. A more advanced version of this is called a blocker tag, the idea is covered in Garfinkel and Rosenberg's recent book: RFID Applications ... (p. 332-) The use of RF encoded mass-transit cards in Japan have made it an interesting testbed for this. Reliability or even necessity is unclear, since reads typically occur at only a few cm. Lining your purse or wallet with metal foil might work just as well! Skimming also occurs with ordinary bar codes, typically at an ATM.

...Takashimaya, which is one of the largest retailers in Japan, now sells anti-skimming cards called "Sherry" at their department stores. Consumers can just put the cards in their wallets in order to prevent their RFID-chipped train passes etc. from skimming attacks. The anti-skimming card functions by creating "reverse" electro-magnetic field ...

Posted by dymaxion at 08:52 PM | Comments (0)

Manhattan Air Flow Mapping

Urban Dispersion Program’s 180 “tracer” boxes and 6 vans have been/are tracking air flow patterns of deliberately released harmless gas in NYC to create a computer simulated model in preparation for chemical attacks. [real-time VRML simulation (West Village)] [gallery]

via Wired

Posted by dymaxion at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2005

Media Madness

I've been a bit delayed from posting because I've been completely swamped by media. As I've joked before, I'm a lot like David Hasselhoff: big in Germany. :-)

But a fair amount of my time was spent this morning trying to complain about a rather absurd story published by Reuters which claims that I've announced some major changes to Wikipedia editorial policy. It's a fine story except for the tiny detail of being completely false.

Of course slashdot and a ton of newspapers and websites picked up the story and ran with it, causing a fair amount of speculation based on, well, absolutely nothing.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

First Test of New Anti-Camcorder Law (Alan Wexelblat)

Reuters report (here on Washingtonpost.com) that a 19 year old is to be the first person in the US charged under a new law that criminalizes the act of recording the image off a movie theater screen.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

The Mother of Acrimonious Acronyms (Donna Wentworth)

As Cardozo law professor Susan Crawford recently noted, there are a lot of "acrimonious acronyms" in the battle over the future of the Internet. One of the most dangerous: the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act, better known as CALEA.

Back in the Clinton era, the FBI asked for a law to force all telecommunications companies to build backdoors into their networks for easy government spying. As part of the desperate Capitol Hill horse-trading before CALEA was passed, privacy advocates won a concession: the new law would not apply to providers of information services such as email and Internet access. But as of Friday, that's no longer the case. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued an advisory stating that it has granted the FBI's request to expand the scope of CALEA to include Internet broadband providers and certain Voice-over-IP (VoIP) providers.

So what does this mean in practical terms? It means the government will be asking broadband providers -- as well as companies that manufacture devices used for broadband communications -- to build insecure backdoors into their networks, imperiling the privacy and security of citizens on the Internet. It also means that technological innovation will be hobbled as companies involved in broadband are forced to redesign their products to meet government specs.

This is bad news on multiple levels. "Expanding CALEA to the Internet is contrary to the statute and is a fundamentally flawed public policy," says Kurt Opsahl in EFF's press release. "This misguided tech mandate endangers the privacy of innocent people, stifles innovation, and risks the functionality of the Internet as a forum for free and open expression."

And the government isn't stopping there. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is asking airlines to build similar backdoors into the phone and data networks on airplanes. EFF and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) last week submitted joint comments [PDF] with the FCC to oppose this unprecedented, sweeping new technology design mandate and anticipatory wiretapping system.

As the press release points out, the proposal to expand CALEA to airline broadband illustrates the fallacy of law enforcement's rationale for its CALEA request. To avoid the statute's carefully crafted compromise -- the total exclusion of information services from the CALEA's reach -- the DOJ argues that CALEA covers broadband services because they have "substantially replaced" the local telephone exchange. But airplane communications have hardly "substantially replaced" local telephone services. This request is about opening the door for CALEA to cover just about anything.

EFF's CALEA FAQ gives it to you short and not-so-sweet:

Q: "Is the FBI trying to dictate how the Internet should be engineered to permit whatever level of surveillance the FBI deems necessary?"

hat the FBI is really asking for is a massive overhaul of how the Internet works to make it easier for federal agents to listen in on people's digital conversations. EFF believes that law enforcement should not be allowed to have veto power over proposed innovations to the Internet in order to make spying easier. In addition, federal agencies should not force the broadband industry -- and by extension, its consumers -- to bear the considerable costs of purchasing and implementing surveillance-ready network technologies simply because it suits the government's needs."

In other words, the government not only wants service providers to make your private communications easily open to government surveillance, it also wants the providers -- and therefore you, the customer -- to pay for it.

For more on the FCC and CALEA, check out FCC Schizo on DSL, Wiretapping and Justice Department Effort to Eavesdrop on Airline Passengers Challenged.

(Cross-posted @ Deep Links.)

Posted by dymaxion at 10:44 PM | Comments (0)

US Venture Capital Stats

I'm actually surprised to see SoCal rank as high as they did.


Posted by dymaxion at 10:40 PM | Comments (0)

P2P Population Reaches Record High in July

Although summer months are typically the P2P slow season, there were more people using P2P than ever before in July.

June 2005 saw a record of 8,888,436 simultaneous users. This number would jump over a half a million to hit 9,496,203 in July. This marks a substantial increase, considering it took the P2P population almost six months (January 05 to June 05) to grow the same amount. The P2P population in the United States, where file-sharers are most subject to copyright enforcement, saw its population grow from 6.5 million to 6.87 million in the last two months, according to BigChampagne.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

Massive spyware-based identity theft ring uncovered

Security software company, Sunbelt Software, has uncovered a massive identity theft ring that stems from a popular piece of spyware called CoolWebSearch.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

Wikipedia wants to remain free

It is being reported that Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, is considering "tightening" editorial control. This comes as news to the Wikipedia people.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

Report: Google To Acquire IM Social Networker Meetroduction

: Google is on the verge of acquiring Chicago-based Meetroduction LLC, makers of location-aware social networking software Meetro, according to InternetNews.com. Not bad considering the software just launched Aug. 4 and the company was founded in October 2004 by Paul Bragiel and Wendell Davis.
The idea of using software to match people in geographic proximity isn't new. In fact, in May Google acq-hired Dodgeball, a service that sends out messages by mobile phone whenever someone wants to get together with people in a certain geographic area.
What makes this different is IM -- Meetro combines IM with local buddy finding. You can look for people (who want to be found) who have similar interests and are located within a certain distance. It works with multiple versions including Yahoo, AIM and ICQ; no MSN or Jabber yet.
This adds to the rumors of Google's interest in offering its own IM. The company needs to be stickier and that's one way of doing it.
Related: Google Acquires Mobile Networking Company Dodgeball

Posted by dymaxion at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

Is The FCC Contradicting Itself With Degregulation And Wiretapping?

