Thursday, August 30, 2007

GOP Reeling From Money and Sex Scandals

GOP Reeling From Money and Sex Scandals
GOP Reeling From Money and Sex Scandals
Aug 30 03:13 AM US/Eastern
AP Special Correspondent

WASHINGTON (AP) - When it comes to scandal, Democrats could be forgiven for thinking they hit the political jackpot this summer. At Republican expense.

First came the disclosure that Louisiana Sen. David Vitter's telephone number was listed in the records of an escort service.

Then Sen. Ted Stevens' home in Alaska was raided by federal agents as part of a corruption investigation.

Now Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho is recanting a guilty plea that grew out of a police undercover operation in an airport men's room, adding, "I am not gay" for emphasis.

"This is a serious matter," said

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Vista is Great and Will Suck Less Later

Channel Register

Original URL:

Microsoft promises less-annoying Vista OS early next year

Published Wednesday 29th August 2007 19:26 GMT

A less-annoying version of Windows Vista is still several months away.

This morning, with a post to the official Windows Vista blog (, Microsoft said that the first Vista Service Pack will likely arrive at the beginning of the year, after the usual far-flung beta test. As SP1 betas continue to turn up on file-sharing sites across the web, the company will roll out an official beta "in the next few weeks," hoping to iron out more than few kinks in the little-used operating system.

"In addition to updates we’ve previously released, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability and performance issues we’ve identified via customer feedback, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards," wrote Vista product manager Nick White.

White also said that the update will make "additional improvements to the IT administration experience." But he was adamant - thank goodness - that SP1 would not introduce brand new tools: "We didn't design SP1 as a vehicle for releasing new features; however, some existing components do gain enhanced functionality in SP1."

The official SP1 ship date will depend on how well the beta test goes. "We're targeting releasing SP1 to manufacturing in the first quarter of 2008," White said, "but as always, we're first and foremost focused on delivering a high-quality release, so we'll determine the exact release date of SP1 after we have reached that quality bar."

Of course, Redmond sees no reason for computer users to continue using Windows XP as the company prepares a more reliable version of Vista. "Microsoft encourages organizations not to wait for SP1 but instead [to] deploy Windows Vista today in order to benefit from improved security, management, and deployment benefits," the company told us in a canned statement, after rejecting our request for an interview.

Nonetheless, it seems well aware that most of us will continue to avoid Vista like the plague. Today, the company also announced that a third and final XP Service Pack will arrive by the middle of next year.

"Microsoft will be releasing Windows XP SP3 to customers and partners in the next few weeks and is targeting the first half of 2008 for an RTM release," a spokesman said. "It is a standard practice to release a service pack as a release nears end-of-life for the convenience to our customers and partners. Windows XP SP3 is a roll-up of previously released updates for Windows XP including security updates, out-of-band releases, and hotfixes. It will also contain a small number of new updates."

For more details on Vista Service Pack 1, check out Microsoft's beta white paper ( Interestingly enough, the beta does not appear to include an update to Vista's desktop search interface, which Microsoft promised last month after a legal complaint from arch-rival Google. "The service pack improves the performance of the desktop shell, but it does not provide a new search user interface or a new version of Windows Media Center," the white paper reads. But Shanen Boettcher, a Windows general manager, told Cnet that this would come later in the beta process.

Naturally, as Vista users wait for SP1, Microsoft will continue to offer OS tweaks through Windows Update. "Service packs are part of our traditional software life-cycle; they're something we do for most major products as a commitment to continuous improvement," White wrote. "But, the servicing situation has changed with the advent of Windows Vista, as we no longer rely solely on service packs as the main vehicle used to deploy system fixes and improvements." ®

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More than 15m UK houses now online

More than 15m UK houses now online
Guardian Unlimited - 28 Aug 2007
The number of UK households with internet access has jumped by nearly one million over the past year, with London and the south-west leading the way, official data showed today.
Million more UK homes go online BBC News
More than 60% of homes online This is Money

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Yahoo Does Not Deny Torture of Those it Handed Over to China; Only Legal Blame!!!!

