Category Archives: Technology

BitTorrent Based DNS To Counter US Domain Seizures

Torrent Freak

The domain seizures by the United States authorities in recent days and upcoming legislation that could make similar takeovers even easier in the future, have inspired a group of enthusiasts to come up with a new, decentralized and BitTorrent-powered DNS system. This system will exchange DNS information through peer-to-peer transfers and will work with a new .p2p domain extension.

In a direct response to the domain seizures by US authorities during the last few days, a group of established enthusiasts have started working on a DNS system that can’t be touched by any governmental institution.

Ironically, considering the seizure of the Torrent-Finder meta-search engine domain, the new DNS system will be partly powered by BitTorrent.

In recent months, global anti-piracy efforts have increasingly focused on seizing domains of allegedly infringing sites. In the United States the proposed COICA bill is explicitly aimed at increasing the government’s censorship powers, but seizing a domain name is already quite easy, as illustrated by ICE and Department of Justice actions last weekend and earlier this year.

For governments it is apparently quite easy to take over the DNS entries of domains, not least because several top level domains are managed by US-based corporations such as VeriSign, who work closely together with the US Department of Commerce. According to some, this setup is a threat to the open internet.

To limit the power governments have over domain names, a group of enthusiasts has started working on a revolutionary system that can not be influenced by a government institution, or taken down by pulling the plug on a central server. Instead, it is distributed by the people, with help from a BitTorrent-based application that people install on their computer.

Read more>>>

Related story:
Feds Seize Websites Suspected of Online Piracy
BEWARE THE ‘INTERNET BLACKLIST’ BILL

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Feds Seize Websites Suspected of Online Piracy

"More Internet regulation will result in the free and booming frontier of cyberspace, now functioning as the gold rush for enterprise, ceasing to exist. "

Fox News

The U.S. government is shutting down websites suspected of copyrighted infringement or selling counterfeit goods as Congress debates a bill that would give feds more authority to do so.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency within the Homeland Security Department, has seized more than 70 websites in recent days, according to the Wall Street Journal, and posted a notice saying that the domain name has been seized by ICE through court-ordered warrants. The notice also states penalties for willful copyright infringement and trafficking in counterfeit goods.

Neither ICE nor Homeland Security responded to messages seeking comment. An ICE spokeswoman confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the agency executed court-ordered seizure warrants against a number of domain names but declined additional comment.

“As this is an ongoing investigation, there are no additional details available at this time,” she told the newspaper.

Online publications, including TorrentFreak, first reported the seizures which began on Thursday when ICE agents raided facilities operated by a hip hop file-sharing site called RapGodFathers. Other seized sites that share music or sell goods include torrent-finder.com, timberlandlike.com, dvdsetsonline.com and handbagspop.com.

Some of the siteowners have reportedly complained that their domain names were seized without any notice or warning.

The seizures come as Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., vows to block an online copyright enforcement bill that was unanimously approved last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Read more>>>

Related story:
Age of Censorship and Internet Trade Wars
FBI Wiretapping of Internet Users. “All Your Data Belongs to Us”
The Cybersecurity Directive Goes Viral

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U.S. power plants at risk of attack by computer worm like Stuxnet

Ellen Nakashima

Washington Post

A sophisticated worm designed to infiltrate industrial control systems could be used as a blueprint to sabotage machines that are critical to U.S. power plants, electrical grids and other infrastructure, experts are warning.

The discovery of Stuxnet, which some analysts have called the “malware of the century” because of its ability to damage or possibly destroy sensitive control systems, has served as a wake-up call to industry officials. Even though the worm has not yet been found in control systems in the United States, it could be only a matter of time before similar threats show up here.

“Quite honestly you’ve got a blueprint now,” said Michael J. Assante, former chief security officer at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, an industry body that sets standards to ensure the electricity supply. “A copycat may decide to emulate it, maybe to cause a pressure valve to open or close at the wrong time. You could cause damage, and the damage could be catastrophic.”

Joe Weiss, an industrial control system security specialist and managing partner at Applied Control Solutions in Cupertino, Calif., said “the really scary part” about Stuxnet is its ability to determine what “physical process it wants to blow up.” Said Weiss: “What this is, is essentially a cyber weapon.”

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Iran unveils first hybrid vehicle

PRESS TV

Iran’s Khodro Company (IKCO) has unveiled its first hybrid vehicle, in a move aimed at reducing dependency on fossil fuels.

“In line with the nation’s Automotive Policy Council Bill, IKCO has decided to develop hybrid technology,” a press release quoted the company’s deputy CEO Mir Javad Soleimani as saying on Wednesday.

