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Technology Archive


Sunday, June 08, 2003
 

Stay Safe Online 
FAST AND PRESENT DANGER: NEW STUDY SHOWS MAJORITY OF BROADBAND USERS LACK BASIC ONLINE PROTECTIONS
 91% of Broadband Users Have Spyware Lurking on Home Computers,
 97% of Broadband Parents Do Not Use Parental Controls,
 67% of Users Do Not Have Properly and Securely Configured Firewalls,
 62% Do Not Regularly Update Anti-Virus Software Despite Vulnerabilities
,
 86% Keep Sensitive Information on Home Computer

Wednesday, May 21, 2003
 

Swissair 111, TWA 800, and Electromagnetic Interference 
 By Elaine Scarry  - September 21, 2000, NY Review of Books

TWA 800 and Electromagnetic Interference: Work Already Completed and Work that Still Needs to be Done
 By Elaine Scarry - October 26, 2000, NY Review of Books

Sunday, April 06, 2003
 

Wired News: Fears About DNA Testing Proposal 
  A Justice Department proposal to create a database containing the DNA of suspected terrorists has raised fears that the measure would lead to so-called DNA dragnets. The concern is that police could round up people of Middle Eastern origin and other targeted groups to force them to contribute genetic samples to the database.
  The Terrorist Identification Database Act of 2003 is buried deep within the department's secretly drafted Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 -- known colloquially as Patriot Act II. It would empower the attorney general to collect DNA samples for the purpose of "detecting, investigating, prosecuting, preventing or responding to terrorist activities."

Friday, April 04, 2003
 

DaveNet : NY Times pulls back: "All my links into the NY Times archive that are older than 30 days are broken. I suspected this day would come, eventually. Advertising doesn't pay for Web publications. It probably doesn't pay for print pubs either anymore. The business model for news is gyrating wildly. So much uncertainty. But one thing is certain, the Times will be missed on the Web."

Thursday, March 13, 2003
 

Michigan Man Uses Junk FAX Law to Sue Sears Over Spam

Thursday, January 23, 2003
 

Wired 8.04: Why the future doesn't need us. By Bill Joy, April 2000 "Our most powerful 21st-century technologies - robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech - are threatening to make humans an endangered species."

Sunday, December 29, 2002
 

Taming the Task of Checking for Terrorists' Names: ""Qaddafi," for example, can be spelled at least 60 ways in the Latin alphabet. To match a name on a watch list, the Basis system takes a Latinized name and compares it to the company's own transcription scheme, so that it will match with the one Arabic version of the name. The future of name-searching, according to the companies working on it, is not in watch lists, but in sifting through huge quantities of digital documents, like those that might be found on terrorists' computers or intercepted online. "

Wednesday, December 18, 2002
 

getcreative_121002 - animation of Creative Commons copyright rationale

Is $200 the magic number for PCs? - Tech News - CNET.com "Welcome to the dawning of the age of the $200 personal computer."

Tuesday, December 17, 2002
 

New Premise in Science: Get the Word Out Quickly, Online: "A group of prominent scientists is mounting an electronic challenge to the leading scientific journals, accusing them of holding back the progress of science by restricting online access to their articles so they can reap higher profits. Supported by a $9 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the scientists say that this week they will announce the creation of two peer-reviewed online journals on biology and medicine, with the goal of cornering the best scientific papers and immediately depositing them in the public domain. "

Monday, December 16, 2002
 

Hydrogen: Empowering the People: JEREMY RIFKIN "While the fossil-fuel era enters its sunset years, a new energy regime is being born that has the potential to remake civilization along radically new lines--hydrogen. Hydrogen is the most basic and ubiquitous element in the universe. It never runs out and produces no harmful CO2 emissions when burned; the only byproducts are heat and pure water. That is why it's been called "the forever fuel." Hydrogen has the potential to end the world's reliance on oil."

Saturday, December 14, 2002
 

O'Reilly Network: Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution

Thursday, December 05, 2002
 

The Poetry of Programming: Richard Gabriel "We've only been building software for 50 years, and almost every time we're creating something new. If you look at software developers and what they produce, if you look at their source code, the programs they make, and the designs that they end up creating, there is real variability. And some people are really good and others are not so good. So, because you can program well or poorly, and because most of it is creative (in that we don't really know what we're doing when we start out), my view is that we should train developers the way we train creative people like poets and artists. "

Monday, December 02, 2002
 

Black Market for Software Is Sidestepping Export Controls: " illicit copies of the software from Intelligent Light, which in licensed versions typically sells for $12,000, was being sold by Chinese entrepreneurs for $200. The posted advertisement for the wares promised that a "step-by-step install guide and crack file make it easy to install and use!" Which means that anyone with a modem and a little cash can evade the export control rules, even those that apply to prohibited countries."

