Search This Blog

Monday, December 31, 2007

Record Number of Data Breaches in 2007 After TJX Credit-Card Theft

A sign outside the TJX Cos. headquarters is seen in Framingham, Mass. The company, owner of discount stores including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, in March acknowledged that information from at least 45.7 million credit and debit cards was stolen over an 18-month period.

Record Data Breaches in 2007, Groups Say

A sign outside the TJX Cos. headquarters is seen in Framingham, Mass., in this file photo taken Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007. TJX Cos., owner of discount stores including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, in March acknowledged that information from at least 45.7 million credit and debit cards was stolen over an 18-month period. The breach is believed to have started when hackers intercepted wireless transfers of customer information at two Marshalls stores in Miami _ an entry point that led the hackers to eventually break into TJX's central databases.

The loss or theft of personal data such as credit card and Social Security numbers soared to unprecedented levels in 2007, and the trend isn't expected to turn around anytime soon as hackers stay a step ahead of security and laptops disappear with sensitive information.

And while companies, government agencies, schools and other institutions are spending more to protect ever-increasing volumes of data with more sophisticated firewalls and encryption, the investment often is too little too late.

"More of them are experiencing data breaches, and they're responding to them in a reactive way, rather than proactively looking at the company's security and seeing where the holes might be," said Linda Foley, who founded the San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center after becoming an identity theft victim herself.

Foley's group lists more than 79 million records reported compromised in the United States through Dec. 18. That's a nearly fourfold increase from the nearly 20 million records reported in all of 2006.

Another group,, estimates more than 162 million records compromised through Dec. 21 both in the U.S. and overseas, unlike the other group's U.S.-only list. Attrition reported 49 million last year.

"It's just the nature of business, that moving forward, more companies are going to have more records, so there will be more records compromised each year," said Attrition's Brian Martin. "I imagine the total records compromised will steadily climb."

But the biggest difference between the groups' record-loss counts is's estimate that 94 million records were exposed in a theft of credit card data at TJX Cos., the owner of discount stores including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. The TJX breach accounts for more than half the total records reported lost this year on both groups' lists.

The Identity Theft Resource Center counts about 46 million the number of records TJX acknowledged in March were potentially compromised. Attrition's figure is based on estimates from Visa and MasterCard officials who were deposed in a lawsuit banks filed against TJX.
The loss or theft of personal data such as credit card and Social Security numbers soared to unprecedented levels in 2007, and the trend isn't expected to turn around anytime soon as hackers stay a step ahead of security and laptops disappear with sensitive information.

And while companies, government agencies, schools and other institutions are spending more to protect ever-increasing volumes of data with more sophisticated firewalls and encryption, the investment often is too little too late.

"More of them are experiencing data breaches, and they’re responding to them in a reactive way, rather than proactively looking at the company's security and seeing where the holes might be,'' said Linda Foley, who founded the San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center after becoming an identity theft victim herself.

Most Americans Turn to the Internet to Solve Problems

24hoursnews– People who have faced one of several common government-related problems in the past two years are more likely to consult the internet than other sources, including experts and family members.

In a national phone survey, respondents were asked whether they had encountered 10 possible problems in the previous two years, all of which had a potential connection to the government or government-provided information. Those who had dealt with the problems were asked where they went for help and the internet topped the list:
58% of those who had recently experienced one of those problems said they used the internet (at home, work, a public library or some other place) to get help.
53% said they turned to professionals such as doctors, lawyers or financial experts.
45% said they sought out friends and family members for advice and help.
36% said they consulted newspapers and magazines.
34% said they directly contacted a government office or agency.
16% said they consulted television and radio.
13% said they went to the public library.
The survey results challenge the assumption that libraries are losing relevance in the internet age. Libraries drew visits by more than half of Americans (53%) in the past year for all kinds of purposes, not just the problems mentioned in this survey. And it was the young adults in tech-loving Generation Y (age 18-30) who led the pack. Compared to their elders, Gen Y members were the most likely to use libraries for problem-solving information and in general patronage for any purpose.

Furthermore, it is young adults who are the most likely to say they will use libraries in the future when they encounter problems: 40% of Gen Y said they would do that, compared with 20% of those above age 30 who say they would go to a library.

“These findings turn our thinking about libraries upside down. Librarians have been asked whether the internet makes libraries less relevant. It has not. Internet use seems to create an information hunger and it is information-savvy young people who are the most likely to visit libraries,” noted Leigh Estabrook, Dean and Professor Emerita at the University of Illinois, co-author of a report on the results.

She added that internet users were much more likely to patronize libraries than non-users (61% vs. 28%).

This report, “Information searches that solve problems”, is the fruit of a partnership of the University of Illinois –Urbana-Champaign and the Pew Internet & American Life Project. It was funded with a grant from the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, an agency that is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The survey was conducted between June 27 to September 4, 2007, among a sample of 2,796 adults, 18 and older. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

The focus of the survey was how Americans address common problems that might be linked to government. The problems covered in the survey:
dealing with a serious illness or health concern;
making a decision about school enrollment, financing school, or upgrading work skills;
dealing with a tax matter;
changing a job or starting a business;
getting information about Medicare, Medicaid, or food stamps;
getting information about Social Security or military benefits;
getting information about voter registration or a government policy;
seeking helping on a local government matter such as a traffic problem or schools;
becoming involved in a legal matter; and
becoming a citizen or helping another person with an immigration matter.
There was some variance in the results, depending on the type of problem that people confronted. For instance, those who dealt with a health problem turned to experts more than any other source, followed by family and friends, and then the internet. And those who had issues related to big government programs such as Social Security or Medicare were most likely to go directly to government agencies for help, then the internet.

Most people were successful in getting information to help them address a problem no matter what channel they chose and no matter what problem they faced.
65% of those who approached the government for help said they were very successful.
64% of those who went to the public library were very successful.
63% of those who used the internet were very successful.
61% of those who consulted professionals and experts were very successful.
Among the sources consulted, the internet was the source that was most often cited as the one that provided a lot of the information people were seeking.

“It is important to stress, though, that even as our data show the internet is ascending, we also find that large numbers of people do not use the internet and this low-access population prefers getting information and assistance from sources other than the internet,” noted Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, and one of the study’s authors. “Those without broadband connections at home or at work have very different needs and search strategies from those who have woven the internet into their lives.”

A major focus of this survey was on those with no access to the internet (23% of the population) and those with only dial-up access (13% of the population). This “low-access” population is poorer, older, and less well-educated than the cohort with broadband access at home or at work. They are less likely to visit government offices or libraries under any circumstances. And they are more likely to rely on television and radio for help than are high-access users.

Another important concern in this research was to see how the rise of the internet might affect the way government officials and librarians could work to meet citizens’ needs.

“The big message in this survey is that those who want to help citizens – whether they sit in government offices, libraries, non-profit organizations, or politically-active groups – live in a much more complicated environment now than they did a decade ago,” said Evans Witt, CEO of Princeton Survey Research Associates International, the firm that conducted the survey and one of the report’s authors. “They must serve citizen needs that run the spectrum from high-tech digerati who want everything served to them online to grandparents in rural areas who want the government to mail them key documents that are printed on real paper with real ink."

Generation Y biggest user of U.S. libraries - survey.
More than half of Americans visited a library in the past year with many of them drawn in by the computers rather than the books, according to a survey released on Sunday.

Of the 53 percent of U.S. adults who said they visited a library in 2007, the biggest users were young adults aged 18 to 30 in the tech-loving group known as Generation Y, the survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project said.

"These findings turn our thinking about libraries upside down," said Leigh Estabrook, a professor emerita at the University of Illinois and co-author of a report on the survey results.

"Internet use seems to create an information hunger and it is information-savvy young people who are most likely to visit libraries," she said.

Internet users were more than twice as likely to patronize libraries as non-Internet users, according to the survey.

More than two-thirds of library visitors in all age groups said they used computers while at the library.

Sixty-five percent of them looked up information on the Internet while 62 percent used computers to check into the library's resources.

Public libraries now offer virtual homework help, special gaming software programs, and some librarians even have created characters in the Second Life virtual world, Estabrook said. Libraries also remain a community hub or gathering place in many neighborhoods, she said.
The survey showed 62 percent of Generation Y respondents said they visited a public library in the past year, with a steady decline in usage according to age. Some 57 percent of adults aged 43 to 52 said they visited a library in 2007, followed by 46 percent of adults aged 53 to 61; 42 percent of adults aged 62 to 71; and just 32 percent of adults over 72.

"We were surprised by these findings, particularly in relation to Generation Y," said Lee Rainie, co-author of the study and director of the Pew project. In 1996 a survey by the Benton Foundation found young adults saw libraries becoming less relevant in the future.

"Scroll forward 10 years and their younger brothers and sisters are now the most avid library users," Rainie said.

The survey of 2,796 Americans was conducted by telephone from late June through early September and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. It was funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, an agency that offers federal support for U.S. libraries and museums.

(Reporting by Julie Vorman; Editing by Bill Trott)

((; +1 202 898 8467; Reuters Messaging: Keywords: INTERNET/LIBRARIES

(C) Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution ofReuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expresslyprohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuterssphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group ofcompanies around the world.nN28498644

Wii is the champion

Nintendo can't make 'em fast enough, but that hasn't kept rivals Microsoft and Sony from playing catch-up
Looks like the Nintendo Wii wasn't just a fad, after all.

Of course, that's just our opinion. Nintendo's rivals, Sony and Microsoft, may try to argue that the popularity of the Wii really is still just a fleeting craze - one that has spanned more than a year and has bridged two holiday selling seasons.

