Saturday, September 27, 2003


Astronotes: The inside scoop on the Universe at large.  

Astronotes: The inside scoop on the Universe at large.: "Controversy Erupts over Dinosaur Death-by-Asteroid Theory
Since 1990 when solid evidence for an impact crater was found at Mexico's Yucatan Penninsula, scientists have all but decreed that the event 65 million years ago did the dinosaurs in.
But there have always been doubters.
Now one has stepped forward in a manner others have been reluctant to. Princeton paleontologist Gerta Keller said this week that the demise of dinosaurs was long and slow, and that volcanic activity and general climate change were primary factors. "

The question here is: How long did it take dinosaurs to die? If it's within the course of less than 100 years, then it makes Gerta's theory look rather pale. Then you'd have to find some way of discounting any effect by the asteroid (that ties in with the age of the crater and the world-wide layer of asteroidal metal that was laid down at the same time as the asteroid).

Personally, when I think of the effects of anything big enough to make a 125-mile-wide dent in the planet, that is still 9,000+ feet deep, I have to wonder why ANYTHING survived it, much less large animals like dinosaurs. I guess there were scattered protected pockets around the globe, wheer life survived. The overall effect, though, had to be severely traumatic to any living thing on the planet.

It's a shame we can't gather enough data to tell anything significant about the Big Rock and the way it struck the planet. I say that because there were apparently other die-offs during the past. The difference is that something about this one was so abrupt and so total that the previous lanlords of Earth never made it back to supremacy. If someone came to me and said "Well, the earlier die-offs and extinctions weren't final because they were gradual and allowed dinosaurs to repopulate.", I'd be willing to take that as a possibility. But when someone comes to me and says "They died because of gradual cliamtic changes.", I have to put that a lot lower on the list.

Based on the evidence to date, the dinosaurs went out all over the planet and VERY quickly. That spells 'sudden change', to me.

Like an asteroid impact.

InformationWeek > Search Engines > Amazon Invades Google's Turf > September 26, 2003  

InformationWeek > Search Engines > Amazon Invades Google's Turf > September 26, 2003: "Amazon Invades Google's Turf Sept. 26, 2003

The online retailer is launching a startup that will develop a commercial search engine, potentially putting it on a crash course with Google.
By Michael Liedtke, AP Business Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Online retailing giant Amazon.com Inc. is betting it can muscle into one of E-commerce's most profitable niches--search engines.
Seattle-based Amazon.com has set up a new Silicon Valley startup called 'A9' that will develop a commercial search engine and potentially put the company on a collision course with another Internet icon, Google. "

I fail to see what the big deal is. If Amazon proves it can do a better job than Google (however unlikely that might seem), then they'll be number one. They have a long hard row to hoe and it won't happen overnight. I would guess that their first job will be getting anyone to use their service more than once. It should be interesting, to say the least, to see what they feel they can do better. I'm also guessing that the only slim crack of light under that door is in terms of the relevance of the results presented from each search. Or maybe a teensy bit more work on user-friendly (to coin a cliche) user interface.

Techweb > News > Intel To Help Build National Computing Grid In China > Intel To Help Build National Computing Grid In China > September 26, 2003  

Techweb > News > Intel To Help Build National Computing Grid In China > Intel To Help Build National Computing Grid In China > September 26, 2003: "Intel To Help Build National Computing Grid In China
September 26, 2003 (11:52 a.m. EST)
TechWeb News

Intel and Advanced Micro Devices will be raising their ongoing battle a few more notches in the Far East--this time in China. Intel has announced that it has joined with China's Ministry of Education (MOE) to create a national computing grid. Previously AMD had teamed with China's major universities to build powerful computers."

Something about this whole project makes me itchy. Given the history of the Chinese government, this seems like an excellent time to query their motives and aims. Not the technical ones, but the political motives and especially their aims. Then we should ask ourselves about what they want to use a high-speed national network for. All in all, caution would seem to be indicated. We take a dimmer view, apparently, of allowing people to export drive defraggers to Europe than we do of supplying the last 'Communist' government on Earth (of any import) with a totally modern high-speed data network.

Techweb > News > VeriSign Sticks To Its Guns On Site Finder Battle > VeriSign Sticks To Its Guns On Site Finder Battle > September 26, 2003  

Techweb > News > VeriSign Sticks To Its Guns On Site Finder Battle > VeriSign Sticks To Its Guns On Site Finder Battle > September 26, 2003: "VeriSign Sticks To Its Guns On Site Finder Battle
September 26, 2003 (9:49 a.m. EST)
By Barbara Darrow & Michael Vizard, CRN

The battle around VeriSign's three-week-old Site Finder service rages on. Even as solution providers, ISPs and industry observers blast what they characterize as VeriSign's hijacking of Web traffic, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company stands firm.
When Web surfers type an incorrect .com or .net URL they are now sent to Site Finder, a VeriSign site that offers tips for finding the intended destination. The site also suggests alternative sites and links to ad-sponsored sites, which has critics on a tear. They maintain that VeriSign, which controls the popular .com and .net domains under a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), has abdicated its responsibility as a neutral arbiter and registry of domain names in return for ad revenue. "

Nuetral? VeriSign??? When was THAT? Maybe within the first 24 hours they were open for business, but not since then! Anyone who thinks that VeriSign is nuetral has only to visit their site to have that fairytale dispelled.

