Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sunflowers from Cellphones and Garbage

Sunflower
650 million cellphones are created each year. 130 million will find their way into the nearby garbage dump per year, creating 65,000 tons of trash. That's a lot of waste, and dangerous waste -- releasing toxins that have been linked to cancer and neurological disorders. Now think of the other disposable electronics that are being created each year. Everything from the walkmans, disposable cameras, radios, pagers, etc. Our consumer society will be the death of us. There is hope however -- enter Pvaxx Research and Development. They've developed a phone cover made of a biodegradable plastic that can be rigid or flexible, and contains a sunflower seed. When the plastic biodegrades, it releases nitrates that feed the sunflower seed -- which blooms. It's amazing what can be accomplished when people put their minds to it.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Picking on Einstein

GP-B
NASA's education site has a short report on the Gravity Probe B spacecraft orbiting the Earth, and the implications its findings may have on Einstein's theory of special relativity. The findings may validate Einstein, and put theorists right back to work and explaining the differences between special relativity and quantum mechanics -- or, it may validate the leading candidate that merges the two theories together -- string theory. The report is written for the layperson, and is a good read -- even if you already know all this stuff.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Out-Law

Out-Law, Spring 2005 issue.
The Spring issue of Out-Law magazine is out, and features two interesting articles:
  • Superguys -- think your secrets are safe if you destroy them? You'll think twice after reading this article. You'd be amazed at how your shredded documents could be easily reconstructed, or how metadata captures more information about the whats, whos and hows, of document editing. If you want to keep secrets, burn your paper then scatter the ashes, and never, ever, use computers.
  • Denial -- tells the story of, and interviews Aaron Caffrey, who in 2003, was taken to court over a DoS attacked launched from his computer. He got off, despite the evidence that his computer was the one that launched the attack. His defence: he didn't do it. Anyone could have gained control over his computer to launch the attack. The article isn't interesting for the interview or the profile of the case -- it's interesting for what its portrayal of the preparedness of laws and law enforcement officials in combatting cyber crimes. It's the wild west out there.
  • Wacky Warning Labels

    M-LAW is being polite by calling their contest "wacky" -- it's anything but. On the conservative side, it's just plain stupid. If I was being liberal with my judgment, I'd preface "stupid" with a few expletives. Their contest was run to find the most wacky product warning labels -- you know, the kind you hear about in the news because it's trailed by a lawsuit. Here are the ranking stupidity from the eighth annual contest:

    Winner
  • “Do not use for personal hygiene” -- warning label found on a flushable toilet brush.

  • Runner-Up Winners
  • “This product moves when used” -- warning label found on a scooter for children.
  • “Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally” -- warning label found on a thermometer that can be used to take a person's temperature.
  • “Never remove food or other items from the blades while the product is operating” -- warning label found on a electric hand-held blender.
  • “Do not use this product as a toy, pillow, or flotation device” -- warning label found on a 9"x3" bag of air used as packing material.

  • M-LAW also chronicles other stupidity, such as: Loony Lawsuits; the Whiplash Awards; and past winners of the Wacky Warning Label contest.

    Newsworthy

    BusinessWeek, March 14th.
  • Google: A $50 Billion 'One-Trick Pony'? -- questions are being raised by market analysts on whether Google has what it takes for long term viability. Google remains just a search company. Sure, it's expanding into other areas, but only to enhance their search business.
  • Killing the Golden Goose? -- Venezuela's President Chávez is funneling oil money into social programs -- quite the anti-capitalist. He believes that the riches of his nation should be shared with his people. Naturally, that pisses off the US. To add further insult, he's trying to gain influence in Latin America, sells oil to Cuba, and buys Russian weapons for his military. No wonder the Bush administration endorsed an attempted coup d'état in 2002. Chávez is a pain in the ass. That's why you've got to love, despite his faults.
  • How to Fix the Tort System -- the cover article of BusinessWeek's March 14th issue does an excellent job of introducing the US Tort System -- explaining the differences in American law to that of Europe and Canada; how the Tort System allows for excessive and trivial lawsuits, where only the lawyers profit; and suggests a pragmatic plan to fix the system, if only there is political will to do so. Naturally, with Bush in power, the wrong thing will be done.

