Blog Smith

Blog Smith is inspired by the myth of Hephaestus in the creation of blacksmith-like, forged materials: ideas. This blog analyzes topics that interest me: IT, politics, technology, history, education, music, and the history of religions.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Linux Hot on the Trail of the OLPC

I've blogged about the inexpensive OLPC but it looks like Wal-Mart and Linux may be the next entry in the low-end laptop field. The company plans to sells a $199 Linux Computer

The "Green gPC"is made by Everex of Taiwan.

The computer does not come with a monitor so there is an additional expense.

Many of us know and love Linux on server computers, and stories of its reliability are not exaggerated. I know people who have set up a web site, and literally forgotten about Linux because it needed no maintenance. On the other hand, a desktop Linux is a rare commodity, I've tried Ubuntu but that is about it.

Comparatively, Linus is not well-represented on the desktop, surveys usually estimate its share of the at around 1 percent, far behind Windows and Apple Inc.'s OS X.

This unit is not barn buster: the gPC has a low-end processor from VIA Technologies, 512 megabytes of internal memory, an 80-gigabyte hard drive, and a combination DVD drive and CD burner.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Is the U.S. the Tortoise or the Hare?

Posted by Picasa

While I consider imperial overreach on the part of the U.S. I wonder if we are not getting stung by our success.

Other countries have faster and cheaper broadband connections while more of their population is connected to a faster Internet.

Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday approved legislation that would develop an annual inventory of existing broadband service--including the types, advertised speeds and actual number of subscribers--available to households and businesses across the nation.

This move by the Committee means that entrepreneurs better move fast before the government slows down progress.

If bright people start applying themselves, before the government begins to thwart progress, broadband would help spur job growth, access to health care, improve education, and promote innovation.

Faster countries include: South Korea, where the average apartment can get an Internet connection that's 15 times faster than a typical U.S. connection, and in Paris, a "triple play" of TV, phone and broadband service costs less than half of what it does in the U.S.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) puts the U.S. at 15th place for broadband lines per person in 2006, down from No. 4 in 2001.

Although the statistics may be criticized by some, and they are, the OECD numbers are in line with other international measures. The numbers are confirmed by British research firm Point-Topic Ltd. which concluded that the U.S. had only 55 percent of its households connected, in short, in 17th place for adoption rates. In comparison, Canada has 65 percent of its households connected to broadband.

As an additional confirmation, Dave Burstein, editor of the DSL Prime newsletter, stated: "We're now in the middle of the pack of developed countries," during a recent debate at the Columbia Business School's Institute for Tele-Information.

In 2004, President Bush called for nationwide broadband access by 2007, to be characterized by a lack of taxes and little regulation. The U.S. is close to Bush's goal.

The Internet is comparatively expensive and slow. Moreover, people are not necessarily plugging in.

One promising area is a new cable modem technology called Docsis 3.0 could allow U.S. Internet speeds to leapfrog those in countries dominated by DSL.

In addition, the country's second largest telecommunications company, Verizon Communications Inc., is spending $23 billion to connect homes directly with super-fast fiber optics.

Even though the new network can match or outdo the 100 megabits per second Internet service widely available in Japan and Korea, Verizon isn't yet selling service at that speed.

We have to do better than 15th.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Islamic "Wall of Separation"

Three groups noted here: No to Political Islam, Institution for the Secularization of Islamic Society, and the International Coalition Against Political Islam, seem to be working along lines that are compatible with Jefferson's "wall of separation" between politics and religion. What is more unusual is that they are attempting to de-politicize Islam, examine the faith critically, and object to having political Islam thrust on people. These seem like groups that could be helpful in opening up dialog between Muslims and non-Muslims. At the very least, it is an alternative to the world's best known Muslim, Osama bin Laden who seems to have his hands full right now pushing an agenda of political Islam.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Africa Wired to the World, Soon

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Africa is not waiting, it is exploding into the Net.

More than a third of Africa's citizens should have access to broadband internet by 2012.

Only about four in 100 Africans currently use the internet, and broadband penetration is below 1%.

One of the high-profile technology leaders active in such moves to increase African access to the Internet is Intel's chairman Craig Barrett.

Africa has experienced the highest growth in mobile use globally, in fact, twice the global average over the past three years.

The result in connectivity will be that ideas can be shared with students in other parts of the world.

The resulting interactions can be exciting and this move has profound implications for education. For the first time, Africans, many of whom have never had a textbook, will be wired to the world.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

More MRAPs On the Way

A Mine Resistant Ambushed Protected (MRAP) prototype vehicle is displayed on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 26, 2007. The MRAP is designed to help protect military troops from mines and improvised explosive devices in Iraq. This prototype is currently being tested in Aberdeen, Md. Defense Dept. photo by William D. Moss

Chalmers Johnson and Blowback

Graphic source: Colonel Daniel Smith, USA (Ret.)

Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, Henry Holt, 2000.

The term "blowback," which officials of the Central Intelligence Agency first invented for their own internal use, is starting to circulate among students of international relations. It refers to the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people. What the daily press reports as the malign acts of "terrorists" or "drug lords" or "rogue states" or "illegal arms merchants" often turn out to be blowback from earlier American operations (p. 8).

The term is useful and should be retained, even if Professor Johnson over reaches in his attempts to portray every world situation involving the U.S., where he has no expertise, as blowback.

I can agree with him on certain points, even outside of his expertise though, the Chilean coup of 1973 is a clear example. The U.S. had no right to intervene in a Chilean internal situation.

The crucial question, now that the U.S. has wrongfully expanded into an empire that intervenes in the domestic policies of other nations, is how it will retract into a defensible position.

Historian Paul Kennedy, in his book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, wrote that the U.S.:

cannot avoid confronting the two great tests which challenge the longevity of every major power that occupies the "number one" position in world affairs: whether, in the military/strategic realm, it can preserve a reasonable balance between the nation's perceived defense requirements and the means it possesses to maintain these commitments; and whether, as an intimately related point, it can preserve the technological and economic bases of its power from relative erosion in the face of the ever-shifting patterns of global production. This test of American abilities will be the greater because it, like Imperial Spain around 1600 or the British Empire around 1900, is the inheritor of a vast array of strategical commitments which had been made decades earlier, when the nation's political, economic, and military capacity to influence world affairs seemed so much more assured (p. 31).

The U.S. is in a similar situation that challenged Imperial Spain around 1600 and the British Empire around 1900. In neither case, did unfolding events work out well for their Empires.

One of our over-stretching areas is the Persian Gulf region, as Johnson notes:

maintaining access to Persian Gulf oil requires about $50 billion of the annual U.S. defense budget, including maintenance of one or more carrier task forces there, protecting sea lanes, and keeping large air forces in readiness in the area. But the oil we import from the Persian Gulf costs only a fifth that amount, about $11 billion per annum (p. 87).

It is more expensive for the U.S. to be fighting in the Persian Gulf than it is to simply import the relatively small amount of oil we receive from the region.

