Archive for August 13th, 2009
The U.S. Postal Service has just entered “The Twilight Zone.”
The classic show appears on one of 20 stamps released this week, featuring 1950s hit television shows.
The first-class stamps include images of “Dragnet,” “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Honeymooners,” “I Love Lucy,” “Lassie,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Ozzie and Harriet” and “Perry Mason.”
“All of the classic television shows represented on these stamps represent the collective memory of a generation well deserving of entertainment,” said James C. Miller III, a Postal Service board member. “It was a generation that survived the Great Depression and fought World War II. They were pioneers — creative geniuses — who brought television shows of the 1950s into our homes, breaking new ground to provide entertainment for everyone.”
The retro-style stamps, featuring black-and-white images of the shows, were designed by Carl Herrman, an artist from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Cripes. There isn’t one of them I didn’t watch regularly.
“We cook ‘em and squeeze ‘em.” That’s how LiveFuels CEO Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones describes her San Carlos, Calif.-based company’s process for turning algae-fed fish into oil for fuel using heat and high pressure. It’s a slightly more gruesome way of harvesting pond scum than the mechanical equipment employed by other startups working on algal fuels, but it might be cheaper.
According to a spokesperson for LiveFuels, which was founded in 2006 and announced the kickoff of pilot operations at a 45-acre open pond test facility in Brownsville, Tex., this week, “It’s still being determined just how much less expensive the LiveFuels natural systems process will be compared to traditional mechanical processes, but we do know that current mono-culture process for developing algae require over $1.00 worth of nutrients…just to grow the algae for one gallon of fuel.” That dollar-per-gallon, he said, doesn’t take into account the cost of energy needed to pump thousands of gallons of water in the production process for every gallon of fuel. LiveFuels aims to cut costs by using grazing minnow-sized fish and “a variety of other aquatic herbivores” to harvest algae fertilized by agricultural runoff, and let “ocean currents do its ‘pumping’ for it.” It then plans to make fish meal from the protein solids, and process the remaining oils into either high-value omega-3 oils or fuel.
This process is not without critics who have environmental and ethical objections to raising animals for fuel. LiveFuels also faces technical challenges, such as how to make the system efficient enough to make up for the likelihood that the fish will have to eat more algae than the company would have to harvest directly for the same amount of fuel, notes Greentech Media.
Some investors, however, think LiveFuels has a good shot at making the technology and economics work. The company raised $10 million in May 2007 from David Gelbaum’s quiet Quercus Trust. At the time, LiveFuels reportedly hoped to have its biofuel ready for launch by 2010. At this point, however, the company is still trying to bring down costs.
I like the idea insofar as it produces useful by-products. Not concerned for wee fish souls.
Ready to roll!
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Comcast has filed its appeal of an FCC decision issued last August that censured the cable company for blocking P2P files, arguing that the commission doesn’t have the authority to impose the broadband principles that define network neutrality in the U.S. absent a federal law or a full public hearing to make those principles binding as regulatory policy. Indeed, Comcast’s appeal will test the FCC’s ability to enforce network neutrality without either of those things.
Comcast’s intent to appeal the FCC’s ruling was announced last September, but initial briefs, which it filed July 27, are just now hitting the courts. Comcast initially got into trouble in October 2007, after an Associated Press investigation revealed the company was forging packets that would cause BitTorrent connections of some users to drop and failing to inform them of the practice — a serious net neutrality no-no.
After multiple hearings and the filing of more than 6,500 public comments, the FCC in August of 2008 gave Comcast a stern talking-to and ordered it to change its network management practice, but stopped short of issuing a fine. It also declined to make a formal rule regarding this sort of action, saying instead that it will continue to examine net neutrality issues on a case-by-case basis. So as per the FCC’s order, Comcast implemented a type of network management plan that temporarily slows connections for heavy bandwidth users when the network gets crowded. The management affects uploads and downloads and is protocol-agnostic.
A Comcast spokeswoman said today that regardless of the success of Comcast’s appeal, its network management procedures will stay the same.
In essence, Comcast says the FCC has no right to issue orders affecting throttling of consumers’ accounts. A direct contradiction to anything that pretends to Net Neutrality.
I guess we will get to see which side the “new” FCC will take in disputes like this. Though the wheels of government turn as slowly as ever.
Cripes! A Euro-mime.
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
The French and German economies both grew by 0.3% between April and June, bringing to an end year-long recessions in Europe’s largest economies.
Stronger exports and consumer spending, as well as government stimulus packages, contributed to the growth.
The data came as a surprise, with few analysts expecting Germany and France to start to recover so soon. But economic activity in the eurozone fell by 0.1%, showing the region as a whole is still in recession.
