Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ambush kills 12 Pakistan troops

Taliban militants have ambushed a Pakistani military convoy and killed 12 soldiers, the army says.

The attack happened in North Waziristan , near the Afghan border, when militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at several vehicles.

A fire-fight then broke out in which 10 militants were killed, the military said.

The attack came as Pakistani troops prepared to launch an operation against militants in the region.

They want to eliminate the Pakistani Taliban network led by Baitullah Mehsud, whose stronghold is in South Waziristan .

The US has already put a bounty of $5m (£3m) on his head and on Sunday the Pakistani authorities offered an additional $615,000 for his capture.

The convoy was attacked in the Gharlamai region near Wachabibi village, some 45km (25 miles) west of the region's main town of Miranshah .

Twelve soldiers were killed and 10 others were injured, the military statement said.

"An exchange of fire between security forces and terrorists continued for some time. Ten terrorists were killed," it said.

The military has been fighting militants in the Swat valley, to the north, for two months - an operation that has triggered militant attacks on both the military and towns and cities elsewhere.

source : bbc.news

Friday, June 26, 2009


Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard has unveiled a prototype of the solar-powered plane he hopes eventually to fly around the world.

The vehicle, spanning 61m but weighing just 1,500kg, will undergo trials to prove it can fly through the night.

Dr Piccard, who made history in 1999 by circling the globe non-stop in a balloon, says he wants to demonstrate the potential of renewable energies.

The final version of the plane will try first to cross the Atlantic in 2012. Although the vehicle is expected to be capable of flying non-stop around the globe, Dr Piccard will in fact make five long hops, sharing flying duties with project partner Andre Borschberg.

"The aeroplane could do it theoretically non-stop - but not the pilot," said Dr Piccard. "We should fly at roughly 25 knots and that would make it between 20 and 25 days to go around the world, which is too much for a pilot who has to steer the plane.

"In a balloon you can sleep, because it stays in the air even if you sleep. We believe the maximum for one pilot is five days." The public unveiling on Friday of the HB-SIA took place at Dubendorf airfield near Z├╝rich.

"The real success for Solar Impulse would be to have enough millions of people following the project, being enthusiastic about it, and saying 'if they managed to do it around the world with renewable energies and energy savings, then we should be able to do it in our daily life'."


source : bbc.news.com

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Baghdad market bomb kills scores



Nearly 70 people have been killed by a bomb blast in the eastern Sadr City area of Baghdad , Iraqi officials say.

Police said the device went off in a market place in the predominantly Shia area of the Iraqi capital. More than 130 people were also reported to have been injured in the blast, one of the worst in Iraq this year. It comes less than a week before US soldiers pull out of all Iraqi cities, a move the US said would not be affected by a recent surge in violence.

'Horrific'

An interior ministry official told the AFP news agency the blast struck the market place at about 1930 (1630 GMT). The official said the bomb was hidden underneath a motorised cart carrying vegetables for sale. "I heard a boom and saw a ball of fire," said Najim Ali, a 30-year-old father who was injured in the blast. "I saw cars flying in the air because of the force of the explosion," he was quoted as saying by AFP. Raad Latif, a local shop owner, said the scene after the blast was "horrific". He said people ran to help the injured after hearing the explosion but were initially kept back as security forces tried to get emergency vehicles to the scene.

"After a while they came to their senses and allowed us to help as much as we could. The scene was horrific," he told Reuters.Another witness told the Associated Press news agency he heard a sound like "unbelievable thunder" and was knocked to the ground by "a hurricane". Market stalls were set on fire and an official told AP that people standing 600m away were hit by shrapnel.

source : bbc.news.com



'Dozens dead' in US drone strike


I have collect you some information regarding “At least 45 people have died in a missile strike by a US drone aircraft in a Taliban stronghold area of Pakistan , officials there have said.” From the source bbc.news.com

The people killed in South Waziristan had been attending a funeral for others killed in a US drone strike earlier. Intelligence officials said at least 45 people had been killed and dozens more injured in the later strike, when two missiles were fired. But a local official told BBC News the death toll was more than 50. The region is a stronghold of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

Earlier on Tuesday, tribal leader Qari Zainuddin, who often criticised Mehsud, was shot dead by a gunman in north-western Pakistan . Earlier this month, Zainuddin criticised Mehsud after an attack on a mosque, which killed 33 people. The Pakistani army is preparing to launch an offensive against Taliban fighters under Mehsud's command, who are blamed for a number of deadly attacks.

But Zainuddin's killing is being seen as a setback for the government in its efforts to isolate Mehsud ahead of the security forces' next phase of their anti-Taliban offensive in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan , says the BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Islamabad .

Source : bbc.news.com

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tribal leader killed in Pakistan


A tribal leader who opposed the head of the Taliban in Pakistan has been shot dead in the north-western Pakistani town of Dera Ismail Khan , police said.

Qari Zainuddin, 26, who often criticised Taliban head Baitullah Mehsud, was killed by a gunman in his office early on Tuesday. Separately, reports say six people have been killed in a missile strike by a US drone aircraft in South Waziristan . They say at least one missile struck a known stronghold of Baitullah Mehsud. Mehsud's group is blamed for a number of deadly attacks in Pakistan. Earlier this month, Zainuddin hit out at Mehsud for recent attacks in which civilians have been killed.

The fresh violence comes as the Pakistani army is preparing to launch a new offensive against Taliban fighters under Mehsud's command. An aide of Zainuddin who was also wounded in the attack that killed the tribal leader said a guard entered the room at Zainuddin's office after morning prayers and opened fire. "It was definitely Baitullah's man who infiltrated our ranks, and he has done his job," Baz Mohammad told the Associated Press news agency. Zainuddin was taken to the hospital where doctors pronounced him dead.

