Thursday, September 27, 2007

YES -Asteroid Probe's Launched

NASA's Dawn spacecraft in fine health after rocketing into space just after sunrise today, ending a long wait for mission scientists even as the probe's own eight-year journey to two large asteroids is just beginning.

For Dawn principal investigator Chris Russell, the liftoff capped a 15-year effort to plunder the secrets of planetary formation from asteroids Vesta and Ceres. Russell and his mission team watched Dawn rise over its Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida from the spacecraft's Launch Control Center.

"They were very taken by today's launch," said Russell, of the University of California, Los Angeles, of his colleagues in launch control after liftoff. "In fact, my wife cried when she saw it."

NASA first approved Dawn's mission as part of its Discovery program for smaller, more affordable science expeditions in 2001. Russell added that he first envisioned the mission using its efficient ion drive in 1992.

Since then, the mission has survived solar array dings, weather delays, rocket booster and launch tracking issues, as well as cancellation in March 2006. The space agency set the mission's current cost at about $357.5 million, not counting the cost of Dawn's Delta 2 rocket.

Dawn is now headed for a February 2009 swing past Mars before reaching its first space rock target, the bright and rocky asteroid Vesta, in August 2011. The probe's novel Xenon ion propulsion system is expected to guide it into orbit around Vesta for almost a year, then send it off toward the icy dwarf planet Ceres -- the largest space rock in the asteroid belt -- for a February 2015 rendezvous.

"The spacecraft is safe, it is healthy and there's not a single [major] issue aboard," said Keyur Patel, Dawn project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., after the successful launch.

He credited Dawn's experienced mission team with tackling the last-minute hurdle of a wayward ship that encroached within the launch range perimeter. The snag delayed the probe's liftoff by about 14 minutes, after which the ship moved clear of the launch range in time for a 7:34 a.m. EDT (1134 GMT) space shot.

Dawn's two expansive solar arrays, which measure about 65 feet (about 20 meters) from tip to tip, successfully unfurled after liftoff and its primary science instruments were found to be in good health, mission managers said. A few minor issues, such as a one amp difference in the current produced by the two solar arrays, have popped up, but none are considered serious enough to pose a problem, they added.

"They're all just fine tuning," Patel said.

By Friday morning, Dawn is expected to have flown beyond the orbit of the moon as it continues its outbound flight to the asteroid belt that sits between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Mission managers plan to test its three ion engines within about five days. A series of instrument checks of Dawn's optical camera, mapping spectrometer and gamma ray and neutron detector will also be performed, though the tools won't be fully calibrated until after the Mars flyby, Patel said.

"Every time we launch a spacecraft, they all have their own personalities," Patel said. "And what we're about to discover is what kind of personality Dawn has; whether it's going to be a well-behaved child, or someone that's slightly naughty."

Spacecraft’s ion drive gets its day in the sun
Dawn asteroid probe puts high-tech propulsion system to toughest test.
After suffering its share of dark days, NASA's Dawn mission finally had its “day in the sun” with Thursday morning’s launch toward our solar system's main asteroid belt.

The sun nearly set on Dawn a year and a half ago, when NASA canceled the mission over concerns about its ion engine. After a review of the planned improvements for the spacecraft, the space agency resurrected the project — but that wasn't the end of the mission's setbacks. Its originally scheduled June launch date was ruined by a processing accident involving its booster rocket.

That delay might have been a blessing in disguise, said Dawn mission designer Mark Rayman of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

from NASA
NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Enroute to Shed Light on Asteroid Belt

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA's Dawn spacecraft is on its way to study a pair of asteroids after lifting off Thursday from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7:34 a.m. EDT.

Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., received telemetry on schedule at 9:44 a.m. indicating Dawn had achieved proper orientation in space and its massive solar array was generating power from the sun.

"Dawn has risen, and the spacecraft is healthy," said the mission's project manager Keyur Patel of JPL. "About this time tomorrow [Friday morning], we will have passed the moon's orbit."

During the next 80 days, spacecraft controllers will test and calibrate the myriad of spacecraft systems and subsystems, ensuring Dawn is ready for the long journey ahead.

"Dawn will travel back in time by probing deep into the asteroid belt," said Dawn Principal Investigator Christopher Russell, University of California, Los Angeles. "This is a moment the space science community has been waiting for since interplanetary spaceflight became possible."

Dawn's 3-billion-mile odyssey includes exploration of asteroid Vesta in 2011 and the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015. These two icons of the asteroid belt have been witness to much of our solar system's history. By using Dawn's instruments to study both asteroids, scientists more accurately can compare and contrast the two. Dawn's science instrument suite will measure elemental and mineral composition, shape, surface topography, tectonic history, and it will seek water-bearing minerals. In addition, the Dawn spacecraft and how it orbits Vesta and Ceres will be used to measure the celestial bodies' masses and gravity fields.

The spacecraft's engines use a unique, hyper-efficient system called ion propulsion, which uses electricity to ionize xenon to generate thrust. The 12-inch-wide ion thrusters provide less power than conventional engines but can maintain thrust for months at a time.

The management of the Dawn launch was the responsibility of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The Delta 2 launch vehicle was provided by United Launch Alliance, Denver.

The Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

The University of California, Los Angeles, is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Other scientific partners include Los Alamos National Laboratory, N.M.; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg, Germany; DLR Institute for Planetary Research, Berlin; Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, Rome; and the Italian Space Agency. Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., designed and built the Dawn spacecraft.

To learn more about Dawn and its mission to the asteroid belt, visit:

Survey :Nanotech skills gaps

The survey was carried out as part of the EU-funded NANOFORUM project, and received responses from research managers at government institutions, not-for-profit bodies and companies.

Training in research management and toxicology, interdisciplinary Masters level programmes and hands-on training experience are some of the recommendations from the Institute of Nanotechnology following a survey identifying the skills gaps and training needs in nanoscience and nanotechnology.

Some 57.1% of respondents claimed to recruit graduates and post-graduates specifically for their nanotechnology know-how, while 23.5% indicated a preference for generalist skills and 12.5% for specialists.

Management of research and development (R&D) was identified as the most important technical competence. The Institute of Nanotechnology therefore recommends training for nanoscience and nanotechnology postgraduates in managing research within industry and academia.

Short training courses and training programmes are also recommended in the following areas: customer interfacing roles such as technical support; toxicology; health and the safety of nanoparticles; the strategic application of intellectual property rights; policy issues.

The Institute of Nanotechnology also recommends the establishment of interdisciplinary Masters level programmes that provide a grounding in material science, the nano-biology interface, nanoscale effects and selected modules from chemistry.

In addition to these extra courses, the paper also recommends that students be required to carry out hands-on training during their studies. This training should cover fabrication and synthesis techniques as well as characterisation equipment.

Partnerships between industry and academia should be strengthened with the creation of more 'science to business roles', which should be supported with increased funding from government bodies.

A total of 240 responses to the survey were received, of which 61.2% were valid. Some 64% of the valid responses came from organisations with headquarters in Europe, 21% from Asia, 8% from North America and 7% from the rest of the world.

Job Fair Planned to Add High-Tech Jobs in Support of UAlbany NanoCollege Expansion
The University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering ("CNSE") announced today that it will hold a job fair this month - the third such event it has held in the past 16 months - to assist in the recruitment of employees to fill more than 70 new high-tech positions at CNSE's Albany NanoTech complex.

The event, which is scheduled for Thursday, September 20 from 5 to 7 p.m., will give applicants an opportunity to participate in initial interviews with representatives of CNSE's faculty and technical staff. In addition, applicants will attend a presentation about the job opportunities and receive tours of CNSE's world-class, $4.2 billion Albany NanoTech complex.

The new technical, engineering, and infrastructure support positions, which will sustain further expansion and growth at CNSE, are concentrated in three primary areas: cleanroom workstation operators, who will be trained and certified to run state-of-the-art 300mm wafer tools for the fabrication of computer nanochips; facilities operations technicians, with skills in HVAC and mechanical systems, water and wastewater treatment, and electrical and control services; and, environmental health and safety/security officers.

Annual salaries range from $40,000 to over $80,000, with benefits that include medical, dental and life insurance and a generous retirement package. Individuals interested in attending and interviewing at the job fair are encouraged to pre-register at, where they will find additional information, can fill out an application and upload their resume.

Congressman Michael R. McNulty said, "The Capital Region has become a hub for high tech industry, particularly nanotechnology. This event is an excellent opportunity for our local residents to take advantage of their location and find jobs within the high tech world. I am grateful that the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany has had the foresight to seek people to work in this exciting field. This job fair will ensure that these high tech industries will have the high-quality employees they need to continue to spur economic growth in the Capital Region."

Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari said, "I am pleased to see the rapidly expanding high-tech economy in the Capital Region take another step forward with the creation of additional nanotechnology-related jobs at the UAlbany NanoCollege. This is a wonderful chance for residents of the Capital Region to learn about exciting career paths in the technology sector, and I encourage them to explore these opportunities fueled by the incredible growth of high tech in our region."

Assemblymember Jack McEneny said, "It is rewarding to see further growth and witness the creation of still more high-tech jobs at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. These new positions provide exceptional career opportunities in the technology field for residents of Albany and the Capital District, while also underscoring the standing of this region and New York State as global leaders in nanoscale science and engineering."

Frank J. Commisso, Majority Leader of the Albany County Legislature, said, "This is an exciting opportunity for our residents to become part of the Capital District's growing high-tech industry. SUNY Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is expecting a strong turnout of candidates to apply for more than 70 new positions requiring a wide range of skills and training. This is a positive sign for our community."

Dr. Alain E. Kaloyeros, Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of CNSE, said, "The UAlbany NanoCollege is delighted to once again provide residents of the Capital Region with a chance to obtain exciting and challenging high-tech employment in their own backyard. The creation of more than 70 additional positions at CNSE's Albany NanoTech complex is testament to the pioneering leadership and strategic investment of Governor Spitzer, Speaker Silver and Senator Bruno, along with our elected officials, led by Senator Charles Schumer, Congressman Michael McNulty, Assembly Majority Leader Canestrari, Assemblyman McEneny, and County Legislature Majority Leader Commisso, who see nanotechnology as a primary enabler for economic growth that is opening up new career opportunities for New Yorkers in this region and beyond."

In May of 2006, CNSE and Hudson Valley Community College held a job fair at CNSE in which more than 160 attendees turned out to fill over 60 new cleanroom positions. This past January, more than 250 people were in attendance - and twice that many submitted resumes - as CNSE and Vistec Lithography held a job fair to fill 60 new positions to support the company's move from Cambridge, England to CNSE and the Watervliet Arsenal Technology Campus.

Technorati :

Happy Birthday Google 9th

HAPPYbirth day google.
With love with emotion we from LHC- Mysapace and earth celebrate the birthday .
We are feel happy and enjoyous for the birth of google . Is their any doubt that in web or internet google is not only a company or corporation they are serving in the universe as a gift of GOD.
we wish heartly coordialy with all our positive emotions and love the long life of google. GOD bless the inovators and creators of Google.
"i feel emotional in this day '
we wish more than best for google.
Md moshiur Rahman
Sanjida Afroz
Musarrat jeba ( RODOSHI )
Rafeila Rahman ( ROCHELI )

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Computers to Children in Developing Countries

The non-profit group "One-Laptop per Child" has announced a program to sell its durable laptop computers to American and Canadian residents for $399. The profit from the sale of each computer will allow the program to donate another computer to a child in a developing country. The "Give One, Get One" plan aims to put the child-friendly laptops into the hands of children across the globe, as VOA's Cindy Saine reports from Washington.

The low-cost green and white plastic computer is built to withstand high and icy cold temperatures, as well as impacts from being dropped and spilled milk. In short, it is made for kids. It is lightweight and can be used outdoors in bright sunlight and can be charged with a solar panel or hand crank. It offers built-in wireless networking, video, a music synthesizer and games children like to play.

The "Give One, Get One" program is the realization of a dream for Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory. "It was a pipedream in the beginning, and it now actually exists and that's really pretty cool," he said.

Since 2005, when Negroponte came up with the "One Laptop Per Child" idea, he has criss-crossed the globe, trying to convince leaders of developing countries to buy the inexpensive laptops. Many countries are participating, including Brazil, Uruguay, Libya, Rwanda and Thailand. But a number of poorer countries have been slow to commit to buying them.

Negroponte says he is hoping the "Give One, Get One" promotion will help kick-start the program. It will run for two weeks, beginning November 12. Negroponte says his goal is simple. "For every single child in the world to have the opportunity to learn," he said.

So far, focus groups of American children who have tested the "green machines" have responded enthusiastically, saying the computers definitely pass the "fun test." Negroponte says this is important.

"It's about fun because when you have fun doing things you learn a great deal more," he said.

Each laptop is programmed in the target country's language, with 1,000 books and other educational software. The computers are intended to belong to individual children, who can take them to school and bring them back home in the evening. Negroponte says he hopes to eventually distribute 100 million laptops a year, saying that would take us to a very different planet.

Computer enthusiasts in the developed world will soon be able to get their hands on the so-called "$100 laptop".
The organisation behind the project has launched the "give one, get one" scheme that will allow US residents to purchase two laptops for $399 (£198).

One laptop will be sent to the buyer whilst a child in the developing world will receive the second machine

The G1G1 scheme, as it is known, will offer the laptops for just two weeks, starting on the 12 November.

The offer to the general public comes after the project's founder admitted that concrete orders from the governments of developing nations had not always followed verbal agreements.

Nicholas Negroponte told the New York Times: "I have to some degree underestimated the difference between shaking the hand of a head of state and having a cheque written.

"And yes, it has been a disappointment."

Walter Bender, head of software development at One Laptop per Child (OLPC), told the BBC News website: "From day one there's been a lot of interest expressed in having some way of people in the developed world participate in the programme."

Price hike

The XO laptop has been developed to be used by children and is as low cost, durable and simple to use as possible.

It packs several innovations including a sunlight readable display so that it can be used outside. It has no moving parts, can be powered by solar, foot-pump or pull-string powered chargers and is housed in a waterproof case.

The machine's price has recently increased from $176 (£88) to $188 (£93) although the eventual aim is to sell the machines for $100 (£50).

Governments can buy the green and white machines in lots of 250,000.

In July, hardware suppliers were given the green light to ramp-up production of all of the components needed to build the low-cost machines.

The decision suggested that the organisation had met or surpassed the three million orders it need to make production viable.

The names of the governments that have purchased the first lots of machines have not been released.

Developing whirl

But, according to OLPC, there has also been huge interest in the XO laptop from individuals in the developed world.

"I don't know how many times people have added an entry in our wiki saying 'how do I get one?' or 'I'd gladly pay one for a child if I could get one'," said Mr Bender.

The laptop was designed to be used in developing countries
The organisation has previously hinted that they were considering selling the laptop on a give one get one basis, but not this early.

In January this year, Michalis Bletsas, chief connectivity officer for the project, told the BBC news website that OLPC was hoping to sell the laptop to the public "next year".

Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of OLPC, has also previously said: "Many commercial schemes have been considered and proposed that may surface in 2008 or beyond, one of which is 'buy 2 and get 1'."

According to Mr Bender, OLPC see several advantages to offering laptops to the developed world.

"There's going to be a lot more people able to contribute content, software development and support," said Mr Bender.

But primarily, he said, it was a way of extending the laptop project to countries that cannot afford to participate.

"We see it as a way of kick-starting the programme in the least developed countries."

Early adopter

The first countries to receive the donated laptops will be Cambodia, Afghanistan, Rwanda and Haiti.

Other least developed countries (LDC), as defined by the UN, will be able to bid to join the scheme.

The laptops will go on sale for two weeks through the website.

They will only be available for two weeks to ensure OLPC can meet demand and so that machines are not diverted away from countries that have already placed orders.

Although the exact number of laptops available through the G1G1 scheme has not been revealed, Mr Bender said that the "first 25,000" people that purchase one should receive it before the end of the year.

Others will receive their machines in the first quarter of 2008.

Mr Bender said that if it proves successful, the organisation would consider extending the scheme.

"Our motivation is helping kids learn and giving them an opportunity to participate in the laptop programme so whatever will advance that cause we will do," he said.

"This is something we are going to try and if it looks like it is an effective tool we will do more of it."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The next frontier? MARS

Every night while he was away, Jerry Linenger would curl up in a corner of the ceiling and read a page or two of the journals of doomed Arctic explorer Ernest Shackleton – for comfort, of all things – as the Earth drifted lazily by, far, far below.

"Their ship was crushed by the ice," Linenger says. "They had to hunt walrus to survive the winter before months of darkness set in. I'd read that and when I closed it, I would think, `It's not so bad up here.'"

Zero gravity can offer these unlikely opportunities for repose – not to mention a unique sense of perspective. For five months on the International Space Station, Linenger, an American astronaut crewing with two Russians, took solace where he could.

