Thursday, February 23, 2006

podcast interview with bird flu book author John Farndon

A podcast of an interview with John Farndon who wrote Everything You Need to Kow: Bird Flu.

India seals off town

No-one will be allowed in or out of Navapur, in India's Maharashtra state, which has a population of nearly 30,000, or 19 nearby villages. Bird flu has been discovered.

The measures come after reports that blood samples from people in hospital have tested positive for bird flu. Health officials deny the reports.

Hundreds of thousands of birds are being culled after deadly H5N1 bird flu was found in Navapur last week.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

China's market for IT

The China Center of Information Industry Development(CCID) reported the market for information technology services in China is expected to grow 20.6 pct annually for the next five years. Last year, China's IT service market volume hit 82.27 bln yuan, up 20.1 pct year-on-year, the Times quoted a CCID report as saying.

The sector is booming partly due to rising computer sales and Internet usage. In 2005 about 19.9 mln personal computers were sold in the Chinese market, with sales volume totaling 121.09 bln yuan, up 18.8 pct and 8.7 pct year-on-year, according to CCID figures. The number of Internet users has also risen to more than 110 mln in the past year.

(1 usd = 8.05 yuan)

History of CIA interrogation exposed

Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madisonis the author of “A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror” and also “The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade.”

The U.S. made a pledge against torture when Congress ratified the UN Convention Against Torture in 1994 - but it was ratified with reservations that exempted the CIA’s psychological torture method. So what were the results? Although seemingly less brutal, "no touch" torture leaves deep psychological scars on both victims and interrogators. The victims often need long treatment to recover from trauma far more crippling than physical pain. The perpetrators can suffer a dangerous expansion of ego, leading to escalating cruelty and lasting emotional problems.

In the CIA's first stage, interrogators employ simple, non-violent techniques to disorient the subject. To induce temporal confusion, interrogators use hooding or sleep deprivation. To intensify disorientation, interrogators often escalate to attacks on personal identity by sexual humiliation.

Once the subject is disoriented, interrogators move on to a second stage with simple, self-inflicted discomfort such as standing for hours with arms extended. In this phase, the idea is to make victims feel responsible for their own pain and thus induce them to alleviate it by capitulating to the interrogator's power.

To be sure, torture is a violation of human rights. Have terrorists given up that right to be human? According to many critics and watchers of the Bush Administration and the war on terror the answer is yes. That answer was given by those who use torture as a method of interrogation. But that is how torure works...treat your victims as "less human" and the torturer will have power over the prisoner. A circle has thus been created. I have power because I torture, I torture because I have power. The United Nations Convention Against Torture has received new interest because of the tales coming from Abu Ghraib in Iraq. Will the U.N. adopt new anti-torture resolutions? If so, will those resolutions be effective? Probably not because someone will be exempt.

Egypt detected first cases of deadly bird flu strain

The government of Egypt has detected the flu strain in chickens at Cairo, Giza, and Minya. Four chickens were infected at Cairo and 2 each in Giza and Minya. No human cases were detected. The first cases found in Africa were in the country of Nigeria. The disease has spread west from the original detection location of Southeast Asia. The disease can spread from birds to humans. So far there has been no human-to-human contact.

WeatherBug does video

WeatherBug has introduced a video service for weather forecasts.

read more | digg story

Thursday, February 16, 2006

news source choice

A growing number of people read the news online, but the format of choice uis still the newspaper, according to Nielsen/Net Ratings. Here are the results from a recent survey:

Primarily print newspaper 71%
Primarily online newspaper 22%
Split between the two 7%

outsourcing on the rise

By 2007, total global offshore spending on IT services will reach $50 billion according to Gartner. India maintained its top position among the global sourcing destinations despite growing competition. Although more options for external service provision are becoming available worldwide, India reamins the market leader with a majority of essential resources and a sufficiently robust technology infrastructure.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

investment analysis using internet data mining

Majestic Research is using web crawling techniques to track business performance. Majestic uses data mining systems to collect real-time sales data and other information on companies that have a web presence.

bird flu in germany, austria and iran

Germany, Austria and Iran said on 02/15/2006 that they detected the deadly bird flu in wild swans. So far the virus has killed 91 people worldwide. Germany said its results came from initial tests. Both countries said samples of the dead birds had been sent to the EU's reference laboratory in Britain for confirmation. The other EU countries to have reported the flu are Italy and Greece.

The highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of the virus has killed at least 91 people in Asia and the Middle East, according to the World Health Organization.

Anything you need to do with Web 2.0

This useful site is full of links that help you do what you want to do in Web 2.0. Enjoy, you can get lost in there!

read more | digg story

Monday, February 13, 2006

u.s. planning strikes against iran

The U.S. is drawing plans for airstrikes against Iranian targets as a "last resort" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The most likely strategy would involve aerial bombardment by long-distance B2 bombers, each armed with up to 40,000lb of precision weapons, including the latest bunker-busting devices.

They would fly from bases in Missouri with mid-air refuelling.

Iran nuclear facilities that could become targets

Saghand - mining: Uranium ore discovered 1985. Mining began later that year with 120,000 tonnes of ore yielding some 50-60 tonnes of uranium annually.

Ardkan - milling: Ore is purified to uranium ore concentrate, also known as yellowcake.

Gehine: Mine and milling facility which will produce 24 tonnes of yellowcake annually.

Isfahan - conversion: Yellowcake is cleansed of impurities and converted to uranium hexafloride gas, cooled,and condensed to a solid known as hex.

Natanz - enrichment: Pictures published in the Sunday Telegraph reveal new buildings at site which can be used to produce weapons grade uranium.

Teheran: Enrichment facility at Kalaye dismantled. Research reactor and radioactive waste storage facilities still operating.