IKCO’s hybrid Samand LX will hit the market in March 2011.

Read more>>>

Related Story:
Turkey interested in Iran auto industry

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Age of Censorship and Internet Trade Wars

Francis Anthony Govia

Activist Post

New U.S. legislation will impact every user of the Internet. The “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” would empower the U.S. Department of Justice to shut down, or block access to, websites found to be dedicated to infringing activities.

The bill also contains provisions to block sites with domain names and Top-Level Domains (TLDs) that are maintained by overseas companies, which exist outside the U.S. legal jurisdiction and enforcement mechanism. The Justice Department would obtain court orders directing United States-based Internet Service Providers to stop resolving the IP addresses that allow customers in the United States to access the infringing websites. As a result, the sites will be inaccessible to U.S.-based Web users who do not use some sort of proxy service. The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary last Monday; it is sponsored by Senators Hatch, Leahy, Klobuchar, Whitehouse, Schumer, Kohl, Specter, Durbin, Bayh, Voinovich, and Feinstein.

The legislation is expected to have strong support in Hollywood, labor unions and manufacturers, but in some circles — namely grassroots political organizations, alternative press, and Internet start-ups — the response has been lukewarm, and even questioning. They are concerned that the “other purposes” of the legislation include censorship and, if made law, will employ the Justice Department to police the Internet, eventually resulting in the disruption of the free flow of information and trade globally.

To some extent, their concerns are formed by experience. There have been examples of business censorship, and government legislation to curtail what is viewed on the Internet. Infowars reported recently that “London’s St. Pancras International, one of the biggest transport hubs in the West,” implemented “stringent filters that block users of their Wi-Fi service from accessing even mildly political websites.” Sites like prisonplanet.com and thinkprogress.org were not available to customers in some areas. There are plans in Australia to promulgate legislation to institute a “mandatory, countrywide filtering system,” which supporters say is “designed to keep out child abuse content, but which blocks a much wider variety of content and topics.” And recently when media reported about an Iranian website with cartoons denying the Holocaust, some viewers in the U.S. discovered that access to the site was blocked.

Granted, there is recognition in Washington that the Internet is the new frontier for global enterprise, but some perceive that Washington still views the world through the lens of a bygone era. A critic of the bill told me that many nations, including the United States, legislate for businesses founded in a brick-and-mortar world; and attempts to regulate the Internet would be like turning back the clock.

“Nations will act independently and this will be detrimental to customers that use the Internet near and far,” advised the critic.

A similar sentiment was echoed by former Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, in a speech at the Foreign Ministry Faculty of International Relations in Tehran. Mr. Prodi suggested that Italy within Europe must play a greater role in matters of global importance, and that may entail Europe’s acting with greater independence of the United States. The message, though given on a different topic, is not one that instills confidence to those who see governments encroaching on their privacy, and would prefer unrestricted use, or less regulation, of the services for which they pay.

The U.S. legislation for infringement is written to tackle many concerns, and is certainly not archaic in regard to lawmakers’ ambition to affect what goes on well beyond the scope of U.S. jurisdiction.

For infringing sites outside the United States, it provides for in rem action in the District of Columbia to prevent the importation into the United States of goods and services directed to U.S. residents. The effect of this “importation” must be that the owner or operator of the infringing site must harm intellectual property rights holders that are residents of the United States.

The Justice Department will be granted power to serve court orders upon the registry where the domain name registrar is not located in the United States, and upon receipt of such an order, the domain registry must suspend operations of, and lock, the domain name of the infringing site.

During the action intended to “lock the domain name,” a court may determine, at a minimum threshold, that an Internet site is not conducting business to residents in the United States if the Internet site “states that it is not intended, and has measures to prevent, infringing materials from being accessed in or delivered to the United States,” including other provisions in subsection (d)(2)(B). The owner or operator of the “infringing site” shall also have recourse to petition the Justice Department to remove his domain name from an offending list, or petition the court to modify, suspend, or vacate the order in accordance with subsection (h)(1)(B).

The bill has an immunity clause which protects any entity from a cause of action in U.S. courts or administration agency for any action reasonably calculated to comply with an action intended to prevent the infringing site from continuing to do business with U.S.-based customers, receive financial transactions, and other matters under subsection (e)(3).

The U.S. legislation does not appear to put the onus on any businesses, such as Internet Service Providers, to stop known infringement from occurring. This is an interesting stance. In February, an Australian ISP won a precedent-setting copyright infringement lawsuit (Down Under) against the Motion Picture Industry. The bill sponsors may be cognizant of this ruling.

