Category Archive: 苏州美甲

Senators propose 5-year ban on higher cell phone taxes

admin | 09/10/2019 | COMMENTS:Comments Closed

The average US tax rate for most goods is 7.07 percent, but the taxman has a special affinity for wireless phone and data services, which are taxed at a whopping 15.9 percent when you combine state, local, and federal taxes. This high number may be a relic from the time when a cell phone was a luxury, but those days are far behind us; cell phones are the choice of many low-income individuals, especially those who move frequently. Now, two senators want to put the kibosh on any future tax raises for five years. 苏州美甲

Already a fierce supporter of network neutrality, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has decided to tackle rising taxes on wireless service. "Americans are being hit hard with rising costs for gas, health care, and food for the dinner table. Americans need to know that their cell phone bills won’t be the next cost to spiral out of control,” he said in a statement announcing the "Mobile Wireless Tax Fairness Act of 2008.”

Ron Wyden

The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), who has previously partnered with Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) on network neutrality legislation. Snowe wants an end to "these excessive and discriminatory taxes" that discourage wireless use, particularly for "low-income individuals and families" who rely on their cell phones. “By banning these taxes, we can equalize the taxation of the wireless industry with that of other goods and services and protect the wireless consumer from the weight of fees, surcharges, and general business taxes.”

According to a copy of the bill seen by Ars Technica, "No State or local jurisdiction shall impose a new discriminatory tax on or with respect to mobile services, mobile service providers, or mobile service property, during the 5-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act." Local tax raises are fine, but they cannot single out wireless service.

Should the bill pass—and it's unlikely to do so during this session of Congress—it would do nothing to lower existing tax rates, simply prevent discriminatory increases in the future. State and local governments watching the issue will no doubt take away one main lesson: if we're going to jack up wireless access taxes even higher, we'd better get jacking!

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Review: Practical Django Projects

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Practical Django Projects: Writer better web applications faster, and learn how to build up your own reusable code library (buy)
James Bennett, Django Release Manager
Apress 256 pages

Any web developer worth their salt has undoubtedly spent significant amounts of time and billable hours building (and re-building) a library of reusable code to ease future development investment on their part. If you’ve made it that far, then you’ve probably also come to a point when you’ve scrapped all the code you wrote and picked from one of the many open-source web frameworks that have done all those tasks (and more), done them well, and that–most importantly–other people maintain.

When many individuals took their first steps in web development, they were forced to write much of their code from scratch. That includes handling cookies and sessions, talking with the database and building your own SQL queries, engineering some sort of templating system (or none at all in much of PHP development), and many more man-hours of boilerplate.

These days, from ColdFusion, Ruby, PHP, Perl, to Python, developers at all levels are turning to web frameworks to do much of the dirty work.

Django is a Python-powered web framework and it's one that I’ve been a following closely since its public inception. Django has had some big wins lately with Goolge’s App Engine and is well on its way to a 1.0 release. Django has been heralded as a well-managed and disciplined open-source project that has managed to garner praise for it’s stability and performance.

Practical Django Projects is an excellent book that goes well beyond The Definitive Guide to Django, which marches through each major bit of Django with basic examples of these features. The main downfall of the Definitive Guide was that while it is extremely illustrative of the different parts of the framework, it has little to no example of how to build a real-world project you might present to a client.

This book has a strong focus on building real, battle-tested web applications from the ground up and is split into four logical portions which are prefaced with a brief introduction to Python, Django, and web frameworks themselves.

The first major section is a basic content management application which introduces the concepts of using third party applications, in this case django.contrib.flatpages, to build a project. The author demonstrates how you add these third party applications, wire them to URLs, set up your templates, and get going. James' extends the CMS application in subsequent chapter by demonstrating how a developer might add interesting flourishes such as Markdown formatting, and a search system (writing your first custom view).

There ancillary chapters are used to introduce more complex ideas and more in-depth parts of the Django framework to readers. In this section for example, adding the search system tackles building a data model for the first time.

