Thursday, April 28, 2005

Draw with me - Beauty and Chaos

Here's something addictively useless.
Anyone can go to this page and draw with their cursor. There are a bunch of people there all drawing at the same time.
Called Beauty and Chaos, it leans more toward the chaos side.

Beauty or Chaos?

Eric Deis - Beauty and Chaos Through Time and Space

Motivation for spies

Is this poster supposed to be ironic?

Don't tell anyone about this poster

See this and many more inspirational (if you are inspired by espionage and secrecy) posters at
Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive-Publications Section

Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive-Publications Section

Sensor Dice in a Conscious World

YRP Ubiquitous Networking Labs, a leader in RFID technology also brought out the RFID reader watch. The watch can read and display information about a nearby tag.

From YRL UNL page:

Knowing World

YRP Ubiquitous Networking Labs Unveils Small Active RFID Tags

Today, YRP Ubiquitous Networking Labs unveiled small Active RFID Tags. They are called "Dice" and the size is about 15mm x 15mm x 15mm. Communication range: about 10m.

More info:
- They claim that "Dice" are the smallest active RFID tags in the world
- "Dice" uses the 315MHz frequency band
- If "Dice" communicate every 5 minutes, its battery will last for about 2 years and 3 months.
- "Dice" supports DES encryption
- About 1000 "Dice" tags can be read at once
- "Dice" can be integrated with sensors (for example, an integrated sensor can detect if a baggage is opened
- A pilot test using "Dice" may be done this year (they want to commercialize it soon)
- if manufactured in volume, the price of a "Dice" tag will likely be "lower end of several dollars"

RFID in Japan: YRP Ubiquitous Networking Labs Unveils Small Active RFID Tags

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Now This Looks Fun

Another big walking machine. This one with only two legs. From Japanese company Sakakibara Kikai the Landwalker. It doesn't relly walk, it looks like the big feet have rollers on the bottom. Too bad. It looks like it would be perfect for stomping across a parking lot or something.

You can see some videos of at their website. Unfortunately, for me, it is in Japanese.

Inspired by Starwars, maybe?


Refrigerator to make your garden grow

This is an article about a refrigerator that keeps lighting and humidity in your vegetable drawer so that the vegetables keep growing in there instead of dying.

This is a good idea for refrigerators. I always have trouble eating all the lettuce before it goes soggy.

It is an even better idea for shipping containers. I always hear about the wierd chemicals they use on produce to keep it fresh during its cruise from Honduras or Brazil. Could we come up with a shipping container that keeps the veggies fresh or makes them better?
For that matter, can we just grow vegetables in shipping containers?

Greens get greener in Japan's health-conscious fridge - Yahoo! News

TOKYO (AFP) - The cabbage once destined to turn yellow sitting in the refrigerator can now get even greener instead.
A fridge that enhances Vitamin C and chlorophyll in the food it stores is the latest Japanese invention in a range of "vitamin home electronics" spawned to meet the demands of health-conscious consumers.
What gave birth to the fridge, first launched last September by Mitsubishi Electric, was not so much a technological breakthrough but a change in the way of thinking.

The key is a tiny box which creates orange light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that promote photosynthesis in the greens, which are kept in a partitioned, humid space in the fridge. The company chose a wavelength of 590 nanometers, which looks orange to human eyes.

Mizuno said the choice of wavelength was important as while longer waves which look red are most effective in promoting photosynthesis they also lead to budding and flowering.

The orange light creates chlorophyll in vegetables such as cabbage, making them look greener after several days in the fridge.

And the difference is not only cosmetic. Mitsubishi Electric found that after three days vitamin C rose by 10 percent in broccoli sprouts, compared with a 25 percent drop in conventional fridges.

The vitamin was 14-16 percent higher in cabbages after three days, according to the company's research.

Greens get greener in Japan's health-conscious fridge - Yahoo! News

Swarms of Pebble-size Satellites

The Engineer Online - Space for nodular development
Published: 25 April 2005 09:45 AM
Source: The Engineer

Sensing nodes for use in miniature satellites weighing less than 100g are to be developed in the UK with support from NASA and Surrey Satellite Technology.

Hundreds of such Picosatellites, each less than one cubic centimetre in size, could be used to provide low-cost continuous communication or Earth imaging.

Researchers at Edinburgh and Surrey universities are working with small satellite specialist SSTL and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to develop and test the nodes in a project due to begin this summer.

The System on Chip devices will comprise a processor, sensor, wireless communication link and a power source.
The nodes will be capable of communicating with each other, working together in a network to jointly carry out sensing tasks.

This could allow the picosatellites to form large space telescopes or antennas for high bandwidth communication. In space exploration, constellations of picosatellites could also be placed around the Moon or Mars to provide continuous communication with surface rovers or take images of the planet.

Tughrul Arslan, professor of integrated electronic systems at Edinburgh, said the team will build prototype nodes and test them at JPL in California.

‘One of the key issues for NASA is that these architectures need to be robust, so we are going to test them in various extreme conditions of temperature, radiation, and gas. Power will be a major hurdle to overcome in such small, lightweight devices. But by distributing tasks across the network, the drain on each individual device will be reduced, allowing them to conserve energy,’ said Arslan.

The power requirements of elements such as sensing, processing and communication will be traded-off to direct power to those tasks currently needing most energy, added Dr Tanya Vladimirova, senior lecturer in the Surrey Space Centre at Surrey University.

SSTL will launch the prototype nodes, to allow the researchers to study how the devices perform in space, she said.

The Engineer Online - Space for nodular development

Monday, April 25, 2005

Aerial Taxis About to Take Off

This describes the first commercial attempt at personal taxi model of jet travel. Whether this particular business will succeed remains to be seen. However, advances in low cost jets, fool-proof navigation and high air-traffic control will probably lead to more smaller jets rather than larger aircraft.

Aerial taxis preparing for takeoff
Published: April 25, 2005, 4:00 AM PDT
By Michael Kanellos
Staff Writer, CNET

A plan to shuttle commuters from city to city aboard five- and six-seater aerial taxis could be off the ground by next year.

Starting in mid-2006, DayJet (formerly Jetson Systems) plans to transport people between regional airports in the United States whenever passengers want. Need to get from Palo Alto in Northern California to Bakersfield in the southern part of the state and back the same day? For a moderate premium, DayJet, which calls itself a "per-seat, on-demand" air service, will do it.

The idea is to cater to business travelers who don't want to drive, but who also want to avoid the delays and stopovers that can plague jaunts between secondary cities on conventional airlines.

"This is a transportation system that adapts to your needs," said Ed Iacobucci, founder of software maker Citrix Systems and the man behind DayJet. "It is not about serving New York to Atlanta. It is more about serving the secondary and tertiary markets with a point-to-point network."

On-demand airlines have emerged as one of the buzzwords and potential opportunities in the field of aviation. Last month, at the Flight School conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., People Express founder Donald Burr discussed Pogo Jet, which will provide similar services, while Corporate Clipper will aggregate and book seats on these new types of airlines.

DayJet (and, to a similar degree, its competitors) hope to exploit two technological achievements--lightweight components and scheduling software--to bring down the cost of these type of flights to around 75 cents to $3 a mile, somewhat close to the cost of tickets on conventional airlines today.

The first technological breakthrough is a new type of light airplane that's comparatively inexpensive to manufacture and fly. The Eclipse 500, from Eclipse Aviation, for instance, can hit a maximum speed of 375 knots, carry five or six people (including pilots) and fly for about 300 to 600 miles.

Eclipse 500

The plane will sell for $1.3 million, less than conventional small planes, and weigh less, which cuts down on fuel costs. The advantages in weight and cost come in part from the use of semiconductors to replace many mechanical controls. The two Pratt & Whitney engines that power it measure only about 14 inches long and weigh less than most engines of their type. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is an investor in Eclipse.