Softpedia reported that 34 U.S. movie studios and broadcasters filed a lawsuit in Australia against iiNet after the ISP refused to send warning letters to its customers who illegally downloaded movies using BitTorrent. The Australian Justice, Dennis Cowdroy, ruled that while iiNet had knowledge of infringements occurring, and did not act to stop them, such findings do not necessitate a finding that the ISP authorized the infringing activities. Possibly, Hollywood supporters of the U.S. infringement legislation now agree with Cowdroy’s ruling that to ask ISPs to police the Internet would “open them any number of legal claims for anything that might happen over their pipes,” and that would engender strong opposition to the legislation among ISPs in the United States. However, to take on the responsibility of policing the Internet may not seem a burden to Obama’s Justice Department.

Certainly, Hollywood will welcome any new infringement legislation aimed at stemming the loss of royalties through piracy and copyright violation in the digital age. Infringers often meet efforts to protect intellectual property with resilient and thought-out action to thwart the law. As a law intern in Thailand I learned, for example, that illegal duplication facilities for CDs and DVDs existed in mobile transportation. Persons engaged in copyright violations avoided the ability of local enforcement to easily locate them and shut them down. It is a sure bet that those engaged in infringing activities overseas will find ways and new technology to evade laws promulgated by a foreign government (like the U.S.) that will have no jurisdiction over them.

The Obama Justice Department, which tapped Hollywood lawyers, may be charged to police Intellectual Property — an assignment to which attorneys for President George W. Bush were “strongly opposed.” The Republican President threatened to veto a previous version of the bill sponsored by the same Sens. Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter.

In correspondence to the Senators, attorneys for President Bush wrote that they “strongly opposed” expanding the powers of the Justice Department. Doing so, they said, could undermine the Department’s prosecution of criminal cases and transform it into an office “serving as pro bono lawyers for private copyright holders.”

It is obvious during this era when citizens’ rights are curtailed and infringed upon, with the bipartisan sponsorship of the bill and the composition of the current administration, that the infringement legislation has a better chance of becoming law. But will it open a Pandora’s Box? Will it do exactly what critics suspect it is intended to do: censor more of the Internet, create bottlenecks that will allow governments to intrude on the flow of information and services around the world, and do possible damage to a wider spectrum of businesses (other than those it is intended to protect)?

Many of the dynamic economies that U.S. businesses now compete against were born out of things other than a free market; and other economies are driven, or manipulated by State controls, as is the case of China. Foreign nations may follow the U.S. lead in writing laws to regulate the Internet and address their concerns, but not with the results U.S. legislators necessarily hope to engender.

Through retaliation, or even pretext, governments may decide to regulate, or shut down legitimate Internet traffic and services to violate human rights, hinder trade, and to engage in industry espionage. We already have examples of these developments with China’s efforts to regulate Google, and the recent firestorm when India and other nations, acting within their security concerns, decided to take action to regulate Blackberry and gain access to users’ encrypted corporate e-mails and messages. The offices of Sen. Byron L Dorgan and Rep. Sander M. Levin of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China undertook a hearing in March to investigate if China’s efforts to regulate the Internet contravene free trade and human rights. Delegates to the hearing cited that:

–China’s Internet users remain subject to the arbitrary dictates of state censorship. More than a dozen agencies are involved in implementing a host of laws, regulations, and other tools to try to keep information and ideas from the Chinese people . . .

–China’s censorship practices and control of the Internet have had a terrible impact on human rights advocates. These include ordinary people who promote political freedoms or try to organize online . . . attempting to share information about ongoing government repression.

–Internet censorship and regulation in China have serious economic implications for many U.S. companies . . . [and] often run against basic international trade principles of nondiscrimination and maintaining a level playing field.

To these charges, China responded that it laws regarding the Internet are not much different than those of the West, and that critics are applying a double standard.

Perhaps U.S. lawmakers have forgotten a cause it often champions: that respect for human rights, deregulation, and open trade are important to a dynamic and properly functioning global community. As ownership of patents, trademarks, and copyrights becomes a contested grey area, nations may block business occurring over the Internet through the guise of infringement. Only the rich and powerful will have the resources to go through the legal hurdles at home and/or abroad to clear their domains of actions to lock them, and resume operations. Damage would be done to a business during the course of a legal action brought against it; its customers may simply believe that the domain ceases to exist, with transactions lost forever.

Small businesses could be shut out of that presumptuous dream of going global and becoming rich, while the elite, big businesses and powerful governments can dominate cyberspace. Many micro-states and individuals could be harmed, and educational pursuits stifled through this world of more legislation, regulation, and censorship.

Why should we be concerned about this future for the Internet?