There is a dearth of fresh thinking or preparation in the region and the U.S. seems stuck in military solutions. Johnson opines:

Ten years after the end of the Cold War, the Pentagon monopolizes the formulation and conduct of American foreign policy. Increasingly, the United States has only one, commonly inappropriate means of achieving its external objectives-military force. It no longer has a full repertoire of skills, including a seasoned, culturally and linguistically expert diplomatic corps; truly viable international institutions that the American public supports both politically and financially and that can give legitimacy to American efforts abroad; economic policies that effectively leverage the tremendous power of the American market into desired foreign responses; or even an ability to express American values without being charged, accurately, with hopeless hypocrisy. The use of cruise missiles and B-2 bombers to achieve humanitarian objectives is a sign of how unbalanced our foreign policy apparatus has become (p. 93).

The U.S. has only military actions to offer while long-range solutions are to be found in cultural and educational knowledge.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bring Putin in From the Cold

Putin should be brought in from the cold and the Russians should be investing in regional defense.

I've promoted this view consistently but I understand that today Putin compared the US shield to Cuba and said that the distance between the two countries is similar to the Cuban missile crisis.

The crisis was the closest the world ever came to nuclear destruction.

Fortunately for the world, `the other guy--the Russians--blinked."

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed to dismantle the bases in return for guarantees that Washington would not attack communist Cuba.

Khrushchev had cause for alarm, the Bay of Pigs fiasco for instance.

Kennedy may not have been inclined to support such a foolhardy mission in any case so this was not a major concession, it did however, ensure peace between the two superpowers.

Bush has said there is a "real and urgent" need for a missile shield in Europe as a defense against possible attack by Iran and countries in the Middle East.

Bush is wrong.

And, so wrong in fact, he is missing a major opportunity for the Russians to provide regional security, cut down on U.S. foreign commitments, and, save American tax dollars to boot.

If the rhetoric of the two leaders is to be believed, Bush and Putin, are friends and partners.

EU leaders at a Portugal summit were hoping to settle issues with Russia concerning energy supplies.

The EU depends on Russia for a third of its energy needs and has seen gas supplies disrupted for two successive winters.

The EU is dependent on Russian supplies.

Russia is also surreptitiously exporting illicit drugs but at the conference one issue was settled on raising the quota for Russian steel exports to the EU.

Russia dismissed concerns over human rights in that Russia's envoy to the EU warned that Moscow didn't "want to listen to any lectures".

Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have considered the Kremlin guilty of a worsening human rights record.

The Kremlin also opposes the position of several EU members by opposing independence for the Serbian province of Kosovo. Russia has also criticized moves to impose sanctions on Iran.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pandemic Scenario is Grim Reading

The coming pandemic may be worse than many thought originally.

In a test performed by financial services the potential scenario is more dire than initial estimates.

The statistics are chilling: if a pandemic strikes the U.S., it will kill about 1.7 million people, hospitalize 9 million, and exhaust antiviral medications and reduce basic food supplies.

The financial services disaster scenario informed nearly 3,000 banks, insurance companies, and security firms in a recently concluded largest pandemic test of its kind.

All the scenarios are available for download.

I would think that this makes sobering reading.

The NComputing Alternative

Graphic source: NComputing Inc.

Readers of this blog should be familiar with the OLPC since I've discussed it enough; however, NComputing Incorporated deserves a look.

NComputing is a 30-children-per-desktop solution.

In the past 21 months, the start-up provided low-cost computing to half a million students in 70 countries.

Cost-conscious American schools are NComputing's largest market but more than 60% of its customers are in overseas developing countries such as Brazil, China, India, Thailand and the Philippines.

Macedonia announced plans to provide every one of its 420,000 K-12 students using a combination of PCs running Ubuntu Linux and NComputing's PC-sharing devices.

PCs remain at about the same price as ever but today's desktops are yesterday's mainframes in the NComputing business model.

NComputing provides computer access, or at least it claims to, Windows XP, Linux or Mac boxes for as little as $70 per student. The price of the OLPC has crept up to about $200 in its latest incarnation.

Stephen Dukker, chairman and CEO of NComputing, failed at several ventures as most start-up founders tend to do while paying their dues. Coincidently, and Dukker is not paying me to say this, but one of his previous ventures, as the co-founder and CEO of eMachines Incorporated, put out a great little project, the first sub-$400 PC. I know from personal experience because I have one of those inexpensive but reliable PCs.

At one time eMachines became the third-largest seller of PCs in U.S. stores but the business model did not sustain itself and the company was sold to Gateway Incorporated in 2004.

NComputing was co-founded by a former eMachines colleague of Dukker's.

The trick behind the firm's product is to combine ports for mice and keyboards, as well as installing some NComputing-written management software, and the company produced a device that could take advantage of all the unused processing power in a desktop PC and divvy it up among as many as 30 users.

The NComputing device is inexpensive; it can be manufactured for just $11 for its X300 model, which can support up to seven users, and $35 for the L200 model that can support up to 30 users.

The low-cost allows NComputing to mark up its devices while still keeping prices low and still offering generous margins to distributors and resellers.

NComputing's PC-sharing box is really a thin client or a PC blade device but these items are ordinarily associated with expensive, hard-to-manage devices such as those sold by Wyse Technology Inc., ClearCube Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and IBM.

NComputing sells two basic types of devices. The L series uses Ethernet to support up to 10 users connected to a Windows XP PC, and up to 30 users connected to a PC running Linux or Windows Server 2003. The more popular X series device can connect between four to seven users to the host PC.

The drawback is that in practice the more users are connected, the slower the boxes run, and if one student crashes a machine, they all crash together.

Thanks to a respondent, "John," whose school uses the X300s, I made a corrections because he states that: "Only if the shared computer crashes will the X300s crash" which of course is a big distinction. I appreciate the comment and correction.

Even with NComputing, schools still need software, a keyboard, monitor, and computer mouse for each student. The frugal can scour unused monitors and peripherals to recycle.

NComputing makes a compelling alternative to the altruistic but long-delayed and much bally hooed OLPC.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ivanoe Quote: Sir Walter Scott

Graphic source: Brooklyn College Core Curriculum.

"My heart broke long ago. But it serves me still." Ivanhoe

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Whose Your Mama?

GeneTree, a new genealogy, site uses DNA and social networks to trace ancestors.

The site is initiated by several companies owned by Salt Lake City-based Sorenson Companies. One of the companies operates a genetic database that contains DNA samples from 80,000 people in 170 countries.

GeneTree will expand that database as users send in cheek swabs to be analyzed. The site will use digital video compression technology to let users share pictures and video clips to create interactive digital family trees.

Once an individual submits their DNA it is compared against the database and the company will show people how they connect in he past and the present."

For a cost between $99 and $149, users can submit DNA samples to be matched against dozens of subgroups of DNA. It will then be used to map the global origin of a person's ancestors and digitally show the migration of relatives throughout the world to discover a family's history that may predate written records.

