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Comment A good Investigation Report (Score 3, Interesting) 403

Pitot tubes were invented in the 1700s by the French Engineer Henry Pitot and later modified for airspeed measurements. They are also used to measure aerodynamic speed in Formula racing cars too among other uses. Here is a comprehensive article following the crash investigation that is informative with photographs and the timeline of theories.

I read both the articles posted. They do not qualify as the best investigation reports. They seem to be building "What if" scenarios from all data that is available. Other A330 failures (no recent crashes reported) and Other places where ice in Pitot tubes led to failure (The Wikipedia article has a lot of information on this and planes which had problems notably, the X31.) The investigators are clearly under pressure to say what they have found and they are unable to report "nothing" to the press. With no luck in recovering the Black Box, the investigators (like they talk about Pilots not good at flying aircraft without the aid of in-flight safety systems) have to do it the old forensic way (reminds me of Crichton's Airframe). That is going to take time and the press, the Aircraft companies using A330s are impatient to know why.

Clearly no recent theory has come close to deducing the true reason for the crash. As I remember the first news item that appeared on the AF447 was that the plane "vanished" from Radar and was sought for by the Brazilian Air Force before the crash site was positively identified. The last exchanges between the Pilot and the Aircraft tower followed by an automated message from the aircraft remain the main clues apart from the debris in this horrific accident.
Medicine

Submission + - First Images of Memories Being Made (eurekalert.org)

TheSync writes: "Eurekalert reports that researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill and UCLA have captured the first image of protein translation that underlies long-term memory formation. A fluorescent protein showed the increased local protein synthesis during memory formation, which requires cooperation between the pre and post-synaptic compartments of the two neurons that meet at the synapse."

Comment The Constitutional Right to Privacy (Score 1) 836

There is no debate on the fact that this is an invasion of privacy. It seems to be a sort of test to keep tech savvy people (would that be everyone?) out of the hiring process. I am shocked at this. Here is an interesting note, the US constitution aside from the 9th amendment does not guarantee the right to privacy. The right to privacy is enforced by the interpretation of the First, Third and Fifth amendments and of the Ninth amendment itself. The Fourth Amendment contains an explicit interpretation of the right to privacy specific to computers. They are still open to interpretation. So the issue is just not about private passwords here, there's a lot more being brought up. In India, Article 21 of the Indian Constitution expressly guarantees the Right to Privacy. There is some confusion and no explicit mention in the constitution of Britain either. From the little reading I have done, the right to privacy (and therefore keeping my own passwords from the state) has been created through addendum and interpretation of prior articles of constitution rather than a specific article or amendment mentioned in the constitution. ---- IANAL
Google

Submission + - Microsoft: Google broke Windows search (pcpro.co.uk)

Barence writes: "Microsoft has accused Google of breaking Windows Desktop Search with its new Outlook plug-in for Google Apps. The plug-in disables Windows Desktop Search upon installation by removing a registry key. What's more, uninstalling the Google plug-in doesn't restore the registry key, leaving Windows and Outlook search facilities crippled. Google now admits its software disables the search facilities — as well as Adobe and PGP encryption plug-ins — and says it's updated Google Apps Sync so that it repairs the registry keys properly."

Comment GnuCash is the best, but Spreadsheets easier (Score 2, Interesting) 291

I personally have used GNUCash but have restricted it to Savings Accounts and for Bill pay. I am quite happy doing a balance sheet as a spreadsheet. I've found OpenOffice Calc to fall short of some features, GNUmeric fits in where Calc fails.

Looking back at MS Money, I think GNUCash has the features to take it head on. KMyMoney is so full of features [serious] that learning to get used to it just keeps you away. The UI though is quite sleek if you are a KDE fan. I've tried it sometime, but import/export options across open source formats has been in many cases lousy.KMyMoney2 changes the file format from KMyMoney, the earlier versions which also makes it less of an option.

Microsoft's Money (not among the options really) requires .Net and some web/aspx stuff to run that might make all the Windows Antivirus/Netprotect/whatever rules really difficult to maintain. It does have a sleek and less scary UI compared to its earlier versions.

