Sunday, February 28, 2010

Atom smasher restarts to prepare for new science

Atom smasher restarts to prepare for new science
By Alexander G. Higgins, Associated Press Writer – Sun Feb 28, 12:58 pm ET

GENEVA – "Operators of the world's largest atom smasher restarted their massive machine Sunday in a run up to experiments probing secrets of the universe, a spokeswoman said."

I am so excited about the LHC. Just the idea that it could possibly find the "God Particle" is fasinating. I doubt it will be found, if it even exists, in my lifetime but my son and his family might be here for it. But then, I never thought that The Wall would come down in my lifetime so you never know.
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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sad news from the entertainment world

Andrew Koenig, 41, son of Walter "Chekov" Koenig and former star on the show Growing Pains, was found dead by police in Vancouver on the 25th. He had been missing since the 14th. More information can be found on E! Online and TMZ.


"Marie Osmond's son, Michael Blosil, 18, took his own life Friday night after leaping to his death from his Los Angeles apartment, E! News confirms."
Read more:

It seems both of them had long battled with depression. There is a footnote on the E! article I'd like to share -

If you or someone you know suffers from depression, help is available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24-hours a day at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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Chile struck by one of strongest earthquakes ever

The quake that hit Haiti was 7.0 and the Indian Ocean tsunami in '04 was a 9.1 quake. To put this in some kind of scale, a 7.0 quake is equivalent to 32 million tons of TNT. An 8.5 is 5 billion tons and 9.0 is 32 billion tons. The Richter scale goes by orders of magnitude which makes the difference between a 7.0 and 8.0 hundreds of times stronger.

At this point all we can do is pray for the Chileans and get ready for another massive rescue operation.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is That A Rootkit In Your Pocket?

Is That A Rootkit In Your Pocket?
Posted by George Hulme, Feb 24, 2010 06:12 PM
"Computer scientists from Rutgers University have demonstrated how smart phones could be as susceptible to rootkit infiltration as PC and server operating systems."

Your not paranoid. Everyone is out to get you.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

War ‘Not Time’ To Change Don’t Ask; Tanker RFP Out Tomorrow

War ‘Not Time’ To Change Don’t Ask; Tanker RFP Out Tomorrow
By Colin Clark Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 12:21 pm
Posted in Air, Policy
"The Air Force’s chief of staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz, told the House Armed Services Committee today that he worries changing the current policy on gays in the military could “perturb the force” at a time when it already faces strains from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Here is more on this topic. No policy change while we're at war means no change at all because the "war on terror" is not a conventional war and will never be over. But you never know, really. I am hoping that someone with some common sense finds their way into a position to effect this change in a way that will be lasting, but as painless for the current forces as possible.
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Chiefs warn against lifting gay ban too quickly

Chiefs warn against lifting gay ban too quickly
By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer – Tue Feb 23, 6:26 pm ET
WASHINGTON – "Top Army and Air Force officers said Tuesday they would be reluctant to overturn a 17-year policy that prohibits gays from serving openly in the military without more time to ascertain it won't hurt the services.

"I do have serious concerns about the impact of a repeal of the law on a force that is fully engaged in two wars and has been at war for eight and a half years," Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told Congress. "We just don't know the impacts on readiness and military effectiveness."

Well, this is better than I expected. They are using the traditional "impacts on readiness and military effectiveness" but that's to be expected. 'Let the gays out of the footlocker and our combat capabilities will fall apart.' Still, there doesn't seem to be a complete blockade against the idea.

I agree with those who say it should be done gradually, though. This situation, while similar to desegregation and women suffrage, is a little different in that the homophobia is ingrained deeper in the psychie than racism or sexism. One idea might be to make the Don't Ask/Don't Tell non-terminal. Anyone outed can still remain in their position with no negative repercussions. There would be no hiding but also no flaunting. This is just an idea of the top of my head so don't read anything into it. To be perfectly honest, I would not want to be the one that had to come up with the new policy. But then I have been all for gay rights in both the military and civilian worlds for a long time.

