Racefan’s Ramblings

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Archive for the ‘Technology and Gadgets’ Category

Everything to to with Tech, Gadgets, Computers and ….. Tech!

Why do all our gadgets break?

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 29, 2006

I agree 100% with this story on Crave (Cnet.com). I have been through so many mobiles, they make them with the screens easily scratch, weak pivots, and electronics that break when you drop them in your pocket!!
From the article

Why do all our gadgets break?“Of course, we live in an upgrade culture, in which mobile phones, laptops and iPods are discarded for cosmetic reasons as much as technical. But there is a
splinter cell whose members don’t want to upgrade their current product, yet is forced to by the increasingly poor build quality of many modern consumer electronics.

… Engineers have built obsolescence into mass-produced technology since the 1920s. There are two kinds of planned deterioration in a product: one is technical, the other is stylistic.
The fashion industry relies on your eagerness to keep up with changes in style to keep their new products selling, while the technology industry used to rely on the simple fact that computers were never
quite fast enough for the average user.

And the kicker

The electronics industry has clearly spotted this problem, [how to get people to keep buying their products when they havn’t improved much] and has worked out a simple way to make you upgrade even if you’re not a slave to fashion: your gadgets will simply break within the year. The evolution of the microchip to a point where the average consumer cannot tax it technically has ushered in The Age of the Flimsy — delicate, beautiful supermodels that can’t go the distance.

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Absolutly useless trivia — No l

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 29, 2006

Trivia LogoI don’t remember where I read this, But it is a real statistic, there are over 1500 people killed EVERY YEAR mining COAL. So how old is the nuclear industry?

From reccolection the same story said that even post Chenoble, there is less than 2000 people who have been HURT or effected negatively by nuclear accidents…

Now I ask you

  Is Coal safer? Who For?

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Bahrain International Circuit » The Australian Logistics

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 22, 2006

BICAs The V8 Supercars head to Bahrain I found this really interesting article from the Bahrain International Circuit, helps you realize the sheer scale of the industry that V8 Supercars have become. F1 may be a way out in front, but not many other series! From next year the organizers are on a cost containment bent to avoid the sport out pricing itself. But WOW, what a show, and they are loud, fast and aggressive. Love it!

This is a press release, but I have highlighted some interesting bits for those not so interested in reading it all!

Over 110 tonnes of V8 Supercar muscle and technical know-how to manage them touched down in the Kingdom of Bahrain yesterday in readiness for this weekend’s Desert 400 race weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit (November 23-25). It is only the second time that the Supercars have taken flight, following a hugely successful foray to China’s Shanghai Circuit in 2005. Read the rest of this entry »

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V8 Cost containment gains momentum

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 14, 2006

The ongoing V8 Supercar cost containment debate, the next generation extension to ‘Project Blueprint’ was announced recently.

Project blueprint is the governing bodies continuing efforts to provide parity between the marques. This is designed to ensure the team doing the best job, and the best driver, will rise to the top. In previous generations it was necessary to have the “Right” car. Take the Ford Sierra days! This is the way of the future, and it is successful in the Nascar universe, and has been with the V8’s.

the next stage is now underway, with the cars so even a small increase in performance comes at a horrendous cost. Catapillar just withdrew their sponsorship from a front running team, after apparently pouring in $10 million in a few years. The danger is always that the big teams get all the dollars, all the results, all the press, and leave the smaller fellows in a downward spiral of trying to keep their heads above water. It would not be the first series to price itself out of existence.

And so we had an announcement a few days ago about one of the new “control” components. These are ‘off-the-shelf’ parts you must use. mostly in areas such as brakes where teams invest millions in developing new and better technology. It helps to even the playing field. V8x carried this story in the past day…

Alcon to put the brakes on V8 Supercars in first cost containment measure

Media Release

The Touring Car Entrants Group (TEGA) today announced that the V8 Supercar Championship Series will utilise control brake components supplied by Alcon Components from the commencement of the 2007 Championship season.

It is the first in a series of cost containment measures to be rolled out in the coming months to ensure the long-term sustainability of the sport and its’ teams. This initial measure is expected to save more than $1 million each year for the Championship Series teams.

All V8 Supercars in the series will, following an implementation year in 2007, be required to use identical brake discs and calipers in Championship events from the commencement of the 2008 Championship.

