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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Intel Goes Social, Launches Digg-Like Site To Spot Trends

Intel Goes Social, Launches Digg-Like Site To Spot Trends

Cool Software is intended to provide Intel with market intelligence rather than to foster a community

Intel on Monday launched social news site called Cool Software to help keep abreast of emerging technology trends.
Cool Software may look at lot like Digg. That's because it's based on Pligg, open source software that allows anyone to run a social news site with Digg-style voting. But Cool Software is intended to provide Intel with market intelligence rather than to foster a community.

"I wouldn't characterize it as getting into social news," said Steve Santamaria, director of Intel's Software and Solutions Group, in an interview. Rather, he said, the site began as an internal project designed to keep Intel personnel informed about new technology and startups.

"I almost flippantly said I want you to find the next Google early," Santamaria said he told his team.

Intel has created other community-oriented sites, like last month, though they tend to cater to developers. In October 2006, it launched the Intel Software Partner Program, a membership-based program for independent software vendors.

While Cool Software was an internal resource, it did provide some valuable insight. Santamaria said it identified Zimbra, a Web 2.0 enterprise e-mail service provider, early on as a company to watch. "It was voted up internally," he said.

Yahoo evidently was thinking along similar lines because it bought Zimbra for $350 million last month.

Having been surprised by the popularity of the site among Intel's manufacturing partners, the company decided to open it to the public. Before it did so, however, it deleted some of the more heated discussions.

"We kind of stripped out some of the commentary ... just in case there was a tension with internal engagement," said Santamaria.

As to why anyone would want to help Intel in its trend-spotting efforts, Santamaria said he thought people would welcome the opportunity to be heard and to influence Intel.

Judging by the top post at the moment, which asks, "Are looking for some diet tips to get in shape?" it seems there's no shortage of people who want to be heard.

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Google And IBM Partner To Push Cloud Computing

To prepare students "to harness the potential of modern computing systems," the companies will provide universities with hardware, software, and services to advance training in large-scale distributed computing.

The two companies aim to reduce the cost of distributed computing research, thereby enabling academic institutions and their students to more easily contribute to this emerging computing paradigm.

"Google is excited to partner with IBM to provide resources which will better equip students and researchers to address today's developing computational challenges," said Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, in a statement. "In order to most effectively serve the long-term interests of our users, it is imperative that students are adequately equipped to harness the potential of modern computing systems and for researchers to be able to innovate ways to address emerging problems." code text

The first university to join the initiative is the University of Washington, located not far from Microsoft's corporate headquarters in Redmond, Wash. Carnegie-Mellon University, MIT, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Maryland are also participating in the program.

"The reason that we're partnering with universities is that Google is an engineering firm," said Christophe Bisciglia, a senior engineer at Google and a former University of Washington student. "We're working with our academic partners to teach [large-scale distributed computing] to students."

The fundamental architecture of computing is changing, Bisciglia said. Moore's Law still applies, he said, but now more performance gains come from processor density than transistor density. "You need to design your software to that it scales horizontally," he said, referring to the challenges of programming for many multicore processors working in parallel.

"In this age of 'Internet-scale' computing, the new, evolving problems faced by computer science students and researchers require a new, evolving set of skills," Bisciglia explained in a post to Google's corporate blog on Monday. "It's no longer enough to program one machine well; to tackle tomorrow's challenges, students need to be able to program thousands of machines to manage massive amounts of data in the blink of an eye."

"This is really going to benefit every entity that goes on to take these students," said Bisciglia. "They're all going to benefit from this change. They're all going to need it sooner or later."

Large-scale distributed computing, also known as cloud computing, has been touted as the future for years now. In a July 2003 paper, Microsoft researcher Jim Gray -- who was reported missing at sea earlier this year -- noted that IBM and Microsoft were pushing Internet-scale distributed computing as a new model.

Sun Microsystems has also long been an advocate of what it calls grid computing.

In a statement, Samuel J. Palmisano, chairman, president, and CEO of IBM, characterized the effort "to train tomorrow's programmers to write software that can support a tidal wave of global Web growth and trillions of secure transactions every day."

Whether IBM and Sun will develop an ad-based revenue stream to support large-scale distributed computing remains to be seen. Unlike Microsoft, neither company has hedged its business model by investing in Internet advertising technology.

As part of the initiative, Google and IBM are providing a cluster of several hundred computers -- Google's custom servers and IBM BladeCenter and System x servers. Over time, the companies expect the cluster to surpass 1,600 processors. The Linux-based servers will run open source software including Xen's virtualization system and Hadoop, an open source implementation of Google's distributed file system that's managed by the Apache Software Foundation.

Although Hadoop was developed by Yahoo's Doug Cutting and can be seen as enabling Google's competitors, Google says it supports the effort. "We're made very small contributions to Hadoop for this project and we obviously very strongly support the project," said Bisciglia.

IBM's Tivoli software will handle cluster management, monitoring, and resource provisioning.

Students working with the cluster will have access to a Creative Commons-licensed curriculum for massively parallel computing developed by Google and the University of Washington.

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Holy ramadan

Holy ramadan

The holy month of Ramadan enjoys a special importance in the Islamic calendar. As the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said: "It is Allah's Own month." It is the chief of all months and the most glorious one. As we already know, 'Fasting' is one of the important pillars of Islam and it is the very month of Ramadan during which fasting has been made obligatory for all adults and sane Muslims. By fasting during Ramadan, a Muslim besides discharging an obligation imposed upon him by Allah, becomes entitled to great reward in the Hereafter. On the other hand, any lapse in the matter amounts to a great sin. Fasting is an article of worship, the knowledge about the performance or otherwise whereof rests only with Allah and the person concerned. Hence, it is Allah alone who will reward that person for it, on the Day of Judgment.

The blessings of Ramadan are not limited to fasting alone, because the performance of all sorts of worship and good deeds during this month is also a source of great Divine favor. The revelation of the Holy Qur'an commenced during this very month and it is therefore the duty of every Muslim to read and try to understand the meaning of the Holy Qur'an and thereby gain an insight into the Divine secrets enshrined therein. It brings peace and illumination to the mind and imparts purity to the soul.

Ramadan is the month of fasting, intensive prayer, sacrifice and Divine worship. Throughout this month a devout Muslim fasts during the day in the true sense of the word, that is, he had merely denies himself food and water, but as explained by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), exercises strict control over his tongue, eyes, ears, thoughts and deeds and does everything possible to seek the pleasure of Allah.

Devout supplications to Allah and repentance of one's sins during Ramadan are the sources of Divine blessings and mercy. Some nights, among the last ten nights of Ramadan, are called the 'Nights of Glory' (Laylatul Qadr). These are the 19th, 21st, and 23rd nights. Muslims keep awake during these nights and offer special prayers. Even among these nights, the 23rd enjoys excellence over all the others. It is accompanied by great blessings, and he usually grants the supplications made to Allah during this night.

The holy month of Ramadan, besides being the month of worship and Divine blessings, carries a historical importance as well. As already mentioned above, the revelations of the Holy Qur'an commenced in this month. The epoch-making 'Battle of Badr' and the 'Conquest of Mecca' also took place during the holy month of Ramadan.

"Ramadan", according to some traditions is one of Allah's names. This is why we can not say Ramadan without making it clear that we are talking about the month, and therefore we should always say the month of Ramadan. The Commander of the faithful Ali ibn Abi Taleb (A.S.) said: Do not say Ramadan, but say the month of Ramadan. For you do not know what Ramadan is. This same meaning was referred to by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) in his speech during Shaaban: The month of Allah coming ....

Let us:
Learn Islam with ambition,
Observe Islam with sincerity,
Practice Islam with discipline (Sunnah),
Spread Islam with truth and kindness.


Importance Of Ramadan

Muslims follow Islam (submission to God) and Muslim Ramadan is the ninth month of Islamic calendar, the month of fasting during the daylight. During Ramadan Muslims boycott themselves from Drinks, food, smoke and sexual contact during the daytime.Muslims believe that during

Ramadan they must devote themselves to Allah by praying and visiting mosque. Ramadan is the month to read the entire holy book (Quran) by Muslims. It is also believed by Muslims that during Ramadan the gates of Heaven (jannah) are open and the gates of hell (Jahanam) are closed. Therefore so many believe are associated with Ramadan among the Muslims that makes Ramadan one of the important festivals for Muslims. Apart from the above, the importance of Ramadan lies in the fact, which all the Muslims believe that, it is believed to be the month during which The Holy Quran was revealed by god to prophet Muhammad (570-632 C.E.). Muslim Ramadan is also important because according to the five pillars of the Islam, pillars refer to the duties which any Muslim should follow, it is the duty of all the Muslims to fast for the entire month of Ramadan. The five pillars of Islam are as follows:

1.Reciting the two-fold Creed (Shahada) (profession of faith) - 'There is no God but Allah' and 'Muhammad is his prophet' (or 'Muhammad is the Messenger of God')

2. Prayer (salat) - At five set-times a day while facing towards the city of Mecca.

3. Alms-giving (sakat) (zakat - means 'purification', an act of worship) -obligatory and voluntary giving to the poor.

4. Fasting (saum) - Especially during the 'holy' month of Ramadan.

5. Pilgrimage (hajj) - At least once in a lifetime - to Mecca, Saudi Arabia if at all possible, known as The Hajj.

And one most important:
The pilgrims who came to Mecca should walk around Ka'aba seven times kissing and touching the Black Stone The Black Stone was a meteorite to which great religious significance was attached even before Muhammad was born. Muhammad simply adopted this pagan practice and it became the "Islamic" pilgrimage of "Hajj" - one of the pillars of Islam.

Hence as a follower of Islam all the Muslims are suppose to fast for the month of Ramadan. Some Muslims can be exempted from the Ramadan fasting like:

Children below twelve years.
Muslims who are physically and mentally challenged.
Senior Muslim citizen.
Muslims who travel for long distances.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Women who are menstruating.


After the last day of the holy month of Ramadan comes the auspicious day of Shawwal, which is known as Eid-Ul-fitr . Lets share or talk About Eid . The day Muslims across the world wait eagerly for all through the year. This day they wish each other Eid Mubarak. Eid-Mubarak literally means 'may it become good for you' . It's is the time for them to thank Allah for the successful completion of the fasting period during Ramadan .

The ritual of observing fasts cleanses Muslims right from their soul. The fasts are kept under a strict regime, where one can have no food and water from dawn till dusk. They recite Namaz five times a day. The entire process is physically very exhausting, but the devotion they have in their hearts for the Almighty makes it easy and enduring. As the month ends, people belonging to Islamic religion are in a celebratory mood. They hug each other and greet Eid Mubarak and thank Allah for his bounty and mercy . They break their fast with sweet vermicelli (Sewaiyyaan).

On Eid -Ul-fitr they decorate their houses with traditional and religious symbols like crescent moon and stars. There are lots of Eid ul fitr recipes and womenfolk after offering prayers prepare special Eid dishes. Sheer Khurma made by cooking dates with milk is a must to be served with Sewaiyyaan. Friends and family members gather and enjoy the day amidst grand feasts and cheerful moments. In many countries special Eid fests are organized to make the day more exciting for all. Usually, it is a holiday season, so people can freely go there and indulge in merry making wishing each other Eid Mubarak.

Despite the fact that Muslims reside in almost every part of the world, but the manner of celebrating Eid-Ul-Fitr remain same more or less. All follow the rules enshrined in the holy Quran with equal sincerity. The religion of Islam preaches respect for humanity, encourages brotherhood and peace and inspires rest of the world to be whole-heartedly devoted to the God. Eid-Ul-Fitr is a festival that put forward the same teachings and celebrates them. Celebrate this Eid-Ul-Fitr and greet Eid Mubarak to your kith and kin with us and leave the worries of preparations of the festival completely onto us. With our valuable tips coming handy to you, you won't be missing out on any aspect of jollifications of Eid-Ul-Fitr.

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New Giant Molecule

New Giant Molecule

The new tungstogermanate: Tungsten atoms: black, Cerium atoms: orange, Germanium atoms: green,WO6-octahedrons: light blue

Ulrich Kortz, Professor of Chemistry at Jacobs University, and his team successfully synthesized a polyoxometalate with 100 Tungsten and 20 Cerium atoms that has a molar mass of about 30 kilo Dalton. With a maximum diameter of 4.2 nm the inorganic molecule is comparable in size to large complex bio-molecules or even small viruses.

Polyoxometalates are anionic metal-oxygen clusters of large structural diversity with chemical properties, which make them especially interesting for applications in catalysis, but also in materials science and nanotechnology.

Ulrich Kortz and his co-workers now achieved the synthesis of the tungstogermanate*, which belongs to the polyoxometalates, by condensation of the precursors [α-GeW9O34]10- and Cerium(III) ions in aqueous solution.

With about 600 atoms in total, amongst them 100 atoms of the heavy metal Tungsten, the new compound is the third largest molecular polytungstate ever synthesized. In addition it contains the largest number of atoms of the Rare Earth Cerium ever incorporated in such a compound.

"A single molecule of our new giant tungstate has many catalytically active centers and therefore a very high catalytic potential, which normally applies only to biological catalyst molecules. Being a lot less temperature and oxidatively sensitive than bio-catalysts though and in crystalline form applicable as a heterogenic solid catalyst in liquid phase reactions our new tungstogermanate is predestined for industrial purposes," says Ulrich Kortz about the possible applications of the newly created molecule.

"In addition our successful synthesis allows very good inferences about the mechanism of formation by stepwise self-assembly of the simple precursors in a classic one-pot synthesis, which is vitally important for the development of other so-called 'molecular machines', large molecules designed to have very specific functions," the Jacobs chemist concludes.

*Tungstogermanate [Ce20Ge10W100O376(OH)4(H2O)30]56-

The reaction conditions and the molecular structure were published in Angewandte Chemie (doi: 10.1002/anie.200701422).

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Forecast :Sensors May Open Path Into Eye of Storm

The 2007 hurricane season has been relatively quiet, but whenever the next big cyclone spirals into life in the open ocean and takes aim at the U.S. coast, Joseph Cione will be ready to plunge into it.

Not literally, of course. Cione, a hurricane researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is the lead scientist on a government project that aims to send an unmanned aerial drone with advanced weather-watching equipment deep into a hurricane for the first time, and at the earliest opportunity.

The goal is to fly the 28-pound craft as low as 500 feet, gathering detailed observations of the high-wind, low-altitude eye-wall regions that are too dangerous for manned hurricane hunter airplanes to probe. By learning more about the lowest layers of the storm, scientists hope to better understand the energy transfer from the ocean to the atmosphere that fuels hurricanes and causes them to intensify and grow more deadly.

"This gives us a better understanding of that region," Cione said. "Over the last 30 years, we've made significant improvement over time with [predicting] track, meaning where the storm is going to go. We have not made that improvement hardly at all with intensity change. There are many reasons why. One of the reasons is that this region, down very low, is very important. It's where the energy transfer occurs."

The drone, known as an Aerosonde after the Australian company that designed it, is one of several emerging technologies being used to help unlock the secrets of hurricanes and, scientists hope, give rise to more accurate computer models. Better and earlier forecasts, particularly of a storm's intensity, can help drive decisions to evacuate regions and save lives.

Another novel tool is the North American Lightning Detection Network, a growing network of more than 180 highly sensitive land-based remote sensors that can study storms from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. In a study to be published early next year in the Monthly Weather Review, a journal of the American Meteorological Society, scientists will report that it may be possible to gauge when and whether a hurricane will intensify by using the sensors to examine the frequency of lightning strikes within the eye wall.

And earlier this year NOAA significantly upgraded its weather and climate supercomputers so that its systems, which can process more than 240 million global observations every day, are now among the world's fastest. With them, meteorologists are able to generate more advanced models of storm behavior that they hope will make predicting hurricane intensity easier.

The most captivating of the new technologies may be the drone. With a wingspan of nearly 10 feet, the propeller-driven orange and white aircraft can be launched from the roof of a sport-utility vehicle and can fly 1,200 to 1,300 miles round-trip. Scientists initially steer it by radio control using a joystick, then, at greater distances, via satellite.