No-Call List: Constitutional Doubt on Hot Political Issue  

No-Call List: Constitutional Doubt on Hot Political Issue: "No-Call List: Constitutional Doubt on Hot Political Issue

Published: September 27, 2003

he court decision late Thursday forbidding the government from carrying out a national do-not-call registry on First Amendment grounds will force appeals courts and lawmakers to make some excruciating choices.
The registry, and indeed all measures to combat telemarketers, are enormously popular with the public. Already, Americans have listed 50 million phone numbers that they had hoped telephone solicitors would stop calling after Oct. 1, when the program was scheduled to go into effect.
But the decision, by Judge Edward W. Nottingham of the Federal District Court in Denver, made what may legal experts say is a good case that regulators had engaged in unconstitutional discrimination in allowing people to block commercial calls but not calls from charities, political parties, religious institutions and polling organizations.
'Under existing doctrine by the Supreme Court,' said Geoffrey R. Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago and an expert on free speech issues, 'it's a perfectly reasonable decision.'"

Well, this brings to mind the debate over tobacco advertising. Where is the difference? I guess that's why I'm not a lawyer...
This is not to say that I'm against the 'Do Not Call' list. I'm overwhelmingly for it. I don't know anyone who hasn't been hounded to distraction by telemarketers.

I'm surprised, though, that they haven't brought the phone companies into this. Just like junk-mail that used to show up in your mailbox in ever-increasing numbers, telemarketing calls do good for phone companies as much as junk-mail did good for the Post Office. USPS revenue dropped sharply, once advertisers understood the power of the telephone. After all, before Caller ID, people really HAD to answer the phone, or screen calls via answering machine, to avoid missing important calls.

Now, we've all suffered (and continue to suffer) spam. What's the next step? Probably real-time spam in the form of ads broadcast to Wi-Fi users. Imagine a rolling 'war-driver' cruising a major city and broadcasting spam into any unprotected networks it comes across.

Where will it end? I don't know. If we block everything else, then the obvious next target will be our very minds or maybe our dreams. That's the point at which we just have to slam the door and put these vermin out of business for good. I can just see Christ's cross plastered with sponsor advertising. Would I put it past them? Not on your life!

Friday, September 26, 2003


How to Trim the Spam from Your E-Mail Diet  

How to Trim the Spam from Your E-Mail Diet: "How to Trim the 'Spam' from Your E-Mail Diet
Tips for Reducing and Managing Junk E-Mail
March 20, 2003
Unsolicited commercial e-mail, commonly called 'spam' or junk e-mail, not only clutters our inboxes, but can also invade our lives with unwanted messages that may even deceive or disgust us. It's bad enough that spam wastes our bandwidth at the office. Even worse is knowing that junk e-mail may target our kids, grandchildren, and elderly relatives in their homes. The flow of unsolicited commercial e-mail can be slowed with advanced filtering and other new technology, but curbing spam also requires the combined action of computer users, industries, and government."

Gee! Imagine how much spam Microsoft, itself, gets on a daily basis :).

Thursday, September 25, 2003


Neowin.net - Where unprofessional journalism looks better - New E-Paper Could Show Moving Images Too  

Neowin.net - Where unprofessional journalism looks better - New E-Paper Could Show Moving Images Too: "New E-Paper Could Show Moving Images Too
Posted by malebolgia on 24 Sep 2003 - 14:08 | 12 comments

Even before the electronic ink has dried on the e-page, a new generation of electronic paper may soon be able to bring a moving image to a foldable screen near you, according to scientists in the Netherlands. Hot on the heels of the invention of a wafer-thin foldable screen that can display static type and may one day replace newspapers as it can be overwritten each day, scientists at Philips Research in Eindhoven have found a way to display high-definition moving pictures as well.

Using a process called electrowetting, the scientists claim to be able to manipulate colored oils in the pixels on the page with such speed and accuracy as to be able to generate clear and accurate video displays. 'The reflectivity and contrast of our system approach those of paper,' they wrote in the science journal Nature. 'In addition, we demonstrate a color concept which is intrinsically four times brighter than reflective liquid-crystal displays and twice as bright as other emerging technologies.'"

The question here is whether you'd want to have this as a disposable technology. Is it better to have this stuff in a landfill OR do you use the 'circuits on paper' technology to build in something like Bluetooth, which could download today's news on a day-by-day basis?

