All content on this blog from Tim McGhee has moved to the Tim McGhee Substack, and soon, Lord willing, will be found only on that Substack.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Google Code Jam 2003 — Google's annual programming contest kicks off once again. I realized tonight that one of my programming projects that I've never been able to touch would make a great candidate. However, I probably won't have the time to implement it or develop the regex skills it would need.
Google buys search engine - PageRank™ RIP?: "Google has bought Kaltix, a three-month-old, three-man Stanford startup that's working on personalized and context-sensitive search. Despite its battalion of PhDs, Google isn't too proud to acquire external search technologies, and earlier this year bought Applied Semantics for its CIRCA ontology, which 'understands, organizes, and extracts knowledge from websites and information repositories in a way that mimics human thought.'"
NRF Urges Quick Passage of Remote Sales Tax Bill: "The National Retail Federation yesterday asked for quick passage of the Simplified Sales and Use Tax Act of 2003, or H.R. 3184, amplifying the civil war pitting direct marketers against retailers generating most revenue through stores."
Verizon to unveil fast wireless access: "As cell phone companies rush to catch the next wave of mobile technology, Verizon Wireless this week will launch a super-fast wireless data service that allows laptop users to connect to the Internet at speeds comparable to those offered by cable modems or digital subscriber lines."

Monday, September 29, 2003

Samba 3 Arrives: "Samba is a well-known, open-source drop-in replacement for Microsoft's Server Message Block (SMB)/Common Internet File System (CIFS) powered file and print services. The newest version, Samba 3, is just out, and it works better than ever with Active Directory."
QUALCOMM Congratulates Verizon Wireless on Deployment of CDMA Networks in Major U.S. Cities: "QUALCOMM Incorporated, pioneer and world leader of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) digital wireless technology, congratulates Verizon Wireless on its commercial deployment of CDMA2000 1xEV-DO service and applications in metropolitan Washington, D.C. and San Diego.

The third-generation (3G), high-speed data network, marketed under the name BroadbandAccess, will be available to customers in these two markets beginning Wednesday, October 1, 2003. ..."
Sprint, Nextel make numbers portable: "Sprint PCS and Nextel Communications said Monday they've agreed on a process to let each others' customers switch carriers later this year but keep their old cell phone numbers.

Both Sprint PCS and Nextel Communications said they've had no guidance from the FCC about how to "govern the exchange of information" needed to meet the mandate, according to a statement from both carriers. "These efforts...have proven extremely difficult given the lack of FCC guidance. ..."
A.C.L.U. Challenges Music Industry in Court: "Stepping up its involvement in the legal conflict over file sharing, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a motion to stop attempts by the music industry to get the name of a Boston College student who is accused of being a large-scale file trader. ..."
P-to-P group asks Congress for help: "At the official launch of the P2P United lobbying group Monday, the P-to-P vendors also called on Congress to consider compulsory licensing of music, a system similar to the fees radio stations pay for music, so that the recording industry is forced to make its music available to P-to-P users for a price.

"The P-to-P vendors, faced with multiple hearings in Congress this year on the dangers of using P-to-P software and with Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lawsuits against their users, said they need to take the offensive in educating Congress about the merits of their software."
Shuttle Archaeology: The Pedigree of Reusable Spaceflight: "Jim Fulton was a member of the Republican minority, but still passed many laws and was a popular member of the Pennsylvania delegation. ...James Grove Fulton saved the Space Shuttle. And therein lies a story of politics and compromise. ..."
Kennedy's space center rebuilding dreams, trust: "Kennedy Space Center's new director has spent years managing the complicated machines of the shuttle program. Yet Jim Kennedy's greatest gift may be the way he deals with colleagues, those who know him say."
Space Station Stay Shows Humans Could Go to Mars: "Astronauts stranded for two extra months aboard the International Space Station after the shuttle Columbia accident showed that humans are strong enough to make the long trip to Mars, one of the expedition's members said on Monday.

"Donald Pettit, one of three members of the station's Expedition Six, said he and his two crew-mates who spent 161 days on the space station inadvertently demonstrated humans' fitness for interplanetary travel. ...

"We were on orbit in a reduced-gravity environment for 5-1/2 months, about as long as a one-way trip to Mars," Pettit said. "We got in our own vehicle, piloted it down to Earth through an air-brake maneuver ... Without any help from the ground we secured the spacecraft, we opened the hatch, we crawled out ..."

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Assembly bill addresses rights in failed abortion: "A baby born alive after an abortion attempt has a right to the same medical treatment as a baby that is wanted. And a child who 'draws air into and expels it out of the lungs one or more times' is alive."
Tension builds as longtime partners' strategies collide: "In recent months, Motorola has angered Nextel Communications Inc. by helping the Virginia-based wireless carrier's rivals beef up their services and opposing a key growth initiative for Nextel."
Handspring Treo 600 Nears Release: "After a well-hyped summer, Handspring Inc.'s Treo 600 is about to make its debut into the real world. Sprint PCS Group, Cingular Wireless LLC, AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and T-Mobile USA Inc. all plan to start selling the Palm OS-based smart phone, starting in the fall. Sprint PCS will start selling the device for around $500 in October, according to officials at the Overland Park, Kan., company."
RadioShack sees no distruption from Motorola snags: "Earlier on Friday, Verizon Wireless, one of Motorola's biggest customers, said the world's second-largest wireless phone maker would not be able to ship its upcoming digital camera phones in time for the holidays, raising concern among investors."
Brownback Questions RIAA's Senate Testimony: "U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.) said late Wednesday the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) decision to drop a copyright infringement lawsuit against a Boston grandmother calls into the question the RIAA's testimony last week before the Senate Commerce Committee that the music industry was not unfairly targeting alleged downloaders."
Kazaa files copyright complaint against RIAA, others: "The maker of the popular Kazaa peer-to-peer software has turned the tables on the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and a number of entertainment companies by suing them for copyright infringement.