  • A Tale of Two Systems, BusinessWeek

  • A Linux Nemesis On the Rocks -- it's always good to read an article where SCO, and its CEO are getting their ass kicked, and they haven't really gotten into the ring yet. They should have thought twice before trying to steal the riches of Linux.
  • Gift Cards: No Gift To Investors -- gift cards have caught on, and the jury is still out on whether they're good for consumers. One thing for sure though, they're definitely good business, where the accounting of gift card sales can be done on some very interesting ways that distort the true numbers of a business.
  • Crazy Larry Show

    Crazy Larry
    How is Larry Ellison different from Richard Branson? Well, Richard has got eyebrows ... and Larry, well, Larry is just plain crazy!

    In case the news hasn't filtered your way yet, Oracle has managed to snatch Retek from SAP. This comes on the heels of the PeopleSoft acquisition. What is crazy Larry up? He wants to be number one in the enterprise applications space -- but in order to do that, Oracle will have to have a full suite of applications -- a breadth that it doesn't have today, but is getting closer to acquiring with the PeopleSoft and Retek acquisition. Of course, owning PeopleSoft and Retek doesn't amount to much -- integrating the apps into a seamless package that can be sold to the verticals they're already in is where the pudding is at. To do that, Oracle will really have to make Fusion work -- but that's a few years away, and meanwhile, SAP will continue to put distance from Oracle.

    Friday, March 25, 2005

    ... of Movies

    Steamboy
  • In an hour, I may be leaving home with my oldest daughter to go see Steamboy. It's an anime set in Victorian England by Japanese director, Katsuhiro Ôtomo. For those that don't know, don't remember, or could care less, Katsuhiro Ôtomo is of Akira fame. For those who don't know, don't remember, or could care less, Akira is a cult classic that redefined the Anime genre with a hard hitting story set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo -- the film that is credited with bringing Anime to a wider western and adult audience. Katsuhiro Ôtomo hasn't directed an animated feature since Akira was released in 1988. While Steamboy is sure to be a hit with audience with refined tastes, expectations are already low for the North American release. In Toronto for instance, the movie is playing only at Carlton -- a theatre that specializes in foreign and art films. North Americans, unfortunately, still haven't come to grips with animation as a medium for telling stories -- they still see it as cartoons, and still view anime as only being able to produce films like Pokémon. A review of Steamboy's Japanese release can be found at the Japan Times site.

  • Constantine
  • Last week Friday, my daughter and I also went out for a movie. We saw Constantine -- based on the Hellblazer comic book by Jamie Delano and Garth Ennis -- amongst many others. Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz were bad in the movie -- they did a good enough job to create believable characters -- and I saw an interview with Reeves, who said he was sensitive to the fact that the character already had a loyal following -- and didn't want to alienate those fans who already knew the character. That was a good thing, because he didn't make the mistake so many other actors make by trying to bring his interpretation to the character. The story was well written, flowed well, and the action was just the right amount. This wasn't a scary horror movie -- it was more of a cerebral horror movie. If you've read the comic, or any Vertigo comics for that matter, you'll understand what I mean by that.

  • Sin City
  • A movie that I'm looking forward to is Sin City. I've enjoyed this Frank Miller comic since the first issue came out from Dark Horse. The movie is directed by Robert Rodriguez, who convinced Frank Miller that it could be brought to the screen, and gave Frank Miller co-director credit -- for more on this tale, check the latest issue of Wired magazine. What is remarkable, is that Rodriguez managed to get the look and feel of the comic down on film -- digital film that is. The effects are superb, from what I've seen via the trailers. For more, check out my previous post on this topic.
  • Wednesday, March 23, 2005

    Junk-the-Junk

    Stats to make you weep:
  • 100 million trees are used to produce junk mail in the US every year.
  • 4 million tons of junk mail is sent to Americans every year.
  • One day's supply of junk mail could heat 250,000 homes.
  • I love this! If you're like me, you get junk mail in your mailbox in sufficient quantities to carry out this nefarious plan. The plan is to help you deal with the frustration of having to deal with junk mail -- and it's simple -- take the junk mail you get from one business and send it to another via the postage paid envelope included. Just thinking of the surprise at the other end of the envelope is enough entertainment to get me to do this. [The link to Junk-the-Junk was brought to you via the Lobster Messiah.]

