David Kirkpatrick

July 31, 2009

Quantum computing — a breakthrough and a warning

The potential power of quantum computing is astonishing, and a lot of research is going into creating quantum computers. Of course there’s always a dark side to anything — a quantum computer that realizes the full potential of the technology will also render current security and encryption obsolete overnight.

This post is a about a breakthrough involving the building blocks of matter and how that adds to quantum computing research, and also a cautionary tale from a researcher who is preparing for the security needs when the first quantum computer arises.

First the warning:

So far, so good, despite an occasional breach. But our security and our data could be compromised overnight when the first quantum computer is built, says Dr. Julia Kempe of Tel Aviv University‘s Blavatnik School of Computer Science. These new computers, still in the theoretical stage, will be many times more powerful than the computers that protect our data now.

Laying the groundwork to keep governments, companies and individuals safe, Dr. Kempe is working to understand the power of quantum computers by designing algorithms that fit them. At the same time, she is figuring out the limits of quantum computers, something especially important so we can build safety systems against quantum hackers.

“If a very rich person worked secretly to fund the building of a quantum computer, there is no reason in principle that it couldn’t be used for malevolent power within the next decade,” she says. “Governments, large corporations, entrepreneurs and common everyday people will have no ability to protect themselves. So we have to plan ahead.”

And now the breakthrough:

Discovery about behavior of building block of nature could lead to computer revolution

A team of physicists from the Universities of Cambridge and Birmingham have shown that electrons in narrow wires can divide into two new particles called spinons and a holons.

The electron is a fundamental building block of nature and is indivisible in isolation, yet a new experiment has shown that electrons, if crowded into narrow wires, are seen to split apart.

The electron is responsible for carrying electricity in wires and for making magnets. These two properties of magnetism and electric charge are carried by electrons which seem to have no size or shape and are impossible to break apart.

However, what is true about the properties of a single electron does not seem to be the case when electrons are brought together. Instead the like-charged electrons repel each other and need to modify the way they move to avoid getting too close to each other. In ordinary metals this does not usually make much difference to their behaviour. However, if the electrons are put in a very narrow wire the effects are exacerbated as they find it much harder to move past each other.

In 1981, physicist Duncan Haldane conjectured theoretically that under these circumstances and at the lowest temperatures the electrons would always modify the way they behaved so that their magnetism and their charge would separate into two new types of particle called spinons and holons.

The challenge was to confine electrons tightly in a ‘quantum wire’ and bring this wire close enough to an ordinary metal so that the electrons in that metal could ‘jump’ by quantum tunneling into the wire. By observing how the rate of jumping varies with an applied magnetic field the experiment reveals how the electron, on entering the quantum wire, has to fall apart into spinons and holons. The conditions to make this work comprised a comb of wires above a flat metal cloud of electrons. The Cambridge physicists, Yodchay Jompol and Chris Ford, clearly saw the distinct signatures of the two new particles as the Birmingham theorists, Tim Silk and Andy Schofield, had predicted.

Dr Chris Ford from the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory says, ‘We had to develop the technology to pass a current between a wire and a sheet only 30 atomic widths apart.

‘The measurements have to be made at extremely low temperatures, about a tenth of a degree above absolute zero.

‘Quantum wires are widely used to connect up quantum “dots”, which may in the future form the basis of a new type of computer, called a quantum computer. Thus understanding their properties may be important for such quantum technologies, as well as helping to develop more complete theories of superconductivity and conduction in solids in general. This could lead to a new computer revolution.’

Professor Andy Schofield from the University of Birmingham’s School of Physics and Astronomy says, ‘The experiment to test this is based on an idea I had together with three colleagues almost 10 years ago. At that time the technology required to implement the experiment was still a long way off.

‘What is remarkable about this new experiment is not just the clarity of the observation of the spinon and holon, which confirms some earlier studies, but that the spinon and holon are seen well beyond the region that Duncan Haldane originally conjectured.

‘Our ability to control the behaviour of a single electron is responsible for the semiconductor revolution which has led to cheaper computers, iPods and more. Whether we will be able to control these new particles as successfully as we have the single electron remains to be seen. What it does reveal is that bringing electrons together can lead to new properties and even new particles.’

 ###

 Notes to Editors

1. The paper is published in Science 10.1126/science.1171769 at http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1171769

2. The experiment was performed in Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory with theoretical support from scientists at the University of Birmingham’s School of Physics and Astronomy.

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Introducing graphane

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:58 pm

I’ve done plenty of blogging on the nanomaterial graphene, now here’s an introduction to graphane, its insulating offshoot. Just like with graphene, there’s high hopes for graphane applications.

The release:

From graphene to graphane, now the possibilities are endless

Ever since graphene was discovered in 2004, this one-atom thick, super strong, carbon-based electrical conductor has been billed as a “wonder material” that some physicists think could one day replace silicon in computer chips.

But graphene, which consists of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice, has a major drawback when it comes to applications in electronics – it conducts electricity almost too well, making it hard to create graphene-based transistors that are suitable for integrated circuits.