DayJet has an order with Eclipse for 239 airplanes, with an option to buy 70 more. The planes will be delivered over a three-year period. The Federal Aviation Administration later this year may determine whether the Eclipse 500 and planes like it can be used for commercial flights. The second milestone lies in software for managing the flights. DayJet has hired Russian mathematicians from Citrix Systems to develop a reservation and scheduling system.

Even if it doesn't sell the other seats, DayJet won't raise the price or force the passenger to buy the unsold ticket.

But DayJet only needs to fill about 1.3 seats on each flight to break even, Iacobucci said.

Iacobucci wouldn't say where service would begin. He did say that within a 600- to 800-square-mile region, DayJet hopes to be able to fly into around 150 airports.

Aerial taxis preparing for takeoff | CNET

Zombie Rats Train for Military Missions

Remote-controlled rats to sniff out explosives
# news service
# Will Knight

An elite squad of real but remote-controlled rats could soon be scouring enemy bases and sniffing out explosives for the US military.

The rodents are directed using a series of brain implants, which can be operated wirelessly from a distance of several hundred metres. Now, for the first time, the researchers behind the project have demonstrated the ability to control the rodents' movements before activating their “sniffer dog” instincts.

John Chapin and colleagues at the State University of New York, US, say the rats could eventually sniff out hidden weapons or act as remote video sensors for military and police forces.

With colleagues from the University of Florida in Gainesville, US, they have previously shown that brain implants can be used to steer the rats over an assault course, or home in on a particular odour. But combining the two tricks is a significant step towards turning them into useful “robo-rodents”.

Whiskers and reward

"It's important to have them switch between behaviours," Chapin told New Scientist. "Obviously, there are a lot of very important potential applications.”

The rats are remotely controlled using electrodes inserted into the medial forebrain bundle (MFB), a part of their brain associated with reward, and the somatosensory cortical area, which is linked to the right and left whiskers.

Stimulating the whisker areas of the brain along with the forebrain reward region encourages the rats to move forwards or either left or right. Exposing the rats to a smell while stimulating the medial forebrain bundle causes them to act like miniature sniffer dogs, following an odour by instinct.

Recent experiments have now shown that these two behaviours are compatible and the rats can be directed to an area before being encouraged to sniff out a target.

Tracking chemical traces

The experiments show that rats trained through direct electrode stimulation of the brain are better at locating an object by smell than those trained using food. Remarkably, the rats remained highly motivated to seek out odours even after six weeks had passed since electrode training.

The rats’ olfactory talents are such that it should be possible to train them to locate explosives or drugs by the tiny chemical traces they emanate, Chapin says.

But, whereas sniffer dogs are trained to crouch down or make some other signal when they locate something, the researchers hope to use brain signals discover when a rat has reached its target, too. Previously they had hoped to monitor the olfactory regions of the brain, but Chapin says monitoring the limbic system within the brain - which shows when the rat thinks it is about to get a reward - is more effective.

The research, which is funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, will appear in a forthcoming edition of the journal Physiology and Behaviour.

New Scientist Breaking News - Remote-controlled rats to sniff out explosives

Ignore this post

No Need to Click Here - I'm just claiming my feed at Feedster

Curried Diamonds


India threatens to dim Antwerp's glitter
By Indrajit Basu

KOLKATA - The winds of change are sweeping across the global rough-diamond industry, a segment that lies at the core of a pulsating US$100 billion-plus jewelry industry. India, considered a rookie in the world of diamond processing until recently, is fast emerging as the epicenter of activity in this regard, and, much to the disbelief of many, is even threatening the global pre-eminence of Antwerp.

According to Hoge Raad Voor Diamant - HRD, or the Diamond Council of Belgium - diamond processing has completely moved away from the Belgian city of Antwerp to Surat in India, "which is the new epicenter", going by the volume of diamonds processed and the number of people involved.

HRD says Surat employs anywhere from 750,000 to 1 million cutters and polishers, who last year processed diamonds worth about $9 billion, an amount which represents approximately 90% of the global production figure. In comparison, Antwerp, which claims to command more than 50% of the world consumption of rough, polished and industrial diamonds, has just about 30,000 diamond processors employed by 1,500 global firms.

"This is a very significant development, and underlines the position of India as both a diamond market and an industrial center," said Peter Meeus, managing director of the HRD. He added that "India is developing into one of the largest jewel and diamond markets in the world".

Antwerp once employed tens of thousands of diamond processors and has commanded the most prominent position in the global diamond trade for centuries. "However, owing to increasing wages and due to the shortage of availability of skilled processors, this number has reduced to about 30,000 distributed across about 1,500 small companies," said Youri Steverlynck, the spokesperson of HRD.

Industry players say this recognition augurs well for India. Having played a marginal role for years - ever since 1960, when India made an entry into diamond processing - Indian jewelry makers are striving hard for a more meaningful role in the global jewelry trade. The next aim then is to reach for the skies; well almost. "Having achieved a predominant position in exporting polished diamonds, our aim is to make India a one-stop shop for jewelry," said Kothari.

And although the dream of becoming a one-stop shop "may appear as wishful thinking to the global jewelry trade", India is already emerging as a preferred sourcing destination for global jewelry marketers, said Kothari. "This is evident from the influx of the retail giants like Wal-Mart, Sears, JCPenny and Ratners that have increasingly hiked their sourcing from Indian manufacturers," he said.
"India in fact can do much more than what Italy, China, Hong Kong and Thailand are doing in the world jewelry market," added the council's ex-chairman, but skeptics say that despite its dominate position in diamond processing, its global jewelry dreams could be stymied by hurdles. To do that, claim sources from the Belgian Association of Polished Diamond Traders, India has to break into a market dominated by America, Israel and China, which is also trying to catch up. If India hopes to lead the market in diamonds, it has to upgrade fast.

There's another problem, said Kothari. "There is considerable shortage of rough diamonds and skilled labor force for jewelry making is also getting scarce," he said. "This is because over the past few years, there is considerable increase in manufacturing capacities not just in India but even in the rough diamond supplying countries which has resulted in more manufacturing capacities than the supply of roughs can meet."

Asia Times Online :: South Asia news, business and economy from India and Pakistan

Friday, April 22, 2005

Home blood analyzer detects cancer

Portable Cancer Detector to Debut Next Year
By Na Jeong-ju
Staff Reporter

A team of Korean scientists has invented a portable medical kit that can detect various types of cancer and diabetes using a few drops of blood.

The craft, named ``Digital Bio Disc'' because it looks like a compact disk (CD) player, is expected to open the way for people to check themselves for diseases without going to the doctor.

The medical sensation is designed to find some elements in the blood related to the illnesses. A fast-moving disk-shaped device in the machine separates the elements and then sends them to a sensor to check if they match genetic information about the diseases. People can see the result through the screen about 40 minutes after putting in their blood, according to researchers.

``All you need is a few drops of blood and some simple knowledge of cancer and diabetes,'' the 40-year-old scientist told The Korea Times. ``Just like operating a CD player, you push the button and wait for a result. But this is just for checking, not for treatment.''

``We plan to release the first batch of the product as early as next year after getting permission for the sale from the government.''

More at...
The Korea Times : Portable Cancer Detector to Debut Next Year

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Planetary Society's Great Comet Crater Contest!

What size hole will the Deep Impact probe blow out of the Tempel-1 comet on July 4?
Probably more than a metre in diameter but maybe less than "violating the natural balance of the universe."

You can make your guess with the Planetary Society. The prize will be much less than $311 million compensation demanded from Russian astrologist Marina Bai.

Enter The Planetary Society's Great Comet Crater Contest!

WORDCOUNT / Tracking the Way We Use Language /

Ranks the most used words in english.
Find out how often your favorite word is used.

Now includes a ranking of words that people search for in wordcount.

WORDCOUNT / Tracking the Way We Use Language /

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Interactive Census Map

Here's a web site to burn a few hours on.
Social Explorer has interactive data maps of census data.
You can see population statistics for the whole country or down to census district size.