Well, because the Internet is now everyone’s classroom; and perhaps more-so it has become individuals’ business personality. A properly set up website for a Mom-and-Pop enterprise can look as good as that of a billion dollar company’s front-store. The ramifications of more regulation will result in the free and booming frontier of cyberspace, now functioning as the gold rush for enterprise, ceasing to exist.

The U.S. may find it useful to confer with trading partners in the North and the South, and come to an understanding that perhaps unilateral action is not the way to address concerns in regard to a frontier in which everyone has an interest. President George W. Bush may have gotten it right when his attorneys writing on his behalf to Sens. Leahy and Specter implied, when taken altogether, that U.S. law already provides owners of Intellectual Property with effective legal tools to protect their rights. It need not go in the direction proposed by the Senators.

No one wants Washington’s efforts to backfire and force us to return to a world where we have to resort domestically to find the goods and services that we need, such as cheap medicine. Or, to have to wait on someone in a dusty library to find a book or paper we once could have accessed readily over the Internet. Or, in some far corner of the world men will cower in fear of infringing before they cite links as sources of information. A Big Brother that will censor access to the latest celebrity sex videos, or certain religious texts or even Osama bin Laden’s latest rant (however misguided they may be). The result of this could be that owners of presumed “infringing sites” must raise ungodly sums of money to hire attorneys to clear their domain names, while good sites like WikiLeaks (which make governments accountable for their actions) are shut down or blocked here and abroad through a pretext; and Mom-and-Pop operating a start-up Internet business within the cornfields of America are locked out through action suggested by a smooth operator with deep pockets who knows how to play the system and use it against his competitor, blocking sites because somebody with power did not like the owner’s point of view.

Francis Anthony Govia received a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations at Boston University where he studied U.S. National Security and Foreign Policy with teachers who inspired him, such as General Fred F. Woerner (Ret.), Ambassador Stephen R. Lyne (Ret.), and Joseph Fewsmith. He received a law degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is a contributor to Activist Post.

Related Story:
Senators Ease Off Internet ‘Censorship’ Bill After Outcry
Engineers Slam Internet ‘Censorship’ Bill Under Review by Senate

“Age of Censorship and Internet Trade Wars” was also published at PrisonPlanet, Uprooted Palestinians, IntelHub, InfoWars, Blacklisted News, LibertyFlame, DavidIcke, Global Information Network Society and other websites. Visit these sites for information and alternative news.

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Understanding Nuclear Proliferation a game we play

Francis Anthony Govia

The Muffin Post

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Thermometer

This is an exercise for students, teachers and parents, and a game that can be played by anyone. It is a discussion that should be held by all of us because we inhabit the planet earth. Any danger to the planet earth is a danger to us. The issue of nuclear proliferation is important to every resident on mother earth because nuclear weapons can destroy our entire civilization. The following information should be read carefully and noted with caution. You can translate the following information into another language by going here. Make sure you plot whatever is described in this exercise on to a note pad. A drawing of a Non proliferation Thermometer, a large surface area such as a blackboard, and a map of the world are also recommended. You will have to keep notes at each step of the way, and use arrows to capture the relationships between the facilities that you create. For purposes of research, having access to the Internet may be helpful to you. Everything will become clearer if you participate willingly in this exercise. Remember that this is fun and you should devote time to it for you are protecting the planet earth.

NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY

Don’t get bent out of shape and go to war before you know what the fuss is about nuclear technology.

A nuclear reactor needs uranium to create energy. Draw a picture of a Nuclear reactor. Do not use up all your space. Remember you will have other things to draw, and arrows to connect the relationships between them. Find out if you have a reactor in your state or nation? When you have the time read information about a reactor that is located close to you.

Natural uranium consists of quantities of Uranium 235 (U-235) and Uranium 238 (U-238). In fact, natural uranium consists of 0.72% U-235 and 99.72 U-238, in addition to other small quantities of uranium isotopes. Draw a warehouse for storing natural Uranium. Note what properties are in natural uranium.

Some reactors can use natural uranium. They are reactors moderated by heavy water or graphite.

However, to make uranium work in a reactor, many scientists use a Centrifuge process to enrich U-235 to a level between 3 to 5% and use it in nuclear fission to heat water which produce steam and make electricity. U-235 enriched to a level of 3 to 5% is not good enough to make a nuclear bomb. Conduct research into what Uranium enrichment facilities do. Try to learn a little more about the process.

U-235 enriched below the level of 20% is called Low-enriched Uranium (LEU). U-235 enriched at a level near 20% is used in some forms of medical research including cancer. Note that you are doing work to help people at this level. Plot the information at the relevant stages on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Thermometer.

Enriched beyond 20%, the U-235 is considered Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU).

