Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Remember folks - the duck of love is in your eyes

Click the duck to see the full-size image.

Shimon Peres President of Israel addresses German Parilament in Reichstag in Berlin as the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day | guardian.co.uk

The significance of the occasion could not have been overstated – and it was not lost on the 622 politicians gathered in the Reichstag, a symbol of postwar transparency and democracy.

Today, Shimon Peres became the first Israeli president to choose Holocaust Remembrance Day to address the nation responsible for the murder of six million Jews on what was described as a "groundbreaking occasion" in both Jerusalem and Berlin.

Traditionally, German leaders have travelled to Israel on this day, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Red Army soldiers, and given speeches in the Knesset which have often been boycotted by Israeli politicians.

This time, it was Peres's chance to use the occasion to address Germany, which is seeking a more intense relationship with Israel at a time when other countries are becoming more distant towards it.

German commentators said it was significant that the country's chancellor, Angela Merkel, and her colleagues had greeted Peres with kisses and hugs at a time when Israeli leaders are getting increasingly chilly receptions elsewhere.

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Apple - Downloads - Dashboard Widgets - iPad {What are they going to do about it's name?}

Bing-iPad-Were You Looking for iPod?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

BSkyB wins long-running court battle over failed IT upgrade project - Times Online

Hewlett-Packard is now liable for at least £200 million in damages, lawyers said. It plans to appeal against the court ruling

MY COMMENT: The article says that Hewlett-Packard bought Electronic Data Systems in 2008, four years after BSkyB sued EDS. So is HP liable for the liability? Didn't it insulate itself against this kind of eventuality?

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Pagination Gallery: Examples And Good Practices - Smashing Magazine Nov 16,2007

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Richard Stallman on The Setup

What hardware are you using?

I am using a Lemote Yeelong, a netbook with a Loongson chip and a 9-inch display. This is my only computer, and I use it all the time. I chose it because I can run it with 100% free software even at the BIOS level.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, study finds | Guardian.co.uk

Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, study finds

• Greater rates of cancer and birth defects near sites
• Depleted uranium among poisons revealed in report

full article here -- guardian.co.uk

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BBC News - Bee decline linked to falling biodiversity - {What a surprise...} #bee

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Beehive before and after CCD
Before and after: entire colonies of bees have collapsed in the US

The decline of honeybees seen in many countries may be caused by reduced plant diversity, research suggests.

Bees fed pollen from a range of plants showed signs of having a healthier immune system than those eating pollen from a single type, scientists found.

Writing in the journal Biology Letters, the French team says that bees need a fully functional immune system in order to sterilise food for the colony.

Other research has shown that bees and wild flowers are declining in step.

Two years ago, scientists in the UK and The Netherlands reported that the diversity of bees and other insects was falling alongside the diversity of plants they fed on and pollinated.

Now, Cedric Alaux and colleagues from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in Avignon have traced a possible link between the diversity of bee diets and the strength of their immune systems.

"We found that bees fed with a mix of five different pollens had higher levels of glucose oxidase compared to bees fed with pollen from one single type of flower, even if that single flower had a higher protein content," he told BBC News.

You've now got large areas of monoculture; and that's been a fairly major change in what pollinating insects can forage for
David Aston
British Beekeepers' Association


Bees make glucose oxidase (GOX) to preserve honey and food for larvae against infestation by microbes - which protects the hive against disease.

"So that would mean they have better antiseptic protection compared to other bees, and so would be more resistant to pathogen invasion," said Dr Alaux.

Bees fed the five-pollen diet also produced more fat than those eating only a single variety - again possibly indicating a more robust immune system, as the insects make anti-microbial chemicals in their fat bodies.

Other new research, from the University of Reading, suggests that bee numbers are falling twice as fast in the UK as in the rest of Europe.

Forage fall

With the commercial value of bees' pollination estimated at £200m per year in the UK and $14bn in the US, governments have recently started investing resources in finding out what is behind the decline.

In various countries it has been blamed on diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), infestation with varroa mite, pesticide use, loss of genetic diversity among commercial bee populations, and the changing climate.

Varroa mite
Varroa mite infestation could be made worse by lower bee immunity

The most spectacular losses have been seen in the US where entire colonies have been wiped out, leading to the term colony collapse disorder.

However, the exact cause has remained elusive.

