February 2005

Marc L. Songini, ComputerWorld, (via Slashdot) reports:

Failure to secure access to the source code of a key application added more than $10 million to the cost of the infamous “Big Dig” highway construction project in Boston, according to the Massachusetts state auditor.

The application, called the Integrated Project Control System (IPCS), handles traffic, roadway, fire and security systems management for the $14 billion Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project. Software development for the IPCS project remains unfinished.

Indymedia Colombia reports:

We can scarcely find words; the pain overwhelms us so deeply that all we can
do is weep. In a demonstration of its incredible illegitimacy, the Colombian
state has carried out another massacre that bathes our land in blood.


The army massacred Luis Eduardo Guerra Guerra, 35 years old, leader of the
community and member of the internal council since the beginning of the
process; his partner Bellanira Areiza Guzman, with whom he had just recently
formed a home; his son Deiner Andres Guerra, 11, who had been injured on
August 11, 2004 by a grenade left by the army; Alfonso Bolivar Tuberquia
Graciano, 30, leader of the Mulatos settlement and member of the Peace
Council of the humanitarian zone of Mulatos; his partner, Sandra Milena
Muñoz Pozo, 24; and their children Santiago Tuberquia Muñoz, 2, and Natalia
Andrea Tuberquia Muñoz, 6.

The BBC reports:

The world’s first digital cinema network will be established in the UK over the next 18 months.

The UK Film Council has awarded a contract worth £11.5m to Arts Alliance Digital Cinema (AADC), who will set up the network of up to 250 screens.

AADC will oversee the selection of cinemas across the UK which will use the digital equipment.

High definition projectors and computer servers will be installed to show mainly British and specialist films.

Aaron Krowne, Free Software Magazine, writes:

In this article, I respond to Robert McHenry’s anti-Wikipedia piece entitled “The Faith-Based Encyclopedia.” I argue that McHenry’s points are contradictory and incoherent and that his rhetoric is selective, dishonest and misleading. I also consider McHenry’s points in the context of all Commons-Based Peer Production (CBPP), showing how they are part of a Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) campaign against CBPP. Further, I introduce some principles, which will help to explain why and how CBPP projects can succeed, and I discuss alternative ways they may be organized, which will address certain concerns.

You are looking at the VERY FIRST photo ever published on the web!

Silvano de Gennaro writes:

Back in 1992, after their show at the CERN Hardronic Festival, my colleague Tim Berners-Lee asked me for a few scanned photos of “the CERN girls” to publish them on some sort of information system he had just invented, called the “World Wide Web”. I had only a vague idea of what that was, but I scanned some photos on my Mac and FTPed them to Tim’s now famous “info.cern.ch”. How was I to know that I was passing an historical milestone, as the one above was the first picture ever to be clicked on in a web browser!”

WABC Eyewitness News’ Marcus Solis

(New York - WABC, Feb. 24, 2005) — A four-alarm fire raged inside an electronics warehouse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Eyewitness News’ Marcus Solis reports.

There were tough conditions for the crews still here working on the fire that reached four alarms this afternoon. More than 140 firefighters and 40 pieces of equipment were on the scene.

The good news: There was only one minor injury reported as of news time, though property damage will be high, no doubt.

At the height of the fire, crews were cutting through fences at the navy yard trying to get to the fire inside the B & H Photo Warehouse. That company shares the 3-story space with another electronics company.

As for the cause, Eyewitness News is told that some type of tool, like a sauldering iron or torch, caught cardboard boxes full of television monitors on fire. That was around 3:30 p.m.

Workers said they were surprised how fast it spread. They tried to put it out with fire extinguishers, but it quickly grew out of control.

Photo: Wacom Cintiq 21UX Tablet / Display

MacNN reports:

Wacom Technology today announced its Cintiq 21UX interactive pen display that allows users to work with a pen directly on a 21.3″ color-accurate LCD. The Cintiq 21UX offers more screen area, greater pressure sensitivity, better pen control, higher resolution, and increased comfort over previous models. At a suggested retail price of $2500, the Cintiq 21UX delivers many enhancements no price increase over the previous generation. The Cintiq 21UX will go one sale in March, but customers can register at now to be at the head of the line for units. The 21.3″ display features UXGA (1600×1200) resolution, a 170 degree viewing angle, anti-glare and hard texture coatings, 24-bit color with ICC color profile, a 400:1 contrast ratio, and 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity.