"Earlier this week, Sharman Networks Ltd., the company that distributes the Kazaa Media Desktop software, accused the RIAA and several entertainment companies of violating its copyrights by downloading an unauthorized version of the Kazaa file-sharing software and using it to hunt down the IP (Internet Protocol) addresses of alleged music downloaders."
Giving NASA Glenn a lift: "Unlike his four brothers and his father, Julian Manly Earls wasn't called to the pulpit. Still, the man who assumes the top job at NASA Glenn Research Center believes God has influenced his work.
'I think there's been a lot of divine intervention with things that have happened to me and for me,' he says.

"Earls could use more of that help as he takes over as NASA Glenn's director next week. The research center in recent years has suffered staff and budget cutbacks and lost projects to other centers. Critics, including Gov. Bob Taft, have chastised NASA Glenn for failing to contribute sufficiently to Ohio's economic growth. And employees surveyed this year gave dismal grades to their managers. ...

"He's waiting until Wednesday's handoff from outgoing Director Donald Campbell before commenting specifically on his plans. Yet he concedes the public's awareness of NASA Glenn needs to step up significantly: "I can't tell you how many times I hear people say NASA Glenn is the best-kept secret in Northeast Ohio. ..."
Dogged Engineer's Effort to Assess Shuttle Damage: "New interviews and newly revealed e-mail sent during the fatal mission show that the engineers' desire for outside help in getting a look at the shuttle's wing was more intense and widespread than was described in the Aug. 26 final report of the board investigating the accident."

Friday, September 26, 2003

Dell opens its doors to home electronics: "In another sign that Dell is growing beyond its PC roots, the computer maker announced details concerning its home entertainment products.

"On Wednesday, Dell CEO Michael Dell spoke in general terms about his vision of the PC becoming the nerve center of home entertainment, but he was vague about how the company would realize that vision. ...

"Many expect Dell to be a significant influence in the consumer electronics market because of its well-known direct business model, which tends to drive down margins and costs, to the benefit of consumers but the detriment of competitors.

Dell hinted at the company's plans to lower costs in the consumer electronics market, referring to 'inefficiencies' in the retail model and consumer electronics business. ..."
Talking Cars for Less Congestion: "BMW's ConnectedDrive research vehicles can communicate to one another exchanging information on traffic, weather and road conditions directly from car to car by means of WirelessLAN communication technology."
Internet Is the 'Youth Medium of Choice': "The National Retail Federation's opened its annual summit yesterday with a reminder to retailer attendees that teen-agers are doing more than just chatting, entertaining or listening to music online.

"Quoting a Teenage Research Unlimited spring study, Teen People Trendspotters manager Tristan Coopersmith said 42 percent of teens online have bought over the Internet. 'This is a wired generation,' she said. 'The Internet has become the youth medium of choice.' ...

"Teenage Research data ... showed teens last year were responsible for $170 billion in spending. That is 30 percent of overall national consumer spending, according to the South Florida Sentinel newspaper. ..."
NTT says may join Linux OS development team: "Japan's Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp (NTT) said on Thursday it was considering joining Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), a global consortium for accelerating the adoption of the Linux operating system. NTT would be the first [of the] major telecoms operator to join OSDL ..."
Sprint's moves win early praise, but work only starting: "Sprint Corp.'s dramatic reorganization already has gained the support of the often-skeptical community of industry analysts and consultants. ...

"Sprint CEO Gary Forsee is making his bet. His goal: get away from selling commoditized services (local, long-distance and wireless [and Internet/DSL]) from a middle-of-the-pack position. Instead, sell all three together nationwide in a way that cannot be replicated.

"Ultimately, the transformation represents a fundamental shift for Sprint that I expect will move us forward to a new level of performance," Forsee said in the same written release that pointed to annual $1 billion cost-cutting efforts. Former Sprint executives said the idea had been talked about at the company before, but the trigger was never pulled. ...

"Industry observers said a sweeping change that puts the company in an industry-leading position would be convincing enough. ... Even if there are mass layoffs, Gartner's Neil said he likes the idea of cost-cutting coming through a focused reorganization, as opposed to CEOs just slashing the work force when costs get too high. ..."
Net guru peers into web's future: "The inventor of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, outlines his ideas for a more 'intelligent' web in an interview with the BBC programme, Go Digital."

Semantic Web, meaning, digital organisms, ... philosophy vs. data interoperability. What fun!
RIAA Drops Piracy Suit Against 66-Year-Old Grandmother: "On Friday, the Recording Industry Association of America withdrew its lawsuit against Sarah Seabury Ward of Newbury, Massachusetts, after the 66-year-old grandmother said she had never used or even downloaded any peer-to-peer file-sharing software. Bolstering her claim is the fact that Ward and her husband own a Macintosh computer, which is incompatible with the Kazaa file-sharing network they're accused of using to share more than 2,000 songs. ..."

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Millions still without power a week after Hurricane Isabel: "The devastation left behind by Hurricane Isabel, which struck the mid-Atlantic United States on September 18-19, raises new questions about the decay of the US infrastructure, particularly the electrical power system whose critical weaknesses were already exposed in the blackout that hit eight states in the Northeast and Midwest a month ago. ...

"More than 15 million people lost electricity services in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, the area hardest hit, and 3 million were still without power Wednesday, September 24, a full week after the storm. The two biggest utilities, Dominion Electric in Virginia and Potomac Electric Power (Pepco) in the Washington DC area, said that some customers would not have their power restored until two weeks after the storm. ...

