Recent Entries in Sci-Tech

Scotts Valley (CA) - Seagate will use a new technology to create the foundation for future harddrives. The company believes that its Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording will allow area densities of up to 50 terabit or more than 700 times the density of today's harddrive platters. Seagate plans to debut HAMR in 2010 with a density of about 1 terabit.

The idea to create a recording technology which differs significantly from today's technique is not really new. For years harddrive manufacturers emphasize that the density of harddrives, which are based on the same basic technology called Winchester, will reach its limit at some point. While especially Seagate has been warning since the mid-nineties, that the end of the 1973 introduced Winchester drive might be near, the industry was able to keep pushing the technology and its magnetic recording mechanism to new record levels each year.

"A few years ago, the density grew by about 60 percent every year and we believed the increase in density was slowing down," said Mark Kryder, Chief Technology of Officer of Seagate. "Today we are reaching more than 100 percent growth in density every year." Seagate's currently largest drive, the Barracuda 7200.7, is close to 70 Gigabit per square inch. Back in 1995, Seagate believed that 10 Gigabit per square inch might not be possible with traditional Winchester drives.


Our research activities are focused on the design and control of a class of robotic systems worn or operated by humans to augment human mechanical strength, while the wearer's intellect remains the central control system for manipulating the robot. Human power extenders can be used to maneuver heavy loads with great dexterity, speed, and precision, in factories, shipyards, airports, construction sites, and warehouses.

The design and control of human power extenders are different from the design and control of conventional robots because they interface with the human on a physical level. The human transfers his/her commands to the extender via the contact forces between the human and the extender, eliminating the need for a joystick, pushbutton, or keyboard to transfer such commands. In this unique configuration, the human body, in physical contact with the extender, exchanges both power and information signals with the extender. Because of this unique interface, the human becomes an integral part of the robot and "feels" the load that the power extender is carrying. The hypothesis is that these machines when worn by workers to maneuver loads, prevent back injuries in workers. When the worker uses the extender to touch and manipulate a load, the extender transfers to her/his arm, as natural feedback, a scaled-down value of the actual load weight which the extender is manipulating: the human "feels" the load weight in the manipulations. In this way, the extender prevents back injuries to workers maneuvering loads.



A University of Maryland professor and his graduate student have apparently uncovered serious weaknesses in the next-generation Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) security protocol known as 802.1x.

A session hijacking can occur because of the so-called race conditions between the 802.1x and 802.11 state machines. Arbaugh uses the analogy of a thief and a store owner racing for the front door at the same time. If the owner gets there first he locks the thief out, if the thief gets there first he steals everything. Because the client and the AP aren't synchronized, "loose consistency," the thief can tell the owner/client to go away and the AP still thinks he is there.

Response from the IEEE 802.11 Chair on WEP Security

Recent reports in the press have described the results of certain research efforts directed towards determining the level of security achievable with the Wired Equivalent Privacy algorithm in the IEEE 802.11 Wireless LAN standard. While much of the reporting has been accurate, there have been some misconceptions on this topic that are now spreading through the media. Befitting the importance of the issue, I am inclined to make a response from the Chair to clarify these issues with the following points:

1. Contrary to certain reports in the press, the development of WEP as an integral part of the IEEE 802.11 standard was accomplished through a completely open process. Like all IEEE 802 standards activities, participation is open to all interested parties, and indeed the IEEE 802.11 committee has had a large and active membership.

2. The acronym WEP stands for Wired Equivalent Privacy, and from the outset the goals for WEP have been clear, namely to provide an equivalent level of privacy as is ordinarily present with a wired LAN. Wired LANs such as IEEE 802.3 (Ethernet) are ordinarily protected by the physical security mechanisms within a facility (such as controlled entrances to a building), and the IEEE wired LAN standards do not incorporate encryption. Wireless LANs are not necessarily protected by physical security, and consequently to provide an equivalent level of privacy it was decided to incorporate WEP encryption into the IEEE 802.11 standard. However, recognizing that the level of privacy afforded by physical security in the wired LAN case is limited, the goals of WEP are similarly limited. WEP is not intended to be a complete security solution, but, just as with physical security in the wired LAN case, should be supplemented with additional security mechanisms such as access control, end-to-end encryption, password protections, authentication, virtual private networks, and firewalls, whenever the value of the data being protected justifies such concern.

3. Given the goals for Wired Equivalent Privacy, WEP has been, and continues to be, a very effective deterrent against the vast majority of attackers that might attempt to compromise the privacy of a wireless LAN, ranging from casual snoopers to sophisticated hackers armed with substantial money and resources.

4. The active attacks on WEP reported recently in the press are not simple to mount. They are attacks, which could conceivably be mounted given enough time and money. The attacks in fact appear to require considerable development resources and computer power. It is not clear at all whether the payoff to the attacker after marshalling the resources to mount such an attack would necessarily justify the expense of the attack, particularly given the presence of cheaper and simpler alternative attacks on the physical security of a facility. Key management systems also reduce the window of these attacks succeeding.

5. In an enterprise or other large installation, the complete set of security mechanisms typically employed in addition to WEP would make even a successful attack on WEP of marginal value to the attacker.

