Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nerve Cells Derived From Stem Cells And Transplanted Into Mice May Lead To Improved Brain Treatments

ScienceDaily (June 24, 2008) — Scientists at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research have, for the first time, genetically programmed embryonic stem (ES) cells to become nerve cells when transplanted into the brain, according to a new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

The research, an important step toward developing new treatments for stroke, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurological conditions showed that mice afflicted by stroke showed tangible therapeutic improvement following transplantation of these cells. None of the mice formed tumors, which had been a major setback in prior attempts at stem cell transplantation.

Read More

Salutary Pizza Spice: Oregano Helps Against Inflammations

ScienceDaily (June 26, 2008) — Oregano doesn't only give a pizza its typical taste. Researchers at Bonn University and the ETH Zürich have discovered that this spice also contains a substance which, amongst other qualities, appears to help cure inflammations.

Read More

Intestinal Proteins May Be Effective Anti-Tumor Antigens

ScienceDaily (June 26, 2008) — Mice immunized with an intestinal protein developed fewer lung and liver metastases following injection with colon cancer cells than unvaccinated animals, according to a study in the June 24 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Read More

Memo from gates

I got this off of Gizmodo's site and find it interesting that even in 2003, he was having issues with usability. Perhaps it was his focus on usability above all that drew the mass market into it. Ease of use is what they built their empire on and since the have seemingly abandoned that philosophy, you may as well use a free product that is, dare I say it, more usable. If they cannot bring the usability back with Windows 7 in the next 18 months, you might see large chunks of the market fragment get frustrated and go to Unix based operating systems or Apple. I'll certainly be looking and try to be ready in case things things go south.

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:05 AM
To: Jim Allchin
Cc: Chris Jones (WINDOWS); Bharat Shah (NT); Joe Peterson; Will Poole; Brian Valentine; Anoop Gupta (RESEARCH)
Subject: Windows Usability Systematic degradation flame

I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don't drive usability issues.

Let me give you my experience from yesterday.

I decided to download (Moviemaker) and buy the Digital Plus pack ... so I went to They have a download place so I went there.

The first 5 times I used the site it timed out while trying to bring up the download page. Then after an 8 second delay I got it to come up.

This site is so slow it is unusable.

It wasn't in the top 5 so I expanded the other 45.

These 45 names are totally confusing. These names make stuff like: C:\Documents and Settings\billg\My Documents\My Pictures seem clear.

They are not filtered by the system ... and so many of the things are strange.

I tried scoping to Media stuff. Still no moviemaker. I typed in movie. Nothing. I typed in movie maker. Nothing.

So I gave up and sent mail to Amir saying - where is this Moviemaker download? Does it exist?

So they told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.

They told me to go to the main page search button and type movie maker (not moviemaker!).

I tried that. The site was pathetically slow but after 6 seconds of waiting up it came.

I thought for sure now I would see a button to just go do the download.

In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve. It told me to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations.

This struck me as completely odd. Why should I have to go somewhere else and do a scan to download moviemaker?

So I went to Windows update. Windows Update decides I need to download a bunch of controls. (Not) just once but multiple times where I get to see weird dialog boxes.

Doesn't Windows update know some key to talk to Windows?

Then I did the scan. This took quite some time and I was told it was critical for me to download 17megs of stuff.

This is after I was told we were doing delta patches to things but instead just to get 6 things that are labeled in the SCARIEST possible way I had to download 17meg.

So I did the download. That part was fast. Then it wanted to do an install. This took 6 minutes and the machine was so slow I couldn't use it for anything else during this time.

What the heck is going on during those 6 minutes? That is crazy. This is after the download was finished.

Then it told me to reboot my machine. Why should I do that? I reboot every night — why should I reboot at that time?

So I did the reboot because it INSISTED on it. Of course that meant completely getting rid of all my Outlook state.

So I got back up and running and went to Windows Updale again. I forgot why I was in Windows Update at all since all I wanted was to get Moviemaker.

So I went back to and looked at the instructions. I have to click on a folder called WindowsXP. Why should I do that? Windows Update knows I am on Windows XP.

What does it mean to have to click on that folder? So I get a bunch of confusing stuff but sure enough one of them is Moviemaker.

So I do the download. The download is fast but the Install takes many minutes. Amazing how slow this thing is.