In August’s Physics World, Kostya Novoselov – a condensed-matter physicist from the Manchester University group that discovered graphene — explains how their discovery of graphane, an insulating equivalent of graphene, may prove more versatile still.

Graphane has the same honeycomb structure as graphene, except that it is “spray-painted” with hydrogen atoms that attach themselves to the carbon. The resulting bonds between the hydrogen and carbon atoms effectively tie down the electrons that make graphene so conducting. Yet graphane retains the thinness, super-strength, flexibility and density of its older chemical cousin.

One advantage of graphane is that it could actually become easier to make the tiny strips of graphene needed for electronic circuits. Such structures are currently made rather crudely by taking a sheet of the material and effectively burning away everything except the bit you need. But now such strips could be made by simply coating the whole of a graphene sheet – except for the strip itself – with hydrogen. The narrow bit left free of hydrogen is your conducting graphene strip, surrounded by a much bigger graphane area that electrons cannot go down.

As if this is not enough, the physicists in Manchester have found that by gradually binding hydrogen to graphene they are able to drive the process of transforming a conducting material into an insulating one and watch what happens in between.

Perhaps most importantly of all, the discovery of graphane opens the flood gates to further chemical modifications of graphene. With metallic graphene at one end and insulating graphane at the other, can we fill in the divide between them with, say, graphene-based semiconductors or by, say, substituting hydrogen for fluorine?

As Professor Novoselov writes, “Being able to control the resistivity, optical transmittance and a material’s work function would all be important for photonic devices like solar cells and liquid-crystal displays, for example, and altering mechanical properties and surface potential is at the heart of designing composite materials. Chemical modification of graphene – with graphane as its first example – uncovers a whole new dimension of research. The capabilities are practically endless.”

 

###

News for the paranoid

Filed under: et.al. — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:45 pm

And remember just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean you aren’t under surveillance.

From the link, ten methods to grab voice and data on the sly:

3. Laptop eavesdropping via lasers: Bouncing lasers off laptops and capturing the vibrations made as keys are struck give attackers enough data to deduce what is being typed. Each key makes a unique set of vibrations different from any other. The space bar makes an even more unique set, Barisani and Bianco say.

Language analysis software can help determine which set of vibrations correspond to which key, and if the attacker knows the language being used, the message can be exposed, they say.

PR Newswire’s Blog Briefs Lead

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:40 pm

Selected press releases from both BusinessWire and PR Newswire are delivered to my inbox on a daily basis (as regular readers probably know and might lament) and today something new from PR Newswire came in this afternoon  — the “Bog Briefs Lead.”

I’ll let the release do it’s own horn-tooting, but I have to wonder what’s the utility of seven leads to blog posts without links to the posts themselves? Maybe this release went out incomplete by mistake.

At any rate, here’s the release:

Blog Briefs Lead

The following Blog Briefs roster is a weekly roundup of posts from selected blogs. Blog Briefs are archived and available on the PR Newswire Web site, http://www.prnewswire.com/.  
  The following are the Blog Briefs for the week ending July 31:

  Blog Briefs

  1. Queercents: Penny-Pinching Pregnancy – Saying No to Expensive Tests
  2. Waylon Lewis of elephantjournal.com: Urban Outfitters Sells Fixies; and
     Frat Houses Go Solar
  3. Sunday Morning Soliloquy: Blogher ’09 Through the Eyes of an Un-Mommy
     Blogger
  4. synthesis – We Must Spend Less on Education – Necessity and Invention
  5. BANDIT Lets the Air out of Formula 1’s Tyres
  6. FoodieMama.com on Alternatives to French Fries

  7. Credit Union Uses ‘Lottery Effect’ to Encourage Customers to Save Money

  /PRNewswire — July 31/

Source: PR Newswire
   
Web Site:  http://www.prnewswire.com/

More science fiction becoming science fact

Via KurzweilAI.net — This time technology heading toward Fantastic Voyage territory. I’ll have to admit thing looks a bit large to be roaming free inside of anyone just yet. I think I’ll wait more more nanoscale-sized devices.

Robot Can Crawl Through Human Body
KurzweilAI.net, July 31, 2009

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology researchers have created a prototype micro robot that can crawl through the human body.

It is only a millimeter in diameter and 14 millimeters long, so it can get into the body’s smallest areas. It is powered by either actuation through magnetic force located outside the body, or through an on-board actuation system. Made of silicone and metal, it can be made completely biocompatible, so it could remain in the body much as a stent placed in arteries does.

In the future, they hope the robot will be able to travel through a blood vessel, the digestive tract or the lungs, delivering targeted medicines to specific locations, clearing blockages, performing biopsies, or placed inside a shunt to drain body fluids from clogged areas.

Source: American Technion Society news release

Q2 economy shrinks less than expected

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:58 pm

Overall I’d say this is good news even though it’s still a case of things just being less bad.