Census 2000 Data includes population: age, race, origin, family size, etc
And industry, occupation, employment, income, etc.

I saw this first on

Social Explorer

Mobile phone predicts your future

Zenitum Entertainment Computing, a Seoul based local startup company, announced Wednesday its new mobile entertainment service called “Mobile Face Reading.”
Based on the traditional face reading rule, the service can read fortune out of a face in a photo taken by camera phones. The user needs to take a picture with her camera phone and upload it to the service via MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service).

From the service, users can get a “Whole Year Fortune,” “Romantic Relationship,” “Women-Only Fortune,” “General Everyday Fortune,” and “Erotic Forecasts.” Especially, with one more photo of your lover, the service let you know whether you are made for each other.

zenitum service

“Since the most Asian mobile markets are moving toward to 3G, operators in the countries are eager to adopt new way of entertaining their subscribers with heavy data traffic generation.” He also adds “Soon, Zenitum’s services will generate much profit from these countries.”

Last year, the company established the legal presence in Delaware, USA and looking forward to launch the services for general population in the US, too.

Telecoms Korea

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Online Stargazing

Wired News: Star Hunting for the Rest of Us

When amateur astronomer Tim Puckett pointed his telescope at a distant galaxy and spotted an exploding star known as a supernova, he felt like he had just struck gold.

But then the clouds rolled in, threatening to keep him from taking the follow-up image that he needed to confirm his discovery.

So Puckett did what every tech-savvy space buff would do: He turned to the web.

Soon, he had a telescope in the Canary Islands trained on his star. Puckett snapped a photo, downloaded the image and confirmed that he had indeed discovered a supernova.

It's a feeling that many amateur astronomers may soon experience if a New York-based company called Slooh has anything to do with it.

Slooh runs the web-enabled telescope and digital camera that Puckett and nearly 5,000 other space enthusiasts use to scan the skies. The company owns two telescopes on Mount Teide in the Canary Islands. For $50 a year, subscribers to the company's service can see what Slooh's telescopes see when they point to pre-selected sites. Or, they can reserve five-minute blocks of time on one of the telescopes to gaze at targets on their own.

Paolucci believes Slooh's web-based program removes barriers by giving people cheap access to powerful telescopes located in ideal viewing spots around the world.

"This is what the net is made for," said Paolucci. "The idea of harnessing the power of equipment that people could not otherwise afford and allowing them to co-opt it virtually is the strength of the medium."

Wired News: Star Hunting for the Rest of Us

What's a movement without an icon?

Here's a new symbol for those who are standing up for individual rights of privacy and anonymity.


A symbol of individual rights

Today, the rights of individuals are being eroded: by government, by corporations, by society itself. This icon — the Individual-i — represents the rights of the individual.


It represents the right to privacy and anonymity in the information age. It represents the rights to an open government, due process, and equal protection under the law. It represents the right to live surveillance free, and not to be marked as "suspicious" for wanting these other rights.

It recognizes that a free society is a safe society, and that freedom is founded upon individual rights.

The battle for individual rights is just beginning; our side needs a symbol.

We hope to see this symbol displayed proudly wherever individual rights are valued.

Use the symbol - let people know you want to remain anonymous!

Via BoingBoing:
Boing Boing: Individual-I: a "peace symbol" for individual liberty

Monday, April 18, 2005

Disposable email account is a disposable email account system. Use to avoid giving your personal email address to suspicious websites.

After 24 hours, the email associated with your login name will be cleaned from the system.

Someone ought to make one of these for phone numbers.

yahoo! vs. google

Web page compares the top 100 results of Google and Yahoo for your search.
Graphical presentation lets you click through to search result pages.

Search Comparison

yahoo! vs. google: future studies

Robot Gossip

There is so much news about robots that I decided to start another weblog.

Robot Gossip will be links to recent Robot news and dish without commentary.

If a robot story has wider impact I will link it here too.

Check it out...

Robot Gossip

Silicon Shortage Threatens Solar Cells

Although in the big picture this is probably a small glitch, it still seems important.
Silicon for solar cells price tracking oil price? Maybe there is an oil industry conspiracy.
Investment idea? Who is making the money off the raw polysilicon?

MUNICH (Reuters) - Top solar power executives voiced fears on Wednesday that their industry's stellar growth over the past few years might stall due to a global shortage of polysilicon, the main component of solar cells.

Takashi Tomita of Japan's Sharp, the world's biggest solar-cell maker, warned of what he called a "vicious spiral" in which the market could grind to a halt as rocketing silicon prices meant suppliers could not afford to meet demand.
"I am very worried about it, because a shortage of polysilicon materials would lead to an increase in prices of polysilicon and could ultimately lead to a stagnation of the solar-cell market, said Tomita, chief of solar systems at Sharp.

But prices for solar-grade silicon, which have leapt from around $9 per kilo in 2000 to $25 last year and $60 this month, are threatening to put the brakes on the annual growth rates of 30 to 40 percent the industry has seen since 1997.

Silicon makes up most of the earth's crust, but it is very expensive to purify into forms such as polysilicon that are used in the high-tech industry.

Unlike in 2000 when solar-cell firms could snap up cheap surplus polysilicon no longer required by semiconductor makers after the high-tech bubble burst, the solar industry now has to compete with a healthy electronics sector.

And chipmakers can more easily afford higher prices, because silicon is a far smaller component of chips than of solar cells.

Polysilicon producers, meanwhile, are developing means of making cheaper, solar-grade silicon especially for solar cells, which need not be as pure as that used for semiconductors, but volume production is some years off.

...materials -- largely polysilicon -- account for 80 percent of the production costs of solar cells.

Silicon Shortage Threatens Solar Cells

Tabletop 3D Display

Toshiba Corp. has developed a display technology that allows 3D images to be viewed on a flatbed display. All the various conventional 3D displays developed thus far were upright displays. By switching the way displays are placed, "We can offer the touch of depth with reality," said a company spokesperson.

The article says that human perception makes the tabletop display more effective than 3D on a vertical screen. A veiwer does not imagine a real 3D effect on a vertical screen because in their mind there is infinite space behind the screen, according to the article. But images on a table seem much more natural. The article says, "Toshiba believes that "3D displays will change into a must tool from a favorable function," owing to this reality effect." Which, I guess, means that they expect sales to be good.

3D Display
One object is real, others are display

Toshiba Develops Flatbed 3D Display

Seiko Wristwatch Using E-paper

Seiko Watch Corp and Seiko Epson Corp have developed a wristwatch using an electronic paper in its display, and exhibited it at the BASELWORLD 2005 watch and jewelry show held in Switzerland from March 30, 2005.

Epaper Watch

A 3 x 9 cm electronic paper is curved and embedded along the watch's bracelet-shaped surface. The e-paper displays a constantly-altering mosaic pattern, in addition to the conventional time display.
Through the utilization of its curvable property, innovative designs have become available.

Seiko Watch, Seiko Epson Develop Wristwatch Using E-paper -- Tech-On!

Lick My Screen

Another from we-make-money-not-art:

Two tasty computer interfaces. One dispenses jelly beans depending on memory usage of computer processes. Good idea. Might work also for encouraging people to learn how to use a computer. Give them Skittles every time they save a file or something. Or Solitaire with candy, that would be addictive.

The other is a USB controlled taste dispenser that attaches to the screen. It will drip the tastes down the screen so you can lick them. Like all new interfaces this will probably get popular with porn sites. eeewww.

GUI and Tasty

Edible User Interfaces

True test of AI - Foosball

KiRo - The Table Soccer Robot

So you were impressed with chess-playing robots? Wait until you see this... a robot foosball table (of course the Euros call it "table soccer").

Originally called Kiro:
KiRo is a completely autonomous table soccer playing robot: using a camera it perceives the playing field and, dependend upon the current game situation, it decides how the rods under its control should be moved. KiRo is developed at the institute for computer science of the University of Freiburg and is utilized for research into foundations of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Kiro field of play

According to the website is commercially available now called Starkick.