At some point I get told I need to go get Windows Media Series 9 to download.

So I decide I will go do that. This time I get dialogs saying things like "Open" or "Save". No guidance in the instructions which to do. I have no clue which to do.

The download is fast and the install takes 7 minutes for this thing.

So now I think I am going to have Moviemaker. I go to my add/remove programs place to make sure it is there.

It is not there.

What is there? The following garbage is there. Microsoft Autoupdate Exclusive test package, Microsoft Autoupdate Reboot test package, Microsoft Autoupdate testpackage1. Microsoft AUtoupdate testpackage2, Microsoft Autoupdate Test package3.

Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable? The file system is no longer usable. The registry is not usable. This program listing was one sane place but now it is all crapped up.

But that is just the start of the crap. Later I have listed things like Windows XP Hotfix see Q329048 for more information. What is Q329048? Why are these series of patches listed here? Some of the patches just things like Q810655 instead of saying see Q329048 for more information.

What an absolute mess.

Moviemaker is just not there at all.

So I give up on Moviemaker and decide to download the Digital Plus Package.

I get told I need to go enter a bunch of information about myself.

I enter it all in and because it decides I have mistyped something I have to try again. Of course it has cleared out most of what I typed.

I try (typing) the right stuff in 5 times and it just keeps clearing things out for me to type them in again.

So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that is a terrible website I haven't run Moviemaker and I haven't got the plus package.

The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind. I thought we had reached a low with Windows Network places or the messages I get when I try to use 802.11. (don't you just love that root certificate message?)

When I really get to use the stuff I am sure I will have more feedback.

Top 10 most poluted Cities

I was surprised Milan was #1 over China.

White House Refused To Open Unwelcome EPA E-Mail

Posted by timothy on Wednesday June 25, @03:39PM
from the that's-one-way-not-to-have-seen-the-rules dept.
epfreed writes "The White House lost a case in the Supreme Court about the need for the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases. So the EPA made new rule. And now the NYTimes reports that the White House did not want to get these new rules from the EPA about greenhouse gases. So they did not open the email."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Scandinavian Scientists Designing Robotic Snakes

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday June 26, @02:57AM
from the on-a-robot-plane dept.
Cowards Anonymous writes "The Sintef Group, a research company based in Trondheim, Norway, announced that it's designing a robot based on snakes. The 1.5-meter long robots, which are made of aluminum, are being designed to inspect and clean complicated industrial pipe systems that are typically narrow and inaccessible to humans. The intelligent robots have multiple joints to enable them to twist vertically and climb up through pipe systems to locate leaks in water systems, inspect oil and gas pipelines and clean ventilation systems."

Lost the Remote? Use Your Face

Posted by CmdrTaco on Wednesday June 25, @12:23PM
from the you-look-bored dept.
coondoggie writes "A researcher has discovered a way to use facial expressions to speed and slow video playback. By using a combination of facial expression recognition software and automated tutoring technology Jacob Whitehill, a computer science Ph.D. student from UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering, is leading the project that ultimately is part of a larger venture to use automated facial expression recognition to make robots more effective teachers. The researchers recently conducted a pilot test with 8 people that demonstrated information within the facial expressions people make while watching recorded video lectures can be used to predict a person's preferred viewing speed of the video and how difficult a person perceives the lecture at each moment in time."

Higher Oil Prices Are Starting To Bring Jobs Home

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday June 24, @09:40PM
from the silver-lining-with-a-vengeance dept.
penguin_dance notes a report up at ABC News that high oil and gas prices in the US may be moving jobs back home in a trend that some economists are calling "reverse globalization." It's becoming more and more expensive to ship finished product from other countries, so some companies are moving the manufacturing back to the US. The article hints that this trend may spill over soon to raw materials such as steel. One economist is quoted: "It's not just about labor costs anymore. Distance costs money, and when you have to shift iron ore from Brazil to China and then ship it back to Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh is looking pretty good at 40 bucks an hour."

Study: Rich people have way bigger eco-footprint

If you're like me, you probably assume that when rich folks are alone in their hilltop mansions far from the prying eyes of the hoi-polloi that they secretly engage in environmentally irresponsible behaviour like drinking crude oil cappuchinos and burning whales for heat. Well, now a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says that - in Canada, at least - wealthier people do have more impact on the planet.

