Tuesday, September 30, 2003
  Globe and Mail: Why women live longer
Women take fewer risks...
  Seattle Times: Allen's right hand man leaves

Paul Allen's awful investments of late have caused him to clean house, including Bill Savoy.

In 1999, Industry Standard magazine dubbed Savoy the tech world's "Most Powerful Consigliore." Savoy, who is 5-foot-7, developed a reputation for being intense, competitive, brash, decisive and to some, "Napoleonic."

Property records show that he has a $5 million home in the exclusive Eastside suburb of Medina.

Dan Rosen, managing partner with Frazier Technology Ventures in Seattle, recalled that near the peak of the stock-market bubble, Savoy sold a lot of Allen's holdings in Internet stocks.

"He said anything that was liquid he could get out of, he did," Rosen said. "It was a brilliant strategy.

"He was the financial genius behind Vulcan. It's never surprising when someone that good, with so much to offer, decides to do something else."

  TomsHardware: Zalman ZM-RS6F: The First 5.1 Headphones
Looks cool. Doesn't mention price, tho I didn't look that hard.
  New marathon world records...

Paul Tergat ran the fast Berlin course to a new world record in 2:04:55: BBC: Tergat sets marathon record. He also holds the record for the half-marathon of 59:17.

Toronto Star: Milton runner, 72, sets world record. He ran the marthon in 2:59:10, fastest time for anyone in his age class.

  Passing away...

Robert Palmer at 54 from a massive heart attack: BBC: Swiss burial for Robert Palmer

Donald O'Connor at 78 from heart failure, he had been in poor health in recent years: BBC: Singin' in the Rain star dies

I'm sure there will be a bump in sales of Robert Palmer's CDs, downloads of his songs from P2P file-sharing networks, and increased sales of the Singin' inthe Rain DVD.

  Passing away...

Robert Palmer at 54 from a massive heart attack: BBC: Swiss burial for Robert Palmer

Donald O'Connor at 78 from heart failure, he had been in poor health for some time: BBC: Singin' in the Rain actor dies. Also from Comic U.S. Actor Donald O'Connor Dead at 78:

O'Connor said he choreographed the sequence by seeing what made two female assistants laugh the most.

"As I progressed in the number doing pratfalls, it was on cement," O'Connor recalled later. "My body, my knees, my ankles, and toes, everything started to hurt."

Director Stanley Donen shot the sequence in a day in order to help protect O'Connor from the rigors of the number but discovered two days later that the camera aperture had been set incorrectly, he said.

"So I had to do it all over again," said O'Connor, who needed three days of bed rest to recover.

Thursday, September 25, 2003
  NY Times: Living Paycheck to Paycheck (All of Them Big)
A look at Alec Baldwin's net worth, income stream, and movie star finances.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
  NY Times: Cheeseburger and Fries, Wrapped Up in One

Looking to emulate the success of Chicken McNuggets and fried mozzarella sticks, the group is hoping to inject some red meat into the American snack food diet with cheeseburger fries. The fries, which look like a squat version of standard French fries, are made of a meat-and-cheese compound that tastes — as the name suggests — like a cheeseburger.

Beef, mostly in the form of hamburger, still dominates the menus of fast-food restaurants and bars across the country. But even the enduring popularity of the hamburger is not enough to counteract the long-term decline in national beef consumption. Twenty years ago Americans ate 77.1 pounds of beef per capita and 51.3 pounds of chicken. In 2001, the figures were 66.2 pounds of beef per capita and 75.6 pounds of chicken.

Looking for other avenues into the American diet, the beef industry noticed that restaurants sell over 900 million portions of chicken strips and fried cheese sticks, many of them as appetizers.

"You just don't see beef-based appetizers," Rob McLaughlin, vice president for product management at the Advance Food Company in Enid, Okla., which is manufacturing cheeseburger fries.

Steve Mason, owner of the Brass Rail restaurant in Beatrice, Neb., said he served five fries in a portion and charged $2.95. "They're very profitable," he added.

Like most bar snacks, cheeseburger fries pack quite a dietary wallop. Each individual fry has about 75 calories and four grams of fat. The fries for schools have less beef per serving but still have about 60 calories and, in fact, more fat — a total of 6 grams — in each fry. And nobody eats just one.

  NY Times: A Private School That Thrives on Rules

I think most private schools are more strict than public schools.

Trey Whitfield, in East New York, is a hybrid institution. It has the autonomy of a private school, the demographics of an urban public school and the religious and disciplinary trappings of a parochial school. It spends a mere $4,000 per pupil, less than half of classroom spending in New York City public schools.

Trey Whitfield students perform two or three years above grade level on national achievement tests. On the state reading and math exams, they rack up 3's and 4's on a 1-to-4 scoring system, while 2's are the norm in public schools. None of these tests are required in private school, but Mr. Whitfield knows that without them, "nobody is going to believe us."

The governing principle at the school is that structure, calm and safety are prerequisites for learning. "If we didn't have order, we couldn't teach these kids at all," Mr. Whitfield said, acknowledging that some people find his techniques robotic.

