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Showing posts from May, 2006

Todays (5/30/2006) Pictures on Slate.com

Mobile Phone security - worth doing.

Here is something worth knowing if you have a mobile phone ....

Have you ever wondered why phone companies don't seem interested in trying to prevent the theft of mobile phones? If you have ever lost, or had one stolen, and if you are on a plan, you still have to pay the plan approximately up to 24 months, and you have to buy another handset and enter into another contract. This is more revenue for the phone company.

There is a simple way of making lost or stolen mobiles useless to thieves and the phone companies know about it, but keep it quiet.

To check your mobile phone's serial number, key in the following on your phone:

star-hash-zero-six-hash ( * # 0 6 # )

and a fifteen digit code will appear on the screen. This is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it safe. Should your mobile phone get stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset, so even if the thief changes the sim card, your phone will be tot…

Will Doug Bowman Make Google Beautiful?

Good news folks… Enough for me to get out of bed, put my back at risk and write a blog post - Doug Bowman, uber designer has joined Google which means, a likely end to the mishmash, drab and boring user interfaces from Google. Yeah!On a more serious tip, with the acquisition of Measure Map, Google got some good people from Adaptive Path who know a thing or two about web design and UI. Bowman is another design ace. What it leads me to believe that with an increase in the number of offerings from Google, the search giant has realized that it needs to put its UI house in order. Bowman’s post on his blog pretty much says it all. After a bit of negotiation and a lot of internal debate, I recently accepted an offer to join Google as Visual Design Lead, a position that did not previously exist there. I’m charged with helping the company establish a common visual language across all their collaborative and communication products. This includes products I’ve already had some hand in like Blog…

Pakistan Plans Mobile WiMax Network Rollout

"Pakistan is apparently ready to move ahead of the USA in the deployment of a mobile wireless network." From the article: "The deployment is a milestone in the spread of WiMax, a superfast wireless technology that has a range of up to 30 miles and can deliver broadband at a theoretical maximum of 75 megabits per second. The 802.16-2004 standard, which is used in fixed WiMax networks, is being skipped in favor of a large-scale introduction of 802.16e, which was only recently agreed upon by the WiMax Forum. 'We made the decision 18 months ago to jump over (802.16-2004) and go straight to 802.16e,' Paul Sergeant, Motorola's marketing director for Motowi4, told ZDNet UK on Tuesday. 'We've been working on it for a while, which is how we're able to ship so soon after agreement.'"

Marriage And Great Science Dont' Mix

Several years ago, Satoshi Kanazawa, then a psychologist at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, analyzed a biographical database of 280 great scientists--mathematicians, physicists, chemists, and biologists. When he calculated the age of each scientist at the peak of his career--the sample was predominantly male--Kanazawa noted an interesting trend. After a crest during the third decade of life, scientific productivity--as evidenced by major discoveries and publications--fell off dramatically with age. When he looked at the marital history of the sample, he found that the decline in productivity was less severe among men who had never been married. As a group, unmarried scientists continued to achieve well into their late 50s, and their rates of decline were slower. "The productivity of male scientists tends to drop right after marriage," says Kanazawa in an e-mail interview from his current office at the London School of Economics and Political Scienc…

Welcome to Google Checkout, that will be $3.14

From ZDNetThe first time I looked up the domain "GDrive.com" it appeared that someone other than Google had it registered. A trip down memory lane takes us to my very first article that describes how I determined GDrive.com is in fact owned by Google, despite what it looks like on the surface.Well, by the same logic I have found that a brand new set of domains appearing to be registered to someone else were actually registered by Google on May 25th.The domains googlecheckout.net/org/info (.com is owned by someone else at the moment) have all been registered to a company called DNStination, Inc. Don't be fooled, the registrar is MarkMonitor — a company that prides itself on the protection of your corporate identity. There is no way they would let just anybody register a domain with "Google" in it — especially since Google is one of their clients.Then who is this DNStination, Inc. then? Googling the address of this "company" tells us exactly who it …

