Monday, April 28, 2008

What's the Wireless next step?

If it's wireless, it's trendy.

There's grand talk throughout the tech world about a wave of new networks and wireless innovation that will provide better Internet access, deliver streaming video and foster an array of consumer-friendly features. Although it's too early to be sure which companies or networks will be most successful, the optimists dominate the skeptics.

Moreover, the federal government's recent auction of desirable radio spectrum - significant portions of which were won by AT&T and Verizon Wireless - is considered a major catalyst for improved mobile services.

As constantly proclaimed by industry experts at "The Mobile Future" conference in Santa Clara last week, the wireless industry is supposed to revolutionize our lives. So, just how will that happen?

• Consider the prospect of two-way video on handheld devices. For instance, parents may be able to use cell phones to talk face to face with a son or daughter at college.

• Imagine using your cell phone as a checkbook, said Pradeep Khosla, dean of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. You would send a secure payment authorization from your phone to someone else's, and the bank would confirm the transaction electronically.

• Think about a cell phone that would download your latest travel information as you entered an airport, said Ted Selker, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. It would confirm your boarding pass, alert you to a flight delay and give you a map that shows a Starbucks next to your gate.
• Or think about using the cameras in cell phones to search the Internet, suggested Bob Iannucci, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Nokia. People could snap a picture of the Eiffel Tower and then use the photo as a search prompt to get information. When the photo is recognized, you could receive tips from online guidebooks. Or think in terms of shopping: You could take a photo of shoes in a store window and download product details from the retailer's Web site.

Is there a realistic chance that these ideas, gathered by the Mercury News at the conference and in other interviews, could be deployed over the next several years?

Full Article

Images' PR

Google researchers say they have a software technology intended to do for digital images on the Web what the company’s original PageRank software did for searches of Web pages.

On Thursday at the International World Wide Web Conference in Beijing, two Google scientists presented a paper describing what the researchers call VisualRank, an algorithm for blending image-recognition software methods with techniques for weighting and ranking images that look most similar.

Although image search has become popular on commercial search engines, results are usually generated today by using cues from the text that is associated with each image.

Despite decades of effort, image analysis remains a largely unsolved problem in computer science, the researchers said. For example, while progress has been made in automatic face detection in images, finding other objects such as mountains or tea pots, which are instantly recognizable to humans, has lagged.

“We wanted to incorporate all of the stuff that is happening in computer vision and put it in a Web framework,” said Shumeet Baluja, a senior staff researcher at Google, who made the presentation with Yushi Jing, another Google researcher. The company’s expertise in creating vast graphs that weigh “nodes,” or Web pages, based on their “authority” can be applied to images that are the most representative of a particular query, he said.

The research paper, “PageRank for Product Image Search,” is focused on a subset of the images that the giant search engine has cataloged because of the tremendous computing costs required to analyze and compare digital images. To do this for all of the images indexed by the search engine would be impractical, the researchers said. Google does not disclose how many images it has cataloged, but it asserts that its Google Image Search is the “most comprehensive image search on the Web.”

Full Article

You are a few clicks away from success...

Gold mining consists of shifting three tons of rubbish for each ounce of gold extracted.
This is how I would define the job of Clickbooth Publisher Network.
As an advertiser, if you really want effective ads and banners, if you want to pay for what you really get, if you want shifting three tons of valueless rubbish and focus only on the really effective ads, you shouldn't look anymore, because you found the right place.
And if you are a Publisher, "Clickbooth gives publishers full access to custom built rotators to deliver ads and increase conversions."
That means you will get the exactly what you need, with the help of the Top Flash designers, who will provide effective banners for top campaigns.
"Clickbooth guarantees higher conversions and the highest payouts as publishers are allowed to run offers directly cutting out the middle man."
That means more revenue and more freedom too.
If you are interested to become an onsite publisher, you will have to go through three easy steps, filling the request with your personal data, including your telephone number.
You'll be called immediately and a pin will be supplied.
On the third step you'll be required to specify your website or whatever you intend to use as an online publisher and Voila', the job is done and you just have to wait to be approved.
And if you are the lucky one, you are going to get the highest payouts in the industry.
Clickbooth offers what you need to become a top performer including proprietary technology and custom rotators to deliver ads, Dedicated experts available 24/7, internal testing to ensure maximum returns, flexible, timely payout options, and FINALLY, VERY IMPORTANT: Guaranteed highest payouts.
You are a few clicks away from success...

In Europe Firefox is still going up

European web metrics company Xiti has published browser market share statistics for March. The data indicates that the open-source Firefox web browser has climbed to almost 29 percent market share in Europe, where it is still steadily increasing in popularity. This is no small accomplishment.

The European country that saw the most growth was Andorra, where Firefox marketshare rose from 22.7 percent in February to 24.8 percent in March. The three countries with the highest Firefox market share are Finland, Poland, and Slovenia, which all have between 43 and 46 percent. Notably, the study saw the average market share exceed 30 percent during weekends, likely because of people who are using Internet Explorer at work and Firefox at home, by choice.

According to Xiti, Internet Explorer has lost 2.5 percentage points during the past six months. Opera and Safari have also seen slight gains during that time period to 3.3 and 2.3 percent, respectively. Xiti does not provide statistics for iPhone browser marketshare and the report does not specify whether or not iPhone browsing is counted as part of the Safari statistics.

Xiti's global statistics indicate that Oceania—comprised of Australia and New Zealand—has the highest Firefox market share of any continent, with 31.2 percent. The continent with the lowest marketshare is Asia, at 17.2 percent. In many parts of Asia, Firefox has trouble competing with Maxthon, a browser created in China that uses Internet Explorer's rendering engine.

Xiti surprisingly found that Firefox market share in North America actually dropped by one percentage point in March.

Full Article

If you want to look good, it pays to chose quality

Your company logo, your business card, your catalogs or booklets, all these are art which speaks to the eye, of course if you chose the right design and the right printing company.
As a trademark is a symbol of a corporation, the look is the soul of the business.
What is better than the right first impression, given by the right printing and the right design?
And what is better than finding it on the Internet, at a very good price, being able to see immediately the pricing and having what you want on your doorstep in five days?
AreaPrinting's products are of the highest quality, because they use the latest technologies in digital printing.
And if you want to look good, it pays to chose quality.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Is there an Earth's twin?

Twinkle, twinkle little star, goes the nursery rhyme, but what scientists are really wanting to find is planet’s with a particular twinkle. That’s because sunlight glinting off extraterrestrial oceans could help astronomers spot liquid surface water on other worlds.

Researchers have modeled the way a distant planet would reflect light towards Earth as it orbits its star. They found that when a watery planet appears as a crescent, light striking the smooth surface of large bodies of water would make it appear brighter. But light reflected off of the surface of a drier planet would not look brighter in this way.

Oceans cover over 70 percent of Earth's surface, and surely there are other watery worlds out there like ours surmise astronomers. The problem is that there are currently no telescopes capable of specifically identifying planets with water on their surfaces. However, this new method gives researchers a way to find water worlds like Earth solely by observing its “twinkle”. The method, reported in an upcoming issue of Icarus, relies on the specific reflective properties of water and sunlight.

"A planet like Venus, with a dense atmosphere, will scatter the sunlight in all directions," says Darren M. Williams, associate professor of physics and astronomy, Penn State Erie, the Behrend College. "If you look at Venus in phases, when it is full, it is brightest and when it is crescent, it is faintest."

But if a planet with water on its surface were full, in respect to its sun, with the whole disk illuminated, water would actually look darker than dirt. Conversely, when the planet is in crescent phase, with the sun glancing off of the watery surface, the reflection would be brightest.

By monitoring the light curve of a distant planet through an optical space telescope as the planet spins on its axis and moves around its star, researchers can observe the changes in brightness, correlated to the planet's phase, which should tell them precisely whether or not the planet has liquid oceans. If the temperatures match up, they can then be fairly certain that the liquid is water. It sounds simple enough, but if the research pans out it would represent a big step forward in finding Earthlike planets. It’s one thing to find a planet that lies in the “sweet spot” distance from it’s star, but to know whether or not there is water on the planet would take the search for extraterrestrial life to a whole new level.

"We are looking for Earth-like planets in the habitable zone of their star, a band not too hot nor too cold for life to exist," says Williams. "We also want to know if there is water on these planets."

For life as we know it to exist, planets must have habitable temperatures throughout a period long enough for life to evolve. As far as we know, it would also help our search to find a significant amount of water on the planet’s surface. Scientists already know how to determine the distance a planet orbits from its star, and analysis of light interacting with molecules in the atmosphere can indicate if water exists in some form. However, Williams and Eric Gaidos, associate professor of geobiology, University of Hawaii, want to specially identify truly Earthlike planets with liquid water on their surfaces.

The image of the Blue Marble, taken by Apollo 17 in December 1972, is striking because the Earth is mostly covered in water. The researchers believe that large enough amounts of water will provide a glint of light visible in the infrared and visible spectrum if they watch the planet for long enough.

"We are going to look at the planets for a long time," says Williams. "They reflect one billionth or one ten billionth of their sun. To gain enough light to see a dot requires observation over two weeks with the kinds of telescopes we are imagining. If we stare that long, unless the planet is rotating very slowly, different sides of the planet will come through our field of view. If the planet is a mix of water, we are going to see the mix travel around the planet."