Whatever you want to call it, here's the truth: In an industry in which the "next big thing" seems to come around every few weeks, the Wii continues to be the biggest story in the video game world, despite being released more than 13 months ago. Nintendo simply can't produce enough of them, and, in a repeat of last year, Wii-hungry shoppers are again lining up outside stores in the middle of the night or overpaying on eBay and Craigslist just to get their hands on one.

But that hasn't stopped Microsoft and Sony from trying to keep up. After endless criticism of the cost of its PlayStation 3 (which came in models priced at $500 and $600), Sony dropped the price of its top-tier model by $100 over the summer, then last month introduced a version for $400 - which is still $150 more than the Wii. Further plaguing the PlayStation 3 is its lack of must-have titles - likely a key reason the system has sold under 3 million units in North America, compared with more than 6 million Wiis, according to analyst and company figures.

While Microsoft's Xbox 360 has chugged along, it hasn't been without its share of problems. The biggest: the so-called "red ring of death," the term given to Xbox 360 units that suffer total failure. (The front of each unit has four quarter-circle lights that form a ring; if three of them turn red, it means your Xbox 360 is dead.) Acknowledging the frequency of failed Xbox 360s, Microsoft in July extended the warranty of its game system to three years, a move that could cost the company more than $1 billion.

Even the launch of the company's biggest game of the year, Halo 3 - which took in some $170 million in sales the first 24 hours of its September release - didn't go off without one major snafu: In some versions of the game, the disc was improperly packaged, leaving it to slide around inside the casing, causing scratches. Microsoft agreed to replace scratched discs free until the end of the year.

All three companies have made strides in their online operations, but it's here where the Wii is weakest, offering mainly a back catalog of older games as paid downloads. Sony, through its PlayStation Network, and Microsoft, via its Xbox Live, have had stronger showings, particularly in downloadable content, from free demos of anticipated games to, say, extra songs - priced at a few bucks a pop - for the games Guitar Hero 3 or Rock Band. It's all evidence that the three companies have placed a higher importance on online integration. Hey, at least they agree on something.

Top 10 Video Games

1. ROCK BAND (Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3). We happened to have about a dozen friends and family members over to our house the same night Rock Band arrived. Within minutes of setting up the microphone, guitars and drum kit, we were rockin' out as if we'd been playing for hours. Then, we played for hours. It's simply the most fun I've had with any game all year.

2.BIOSHOCK (Xbox 360). Easily the most original game in recent memory, BioShock earns a place on this list as one of the few titles this year that exceeded expectations. Not only did it introduce a new take on the first-person shooter, but it engaged players with a moody, haunting portrayal of a retro-futuristic undersea dystopia of genetic experimentation gone wrong. Months after finishing the game, I haven't stopped thinking about it.

3.THE ORANGE BOX (Xbox 360, PS3 and PCs) - This one makes this list for value alone. Included on the disc are five games: Half-Life 2, its two expansion episodes, plus the puzzle-solving Portal and online multiplayer Team Fortress 2. However, it's Portal that had me captivated, with its physics-bending puzzles that you'll just have to experience on your own to fully appreciate.

4. GOD OF WAR II (PS2). It says a lot that the best game I've played so far on my PS3 is one I also could have played on my 7-year-old PS2. Little was changed from the original God of War to its sequel, which was a good thing. Let's just hope they remember that for God of War III.

5.SUPER MARIO GALAXY (Nintendo Wii) - Nintendo took the decades-old Mario and made him feel new again. By launching the portly plumber into space, Nintendo opened up dozens of new, imaginative worlds for Mario while mixing in just the right amount of wiggling and wagging its Wii has become known for.

6.HALO 3 (Xbox 360) - They don't come much bigger than Halo 3. They also don't come with much more hype. As one of the year's biggest releases for nothing, it gets points for still being a benchmark among first- person shooters. However, it's the third in the series - still good, if not groundbreakingly so.

7.MASS EFFECT (Xbox 360) - If there's one area in which I hope Mass Effect has a mass effect, it's video-game dialogue. By changing the way players choose which lines their characters say, BioWare, the game's developer, eliminatied halting pauses in dialogue, making conversations between game characters appear more natural. Oh yeah, and the rest of the game isn't bad, either.

8.ZACK & WIKI: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure (Wii) - Don't let the cuteness fool you: Zack & Wiki is a devious, little game. The goal of each level is simple: to get to the treasure chest by using objects and contraptions found only in that particular level. It's the execution - which could involve shaking the Wii controller like a bell or turning it like a crank - that's difficult.

9.THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: Phantom Hourglass (Nintendo DS) - This Zelda is a model of efficiency: You use the DS' stylus and touch-sensitive screen to perform nearly every action in the game, from moving around the hero Link to making notes on the many dungeon maps. It's one of the handheld system's best games so far.

10.CALL OF DUTY 4: Modern Warfare (Xbox 360, PS3 and PCs) - Yes, the multiplayer rivals Halo 3's as the best that the Xbox Live online service has to offer, but the single-player portion of CoD4 - which ditched the World War II-era weaponry in favor of current technology - was a joy, even if it was too short.


The Wii (pronounced as the English pronoun we, IPA: /wiː/) is the fifth home video game console released by Nintendo. The console is the direct successor to the Nintendo GameCube. Nintendo states that its console targets a broader demographic than that of Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3,[3] but it competes with both as part of the seventh generation of video game systems.

A distinguishing feature of the console is its wireless controller, the Wii Remote, which can be used as a handheld pointing device and can detect acceleration in three dimensions. Another is WiiConnect24, which enables it to receive messages and updates over the Internet while in standby mode.

Nintendo first spoke of the console at the 2004 E3 press conference and later unveiled the system at the 2005 E3. Satoru Iwata revealed a prototype of the controller at the September 2005 Tokyo Game Show.[5] At E3 2006, the console won the first of several awards.[6] By December 8, 2006, it had completed its launch in four key markets. During the week of September 12, 2007, the Financial Times declared that the Wii was the current sales leader of its generation.

Nintendo hopes to target a wider demographic with its console than that of others in the seventh generation.[3] At a press conference for the upcoming Nintendo DS game Dragon Quest IX, Satoru Iwata insisted "We're not thinking about fighting Sony, but about how many people we can get to play games. The thing we're thinking about most is not portable systems, consoles, and so forth, but that we want to get new people playing games.

This is reflected in Nintendo's series of television advertisements in North America, directed by Academy Award winner Stephen Gaghan, as well as Internet ads. The ad slogans are "Wii would like to play" and "Experience a new way to play." These ads ran starting November 15, 2006 and had a total budget of over US$200 million throughout the year.[34] The productions are Nintendo's first broad-based advertising strategy and include a two-minute video clip showing a varied assortment of people enjoying the Wii system, such as urban apartment-dwellers, country ranchers, grandparents, and parents with their children. The music in the ads is from the song "Kodo (Inside the Sun Remix)" by the Yoshida Brothers.[35] The marketing campaign has proved to be successful: pensioners as old as 103 have been reported to be playing the Wii in the United Kingdom.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The nanodisks can form a physical pattern,

Nanodisk Codes
Researchers at Northeastern University have devised a way to use billionth-of-a-meter-sized disks to create codes that could be used to encrypt information, serve as biological labels, and even tag and track goods and personnel.
The nanodisks can form a physical pattern, similar in concept to a barcode, as well as a spectroscopic code, meaning it can exhibit a specific, unique response to electromagnetic radiation, or light, depending on the type of molecule (or molecules) attached to the disks—in other words, how the disks are “functionalized.”

Nanostructures can be ideal for encoding. Their small size allows them to be hidden easily in a variety of materials and objects, and scientists' ability to easily tailor their physical and chemical properties makes it possible to design nanostructures for specific coding functions.

In a paper describing this work, published in a recent edition of Nano Letters, the researchers, led by Northeastern chemist Chad Mirkin, describe how the nanodisks can form physical binary codes. The group started with nanorods made of gold and nickel and, using a method they developed, carved disks out of each rod. The disks are created in twos, with up to five pairs created per rod.

Each of the five disk-pair locations along the rod can correspond to a “0” or a “1,” depending on whether that location is occupied by a disk pair. For example, if only one disk pair is present, and it is situated at the third location, that code is read as 00100. If two disk pairs are present, at the fourth and fifth locations, the code is 00011.

“This is a rapid, low cost way of making many unique nanostructures that can identified and read based upon high sensitivity spectroscopic techniques,” Mirkin said to “It's a beautiful example of how the ability to shape and control the size and surface composition of a nanostructure can translate into significant technological advantages.”

The group has made nanodisk arrays as long as 12 micrometers (millionths of a meter), which can support as many as 10 disk pairs, yielding 287 physical nanodisk codes.

The researchers increased the codes' usefulness by functionalizing them with a class of dye molecules called chromophores. This makes the codes spectroscopically active, allowing each to emit a unique light spectrum when illuminated by an exterior light source, typically a laser beam.

Due to the physical and spectroscopic codes they can exhibit, the nanodisks are particularly suited for biological tagging, a method of tracking and detecting individual biological materials, such as DNA. The researchers proved this by attaching pieces of single-stranded DNA to the surfaces of the nanodisks in a 11011 code. Each of these strands was complementary to half of a “target” DNA strand—the strand being tagged. The other half of the target strand was complementary to a “reporter” strand, rendered spectroscopically active with dye. The overall structure formed a three-strand “sandwich,” with the target strand in the middle.

The group also created a similar sandwich structure using a different reporter strand and a 10101 code, and then mixed the two samples. They were able to successfully detect and distinguish between the unique spectrums emitted by both reporter molecules.