Gmail to get prices

In my latest source code inspection, I found more snippets code that foreshadow upcoming features in Gmail. As far as I know, these features aren't available in the current version — I couldn't reproduce them and there is no documentation in the Help area.As many of you probably know, depending on the content of email recieved through Gmail, special links are displayed above the advertisements on the right. Google currently tracks packages for UPS, gives us maps and lets us add events to our calendars with these links — but it looks like that list is about to get bigger.In addition to it's current functionality, the code suggests FedEx and USPS (United States Postal Service) tracking numbers will be detected by Gmail to further satisfy your package tracking needs. This might be old news, but I don't recall hearing about it or seeing it in action. I wonder how long it will take for others like DHL and Purolator to be included in this list?oe["oa"]="Map th…

"Made in India" phones set to tap global markets

India, already the world's fastest growing wireless services market, is set to become a handset manufacturing and export hub as giants such as Nokia and LG churn out millions of phones to tap voracious demand. Global handset firms are knocking on the door of Asia's third-largest economy because of its established software industry, a booming domestic market and they want another manufacturing stronghold to offset the possible risk of operating plants in China. "There is no question that everybody is planning for India to become a hub for (exporting) mobiles to the Middle East, neighboring countries and even Europe," said Rajiv Kochhar, chief executive at Mumbai-based Avista Advisory. The consulting firm helped Elcoteq SE (ELQAV.HE), Europe's largest contract electronics maker, to set up a unit in Bangalore, India's silicon valley. It is also assisting several suppliers to Nokia (NOK1V.HE), the world's largest handset maker, to set up plants in Bangalore, …

Dell With Google, Yahoo with eBay. Microsoft: Left Outside Alone?

If the last week should have been dedicated to talks concerning Windows Vista Beta 2 and Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 as well as other things Microsoft presented at WinHec, things eventually took an unexpected turn as the Internet giants decided that it was time to come up with a series of striking alliances.Google signed a surprise partnership with Dell – one of Microsoft's traditional allies – a partnership which doesn't cirectly concern online search, as one may have expected, but installing Google software products on the Dell PCs. In other words, a frontal attack aimed at Microsoft and, why not, a response to the fact that MSN is the default search engine in Internet Explorer 7. Yahoo didn't wait too long to admire the future Windows Vista Beta 2 either, but it rushed forward to a deal with eBay – an alliance whose main purpose is to offer a counterpart to Google, but which also has any chance to pose a threat to MSN Search as well. All these changes in the Portal War…

Microsoft shows off JPEG rival

If it is up to Microsoft, the omnipresent JPEG image format will be replaced by Windows Media Photo. The software maker detailed the new image format Wednesday at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference here. Windows Media Photo will be supported in Windows Vista and also be made available for Windows XP, Bill Crow, program manager for Windows Media Photo said in a presentation. "One of the biggest reasons people upgrade their PCs is digital photos," Crow said, noting that Microsoft has been in contact with printer makers, digital camera companies and other unnamed industry partners while working on Windows Media Photo. Microsoft touts managing "digital memories" as one of the key attributes of XP successor Vista. In his presentation, Crow showed an image with 24:1 compression that visibly contained more detail in the Windows Media Photo format than the JPEG and JPEG 2000 formats compressed at the same level. Still, the image in the Microsoft format was som…

Honda says brain waves control robot

In a step toward linking a person's thoughts to machines, Japanese automaker Honda said it has developed a technology that uses brain signals to control a robot's very simple moves.In the future, the technology that Honda Motor Co. developed with ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories could be used to replace keyboards or cell phones, researchers said Wednesday. It also could have applications in helping people with spinal cord injuries, they said. In a video demonstration in Tokyo, brain signals detected by a magnetic resonance imaging scanner were relayed to a robotic hand. A person in the MRI machine made a fist, spread his fingers and then made a V-sign. Several seconds later, a robotic hand mimicked the movements. Further research would be needed to decode more complex movements. The machine for reading the brain patterns also would have to become smaller and lighter — like a cap that people can wear as they move about, said ATR researcher Yukiyasu Kamitani. What Hon…

