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Sunday, January 6, 2008

More powerful mega-machines for particle physics(INSIDE THE SUPERNOVA MACHINE )

A suit-clad technician kneels inside the 59-foot-diameter TRIUMF cyclotron during a
maintenance session. The particle accelerator is the world's biggest cyclotron.

In this age of bigger, newer, more powerful mega-machines for particle physics, Canada's 33-year-old TRIUMF cyclotron is literally a blast from the past. Sure, it's the world's biggest cyclotron - but to some physicists that might sound a bit like gushing over the world's most advanced horse and buggy.

In terms of size and sheer power, TRIUMF's 59-foot-wide magnet is dwarfed by Europe's 5.3-mile-wide Large Hadron Collider. When it gets up and running this year, that super-duper-collider will pack a punch 28,000 times greater than TRIUMF's. Nevertheless, there are some things being done at the TRIUMF lab, next to the University of British Columbia's Pacific coast campus, that the bigger places just won't do - such as figuring out how one element turns into another inside an exploding star.

The newfangled big-bang machines in Europe and the United States may grab more of the headlines, based on what may or may not be found in the future - but in the meantime, Canada's 33-year-old supernova machine is working virtually 24/7 on its own assortment of cosmic mysteries.

TRIUMF stands for "Tri-University Meson Facility," but today the consortium actually takes in six Canadian universities, with most of the facility's roughly $60 million in annual funding provided by Canada's National Research Council.

Hundreds of students and other visitors troop through TRIUMF every year - and I got my turn during a November trip to UBC, along with about a dozen researchers and journalists. At least one researcher remembered seeing the place as a high-school student. The cool stuff began right in the reception building, where a cloud chamber is set up behind curtains in a corner.

We took turns looking down through the glass at a dimly illuminated tabletop-sized tank, filled with what looked like a dark liquid. If you catch the light just right, you can see little lines and curlicues being drawn in the air beneath the glass.

"There's a little layer of supersaturated alcohol vapor - it's like this is a refrigerator," our tour guide, University of Manitoba physicist Des Ramsay, told us. "When cosmic rays come through, they leave tracks, like a contrail from an airplane. Occasionally a muon will hit a nucleus in there and knock off an alpha or some heavy, densely ionizing particle, so you see a short, fat track. And sometimes you'll see a track that curls around a lot, which is probably an electron."

This video clip gives you the idea - and making a cloud chamber is actually something you can try at home, assuming you're handy with dry ice, pure isopropyl alcohol and the home-brew construction supplies.

One thing you shouldn't try at home is building a cyclotron, which involves sending a beam of charged particles around a matched pair of D-shaped magnets, each as big as a backyard patio. The particle beam spirals from the center to the outside of the cyclotron, picking up energy every time it crosses the gap between the "dee" magnets.

It's impossible to ramp up the particles to the energies achievable in the ring-shaped Tevatron at Fermilab in Illinois, or at CERN's Large Hadron Collider on the French-Swiss border. But you can get a steady, high-intensity beam at just the right energy for what you're looking for. In fact, you can get several different beams at different energies simultaneously - which is something you just can't do at the Large Hadron Collider.

We weren't allowed to see the cyclotron itself, but we could feel its presence as we stood on a concrete slab three stories above the magnets. Even that far away, with all the shielding between us and the device, the magnetic field is strong enough to make paper clips stand on end - which is the coolest magic trick on the TRIUMF tour.

Once the accelerated protons leave the cyclotron, smaller magnets guide the beam to a variety of destinations. The principal destination is another facility called the Isotope Separator and Accelerator, or ISAC. The protons blast away at a target, creating a rainbow of radioactive isotopes. The isotopes of interest - for instance, potassium-37 - are separated out from the collisions, and those precious particles are accelerated into yet another high-energy beam.

"This is the home of the exploding-star people," Ramsay told us.

The exploding-star people on TRIUMF's DRAGON research team select short-lived isotopes that are thought to exist naturally only inside a star, and smash them into hydrogen or helium nuclei. The results shed additional light on the primordial nuclear reactions that gave rise to the heavier elements we see on Earth today - including the elements needed for life as we know it.

One of TRIUMF's triumphs was to study how smashing together a proton and sodium-21 can produce magnesium-22 and release gamma rays in the process. That's just the kind of reaction that may have taken place eons ago in supernovae. Similar studies have been conducted to trace the transmutation of aluminum isotopes into silicon, then into sulfur, argon and calcium, and at last into titanium.

Such isotopes of all those elements can serve as the "fingerprints" for exploding stars - including the primordial supernova that souped up our own cosmic neighborhood.

TRIUMF's beams produce more down-to-earth benefits as well: One beam is directed to the Proton Irradiation Facility, where satellite components can be tested for radiation sensitivity.