Following the FCC's ruling to deregulate DSL it also made it clear that it plans to require many VoIP providers and potentially broadband providers to allow for easy wire tapping, forcing them under CALEA, the wiretapping law. This certainly fits with the FCC's new principles where law enforcement has total control over everything. However, it has some wondering if the FCC is contradicting itself (the term schizophrenic is misused by Declan McCullough), by deregulating one area while increasing regulations in another. In fact, he notes that in order for broadband to be covered under CALEA, it clearly needs to be a "telecom service," which is exactly what the FCC just said it wasn't in getting it out from under old telecom rules. The reality is, however, that the FCC is following its new principles exactly. The pecking order is clearly stated: law enforcement has the most rights, network providers are second, and "everyone else" is last. So, regulation is okay for law enforcement to be allowed in. Deregulation on line sharing helps out the network providers, and the rest of us get to beg for scraps.

Posted by dymaxion at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

TECH TALK: Next-Generation Networks: VDSL

In this week’s columns, we will look at some network technologies: VDSL, WiMax, 3G and 4G, and Broadband over power lines. We’ll start by taking a look at VDSL.

Very high bit-rate DSL (VDSL) can be thought of as the successor to ADSL (Asymmetric digital subscriber line) technology. Both work on regular telephone lines and as much are one of the most important wired broadband technologies. In India, BSNL and MTNL have launched DSL services across the country. Give the fact that unbundling of the local loop doesn’t seem likely for the foreseeable future, DSL offerings from the incumbent telcos is going to be the best bet for getting high-speed connectivity into homes and enterprises in the near-term.

HowStuffWorks writes about VDSL:

VDSL operates over the copper wires in your phone line in much the same way that ADSL does, but there are a couple of distinctions. VDSL can achieve incredible speeds, as high as 52 Mbps downstream (to your home) and 16 Mbps upstream (from your home). That is much faster than ADSL, which provides up to 8 Mbps downstream and 800 Kbps (kilobits per second) upstream. But VDSL's amazing performance comes at a price: It can only operate over the copper line for a short distance, about 4,000 feet (1,200 m)…The key to VDSL is that the telephone companies are replacing many of their main feeds with fiber-optic cable.

transceiver in your home and a VDSL gateway in the junction box, the distance limitation is neatly overcome. The gateway takes care of the analog-digital-analog conversion problem that disables ADSL over fiber-optic lines. It converts the data received from the transceiver into pulses of light that can be transmitted over the fiber-optic system to the central office, where the data is routed to the appropriate network to reach its final destination. When data is sent back to your computer, the VDSL gateway converts the signal from the fiber-optic cable and sends it to the transceiver. All of this happens millions of times each second!

Dave Burstein discusses about the use of VDSL by Bell South in the US: “SBC is selling satellite to 50% of their users -a fancy TIVO style set top and a slow DSL connection, and upgrading the rest to low profile VDSL2 they call fiber to the node. From the projected 2,000-5,000 feet, low profile VDSL2 is maybe 20 meg down, 1-3 meg up, most of which will be used for their video…BellSouth has 13 million lines, a million of which have fiber to the curb from a quiet build begun years ago, yes. Those are the lucky ones, because they will be upgraded to 100 meg symmetric VDSL over the next few years. Think 60 megs in practice, but still pretty good. BellSouth has just picked that build up to 200,000 lines for 2005 after slowing down for a few; unfortunately, at that rate it will take them fifty years to complete their rollout. ..Nominally ADSL2+, will morph into VDSL2 low profile soon. But VDSL2 low profile really is a slightly improved ADSL2+ (2-5 meg faster at these distances), not the 100 meg ‘high profile’ that only works 500-1000 feet they are using for the lucky fiber to the curb types.”

A July 2004 News.com report about South Korea discussed its VDSL adoption: “In Korea, large apartment buildings make it relatively simple for a telecommunications company to draw a fiber line to the basement and then provide VDSL (very high speed digital subscriber line). VDSL can offer as much as 50 to 100 megabits of service over short copper lines, so it is well-suited to these buildings. But the technology doesn't work so well in the United States, where the distance between homes and the telephone company's central offices are often large. As a result, the big phone companies say they are avoiding VDSL for the most part and looking instead to install fiber optics as a next-generation technology.”

In this context, it is also interesting to read the view of UGO Online (December 2004) about Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH): “An ideal implementation of the service will eliminate any need for dedicated telephone lines, satellites, TV cabling etc, as everything will be delivered on the one high speed optical line straight to your house. The exact details of such a system are not set in stone, but generally existing telephone exchanges will act as the hub to which the fiber is connected to, inserting all of the available services into the line to each house with high reliability and low maintenance…Besides the questionable reach of FTTH, there is also the matter of equipment costs. Laying cable is never cheap, which is why Cable Internet has failed to provide a widespread broadband solution. But the real costs come with the end user equipment…Whilst FTTH is by far the most impressive and feature-filled technology on display here, the likeliness of it ever reaching a wide audience isn't very high, at least not in the near future.”

Given that a lot of fibre backbones exist in India, what the telcos should be looking to do is to upgrade the last-mile infrastructure to offer higher speeds into Indian homes and enterprises with VDSL.

Tomorrow: WiMax

Posted by dymaxion at 09:40 PM | Comments (0)

Cache Checking Tool

Jim at WeBuildPages pinged me about their new Google cache tool over the weekend. I just got a chance to try it and it's pretty neat. It will take a url, spider that page to find internal links, then check each one of those pages to see if it's cached or not. It groups the pages into cached...

Posted by dymaxion at 09:21 PM | Comments (0)

Howard Stern Sues Google Over Interpretation Of Daily AdWords Limits

Posted by dymaxion at 09:09 PM | Comments (0)

Personalized Medicine: A Step Toward The $1,000 Personal Genome Using Readily Available Lab Equipment

Boston, MA -- August 4, 2005 -- The theoretical price of having one's personal genome sequenced just fell from the prohibitive $20 million dollars to about $2.2 million, and the goal is to reduce...

Posted by dymaxion at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)

Wikipedia To Freeze Entries?

For Wikipedia there have long been two problems: How to stop vandalism and how to create a product that could be considered ‘stable’ and ‘complete’ enough to burn to CD — in short a releasable version of the encyclopedia.