It was the fifth consecutive quarter of economic contraction in the eurozone, but was a marked improvement on the 2.5% drop recorded in the first three months of the year…
The UK government’s claims that it is a global recession maybe rings a little less true in terms of the mood music from each country over the last couple of days.
We’ve had the French finance minister hailing the figures as a sign of recovery and more optimistic noises from the US Federal Reserve.
Yet at the same time the governor of the Bank of England has said the recovery in the UK will be slow and protracted.
I’m not going to waste time on market responses. That’s still a day-to-day crapshoot. Even though I’ve been steadily making money since last November – my self-determined bottom for the market.
The several equities I’ve bought into since then average 46% growth. All I can whine about is a few of the chances I should have known about and overlooked.
Palm has responded to claims that its recently-launched Pre smartphone abuses owners’ privacy.
The company issued a statement after one owner discovered his phone was sending data every day back to Palm. The information included the current location of the phone and how long each application was used for.
In its statement, Palm said it took users’ privacy “seriously” and said it gave phone owners ways to turn features on and off.
The discovery was made by software developer and Pre owner Joey Hess, who found that his phone was reporting his location over a secure connection back to Palm. It also sent back information about application crashes – even those not seen by a Pre owner.
Also in the daily update sent to Palm was a list of the third party applications installed on the phone.
Palm issued a statement about Mr Hess’ discovery and said it “offers users ways to turn data collecting services on and off”.
Har! That’s a gotcha.
True, it’s the sort of discovery that keeps some geeks in perpetual orgasm – and makes the rest of us yawn. But, at least it keeps the corporate mavens on their toes.
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Almost exactly two years after it embarked on the biggest financial rescue in American history, the Federal Reserve has acknowledged that the economy was pulling out of its downward spiral and announced a step back toward normal policy.
Though the central bank stopped well short of declaring victory, policy makers issued their most optimistic assessment in more than a year by noting signs of stabilization in household spending, financial markets and inventory building by corporations…
The central bank cautioned, however, that the recovery would slow and that unemployment would probably remain high for the next year, and it reiterated that it would keep its benchmark short-term interest rate at virtually zero for an extended period.
But it also announced that it would wrap up its program to buy $300 billion worth of Treasury bonds by the end of October. The program was one of several tools invoked to drive down long-term interest rates and indirectly reduce the cost of home mortgages and corporate borrowing.
The move signaled that policy makers were confident enough to remove one of their emergency props for the financial markets. In its statement, the central bank acknowledged that conditions in both the stock market and the credit markets had improved in the last several months…
Despite growing confidence that the worst of the crisis is behind them, Fed officials made it clear they were still more worried about rising unemployment than a resurgence of inflation.
Too bad our beancounter politicians haven’t reached that sophisticated assessment. No doubt they will continue to whine like an atomic squadron of doomsday bees whenever something like Cash For Clunkers comes along and helps working folks.
In my working life I’ve been through a few of these going all the way back to that Great Administrator, Dwight David Eisenhower. Back in the day, we couldn’t get conservative Democrats and racist Republicans to unwind enough to approve things like an extension of unemployment benefits.
Life at the country club was too exciting for them to be concerned.
You’re sitting in an airport lounge and seize the chance to check your e-mails before your flight departs. You log on and are tempted by a wireless Internet provider offering free Internet access. So, do you take it?
Security experts warn that hackers may be masquerading as free public Wi-Fi providers to gain access to the laptops of unsuspecting travelers. All it takes, they say, is a computer program downloaded from the Internet, an open access point and a user who has ignored basic security advice.
“The difficulty for travelers is differentiating between a good Internet access hotspot and a rogue, or somebody trying to actually glean credentials from you. The issue is that you don’t necessarily know the difference between a good and a bad one,” computer security expert Sean Remnant told CNN.
In 2008, AirTight Networks dispatched a number of so-called “white hat” hackers to 27 airports around the world to test the vulnerability of their Wi-Fi systems. They found that 80 percent of the private Wi-Fi networks tested were open or poorly protected.
The wireless security company also found that basic services at several airports, including baggage handling systems, were vulnerable to hackers. Operators were using Wired Equivalent Privacy, known as WEP, which was found to provide inadequate protection to hackers as early as 2001…
The original survey conducted by AirTight Networks found the most common name for rogue Wi-Fi points was “Free Public Wi-Fi…”
And it’s not just happening at airports. The rapid spread of Wi-Fi networks to cafes, hotels and even entire cities is providing hackers with more opportunities to ply their trade.
I expect the number of unsophisticated, inexperienced folks getting their first computer – taking a netbook off to school – has to provide an unlimited open season for the crooked.