Sunday, August 5, 2007

Diebold Voting Machines Vulnerable to Virus Attack

An analysis of Diebold's source code shows that a hacker with access to a single voting machine could use a virus to affect an election.

Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service
Thursday, August 02, 2007 11:00 PM PDT


Diebold Election Systems Inc. voting machines are not secure enough to guarantee a trustworthy election, and an attacker with access to a single machine could disrupt or change the outcome of an election using viruses, according to a review of Diebold's source code.

"The software contains serious design flaws that have led directly to specific vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit to affect election outcomes," read the University of California at Berkeley report, commissioned by the California Secretary of State as part of a two-month "top-to-bottom" review of electronic voting systems certified for use in California.
The assessment of Diebold's source code revealed an attacker needs only limited access to compromise an election.

"An attack could plausibly be accomplished by a single skilled individual with temporary access to a single voting machine. The damage could be extensive -- malicious code could spread to every voting machine in polling places and to county election servers," it said.
report, titled "Source Code Review of the Diebold Voting System," was apparently released Thursday, just one day before California Secretary of State Debra Bowen is to decide which machines are certified for use in California's 2008 presidential primary elections.

The source-code review identified four main weaknesses in Diebold's software, including: vulnerabilities that allow an attacker to install malware on the machines, a failure to guarantee the secrecy of ballots, a lack of controls to prevent election workers from tampering with ballots and results, and susceptibility to viruses that could allow attackers to an influence an election.
"A virus could allow an attacker who only had access to a few machines or memory cards, or possibly to only one, to spread malicious software to most, if not all, of a county's voting machines," the report said. "Thus, large-scale election fraud in the Diebold system does not necessarily require physical access to a large number of voting machines."

The report warned that a paper trail of votes cast is not sufficient to guarantee the integrity of an election using the machines. "Malicious code might be able to subtly influence close elections, and it could disrupt elections by causing widespread equipment failure on election day," it said.
The source-code review went on to warn that commercial antivirus scanners do not offer adequate protection for the voting machines. "They are not designed to detect virally propagating malicious code that targets voting equipment and voting software," it said.

In conclusion, the report said Diebold's voting machines had not been designed with security as a priority. "For this reason, the safest way to repair the Diebold system is to reengineer it so that it is secure by design," it said.

The Diebold source-code review and several other documents, including a review of source code used in other voting systems, had earlier been withheld from release by the Secretary of State, even as other reports related to the review of voting machines were released on July 27.
An explanation posted on the Secretary of State's
Web site on July 27 noted the source-code review and other reports had been submitted on time. "Their reports will be posted as soon as the Secretary of State ensures the reports do not inadvertently disclose security-sensitive information," the Web site said.

The delayed release of the source-code review meant that David Wagner, an associate professor of computer science at the University of California at Berkeley and an author of the report, was not able to present his findings at a public hearing held on July 30 to discuss the results of the voting system review.

Monday, July 2, 2007


Alapag, Caguioa preside over dizzying finish in day’s biggest surprise
Monday, 02 July 2007

CHINESE TAIPEI - IT may be a mere preparation tournament for San Miguel-Pilipinas but the desire to win was very much evident for the Filipinos who sent a clear message to the field by stinging defending champion Athletes in Action of the USA, 72-67 in the opening match of the 29th William Jones Cup Basketball Tournament Monday night at the Sinjhuang Gym here.
Trailing by five, 52-57 going into the last 5:14 of the contest, SMC-RP got the lift it needed from Jimmy Alapag, who keyed a telling 8-0 run by banging in a triple. Mick Pennisi followed suit with another howitzer and Kerby Raymundo scored on a curling layup to push the Filipinos ahead, 60-57.

After Reed Rawling responded for the Americans, Alapag rifled in his fourth triple of the match, and then Mark Caguioa finally got going by scoring the last nine points for San Miguel-Pilipinas, which definitely sent shock waves not only to AIA but to the eight other teams entered in the 9-day meet.

"Jimmy bailed us out big time and Mark finished the job for us," said National coach Chot Reyes.
Alapag finished the contest with 19 points.
San Miguel-Pilipinas put together a 12-0 run ending the second quarter to erect a 39-31 advantage at the halftime break.

But the Filipinos were held to only six points on three free throws and a three-point shot by Dondon Hontiveros in the third peiord as the Ameicans seized the upperhand, 46-45, at the end of the third period.

In the other opening day matches, Korea nipped Qatar, 70-69; Jordan won over Kazakhstan, 63-61; and Lebanon beat Iran, 80-71.

Lebanon and San Miguel-Pilipinas mix it up at 5:30 pm Tuesday, both squads seeking a second straight win and tournament leadership.

While Lebanon does not present an immediate threat as far as the Philippines' dreams of returning to the Olympics is concerned, Reyes says there is a need to scout the Lebanese well and take a good hard look at them.

"There's a good possibility of us meeting the Lebanese in the quarterfinals of the FIBA-Asia Men's Championship in Tokushima, Japan. If we finish second in Group A, I'm sure we'll face Lebanon in the quarterfinals," said Reyes.

"Napakaswerte ng Lebanon kasi ang Group B ang pinakamadaling group. Siguradong sila ang magiging top team ng Group B. Tayo dadaan sa butas ng karayom sa Group A"
The Philippines is bracketed in what some experts describe as "The Group of Death" as Group A has powerhouse China, Iran and Jordan. "Walang panapon sa Group A. Kung mayroon man, baka tayo iyon considering that we only started preparing last March 12."
"We've played Lebanon a couple of times and we've fared well against them. We've in fact beaten them. They will also take part in the Manila Invitationals," said Reyes. “But who knows, baka pati sila nagtatago ng baraha?"

The Lebanese national team is reinforced by Joe Vogel and Brian Feghali, a pair of players who have seen action in American leagues.

What Reyes and San Miguel-Pilipinas are really preparing hard for are the games against Jordan on Friday and Iran on Saturday. Both have sent their respective national teams.
"Hindi naman sana tayo pupunta dito sa Jones Cup if organizers did not assure us that we'll be going up against the national teams of Iran and Jordan. This is a very good opportunity for us to gauge our strength and that of these two countries three weeks before Tokushima.," said Reyes.
Still, Reyes said he is torn between trying to hide his cards in the Jones Cup joust and the public perception.

"While this is just part of our preparation for Tokushima, kailangan din nating manalo dito. Realistically,we're eyeing a top four finish. Pero alam ninyo na kapag natalo tayo dito, marami na namang genius ang lalabas sa Pilipinas at magtatanong kung bakit nagkaganoon ang campaign sa Jones Cup. We have to strike a balance."

The Scores:

SMC-RP 72 - Alapag 19, Caguoa 14, Pennisi 11, Hontiveros 11, Norwood 7, Taulava 5, Raymundo 5, de Ocampo 0, Helterbrand 0, Williams 0, Canaleta 0.

AIA-USA 67 - Hendley 11, Gibson 10, Wilkerson 10, Rawlings 9, Sloan 8, T. Pollitz 6, Nichols 5, Ruoff 5, E.Pollits 2, Hammonds 1, Harris 0, Asbury 0.

