Saturday, January 22, 2005 via The New York Times (registration required)
Does Not ComputeBy NICHOLAS G. CARR
Published: January 22, 2005
Carlisle, Mass. — THE Federal Bureau of Investigation has officially entered what computer professionals call "software hell." After spending $170 million to create a program that would give agents ready access to information on suspected terrorists, the bureau admitted last week that it's not even close to having a working system. In fact, it may have to start from scratch.
Shocking? Not at all. A look at the private sector reveals that software debacles are routine. And the more ambitious the project, the higher the odds of disappointment. It may not be much consolation to taxpayers, but the F.B.I. has a lot of company. Software hell is a very crowded place.
Consider Ford Motor Company's ambitious effort to write new software for buying supplies. Begun in 2000, the goal of the project, code-named Everest, was to replace Ford's patchwork of internal purchasing systems with a uniform system that would run over the Internet. The new software was supposed to reduce paperwork, speed orders and slash costs. But the effort sank under its own complexity. When it was rolled out for testing in North America, suppliers rebelled; according to Automotive News, many found the new software to be slower and more cumbersome than the programs it was intended to replace. Last August, Ford abandoned Everest amid reports that the project was as much as $200 million over budget.
A McDonald's program called Innovate was even more ambitious - and expensive. Started in 1999 with a budget of $1 billion, the network sought to automate pretty much the entire fast-food empire. Software systems would collect information from every restaurant - the number of burgers sold, the speed of customer service, even the temperature of the oil in the French fry vats - and deliver it in a neat bundle to the company's executives, who would be able to adjust operations moment by moment.
Or so it was promised. Despite the grand goals, the project went nowhere. In late 2002, McDonald's killed it, writing off the $170 million that had already been spent.
White House Cuts Hubble Servicing Mission from 2006 Budget RequestBy Brian Berger
Space News Staff Writer
posted: 21 January 2005 01:49 pm ET
WASHINGTON – The White House has eliminated funding for a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope from its 2006 budget request and directed NASA to focus solely on de-orbiting the popular spacecraft at the end of its life, according to government and industry sources.
NASA is debating when and how to announce the change of plans. Sources told Space News that outgoing NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe likely will make the announcement Feb. 7 during the public presentation of the U.S. space agency’s 2006 budget request.
That budget request, according to government and industry sources, will not include any money for Hubble servicing but will include some money for a mission to attach a propulsion module to Hubble needed to safely de-orbit the spacecraft with a controlled re-entry into the Pacific Ocean. NASA would not need to launch such a mission before the end of the decade to guide the massive telescope safely into the ocean.
Sources said O’Keefe received his marching orders on Hubble Jan. 13 during a meeting with White House officials to finalize the agency’s 2006 budget request. With both robotic and shuttle-based servicing options expected to cost well in excess of $1 billion, sources said, NASA was told it simply could not afford to save Hubble given everything else NASA has on its agenda, including preparing the shuttle fleet to fly again.
NASA has not yet informed key congressional committees with jurisdiction over the space agency. But congressional sources told Space News they had been hearing since late last week that significant changes were afoot for Hubble.
These same sources, however, said they had not ruled out that the White House and NASA might be canceling the Hubble servicing mission as the opening gambit in the annual struggle that goes on every budget year, fully expecting that Congress will add money to the agency’s budget over the course of the year to pay for a mission that has strong public support.
Regardless of NASA’s intent, one Senate source predicted that the decision would “go over like a lead balloon” for many lawmakers. A House source concurred. “It’s going to really upset the Hubble crowd and that includes some members of Congress,” the House source said.
Friday, January 21, 2005 via KESQ NewsChannel 3 Palm Springs, CA
Local radio personalities react to FCC chairman's resignation
He brought record fines against CBS for Janet Jackson's Superbowl "wardrobe malfunction." Michael Powell, the nation's top media and telecommunications regulator, is resigning as head of the FCC.
Here in the desert, Casey Dolan is the morning man at M99.5. It's an edgy radio show that hasn't been in Powell?s decency sights, but where the host is still concerned about free speech rights.
"Basically, the reason we've descended into chaos is because in the last year we saw a nipple, we saw a bare back before Monday Night Football, and Sponge Bob Squarepants. Something's going on there!"
Satire, of course.
But in all seriousness, as a broadcaster, Dolan says it's the listener's job to decide what they want to listen to and tune out what they don't. He doesn't like the way Powell has cracked down on so-called indecency he and other broadcasters say has chilled their free speech
"For folks who sit at the top of the pyramid to say 'you can do this or that' defeats the whole purpose of it."