Building real projects

The first is a personal weblog replete with multiple authors, comments, tagging, categories, link blogging (with integration). From here, the book dives into more advanced subjects such as using Django's advanced template inheritance in this real world example. Readers are encouraged to go a step further by constructing custom templating tags, a task that eludes some Django developers until well into their career.

In addition to building the base weblog, advanced walk throughs on topics such as comment moderation (via Akismet), utilizing Django's email framework to send notifications when new comments are posted, and using the built-in syndication framework to create a series of RSS feeds for the site.

The second major project is one that powers a popular website in the Django community, DjangoSnippets. DjangoSnippets is an online application that allows users to upload short code snippets with descriptions. Users can sign-up for accounts, rate snippets, bookmark snippets.

Again, the author walks you through the entire process (spanning many chapters) of using Django’s built-in Generic Views to avoid writing code for common web application scenarios (list/detail views, etc.), user registration systems, adding in syntax highlighting, and advanced form handling and processing.

The final, and best, section of this book covers a few topics that have personally revolutionized my understanding and how I think about developing my Django applications. James goes to great lengths to explain the philosophy behind Django’s concept of reusable applications.

The idea here is that one should strive to develop small, tightly-focused, and loosely coupled applications (or modules) that can be plugged into any application to add instant functionality. In fact, a large portion of what makes Django such an attractive framework—it's auto-generated admin interface, and copious add-on library—are developed in this exact same fashion. It's one of the reason's Django is so powerful and easy to adopt.

James’ own django-contact-form or Nathan Borror’s blog, places, people, profiles applications are excellent examples of this philosophy. This chapter details logical tests that a developer can apply to his applications to determine if any portions can or should be split into their own reusable applications. James then goes on to demonstrate a series of best practices a Django developer can adhere to when writing their URL handlers, views, and templating structure to ensure that their applications can be reasonably customized by another programmer. In the final pages of this section, James goes over the process of packaging your applications for easy distribution with distutils and handy documentation tips.

With few Django books on the market at this point, I would recommend Practical Django Projects to anyone who has at least cursory experience with web development or web frameworks. By going through the two substantial projects in this book, a competent developer can hone their Django skills to a level that some have reached only after months or years. This book is short for the amount of useful information it will impart on you; at a thin 256 pages, you’ll be speeding through chapters at a nice brisk pace that satisfied my scatterbrained personality.

If you’re seeking a reference text containing of the high points of the Django API, you can always stick to the online documentation (which is excellent), or pick up a copy of the Definitive Guide to Django.

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Self-healing epoxies: certified Kosher

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Recent developments in self-healing epoxies have shown that it is possible to recover 100% of the initial fracture toughness (a measure of damage tolerance) via a new method that has the added bonus of eliminating toxic and harmful organic solvents from the final product. How safe are the new solvents used in this research? One is used in medical applications, while the other is food-grade and certified Kosher. 苏州美甲

Structural materials have traditionally been heavy and bulky, as that tends to maximize strength and damage tolerance. But composites are gaining favor as lightweight structural materials, and epoxies are appearing in structural settings, where they're combined with reinforcing elements such as carbon fiber. Epoxy is brittle by nature, and although improvements in toughening agents have helped to make epoxy more damage tolerant, there is still much room for improvement.

It might be a shock to some, but not all carbon fiber use is in overpriced sports equipment and poorly modified cars. Carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) is now extensively used in industries where light weight and high performance trumps all, such as aerospace and wind power generation. Although upwards of 95% of the load in a well-designed CFRP part is carried by the carbon fibers, it is transferred to the fibers via the epoxy matrix.

Cracks and damage to this matrix can be most detrimental to its secondary properties, such as fatigue life, fracture toughness, and moisture ingression. Even small impacts can spawn a network of difficult-to-detect microscopic cracks in the epoxy, meaning that structures have to be designed to tolerate this possibility. Detectable cracks are orders of magnitude more expensive to repair than those in an equivalent metal structure, so the potential demand for self-healing epoxy is very significant.

