Thursday, February 28, 2002

Smart brick hits Wall

Unable to get an R&D grant from the Australian government (too cutting edge apparently). A QLD company called Ultimate Masonary is producing a brick from the waste of coal fired power plants. It weighs half as much and requires no rendering.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Rosetta Stone of the 21st Century?

You can rip the subtitle information out of VOB files (that are on DVDs). Not only will you be able to search for "Never get involved in a land war in Asia" but how to say it in Spainish and other languages.

I think (and I might be wrong here) that DVD subtitle information would provide the biggest human repository of translation information.

Page of subtitle software:

No doubt this is copy protected (and copyrighted) though. But it would probably be fair use to hold this in a peer-to-peer fashion. You only hold and index the DVDs you own. Then just return the results of the search.

Now if we combine it with the graphical search engines (Eikon or eVision or something) you can put in a picture of an actress/actor and get all the movies they appear in.

This probably isn't a million miles away from my video store project that I did in High School. :-)

Saturday, February 23, 2002

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Dept of Urban Services have
provided their police officers, parking inspectors, and on-road vehicle
inspectors with WAP-enabled mobile phones and PDA's which use the Cable
& Wireless Optus GPRS network to connect to the rego.ACT database system.

Police have always been mobile workers and availability of data instantly
in crucial. rego.ACT recognise that, within 2 years, mobile access will be
indispensable for monile workers. GPRS represents the first step with ACT
police already envisaging further uses for mobile data services.

The system was launched on 1 Aug 2001 to provide real time access to the
database for driver and vehicle details in the ACT as well as NSW and
Victoria. By mid-October 2001, the police are expected to have access to
all Australian vehicles and licenses. The System is used to identify
stolen or written off vehicles on the shpot and replaces the requirement
to radio back to base for information.

The previous systems (TRIPS) was "slow & cubersome, crashed all the time
and only operated about 70% of the time" (ACT statement in Computer World
21 Aug. 2001). GPRS was chosen as a delivery mechanism to address latency
issues involved with CS data over GSM.

Australia has one of the highest car theft rates in the world and by
using the system, police have the potential to curb the stolen vehicle
market in the ACT. The systems enables officers to spend more time on the
beat and less time on administration. ACT police recognise that the
availability of such information "could make a police officer a very
efficient opertor ". (ACT statement in Computerworld 21 Aug 2001)

The key success factors of the systems are seen to include:

* Real time accessw (1-3 seconds response time compared to 30-60
seconds on GSM)
* Very simple user interface the mobile devices have been
accepted well by officers
* Secure access (provided by 128 bit SSL and WTLS)
* Low cost of ownership & adaptability for future technology
* Performance & scalability to deliver fast response times 24/7
with over 99.8% availability

The next stage of the initiative will be to provide officers with Intranet
access of the systems over ACT's government WAN (early 2002). This will
be3 followed by the provision of Internet access for the public to
transact with the government (mid 2002).

The rego.ACT system was developed by Internet Solutions Australia and CSC
and delivered by C&W Optus. It is built on standards written entirely in
Java, using an n-tier enterprise architecture built on open standards
using the J2EE platform. The middle tier uses EJB and the link between
mobile devices and the system is secured using 128- bit WTLS.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

XML Databases

There is an update about the available databases that support XML. Of those, there's quite a few open source ones:
* 4Suite,
* eXist,
* Ozone,
* XDB,
* Xindice.

log4j 1.2 beta 3:

In addition to many performance improvements, bug fixes, and other small enhancements, log4j 1.2 beta3 adds JMX support, Mapped Diagnostic Contexts, and buffered IO capability. One important change is the replacement of the Category class with Logger class and the Priority with the Level in order to facilitate migrating from the JDK 1.4 logging API to log4j.

All changes except the removal of deprecated methods are backward compatible such that log4j 1.2beta3 can be considered a drop in replacement for log4j 1.1.3.

Using the American model to solve all acts of terrorism:

"To prevent terrorism by dropping bombs on Iraq is such an obvious idea that I can't think why no one has thought of it before. It's so simple. If only the UK had done something similar in Northern Ireland, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in today."

"Having bombed Dublin and, perhaps, a few IRA training bogs in Tipperary, we could not have afforded to be complacent. We would have had to turn our attention to those states which had supported and funded the IRA terrorists through all these years. The main provider of funds was, of course, the USA, and this would have posed us with a bit of a problem. Where to bomb in America?",6903,651594,00.html

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Microsoft's Metadata Management

The metadata services is part of MS SQL Server 2000.

Their model management techonology uses an algorithm called CUPID to map two data sources together. It was developed by Phil Bernstein. The paper goes through the various different way to match two different models (or database/xml schemas) using linguistic, element, structure, referential and contextual matching.

CUPID paper:

Another such tool is ARTEMIS here's a paper called: "A Schema Analysis and Reconciliation Tool Environment for Heterogeneous Databases":

The MOMIS Project is the parent project:

Monday, February 18, 2002

Global Crossing announced the fouth largest bankruptcy about two weeks ago. They had the same accounting firm, Anderson. The big accounting firms have gone from eight, to six, to four. Mary Sullivan from the DOJ released a report on the reasons why these mergers occur including: "across-the-board marginal cost reductions, marginal cost reductions for large clients, coordinated effects and unilateral anticompetitive effects".

Article on Global Crossing:
The DOJ report:
Fear Me!

It took Java about 7 years to acquire 40MB of bloat. MS .Net, which is really leveraging on 20 odd years of bloat technology, is 131MB in size. If you want a compiler for C# (and VB, JScript, C++) try it out. Three OSes supported: Window NT 4.0, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Watch out for those messy buffer overrun problems.

Mazda's new car

She's Miss California (uh) hottest thing in West LA (uh uh)
House down by the water
Sails her yacht across the bay
Drives a mp3 (oo oo oo ooo)
Hollywood's her favourite scene
Loves to be surrounded with superstars that know her name

Yup, the Mazda MP3.

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Joel on non-technical users (the ones with the money)

"When you're showing off, the only thing that matters is the screen shot. Make it 100% beautiful."

"...Linux desktop crowd goes crazy about semitransparent xterms, which make for good screenshots but are usually annoying to use. Every time Gnome or KDE announces a new release I go straight to the screenshots and say, "oh, they changed the planet from Jupiter to Saturn. Cool." Never mind what they really did."

Another image search engine (based on the appearance of the image).

The result of this process is 3 arrays (one for each color channel) holding the truncated, quantized wavelet coeffients, plus the average colors for each channel. This is the wavelet signature.

Using an metric devised by Finkelstein, et al., wavelet signatures can be compared. Basically, the algorithm is this: The more signature matches between two images, the closer the score of the two images.

Reptile is a content exchange mechanism, based on P2P and web technologies, that enables users to manage information in a distributed yet uniform environment.

Reptile provides a distributed and secure mechanism for finding, accessing and selectively sharing information. Reptile integrates the concept of pseudonymous reputation which we believe has the potential to enhance the value of the Internet as much as the Web Browser did.

Reptile runs within Tomcat and offers support for Open Content Syndication (OCS), Extensible Style Language Transformations (XSLT), all versions of RDF Site Summary (RSS), Sierra Reputation Management Framework (RMF), Public Key authentication, and Structured Query Language (SQL) result to XML serialization (with JDOM and Xalan extensions). It supports all P2P networks, including Freenet, Gnutella, Jabber and Project Juxtapose (JXTA). The Reptile download package is distributed under both The GNU General Public License (GPL) and Berkely Software/Standard Distribution (BSD) licenses.

Friday, February 15, 2002

JDK 1.4 MR (marketing release)

As far as the release notes report there is no difference between this and the release candidate. In what seems to have been a reaction to VS .Net being launched yesterday. It doesn't seem to have made a blip on the major news services while there heaps about MS security, hardware and .Net. There is three bytes difference in the tools.jar I wonder if it's "-rc" that's missing.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Cool! Finally JDK 1.4 is released. At just under 40 MB (the JRE is 9MB) I sure wish it was included in every OS. It's very sad to download the Linux and Windows versions on my Mac to burn on CD. Where's the OS X version?

I wonder if it had to pass a list of known problems before it could be release like all new MS products. Yeah that's progress.
Bring back MODs (or MIDIs)

Ahh AxelF, the joy of playing MODs on your Amiga or PC (helped make Amiga demos to be very cool). The Open Music Registry has a licence which is similar to GPL but for music. They distribute their files not in MIDI or MOD format but in MP3 and Ogg Vorbis - listen only executables. May-be a new format for listening and modifying is required.


Wednesday, February 13, 2002

From the Jena mailing list:

We would like to announce that there is now a Jena project on SourceForge:

It is released under BSD licence.
TRIPLE is a query and inference layer for RDF. It supports some rather nifty model operatings with intersection and unions. It is a rather different approach to things like Jena's RDQL and others based more around SQL.

It seems a lot like Florid/F-Logic:

It is based on XSB which has:
* Evaluation according to the Well-Founded Semantics through full SLG resolution;
* A compiled HiLog implementation;
* A variety of indexing techniques for asserted code:
* A number of interfaces to other software systems, such a C, Java, Perl and Oracle.
* Extensive pattern matching libraries, which are especially useful for Web applications.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

The insanity of Apple. Not only have they denied access to the JDK 1.4 beta but a recent MacOS rumours report says:
"The 1.4 update is currently scheduled for release around November (and may slip to 2003)." I read it was going to be May on the Apple newsgroups. It would be neat if they could release it before other platforms seeing as though it's integrated into their OS better than any other.

This article talks of the experiences of converting LINPACK (FORTRAN modules to work with matrices) to Java. By taking a strictly OO approach the results were poor. However, by simply optimizing key elements and not eliminating the OO design they were able get results close to the more FORTRAN like style.

Monday, February 11, 2002

"...With the criteria suddenly expanded and all the desirable clubs filling up, Sierra Leone, El Salvador, and Rwanda applied to be called the Axis of Countries That Aren't the Worst But Certainly Won't Be Asked to Host the Olympics; Canada, Mexico, and Australia formed the Axis of Nations That Are Actually Quite Nice But Secretly Have Nasty Thoughts About America, while Spain, Scotland, and New Zealand established the Axis of Countries That Sometimes Ask Sheep to Wear Lipstick."

Sunday, February 10, 2002

Nobody thunk it, nobody Perl really Perl without dynamic types.

Well according to the Perl .Net documentation it is:

Now standard with the Perl Dev kit and every installation from ActiveState:

Parrot looks like the more approriate technology for Perl:

The reason is always the same:

Of course, they didn't put checked exceptions in .Net (or anything else) which some people think was a mistake in Java. I think it's one of the best ways to catch some of the most obvious mistakes in programming. But some people disagree.

Bruce Eckels says:

MS says roughly the same thing:

Saturday, February 09, 2002

How to compete when you've got a new techonology? Apparently, one of those features is not quality. Transistors, computers, etc were initially poor but eventually became better than their competing technology. Interestingly voice recognition was mentioned where 80% on a Palm Pilot might be good enough even when it's not on a PC. Which was missed in a recent ZD column.
iMacs are slow in coming to Australia as well it seems. After waiting a month for the 14" iBook it seems that the iMacs haven't landed either. According to the story, Apple is saying next week which is consistent to what a reseller told me. OS 10.1.3 should be release *real soon* too.

Friday, February 08, 2002

Alcubierre's "Warp Drive"

..Violations of this law lead to causal paradoxes, in which actors in the present can alter their own past. Yet Alcubierre shows that his warp drive does not, in fact, lead to such violations. The reason is that light also travels in spacetime, and is carried along just as the spaceship is. The light beam is still traveling at the speed of light, relative to the spaceship, which itself is not accelerating relative to the spacetime in its immediate vicinity. Although Alcubierre's warp drive does not engender any causal paradoxes, one might still be concerned for a space traveler's welfare. To get to a distant star and back in only moments, the traveler would have to be accelerated at a very large rate, effectively turning him into soup. Or at least this would be true, if not for the fact that accelerations are relative in general relativity.

Original Paper:

Recent updates with reduced use of negative energy:

A graph of the curvature of space (or "warp bubble"):

NASA has a bit of info on it:

Search result of "warp drive" from 1994-2002:,2001,2000,1999,1998,1997,1996,1995,1994/2/0

The previous US government went to town on MS. But when MS comes knocking in Australia what do we say. We say "No". The reason: monopoly, poor security? Lack of money. Why is there no money?

"We cannot attain these goals without money. Which is being used to ferry immigrants around the South Pacific," he said.
Well it seems that several news source picked up the "story" of the release of JDK 1.4. It's still RC1.

Here's a few examples:

Here's the original press release:,1072,42449,00.html

If there's one thing that Sun could learn from Microsoft it's how to do a press release.

Of course now that they are supporting Linux on Intel it's all better: