Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Microsoft Patch Tuesday for 12 April 2011 is a Whopper!

Patch Tuesday is here, and this month is a whopper. Microsoft has unleashed 17 new security bulletins, addressing a total of 64 separate vulnerabilities. Nine bulletins are rated as critical and the remaining eight are rated as important. The vulnerabilities affect Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Visual Studio, .NET Framework and GDI+.

The full version of the Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for April 2011 can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms11-apr.mspx.

If you have Automatic Update enabled and configured to download and install the latest Microsoft updates in the middle of the night while you're sleeping, it doesn't really matter if there are two security bulletins, or sixty-four. Either way you wake up to a freshly patched--and probably rebooted--system.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spaceship Lands at San Francisco Airport

It looks like the future of space travel and exploration belongs to the commercial sector:


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Navy Wants Doc-Bots, Robo-Ambulances

Not all of the military's robot research goes into creating unfeeling killing machines. Some of them are here to heal, like the Navy's plan to create a medical robot to treat troops carried by drones.

The Navy envisions its medic-bot actually diagnosing and managing a number of "medically complex, life-threatening clinical events" for more than six hours — to be done either autonomously or with the remote assistance of a human caregiver. To do some of that critical management, ACCS would come equipped with its own drug kit, including "epinephrine, phenylephrine, dopamine, vasopressin, paralytics" among others.

The medic-bot will be a tiny little bot. The Navy wants it to be 30 pounds, max, and should be able to fit into helicopters easily.

But the Navy doesn't just want a robo-doc. It's also looking for an unmanned ambulance — one that flies, preferably. The Office of Naval Research says it expects that "unmanned ground or air vehicles" will be available to carry wounded troops or disaster victims in the future and that their medic-bot will "validate effective patient monitoring and control" on them while in transit.

Read more at navy-wants-doc-bots-robo-ambulances

NOTE: If these military technologies succeed you can bet they will quickly be applied to civilian use, just like medevac helicopters (air ambulances) . Medevac helicopters proved their value in the Korean and Vietnam wars and were then rapidly adopted in community hospitals.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bananas Could Make Cars Leaner, Greener

Researchers are going bananas in the quest to build cleaner, greener cars.

Brazilian scientists have developed a way of using fibers from bananas, pineapples and other plants to create plastic that is stronger and lighter than the petroleum-based stuff. So-called nanocellulose fibers rival Kevlar in strength but are renewable, and the researchers believe they could be widely used within a couple of years.

"The properties of these plastics are incredible," Alcides Leão, a researcher at Sao Paulo State University, said in a statement. "They are light, but very strong — 30 percent lighter and three to four times stronger."

That could reduce the weight of new vehicles, which would increase fuel economy. Several automakers are cutting weight in their campaigns to maximize mpg. Ford, for example, hopes to trim 250 to 750 pounds from its vehicles and is exploring nanotechnology to do so.

Read more at bananas-could-make-cars-leaner-greener

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

GOP's anti-immigrant stance could turn Texas into a blue state

Not today, to be sure, nor tomorrow. But to read the newly released census data on the Lone Star State is to understand that Texas, the linchpin of any Republican electoral college majority, is turning Latino and, unless the Republicans change their spots, Democratic.

Figures released last month by the Census Bureau show that during the past decade, Texas joined California as a majority-minority state: The percentage of whites in the Texas population declined from 52 percent in 2000 to 45 percent in 2010, while the percentage of Latinos rose from 32 percent to 38 percent. Nearly half of all Texans under 18 - 48 percent - are Latino.

What these numbers mean is simply that the Republicans have an existential problem. As America becomes increasingly multiracial, the Republicans have elected to become increasingly white.

Read the entire article at Texas-blue

Monday, February 28, 2011

Military deploys acupuncture to treat soldiers' concussions

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — The U.S. military is applying an ancient Chinese healing technique to the top modern battlefield injury for American soldiers, with results that doctors here say are "off the charts."

Cdr Stuessi, a military doctor who treats soldiers at the Concussion Restoration Care Center at Camp Leatherneck, describes the results as "phenomenal." "It's like rewiring a computer; you're hitting certain nerves in the body. So instead of sending up a pain signal to the brain, they send up a signal saying everything's OK. It's almost like faking out the brain," Stuessi said.

Read the entire article at military-deploys-acupuncture
PERSONAL NOTE: I have severe tendonitis in my hands and arthritis in my thumbs caused by 48 years of using computer mice and keyboards. Orthopedic surgeons in VA and TX have told me that an operation MIGHT help so I have resorted to using pain medication when the pain gets severe. A couple of months ago I decided to try acupuncture. Acupuncture hasn't cured the problem but has helped to the extent that I no longer use medication.