'Not a jihad'

Earlier this month, Zainuddin criticised Mehsud after an attack on a mosque which killed 33 people. He told Associated Press: "Whatever Baitullah Mehsud and his associates are doing in the name of Islam is not a jihad, and in fact it is rioting and terrorism". "Islam stands for peace, not for terrorism," he had said. Zainuddin's killing is being seen in Pakistan as a setback for the government in its efforts to isolate Mehsud as the security forces prepare for the next phase of their anti-Taliban offensive in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan , says the BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Islamabad .

Earlier this month a prominent Muslim cleric who was outspoken in his opposition to the Taliban was killed in a suicide blast at his seminary in Lahore. Correspondents say Mehsud is thought to head the most powerful group of militants in the country, with a network of alliances with other militants. His stronghold in South Waziristan , bordering Afghanistan , is an area considered by many to be the hide-out of Osama Bin Laden.

source : bbc.news.com

Monday, June 22, 2009

Obama 'prepared' for N Korea test



President Barack Obama says the US is fully prepared for a possible missile test by North Korea over the Pacific.

His comments, in an interview with CBS television, come in response to reports that Pyongyang was considering launching a missile towards Hawaii .

Last month the North conducted an underground nuclear test - its second-ever - and test-fired a number of short-range missiles.

The United Nations Security Council extended sanctions in response.

"This administration - and our military - is fully prepared for any contingencies," Mr. Obama said in an interview to be aired by CBS on Monday.

Asked if Washington was warning of a military response, Mr. Obama said no.

He added: "I don't want to speculate on hypothetical. But I do want to give assurances to the American people that the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted."

North Korea 's nuclear ambitions have long been the focus of international concern.

China and Russia - the country's traditional allies - approved the new sanctions earlier this month, and called for North Korea to return to international talks on its nuclear programmer.


Source : news.bbc.co.uk

Thursday, June 18, 2009

DNA tests prove man is not Stephen Damman - Missing boy

DNA tests by the FBI have crushed the hopes of an American man convinced he was a toddler kidnapped in New York, US in 1955.

Michigan man John Barnes believed the tests could prove he was Stephen Damman, a 2 -year-old boy snatched outside a bakery on Long Island when left alone briefly by his mother 54 years ago.

Pamela Damman Horne was 7 months old when she was kidnapped along with her brother outside the shop on October 31, 1955.

Mrs Horne was soon found not far from the shop but her brother was never seen again.

The FBI announced on its website that tests comparing the DNA samples of Mrs Horne and Mr Barnes showed they didn't share the same mother.



Mr Barnes had told media that he never felt like he belonged in the family who he grew up with and while searching for his possible roots came across media reports of the Damman kidnapping.

He believed the missing toddler's mother Marilyn Damman bore an uncanny resemblance to himself as did photos of the child.

Mr Barnes and Mrs Horne became close and had believed they may be siblings.

But Richard Barnes, who raised John, had denied kidnapping his son, who he insisted was his own flesh and blood.

In Iowa, Stephen's father, Jerry Damman, was reportedly disappointed by the DNA test results.

"It's too bad we had to go through all of this for actually nothing in the end," he was reported as saying.

"I guess we don't know any more than we did. It's been very hard to bring this all up after all those years. It's been hard."

Mr Barnes said he was born the same year Stephen disappeared but that he had only seen his birth certificate once.

Photos of the missing toddler's mother on the internet led him to believe he could be Stephen. Mr Barnes said pictures of the missing boy's mother when she was a young adult resembled what he looked like at the same age, so he started looking into the case.

Mr Barnes did bear a striking resemblance to a photo of the missing toddler: He had the same chubby cheeks, the same round face and bright, blue eyes. And there was a faint line on his chin, close to the scar the missing toddler was said to have.

But his father, Richard Barnes, immediately dismissed the speculation as "a bunch of foolishness," and said John Barnes was born in a Navy hospital in Pensacola, Florida,US on August 18, 1955.

Cheryl Barnes, John Barnes' sister, said she was not surprised by the test results. Mending fences, she said, won't be easy. "He pretty much lost 2 families today," she said.

"We knew that was going to be the outcome. ... My dad feels the same way. Neither of us had a doubt. My dad knows who his son is. I'm angry at my brother for putting everyone through this, turning everybody's lives upside down."

No one answered the door at John Barnes' home. A message seeking comment was also left for a lawyer representing the toddler's sister in Lee's Summit, Missouri.

Dwight Damman, a son from Jerry Damman's 2nd marriage who would be the missing toddler's half brother, said he always had been skeptical of Barnes' story.

"We did not hold out a lot of hope that it was true, "Dwight Damman said. "After the pictures came out it kinda made you think, but with DNA you've to wait for the results."


source: http://www.theage.com.au/national/missing-boy-dna-tests-prove-man-is-not-stephen-damman-20090619-cmtz.html

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Survey finds mixed bag of solar-power knowledge among many Americans

When it comes to their knowledge about solar power, many Americans are both exuberant in their desire to see solar more quickly become a larger part of the country's energy portfolio and ignorant of just how much sun-based electricity is being generated by their utilities. A slim majority would pay more on their monthly energy bills if their utility ramped up the percentage of its power provided by renewables, but a significant minority would not. Many think the U.S. leads the world in solar, and most believe that the optimal, most efficient way to deploy solar power is on private homes.