In addition, he said, minority children must learn that unkempt dreadlocks and drooping jeans may count as strikes against them when they leave East New York for the wider world. "I'm thinking future, far beyond here," he said. "It worked for me. I wasn't a thug."

"It's not an apples and apples comparison," said Steven Sanders, chairman of the State Assembly Education Committee. Still, Mr. Sanders said, Trey Whitfield's results suggest that leadership is the key to educational success, followed by parental involvement, with money a distant third.

Trey Whitfield is not a haven for a gifted few, bound for Horace Mann or Andover on full scholarship and then to the Ivy League. These are average students, more likely to attend the Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn or the New Hampton School in New Hampshire.

Students come mostly from working-class families in eastern Brooklyn, the children of nurses' aides and bus drivers, teachers and police officers. Everyone is nonwhite, reflecting the demographics of this swath of Brooklyn. Some live in two-parent households, and others with single mothers or fathers, with grandmothers or in foster homes.

The school lives a hand-to-mouth existence, paying its operating expenses solely with the $3,000-a-head tuition. It gets by with no computers, science lab or cafeteria, in three prefabricated modules. There are no assistant principals or secretaries, but many volunteers like Ma Jackson, as she is known, an 84-year-old retired baby nurse who can still do the hokeypokey with the students .

  Stock Exchange bosses lining their own pockets

MSNBC: Grasso arranged exit as 'termination'.

Former New York Stock Exchange head Richard Grasso structured his departure as a ”termination,” entitling him to $57.7 million for deferred pay and severance payments, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.


American Stock Exchange Chairman and CEO Salvatore Sodano will get a retirement package worth $22 million, said people familiar with the situation.

Sodano's 2002 pay was in the range of $3 million to $3.5 million. He also received a bonus of $2 million written into his 1999 contract. In 2001, he earned $2.3 million, according to a tax filing by the NASD.

Under Sodano's leadership, the Amex has continually lost market share. According to the Options Clearing Corp., in 2001 the Amex enjoyed 30.6 percent market share in equity options. In 2003, that number had fallen to 22.3 percent.

At least Dick Grasso enhanced the NYSE


That has fueled wild speculation on the NYSE trading floor, with some believing Britz and Kinney may have retirement packages modeled after Grasso's and worth $25 million to $40 million.

Britz and Kinney each took in $3 million in bonuses in 2002 and $2.3 million in 2001, documents released by the exchange disclosed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003
  CNet: AOL settles charges of unfair practices

They settle but don't admit any guily. In my eyes, they are guilty. Scumbags. Just stay away from AOL unless you want large sex chat rooms.

The FTC had accused AOL of failing to properly cancel all requests for service and continuing to bill some of its customers. The FTC also alleged that AOL's CompuServe subsidiary failed to deliver $400 rebate guarantees for some customers within the time promised by the company .

"The agreement between AOL and the FTC does not contain any statements of wrongdoing or liability by the company," according to a statement from AOL. "It is also worth noting that after reviewing the facts, the FTC decided not to impose any fines or monetary restitution."

The consent agreement will be available for public comment until Oct. 23, 2003, and then the commission will decide on whether to make it stick. The five FTC commissioners voted 5-0 in favor of releasing the agreement for public record.

  NY Times: California Moves to Ban Unsolicited E-Mail Spam

``We are saying that unsolicited e-mail cannot be sent and there are no loopholes,'' said Kevin Murray, the Democratic state senator from Los Angeles who sponsored the bill.

The law would fine spammers $1,000 for each unsolicited message sent up to $1 million for each campaign.

Monday, September 22, 2003
  NY Times: Call Centers Struggle in Face of Do-Not-Call Rules

The industry says some two million phone-solicitation jobs could be lost within months.

But federal regulators are skeptical. For one thing, more than two dozen states have set up do-not-call lists without significant effects on jobs, regulators say.

The rules also allow telemarketers to call numbers on the list if the customer and the telemarketer had a business relationship in the prior 18 months or if the customer contacted the telemarketer with an inquiry within the prior three months.

With the do-not-call list limiting the number of potential customers, Mr. Selfe said his telemarketers would have to call more frequently to those still open to solicitations. "Instead of calling every three months," he said, "we may call every month."

Tina Nagel, 42, a former dental assistant who has been telemarketing 10 years and earns around $18,500 annually, said she did not understand why Americans were so annoyed with people like her.

Besides, Mr. Snowden argued, the government is helping telemarketers by providing a list of people who do not want to be called and probably are bad sales prospects anyway. "We've created free market research for the telemarketing industry," he said. "Telemarketers can be more confident the people they reach will be willing listeners."

The F.C.C. and the Federal Trade Commission, the agency charged with overseeing the list, have also issued other telemarketing restrictions. One requires that a live representative be put on the line within two seconds after a person answers the phone. Another rule prohibits telemarketers from hanging up before 15 seconds or four rings on most calls.

  Globe and Mail: ReplayTV inventor aims at living rooms
An HDTV-ready multimedia player would certainly catch the attention of the tech-savvy early adopters.

After a year in secret development, Roku unveils its business and launches its first product Monday, the Roku HD1000.

It's the first digital media player to be designed for high-definition televisions, which are gaining in popularity as prices drop.