GeneTree will analyze only a piece of a the mitochondrial DNA, which traces a person's family history on his mother's side.

GeneTree does not reveal the names of people born in the past 100 years, to ensure that only the names of deceased people are available

All the information on the site about a person is visible only to that user, unless they opt to share information with family members.

This can potentially be an exciting adjunct to historical investigation and personal family history. The site is worth a look.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bin Laden Whines: Upcoming Celebration of Law

Osama bin Laden whined about his al-Qaida followers in Iraq by stating they have "been lax" for failing to overcome their fanatical tribal loyalties. The enemy may seem to be the U.S. troops but you wouldn't know it from the insurgents.

The obvious disarray among Sunni Arab insurgents and bin Laden's group, both of which are under serious U.S. military pressure, and an uprising among Sunni tribesmen, are troubling Bin Laden.

The insurgents seem incapable of uniting under one banner.

Bin Laden employed the word "ta'assub" — "fanaticism" — to chastise insurgents.

Analysts are still studying this latest released tape but first reports seem to suggest that the tape is authentic.

Bin Laden warned the disunited "against hypocritical enemies who are infiltrating your ranks to create sedition among mujahedeen groups."

Anthony Cordesman, an analyst for Strategic and International Studies, stated bin Laden's message appeared to be note "that al-Qaida needs to be less arrogant and moderate its conduct."

Al-Qaida's attempts to impose Taliban-like Islamic laws in controlled areas as well as its killings of rival tribal figures alienated Sunni Arabs and led them to join a movement opposing al-Qaida.

U.S. troops, led by Major Lee Peters, a military spokesman, said a celebration is planned to include at least 200 Sunni sheiks and hundreds of other dignitaries to commemorate Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, the founder of the anti-al-Qaida group who was assassinated by a bomb September 13.

The sheik's brother stated: "The people felt weak and afraid because of al-Qaida. Now there is a feeling of strength," Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha told The Associated Press. He continued: "This year I want to have a good parade to show that we support the law."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Friedman's Flat World & Education

Graphic source: Wikipedia, original artwork for 1st edition.

In Thomas Friedman's work, the convergence of advanced technologies, new ways of doing business, the removal of economic and political obstructions, and the rapid introduction of millions of young Chinese, Indian, and East European professionals into the world economy has dramatically leveled, or “flattened,” the global playing field.

Into this landscape, Americans with the knowledge, skills, and adaptability to compete in this newly flattened world can look forward to a brighter future, as long as they strive to be knowledge workers, who can then look forward to fulfilling work and a rising standard of living.

But those Americans without a command of higher-level skills, or those whose work can be easily digitized and outsourced, similar to many good-paying manufacturing jobs that went offshore in the 1970s and 1980s, will be in dire straits. Work is outsourced to India, China, Poland, and other countries where labor is cheaper and, perhaps most troubling for American educators, quality is often higher.

Are American children ready to compete and succeed in this new flat world?

Friedman tells his own daughters, “Girls, when I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, ‘Tom, finish your dinner—people in China and India are starving.’ My advice to you is: Girls, finish your homework—people in China and India are starving for your jobs.”

Most revealing are the results of the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS): 44% of 8th graders in Singapore scored at the most advanced level in math, as did 38% in Taiwan; only 7% in the United States did.

The key is to focus on the basics, reading, writing, mathematics, coupled with rigorous national standards and tests. This will never happen but I can dream.

One of the most telling quotes is:

“The sense of entitlement, the sense that because we once dominated global commerce and geopolitics … we always will, the sense that delayed gratification is a punishment worse than a spanking, the sense that our kids have to be swaddled in cotton wool so that nothing bad or disappointing or stressful ever happens to them at school is, quite simply, a growing cancer on American society. And if we don’t start to reverse it, our kids are going to be in for a huge and socially disruptive shock.”

Although Friedman did not intend a work on education, it should give pause to educators. Schools are rule-bound, lack innovation, and simply falling behind the rest of the world.

Friedman's work should be a wake-up call for educators to sound the clarion call for reform.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Confucius on Learning

"Learning without thought is labour lost," Confucius.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Necessity of Academic Tenure

I have never been a big fan of academic tenure because I think it can be abused to encourage sloth but I do understand the necessity of the device.

Academic tenure is primarily intended to guarantee the right to academic freedom: it protects respected teachers and researchers when they dissent from prevailing opinion, openly disagree with authorities of any sort, or spend time on unfashionable topics.

When tenure was institutionalized in German universities there was a genuine need. The danger of governmental interference in thinking was too great to leave to chance. The system seems to have declined since then and it can be a disincentive to promote ground-breaking work.

Without the security of the position, an academic would usually favor tepid topics and safe ideas to pursue. Tenure encourages iconoclastic and original ideas by providing scholars the intellectual autonomy to investigate the problems and solutions about which they are most qualified, and to report their findings in an open, academic setting.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Updating Turkey

An update on the Turkish-Kurdish border situation still seems ominous. I have been following this story because the prospect of the war spilling over and creating greater regional instability. But Pelosi has argued that settling the genocidal issue in Ottoman history is correct. In addition, 70% of supplies enter Iraq for our troops through Turkish bases. The Pelosi crowd is endangering our supply lines to settle questions of Ottoman history.

Good News: Bad News

In the there is some good news, and there is some bad news department, most of the fake bombs smuggled in by plainclothes investigators got through security, but most of the loopholes have been closed by now.

Investigators successfully smuggled 75 percent of the fake bombs through checkpoints at Los Angeles International Airport, and 60 percent through Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. From late 2005 until last fall was the danger period but conditions have changed since then.

The TSA now conducts daily testing, which has led to improvements at airports, as a response to the bad news.

At San Francisco International Airport, where a private company conducts inspections, 20 percent of the contraband made it through security.

None of this really makes me feel any safer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Let's Settle That Old Ottoman Genocide Thing

In what I feel is an ominous move and a situation that is likely to create more instability the Turkish Parliament approved an Iraq mission.

Ankara overwhelmingly approved, by a vote of 507-19, a possible cross-border offensive against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. The Turkish government seems willing though to allow diplomatic pressure to be applied as well by the U.S.-backed Iraqi administration.

If the Turkish military enter Iraq, they will have a one-year time-table.

The rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, has provoked the incursion by Turkey because they have killed Turkish troops and Turkey maintains that the PKK has entered Turkish territory.

President Bush opposes Turkish plans to possibly send a massive number of troops into Iraq.

Bush said Turkey has stationed troops in Iraq "for quite a while."

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan opposed Bush's comments by stating: "What's important is the parliament's decision, not what people say."