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Southern Stupidity

    The New York Times is reporting [Free Login Required] on the passing on science films by Imax theatres in the Southern US due to references they make to evolutionary theory. Why? They might offend some of stupid southern religious bupkuses. Films that don't make the cut include Volcanoes, Cosmic Voyage and Galápagos. The most alarming part of this news is that the chances of this happening at commercial theatres is slim -- it's happening mostly at public institutions, such as museums and science centres.

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    13 Things That Do Not Make Sense

    13 Things that do not Make Sense -- NewScientist reports on 13 areas in science that is in need of more studying. These are areas where observations just don't jive with theory. The 13 are: 1) the placebo effect - why do placebos work just as well as the cure? 2) the horizon problem - the universe has a uniform temperature, that inflation was concocted to explain - scientists just aren't too comfortable with it however. (See also Wikipedia.) 3) ultra-energetic cosmic rays [PDF] - we detect some pretty energetic cosmic rays, yet, according to theories, they should have lost energy before arriving at Earth; 4) Belfast homeopathy results - homeopathy works ... sometimes when there is little or no active ingredient ... why? 5) Dark Matter - what is the stuff? If it is there at all. 6) Viking's methane - and evidence for life on Mars. 7) Tetraneutrons [PDF] - in 2001, researchers detected four neutrons bound together in a way that defied the laws of physics. Is it real? 8) The Pioneer anomaly - Pioneer 10 & 11 are at the outer reaches of our solar system, but for some reason, they have been slowly veering off course. In the case of Pioneer 10, by about 400,000 km. What's pulling them off course? 9) Dark Energy - the rate of expansion of the universe is growing. What gives? Dark energy. Oh, sure! 10) The Kuiper cliff - past Pluto, into the outer reaches of the solar system, lies the Kuiper belt, made up of remnants of the early solar system. But it falls off suddenly. The Kuiper cliff. What caused it? Speculation is of a 10th planet. As large as Earth perhaps. 11) The Wow signal - in 1977, a 37 second radio signal was picked up from the direction of Sagittarius. Since then, nothing. What was it? 12) Not-so-constant constants - a signal from distant quasars received in 1997 revealed something unexpected. On its 12-billion-year journey, unexpected frequencies were absorbed by interstellar clouds. The only explanation that seems to make sense is that the fine structure constant was different in the past. 13) Cold fusion - there are still cold fusion experiments going on, and there are many believers, even if it is impossible by accepted scientific theories. Could the theories be wrong?

    NASA Podcasting

    NASA does Podcasting -- As hard as it may be to believe, NASA is actually hip. Science@NASA, which reports NASA science news, has for sometime been offering MP3 versions of their reports. Now, the "show" is being picked up by iPodder and is being listened to by multitudes.

    Phishing Inc.

    The top 10 locations for hosting phishing sites:
    US  32%
    China  13%
    S. Korea  10%
    Japan  3.1%
    Germany  2.7%
    Brazil  2.7%
    France 2.7%
    Romania  2.2%
    Canada  2.1%
    Australia  2.1%
    From eWeek via the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
    eWeek magazine has a great summary on the evolution and current state of phishing attacks and its growth due to influence of organized crime. Starting in 2003, phishing became big business for the underground -- out of nowhere, attacks grew. The biggest factor in the growth of attacks isn't organized crime -- it's consumers growing comfort with the internet as a medium for commerce. Everything from online purchases to online banking has made the underground wake up and take notice of the lucrative potential. In two years, starting from Jan. 2003, the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), recorded growth from 176 unique phishing attacks to 1,700. More recently, in four months ending in January, APWG has recorded a rise from 1,186 to 2,560 in phishing sites; hijacking of brands going from 46 to 64; and, the percentage of attacks on financial institutions growing from 74 to 80. The net results? For US companies, the scams may be causing businesses a loss of US$1.2 billion to US$2.4 billion. In addition, as these attacks grow, consumer confidence in the internet as a medium for commerce is sure to decline -- further impacting bottom-lines.