Saturday, November 23, 2002
 

101 things you can do in Mozilla: that IE cannot

Agency Weighed, but Discarded, Plan Reconfiguring the Internet: "Pentagon research agency that is exploring how to create a vast database of electronic transactions and analyze them for potential terrorist activity considered but rejected another surveillance idea: tagging Internet data with unique personal markers to make anonymous use of some parts of the Internet impossible. The idea, which was explored at a two-day workshop in California in August, touched off an angry private dispute among computer scientists and policy experts who had been brought together to assess the implications of the technology. The plan, known as eDNA,"

Wednesday, November 20, 2002
 

TidBITS: The Evil That Is the DMCA: "Much has been written about what's wrong with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). After all, it's been used to jail programmers, threaten professors, and censor publications, and because of it, foreign scientists have avoided traveling to the U.S. and prominent researchers have withheld their work. In a white paper about the unintended consequences of the DMCA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that the DMCA chills free expression and scientific research, jeopardizes fair use, and impedes competition and innovation. In short, this is a law that only the companies who paid for it could love."

Thursday, November 14, 2002
 

The Kind of Noise That Keeps a Body on Balance: "In a series of experiments, healthy 75-year-olds stood on a platform that transmitted randomly varying vibrations to the soles of their feet. With these good vibrations, the subjects reflexively adjusted their balance until they swayed about the same amount as 25-year-olds who did not receive the random signals. Younger people who used the vibrating system also swayed less. James J. Collins, a professor of biomedical engineering who led the research group, attributed the improvement to stochastic resonance, a well-known phenomenon in which random noise enhances the detection of weak signals. In this case the noise made the nerves in the feet more sensitive and better able to detect the kinds of pressure changes that occur when the body goes slightly out of balance and puts more pressure on one part of the foot."

Wednesday, November 13, 2002
 

The Noah's Ark of the Web, 7,000 Characters at a Time: "a new set of fonts being developed by six publishers of scientific, technical and medical journals promises to contain every character - more than 7,000 in all - that might be needed in a technical article published in any scientific discipline. When complete, sometime next fall, the fonts will be shared freely with publishers, software manufacturers and scholars, under the condition that they not be altered. "This work is a breakthrough for publishers and scientists," said Tim Ingoldsby, director of business development at the American Institute of Physics, one of the publishers working on the project, called the Scientific and Technical Information Exchange, or STIX (www.stixfonts.com). "

Greeting card virus licensed to spread - The FriendGreetings electronic greeting card has all the hallmarks of a mass-mailing computer virus. The e-mail misleads a victim into downloading an application--ostensibly to view a Web card--and then sends itself to every e-mail address in the victim's Outlook contacts file. At least a few systems administrators have complained in Usenet postings that the mass-mailing e-card was to blame for swamping their network.
Yet the creators--Permissioned Media, a company apparently based in Panama--will be hard to prosecute: The viral card is protected by a license agreement that tricks unsuspecting users into clicking "Yes" and consenting to have the program send itself to all their e-mail contacts. "They are deliberately trying to hide something in a wrapping that they know people won't read," said Vincent Gullotto, vice president of security company Network Associates' antivirus emergency response team.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002
 

Chokehold on Knowledge: LA Times Editorial - "The Bush administration's plan to strip the Government Printing Office's authority is a threat to democracy. Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels wants to transfer control of information management from the printing office to individual Cabinet agencies. That would spell the end of the current system, in place since the Jeffersonian era, which requires executive branch agencies to send their documents and reports to neutral librarians, who then make them available to the public both online and in 1,300 public reading rooms nationwide. Daniels would replace that system with a more secretive one in which individual agencies would manage -- and possibly sanitize -- their own electronic databases. "

