Thursday, November 29, 2007

International Cyber Crime Report

Worth downloading... who's behind all the cyber attacks...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Doppler Weather Scans on TV

Be the first on your block to see how it's done in multiple dimensions...

Man Arrested for Shooting Traffic Camera

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Police have lost red-light cameras to traffic accidents but never to gun play. "This is the first one that's been shot," Capt. Gordon Catlett said of the wounded camera at the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Interstate 640 — one of 15 camera-equipped intersections in the city.

Clifford E. Clark, 47, was charged with felony vandalism and reckless endangerment for allegedly firing at least three rounds from a .30-06 hunting rifle at the camera, knocking it out of action.

He was arrested after patrol officers heard shots around 2 a.m. Sunday, spotted a minivan leaving the parking lot of a closed business and pulled it over. Inside they found Clark and the high-powered rifle.

Clark, now facing a $50 fine if convicted and loss of his rifle, refused to say anything about the incident to police, leaving the motive unclear.

Catlett, who oversees the red-light camera program, said 6,798 drivers have been photographed running the red light at Broadway and I-640 and ticketed since the camera was installed in 2006. Clark was not one of them, he said.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Verizon Wireless to Offer Open Access to Network

Verizon Wireless said Tuesday that it will allow any compatible device or software to run on its wireless network as it heeds the industry call for more openness.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Interesting HD-DVD Blog...

This past weekend showed us quite an interesting turn of events in this format war. First on Friday, Wal-Mart "announced" a secret Friday sale of the Toshiba HD-A2 for $98.97. Stores across the nation had between 12 and 40 units (of an older stock of the HD-A2) and sold out within 30 to 60 minutes of store opening at 90% of all store locations.

Next, other retailers like Crutchfield, Circuit City, and Best Buy followed suit by announcing their $99 deals on the HD-A2. Like Wal-mart, these stores sold out the HD-A2 by mid-day Friday.Taking it even further, Best Buy shocked many consumers by offering the Toshiba HD-A3 for $199 with 2 HD titles in the box, 2 free in-store at checkout, and 5 titles via the mail-in rebate.

About 2 hours after the posting of this news, the Best buy online warehouse was in backorder status and half the locations nearest a consumer were sold out of the HD-A3. By nightfall, Best Buys all over the nation were sold out online and in-store. While the sale should have lasted 2 days, the shortage of the units in supply made the sale last less than 12 hours. (Although, if you were lucky enough to find a stray unit you could still purchase the HD-A3 from Best Buy on Saturday for $199).

Not to be out done, Circuit City dropped the price on the HD-A3 on Friday to $199 as well. However, they did not offer the 2-free instore HD DVD titles (just the 2 in the box and the 5 via mail). Of course, news spread quickly and the A3 was sold out at Circuit City in about the same amount of time as it was at Best Buy.

It seems that the magic price point was found...$199! Consumers snatched these players up in 1 business day - disproving the notion that most people hardly know about this technology or let alone even care.This past weekend provided a HUGE blow to Blu-ray in the eyes of this consumer. Blu-ray did nothing to offer any competition to the $199 HD DVD players. Their players remain around $450 (even with the new 40GB PS3 for $399). Having gone into several Best Buys, I saw a total of 2 HD-A30s and 1 HD-A3 - everything else sold out. However, there was plenty of Blu-ray to go around - Samsung, Sony, and Pioneer players up the ying yang at the stores. They were on the floor, in the back, and filling up the stock shelves way at the top of all those HDTVs.While hard to get your hands on one, it seems many consumers have made the choice to get HD DVD. Seemingly 1080p does not matter to the average consumer. They are just stoked that a high-definition player can be had for $199! Perhaps we might see those Blu-ray players come down in price now.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Dynamo and the Computer- A Historical Perspective