The key takeaway, however, is this:

We’re going from recession to recovery, but at least early on, it’s not going to feel like one,” said the chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, Mark Zandi. “For economists, this is a seminal part in the business cycle, but for most Americans, it won’t mean much.”That is because the job market is expected to remain dismal even after the economy resumes growing. As business picks up after a recession and companies start receiving more orders and restocking their shelves, employers will still resist hiring new full-time workers, and instead pay overtime or rely on part-time employees.

NASA contest for “green” aircraft

A release very hot from the inbox (minutes old) combining NASA and green technology:

NASA and CAFE Announce Green Aircraft Challenge

WASHINGTON, July 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The NASA Innovative Partnerships Program and the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation today announced the Green Flight Challenge. The contest is a flight efficiency competition for aircraft that can average at least 100 mph on a 200-mile flight while achieving greater than 200 passenger miles per gallon.

(Logo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

The prize for the aircraft with the best performance is $1.5 million. The competition is scheduled for July 2011 at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, Calif. A variety of innovative experimental aircraft using electrical, solar, bio-fuel or hybrid propulsion are expected to enter. Several major universities and aircraft builders have expressed their intention to enter teams in the challenge.

To win, teams must use cutting-edge technologies in mechanical and electrical engineering, structures, aerodynamics and thermodynamics.  As a national showcase of “green” technology, the challenge is expected to help advance all three of the major climate mitigation initiatives: efficiency, conservation and zero-carbon energy sources. These technologies will support advances in aviation and may have broader applications in transportation and energy storage.

The Green Flight Challenge is administered for NASA by CAFE. Founded in 1981, CAFE is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the understanding of personal aircraft technologies through research, analysis and education.

NASA is providing the prize money as part of the Centennial Challenges program. The program seeks innovative solutions to problems of interest to NASA and the nation from diverse and unconventional sources. Competitors may not receive government funding for their entries in this challenge.

  For information about CAFE and competing in this challenge, visit:

  http://cafefoundation.org/v2/main_home.php

  For more information about Centennial Challenges, visit:

  http://www.ipp.nasa.gov/cc

  For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

  http://www.nasa.gov/

Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA
   
Web Site:  http://www.nasa.gov/

“Cash for Clunkers” too popular

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:32 pm

Rendering visible a point long obvious — Main Street needs, wants and will put to good use federal bailout money.

From the link:

The House rushed Friday to pump $2 billion into a popular cash-for-clunkers program running near empty, with a leading Democrat saying ”consumers have spoken with their wallets.”A floor vote was under way at midday on the bill to refuel the car-purchase program. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had said earlier that the additional money would come from funds Congress approved earlier in the year as part of a $787 billion economic stimulus bill.

Hoyer, D-Md., said that at the request of House Republicans — whose approval was required for swift passage — the bill would include provisions for government auditors to make sure the money was being spent as intended.

July 27, 2009

Cato’s Tim Lynch on criminal law

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:53 pm

If you are interested in civil liberties and how criminal law is executed and enforced in the United States, take a few minutes to read Tim Lynch’s testimony before the House’s subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. Lynch is the director of the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice.

Lynch’s testimony was titled, “Over-Criminalization of Conduct/Over-Federalization of Criminal Law.”

From the link:

Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse

The sheer volume of modern law makes it impossible for an ordinary American household to stay informed. And yet, prosecutors vigorously defend the old legal maxim that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.”4 That maxim may have been appropriate for a society that simply criminalized inherently evil conduct, such as murder, rape, and theft, but it is wholly inappropriate in a labyrinthine regulatory regime that criminalizes activities that are morally neutral. As Professor Henry M. Hart opined, “In no respect is contemporary law subject to greater reproach than for its obtuseness to this fact.”5

To illustrate the rank injustice that can and does occur, take the case of Carlton Wilson, who was prosecuted because he possessed a firearm. Wilson’s purchase of the firearm was perfectly legal, but, years later, he didn’t know that he had to give it up after a judge issued a restraining order during his divorce proceedings. When Wilson protested that the judge never informed him of that obligation and that the restraining order itself said nothing about firearms, prosecutors shrugged, “ignorance of the law is no excuse.”6Although the courts upheld Wilson’s conviction, Judge Richard Posner filed a dissent: “We want people to familiarize themselves with the laws bearing on their activities. But a reasonable opportunity doesn’t mean being able to go to the local law library and read Title 18. It would be preposterous to suppose that someone from Wilson’s milieu is able to take advantage of such an opportunity.”7Judge Posner noted that Wilson would serve more than three years in a federal penitentiary for an omission that he “could not have suspected was a crime or even a civil wrong.”8

It is simply outrageous for the government to impose a legal duty on every citizen to “know” all of the mind-boggling rules and regulations that have been promulgated over the years. Policymakers can and should discard the “ignorance-is-no-excuse” maxim by enacting a law that would require prosecutors to prove that regulatory violations are “willful” or, in the alternative, that would permit a good-faith belief in the legality of one’s conduct to be pleaded and proved as a defense. The former rule is already in place for our complicated tax laws—but it should also shield unwary Americans from all of the laws and regulations as well.9

Finding jobs on Twitter

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:04 pm

If you’re looking for work, Twitter is now a destination for openings. Check out this CIO.com article for tips on finding work via Twitter.