Nanodisk Codes

We report a new encoding system based upon dispersible arrays of nanodisks prepared by on-wire lithography and functionalized with Raman active chromophores. These nanodisk arrays are encoded both physically (in a "barcode" pattern) and spectroscopically (Raman) along the array. These structures can be used in covert encoding strategies because of their small size or as biological labels with readout by scanning confocal Raman spectroscopy. As proof-of-concept, we demonstrate their utility in DNA detection in a multiplexed format at target concentrations as low as 100 fM.

An interview with Symantec CEO thompson "no Vista for me"

Symantec name goes with security,they achieved it,Software newsmaker Coming off a good quarter for Symantec's consumer businesses, CEO John Thompson warns against viewing Windows Vista as a solution to security woes.

Symantec ended 2006 with three months in which revenue for its consumer business grew 24 percent year over year. The company is planning to release its new flagship security tool, Norton 360, in the coming weeks and has a new identity management product, Norton Identity Manager, lined up as well.

On the enterprise side the news isn't that rosy. Symantec has also revisited its plans to enter the identity management space and ceded to the many players already on the market. Identity management software identifies users of a system and controls their access to resources by associating rights and restrictions with a particular identity.

There are vultures in the sky over Symantec. Along with Microsoft, technology giants including EMC, IBM, Oracle and Cisco Systems are eying parts of Symantec's business. Thompson, however, in a recent interview with CNET, said his company is fearless, though it may need to execute better on its strategies.

Q: Have you installed Vista?
Thompson: No, I have not. I see no need for it for what I do online today. The machine that I use is the one provided by our company, and we have not made a commitment to migrate to Vista and therefore there is no reason for me to use Vista.

Microsoft says you have to buy Vista because it makes you much safer online than XP, or any of its previous operating systems. Do you believe that?
Thompson: Consumers should not be confused. Vista is not a security solution. Vista is an operating system, and Vista provides some very important advances from Microsoft's perspective and for the industry's point of view on building a more stable, more reliable, more secure operating platform, but people still need the efficacy that comes with the products that Symantec and others in the industry build, and so we should not be confused by the marketing rhetoric with what Vista is. It's a hopefully much better product than XP or any of its predecessors, but it's not a security solution.

Antivirus and firewall products, which you sell--they're considered a first line of defense, but they're also considered outdated. Are you keeping up with the times?
Thompson: It would be naive to say they're outdated. Locks were invented for doors in the homes that we live in many, many years ago. They're no longer the last line of defense, they are the first line of defense, and people still buy more advanced locks, hence more antivirus, more firewalls. As the value of the assets that you have in the physical world goes up, so does the need to change the protection that you put around those devices, or those assets. And that is clearly the case in the digital world as well, and so antivirus and firewalls will continue to be the first line of defense. We'll have to be smarter about delivering new capabilities and new functions there for proactive defense as opposed to reactive defense, but you'll also have to layer other kinds of technologies on to deal with new threats around fraud and identity management and all of those.

You've said that managing user identities is one of the most pressing challenges that face enterprises today. You've said that identity management is in an area where Symantec might acquire a company. Where are you at when it comes to that?

Thompson: Identity management has to be parsed based upon whose identity you are trying to protect. At the corporate level, there is no shortage of solutions that corporations have tried to deploy for years to solve this identity management problem, so I just don't think that's an area where Symantec should expend its resources.

However, on the consumer side, I think there is more that Symantec can do with its broad consumer client footprint that would allow us to deliver an identity management solution that would give consumers confidence in their online experience. So we'll concentrate there.

It seems that your position on identity management has changed.
Thompson: Yes, a year or so ago we were really studying the opportunity, and we looked long and hard at what our entry point would be. And we looked at a number of technologies that we had in our own portfolio or things that we could acquire, and when we kind of stepped away from it and did the customer validation side, what customers said was, look, we already have something, we haven't fully deployed it, we haven't deployed it because the management of the key infrastructure around identities is so complex, and so we don't need help there at all.

Yet when you go and you ask consumers: "What are you worried about?" They're worried about phishing, identity theft, online fraud, all things that are undermining their confidence in doing more and more online. So we think there's a place where we can make a difference.

At the Demo conference recently you showed off an early version of a product called Norton Identity Manager. What is the purpose of that product?
Thompson: The Norton Identity Client is focused on the idea of helping a consumer have, let's say, single-use credit card numbers where they can go to an online site, facilitate a transaction, but not have to worry about having their credentials visible to the world at large. It's a one-time use phenomenon. Or being able to validate a site as being a legitimate site, knowing that the bank or the e-tailer that I'm interacting with is who I thought I was interacting with.

When I read some of the description of Norton Identity Manager it also made me think of Microsoft Passport. You suggest people use their Norton accounts to pay for online shopping, for example. Passport failed. Is Norton Identity Manager different?
Thompson: Well, there may be some techniques and technologies that are similar, but I think there are two fundamental things that are different. One, it's a different moment in time. When Microsoft attempted Passport the market wasn't quite ready for that. People didn't perceive that there was a problem that needed to be solved by Microsoft. Two, and perhaps more important, they didn't trust the company that wanted to offer the solution. So technology without trust is going to flounder, and that's what essentially happened with Passport.

You just ended a disappointing quarter, yet your consumer business appears to be very strong. How come that's going gangbusters?
Thompson: We've always had a view that it's always difficult to compete with Microsoft's marketing. It's much easier to compete with their products, and I think that's reflected in the performance of Norton Internet Security in the marketplace right now. It's a terrific product and it's cleaning Microsoft's clock around the world as well as others in the industry as well.

You've mentioned Microsoft as one of the big guns and you've also said Oracle, IBM, EMC, Cisco have all awoken to the reality that security is an essential element of today's business. Do you have any fear that any of these big guys are going to take your business?
Thompson: Fear? We are fearless at Symantec! The notion that somebody who doesn't have the same experience that we have, that doesn't have the same human capital invested in the security world that we do, doesn't have the strength of its relationship with customers and partners around the world, or doesn't have the technology portfolio that we do, can come in and take this away from us--I don't think that's the case, and therefore there's no reason for us to be fearful of anyone. If anything, we need to sharpen our own execution to make sure that our missteps don't create openings or opportunities for competitors that we created as opposed to they created.

About Symantec
Business Overview Worldwide HeadquartersSymantec Corporation 20330 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Cupertino, CA 95014
+1 408 517 8000
+1 408 517 8186 fax Fact Sheet (pdf)At a GlanceFounded in April 1982
IPO on June 23, 1989
More than 17,500 employeesProfileEnterprises and consumers need to keep their infrastructures up and running 24x7. They need to be able to access information anytime and anywhere. That means that their critical systems must be up and running all the time.

Therefore, it is important that they protect the physical systems, the operating environments, and the applications – across all tiers of their infrastructure. They must protect a broad range of information types – from email to business documents to digital photos to audio and video files. And, they must ensure that the interactions – the connections, the collaborative environments, and the movement of data while in use – are protected.

Symantec is focused on helping customers protect their infrastructures, their information, and their interactions. Headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., Symantec has operations in 40 countries.
Market Categories Consumer Products
Enterprise Security
Enterprise Availability
Services Senior Management TeamSymantec's leaders bring decades of diverse experience and a history of success. Combining business acumen with technical savvy, these executives guide more than 17,000 talented employees to create innovative products and solutions that enable customers around the world to have confidence in their infrastructure, information and interactions.John W. Thompson
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
James Beer
Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Mark Bregman
Executive Vice President, Chief Technology Officer

Greg Butterfield
Group President, Altiris Business Unit

Janice Chaffin
Group President, Consumer Business Unit

Art Courville
Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary

Greg Hughes
Group President, Global Services

Tom Kendra
Group President, Security and Data Management Group

Rebecca Ranninger
Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer

Enrique Salem
Group President, Worldwide Sales and Marketing

David Thompson
Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer
Geographic LeadersJohn Brigden
Senior Vice President, Europe, Middle East, and Africa Geography

Bernard Kwok
Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan Geography

Bill Robbins
Senior Vice President, The Americas Geography
Board of DirectorsJohn W. Thompson
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Michael Brown
Former Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Quantum Corporation

William (Bill) Coleman
Founder, Chairman of the Board, and Chief Executive Officer, Cassatt Corporation

Frank E. Dangeard
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Thomson S.A.

David Mahoney
Former Co-CEO of McKesson HBOC, Inc. and CEO of iMcKesson LLC

Robert S. Miller
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Delphi Corp.

George Reyes
Chief Financial Officer, Google

Daniel H. Schulman
Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Mobile USA

Paul Unruh
Paul Unruh, Former Chief Financial Officer and Vice Chairman, Bechtel Group, Inc.

Year in review 2007 :Tech titans on the defensive

How technology growing ? fast or fastest? yes fasted. in technology war every moment is calculative, everymoment is new,
Industry superpowers found themselves struggling this past year to adapt to a fast-changing technology business that was seemingly about to leave them behind.

Even a perennial leader, such as Sony, found itself on the defensive. In the aftermath of a massive computer battery recall, challenges in the game player market, and consumer uncertainty related to the standards battle over high-definition DVD players, the pressure was on CEO Howard Stringer. But Sir Howard, stiff upper lip and all, told CNET that he was sticking with his plan.

Microsoft was another bellwether tech company that faced a transition year. With co-founder Bill Gates making a slow-motion exit, the company was betting on the strength of its newly released Vista operating system and the popularity of its game console to help maintain its momentum. But as Gates told us, he still has plenty left on his plate before he finishes shifting from a full-time Microsoft worker to a part-timer.