Thought provoking article on the difficulties of getting public acceptance of a national power grid and the implications for some internet applications...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Top Ten Off Switches

forwarded by Tim Smith, this one's entertaining...,39029477,49293357,00.htm

Intel to Unveil Chips for Improving Video Quality on the Web

Published: November 12, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 11 — Intel plans to announce a family of microprocessor chips on Monday that it says will speed the availability of high-definition video via the Internet.
Sean Maloney, Intel’s chief sales and marketing officer, said last week that the chips’ increased computing power would begin the transformation of today’s stuttering and blurry videos, the staple of YouTube and other video streaming sites, into high-resolution, full-screen quality that will begin to compete with the living room HDTV.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Roy Wallace: A Meticulous bon vivant

Roy Wallace, who has died aged 80, developed stereophonic sound recording for the Decca company and designed the famous “Decca tree” microphone array which became the standard way across the industry of recording orchestral and operatic sound.

A meticulous man with a mathematical mind, Wallace — Jolly Wally to his friends — was also a bon vivant with an abiding passion for music.

Beginning his career in the days of mono recordings, Wallace’s reputation in the classical music industry enjoyed a late resurgence as 21st-century listeners rediscovered the “hiss” and the “natural” nature of the original recordings, absent in the digital world of CDs.

In the mid-1950s it was Wallace who — in the words of Gramophone magazine — succeeded in convincing the 70-year-old Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet of the benefits of his experimental recording equipment. Ansermet, whose opinion carried enormous weight, was hugely impressed: “Like standing on the rostrum,” he declared.

For Wallace and for Decca, the maestro’s words marked the moment that the stereo era was born.

Roy Victor George Wallace was born on July 7 1927 in London and was drawn to music from the age of eight, although he never received any formal training.

His first job in 1942 was at Radio and Television Engineering, a firm in Clapham that had started making radar equipment and early electrocardiogram machines on premises shared with the local undertaker. The owner, Lawrence Savage, had been involved, with CJ Francis, in BBC experiments with stereo sound just before the Second World War.

In 1947 Savage explained to Wallace the principle of binaural sound (as he called it) and the pre-war experiments he had made.

The early primitive equipment was overhauled so that twin-track discs could be played using a parallel-tracking pickup arm with two crystal stylus heads which were positioned on a gantry. It had been necessary to use 16-inch discs rotating at 33 1/3 rpm in order to get any reasonable playing time.

Wallace then constructed an experimental artificial head into which were placed three crystal microphones – one central and two angled at 70 degrees left and right.

He next designed and built a three-channel sound mixer (which he called ST1) to get the three inputs into two outputs.

By November 1952 Wallace and Savage were able to demonstrate all their gear to Decca.
The chairman of the Decca record company, Edward Lewis, was impressed by what he heard and gave the go-ahead to continue.

He realised that stereo sound was the future and Wallace was asked to join Decca and take over the stereo business. Wallace, by now working at West Hampstead, scrapped all the Francis/Savage workings and began again.

Wallace devised a frequency transposition system, with one channel 50H to 9 KHz, another of 12 KHz to 21 KHz with a carrier/pilot frequency right in the middle from 9-10 ½ KHz.
By November 1953 the new system was working so that it was possible to play Beethoven on one channel and to have pianist Winifred Attwell on the other coming through just one pair of lines into the decoder.

An experimental session took place on December 23 1953 with the conductor Mantovani and his orchestra.

Three Telefunken M49 microphones (left, right and centre) were bolted to a couple of Dexion uprights in the shape of the capital letter T.

The recordings were cut direct to disc as there was no twin-track stereo tape recorder.

The wax acetates were sent to Decca’s factory at New Malden for processing and eventually Wallace was able to demonstrate what had been achieved. The results were thought remarkable and the stereo image fine.

With no stereo mixing desk available Wallace stripped down a standard Decca six-channel mono machine, redesigning and making a stereo mixer with two banks of three inputs. He then built two new power amplifiers in a matter of weeks.