Quarters: 21-25; 39-31; 45-46; 72-67.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Best and Worst ISPs

Our exclusive survey reveals which companies you think provide the best and worst service.
Jeff Bertolucci, PC World

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 1:00 AM PDT

You want a faster Internet? So does IT professional Chris Hesler of Cincinnati. When his 5-megabits-per-second Road Runner broadband connection from Time Warner Cable proved too sluggish for his needs, Hesler, 22, upgraded to the company's top-of-the-line 8-mbps service. For him, the reduced latency times and 512-kilobits-per-second upload speed (up from 256 kbps) paid off.

"My roommate and I play a lot of video games, like World of Warcraft. We switched to get our latency times down a little bit on the games," says Hesler, who now has the ability to download a 1GB document in just 20 minutes.

That's fast, perhaps, but not fast enough--especially when it comes to uploads. Like many broadband users, Hesler craves more bandwidth: "I wish they'd increase the upload speed to at least a meg."

Chart: Fiber and Cable Providers Continue to Impress Home Users
Verizon came out on top with its FiOS ISP service; last year's favorite, Cablevision, came in a close second, tied with Cox. Click either the link or the icon below to see how ISPs scored.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Transforming your hobby into profit!

by: Carmi Tongol
31 October 2006

Do you want to earn extra cash on your spare time? Are you somehow thinking of a business but is hesitant to move along on your own because you lack knowledge on how to run it? Do you desire to operate a sideline business while keeping your day job? Whatever your reason is, test the waters and step into the world of commerce.

Here are a few hints to start off in the right direction and transform your hobbies into a business.

Be a computer tutor
If you know a lot on software application, networking, web designing or other computer-related skills, why not go and be a part time tutor? You will also master your skills by teaching others while earning extra money at the same time. You could come to your tutees house and charge on hourly basis. You could also rent a computer at an internet café and negotiate about the rate.

If you are an artist and in to fashion, print your most creative designs on plain T-shirt and blouses. Your artistic mind will shine on this business and you will also learn to showcase your craft at markets and fairs. You can buy T-shirts and blouses in volume and with your simple yet elegant designs, you can market your personalized shirts for affordable prices. This is just a simple step for a possible bigger business ahead. Artsy rules!

Food Biz
Are you the one who enjoys working with food? Get up and have a head for this business. Opportunities do exist whether you know how to bake, cook specialty foods, make some pastries, or even decorate a cake. If you know how to bake, start out selling it to your friends, office mates, neighborhood and other people you know. You may be able to penetrate the larger chains if you have established a name for your products. It will expand as the business grows.

House Doctor
If you can repair leaking faucets or even broken windows, or if you are an expert in doing home repairs, be prepared and make money on fixing those things in the house. Market yourself and your skills by being a handyman. You can do it by posting an advertisement somewhere in your place and let your neighbors, friends, relatives know it by telling them that you are in the business.

Web Biz
If you are technically minded and artistic, start with the great opportunity of creating web sites for small business. By advertising your own web site you could get to know people who are also interested in putting their businesses on the web.

Sew Fits
There are some people working full time on their job, students having their semester break and moms out there who know how to sew clothes, pillows, bed sheets or curtains. It is not a bad idea to start it soon. When you try to go to a department store or any market near your house, you will come to know that you will just need small capital but will get more profit in sewing especially pillows and bed sheets. Try to sew some and sell it. If they like the quality and design and the mark up price is just near the market price, they will purchase it and take some orders afterwards.

Write It!
Are you a book reader or a movie critic? You know what is happening around you? Do you love writing? Showcase some of your writing and be paid. There were many business owners who are willing to pay for your ideas by writing an article. You can find them by searching on the internet. All you need is a pen and paper. (It is good if you have a personal computer, but if you don’t and need to send it electronically, you can go to the nearest computer shop in your place.) You might get rejected at first but don’t get discouraged. Just continue submitting your work. You will be paid for time devoted on it and who knows? Maybe at the end of it you will come to establish a magazine publication of your own.

Bringing a skill or talent is your fist step in starting a business. However, there are some other things to consider when you want to go with it full time. You must have confidence in your ability to succeed, be a hard and smart worker, have good interpersonal relation with others, be flexible and most of all, have fun and love what you are doing. Start earning extra income now and strive of becoming a good entrepreneur with the great skills you have.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Gators go all the way

(1) Florida 84, (1) Ohio St. 75

By EDDIE PELLS, AP National WriterApril 3, 2007
AP - Apr 2, 11:59 pm EDT
More Photos

ATLANTA (AP) -- A long, tough season ended with a Gator chomp again.
Mission accomplished for Florida.

The Gators were too much to handle once again Monday night, keeping their stranglehold on the college basketball world with an 84-75 victory over Ohio State for their second straight national championship.

Al Horford had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Taurean Green had 16 and Greg Oden's 25 points and 12 rebounds weren't enough for Ohio State (35-4) to stop the Gators (35-5) from completing the quest they set upon when all the starters delayed their NBA plans for a try at another title.

"It feels great. This is what we came back to school for," Florida guard Corey Brewer said. "This is what we're all about at the University of Florida, winning championships. We're No. 1 again, two in a row, back-to-back. That's what we do."

They celebrated with the usual Gator chomps and took a chomp out of NCAA history, too -- becoming the first team to repeat since Duke in 1991-92, the first ever to go back-to-back with the same starting five and adding their name to the debate about the best teams of all time.
Best athletic programs of all time, too.

This win completes a 2007 championship-game sweep of the Buckeyes in the two biggest college sports -- men's hoops and football. Florida, a 41-14 winner in the football title game in January, remains the only program in history to hold both championships at the same time.
The celebration looked much the same as last year. Lots of jersey tugging, jumping onto press row and Joakim Noah running into the stands to hug it out with loved ones.

Billy Donovan added another gold star to his resume, which figures to command more than his current $1.7 million next season, whether he returns to Florida or bolts for a possible job offer at Kentucky.

"I'm so proud of these guys," Donovan said. "We've had to win different ways and with the expectations, and I think you really have to look at this team, and I'm not saying they are the best team, but you have to look at them and say they are one of the best teams to play this game."

It was hardly just a matter of Donovan rolling the ball out there. All season -- including in the 86-60 victory over Ohio State in December -- the Gators have morphed into whatever kind of team they needed to be to win.

In this one, stopping Oden figured to be the key, but really it was more complex than that. The 7-foot freshman, who may be one-year-and-done with the NBA beckoning, stayed out of foul trouble and played 38 minutes -- just what the Buckeyes figured they needed to have a chance.
Florida's focus, however, was more on stopping the rest of the team. Oden drew mostly single coverage when the ball went into the post. Donovan played a lot of zone and mixed his big men in and out, adding 6-10 Marreese Speights to the mix to give him five more fouls to play with.
That strategy worked well enough -- well enough to win at least. Ohio State couldn't take advantage of any other matchups, especially on the perimeter. Ivan Harris was the only Buckeye to make a 3-pointer over the first 39-plus minutes of the game, and he finished 2-for-8. Mike Conley Jr. finished with 20 points for Ohio State, but lots of them came late after the Buckeyes were playing big-time catch-up.

Meanwhile, one thing Florida has always been able to do is shoot the ball -- a nation-leading 53 percent this year -- and Monday night was no exception as the Gators went 10-for-18 from 3-point range. Florida also had quicker hands.