Pentagon Plans a Computer System That Would Peek at Personal Data of Americans: "The Pentagon is constructing a computer system that could create a vast electronic dragnet, searching for personal information as part of the hunt for terrorists around the globe -- including the United States. As the director of the effort, Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, has described the system in Pentagon documents and in speeches, it will provide intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials with instant access to information from Internet mail and calling records to credit card and banking transactions and travel documents, without a search warrant. Advertisement Historically, military and intelligence agencies have not been permitted to spy on Americans without extraordinary legal authorization. But Admiral Poindexter, the former national security adviser in the Reagan administration, has argued that the government needs broad new powers to process, store and mine billions of minute details of electronic life in the United States.... Before taking the position at the Pentagon, Admiral Poindexter, who was convicted in 1990 for his role in the Iran-contra affair, had worked as a contractor on one of the projects he now controls. Admiral Poindexter's conviction was reversed in 1991 by a federal appeals court because he had been granted immunity for his testimony before Congress about the case."

Monday, November 11, 2002
 

The software that saved my job (and marriage): " Let me tell you what recommends PlanPlus most: Without ever leaving Outlook, I have at my fingertips what FranklinCovey considers to be the foundations of effective planning: a rundown of my main goals and the big roles in my life (father, husband, editor, manager), right along with my calendar and to-do list of daily and undeadlined tasks. Now, in Outlook, I can distinguish between daily tasks (which have due dates) and master tasks (which don't have immediate deadlines). Even better, I can prioritize each task according to FranklinCovey's characteristic A,B,C and 1,2,3 technique. I can also split my main goals into the intervening tasks or appointments necessary to reach each one. I use the PlanPlus's Taskpad several times a day to jot down those little things that crop up. Throughout the day, I'll adjust my priorities accordingly. I also use a built-in weekly planning procedure--it takes me from values, roles, and goals right through to tasks and appointments--in a single, fully aligned process of managing my time to what really matters most to me. "

Friday, November 08, 2002
 

As Big-City Debut Looms, New Air Traffic System Draws Fire: "A week before a new air traffic control system is supposed to be put into service in a highly congested airspace, federal aviation officials have called an unusual high-level meeting to review criticism that the system is not safe and has not been adequately tested. The ambitious system, which is late and over budget, is called the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, or Stars. It is eventually intended for use in nearly 200 air traffic offices around the country, as well as some military bases, to guide planes near airports. Proponents of the system, who want to begin using it in Philadelphia on Nov. 17, say it will increase safety and reduce flight delays, rein in maintenance costs and establish a platform for future improvements.... Current rules on how close airplanes are allowed to fly near each other rules that often set limits on how much traffic an area can handle are based on the possibility that a single radar is wrong. With more precise knowledge of where planes are, they could fly closer together, experts say. "

Friday, October 11, 2002
 

The high-tech angle on an old-fashioned dock strike: "THE CURRENT DISPUTE between dockworkers and port owners is a repetition of the age-old union struggle, but with a technological twist: One of the primary stumbling blocks is over the possible adoption of new technology that could eliminate up to 800 union jobs. But what most media reports have failed to mention thus far is that the technology at the center of that dispute was invented by a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). He is, in fact, among those in danger of losing his job if the technology is adopted. Bob Carson, the "chief visionary officer" of three-year-old tech start-up ContainerTrac, is also the chief clerk for Pier 80 in San Francisco. Adding to the irony, ContainerTrac chief operating officer Red Smith says the Berkeley, Calif., company's technology is actually endorsed by the union. "
[This is a great story. It's not coincidental that this ingenious use of life-saving, cost-saving technology comes from a leading member of a strong, independent labor union, giving the lie to the classic canard that unions hold back progress. What democratic unions fight is not technology, but the use of technology to deprive workers of a fair return on labor, and of what little control they still have over labor conditions. What possible reason could the shipping industry have for insisting that the new jobs be non-union, other than as part of a long-term strategy to push labor costs toward third world levels, as industry after industry has done so successfully? This is the same morality that produced bloated paychecks for CEOs and collapsed pension funds for everyone else.]

Thursday, May 09, 2002
 

Microsoft's file-share rule makes waves. The software giant's stipulation on a file-sharing protocol has evoked new anger from open-source developers and may also have antitrust implications.