Posted by timothy on Slashdot on Monday February 21, @09:28PM:

Baricom writes “Just a few weeks after a major power outage took out well-known blogging service LiveJournal for several hours, almost all of Wikimedia Foundation’s services are offline due to a tripped circuit breaker at a different colo. Among other services, Wikimedia runs the well-known Wikipedia open encyclopedia. Coincidentally, the foundation is in the middle of a fundraising drive to pay for new servers. They have established an off-site backup of the fundraising page here until power returns.”

via Slashdot:

Re:Internap is *down*? (Score:5, Interesting)
by slashrogue (775436) Alter Relationship on Friday January 14, @11:19PM (#11371125)

Sorry, but one man can’t control power to an entire co-location. I used to work for a local telecom and one day our fiber went down for about 1/3 of our customers. The reason? Some guy shootin’ squirrels blew the fiber lines apart. It was on a Sunday too, when there was minimal phone tech support, I think one guy ended up fielding 350+ calls by himself.

Photo: Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson (Michael R. Brands/Associated Press)

MICHELLE O’DONNELL, The New York Times, reports:

Hunter S. Thompson, the maverick journalist and author whose savage chronicling of the underbelly of American life and politics embodied a new kind of nonfiction writing he called “gonzo journalism,” died yesterday in Colorado. Tricia Louthis, of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, said Mr. Thompson had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Woody Creek, Colo., yesterday afternoon. He was 65.

CARA RUBINSKY, Associated Press Writer, reports:

GROTON, Conn. — The USS Jimmy Carter entered the Navy’s fleet Saturday as the most heavily armed submarine ever built, and as the last of the Seawolf class of attack subs that the Pentagon ordered during the Cold War’s final years.

The 453-foot, 12,000-ton submarine has a 50-torpedo payload and eight torpedo tubes. And, according to intelligence experts, it can tap undersea cables and eavesdrop on the communications passing through them.


Photo: Fashion Model
A model presents a creation from Italian fashion academy students for their Spring/Summer 2005 Haute Couture collection, during Rome’s Fashion Week, February 1, 2005. (REUTERS/Max Rossi)

Photo: Muralist
Ed (Gonzo) Stross, shown at his studio on Gratiot in Roseville, is headed to jail for his take on Michelangelo’s “Creation of Man.” (JOHN F. MARTIN/Special to the Free Press)


He painted Eve as God created her: nude.

And when he finished including the bare-bosomed Biblical first woman, he inscribed the word “love” on the mural that covers the outside wall of his Roseville art studio.

In Ed (Gonzo) Stross’ eyes, his variation on Michelangelo’s “Creation of Man” mural is art.

In 39A District Judge Marco Santia’s eyes, it’s a crime.

Santia ordered jail time, a fine and probation — a sentence that sounds a little harsh to a state senator, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and fellow artists.

Santia ordered Stross, 43, to serve 30 days in jail, do two years’ probation and pay a $500 fine for violating a city sign ordinance. Roseville officials said letters were prohibited on the mural and Eve’s exposed chest is indecent.

Besides jail time and the fee, Stross is to tastefully cover Eve’s breasts before reporting to the Macomb County Jail on Monday morning, and to paint over “love” by May 1.

“Removing the work is the ultimate punishment. The jail time is nothing compared to removing what I painted,” Stross said Thursday.

David Adam, (UK) Guardian science correspondent, reports:

American soldiers traumatised by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be offered the drug ecstasy to help free them of flashbacks and recurring nightmares.

The US food and drug administration has given the go-ahead for the soldiers to be included in an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, can treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Scientists behind the trial in South Carolina think the feelings of emotional closeness reported by those taking the drug could help the soldiers talk about their experiences to therapists. Several victims of rape and sexual abuse with post-traumatic stress disorder, for whom existing treatments are ineffective, have been given MDMA since the research began last year.

25,000,000 Million FireFox Downloads

The Mozilla Foundation reports, via Slashdot:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - February 16th, 2005 - The Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving choice and promoting innovation on the Internet, today announced its award-winning Firefox browser has been downloaded more than 25 million times, fueled by consumers’ demand for a faster, safer Internet experience. Released less than 100-days-ago Firefox has quickly become the browser of choice, offering user-friendly features such as tabbed browsing, built-in pop-up blocking and live bookmarks.

The Associated Press :

ORLANDO, Fla. - A high school chemistry teacher was arrested after students claimed he taught his class how to make a bomb, authorities said.

David Pieski, 42, used an overhead projector in class to give instructions in making explosives to students at Freedom High School, including advising them to use an electric detonator to stay clear from the blast, an Orange County sheriff’s arrest report said.

In Pieski’s classroom in Orlando, authorities found a book labeled “Demo,” which includes the chemical breakdown for a powerful explosive, the arrest report said.

The Media Drop reports:

Last night, I had an opportunity to correspond via email with the author of the Radio Free Nepal blog. What I received was some more information about the situation going on in the country, especially regarding the media. Questions and answers below. [Note: any adjustments made in editing the responses are in “[]” brackets]

Additionally, I asked whether there was anything else this blogger wanted to get out there or that we, the community, could do to help. I received one sentence in reply: “What you can do for Nepal is spread words about need [for] democracy in Nepal because USA’s view will make a lot of differences.”


