Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The 100 Best Products of 2007

Top 25 Apps to Grow your Business

If you are running a small business, you know that to be successful you need to be a jack-of-all-trades. The smart way to manage everything from company finances, to client relations, to marketing, is to use the right tools – tools that are simple enough that they won’t require you to spend a lot of time and money you don’t have setting them up.

In this guide we cover the 25 best web2.0 applications for entrepreneurs who are looking for simple, cheap, and effective solutions to solving some of the tasks facing their small business or startup. The 25 applications selected were chosen both on the basis of their usefulness for the individual small business manager as well as their effectiveness in providing community support and networking opportunities for users.

Piping carbon back into the ground - carbon sequestration

In the battle to contain climate change, pumping carbon dioxide (CO2) back into old coal seams or natural gas reservoirs has become one of the hot topics among scientific and government planners. Earlier this week, the idea was given a huge boost.

6. Some say that even a small chance of worldwide catastrophe is worth the “insurance” of working to reduce the risk to zero, even at astronomical expense. But how small is a “small” risk? And how does the risk of global warming stack up to the other global risks for which we could use our limited resources? That’s where I hit the wall on my understanding of the issue.

The Foreign Student Dilemma

The only prudent policy-planning assumption must be that it will be impossible to offset this decline of foreign STEM students with our own young people. This is not meant to suggest that efforts to attract more U.S. citizens to STEM fields, including women and underrepresented minorities, should be relaxed. Rather, it reflects the modest success achieved to date and the lack of understanding of the problem's root causes.

Policymakers should therefore place a high priority on mitigating the negative effects of the increased care and scrutiny with which foreign students will henceforth be admitted to the United States. Without adequate policies, an inadequate STEM workforce will eventually diminish U.S. capacity to increase productivity: the bedrock of continued improvements in living standards and national wealth.

$5000 for H-1B

From immigrationvoice

Final Version of Sanders' Amendment of H-1B Supplemental Fee and American Student Scholarship Fund as Passed

The controversial Sanders' amendment initially was passed in the Senate last week which imposes $3,500 (or $1,750) for a supplemental fee for the American Student Scholarship Fund. The supplemental fee is added to the current fees that include $1,500 (or $750) ACWIA fee, $500 fraud prevention fee, and $190 H-1B petition (which will in itself increase substantially when the fee increase regulation is implemented). Go figure! The text of the final amendment is as follows:
Section 214(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following:``(15)(A) In each instance where the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Secretary of State is required to impose a fee pursuant to paragraph (9) or (11), the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Secretary of State, as appropriate, shall impose a supplemental fee on the employer in addition to any other fee required by such paragraph or any other provision of law, in the amount determined under subparagraph (B).
``(B) The amount of the supplemental fee shall be $3,500, except that the fee shall be 1/2 that amount for any employer with not more than 25 full-time equivalent employees who are employed in the United States (determined by including any affiliate or subsidiary of such employer).
``(C) Fees collected under this paragraph shall be deposited in the Treasury in accordance with section 286(x).''

Monday, May 28, 2007

Great resource for learning about server based computing

Brian Badden has made available a huge range of presentations and videos from his BriForum events in 2006. He plans to make the sessions from 2005 available soon and right now you can also order the 2007 sessions on DVD.

However many of the 2006 sessions will still be very useful unless you are on the bleeding edge.

Download them here. I spend most of my lunchtimes virtually attending tech conference from my home office, broadening my skill set and saving the planet!

The New Pornographers

Above Acworth’s desk is a framed article from a British tabloid, The Sun, which he picked up by chance while vacationing in Spain in 1997. The headline reads, “Fireman Makes ¼ Million Pounds Pushing Internet Filth.”

“I realized this article was going to change my life,” says Acworth. At that point, he had already earned a mathematics degree from Cambridge, a master’s from the École des Hautes Études Commerciales in Paris—one of Europe’s most renowned business schools—and was working toward a Ph.D. in finance at Columbia University. He had also worked for a year at Barings Bank in London.

“This guy had simply taken some photos, put them behind a password-protected area and started charging people with credit cards. There was nothing even remotely clever about it. The fact that he could make that amount of money was astonishing. I thought, Do I really want to finish my Ph.D. and end up in a bank?”

Peter Acworth is a bondage enthusiast who started in 1997 out of his student bedroom while he was a PhD student in New York City. His first models were students at Columbia University, who he paid to be tied up while he tried to conceal his erection! After a huge initial success, he moved to San Francisco and started expanding.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Insurance Information Institute

The mission of the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) is to improve public understanding of insurance -- what it does and how it works.

