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Spam fails to deliver – Friday 27th February 2004. 2

Spam... 3

Mobile phones are fading fast – Friday 27th February 2004. 3

Emerging Technologies. 3

Spam & Cookies, privacy guaranteed – Sunday 22nd February 2004. 3

Internet surveillance and laws. 3

London’s Congestion Charge – first year report – Saturday 14th February 2004. 4

Transport Traffic Congestion.. 4

Internet surveillance and laws. 4

Mobile phones and cancer – Friday 13th February 2004. 4

Mobiles & Health.. 4

E-democracy. Are E-Voting systems secure? – Thursday 12th February 2004. 5

E-Voting.. 5

Tax - Pay no Tax – Wednesday 11th February 2004. 5

Offshore money & tax.. 5

Slam the spammers and E-mail archived – Friday 6th February 2004. 6

Spam... 6

Internet surveillance and laws. 6

More than one-third of U.S. Internet Users on Broadband – Thursday 22nd January 2004. 6

Broadband.. 7

ITAC investigates disasters and business-continuity  – Friday 16th January 2004. 7

Singapore takes a quantum leap – Friday 16th January 2004. 7

Emerging Technologies. 7

Orwellian Factoids – Friday 16th January 2004. 7

Internet surveillance and laws. 8

READ ORWELL - Will paranoia or intelligent cooperation govern the Information Society in 2004? – Friday 9th January 2004  8

Internet surveillance and laws. 10

Move to higher ground – Floods and global warming – Friday 9th January 2004. 10

Transport Traffic Congestion.. 10

Working fearfully for a long flaccid retirement and a painless death? – Monday 29th December 2003. 10

176 internet Nations sign “Plan of Action” – Monday 9th December 2003. 11

STatistics. 11

SUV’s strike back – Monday 29th December 2003. 11

Transport Traffic Congestion.. 11

Carbon For Sale? – Tuesday 2nd December 2003. 11

Transport Traffic Congestion.. 11

SPAM under fatal attack – Tuesday 2nd December 2003. 11

Spam... 12

Computers that never crash – Tuesday 2nd December 2003. 12

Emerging Technologies. 12

Did ABC predate ENIAC? – Tuesday 2nd December 2003. 12

Paper use up 43% - Tuesday 2nd December 2003. 12

statistics. 12

Can you get your head around quantum computing? – Tuesday 2nd December 2003. 12

Emerging Technologies. 13

Portability - Personal wired and wireless telephone numbers arrive – Wednesday 12th November 2003. 13

Emerging Technologies. 13

London’s Congestion Charging – Rage, Rage and more Rage  – Tuesday 11th November 2003. 13

Transport Traffic Congestion.. 14

National Internet Shopping Day – Saturday 1st November 2003. 14

Statistics. 14

DTX reduces cell-phone damage to brain-cells – Saturday 1st November 2003. 14

Mobiles & Health.. 14

Whatever happened to Carbon Credits? Fires and Floods – Saturday 1st November 2003. 14

Traffic Transport Congestion.. 15

Anti-Spammers to claim $1M – Sunday 12th October 2003. 15

Spam... 15

Son-of-Free-Web in birth pangs. Mesh-Networking. – Friday 10th October 2003. 15

Emerging Technologies. 15

Music recording industry scores – Friday 10th October 2003. 15

Piracy. 15

Electronic paper screens – Wednesday 1st October 2003. 16

Emerging Technologies. 16

Oxford Internet Institute survey – Tuesday 16th September 2003. 16

Statistics. 16

On-site workers down to 49% - Thursday 11th September 2003. 16

Statistics. 16

Mobile phones are safer? – Thursday 11th September 2003. 16

Mobiles & Health.. 17

British government acknowledges telework – Tuesday 9th September 2003. 17

Statistics. 17

First Internet Sperm Bank baby born – Thursday 22nd August 2003. 17

London’s congestion charge update – Thursday 22nd August 2003. 18

Transport Traffic Congestion.. 18

Piracy of copyrighted fine-arts? – Thursday 7th August 2003. 18

Piracy. 18




Spam fails to deliver – Friday 27th February 2004.


Spam now occupies 80% of my incoming email traffic, clogging up my telephone lines, my ISP’s server and the Internet. Friends who were spam free report being invaded by ever increasing numbers of fatter lips, longer penises, larger breasts, other odd products, loans and money-making offers. Yet nobody ever admits to buying any of them nor indeed ever opening the offending emails. For 2 weeks I opened all spam, more than two hundred adverts, most of them repeats, - copied it all to my ISP, BT, who promised by email to track down every abuse and punish the spammers severely – but in total secrecy, i.e. they are not allowed (by whom) to report back to me – AND I tried to order the products. None of the offers were real. None of the adverts carried web or email or postal addresses that worked. None had a mechanism to relieve me of money. None are actually trying to sell anything. So what is the game? Who benefits from these utterly useless communications? It seems the only marginal gain is to telephone networks via an increased telephone connection time – which is at local call rates and, I was told, in the USA is largely free. Any ideas?




Mobile phones are fading fast – Friday 27th February 2004.


Citizens of a quiet and reflective disposition may be delighted to learn that mobile phones are reaching the “feature creep” event horizon at which even lithium-ion batteries cannot deliver enough power to support the gadgets and gimmicks now bundled into mobiles. A lithium-ion battery delivers 2 watts; 1.2 watts is used for data and voice communications; radio-internet contacts like Bluetooth use 0.4 watts; games and choice-settings use 0.9 watts (that makes 2.5 watts); advanced features memory needs 0.2 watts and music audio etc. uses 0.3 watts – taking the total to 3.0 watts. While battery power has increased 3 times in the last decade, it needs to improve by 10% a year to feed new features. But, before the more mature of us zimmer-out to a celebratory uninterrupted choral recital, it only needs a fashion change to chunkier phones, making room for bigger batteries, to give the customers what they are told they want. Don’t throw away the ear plugs yet.

