Sunday, February 27, 2005

2005 Oscar Winners
NASA plans Discovery launch—May 15: "More than two years after losing the space shuttle Columbia and its seven crew, NASA said Friday it has set May 15 as its target date for once again launching shuttles into space.

"NASA said Discovery's launch is to be followed by a July 12 Atlantis launch."

Friday, February 25, 2005

Gingrich Gives GOP Social-Security Advice: "Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says Republicans should rework their argument about Social Security because Americans aren't buying the idea that a crisis is near.

"'As a practicing politician, you can't get the American people worried about 2018,' Gingrich said Friday at the American Enterprise Institute. 'If I called you and said, '10 years from today your roof is going to need (to be) fixed, would you like to sign the contract this afternoon?' You'd say to me, 'How about calling me back in nine years, 10 months.''

"Gingrich praised President Bush's plan to allow young people the option of privately owned Social Security accounts, but he said immediate benefits not future concerns should be the focus of the campaign.

"'The urgency ought to be simpler,' Gingrich said. 'Every day young people are denied the opportunity to have a personal Social Security savings account, they are cheated out of that day's compound interest.'"

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Tools to ease Web collaboration: "A new crop of tools aims to help turn the Web—be it on the public Internet or a company network—into much more than a collection of documents one visits like a museum: Look, but don't touch.

"The idea is to make it easy to quickly post and remove stuff from digital bulletin boards where the online communities of the future will gather to catch up and trade ideas, images and work."

"JotSpot Inc., a Palo Alto-based startup, is betting on Wikis, a type of Web page that can be edited by anyone.

"Wikis could become a staging area of sorts for information, and JotSpot's new Web service targets businesses that want to give authorized users a common location in which to collaborate."

"Behind JotSpot is Joe Kraus, a serial entrepreneur who co-founded the early search engine Excite.

"Kraus became a believer in Wikis after he and fellow co-founder Graham Spencer got fed up with exchanging hundreds of e-mails and attachments and tried using a Wiki instead while working on a business plan. That ultimately led to JotSpot's birth in October, competing against Socialtext and a handful of others in the fledgling market."

"Others, like Five Across and iUpload, aim to use the power of another form of Web publishing, online journals commonly known as blogs, to help businesses or individuals streamline their teamwork or communication.

"Easy to use and update, blogs have gained traction in the past few years and are used by everyone from political pundits to pre-adolescents.

"More than 8 million Internet users have created blogs, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, and a growing number of businesses are experimenting with blogs as tools for internal and external communication."

"Tech giants such as Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo already have made investments in consumer-oriented blogging technologies and have started to integrate them into their Web portal services."

The Mountaintop Report is powered by Blogger, a property of Google.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

GAO chief calls for effort to rethink federal priorities: "The Government Accountability Office on Wednesday released a report calling for a comprehensive re-evaluation of federal spending, including fresh approaches to utilizing technology and boosting the nation's return on its research investments.

"The report (GAO-05-325SP) was released at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on transforming government."

"'We have to do something,' said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. 'My heartache is that things will continue as they have. The powers that be protect themselves.'"

"But Coburn, noting the empty seats in the hearing room, questioned whether lawmakers are willing to give the issue their full attention."
America Supports You: Radio Clubs to 'Ham it Up' for Troops: "Ham radio operators and amateur radio clubs plan to 'Ham It Up for the Troops' on May 28 during the second annual Amateur Radio Military Appreciation Day to thank active duty, veterans and retired military people for their service and sacrifices to the nation, according to ARMAD's founder and former Air Force sergeant Emery McClendon.

