Global warming fraud uncovered

Breaking news last week featured in the Wall Street Journal and Fox News has featured the story and data released by an unknown hacker or whistleblower that appears to be obtained from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, England.

There has been confirmation from Steve McIntyre, a climate scientist who is featured and attacked in the leaked information that seems to verify its authenticity. McIntyre was not one of the elite group from the CRU, but one of many scientists who has been seeking data and facts through a freedom of information request.

U.S. Stocks, Commodities Decline as Bonds Gain on Dubai

Stocks skidded Friday as concern swept world markets that financial trouble in the Middle Eastern city-state of Dubai will upend a global economic recovery.

Major stock indexes fell more than 1 percent from 13-month highs, including the Dow Jones industrial average, which lost 155 points in a shortened trading day but ended off its worst levels. Five stocks still fell for every one that rose at the New York Stock Exchange and all 30 stocks that make up the Dow slid.

Investors' broad retreat from riskier assets pushed Treasury prices higher. The dollar gained against most other major currencies as investors sought safety following steep drops in overseas markets. Commodities prices tumbled.

Dubai debt fears hit share prices

The decision by Dubai's government-owned investment company to ask for a sixth-month delay on repaying its debts hits Asian and European stock market prices.

Dubai World, which has nearly $60bn in debt has asked creditors if it can postpone its payments until at least next May. Dubai is famed for its sprawling man-made islands, indoor ski slopes and world's tallest tower, but it has been hit hard by the global credit crunch and recession.

Property prices in Dubai have slumped by around 50 per cent within the last year. Lay-offs, prompted in part by project cancellations and delays, have forced many expatriates out of the city.

Dubai is one of seven self-governing emirates or states that make up the United Arab Emirates and one of the key forces behind the growth of the city-state. It has had to rely on trade, finance and tourism to compensate for its lack of oil wealth.

The conglomerate, whose businesses range from hauling cargo off ships to building islands and running US luxury hotels, announced in October that it has had reduce its work force by 15 per cent.

Shuttle Atlantis leaves space station

International Space Station drifting away from the Space Shuttle Atlantis shortly after undocking early Wednesday Nov. 25, 2009. The shuttle is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center, Friday morning. Shuttle Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station early Wednesday, headed home with one astronaut eager to hold his newborn daughter for the first time and another who's been away from her young son since the summer.

The shuttle departed as the spacecraft soared nearly 220 miles above the Pacific, just northeast of New Guinea. Over the past week, the astronauts stockpiled the outpost and performed maintenance that should keep it running for another five to 10 years.

International Space Station drifting away from the Space Shuttle Atlantis shortly after undocking early Wednesday Nov. 25, 2009. The shuttle is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center, Friday morning

Windows 7 is Microsoft’s best-selling OS

Windows 7 has achieved record sales levels – more than double those of previous operating system (OS) releases – a triumphant Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a shareholders’ meeting last week.

Speaking at the Microsoft Annual Shareholder Meeting, Ballmer announced record sales figures for Windows 7, and detailed the company’s plans to continue to deliver shareholder value in the long-term.

“Windows 7 is the simply best PC operating system we have ever built,” Ballmer said. “It enables people to do more of what they want to do more easily and more quickly, and customers are responding.

“Since launch, we’ve already sold twice as many units of Windows 7 than any other operating system we’ve ever launched in a comparable time,”

Antarctica Loses Ice From East as Well as West

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Antarctica is losing ice from its larger eastern side as well as the western part, an indication the southernmost continent may add “significantly more” to rising seas, researchers in Texas said.

The eastern sheet lost ice at a rate of about 57 billion metric tons a year from 2002 to 2009, contributing to the continent’s total annual average loss of about 190 billion tons, scientists at the University of Texas at Austin said in the journal Nature Geoscience.

United Nations scientists in 2007 said most of Antarctica’s contribution to rising sea levels amid global warming comes from the western sheet, with the eastern part either holding steady or gaining mass. The latest findings for East Antarctica are “surprising” because they differ from other estimates, said glaciologist Jonathan Bamber, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Global warming appears to be having a damaging effect on the Antarctic ice as study results indicate that it is melting faster than thought.

Since 2006, the East Antarctic icesheet, which was believed to be untouchable by global warming has lost billions of tons of ice. Researchers say that since 2006, East Antarctica has been losing up to 57 billion tons of ice each year.

The West Antarctic icesheet is also losing volume, even at a faster rate than the eastern icesheet.

