Previous month:
January 2004
Next month:
March 2004

What price risk in Society

BBC News

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor was speaking at the University of Wales in Swansea on Wednesday. He spoke about the breakdown in family life, increased divorce rates, and "peripheral" sexual relationships [all of which] were "in danger of inflicting very real and long-lasting damage on our society".

He went on to speak out against a growing sense that there was a right to a "risk-free" existence. He said aversion to risk sometimes led to doctors, teachers and social workers living in "in constant fear" of accusations of malpractice and litigation. "Everything which goes wrong has to be someone else's fault, heads must roll, compensation must be paid," he said. "But there is an even greater danger that we end up running away from reality and that we lose our freedom and our courage in the process."

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

Nokia attempt to slow down the future?

BBC Technology

Strange suggestion from Nokia that this year's developments may take ten years to arrive!

Within a decade mobiles will be so powerful that we may no longer need to be tied to desktop computers, Nokia chief Jorma Ollila has predicted.

With help of wireless technology, sending messages, files and images on the move will be easier and faster too.

But the influential mobile boss admitted he still preferred text messaging over e-mail.

Mr Ollila revealed his visions of the future in an interview with BBC World's technology programme ClickOnline.

"In 10 years, which is a very long time ahead to see, we really will have very powerful devices, which will enable us to send and receive pictures, files, or documents.

"So what we do at our desks we can basically do through mobile devices which are easy to handle," Mr Ollila said

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

We are all journalists now


In 2004 a billion cell phones will be sold. Nearly half of these phones will be camera phones and almost 30 million will be smartphones.

By 2005 there will be over 100,000 WiFi Hotspots.

This confluence of wireless technology means that we are about to witness a fundamental change in the way we create and get information.

As more people are able to capture photos and send text, images and sounds through the air it is inevitable that all major cultural events will be captured by hundreds if not thousands of accidental bystanders.

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

BBC On Demand

New Media Age, Jonathan Webdale, 18 Feb 2004

The BBC has confirmed that it's investigating the use of peer-to-peer file sharing for the distribution of its programmes. It follows director general Greg Dyke's announcement at the recent Edinburgh TV festival that the Corporation is planning to make its archive accessible via the Internet.

BBC new media director Ashley Highfield revealed the first details of the plans at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam over the weekend. He said the BBC was developing a 'super EPG' that would work on any platform and let users record programmes as with a PVR.

The Internet Media Player (IMP) will allow programmes to be downloaded or streamed to PC desktops and handheld devices. P2P would provide the BBC with a cost-effective mechanism for responding to the massive demand for bandwidth that would likely be prompted by the launch of IMP.

'A fully flexible, platform-neutral, super EPG is in development that will allow TV content to be recorded TiVo-style,' said Highfield. 'It'll enable shows being broadcast now to be downloaded or streamed, and most significantly [let] TV shows that went out recently to be recalled from our archive and downloaded.

'To save on the huge bandwidth load this will place on us, we're exploring legitimate P2P models to get users to share our content on our behalf transparently.'

Interesting to speculate when "huge bandwidth" might be overtaken by Moore's Law of bandwidth growth... This comes from Growth Networks Inc, now part of Cisco Systems.

Thanks to dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM), a revolution is now occurring that is enabling nearly infinite optical fiber bandwidth.

The number of wavelengths carried per fiber is doubling every year while the [switching] speed for each of these wavelengths is increasing from OC-12 to OC-48 and beyond––enabling an abundance of bandwidth at the optical fiber transport level.

Because of DWDM, optical fiber bandwidth has grown one-million fold in the 1990’s

Meanwhile semiconductor performance has followed Moore’s Law leading to electronic bandwidth growth of only one-hundred-fold in the same period.

[This mismatch is] causing a significant optical-electronic bandwidth gap.

Original link via

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

A copy of a copy of a copy


I guess most of us thought that if you copied a file onto a CD and then copied that CD onto another CD and then copied that CD onto another CD and so on, 100 times, using different hardware, software and media...

Well, as this site showed, the 100th generation CD was exactly the same as the Master CD.

Not a single bit different.

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

Free Trade

First this:

China's leading developer of Office software introduces Evermore Integrated Office 2004, the first REAL Office.

EIOffice 2004 is a seamlessly integrated Office environment. Unlike separate applications thrown together into a suite, designed by a marketing plan, then forced to work together, EIOffice 2004 delivers one user interface, programmed under one roof, by one team, with one design, one file format, providing true data integration, focused on enhanced user productivity. All your Office applications have now been integrated into a single program.

Then this:

Software giant India is poised to become a large-scale computer hardware manufacturer on the back of explosive sales growth, India's information technology minister said.

"We will see the large-scale manufacture of hardware in India in the next two to three years," Arun Shourie told a telecommunications conference.

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

Evidence based approaches to teaching

eSchool News online, Corey Murray, February 16, 2004

The scientifically based research (SBR) requirement of the US No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is slowly changing the way schools approach new learning solutions. It's also changing the way companies market their products to educators. But while everyone agrees the provision's intentions are good, the law has created a host of new problems its authors never anticipated.

At its best, the provision's staunchest supporters contend, SBR will lead to a paradigm shift in education, where a research-based approach to learning eventually will elicit a level of accountability equaled only in the medical field. At its worst, critics say, the law offers too little guidance and asks students to play the role of guinea pigs in a disruptive chain of control-based research experiments that would serve only to reinforce the line between the haves and the have-nots in the nation's schools.

In short, the law specifies that all federally funded education initiatives deployed in grades three to eight must be proven effective by way of "scientifically based research." So if a school district uses federal grant money to purchase reading software, for example, the software in question must be proven to work through rigorous analysis. The same holds true for math and science software, and so on.

But what, exactly, constitutes rigorous analysis?

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

Real-Time Internet Video Communications


  • Top Rated Video, using a high-speed Internet connection.

  • Clear Audio. Voice calls are always free and unlimited.

  • Natural conversations, just like a phone call. Two-way, person to person.

  • Quick install. Simple contact list shows the presence of your friends. One click calling. Automated Firewall and NAT traversal.

  • Send a Video Link. Show SightSpeed video through a web browser.

  • Support for Windows and Macintosh

  • Low cost. Only $4.95 a month or $49.50 per year.

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

Nodes and Antinodes drive European Weather

New Scientist

Europe's weather could flip from droughts to floods every year as climate change kicks in, according to scientists who have modelled the mechanisms behind the continent's most recent bouts of extreme weather.

In the summer of 2003, an intense heatwave across Europe was responsible for the deaths of up to 35,000 people and dried up many rivers. Yet in 2002, central Europe was awash with water after a massive river burst its banks.

Both events have been attributed to a peculiar phenomenon in which a "planetary wave" pins a particular weather system in one place. The drought in 2003 was triggered by trapped high pressure, while the flood of 2002 happened after a region of low pressure became pinned.

Planetary waves are gentle pressure oscillations in the atmosphere, set up by the rotation of the Earth. They usually roll gently around the planet, carrying weather systems with them.

But when the wavelength of the planetary wave fits an exact number of times around the circumference of the Earth, the peaks and troughs of the pressure oscillation overlap on each revolution, so they are fixed in place and grow in strength.

This "resonance" will become more frequent if the wavelength of the planetary waves shortens, as is expected to happen as the planet warms, warns Vladimir Petoukhov, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston