Off balance: Police Segways faulty, says maker

By Julian Matthews

04 October 2003

YES, they need fixing, and someone’s on the way to do it.

Self-balancing scooter company Segway LLC is flying in technicians to fix the Singapore Police Force’s four faulty Segway Human Transporters (HTs).

The Singapore police confirmed yesterday that the machines they bought for US$20,600 ($35,500) for trials in June - and seen in Changi airport - were among the models affected by a global recall announced last week.

Said police spokesman ASP Stanley Norbert: ‘Technicians from Segway will be arriving in Singapore within a fortnight to upgrade the machines’ software.’

He added that there was no incident of officers falling off the two-wheeled, motorised machines due to low battery levels during the trials.

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Focus on services, says Acer’s Shih

by Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR: Acer cofounder Datuk Dr Stan Shih advises Malaysia to focus on services in order to get ahead of the curve and compete in a globalised economy.

He said thinning margins in hardware manufacturing and the rise of China as the “factory of the world” has left manufacturing-dependent countries like Malaysia with little choice.

“The services industry is the next wave in economic development. In advanced countries, the services sector comprises two-thirds of their economies. There are higher returns and more opportunities in services.

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Vinton Cerf: Interplanetary googler

By Julian Matthews

It is hard to imagine the always dapper Vinton Grey Cerf used to enjoy blowing up things.

At the age of 10, he got his first chemistry set and, together with a cohort, made match-head rockets and mixed chemicals to mimic volcanoes in his backyard in California.Vint Cerf

“I read a book called The Boy Scientist and knew I wanted to be one,” he says.

Today, half a century later, that incendiary boy is the acknowledged “father of the Internet”. And it comes as no surprise he’s still dabbling with rocket science. Cerf is currently a visiting scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The admitted sci-fi buff is laying the specs for mankind’s first extraterrestrial contact and taking the Internet to infinity and beyond; to boldly go where no modem has been before.

In this interview, the amiable co-inventor of TCP/IP — the data transmission protocols that formed the basis for the Internet on earth 30 years ago — reveals he is partial to fine wine, channel surfs for Star Trek re-runs and personally books his wife’s hotel rooms on trips.

Vint, as he prefers to be called, also talks about the shuttle tragedy and the implications for the Interplanetary Internet project and comments on the infernal menace of spam, blogging and the dire possibility of an Internet “takedown”.

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Kalpana Chawla: Destined For The Stars

kalpana : any desire of the present or future, also refers to imagination or fantasy.

“I pretty much had my dreams, like anybody else and I followed them. People around me fortunately always encouraged and said ‘if that’s what you want to do carry on’.” Kalpana Chawla , just prior to leaving on her last mission.

Kalpana ChawlaIT IS EASY to spot Kalpana Chawla in pre-flight pictures of the ill-fated Columbia shuttle mission. While her crewmates looked snug in their lumpy orange suits, Kalpana looked like hers was two sizes too large.

Her smallish frame belied the credentials of a career astronaut who, until Saturday’s tragedy, seemed destined to reach greater heights in NASA’s male-dominated hierarchy.

At 41, Kalpana held a doctorate in aerospace engineering, a commercial pilot’s licence, a flight instructor’s licence, had racked up seven years of experience at the distinguished NASA Ames Research Center and as vice president of a private research company.

On her first shuttle mission in 1997, she had logged 376 hours and 34 minutes in space, exceeding even the celebrated first American woman in space — Sally Ride.

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Blurred line of weblogs

12:00AM Tuesday September 10, 2002

By JULIAN MATTHEWS

On July 26, a veteran journalist for the Houston Chronicle was fired after he was outed for maintaining a weblog, or online journal.

Steve Olafson covered the Brazoria County beat, but on the side - without telling his bosses - he also adopted the pseudonym Banjo Jones and posted personal commentaries and musings on a weblog called Brazosport News.

Olafson confessed the weblog was just a “creative outlet”. But some of the writing belittled rival papers and mocked local politicians, raising the ire of Chronicle editor Jeff Cohen, who promptly sacked him.

The incident makes an interesting argument on what is expected of an employee both on and off duty.
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Levi’s Sites Caught With Pants Down

By Julian Matthews

Crackers defaced multiple Web sites belonging to apparel-maker Levi Strauss & Co. on Friday including flagships levi.com and dockers.com.

Jeff Beckman, a spokesperson for the company, said the server was immediately shut down shortly after the intrusion happened at about 12:30 p.m. EDT.

