November 2004

Geekzone reports:

Intelsat, Ltd. said that its Intelsat Americas-7 satellite experienced a sudden and unexpected electrical distribution anomaly that caused the permanent loss of the spacecraft on 28 November 2004 at approximately 2:30 am EST. Intelsat has made alternative capacity available to most of its IA-7 customers, many of whom have already had their services restored. The company is working with Space/Systems Loral, the manufacturer of the satellite, to identify the cause of the problem.
(more…), via SineApps, reports:

Mexico’s telecoms regulator Cofetel has closed down 13 voice over internet protocol (VoIP) firms for operating without the proper concessions, according to local newspaper El Financiero.

Mexico has no specific VoIP regulatory structure but companies wishing to offer the service must have concessions and obey legal orders, according to Cofetel president Jorge Arredondo.

“Independent of the technology, companies ought to have a concession, observe the international telecoms rules, go through international gateways and respect local telephony rules, among other things,” Arredondo was reported as saying.

Robert McHenry writes at Tech Central Station:

Away back about 1993, ‘94 — in retrospect, the last of the halcyon days when a relatively small and rather homogeneous group of people around the globe could reasonably consider themselves as constituting the Internet community and could take a strongly proprietary view of its future development — back then, I am recalling, a cluster of enthusiasts coalesced in an online discussion group devoted to the creation of an encyclopedia on the Internet, an Interpedia, as they called it. As one of the proponents described it,

“the Interpedia will be a reference source for people who have connectivity to the internet. It will encompass, at the least, articles submitted by individuals, and articles gleaned from non-copyrighted material. It will have mechanisms for submission, browsing, and authentication of articles. It is, currently, a completely volunteer project with no source of funding except for the contributions of the volunteers and their respective institutions. It also has no governing structure except for a group of people who have volunteered to do specific tasks or who have made major contributions to the discussion…. Everyone is encouraged to make a contribution, small or large.”

Photo: Vacuum Tube
An old-but-alive Marconi tube from KGB Radio & Electronics in Toronto. “What sounds the best is subjective . . . . They are all a little different,” says Aspen Pittman of Groove Tubes in California. (DICK LOEK/TORONTO STAR)

RACHEL ROSS, Toronto Star, reports:

It is the void that connected the world.

Long since banished but ever present, the vacuum tube turns 100 years old tomorrow.

It’s quite the anniversary when you consider the deep impact of such a dainty device.

The invention of the vacuum tube is considered by many to be “the essential start of electronics,” says Paul Redhead, researcher emeritus for the National Research Council in Canada.

Redhead is one of several researchers who are speaking tomorrow at the 51st International Symposium and Exhibition in Anaheim, Calif., in honour of the centennial.

Long a staple in radio and early computer equipment, vacuum tubes have retained a place in our microwave ovens and musical equipment. Today’s tubes are reviewed like fine wines; and, in the ultimate compliment, the nuances of sound created by classic guitar amps are being simulated by computers in a new generation of amplifiers.

It is a testament to the tone of the tube.

Doug Mohney, The Inquirer, reports on Monday 30 August 2004, 07:48:

LEAVE IT to ex-MTV VJ and techno-prophet Adam Curry to come up with what might be The Next Big Thing for Apple’s iPod. Mr. Curry has done some quick and dirty hacking in AppleScript to create an application to automatically download new MP3 files from any of five different RSS feeds and copy them to playlists in the Mac iTunes application based upon the channel name. Connect an iPod, and the songs/files load onto the device automatically.

This is a creative synthesis of three different technology pieces. MP3, the oldest piece, can be used to record just about any audio source, from music files to radio programs and other audio content. RSS, a “lightweight XML format,” has been kicking around for a while as a way to syndicate/distribute headlines and other web content (i.e. like MP3s) between sites, as well as between web sites and end-users. Finally, the iPod is the hip little device that Apple is selling like mad.

Basically, people now have a new way to get things to listen to on their iPods, and more importantly have those things automatically delivered to their desktop computers on a regular basis through RSS. To date, when people want to get new songs or other audio files for their iPod, they have to go hunting for them. The iPodder program allows you regular subscriptions to favorite programming. For example, Mr. Curry is distributing “The Source Code,” his daily 15 to 25 minute pontifications on desktop technology in MP3 format via RSS. Anyone with a favorite “voice” or radio show distributed on a regular basis that is packed into MP3 and distributed into RSS can now get those “shows” loaded.

Miami Herald reports, via

A Miami-Dade police officer used a Taser to stop an unarmed, 12-year-old girl who was running away from him after she was caught skipping school, police acknowledged Friday night.

The incident happened Nov. 5, just over two weeks after other Miami-Dade officers used a stun gun to restrain a first-grader. In that case, police said the 6-year-old boy was holding a shard of glass and threatening to cut himself. Police Director Bobby Parker defended the decision to shock the boy because he could have seriously hurt himself.

But Parker said Friday that he could not defend the decision to shock the fleeing 12-year-old, who was apparently drunk.