Astronomers are hopeful that a terrestrial planet finder telescope will orbit the earth in the next 10 to 20 years, which will make the search much easier. But until then, Williams has arranged for the current Mars Express and Venus Express missions of the European Space Agency to look back at the Earth occasionally from great distances and observe what our watery planet looks like in various phases.

"Any time that the Earth is in a crescent phase as viewed by a distant space vehicle, we should take advantage of the situation and look back at the Earth," says Williams.

This will help researchers verify and fine-tune the method, and with any luck we’ll soon be able to identify planets truly worthy of the “Earth’s Twin” title.

Rebecca Sato.

Ready for a new life?

What are weight loss programs for?
For losing weight of course, but most importantly they are the first step in what can be a healthier and more productive life.
There are side effects in following a weight loss program: anyone who is overweight will lose weight.
But he will also feel an increase in energy and well being.
Taking drugs, eating processed foods, having a sedentary job or going everywhere by car, all cause stagnation in certain physiological activities.
The vitality and energy available as a result of a good diet plan, usually cause a desire for more activity.
It is a fact that more and more people today are interested in the right nutrition and the right diet plan.
Which one to choose?
Medifast is the plan you should follow if you want to lose a lot of weight in a short time without counting calories, shopping for food, or cooking meals.
Besides you can receive online support that will help you meeting your weight loss goals.
Nutrisystem offers you very convenient pre-packaged meals online or by phone for delivery straight to your door.
So you can meet two goals in one: losing weight and eating healthy and tasty food. comes with a choice of 22 different diets, and it offers a diet plan tailored on your special needs.
They also have special plans for any kind of therapeutical need: vegetarian, cholesterol lowering, low sodium, low fat, high fiber, hypoglycemia, heart smart, diabetes, wheat free, lactose free and healthy soy plans.
So, you can get healthy, thin, and vibrant as soon as you decide to.
It is an important step towards a system supporting wellness, not illness.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Boy or girl? Watch your diet

The sex of new babies is influenced by the mother's diet before she conceives, a new study suggests. According to a survey of 740 British mums to be, a high-calorie diet is more likely to lead to a baby boy in nine months' time.

Researchers led by Fiona Mathews of the University of Exeter collected data on the pre-conception dietary habits of pregnant women, and found that 56% of women in the highest one-third of calorie intake had male fetuses. In the lowest third, only 45% bore boys.

The women, who were attending maternity clinics, were asked to compile a 'retrospective diary' of their food intake in the weeks before they fell pregnant. Mathews and her colleagues then analysed the results to look for a relationship between food intake and the sex of their offspring.

The level of calorie intake was the main dietary factor that affected offspring sex, say the researchers, who report their research in Proceedings of the Royal Society B 1. Overall, women in Matthews’s study who produced sons ate an average of 180 calories more per day than those who had daughters — "the equivalent of eating a banana", she says.

Intriguingly, a major difference seemed to be between women who routinely ate breakfast cereals and those who didn't, Mathews adds. Among those who ate breakfast cereals almost every day, 59% gave birth to boys. In contrast, 43% of those who claimed to eat breakfast "rarely or never" produced sons.

Full Article

P2P not the only to blame

The most consistent rationale for ISPs to throttle p2p applications or charge by the byte is that a small minority of users drain a vastly disproportionate amount of bandwidth, like the planet-raping aliens in Independence Day. Om Malik pulls a few of these numbers out of Arbor Networks' CTO, who develops all the traffic management tools your ISP probably uses, so while there's a conflict of interest (portents of internet doom sell more stuff) they have the data. Ten percent of subscribers consume 80 percent of bandwidth, a super-leeching 0.5 percent swallow 40 percent of bandwidth, and the rest like your mom, 80 percent, sip less than 10 percent. But p2p isn't the culprit.

No, p2p is no longer the single biggest traffic whore, responsible for only 20 percent of total traffic. It's streaming video, like YouTube and Hulu, which is now 50 percent of total traffic. During peak congestion—the times when Comcast will slow you down for hitting the pipe too hard—70 percent of it is http.

Which explains Comcast's flip on network management and why it's a total smokescreen. P2P is no longer the number one leech on networks, it's streaming video across regular old http. So they don't need to throttle p2p exclusively anymore—they need to slow the whole pipe down, hence the new "protocol agnostic" scheme. But they can look good showing off how much they love p2p. It remains to be seen how much of it the FCC will eat up. [GigaOM]

Full Article

Help for mortgage holders

Homeowners will have enough support to ensure that their homes are not repossessed, the government says.

The comments came after key mortgage industry figures met Chancellor Alistair Darling and Housing Minister Caroline Flint at 11 Downing Street.

But ministers did not outline how they would stop people losing their homes.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) described the meeting as "useful" and said lenders were playing their part in keeping customers in their homes.

"We want to ensure there continues to be stability and fairness in the housing market, and that the support is in place for consumers who may need it right now," said Ms Flint, following the meeting.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Metropolitan Internet

I am a big admirer of Bob Frankston, even though sometimes I find it hard to understand him.
But I guess this is very interesting:

There is a basic fallacy – the idea that transit necessarily costs a lot of money. And, of course, we confuse cost with price. We are stuck in the idea that the Internet is some distant land that’s hard to get to. So the carriers make decisions that exacerbate the problem. The situation is akin to making it too expensive to put in a path from your house to your garage because you burden it with the cost of a trip around the world.

I don’t care what it costs to get bits from here to Timbuktu – I care very much what it costs to get from my house to my local school. Comcast and the other carriers chose not to peer locally and then tell me that it’s very very very expensive to haul bits from me to my neighbor because I just might want to watch a webcam in Tonga over a satellite link.

If I pay $1k for a fiber from my house to the center of town and so does my neighbor then can we amortize it across many bits even if we stream gigabits each second. Or I can put some inexpensive DSL modems on a copper wire and get megabits. It’s even more extreme for connectivity within my house but at least there no carrier is going to force me to pay for those bits though that was very much what they tried to do in the 1990’s when they tried to argue that connecting more than one computer to a cable modem was stealing from them.

They configure networks as if the Internet were far far away they come up with arbitrary peering prices. That doesn’t meant that it’s intrinsically expensive – it means they’ve managed to make it expensive. What happens if they light up all the fiber they have and follow Moore’s law? We get the fiber bubble bursting again and they go belly up. But that’s not because it’s expensive – it’s because selling transit is a business that does worse the more capacity it delivers and there is no direct relationship between the supplier and the user. Without tight control of the path you can’t reflect the price of a given infrastructure element back to the user. Isn’t it strange that dedicated fiber is cheaper than sharing a path? The solution is not to charge the highest price you can – the solution is to make capacity available and let the users discover what works and what doesn’t.

Today we’re confused because we keep trying to treat the Internet as a TV channel and it works far better than it is “should” so instead of buffering and using peer caching we find we can just stream video content. And then we get surprised if sometimes that doesn’t work as well because we don’t use algorithms that degrade gracefully.

The bigger problem is that we don’t see the value of the Internet as basic infrastructure and don’t see the high value in the myriad other was to take advantage of connectivity. Yet we keep worrying that we might use up the Internet.

PS: I actually do care what it costs to get bits between here and Timbuktu because it acts as a punitive tax on developing economies (and they should all continue to develop). We can’t afford to keep the worlds’ economies captive within houses of glass.

Five years ago I had a vision: the Metropolitan Internet.
And I had the same idea about how the Internet bandwidth was wasted when looking for local websites.
How wonderful if when I am looking for something local my request wouldn't travel around the world, but would use the local infrastructures, making it easier, faster and cheaper.
I am glad to see I was not wrong.

The Mafia

Just an Italian can understand what the Mafia is.
Just an Italian would understand it will never disappear.
Becuase it is much more than a bunch of criminals.
It is in our way of living, in our way of thinking, in our way of surviving.
It begins even before you are born.
If your mother needs a decent place in a Hospital, she must know somebody.
If she needs a Nursery school, she must know somebody of the City Hall or better, a politician.
If you need a decent school with decent teachers, you need to know some teachers or some school manager.
If you need to enter University, you must know somebody.
If you need a job, you must know somebody.
It goes on this way till you need a place in an Old People Home.
Also there you must know somebody.

Just for dying you do not need anybody, that comes free.

You cannot destroy the Mafia, unless you destroy the Italians.

Is your website good? How to evaluate it

An effective web design is one in which your users are able to find information quickly and in a logical fashion.

Do they visit the content you want them to visit? Are they looking in the right places of your web page? Are you able to keep your user’s attention, or do they just leave quickly?

It’s not just about the content either. If your design loads slowly - or if moving from one section to another takes a long time - it affects the user’s experience.

These things can be the make-or-break factors between a user clicking on a link to find more information, or the back button to find it elsewhere.

Some things to consider:

Are important information being seen by the user?
Are the navigation and action items intuitive?
Is the user being directed to sections in a logical manner?
Does the web page load quickly enough to not turn away the user?
If you’re interested in analyzing and optimizing your page layout - here’s some extremely useful tools that you can use to help.