To be sure, Vista's uptake proceeded apace, but whatever technical advances it featured only elicited grudging acknowledgment from security software makers. One of the more prominent, Symantec CEO John Thompson, warned against viewing Windows Vista as a solution to security woes. He wasn't buying Microsoft's argument that the "new and improved" Windows made computer users more secure than they were with Windows XP. Even though his critique included a fair dollop of self-interest, Thompson eagerly awaited a year in which corporations had finally awakened to the reality that security was an essential element of today's business.

Oddly enough, that bit of conventional wisdom seemingly was ignored by Uncle Sam. The role of cybersecurity czar had been left empty for more than a year. But in February, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff appointed Greg Garcia to the post. One important difference between Garcia and his predecessors: he also holds the title of assistant secretary, an elevated position that comes with more power than any of his predecessors.

And what summary of 2007's key themes would be complete without mentioning Web 2.0? This was the year in which Web 2.0 backers convinced the corporate types that it was the real deal.

Web 2.0 did quickly become a terribly overused umbrella term, but the effects of Web 2.0 technologies were quite real, forcing changes in the world of media--digital and print. No less a "big media" personage than former Disney CEO Michael Eisner decided to roll the dice on a new Web video studio for the production and distribution of online video content.

Another one-time headliner from the world of old media, Dan Rather, reappeared on the scene--this time in a new career working with Marc Cuban's HDNet. The irony was all the more striking as Rather left his job as CBS News anchor in disgrace after bloggers triggered a dustup over his report on President Bush's military record. But as Rather told, he was adapting quickly to his new role and to the new definitions governing the world of journalism, writ large.

Perhaps no issue at the intersection of science and technology garnered more attention than climate change. The topic continues to get a lot of critics' dander up. Still, a long-awaited panel of experts assembled by the United Nations concluded that there exists a strong link between human-made carbon emissions and global climate change. We spoke with Stanford scientist Terry Root to find out what that presages for the human race.

What Root and other scientists are saying probably is music to the ears of folks like Frank Bowman. The CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute and a retired Navy admiral, Bowman represents a constituency that likely figures to become a key part of any discussion about alternative energy.

No such environmental troubles concerned the increasing number of cyberdenizens inhabiting Second Life. But as virtual reality entered the popular lexicon and Second Life swelled with new addicts, some of the newbies left their real-world manners at home. The object of their ire was a Chinese businesswoman named Ailin Graef, whose cyberinterview with was sabotaged by a 15-minute digital barrage of flying body parts and doctored porn images. That episode soon made it onto YouTube and ignited a celebrated debate over the proper limits of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Sony discontinue with rear rear-projection TV

Sony said on Thursday it would stop making rear-projection televisions, becoming the latest company to distance itself from a technology once seen as a promising rival of LCD and plasma displays in the flat-TV marke., it was dropping its money-losing rear-projection TV business worldwide to focus on flat-panel technologies.

In October, Sony lowered its global sales forecast for rear-projection TVs, which use a projector to create images on large screens, to 400,000 from 700,000, which is down from 1.1 million the previous fiscal year.

By contrast, Sony expects to sell 10 million liquid-crystal-display TVs this fiscal year through March, up from 6.3 million the previous year.

Earlier this month, Sony began selling an 11-inch TV that uses a relatively new but expensive flat-panel technology called organic light-emitting diode. The set, called the XEL-1, measures just 3 millimeters, or 0.12 inches, thick and delivers clear, vivid images.

Toyota Hybrid

The A-BAT is smaller than the Toyota Tacoma pickup and has a four-foot bed. But the concept uses tricks such as a sliding roof panel and fold-down mid-gate to be capable of carrying tall loads or the truck manliness standard of the four-by-eight-feet sheet of plywood.

For more storage, there are lockable drawers in the walls of the truck bed and a large drawer that slides out from underneath the truck bed.

The A-BAT rides on a unibody platform, a departure from standard pickup procedure.

Styling is marked by a thick C pillar, and wheels pushed to the corners of the truck's footprint. The truck's design comes from Toyota's Calty studio in California.

The A-Bat's shape was inspired by the silhouette of the Toyota Prius, Calty Project Creative Director Matt Sterling said in a statement.

Also inspired by the Prius is the concept truck's powertrain--a four-cylinder gasoline engine mated to Toyota's hybrid system.

Inside the A-BAT are seats for four. But the rear pair of seats can fold down, or slide into a storage compartment to create extra cargo room. The top surface of the instrument panel is lined with solar power cells to generate electricity for the concept's portable navigation system.

Overall length: 181.3 inches

Overall width: 74.4 inches

Overall height: 64.0 inches

Wheelbase: 112.2 inches

Bed length: 48.0 inches

Bed length with midgate down: 72.0 inches

Bed length with midgate and tailgate down: 96.0 inches

The design brain trust of the world's most successful auto company is discreetly tucked away in a leafy suburb of Newport Beach, Calif. Toyota's (TM) Calty design and research facility sits inconspicuously at the end of a sleepy Orange County cul-de-sac. Surrounded by fountains and gardens, the studio radiates a monastic calm broken only by the sound of children playing in the yard of a nearby grade school.

Despite the Zen-like atmosphere, designers here have been brewing up creative disruption on four wheels for decades. Since it was established in 1973, Calty has served as the Japanese giant's crucial toe-hold in the American auto market. The studio has created some of the company's boldest and best-selling vehicles, including the 2005 Scion xB and the 2001 Highlander SUV. Now, Toyota's American designers are at it again.

On Jan. 13 the company will take the wraps off yet another vehicle that could have embattled American automakers scrambling to catch up. A new concept truck, dubbed A-BAT, will make its debut in the heart of the U.S. auto industry at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. And there's a twist: The tough-looking pickup packs a hybrid gas-electric power supply to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy.

The sleek vehicle is roughly the size of Toyota's smallest SUV, the RAV4, despite looking much larger thanks to an oversize front grill and rough-and-tumble body design intended to delight truck aficionados. But in a marriage of red- and blue-state values, the truck was conceived as a gas-electric model. The truck's cabin is shaped like a trapezoid, as is the company's flagship gas-electric, the Prius, with which it shares the Hybrid Synergy Drive system. "People gravitate towards sporty," says Matt Sperling, a designer with Calty. "If you inject utility into that, we think it's win-win."

Pickup Truck Wars
Earlier this year, Toyota overtook General Motors (GM) in global auto sales for the first time. And 2007 was a banner year for Toyota's truck division in the U.S., as it introduced a redesigned full-size pickup, the Tundra, intended to compete with the last reliable profit centers of American manufacturers. On top of rave press reviews, the vehicle earned the coveted Truck of the Year award from Motor Trend magazine in December, 2007.

According to Automotive News, Tundra sales for the first 11 months of 2007 were up nearly 37%, to 177,336 vehicles, over sales of the previous model in the same period in 2006. Sales of GM and Chrysler Group's competing trucks were flat. Ford (F) suffered double-digit declines, though it still sold some 635,000 units of its flagship F Series pickup.

The new A-BAT would potentially extend the ongoing dogfight into other segments of the U.S. truck market. The vehicle is a compact truck that would fit into the company's lineup below the Tundra and midsize Tacoma, which has grown in size over the years. The smaller A-BAT could prove popular with young buyers looking for a fuel-efficient but versatile vehicle. Erich Merkle, vice-president for forecasting at Grand Rapids (Mich.) automotive forecasting firm IRN, says: "Such a vehicle is a real genre-buster, and that could leave competitors behind if the concept becomes a production vehicle."

Risky Business
On the face of it, producing the A-BAT might seem counterintuitive. After all, the market for small trucks has languished in recent years. A dearth of products has been punctuated by lackluster, infrequently updated models. Merkle forecasts that U.S production of small and midsize trucks will continue to dive, dropping from current levels by some 28%, to 458,000 vehicles in 2009.

"Other makers are ditching the category, but we see an opportunity," says Andrew MacLachlan, a senior strategic planner with Toyota. "If oil doesn't go below $90 a barrel in the foreseeable future, this could be where trucks are heading."

Unlike other flat-bed pickups, the A-BAT would likely be built on a car platform, improving fuel economy, safety, and handling. Its small size, versatility, and hybrid power plant would set it apart from anything on the market or upcoming products from major manufacturers. "This is classic Toyota," says Merkle. "They're positioning themselves ahead of the curve, preparing products for a generation of consumers that is still coming up."

Certainly, growing environmental concerns, new government regulations, and the high cost of fuel have created interest in smaller cars, with new introductions in that category by nearly every major automaker in the past 18 months. Most have been microsedans. The next frontier, analysts and designers say, is smaller vehicles shaped like wagons, vans, SUVs, and—perhaps—pickup trucks. "This is our vision," says Calty senior designer Daryl Harris.

To Be Determined
The new vehicle is also another important symbol of how seriously Toyota takes the U.S. auto market. Calty designers say the idea for the truck came out of "blue sky" brainstorming sessions held at an off-site workshop in March, 2006. "This was the first design project that didn't start with a directive from Japan," says Ian Cartabiano, a project chief designer. "It was literally 'let's think more broadly about what this country needs'." Of course, despite the U.S. focus, if the vehicle did well, it could be transferred to other markets.

Whether or not the A-BAT makes it to market remains to be seen. However, the Calty team behind the new concept has a strong track record, reflected in a parking lot packed with vehicles that were created there. The studio was responsible for the Toyota FTX concept truck, which eventually became the new Tundra. Its FJ Cruiser, a boyish 4x4 with Tonka-truck looks, was so popular with the public when it was unveiled as a concept in 2003 that Toyota scrambled to send it to production. "We've had a lot of success with previous concepts," says Alan Schneider, a project chief designer. "We hope [the A-BAT] has the same impact as the FJ."