For more than 40 years, the I.I.I. has provided definitive insurance information. Today, the I.I.I. is recognized by the media, governments, regulatory organizations, universities and the public as a primary source of information, analysis and referral concerning insurance.

Each year, the I.I.I. works on more than 3,700 news stories, handles more than 6,000 requests for information and answers nearly 50,000 questions from consumers.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Zero tax on income of Rs 11.20 lakh?

Interesting comments on an article on how to save on taxes on rediff.

Why the West is outsourcing healthcare

With more than 45 million U.S. citizens lacking health insurance and no end in sight to the rise of health care costs, Americans are increasingly turning to places like MedRetreat to help them outsource their health care to hospitals in India, Thailand, Turkey and Singapore. It's estimated that 150,000 foreigners sought treatment in India alone in 2004, and that number is growing by 15% a year, according to the international independent consulting firm Oxford Analytica.

Lots of interesting video lectures.

These guys use django.

Website Hits
Over 1 million page hits since start-up March 13, 2001.
The pages most frequently visited are (some variation with time):
Powerball (Visits increase sharply when large jackpots exist)
Mega Millions (Visits increase sharply when large jackpots exist)
Home page
“The Great Global Warming Swindle” is itself a Fraud and a Swindle
Evolution of the Colorado River
Rollover (People are becoming aware of “Peak Oil”)
(Parker Brothers) Monopoly
Grand Canyon Tour
N_Queens (A surprisingly popular classic puzzle)
Yahoo Customer Service and web hosting
Creationism (& related pages)

Top 30 Django Tutorials and Articles

As a response to the Top 30 Ruby on Rails Tutorials, I’ve compiled a list of the top 30 Django tutorials and articles. These links are in addition to the great documentation on the Django project site.

Sending E-Mails via Templates

So you've got an application written in Django that needs to send large bodies of e-mail, but you don't want the e-mail message itself to be in your Python code. Fair enough, I'd say - you should be separating form from function, and in this case, the e-mail output is still what I'd classify as 'form'.

One way to tackle this situation is to create a template for your e-mail body, process that template to fill in the gaps (eg Username, URL's, etc) and shoot it off via Django's e-mail functions instead of rendering it in a web browser as you'd normally do with templates.

Draw floorplans, diagrams and charts online with Cumulate Draw

Quickly throw together a network diagram, flowchart, org chart, or rearrange your furniture using office (and kitchen and bath) floorplan items. Cumulate Draw's interface is rich with click and drag features to enlarge, rotate and re-position items. Click on the image above for a quick and dirty chart I threw together in a few minutes with Cumulate Draw.

Friday, May 25, 2007

What's the current high-school dropout rate?

We hear a lot about how American high schools are in bad shape -- not enough funding, not enough teachers, and too many kids dropping out. Do the numbers support the anecdotal evidence?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 10.3% of high-school students dropped out in 2004. (Among Hispanic students, the dropout rate is a disturbingly high 23.8%.) Overall, the rate is trending downward. In 1995, 12% of all high-school students dropped out.

But pinpointing an accurate high-school dropout rate has proved to be something of a challenge. States use various and sometimes questionable methods to calculate the rate, and often report only the most favorable figure.

Amid all the variables, one thing is constant -- those students who choose to drop out face tough challenges in adulthood. A study by the Education Trust found:

The unemployment rate for high school dropouts is more than 30 percent higher than that of graduates. And when employed, dropouts earn close to 30 percent less. Dropouts are also more likely to end up incarcerated and rely on public assistance.
How are those for reasons to stay in school?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Productivity Ninja: 101 Ways to Rock the Keyboard

Keyboard Shortcuts


* Compose. C.
* Reply. R.
* Reply all. A.
* Forward. F.
* Archive, and next. Y+O archives the current message and opens the next.
* Delete, and next. #+O (i.e. Shift-3 + O) to delete and then open the next message.
* Send. Tab-Enter to send a message after composing it.
* Search. /.
* Navigate. J and K to move up and down your list of messages.
* Conversation view. N and P to move to the next or previous messages in Conversation view.
* Mute. M will archive a conversation and make all future messages in that conversation skip your inbox.
* Select conversation. X will select and check a conversation so you can tag, archive or apply an action.
* Save draft. Control-S.
* Go to inbox. G+I.
* Go to Starred. G+S.
* Go to Contacts. G+C.