How frustrating it must have been for Ohio State to watch Oden block shot after shot, only to see the Gators grab the rebound and feed back out to Lee Humphrey for a 3.
That happened twice in the second half, both times when an Oden block looked like it might spark Ohio State, which kept the game in reach but couldn't get the deficit below six.
"The difference was they made some incredible plays, and we took away what we wanted to take away," OSU coach Thad Matta said. "They were shooting runners in. When you're playing a great team like Florida and those guys step up and make the plays, there's not a lot you can do. They made some incredible plays on us."

Green finished 3-for-3 from 3-point range and Humphrey was his usual killer self, going 4-for-7 and scoring 14 points. Florida's versatility showed most in the first half when those two and Brewer (13 points) hit back-to-back-to-back 3s to push Florida's lead to double digits.
Horford had a monster game, bodying up with the 7-foot Oden on defense and more than holding his own on the other end. He spotted up and made three 15-plus-foot jumpers and twisted and turned for a few more hoops. Clearly, another year in college has helped this 6-10 junior, who now looks every bit like a lottery pick.

Noah, on the other hand, probably sacrificed the most. He might have been the top pick had he left last season, but the presence of Oden and Kevin Durant, to say nothing of Noah's dwindling stats, have pushed him down.
He finished with eight points and three rebounds in this one, but big individual numbers were never the point with the Gators this year.
They came back for the championship and anything less would have felt hollow.
But there will be no regrets. Instead, how about a nice little debate about the best programs of all time?

Repeats will almost certainly go down as a rarity in this age of one-year-and-done college players, and nobody in the last 15 years -- even before the NBA money started skyrocketing -- could do it anyway.

As the trophy presentation began, there was a long, loud chant of "It's great ... to be ... a Florida Gator." But one, a bit less voracious, could also be heard: "One more year. One more year. One more year," a few Florida fans yelled from the stands.

Nothing wrong with dreaming, right?

In a way, though, Florida is already living that dream.

Updated on Tuesday, Apr 3, 2007 12:13 am EDT

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Mozilla Updates Mobile Browser

Update: Free downloadable Minimo adds features but faces ongoing stronger competition.
Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service
Sunday, April 01, 2007 01:00 AM PDT

The newest version of Minimo, the Mozilla mobile browser, became available this week in the midst of changes within the Minimo project that make its future uncertain.

Minimo 0.2, available for free download, is compatible with Windows Mobile 5.0 and is smaller and faster than previous versions, according to early users who posted comments to the blog about the browser. It also supports GPS (Global Positioning System), a cleaner user interface and a start page that includes bookmarks and search. Minimo is designed to be an alternative to the browser that comes with Windows Mobile and its creators promote its speed in accessing sites and other features such as tabs, better security and support for widgets.
The Minimo project, which isn't a Mozilla Corp. endeavor but is hosted by, was one of the earliest third-party mobile browser initiatives but seems to have been eclipsed by other developers, including Opera Software ASA.

In 2004, when Minimo seemed promising, Nokia Corp. made a financial investment in the initiative. But around the middle of 2004, users were posting questions to the Minimo forum asking if the project was still alive. By the following year, Nokia announced that it was developing its own browser using open-source components from Apple Inc.'s Safari browser that would be used in its future smartphones.

Those ups and downs have been tied to financing, said Doug Turner, the leader of the project. "It is an open source project that has had some financial backing, and during those times, we push hard. When there isn't funding, we keep it alive because it is something we use," he wrote in an e-mail.

Now, even after the most recent release, the future of Minimo is unclear. In late December, Turner wrote that he wouldn't be dedicating much time to it in the future. "There are lots of browsers in the space, the market is tightly controlled by cellular operators, and the end users aren't using the browser," he wrote on his blog. "This will change, but not for a few years."
He points to a market share report that shows that all mobile browsers combined don't add up to 1 percent of Internet use.

Opera, which also offers a free browser for phones including those running the newest OS from Microsoft, Windows Mobile 6.0, has been attracting more and more users. In February, there were 216,283 downloads of Opera's browser for Windows Mobile Smartphone and Pocket PC editions, up from 142,502 in the same month last year, Opera said.
Turner argues that Minimo has also held its own.

Minimo may end up heading in a different direction in order to better compete. "At the Firefox Summit, we had a brainstorming session that exposed some ideas that would help improve the lives of Firefox users that have mobile phones without having to build a full browser for the mobile handset. Things that we could do in a few months, rather than many years," Turner wrote in the blog posting. He plans to continue flushing out these ideas in the coming months.
Minimo may end up heading in a different direction in order to better compete. "At the Firefox Summit, we had a brainstorming session that exposed some ideas that would help improve the lives of Firefox users that have mobile phones without having to build a full browser for the mobile handset. Things that we could do in a few months, rather than many years," Turner wrote in the blog posting. He plans to continue flushing out these ideas in the coming months.
Both Minimo and Opera face renewed competition from Microsoft, which just this week began previewing new technology that could be included in future versions of its mobile browser.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

NASA Telescope Finds Planets Thrive Around Stellar Twins

March 29, 2007

The double sunset that Luke Skywalker gazed upon in the film "Star Wars" might not be a fantasy. Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have observed that planetary systems – dusty disks of asteroids, comets and possibly planets – are at least as abundant in twin-star systems as they are in those, like our own, with only one star. Since more than half of all stars are twins, or binaries, the finding suggests the universe is packed with planets that have two suns. Sunsets on some of those worlds would resemble the ones on Luke Skywalker's planet, Tatooine, where two fiery balls dip below the horizon one by one.

"There appears to be no bias against having planetary system formation in binary systems," said David Trilling of the University of Arizona, Tucson, lead author of a new paper about the research appearing in the April 1 issue of the Astrophysical Journal. "There could be countless planets out there with two or more suns." Previously, astronomers knew that planets could form in exceptionally wide binary systems, in which stars are 1,000 times farther apart than the distance between Earth and the sun, or 1,000 astronomical units. Of the approximately 200 planets discovered so far outside our solar system, about 50 orbit one member of a wide stellar duo. The new Spitzer study focuses on binary stars that are a bit more snug, with separation distances between zero and 500 astronomical units. Until now, not much was known about whether the close proximity of stars like these might affect the growth of planets. Standard planet-hunting techniques generally don't work well with these stars, but, in 2005, a NASA-funded astronomer found evidence for a planet candidate in one such multiple-star system (

This modified photo shows what a sunset might look like on a planet circling two snug suns. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech+ Full image and caption

Trilling and his colleagues used Spitzer's infrared, heat-seeking eyes to look not for planets, but for dusty disks in double-star systems. These so-called debris disks are made up of asteroid-like bits of leftover rock that never made it into rocky planets. Their presence indicates that the process of building planets has occurred around a star, or stars, possibly resulting in intact, mature planets. In the most comprehensive survey of its kind, the team looked for disks in 69 binary systems between about 50 and 200 light-years away from Earth. All of the stars are somewhat younger and more massive than our middle-aged sun. The data show that about 40 percent of the systems had disks, which is a bit higher than the frequency for a comparable sample of single stars. This means that planetary systems are at least as common around binary stars as they are around single stars.

In addition, the astronomers were shocked to find that disks were even more frequent (about 60 percent) around the tightest binaries in the study. These coziest of stellar companions are between zero and three astronomical units apart. Spitzer detected disks orbiting both members of the star pairs, rather than just one. Extra-tight star systems like these are where planets, if they are present, would experience Tatooine-like sunsets. "We were very surprised to find that the tight group had more disks," said Trilling. "This could mean that planet formation favors tight binaries over single stars, but it could also mean tight binaries are just dustier. Future observations should provide a better answer."