From the link:

But using Twitter to find new work isn’t a straightforward process. Because people publish so frequently, it’s easy to miss a lead in the process. Also, Twitter’s search tool, while serviceable, sometimes makes it hard to narrow your job inquiries down to something specific.

We spoke with some career experts about how you can search wisely. In general, you must sieve through hashtags, a symbol (#) Twitter users assign to their tweets that sorts them into different categories (I wrote a CIO.com overview on Twitter hashtags a few months ago). We also learned about a few Twitter handles (Twitter user names) that post some helpful content if you’re trying to land your next gig.

Nanotech and NASA

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:59 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net — Two of my favorites blogging topics together in one post …

NASA Nanotechnology in particular Buckypaper
Next Big Future, July 25, 2009

NASA has a lot of nanotechnology research for which they are looking for business partners for commercial development.

For example, carbon nanotube=based membranes known as buckypaper may be used as filter media for analytical mission instruments or implantable device support for astronaut health monitoring.

 
Read Original Article>>

July 25, 2009

Birthers, the latest GOP anchor

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:56 pm

Today has been a GOP threefer. I essentially stopped blogging on the continued fail of the Republican Party, but the three posts from today were on topics I couldn’t, in good conscience, avoid — Palin’s resignation, the news Dick Cheney unsuccessfully sought fully dictatorial powers for the executive branch and, here, the fact the retarded twig holding up what’s left of part of the GOP “tent” is getting major ink on the “birther issue.”

Right now is the perfect time to hammer the Democratic Party. It’s over confident, passing ridiculous legislation, pondering enormous changes with what will be lasting effects for the nation and the honeymoon is over for a still very popular president. Well placed intelligent opposition would hit its mark right now.

What’s in the news? The completely debunked idea Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii. If this is a positioning move for next year and 2012, the GOP is truly sunk. It may be the lunatic fringe has a bit too much internal power for the Republican Party to move forward as a governing organization.

Well, if nothing else the next four years or so ought to be pretty interesting. And probably full of Democratic legislation.

From the link:

Six months into his presidency, the charge that Barack Obama is — literally — un-American is gaining not losing steam. Yes, the Birther bump is growing.

Need some backstory? Allow The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder to explain: “Birthers, for the uninitiated, is a term used by the media to ridicule those who believe that the president’s Hawaiian birth certificate is fake and that because he was ostensibly born in Kenya, not the United States, he was never eligible to be president in the first place.”

To the extent that one can conclusively prove such things in our postmodern age, this claim has been extremely thoroughly debunked. The birther movement may be premised on a fictional belief, but it is savvy: birthers now wear the term “birther” as badge of honor, as if they were a persecuted minority — which, come to think of it, is one mechanism for solidarity in the face of evidence to the contrary.

Whether the idea has been debunked or or not is not something that seems to impact the birther movement.

9/11 changed everything …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:39 pm

… and almost gave rise to a tyrannical police state in America. If Dick Cheney had his way with every policy directive the terrorists would truly have won.

Thanks, Dick.

From the link:

Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna Six, and declare them enemy combatants.

Mr. Bush ultimately decided against the proposal to use military force.

A decision to dispatch troops into the streets to make arrests has few precedents in American history, as both the Constitution and subsequent laws restrict the military from being used to conduct domestic raids and seize property.

The Fourth Amendment bans “unreasonable” searches and seizures without probable cause. And the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally prohibits the military from acting in a law enforcement capacity.

Don’t let the door hitchya

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:28 pm

A former Alaskan senator provides a Palin pre-mortem.

From the link:

The Inuit have a word, “qivit,” that you do not want to have applied to you. It means to quit or give up when the going gets rough. In traditional times, and that was very recent, if you gave up as a leader you were jeopardizing yourself and everyone around you. It takes a lot of effort to maintain life in the bitter cold of the Arctic.

And:

In short, Alaska had a governor who had the stature within the state, nationally and internationally, to deal with our problems. She could have used her position to find solutions to the high costs and financial insecurities of our far-northern state. Instead, she abandoned her role as the state’s leader in midstream, making her the only governor in our state’s history to “qivit” in the true sense of the word, at a time when we need strong leadership. Good luck, Governor Parnell — may the great Arctic spirits be with you.

And some amonst the GOP faithful still want her as the standard bearer.

July 24, 2009

The NSA wiretapped US citizens …

… and the mainstream media brushed the story under the proverbial rug. Just imagine, the MSM totally failed at doing its job. Er, scratch that bit of sarcasm. The MSM has been so full of fail for so long it’s far beyond parody.

From the link:

The cliché doesn’t seem far off the mark after reading Mark Klein’s new book, “Wiring up the Big Brother Machine … and Fighting It.” It’s an account of his experiences as the whistleblower who exposed a secret room at a Folsom Street facility in San Francisco that was apparently used to monitor the Internet communications of ordinary Americans.