1. ClickHeat

ClickHeat is an open source visual tool for showing "hot" and "cold" zones of a web page. It allows you to see which spots users click on most, and which spots are being ignored.

It’s very easy to implement on your website, you only have to include an external JavaScript file.

2. Crazy Egg

Crazy Egg offers a myriad of analytical tools to help you visualize what visitors are doing.
Features include: Confetti - allowing you to see what people are clicking on based on certain factors such as their operating system and where they came from, Overlay - providing you with tons of data about particular links, and Report sharing - enabling you to share the data with team members and clients.

The free version only allows 4 pages to be tracked - so use your top landing pages to get the most data.

3. YSlow for Firebug

A key tenet of a strong design is that, not only should information be presented in a logical and elegant fashion, but that it must also be served quickly, with very little delay.
YSlow for Firebug is a free tool for Mozilla Firefox that gives you information about your front-end design to see if it performs well. It gives you a letter grade (A through F) and outlines your web page’s trouble spots.

It’s based on the Yahoo! Developer Network’s "Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site" initially written by Steve Souders, who was once the Chief of Performance at Yahoo! and is now working over at Google on web performance and open source initiatives.

4. clickdensity

clickdensity is a full suite of usability analysis tools that will help you assess your web page design.
You can use heat maps showing where users click on the most, hover maps - which shows people scrolling over links but not clicking on them, and A/B Tests which allows you to change certain page elements to see which style is more effective.

The free subscription give you 5,000 clicks and only one page and one site to monitor.

5. ClickTale

ClickTale offers a lot of user data pertaining to how visitors use your website.
There are plenty of things you can look at such as average time it takes for a user to click on a link, a user’s hesitation on clicking a link, hover to click ratio, and much more. It also provides detailed reports and charts on your users’ monitor sizes to better optimize your web page design to cater for the typical visitor.


E-commerce will eat ALL

Once there was a market place, once there were shops and malls, and elegant roads, and big stores, once there were marketing companies and advertisements on the road, and fancy shops, and light and glamour and busy days on the shopping centres.

Soon, sooner than what we expect, all this will change.

E-commerce will eat ALL.
A computer will be our car, an internet connection the freeway, the Backbone the gasoline.
We will shop in China, in India, in Europe, in the USA.
We will shop where it is more convenient and where we find what we are looking for and, most of all, we will shop where the good advertisement will bring us.

It won't be a fancy banner or a blinking ad, or the promise of saving money, or pay one and get three.
It will be: "Hey buddy, I know what you like, I know what you need and I am good in telling jokes or making small and funny videos, or writing an interesting story.
Hey buddy, bookmark my blog, or my page and come back, I promise I will have something good to entertain you, for free of course."
And it will be: If by any chance you are looking for a new computer, or a new phone, or the latest music, or whatever I have to sell, ask me, or read what I am saying about it.
Just read. And if I am good I will sell, if I am not, I will sell to someone else.

Once there was the middle man, now there is the blogger, the writer, the video maker, the webmaster, the entertainer.

But believe me, it will be the same story with different clothes...

How to make people see what they do not want

The Internet should be the best media for advertising.
It is not.
Because on the Net the reader is FREE.
He can look and read, but he can avoid looking and reading.

Banners and ads are like ads on TV, people got blind to them.

So, the matter is: how can you cheat the eyes and the brain?
That is in a few words what advertising does.
They call it a kind of "information", but it is not just that.
It is "information" for "selling".
How can you inform and push people to buy?
How can you change browsing into buying?

You can create an interesting content people want to read or to look at and imbed the advertising into it.
Simple. But not easy.

I used to like to look at movies.
I thought: I will subscribe to a movie channel and be able to look at as many movies as I like.
After a little while I couldn't find a movie I really liked.
How come?
Once when they gave old movies on TV, very seldom at my times, every movie was good and interesting and enjoyable.
Now making a good movie is very though.
Making something new and different is tough.
Making something people enjoy seeing is tough.
Competition is tough.

So, the ad of the future has a long way to go, a tough way to go.
The ads that needed just a famous person to see I use this and produced a big revenue are gone.
They will have to invent something new and different, the mass is there waiting, but is getting more sophisticated in tastes...

Reboot your financial situation

Bob is full of debts.
It is small sums he owes here and there.
One thousand borrowed for a new computer (a cheap one, but mostly needed), two for a holyday he really deserved, a few more for unavoidable expenses...
At the end of the month it is a big sum he has to pay for interests.
He urgently needs Debtbuster Loans to reboot his life.
Something that could help him having extra money at his disposal in the form of a loan for any purpose without being overrun with debt. Debtbuster Loans will look at his financial position and then tailor a loan from a list of over 300 money lenders that will allow affordable monthly repayments as well as benefiting from low APR.

Summing all his debts in one will make it easier to repay them all.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The fascination of smoking

My seven-year-old son is fascinated with smoking. When he finds people doing it, he fixes his eyes on them and studies their behavior. "Look! That guy in the car is smoking," Joey might say while observing -- well, staring -- and soaking up all that is unfamiliar to him.

I guess that's the job of a little boy -- to figure out the actions that surround him. Which makes it the job of his mommy to help him make sense of it all. So that's what I do, all the while hoping I steer him into adopting a repulsion for smoking and not an affection for it. Sometimes, when he holds a twig between his fingers and then places it in his mouth, letting it dangle with perfect lip control, I worry that repulsion is a long way off. Then I remember he is only seven years old. There's still time.

"Why do people smoke?" Joey asked me the other day in the car, just after we walked by a man smoking outside a Walgreen's drugstore. "Yuck," Joey declared as he walked through the man's cloud of smoke. "Yes! He thinks it's yucky," were my first thoughts. Then I did my best at answering Joey's question.
I told Joey that people might smoke because at some point in their lives, someone asked them if they wanted to try a cigarette. So they tried. And they liked it. And maybe they don't want to quit. Or maybe they can't quit. One way or another, it becomes a habit, I explained. "Just like you want sugar all the time," I told Joey. Some people want to smoke all the time. Or not all the time. Maybe just once in a while. Still, it's not good for you, I continued. Either is sugar. I told Joey that smoking -- and sugar -- can make people sick.

Joey knows smoking can cause coughs. He knows it can cause difficulty breathing. He also knows it can cause cancer. It won't always cause cancer, though, I told him. But it might. And some people who never smoke -- like me -- can still get cancer. That's why we have to make healthy choices for our bodies. Not smoking is one good choice.

Eating healthy and exercising are also good choices, I said. I told Joey that I'm not sure why I got cancer. But I know how I can help prevent it from coming back. So I eat well and exercise well. I sleep enough. I try not to get angry. I try to be happy.

I can only hope that Joey understands a speck of what I tried to teach him. I can only hope he sees my example and wants to mimic me. I can only hope this seven-year-old boy grows up to be what I want him to be most: A non-smoker. But he's only seven. And for that, I am grateful.


The Big Hunger

PICTURES of hunger usually show passive eyes and swollen bellies. The harvest fails because of war or strife; the onset of crisis is sudden and localised. Its burden falls on those already at the margin.

Today's pictures are different. “This is a silent tsunami,” says Josette Sheeran of the World Food Programme, a United Nations agency. A wave of food-price inflation is moving through the world, leaving riots and shaken governments in its wake. For the first time in 30 years, food protests are erupting in many places at once. Bangladesh is in turmoil (see article); even China is worried (see article). Elsewhere, the food crisis of 2008 will test the assertion of Amartya Sen, an Indian economist, that famines do not happen in democracies.

Famine traditionally means mass starvation. The measures of today's crisis are misery and malnutrition. The middle classes in poor countries are giving up health care and cutting out meat so they can eat three meals a day. The middling poor, those on $2 a day, are pulling children from school and cutting back on vegetables so they can still afford rice. Those on $1 a day are cutting back on meat, vegetables and one or two meals, so they can afford one bowl. The desperate—those on 50 cents a day—face disaster.

Roughly a billion people live on $1 a day. If, on a conservative estimate, the cost of their food rises 20% (and in some places, it has risen a lot more), 100m people could be forced back to this level, the common measure of absolute poverty. In some countries, that would undo all the gains in poverty reduction they have made during the past decade of growth. Because food markets are in turmoil, civil strife is growing; and because trade and openness itself could be undermined, the food crisis of 2008 may become a challenge to globalisation.

First find $700m
Rich countries need to take the food problems as seriously as they take the credit crunch. Already bigwigs at the World Bank and the United Nations are calling for a “new deal” for food. Their clamour is justified. But getting the right kind of help is not so easy, partly because food is not a one-solution-fits-all problem and partly because some of the help needed now risks making matters worse in the long run.

The starting-point should be that rising food prices bear more heavily on some places than others. Food exporters, and countries where farmers are self-sufficient, or net sellers, benefit. Some countries—those in West Africa which import their staples, or Bangladesh, with its huge numbers of landless labourers—risk ruin and civil strife. Because of the severity there, the first step must be to mend the holes in the world's safety net. That means financing the World Food Programme properly. The WFP is the world's largest distributor of food aid and its most important barrier between hungry people and starvation. Like a $1-a-day family in a developing country, its purchasing power has been slashed by the rising cost of grain. Merely to distribute the same amount of food as last year, the WFP needs—and should get—an extra $700m.