The HD1000 can play slideshows, video or music files from its four built-in memory card slots, or play files streamed from a computer via an Ethernet network connection.

With a price tag of $499 (U.S.), Roku is targeting the high-end consumer, those already spending $3,000 or more on an HDTV set.

The Roku HD1000 is based on an open Linux-based platform, which Mr. Wood hopes will encourage third-party developers to build applications for it. To start, Roku is also selling $69 memory cards filled with classic paintings, nature and aquarium images, turning the HDTV set into an art canvas.

Roku also seeks to license its software to other set-top box and television makers.

The company would break even by selling 10,000 units, but hopes to become profitable by selling at least 20,000 units within a year, Mr. Wood said.

  NY Times: New Sun Microsystems Chip May Unseat the Circuit Board
Rather than using wires to connect chips, Sun has come up with a way to use transistors to connect two chips together. If they can get the concept to scale up to the real world, then this could help turn the company around.
Friday, September 19, 2003
  Anandtech: Balanced Technology eXtended (BTX) Form Factor - The Future of Cases & Motherboards

Cooling the CPU and support for smaller form factors are the major revisions in the BTX form factor.

  TheRegister: Sun's Mad Hatter chosen for Telstra's Linux switch

A big gamble for the CIO. But I doubt they can cut their IT budget in half unless they outsource all their IT staff as well. Software licensing isn't the largest cost - support is. Maybe they're going to switch to managed desktops, etc.?

  Wired: Bidding your Job Bon Voyage

TechxNY, the technology tradeshow formerly known as PCExpo, has evolved -- or perhaps devolved -- from a showcase for cool new products to a rather bizarre human resources bazaar.

Representatives from Bulgaria, China, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Grenada, India, Romania, Russia and Nepal are front and center at the show, busily trying to convince North American companies to move chunks of their business offshore.

Outsourcing firms' booths make up roughly half of the 200 exhibitors at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center this week.

Companies in North America save money by paying low wages, in many cases with no unemployment or health insurance, to offshore employees who are ready, willing and -- they insist -- able to do everything from hiring, firing, accounting, software programming, computer security, graphics and multimedia, as well as the expected product-support services.

  King Country Journal: Doctor's twin draws suspicion - More say physician molested them; some think his brother played a part (09-19-2003)

Similar to Dead Ringers,

  MSNBC: NHL posts record financial losses

NHL teams posted record losses of nearly $300 million last season, according to figures distributed to owners this summer. That was an increase of 35 percent from the $218 million in operating losses incurred by the league last year.

THE LOSSES are blamed on soaring player salaries. Without a salary cap, the NHL spent 76 percent of $1.93 billion in revenue on players salaries and benefits. That is a greater percentage than in the NBA, NFL or major league baseball.

Thursday, September 18, 2003
  NY Times: The Price of 'Wow!' Keeps On Rising

THERE was a time when Kirk Henckels, director of private brokerage for the tony firm of Stribling & Associates, would refer to an apartment on the market for $10 million as ''a trophy property.'' No more.

''Now I just call it a $10 million property,'' Mr. Henckels remarked. The term trophy does not enter his vocabulary until the asking price hits $20 million.

''It used to be that you would walk into a $10 million property and it would be like seeing someone wearing a 25-carat engagement ring,'' said Michele Kleier, president of Gumley Haft Kleier. ''Now you look at something at $10 million and say, 'Where do I start gutting?' and 'How many more millions do I have to put in?' ''

  Yahoo: Docs' Cell Phones May Spread Hospital Infections

In 2002, Dr. Abraham Borer, of Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva, and others randomly screened 124 hospital personnel for the germ Acinetobacter baumannii, a common source of in-hospital infections.

They found that 12 percent of healthcare providers' cell phones were contaminated with the bug, the researchers reported here during the annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

The results are disturbing because Acinetobacter baumannii has the propensity to develop resistance to almost all available antibiotics. It is especially dangerous because it "can survive on dry surfaces for a long period of time," Borer told Reuters Health. How Ravenous Soviet Viruses Will Save the World

Unlike antibiotics, which attack bacteria indirectly by inhibiting cell wall synthesis, phages are cruise missiles that breach the wall and hijack the cell's reproductive machinery. So-called lytic phages reproduce like mad until the cell bursts, releasing hundreds of tiny clones. This reproductive capacity makes lytic phages ideal for human therapy. They're the only drug that, once in the bloodstream, replenishes itself until the infection is gone.

Phages have another important distinction: They come in innumerable variations, each targeting a specific kind of bacteria. A phage that attacks Salmonella ignores Staph aureus, and vice versa. That's both the beauty and the disadvantage of phages as therapeutic agents; unlike broad-spectrum antibiotics,which kill every bug in their path, viruses can wipe out pathogenic germs and "leave the good microflora alone," as Sulakvelidze puts it. On the other hand, phage-based drugs must be properly formulated to target the right bacteria.

Which is not to say they're completely unavailable at present. Phage-based drugs are sold over the counter in Eastern Europe, and word of their efficacy has spread among Western victims of resistant infections. Given the FDA's glacial approval process for new drugs, that's a recipe for a black-market trade. Sure enough, North American patients are showing up in Tbilisi, hoping for a miracle. It's only a matter of time before phages are available in places like Bangkok and Tijuana.