"Several hundred school buildings were without power in Washington and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs, about one-sixth of the total, forcing class cancellations for tens of thousands of school children. A second rainstorm on Tuesday, September 22 forced many schools that had reopened to shut down because of renewed outages and flooding. ...

"The storm had a dramatic impact on many regional landmarks: ... Alexandria, Virginia’s historic Old Town area was under 10 feet of water ...

"A representative of the Insurance Information Institute estimated the total cost of Hurricane Isabel as $5 billion, half of it damage to businesses and public infrastructure, half of it damage to homes. Because of changes in insurance coverage in the aftermath of the devastating financial losses caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, as well as smaller storms over the past decade, only 20 percent of damage will be covered. The bulk of the repair cost will come out of the pockets of homeowners and small businessmen, driving many weaker companies into bankruptcy.

"The impact of the storm on the electrical system was far more severe than expected in the hours before Isabel arrived. The power distribution lines, in particular, proved to be extremely vulnerable to what was, in the final analysis, a comparatively modest weather event. ..."
Jobless Claims Drop in Wake of Hurricane: "The number of idled workers seeking jobless benefits for the first time fell sharply last week, dragged down in the wake of Hurricane Isabel, to its lowest level since early February, the government said on Thursday.

"First-time claims, which give an early reading on the resilience of the labor market, fell steeper than expected to 381,000 in the Sept. 20 week, down from a revised 400,000 a week earlier, and to its lowest since 378,000 in the Feb. 8 week. ...

"About 50 percent of the decline is a result of the power outages from Hurricane Isabel that forced the closure of state offices in such areas as North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia," said a Labor Department spokesman. ...

"The closely watched four-week moving average, regarded by economists as a truer reflection of the market than the more volatile weekly figure, fell to 407,000 in the Sept. 20 week from 411,000 in the previous week, and was above the key 400,000 mark for the fourth straight week.

"Economists view claims above the 400,000 mark as a sign of a lackluster jobs market."

If that's a 4-week moving average, office closings in 3 of 50 states is unlikely the sole cause of the drop. With retail sales forecasts up for the end of this year, this is yet another sign pointing to a strengthening economy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Ex-NASA Adviser Warns of Station Accident: "A serious accident is waiting to happen on the International Space Station due to poor communications between American and Russian engineers, says one of the nine members of a NASA safety panel who resigned Tuesday."
New E-paper could show moving images too: "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."
Ads On National Mall Could Be Limited: "The Senate wants to make sure the National Mall is open to the people but not to a corporate sponsor. In a 92 to 4 vote, the Senate backed a measure requiring that all permits for Mall events ban advertisements from structures and signs.

"The measure comes after a Mall concert to kick-off the National Football League season three weeks ago. That event was sponsored by Pepsi. The Senate's measure allows the sponsor to display its name, but the corporate logo can only be a third of the size of the sign identifying the special event."
New Study on Foul Language Raises False Alarm: "I don't think we're losing any sense of morality," says Professor of Linguistics Donna Jo Napoli. "We're as judgmental and moralistic as ever. We just change what we see as bad."

In a sense, she's right. We're just as sinful as we've always been.
Are Web Services Really the Answer?: "This is Part One of a two-part series on the current state of enterprise IT by Ray Lane, General Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. In it, Mr. Lane lays bare the frustration many CEOs feel these days. ..."

"Enterprises try to do most anything. They try to reorganize; they try to change business policies or practices; they try to acquire a new company or move into a new market sector. And with all this, the number one challenge they have is IT. They're told by the IT department, 'Well, we just can't do that now. You have to wait a couple of years.' So it is not a pleasing experience when everything in the organization reacts except for IT.

"If you're a CEO, you have every department business function with different technology that has different standards, different data definitions, different ERP methods, different semantics, different automation competencies. So when you try to do something that is cross-departmental or cross-functional, it is extremely hard to do. ..."

"The CIO's perspective is different. If you're the CIO, then you're caught in the middle. You're in a very precarious position. First of all, you know the CEO is not happy about the responsiveness of IT. At the same time, the CEO wants expenses reduced, so you can't spend your way out of the problem; you can't innovate your way out of the problem. ..."

"... if you're going to reduce the expenses to the enterprise, now it has to be structural, it has to be something that comes out of the fixed cost base, and to do that you have to spend money. So you've got a Catch-22. You can't spend money to get the structural costs out. ..."

"The software industry's answer to all this is Web services. That's the next big thing. It's supposed to solve a lot of problems. When you talk to most of the large suppliers, they spill a bunch of acronyms and say all this will allow you to integrate. But it won't; it just won't. There are standards, and certainly messaging and integration are easier, but we don't know yet how to handle the semantic differences..."

"The enterprise is very lost. It's as if you came to the Bay Area for the first time and wanted to get to Oakland. You're there at the airport and you stop to ask directions of ten different people, and they are all experts only on their own little locale. So they can tell you how to get anywhere in Atherton or Woodside, but all they know about Oakland is that it's somewhere to the east. What are you supposed to do with that?

"That's how the enterprise feels today. Everybody is giving them a way to get there that is only a partial solution; it gets them only so far. What they need is for someone to say 'I'll just drive you there for 50 bucks. I'll get you there.'"

How sad is it when the department, IT, with the most potential for enabling an enterprise to function as a responsive organism is, in fact, the least responsive.

Perhaps that's due in part to a lack of acknowledgement by those on the executive management level of the overarching nature of IT within an organization. As in, not only is the CIO held back by budgetary constraints as described above, but also by access and other political hurdles.