The Spitzer data also reveal that not all binary systems are friendly places for planets to form. The telescope detected far fewer disks altogether in intermediately spaced binary systems, between three to 50 astronomical units apart. This implies that stars may have to be either very close to each other, or fairly far apart, for planets to arise. "For a planet in a binary system, location is everything," said co-author Karl Stapelfeldt of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Binary systems were largely ignored before," added Trilling. "They are more difficult to study, but they might be the most common sites for planet formation in our galaxy." Other authors on the paper include: John Stansberry, George Rieke and Kate Su of the University of Arizona; Richard Gray of the Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C.; Chris Corbally of the Vatican Observatory, Tucson; Geoff Bryden, Andy Boden and Charles Beichman of JPL; and Christine Chen of the National Optical Astronomical Observatory, Tucson. JPL manages Spitzer for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology, also in Pasadena. The multiband imaging photometer for Spitzer was built by Ball Aerospace Corporation, Boulder, Colo.; the University of Arizona; and Boeing North American, Canoga Park, Calif. Co-author Rieke is the principal investigator.

For more information and graphics, visit and More information about extrasolar planets and NASA's planet-finding program is at

Whitney Clavin (818) 354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Opera Previews New Web, Mobile Browsers

Opera says its beta browser gives users a more convenient way to access their most visited sites.
Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service
Wednesday, March 28, 2007 12:00 PM GMT-08:00

Opera Software ASA released two technologies to beta testing Wednesday, one that the company said gives Web browser users a more convenient way to access their most visited sites, and another that shows off the next version of the Opera Mobile browser for Windows Mobile devices.

The Oslo company introduced Speed Dial, a new feature that lets people create nine visual bookmarks to their top Web sites that are immediately available in any new tab. The feature will be available in Opera 9.2 and is now available in beta from Opera's Web site.
Opera also unveiled a technology preview of the next release of the Opera browser for Windows Mobile. With Opera Mobile 8.65 users across all the PocketPC and smartphone versions of Windows Mobile will received new features such as searching directly in the address bar, copy text, save function for images and the ability to import Internet Explorer bookmarks. The Opera Mobile 8.65 beta is also available on Opera's Web site.

Opera has had more widespread success with its mobile browser than it has with its desktop version since it decided in August 2004 to ship browsers for devices running Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS. While the Opera Web browser trails Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer and Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox in market share reports, Opera has been successful in teaming with handset providers to offer its mobile browser on numerous devices. Just last month Microsoft said it plans to offer Opera Mobile in addition to its own mobile browser on some of the first devices that will run the new Windows Mobile 6 OS. The company came up with the idea of Speed Dial for its Web browser because people generally visit about five to 10 sites every day, said Johan Borg, team manager for Opera's desktop browser, in a press release. The new feature is aimed at giving them instant access to those sites, he said.

With each blank tab, Speed Dial presents a thumbnail preview of the top nine sites as selected by the user. Users also can enter the number corresponding with each bookmarked Speed Dial page in Opera's address field to access the page.

In addition to releasing the Opera Mobile 8.65 beta, Opera also announced some new Windows Mobile handsets on which users can now find Opera Mobile. Over the last few months, the browser became available on the following Windows Mobile devices: Motorola MOTO Q q9; the ASUS V1210 for Vodafone International and the VDA IV for Vodafone Germany; T-Mobile Ameo; Dopod U1000 in Asia; and the Toshiba G500.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Google Apps' Gmail Faces Downtime Problems

Google is grappling with performance and availability problems in its free Gmail service for at least the third time this month,
Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 04:00 PM GMT-08:00

For at least the third time this month, Google is grappling with performance and availability problems in the Gmail service of Google Apps, the suite of hosted services that many consider a potential threat to Microsoft's Office suite of desktop software.

The latest problem began affecting users on Tuesday morning (EDT). It remained unresolved Tuesday evening, affecting also regular Gmail users who aren't on Google Apps, according to a company spokesman.

"A number of Gmail users are having some difficulty accessing and sending mail, and we are working as quickly as we can to resolve the problem. Some Google Apps accounts are also affected," he wrote via e-mail. "We know how important e-mail is to our users, so we take issues like this very seriously."


The software-as-a-service model, in which applications are hosted centrally by their provider, has generated enthusiasm as an alternative to the traditional approach of having users load and maintain software on their own servers and PCs. Championed by Google and seen as a threat to Microsoft's core business, this software-as-a-service model, however, has an Achilles heel: availability problems.

Several threads on the Google Apps discussion forum show that users started reporting problems accessing the Gmail component of the suite at around 10 a.m. EDT. A Google official who posts messages on behalf of the company in Google Apps discussion boards under the Google Guide name acknowledged passing on the complaints to the appropriate Google staffers in a thread at around 1:10 p.m. EDT.

Some time later, at close to 4 p.m. EDT, Google Guide popped up in another discussion thread, acknowledging the problem existed but saying it hadn't been solved yet.

"A subset of our users are still experiencing 'Server Errors' and 'Oops' messages when trying to access Google Apps email accounts. Since many of you depend on email communications, we want to assure you that we are working diligently to find a resolution. This is currently our top priority and we'll continue to post updates as they become available," this Google official wrote.

A similar Gmail access problem in Google Apps erupted on March 12 and apparently lasted at least two hours, as acknowledged by Google Guide in a thread.

On March 1st, Google Apps' Gmail was hit with an outage that affected some users starting at around 1:30 p.m. EDT, but it wasn't until more than 8 hours later that Google Guide declared the problem solved.

How Many Affected?

All three incidents this month have affected an undetermined "subset" of Google Apps users, including those on the Premier version of the suite, who pay a fee that grants them a service-level commitment from Google of 99.99 percent uptime. In fact, the March 1st incident prompted Google to offer its Premier customers an extension on their contract at no extra charge.

"As a gesture of appreciation, we are offering all of our Premier Edition customers the maximum credit specified in our SLA," Google Guide wrote at the time. "For those receiving a credit, your free trial of the Premier Edition will still expire on April 30th, 2007, but we will extend your contract to May 15, 2008. This translates to an extra 15 days of Google Apps free of charge."

Grant Cummings, an IT professional from Ohio, is a Premier customer affected by the Gmail problems. He pays the $50 per user annual Premier fee for himself and his wife, and hosts two personal sites on Google Apps: Nasal Passages and Ay-Ziggy-Zoomba.

"Today is the second major outage of service for one of us. About 2-3 weeks ago I was unable to log in, send or receive e-mail on my account, and today she's in the same boat," he wrote in an e-mail interview with IDG News Service.

Those having technical difficulties with Google Apps can contact the support team through the Google Apps Help Center.

Google, Yahoo May Not Highlight The Good Stuff

Researchers are trying to figure out how to make more of the good stuff float to the top of Internet search engines and keep more of the bad stuff buried.
Network World staff, Network World
Monday, March 26, 2007 11:00 PM PDT

Researchers are trying to figure out how to make more of the good stuff float to the top of Internet search engines and keep more of the bad stuff buried.
At Queensland University of Technology in Australia, Professor Audun Josang is trying to come up with a system through which search engines would rank Web sites based on their reputation, based in part on input from the broad Internet community of users. Sites that try to hook visitors via phishing scams, for instance, could be outed by users in a "social control" system and search engines could be notified, he said.