Emerging Technologies


Spam & Cookies, privacy guaranteed – Sunday 22nd February 2004.


“Cookies currently give web site operators a great deal of information they will be reluctant to lose”, says journalist Duncan Graham-Rowe in New Scientist 21 Feb 04. He reports that a package called WEbMetric developed at the University of Strathclyde will give web site visitors the ability to delete information extracted by site cookies at the end of the visit. This, we take it to mean, will enable people to, for example, file their tax returns on-line with the UK authorities, impossible unless cookies are enabled, and then withhold whatever personal information the tax authorities extract via the cookies. It seems like a score for privacy and away from surveillance.  Cookies are probably a source of internet spam lists.


Internet surveillance and laws


London’s Congestion Charge – first year report – Saturday 14th February 2004


Though beset by controversy, London’s Congestion £5 a day Charge seems to be persuading Londoners to take the bus and leave their cars at home. With 4% fewer cars in the charging zone, the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) reports that traffic has speeded up from a walking pace of 2.9mph to a jogging gait of 7.4mph.  Transport for London (TfL) which operates the scheme claims that bus use is up by 47% to 103,000 passengers a day.  However, the AA (Automobile Association) abhors the ‘zero tolerance’  attitude of the bunkered traffic spies behind the surveillance camera’s, computers and car recognition software who have punished drivers with 35,000 disputed penalty notices, one issued to a man who entered the zone 23 seconds before 6.30pm when the charge ends. Three quarters of the 35,000 appeals succeeded. How many penalties are issued and paid is a closely guarded secret. The charges raise £68 million against a forecast £200 million per annum. The costs are said to be £120 million.  Having suffered the crude hostility of the present CAPITA inhuman computer system – and with huge effort won several apologies - I wrote to Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, with this suggestion to save TfL £100 million.


Friday 13th FEB 04 - “My suggestion for London congestion charging is to gate every entrance to the zone (say 100 gates), hire fit, calm pensioners to man the gates and advise, have nets to catch the £5 (in coins), provide turning places for lost drivers, scrap the nasty surveillance cameras, sociopathic computers, hostile "help-lines" courts, fines, bullying, rage, notices, and bailiffs - and reduce the costs from £100 million a year to (100 x £20,000) to £2 million - and have a flexible, human, friendly system, which will win votes for the Mayor.


Transport Traffic Congestion

Internet surveillance and laws


Mobile phones and cancer – Friday 13th February 2004


This article in the EC magazine CORDIS FOCUS, 9 Feb 2004, could have been written by a spin doctor from Perfidious Albion. The headline says “No link between mobile phones and cancer, concludes Danish study” which is unambiguous. The article then refers to the ongoing INTERPHONE studies for IARC and reassures readers that Danish researchers have found no risk. (See the 200,000 person study below - Mobile phones are safer? – Thursday 11th September 2003 and 1st Nov 03.)

INTERPHONE is following up 8,000 cancer sufferers and 10,000 control subjects in 13 EU countries. But the article actually concludes in contrast to its headline and main content that “It will be some time however, before researchers can say once and for all that mobile phones pose no long term health risks….” 

It’s a good job that media journalists and the general public don’t simply rely on headlines before buying mobiles for their children. 

See our archived news on the mobile phones and health MORE NEWS from June 2002.\index_files\NEWS-page2.htm

Mobiles & Health


E-democracy. Are E-Voting systems secure? – Thursday 12th February 2004


The answer is, NO, not yet. Most systems would replace the highly visible humans counting bits of paper with software programmers counting invisible and secret electronic signals. Programmers are also human, some might say, and therefore can be cajoled, bribed, beaten and manipulated. Hackers can intercept E-votes and delete or alter them. Australia has a partial solution to the mutual suspicion and paranoia – they opt for open source software which any concerned citizen can study. But, is the version being studied the same version as used in the election? Journalist Anil Ananthaswamy in New Scientist 14 Feb 04, cites many parties concerned about the subject including: Douglas Kellner, commissioner of New York’s board of elections; State of Maryland where 16,000 vote machines are being installed; the post Florida chad Help America Vote Act; California; Georgia; Broward County Florida; Michigan; Election Systems and Software of Omaha Nebraska; Michael Wertheimer of RABA Technologies of Columbia Maryland; manufacturers Diebold; 100 million e-voted in Brazil and India has used e-voting; David Dill at Stamford University Calif; Ted Selker at MIT; Rebecca Mercuri at Harvard University; and finally SERVE Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment.  Send your secure system ideas on a postcard to Jed Bush, Governors Mansion, Florida.



Tax - Pay no Tax – Wednesday 11th February 2004


What do Delaware USA, Cayman Islands, Monaco, Switzerland, Jersey, Dublin, Bermuda, Hong Kong, London, Singapore, Isle of Man and Panama have in common? They are all international tax havens, along with dozens of other dubious locations around the world. And all individual teleworkers can now cheaply route their transactions through these places – and pay no tax to the communities that created their wealth. Software is available to plan where to cook the books, where to open offshore accounts and how to dress up fraudulent transactions to fool the tax authorities.  Lawyers, if paid in advance, will murmur comfortingly about the legality of it all. Time Magazine (16 FEB 04) tells us that KPMG have made $124 million in fees for “potentially illegal” tax-haven advice. The International Monetary Fund says that $7 trillion ($7,000,000,000,000) in assets are held in offshore hideaways. The US loses from $54 to $70 billion a year and it’s a safe bet that Europe loses the same as do the Pacific Rim countries. But, despite the World’s immense computing powers and banking software, it seems that the tax authorities are helpless. So don’t be a tax paying mug – stop now. Register a company in Delaware with a bank account in Bermuda (only one director or member required – secrecy guaranteed) and have the company send you an emailed invoice for your entire income – and pay it. You then have no taxable income and your cash is offshore – and you pay no taxes. For advice on how to word the invoice – contact your local KPMG office, Parmalat, Enron, any large corporation, or your local friendly tax collector.