"'ARMAD is a day when all amateur radio operators and amateur radio clubs worldwide are invited to gather at public locations to allow our citizens to express words of thanks and appreciation to our military members and coalition forces in a live format,' said McClendon, who founded and established ARMAD in Fort Wayne, Ind., almost a year ago."
Former Commerce Secretary Evans Honored for Flight into Hurricane: "Former Commerce Secretary Donald Evans left office last week with a potent reminder of his foray into Hurricane Ivan last fall aboard a NOAA P-3 'Hurricane Hunter' aircraft. He is the first Cabinet member to venture into the turbulent eyewall of a hurricane aboard a NOAA plane."
Google offers to help Wikipedia: "Google Inc. may offer hosting services to Wikipedia, a free community-built encyclopedia, and other projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. Preliminary talks are scheduled to continue in March."

WebProNews: "Why would Google support Wikipedia? Not out of goodness of their hearts. Wikipedia represents the best of the web and the best in all of us. It produces social goods that any company involved in the web should be aligned with. What's more, Wikipedia isn't a site, its a community, one with a history and a culture of openness."

ABC News: "Let's say that Google is as honorable as it claims and has no intention of doing anything more than making life better for everyone. I know most of the principals there, and they are as normal and sincere as can be expected. Nice guys, actually.

"But Google itself is a public corporation. It's its own animal in that regard, with attorneys and bean-counters making the 'nice guys' who run the place beholden to the mythical shareholders, who demand results and accountability. Maybe the nice guys do not want to create a situation that locks out the Microsoft crawlers. The needs of the corporate entity, though, demand it.

"Maybe the nice guys don't want to take over Wikipedia and clean it up, change the way it works—ruin it—as per the lawyers' demands. The corporation demands it. Those nice guys are not working for themselves any more. We always have to remember that. They are now guests."

Although Larry and Sergey own a hefty number of shares themselves.…

TechWhack: "Google with the power and content of Wikipedia might make a lethal combination to empower the extent; knowledge is available to the end user on the Internet. But then considering Wikipedia already is open source, Google would not have needed any tech support from the developers of this online encyclopedia!

"Google in the recent days has taken steps to help other open source application developers as well. Mozilla Firefox’s default homepage is now listed on Google’s server, which lessens the traffic on Mozilla’s own servers. They also hired two major developers of the same browser and clarified that they would continue to work on Firefox primarily. Is this the sign of Google’s generosity"?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

E-mail and blog monitors are launched: "Between Sarbanes-Oxley and sexual harassment suits, the enterprise is more concerned than ever about what its employees say or send in e-mails and blogs."
When Sexuality Undercuts A Family's Ties: "Maya Keyes loves her father and mother. She put off college and moved from the family home in Darnestown to Chicago to be with her dad on a grand adventure. Even though she disagrees with him on 'almost everything' political, she worked hard for his quixotic and losing campaign for the U.S. Senate."

"During his failed campaign last fall against Barack Obama (D) for the Illinois Senate seat, Alan Keyes lashed out at Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Cheney. Keyes told a radio interviewer that Mary Cheney was a 'selfish hedonist.' Then, without having been asked anything about his own family, he volunteered that 'if my daughter were a lesbian, I'd look at her and say, 'That is a relationship that is based on selfish hedonism.' I would also tell my daughter that it's a sin and she needs to pray to the Lord God to help her deal with that sin.'

"Maya heard the comments and recoiled. 'It was kind of strange that he said it like a hypothetical,' she says. 'It was really kind of unpleasant.'"

"Maya, too, has had her testy moments, which she has shared on the Internet. 'Sometimes I cannot believe I am related to this man,' she wrote in her online diary last fall. 'Haha though I'm sure he feels the same way about me.'"

"Maya is more conflicted than her online rants might indicate. She shares some of her dad's political and religious foundations. She is religious and deeply opposes abortion, viewing it as the taking of life."

"Maya still sounds more sad than angry about her situation. 'I wouldn't want to do anything to hurt my father,' she says. Like other gay relatives of prominent conservatives, she has struggled with how public to be about her sexuality. Like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's sister Candace, who campaigned for John Kerry on behalf of a gay rights group, Maya says she has come to believe that 'while we might be trading on our prominence, it's a good thing to do something good with our situation, and anyway, we didn't choose to be queer.'"