Maybe they’re close to an answer. Reuters is quoting founder Jimmy Wales as saying that he plans to impose stricter editorial rules to prevent vandalism of its content:

In an interview with German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Wales, who launched Wikipedia with partner Larry Sanger in 2001, said it needed to find a balance between protecting information from abuse and providing open access to improve entries.

"There may soon be so-called stable contents. In this case, we'd freeze the pages whose quality is undisputed," he said.

Citing a recent example of vandalism, Wales recalled how following the election of the new Pope Benedict in April, a user substituted the pontiff's photo on the Wikipedia site with that of the evil emperor from the Star Wars film series.

"The picture was only on the page for a minute. But whoever opens the article at this moment will get annoyed -- and therefore doubt our credibility," he told the paper.

Here’s how he might do it:

He said that setting up a form of "commission" might be one way of deciding which entries could be "frozen" in perpetuity.

My understanding is that this has been discussed for a while. I think it’s a great idea, not least because it would be great to see hard copy versions, and CD-Roms, of Wikipedia despatched to the schools and libraries of the world where its rich pool of information could be accessed by those without an Internet connection. I know the schools of Indonesia, where I am at the moment, could do with it.

Posted by dymaxion at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

Was the News Corp Offer for Skype Real?

Was the story that News Corp nearly bought Skype for $3 billion really true? British paper the Independent on Sunday seems to think so:

 According to well-placed sources, Skype entered into talks with News Corp over a potential $3bn sale. This would have made a massive profit for the two founders and their backers - Hotmail investor Howard Hartenbaum and four venture capital firms - which together put just $20m into the business.

However, talks fell apart last month, just before Rupert Murdoch's son Lachlan quit his father's empire. Skype would have fitted in well with News Corp's satellite TV interests, which include controlling minorities in DirecTV in the US and BSkyB in the UK.

This was originally reported a week or so ago by the PBS’ Bob Cringely, but lacked sourcing and was knocked down by several folk, including Techdirt.

Unfortunately The Independent’s sourcing is not much clearer than Cringely’s:

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is understood to have made a bid approach to the fast- growing internet phone group, Skype, which may have valued the two-year-old operation at almost $3bn (£1.7bn).

ks have broken down and Skype has denied it is for sale. But sources in the telecoms industry say they expect it to be taken over shortly.

Anyway, one potential clue about the sourcing is in the last paragraph:

Bob Cringely, a US technology expert, said: "What's most interesting about News Corp and Skype isn't that the deal fell through, but that News Corp even knew Skype was available."

="ltr">So, was Bob a well-placed source for this story, or just a commenter?

Posted by dymaxion at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

Amazon's Long Tail Not So Long

By tim Chris Anderson, whose original "Long Tail" article in Wired claimed that Amazon gained a remarkable 57% of its sales from books not available in brick and mortar stores, now retracts that number. Based on a recalibration, working with Amazon rank maven Morris Rosenthal, he now estimates the Amazon tail to be between 20 and 36%. Still a nice part of Amazon's revenue, but not as shocking as originally estimated.

Posted by dymaxion at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

Google Earth Reactor

This sounds like April Fool's; News.com.au reports the head of Australia's nuclear energy agency, Dr. Ian Smith, said he would ask Google to remove the Lucas Heights reactor from its Google Earth program, adding: "There's a small area near the mi ...

Posted by dymaxion at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

Abandoning Broadband Competition, Fairness

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission has given the regional phone monopolies exactly what they wanted: permission to stifle DSL competition on "their" lines. As the New York Times reports:

Under current rules, carriers like Verizon and SBC are required to lease their digital subscriber lines to these rivals at negotiated rates. The prices are slightly less than what they charge retail customers, typically $30 a month. The actual discount is based on the number of lines leased. Under the new rules, after a one-year transition, phone companies will no longer be required to share their lines at reduced rates.
It's important -- vital -- to discuss the word "their" in this context, because it disguises a reality that the phone giants, as well as their congressional and FCC lapdogs, are worried that you might consider.

Posted by dymaxion at 08:10 PM | Comments (0)

Boas Notícias


As últimas notícias relativas à gripe da aves são animadoras: os EUA têm em fase adiantada de investigação uma nova vacina e o nosso Ministério da Saúde tem preparado um plano de contingência pronto a ser accionado em caso de pandemia.

ério da Saúde tem preparado um plano nacional de contingência, coordenado pelo sub Director Geral de Saúde , Francisco George, para actuar num cenário de pandemia provocada pelo vírus da gripe das aves, o H5N1. Este plano nacional prevê para o combate à pandemia a utilização da vacina e de medicamentos antivirais específicos (ozeltamivir)



p>O sucesso obtido nos primeiros testes (com base num pequeno número de casos: 113 em 452 ), obrigam a uma melhor avaliação da nova vacina antes da sua autorização e lançamento no mercado.
Nesta altura o factor crítico é o tempo, ou seja, ultimar a avaliação da vacina antes da eclosão da pandemia.
Depois há que decidir entre avançar de imediato com a vacinação das populações ou esperar pela evidência de que o vírus (H5N1) se transmite eficientemente de pessoa para pessoa.

A Successful Vaccine alone is not enough to prevent Avian Flu Epidemic (link)

From Saúde SA (feed)
See also links to this feed and more from this feed

Posted by dymaxion at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

August 4 Flu Update

CIDRAP has the news of two NIH funded studies that analyze containment strategies for the flu. The plan is to "nip it in the bud" with highly focused resources.

Michael Osterholm, Director of CIDRAP, had this to say in comment:

"I want these strategies to work," infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, told CIDRAP News. "But in all my years in public health, I have yet to see mathematical models that have driven public health actions in meaningful ways." Osterholm used HIV and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) as examples of diseases for which there have been what he calls a "pandemic of modeling studies."

"My concern is that papers like these suggest more direction for planning than is warranted and may placate policymakers who believe the planning puzzle has clear solutions. . . . The issue of antiviral treatment, for example, has to be looked at against the whole system of disease occurrence and transmission. How well can we detect the disease when it starts occurring? How can we make sure travelers who appear healthy aren't unknowingly spreading the virus?" Osterholm, who is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, publisher of this Web site, used as illustration the example of SARS' fast jump from the Far East to Canada in 2003.

Osterholm also made the point that since a flu pandemic will very likely be caused by a mutation of the H5N1 virus currently spreading among birds in Asia, we will be facing a "reloading" problem at the source—that since birds are a reservoir that is constantly replenished, "We are dealing with a moving target, not a static population like humans. . . . Culling [the birds] won't work. It's like throwing fresh wood on a fire."