  National Post: RCMP failed Asian probe: board

RCMP backed off on investigating possible immigration fraud in Hong Kong because the Foreign Affairs Dept didn't want them to. From the circumstantial evidence in the article, something fishy seemed to be happening in Hong Kong. What's wrong with a few triad members in Canada? The immigration officials are letting in convicted terrorists and can't kick them out when they're discovered. Canada Imports Troubles With Refugees. But what's a few criminal immigrants when you've got decriminalized marijuana (watch out for the govt stuff which is crap evidently), a heroin injection clinic, gay marriages, etc. Canada has swung way to the left.

Just to reinforce Canada's liberal immigration policy, the Toronto Star has this article: Ottawa eases immigration rules

  CBC: Canadian gay couple barred from U.S.

  wxWindows: Borland C++BuilderX and wxWindows

Borland is using wxWindows to provide much of the cross-platform support in their C++ BuilderX product.

According to the wxWindows website, AOL also used wxWindows in their just-released Communicator product (not the old Netscape behemoth/kitchen sink called Communicator).

wxWindws has been called a heavy-weight framework. Think cross-platform MFC. Arkansas Rulings May Hurt Reputation of Pricewaterhouse
PwC is getting slammed in the PR ring. First a company takes them to court for overbilling them on travel-related expenses. Now the judge in the case is essentially calling them a liar and fining them $50K.

  BusinessWeek: Things That Go Beep In the Night

Like many smart devices, my phone has an alarm to tell me when the battery is low. I suspect this drains a lot of the remaining energy from the battery in order to fulfill its prophecy more quickly, but normally I might consider it a useful feature. Right now, however, at 2am, I've discovered that the usability engineers at Motorola designed this feature not as an alert, but as a behavior-modification tool. Make the punishment for forgetting to plug in the phone painful enough, and I won't do it again.

If I could just get up and turn it off I could do so half asleep and drift back into my dreams. And I wouldn't be writing this column. But the Motorola alarm only rings once every 4 minutes, and I have no idea where the phone is hiding.

  NY Times: Chairman Quits Stock Exchange in Furor Over Pay
Wow. I thought this would have gone on for a few more months.
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
  National Post: Copps aide racks up $30,000 on meals

In two years as executive assistant to Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, Mr. Boyer dined 65 times at Gatineau's posh Le Pied de Cochon, a male power meeting place where he spent $7,521 of taxpayers' money on hospitality.

  Toronto Star: Caffeine, Sudafed removed from doping list

  MSNBC: ABC to write John Ritter's death into future episodes

ABC is going to show the three already-filmed episodes with John Ritter, then they're going to retool the show with the post-John Ritter plot line.

Ritter's series, which premiered last year with solid ratings, was considered a key part of ABC's comeback effort and anchored its Tuesday night lineup of family comedies.

Ritter's widow, actress Amy Yasbeck, and the series' cast and producers supported the decision to keep going, Braun said. An ABC News tribute to Ritter was to air Tuesday night.

John Ritter's daughter's birthday is the same day that John Ritter died (Sept 11). His wife's birthday was on the following day.

  CTV: Ottawa approved sub-par pot, patients say

Three of the 10 people approved to use government marijuana for medical purposes say the drug is no good -- and they want their money back.

Both Dalley and Wakeford are returning their 30-gram bags. Dalley is demanding his money back -- $150 plus taxes.

No patients have complained directly to Health Canada so far, Apse said, and the department will not accept returns or provide refunds.

  Globe and Mail: Sex, drugs and potholes of good intentions

Liberalizing marriage, drugs, and sex. Vancouver is leaning so far to the left, they're going to fall into the water.

They knew exactly what they were doing -- sort of. They knew that body-rub parlours and escort services are often just fronts for the sex trade, and they wanted to make it easier and safer for prostitutes to come in from the cold. However, they seemed oblivious to the Criminal Code, which makes operating a common bawdy house a criminal offense, not to mention the impact on enforcement, licensing, and the neighbours.

The hasty backpedalling and rearguard speechifying did nothing to stifle the ridicule from the opposition, the police, building owners, and residents, not to mention the local media, which has worked itself into a fine frenzy.

Frankly, I am surprised anyone noticed. Yesterday, Canada's first official heroin-injection site opened for business. What appears to be a permanent tent city has sprung up on False Creek, advertising rent-free, prime waterfront for the "homeless." City Hall just looks the other way. City Hall, in fact, is falling all over itself to wrap the disenfranchised in such a big, warm hug that it is hard for the rest of us to keep up.

  Globe and Mail: Lucky hockey fans score tickets in lottery
Wow. Playing hockey on an open air hockey rink. Definitely old school.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
  PCWeek: Exploit Code Arises for Latest Windows Flaws

  CNN: Residents flee storm (while showing off their terrible spelling skills)

I just hate it when people mix up "your" and "you're" or "their" and "they're". Arghhhh.

