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    Saturday, January 14, 2006

    Microsoft versus Google...

    Microsoft To Google: It’s On!
    Microsoft is planning to release an assault on the search advertising industry this coming June, according to the Associated Press. Pulling from the Chinese research leg of the company, the Beast of Redmond aims to add highly targeted and contextual next-generation search marketing technology to its weapons cache to continue its bout against the new nemesis found in Google. - more on webpronews .

    Conflict resolution in cyberspace

    Thanks to support from successive EU-funded projects, Tiga Technologies, an advanced IT consultancy, is creating a spin-off company to commercialise a pioneering electronic arbitration system called e-Dispute©. The e-Dispute© prototype provides fast online arbitration, mediation and conciliation services. Claimants and respondents can be anywhere in the world and select from a range of languages to work in. They can send messages securely and explain their preferences to an arbitrator. “Robot agents digest all the information and make proposals to the parties,” explains Jacques Gouimenou, managing director of Tiga Technologies. “Once the arbitrator is agreed upon, the robot agent finds a suitable ‘meeting’ date for everybody.” Meetings are supported via video conference and chat room facilities. “Our system reduces delays and costs. It is also very secure,” he adds. To evaluate the prototype arbitration system with potential customers, Gouimenou won funding from the European Commission ‘s eTEN Programme for the e-Dispute© project. Acknowledging its undisputed advances to date, it has since been voted eTEN project of the month for December 2005. The e-Dispute© platform has been successfully piloted at the European Court of Arbitration and the Emilia-Romagna Chamber of Commerce. Further trials are scheduled at several UK hospitals to assist with claim resolution. Recently, Gouimenou attended the European Tech Investment Forum in Berlin seeking capital for this latest venture. “We are now looking for €1.5-2m investment to set up a company dedicated to the promotion and commercialisation of the e-Dispute© system,” explains Gouimenou. “There is a huge market for e-Dispute© and we want to maximise our chances with professionals.”

    Before reaching this point of commercialisation with electronic arbitration, Tiga Technologies, founded by serial entrepreneur Gouimenou in 1997, has followed an instructive and enlightening Rpath. In the late nineties, Tiga
    The e-Dispute© prototype provides fast online arbitration, mediation and conciliation services. Technologies coordinated an ESPRIT programme-funded project called PRONEL involving Hugin, Siemens and Schlumberger. The project developed a special data mining software tool that enabled probabilistic relationships between variables in a dataset to be identified and illustrated in a simple graphical form called a Bayesian network.“When it finished, we continued working on the subject in cooperation with Schlumberger, providing consultancy,” elaborates Gouimenou.
    “We also started the IST-funded project e-Arbitration-T, building on the results achieved in PRONEL.” For e-Arbitration-T, Tiga Technologies and their project partners developed an Internet-based system to help resolve disputes between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). “We developed a platform and autonomous agents capable of reasoning based on experience and that could improve their arbitration behaviour incrementally,” says Gouimenou. Software developed in PRONEL helped with mathematically modelling the relationships and possible outcomes between disputing SMEs, and together with the results from e-Arbitration-T, form the basis of e-Dispute©. Tiga Technologies itself develops software based on learning and distributed intelligence technologies such as neural networks, mobile agents and grid technologies. In turn, the software is applied to a diverse range of industries – e-commerce, telecommunications, finance and insurance and the automotive sector.
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    Friday, January 13, 2006

    Back-Up Plan for Stardust Mission a Three-Year Detour

    If the incoming Stardust spacecraft fails to deliver its capsule carrying a grab bag of interstellar and cometary goodies to Earth this weekend, scientists will have to wait several years before another attempt is possible.As the spacecraft now speeds toward Earth at 4 miles per second, still ahead for mission engineers is a go/no-go capsule separation decision. Space engineers need to assure themselves that all is precisely on track for the capsule’s deployment and skyrocketing descent into Utah. After nearly seven years and 2.88 billion miles of space travel, the NASA Stardust mission is slated to drop off on January 15 its sample return capsule carrying interstellar dust and comet particles.

