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This is the TBTF Log, the place where I report important breaking news in the most timely way possible.

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2001-01-19

9:47:41 AM
  • Light stopped in its tracks. Now this is flat amazing. The scientist whose group last year slowed light to a saunter has now stopped it dead. (Another group of scientists, also in Cambridge, MA independently achieved the same result.) Frozen light. Turn on the laser and it starts up again. You could even pick it up and carry it across town, if your supercooling rig and laser setup were portable.

    The BBC coverage is good, but the NYTimes outdoes the Beeb with a handy illustration of how you encode a light beam in the spins of chilled rubidium atoms.

    The research is to be published in forthcoming issues of the journal Nature (Lene Vestergaard Hau et al., Rowland Institute for Science, Cambridge) and the Physical Review Letters (Ronald L. Walsworth et al., Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge). The Times piece quotes extensively from the work of Walsworth's group; Hau refused to discuss her work in detail because of restrictions imposed by Nature.


2001-01-18

9:17:32 AM
  • Time to dump NSI. Been waiting for the right moment to transfer your domain names out of the control of Network Solutions? It may have arrived. This morning I moved the last two domains in my stable to Dotster. Until Feb. 18 this registrar is offering free transfers and a one-year extension on the registration of any (.com, .net, .org) domain name for $11.95 US.

    The last time I transferred a domain name, 6 months ago to the day, the process involved faxing a registration form with a copy of my driver's license. Today's transfers were initiated entirely online. I already had a name registered with Dotster, so the process required only 5 steps and 5 minutes. If you need to set up a new account, add another 5 minutes.

    Dotster's registration agreement is middle-of-the-road. Like all ICANN-affiliate agreements, it binds you to the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy. Unlike some, it names you as the "owner" of the domain name, not its lessor. Dotster's prices are very good, but bargain shoppers can find lower (for example at joker.com).

    Go here to initiate a domain-name transfer. I get no consideration if you do. I looked into Dotster's affiliate program, but they use something called Commission Junction, which asked for my Social Security number and bank information (!) and had no privacy policy that I could find. Welcome to the world of affiliate marketing. Life is too short. If you want to support TBTF, please visit the Benefactors page, and thanks.

7:30:39 AM
  • Underground online. By now the entire world knows that Suelette Dreyfus and Julian Assange, the authors of Underground: Hacking, madness and obsession on the electronic frontier, have made available the full text of the book online as "Literary Freeware: Not for Commercial Use." The book's home, at www.underground-book.com, has been unavailable since the first moment I tried -- surely before it was Slashdotted.

    Julian Assange has sent a followup note pointing out some mirror sites. I list a few here and reproduce Julian's note below.


    Several people have noted that that www.underground-book.com has
    been slashdotted to kingdom-come (it doesn't even ping any more!) and
    have asked for mirrors.
    
    There are a number listed in various slashdot replies, here:
    
            http://slashdot.org/articles/01/01/18/0141232.shtml
    
    Failing that, you can try http://rubberhose.sourceforge.net/underground,
    which is an officialish mirror of the download page.
    
    Note that there are no mirrors of the web-site proper (just the
    download pages). But google has cached most of the site. A few
    of the more useful pages:
    
     Main page:
       http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:www.underground-book.com
     Critical reviews:
       http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:www.underground-book.com/critics.php3
     Reader reviews:
       http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:www.underground-book.com/readers.php3
     Ordering hard-copy on-line from Australian university bookshops (note that
     amazon.com does *not* stock books published by non-us publishers.. even
     Random House Australia!):
       http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:www.underground-book.com/coop.php3
    
     Otherwise try http://www.underground-book.com/ in a few days when the deluge
     is finally over.
    
     Cheers,
     Julian

2001-01-17

11:38:51 AM
  • How many horseman? Salon runs a piece by Katharine Mieszkowski called Turn Off the Internet! in which she explores the tangled reasoning and shoddy statistics behind the latest rap pinned on the Internet economy.

    In addition to taking the heat for everything from kiddie porn to the gentrification of urban neighborhoods, the Net is now at fault for overloading our national power infrastructure.

    The blame-the-Internet meme seems to have originated with Mark Mills and Peter Huber, two right-wing energy consultants frequently in the pay of the coal industry. Their exaggerated numbers began seeping into the mainstream with a Forbes article last spring in which they claimed that 8% of the nation's energy goes to power Internet computers and infrastructure. This analysis (note: PDF file) by two UC Berkeley scientists says that Mills and Huber's numbers are high by nearly an order of magnitude.

    Mieszkowski reports that energy usage went up by 2% a year in the late 90s, but by 3.3% during the go-go late 80s. Paul Krugman recently argued that California's energy woes can be laid solidly at the feet of the state's flawed deregulation scheme.


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