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Monday, September 3, 2007

India to enter the arena of 2.5 billion dollar satellite launch business.

The 49 metre long rocket carrying 2,130 heavy satellite blasted off from Sriharikota island at 6:20 two hours late of the scheduled time due to the signal problem at the third cryogenic stage. As the rocket was just about to lift off the signal from the ground system failed to come some seconds ago.

INSAT-4CR replaced INSAT-4C which was destroyed last year in July after some technical failure. The satellite has 12 wideband channels or transponders significant in providing services in telecommunications, television broadcasting and meteorology. This is to be known that internet congestion has become common phenomenon due to increased traffic.

This was the fifth launch of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle series rocket. In April ISRO also launched an Italian satellite for the first time charging fees for it stepping in commercial launch market. Till yet space technology has not been used commercially at extensive level barring few cases.

Amid the hopes for future and fears of the past the successful launch of the largest domestic communication satellite system of Asia, INSAT-4CR (INSAT series) by the GSLV FO4 on Sunday laid down the path for India to enter the arena of 2.5 billion dollar satellite launch business.

This successful launch not only opened the door of global satellite launch business but will also cater to the upward-moving domestic telecommunications demand. ISRO Chairman told that they are receiving enquiries from foreign customers.

ISRO chairman, G Madhavan Nair expressed a sigh of relief over Sunday's successful launch and said that Indian rockets are as reliable as any other launch vehicle in the world.

He termed the whole phenomenon as high drama. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated ISRO Chairman.

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INSAT-4CR promises a boost to digital communications.
Promising a boost to digital communications in India, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched its latest communications satellite, Insat-4CR yesterday.

Facing a series of delays caused by technical glitches, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV-F04 lifted off at 6.20 p.m. from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota, India.

Around 17 minutes after launch, and about 5,000 Km from the launch station, the vehicle placed India's INSAT-4CR into the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).

Though the fifth flight of the 49m tall GSLV, it was the fourth successful one. The second operational flight, GSLV-F02, with INSAT-4C on board, carried on July 10, 2006, did not succeed.

The third satellite in the INSAT-4 series, INSAT-4CR, weighs 2,130 Kg and has a lifespan of 10 years. Carrying 12 high-power Ku-band transponders, the communication satellite is expected to boost direct-to-home (DTH) television broadcasts, Video Picture Transmission (VPT) and Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) in India.

INSAT-4CR is now orbiting the Earth in GTO with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 168 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 34,710 km with an orbital inclination of 20.7 degree with respect to the equator, ISRO officials revealed.

INSAT-4CR was developed by ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore with a cost of Rs. 150 crore, while, the GSLV was designed and developed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. The cost of the vehicle was Rs. 160 crore.

The satellite will be monitored by the ground station of the ISTRAC located in the Indonesian island of Biak. Further, the ground stations at Lake Cowichan (Canada), Fucino (Italy) and Beijing (China) along with the Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka will monitor the wellbeing of the satellite and its orbit raising operations.

In the days to come, INSAT-4CR's orbit will be raised from its present elliptical GTO to the final Geostationary Orbit (GSO) by firing the satellite's Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) in stages. There, it will be co-located with KALPANA-1, INSAT-3C and EDUSAT.

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Designing a basic Asterisk VoIP system for SIP clients

Designing a basic Asterisk VoIP system for SIP clients

Asterisk is becoming an increasingly popular way for organisations to deploy voice over IP (VoIP) without making a huge investment in proprietary systems. One of the major hurdles to get over when deploying Asterisk is to learn how the different configuration files work together and how to configure the system to answer phones.

In this article, I'm going to explain some of the core concepts that are involved in assembling a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based Asterisk Soft PBX environment. By the end of this article, you will have a fully functional Asterisk environment capable of SIP client transactions with voicemail features.

Author's note

For this article, I'll be using Gentoo Linux. Traditionally, Gentoo has a reputation for being difficult to install, but this is no longer true. A Gentoo Live CD install is available from, which makes installation a snap. I chose Gentoo instead of a more familiar distribution, such as Ubuntu, because a build environment for Asterisk already exists for Gentoo. Asterisk can run on OSX and virtually any other Unix-based OS. However, if you choose to use another distribution, the install process may be more complex, and you may have to manually compile Asterisk.

If you're using Ubuntu or a distribution that doesn't have a native Asterisk build ready for it, there is quite a bit of leg work you must do first. First, you will need to install additional utilities, such as gcc, automake, cvs, g++, libncurses5-dev, libssl-dev, slib1g-dev, build-essential, autoconf, bison, flex, and libtool. After these are installed, you will have the proper build environment to download libpri, zaptel and Asterisk sources and compile them. There are instructions available on Asterisk's website that outline this process in detail.

For the purposes of this article, we will be using Asterisk 1.2. The other version available is Asterisk 1.4, which has many new features but is still in beta.

Getting ready

Before you begin installation, you need to do a little prep work to your system. The first thing you'll need to do is update your portage repository. To do this, access a shell or terminal to the server. Once at the command prompt, change to SuperUser or root using the command su-.

Now you have a root session. Continue by typing emerge -sync, as shown in Figure A. Your machine will begin downloading and updating to the latest ebuilds. Once the sync is complete, you'll be returned to your shell prompt, as shown in Figure B.

