Wed - May 28, 2008

Windows 7 Chief offers nothing - real soon

John Dvorak opened up the topic on Tuesday’s Tech5 podcast. CNET’s interview with Steven Sinofsky answers many questions. Sort of:

Since taking over the Windows development reins from Jim Allchin, Steven Sinofsky has chosen to fall almost completely off the public radar.

It’s not that he hasn’t been busy getting Vista Service Pack 1 out the door and starting work on Windows 7. It’s just that Sinofsky doesn’t want to talk about products until they are well along in their development. Last year, Sinofsky penned a blog to his Windows unit co-workers, explaining his public silence and urging them to follow his lead.

“I know many folks think that this type of corporate ‘clamp down’ on disclosure is ‘old school’ and that in the age of corporate transparency we should be open all the time,” Sinofsky wrote. “Corporations are not really transparent. Corporations are translucent. All organizations have things that are visible and things that are not.”

Well, Sinofsky is breaking his public silence, slightly, to offer a few important details about 7 (he reiterated that it is coming by January 2010) and to explain why he is saying so little publicly.

I’ll make a note in my calendar to check on Windows 7 in January 2010.

BTW - Ballmer gave folks a few sneak peeks at the WSJ - D Conference. Windows 7 should catch up to the iPhone by 2010.

Posted at 06:42 AM     Read More  

Tue - May 27, 2008

Bush-McCain rally called off. Protestors expected to outnumber audience.

A fundraiser headlined by President Bush for John McCain has been called off due to poor ticket sales and expected anti-war protests.

Sources familiar with the situation said the fundraising event, scheduled for Tuesday in the Phoenix Convention Center, was not selling enough tickets…

They added that there were also concerns about higher presence of anti-war protesters outside the venue than the number of people attending the fundraiser inside the arena…

Tee hee.

Posted at 06:57 AM     Read More  

Iran to ban neckties as “Westoxifixation”

With the necktie making a bold and colourful comeback in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a senior official is calling for a ban on importing the gentleman’s accessory, which conservatives still regard as a symbol of western decadence

Asghar Hamidi’s views on the dress code are not taken lightly: he doubles as the head of a state plan for the “development of culture, chastity and the veil”…

Hardliners have finally embraced sexual equality – by cracking down on men as well as women. Hundreds of men have been sent to “guidance classes” on how to behave in society. Among other things, this means not sporting elaborate western-style haircuts, using hair gel, plucking one’s eyebrows or wearing sleeveless shirts…

The scale of the sweep against sartorial immodesty has worried some senior regime officials. They are concerned it could provoke a backlash at a time when Iran is under external pressure over its nuclear programme and Mr Ahmadinejad faces domestic discontent over spiralling food and housing costs. Some parliamentary deputies have demanded to know why the police should spend time arresting young people for dressing immodestly instead of devoting themselves to fighting drug addiction and serious crime.

Theocracies. You gotta love ‘em!

Thanks, K B

Posted at 05:53 AM     Read More  

Mon - May 26, 2008

NASA Phoenix Lander has successfully landed on Mars!

First image

The Phoenix has landed! So far everything has been perfect.

Update: Phoenix is level within 1/4 of a degree. Terrific news for both geology and meteorology experiments. You can stay in touch via posts at the Discovery News space blog.

Watched everyone jumping up and down in Pasadena and Tucson - in Hi-Def on Science Channel HD.

Bubba Ray says there also is live coverage continuing at NASA TV online.

Posted at 06:31 AM     Read More  

Sun - May 25, 2008

The Feds continue to expand their database of fingerprints - required for employment

Last week, a measure creating a federal fingerprint registry totally unrelated to national security passed a U.S. Senate committee almost without notice. The legislation would require thousands of individuals working even tangentially in the mortgage and real estate industries — and not suspected of anything — to send their prints to the feds. The database and fingerprint mandates were tucked into housing and foreclosure assistance bills that on Tuesday passed the Senate Banking Committee by a vote of 19-2.