Monday, September 15, 2003
  NY Times: U.S. Open Secret: Where Does the Cash Go?
Looks like an old boys club that doesn't want to tell the public what it does with the money it receives. Some execs are getting private industry-sized salaries.
  ZDNet: A day in the life of a Microsoft security patch

For the most high profile of these --- called 03-026 within the company, but known to the rest of us as the patch for MSBlaster --- it took Microsoft only 17 days to turn the discovery of a vulnerability into a patch for it that was available through a variety of online channels.

Given how patching a vulnerability can be a race against the clock, I was surprised to learn that the inbox corresponding to is not monitored 24/7. You'd think Microsoft would be mobilizing personnel the minute a legitimate report of a vulnerability came through any channel--if only to make the Trustworthy Computing Initiative look good.

"With Internet Explorer, for example," Toulouse said, "we're concurrently supporting five operating systems and 25 languages. That equates to 125 different patches that must be written and tested." And Microsoft has to release all those patches at the same time.

For example, in the case of 03-026, Microsoft estimates that it devoted more than 1,150 person hours across 17 days to release the patch. Of those hours, more than 1,000 were spent on testing.

"We continue the investigation internally to learn from the vulnerability, and to determine how we can better improve our engineering practices, and we monitor PSS very closely to keep tabs on any deployment problems with the patch."

  SFF, aka Cubes, v2

Shuttle popularized small-form factor cases, I call them cubes, small cube-sized computer cases. The first generation were more like computer cases than consumer devices.

Now there's been a slow trickle of cubes which look more at home in the 'media room' than on your computer desk.

Asus: Xbit Labs: ASUS Officiailly Unveils DiGiMatrix Barebone

ABIT: Xbit Labs: ABIT Announces DigiDice Barebone

Both of these devices are much more stylish than the Shuttle cubes.

Here's a link to more reviews of SFF cases:

  National Post: Beef Jerky. A healthy snack food?

  MSNBC: When a TV show loses an actor

A look at other TV shows that have lost actors and how the shows reacted to the loss.

Eight is Enough and Chico and the Man are the two series that most resemble the situation that 8 Simple Rules finds itself in.

But the writer doesn't mention one of my examples: the show Valerie changed to The Hogan family after Valerie Harper left the show. Probably because Ms. Harper didn't die, she just left the show

  National Post: Krispy Kreme goes downtown

Next month, the chain's Canadian operator, KremeKo, plans to open two shops in Toronto's financial district, complete with the same retro look and products, such as coffee and memorabilia, available at Krispy Kreme's more familiar factory outlets.

However the new locations won't feature a drive-in or the sight of freshly made doughnuts rolling off glassed-in production lines. Rather, they're being delivered from a factory store in Toronto's suburbs each morning, with more deliveries throughout the day if needed.

Pricey real estate means the walk-in locations -- at BCE Place and the Richmond-Adelaide Centre -- are slated to be only 400 and 1,000 square feet, far smaller than suburban locations topping 4,500 sq. ft.

I wonder if they'll give out freebies to those waiting in line???

  NY Times: Hollywood Faces Online Piracy, but It Looks Like an Inside Job

According to a new study published by AT&T Labs, the prime source of unauthorized copies of new movies on file-sharing networks appears to be movie industry insiders, not consumers. The study is "the first publicly available assessment of the source of leaks of popular movies," according to its authors.

Nearly 80 percent of some 300 copies of popular movies found by the researchers on online file sharing networks "appeared to have been leaked by industry insiders," and nearly all showed up online before their official consumer DVD release date, suggesting that consumer DVD copying represents a relatively minor factor compared with insider leaks.

"Our conclusion is that the distributors really need to take a hard look at their own internal processes and look at how they can stop the insider leaks of their movies" before taking measures that might hamstring consumers' technologies and rights, said Lorrie Cranor, a researcher at AT&T Labs and lead author of the study.

  Slashdot: Dave Barry Strikes Back Against Telemarketers

Here's the original Dave Barry article at the Miami Herald: Dave Barry: Ask not what telemarketers can do to you.

The telemarketing association seems to have disconnected the toll-free number listed in Mr. Barry's article. But the slashdot article has some other toll-free numbers where you can reach them. Microsoft blow as Ford signs up for Linux

This is a big blow for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. His father was a Ford executive. I'm sure MS's CEO put in some time to keep this account.

I'm sure that the Ford execs who made this decision aren't using computers 24 x 7 if at all. And the execs will be able to keep their expensive laptops running Windows XP.

Look at the release notes for Gnome 2.4. They are still playing catch up with Windows and Mac OS X. And that's for the most visible stuff. Gnome and KDE still lack the fit-and-finish of Windows XP and Mac OS X.

Friday, September 12, 2003
  Slashdot: No Americans need apply
Article points to an article from No Americans Need Apply and from Computerworld: Hidden malware in offshore products raises concerns

An article from Leaping, Then Looking

  Wired: Till death do us part
An article explaining what went wrong in the operation to separate the conjoined adult Iranian female twins. Essentially, the model they built of the twins brain structure including all the blood vessels via CT scans, MRIs, etc. missed an important blood vessel. They weren't prepared for it and all their attempts to fix the problem failed.
  Wired: Military Racing to Fix Radio Mess

  MSNBC: Actor John Ritter dead at 54

He died just days before his 55th birthday. One of the best comedians in the 70s.