How Keki Gharda stunned the MNC giants

I could read a 500-page book in a day, it is a peculiar form of rapid reading that I have evolved myself. I would glance through the page almost line by line and if it is a description of a house or a room, or the protagonist, I would skip through. In around eight hours I could tell you reasonably well the contents of a 500-page book.

In 1965, he started his company in a small rented shed with a drum as a table and a carboy for a chair. Over the next four decades Gharda Chemicals has repeatedly flummoxed multinationals like Sandoz, Bayer and Hoechst by making their products at a fraction of the cost through technological virtuosity.

In the process it has recorded many firsts in dyestuffs, pesticides, veterinary drugs and polymers which have fetched dozens of awards from the government and industry. In 2004 Gharda became not only the first Indian but also the first Asian to win the prestigious Chemical Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Chemists for his extraordinary achievements in the chemical industry.

He is now setting up his dream project, a top-notch technical college a few hours drive from Mumbai. Excerpts from an interview with MoneyLIFE editors Sucheta Dalal and Debashis Basu that was punctuated by many jokes, wisecracks and funny anecdotes from a young man of 77.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The time has come for the enterprise to exit the datacenter

And here lies a tremendous opportunity: Instead of spending our energies on datacenters, why not concentrate on providing safe, secure, and reliable network-based services that run on the public Internet? Why not buy these services from trusted suppliers as opposed to building applications that are expensive to maintain? Do we really believe that each and every business is so unique that standard services like mail, calendaring, IM, HR, and even ERP can't be provisioned from a service provider? Over the next few years, Sun plans to provide its employees with more business applications and services this way.

But let's make it clear that we're not simply talking about datacenter outsourcing or outhosting. We're talking about turning off applications and shutting down network and datacenters and instead buying services from trusted partners.

I believe that in the future, CIOs will provision these services from a community of service providers who will run their own extremely large datacenters in much the same manner as power companies operate power plants today. These companies will provide safe, reliable service over the public Internet. With their scale, these service providers will be able to optimize what I call data plants by virtualizing applications and dynamically allocating compute and storage resources as needed — squeezing every nickel of efficiency out of their equipment in a way that today's CIOs simply can never hope to achieve.

The cost savings and efficiency gains will be significant. Instead of deployment times being measured in months for enterprise applications, it will take only a few days — or even hours — for companies to leverage standard services. In this model, it also reasonable to imagine these applications being as easy to purchase and download as your favorite music files.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

FCO to probe visa security lapse

The security hole was originally reported to both VFS and the British High Commission more than a year ago but no action was taken. The Indian gent who first noticed the problem has a blog here.

Lord Triesman, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, said in a statement yesterday: "The VFS online facility will not be resumed until VFS and UKvisas can be assured that it is absolutely secure."

VFS's online service could apparently be subverted by making changes to its URL - doing so gave a browser access to the firm's database of visa applicants, which stored passport numbers, names, addresses, and travel details.

Mumbai-based VFS - a subsidiary of the Zurich-based Kuoni Travel Group - operates 11 visa application centres in India. According to the FCO, the firm processed 471,746 Indian visa applications last year, but only a "small proportion" were initiated using the online service.

However, VFS also processes online applications for UK visas from Nigeria and Russia. The FCO could not confirm whether the same problem occured in the systems operating in these countries as well, but did say that their sites had been closed down.

As well as VFS, CSC is contracted to handle visa applications. A spokesman for UK Visas said that 87 per cent of applications were handled by these third parties in their countries of operation. 12 per cent of the applications handled by VFS in India, Nigeria and Russia were handled online.

Belgian politico to orally pleasure 40,000

Tania Derveaux represents NEE, an "impartial protest movement running for senate in the Belgian elections of June 10 2007", which "offers voters in Belgium the option to vote 'NEE' if they find that none of the parties deserve their vote".

According to Ms Derveaux, she originally pledged to create 400,000 jobs as a "response to incredible claims that were made by other parties in Belgium". This prompted wags to demand 400,000 blowjobs, which Derveaux has wisely reduced to 40k.

Three Scenarios For How Microsoft's Open Source Threat Could End

As it builds a stable of license partners, Microsoft gains a stake, however small, in the expansion of open source. Through its deal with Novell, Microsoft now gets money from every SUSE Linux license sold. It tries to double, triple, quadruple that.