Friday, February 11, 2011

World’s Total CPU Power: One Human Brain

"To put our findings in perspective, the 6.4*1018 instructions per second that human kind can carry out on its general-purpose computers in 2007 are in the same ballpark area as the maximum number of nerve impulses executed by one human brain per second,"

It turns out our computers aren't as powerful as we thought…

Read the article at world-computer-data

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder

The City Paper, a small alternative Washington newspaper, published an article detailing dozens of Snyder's inept and unpopular actions as team owner and businessman. It included the 2005 controversy surrounding the removal of more than 130 trees on National Park Service land adjacent to Snyder's home to improve his view of the Potomac River. Afterward Snyder paid a $37,000 fine and planted seedlings to replace the trees. Needless to say it will takes decades for the seedlings to reach the height of the previous trees and meanwhile Mr. Snyder will have an unobstructed view of the river. I remember this well because I lived in Fairfax County Virginia at the time. The episode marked one of the rare times Snyder got crisis PR help. He retained Mike Sitrick, who helped with damage control for the Michael Jackson family after the pop star's death and Paris Hilton after one of her arrests. Mr. Snyder is threatening a lawsuit against the paper and demanding that they fire the author of the article.

Mr. Robert Danno, the Shenandoah Junction resident and National Park Service employee who reported the tree removal to authorities, hasn't been as lucky as Mr. Snyder. Soon after he made his disclosures, he experienced a variety of administrative actions, including temporary reassignment, investigation, frivolous administrative charges, Board of Inquiry, suspension, isolation, permanent reassignment and criminal charges. He was removed from his position as chief ranger and reassigned for more than two years to the George Washington Memorial Parkway, where he was required to commute to Mt. Vernon from West Virginia, to issue picnic permits.

Read the entire article at the-cranky-redskins-fans-guide-to-dan-snyder

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Darpa Wants Troop Cellphones With Heat Vision

There's the shopworn military cliche about every soldier being a sensor. And then there's Darpa's out-there project to shrink thermal imaging down to the point where it would fit on a cellphone screen or a rifle sight. The Pentagon's research branch wants personal infrared imaging that's good enough to tell a soldier whether an armed adversary is coming right at him.

Read more at darpa-wants-troop-cellphones-with-heat-vision

Saturday, January 8, 2011

‘White House’ eCard Dupes Dot-Gov Geeks

A malware-laced e-mail that spoofed seasons greetings from The White House siphoned gigabytes of sensitive documents from dozens of victims over the holidays, including a number of government employees and contractors who work on cybersecurity matters.

The attack appears to be the latest salvo from ZeuS malware gangs whose activities over the past year have blurred the boundaries between online financial crime and espionage, by stealing both financial data and documents from victim machines. This activity is unusual because most criminals using ZeuS are interested in money-making activities – such as swiping passwords and creating botnets – whereas the hoovering up of sensitive government documents is activity typically associated with so-called advanced persistent threat attacks, or those deployed to gather industrial and military intelligence.

Read more atWhite-House-ecard-dupes-dot-gov-geeks

Global spam volumes fall precipitously

Global spam volumes have fallen precipitously in the past two months, thanks largely to the cessation of junk e-mail from Rustock – until recently the world's most active spam botnet. But experts say the hackers behind Rustock have since shifted the botnet's resources toward other money-making activities, such as installing spyware and adware. That's good news or bad news, depending on whether you have a good anti-spyware program. If you don't I recommend Spybot (free) or Systems Mechanic Pro ($49.95). System Mechanic Pro is also a very good PC tunup tool.

Read more at Rustock-ceases-operation

Friday, December 10, 2010

Déjà vu - Military Bans Removable Disks AGAIN

It's too late to stop WikiLeaks from publishing thousands more classified documents, nabbed from the Pentagon's secret network. But the U.S. military is telling its troops to stop using CDs, DVDs, thumb drives and every other form of removable media — or risk a court martial.

More info is available at Military-bans-disks-threatens-courts-martials-to-stop-new-leaks

NOTE: Removable disks were disabled on military computers and networks two years ago. It proved to be impracticable because many military users of imagery and other critical data only have access to low speed networks or no network access at all. In some cases critical operational readiness and project executions were being negatively impacted so the policy was changed. Removable media could be temporarily enabled under controlled conditions if documented. So one of three things occurred that allowed the WikiLeaks: (1) the military agency had not implemented the control procedures, (2) the WikiLeaks perpetrator who burned the documents to CDs had the authority to enable removable disks on the classified network, or (3) the WikiLeaks perpetrator convinced someone to enable removable disks on the classified network. The bottom line is the WikiLeaks were caused by weak management controls over classified networks and data.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