Figure A: Get the latest builds by using the emerge command

Figure B: The latest updates download and install on your computer. You'll return to the command prompt

The next step is to edit the /etc/portage/package.use file so you can set the USE flags for the Asterisk ebuilds. If this file doesn't exist, create it. After it is created, add the following use flag inside the package.use file:

net-misc/asterisk curl doc h323 odbc pri speex zaptel

as seen in Figure C.

Figure C: You need to add this line to the package.use file

This will tell emerge to build Asterisk with support for all the features you'll be using for your configuration. As you can see, it includes the download instruction for the Zaptel driver. This is the driver that will support your Digium PRI card, as well as Sonoma and Rhino PRI cards. If you are using a card not supported by the Zaptel driver, you will need to contact your manufacturer to find out which driver you need to install.

At this stage, you can run the emerge -pv net-misc/asterisk command, which will allow you to preview which packages are going to be installed and what flags will be implemented by each build, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D: Check the packages to be installed and any flags

To exit the preview and begin the build process, just enter emerge net-misc/asterisk and the build process will begin, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E: The Asterisk build process completes

Asterisk concepts to know

While Asterisk is compiling, we'll explain some core concepts that you should be familiar with before you begin configuring your system. Don't forget that Asterisk is essentially a framework for VoIP telephony, and you'll build upon this framework to develop your office PBX.


If Asterisk is a framework, then extensions can almost be referred to as a programming language. Like programming languages, your extensions become the step-by-step instructions of what your dial plan will do. The dial plan is the overall configuration of the extensions and the processes they create. Your dial plan is what will make or break the functionality and security of your PBX configuration, so it is imperative that care is taken to ensure a good telephony experience for you and your customers. Otherwise, now would be a good time to hire that extra secretary to handle the hate-mail your users will send you.

Extension definitions are stored in the file named extensions.conf. This file contains all the routing information for your incoming and outgoing calls. There are three main sections to the file: globals, contexts and macros. Globals contain all of your global configuration data for your extensions. I'll get to macros and contexts a little later.

An extension definition is comprised of three comma separated parts, prefixed with exten =>. This prefix tells Asterisk that we are beginning an extension definition. The format for an extension looks like this:

exten => extension,priority,command(paramiters)
This may seem confusing, but let's look at a sample extension configuration for an after-hours message that you might use if the office is closed.

exten => 123,1,Answer
exten => 123,2,Playback(office-is-closed.gsm)
exten => 123,3,Hangup
Let's break this down. First, the extension is within a context labelled office. This office context may be comprised of many different extensions, or even other contexts, which is something you'll be getting more familiar with as we progress. The first line (exten =>123,1,Answer) says that when extension 123 is called, Asterisks should answer this line. The second line executes the Playback command and passes the argument of the audio file that should be played to the caller. After the message has played, the third line of the extension indicates that Asterisks should hang up the line and disconnect the caller from the phone system.


The next term to familiarise yourself with is contexts. Contexts are every bit as important to understand as the extensions they manage. A context is similar to an Access Control List (ACL). If the extension is the conduit of flow, then the context would be the divider that contains the flow. A context is what controls which extensions can be dialled and what features of the phone system are accessible. Let's look at another example.

exten => 200,1,Dial(SIP/200,20)
exten => 200,2,Voicemail(200)
exten => 200,3,Hangup
exten => 201,1,Dial(SIP/201,20)
exten => 201,2,Voicemail(201)
exten => 201,3,Hangup

exten => 300,1,Dial(SIP/300,20)
exten => 300,2,Voicemail(300)
exten => 300,3,Hangup
This example introduces two contexts; office and warehouse. Each extension is instructed to dial the extension's SIP phone, to forward the call to voicemail if it remains unanswered for 20 seconds, and then to hang up. Notice in this example that extension 200 in the office context can call extension 201, but it is not able to dial to extension 300, because that extension resides in the warehouse context.


Now that you're familiar with contexts, let's look at Macros. Macros are a context that begin with macro- in the context definition (i.e., [macro-dialExtension]). Once initiated, a macro will jump to the "s" extension. From here, you can begin a normal priority list of instructions.

Let's take the example from above and build on it. This time, however, we do not want to tell the caller that the office is closed; rather, we want to attempt to make the extension live and connect it with a real person.

A macro is initiated through the macro command:

exten => 123,1,Answer
exten => 123,2,Macro(dialExtension,123,SIP/123)
exten => 123,3,Hangup
Our dialExtension macro requires two parameters to be passed to it. First, the extension you are attempting to dial, and then the device the extension's endpoint is at.

exten => s,1,Dial(${ARG2},20)
exten => s,2,Voicemail(${ARG1})
Looking at this example, you may notice that there isn't an extension defined. As you know, a context can only call an extension that is defined within itself. At the same time however, callers can be forwarded to another context via the goto command or a dial command to a device can be executed.

To illustrate this, let's say you have an automated call directory for a credit card company. The system prompts the caller to enter their credit card number, then a macro called verifycreditcard executes, which plays a message to the caller replaying the entered information and asking the customer to press 1 if correct, or 2 to re-enter the information. In that circumstance 1 and 2 would be extensions, but only the verifycreditcard macro is able to access them. The caller is not able to dial any other extensions that may be present outside of the macro.

Designing the system

Now that you have a basic understanding of extensions, contexts, and macros, you can begin designing your phone system. For the purposes of this article, we are going to be using T1 PRI line using with a Digium T100 PCI card and using SIP phone clients, which can be either hard or soft phones.