It helps to have humility within the organization to lower those barriers. That is, if IT can't be allowed to rise to that level, perhaps others can more voluntarily lower the barriers to communication.

But more than that, everyone needs training in how they can best be responsive and effective with IT. The problem is, few folks in IT itself fully understand their potential, much less have the communication skills to teach others even if they did understand.

Need help getting there?
Hurricane Forecasts Mark Gains in Science: "Like a football team that tries to lower expectations even as it keeps winning, hurricane forecasters don't want their success with Hurricane Isabel to make anyone complacent. ..."

"This was the first year the center has issued five-day forecasts of the expected storm track, and those forecasts were more accurate than three-day forecasts of a decade ago. With Isabel, for example, the hurricane's predicted location in five days was off by about 166 miles. The average three-day forecast of a hurricane's path was off by more than 200 miles between 1994 and 2002 and 300 miles between 1984 and 1993. ..."

"Helping forecasters in Isabel's case was a strong high pressure area over the northwest Atlantic Ocean. The wind revolving in a clockwise direction around the high provided a powerful steering current for the storm. ..."

"[I]n 1938 a deadly hurricane approached Florida then turned north. Forecasters lost track of it until it slammed into Long Island and New England, claiming more than 600 lives. ..."

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Google tests local search: "Mountain View, Calif.-based Google said Monday that Google Labs, the search company's research-and-development arm, unveiled a program that lets people type in a search term, along with an address or ZIP code, to find Web results and a miniature map from within the area. ..."

Microsoft Takes Windows XP To 64 Bits For AMD: "Microsoft on Tuesday launched a beta version of its Windows XP operating system that supports AMD's new 64-bit Athlon on the desktop and the chipmaker's Opteron 64-bit processor on workstations and servers. A final version will be released in the first half of 2004, Microsoft said."


Ice Shelf Break in Arctic Attributed to Climate Warming ( "The largest ice shelf in the Northern Hemisphere has broken in two, draining a freshwater lake beneath the ice and providing further evidence of climate change in the Earth's Arctic reaches, scientists said yesterday."


White House Unveils New Effort to Implement Faith-Based Plan: "The White House announced Monday additional regulations and new proposed rules aimed at moving President Bush's faith-based initiative forward in the administration's attempt to increase access to federal funding for religious social service programs."


RadioShack, Mobility in development deal: "RadioShack has formed an alliance with computer peripherals maker Mobility Electronics to jointly develop and market power adapters and new power sources for devices including digital cameras and wireless phones.

"Under the multiyear agreement, Mobility will supply all of the combination AC/DC power products and remote power adapter programming products sold at RadioShack's more than 7,000 retail stores.

"RadioShack is turning more attention to product innovation, with plans to co-develop or license technology for new items that can be sold exclusively at RadioShack."


Asian Countries Could Deepen Linux's Threat To Windows: "The threat to Microsoft Corp. from the free Linux operating system could intensify with the help of a powerful Asian triumvirate: Japan and South Korea are prodding China to join an effort that promotes alternatives to Windows.

"Japan has earmarked $8.6 million for the project and will host a meeting in November for the three governments to boost research in Linux, including flavors that better handle Asian languages."


Landlines could work on mobiles in the USA: "The US landline network, Verizon Communications and the CDMA mobile operator, Verizon Wireless have announced that they will permit number portability between landline numbers and mobile numbers, from this November.

"The agreement means Verizon customers will be able to switch their home phone numbers to a mobile phone with service from Verizon Wireless, and vice versa."


META: Full-Time Telecommuting Has Doubled Since 2000

"META Group, Inc. research indicates that full-time telecommuters (those who have no workplace other than a home office) have doubled in number since 2000. Add to this teleworkers who spend more than 50% of their time working outside an office, and the number becomes staggering. Enterprises that ensure these workers are provided with appropriate tools and support are able to continue business as usual regardless of circumstance.

"Enterprises must establish guidelines for telecommuters traversing the remote site (home office) and for accommodations while within corporate premises. This strategy will ensure business continuity regardless of physical location," said Elizabeth Ussher, vice president with META Group's Technology Research Services. "Teleworkers in many industries (e.g., high tech, finance, sales) have become an integral part of the workforce -- their demands are increasingly seen as legitimate and taken into consideration when crafting an IT strategy."


Nasa flight safety panel quits: "All 11 members of Nasa's space flight security panel have resigned in the wake of criticism over the loss of the space shuttle Columbia earlier this year.

"The panel was created in 1967 after a fire broke out during preparations for the Apollo 1 space flight, when three astronauts died."


"The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) said in its report on the disaster that the panel lacked influence."


In a letter to Nasa administrator Sean O'Keefe announcing the resignations, panel chairwoman Shirley McCarty said: "This will give you and the Congress the freedom to revitalise the panel and reshape its charter and mission."


Storms Add to Misery in Hurricane-Ravaged Parts of US: "Five days after Hurricane Isabel ripped through the U.S. East Coast causing widespread flooding and power outages, torrential rain hit Virginia and Maryland overnight, adding to the region's many problems."

Yeah, no kidding. Flooding on Route 7 this morning increased my commute by more than an hour today!

Monday, September 22, 2003

Clinton nemesis to launch bid for U.S. Senate: "Larry Klayman -- well known around Washington for his relentless pursuit of the Clintons during the 90s and more recently for suing Vice President Cheney -- has decided he wants to join Hillary Rodham Clinton, one of his prime targets over the years, in the U.S. Senate.

"Klayman, a Republican, tells The Associated Press that he'll seek the seat now occupied by Democrat Bob Graham of Florida. Graham is running for president, though he has not ruled out returning to the Senate for a fourth term.