Despite Toyota's reputation as a green technology leader, the A-BAT would not be the first hybrid pickup on the market. At the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, GM introduced an advanced hybrid version of its Silverado full-size pickup. But GM's track record in the hybrid market is spotty. A so-called mild-hybrid version of the 2005 Silverado sold dismally, and analysts don't expect the company to sell more than 30,000 units annually.

If any manufacturer has the green gravitas to make a small, economical hybrid a hit—even a pickup—it is surely Toyota. Calty's track record would suggest nothing less.

Is iPod Killing Blockbuster?

Technology war is rising the top, here is everyday fact that if one sstart a new and upgraded service for tech user other is falling harm. its enjoying for the tech user but very tuff to handle for tech developer.
Forget the cavernous big box stores that laid waste to the retail landscape a decade ago. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs' tiny iPod has turned his company into a category killer for the digital era--first wiping out music stores and now, potentially, the corner video store.
Starting in mid-January, the Cupertino, Calif., computer and gadget maker will take on Blockbuster (nyse: BBI - news - people ) and Netflix (nasdaq: NFLX - news - people ) by renting movies from Fox on its iTunes digital media store, according to a report first published in the Financial Times earlier this week.
While older models of the iPod--and its low-end iPod Shuffle--can't play digital video, the gadgets now have a proven record of disruption, with customers bypassing record stores to tap into illegal distribution networks, along with Apple's (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ) iTunes music store, to fill the up their devices.
The result: Sales of CDs fell more than 30% to 614.9 million units last year from a peak of 881.9 million in 2000, according to the Recording Industry Association. Once sprawling chains, such as Tower Records, have shuttered.
Apple, however, isn't the first major tech company to offer digital video rentals. Amazon rents movies to users of PCs and TiVos via its Unbox service. Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) is even offering digital movie rentals on its XBox 360 game console. Neither company, however, poses the same threat to DVD rental companies as Apple, which has an installed base of more than 100 million digital media devices that consumers carry in their pockets.
Since Apple first began offering video content in its store two years ago, Jobs has expanded the company's video offerings. The weak link: the AppleTV set-top box effort. Some industry observers estimate that the device has sold fewer than 1 million units since it went on sale earlier this year, so video rentals could surely revive the effort.
Despite Apple's movie rental push, Blockbuster and Netflix won't disappear tomorrow. They likely will continue to slug it out in the business of renting digital video discs. Blockbuster has moved to counter the threat from Netflix, which mails movies to customers who queue up their orders online, with a Web-based service of its own. Netflix, meanwhile, allows customers to rent digital movies for their PCs.
Still, their days might be numbered: The iPod has killed before. It will kill again.
Shares of Netflix sagged 2.19% to $26.85 in Friday trading. Shares of Blockbuster fell 1.03% to $3.86. Apple rose 0.40% to $199.37.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

AOL to End Support for Netscape Browser

Once the dominant Web browser, AOL has discontinued development and active support for the Netscape browser.
Development on the browser had recently devolved into a handful of engineers tasked with creating a skinned version of Firefox with a few extensions, AOL said.
An historic name in software will effectively pass into history in February as AOL discontinues development and active support for the Netscape browser, according to an official blog.

AOL will keep delivering security patches for the current version of Netscape until Feb. 1, 2008, after which it will no longer provide active support for any version of the software, according to a Friday entry on The Netscape Blog by Tom Drapeau, lead developer for The Web site will remain as a general-purpose portal.

Netscape was the original mass-market Web browser and helped to popularize the Internet in the mid-1990s, but it has long taken a back seat to Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Firefox itself traces its roots back to Netscape software that was made into open source. The Mozilla Foundation was founded in 2003, with support from AOL, and has released successive versions of Firefox while AOL continued to develop Netscape on top of the same platform, Drapeau wrote.

Groups within AOL have tried and failed to revive Netscape Navigator and gain market share against Internet Explorer, according to the blog entry.

"AOL's focus on transitioning to an ad-supported Web business leaves little room for the size of investment needed to get the Netscape browser to a point many of its fans expect it to be," Drapeau wrote. "Given AOL's current business focus ... we feel it's the right time to end development of Netscape branded browsers, hand the reins fully to Mozilla and encourage Netscape users to adopt Firefox," Drapeau wrote.

The Mosaic Netscape browser was posted for downloading in 1994 by Mosaic Communications, which later changed its name to Netscape Communications. That company kicked off the dot-com boom with its hugely successful initial public offering in August 1995 and was acquired by AOL in 1999. But Internet Explorer, introduced in 1995, eventually dominated the browser market. Microsoft's bundling of its browser with Windows operating systems was a key issue in antitrust lawsuits filed against it in 1997.

As of this month, Netscape had only 0.6 percent of the browser market, which was still dominated by Internet Explorer with more than 77 percent, according to Web application and analytics firm Net Applications. Firefox was gaining, however, with market share just over 16 percent.

Users will still be able to download old versions of Netscape from an archive, currently located here, though they will not be supported by AOL, Drapeau wrote.

Mobile phones, notebook computers, iPods—the boom in portable computing

Mobile Metal Atoms: New class of lithium-rich solids with unusually high lithium mobility.

Mobile phones, notebook computers, iPods—the boom in portable computing and communications devices is dependent on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries to deliver power.

These batteries offer the highest energy density, allow laptops to function for useful amounts of time, and do not display a memory effect when compared to other types of rechargeable batteries. However, modern rechargeable batteries are still not truly satisfactory.

Modern, efficient, rechargeable batteries and fuel cells require materials with an enhanced ability to conduct lithium ions. German researchers have now developed a new class of inorganic ionic conductor with a structure analogous to that of the mineral argyrodite.

A team led by Hans-Jörg Deiseroth in Siegen, Germany reports, in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the characterization of the most conductive representative of the man-made argyrodite minerals made of lithium, phosphorus, sulfur, and bromine atoms.

In ionic conductors, charge is not transported in the form of electrons as it is in metals; instead, the charge is transported in the form of charged particles—typically, lithium ions. This transport requires materials in which the lithium ions can move as freely as possible. The team from the University of Siegen, in cooperation with scientists at the University of Münster, started from a long-known mineral: argyrodite is a silver-, germanium-, and sulfur-containing mineral discovered near Freiberg, Germany in 1885 and the silver ions in this material are very mobile.

The individual components of argyrodite can be replaced by a number of other atoms without altering the typical structure of the mineral. The term argyrodite now refers to an entire class of compounds that have a specific arrangement of atoms and type of structure.

The team led by Deiseroth produced a version of the mineral in which silver is replaced by lithium, germanium by phosphorus, and some of the sulfur atoms by halides (chloride, bromide, or iodide), resulting in argyrodite-like structures that have a composition of Li6PS5X (X: Cl-, Br-, or I-).

In the crystal lattice the phosphorus, sulfur, and halide atoms adopt a dense tetrahedral packing arrangment in which the gaps are filled somewhat regularly with lithium ions. The lithium ions can “jump” from gap to gap. The freely moving ions indicate that the solid has a high ionic conductivity and the reported bromine-containing structure has the highest ionic conductivity of lithium ions known for any argyrodite to date.

The scientists have thoroughly examined the lithium argyrodites by single-crystal X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. This analysis allowed precise characterization of the crystal structures of these compounds and provided fascinating insights into the dynamics of the mobile lithium ions.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A smily final Goodbye from Benazir Bhutto :Pakistan's Bhutto assassinated in gun, bomb attack

A smily final Goodbye from Benazir Bhutto
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on Thursday in a gun and bomb attack as she left an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi.
State media and her party confirmed her death.
"She has been martyred," said party official Rehman Malik.
Bhutto, 54, died in hospital in Rawalpindi. Ary-One Television said she had been shot in the head.
Police said a suicide bomber fired shots at Bhutto as she was leaving the rally venue in a park before blowing himself up.
"The man first fired at Bhutto's vehicle. She ducked and then he blew himself up," said police officer Mohammad Shahid.
Police said 16 people had been killed in the blast, which occurred during campaigning for a January 8 national election. It is unclear if the poll will now go ahead.
"It is the act of those who want to disintegrate Pakistan because she was a symbol of unity. They have finished the Bhutto family. They are enemies of Pakistan," senior Bhutto party official Farzana Raja told Reuters.
Bhutto's father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was Pakistan's first popularly elected prime minister. He was executed in 1979 after being deposed in a military coup.
A Reuters witness at the scene of the attack said he had heard two shots moments before the blast. Another Reuters witness saw bodies and a mutilated human head strewn on a road outside the park where she held her rally.
A spokesman for President Pervez Musharraf said he had to confirm the news before commenting.
A suicide bomber killed nearly 150 people in an attack on Bhutto on October 19 as she paraded through the southern city of Karachi on her return from eight years in self-imposed exile.
Islamist militants were blamed for that attack but Bhutto had said she was prepared to face the danger to help the country.
In her speech on Thursday, Bhutto spoke of the risks she faced.
"I put my life in danger and came here because I feel this country is in danger. People are worried. We will bring the country out of this crisis," Bhutto told the rally.
People cried and hugged each other outside the hospital where she died. Some shouted anti-Musharraf slogans.
Another former prime minister and opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, spoke to the crowd.
"My heart is bleeding and I'm as grieved as you are," Sharif said.
Residents of Karachi, Bhutto's home town, said they had heard gun shots after news of Bhutto's death spread, apparently from her enraged supporters.
On international financial markets, gold and government bonds rose while U.S. stock futures fell on Thursday after news of Bhutto's assassination.
Analysts say the shock of the Bhutto news triggered a classic capital flight to assets which are considered as safe havens in times of geopolitical stress

Bhutto became the first female prime minister in the Muslim world when she was elected in 1988 at the age of 35. She was deposed in 1990, re-elected in 1993, and ousted again in 1996 amid charges of corruption and mismanagement.
She said the charges were politically motivated but in 1999 chose to stay in exile rather than face them.
Bhutto's family is no stranger to violence.
Both of her brothers died in mysterious circumstances and she had said al Qaeda assassins tried to kill her several times in the 1990s.
Intelligence reports have said al Qaeda, the Taliban and Pakistani jihadi groups have sent suicide bombers after her.

