Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Linux visionary convicted of murder
By Darren Pauli
Linux visionary Hans Reiser has been convicted of first-degree murder for killing his estranged wife in 2006 and faces life imprisonment.
Reiser, founder of Namesys which develops the Linux-based Reiser file systems, was charged with the deliberate and premeditated murder of Nina Reiser by an Oakland, California courthouse after an almost six-month trial.
The fate of the troubled ReiserFS and Reiser4 file systems may be sealed, following media reports that Namesys has ceased commercial activity and the rapid loss of support for the latter system in the open source community.
ReiserFS was the first journaling file system included in the Linux kernel and is the default system for a number of distributions including Elive, Linspire, and Xandros.
Reiser4 is a separate redevelopment which has failed to gain traction in open source communities, despite receiving funds from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Linspire.
Novell withdrew its commitment to use Reiser4 in its SUSE Linux distribution, and opted for the more popular ext3 file system.
Jonathan Corbet, founder of Linux news Web site LWN.net, told Computerworld US the Reiser project was stymied after the arrest of Hans Reiser in October 2006.
"Had Hans not been arrested, there is a reasonable chance that Reiser4 would have made it into the kernel by now," Corbet said.
"The end of Namesys as a functioning company is what really stopped progress with Reiser4.
"There are still a couple of people putting some volunteer effort into Reiser4, so it could, just maybe, still make it into the mainline [kernel] someday, but progress is very slow and there's not a whole lot of people who are interested anymore."
The conviction was handed down amid a lack of evidence including the body of Nina Reiser, possible weapons, and motive.
The Reisers were separated at the time of the murder, and were in the middle of a contentious divorce and battle for custody of their two children.
Hans Reiser was arrested a month after the killing after authorities discovered traces of blood in his home and car. The court also heard that Reiser had removed the front passenger seat of his Honda Civic and hosed the interior.
Jurors agreed with prosecution that there was enough circumstantial evidence to convict the 44 year old of first degree murder.
William DuBois, Reiser's attorney, likened Hans to a harmless platypus, apparently in his defense, and "welcomed all vultures" to place an offer to buy Namesys.
(Elizabeth Montalbano contributed to this report.)
Monday, April 28, 2008
Only a month has passed since ordinary Cubans won the right to own computers, and the government still keeps a rigid grip on Internet access.
But that hasn't stopped thousands from finding their way into cyberspace. And a daring few post candid blogs about life in the communist-run country that have garnered international audiences.
Yoani Sanchez writes the "Generacion Y" blog and gets more than a million hits a month, mostly from abroad — though she has begun to strike a chord in Cuba. On her site and others, anonymous Cubans offer stinging criticisms of their government.
But it isn't simple. To post her blog, Sanchez dresses like a tourist and slips into Havana hotels with Web access for foreigners. It costs about $6 an hour and she can't afford to stay long given the price and the possibility someone might catch her connecting without permission.
It's a testament to the ingenuity and black-market prowess Cubans have developed living on salaries averaging $20 a month, with constant restrictions and shortages.
The connections Cuban bloggers are making with the outside world via the Internet are irreversible, said Sanchez, who this month won the Ortega y Gasset Prize for digital journalism, a top Spanish media award.
"With each step we take in that direction, it's harder for the government to push us back," she said.
On an island where many censor themselves to avoid trouble, Sanchez says Generacion Y holds nothing back.
"It's about how I live," she said. "I think that technically, there are no limits. I have talked about things like Fidel Castro, and you know how taboo that can be."
But she added that "there are some ethical limits. I would never call for violence, for instance."
Since taking over from his ailing brother Fidel in February, Raul Castro has lifted bans on Cubans buying consumer electronics, having cell phones and staying in luxury tourist hotels.
While the changes have bolstered the new president's popularity, most simply legalized what was common practice. In a typically frank recent posting, Sanchez noted that many Cubans already had PCs, cell phones and DVD players bought on the black market.
"Legally recognizing what were already facts prospering in the shadows is not the same as allowing or approving something," she wrote. Cuba's leaders are responding to the inevitable, "but they won't soothe our hunger for change."
Authorities have made no sustained effort to stop Sanchez's year-old blog, though pro-government sites accuse her of taking money from opposition groups.
Only foreigners and some government employees and academics are allowed Internet accounts and these are administered by the state.
Ordinary Cubans can join an island-wide network that allows them to send and receive international e-mail. Lines are long at youth clubs, post offices and the few Internet cafes that provide access, but the rest of the Web is blocked — a control far stricter than even China's or Saudi Arabia's.
Still, thousands of Cubans pay about $40 a month for black market dial-up Internet accounts bought through third parties overseas or stolen from foreign providers. Or they use passwords from authorized Cuban government accounts that hackers swipe or buy from corrupt officials.
Sanchez said so many Cubans read her blog that fans stop her on the street.
Generacion Y takes its title from a Cuban passion for names beginning in Y. It offers witty and biting accounts of Cubans' everyday struggles against government restrictions at every turn.
Some of the bloggers hew to the belief that openness is the best answer to official surveillance.