“The global ’splash’ pages of levi.com and dockers.com were affected. Anyone trying to get into our regional sites via our global ’splash’ pages was unable to during the two to three hours downtime,” he said.

Beckman confirmed that corporate site Levistrauss.com was also affected on the same day.

The hack was claimed by “Perfect.br”, an active Internet vandal of various sites around the world, and had been reported to security mirror sites safemode.org and alldas.de.

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Asian job portals find niche on Net

By Julian Matthews
Published in ZDNet, Dec 29 2000

Dotcom demises and corporate belt-tightening has refocused interest on one bright spot on the cloudy Internet horizon — online recruitment services. More job-seekers are posting resumes on the Web, while more employers are turning online to save on hiring costs.

KUALA LUMPUR - Staff cuts and the looming specter of an economic slowdown in 2001 are likely to see increased traffic in job portals. In the last year, most online recruitment services claim usage has been on the rise, and are busy regionalizing their operations in anticipation of growth.
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Online Tiger Sale Offer Condemned

Published on Newsbytes, By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, 2000 OCT 25 (NB) — A Thai zoo owner’s proposal to sell tigers over the Internet in an attempt to save the big cats from extinction has been condemned as “ludicrous” by Traffic, an international wildlife trade watchdog.

“We are appalled at the mere suggestion of tigers or tiger parts being traded online,” said Traffic International Communications Manager Sabri Zain. “The suggestion that selling tigers over the Net will save them from extinction is ludicrous. The reverse may indeed be more likely. There is the very real possibility that it may even fuel a renewed demand that will drive tigers over the brink of extinction,” he said via e-mail.

Traffic is the joint wildlife trade monitoring program of conservation organization World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) and IUCN, the World Conservation Union.

Chuvit Pitakpornpallop, a prospective lawmaker who owns a zoo with about 30 tigers in Thailand’s northeast, made the suggestion in the Bangkok Post on Sunday.

Chuvit, who is standing in upcoming elections under the Thai Rak Thai Party banner, said that if Thailand amended its laws to allow commercial production and sale of tigers online, about 20,000 could be raised domestically over the next decade and wipe out black market demand.

Sabri countered that there appears to be no sound scientific basis for those figures. “Tigers are not cattle. The idea that a single country can ‘raise’ a population of tigers in captivity that is almost four times the total number of tigers in the wild today is far-fetched, to say the least. Previous experience with tiger farms has shown that breeding tigers can be fraught with problems,” he said.
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‘Alien’ substance caused Dell notebook battery to ignite

By Julian Matthews, ZDNet Asia
October 23, 2000 7:36 PM PT

KUALA LUMPUR - An ‘alien’ substance was mixed into the production process of the battery that caused a Dell customer’s notebook to burst into flames and prompted a recall last week.

“As a result of analysis, we defined the cause of the short circuit that occurred in one cell was due to mixing of an alien substance at one production process,” said Yoshiyuki Arikawa, a spokesperson of battery-supplier Soft Energy Company, a unit of Japanese consumer giant Sanyo Electric Co Ltd.

In the e-mail response to ZDNet Asia, Arikawa did not define what the ‘alien’ substance could be or how it entered the production process. Bloomberg, quoting another Sanyo spokesperson, reported Tuesday that “a piece of metal found its way into the battery.”
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Dell Asia Pacific notebooks are flame-free

By Julian Matthews
17 October 2000

‘Flaming notebook’ harks back to Apple incident in 1995 also involving Lithium-Ion batteries.

KUALA LUMPUR — Dell Asia Pacific has confirmed that none of the notebooks shipped out of its two factories in Penang and China has faulty batteries that can cause units to burst into flames.

“None in Asia. Batteries shipped with our notebooks manufactured at our plants in Penang and Xiamen are not affected,” said Judy Low, spokesperson of Dell Asia Pacific.

She said the recall applies specifically to batteries sold with Dell notebooks shipped directly to customers in North, Central and South America from June 22 through September 15, 2000, and in Europe, the Middle East and Africa from June 22 through October 4, 2000.

Models that may be affected include the Latitude CPiA, CPiR, CPtC, CPtS, CPtV, CPxH and CPxJ, and Inspiron 3700 and 3800.

Dell Computer Corporation recalled 27,000 suspect batteries Friday after one US corporate customer reported a battery in a Dell notebook short-circuiting in a puff of smoke and catching fire. No one was injured in the incident.
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