We'll have to see how this progresses.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Please rob me

In the market for a good B&E house? Need some extra ca$h and don't want to work for it? Then here is the place for you.

Ok, it's not really a site that's trying to get people robbed. It is, however, an example of the down side of Twitter. From the site's Why page...
Hey, do you have a Twitter account? Have you ever noticed those messages in which people tell you where they are? Pretty annoying, eh. Well, they're actually also potentially pretty dangerous.
When you tell people where you are you are also telling them where you aren't. Like, at home. People forget that this is all still very new. Most people under the age of 20 have never known a world without cellphones or the 'Net. But it has only been 15 or 20 years since these technological wonders became mainstream. Society hasn't caught up yet. At least the non-techie part of it. The techies at least have some idea of the consequences.

Us tech geeks need to do more to educate the normal people about the other side of the coin. This site is one such effort.
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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lawmakers to press military on gay ban

Lawmakers to press military on gay ban By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer Anne Flaherty, Associated Press Writer – Sun Feb 21, 2:59 pm ET | WASHINGTON – "Lawmakers this week will press the military's top uniformed officers for the first time on whether they think repealing "don't ask, don't tell" makes sense or would be too disruptive.

The testimony from each of the service chiefs on Capitol Hill will be crucial to the debate in Congress on whether to repeal the 17-year-old law, which bans gays from serving openly in the military.

This could be a touchy little exchange on the Hill. The "military's top uniformed officers" are not going to be for anything that allows gays to serve openly. There's to much testosterone and machoness in the military psyche to allow for anything not manly to be accepted. Mind you, this isn't a completely bad thing. If you're going to be fighting and killing the enemy you need to be a rough and tough, kick-ass SOB. This predicates on a specific mentality, one that is not comfortable with homosexuality. One would hope that someday reason and intelect will prevail on this topic but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

And by "soon" I mean within the next three hundred years or so.
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Anthrax myth persists despite evidence

Anthrax myth persists despite evidence
By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY
"Can science ever do away with bad ideas? Or do they just limp along forever?

Consider the federal investigators who have "formally concluded" their investigation into the 2001 anthrax killings, pointing again to the late anthrax vaccine researcher Bruce Ivins as the case's culprit.

Some good information is in here. It is much better to know the facts than be afraid of the the rumors. Knowledge is power, and it can save your life.
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Friday, February 19, 2010

Microsoft security patch flaw plugged by hackers

Microsoft security patch flaw plugged by hackers
Rootkit conflict fixed so hackers can hack
By Spencer Dalziel
Wednesday, 17 February 2010, 14:50

"THE AUTHORS of the rootkit that caused 'blue screen of death' (BSOD) crashes on some Windows XP systems have updated the malware so it doesn't do that any longer."

I don't know about you but when software is so completely messed up that the bad guys are fixing things it is time to get rid of that software.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

International Asperger's Day

February 18 is International Asperger's Day. As an international person with Asperger's Syndrome I would like others to know about this form of Autism. Go forth and Google!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gamers More Frightening than Biker Gangs, says Michael Atkinson

Gamers More Frightening than Biker Gangs, says Michael Atkinson Posted February 17, 2010 by David Radd - "Speaking to ABC TV's Good Game, the South Australian Attorney-General has indicated that he feels that gamers are more likely to render him bodily harm than bikers.

'I feel that my family and I are more at risk from gamers than we are from the outlaw motorcycle gangs who also hate me and are running a candidate against me,' said Atkinson. 'The outlaw motorcycle gangs haven't been hanging around my doorstop at 2 A.M. A gamer has.'

This is one from the WHAT?!? files. Yeah, like we're going to bust a cap in his @$$ and take all his women. Sometimes I wonder what planet these people come from.
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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Social Engineering Scammers Offer Live Support

Social Engineering Scammers Offer Live Support By Thomas Claburn | InformationWeek | February 13, 2010 07:00 AM - "Just like legitimate software companies, cyber scammers are experimenting with online services supported by human intelligence.