The new paper describes not only new solvents, but also epoxy monomers (many monomers make up an epoxy polymer chain), that provide significant gains in healing efficiency. The authors enclosed epoxy monomers and solvents in microcapsules that are mixed into the epoxy while it is still liquid and uncured. After the epoxy has cured, when a crack initiates, it ruptures the microcapsules, and the epoxy monomers and solvent go back to work, repairing the break.

The authors postulate that another mechanism behind the healing is the encapsulated solvent dissolving and swelling the surrounding cured epoxy. This process may release residual catalyst that was not consumed by the initial curing and this kicks off additional curing that seals up the crack. The addition of epoxy monomers increase the efficiency of the healing by flowing back into the crack and fully sealing it. Healing is not instantaneous; epoxy takes time to cure, especially at room temperature. Multiple healing events in the same specimen are possible, however.

Like most preliminary research, it has a catch (meaning more potential research!): healing efficiencies "decreased only slightly over a month," which could be spun as a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how important you think that slight drop is. Regardless, the implications for economically maintainable epoxy-based structure are huge.

Advanced Functional Materials, 2008. DOI: 10.1002/adfm.200800300

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Game Review: Chocobo’s Dungeon (Wii)

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It's funny that recent conversations have had us thinking about retro-style games with new graphics, as Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon is a fitting example. The game takes a ridiculously old-school style of gameplay—that of the great dungeon crawlers known as "roguelikes"—and gussies it up with the Final Fantasy trimmings. 苏州美甲

The game's story focuses on Cid and Chocobo, who start on the search for treasure in the hopes of making an Airship but end up in a strange land where they have to unravel a time-related mystery that requires crawling through dungeons to unlocked the lost memories of the people. The writing is simple—though the localization team does deserve credit; I'm pretty sure the expression "same diff" wasn't in the original—but it does provide enough of a framework to keep you plodding from dungeon to dungeon.

The real meat here is the dungeon crawl, as is true of any roguelike. A huge array of randomly-generated dungeons, weapons, items, abilities, and more can be found to customize your character. Though you'll move your character in real time through the dungeons, combat is deceivingly turn based: you move a step and your enemy gets to move a step, you attack and your enemy gets to attack. As you move, you'll gain back health and skill points but you'll lose energy which you must keep up by eating. Sometimes you'll use your various abilities to mix things up in battle and once in a while you'll fight a boss. It's dull. Believe me. But the joy of play is derived not from the simple one-button combat but rather the grind itself.

Chocobo's Dungeon uses the job system to make the grind even more involving than normal, which is welcome since combat gets awfully repetitive. Chocobo can find and unlock new jobs based on those found in all many games in the series: the staple Knight, White Mage, and Black Mage will get you going before you unlock some of the more prestigious classes like Ninja and, my personal favorite, Dragoon. Each of the jobs has a variety of abilities that you'll need to use in order to overcome the game's various (and often challenging) dungeons.

Thankfully, the game isn't as ridiculously difficult as are some other roguelikes: death relieves you of all your money and items, but your equipped gear is no longer destroyed, so you won't have to worry about saving precious items for fear that they might quickly be lost. However, death is still suitably frustrating: I've had a few brutal wipes, which hurt especially bad after you manage to best an Esper and get the powerful one-use summon item.

Dungeon crawling isn't the only thing you can do in the game, though. There's a collection of solid mini-games that you can access after a few hours. The most prominent one is the Pop-Up card game, which is the exact same one featured in the other Final Fantasy Fables title, Chocobo Tales. Players can find a ton of cards by defeating monsters in dungeons and finding hidden phrases for a particular character. It's a solid card game, as it originally was, and it's nice to see they kept the online multiplayer for the Wii release.