ActiveWords – a program you need

ActiveWords is a simple, intuitive macro-program that allows you to create brief words or shortcuts to substitute text (up to 32kb in size); open programs, files and folders; navigate the Internet; open Windows settings; and execute scripting actions. After using the free trial program for a couple of days I purchased ActiveWords PLUS for $49.95. I have already created several dozen shortcuts. Examples:

    cs + F8 inserts "Charles Stone" wherever the cursor is located

    ad + F8 inserts my address wherever the cursor is located

    w + F8 opens Microsoft Word

    wc + F8 opens the wired.com web site

    cp + F8 opens the Control Panel

    cw + F8 closes the current window

I prefer my shortcuts to be 1-3 characters in length but you can make them any length you like. For example, you could use Word F8 to open Microsoft Word. ActiveWords joins my list of MUST HAVE Windows PC productivity applications: Alarm++, askSam Free-Form Database, Bookmark Buddy and Snagit. Try them – they will simplify your computing life. Trials are available for all of them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Arsenic-munching germ redefines "life as we know it”

A strange, salty lake in California has yielded an equally strange bacterium that thrives on arsenic and redefines life as we know it, researchers reported Thursday.

The bacteria do not merely eat arsenic -- they incorporate the toxic element directly into their DNA, the researchers said.

The finding shows just how little scientists know about the variety of life forms on Earth, and may greatly expand where they should be looking for life on other planets and moons, the NASA-funded team said.

Read more at Arsenic_bacteria

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

IBM chip breakthrough may lead to exascale supercomputers

IBM researchers have made a breakthrough in using pulses of light to accelerate data transfer between chips, something they say could boost the performance of supercomputers by more than a thousand times. Such supercomputers should dramatically improve weather and climatic predictions by allowing larger parts of the earth to be simultaneously modeled and analyzed.

Read more at IBM Chip Breakthrough

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hurricane Forecasts Can Be Made Years in Advance

The parade of storms that pummels the western fringe of the North Atlantic every year just got a bit more predictable. Scientists say they have developed a way to forecast how many Atlantic hurricanes there will be — not just for the upcoming year, as some groups already do each spring, but for several years out.

Knowing how hurricane trends could change in the future, he says, will help society prepare for the damage of the kind that Hurricane Tomas recently dealt the Caribbean.

Read more at Hurricane Forecasts

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why Your Electric Vehicle 'Fuel' Will Be Free

How can EVs become more attractive to consumers price-wise? One of the ways can be from the realistic prospect of free 'fuel.' Imagine this scenario happening in the not so distant future: You get in your EV for a day of errands and your display screen notifies you that your battery is low. A quick scan on the navigation system says there is an available charge spot at a nearby grocery store where, best of all, charging is free to customers. With a few touches to the navigation screen, your vehicle automatically routes you to the location and you're able to refuel while grocery shopping is checked off your list.

Pie in the sky you ask? Not at all and here's why: depending on battery size, the cost of the total electricity needed to charge your vehicle should be around $1.00 - $1.50. Retailers will likely see this as good business: spending a $1.00 per customer in exchange for the $100 you'll spend at the grocery store is a high return; especially when considering the amount they normally spend on advertisements and reward programs to get you in the door. Essentially, electricity as fuel will be much more than a commodity—it will be a retailer's bargaining chip.

Read more at Free Fuel

Friday, October 22, 2010

Feds Plot ‘Near Human’ Robot Docs, Farmers, Troops

Robots are already vacuuming our carpets, heading into combat and assisting docs on medical procedures. Get ready for a next generation of "near human" bots that'll do a lot more: independently perform surgeries, harvest our crops and herd our livestock, and even administer drugs from within our own bodies.

Those are only a few of the suggested applications for robots in a massive new federal research program. The military's blue-sky research arm, Darpa, is pairing up with four other agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Homeland Security, to launch a major push that'd revolutionize robotic capabilities and put bots pretty much everywhere, from hospitals to dude ranches to "explosive atmospheres."

Read more at Push-for-near-human-robot-doctors-farmers-troops

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Computerized Grenade Launcher Heads to Afghanistan

It looks like a piece of riot-control gear. It's got a computerized in-board targeting system. It can kill someone from 2,300 feet away, while he takes cover. And it's on its way to the 101st Airborne Division and Special Forces units in the Afghanistan war.

The XM-25 grenade launcher shoots a 25 mm high-explosive round that's basically a "smart" grenade. What makes it smart? Sensors and microchips inside the round talks to the gun's guidance system, known as the Target Acquisition Fire Control unit, to learn where and when to explode, minimizing the likelihood of collateral damage.

Need to take out an insurgent who's popping out from behind a clay wall? Set the guidance for the distance to the wall and adjust a bit more for his body's position and fire — actually using Plus and Minus buttons on the side of the gun. Watch the round release bursts of shrapnel right over him. You can't do that with a regular mortar tube, even if you were able to shoot the mortar like a gun.