"Maya Keyes is looking for answers to all those conservatives who e-mail her about how she's going to burn in hell and to all those liberals who e-mail her about how she's a traitor because she won't disavow her father. And then there are the people who think she's a whiny brat, 'that I'm immature for thinking that I want my parents to talk to me.'

"'It all seems kind of ridiculous,' she says, 'because I love him. He's my father.'"
Should Senators End Filibuster of Nominees?
NO: Do Not Abandon Measure Once Used To Halt Liberal Agenda

"Imagine a world where:
  • There would be guaranteed federal funding for abortion (102nd Congress);
  • Federal lawsuits against gun dealers and manufacturers had eliminated firearms ownership (97th Congress);
  • A statutorily created equal rights amendment guaranteed a right for homosexuals to marry (97th Congress); and
  • Democrat-crafted election law 'reform' had frozen Republicans into permanent minority status (100th through 102nd Congress).
"You have just imagined what America would be like without the filibuster."

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Linking Out Is Seeing The Light For Blogs: "Few topics in search engine optimization, cause as many heated disputes, as the concept of linking out to other sites. Whenever the subject of linking to other blogs and traditional sites arises, in conversation or on and internet message forum, the sides in the debate are certain to become very polarized."
Google Maps, Round II: A few unadvertised features I missed the first time around!

You can put in any three-letter airport code, and it will pop up a map of the airport, such as Reagan National. And then with that map, of course, you can zoom, local search and all the rest of it.

I stand corrected! To top it off, for us GPS users, you can actually put in coordinates and pull up a map: 38.9,-77.0. And of course, if you can use coordinates to find a map, you can use them to get directions, too: DC to Chicago. Wow!

So now, all they need to do is add the coordinate search ability to Search by Number, the address search ability to Street Maps, and an airport map link to Travel Information.

Friday, February 11, 2005

What Is Freedom?: "The recent elections in Iraq have brought to the table a question that has challenged virtually every nation, every society, every culture, since the philosophers of ancient Greece raised it in building the foundation of the world's first democracy. That question is: 'What is freedom?'"
A Problem Shared Is a Problem Solved: "Not so long ago, companies created departments to create innovation. But the result was often that innovation was turned into a state secret. The only people who knew what was going on—and therefore the only people who could really contribute—were the Chosen Ones inside the innovation department. Not surprisingly, this approach limits both the quantity and quality of ideas so companies have started to search for new ways of developing new ideas.

"One new idea is distributed or open source innovation in which customers (or anyone else for that matter) are the co-producers of the products and services they consume."
The Unassociated Press: "You may, in the course of reading this article, spot a factual error that made it to press. A certain bit of grammar may makes you bristle, or you may think the writing is biased. But by now the ink has dried; all you can do is send an e-mail message or a letter of complaint.

"If this article had been published on Wikinews, a Web site begun recently, there would be something more you could do: change it, fix it, expand it or delete it."
Enough Already: GOP Senator Goes Bi-Lingual in U.S. Senate: "Republican voters' starry-eyed swoon over 'Swell Mel,' however, just days ago took a linguistic skid into a cultural brick wall. Delivering his maiden Senate speech (an event typically used by a new member to define priorities), Martinez shattered the spoken (yet, ironically, unspoken) tradition of The World's Most Exclusive Club: He glibly and suddenly broke into a foreign language, Spanish, to praise the newly confirmed U.S. attorney general and fellow Latino, MexTexan Alberto Gonzales.

"Proudly noted Sen. Martinez, Sr. Gonzales represents 'todos nuestros sueños y esperanzas para nuestro hijos.' Now, no fellow senator (except for quirky John Kerry, who is prone to bi-directionality on all issues) could possibly object to a colleague's speech praising 'all of our hopes and dreams for our children.' Nevertheless, every senator present for the speech appeared to be 'uncomprehending,' according to the pristinely multicultural Miami Herald, which further reported that a 'stunned Senate stenographer looked up quizzically and just typed: "speaking Spanish."'