‘’Under the circumstances, we thought that he should not have used the Taser,'’ Parker said referring to the officer. “It’s likely that discipline will be forthcoming.'’

Hector Gutierrez, Rocky Mountain News reports:

Bob Dylan’s Masters of War is a hard-hitting, anti-war song produced more than 20 years before any current Boulder High School student was born.

More than 40 years after its release, the song has been resurrected at Boulder High with huge and confusing repercussions that prompted Secret Service agents to pay the campus a visit Thursday.

Some students and parents apparently let the Secret Service and talk-radio stations know they were unhappy with the plan of a trio of students to do a poetry reading of the song, accompanied by background music, according to Ron Cabrera, the school’s principal.

Sensory Overload via

My friend Quyen sent this to me ~ sadly, these two maps need no explanation, yet they raise more questions than they answer:

Pre-Civil War Map
 2004 Election Map

Associated Press reports:

THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Arsonists set fire to a school and attempted to burn down two churches in the Netherlands, the latest in a series of attacks following the murder of a Dutch filmmaker by a suspected Muslim radical, police said Thursday. There were no injuries.

Evan Hansen, Staff Writer, CNET, via :

Google has doubled the number of Web pages it indexes from 4 billion to about 8 billion, according to a posting on the company’s Web site.

The increase, announced Wednesday, means Google searchers will now have access to a much larger number of possible matches for queries.

The shift comes as Google faces increasing competition from rivals including Microsoft, which unveiled a test version of a search engine for its MSN Web portal on Thursday.

Photo: Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat at his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah in September (AP)

CNN reports:

PARIS, France (CNN) — Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, 75, the leader who passionately sought a homeland for his people but was seen by many Israelis as a ruthless terrorist and a roadblock to peace, died early Thursday in Paris.

Photo: Tank at LA Anti-War Protest

IndyMedia via BoingBoing:

LOS ANGELES, November 9, 2004 - At 7:50 PM two armored tanks showed up at an anti-war protest in front of the federal building in Westwood. The tanks circled the block twice, the second time parking themselves in the street and directly in front of the area where most of the protesters were gathered. Enraged, some of the people attempted to block the tanks, but police quickly cleared the street. The people continued to protest the presence of the tanks, but about ten minutes the tanks drove off. It is unclear as to why the tanks were deployed to this location. (more…)

Amazing anaecdote from Peter Briggs, the author of the screenplay for Alien Versus Predator, via BoingBoing:

I wrote “A vs P” originally - oh, God…did you hear that? I actually said “A vs P”. I hate that thing…it’s like “T2″ or “LXG”! Anyway, I wrote it on an Amstrad computer, which was about one step above a Univac Room Filler. In ‘92 I swapped to an Apple Mac, which I’ve used ever since. And I ended up losing the Amstrad disk, which was some weird, unreadable proprietary brand anyway. It wasn’t until whoever it was transcribed it and pirated it onto the web years later, that I was able to cut-and-paste it into Final Draft and have an electronic copy again. So, thank-you, Internet Leaker, wherever you were!

C. B. Shapiro, via BoingBoing:

I feel bad for the Red States. 

Yes, they won the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court and most of the state houses.  But they still can’t have the country they really want because the last few Blue States won’t roll over.  So I am making a simple proposal:

Secession.  Divorce.  Splitsville.

Personally, I think we made a huge mistake not letting them go when we had the chance back in 1862.  Well, no time like the present to correct an old mistake.

Photo: Theo van Gogh
Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh

Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh, who made a controversial film about Islamic culture, has been stabbed and shot dead in Amsterdam, Dutch police say.

Police arrested a man in a nearby park after an exchange of gunfire. The man, aged 26, had joint Dutch and Moroccan nationality, they said.

Van Gogh, 47, had received death threats after his film Submission was shown on Dutch TV.

It portrayed violence against women in Islamic societies.

Photo: Octopus Alert
Octopus alert : Spanish Civil Guards stand near a Greenpeace activist dressed as an octopus during a protest in front of the Foreign Ministry in Madrid against bottom trawl fishing.
(AFP/Christophe Simon via )

Julian Coman, (UK) tlegraph, reports, via BoingBoing:

A Vatican-sanctioned sex guide is encouraging churchgoers to make love more often in an effort to offset “impotence and frigidity” and address papal concerns over declining birth-rates among Italian Roman Catholics.

The controversial book, It’s A Sin Not To Do It, written by two theologians, promises the reader answers to “everything you wanted to know about sex but the Church (almost) never dared to tell you”.

Reuters, via CNN, via Slashdot:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. Air Force quietly has put into service a new weapon designed to jam enemy satellite communications, a significant step toward U.S. control of space.

The so-called Counter Communications System was declared operational late last month at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Air Force Space Command said Friday in e-mailed replies to questions from Reuters.

The ground-based jammer uses electromagnetic radio frequency energy to knock out transmissions on a temporary and reversible basis, without frying components, the command said.