Symantec reports that those behind the fake antivirus software known as Live PC Care have added a new social engineering element -- live support agents who will try to convince potential victims that their PCs are infected and that payment is the cure.

Is it me or are the bad guys completely smarter than those who claim to try and stop them? No, it's not me. They have always been smarter. That is because the anti-bad guys can't see where the breakdown is. Want to stop viruses? Make Microsoft fix MS Windows and all their other applications. Better still, don't use any of their software. Want to stop identity theft? Make everyone who collects and stores personal and/or financial data use strong encryption and take basic precautions to keep the baddies out.

But this is not likely to happen. Everyone is much more concerned about profits and revenue. Now, I'm all for making a buck. But why can't it be done with less avarice and greed? No one seems to have a clue what the phrase "Do the right thing" means.
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Justice Dept. wants phone locales without warrant

Justice Dept. wants phone locales without warrant By MARYCLAIRE DALE, Associated Press Writer PHILADELPHIA – "Should the government be allowed to track a person's movements based on cell phone records, without evidence of criminal wrongdoing?

A showdown on the issue unfolded Friday in a federal appeals court in Philadelphia, as the Justice Department battled electronic-privacy groups.

This is about as scary as it gets. Definitely double-plus ungood.

I can understand the need for security and safety but there's such a thing as going to far. Personal privacy is, in this day and age, practically non-existent. But there's still some need for individual freedom from Big Brother. We really need someone watching the watchers.
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Sunday, February 07, 2010

PS3 Utilized by Air Force for Supercomputer

PS3 Utilized by Air Force for Supercomputer Posted February 2, 2010 by James Brightman - "The PlayStation 3, with its Cell processor and SPUs, is a very powerful machine (one look at Uncharted 2 would tell you that). Its power has been put to use for other purposes besides games, such as cancer research through the distributed computing project Folding@Home, and now it would appear that the U.S. Air Force has become quite interested in Sony's platform too.

According to Stars and Stripes, the PS3's price-to-performance ratio was so attractive that an Air Force research team decided to order 1,700 more units to complement the 336 they already have. The 2,000+ PS3s will be linked together to form the 500 TeraFLOPS Heterogeneous Cluster, which runs nearly 100,000 times faster than high-end computer processors on the market currently. This Air Force research group was awarded a $2 million grant for the project.

The article doesn't say but it is highly likely that this cluster will be running Linux a la the Beowulf project. Can you imagine the possibilities for future development now that supercomputers are becoming more and more available for research and modeling?
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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Hollywood loses key battle over illegal downloads

Hollywood loses key battle over illegal downloads by Talek Harris Talek Harris – Thu Feb 4, 4:08 am ET | SYDNEY (AFP) – "Hollywood film studios on Thursday lost a landmark court bid to hold an Australian Internet provider responsible for illegal movie downloads by its customers, in a serious blow to their fight against piracy."

Looks like someone has a clue. The decision on the Australian piracy case proves that there is at least one jurisdiction that has a grasp of common sense with respect to the Internet. But the fight is not over yet. There will be more cases where the powerful corporations and organizations try to extort more money from users. Hopefully this decision will provide a little ammo to combat the greedy.
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Microsoft Patch To Leave IE Hole Open

Microsoft Patch To Leave IE Hole Open By Thomas Claburn InformationWeek February 5, 2010 04:23 PM - "Microsoft on Thursday said that its monthly security patch, to be issued on Tuesday, February 9th, will include 13 security bulletins.
That's the largest number of security bulletins issued in February for the past four years, according to Sheldon Malm, senior director of security strategy at Rapid7.
"One vulnerability that won't be fixed this month can be found in Internet Explorer. Microsoft on Wednesday issued a security advisory, stating that it is investigating a publicly reported vulnerability in versions of its Web browser."