Sony May Try To Stop PS3 Game Resales

A story claiming that Sony is preparing to stop the potential sale of pre-owned PlayStation 3 games is being met with some skepticism by industry insiders. According to a UK news source, citing retail contacts, Sony is preparing to make it illegal for consumers to sell used PS3 games. The plan would involve Sony adopting a licensing system whereby gamers would agree that they are purchasing a license to play a game, rather than the game itself. If true, such a move would be a massive boost for publishers and developers which do not profit from the lucrative and damaging retail trade in used games. In fact, many publishers are furious that they have to spend support money on consumers who have not actually contributed a dime to the company's coffers. In turn, it would be a catastrophe for retailers, which make a significant proportion of margin from used games. Consumers would likely be less than overjoyed. Sony, which is refusing to comment on the story, does have a patent on te…

Google to shut down Orkut communities

Google Inc. said Wednesday that it has agreed to shut down some communities on its popular Orkut social networking site because the Brazilian government says they advocate violence and human rights violations.Google agreed to shut down any sites that violate Orkut's terms of service, which forbid "any illegal or unauthorized purpose," after the company met Tuesday with a Brazilian human rights commission, which presented evidence that Brazilians have been using the invitation-only networking site to promote crimes and violence.

Fusion reactor work gets go-ahead

Seven international parties involved in an experimental nuclear fusion reactor project have initialled a 10bn-euro (£6.8bn) agreement on the plan.The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) will be the most expensive joint scientific project after the International Space Station. Wednesday's agreement in Brussels gives the go-ahead for practical work on the project to start. Fusion taps energy from reactions like those that power the Sun. The seven-party consortium, which includes the European Union, the US, Japan, China, Russia and others, agreed last year to build Iter in Cadarache, in the southern French region of Provence. Cleaner energy The parties say fusion will lead to a cheaper, safer, cleaner and endless energy resource in the years ahead. {BBC News}

AMD Adds Virtualization, New CPUs To Desktop Line

Advanced Micro Devices officially launched its "AM2" socket upgrade on Tuesday, as the company tied its microprocessor products to next-generation DDR2 memory and added support for virtualization technology. In support of the launch, AMD also added two new chips: an AMD64 2.8-GHz FX-62 processor, priced at $1,031, and an AMD 2.6-GHz 5000+ processor, priced at $696. Both prices represent lots of 1,000 units.
The new processors represent a true switch for AMD; the socket shift is a top-to-bottom transition made across all of AMD's desktop product lines, and neither the current 939-pin nor the older 754-pin processors will be able to connect to AM2 motherboards. According to David Schwarzbach, a product manager for AMD, Socket 754 chips will be phased out by the end of the year, and Socket 939 chips will be stockpiled until about the second half of the year, mainly for large corporate customers. "This is really part of our rolling thunder strategy…as we work our way …

Google to Distribute Online Video Ads

Google Inc. will begin distributing online video ads for the first time later this week, continuing the Internet search engine leader's effort to diversify beyond the static written messages that generate most of its profits.The video expansion, announced late Monday, will affect thousands of Web sites that rely on Google to post ads related to the surrounding material on a page. For instance, a news story about housing might prompt Google to display an ad for real estate agents. Google isn't allowing the video ads to appear on its own Web site — a heavily trafficked destination that produced 58 percent of its $2.25 billion in revenue during the first three months of this year. Despite that restriction, Google's push into online video advertising represents a significant step for the Mountain View, Calif.-based company as it explores new ways to propel its rapid earnings growth. Google began distributing graphical ads two years ago and during the past year has been dabblin…

Piraha (Another World-Diff Maths-Diff Language)

A study appearing today in the journal Science reports that the hunter-gatherers seem to be the only group of humans known to have no concept of numbering and counting. There are really only three numeric words in Pirahã - "one," "two," and "many." To add to the confusion, "one" doesn't always mean exactly one - it could mean one fish, a small fish, or only a few fish. Not only that, but adult Piraha apparently can't learn to count or understand the concept of numbers or numerals, even when they asked anthropologists to teach them and have been given basic math lessons for months at a time. Their lack of enumeration skills is just one of the mental and cultural traits that has led scientists who have visited the 300 members of the tribe to describe the Piraha as "something from Mars." Daniel Everett, an American linguistic anthropologist, has been studying and living with Piraha for 27 years. Besides living a numberless life, h…