"Klayman has lived in Miami for the last 9 years, shuttling back from time to time to the nation's capital, where the conservative watchdog group he founded in 1994, Judicial Watch, is based.

"Corruption and government waste will be key issues of his campaign, Klayman said, as will security in the Sunshine State."


Sunday, September 21, 2003

Microsoft goes after Google: "Chairman Bill Gates, Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and a handful of other executives sat down in February to answer a question asked countless times before in the world's largest software maker's 28-year history. Should Microsoft build or buy?

"What they decided was to build technology that would eventually surpass Google Inc.'s ability to sift through the Web and return results relevant enough to make it the top Internet search destination."


"But analysts have interpreted the decision to build as a sign that Microsoft has greater ambitions for search, including plans to make it part of the Windows operating system, the company's main cash cow."


"At the core of Microsoft's decision is a belief that search technology is still in its infancy. 'Search engines are doing a good job but not a perfect job,' said [Kirk] Koenigsbauer, [strategy manager at Microsoft's MSN Internet portal,] adding most search results today 'don't deliver the results people are looking for.' (sic)"


U.K. phone retailer bans e-mail

John Caudwell, CEO of High Street mobile retailer Phones 4U, announced Thursday that he'll ban all employees from using e-mail across the business.


The ban will apply to Phones 4U's roughly 2,500 employees who Caudwell believes will find themselves with an extra three hours a day on their hands. He said he introduced the "no e-mail policy" after seeing staff becoming chained to their computers, rather than talking to colleagues or customers in person.

[...] : Washington Rebounds From Hurricane Isabel: "As work crews cleaned up the mess Hurricane Isabel left in the nation's capital, the National Mall became a refuge Saturday for some of the hundreds of thousands in the region whose home still lacked electric power."


"Cindy Goad and her husband, Chris, who lost electricity at their home in Richmond, Va., about 100 miles south of Washington, decided to pack their bags, head to a hotel in D.C. and tour the city's landmarks with their sons. 'It's either eat cold food and peanut butter sandwiches, and look at each other and listen to a radio until the batteries run out, or go someplace,' Chris Goad said.

"The Washington Monument, which reopened Saturday after being shuttered because of Isabel, was teeming with tourists waiting to ride to the top of the 555-foot-tall obelisk. National Park Service crews were up at dawn replacing the 50 U.S. flags surrounding the monument. A crewman in a white cherry picker replaced the flags, left tattered and torn by the worst storm to hit the region in years."


Hurricane Isabel: Storm in a teacup - The Times of India: "in some ways, the build up for Hurricane Isabel was as fearful as one for an Armageddon.

"In Washington, the government shut down, roads and parks were deserted, stores and supermarkets shuttered down, public transport halted, airports closed down.

"For a few hours, no man or beast roamed the streets. In a word, it was spooky. People loaded up on food, water, candles, batteries and other essentials and hunkered down. It was almost as if Death was coming visiting."


"The storm in the teacup did not prevent the stately Washington Post from posting a mere 27 stories and 28 visuals scattered across Friday's edition, including such arresting trivia as the 275,000 square miles of cloud cover the hurricane generated. At an average 750 words a story, that amounted to around 20,000 words. Throw in the visuals and you get a decent sized book.

"Was it such a big deal, you might ask, considering that the last monster storm, the Force 5 Hurricane Andrew, didn't get as much build-up or coverage?

"The answer, my friends, came from just about any new immigrant you spoke to. They, the Chinese, the Vietnamese, the Indians, the Mexicans, were about the only people who stuck to their work amid the hurricane hysteria.

"And in their minds, the United States is a country now perpetually in search of a crisis. If it's not Iraq, it's a power outage, if not power breakdown, it's an impending hurricane."


Wireless carriers embrace truism: Youth are the future: "Alexa Miller, 17, got her first mobile phone -- a snazzy purple one with a digital camera that hooks in -- when she was 15. That was already behind most of her friends, the Overland Park teen-ager said.

"Younger siblings will be armed with the wireless devices even earlier. Kim Miller, Alexa's mother, said she'll let her two younger daughters have mobile phones at 11 or 12 years old. 'It's a good way to keep tabs on them,' Kim Miller said.

"Somewhere, the CEOs of America's largest wireless carriers are smiling. Although they are not saying so outwardly, the wireless companies have become fixated on these young subscribers.

"That's because only 28 percent of 13- to 19-year-olds have a mobile device, according to IDC, a researcher based in Framingham, Mass.; penetration exceeds 50 percent in older groups. In addition, this group of teens and preteens -- part of a demographic echo made of baby boomer offspring -- is a population bubble on par with baby boomers themselves.

"That presents a huge opportunity for subscriber growth as it begins to slow industrywide. Just as the Happy Meal created a generation of fast-food eaters, the camera phone with customized ringers and two-way text messaging aims to create a generation of heavy wireless users."


I rent from a family with two children, one a newly 13-year old. Guess what she got for her birthday!

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Dominion Power: It could be a while: "Dominion Virginia Power reiterated in more ominous terms Friday that its Hampton Roads customers may be without power for long periods of time.

"'It will be a few days before we can even project how long this outage is going to last,' said Dominion spokesman Dan Genest."

"Damage caused by Hurricane Isabel's wind and rain was 'catastrophic' in parts of the region, said Dominion's senior vice president of operations Jimmy D. Staton, meaning the utility will have to 'rebuild rather than repair' in places."


The Non-Innovator's Dilemma

"The Gehman Report on the Columbia disaster was recently released, and it had appropriately harsh criticism of NASA's management, and in particular, its 'culture.' Most observers lauded the report, but there have been a few dissenters (including yours truly, at least as far as its prescription for the future of space transportation)."


