kpw writes: The National Labor Committee's recently released report on working conditions in the Meitai keyboard factory in China carefully details the illegal and inhumane working conditions that go into making products for companies like Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft and IBM. The products that Meitai builds include the very keyboard used to write this post. Take a moment to look through the photographs made over the last several months by the undercover investigators and see if you can spot your own keyboard on the assembly line. Then read through some of the statements from factory workers and, on their behalf, consider contacting the companies responsible for this travesty (contact information is provided at the bottom of the report).
ntesla writes: It appears that support for Lenovo products (e.g. ThinkPad laptops) has imploded in recent months. This once venerable product's reputation has been tarnished, at least in part, by outsourced support services managed by Solectron. Customers now routinely experience multi-week waits for machines to be returned from depot service. The Lenovo forums are littered with complaints from customers, including gems like this where after weeks of delays Lenovo had to intervene to take the machine back from the Solectron depot and have a Lenovo field-technician service it instead. In another case, a "database error" caused the service records on a machine to be switched such that the problem request and return shipping information was exchanged with another customer. Phone support reps are unable to address problems, or even track status, and customers are now seeking help on Lenovo forums by sending private messages to Lenovo staff — meanwhile it appears other Lenovo employees are anonymously postingmessages to clarify the distinction between Lenovo issues and problems with services outsourced to Solectron.
kpw10 writes: "Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have discovered that two drugs used to treat bone loss in old folks can both kill and short-circuit the 'sex life' of antibiotic-resistant bacteria blamed for nearly 100,000 hospital deaths across the country each year."
kpw10 writes: Dr. Jeff Masters from Wunderground has a great summary of this year's rather abnormal weather (his blog is the best source on the net for in-depth weather analysis). The post discusses some of the cyclical climate forces at work this year as well as compares this year's record temperatures to records from the past — there are some interesting differences particularly in the extent of northern hemisphere seeing record highs this year. From the article: "December's weather in the Northeast U.S. may have been a case of the weather dice coming up thirteen — weather not seen on the planet since before the Ice Age began, 118,000 years ago. The weather dice will start rolling an increasing number of thirteens in coming years, and an ice-free Arctic Ocean in summertime by 2040 is a very real possibility..."
kpw10 writes: The always interesting Jeff Masters from Wunderground posted a great summary on this year's rather peculiar winter weather. From the post, "The lack of snow across the entire Northern Hemisphere has been remarkable both in its areal coverage and depth, thanks to December temperatures 5-20 degrees F above normal. In the U.S., most of the eastern 2/3 of the country was snow free on Christmas. Granted, Colorado had a white Christmas and the mountains of Washington got slammed with snow this year, but places like northern Maine and Michigan's Upper Peninsula — which normally have over two feet of snow on the ground this time of year — were snow-free. Munising, Michigan had it's first brown Christmas since 1911, and Minneapolis, Minnesota — which normally receives over 18 inches of snow by this time of year — has had a paltry one inch of snow so far this winter." He goes on to report similar conditions for the rest of the northern hemisphere and discusses the implications of the recent/drastic changes in arctic ice coverage. For a counter-perspective Fox News provides us with an enlightened man-on-the-street explanation, "The Earth is recalibrating itself: Last year, we had a cold winter, and it's balancing itself out now".
kpw10 writes: The online access to US patent data has seen significant changes recently with the release of Google's patent search as well as the beta launch of the All Patents Initiative's search interface. For the first time these tools allow the public to search US patents issued since 1790. Current search tools offered by the USPTO only allow searching for patents issued after 1976, leaving some four million patents as digital orphans. In addition to allowing search access the All Patents Initiative, operated by a consortium of business and academic interests, intends to address the needs of bulk users of patent data. Currently those wishing to access data about the patent collection in its entirety for analytical purposes, such as examining trends in innovation, must purchase data either from the USPTO or other commercial providers — an unfortunate and surprisingly common problem with public datasets. In many respects these two search interfaces mirror the ideological differences already being fought between Google's book scanning project and the Internet Archive's Open Library. Each provides a new form of access to a vast but digitally inaccessible public domain dataset — one by effectively making it property of a corporation and the other by distributing digital ownership to the public. The question this begs: how best can we maintain open access to public data while expanding its value through digitization efforts like these?
kpw10 writes: The online access to US patent data has seen significant changes recently with the release of Google's patent search as well as the beta launch of the All Patents Initiative search interface. For the first time, these tools allow public search access to US patents issued since 1790 — current search tools offered by the USPTO only allow searching back to 1976. In addition to allowing search access the All Patent Initiative, operated by a consortium of business and academic interests, intends to address the needs of bulk users of patent data. Currently those wishing to access data about the patent collection in its entirety for analytical purposes, such as examining trends innovation, must either purchase data from the USPTO or other commercial providers — an unfortunately and surprisingly common problem with public datasets. In some respects these two system mirror the ideological differences between Google's book scanning project and the Internet Archive's Open Library. Each provides access to a vast public domain dataset — one by effectively making it property of a corporation and the other by distributing digital ownership to the public. Perhaps this is a trend?