"I've been on submarines in the Indian Ocean, in the middle of nowhere, and it was nothing, compared to this," he says. "It was a sense of being completely dislocated from humankind, and that is a profoundly different kind of isolation."

That was five months. Can you imagine two years?

That's the best guess for a manned mission to Mars: Nine months' travel each way, with a shortcut across the orbit of Venus along the way. Depending on how long you stick around, even a brief – say, two-month – visit puts you four months shy of two years – two years off the Earth in that "complete dislocation from humankind" of which Linenger speaks.

This is not idle chatter. For all the financial stresses such a mission would entail – in 1989 NASA offered a catastrophic estimate of $400 billion, causing the hypothetical program to be scrapped; more recently, a highly optimistic $30 billion by some independent Mars advocacy groups, while in 2004, President George W. Bush said it would be $40 billion to $80 billion – this is entirely possible.

In other words, while the "if" and "when" of the mission are speculative at best – Bush's 2004 address famously recommended, not committed to, a Mars mission – we've done a remarkably good job of the "how."

Make no mistake. NASA, the Russians, and very quickly, the Chinese, likely have the technological know-how to do this right now. ("Getting people up there is quite possible. Getting them back is the hard part," says York University professor Peter Taylor, who worked on Phoenix, NASA's robotic mission to Mars currently en route. "I wouldn't want to be on the first trip.")

Starting tonight, the Discovery Channel will be airing a multi-part series called The Race to Mars that, in its exhaustive, comprehensive dramatization of an eventual Mars mission, pushes that disturbing detail aside for the sake of the argument.

And the argument – do we need to send humans to Mars? – is among the most profound we face today. Which is to say, among the ifs, whens and hows, perhaps the most compelling question, simply, is why. And there is no end to the answers that flow from anyone – astronauts, scientists, enthusiasts – you care to ask.

But the most riveting among them, perhaps, has nothing to do with science at all.

"The question I ask is, do human beings exist to strive, or to simply relax?" says Robert Zubrin, an aerospace engineer and the director of the independent Mars advocacy and research group, the Mars Society.

"Are we here to try to do great things that have never been done, to advance the frontiers of human possibility, or are we here to simply enjoy the fruits of others who have thought that way?"

In his recent book Moon Dust, the British journalist Andre Wright set out to interview the surviving astronauts of the Apollo missions to the moon, all now well into their 70s.

He was struck by the fact that, in a decade or less, there could well be no one left alive who knew what it was to stand with ground under their feet not of this Earth and stare back at the big blue ball they called home.

It led Wright to describe the Apollo missions as the last optimistic act of humankind – a mission executed not for military or commercial purposes, or any other reason than it challenged the limits of human innovation and ambition. It embodied the spirit, simply, that anything was possible.

At NASA and other governmental space agencies, at least, that spirit has been on the wane for decades. "For the past thirty years, they've been going up and down to orbit, and carrying on for the sake of carrying on," Zubrin says.

When the space shuttle Columbia evaporated on re-entry in 2003, it sent NASA into deep self-examination. A presidential commission on the disaster came back with an indictment of the program as lacking direction and purpose.

"Essentially, they said, `If you're going to assume the costs and risks of human space flight, you need to have goals that are worthy of those costs and risks,'" Zubrin says.

NASA consulted widely to determine a goal; Zubrin's group was among the consultations. In the end, they came up with that goal: Until 2010, it's shuttle and station. And then – on to the moon, and Mars.

But there's that political will issue again. Bush passed the buck to the next administration, which, when elected, will have to decide whether an investment of potentially more than $100 billion in a Mars mission is the right choice in a nation in deep economic stagger and bleeding badly in all respects from a prolonged war in Iraq.

But then, there's that which is priceless. When John F. Kennedy committed (not "recommended") to have a manned mission to the moon, it was a source of global inspiration – achievement for its own sake.

"It created that optimisitc attitude that anything is possible – that the world does not have to be as it always has been, and change is possible," Zubrin says. "It was a banner of progress and human possibility to embrace this goal."

Let us not forget the science. Zubrin's group has conducted 72 earthbound "Martian missions," in the Canadian Arctic and the Utah desert, simulating Martian living conditions and field work. The rehearsals are taken seriously, with participation from NASA and universities around the world.

Since 1964, when NASA's Mariner 4 executed the first successful flyby of the red planet, we've been to Mars a couple of dozen times, either probes on the surface or satellites in orbit, either Russian, American, Japanese or British. But we've never been there.

"Every time we go there, it's to answer a question. And inevitably, every question brings forward 10 more," said Alain Berinstain, the director of the planetary exploration program at the Canadian Space Agency. "That's why we're going to send humans to Mars: Because we can't answer all these questions robotically."

These are big ones. "Are we alone in the universe?" says Brendan Quine, the director of space engineering at York University, the country's primary research facility into Martian exploration. "These are profound questions that have far-reaching consequences."

Quine is associated with a unit called Northern Light, a joint venture between the school and Thoth Technologies, a Canadian aerospace firm. They're exploring privately funded space exploration (they hope to launch their own, private Martian probe in 2009, for a fraction of the cost of NASA's $350 million Phoenix mission).

One of Northern Light's objectives is to search for life. (Phoenix, which for the first time ever will sample some of the planet's icy ground, may beat them to it, though it's not one of the mission's stated goals.)

Key to this, of course, is water – something most believe the planet has in abundance in some form below its dusty ochre surface (the daytime temperature at the Martian equator is 20 degrees Celsius, but drops to —80 at night, so it's likely ice).

A thick band of hydrogen around the equator indicates water in some form. "We think there are very large reserves of water on Mars, actually," Quine says.

"There are clear coastlines – multiple coastlines, actually. You can't say they are until we test them, but they appear to be coastlines. In fact, we think that if we melted all the waters on Mars, we would flood the ocean basins to a depth of 500 metres. Then you've got a planet a lot like Earth."

Not that this is possible, of course. "But maybe there are ways, without substantially damaging the ecosystem, to bring Mars alive again."

Ecosystem. Again. Which assumes there is an ecosystem, and that there was one before. Strictly theory, of course, but a good one, suggests the impact of a massive meteorite, 20 kilometres wide, which hit Mars at a speed of 20 kilometres a second (its impact zone is the massive Hellas Crater, 2,100 kilometres wide). In theory, the impact would have thrown up millions of tonnes of debris, forcing the planet to heat up dramatically and the atmosphere to escape.

More theory: The thin Martian atmosphere is largely carbon dioxide. Left on its own, in a short 10,000 years, UV radiation would break it down to carbon monoxide. But it hasn't. "That means something is artificially maintaining the carbon dioxide atmosphere." Such as? "Micro-biological life produces carbon dioxide," Quine says. "I suppose volcanoes do as well, but we haven't seen much evidence of that."

Aha. Which is why we need to get there. For Quine and many others, all the robotic probes are a dress rehearsal for the real thing. "Before we send people, we need to know what the environment's like," he says.

He speaks as though it's an inevitable. He's not alone.

"We shouldn't think of it as a fairytale," Berinstain says. "The simple fact is, human beings go places they haven't been before, and as soon as they can. I don't know if it'll happen in 20, 30 or 100 years from now, but it will happen. There's no doubt in my mind about that."

For Zubrin, it's not we will, but we must. "To say we cannot accept the risks of humans to Mars would be to turn our backs not only on Apollo, but on Lewis and Clark, on Colombus, and everyone who took a chance to open up new possibilities to create the world we currently have," he says.

"For us to not accept that risk is for us to say we've become less than the people who got us to where we are today.

"And to me, that is something our society cannot afford."

Midnight mania - Halo Nation

24hoursnewsunder a dusty ol' Atari 2600 console, you know what happens at 12:01 a.m. this Tuesday. At more than 10,000 shops across North America, salespeople will face a late-night onslaught of twitchy-thumbed gamers for a moment of commercial frenzy – the release of Halo 3.

The final instalment in the hugely successful Halo video game series launches Sept. 25 for the Xbox 360. More than 500 retailers in Canada will open at midnight for the launch of Halo 3, which already has one million preorders in North America – making it the fastest-selling preordered game in history.

IGN's GamerMetrics analyst Nick Williams predicts Halo 3, made by Microsoft's Bungie Studios, will sell more than 4 million copies in the U.S. alone in the next two months.

This is a franchise with such tremendous buzz, consumer tech bible Wired magazine – which has Halo's protagonist Master Chief on its cover this month – is calling it "a cultural touchstone, a Star Wars for the thumbstick generation."