An Ampex 350 series 1 twin-track tape machine arrived late in April and a further experimental session was undertaken to make sure everything worked.

The equipment was taken to Geneva and on May 13 1954 Ansermet recorded Rimsky-Korsakov’s oriental suite Antar with L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

When the recording of the first movement was complete the conductor remarked how thrilled he was with the sound.

Two months later Wallace flew to Basle with James Brown, collected the ST2 mixer and other equipment and set up the stereo gear in Rome.

Three operas, Manon Lescaut, Otello and La traviata, all with Renata Tebaldi, were recorded experimentally.

After sessions in Paris, Geneva and Belgrade, Wallace returned to London to work on two new mixers.

In July and August 1955 Decca recorded Wagner’s Ring plus Der fliegende Holländer under Josef Keilberth at the Bayreuth Festival.

By using six microphones – three for the orchestra and three for the singers, suspended from the lighting bridge about 20 feet above the stage – the sound was fed into the six-channel ST2 mixer.

However, no artists’ contracts were issued and the tapes languished in Decca’s library for more than half a century until Testament began releasing them on CD last year.

Wallace received his 25 years’ service award in 1978 but retired from Decca at the time of the PolyGram takeover in 1980. Roy Wallace married, in 1957, Joyce Irene Pearce, who predeceased him . He is survived by their two daughters.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Joint WiMax Network Dropped

Sprint Nextel, Clearwire DropPlans for Joint WiMax Network

November 9, 2007 7:12 a.m.

NEW YORK -- Sprint Nextel Corp. and Clearwire Corp. announced Friday they are scrapping their agreement to jointly build a nationwide high-speed wireless network based on WiMax technology.

he two companies had signed a letter of intent in July to pursue the partnership, which they had hoped to finalize within 60 days. But Sprint said the two companies couldn't resolve the complexities of the transaction and couldn't reach agreement on the terms of the deal.

People familiar with the matter also cited the departure last month of Gary Forsee as Sprint's chief executive officer as another complication.

The unraveling of their preliminary agreement is a blow to Clearwire. The company, founded by cellphone pioneer Craig McCaw, has staked its future on WiMax, a longer-range cousin of Wi-Fi that can theoretically provide wireless broadband access from laptops and cellphones at speeds comparable to what cable operators provide.

The agreement had called for the companies to share costs on a network that would reach 100 million people by the end of next year, with each side providing roaming rights to the other's customers. Sprint earlier had said it planned to spend about $5 billion on the network through 2010.

Sprint now says it will review its WiMax business plans and expects to comment further on the topic early next year. However, it added that it remains "fully committed to developing WiMax services" and will continue to work together with Clearwire on future wireless opportunities.

Any slowdown in the rollout of WiMax by either Clearwire or Sprint would negatively impact companies that are backing the technology, including chip maker Intel Corp., and equipment makers Motorola Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Some of those companies may try to inject financing into Clearwire to help keep its WiMax project on track, people familiar with the matter said.

In many ways, the companies are natural partners, because they control complementary swaths of radio spectrum around the country and are the only two U.S. carriers pursuing WiMax.

In recent weeks, Sprint's board considered a variety of options with respect to the Clearwire partnership, including the idea of spinning off Sprint's WiMax unit and merging it with Clearwire or bringing in a consortium of strategic investors to help finance the project. Any significant transaction would likely have to wait for Sprint to hire a new CEO, people familiar with the matter say.

The new CEO will have even bigger issues to deal with, including Sprint's hemorrhaging of customers in its core cellphone business. Sprint, which has 54 million customers, is losing market share to larger rivals AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, because of customer-service problems and other issues stemming from its 2005 acquisition of Nextel Communications Inc.

Separately, Clearwire also reported that its third-quarter net loss widened to $329 million, or $2.01 a share, from $60 million, or 61 cents a share, a year earlier, because of a one-time charge of $159 million. Revenue jumped to $41 million from $27 million.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Atlas Sound and IED Announce Merger

New York (November 7, 2007)- Atlas Sound and Innovative Electronic Designs (IED) have merged as of November 1. IED, based in Louisville, KY, creates audio and visual communications management systems and components, while Atlas Sound deals in audio for commercial applications.