Read more at Computerized-grenade-launcher-heads-to-afghanistan

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Comments on my blog

You can now comment on my blog posts if you like. I didn't know until recently that Blogspot was changed so that blogs were set to a default of "no comments". To comment on a post click on "comments" at the end. A new window will be opened to allow you to leave comments. You can choose an identity such as your Google Account or just click on "Anonymous".

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Darpa's Self-Aiming "One Shot" Sniper Rifle Scheduled for Next Year

A sniper crouches near an open window and zooms in on his target, who sits a half-mile away. He peers through a scope and holds his breath, preparing to squeeze the trigger. But it's windy outside, and he can't afford a miss. What to do?

A new DARPA-funded electro-optical system will calculate the ballistics for him, telling him where to aim and ensuring a perfect shot, no matter the weather conditions.

Read more at Self-Aiming Sniper Rifle

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Darpa Moves a Step Closer to Its Flying Humvee

In the spring, the futurists at Darpa rethought troop transport. Instead of adding armor or changing the shape to deflect bomb blasts, the agency reasoned, why not let it leap into the sky at the first sign of danger or inconvenience? That's exactly what Darpa's "Transformer" project is supposed to be: a mashup of a helicopter, plane and armored truck.

Flying Humvee

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cyber Thieves Steal Nearly $1,000,000 from University of Virginia College

Cyber crooks stole just shy of $1 million from a satellite campus of The University of Virginia last week, KrebsOnSecurity.com has learned.

The attackers stole the money from The University of Virginia's College at Wise, a 4-year public liberal arts college located in the town of Wise in southwestern Virginia.

Read more at Cyber Thieves Steal Nearly $1M From University of Virginia College

Attackers Exploiting New Acrobat/Reader Flaw

Adobe warned today that hackers appear to be exploiting a previously unknown security hole in its PDF Reader and Acrobat programs.

In an advisory published Wednesday, Adobe said a critical vulnerability exists in Acrobat and Reader versions 9.3.4 and earlier, and that there are reports that this critical vulnerability is being actively exploited in the wild. The company says its in the process of evaluating the schedule for an update to plug the security hole.

WARNING: Since the latest Adobe Reader available as of today 10 September 2010 is vulnerable, it is CRITICAL THAT YOUR ANTIVIRUS PROGRAM BE KEPT UP TO DATE.

Read more at New Acrobat/Reader Flaw

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

DHS Cybersecurity Watchdogs Miss Hundreds of Vulnerabilities on Their Own Network

The federal agency in charge of protecting other agencies from computer intruders was found riddled with hundreds of high-risk security holes on its own systems, according to the results of an audit released Wednesday.

Read More
DHS Network Vulnerabilities

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Audio Teen-Repellent

Gallery Place business owners in the Chinatown area of Washington DC are using a new approach to chasing away loitering teenagers: zapping them with a device that emits a high-pitched, headache-inducing sound that only young ears can hear.

The Mosquito, as the $1,000 device is called, is apparently annoying not only its intended targets, but also some of their sharp-hearing elders.

To read more and see if it would bother you go to Gallery Place's New Audio Teen-Repellent

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tiny Thorium Reactors Could Wean World Off Oil

An abundant metal with vast energy potential could quickly wean the world off oil, if only Western political leaders would muster the will to do it, a UK newspaper says today. The Telegraph makes the case for thorium reactors as the key to a fossil-fuel-free world within five years, and puts the ball firmly in President Barack Obama's court.

Read more at Thorium Reactors Could Wean World Off Oil In Just Five Years

Monday, August 9, 2010

My New Home in Far North Dallas

I have been on the waiting list for two terrific apartments for several months. It took so long for me to find an apartment because I'm picky. I demanded a top floor apartment, preferably a corner unit, with a good view in a vibrant neighborhood. My favorites were the Ravello in Uptown near the Dallas arts and entertainment center and Turnberry Isle located beside the Prestonwood Country Club golf course.

I am now a Turnberry Isle resident. Turnberry is less than 10 minutes from the Galleria and even closer to Addison's nightlife. There are DOZENS of great restaurants nearby. And I'm only 20 minutes to my options classes in Uptown. The rent on my 2-bedroom top floor corner unit apartment costs 60% less than my Fairfax VA 1-bedroom apartment.

The photos below were taken from my balcony that overlooks the 11th hole of the golf course.
This is my living room. The living room and master bedroom also overlook the golf course. I'm going to turn the master bedroom into a large office as soon as I buy a desk and some bookshelves.

Spinal-Fluid Test Confirmed to Predict Alzheimer's

The New York Times reports that researchers have found a spinal-fluid test can be 100 percent accurate in identifying patients with significant memory loss who are on their way to developing Alzheimer's disease.