"It's a game series you could really rally behind because they're easy to get into, yet difficult to master," says Jeff Gerstmann, editorial director for, an online video game magazine. "Plus they have a good story, a likeable main character and multiplayer gaming over the Internet."

Sharma McCarthy, a 31-year-old project manager for a Toronto telecommunications company, says his passion for the series derives from its "super-involved story."

"No other game plays like it, in terms of look and feel. Bungie has an amazing level of detail."

For the uninitiated, Halo 3 continues Master Chief's fight against relentless alien races bent on destruction, concluding the story arc that began with 2001's Halo: Combat Evolved. Halo 3 offers new features including a four-player co-operative mode (letting gamers run through the single-player campaign with up to three friends, either on the same TV or over the Xbox Live online service); the ability to record game highlights; and new multiplayer maps.

"We know we have a pop-culture phenomenon on our hands here," says Ryan Bidan, product manager of games at Microsoft Canada.

"But despite its epic story and scope, our goal with Halo 3 is to make the game as accessible to as many people."

The Halo games have spawned comic books, novels, action figures, live-action short films and an undisclosed project involving the Academy Award-winning director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson.

To ensure the continued commercial success of this billion-dollar franchise, Microsoft has spent an estimated $10 million on its marketing campaign, says BrandWeek magazine, including TV spots during Monday Night Football, summer concert sponsorships and promotional deals inked with PepsiCo, 7-Eleven, Burger King, Pontiac, NASCAR and others.

Developed at Kirkland, Wash.,-based Bungie Studios, Halo 3 was created by 120 full-time employees – double the number that developed Halo 2 – as well as an "army" of part-time contractors, says Microsoft.

To tweak the multiplayer component of Halo 3, Microsoft held a widely publicized beta test this past spring, allowing more than 820,000 gamers to join online multiplayer matches for free.

Mike Zak, a B.C.-born designer at Bungie, says the pressure from the outside world to produce a game that lives up to the hype is nothing compared to what the team puts upon itself.

"We're our own worst critics," says Zak. "We're fortunate our fans are so appreciative but, truthfully, the real pressure comes from within our walls to create the best possible interactive entertainment experience possible. We're anxious to hear if we delivered."

The video game industry is facing a lot of "sequelitis" this coming season, says Gerstmann, with Guitar Hero 3 and the fourth Grand Theft Auto, which shouldn't make fans of the originals nervous.

"(Games) are one of the few forms of entertainment where the sequels are usually better than the originals."

That's what McCarthy is hoping he'll get on Tuesday – and he's not taking any chances.

"I have bought a couple of preorders ($70 apiece) to make sure I'm not that guy who doesn't get one. "On Monday night, me and my friends are having a farewell to Halo 2 party where we'll be playing it one last time. I've been online every day downloading podcasts, watching videos, reading articles, I even made my own Halo 3 T-shirts ... My friends are even more nuts than me ... (one) stocked up a wine fridge with Red Bull and PowerBars and we're all going online in the middle of the night (after picking up the Halo 3 preorder), and promised not to go to sleep until we all finished campaign in co-op mode."

Friday, September 21, 2007


New range of phones with HSDPA connectivity and 8GB storage out-of-box are on the horizon. No WiMAX phones yet, though.

Sprint's aging EV-DO network has no future, so the carrier is forced to roll out a more capable network infrastructure in order to continue being a major player. At a recent event, Sprint made it clear to us that they will roll out a WiMAX network, and a range of manufacturers will release products soon.

Verizon Wireless, which is in the same position as Sprint, has chosen Qualcomm's MediaFLO network solution in order to get a more capable multimedia network rolled out. On the other hand, Verizon Wireless also seems determined to compete with Google when it comes to rolling out a new nationwide network from scratch. Nevertheless, the status of Verizon Wireless' multimedia services as of today isn't much to brag about, so the carrier may be forced to walk down the WiMAX road as well to ensure their customer base stays intact.

In terms of officially announced handsets, AT&T's HSDPA network seems to have a bright future though. T-Mobile is also planning on rolling out a HSDPA network, but on a different frequency. As such, most of the currently hottest upcoming phones will only work on AT&T's HSDPA network. However, we expect to see a range of WiMAX and MediaFLO handsets being announced later this fall.

HP iPAQ 512 Voice Messenger- Overview:Overview

The HP iPAQ Voice Messenger offers professionals a powerful, easy-to-use Smartphone that combines the mobility of a cell phone, the capability of a handheld organizer, contact of a push e-mail device, and the power of an office phone system.


• Work in motion. Take your office on the road with productivity applications and the office functionality of mobile versions of Windows. Get to your most important Smartphone tasks quickly and easily with personalized shortcuts.

• Speak your mind. Voice Commander provides your own personal Voice Valet. Use spoken commands to perform a multitude of tasks. Have e-mails read to you and reply without typing. Dial a contact by name or digits. Get appointments read to you.

• Talk for hours - With hours of talk time, there is less to lose from dropped conversations. Save your wireless airtime minutes while in the office with VoIP (Voice Over IP) over your company's wireless LAN (WiFi) and PBX phone system.

• Protect your mobile work. Outlook security helps keep e-mail and other documents secure. Remotely erase data on lost or misplaced devices. iPAQ persistent storage helps protect your data, settings, and installed applications.

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BAE Systems has won a £4.4 billion contract to supply Eurofighters to Saudi Arabia

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BAE Systems, Europe's largest defence company, has won a £4.4 billion contract to supply Eurofighters to Saudi Arabia, despite failing to agree terms for a reciprocal investment in the kingdom.

The contract for 72 Typhoons is one of the largest defence export orders to have been won by a British company and will be worth an estimated £20 billion over the lifetime of the aircraft.

The Saudis signed the contract last week, although they have not reached an agreement with BAE on the level of investment that the company will make in the kingdom manufacturing and maintaining the Typhoons. Negotiations on the "Saudification" of the £60 million aircraft will continue in the coming months.

The Times reported on September 7 that the contract had been sent to Saudi Arabia and that King Abdullah was expected to sign the historic agreement within a week.

A Saudi defence official confirmed yesterday that the contract was signed on September 11 and initially is worth £4.43 billion. The contract will be called Project Salam, or al-Salam, meaning "peace".

The initial contract will be supplemented with a further order for armaments and weapons systems estimated to be worth £5 billion.

The Saudis are expected to spend a further £10 billion on maintenance, training and support for the aircraft.

The first 24 Typhoons will be built at BAE's factory at Warton, Lancashire, and the remaining jets are likely to be assembled in Saudi Arabia. BAE already employs 4,600 people in the kingdom, but negotiations on how much more the company will invest to build and support the Typhoons are yet to be finalised.

Confirmation that the Saudis have signed the Typhoon contract ends concerns that a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into BAE's earlier dealings with the Saudis could derail the sale.

The SFO was looking into allegations of corruption and bribery in the al-Yamamah contracts. The Saudis threatened to cancel the Typhoon order and withdraw anti-terrorism co-operation if the SFO pressed ahead with requests to examine the Swiss bank accounts of members of the royal family. The British Government ended the SFO investigation last December.

The deal was held up again this year when the Saudis decided to wait for Gordon Brown to become Prime Minister. They wanted the new British leader to endorse the deal personally as a sign of renewed co-operation between the two nations.

This is understood to have held up completion of the deal in recent weeks, but the Saudis went on with signing rather than risk having to renegotiate the whole deal.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange, the defence group said: "BAE welcomes this important milestone in its strategy to continue to develop Saudi Arabia as a key home market with substantial employment and investment in future in-kingdom industrial capability."

The deal will be a significant boost to the company after a year in which it has faced allegations of corruption in other defence contracts.

Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners, the brokerage firm, said: "This marks a new era in the UK-Saudi relationship and BAE will be the major beneficiary. It is good for BAE, but it is also good for the Saudis, as they get some of the best equipment in the world."

Al-Salam is the successor to the massive al-Yamamah contract agreed by the Thatcher Government in the 1980s. The deal to supply Saudi Arabia with Tornado fighter jets has been worth more than £43 billion to BAE since it was signed in 1984 and is the largest export order won by a British company.

Eurofighter, which is a collaboration between the British, German, Italian and Spanish governments, has won only one previous export order, of 18 aircraft to Austria.

More about BAE system.

BAE Systems is a global company engaged in the development, delivery and support of advanced defence and aerospace systems in the air, on land and at sea.

Major operations across five continents, with customers and partners in more than 100 countries.