The research claims richest ten percent of the population weighs on the environment 2.5 times more heavily than the poorest ten percent, principally due to more and larger homes and cars, as well as more frequent air travel for business and pleasure.

The report suggests that any attempt to levy carbon taxes should be weighted more heavily towards people at the upper end of the income scale. It's at this point where environmental policy becomes social policy, that things usually start to get interesting...

San Jose to lead the country in sustainability

If you're going to have a cause, you might as well go full-force, that's what I always say. Well, it's what I'll start saying from now on, because San Jose, California is well on their way to redefining the standard for urban sustainable living, and they're not taking their approach lightly.

Last October, Mayor Chuck Reed announced San Jose's Green Vision, which aims to get his city to run on 100% renewable energy and clean living. The 10 Green Vision Goals include some wonderful objectives that Reed hopes to achieve within 15 years, including a way to convert 100% of the city's waste into energy, recycle 100% of its wastewater and plant 100,000 new trees within the city. We can only hope that this plan stays true through the projected time and acts as an example to other cities interested in adopting similar measures.
Related Link

Florida to convert sugar lands to wetlands

The State of Florida has recently announced its plans to spend $1.75 billion in a purchase of up to 300 square miles of Everglades from US Sugar Corp., the nation's largest producer of cane sugar. The state plans to eventually restore this land to its original natural wetland state.

There are some hitches, of course. Number one, the deal still only exists as a statement of principles, as the final details will be worked out within 75 days. Plus, US Sugar Corp. will continue to farm the land for six more years until they go out of business, as planned. Currently, there are a total of 250,000 acres under cultivation by other companies. So while this may not sound like the most ideal plan, Florida Governor Charlie Crist sees it as monumental as the creation of Yellowstone Park and represent "the largest conservation purchase in the history of the state of Florida."
Related Link

No XP Reprieve; Windows 7 Release Set

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday June 24, @11:24PM
from the squeezing-out-the-vista dept.
CWmike writes "Microsoft has laid to rest rumors that it might reconsider pulling Windows XP from retail shelves and from most PC makers next Monday. Microsoft's Bill Veghte wrote to customers reiterating that June 30 would be the deadline when Microsoft halts shipments of boxed copies to retailers and stops licensing the operating system directly to OEMs. However, Veghte did leave the door open to all computer makers, even the largest, who want to continue selling new PCs with XP pre-installed. 'Additionally, Systems Builders (sometimes referred to as "local OEMs"), may continue to purchase Windows XP through Authorized Distributors [such as Ingram Micro] through January 31, 2009,' he wrote in the letter. 'All OEMs, including major OEMs, have this option,' said Veghte. At the same time, Microsoft confirmed Windows 7 would ship in January 2010. Who, if they have not already, would install Vista now?" Microsoft has said they will post the letter, but it's not up yet.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Anti-inflammatory Drug Blocks Brain Plaques

ScienceDaily (June 24, 2008) — An anti-inflammatory drug may help restore brain function in patients with Alzheimer's disease, according to an animal study recently published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Read More

Vatican asks tourists to green their vacay

Summer travel season is here, and Pope Benedict wants you to remember one thing: harming the environment is a sin. So, watch out all you globetrotters! The increasingly eco-friendly Vatican released a set of travel tips to the devout this week, including suggestions on how to make your vacation more environmentally responsible. Apparently, the word on the street in Vatican City is: "One can choose to be a tourist at odds with the Earth or in favor of it."

The message comes as the latest in a series of environmentally-conscious initiatives by the Vatican -- like going carbon-neutral and defining pollution as a "new sin." The Pope's travel tips aren't really all that enlightening. They range from simply bringing less luggage on planes and other gas guzzlers, to offsetting your travel footprint by planting trees. Still, it's pretty significant that Catholicism is going green. It kinda seems to raise the question: is any form of tourism truly eco-friendly? Shouldn't we just abolish vacation and work all the time? I'm kidding.

Police Training at Centreville, Langley and Lee High Schools

Beginning June 23 and running thru August the Police department tactical team will be overseeing practical training exercises (active shooter training) that will take place in Centreville, Langley and Lee High Schools from 12 noon to 11 PM.