"By signing your name, giving your opinions out loud and not hiding anything, we disarm their efforts to watch us," Sanchez wrote on her blog.
On a blog called "Sin EVAsion" ("Without Evasion"), Eva Hernandez dared to mock "Granma," the official Communist Party newspaper, for taking its name from the American yacht that brought Castro and his rebels back to Cuba from Mexico to launch their armed rebellion in 1956.
"Cuba is the only country in the world whose principal newspaper, the official organ of the Communist Party and the official voice of the government, has the ridiculous name 'granny,'" she wrote. Piling on the heat, she added that the name "perpetuates the memory of that yacht that brought us so much that is bad."
Generacion Y is maintained by a server in Germany, and Sanchez says the Cuban government periodically attempts to block her site within Cuba, though the problem is always cleared up within hours.
Administrators of the "Petrosalvaje" site also claim to struggle with government-imposed limits. A recent post called uncensored Internet access a "virtual raft" — a reference to the rafts on which Cubans flee to the United States.
The government is also into blogging — maintaining dozens of sites dedicated to promoting the island's image overseas.
"Raul needs time," reads a post on Kaosenlared.net, a forum based in Spain. "We are confident, calm and staying united in favor of the direction of our revolution." It is signed Rogelio Sarforat and was apparently posted from Cuba.
Reynaldo Escobar, Sanchez' husband and a former journalist for official media, now uses his own blog to criticize the government. He said Cuba pays supporters to flood the Internet with positive opinions.
He says he knows of nobody who would spend money to go on the Web and defend the system. "Everyone who argues in favor of the government is paid to do so, or does so because they have been asked to," he said.
Your systems are all way overdue for an operating system upgrade, but your IT department is going over budget. You know you can’t afford the latest version of Microsoft Windows or Office. The easiest path to reining in your costs would be to migrate over to the Linux operating system. Unfortunately, corporate headquarters isn’t convinced that Linux is the way to go. How do you convince them otherwise?
Simple. Use these 10 compelling points to persuade them that Linux is right for your organization.
#1: TCO is bunk
Think about this: How many times have you had to work longer than you thought you would to solve a problem — be it on a Windows server, a desktop, or solving a security issue? Certain jobs just have to be done, and those jobs don’t care how much time you spend on them, because your network or your users depend upon it. Same thing with Linux. Most surveys and studies claim that the money you’re going to spend training IT staff to administer Linux would equal or better the cost of using Windows. As Colonel Potter would say, “Bull Feathers!”
Most companies aren’t going to spend money training IT staff these days. Most companies are going to say “Figure it out!” and it’s on your dime to do so. That might mean down time at work, lunch time, or over time. But the initial TCO of using Linux is the same as the initial TCO of using a new version of Windows. The good news is, once Linux is up and running, you won’t be wasting precious time fixing, patching, or solving security issues. Add to that Linux’ ability to resurrect old hardware and you can see how Linux can easily save money on every level.
#2: Linux is not just for servers
For the longest time, most IT pros were convinced that the only place for Linux in the corporate world was in the server room. That was then, this is now. The Linux desktop has improved by leaps and bounds in the last five years. And when people see it in action, they quickly change their minds.
One thing about the Linux desktop that perfectly suits the corporate world is its flexibility. The Linux desktop can be made to look and act exactly how you want it to. It can even be made to look and act just like Windows (in most of its incarnations). So you have the familiarity for the users and the security and reliability to put most IT staff at ease. On top of that, there are so many alternatives to the “big two” of KDE and Gnome that the possibilities are endless.
The Linux desktop isn’t just at home on the workstation, either. A Blackbox or Enlightenment desktop makes a perfect kiosk station where very few menu entries (or icons) can be added so users are limited in what they can start up. Another good selling point is that many of the Linux desktops are rock solid and won’t waste employee time crashing or locking up. Just try getting Blackbox (or Fluxbox) to crash or freeze.
#3: Security is the name of the game
Let’s face it, Linux simply doesn’t have the security issues that Windows suffers from. Many people claim that the lack of viruses, worms, Trojans, and hacks is due to the lack of popularity. Those same detractors claim that once Linux reaches a certain saturation level, the viruses and such will come. Well, Linux is here (and has been for a while) and still no viruses have overtaken the OS. So it’s safe to say that for now (and probably the short and long term), the Linux operating system — used either on server or desktop deployments — is safe from nefarious executables and code.
One of the best arguments you can give corporate HQ is that while all the Windows users are taken down from viruses, the Linux users will just keep plugging away. This exact thing has happened to me. While I was working at TechRepublic (around 2001), the entire staff was unable to work due to a virus. I, on the other hand, was plugging away. Why? Because my machine was running Red Hat, so I was immune to the Love Bug virus that brought down the company. While everyone was out in the halls unsure about what to do, I was completing my tasks so I could head home at the normal time. I shudder to think how much that particular virus cost businesses and how many of those businesses would have been saved had they been using Linux.
