There's a silver lining in the war on terror. The need for beefy, bulletproof buggies to patrol the Afghan and Iraqi outback has translated into factory jobs on the home front for at least one NATO ally.
Described as "a Land Rover on steroids," the new MWMIK 4x4 looks more like an armored forklift chassis. But with a top speed of 80 mph and wide range of armaments, it won't be pulling pallet duty anytime soon.
The U.K. Ministry of Defence has ordered 130 of the new vehicles from Plymouth-based Devonport Management Limited to the tune of 30 million quid. Traditionally a shipbuilding outfit, DML has "been forced to expand its skills base and diversify into new markets such as the super yacht sector because of the dwindling need for surface ship work," according to The Herald newspaper of Plymouth. The new line is expected to generate 120 jobs.
Designed by Supacat, it will have a chassis by Universal Engineering, a Cummins engine and an Allison transmission; assembly will be at DML's Devonport dockyard. The vehicle, which carries a team of four, a .50-caliber machine gun or a grenade launcher, will augment--and possibly replace, eventually--the Brits' current fire support model WMIK, which resembles something that saw duty in the Falklands.
DML has its eye on the prize. "Once people understand that this is what we can do and what we are capable of, it should lead to a lot of interest and hopefully more contracts for us," CEO Dennis Gilbert was quoted as saying. "We are in a really good position to take off in terms of expanding our involvement in the market sector."
The vehicles were obtained under "urgent operational requirement," which means British troops should be sporting them sometime in 2008, according to Lord Drayson, minister of state for defense equipment and support.
The Supreme Court has said that all remaining decisions for this term will come next Monday, which means that the long wait for rulings in the Grokster peer to peer case and the Brand X cable Net case will finally end. Ten o'clock Eastern Time, be there or be, well, somewhere else and read about it on the Net.Just a note of thanks to the folks at SCOTUSblog.com , who post extraordinarily fast information on Supreme Court rulings as they happen. Everyone I know has been reloading their blog every 12 seconds or when decisions are due. And they're not even selling ads.
As a previous generation of children was given the blanket advice "Don't talk to strangers," today's kids are told "never give out your personal information online." A new study suggests that this well-intentioned advice is not sufficient to protect children from unwanted sexual solicitation and harassment. The study comes to the controversial conclusion that sharing information online is not correlated with victimization. Many other online safety experts maintain that privacy protection is always a good first line of defense, though clearly not the only step.
The study, published in the February 2007 issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and reported by the AP, found that victimization is likely to be associated with online behavior such as talking about sex with people met online, or intentionally embarrassing someone else on the Internet.
Assuming that kids will talk to people online, the task becomes teaching them the safest ways to communicate, what at-risk behaviors to avoid, and warning signs to spot. The survey found that some risky behaviors are commonplace and often occurred while using the Internet with friends. The authors advise pediatricians to take a more nuanced and comprehensive approach when discussing these issues with their patients and their parents:
"It may not be feasible to change the entire online culture, and the promotion of prevention messages that contradict or fail to recognize widely accepted online behavior may lack credibility with youth. Instead of imparting the message 'don't talk to strangers online,' a harm-reduction approach may be more effective: 'I know many young people your age are meeting people online. You probably know how easy it is to hide your identity. Be careful and know that you can discontinue a relationship any time by changing your login name or blocking someone.'"
A final finding, that the risk for online victimization is elevated when kids experience offline abuse, victimization, or conflict with their parents, underscores for me the complexities of the situation and the need for social protection through sound laws and public policy. The entire study is available through the Archives of Pediatric Medicine link, and provides much food for thought for all adults who work to keep kids safe.
Online activist group MoveOn.org is poised to announce a campaign targeting Facebook's "Beacon" advertisements , which post information about users' activity on partner sites onto their friends' News Feeds. According to MoveOn representatives, the organization considers this to be a "glaring violation of users' privacy," and has launched a paid ad campaign on Facebook, a " protest group " on the social-networking site, and an online petition to encourage the company to allow users to opt into the program at their own volition.
"The bottom line," MoveOn spokesman Adam Green said in an interview with CNET News.com, "is that no Facebook user should have their private purchases online posted for the entire world to see without their explicit opted-in permission."
