Nov 30 2008

IBM Invests in Supercomputing in Ireland

Category: Fourth LevelTeknovis @ 22:44

Another recent piece of news regarding research… IBM is to partner with several Irish Universities to create a new R&D centre in Dublin that will focus on supercomputing.

More details about this can be read in IBM invests in new supercomputing and green IT R&D operation.

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Nov 30 2008

Queen’s University Secures £25 Million for Security Research

Category: Fourth Level,SecurityTeknovis @ 22:38

Congratulations are due to Queen’s University in Belfast for securing £25 million for conducting security research. That should enable a lot of research!

The money will be used to establish and fund the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT). The research will cover all of the usual areas of security, although it appears to focus more on applied research.

More details about this can be read in Queen’s Uni nets £25m funds for cybersecurity research.


Nov 29 2008

Flying the Airbus

Category: AviationTeknovis @ 14:38

The IET are hosting a talk next week in Dublin on the technical aspects of the Airbus widebody aircraft. The details are described in Flying the A380.

If you want to see what the inside of “the office” in an A380 looks like, then take a look at A380 Cockpit Panorama.

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Nov 28 2008

The Technology behind Barack Obama

Category: Internet,SecurityTeknovis @ 14:49

The Register describes some security vulnerabilities in two of Barack Obama’s websites in Congratulations, Barack – Now fix your websites. The most significant security issue that the article highlights is the fact that the administration pages load the Google Analytics JavaScrip file urchin.js. from the Google website. In theory, this means that Google can use this JavaScript file to do almost anything that they want with Barack’s websites. Not a good situation :(

Apparently, many readers did not share the author’s view on this security issue. So the author wrote a follow-up article that provides more details, and opinions of experts from OWASP, in Google Analytics – Yes, it is a security risk.

Independently, it seems that Barack is currently in negotiations in order to continue using his PDA! Apparently, communications devices are banned in the White House, and there are accountability and traceability issues associated with their use! That is an inconvenience! More details about this in Obama tries to stay connected.

Finally, I have heard that a considerable number of websites have appeared that are designed to help the Obama family choose what type of puppy they will get :) Gosh, it must be nice to have enough time to be able to create websites like this!

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Nov 27 2008

Sarah Palin’s Webmail Hacked

Category: SecurityTeknovis @ 21:11

Sarah Palin’s webmail account was hacked during the US election campaign, according to Palin webmail ‘hack’ trial delayed. The interesting thing about this is that the attacker correctly answered the “secret question” that is used when the user forgets his/her password. The attacker, who is a University of Tennessee student, successfully found the correct answer to Sarah Palin’s secret question using Google :)

I think that the conditions of the attackers bail are slight humorous:

The University of Tennessee student remains free on bail with restriction that prohibit his use of a computer except for the purposes of internet email and college coursework.

Should his use of Internet email not be restricted to his own email accounts?

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Nov 26 2008

Online Shopping just got Cheaper

Category: eShoppingTeknovis @ 20:49

The EU is now officially in recession, and both the EU and the member states’ governments are trying to develop strategies to ensure that the economic downturn is as short as possible.

One of the main driving forces behind any economy is consumer spending, and it is interesting to see how different governments are trying to encourage consumer spending. For example, the British government has decided to reduce VAT from 17.5% to 15% in the beginning of December. Meanwhile, the Irish government has decided to increase VAT from 21% to 21.5% in the beginning of December also! More details can be found in Darling cuts VAT in pre-Budget measures.

Since VAT is calculated at the point of sale for transactions within the EU, these changes will mean that the difference in cost between buying in Ireland and the UK will become 6.5% based on the VAT alone. This is bad news for Irish businesses (and ultimately the government), but it is great for both British businesses and consumers!

I already do a significant amount of my shopping online in other EU member states, and I will try and do even more this Christmas. I am particularly fond of shopping on Spanish websites where the VAT is 16%, and I also purchase online quite regularly on a Luxembourgian website where the VAT is 15%. Now the websites in the UK will be getting more of my business!

If you are curious about the rates of VAT in the different EU member states then take a look at European Union Value Added Tax.

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Nov 25 2008

Microsoft Embedded Development and Robotics Event

Category: Software DevelopmentTeknovis @ 14:21

Microsoft are hosting an event focusing on embedded development and robotics in Dublin next Friday. The general theme of the event is described as:

You’ll see the Microsoft Windows Embedded family of products at work in the real world and discover how they are being used to power systems in factories, cars, your personal navigation or music player device or even your set-top box at home.  You’ll get under the hood of the Microsoft® .NET Micro Framework and also discover just how easy it is to build robotics applications for a wide variety of hardware using Microsoft® Robotics Developer Studio, the Windows-based environment.

There will be presentations and demonstrations by Microsoft researchers from the UK, France, and the US.

The event is free, but you must register beforehand. I have also heard that there will be Microsoft prizes for some lucky attendees!

Full details of this event can be found in Windows Embedded and Robotics European Tour.

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Nov 24 2008

EU to Cap the Cost of Sending Texts while Roaming

Category: TelecomsTeknovis @ 22:43

I was delighted to read that the EU states set to agree to cap cost of texting from abroad. Under this proposed legislation the maximum cost of sending a text message while roaming within the EU will be capped at 11c! That is significantly lower than my current rate!

The proposed legislation also includes a cap of 1€ per MB of data while roaming within the EU. I think that this would benefit a lot of business travellers. However, it would not be of any use to me, because I am always able to use WiFi when I am abroad.

In general I feel that the telcos have not yet embraced the concept of the single European market, and they are still charging their customers extremely heavily for intra-EU services. It is unfortunate that it requires legislation to force the telcos to reduce their charges, but if that is what is required then it must be done!

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Nov 24 2008

Too Much Interest in new EU Digital Library

Category: InternetTeknovis @ 22:27

The EU launched a new digital library called Europeana last Thursday. The purpose of this digital library is to contain documents that are of cultural significance to the citizens of the EU. Initially, the digital library contains over 2 million items, but this is expected to grow rapidly.

The website was designed to handle initial traffic of 5 million visitors per hour. However, after its launch the website was receiving over 10 million visitors per hour! This naturally had serious consequences on the performance of the website, and several hours later the number of visitors had not subsided. Therefore, the website has gone offline until it can cope with this larger number of visitors.

I am sure that the website creators are delighted with the level of interest in their website, but I wonder how they got their estimates so wrong. Perhaps there is no way to reliably estimate how many visitors a new website will receive. I also wonder what steps they could have taken to dynamically cope with such large numbers of visitors.

More details about this story can be read in New EU online library crashes under weight of interest.

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Nov 23 2008

Live Suicide Online

Category: InternetTeknovis @ 10:22

The Register has two articles describing how a 19 year old college student in Florida discussed his proposed suicide online, and how he then broadcast his suicide live online to an audience of over 1500 people! The articles are Teen discussed suicide plan online 12 hours before webcam death and US teen tops himself live online.

Naturally this story is very sad, but I think that somebody was bound to commit suicide online some time based on the popularity of the Internet.

I think that if somebody is suicidal then he/she is likely to commit suicide, and it is wrong to blame the Internet for this. Nevertheless, I now expect the usual backlash of people wanting to ban the Internet, YouTube, or whatever website or technology is currently deemed to be the cause of all evil in the world!

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