    Thunderbird 1.5

    The new Thunderbird 1.5 has been released. It does not have a pile of new features, but has some necessary improvements like a new automated update, spell check as you type, built in phishing detector, message aging, many security enhancements & podcasting and other RSS improvements.

    Thursday, January 12, 2006

    Skype is moving

    Skype is announcing a number of new Internet-connected mobile phone devices at CES this week. They are aggresively moving into the telecommunications hardware market, proving that hardware is sometimes as important an element in Web 2.0 businesses as the software and Web platform. We see this same trend with Apple's product line and also Microsoft's products such as Xbox and Media Center.
    Firstly, Skype and NETGEAR have announced a mobile WiFi internet calling phone, which they say is the first such product on the market, but there's more! Skype will announce a whole slew of partners at CES, as the company focuses on more easily integrating Internet calling into the lives of consumers. The following announcements are expected to be made:
    • Creative Skype Internet PhonePLUS – a standalone phone that enables anyone to make free Skype calls over the Internet without a PC connection
    • D-Link Skype USB Phone Adapter (DPH-50U) – a Skype phone adapter that enables the use of Skype on a traditional phone
    • IPEVO Fly-1 Cordless Handset and Xing Speakerphone – PC and Mac compatible.
    • KODAK Photo Voice – a beta version of the first Skype certified online photo sharing service, available as a free download at
    • Panasonic – a cordless telephone product that interfaces directly with Skype, allowing users to make and receive Skype calls and traditional calls using the same device
    • VTech USB7100 Phone – availability of the previously announced VTech USB phone, expandable with up to four handsets and allows users to view their online contacts.
    This was seized 4 u by Reseizer

    Prison inmates to sleep in shifts?

    David Pescovitz: Robert Geddes, Republican president of Idaho's State Senate, suggests that one way to deal with limited space in prisons would be to make inmates share beds by sleeping in shifts. From Reuters:
    "Why does every inmate need his or her own bed?" asked State Sen. Robert Geddes. "The military does it all the time...."- A prison overcrowding expert said the concept has been discussed for years but remains completely untested. - "I can't think of any correctional facility where people share a bunk," said Robert Sigler, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Alabama. - He warned that courts have tended to frown on prisons that are crowding their inmates, whether they have a bed or not. "It's not how many times you rotate that bed, it's how much living space you provide," Sigler said.
    This was seized 4 u by Reseizer

    Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    My Favorites bookmarks manager

    MyLinkVault is a free online favorites manager. Other favorites managers can be so clumsy to use - trying to rearrange your favorites can be slow and frustrating. With MyLinkVault, we've created an easy drag-and-drop interface, so you can rearrange your links and categories quickly and easily - it's just as easy as rearranging the icons on your Windows Desktop!
    Check out the favorites manager from down under!
    Try it out for yourself in the demo - if you like what you see, registering an account is very quick and completely free.

    Computers that feel our mood

    It certainly happened to you to be so frustrated by the 'reactions' of your computer that you wanted to break it. And the computer industry has noticed, trying to build hardware and software as user-friendly as possible. Still, it would be a good idea for your computer to guess when you're about to become mad at it. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany are computers that estimate our emotions. Their solution involves cameras and image analysis, but also special gloves equipped with sensors to record your heartbeat and breathing rate, your blood pressure or your skin temperature. And even if it's difficult to train a computer to interpret emotions, they have enough confidence in their system to demonstrate it at the next CeBIT in March 2006.
    Here is a short introduction to this serious problem.

    Several recent studies have found that computer users not only love and cherish their machines, but very often maltreat them. Experts have identified aggression towards the PC as a genuine problem that deserves greater attention in the academic field. The kicks and blows of frustrated users cause computer damage that cannot be dismissed as negligible, neither in terms of persona property nor on a commercial and economic level. If only for this reason, it would be good for computers to assess their users’ emotions correctly and respond accordingly.