Here's an NIH link to the study.

Here's a WHO link.

The Daily Mail in the UK has its take on this...something along the lines of scientists say it can be "stopped in its tracks."

WaPo is a little more reasonable, on the order of a theory.

The Times of London notes, correctly, that the key is "decisive action" would be required under the plan.

Effect Measure drops the bomb on these studies, despite that he respects the people who did them. Note these quotes:

...it must be said again: once this virus gains the capability of being transmitted from person to person like other influenza subtypes that circulate in human populations, there will be no way to prevent its global spread.


So I hate to disagree with Elizabeth Halloran of Emory, an infectious disease epidemiologist of note and a genuine expert. In her view, as reported by the BBC,
"Our findings indicate that we have reason to be somewhat hopeful.

"If - or, more likely, when - an outbreak occurs in humans, there is a chance of containing it and preventing a pandemic."
There is no reason at all to be hopeful.

As always, the comments are excellent on Effect Measure.

Tyler Cowen on Avian Flu has a nice post, too.

Note that Thailand, or similar places, has not had the past facility to stop malaria, or even to provide clean drinking water to its rural populations. Measures of these kinds will limit deaths, and should be taken, but they are highly unlikely to stop a pandemic from spreading, should one get started.

Here is a Reuters timeline that spells out the march of the bird flu through Asia.

Reuters bird flu fact sheet.

Roche is in discussions to donate a substantial amount of Tamiflu to WHO.

In Vietnam, there were three news human cases in July.

From Russia, flu threatens European Russia.

Fiji is on the case to fight the pandemic.

Vietnam is vaccinating poultry.

Recombinomics on the spread of bird flu in Russia.

Staggering....Recombinomics says 70% of waterfowl in Mekong Delta are bird flu positive.

Crofsblogs points us to the disease section on boxun.

From The Coming Influenza Pandemic? (feed)
See also links to this feed and more from this feed

Posted by dymaxion at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2005

Rome Best Spots Now Offer Free Wi-Fi

Rome, just like New York, Philadelphia and a growing number of other cities around the world has just opened up a series of free wi-fi hotspots in the most beautiful and publicly accessible parts of the city. Since this week anyone carrying a laptop can sit and freely connect to the Internet from the greens of Piazza di Siena, the nearby Cinema Home (La Casa del Cinema), the Casina Valadier or from anyone of 20…

Direct and Related Links for 'Rome Best Spots Now Offer Free Wi-Fi'

Posted by dymaxion at 01:28 AM | Comments (0)

DNS - The achilles heel of the Internet

This is a topic that just isn't getting the attention it deserves considering that it's a fundamental underpinning of the Internet as we know it today. Most of the DNS servers out there run BIND despite that fact that almost all of these implementations have at least 1 of a dozen known security vulnerabilities... which in itself would be a manageable issue were it not for the fact that most DNS servers run outside of a firewalled environment. It's no wonder that hackers have infiltrated so many DNS servers.

Link: DNS - The achilles heel of the Internet.

CNET has a good article on the vulnerability of the Internet to DNS cache poisoning attacks. Turns out that more than 10% of DNS servers could already be compromised and I think its very important that ISP's and enterprises fix this problem immediately.

Posted by dymaxion at 01:15 AM | Comments (0)

FCC likely to deregulate DSL

The FCC appears set to change its classification of DSL as a telecommunications service. If that happens, expect to see a lot less choice when it comes to DSL service.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:57 AM | Comments (0)

DogPiles On

DogpileDogpile announced today that it has results from all four major engines, and plugged a study (download) that shows results do not overlap as much as we might thing. SEW has an article about that study here.

From Dogpile's release:

Dogpile announced the integration of search results from MSN Search to their industry-leading metasearch technology that combines the best results from the Web’s top search engines. With this announcement, Dogpile will be the exclusive home to all four of the Web’s leading search engines—MSN Search, Google, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves.

While most people believe search results across all four engines are the same, the reality is the vast majority of the results from each engine are different and do not overlap. This fact was validated by a new study conducted jointly at the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania State University... (which found that) only 1.1% of page one results were the same on all four engines.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

More on Yahoo's Push Down the Long Ad Tail

YpnYahoo is getting a lot of coverage for its move into Google's domain, here's a roundup and a few thoughts.

The New York Times has a piece quoting yours truly:

Yahoo says its new small-site service will let a Web site specify what categories of advertising it does or does not want on a given page. Moreover, Yahoo will offer a telephone number that even small publishers can call for help, something that Google does not make readily available.

pears to be focusing on a weakness in Google's offering for small publishers, said John Battelle, a blogger and author of "The Search," a book on Google and its rivals to be published in September by Portfolio Hardcover.

"Google is the 800-pound gorilla and until now there aren't even any chimps around," he said. "You hear two complaints over and over again: They are a black box and you can't get anyone on the phone to help you."

I've already gotten a couple of raised eyebrows from my pals at Google, but guys, don't be defensive, I'm just the messenger here. Yahoo is doing what you might expect a competitor to do - hit ya where you're soft.

Jensense reports some of her initial thoughts as a user. SEW as usual has a report. YPN is only available as an invitation beta, I have been invited to check it out, and plan to in my copious spare time.

The Wall Street Journal (free link) rounds up all the action in Google's once solely owned space, including from MSFT.

Microsoft next week will announce that an invitation-only test of MSN Keywords will begin in October with 500 advertisers and search-engine marketing specialists. The service will move MSN closer to how Google handles advertising, by using live auctions of keywords. MSN Keywords is one tool of a broader set of new advertising services called adCenter that Microsoft is building on MSN. Microsoft executives say they hope the tools will allow companies to tailor advertisements by giving them more detailed information on Web users than is currently available.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

Flickr Delivers PhotoRank

Flickr Logo BetaDon't get fooled by all the new features in the flickr update, the real news is photorank. As the flickr blog item states:

The other new feature is called interestingness and it's huge! A long time in the making, interestingness is a ranking algorithm based on user behavior around the photos taking into account some obvious things like how many users add the photo to their favorites and some subtle things like the relationship between the person who uploaded the photo and the people who are commenting (plus a whole bunch of secret sauce).