"NASA is in a box, and it's not one caused by the Shuttle design per se, and it's one that they won't escape by developing an Orbital Space Plane (OSP), or any new vehicle. The agency is trapped by all-too-paltry ambition and vision, on the part of policy makers, for our nation's future in space."


"Much of NASA's 'culture' problem is in fact a symptom rather than a cause -- a symptom of too many years of believing that all wisdom about things space resides at the agency, a belief nurtured by an often fawning and ignorant press and a political establishment that values pork over progress. It's not a problem that NASA can solve, in and of itself. It will require a much broader discussion of national space policy, far beyond NASA's role."


Coleman tackles recording industry: "In 1970, a long-haired Norm Coleman stood in front of his fellow college students on a Long Island campus and shouted 'Power to the people!'

"Hair trimmed, dressed in suit and tie, and now a Republican senator who praises President Bush, the 54-year-old Coleman may have found an outlet for his old counterculture side: investigating the music recording industry.

"Coleman, a freshman from Minnesota, will hold hearings on the Recording Industry Association of America's anti-piracy crackdown, starting on Sept. 30. He said he's worried that the RIAA campaign is heavy-handed and could ensnare 'the little guy.'

"John Moreno, a college friend of Coleman's at Hofstra University, wonders if the young college protester is peeking through. 'The idea of liberating music from the Web would probably have appealed to the 20-year-old Norm Coleman,' said Moreno, who now runs the Center for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Virginia. 'The idea of liberating property for the people would have appealed to him.'

"Coleman, who was once a roadie for the rock group Ten Years After, chuckled as he pondered this analysis. 'You'd have to talk to my therapist - if I had one,' he said.

"Then he added: 'I'm involved in this because I'm a parent. I don't want to make criminals out of kids. I'd like them to have a better sense of right and wrong.'"


Brownback bill would limit music industry's subpoena power

"Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas said he doesn't believe slapping preteens with subpoenas for illegally downloading songs is the way to solve the music industry's piracy problems.

"He said at a Senate hearing this week that the issue is privacy, not piracy.

"The Topeka Republican introduced legislation this week to make it harder for groups such as the Recording Industry Association of America to subpoena Internet service providers, such as Verizon Communications, to divulge personal information about their customers.

"Brownback fears those subpoenas, used currently to track down music file swappers, could be abused by others for a variety of purposes, some unsavory.

"I support strong protections of intellectual property," Brownback said on the Senate floor Tuesday, "but I cannot in good conscience support any tool...that can be used by pornographers, and potentially even more distasteful actors, to collect the identifying information of Americans, especially our children."


Blogs give writers a voice

Consider this a link for good measure to the ranks of those bloggers that have blazed a trail before for newer bloggers such as this one.

Poynter Online - Hurricane Victims, a.k.a. Amateur Journalists

"As Hurricane Isabel rips through the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and leaves countless victims in its wake, an army of writers and photojournalists are covering the storm's impact -- far greater in numbers than have ever covered a hurricane before.

"It's not that the journalism profession has seen an upswell in employment. Rather, it's because a growing number of citizens -- often, victims of the storm's wrath -- are serving as volunteer journalists for this major news story, their work being published by professional news organizations as a supplement to the reporting and photography of professional journalists."


"Some significant developments in the new media world have been swelling to change journalism recently. One of the most notable is the ubiquity of digital cameras, and the growing usage of cell phones with built-in cameras."


"News organizations are starting to get wise to this growing army of citizen camera- and phone-toting photojournalists, so Hurricane Isabel was a prime news story to put the public photos notion to work and request that the public send in photos and first-person text accounts of their hurricane experiences."


1500 flights cancelled by hurricane: "Thousands of travellers were stranded as 19 airports were reported closed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)." : Hurricane Isabel Shuts Down D.C.: "Hurricane Isabel Shuts Down Congress, Subways, Buses and Schools in Washington, D.C."


"I think it's a little overkill," said Sandra de Dubovay, who was visiting from the Los Angeles area. "Some people only have a day here. It is frustrating."


Laurie Dunnell of Enoch, Utah, said she and her family were upset about not getting to take their tour of the White House. Then again, she'd never been in a hurricane before.

"This will be something to see," she said.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Kinko's Opens First Hotspot: "In April, Kinko's and T-Mobile Hotspot announced plans to put hotspots in Kinko's locations around the country. Because both companies call Dallas, Texas, home (the main T-Mobile USA office is in Bellevue, Wash.), the first of those locations goes live today at the Kinko's store on Greenville Avenue there. That launch will feature a 'cutting of the Ethernet cord' by company executives."


"That road warrior marketplace is one of the big differentiators for T-Mobile in getting Kinko's as a partner. While the company's hotspot service is available in many airport lounges which might be frequented by business travelers, its largest partners have been cafés: Starbucks coffee shops (2,300 locations to date) and Borders Books & Music (320 locations to date)."


RadioShack Launches New Platform of Wellness, Fitness, Home Comfort Products: "RadioShack Corporation today announced the launch of LifeWise™, a new brand of products designed to respond to the growing consumer movement toward creating and living healthier lifestyles."

Hurricane shouldn't stop use of cell phones: "With all the destruction Hurricane Isabel could cause if she calls on South Jersey, chances are your cell phone calls still will go through.


"Some of the preparations are built into the cellular network system, such as back-up batteries and generators at cell tower sites in the event electrical power is knocked out. This is common practice among all wireless networks, including Nextel, AT&T Wireless, Sprint and Cingular Wireless.