"Senate historian Don Ritchie scoured his fastidious library and discovered that before Mr. Martinez strode onto the hallowed floor, there is no record of a U.S. senator giving a speech in a language other than English. (In 1798, when Tennessee's wily William Blount was expelled from the Senate for scheming to seize colonial Florida from its legal owner, even the most pro-Spain senators debated the issue in English.)

"If Sen. Martinez truly wishes to remodel the Senate into a Potomac Tower of Babel, say Florida Republicans, then most voters back home in the Sunshine State (even among the numerous Spanish-speaking) will politely remind him, '¡Basta ya!'

"In the teeming pubs, bodegas, honkytonks, and delicatessens from Pensacola to Cayo Hueso (now called Key West), and from Tampa's inner Ybor City to Miami's fabled Little Havana, that roughly translates into, 'Enough already!'"
On Tuesday, Google launched a compliment to its Local Search, Google Maps. With this you can look up a map, get driving driving directions, and find area businesses and local listings. That's what it has in common with the other guys.

Beyond that, however, is the unique Google touch for implementation. For starters, no matter how big your screen, • the map fills the page. Next, it actually has more of the map loaded on the page so that when you • drag the map, you can immediately see what's around the visible area.

The integration with Local is pretty handy as well. Any search you would do on Local you can do here. It's not hard to find a Radio Shack in Washington, DC. Although it doesn't know if all those stores are still open (they're not—F and H are closed and G isn't in Southeast where it really is).

However, Google stumbles onto a way to do Local search that is really profound, and they don't even say anything about it! You can do a local search and not even know where you're searching. Yep, with no zip code, city or state, you can search small town America with Google Maps. Basically, zoom/scroll the map to where you want to search, type in a local business type listing request, and it does it on the fly.

It sorta reminds me of using my GPS to navigate and having no idea where I am or how I got there. Ironic, huh? Now if we could just get Google or one of these guys to list the lat/lon for a map or local listing location. I mean really, you'd think Google would want to be the place for GPS users to go for information.

Lastly, for those seasoned users who have been subjected to poor Web programming and usability that requires them to put a name in one box, an address in another, and a city, state or zip somewhere else, the simplicity of Google's single box for any of these searches may strip some folks' gears. Let's just say we can all be thankful that Google has a healthy understanding of the wonderful art of parsing!

So, if Maps is better for local search than Local, why have Local at all?

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Origin of magnetars: "If a magnetar flew past Earth within 100,000 miles, the intense magnetic field of the exotic object would destroy the data on every credit card on the planet.

"This is not likely to happen, though, seeing as there are not many magnetars around. Recent research postulates that magnetars come from the death of very massive stars, which may mean that the dozen or so magnetars so far seen may be all our galaxy holds."

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Legos Help Leaders Deal With Regional Growth: "Using high-tech maps and a few handfuls of Lego blocks, local leaders spent much of Wednesday designing the region's future.

"Today's exercise in downtown D.C. was called 'Reality Check.' Urban planners say the region will see two-million new residents and 1.6 million new jobs over the next 25 years."
Sands of Mars: "Granular physics is the science of grains, everything from kernels of corn to grains of sand to grounds of coffee. These are common everyday substances, but they can be vexingly difficult to predict. One moment they behave like solids, the next like liquids.

"Consider a dump truck full of gravel. When the truck begins to tilt, the gravel remains in a solid pile, until at a certain angle it suddenly becomes a thundering river of rock."

"The problem is, even here on Earth 'industrial plants don't work very well because we don't understand equations for granular materials as well as we understand the equations for liquids and gases,' says James T. Jenkins, professor of theoretical and applied mechanics at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y."
Bloggers get set for State of the Union: "Last year's presidential election fueled blogs on either side of the electoral divide and the commentary will continue tonight during President Bush's State of the Union address."

The speech: What he planned to say, and what he actually said—reactions included.

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