It works by:
50 times a second KiRo completes a cycle in which it evaluates information coming from the sensors and then decides how to act. It then sends the appropriate commands to the motor controllers.

StarKick Fun

Sounds like its cheating to me. Especially if its in a bar. Nobody can think 50 times a second. I can picture how I would perform against this machine...
drop the click GOAL!!!
wait, I wasn't ready...
drop the click GOAL!!!
Man, I didn't even see it...okay, now I'm ready...
drop the click GOAL!!!
Game Over!
This sucks.

KiRo - The Table Soccer Robot

Welcome to Wondir. Please ask a question.

Does a 15 year old girl with long dirty blond hair bright blue eyes pesrly white teeth and sings like an angle sound hot

I think this may be a trick question. It is probably one of those complicated word problems from math. What data is relevant? Do all people who sing like an angle sound hot? Is that an obtuse or acute angle?

I want hamloaf for my christmas!

I'd like an estimate on an motor mount for 1990 toyota Camery

Should I be afraid of change?
Yes. Send all your spare change to me.

These are only a sample of the impressive intellectual and philosophical questions from

You can ask any question or help to answer.
Seems to be popular with teens who are pregnant or want to know how to get that way.

Welcome to Wondir. Please ask a question.

Directory of open access journals

Searchable directory of open access peer-reviewed journals.

Directory of open access journals

World Jump Day

Save the planet by jumping. Join World Jump Day.

Join to send the planet into a new orbit to stop global warming, extend dailight hours and create a more homogenuous climate.
Scintists from ISA/Munchen Germany habe estimated that it will take a minimum of 600 million people on the western hemisphere to jump at the same time.
Enter your time zone to find out exactly when you need to jump.
The life-saving jump is scheduled for 20 July 2006.
Lets hope that terrorists in the non-western hemisphere don't hear about this and plan an extinguishing counter-jump.

World Jump Day

Friday, April 15, 2005

IBM car tech to nab speeders

For your convenience...

IBM car tech to nab speeders
Published: April 14, 2005, 9:00 PM PDT
By Martin LaMonica
Staff Writer, CNET

IBM has won a $125 million deal that will put "black boxes" in tens of thousands of cars in the United Arab Emirates.

The four-year deal, expected to be announced on Friday, calls for IBM to equip cars and trucks with a telematics device and GPS (Global Positioning System) that will provide information on a vehicle's location and speed to government agencies. It will link tens of thousands of vehicles in a nationwide wireless network. IBM asserts this will be the largest application of telematics--or the marriage of mobile communications and computing--as of yet.

If a driver exceeds the speed limit, a warning will be transmitted to the individual car via an on-board speaker. Autos will also be equipped with screens and voice-recognition software to access services planned for the future, IBM said.

Early prototypes for the tracking device, which is analogous to an airplane's "black box," are expected to be available next year. The plan is to install them in tens of thousands of vehicles by the end of next year, including emergency vehicles and government-owned truck fleets. The country has 2 million residents.

When the four-year contract runs out, IBM intends to compete for the second phase of the project, which will build off the initial infrastructure. The data gathered by the devices can be used not only by the government to monitor traffic habits, but also by commercial companies to offer consumer-related services such as rental cars and hotels.

IBM car tech to nab speeders | CNET

Coldplay Calling

More on ringtone sales.

Ringtones add audio to the pallet of fashion accessories available to the fashion cool.

Like an audio perfume the ringtone allows the cell user to distinguish themselves from the crowd with their subtle display of personal taste.

An article from Technology Review:

Coldplay Calling
By Eric Hellweg April 15, 2005

Fans of British rock band Coldplay take delight in the group's lush, full sound and the keening vocals of front man Chris Martin. Fans of mobile smart phones, though, take great pleasure in personalizing their mini-machines.

This week, the two met, thanks to an exclusive deal between the band and Cingular Wireless. Even though it may be hard for music fans of a certain vintage to believe that rich-sounding music can be channeled through the tiny, tinny speaker of a cell phone, the $209 million market -- which has nearly doubled since last year -- suggests that the mobile masses have few qualms with the sound quality.

When Cingular Wireless launched its new ringtone service this week with the exclusive release of "Speed of Sound", the first Coldplay single from its upcoming album XY, the response from fans was immediate.

"We've been floored," says Mark Nagel, director for entertainment and downloadable services for Cingular. Fans can plunk down $2.49 to purchase a 15-second song snippet that can be used as their phone's ringtone.

Cingular scored a coup by locking up an exclusive deal with one of the most eagerly anticipated bands of 2005 and offering a listen to its latest before any traditional outlets -- radio and MTV.

It's a trend that the wireless industry is happy to accommodate: The Yankee Group estimates that the 2004 market for ringtones in the US was $209 million, up from $117 million in 2003.

Aside from the obvious appeal of the filthy lucre, releasing a song as a mobile ringtone "gets a track to an audience in a direct way," says Andy Volanakis, president and chief operating officer of, a ringtone provider. "On radio you have commercials, clutter, (and) other songs you're competing with. You could argue this is a more direct way to reach a user."

"Bands are starting to see checks coming in from the mobile deals," says Mary Stuyvesant, general manager for entertainment marketing at Infospace. "They want to raise themselves above the noise, and ringtones are a great way to do that."

"People like ringtones," says Barrabee. "The ringtone says something about you. It's making your phone as personalized as possible."

Coldplay Calling

Billboard Top Ten Ringtones

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Personal Robot friend or avatar

Nuvo line of personal robots for the cool.


According to picturephoning you can own one for $5450.

15 inches of fun.



Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The clock that wakes you when you are ready

The clock that wakes you when you are ready
16 April 2005
Emily Singer

The clock, called SleepSmart, measures your sleep cycle, and waits for you to be in your lightest phase of sleep before rousing you. Its makers say that should ensure you wake up feeling refreshed every morning.

As you sleep you pass through a sequence of sleep states - light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep - that repeats approximately every 90 minutes. The point in that cycle at which you wake can affect how you feel later, and may even have a greater impact than how long or little you have slept. Being roused during a light phase means you are more likely to wake up perky.

wake me

SleepSmart records the distinct pattern of brain waves produced during each phase of sleep, via a headband equipped with electrodes and a microprocessor.
and communicates wirelessly with a clock unit near the bed. You program the clock with the latest time at which you want to be wakened, and it then duly wakes you during the last light sleep phase before that.

New Scientist Technology - The clock that wakes you when you are ready

Spirituality, religious practice may slow progression of Alzheimer's disease

MIAMI BEACH – Spirituality and the practice of religion may help slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 57th Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, Fla., April 9 – 16, 2005.

The study assessed 68 people aged 49 to 94 who met criteria for probable Alzheimer's disease. Religiosity and spirituality were measured with the validated Duke University Religion Index and the Overall Self-Ranking subscale from the NIH/Fetzer Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality. These methods collected information on the patients' practices such as attendance at religious events and private religious activities.

"We learned that the patients with higher levels of spirituality or higher levels of religiosity may have a significantly slower progression of cognitive decline," said study author Yakir Kaufman, MD, who conducted the research as a fellow at of the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto, Ontario and is now the director of neurology services at The Sarah Herzog Memorial Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel.

Spirituality, religious practice may slow progression of Alzheimer's disease

Audible Post-it notes

VoiSec - talking notes as easy as can be!

VoiSec is a small - 4 cm - button. It is basically a sound recorder and player which is easy to attach to other objects. It is extremely easy to use and has good sound quality.

VoiSec is a tiny button for recording, storing and playing short spoken messages with a good quality of sound.


Product facts at a glance

*Measures: diameter 42 mm, total height (mounted in tray) 18 mm
*Capacity: 1 minute of speech with a good quality of sound
*Runtime: typically 400 playouts of a 30 seconds message (volume dependant)
*Power supply : 2 replaceable 1.5 volts buttoncell batteries.
*Attachment means: VoiSec is delivered with 1 tray and 5 double-sided adhesive patches.