Those are some of the findings in the relatively modest "Summer Solstice" thought leadership survey of the U.S. public's "understanding and opinions about solar energy," designed and analyzed by Ketchum Global Research Network and carried out by Braun Research on behalf of Applied Materials.

Why relatively modest? Because only 2000 people - including 1000 in 5 populous states (California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Colorado)—were contacted when the poll was fielded earlier this month. Although the survey has a ±3% margin of error for the base sample at a 95% confidence level (pretty good by statistical standards), the results do not exactly offer the most comprehensive snapshot of the average Americans' take on solar energy. (Paragraph revised from original)

For that to happen, the number of those surveyed would have to grow into the tens of thousands. Demographic details of those participating in the survey (level of education, age, political/religious affiliations, etc.) would also be interesting to factor in, as well as the public's knowledge of "solar basics," such as the difference between photovoltaic and thermal (both heating and concentrating) technologies and whether the installation of a residential rooftop PV system is synonymous with going off the grid. (Paragraph revised from original)

Still, the results of the AMAT/Ketchum effort are revealing.

Other findings show that most of those surveyed (56%)—especially respondents in California (63%) and Colorado (71%, perhaps thanks to the presence of NREL?)—know that solar panel technology has advanced over the past two decades. A whopping 78% of respondents (95% in California) think that now, compared to 10 years ago, we "have the technological know-how for solar energy to become a really important part of our nation’s energy needs."

Another huge number of those surveyed, 81%, strongly agree that solar should play "a greater role in meeting our energy needs in the next 2 to 5 years." However, a slim plurality—41% to 38% (with 21% stating "don’t know") believe that most of the country’s renewable energy comes from solar sources (it doesn’t…yet)—and a fifth of respondents think the States already gets 20% or more of its power from old Sol.

Some 65% overall answered "true" when presented with the statement "solar energy is the most readily available of all the renewable energy sources." This question seems problematic, since it could be interepreted as meaning either the most readily available in terms of actual installed solar power capacity or that the question actually refers to the raw material—the solar energy from the sun itself—and its relative abundance (duh).

Another loaded question had to do with which kind of solar installation is the best. When asked if the "most efficient way to collect solar power is to install panels on individuals' homes," 56% responded "true," with most states' replies trending even higher, including California at 73% and New York at 65%.

In Applied Materials' press release announcing the survey results, the none-too-subtle suggestion is that the public is ill-informed and that utility-scale solar farms—no doubt equipped with gazillions of the company’s SunFab turnkey customers’ big-glass thin-film PV panels—are the most efficient deployment of solar. The "1.6% solution" is even trotted out—that is, that if the U.S. covered 1.6% of its land area with solar panels, it would suffice to meet its entire energy needs.

While scale and the economies thereof can be good things, there's also some pretty compelling arguments that the solar solution needs to combine large-, medium-, and small-scale PV and thermal, on and off the grid, centralized and distributed or a combo of the two, and that the smartening up of the grid and build-out/renovation of the power transmission infrastructure must accompany the gigawatt/terawatt solar revolution that many envision.

The jury's still out on whether the longer-term answer lies mostly in massive solar installations-even if Applied would like that to happen so a major component of its PV business strategy pays off. Nevertheless, the general message of solar being cost competitive with carbon-producing fuels at peak periods in a growing number of areas—both inside the U.S. and around the planet—gets more compelling every day.

Still, as the results of the survey show, the solar industry has its work cut out to get its messaging across to the American people.

But let us bask in the moment. "The summer solstice [June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere] is a good time to celebrate the unique power of the sun," quips one of Applied's resident solar PV rockstars, Charlie Gay, in the press release.

Funny thing is, the winter solstice offers cause for celebration too. Although the hours of good sunlight in the colder months and more northern climes may be few, crystalline-silicon panels perform quite well on crisp, clear, blue-sky days too.


source: http://www.pv-tech.org/chip_shots/_a/exuberance_and_ignorance_new_survey_finds_mixed_bag_of_solar_power_knowledg/

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

BOKU company launches Mobile Payments service


The mobile payments space just got a little bigger with the emergence of BOKU, a new company that combines Paymo and Mobillcash into one. Plus, the company has $11 million in new venture funding with which to launch its mobile payments service.

It is just one of the players in what is estimated to be an $8 billion market that involves consumers buying virtual goods and games with their phones. In contrast to content like ringtones, the digital goods are, more or less, for online entertainment rather than strictly residing on the phone. And if the U.S. adoption gets anywhere near that of places like South Korea, they’re in for a successful run. The big question is: Do U.S. consumers want to add more fees to their monthly phone bills?

Those in the U.S. mobile payments space say the time is right, even during or perhaps especially because of the economic crisis. With tighter credit, consumers are looking for responsible ways to buy goods and keep a budget. And payment suppliers say U.S. carriers are increasingly ready to adopt mobile payments as they look for new revenue streams.

DIFFERENT STROKES
The mobile payments market where companies like BOKU and rivals like BilltoMobile are playing isn't exactly the same as other types of mobile payments, like that envisioned for near-field communications (NFC). Nor is it mobile banking. Rather, the idea is for people to pay for digital goods, like accessories for an avatar or an online game, and get billed via their monthly mobile phone bill. The amounts are designed to be low enough so that consumers don’t get sticker shock when they get their bill.

For its part, BOKU wants to create a new standard for mobile transactions by bringing bank-grade mobile payments to the Web, according to Ron Hirson, vice president of product marketing. Key to its success is a global presence, he says. BOKU is live in 53 countries on more than 190 carriers, including all major U.S. carriers. “No one comes close to us in terms of country coverage,” he says. “Publishers come to us because they have customers worldwide.”