Google leads search, Yahoo wins portal wars

While Google is storming ahead of rivals in the search arena, it isn't faring so well in its non-core offerings, according to figures revealed on Monday.Newly compiled US statistics from online traffic analysts at Hitwise suggest Google reigns supreme in terms of searches and seems to be increasing its lead. Based on surveying last week's internet usage, Google receives over 47 percent of search traffic, while Yahoo gets 16 percent and third-place MSN receives just 12 percent. While Yahoo's dominance in search has waned considerably in recent years (only a few years ago Yahoo had 40 percent of searches), it is by no means out of the way in the web portal stakes. For example Yahoo's News & Media service garners a healthy 6.3 percent of news traffic while Google's 1.9 percent news share ranks fifth for news behind Yahoo, the Weather Channel (5.6 percent), MSNBC (4 percent), and CNN (3.95 percent). Yahoo's mail service, Yahoo Mail, also leads the e-mail ranki…

Does light have mass?

The short answer is "no", but it is a qualified "no" because there are odd ways of interpreting the question which could justify the answer "yes".Light is composed of photons so we could ask if the photon has mass. The answer is then definitely "no": The photon is a massless particle. According to theory it has energy and momentum but no mass and this is confirmed by experiment to within strict limits. Even before it was known that light is composed of photons it was known that light carries momentum and will exert a pressure on a surface. This is not evidence that it has mass since momentum can exist without mass. [ For details see the Physics FAQ article What is the mass of the photon?].Sometimes people like to say that the photon does have mass because a photon has energy E = hf where h is Planck's constant and f is the frequency of the photon. Energy, they say, is equivalent to mass according to Einstein's famous formula E = mc2. The…

The fight against V1@gra (and other spam)

To the antispam researchers at MessageLabs, an e-mail filtering company, each new wave of a recent stock-pumping spam seemed like a personal affront. The spammers were trying to circumvent the world's junk-mail filters by embedding their messages--whether peddling something called China Digital Media for $1.71 a share, or a "Hot Pick!" company called GroFeed for just 10 cents--into images. In some ways, it was a desperate move. The images made the messages much bulkier than simple text messages, so the spammers were using more bandwidth to churn out fewer spams. But they also knew that, to filters scanning for telltale spam words in the text of e-mail messages, a picture of the words "Hot Stox!!" is significantly different from the words themselves.
So the bulk e-mailers behind this campaign seemed to calculate that they had a good chance of slipping their stock pitches past spam defenses to land in the in-boxes of prospective customers. It worked, but only b…

Scientists say they have cleared technical hurdle in fusion research

Physicists working in the United States believe they have cracked an important problem facing man-made nuclear fusion, touted as the cheap, safe, clean and almost limitless energy source of the future. In fusion, atomic nuclei are fused together to release energy, as opposed to fission -- the technique used for nuclear power and atomic bombs -- where nuclei are split. In a fusion reactor, particles are rammed together to form a charged gas called a plasma, contained inside a doughnut-shaped chamber called a tokamak by powerful magnetic coils A consortium of countries signed a deal last year to build the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in southern France as a testbed for an eventual commercial design. But many experts have been shaking their heads at the many challenges facing the ITER designers. One of them is a phenomenon called edge localised modes, or ELMs. These are sudden fluxes or eddies in the outer edge of the plasma that erode the tokamak's inner w…

.xxx registry sues US government

"ICM Registry LLC, the company behind the proposed .xxx internet porn domain, is to sue two departments of the US government for access to documents it claims show the US pressured ICANN into rejecting the domain. The Florida-based startup will sue the Department of Commerce and the Department of State to get them to release documents that they redacted when they responded to a Freedom Of Information Act request that ICM filed last year." - Slashdot.org

Microsoft reveals Vista enabled PCs

Microsoft has revealed how powerful computers must be to run Vista - the new version of its Windows operating system. It has given advice on the basic specifications to run the software as well as the higher capabilities needed to get the most out of it. Also available is a downloadable tool that lets people know if the PC they own now will run the system. Microsoft has said that Vista will go on widespread release in January 2007. Spec checkVista, formerly known as Longhorn, is Microsoft's long awaited update to the Windows family of operating systems and makes some big changes to the way that the software works. Typically every release of Windows kicks off a round of PC buying as companies and consumers buy machines that can make the most of the novel features included in the new version. Click here to see hardware checklist Microsoft has released "minimum" and "recommended" specifications for Vista. The minimum means that the operating system will run but so…