VoiSec -talking notes made easy

Arts in Space

According to we make money not art the European Space Agency has contracted with a London organization Arts Catalyst to find out how art might enhance life aboard the International Space Station.

"ESA is looking for projects that can be performed by the astronauts, or that deploy the technology of the space station in some way. Arts Catalyst stresses the realities of the space station: artists might want to focus on the bodies and minds of the astronauts themselves - stuck up there for months on end, trying not to go mad - or the unique architecture of the satellite.
In fact, the Arts Catalyst is thinking more of interiors than exteriors. Art is therapeutic for people on earth - why not for cosmonauts?"

It seems to that that this might also be valuable for the long trips anticipated to the moon.

Some astronauts have turned to visual art to help express their deep feelings of their space travels.

Alan Bean Print

Moon-walker astronaut Alan Bean has prints for sale online.

UPDATE: New Torino Scale

A while back I posted a copy of the Torino Scale which rates the risk of an impact by an asteroid. Astronomers recently revised the scale because they thought that it was too alarming to the general public.


The green level changed from, "Events Meriting Careful Monitoring" to "Normal"
The next-higher yellow range changed from "Events Meriting Concern" to "Meriting Attention By Astronomers"

Even the higher threat levels were softened. Level 7 of 10 was "A close encounter with an extremely significant threat of collision capable of causing global catastrophe"
to become the longwinded, "A very close encounter by a large object, which if occurring in this century, poses an unprecedented but still uncertain threat of global catastrophe. For such a threat in this century, international contingency planning is warranted, especially to determine urgently and conclusively whether or not a collision will occur."

An interesting side note on that orange level 7 - it poses and "unprecedented threat". I guess after we get to that level once, the scale has to be re-written again.

[Of course most people would believe that if there is a real threat then the general public will never be told the truth anyway.]

Revised Torino Scale

Orbiting Satellite tow-truck

Successful Design Review Validates the Technical Feasibility of Orbital Recovery Ltd.'s CX-OLEV Space Tug

London, England and Noordwijk, The Netherlands; April 13, 2005 - The ConeXpress Orbital Life Extension Vehicle (CX-OLEVTM) has successfully passed its Baseline Design Review milestone, clearing the way for this innovative space tug's formal offer to customers on operational servicing missions beginning in 2008.

The CX-OLEV will supply the propulsion, navigation and guidance to maintain valuable telecommunications satellites in their proper orbital slots for up to eight additional years. Orbital Recovery Ltd. has identified approximately 70 telecom satellites currently in orbit that are candidates for life extension through 2012 using the CX-OLEV, due to their revenue-generating potential for the customer.

Telecommunications satellites typically cost in excess of $250 million to place in orbit, with an average useful on-orbit life of 10-15 years. Once their on-board propellant has been depleted, the satellites are boosted into a disposal orbit and decommissioned, even though their revenue-generating communications relay payloads are still functional.

Orbital Recovery Ltd.'s CX-OLEV is a new-generation spacecraft that will significantly prolong the operating lifetimes of these valuable telecommunications satellites. Launched aboard the Arianespace Ariane 5 launcher, the CX-OLEV will operate as an orbital "tugboat" - supplying the propulsion, navigation and guidance to maintain even the largest telecom satellite in its proper orbital slot for up to eight additional years.


In addition, the CX-OLEV is able to boost satellites to disposal orbits after the completion of their operational service - which is now becoming mandatory for telecommunications spacecraft operating in geostationary orbit. For operators of satellite fleets, a CX-OLEV could perform the disposal service for multiple spacecraft, remaining in orbit and available on call when needed.

Orbital Recovery Ltd.

Successful Design Review Validates the Technical Feasibility of Orbital Recovery Ltd.'s CX-OLEV Space Tug | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference


This is old but I needed to update mine and I had a hard time finding this page again.

This bookmarklet works for firefox. It adds a toolbar link so that if you are looking at a web page with a ISBN number you click to search the card catalog of your local library.

For example, you are viewing a book in, click, opens a window to show the record in your local library.

I use it all the time.

Jon Udell: LibraryLookup homepage

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Woolly Mammoth Resurrection, Northern Siberia "Pleistocene Park" Planned

Woolly Mammoth Resurrection, "Jurassic Park" Planned
Stefan Lovgren
for National Geographic News

A team of Japanese genetic scientists aims to bring woolly mammoths back to life and create a Jurassic Park-style refuge for resurrected species.The effort has garnered new attention as a frozen mammoth is drawing crowds at the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan

Wooly Mammoth at Aichi Expo

The team of scientists, which is not associated with the exhibit, wants to do more than just put a carcass on display. They aim to revive the Ice Age plant-eaters, 10,000 years after they went extinct.

Their plan: to retrieve sperm from a mammoth frozen in tundra, use it to impregnate an elephant, and then raise the offspring in a safari park in the Siberian wild.

At the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago, woolly mammoths dwindled to extinction as warming weather diminished their food sources, most scientists believe.

There are believed to be ten million mammoths buried in permanently frozen soil in Siberia. Because of the sparse human population in the region, though, only about a hundred specimens have been discovered, including two dozen complete skeletons. Only a handful of complete carcasses have been found.

In 2002 hunters stumbled across the mammoth now on display in Japan. After a period of relatively warm weather, the head of the beast had been left protruding through the snow and ice cover.

The scientists with the Mammoth Creation Project are hoping to find a mammoth that is sufficiently well preserved in the ice to enable them to extract sperm DNA from the frozen remains.

They will then inject the sperm DNA into a female elephant, the mammoth's modern-day counterpart. By repeating the procedure with offspring, scientists say, they could produce a creature that is 88 percent mammoth within 50 years.

Iritani is planning a summer expedition to Siberia to search for more carcasses.

His team has already picked out a home for living mammoths in northern Siberia. The preserve, dubbed Pleistocene Park, could feature not only mammoths, but also extinct species of deer, woolly rhinoceroses, and even saber-toothed cats, he said.

"This is an extension of my work for the past 20 years in trying to save endangered species," Iritani said. [ He added, " But this is only the beginning ah ha ha ha ha." ]

Woolly Mammoth Resurrection, "Jurassic Park" Planned


Type in a word and amaztype will display it as stacks of book (or CD or video) covers from that contain that word.

Reminds me of the floor in my office. Maybe all those piles of books and papers are trying to tell me something.




"Newsmap is an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator. A treemap visualization algorithm helps display the enormous amount of information gathered by the aggregator. Treemaps are traditionally space-constrained visualizations of information."

newsmap 4-12-2005



Maps locations of most google news.

Buzztracker Map 2005-04-12


Monday, April 11, 2005

Is Polish Enough to Fuel Our Cars?

From Dr. Chris:

Isn't polishing usually associated with putting a somewhat superficial finishing touch on something? After I've vacuumed and washed my car I give it a nice layer of polish- BLING!!! I've got on my best suit and a nice tie and I'm ready for my interview but I've got a half an hour to kill so I go and get my shoes polished- BLING!!

With that in mind, I thought the title, "Workforce needs polish, U.S. businesses declare" was a bit of an understatement.
Yahoo! News - Workforce needs polish, U.S. businesses declare

According to this article, some of the minor skills that workers need to brush up on are punctuality, calling in sick when you can't make it to work, and being willing to accept supervision. But otherwise, as long as workers are allowed to do whatever they want whenever they want, there really is no problem. What's the big deal?

I guess this article jumped out at me because I had just finished reading an entire scary chapter in the book "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman describing how India and China are churning out highly skilled, highly educated workers by the hundreds of thousands who are hungry, STARVING for our jobs. With regard to the US he uses the word crisis a lot. I sure as hell don't work very hard. At first all this really freaked me out, but then I got to thinking...and I came up with the perfect invention to solve all our problems...ready?


Its a car that is powered by the driver's sense of entitlement! Now I just have to hire some Indian engineers to work out the technical details (suckers...)