The BC Cancer Agency also uses the beam to treat eye cancer: More than 100 patients have received proton-beam therapy - including blogger Robert Lee, who is documenting his battle against cancer on

Among TRIUMF's other medical products are radioactive isotopes for medical treatments and imaging - products that go to a Canadian company named MDS Nordion in exchange for royalties.

"They play our 'tune,' and they pay us every time they play it," Ramsay said. During 2006, MDS Nordion paid TRIUMF more than $4.5 million for those radioactive tunes.

Researchers from TRIUMF also harmonize with other physicists around the world - even at the Large Hadron Collider, which incorporates kicker magnets contributed by Canada. TRIUMF also provided the end-cap calorimeters for the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider, and will serve as one of the main data distribution centers for the ATLAS experiment.

Someday, ATLAS may pick up the first evidence of the Higgs boson, an elusive subatomic particle that is thought to be responsible for giving other particles their mass. "The first guys who see it probably will get a Nobel Prize," Ramsay told us.

So even though the big news in physics will likely be coming from elsewhere for the next few years, TRIUMF will be sharing in the Large Hadron Collider's glories, as well as celebrating its own scientific triumphs back home in Vancouver. It all goes to show that although there may be rivalries in the race to solve physics' greatest puzzles, scientists around the world - at TRIUMF and at Fermilab as well as at CERN - are all really on the same team.


DDR Supernova: Enough to bring back the Dancing Revolution?
Finally, more then 3 years later after the release of Extreme, a new DDR mix has been announced, DDR SuperNova under the production of the American company Betson. Among the current legal battle between Roxor, Andamiro, and Konami that would decide the future of Bemani games, and In the Groove's National Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada the news came as a shock to everyone. Speculation came from all sides, many didn't even believe it was true, but soon it was proven, in the next few weeks a song list was released, and finally, the first test location was chosen. DDR Supernova came to Europe, with the current explosion of Dancing Stage, it certainly wasn't a bad choice, but many American players were disappointed. Then, a few weeks later, it was released that a test location would be in America. Excited players made posts on the website, a arcade review site that is closely connected with Betson, in hopes to convince Betson of bringing SuperNova to their hometown, however, it seemed that most rhetoric was futile; a test location was soon chosen. Irvine, California became the first test location in the United States, a mere 15 miles away from my current living quarters. I spent most of the weekend with the SuperNova machine and simply the presence of its beta version is already causing quite a lot of talk.

The cabinet itself was a regular DDR cabinet, slightly larger in the back, with a new banner and stickers on the side. Aside from the back, no changes seemed to have been made to this machine from the Extreme machine. However, according to Betson, the actual new SuperNova machine will be drastically different from the old machines, including new hardware inside, a flat screen monitor, and a larger actual cabinet.

The graphics on the game itself look much more clean, and streaming videos apply to every single song, if a song doesn't have a specific video, it will contain dancer footage.

There will be background dancers, dancing to the bpm of the song, for every song similar to the home version. However, you will be unable to choose which background dancers you would like to have as they will be randomly chosen for you.

The beta sported 150 different songs, but Betson promised that the released version would have over 300. All of the songs from Extreme were present, as well as songs from the home versions, and roughly 20 brand new never before seen songs. The songs provided a nice variety, but it was quite clear that Konami was drawing heavily from their other successful Bemani franchises, Beatmania IIDX, and Guitarfreaks and Drummania. Songs like No.13, RedZone, and Xepher from IIDX, and Dragon Blade, konoko no nanatsu no oiwai from Guitarfreaks, as well as licensed songs, one in particular that grabbed a lot of attention, a remix of Britney Spear's hit song, 'Toxic'. Some of the Japanese names of songs have been replaced with English for the American version. For example, 'Mikeneko Rock' is now, 'Calico Cat Rock.' The song selection screen contains a new color scheme and better graphics with the banners and difficulty notification that brings back stream, chaos, freeze, voltage, and air on the radar.

A huge issue for many of the hardcore players was if DDR Supernova would provide the ITG generation of players with a new challenge that the past DDR's could not in comparison with ITG. The obvious answer to this question is no, DDR Supernova does not. Aside from the new extra stage, 'Fascination Maxx' there are no songs that can compete with the difficulty of some of the 12 and 13 footers on In the Groove. It is clear that Konami is not trying to compete with In the Groove, but instead provide old loyal DDR Players with what they are best at, a game that is fun. In talking with the Betson representative I asked who the main audience DDRSupernova is trying to reach, he told me that it was the hardcore players. If this was the case, the beta did not show it. In all the new songs, only two were 10 footers, Fascination Maxx, and Paranoia Respect. However, what was not shown on the beta, but promised by Betson may come as a relief to the hardcore players. Betson promises that every new song will have challenge steps along with the expert steps already seen. For some songs such as Konoko, Dragon Blade, and No.13 which seem to be some of the most difficult new songs, this provides quite a lot of promise for a challenge. Nonstop Courses and Oni were also not available, and these two modes, which are not available in In the Groove, may also help to provide a longer lasting appeal to hardcore players. All of the original DDR mods still remain and no change has been shown in the beta to match ITG modifications like mines or hands.