And because the problems in many places are not like those of a traditional famine, the WFP should be allowed to broaden what it does. At the moment, it mostly buys grain and doles it out in areas where there is little or no food. That is necessary in famine-ravaged places, but it damages local markets. In most places there are no absolute shortages and the task is to lower domestic prices without doing too much harm to farmers. That is best done by distributing cash, not food—by supporting (sometimes inventing) social-protection programmes and food-for-work schemes for the poor. The agency can help here, though the main burden—tens of billions of dollars' worth—will be borne by developing-country governments and lending institutions in the West.

Such actions are palliatives. But the food crisis of 2008 has revealed market failures at every link of the food chain (see article). Any “new deal” ought to try to address the long-term problems that are holding poor farmers back.

Full Article

Nanotechnology increases storage capacity

Can you even imagine an MP3 player with a 500,000 GB capacity? It’s pretty much beyond belief. The most generous player today can only hold around 40,000 songs – they’d hardly make a dent on this.
The thing is, it could easily happen. Scientists at the University of Glasgow have created a nanotechnology breakthrough that could increase storage capacity by 150,000 times. It could mean 500,000 GB on a single chip and inch square.
The Glasgow scientists worked to create the molecule-sized switch that’s at the heart of it all.
Professor Lee Cronin at the University of Glasgow said,
“What we have done is find a way to potentially increase the data storage capabilities in a radical way. We have been able to assemble a functional nanocluster that incorporates two electron donating groups, and position them precisely 0.32 nm apart so that they can form a totally new type of molecular switching device. The key advantage of the molecule sized switch is information / transistor density in traditional semi-conductors. Molecule sized switches would lead to increasing data storage to say 4 Petabits per square inch.

Full Article

How computers help to have a greener world

With Earth Day approaching, you're probably thinking about the different ways you can do your bit for the environment. Well, if you're reading this, it's a pretty safe bet you're using a computer, and computers generate waste in all kinds of ways. But by changing just a few habits, you can keep more stuff out of landfills, save energy, and even tuck a few extra dollars in your wallet. Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. Save Paper and Ink
I receive a lot of press releases and other printed documents that I never read more than once (if ever), so when I can get away with it I print on the reverse side of these pieces, reserving my pristine sheets for letters and other important documents. The savings are tangible: I've bought exactly one 500-sheet pack of paper in the last two years.

You can save more paper by shrinking your text and printing two pages side by side on one sheet of paper, if your printer driver allows it. (You'd better have good eyesight, though.) In Windows XP, choose Print, and then select Preferences or Print Setup. Look for an option called 'Pages per Sheet', and set it to 2.

If you print a lot from the Web, you should absolutely download a copy of the ad-supported GreenPrint World so that you can trim the stuff you don't need printed, which saves both paper and ink (or toner).

You can also save ink--easily the most expensive part of any inkjet printer--by printing in draft mode whenever possible. Look for more tips in "The Cheapskate's Guide to Printing."

2. Stop Wasting CDs and DVDs
I can't count the number of times someone has burned a disc just to give me, say, 100MB of data, leaving the remaining 600MB (or, worse, 4GB or more) unused. Rewritable discs cost more and take a little longer to burn, but they're perfect for passing data back and forth without throwing out all that metal and plastic.

When you're done with your discs, you can recycle them by sending them to GreenDisk for responsible destruction and reuse. You must pay a small fee--$6.95 for boxes 20 pounds or lighter--but you can also cram in any other electronic waste you have lying around. Though GreenDisk guarantees that the material on your discs won't fall into the wrong hands, the extracautious can protect their data beforehand using Aleratec's CD/DVD Shredder. Despite its name, the CD/DVD Shredder actually pounds thousands of tiny pits into the surface of a disc, rendering it unreadable. Aleratec doesn't sell it anymore, but it does turn up on Amazon and eBay.

3. Tweak Your Power Settings
If you're like me, your computer is on all day, but you don't work on it continuously. Turning it on and off isn't an option, but a quick trip to the Windows Power Options control panel can shave your usage down a bit. There, you can set your monitor and hard drives to power down when you haven't been using the PC for a while. It takes only a second for them to power up again, so you can use that time to get comfortable in your chair.

Most important, you can set the computer itself to go to sleep or to hibernate after a certain period of inactivity. Sleep mode is a low-power mode, and as with the hard disks and monitor, it has everything up and running in just a few moments when you want to start working again. Hibernation, in contrast, switches the computer off but saves your current work environment first. As you'd expect, waking the computer up from hibernation takes a bit longer.

Tip: Windows XP SP2 sometimes has a problem making hibernation work when your PC has more than 1GB of RAM--oddly, it generates an error message saying that you don't have enough resources. A quick visit to Microsoft's Knowledge Base provides a patch that fixes it right up.

By the way, these tips also apply to your portable devices. MP3 players, cell phones, PDAs, and handheld game machines have settings for powering down or adjusting their screens, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi settings. Switching off what you don't need (or even just turning down the screen brightness) extends battery life, which means less recharging.

4. Turn It Off!
Printers, scanners, speakers, monitors--surrounding your computer is a multitude of peripherals that will happily keep on sucking power even when the PC is switched off. It doesn't seem like much, but even an idle printer is a drain on your utility bill. The simple rule of thumb is to turn anything off when you're not using it. That includes turning off your monitor (rather than letting it sit in low-power mode when the computer is off), and turning on your printer only when you actually have something to print.

The trouble is that some devices have hard-to-reach power buttons--or worse, no power buttons at all. Power strips such as the Smart Strip can help; the Smart Strip, for example, switches off devices plugged into specific outlets when the computer is switched off.

Also, don't forget to unplug your phone, camera, or any other rechargeable device as soon as it's finished juicing up--even though the batteries are smart enough to stop drawing power when they're full, electricity is still flowing through the cable. Some Nokia phones will even nag you to unplug them when they're done.

5. Find a New Home for Your Old Tech
So you're getting ready to upgrade to a new computer, but you've discovered that you have no room in the closet for the old one because it's already filled with a decade's worth of obsolete technology. What to do? One solution is to recycle your old gadgets by bringing them somewhere where they'll be disposed of properly. You can find a list of services in your area by checking out Earth 911's Web site, which tells you where to dispose of everything from batteries to toner cartridges to the 386 you've had knocking around since the first George Bush was in office.

Better still, you can Freecycle your old equipment. Freecycle is a network of local mailing lists (there are over 4000 globally, from Andorra to the Virgin Islands) for people who want to give stuff away or are looking for free stuff. Just post a message about what you want to give, and someone will probably offer to take it off your hands--and isn't finding your old computer a new home better than just having it dismantled?

Whichever method you choose, don't forget to wipe your hard drive clean first. Use a utility such as File Shredder to delete any sensitive data from your hard disk before it slips out the door.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Animals' personalities

It may seem like a silly question to pet owners. Of course animals have personalities. Just take a trip to your neighborhood dog park, and you'll see those personalities in action: The miniature pinscher marches confidently into the middle of wrestling match among a pack of large dogs, while the mixed breed Labrador tentatively sticks to her owner's pant leg.

Pet owners are quick to attach personalities to their pets. But what do scientists say about this concept? Is it possible for animals to be irritable, adventurous, neurotic or even a mixture of these characteristics?

Some veterinarians not only think animals have personalities, but that they can even suffer from depression or separation anxiety when they are left at home alone all day. Studies estimate that more than 10 million dogs in the U.S. suffer from separation anxiety [source: Booth].
In 2007, the FDA approved a chewable antidepressant for dogs developed by Eli Lilly, the company that makes Prozac. Reconcile, the dog friendly antidepressant, even has a beef flavor. Combined with therapy, the drug successfully treated a little more than 70 percent of depressed dogs [source: Booth].

Experts also say parrots suffer depression when they are left home alone. Romain Pizzi, a specialist in animal medicine, notes that parrots will actually harm themselves during bouts of depression and that liquid Prozac has helped to stop that behavior

How stffs work

Not only Nero

1. CDBurnerXP

This is by far the most popular free alternative to the expensive Nero Software. Works on Vista as well, and here’s a features-highlight from CDBurnerXP:

Multi Language Interface
Support for Blu Ray/HD DVD
BIN > ISO converter included

2. InfraRecorder

This is the software that I currently use on my computer as a Nero alternative, and I must tell, it’s damn simple and straightforward. Has all that you might expect in a CD DVD Burning software like Nero. Some highlights from this Nero alternative include:

Support for Multi-Session
Very Light on Resources
Support for not just ISO, but also BIN and CUE images
Burning on Dual Layer DVDs is supported

3. DeepBurner (Free Edition)

Another good alternative. Available both as a regular and portable app. So if you want something you can carry around on your USB Flash Drive then check this one out.

Supports both internal and external CD/DVD writers.
Burn any data, copy any disc.
Create multiple disk copies.
Make ISO CDs.
Print CD labels.

4. Ultimate CD/DVD Burner

This simple solution can serve all your basic CD burning needs. Similar to above Deepburner, there is a portable version. The only thing I don’t like about this one is interface, it reminds of Windows 95.