Go to Google News Home

Yahoo Asks Judge to Toss China Torture case
PC World -
11 hours ago
"Yahoo has no control over the sovereign government of the People's Republic of China, the laws it passes, and the manner in which it enforces its laws," ...
Yahoo! seeks dismissal in Chinese dissident case Monsters and
Article:Yahoo seeks dismissal of suit brought by jailed Chinese:/c ... San Francisco Chronicle
Yahoo requests US District Court dismiss China case DM News
Times Online - Washington Post

Turkish Press

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The Internet as Telescreen in China

Internet users in China
Internet users will be reminded not to visit outlawed sites
Chinese authorities are to send two virtual police officers to patrol the internet, in a bid to combat "illicit activities", state media has reported.

The animated figures, a man and a woman, will appear on users' screens every 30 minutes "to remind them of internet security", China Daily said.

They will appear on news portals from Saturday and then on all Beijing sites and forums by the end of the year.

The Chinese government censors all internet and media content.

It blocks content it deems politically or morally threatening, but some users have found ways to circumvent government controls.

'Protect netizens'

The virtual officers will appear either on foot, on motorbikes or riding in a car.

They would "be on watch for websites that incite secession, promote superstition, gambling and fraud", the China Daily said, citing Beijing's Municipal Public Security Bureau.

"It is our duty to wipe out information that does public harm and disrupts social order," the newspaper quoted the bureau's deputy chief of Internet surveillance, Zhao Hongzhi, as saying.

He said the virtual police officers would protect "netizens" from harm.

Users will be able to click on the icons to connect to the bureau's Internet Surveillance Centre, where they can report illegal activities, Mr Zhao said.

China has experienced an internet boom in recent years. It is thought there are more than 120 million web surfers, a figure second only to the US.

The Chinese government has tens of thousands of real security officers monitoring the web and it regularly jails activists who have posted online messages criticising the government.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Malta's Near Sourcing Boom

Malta woos technology wanderers
By Michael Dempsey
Business reporter, BBC News

Malta's harbour walls
Malta's ancient defences no longer deter outside interests
Keyboards click away as a small team of software programmers devise intricate lines of code that will create another computer code for far-flung clients in the global economy.

The digital world may have banished geographical boundaries, but not all outsourcing projects are located thousands of miles from Europe.

The work that will allow Lloyds Register to sell on a new maritime maintenance service is being carried out in Malta, an island nation of 400,000 people that joined the EU in 2004 - and is winning work due to corporate disillusionment with the trend towards outsourcing such projects to Asia.

Shipping news

Grant Macleod is a project manager with Lloyds Register in London.

Getting computer projects signed off and delivered is his job and he has a £10m ($20m;15m euros) budget to spend on it.

Grant Macleod, project manager with Lloyds Register
Lloyds Register is smiling after moving work from Manila to Malta

Lloyds Register joined the global outsourcing vogue when it shifted work to India and the Philippines earlier in this decade.

But over the last two years 40% of this budget has returned to Europe as Lloyds Register transferred vital coding from Manila to Malta.

The problem, Mr Macleod admits, lies in the language.

"English is widely spoken but not widely understood," he says.

The Maltese speak English and their own language, switching fluently between the idioms and expressions in English and a language that is largely a blend of Arabic and Italian.

Near sourcing boom

Mr Macleod's decision to move work to Malta was based on an equation of time and quality. Money matters, but a cheaper location can cost more in the long-term.

Farming work out to locations on the edge of the EU has generated a new piece of business jargon, "near sourcing".

"Malta is not cheaper than the Philippines, but here we have complete predictability. And if a project slows up because we cannot communicate properly with staff in Manila then it can cost us more anyway," says Mr Macleod.

The high retention rates of businesses on an island with a limited number of high-tech employers also appealed to Lloyds. And having one of the world's biggest natural harbours at hand matters if you're in the shipping business.

Other UK technology companies are now following suit.

The Indian technology boom had prompted Crimsonwing to move a chunk of its business to Chennai (formerly known as Madras).

David Walsh, chief executive Crimsonwing
David Walsh was won over by Malta's ambience

Crimsonwing writes software for UK businesses such as supermarket group Morrisons and discovered that the superficial attraction of setting up a programming team in Asia was undermined by the difficulties in communicating with Indian staff over a long distance

"What happened was that we lost control of things. There was a lot of attrition among the personnel," says David Walsh, Crimonswing's chief executive.

