Daily Archives: March 24, 2008

Iceland leads the way in democracy

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HOW RE-ASSURING is this? This picture above shows where the first democratic parliament – the Althingi to all men and their dogs,  was set up, in Iceland, slap bang between the tectonic plates of Europe and America -  separating by about a metre (whatever that is), a year.  

They must have talked a heap of hot air to keep warm in this frozen, treeless climate, there’s no doubt about that! No wonder the average temperature in London, home to the “Mother of All Parliaments”, is higher than the average temperature anywhere else in Blightyland. Much hot air is exhaled.

The lone figure in the Icelandic picture above is probably, or possibly,  a representative of Alcoa, the aluminium firm.  Heck, we all need aluminium ladders, init?

We only mention this because Bhutan, a kingly state, decided to become a democracy yesterday, despite the wishes of its subjects.  Whatever happened to Sikkim? Or Pondicherry, for that matter, which oddly describes itself as the IT hardware capital of India? We were there last year. If Pondicherry means “no scalpel” vasectomy  is hardware – see pic below –  then we’re with it 1112.23% ♥

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Fake gelatine fingerprints might defy BAA

IN ONE OF THOSE STRANGE coincidences that makes our little universe that more interesting, nikkei.net has an interesting article about fingerprinting frauds today, that might well bamboozle Spanish firm BAA, which wants to fingerprint us all so it can extend its shopping franchise.

Nikkei.net, for it is they, ran a story about how NT&T can detect “fake fingerprints”. You wouldn’t Adam and Eve it, but fingerprints can be reproduced on gelatine and presented to computers and authorities as verification of a person’s identity. This has been a problem for some years. Japanese boffs have developed systems that recognise “veins” that contain real blood, as well as the familiar whorls and coils on fingers and presumably fake fingers too.

The major problem, according to Nikkei, is “distinguishing a real finger from a fake one made of silicon or gelatin.”

Boffins at NT&T have come up with a fingerprint recognition device that detects if there is an electrical current behind the “fake fingers”. It’s just occurred to us. Maybe BAA could authorise a fingerprint scanner at Terminal Five which not only reads fingers, but analyses the sweat on fingers and creates a “temporary DNA record” which can then be transferred to a Harrods Loyalty Card.

Nikkei is here, but you gotta pay to read it. ♥

BAA wants to fingerprint everybody

AS IF HEATHROW AIRPORT ISN’T HORRID enough already, when Terminal Five opens this later this week the British Airports Authority (BAA) as was – now it’s owned by a Spanish company, wants to take our fingerprints if we tip up in its cavernous hall.

The problem is that domestic and international travellers will mingle with each other in the shopping areas of Term Five – and BAA claims it wants to prevent the possibility of an international passenger meeting a domestic passenger when they meet in Harrods or another grocer emporium in the airport and swap boarding cards.

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Yeah, well this has caused quite a bit of a stink here in Compliant Blighty. The Information Commissioner has said BAA has got no right to go fingerprinting anyone it wants to, while BAA has said it consulted with the Immigration Department and this is what it recommended.

BAA reckons that it will get rid of the fingerprints within 24 hours and they’ll be encrypted, but it misses the fundamental point that it’s a commercial outfit, and no one has granted it any rights to take dabs apart from itself. The Information Commissioner reckons that any passengers facing finger printing should just say no to the insecurity guys. Yeah right. Why are domestic passengers mingling with international passengers? Yeah – it’s so they can take advantage of the fantastic “shops” it appears and also pop into a pub for a pint of traditional British ale at more than it costs even in the heart of throbbing Soho.

The InfoComm office has got legal powers which it can exercise to sanction BAA for the creeping “surveillance society’ it’s always rabbiting on about.  But if you’re a passenger in Term Five this time next week and the “insecurity officers” stop you boarding a fright because you won’t give your dabs over to a fly-by-night corporation like BAA, will that help you a jot? You could try calling the Information Commissioner on his phone – between 9AM to 5PM Monday to Friday - here, or drop him a postcard, and see if he’ll come down and help you out in office hours.

What’s next, DNA on your blinking Tesco loyalty card?  ♥

* BOGGARD More at the Thunderer, here.

AMD layoff saga continues, overegged

I SEE Fudo at Fudzilla  is egging up the AMD story the INQster ran the other week about massive layoffs at the chip firm. While Charlie reckoned five per cent of the staff were about to go, Fudo reckons 10 per cent are for the chip-chop.

A five per cent layoff was described by the INQ as “massive”, so a 10 per cent layoff would then be “ginormous”.  We’ve never really had an adequate definition from Hector Ruiz, AMD’s CEO, what “asset lite” means, have we?

Generally speaking, when times are tough, the marketing people are first to be “pruned”. The sales people are last to go.  AMD’s hired a new marketing geezer to replace Henri “I got flamboyant ties” Richard, and it’s certainly fair to say that over the last 18 months or so, Chimpzilla hasn’t shown much flamboyance at all.

In the olde daze, a rash of logos was enough to stir up the world and its little doggie, but these days something more is required from AMD, we think. AMD has lashed out at some hacks, which was never what it did in the past, in the days when we used to paint hard boiled eggs and roll them down some distant hill every Easter Monday.

Fudzilla can be found to the right of this story, as too is the INQster.  ♦

TSMC claims 40 nanometre breakthrough

TAIWANESE FOUNDRY TSMC said it’s tweaked its 45 nanometre process technology to 40 nanometres. It has shown off general purpose and a power efficient versions of the technology.

The firm said the 40 nanometre process will produce the smallest SRAM cell size in the industry, with the chips incorporating active power down scaling of a claimed 15 per cent over its current 45 nanometre tech.

The low power version will be used in what TSMC terms “leakage sensitive” apps including wireless and portable devices, while the 40G version will be used for CPUs, graphics processors, and games consoltes. The chips will be fabbed up at TSMC’s 12-inch factories.

Restless leg syndrome used in memory chips

BOFFS AT Matsushita have claimed a breakthrough by designing high performing memory chips that will use the protein that eases the irriting condition called “restless legs”.

According to nikkei.net, the Japanese firm has cooperated with a number of universities to devise a system based on the protein ferritin. That’s mixed with liquid containing types of metal and then placed on a silicon substrate, with the resulting good being baked to high temperatures. That destroys the protein and leaves lines on the substrate.

In five years time, said the wire, the technology will be available on the market, eventually leading to memory chips that could hold as much as one terabyte of data. A shortage of ferritin in the human body apparently aggravates the condition known to gazillions as “restless legs”

Roll Call
nikkei.net sub required

Tony Blair frolicked with Richard Branson in tropical paradise

THANKS GOD for the International Herald Tribune (IHT) which picked up on the fact that Tony Blair, who used to be an MP for working class area Sedgefield, had a great time a-frolicking on Richard Branson’s paradise island with a number of other luminaries just a few days ago. They are all saving the world.

There’s a great quote from Richard “Virgin” Atlantic to the effect that the gals on Mosquito Island would normally be naked but wore bikinis because Tony Blair is reticent about such things and he has been the prime minister a couple of times.

Blair, the IHT rightly notes, is now a geezer working for JP Morgan Chase, which of course swallowed Bear Stearns just a little while back. Apparently, Jimmy “Whackypedia” Wales was also there at the shindig, as well as Google’s Larry Page, while Volester Paul Allen watched the proceedings from an enormous dinghy [shorely a shpaceship? Ted.], but didn’t set foot on the paradise isle.

It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to do it, notes the IHT, here.