Privacy :Google's privacy faux pas with Reader

For some time now, Google has allowed you to share with your friends blog posts you view using Reader. You got to select the items you wanted shared and you got to choose your friends. When you marked a new item as shared, your friends who use Reader would see it. (Technically, your shared items were on a public Web page, so they could have been seen by others who are not your friends, if those people could figure out how to find that page.)
Google is assuming that anyone you have had a conversation with using Google Talk is a friend, so they’ll automatically be able to see and read what you’ve read and marked as shared. You can still manage your friends list and explicitly tell Reader not to share with some of your newfound friends. Of course, you’d have to know that Google had started sharing your items more widely, which many people apparently did not, even though Google alerted them through a pop-up window

In its attempts to add social elements to products, is Google pulling a Facebook?
Google Reader has allowed people to share items they are interested in with others since 2006 with hyperlinks, clips on blogs and storing them on a public page that you had to know the URL for to see.
Last week, Google tweaked Google Reader so that your shared items are automatically made available to your Google Talk contacts.
But, as anyone who uses instant messaging knows, not all of your IM contacts are friends. Many are acquaintances or people you barely know and with whom you may not want to share a reading list.
Recently, Facebook was forced to modify its new Beacon ad targeting service that notifies friends in your network when you buy things on sites of Facebook partners. Facebook made that an opt-in feature, however, after consumer groups and Facebook members complained the service violated people's privacy.
Google, too, has been crucified in the blogosphere over its Google Reader change, with bloggers saying the Google Talk contact sharing feature should be opt in, not opt out.
To calm the masses, Google posted an item on the Google Reader Blog that explains the company's reasoning behind the change and tells how to clear the shared-items list and how to tag items to share with a limited number of people.
"We'd hoped that making it easier to share with the people you chat with often would be useful and interesting, but we underestimated the number of users who were using the Share button to send stories to a limited number of people," the blog says.
Danny Sullivan, editor of the Search Engine Land blog, writes: "Frankly, a better solution would be to dump the friends sharing feature until it comes back in a new form, where you specifically and deliberately create a list of contacts that you do want to share material with."

Google patent case setback

WASHINGTON, Dec 26 (24hoursnews) - A federal appeals court handed Google Inc (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) a setback in a patent fight on Wednesday, tossing out part of a summary judgment in the Web search engine's favor in a lawsuit filed by HyperphRase Technologies, LLC.
Hyperphrase Technologies filed suit against Google in April 2006, alleging that Google's AdSense and the AutoLink function of its toolbar infringed claims in four Hyperphrase patents relating to the contextual linking and presentation of information. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin rejected the allegations in a summary judgement in Google's favor, and Hyperphrase appealed.The appeals court ruled that Google's immensely profitable AdSense did not infringe on HyperphRase's patents. It handed down a split decision on AutoLink, agreeing that Google did not infringe, as claimed, on one of the HyperphRase patents. But it vacated a summary judgment in Google's favor on two others and sent it back to the Wisconsin district court.
In Wednesday's ruling on the Google-Hyperphrase case, the court of appeals upheld the judgement of the district court regarding AdSense. The way AdSense infers the topic of a Web page to associate it with keywords that may not appear on the page, and link those keywords to advertisements, did not constitute use of a "data reference" in the sense of the Hyperphrase patents at issue, the district court had found, and the court of appeals agreed.
A Google representative reached in London would not immediately comment on the court of appeals ruling.
The company's latest quarterly financial report warns that is subject to intellectual property rights claims, and may face more in the future. Such cases are costly to defend and could require it to pay damages or prevent it from using certain technologies
One such case, brought by Northeastern University in Boston and by Jarg, a company in Massachusetts that develops distributed search technologies, charges Google with infringing a patent for a method of breaking database queries into fragments and distributing them to multiple computers to get search results faster. Google has until Jan. 11 to file a response in that case.
The case is one of dozens that Google is fighting. Like many high tech firms, it regularly faces patent infringement lawsuits

Apple's Piping Hot Innovation

In the year 2007 its seen innovation is the key point of success in technology market, Apple hit iPod, Now looking for new,
Apple (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ) Chief Executive Steve Jobs wants to patent a process that will save customers the hassle of waiting to order a cup of coffee at a local Starbucks (nasdaq: SBUX - news - people ) or a fresh burger at the nearest fast food restaurant. Even better: The technology would let you jump the line of those ordering in person.

In an application with the U.S. Patent Office filed on Dec. 20, the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer and gadget company described a wireless system that would allow customers to place an order at a store using a wireless device such as a media player, a wireless personal digital assistant or a cellphone.

The system could go far beyond the program that Apple announced with Starbucks in September, which allows iPhone users to press a button and wirelessly download the song playing in the background as they sip their soy lattes.

Apple's application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes a process for placing an order and then notifying customers when an order is ready to grab at a pick-up station. One goal, the patent application notes, is to avoid an "annoying wait in a long queue if the purchaser arrives before completion of the order."

U.S. Patent Application #20070291710 describes a device that also would keep tabs on where a user shops and what he or she likes to buy. Computers at participating stores would keep track of regular customers and their favorite orders.

Customers might tap a button to order their favorite drink, say a double-shot mocha, as they stroll up to the nearest coffee shop. When the drink is ready go to, the device--such as an iPhone--would chime or blink to let the thirsty one know it's time to scoop up the order at the counter.

The patent puts Apple's partnership with Starbucks in a new light. The technology promises to morph Apple from the business of simply selling gadgets and music and movies that can be played on those devices into an intermediary in all kinds of exchanges.

Apple is notoriously tight-lipped about its future products. But head honcho Jobs has also said that he believes the innovative insights at the core of the iPhone all start in the software built into the device, not its sleek form factor.

Apple applied for 12 patents in December, and was granted eight others, giving investors and Apple fans an idea of where the secretive company could be headed next.

Most cover relatively mundane technologies. Others, however, have stirred interest. Patent application #20070288886, unhelpfully titled "Run-Time Code Injection To Perform Checks," describes a system that would restrict the use of some software to "specific hardware platforms."

The application, published Dec. 13, suggests Apple could adopt something similar to Microsoft's (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) widely criticized Windows Genuine Advantage copy protection program, which checks a user's machine to confirm that it is not running a pirated version of Microsoft's software in exchange for access to certain software updates.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Russia launches final satellites for its own GPS

Moscow (Russia) - The last three satellites for a soviet GPS network named GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) were launched without incident yesterday in an improved Proton-M carrier rocket from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan. The three satellites complete the system which will be fully operational in 2009, providing world-wide GPS access to GLONASS devices.
Russia's full fleet of satellites include 29 separate points for GLONASS. Today there are only 15 satellites operating, but these provide full navigation in all parts of Russia and some surrounding countries.Like the U.S. GPS system, the idea for GLONASS began in the 1970s. When the Russian economy collapsed in the 1990s, funding was stripped and the project's uncertain future was left hanging in the balance. A reinvigorated Russia under Vladimir Putin, however, has seen a significant infusion of cash and the program is now well funded.
The military-run GLONASS mapping system works over most of Russia and is expected to cover the globe by the end of 2009, once all its 24 navigational satellites are operating.
A space rocket blasted off from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome on the steppes of neighbouring ex-Soviet Kazakhstan, from which Russia rents the facility.
"The launch was carried out smoothly at 10:32 p.m. (1932 GMT)," RIA news agency quoted a spokesman for the Russian space agency as saying. "We expect satellites to separate from the booster on the orbit at 2:24 a.m. (2324 GMT)".
Work on GLONASS -- or Global Navigation Satellite System -- began in the Soviet Union in the mid-1970s to give its armed forces exact bearings around the world.
The collapse of the Russian economy in the late 1990s drained funds and the plans withered, but President Vladimir Putin has ensured the project is now being lavishly funded from a brimming government budget.
Officials said GLONASS would mainly be used alongside the U.S. global positioning system, which Washington can switch off for civilian subscribers, as it did during recent military operations in Iraq.
The program will be fully operational in 2009 and will offer an alternative to GPS users who don't want to rely on American technology, or trickery. The early American GPS system was programmed to generate false data by the receiver. This error was called "Selective Availability" and would result in GPS coordinates that were a few hundred meters off of true coordinates. This slight error was programmed into the satellites so that, without a compensating device capable of correcting for the error (typically a military device), the GPS would produce false data that was not accurate or reliable for a given spot. Selective availability was turned off in 2000, following a 1996 executive order mandating that users receive a non-degraded signal globally. The feature still exists and/ can be re-enabled at any time.

Christmas came a day late for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) with the successful Wednesday arrival of a Russian cargo ship

Fresh Cargo Ship Delivers Gifts to Station Astronauts

with the successful Wednesday arrival of a Russian cargo ship bearing gifts and fresh supplies.

The unmanned Progress 27 space freighter arrived at the station's Russian-built Pirs docking compartment after a three-day chase to catch up to the high-flying orbital laboratory.