The company raised $11 million in venture funding led by Benchmark Capital, with participation from Khosla Ventures and Index Ventures, and is unveiling its management team, which includes executives who have had experience at companies like AT&T Interactive, PayPal, O2, FICO, Apple, Google, Bank of America and eBay.

The merger and financing will help the company enable global consumer adoption and accelerate global carrier coverage, executives say. A cross-carrier mobile payments system is necessary to get support from merchants willing to make goods and services available over mobile devices.

BOKU’s U.S. partners include Hi5, Puzzle Pirates, Aeria Games and “hundreds” of apps on Facebook and MySpace. “We are tapping markets where people are not able to pay at all – someone without a credit card or bank account, so it is tapping a new market,” Hirson says.

MULTIPLE PLAYERS
While the combination of Paymo and Mobillcash as BOKU is just coming out of stealth mode, another U.S.-based entity is lying low. BilltoMobile, based in San Jose, Calif., is the U.S. entity using a payment service established by Danal in South Korea, where Danal has been racking up experience in mobile payments since 2000.

In South Korea, up to 70% of all online digital content is purchased using direct mobile billing, and two-thirds of all mobile phone subscribers actively use the service. (South Korea is said to have the 2nd-highest credit-card penetration, so mobile payments are not replacing credit cards.)

Danal builds and operates the payment gateway between merchants and mobile carriers, and it expects it'll catch on in the U.S. U.S. company executives are mum about their exact plans, but The Korea Herald reported earlier this month that Danal – a strategic investor in BilltoMobile – sealed a contract with a U.S. mobile carrier to provide a mobile phone-based payment service. Danal in Korea did not disclose the name of the carrier, indicating only that it was a major company with a nationwide network and significant customer base.

Park Sung-chan, CEO of Danal Co., told the Korea Herald that the United States is “finally opening to us” after 3 years of trying to establish a presence.

A different type of payment system using a mobile phone is Obopay’s model, which allows participants to send money to someone else’s phone. In May, Obopay announced the Obopay Family Account, which lets parents send money to their children or any family member from any mobile phone. Parents get an Obopay Family Prepaid Mastercard issued by The Bancorp Bank for any child at least 13 years old, and it can be used in person, online or by phone with any merchant that accepts MasterCard debit cards. Parents can add money to an account using Obopay’s mobile application, text message, mobile Web or Obopay.com.

“This isn't … some technology down the line,” says Michael Diamond, Obopay’s senior vice president of product development. “This is for anybody with a mobile phone. You don’t need an iPhone – any phone that does text messaging.”

Today, the kinds of services offered by BOKU and BilltoMobile do not involve physical goods, like clothing, although that’s the next logical extension sometime down the line. For now, Hirson says, “we have got a lot of wood to chop.”


source: http://www.wirelessweek.com/News-BOKU-Ups-Ante-Mobile-Payments-061609.aspx

Monday, June 15, 2009

IBM Expands Cloud Computing Appliances and Services

In 2000, the Linux OS was a hot technology, but it had not spread much beyond scientists, researchers and computer programmers. Then I.B.M. declared that it would back Linux with investment, research and marketing, and the technology moved swiftly into the corporate mainstream.

The same thing happened with the PC in the early 1980s, when I.B.M. endorsed that upstart technology and entered the market.

Starting this week, I.B.M. is returning to the same playbook, introducing some initial products, services and a roadmap for its stable of corporate and government customers to comfortably embrace cloud computing.

Cloud computing - in which vast stores of information and processing resources can be tapped from afar, over the Internet, using a PC's, cellphone or other device — holds great promise in the corporate market. The cloud model, analysts say, has the potential to cut the costs, complexity and headaches of technology for companies and government agencies.

Already, Amazon.com, Salesforce.com and Google, among others, offer cloud-based Web services to companies, including e-mail, computer storage and customer management software. But many big companies and government agencies have been reluctant to get on board because of traditional corporate-computing concerns like the security of data, regulatory compliance and reliability of service.

"I.B.M. knows how to do all of those things," said Frank Gens, chief analyst for IDC, a technology research firm. "Its strategy is all about making cloud computing safe for enterprise customers."

Even if I.B.M. succeeds in its bid to make cloud computing more palatable for big corporations, there is no guarantee that it'll be the main beneficiary of the trend. After I.B.M. helped create the PC industry, lower-cost competitors ended up dominating the business.

In the cloud market, I.B.M. plans to take a tailored approach. The hardware and software in its cloud offerings will be meant for specific computing chores. Just as Google runs a computing cloud optimized for Internet search, I.B.M. will make bespoke clouds for computing workloads in business.

Its early cloud entries, to be announced on Monday, follow that model. One set of offerings is focused on streamlining the technology used by corporate software developers and testers, which can consume 30% or more of a company’s technology resources.

The second set is virtual desktop services, in which personal computer software, either from Microsoft or open-source alternatives, is run on remote servers and piped to simple desktop machines equipped with screens and keyboards. I.B.M. found in tests with clients that such virtual PCs, with little desktop processing or storage, can use 70% less power than conventional PCs and reduce technical support costs by up to 40%,.

Both the software development and desktop services are being offered as an integrated bundle of hardware and software for a cloud running inside a corporate or government data center, or as a cloud service hosted in an I.B.M. data center.

Other offerings are planned, I.B.M. executives said, including clouds fine-tuned for data storage, and clouds for business analytics, which is software that analyzes data for patterns of customer behavior, market trends and other potentially valuable information.