Now it's time to begin setting up the office phone system using your freshly built Asterisk Soft PBX. Since you have a general understanding of how extensions work with contexts, you'll be able to safely configure your phones to call each other, and eventually the outside world.

In this example, we'll plan to have three SIP client phones connecting to a 24-channel T1 PRI card. You'll be using a network interface card to connect to a network switch which your SIP hard phones are wired to through standard Cat5 cable. There are many methods for wiring your VoIP phones together, including PoE switches and separate networks dedicated for VoIP solutions; however, one big advantage of using VoIP is that you can use your existing network.

Before we dive in, it is important to remember that all the Asterisk configuration files are well-organised and logically named. For example, extensions are defined in the extensions.conf file, and SIP clients in the sip.conf file.

SIP clients
Naturally, you'll need something to talk to on the other end of the call, so first you'll need a SIP client. These can be software applications that run on your computer like Kiax, Kphone, or SJPhone.

We'll be working with the sip.conf file, so you can open it using any text editor You'll see a file similar to the one in Figure F.

Figure F: Edit sip.conf using any text editor

The first thing you need to be aware of is that the SIP service needs to be configured. You'll find it under the heading [general]. Here you can define what port we want the SIP clients to access (default is 5060), bind address and various other options.

To prevent any outside connections to your SIP service, change the option for bindaddr in your sip.conf file under the [general] section to bind SIP to your internal IP address on your network card.

Another important option to be aware of is the context that the incoming SIP connections will be placed in. This can be different from your SIP clients, which can be configured individually. In this example, we know that SIP connections are only going to be coming from an internal network, so it makes no sense to host SIP services on an external T1 connection.

Here is your general configuration thus far for sip.conf:

srvlookup=yes ; to allow for calling other sip clients over the Internet
musicclass=default ; for on hold music
Before we can begin to use your phone system, you need to make it accessible to your phones, commonly referred to as clients. In this example, this would be the phones at the office. To do this, we need to edit the sip.conf file again. Below is a configuration for Joe's telephone at extension 212.

callerid=("Joe" <212>)
To begin with, we see the declaration of the SIP device name contained in the square brackets [212]. Let's break down each of the parameters and what they mean to your SIP device.

Type: This value will define what the relationship to the Asterisk server is. Available options: user, peer, and friend.
Username: The username the SIP client will use when authenticating.
Secret: The password the SIP client must provide along with the username to authenticate with SIP service.
Allow: The possible codec that the voice transaction will be on for the device. Before allowing any codec, you should first deny all others.
CallerID: This is the string we want your caller ID to appear as when calling someone else.
Host: This will determine the phone's hostname. If set to dynamic, the phone will register with the SIP server. Other options are either to enter the hostname or IP address of the phone.
Mailbox: Defines a mailbox and context to associate the SIP client with (more on this later).

Now we are going to replicate the previous configuration, only for your other clients in the office.

callerid=("Bob" <213>)

You should note that the only thing that changed is the extension that we are calling. As you can now tell, setting up SIP clients is really a simple process.

Extensions revisited

Now that we have SIP clients configured to authenticate to the Asterisk SIP service, we need to route and connect your SIP clients to each other. To do this, we need to begin modifying the extensions.conf configuration file. As with the sip.conf file, you can edit extensions.conf with any text editor, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G: You can edit extensions.conf using any text editor.

For our example, add the following configuration:

exten => 212,1,Dial('SIP/212',20)
exten => 212,n,Voicemail(212)
exten => 212,n,Hangup
exten => 213,1,Dial('SIP/213',20)
exten => 213,n,Voicemail(213)
exten => 213,n,Hangup
Both extensions are ready to talk to each other. The extension directly dials the SIP device for 20 seconds and then forwards the user to voicemail; then we disconnect.


You've probably been wondering how we go about getting your voicemail up and running. It's actually pretty simple; first, you'll need to edit your voicemail.conf file. In this we have the normal series of [general] configuration options, followed by your context definitions. Be sure to set the voicemail format to record in .mp3, .gsm, and .wav formats. This is done by recording the following option under the [general] section.

format = wav49|gsm|wav
Voicemail definitions follow a familiar format:

extension => Password, Real Name, Email Address, Pager Email Address, user options
In your example, we are going to setup a mailbox for each of your users. For this, at the end of the voicemail.conf file, you'll want to add the following:

212 => 456,Joe Smith,
213 => 789,Bob Barker,
Now, whenever Bob receives a new voicemail, a .mp3 copy will be emailed to

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Complete Automation Package for New SCA Tissue Project

Complete Automation Package for New SCA Tissue Project

August 24, 2007 Voith Paper: SCA Tissue North America has selected Voith Paper Automation to supply the complete automation package for the new tissue project at the Barton, Alabama / USA mill.

Complete Automation Package for New SCA Tissue Project

SCA Tissue North America has selected Voith Paper Automation to supply the complete automation package for the new tissue project at the Barton, Alabama / USA mill.

Voith Paper Automation will supply an OnQuality quality control system for the new TM14, along with an OnControl distributed control system (DCS) for the 350 tons per day mixed office waste deinking system, the approach flow system, water clarification, and the new 5.5 m crescent former tissue machine. The machine will have a design speed of 2,000 m/min. Included in the package is Rockwell's Low Voltage Drive package.