Klein, 64, was a retired AT&T communications technician in December 2005, when he read the New York Times story that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. Secretly authorized in 2002, the program lets the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) monitor telephone conversations and e-mail messages of people inside the U.S. in order to identify suspected terrorists. Klein knew right away that he had proof — documents from his time at AT&T — that could provide a snapshot of how the program was siphoning data off of the AT&T network in San Francisco.

Click here to find out more!Amazingly, however, nobody wanted to hear his story. In his book he talks about meetings with reporters and privacy groups that went nowhere until a fateful January 20, 2006, meeting with Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Bankston was preparing a lawsuit that he hoped would put a stop to the wiretap program, and Klein was just the kind of witness the EFF was looking for.

Online security issues — Twitter and Adobe Reader

Online security should always be at least a tiny voice in your head whenever connected to the web — and with mobile devices, Wi-Fi, et.al., being connected is becoming 24/7 for a lot of people.

Here’s two articles on security issues with popular online tools.

First up is Twitter:

In April, a Twitter wormknown as “Mikeyy” or “StalkDaily” reared its head. Similar to the 2005 Samy worm on MySpace, the Mikeyy worm was authored by a 17-year-old who took advantage of a code quirk to gain notoriety for his Web site, StalkDaily.com. Twitter shut it down–plus a few follow-up viruses (“How TO remove new Mikeyy worm!”)–fairly quickly. Following the worm attacks, cofounder Biz Stone wrote on the company blog, “Twitter takes security very seriously and we will be following up on all fronts.”

Shortened-URL Dangers

Parallel to the growth of Twitter is the expansion of URL-shortening services. Fitting your thoughts into 140 characters takes practice; including full URLs is almost impossible. Usually URLs have to be truncated through services such as Bit.ly and TinyURL.com, which also mask the true destination URL and can present their own security problems as a result.

The first signs of shortened-URL trouble came with a pair of Twitter worms that promised to help users remove the Mikeyy worm. In June, a wave of hidden poisoned URLs swept Twitter, using Bit.ly links to low.cc and myworlds.mp domains where users were asked to download a file called free-stream-player-v_125.exe to view a video. The file held malware. Bit.ly and TinyURL have been responsive to reports of abuse; Bit.ly, for one, now blocks those low.cc and myworlds.mp domains.

And second is a troubling issue combing two Adobe applications — Flash and Reader:

Adobe Systems Inc. late Wednesday admitted its Flash and Reader software have a critical vulnerability and promised it would patch both next week.One security researcher, however, said Adobe’s own bug-tracking database shows that the company has known of the vulnerability for nearly seven months.

In a security advisory posted around 10 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday, Adobe acknowledged that earlier reports were on target. “A critical vulnerability exists in the current versions of Flash Player (v9.0.159.0 and v10.0.22.87) for Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems, and the authplay.dll component that ships with Adobe Reader and Acrobat v9.x for Windows, Macintosh and UNIX operating systems,” the company said.

Click here to find out more!The “authplay.dll” mentioned in the advisory is the interpreter that handles Flash content embedded within PDF files, and is present on any machine equipped with Reader and Acrobat.Adobe said it would patch all versions of Flash by July 30, and Reader and Acrobat for Windows and Mac no later than July 31. Until a patch is available, Adobe said users could delete or rename authplay.dll, or disable Flash rendering to stymie attacks within malformed PDF files. Adobe did not offer any similar workaround for Flash and could only recommend that “users should exercise caution in browsing untrusted websites.”

The U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT), part of the Department of Homeland Security, included instructions on how to delete the Flash interpreter from Windows, Mac and Linux machines in a Wednesday advisory of its own.

End of credit crunch in sight?

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:43 pm

Maybe. If nothing else things are looking better. Seems like a lot of indicators are on the uptick right now.

From the first link:

Multiple market signals are leading analysts to bet that the worst credit crisis since the 1930s is easing, as debt markets slowly heal after two years of extreme upheaval.The return of private investors to markets they had shunned as recently as the first quarter this year, a surge of corporate debt issuance, and the easing of inter-bank lending rates all indicate that financial rescue measures by government are working, analysts said.

Yet while debt markets are on the road to recovery, turning around a battered economy will be a longer haul that’s still fraught with danger, they said.

“The revival of corporate bond issuance and the narrowing of spreads from the peaks are good news,” says Ward McCarthy, managing director with Stone & McCarthy Research Associates, in Princeton, New Jersey.

The bad news however includes “continued poor performance of many financial firms and the persistent reluctance of banks to lend,” especially to homeowners, adding stress to an already strained housing market, said McCarthy.

U.S. house prices are still sliding and foreclosures rising in many places. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has warned the job market may struggle for another two years.

Small business at higher risk for fraud

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:36 pm

An interesting take on small business and corporate fraud.