A possible conclusion of the new research is that the insects need to eat a variety of proteins in order to synthesise their various chemical defences; without their varied diet, they are more open to disease.

David Aston, who chairs the British Beekeepers' Association technical committee, described the finding as "very interesting" - particularly as the diversity of food available to UK bees has declined.

"If you think about the amount of habitat destruction, the loss of biodiversity, that sort of thing, and the expansion of crops like oilseed rape, you've now got large areas of monoculture; and that's been a fairly major change in what pollinating insects can forage for."

As a consequence, he said, bees often do better in urban areas than in the countryside, because city parks and gardens contain a higher diversity of plant life.

Diverse message

While cautioning that laboratory research alone cannot prove the case, Dr Alaux said the finding tied in well with what is happening in the US.

There, collapse has been seen in hives that are transported around the country to pollinate commercially important crops.

BBC Green Room logo

"They move them for example to [a plantation of] almond trees, and there's just one pollen," he said.

"So it might be possible that the immune system is weakened... compared to wild bees that are much more diverse in what they eat."

In the US, the problem may have been compounded by loss of genetic diversity among the bees themselves.

In the UK, where farmers are already rewarded financially for implementing wildlife-friendly measures, Dr Aston thinks there is some scope for turning the trend and giving some diversity back to the foraging bees.

"I'd like to see much greater awareness among land managers such as farmers about managing hedgerows in a more sympathetic way - hedgerows are a resource that's much neglected," he said.

"That makes landscapes much more attractive as well, so it's a win-win situation."

The French government has just announced a project to sow nectar-bearing flowers by roadsides in an attempt to stem honeybee decline.

Richard.Black-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk

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Google makes favicons into pngs

One of the commenters at Snipe.Net mentioned that Google has a nice little facility to extract a 16x16 png from the favicon for any website that has a favicon.

You just go to this google address below and input the domain for which you want the png.

So I thought I would pass it around

You will find it here at this address, and just replace 'example.com' with the URL of your choice. google makes favicons into pngs

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bee numbers in England fell by more than half over the last 20 years - Telegraph #bee

The University of Reading research found there was a 54 per cent decline in managed honey bee populations in England between 1985 and 2005 compared to an average of 20 per cent across Europe.

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Eric Washburn - Definitely a step up from the usual 'Site Under Construction' page...

A plug for TwitterSheep (even with its slightly 'damned with faint praise' name...

Creatively Inspired | Brazen Careerist

Don't be depressed about the possibility of change - grassroots ideas have their day, things do move, the tipping point tips, the world does change, crooked politicians and self-interested big business can be dragged kicking and screaming into a more socially conscious mind set. The light bulb can switch on.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Glaxo offers free access to potential malaria cures | The Guardian

GSK will publish details of 13,500 chemical compounds from its own library that have potential to act against the parasite that causes malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, killing at least one million children every year.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rotor -- from Wolfram MathWorld

Aweber and Google on their attacks:

Aweber, a leading Mail service provider was attacked in an attempt to mine their customers' email addresses, as they detail here in the December 21 post in their blog:


http://www.aweber.com/blog/uncategorized/data-compromise.htm


And of course, Google was attacked in China, as the company discusses here in the Googleblog:

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/new-approach-to-china.html

and as covered in this article in the Guardian that concentrates on Google's intention to end its cooperation with the Chinese authorities in censoring Google search engine results.

A slightly different discussion on Google and its continued role in China (if any) is in this article in the New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/13/world/asia/13beijing.html


Great start to 2010

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Monday, January 11, 2010

More Ship Camouflage

First World War Battleship Camoflage

So how long might the Flash drive in a MacBook Air last? - Guardian.co.uk

So Apple is now offering a 64GB Flash-based drive (aka SSD, or solid state drive) as an option on the MacBook Air.

But here's the thing: it's known (because people murmur it) that Flash has a limited life, because the number of times you can write to a block of storage is limited. At some point, the capacitance breaks down and it won't hold the charge any more. Bzzt, that bit of memory is gone.

- YOU CAN FIND THE REST OF THE ARTICLE AT THE GUARDIAN ADDRESS BELOW -

And since you were wondering, the time before your 64GB SSD is hosed in the above implementation is 51 years.

If your SSD-equipped MacBook Air is still in use 12 or especially 51 years from now, then you might need to be able to replace the drive. But by then it'll probably be wired into our brains...

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The not so clear world of international jurisdiction | Guardian Newspaper | Hickman and Rose

The government is determined to protect high-ranking Israeli officials from arrest in the UK, the attorney general said, as it emerged that a further visit by the Israeli military had been cancelled.

Speaking at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem today, Baroness Scotland said Israeli leaders should not face arrest for war crimes under the law of "universal jurisdiction", following attempts by British lawyers last month to obtain a warrant for the former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni.

"The government is looking urgently at ways in which the UK system might be changed to avoid this situation arising again," Scotland said. "Israel's leaders should always be able to travel freely to the UK."

Scotland's assurance comes as the Guardian learned that the Israeli military had cancelled a visit by a team of its officers to Britain after fears they risked arrest on possible war crimes charges.

A group of officers, reportedly from the rank of major up to colonel, were invited by the British army for a meeting on military co-operation but cancelled last week. There were also reports today that Israeli officials feared possible arrest warrants and contacted British authorities to demand a guarantee that the officers would not be arrested.

Last week, British officials reportedly said they could offer no such guarantee and the Israeli military promptly cancelled the visit. The Israeli military, also referred to as the Israel Defence Force, declined to comment. News of the latest cancellation by high-profile Israeli politicians or army officers is likely to intensify debate around the ability of UK-based lawyers to obtain arrest warrants.

In October, Moshe Ya'alon, a former general and current cabinet minister, turned down an invitation to visit London for fear of arrest over an Israeli air strike in Gaza dating back to 2002. Two weeks earlier, lawyers also tried to secure an arrest warrant against Ehud Barak, Israel's defence minister, while he was visiting Britain. They did not succeed since as a serving minister Barak still has diplomatic immunity.

Israeli leaders have grown increasingly frustrated about the threat of legal action against individuals and said they would be pressing Scotland to change UK law in meetings today in Jerusalem.

"The risk to senior Israeli figures does concrete and immediate damage to bilateral relations", said the deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, today.

"Organisations that are hostile to Israel try to exploit the legal channels and legal tools to threaten the Israeli and British decision-makers, including the authorities of the attorney general herself, and to thereby create political facts that should be determined around the diplomatic negotiating table."The UK is one of a number of countries where private prosecutions can be brought for alleged war crimes committed abroad. Following the attempt to obtain an arrest warrant for Livni from a London magistrates' court last month, the Guardian reported Foreign Office plans to change the legal process so that the attorney general would first approve warrants before suspected war criminals could be arrested. The "safeguards" were to apply to all visiting foreign leaders, not just Israelis, but provoked outrage from lawyers.

"If there is evidence against Israeli leaders and a judge thinks that there is a case to answer, then why does the process need to be changed?", said Daniel Machover, a partner at Hickman & Rose, whose firm obtained an arrest warrant in 2005 for the Israeli general, Doron Almog.

"In my view, it is not constitutionally proper to give the attorney general involvment at the arrest stage. We would not have a politician standing next to a policeman who decides whether or not to arrest someone, why should we have a politician standing next to a judge?"

Daniel Machover is not a disinterested party. According to his firm's website at http://www.hickmanandrose.co.uk/Who-We-Are/daniel-machover.html "Daniel co-founded Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights in 1988" The paragraph in full reads: "Daniel’s work in pursuing individuals accused of committing war crimes, torture and crimes against humanity across the world has placed him at the forefront of the movement for universal criminal jurisdiction over the most serious human rights violations. Daniel co-founded Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights in 1988 and actively pursues potential legal remedies in the UK and EU for Palestinian victims of alleged Israeli human rights abuses. In light of his expertise, he has been invited to address members of the International Bar Association and members of the European and UK Parliaments in London and Brussels on the theme of universal jurisdiction."

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Speculation over change in role for Chinese climate negotiator at Copenhagen Conference

A senior member of the Chinese negotiating team at Copenhagen has been shifted from his post, prompting speculation that he has been punished for the debacle of the climate talks.

He Yafei, who was at the forefront of China's blocking actions on the final fraught day of the summit, has been removed as vice foreign minister, according to a short summary of government appointments by the Xinhua news agency.

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MarsEdit 4

I've been using MarsEdit for just over seven years. I started with version 2, and then upgraded to version 3 in 2010. Now, in 2018, I...