"We chose the combination of Voith Paper Automation and Rockwell Automation because we felt their equipment and technology was the best currently available in terms of accuracy, an intuitive operator interface, and the ability to self-maintain," stated Mark Phiscator, SCA Tissue Director of Engineering and Technology. "Furthermore, Voith Paper's business is paper, so there is a lot of synergies and embedded technologies available."

SCA is a worldwide leader in the manufacture of tissue. The Barton mill currently manufactures 100,000 tons of tissue each year. With the new machine, annual production will increase to 170,000 tons. Start-up of the new machine is planned for late summer of 2008.

Voith Paper is a division of Voith and one of the leading partners to the paper industry. Through steady innovations Voith Paper optimizes the paper production process. More than a third of worldwide paper production is produced on Voith Paper machines.

Voith sets standards in the paper, energy, mobility and service markets. Founded on January 1, 1867, it has a current workforce of approx. 34,000, sales of EUR 3.7 billion and over 250 locations worldwide, and is one of the largest family-owned enterprises in Europe.

Voith is the official partner to the initiative "Germany - The Land of Ideas".

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Learn about investment of the Nanotech Revolution .

Learn about investment of the Nanotech Revolution .

Tags: nanotechnology nanotec

Learn about investment strategies designed to help you take full advantage of the Nanotech Revolution

Sign up Today for Your Free Subscription to Nanotech Investor News!
Enter your e-mail address in the box at the top right of the page and click "sign up now" to begin your FREE bi-weekly advisory.

Find out from our scientific experts which nanotech stocks have genuine profit-potential.


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As interest in nanotechnology stocks soars in the coming months, there will be many new nanotech stocks offered to the public.

Nanotech Investor News's goal is to make sure its readers don't fall for 'The Next Big Thing' hype again. With contributions from some of the nation's top financial analysts and the world's premier science journal New Scientist, you'll stay abreast of who is doing what on the leading edge of high tech.

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Mobile games consoles pose security threat

Mobile games consoles pose security threat

Pssst... you in the coffee shop with the laptop! See that person fiddling with their PlayStation Portable? They may be spying on which sites you are surfing.

Hackers have known for years that game consoles can be made to accept a different operating system, such as Linux, and used as an ordinary PC. Now a host of portable consoles, including the PSP, have added a new possibility. They connect to any open Wi-Fi access point in range, allowing the attacker to then use "packet-sniffing" programs to snoop on traffic or direct viruses at any other computer on the network.

"Can we really assume that people are just playing video games on these things?" asks Theresa Verity (aka Squidly1), a hacker in Florida who prefers the PSP to the Nintendo DS because of its more powerful antenna.

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Global Dispatches

Global Dispatches

British Ministry Delays IT Project

LONDON - The U.K. Ministry of Justice last week said the rollout of its Libra case management computer system to 370 Magistrates' Courts is now expected to start late next year. This is the latest in a series of delays for the troubled project.

In a report on the state of the effort, Alex Allan, permanent secretary of the ministry, blamed "a number of external factors" for the delay, including supplier problems and the need to rewrite some applications.

Development of the system began in 1998, and an earlier effort to roll it out was halted in February.

The estimated cost of the system, set at £146 million ($290 million U.S.) in 1998, is now £950 million ($1.9 billion U.S.), according to the ministry. -- Tash Shifrin, Computerworld UK

Stolen U.K. Server Held Police Data

SEVENOAKS, England - A database containing administrative data and case files from multiple U.K. police forces has been stolen from a company that carries out forensic investigations for police departments across the U.K.

Forensic Telecommunications Services Ltd. acknowledged last week that the files were stored on a server stolen from its headquarters here during a break-in on Aug. 7.

The company said the theft will not "compromise ongoing police operations." A Scotland Yard spokesman added that the theft is not likely to "have any serious impact on current or historic investigations." -- Tash Shifrin, Computerworld UK

Briefly Noted

Reuters Group PLC has awarded a 10-year, £500 million ($991 million U.S.) outsourcing contract to Fujitsu Ltd. The agreement calls for Tokyo-based Fujitsu to run the bulk of London-based Reuters' internal IT operation from facilities in Lisbon and Kuala Lumpur.

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'Bigger' key word for new model 2008 Toyota Highlander

Bigger' key word for new model 2008 Toyota Highlander

Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. unveil the all-new Highlander and Highlander hybrid mid-size sport utility vehicles at a press conference at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show.

Bigger, bigger, bigger, Toyota says about the redesigned 2008 Highlander.

The insides grew. Weight is up 300 pounds. Body is 4 inches longer, 3 inches wider, an inch taller than the old one.

Power is way up, and fuel economy in the gasoline models is better by 1 mile per gallon - remarkable given the additional weight and the bigger engine.

Just doing what customers ask, Toyota says.

Prices are bigger, too. The gasoline model is up a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars. Hybrids are up a couple hundred to more than $3,000.

Yet the new Highlander remains on the small end of the midsize SUV spectrum. Though wider than the Honda Pilot, Highlander seats fewer, has a little less interior room and a lot less cargo space behind the third row.

Toyota is constructing a $1.3 billioin plant that will build the Highlander in Mississippi starting in 2010.

The enlarged exterior improves space generously for first- and second-row occupants, but the new Highlander offers fractionally less cargo room behind the third-row seat than the old one, and slightly less legroom for third-row passengers.

The marquee feature on the new Highlander, standard on all models, is what Toyota calls the Center Stow seat. Clever idea, clumsy execution.