His co-workers on "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" will also have to deal with the loss of a job probably. Trying to find a replacement actor or story line to handle the loss of the main character doesn't work often.

The only one I can think of at the moment is Valerie Harper's sitcom from the late 80s, which was renamed to "The Hogan Family" or something like that after the execs fired Ms. Harper.

NewsRadio didn't fare so well after Phil Hartman died. Jon Lovitz's character along with the numerous schedule and personnel changes killed the show. It was a riot for a couple of years.

Also Johnny Cash passed away at 71.

Thursday, September 11, 2003
  CNet: India's new outsourcing rival--Romania?

The report, Offshore Romania 2003, claims that not only is the cost of using and providing IT services in Romania much cheaper than in India, but the country is also home to an abundance of well-educated and highly skilled workers who have a better understanding of Western European culture than their Asian counterparts.

The report reveals that the midrange price for offshore software development in Romania is about $160 (100 pounds) per person, per day, and that the cost of employing a recently qualified graduate from an approved specialist university is approximately $6,500 a year. Experienced project managers can also be recruited for between $21,500 and $32,000 a year.

  Reuters: Music Firms, DJ Offer to Pay 12-Year-Old's Fine
Nice example these people are setting. Why (some) anti-virus companies are to blame for the recent e-mail flood

It's pretty amazing how stupid/shortsighted the anti-virus developers were.

I can see that these developers didn't think about how bad it would be if there were thousands of infected emails sent to an account.

But these developers must have known about forged emails. Much of the anti-virus software for email must have been written in the past three years. If these developers can't parse an email to figure out that an email has been forged, something that is VERY EASY to do, how reliable are there virus detection methods?

  Season premiere of Enterprise

Well, the creators of Enterprise said they were going to jazz up the storylines.

Looks like they ripped off the storyline from Star Blazers. An unknown planet sends something to destroy the Earth, so Earth leaders send a ship to stop the unknown planet. Thing is, the Star Blazers song is WAAAAY better than that Dianne Warren tune.

They say that they were going to jazz up the storyline, including a romantic relationship with the female Vulcan and a male crew member, but it wasn't going to be the Enterprise Captain, even though all the episodes of Season 2 were hinting at just such a thing.

So what do we get? A plot worthy of a soap opera. Lots of movement but no real advancement of the plot. The female Vulcan does remove her top (and the Asian female keeps hers on for once). We get a look into some council of probable Xindi inhabitants. And there seems to be a scene from Star Wars Part IV, where the Enterprise is heading for a planet, only to find no nearby planet. But they do find the remains of a planet. But according to their sensors, the planet was destroyed 120 yrs ago. But the Xindi person that gave them the location of the Xindi homeworld before he died didn't look that old. So either he's over 120 yrs old and he's been away for at least that long, or he sent them to the wrong place.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003
  National Post: Parents shell out $19,000 for kindergarten at Upper Canada College
Geez. C$19K!!! University tuition in Canada costs about 25% of the price to send a kid to senior kindergarten at UCC.
Other than making connections with kids/families who may turn out to be powerful, I doubt that the education the kid is getting is that much better than sending the kid to a decent school.

The school looks for boys it deems suitable for an education at the exclusive school that has produced many of the country's executives, doctors and lawyers. "We are looking for readiness. We look at their background -- where they are coming from," said Chantal Kenny, an admissions officer.

Admission standards are high. The school asks for any informal report cards from junior kindergarten and brings children in for an evaluation to assess their social and emotional development. Staff look for whether the boys have leadership skills and an ability to respect others, follow a daily routine and share with other children. They study their reading, mathematics and speech development -- whether they can print numbers, understand addition and subtraction concepts, write their name and identify upper and lower case letters.

  CNet: P2P group: We'll pay girl's RIAA bill
Nice bit of spotlight grabbing by a group of companies that still haven't found a decent legal business model.

"We do not condone copyright infringement, but someone has to draw the line to call attention to a system that permits multinational corporations with phenomenal financial and political resources to strong-arm 12-year-olds and their families in public housing the way this sorry episode dramatizes," Adam Eisgrau, the executive director of P2P United, said.

Eisgrau said P2P United had no plans to pay other file-swappers' legal fees.

  Interesting open jobs at MS in Sept 2003

Besides lotsa jobs for MSN Search and the CRM product group, here's a summary of some interesting new positions at MS:

Job Title: Software Development Engineer
Job Category: Software Development
Job Code: 102001 