"Just because a Web site ranks highly on a search engine doesn't mean it's a good Web site," he said in a statement. "In fact, highly ranked Web sites can be malicious."
The current Web page rankings are too easily manipulated, he said.
"I think in the future reputation systems, integrated into search engines, can be used to weed out such Web sites by giving them a low ranking and thereby making them invisible to unsuspecting users," Josang said in a statement.

Where's the science?

One effect of having so many dangerous and junky Web sites at the top of search engine results is that the good ones are harder to find.

Researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute in England say key science sites are failing to show up in the top 30 Google search results, depending on the topic. Their study is looking at sites on topics such as HIV/AIDS (where online resources tend to be more structured), climate change, terrorism (where online resources tend to be more dispersed) and the Internet. They have used 'webmetric analysis" to plot on graphs how resources are linked to one another across the Web.
One of the researchers' basic observations is that Google and other search engines play a key gatekeeper role and that the Internet isn't just a fair-playing field when it comes to information distribution. They are urging policymakers and educators to pay close attention to this situation and work to make the Web a more useful source of information on important topics. Researchers too need to think about more than just tossing their information onto the Web, but make sure that people will be able to find it.

Check out Network World's Alpha Doggs blog for the latest in networking research at universities and other labs.

For more information about enterprise networking, go to NetworkWorld.
Story copyright 2007 Network World Inc. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Windows Home Server Tests Find Nearly 2400 Bugs

Microsoft acknowledges reports may delay consumer server's release.
Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
Sunday, March 25, 2007 12:00 PM PDT

Microsoft's Windows Home Server developers have been inundated with bug reports on the under-construction consumer server software, which--when it was announced in January--was expected to ship this summer. There was no word last week from Microsoft whether the necessary fixes would delay that planned release.

Bugs Tallied
In an entry on Microsoft's Home Server blog, program manager Chris Sullivan said that the group has received nearly 2400 bug reports so far from beta testers, and still had 495, or about 21 percent of the total, classified as "active." In Microsoft nomenclature, an active bug is one still under investigation, pending a response or waiting to be investigated. "As you can see, we have our work cut out for us," said Sullivan. Of the bugs that have been addressed, Sullivan said that only 15 percent have actually been fixed. The remainder are issues that are in the server by design (13 percent), not reproducible (21 percent), will be postponed to later versions (11 percent) or likely won't be fixed (7 percent).

Slow Start Draws Rivals
Windows Home Server, which debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), will be Microsoft's first home-specific server software. In January, company executives said the software would ship before the back-to-school selling season starts in July and August, with a release to manufacturing deadline set for late June. The software, based primarily on Windows Server 2003 code, will connect to systems running Windows Vista and Windows XP for file sharing, media playing and backup; and to Mac OS X and Linux machines for file sharing.
Microsoft did not respond to a call asking for a status update on development, and whether the summer release schedule still holds.

Home Server won't be sold separately, as are other server-based operating systems from the company. Instead, computer makers will package the software as part of ready-to-go appliances. Hewlett-Packard, for example, will sell something it calls MediaSmart Server that runs Home Server on an AMD-powered system.

For more enterprise computing news, visit Computerworld.
Story copyright © 2007 Computerworld Inc. All rights reserved

Structure Of The Sun's Magnetic Field

Source: European Space Agency
Date: March 25, 2007
More on:

Science Daily Hinode, the newest solar observatory on the space scene, has obtained never-before-seen images showing that the sun's magnetic field is much more turbulent and dynamic than previously known.

This image of the solar 'chromosphere' was obtained on on 20 November 2006 by the Hinode solar observatory, and reveals the structure of the solar magnetic field rising vertically from a sunspot (an area of strong magnetic field), outward into the solar atmopshere. The chromosphere a thin 'layer' of solar atmosphere 'sandwiched' between the sun's visible surface (or photosphere) and its outer atmosphere (or corona). The chromosphere is the source of ultra violet radiation. (Credit: Hinode JAXA/NASA/PPARC)

Hinode, Japanese for 'sunrise', was launched on 23 September 2006 to study the sun's magnetic field and how its explosive energy propagates through the different layers of the solar atmosphere.

"For the first time, we are now able to make out tiny granules of hot gas that rise and fall in the sun's magnified atmosphere," said Dick Fisher, director of NASA's Heliophysics Division. "These images will open up a new era of study on some of the sun's processes that effect Earth, astronauts, orbiting satellites and the solar system."

Hinode's three primary instruments, the Solar Optical Telescope, the X-ray Telescope and the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer, are observing the different layers of the sun. Studies focus on the solar atmosphere from the photosphere - the visible surface of the sun, to the corona - the outer atmosphere that extends outward into the solar system.

Thanks to coordinated measurements from the three instruments, Hinode is already showing how changes in the structure of the magnetic field and the release of magnetic energy in the low atmosphere spread outward through the corona and into interplanetary space.

"The release of magnetic energy is at the base of space weather," says Bernhard Fleck, ESA's SOHO and Hinode Project Scientist. "Complementing the SOHO data with those of Hinode will allow us to improve our understanding of the violent processes on the Sun that drive space storms. The synergies between the two missions will clearly boost our space weather forecasting capabilities."

Space weather involves the production of energetic particles and the emissions of electromagnetic radiation. These bursts of energy can black out long-distance communications over entire continents and disrupt the global navigational system.

"Hinode images are revealing irrefutable evidence for the presence of turbulence-driven processes that are bringing magnetic fields, on all scales, to the sun's surface, resulting in an extremely dynamic chromosphere or gaseous envelope around the sun," said Alan Title, a corporate senior fellow at Lockheed Martin, Palo Alto, California, and consulting professor of physics at Stanford University, Stanford, California.

By following the evolution of the solar structures that outline the magnetic field before, during and after these explosive events, scientists hope to find clear evidence to establish that magnetic reconnection – a process whereby magnetic field lines from different magnetic domains are spliced to one another and cause a reconfiguration of the magnetic field - is the underlying cause for this explosive activity.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by European Space Agency.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fallacy #4: Atoms are simple substances.

This is the very expression used in this Number. We have here an example of a scientific fact given through revelation before it was established by scientific experimentation, and we can call this an "anachronistic discovery" in science. The Word cautions us here not to think that atoms are simple substances, that is, indivisible. Today we know that atoms are NOT simple substances, meaning, indivisible entities, but are themselves composed of still smaller substances. Recently it was reported on the news that scientists created "anti-matter" sub-atomic particles whose lifespan was around one-billionth of a second. New substances and particles are now being discovered on a regular basis and there is no theoretical end in sight. It is thus a scientific fallacy to believe of any physical substance that it is composed solely of itself. In other words, there is no smallest substance or particle!

Friday, March 23, 2007

News In Brief: Television on cell phones; an online version of Photoshop.

PC World Staff

Friday, March 23, 2007 04:00 PM PDT

Product Pipeline

Samsung's SCH-u620 with Verizon's V Cast Mobile TV.

Cell Phone TV: Verizon Wireless has become the first major carrier to provide true broadcast-style TV on a cell phone. The company's V Cast Mobile TV features CSI: Miami, The Daily Show, The Tonight Show, and other popular programs on eight 24-hour channels including CBS Mobile, ESPN, and Comedy Central. Launching in 19 cities with monthly charges of $15 to $25, the service employs technology from Qualcomm-owned MediaFlo and requires a compatible phone such as Samsung's SCH-u620 (shown above). Cingular has also signed a deal to deliver MediaFlo service to its customers.