#4: Support is everywhere
Stay with me here. I know that most argue that Linux support is the biggest problem. However, I would argue that Windows support pales in comparison to the support you can find for Linux. Have you ever called for Windows support? Not only are you paying for every call (either with a paid plan or per instance), but you are also having to deal with support help most likely reading from a script. You may get your problem solved (on your dime) or you may not.
By contrast, Linux-style support offers various avenues to follow. Sometimes those avenues will lead you straight to the developer of the application (which has happened to me on a number of occasions.) You can obtain paid support via a company like Red Hat or Novell, or you can use mailing lists, forums, direct contact with developers, gurus, Google… you name it. And typically, as in the case with mailing lists like the Fedora list or the Ubuntu list, you get pretty immediate responses. You can also go the IRC path. There are plenty of chat rooms where Linux uber nerds hang out. There, you can generally find someone to help you out. It’s fast, it’s free, and it’s reliable. And when you have multiple support options, the chances of solving a problem efficiently are far greater than picking up the phone and hoping that the support technician’s script includes your problem.
#5: Applications are key
The standard argument is that Linux doesn’t have enough applications. Untrue. Doing a search for “Linux” on Freshmeat reveals 11,578 results and on Sourceforge, it reveals 8,345 results. And the Photoshop argument? The average Photoshop user can do everything he or she needs with The GIMP. Microsoft Office users? Meet OpenOffice. Sure, there might be some proprietary application created specifically for your company — and for that, we have WINE, which can run most any Windows application.
But the best thing about Linux applications is that they’re open source. If there’s something about the application that doesn’t suit your needs, you can change it. If you have the developers in house, more than likely they can adapt an application to do something perfectly suited for your company. Imagine taking a free application and reworking it so that it’s exactly the application you need (down to the look and feel).
#6: The kernel is just for you
Even though most people don’t roll their own kernels any more, you can. One of the nicest aspects of the Linux kernel is that you can re-roll it to fit your exact needs and hardware. This provides any number of benefits. For one, re-rolling a kernel to fit your system precisely means your machine will work more efficiently. You don’t need wireless rolled into a kernel? Take it out. One less security issue.
#7: Virtualization is virtually everything
With the help of such applications as VMware, you can run a virtual machine within a machine. This makes for perfect test beds for practically anything. You can run sandbox Web sites or applications. You can do test runs of deployments, saving you countless hours and money. And unlike the Windows world, Linux virtualization is free. Applications like Xen are available at no cost and can do clustering as well as virtualization. Virtualization is also a great means of training employees on new systems or software. With employees training on a virtual operating system, the cost of disaster is far less than if they were training on a production machine.
#8: Updating is simple and fast
When a problem arises on a Linux system, the problem is fixed very quickly and released into the wild. Whereas with Microsoft, you could be waiting weeks or months for that crucial update. And with the newer front ends for package management, installing and updating software is as simple as point and click. Not only are you saving your company from being vulnerable to an exploit far faster than if you were using Windows, the update is quick and easy.
#9: Administration is world wide
Imagine you are on vacation and you get a call from your boss saying the Web site is down. True, if you have a Windows server there are ways to administer it remotely. But you are limited to remote administration with the tools Microsoft offers. With Linux, you can remotely administer in so many ways. One of my favorites is using secure shell. I have administered Linux servers via secure shell from a Palm Treo 680. Or you can tunnel X through ssh to administer via GUI. So as long as you have Internet access, you can administer your Linux machine — and do so without adding third-party software. If you’re concerned about security, set up ssh to accept only certificate logins (and disable root login as well.)
#10: Linux is constantly gaining traction
Information Week recently published findings indicating that nearly 70% of 420 polled business-technology professionals are using Linux. Compare that to just one year ago, when that percentage was 56%. A 14% jump in use in a single year is nothing to sneeze at. And with more people using Linux, the incompatibility issue is fading away into the distant past. Consider that companies like Wal-mart are selling dirt-cheap desktop systems with Linux pre-installed, and you can draw the same conclusion: The only place Linux is going is up.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Qwest introduces 20 megabit DSL in some areas
NEW YORK (AP) -- Qwest Communications International Inc. on Thursday introduced DSL plans with faster download speeds, including one that is the fastest DSL service from a major U.S. phone company.
Qwest is charging $104.99 per month for a download speed of 20 megabits per second. For 12 mbps, it is charging $51.99 per month. The prices are $5 lower when combined with local phone service.
The plans will be available in 23 of Qwest's top markets, the company said. By the end of the year, they will be available to 2 million customers.
Download speeds on DSL, or Digital Subscriber Lines, from other companies generally top out at 10 or 12 megabits per second. Like Qwest's plans, those speeds are only available in some areas, where the local phone company has drawn optical fiber closer to homes to shorten the distance the signal is carried by copper phone lines.
Qwest said it is committed to spending up to $300 million to upgrade its network by drawing fiber into neighborhoods. AT&T Inc. is putting billions of dollars into a similar upgrade, which it is using to provide TV service over phone lines.
Verizon Communications Inc. has chosen a different route, drawing fiber all the way to customers' homes. While its fastest DSL service provides 7 mbps downloads, its fiber Internet service clocks in at 50 mbps.