Microsoft quietly gears up its Open Source Software Lab, headed by Sam Ramji, which ensures that Windows works smoothly with JBoss middleware and other open source code. It accelerates the half steps it had been taking toward open source-like practices in its own development and release cycles. It responds more quickly to user feedback and generates an active, critical, and more open community around its Windows and Office franchises.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Friday, May 18, 2007


flagitious \fluh-JISH-uhs\, adjective:
1. Disgracefully or shamefully criminal; grossly wicked; scandalous; -- said of acts, crimes, etc.
2. Guilty of enormous crimes; corrupt; profligate; -- said of persons.
3. Characterized by enormous crimes or scandalous vices; as, "flagitious times."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mega Multivitamins and Prostate Cancer

Men who take too many multivitamins may be increasing their risk of dying from prostate cancer, according to new research from the National Cancer Institute.

Taking a multivitamin more than seven times a week was associated with a 30% increased risk of advanced prostate cancer and a doubling of the risk of death from the disease in the study.

Regular multivitamin use (one to six times a week) did not appear to increase cancer risk, and excessive vitamin use was not associated with an increased risk of early, or localized, prostate cancer.

But there was also no evidence to suggest that taking multivitamins at any dosage helped prevent prostate cancer.

NCI researcher Michael F. Leitzmann, MD, PhD, tells WebMD that more research is needed to confirm the association and understand how vitamin and other dietary supplements affect cancer risk.

“Based on our findings, we would recommend that men adhere to recommendations for dietary supplements and consult with their physician before taking supplements in excessive doses,” he says.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Scratch - Imagine, Program, Share

Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web.

Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century learning skills. As they create Scratch projects, young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the process of design.

Crackdown on Indian Outsourcing Firms

In outlining the investigation, Durbin and Grassley are making details of the visa program public for the first time, including the number of visas awarded to non-U.S. companies. The nine firms, led by Infosys and Wipro, use 19,512 of the H-1B visas, or 30% of the 65,000 visas allowed each year. This indicates that Indian outsourcing companies participate more actively than previously thought, garnering for themselves visas that could otherwise go to U.S. firms. "This is information that we never had before," says Ron Hira, a public policy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology who has studied the issue closely.

How Verizon Does Green Computing

It takes a lot of power to run a wireless network that serves 60 million customers and handles billions of calls each month. So John Hinshaw, chief information officer for Verizon Wireless, should know all about energy costs. For the past 18 months, Hinshaw has been looking for energy-efficient technology that can help the company lower its power consumption, from the desktops that support its 65,000 employees to the hardware that fills its data and call centers.

His work is starting to pay off: By cutting the number of data centers from 10 to 3, Hinshaw has helped the company save $20 million. In a recent conversation with writer Rachael King, Hinshaw outlines just how the joint venture of Verizon Communications (VZ) and Vodafone (VOD) is saving money.

The data center environment is the most power-hungry by far, and what we've done over the past several years is reduce the number of applications that we run at Verizon Wireless in order to simplify the customer experience—one billing system, one sales system, one customer care system. That requires a lot less hardware to run than if you had multiple systems.

It's allowed us to reduce what we had—10 data centers consuming a ton of power just a few years ago. Now we have three data centers, and that's through rationalizing all these applications. That's probably the biggest area. I think we've avoided roughly $20 million in build-out costs by being more efficient in our data centers.

'It'll be ugly when half the software industry goes away' - pundit

"The software business, I think, is at a crossroads," Lane said. Being even more direct, he added, "Software prices are going to fall rapidly."

Lane sees "a large no man's land" of old line software makers trapped between Microsoft, Oracle and SAP, which consume 75 per cent of the available revenue, and start-ups such as that carry no baggage. Such software makers may seem strong with, say, $300m or so in market capitalization, but they're really just waiting in line at the slaughterhouse. They don't have the might to compete against the big three or the cost structures capable of defeating new players.

Monday, May 14, 2007

TED - Technology, Entertainment, Design - Ideas Worth Spreading

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.

The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

This site makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for free. More than 100 talks from our archive are now available, with more added each week. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted.

Our mission: Spreading ideas.

We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other. Over time, you'll see us add talks and performances from other events, and solicit submissions from you, as well. This site, launched April 2007, is an ever-evolving work in progress, and you're an important part of it. Have an idea? We want to hear from you.