    Saturday, March 19, 2005

    Yahoo 360

    Yahoo will be offering a new blogging and social networking service on March 29th. The service sounds like it's similar to Microsoft's. Blogging just became a crowded playing field.

    Photo Blogs

    Newsweek has an article on the photo-blogging craziness that has swept the blogosphere. I'm only posting this because it's yet another blogging reference made by the main stream media. Now the general population will marvel at the weirdness of bloggers. Or, other bloggers will spend time reading about something they already know, and marvel at themselves. Probably more of the latter. But I suppose we all like to secretly check ourselves out in the mirror.

    Thursday, March 17, 2005

    Filibuster Cartoons

    This is an amusing site.

    Shizzolator

    Want to have Snoop Dogg translate my site for you? Click here to have the Shizzolator do its trick.

    Selling Your Soul

    This is funny.

    PostSecret

    My secret:

    Ha! I'm not telling!
    To quote Bono: "They say a secret is something you tell one other person; So I’m telling you... child" PostSecret is a blog, a project, and a very interesting idea I wish I had thought of first. The site invites you to send a 4x6 postcard in with a secret you haven't shared with anyone else anonymously. The secrets will be posted on the site. It's a bit voyeuristic to be reading others secrets from the privacy of my computer -- even though it's quite public. Maybe those that are sharing their secrets are voyeurs as well -- or maybe they just want to tell someone, so they're telling the world. Some of the secrets that are shared are quite melancholy, such as:
  • "I haven't spoken to my dad in 10 years ... and it kills me everyday."
  • "I liked myself better as a boy."
  • "I started shooting heroin again."
  • "I wish I was the other twin."
  • "I'm in love with Sam ... but I can't tell him because I am terrified of rejection."
  • And there are more ... there are also some funny ones.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    Lite General Reading

    BusinessWeek March 21stA few articles of interest that kept me company on my daily sojourns to work this week:
  • Sony's Sudden Samurai -- for those who care ... I don't ... but ... this news makes it interesting. Sony's current CEO and Chairman, Nobuyuki Idei, is retiring, and his handpicked replacement, is Sony's current US chief, Sir Howard Stringer. Yes, a gaijin. And Stringer plans to rule the roost from New York, mostly -- spending maybe one week a month in Tokyo. That's quite the shift. Will he be as successful as another famous gaijin, Carlos Ghosn, who currently runs Nissan and Renault? Well, there is hope. For starters, Stringer will be seeking advice from Ghosn, who sits on Sony's board. Expect heads to start rolling shortly -- in the thousands.
  • Why Boeing's Culture Breeds Turmoil -- hey, when the new CEO follows the ways of the old CEO and does the dirty with another executive, VP Debra Peabody, you know there's problems in a company -- and I think it goes beyond culture. Not sure what the hell it is though. (You can find pictures of the two horny executives here.) Was the affair between the married Stonecipher and the divorced Peabody wrong? IMHO it was nobody's business -- including the company's -- just as long as they didn't let their relationship influence their business conduct. Was there a moral or ethical issue here? Who knows -- who cares -- it was their personal business. I think the who affair thing has been blown out of proportion.
  • The Ties That Bind Delhi and Washington -- got to love the imperialism of the United States. Hoping to contain China and Iran, Washington is cozying up to a wary Delhi, but India is still pissed over the special treatment Pakistan has been getting for helping the US crack down on Afghanistan. Trying to make India see China and Iran as threats may not work however. India has been building commercial relationships with both countries, even though it competes with China for political and military influence in Asia. (BusinessWeek Online also has a glimpse into the lawless and poverty stricken India -- it's a country huge disparities and equally huge potential.)
  • Why the Next Pope May Be a Surprise -- yes, another story of the Pope. He's still alive. The only thing that I found interesting here was that Gelasius I was the first African Pope, and he died in 496 -- but he wasn't black -- just born in Africa, of Roman descent.
  • Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    Rap Inspired Drinks

