Microsoft Ocean Cooled Data Center

Microsoft has submerged a data center in the ocean off the coast of Scotland
Microsoft has submerged a data center in the ocean off the coast of Scotland(Credit: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

Water-cooling systems have long been used to keep computers from overheating, but how do you scale that up for huge data centers? According to Microsoft, you drop the data center to the bottom of the ocean. As the second phase of its Project Natick, the company has just deployed a data center in the frigid waters off Scotland’s Orkney Islands. read more

Paul Allen’s New Plane

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen unveiled the world’s largest aircraft on Wednesday.

The massive plane rolled out by Allen’s aerospace firm, Stratolaunch Systems, features the longest wingspan of any aircraft ever built, according to Popular Mechanics.

With a wingspan of 385 feet, the six-engine plane will be larger than Howard Hughes’ 1947 H-4 Hercules, known as the ‘Spruce Goose,’ and the Antonov An-225, a Soviet-era cargo plane originally built to transport the Buran space shuttle that is currently the world’s largest aircraft.

The Stratolaunch is an aircraft that is designed to carry rockets between its two fuselages.

In 2011, the project’s cost was initially estimated to be at $300million, though there is no word as to the updated figures.

After the plane reaches altitude, it would then drop the launch vehicle, which will subsequently fire its boosters and launch into space from the air.

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Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen unveiled the world's largest aircraft on Wednesday. The massive plane rolled out by Allen's aerospace firm, Stratolaunch Systems, features the longest wingspan of any aircraft ever built

Microsoft Helped With Spying

(Reuters) – Microsoft Corp worked closely with U.S. intelligence services to help them intercept users’ communications, including letting the National Security Agency circumvent email encryption, the Guardian reported on Thursday.

Citing top-secret documents provided by former U.S. spy contractor Edward Snowden, the UK newspaper said Microsoft worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the NSA to ease access via Prism – an intelligence-gathering program uncovered by the Guardian last month – to cloud storage service SkyDrive.

Microsoft also helped the Prism program collect video and audio of conversations conducted via Skype, Microsoft’s online chat service, the newspaper added.

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Another Reason to be Pro-Israel

by: the Common Constitutionalist

We all know the saying, “You don’t discuss politics or religion with acquaintances or colleagues”. Well, I’ll go you one better. You also don’t discuss the state of Israel.

It seems there is no gray area regarding Israel. One is either profoundly pro or con. It is one of a very few nations that virtually everyone has an opinion.

If you are a regular reader, you will know that I am pro-Israel, so I will not be discussing nor debating the anti-Israel stance.

Pro-Israel advocates cite it to be the sole civilized democratic society in the Middle East, just trying to survive since its formation. It is the only bastion of freedom in that region, surrounded by radical Israel_MapIslamist states hell-bent on destruction. This is true.

There is however another reason to support Israel. One, it seems, very few know.

Take heed all you techie liberals for Israel is fast becoming a high-tech mecca (pardon the regional pun).

Despite its small size, this country has managed to become a leader in the world of high-tech innovation. In fact, it has the second highest concentration of high-tech companies in the world, topped only by Silicon Valley in California.

And as California continues to collapse under the weight of massive tax increases and entitlement debt, it is quite possible Israel may eventually overtake Silicon Valley.

Most don’t know of the close relationship between Israel and Intel, but the depth of that relationship may be surprising to even those who do. Intel Israel has been responsible for many, if not most, of the processor breakthroughs for Intel, and the Intel Sandy Bridge processor, developed in Israel, was responsible for 40% of Intel’s sales worldwide in 2011.

2012 was an important year for Intel Israel, as the company refit its Kiryat Gat facility to manufacture the 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge processor. The Kiryat Gat facility makes Intel’s 45-nanometer Sandy Bridge processor and the company invested $3 billion in the facility Kiryat Gatfor the Ivy Bridge.

Intel Israel is also indirectly responsible, through suppliers and subsidiaries, for the employment of 23,000 heads of household, and altogether employs 10% of all workers in the electronics and software industry in Israel.

Intel Israel totaled $2.2 billion in exports in 2011 alone. The country is the third largest investment target for Intel outside the US – after China and India – and over the past 15 years the company has invested in 64 different Israeli companies.

Apple Computer, the manufacturers the iPhone and iPad, is opening a new research and development center in Haifa Israel. It is expanding to Israel with its first technology research and development center outside of its Cupertino California headquarters.

Microsoft Corp. is opening the first startup accelerator in the company’s history to increase the success of young companies. The accelerator will take place at the Microsoft Research and Development Center and is part of the Israel R&D center ThinkNext and Microsoft BizSpark programs for startups.

Israel was chosen by Microsoft to lead the accelerator initiative due to the wide-ranging activity of startups in the area and the experience and know-how to propel startups into the global marketplace.

Microsoft Israel

A number of Microsoft technologies are made in Israel. These include Microsoft Gateway VPN technology, Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus suite and the recommendation system for Xbox.