NASA's vegetative state

This is a big part of NASA's problem.
The evil Tom Delay recently added NASA Johnson Space Center to his kingdom during the jerrymandering scheme he pulled off in Texas last year.

DeLay Meets with NASA Administrator Nominee Griffin | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference: "DeLay, Griffin Agree on Bold New Vision for Space Exploration

WASHINGTON - Congressman Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land) yesterday met with President Bush's nominee for NASA Administrator, Dr. Michael Griffin, to discuss the direction of the agency under Griffin's leadership."

NASA, time to pull the feeding tube?

A presentation and white paper from NASA were released last Monday and I have been stewing over them since. I really would like to see NASA succeed in advancing science and exploration but I am mostly discouraged by the useless cover-your-ass nonsense that bubbles from America’s greatest group-think tank. A good subtitle for the “NASA Transformation Whitepaper” would be, “How to prevent organizational change.”

There are numerous examples throughout the plan of efforts to prop up the bureaucracy and keep the organizational budget large. I mention a few brief examples here.

The transformational plan is based on supporting core values of safety, the NASA family, excellence and integrity. These are very good American values. Who could complain about such a noble foundation? These core values in fact would be excellent for, maybe, the Post Office.

For an agency that is supposed to be breaking out into uncharted space and exploring the unknown, one would think that they would have something in their values like Exploration, Innovation, Inspiration, or Leadership.

In a table of “Transformational Efforts” in a “Managing Change” section of the report the first two efforts are “Return to Flight” and “ISS Continuing Flight”. I am sure that the astronauts aboard ISS are appreciative of the transformation of NASA to support them. Without transformation was NASA going to rollover and give up?

One final absurdity. Does this look like fertile ground for innovation? I copy this bullet-point slide directly from the presentation:

We are managing change in an integrated, systematic way
–Establishing new organizational constructs, policies and procedures that reinforce desired ways of operating
–Changes are being formally documented
–Change progress is being tracked and measured
–A formalized communications and feedback process has been established and is being actively utilized throughout the change process

OneNASA - NASA Transformation March 2005 - Internal Presentation
NASA Transformation White Paper | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference

Unique Weather A Factor In Record 2004 Midwest Crop Yields

This article does not give a forecast for 2005 crop yields...

From science Daily:
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- If farmers talk big about 2004 crops as they get ready to head out into the fields this spring, let them talk. Believe them. Last year's crop season saw record yields in every major crop amid the closest-to-perfect weather conditions of the last century, scientists say.
"Never before have corn, soybeans, sorghum, and alfalfa hay all achieved record yields in the same year," said Stanley A. Changnon, chief emeritus of the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) and an adjunct professor of geography at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In Illinois, the average corn yield in 2004 was 180 bushels per acre -- 16 bushels an acre higher than the record set in 2003. Soybean yields was 50.5 bushels per acre, beating a record set in 1994 by five bushels per acre. Record high corn yields also were reported in Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio. Nationally, the corn yield was 160 bushels per acre -- 18 bushels an acre above the 2003 record.
Sophisticated crop-weather models relying on daily temperature and rainfall values of 2004 also did not calculate yields as high as the actual yields. Predictions and model-generated yields were 7 percent to 15 percent lower than final corn yields for the 11 Corn Belt states, and 15 percent to 33 percent lower than final soybean yields of the Midwest.

"The atmospheric circulation pattern during summer 2004 was unusual, but these conditions and their crop impacts are not considered indicative of those expected with a change in climate due to global warming," Stanley Changnon said.

Unique Weather A Factor In Record 2004 Midwest Crop Yields

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Welcome to!

"From the varsity Grill Team"

Welcome to!

Spell with flickr

Enter a word and it is displayed in flickr photos 'font'

Spell with flickr

Google Sightseeing

Why go through the mess of taking off your shoes at the airport?
This blog posts pictures and links to google maps satellite photos of popular landmarks.

Cawker City, Kansas
World's Largest Ball of String

Google Sightseeing

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Thank you, sir. May I please have another?

TheFeature :: Why Mobile Advertising Will Be More Important Than TV Advertising

In a sign that advertisers are finally recognizing that mobile spam doesn't work, one big advertising agency outlines the challenges in making people want to get mobile advertising.

Just as advertisers are realizing that the dream of pushing real-time ads to mobile devices is dying, it appears that a few are recognizing the power of advertising that's pulled by the user, rather than pushed by the advertiser. In fact, some say that user-requested mobile advertising is going to eventually take the place of television advertising.

Andrew Robertson, the recently appointed head of Omnicom's well-known BBDO advertising firm, is talking about how people can now avoid any advertising they don't like -- meaning that any effective advertising has to be something that the user actually wants. "You have no way to interrupt because they can choose what they can do. The opportunity is if you can create some content that they want to engage with, they can do that all of the time from anywhere."

In other words, the whole mindset behind the entire advertising industry needs to change from one that's about getting as many eyeballs on the ad as possible to getting people to actually want to see the ad. It's a huge shift in mentalities, and the mobile Internet is likely to lead the charge. Since mobile devices are something that people carry with them all the time, and are connected to the wider world around them, it's the perfect delivery mechanism -- so long as the ads are requested by the end user.

The mobile device becomes a window onto the the rest of the world for anyone who wants more information. It is not, however, a passive medium to which constant advertising can be pushed, but a tool that people will use
to find specific answer to specific questions. As Robertson says: "we are rapidly getting to the point where the single most important medium that people have is their wireless device. It's with them every single moment of the day." The challenge, which Robertson appears to see clearly, is figuring out a way to include advertising in that context.

It's really not that hard, however. As others struggle to figure out what kind of content people will want to see on their handsets, the answer is often going to be "something that helps them out, right now." That could mean something that's entertaining while there's time to kill or it could mean someone requesting info on the nearest Chinese restaurant (along with any available coupons). Advertising clearly has a place in this medium, but it's in helping the user solve a specific need, rather than trying to alert them to needs they didn't know they had while they're trying to do something else.

TheFeature :: Why Mobile Advertising Will Be More Important Than TV Advertising

For rent locator

Excellent re-use of data here. This web page takes for rent or for sale ads from craigslist and mapping data from google maps and puts them together. You choose city and price range and it plots the locations for you.

I saw this first on boingboing.

Try it out...
Listings - For Rent

Friday, April 08, 2005

Burning Maine

Energy Central News

Good article about the comeback of the wood-burning electricity industry in Maine.

Biomass revival

The article emphasises that government regulations and incentives have controlled the fate of the business. Makes it sound like people would burn their own house down if the government incentives were right.

Biomass energy market red hot
By TUX TURKEL, Portland Press Herald

Three years ago, the fires were going out at Maine's multi-million dollar biomass energy industry.

Most of the 11 plants built across rural Maine in the 1990s to generate electricity from waste wood were off line for months at a time. A couple shut down permanently. By 2002, an industry that had generated enough power to light 250,000 homes, employed hundreds of workers and provided a market for low-grade wood was fighting for its life.

Today, all the surviving plants are running near capacity, or undergoing upgrades worth millions of dollars so they can restart. Developers are planning a new $80 million plant with enough capacity for 40,000 homes, in the same location that a smaller biomass plant was dismantled last year.
"It was unthinkable two years ago that someone would build a new plant," said Stephen Hall, plant manager at Stratton Power Station. "The thought was that nobody's going to build in this industry for a while."
But Hall and other experts caution that the current expansion has limits. These plants swallow more than 1,000 tons of a day of sawdust, waste wood and construction debris, so a reliable supply is critical. Also, developers that once before invested in biomass plants based on projected oil prices and expected public-policy initiatives are weighing the risk of being stung again.

