Shelter from the cold; well, sort of — Canadian ice-fishing huts

Photographer Richard Johnson has spent the past eight winters traveling through nine of Canada’s ten provinces taking photos of ice fishermen’s huts. The deserted shacks against the desolate background of Canada’s most remote territories creates a strikingly beautiful scene. “It is architecture at its most primitive level,” he says. “It’s shelter. It’s portable. It’s made by the owners of the hut. It’s not pretentious. It is a solution. Every single person needs heat.”

When asked why he enjoys photographing such simple structures he says, “For me, these are really portraits of the individual. But the individual is not present.”

Enjoy larger – and more – photos. From across the width of Canada.

Go to use the restroom in a WalMart – and it turns out to be a meth lab!

A restroom at a Wal-Mart in eastern Indiana has been closed indefinitely after an employee discovered a working meth lab inside.

State police say a Wal-Mart employee alerted police after seeing a man he described as suspicious enter the restroom about 11:30 p.m. Thursday with a backpack and leave without it. The Star Press reports that members of a state police meth suppression team removed the dangerous chemicals.

Delaware County Health Department inspectors closed the restroom and a nearby women’s restroom until they could be “decontaminated” by a professional cleaning company.

State police say people who make methamphetamine are leaving “the deadly explosive chemicals in public places to return later to get the finished product,” rather than risk explosions and contamination at their own homes.

What? Surely, you didn’t expect drug dealers to be thoughtful and urbane?

Oh, good. You found our missing military command post.

Wow – we could sell these to FEMA

The French army top-brass were left red-faced when after a mobile command post worth 600,000 euros complete with military computers, was stolen…

The modular command post system, which resembles a cargo container, was discovered during the search of a warehouse in Bobigny, northeast of Paris, that had been rented by a man suspected of fraud…

The army noticed the command post was missing from its Montlhery barracks south of Paris during an inventory on July 18. Investigators suspect someone inside the barracks of involvement with the theft as the command unit can only be moved by a flatbed truck.

The Le Parisien newspaper reported the command post was supposed to have been sent to the Ivory Coast, where former colonial ruler France has a large military presence supporting a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

A 46-year-old Ivorian national and another suspect have been arrested and another two other suspects are being investigated, the local magistrate said.

Heartwarming to learn that military services outside the United States have traditions comparable to Sergeant Bilko. And it’s just as easy to steal from the French Army as it is from Uncle Sugar.

A small, portable wireless base station for travelers

A technology startup backed by Google has unveiled the world’s first personal base station for international travelers, enabling them to cut roaming fees and make mobile calls like in a home country. Ubiquisys said the timing of devices reaching consumers depended on telecoms operators and it was in talks with several operators.

The telecom network base station, which is plugged into the travelers computer, is slightly larger than a smartphone, and needs an Internet connection…

The new device, called attocell, is designed for use with Apple’s iPhone, but it works also with Google’s Android phones, RIM’s Blackberry and Nokia’s smartphones.

Ubiquisys is one of the top firms in the new market for femtocells — small, low-power indoor base station for 3G mobile phone networks — enabling operators who struggle with network capacity to improve indoor coverage at a much lower cost…

The devices are plugged into a customer’s broadband Internet connection, like a wireless Internet base station, and allow users to make calls or use data services with their regular 3G mobile phones.

Phone service providers generally end up charging you their regular rates – even for home use. Home femtocells are especially useful for folks with mediocre service, insufficient tower coverage. This truly portable device seems like it should be a hit with business travelers.

In fact, there probably is a market for vacationers renting something like this to carry along on holiday.

Cold plasma demonstrates clean doom for bacteria

Researchers have demonstrated a prototype device that can rid hands, feet, or even underarms of bacteria, including the hospital superbug MRSA.

The device works by creating something called a plasma, which produces a cocktail of chemicals in air that kill bacteria but are harmless to skin. A related approach could see the use of plasmas to speed the healing of wounds…

Plasmas are known as the fourth state of matter, after solid, liquid, and gas. They are a soup of atoms that have had their electrons stripped off by, for example, a high voltage.

The new research focuses on so-called cold atmospheric plasmas.