CD Photo Albums creation
Easy Backup CD creation
Disk copying
ISO Creation and Burning

5. Burn At Once

Burn At Once is another good CD/DVD Burning Application. It can copy discs on the fly and has the following unique features:

Tagging of media by importing data from FreeDB
Multi Language Support
Drag and Drop Interface
However, it looks like support for this application is stagnant at the moment.

6. Burn Aware Free Edition

This relatively new software is creating waves, and it’s intuitive interface is attracting users. It’s very light on resources, and supports every other format that you can imagine (including Blu Ray). Burning is fast because this software burns data directly on to the medium, instead of waiting for ‘hard disk staging’

7. ImgBurn

Another software that’s worth mentioning here is ImgBurn. It’s a lightweight CD / DVD / HD DVD / Blu-ray burning application that can be installed both on Windows and Linux PCs. It’s probably the most extensive out of all. If you’re looking for something advanced and with lots of features ImgBurn seems like a good candidate.


Sucessful Blog? How to

You possess knowledge. You have ideas. You wish to share them. You start a blog.

So evolves another failing blog among the millions. But why will it be a failure? Basically, there’s more to success than luck. Leo Babauta, Brian Clarke, and Skellie didn’t just get lucky.

Follow these steps, and you’ll learn how to turn your trickling visitors into hundreds, and eventually thousands of raving fans.

1. Write list posts.
This isn’t about what you like and don’t like, this is about what works. Lists work. In fact, it is now wired into the brain of almost every social bookmark user, to submit a list articles. I guarantee someone will submit this one!

Whether or not you like to write just a few words, or an essay, if you use your imagination, most can be turned into a list, and will therefore be more successful in garnering social bookmark attention, and links from other sites.

2. Write engaging titles
Sometimes I spend ages on a title for a post. I’m not the best at it, but I’m learning.

Why do you have to spend time on the title? Simple; most visitors don’t want to read your blog.

Seriously. They’re only going to read it if it will benefit them. This isn’t some leisurely hobby, this is about value!

The reader gives you their time, if you give them something in return. In order to lure them to give their time, you must use the title to engage them. You must use it as a ‘call to action’.

3. Write with authority
Most people aren’t leaders. If you look around, most of the people you know will not be ‘leader’ material.

However, leaders are attractive people. I say attractive in the sense that they reap attention from others.

As social creatures, we like leaders. We like authority, and because it stands out from the wishy washy crowd of the 21st century, it’s more likely to attract success.

Know your subject, let people know that you know it, and enforce your authority.

— Note: this is not an excuse for pig-headedness!

4. Get friends
Subconsciously, we class people differently according to our exposure to them. This is true in the ‘real’ world, and online. Let me explain.

As a blog owner, here is my social exposure scale in order of least to greatest:

Visitors - they visit and read, but I know nothing about them.
Commenters - I know their name, email, and website.
Feed subscribers - I never check out who they are, but they’ll get my attention if I discover they’re a subscriber.
Mailing list subscribers - I have been given permission to communicate directly to their inbox. It’s already a crowded place in there, so I feel priviledged.
Email contact - We’ve had a two-way private discussion, and we’ve shared things no one else knows about.
Instant Message Friends - We talk in real-time, on a regular basis.
Skype buddies - We’ve spoken to each other by voice, maybe even via video. We’re real friends.
Meet in person - Hey…we’re brothers!!
The more you travel up this scale, the more you’ll be able to ask of people, and able to use their power to help you succeed online.

Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to drive your way up this scale (with tact) as fast as possible. If you can get on my IM list for instance, and you ask me for a Digg or Stumble, you’re going to get it.

5. Leave engaging comments
Comments can be a powerful means of getting yourself some attention - if used well. There are two major ways to use comments effectively to attract attention from other bloggers.

i) Leave a comment which obligates them (the author) to like you - in other words, if you Stumbled or Dugg the post, tell them. If it transformed your life, tell them.

ii) Ask questions - Most comments are repetitive drivel that don’t need a reply. Stick out from the crowd by asking a related question. They must then focus attention on you. Do the same with those that leave comments on your blog. It encourages them to return.

Use both of these tactics together, to make a real impact.

If you follow these tips carefully and perform them frequently, your blog will quickly build momentum and attention, and you’ll drive traffic to you site which you only ever dreamed of.


U.K. will get the World's Largest Turbines

Clipper Wind is taking the plunge into a leadership position for offshore wind development. The Britannia project, announced last fall as a path toward testing super-sized offshore wind turbine system, will be announcing the first sale of a 7.5 megawatt wind turbine for deployment and testing in UK waters. These turbines are a touch bigger than Enercon's E-126 turbines. Enercon's turbines max out at about 7 megawatts. Clipper's turbines will take advantage of the high and steady winds of the UK's oceans to pull another 500 kilowatts.

Showing the power of targets for creating opportunities, the UK's aggressive 2020 targets for renewable power and the vision of wind power's central role in meeting these targets has drawn Clipper and other companies into the United Kingdom to help meet the demand signal. To provide scale, the projected power from just one 7.5 Clipper Wind turbine will equal, over one year, one million barrels of oil.


How Jerks attract women

Sometimes, it’s easy to believe that Jerks have some type of magical power that allows them to sucker women into liking them and somehow have them hang around while they treat them like dirt.

This happens SO MUCH, that some guys believe that they actually have to BECOME Jerks to get women attracted to them.

But make no mistake about it - nobody likes a jerk. Not even the women who date them! So if that’s the case, why is it obvious that they get so many girls to go for them?

Well, remember that Jerk’s tend to go through lots of women quickly. Most girls will only put up with Jerk behavior for so long before they get sick of it. And those who stick around have such low self esteem as it is, that they’ve formed some type of strange attachment to the emotional abuse Jerks doll out.

That said, there are a number of things Jerks do to attract women that make them effective seducers and pick up artists. And these are things that “nice guys” can do, and get the same results.

Here are the top 5 things Jerks do to get women, and how you can do them too - WITHOUT having to become a prick…

Jerk’s are self-centered
One of the big things a Jerk has going for him is that he really doesn’t care about other people. In fact, his focus is almost entirely on his own pleasures, thoughts, and feelings.

Because of this, when he sees something he wants, he goes after it!

When your average “nice guy” sees a hot girl, he might be intimidated. He wants her to like him. He wants approval from her. In short - he cares about what she thinks!

But in addition to that, most guys care about what other’s think too! They worry about a girl rejecting them in front of other people, and what those people will think when they see it happen.

Jerks do not have this problem. They couldn’t care less about what other people are thinking. The Jerk is only focused on getting what he wants.

When you allow yourself to focus on your goals, and set aside fears of judgment from others, this gives you a great deal of focus, and as we all know, focus is KEY to achieving what we desire.

Jerks aren’t afraid to approach women
The single, most important step in getting a woman is walking up to her and talking to her.

So many guys just DON’T DO THIS. They are too shy, or too intimidated by the girl to do so. Instead, they hang back and just stare at her like a big dummy, wishing he could find the balls to meet her.

Jerks don’t hesitate to approach a girl. They’re not worried about whether or not she’s going to like them, because THEY DON’T CARE.

They’re thinking about how hot it’s going to be to make out with her. They’re thinking about how much fun it will be to get her in bed. The LAST thing on their mind is “fear of rejection.”

To a Jerk, if a girl rejects him, there’s something wrong with HER, not him. Nice guys will say “Oh, I’m too ugly, she doesn’t like me.” Jerks will say “That bitch is a total lesbian.”

Just the act of being able to approach a girl and start talking to her puts the Jerk at an advantage, because he’s interacting with the girl, and the “nice guy” isn’t. To the girl, the nice guy doesn’t exist!

That’s why women typically have such low opinions of men, because it’s always the Jerks who are approaching the women while the shy guys sit off in the corner!

Jerks realize it’s not the woman’s job to approach the guy. If you want something, you have to go after it.

So if the Nice Guys were to start walking up and talking to women, they might be surprised to find most women WELCOME their company and really want to meet a good fella to treat them right!

Jerk’s don’t censor themselves
Part of the reason Jerk’s come off as fun, interesting, or exciting is because they aren’t worried about offending anybody. They will talk about whatever, joke about whatever, and even broach “sensitive” topics of conversation without a blink of an eye.

Too many “nice guys” hold back when they talk to a girl they like. They NEVER bring up sex. They don’t even joke about it. Heck, they don’t even display any sign they even LIKE the girl.

Because of this, the Nice Guys become the Boring Guys.

The Jerk will come along, make an off-color joke, tell the girl a racy story, and even MAKE FUN of the girl!

He could care less if he offends somebody. To the Jerk, he’s just doing what comes naturally to him. Attitude like this is like a breath of fresh air to many women, because they mistake it as “confidence.”

But the more they are around the Jerk, the more they realize it isn’t confidence at all - its just narcissism, and a complete lack of caring about others.

A nice guy would do well to “loosen up” when first meeting a girl and not try and please her so much, just like the Jerk does. But in the long term, it’s okay to care about what a girl thinks and be on your best behavior. But do this ONLY after you’ve created an attraction with her.