It was public policy that brought Maine a biomass industry in the first place.
Foreign oil embargoes in the 1970s prompted the federal and state governments to pass laws encouraging energy production from renewable resources, such as wood and water. That spurred a new industry in Maine and the construction of more than two dozen biomass plants.
The market changed again in 2000, after Maine restructured its utility industry. Wood-fired power couldn't compete with the wholesale prices available from newly built gas-fired power plants across New England. By 2002, five Maine biomass plants were off line and two had shut for good.
Now the market is being transformed for a third time. Natural gas prices are soaring, taking away the competitive advantage from newer gas plants. Meanwhile, government policies aimed at encouraging the growth of environmentally friendly power plants are once again favoring biomass. One boost came last year from Congress, in the form of a production tax credit for renewable generation.
But the biggest push involves financial incentives recently created in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Several states, including Maine, require that a percentage of power sales comes from renewable energy sources. Because Maine generates more power than it needs, it can ship excess electricity south. Recently, southern New England states have begun to reward generators who can produce renewable power that meets specific guidelines. They are eligible to earn a premium, on top of the price they are paid for the electricity.

Today's biomass operators are looking for every financial edge to make their projects viable. In Athens, selectmen agreed to create a Pine Tree Zone to give GenPower tax advantages for locating there.

State environmental laws allow construction and demolition debris to make up 50 percent of the fuel mix at a modern biomass plant. Maine plants burn demo waste from throughout New England, because it's less expensive than bark and some other wood wastes.

Dave Wilby, executive producer at the Independent Energy Producers of Maine, agreed that no one can predict how the market will evolve. And he suggested that the existence of state-mandated green energy markets is more important to the industry than oil and gas prices.

Original Article from Portland Press Herald

Energy Central News

Related article:
Help for forest industry outlined
By TUX TURKEL, Portland Press Herald Writer

A task force created last year by Gov. John Baldacci to address challenges facing Maine's forest products industry presented its final report Tuesday, recommending a range of tax, policy and business strategies to help make the industry more competitive.

Eminem Tops UK Ringtone Charts

Billboard has been publishing the Top Ten Ringtone Chart since last October or so. I did not realize though, that ringtones are such a big business. This article talks about when pop songs become ringtone hits. I wonder about when ringtones become pop radio hits. Do I hear cross-over magic in the ringtone classic "Nokia Default B - Soft tone"?

Here are some excerpts from an article at

The Ringtone Music Revolution
Submitted by Mike Grenville on Fri, 08 Apr 2005 12:01

A report from mobileYouth says that ringtones will revolutionise the future face of music - a market already worth £150 million and Top of the UK operator Ringtone Chart in February was Eminen again.

New research conducted by mobileYouth reveals that young people in the UK will spend £150 million on ringtones, ring-back tunes and downloading full songs directly onto their mobile phones in 2005, a figure that is set to double to £300 million by 2007.

With CD single sales still in decline, the ringtone looks set to become the number one marketing tool for record companies and artists to launch the CD album. As a result, mobileYouth reports that in future the playback of music on mobile phones will have a significant influence on how music is developed and marketed.
With the global market for ringtones and mobile phone downloads to be worth in excess of £2 billion, the incentive is there for record labels and artists to develop music that will complement its release as a ringtone or real tone. The amount of money spent on mobile phone music downloads will this year account for 16% of the entire amount spent on music. By 2007 this will increase to almost a quarter of all music spend.

mobileYouth believes that the evident popularity of mobile music downloads could yet lead to further implications for the future, as whole genres of music, such as rock and guitar, which do not convert well into ringtones disappear. [Ringtones killed the video star]

160Characters Association

Billboard US Top Ten Ringtones

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Just one more idea about food

Eat The Planet

Space Junk

Conference Announcement:
Fourth European Conference on Space Debris
18-20 April 2005
Darmstadt, Germany

Since 1957, more than 4000 space launches have led to a current population of approximately 13000 trackable objects (i.e. larger than 10 cm) in near-Earth space. Only about 600 - 700 of these are operational spacecraft. The remainder is space debris, i.e. objects which no longer serve any useful purpose. About half of the trackable objects are fragments from explosions, or from the breakup of satellites or rocket bodies. In addition, there is also a much greater number of objects in orbit that cannot be tracked because of their small size.
The purpose of the Fourth European Conference on Space Debris is to provide a forum for the presentation of results from research on space debris, to assist in defining future directions for research, to identify methods of debris control, reduction and protection, and to discuss policy issues, regulations and legal aspects.

To look at the stuff in orbit that is not junk you can go to NASA's J-Track 3D

The site runs from a database of over 500 satellites. It opens a window that shows the postiions of all the satellites. You can zoom in and out on all the little buggers swartmed around ole planet Earth.
Make sure to go to the menu. You can view the path, ground path and get detailed information on any of the satellites.

J-Track 3D

More food news

I guess I am sensitized to food subjects lately.

Here's an article from today's NYT. A company to watch: Senomyx
[NOTE: you can get logins for many sites that require registrations from]

Food Companies Test Flavorings That Can Mimic Sugar, Salt or MSG
Published: April 6, 2005

Several big food and beverage companies are looking at a new ingredient in the battle for health-conscious consumers: a chemical that tricks the taste buds into sensing sugar or salt even when it is not there.
By adding one of Senomyx's flavorings to their products, manufacturers can, for instance, reduce the sugar in a cookie or salt in a can of soup by one-third to one-half while retaining the same sweetness or saltiness.
Unlike artificial sweeteners, Senomyx's chemical compounds will not be listed separately on ingredient labels. Instead, they will be lumped into a broad category - "artificial flavors" - already found on most packaged food labels.
Senomyx, based in San Diego, uses many of the same research techniques that biotechnology companies apply in devising new drugs. Executives say that a taste receptor or family of receptors on the tongue or in the mouth are responsible for recognizing a taste. Using the human genome sequence, the company says, it has identified hundreds of those taste receptors. Its chemical compounds activate the receptors in a way that accentuates the taste of sugar or salt. It is still experimenting to determine the most potent compounds, its chief scientist, Mark Zoller, said.
While food safety experts applaud efforts to reduce salt, MSG and sugar, they expressed concerns about the new chemicals, saying that more testing needed to be done before these were sold in food.

But Senomyx maintains that its new products are safe because they will be used in tiny quantities.

Mr. Synder said that Senomyx's salt enhancers were still in the development phase and would not appear in foods for at least two years. The company's most advanced product, he said, is its replacement for MSG, which last month received safety approval from the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association. He expects food items with this product to appear in supermarkets sometime in the first half of next year.
Since Senomyx's flavor compounds will be used in small proportions (less than one part per million), the company is able to bypass the lengthy F.D.A. approval process required to get food additives on the market. Getting the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association status of generally recognized as safe, or GRAS, took Senomyx less than 18 months, including a 3-month safety study using rats. In contrast, the maker of the artificial sweetener sucralose spent 11 years winning F.D.A. approval and is required to list the ingredient on food labels.
Senomyx responded that in contrast to artificial sweeteners, which are used at levels of 200 to 500 parts per million, its flavorings would be added in such small quantities that they would pose no safety risk. These low-use levels are also what allow Senomyx's chemicals to be classified as artificial flavors.

The New York Times > Business > Food Companies Test Flavorings That Can Mimic Sugar, Salt or MSG

Chaotic Social Upheaval

What caught my attention about this article is the description of future conditions as the peotic 'chaotic social upheaval'. It could be the name of a rock band - CSU.

From UN News Service:
5 April 2005 – Pressure for political change is intensifying within the Arab world and unless Arab governments move much more quickly towards reform they could face chaotic social upheaval and violence, according to a new United Nations-sponsored report released today.

Urging a rapid acceleration of democratic reform, the “Arab Human Development Report 2004” calls for many far-reaching legal and political changes to fortify the institutional foundations of freedom, limit the monopoly on power currently enjoyed by the executive in most countries and ensure an independent judiciary and total free speech.
“In the absence of peaceful and effective mechanisms to address injustice and achieve political alternation, some might be tempted to embrace violent protest, with the risk of internal disorder,” the report, released in Amman, Jordan, warns.
“This could lead to chaotic upheavals that might force a transfer of power in Arab countries, but such a transfer could well involve armed violence and human losses that, however small, would be unacceptable. Nor would a transfer of power through violence guarantee that successor governance regimes would be any more desirable,” it adds.