Nuclear-powered Car

The Ford Nucleon was a nuclear-powered concept car developed by Ford Motor Company in 1958. The car did not have an internal-combustion engine, rather, it was powered by a small nuclear reactor in the trunk of the car. The vehicle featured a power capsule suspended between twin booms at the rear. The capsule, which would contain radioactive core for motive power, was designed to be easily interchangeable, according to performance needs and the distances to be traveled.The passenger compartment of the Nucleon featured a one-piece, pillar-less windshield and compound rear window, and was topped by a cantilever roof. There were air intakes at the leading edge of the roof and at the base of its supports. An extreme cab-forward style provided more protection to the driver and passengers from the reactor in the rear. Some pictures show the car with tailfins sweeping up from the rear fenders.The drive train would be integral to the power module, and electronictorque converters would take the…

Report: Ozone Hole May Disappear by 2050

The ozone hole over the Antarctic is likely to begin contracting in the future and may disappear by 2050 because of a reduction in the release of chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting gases, according to a team of Japanese scientists.The findings are based on a series of numerical simulations carried out by Eiji Akiyoshi of the National Institute for Environmental Studies, near Tokyo, using projected emissions of chlorofluorocarbons and other gases blamed for the ozone hole. According to a report posted Friday on the institute's Web site, the hole is at its largest now but is likely to gradually start contracting around 2020 and disappear by around 2050. The team's findings are in line with research by other scientists. Some, however, have suggested the hole won't heal until much later because old refrigerators and air-conditioning systems — many in the United States and Canada — are still releasing ozone-killing chemicals. Both countries curbed those chemicals in …

Market Punishes Intel For AMD's Win

Intel Corp. shares fell to a three-year low Friday after No. 1 personal computer maker Dell Inc. said it would begin using chips from smaller Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc., whose shares surged. Dell said that for the first time in more than two decades, Intel will no longer be its sole provider of computer microprocessors, the brains that run computers. It's a big coup for AMD. Until the company came out with its Athlon and Opteron processors, it had been largely regarded as a maker of cheaper, lower-performing Intel clone chips. Intel shares traded for as little as $17.94 early in the session, their lowest level since April 2003. At midday they stood at $18.18 on Nasdaq, down 2.5 percent. AMD shares gained $2.60, or 8 percent, to $34.95 on the New York Stock Exchange. Dell said late on Thursday that it will use AMD's Opteron microprocessors in some high-end corporate server machines. That announcement sealed a long-running on-again, off-again courtship between th…

"Pay Per Click" fraud botnet discovered

PandaLabs has detected a network of computers infected with the bot Clickbot.A, which is being used to defraud ‘pay per click’ systems, registering clicks automatically and providing lucrative returns for the creators. According to the data collected so far, the scam is exploiting a global network comprising more than 34,000 zombie computers (those infected by the bot).

The bots are controlled remotely through several Web servers. This allows the perpetrators to define, for example, the web pages on which the adverts are hosted or the maximum number of clicks from any one IP address in order not to arouse suspicions. Similarly, the number of clicks from the bot can be monitored as well as the computers online at any one time. The system used can evade fraud detection systems by sending click requests from different, unrelated IP addresses.

“Renting and selling of botnets has become a genuine business model for cyber-crooks. The scam we have now uncovered exploits infected systems to gen…

In the Fight Against Spam E-Mail, Goliath Wins Again

Eran Reshef had an idea in the battle against spam e-mail that seemed to be working: he fought spam with spam. Today, he'll give up the fight.Reshef's Silicon Valley company, Blue Security Inc., simply asked the spammers to stop sending junk e-mail to his clients. But because those sort of requests tend to be ignored, Blue Security took them to a new level: it bombarded the spammers with requests from all 522,000 of its customers at the same time.That led to a flood of Internet traffic so heavy that it disrupted the spammers' ability to send e-mails to other victims -- a crippling effect that caused a handful of known spammers to comply with the requests.Then, earlier this month, a Russia-based spammer counterattacked, Reshef said. Using tens of thousands of hijacked computers, the spammer flooded Blue Security with so much Internet traffic that it blocked legitimate visitors from going to Bluesecurity.com, as well as to other Web sites. The spammer also sent an…