Up until a few years ago, these icesheets were not losing water at all, and have just started to do so since 2006. This is as one may guess, is not good, and could result in increased sea levels over time.

The 2 bodies of ice contain enough water to push up the global sea level by about 7 meters if they were to actually melt away.

Windows 7 Sales "Fantastic"

Windows 7 isn't just getting good reviews, it's also selling well, CEO Steve Ballmer told shareholders Thursday.

Delivering opening remarks at Microsoft's shareholder meeting, Ballmer said that Windows 7 was off to a "fantastic start." "We've already sold twice as many units as any OS in a comparable time frame," Ballmer said. "Windows 7 is simply the best PC operating system that we or anyone else has ever built."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer delivers a point at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference in July. By last week, Windows 7 accounted for 4 percent of Web-accessing devices, according to Net Applications; it took Vista more than seven months to reach that level.

Addressing the overall economy, Ballmer reiterated that things seem to have stabilized. "The economy has, at least for now, leveled off," he said.

The meeting is still going on and has just entered the question-and-answer session and I'll update this post if anything interesting comes up. So far, though, it's been mostly about local and legislative matters, rather than technological issues.

California Adopts New TV Energy Efficiency Standards

California's Energy Commission has unanimously approved the nation's first energy efficiency standards for televisions, a move that the commission estimates will save $8.1 billion in energy costs after 10 years. The commission has enacted that all televisions smaller than 58 inches sold in California in 2011 must consume 33 percent less electricity and 49 percent less electricity by 2013.

"The real winners of these new TV energy efficiencies are California consumers, who will be saving billions of dollars and conserving energy while preserving their choice to buy any size or type of TV. Californians buy 4 million televisions each year and they deserve the most energy-efficient models available," said Energy Commission Chairman Karen Douglas in a statement.

Pacific Gas & Electric estimates that the new standards would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 3 million metric tons over the first decade.

The good news for TV manufacturers is that many products, more than 1,000 models today, already meet the 2011 standards, according to the commission. The new regulations will not affect existing TVs or any models bought in 2010, the commission said.

IBM simulates cat, maps human brain to improve chip tech

Scientists at IBM said they'd made progress towards creating a computer system that will simulate and emulate the human brain for sensation, perception, action, interaction and cognition.

They also claimed that the system rivals the brain's low power and energy consumption.

Scientists at IBM Almaden, in tandem with scients at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, said they'd performed the first near real time cortical simulation of the brain exceeding the scale of a cat cortex and with one billon spiking neuros and 10 trillion individual learning synapses.

And if that wasn't enough, IBM has created an algorithm that uses the Blue Gene supercomputing architecture to measure and map connections between the cortical and sub-cortical places in the brain using magnetic resonance diffusion weighted imaging.

Not only will this help to explain the computational dynamics of the human brain, it will also advance a bid to create a small, low power synaptronic chip using nanotech, phase change memory and magnetic tunnel junctions.

Not only will this help to explain the computational dynamics of the human brain, it will also advance a bid to create a small, low power synaptronic chip using nanotech, phase change memory and magnetic tunnel junctions.

The simulation of the cat cortex used a simulator on the Lawrence Livermore Dawn Blue Gene/P supercomputer - it has 147,456 CPUs and 144 terabytes of memory.

IBM is involved in the DARPA SyNAPSE (Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics) initiative - that intends to build a prototype chip and eventually build low power cognitive computers approaching mammalian scale intelligence.

Microsoft to Share Some IE9 Details at PDC

That's the company's message Tuesday from its Professional Developers Conference here, where Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie gave the opening keynote address.

Ozzie announced plans for the formal launch of Windows Azure, the cloud-based operating system that lets developers write programs that run on servers in Microsoft's data centers. It will be in production for all users starting January 1, though a few customers will enter production now, Ozzie said.

In other news, Microsoft announced a technology preview of a new data service, code-named Dallas, that lets Azure customers access various commercial and public data sets. Early partners include NASA, the Associated Press, and InfoUSA.

Atlantis shuttle set to blast off

The US space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to blast off from Florida on a mission to deliver spare parts to the International Space Station (ISS). Lift-off is planned for 1928 GMT (1428 EST) on Monday from the Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral.

There are just five more shuttle launches scheduled before the planned retirement of the fleet in 2010. The mission is set to include three spacewalks to store hardware on the outside of the orbiting outpost.

"Atlantis is ready to go, in really great shape," said shuttle launch manager Mike Moses at a news conference. The weather is also looking good for Monday's launch; meteorologist Kathy Winters said there was just a 10% chance of weather prohibiting the launch.