Jerks are honest about what they want.
When a Jerk approaches a woman, he makes no bones about what he’s after. He flirts with her, lusts after her, and tries to convince her to come home and have sex with him.

The girl knows RIGHT AWAY what the Jerk wants, and after he’s made it clear, it is up to her to decide if she wants to give it to him.

If not, the Jerk moves on and finds another girl. If so, then the Jerk takes her by the hand and drags her off.

This type of honesty is actually appreciated by women. In contrast, you have the nice guys who try and fly under the radar by being an asexual “friend.” He hangs out, listens to the girl’s problems, tries to help her when she needs it, and then all of a sudden, he springs the fact on her that he’s deeply in love!

And the girl FREAKS OUT.

The reason for this is that the “nice guy,” in trying to not get rejected quickly by misrepresenting his intentions, has basically built a relationship with the girl based on LIES.

And because of that, the girl has already pegged him as a “friend.”

So when the guy wants to be “more than friends,” the girl feels betrayed, because she’s become accustomed to thinking of him in a certain way, and now he’s demanding she look at him differently.

(Not surprisingly, shortly after this happens, most girls even stop being “friends” with the guy!)

Nice guys should make their intentions clear from the start. Flirt with a girl. Let her know you like her and want to date her! If she rejects you, move on until you find a girl who likes what you have to offer.

That’s what the Jerks do, and it works out great for them!

Jerk’s safeguard their self esteem
All too often, getting rejected from one girl will send a “nice guy” down a spiral of depression. His self esteem will hit rock bottom, and he’ll get depressed and withdraw for the rest of the night.

Jerk’s don’t suffer from this problem. They safeguard their self-esteem viciously, and don’t allow rejection to get them down.

This is why Jerks are Jerks! Because they will completely IGNORE rejection, and even go so far as to put down and ridicule other people to make themselves feel more important than they are.

This constant guarding of their self esteem allows them to keep pursuing their goals by not allowing them to fall into a funk of depression.

And no matter how you cut it - a guy with high self esteem is always way more attractive to women than a depressed loser.

For the average nice guy, it’s important not to take rejection personally. If a girl isn’t into you, it doesn’t mean you’re not attractive, or cool, or interesting - it just means that girl isn’t right for you!

So you keep looking for one that is, and you don’t stop until you find her.

Rejection can be a hard thing for anyone to deal with. But remember to keep a positive outlook. Instead of seeing it as “losing a girl,” think of it like “I just eliminated a girl who’d have wasted my time if I pursued her.”

You don’t need to ridicule or bad mouth others to feel good about yourself like Jerks do, but you should protect your self esteem as viciously as possible, because that will keep you going.

Understand - picking up women is a numbers game. The more women you meet, the more likely it is you’ll get one! Jerk’s succeed due to their tenacity and ability to play the numbers. Nice guys go for one or two women a night while Jerks hit up 20-30.

And it’s these five traits that allow them to do that!

But if you really want to learn the secrets of building your confidence, safeguarding your self esteem, and approaching women without getting rejected, you should head on over to my website and sign up for my free newsletter.

Every day, I send out advice and tips on how to be more confident and how to approach more women.

So click here to sign up for my free approaching women course.

And remember - you don’t have to be a Jerk to attract women! You just have to be the type of guy who isn’t afraid to go after what he wants.

Joseph Matthews

Smell can give you away

Female mice can steer clear of inbred males on the basis of their scent alone, according to evidence presented online on April 17th in Current Biology.

The researchers found that female mice chose to associate with males producing a greater diversity of major urinary proteins (MUPs), even when all else was held equal. An earlier study by the same team had shown that wild mice also rely on MUPs to recognize and avoid mating with their close relatives.

“We conclude that female mice can identify more outbred males by the higher diversity of urinary proteins they produce,” said Michael Thom of the University of Liverpool. “In addition to the multiple signaling roles already identified for MUPs, these proteins may also act as a signal of inbreeding. More outbred animals produce a greater number of different protein forms, and females may be able to recognize these superior males simply by ‘counting’ the number of proteins they produce, without waiting to see which might win in a fight.”

The findings offer the first evidence that females can recognize inbred males by using a signal that does not directly affect male health, he added. The results in mice raise the possibility that similar behaviors could be widespread in other species.

Inbreeding is often avoided in animals because it can lead faulty, otherwise hidden (or recessive) traits to surface in their offspring. Nevertheless, Thom said, inbreeding does sometimes occur.

“ We wanted to know whether females would prefer to associate with stronger, more outbred males over inbred individuals,” and if so, how they tell the difference between them, he said.

Full Article

Is it really cheaper to produce alternative nergy?

Here's a measurement you probably haven't thought of before: it takes between 3,000 gallons and 6,000 gallons of water to power a 60-watt incandescent bulb for 12 hours a day over the course of a year.

The water equation comes to energy.

(Credit: Virginia Tech)That statistic was published on Thursday by researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, who have studied how demand for a dwindling natural resource--fresh water--plays into energy.

The most water-efficient energy sources are natural gas and synthetic fuels produced by coal gasification. The least efficient are ethanol and biodiesel--two fuels booming in production because of supportive government policies, followed by rapid investment.

In terms of power generation, they found that geothermal and hydroelectric energy use the least amount of water, while nuclear plants use the most.

A United States-wide tally shows that power generation requires 655 billion gallons of water a year.

"There are several variables, such as geography and climate, technology type and efficiency, and accuracy of measurements that come into play. However, by standardizing the measurement unit (BTU, or British Thermal Unit), we have been able to obtain a unique snapshot of the water used to produce different kinds of energy," Virginia Tech professor Tamim Younos said.

Biofuels, in particular, are being increasingly scrutinized, as people start to measure the trade-offs of making liquid fuels from biomass.

Corn ethanol emits about 20 percent fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline, but it requires more water, and it has raised the price of grain and food.

Fresh-water supply is a serious concern among scientists studying climate change. Recent droughts in Europe and the southeast United States have been blamed for strains on production at nuclear and coal power generation facilities.


How to rip your DVDs

Whether you want to watch a movie on your iPod or back up your too-easily-scratched DVDs, DVD ripping is a mysterious realm for many. Even those in-the-know find it difficult to keep up with the best tools for the job, especially in the face of increased copy protection. On Tuesday we asked you to share your favorite DVD ripping tools; today we've sifted through hundreds of comments to bring you the five most popular answers. Hit the jump for a closer look at five of the best and most popular DVD ripping tools, then cast your vote to determine the best ripper of the bunch.

DVD Shrink (Windows)
Despite the fact that the freeware DVD Shrink (download) hasn't been in active development for years, this freeware decrypter, ripper, and compressor is still a favorite all-in-one stop for ripping and backing up DVDs. Its compression feature is what sets DVD Shrink apart, compressing 8GB dual-layer DVDs down to 4GB sizes that will fit on standard, single-layer DVD-Rs (i.e., the type of DVDs most consumers can burn to). It's even inspired us to write our very own DVD Shrink helper application, DVD Rip, which turns the already simple DVD Shrink process into a one-click ripping affair.

HandBrake (All Platforms)

The free, cross-platform HandBrake makes ripping DVDs to a bevy of useful, playable file formats a cinch, with support for iPods, PSPs, Apple TVs, PS3s, and pretty much any other format your device requires. It's fast, free, and takes the difficulty out of both ripping and transcoding.

DVDFab HD Decrypter

Much like DVD Shrink, DVDFab HD Decrypter cuts through copy protection and rips DVDs to your hard drive. Unlike DVD Shrink, DVDFab does not offer compression tools. DVDFab is shareware, but its trial version lets you do nearly as much as you'd ever need. That said, users who pony up for the platinum edition don't seem to have any regrets. (original post)

MacTheRipper (Mac OS X)

Freeware application MacTheRipper breaks copy protection from DVDs and rips the contents to your hard drive—which makes it the go-to Mac version of apps like DVD Shrink or DVDFab. Like the other two, MacTheRipper doesn't encode its rips to other formats (instead it just rips the DVD menu and all to your hard drive), but that's what Handbrake is there for.

DVD Decrypter

The freeware DVD Decrypter works much like DVD Shrink and DVDFab, ripping DVDs to your hard drive by tearing through pesky copy protection. Like DVD Shrink, DVD Decrypter hasn't been actively developed for a while, but it's still doing the job for most folks without complaint.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Terahertz computers may be within reach

The Gigahertz race was probably one of the most ill-fated ideas in the microprocessor industry in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Intel was almost brought down to its knees by the enormous power consumption and heat dissipation of 3+ GHz speeds in circuits of the time, eventually hitting a wall at 4 GHz. The Gigahertz race has now become a multi-core race, but scientists have ideas to ramp up the clock speed at a faster pace again: Terahertz computers may be within reach – if data is carried over optical instead of electrical circuits.

“Electronic circuits today work at gigahertz frequencies – billions of cycles per second,” Nahata stated. “In this study, we’ve demonstrated the first step toward making circuits that use terahertz radiation and ultimately might work at terahertz speeds or a thousand times faster than today’s gigahertz-speed computers.”