Over the weekend it was in Irvine, some of California's top players AAAed many of the songs, and one player even ended up passing Fascination Maxx. The bottom line is that difficulty was definitely the beta's weakest post. Luckily, the representative from Betson was able to assure the players of the challenge that will be offered in the final version. It certainly will not be an In The Groove when it comes to difficulty, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. And as far as the extent of competition between the two companies, that will be decided by one thing, the lawsuit. Konami has yet to give a specific release date and is currently only citing a release in Spring 2006. It has also been revealed that the full version of Supernova will debut at the E3 entertainment expo in Los Angeles, CA this week. We also know that it will be first released in the United States before anywhere else in the world, unlike every other one of Konami's DDR arcade machines. The success of Supernova could make or break the future of music games. After a sharp decline of interest in music games in Japan where these games first emerged Konami has hoped that the popularity would spread to the rest of the world. Whether or not Supernova is a success could have dire consequences on the future of Konami's Bemani series as well as arcades all across the country. The definition of supernova states that it is the phenomena bringing about a huge sensational explosion that is short lived. Will SuperNova live up to its name and fizzle out like so many other arcade games? Or will its spectacular luminescence bring light into the hearts of video game enthusiasts everywhere? We'll just have to wait and see what the future holds for our little star.

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HD DVD supporters and vendors pause and regroup


Warner Bros. Entertainment unit will release its high-definition DVDs exclusively using Sony's Blu-ray DVD format (R) as of June 1 this year, according to U.S. media reports Saturday

Warner's Blu-ray Endorsement Boosts the Buzz at CES
HD DVD supporters and vendors pause and regroup after Warner's surprise vote in the format war.
The decision by Warner Bros. to drop HD DVD in favor of Blu-ray Disc for high-definition movies has set the electronics industry abuzz. Announced on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show, the move put a single question in the minds of thousands of industry-insiders heading to the show in Las Vegas: Could the high-definition format wars be over?

Long Skirmish

Since both formats launched they have been locked in a battle that pitted some of the industry's biggest consumer electronics companies against each other. Backing Blu-ray Disc has been Sony, Panasonic and Samsung, while HD DVD's main supporters have been Toshiba, Microsoft and Intel.

The battle also divided Hollywood and left consumers with a difficult choice: their favorite movies were likely split between the two formats and there was a risk the player they bought would become irrelevant. As a result consumers kept away from the formats and sales have been sluggish.

Warner's decision will give Blu-ray Disc an advantage in terms of content. With the move, five of the big seven Hollywood studios now back Blu-ray Disc with only two, Paramount and Universal, backing HD DVD.

The Warner announcement certainly put the HD DVD Promotion Group's CES plans in disarray. Within hours of the announcement, the group cancelled its scheduled Sunday-evening news conference and subsequent media interviews at CES.

Consumer Benefit?
"They're definitely regrouping and considering their options at the moment, this could be extremely important," said Tom Coughlin, a storage analyst at Coughlin Associates. "This could be the beginning of a major pivotal turning point in the high-def format war, which if we could define the format which is going to win would be extremely important for the industry because this would free up consumers to start making decisions on the purchase of their systems."

Better sales would help consumer electronics manufacturers increase production and that would in turn lead to lower prices, said Coughlin. Those lower prices would then lead to better sales and that would help the entire industry, he said.

Warner touched on the format battle's impact on the consumer electronics industry in a statement announcing its move.

"A two-format landscape has led to consumer confusion and indifference toward high definition, which has kept the technology from reaching mass adoption and becoming the important revenue stream that it can be for the industry," said Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner's home entertainment group in a statement.

Whether or not the fight is really over remains to be seen.

Toshiba said it was "quite surprised" by the announcement from Warner "despite the fact that there are various contracts in place between our companies concerning the support of HD DVD."

"We will assess the potential impact of this announcement with the other HD DVD partner companies and evaluate potential next steps. We remain firm in our belief that HD DVD is the format best suited to the wants and needs of the consumer," Toshiba said in a statement.

Just the Latest Win
For some, the Warner decision marks the end of the format battle.