Scientists make crucial discovery on TitanFriday, January 21, 2005 (Huygens):
A European probe to Saturn's largest moon Titan found a strange world that, like Earth, is regularly doused with rain, has riverbeds and deserts, scientists said on Friday.
But Titan's rains are not water. They are liquid methane.
Photographs from the Huygens probe showed a rugged terrain with ridges and peaks and dark vein-like channels, evidence, scientists said, that the surface is eroded in the same way that water acts on Earth.
It wasn't raining when the probe floated down on parachutes and landed on Titan on January 14, but it may have been just days before.
Scientists at a European Space Agency (ESA) news briefing said they were very lucky that the probe came down where it did, but stressed that the information gathered could not be used to generalise about conditions over the whole of Titan.
The Huygens probe sent data to the US space agency NASA's Cassini mother ship above Saturn, which relayed it to the ESA.
The Huygens mission was launched in 1997 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, a joint effort by NASA, ESA and the Italian space agency.
It was named after 17th-century Saturn observers Jean Dominique Cassini and Christiaan Huygens. (AP)
posted by Gary Williams at 11:04 PM | link |
Researchers Report Bubble Fusion Results ReplicatedPhysical Review E publishes paper on fusion experiment conducted with upgraded measurement system
TROY, N.Y. — Physical Review E has announced the publication of an article by a team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Purdue University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the Russian Academy of Science (RAS) stating that they have replicated and extended previous experimental results that indicated the occurrence of nuclear fusion using a novel approach for plasma confinement.
This approach, called bubble fusion, and the new experimental results are being published in an extensively peer-reviewed article titled “Additional Evidence of Nuclear Emissions During Acoustic Cavitation,” which is scheduled to be posted on Physical Review E’s Web site and published in its journal this month.
The research team used a standing ultrasonic wave to help form and then implode the cavitation bubbles of deuterated acetone vapor. The oscillating sound waves caused the bubbles to expand and then violently collapse, creating strong compression shock waves around and inside the bubbles. Moving at about the speed of sound, the internal shock waves impacted at the center of the bubbles causing very high compression and accompanying temperatures of about 100 million Kelvin.
Thursday, January 20, 2005 via L.A. Times
L.A. Zoo's Newest Addition Isn't Your Average Pangolin
The baby anteater is getting a dose of TLC after its unusual arrival via France and Africa.
It's not unusual for the Los Angeles Zoo to get calls about animals confiscated at LAX. There's the occasional smuggled monkey, the reptile without proper papers. Then there was the call last week.
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service inspector had seized a pangolin carried in by tourists returning from Africa. Was the zoo interested?
A rare mammal found in Africa and Asia, the pangolin is essentially a scaly anteater that feeds on ants and termites filched from the earth with its elongated nails and sticky tongue. 'It looks like an artichoke,' said L.A. Zoo keeper Katherine Jaynes, 'especially when it rolls up into a ball to protect itself.'
via North County Times - North San Diego and Southwest Riverside County News
Hawaii's Big Island mayor asks for $2 million to control shrieking frogsAssociated Press
HONOLULU -- A tiny frog with a huge shriek has invaded the Big Island and won't shut up. Big Island Mayor Harry Kim is looking for $2 million to begin controlling the spread of the nocturnal coqui frog, a beloved native in Puerto Rico but considered an annoying pest in Hawaii since hitching a ride over in shipments of tropical plants around 1990.
The frogs have been mating easily -- and shattering quiet island nights -- ever since.
Aside from the noise, the frogs have a voracious appetite for spiders and insects, competing with native birds and fauna. And coqui frogs are adaptable to many ecosystems and breed heavily in Hawaii, experts said.
via The Register
Satellite snaps huge, penguin-killing icebergBy Lucy Sherriff
Published Thursday 20th January 2005 21:32 GMT
An iceberg the size of Long Island is smashing into the continent of Antarctica. Caught by both the Terra and Aqua satellites heading straight for the Drygalski Tongue (the floating extension of the Drygalski Glacier), the iceberg looked set for a head-on collision. But at the last minute, just two and a half miles from the glacial tongue, it stopped, most likely grounded on a sandbank.
crashes into Antarctica.
At just over 80 miles long, the iceberg is playing havoc with the normal ocean currents that clear pack ice away from the antarctic shore in its summer months. The sea ice has remained intact well into January, adding tens of extra miles of marching for penguins, who need to get to the sea to find food for their chicks.