"The networks also have self-contained mobile cell sites called Cell Sites On Wheels, known throughout the industry as COWs. In the event a tower gets destroyed, the COWs are deployed to the site to support cellular service for the area."


Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Brownback Bill Aims to Curb DMCA Subpoena Powers: "Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) President Cary Sherman is likely in for some hostile questioning Wednesday morning when he testifies before the Senate Commerce Committee on the music industry's use of the subpoena power provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

"Chairing the hearing will be Sen. Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.), who on Tuesday introduced legislation directly aimed at curbing the RIAA's use of the subpoenas. Brownback's bill requires the owners of digital media products to file an actual case in a court of law in order to obtain the identifying information of an Internet service provider's (ISP) subscriber.

"The 1998 DMCA allows copyright holders to issue subpoenas to ISPs demanding the name, address and telephone numbers of ISP subscribers suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted material. The subpoenas can be filed prior to any charges of infringement, are not subject to a review by a judge, requires no notice to, or opportunity to be heard by, the alleged infringer."


Setback for Microsoft Ripples Through the World Wide Web


"Last month, Microsoft suffered a stinging setback in a patent-infringement case when a federal jury awarded $521 million to a former University of California researcher. ... [T]he rest of the industry is not smiling.


"The technology in question enables a browser to summon programs automatically over the Internet. The programs that use this technology include those for playing music, videos and animations and exchanging documents over the Internet. The technology was not only used by Microsoft in its Internet Explorer browsing software, but has become a standard feature in the software for coding Web pages, called hypertext markup language, that has been ratified by the Web consortium.

"The court ruling and its potential impact, according to Mr. Weitzner, points to the larger issue of the need to keep the basic software of the Web free of patent royalties.


NASA Says It Can't Meet Investigation Board's Goals: "NASA officials said today that they would be unable to comply fully with a critical recommendation from the board that investigated the loss of the Columbia and its crew, giving the space shuttle the ability to repair damage to its heat-protection system in orbit.

"The manager of the shuttle engineering office, Steve M. Poulos Jr., told reporters that when the shuttle Atlantis lifted off on the mission that resumes the program, it will carry repair kits so spacewalking astronauts can mend heat-shielding tiles and the carbon composite that protects the wings' leading edges from the fierce heat of re-entry.

"Although the tile repair is fairly advanced, repairing the composite, reinforced carbon-carbon, needs much more work, Mr. Poulos said. Astronauts might be able to work on just small breaches, not gashes the size of the one believed to have doomed the Columbia."


Holiday cheer in retail forecast: "The NRF, which represents the retail industry, said sales for the crucial November and December shopping period are expected to grow 5.7 percent from last year to about $217 billion, the biggest increase since an 8.2 percent jump in holiday sales in 1999. "

Sprint Lights Wi-Fi Service: "Making good on a pledge made in the summer, Sprint PCS is now offering its Sprint PCS Wi-Fi Access in hundreds of hot spots across the United States."


Amateur Radio Ramps Up Preparations to Greet Hurricane Isabel: "Amateur Radio operators along the Eastern Seaboard are gearing up to greet the arrival--probably on Thursday, September 18--of a diminished but still potentially damaging Hurricane Isabel."


US warships flee hurricane: "US warships began steaming out of the giant US naval base at Norfolk, Virginia, Tuesday and warplanes scattered to inland air bases out of the path of Hurricane Isabel bearing down on the US East Coast, US military officials said.

"As many as 40 submarines and warships, including the carrier USS Ronald Reagan, will ship out on Tuesday to ride out Hurricane Isabel at sea, the US navy said in a statement.

"US military aircraft, including the president's plane, Air Force One, have been ordered to bases farther inland, officials said. A spokesman for the Atlantic Fleet said the ships were scheduled to leave port every 10 to 15 minutes."


Monday, September 15, 2003

Dominion Virginia Power Prepares for Hurricane Isabel

"Dominion Virginia Power started preparing late last week for Hurricane Isabel, which is projected to bring extremely high winds and heavy rain into Virginia and North Carolina this week. ... The company expects to have a service restoration workforce of 5,000."

"Based on Hurricane Isabel's current projected track, extreme weather -- with winds of more than 100 mph in northeastern North Carolina and Hampton Roads -- is expected to sweep Thursday across most of the company's 30,000 square mile electric franchise service area. Damage to electric facilities could start as early as Tuesday, with the harshest weather expected Thursday afternoon and evening.

"Customers should be preparing for a major weather event. Storms of this magnitude can cause widespread and extended electrical outages.

"Our customers need to be prepared for not having electricity for several days because of broken poles and downed power lines. Plus, recent rains mean that wind-blown trees will cause their share of outages. As soon as we are able to assess the damage, our line crews will begin safely restoring power," said Jimmy D. Staton, senior vice president-Operations.

"Dominion reminds its customers to call toll free 1-888-667-3000 to report outages or downed lines. The company also reminds customers to stay away from downed power lines. The company's outage reporting system, which consists of operators as well as a computer-powered voice response unit, can handle 100,000 calls an hour. Using the voice response unit is the quickest way to report an outage or downed power lines.

"Dominion crews are assigned to work on problems that affect the largest number of customers first, with emergency facilities receiving expedited attention."


State of Emergency Declared to Mobilize Virginia for Hurricane

"Gov. Mark R. Warner declared a state of emergency in Virginia on Monday to brace the state for Hurricane Isabel, which was on course to smash into the East Coast as early as Thursday."

"The declaration places the National Guard, the State Police and the Department of Transportation on full alert for what Warner said could be significant flooding across an already waterlogged state as well as wind and tornado damage.