Like most Square-Enix games, the music is particularly nostalgic. Anyone who's played Final Fantasy VII will get tingles up their spine when Chocobo first makes his way to Stella's farm, and the snippets of voice acting don't hurt, either. The visuals are a sight for sore eyes grown accustomed to the greys and browns of the current generation. The familiar graphical style fits with Square's recent titles. Surprisingly, the game does boast some nice effects: depth of field, in particular, is used expertly to set Chocobo's Dungeon apart. The general feel of the user interface is decidedly old school, but the trademark polish is abound.

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon is a neat little title and fills the RPG void on the Wii for fans of the genre. It's decidedly old-school in design, but the Final Fantasy trimmings make this one of the better contemporary roguelikes around. If you can look past the cutesy gloss (or embrace it), then you'll likely find yourself in a great Wii grind. Just make sure you're ready for the according monotony.

Verdict: Rent
Developer: h.a.n.d.
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Wii
Price: $39.99
Rating: E10+
Other recent reviews:

Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes
Final Fantasy Tactics A2Secret Agent ClankThe Incredible HulkDas Keyboard Professional

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Microsoft bans TinyURL from Windows Live Messenger (Updated)

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Microsoft employs a server-side SPIM filter on its Messenger network for blocking malicious URLs in order to keep its users safe from the spread of malware. The system doesn't always work, however. Most recently, Windows Live Messenger users have reported that, a popular URL-shortening service that gets over 1.5 billion hits each month, is being blocked. Since the site can be potentially used to help send users to malicious websites, Microsoft may have done this intentionally. It may even be possible that there is currently a piece of malware out there that uses TinyURL to redirect users to a malicious site. Either way, TinyURL is being blocked regardless of what site a given URL redirects to: 苏州美甲

Microsoft has blocked domains on the its instant-messaging service before, but last time, when YouTube and DeviantArt was blocked, Microsoft blamed its third-party partner that manages the URL blocking and explained that the blocking of a specific URL or whole domain is determined by multiple factors. Microsoft apologized for the blunder, but did not further detail how legitimate URLs were mistaken for harmful ones. This time, it's not clear if Microsoft considers TinyURL to be a legitimate site; we'll keep you posted as this story develops.


A Microsoft spokesperson told Ars: “We are very serious in our efforts to block virus, malware and other harmful URLs from being passed on to our customers. We’re continually working to improve this process so that we can keep our customers safe without having a negative impact on your Messenger service. We are aware that Windows Live Messenger is currently blocking the URL This URL is being blocked unintentionally and we are working to take the appropriate steps to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and disruption this may be causing our customers.”

As of 4:00pm PDT, was unblocked from Windows Live Messenger.

Further Microsoft bans links from instant messages

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NY attorney general gets more ISPs to block alt.* newsgroups

admin | 08/09/2019 | COMMENTS:Comments Closed

Last month, the New York state Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, announced that a sting operation had uncovered an indifference on the part of Internet service providers regarding complaints about child porn accessible through their networks. Using a combination of legal threats and public shaming, Cuomo was able to get three ISPs to drop access to the entire alt.* hierarchy of Usenet, a move that encouraged California to request similar measures. Now, in a sign that these efforts against child porn were becoming a movement, Cuomo has announced the launch of a web site, nystopchildporn and agreements with two more ISPs. 苏州美甲

AOL is the subject of one of the new agreements, which isn't much of a surprise, given that its corporate sibling, Time Warner Cable, had already signed on with Cuomo. It will apparently require no changes on its part, as CNET reports that the company had already implemented a policy of blocking child porn access. AT&T is the other, and, given that it's apparently the US' largest service provider, it represents a significant accomplishment for the AG. Apparently, AT&T's efforts will be as indiscriminate as those pursued by Verizon, in that they plan on blocking access to the entire alt.binaries.* hierarchy.

Cuomo's new web site signifies that he's clearly not done yet. It includes contact information for 20 ISPs that presumably operate in New York, and text of a letter to send to them to urge that they sign on to the campaign. Its promised link to a printable PDF of the letter, however, is nonfunctional.