This mission is dedicated to building up the store of replacement parts on the space station, which is nearing the completion of its construction phase.

These spares include pump modules, gas tanks, two control moment gyroscopes and component for the space station's robotic arm. But the astronauts will also help prepare the way for the next shuttle mission, during which the last US space station module will be delivered: the Tranquility node with its attached cupola.

The cupola is a window module to provide crew members with a direct view of operations outside the space station and an observation point for watching the Earth.

Captained by Charlie Hobaugh, a colonel in the US marines, the all-male crew of Atlantis arrived on Thursday at Kennedy Space Center from Houston, Texas, where they have been training for the mission. The six astronauts will spend the US Thanksgiving holiday in orbit. They will return to Earth with a seventh crew member, Nicole Stott, who's been living at the space station for nearly three months

The 11-day space outing will be the fifth and last shuttle mission for 2009.

Obama Calls For Cooperation With China

U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged cooperation with China and a greater U.S. engagement in Asia during a major speech in Tokyo Saturday.

President Obama said the United States does not seek to contain China, and welcomes its efforts to play a greater role on the world stage. However, he said the United States will never waver in speaking up for values it cherishes and said a discussion about human rights can take place in a spirit of partnership.

Highlighting his own childhood in Indonesia, President Obama emphasized America's ties to Asia as he made his first trip to the region since becoming president. He said Washington's commitment to Asia's security was "unshakable."

During his wide-ranging address, the president also spoke about nuclear proliferation, climate change, and the global economic downturn.

2009 Leonid meteor shower to light up North America

According to NASA, the 2009 Leonid meteor shower will peak in the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 17 across North America.

"We're predicting 20 to 30 meteors per hour over," said Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office in an earlier interview. "Our forecast is in good accord with independent theoretical work by other astronomers."

The first stream peaks around 3 a.m. CST across North American skies, although the hours both leading up to and following should produce excellent viewing results as well.

The next stream crosses shortly before dawn in Indonesia and China. is forecasting partly cloudy skies for the New Orleans area Monday into Tuesday of next week. Escaping the light polution of the downtown area should provide the best viewing opportunity.

The Leonids are famous for storming, most recently in 1999-2002 when deep crossings of Tempel-Tuttle's debris streams produced outbursts of more than 1000 meteors per hour. The Leonids of 2009 won't be like that, but it only takes one bright Leonid streaking past Mars to make the night worthwhile.

Bing vs. Google: Feature Wars

Bing unveiled new and improved tools like Wolfram Alpha integration, Facebook Previews and full-page weather reports. Then Google hit back on Thursday with enhanced movie listings and even safer SafeSearch. Before that Bing unveiled an overhauled maps interface, the next day Google announced Street View was now available in all fifty states. Last month during the Web 2.0 Summit, the two search engines sent out competing press releases bragging about Twitter integration, and on and on it goes.

Google may be the dominant search engine, but Bing is doing its best to push its way up the popularity charts.

With so much attention focused on adding new stuff, you've got to wonder what the future has in store for search and whether this feature war is getting out of hand.

The Battle for Search

It's nothing new to try and suck the life out of a competitor's product by making a competing major announcement around the same time. Palm and Sprint tried to do that to Apple with the launch of the Palm Pre. Not to mention that Google Wave launched on May 28, the same day that Bing made its debut. But lately, the battle between Google and Bing is getting to be like a tennis match that never ends, just a constant rally back and forth as each side tries to outmaneuver the other.

Look at Wednesday: Bing announces some interesting new features that integrate the computational power of Wolfram Alpha into its search results. As an added bonus, Bing gets limited Facebook integration and tweaks its weather results.

How does Google respond? An announcement about tweaked movie searches, and password protection for your SafeSearch settings--Google's filter for explicit content. Improved SafeSearch is worth talking about and likely a welcome improvement, but the Google Movies announcement looks like a desperate plea to prove that Google can be just as consumer oriented as Bing.

The Future

Although competing announcements can get a little tiring, there's a lot to love about the heavy competition in the search market. Google and Microsoft realize that search is where the online money is, which is why they spend so much time on new features and products that will keep you coming back for more. Increased competition could lead to helpful technologies emerging like improved semantic search, hyper local features, voice activated search on your PC and who know what else?

It's an exciting future for search--I can't believe I just said that--and Google and Bing are working hard to deliver the latest and greatest features to their loyal users. I just hope they don't lose focus on basic things like filtering search spam and phishing detection in the rush to deliver new features before the other guy does.