Will tax-havens survive the Information Society? See\index_files\09_futurtele5_rmr.htm


Offshore money & tax 



Slam the spammers and E-mail archived – Friday 6th February 2004.


Brightmail Logistics & Operations Center provided this analysis of unsolicited email offerings made in December 2003:


Products 21%

Adult 18%

Financial 18%

Scams 9%

Health 3%

Internet 6%

Leisure 6%

Fraud 3%

Spiritual 3%

Political 2%

Other 8%


Celeste Biever of New Scientist (7 Feb 04) reports that delegates at the annual MIT Spam Conference are hot on the trail of new spam busters including LMAP that will check the claimed email sender (spammers steal and counterfeit innocent addresses) with the actual email sender and block disparities. AOL and Yahoo are using authentication software, SPF and Domain-Keys respectively, to tie messages to their source. In theory these systems will force spammers to use real domain names – making them easier to find and sue. Spam accounts for 58% of all email.  In the meantime InfoEdge is selling a 300 page guide to the US new CAN-SPAM Act (Jan 04) – via of course, spamming.



Email stored - In the UK local governments and agencies are installing email archiving and are cross indexing them to ensure that, for example, vetting processes such as that which failed to identify the old police child abuse records and emails about Ian Huntley, who then got a job as a school caretaker and went on to kill two children, will not recur. In theory the new systems will collect and collate all the electronic references about an applicant, from all official agencies.

Internet surveillance and laws



More than one-third of U.S. Internet Users on Broadband – Thursday 22nd January 2004.

News Release, January 2004 – source Wendell Joice, an ITAC director.

In the USA the numbers of adults who are online at home, in the office, at school, library or other location continue to grow at a modest rate. Broadband use is growing much more rapidly. In research among 2,033 adults surveyed by telephone in November and December 2003, Harris Interactive found that 69 percent of adults are now online, up from 67 percent in late 2002, 64 percent in late 2001, 63 percent in 2000 and 56 percent in 1999. This growth in Internet penetration is a result of increased Internet access at both home and work. The proportion of adults who are now online at home has risen to 61 percent, up from 57 percent in 2002 and 52 percent in 2001. Those online at work have risen modestly to 31 percent from 28 percent in 2002 and 2001. By far the most striking change in this new Harris Interactive research is the big increase in those with broadband connections. Less than two years ago, only 22 percent of adults online had broadband (including ISDN, cable, ADSL/DSC, T1 and T3 lines) connections. By November/December 2002, this had increased to 27 percent. It is now up to 37 percent, or more than one-third, of all those online. As Internet penetration rises, the demographic profile of Internet users looks more like that of the nation as a whole. It is still true that more young than older people, and more affluent than low-income people, are online. But 7 percent of those online are now over 65 (compared to 15 percent of all adults who are over 65), 40 percent of those online (compared to 47 percent of all adults) did not go to college and 15 percent have incomes of less than $25,000 (compared to 19 percent of adults).




ITAC investigates disasters and business-continuity  Friday 16th January 2004


 The International Telework Association and Council (ITAC) has been awarded a $90,000 research contract from AT&T, to report on the application of telework for business continuity following natural and man-made disasters. US statistics say that in 2003 there were 59 major disasters and 19 emergencies; 40% of small businesses closed by such disasters do not restart. ITAC will produce a how-to Guide for organisations, encouraging them to organise around networks instead of buildings. Contact ITAC director:


Singapore takes a quantum leap – Friday 16th January 2004


Singapore embraced broadband and the wired economy over a decade ago and justifiably claimed to be the most wired community on Earth. Now a joint university and government venture is experimenting with “unbreakable” cryptology, for all that transmitted data, by firing photons from building top to building top. First they will fire single photons to ensure true aim, and then they will transmit entangled pairs. The quantum theory is that paired photons ever-after commune with each other, so by splitting them and transmitting them separately the twins carry the same information. It takes just a few entangled photons, coded perhaps by being passed through diverse polarising filters, to convey an encoding formula. If however the photons are intercepted en-route by a spy, the senders and receivers instantly know this and switch to a new cryptogram. I recommend The Code Book by Simon Singh – Fourth Estate, for the clearest explanation of this inexplicable, counter-intuitive science.

Emerging Technologies


Orwellian Factoids – Friday 16th January 2004 


Guardian researcher Luc Torres tells us that the UK has 5,000 traffic cameras, costing £32,000 each, issuing 2 million fines a year. The first was erected in 1992, governed by the Road Traffic Act 1991. Thames Valley cameras collected £4.6 million in 2003. Here’s my view on this aspect of the Information Society:


Letters Editor

Guardian Newspapers

By Fax and Email


Thursday 15th January 2004.


Polly Toynbee in The Guardian 14th January makes an impassioned and arithmetically inaccurate case, for speed cameras, dismissing and insulting any critics as “right-wing”. And in the Guardian supplement Paul Kelso describes those opposed to cameras as “splenetic”. They seem oblivious to the justice of the drivers’ complaints which includes deep anger at being spied upon, the automatic assumption of “guilt” and the elevation of machine intelligence above human judgement and human rights.