The middle section of the second-row seat unlatches and stows under the center console between the front bucket seats, leaving the second-row with semi-bucket seats. You can leave the gap between them as a kid-size aisle to the kid-size third row. Or you can fill it with a latch-in tray that has cup holders and covered storage.

When the center seat section is removed, it leaves visible slots where its hardware attaches. Looks ugly and unfinished. Even if you snap in the tray to cover the lower attaching slots, there's still an upper slot glaring at you. Still, better to have such a convenience than not.

That middle seat is firmer than the left and right seats in the second row, and narrower. But it felt reasonably comfortable in the test vehicles. And three, uh, full-grown gents fit across the second row without serious crowding.

The Center Stow system is one of several features that, however well-meant, fail to prove Toyota's assertion that the interior design theme was "smart." Others:

Only the right side of the second-row seat flops and slides forward to open a path to the third row. If you have your child seat strapped in that spot, you can't open the aisle.

A pull-down strap has been added to the tailgate. But it's small and narrow, and you have to fuss with it to open it wide enough to get your fingers in.

The third row continues to fold as a single unit. You can't flop half of it down to expand the scarce cargo space.

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Verizon lab ensures network works

Verizon lab ensures network works

Wireless company tests every device for compatibility

When you turn on your wireless phone, you probably don't care much about what happens behind the scenes.

But the engineers at the newly expanded Verizon Wireless Test Lab here sweat the details. Their job is to test the latest models of wireless devices, everything from telephones and personal digital assistants to wireless earpieces, before they are sold.

"We have customers who expect a certain experience, and we have to verify that (the device) is going to provide that experience," said Lou LaMedica, the lab's director.

Verizon unveiled its ex panded national test lab earlier this month. The 11,000-square-foot laboratory is four times its original size.

Each year, engineers at the lab:

• Review more than 300 manufacturer submissions and about 85 individual devices.

• Perform as many as 100 tests per device with many undergoing multiple rounds of review.

• Verify up to 4.2 million lines of software code per device.

"We can have the best network in the world, but if that network doesn't have a quality device interfacing to the hu man ear, then the customer is not going to appreciate the quality of the network," said Dick Lynch, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Verizon Communications.

The point is to test devices to make sure they operate in virtually any circumstance. For instance, if a phone "gets dropped a few times, we still want to make sure it works for the customer," Lynch said.

Beyond durability, the engineers also test voice call quality and the phone's ability to download data, such as video clips or games, and play music. The resolution of a cell phone camera also is checked.

It's a far cry from when people just used a wireless phone to make a telephone call. Back in 2000, text messaging wasn't nearly as popular as it is today, Lynch said.

Rooms look like vaults

Many of the lab rooms re semble vaults and are lined with metal to keep unwanted signals out and test signals in.

In one laboratory, engineers have placed a lifelike mannequin head and torso, known as "Mr. Head," in a soundproof booth. It is outfitted with $5,000 ears that funnel sound, just as human ears do, to test handset microphone volume and clarity.

Another series of tests determines a phone's ability to find the network when it is turned on. A phone must connect to Verizon's network or one belonging to roaming partners.

"We sell them (customers) a nationwide one-rate plan," LaMedica said. "We have to be able to prove that it works."

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Flannery sets deadline to save world

Flannery sets deadline to save world Australian scientist Tim Flannery said the world still had "one to two decades" to take action to reduce global warming, despite one of Britain's best-known environmentalists warning that the world has already passed the point of no return on global warming.

In what The Independent described as the bleakest assessment yet of the effects of climate change by a leading scientist, Professor James Lovelock said billions would die by the end of the century, and civilisation as we know it would be unlikely to survive.

But Dr Flannery believes there is still time to turn the situation around.

"We have set change in motion and that change will take about 100 to 200 years to wash its way through the system - even if we stopped greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow," said Dr Flannery, who is director of the South Australian Museum and author of climate book The Weather Makers.

"I don't think we've yet reached that point where we are tipping the world's climate into a new regime.

"We've got maybe one to two decades to address the issue."

Dr Flannery's comments are based on his own studies and he is now reviewing Professor Lovelock's research.

But he warned that there had already been significant changes to the world's climate.

"We've already raised the temperature of the planet by between 0.6 or 0.7 of a degree," he said.

"That's had a large impact in terms of rainfall patterns worldwide, breeding patterns of species, [their] migration and distribution, and of course it initiated the melting of the north polar icecaps."

And if this global warming continues, Dr Flannery has equally catastrophic predictions for humanity.

"Once we get to two degrees of warming, we will initiate change that human civilisation, as we now know it, can't survive," he said.

"Sea levels will rise too rapidly for us to adjust and it's likely that extreme weather events will become so widespread and severe that our infrastructure won't survive and changes in rainfall and ocean circulation will bring about a collapse in world food production."

Professor Lovelock, who in the 1970s coined the Gaia thesis that the Earth is a single organism, called on governments to start making preparations for a "hell of a climate" in which, by 2100, Europe and southern Australia would be 8 degrees hotter than they are today.

"The few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic, where the climate remains tolerable," Professor Lovelock wrote in The Independent.

The scientist makes his predictions in a new book, The Revenge of Gaia, which argues that the feedback mechanisms that used to keep the Earth cooler than it would otherwise be are now working to amplify warming caused by human CO2 emissions. "

Sadly I cannot see the United States or the economies of China and India cutting back in time and they are the main source of CO2 emissions."