Bruce Schneier reports:

SHA-1 has been broken. Not a reduced-round version. Not a simplified version. The real thing.

The research team of Xiaoyun Wang, Yiqun Lisa Yin, and Hongbo Yu (mostly from Shandong University in China) have been quietly circulating a paper describing their results:

* collisions in the the full SHA-1 in 2**69 hash operations, much less than the brute-force attack of 2**80 operations based on the hash length.

* collisions in SHA-0 in 2**39 operations.

* collisions in 58-round SHA-1 in 2**33 operations.

This attack builds on previous attacks on SHA-0 and SHA-1, and is a major, major cryptanalytic result. It pretty much puts a bullet into SHA-1 as a hash function for digital signatures (although it doesn’t affect applications such as HMAC where collisions aren’t important).

The paper isn’t generally available yet. At this point I can’t tell if the attack is real, but the paper looks good and this is a reputable research team.

More details when I have them.

The CTA tattler reports:

Further update: Brian, who originally shared this story with us, emailed me to say that Chicago Police have indeed classified this death as a suicide. So sad. Brian’s account is below:

A CTA Tattler reader posted a comment here last night with an eyewitness account of the suicide at the Loyola Red Line stop that stopped train traffic for almost an hour last night. Thanks to Brian () for reporting the somewhat gruesome details:

The Associated Press reports, via The Globe and Mail, via Slashot:

Seoul — North Korea on Thursday announced publicly for the first time that it has nuclear weapons and rejected moves to restart disarmament talks any time soon, saying it needs the weapons as protection against an increasingly hostile United States.

Mitsu LED Handheld Projector
Mitsubishi LED Projector

Chait Gear reports, via Slashdot:

If you’ve always wanted a front projector that you could take with you anywhere, the upcoming PocketProjector from Mitsubishi might just be what you’ve dreamed of.
Mitsubishi PocketProjector in hand

Certainly rating as one of the smallest projection units out there, the new Mitsubishi PocketProjector is a tiny 14oz powerhouse of a projector. A unit small enough to fit in your hand, run off batteries or car adapter, yet create a 20″ screen with only one foot of throw.
Mitsubishi PocketProjector A/V Jacks

Photo: WiFi Detector Ring

The Wi-Fi Detector Ring, via Slashdot:

The Wi-Fi detection ring was developed to give mobile computer users the ability to detect 802.11b/g signals, while providing a unique, fashionable and ultra-portable product package.

DAVID BERNSTEIN, The New York Times, reports:

CHICAGO - HOMARO CANTU’S maki look a lot like the sushi rolls served at other upscale restaurants: pristine, coin-size disks stuffed with lumps of fresh crab and rice and wrapped in shiny nori. They also taste like sushi, deliciously fishy and seaweedy.

But the sushi made by Mr. Cantu, the 28-year-old executive chef at Moto in Chicago, often contains no fish. It is prepared on a Canon i560 inkjet printer rather than a cutting board. He prints images of maki on pieces of edible paper made of soybeans and cornstarch, using organic, food-based inks of his own concoction. He then flavors the back of the paper, which is ordinarily used to put images onto birthday cakes, with powdered soy and seaweed seasonings.

At least two or three food items made of paper are likely to be included in a meal at Moto, which might include 10 or more tasting courses. Even the menu is edible; diners crunch it up into a bowl of gazpacho, creating Mr. Cantu’s version of alphabet soup.

Overstated, via BoingBoing:

New York has declared war on bicyclists. Last week, participants in the monthly “Critical Mass” ride were dragged from their bikes and arrested, their wheels confiscated (this amid a climate where city lawmakers are proposing to ban “unlicensed” cyclists). The riders who were taken in had been riding in the bicycle lane and not interfering with traffic. Civil rights lawyers got the episode on video and the whole mess will surely end up in court.

Because of the cold, there weren’t that many riders, so the Mass was not quite critical enough. With absolutely no blocking of any traffic the mass took off from Union Square. I made it about 4 blocks before I was swarmed by cops on scooters who grabbed me off my bike and put me in handcuffs. Let me make one point particularly clear: I WAS RIDING IN THE BIKE LANE at the time of my arrest. The mass was small so we it wasn’t taking up the whole road and everyone was riding off to the side. Not that it mattered. A small woman who was riding behind me was forcibly pulled from her bike and thrown to the ground with a knee in the back of her neck.

Brian Jones writes on linux.com:

Red Hat has really been grating my nerves as of late. Undocumented features that are advertised but unusable, recommended updates that are thoroughly broken, failure to update packages with high-impact problems, and a poor software packaging and distribution policy have me testing other distributions with a goal of taking my business elsewhere.