From the link:

Here’s the really scary part for entrepreneurs: Small businesses are more vulnerable to sneaky shenanigans than large ones.

Small companies often have one person doing multiple jobs and don’t have the same internal controls required by large, publicly held companies, says Scott Grossfeld, chief executive of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) in Austin, Texas.

An ACFE study covering 959 cases of “occupational fraud” (meaning the kind that transpires at work) between January 2006 and February 2008 suggests that U.S. businesses lose, on average, 7% of their annual revenue to fraud. (How many companies would kill for an extra seven percentage points of profit, in this or any economy?) Businesses with fewer than 100 employees absorbed a median loss of $200,000. Most small-business fraud cases involved wrongful billing and check-tampering.

July 23, 2009

Nanophotonics market may reach $40B in five years

A release from the inbox:

Global Nanophotonic Market Worth US$37.6 Billion by 2014

WILMINGTON, Delaware, July 23/PRNewswire/ —     According to a new market research report, ‘Nanophotonics – Advanced
Technologies and Global Market (2009-2014)’, published by MarketsandMarkets
(http://www.marketsandmarkets.com), the global nanophotonics market is
expected to be worth US$3.6 billion by 2014, out of which the Asian market
will account for nearly 74% of the total revenues. The global market is
expected to record a CAGR of 100.7% from 2009 to 2014.

    Browse 134 market data tables and in-depth TOC on nanophotonics market.
Early buyers will receive 10% customization of reports
http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/nanophotonics-advanced-techno
logies-and-global-market-125.html

    (Due to the length of the URL in the above paragraph, it may be necessary
 to copy and paste this hyperlink into your Internet browser’s URL address
field. Remove the space if one exists.)

    Nanophotonics (http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/
nanophotonics-advanced-technologies-and-global-market-125.html) is born out
of the combination of three major sciences:photonics, nanotechnology,
and optoelectronics. While photonics and optoelectronics have revolutionized
the electronics and semiconductors market, nanotechnology has the greatest
potential for further improvement, and hence has emerged as the most
sought-after technology by big companies and research laboratories. In spite
of it being in the nascent stage, nanophotonics is expected to make it to
the mainstream market owing to the higher power efficiency, thermal
resistivity, and operational life.

    (Due to the length of the URL in the above paragraph, it may be necessary
 to copy and paste this hyperlink into your Internet browser’s URL address
field. Remove the space if one exists.)

    The nanophotonic component market is growing at a robust rate for the
last few years and is expected to maintain a very high CAGR for the next few
years. The market is expected to reach US$3.6 billion in 2014 at a CAGR of
100.7% from 2009 to 2014.

    Asia holds a major share of the global nanophotonics market. However, the
U.S. and Europe represent very high growth rate of 161.1% and 160.0%,
respectively, from 2009 to 2014. The U.S. and Europe assume further
importance because of the large consumer base for the nanophotonic devices.
Extensive investment in research and development for the application of
nanophotonics in increasing number of application areas has become the main
driver for this market

    The LED market is the largest segment; and is expected to reach US$2.7
billion by 2014 at a CAGR of 91.3%. Optical amplifier and holographic memory
device markets are estimated to record growth rate of 239% and 234.6%
respectively from 2009 to 2014. The high growth rate of nanophotonics
products is mainly due to high demand from Asian countries.

    The Asian market is the largest geographical segment; and is expected to
be worth US$2.7 billion by 2014. The second largest segment is Europe, with a
CAGR of 160.0%. However, market size of the U.S. is expected to increase at
the highest CAGR of 161.1% from the year 2009 to 2014.

    The report is titled ‘Nanophotonics- Advanced Technologies and Global
Market (2009 – 2014)’ and was published in June 2009.

    Scope of the Report

    This report aims to identify and analyze products, applications and
ingredients for nanophotonics market. The report segments the nanophotonics
product market as follows:

    Nanophotonics components – products

    Nanophotonic LED, nanophotonic OLED, nanophotonic near field optics,
nanophotonic photovoltaic cells, nanophotonic optical amplifiers,
nanophotonic optical switches and nanophotonic holographic data storage
system.

    Nanophotonics – applications
    Indicators and signs, lighting, non-visual applications,
telecommunications, entertainment and consumer electronics

    Nanophotonics – ingredients

Photonic crystals, plasmonics, nanotubes, nanoribbons and quantum dots.

    About MarketsandMarkets

    MarketsandMarkets is a research and consulting firm that publishes 120
market research (http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/) reports per year. Each
strategically analyzed report contains 250 pages of valuable market data,
including more than 100 market data summary tables and in-depth, five-level
segmentation for each of the products, services, applications, technologies,
ingredients and stakeholders categories. Our reports also analyze about 200
patents, over 50 companies and micro markets that are mutually exclusive and
collectively exhaustive. Browse all our 120 titles at
http://www.marketsandmarkets.com.

Source: MarketsandMarkets

OLEDs hit the market …

Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:37 pm

… at $100 per square inch for prototypes. Ouch.