Watch this space.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:14 AM | Comments (0)

The Document Destruction Business Is Booming Thanks To Identity Theft Worries

A few months ago, a set of videos of massive shredding machines destroying all sorts of stuff (computers, appliances, furniture, cans, batteries, etc.) made the usual rounds of blogs and email forwards. If it made you wonder about being in the business of destroying stuff with huge shredding machines, you might be happy to know that the business is booming -- mainly because of fears about identity theft. You may have gone out and bought a little personal shredder for your own personal papers (those are hot items as well), but big companies need a bigger solution apparently. They send out all of their paper to be shredded on a massive scale, and that's allowed the companies who own those shredders to grow quickly. So, while all this identity theft is causing some companies to lose business, it apparently is helping out some other industries -- and that leaves them free to run fun experiments like destroying concrete in a steel drum, a couch or even a BMW (though, the video on that one specifically notes that the product is not recommended as a regular car shredder).

Posted by dymaxion at 12:11 AM | Comments (0)

Eavesdropping on Bluetooth Automobiles

This is impressive:

This new toool is called The Car Whisperer and allows people equipped with a Linux Laptop and a directional antenna to inject audio to, and record audio from bypassing cars that have an unconnected Bluetooth handsfree unit running. Since many manufacturers use a standard passkey which often is the only authentication that is needed to connect.

This tool allows to interact with other drivers when traveling or maybe used in order to talk to that pushy Audi driver right behind you ;) . It also allows to eavesdrop conversations in the inside of the car by accessing the microphone.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

Finally Apple Releases a New Mouse.

Apple MouseApple has finally released a mouse that has more then one button. The 360 degree scrolling mouse has the same look as the current mice with no split buttons on the top, the buttons are all hidden and work with simple wrist movements. As with everything Apple designs, it’s unique, beautiful and very functional. The scroll ball lets you move in any direction with a touch of your finger.

Apple calls it the Mighty Mouse and it’s retailing for $49.00. You can learn more about it at Apple.com

Posted by dymaxion at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2005

Software Goes Free

Phil Wainewright writes: "The price of software is inexorably grinding towards zero. Software is becoming infrastructure, and that infrastructure is progressively becoming commoditized. A key part of this evolution is the abstraction of application logic out of software and into standards-compliant XML documents. Once all of the identities and rules that define a set of processes (ie an application) can be expressed as XML, then creating or modifying an application becomes an editing task rather than a programming job. That editing task will still have to paid for, and it might well accumulate intellectual property of some value — but the money will not go to software developers. Some software experts will earn a living from operating the infrastructure that processes the XML documents. But the infrastructure itself will be built with open-source software."

Posted by dymaxion at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

China increases censorship, restricts foreign film co-productions

We must strengthen censorship of, and volume controls on, imported television dramas, cartoons, and television programs, declares China’s proposed edict. Co-productions between Chinese and foreign film and television makers will face stricter censorship. “In the near future there will be no more approvals for setting up cultural import agencies. Import of cultural products contrary to regulations will be punished.” [New York Times: Business]

Censorship of political speech is routine, and the Communist Party ruthlessly suppresses any protests and organizations that it considers threats to its power … The support that the Communist Party of China has among the Chinese population is unclear, as there are no national elections … [Wikipedia: People’s Republic of China]

Posted by dymaxion at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)

OPEN SHOOT Open Source Cinema

Nicolas Morel in Brussels is starting an initiative in open-source cinema, OPEN SHOOT. The project is starting by recruiting a management team. [Open Shoot] [Brian Flemming]

Posted by dymaxion at 11:31 PM | Comments (0)

IE7 & Web Standards

Signs of change at Microsoft?. Earlier this week a Microsoft developer commented that the Acid2 Standards Challenge was more of a guideline for Microsoft than a rule. This led ultimately to folks like Paul Thurrott calling for a boycott of IE7. CNET has penned a piece that ex..

Posted by dymaxion at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

Has Zone Labs Lost It?

Latest release again plagued by problems. Over the last few months, upgrading your Zone Alarm software firewall has been a lot like playing Russian Roulette. That trend continues with the release of version 6.0, which isn't getting a warm welcome in the Zone Labs forums. Says one user: "V..

Posted by dymaxion at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

The Mozilla Corporation is Born

"The revenue we have made is almost accidental, it was not initially expected but it happened, so we needed to evolve the legal structure and fiscal structure to reflect this."

Posted by dymaxion at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

How To Burn DVDs for Video Playback


PC World has a detailed tutorial onhow to install a DVD drive and transfer videotape to DVD. The main reason why you'd want do do this? "Create DVDs from videotape, make large-scale data backups, use as a 4.7GB drag-and-drop drive."

It doesn't appear to be too complicated and the majority of the costs lie in the DVD burner itself.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

Andersen pays $25 million to settle Global Crossing lawsuit

Anderson’s house of accounting horrors has decided to settle the lawsuit brought by investors in its role over the collapse of Global Crossing for $25 million. Earlier, Citigroup settled its share of the lawsuit for $75 million. WebCPA reports that the deal was reached yesterday. Funny how right political connections helped Global Crossing mob-bosses get away mostly scott free, while Bernie faces life behind bars. The criminality of Global Crossing was no less than WorldCon. That is the truest injustice of the broadband bubble. The Andersen settlement will bring the total to $345 million that defendants have agreed to pay to investors, WebCPA adds.

Posted by dymaxion at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

Baidu raises IPO price range (BIDU)

Baidu (ticker: BIDU) filed another amended F-1 today increasing the number of ADSs being sold in the IPO to 4.04 million and raising the IPO price range to $23 - $25 per ADS. The filing assumes a $24 IPO price and net proceeds to the company of $68.0 million. The IPO is expected Friday.

More on Baidu's latest results here and an analysis of the IPO here.

Posted by dymaxion at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

A must-read comment on the Baidu IPO (BIDU)

Here is a comment about the upcoming Baidu IPO from a reader of The China Stock Blog:

JR wrote:

....I ran some calculations here... assuming 100% revenue growth year-over-year (about 20% sequentially) for the next 7 quarters, and assuming that their net margin will get closer to their 20% operating margin, we can expect about $60 million in revenue and $10 million in net income for 2006. At $25 a share, that would mean a forward PE over 70 !!! The rest of the Chinese online companies have forward PEs of below 20 and they have a respectable double-digit yoy growth.