Last week the U.S. Congress agreed to a resolution labeling the World War 1-era killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks as genocide

Bush stated: "One thing Congress should not be doing is sorting out the historical record of the Ottoman Empire."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Text of: Did You Know? Shift Happens

Text of Did You Know? 2.0

Did you know?
In the next 8 seconds . . .
34 babies will be born.
[graphic indicating India – 5, China – 4, U.S. – 1]
What will the world be like . . .
. . . for them?
Name this country . . .
· Richest in the world
· Largest military
· Center of world business and finance
· Strongest education system
· Currency the world standard of value
· Highest standard of living
Great Britain. In 1900.
2006 college graduates
[graphic indicating U.S. – 1.3 million, India 3.1 million, China – 3.3. million]
How many 2006 college graduates in India speak English?
[graphic indicating 100%]
In 10 years it is predicted that the number on English speaking country in the world will be . . .
Who would have predicted this 60 years ago? (then 60 is replaced with 40, then 20]
Did you know?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor
1 in 4 workers has been with their current employer less than one year.
1 in 2 workers has been with their current employer less than five years.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that today’s learners will have . . .
10 to 14 jobs . . .
by their 38th birthday
Many of today’s college majors didn’t exist 10 years ago
New media
Organic agriculture
Homeland security
What will they study 10 years from now?
Today’s 21-year-olds have:
Watched 20,000 hours of TV
Played 10,000 hours of video games
Talked 10,000 hours on the phone
And they’ve sent/received 250,000 emails or instant messages
More than 50% of U.S. 21-year-olds have created content on the web
More than 70% of U.S. 4-year-olds have used a computer
Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 million
[graphic indicating Radio – 38 years, TV – 13 years, Internet – 4 years]
Number of Internet devices in 1984: 1,000
1992 – 1,000,000
2006 – 600,000,000
Did you know?
We are living in exponential times
The first commercial text message was sent in December 1992
The number of text messages sent and received today . . .
exceeds the population of the planet
The Internet started being widely used by the general public in early 1995
1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. in 2005 . . .
met online
Revenue for eBay in 2006: $1.7 billion
eBay was founded in 1996
There were more than 2.7 billion searches performed on Google . . .
. . . this month
To whom were those questions directed B.G.?
(Before Google)
MySpace Visitors
[graphic from 0 in 2003 to almost 60,000,000 in 2006]
More than 230,000 new users signed up for MySpace . . .
If MySpace were a country . . .
it would be the 8th largest in the world
YouTube visitors since September 2005
[graphic from 0 in 2005 to well over 100,000,000 today]
Did you know?
There are more than 540,000 words in the English language . . .
about five times as many as during Shakespeare’s time
[graphic with the words: widget, web-surfer, blog, dot-commer, e-learner, Internet]
More than 3,000 books were published . . .
. . . today
The amount of technical information is doubling every two years
By 2010, it’s predicted to double . . .
every 72 hours
Third generation fiber optics has recently been tested that push 10 trillion bits per second down a fiber
That is 1,900 CDs or 150 million simultaneous phone calls every second
It’s currently tripling every six months
The fiber is already there, they’re just improving the switches on the end . . .
which means the marginal cost of these improvements is effectively . . .
Nearly 2 billion children live in developing countries
One in three never completes fifth grade
In 2005 the One Laptop per Child Project (OLPC) set out to provide laptops to these children
The first shipments should be in mid-2007
Kids who have never held a textbook will now hold the world
And be connected . . .
to you
Predictions are that by the time
children born in 2007 are 6 years old,
a supercomputer’s computation capabilities
will exceed
that of the human brain
And while predictions further out than 15 years are hard to do . . .
[graphic indicating 2049]
a $1,000 computer
will exceed the computing capabilities
of the human race
what does this all mean?
[graphic indicating: shift happens]
We are currently preparing students for jobs and technologies that don’t yet exist . . . in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
Did you know . . .
There are students in China, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, and the USA who
[graphic switches from: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, create, communicate, collaborate]
on projects
every day
Ask Your Kids: Are you doing this in school?
Ask Your Principal: How are you helping my child become literate in the 21st century?
Ask Your School Board: Are you providing the resources and training necessary to prepare students to be successful in 21st century society?
Ask Your Elected Representatives: Now that you know all this, what changes should be made to current education legislation?
What’s your vision?
Did you know . . .
The original version of this presentation was created for a Colorado (USA) high school staff of 150 in August of 2006
to start a conversation about what our students need to be successful in the 21st century
By June 2007 it had started more than 5 million conversations around the world
And now that you know, we want you to join the conversation
Did you know?
Developed by Karl Fisch
with assistance from Scott McLeod
Designed by XPLANE
[graphic with Creative Commons copyright notice]

Monday, October 15, 2007

Online Politics: Are They Really Adding Anything New?

I am not sure if Clinton and Obama are really influencing politics online as some pundits have stated.

For example, the Web sites of Senators Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) ran neck-and-neck in August in the battle among presidential candidates for page views, according to The Nielsen Co.

Yet, Clinton continues to dominate the race for most mentions in online blogs which may indicate that Obama does not have the same degree of significance, and he consistently has trailed Hilary in the polls.

According to the blog, which is tracking the Web 2.0 efforts of the 2008 presidential candidates, Obama leads all of the candidates in Facebook and MySpace supporters.

Although online efforts have changed, adding blogs for example since the last time around, unless online efforts reflect the polls more closely or an additional factor of significance is associated with online efforts, I am only seeing the current efforts as an additional space for candidates.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Schopenhauer Quote

Graphic source: Raffiniert.

“All truth passes through three stages.
“First, it is ridiculed.
“Second, it is violently opposed.
“Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Violent Deaths Down Again in Iraq

Graphic source: BBC.

Militarily, the surge works, as evidence, the number of violent deaths in Iraq fell again this week.

This is by no means any long-term solution but the problems are not only with the U.S. military.

An extra 30,000 U.S. personnel have been deployed in Iraq, mainly in and around the capital Baghdad, since the launch of the security drive, in February. The situation is dire though since some fairly well developed breathing room has been extended for the Iraqis, but without anything approaching a legitimate and democratic government.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Russia Should Step Up to the Plate

Graphic source: BBC.

This story should be classified in the `What were they thinking' department.

In the unstable world of today, Russia, China, and India should be stepping up to the plate and if Russia has rejected the American proposal to place anti-missile defenses in Russia that is a good thing.

The only way to greater stability in the Middle Eastern Asian corridor is if these three nations decide that is what they want and they are willing to pay for it. The U.S. has committed itself to two areas, Iraq and Afghanistan, and that is enough. Either the remainder of the world wants to take up its fair share or they have decided the cost is not worth it. In either case, the U.S. should shift towards diplomacy and allowing other nations to pick up the slack.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

U.S. Sticking Its Nose Into Turkish History

All right, since I've been riding the Turkish pony for a bit now I will weigh in on the latest development as well. Turkey recalled their ambassador home from the U.S.

The Turks negatively reacted against the U.S. Congressional draft resolution which labels the 1915-17 mass Armenian killings as genocide. The non-binding vote, passed by 27 to 21 votes by members of the Congressional House Foreign Affairs Committee, is the first step towards holding a vote in the House of Representatives.

The Turks are correct which is troubling.

Congress should not be historians of other countries.

For the time being, the position of Turkey, that there were mass killings in 1915-17 is enough: but, since Turkey denies genocide, the Congress saw fit to interject itself.