Professor Lovelock is a controversial but respected scientist who gave a briefing on global warming in 1989 to the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. Two years ago he caused a furore in the environment movement by urging greens to embrace nuclear power to reduce global warming gases.

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Sunburnt land has plenty of energy in store

Sunburnt land has plenty of energy in store

IN the 1970s, Australia was leading the world on developing solar technologies. It was driven out of practical necessity rather than some particular vision for a clean energy future.

Back then, organisations such as Telecom and Australian National Railways needed to supply electricity to signal points, phone boxes and other remote infrastructure.

In many cases solar was the cheapest and most efficient means, pioneering Australian technology development ahead of the world.

Australia is still a sunburned country with some of the best solar assets in the world.

In 2004, a federal Government energy futures white paper identified three low-emission energy technologies for which Australia had the potential to exploit a comparative advantage: carbon capture and storage, geothermal and solar.

Solar energy has been idolised for decades as being the perfect energy source: abundant, clean, quiet and still. It does have an annoying habit of switching off at night, but all energy can be stored. For instance solar electricity could be used to pump water up hill and released to run turbines at night.

The real constraint is cost.

Just as fossil fuels such as coal and oil are cheap because they are highly dense forms of energy, solar is more expensive because it is more diffuse and the race is on to capture this energy more efficiently and to bring the cost of the technology down to where it can compete with other supply sources.

Best known are the heavily subsidised black photovoltaic cells found on house rooftops that act like mini-peak load power stations, augmenting household demand during the day, when demand is greatest.

Pioneered at the University of NSW, the cells are very simple technology: the sun's rays hit thin slices of silicon creating an electrical current that is captured by integrated circuits and delivered as electricity.

BP Solar bought out Australian manufacturers Solarex and Tideland and it now manufactures panels at Homebush in Sydney for the domestic and Asian markets, competing with imports mainly from Japan and Germany.

Typical silicon cells can convert about 15 per cent of solar energy into electricity, and purer silicon achieves higher efficiencies but at a higher cost.

World prices for solar-grade silicon have been pushed up with strong global demand and competition with the microchip industry, which uses the same material. Although spot prices have reached up to $300/kg, prices are expected to ease as supply increases in the next year.

The silicon accounts for about half the cost of a photovoltaic solar panel but cell manufacturers have been driving down cost by slicing the silicon thinner.

BP Solar uses cells of about 200 microns thick, butsome technologies in Europe have got this down to 140.

Applying technology developed by the Australian National University, Origin Energy has a $20 million pilot plant in Adelaide that is trying to commercialise sliver-cell technology.

Silicon cells are cut sideways to produce flexible and very thin slivers of about 50 microns thick, allowing more light to hit the silicon when installed, thereby increasing its operating efficiency, but so far about a third of the silicon is wasted in the cutting process.

Dyesol, a publicly listed company at Goulburn in NSW, is developing lower-cost technology using dye and pigment, instead of silicon, to create a weaker electrical current when hit by sunlight.

Described by the company as artificial photosynthesis, the technology is less energy intensive in manufacturing and, because of its lower cost, can be embedded directly into building materials.

It will be more competitive if silicon prices remain high or as it drives costs down and efficiencies up.

Solar is also being developed to replicate large-scale electricity from power stations and Melbourne company Solar Systems received a $75 million grant from the federal Government last September to build a 154MW solar power station near Mildura in north-west Victoria. The plant would be about one-sixth the size of a typical coal fired power plant.

Solar Systems plans on installing more expensive but more efficient Gallium Arsenide photovoltaic cells, but plans on squeezing more energy out of them by installing them on high towers and surrounding them with almost 20,000 angled mirrors called heliostats.

These will track the sun through the day, concentrating solar energy 500 times stronger on to the high-performance cells, but will need sophisticated cooling technology to keep the cells operating efficiently. An aspirational goal for the technology is to deliver electricity at about $50/mW-hour in the same range as natural gas.

Cloud cover reduces the efficiency of photovoltaic cells by 90 per cent and is even lower for concentrated solar, making location crucial to keep efficiency up and costs down.

Adelaide company Green and Gold Energy also has developed a solar concentrator technology called Sun Cube, which uses Fresnel lenses, found in car headlights, to concentrate sunlight on to high-efficiency cells.

The company has just placed an order for $24million worth of cells to build solar farms by 2009, manufacturing of the units to be completed in China.

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MIT invents 'lab on a chip' to automate whole-animal genetic and drug screens

August 2007.

Genetic studies on whole animals can now be done dramatically faster using a new microchip developed by engineers at MIT.

The new "lab on a chip" can automatically treat, sort and image small animals like the 1-millimeter C. elegans worm, accelerating research and eliminating human error, said Mehmet Yanik, MIT assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

Yanik and his colleagues described their device in the advance online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of Aug. 20. "Lab on a chip" technologies are being developed to sort and image individual cells, but this is the first device that can be used to study whole animals.

C. elegans is often used in studies designed to identify which genes control which phenotypes, or traits. Researchers traditionally do this by treating them with a mutagen, or by using RNA interference, in which expression of a certain gene is blocked with a small strand of RNA. Such studies normally take months or years to complete. The new chip, which sorts and images worms in milliseconds, dramatically speeds up that process.

"Normally you would treat the animals with the chemicals, look at them under the microscope, one at a time, and then transfer them," Yanik said. "With this chip, we can completely automate that process."