"Isabel, 350 miles wide and packing winds of about 150 mph, on Monday was churning its way toward the U.S. mainland, where prognosticators predict landfall would be most likely from the Carolinas northward."


Thursday, September 11, 2003

Home Use Driving Wi-Fi Adoption

"A new IDC survey shows more than a third of respondents use an 802.11 LAN at home, but just 27% use one at work."


"Tight economic times lie behind both figures, IDC analyst Randy Giusto says. 'The overall slowdown in enterprise IT spending has made wireless LANs a low priority for many IT organizations, while at the same time prices have dropped dramatically for home-based wireless access points,' Giusto said.

"A growing base of workers who have wireless access at home will express an increasing eagerness to have hot spots added to their workspaces, according to IDC's 'Mobile Usage Patterns 2003.' When the time for increased enterprise Wi-Fi deployment comes, the workforce is likely to be device-ready as well as Wi-Fi-savvy.

"Even if the company doesn't have wireless LANs in place yet, the new and replacement hardware they're buying tends to be equipped with 802 [wireless] chips. This is especially true of new notebooks and mobile devices," Giusto says.

Nor are businesses completely deferring Wi-Fi investment, Giusto says. "We've found that many companies that don't have wireless LANs deployed across multiple floors on their campus are putting access points in waiting rooms for the convenience of their customers."


"Mobile workers primarily tap hot spots in hotels and coffee shops, followed by public-access points in airports, using the Wi-Fi connections for E-mail, intranet, and Internet access and messaging.

"One thing those home Wi-Fi users aren't doing, according to Giusto's findings, is working wirelessly. The leading home Wi-Fi applications were identified as listening to music files, playing games, and messaging.

"The most constant day-to-day use of Wi-Fi access was found on university campuses."

Black Hole Sings Deepest Note

"For the first time ever, astronomers have detected sound waves coming from a massive black hole in space — and believe the discovery may help resolve a major mystery, the U.S. space agency NASA said Tuesday."


"The pitch of the sound waves, equivalent to a B-flat — 57 octaves lower than a middle-C and at a frequency far deeper than the limits of human hearing — is the deepest note ever detected from an object in the universe, researchers said."


Wednesday, September 10, 2003

California regulators fine Cingular Wireless $12.1 million

"State regulators fined Cingular Wireless $12.1 million after concluding the carrier didn't give new subscribers a chance to change their minds during an aggressive expansion that resulted in shoddy service."


"'We did not predict that college students living on campus would make multitudes of long distance calls ... using their wireless phones because it was cheaper than using their landline phone service,' said James Jacot, Cingular's Western regional vice president of network operations."


Fill up with T-Mobile Wi-Fi at Texaco

"T-Mobile is rolling out a wireless local area network service in selected Texaco service stations across the UK."


"The company explained that customers will access the service by driving in to any Texaco forecourt where the T-Mobile HotSpot service is available, parking in a dedicated bay and logging onto the internet."


Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Scientology loses hyperlinks case

"The Church of Scientology has lost a courtroom battle to compel a Dutch writer and her Internet service provider to remove postings from a Web site, in a ruling that keeps hyperlinks to copyrighted material legal."


"In denying the appeal, the court also overturned two previous rulings lower courts had handed down. One of these decided that ISPs should be held accountable for any illegal or copyrighted materials posted by their subscribers and that ISPs should take down hyperlinks to such materials. An Xs4all representative cited the overruling of that decision as the larger of the two victories.

“I think this establishes an important freedom of speech precedence for the Internet and ISPs in particular,” said Edith Mastenbroek, an Xs4all spokeswoman. “Any laws set to control how ISPs interact with copyright laws must be made crystal clear.”


"The church … contended that the ISP should be held accountable for its subscribers’ activities in regards to copyrights."

"But a District Court of Amsterdam judge ruled in favor of Xs4all and its 1996 subscribers, saying the posted documents were legal, based on individuals’ rights to quote from copyrighted material.

"In a second lawsuit decided in 1999, the Amsterdam courts again ruled in favor of the ISP, citing the right to freedom of speech. However, in that ruling, the judge ruled that ISPs should be held accountable for posted materials that might violate existing laws and copyrights.

"That 1999 decision also made reference to hyperlinks to materials that might infringe on copyrights. The ruling said if a provider was made aware of illegal publishing of copyrighted materials, or hyperlinks to copyrighted information, it should take action and remove the Web site or links.

"Friday’s appellate ruling quashed that decision as well."


Monday, September 8, 2003

Charleston.Net: Business: Push-to-talk comes to mobiles 09/08/03

"Push-to-talk could be the biggest upgrade to mobile phones since wireless service first became affordable a decade ago."


"On Aug. 18, Verizon Wireless became the first mass-market wireless carrier to offer PTT. The only PTT provider previously was Nextel, which mostly aims at business users.

"Three of the four other national wireless carriers are promising PTT soon, Sprint PCS by the end of this year, Cingular Wireless early next year and AT&T Wireless by the middle of next year. Only T-Mobile, for now, is refusing to join the PTT parade."


Philly airport leads way in laptop hook-ups

"Almost the entire Philadelphia International Airport will become an '802.11b hotspot' by the second week in October - putting it ahead of most other airports in the country."


"The price starts at $9.99 for any single 24-hour period, with a variety of discount plans for frequent travelers. For those who log on only to check Philadelphia International flight information, it's free.

"The airport gets a cut of the fees, which are paid to AT&T Wireless, Shaffer said."


"AAD is also negotiating 'roaming agreements' with other wireless network providers so that their monthly subscribers can take advantage of wi-fi at Philadelphia without paying the $9.99 separate fee."

Blog Archive