We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

On crime, cookies and dirty pictures

(a number of articles from various issues of the JPM Daily Tech)
Europeans adopt first cyber-crime treaty
The 43-nation Council of Europe adopted a non-binding treaty on cyber-crime, Reuters reported yesterday. It is the first international treaty on criminal offenses committed over the Internet. The treaty criminalizes activities, such as fraud and child pornography committed on the Web. It also sets up global policing procedures for conducting computer searches, intercepting e-mails, and extraditing criminal suspects. The treaty has to be ratified by individual states and its provisions incorporated into national law.

Score one for the good guys…
On the flip side, for the US readers this implies that Uncle Sam can dip into your cookie jar anytime he wants something to snack on, that pesky Fourth Amendment not withstanding
Europe moves to protect data privacy, votes to ban cookies
The European Parliament snubbed a request by President Bush to allow authorities more access to Europeans’ private data, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Voting on a bill governing communications privacy issues, the Parliament overwhelmingly supported the European Union’s status quo, which bans the routine collection of data such as telephone and Internet-activity logs for any purpose other than billing. It also voted to ban Web-site operators from placing files on people’s computers without permission and commercial operators in general from sending unsolicited faxes and mobile-phone messages. It stopped short of banning spam.

This one could probably be subtitled as “I’m gonna break your metal face” is simply an expression of liberty and equality.
BattleBots see women and men competing equally in engineering
BattleBots are robots that attempt to destroy each other in tournaments. In BattleBots, women are full participants in designing, building, operating, and repairing the aggressive hunks of metal, Wired News reported yesterday. In the U.S. BattleBot tournaments are broadcast on Comedy Central.
At the latest BattleBot tournament, the first all-women’s collegiate team from the University of Tulsa competed in the superheavyweight division with their spinner bot, Hurricane. The Tulsa team, made up of about 15 engineering students, designed Hurricane in January and put it together over the summer. The Tulsa team plans to tour local schools with Hurricane to encourage kids to pursue math and science.

JPM DailyTech Editor’s comment: Unlike boxing or other sports where the sexes are divided, in BattleBots women and men compete against each other directly. At least, their robots do. BattleBots can weigh up to 350 pounds. No individual is picking one up, so brawn isn’t an asset. Women still are a distinct minority in these tournaments, but at least the playing field in this sport is level.
BattleBot tournaments are set in a fight format, but they are really challenges of engineering design and manufacturing skill. They are similar to stock car races, which are a test of engineering, but also a test of driver skill, physical strength, and stamina. In BattleBot competitions, which last only a few minutes, the driver’s outside the ring controlling the vehicle through a remote control device. No crash helmets needed.

And now, three for the drooling techno-philes in the audience (and you know who you are…) to whom the words “More! More! Faster! Faster!” mean something entirely different.
Intel funnels PC advances into motherboard
Intel displayed its next generation motherboard, code named Hannacroix, at this week’s Comdex show, CNET News reported yesterday. It’s a vehicle to demonstrate many technologies Intel hopes to see in future PCs, including the faster version two of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) connections, Serial ATA connections to hard drives, six-speaker audio, and 802.11b and Bluetooth wireless networking.
With Hannacroix, Intel decided to support both USB 2.0 and Firewire, two dueling standards for connecting devices such as digital cameras, MP3 players, network cards, and hard disks. USB 2.0 is much faster than the current version of USB, which is best for devices with low data-transfer demands, such as mice or keyboards. Microsoft initially snubbed USB 2.0 in Windows XP but later announced support.

JPM Tech Daily Editor’s comment: The new motherboard design is all about speed and connectivity. Addressing performance bottlenecks will help move the PC upscale into server and mainframe markets. Intel isn’t sure whether USB or Firewire will dominate external connections, so it’s supporting both standards. It’s not sure whether 802.11b or Bluetooth will become the wireless communication standard, so it’s supporting both.
Inside the computer, Intel is addressing another major communications bottleneck, the hard drive. Although processors, hard drives, and other components have increased in speed and performance, the conduits that connect these parts have not. This has resulted in the equivalent of traffic jams inside computers. Serial ATA will effectively double the bandwidth between disk drives and other PC components. It will also allow drives to communicate independently with the CPU. Most visibly, Serial ATA will get rid of the wide ribbon cables, an artifact of the original PC designs, which now impede airflow inside a computer.

IBM to build second Blue Gene supercomputer
IBM will build a supercomputer that is smaller and 15 times speedier than the current fastest computer, Reuters reported today. The new computer will be used for everything from weather modeling, to studying genomics data, and running commercial database applications. It is the second computer planned as part of an expanding five-year, $100 million project called Blue Gene that IBM began in 1999 with the intention of studying proteins. Blue Gene/L is expected to be completed in 2004, and will have a processing speed of 200 teraflops, or 200 trillion calculations per second.

Nanowires may help detect pathogens
Scientists have created transistors out of tiny crystal nanowires less than a millionth of an inch wide and several thousandths of an inch long, The New York Times reported today. Dr. Charles M. Lieber, who led the Harvard chemistry team that built the nanowires said that they might make good sensors for proteins, DNA, and other biological molecules. Among other things, that could aid the development of devices to detect pathogens like anthrax, he said.

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