April 2005

“Polar explorers need multimedia, mobile and communication technologies as they need to feel in touch with the rest of the planet.”

Internet addict turned polar explorer Dmitry Shparo, on the need for Wi-Fi at the North Pole, Sci-Tech Today, 14 April 2005, via D I T H E R A T I: see the digerati dither, daily

Photo: Mountains Under Rail
Railway builders lay a railway track as the construction of Qinghai-Tibet railway reaches Dangxiong grassland in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, April 12, 2005. China’s People Daily Online reports.

FRESHMAN TENZIN ZINGSHUK sits in the Namgyal Monastery, a symbol of Tibetan Buddhism in America, located on North Aurora Street. (Pam Arnold/The Ithacan)

Alexander Norelli, Staff Writer for The Ithacan reports:

Freshman Tenzin Zingshuk reached into her bookbag and removed a small square red silk ornament, adorned with traditional Tibetan decorations in gold-colored thread. Inside was an unknown substance — probably sand or small seeds — that had been blessed by a rinpoche, a high-ranking monk.

Her mother gave her this gift as a symbol of protection. And it has accompanied her during her time away from her home in India.

Though she has never been to Tibet, Zingshuk is trying to hold onto the culture and traditions of a land that her parents fled from more than 40 years ago.

Photo: Art History Notes

On BoingBoing, David Pescovitz, writes:

The artwork Untitled (Art History Notes) by John Jordan consists of three pages of notes taken in a University of Kansas class. The piece is being auctioned on eBay right now with a starting bid of $25,000. Who is this John Jordan? Just an inspired college student pulling a Duchampian prank. From a column he wrote for the university’s newspaper:

One can’t easily define art and the dictionary definition leaves much to be desired. But they gave us a definition in modern art history class: Art is what the artist decides it is, and, to a lesser degree, what the art community accepts.

This definition can lead to art that only focuses on art itself — art for art’s sake — and ignores the good things art can do: inspire, cause change, amaze, etc. Nevertheless, it does help define these peculiar pieces as art.

More importantly, this definition lets me, now as an artist, decide what art is. It’s an empowering definition. The numerous classes I have taken, the art I have studied and seen, and the history that I know put me in a position to produce art. So, now I would like to introduce my first work as an artist.

Graph: Normal Curve and IQ Scores


On Slashdot, CTealL writes:

“Apparently Intuit thinks it’s okay to share information about taxes with third paries. According to this article, Intuit is using a third party tracking technology on all tax forms submitted to the IRS. “We could capture your name, your Social Security number or any other information that you willingly pass to a Web site,” acknowledged Matt Belkin, who serves as vice president of best practices for Utah marketing giant Omniture, which tracks the online activities of people using Intuit’s TurboTax. The IRS disavows any knowledge of this, saying “The IRS does not take a position on Web tracking tools.” Makes you wonder where your tax information is going…”

Pravda reports:

Last week, American authorities arranged a meeting of the former Iraqi dictator with his wife.

She was the first of Hussein”s relatives to meet with the ex-leader of Iraq at a new place, at the American military base in Qatar. Accompanied by Sheikh Hamad Al-Tani, Sajida Heiralla Tuffah has arrived from Syria on his private jet in the end of March.

The outcome of their meeting turned out to be quite scandalous. Sajina claims that the person she encountered was not her husband, but his double. If someone were to say for sure that it was not insinuation, it would have been easy to believe the wife with a 25-year experience. It is also possible to assume that Saddam has simply changed since the day of his sons’ deaths, June 24 2003. This however is highly unlikely. In case we believe Hussein”s wife, all DNA testing of the ex-Iraqi leader should be considered a mere fake. Overall, today there remain more questions then there are answers.

On the other hand however, those statements of Hussein’s wife can in fact be quite understandable. After all, this is the easiest way to demoralize an enemy.

Paul McDougall, InformationWeek, reports:

Efforts by China and India to cooperate in developing their computer industries could greatly enhance Asia’s influence on IT products and standards throughout the world, a panel of experts said Tuesday at the InformationWeek Spring Conference at Amelia Island, Fla.

“The combination would create a trading region in which trade between the countries would be larger than each country’s trade with the United States,” said University of Michigan business school professor C.K. Prahalad. That would translate into enough economic clout for India and China to impose IT standards throughout Asia and greatly influence technology adoption globally, he said.

Over the weekend, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the Indian tech hub of Bangalore as part of a campaign to establish closer links between India and China and to smooth over border disputes. “I strongly believe that if we join hands together, we will certainly be able to set a new trail in the IT business world,” Reuters quoted Wen as saying. Wen envisioned an alliance in which China concentrates on hardware and India focuses on software. Prahalad said such Indo-Chinese cooperation would “create real issues for the U.S.; it would reduce U.S. leverage in the region.”

voip-info.org reports:

After several months of live testing VoIP operation in Europe and Asia, SS7 is now available for Asterisk. The LIBISUP solution is fully integrated with Asterisk and does not require any additional external equipment.

The SS7 LIBISUP library presents itself as a replacement of the LIBPRI library. This means that you can use the existing Asterisk zap features and applications. The configuration, dial plans, etc. work the same way as with PRI. Both the stable release and CVS Head are supported.

The product is immediately available under the Digium commercial licence.
For more information please write to
and describe your SS7 project.

Geekzone, via Slashdot, reports:

America Online, Inc. began the rollout of the AOL Internet Phone Service, an enhanced Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service that offers AOL members a choice for their voice, e-mail and instant messaging communications.

The service is being introduced in more than 40 markets across the United States, the first phase of a rollout across the country that will continue to additional cities over the coming months. The company says that the service will offer cost-saving pricing over traditional telephone service and an enhanced suite of integrated voice and online messaging features.

For the AOL Internet Phone Service alone, AOL members can choose from three price plans with introductory offer rates. A Local Plan is available, costing US$13.99 per month for the first three months for unlimited local and regional calls and US$0.04 per minute for long distance calls anywhere in the US and Canada, costing US18.99 per month thereafter.

An Unlimited Calling Plan costing US$24.99 per month for the first three months for one flat fee for local and long distance calls within the US and Canada ($29.99 per month thereafter) is also available, and the company offers the Global Calling Plan, at US$29.99 per month for the first three months, including unlimited local and long distance calls within the US and Canada and low international rates (US$34.99 per month thereafter).

PTI News, via Make NewKerala, reports:

(PTI News) Beijing: China will tap the nation’s largest copper mine located in southwest China’s Tibet, the state media reported today from the remote Himalayan region.

Indo-Asian News Service, via Hindustan Times, reports:

A complaint was lodged against an eminent Bengali litterateur by a former police official for “defiling” Hindu goddess of learning Saraswati by “expressing” his carnal desire for the deity’s female form.

KEITH BRADSHER, The New York Times, reports:

Chickens in North Korea are suffering from a rare outbreak of H7 avian influenza, and not the more lethal H5N1 strain that has infected poultry across Southeast Asia, a United Nations official said. The H7 virus showed a greater capacity for human-to-human transmission during an outbreak in 2003 in the Netherlands but tended to produce less serious illness, often limited to conjunctivitis. The presence of the disease in northeast Asia is surprising, the official said, adding that no human cases had been found in North Korea. Keith Bradsher (NYT)

Steve, Wl Com, on asterisk-biz writes:

The Mexican PGR http://www.pgr.gob.mx/ arrested two people connected with
Vonage here in Mexico. The arrest team included members of SCT
(http://portal.sct.gob.mx/SctPortal/) and Comission Federal de
telecomunicaciones (http://www.cofetel.gob.mx).
Reason. Operating in Mexico without a Local concession and using VOIP for
transporting traffic outside of Mexico without a Long Distance concession.

On Slashdot, xs3 writes:

At a recent ISSA (Information Systems Security Association) meeting in Los Angeles, a team of FBI agents demonstrated current WEP-cracking techniques and broke a 128 bit WEP key in about three minutes. Special Agent Geoff Bickers ran the Powerpoint presentation and explained the attack, while the other agents (who did not want to be named or photographed) did the dirty work of sniffing wireless traffic and breaking the WEP keys. This article will be a general overview of the procedures used by the FBI team.

Mercury News reprots:

WASHINGTON - Americans will be required to show U.S. passports when they re-enter the United States from Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean by 2008 under proposed new rules announced Tuesday by the State and Homeland Security departments.

Cpl. Tenzin Choeku Dengkhim, a 19-year-old immigrant has become the first Tibetan-American killed in combat in Iraq. Photo: RFA

Radio Free Asia reports:

WASHINGTON—A 19-year-old Tibetan from Virginia has been killed in combat in Iraq, less than one month after deploying there.

Cpl. Tenzin Choeku Dengkhim died as a result of “hostile action” April 2, the Pentagon said. He appears to be the first Tibetan-American killed in combat in Iraq.

“He was a very good boy, deeply religious, and [he] talked of serving Tibet as a soldier after he completed his military career as U.S. Marine,” his mother, Radio Free Asia (RFA) Tibetan service broadcaster Rinzin Choedon, said.

DAVID PADDON, cnews reports:

TORONTO (CP) — Companies that sell Internet telephone service to the public must provide at least basic emergency 911 service, Canada’s telecommunications regulator ruled Monday.

“It’s quite a sweeping decision that says 911 is fundamental to telephone service in Canada and if you’re going to offer phone service here, you must offer it,” commented telecom industry consultant Ian Angus.

S. SRINIVASAN, The Associated Press, via Slashdot, reports:

BANGALORE, India (AP) - Four years ago, a low-cost handheld dubbed the Simputer was touted as a way to give villagers in poorer countries access to computing power. That dream remains elusive.

Very few Indian villagers have even seen one, and the government agencies and nonprofits that were target buyers have barely bitten.

Meager sales of the device, designed by Indian scientists for easy sharing by a community, come instead from businesses and city dwellers who already had access to technology.

“It has not yet reached the rural market in a big way,” rued Swami Manohar, co-inventor of the Simputer and CEO of Picopeta Simputers, a company selling the device.

Picopeta has sold fewer than 2,000 units in the past 12 months, far below the target of 50,000. Worse, only 10 percent of those Simputers were bought for rural use.

Encore software, the other company making Simputers, also sold about 2,000 units.

Image: Shadow Cities Book Cover

Cory Doctorow writes:

I’ve just finished Robert Neuwirth’s “Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World,” a nonfiction account of Neuwirth’s travels through squatter cities and shanty towns on four continents.

The parallels between the squatter story and the copyfight are fascinating. Last month, I gave a talk at a Berkeley law class and one of the students pointed out that when we talk about orphan works and the problem of discovering who has the right to authorize the use of old or obscure creative works, we treat this as a major difference between “intellectual property” and real property; but in the developing world, the ownership of physical land is anything but clear-cut; where you have squatters who’ve been sold deeds to their land by unscrupulous bureaucrats in exchange for votes, or where politicos have issued deeds to their cronies selling title to land that has been occupied for decades, or squatters who are granted title to their land, but who then have to resolve whether the squatter whose home is on the ground floor gets the title, or whether it’s the squatter who’s built her dwelling on the roof; or where you have squatters who’ve built and then rented out their squats to tenants who’ve occupied them for years — who owns that land?

All real-estate begins as “squatting.” Most of the Bay Area’s title deeds represent claims filed by squatters during the gold rush. At some point, every titled parcel of land belonged to no one, but was then fenced in and declared property.

Photos: Glenn and the PBR Girls

Eric Auchard, Reuters, via Slashdot, :

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Five years after the tech boom went bust, there’s a dearth of million dollar or billion dollar ideas, or so some fret.

But it doesn’t mean that there is no smart new technology to wow consumers. It’s just that people are finding more efficient ways to do it.

Maybe that’s because it has never been easier to create potent technology hybrids that mix-and-match hardware components, use a bit of borrowed software code, and require only a few thousand dollars of investment.

Photo: corey

chris writes:

Meet Corey, the Starbucks homeless-nerd. Stephanie and I decided to interview him the other night to answer all of your probing questions. Armed with notepad and iMic’d iPod we approached him at his “office” in Starbucks. He was a friendly and personable, well-spoken, and witty. He charmed us instantly, and we spoke with him for an hour. Stephanie wrote up our experience like this:

Corey turns 21 tomorrow. He won’t be celebrating this rite of passage at ‘21′ or over impetuous fistfuls of Jagermeister but will instead spend the night sleeping upright in a chair at a 24-hour Kinko’s. Corey has been homeless in New York City for the past three and a half months.

He bathes in churches, spending $20 a week on mouthwash, shaving cream, and other necessities. The self-taught Midwestern transplant earns money by helping people with their computer problems at Kinko’s come nightfall. During the day, he uses the ghetto-tech computer equipment, he discovered in a dumpster, to surf the Internet at Starbucks (picking up free wireless waves from the neighborhood). Is he surfing monster.com for a job? “No. What’s the point? No one will hire you if you don’t have an address.” Instead, he’ll navigate local news and spend most of his time in Yahoo! Chat rooms trying to find his soul mate. “I have to admit, I have quite a way with the ladies. Especially the big ones. I like mine big.”

Richard Luscombe in Pinellas Park, Florida and Gary Younge in New York, The Guardian (UK) reports:

Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged woman whose condition sparked an epic legal, medical and political battle that has gripped America, died yesterday, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed by the wishes of her husband and the orders of several courts.