U-235 enriched above 20% can be used to make a dirty nuclear bomb. Draw a picture of you with a worried or perplexed look on your face. Plot this picture adjacent to appropriate level on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Thermometer.

A true nuclear bomb has U-235 enriched to about 95%. Plot this information with great balls of fire on your Nuclear Non- proliferation Thermometer. Draw a picture of you and your family scared to the dickens next to it. If you are a particularly good artists makes sure that you have people biting on their finger nails and pulling their hair out from the root. A nuclear weapon is really destructive.

Now let us attend to more information.

The enrichment process is considered the most demanding and expensive part of making a bomb and beyond the capability of most non-state actors. Non-state actors are typically terrorists but utility companies may also be interested in using nuclear technology. What do terrorists look like? Draw pictures of them if you care. Can you think of a non-state actor that would be interested in nuclear technology for good reasons?

Some Nations have tried to make a nuclear bomb and failed. Do you know any of these nations?

Since the first Trinity Nuclear Test in 1945 only a few nations are accepted to have made nuclear weapons. They are the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, and South Africa. Make note of these nations. Can you identify when these nations carried out their first nuclear test?

There are other nations that are said to have nuclear weapons positioned on their soil. Identify nations that have nuclear weapons other than the ones that have built them. Why? Push a pin into each nation on a map where nuclear weapons are positioned.

When you hear a discussion about nuclear proliferation you should refer to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Thermometer, pins on your world map, and notes you have written to guide you.

Go back to your Nuclear Non-proliferation Thermometer. At the bulb (or foundation) of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Thermometer write that every nation has an inalienable right under Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NTP) to the peaceful use of nuclear technology. Read the Treaty. Print it and share it.

Are you now ready for a discussion on nuclear proliferation? Let us recap.

On the Nuclear Non-proliferation Thermometer, when the mercury reaches the 5% level of enrichment of U-235 a nation may be planning to use it to for peaceful means like producing electricity, right?

On the Nuclear Non-proliferation Thermometer, when the mercury reaches just below the level of 20% enrichment of U-235 a nation could be conducting medical research with something called Low Enriched Uranium (LEU). Is that correct?

When the mercury passes 20% level of enrichment of U-235, our assessment of what that nation may be doing is no better than Alice in Wonderland, and a source of bewilderment. The U-235 is now considered Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU). What is your natural reaction to news about a nation capability to produce HEU? Write it down? Compare your reaction if you can to another peer who resides in another area of the globe. Ask friends on Facebook (or another social media) to build a Nuclear Non-proliferation Thermometer as you are doing, discuss proliferation, and share differing views in a respectful way.

Most people would agree that a nation has that capability to build a nuclear bomb if it can enrich U-235 to the level of 95%. Many innocent civilians will be harmed from the detonation of a nuclear weapon in war, and the plumes of radiation may affect people that live in adjoining nations. Is the planet a safer place because one nation has the bomb and another does not? Discuss your views on these issues and others.

Only nations that are signatories to the NPT and ratified the agreement have agreed not to proliferate. Other nations operate within the context that they are able to do as they please but they are monitored by the world’s police within the parameters of International Law. Have your nation signed and ratified the NPT?

The police consist of the Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) that came up with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the first place. The NWS are the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and China. They work to prevent other nations from joining the nuclear club, and they are determined to stop nuclear proliferation. The NWS have huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons that can destroy the planet earth many times over. Try to imagine the worst that can happen to the planet if there is a nuclear war. Approximately how many nuclear weapons are there in the world? To which nations do they belong? How many independent nations are there in the world?

Students may think of the nuclear club as a privileged group. It is like a sorority or fraternity. As a member you can choose your friends. Now that you know the pros and cons of nuclear technology how do you want to manage it? Do not forget Article IV of the NPT.

Depending on where you live in the world you may have different views concerning which of the NWS are good cops or bad cops. See if everyone shares your opinion.

Let us complete the last of the exercises.

Try to research which nations of the world have large deposits of uranium, and depending on the level of commitment devoted to this study, learn more about the peoples and cultures of these nations. Do they also have nuclear weapons?

Has your nation been guilty of nuclear proliferation?

Which nation is believed to have dispossessed itself of its nuclear arsenal? Why?

Have a discussion about states that thwarted the understanding of the NPT and acquired nuclear weapons. Are nations that did not sign or ratified the NPT guilty of breaking International law?

Discuss contemporary issues about nuclear non-proliferation. Act as ambassadors for nations (other than for the country where you reside) and role play. Contemplate what punishment (sanctions) should be implemented against nations suspected and/or guilty of nuclear proliferation.