I.B.M. calls its approach of fine-tuning hardware and software for specific jobs "hybrid computing." And it'll open a Hybrid Computing Research lab later this year, inviting industry and university scientists to work cooperatively on new application-specific designs intended to improve performance by 100 to 1,000 times compared with today's systems.

The fresh look at computer design is being prompted by the surge in Internet data, from social networking to smartphone applications to sensors monitoring food shipments and electrical use. By 2011, IDC estimates, there will be one trillion Internet-connected devices, up from 500 million in 2006.

"This huge explosion of data is driving a movement to design systems around workloads because it is the only way to deliver the computation needed, and it’s far more energy-efficient," said Kunle Olukotun, a computer scientist at Stanford.

I.B.M. had an initiative, begun in early 2008, called Blue Cloud, which mainly involved adapting its server computers for cloud technology. Most major technology suppliers have cloud-related hardware and software products, including Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and Dell. But I.B.M., analysts say, is going further by offering simplified, integrated stacks of hardware and software, as well as cloud services.

I.B.M.’s cloud strategy, the company said, is the culmination of 100 prototype projects with companies and government agencies over the last year, and its research partnership with Google.

“The information technology infrastructure is under stress already, and the data flood is just accelerating,” said Samuel J. Palmisano, I.B.M.’s chief executive. “We have decided that how you solve that starts by organizing technology around the workload.”

One of I.B.M.’s test beds for cloud computing has been the Interior Department’s National Business Center, a service center that handles payroll, human relations, financial reporting, contracting services and other computing tasks for dozens of federal agencies. The center runs two large data centers, one in Northern Virginia and another outside Denver.

Douglas J. Bourgeois, the center’s director, said he is introducing several cloud-style applications over the next nine months including Web-based training, and staffing and recruitment software. And in tests with financial and procurement software, the cloud-computing environment has delivered efficiencies of 40 to 60% in productivity and power consumption, he said.

"For us, like other data centers, the volume of data continues to explode," Mr. Bourgeois said. "We want to solve some of those problems with cloud computing, so we don’t have to build another $20 million data center."

source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/15/technology/business-computing/15blue.html

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Adobe systems Acrobat.com Collaboration Services Emerge From Beta

Adobe Systems on Monday will move its Acrobat.com Web-based productivity and collaboration services out of beta and offer for-fee subscriptions to provide what the company hopes will be a new way for business users to collaborate on document creation.

The company also will introduce a spreadsheet service called Acrobat Tables, which goes into preview release on Monday, said Erik Larson, director of marketing and product management for Acrobat.com. Other services already available are a word processing application called Buzzword; a Web meeting application, Adobe Connect Now; and Presentations, an application akin to Microsoft's Office PowerPoint for building presentations.

Web-based services that compete with packaged software like Microsoft Office and IBM Lotus are becoming more prevalent; Google and others also have offerings in this market. Adobe, based on its history in the document-creation and management market, has a strong position to rival Office among business users, at whom Acrobat.com is aimed.

Adobe is offering two subscription levels for Acrobat.com - Premium Basic and Premium Plus. Both are available as either a monthly or annual subscription, Larson said.

The basic level is US$14.99 a month or $149 a year and includes conversion to PDF for 10 documents a month, as well as the ability to hold Web meetings with up to five participants. The plus level costs $39 a month or $399 a year, and offers unlimited PDF conversions and Web meetings for up to 20 participants. Adobe offers telephone and Web support for both subscription levels, Larson said. A special introductory promotion that lasts until July 16 will give customers $15 off the annual plan and $50 off the plus plan, he added.

Adobe also will still offer a free basic version of Acrobat.com services in addition to the subscriptions.

Acrobat.com isn't just aimed at giving business users an alternative to packaged software like Microsoft Office, but in the long run Adobe wants it to help people collaborate on documents in a new way, Larson said. The services in Acrobat.com allow multiple people to work on and edit documents simultaneously with continuous updating so the documents are always current, and give people a view into who's working on what parts of the document when and an ability to communicate with each other from within the application, he said.

The end result provides people with a more efficient and generally more enjoyable way to collaborate on document creation and generation, Larson said, allowing people to cut down on the number of meetings or e-mails creating a business document requires.

"It can be irritating to work with people in general, and technology makes it worse - it can be too technological," he said. Adobe hopes Acrobat.com will provide simple, easy-to-use tools for collaboration so people will actually enjoy working together when using them, Larson said.

Daniel Alegria, a senior art director with interactive agency Genex in Culver City, California, said Adobe's direction with Acrobat.com, if achieved, would be useful for his company, which has used Acrobat.com to collaborate on internal documents.

"We want to view and manipulate information and have it shared across a team and have them share it as we are working toward the project's goal," he said.

Alegria said the idea of using an online application versus a client-side one for collaboration is attractive because "if your computer crashes, your documents don't go with it," he said.

However, Alegria said that it would be helpful if Adobe extended its services beyond managing and allowing people to collaborate on individual documents to providing management and collaboration capabilities for sets of documents for particular projects that span different applications.

"That would be very appealing to us," he said.

source: http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/166659/adobes_acrobatcom_collaboration_services_emerge_from_beta.html

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mosquitoes take over Suffolk City

SUFFOLK. - April showers bring May flowers. But in some parts of Hampton Roads, all that rain has also brought out the sting of Mosquitoes. The pesky little critters have particularly made their presence known in Suffolk city.

Heavy rains have left standing water behind. And that, coupled with the warm temperatures mean perfect breeding conditions for mosquitos.

Suffolk resident Kim Holland says she can not grill out or sit on her front porch in the evening without getting attacked by marauding mosquitoes.