"I think the war is over. HD DVD has lost. It really is game-over for Toshiba and the other vendors," said Robin Harris, an analyst with Data Mobility Group. "The basic issue is not technology. It's about distribution, it's about marketing, it's about content and Blu-ray has been winning the content war for sometime. I don't know why [Toshiba] keeps pouring money into it, it's time to stop."

Harris credited Sony's inclusion of Blu-ray Disc in the PlayStation 3 with being one of the instrumental moves in winning the fight for Blu-ray Disc.

"I think Sony's brilliant move and one of the few they have made in this effort is putting Blu-ray into PS3," he said. "Even though PS3 hasn't sold so well in the console wars, in terms of being a platform for Blu-ray distribution it's been a success for them and I think that's what really put Blu-ray over the top."

The praise comes as Sony has finally started to see PlayStation 3 sales pick-up after a year of sluggish sales. Ironically the company has been often criticized by analysts and the media for the inclusion of Blu-ray Disc in the device as that contributed to a high price that put many consumers off buying the high-def games console.

See PC World's ongoing coverage of the Consumer Electronics show at the CES InfoCenter.

Warner Bros. to release Blu-ray DVDs exclusively

Warner Bros. Entertainment unit will release its high-definition DVDs exclusively using Sony's Blu-ray DVD format as of June 1 this year, according to U.S. media reports Saturday.
Time Warner's Warner Bros., Hollywood's biggest seller of DVDs, represents about 18 to 20 percent of sales in the U.S. and was one of the few studios that backed both formats.

The news was announced by the company Friday afternoon, Warner, which had been supporting both formats, will drop HD DVD by the end of May in favor of Tokyo-based Sony Corp.'s Blu-ray.

"We believe that exclusively distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass-market success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers, and most importantly, consumers," said Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros.

This is seen as a major victory for Sony as it attempts to make Blu-ray the high-definition standard over rival Toshiba's HD-DVD format, according to the reports.

Warner Bros. studio, the second-largest in 2007 U.S. box-office receipts, joins Walt Disney Co. and News Corp.'s Fox in backing Blu-ray exclusively. The top studio, Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, uses HD DVD, as does DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and General Electric Co.'s Universal Pictures.

Some saw the move as an end to the war that has confused consumers about which standard to choose. Players using one standard are unable to play DVDs made using the other standard.

"We expect HD DVD to 'die' a quick death, versus a prolonged format war," Pali Capital analyst Rich Greenfield said.

Blu-ray and HD DVD players read DVDs with a blue-violet laser to play videos in high-definition. Blu-ray discs are generally able to process data at a higher rate than HD.

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Fujifilm on Friday introduced the FinePix Z100fd digital camera, a new 8-megapixel point-and-shoot model

Fujifilm Unveils FinePix Z100fd

New 8-megapixel point-and-shoot model adds 'Blog Mode' option to automatically resize shots for fast posting.
Fujifilm on Friday introduced the FinePix Z100fd digital camera, a new 8-megapixel point-and-shoot model that will go on sale this month for US$249.95.

The camera measures 19.8mm thick, but features a 2.7-inch LCD viewfinder with reinforced glass coating and a 5x optical zoom lens. It comes in four two-toned color schemes, including pink, silver, brown and black and white. The camera also sports face detection auto-focus and exposure technology and automatic red eye removal.

Other features include "Blog Mode," which resizes images to 640 by 480; photo folder management; dual shot mode (one with a flash, one without); 16 scene positions; "auction mode" for preparing photos for use on eBay and other auction sites; the capability to capture 640 by 480 movies at 30 frames per second; a rotary dial menu and other capabilities.

The camera writes images to a single media slot that accepts xD Picture Cards, SD cards and SDHC cards. It's powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery, and connects to a host Mac using USB 2.0.

Entertainment unit announced Friday it would start releasing high-definition DVDs

Television images are reflected on a sign for Blu-ray Discs at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, January 9, 2007. Blu-ray high-definition movie discs outsold films on the rival HD-DVD format by 2-to-1 in the United States in the first half of 2007

Warner Bros. Picks Blu-ray DVD Format

Time Warner's Warner Bros. Entertainment unit announced Friday it would start releasing high-definition DVDs exclusively using Sony's (SNE - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) Blu-ray DVD format.

The news is a major victory for Sony as it attempts to make Blu-ray the high-definition standard over rival Toshiba's HD-DVD format. Sony Pictures, News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox and Disney (DIS - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) already have decided to use Blu-ray exclusively. That leaves Viacom's (VIA - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) Paramount and GE's Universal as the only HD-DVD boosters among the major Hollywood studios.

Warner Bros., which until now has produced titles in both formats, said it would continue to release HD-DVDs until the end of May, after which it will stop producing them.

High-definition DVD adoption has suffered because consumers have been confused about which standard to choose. Players using one standard are unable to play DVDs made using the other standard.

"The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger," said Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. "We believe that exclusively distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass-market success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers, and most importantly, consumers."

Shares of Sony closed down $1.93 at $52.42 Friday following a broad market selloff. Shares of Time Warner ended the session down 42 cents at $15.91.

New Line Shifts to Blu-ray Exclusivity
sister company New Line has confirmed that it will support Blu-ray Disc high def releases exclusively. New Line has previously delayed their day-and-date new releases on HD DVD due to the format's lack of region coding, effectively making titles such as Shoot 'em Up, Hairspray, and Rush Hour 3 exclusive to Blu-ray. Although a 2008 release slate for the studio has not been released, an announcement may be possible at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

municipal wireless plans.

San Francisco's New Wi-Fi Provider Plays it Safe

As Meraki takes over the project, it applies a strategy to duck the problems that have stalled municipal wireless plans.

Meraki Networks' plan to cover San Francisco with free Wi-Fi, with residents' help, could be a way around the political and business barriers some municipal wireless projects have run into.

New Tactics

The startup, partly funded by Google, believes it will succeed where EarthLink and Google did not: Building Wi-Fi access throughout San Francisco at no cost to the city. It expects to finish by year's end, filling the whole city with 1M bps (bit per second) coverage.

The catch is that Meraki is footing the whole bill on this project so it can learn how to roll out such networks for profit elsewhere. The good news, if the plan works, is that it could do so for less than US$5 million, lower than the cost many other municipal wireless projects have run into. That's partly because of intelligence in access points and software, making the network more robust with fewer nodes, according to Meraki spokeswoman Erika Shaffer.

Meraki will build the backbone of its network with solar-powered rooftop access points and fill out its coverage with smaller repeaters to sit in windows or on balconies. Both will be designed and built by Meraki and provided free to residents and businesses that agree to house the gear on their property in return for better coverage. All the nodes will be meshed, so Meraki won't have to get wired broadband links everywhere its access points go.

The idea has potential in developing countries with little broadband, where Meraki sees its biggest market, but also in highly wired cities such as San Francisco, analysts said.

Customers Chip In

A key advantage is that by asking users instead of the city for mounting rights for its gear, Meraki will bypass the rancorous political fights over contract terms like the one that slowed down EarthLink's initiative last year. But seeking volunteers also makes sure that however fully Meraki has actually covered the city by the end of the year, it is pretty sure to have coverage where people actually want it.

"You know exactly where your coverage needs to be, because someone just asked you for a repeater," said IDC analyst Godfrey Chua.

Meraki believes it won't have any trouble getting people to host repeaters in their homes, based on its existing test networks in parts of San Francisco, Shaffer said. There are about 500 repeaters today, and about 40,000 people have used the network, she said.

Another problem that would seem to solve itself, assuming the network and distribution system run smoothly, is the difficult issue of indoor coverage, said Craig Settles, an independent municipal network analyst at EarthLink's network was to be built largely on streetlights and electricity poles, which are well suited to mobile outdoor coverage, but not so good for providing home broadband to residents who can't afford wired alternatives, Settles said. Meraki's small repeaters are designed for indoor coverage in the home where they're located as well as to flesh out the whole network.

Price is Right

On the San Francisco network, which Meraki will treat as a research and development cost, the company will test advertising as a possible revenue source for future deployments. When it approaches service providers that want to charge for access, it will also offer a billing system. Meraki has trials going on today with carriers in developing countries, Shaffer said.

In places where most people don't yet have broadband, Meraki's approach could be an attractive low-cost alternative, analysts said. However, WiMax, which requires far fewer base stations than Wi-Fi because it has a longer range, also has relatively low costs and is already a competitor in those markets, Chua said.

"I doubt that Wi-Fi would be the dominant access medium in emerging markets," Chua said. .


San Francisco's much-ballyhooed citywide..

San Francisco's much-ballyhooed citywide free wifi initiative collapsed last September after the primary sponsors, Earthlink and Google, couldn't make it work. Now new startup Meraki Networks (which has Google as an investor) is stepping up to the plate, trying to circumvent bureaucratic installation headaches by giving away free wifi radio repeaters to residents willing to mount them in their homes. Supposedly this method will mean a total cost of only a "few million dollars" rather than the $14-$17 million of the first plan. So far, Meraki has given away 500 repeaters sufficient to provide wifi for about 40,000 users.

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Facebook users warned of 'secret crush' threat

Internet security provider Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. issued a warning Saturday of a so-called malware threat to users of social-networking site Facebook.

The Tel Aviv-based maker of software to secure networks against intrusions said "secret crush" is a new software program distributed through Facebook which allows third-party software vendors to plug applications into the Web site.