Contacts :

BAE system

Australia + 61 (0) 8 8480 888
Saudi Arabia KSAR + 44 (0)1772 854705
Sweden BOFORS + 46 (0)586 733 000
Sweden Hagglunds + 46 (0)660 800 00
Sweden C-ITS + 46 (0)852 802 600
UK + 44 (0)1252 37 3232
US + 001 301 838 6000

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Wi-Fi phones - Nokia 6301 - Nokia launches 6301 Wi-Fi phone

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Nokia today revealed a new phone that will allow users to switch from traditional mobile networks to make calls over the internet when they are in reach of a wireless network such as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The 6301 is the latest handset to use unlicensed mobile access (UMA) technology, which allows users to switch between GSM cellular and WLAN networks. Nokia said the new model, which will be available through operators including Orange, would begin shipping in Europe in the fourth quarter of this year. It will cost an estimated €230 (£161), before subsidies and taxes.

Interest in UMA has been steadily building this year, especially in the US, as mobile operators face increased competition from free and low-cost internet telephony services such as Skype.

Earlier this month, Research in Motion, the company behind the BlackBerry mobile e-mail service, released a new UMA handset in the US with AT&T, the US operator.

Also in the US, T-Mobile recently unveiled a new service where customers pay $10 a month, on top of their regular payments, which allows them to make calls through a Wi-Fi network when they are at home and through T-Mobile hotspots in locations such as cafes and airport lounges.

In particular, mobile operators are keen to tap into the large numbers of phone calls people make using their mobiles at home.

According to Ovum, the marker researcher, in Europe 30 to 40 per cent of mobile calls are made within the home. That figure rises as high as 60 per cent in the United States.

Jeremy Green, an analyst for Ovum, the researchers, said: "Fixed-mobile convergence is one of the hottest topics in the mobile industry, even though the benefits of UMA for consumers are not yet clear."

Alongside UMA, operators including Vodafone, the world's largest, are also testing femtocell technology, small indoor versions of the large phone towers that link up national mobile networks. Commercial versions of the technology are slated to be rolled out next year.

ABI Research forecasts that about 70 million femtocells will be installed in homes around the world by 2012. Groups funding femtocell start-ups include Google, the search giant, and Intel, the world's largest microchip maker.

More about:

Switching automatically between GSM and Wi-Fi networks, the Nokia 6301 will soon ship in Europe.

With a sleek stainless steel design, the Nokia 6301 phone launched today offers seamless voice and data mobility across GSM cellular and Wi-Fi networks via Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology. The Nokia 6301 phone uses UMA technology to integrate the benefits of landline and a mobile phone, including seamless indoor coverage, sound quality and affordability.

With UMA technology, the consumer can use the GSM network or a broadband Internet-connected Wi-Fi network for mobile services. This is supposed to ensure excellent indoor coverage both at office and home. European carrier Orange will be one of the first carriers to offer the Nokia 6301.

Weighing a mere 93 grams and measuring 106 by 44 by 13 mm, the Nokia 6301 also offers a 2-megapixel camera and a 2" QVGA screen, as well as Bluetooth support and microSD memory slot. Running on GSM 900/1800/1900 MHz networks, the Nokia 6301 will likely not appear in the U.S.

The Nokia 6301 will begin shipping in Europe during the fourth quarter of 2007 with an estimated retail price of 230 euros before subsidies or taxes.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Lenovo Betting On Intel vPro

Lenovo has launched a new model of its ThinkCentre desktop, the A61e, which the company says has at least three elements that could spur new desktop sales: a smaller footprint, quieter operation and a low price point.

1. With a form factor about the size of a phone book, Lenovo said the A61e will also be more energy-efficient than earlier desktops and providea $20-per-unit annual energy savings.
2. The A61e will have SKUs with either the AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual core chip, or the Sempron single core..
3 The A61e follows up on remarks by Lenovo CEO William Amelio to CRN earlier this year, when Amelio promised that the company would deliver a desktop that provided a smaller footprint without a higher price.

Last week, Lenovo released the ThinkCentre A61e, an ultra small form factor (USFF) desktop featuring AMD processors. On Tuesday at the Intel Developer Forum, the company will unveil two more desktop PCs in tower, small form factor and USFF -- the ThinkCentre M57 and M57p, the latter built on Intel's vPro platform for remote system management and boot-up below the operating system.
Accompanying the new desktop offering is the Lenovo ThinkVision L220x Wide monitor, which the vendor claims is "the industry's first WUXGA resolution monitor." The monitor will support full high-definition 1080p video, according to Lenovo.

The ThinkCentre M57 and M57p desktops start at approximately $821 and $1,021, according to the company, while the ThinkVision monitor starts at approximately $550. The PCs will be available beginning in October, and the monitors in November, Lenovo said in a statement.

The M57 and M57p are Energy Star 4.0 compliant, and the new small form factor design incorporates better acoustics so the PCs run cooler and quieter, according to the Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based vendor.

Lenovo has recently made Intel's vPro (desktops) and vPro for Centrino (notebooks) a big part of their story in their M-series business-class desktops and ThinkPad notebooks. Intel released the latest version of its vPro board with Active Management Technology in late August. It features beefed-up security and new virtualization capabilities in a package that includes a Core 2 Duo processor, the Q35 Express chipset and the 82566DM gigabit network interface connector.

The chipmaker is expected to discuss new directions for its vPro platform, among other roadmap and product news, at the Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco, which begins Tuesday.

Lenovo also teamed up recently with Intel and software vendor LANDesk to build a software/hardware mix to take advantage of the vPro for Centrino platform. The three vendors have combined efforts on creating a mobile IT environment based on building the vPro for Centrino platform into the Lenovo ThinkPad T61 notebook, with integrated management via Lenovo's ThinkVantage technology and LANDesk's Management Solutions software.

"Intel is driving vPro. We build on top of those features. But we also work with the enterprise management consoles out there, like LANDesk, taking them and identifying the key areas where we can drive cost under the ownership models," said Stephen Balog, Lenovo's WW ThinkVantage Product Manager.

According to LANDesk Executive VP and General Manager Steve Daly, the remote, sub-OS system management made possible through the vPro platforms and a software solution is a necessary evolution in IT but can sometimes be a tough sell.

"The culture in IT is one where being the hero, the firefighter who swoops in to save the day at somebody's cubicle, reigns supreme. But the reality has changed for IT. Some companies might not be ready to go to full-blown service management, but the move to process orientation is an absolute must," Daly said.

Big IT operations like data centers are driving the shift away from reactive, break-fix system administration to process and service orientations, he said. Mid-market and SMB operations are likely to follow along in time.

"Data centers tend to have the process run books in place already. But the channel partners who go in with us on these data center sales usually wind up making desktop sales as well. With technology like vPro, it's a good opportunity for the VAR community to add services to software reselling," Daly said.

Meanwhile, LANDesk on Monday released the latest version of its Service Desk product. LANDesk Service Desk 7.2 is available as a stand-alone service delivery solution, or combined with LANDesk Management Suite and LANDesk Security Suite, the software vendor said in a statement. The new solution includes built-in processes for ITIL service desk, incident management, change management, problem management and service level management

Most intriguing extrasolar planets

The first planets outside our solar system were spotted in 1990, in orbit around a dying, radiation-spewing star very different from our Sun. In the years since, scientists have turned up even stranger worlds.

Starting in 1995 with 51 Pegasi b - the first extrasolar (or exoplanet) discovered around a normal star - planet hunters have found alien worlds that run the gamut in terms of diversity. There are large, gassy giants and small and rocky worlds. Some are two-faced worlds of fire and ice, and some float eerily through space, bound to no star.

In the dozen years since the discovery of 51 Pegasi b, the number of known and suspected exoplanets has climbed to nearly 230. Here are some record holders and oddballs.
The first

The closest

51 Pegasi b was the first planet discovered in orbit around a normal star other than our Sun. The planet, a hot Jupiter, also goes by the moniker Bellerphon, after the Greek hero who tamed winged-horse Pegasus, in reference to the constellation Pegasus where the planet is located.
Epsilon Eridani b orbits an orange Sun-like star only 10.5 light years away from Earth. It is so close to us telescopes might soon be able to photograph it. It orbits too far away from its star to support liquid water or life as we know it, but scientists predict there are other stars in the system that might be good candidates for alien life.

Free floaters

There are known exoplanets that have one, two and even three suns. But one bizarre class of planet-sized objects has no suns at all, and instead floats untethered through space. Called planemos, the objects are similar to, but smaller than, brown dwarfs, failed stars too small to achieve stellar ignition

A zippy planet

SWEEPS-10 orbits its parent star from a distance of only 740,000 miles, so close that one year on the planet happens every 10 hours. The exoplanet belongs to a new class of zippy exoplanets called ultra-short-period planets (USPPs), which have orbits of less than a day.