Laws must be fair and reasonable. The speed limits, now being robotically enforced, were created for clumsy pre and post war vehicles and roads, on the basis that a police car would follow a suspect vehicle, which assumed careless driving, and measure its speed. If society persists with Orwellian surveillance and robot-courts, traffic laws need to be adjusted to meet modern conditions.

I have two friends in danger of losing their licenses to speed-cameras; both are grandparents, both work full time in the caring professions and need their cars, both are and have been safe and conscientious drivers for forty-years. Until such blameless citizens can drive again without the additional stress of twitching (and emergency braking) at every roadside yellow square, their anger at being branded as criminals by robots will escalate. 

(NB – Serious journalists citing accident statistics need to start with the fact that about 70% of the population (40 million) use the roads as drivers, passengers, cyclists or pedestrians each work-day. 600,000 people die every year – 1,643 a day. How many of us will therefore die “naturally” in transit and possibly cause an accident as we shuffle-off this mortal-coil? What percentage of the travelling public does this represent? How many die in accidents in the home or at work? Calculations on a postcard to The Guardian). 


Noel Hodson


Internet surveillance and laws


READ ORWELL - Will paranoia or intelligent cooperation govern the Information Society in 2004? – Friday 9th January 2004


New Year in the global village kicked-off with a cornucopia of tremulous delights for conspiracy theorists and paranoids. 


Airports announced that the man sitting next to you with a bulge in his trousers may not be merely pleased to see you but may also be a six-gun toting Air-Marshal, ready and willing to blow a hole in your plane at 30,000 feet, rather than risk it being hi-jacked as a terrorist weapon. And they made no apologies for the hours and days of delays while middle-eastern names on passenger lists to Washington DC were checked, rechecked and checked again; nor for the processing time needed to photograph and fingerprint entrants to the US.


The UK competed with a paranoids’ chocolate coated fudge treat of its own – announcing the Inquest by the Royal Coroner (what does he do between royal corpses?) into the deaths in Paris 6 years ago of Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, to be preceded by a scrumptious year long Police investigation into the conspiracy theories – to include an explanation, we are told, of why the French took 75 minutes to get Diana to hospital and why Diana had written a letter claiming that Prince Charles was plotting to dispose of her by tampering with her car. To add icing sugar to the chocolate coating, Leader of The Conservative Party, newly elected Michael Howard, a barrister, slammed into the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, with an unanswerable and fatal Catch-22 question about the Mysterious Death of Dr David Kelly, the UK’s best loved Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction expert. But as Tony Blair was also trained as a barrister, he reduced the killer question to one of mere semantics, a logical conundrum, and told the world to wait for the pending Hutton Report into Dr Kelly’s intriguing death.


All this wonderfully diverting news was accompanied in the UK by howls of protest from motorists threatened with even more camera-traps and instant penalties administered by “privatised” traffic wardens and computer-courts, out to make a quick buck. In a land that already has 3,500 traffic cameras that in 2003 entrapped over 2 million busy, law abiding drivers for trivial offences, threatening their licenses, many observers are prophesying unparalleled civil disobedience against traffic computer-courts and robot-judges.  I predict more physical violence from motorists against these auto-camera-computer-systems, and there will be extreme road rage cases where vehicles are used as deadly weapons.  There are simple and pacific solutions but the computer surveillance industry seems to be dead set on war – which the public will quickly win.  In the meantime the Music and Recording and Film Industries are closing in, with draconian penalties and unbreakable technology, on the pirates, mostly teenagers, who copy their wares and swap them over the Internet. Did we never swap vinyl discs, copyright comics and paperback books – without bankrupting the producers.


What has this to do with the information society in 2004 and with teleworkers?  We are all coming under an ever increasing burden of surveillance with ever more apparent “justification”, and its very dangerous for a free society.


Outside Washington Dulles Airport, opposite a poster warning of extra security measures, another poster exhorts the world to “READ ORWELL”.  We of the West all know of course that it refers to George Orwell, author of 1984, Animal Farm and other chilling tales of abusive power and politics.  The tools of 1984 have arrived and it is the task of this generation to ensure they lead to fairness and justice, not to secret-police, mid-night arrests, central control and mad dictatorships.


Like it or like it not; admit it or live in denial – everything we teleworkers put on our computers is already vetted. Use email and your emails are read. Search the internet and your searches are recorded. Transact business and your business is known. None of this matters if the rulers are intelligent, sane, honest and benevolent – we all simply have to get used to the fact that we are all human and all have something to hide – even if it is just our credit card numbers.

The dangerous people, who lust for power, are those who deny their own humanity, claim perfection, commune with god and who wish to dictate. They are the mad, the bad, the delusional and the paranoid.  History demonstrates that the human race has a strong tendency to admire the mad and to invest our power in them. Before they start torturing and murdering and leading us into wars, these crazies seem to offer us certainty of thought and much entertainment value, which we call charisma – Hitler, Stalin, Pinochet, Saddam Hussein, the serial killer Henry 8th, etcetera. Mad leader after mad leader can be added to the list – who between them have murdered more than 50 million innocent souls. As Mad’s close relatives, Fear and Greed, the alleged twin drivers of capitalist markets, sniff out the Internet – they are trying to govern it, and through it, the whole world. This is the challenge for 2004 and for the next hundred years; Spot the Looney – and Stop the Looney before he gains power. The alternative to being governed by paranoid greed and fear is to indulge in intelligent-cooperation – and the Internet is ideal for promoting that very sane practice. READ ORWELL.