Cable companies also have been boosting their speeds. Earlier this month, Comcast Corp. introduced 50 mbps service for $150 per month in Minnesota's Twin Cities region, where Qwest is the dominant phone company. A check on Qwest's Web site indicated that the 12 and 20 megabit services are available in Minneapolis.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
Holloman bids farewell to F117
The angular black radar-evading planes are being put in mothballs.
The last F-117s scheduled to fly will leave Holloman on Monday, then stop in Palmdale, Calif., for another retirement ceremony before arriving at their final destination — Tonopah Test Range Airfield in Nevada, where the fighter made its first flight in 1981.
Holloman's ceremony will include a four-plane flyby, the last opportunity to see the stealths in the air over New Mexico, said Alan Ponder, media liaison for the base's 49th Fighter Wing.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, which managed the F-117 program, held an informal, private retirement ceremony last month.
Holloman had been the only base to have the stealths since the squadron moved in mid-1992 to southern New Mexico from Tonopah.
The Air Force decided to accelerate the F-117s' retirement to free funding to modernize the rest of the fleet. The Nighthawk is being replaced by the F-22 Raptor,which also has stealth technology.The technology used on the F-117 was developed in the 1970s to help evade enemy radar. While not invisible to radar, the plane's shape and coating greatly reduced its detection.
The single-seat aircraft was designed to fly into heavily defended areas undetected. Fifty-nine F-117s were made.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
Livonia-based Server Elements Inc. has released NASLite-2 HDD, an operating system designed to create additional storage space on a home or small business network.
The three versions of NASLite-2 transform a basic computer into a dedicated file server, giving home or small business users the opportunity to turn a nearly useless old computer into a valuable network component.
Each version can implement multiple file-transfer protocols: SMB/CIFS (Windows networking), NFS (Unix networking), AFP (Apple networking), FTP, HTTP, and RSYNC. And every release of NASLite-2 can support fixed-disk drives connected through IDE, SATA, SCSI, USB, and FireWire (IEEE 1394), as well as hardware RAID arrays.
NASLite-2 runs in an 8-MB virtual disk in RAM, which ensures consistent and reliable operation of this file-sharing operating system. The two previous releases boot into RAM either from a CD-ROM or from a USB drive, which requires that either the CD and its drive or the USB drive and its connection be present throughout operation. NASLite-2 HDD, however, boots from a hard drive that is also used for file storage, thereby minimizing both the need for hardware and its cost.
A single NASLite-2 HDD server is capable of exporting terabytes of information, handling 50 or more networked users easily and efficiently, even when running on modest hardware. NASLite-2 can be implemented on a PC with any Pentium CPU with as little as 64 MB of RAM, one or more hard-disk drives, and a network adapter -- either on the mainboard or connected through a PCI bus.
The operation of NASLite-2 is independent of the computer's BIOS, so there is virtually no limitation on the size of the drives involved. And the number of drives is limited only by the number of connections available -- whether IDE, SATA, SCSI, USB, or FireWire.
"Because NASLite-2 is very easy to set up, to administer, and to use, it's perfect for the home user who has replaced, but not discarded, an old PC," said Tony Tonchev, a founder of Server Elements and developer of the operating system. "You can add the storage capacity of multiple hard drives -- enough capacity to wrangle your complete archive of videos, photos, and music. And you can do it essentially for the cost of the drives themselves. The cost of NASLite-2 HDD itself is about the same as the cost of a USB enclosure for a single external drive -- $29.95."
Small-business users will appreciate that the economical simplicity of NASLite-2 is complemented by a comprehensive set of reports that detail system status, hardware health, and resource usage. These reports can be accessed through any of the active protocols, and they are made available as a series of HTML pages.
Server Elements was founded in 2004 for the distribution of Linux-based operating systems for network-attached storage (NAS). NASLite-2, in each of it boot-specific versions, is the fourth iteration of this elegant, economical software.
More at www.serverelements.com.
1. Expand your profile
You’ll hear from any resume expert that you should limit a resume to one full page. But for those of you who feel compelled to list every job, including that one you had the summer of your junior year in high school, LinkedIn could be just what you want. Wollman says the more things you list, the more people will happen upon your profile.
2. Customize your URL
Change your LinkedIn URL so your name appears in the link. This will optimize your search engine results. To do this, go to your profile page, go to Accounts & Settings, and click Public Profile under Profile Settings.
3. Write recommendations
Wollman says that penning a thoughtful testimony will reflect well on you and increase your visibility. You’re also likely to receive one in return.
4. Choose your friends carefully
Well, that’s just good advice, period. But Wollman stresses it in regard to LinkedIn. “Whereas rampant friending is the norm for Facebook and MySpace, LinkedIn users should use discretion in building a network of colleagues they know and trust.” (The word “friending” threatens to give me an aneurysm, but I won’t edit it out. Don’t want to do any enemy-ing.)
5. Find an expert
If you have a question for someone in a certain field, Wollman recommends asking because most people will be happy to help.
6. Ask and answer questions
This helps you build credibility in your field.