Technology giant Microsoft Corp.has a stake in Facebook. The networking site has been making strides against larger competitor MySpace, owned by News Corp. has a stake in Facebook. The networking site has been making strides against larger competitor MySpace, owned by News Corp.According to Check Point,the threat spreads by sending Facebook users a note that a friend has a "crush" on them. The user is asked to download an application, which leads to an adware application.
When opening unknown attachments, people are more likely to be exposed to "phishing" scams that can put deceptive and harmful programs or files, or malware, on their computer operating systems.

about Facebook
Facebook - The Complete Biography
is the second largest social network on the web, behind only MySpace in terms of traffic. Primarily focused on high school to college students, Facebook has been gaining market share, and more significantly a supportive user base. Since their launch in February 2004, they’ve been able to obtain over 8 million users in the U.S. alone and expand worldwide to 7 other English-speaking countries, with more to follow. A growing phenomenon, let’s discover Facebook.

The Facebook Phenomenon

First, let’s start by looking into Facebook in a broad spectrum - as the network, the phenomenon, the company, and its brand.


Originally called thefacebook, Facebook was founded by former-Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (while at Harvard) who ran it as one of his hobby projects with some financial help from Eduardo Saverin. Within months, Facebook and its core idea spread across the dorm rooms of Harvard where it was very well received. Soon enough, it was extended to Stanford and Yale where, like Harvard, it was widely endorsed.

Before he knew it, Mark Zuckerberg was joined by two other fellow Harvard-students - Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes - to help him grow the site to the next level. Only months later when it was officially a national student network phenomenon, Zuckerberg and Moskovitz dropped out of Harvard to pursue their dreams and run Facebook full time. In August 2005, thefacebook was officially called Facebook and the domain was purchased for a reported $200,000.


Unlike its competitors MySpace, Friendster, Xanga, hi5, Bebo, and others, Facebook isn’t available to everyone — which explains its relatively low user count. Currently, users must be members of one of the 30,000+ recognized schools, colleges, universities, organizations, and companies within the U.S, Canada, and other English-speaking nations. This generally involves having a valid e-mail ID with the associated institution.

Surveys & Studies

A large number of surveys and studies have been conducted around Facebook - some with interesting results. For instance, according to an internal September 2005 survey, approximately 85% of the students in the supported colleges had a Facebook account, with 60% of them logging in daily. A survey conducted by Student Monitor revealed Facebook was the most “in” thing after the iPod and tying with beer, and comScore Media Metrix discovered users spend approximately 20 minutes everyday on Facebook. Another 2005 survey said 90% of all undergraduates in the U.S. use either Facebook or MySpace regularly, and a detailed questionnaire analysis by Chris Roberts revealed that 76.2% never click on its ads. Perhaps the most amazing statistic of all may be that Facebook is the 7th most trafficked site in the U.S.

Business & Funding

Given the situation other social networks on the web are facing, Facebook is in a good position financially. While it hasn’t managed to get acquired like its rival MySpace (despite some rumors about an $800m deal with Viacom), it’s been quite lucky in most aspects. For its initial funding, it received $500,000 from Peter Theil, co-founder of PayPal. A few months later, it was also able to get $13 million from Accel Partners, who are also investors in 15 other Web 2.0 startups, and $25 million from Greylock Partners, making their overall venture equal to approximately $40 million.

For users, Facebook’s core service is completely free and ad-supported. In fact, in August 2006 Facebook signed a three year deal with Microsoft to provide and sell ads on their site in return for a revenue split. The deal followed an announcement from Facebook’s direct competitor MySpace who signed a similar deal with Google. The youthful demographic that both the services attract is highly prized amongst advertisers and should return a good amount of revenue for both the services to stay alive - and profit. Another deal which made news in July was Facebook’s agreement with Apple to give away 10 million free iTunes samplers to Facebook users. A deal has also been signed to provide Facebook credit cards.

Lawsuits & Concerns

In its early days, Facebook faced an extremely threatening lawsuit from ConnectU, a very similar social network which - like Facebook - shares its roots back to Harvard, and as a result almost got shutdown. The founders of ConnectU alleged that Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg stole source code while he was in their employment. Zuckerberg denied the allegation and the lawsuit was dismissed.

Facebook has also been host to other issues and concerns, especially in the privacy sector where its privacy policy states “Facebook also collects information about you from other sources, such as newspapers and instant messaging services. This information is gathered regardless of your use of the Web Site.” Another theory is that Facebook could also be a data-gathering project or if not, used extensively for these purposes. Facebook’s policy also states that it “may share your information with third parties, including responsible companies with which we have a relationship.”

The Service
Now, let’s look into Facebook - the service itself, and some of its features, highlights, and the things that got Facebook where it is today.

