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Tech Notes

Lithuania shuts down Chernobyl-style nuclear reactor
Lithuania has started shutting down one of the reactors at its only nuclear power station, in line with European Union entry conditions. Unit One at the Soviet-era Ignalina plant, north-east of Vilnius, is to stop functioning before midnight. It is similar to the Chernobyl reactor which blew up in 1986 in Ukraine. The Ignalina plant - supplying about 70% of the Baltic states' energy - has two RBMK reactors, with a capacity of 1,300 megawatts each. Lithuania, which joined the EU in May, pledged to close the entire facility by the end of 2009.  Full Story  BBC News_ 12/31/04

Steam engines could be eco hope

British design engineer Glynne Bowsher and his team, the British Steam Car Challenge (BSCC), have almost finished building a super-fast vehicle reminiscent of the Batmobile. They hope the Inspiration vehicle will live up to its name and not only break the 1906 steam-car speed record of 127.7 mph (205.5 km/h), but also inspire thinking about alternative fuels for the future. Full Story  BBC News_ 12/28/04

Year's worst gadgets, tomorrow's eBay items

Sometimes the innovation elves just miss the mark. Without a doubt, 2004 saw the debut of some great new products, like the cellphone that keeps track of blood sugar levels and digital music player that indicates how fast you run. Still others probably should have been abandoned on the drawing board along with the wireless washing machine.  Full Story  Reuters_ 12/24/04

New battery may power digital devices
A more powerful battery that promises enough juice for twice as many digital pictures as regular batteries is being offered by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd.    The battery maintains higher voltage and output longer because its electricity-producing materials can be packed more closely inside the cell. 

Full Story  AP_12/24/04

Offshoring said to zap electrical engineers' wages
For the first time in more than three decades of technological innovation, their median salaries are dropping, according to a survey by the IEEE-USA, a membership organization of 225,000 engineers. It was the first drop since the group started tallying data in 1972. The group blamed a combination of offshore outsourcing, competition from foreigners on guest worker visas, and rising health insurance costs. The drop contrasts with growth in overall U.S. personal income of more than 3 percent in 2003. Full Story  Reuters_ 12/23/04

Industry gears up for two-headed chips
For decades, computer performance has been driven largely by the increasing numbers of ever-smaller transistors squeezed into the machines' silicon brains. Though the tiny switches built in silicon are the heart of the digital revolution, they can't shrink forever. Instead of building processors with a single core to handle calculations, designers will place two or more computing engines on a single chip. They won't run as fast as single-engine models, but they won't require as much power, either, and will be able to handle more work at once.  Full Story  AP_12/20/04


Scottish firm develops search engine that reads out results

Called Speegle, it has the look and feel of a normal search engine. Scottish speech technology firm CEC Systems launched the site in November. But experts have questioned whether talking search engines are of any real benefit to people with visual impairments.  Full Story   BBC News_ 12/21/04

Meteorologists say mobile phones, collision avoidance systems and other commercial applications ruin microwave frequencies
Microwave frequencies are uniquely able to "see" through clouds from satellites. Mobile phones and other commercial uses cause interference and contaminate the data from the satellites, making it useless. Progress in both forecasting and climate studies depends on observations from space of the Earth's surface and atmosphere.  Full Story  BBC News_ 12/17/04

Google Inc. to digitize some of the world's most important libraries

Analysts said the payoff would come over the years of the potentially decade-long project if Web searchers are drawn to Google because it is perceived to have more information.  Full Story  Reuters_ 12/15/04

Internet companies, FBI to work together to fight 'phishing' scams

Phishing has emerged as a potent online threat over the past two years, combining "spam" e-mail with slick Web sites that trick consumers into giving out bank-account numbers, passwords and other sensitive information. Participants in the Digital PhishNet project include Earthlink Inc., Microsoft Corp., America Online Inc., Lycos Inc., Digital River Inc., VeriSign Inc. and Network Solutions.  Full Story  Reuters_ 12/8/04

Experts push Bush administration for more computer security defenses against viruses, hackers and other online threats

The Bush administration should spend more on computer-security research, share threat information with private-sector security vendors, and set up an emergency computer network that would remain functional during Internet blackouts, said members of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, a computer-security trade group. The Homeland Security Department should also give more authority to the official who oversees cybersecurity. The Homeland Security Department, which was not immediately available for comment, opposes such a move.  Full Story  Reuters_ 12/7/04