And still people use Microsoft products. It's not about the number of fixes being pushed. Every operating system and their associated applications need fixes. But leaving a hole open isn't exactly a good policy. Other software vendors have consistently been able to fix these kind of problems in a few days.

I have been saying this for years but I'll say it again...

If you are using a Microsoft operating system do NOT use any Microsoft applications. If you must use Microsoft applications do NOT use a Microsoft operating system.
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Friday, February 05, 2010

Mobile Health Text Messaging Service Begins

Mobile Health Text Messaging Service Begins By Antone Gonsalves | InformationWeek | February 5, 2010 10:20 AM - "Expectant moms are getting a little help from a public-private partnership offering to send weekly text messages designed to promote mother and child health through the baby's first year."

This could be a good service. If it works out well I can see it expanding to more areas of health care. However, is having one's medical information flying through the air in bits a Good Thing®?
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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Quick run through of interesting Military news

Here are a few tidbits related to the US Military.

Tuskegee Airman Ace Passes Away January 29, 2010 | Associated Press | NEW YORK - "Retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Lee A. Archer, a Tuskegee Airman considered to be the only black ace pilot who also broke racial barriers as an executive at a major U.S. company and founder of a venture capital firm, died Wednesday in New York City. He was 90."
These guys should have their own holiday.
Clock Starts Ticking to End Gay Ban January 30, 2010 | Associated Press | "The U.S. Defense Department starts the clock next week on what is expected to be a several-year process in lifting its ban on gays from serving openly in the military."
Having lived in and around the military for practically my whole life I can see both sides of this issue. I hope that eventually sexual orientation will become as significant as eye color but it is going to take a long time to get there. And if this is forced on the Military it will take far longer to get there.
Troops Feel Growing Rage in Afghanistan February 01, 2010 | Agence France-Presse | "Anger, frustration and a hunger for revenge are running high among U.S. Marines as casualties mount on the frontline of the battle against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan."
I remember when the US Embassy in Lebanon was bombed. The anguish the men felt was nearly visible. Especially for the Marines. They knew where the people were who orchestrated and carried out the bombing were. They were ready to go in and give them a good talking to. But the powers that be would not let them do their job. The frustration was almost unbearable. This is what the guys are feeling over in Afghanistan.
Last U.S. veteran of World War I turns 109 By Paul Courson, CNN February 1, 2010 -- Updated 2232 GMT (0632 HKT) | Charles Town, West Virginia (CNN) -- "The last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I, former Cpl. Frank Buckles, turned 109 on Monday and is still hoping for a national memorial to his comrades in Washington."
And finally, from the very proud citizen department, a dough boy who should be honored like the great American treasure he is.
That's all for now.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Obama Budget Kills Moon Missions

Obama Budget Kills Moon Missions By Paul McDougall | InformationWeek | February 1, 2010 10:50 AM - "President Obama's proposed federal budget strips funding for a return to the moon by NASA astronauts, according to administration officials.

Resuming trips to the moon, which astronauts have not visited since Apollo 17's trip there in 1972, was a key part of former president George W. Bush's plan for increased space exploration. Obama's budget request—expected to be formally unveiled Monday—effectively kills the program.

This is unfortunate. The exploration of space is important for this planet. Science has evolved tremendously in the last 40 years. Who knows what advancements could be found out there.
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Fears Australian piracy case could shut off net

Fears Australian piracy case could shut off net by Madeleine Coorey Madeleine Coorey – Sun Jan 31, 7:07 pm ET | SYDNEY (AFP) – "Australian Internet rights groups fear a piracy court case could force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to become "copyright cops" and cut web access to customers who make illegal downloads.

The Federal Court is on Thursday expected to hand down its judgement in the case, which has pitted Hollywood and Australian film and television producers against Australia's third-largest Internet provider iiNet.

Don't think this is an important case? Here's a quote from the article which might help put things in perspective.
"We've never seen a company which supplies electricity held responsible for supplying electricity to a house which grows illicit drugs, for example."
If this kind of thing continues there will be no Internet. That is not an exaggeration.
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