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Current Topic: Technology

The Google Backlash
Topic: Technology 10:43 am EDT, Jun 25, 2003

Interesting read on how Google certainly has become a very influential entity and why more and more people are beginning to be disgruntled with it.

s Google's growth provoking a backlash? Industry observers are beginning to think so. A few years ago, they note, it was difficult to find anyone who didn't worship Google, but now many people have a beef with the firm. Some of the complaints are obviously self-serving and maybe even dismissible -- such as those from the Chinese government, say, or the Church of Scientology. But the ire of other groups has more heft. In recent months, the question of how Google should index blogs has become a hot topic online. Google has been attacked by some critics who say the search engine gives blogs too much weight, and others who say it's not giving blogs their due. Then there are webmasters and people in the "search engine optimization" industry, folks whose livelihoods depend on ranking well in Google. With so much riding on the whims of one firm, these people are constantly, pedantically, obsessed with and irritated at Google, sometimes, as in Massa's case, to the point of litigation.

The Google Backlash

Hackers bite Apple in its iTunes
Topic: Technology 8:50 am EDT, May 22, 2003

] Until last week, it appeared that Apple Computer Inc.'s
] iTunes Music Store had solved the problem of how to sell
] music over the Internet with just enough digital security
] to satisfy nervous record labels but not so much as to
] deter consumers from using it.
] But a few enterprising Mac hackers figured out how to get
] more mileage from one of the built-in features of iTunes
] 4, streaming music between Macs on a local network (such
] as a home network).
] Within a week of iTunes 4's introduction, Web sites such
] as and Spymac were offering lists of song
] collections that could be streamed from the hard drives
] of dozens of online Mac users who made their collections
] available.
] Streaming, it should be noted, is distinct from
] downloading. When you stream a file, it's like listening
] to the radio; no file is transferred to your hard drive.
] Many Mac users doing this believed that since they were
] just listening and not downloading, the activity was
] legal.
] Before anyone could start debating the legality of
] streaming, however, other clever hackers devised a way to
] use the sharing function to download songs from one
] another's drives.

Hackers bite Apple in its iTunes

The Lemon: History Of The Internet
Topic: Technology 10:50 am EDT, May 20, 2003

A fairly accurate timeline, er, from some points of view, of the progression that the internet has taken over time.


The Lemon: History Of The Internet

MidAmerican to build Largest Wind Farm in the World
Topic: Technology 7:34 am EST, Mar 26, 2003

MidAmerican Energy Company announced today it plans to build 310 megawatts of wind energy generation facilities in Iowa, the largest land-based wind project in the world.

The project will consist of 180 to 200 wind turbines, each generating approximately 1.5 to 1.65 megawatts. A site has yet to be selected, but the facilities are expected to be located in the northwest or north-central portion of the state. The project also will require investment in associated energy transmission facilities.

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has stated his goal for Iowa to become energy independent and to develop into a national leader in renewable energy. The governor labeled MidAmerican’s announcement a huge step toward achieving both goals. Although wind is an intermittent generation source, 310 megawatts of wind capacity provides enough electricity on average to power approximately 85,000 homes.

“I have challenged regulators, business professionals and utility companies in Iowa to work toward achieving 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2010, which will require the addition of more than 500 megawatts of renewable energy facilities,” Vilsack said. “I am pleased that MidAmerican is taking a leadership role in that effort.”

Now that just plain rocks. It's nice to see some good news these days.

MidAmerican to build Largest Wind Farm in the World

Artificial stupidity
Topic: Technology 8:30 am EST, Feb 26, 2003

All Hugh Loebner wanted to do was become world famous, eliminate all human toil, and get laid a lot. And he was willing to put up lots of good money to do so. He's a generous, fun-loving soul who likes to laugh, especially at himself. So why does everybody dislike him so much? Why does everybody give him such a hard time?

This is a really good article (part 1 of 2) on Hugh Loebner, the founder of the annual Loebner Prize in AI. It's interesting to read about his motivation for it - he doesn't care about science, really, he just wants to sit around and be lazy and let machines do all the work!


Artificial stupidity

Not-so-clean cars
Topic: Technology 2:08 pm EST, Feb 25, 2003

Take the Richmond station, which generates hydrogen fuel by electrolysis, a process that separates water into hydrogen and oxygen. Using technology from Canada-based Stuart Energy, the separation process is powered by electricity. The catch: The electricity comes off the grid.

"You can connect to the grid, or you can connect to renewable sources like wind and solar," says Wanda Cutler, a spokeswoman for Stuart Energy. "The grid is very clean, and you don't necessarily have to make your hydrogen during peak periods."

The grid is very clean? In the United States more than 50 percent of power plants are coal-fired, while renewable sources, like wind, account for less than 2 percent of electrical energy, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"If you take the electricity from the current energy mix in the U.S., then in fact it doubles the CO2 [produced] per mile," says John Turner, a principal scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

Wow. I knew that there had to be some kind of catch to Dubya's endorsement of Hydrogen Fuel-Cell vehicles, but I figured it was along the lines of ADM producing lots of genetically engineered corn to create ethanol. The idea that it will be produced through electrolysis is much worse, since he also rolled back the requirement that power plant add-ons are exempt from clean air laws.

Not-so-clean cars

Hacking democracy
Topic: Technology 8:38 am EST, Feb 20, 2003

The facts Harris and others lay out ought to give many election officials pause. Touch-screen voting machines aren't especially reliable; there are documented cases in which they have frozen, broken down and tabulated incorrectly during actual, binding elections. They're also not immune to hacks. Though voting companies will confidently tell you about their myriad security policies, the fact is that these machines run software, and software can be tampered with: An election result could be changed without anyone being the wiser. And perhaps worst of all, the machines and the companies that make them are shrouded in secrecy. What really happens in a touch-screen machine when you select your candidate? In most cases, everything probably goes as it should -- but there is no way to know for sure.

Perhaps a little leaning towards conspiracy theory, but overall a good look at the problems with purely electronic voting machines - meaning those with no audit trail.

Hacking democracy

The chicken show
Topic: Technology 12:55 am EST, Feb 12, 2003

So when a company that actually made money offered to pay to fly me to Atlanta, put me up in a fine hotel and take me to dinner and then spend a day talking to me in complete sentences that did not contain verbs like "clean," "wake" or "leech," I had but one thought: "Choo-choo-choo, I'm back on the gravy train."

The chicken show

Skycar for Sale
Topic: Technology 3:23 pm EST, Jan 27, 2003

The Skycar is a new type of aircraft, which the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) calls a "powered lift" aircraft. It is designed to carry four average-size passengers and take off and land vertically (VTOL), while being small enough to be driven on the street. It is designed to fly at a top speed of 380 MPH with a range of 900 miles

The prototype Skycar will be placed on eBay at the end of January. Ah, if only those dot bomb stock options had ever paid off like the recruiters said they would...

Skycar for Sale

Radio Free Software
Topic: Technology 9:27 am EST, Dec 18, 2002

Cool story.

For Eric Blossom, founder of the GNU Radio project, the vision plays itself over and over again, like a Möbius film strip. An electrical engineer by trade, Blossom knows better than most the thin barriers that separate one person's garage-door opener from another person's global positioning satellite receiver. He also knows the proprietary barriers that hinder technological innovation. Rather than curse those walls, Blossom has decided to gut the floor plan entirely with the help of free software. Sony, Philips and Nokia be damned.

Radio Free Software

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