Comment Role of Vaccines vs Anti-Flu Drugs (Score 3, Interesting) 147

Using the new In-Cell growing technique many companies seem to be coming up with vaccines in a shorter period than earlier. Medicinenet has an informative article on Flu Vaccines and immunization candidates, and goes on to say why they are required. This is a good read to understand why vaccination is being given importance here. The 1918 "Spanish" Flu epidemic Virus which is very similar to the recent outbreak was re-created in a laboratory in 2005 by Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger and colleagues at AFIP. Comparison with Avian flu strains led to the conclusion that Human Flu Virus strains are derived from Avian flu virii.

Among young people and children Flu vaccines claim to be 70%-90% effective, while this drops down to 30%-40% in people aged over 65 who may have other secondary complications. Hence the scale of vaccination required for the present outbreak (which has been repeatedly noted for not being as lethal as the 1918 Flu strain) may be entirely different covering only those in a risk category. More stress is on drugs that help in combating the Virus in an infected individual. These are usually amino-acid chain suppressors like Tamiflu. There has already been mobilization and distribution of the drugs to combat such an outbreak. The WHO has done a recent donation of drugs to Nigeria. This is however related to continued support of a H5N1 outbreak since 2006.

The role and importance of the Vaccines that would be available is not yet certain. It seems that the stress is more on treatment. Insofar stress on prevention without the involvement of Primary Medical care personnel. Only those who suspect infection have been requested to visit quarantine or medical facilities for treatment. The W.H.O's present stand with the Flu Virus has been a direct result of criticism during the second widespread Avian flu H5N1 attack incidents in 2006. Attention is being given to Avian Influenza as a pandemic because it leads to complications and secondaries making it difficult to fight other diseases with stronger morbidity. -- No Greater Friend, No Greater Enemy! (Lucius Cornelius Sulla)

Comment Flu Vaccines vs Anti-Viral Drugs (Score 1) 368

Using the new In-Cell growing technique many companies seem to be coming up with vaccines in a shorter period than earlier. Medicinenet has an informative article on Flu Vaccines and immunization candidates, and goes on to say why they are required. This is a good read to understand why vaccination is being given importance here. The 1918 "Spanish" Flu epidemic Virus which is very similar to the recent outbreak was re-engineered in a laboratory in 2005 by Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger and colleagues at AFIP. Comparison with Avian flu strains led to the conclusion that Human Flu Virus strains are derived from Avian flu virii.

Among young people and children Flu vaccines claim to be 70%-90% effective, while this drops down to 30%-40% in people aged over 65 who may have other secondary complications. Hence the scale of vaccination required for the present outbreak (which has been repeatedly noted for not being as lethal as the 1918 Flu strain) may be entirely different covering only those in a risk category. More stress is on drugs that help in combating the Virus in an infected individual. These are usually amino-acid chain suppressors like Tamiflu. There has already been mobilization and distribution of the drugs to combat such an outbreak. The WHO has done a recent donation of drugs to Nigeria.

The role and importance of the Vaccines that would be available is not yet certain. It seems that the stress is more on treatment. Insofar stress on prevention without the involvement of Primary Medical care personnel. Only those who suspect infection have been requested to visit quarantine or medical facilities for treatment. The WHO's present stand with the Flu Virus has been a direct result of criticism during the second widespread Avian flu H5N1 attack incidents in 2006.

Comment The Paid Editing Debate dates back to Jan-2007 (Score 1) 168

Here's a note about a man who claimed that he was being "paid" by Microsoft to edit Wikipedia articles. He also claimed to be a contributor for OOXML on Wikipedia. His contributions following this article were being dismissed as biased.

There are two parts to this issue. They are (1) "Should Wikipedia offer to pay those who edit articles?" and (2) "Should any Wikipedia contributor get paid for contributing articles?" On (1), Wikipedia's stance is clear, they are not willing to pay anyone to edit articles. They would like to continue with their open model with little or no moderation. On (2) they are merely talking about the quality of the resultant article. They seriously do not have a mechanism to stop a 3rd party Wikimedia contributor from contributing for money or for the sake of love of the subject or for personal bias.

IMHO, Wikipedia must avoid policing any and all editors unless they are on their own Payroll. Their open model has served as a simple mechanism to collect relevant information on a topic which may or may not necessarily be accurate. There have been enough debates that have concluded that Wikipedia cannot be quoted as a citation for serious scientific study due to lack of moderation and verification of sources.