Are you a "Next Generation" SDE looking for the latest and greatest challenge? Do you want to be part of new Greenhouse effort at Microsoft - which aims to provide Microsoft entrepreneurs and new ideas with all the advantages of a tiny startup within Microsoft? You can be part of history when the next state of the art video conferencing platform is created in the first Incubation startup at Microsoft. The Distributed Meetings group is currently focused on bringing some of the most mature technologies from Microsoft Research to real-world products. We are seeking highly-motivated SDEs to build a high quality next generation video conferencing system. State-of-the-art technology will be used in the system, including: 360 degree panorama views, person tracking through computer vision, best of breed AECs, audio beam forming using camera and microphone arrays, time compression of audio and video, automatic and synchronized capture of audio/video/whiteboard/screen data during a meeting, virtual directors for scene/content selection, and many others. Our team is new, hungry and ready to change the nature of meetings and conference rooms forever. If you enjoy participating in the design of the general architecture for the v1 system and developing C++/C# implementations and assembly/DSP modules for these technologies, than this is for you! You should have at least 3-5 years experience in software design, demonstrated coding and software architecting abilities in a Windows environment, excellent mathematical, analytical, and problem solving skills, as well as good communication skills. Ability to interface code components to existing APIs, including modules developed by other groups like Microsoft Research, is required. Since teamwork is critical to our success, you should have great communication and teaming skills and be able to work in a high performance team with minimal supervision. A BS or MS in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, related field, or equivalent experience, is also required. Experience with networking protocols (TCP/IP, UDP) and RTC/Telephony protocols (SIP, RTP, H.323, T.120) are important differentiators and a plus for candidates with this experience. Experience with DirectX, codec programming and developing modules for media signal analysis, and strong statistical background are also strongly desired. 

Job Title: Software Development Engineer
Job Category: Software Development 
Job Code: 101911 

We are looking for top notch talent to make significant changes to the status quo. You will be joining the development team responsible for driving high-impact performance changes into the design and implementation of the next generation of the Windows operating system. As a core component of the Windows product, your work will have an enormous impact on 100's of millions of end users. Moreover, your work will range widely across the system and will place you at the forefront of technological advancements. This is a high visibility project that will require the best talent available. We are looking for experienced engineers to help us take Windows performance, analysis, diagnosis and instrumentation to the next level by helping implement a new methodology for the PC industry. You will be exposed to a wide variety of products, both new and follow-on versions, and will work within the timeframes and requirements of multiple product teams. You should posses a strong technical background, and good grasp of software engineering principles, exceptional problem solving skills, a high degree of creativity, and a minimum of 4 years experience in both designing and implementing solid components. Qualified candidates should have strong programming skills in C/C++ , knowledge of Microsoft operating system technology, and good interpersonal communication skills. Direct experience with major Windows PC subsystems is very desirable. Previous work in performance analysis is extremely valuable and will be weighted accordingly. An MSCS, MSEE, MS in Mathematics or a BS with direct work experience is required. This position is located in Redmond, WA. 

Job Title: Software Development Engineer
Job Category: Software Development 
Job Code: 101867 

We are looking for a Software Development Engineer with a great shipping track record, and that has a passion for building cool new solutions that solve real world customer problems. If that sounds like you, then we would love for you to join us in the office of the CTO. The right candidate will be joining a top notch development team. The V1 product is focusing on building a distributed order management solution, the first application/solution in a new category of enterprise process management applications. There are a lot of hard problems that the team is in the process of solving around directed workflow, correlation, and communication. There will be an emphasis on a breadth of technologies that you will deal with, therefore we are looking for candidates with a good understanding of platform technologies especially C#, .Net Framework, Data Access, SQL/Analysis Server, XML, COM+, Win32. Strong communication skills are a must. Having experience either in a startup or a V1 product is also desirable. Please follow up with the group contact for more information. 

Job Title: Software Development Engineer
Job Category: Software Development 
Job Code: 101670 

Do you want to make a real difference in the way people use software in the home? Are you into music, video or digital photography? Are you excited about the potential for computers to further change the way we communicate with family and friends, and share life experiences? Do you love gadgets? Toys? Games? We’re a new product group in the Home Products division that is focused on creating great consumer software. We are in the planning stages of a new Version 1 rich-media related product so now is an excellent time to come join us and make your mark in this exciting area. You should have excellent technical skills and a minimum of 4 years in C++ or C# development. Demonstrated experience working through the full product cycle from initial design to final product delivery is required. Excellent communication skills, as well as the ability to work well with your PM and QA counterparts and other teams is required. You should be ready to work in a fast-paced environment in which everyone takes ownership of the end-to-end solution, and possess a strong desire to deliver an awesome user experience with multi-media technologies such as graphics, audio, and video. Most importantly, we need someone with passion for creating stunningly good consumer software-for changing the way people use software in the home. Microsoft has been building software that changes the way people work for decades. Come help us change the way people live!

Job Title: Software Development Engineer Lead
Job Category: Software Development 
Job Code: 101544 

Video & Audio when you want it, where you want it! Deliver the next "big thing" in mobile multimedia. Join the Crystal team in defining and developing the future of media that you can take with you. We need a lead that can nimbly traverse many diverse technologies from Web Services, Web security, Desktop UI, Multimedia playback, Multimedia management, Device connection interface, Device playback and Digital Rights Management. We need a lead that can manage 3-4 developers developing these technologies, responsibilities include: design, development, security review, scheduling of development team members and reporting development status. Strong communications skills cross team working relationships are a must. The successful candidate will have at least 4 years of experience developing code in the Microsoft Ship cycle with at least 2 products developed. At least 2 years experience managing developers is required. Knowledge of a significant number of technologies: C#, .NET Framework, COM, XML, Windows Media, Windows CE, 802.11, Networking standards, Web Services and a willingness to learn new technologies is highly desired. A BS or MS degree in Computer Science is preferred 