Its instruments record moisture, temperature and pressure, as well as ocean surface temperatures and, of course, wind speeds. The data is sent to scientists at the National Hurricane Center in Miami via satellite and made available to forecasters immediately.

Traditionally, hurricane hunter aircraft have dropped bundles of instruments through storms, which provide only a momentary look at a limited cross section. But the Aerosonde collects data continuously, yielding a fuller picture of where and how powerful the strongest winds are and helping to predict what the storm surge will be.

Two years ago, researchers sent a drone on a 10-hour mission into Tropical Storm Ophelia, but they are eager to probe a hurricane, the most powerful of which have sustained winds of more than 155 mph. Cione has stationed "rapid response" teams to launch drones at a NASA facility in Wallops Island, Va., and at Key West Naval Air Station in Florida until Oct. 31 in the hopes of catching a hurricane within range.

The earlier flight showed the fragile-looking drone to be remarkably rugged, said Cione, who is not worried about it being torn apart.

It's better to be small," he said. "The scales of turbulence are pretty large relative to the craft, so they kind of sneak between these big eddies, if you will. They also right themselves very quickly. These things are pretty robust. They'll get tossed around a little bit, but then they'll right themselves."

Its size also makes the drone quite economical on fuel. Cione compared the 24-cc. fuel-injected motor to that of "a fancy lawnmower," and noted that in the 10-hour Ophelia flight the craft burned less than two gallons of gasoline.
Kirt Squires, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, co-wrote the new study of the relationship between lightning frequency near the eye of a hurricane and a storm's intensity. Squires and a colleague at the University of Hawaii, where Squires recently completed his master's degree, analyzed data on intensity and lightning strike rates from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the disastrous storms of 2005.

They combined data from the remote sensor network with readings from NOAA's hurricane hunter aircraft and a NASA weather satellite. The ground-based sensors, about the height of a person and topped by a white bulb, can detect electromagnetic signals produced by cloud-to-ground lightning strikes from thousands of miles away.

Researchers found that outbreaks of greater lightning activity were associated with periods when Katrina and Rita were gathering strength. They think that the conditions that fuel a hurricane's intensity -- the energy transfer that occurs when water condenses from vapor into droplets, releasing heat and causing updrafts of air -- also give rise to more lightning strikes in the heart of the storm.

"It's not that the lightning itself is intensifying the storm," Squires said. "It's the fact that if the updrafts and the eye walls are getting stronger and the hurricane is getting stronger, then we should see an increase in the amount of lightning. . . . Both storms contained their highest lightning outbreaks during their rapid intensification period."

Forecasters are not using lightning data in their intensity predictions yet, but Squires says that they might if further study bears out the relationship.

"No matter how good this ever gets, no one would ever just solely go on lightning strikes to forecast a hurricane," he said. "But it's another tool."

David H. Koch gives $100 million to MIT for cancer research

MIT to establish an integrative research institute to develop new paradigms in cancer research
MIT has announced a $100 million gift from Koch Industries executive and MIT alumnus David H. Koch that will usher in new paradigms in highly integrative cancer research. The gift will bring together MIT scientists and engineers under one roof to develop new and powerful ways to detect, diagnose, treat, and manage this often deadly disease.

The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research--the cornerstone of a major research initiative comparable to MIT's spearheading the development of radar technology in World War II--will be housed in a new state-of-the-art cancer research facility, scheduled to open in 2010. The new Koch Institute will build on the pioneering research of MIT's Center for Cancer Research (CCR), founded by Nobel Prize winner Salvador E. Luria in 1974, and will bring to the next level MIT's longstanding commitment to unraveling the molecular core of the disease.

"The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research will harness the power of MIT scientists and engineers to address one of the most pressing challenges to human health: The ultimate eradication of cancer, starting with real improvements in detection, treatment and prevention," commented MIT President Susan Hockfield. "David Koch's extraordinary generosity will make possible a level of collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and training unparalleled in the world. The convergence of life sciences and engineering enabled by his gift will chart a new course for cancer research, for which we are deeply grateful."

Unique to the Institute is the concept of pooling MIT's molecular geneticists and cell biologists with engineers. "This is a new approach to cancer research with the potential to uncover breakthroughs in therapies and diagnostics," Mr. Koch said. "Conquering cancer will require multi-disciplined initiatives and MIT is positioned to enable that collaboration. As a cancer survivor, I feel especially fortunate to be able to help advance this effort."

The new institute will house the laboratories of approximately 25 MIT faculty members, including a blend of faculty from the School of Science and from the School of Engineering. Among the scientists are Angelika Amon, winner of the Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation as the nation's top young scientist or engineer, and Phillip Sharp, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Engineering faculty include Angela Belcher, a MacArthur Award winner who was named Scientific American's Researcher of the Year in 2006. MIT Professor Robert Langer will also conduct his engineering research within the new Koch Institute. Dr. Langer's collaborative research efforts have led to numerous patented discoveries and novel ways to improve the clinical management of cancer. He was awarded the 2006 National Medal of Science.

Building on the advances in traditional areas of cancer exploration such as molecular genetics and cellular biology, the state-of-the-art facility will focus on five target areas of research at the intersection of biology and engineering, including (1) defining the specific vulnerabilities of cancer cells by creating a complete "wiring diagram" of the key pathways that allow cancer cells to keep dividing and remain alive; (2) engineering entirely new nanotechnology paradigms for cancer treatment; (3) understanding how tumors evade immune recognition and developing methods to overcome these avoidance mechanisms, including more effective anti-cancer vaccines and other forms of immunotherapy; (4) using powerful new tools to dissect the molecular and cellular basis for metastasis; and (5) shifting the curve of cancer diagnosis and prevention to earlier and earlier stages using advances such as genomics, novel imaging agents and micro-scale monitoring devices.

Tyler Jacks, the David H. Koch Professor of Biology at MIT, will serve as the director of the Koch Institute at MIT. "By housing leading cancer biologists with world-class engineers, we are creating a formidable team motivated to understand cancer and to do something about it. We expect to rapidly deliver important new tools for oncologists and their patients," Jacks said. "Our goal is to make the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research the gold standard in interdisciplinary disease-focused research. Our organization will build an expanding and highly effective relationship network that also involves other academic oncology centers, industrial partners and cancer-focused foundations. Together we will dramatically expand our research and training efforts and seek to deliver powerful clinical solutions."

Mr. Koch, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees in chemical engineering from MIT, is an executive vice president and board member of Koch Industries, Inc., a diverse group of companies with about $90 billion in revenues, 80,000 employees, and a presence in nearly 60 countries. Koch companies are involved in refining and chemicals, process and pollution control equipment and technologies, minerals and fertilizer, fibers and polymers, commodity and financial trading and services, and forest and consumer products.

In addition to his business activities, Mr. Koch has personally pledged and contributed more than $400 million to a wide variety of organizations and programs that further cancer research, enhance medical centers and support educational institutions, and sustain arts and cultural institutions. Mr. Koch received a presidential appointment to the National Cancer Advisory Board of the National Cancer Institute in 2004. His contributions to MIT have established the David H. Koch School of Chemical Engineering Practice, and he has been honored with the dedication of the David H. Koch Biology Building at the university

WCVB-TV5 'Chronicle' series launches MIT project to help design Boston's future

'FutureBOSTON: Creating Competitive Edge in the Global Economy' will leverage the power of the web to foster global dialogue and collaborationThe Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in association with State Street Corporation, Distrigas/Suez, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Boston Foundation, announced Oct. 8 a major project designed to help position Boston at the forefront of world-class cities of the future.

"FutureBOSTON: Creating Competitive Edge in the Global Economy" will address the challenges and opportunities facing Boston in the coming century, and offer participants the chance to propose solutions to issues affecting the life of the city.

FutureBOSTON will kick off with a specially produced WCVB-TV5 "Chronicle" television series that will run each week for four consecutive Tuesdays, starting Oct. 9. Filmed on location in Dublin, Ireland; Vancouver, Canada; Portland, Oregon; and Seoul, Korea, these "case studies" will look at how each city dealt with its own urban challenges and the lessons that Bostonians can learn from their experiences.