'Brainwave' cap controls computer, moving research a step closer to controlling devices with the brain

Four people, two of them partly paralysed wheelchair users, successfully moved a computer cursor while wearing a cap with 64 electrodes. The New York team reported their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Full Story  BBC News_ 12/7/04

Scientists make disposable cell phone cover that turns into a sunflower; More environment-friendly products to come

Materials company Pvaxx Research & Development, at the request of U.S.-based mobile phone maker Motorola, has come up with a polymer that looks like any other plastic, but which degrades into soil when discarded. Researchers at the University of Warwick in Britain then helped to develop a phone cover that contains a sunflower seed, which will feed on the nitrates that are formed when the polyvinylalcohol polymer cover turns to waste.  Full Story  Reuters_ 12/6/04

November, 2004

UK physicists finish first crucial element of experimental device to probe limits of physics

The Atlas experiment will explore the fundamental properties of matter and look for "new physics" beyond the limits of our current understanding. It will be housed at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator, at Cern, Switzerland, which is due to begin operating in 2007. The LHC could create mini-black holes as particles collide at high energies.   Full Story  BBC News_ 11/29/04

EU research ministers ready to press ahead with Iter nuclear fusion project even without Japan

If no agreement is reached soon, they will go it alone with a reactor at Cadarache in France. The EU has the support of China and Russia to build the reactor at Cadarache. Japan has the backing of the US and South Korea to construct Iter at Rokkasho in the north of its territory.  Full Story  BBC News_ 11/27/04

Blow a fuse, computer chip, and heal thyself

Semiconductor chips that can manage a good bit of their own upkeep are moving closer to reality. Still in the future: Electronic systems smart enough to do their own expert testing and repairs without human help. Full Story  New York Times_ 11/25/04 (logon required)

Hollywood movie studios win $24 million judgment against Web site that charged customers to download illegally copied movies

The California company, MasterSurf Inc, is owned by Tan Soo Leong of Malaysia. The company operated a site called Film88.com, according to a statement by the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents the studios in governmental and industry matters. The studios claim illegal copying and distribution of movies on videos and DVDs cost them more than $3.5 billion annually, and they are concerned that distributing illegal film copies on the Internet will cost them billions more.  Full Story  Reuters_ 11/24/04

Last rites sounded for life-changing VHS video format

It changed the lifestyles of a generation but all over the world, Video Home System -- which let people record and watch television programs when they wanted rather than at the whim of broadcasters -- is in headlong retreat as the Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) takes over. To add insult to injury, in Britain at least, house burglars don't even bother to take VHS players because new ones now cost so little that no one wants a second-hand model.  Full Story  Reuters_ 11/22/04

How to make a gigapixel picture: Netherlands researchers create world's largest digital panoramic photo

The finished image is 2.5 billion pixels in size - making it about 500 times the resolution of images produced by good consumer digital cameras. The huge image of Delft was created by stitching together 600 single snaps of the Dutch city. If printed out in standard 300 dots per inch resolution the picture would be 2.5m high and 6m long.  Full Story BBC News_ 11/19/04

View the gigapixel picture

Billion-year accuracy: UK physicists push timekeeping boundaries

Clock workings rely on the behaviour of extremely cold atoms watched over by ultra-quick lasers. The journal Science says the UK work could help redefine the second.  Full Story   BBC News_ 11/19/04

EU offers Japan incentives to give up bid to host Iter, the world's biggest nuclear fusion reactor

Europe wants to base the reactor at Cadarache in France, while Tokyo favours Rokkasho-Mura, in north Japan. Japan would receive contributions to other fusion research initiatives and other benefits, EU officials said. After the International Space Station, the multi-billion-dollar International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) would be the largest international research and development collaboration.  Full Story  BBC News_ 11/16/04

Cyber crime tools could serve terrorists targeting water, power, transportation - FBI

The hacking and identity theft tools now earning big money for mainly eastern European organized crime could be used by terrorists to attack the United States, an FBI official said. FBI Deputy Assistant Director Steve Martinez said cyber crime was no longer the domain of teenage geeks but had been taken over by sophisticated gangs. The Internet could allow attackers to remain anonymous, to strike at multiple targets from a distance, and escape detection. Critical infrastructure such as water, power and transportation systems remained vulnerable, Martinez said.  Full Story  Reuters_ 11/10/04

Six nations planning Iter, the world's biggest nuclear fusion reactor, fail to agree on a site

Officials gathered in Vienna at the International Atomic Energy Agency to discuss the project, which will be based in either France or Japan. The parties are deadlocked over the decision - and neither Japan nor the EU will back down in favour of the other.  Full Story  BBC News_ 11/10/04

When invention turns to innovation: Future tech inventions unlikely to have same transforming impact as they did in the past

The car and transistor were defining technologies which ultimately changed people's lives substantially. Now, a new idea, method, or device, will have to have a different kind of thinking behind it so that people see the value that innovative technology has for them. Technology leaders have to demonstrate that things work, make sense, make a difference and life gets better as a result.  Full Story  BBC News_ 11/10/04

Engineer spins high-end cable wire idea into industry-leading company

When Noel Lee first went into business selling premium speaker wire, stereo retailers thought the idea was as crazy as selling bottled water. That's because speaker wire then was as free as tap water. Twenty-five years later, he is credited with shaping high-quality accessories for a wide variety of consumer electronics products as a profitable cottage industry.  Full Story  San Francisco Chronicle_ 11/8/04

EU confident it will win race to host Iter, the world's biggest nuclear fusion reactor Some news agency reports say the $10bn project will be sited at Cadarache in France, following the withdrawal of Japan's bid to be the reactor's home. But EU officials will say only that they are hopeful the negotiations in Vienna this week will turn out well. Iter is expected to be the final step that experimenters need to take before commercial fusion power is realised.  Full Story  BBC News_ 11/8/04

File-sharing program BitTorrent devours more than a third of Internet's bandwidth

Average users are taking advantage of the software's ability to cheaply spread files around the Internet. BitTorrent has thus far avoided the ire of groups such as the Motion Picture Association of America. But as BitTorrent's popularity grows, the service could become a target for copyright lawsuits. According to British Web analysis firm CacheLogic, BitTorrent accounts for an astounding 35 percent of all the traffic on the Internet -- more than all other peer-to-peer programs combined -- and dwarfs mainstream traffic like Web pages.  Full Story  Reuters_ 11/6/04

US supercomputer breaks speed record

IBM's prototype Blue Gene/L machine is being assembled for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, a US Department of Energy lab (DOE). DOE test results show that Blue Gene/L has managed speeds of 70.72 teraflops. The current top machine, Japan's NEC Earth Simulator, clocks up 35.86. Due this week, the Top 500 list officially charts the fastest computers in the world. Full Story  BBC News_ 11/5/04

Brain teasers help Google Inc. recruit workers

As its rapidly growing business creates hundreds of new jobs, Google is trying to lure premier talent with offbeat tactics, including a computer-coding competition and a brain-twisting aptitude test that mixes geek humor with a daunting mathematical workout. Google remains picky about whom it hires, even as its payroll has ballooned from just under 700 employees at the end of 2002 to about 2,700 workers today.  Full Story AP/CNN_ 11/4/04

First U.S. felony spam convictions: Brother and sister sent junk e-mail to America Online customers and sold sham products

Jurors recommended that Jeremy Jaynes be sentenced to nine years in prison and fined Jessica DeGroot $7,500 after convicting them of three counts each of sending e-mails with fraudulent and untraceable routing information. Sentencing was set for February. Circuit Court Judge Thomas Horne will have the option of reducing the jury's sentence or leaving it intact. Virginia, where AOL is based, prosecuted the case under a law that took effect last year barring people from sending bulk e-mail that is unsolicited and masks its origin.  Full Story  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 11/3/04

October, 2004

Radical fabric one atom thick brings single-molecule computer chips one step closer

Called graphene, it is a two-dimensional, giant, flat molecule which is still only the thickness of an atom. The nanofabric's remarkable electronic properties mean that an ultra-fast and stable transistor could be made. The physicists from the University of Manchester and Chernogolovka, Russia, published their research in Science. Graphene is part of the family of famous fullerene molecules, discovered in the last 20 years, which include buckyballs and nanotubes.  Full Story  BBC News_ 10/22/04

Doubts over passport face scans

Biometric facial recognition will be brought in as of October, 2005, as part of an international agreement to target terror and fraud. But trials suggest the technology has a 10% failure rate, the BBC has learned. Britain has agreed to introduced the biometrics ahead of a deadline to avoid UK citizens needing visas to visit the US when new regulations come into force there next year. The problems are apparently due to the technology's sensitivity to light conditions.  Full Story  BBC News_ 10/21/04

Scientists and heads of state gather to mark 50 year anniversary of Cern particle lab

French President Jacques Chirac and King Juan Carlos of Spain are among those attending celebrations at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern) headquarters in Geneva. Cern is the world's largest particle physics laboratory, whose research is conducted only for peaceful purposes. It was formed in the aftermath of World War II to unite Europe's scientists and stop a brain-drain to the United States.  Full Story  BBC News_ 10/19/04

Printers betray document secrets

US scientists have discovered that every desktop printer has a signature style that it invisibly leaves on all the documents it produces. The work will help track down printers used to make bogus bank notes, fake passports and other important papers.  Full Story  BBC News_ 10/18/04

X-Prize for the world's science 'Holy Grails'
A series of X-Prizes for the scientific or technological breakthroughs that tackle the most important challenges facing humans are being planned. The World Technology Network (WTN) and X-Prize foundation are asking the public to help them decide on bids. The submissions are likely to centre around some major "holy grails" in health, information and communications technologies, alternative energies and the environment, and material sciences, including nanotechnology.  Full Story  BBC News_ 10/15/04

33 firms, including Nokia and Philips, join to develop prototype portable heart monitor that's woven into underwear

It would use sensors to warn patients before they suffer a stroke. The system, which requires further research, keeps track of important risk factors for heart disease, such as inactivity, poor sleep and stress. MyHeart, a European Union-supported research project, involves healthcare, electronics and communications companies.  Full Story  Reuters_ 10/14/04

FDA OKs human chip implant to get health records

The VeriChip, sold by Applied Digital Solutions Inc., is placed in the upper arm in a painless procedure that takes minutes, the company said. Proponents hope doctors will use the technology to find vital information about someone who is unconscious or having trouble communicating. The database could include details such as medication use, allergies and major health problems. The chip implants have been used for years for various purposes such as identifying lost pets.  Full Story  Reuters_ 10/13/04

Andy Purdy new US cyber security chief
The US has a new head of cyber security, amid concerns about the Bush administration's commitment to protecting computer networks from attack. The post was left vacant by the sudden resignation of Amit Yoran a week ago who reportedly left because his team was not given enough clout within the Department of Homeland Security. Purdy is the former deputy director of the National Cyber Security Division. Its task is to work out how to protect US networks from disruption by the viruses, worms and hack attacks that have become commonplace.  Full Story  BBC News_ 10/8/04

US House approves criminal penalities for spyware creators

The House voted to stiffen jail sentences for those who use secret surveillance programs to steal credit-card numbers or commit other crimes. The vote came two days after House lawmakers approved a separate bill that establishes multimillion dollar fines for spyware perpetrators. Backers expect to combine the two bills with another spyware bill pending in the Senate, though time is running short in the legislative year.  Full Story  Reuters_ 10/7/04

US seeks to fine spyware makers

US legislators have overwhelmingly backed a proposal to impose penalties on the creators of so-called "spyware," programs that gather information about browsing habits, passwords and credit card details and even turn home computers into spam relays. Later this month a second spyware bill is being debated that criminalises secret spyware installations.  Full Story  BBC News_ 10/7/04

Three US scientists share 2004 Nobel Prize for physics

David Gross, David Politzer and Frank Wilczek were honoured for their insights into the deep structure of matter - the materials that build atoms and the forces that hold them together. The Swedish committee behind the prize said their work on quarks and the strong force brought science closer to its dream of "a theory for everything". The physicists will each receive a medal and share of the $1.3m prize.  Full Story  BBC News_ 10/5/04

US cyber security chief resigns; gave one day's notice

Amit Yoran was director of the National Cyber Security Division within the US Department of Homeland Security created following the 9/11 attacks. The division was tasked with improving US defences against malicious hackers, viruses and other net-based threats. Reports suggest he left because his division was not given enough clout within the larger organisation.  Full Story  BBC News_ 10/4/04

Landmark California law falls short of stopping spyware

The law cracks down on software that hides on computers and secretly follows users around the Web. Critics said California's anti-spyware law targets only the most egregious offenders, while failing to address pop-up ads and other spyware-related problems. But it does ban software that transmits computer viruses or cause a machine to be used as part of a denial of service attack. It also prohibits the deceptive collection of personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers.  Full Story  Reuters_ 10/1/04

September, 2004

Computers 'do not boost learning'
Efforts to promote "lifelong learning" using computers have done little to increase the number of adults in education, a survey says. People were more likely to use the internet for hobbies such as music-making and compiling a family tree, research at Cardiff University found. Background had more bearing than online access on whether people studied.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/30/04