However, as the iceberg appeared to ground itself, there was a sudden break-up of the sea ice in the area (see picture). This does not mean the chicks are saved, however. Researchers had been worried the penguins would have to eat all the food they had gathered in order to survive the march home. This is less unlikely now that the ice has broken up, but the chicks are still imperilled.
Sri Lankan software developers create "crisismanagement" utilityFrom Declan McCullagh's Politech
posted by Gary Williams at 2:26 PM | link |
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
My New Blog: Beginning ChucKI decided I wanted to write some stuff about the ChucK music language/compiler/synthesizer, so I started a new blog today. To visit Beginning ChucK, click here. posted by Gary Williams at 6:54 PM | link |
via Sky Showbiz
Britney Out In Baby StoreBritney Spears has been out shopping in a baby store - and reportedly told staff she is nine weeks pregnant.
The scruffy Toxic babe - who wore a skimpy pink top with no bra - was snapped in trendy Babystyle in downtown LA.
It would hardly be a surprise, as Britney has hinted many times over that she's desperate to have hubby Kevin Federline's baby.
Shop staff claim she revealed she is more than two months pregnant - but no official announcement has been made.
via Google Blog
Preventing comment spamIf you're a blogger (or a blog reader), you're painfully familiar with people who try to raise their own websites' search engine rankings by submitting linked blog comments like 'Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site.' This is called comment spam, we don't like it either, and we've been testing a new tag that blocks it. From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel='nofollow') on hyperlinks, those links won't get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. This isn't a negative vote for the site where the comment was posted; it's just a way to make sure that spammers get no benefit from abusing public areas like blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists.
We hope the web software community will quickly adopt this attribute and we're pleased that a number of blog software makers have already signed on:
Brad Fitzpatrick - LiveJournal
Dave Winer - Scripting News
Anil Dash - Six Apart
Steve Jenson - Blogger
Matt Mullenweg - WordPress
Stewart Butterfield - Flickr
Anthony Batt - Buzznet
David Czarnecki - blojsom
Rael Dornfest - Blosxom
Mike Torres - MSN Spaces
We've also discussed this issue with colleagues at our fellow search engines and would like to thank MSN Search and Yahoo! for supporting this initiative. Here are a few guidelines for anyone else who wants to join the cause.
via Zippy The Pinhead
Comic Of The Day
via The New York Times (registration required)
Capital Weaves a Steel Cocoon for a Big PartyBy DAVID JOHNSTON and MICHAEL JANOFSKY
Published: January 19, 2005
WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 - As the capital prepared to celebrate President Bush's inauguration, the city appeared on Tuesday more like a place under siege. Hour by hour the city of grand buildings and marble statues seemed to disappear behind curtains of steel security fences and concrete barriers.
Piece by piece, the huge security plan that officials promised would be the tightest ever in post-9/11 America emerged, temporarily inconveniencing local citizens and visitors.
The authorities estimate that a half-million people or more will come into the city for the swearing-in at noon Thursday at the Capitol, and later, for the parade along Pennsylvania Avenue. On Thursday night, thousands of people are expected to attend formal inaugural balls, private parties and elegant dinners that will culminate the celebration.
Throughout the day on Tuesday, disruptions were the norm. Utility crews with acetylene torches snarled traffic as they welded shut manhole covers along the route of the inaugural parade. Drivers found no-parking signs, temporary street closings and public warnings that 100 blocks of city streets near inaugural events would be restricted.
Serialization Seems An Appropriate ApproachIf Barbellion is the first English writer to consider short chronologically arranged excruciating self-revelations his lifework, serialization seems an appropriate approach. I plan to post regular entries to the hideously named Barbellionblog. (Dating can only be approximate in some cases.) As each book comes fully online, I'll repackage it in its original form at the Repress. For now, I leave you with the first page of the first volume:
via whiskey river
Open Those Eyes
'Striving to leave the wildernessposted by Gary Williams at 12:53 AM | link |
Tuesday, January 18, 2005 via The Smoking Gun
Richard Hatch Hit With Tax Evasion RapJanuary 18, 2005
IRS says 'Survivor' winner didn't report his million dollar prize
JANUARY 18--Richard Hatch, the first winner of CBS's 'Survivor,' was charged today with failing to report his $1 million reality TV windfall to the Internal Revenue Service. The below two-count criminal information, unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, charges Hatch with filing a false 2000 tax return that omitted his seven-figure 'Survivor' winnings. The nudity enthusiast, 43, is also charged with filing a false return for 2001 (he allegedly did not report $321,000 paid to him by a Boston radio station). If convicted of the felony charges, Hatch could face a maximum of five years in prison for each count and could be hit with a $250,000 fine. Hatch is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in Providence federal court January 24. (6 pages)
1/18 UPDATE: Hatch agreed to plead guilty to two counts of tax evasion in a non-binding agreement filed in Rhode Island federal court today. Prosecutors say they will recommend a reduced sentence for the 'Survivor' winner as long as he does not opt to change his plea to not guilty.
