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May 28, 2005

Quantum Security

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Last week René Millman wrote an interesting piece for SC Magazine about a breakthrough in quantum cryptography at Toshiba's U.K. research center in Cambridge.

Experts believe such encryption is the only infallible way to send information securely over electronic networks.

Long story short: any attempt to intercept a message thus encoded results in the destruction of the message.

The old "Mission Impossible" trick — "this message will self–destruct in sixty seconds" — gets updated.

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Here's the story.

    'Unhackable' Network Draws Nearer

    Scientists have moved one step closer to the "unhackable" network by developing a device that can send single photons in a regular stream over a fiber optic link.

    Quantum key exchange takes advantage of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which states that it is impossible to measure a quantum particle without changing its state.

    Any attempt to intercept a message such as an encryption key will result in a detectable change, allowing the sender and receiver to verify the secrecy of the exchange.

    But even this may not be completely secure, because of possible flaws in the transmission.

    "Attenuated lasers sometimes produce more than one photon at a time and the problem there is someone can split off one of those photons without disturbing the other," said Dr Andrew Shields, head of the Quantum Information Group of Toshiba Research Europe.

    A new technique, pioneered by researchers at Toshiba Research Europe in Cambridge, England, is based on a tiny device called a "quantum dot", a very small semi-conductor made of indium arsenide.

    It measures just 45 nanometers in radius and 10nm in height.

    Shields said this was a much better method of transmission as there was a far less chance of a quantum dot emitting two photons at the same time than other methods: ten orders of magnitude less than a laser.

    "The new device is very important as it will stop this kind of attack," he said.

    Experts in encryption welcomed the developments and said it could make a real difference to the security industry.

    "I have been watching numerous developments like this going on around the world," said Peter Jaco, CEO of data encryption company Becrypt.

    "It is compelling if the technology can be delivered in a commercial fashion. If it starts to take off, it could change the whole market."

    Scientists are hoping to develop the product commercially within the next year.

    As reported in SC Magazine in late March, the UK is leading the way in this new form of cryptography.

May 28, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fuji MP–70 Portable Printer: Print a picture from your cellphone — wirelessly

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This cool device was announced earlier this spring and featured on all the usual tech websites.

But unlike many such announcements this one wasn't about vaporware — I don't think.

The current issue of Wired magazine features it in its Play: Fetish section and says it's out and costs $99.

When I went to the website Wired mentioned — www.fujifilm.com — I learned everything about the printer except where I can buy one.

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Looking around online at this past spring's stories I learned the printer weighs 7 oz. (without batteries), measures 5.1" x 3.9" x 1.1", runs on two CR2 lithium batteries (disposable), produces 130 pictures from a set of new batteries, prints with 256 dpi resolution and works with images in JPEG format of up to three megapixels.

No worries about exceeding that last limit if you live in the U.S.: we'll have 3 megapixel camphones here about the time of the first manned Mars landing. But I digress.

The pictures are 2" x 3" (about the size of Polaroids) and emerge in 20 seconds.

You send the image to be printed via infra–red from your phone — any make or model with infra–red capability — to the printer.

So will someone please tell me where I can buy one?

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I checked Amazon, J&R, all the usual places but came up empty.

May 28, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Digital Women — 'Women with their modems running'

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I came upon this interesting website by and for a woman "who has a connection to the internet and is tired of working for the corporate big guys or sitting at home with no money."

Excellent premise.

There's a ton of information on this site.

Worth a look if you've decided that whatever is happening just isn't working.

May 28, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dome Mirrors

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You see them in buildings and stores.

I've wanted one for my basement for years now to let me see if I've turned off the lights in the workshop area.

I can't see into that part of my basement from the stairwell so I have to go nearly all the way down to look back into the shop to make sure.

Annoying.

I tried to buy one of those mirrors (above and below) at Lowe's but they said they don't sell them.

Then I looked around online but couldn't find them.

The name — I didn't know the right name for this kind of mirror.

I used "security mirror" and "curved mirror" to search but came up with nothing.

Until today.

I was in Lowe's getting a windowshade cut (did you know Lowe's uses Levolor as their stock brand? I was impressed because I thought for sure they'd use some generic. But I digress).

I wandered over to the paint section and asked the guy there about curved mirrors.

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He said he'd seen some in the window of some store on Main Street downtown, right across from a big bronze statue of Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea.

It's a store that rents and sells all manner of construction equipment.

I've seen the store myself but never noticed anything other than the bright orange construction cones in the window display.

I think there are also some big drills.

Anyway, I made a note to stop by that store next week after the Memorial Day Holiday.

But then I thought I'd give the internet another shot — or, rather, that I'd assign my crack research team to this futile–to–date task.

And darned if they didn't come back with a website that sells all manner of these mirrors.

They're called convex mirrors, the term the guy at Lowe's used and one I hadn't used before to search.

Bingo.

Nice prices, no sales tax, free shipping.

I ordered an 18" acrylic quarter dome mirror with foam backing just like the one below for $31.83.

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Sweet.

These mirrors are also very useful for safety purposes, near driveways and the like.

Get one and save a life.

May 28, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The sands of time swallow Crescent Lake in Western China

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Crescent Lake (above), once a fabled stop along the Silk Road in the Gobi Desert of Western China, will soon be nothing more than a memory.

The desert oasis near Dunhuang, home to one of the world's greatest shrines to Buddhism and once China's gateway to the West, is on the verge of disappearing from the map.

Development in the area and the damming of the Dang River, which once flowed past Dunhuang, have combined to lower the underground water table in the area by as much as 35 feet and have dropped the level of Crescent Lake more than 25 feet since 1975.

The area is also home to the Mogao Caves, painted with murals dating to the fourth century by monks who helped bring Buddhism from India.

Both the caves and the lake have been designated World Heritage Sites by the United Nations.

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Jim Yardley wrote about this fabled place in yesterday's New York Times.

May 28, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Boyfriend's Arm Pillow

Miya

From the website:

"The Boyfriend's Arm Pillow consists of a headless torso and a stuffed arm that curls around the sleeper."

"The pillow could be an emotional comfort."

"It also helps to keep your body balanced."

Specify pink

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or blue.

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¥8,000 ($74) here.

May 28, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Guns don't kill people — knives kill people

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One third of all murder victims in Great Britain are stabbed to death.

That's the impetus behind a new campaign to eliminate pointed knives from the U.K.

An editorial in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal urges that knives be redesigned with rounded, blunt tips to stem the tide of stabbings.

John Schwartz wrote an incisive article for yesterday's New York Times about the growing controversy: it follows.

    British Medical Experts Campaign for Long, Pointy Knife Control

    Warning: Long, pointy knives may be hazardous to your health.

    The authors of an editorial in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal have called for knife reform.

    The editorial, "Reducing knife crime: We need to ban the sale of long, pointed kitchen knives," notes that the knives are being used to stab people as well as roasts and the odd tin of Spam.

    The authors of the essay - Drs. Emma Hern, Will Glazebrook and Mike Beckett of the West Middlesex University Hospital in London - called for laws requiring knife manufacturers to redesign their wares with rounded, blunt tips.

    The researchers noted that the rate of violent crime in Britain rose nearly 18 percent from 2003 to 2004, and that in the first two weeks of 2005, 15 killings and 16 nonfatal attacks involved stabbings.

    In an unusual move for a scholarly work, the researchers cited a January headline from The Daily Express, a London tabloid: "Britain is in the grip of knives terror - third of murder victims are now stabbed to death."

    Dr. Hern said that "we came up with the idea and tossed it into the pot" to get people talking about crime reduction.

    "Whether it's a sensible solution to this problem or not, I'm not sure."

    In the United States, where people are more likely to debate gun control than knife control, partisans on both sides sounded amused.

    Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, asked, "Are they going to have everybody using plastic knives and forks and spoons in their own homes, like they do in airlines?"

    Peter Hamm, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which supports gun control, joked, "Can sharp stick control be far behind?"

    He said people in his movement were "envious" of England for having such problems.

    "In America, we can't even come to an agreement that guns are dangerous and we should make them safer," he said.

    The authors of the editorial argued that the pointed tip is a vestigial feature from less mannered ages, when people used it to spear meat.

    They said that they interviewed 10 chefs in England, and that "none gave a reason why the long, pointed knife was essential," though short, pointed knives were useful.

    An American chef, however, disagreed with the proposal.

    "This is yet another sign of the coming apocalypse," said Anthony Bourdain, the executive chef at Les Halles and the author of "Kitchen Confidential."

    A knife, he said, is a beloved tool of the trade, and not a thing to be shaped by bureaucrats.

    A chef's relationship with his knives develops over decades of training and work, he said, adding, "Its weight, its shape - these are all extensions of our arms, and in many ways, our personalities."

    He compared the editorial to efforts to ban unpasteurized cheese.

    "Where there is no risk," he said, "there is no pleasure."

May 28, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sputnik — 'Swiss Army Screwdriver'

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From the website:

    Keep Sputnik in your kitchen drawer or vehicle.

    It's like keeping a tool box in the space of a small flashlight.

    Six different screwdrivers (3 Phillips and 3 slot head) snap into position, then fold flat when not in use.

    A seventh driver comes with interchangeable jewelers tips — both Phillips and slot head — for fixing glasses.

    Built–in LED work light brilliantly illuminates the task at hand.

5" long when folded.

Light requires 2 AAA batteries.

Built–in fail–safe function: screwdrivers continue to function uninterruptedly should your batteries die.

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$19.95 here.

May 28, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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