This has been coordinated with each school and they will only be using a small portion of the facility and training will take place at only one facility at a time. The training area will be well marked with police staff members at all access points. The PD will be using a portable fire alarm bell system that will sound in the training area only but may be audible in other portions of the building depending on proximity.

Security Supervisors the tactical team member in charge will notify the console 30 minutes prior to the conclusion of the training each night. You will need to have an officer respond to secure the building for them. Ensure your staffs are aware and comply.

From June 23 through July 17 the training will alternate between Langley and Centreville, after that Training will take place at Lee High School. All training will be conducted Monday thru Thursdays

A tactile solution to alternative energy sources

Instead of thinking big - as in huge solar panels or enormous wind turbines - one designer started small, and worked his way up.

Product designer Agustin Otegui came up with a unique solution to supplying large structures with alternative energy. His invention is called Nano Vent Skin, and it is just that: miniature wind turbines that form a "skin" that can wrap around buildings, tunnels, or anywhere else that needs energy.

Thousands of mini turbines would form the mesh skin (see photo at right for a magnified example of the turbines, which would measure about 25 millimeters long by 10 millimeters wide) and the energy they collected would be stored in storage units located around the structure. And as an added benefit, the wind turbines would also collect CO2.

Otegui says these types of nano-manufacturing are still years away, but he continues to think of other ways that his nano skin could be used.
Related Link

Japan Imposes 'Fine On Fat'

Posted by timothy on Tuesday June 24, @10:35AM
from the fat-man-vs.-the-state dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A recently-introduced law in Japan requires all businesses to have mandatory obesity checks (video link) for all their employees and employees' family members over the age of 40, CNN reports. If the employee or family member is deemed obese, and does not lose the extra fat soon, their employer faces large fines. The legislated upper limit for the waistline is 33.5" for men, and 35.5" for women. Should America adopt universal health insurance, could we live to see the same kind of individual health regulations imposed on us by the government? By comparison, the average waistline in America in 2005 was 39 inches for men, 37 inches for women."

Scientists figure out how to momentarily store images in vapor

You don't have to be a science buff to understand that atoms in gases move around a heck of a lot more than those in solids. For instance, text on a paper page isn't apt to just reshuffle itself when no one is looking, but printing the latest Harry Potter novel on thin air could prove just a touch more difficult. Said challenge isn't too much for physicists from varying institutions in Israel, as they have recently demonstrated how to ever-so-briefly store images in a warm atomic vapor. Reportedly, the gurus have figured out how to "store complex images for up to 30 microseconds in rubidium vapor," and if mastered, the process could help unlock secrets of "quantum information processing and even quantum communication." If your interest meter just shot through the roof (you geek, you), head on down to the read link to slurp up more on how it's being done.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Varoom! A fuel surcharge for speeding

It's only a matter of time before everyone is doing it, sort of like skinny jeans spreading from New York to North Dakota. A town in Georgia will start issuing a fuel surcharge to drivers on July 1st. Drivers in Holly Springs, Ga. who are stopped for any moving violation will also be charged for fuel.

While this could have been, in another socialist universe, a reminder to speeders that speeding does a better job of sucking up fuel than it does of providing better arrival times, this has nothing to do with the environment.

The city of Holly Springs is struggling to pay for the gas it needs to patrol. The city's solution was to slap on a $12 surcharge to every moving violation ticket it issues. (Officer to driver: "I see you failed to use your right turn signal back there.")

Other municipalities and counties considering the measure include Atlanta, Key West, Fla. and Los Angeles County.

The price of gas in Atlanta varies from $3.85 to $4.31 a gallon.

[via Yahoo! News]

Tristar Massage Chair isn't built for the average living room

Really, we've yet to pinpoint a massage chair that fit in well with typical furniture and didn't cost a small fortune, but we're tempted to believe that the Tristar Massage Chair was actually created with Martians in mind. This rather terrifying seating device includes all sorts of apparatuses that will reportedly remove stress from your back, feet, face and fingertips. There's also an integrated audio system for surrounding yourself in Kenny G or Killswitch Engage, whichever group helps you cope with all that you dealt with during the workday. Too bad you'll be burning that midnight oil to pay off the €5,000 ($7,807) credit card bill.

[Via Ubergizmo]