Photobucket preview of Web-based Photoshop.

Photoshop Online: Graphics giant Adobe plans to make a basic version of its flagship image editing software, Photoshop, available as a free, Web-based application later this year. (It was previewed in a public beta at the photo-sharing site Photobucket.) Photoshop's Web version won't be as full-featured as the desktop application, but it won't require a software installation, either.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

NBC, News Corp. Team Up for YouTube Rival

News Corp. and NBC Universal will launch a video-streaming Web site this year to challenge Google's YouTube.
Ben Ames, IDG News Service

Thursday, March 22, 2007 11:00 AM PDT

News Corp। and NBC Universal will challenge Google Inc।'s YouTube for online eyeballs and advertising dollars by launching a video-streaming Web site by the third quarter, News Corp. announced Thursday.Through a promotion deal with AOL LLC, Microsoft Corp.'s MSN, MySpace and Yahoo Inc., the new site will reach 65 million viewers, accounting for 96 percent of U.S. unique online users on a monthly basis, the company said.

To keep those viewers, NBC and News Corp। will offer free viewing of TV episodes by supporting the business with advertising by Cadbury Schweppes PLC, Cisco Systems Inc., Esurance Inc., Intel Corp. and General Motors Corp. The partners will also try to create an interactive Web community by inviting users to create personalized video playlists, mashups, online communities and a video-search function.

NBC and News Corp। could also use the site as a virtual channel some day, licensing and producing original programming in addition to the standard network fare including programs like "Heroes," "24," "My Name is Earl," "Saturday Night Live," "The Simpsons" and "Prison Break."

In contrast to the amateur clips available on YouTube, the new site will give consumers professionally produced video, said News Corp। President Peter Chernin in a statement. The site will offer a library of premium content from a dozen networks and two film studios. The partners have not announced the site's name or management, but said that its transitional leader will be George Kliavkoff, who is currently NBC Universal's chief digital officer.

Rather than pull viewers away from its partner portals like AOL, the site will feed its video to them। That design will allow viewers to play videos without leaving AOL's site or even opening additional Web browser windows, according to a statement by AOL spokeswoman Anne Bentley.

AOL also played down the brewing rivalry with YouTube, saying that YouTube owner Google also holds a five percent stake in AOL। So both companies will benefit as AOL draws a portion of the advertising revenue generated by the new site, Bentley said.

Likewise, MSN parent Microsoft said the new site could create a major new revenue stream through advertising dollars।

"Our investments in MSN Video and SoapBox over the past couple of years have shown us that video is an amazing driver of user engagement and excitement, both for consumers and for advertisers," said Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft's platform and services division, in a release.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Firefox Hit by Fewer Flaws Than IE in 2006

According to Symantec, Mozilla's Firefox suffered from 26 percent fewer vulnerabilities in the second half of 2006.
Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
Wednesday, March 21, 2007 01:00 AM PDT

Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox suffered from 26 percent fewer vulnerabilities in the second half of 2006 than Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer, a security company's research said Monday.
According to Symantec's tally, 40 Firefox vulnerabilities were disclosed between August and December 2006; Internet Explorer (IE), meanwhile, was hit with 54 bugs. Opera and Safari -- the browser Apple Inc. bundles with Mac OS X -- had four flaws each.

For all of 2006, however, the numbers were nearly neck and neck: Firefox was nailed by 87 flaws during the 12 months, IE by 92. The trend line also put Firefox in the better light. The open-source browser had 15 percent fewer vulnerabilities in the second half of the year compared to the first, while IE's total increased 42 percent during the period.

"Internet Explorer was particularly affected by concerted efforts to 'fuzz' the browser for new vulnerabilities," said the Symantec report, which cited July's 'Month of Browser Bugs' project as a big contributor. "The majority reported affected Internet Explorer or Windows components accessible through the browser," Symantec said.

To add insult to injury to IE, Mozilla developers patched Firefox five times faster than did Microsoft's. On average, Firefox had an attack exposure window -- the amount of time between the disclosure of a bug and when it was patched -- of just two days based on a sample set of 26 flaws. By comparison, Microsoft took an average of 10 days to patch the sample 15 vulnerabilities. Both vendors' attack windows were a day longer in the second half of the year than in the first six months.

"Web browsers continue to be the big exploit area," said Vincent Weafer, senior director of Symantec's security response team "And they will increasingly be more important as more data reside on the back end, as Web applications become more popular."

The most recent data pegged IE's market share at 79.1 percent and Firefox's at 14.2 percent. Safari and Opera came in third and fourth, respectively, with 4.9 percent and 0.79 percent.
Symantec's twice-annual Internet security threat report can be found on the Cupertino, Calif., company's Web site.

For more enterprise computing news, visit Computerworld.
Story copyright © 2007 Computerworld Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Computer #2: Google Expands Pay-Per-Action Ads Test

In the new model advertisers would pay only when the ad-click yeilds a specific result.
Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service
Tuesday, March 20, 2007 04:00 PM PDT

Google Inc. is expanding a test it began last year of pay-per-action ads, an ad format that is similar to pay-per-click ads but that experts say is much less prone to click fraud.
In the pay-per-action (PPA) model, advertisers pay whenever the click on the ad yields a specific result, such as when users purchase something or complete an online form.
On Tuesday, Google opened up its PPA test to more advertisers and publishers and gave them more automated tools for things like designing campaigns and creating ads, said Rob Kniaz, product manager for Google's advertising products.

The PPA ads run only on the AdSense for Content network of partner sites for now, and are only available to U.S. advertisers and publishers. Site publishers can select individual ads, a set of ads or opt to have ads run that are contextually related to their site's content.
Participation in the PPA test is by invitation only. Publishers and advertisers can request to be included by going to the program's Web page.

Unlike PPA ads, the pay-per-click (PPC) model calls for advertisers to pay whenever a user clicks on their ads. PPC ads are vulnerable to click fraud, which occurs when someone clicks on a PPC ad without any intent to do business with the advertiser. Reasons for engaging in click fraud include the desire of a site publisher to increase commission revenue or the attempt by an advertiser's competitor to drive up its ad spending.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Computer #1: Hackers Sell IDs for $14, Symantec Says

Malicious documents help crack servers and steal data, according to security report.
Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service
Monday, March 19, 2007 08:00 AM PDT

Identity thieves are offering a person's credit-card number, date of birth and other sensitive information for as little as US$14 over the Internet, said a new report on online threats released Monday.

The data is sold on so-called "underground economy servers," used by criminal organizations to hawk information they've captured through hacking, Symantec Corp. said in its Internet Security Threat Report, which tracked online trends from June to December 2006. The information can then be used for identity scams such as opening a bank account in a false name.
"U.S.-based credit cards with a card verification number were available for between US$1 to $6, while an identity -- including a U.S. bank account, credit card, date of birth and government-issued identification number -- was available for between $14 to $18," the report said.
Some 51 percent of the servers hosting the information were in the U.S., in part because the growth in broadband Internet access in the U.S. has created new opportunities for criminals, Symantec said. About 86 percent of the credit and debit card numbers available on those servers were issued by U.S. banks, it said.

One way that criminals have gained access to computers is by exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities, or software flaws that are being exploited as soon as they are revealed and before a patch has been released.

Symantec documented 12 zero-day vulnerabilities in the period from June to December 2006. Only one was found in its two prior six-month reporting periods, the company said.
Hackers have exploited some of those vulnerabilities by creating malicious documents in Microsoft Office and other software, said Ollie Whitehouse, a security architect at Symantec.
A malicious Word or Excel document, when attached to a spam e-mail, has a greater chance of being opened by someone since it may appear legitimate and be targeted at an employee of a specific company.

While security software programs will often block executable programs attached to e-mail, common Office documents are allowed to go through, Whitehouse said. "A business isn't going to say 'We will no longer accept Office documents received via email,'" Whitehouse said. "I think productivity would go through the floor at that point. Unfortunately, this is where the security requirement and the business requirement do really clash." A video posted on Symantec's blog, shows a sophisticated attack where a malicious document is opened that puts a harmful executable onto the system and then opens a regular Word document. The attack is almost invisible to the user, apart from a flicker on the screen before the Word document opens.
"Office documents -- PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets -- and graphics like JPEGs aren't necessarily considered malicious file formats, so the user is more inclined to open them," Whitehouse said.

Medicine #1: New Russian drug may help fight bird flu


ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, March 19 (UPI) -- Russian scientists have created a new anti-virus drug that they allege can help neutralize the potentially deadly H5N1 bird flu virus.
The Russian news agency ITAR-Tass reported scientists from the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and the Russian Academy of Sciences developed the new drug that is far superior to current treatments.

Called Triazoverin, the academy's newest creation must wait for official state approval.
Russian Academy of Medical Sciences official Oleg Kiselev said the drug represents "a major achievement of Russian science and a result of fruitful cooperation of the two leading institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences."
He added the new drug is unique in its ability to act at any stage of an infection, no matter how severe.

ITAR-Tass said the development project won funding from the Science of the Russian Federation and the Russian Ministry of Education.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Science #1: NASA Studies How Airborne Particles Affect Climate Change

Source: NASA Ames Research Center
Date: March 18, 2007

Science Daily — A recent NASA study links natural and human-made aerosol particles to how much Earth warms or cools. Earth's atmosphere acts as a protective shield that regulates how much solar energy the planet absorbs or deflects. The Intercontinental Chemical Transport Experiment studied how chemicals and pollution affect that protective shield by measuring air flowing from North America and across the Atlantic Ocean.

Aerosol particles (haze particles suspended in the atmosphere, generally smaller than cloud droplets) affect climate by changing the flow of radiant energy from the sun to the Earth's surfaces and within the atmosphere. They do this both directly, by scattering and absorbing solar radiation, and indirectly, by changing cloud properties, rain, snow, and atmospheric mixing. Aerosol particles are extremely varied, in part because they have very many sources, both manmade and natural (e.g., car exhaust, power plants, forest fires, evaporation from petroleum products, agriculture, natural living plants, dust storms, breaking ocean waves, volcanoes). (Credit: Image courtesy of International Consortium for Atmospheric Research on Transport and Transformation (ICARTT))

"The majority of aerosols form a layer of haze near the Earth's surface, which can cause either a cooling or warming effect, depending on aerosol type and location," said Jens Redemann, lead author of the science paper at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Different types of aerosol particles can influence visible light and other kinds of radiation, affecting climate and temperatures, the scientists reported. "Changing the flow of radiation – including light – above and within the atmosphere changes the energy available for driving Earth's climate," said Phil Russell, also a NASA Ames scientist.

"Our study measured how aerosols change the flow of solar energy," Russell said. This solar energy includes visible light and also radiation at shorter and longer wavelengths in the ultraviolet and infrared ranges.

To find out the extent to which tiny particles in the air could affect climate, NASA scientists flew in a low-flying aircraft over the dark waters of the Gulf of Maine. Two types of instruments on the aircraft measured radiation from the sun.

Radiometers – devices that measure the intensity of radiant energy – measured total solar energy coming from all directions. At the same time, a sun photometer – an instrument that measures the intensity of the sun’s light – measured sunlight coming directly, straight from the sun through the atmosphere. The quantity of aerosols in the atmosphere between the sun photometer and the sun is proportional to the difference between the light intensity measured by the sun photometer and the amount of light that would pass through an aerosol-free atmosphere.

Combining measurements of total solar light intensity from all directions, solar light intensity directly, straight from the sun, and the amount of aerosols in the atmospheric column, scientists can estimate how much of the sun’s energy is scattered (redirected) and absorbed (causes heating) by atmospheric aerosols. These measurements are useful to climate scientists as a reality check for computer climate models.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by NASA Ames Research Center.

Fallacy #3: Genes have the power to reproduce life or Biological organisms "have life within them"

According to these two fallacies of science "seeds [are] impressed with the property of reproducing themselves" and, "life has been imparted to them." The fallacious idea that seeds or genes reproduce or transmit life has led to all sorts of outlandish ideas in sociobiology. According to one popular theory, genes, in their frantic attempt to survive and perpetuate themselves, create physically attractive women so as to have a better chance to be picked by men for reproducing offspring, and thus perpetuating those genes. In this view, a human being is an egg's way of making another egg. However, the Writings explain that genes (or seeds) do not contain life in themselves but are only receptor organs into which life flows in on a continuous basis. Thus, biology is not the "science of life" but the "science of the receptors of life."
On a recent radio talk show, a woman author speaking about pregnancy, said that "we women have the power to get pregnant and produce life in our womb, therefore we have the ability to..." However, in actuality, pregnancy produces organs of life which can receive life through continuous influx from the Lord. The life in us does not belong to our body, but flows through it. This is a scientific revelation that should not be left out of NC science textbooks. In my view, science textbooks in the future will strive to incorporate the scientific revelations given in the Writings. NC textbooks can do this today.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Health #2: Hospitals Should Allow Cell Phone Use

Posted by Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.
on Thu, Mar 15, 2007, 5:51 pm PDT

Hospitals are probably the last place on Earth where cell phones are still not allowed. But if the conclusions of a recent study from the Mayo Clinic hold any sway, the cell phone armies will soon invade there, too. And I'm going to explain why that's a good thing.

Many hospitals ban the use of cell phones because they fear that the phones' electromagnetic signals might interfere with some medical devices and so endanger patients. The Federal Communications Commission has even warned that electronic medical devices in hospitals may be shut down by electromagnetic waves from cell phones. However, these fears and warnings are not based on any proof that cell phones are dangerous in the hospital environment.

A careful study by investigators at the Mayo Clinic, published in the March issue of Mayo Clinics Proceedings, puts these concerns to rest. They conducted 300 tests over a 5½-month period on the effects of two different cell phones on a total of 192 medical devices.

Tests were carried out in multiple patient-care areas, including intensive care units, to determine the effects of initiating or answering a call, talking on the phone, and the ringing of the telephone. None of these cell phone functions interfered with electronic equipment at any of the hospital sites. The authors conclude that "when cellular telephones are used in a normal way, no noticeable interference or interactions occurred with the medical devices."

So, cell phones don't disturb hospitals, though cell phone users might. I have never understood the love affair being carried out (in public) between Americans (and, increasingly, people around the world) and their cell phones; my wife and I have somehow managed very nicely to survive without one (two, actually). We have all been annoyed by the seemingly endless nattering on cell phones by passengers on trains and by fellow diners in restaurants.

And yet, I believe that hospitals should permit visitors to use cell phones. Visits to patients often occur at times of high stress when visitors want to maintain contacts with family and friends and may need to send or receive urgent messages.

My major concern is that loud, constant, and unnecessary talking by discourteous cell phone users will annoy other patients or visitors. If cell phones should be restricted anywhere, however, I vote to ban their use while driving a car.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Health #1: Can Black Pepper Be Poisonous?

Posted by Andrew Weil, M.D.
on Mon, Mar 12, 2007, 4:05 pm PDT

Black pepper is ubiquitous on the world's dining tables, but recently, I was asked if it can be poisonous। The answer is, maybe, but you would have to use an awful lot of pepper for a long time to run into trouble.

The concern about pepper arises from one of its components, safrole, also found in small amounts in star anise, nutmeg, witch hazel, and basil। In the 1960s, the FDA banned the use of safrole in food in the United States after it was found that injecting large amounts caused liver cancer in lab rats.

Perhaps the biggest effect of this ban has been to eliminate the use of sassafras root in the making of root beer। Volatile oils found in the bark of the root of the sassafras plant are 80 percent safrole. Nowadays, sassafras can be used as an ingredient in root beer only if the safrole is removed through a laboratory extraction process.

Black pepper is the most popular spice in the world, and black, green and white peppercorns all come from the black pepper plant (Piper nigrum), native to Asia। Black is the whole, partially ripened fruit; green is the unripe fruit; and white is the peeled seed.

I'm not that concerned about safrole। Eating moderate amount of it in plant products (such as sassafras tea) is not comparable to injecting large amounts of the pure chemical into the abdomens of rats. But black pepper can be an irritant of the GI tract, urinary tract, and prostate, and I don't think it should be consumed frequently in quantity.

I generally don't let waiters grind their pepper mills over my food at restaurants until I taste it first। For a hot spice, I prefer red pepper, which comes from a different plant (Capsicum spp.), doesn't have any natural carcinogenic activity, has a long history of medicinal use, and provides healthful carotenoids. It can help lower cholesterol and stimulate circulation, and can actually help heal the lining of the stomach.

While we're on the subject of pepper, you should know that pink peppercorns are not true pepper। They're the dried berries of the Brazilian pepper tree (Schinus terebinthfolius) and have become popular despite questions about their safety.

Pink peppercorns can cause symptoms resembling those of poison ivy/oak, as well as headaches, swollen eyelids, shortness of breath, chest pains, sore throat, hoarseness, upset stomach, diarrhea and hemorrhoids। I avoid them.

Finally, Sichuan peppercorns, used in East Asian cuisine, are the dried fruits of the prickly ash tree (Zanthoxylum piperitum). They have an interesting numbing effect on the tongue in addition to a peppery flavor, and their toxicity appears to be minimal.

Article #1: Using Your Time Wisely

The question often asked is do we really use our time to our own best interests? To the best interests of our family, and the best interests of our employer (or employees, if we happen to be the boss)?

A study was done at a typical American plant and it was discovered that the people working on the line and paid an average wage watched an average of 30 hours of television each week. The person in charge of the line watched an average of 25 hours of television a week. The foreman watched an average of 20 hours of television a week; the plant superintendent watched an average of 15 hours of television a week; the vice president of the plant watched an average of 12-15 hours of television each week. The president watched an average of 8-12 hours of television every week. The chairman of the board watched an average of 4-8 hours of television a week, and 50% of that time the chairman was watching training videos.

Apparently this study reveals that those with fewer television hours are those who climb higher, further and faster.

Could this be because much of the time spent watching television is either for entertainment or just to relax? Now all of that's not bad, but I'm wondering if we were to reduce in the average person's life the time spent watching television by only 20%, what would the family and financial, as well as health, benefits be? Chances are good there would be more time for relating with others within the family, more time for exercising, and more time for taking care of other important things that are always there for families to do together.

What about the contributions we could make to society if we reduced our television watching time by only 20%? Research shows that people who get involved in voluntary activities for the betterment of others invariably do better in their own careers and personal lives. There is just something inspiring about doing something for others.

Perhaps you are familiar with this quote, You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want. It's certainly something to think about, isn't it? So, think about it – follow through and structure your time in such a way that you are learning and doing instead of just laughing and looking. Don't misunderstand. Some laughing and looking is good. Too much of it will not take you from where you are to where you want to go.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Discovery #3: Mars' South Pole Ice Deep and Wide

March 15, 2007

Pasadena, Calif. -- New measurements of Mars' south polar region indicate extensive frozen water. The polar region contains enough frozen water to cover the whole planet in a liquid layer approximately 11 meters (36 feet) deep. A joint NASA-Italian Space Agency instrument on the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft provided these data. This new estimate comes from mapping the thickness of the ice. The Mars Express orbiter's radar instrument has made more than 300 virtual slices through layered deposits covering the pole to map the ice. The radar sees through icy layers to the lower boundary, which is as deep as 3.7 kilometers (2.3 miles) below the surface. "The south polar layered deposits of Mars cover an area bigger than Texas. The amount of water they contain has been estimated before, but never with the level of confidence this radar makes possible," said Jeffrey Plaut of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena Calif. Plaut is co-principal investigator for the radar and lead author of a new report on these findings published in the March 15 online edition of the journal Science. The instrument, named the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS), also is mapping the thickness of similar layered deposits at the north pole of Mars. "Our radar is doing its job extremely well," said Giovanni Picardi, a professor at the University of Rome "La Sapienza," and principal investigator for the instrument. "MARSIS is showing itself to be a very powerful tool to probe underneath the Martian surface, and it's showing how our team's goals, such as probing the polar layered deposits, are being successfully achieved," Picardi said. "Not only is MARSIS providing us with the first-ever views of Mars subsurface at those depths, but the details we are seeing are truly amazing. We expect even greater results when we have concluded an ongoing, sophisticated fine-tuning of our data processing methods. These should enable us to understand even better the surface and subsurface composition." Polar layered deposits hold most of the known water on modern Mars, though other areas of the planet appear to have been very wet at times in the past. Understanding the history and fate of water on Mars is a key to studying whether Mars has ever supported life, since all known life depends on liquid water. The polar layered deposits extend beyond and beneath a polar cap of bright-white frozen carbon dioxide and water at Mars' south pole. Dust darkens many of the layers. However, the strength of the echo that the radar receives from the rocky surface underneath the layered deposits suggests the composition of the layered deposits is at least 90 percent frozen water. One area with an especially bright reflection from the base of the deposits puzzles researchers. It resembles what a thin layer of liquid water might look like to the radar instrument, but the conditions are so cold that the presence of melted water is deemed highly unlikely. Detecting the shape of the ground surface beneath the ice deposits provides information about even deeper structures of Mars. "We didn't really know where the bottom of the deposit was," Plaut said. "Now we can see that the crust has not been depressed by the weight of the ice as it would be on the Earth. The crust and upper mantle of Mars are stiffer than the Earth's, probably because the interior of Mars is so much colder." The MARSIS instrument on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter was developed jointly by the Italian Space Agency and NASA, under the scientific supervision of the University of Rome "La Sapienza," in partnership with JPL and the University of Iowa, Iowa City. JPL manages NASA's roles in Mars Express for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

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