6. In a home environment, the likelihood of such an attack being mounted is probably negligible, given the cost of the attack versus the typical value of the stolen data.

7. IEEE 802.11 is currently working on extensions to WEP for incorporation within a future version of the standard. This work was initiated in July 1999 as Task Group E, with the specific goal of strengthening the security mechanisms so as to provide a level of security beyond the initial requirements for Wired Equivalent Privacy. The enhancements currently proposed are intended to counter extremely sophisticated attacks, including those that have been recently reported on in the press. In addition it needs to be noted that the choice of encryption algorithms by IEEE 802.11 are not purely technical decisions but they are limited by government export law restrictions as well.

8. Certain reports in the press have implied that frequency hopping wireless LAN systems would be less vulnerable to security attacks than other wireless LANs. This is not true given that in such frequency hopping systems the hopping codes and timings are unencrypted and consequently are easily available to an attacker.

9. By far the biggest threat to the security of any wireless LAN is the failure to use the protection mechanisms that are available, including WEP. Any IEEE 802.11 installation where data privacy is a concern should use WEP.

I would like to thank the following long serving members of the IEEE 802.11 Working Group, and those Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance members, for their efforts in assisting me in drafting this response from the Chair to this important issue:.

   * Vic Hayes, IEEE 802.11 member & ex-IEEE 802.11 Chair
   * Al Petrick, IEEE 802.11 WG Vice-Chair
   * Harry Worstell, IEEE 802.11 WG Vice Chair
   * John Fakatselis, IEEE 802.11 Task Group E Chair & TGE QoS Sub-Group Chair
   * Dave Halasz, IEEE 802.11 TGE Security Sub-Group Chair
   * Matthew Shoemake, IEEE 802.11 Task Group G Chair
   * Phil Belanger, WECA Chairman & IEEE 802.11 member
   * Greg Ennis, WECA Technical Director & IEEE 802.11 member.

Stuart J. Kerry
Chair, IEEE 802.11 , Standards Working Group for Wireless Local Area Networks.

  Coolest PC in the World

The world of personal computing is driven by meeting quarterly numbers and satisfying the street. Moore.s Law drives expectations for performance. The size of personal devices is determined by display sizes . notebook, tablet, PDA and some would like the watch. This a nice neat package of how computing can be expressed. Right?


At ITU Telecom World we got a sample of another view by NEC. It is based on the pen and called P-ISM. This concept is so radical that we went to Tokyo to learn more.

The design concept uses five different pens to make a computer. One pen is a CPU, another a camera, one creates a virtual keyboard, another projects the visual output and thus the display and another a communicator (a phone). All five pens can rest in a holding block which recharges the batteries and holds the mass storage. Each pen communicates wireless, possibly Bluetooth.


The X-Zone Server, folks. Ok, this is probably the coolest case mod I've ever seen. Think you can do better? Let me know.


  Making a Can-tenna

Could this be an antenna for WiFi? Could you go wardriving with a can of stew? These and other questions can now be answered thanks to these guys:


The new year in Japan is a time for fresh starts and spiritual cleansing for not only the residents of Tokyo, but also their computers. At the Kanda Myojin shrine in downtown Tokyo, IT businesses and the nearby electronic shops association of Akihabara have gathered to purify their computers and protect them from common electronic evils. For most, that meant warding off computer viruses and hackers. "I work in software development and we faced many threats such as computer viruses and hackers, and if our computers breakdown we can't work anymore. So that is why it's important to me to pray for a year of safe business," said 30-year old Katsutoshi Honma whose computer was blessed according to the ancient Shinto traditions.

  Get the "facts" on Linux

Looks like Micro$oft launched a big anti-Linux campaign. Checkout the latest info from 3rd-party experts on Micro$oft's website.

  Linux SmartPhone

A Chinese company based in Shanghai named "E28" has quietly been selling Linux-based smartphones in China since August, and today launched its Linux device in Hong Kong. The company also claims to be in talks with US and European companies to bring the device to those regions, according to one source.

Japan, where cellular provider NTT DoCoMo recently adopted Linux for its 3G phones, represents another possible market for the E28 phone.

E28's E2800 smart phone sells for about $600, and targets business users, offering PDA functions, touch-screen, handwriting recognition, a camera, and memory expansion to 512MB through an SD memory card.


  Novell's Linux Battleplan

Novell will begin its local Linux drive with nationwide seminars for partners and customers early next year to educate and train its channel in SuSE Linux.

Its acquisition of SuSE Linux is expected to be approved by February.

The vendor had plans to stage introductory Linux seminars around this time, Novell's manager of partner relationships, Steve Martin, said.

"It'll be one of the biggest things we do next year, if not the biggest," he said.

"Nothing's official yet, but we'll have an introductory seminar to Linux which will be free for partners and potential partners, and then sales and technical training," Martin said.

"The key thing is we'll be exposing them to Linux. We'll be showing them how to implement Linux solutions and how to position themselves in the Linux space."

He said Novell's US operation was currently developing SuSE training courses.