Bushehr: Russian light water reactor is due to start up this year. Can produce reactor-grade plutonium.

Arak: Heavy water research reactor - better suited for weapons-grade plutonium production.

Anarak: Waste storage site.

The review of the Pentagon's contingency plans follows the stream of recent discoveries of Iran's secret nuclear operations and the virulent rhetoric of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad since he was elected last year. Iran is still thought to be anywhere between three and 10 years away from physically producing a nuclear weapon.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

the price of brainpower

Classical economic theory has assumed that if one invests in factories, tools and improved transportation, economic growth is sure to follow. If you subscribe to that theory, labor productivity gains wil be realized from mechanization and new production processes. The assumption that a company was bound to prosper from a high rate of return from capital investments. That assumption did not however explain economic worth.

The 2004 net value of financial assets (book value) fro 7,241 listed U.S. corporations totaled $9.2 trillion while investors were willing to pay $22.7 trillion for these companies. That puts the value of knowledge at $13.5 trillion (the difference between market and book value).

To define knowledge capital as a financial metric is to measure knowledge that requires metrics that are repeatable and quantitatively definable. Analysis of assets is the key for essential capabilities in any organization that wishes to compete in the 21st century. The $13.5 trillion stated earlier is a simplification. The sum of knowledge values includes a number of firms that had negative results and high-value management tends to concentrated in a few firms.

Consider the following:

  • The top 100 firms by book value, out of the total corporate population of 7,241 firms (1.4%), had $6.5 trillion of knowledge value, or 71% of the total for the U.S. economy.
  • There were 662 firms whose knowledge was negative. They were worth less on the market than their financial valuations. They were worth $300 billion more than if they were sold off at book value.
Bigger firms still have the most knowledge in the "new economy" and is the U.S. economy approaching its full capacity for generating wealth?

Costs of Planning
Market Value (market capitalization, year-end)
Financial Value (shareholder equity) B
Knowledge Value (A-B)
Importance of Knowledge (C/B) D
Number of Employees E
Knowledge Value/Employee (C/E) F

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Chicago Mercantile Exchange and energy futures

The fast-growing electronic exchange platform of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange will challenge New York and London in the lucrative energy markets. The CME will likely offer energy contracts but no timetable was given nor any other specifics from Craig Donahue chief executive of the CME.

The Chicago exchange saw sharp growth in Globex volume last year. It accounted for 70 percent of total trading volume, up from 57 percent in the prior year, CME said yesterday. The low cost of its electronic platform would allow CME to create a new energy contract relatively quickly and at very low cost.

CME(R) Globex(R) Average Daily Volume Of 3.3 Million Contracts Up 30 Percent - Electronic CME Eurodollar Options Volume Quadrupled Compared With January 2005 - CME Agricultural Commodities Record Monthly Volume Up 50 Percent.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

customers prefer knowledge bases

47 percent of customers cited searchable knowledge bases as the most efficient form of self-service.

  1. Software updates 56.6%
  2. Knowledge bases 47.2%
  3. Documentation 13.4%
  4. Product and service info 13.1%
  5. Ability to give feedback 12.2%
  6. Submit incidents 6.3%
Results based on a survey featured in the ServiceXRG report Self Service Excellence

Call Center Industry Stats


an extra measure of security

You can load up on software and software to safeguard systems but don't forget the training. Top to bottom training for IT folks will enable an organization to know the risks. The delegation process to security specialists will likely slow down when the IT department takes security a higher level.

The United States has tried to provide a framework, but the British have been more systematic. The U.K. Department of Trade and Industry recently published a best-practices standard.

Coursework that has case studies is most helpful when deciding what classes to send people to. The cost is generally around $500 per person plus don't forget to add in the employee time. Always consider the potential for attacks that could result in downtime that then could result in the loss of revenue.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

New Weapon Could End Collateral Damage

The military plans to test the Advanced Tactical Laser, a laser weapon mounted on a C-130H air transport that could destroy any weapon system without collateral damage. The project has been headed by Boeing Missile Defense Systems in a project with the U.S. Air Force. Boeing has already taken delivery of the aircraft and plans to modify the platform for the ATL program. The high-energy laser would be completed in Albuquerque, N.M. Officials said the first ground tests of the laser would take place in the summer of 2006.

detector could yield evidences of string theory

Researchers at Northeastern University and the University of California, Irvine say that scientists might soon have evidence for extra dimensions and other exotic predictions of string theory. Early results from a neutrino detector at the South Pole, called AMANDA, show that ghostlike particles from space could serve as probes to a world beyond our familiar three dimensions, the research team says.

In recent decades, new theories have developed – such as string theory, extra dimensions and supersymmetry – to bridge the gap between the two most successful theories of the 20th century, general relativity and quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics describes three of the fundamental forces of nature: electromagnetism, strong forces (binding atomic nuclei) and weak forces (seen in radioactivity). It is, however, incompatible with Einstein's general relativity, the leading description of the fourth force, gravity. Scientists hope to find one unified theory to provide a quantum description of all four forces.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

derivatives management increase

The derivatives market is heating up and IT spending on derivatives management will experience a steady increase according to a report by Aite Group. Industry spending on derivatives management technology will exceed $7 billion by 2009, up from $6.3 billion in 2005.

Returns from equities and fixed-income markets aren't gaining momentum and an increasing number of firms are turning to the derivatives instruments to rev up portfolios. The increase in the hedge fund activity has increased the demand for alternative instruments such as the offerings of the derivatives market.

Processing derivative transactions remains mostly a manual process prone to human error, which can result in financial losses. BAck-office automation is needed most and should account for the bulk of the increased spending.