Triple-Core Chip ADM

The announcement was a surprise, coming just a week after the major launch by AMD of its four-core processor, code-named "Barcelona."

It also goes against the industry tradition of doubling processing power with each new design. Single-brain microprocessors are giving way to dual-core ones, followed by quad-core, with eight cores due next from Intel.

But AMD on Monday quoted industry research that showed quad-core chips had only grabbed two per cent of the market since Intel first introduced them last November. In contrast, dual-core chips took 12 to 15 per cent of the market within the first two quarters of their release.

"We believe triple-core is the right product at the right time to serve a broad swathe of the market," said Bob Brewer, head of marketing and strategy for AMD's PC platforms.

"There's a space for it, it makes sense, it's naturally going to resonate with consumers."

AMD is still planning to introduce its "Phenom" quad-core processor for desktop PCs in December, but it will follow up with a triple-core version in the first quarter of next year.

"If the choice is say $200 for a dual-core [processor] and $400 for a quad-core, then if you can get $300 for a triple-core, it's like free money," said Nathan Brookwood, analyst with the Insight64 research firm.

AMD told reporters that the choice of single, dual, triple and quad-cores would simplify its product lines for consumers, who were confused by comparisons between clock speeds and the size of memory caches on the chips.

Mr Brewer said a triple-core chip would work well for example on a PC where a user was playing a video game such as Bioshock, which utilised two cores, and where an anti-virus programme ran at the same time using the other core.

Advanced Micro Devices on Monday confirmed that rumors of a triple-core desktop chip on its roadmap are true. The chip, which will be part of AMD's new Phenom desktop processor brand, will be released sometime in the first quarter of 2008, according to AMD executives.
It appears that Phenom, the new brand initially believed to be built solely around AMD's first quad-core desktop chip due out in December, will be marketed to enthusiasts, OEMs and the custom system builder channel in both mid-range, triple-core and high-end, quad-core flavors.

"Triple-core is the mid-range product for 2008," said AMD marketing VP Bob Brewer at a press lunch Monday in San Francisco.

Asked if most consumers wouldn't just opt for the full quad-core if they were upgrading from dual-core, Brewer said AMD believes a mid-range multi-core product could attract budget-conscious shoppers. He said that while technologists and industry experts might not grasp the value of a triple-core processor, that "this is something that naturally resonates with consumers."

"They see, quite simply, that 'n-plus-one' is better than just 'n'," Brewer said.

AMD had ample motivation to announce the triple-core Phenom news when it did. Internet rumors began building into a storm over the weekend. And Brewer admitted that the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chipmaker wasn't averse to taking some of the spotlight away from its main rival, Intel, on the eve of the Intel Developers Forum at San Francisco's Moscone Center.

The triple-core announcement seems like a particularly opportunistic stab at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip leader. Though Intel came out with its quad-core product last December, its current chip architecture makes the production of a triple-core chip impossible. AMD, with its native multi-core design featuring independent power supplies to each individual core on a die, can and apparently will produce one sometime early next year.

Brain's messengers could be regulated, MIT researchers find

Potential for better understanding of schizophrenia
J. Troy Littleton, a professor in the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, joins biology graduate student Sarah N. Huntwork in the lab. They have created the first genetically-engineered mutant--in this case a fruit fly--that produces no complexins (proteins that play a role in the release of neuro-transmitters) during cell-to-cell signaling

Researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have found that tiny, spontaneous releases of the brain's primary chemical messengers can be regulated, potentially giving scientists unprecedented control over how the brain is wired.

The work, reported in the Sept. 16 early online edition of Nature Neuroscience, could lead to a better understanding of neurological diseases like schizophrenia.

Sputtering electrical activity--like a firecracker's leftover sparks after a big bang--was long considered inconsequential background noise compared with the main cell-to-cell interactions underlying thought and memory.

But lead author J. Troy Littleton, Fred and Carole Middleton Associate Professor of Biology at MIT, and colleagues found that the miniscule events that follow a burst of electrical and chemical activity among neurons are far more important that previously thought. A breakdown in this molecular mechanism could be the culprit in schizophrenia and other neurological diseases, the authors reported.

Neurons communicate with one another through chemical junctions called synapses. Key to the system are complexins. These small proteins play a role in the release of the brain's chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, during synaptic cell-to-cell signaling.

To figure out exactly how complexins work, Littleton created the first genetically engineered mutant--in this case, a fruit fly--that produces no complexins at all.

There are two sides to synaptic transmission--pre-synaptic and post-synaptic. When an electrical nerve impulse zaps the pre-synaptic side, it triggers lightning-fast events that release neurotransmitters. This activates the post-synaptic cell. Mission accomplished: The foundation of a memory is formed.

The neurotransmitters are like racehorses. They champ at the bit until they get the signal to dash toward the finish line. On the pre-synaptic side, small compartments, or vesicles, containing neurotransmitters are the starting block, and complexins are the gatekeepers that prevent the neurotransmitters from releasing prematurely.

After a big burst of electrical activity sends out a flood of neurotransmitters, a few vesicles still produce some neurotransmitter. The MIT work explains the molecular machinery behind these "minis," which can occur for a few minutes after the big event. Without complexin as a gatekeeper, minis occur unchecked, leading to massive rewiring and synaptic growth.

"This spontaneous release in the brain is not only important for signaling, it can trigger synaptic growth," Littleton said. "What's really exciting is that complexin's activity may be regulated. If we can regulate this machinery, we may be able to promote synaptic growth and potentially allow targeted rewiring in areas of the brain affected in various neurological diseases."

Littleton also holds an appointment in MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

Biology graduate student Sarah N. Huntwork coauthored the Nature Neuroscience paper.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Packard Foundation for Science and Engineering.

Kids' $100 Laptop Jumps in Price to $188

The famous laptop project by the OLPC project will now cost $188 instead of $100. The One Laptop Per Child project has been plagued with problems for some time now. The price has nearly been doubled by the not-for-profit organization to cover losses and fill a void with the inability to book orders.

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has raised the price of its XO laptop to US$188, according to an Associated Press report.

OLPC spokesman George Snell confirmed the price change on Friday, the AP report said. Snell blamed the price hike on "currency fluctuations" and the rising cost of raw materials like nickel and silicon.

OLPC executives in the U.S. were not immediately available for comment. Previously, OLPC said the XO would cost $176.

The reported price hike comes at a critical juncture for OLPC. The XO laptop has gone through four prototype stages, and the design has been locked down for weeks. In August, Quanta Computer Inc. completed a manufacturing run of 300 units to test the production process -- the final step before mass production of the XO begins later this month or in early October.

OLPC customers are counting on a low-cost laptop, and it was not immediately clear what, if any, impact the latest price hike will have on orders for the XO.

OLPC laptop gets minor delay along with price bump
Rumors that the XO laptop still has some refinement in terms of both pricing and configuration were confirmed late last week. A spokesperson for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Project told the AP on Friday that the price of the XO laptop has risen to $188 per unit and that the project faces product delays. The cost increase of approximately $12 may not seem like much, but given that initial orders from governments must amount to at least 100,000 units, it all adds up quickly.

The OLPC project designed the XO laptop to be used by students in developing countries. The non-profit organization will sell the laptops to foreign governments to distribute to children through schools. Although the systems were originally intended to sell for $100 each, the price has steadily climbed as a result of additional features and unexpected costs.

The XO laptops, which are being manufactured by Quanta in Taiwan, include innovative hardware features like a dual-mode LCD screen, a pull-string charger, a wide touchpad, and a unique wireless mesh network system. The XO's Linux-based operating system also includes innovative features including a highly unusual user interface.

The OLPC Project now faces competition from Intel's Classmate PC and a new laptop developed by Asus called the Eee PC that is scheduled for release this month.

The OLPC Project reportedly faces delays as well, but the severity of those delays isn't apparent yet. In the latest OLPC community newsletter, which was written last week, OLPC president Walter Bender says "there were Sugar, network, and security reviews this week resulting in the reporting of some new bugs and future features. One outcome was the identification of some last-minute features, so we will not be ready for code freeze on Monday—we are probably off by about a week. Next week, we will have a major push to get all remaining blocking bugs addressed."