That is a mistake.

U.S. President George W. Bush argued against the resolution, saying its passage would do "great harm" to relations with "a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror." He is correct.

The resolution will only irritate the Turks, annoy everyone else, and Congress should not be the arbiter of history.

The resolution can only increase the distrust that Turks have for the U.S. and it will have no positive influence whatsoever.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tilted Turkey towards Islamic conservatism and the resolution comes in the wake of reports that the Turkish parliament would discuss allowing military incursions into northern Iraq, possibly next week.

The vote comes after an escalation in attacks by the terrorist group, the Kurdish PKK which killed almost 30 soldiers and civilians in just over a week.

I see no good in the U.S. voting on the history of another people and I think diplomatic measures would be a far more effective tool. Historians are the ones who have established the Armenian genocide as a fact and the Turkish government has acknowledged this fact. In light of so much instability in the Middle East Turkey has moved towards neutrality about as far as any sovereign nation can. That is enough.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Whither Turkey: Redux

Now that I've recently been considering Turkey, a genuine problem is Turkey's Armenian dilemma. One fact should be kept in mind: Turkey did not always deny the mass killing of Armenians.

Despite outside pressure, or more likely because of it, Turks are more apt to reject proposals by foreigners that state the Turks committed heinous crimes in the past.

The question becomes more pressing as membership, or even a prospective membership in the European Union, is possible.

Not all the Turkish developments are promising, for example, the latest Turkish penal code and its preamble of 2005 make prosecution possible if a person will "insult Turkishness," including the idea that the Ottoman Armenians suffered genocide.

But this was not always the case. Turkish authorities acknowledged the genocide in the immediate aftermath of World War I.

The Ottoman government was in place but only because of the British.

The Ottoman sultan assured the British that those who committed atrocities would be punished and there were four show trials. For example, in 1919 a governor, Mehmed Kemal, was found guilty and hanged for the mass killing of Armenians.

But once the Ottomans were discredited and the British lost interest the trials ended from a lack of zeal in prosecuting war criminals.

The entire Turkish state does not bear personal responsibility since the atrocities against the Armenians were committed by a small number of people in the former Ottoman government.

The new republican government, once in place in October of 1923, was in fact an act of revolutionary defiance against Ottoman power.

Moreover, the Turkish nationalist movement followed an army officer, Mustafa Kemal, who had nothing to do with the Armenian's plight.

The present Turkish government, as long as it remains secular, confident of its place in the world, and wishing to foster closer ties to Europe will remain a beacon of hope in the Middle Eastern region.

Whither Turkey goes in light of recent developments is the critical question for order or greater regional instability.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Whither Turkey?

Graphic source: Burhan Ozbilici/AP.

As Turkey goes so goes the moderate Middle East. Turkey is ready to send troops into Iraq now that Ankara approves possible cross-border military operations to chase Kurds.

In an action that is not going to please the U.S. and will not help lead the Middle East towards stability, the Turkish government is poised to cross the border into Iraq now that Turkish military troops have been killed.

The decision came in a meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and officials from his ruling party.

It is possible that the United States and Iraqi Kurds could take definitive action against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

In the last 10 days, more than two dozen people — including soldiers and civilians — were killed in southeastern Turkey in attacks by PKK rebels. Labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. and the European Union, it has fought government forces since 1984 in clashes that have claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The decision of Turkey is key because if they act hastily this will jeopardize ties with Western allies.

Turkish soldiers targeted suspected escape routes used by fighters and tracked rebels in the Gabar, Cudi, Namaz and Kato mountains in operations that began after 13 soldiers were killed in an ambush Sunday. Two more soldiers died in explosions Monday.

Turks are naturally furious that PKK rebels, labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S., can carry out attacks on Turkish soil and then slip across the border to mountain hideouts in the predominantly Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Turkey can retaliate by closing the border with northern Iraq, hurting the economy of the landlocked region.

Internal Turkish debates center on the problematic relationship that Erdogan’s party has with its opponents. Erdogan has a situation with his own military, which has put the Islamic-rooted government on notice it will not tolerate any effort to undermine Turkey’s secular traditions.

The PKK is branded a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union. Its war with Turkey has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The (Little) Kids Are All Right

Networking is alive and well for 6-year-olds in 'online sandbox' Club Penguin, which from the price of it, is no child's play.

Thousands of children barely old enough to read are already online.

Virtual networking environments aimed at young kids have blossomed into serious businesses, earning millions for their grown-up creators.

In August, none other than The Walt Disney Co. paid $350 million for Canada-based Club Penguin, with a promise of $350 million more if it meets its traffic targets.

Club Penguin claims to have 10 million users, of whom 700,000 have managed to persuade their parents to pay subscriptions of a few dollars a month so they can use virtual money to buy clothes for their penguins and furniture to decorate their igloos.

There are safeguards, appropriate for young children, but these kids seem to have been born with a mouse in their hands.

Club Penguin's biggest rival, Webkinz (Graphic source: Leader, turned a formerly family-owned Canadian company that makes stuffed animals, into a high-tech media firm.

Webkinz has not released sales figures but once word of their shipments of stuffed animals were released parents flooded the stores resulting in sold out signs all over.

All the News That's Fit to Blog

MSNBC Interactive News joined the Web 2.0 innovators with its acquisition of Seattle-based Newsvine Inc., a site that focuses on citizen journalism.

Citizens populate Newsvine which will remain independent of MSNBC, with contributor columns, user profiles, group commenting, and conversation tracking aimed at bringing multiple perspectives to news stories.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Essay by Andrew Roberts, "At Stake in the Iraq War: Survival of a Way of Life"

At stake in the Iraq war: survival of a way of life
By Andrew Roberts, Thu Jul 12, 4:00 AM ET

London - The English-speaking peoples of the world need to unite around their common heritage of values. And they need to sacrifice their naiveté about the true nature of war – and the losses that inevitably go with it. Otherwise, they will lose a titanic struggle with radical, totalitarian Islam.

The reason they are under such vicious attack – my home city of London came within minutes of losing up to 1,000 innocent people in an attempted nightclub bombing two weeks ago – is that they represent all that is most loathsome and terrifying for radical Islam.

Countries in which English is the primary language are culturally, politically, and militarily different from the rest of "the West." They have never fallen prey to fascism or communism, nor were they (except for the Channel Islands) invaded.

They stand for modernity, religious and sexual toleration, capitalism, diversity, women's rights, representative institutions – in a word, the future. This world cannot coexist with strict, public implementation of Islamic sharia law, let alone an all-powerful caliphate.

Those who still view this struggle as a mere police action against uncoordinated criminal elements, rather than as an existential war for the survival of their way of life, are blinding themselves to reality.

Sending signs of surrender
But recent news suggests the blindness is growing. Antiwar sentiment in America is swelling. As key Republicans desert the president, senators are pushing amendments to force the withdrawal of US troops. All this before US Gen. David Petraeus reports on the surge.