The measure the committee passed states that “an individual may not engage in the business of a loan originator without first … obtaining a unique identifier.” To obtain this “identifier,” an individual is required to “furnish” to the newly created Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry “information concerning the applicant’s identity, including fingerprints for submission” to the FBI and other government agencies…

The amendment adopted the fingerprint provisions in a section called the “S.A.F.E. Mortgage Licensing Act.” The fingerprints will be part of what the amendment calls “a comprehensive licensing and supervisory database.”

So, uh, what gets included next? Voter ID? School lunch program?

Thanks, Marc

Posted at 01:01 PM     Read More  

Sat - May 24, 2008

Student downloads al-Qaida doc from US Gov website. Brits arrest him as terrorist.

A masters student researching terrorist tactics who was arrested and detained for six days after his university informed police about al-Qaida-related material he downloaded has spoken of the “psychological torture” he endured in custody.

Despite his Nottingham University supervisors insisting the materials were directly relevant to his research, Rizwaan Sabir, 22, was held for nearly a week under the Terrorism Act, accused of downloading the materials for illegal use. The student had obtained a copy of the al-Qaida training manual from a US government website for his research into terrorist tactics.

The case highlights what lecturers are claiming is a direct assault on academic freedom led by the government which, in its attempt to establish a “prevent agenda” against terrorist activity, is putting pressure on academics to become police informers.

Sabir was arrested on May 14 after the document was found by a university staff member on an administrator’s computer. The administrator, Hisham Yezza, an acquaintance of Sabir, had been asked by the student to print the 1,500-page document because Sabir could not afford the printing fees.

The pair were arrested under the Terrorism Act, Sabir’s family home was searched and their computer and mobile phones seized. They were released uncharged six days later but Yezza, who is Algerian, was immediately rearrested on unrelated immigration charges and now faces deportation.

What if he was a student in the United States downloading from a British government website? Think he’d be out of custody by now?

Posted at 05:47 AM     Read More  

Fri - May 23, 2008

Submarine’s $10 million repair bill blamed on tracing paper and tidiness

Trafalgar escorted back to base after the accident

A nuclear-powered Royal Navy submarine needed $10 million worth of repairs after it struck the seabed because a piece of tracing paper covered its navigational chart, investigators have found.

The tracing paper had been used on the chart to protect it from being written on, obscuring vital information.

HMS Trafalgar was grounded near the Isle of Skye in October 2002 because of basic navigational errors during a training exercise for students, according to the official board of inquiry report, which has been released under a freedom of information request.

According to the report, just 90 seconds before the boat hit the seabed, a crew member realised what was about to happen and was recorded as saying: “We’re going to have to change course. This is too dangerous.”

The reactor plant was unaffected, but $10 million of repairs were needed on the hull.

Truly worthwhile allies in the neocon Cold War. They come up to every American military standard.

Posted at 10:56 AM     Read More  

Love that ceremonial incense? Turns out you’ve been getting stoned!

Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too.

In a new study…an international team of scientists…describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression.

This suggests that an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be right under our noses…

“This study also provides a biological explanation for millennia-old spiritual practices that have persisted across time, distance, culture, language, and religion-burning incense really does make you feel warm and tingly all over!”

And if you feel warm and tingly it must be good for you. Right?

Posted at 08:21 AM     Read More  

Israeli fighter jets almost got Tony Blair

Might have been an appropriate way to go

Two Israeli fighter aircraft threatened to shoot down a private jet transporting Tony Blair after coming under the misapprehension that the aircraft was staging a potential terrorist attack.

Blair…was en route to Israel from a World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting at Sharm el Sheikh, in Egypt, on Wednesday morning when the warplanes were scrambled to intercept the jet.

It was only after the warplanes were positioned in attack mode that the aircraft’s crew made contact, informing air traffic control that Blair was on the flight.