Job Title: Software Development Engineer
Job Category: Software Development
Product: Windows - Security Business Unit
Job Code: 101492 

The Windows Auditing team is looking for someone who wants to solve real-world security problems. Windows Auditing is used to track user actions on individual computers and in large networks for intrusion detection and criminal activity from both inside and outside of the network. Reliable auditing is the mainstay of any modern secure operating system and the Windows team is dedicated to providing the best auditing and reporting services of any product in the industry. Responsibilities will include design work to solve customer problems, customer contact, coding, debugging, and working with other groups within Microsoft to help create a great company-wide auditing story. Preferred skills include C and C++ programming, Intel assembly language debugging skills, and a cursory knowledge of the Win32 API set. 
Job Title: Software Development Engineer
Job Category: Software Development
Product: Windows Media Technologies
Job Code: 101333 

Do you want to shape the vision and architecture of a version 1.0 Microsoft product? The Windows Media Foundation Technology group is building the next generation multimedia platform for Windows from scratch. We are making bold bets on enabling many scenarios previously not possible on a PC. Our work involves a mixture of multimedia quality, security (content protection), and performance guarantees. We are looking for a highly motivated, careful developer to help in designing and implementing this platform. Responsibilities include design, implementation and delivering multimedia components. Additional responsibilities include working with other groups and external companies. The individual must possess a solid software development background, experience in developing public SDKs and extensive experience in C++, COM, Win32, and multi-threaded development. Preferred qualifications include knowledge of digital multimedia, security, and experience with performance tuning and debugging with ntsd/kd. A BS/MS in computer science or related field or equivalent experience is required. 

Job Title: Software Development Engineer
Job Category: Software Development 
Job Code: 100757

Developer, Wireless Incubation -- There is no debate that wireless networking is the ‘next big thing’ in networking. What isn’t as clear is what the next generation of wireless technology will enable, and how both corporate and home might benefit. We are looking for a seasoned Senior Developer who wants to help define and prototype home-based applications for the next generation of wireless technology for consumers, the self-organizing wireless mesh network. In this position, this individual will be required to work with the technology created in Microsoft Research to prototype applications and solutions for a trial neighborhood mesh network. This individual will be faced with a steep learning curve in order to refine the technology for mesh networking and to define and implement a working demonstration system in the real world that clearly defines and models the value of mesh networking in the neighborhood and in the home. The position will report directly to the Director of the group and will span the work in several development organizations including Microsoft Research. The job requires excellent programming and prototyping skills, broad technical knowledge and experience in developing networking technologies and networking applications, and the ability to work well with internal and external partners. This job will appeal to a self-driven individual who has a strong drive for results and the ability to work in more of a startup mode than is typical at Microsoft. The ability to understand the work of a number of small teams and reflect this work back into actionable products and solutions for the incubation team is a must. QUALIFICATIONS: Candidate must have a proven track record in developing network-based solutions, experience with prototyping or startup type environments and must be very self-driven. They must have a clear passion for innovation and working in highly creative environments where the outcome is not necessarily clearly defined. Experience in working in a small group is extremely desirable.

  CNN: Students angry over music piracy suits

Man, if these kids didn't know about the illegality of swapping music files, they've had their earphones on too long. I guess these aren't pre-law students complaining up the wazoo.

"This is insane, they can't just hack into our systems and track our activities. It's our property," said Lucy Chen, a sociology student who thinks downloading free music is fair because compact discs are overpriced.

Ms. Chen cracks me up. Ha ha ha. Microsoft Security Bulletin MS03-039 - Buffer Overrun In RPCSS Service Could Allow Code Execution (824146)
A couple of more Buffer overruns and a DoS in the RPCSS. I wonder where the developers of that codebase are now??? This patch supercedes MS03-026, the previous patch for RPC, which the Blaster worm used to propagate itself.
  Sobig.F runs out of gas
Sobig.F's built-in expiration date has come. Now my email account can get used to good old crappy spam from lame people selling lame products.
  Meg Ryan out there... for long periods of time
Globe and Mail: Johanna Schneller column on the TIFF. It seems Meg Ryan's first major nude scenes in a movie are making a lot of buzz on the Net. It is a Jane Campion movie (see The Piano) so I'd prefer seeing Meg Ryan's butt than Harvey Keitel's butt.

In In the Cut, Meg Ryan takes her shirt off for the first time in her career, then proceeds to keep it off for long stretches. 21 Grams opens with a shot of Naomi Watts topless. Not only does she continue in that state for entire scenes, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu frequently shoots such tight close-ups that her breasts completely fill the screen.

In Alexandra's Project, the title character (Australian actress Helen Buday) sits bare-breasted for long stretches in front of a video camera while she makes a tape condemning her husband, Steve. And in Young Adam, I'm not sure Emily Mortimer ever had her shirt on; the entire movie for me is a blur of energetic sex on uncomfortable surfaces under dripping drainpipes, anywhere but on a bed.


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