    CRUNK!!!?
    Pimp Juice?
    DefCon3?
    Bong Water?
    WTF?
    High energy drinks and their extreme marketing have gone to a new level to out-compete the competition. Some questionable acts:
  • CRUNK!!! ... the three exclamation marks really make some kind of point.
  • Pimp Juice ... launched by rapper Nelly, hoping to capitalize on his song of the same name that boasts such erudite lyrics as "Pimp juice - oooooooooh-ooooooooh-hoooooooo; I think I need to let it loose (might think I need to let it loose); Let her loose, let her loooooose; She only want me for my pimp juice (that's all she want me for f'real); Not my pimp juice, I'm talkin new pimp juice; I think I need to cut her loose (it's time for homegirl to recognize); Yes I do, yes I doooooo-hoooo" You just know his mommy is proud of him.
  • DefCon 3 ... an energy drink from Russell Simmons.
  • Bong Water ... the drink will not give you a high. Really.
  • Social Responsibility

    ISO is tackling a new standard -- the standard on social responsibility. The standard will be voluntary, and not have certification tied to it, but considering the clout that ISO wields, early adopters may use the standard as a strategic differentiator. It will most likely cover such topics as child-labour, equal rights, workplace safety and perhaps even philanthropy. The ISO website has a few presentations that were part of its conference on the topic last year -- they make for an interesting read.

    Monday, March 14, 2005

    MacMini into VW GTi

    Matt Turner is a guy with time on his hands. So much time in fact, that he's put a MacMini into his Volkswagon GTi. Then he went on to install a couple of iPod docks so he could take his music everywhere. Now that's customized!

    Sunday, March 13, 2005

    Random Funnies

  • Sorry Everybody -- Americans apologize for Bush.
  • Pizza Ordering [SWF] -- in the near future, this could be your nightmare.
  • Video Phone [WMV] -- why video phones aren't such a good idea (nudity).
  • Get back to work [WMV] -- a Japanese commercial.
  • Stupidity [WMV] -- where's Darwin?
  • Edelman on Google's Blogspot and Spyware

    Dummy
    Sometimes, smart people with PhDs are just dumb. Take Ben Edelman, a Harvard PhD candidate -- he claims that Google's Blogspot service allows itself to be exploited by the pushers of adware and spyware programs. His argument is that Google allows Javascript to be used in the headers and navigation bars of Blogspot hosted blogs -- and that feature allows pushers of spyware to insert their nefarious programs into blogs, which then pushes the programs onto users computers when they read blogs. The biggest culprit that takes advantage of users websites is iWebTunes -- a company that installs spywares on machines. Edelman contends however, that "because it's Google, you feel like you can trust it at least a little bit."

    Hello stupid? Google can't stop people from having iWebTunes on their site, and can't stop iWebTunes from hijacking your computer if you're stupid enough to click on their pop-ups. Why go after Google? Why not accuse Dell of selling PCs that can be hijacked by spyware? Or Microsoft for making a browser with security holes? Why not blame Al Gore for creating an internet that has spyware?

    Read the article from InternetNews. BobBen Edelman has done some smart work -- basically analysing data and forming conclusions -- in this instance however, his conclusions are dumb.

