Thursday, February 26, 2004
  NYTimes: What's Next: Piercing the Fog With a Tiny Chip

The intricate parallel circuitry is designed so that the eight antennas can work together to focus and steer a beam of microwaves. Although the circuit design is highly complex, the silicon chip can be made in bulk using inexpensive lithographic methods, said Ali Hajimiri, an associate professor of electrical engineering who leads the group on high-speed integrated circuits that created the chip.

"It should cost no more than a few dollars," he said.

The high-frequency beams that the system generates and receives may one day handle many functions, including the usual radar jobs of ranging and location. In cars, for example, the chip might be used to detect other vehicles looming in the fog.

The chip may also be used for wireless communications, since it has a broad bandwidth or range of frequencies at which it communicates. And it produces a bit stream at roughly the rate of fiber optics, more than enough for quick downloads of movies and other digital data.

"D.S.L. can go to several hundred kilobits, and fiber can go to several gigabits per second," Dr. Hajimiri said. The radar chip can achieve bit rates up to a gigabit per second, partly because of the concentrated nature of the beam, he said. "The beam created by the chip is highly focused," he said.

The radar chip runs at 24 gigahertz, or 24 billion cycles per second. Recently the Federal Communications Commission approved the use of the microwave spectrum between 22 and 29 gigahertz for radar systems in vehicles. These systems create a continuously updated 360-degree map of the vehicle's surroundings to detect the location and movement of nearby objects. With this system, a deer standing in the fog near the roadside or a child playing behind a car in a driveway might be displayed on a dashboard monitor.

  EE Times - Rover retread: How earlier fix broke Spirit

Architecturally, the Spirit rover is not a complex machine. A radiation-hardened R6000 CPU from Lockheed-Martin Federal Systems forms the heart of the system. The processor accesses 120 Mbytes of RAM and 256 Mbytes of flash. Mounted in a 6U VME chassis, the processor board also has access to custom cards that interface to systems on the rover. The operating system is Wind River Systems' Vx-Works version 5.3.1, used with its flash file system extension. In operation, the real-time OS and all other executable code are RAM-resident.

The flash memory stores executable images that are loaded into RAM at system boot. Separately, about 230 Mbytes are used to implement a flash file system that stores "data products," or data files that are created by the rover's subsystems and held for transmission to Earth. Among the data products are the images created by the rover's cameras.

  The Globe and Mail: Nigeria's neighbours guard against spreading polio

I wonder what these people were drinking when they came up with this conspiracy theory?

Three predominantly Islamic states in Nigeria's north have banned door-to-door polio immunization since October, calling it a U.S. plot to spread AIDS or infertility among Muslims.

The World Health Organization says the ban has helped spread polio back into seven African countries where it had been eradicated, and threatens global efforts to wipe out the crippling disease entirely by 2005.

Polio cases fell from 350,000 annually in 1988 to fewer than 1,000 last year.

  PBS: frontline: tax me if you can

Wednesday, February 25, 2004 X Marks the Spot: Looking back at X11 Developments of Past Year

Closed-source development has similar problems, but when there are problems with a dev team, there's a mgr somewhere that can force a brak in the impasse. Open source development tends to be more drawn out and public.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004
  Mercury News | 02/10/2004 | Heart attack cause of Goldman's death

Phil Goldman, a co-founder of WebTV who died suddenly at his Los Altos Hills home in December, was killed by a heart attack, the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office said Monday.

Goldman suffered from heart disease, and his death was due to natural causes, spokeswoman Rosie Dominguez said. - In ad, Tiger yuks it up in 'Caddyshack' role

  PCWeek: Security Tools Due for Microsoft's 'Whidbey' Visual Studio

Wow, PREfix and PREfast going into Whidbey. I'd expected PREfast to be commercialized, but PREfix is the top of the heap.

Sunday, February 22, 2004
  EETimes: The trouble with Rover is revealed

Friday, February 20, 2004
  PBS | I, Cringely . Archived Column

Another crackpot Cringely posting. He knows just enough to be dangerous but not enough to know that he's blowing a lot of smoke.

That’s one reason why we are always hearing more, not fewer, stories about Microsoft security problems. And that’s why Microsoft security updates are now at least a monthly event. Left unchecked, it will only get worse.