In announcing the multi year arrangement, TEGA Chairman Kelvin O’Reilly said: “We have gone through an exhaustive process with the various brake component suppliers to the Championship teams over the past 10 months to arrive at the decision to appoint Alcon as our official brake component supplier.

“Alcon’s proposal was compelling in its commercial attractiveness and its technical merit. The discs and pads available to the Teams for 2007 are all current specification components that are in use on race winning cars and they will be available to the Teams at considerably lower prices than they currently pay.

“The original drive for control brakes came from the need to constrain the cost of competition in the Championship. We expect this decision to result in a saving across the Championship Teams approaching or exceeding $1 million in the first year.”

Alcon Managing Director Alistair Fergusson said the deal was a continuation of the long-term partnership between the company and several V8 Supercar Championship Series teams.

“Alcon has supplied brake and clutch components to the Championship over the past six years in a joint strategy with PWR Performance Products that has been designed to offer technically excellent brake and clutch products, backed by the highest level of service to competitors in the Championship,” said Alcon Managing Director Alistair Fergusson .

“The V8 Supercar Championship is a fabulously entertaining and competitive Series and I am delighted that we will be able to support TEGA and V8 Supercars Australia in ensuring that the Championship goes from strength to strength in the future.

Alcon Motorsport Sales Manager Andy Burton sees the new component supply agreement as the natural next step for the Alcon/PWR alliance.

“TEGA saw the need to contain the cost of competition and ensure full grids in the years ahead. Alcon and PWR have shown their commitment to the series over the past six years and we are very pleased that the TEGA Board has judged our proposal as being in the best interests of all competitors.”

PWR Performance Products Managing Director, Kees Weel commented: “V8 Supercars have sought cost containment for some time and I am delighted that PWR Performance Products in alliance with Alcon has been awarded this contract to deliver these savings. The best part is that teams all teams will not only save money, they will also have parts offering the same premium levels of safety and performance.”

The move to a control brake package does not however mean that all cars will have identical brakes. Throughout the term of the agreement, Alcon will offer a choice of front and rear pads thereby ensuring that different driving styles can be accommodated.

The first discs and calipers required for the 2007 season are already being manufactured and the first deliveries will be made in the New Year.

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Whats with all the spam?

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 11, 2006

A Slashdot link this morning, explains a few things. A friend of mine, whose husband recently got a tad tiddly and went surfing, ended up turning their computer into a spam-bot. She is NOT impressed.

“…a Network World article about soaring spam levels, confirmed now by researchers, IT managers, and security vendors. So, indeed, it’s not just you: October was a spammy month.

From the article: “Levine’s assumption is this spike in spam levels is a result of a new generation of viruses and zombies that can infect PCs more quickly and are harder to get rid of. In its October report, messaging security vendor MessageLabs says the spike is largely due to two Trojan programs, Warezov and SpamThru.

Others say a new breed of spam messages called image spam — messages with text embedded in an image file that evade spam filters, which can’t recognize the words inside the image — is responsible.”

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WOOPS.Space shuttle delay Y2K all over!!

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 11, 2006

Touted as one of the worlds most advanced and complicated machines, and the computer cannot tell when the year starts! I mean WHAT!

Slashdot | Computer Date Glitch May Limit Next Shuttle Launch
Nasa Symbal

Monday November 06, @10:28PMNASA Technology writes “Reuters reports that the next Space Shuttle mission may have to be deferred if it gets too close to the New Year because the onboard computers do not handle the changing of the date in the same way as the ground computers. From the article: ‘”The shuttle computers were never envisioned to fly through a year-end changeover,” space shuttle program manager Wayne Hale told a briefing. The problem, according to Hale, is that the shuttle’s computers do not reset to day one, as ground-based systems that support shuttle navigation do. Instead, after December 31, the 365th day of the year, shuttle computers figure January 1 is just day 366.”

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The Hacker Profiling Project

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 11, 2006

Interesting story on Slashdot yesterday. The one thing I think is, umm, good luck. From what I understand they are prone to change methodology as soon as there is a whiff of getting blocked/cought or new tech comes into play!