Seeking names and faces that would remain in place, Crimsonwing opted to relocate the work to Malta.

Emotional lure

Mr Walsh admits that his criteria for selecting Malta was not the stuff of business school MBA courses.

"I didn't do a massive exercise in analysis; it was a decision that came from the heart. The labour rates here are one third of the UK, there is a keen workforce and it's three hours from London," he says.

Salaries in Malta are low by EU standards. A computer programmer with 5-10 years experience can expect to earn £12,500-£15,625 per annum.

We have no oil, no grain, and no minerals. All we have is people
Joseph Sultana, managing director, Ascent

Walsh's employees are a mix of native Maltese and British IT staff lured by a Mediterranean lifestyle.

"A good apartment can be rented for £5,000 a year and personal taxes are lower than in the UK," says Mr Walsh.

Joseph Sultana, managing director of local software house Ascent, works for a variety of clients who have abandoned the Indian outsourcing model in recent years.

He knows that the Indian model has its attractions. "Offshoring IT development works for people who need large numbers of staff working on a project."

Mr Sultana is precise about where Malta's near sourcing proposition fits in.

Joseph Sultana, managing director, Ascent Software
Joseph Sultana runs a business with its sights set on SmartCity

"Let's be very clear about this, here in Malta we can't turn around and offer you a 200-strong development team overnight. But we can deliver consistent quality. "

"We have no oil, no grain, and no minerals" says Mr Sultana, "all we have is people."

SmartCity plans

Claudio Grech, first secretary at Malta's Ministry for IT & Investment, wants to expand that part of the economy.

Mr Grech says that attracting more IT development will create better-paid jobs, by local standards, and also draw in a better class of corporate company.

A high-tech theme-park, the SmartCity project, is taking off with $300m backing from Dubai's Tecom group.

Claudio Grech, first secretary at the Ministry for IT and Investment
Claudio Grech thinks the technology sector makes a good neighbour
Mr Grech knows that putting Malta on the map is a challenge in an technology industry dominated by billion-dollar players.

"It is tough for a small country to knock on all those doors."

Ricasoli, a former industrial zone on a neglected promontory overlooking the Grand Harbour, is the SmartCity site.

Just across the water from Valletta, it is perched above the area known locally as The Three Cities.

The Maltese are hoping that Ricasoli will host a cluster of technology firms that can cooperate across business boundaries.

However, Malta is not the only EU country where "near sourcing" is taking place.

Indeed, many Indian outsourcing companies are setting up subsidiaries in Eastern European countries like the Czech Republic.

But Malta may be able to capitalise on the reaction against outsourcing that is sweeping businesses across Europe.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Magic Mushrooms Episode II

Second Life and Drugs

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Friday, August 10, 2007

NASA fears fallen ice gouged shuttle shield

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

A spray of ice during liftoff might have gouged the heat shield of shuttle Endeavour, which has carried Canadian astronaut Dave Williams to the International Space Station.

NASA managers said Friday that a white spot near one of the shuttle's landing-gear traps is likely a seven-centimetre gash in a heat tile.

A closer check will be conducted Sunday with the laser sensors of the shuttle's Canadian-made inspection boom.

"It's way too early now to determine whether any repairs are required," said John Shannon, chairman of NASA's mission management team.


How far will the United States go with this system that does not work?  The shuttle is Nasa's Iraq.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The fall of Apache

Well it makes sense, Windows Server 2003 is the natural OS from more and more back end servers and IIS comes with OS.

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Microsoft starts to scalp Apache

MICROSOFT IS continuing to push the open sauce Apache off web-servers across the world.

According to Netcraft, the outfit is increasing its web server market share, adding 2.6 million sites this month as Apache loses 991,000 hostnames.

This represents an improvement in market share by Vole by 1.4 per cent to 34.2 per cent. Apache lost 1.7 per cent to 48.4 per cent.

Netcraft points out that if Volish market share keeps growing at that rate, it might eventually take Apache's leadership position in 2008.

Apache has been the big chief since March 1996 and by November 2005, Apache was found on 71 per cent of web sites, putting it more than 50 percentage points ahead of Microsoft IIS.

However it is not all going Microsoft's way. Apache is also losing ground to another open source server, lighttpd which has 1.2 per cent of all sites and Google which takes 4.4 per cent.

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