Cringely tries to argue that because .Net apps are interpreted byte-code, one can reverse-engineer the byte-code to the original source code, hence nearly every new MS app and even the OS is vulnerable to security problems.

Cringely is wrong. Who in the world fact-checks his articles? They should be fired or maybe hired as a Software Patent Examiner.

None of the recent panics about MS software exploits was due to .Net problems. You can count on one hand the number of .Net exploits developed and none of them have come close to spreading as much as the Blaster worm or the Anna Kournikova email virus.

The number one security problem for MS (and most other) software is the buffer overflow. Typical C/C++ code doesn't provide enough safeguards against this bug. And most programmers are too lazy or haven't been taught to guard against it. .Net is supposed to prevent most buffer overflows, unless the underlying Framework has a buffer overflow or there's a missing range check in the code.

So if the buffer overflow is gone in .Net code, then it gets harder for the black hat hacker to find a hole. Windows doesn't seem to be as vulnerable to file-creation/access race conditions as Unix, but error handling code is where one could find holes.

I doubt many people step through their error handling code.

  Slashdot | Internet Job Boards a Bunch of Hype?

This Slashdot article points to Job-Board Journalism: Selling out the American job hunter which talks about how few people actually get hired via job-board referrals. The main way employers hire is still by referrals.

  PCWeek: Serious Linux Security Holes Uncovered and Patched

You'd need shell access to exploit these holes tho.

  PCWeek: BEA's Bosworth: The World Needs Simpler Java

  LWN: Weekly Edition for February 12, 2004 - A grumpy user's browser review

The browser [Galeon] grows without limit; it usually has to be killed and restarted around when it hits 200MB or the entire system slows to a crawl.

The browser's [Firefox] process size appeared to stabilize at "only" 98MB; huge by any rational standards, but Galeon has a hard time putting up its splash screen with that much space.

Epiphany grew to over 100MB during a day of testing, and appeared to be set to continue to inflate. It bloats far more slowly than Galeon, however.

Perhaps the most striking realization from this whole exercise, however, is just how similar these three browsers are. The fact that they all use the Gecko rendering engine will certainly create a degree of uniformity, but the resemblance goes beyond that. Your editor often had to look carefully to see which browser was in use at any given time. To a great extent, they can be substituted for each other; the differences between them come down to little nits and pet peeves.

One might well wonder why three groups of people are working so hard to build complex applications which resemble each other so strongly. If we are going to have multiple Gecko-based browsers, it would make some sense for them to differentiate themselves somehow.

Thursday, February 19, 2004
  Flexbeta - An MS Office Alternative: 1.1.1b Reviewed - Page 1

Hmm. Let's see, the reviewer says OpenOffice is slower than Word and the beta version had several freezes/crashes in the spreadsheet and presentation modules. The reviewer discounts the crashes because the code was beta but unless the OpenOffice team has a different definition of beta than MS, one should not be seeing these types of bugs in a beta unless they are hardware-related. The review seems to put cost over reliability and lost time. Geez, how much crap are you willing to put up with?

  NY Times: Roots of Pakistan Atomic Scandal Traced to Europe

All in the name of money...

"The problem began with the 1970 Treaty of Almelo, under which Britain, Germany and the Netherlands agreed to develop centrifuges to enrich uranium jointly, ensuring their nuclear power industry a fuel source independent of the United States. Urenco, or the Uranium Enrichment Company, was established the next year with its primary enrichment plant at Almelo, the Netherlands.

Security at Urenco was by most accounts slipshod. The consortium relied on a network of research centers and subcontractors to build its centrifuges, and top-secret blueprints were passed out to companies bidding on tenders, giving engineers across Europe an opportunity to appropriate designs."

But there were clues that the technology had spread even further: a German intelligence investigation determined that Iraq and possibly Iran and North Korea had obtained uranium-melting expertise stolen from Urenco in 1984, Mr. Hibbs reported in Nucleonics Week several years later.