Microsoft Office System Retail Technology Guarantee  

Microsoft Office System Retail Technology Guarantee: "Find Out If You Qualify
To learn if you qualify for the Technology Guarantee Program, download a Technology Guarantee coupon below. Coupons contain full program details, including eligibility requirements. The program is available to most customers worldwide, but isn't available to original equipment manufacturer (OEM)"

And Microsoft wonders why people aren't happy with the way they do business. It's like "Oh. You got our software for free, so you don't qualify for a free upgrade like people who really paid for it.".

Wednesday, September 24, 2003


U.S. court blocks anti-telemarketing list - Sep. 24, 2003  

U.S. court blocks anti-telemarketing list - Sep. 24, 2003: "'Do not call' list unplugged

Court rules FTC overstepped its authority when it set up the list; FTC to appeal the decision.
September 24, 2003: 6:17 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A federal court has blocked the national 'do not call' list -- meant to allow consumers to stop unwanted telephone sales calls -- just days before it was scheduled to take effect.

Workers at a telemarketing firm place calls to consumers.
The ruling Tuesday by the U.S. District Court in Oklahoma was a victory for the Direct Marketing Association and telemarketers who said the registry violated their rights under the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. "

Big money has made its voice heard. Again. Next thing you know, it'll be unConstiutional to turn off radios and tv's, because the stations have a right to be heard. And while we're at it, why not allow billboards in all the national parks. Don't the advertisers have a right to be seen? Then we can move on to advertising in churches. Anything less is a violation of the advertisers' rights, no? Let me see. Then we can have ads beamed to foetuses as they wait to be born. I guess it all has to stop at the grave. For now...

Tuesday, September 23, 2003


Advanced Micro Devices to Introduce 64-Bit Chip  

Advanced Micro Devices to Introduce 64-Bit Chip: "warfed by a dominant rival and losing money at an alarming rate, Advanced Micro Devices plans to take another step in its strategy to outmaneuver Intel by introducing the Athlon 64-bit microprocessor tomorrow.
Long a copycat producer of Intel-compatible chips, Advanced Micro, analysts say, has the opportunity to gain ground on Intel in the coming shift toward 64-bit technology in mainstream computing."

I think the article, as a whole, has a decidedly anti-AMD tone. It's not justified. I've used AMD chips for over ten years and I have NEVER had a stability problem that couldn't be tracked down to motherboard problems.

AMD builds solid products at more customer-friendly price points than Intel and the new Athlon-64 should provide desktop users with a real boost over Intel's current P4 line, especially when teamed with Windows XP64. Just the kind of thing that will make Longhorn real fun :).

New Sun Microsystems Chip May Unseat the Circuit Board  

New Sun Microsystems Chip May Unseat the Circuit Board: "New Sun Microsystems Chip May Unseat the Circuit Board


New Sun Microsystems Chip May Unseat the Circuit Board

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Sept. 19 — Written off lately by the computer industry as a has-been, Sun Microsystems may still have a few tricks up its engineers' shirt sleeves.

On Tuesday, Sun researchers plan to report that they have discovered a way to transmit data inside a computer much more quickly than current techniques allow. By placing the edge of one chip directly in contact with its neighbor, it may be possible to move data 60 to 100 times as fast as the present top speeds.

For the computer industry, the advance — if it can be repeated on the assembly line — would be truly revolutionary. It would make obsolete the traditional circuit board constructed of tiny bits of soldered wires between chips, familiar to hobbyists who hand-soldered connections when assembling Heathkit electronic projects.

"It could represent the end of the printed circuit board," said Jim Mitchell, director of Sun Laboratories here. "It makes things way, way faster."

Now, if only they could figure out that the reason their company is going down hill is that their hardware won't run Windows... Too bad.

Monday, September 22, 2003


Call Centers Struggle in Face of Do-Not-Call Rules  

Call Centers Struggle in Face of Do-Not-Call Rules: " Call Centers Struggle in Face of Do-Not-Call Rules

Jeff Topping for The New York Times
Synergy Solutions, a telemarketing company in Phoenix, is putting more emphasis on generating revenue from sources other than outbound calls.


Phoenix, Sept. 16 — The largest telemarketers are desperately searching for a Plan B, now that Plan A — stopping the federal government from establishing a national do-not-call registry — has failed."

In light of the aggravation that telemarketers have caused, it's hard to feel any great anguish over their imminent demise. We have to spare a little concern over their soon-to-be-former employees, but the telemarketers, themselves, will have a hard time pleading any kind of case before the public. In fact, I can't find anyone who is losing any sleep over the matter. Of course we're now dealing with the Internet version of telemarketing, known as SPAM. Maybe what we need is for advertisers to have specific permission to send us ads. Maybe a kind of Do Not Spam list is the tool we need. Just register your e-mail address(es) and spammers are shut out.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?