The TED Conference, held annually in Monterey, is still the heart of TED. More than a thousand people now attend — indeed, the event sells out a year in advance — and the content has expanded to include science, business, the arts and all the big global issues facing our world. Over four days, 50 speakers each take an 18-minute slot, and there are many shorter pieces of content, including music, performance and comedy. There are no breakout groups. Everyone shares the same experience. It shouldn't work, but it does. It works because all of knowledge is connected. Every so often it makes sense to emerge from the trenches we dig for a living, and ascend to a 30,000-foot view, where we see, to our astonishment, an intricately interconnected whole.

Hitachi's Universal Storage Platform V is virtually huge

The USPV offers a performance boost over previous Tagmastore systems. In addition, the new hardware ships thin provisioning software - technology yet to be implemented by Hitachi's high-end rivals.

The new hardware can handle 3.5 million input-output operations per second — a 40 per cent boost from its predecessor, launched in 2004. The USPV also offers a 4GB/sec Fibre Channel Switch backplane for connections to disk drives and hosts. The array now supports 16 controller pairs for a total of 224 font-end Fibre Channel ports and 112 FICON or ESCON host ports. The device hold up to 1152 drives.

While internal storage has stayed the same at 332TB, virtualized external storage gets a major boost from its previous incarnation's 32PB to up to 247PB.

"This is a big box for big users," principal IT advisor of Illuminata, John Webster said. "It's clearly not for the faint of heart. You've really got to know what you're doing with a device like this."

Hitachi promises a major improvement in disk utilization with the array's use of thin provisioning. While the technology isn't new, the system is the first high-end device of its kind to use it.

Thin provisioning is a technology debuted by 3PAR where physical disk capacity is used only as needed for virtual volumes. It replaces the traditional method where large portions of storage capacity are allocated to applications but often remain unused.

Linux: 2.6.22-rc1, "You Name It, It's There"

"You want a new firewire stack? We've got it. New wireless networking infrastructure? Check. New infiniband drivers? Digital video drivers? A totally new CPU architecture (blackfin)? Check, check, check.

"That said, I think (and certainly hope) that this will not be nearly as painful as the big fundamental timer changes for 2.6.21, and while there are some pretty core changes there (like the new SLUB allocator, which hopefully will end up replacing both SLAB and SLOB), it feels pretty solid, and not as scary as ripping the carpet from under the timer infrastructure."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pay attention to ways to lighten student loan load

It's no small matter. The median debt load for graduates of a four-year private college is $19,500, according to the College Board, a non-profit association of colleges and education groups. For students at public schools the figure is $15,500.

Then there's credit-card debt: More than half of undergraduates carry a balance, an average of $2,864 by their fourth year, according to the latest data available from Nellie Mae, a student loan originator. Faced with that level of debt, you easily can feel overwhelmed when you're also trying to scrape together a deposit for an apartment or buy a work wardrobe.

Humor helps make simple science fun

Angier does care about educating the public -- she just won the Exploratorium's Public Understanding of Science Award -- and she feels tempted to demonstrate the effects of gravity on Waterford crystal glasses when confronted by science skeptics at weddings. But mostly, she just thinks science is really, really cool. "In place of civic need, why not neural greed?" she writes. "These things are fun, and fun is good."

"The Canon" starts with an introduction to the scientific process and moves at a zippy pace through probability, physics, chemistry, biology, geology and astronomy. As promised, the book covers the basics: We find out how the universe began, the four fundamental forces of nature (not counting Donald Trump's hair, Angier notes), what lies at the core of the Earth, why proteins are more than just hamburgers and how alcohol originated. Along the way, readers will surely have a few "Really?" moments. Yes, some tiny sea creatures really do eject their brains when they've finished the "thinking" phase of their lives. Chemistry Professor Peter Atkins tells Angier, helpfully: "[I]t is a good idea to get rid of your brain when you discover you have no further need of it."

Microfluidic Device for the Capture and Concentration of Bacteria

Effective detection of bacterial pathogens in large sample volumes is a challenging problem. Pre-concentration routines currently in practice before the actual detection process are cumbersome and hard to automate. An effort is made to address the problem of volume discrepancy between day-to-day samples and the concentrated samples needed for analysis. Principles of conceptual design are used in formulating the ‘Need Statement’, ‘Function Structure’ and in identifying the ‘Critical Design Parameters’ and ‘Design Constraints’. Electrokinetic phenomena are used to exploit the surface charges on bacteria. Electrophoresis is used to transport the bacteria to electrode surface and “Electrostatic trapping” is then used to capture these microbes on the electrode surface. The captured microbes can then be concentrated in a concentrator unit.

A prototype microfluidic device is fabricated for showing the proof of concept. Optimization is done to minimize hydraulic power consumption and wetted volume. Observations from the initial prototype device along with the optimization results are used in building a new prototype device. Operation of this device is demonstrated by capture of bacteria from flow. Qualitative studies are conducted and preliminary quantification is also done.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Poverty Business

In recent years, a range of businesses have made financing more readily available to even the riskiest of borrowers. Greater access to credit has put cars, computers, credit cards, and even homes within reach for many more of the working poor. But this remaking of the marketplace for low-income consumers has a dark side: Innovative and zealous firms have lured unsophisticated shoppers by the hundreds of thousands into a thicket of debt from which many never emerge.

Federal Reserve data show that in relative terms, that debt is getting more expensive. In 1989 households earning $30,000 or less a year paid an average annual interest rate on auto loans that was 16.8% higher than what households earning more than $90,000 a year paid. By 2004 the discrepancy had soared to 56.1%. Roughly the same thing happened with mortgage loans: a leap from a 6.4% gap to one of 25.5%. "It's not only that the poor are paying more; the poor are paying a lot more," says Sheila C. Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Some economists applaud how the spread of credit to the tougher parts of town has raised home- and auto-ownership rates. But others warn that in the long run the development could slow upward mobility. Wages for the working poor have been stagnant for three decades. Meanwhile, their spending has consistently and significantly exceeded their income since the mid-1980s. They are making up the difference by borrowing more. From 1989 through 2004, the total amount owed by households earning $30,000 or less a year has grown 247%, to $691 billion, according to the most recent Federal Reserve data available.

"Having access to credit should be helping low-income individuals," says Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University's Stern School of Business. "But instead of becoming an opportunity for upward social and economic mobility, it becomes a debt trap for many trying to move up."

The formula produces profits. Last year, net income on used cars sold by outlets Byrider owns averaged $828 apiece. That compared with only $223 for used cars sold as a sideline by new-car dealers, and a $31 loss for the typical new car, according to the National Automobile Dealers Assn. Nationwide, Byrider dealerships reported sales last year of $700 million, up 7% from 2005.

What If Foreign Money Shunned the U.S.?

The likely result of a Japanese and Chinese retreat from the Treasury market would be skyrocketing interest rates stateside.

Japanese investors actually rushed out of the dollar once before, in late March, 1987, four months before Alan Greenspan was appointed Fed chairman. At that time, the dollar abruptly fell below the psychologically important 150-yen level for the first time. Japanese investors, who had been assured by the Louvre Accord only a month earlier that the dollar would not fall below 150 yen, panicked and pulled out of the U.S. market. As a result, the yield on benchmark 30-year U.S. Treasuries surged 150 basis points in just six weeks.

This spike in U.S. rates coincided with a plunge in the dollar from 150 yen to 137 yen, offering clear evidence that a move by foreign investors to shun the dollar can have a substantial impact on long-term interest rates in the U.S.

Tech As Polluting As Aviation

The global IT industry accounts for two per cent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions - the same amount the world's aviation industry churns out, according to analyst house Gartner.

The estimate is based on the amount of energy PCs, servers, cooling, fixed and mobile phone systems, LANs, office telecommunications and printers all use within the world's offices.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Arvind Kejriwal - Parivartan: Right to Information

We have to simplify this process and in this the Bihar government has taken the lead. The state has set up a right to information telephone line where you don't need to draft your application -- the biggest problem in RTI is to submit your application.

While drafting the application you have to use the right language and your questions have to be very sharp, then you have to find an officer to whom you have to submit the information, which is a Herculean task, you have to make a Rs 10 demand draft, then you don't know in whose name the demand draft has to be made, it is not available on the Web site or in any notification. So filing the RTI information is a big job.

The Bihar government has taken the lead, it has hired a call centre. Any citizen of Bihar, from any part of Bihar can call that number, give his name, address and say I want this information from the Bihar government.

He doesn't need to know the name of the officer, he doesn't need to make a demand draft, his voice gets recorded on the other side and that becomes his application and the ten rupees he is supposed to deposit comes as his phone bill.

The call centre takes a printout of the application and forwards it to the concerned officer and if this person does not get information in 30 days' time, he can again call the call centre and say I am not satisfied with the information I've got or I did not get information in 30 days. Again the recorded voice becomes the appeal.