Read more at Spinal-Fluid Test Confirmed to Predict Alzheimer's

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Download a Movie from iTunes in Less than 1 Second

That's the promise of a research breakthrough from Intel that combines silicon chips and lasers to transmit data at 50 gigabits per second — and someday, maybe as fast as a terabit per second.

The 50-Gbps speed is enough to download an HD movie from iTunes, or up to 100 hours of digital music, in less than a second.

The technology, known as silicon photonics, can be used as a replacement for copper wires to connect components within computers, or between computers in data centers. Over the next two years, Intel hopes to perfect the technology by improving the efficiency of the lasers, as well as the packaging and assembly of the silicon chips and the manufacturing techniques needed to churn out millions of these modules.

Read more at High-Speed Laser Chips Move Data at 50 Gbps

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Telemedicine Comes Into Its Own

"Telemedicine — providing care using advanced communications technology may be coming into its own with a little help from Uncle Sam. The Obama administration recently awarded $795 million in grants and loans for 66 new broadband projects. Most of these projects will involve using videoconferencing equipment to allow doctors to consult on medical procedures or examinations remotely."

Read more at Telemedicine Comes Into Its Own

Monday, July 12, 2010

NOAA interactive map tracks Gulf oil spill

Geoplatform.gov/gulfresponse employs the Environmental Response Management Application (ERMAR) a web-based GIS platform developed by NOAA and the University of New Hampshire's Coastal Response Research Center. ERMA was designed to facilitate communication and coordination among a variety of users - from federal, state and local responders to local community leaders and the public.

The mapping tool includes only those vessels equipped with the automatic identification system and therefore is not representative of all the vessels supporting the largest oil spill response and recovery operation in U.S. history.

Thanks to Joe Machado for this information.

Army’s Self-Driving Trucks Let Humans Watch for Bombs

As insurgents in Afghanistan target the U.S. military's soft underbelly — its long logistics lines — trucking materiel through war zones has become an increasingly dangerous mission. One U.S. Army solution? Self-driving trucks that let the humans behind the wheel look out for bombs, instead.
Self Driving Trucks

Friday, July 9, 2010

Computer Mouse Turns Invisible

In a magic trick that only geeks can pull off, researchers at MIT have found a method to let users click and scroll exactly the same way they would with a computer mouse, without the device actually being there.
Invisible Mouse

Sunday, June 13, 2010

3-D Printers Make Real Items From Design Downloads

Home computer printers gave people the ability to produce bank statements, concert tickets, holiday cards and party invitations at the touch of a button.

But what if you wanted to "print out" a dinner plate, the leg of an armchair or an eyeglass frame? It may sound far-fetched and futuristic, but machines that can do this -- popularly known as 3-D printers -- are poised to enter the home electronics market.

To read more click on 3-D Printers Go Beyond Paper and Ink

PERSONAL NOTE: These devices remind me of the "3D printer" that my old Army agency has that can produce solid 3-D color models from digital geospatial information. The 3D printer is used to create color models of cities, mountainous areas and other complex terrain around the world in support of military operations and other applications. Some visiting Congressmen have requested models of cities or other areas in their home districts.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New blood test speeds up cancer detection

The detection and treatment of solid cancers such as lung, breast, ovarian, colon, and prostate cancers could be on the verge of a major makeover, thanks to a new blood test developed at the University of Nottingham and spinoff company Oncimmune.

Read more at New Blood TEST Speeds Up Cancer Detection

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mark Twain To Reveal All After 100 Year Wait

One of Mark Twain's dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published one hundred years after his death. Twain, the pen name of Samuel Clemens, left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century, but in November, the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain's three-volume autobiography. Scholars are divided as to why Twain wanted his autobiography kept under wraps for so long, with some believing it was because he wanted to talk freely about issues such as religion and politics. Michael Shelden, who this year published Man in White, an account of Twain's final years, says that some of his privately held views could have hurt his public image. 'He had doubts about God, and in the autobiography, he questions the imperial mission of the US in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines,' says Shelden. 'He's also critical of [Theodore] Roosevelt, and takes the view that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. Twain also disliked sending Christian missionaries to Africa. He said they had enough business to be getting on with at home: with lynching going on in the South, he thought they should try to convert the heathens down there.'

Friday, May 21, 2010

Toyota, Tesla Burnish Their Images by Teaming Up

This is a very interesting article. Suddenly Tesla, the new EV auto company, becomes more believable as it gets Toyota components and an unused California auto plant!

The Japanese giant and the Silicon Valley upstart stunned everyone with Thursday's announcement that they'll work together on electric vehicles and components. Toyota will buy $50 million worth of stock when Tesla Motors goes public, and it gets a closer look at proven EV tech. Tesla gets a shuttered Toyota factory in Northern California to build the Model S sedan and expert advice on how to engineer and build a mass-market car.