Internet surveillance and laws


Move to higher ground – Floods and global warming – Friday 9th January 2004


Telework is also involved in the King Canute battle to hold back the rising tides. And it will lose. One of the common motives for promoting telework has from the outset been to save the planet by reducing traffic and fuel burned. Instead of intelligent-cooperation taking us in that direction, and despite 30 million or more teleworkers cutting back on commuting, the world is burning up more fuel than ever and the ice caps and glaciers are visibly melting. The Mad, Fearful and Greedy have increasingly opted for ever larger off-road, 10 miles per gallon, 4-wheel drive vehicles – SUV’s – to transport their fat, unhealthy, diabetic kids to suburban schools and to clog up narrow city streets. What will it take to put a legal cap on household car sizes? Perhaps the 70 foot long, 12 foot wide Mack-Truck I’m about to buy to ferry my grandchildren safely to their London school will raise a few official eyebrows.


President George Bush has rewarded and encouraged these urban SUV road consumers with 100% tax allowances. The USA already imports 50% of the oil it needs and is desperately searching the planet for more. It’s a mad world.


When the rock bound southern Antarctic ice cap melts, measuring about 3,000 miles by 3,000 miles by 3 miles high, the liberated water will flow over the surface of the oceans and raise the level by about 180 feet or 60 metres. In the past five years, popular press reports have shifted from measuring sea-level rises in mm’s (millimetres) to inches, to feet and now to metres. Similarly popular reports on the shrinking of mountain glaciers have also shifted their measuring units by 1,000 times and their forecasts have shrunk from being expressed in hundreds of years to single years. Have no doubt that the ice is melting.  It could all be reversed or at least delayed by hundreds of years. We could all use 6 foot long, 80 MPG, SMART cars, all telework and invest in truly efficient goods distribution systems and clean energy generators. But we won’t. London Flood Barriers now issue a map showing the 5 metre (15 foot) contour, of London homes already below current flood levels – but protected by Thames barriers. Water goes round walls. It will get in. The solution (no pun intended) is to move to higher ground, invest in tundra farmland in northern Canada and Russia – and for your grandchildren, buy acres of Antarctica – and remember that frozen continent will itself rise 100 feet as the massive weight of the ice cap melts away.  If I were younger, I might believe that sane, intelligent-cooperation will intervene and save us all a lot of disruption.

Transport Traffic Congestion


Working fearfully for a long flaccid retirement and a painless death? – Monday 29th December 2003


You might instead take a leaf out of Cheryl Stearns’ book of life. Cheryl is preparing to take the skydiving crown by leaping from 130,000 feet (25 miles) high. She will jump from the edge of space and plummet at 1,150 kilometres per hour (719 mph) before friction slows her to 240 kph – at which speed we assume she can deploy her chute.  You are going to die anyway – so why not take a risk or two and enjoy life? (Article by Barry E Di Gregorio, Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, Wales.)


176 internet Nations sign “Plan of Action” – Monday 9th December 2003


The United Nations hosted a conference held in Geneva on the Information Society for 10,000 delegates. The outcome is an agreement to aim to give half the world’s population access to the internet by 2015. Currently 3% use the internet. 97% of the world’s 6 billion people are excluded.  No mechanism to reach the 50% target was agreed.



SUV’s strike back – Monday 29th December 2003 


Green vigilantes in the US are attacking gas guzzling and road congesting SUV’s (sports utility vehicles) but New Scientist reports that the monster vehicles are fighting to the death; pedestrians and cyclists are twice as likely to die when hit by an SUV than when struck by a standard saloon car. They not only look macho - they are macho. 4,000 US pedestrian deaths a year have not persuaded the authorities to consider impact regulations. 

Transport Traffic Congestion


Carbon For Sale? – Tuesday 2nd December 2003.


While Carbon Credits markets still seem to be a mirage over the future horizon, Tom Delay CEO of the Carbon Trust writing in Green Futures magazine tells us that from 2005 the EU Emissions Trading Scheme will require organisations to reduce CO2 output “over time”. Tom Delay argues that cutting down carbon cuts costs – now – and that all organisations should tackle the issue immediately. 

(See below - Whatever happened to Carbon Credits? Fires and Floods – Saturday 1st November 2003)

Transport Traffic Congestion


SPAM under fatal attack – Tuesday 2nd December 2003


USA legislation is making it very risky for spammers to continue dumping their unwelcome adverts on our computers. From this month fines of up to a million dollars per incident can be levied unless the recipient has previously agreed to be emailed by the seller. In addition AT&T has announced a patented system for all known methods of circumventing spamming barriers. On the one hand AT&T is telling the spammers how to circumvent but on the other hand will then sue them for breach of patents.  While I am wholly for the anti-spamming lobby - as within the past 4 months some 60% of my incoming mail is suddenly become spam; recently offering me, a 60 year old conservative male “plumper-lips” along with untold wealth, unlimited loans, immense penis’s and breast implants - I have some anxiety for the freedom of the internet.  My philosopher friend tells me that we cannot have the “free” without the “dom/e”; which I suppose is another way of saying that power and responsibility are opposite sides of the same coin. So, YES, let’s mercilessly liquidate the spammers.  I had thought that the sudden surge in spam on my email was due to some vagabond at BT, my ISP, selling names on CD’s to rogue marketers. But BT tell me the reason my spam is addressed only to countless thousands at BTConnect is that spammers collect names by categories and group them together. Do we believe them or are BT simply increasing my email connection time by 3 times?



Computers that never crash – Tuesday 2nd December 2003


Will Knight writing in New Scientist reports that software named Nooks makes Linux operating systems almost crash-proof and that it might be developed for Windows. The largest single cause of crashes comes from plug-in peripheral drivers. Nooks interposes an editor between the software and the operating system and prevents faulty software from loading.  It does however absorb a lot of power that slows down the system leaving users with a choice between speed and stability.