Discuss what plans can be implemented to make the world totally free of nuclear weapons. If you believe that you learned things about the world and nuclear technology that you did not know, and want to use that knowledge to make planet earth a safer place for all of us, perhaps you also agree that knowledge is powerful. Will you agree to share your knowledge?

Copyright © 2010 The Muffin Post. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to schools to use for educational discussions. Please cite The Muffin Post for work done in creating this exercise.

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First Solar Energy Recharge Station (SERSEV) opens in SE Tennessee

Over a year ago, The Muffin Post posted an article regarding the production of the Nissan Leaf and suggested the establishment of a Nation-wide array of solar energy recharge stations for electric vehicles aptly coined SERSEVS. The article was titled “SERSEV the Leaf”. According to AutoGreenBlog: ‘That’s just what happened in Pulaski, TN, where a solar parking lot – that is, parking spaces with an electric vehicle charger that is powered by solar energy – opened earlier this month. The 20 kW solar array is the first such EV station in the Southeast say the people behind the project, Richland, LLC. Company president Jim Greene told local TV station WSMV.” The SERSEV was built at a cost of $180,000 with funds from the Federal and State government. We think this example is the way of the future. For more information regarding the AutoGreenBlog article go here. The original Muffin Post article of August 9, 2009 is available here, with additional suggestions for use of the technology.

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Hans Vestberg talks about Management

We liked this video of Hans Vestberg CEO and President of Ericsson so much that we decided to post it here. There is something very likable about an executive who talks passionately about his work and family that is worth sharing a few more times.

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The Ordinary Man’s Journey to Nirvana

By Francis Anthony Govia

Rocket RS850 Signature Speakers available at av123.com

The first sight of the RS850 Signature speakers produced by Perpetual Technologies was eye opening. I had driven the Nissan Altima to the warehouse in Pennsylvania where the speakers were shipped Yellow Freight. Previously, I had made arrangements over the phone from New York with a representative of the Yellow Freight company to pick up the speakers when in Pennsylvania. “Are you sure you want to pick them up?” he asked.
“Sure,” I answered. “I’ll be there on Friday.”

When Friday arrived the boss of the house and I drove the car to the warehouse. I gave Mike, the friendly service person at the desk, my confirmation number, and he asked what I had to transport them. I told him I came in a car. “They won’t fit,” he said. “These things are as big as a house, and they are on a crate.”
“Are you sure?” I responded rather naively. “It’s one of the new Altimas. The space on the back seat is quite big.”
“You want to take a look at them,” he said.
“Sure,” I said, following him to the back of the warehouse.

It was the kind of treatment I was getting used to in the mountains of Pennsylvania. In New York, the guy at the front desk would worry about insurance liability for me getting injured in the warehouse, or just expect me to get to hell out of the place and stop wasting his time until I made proper arrangement for the pick up, but there I was following the guy to the back.

The RS850 Signature speakers were massive. They were shipped on a wooden pallet in two carton boxes. In bad times a homeless person could bind the boxes together with masking tape, use one of the fronts as a door, and make a shelter. I had seen people sleeping in cardboard boxes before, and now there I was, an immigrant who first came to America with only $50 in his pocket accepting the delivery of a $1900 pair of speakers.

I told Mike I was going to come back. Me and the boss climbed back into the Altima, and drove to our neighborhood in Tobyhanna where I rented a U-Haul truck. When I returned to Mike’s job with the U-Haul truck, he surprised me by saying, “You should not have done that. I would have gotten them delivered if I had known you didn’t own a truck,” he said. I told him that I didn’t know when I would get back to Pennsylvania so it was fine. I planned to take them now.

Mike got one of those thingies guys use at Home Depot to move heavy stuff and drove it to the back of the warehouse, stuck the two folks into the pallet and drove the speakers onto the U-Haul truck. I offered him a tip, which he good-naturedly declined saying, “It’s my job, man.” And soon the boss lady and I were on our way home.

12 AWG Ultralink Speaker Cable

The drive to the house took about 20 minutes. I got a serrated knife and cut the plastic bonds that held the boxes together, and carefully loaded each box unto a dolly anticipating the opening of each box. If you have a bad back, and bought these speakers, you should consider hiring a porter. Each of the boxes weighs 100 pounds. The return of the U-Haul truck could wait.

The packaging of the RS850 Signatures speakers was impressive. Each speaker is housed in two thick cardboard boxes, and I do mean thick! The outside cardboard box is the first protective shield. The second cardboard box is slightly smaller than the first and forms the second protective shield around the speaker. Within the second box, each speaker nests with three rings of foam around the body, and capped with the same material at the top and bottom. The speakers themselves are body-wrapped in bright white cotton, and with a touch of class, are topped with two white gloves for handling the ladies. The only complaint I could raise thus far was that the gloves were so small that they seemed more suited for the boss of the house than for me. I guess the guys who assemble them in China forgot that they were destined for the United States where men grow over-sized and have large hands. Nevertheless, I forced the gloves over my average sized hands and began the process of removing the cotton suit from the beauties.