"No two companies are closer in culture than IED and Atlas Sound," said Loyd Ivey, founder and CEO of Mitek, parent company of Atlas Sound. "We are merging two dynamic companies, with similar core competencies and similar value systems. The merger will allow us to become a global leader in communications systems.

I am happy to join forces with the crew at IED to become modern day 'Davids' against the global Goliaths of today's communications industry. " Hardy Martin, President of IED stated, "We are very excited to merge IED with Atlas Sound to combine the best practices of both our companies. The manufacturing proficiency of Mitek combined with the integrated audio and visual communications expertise of IED will be an incredible combination. As partners, IED and Atlas Sound can move to the next level of communications systems design."

The two companies will continue to operate independently, with no changes in management, staffing, or daily operations. "It's business as usual," said Martin. "The operation of Mitek matches very well with our philosophies at IED, and we are confident that the merger will be smooth and seamless for our customers." Pat Brown of Syn-Aud-Con commented, "The combined strengths of these two fine companies will enable them to provide sophisticated solutions to the most challenging sound reinforcement applications. This is a win-win for both IED and Atlas Sound."

NSCA Executive Director Chuck Wilson added, "We work in a people-based industry. The quality people that make up Atlas Sound and IED really make this a great venture. Atlas Sound and IED are well situated to help grow the mass notification section of our industry." Andy Musci of Altel Systems said, "I am so thrilled for IED, to combine their innovative and technical expertise with the resources of Atlas Sound.

IED and Atlas Sound are two great American companies." Loyd Ivey added, "We are like minds, joining together for a common goal. IED and Mitek go together like peanut butter and chocolate, a real sweet combination."IED and Atlas Sound will be part of the newly formed Mitek High Performance Communications Group. Mitek Corporation also owns the consumer audio brands MTX, DCM, Coustic, StreetWires, Re-Q and Xtant.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

PCs Being Pushed Aside in Japan

By HIROKO TABUCHI 11.04.07, 4:30 AM ET


Masaya Igarashi wants $200 headphones for his new iPod Touch, and he's torn between Nintendo Co.'s Wii and Sony's PlayStation 3 game consoles. When he has saved up again, he plans to splurge on a digital camera or flat-screen TV. There's one conspicuous omission from the college student's shopping list: a new computer.

The PC's role in Japanese homes is diminishing, as its once-awesome monopoly on processing power is encroached by gadgets such as smart phones that act like pocket-size computers, advanced Internet-connected game consoles, digital video recorders with terabytes of memory.

"A new PC just isn't high on my priority list right now," said Igarashi, shopping at a Bic Camera electronics shop in central Tokyo, who said his three-year-old desktop was "good for now."
"For the cost, I'd rather buy something else," he said.

Japan's PC market is already shrinking, leading analysts to wonder whether Japan will become the first major market to see a decline in personal computer use some 25 years after it revolutionized household electronics - and whether this could be the picture of things to come in other countries.

"The household PC market is losing momentum to other electronics like flat-panel TVs and mobile phones," said Masahiro Katayama, research group head at market survey firm IDC.
Overall PC shipments in Japan have fallen for five consecutive quarters, the first ever drawn-out decline in PC sales in a key market, according to IDC. The trend shows no signs of letting up: In the second quarter of 2007, desktops fell 4.8 percent and laptops 3.1 percent.

NEC (nasdaq: NIPNY - news - people )'s and Sony (nyse: SNE - news - people )'s sales have been falling since 2006 in Japan. Hitachi Ltd. (nyse: HIT - news - people ) said Oct. 22 it will pull out of the household computer business entirely in an effort to refocus its sprawling operations.