IBM says its supercomputer is world's fastest, surpassing Japanese model that claimed the titel two years ago

The world's largest computer company said its Blue Gene/L supercomputer is eight times faster, and consumes 28 times less power per computation than today's fastest supercomputers and surpassed NEC Corp.'s Earth Simulator Center as the world's most powerful supercomputer. Supercomputers are often used for tasks as diverse as studying weather, developing advanced weapons systems and improving industrial designs.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/29/04

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern) turns 50

The Generva-based research facility helped shape our understanding of the fundamentals of matter and invented the world wide web. To celebrate, floodlights will form a 27km-long circle of light, the circumference of the tunnel to be used for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a new experimental tool that will collide protons and other particles at very high energies. Scientists believe this machine, due to come online in 2007, will enable them finally to understand why all the things we can see and touch have mass. This is a big gap in our description of the Universe.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/29/04

Freescale Semiconductor Inc. wins 200 million euros ($246 million) Siemens auto electronics supply contract

Freescale, the former chip products business of Motorola Inc., will supply components mainly for engine and transmission functions to Siemens VDO Automotive starting from 2006 for the lifetime of the products. Siemens VDO, the automotive components arm of the German industrial conglomerate, makes car electronics systems that control a range of functions including anti-theft devices, braking systems and air bags.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/27/04

MI Technologies appoints Jim Soltys Strategic Accounts Manager for North America

He will report to Michael J. Kujawa, Vice President, Sales. Prior to joining MI Technologies, Soltys held engineering and business management positions at Agilent Technologies including Worldwide Channel Manager for the Electronic Products and Solutions Group, Field Application Engineer, and Business Development Manager. For more than 50 years MI Technologies has been a leading supplier of products, instruments, systems and services for RF and Microwave antenna, radome, radar cross section and component test and measurement applications.  Full Story  Press Release_ 9/24/04

UK intern students at IBM develop web tool to banish broken links

Peridot scans company weblinks and replaces outdated information with other relevant documents and links. It works by automatically mapping and storing key features of webpages, so it can detect significant content changes. Currently, said the students, website reviews require manual maintenance.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/24/04

Cisco Systems Inc. sees China as center of world tech market

Chief Executive John Chambers said China was well on the way to becoming the world's technology hub as he revealed plans for his company's first research center in the country. Cisco, the world's largest maker of equipment for directing Internet traffic, said it would invest $32 million over five years in a research center in the Chinese coastal city of Shanghai. The company is joining top U.S. and European technology companies such as Motorola Inc., Microsoft Corp., IBM, SAP AG and Oracle Corp that have set up sales and manufacturing centers and research and development facilities in China. This expansion is largely aimed at serving China's booming economy, but comes amid growing concerns in the United States about job losses at home.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/23/04

30,000 PCs per day recruited into secret spam and virus networks

Six months ago only 2,000 Windows machines per day were being recruited into these so-called bot nets. The figures came to light in Symantec's biannual Internet Threat Report which traces trends in net security.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/20/04

Microsoft Corp. to share Office software code to increase government confidence in its security

The new initiative is an extension of Microsoft's Government Security Program, which allows the governments of more than 30 countries to examine most of Microsoft's underlying source code, or software blueprint for its flagship Windows operating system.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/19/04

PluggedIn: Software tackles digital photo proliferation

Now that digital cameras have overtaken film cameras in sales, users are beginning to encounter a familiar problem -- what to do with the bulging image files and folders filling up computer hard drives? After overtaking global film camera sales last year, digital cameras are expected to be found in a third of U.S. households in 2004, up from a fifth of households in 2001, according to Consumer Electronics Association Market Research.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/18/04

Scientists' ethics bill vetoed by California governor

Rejecting a proposal that had unanimous support in the Legislature, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have prohibited scientists who review state studies on air and water quality standards from having financial ties to industries affected by the study.  Full Story  San Francisco Chronicle_ 9/16/04

U.S. physicists shrink atomic clocks
Atomic clock technology developed by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology has been made so small it may soon be possible to incorporate super-accurate timekeeping into mobile devices such as cellphones. Computer chip fabrication techniques were used to make a clock mechanism that will neither lose nor gain a second in 300 years. The final product may be a battery-operated system the size of a sugar lump.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/15/04

Bush and Kerry battle over science

The leading international science journal Nature has focussed the US presidential election campaign on science by asking both President George Bush and Senator John Kerry for their views on the major issues. The most significant difference identified by the magazine was over stem-cell research, with Mr Kerry wanting to go well beyond the quite restrictive policy adopted by President Bush. But there were differences as well over climate change, the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons, manned space exploration and anti-missile defence.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/15/04

Interview: IBM eyes half of China's computer market

International Business Machines Corp. is reaping the rewards of a decade-long push into China's business computer market and is eyeing upward of a 50 percent share, China General Manager Henry Chow said. Citing industry figures, the world's largest computer company boasts a 43.6 percent share of China's market for business computers large and small, the computers used to operate everything from state-run banks to e-commmerce Web sites. Its global business computer share is 32 percent.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/14/04

Microsoft Corp. issues security patch; E-mail ID plan rejected

The patch is for the latest "critical" rated security flaw affecting Windows, Office and developer tools software programs. Separately, the world's largest software maker was dealt a setback after the Internet Engineering Task Force decided not to adopt Microsoft's e-mail sender ID standard that would make it easier for Internet providers to block unwanted junk e-mail.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/14/04

Brazil is world capital for computer hacking, internet fraud and child porn

Some 500 experts from around the world are in the country's capital, Brasilia, attending the first international conference to combat electronic crime. Brazil is home to eight out of 10 of the world's hackers, according to federal police at the conference, and roughly two-thirds of the internet's child pornography pages are said to originate there.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/14/04

Hurdles for digital TV's global reach

Heat, dust, erratic electricity supplies and insufficient training are the biggest problems to be overcome to get digital TV into developing countries, delegates were told at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/13/04

No more blurry photos

A specially shaped camera lens and processing method have been developed to ensure images are always in focus. Developed primarily for military night vision cameras, the technology could find its way into camera phones.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/13/04

Fears for new digital radio system

Plans to offer the internet using mains electricity cables could cause so much interference that new digital radio stations could be obliterated, a broadcasting conference has been told. The warning came from Peter Senger, the chair of the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam. DRM is a standard agreed by world broadcasters for a completely new short wave radio system. The new internet power line distribution system has been evaluated by engineers, including the BBC, and has been found to affect short wave in particular. Full Story BBC News_ 9/13/04

Land of potatoes aims to be high-tech hotbed

Jeffrey Moeser and his company are aiming to change the future of home entertainment. His effort to link music, video, pictures and other digital information into an all-in-one box is a goal many high-tech entrepreneurs share. What is unusual about Moeser's effort is that his start-up company, Dedicated Devices Inc., is based in a suburb of Boise, Idaho, in a sparsely populated northwestern state best known for its potatoes.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/12/04

PluggedIn: Life is getting too complicated; new car gadgets may district drivers

Drivers still learning how to talk on cell phones and maneuver at the same time are headed for an even more complex world. Web-sent navigation directions, DVD movies and reminders from high-tech cars signaling it's time to change the oil or pump up the tires will compete for already scant attention. Ironically, a boom in electronic gadgets designed to make driving a car easier and more comfortable may create safety risks and contribute to accidents, researchers say.  Full Story   Reuters_ 9/11/04

U.S. judge rejects state law  to block child porn on the web: judge cites lack of technology

A Pennsylvania law allowing the state to force Internet service providers to block access to child pornography sites is unconstitutional because technology used to block the sites would also prevent users from accessing sites that had nothing to do with child pornography, according to a ruling by federal Judge Jan Dubois, of the U.S. court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The decision could set a national precedent on Internet regulation, said John Morris, staff counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington-based advocacy group that brought the suit against Pennsylvania Attorney General Jerry Pappert.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/10/04

UK heroes and villains: Voting begins for the 2004 lists of the best and the worst on the web

Web users can vote for the nominees in 13 categories until 11 October and winners of the Future UK Internet awards will be announced on 11 November. The awards, now in their third year, are organised by technology press group Future Publishing. The bad guy list includes the student allegedly behind the Sasser worm and the Chinese government for its net censorship policies. Best innovation nominees Apple's iTunes and Skype, the service that allows broadband users to make phone calls over the net, will battle it out with Jabber Open instant messaging service, Napster and Onspeed.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/9/04