Although the XO laptop has fallen short of initial expectations and far exceeded the original anticipated price of $100, the project is still heading towards a strong launch with a product that has lots of potential. The project is still confident that it can reach $100 per unit (if not below) over the next year or two with scale, but achieving that scale is going to be hard in the face of price increases.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Recall your email

24hoursnews :IBM has released the latest versions of its enterprise collaboration software, Lotus Notes 8 and Lotus Domino 8. Lotus Notes 8 brings together e-mail, calendar, instant messaging, office productivity tools and custom applications.

It includes productivity tools enabling users to create open standards-based versions of spreadsheets, word processing documents and presentations, in addition to supporting many file formats from traditional stand-alone applications. It also supports multiple platforms, including Linux and Windows for clients and Windows, Linux, Sun Solaris, AIX and IBM System i for servers

How often you've wished you could recall an email which you regret having sent, or which could embarrass you.

Fret not, help is here. IBM's latest offerings in the collaboration platform, Lotus Notes 8 and Domino 8 come with a recall feature that allows you to call back an email that has been sent. Developed over the last 2 years, version 8 is based on the feedback of 25,000 businesses around the world.

According to the company, this release is one of the best in terms of collaboration features. It also has significant inputs from IBM's India labs. More importantly, this version can be accessed on the Blackberry platform too. The software will offer features like email, collaboration, calendar, instant messaging and other office productivity tools and custom applications.

It is for the first time that a software is based on the open-source eclipse platform, a departure from the fact that otherwise IBM has in the past used its proprietary technology.

Sandesh Bhat, director (design and technology innovation), IBM, said: "The whole idea behind this was to offer users the best in the Web2.0 capabilities. This is also our endeavour to develop the desktop of the future.

Lotus Notes 8 is much more than an email service, unlike competitive offerings. Lotus Notes 8 integrates work by building in instant messaging and presence awareness, office tools to create and edit documents, presentations and spreadsheets and infusing a business' custom applications, including help desk, CRM, sales force, discussion forums, blogs and more.

This is all possible as Lotus Notes 8 is built on the programming model of Lotus Expeditor 6.1.1, which is based on open standards. Lotus Expeditor 6.1.1 enables the construction and deployment of enterprise mash-ups, also known as composite applications. Lotus Notes 8 and Domino 8 support a variety of platforms, including Linux and Windows for clients and Windows, Linux, Sun Solaris, AIX and IBM System for servers.

The office collaboration market is estimated to be in millions. Frost and Sullivan in one of its reports mentioned that IBM with a 44.5 per cent market share is a market leader in India.

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Tata Tele launches Web browser Moblie

Tata Teleservices has launched a Web browser mobile phone 'Samsung Explore' that is customised to access the Internet.

At Rs 5,499, the phone has other features such as 0.3-mega pixel digital camera, FM radio, MP3 player, mobile tracker, SOS alert and provision to insert external memory cards.

Starter kits and SIM cards would be additionally charged. Tariff plans for Internet access include Rs 10 a day, Rs 30 for 7 days and Rs 99 for a month - all offering unlimited access at speeds of about 156 kbps, Mr Srinivas Rao Sarapalli, Chief Operating Officer, Tamil Nadu Circle, Tata Teleservices, said at a press conference.

Both pre-paid and post-paid consumers can use this phone. The company currently has over 1.9 crore subscribers, about 60 per cent of who access the Internet via mobile phones.

The company expects to sell about 4,000 'Samsung Explore' handsets this month, Mr Sarapalli said.

Subscriber base

Tata Teleservices has about 9 lakh subscribers in Chennai and Tamil Nadu telecom circles and is investing about Rs 400 crore this year to expand network in the State.

It expects to add about 60 lakh subscribers pan India and is investing about Rs 4,000 crore in network expansion and other activities.


Tata Teleservices, in association with Samsung Telecommunications, unveiled a web browser fully optimised for mobile Internet here on Thursday.

The web browser is being introduced on the Samsung 'Explore' handset.

"This innovation opens up the Internet to those without access to a personal computer," said Pankaj Sethi, President (Value Added Services), Tata Teleservices. The access speed will be between 40 to 80 kbps, enabling viewers to open any web page in 20-30 seconds, he added. The browser, which is expected to be three to four times faster than GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), will enable the user to browse all websites, search and email. It will, however, not be possible to show videos in the current devices. The browser is based on the QSC6020 product from the Qualcomm single chip family. The Samsung 'Explore' handset, which also has a camera, FM radio and MP3 player, is priced at Rs. 5,499. Mobile Internet will come at prices ranging from Rs. 10 a day to Rs. 99 a month with unlimited access.

Chennai Correspondent writes:

According to Srinivas Rao Sarapilli, Chief Operating Officer, (Tamil Nadu Circle), Tata Teleservices, the web browser, powered by Novarra Inc., can be downloaded on a handset enabled with Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW).

Mr. Sarapilli said Tata Indicom aimed at expanding its subscriber base in Tamil Nadu from nine lakh to a million users by the year-end. Its country-wide user base is estimated to be around 19 million, which the company wants to expand to 25 million in the next few months.

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Web TV show

MySpace still has a few cards up its sleeve -- including the connections it has to some of the top names in traditional media, thanks to its parent company, media and entertainment giant News Corp.

The social-networking site announced today that it has signed an exclusive deal with Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, the Hollywood duo that produced such hit TV shows as Thirtysomething and My So-Called Life, for the rights to a new Internet drama the pair are working on, called Quarterlife.

Episodes -- or webisodes -- of the show, which follows a group of twentysomethings through the eyes of one young girl with a video-blog, will appear first on MySpaceTV, and then on the website.

Jeff Berman, the general manager of MySpaceTV, said in an interview that the show was a "landmark moment" for MySpace, and that it would be "the highest-quality serialized content ever to appear on the Internet. We're talking about the same production values as 24 or Prison Break."

There have been a number of episodic TV-style shows created for the Internet, including the popular Lonelygirl15 show, which was developed by a trio of unknowns and also appears on MySpaceTV. More recently, former Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner's company created a show called Prom Queen, which aired on MySpaceTV and drew a large following.

Entertainment websites have been speculating for several months about a possible Internet offering from Mr. Zwick and Mr. Herskovitz, after a number of reports leaked out about TV writers and production staff working on something called Quarterlife. The Hollywood duo had a traditional TV show of the same name that ran briefly in 2005.

"We've been talking to [Zwick and Herskovitz] for the past several weeks, and we're delighted to be able to announce this," Mr. Berman said. The first "webisode" will be posted on MySpaceTV on November 11, he said.

Under the terms of the deal, the social-networking site has a 24-hour window during which the webisode will only be available on MySpaceTV. After that, it will appear on Both sites will have interactive features, Mr. Berman said, but on MySpace viewers will be able to interact with the cast through their MySpace pages.

MySpace users and bloggers on other sites will also be able to "embed" the webisodes in their pages by pasting in a small chunk of code, as they can with video clips on other sites such as YouTube, and DailyMotion.

When asked whether the new show would have a mobile component involving cellphones, Mr. Berman said "stay tuned." He also said that MySpaceTV was working on several other projects with content creators in the entertainment community.

According to Mr. Berman, more than 50 million users stream video each month from their MySpace webpages, and the social-networking site as a whole produces 500 million individual video streams

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Faced with Facebook's exponential growth, MySpace hopes to keep its users onside with what it says is the first network-quality television series produced directly for the internet.

The social network announced today it had secured the exclusive international distribution rights for Quarterlife, a new series from Emmy award-winning producers Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick.

MySpace Australia spokesman Darain Faraz said the deal was just the first of many shows it planned to offer through MySpace TV, which up until now has consisted mainly of user-submitted clips.

He said within the next few weeks the site would announce a number of "local content sharing deals" with Australian content providers.

"We are on the verge of announcing some fairly huge stuff," he said.

MySpace has 3.8 million registered Australian users but its growth rate now lags well behind Facebook's, which earlier this year surpassed 200,000 Australian users.

But where Facebook's expansion is now being driven by third-party applications, which have rapidly expanded the functionality of the site, MySpace is looking to hold on to its users through new features such as MySpace TV and Instant Messenger.

Quarterlife, which will premier in seven languages on MySpace's global sites on November 11, delves into the lives of six people in their 20s and charts their "coming of age as a part of the digital generation".

The show was unashamedly written to appeal to today's tech-savvy youth - the central character, a young woman named Dylan, is a blogger whose video diary divulges a few too many of her friends' closest secrets.

It purports to be a "truthful depiction of the way young people speak, work, think, love, argue and express themselves".