    Friday, March 11, 2005

    Africa Now: Untold Stories

    March 11-12, Carleton University

    Oracle's New Enemy

    BusinessWeek has an interview with Oracle's President, Charles Phillips, on their recent bidding contest with SAP for Retek. In the interview, Phillips admits that Oracle always needs an enemy, and in SAP, they've found one. After the PeopleSoft acquisition, SAP acquired the PeopleSoft maintenance company, Tomorrow Now. That really got Ellison fuming -- so now he refers to SAP as "sap." When Phillips was asked why Ellison refers to SAP that way, he replied, "He likes calling them "sap."" The industry needs Ellison. Where else can you get entertainment like that?

    Thursday, March 10, 2005

    Be Cool

    Saw the movie tonight. It was funny. The best however, was The Rock as a black, gay bodyguard, wannabe singer, wannabe actor. The guy can actually act. Wow! Check out photos and clips from Yahoo! Movies.

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    New Infrared Galaxies

    NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered "hidden population of monstrously bright galaxies approximately 11 billion light-years away." The galaxies are far away and shrouded in dust, but were discovered in the infrared to be incredibly bright. Researchers are studying these galaxies to determine if they could be precursors to galaxies like the Milky Way, which are fainter, but less murky.

    SCO on the Rocks

    BusinessWeek is reporting on SCO's woes as it struggles with its lawsuit against IBM. Seems like Darl McBride is about to get a whipping he won't soon forget.

    NAACP's Relevancy

    As much as blacks have accomplished in the US -- and this can be extended to the rest of North America and the western nations -- they still have a-ways to go. In the US, their largest minority status has been overtaken by the Hispanics -- and with that, the politics of pandering to minorities have also shifted to the interests of Hispanics. Blacks remain under-represented across the many measures of success as a group. Despite this, the group most identified with representing the interests of blacks (and by extension, minorities) in the US, the NAACP, remains the most widespread voice for blacks in America -- but that status may be something that blacks will also be losing shortly, as the NAACP continues to lose relevancy with black youth. Today, only 14% of the NAACP membership is filled by those 25 years old or younger. The gap between the old guard and the new continues to grow, threatening to render the NAACP to graveyard unless it changes. Is there hope? Maybe -- but it will take leadership.

    Firing People

    The February issue of CIO Magazine has an article by Michael Schrage that advises, "the most cost-effective way to dramatically improve your IT organization's implementation of a new system, app or upgrade is to make sure you fire the right person." Rather than taking the negative view of firing someone -- the disruption to a team, the emotional roller-coaster, etc., Schrage suggests that firing someone who's just a pain in the ass is a great boost morale and heighten concentration. Sometimes it's hard to fire that right person, because that person is incredibly valuable -- but if the cost to the team and productivity is also high, then having integrity to fire them and explain why you did so is even more valuable than the loss.

    Monday, March 07, 2005

    Futures

    MSN Spaces

    Microsoft has joined the blogging world. Their MSN Spaces offering has been rolled out and is quickly picking users. It looks neat. Quite colourful, quite flashy, and filled with links to Microsoft's other offerings. The neatest thing of all is at the bottom, where Microsoft claims copyright over the content being produced. Yes, neat! Your blog, but they own it.

    Having said that, Microsoft has made it easy for new bloggers. The design and setup is fairly easy and user friendly. They limit you to 10MB of storage, which is really crap compared to the unlimited storage you get with Blogger. MSN Spaces also allows for mobile posting, trackbacks and everything else that has become standard fare with most blogging tools. They even track visitor statistics for you. Overall, it is one convenient package to disseminate your drivel. But I will stick to Blogger and my own domain name -- a feature Microsoft doesn't support -- so forget publishing from MSN Spaces to your own site. It won't work.

    Sunday, March 06, 2005

    Business of Nanotech

    BusinessWeek Feb. 14th
    The world of the small means loads of money for the world of the large. Everyday it seems, a new product crops up with new promises, thanks to the exploitation of the extraordinary behaviour of matter, at the nanoscale level. What's amazing isn't just that matter behave differently at extremely small scales -- but, the mixing nano-materials with regular matter produces remarkable results -- and, remarkable products coming to a retail shelf near you, soon. This coming ubiquity of nanotech will mean disruption to entire industries. At the nanoscale level, there is no difference between biology, chemistry, physics and electronics. There are well established companies that rule the roost in those science-specific industries. The aggregation of the sciences with nanotech will mean opportunities for startups to grab the torch from the establishment -- and for smart companies, it will mean dominance until the next big thing comes along. Read more at BusinessWeek.