Andrew Cuomo

Regardless of how you feel about Cuomo's efforts or the implementation of his agreements by the ISPs, it's difficult to interpret the new site as anything more than an effort in self promotion. Its intent is signaled by the entry page, which is entitled "Press Releases" and contains an animation that rotates through four photos of Cuomo announcing the site's launch. Three of the four sentences in the draft letter to ISPs include Cuomo's name, and the fourth refers to him by his title.

The letter is also notable for the fact that it no longer focuses on the actual accessibility of child porn via the ISP, and instead simply requests they join in Cuomo's campaign. The rapid shift of focus from an identifiable problem to a high-publicity campaign seems as likely to produce cynicism as it is to lead to progress on the underlying issue.

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iPhone Mania in San Francisco

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Line length at the San Francisco Apple Store at 8:00 AM

Approaching the Apple Store, I breathed deeply of the burnt hydrocarbons and fresh urine that is a summer morning in downtown San Francisco. The brushed-metal and glass cube was yet hidden, until I turned the corner at Market Street. A sense of anticipation and fear filled me that I could not put a name to, so I borrowed from a name (William Carlos Williams) that could. 苏州美甲

so much depends

a 3G

glazed with finger

inside the jeans

18 months ago, Steve Jobs put his reputation and possibly the future of Apple on the line, betting the company would sell 10 million iPhones in 2008 and revolutionize mobile computing. So far this year, somewhere between 2 and 3 million iPhones have been sold, and I had to wonder as I passed the guy on the milk crate wearing the hoodie over his head who wanted 43 cents—why? I didn't know then, but Apple did.

She actually took notes with a pen and paper like Lois Lane or something!

A year after lining up around the block in the afternoon heat for a $600 phone and a two-year contract with a carrier of dubious quality, hundreds and hundreds waited to pay $400 less for another two years of more bars in more places, but very few places with four bars. The guy on the left in the above picture wasn't as interested in taking to that reporter, as he had been standing there since 10:00 PM. Wednesday. He had camped in a tent for two days, making friends with both Apple Store employees and urban nomads alike, and starting to smell like the latter by this morning.

At just before 8:00 AM, the cheers and applause started from the inside going out. Maybe it was for the media, but the Apple Store employees looked happy. As for the reporters, plenty of news reporters fronting perfect-teeth-and-hair commented on video. Tech reporters dressed in dark colors snapped pictures. I saw a couple of guys in Wired t-shirts that I have not been given, let alone an office and a personal assistant. Robert Scoble was there doing videos with questionable production values. Then, the first group of elect were ushered into the store to get their new phones.

Up Stockton Street and beyond

Walking the line and sampling stories, a minority of those were waiting to upgrade to new phones, but many more were new buyers. If San Francisco is indicative of the other cities—a scary though in most circumstances—the iPhone 3G is bringing in more new people, good for both AT&T and Apple. Reasons for getting an iPhone 3G are in keeping with recent surveys. Buyers of iPhones want 3G, GPS, real web browsing, media playing. Being San Francisco, the demographics of the crowd were ethnically diverse with plenty of piercings and tats, mixed in among the nerds and just people. It was a lot like last year.

If you want your product mentioned, send girls in t-shirts to the event

One thing that was different from the line last year was developers. You had several makers of location-aware social networking applications handing out info. I picked up literature from limbo and goodrec, but being antisocial, they won't do me much good. I also spoke with two girls from vSNAX, the "free mobile video service that will offer news, gossip, weather, sports highlights, short films and more.”

"Hi, I write for Ars Technica, a technology web site recently acquired by Condé Nast for millions and millions of dollars and—you have no idea what I'm talking about—so what are you doing here?"

"We're handing out screen cleaners."

"Okay, then."

All the way down O'Farrell

At the rate the line was moving, it looked like these people were going to be there for awhile. Forget about those promises of 15 minutes per customer. The line only moved once in the 45 minutes I was there. If I wanted an iPhone 3G, it looked like AT&T was the better bet, so I went home.