I am not saying that at $25 BIDU is not fairly valued - the price is the effect of the available supply and demand. I am saying that if someone is going to buy at that price, they must buy it for the momentum and the hype factor, not for a buy-and-hold investment, and they must watch carefully for early signs of exhaustion of the trend to get out in time. A longer term investment may be justified at much lower

Posted by dymaxion at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

The Birth Of Google

John Battelle writes,It began with an argument. It was hardly love at first sight. The two clashed incessantly, debating, among other things, the value of various approaches to urban planning. At stanford, Page began searching for a topic for his doctoral thesis. It was an important decision. He kicked around 10 or so intriguing ideas, but found himself attracted to the burgeoning World Wide Web. Page noticed that while it was trivial to follow links from one page to another, it was nontrivial to discover links back. Tim Berners-Lee's desire to improve this system that led him to create the World Wide Web. And it was Larry Page and Sergey Brin's attempts to reverse engineer Berners-Lee's World Wide Web that led to Google. The needle that threads these efforts together is citation - the practice of pointing to other people's work in order to build up your own.
Page reasoned that the entire Web was loosely based on the premise of citation - after all, what is a link but a citation? If he could divine a method to count and qualify each backlink on the Web, as Page puts it "the Web would become a more valuable place." At the time the computing resources required to crawl such a beast were well beyond the usual bounds of a student project. Unaware of exactly what he was getting into, Page began building out his crawler. In March 1996, Page pointed his crawler at just one page - his homepage at Stanford - and let it loose. The crawler worked outward from there. Inspired by citation analysis, Page realized that a raw count of links to a page would be a useful guide to that page's rank. He also saw that each link needed its own ranking, based on the link count of its originating page. But such an approach creates a difficult and recursive mathematical challenge - you not only have to count a particular page's links, you also have to count the links attached to the links. The math gets complicated rather quickly. Together, Page and Brin created a ranking system that rewarded links that came from sources that were important and penalized those that did not. Page and Brin's breakthrough was to create an algorithm - dubbed PageRank after Page - that manages to take into account both the number of links into a particular site and the number of links into each of the linking sites.Not only was the engine good, but Page and Brin realized it would scale as the Web scaled. Because PageRank worked by analyzing links, the bigger the Web, the better the engine. That fact inspired the founders to name their new engine Google, after googol, the term for the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeroes. They released the first version of Google on the Stanford Web site in August 1996 - one year after they met .

Category :

Posted by dymaxion at 09:45 PM | Comments (0)

Technorati & Blogosphere Growth

Technorati seems to have improved a lot - their recent Performance & Scale Up Efforts seem to be working very well for them. Dave sifry has come out with his periodically published update of blogosphere growth - everytime he comes with a update , the mindbogling growth seen in the blogosphere is simply amazing. Dave notes that the blogosphere has been growing at an explosive rate - Technorati is now indexing over 14 million blogs, with about 80,000 new blogs created every day.

That's about a new blog created every second! And there's about 900,000 new posts every day, which means about 37,500 posts per hour that Technorati is indexing
. Key Findings :
- Technorati was tracking over 14.2 Million weblogs and over 1.3 billion links in July 2005
- The blogosphere continues to double about every 5.5 months
- A new blog is created about every second, there are over 80,000 created daily
- About 55% of all blogs are active, and that has remained a consistent statistic for at least a year
- About 13% of all blogs are updated at least weekly
- Technorati is tracking about 900,000 blog posts created every day, That's about 10.4 blog posts per second, on average.
- Median time from posting to inclusion in the Technorati index is under 5 minutes
- Significant increases in posting volume are due to increased mainstream use of easy hosted tools as well as simple posting interfaces like post-from-IM and moblogging tools
- Weekends tend to be slower posting days by about 5-10% of the weekly averages
- During the day, posting tends to peak between the hours of 7AM and noon Pacific time (10AM - 3PM Eastern time)
- Worldwide news events cause ripples through the blogosphere - not only in search volume, but also in posting volume

Category :

Posted by dymaxion at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2005

Apple to add Trusted Computing to the new kernel?

Cory Doctorow: People working with early versions of the forthcoming Intel-based MacOS X operating system have discovered that Apple's new kernel makes use of Intel's Trusted Computing hardware. If this "feature" appears in a commercial, shipping version of Apple's OS, they'll lose me as a customer -- I've used Apple computers since 1979 and have a Mac tattooed on my right bicep, but this is a deal-breaker.

I travel in the kinds of circles where many people use GNU/Linux on their computers -- and not only use it, but actually call it GNU/Linux instead of just "Linux," in the fashion called for by Richard Stallman. Some of these people give me grief over the fact that I use Mac OS X instead of GNU/Linux on my Powerbook, because the MacOS is proprietary.

I've been an Apple user since 1979. I've owned dozens -- probably more than a hundred -- Macintoshes. When I worked in the private sector, I used to write purchase orders for about a quarter-million dollars' worth of Apple hardware every year. I've stuck with the machines over the years because the fit-and-finish of the OS and the generally kick-ass hardware made them the best choice for me. I've converted innumerable people to the Mac (most recently I got my grandmother's octogenarian boyfriend to pick up a Mac Mini, which he loves). Hell, I even bought half a dozen Newtons over the years.

When my free software companions give me grief over this, I tell them that I'm using an OS built on a free flavor of Unix, and that most of the apps I use are likewise free -- such as Firefox, my terminal app, etc.

Here's the important part though: when I use apps that aren't free, like Apple's Mail.app, BBEdit, NetNewsWire, etc, I do so comfortable in the fact that they save their data-files in free formats, open file-formats that can be read by free or proprietary applications. That means that I always retain the power to switch apps when I need to. That means that if the vendor changes their policy in a way that is incongruent with my needs, or if they go out of business, or if they treat me badly, I can always go across the street to another vendor, or to a free software project, and switch. This acts as a check against abusive behavior on the vendors' part and it is, I believe, partly responsible for the quality and pricing of their offerings.

The Trusted Computing people say that they intend on Trusted Computing being used to stop the unauthorized distribution of music, but none of them has ever refuted the Darknet paper, where several of Trusted Computing's inventors explain that Trusted Computing isn't fit to this purpose.

The point of Trusted Computing is to make it hard -- impossible, if you believe the snake-oil salesmen from the Trusted Computing world -- to open a document in a player other than the one that wrote it in the first place, unless the application vendor authorizes it. It's like a blender that will only chop the food that Cuisinart says you're allowed to chop. It's like a car that will only take the brand of gas that Ford will let you fill it with. It's like a web-site that you can only load in the browser that the author intended it to be seen in.

What this means is that "open formats" is no longer meaningful. An application can write documents in "open formats" but use Trusted Computing to prevent competing applications from reading them. Apple may never implement this in their own apps (though I'll be shocked silly if it isn't used in iTunes and the DVD player), but Trusted Computing in the kernel is like a rifle on the mantelpiece: if it's present in act one, it'll go off by act three.