Cast your vote here

Intel sees its Internet future in a new network on top of the old

Intel Corp. Chief Technology Officer Patrick Gelsinger called for an entirely new network to sit atop the existing Internet, one that could support new Web services, adapt to security threats, and work around sudden bursts of traffic to particular Web servers. A model of such a network already exists in the form of PlanetLab, a collection of 429 computer "nodes" in 181 sites around the world, funded by Intel.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/9/04

Microsoft puts fingerprint readers into keyboards

A keyboard, mouse and stand-alone fingerprint reader were added to Microsoft's hardware lineup, which works with software to verify and switch between users of its Windows operating system, as well as automatically enter the identifications and passwords needed to log onto secure Web pages.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/8/04

U.S. House panel OKs internet copyright, spyware bills

Hackers who secretly install "spyware" on others' computers and Internet users who copy movies and music without permission could face up to three years in prison under bills that advanced in the House Judiciary Committee. The committee also voted to establish criminal penalties for those who install spyware on others' computers to commit identity theft or other crimes.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/8/04

New batteries aid climate battle

Professor Peter Bruce of St. Andrew's University says a new generation of rechargeable lithium batteries could be used to store electricity produced by renewable energy sources such as wind power and help reduce global warming. So-called "hybrid" cars incorporating lithium batteries, along with petrol or diesel power, would help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, he says.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/8/04

Authorities in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh use solar power to run computers in village schools
Nearly 80% of houses are estimated to have no power, and many villages suffer frequent disruption in supply because of power cuts or other faults. Full Story  BBC News_ 9/5/04

Remote control gadget helps disabled gain independence
The Intellec and Lite devices, by Tunstall and SRS Technology, are designed for people with impaired dexterity or reduced mobility. When a key is pressed, via a joystick or the blink of an eye, the devices send infrareds signal to the appliances the user wishes to control. The Lite device, which can be carried in the pocket, can control up to 65 different functions and dial and recognise 25 phone numbers, and is designed to be used outside as well as inside the home. The Intellec system enables the user to operate over 2,500 separate functions and can be mounted on to a desk or other object in the home. Full Story  BBC News_ 9/5/04

Fred Whipple - the astronomer who first correctly described comets as "dirty snowballs" - dead at 97
He revolutionised the study of comets when in 1950-51 he proposed that they were not "sandbags" but small bodies made of rock, dust and ice. He also predicted the coming of artificial satellites and was prepared with a satellite tracking network when Sputnik was launched in 1957. He discovered six comets, all of which were named after him. Fred Whipple began work at the Harvard College Observatory in 1931 and from 1955 to 1973 directed the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, helping it to become the renowned Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  Full Story  BBC News_ 8/31/04

Start-up Orion Multisystems Inc. offers new class of low-power 'personal supercomputers'

They're aimed at researchers, designers and other users of high-performance computers. Fast PCs run at two billion to three billion cycles per second while supercomputers clock around one trillion cycles. Taking a strategy from an old computer entrepreneur playbook, Orion looks to revive demand for custom-built workstations that combine widely available computer chips with innovative architecture to leapfrog existing computers. Full Story  Reuters_ 8/30/04

UN drive to boost free software in Asia as cheap bridge in technology gaps
The UN's International Open Source Network (IOSN) is organising the first annual Software Freedom Day with events in countries like India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Open source applications being promoted include the operating system Linux, OpenOffice, the Mozilla web browser and e-mail project, mySQL database and the Apache web server.  Full Story  BBC News_ 8/28/04

US is world's biggest source of spam, despite efforts to combat unwanted e-mail
Almost 43% of all unwanted e-mails originated from the US in the last month, said anti-virus firm Sophos. The report suggests that anti-spam laws passed in the US nine months ago have had little impact. South Korea, the most broadband-connected country in the world, was next in line, firing out 15% of all junk e-mails, followed by China and Hong Kong, 11.62%, Brazil, 6.17%, Canada, 2.91% and Japan, 2.87%. About 40% of global spam is sent out via "zombie computers", machines which have been harnessed without the knowledge of the PC user.  Full Story  BBC News_ 8/24/04

Japan's Sharp Corp. unveils fat-busting microwave

Sharp said it generates "superheated steam" at a temperature of about 572 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt fat and reduce oil and salt from steak, chicken, fish and other foods.  Full Story  Reuters_ 8/23/04

California plan aims to add solar energy to one million homes by 2017

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said new homes constructed in the state should feature solar energy systems to save electricity and cut pollution from power plants. New legislation to implement the energy plan would require home builders to offer solar panels as an option for new homes in the state by 2008. Rebates to add photvoltaic solar panels considered. 