New systems have apparently been set up in the past few months to identify suspicious aircraft and Israeli forces have been on heightened alert for threats after Hamas knocked down a wall on the Egyptian border five months ago.

Protecting walls from being breached is a perfectly good reason to threaten to shot down civilian aircraft - if you’re the Israeli government.

Posted at 07:12 AM     Read More  

Thu - May 22, 2008

SAS flies slower to save costs and emissions

SAS has reduced the cruising speed of its passenger jets to about 485 miles per hour from 516 mph. The test project, run by SAS’s Norwegian unit, has saved it an estimated $12 million in fuel since early 2006…

A 216 mile flight between Oslo and Bergen, Norway’s two largest cities, at “economy speed” saved 287 pounds of fuel and 890 pounds of carbon emissions. The entire journey lasts only three minutes longer, Midteide said.

A slightly longer flight between Oslo and Paris or London takes about 10 minutes longer than before.

To save more fuel, SAS taxies its planes to gates on one engine, turning off the other engines after landing, Midteide said. The same tactic is planned for taxing before take-off.

Of course, the “important” people who have to schedule meetings a tad later will be inconvenienced.

Posted at 10:06 AM     Read More  

Biofuel’s a success. People are stealing grease!

Caught with 2500 gallons of “hot” grease!

A few years ago, drums of used french fry grease were only of interest to a small network of underground biofuel brewers, who would use the slimy oil to power their souped-up antique Mercedes.

Now, restaurants from Berkeley, California, to Sedgwick, Kansas, are reporting thefts of old cooking oil worth thousands of dollars by rustlers who are refining it into barrels of biofuel in backyard stills.

“It’s like a war zone going on right now over grease,” said David Levenson, who owns a grease hauling business in San Francisco’s Mission District. “We’re seeing more and more people stealing grease because it lets them stay away from the pump, but it’s hurting our bottom line…”

Officials say oil rustlers typically siphon their supplies into drums of their own, which they take to backyard gins to be brewed for personal use.

The dude in the photo was caught with his tank truck on the way to a refinery that was paying him $1.35 a gallon, no questions asked.

I say string these rustlers up to the nearest live oak tree - or Exxon sign.

Posted at 08:42 AM     Read More  

Honda next-gen hybrids in 2009 models

Sports hybrid concept

Honda will launch a new, low-cost hybrid car in Japan, North America and Europe in early 2009 as it seeks to cut the lead of Toyota Motor Corp in the green car race…

Honda expects annual sales of 200,000 for the new hybrid. Total hybrid sales, including the Civic hybrid, a new hybrid version of its popular Fit subcompact and a planned sports car based on the CR-Z concept model, are expected to reach 500,000 vehicles a year after 2010, roughly one-tenth of total sales.

Announcing other details of the new hybrid-only car for the first time, Honda said the car would be a 5-door, 5-seater similar in design to its sleek FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle…

A new production line for electric motors will be added at Honda’s Suzuka factory in western Japan to more than double the production speed and cut costs…

Every little bit helps. I just wish they’d bring in a diesel pickup.

Posted at 05:54 AM     Read More  

Wed - May 21, 2008

Things younger than John McCain

Duct tape

Here’s a web site that’s self-explanatory. And hilarious.

Thanks, Amber.

Posted at 10:37 AM     Read More  

The doors are always open…

Click photo for video

Just for our readers who represent the caring side of Xhristianity.

Posted at 10:29 AM     Read More  

Tue - May 20, 2008

Report: US to attack Iran this year

A senior Israeli government source told Army Radio on Tuesday that US President George W. Bush intends to launch an attack against Iran before the end of his second term.

The Israeli learned of the planned attack from a senior US counterpart who was a member of Bush’s entourage during the president’s visit to Israel last week.

The official said that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are convinced that military action against Iran is necessary immediately, but that the move is being held up by “the hesitancy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.”

Anyone surprised?

Posted at 11:54 AM     Read More