While research on terahertz waveguides have existed for about a decade, Nahata claims that his team was able to show “how to make these waveguides on a flat surface so that you can make circuits just like electronic circuits on silicon chips.”

“All we’ve done is made the wires” for terahertz circuits, Nahata says. “Now the issue is how do we make devices [such as switches, transistors and modulators] at terahertz frequencies"”

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A comment on Italian elections: what they mean

Italian people decided to grow, to change, to leave Italy and enter Europe and the world.
They finally understood the World war has finished since long, that the Berlin wall has gone a few years ago, that there are no Fascists and no Communists any more.
Just like in the rest of Europe and in the US.
Finally we have two parties that are slightly on the left and slightly on the right.
Both understand that the right is in the middle.
People understood that without rules, without justice, without programs you just have chaos, getting everyday bigger.
Hope they had enough of it, because, if this is the case, ALL will try to change and make this beautiful country a little bit closer to what it should be.

Good luck Italy, do not waist this chance!

Bread is getting expensive

The U.S. is wrestling with the worst food inflation in 17 years, and analysts expect new data due on Wednesday to show it's getting worse. That's putting the squeeze on poor families and forcing bakeries, bagel shops and delis to explain price increases to their customers.

U.S. food prices rose 4 percent in 2007, compared with an average 2.5 percent annual rise for the last 15 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And the agency says 2008 could be worse, with a rise of as much as 4.5 percent.

Higher prices for food and energy are again expected to play a leading role in pushing the government's consumer price index higher for March.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Lung cancer? Your mouth will tell it

Damage to cells lining the mouth can predict similar damage in the lungs that eventually leads to lung cancer in smokers, U.S. researchers reported on Sunday.

They hope it may be possible to some day swab the mouths of smokers to predict who is developing lung cancer -- saving painful and dangerous biopsies of the lung.

The process may also lead to tests that will predict other cancers, said Dr. Li Mao, an expert in head, neck and lung cancer at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

"Our study opens the door to enhancing our ability to predict who has higher probability of getting tobacco-related cancers," Mao said in a statement. "Not only lung cancer, but pancreatic, bladder and head and neck cancers, which also are associated with tobacco use."

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How much can the Pope heal the American flock's decline of trust?

The American visit poses an unprecedented pastoral challenge for the 80-year-old pontiff. Benedict's is the first papal trip to the United States since the priest sex abuse crisis erupted in 2001. It is a controversy that has left much of the American laity bitterly disillusioned with their Church's leadership. For many of the 67 million American Catholics, how the Pope confronts the lingering fallout from the pedophilia scandal may largely determine the success of this visit.

Benedict's arrival in the U.S. is being seen as a make-or-break moment for Rome to regain the trust of its American flock, the third largest national contingent within a worldwide Catholic Church of 1.1 billion faithful. In recent days, the Vatican has confirmed that on at least one occasion Benedict will specifically address the issue. The Vatican's No. 2 official, Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, told FOX News that the Pope will confront the "open wound" of sex abuse during the April 19 morning mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral for New York-area clergy. It is unclear whether his words will amount to a Mea Culpa similar to those pronounced by John Paul II back in 2000 for the sins of the Church over past centuries, including persecution of Jews and heretics. Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, who heads the Vatican office for the clergy, sent a letter to bishops around the world in January, urging special prayer sessions for the victims of sexual abuse by priests.

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Laser triggers electrical activity

A team of European scientists has deliberately triggered electrical activity in thunderclouds for the first time, according to a new paper in the latest issue of Optics Express, the Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal. They did this by aiming high-power pulses of laser light into a thunderstorm.

At the top of South Baldy Peak in New Mexico during two passing thunderstorms, the researchers used laser pulses to create plasma filaments that could conduct electricity akin to Benjamin Franklin's silk kite string. No air-to-ground lightning was triggered because the filaments were too short-lived, but the laser pulses generated discharges in the thunderclouds themselves.

"This was an important first step toward triggering lightning strikes with laser beams," says Jérôme Kasparian of the University of Lyon in France. "It was the first time we generated lighting precursors in a thundercloud." The next step of generating full-blown lightning strikes may come, he adds, after the team reprograms their lasers to use more sophisticated pulse sequences that will make longer-lived filaments to further conduct the lightning during storms.

Triggering lightning strikes is an important tool for basic and applied research because it enables researchers to study the mechanisms underlying lightning strikes. Moreover, triggered lightning strikes will allow engineers to evaluate and test the lightning-sensitivity of airplanes and critical infrastructure such as power lines.

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Coffee Italian style

The trouble with coffee is that originally it was quite a good drink.
So a group of the most eminent American scientists put their heads together and made complicated biological experiments to find a way of spoiling it.
To the eternal glory of American science their labour bore fruit.
They suggested that if you do not drink it clear, but pour a few drops of vanilla or rum into it and maybe no sugar at all, the desired object is achieved.
Once this refreshing, stimulating beverage was successfully transformed in colourless and tasteless gargling water, it suddenly became the most popular drink of America.

One glorious day some Americans discovered the Italian coffee (the fresh roasted, heavenly smelling type), drank it and changed their opinion on HOW the American Coffee should be.
That is why they called it San Marco Coffee.
Not only you can find the real espresso kind, but also the American Style flavoured one and even in bulk quantities at a very convenient price.
And last, but very important (said from an Italian, who knows a lot about coffee) they have the right machines.
Because if you really want to have an unforgettable experience you need to have the RIGHT coffee, but also the RIGHT machine to make it.
Is there something more alluring than the smell of freshly roasted coffee?

Saving energy the creative way

German researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have created a prototype for the world’s first-ever solar powered cell phone. While full-fledged solar panels are still quite large and expensive, the researchers have integrated smaller, high-efficiency cells into the phones which, they claim, offers a module efficiency rate of 20%. In other words, the phone will stay steadily charged as long as it gets roughly 2 hours of sunlight per day. Failing that, the phone can still be charged via conventional methods.

With all the excitement surrounding the worldwide push to “go green”, there have been some fascinating innovations that make it easy and even fun to save energy. Thanks to their creativity, we are entering an age where saving energy is almost as convenient as wasting it. Here are 12 green inventions that are helping us make this a cleaner planet.

With summer right around the corner, homeowners nationwide are dreading the huge spike in electricity bills that air conditioning season will cause. It is a pain virtually all homeowners know. Fortunately, one innovative company has stepped forward with a solution: Ice Energy, with their “Ice Bear” installation. The Ice Bear integrates with your air conditioner, freezing water overnight when the temperatures are lower and the electricity is (in most places) cheaper. During the day, the ice cools the air conditioner’s refrigerant instead of using fresh electricity to do it. The end result: roughly 30% energy savings when the AC is in use.

Everyone agrees that it’s far safer to ride a bike at night with a safety light that identifies you to motorists. The only problem is the dozens and potentially hundreds of batteries those lights will consume over a lifetime of riding. Luckily, a company called Duck has created a bicycle light that draws its power from the wind resistance you generate! As you pedal furiously into the sunset, the wind spins tiny blades that deliver electricity to a bright LED light via a hidden copper coil. A small, rechargeable lithium ion battery kicks in if and when you aren’t actively pedaling anywhere.


If you want to be successful, it pays to hire the right people

What makes a successful enterprise?
Mostly is the people who work for it.
Human resources are still what drives the economy and the productive aspect of any country.
The more intelligent, dedicated, prepared, experienced are your workers, the more successful is going to be your business.
That is why it is so important to find the right partners who will help you to reach your goals.
That is also why choosing the right Interim provider can mean the success of your business.
Alium Partners is the UK’s leading independent provider of high level interim executives for both organisations in the private and public sector.
They can help you as interim management provider, to find the strategic leaders and advisors, professional, sector experts or functional leaders, project managers and programme directors who will ensure effective delivery.
They can offer: quick and responsible solutions, superior service, experience in understanding the market, the skills and experience of their interim managers.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Our future steak

The world has seen the first international conference on manufacturing meat. This is the process, tested so far only at laboratory scale, of growing pork, chicken, or beef through cell culture in vats instead of raising and slaughtering animals.
My colleague Mark Bittman wrote a fine piece recently about the greenhouse-gas consequences of conventional meat production. Others have explored the environmental and ethical impacts of factory and feedlot farming. Manufactured meat, in theory, provides an end run around these issues. What if you can have your meat, be ethical, and environmental, too? (And presumably they’ll engineer the bad fats out as well….)
The three-day meeting of the In Vitro Meat Consortium, held at the Norwegian Food Research Institute, is wrapping up today. (They might want to do something about that name.) It brought together biologists, engineers, government officials and entrepreneurs seeking – for both environmental and ethical reasons – to move from animal husbandry to technology as a means of providing the kind of protein people crave in a world heading toward 9 billion ever more affluent mouths.
A paper presented at the meeting concluded that, for the moment, the costs of cultured meat can’t come close yet to competing with, say, unsubsidized chicken. (A pdf is downloadable here.) The paper noted the reality of the climb up the protein ladder as countries move out of poverty, with global meat consumption at about 270 million metric tons in 2007 and growing at about 4.7 million tons per year.
It laid out the theory: “The environmental impact of meeting this forecast demand from existing livestock systems is significant. Cultured meat technology offers an alternative production route for a proportion of this consumption. This would then allow a downsized livestock production system to continue to be ecologically sound and to meet basic animal welfare needs.”
The group noted that costs for research, large-scale testing, and public relations will be significant, and anticipated that governments and nonprofit groups would chip in. That seems idealistic, at best, in a world with deeply entrenched interests linking ranching, the agrochemical industry, and giant restaurant chains.
But one could envision someday a model, say, of a solar-powered facility in southern California or Singapore basically turning sunlight and desalinated seawater into growth medium and then tons of cruelty-free, sustainable nuggets of chicken essence. (The promoters of this technology don’t envision anything, for now at least, beyond nuggets and ground meat. No filet mignon.)
For the moment, startup costs aside, the conferees concluded that unsubsidized chicken-raising still comes in at half the price. But the century is yet young.
Full Article