Words cannot adequately describe how beautiful these speakers are built. Each stand statuesquely 47.5 inches tall on brass spiked feet, and the depth goes back 16 inches. The top and bottom of each speaker are polished piano-lacquered-black. If you stood looking over the speaker, the top would be a mirror that reflects the contours of your face.

The speakers themselves are sturdily built in the MDF Board and wrapped with matching grains of redwood veneer harvested from sustainable forests in South America.

Each RS850 Speaker has a Vifa tweeter and five aluminum woofers – none any larger in circumference than 5.25 inches. I learned from reading the description on the website at av123.com that one 5.25 inch woofer has an effective surface area of a 11 inch woofer. I wondered how could that be, and curiosity got the better of me; so I got a small flashlight and looked carefully at the cone.

Each woofer looks like a grapefruit that someone had scraped out the innards leaving behind a smooth cup-like surface. Only that the woofers of the RS850s are polished metal that can move you to somewhere where you feel special and the grapefruit just leaves you with the after taste of rind in your mouth.

It took some time before these wonderful speakers, designed by Mark L. Schifter and the folks in Colorado, got me to that special place. In the early months of me having them, they stood in the woods in Pennsylvania, and I worked over two hours away in Manhattan, with little opportunity to enjoy them. I had mated the speakers to gear manufactured by Emotiva. The amp is the XPA-2, described as a brute with finesse that outputs 300 watts per channel. My pre amp is the very neutral sounding RSP-2. For a media player, I used the now vintage Adcom GCD 700, and all these were tied together with Hero interconnects by Kimber Kable and Audioquest Type 4 speaker cables. The sacrifices I had made to purchase this system were intended to get me to Nirvana.

XPA-2 Amplifier available at Emotiva.com

It is not that the RS850s should be blamed for any short-fall that I had in the early months of their ownership. They sounded exquisite from the first moment I heard them. I cannot emulate the fine descriptions you would read in an illustrious magazine such as Stereophile. I am not an audiophile and I am not an engineer. Here is what I think. Even in a room with a ceiling with a high point of over 20 feet, and wooden floors under which were the hollow of a crawl space, the speakers still sounded nice and clean, and not fuzzy and out of control. There was a clear separation of the various percussive instruments, rhythm, melody, and vocals for me to understand that these speakers understood distinction.

Emotiva RSP-2 Preamplifier

As a person who is trained in the subject of law “distinction” is something I have come to appreciate. Distinction is something than can be missed because it may not be the bold and up in your face part of anything, but when it is noticed, and positive, it can move you to a realm of satisfaction, happiness, or awe. I felt that these were the speakers I had always longed to own because they not only looked beautiful but they sounded beautifully. They engendered satisfaction, happiness, and awe.

In the early years of my life in the United States, my dream was to own a boom box made by Fisher. I saw it in New York in the now long defunct “Nobody Beats the Wiz” electronic store. In those days, my dream of going to college was still further away from being realized that my dream of owning the boom box, and certainly, many more years away were the RS850s. I worked as a home health aide to an old man who was slowly dying of complications and Parkinson’s disease.

It took me a long time to save the couple of hundred dollars to buy the Fisher boom box. When I eventually had enough, I caught the train as fast as I could to 14th Street and Union Square and got the sales person to sell me one of the boom boxes. It was not long after that I soon became dissatisfied, and realized how hopelessly inadequate the boom box was for my blossoming taste.

A few years after my experience with the ownership of the boom box, and as a home health aide, I began night school in Norwalk. There friends and teachers rescued me, and Boston University and gave me a scholarship to study at its College of Arts and Sciences. Following, I began the study of law at University of Wisconsin-Madison and the passionate cheering of Badger football at Camp Randall stadium on Saturdays.

During my time as a student, my fascination with fine electronics and similar technology grew. I became a purchaser of speakers and a wave radio manufactured by the Bose Corporation. I moved on to separates made by Parasound, and speakers manufactured by Wharfedale and a subwoofer by Velodyne. My appetite for audio that not only sound good but look good increased, and I often wondered what it was like to own speakers like the WATT Puppies made by Wilson Audio, or even the more modestly priced PSB Stratus Gold i. I dreamt of marrying a fine pair of speakers to Bryston, Krell, Boulder, or those massive McIntoch monoblocks I saw in a specialty store in Madison.

