While knowing how to string together words puts food on my table, FreeRice.com is trying to let you use such powers for the good of others with their vocabulary-testing site. FreeRice will service up a quick little vocab quiz with a word and four answers. If you answer correctly, the service donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program to give away to impoverished or hunger stricken people. If you're wrong, it'll let you know what the correct answer was and give you a chance at a new word while ramping down the … Read more
It's not the amount that counts--it's the first few milliliters.
That's the word from Helen Lee, an associate professor at the University of Cambridge, who invented the FirstBurst, that device you see in her hands. It captures the first part of a male patient's urine sample and seals it off into a tube. Those initial milliliters are the ones doctors need for testing. Lee hopes to see the device get shipped into emerging markets to help health professionals. (She has also invented a device for rapidly testing for chlamydia.)
The FirstBurst testing has been fairly rigorous. … Read more
The Bush administration plans to fight a recent court decision that threatens to curb its powers to obtain logs of Americans' Internet activities without court approval.
As expected, the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday filed a notice that it plans to appeal a September federal court ruling that declared the surveillance tactic, known as a national security letter, to be unconstitutional. The government's filing was one paragraph long and came with no additional comment, according to the Associated Press.
The power to use national security letters has been around for a few decades, but it was effectively … Read more
A few months ago I wrote that one of the hottest tickets at this year's Cannes Film Festival was U2 3D, a 3D concert film about the popular band made using the technology of two companies helping to make 3D films a regular part of the movie going experience: 3ality and Real D.
Now, U2 3D is set to be accessible even to those of us who couldn't make it to the Riveria to hobnob with Leo and Bobby and the rest of the gang.
According to a release I got this morning from National Geographic Cinema Ventures, … Read more
You're a dedicated digital professional of some kind, shackled to your desk all week. But you're a fearless explorer of the natural world on your days off. When you get ready for your next overland adventure, you can plan your route down the Shenandoah River or up Mount Everest with pens, highlighters and a large collection of topographical maps unfolded over every available surface--or you can use one little CD-ROM from National Geographic. No, you cannot plan it all out on a GPS. You need some old-fashioned know-how to go with your newfangled technology.
Assuming you have a … Read more
Finally, here's a phone plan that allows you to switch from the U.S. government's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network to the Unclassified but Sensitive Internet Protocol Router Network with a single keystroke.
The National Security Agency has authorized military and government personnel to order up a bunch of General Dynamics' Sectera Edge secure, wireless smartphones, which will not only allow them to make secure calls but also to e-mail and Web-browse in either classified or unclassified mode.
The phones will still operate right along with everyone else on the existing high-speed Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), … Read more
The government will spend $26 million on high-end computers to cut costs and standardize systems among the three U.S. labs charged with ensuring the safety and reliability of the nation's aging nuclear stockpile.
The Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) awarded the multimillion-dollar contract to Milpitas, Calif.-based Appro to supply Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories with 438 teraflop high-performance computing clusters based on the Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor. To date, each of these labs had used its own combination of computer systems, which were not always compatible with the others.
"This … Read more
Bernard Golden has an insightful commentary on recent reports that IT spending has topped 6% of global GDP. (Gartner Group has noted that IT spending should hit $3.1 trillion in 2007, with a forecast of $3.3 trillion in 2008.) His take? The numbers are high and, at best, reflect high spending in developed nations while not accounting for the relatively low IT spend in developing nations. (Note that this European Union paper pegged the information economy at ~10% of GDP for most developed nations.)
It's a good point. High or not, however, the real question is why so much money is thrown away on proprietary software when it could be spent on the gift that keeps on giving: open source.… Read more
The dam's breaking open: first Prince released a record as an insert in daily newspaper. The Eagles went direct through Wal-Mart. Radiohead announced plans to release its new album without the assistance of a major label, and rumors about Oasis and a couple of other British bands followed.
On Monday, Trent Reznor posted a gleeful announcement that Nine Inch Nails' record contract had ended, and that he would be experimenting with direct distribution to fans in 2008. This isn't surprising, given that Trent recently told fans at an Australian concert to steal his music. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal … Read more
If you thought your new Verizon Fios service was fast, take a look at what Internet2 is up to.
The research-oriented network has just boosted its network speeds to 100 gigabits per second, the Associated Press and others reported this week. That's a 10-fold increase from the theoretical 10Gpbs network connections offered today to its university, research and commercial members.
Network connections this fast mean that a high-quality version of your favorite movie could be downloaded over the Net in a few seconds instead of the half a minute it takes over the old Internet2. By comparison, the same … Read more