Intelsat Reports Loss of IS-804 SatelliteMany customers already restored to normal operations
Pembroke, Bermuda, 16 January 2005
Intelsat, Ltd. announced today that its IS-804 satellite experienced a sudden and unexpected electrical power system anomaly on January 14, 2005, at approximately 5:32 p.m. EST that caused the total loss of the spacecraft. In accordance with existing satellite anomaly contingency plans, Intelsat is in the process of making alternative capacity available to its IS-804 customers. The satellite, launched in 1997, furnished telecommunications and media delivery services to customers in the South Pacific. Intelsat and Lockheed Martin Corporation, the manufacturer of the satellite, are working together to identify the cause of the problem. Intelsat currently believes that there is no connection between this event and the recent IA-7 satellite anomaly as the two satellites were manufactured by two different companies and their designs are different.
A number of Intelsat-operated satellites in the region are being utilized to restore service to affected customers, and many end users of IS-804 capacity are already operating normally using replacement capacity. Intelsat has also begun working with other fleet operators where necessary to ensure the quickest possible restoration of service for customers.
'The loss of a satellite is an extremely rare event for us, and our first priority must be restoration of service to our customers,' said Conny Kullman, CEO of Intelsat, Ltd. 'Intelsat remains firmly committed to the region that was covered by IS-804, and all necessary effort and assets will be allocated to ensure Intelsat satellite coverage throughout the Asia-Pacific region.'
AI Bots Pick The HitsWolverine Inspector writes "The Music Industry uses a product called HSS (Hit Song Science) made by Spain's Polyphonic HMI. According to The Guardian "while no one's talking about it, it seems that the whole record industry is already using AI to choose hits. From unsigned acts dreaming in their garage, to multinationals such as Sony and Universal, everyone is clandestinely using a new and controversial technology to gain an edge on their competitors."
Even though it costs about $5,200 US/$6,500, many artists are starting to buy it to help them write succesfull songs."
posted by Gary Williams at 4:54 PM | link |
via WorkingForChange-The science of comedy
The Wit Of 2004I think the only natural joke set-up of the whole year was the time President Bush told the Amish in the Midwest that God speaks through him. A thousand instant punchlines occur, for instance: Darn, I thought the Almighty knew how to pronounce the word nuclear.
Comic Of The Day
via European Space Agency (ESA)
More of Titan’s secrets to be unveiled on 21 January18 January 2005
ESA PR 04-2005. One week after the successful completion of Huygens’ mission to the atmosphere and surface of Titan, the largest and most mysterious moon of Saturn, the European Space Agency is bringing together some of the probe’s scientists to present and discuss the first results obtained from the data collected by the instruments.
After a 4000 million kilometre journey through the Solar System that lasted almost seven years, the Huygens probe plunged into the hazy atmosphere of Titan at 11:13 CET on 14 January and landed safely on its frozen ground at 13:45 CET. It continued transmitting from the surface for several hours, even after the Cassini orbiter dropped below the horizon and stopped recording the data to relay them towards Earth. Cassini received excellent data from the surface of Titan for 1 hour and 12 minutes.
More than 474 megabits of data were received in 3 hours 44 minutes from Huygens, including some 350 pictures collected during the descent and on the ground, which revealed a landscape apparently modelled by erosion with drain channels, shoreline-like features and even pebble-shaped objects on the surface.
And here's the audio...The Huygens probe used an on-board microphone to transmit the sounds of the descent on Titan. Scientists hoped to record distant thunderstorms and other weather data as the probe descended on it's parachutes through the cloudy atmosphere of the distant moon. The sounds have been recorded as an MP3 (444Kb): available here (right-click and SAVE LINK). posted by Gary Williams at 1:09 PM | link |
Get Ready for the Largest Demolition Derby on the PlanetScientists say Slow-Motion Collision Near Antarctic Research Station Imminent It is an event so large that the best seat in the house is in space: a massive iceberg is on a collision course with a floating glacier near the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica. NASA satellites have witnessed the 80-mile-long B-15A iceberg moving steadily towards the Drygalski Ice Tongue. Though the iceberg's pace has slowed in recent days, NASA scientists expect a collision to occur no later than January 15, 2005.