A line of a hundred or so at the AT&T Store in San Bruno

If you are wondering why AT&T opened a big corporate store in the little town of San Bruno, CA, it couldn't possibly be because San Bruno has municipal cable and AT&T sees that as an easy target for DSL. The truth is, the store has a prime location between a Red Lobster and BevMo! liquor store, having displaced the Blockbuster store that smelled like feet. The new AT&T Store smells much better, very modern look and feel, and they even run Microsoft's Table OS. Sadly, they will likely run out of iPhones today. The line started forming yesterday and went around the store into the parking lot. They have no idea when they will be getting their next shipment, either. No iPhone for Jade, but standing there looking at the line, I at least got a cheap epiphany.

Microsoft Surface White Screen of Death

More than a hundred years before Pat Buchanan talked up a "culture war" over where gay men put their pee-pees, Otto von Bismarck started a real Kulturkampf with the Catholic Church in the new German Empire. In both cases, it was about who got to decide what was cool, and in both cases, it wasn't the people themselves. In the popkulturkampf going on in the coming age of ubiquitous technology, the people are choosing, and they aren't lining up for Windows Mobile phones in San Bruno.

10 million iPhones in 2008 is a done deal today.

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Microsoft: Vista more secure than XP, Leopard, and Linux

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At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2008, Kevin Turner, chief operating officer at Microsoft, gave a keynote that covered a range of topics from the partner ecosystem that the company is so grateful for (and will be investing another $600 million year over year) to what the plan is for the next fiscal year (a bigger push on Software as a Service). Turner talked about almost every major area that Microsoft has invested in, and then uttered something that was PR speak gone too far. He began to talk about Vista's security, and he said something that I simply don't agree with (emphasis mine): 苏州美甲

We've talked a lot about compatibility, we don't need to talk as much about compatibility anymore, we need to talk about the fact that, look, what Vista is, its the most secure product in the history of operating systems on a desktop. It is more secure today than Apple Leopard, or XP, or Linux, or open source. We built this product to engineer in security on the front end, not as a service pack. As a result of that, we tightened down things like user account controls. Yes, it required a lot of compatibility upgrades and fixes, but you know what, it's important that you understand the progress, and you're able to articulate that, and fewer patching is what all customers want, and there's a cost savings there. Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 delivers that.

Now, Turner has some data to back this claim up, but he's only looking at it from one perspective. Yes, Vista does have fewer vulnerabilities than XP, and it does not surprise me that Mac OS X and Linux have more than either. However, security should not simply be measured in the number of vulnerabilities found in a given piece of software. There are more people looking over Linux code day in and day out when compared to Microsoft, and there is often fame and money to be won for finding vulnerabilities in Mac OS X.

Exploited vulnerabilities are something that needs a little bit more emphasis, and so do infection numbers. Vista's infection numbers are lower than XP's, but this is due to two main factors: it's a more secure OS and it also has a smaller market share, making it a smaller target. Vista's infection rates are obviously higher than those of Mac OS X or Linux, and that's what security is about.

Microsoft may not have control over the fact that its operating systems are the most targeted, so it can't exactly change anything there, but if you are going to tout that you've improved security in your product, compare it to the predecessor, or explicitly state that you're talking about vulnerability numbers. Hopefully this will be taken into consideration in the upcoming Vista ads.