The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), a global consortium of customers and leading technology companies dedicated to accelerating the adoption of Linux, today announced that Novell has joined OSDL and will participate in the Lab's key initiatives to advance the use of Linux for enterprise computing.

In addition, Jeffrey T. Hawkins, VP, Office of the CTO at Novell, has been elected to OSDL's board of directors.

"The Linux industry is rapidly accelerating with the promise to give customers lower computing costs with greater freedom and control," said Chris Stone, Novell vice chairman - Office of the CEO. "By joining forces with OSDL, Novell aims to take a leadership role in helping the industry overcome the many challenges that still exist to help Linux fulfill its promise as an end-to-end enterprise computing platform."

Novell will participate in a number of OSDL initiatives including the Data Center Linux (DCL) working group. This working group is focused on the business-hardening of Linux for use in the Data Center. In addition, Novell joins a growing number of OSDL members interested in creating a working group initiative for Linux on the desktop.

This is a very simple step by step guide on optimising your FreeBSD server or workstation. It doesn't go into a great amount of detail, but after spending several months searching for one source of simple optimisation information and failing, I wrote this paper. All the suggestions listed here are known optimisations available to you if you know where to find them and have the time to do so. There is nothing secret, or special or amazing in this paper, just information on how you can optimise your system.
It can mostly be applied to the other BSDs too, but not Linux. There are plenty of Linux documents out there, so go find one of those. I'm sure there are several HOWTO's. This document is true as of the release of FreeBSD 4.8. Some parts of it, such as optimising your kernel, can also be applied to some previous releases.

  RSA-576 Factored

On December 3, the day after the announcement of the discovery of the largest known prime by the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search on December 2 (MathWorld headline news: December 2, 2003), a team at the German Bundesamt f�r Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (Federal Bureau for Security in Information Technology; BIS) announced the factorization of the 174-digit number

1881 9881292060 7963838697 2394616504 3980716356 3379417382 7007633564 2298885971 5234665485 3190606065 0474304531 7388011303 3967161996 9232120573 4031879550 6569962213 0516875930 7650257059

known as RSA-576.

RSA numbers are composite numbers having exactly two prime factors (i.e., so-called semiprimes) that have been listed in the Factoring Challenge of RSA Security�.

(I'm posting this because Trillian's released "Patch F" which appears to work fine with MSN)

Microsoft is forcing people to upgrade to newer versions of its instant messenger application and is shutting its doors to third-party IM products such as Trillian.

As of Oct. 15, users of Microsoft's free Web-based MSN Messenger and its Windows XP-based Windows Messenger will need to upgrade their software to a newer version or be shut out of the service, the software giant said Wednesday. MSN Messenger users will need to upgrade to version 5.0 of higher; Windows Messengers customers will need to upgrade to version 4.7.2009 or higher; and consumers with MSN Messenger for Mac OS X will have to use version 3.5 or higher. The last MSN Messenger to be released was version 6.

  Novell buys SuSE Linux

The balance of Linux power shifted Tuesday, with Novell announcing an IBM-assisted plan to acquire SuSE Linux.

Longtime Microsoft foe Novell has signed an agreement to acquire SuSE Linux for $210 million in cash, while IBM, the most powerful backer of the Linux operating system, will make a $50 million investment in Novell.

The moves, announced Tuesday, could boost the fortunes of SuSE, the No. 2 seller of Linux, increase the competitive pressure on No. 1 Red Hat and provide a new direction for Novell's rivalry with Microsoft.

The three-way action also highlights where much of the power in the Linux realm resides. "IBM was a very important broker in the deal. It's prepared to be the kingmaker to counterbalance SuSE against Red Hat," RedMonk analyst James Governor said.

  Tech Support, Revisited

Countless information technology workers started out in technical-support jobs, moving on to careers as network administrators and programmers. However, current trends are complicating the prospects for support professionals at every level. Is this a career still worth pursuing?

  Better than WarDriving

Cable ties were cut across a large, four-kilometre swath of the region around University Avenue yesterday.

But there wasn't any disconnection.

It was a ceremonial "cutting of the cable" to launch Canada's largest coherent wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) zone.

The connection will be free until January, run as a pilot project by FibreTech Telecommunications Inc., a firm owned by the public utility companies in the region.

The wireless signal covers a four kilometre radius, in and out of all the cafes, restaurants, businesses, apartments, homes, parks and other spaces around 140 to 170 University Avenue, and up as far as Columbia Street, an area where a huge number of students live, eat and do their work.

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) yesterday published a landmark report on trusted computing, a technology designed to improve security through hardware changes to the personal computer.

The report, entitled "Trusted Computing: Promise and Risk," maintains that computer owners themselves, rather than the companies that provide software and data for use on the computer, should retain control over the security measures installed on their computers. Any other approach, says the report's author Seth Schoen, carries the risk of anticompetitive behavior by which software providers may enforce "security measures" that prevent interoperability when using a competitor's software.

Don't smile -- you're Canadian.

The days of grinning from ear to ear for your passport photo are over. The Canadian Passport Office has issued new guidelines to photographers across the country saying smiling is out. Neutral, Politburo-style expressions are in.

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