"Everything is nominal," said veteran cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, an Expedition 16 flight engineer aboard the ISS, as the cargo ship neared the outpost. "Okay, we feel the contact."

Malenchenko stood ready to take remote control of Progress 27 should its automated systems fail during today's docking. But the cargo ship smoothly moored itself to its Pirs port at 3:14 a.m. EST (0814 GMT) as both spacecraft flew about 200 miles (321 kilometers) above southern Europe.

Tucked aboard the Progress 27 are about 2.5 tons of propellant, oxygen, fresh fruit, equipment and other vital supplies for the station's three-astronaut crew. Included in that cargo are Christmas presents for Expedition 16 commander Peggy Whitson and flight engineer Dan Tani, as well as birthday gifts for Malenchenko, who turned 46 on Saturday.

"These include selected concerts of Vladimir Vinokur, video congratulations from home and from his relatives and friends," Russia's Interfax News Agency quoted Federal Space Agency as saying. Copies of Malenchenko's favorite films and television programs were also included, Interfax reported.

The astronauts are expected to open the hatches between the ISS and Progress 27 at about 6:30 a.m. EST (1130 GMT).

Progress 27 launched early Sunday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with 2,921 pounds (1,325 kilograms) of dry cargo stored aboard. About 110 pounds (50 kilograms) of oxygen and 1,918 pounds (870 kilograms) of rocket propellant were also packed inside the cargo ship, NASA said.

Whitson has said the cargo ship is also delivering fresh tomatoes and onions, fixings will lend themselves to a special dinner of "space hamburgers" once she and

her crewmates begin unloading Progress 27.

"Our standard menu no longer has re-hydratable hamburger patties in it, so I had requested, in advance, to have patties and dinner rolls in my preference foods," Whitson wrote in a recent Expedition 16 journal entry.

Whitson dreamed up her personal version of orbital hamburgers during her Expedition 5 mission to the ISS in 2002. An assortment of handy, and spicy, sauces to hold the concoction together was a must when she recreated them last month for her Expedition 16 crewmates.

"Space hamburgers went over pretty well, because they were different than the standard stuff," Whitson wrote. "But there is some assembly required...using the [sauces] of choice to hold them together!"

online games and gamers look set to emerge in 2008.

Online games battle for top spot

Challenges to the dominance of World of Warcraft over online games and gamers look set to emerge in 2008.
So say industry watchers looking back on a year in which the field as a whole matured and signs emerged which show how the industry sector is developing.

During the year Blizzard's flagship title consolidated its hold on gamers as its subscriber base kept growing.

But debuts by Age of Conan, Warhammer Online and many others may mean that hold begins to weaken.

Numbers game

"We expected, like all the analysts, to see a dip in subscriptions in 2007," said Paul Younger, an editor at the Inc Gamers network. "As it turns out we've seen the rise and rise of WoW."

At the start of 2007, the number of active subscribers playing World of Warcraft was eight million but by the end of summer the number had passed 9.3 million.

According to statistics gathered by Nielsen the average WoW player racks up 17 hours of play per week - 12 hours more than its nearest competitor The Sims. As such it was the most played PC game between April and November 2007.

In online games such as World of Warcraft players create an avatar or character, give them a profession and venture out into the game world to battle monsters, find treasure and turn their novice into a powerful hero or heroine.

Mr Younger said online games such as Lord of the Rings Online, Tabula Rasa and Hellgate: London were widely tipped to poach significant numbers of players from Blizzard but, he said, it was not clear that had happened.

"There seems to be an inability by other massively multi-player game makers to capture what Blizzard managed to capture," said Mr Younger.

Rob Fahey, industry veteran and columnist for, said the new launches and continued success of WoW showed how strong the industry had become.

"There's plenty of choice out there for players now," he said "You can even play massively multiplayer dancing games, if killing monsters isn't your thing."

Another sign of the growing maturity of online gaming was the notable failure of titles such as Vanguard.

Although released in February it was error prone and has taken months to become reliable enough.

"It's clear that it's no longer acceptable to release buggy games, and players aren't prepared to pay a monthly fee to test an unfinished product," he said.

Fantasy figures

The importance of the final polish is also thought to be behind the delayed arrival of Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Both were originally due in 2007 but now are expected before next summer.

Many see these as serious contenders to WoW because like that game they trade on a long history of earlier works.

Conan is familiar to many from Robert E Howard's original stories, the films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and the many contemporary novels that explored the world of the iconic barbarian.

Warhammer is the creation of UK firm Games Workshop and has many fans who played the tabletop game, the role-playing system, the earlier games and has read the books set in its world.

Perhaps more importantly the titles are attempting to move online gaming on from the mechanics established by Blizzard.

In Warhammer many areas of the game are contested and factions will battle to regain control of these areas. Solo players as well as those who prefer pitched battles will contribute to this back and forth that will see a lot of the game world's territory change hands many times.

By contrast Age of Conan is explicitly aiming at a mature audience - in particular combat will be bloody and realistic. The game will also allow player teams, or guilds, to set up and run their own cities or lay siege to each other's strongholds.

But, said Philip Wride, boss of consultancy firm Elysium Gaming, it could be something entirely outside the field that has a big impact on online gamine in 2008.

In the UK the Byron Review is scrutinising video games with a view to drawing up new regulations and guidelines governing them.

"It's about educating parents more than anything and perhaps making changes in terms of rating systems," he said.

This was likely to mean best practice guidelines for parents but may eventually involve new legislation.

"That would alter how online games are both portrayed and played," said Mr Wride.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Infrared camera is used to detect surface temperatures

ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE A Threat So Big, Academics Try Collaboration;

It is a basic tenet of university research: Economists conduct joint studies, chemists join forces in the laboratory, political scientists share ideas about other cultures — but rarely do the researchers cross disciplinary lines.

The political landscape of academia, combined with the fight for grant money, has always fostered competition far more than collaboration.
But the threat of global warming may just change all that.
Take what’s happening at the Rochester Institute of Technology. In September the school established the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, aimed at getting students and professors from different disciplines to collaborate in studying the environmental ramifications of production and consumption.
“The academic tradition is to let one discipline dominate new programs,” said Nabil Nasr, the institute’s director. “But the problem of sustainability cuts across economics, social elements, engineering, everything. It simply cannot be solved by one discipline, or even by coupling two disciplines.”
Neil Hawkins, Dow Chemical’s vice president for sustainability, sees it that way, too. Thus, Dow is giving $10 million, spread over five years, to the University of California, Berkeley, to set up a sustainability center.
“Berkeley has one of the strongest chemical engineering schools in the world, but it will be the M.B.A.’s who understand areas like microfinance solutions to drinking water problems,” Mr. Hawkins said.
That realization is spreading throughout academia. So more universities are setting up stand-alone centers that offer neutral ground on which engineering students can work on alternative fuels while business students calculate the economics of those fuels and political science majors figure how to make the fuels palatable to governments in both developing nations and America’s states.
“We give professors a chance to step beyond their usual areas of expertise, and we give students exposure to the worlds of science and business,” said Daniel C. Esty, director of the year-old Yale Center for Business and the Environment, a joint effort between the School of Management and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Similar setups are getting easier to find. Last year, the University of Tennessee consolidated all of its environmental research programs under a new Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment. Arizona State University did the same in 2004, when it inaugurated its Global Institute of Sustainability.
The Arizona institute reports directly to the university president and is run by Jonathan Fink, who is also the university’s sustainability officer.
“We want all the departments to contribute without thinking they own the initiative themselves,” Mr. Fink said. Already, experts in biogeochemistry — the study of the scientific underpinnings of earth’s origins and existing biosystems — are working with social scientists to study the impact of rapid urbanization on plants and animals.
It is impossible to quantify the growth of stand-alone centers. There is no naming convention — some are sustainability centers, some are environmental institutes and some are global warming initiatives. And many do not stand alone at all, but are neatly tucked inside an existing school.
For example, in 2003 the University of Pittsburgh School of Engineering dedicated the Mascaro Sustainability Initiative, which studies green construction and sustainable water use.
Nor do the environmentally themed names necessarily convey an enviro-centric agenda. Many sustainability centers — the Kenan-Flagler Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the University of North Carolina is a good example — address global cultures, business ethics and corporate social responsibility along with environmental issues.
The Aspen Institute’s Center for Business Education compiled a list of more than 600 academic centers that, at first blush, sound as if they would be stand-alone environmental facilities. Rich Leimsider, its director, figures only a handful really are.
“We are seeing more centers framed as sustainability, but they may not be qualitatively different from the ethics, innovation or globalization centers of 15 years ago,” he said. “Universities realize that you can discuss sustainability with a C.E.O. and not get laughed out of the room.”
But Mr. Leimsider said he does see more stand-alone centers that are devoted primarily to analyzing environmental problems, influencing environmental policy and preparing students to think collaboratively when they try to solve those problems outside the academic world.
Many of the centers have one foot set squarely outside the ivory tower. Mr. Esty said the Yale center was developing an “eco-services clinic” that would help companies address various environmental issues. Duke’s Corporate Sustainability Initiative, which is a joint venture of its earth sciences, business and environmental policy schools, is also a founding member of the Chicago Sustainable Business Alliance. Its faculty and students have already developed a small wind turbine for private use, and have helped local businesses reduce their carbon footprints.
Nor does the money for the centers necessarily come from university coffers. Often, it comes from individuals who are passionate about the environment.
More than 10 years ago, Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb gave $5 million to the University of Michigan to found the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. They have given an additional $15 million since.