Microsoft disconnects Xbox gamers

Thousands of gamers may have been cut off from Microsoft's online gaming service Xbox Live for modifying their consoles to play pirated games. Online reports suggest that as many as 600,000 gamers may have been affected.

Microsoft confirmed that it had banned a "small percentage" of the 20 million Xbox Live users worldwide. Microsoft said that modifying an Xbox 360 console "violates" the service's "terms of use" and would result in a player being disconnected.

"All consumers should know that piracy is illegal and that modifying their Xbox 360 console to play pirated discs violates the Xbox Live terms of use, will void their warranty and result in a ban from Xbox Live," Microsoft has said in a statement.

"The health of the video game business depends on customers paying for the genuine products and services they receive from manufacturers, retailers, and the third parties that support them."
Many gamers modify their consoles by installing new chips or software that allows them to run unofficial programs. Some chips are specifically designed to play pirated games. Microsoft has not said how it was able to determine which gamers to disconnect.

"We do not reveal specifics, but can say that all consoles have been verified to have violated the terms of use," the firm said in a statement. Affected gamers were met with a message during the login process. It read: ""Your console has been banned from Xbox".

Reports suggest that the ban does not stop the console from working and only affects a gamer's Xbox Live account. Industry figures suggest that piracy may cost the video game industry as much as £750m a year.

In other news, a UK court has dismissed a man's appeal against an earlier conviction for selling modification chips - "modchips" that allow gamers to play illegal games. Christopher Gillham's earlier conviction was upheld by Hereford Crown Court which found that playing counterfeit games on a modified console infringed copyrights.

Intel Launches Text-to-Speech Mobile E-Reader For Disabled

Intel Corporation today announced the Intel® Reader, a mobile handheld device designed to increase independence for people who have trouble reading standard print. The Intel Reader can assist the estimated 55 million people in the U.S. who have dyslexia or other specific learning disabilities, or have vision problems such as low-vision or blindness, which makes reading printed words difficult or impossible.

The Intel Reader, about the size of a paperback book, converts printed text to digital text, and then reads it aloud to the user. Its unique design combines a high-resolution camera with the power of an Intel® Atom™ processor, allowing users to point, shoot and listen to printed text. The Intel Reader will be available in the United States through select resellers, including CTL, Don Johnston Incorporated, GTSI, Howard Technology Solutions and HumanWare.

When the Intel Reader is used together with the Intel® Portable Capture Station, large amounts of text, such as a chapter or an entire book, can be easily captured for reading later. Users will have convenient and flexible access to a variety of printed materials, helping to not only increase their freedom, but improve their productivity and efficiency at school, work and home. The Intel Reader has been endorsed by the International Dyslexia Association as an important advance in assistive technology. Additionally, Intel is working with the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, the Council for Exceptional Children, Lighthouse International, the National Center for Learning Disabilities and the National Federation of the Blind to help reach and address the needs of people who have difficulty reading print.

Microsoft releases Exchange 2010, acquires Teamprise

Microsoft made two enterprise moves on Monday, one expected and the other a bit of a surprise.

As promised, the company used its TechEd event in Berlin to release Exchange 2010, the latest version of its e-mail and calendar server software. Microsoft finalized the code for the product last month and had said it would launch at TechEd.

Microsoft VP Tami Reller talks about enterprise adoption of Windows 7 as part of a Webcast held after the first day of TechEd Europe.

Meanwhile, the company also announced it is buying the Teamprise technology from SourceGear. Teamprise allows developers using Eclipse and those working on non-Windows operating systems to build applications using Microsoft's Visual Studio product.

"We know our customers face daily challenges with management, collaboration and development in heterogeneous environments. The industry must take steps to make interoperability a stronger business asset for our customers," senior vice president and developer unit head S. Somasegar said in a statement. "With the acquisition of the Teamprise assets, we're taking a step forward on this journey, providing customers with a viable cross-platform development solution that will help produce business results more quickly."

Microsoft didn't announce financial terms of the deal, but did say the Teamprise technology will be integrated into Visual Studio 2010.

At TechEd Europe, Microsoft also talked about enterprise adoption of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, highlighting some early customers of the two products.

"We remain just pleased and humbled by the very warm reception we're seeing," Microsoft vice president Tami Reller said in a Webcast on Monday.

As part of the same Webcast, senior vice president Chris Capossela sounded off on Cisco's announcement of updated collaboration tools that could take on Exchange.

"Rather than stitching together acquired products and calling that a solution, we've built Exchange form the ground up," he said.