7. Plumb Outlook for contacts
You can build your network by adding frequent e-mail contacts. Just download the Outlook Toolbar from the Tools section at the bottom of LinkedIn’s site. When you click on the LinkedIn icon, the site’s home page opens in Outlook. You can also add contacts from AOL, Gmail, and Yahoo address books.
See Wollman’s article for more tips.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
Cisco’s CCIE is no longer the biggest cash cow of IT certification
By Jason Hiner
When I was working in IT in the late 1990s, I remember the reverence with which everyone in the industry talked about the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification. At the time, it was the only prominent IT certification that tested practical skills, in addition to the book knowledge that all of the other certs tested.
Wild stories circulated about the CCIE lab exam. I remember hearing about how you had to set up a network for a complex scenario that took you all day, then Cisco experts came in overnight and trashed the network. Then you came in the next day and had to fix everything.
Whether those stories were hyperbole or not, it was well-known that almost no one passed the CCIE lab exam on the first try. And it was expensive — $1,400 to take the lab exam, plus travel costs to get to a CCIE lab location, prep materials, and written exam pre-tests.
However, there was a big payoff at the end if you joined that elite fraternity of about 12,000 worldwide.
The word on the streets at the time was that as soon as you passed your exams you would be bombarded with phone calls from recruiters and Fortune 500 companies tripping over themselves to offer a job with a six-figure salary. That was the perception. The reality was a little more sober, but still very attractive. Many CCIEs were hired directly by Cisco, and others got lucrative gigs as high value consultants.
However, the CCIE is no longer the highest valued certification in IT. In fact, according to our extensive 2008 IT Skills and Salary Report — which TechRepublic produced in partnership with Global Knowledge — the CCIE has actually slipped to fifth.
Three certifications that involve business management in addition to technology have grabbed the top three spots: Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), and ITIL v2 Foundations. That shouldn’t come as much of surprise to anyone who has been in IT over the past decade, as we have seen IT professionals with strong business skills become hot commodities.
The CCIE isn’t even the most valuable technical certification any more. That distinction belongs to the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) cert, which was fourth in our survey. Nevertheless, CCIEs are still pulling down good money, with an average salary of $93,500.
How about the world’s most popular (and sometimes most infamous) certification — the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)? It came in 19th on the list, with an average salary of $71,980. That’s not too far off the average of $67,000 for MCSEs when I got an MCSE back in 1999.
Here’s a look at the top certs on the list:
Cisco could not close the deal to equip all Battlestars with Cisco routers. Must be a Cylon plot againt the humans.
UPDATE: How Cisco lost out in networking Battlestar Galactica
Galactica starts its fourth and final season tonight and Network World has obtained a document written by a Cisco sales trainee describing his sales meeting with senior Galactica officials about upgrading the Galactica network. The author of this story would like to give special thanks to the devoted Battlestar Galactica fans at Battlestar Wiki, without whom this piece would not have been possible.
Office of the Library of the Colonies
The following document was recovered from a metal briefcase, originally from a Cisco regional sales office on Caprica, but subsequently found on the freighter Kima Huta, part of the refugee fleet after the Second Cylon War.
The document details Cisco’s final attempt to sell an integrated computer network to Colonial Fleet authorities as an upgrade to the nearly obsolete BS-75 (Galactica).
As is well known, Galactica was one of the few remaining Battlestar-class vessels without integrated networks, a bias derived from the original Cylon War, when the Cylons were able to seize control of defense systems by viral attacks.
The document is from a Cisco sales rep, reporting the results of his last meeting aboard Galactica with Commander (later Commander) William Adama, and other ship officers, just a few months before the start of the Second Cylon War.
#### CISCO CONFIDENTIAL #####
This file was transmitted over an encrypted connection
Copy 1 of 1
Document ID: CQ3S02378-4075
To: A. Martin, VP/GM Quadrant 3 Sales, Chambers Building, Caprica
Fr: J. Cox, sales trainee, second class, Caprica
Re: Results of final Galactica Upgrade meeting
I regret to report that this meeting did not achieve the team’s objectives for our C 1.3 billion-cubit proposal to integrate Galactica’s archaic computer networks.
It was not my fault.
Though the failure to win approval is a disappointment, I must say that the project cost estimate did not adequately factor in the aggravation of being forced to work, however briefly, with the senior Galactica officers.
The meeting got off to a rocky start. I asked, politely, if there was a data port that I could use to obtain a Colonialnet connection. There was silence. I tried to explain that I needed the connection to download a set of updated, 3D slides for the presentation.
“We don’t allow Colonialnet connections on Fleet assets,” said Commander Adama.
This was not developing as planned, based on how I had composed opening statements to grab the attention of the customers. But, I recovered quickly. Rather cleverly, I pointed out that such thinking was exactly the problem on Galactica.
“We’re not living in the time of the Lords of Kobol anymore, Commander,” I said with a laugh.
Judging by their silence, they completely missed my point.
As part of spotting all opportunities to add value and sell, I asked them to describe what the main operational needs of the business are.
“We’re not a business,” Adama said.
“Well, no, not exactly, but you have operational needs. I mean, everyone has operational needs,” I said, touching his arm with my hand, using non-verbal communication to my advantage. The look in Adama’s eyes however made me abruptly withdraw my hand, which I found to be shaking.
“Our main operational need is to kill the enemy,” interjected his Executive Officer, Colonel Tigh. “Can your integrated computer network help us do that?”
Of course, it can! I started to explain how the hardened, Cisco Cosmos Integrated Network (CCIN), by converging voice, data and video, in a redundant topology over a multiterabyte fiber backbone, can cut the time for the initial firing solution of the main batteries by 15%, leading directly to more deaths. (The original presentation had a high-def clip of CGI warships blowing up at this point, but of course they didn’t see it.)
I felt I was building rapport quickly, involving the audience.
I punched some numbers into my calculator. The ROI benefits for just that part of the network ranged from 23% over the Fleet’s standard 5-year depreciation schedule, but jumped to nearly 90% in case of, you know, war.
I was establishing credibility, and delivering with confidence and impact.
The Executive Officer asked how Cisco would protect the network from a Cylon attack. Which was a ridiculous question, really, given that no one had even seen a Cylon for 40 years. I punted, and told him Cisco was developing a comprehensive Anti-Cylon Security Package option for CCIN. I thought I had dealt confidently with his questions and overcome his objections, but, strangely, he expressed skepticism. In rather abusive terms.
I pointed out that the Fleet had nearly finished deployment of the Command Navigation Program, a new fleet operating system, co-authored by Gaius Baltar. And that CNP was being implemented via Cisco networks. This seemed to be an excellent way of gaining conditional commitment during my presentation.
“I fought that decision tooth and nail,” Commander Adama replied. He pointed out that during the Cylon War, the enemy had directly attacked networked computers with sophisticated viruses to gain access to military systems. I tapped my tablet and called up the spec sheet for the Cisco PIX 1500 Firewall. I adopted a relaxed, slightly leaning forward posture, with lots of use of the hands, good eye contact, and a confident, modulated voice, the picture of “firmly asserting.” “Commander, this baby is bulletproof,” I assured him.
He glanced over at Colonel Tigh. “Get this clown off my bridge,” he rasped.
I started to shift into “aggressively controlling” but the two Colonial Marines who braced me were considerably larger than me, and my Cisco Sales Training, while admirably thorough, did not include hand-to-hand combat.
I have attached the requisite “Lost Property Form” (LPF103B) since the presentation tablet was left onboard Galactica.
10 impossibilities conquered by science
What is truly impossible? To accompany Michio Kaku's
1. Analysing stars
In his 1842 book The Positive Philosophy, the French philosopher Auguste Comte wrote of the stars: "We can never learn their internal constitution, nor, in regard to some of them, how heat is absorbed by their atmosphere." In a similar vein, he said of the planets: "We can never know anything of their chemical or mineralogical structure; and, much less, that of organized beings living on their surface."
Comte's argument was that the stars and planets are so far away as to be beyond the limits of our sense of sight and geometry. He reasoned that, while we could work out their distance, their motion and their mass, nothing more could realistically be discerned. There was certainly no way to chemically analyse them.
Ironically, the discovery that would prove Comte wrong had already been made. In the early 19th century, William Hyde Wollaston and Joseph von Fraunhofer independently discovered that the spectrum of the Sun contained a great many dark lines.
By 1859 these had been shown to be atomic absorption lines.
2. Meteorites come from space
Astronomers look away now. Throughout the Renaissance and the early development of modern science, astronomers refused to accept the existence of meteorites. The idea that stones could fall from space was regarded as superstitious and possibly heretical - surely God would not have created such an untidy universe?
The French Academy of Sciences famously stated that "rocks don't fall from the sky". Reports of fireballs and stones crashing to the ground were dismissed as hearsay and folklore, and the stones were sometimes explained away as "thunderstones" – the result of lightning strikes.
It was not until 1794 that Ernst Chladni, a physicist known mostly for his work on vibration and acoustics, published a book in which he argued that meteorites came from outer space. Chladni's work was driven by a "fall of stones" in 1790 at Barbotan, France, witnessed by three hundred people.
Chladni's book, On the Origin of the Pallas Iron and Others Similar to it, and on Some Associated Natural Phenomena, earned him a great deal of ridicule at the time. He was only vindicated in 1803, when Jean-Baptiste Biot analysed another fall of stones at L'Aigle in France, and found conclusive evidence that they had fallen from the sky.
3. Heavier-than-air flight
The number of scientists and engineers who confidently stated that heavier-than-air flight was impossible in the run-up to the
Even when Kelvin made his infamous statement, scientists and engineers were closing rapidly on the goal of
The problem was set out in 1716 by the scientist and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg in an article describing a design for a flying machine. Swedenborg wrote: "It seems easier to talk of such a machine than to put it into actuality, for it requires greater force and less weight than exists in a human body."
Swedenborg's design, like so many, was based on a flapping-wing mechanism. Two things had to happen before heavier-than-air flight became possible. First, flapping wings had to be ditched and replaced by a gliding mechanism. And secondly, engineers had to be able to call on a better power supply – the internal combustion engine. Ironically, Nicolaus Otto had already patented this in 1877.
4. Space flight
From atmospheric flight, to space flight. The idea that we might one day send any object into space, let alone put men into orbit, was long regarded as preposterous.
The scepticism was well-founded, since the correct technologies were simply not available. To travel in space,
The problem was effectively cracked in the early 20th century by two rocket researchers working independently –
5. Harnessing nuclear energy
On 29 December 1934, Albert Einstein was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as saying, "There is not the slightest indication that [nuclear energy] will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will." This followed the discovery that year by Enrico Fermi that if you
Einstein's scepticism was, however, overtaken by events. By 1939, nuclear fission was better understood and researchers had realised that a chain reaction – one that, once started, would drive itself at increasing rates – could produce a huge explosion. In late 1942, such a chain reaction was produced experimentally, and on August 6 1945 the first atomic bomb used aggressively exploded over Hiroshima. Ironically, Fleet Admiral William Leahy allegedly told President Truman: "This is the biggest fool thing we've ever done – the bomb will never go off – and I speak as an expert on explosives."
Then, in 1954, the USSR became the first country to supply some of its electricity from nuclear power with its Obninsk nuclear power plant.
6. Warm superconductors
This is a strange case: a phenomenon can be observed and measured, but should not be happening. According to the best theories of superconductivity, the phenomenon of superconductivity
Superconductors – materials that conduct electricity with no resistance – were first discovered in 1911. To see the effect, a material normally has to be cooled to within a few degrees of absolute zero.
Over the next 50 years, many superconducting materials were discovered and studied, and in 1957 a complete theory describing them was put forward by John Bardeen, Leon Cooper and John Schrieffer. Known as "BCS theory", it neatly explained the behaviour of standard superconductors.
The theory states that electrons within such materials move in so-called Cooper pairs. If a pair is held together strongly enough, it can withstand any impacts from the atoms of the material, and thus experiences zero electrical resistance. However, the theory suggested that this should only be true at extremely low temperatures, when the atoms only vibrate slightly.
Then, in a classic paper published in 1986, Johannes Georg Bednorz and Karl Alexander Müller turned the field upside-down, discovering a material capable of superconducting at up to 35 K. Bednorz and Müller received the Nobel Prize for Physics the following year and more high-temperature superconductors followed. The highest cutoff temperature yet observed (admittedly under pressure) is 164 K. Yet, quite how this is all possible remains a topic of intense research.
7. Black holes
People who think of black holes as a futuristic or modern idea may be surprised to learn that the basic concept was first mooted in 1783, in a letter to the Royal Society penned by the geologist John Michell. He argued that if a star were massive enough, "a body falling from an infinite height towards it would have acquired at its surface greater velocity than that of light... all light emitted from such a body would be made to return towards it by its own proper gravity."
However, throughout the 19th century the idea was rejected as outright ridiculous. This was because physicists thought of light as a wave in
It was not until Einstein published his theory of general relativity in 1915 that this view had to be seriously revised. One of the key predictions of Einstein's theory was that light rays would indeed be deflected by gravity. Arthur Eddington's
But, once relativity was established, black holes became a serious proposition and their properties were worked out in detail by theoreticians such as
Perhaps the debate has not been entirely settled, though. Some controversial calculations, published in 2007, suggested that as stars collapsed into black holes, they would release a great deal of radiation, reducing their mass so that they
8. Creating force fields
This classic of science fiction went from wild speculation to verifiable fact in 1995 with the invention of the "
Devised by Ady Hershcovitch from the Brookhaven National Laboratory, the plasma window uses a magnetic field to fill a small region of space with plasma or ionised gas. The devices, developed by Hershcovitch and the company Acceleron, are used to reduce the energy demands of electron beam welding.
The plasma window has most of the properties we associate with force fields. It blocks matter well enough to act as a barrier between a vacuum and the atmosphere. It also allows lasers and electron beams to pass through unimpeded and will even glow blue, if you make the plasma out of argon.
The only drawback is that it requires huge amounts of energy to produce plasma windows of any size, so current examples are very small. In theory, though, there is no reason they could not be made much bigger.
Invisibility is another staple of fantasy fiction, appearing in everything from Richard Wagner's opera Das Rheingold to H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man, and of course Harry Potter.
There is nothing in the laws of physics to say invisibility is impossible, and recent advances mean certain types of cloaking device are already feasible.
The last few years have seen a rash of reports concerning
It was thought that modifying the design for visible light would prove very challenging, but in fact
This is a word with a long and rather dubious history. It was coined by the paranormalist writer Charles Fort in his book Lo! and was subsequently seized on by legions of science fiction writers; most famously as the "transporter" in Star Trek.