    Articles of Note

    BusinessWeek, March 7th
    This past week on the subway, I occupied myself with the latest BusinessWeek magazine. Here are the articles of note from the March 7th issue:
  • Rewiring the Body -- the cover article of this issue delves into the exotic new remedies for ailments that have no cure. The topic is body implants that issue a targeted and mild jolt of electricity when needed. Sounds almost diabolical -- I was expecting mad-scientists types to be interviewed -- but, when you look at the diseases they're tackling and the promises the few trials have shown, you'll see that they may be on to something here. The human body is wired for electricity, so there's got to be something there. Some of problems being tackled with new electric stimulation includes, deafness, migraine headaches, post-stroke paralysis, Parkinson's disease, chronic pain in the back or legs, bladder incontinence, epilepsy, depression and obesity.
  • The Coming of ZTE -- you've probably never heard of them, but they're coming. ZTE is China's No. 2 cellular-gear manufacturer, and they're about to go global. Watch out Nokia and Motorola. That companies from emerging markets will rise to challenge those of developed markets is something I had previously blogged about from a global economic perspective. Check out the previous post.
  • Mad Cow's Stubborn Mystery -- after over a decade of studying mad cow disease, scientists still know little about it. Mad cow disease, or the human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, is caused by malformed proteins, prions, that literally eat holes in the brain, leading eventually to death -- in some people. Scientists don't know why the proteins become malformed, what triggers mutation in other proteins, and why only some people are affected by it.
  • The Next Generation -- where is big media heading? Digital. BusinessWeek follows the next generation of big media executives. A good read if you want to know where the pabulum for your brain will be coming from in the coming decade.
  • Radio Ga-ga

    Wired Magazine
    Both BusinessWeek and Wired are reporting on the changing landscape of radio. Forget the one-size-fits-all approach of today's radio. Tomorrow's radio will be customized to individual's tastes -- it will be an arena where niche services thrive and one-size-fits-all radio will lose relevancy. This new radio goes beyond satellite radio. It takes the form of digital radio across the airwaves and podcasting across the internet.

    Wired Magazine has greater coverage, with articles covering Howard Stern's move to satellite radio; an interview with Sex Pistol's guitarist cum indie radio DJ, Steve Jones; and, an interview with Adam Curry, former MTV VJ, and now geek-god to the podcasting crowd. It was enough to make even me want to jump on the 'band'wagon.

    Saturday, March 05, 2005

    Free Trade and Lawsuits

    What troubles the States now ...
    I was just reading the Canadian Cynic's post questioning why the Canadian beef industry couldn't just sue the US government under NAFTA's Chapter 11 for financial damages due to the banning of Canadian beef. I can't think of a good reason why it can't be done -- especially after reading this recent article in BusinessWeek, in which the States are bemoaning the lost off sovereignty due to trade pacts the US federal government makes.

    Bl©gs

    InformationWeek, Jan. 31st
    I work for a fairly large Canadian company -- but you'll hardly hear me directly mention the company on my blog, or discuss the business that's happening there. That's not because I'm uninterested or that work is boring -- far from it, in fact. I don't discuss work because this site is mine, my content and I own it -- not my employer. I also don't want to get fired, or in anyway negatively impact the perception of my employer or company's finances. This has nothing do with with fear -- it's just the smart thing to do -- and being a shareholder in the company, I'm also doing it for selfish reasons.