Emerging Technologies


Did ABC predate ENIAC? – Tuesday 2nd December 2003


Paul Collins in New Scientist tracks the argument over who was first to create an electro-mechanical computer – John Atanasoff  and his student John Berry in a dingy basement in Ames, Florida in 1941, or John Mauchly at Sperry Rand in 1942. Sperry Rand claimed that ABC did not work and therefore ENIAC was the first. History will judge. (ABC Atanasoff Berry Computer; ENIAC Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer)


Paper use up 43% - Tuesday 2nd December 2003


New Scientist reports that far from the paperless office becoming a reality, it recedes from us at the speed of light.  Since the paperless office was confidently predicted in about 1999, while information stored on paper has reduced from 0.3% to 0.1%, the huge rise in information and the preference people have for reading on paper rather than on-screen, has created a 43% increase in paper used, the largest use by far being for office documents.



Can you get your head around quantum computing? – Tuesday 2nd December 2003


Jeremy O’Brien and Geoff Pryde at the Centre for Quantum Computing Technology, University of Queensland in Brisbane are currently acknowledged to be leading the field. Jenny Hogan in New Scientist tells us that “Quantum computing requires two kinds of manipulation. The first, a single qubit operation, changes a “0” to a “1” by flipping the spin of an atom from one direction to another, or changing the polarisation of a photon, for example. This is relatively straightforward.” As one still struggling to understand punched card readers, I am glad to hear that quantum computing is simple – but, “The second type of manipulation in which a logic gate compares the value of two qubits, is a lot more tricky.” The trick apparently is to pass “a pair of photons through a set of beam splitters and mirrors designed to create a complex interference pattern. The process forces the photons to share the same quantum state, allowing the gate to carry out its bit-flip.”  Still with us? The outcome will be that even small quantum computers will be far more powerful than today’s most powerful supercomputers.  Order yours now to avoid disappointment.

Emerging Technologies


Portability - Personal wired and wireless telephone numbers arrive – Wednesday 12th November 2003


From the 24th November, this month, USA telephone companies will have to accommodate customers in the largest 100 metropolitan areas, who want calls switched to their fixed-line wired telephone number or mobile phone number. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set the deadline for the change in portability to increase competition in the telephone market. Between 4.5 and 10 million USA subscribers no longer have a fixed line and rely solely on their mobile phones. The New York Times quotes Roger Entner of the Yankee Group “The floodgates have opened – this is a big win for the wireless industry. This is what they have sought.” Both the wired and wireless providers are nervous about this change – both fearing they may lose business to the other and both faced with technological problems to comply with the ruling. A problem highlighted by Wired News is that the geographic areas for mobiles are far larger than the familiar wired “rate centers”, creating a substantial mismatch for call-switching mechanisms. The rate centers, which have for decades defined what is a local or a long distance call and provided the local area code, are the major obstacle to subscribers taking their phone number with them when they re-locate. Mobile phone numbers are roving numbers and most mobile providers can now offer national and international connectivity. The FCC will impose the regulations across the whole US by 24th May 2004. Full portability may take some years but the shift to portability is likely to be a powerful force and be felt within a few weeks. 

Emerging Technologies


London’s Congestion Charging – Rage, Rage and more Rage  Tuesday 11th November 2003


First and foremost my wife not only did not have to pay the charge but also received a written apology (see Cinderella Syndrome Thursday 22nd August 03 below). And – moreover, I accidentally wandered into the system, was unjustly found “guilty” in a UK Courtroom by the resident judge – a damned computer, and after I had made about 20 enraged phone calls, written to the Queen, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Attorney General, my Member of Parliament and all lesser authorities in the UK, and challenged the Mayor of London to a pugilistic punch-up on the steps of City Hall, I received 3 letters of apology, but no flowers. Beware of Orwellian Surveillance and the nightmare of unstoppable, relentless computer systems. New Scientist reports that London expects to earn £68 million this year from charges (but it costs £120M to operate - Editor) and has reduced car traffic by 60%. Thus bus journeys are faster and everyone is happy (except the traders whose businesses are in ruins – Editor – and there is hardly an English man or woman who is not outraged and enraged by the way the system operates). So if your City intends to copy the system – make sure the Notices are polite, reach the correct addresses and don’t get innocent people thrown into prison – or there will be violence done. Can you imagine my raging problems happening in New York where most drivers are armed? My solution: - do away with the surveillance-cameras, install barriers and nets at each boundary into the zone for drivers to throw the £5 charge into, employ one-guard per barrier, open the barriers out of charging hours, make a turning area for lost drivers; then there will be no mistakes, no expensive and faulty computer system, no arrogant Help-Line operators in bunkers 30 miles from London, no threatening cameras on 50 foot poles, no follow up fines, no arguments, no courts – in all very much cheaper and user friendly. Low tech works.


For the full fisticuffs at dawn report – click\index_files\roadrage.htm


Transport Traffic Congestion


National Internet Shopping Day – Saturday 1st November 2003


A report in Green Futures Magazine by journalist Hannah Bullock tells us that the 24th July 2003 was National Internet Shopping Day. The date was chosen because in American-speak it is written as 24/7. Twenty-four of seven translates as 24 hour shopping, 7 days a week and the Internet certainly has brought that mixed blessing into our lives. Hannah Bullock reports e-shopping in the UK is currently 6% of the retail market and is set to grow to 40% over the next 3 years but, citing the distribution of the latest Harry Potter book, she wonders if the delivery of internet goods to teleworkers and tele-shoppers is good or bad for the environment.