It means that the price of being a Mac user will be eternal vigilance: you'll need to know that your apps not only write to exportable formats, but that they also allow those exported files to be read by competing apps. That they eschew those measures that would lock you in and prevent you from giving your business to someone else. I'm pretty sure that apps like BBEdit and NetNewsWire won't lock me out, as their authors are personally known to me to be wonderful, generous, honorable people. But personally familiarizing yourself with the authors of all the software you use doesn't scale.

So that means that if Apple carries on down this path, I'm going to exercise my market power and switch away, and, for the first time since 1979, I won't use an Apple product as my main computer. I may even have my tattoo removed.

My data is my life, and I won't keep it in a strongbox that someone else has the keys for.

* We've discovered that the Rosetta kernel uses TCPA/TPM DRM. Some parts of the GUI like ATSServer are still not native to x86 - meaning that Rosetta is required by the GUI, which in turn requires TPM. See the forum topic here.

* After much careful analysis of the files from the new Intel-based Macs, it would appear that SSE3 enabled processors are required to run the GUI. We are still testing this theory, though - nothing has been proven conclusively. Check out this forum thread for evidence and discussion.

* Check out some of our members' earliest work - using Darwin and the "mactel" leak.


Posted by dymaxion at 01:22 AM | Comments (0)

New Google Adsense webinar

Google's back with a new Adsense webinar scheduled for Tuesday August 2, 2005 at 5pm PST. I was fortunate enough to be on the last hookup and although they don't always present the most profound and amazing content, they are still worth while for bloggers interested in Adsense, and most importantly its free. The topic [...]

Posted by dymaxion at 01:05 AM | Comments (0)

Free HDTV with an outdoor antenna tutorial from Cnet

Cnet has a great straightforward tutorial complete with short videos: How to watch free HDTV with an outdoor antenna - CNET Weekend Project. They walk you through finding the right antenna, installing it, and optimizing it for your HDTV.

Of course, it's filmed in Manhattan, where it's pretty easy to find multiple over-the-air HDTV channels. I suspect people in most parts of the country would have a tougher time throwing one up and getting more than a handful to come in clearly.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:42 AM | Comments (0)

Machinima film-festival announced

Cory Doctorow: The 2005 Machinima Film Festival has been announced for November 12, 2005, in NYC:
The Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences (AMAS), an organization that provides advocacy, education and community for Machinima (filmmaking using real-time 3D game technology/virtual reality), today announced the 2005 Machinima Film Festival and the call for entries for the 2005 Machinima Awards (the Mackies). Sponsored by NVIDIA and the Independent Film Channel (IFC), the third annual festival will be held Saturday, November 12th 2005, at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York.

The one-day event will include screenings of Machinima films, workshops hosted by Machinima filmmakers, special presentations, talks with award-winning independent filmmakers and seminars about Machinima production techniques. The event will culminate in an awards ceremony where some of the best Machinima filmmakers will be recognized for their creative artistry in this new and powerful entertainment medium that's set to revolutionize the worlds of filmmaking and animation.


Posted by dymaxion at 12:36 AM | Comments (0)

Why I love my little black burka


The Iranian government will censor magazines from the US and Europe by physically blacking things out -- even models' skin. In this spread from Marie Claire, for example, Iranian censors turned black dresses into burkas.

Adding burkas to pictures could be a fun job --MK

Posted by dymaxion at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

eBay Strangeness Score Generator

As you probably know, the stuff that people auction on eBay can sometimes be awfully weird. Now an intrepid coder has produced a program that calculates precisely how weird an individual auction is. He calls is "The eBay Strangeness...

Posted by dymaxion at 12:08 AM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2005

Cisco Harasses Security Researcher

I've written about full disclosure, and how disclosing security vulnerabilities is our best mechanism for improving security -- especially in a free-market system. (That essay is also worth reading for a general discussion of the security trade-offs.) I've also written...

Posted by dymaxion at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

Earnings This Week

: Q2 earnings announcements/conference calls this week (all times EST)
Monday, Aug 1:
-- 5:00 pm MVSN Macrovision Earnings Call and Discussion of Trymedia Systems Acquisition
Tuesday, Aug 2:
-- 8 am SIRI Sirius Satellite Radio Earnings
-- 8:30 am CMCSA Comcast Corporation Earnings
-- 10:00 am IACI InterActiveCorp Earnings
-- 4:40 pm IVIL iVillage earnings
-- 5 pm RNWK RealNetworks Earnings
-- 5:30 pm LGBT PLANETOUT INC Earnings
-- 9:00 pm NTES Netease.com Inc Earnings (Q2 2005)
Wednesday, Aug 3:
-- 8:30 am TWX Time Warner earnings
-- 11 am JUPM Jupitermedia earnings
-- 5.00 pm NAPS Napster Earnings
-- 5:00 pm THQI THQ Inc Earnings
-- 9:00 pm SINA SINA CORP Earnings
Thursday, Aug 4:
-- 8:00 am GMST Gemstar-TV Guide International Earnings
-- 8:30 am WMG Warner Music Group Earnings
-- 10 am PRM Primedia Earnings
-- 9:00 am VWPT VIEWPOINT CORP Earnings
-- 11:00 am PLA Playboy Enterprises Inc. Earnings
-- 11:00 am DTV The DIRECTV Group, Inc. Earnings
-- 4:30 pm VIA Viacom Earnings
-- 5:00 pm ADBL Audible Inc. Earnings
Friday, August 5
-- NA WPO Washington Post Company Earnings
--11:00 am L Liberty Media Group Earnings

Posted by dymaxion at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)

Announcement of 10th Planet Hastened By Hacker

As previously reported, CalTech astronomers announced the discovery of a 10th planet this week. The planet is yet to be named and even its exact size is still unknown. It's all very exciting but it was strange that the announcement seemed a touch hasty, especially since the planet was detected back in January (from pictures taken in 2003, no less). It's normal for astronomers to wait to announce a discovery until the full details have been locked down. So, why the hasty announcement this time? Well, it could be that a hacker had infiltrated the astronomers' secured site and threatened to leak the discovery -- thereby forcing the astronomers to make two big announcements last week. So, kudos to the astronomers for the discovery, but maybe they should look into some better security measures.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

India-China Media Markets

Rafat Ali points to an IHT story and writes:

The story compares the Chinese online/digital media market with the Indian market, and based on raw numbers, China's way ahead of the game, both in terms of the number of users and revenues. In China, with all its restrictions, total online revenue hit $1.1 billion last year. India, an English-speaking democracy that allows freer flow of information, had online revenue of just $93 million.

irms made $177 million in Internet-related investments in China in 2003 and 2004, four times more than the $44 million India attracted, according to Asian Venture Capital Journal, a Hong Kong-based trade publication.