The "Chronicle" series will be followed by three online competitions in the spring of 2008 - part of the project's overall vision to enhance the Boston region's competitive edge. These "Interactive Symposia" are designed to harvest solutions to the critical challenges facing Boston in three key areas: health, design and environmental sustainability.

"The goal of FutureBOSTON is to spark a worldwide interactive dialogue about key aspects of urban life in the coming century," said MIT chancellor and urban planner Phillip Clay. "We also hope to illustrate the significance of the research university to the economic life of the Boston region."

The Interactive Symposia are online experiments to see how far collaborators can go in framing concepts, generating models and posting their ideas on the web.

"We invite people from around the globe to suggest solutions to problems confronting Boston, such as how to create new affordable homes along Massachusetts Avenue, and new jobs in sustainable live-work districts around Boston's research universities," said Tom Piper, executive director of FutureBOSTON and a senior research scientist at MIT.

"The idea is to allow teams locally and from around the world to share and manipulate data--such as maps, video, pictures and spreadsheets-in real time, providing a new way for citizens to shape the cities in which they live."

As the symposia unfold, WBUR radio will simultaneously report on the activities of local innovators in Boston's emerging economic sectors, highlighting the region's propensity for reinvention and renewal at critical points in its development history.

FutureBOSTON will be powered by Zude, a new social networking platform developed by Five G Systems that will run on, The Boston Globe's Internet portal. With Zude, IdeaJAM participants will be able to team with MIT students and faculty as well as to tap into the expertise of the world's largest technical professional association, the 370,000-member Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE.

FutureBOSTON will culminate in a WCVB-TV5 television special,"FutureBOSTON Prime Time," to be broadcast live from MIT on May 29, 2008. It will introduce the winners of the three IdeaJAMS, and present the recommendations of a national panel of judges, including Carleton "Carly" S. Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard; Rep. Edward J. Markey; and Yung Ho Chang, head of MIT's Department of Architecture.

FutureBOSTON is convened by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and principally underwritten by Blue Cross Blue Shield/MA, Distrigas/Suez, State Street Corporation and The Boston Foundation. Sponsors include the Boston Society of Architects, Chiofaro Company, Five G Systems, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), John Hancock Insurance, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, National Association of Industrial and Office Properties/MA, Novartis Institutes, Partners Healthcare, and Staples.

Nano Researcher Working On Next Generation

Researcher working on next generation of artificial muscles
Researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno in the U.S. have conducted research on the ability of carbon nanotubes to retain their structural and mechanical integrity after subjection to repeated stress, and they say that the findings could result in the development materials that mimic artificial muscles. The researchers found that nanotubes aligned vertically in a two-millimeter square block were able to retain 75 percent of their original shape after 500,000 compressions. Researcher Jonghwan Suhr said: “If you can smartly control properties and materials, you can more efficiently control the whole structure. If these nanotubes can mimic artificial muscles, then some day they might be utilized as the soft tissue of the stomach wall or even as tendons throughout the body.” According to the article, Suhr is now combining nanotubes with different polymers to “improve their resistance to fatigue.”

University researcher Jonghwan Suhr says a recent study could lead to new materials that will mimic biological tissues and artificial muscles.
The assistant professor of mechanical engineering has been working on the ability of carbon nanotubes to withstand repeated stress and still be able to retain their structural and mechanical integrity, similar to the behavior of soft tissue. While extensive research has been done over the past decade into the mechanical properties of carbon nanotube structures, this study is the first to explore and document their fatigue behavior.
“If you can smartly control properties and materials, you can more efficiently control the whole structure,” Suhr said. “If these nanotubes can mimic artificial muscles, then some day they might be utilized as the soft tissue of the stomach wall or even as tendons throughout the body.”
Many researchers believe carbon nanotubes are the future of electronic circuitry and the successors of silicon, which, according to scientists, has nearly reached the limit of its applications. Suhr and a team of national engineers tested the nanotubes’ ability to resist fatigue by building a two-millimeter-square block in which millions of nanotubes were aligned vertically. Then, they repeatedly compressed it between two steel plates once every 0.75 seconds for more than 100 hours.
After 500,000 compressions in which the tubes were repeatedly squashed to 75 per cent of their original length, the block kept springing back almost to its original shape. The springiness is similar to real muscles’ ability to return to their original shapes over a lifetime of perpetual extension and contraction.
But it’s not only artificial muscles that interest Suhr. Because real muscles create a smoother motion than jerky electric motors or pneumatic devices, some of the new materials would be used to power robots and prosthetic limbs, as well as artificial tissue for implantation. Suhr is now combining nanotubes with different polymers, which control when an artificial muscle gets stretched, to improve their resistance to fatigue.
“I want to focus on new materials and other applications,” Suhr said. “We need to discern which of these polymers will work best, and then we can fabricate the new material ourselves.”
Although carbon nanotubes are not currently used in commercial applications, they are being studied intensely by researchers. The miniscule tubes, some of which are only one nanometer wide (a human hair is 50,000 nanometers wide), may one day have uses in computer-chip technology as transistors.

From blue collar to green chemistry

newsmaker Material science and chemistry are at the root of engineering innovations from semiconductors to nanotechnology.

Yet even as technologists design new materials, little is understood about the potentially harmful effects of these inventions on people and the environment.

John Warner is out to change that.

Warner is director of the Center for Green Chemistry at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. He also recently co-founded the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, where he is chief technology officer.

He is one of a growing number of academics and professional chemists promoting environmentally benign approaches to chemistry and materials development.

Formulating safer substances is within grasp, Warner argues. But toxicology isn't sufficiently considered during the design stage. And there's a large gap in the knowledge needed to make environmentally benign goods.

Warner spoke at last week's Ideas Boston conference, where he described his life journey and current mission. Coming from a working-class family outside Boston, he got into graduate work in chemistry by chance. Once an employee at Polaroid, he discovered how little he or his fellow chemists known about toxicity.

After his talk, Warner spoke with CNET

Q: What is green chemistry and why do we need it?
Warner: Green chemistry is just a correction of the fact that right now in our education of chemistry and materials science, we don't teach toxicology or (chemistry) as a mechanism for environmental harm. So as society demands technology, the problem is that the people who are inventing it are unaware of the mechanisms that cause toxicity and environmental harm. If you can put in their hands the tools to understand that, then they may invent new products and processes that...look at toxicity and environmental harm as a design flaw. So green chemistry, succinctly, is making materials in an environmentally responsible way, and the technology required to do that.
You said that you were not trained in toxicity and no chemists are trained in that. How can that be?
Warner: Unless you are a toxicologist, (in which case) of course you are. If you are a chemist who is destined to work at the DuPonts and Dows, our curriculum is so jam-packed with things that we have to learn that we can't fit (it in)--or there is not enough of a present awareness of the importance of it.

If you go online at any university in the country, go to the chemistry department and look at what's required; you show me one chemistry department where someone who has graduated with a degree in chemistry is required to take anything like toxicology or environmental harm. You won't find one. Unless your major is toxicology or environmental sciences. Whereas if you are going to be in the job of monitoring, measuring, characterizing (toxics) after (chemicals have) already been created, then you have to take a ton of classes. But the ones who are doing the creating aren't being educated.

As a parent, I've read about plastics used in baby bottles (that may be harmful) and arsenic in the lumber to build playgrounds. Do we have a good idea of how bad the dangers are?
Warner: That's a very scary thing--that our knowledge of toxicology is a moving target. What we knew 10 years ago, what we know now is changing. The people who invented chlorofluorocarbons were heroes. Every week there would be a disaster: an ammonia explosion from a refrigerator plant--people were dying. Society mandated replacement for ammonia. Chlorofluorocarbons were invented at that time and they were thought of as wonderful, benign and safe things. Years later, we found out that they were ozone-depleting. It wasn't a bad invention--they just didn't know.

The reason is perhaps that a chemist kind of works in isolation. Do you ever see a history major or psychology major sitting down with a group of chemists and saying, "Hey, what are you doing?" The next question is: why shouldn't they?