Rather than turning a whole group of atoms into plasma, a more delicate approach strips the electrons off just a few, sending them flying…

The resulting plasma is harmful to bacteria, viruses, and fungi – the approach is already used to disinfect surgical tools…

Professor Gregor Morfill said that more testing of the devices is necessary before they end up in widespread use, but he said that there is already significant interest from industry.

RTFA. The systems have been miniaturized enough to be battery-operated and portable.

Cripes, I can see them supplanting underarm deodorant sticks someday.

Smart Police forces adopt smartphones

Most British police forces will be equipped with smartphones by March 2010, according the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).

30 forces around the UK have already supplied their officers with the phones said Gary Cairns of the NPIA.

Officers with smartphones spend 30 minutes less per shift in police stations, leaving them to spend more time for frontline duties, he added.

The phones enable officers to access databases, such as the Police National Computer, and receive briefings that would normally only be available from within stations…

Or if the patrolmen are vehicle-based, they can have access via laptops. Often the case in the US. Especially since we seemed to give up on foot patrols long ago.

Bedfordshire Police is one of the forces already using the technology. It says the phones cost £270 per year, per officer.

“Our officers were spending almost half their time, 46%, actually in police buildings,” Inspector Jim Hitch of Bedfordshire Police told the BBC News. Since the introduction of the phones he says the figure has fallen to 36%.

They are also able use the phones to send information back to base.

Inspector Hitch described how one officer was able to send a photograph of a foot-print of a suspect to headquarters where it was matched with one held on file.

He hopes that in the future GPS technology on the phones will enable officers to receive information relevant to the area they are in.

Build the right hardware and someone will design software to make it more useful.

Hello wearable kidney, goodbye dialysis machine

Of course, you never get past the TSA

Researchers are developing a Wearable Artificial Kidney for dialysis patients, reports an upcoming paper in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN). “Our vision of a technological breakthrough has materialized in the form of a Wearable Artificial Kidney, which provides continuous dialysis 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” comments Victor Gura, MD (David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA).

The device—essentially a miniaturized dialysis machine, worn as a belt—weighs about 10 pounds and is powered by two nine-volt batteries. Because patients don’t need to be hooked up to a full-size dialysis machine, they are free to walk, work, or sleep while undergoing continuous, gentle dialysis that more closely approximates normal kidney function.

Such a device could lead to a “paradigm change” in the treatment of dialysis patients. Despite enduring long hours on dialysis every week—with major limitations in activities, diet, and other areas of life—dialysis patients face high rates of hospitalization and death. The U.S. dialysis population currently exceeds 400,000, with costs of over $30 billion per year…

The Wearable Artificial Kidney is successful in preliminary tests, including two studies in dialysis patients. The new study provides important information on the technical details that made these promising results possible.

“However, the long-term effect of this technology on the well-being of dialysis patients must be demonstrated in much-needed clinical trials,” adds Gura. “Although successful, this is but one additional step on a long road still ahead of us to bring about a much-needed change in the lives of this population.”

Still, this can and will be a giant step for a lot of humanity. And as our population becomes more and more an elderly population – the need for devices like this will increase.

Exiting workers taking more than their pet sanseveria with them

As layoffs continue apace, a survey shows what many companies fear–exiting workers are taking a lot more with them than just their personal plants and paperweights.

Of about 950 people who said they had lost or left their jobs during the last 12 months, nearly 60 percent admitted to taking confidential company information with them, including customer contact lists and other data that could potentially end up in the hands of a competitor for the employee’s next job stint.

“I don’t think these people see themselves as being thieves or as stealing,” said Larry Ponemon, founder of the Ponemon Institute, which conducted the online survey last month. “They feel they have a right to the information because they created it or it is useful to them and not useful to the employer…”

The survey also found that many companies seem to be lax in protecting against data theft during layoffs. Eighty-two percent of the respondents said their employers did not perform an audit or review of documents before the employee headed out the door and 24 percent said they still had access to the corporate network after leaving the building.

Har! Confirms what most IT geeks already know. Most of what is labeled “hacking” in the press is someone using info that walked out the door.