Israel was the first Microsoft R&D center outside the US and opened in 1991. The country has the highest number of Microsoft workers per capita of any place on earth.

Hundreds, if not thousands of high-tech and medical companies, both large and small have come to this little spit of land in the Middle East.

Israel has been a world innovator for decades. The following is but a very small list of the many products developed there:

  • Remember the Epilady hair removal system? Israel.
  • InSightecs focused ultrasound machineReWalk Glee
  • ReWalk robotic skeleton, featured in the TV program glee
  • The modern cherry tomato (yes that yummy little salad add-on)
  • Life Touch dental laser
  • The first flash drive data storage device
  • Both Windows NT and XP were developed in Israel
  • The first commercial network firewall
  • Original Cell phone technology was first developed at Motorola’s Israel R&D facility
  • The core component for the Xbox Kinect system
  • The Powermat recharging platform

So, the next time you hear some liberal whining about Israel while holding a hi-tech gadget, let him or her (or it, in some cases) know they may also have a lot to lose with Israel’s demise.

Flip the Switch

 Where shall we file this article? Maybe we can put it in the ” Ain’t technology grand and it will never be abused or used against us” folder. Is there an App for that?


By: Jordan Robertson of Bloomberg

Janne Kytömäki, a Finnish software developer, was cruising Google’s Android Market for smartphone apps last year when he noticed something strange. Dozens of best-selling applications suddenly listed the same wrong publisher. It was as if Stephen King’s name had vanished from the covers of his books, replaced by an unknown author. Kytömäki realized the culprit was a piece of malware that was spreading quickly, and he posted his findings online.

Google responded swiftly. It flipped a little-known kill switch, reaching into more than 250,000 infected Android smartphones and forcibly removing the malicious code. “It was sort of unreal, watching something like that unfold,” says Kytömäki, who makes dice simulator apps. Kill switches are a standard part of most smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. Google, Apple, and Amazon all have the ability to reach into devices to delete illicit content or edit code without users’ permission. It’s a powerful way to stop threats that spread quickly, but it’s also a privacy and security land mine.

With the rollout of the Windows 8 operating system expected later this year, millions of desktop and laptop PCs will get kill switches for the first time. Microsoft hasn’t spoken publicly about its reasons for including this capability in Windows 8 beyond a cryptic warning that it might be compelled to use it for legal or security reasons. The feature was publicized in a widely cited Computerworld article in December when Microsoft posted the terms of use for its new application store, a feature in Windows 8 that will allow users to download software from a Microsoft-controlled portal. Windows smartphones, like those of its competitors, have included kill switches for several years, though software deletion “is a last resort, and it’s uncommon,” says Todd Biggs, director of product management for Windows Phone Marketplace.

Microsoft declined to answer questions about the kill switch in Windows 8 other than to say it will only be able to remove or change applications downloaded through the new app store. Any software loaded from a flash drive, DVD, or directly from the Web will remain outside Microsoft’s control. Still, the kill switch is a tool that could help Microsoft prevent mass malware infections. “For most users, the ability to remotely remove apps is a good thing,” says Charlie Miller, a researcher with the security company Accuvant.

The history of kill switches on smartphones and e-readers suggests they’re double-edged swords for the companies that wield them. In 2009, Amazon reached into users’ Kindles to delete e-book copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm that had been sold by a publisher without the necessary rights. The ensuing backlash caused Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos to call the move “stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles.”

The reluctance of tech companies to set explicit policies for when they will and will not use kill switches contributes to the fear they’ll be abused. Civil rights and free speech advocates worry that tech companies could be pressured by governments to delete software or data for political reasons. “You have someone who has absolute control over my hard drive in ways I may have never anticipated or consented to,” says Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University’s law school in California. “If they use that power wisely, they actually make my life better. We don’t know if they use the power wisely. In fact, we may never know when they use their power at all.”

Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s vice president of Android engineering, says the search company reserves the use of the kill switch for “really egregious, really obvious cases” of harmful content. Microsoft’s Biggs says the company has used the functionality in its smartphones only for “technical issues and content issues.” Apple declined to comment. Amazon did not respond to several messages.

Like many in his profession, Kevin Mahaffey, co-founder of the San Francisco startup Lookout, which makes security software for smartphones, expresses mixed emotions about the emergence of kill switches. “The remote removal tools are very much a response to the mistakes of the PC era,” he says. “Whether or not it’s an overcorrection, I think history will tell us. It can be done right, but we as an industry need to tread carefully. It’s easy to imagine several dystopian futures that can arise from this.”

One supporter is Janne Kytömäki, the Finn who discovered the Android malware outbreak. He says Google did the right thing by deleting the malware without users’ permission. “What was the alternative?” he says. “Leave those apps installed on 200,000 people’s mobiles? This is something that had to be done.”

End Article

Famous last words: We couldn’t just do nothing!

How about , “Buyer Beware”, or user beware. We’ve allowed the door of abuse to cracked open. Mark my words. This kill switch program will progress into other areas and it wiil eventually be abused.

Ben Franklin said: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”