There is a profound impact...when you invent a material. Why is it that in our society we completely disassociate people who do science and those who don't? What we need to do is get more people to realize that they can participate--their eyes, their ears, their ideas are just as valid to help in that process to say, "Wait a minute. Why are you using that material? Did you know over here somebody actually did find out that it has some toxicological concerns?" Right now, the only way those things happen is by accident during the design process or by identifying the horrors sometime later.

Let's put it as upfront as possible. We're not going to solve all the problems--we're still going to fail, we're still going to screw up, some dangerous things are going to slip through. But right now, there's no chance of stopping them. Someday in the future, we will be better at this. But we have to at least make a decision to go in that direction today.

What's the resistance? I'm sure chemical companies view regulations as a problem.
Warner: Absolutely. Chemical companies actually have embraced this for the most part. You see companies that have vice presidents of green chemistry. They would love to embrace it but the people haven't been trained. So you find them sponsoring workshops, bringing training to employees. Of course they would rather see academia start requiring courses. But changing academia is one of the most difficult things to do.

Some environmentalists say that after global warming the next big environmental concern is toxics within our own bodies. What's your feeling?
Warner: It's terrifying. Obviously my personal history (Warner lost an infant son to a birth defect, and a rock band mate in his twenties to leukemia), I have some questions about how all that pulls together. The new learning about environmental hormones and endocrine disruptors is scary as hell. I'm not in a position to know how much of that is valid, how much of that is not valid. Certainly some of it is valid and if some of it is valid, that's scary as hell.

We have carcinogens. Just look at the rates of childhood asthma and things like that. Now there are links to certain psychological illnesses. Things are happening out there that we need to learn about. But rather than look at it and panic and say, "Oh my God we must stop, stop, stop," I choose to look at it and say, "Let's get a factor of 10 more chemists onboard and get more people inventing safer things." And be proactive about changing the future.

How hard is this, even if you took into account design principles as you were talking about earlier?
Warner: I'm talking into this recorder here. Imagine all the inventions that went into doing this. All the different things--you got the LED light shining, the recording mechanisms, miniaturization of the electronics. Adding "let's make it nontoxic," although it's huge, is no larger of a problem than anything else. It's just that we haven't focused on it. It's always been abdicated to somebody else to do it. The inventors invent and the toxicologist comes in after the fact.

What I'm saying is: Look at that as a design flaw. You want this to work, you want the LED light, you want a clear recording. You also want the components to be nontoxic. And there is going to be a day in the future when that's going to be an acceptable requirement. But right now we don't have the building blocks to get there.

Is this an interdisciplinary problem?
Warner: Absolutely. The whole thing, in my opinion, is that if chemistry was more interdisciplinary and there was a diversity of the eyes, ears and ideas in the process, we'd be much better at what we're doing. The problem is that we're not. The academic structure is such that there is chemistry, there is biology, there is physics. And although the language has become "let's be more interdisciplinary," if you should go under the surface and actually look at how universities are still run today, there's very little successful interdisciplinary (work).

What about nanotechnology?
Warner: Nanotechnology--there's a whole lot of questions. There are two big areas in nanotechnology. One is obviously the potential hazards. True enough, that's scary and we need to do a lot as we develop product materials to make sure of that.

But I actually have a different take on that and that is, many companies will say, "We've been making such and such product for 40 years. You might have a new way of making it. But what are we going to do--tear down a manufacturing plant and fire all the people?" The expense of tearing down an existing thing and creating something new--are they going to go to another country where it's cheaper? There are all kinds of complications of replacing existing technology.

Nanotechnology isn't in the manufacturing phase, so when companies start doing that, they already have a lot of things to choose from that are environmentally-responsible, green chemistry technologies. If they choose to set up a manufacturing plant using the same traditional hazardous materials in spite of the fact that these other technologies exist, now that's a big problem.

The toxicity of this business card (in my hand) is one thing. But when you consider that probably for every gram of business card there's probably 100 to 1,000 grams of waste generated--the solvents for ink, the solvents used for paper, the energy for transportation.

The toxicity of this card is important, but it's only the tip of the iceberg. Where did this card come from? Where does it come from? The things that consumers never ever see can oftentimes have an even more profound impact on the environment than the actual product itself.

What's your sense of the awareness of these issues? Certainly consumers seem to be learning more, but what about the chemists out there? Do they have enough information?
Warner: Not yet. There's not enough information. They're thirsty for it, they want it. Many, many universities have faculty who say they want to integrate this into their teaching but they don't know how.

Five years ago, green chemistry was kind of unheard of. Now, if you look at the basic freshman textbooks, organic chemistry textbooks, about 50 percent of them have a couple pages on green chemistry, maybe a little section in the back or something like that. Pretty soon it will start being integrated a little more. It's a very, very slow process but it's starting to take root.

What's driving that?
Warner: The students. I had something like 120 students pass through my research lab as a professor in the last 10 years. The average time it's taken for a student to get a job is three days.

I'd never suggest hiring an inferior chemist because they know green chemistry. But if they are a really good chemist and they know green chemistry, wow!

Just think of how many times an inventor comes up with a process and the company gets all excited: 'we're going to go to manufacture it.' And somebody says, "You using that solvent? We can't manufacture with this solvent--the EPA is regulating; it costs us this much." It makes an entire project useless. Someone has to go back and has to reinvent the process or scrap it. So if those people at the very beginning understood those real-world implications, it would be a much more efficient process going from invention. So industry is all over this.

What do you want to do at the institute you founded?
Warner: Essentially, the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry is working with industry to do beaker and flask chemistry to develop these technologies. We will work with industry very quickly and very intelligently on problems. If such and such a company realizes that an adhesive is potentially carcinogenic, we're going to help them find a noncarcinogenic one...Ironically, that's where A Civil Action is from.

How will you transfer technology?
Warner: Essentially, the idea is that it will be company by company. Obviously, we need a sustainable model to employ because part of the process is to have post-docs in the institute train the next generation of scientists simultaneously so it has to be sustainable. But at the same time, I'm in it just to get the product out there.

I'm sure you've heard of William McDonough, who wrote the book Cradle to Cradle about sustainable design. It was written with a chemist. How does your work differ?
Warner: He's working with people to say, "You have to use the best technology available. Why are you using this when you could use this?" When he comes up empty, the chemist's job is to invent that alternative

Source :

Internet users V virtual life

Here we collect from sources and from studies that internet is becoming the next revulation in economy ,life, personal and manythings .The online universe is brimming with dozens of virtual worlds vying to build sustainable life. From Gaia, a Japanese anime-inspired site, to vSide, a hip nightclub scene, they represent the latest way people are interacting through the Internet. Users create alter-ego avatars to navigate these online worlds, where they meet and hang out with other people, go shopping, watch movies, even start a business. And they're live: Day and night, they change as people join in. Though the idea is not new, the technology and the business to support these.

Cornell Professor Mixes Realities in Study of Virtual World 'Metanomics'
PR Newswire
ITHACA, N.Y., Sept. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The Johnson School at Cornell University has partnered with, a clearinghouse for information on business and technology in virtual worlds, to launch a...

Virtual worlds can help users recover from health woes
Denver Post
Washington - After suffering a devastating stroke four years ago, Susan Brown was left in a wheelchair with little hope of walking again. Today, the 57-year-old Richmond, Va., woman has regained use of her legs...

Sony delays launch of virtual universe for PS3 -
Yahoo Daily News
20 minutes ago MAKUHARI, Japan (AFP) - Sony said Thursday it was delaying until next year the launch of an online virtual universe for the PlayStation 3 where users will be able to socialise, shop and even go...

Rome Reborn: an ancient virtual city
The Times
In the fourth century AD, Rome was a sprawling megacity feeling secure about its prominence as the undisputed capital of the world. The recently constructed Aurelian Walls enclosed the city in a fortified...

How local companies are doing business in Second Life
When Greg Verdino of Melville gets up to go to work, he no longer makes a dash for the Long Island Rail Road to commute to Manhattan. No, as chief strategy officer of a new marketing company called crayon, on...