Are the English-speaking peoples really about to quit before Islamic totalitarianism has been defeated in Iraq? Are they seriously contemplating handing the terrorists the biggest victory since the Marines' withdrawal from Beirut? It was that surrender in 1984 that emboldened Osama bin Laden to believe that his organization could defeat a superpower. Surrender in Iraq would prove him right.

As a Briton, I cannot help thinking that if the Americans of 1776 had been so quick to quit a long, drawn-out, difficult ideological struggle, America might still be ruled by my country today.

The new British prime minister, Gordon Brown, has dropped the phrases "war on terror" and "Muslim" or "Islamic" terrorism from the government's discussion of what Britons are fighting. Car bombs are going off – we just need to find non-threatening ways to describe them.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, meanwhile, English-speaking forces ignore such pusillanimity and get on with the vital job of fighting those who would turn the Middle East into a maelstrom of jihadist anarchy and terror.

We know that Al Qaeda cannot be appeased, because if they could, the French would have appeased them by now. Al Qaeda is utterly remorseless, even setting bombs (detected by authorities in time) on the Madrid-to-Seville railway line in April 2004, after Spain decided to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

Fortunately, however, the English have been here before. Thrice. Their history provides a number of apposite lessons about how to defeat this latest fascist threat.

Since 1900, the English-speaking peoples have been subjected to four great assaults: first from Prussian militarism, then by Axis aggression, then from Soviet communism. The present assault from totalitarian Islamic terrorism is simply our generation's equivalent of our forefathers' successful struggles against the three earlier fascist threats. But in this fourth and latest contest, victory is not yet in sight.

In researching my book, "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900" – a coda to Winston Churchill's classic – I visited the papers of 200 individuals in 30 archives on three continents. While there, I could not help concluding that this struggle against Islamofascism is the fourth world war. And I was repeatedly struck by how often common themes from the four struggles emerged.

Today's struggle needs to be fought in radically different ways from the last three, of course, but ideologically it is nearly identical. Look at the common factors.

Just as on 9/11, the English-speaking peoples have regularly been worsted in the opening stages of a conflict, often through surprise attack. As Paul Wolfowitz put it at a commencement in June 2001: "Surprise happens so often that it's surprising that we're surprised by it."

Examples include: The 1898 sinking of the USS Maine, the 1899 Boer invasion of Cape Colony, German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II's right hook through neutral Belgium in 1914, the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, North Korea's invasion of its southern neighbor, Gamal Abdel Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956, North Vietnam's decision to begin armed revolution against South Vietnam in 1959, Argentina's 1982 invasion of the Falklands, and Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Almost all were sudden, unexpected, not predicted by the intelligence services, and they left the English-speaking peoples at a disadvantage in the opening stage of the coming conflict.

The next common factor was how badly the English-speaking peoples were faring even up to three or four years into the first three great assaults on their primacy. The most dangerous moment of World War I – at least after Paris had been saved by the Battle of the Marne in 1914 – came as late as March 1918, during Germany's massive spring offensive.

In World War II, Germany's Adolf Hitler seemed to be winning the war both in Russia and the Middle East until September 1942. And had it not been for the Battle of Midway the same year, the Japanese might well have rolled up the entire Pacific theater. Just three years into the cold war – 1948 – Mao Zedong had won control of China, Hungary's Communist opponent József Cardinal Mindszenty had been arrested, and the USSR's blockade of Berlin was in place.

Simply because a victorious exit strategy is not immediately evident in Iraq or Afghanistan today does not invalidate the purpose or value of winning either conflict, as so many defeatists and left-liberal commentators argue so vociferously.

Importance of English camaraderie
The comradeship of the English-speaking peoples during the first three assaults was inspirational. On Aug. 1, 1914 – three days before Britain declared war on Germany, the New Zealand parliament voted unanimously to raise an expeditionary force to join the fight half way around the world, even though Germany posed no conceivable strategic threat to her.

It was a myth that Britain stood alone in 1940. After the successful evacuation of Allied forces at Dunkirk, France, the only two fully armed infantry divisions standing between London and a German land invasion were two Canadian divisions. Although the United States was under no direct threat from the Nazis, she far-sightedly chose to pursue the seemingly counterintuitive policy of "Germany First," even though she had actually been attacked in Hawaii by Japan.

The massive American contribution to victory in World War II has sometimes been ignored during the present bigoted frenzy of anti-Americanism spearheaded by the BBC and liberal newspapers in my country. Yet it is when the English-speaking peoples stand together that they are victorious, and only when they do not – as at Suez and in Vietnam – that they are not.

President Bush's foreign policy is denounced as neoconservative because of its reliance on preemption. Yet was George Canning a neocon when he ordered Admiral Horatio Nelson to destroy the Danish fleet at the Battle of Copenhagen to prevent it falling into Napoleon Bonaparte's hands in 1801? Was Winston Churchill a neocon for having bombarded the Dardanelles Outer Forts in November 1914, before Britain declared war on the Ottoman Empire?

The right of self-protection from such threats is, as the British historian Enoch Powell has pointed out, "inherent in us" since it existed "long before the United Nations was ever thought of."

By far the most justifiable war in recent history is the one in Afghanistan against the Taliban, the government that hosted and protected Al Qaeda when it killed nearly 3,000 innocent people – and attempted to kill many more – on 9/11.

Today the war there is principally being fought by Americans, Britons, Canadians, Australians, and special forces contingents from New Zealand. Germany has confined its troops to the quiet north. French troops guard the Khyber Pass. Much of the rest of NATO has refused to send significant forces to the region. Once again, therefore, the English-speaking peoples find themselves in the forefront of protecting civilization.

We are told that a future US administration led by President Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would be keen to reorient foreign policy toward France and Germany, which might indeed be in America's short-term, passing, commercial interests.

The US should never forget, however, that in those moments when she is looking for true friends, it is the English-speaking peoples who stand shoulder to shoulder with her, not her fair-weather friends.

Above all, however, the American people can take great solace from the fact that they have been in this situation – or something very closely analogous to it – three times before in the last century. And each time, because of their fortitude and their refusal to accept anything less than outright victory, they have prevailed.

• Andrew Roberts is the author of "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900."

Calling for An Islamic State in Australia

Aqeedah is an Islamic term meaning creed. The term has taken a significant technical usage in Muslim history and theology, denoting those matters over which Muslims hold conviction.

A group in Australia has drafted a constitution in which Aqeedah will hold sway.

Article 1
The Islamic ‘Aqeedah constitutes the foundation of the State. Nothing is permitted to exist in the government’s structure, accountability, or any other aspect connected with the government, that does not take the ‘Aqeedah as its source. The ‘Aqeedah is also the source for the State’s constitution and shar’i canons. Nothing connected to the constitution or canons is permitted to exist unless it emanates from the Islamic ‘Aqeedah.

I find it fascinating that Islamic elements see fit to decry the central tenets of Western constitutional law--separation of church and state--for a celebration and a return to medieval Islamic law.