"Consumers aren't impressed anymore with bigger hard drives or faster processors. That's not as exciting as a bigger TV," Katayama said. "And in Japan, kids now grow up using mobile phones, not PCs. The future of PCs isn't bright."

PC makers beg to differ, and they're aggressively marketing their products in the countries where they're seeing the most sales growth - places where residents have never had a PC. The industry is responding in two other ways: reminding detractors that computers are still essential in linking the digital universe and releasing several laptops priced below $300 this holiday shopping season.

And, though sales in the U.S. are slowing too, booming demand in the developing world is expected to buoy worldwide PC shipments 11 percent to an all-time high of 286 million in 2007. And, outside Japan, Asia is a key growth area, with second-quarter sales jumping 21.9 percent this year.

Hitachi had already stopped making PCs for individual consumers since releasing this year's summer models, although the Tokyo-based manufacturer will keep making some computers for corporate clients. Personal computers already accounted for less than 1 percent of Hitachi's annual sales.

It's clear why consumers are shunning PCs.
Millions download music directly to their mobile devices, and many more use their handsets for online shopping and to play games. Digital cameras connect directly to printers and high-definition TVs for viewing photos, bypassing PCs altogether. Movies now download straight to TVs.

More than 50 percent of Japanese send e-mail and browse the Internet from their mobile phones, according to a 2006 survey by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The same survey found that 30 percent of people with e-mail on their phones used PC-based e-mail less, including 4 percent who said they had stopped sending e-mails from PCs completely.

The fastest growing social networking site here, Mobagay Town, is designed exclusively for cell phones. Other networking sites like mixi, Facebook and MySpace can all be accessed and updated from handsets, as can the video-sharing site YouTube.

And while a lot of the decline is in household PCs, businesses are also waiting longer to replace their computers partly because recent advances in PC technology are only incremental, analysts say.

At a consumer electronics event in Tokyo in October, the mostly unpopular stalls showcasing new PCs contrasted sharply with the crowded displays of flat-panel TVs.

"There's no denying PCs are losing their spunk in Japanese consumers' eyes," said Hiroyuki Ishii, a sales official at Japan's top PC maker, NEC Corp. "There seems to be less and less things only a PC can do," Ishii said. "The PC's value will fade unless the PC can offer some breakthrough functions."

The slide has made PC manufacturers desperate to maintain their presence in Japanese homes. Recent desktop PCs look more like audiovisual equipment - or even colorful art objects - than computers.

Sony Corp.'s desktop computers have folded up to become clocks, and its latest version even hangs on the wall. Laptops in a new Sony line are adorned with illustrations from hip designers like ZAnPon. NEC is trying to make its PCs' cooling fans quieter - to address a common complaint from customers, it says.

Still, sluggish sales weigh on manufacturers.

NEC's annual PC shipments in Japan shrank 6.2 percent to 2.72 million units in 2006, though overall earnings have been buoyed by mobile phone and networking solutions operations. The trend continued in the first quarter of fiscal 2007 when there was a 14 percent decline from a year earlier.

Sony's PC shipments for Japan shrank 10 percent in 2006 from a year earlier. But it isn't about to throw in the towel - yet.

"We feel we've reached a new stage in PC development, where consumers are looking for user-friendly machines to complement other electronics," said Hiroko Nakamura, a Sony official in Tokyo.

Sony's latest PCs, for example, come with a powerful program that can take photos and video clips and automatically edit them into a slideshow set to music.

Even Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Inc. (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ), whose computer sales and market share are surging in the U.S., has seen Macintosh unit sales in Japan slip 5 percent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2007.

There are other reasons Japan is the first market to see PCs shrink, some analysts say.
"We think of Japanese as workaholics, but many don't take work home," said Damian Thong, a technology analyst at Macquarie Bank in Japan. "Once they leave the office, they're often content with tapping e-mails or downloading music on their phones," he said.