The tiny worms are flowed inside the chip, immobilized by suction and imaged with a high resolution microscope. Once the phenotype is identified, the animals are routed to the appropriate section of the chip for further screening.

The worms can be treated with mutagen, RNAi or drugs before they enter the chip, or they can be treated directly on the chip, using a new, efficient delivery system that loads chemicals from the wells of a microplate into the chip.

"Our technique allows you to transfer the animals into the chip and treat each one with a different gene silencer or a different drug," Yanik said.

Yanik and his colleagues plan to use the chips to continue their research on neural degeneration and regeneration in C. elegans. Yanik and his collaborators had previously demonstrated a high precision femtosecond laser technology to cut axons in living animals and then observe which genes are involved in axon regeneration.

The lead author of the paper is Chris Rohde, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS). Other authors of the paper are Matthew Angel, a graduate student in EECS, Fei Zeng, a postdoctoral fellow in the Research Laboratory of Electronics, and Ricardo Gonzalez-Rubio, a graduate student in biological engineering.

The research was funded by MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics and by the Canadian National Science and Engineering Research Council and the Paul and Daisy Soros Foundation.

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Second Lifers' In-World

A coupe of examples: Sim -- from "simulator," a Linden term for a discrete area of "land," roughly 16 acres large. Poseball -- an object containing a script that causes an avatar to behave a certain way when he comes into contact with it. One online guide refers to a "slouch" chair, for instance, a chair that would put avatars into that posture. says perfume presents personality Ads by perfume strore

So the Second Lifers were in town last weekend, and when I wasn't wondering what's so bad about First Life that drives people to the virtual world, my thoughts turned, as they often do, to the site's linguistic tics. Why, I wondered, is "SL" the accepted abbreviation, rather than the much cooler (to my eye) "2L"?

You can, of course, learn a lot about a place by the words it invents or alters.

The List
Here's a list of site-specific terms I encountered, either at the conference or in researching it, and my best understanding of what they mean:

Rez: Short for "resolve" or "resolution," it refers to the process by which objects in Second Life become clear on your computer. "What I want to know is who is trying" to have sex in Second Life, an attendee at a session on that topic asked, "and still rezzing?" It also refers to the making of an object.

Resident: A unique avatar, or physical representation of the computer user, living in Second Life.

Prim: Short for "primitive," it refers to the 3-D shapes that are the building blocks of objects in Second Life.

The grid: The whole of the Second Life realm.

In-world: Signed on to Second Life, on the grid.

L$: Denotes Linden dollars, the unit of currency in Second Life, currently trading at 265 Linden dollars for US$1. Linden Lab provides the technology to run Second Life.

Sim: From "simulator," a Linden term for a discrete area of "land," roughly 16 acres large.

Poseball: An object containing a script that causes an avatar to behave a certain way when he comes into contact with it. One online guide refers to a "slouch" chair, for instance, a chair that would put avatars into that posture.

Griefer: An anarchic Second Life subculture that delights in messing with what others have built, including via notorious in-world attacks of "gray goo."

Mobile Gadgets Bring Customer Service to Patients' Bedsides

Mobile Gadgets Bring Customer Service to Patients' Bedsides

While many nurses have adopted PDA technology, the broader nursing culture has not historically embraced information technology for several reasons, one of which is that the most commonly used form of healthcare IT -- the desktop computer -- can keep them away from their patients several hours a day.

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With everyone firmly entrenched in the digital age, it is an afterthought for our society to use computers to speed communications, manage repetitive tasks, and make short work of complex calculations. While the benefits of information technology have been widely documented, the irony of a "connected" environment is that it can disconnect us with other people.

With everyone sending e-mails, instant messages and monitoring workflow via performance monitoring software at our desks, we're all talking and physically interacting far less. In healthcare , this "side affect" means that patients interact less with caregivers, employees interact less with supervisors and healthcare professionals engage in far less face-to-face collaboration.

The net result is dissatisfaction for patients, employees and ultimately supervisors. In recent years, healthcare workers have begun to realize that patients measure the competence of caregivers through their interaction with them. Patient satisfaction has been linked to better outcomes, higher employee satisfaction and retention, competitive market strength, better hospital profitability and reduced risk of lawsuits. Is this trade-off between greater technology and less personal interaction one we really want to make?

Convergence of Technology
The good news is we no longer have to compromise due to the convergence of technology that is capable of bringing health professionals back to the bedside. The merger of software and hardware, along with the wireless infrastructure that supports them, enables caregivers to reconnect face-to-face with patients.

Supervisors can now leave the office and improve rapport with their staff, while administrators can return to a more personal style of management by walking around. Physicians can use PDAs (personal digital assistant) throughout the day to facilitate quality patient care, make informed decisions and act on them on the spot.

Intelligent mobile channels let physicians and nurses receive late breaking medical alerts. Metrics for monitoring performance can now be updated in real-time wherever the wireless network exists. Patient documents can be transferred from the computer desktop onto a handheld device or created directly on it.

Likewise, a nurse with a handheld "bed board" can tell a patient in the emergency room how long the wait will be for a bed, while simultaneously informing the intensive care unit charge nurse that several patients can be transferred out of the unit. The nurse can seamlessly move from hospital status to patient-specific information in order to display the number of people working to free up a bed.

Unterhering Healthcare Technology
In the pre-mobile IT days, staying connected to the larger organization meant staying "tethered" to your desk computer while the real action was out on the floor. Mobility enables the very essence of "proactive management" -- preventing the unexpected.