Further reading:Microsoft: Press Release

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Friday evening Microsoft links, Foxit edition

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Links for the second Friday of July: 苏州美甲

Ever heard of Deep Zoom Obama? You’ll need Silverlight for this one, and a lot of patience if you want to create your own version.If you’ve ever wondered about how Microsoft got around to creating the “ribbon” that is used in the Office 2007 UI, I strongly suggest you download and watch “The Story of the Ribbon” (right click > save target as).Recently, AOL released AIM for Windows Mobile, available for both version 5 and 6. It's not yet feature complete, but if you're interested in checking out the beta, you should go sign up.This one's a bit old but great for those who like using both Apple and Microsoft products. If you're interested in turning your Mac mini into a Windows Home Server computer, this guide is for you.The largest panoramic picture I’ve ever seen is of the Louvre Museum, and it was created thanks to the Windows Live Photo Gallery. This simple but powerful application makes me wish I had the cash for a new digital camera.Microsoft blogger Mary Jo Foley is inviting everyone to her Microsoft 2.0 book launch, hosted at Microsoft's Redmond campus. Unfortunately I can't make it, but I definitely recommend stopping by if you're in the area.Microsoft Outlook users should read this blog post entitled "Making Outlook a little quieter." It's not particularly long and it's worth the hassle if you are someone who likes keeping pings and prompts to a minimum.Speaking of guides, the "Microsoft BizTalk Server Performance Optimization Guide" is available on both MSDN, TechNet, and the Microsoft Download Center.In terms of new Microsoft sites, the company now has a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Wiki and a fresh environmental blog available for your reading pleasure.Up for some Windows Server 2008 propaganda? The "Windows Server 2008 Whitepaper Highlighting Energy Efficiency" is for you. Oh, and the Top 5 things to know about Hyper-V is worth a quick glance.If you want to get a head start on some technical reading about SQL Server 2008 before it's released, here are 7 new articles that should keep you satisfied.The July 2008 issue of the MSDN magazine has been posted online. My personal reading recommendation is "WCF P2P: How To Design State Sharing in a Peer Network."The Microsoft adCenter dev team is requesting users to give feedback on what should be added to the service. This is your chance to tell Microsoft what you want.Want to know more about the WorldWide Telescope? Here’s an interview that’s worth reading over.

Per the title, this week's free, third-party application recommendation is Foxit Reader, the latest version of which is 2.3. This PDF reader is the one I always recommend for those fed up with Adobe Reader. It's smaller and quicker, but if you work with complicated PDF files on a daily basis, I can't say that Foxit is yet up there. Still, I've never had problems with the PDFs I've viewed ever since I started using it a couple of years ago. Enjoy!

Further reading:One Microsoft Way: Last Friday links post

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Japanese Space Agency Awards University Consortium a Free Ride toward Venus

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The Japanese Space Agency, JAXA, solicited plans for a microprobe to be piggybacked on its Venus Climate Orbiter, which will be launched in May 2010 and arrive at Venus in December of the same year. The opportunity will provide a free ride to either a low-Earth orbit or on a trajectory toward Venus, as covered in our previous post. 苏州美甲

There are four winning proposals, one of which will be boosted toward Venus; three will stay in low-Earth orbits. The one that will be headed to Venus will be built by a team from the University Space Engineering Consortium (UNISEC), a group of 20 Japanese universities. The probe will measure about 35x35x35 centimeters and weigh approximately 15 kilograms. Once on trajectory toward Venus, it will test several computers built by UNISEC member universities, and hold a competition that will determine which computer survives the longest in the space environment. It will also carry out experiments in deep-space communication technologies using commercially available equipment in collaboration with amateur ham radio operators.

As mentioned in the previous post, once the probe is on its way toward Venus, JAXA will not assist with correcting the trajectory and the probe will operate completely on its own. The brief data sheet provided by JAXA suggests the probe does not have the capacity to observe Venus, and the main mission of the UNISEC plan seems be conducting engineering experiments in the deep-space environment, so reaching Venus may actually be optional.

The three other microsatellites that will stick around Earth are all 10x10x10 centimeters, similar to the CubeSat specification, and weigh less than 2 kilograms each. Each of them will be built by a Japanese university team to conduct science and engineering experiments in low-Earth orbit.

JAXA, Japan Aerospace exploration Agency, continues to solicit proposals for microsatellites to be launched into low-Earth orbits. Their application information can be found on their website.

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