As Hitachi's shuttering of its household PC business demonstrates, making PCs has become less attractive. IBM Corp. (nyse: IBM - news - people ) also left the PC business in 2005, selling its computer unit to China's Lenovo Group Ltd.

But NEC's Ishii is persisting.

"We have to get the message out there that PCs are on top in terms of computing power," he said. "They always will be."

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ultimate Backhanded Compliment?

Online Crooks Target Macs With Porn Ruse

By JORDAN ROBERTSON 11.02.07, 4:09 AM ET

In a backhanded compliment to Apple Inc., online criminals are apparently so impressed with its scorching sales they are sending Macintosh computers an attack typically aimed at machines running Microsoft Corp.'s dominant Windows operating system.

Symantec Corp. (nasdaq: SYMC - news - people ) researchers said the Web sites serving up the new attack also deploy a Windows version.

"For a while Mac users have enjoyed the benefits of being a small enough population that hackers didn't go after them directly - that's obviously now changing," said Ben Greenbaum, senior research manager at Symantec Security Response.

Lynn Fox, an Apple (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ) spokeswoman, said the Cupertino-based company knows about the threat and urges Mac users to be careful about where they download things from.

"Apple has a great track record for keeping Mac OS X users secure, and as always, we encourage people to install software only from trusted sources," she said in a statement.
Online porn-hunters are the intended victim of the latest ploy, in which visitors to certain explicit Web sites are led to believe they're downloading a free video player when in fact they're installing malicious code onto their Macs.

Once the user authorizes the transaction, the fraudsters can redirect his future browsing to fraudulent Web sites and possibly to steal his information or passwords or simply send ads for other pornographic Web sites and rake in advertising dollars.

For example, a person using an infected computer may think he is going to online auctioneer eBay Inc. (nasdaq: EBAY - news - people ) or its PayPal electronic payment division but actually be directed to a site that looks legitimate but exists to purloin personal information.

The attack does not target a vulnerability in the Macintosh operating system.
Instead, it requires a user to approve the download, then enter his computer's administrator's password to continue, operations that raise red flags among sophisticated computer users.
Symantec researchers said the Trojan used in the attack is a rejiggered version of one that's been around for a couple years and requires that victims fall for a social engineering trick to work.

Security researchers at Intego, which makes Macintosh antivirus software and discovered the scheme this week, said it underscores the mounting threats to Mac users as the machines grow in popularity.

Windows machines still dominate the PC market, but Apple, which for years commanded just 2 to 3 percent of the U.S. market, has now grown to command an 8 percent chunk, according to market researcher Gartner Inc. (nyse: IT - news - people )

"This is the first really malicious criminal malware (for Macs)," said Intego spokesman Peter James. "We've seen some proof-of-concept malware, we've seen some worms, but this is different."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Atlas Sound buying IED?

Stay tuned...

Peep Maker Moves Production to China

I'm guessing anyone that handed out candy last night just might not believe the nonsense behind this story. Snickers, Butterfingers, Skittles, Baby Ruths all seem to be individually wrapped...
America Can't Make Peeps Now?

Just Born is taking trick-or-treating to a whole new level. The Bethlehem, Pa., candy company makes marshmallow Peeps, the sugar-crusted baby chicks that are perennial staples of Easter baskets. Now, it's rolling out a Halloween version called "Spooky Friends," formed in the shape of bats, ghosts, spiders and pumpkins.
As an added bonus, they come individually wrapped.
That's the treat. So what's the trick, you ask?
Spooky Friends will be made in China, because Just Born doesn't have the necessary equipment to wrap the candy piece by piece.
Union officials grumbled about the outsourcing to Newhouse News Service. Chinese manufacturers have been the subject of a number of recent consumer recalls, noted Barry Fields, who runs Local 6 of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International.
"They don't have the standards they have in the United States," Fields said. Just Born's response to the news service: "We're very confident in the quality standards."
That's coming from a company that makes green Peeps chicks for St. Patrick's Day. Now, that's spooky.