Despite its fantastical origins, physicists have
Entangled particles can therefore be used to
More recently, an alternative idea, dubbed
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Why is this news?? This is the standard in political dealing at all levels. Have we forgotten Halliburton and no bid contracts !! This is definitely as the Mayor puts it, the news paper harassing a brother. These type of political deals are so common place in America, that companies expect to be paid for their backing of a candidate or political leader. Is this wrong, of course it is but no one in congress or in corporate America is about to change this system. Come on Free Press, tells us something we do not know.
Two construction executives who worked on the first efforts to restore the Book Cadillac hotel say Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and other city officials exerted pressure to hire the mayor's friend, Bobby Ferguson, even though the executives thought he was not the most qualified for the work.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Chrysler To Outsource Some IT
Chrysler LLC is outsourcing some of its computer technology work in a move that will eliminate about 200 of 1,000 full-time salaried jobs.
Vice president and CIO Jan Bertsch says the automaker has finalized contracts with India-based Tata Consultancy Services and Virginia-based Computer Sciences Corp. to manage maintenance and support operations for internal employees.
Several hundred of the 1,100 contract workers in Chrysler's information technology department also will lose their jobs.
The Detroit News says the moves are part of Chrysler's three-year recovery plan, which calls for shedding 3,000 salaried positions and 25,000 jobs overall.
Bertsch tells the Detroit Free Press the moves will result in ''substantial'' savings, but declined to elaborate.
Friday, April 04, 2008
Microsoft Windows XP Dies June 30, as Planned
By Peter Galli
Microsoft confirms XP shipments to OEMs and retailers will stop June 30, as planned, ending weeks of speculation XP would live on. Versions will still be preloaded on ULCPCs.
Microsoft will shutter its Windows XP line June 30, as planned, ceasing sales of Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home to retailers and direct OEMs, Microsoft confirmed to eWEEK April 3.
The statement from Redmond executives ends weeks of speculation that Microsoft would extend the life of the operating system as users turn up their nose at Vista, the operating system meant to supplant XP, and OEMs argue lighter versions of desktops and notebooks don't have the juice to run Vista.
Windows XP Home and Starter editions will still be preloaded on ultra-low-cost PCs through June 30, 2010, or one year after the launch of the next version of Windows - whichever comes first, the company said.
“Last fall, our OEM partners asked us to extend sales of Windows XP to give their customers more time to transition to Windows Vista while we worked with other software vendors to expand application compatibility,” Michael Dix, the general manager for Windows Client, told eWEEK April 3.
That decision was based on market feedback from customers and Microsoft’s OEM and retail partners, and this decision not to extend that date is also based on their feedback, he said.
“They are telling us that they feel good about these dates and that the market is ready. For those customers who actually want XP, we are providing enough time for them to actually get it and so we feel good about this being the right transition point,” he said.
The decision to allow Windows XP on the ultra-low-cost PCs, or ULCPCs, reflected Microsoft’s commitment to ensuring that Windows was available for this new and growing class of low-cost, hardware-constrained computers that were originally intended for consumers in emerging markets, Dix said.
This also effectively offered OEMs choices based on their plans and assessments of what the market needed and wanted. “They can elect to preload XP Home on these machines, a flavor of Vista or, in emerging markets, Starter Edition. As this category is still in its infancy, we wanted to give OEMs flexibility, which is how we approached it,” Dix told eWEEK.
OEMs were considering a wide range of machine configurations in this category, and Windows Vista would be able to run on some of those. But, at the very low end, in the range of 2- and 4-gigabyte flash devices, those would run XP Home, he said.
“But in the middle- and high-end, it is up to the OEM which operating system they choose to offer there,” he said.
But to Rob Enderle, the principal analyst for The Enderle Group, Vista just is too heavy for many of these devices and likely would not have been sold on them.
"For Microsoft, it was a choice of letting Linux go unchallenged in this segment or block it using XP, which provides a slightly better user experience and has some software compatibility advantages over most of the Linux implementations I’ve seen so far," he said. "They wisely chose not to hand this market to Linux on a silver platter, but Linux will improve while XP won’t, and some of the Linux stuff I’ve seen lately is actually competitive with Apple."
Microsoft was also publishing some formal guidelines to enable manufacturers to build extremely hardware-constrained machines with less than 4GB flash-based storage, and which can run Windows well and please customers, Dix said.
Many of Microsoft’s partners are now also offering affordable ULCPCs like Intel’s Classmate PC and Asus’ Eee PC in developed countries as well as in developing nations, he said.
Partner feedback and Microsoft’s own internal research had found that customers preferred Windows on these machines as it was “a system they are familiar with, enables access to a vast ecosystem and provides them with a full operating system on these affordable PCs,” Dix said.
Asked if these machines could run both Windows and Linux, Dix said that was up to the discretion of the OEM, but “my guess is that they are going to be discouraged from doing that because of the hardware constraints they are working with. Dual boot would require more space and partitioning an already small drive would be difficult to argue for,” he said.
Asked how the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) played into this announcement, Dix said the challenge was that the OLPC’s XO machine was even more extreme in its hardware constraints than the typical ULCPC being shown on OEM road maps.
As such, Microsoft had a separate team of engineers working on a port of Windows to that machine, as this required a lot more development and focus than the traditional ULCPC, he said.