It's true that Beacon advertisements are limited to the news feeds of the people on a user's friends list, but Green said that doesn't make a difference. He cited Facebook user testimonials that ranged from members who said their entire Christmas lists had been published on their News Feeds to student activists who were concerned that sensitive purchases might show up and result in serious consequences--"If a college kid rents Brokeback Mountain and some homophobic person on his campus sees that, that could be a real problem," he explained.
Beacon does allow members to opt out. But, Green said, that isn't enough for MoveOn, which got its start as a left-leaning grassroots organization. "The opt-out is very well hidden," he said. "It basically pops up for a second and then goes away, and it's on the bottom of your screen when you're purchasing on a totally unrelated Web site, so you aren't even looking for it." He added that there's not a universal opt-out, so members have to repeat the process on each partner site. "Even if you see the opt-out and jump through the hoops of opting out once, that doesn't solve the problem."
Some retailers participating in Beacon say they're familiar with its potential pratfalls, but insist that it will ultimately be a positive development. "I think it's a new technology, and until people get used to it, it might surprise some," said Josh Mohrer, director of retail for BustedTees.com . "We have had a few instances where people were surprised, not necessarily angry, but surprised that their purchase showed up on their Facebook feed...I think when it becomes ubiquitous, which it most certainly will as Facebook things tend to be, that people will get used to it and see it as a good thing."
Mohrer said that he saw where the complaints were coming from. "I think Facebook probably needs to do a better job of warning people about it," he said. "What's bad is that people are probably going to blame the merchant and not Facebook."
Additionally, Mohrer admitted that he doesn't entirely disagree with the concerns of activists who have pointed out potential privacy issues with Beacon. "You should have an option to turn it on," Mohrer added, "not the other way around, especially around this time of year."
Apple distributed invitations Wednesday morning for "an iPhone software road map" event next week, which means we're finally going to hear details on the plans for an iPhone software development kit.Next Thursday, we'll find out more about what Apple has in mind for third-party iPhone software.
As you might be aware, next week is March, not February, which means Apple will have missed its deadline for shipping the SDK this month. Still, on Thursday, March 6, at 10 a.m. PST the company will hold a "town hall" meeting at its headquarters in Cupertino to discuss the State of the iPhone, and probably answer several questions about how iPhone application development will unfold.
Apple also said to expect details on "some exciting new enterprise features," which at first blush sounds to me like a method of getting the iPhone to work more closely with corporate e-mail software. It's not clear whether the SDK will actually become available next week, or whether Apple is planning to use the occasion to explain what options developers will have for getting their applications on the iPhone. Check out our report on the iPhone SDK and the possibilities for official third-party application development for more background on what might be discussed next week.
Apple will be playing host twice next week, holding its annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday and then two days later having us all trek down I-280 once again for the iPhone event.
Tom Krazit, a staff writer for CNET News, focuses on all things Apple. He has covered traditional PC companies such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, chip companies such as Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, and mobile computers ranging from Research In Motion's to Palm's. E-mail Tom .
With the official release of the latest Star Wars movie still a day away, the movie has already become a political football, writes the New York Times . Part of the problem is George Lucas' opening the movie in Cannes, in the country that the Times writer calls "the biggest blue state of all."
At that opening, Lucas reportedly told the audience that he had no idea when plotting the film years ago that reality--apparently a reference to current U.S. politics--would so closely track his story of a democratic republic subverted by a totalitarian government. Now movie reviews are systematically quoting Anakin Skywalker's Bush-esque line, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy."
Conservative bloggers are now blasting Lucas, even calling for boycotts. The liberal group MoveOn.org is running TV commercials this week drawing its own parallels between the movie's plot and Republicans' threat to end filibusters of Senate judicial nominations.
SAN DIEGO--What do a butterfly and a cell phone display have in common? More than you'd think.
A couple of years ago, a display start-up called Iridigm began working on a mobile-display technology that reflects ambient light like the human eye sees bright, rich colors--in much the same way light reflects off a butterfly's wing.
You're probably thinking, yeah, OK, that sounds kind of awesome. But Qualcomm liked Iridigm's idea a lot. So much, in fact, that it bought the whole company in 2004. Qualcomm was showing off the interferometric modulator display technology , still in the research and development phase, at the first-ever Society for Information Display's Mobile Displays Conference here.