Read More at Toyota Tesla Deal

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Researchers Restore Youthful Memory in Aging Mice

"German neuroscientists have made a breakthrough in 'age-related cognitive decline', a common condition that often begins in one's late 40s (especially declarative memory — the ability to recall facts and experiences). Their new study identifies a genetic 'switch' for the cluster of learning and memory genes that cause memory impairment in aging mice. By injecting an enzyme, the team 'flipped' the switch to its on position for older mice, giving them the memory and learning performance they'd enjoyed when they were young. Now the team ultimately hopes to recover seemingly lost long-term memory in human patients."

Read more at Switch On Memory

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dallas Cowboys Stadium Tour

The $1.4 billion Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas opened in May 2009. The domed stadium features an expansive retractable roof, the world's largest HDTV video board, and the largest retractable end zone doors in the world. The stadium has seating for 80,000 expandable to 110,000, 381 luxury suites, club seating on multiple levels and three standing room only areas for 15,000 fans above the end zones. It is the 3rd largest stadium in the NFL by seating capacity. 180-foot-wide by 120-foot-high glass doors, located at each end of the stadium, allow each end zone to be opened.

Tom Landry statue in front of the stadium.

The stadium is the largest domed stadium in the world and has the world's largest column-free interior. The Statue of Liberty and its base would fit inside the stadium without touching the retractable roof. The stadium requires three electrical power substations plus backup generators and averages roughly $200,000 in monthly utility bills. When it is in full summer operation it uses more electricity than all of the high rise buildings in Fort Worth.

The field is actually 50 feet below ground level, so fans entering on the plaza level will have a panoramic view over the field. The end zone areas have the flexibility to convert from standing-room only to seating, based on specific event needs. The maximum seating capacity is approximately 110,000.

The new stadium has more than 3,000 Sony LCD displays throughout the luxury suites, concourses, concession areas and more, offering fans viewing options that extend beyond the action on the field, and a center-hung four-sided video display board that contains two of the largest high-definition television screens in the world. People frequently refer to the video board as the "Jerry-Tron" or the "Jumbo-Tron". It actually consists of four separate screens: two 160-by-72 foot main screens and two 48-by-48 foot screens for the end zones. The video board was originally fixed at 90 feet directly above the center of the playing surface. After the Tennessee Titans punter hit the board during the Cowboy's first preseason game and first game ever played at Cowboy Stadium in 2009, the board was retrofitted so that the board height could be varied from 35 to 100 feet. The video board weighs an astounding 1.2 million pounds and reaches a span of seven stories in height and spans from 20 yard line to 20 yard line. The video board cost $5 million more than the entire construction of the old Texas Stadium.

The 410 foot long by 256 foot wide retractable roof was open when we started our tour. Later as clouds started moving in they closed it. Closing the two roof panels takes about 10 minutes. Not bad considering that each panel is 215 feet long and consists of 14,100 tons of structural steel. During NFL games the Cowboys do not control the retractable roof – the NFL controls whether it will be open or closed.

This photo shows a view of the three standing room only areas above one of the end zones. The areas are above the seats under the Dr. Pepper, Ford and AT&T signs. Each area has a capacity of 2,500. $29 Party Pass tickets gives fans access to these standing room only areas.

This is a view from one of the upper deck end zone standing room only areas. It shows one of the 48 foot screens on the video board.

The facility has a permanent maintenance staff of 6,000 and six different surfaces that can be installed in 12 hours. This allows the stadium to be used for a variety of activities outside of its main purpose (professional football) such as concerts, religious ceremonies, basketball games, college football and high school football contests, soccer matches, motorcross races and rodeos similar to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. For basketball events played in Cowboys Stadium, such as the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, the video board is actually larger than the court and the video board is lowered to 35 feet. The highest the board has ever been raised was 100 feet for a U2 concert. The video board was not used during the concert but had to be raised to make room for their large claw shaped stage.

This telephoto of Ameriquest Field, the Texas Ranger's stadium, was taken from one of the top deck standing room only areas. The traditional, red brick baseball stadium is an interesting contrast to the futuristic Cowboy Stadium.

Player lockers.

The cheerleaders have their own lockers in the new stadium.

The previous photo is a view from one of the luxury suites. There are 381 luxury suites on five different levels with leases ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 per year. The suites range in size from 650 to 800 square feet and seat up to 45 fans. The suites have leather-clad walls, bars with Brazilian granite tops, custom leather furniture and private restrooms.

Seating in one of the larger luxury suites.