All those dreams were engendered in part by articles I was reading in Stereophile magazine. The truth is it does not matter how far a person has traveled from being an ordinary laborer like I was to the educated man that I became, there is still reason which tempers his yearning for the finer qualities of life by what is within his wallet. The balancing of these things is what led me to choose Emotiva separates and the RS850 Signature speakers. To me, it meant buying sensibly yet obtaining unsurpassed quality within a certain price point.

These days I listen to the RS850s in New York. The apartment is smaller than the house in Pennsylvania. I took out my measuring tape this morning and discovered that the listening room is 12 feet by 28 feet. The ceiling is 9 feet in height.

My equipment is still essentially the same, except now I have replaced the Media player for the time being with an Ipod, and the Audioquest speaker cables with 12 AWG Matrix 2 series Ultralink cables. My taste in music is eclectic but I lean mostly towards jazz. Some of my favorite recordings however were made by Santana, Lee Ritenour, Sting, Herb Alpert, the late George Howard, Teddy Pendergrass, Carol King, Hootie and the Blowfish, Acoustic Alchemy, the Pat Metheny Group and Gypsy Kings. While I have a preference for those artists, I regularly play mixes which include anything from reggae produced by Buju Banton, Matisyahu and Beres Hammond, to classical by Andrea Bocelli and John Williams, calypso by Baron and Edwin Yearwood, Bollywood dance grooves by Alka Yagnik, Blues by Joan Armatrading, classic rock by Led Zepplin, or contemporary music by U2, Daughtry, Train and Coldplay. I also love Country. One of my favorite albums is Major Moves by Hank Williams Jr. with its rough and rowdy Monday night football theme “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” and “The Blues Medley.“ In New York, my rig gets to shine while playing all these genres of music and more. The more dynamic the sound the more it excels.

The late George Howard

In the apartment, the solid structure of the concrete walls, hardwood floors, and the softness of furnishing add to an environment that is less likely to be colored by artifacts that affected the space in the mountains. The speakers sound clearer and sweeter in New York, and if anything maybe a tad too refined. It speaks of the fine work done by Danny Richie who designed the crossover, but if you are one of those people who like your ears to be bitten, and blood to flow from wounds on nights you chooses to get wild, maybe these ladies are not for you. Nothing seems to come from them that perplexes the mind. They are your ladies with class that you take home to meet your mother, and the Emotivas do not to distort the openness of their soundstage. Together, they appear to be a couple that could stay married for 50 years – that marriage friends propose a toast to with Champagne.

I compare the feeling I get when listening to the RS850 Signature speakers produced by Perpetual Technologies to the feeling a person gets when trading in a 14 year old car for something with the trueness and quality of an Acura. Even the most subtle touch of the controls engenders a response that is exhilarating. There is no more clunky sound to vex your spirit. The actions you take have been done 50 or more times before, right down to the very music that you play, but now the feeling is so marvelously different. This has got to be your year!

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Hawaii rallies to get in the running for visionary Google project

A community-based appeal for Google to make Hawaii one of the test locales for its recently-announced, ultra-fast broadband service is being organized through an online petition. Called Gigabit Hawaii, the initiative seeks to get tens of thousands of residents to add their support by a March 15 deadline when the petition of community-based encouragement will be transmitted to Google – which will be making initial selections after March 25.

Local government has already made an official request, but Google had stated that “a level of community support” would be one of the factors. The Gigabit Hawaii initiative hopes to help make the point by providing an easy way for the general public to participate with a quick online signing. People are asked to network the petition address to family and friends and through organizations.

Several leading members of the local high-tech community drafted a multi-point support document and formatted the petition. Olin Lagon of Kanu Hawaii stated his support: “Unlike most parts of the US, our own residents are separated by ocean. Enabling gigabit broadband directly into our communities could have a profound impact on better connecting our neighborhoods and islands, as well as invigorating our challenged public educational system.”

Reflecting on the economy, Dan Leuck of TechHui and Ikayzo said: “Being on the most isolated island chain on Earth, the speed and quality of our connection to the net directly impacts our ability to communicate, learn, educate, and conduct business. Google’s gigabit broadband initiative could help reinvigorate communities and businesses in an economic downturn.”

Kevin Hughes of Sprout said: “Hundreds of millions of people use and rely on Google’s network-based applications as part of their daily lives. Let’s show them that Hawaii residents want and deserve the kind of network infrastructure with the speed, efficiency, and reliability that their products are known for. Their presence will encourage innovation, spur competition, and lay the groundwork for an economy driven by the production of intellectual capital rather than the scarcity of natural resources.”

To support the petition, go here.

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