Facebook Profiles
As Facebook has evolved, so have its profile pages - new fields have been added and users can share more information than before.

A typical Facebook profile consists of a number of different sections, including Information, Status, Friends, Friends in Other Networks, Photos, Notes, Groups, and The Wall. Most of the sections are self-explanatory but some are specific to Facebook.

Facebook Photos
With over 1.5 million photos uploaded daily, one of Facebook’s most popular features has been the ability to upload photos. Users can upload unlimited photos from their cell phone or through its Java-based web interface. Facebook is one of the few services to offer an unlimited quota with their only restriction being a 60-photos-per-album limit - this is much appreciated by Facebook’s college demographic.

The process of uploading photos is very simple. Users create albums which they can assign limitations to (e.g. visible to my friends only) and upload photos within them. The album is then put into their profile, and other users with right credentials have the ability to see and comment on them. Facebook also gives the feature to share the photos with a simple web link or send them via AIM or by e-mail. What’s more, users can also order prints online through a simple integrated interface.

Facebook Groups

Just like every other social network, Facebook has something called ‘groups.’ Users can create new ones or join and participate in existing ones. This is also displayed in their profile and is a good indication of hobbies and interests a person might have.

There are two kind of groups, a normal group and a secret group, which isn’t shown on the profile. A normal group is just like any other, but users can also create and invite others into secret groups. These can be used for collaborating on university projects, and provide a way to have closed discussions. About 80% of the groups are ‘fun-related’ and companies can even sponsor groups - as is the case with, for example, the Apple users group.

Facebook Events
Another Facebook success is their ‘events’ feature, which provides the ability to organize, be part of, and plan for events. This feature has been extremely successful when it comes to organizing parties.

Along with organizing and joining events, users can also invite and recommend others to an event. This feature, however, has raised some controversy as it is generally the start of underage drinking and dry campus violations. Colleges and universities use the feature to catch planning of such events before hand and investigate those that are over. In any case, it’s one of the most popular features of the service and even beats some of the competing products made specifically for this purpose.

Facebook Developers

As of August 2006, Facebook has offered a free Developers API called Facebook Developers. This essentially gives anyone access to Facebook’s internals and lets programmers create widgets, mashups, tools and projects based around Facebook.

This is an important feature for Facebook since it makes it the first major social network to give access to its API. Although it is limited to 100,000 requests a day, it’s more than enough for a decent web app to come through. What’s more, a selection of applications have already been created. FaceBank is a promising tool which lets you ‘keep track of depts and shared expenses with friends.’ Another interesting application is lickuacious which lets you ‘rank your friends by wall popularity.’ The Wall, of course, is Facebook’s comments feature.

Facebook Notes

Facebook’s most recent addition launched in late August. The service is called Facebook Notes, and allows users to write a Facebook blog. All notes are displayed in the user’s profile, and other members can add comments.

Notes possesses an important feature, which is the ability to import and syndicate an external blog, although unlike Technorati, doesn’t allow you to claim one only to yourself (e.g. it’s possible to claim the New York Times syndication feed easily in one’s Notes). The service allows HTML to be included in the posts, although JavaScript and Flash are disabled. You can attach photos and also post via cell phone by sending your notes to Another interesting feature is tagging - tagging a post with a username will automatically send it to that specific user. The Notes feature has been well received.

The Future

Facebook is a massively successful social networking service that grew to prominence in virtually no time. It’s not hard to see why: its features and tools are highly appealing, and Facebook users are extremely well networked in real life. Rumors of an acquisition continue to circulate, with some estimates putting the price in the billions of dollars. In the short term, however, Facebook plans to go it alone, continuing to build out one of the world’s most successful social networks.

One child one laptop :Intel Quits Effort to Get Computers to Children

Last year if it is said that the year was for one laptop for one children ,no doubt goes true.
I personaly and my all associates was inspired to do such a good thing following the innitiative,so we want to hear that sence its really bad news that a frail partnership between Intel and the One Laptop Per Child educational computing group was undone last month in part by an Intel saleswoman: She tried to persuade a Peruvian official to drop the country’s commitment to buy a quarter-million of the organization’s laptops in favor of Intel PCs.

Intel and the group had a rocky relationship from the start in their short-lived effort to get inexpensive laptops into the hands of the world’s poorest children.

But the saleswoman’s tactic was the final straw for Nicholas Negroponte, the former Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer researcher and founder of the nonprofit effort.

He demanded that Intel stop what he saw as efforts to undermine the group’s sales, which meant ceasing to sell the rival computer. Intel chose instead to withdraw its support from One Laptop this week.

The project has been a lightning rod for controversy largely because the world’s most powerful software and chip making companies — Microsoft and Intel — had long resisted the project, for fear, according to many industry executives, that it would compete in markets they hoped to develop.