Economist explains move to virtual world
newsmaker The publisher of the teen-oriented virtual world Gaia Online announced Monday that it is bringing on celebrated economist Michael Boskin to lead its new Council of Economic Advisors. Boskin, a former...

Virtual, real lives intersect in OU class
Detroit news
It used to be called daydreaming. But next semester, a few Michigan college students will be able to forgo the classically flat, one-dimensional world of term papers and dead-tree literature, and troll a...

Game industry looks for answers Trailing real cheaters in virtual worlds
The News Tribune
Some players give themselves the ability to magically see and shoot through walls. Others find a way to fly, making them nearly impossible to defeat. Cheating like this in video games has a long and even...

Subdued virtual world for Japan
Buffalo News
Orderly, pornography-free and safe for children, "meet-me," an online interactive virtual Tokyo, is Japan's answer to "Second Life." Or so its creators hope. Kunimasa Hamaoka, who oversees "meet-me" at digital...

Japanese, Scared by 'Second Life,' Get Own Virtual World
Fox News
TOKYO - Orderly, pornography-free and safe for children, "Meet-Me," an online interactive virtual Tokyo, is Japan's answer to "Second Life." Or so its creators hope. Kunimasa Hamaoka, who oversees "Meet-Me" at...

Technorati :

Cutting Carbon:Airborne Emissions: New Tech Traps,

This unusual device reduces airborne emissions by trapping and storing carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere.

Global warming effects already shows the ill future if no control ,In a finding that could shrink the massive carbon footprint of cars worldwide, a New York scientist has proposed an industrial technology that captures CO2 directly from the atmosphere.

Current Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies focus on large, stationary sources like power plants. But even if the capture sites were at full deployment and efficiency, "more than 50 percent of global emissions would remain unabated," writes the author.

The remaining emissions, often from dispersed and mobile sources, require other mitigation techniques. According to the author, "atmospheric CO2 emissions may double this century." These CO2 forecasts lend urgency to the search for a more comprehensive carbon capture system.

Frank Zeman addresses the ambient emissions with a new 'Air Capture' system that absorbs CO2 straight from the atmosphere. While it provides a very different approach to carbon capture, the CO2 storage technologies would be the same used in conventional CCS.

The leading challenge of air capture technology arises from the low concentration of ambient CO2 -- 4,697 cubic feet of ambient air must be processed to capture about 2 ounces of carbon dioxide! Zeman proposes a number of solutions, including a design that uses natural drafts to absorb vast amounts of air at little to no energy cost. The comprehensive devices could be installed anywhere, writes the author, and would trap and store carbon as efficiently as current capture technologies.

The study "Energy and Material balance of CO2 Capture from Ambient Air" is scheduled to appear in the Nov. 1 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology

Technorati :

Light-emitting Nanodevice

lights of next science innovation.An interdisciplinary team of Cornell nanotechnology researchers has unraveled some of the fundamental physics of a material that holds promise for light-emitting, flexible semiconductors
The discovery, which involved years of perfecting a technique for building a specific type of light-emitting device, is reported in the journal Nature Materials

Top view of the ruthenium tris-bipyridine light-emitting device created by Cornell researchers. The ruthenium metal complex is represented by red spheres, and counter ions are represented by green spheres. The material is sandwiched between two gold electrodes. Also visible is the probe of the electron force microscope used to measure the electric field of the device. (Credit: Image courtesy of Cornell University)Nonotech is showing the

The interdisciplinary team had long studied the molecular semiconductor ruthenium tris-bipyridine. For many reasons, including its ability to allow electrons and holes (spaces where electrons were before they moved) to pass through it easily, the material has the potential to be used for flexible light-emitting devices. Sensing, microscopy and flat-panel displays are among its possible applications.

The researchers set out to understand the fundamental physics of the material -- that is, what happens when it encounters an electric field, both at the interfaces and inside the film. By fabricating a device out of the ruthenium metal complex that was spin-coated onto an insulating substrate with pre-patterned gold electrodes, the scientists were able to use electron force microscopy to measure directly the electric field of the device.

A long-standing question, according to George G. Malliaras, associate professor of materials science and engineering, director of the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility and one of the co-principal investigators, was whether an electric field, when applied to the material, is concentrated at the interfaces or in the bulk of the film.

The researchers discovered that it was at the interfaces -- two gold metal electrodes sandwiching the ruthenium complex film -- which was a huge step forward in knowing how to build and engineer future devices.

"So when you apply the electric field, ions in the material move about, and that creates the electric fields at the interfaces," Malliaras explained.

Essential to the effort was the ability to pattern the ruthenium complex using photolithography, a technique not normally used with such materials and one that took the researchers more than three years to perfect, using the knowledge of experts in nanofabrication, materials and chemistry.

The patterning worked by laying down a gold electrode and a polymer called parylene. By depositing the ruthenium complex on top of the parylene layer and filling in an etched gap between the gold electrodes, the researchers were then able to peel the parylene material off mechanically, leaving a perfect device.

Ruthenium tris-bipyridine has energy levels well suited for efficient light emission of about 600 nanometers, said Héctor D. Abruña, the E.M. Chamot Professor of Chemistry, and a principal co-investigator. The material, which has interested scientists for many years, is ideal for its stability in multiple states of oxidation, which, in turn, allows it to serve as a good electron and hole transporter. This means that a single-layer device can be made, simplifying the manufacturing process.

"It's not fabulous, but it has a reasonable emission efficiency," Abruña said. "One of the drawbacks is it has certain instabilities, but we have managed to mitigate most of them."

Among the other authors were co-principal investigators Harold G. Craighead, the C.W. Lake Jr. Professor of Engineering, and John A. Marohn, associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology.

Technorati :

Fiber-Optic Future For Norwich

As the dispatcher calls the volunteer department, a computer prints a picture and exact directions and sends them electronically to the responding station or even to a portable computer in the firetruck as it speeds out of the station bay.

Imagine a fire call to the city central dispatch for a remote location within the city limits.

That would be one way a municipal fiber-optic network could help city agencies and the general public, said John Bilda, general manager of Norwich Public Utilities.

NPU went out to bid Wednesday on installing a fiber-optic telecommunications system in the city that would connect all schools and municipal and public-utilities facilities, including automated sewer pump stations, hydropower units and electrical transformers.

The 32-mile, $2.4 million network would snake through the city in two main loops, with several spurs from the main loop lines to connect more remote systems.

The network, Bilda said, would send data 600 times faster than current speeds along privately owned data lines, and do it more reliably.

Mayor Benjamin Lathrop called officials of the city-owned utility "visionaries," dating back 104 years to when the city took over by eminent domain a private electric and gas company and converted it to a public utility.

"They were visionaries then, with the (public water) reservoirs and all," Lathrop said, "and by exploring what they did all those years ago to move their city forward. It's impressive. Our utility has done wonders."

Immediate plans would have the fiber-optic network serving only Norwich government entities - adding in agencies such as the Uncas Health District, Three Rivers Community College and Norwich Free Academy - and would provide internal communication only within Norwich borders.

A teacher in a Norwich school could draw a line on a computer and have it automatically appear simultaneously on so-called smart boards in every school in the city. But all the sites would still use AT&T for telephone service and 99 Main - the city's Internet provider - for access to "the outside world," Bilda said.

NPU plans to create wireless hot spots in key locations, such as downtown, that would be available to the public, Bilda said.

Expanding the network to local businesses and residents could follow. NPU plans to apply to the state Department of Public Utility Control for permission to offer service, according to the resolution approved by the City Council Monday.

Bilda couldn't say when that might occur, but he said the cable to make it possible could be in place by next summer. The rest could depend on the DPUC licensing process and the city's desire to open it up to the community.

NPU is a pioneer in municipal fiber-optics installation in the state, but not the first, Bilda said. About five years ago, the town of Manchester helped write the law that now allows NPU to move forward.

DPUC spokeswoman Beryl Lyons said no other city-owned utility has applied for a state license to offer fiber-optic broadband to the general public. Only the few municipally owned utilities that own their own utility poles would be able to tackle the project, she said.