Full Story  Reuters_8/21/04

Particle collider edges forward. In search of the long sought Higgs boson.
A key decision on the International Linear Collider (ILC), one of the grand scientific projects of the 21st Century, has been taken in China. The experiments should give scientists a deeper understanding of the materials used to construct the Universe. Full Story  BBC  _8/20/04

E-mail viruses getting smarter; antivirus firm warns of virus-spam connection
New York-based MessageLabs, which scans client e-mails for viruses to block, said

a study in the first six months of 2003 showed that 1-in-208 e-mails contained a virus, up from a ratio of 1-in-392 for the first six months of 2002.  The firm believes the biggest e-mail security threat during the first half of 2004 was closer cooperation between virus writers and spammers, joining ranks for profit.   Full Story  MSNBC_8/19/04

Drugstore offers new wave of disposable cameras
Pharmacy chain CVS Corp.said it would offer the world's first disposable digital camera with a bright color viewing screen that allows consumers to instantly preview pictures. The camera relies on a system developed by Pure Digital Technologies of San Francisco, a start-up that has lured away senior executives from photography giants Eastman Kodak Co. and Fuji Photo Film to develop digital cameras to be sold in partnership with mass-market retailers.  Full Story  Reuters_8/19/04

Teleportation goes long distance
Properties teleported from one photon to another in 'real world' conditions.
Physicists have carried out successful teleportation with particles of light over a distance of 600m across the River Danube in Austria. The team has published its findings in the academic journal Nature. Long distance teleportation is crucial if dreams of superfast quantum computing are to be realised.  Full Story  BBC News_ 8/18/04

NASA Earth observation project moves ahead
Forty-nine countries have agreed to participate in a 10-year project to collect and share thousands of measurements of Earth, ranging from weather to streamflow to ground tremors to air pollution. Scientists have traced dust and pollution in Florida and the Caribbean to the Sahara desert in Africa.  Full Story  MSNBC_8/17/04

Solo record round-the-world jet flight probably set for next year
US adventurer Steve Fossett, backed by Virgin Airlines boss Richard Branson, plans to fly non-stop around the world. The jet GlobalFlyer was designed by aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, the man behind the first private spacecraft, SpaceShipOne. His company, Scaled Composites, was also responsible for designing Voyager, a two-person aircraft that set the record for the challenge in 1986.  Full Story  BBC News_ 8/15/04

Consumer electronics firms approve high-capacity Blu-ray disc format

The new generation of discs can store five times the data of DVDs at the same cost -- enough to put a full season of "The Sopranos" on one disc. The 13-member group, called the Blu-ray Disc Founders, includes Sony Corp., Philips, Thomson, Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. Their format is expected to compete with another blue-laser standard, HD DVD, backed by NEC Corp. and Toshiba Corp. Full Story  Reuters_ 8/11/04

U.S. terror fight turns to technology to help intelligence services share information
The 9/11 commission's final report paints a picture of 15 different US intelligence services using 15 different databases, with none of them able to interact with one another. It is what could be described as a "dumb" network. It is based on a decades-old model in which information can be shared only within each organisation. The New York-based think-tank, the Markle Foundation recommends linking all of the existing intelligence databases into a network. The plan raises privacy concerns and skepticism about relying too heavily on technology.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/8/04

Astronomers oppose plan to celebrate the "Year of Physics" by shining lights into the night sky

Dubbed a "grand optical relay", the proposal involves people switching on lights in a relay around the world on 18 April next year. It would start in the United States with the lighting of a single light, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Albert Einstein's death. Leicester-based astronomer Darren Baskill, from the Campaign for Dark Skies, said the project was "educating people that generating light pollution is okay". However one of the event's planners, Max Lippitsch, from the University of Graz in Austria, told the BBC that there would be very little light pollution and the event may include a "flash of darkness" preceding the light signal, "to strengthen the awareness of the light pollution problem."  Full Story  BBC News_ 8/4/04

Microsoft fixes big Internet Explorer browser bug

Code to exploit this bug was somehow inserted on to some popular websites, infecting everyone that visited. It led some experts to recommend people use a different way to surf the web. Microsoft said the patch had taken a month to finish because it wanted to be sure that it did not cause more problems than it solved for users. Those struck by download.ject risked having confidential information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, stolen from their computer.  Full Story  BBC News_ 8/2/04

January-July, 2004 Tech Notes

News Index



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