    This problem is about to be solved by Christian Peter, engineer at the department for Human-Centered Interaction Technologies in Rostock, who's working on the Emotions in Speech project.

    How can the computer possibly find out anything about its human operator’s frame of mind? Emotions are given away by peripheral physiological processes. Some of these, such as posture, fidgeting or frowning, are easy to detect and can be observed and classified by a camera with image analysis software. Heartbeat and breathing rate, blood pressure, skin temperature and electrical resistance of the skin,on the other hand, are rather more subtle factors."We have developed a glove that has sensors for measuring parameters like these," says Christian Peter. "It is connected to a device that evaluates and saves the data. We are also working on techniques that will enable computers to interpret facial expressions and extract emotional elements from voice signals." Below is a picture of Peter smiling at its computer and using a glove equipped with sensors transmitting several of his physiological parameters
    (Credit: Fraunhofer IGD).

    originally posted by Roland Piquepaille

    This was seized 4 u by Reseizer

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    Purse shaped like Paris Hilton's dead chihuahua

    Cory Doctorow:

    James Piatt designed this purse (shaped like an upside-down, dead chihuahua with a handle threaded through its stiffened legs) in "an attempt to capitalize on last years trend that involved carrying small accessory animals. To be more specific it pretty obviously represents Paris Hilton's discarded and dead chihuahua."
    Link (Thanks, James from BoingBoing!)
    This was seized 4 u by Reseizer

    Monday, January 09, 2006

    Reviews for mobile shoppers

    There is a report that Toshiba is developing software that will allow people to take a picture of the bar code label of many products, send it to a related service and quickly receive back information related to the product. The data the service returns? From blogs. Yep, Toshiba will send back summary information on how many blogs gave the product positive and negative reviews. Related product information will also be displayed.
    There is no information now about how Toshiba will go about gathering and analyzing blog data, and whether the data will need to be in a structured format or not. It is also unclear as to whether this will initially launch only in Japan or worldwide. I think one of the bigger challenges of the service is pairing the blog data with the bar code. As the service launches, sometime in 2006, I’ll be all over this if I can get access to it. Products covered are primiarily consumer electronics products, food, books, CDs, DVDs and cosmetics. Bar codes on about 400,000 products can be scanned. When the cellphone camera shoots the bar code, the information is automatically sent to a server, which then searches through blogs, or diary-like Web sites, for reviews. About 10 seconds later, a summary will be displayed on the cellphone screen reporting how many blogs were positive and how many were negative. The actual comments on the blogs can also be viewed as well as information on related products. Toshiba categorized about 500,000 Japanese words into fields such as travel and culture, and classified words related to evaluation as good or bad. The fact that Toshiba is looking to edge, consumer driven content instead of a proprietary database to gather product information is stunning. Two thumbs up. I hope it works.
    This was seized 4 u by Reseizer

    Sunday, January 08, 2006


    Airset, a newish collaborative calendar and contacts application that recently integrated nicely with the Skype API integration.
    Office Live will is believed to be the standard once it launches. Until then, there is a window for services like Airset (and others I’ve seen but can’t write about yet) to gain customer traction.
    Here a bit from the AirSet "about" site: AirSet is the next step in the evolution of personal information management from Airena. The website is currently in beta testing and mobile clients will be available this summer. AirSet simplifies life by connecting users' contacts and calendars so information is collaboratively kept up to date - it's easy to set up groups for friends, family, work, and community activities to keep everyone interconnected and synchronized. All at no charge and free of advertising.
    AirSet enables its users to instantly access, update, and backup their information from any location or device: PCs, PDAs or mobile phones. The AirSet MobileClient is a full-fledged application that synchronizes with the AirSet web server to provide constantly updated information whenever the network is in range. You can use the MobileClient and work with your calendar and contacts even when your phone can't reach the network. The AirSet MobileClient requires a nominal monthly fee.