As a result, One Laptop’s XO computer comes with a processor built by Intel’s rival Advanced Micro Devices and open-source software, rather than Microsoft’s Windows and Office software.

After several years of publicly attacking the XO, Intel reversed itself over the summer and joined the organization’s board, agreeing to make an $18 million contribution and begin developing an Intel-based version of the computer.

Although Intel made an initial $6 million payment to One Laptop, the partnership was troubled from the outset as Intel sales representatives in the field competed actively against the $200 One Laptop machine by trying to sell a rival computer, a more costly Classmate PC.

The Classmate sells for about $350 with an installed version of Microsoft Office, and Intel is selling the machine through an array of sales organizations outside the United States.

Even after Intel joined the One Laptop board, in country after country, the two organizations competed to make government sales, Mr. Negroponte said yesterday in a telephone interview. The relationship first frayed seriously in October, he said, when an Intel salesman gave a Mongolian government official a side-by-side comparison of the Classmate PC and the XO.

Mr. Negroponte said he was infuriated and threatened to throw Intel off the One Laptop board. In response, Intel’s chief executive, Paul S. Otellini, agreed to change Intel practices and he accelerated the development of the Intel prototype.

Sean Maloney, the company’s top sales and marketing executive, sent e-mail instructions to the sales team that were intended to end the practice of product comparisons.

Mr. Negroponte said eliminating the comparisons was required as part of a nondisparagement clause in the partnership agreement the two companies had signed.

In the field, according to Mr. Negroponte, nothing changed.

He complained, in particular, that Intel sales representatives were claiming that as a result of the company’s board position at One Laptop, Intel had information suggesting that the organization was in trouble.

Intel refused to respond to Mr. Negroponte’s specific account of the events that led to the end of the partnership.

Instead, Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman, reiterated the company’s statement that Intel had decided to leave the organization after it reached a stalemate over whether the chip maker could continue to promote the Classmate.

“Our position continues to be that at the core of this is a philosophical impasse about how the market gets served,” he said.

Mr. Negroponte said that an Intel representative did not attend a board meeting of the group in Miami last month, citing a potential conflict of interest.

At the meeting, the board agreed that Mr. Negroponte should make a final effort to end Intel’s efforts to disrupt One Laptop’s sales.

A rapprochement never happened, however.

“They played another dirty trick in Peru,” he said. “It’s a little bit like McDonald’s competing with the World Food Program.”

In Peru, where One Laptop has begun shipping the first 40,000 PCs of a 270,000 system order, Isabelle Lama, an Intel saleswoman, tried to persuade Peru’s vice minister of education, Oscar Becerra Tresierra, that the Intel Classmate PC was a better choice for his primary school students.

Unfortunately for Intel, the vice minister is a longtime acquaintance of Mr. Negroponte and Seymour Papert, a member of the One Laptop team and an M.I.T. professor who developed the Logo computer programming language. The education minister took notes on his contacts with the Intel saleswoman and sent them to One Laptop officials.

In a telephone interview Friday, Mr. Tresierra said that his government had asked Intel for a proposal for secondary-school machines, and it had responded with a proposal offering the Classmate PC for primary grades.

“We told them this is a final decision, we are running the primary-grade project with the XO,” he said. “She wasn’t very happy.”

He said the decision to purchase the XO had come after the government had run a pilot project with the computers. “We were very happy with the results,” he said.

Until Intel surprised him by quitting on Thursday, Mr. Negroponte said he had still held out some hope that the relationship could be saved. The Intel XO was supposed to be introduced next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in keynote speeches to be made by Mr. Negroponte and Mr. Otellini, but the prototype will now be set aside.

Intel’s decision to leave was announced first in a series of phone calls made by a company spokesman to a small group of reporters. Some time later, D. Bruce Sewell, Intel’s senior vice president and general counsel, sent an e-mail message to Mr. Negroponte.

The note said that the statement, which had already been reported by wire services, was an inadvertent leak. He apologized for the way the announcement was handled.

For his part, Mr. Negroponte said he still hoped to sell two million to three million computers this year. He said that on Monday, if all goes well, he will announce a major order. Mr. Negroponte had originally hoped to sell up to five million computers.

The group did not get major orders; instead One Laptop has continued with a variety of smaller deals in countries including Uruguay, Peru and Mexico.

The group, based in Cambridge, Mass., announced Friday that its two-month “Give One, Get One” charitable promotion had generated $35 million and sold a total of 167,000 computers, half of them to be distributed in the developing world.

He said he still believed that the XO could have a big impact.

“If I can sell 1.5 million computers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Ethiopia, I will feel a lot better than other sales we might make.”

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