Groton Public Utilities launched its own for-profit cable television company, Thames Valley Communications, three years ago. The cable television and computer broadband company now has 7,000 customers in Groton city and town, and the Groton portion of Mystic and Gales Ferry, said Carl Andersen, marketing director.

Andersen said it has taken longer than expected to get permission to build on poles outside the Groton Public Utilities service area.

NPU owns all its utility poles and many underground utility conduits in the Norwich Business Park.

NPU has no plans to start a cable television company or become an Internet provider or telephone company. Rather, Bilda said, the network would allow NPU and other city entities to greatly consolidate telephone service, buying one telephone-trunk service line from AT&T and using its own fiber-optic network to hook up to numerous telephones and computers.

One of the utilities' aims is to save on its telephone bills. "We're doing this to stay in business," Bilda said.

The city plans to continue to use 99 Main as its Internet provider, but city computers would be able to communicate with one another much faster and at higher capacities.

If the fiber-optic service is expanded to local businesses and the public, Bilda said, NPU would not make it a for-profit venture. Ten percent of the gross revenues would be turned over to the city, a deal that dates back to the founding of the public utility.

If Norwich wants to venture into cable television or telephone service, the City Council would have to authorize the move. Bilda said the initiative would have to come from NPU constituents.

"We want to do whatever the community wants us to do," Bilda said. "This provides the backbone for any of these services to happen."

At least two downtown business owners are counting the days when fiber-optic broadband data transmission service might be available.

Mike Sullivan, owner of 99 Main, said his company has been the city's Internet provider for 11 years. He said the connection would enable him to offer high-speed fiber-optic Internet connections to local small businesses that can't afford the high-speed T-1 lines that are now the standard for high-speed connections.

Fiber optics would far surpass T-1 capacities, Sullivan said. The smallest fiber cable can transmit data at a rate of 155 megabytes per second, while a T-1 line sends at one megabyte per second. Slower DSL lines are still the standard for home and small business use, he said.

Brian Kobylarz, owner of Tele-Cine Productions, served on the initial focus group NPU established several years ago when utility officials first started looking into expanding to cable television and fiber-optic broadband services.

Kobylarz said any business with electronic data needs would benefit. He produces high-definition videos and films for industrial, business and government entities.

Fiber optics would give him quicker, better quality transmissions of video clips to production studios "miles or hundreds of miles away."

Kobylarz, who also chairs the Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Committee, envisions the fiber-optic network attracting high-tech businesses to the downtown.

"Major corporations have realized the benefits of this technology for many years now," Kobylarz said. "The business model says this is the right thing to do. What we are doing in Norwich is the first step. It will be a better step when it begins to open up to the business community. That will spur economic activity and will attract new and better businesses to the area."

Technorati :

Explore arrival of fiber-optic technology

What is fiber-optic technology? Is it faster than dial-up, cable and DSL?

How can it improve your home? Your business? St. Albans' economic future?
Following the launch of a recent survey, the City of St. Albans and St. Albans for the Future (SAFF) will present a fiber-optic technology forum Tuesday, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at city hall.
City officials and members of St. Albans Digital, a SAFF subcommittee, will join technology consultants Larry Lackey and Sam Osborne in giving a primer in fiber-optic technology, and how St. Albans could reap benefits from it.
The phone survey, which ran from the middle to end of September, was St. Albans Digital's first step in a feasibility study that is funded through a $23,500 grant from the Vermont Community Development Program.
Lackey, of Stowe, and Osborne, of Osborne Associates in Burlington, were hired to assist with the survey. They recommended the phone survey.
The state grant also will help conduct a market-share analysis for a fiber-optic network, which, if it becomes reality, could reach every city home and business and foster economic development.
The grant will also help explore a potential partnership with Burlington Telecom, the City of Burlington's telecommunications network, which provides the only fiber-optic infrastructure in Vermont that connects directly to homes - also known as "the last mile."
St. Albans Digital has formed a negotiating team to deal with Burlington Telecom, and the city's mayors have exchanged letters of interest in exploring a partnership.
Presently, city residents have five Internet service options: dial-up, DSL (through phone wires), cable modems, wireless and satellite (which are fast but require pricy subscriptions).
Fiber optic service carries information over glass fibers instead of copper wire, thus eliminating the drag or lag time in real-time events that is sometimes found with a direct service or cable link.
More information can travel over fiber optics than copper, and at a much faster rate. Also, fiber optics is cheaper, because sand - the raw material in glass - costs far less than copper.
St. Albans Digital formed in spring 2006 from a class project and subsequent creative economy efforts that began under the auspices of the Franklin-Grand Isle L.E.A.D. Program.
L.E.A.D. is a United Way project in partnership with others in the two-county area that helps groom civic leaders for the future.
The forum on Tuesday is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.

Technorati :

Microsoft :The company's new Web site, HealthVault, is it trusted

New day new technology new service, security , trust
Microsoft has long been labeled an enemy of the people--the company you didn't even trust with your PC's serial number. Now the new Microsoft, led by philanthropist Bill Gates, hopes you will entrust your medical records with it.

The company's new Web site, HealthVault, aims to be a central repository for consumers to store their personal health data so that they can share it more easily with doctors and other medical professionals. The idea has become a sort of medical care holy grail: Current recordkeeping is a mishmash of files. Chronic care patients can wind up taking multiple medications prescribed by doctors who may be unaware of one another. Care of critically ill patients gets mismanaged because doctors can't find the right records.

But can Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) solve this? Microsoft, the company whose personal computer software is regularly attacked by hackers, the company reprimanded by governments for its aggressive monopolistic behavior?

"Those are the same questions I asked," says Peter Neupert, the Microsoft vice president in charge of the company's health group. This is Neupert's second stint at Microsoft: He left in 1998 to start, which went public a year later. He has since served on presidential commissions on health care. But he wanted to do more than just analyze the problems, and convinced Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer two years ago take him back. "I told him I had this passion and wanted to go back to work. I finally persuaded him it was a good idea."

Neupert figured health care could only be solved by a brand big enough to be recognized around the world. Given the complexity and scale of the health care problems, "even to move the needle takes something like a Microsoft, a company with patience, with an ability to get partners, build infrastructure and, quite frankly, financial strength," Neupert says. "Who are mom and dad going to feel comfortable sharing private data with? The government? No. The insurance industry? Statistics say 87% of consumers don't trust their health plan. Some under-funded no-name organization?" Worldwide, Microsoft is one of the best-known brands, he notes. "I think we have a pretty good shot."

He has lots of competition. In particular, Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ) has been exploring a health care initiative. That program slowed recently when the executive leading the program left Google. Insurance companies, including Aetna (nyse: AET - news - people ), UnitedHealth Group (nyse: UNH - news - people ) and WellPoint (nyse: WLP - news - people ), also have medical recordkeeping systems under way.

There is no shortage of skeptics for a dozen reasons. "The concept behind it is dead on track, but it won't work very well" without a better way to integrate data from local doctors, predicts medical data guru Brent James, vice president for research at Utah's Intermountain Healthcare. The bottleneck, he says, is that there is no universal way to get blood test results, imaging scans and other basic data from thousands of local doctors and labs onto the Web.

"The intercommunications don't exist to get the data from where they now live into this central format and back out again to the physicians and nurses who would use them," James says.

Neupert agrees. "Hospitals, data devices, pharmacies, labs--we need to connect them all because the current situation is just too fragmented and siloed." As a starting point for pulling together data, Microsoft says it is working with 40 partners, including the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the Mayo Clinic, Johnson & Johnson and the American Heart Association, to provide content and applications for the sites. It also is working with device companies on applications that will allow readings to move directly from a range of diagnostic instruments--such as blood pressure cuffs and diabetic glucose monitors--to HealthVault.

Microsoft argues that HealthVault can avoid the countless security problems that have afflicted its operating systems. "It's an apples and oranges comparison," he asserts. "It's a lot easier for us to manage a service for reliability, security and privacy than it is to manage hundreds of millions of distributed personal computers." Microsoft is working with two hacker organizations to test the security of its system.

Although HealthVault will be free for consumers, this is no philanthropic effort. Microsoft hopes HealthVault will translate into more search revenues through targeted health-related ads. The site includes an improved online search that uses a machine-learning algorithm to help consumers search through articles on health issues by breaking broad topics into concrete subcategories.