Comment The Real Deal: Licensing for Schoolwork (Score 4, Interesting) 333

The specific case (covered heavily - check Techdirt for one) in question has actually brought in a much larger problem to light. How should students treat code written as part of assignments or as part of their course-work in terms of licensing? Is there a precedent for licensing? Most research activities conducted by universities have already adopted licensing framework. Here's an example. There has been debate whether such licensing should be free. Just check Medical Research and you can open Pandora's box. One more example is Singapore's A-Star which is more of a group focused on preparing research for industry adoption including licensing and legal usage terms.

How about code released in books on Data Structures, Algorithms, Fundamental C programming? To my knowledge (do correct me if I am wrong), the code is usually licensed under the same copyright notice as the book itself. In some cases, the author changes this licensing and makes it available. One example is "Numerical Recipes in C" where the licensing terms of the code from the author(s) of the book is explicit and can be found on a google search.

When it comes to university assignments, it is no news that the same template (if not the same course material itself) tends to get recirculated over a periodic basis. In some cases this period is annual and in others, the frequency is different. The debate raised is ages old. For most data structure or standard assignments of programming, you could find most of the code online. You could use this as a starting point or choose to write your own and learn your fundamentals. That's up to the student and the professor who is teaching and grading.

There is some truth in the statement (IMHO) that the Academia is shielded from the real commercial world. It works positive in some cases and is counterproductive in fields like Engineering (not Theoretical Computer Science.) In this specific case, if the University were to read all the fine print they have on students sharing course material (for which they pay for) and lecture notes and assignments, they would find the right solution. Bringing this (issue between a student and the professor) out to Open forums seems more of a publicity stunt that is going to get someone infamous for some and noticeable for a few others.

Focusing on the larger issue, a Varsity must be clear on how course-work and assignments from the students will be licensed and treated. They already have set legal precedents for most research work (which in some cases is funded by commercial bodies.) Hopefully this issue raises a flag and lets varsities understand and embrace Open Source, encourage students to use it particularly in programming assignments. At the very least they should at least reserve procedures to let a student obtain due permission for displaying his/her works online under appropriate licensing. In the absence of a precedent and clear guidelines, such confusion and unnecessary nerve wracking experiences between a Professor and a Student are more likely to surface. I hope not.
The Internet

Data Center Overload 88

theodp writes "The first rule of data centers is: don't talk about data centers. Still, the NY Times Magazine manages to take its readers on a nice backstage tour of internet data centers, convincing Microsoft and others to let them sneak a peek inside some of the mega-centers that make up today's cloud. And if it's been a while since you software types stepped inside a real-life computing facility, there's an accompanying data-center-porn slideshow that'll give you an idea where your e-mail, photos, videos, music, searches, and other online services that you take for granted these days come from." Reader coondoggie sends in a related story about a government plan to spend $50 million on improving data center technology.

Comment Consumer Friendly?! Why "Open Source" Tag? (Score 5, Informative) 319

I read through the article and a lot of blogs covering Riversimple. Here's what it looks like under the hood. It seems too early and preliminary for adoption. "Open Source" seems to have been employed purely as a buzzword to generate interest. Most of the detail is actually at the 40 Fires foundation website which will probably release design schematics. Their FAQ answers questions I had in mind and is a good place for a starting read. The codename for this car is Hybran. The EU welcomes Hydrogen cars as a strong "Green" alternative.

If you do compare it to other initiatives like OSCar, you would find this option from Riversimple probably at a better stage of adoption. But until they unveil their prototypes (16-Jun-2009 is not far) and manufacturing goals (however they intend to go about it,) consumers will be skeptical about adoption. They first have to hit a note on consumers _wanting_ it or _needing_ it before proposing an attractive business model. Most of the prior comments reflect that we are not yet ready. Design momentum on OSCar seems to have stalled in the year 2006.

In contrast another vehicle release earlier this year happened in India with a lot of buzz about a $2,500 car, the Nano from India. This car _can_ do more than 56 mpg on Gasoline. It isn't green, but you can grab one, drive one and feel much safer than the electric counterparts that roam about the cities. This car went through at least 2 yrs of testing because the average consumer was scared about safety. The adoption was further slowed down by slow manufacturing response from Tata Motors.

India has allowed an Electric car (REVA) to be used within City limits (for road safety and range concerns) manufactured by Reva. The vehicle (a modest 4 wheeler) which comes in multiple flavors has low adoption rates in cities which allow it. This car through evolution has been heavier than India's top selling gasoline small-car the Maruti Suzuki 800cc 4 seater, and offers lesser range within a city. It has a very short range of 80-100km and requires battery packs to be replaced every two years (or depending on usage.) From June, 2001 the adoption has been very slow. During July, 2008 at least 260 Reva's (multiple models) were sold which is a record high. The Reva is priced at a one time price tag of close to $6,500 with an installed set of batteries. These have to be replaced at about $1000 every year. There's some comprehensive information and links on the Wikipedia Article (Reva). The cost has been a factor in slowing down adoption added to the fact that electric charges are required almost on a nightly basis. India has welcomed the car with reduced parking charges and several cuts. The G-Whiz model sold outside India is far too pricey ($12000 in Chile) and does not enjoy these environment friendly regulatory benefits.

For crowded cities in India where pollution is a heavy problem, Electrical cars with limited range for office commuters who'd prefer some shade (where public transport is a little inconvenient with timings) has received early adoption. i would presume that countries facing rapid development and growth rates will have to take this more seriously. Scaling public transport infrastructure has always been a challenge in many developing countries owing to a myriad of reasons. The basis for creating indices to track air pollution is outlined quite well in this paper (PDF) from IOP.

As many earlier comments point out accurately, adoption of such alternatives will require regulatory laws from the government (Road taxation, Commercial tax holidays, Green Credits and a lot more.) The working business model for Leasing automobiles is already here. The period being talked about (20yrs) might need to be tweaked which is presumably because of high manufacturing and deployment costs on low initial volume.

There are some pitfalls of lightweight cars at an early stage. Their ride heights are incredibly low that restricts markets in which they can be adopted. It might even keep them out of developing countries until the designs are tested. IMHO coming up with a disruptive solution to personal transport and tagging it with another 20yr lease agreement without the support of an auto major who's made it over a decade selling small cars or energy efficient cars is asking too much from the consumer. The "Open Source" tag means too little unless auto manufacturers see this as the best way to go forward.
Education

Student Who Released Code From Assignments Accused of Cheating 333

Death Metal sends in a story about Kyle Brady, a computer science major at San Jose State University, who recently ran into trouble over publishing the source code to his programming assignments after their due dates. One of Brady's professors contacted him and threatened to fail him if he did not take down the code. Brady took the matter to the Computer Science Department Chair, who consulted with others and decided that releasing the code was not an ethical violation. Quoting Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing: "There's a lot of meat on the bones of this story. The most important lesson from it for me is that students want to produce meaningful output from their course-assignments, things that have intrinsic value apart from their usefulness for assessing their progress in the course. Profs — including me, at times — fall into the lazy trap of wanting to assign rotework that can be endlessly recycled as work for new students, a model that fails when the students treat their work as useful in and of itself and therefore worthy of making public for their peers and other interested parties who find them through search results, links, etc. But the convenience of profs must be secondary to the pedagogical value of the university experience — especially now, with universities ratcheting up their tuition fees and trying to justify an education that can put students into debt for the majority of their working lives."
Transportation

Open Source Car — 20 Year Lease, Free Fuel For Life 319

ruphus13 writes "The race for a hyper-fuel-efficient car is on in a big way. Now, Riversimple has tried to leverage the knowledge of the masses to bring its vision to reality soon with a car that gives the equivalent of 300 miles to the gallon. 'The idea to build an open source car isn't a new one, but you've got to give vehicle design company Riversimple credit for originality. The company plans to unveil its first car in London later this month, a small two-seater that weighs roughly 700 pounds. If you agree to lease one for 20 years (yes, 20), Riversimple will throw in the cost of fuel for the lifetime of the lease...The team decided to release the car's designs under an open source license in order to speed up the time it takes to develop the vehicle while also driving down the cost of its components.'"

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