These well-meaning Muslims are the moderates with which Western governments will need to contend with. On the one hand, flourishing because of Western liberal constitutions, Islamic impulses are seeking to dismantle its central tenets.

And in these impulses, I see little difference between them and the Nazi glorification of the past, and how in Weimar Germany for example the Nazis worked to dismantle constitutionalism, in favor of their glorified view of the past, and their distorted vision of the future.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Musharraf Wins in Pakistan But It Matters Little

Not that this election really means all that much but Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf was elected for a third term as president according to unofficial ballot results.

He still faces legal challenges because Pakistan's Supreme Court may rule Musharraf is ineligible to hold office as president. The second runner-up will take office instead, as the constitution stipulates.

Musharraf is facing a great deal of opposition. They demand that Musharraf abandon his position as Pakistan's military chief before seeking another presidential term.

90% of the overall votes are cast for Musharraf but there will be few people who can see it as a credible, normal election when a large number of his political opponents have said they do not want anything to do with it.

As on many points, Pakistan's national security depends on an Islamist, Pashtun-dominated régime according to Michael Scheuer's analysis (Imperial Hubris pp. 54-56) and I believe he is correct.

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Touch of Viagra with your Madera?

Graphic source: Sunbeltblog.

A touch of Viagra served with jurisprudence never hurt anyone I suppose. In a recent hack, the site was hit with Viagra ads before it was taken down according to the Sunbeltblog.

There were no reports if the judges tarried before the site was changed back to its legitimate data.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

UC Berkeley Free on YouTube

The University of California, Berkeley began to offer free course lectures on YouTube and this seems like a helpful addition to free course programs offered by places like MIT.

There are more than 300 hours of videotaped courses.

Berkeley has used open-source video since 2001, when its Educational Technology Services division launched, a local site that now provides course and event content via podcasts and streaming video.

The number of courses available by podcast has increased from 15 to 86.

DHS Spams Classified Data

A DHS email gaffe revealed information, including classified data, on thousands of security pros. A story makes you fell just a little less secure.

A Reply All to a daily news roundup emailed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was sent to around 7,500 people which overwhelmed government and business mail servers with over 2 million messages today.

Marcus Sachs, the director of the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center (ISC), discovered that the DHS was not using a mail list manager, or listserv, such as the open-source Mailman or the free Majordomo, but instead was transmitting the daily report from an e-mail address on a Lotus Domino Release 7.0.2FP1 server hosted by a government contractor.

You can't imagine who would like to have access to American confidential information.

The disclosure issue is illustrated painfully when email recipients received this message: "Subject: Is this being a joke? why are so many messages today? Amir Ferdosi Sazeman-e Sana'et-e Defa' Qom Iran" In a follow-up message, Ferdosi identified himself as a researcher with Iran's Ministry of Defense.

The DHS snafu revealed sensitive contact data to `undesirables.'

Now all that needs to be done is for some nefarious ne'er do well to send a zero-day PDF or Word attachment to the names now available and blast gullible security professionals.

Hackers, phishers and other cybercriminals could not have done any better than revealing the kind of information that was disclosed by the DHS list.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Documented Incident at Hawr Rajab

By mashing YouTube and a text source, Terrorist Death Watch, a quite reliable account of at least this one incident is documented.

The text account states:

An al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) effort to reestablish a position in the southern Baghdad province town of Hawr Rajab was repulsed when concerned local citizens engaged the terrorists with small-arms fire and called in U.S. forces for assistance, Oct. 2.

While two concerned citizens were wounded in fighting and treated at a nearby hospital, four enemy fighters were killed, an additional two wounded, and multiple insurgent weapons destroyed. U.S. forces detained one of the enemy wounded, and transported the other for medical treatment at Camp Cropper.

Events began mid-afternoon, when concerned citizens contacted Multi-National Division Center Soldiers after spotting suspected AQI vehicles in the vicinity of Hawr Rajab. A quick reaction force comprised of Paratroopers from 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry. Division responded to the call for assistance.

The U.S. Soldiers moved into town to find the concerned citizens already engaged in small-arms fire with AQI terrorists hiding in a boys’ school. After the brief engagement, the terrorists were observed fleeing the scene in a blue truck.

An air weapons team was called in to pursue the vehicle and later destroyed the truck and killed four terrorists. The engagement also destroyed two AK-47s and a 23 mm anti-aircraft machine gun in the back of the van.

Numerous calls to tips line by Iraqis in the wake of the incident confirmed the identity of the men as AQI.

Serbian Bomb Threat Thwarted

Graphic source: Herbert Pfarrhofer/EPA

The second of two men were held by Austrian authorities in a plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Vienna.

The pair are Bosnian suspects.

This possible accomplice of Asim C., a 42-year-old unemployed Bosnian, was arrested after he tried to enter the embassy with a backpack containing grenades, plastic explosives and bits of metal.

Next, the police nabbed Mehmed D., 34, and took him into custody.

Both men were citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina who knew each other. Their identities are not fully released, the suspects' last names, because of Austrian privacy laws.

Asim C. was carrying a book which appeared to be a Muslim prayer manual.

I am confused by the position of Doris Edelbacher, chief spokeswoman for Austria's federal counterterrorism office, who played down speculation that the suspects were motivated by radical Islamic ideology.

What else?

Guenther Ahmed Rusznak, a spokesman for Vienna's Islamic community, issued a statement late Monday condemning the incident and rejecting radical Islam.

Mr. Rusznak seems to be taking the reasonable conclusion here.

Last month, three suspected al-Qaida operatives — all Austrian citizens of Arab origin in their 20s — were arrested in connection with a video posted online in March that had threatened Austria and Germany with attacks if they did not withdraw their military personnel from Afghanistan.

One of the suspects was released several days later for lack of evidence. Authorities in Canada, meanwhile, arrested another suspect believed to be linked to the Internet threat.

Microsoft SP1 Update

Microsoft is updating Vista's speed and stability, or so they say, and the company has posted more fixes for the OS, even as SP1 enters beta testing for developers.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Microsoft Alters Search

Graphic Source:

Microsoft has slowly been revealing the next move or two and it looks like for Vista SP1 beta the most important modification is the search option. Microsoft has not widely publicized the move, no doubt because it is in response to an anti-trust decision, but the updated search allows a user to specify which search, such as Google, they would like.

Silicon First, So Who Is On Second?

Silicon Valley is of course the number one tech oriented area in the U.S. but more of a surprise is considering who is number two.

A good guess would be Boston or Seattle but the U.S. Census Bureau's annual American Community Survey (ACS) reveals a metropolitan area's "TQ" (technology quotient). In fact the honor of the second highest concentration of IT professionals is the Washington metro area.

The annual average salary for computer and information systems managers in Silicon Valley as of May 2006 was $139,460, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the D.C. metro area, that figure was $122,950.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Three Socially Conscious Sites

A positive move in organizations is the micro-finance work of Muhammad Yunus at the Grameen Bank. This is a site which chronicles how more than 7 million people have received small loans, which they've used to build small businesses.

Also, many people can benefit financially via the Net, e.g., through kiva or, which provide loans for people with little or no collateral.

Finally, the oversight that Internet-based tools allow are requiring governments to be more accountable. For example, the Sunlight Foundation documents the flows of money and contracts within the U.S. government.

50 Years Ago: An October Surprise

Graphic source: ComputerWorld.

The really amazing thing about the 183-pound aluminum sphere called Sputnik, Russian for "traveling companion" is the enlightened response and collaboration between the government, President Eisenhower specifically, the military, and private researchers. Fifty years ago on 4 October 1957, radio-transmitted beeps from the first man-made object to ever orbit the Earth propelled the U.S. into the Space Age once the "October surprise" woke the country up.

America was a distant second. On 6 December 1957 an American Vanguard rocket that was to be the first U.S. satellite exploded on the launch pad. Dubbed the "Kaputnik," the U.S. lagged behind.

Hence the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), a rambunctious Pentagon office quickly created by President Eisenhower on 7 February 1958. The mission was to "prevent technological surprises," and although dominated by concerns of space, the office also stimulated computer research.

As a boomer, my young life was dominated by nightmares of Soviet domination, a heavy-handed curriculum push towards math and science. Not surprisingly, I studied history instead.

I can hardly imagine a worst grade-school preparation in this regard, and today such an enlightened and unified governmental response would be unthinkable.

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Reading since summer 2006 (some of the classics are re-reads): including magazine subscriptions

  • Abbot, Edwin A., Flatland;
  • Accelerate: Technology Driving Business Performance;
  • ACM Queue: Architecting Tomorrow's Computing;
  • Adkins, Lesley and Roy A. Adkins, Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome;
  • Ali, Ayaan Hirsi, Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations;
  • Ali, Tariq, The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads, and Modernity;
  • Allawi, Ali A., The Crisis of Islamic Civilization;
  • Alperovitz, Gar, The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb;
  • American School & University: Shaping Facilities & Business Decisions;
  • Angelich, Jane, What's a Mother (in-Law) to Do?: 5 Essential Steps to Building a Loving Relationship with Your Son's New Wife;
  • Arad, Yitzchak, In the Shadow of the Red Banner: Soviet Jews in the War Against Nazi Germany;
  • Aristotle, Athenian Constitution. Eudemian Ethics. Virtues and Vices. (Loeb Classical Library No. 285);
  • Aristotle, Metaphysics: Books X-XIV, Oeconomica, Magna Moralia (The Loeb classical library);
  • Armstrong, Karen, A History of God;
  • Arrian: Anabasis of Alexander, Books I-IV (Loeb Classical Library No. 236);
  • Atkinson, Rick, The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (Liberation Trilogy);
  • Auletta, Ken, Googled: The End of the World As We Know It;
  • Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice;
  • Bacevich, Andrew, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism;
  • Baker, James A. III, and Lee H. Hamilton, The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward - A New Approach;
  • Barber, Benjamin R., Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism's Challenge to Democracy;
  • Barnett, Thomas P.M., Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating;
  • Barnett, Thomas P.M., The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century;
  • Barron, Robert, Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith;
  • Baseline: Where Leadership Meets Technology;
  • Baur, Michael, Bauer, Stephen, eds., The Beatles and Philosophy;
  • Beard, Charles Austin, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (Sony Reader);
  • Benjamin, Daniel & Steven Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam's War Against America;
  • Bergen, Peter, The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader;
  • Berman, Paul, Terror and Liberalism;
  • Berman, Paul, The Flight of the Intellectuals: The Controversy Over Islamism and the Press;
  • Better Software: The Print Companion to;
  • Bleyer, Kevin, Me the People: One Man's Selfless Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America;
  • Boardman, Griffin, and Murray, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Roman World;
  • Bracken, Paul, The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics;
  • Bradley, James, with Ron Powers, Flags of Our Fathers;
  • Bronte, Charlotte, Jane Eyre;
  • Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights;
  • Brown, Ashley, War in Peace Volume 10 1974-1984: The Marshall Cavendish Encyclopedia of Postwar Conflict;
  • Brown, Ashley, War in Peace Volume 8 The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of Postwar Conflict;
  • Brown, Nathan J., When Victory Is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics;
  • Bryce, Robert, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence";
  • Bush, George W., Decision Points;
  • Bzdek, Vincent, The Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled;
  • Cahill, Thomas, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter;
  • Campus Facility Maintenance: Promoting a Healthy & Productive Learning Environment;
  • Campus Technology: Empowering the World of Higher Education;
  • Certification: Tools and Techniques for the IT Professional;
  • Channel Advisor: Business Insights for Solution Providers;
  • Chariton, Callirhoe (Loeb Classical Library);
  • Chief Learning Officer: Solutions for Enterprise Productivity;
  • Christ, Karl, The Romans: An Introduction to Their History and Civilization;
  • Cicero, De Senectute;
  • Cicero, The Republic, The Laws;
  • Cicero, The Verrine Orations I: Against Caecilius. Against Verres, Part I; Part II, Book 1 (Loeb Classical Library);
  • Cicero, The Verrine Orations I: Against Caecilius. Against Verres, Part I; Part II, Book 2 (Loeb Classical Library);
  • CIO Decisions: Aligning I.T. and Business in the MidMarket Enterprise;
  • CIO Insight: Best Practices for IT Business Leaders;
  • CIO: Business Technology Leadership;
  • Clay, Lucius Du Bignon, Decision in Germany;
  • Cohen, William S., Dragon Fire;
  • Colacello, Bob, Ronnie and Nancy: Their Path to the White House, 1911 to 1980;
  • Coll, Steve, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century;
  • Collins, Francis S., The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief ;
  • Colorni, Angelo, Israel for Beginners: A Field Guide for Encountering the Israelis in Their Natural Habitat;
  • Compliance & Technology;
  • Computerworld: The Voice of IT Management;
  • Connolly, Peter & Hazel Dodge, The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens & Rome;
  • Conti, Greg, Googling Security: How Much Does Google Know About You?;
  • Converge: Strategy and Leadership for Technology in Education;
  • Cowan, Ross, Roman Legionary 58 BC - AD 69;
  • Cowell, F. R., Life in Ancient Rome;
  • Creel, Richard, Religion and Doubt: Toward a Faith of Your Own;
  • Cross, Robin, General Editor, The Encyclopedia of Warfare: The Changing Nature of Warfare from Prehistory to Modern-day Armed Conflicts;
  • CSO: The Resource for Security Executives:
  • Cummins, Joseph, History's Greatest Wars: The Epic Conflicts that Shaped the Modern World;
  • D'Amato, Raffaele, Imperial Roman Naval Forces 31 BC-AD 500;
  • Dallek, Robert, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963;
  • Daly, Dennis, Sophocles' Ajax;
  • Dando-Collins, Stephen, Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion and the Armies of Rome;
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