DTX reduces cell-phone damage to brain-cells – Saturday 1st November 2003


The wildcat postal strikes in the UK have stimulated me to re-read back issues of New Scientist. The 13th September edition reported that Prof. Colin Blakemore, the new head of the UK’s Medical Research Council, encourages children using cell-phones to listen more than they speak as DTX technology (discontinuous transmission) reduces the transmission power from 240 milliwatts to 28.8 milliwats when receiving rather than sending. Children are particularly susceptible to any dangers that cell-phones might pose. With camera-cell-phones now available, the prophetic intelligence of the Victorian advice that “children should be seen and not heard” might at last be recognised.

Mobiles & Health


Whatever happened to Carbon Credits? Fires and Floods – Saturday 1st November 2003


 An article by Toby Belsom of Morely Fund Management about measures being implemented by energy companies such as Scottish and Southern Electricity under the EU Emissions Trading Directive, reminded me of forecasts by US telework consultants, made in 1998, that Carbon Credits Trading would accelerate telework as major employers claimed cash compensation and trade-offs for the carbon saved by the reduced travel of their teleworkers. The prophets were certainly right that teleworker numbers would grow, but has anyone ever seen a Carbon Credit Certificate or seen any employer measuring the carbon benefits of telework?  The background picture is illustrated by today’s news from the New York Times that Republican John McCain has failed to interest his Republican colleagues in the US Senate in the issue of Global Warming. The raging bush fires which, this week, have tragically decimated homes in Southern California and Mexico; earlier in the summer attacked communities at the same latitudes in France and Spain and have become a familiar factor around Sydney in the Australian summer months. Such desertification has long been predicted by environmental scientists along with more extreme floods and winds. So, take my advice and move north, to higher ground.


Traffic Transport Congestion


Anti-Spammers to claim $1M – Sunday 12th October 2003.


We are again indebted to New Scientist for the news item that California will introduce a new law from the 1st January 2004 enabling $1M per incident fines to be charged to spammers. After 1st January, all spammers will have to operate “opt-in” lists in contrast to today’s opt-out methods – or pay $1 million dollars. The article says such laws are already in force in the UK and Australia. Whereas my UK email, after three years of no spam is suddenly inundated with rubbish which my ISP, BT, seems impotent to stop. Where do I send the £1 million invoices?



Son-of-Free-Web in birth pangs. Mesh-Networking. – Friday 10th October 2003.


New Scientist correspondent Danny O’Brien writes about the emergence of new wireless technologies, Mesh-networking and Wi-Fi, that one-day may free the Internet from cables, wires and telecoms and return the network to the Arcadian days when it was free to computer users. Pioneer Jon Anderson is tramping the streets of London fixing small dishes and aerials to walls and gateposts, high and low, to test mesh-networks of ordinary desktop computers fitted with cheap Wi-Fi cards. The theory requires every node, a computer, to agree to receive and transmit messages from its near neighbours, and thereby create a mesh. Some 70 new or proposed packet transfer systems, from minnows and from giants such as Nokia, are competing to become the standard to transmit data across mesh-networks. Many obstacles have to be overcome to make mesh-networking a reality for the majority. Protocols that presently control internet packet switching won’t work for mesh-networking where the loudest “voice”, the most powerful wireless transmission,  blocks weaker signals and offers no way for them to be heard or even recognised. Hills, valleys, winds and radio programmes can all block the new networks, requiring better aerials, clearer routes and agreed protocols. However, when these are solved, mesh-networks can start with two computers and grow organically to encompass the world. At a guess, they will flourish in regions that are poorly served by wires, where investment decisions must choose between laying cables or opting for wireless transmissions. Privacy will be just about impossible – but that is probably true now. 

Emerging Technologies


Music recording industry scores – Friday 10th October 2003


New Scientist reports that a music downloading service KaZaZa has experienced a 41% fall in activity since the music industry sued 261 individuals including a 12 year old for “pirating” records. Apple in the USA and Microsoft in Europe (no relation?) now offer legal downloads at 99cents a track. (Look for the blue icon below for related items).



Electronic paper screens – Wednesday 1st October 2003


Robert Hayes and BJ Feenstra at Philips Research Laboratories in Eindhoven, Netherlands, and teams at several other organisations including E-Ink at MIT, Xerox subsidiary Gyricon and Hitachi, are developing paper, or perhaps T-Shirt materials, that can act like a video screen. In the Philip’s system, the material is coated with tiny pixels, each containing three sub-pixels holding one of three colours and water. The water moves when an electric current is passed, revealing or hiding the colour, or appearing as black. Though still too slow for laptop screens, the researchers are confident that the system will be used for laptops and for chameleon textiles that can change colour. – Such a development was envisioned by telework expert Gil Gordon many years ago when he suggested that to solve, once and for all time, the difficulty young courting bucks have of displaying their enviable and expensive cars, suits, jewellery, art collections and furniture while closeted in cramped if fashionable clubs, they could wear screen-sweatshirts, on-line to their bank that displayed real-time bank balances and investments; the ultimate wearable computer.  

Emerging Technologies


Oxford Internet Institute survey – Tuesday 16th September 2003.   


(the detailed survey results are on our Statistics Page, via the Front page link above) -  The OxIS survey found that the average person has access to the Internet in at least two out of four places: home, work, school or at a public library. Only four percent of the British population lacks ready access. Among Britons aged 14 and over, 59% currently use the Internet. Among those still in school, 98% are Internet users and 67% among people of working age. 22% of retirees use the Internet. Among those who do not use the Internet, half are informed but indifferent; 7 percent are proxy users, who have asked for a friend to sign on the Internet on their behalf. The UK ' …will have to wait a generation or more before nine-tenths of Britons regularly use the Internet', declares Professor Rose. There will be 34% off line by 2004. Eleven percent of the population now has Internet access to broadband at home.