UN News Service Article


One of the reasons that the connection between diet and health is so difficult to pin down is because of the different responses to food between people.
It is well known that 7 of the top ten causes of disease death can be affected by diet. Examples are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer.
It is also well known that genetics play an important part in how we react to diet. One person may become obese while another remains thin from the same menu.

The combination of these facts has led to the science of nutrigenomics.

From the UC Davis website:
Just as pharmacogenomics has led to the concept of “personalized medicine” and “designer drugs”, so will the new field of nutrigenomics open the way for “personalized nutrition.” In other words, by understanding our nutritional needs, our nutritional status, and our genotype, nutrigenomics should enable individuals to manage better their health and well-being by precisely matching their diets with their unique genetic makeup.

This website has information and links with the latest information in the field.

Welcome to

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Menu Dance

This article describes mobile phones that use body movement to input to your cell phone or portable computer.

Used to be that we would think someone was a little wacko if they walked down the street talking outloud to no one in particular. Now it is quite normal for people to carry on a conversation while walking down the street. But we still stay away from people who talk and wave at invisible things in front of them. I guess we will get used to that too.

Phone Features

'Body talk' could control mobiles
By Jo Twist
BBC science and technology reporter
Building on previous work, researchers at the University of Glasgow have been developing "audio clouds" to control gadgets using movement and sound.
A mobile that responds to movements was launched in Japan last month. [Vodaphone V603SH - ed]
"We hope to develop interfaces that are truly mobile, allowing users to concentrate on the real world while interacting with their mobile device as naturally as if they were talking to a friend while walking."
"If you could do something with your hands, or other gestures you would not have to take it out of your pocket," explained Professor Brewster.

The researchers have developed ways to control gadgets, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) and music players, using 3D sound for output and gestures for input.

For 3D sound, they have been working on bone conductant headphones, which can be placed behind the ears. The sound is transmitted through the ear bone.

BBC NEWS | Technology | 'Body talk' could control mobiles

Monday, April 04, 2005

More on foodraceuticals

I am somewhat skeptical of the claims for wonderous advantages of creating beneficial foods and food supplements. Humans have had a history of accidentally chosing the wrong ingredients for "new and improved" foods and ended up poisoning us all. Is it not true that our current diet of processed foods are to blame for problems of obesity and diebetic epidemics? No one really knows. Lets go ahead and invent some better food since we don't know why the old food is good for us.

These two article both show new evidence that certain foods may naturally help us live longer.
The problem: After spending years researching how to improve the food products a company is not going to encourage people to go ahead and eat un-manufactured food. They will be much more likely to invent a fortified product that has all the benefits of its primitive farm-raised ancestors. But makes more money.

Cranberry juice modulates atherosclerotic vascular dysfunction

Protection against a wide variety of diseases is among the many benefits of a diet high in whole fruits and vegetables. Cranberries over the years have been identified with preventing or ameliorating urinary tract infections and playing a positive role gum disease, ulcers and even cancer.

Recent work shows that cranberries contain naturally derived compounds (antioxidants, flavonoids, and polyphenols) that may help protect against heart disease.

Ingredient in garlic protects against severe chronic pulmonary hypertension in rats

Small daily doses of allicin, the active metabolic in garlic, proved effective in preventing a severe form of pulmonary hypertension in rats, according to a study reported Saturday, April 2 by University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers at the Experimental Biology 2005 meeting in San Diego. The human form of the disease – primary pulmonary hypertension – often leads to cardiovascular complications such as right heart hypertrophy and failure and is frequently lethal.
In a separate but related study also presented at Experimental Biology 2005, in the scientific sessions of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Dr. Ku's team found that garlic treatment also could protect coronary vascular function and lessen the severity of right heart hypertrophy, two of the serious byproducts of chronic pulmonary hypertension.
Garlic has long been thought to have medicinal properties, and reports have suggested that garlic supplementation in humans could help lower blood pressure, decrease ischemic injury, reduce serum cholesterol, inhibit platelet function and enhance thrombolysis.

Organic Diet Makes Rats Healthier

A team of European scientists, including one from Newcastle University, has found in an experiment that rats that ate organic food were much healthier than those that ate conventional diets.
The scientists found that the organically-fed rats enjoyed several health benefits, in that they slept better, had stronger immune systems and were slimmer than rats fed conventional diets.

However, speaking to The Journal newspaper, Dr Brandt said: “What this research shows is that clearly there are links between food and health which is more to do than with just nutrients.
“We used to think that as long as food had adequate nutrients then it was all equally good.
“What this work has shown is that this is not the whole story and we can measure differences and that they are significant. Now we need to understand what is going on.

Zinc supplementation improved mental performance of 7th-grade boys and girls

This article in Eurekalert describes a paper presented to American Society of Nutritional Sciences that showed a significant improvement in performance on tests for seventh graders to added zinc in their diet.
They found that the the young test subjects who recieved the Recommended Daily Allowance of 10 mg per day did not show any benefits while the 20 mg per day subjects showed improvements.

If further studies confirm that the mental function, and in particular memory, of adolescents benefit from increasing zinc intakes, says Dr. Penland, then this and other similar studies would provide information that could be used when revising dietary guidelines for zinc in this age group.

The report suggests that zinc deficiency may be more of a problem in adolescents because of their rapid growth rates and sometimes bad eating habits. It concludes that knowledge of this zinc deficiency could lead to changes in school menus and diet recommedations for teens.

I see a marketing opportunity here. There are plenty of foods that are marketed to kids and to old people but there are few that are targeted to teens to improve their health.
Teens are known to use steroids and muscle-building supplements and many will try anything for acne relief. It seems that it would not be too difficult to tap into teen angst to sell nutraceuticals to them.

Charles Atlas

Zinc supplementation improved mental performance of 7th-grade boys and girls

Food for Thought: Improving Prospects for Functional Foods

Improving Prospects for Functional Foods
Janet Raloff

In the past decade, food and dietary-supplement manufacturers have created a new niche industry—one in which their goods do more than provide nutrition or gustatory pleasure. Designed to promote optimal health and reduce risk of disease, such products have come to be known as functional foods or nutraceuticals.

OJ with meds

Last week, the Chicago-based Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)—a scientific society of researchers in industry, universities, and government—released a report on this nascent industry and concluded that it is "at the threshold of unprecedented influence on public health and disease prevention." However, IFT added, the industry's growth, while rapid, faces major roadblocks to expansion unless the federal government institutes new regulations to streamline the Food and Drug Administration's evaluation of candidates for this novel class of products.

If there were only a few dozen functional foods, manufacturers would probably be content to continue finessing the food-and-supplement regulations. However, the new IFT report notes, waves of these products are about to flood the U.S. market. In addition, the report predicted that the U.S. medical community will become more accepting of functional foods and begin recommending them as adjuncts to conventional medicines, approaching the current attitude of the European medical community.

The report points to three new research disciplines that underlie efforts to develop functional foods.
The first is the study of the interaction of dietary components with genes, a field called nutrigenomics.
The second discipline that's affecting nutraceuticals' development, proteomics, is the study of all proteins that can be produced by a person's genes.
The last field that's boosting interest in functional foods is metabolomics (sometimes called metabonomics), which focuses on cells. Researchers examine how inputs of food, drugs, or potential toxicants affect the health of cells and particular tissues.

Public benefits

Manufacturers aren't the only ones that stand to benefit from an overhauling of how FDA regulates functional foods, the report says. Consumers want to eat healthier but often don't know what health-promoting ingredients to look for or what quantities to eat for optimum benefits. Food labels carrying functional-food claims could become "the foundation for consumer education regarding dietary components for health," the report argues.

Food for Thought: Improving Prospects for Functional Foods, Science News Online, April 2, 2005