China's online revenue - which includes sales from advertising and from Internet gaming and wireless services - grew 35 percent last year to $1.1 billion and will rise 30 percent in 2005, according to MindShare

It is, simply (or not so simply put) an infrastrucutral issue, so in some ways not a fair comparison. Put it another way, you can have a controlled economy, and let the government pump it up, or you can let the entrepreneurs in the economy, with little help from the government, try and build it from ground up.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:22 PM | Comments (0)

Specification for the creation, distribution, exhibition of digital movies

Digital Cinema Initiatives just released its specification for the creation, distribution, and exhibition of digital movies, writes Scott Kirsner. Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) is a consortium of the seven Hollywood studios. Of all the studios who claim to be committed to releasing all future digital films in compliance with the new DCI spec, only Warner Bros. actually mentioned a timetable for offering digital instances of its new releases alongside film prints. In The D Cinema roll-out: Shading, nuances, details, Kirsner offers analysis, and comment, including reaction from exhibitor-producer Mark Cuban. [Scott Kirsner: CinemaTech]

Posted by dymaxion at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)

With Skype Out Toll Free Numbers Can Now Be Dialed-Update

So now if you have Skype Out you can now dial toll free telephone numbers in four countries if you use Skype or SkypeOut

FYI-I read they have made the change from SkypeOut only to all users thanks to a Home Run club reader.

But what I think they should have done, which they didn't was create a directory of "frequently" desired toll free numbers such as UPS, Fed Ex, Airlines, Hotel Chains, Car Rental services, banks, credit card companies and provide all their users with that feature to point and add those numbers to their directory. So without sounding like Stuart @ Skype Journal why isn't there a fast load feature for these numbers depending on country of preference so I can add them without having to look up the numbers.

Skype should be different than the regular phone, but with this move, all they've done is become a substitute, not something different for toll free calling.

Well, there is always next week for those guys @ Skype :-)

Posted by dymaxion at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

More details on Zimmermann's VOIP encryption scheme

Once upon a time, the U.S. government wanted to limit the strength of encryption schemes in the marketplace so workers in the puzzle palace wouldn't have to try terribly hard to read encrypted electronic transmissions. That was when Phil Zimmermann introduced Pretty Good Privacy, which enabled Average Joes to ensure their communications weren't easily cracked. Zimmermann received a federal investigation for his efforts, and PGP spread across the globe, thwarting the government's aim to keep strong encryption -- and privacy -- out of reach to its citizens.

Now Zimmermann, who has also made a career of being a privacy advocate has unveiled a prototype for something he calls zphone, a product that would encrypt VOIP calls, and protect them from eavesdropping.

On Thursday, as previously reported here, Zimmermann demonstrated his concept at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

He said he expects to make the product available online at the end of August. The VOIP client is based on the Shtoom phone client, with added cryptography according to coverage from ZDNet.

The initial market for the product will likely be to those users of software-based phones, like Skype and others.

For more coverage on this emerging issue, here are links to articles from ZDNet, and PCWorld.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

99 Percent Of Applications Of The Internet Not Yet Invented

Vint Cerf, says that were he 30 again, he would be focused on networking communications in space.In 1973, as an assistant professor at Stanford University and a DARPA scientist, Cerf co-designed the Net's underlying architecture, TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), for the U.S. military. He is now working on a project focused on developing a new set of protocols for communication in deep space, where continuous connectivity can't be assumed. Cerf said that he would also like to work in the field of bioelectronics because he would like to help develop life-transforming devices for humans. The concept is of particular interest to Cerf because his wife is deaf; and her life was dramatically changed for the better when she was fitted with cochlear implants. Bioelectronics is a field in which scientists develop electronics that can be wired to neurons in the brain in order to help the handicapped, for example. He went on to say that he and Kahn developed TCP/IP intentionally to be an open, international standard so that it would be widely adopted. At the time, he did not know that it would become a commercial service and go on to harness a vast amount of creativity in new applications and went on to predict that probably 99 percent of all the applications of the Internet haven't been invented yet .

Category :.

Posted by dymaxion at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)

BusinessWeek blows the Michael Lynn story

By marc

BusinessWeek's Steve Hamm completely blows the Michael Lynn/Cisco IOS vulnerability story in his "Tech Beat" blog entry, which he titled, "The Black Hats must be gloating":

The Black Hat conference blow-up is really disturbing. According to published reports, what happened was Michael Lynn, who started off the week as a security researcher at Internet Security Systems, defied ISS and Cisco by putting on a presentation at the conference that explosed a flaw in older versions of Cisco's Internet Operating System. He was fired. Cisco sued him and the conference organizers.The matter was settled out of court Thursday when Lynn agreed never to repeat the information he imparted in his Black Hat presentation and handed over any Cisco software code he had.
Hey, it's good to expose flaws in software so they can be fixed. But, typically you tell the software maker about them first, and give them plenty of time to fix them, so their products can be patched before much harm is done. Then it's okay for you to publicize the flaw to show how smart you are and get good press for the security firm you work for. I don't know all the details behind the story, so I may be all wet. But, based on what has been published so far, I'd say Lynn crossed way over the line.

[Emphasis added.] All the reports I've read, including this one from security expert Bruce Schneier -- which Hamm linked to in his post -- say that Lynn resigned in protest, not that he was fired. Steve, did you even read Bruce's piece? They also say that he gave Cisco exactly the notice for which Hamm asks.

Shame on Hamm and BusinessWeek for amplifying the corporate perspective on this story without first checking the facts. From all that I've read, Michael Lynn is protecting the Internet, and deserves our praise, not this. Steve, you are indeed all wet. Cisco must be gloating, too, for having BusinessWeek buy their spin so completely.

Update: here are some more links that dispute Hamm's factual errors.

Posted by dymaxion at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

Alan Kay Leaving HP

The Merc reports that Hewlett Packard's pink slip avalanche includes about a tenth of its researchers at the well-regarded HP Labs, and that three of four discontinued projects are here in Silicon Valley at the Palo Alto lab. Then we learn that Alan Kay, a true legend in technology, is is leaving because he was heading one of those projects.

This sends a message HP cannot afford to be transmitting to the world. Unfortunately, the company is more interested in sending a message to the Wall Street crowd, which can see only as far as the next financial quarter.

HP hasn't been a visionary leader in research for some time. But letting Alan Kay go is a penny-wise move, at best.

Posted by dymaxion at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)