In 1989, two engineers, Bruno Stemmler and Karl Heinz Schaab, who had worked for Germany's MAN New Technology, another Urenco subcontractor, sold plans for advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges to Iraq. They went to Baghdad to help solve problems in making the equipment work.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004
  CNet: AOL puts heat on alleged Sunshine State spammers | CNET

AOL has gotten a lot more aggressive in the past 6-9 months regarding improving the AOL user experience.

  PCWeek: Microsoft to Hackers: Drop That Code!

Trying to close the barn door after the hackers have opened it.

  ExtremeTech: Preview: ATI HDTV Wonder

  MSNBC - Conan O'Brien issues 'apology' to Quebec

Geez, Quebecers have thin skin. Those geeks lining up for the Star Wars movie got a worse treatment from the puppet dog. I still laugh myself silly when watching that segment. Hmm, how many Quebec comedians are there???

  Sheller Ludwig & Badey: IBM 75GXP: IBM 75GXP Press Page

From a link at Tech Report. Here's a page about the class action lawsuit against IBM due to their supposed faulty 75GXP drives. The Maximum PC February 2004 excerpt seems to show that IBM execs knew about the problem.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004
  Grand challenger profiles

Two articles about the Grand Challenge:

From SFGate: Robots, start your engines: It's a mad, mad, mad race / Driverless cars to be tested in the Mojave

From Popular Science: Clash of the headless Humvees

Friday, February 13, 2004 - Clarkson trip tab tops $5.3 million

A three-country northern tour by Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson and 59 "prominent" Canadians last fall racked up a $5.3 million tab, not the estimated $1 million some observers had projected, government documents show.

  H.R. Pufnstuf to DVD - DVD Town

Brings back memories...Gee. There were only 17 episodes???

  PC Week: PalmSource Drops Mac Desktop Support

More Mac marginalization

  PC Week: Windows Source Leak Traces Back to Mainsoft

The leaked code includes 30,915 files and was apparently removed from a Linux computer used by Mainsoft for development purposes. Dated July 25, 2000, the source code represents Windows 2000 Service Pack 1.

Analysis indicates files within the leaked archive are only a subset of the Windows source code, which was licensed to Mainsoft for use in the company's MainWin product. MainWin utilizes the source to create native Unix versions of Windows applications.

Clues to the source code's origin lie in a "core dump" file, which is left by the Linux operating system to record the memory a program is using when it crashes. Further investigation by BetaNews revealed the machine was likely used by Mainsoft's Director of Technology, Eyal Alaluf.

  The Seattle Times: Local News: Rescued Ellensburg skier to have his lower legs amputated

Wednesday, February 11, 2004
  MSNBC - GAO: DOD paying billions to tax cheats - Sports Illustrated - 2004 Swimsuit Edition

Tuesday, February 10, 2004
  CNet: Microsoft warns of widespread Windows flaw

I want the dev responsible for this to pay. I believe other OSes had a similar problem.

Thursday, February 05, 2004
  Slate: Avert Your Eyes! - High-definition porn has arrived. That's bad news for HDTV.

What happens when the visual quality gets so good that you can see every imperfection on a person? Now what if they were naked???

  NY Times: Geeks Put Shiftless on Notice: Learn or Log Off

I've definitely had that feeling, but I think that it's partly a technical problem.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004 - Labatt apologizes for provocative Super Bowl ad

The commercial is tame in comparison to the half-time show. If people thought that the women were lesbians, then they didn't see the whole commercial. Ignoramuses...

  PC Week: Borland Brain Drain Continues

According to sources and documents Borland filed with the federal government, the Scotts Valley, Calif., company will say goodbye to Blake Stone, the company's chief technology officer as of Feb. 6. Stone is said to be headed to Microsoft Corp. to pursue "an offer he could not refuse," a source said.

Meanwhile, Chuck Jazdzewski, formerly chief scientist and architect of Borland's Delphi technology, left the company last month and is also said to be headed to Microsoft. Sources said Jazdzewski will be joining Microsoft's Avalon team. Avalon is the presentation layer of the company's upcoming Longhorn operating system, which is expected in 2005 or 2006.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004 Q1 2004 in review

  NY Times: Xerox Enjoys a Comeback

Xerox's color printers - an area that is the company's forte - already are selling well. That is particularly important in that profits from consumables like inks and paper are five times higher from color printers than from black and white.

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