Thomas P. Lyon, the institute’s director, said much of the money goes to defray third-year costs for graduate students who pursue a dual degree in business and natural sciences. But the institute is now talking to venture capitalists about teaching students to invest in green technologies, and is setting up projects for students in China and elsewhere. It also gives small research grants to professors who affiliate with the institute; most recently, it awarded money for a study of botanical gardens.
“We provide a community where students and professors can discuss research with different disciplines,” Mr. Lyon said.
Similarly, Julie A. Wrigley, who has a home in Arizona, provided $15 million for Arizona State’s institute, and this year gave an additional $10 million to create a degree-granting School of Sustainability within the institute.
The vast majority of the money for the Golisano Institute in Rochester came from B. Thomas Golisano, the founder of Paychex and one of the underwriters of the Clinton Global Initiative.
Mr. Golisano, who donated $10 million, said he expected the institute to “produce the first generation of professionals with the vision and know-how to deliver on the promise of sustainability.” Indeed, Mr. Nasr said the institute already offers courses on sustainability to all freshman and is asking students to submit ideas for projects.
Sometimes, government chips in. Mr. Fink notes that Phoenix is “the poster child” for the so-called urban heat island effect — the phenomenon in which big cities absorb heat during the day and release it at night, causing temperatures to rise. So his institute has amassed funds from the Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Arizona and some local businesses for a project to see if certain construction materials can alleviate the problem.
Companies are getting into the financing act as well. Unlike traditional partnerships between business and academia, in which companies that provide funds have the right to commercialize any breakthroughs, most of these funds come with no strings attached.
Several years ago Enterprise Rent-a-Car donated $10 million to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis for research on growing crops for food. This year it gave $25 million to create the Enterprise Institute in conjunction with Danforth, to do research into biobased fuels.
“Danforth understands cellulosic research, so they are best positioned to figure out how to make fuel from soy and corn,” said Patrick T. Farrell, vice president for corporate responsibility at Enterprise.
Four companies — ExxonMobil, General Electric, Schlumberger and Toyota — have anted up for the Stanford University Global Climate and Energy Project, which explores new energy technologies. The Shell Oil Foundation has been financing Rice University’s Shell Center for Sustainability since 2002. Wal-Mart has promised money for an Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas.
Berkeley, meanwhile, is using Dow’s gift to set up a Sustainable Products and Solutions Program within its existing Center for Responsible Business. That is in the Haas Business School, but Kellie A. McElhaney, the center’s director, insists the program will draw on Berkeley’s chemists, biologists, financial analysts, policy specialists, even lawyers.
The program is now taking applications for grants from Berkeley students and professors who want to conduct collaborative research into topics like providing clean drinking water or more efficient fuels. And Ms. McElhaney said other companies have expressed willingness to kick in funds.
“Commercialization takes forever if the chemical engineers and the business types do not coordinate,” she said. “So think how much easier it will be for chemistry graduates to work inside a company if they already know how to interact with the business side.”

Hospitals Look to Nuclear Tool to Fight Cancer

For long time Cancer is the vital research fact for researcher,There is a new nuclear arms race under way — in hospitals .
Medical centers are rushing to turn nuclear particle accelerators, formerly used only for exotic physics research, into the latest weapons against cancer.
Some experts say the push reflects the best and worst of the nation’s market-based health care system, which tends to pursue the latest, most expensive treatments — without much evidence of improved health — even as soaring costs add to the nation’s economic burden.
The machines accelerate protons to nearly the speed of light and shoot them into tumors. Scientists say proton beams are more precise than the X-rays now typically used for radiation therapy, meaning fewer side effects from stray radiation and, possibly, a higher cure rate.
But a 222-ton accelerator — and a building the size of a football field with walls up to 18-feet thick in which to house it — can cost more than $100 million. That makes a proton center, in the words of one equipment vendor, “the world’s most expensive and complex medical device.”
Until 2000, the United States had only one hospital-based proton therapy center. Now there are five, with more than a dozen others announced. Still more are under consideration.
Some experts say there is a vast need for more proton centers. But others contend that an arms race mentality has taken hold, as medical centers try to be first to take advantage of the prestige — and the profits — a proton site could provide.
“I’m fascinated and horrified by the way it’s developing,” said Dr. Anthony L. Zietman, a radiation oncologist at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, which operates a proton center. “This is the dark side of American medicine.”
Once hospitals have made such a huge investment, experts like Dr. Zietman say, doctors will be under pressure to guide patients toward proton therapy when a less costly alternative might suffice.
Similar cost concerns were expressed in the past about other new technology like M.R.I. scanners. While those have become accepted staples of medical practice, there is still concern about their overuse and the impact on medical spending.
Dr. Zietman said that while protons were vital in treating certain rare tumors, they were little better than the latest X-ray technology in dealing with prostate cancer, the common disease that many proton centers are counting on for business.
“You can scarcely tell the difference between them except in price,” he said. Medicare pays about $50,000 to treat prostate cancer with protons, almost twice as much as with X-rays.
Proponents, however, are adamant that proton centers provide better treatment.
“It all comes down to the physics,” said Dr. Jerry D. Slater, the head of radiation medicine at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Southern California. “Every X-ray beam I use puts most of the dose where I don’t want it.” By contrast, he said, proton beams put most of the dose in the tumor.
Loma Linda built the nation’s first hospital-based proton center in 1990 and has treated about 13,000 patients. Its success has inspired others.
Companies have sprung up to help finance, build and operate the proton centers. In some cases, local and state governments, seeking to attract medical tourists, have chipped in. Such financing is allowing proton centers to be built by community hospitals or groups of physicians.
One of the biggest and most costly projects, with a bill exceeding $140 million, is being undertaken by Hampton University in Virginia, a historically black college that does not have a medical school.
“Here at Hampton we dream no small dreams,” said William R. Harvey, the president. He said a proton center would help African-Americans, who have higher rates of some cancers than whites. And he said a medical school was not needed — that doctors would be hired to run the outpatient center.
Some of the planned centers will be very close together, raising the odds of overcapacity. Two proton centers are planned for Oklahoma City, for example, and two more in the western suburbs of Chicago.
The institutions building the centers say there is a need for many more of them. The existing centers, which collectively can treat only several thousand patients a year, are turning people away. And patients who are accepted often have to spend weeks in a city far from their homes.
Proponents say that more than 800,000 Americans — representing nearly two-thirds of new cancer cases — undergo radiation therapy each year. If only 250,000 of them could benefit from protons, they would fill more than 100 centers.
“If they built one across the street I wouldn’t worry about it,” said James D. Cox, chief of radiation oncology at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, which opened a $125 million proton center last year.
X-rays, which are high-energy electromagnetic waves, pass through the body, depositing their energy all along the way, not just in the tumor. By contrast, protons — subatomic particles with a positive electrical charge — can be made to stop on the tumor and dump most of their payload there.
Tumors in or near the eye, for instance, can be eradicated by protons without destroying vision or irradiating the brain. Protons are also valuable for treating tumors in brains, necks and spines, and tumors in children, who are especially sensitive to the side effects of radiation.

When 10-year-old Brooke Bemont was about to undergo X-ray treatment for a brain tumor last summer, a doctor warned her mother, “Do not plan on your daughter ever going to Harvard.” The radiation would damage Brooke’s mental capacity, she said.
So the family, from St. Charles, Ill., spent five weeks in Boston as Brooke was treated with protons at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. “If there was a potential to save even a little of her brain tissue, there was no question that we would do it,” said Christal Bemont, Brooke’s mother. She added that Brooke was now apparently cancer-free and doing fairly well.
Head, spine and childhood cancers are rare, though. Most people undergoing proton treatment are men with localized prostate cancer.
Proton therapy can help avoid the worst side effects, like impotence, by exposing the bladder and rectum of a prostate patient to less radiation than X-rays. The stray radiation, though, from the newest form of X-rays, called intensity-modulated radiation therapy, is already low, diminishing any advantages from proton therapy.
“There are no solid clinical data that protons are better” said Dr. Theodore S. Lawrence, the chairman of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan. “If you are going to spend a lot more money, you want to make sure the patient can detect an improvement, not just a theoretical improvement.”
An economic analysis by researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia found that proton treatment would be cost-effective for only a small subset of prostate cancer patients.
Lack of data aside, men are flocking to proton treatment.
“I’m 67 years old, and the last thing I want to do is wear a diaper for the rest of my life,” said Pete Freeman of Spokane, Wash., who was undergoing treatment at Loma Linda.
Some men hear about proton therapy from the Brotherhood of the Balloon, a group of 3,000 men who have had the treatment. (A balloon is inserted into the rectum and filled with water to immobilize the prostate during treatment.)
The organization, which now gets some financial support from Loma Linda, was founded by Robert J. Marckini, a former Loma Linda patient who calls himself Proton Bob.
At Loma Linda, prostate cancer treatment requires about two months of daily sessions. The actual irradiation, which the patient does not feel, takes only about a minute. Most men with early prostate cancer have no symptoms from their disease and many say the treatment has few immediate side effects, other than fatigue and an urgency to urinate.
“We go have our treatments, and we go out and play golf,” said Harold J. Phillips, an accountant from Tacoma who was being treated recently at Loma Linda.
Doctors are also learning how to use protons to treat lung and breast cancer. And over time, doctors say, costs should come down as the technology improves and it becomes more routine to build and operate proton centers. One company is trying to develop a $20 million proton system and has received orders from several hospitals.
On the horizon is therapy using beams of carbon ions, which are said to be even more powerful in killing tumors. Touro University says it will build a combined proton and carbon therapy center outside San Francisco, to open as early as 2011. The Mayo Clinic is also seriously considering one. Such centers will cost even more — as much as $300 million.

Find here

Home II Large Hadron Cillider News