This is a great experiment that is being done by the Bihar government which needs to be replicated all over the country, especially when you have large sections of the population that is illiterate.

First Decoded Marsupial Genome Reveals "Junk DNA" Surprise

Marsupials are the closest living relatives of placental mammals. The two groups split from a common ancestor about 180 million years ago.

Scientists were able to pinpoint the genetic elements that are present in placental mammals but missing from marsupials to learn more about what makes the two groups different.

The researchers were surprised to find that placental and marsupial mammals have largely the same set of genes for making proteins. Instead, much of the difference lies in the controls that turn genes on and off.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Indian IT companies losing business because of high attrition?

Current average attrition rates (see; are:

US 42%
Australia 29%
Europe 24%
India 18%

Global Average 24%

With attritions rates for BPO industry topping 50% in India and 70% in US. These data are claimed to be from NY Times but I could not verify them, at least the average for India looks suspiciously low.

ALL OF THIS TRANSLATES INTO ONE SIMPLE STATEMENT: THE LOYALTY OF EMPLOYEES IS DEAD (worldwide, by the way.) It's same like the loyalty of consumers died a decade+ ago. Compare with your own everyday experience: you can see a lot of great INTRODUCTION offers from service providers especially telecoms, insurance and financial institutions but there are a few, if any, RETENTION offers.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Miracle Polymer - ETFE

ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) is the building material of the future. This wonder polymer, a transparent plastic related to Teflon, is replacing glass and plastic in some of the most innovative buildings being designed and constructed today. Its selling points? Compared to glass, it’s 1% the weight, transmits more light, is a better insulator, and costs 24% to 70% less to install. It’s also resilient (able to bear 400 times its own weight, with an estimated 50-year life-span), self-cleaning (dirt slides off its nonstick surface), and recyclable.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Who Won WWII?

JP Morgan, Chase and a couple of other US banks won. Britain finished paying off its debt in 2006. USA did not enter the war effort until Britain started to lose/risked being invaded by USSR, which endangered the ROI on loans provided by the American big banks to the UK.

I am originally from The Netherlands. We had both our bicycle brigades destroyed on the first day of the War. Our history books and libraries are full of tales of resistance. In reality a huge majority welcomed the German overlord and were ok with the German invasion until they started to plunder the country for resources and food to fuel a losing war.

Hitler's mistakes lost the tail half of the war as surely as his successes won the first half. A fine line between genius and insanity indeed.

I'm Dutch, and we've all learned the Canadians liberated us, and then went on to impregnate the local girls.

I'm a flag waiving American who served in the armed forces, whose grandfather fought for the valiant Americans in WWII. I was one of the last cold warriors against the Russkies . . . and even I must concede that the achievement of the Soviets against the Germans in WWII cannot be overstated. The losses were great, but Stalin's forces went toe to toe and won, driving the German army all the way back to Berlin the old fashioned way -- inch by inch. A tip of the hat.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Duke Probe Shows Failure of Post-Enron Ethics Classes

The cheating episode at Duke University may cause academics to conclude the post-Enron emphasis on teaching ethics in graduate business schools is a failure.

Thirty-four first-year master's of business administration students at Duke's Fuqua School of Business were disciplined in the program's largest cheating scandal. Nine students face expulsion for collaborating on a take-home test, violating the professor's rules.

Business students are more likely to cut corners than those in any other academic discipline, several studies show. A Rutgers University survey last year found that cheating at business schools is common, even after ethics courses were added following scandals that bankrupted Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc.

``What is taught in a business program sometimes reinforces'' students' tendencies to be entrepreneurial and results-oriented, said Timothy Dodd, 50, executive director of the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke, in an interview from Durham, North Carolina. ``Those sometimes aren't the people who understand that moral means have to be used to achieve moral ends.''

A study released by the center in September and conducted by Rutgers professor Donald McCabe in New Brunswick, New Jersey, showed that students pursuing MBA degrees cheat more than other U.S. graduate students. McCabe found that 56 percent of those in business schools acknowledge violating the rules, compared with 54 percent in engineering, 48 percent in education and 45 percent in law.

Honeybees add about US$15 billion a year

Honeybees don't just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have.

Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.

In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 per cent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Even cattle, which feed on alfalfa, depend on bees. So if the collapse worsens, we could end up being “stuck with grains and water,” said Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for USDA's bee and pollination program.