From the link:

Someday, our ceilings and walls might radiate light, illuminating indoor spaces as brightly and evenly as natural daylight.

Though that possibility remains years off, the Dutch electronics company Philips is letting people tinker with the technology that would enable it.

The world’s biggest lighting maker has begun selling do-it-yourself kits with little glowing wafers called “Lumiblades.” They come in red, white, blue or green for anyone who wants to pay nearly $100 per square inch.

It’s one of the first chances people outside research labs have had to get their hands on lights made from organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDs.

The company’s aim is to get designers, architects and other creative types thinking about how these flat lights can be used, and to start collaborating on early products.

Head here for more blog posts on OLEDs.

Dow tops 9000

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:22 pm

A first in six months. Are these finally those green shoots we’ve been reading about? I’m not holding my breath, but a lot of indicators seem to be at least a little positive. A definite uptick from either not so negative or neutral that had everyone excited earlier this year.

From the link:

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was 2 percent, or 179 points, higher, while the broader Standard and Poor’s 500-stock index rose 22 points, or 2.2 percent. The Nasdaq gained 44 points, or 2.3 percent.

“We’ve had an exceptional rally here,” said Peter Cardillo, the chief market economist at Avalon Partners. “In the remainder of the summer we’ll see the S.&P. challenging the 1,000 mark.”

“The housing market does point to signs of stabilizing and that obviously is key to consumer confidence to begin to rebuild,” Mr. Cardillo said. “If we see daylight in the housing market that will give another indication that the economy crawling out of recession in the fourth quarter is achievable.”

Shares were up across all sectors in the S.&P., led by telecommunications, consumer goods and energy. Ford, which is the only Detroit automaker now publicly traded, was up almost 11 percent.

July 19, 2009

NASCAR, Mayfield and the rule book

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:51 pm

I’m going to say out front I don’t care if Jeremy Mayfield or NASCAR is correct about his use, or not, of methamphetamine. I do think NASCAR as an organization has zero credibility. The ruling body for this “sport” changes the rules so often — including mid-race– I wouldn’t be shocked to find out the braintrust is drug addled.

Didn’t blog on this, but on a similar note I thought it was bullshit the NHL changed the rules in the middle of the playoffs — the PLAYOFFS — in response to Sean Avery’s antics.

Sports and sanity don’t go hand-in-hand. With NASCAR neither term applies.

July 17, 2009

Obama, Bush and warrantless wiretapping

I’m of two minds on this case. On one side I think the government has a legitimate interest in keeping the general public in the dark about elements of spycraft sausage-making. Flip that coin over and you have a double dose of privacy concerns and the government essentially arguing it can’t be held accountable by the very people who “own” the government in United States citizens.

Obama’s rapidly disillusioned supporters see the DoJ actions as a betrayal. I tend to see this as protecting entrenched interests of the executive branch. Some of these interests are part of the dark Bush 43 legacy.

Of course one reason I voted for Obama was for the White House to get out the cleaning fluids and scrub away the insidious creep of the government into privacy and civil liberties. Change? Maybe not so much. Hopefully only not so much just yet.

From the link:

Lawyers from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Electronic Frontier Foundation squared off in a San Francisco courtroom Wednesday over a warrantless wiretapping program instituted by the Bush administration. The EFF sued the government and officials who implemented the secret program in September in an effort to get the government to stop the practice of recording communications involving U.S. citizens without a federal warrant. The EFF argues that this warrantless wiretapping is illegal, but government lawyers say the lawsuit should be thrown out because it could lead to the disclosure of state secrets.

The judge in the case, Vaughn Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, already heard most of these arguments during an ongoing 2006 suit, Hepting v. AT&T, that also sought to put an end to the program. The EFF brought this second suit, Jewel v. NSA, after Congress passed a law last year that protected telecommunications companies like AT&T from lawsuits over the wiretapping.

Click here to find out more! On Wednesday, DoJ lawyer Anthony Coppolino argued that federal laws allow people to sue government employees who leak information, but do not let them sue the government itself. Coppolino added that litigating such cases could put state secrets at risk by exposing details of the government’s anti-terrorist programs.

Does Iran have a new great Satan?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:31 pm

Amonst the green wave it looks like that might just be the case.

Taken from an eyewitness report sent to NIAC and posted at the Daily Dish:

… the speaker after Rafi was urging people to shout “death to America” and “death to Israel” people responded in mass by shouting “death to Russia” and “death to the dictator” …

Cuban dodges SEC bullet

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:06 pm

Mark Cuban won an insider trading case brought by the SEC after dismissal. If I’m remembering correctly, in Cuban’s brash defiance (imagine that) of the original SEC charges he essentially admitted guilt. Looks like this might have been yet another case of SEC incompetence from the last several years, or maybe the original charges shouldn’t have been brought in the first place.

Either way it’s a little more egg on the Securities and Exchange Commission. It’s definitely a group with nowhere to go but up.

From the link:

A federal judge dealt a blow to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday when he dismissed its insider trading lawsuit against Mark Cuban, the controversial billionaire owner of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks.