“NewsForge is running a story about a project aiming to profile hackers like the police do with common criminals. Not based out of the U.S. per se, this project falls under the auspices of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).
Newsforge; What would the project concretely produce as final output?
Stefania Ducci: The final goal is a real and complete methodology for hacker profiling, released under GNU/FDL. This means that, at the end of our research project, if a company will send us its (as detailed as possible) logs related to an intrusion, we — exactly like in the TV show C.S.I. when evidence is found on the crime scene — will be able to provide a profile of the attacker. By ‘profile’ we mean, for example, his technical skills, his probable geographic location, an analysis of his modus operandi, and of a lot of other, small and big, traces left on the crime scene. This will also permit us to observe and, wherever possible, preview new attack trends, show rapid and drastic behavior changes, and, finally, provide a real picture of the world of hacking and its international scene.”

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Aggressive Botnet Activities Behind Spam Increase

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 11, 2006

Are we going to get MORE? There is now apparantly 4 times more than last year thanks to some Trojan Viruses! On Slashdot I found this

“A spam-sending Trojan dubbed ‘SpamThru’ is responsible for a vast amount of the recent botnet activity which has significantly increased spam levels to almost three out of every four emails. The developers of SpamThru employed numerous tactics to thwart detection and enhance outreach, such as releasing new strains of the Trojan at regular intervals in order to confuse traditional anti-virus signatures detection.”

The original was ineresting to

Australia, previously at the bottom of the list, saw the biggest increase in viruses to rank 12th in October, increasing by 0.4 percent to 1.2 percent (1 in 84.1) of email traffic.Spam: In October, the global ratio of spam in email traffic from new and unknown bad sources was 72.9 percent (1 in 1.37 emails), an increase of 8.5 percent on the previous month. This is the sharpest rise in spam levels since January 2006, when an increase of 9.2 percent was experienced.

[full report available at] http://www.messagelabs.com/Threat_Watch

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Reading the Terrorist Mind

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 10, 2006

I find this a very timely piece. With al the “war on terrorism, and associated hype, how do you get into their minds” The following excerpts are from The Frontal Cortex : Reading the Terrorist Mind . November 8, 2006 10:35 AM, by Jonah Lehrer

I’m skeptical of these sorts of psychological models – an important part of the terrorist strategy is to not have a coherent strategy – but it’s certainly a noble effort:

“Imagine that we had a mathematical formula that could be applied to Israel’s enemies to predict their course of action?

Prof. Alex Mintz of Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya claims to have created just that. Mintz has developed a formula to map how terrorist organizations make their decisions. His theory can be applied to any leader in the world, whether heads of state or terror masterminds. …”

“How does this formula work? It mimics the decision-making process of a terror organization, involving thousands of minute details. The process is twofold: first the leader rules out the options that his group cannot carry out, and then the organization maximizes “specific dimensions on the remaining alternatives.”

This is all plugged into his custom-designed computer program, which takes into account funds, weapons, opposition, elections and the most heavily weighed factor, politics. The algorithms do the rest.

What separates Mintz’s calculations from those of other experts in the field? In the world of game and decision theory there are two basic camps: the rational approach, with roots in economics, and the cognitive approach, which is rooted in psychology. Mintz’s theory is one of the first that “combines elements of both in an attempt to bridge the gap between the rational and cognitive in decision-making.”

It should also be noted that Mintz isn’t the first scientist interested in deciphering the inscrutable decisions of terrorists. I’ve got a short article on Neil Johnson in the next Seed, so I won’t describe his research in too much detail here. But Johnson has constructed a model of the terrorist mind using some techniques from the physics of complex systems. After analyzing the casualty counts and battlefield reports from several major conflicts (from Iraq to Indonesia to Columbia), Johnson realized that all the conflicts looked the same. The terrorists were all operating from an identical playbook. “In every war we looked at,” Johnson told me, “we saw the same basic patterns. On the one hand, there were lots of little clashes that had very few casualties. As you increase the number of casualties, the number of clashes is much fewer. But the really surprising thing is the way in which every war goes between these two extremes.” When Johnson graphed the relationship between the number of clashes and the number of casualties per clash, he discovered a striking consistency between totally unrelated wars. “The numbers fall perfectly on this straight line called a power-law function,” he says. “When you measure the slope of the line, you find that the number is right around 2.5. It doesn’t matter if it’s for Iraq, Columbia, Senegal or Indonesia. The line never changes.”

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