Futures are basically a contract to sell or buy a commodity at a certain date.
In this they differ from the obligation, where in the first the buyer has the right, not the obligation to sell and in the second both parties, buyer and seller must fulfil the contract on the settlement date.
Futures are what is called exchange traded derivatives.
In a few words, there is always who sustaines a loss to the one who makes a profit.
Of course the goal of everybody is making profits.
This is where Sands Turtle Futures comes into the picture.
If you want to be sure to be the one who makes a profit you should trust the professionals who can help you to do so.
You could open a Managed Futures Trading Account following Sands Turtle Futures advice and just sit back and watch the profits to roll in.
How does it sound?
Russell Sands has had a phenomenal futures trading year in 2007, and shows no signs of slowing down in 2008! He is up over 300% this year alone.
And this in a moment where the financial future looks quite gloomy and uncertain and there are many more losers than winners.
Richard Dennis , the founder of Turtles, turned a $400 family loan into $200 million.
But he didn't stop to that. He recruited 14 people - some of whom had no trading experience - and taught them his trading methods.
You too can take advantage of his experience and the nice thing is that he offers you a 100% money-back, iron-clad guarantee!

My next holiday? The Moon

In a recent interview, Richard Branson outlined his vision for Virgin Galactic's future. Once tourists are taken into Earth orbit, it seems possible that space hotels could be developed for longer stop-overs in space. He then went on to mention that short "sight-seeing" tours to the Moon could be started from these ultimate hotels. If we are to make travel to the Moon routine enough to send tourists there, the trip would need to be as short as possible. So how long is the commute from the Earth to the Moon anyway? Man and machine have made that trip already, some took a very long time, and others were astonishingly fast…

Many missions have arrived in lunar orbit and landed on the lunar surface, but the means of getting there are widely varying. Whether a mission uses a rocket to blast its way there, or a subtle ion engine to slowly edge its payload closer, we have many options open to us when we travel to the Moon in the future. To this end, I'll give a quick rundown from slowest to fastest flights to Earth's natural satellite 380,000 km away.

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"Helping" your brain

How much would you pay to have a small memory chip implanted in your brain if that chip would double the capacity of your short-term memory? Or guarantee that you would never again forget a face or a name?

There’s good reason to consider such offers. Although our memories are sometimes spectacular — we are very good at recognizing photos, for example — our memory capacities are often disappointing. Faulty memories have been known to lead to erroneous eyewitness testimony (and false imprisonment), to marital friction (in the form of overlooked anniversaries) and even death (sky divers have been known to forget to pull their ripcords — accounting, by one estimate, for approximately 6 percent of sky-diving fatalities). The dubious dynamics of memory leave us vulnerable to the predations of spin doctors (because a phrase like “death tax” automatically brings to mind a different set of associations than “estate tax”), the pitfalls of stereotyping (in which easily accessible memories wash out less common counterexamples) and what the psychologist Timothy Wilson calls “mental contamination.” To the extent that we frequently can’t separate relevant information from irrelevant information, memory is often the culprit.

All this becomes even more poignant when you compare our memories to those of the average laptop. Whereas it takes the average human child weeks or even months or years to memorize something as simple as a multiplication table, any modern computer can memorize any table in an instant — and never forget it. Why can’t we do the same?

Much of the difference lies in the basic organization of memory. Computers organize everything they store according to physical or logical locations, with each bit stored in a specific place according to some sort of master map, but we have no idea where anything in our brains is stored. We retrieve information not by knowing where it is but by using cues or clues that hint at what we are looking for.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Regulating the Internet Traffic

If the Internet is a highway, then the companies responsible for maintaining the roads are increasingly at odds with the ones producing a lot of the traffic. Comcast throttling BitTorrent traffic as a way to protect network integrity (or so it says) is one example. Another can be found in the arguments of a British ISP that’s seeking to get the BBC to pay for network upgrades, claiming the broadcaster’s iPlayer is hogging too much bandwidth.

The request for funding to build more robust networks made by Simon Gunter, chief of strategy at ISP Tiscali, is akin to asking car companies to pay a tax for building more roads. It’s one way to address the issue, but there are other options, among them better traffic management, which would decrease the distance cars need to travel.

It’s an evil phrase, but necessary in a world in which backhaul is limited and fiber to the home is still a luxury. Recall that the FCC had no problem with Comcast engaging in network management practices, but rather that Comcast “managed” a specific application without disclosing that fact to consumers. And the application attacked was competing with Comcast’s own cable offerings.

Many of these media files are delivered via peer-to-peer networks. They’ve long been the most efficient way to get large amounts of data across a network, and now they’re working hard to be even more efficient. Nine months ago, Verizon and Pando Networks stepped up to create the Peer 4 Peer working group, which is trying to create a standardized protocol through which P2P firms and ISPs could work together. The idea was that sharing an ISP’s network topology would help P2P companies route traffic in ways that are advantageous to both the ISP and the end user. Results included a 235 percent increase in delivery speeds in the U.S. and keeping more traffic inside an ISP’s own network.

The other way to reduce traffic involves each P2P company making tweaks to their software.
At some point new roads will have to be built. But in the meantime, there are ways to prevent network congestion that don’t involve kicking certain cars off the road.

Not only new roads, but small "cars".
File compression in my opinion will have a big role in the future of the Internet highway.

Where is Yahoo going?

When Microsoft started hunting Yahoo in February, many assumed that the software behemoth would bag the company swiftly and efficiently. Yahoo seemed to be classic weak Web prey, wobbling financially while rival Google continued to dominate the online world. Now, just days after Microsoft's threat to take its modest offer directly to shareholders, Chief Yahoo Jerry Yang is fighting back.

Rumors are flying that Yahoo is teaming up with AOL, the long-suffering Internet division of Time Warner (which is also the parent company of TIME), as a way to stave off an unwanted merger. At the same time, there are reports that Microsoft is buddying up with News Corp. so that the two companies can increase Yahoo's offering price and corner their catch. While many industry watchers still believe that Microsoft will gobble up Yahoo eventually, chances are it will have to pay a lot more for its meal.


Can you hide something from Google?

The better question might be, what doesn't Google know about us, according to Gartner analysts.

LAS VEGAS -- Google knows almost everything connected to the Web, but there is one major source of untapped data the company has scarcely touched to date. Can you guess that area?

If you cried "e-commerce transactions" you would be right, according to analysts at the Gartner Symposium ITexpo 2008 here April 10.

Thanks to a powerful database management system and corresponding technologies, the company is able to access just about anything that hasn't been encrypted, said Gartner analyst Richard Hunter in his presentation on what kind of information Google corrals on the world.

The one area where Google isn't particularly strong is in e-commerce transactions, where its Google Checkout platform sees only about 1 percent of what is sold on the Internet.

"This is obviously an area of great interest for them because so much of their current revenue is devised of advertising," Hunter said.

The conversation shed a new light on the rumor that Google could buy online travel power Expedia. Some financial analysts applauded this notion, while others booed the premise. The naysayers claimed Google would be broadening its business too much, while the cheerleaders claimed Google would be able to tap a new world of advertising.


No from Norwegia to pirate-chasers

At the end of March we reported that the MPAA’s pirate-chasing lawyer Espen Tøndel sent a letter demanding that Norwegian ISPs disconnect file-sharers from the Internet. Unfortunately for him, the ISPs aren’t going to comply and have issued a letter in response, refusing to break the law to please copyright holders.

It’s becoming a trend for outfits such as the IFPI, MPAA, BPI and their equivalents to demand that ISPs disconnect their file-sharing customers from the internet. Unfortunately for them, ISPs don’t want to play ball with these demands and are starting to make their opinions known while refusing to be bullied. Even the European Parliament thinks that disconnecting file-sharers from the Internet is disproportionate.

When Simonsen Advokatfirma sent a letter to Norwegian ISPs via the MPAA’s lawyer Espen Tøndel, it was probably expected that the ISPs would agree to their outrageous demands. Not so. Instead, IKT Norway - an interest group for ISPs - stood up for the ISPs stating:

“In a constitutional state, the police and the prosecuting authority have the job of investigating and indicting, not lawyers and communication engineers. Most of the big ISPs in Norway are members of IKT Norway and we will support the various ISPs as best we can against what we see as a preposterous demand from Simonsen”

Now, in a detailed letter, IKT Norway has responded in the strongest possible way.