To that end, Herskovitz and Zwick - the force behind My So-Called Life, thirtysomething, Legends of the Fall and Blood Diamond - will invite their audience to participate in the ongoing development of the series "through writing and video submissions".

There will be 36 episodes in total and the producers plan to create a mini social network around the show through a website, It will also have its own profile page on MySpace, which MySpace says will include bonus content such as character profiles, behind-the-scenes video footage and storyline secrets.

Herskovitz and Zwick said the fact Quarterlife was an independent project meant they had full "creative autonomy", which isn't always possible when producing shows for traditional TV networks.

"For better or worse, Quarterlife is truly our own vision," Herskovitz said.

The Quarterlife concept was originally conceived three years ago as a TV pilot called "¼ life", developed for the US network ABC. The project was axed due to "creative differences" between the producers and ABC, after which the script was completely rewritten for an internet audience.

"When Emmy award-winning producers come to MySpace TV - you know this is reaching a whole new level," Myspace CEO Chris DeWolfe said in a statement.

In the US, MySpace has already dabbled extensively in digital broadcasting, securing the rights to a number of smaller series and short clips including the web series Prom Queen, a teen-oriented serial drama made by a US studio owned by former Disney boss Michael Eisner.

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AMD with quad-core processor -Intel new invention

24hoursnews : Intel is aiming to extend its performance lead over AMD with the introduction of the industry's first quad-core processors designed for multi-processor servers.
The chip giant has rolled out six quad-core Xeon 7300 series processors, which deliver more than twice the overall performance and more than three times the performance per watt of its previous generation of dual-core server chips. The chips are the last to be converted to Intel's Core micro-architecture, a process that has been under way since 2006.
The 7300 series are more energy efficient than previous chips. It comprises chips that run at clock speeds of up to 2.93GHz at 130W, several 80W processors and a 1.8GHz, 50W version that is targeted specifically at four-socket blade servers.
In addition to having twice as many cores, the 7300 chips come with up to four times the memory capacity of the dual-core multi-processor platforms, which Intel maintained will allow businesses to consolidate their server environments to reduce space, power and running costs.
"Intel Xeon-based multi-processor servers are the backbone of the enterprise," said Tom Kilroy, Intel vice president and co-general manager of the digital enterprise group.
"With the Xeon 7300 series, Intel is delivering new levels of performance and performance per watt, and is driving the Intel Core micro-architecture into such innovative systems as four-socket, 16-core blades that use less energy than our older models."
The Xeon 7300 series means IT managers can pool their single, dual- and quad-core Core-based servers into a dynamic virtual server infrastructure that allows for live, virtual machine migration. This should improve situations including failover, load balancing, disaster recovery and server maintenance.
Brian Byun, VMware's vice president of global partners and solutions, said: "VMware and Intel have worked together to optimise VMware ESX Server on the Xeon 7300. Our partners and customers benefit from increased platform choice and performance headroom from the quad-core four-socket server systems."
Intel said that the 7300 series running the VMmark benchmark designed for measuring virtualisation performance, achieved the highest single server result so far. Results from key server manufacturers testing the 7300 series are also proving encouraging.
HP has proclaimed world-record results for a ProLiant DL580 G5 server running the TPC-C benchmark for database performance, while IBM claimed its 7300-based, System x3850 M2 server using the SPECint*_rate_base2006 benchmark for integer throughout, also set a new world record.
Intel claims silicon crown despite AMD Barcelonaa.

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AMD's Barcelona Chip to Get Speed Boost This Year.

On the same day that Advanced Micro Devices Inc. officially released its Barcelona server processor, the company said it would have a faster version of the quad-core Opteron device out by year's end.

Initially, the top clock speed on the quad-core chip is 2 GHz. But Randy Allen, vice president and general manager of AMD's server and workstation division, said at the Barcelona launch event here Monday evening that the company will have a 2.5-GHz version ready for shipment in December.

The confirmation of the planned speed bump may have been the most significant bit of news out of the product launch, which was held at the Letterman Digital Arts Center on the grounds of the Presidio, a former U.S. Army base that now is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The announcement mostly featured a long list of executives from hardware vendors offering support and praise for AMD without taking any shots at its main processor rival, Intel Corp. That was left to AMD officials, but even they rarely if at all mentioned Intel by name.

Hector Ruiz, AMD's chairman and CEO, said the company's initial development in 2003 of an x86-compatible Opteron that could run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications raised the bar "for what an industry should expect from a processor company."

Ruiz claimed that the new Opteron would have "a similarly profound effect on computing," even though Intel turned the tables on AMD and beat it to market with quad-core processors by 10 months. Last week, Intel released a new Xeon 7300 line of quad-core chips with clock speeds of up to 2.93 GHz.

Executives from IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Dell Inc. appeared at AMD's launch event in person or via video to announce plans to add the Barcelona chip to their server product lines, with shipments scheduled to begin as early as next month. Among them was Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell, who said his company intends to double its lineup of AMD-based systems by year's end.

Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's president and CEO, said his company is aiming to use the quad-core Opteron to double its AMD-based server business. However, Sun in January announced a deal with Intel to develop a full of line of Xeon-based servers and workstations. That ended a two-year-old strategy under which Sun had exclusively used Opterons in its x86 systems.

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Authorities suspect Aust bees carrying virus

The US Agriculture Department has pointed the finger at Australian bees as possible carriers of a virus that they say is causing the collapse of the honey bee industry in the United States and Europe.

The claims are likely to harm the Australian industry and could lead to a ban on the import of Australian bees.

The failure to find what has caused the honey bee crisis is an ongoing headache for the industry, which in the US is worth about $17 billion.

The name for the mysterious problem, Colony Collapse Disorder, sums up its devastating effects for beekeepers.

Daniel Weaver, the president of the American Beekeeping Federation says it is also causing alarm for producers in other industries.

"The farmers and orchardists that produce the fruits and nuts and melons and berries and all the other tasty things for the table that depend upon honey bees for pollination," he said.

He says the latest research on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) will harm Australian bee exports. Genetic research has found that Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus turned up regularly in hives affected by CCD.

The US Agriculture Department has also pointed the finger at Australian bees as a possible source.

Mr Weaver says Australian bees will not be quite as welcome in America now.

"It's likely that some beekeepers in the US who might have been contemplating using Australian bees might take a second look at that option now, wishing to avoid any excess risk," he said.

"So they may not import Australian bees that they would have otherwise imported without this report."

Questionable circumstances

Warren Taylor ships tens of thousands of Australian bees to Canada each year and he questions the conclusion that Australian bees may be the source of CCD.

"We've been shipping bees to Canada for 15 years," he said.

"There's been no colony collapse in Australian bees."

Mr Taylor, managing director of Australian Queen Bee Exporters, says he has very suspicious about the claims from the US.

"I'm curious as to whether there's some hidden agenda with the local bee producers," he said.

"In Canada, we don't have local bee producers, so we're not competing against anyone, but in the US there's a large number of bee producers and we're obviously competing directly with them."

He says the credibility of the claim is questionable.

"There's a lot of unanswered questions, and the Americans choose not to test colonies that haven't collapsed to see if there's any Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus in that."

There is irony in Australian bees coming under suspicion because beekeepers in the US have relied on honey makers from Australia to keep their hives alive.

The head of the Australian Honey Bee Council, Stephen Ware, says there is no support for the theory that Australian bees are to blame for.

"I'd certainly call it dodgy," he said.

"It's akin to a drowning man throwing off his life preserver and saying, 'the life preserver was why I was drowning'."

Exports in danger

The export in bees has grown to a $5 million industry since 2004 when the US started accepting Australian imports. Mr Ware says there is a risk US authorities may now ban Australian bees.

"Every chance that potentially there could be a ban on exports, and we certainly don't believe that's warranted," he said.

"We hope that cooler heads will take charge and that the analysis will be properly examined, and will be shown to be flawed."

Despite the findings of the US report, Australian bees are being defended by a leader in the US beekeeping industry.

Mr Weaver says the virus found in an Australian bee can not be solely responsible for the crisis.

"There is a strong correlation in the data that they've presented, but I think that much more work remains to be done," he said.

"They need to obtain additional samples of Australian bees. There is in fact only one direct sample of Australian bees that's part of that study, and a sample of one is not persuasive."

CSIRO bee pathologist Dr Denis Anderson says he is highly sceptical about the claims in the US report, and so is the Australian Government.

A statement from federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran says any trade restrictions imposed on the basis of the research would be inconsistent with America's trade obligations, because there is not enough evidence.

The issue is sure to cause a more than a buzz when it is discussed at the World Beekeeping Congress in Melbourne next week.