The S.E.C. asserted in a lawsuit in November that Mr. Cuban had sold shares of a Canadian Internet search company, Mamma.com, after receiving confidential information from its chief executive in a telephone call that the company was going to sell additional shares through a private offering in 2004.

But the S.E.C. failed to prove that Mr. Cuban had made an agreement with the company’s chief executive that he would not sell his own shares during that call, Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater of the Federal District Court in Dallas wrote in a 35-page decision released on Friday.

Rafsanjani speaks

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:43 pm

And breaks somewhere down the middle as was expected. I think even the mild opposition he expressed toward the ruling despots still in power in Iran will provide strength, albeit a small amount, to the green wave.

From the link:

As thousands of opposition protesters chanted in the streets of Tehran on Friday, the former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani assailed the government’s handling of the post-election unrest, saying it had lost the trust of many Iranians and calling for the release of hundreds of protesters and democracy advocates arrested in recent weeks.

Mr. Rafsanjani, speaking to a vast crowd at Tehran University that included the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi and many of his supporters, called for unity and reconciliation in his prayer sermon. But he also said doubts about the election “are now consuming us” and called for a new spirit of compromise between the opposition and the government.

July 16, 2009

Wal-Mart’s Twitter terms of service …

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:57 pm

… is as stupid as it is vague.

I’ll just let this bit from the link make my point:

As Michael Masnick of Techdirt points out, it’s hard to understand who these terms are directed at — employees of Wal-Mart who use Twitter, or customers who talk about Wal-Mart products on Twitter, or both. But the fact that Wal-Mart had its legal counsel construct a 3,000-plus word document entitled “Wal-Mart’s Twitter Terms of Use” means they want to be cautious for what liability they incur over the medium.

What on earth would make Wal-Mart think that it could expect the average Joe, say someone who Tweets about a Wal-Mart customer experience, to play by rules that the company itself lays out? We’re not sure

Google, New America Foundation and public opinion on the National Broadband Plan

A release from today’s inbox:

For Immediate Release

July 16, 2009 

 
As part of the economic stimulus legislation (ARRA), Congress charged the FCC with creating a National Broadband Plan by next February.
 
The Commission has called for “maximum civic engagement” in developing a broadband strategy, reflecting input from all stakeholders.  Initial comments have been filed and now it’s the public’s turn to contribute their views and ideas.
 
To encourage public input, the New America Foundation is joining forces with Google to launch a Google Moderator page to aggregate public opinion on this critical policy issue. Google Moderator provides the general public with a forum to submit and vote on ideas you think the Commission should include in its National Broadband Plan.
 
After two weeks, Google and NAF will take the most popular and most innovative ideas and submit them to the official record at the FCC on your behalf.
 
We hope you will post your views on Google Moderator – and also forward this to your contacts and constituents. 
 
We can all help answer the FCC’s call for input from stakeholders ‘outside the beltway,’ including “industry, American consumers; large and small businesses; federal, state, local, and tribal governments; and disabled communities.”  
 
Among the key elements of a national broadband plan under consideration:
 

  • The most effective and efficient ways to ensure ubiquitous broadband access for all Americans;
  • Strategies for achieving affordability and maximum utilization of broadband infrastructure and services;
  • Evaluation of the status of broadband deployment, including the progress of related grant programs;
  • How to use broadband to advance consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy efficiency, education, worker training, entrepreneurial activity, job creation and other national purposes.

As Commissioner Michael Copps noted, “Broadband can be the great enabler that . . . opens doors of opportunity for all Americans to pass through, no matter who they are, where they live, or the particular circumstances of their individual lives.”  A national broadband plan promises far-reaching consequences for economic growth and equal opportunity across all sectors for decades to come.
 
You can join the discussion at: http://moderator.appspot.com/#16/e=a4977 

New America’s Wireless Future Program develops and advocates policy proposals aimed at achieving universal and affordable wireless broadband access, expanding public access to the airwaves and updating our nation’s communications infrastructure in the digital era. For more information, visit http://www.newamerica.net/programs/wireless_future.
About the New America Foundation
The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.

GDP growth of four percent over eighteen months?

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:40 pm

That number is defended in a Forbes op-ed by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein. Hit this link for the case as it’s been laid out. Plausible, yes. Probable, I’d say no.

From the link:

To be more precise, we are forecasting that real gross domestic product (GDP) grows at a 3.5% rate in the second half of 2009 and 4.5% next year. But, in all truth, we are much more confident about the overall 4%-plus figure for the full 18-month period than about the exact growth rate for any particular quarter. For example, if auto production ramps back up quickly enough in the next couple months, some of the extra growth set for 2010 might come late this year instead.

Fed offers mixed signals

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:33 pm

I’m going with they still don’t have a clue what is happening or what is going to happen over the next six to twelve months.

From the link:

The unemployment rate could top 10% later this year, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday, but the central bank also said it believes the end of the recession could be in sight.

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