Recent Entries in Sci-Tech

  Transparent Aluminum!

Scientists in the US have developed a novel technique to make bulk quantities of glass from alumina for the first time. Anatoly Rosenflanz and colleagues at 3M in Minnesota used a "flame-spray" technique to alloy alumina (aluminium oxide) with rare-earth metal oxides to produce strong glass with good optical properties. The method avoids many of the problems encountered in conventional glass forming and could, say the team, be extended to other oxides (A Rosenflanz et al. 2004 Nature 430 761).

Glass is formed when a molten material is cooled so quickly that its constituent atoms do not have time to align themselves into an ordered lattice. However, it is difficult to make glasses from most materials because they need to be cooled -- or quenched -- at rates of up to 10 million degrees per second.

Silica is widely used in glass-making because the quenching rates are much lower, but researchers would like to make glass from alumina as well because of its superior mechanical and optical properties. Alumina can form glass if it is alloyed with calcium or rare-earth oxides, but the required quenching rate can be as high as 1000 degrees per second, which makes it difficult to produce bulk quantities.

http://physicsweb.org/article/news/8/8/9

A piece of the Sun is set to fall to Earth and be captured by Hollywood stunt pilots in a tricky mid-air manoeuvre, NASA announced on Thursday.

A capsule filled with stardust will be dropped into the atmosphere from NASA's Genesis spacecraft on 8 September.

Genesis has collected charged particles from the Sun's outermost layer for about 27 months since its launch in 2001. Scientists believe its quarry will reveal the chemical composition of the cloud from which the Sun and planets condensed 4.5 billion years ago.

"We believe the solar nebula was a fairly homogeneous environment, but out of this all the diverse materials of planets formed," says Don Burnett of the California Institute of Technology, and principal investigator.

http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996305

Forgent Networks Inc. has a modest software business, but lately it's been showing a swagger reminiscent of another line of work: trial lawyers.

While it tries to build its line of scheduling software, Austin-based Forgent has been hiring lawyers to extract revenue from the company's store of old patents. Already, Forgent has reaped nearly $50 million by claiming that one of its patents covers JPEG, the popular standard for digital images. Sony Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc. are among the tech giants that have settled with Forgent.

More riches may be on the way: In April, Forgent sued 31 tech companies, most of them Fortune 500 members, in U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas for allegedly infringing on the JPEG patent.

http://www.forbes.com/technology/feeds/general/2004/08/09/generalcoxnews_2004_08_09_eng-coxnews_eng-coxnews_153900_8881123135943098400.html

Internet search engine company Google, Inc., of Mountain View, has agreed to give rival Internet portal Yahoo, Inc., of Sunnyvale, stock that could be worth as much as $328 million to settle an on-going legal dispute.

The dollar figure is based on Google's anticipated IPO price of just over $121 per share. Yahoo gets 2.7 million shares to drop its suit against Google, according to the two companies Monday.

Under the terms of the agreement, Google will take a license to U.S. Patent No. 6,269,361 and several related patents, held by Yahoo's wholly-owned subsidiary, Overture.

Yahoo sued its rival over Google's linking of advertising with information searches. Yahoo contended it infringed on a patent it acquired when it bought Overture Services Inc. in 2003. Yahoo paid about $1.63 billion for the Pasadena-based company.

http://sanjose.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2004/08/09/daily7.html

  Fark.com Sells Out

Fark.com, one of the most popular blogs on the Net, has been accused of selling out -- joining a growing list of new-media outfits willing to bend old-media rules.

According to a veteran new-media publisher, Fark has been selling preferential placement of story links without informing its readers.

Jason Calacanis, publisher of several rival Weblogs Inc. blogs, claims Fark offered him highly placed links to his sites in return for several hundred dollars.

"I was shocked because I had come to trust the brand, and the person behind it," Calacanis said. "Anything that is an advertisement should be labeled as an advertisement. This is not rocket science."

Calacanis said he didn't know how many links on Fark are paid for, or how long Fark has been selling them. But he said a Fark salesman told him the site does it "all the time."

http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,64472,00.html

  IBM Boosts Open Source

IBM announced that it will not use its patents against Linux, and it encouraged other software companies to make the same vow.

As the owner of 60 patents on which the Linux core might infringe, IBM could wreak havoc on Linux if it chose to do so. The new promise, delivered at LinuxWorld, emphasizes the company's commitment to open source.

In a speech at the conference, however, IBM senior vice president Nick Donofrio said that in the future the company could be "forced to defend" itself through patent enforcement.

Donofrio's comments were in response to an earlier statement by Open Source Risk Management, a group that conducts research and analysis of patents that could affect the core of Linux.

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/35584.html

HP has released Compaq nx5000, its first laptop with SuSE Linux and OpenOffice pre-installed. The target market for the new notebook is small, consisting primarily of developers and users wanting to run specific Linux-based applications.

Equipped with an Intel Pentium M processor , the nx5000 lists for US$1,199. A version equipped with Windows sells for $80 more -- not enough of a price difference to attract a large number of buyers to the Linux model based on price alone.

"I don't see this HP laptop, with Linux, as replacing a Windows device," says IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky. "Business buyers tend to ask: What application do I need? And then they ask: What operating system do I need to run that application?"

http://www.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_title=HP-Debuts-Its-First-Linux-Laptop&story_id=26187&category=hardware

An entry in the blog of Sun Microsystems President Jonathan Schwartz has sparked speculation that the Santa Clara company may be considering buying Novell Inc., a major vendor of Linux.

In an entry on Sunday, Schwartz strongly suggested that acquiring the Massachusetts business technology firm could hurt a major Sun rival, IBM.

The idea is based on what Schwartz sees as IBM's dilemma with Linux, the open-source operating system that is gaining ground in the corporate market.

He said that IBM may be feeling threatened by the rise of Red Hat, the leading vendor of Linux products, which run on machines sold by major tech firms, including Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

In a bid to slow down Red Hat, Schwartz said, IBM is hoping to direct customers to another Linux firm, Suse, owned by Novell.

"Whoever owns Novell controls the (operating system on which) IBM's future depends," Schwartz wrote. "Now that's an interesting thought, isn't it?"

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/08/03/BUGH081M4D1.DTL&type=business

Microsoft has released their latest security patch to fix the three critical holes in the popular browser Internet Explorer. The patch will fix the .gaping hole. that was exploited earlier this Summer that allowed hackers to download malicious code onto unwitting computer user's machines and take control of the computer. CNET reports that it also "addresses two other publicly known flaws in IE, both related to image processing and both rated as critical because they could allow malicious code to be run on a vulnerable system."

The flaw was so publicized that millions of users began to seek other browser options such a Mozilla Firefox and Opera.

http://www.washingtondispatch.com/culture/archives/000448.html

Apple Computer hinted on Thursday that it may take legal action against RealNetworks as a battle over the technology standards used to download online music onto digital music players - including Apple's highly successful iPod device - boiled over.

In a scathing statement Apple said it was "stunned" by RealNetwork's decision to launch a version of its media player software that unlocks Apple's proprietary technology and makes it possible for people to listen to songs bought at RealNetwork's online music store on iPod devices as well as rival machines.

Apple accused its Seattle-based rival of adopting, "the tactics and ethics of a hacker" to break into iPod player with the release of its Harmony software earlier this week.

http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1087374078987

Instant PDF and print availability of the 9/11 Commission Report wasn't enough for some Internet users, who quickly bent the public report to their will. Within hours, versions of the long-awaited document in Notepad, HTML and enhanced PDF sprouted online as people sought to make the information even more accessible and usable.

PDF versions of the report (PDF) and an executive summary were published online simultaneously July 22 at 11:30 a.m. EST by the commission and the Government Printing Office. At the same time, printed versions published by W.W. Norton and the GPO went on sale. The book quickly became a bestseller.

http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,64346,00.html?tw=rss.TOP

Friday, July 30th, 2004, is the 5th annual System Administrator Appreciation Day. On this special international day, give your System Administrator something that shows that you truly appreciate their hard work and dedication.

Let's face it, System Administrators get no respect 364 days a year. This is the day that all fellow System Administrators across the globe, will be showered with expensive sports cars and large piles of cash in appreciation of their diligent work. But seriously, we are asking for a nice token gift and some public acknowledgement. It's the least you could do. Consider all the daunting tasks and long hours (weekends too.) Let's be honest, sometimes we don't know our System Administrators as well as they know us. Remember this is one day to recognize your System Administrator for their workplace contributions and to promote professional excellence. Thank them for all the things they do for you and your business.

http://www.sysadminday.com/

Famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking said Wednesday that black holes, the mysterious massive vortexes formed from collapsed stars, do not destroy everything they consume but instead eventually fire out matter and energy "in a mangled form."

Hawking's radical new thinking, presented in a paper to the 17th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation in Dublin, capped his three-decade struggle to explain an elemental paradox in scientific thinking: How can black holes destroy all traces of consumed matter and energy, as Hawking long believed, when subatomic theory says such elements must survive in some form?

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=624&ncid=753&e=1&u=/ap/20040721/ap_on_sc/black_holes

The bad news just keeps coming from Microsoft -- this week alone the company released a patch for seven new security vulnerabilities, three of them affecting the company's Internet Explorer browser and described as "critical" flaws by Microsoft.

And in response to the recent plethora of patches, there seems to be a bit of a Microsoft mutiny happening. According to analyst firm WebSideStory, there has been a 1 percent drop in Internet Explorer use over the past month, from 95.73 percent on June 4 to 94.73 percent on July 6. It's the first time WebSideStory has ever seen Internet Explorer usage take a dive.

No program coded by humans will ever be 100 percent secure, but we can make malicious hackers' lives more difficult by using a variety of browsers. Having 94.73 percent of all Web surfers using one application provides too big of a target, and the problem is compounded by Microsoft's unfortunate insistence on tying Explorer so tightly to the Windows operating system.

http://www.wired.com/news/infostructure/0,1377,64216,00.html?tw=rss.TOP

Mythical Spanish knight Don Quixote, famed for charging at windmills he mistakes for enemies, is to ride again on a cosmic mission to save the world.

The European Space Agency has given high priority to a Spanish project which aims to attack an approaching asteroid to see whether spacecraft can deflect a body that may in future be on a collision course with earth.

Two craft will set out -- one named after the valiant knight of Cervantes' classic tale, the other after his long-suffering servant Sancho Panza.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/nm/20040716/od_uk_nm/oukoe_space_quixote

  Move Over, Aibo

Japanese fans of Hello Kitty will be able to get a robot of their favorite character in November.

The 400,000 yen (about $3,700) toy will have similar capabilities to the Sony Aibo. The robotic Kitty will recognize and remember up to 10 faces, identify voices, hold conversations" and even sing, according to its manufacturers, which include Business Design Laboratory, NEC System Technology and Futaba Industrial. Business Design Laboratory, based in Nagoya, Japan, has created some of the world's most sophisticated robots.

http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,64229,00.html?tw=rss.TOP

Black holes, those fearsome galactic traps from which not even light can escape, may not be quite so terminally destructive after all, according to cosmologist Stephen Hawking.

The author of "A Brief History of Time" now believes some "information" sucked into black holes escapes over time, contradicting some of his most famous work on the phenomenon.

Hawking will present his latest findings at a scientific conference in Ireland next week, New Scientist magazine said, after asking at the last minute to speak.

http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=scienceNews&storyID=5679660§ion=news

A team of astronomers have found a colossal black hole so ancient, they're not sure how it had enough time to grow to its current size, about 10 billion times the mass of the Sun.

Sitting at the heart of a distant galaxy, the black hole appears to be about 12.7 billion years old, which means it formed just one billion years after the universe began and is one of the oldest supermassive black holes ever known.

The black hole, researchers said, is big enough to hold 1,000 of our own Solar Systems and weighs about as much as all the stars in the Milky Way.

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/heavy_blazar_040628.html

Federal Court Judge Konrad von Finckenstein was wrong when he dismissed their attempt to force Canadian ISPs to reveal client names, say the Big Five record labels through their CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association).

On March 15, "We are confident that the court will require internet service providers to disclose the identities of alleged digital music infringers," said the CRIA's Richard Pfohl.

Big Music was trying to use the Canadian court system to compel Shaw Communications, Rogers Cable Communications, Bell Canada, Telus Communications and Videotron to reveal the names of 29 people the CRIA said had been sharing music online.

It characterised the 29 as "high-volume" file sharers, which is how the RIAA, its opposite number in the US, started its sue 'em all campaign, eventually turning its attention to indviduals, including children and elderly people.

http://p2pnet.net/story/1889

  I.E. losing market share

Internet Explorer, the near-ubiquitous Web browser of Washington's Microsoft, is losing market share, USA Today reported Monday.

Security flaws in Internet Explorer have caused its market share to drop from 95.48 percent to 94.42 percent, San Diego Web analytics firm WebSideStory says.

"If I'm Mozilla and Netscape, I'm thrilled about this," said WebSideStory analyst Geoff Johnston. "Here's a sign of a little uprising. It's a hope-generator for the open-source crowd."

http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040712-105957-8390r.htm

Scientists at General Electric Co. unveiled one of the smallest functioning devices ever made Wednesday, a carbon tube about 10 atoms wide that could one day shrink computer chip technology.

Researchers at GE's central lab in Niskayuna, N.Y., hope that their new device, which is a rolled-up sheet of carbon atoms resembling chicken wire, will someday operate as the standard semiconductor in computers and other electronics.

http://money.cnn.com/2004/07/07/technology/ge_nano.reut/index.htm

  Lego Rave

Just enjoy the nonsense on the site.

http://history.cookiethievery.com/040504/

Click on the ? or ! in the bottom right corner for more strange things...

The latest images from Cassini are completely reversing scientists' ideas about Saturn's giant moon Titan.

The space probe flew within 340,000 kilometres of Titan on Friday. It has revealed methane clouds and a strangely smeary surface that may include tectonic features and huge impact craters.

Before the flyby, planetary scientists had some low resolution images of Titan. The bright areas shown by the images were thought to be water ice, and the dark areas probably hydrocarbon gunge. But the new images suggest the opposite.

http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996110


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