Contact Professor Richard Rose, who directed the survey, at or phone 01436-672164 or 00-44-(0)1865-287210.



On-site workers down to 49% - Thursday 11th September 2003


A survey of USA workers published in COMPUTERWORLD, 8th September 2003, shows that traditional office and workplace work is now below 50% giving mobile work in its widest form the majority. See our statistics page for the table - BASE: 2,057 adults working at companies with 500 or more employees, Source: American Business Collaboration, 2002 (Percentages add up to 99% due to rounding).\index_files\teleworkstatistics.htm




Mobile phones are safer? – Thursday 11th September 2003


On this sombre anniversary of the terrible 9/11 disaster when so many harrowing mobile phone messages from people trapped in the twin towers were recorded and replayed to the world, comes news for inveterate mobile and cordless phone users. According to a report in New Scientist 13th September 2003, researchers are casting doubts on earlier work, (see items  below - 25th October 02 and 29th August 02) that showed mobile phones could cause brain tumours and other problems through heating of the tissues and brain cells near the earpiece. Now the jury is out and is waiting for the conclusions of a major study in 14 countries by the World Health Organisation, that looks back from a population of people with cancer to their telephone habits, and a 200,000 person study headed by Paul Elliot at Imperial College London, that looks forward from phone users to monitor the future incidence of cancer. Mays Swicord, scientific advisor to Motorola, is interviewed in the same New Scientist edition and claims that there is no link between phone use and brain tumours. These studies will take years to complete – there are parallels here with the decades long tobacco industry battle over smoking and cancer, conducted while many died before products were branded as dangerous. Perhaps mobile phones are as addictive as nicotine?

Mobiles & Health


British government acknowledges telework – Tuesday 9th September 2003.


After a decade of lukewarm interest in telework and new work contracts the UK Government via the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have headlined “agreed” telework guidelines on their web-site.


The Guidelines and commentary, published in plain language, boldly address several contentious subjects that some other official guidelines carefully avoid, such as taxing teleworkers, trade union rights and defining what telework is. The statistics cited by the DTI remain unconvincing and timid, saying there are two-million UK teleworkers. As long ago as 1997 some of the main pollsters (MORI, GALLUP etc) found up to 4 million UK teleworkers. But the statistics in turn depend on definitions of teleworkers. (see\index_files\teleworkstatistics.htm  ). As more agencies publish guidelines it is useful to compare them (see 




“It is like the entire power grid is being run by Homer Simpson” NPR Reporter Ed Ungar on the 14th August 2003 blackout. (taken from New Scientist). How many teleworkers lost computer files during the crisis?


First Internet Sperm Bank baby born – Thursday 22nd August 2003. claims its first success with the birth of a 10lb 2oz boy to a heterosexual couple in the south-east of England. The donor and the website escape laws governing fertility clinics via a loophole about “fresh-sperm”. The transaction is described as insemination by email but no reports reveal the precise steps involved. If fresh sperm can indeed be transmitted by email it will give a whole new connotation to Spam; and to computer viruses.  Remember to clean up your personal computer after use.


London’s congestion charge update – Thursday 22nd August 2003.


The Guardian Newspaper yesterday reported that the £5 a day charge for entering central London by car is expected to yield gross income of £65 million instead of the planned £130 million. Subsidies to bus companies have been increased by £500 million. This reflects on earlier reports that the programme has reduced cars by 40% instead of the planned 10% and the decline in shop sales.


The Cinderella Syndrome: My wife Pauline had a frantic day yesterday that involved driving 50 miles into London from Oxford, meeting people in different locations, including The Zone, and getting home exhausted at 11.30pm. She remembered the charge at 11.55 pm; was connected to the PAY-OFFICE by 11.57pm and was refused service at 11.59pm as “There is insufficient time before the midnight deadline for me to take the details.”  If the street cameras were working, and if they have “captured” Pauline’s unregistered intrusion, and if they can track the license plate, this means an £80 fine will be issued. Pauline will refuse to pay the fine and will argue over the Cinderella minutes and seconds – and we shall see what happens. She is a non-violent, law abiding citizen; but imagine what a strong young man might do if taxed by such faceless bureaucratic tricks to increase the inflow of funds. I forecast a significant amount of social-disobedience and violent reaction in the UK within a year. The computer tracking, surveillance and interference of ordinary UK travellers and the war against the car are going too far. Look for the RED CAR ICON below for earlier reports.

Transport Traffic Congestion


Piracy of copyrighted fine-arts? – Thursday 7th August 2003.


London’s National Gallery has been working with Hewlett-Packard for 8 years to digitise 2,300 art images at a resolution of 100 megapixels (100,000,000 pixels) which is 20 times higher quality than normal cameras achieve. An image will be printed in 5 minutes, for a customer, on a 6-colour HP printer in the gallery shop. National Gallery accredited print-shops around the world will be granted reproduction rights. The images will be transmitted over the Internet making them vulnerable to “piracy” just as music and film CD’s are copied and narrowcast by unauthorised fans (see LAW articles below – look for the blue PC icon). Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice-president of HP’s Imaging and Printing Group foresees high quality digital images as following the digital trend in music and films. Jennifer Lea of the National Gallery says they will not even attempt to police copyright. Editorial – It would be useful to know what percentage of the total music industry’s sales is pirated; before owners spend fortunes on protection and law-suits.



MORE NEWS archived from June 2002-Aug2003.\index_files\NEWS-page2.htm



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