"It is like the cousins, the nieces, the aunts, the grandma, the grandaddy, nephews. You see one there. You see one here. You see them in groups. They are in like colonies. They come out all together," she said.

Small wonder with standing water in ditches along her street and a discarded tire with water inside at the end of the block. All perfect breeding grounds for the pesky insects when the weather's warm. Treatment to scale back the mosquito onslaught is already underway with other city crews across Hampton Roads.

Penelope Smelser, Biologist with the Norfolk Health Department says, "When you've heavy rainfall you are going to have Mosquitoes laying eggs. All that's going to start up and you will have a bigger population of mosquitoes."

Smelser says it is about to get worse in a couple of weeks. Recent sampling helps her identify the types of mosquitoes under a microscope and their stages of development. She offers a few tips.

Smelser suggests you "eliminate standing water around [your] yard." She says, "look in every crack and crevice, behind sheds, under decks, places you might not look. If you've standing water you can not tip over, do your best to treat it with things you get from the hardware store, like mosquito dunks."

The product was handed out to Kim Holland who signed up for it at Suffolk City Hall. The mosquito dunks are also available at fire stations throughout the Suffolk city.

Ethel Dirtion plans to get the briquets, but for now is using insect spray.

"I keep plenty of it. I spray it all the time. I'm hoping it works. It gets 'em I tell you. I spray 'em it knocks them out," Dirtion laughed.

She says she also keeps a fly swatter handy too.

If you would like a Mosquito Briquet, you may pick one up at the following locations:

* Fire Station 1: 400 Market Street
* Fire Station 3: 1001 Whitemarsh Road
* Fire Station 4: 837 Lake Kilby Road
* Fire Station 5: 3901 Bridge Road
* Fire Station 7: 6666 O'Kelly Road
* Fire Station 8: 6235 Whaleyville Boulevard
* Fire Station 9: 300 Kings Highway
* Fire Station 10: 4869 Bennetts Pasture Road

source: http://www.wavy.com/dpp/news/local_wavy_suffolk_mosquitos_take_over_20090514

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Microsoft will soon unveil free antivirus software for PCs

BOSTON (Reuters)- Microsoft Corp is getting ready to unveil a long-anticipated free antivirus service for PCs that will compete with products sold by Symantec Corp & McAfee Inc.

A Microsoft spokesman said on Wednesday that the world's biggest software maker is testing an early version of the product with its own employees. Microsoft would "soon" make a trial version, or product beta, available via its website, he added, but declined to provide a specific date.

Symantec shares fell 1.6% in afternoon trading and McAfee fell 1.8%, while Microsoft was up 1.1%. The Nasdaq composite index was down 1.2%.

Investors are closely monitoring the free service, code named Morro after Brazil's Morro de Sao Paolo beach, amid concern it could hurt sales of products from Symantec and McAfee, which generate billions of dollars of revenue a year protecting Windows PCs from attacks by hackers.

"It iss a long term competitive threat," said Daniel Ives, an analyst with FBR Capital Markets, though he added that the near term impact was minimal.

Microsoft has said that Morro will offer basic features for fighting a wide range of viruses, which would likely make it comparable to low end consumer products from Symantec and McAfee that cost about $40 per year.

Their top-selling products are security suites that come with features including encryption, firewalls, password protection, parental controls and data backup.

Three years ago, Microsoft entered that market with Live OneCare, which turned out to be a commercial flop. It announced plans in November to kill that product suite, saying it would launch the free Morro service by the end of 2009.

Analysts said they are looking forward to examining Morro's beta to see exactly how its features compare to those in products from competitors.

Microsoft has said it'll provide protection from several types of malicious software including viruses, rootkits, spyware and trojans.

Officials with McAfee and Symantec have said they do not see Morro as a threat.

Joris Evers, a spokesman for No. 2 security software maker McAfee, said his company is already enjoying strong growth despite competition from free antivirus products that are on the market.

"On a level playing field, we are confident in our ability to compete with anyone who might enter the marketplace," he said.

A spokesman for Symantec, the biggest security software maker, could not be reached for comment. Trend Micro Inc, the No. 3 player, declined comment.

source: http://www2.canada.com/topics/technology/news/gizmos/story.html?id=a810da67-0023-4ade-b074-680eb277fecb

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Google Apps Outlook sync in front of Exchange-using IT

Google Apps is a set of tools that allows companies to move many IT services, such as e-mail and calendaring, to Google's online cloud resources. A new tool will allow those that rely on Outlook to easily migrate from an Exchange server to Google Apps with virtually no change from the end users' perspective.

Called Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, it allows "simple, two-click" migration of data from Exchange or Outlook into Google Apps. Then, instead of using Web versions of Gmail, Google Contacts, or Google Calendar, users can continue to use Microsoft's Outlook client to connect to those services. When not at work, users can still access e-mail, calendar, and contacts via Google's online interface.

"You get the cost savings, security and reliability of Google Apps," according to Google's product page, "while employees can use the interface they prefer for email, contacts and calendar." It can even allow users to create meetings and invite contacts whether they are using Google Apps or Exchange.

Google insists the tool isn't an admission that business users aren't interested in adopting Google Apps for some or all of their IT needs. By way of example, the search giant points to semiconductor firm Avago, which migrated to Google Apps in order to save $1.6 million a year in IT costs. The company gave its 4,100 users the option to move to Google Apps from its Exchange server, but about 12 percent simply chose the path of least resistance and continued to use the familiar Outlook.

"We look at [Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook] as a way to provide choice for users who like to do things the old, Outlook way," Google product manager Chris Vander Way told Reuters.

Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook is available to those using the Premier or Education editions of Google Apps. It is not available to the free "standard" edition, which relies on display ads to pay for the service.

source: http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2009/06/google-dangles-outlook-sync-in-front-of-exchange-using-it.ars

Monday, June 08, 2009

Microsoft Gives Windows 7 Box Art

Microsoft gives PC users something to gaze at

As Microsoft continues its marketing push for the Windows 7 operating system, the company is systematically releasing details and information about its latest Windows OS.

After announcing a public release date of October 22 this year, the official box art for each Windows 7 version has been released. The image offers details on Ultimate, Professional, and Home Premium versions of the OS.

The October 22 release date will ensure Microsoft will have the OS available for the 2009 holiday shopping season -- the OS can be sold OEM, or be bundled on PCs and notebooks sold by B&M retailers -- though the Redmond-based company will miss out on back-to-school sales.

There were numerous unconfirmed images of the Windows 7 box art floating around the internet for weeks, but images first revealed by CentrumXP proved to be accurate when they were later added to the official Microsoft Windows 7 OS page.

Microsoft continues to launch a PR campaign aimed at helping PC users forget about Windows Vista -- considered a flop among many reviewers and PC users -- so they can be better prepared for Windows 7. The company is expected to announce pricing information and other details regarding its highly-anticipated OS in the coming weeks.

Even though Windows 7 has gotten a lot of media attention, it'll see light competition from Apple's Snow Leopard OS and Google Android OS this fall -- despite the pressure, Windows 7 should quickly shoot to the top of sales charts.

source: http://www.dailytech.com/Microsoft+Releases+Windows+7+Box+Art/article15349c.htm

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Analysis of Palm Pre parts and Charger


In addition to its gecko-like grip, the latest Palm Pre touchstone super power is the ability to squeeze $5 worth of components into a $70 price tag.

We kid the Pre, honestly, because as other sites have already noted today, many electronics companies have been taking bargain bin components, adding a slick coat of paint, and charging a premium for some time now.

Still, $5 worth of commodity plastic and transistors marked up to $70? Surely there is some other latent super power slumbering within the plastic confines of this phone charger that will awaken with a flash someday? Right?

Resource: http://gizmodo.com/5282223/the-70-palm-pre-touchstone-5-for-the-parts-65-is-for-the-privilege

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Milwaukee official reports first swine flu death

Milwaukee officials say an adult in the city is the first in Wisconsin to die from H1N1 or swine flu.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Air France crash jet's black boxes may never be recovered from Atlantic Ocean

Accident investigation chief 'not optimistic' as Brazilian navy divers head for site of wreckage

French officials said today there were no signs of problems with Air France Flight 447 before takeoff and it was unclear whether the chief pilot was at the controls when the plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean.

The head of France's accident investigation agency, Paul-Louis Arslanian, also said he was "not optimistic" that rescuers would recover the plane's black boxes miles underwater.

Pilots on long-haul flights often take turns at the controls to remain alert. Asked whether the chief pilot was in the cockpit when the plane went down, Arslanian told a news conference in France that there was no information either way.

"We don't even know the exact time of the accident," he said.

But Arslanian said there was no indication of problems with the plane before it left Rio de Janeiro on Sunday night en route to Paris.

At the search scene Brazilian navy divers rushed to reach the wreckage and start retrieving debris from the Atlantic.

Four navy ships with recovery equipment and a tanker were heading to a three mile (5km) strip of water strewn with plane seats, an orange buoy, wiring, metal pieces and jet fuel stains about 745 miles north-east of the coastal city of Recife.

As the navy battled rough weather, officials warned of the difficulty in finding the flight data and voice recorders – the black boxes – that hold clues to why the plane crashed during a severe storm in the middle of the night.

Officials said the recorders needed to identify the causes of the mysterious crash could be on the ocean floor at a depth of 6,600 to 9,800 feet (2,000 to 3,000 metres).

The recorders are designed to send homing signals for up to 30 days when they hit water.

One expert said it could be among the hardest recoveries since the decades-long search to find the Titanic.

"If you think how long it took to find the Titanic and that the debris would be smaller, you are looking for a needle in haystack," said Derek Clarke, joint managing director of Aberdeen-based Divex, which designs and builds military and commercial diving equipment.

However, the Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said he was confident that the black boxes – two separate devices containing cockpit voice recordings and instrument data – offer the best chance of finding out why the Airbus jetliner vanished. .

"I think a country that can find oil 6,000 metres under the ocean can find a plane 2,000 metres down," he told reporters yesterday in Guatemala, referring to recent oil finds by Brazil's state energy company in ultra-deep waters.

Officials from the US National Transportation Safety Board and from Eurocontrol say that investigators have many ways to begin investigating the accident even before they recover any wreckage or the black boxes.

"Investigators will have to do a forensic analysis, by piecing together all available information as best they can," said Jim Hall, a former chairman of the NTSB.

They will review the maintenance records of the aircraft, interview the crews who flew the plane in the last few weeks and go to the locations where recent maintenance was done to interview mechanics.

They will also study the personal histories of the crew members and reconstruct what they did in the last 36 hours before the crash.

"In other words, they'll be compiling as much background information as they can to compensate for the lack of other data," Hall said.

source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/03/air-france-crash-black-box

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Suicide bombing at Iran mosque killed 30


A bomb at a Shia mosque in south-east Iran killed 30 people and Injured 60, the ILNA news agency reported.