The luxury suite lessees and their guests can enjoy catered gourmet foods prepared by 12 chefs, private entrances, private parking, tickets to Cowboy home games and access to exclusive clubs in the stadium.

Tickets: Dallas surpassed New England and now has the most expensive tickets in the league. They average $160, an increase of 90% from last season. The sticker shock doesn't end with the cost of tickets, however. The Fan Cost Index -- what it takes to bring a family of four to a game -- is $759 in Dallas, by far the highest in the league. The Patriots check in with the second-highest FCI at $597, and the league average is $412. The biggest bargains in the NFL can be found in Buffalo, where tickets average $51 and the FCI is $304, and in Jacksonville, $57 and $310.

Parking: Jones and the Dallas Cowboys control all of the premium parking lots around the stadium. Parking passes are available with certain tickets and start at around $50 – $75 dollars and the price goes up from that. Parking at the nearby Texas Ranger's Stadium cost is $20-60. Downtown Arlington parking is available for $25 or less but there are no shuttle buses to the stadium which is 1.4 miles away.

Concessions and merchandising sales: The New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys, two of sports' richest teams, have partnered with Goldman Sachs Group and private equity firm CIC Partners to create Legends Hospitality Management, a sports services company that will operate the concessions and merchandising sales at the new Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas, and at the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, along with the stadiums of the Yankees' minor league affiliates.

The Art Program At Cowboys Stadium is an art program at the stadium that launched with 14 commissioned artworks by renowned artists, which have been installed in prominent locations throughout the Stadium. Franz Ackermann, Annette Lawrence, and Olafur Eliasson are among those who have created new work for the program. When Jerry Jones and his wife, Gene, announced the Dallas Cowboys Art Program, an initiative to commission and install contemporary art throughout their new football home, Cowboys Stadium became the latest sports facility to double as a gallery. Our 1-hour tour did not include visits to areas displaying art.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cable Company Makes a Move on Internet Video

NOTE: When I first started reading this article I thought " So what?" Then I got to the third paragraph below and I changed my mind! It could be a big deal…

Four hundred eighty channels and nothing to watch on TV? Liberty Global, one of the largest cable service providers in Europe, is adding a few more options for its customers.

The company will soon introduce a set-top box that will marry traditional cable content with apps, widgets and access to web-based video, Wired has learned. "It's a set-top box on steroids," Balan Nair, chief technology officer for Liberty Global, told Wired.com. "The interface will be very intuitive and advanced and include features such as search and recommendation that will tie in a seamless way the experience of a using a DVR and a web search engine."

Think of it as a Boxee or Roku-like service living on the cable digital video recorder. For instance, a search for Batman will show what channel is broadcasting it, if is available through video on demand, where on the web you can find it and even if it is available through some peer-to-peer networks.

Read More

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pentagon Virus Detector Knows You’re Sick Before You Do

Imagine knowing you'll be too sick to go to work, before the faintest hint of a runny nose or a sore throat. Now imagine that preemptive diagnosis being transmitted to a national, web-based influenza map — simply by picking up the phone.

That's the impressive potential of an ongoing Pentagon-funded research project, spearheaded by geneticists at Duke University.

Dr. Geoffrey Ginsburg, director of Duke's Institute for Genome Science & Policy, anticipates a suitcase-sized device in the war-zone within "a couple years," and says the devices are already showing excellent accuracy 24 hours before an infected patient becomes symptomatic.

Read more at Virus Detector Knows You're Sick Before You Do

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Free antivirus, antispyware, and other security tools

Concerned about your computer becoming infected with a virus, spyware, or other malicious software? Who isn't? One quick, easy way that you can help protect your PC is by downloading Microsoft Security Essentials. It provides real-time protection against malicious software, and it's easy to install, simple to use, and free. Learn more about Microsoft Security Essentials, plus discover other free security tools from Microsoft for additional protection.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Air Force Treating Wounds With Lasers and Nanotech

Forget stitches and old-school sutures. The Air Force is funding scientists who are using nano-technology and lasers to seal up wounds at a molecular level.

It might sound like Star Trek tech, but it's actually the latest in a series of ambitious Pentagon efforts to create faster, more effective methods of treating war-zone injuries.

Last year, the military's research agency, Darpa, requested proposals for instant injury repair using adult stem cells, and Pentagon scientists are already doing human trials of spray-on skin.

Heal Wounds With Lasers and Nanotech

Friday, April 30, 2010

Pentagon Scientists Inject Necks to ‘Cure’ PTSD

Finding an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder has been a top Pentagon priority for years. And with an estimated one in five veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from PTSD, the military's been willing to consider anything and everything, including yoga, dog therapy and acupuncture, to alleviate symptoms.

But a small new study out of Walter Reed Army Medical Center might offer more than temporary relief — with nothing more than a quick jab to the neck.