For example, rather than waiting for alarms, alerts and crisis level pleas, supervisors can see patient bottlenecks begin to form and avert a disaster instead of just reacting to it. Rather than tell a frantic unit manager "I'll get back to you," they can expedite a patient transfer, a bed cleaning or a tray delivery while speaking directly with the manager on the floor.

Busy specialists making rounds can transfer patients with a few taps of a handheld device and write discharge orders without losing a step. Multiply these scenarios across many caregivers and many patient units, and the result will be streamlined performance and experience across the board, for all areas. That's why hospitals are unplugging at the highest rate since the creation of the cordless environment.

In addition to PDAs giving nurses quick access to current drug references and medical calculators, they can also record, organize and track patient data as they work, simultaneously sharing data on treatments and assessments.

Today, there are many nursing-specific titles that can be downloaded from the Internet. The near future will bring even more proven solutions from industry-specific vendors that fit the palms, lab coat pockets or clipboards of nursing professionals with PDAs.

The Future Is Now
While many nurses have adopted PDA technology, the broader nursing culture has not historically embraced information technology for several reasons, one of which is that the most commonly used form of healthcare IT -- the desktop computer -- can keep them away from their patients several hours a day.

Tech phobia and frustration also can be barriers, as well as lack of training and the perception that electronic documentation requires extra time.

PDAs can solve the disconnect issue if nurses see them as a device that will enhance their already strong information management skills and reduce the likelihood of medical errors. With prompts, alerts and biometrics, PDAs can help ensure the correct patient gets the correct medication at the correct dosage at the correct time.

One way to do this is to involve nurses during the process of defining the applications, to instill confidence that the technology meets their needs. Too often, nurses are excluded from design and planning, which can lead to systems that fall short of their potential because there is no "buy-in" by the nursing staff. Some of the mobile features nurses want are secure devices, alert alarms, biometric solutions, supervisor alerts, specialty-specific programming and confirmation that physicians have received and acted on critical messages.

A 2005 Harris poll showed 75 percent of Americans like the idea of adopting new medical technologies, such as handheld devices, for reasons of improved care and cost reduction. More than 90 percent of clinicians 35 years of age and under use handheld reference software, according to a 2003 report on trends in mobile computing by Spyglass Consulting Group.

Survey data from 2004 found 57 percent of all U.S. physicians regularly used handhelds, including 73 percent of residents and 71 percent of family/general practitioners. A 2005 survey of nurse practitioner students and faculty by Stroud, et al., found that 67 percent of respondents use this technology.

The importance of enhanced patient care cannot be overstated, especially as healthcare moves toward transparency and an era of healthcare "consumerism." Against that backdrop, patient satisfaction becomes an even more critical measure of performance. Integrated mobile information solutions that put health professionals back in front of the patient can go a long way toward improving that performance and the outcomes.


Next Article in Healthcare: Tackling Mounting Pharma Regulations With Master Data Management

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success of ISRO -INSAT-4CR successfully placed in orbit

PB : Md Moshiur Rahman sponsored by

INSAT-4CR successfully placed in orbit.

SRIHARIKOTA: Overcoming technical snags, ISRO on Sunday successfully placed into orbit its latest communication satellite from the spaceport here, giving a major boost Direct-To-Home television services.

In a textbook launch, the rocket GSLV-F04 carrying INSAT-4CR satellite blasted off at 6:21 pm from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, two hours behind schedule after computers put off the launch following unsatisfactory performance of vent valve of the rocket.

The scientists took about one hour 40 minutes to set right the problem and the rocket was cleared for launch at around 6:00 pm.

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-F04 placed the 2,130 kg satellite into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) at an altitude of 248 kms about 17 minutes after the liftoff.

The 49-metre tall launch vehicle, the fifth in the GSLV series, soared into the space carrying the 2130 kg (415 tonne) satellite which was manoeuvred into the orbit using its own propulsion system.

"It has been an excellent performance of the launch vehicle. There have been a number of critical moments on this happy occasion," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief G Madhavan Nair told reporters here.

INSAT-4CR is a replacement of its earlier version INSAT-4C that was destroyed on July 10 last year when the launch vehicle GSLV-F02 crashed 56 seconds after lift-off due to malfunctioning of a strap-on motor.


The successful launch of the communication satellite INSAT-4CR by the geo-synchronous satellite launch vehicle GSLV F04 on Sunday in Sriharikota is a morale booster for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The organisation is mourning the death of three of its employees in a car accident on August 24. The car in which two senior officials, Rajeev Lochan, scientific secretary, and S Krishnamurthy, director of publications and public relations, met with an accident near the temple town of Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh.

Lochan and driver Chandran died on the spot while Krishnamurthy succumbed to the injuries on Saturday morning.

This apart, the failure of GSLV F02 in July 2006 that carried INSAT-4C was weighing down the minds of ISRO officials.

And the latest launch too had its share of anxious moments for scientists here. It was originally slated for Saturday but was postponed by a day due to inclement weather.

Then the launch was scheduled at 4.21 pm but it was put on hold as the rocket's computers detected some anomalies in the vehicle parameters.

Subsequently, the launch was rescheduled at 6.20 pm. ISRO officials also thought of putting off the launch by a day if the vehicle did not meet the launch book parameters.

However, at the appointed time, the rocket ascended up to complete its duty.

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