Note: Iceberg B-15A is approximately the same size as Long Island NY (!). posted by Gary Williams at 5:20 AM | link |
via HOT AIR: Postal Experiments
Postal Experimentsby Jeff Van Bueren San Francisco, California
Having long been genuine admirers of the United States Postal Service (USPS), which gives amazingly reliable service especially compared with many other countries, our team of investigators decided to test the delivery limits of this immense system. We knew that an item, say, a saucepan, normally would be in a package because of USPS concerns of entanglement in their automated machinery. But what if the item were not wrapped? How patient are postal employees? How honest? How sentimental? In short, how eccentric a behavior on the part of the sender would still result in successful mail delivery?
via Committee to Protect Bloggers
THE COMMITTEE TO PROTECT BLOGGERSThe Committee to Protect Bloggers is devoted to the protection of bloggers around the world. In a host of countries around the world bloggers are routinely imprisoned for their activities. The blogging community should not leave the responsibility for their well-beingin others' hands.
The Committee has four primary spheres of activity.
via Picasa: Create for pictures! Personalized desktop, screensaver, collage, movies
Make picture collages.Select a group of pictures, chose one of the beautiful templates, and Picasa will create a collage that expands your creative horizons. Picture pile it. Make a multi-exposure image. Create a contact sheet. Done? Simply save your collage to a folder, as a new desktop background or as a screensaver.
via Chief Blogging Officer
John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith
If you think it's a walk in the park writing one of these damn things every freaking day -- or, well, almost every freaking day -- guess again. Take today for instance. Please.
For those of you keeping track at
home, the script for PLANETARY
#23 went in last week. It's called
"Percussion", and it's about The
Drummer. It's also about what
Elijah Snow is really up to. #22, by
the way, explains why Elijah hasn't
been telling certain people he has
William Leather in custody -- John
told me the other day that that
issue is at the printers.
I'm into the fourth IRON MAN
script now -- I've been deliberately
staying just a script ahead of Adi
Granov, so I can keep tuning the
script to his strengths as I discover
them. Rich Johnston tells me there's
some stink about the solicitation
schedule on IRON MAN being extended
again, and all I can tell you is that
it's news to Adi and I. Adi's going
slower than he expected because
he's trying to get it right, and I
think maybe I broke him by making
|the first episode 32pp long, but
we're moving along. As I said to Rich,
it sounds like bad information to me.
And the pages are gorgeous.
And to forestall any more email on
the subject: no, there are no second
issues of any of the Apparat books.
I thought you all understood that.
The four books were it. William at
Avatar has tried to get an Apparat
2 out of me, but I don't think I have
it in me right now. I'm just happy I
did it at all, at this point. I haven't
seen the printed books yet, and
feedback was light, but I'm glad
they exist. No matter the source
of their inspiration, they were
original works, and original works
I need to go and see if I can turn
DEAD CHANNEL into a novella now.
Sent from mobile device
probably from the pub
[Judge] Chin found that Pfizer's claims were not just implicitly false or misleading but literally false. He said the clinical studies "were not sufficiently reliable to permit one to conclude with reasonable certainty that Listerine is as effective as floss in fighting plaque and gingivitis," ruled Chin. "What the two studies showed was that Listerine is as effective as floss when flossing is not done properly."posted by Gary Williams at 3:45 AM | link |
The judge was not persuaded by arguments that the tests accurately depicted the fact that many people do not floss properly in the "real world."
"Although it is important to determine how a product works in the real world, it is probably more important to first determine how a product will work when it is used properly," the judge wrote.
In finding that Pfizer's claims were implicitly false, the judge also cited consumer research studies … that showed that, notwithstanding the Pfizer's disclaimers, a large number of consumers who saw Pfizer's ads believed using Listerine could essentially replace flossing.
"Pfizer's ads are clearly suggesting to consumers, through its overall words and images, that if they do not have the time or desire to floss, they can rinse with Listerine instead," Chin found.
I needed an amulet last weekposted by Gary Williams at 3:05 AM | link |
To help me work at my painting studio.
Be a Mad Monk
Thinking of Shih T'ao and Jung Kwang.
How can I be a mad monk
When I am applying for office work
And paying bills?
You may not know what
But you can know that
The old books tell me
As I sit in my kitchen
Scrawling poems in the near dark.
- Tanya Joyce
border-left-width border-top-width border-right-widthand
border-bottom-widthparams, which you have to use with
border:style colorto set the border to solid and — in this case, orange to offset the blue picture — color.
borderclause in front of the side designators — the first time I did it is the second image shown here, with the side designators in front of the
border). Anyways, here's the code:
Hits since taxday 2003
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