The suspected suicide bomb exploded at the Ali Ebne-Abitaleb mosque as people gathered for evening prayers in the predominantly Sunni city of Zahedan. No person or group has claimed responsibility.

Zahedan is the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province, which shares a border with Pakistan. The province faces serious security problems and there are frequent clashes between police and drug dealers and bandits.

Shortly after the explosion, security forces discovered and defused a 2nd bomb near the mosque, the semi-official FARS news agency reported.

The attack was carried out on a public holiday for Shia Muslims.

Iran is preparing for a presidential election on June 12, in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is seeking a 2nd term and faces three challengers.

A bomb attack in Zahedan in February 2007 which killed 18 people Revolutionary Guards was claimed by Jundallah, an insurgent group that says it is fighting for the rights of Iran's Sunni Muslim minority.

The presidents of Iran, Pakistan & Afghanistan met in the capital Tehran for their 1st summit on Sunday, in an effort to improve cooperation in fighting terrorism and drug trafficking and tackling other regional security problems.

Pakistan & Afghanistan are battling to stem the spread of Taliban insurgencies in their countries, and Iran & Pakistan want a stable Afghanistan because the drugs trade has had a dire effect on Iran and past Afghan violence sent millions of refugees across the border.


source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/5403362/Suicide-bombing-at-Iran-mosque-leaves-30-dead.html

Monday, June 01, 2009

Bing search redesigned by MSN search

BingSEATTLE -- Microsoft Corp. is rolling out a redesigned search site in the coming days and hopes it will lure more Web surfers than the two most recent incarnations, Live Search and MSN Search.

The new site, Bing, adds touches intended to make everyday Web searching a little less haphazard. Bing also tries to make it easier for people to buy things, book travel and find credible health information.

History has not been kind to even the best search innovators. Many companies, including Amazon.com Inc. and IAC/InterActiveCorp., and startups like Hakia, ChaCha and Cuil have tried to improve on the basic "10 blue links" format of search results, but Google Inc. has remained unstoppable.

Microsoft's last effort, Live Search, failed to catch on partly because the software maker didn't do much to promote it. Marketing is no guarantee of success _ IAC heavily advertised makeovers of Ask.com _ but this time, Microsoft appears to be taking no chances. Ad Age reported Microsoft plans to spend as much as $100 million on advertising Bing.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft has been stuck in third place behind Google and Yahoo Inc. for years. Its share of U.S. search queries was 8.2 percent in April, according to the research group comScore Inc. Google was used for 64.2 percent of queries, and Yahoo's share totaled 20.4 percent.

The numbers are important. Google's healthy profits are tied to its search dominance, because companies will pay more to reach a wider audience when they place ads alongside search results. Microsoft, by contrast, posted a quarterly loss in its online advertising business.

"We want to do better," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Thursday at The Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif.

"There are times in our history where we've felt a little bit like Rocky," he continued, referring to the fictional underdog boxer. "It takes persistence in this stuff. You don't always get things right."

When asked why Microsoft chose "Bing," he said, "The name is short, it's easy to say, it works globally."

To mount a credible challenge to Google, Microsoft tried taking over Yahoo last year. But after Yahoo rebuffed its $47.5 billion offer, Microsoft turned its attention to improving its own Live Search.

Ballmer reiterated Thursday that Microsoft is still interested in a search partnership with Yahoo, and not an outright acquisition, but he didn't disclose any new details.

Some of Bing's features showed up on a Microsoft blog in March, when the new site was known as "Kumo." The most obvious difference is a bar of links running down the left-hand side of Bing search results pages. Some searches _ especially ones for celebrities or travel destinations _ yield links to help narrow results into categories. For pro athletes, it might offer links for statistics and highlights. For Thailand, categories include weather and real estate.

Bing also lists related search terms on the left, not at the bottom of the page like Google does. It keeps track of recent searches and gives people a way to e-mail links from that search history or post them on Facebook.

For some types of queries, Microsoft is positioning Bing as a destination rather than a quick gateway to other sites. For airfare searches, Bing produces results from Farecast, a travel-comparison startup Microsoft acquired last year.

Shopping with Bing can yield an Amazon.com-like experience, with ways to narrow results by price, brand and the availability of free shipping, without leaving the search page.

Bing also tries to guide searchers to trustworthy medical information. Type in "chicken pox" or "tendinitis," and the first result is a Mayo Clinic article. (Google's top result for chicken pox comes from kidshealth.org; for tendinitis, it shows a Wikipedia link.)

Forrester analyst Shar VanBoskirk said Bing won't bite into Google's search share because the Google habit is too hard to break. But people who have been using Yahoo as a secondary "information portal" may switch to Bing, she said.

"Yahoo won't have anything to make it stand out in comparison to either of the two other experiences," she said.

To keep up with its rivals, Yahoo has been tweaking its search results as well, to include different types of information depending on the query. For instance, it would show photos in response to searches for landmarks or dossier-style listings for people.

Prabhakar Raghavan, head of Yahoo's search strategy, said he was "completely baffled" by the claim that Bing "provides something we don't provide."

"It could be that people are reacting to the form and presentation, which is different, as opposed to the substance and information."

Microsoft isn't banking on beating Google, said Mike Nichols, a general manager in the search group. But Microsoft does want to transform its also-ran search image.

"We want to capture a unique position in consumers' minds. They need to know why is it that they should use this product," Nichols said in an interview.

Matt Rosoff, an analyst for the research group Directions on Microsoft, praised the new features and said an extensive ad campaign gives Microsoft a chance to increase its share.

But "I have to wonder," he said, "whether users are really crying out for a new search engine."

source http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/28/AR2009052801752_2.html