"By providing a great health search experience, we will actually improve the search loyalty of Microsoft overall," says Sean Nolan, the Microsoft programmer who designed the site. He admits though that moving into the medical record arena "is a huge crazy challenge." Among other issues, Microsoft will have to tiptoe the line between assuring people their information is private--and serving up advertisements relevant to the health problems they have.

James says Microsoft's move into health care is reminiscent of dot-com companies who tried to develop medical records in the 1990s and stalled because they didn't control the data. "It is the same old great idea but the devil is in the details," he says. At least Microsoft has lots of money and technical expertise, he says.

Neupert says the potential "life-saving benefits" of a good electronic records system are worth the business risks. He ticks off what Microsoft needs to make the system real: Sign up medical partners who can start providing patient data, put privacy principles in place, work with hackers to test the system and so on. It's a long list.

The one virtue that even its critics concede to Microsoft is patience. It will need it.

Another Industry Turns to Wireless - security TECH

Retail businesses have traditionally relied on an array of security sensors for intrusion detection systems, including motion detectors, door and safe contacts, glassbreak detectors and fixed-location panic buttons. “Physical security systems are essential in creating the secure environment on which retail businesses rely,” says Larry Halpern, president of Safe Systems Inc., a monitored security company in Louisville , Colo. “Without proper detection systems, the security of customers, employees, the store and its inventory can be put at risk.”

Wireless security systems have been used successfully for more than 20 years in nearly every environment, from financial institutions to government agencies. Offering more flexibility and functionality than a hard-wired system, wireless systems maintain the same sensor options and integrity, but are installed without the cumbersome wiring costs. The added benefits of wireless systems make them an ideal solution for retail applications, large and small.

Why Cut the Cord?
Security systems that rely on wired connections perform adequately in static locations, but once the wire is fixed in place, changing floor plans or making seasonal display adjustments are difficult and costly. Likewise, when a security system is upgraded — during a store remodel, for example — a wireless system is significantly cheaper to install

Hardwiring a security system can be cumbersome and time-consuming, often leading to an unexpectedly large invoice due to unpredictable labor costs. “Many times the expense of wiring a building is not cost effective, and sometimes due to a facility's building construction, it's next to impossible to run the wires,” Halpern says. “In many instances, because of the disruption to employees and the business, you just can't wire it.”

A wireless installation reduces installation costs and ensures a timely completion, while maintaining the secure environment necessary for the success of the business. For example, a large warehouse retailer with a fuel island does not have to trench over to the gas station from the main building. Wireless devices are simply mounted where they are needed.

Every security system requires maintenance, but a wireless system has fewer points of potential failure than its wired counterpart. Wiring can present long-term issues. “Broken wire can be caused by a nail driven into a wall or even a rat chewing through it, resulting in countless wasted hours searching for the failure point. A wireless system, on the other hand, only has its endpoints — making troubleshooting a simple matter of a systematic check,” Halpern says.

The current generation of intelligent wireless systems monitors the integrity of the link between the transmitter and the receiver, ensuring the system is operational without manual intervention.

Of course, periodic manual testing is recommended to ensure system reliability. That holds true for wireless or wired systems — the difference is that the testing is much easier to conduct on a wireless system.

Wireless systems offer additional functional advantages, such as security pendants and adaptability. Security pendants give employees the ability to trigger an alarm from anywhere in the store, lobby or parking lot — an impossibility with a wired system.

A wireless system also allows a retail store to easily adapt to seasonal rearrangements or display changes. “Wireless systems give us more flexibility to deal with changing environments and difficult installations. Because of its inherent benefits, we're installing more and more wireless systems all the time,” says Halpern.

Latest Multipurpose Monitor

The Gateway XHD3000 takes a dramatic step forward in expanding Gateway's award-winning line of HD displays and raising the bar for display technology,
At 30 inches, Gateway's latest monitor, the XHD3000, is designed to be more than just a computer monitor. It's also built to easily handle input from a set-top box, a DVD player, a gaming console and anything else the user may attach to a television. While many consumers may not have seen the point in buying a huge monitor before, this added versatility may change a few minds.

Gateway (NYSE: GTW) upped the ante for plus-sized computer monitors with the Thursday rollout of its latest flat screen, which offers users resolutions at more than four times the level of a standard 720p high definition. Billing it as "the world's first 'Quad-HD' display," Gateway said the XHD3000 is perfect for consumers desirous of "truly remarkable, cinema-quality" viewing.

"The Gateway XHD3000 takes a dramatic step forward in expanding Gateway's award-winning line of HD displays and raising the bar for display technology," said Gary Elsasser, senior vice president of products at Gateway. "Its combination of leading-edge technology and usability features makes it the most advanced and versatile display on the market, and the only display available that is truly equipped to handle any PC or CE video device."

The XHD3000 will be available through Gateway's Web site and 1-800 number as well as at technology and electronics retailers. It is priced at US$1,699.99.

Four Times the Charm

What might set this display apart from similar offerings by Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is not necessarily its size, its 1,600p resolution, or its ultra-wide 178 degree viewing angle. It's not even the monitor's 1,000:1 contrast ratio, 400 cd/m2 brightness or zippy 6-ms refresh rate. Rather, it is the video processor that enables the monitor to process multiple video inputs, including an HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) interface, single and dual-link DVI (digital visual interface) component, S-video, composite and VGA (video graphics array) connections. It supports input from devices such as a TV, a game console, a set-top box, a DVD player and, of course, a computer for up to six video inputs simultaneously.

Gateway's new 30-inch widescreen LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor is capable of rendering 2,560 by 1,600 pixels with the use of Silicon Optix Realta HQV chip and can also upscale 1,080p high-definition video to 1,600p. The hardware maker's claims may include a touch of hyperbole, Tom Mainelli, an IDC analyst, acknowledged, but it offers at least the same resolution as existing models.

"The Silicon Optix Realta HQV video processor allows the monitor to process whatever video you throw at it," he pointed out. "Other current generation 30-inch monitors lack such a processor, which means they require a dual-link DVI connection to the PC. That means you'll need a high-end graphics card, and it also means you typically can't connect it to a notebook."

Aimed at both the workplace and the home "enthusiasts" segment of the market, the monitor will pique the interest of serious PC gamers as well as those looking for a monitor that can double as an entertainment center, thanks in part to the unit's large array of inputs, he told TechNewsWorld. Designers of all types will also find the monitor to their liking on a professional level, Mainelli added.

Features Galore

In addition to its ability to process a wide variety of video inputs, the XHD3000 also includes a range of screen controls not available from other manufacturers as well as picture-in-picture functionality. It includes a four-device universal infrared remote control. In addition to six built-in, self-powered USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports, the monitor also comes with EzTune software, an anti-theft application, that enables users to set the display to function with a specific PC and disable functionality if it is disconnected or removed.

"Other 30-inch displays also lack a full complement of screen controls, and they don't offer all the inputs of the Gateway," Mainelli said. "In this regard, the Gateway has a distinct advantage over other current generation 30-inch displays."

According to Mainelli, the XHD3000 is a "very competitive product.

"It costs more than Dell's current generation 30-inch LCD, but it is far more flexible," he noted. "Apple's 30-inch display remains a stunning looker, but it too lacks the input, video processing and overall flexibility of the Gateway. Plus it still costs more."

For those who say that a 30-inch monitor is a simply overkill and much too big to use, Mainelli said Gateway's new monitor could break through that bias.

"From a usage standpoint, some people consider 30-inch displays simply too big," he explained. "If you're sitting right up close to the monitor you'll find you actually have to turn your head from left to right to take in the entire screen."

As a result, he continued, vendors have begun rolling out new LCD monitors that fit in between the traditional 24-inch and 30-inch categories. They are trying to win over users who want a screen bigger than the 24-inch models but smaller than the huge 30-inch monoliths, offering measurements at 26, 27 and 28 inches.

"On paper, Gateway has put together a very solid product here," Mainelli acknowledged. "I will be interested to see how it fares in this increasingly competitive segment of the LCD monitor market.

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