Ellen Ullman / Programmer turned novelist talks about computers, writing and the world we live in: "Technology remains dynamic, with its own excitements and dangers. What has lost its luster is the market philosophy that invaded the tech world.... After about 10 or 15 years, most programmers move on to other things. I really do think that programming -- the intensely narrow, detail-of-the-problem viewpoint -- is not sustainable as one gains experience.... I don't think I can write both novels and code -- code is too hungry; it eats you up.... 
the more restricted range of interactions the robots provide will change the way children interact with other kids, other humans... [Quoting Turkle:] "Why get better and better at fooling people [into thinking these devices are alive] when we already have perfect companions -- other people?" "

Wednesday, May 08, 2002
 

Truetype embedding-enabler : DMCA threats: "The distribution of this program, whether for free or for a fee, infringes my client's federal copyrights in their TrueType programs. This infringement carries the strong possibility of very substantial statutory damages, the imposition of a federal injunction, and an award of attorneys' fees. Demand is made upon to you to immediately remove this program from your website and to contact me so that we can discuss remaining issues between you and my clients. "

Monday, May 06, 2002
 

China Makes Progress on Chips: "Despite earlier efforts by the United States to keep China behind the high-technology curve, the country is fast catching up with America's ability to make advanced semiconductors, the computer chips that run everything from rice cookers to missile guidance systems."

Yiddish: For a Dying Literature, a Digital Savior: "As a result of a four-year digitization project and print-on-demand technology, a literature that thrived from 1864 to 1939 will suddenly become proportionally the most in-print literature on the planet. Readers will be able to go to a Web site (www.yiddishbooks.org) and order any of 12,000 titles in Yiddish. The contents of the book will be retrieved from an electronic database, printed, bound in paperback and shipped within a few days. Members will pay $21.75 per book, nonmembers $29. Aaron Lansky, the president of the National Yiddish Book Center, which initiated the digitization project, said that between 18,000 and 20,000 titles, not including pamphlets and other ephemera, have been published in Yiddish. With two-thirds of those books now becoming effectively in print, a much greater portion of Yiddish literature will be available than is the case with the literature of any other language, he said."

Tuesday, April 30, 2002
 

Youth Let Their Thumbs Do the Talking in Japan. With its text messaging mania, Japan has become a national experiment for intensive thumb use.

Fun With Your Zip Program. "Using little more than the zipping programs found on most personal computers, [Italian scientists] can easily distinguish between texts written in 10 different languages and almost unfailingly tell which of a large group of texts were written by the same author.... The researchers used their method to measure the linguistic "distance" between more than 50 translations of this document. From these distances, they constructed a family tree of languages that is virtually identical to the one constructed by linguists. " 

Machines Are Filling In for Troops: "the Pentagon, energized by successes in Afghanistan, is moving ever closer to draining the human drama from the battlefield and replacing it with a ballet of machines. Rapid advances in technology have brought an array of sensors, vehicles and weapons that can be operated by remote control or are totally autonomous." [Evidently the "enemy" doesn't count as human.]

Monday, April 29, 2002
 

Paul Nakada's Segway weblog

Thursday, April 25, 2002
 

Oil Fields' Free Refill: "DEEP UNDERWATER, and deeper underground, scientists see surprising hints that gas and oil deposits can be replenished, filling up again, sometimes rapidly. Although it sounds too good to be true, increasing evidence from the Gulf of Mexico suggests that some old oil fields are being refilled by petroleum surging up from deep below, scientists report. That may mean that current estimates of oil and gas abundance are far too low.... [Discovery of] chemo-synthetic communities, creatures that get their energy from hydrocarbons -- oil and gas -- rather than from ordinary foods. So these animals are very much like, but still different from, recently discovered creatures living near very hot seafloor vent sites in the Pacific, Atlantic and other oceans. The difference... is that the animals living around cold seeps live on methane and oil, while the creatures growing near hot water vents exploit sulfur compounds in the hot water.....  In some areas, the methane-metabolizing organisms even build up structures that resemble coral reefs."  [Lovely implications of earth's unsuspected capacities, and horrid implications of centuries more of the automobile's reign of terror.]


Wednesday, April 17, 2002
 

Prime Palaver #3: Baen Free Library online - "It does not follow that simply because a copy is available for free that sales will therefore be hurt. In fact, they are more likely to be helped, for the simple reason that free copies-call them "samplers," if you will-are often the necessary inducement to convince people to buy something."

Monday, April 08, 2002
 

A unified theory of software evolution: Meir "Manny" Lehman

Sunday, April 07, 2002
 

Rooting out plagiarists with software. It's become easy for students to buy term papers on the Web and copy research they find online. But now, with the help of a few start-ups, some teachers are fighting back.



Collected by Jonathan March with Radio Userland software