Read more at Pentagon-scientists-inject-necks-to-cure-ptsd

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Aliens Exist & We Should Avoid Them, Says Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking believes we should fear aliens, which would probably come to Earth in search of resources and bent on our destruction.

The venerated cosmologist says in a new Discovery Channel series that he thinks aliens exist, but we should do everything we can to avoid meeting them. Any life intelligent enough to find us would probably be seeking resources, he says. And that would likely be bad news for humans.

Read more at aliens-are-out-there-and-want-our-resources

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ennis Bluebonnet Trails

I took these pics on my trip to Ennis Saturday 17 April 2010. North Texas bluebonnets are beautiful but they can't quite match Hill Country bluebonnets.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

NASA Sending Robot to Space That Looks Like You

A humanoid robot will visit space for the first time in September aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, NASA announced Wednesday.

The Robonaut 2, which was co-developed by NASA with General Motors, will serve as an assistant to the humans on board the International Space Station, using the same tools developed for astronauts.

The bot will be phased into operation in three stages. First, it'll operate only from a fixed position inside the International Space Station. Then, it'll be allowed to move about inside, and finally within a few years, it will be allowed to do extravehicular activities.

Read More at Robonaut Will Ride The Shuttle

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fiery Crash Leaves Big Rig Dangling Off Bridge

A crash along northbound State Highway 121 at the Interstate 35E interchange in Lewisville TX caused a big rig to catch fire and dangle off the overpass.

The driver of the big rig was merging onto 121 when he was clipped by a North Texas Tollway Authority dump trunk, caught fire and then hit a pickup truck. No serious injuries were reported in the crash, but it snarled traffic for miles after authorities closed the northbound lanes of Highway 121 and the ramps from northbound I-35E.

Read the article and view a video at Big-Rig-Dangles-Off-Bridge-After-Crash

PERSONAL NOTE: I was driving north on State Highway 121 after returning from a doctor's appointment in Frisco TX when I saw a large black cloud of smoke appear ahead. The traffic almost immediately came to a halt and several emergency vehicles passed on the shoulders. I was able to take an exit and only lost about ten minutes time.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Nanotech Vaccine Successfully Cures Type-1 Diabetes in Mice

An innovative nanotech "vaccine" has been proven to cure type 1 diabetes in mice, and paves the way to do the same for humans. A dose of therapeutic nanoparticles given to diabetic mice restored healthy sugar levels in the rodents. Read the complete article at Nanotech Vaccine Cures Type-1 Diabetes in Mice

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Texas Hill Country Bluebonnets

Thanks to Dick Belt for these photos.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nanogel Regenerates Cartilage in Joints

The body is a resilient biological structure, but there's one thing medical science, an increasing number of Baby Boomers, and the majority of professional athletes will all tell you: Take care of your joints, because once you burn up the cartilage you started with, you're not getting any more. But a breakthrough by Northwestern University scientists will now allow adult joints to naturally grow new cartilage for the very first time.

The process has undergone successful animal testing, but it's likely got a few more years of testing ahead of it before it could become commonplace. But the timing couldn't be better; an aging population means an increase in achy old joints. A fresh round of cartilage production could keep many of the more senior members of society in the workforce, on the golf course and out of orthopedic surgeon's office.

Read more at Stem Cell Nano-gel Regenerates Cartilage

Personal note: I hope this procedure is approved soon. I have severe arthritis in one of my thumbs caused by a teenage injury and over 45 years of computer keyboard and mouse use. It causes me mild discomfort and pain and makes me appreciate the problems and pain of people with a wider range of arthritic joints.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The passing of an unsung artist and intellectual

Charles Frank "Devo" Ragsdale died of cancer on February 12, 2010. He was an aspiring artist and intellectual whose life can best be summed up in Henry David Thoreau's quotation "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." Devo was a teacher who taught in New England, California and Texas; an avowed Zionist who had an excellent knowledge of Middle Eastern history and current events; and a football fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of college and pro football statistics. After retirement he became a reclusive artist who was convinced that his next painting would bring him fame.

Devo was one of my best friends for over 50 years. I am the proud owner of three of his more realistic paintings. The painting of birds above was done for me when my wife died in November 2006. His paintings tended toward Impressionism and Cubism to such an extent that they were incomprehensible to most people. Over the years we had many good natured arguments about his style of painting. I kept telling him he could be a successful commercial artist if he would switch his painting style to Realism. And he would tell me I did not recognize good art when I saw it and that he refused to prostitute himself to the commercial art world just to be successful.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dallas Blooms

Dallas Blooms at the Dallas Arboretum is the largest floral festival in the south, showcasing over 500,000 spring-blooming bulbs. The 90 Japanese cherry blossom trees were also in bloom when I visited yesterday.