    Having said that however, blogs are slowly inserting themselves into businesses -- not just because employees are choosing to discuss their work in a public forum -- but because some employers believe the benefits of blogs far outweigh the potential dangers. Even so however, the legal minefield that blogs reside in haven't been full mapped. Who owns weblog content and the copyrights? -- both from a value and liability perspective. Who receives the benefits from online advertising? or potential book/movie deals? InformationWeek has a fairly good article on blogs and questions that are being raised as they slowly find a place for themselves in the workplace. The article references a Forrester report produced by Charlene Li.

    Friday, March 04, 2005

    Peeking Into Google

    Google's top engineer, Urs Hoelzle, recently offered a rare behind the scenes glimpse on Google's operations. How does the company manage so much data? Lots of cheap, Wintel machines running a stripped down Linux, that's wired for clustering and redundancy. How are queries managed? -- how is data cached? -- and many other questions are given some high level but revealing answers.

    For more related information, check out:
  • Google: A Behind-the-scenes Look [WMV] -- a presentation by Jeff Dean
  • Other Google Lectures -- from the SearchEngineWatch blog
  • Thursday, March 03, 2005

    Plasmonic Screen

    Objects are seen because of the light that scatters from it. Invisibility can occur only if no light was scattered or absorbed by the object -- if light is absorbed, the energy would raise the temperature of the object, making it radiate. Researchers have theoretically discovered a way of making things invisible by employing plasmons. Plasmons are waves of electron density resulting from electrons on the surface of a metallic object moving in rhythm. If a screen made of plasmons that resonated at the same frequency of an illuminating light was used to shield an object, the screen would reduce the scattering of light, making the screen and object near invisible.

    Are we going to get invisibility cloaks anytime soon? Well, not quite. There are a few problems, the major ones being that, 1) a plasmonic screen would only be effective against one wavelength of light; and, 2) an object being shielded would have to be roughly the same size as the wavelength being shielded from -- so large objects would only be invisible from microwaves. Still, it is an interesting concept that may find applications. (You can read the journal article here. [PDF])

    Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    Virgin Atlantlic GlobalFlyer

    GlobalFlyer
    Burt Rutan, designer of SpaceShipOne that recently won the Ansari X-Price, has designed the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer for rich guy Richard Branson. GlobalFlyer's mission is a non-stop flight around the world, expected to take about 80 hours. The aircraft is piloted by Steve Fossett. As of this post, the aircraft has been in the air for close to 35 hours already.

    Tuesday, March 01, 2005

    Quotable Einstein

    "Politics is for the moment. An equation is for eternity."

    Toronto Auto Show

    Each thumbnail leads to a different gallery. It's about cars. Go figure.

    Car DesignsCarsCarsCars

    Hugging Trees

    While you're out and about blowing your nose at Kimberly-Clark, here's something else to look into -- the ForestLeadership conference, running Tuesday to Thursday in Toronto. The conference will feature participants from Greenpeace, the WWF-Canada, the United Nations Forum on Forests and the USDA Forest Service. The conference recognizes the work in sustainable forestry around the world.

    Kleercut

    Wiping away ancient forests
    Greenpeace is waging war against Kimberly-Clark, makers of the Kleenex brand of tissue, claiming that they are destroying Canada's ancient boreal forests. This week they will be out and about in Ontario, targeting grocery stores to convince you, consumer, that your spending habits can make a change.

    What does Kimberly-Clark have to say about this? After all, they carry the recycled-paper symbol on their boxes of tissue. Well, apparently Kimberly-Clark likes virgins. Referring to the recycled-paper symbol, Kimberly-Clark says on their website:
    This symbol refers only to the content of the carton itself. The KLEENEX® Facial Tissue inside is made from 100 percent virgin fiber and contains no recycled fiber. Virgin fiber is used in our tissue because it provides the superior softness consumers expect from a premium facial tissue product such as KLEENEX® Facial Tissue.
    Ah, they're doing for you, you pampered bastiches -- not for the shareholders. Well, no one is looking. Trust me. Why don't you be a rebel, hug a tree and save the planet. Go on, I won't tell.

    Stupid Tricks ...

    ... are for kids:
    Google Fight -- pit search terms against each other.
    kumquat computer -- a parody site of things corporate
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