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Tuesday, April 1st 2008

5:34 AM

computer motherboard manufacturer uses waste energy from hot chips to cool them !

MSI ECOlution chipset cooler operates on the Stirling Engine Theory

MSI has designed a new chipset cooling fan that is able to operate without electricity. MSI’s new chipset cooler, which is accordingly dubbed the “Air Power Cooler,” offers all of the benefits of a cooler with a fan without drawing any power.   

Energy efficiency of fans can make a large difference, especially in enterprise environments where hundreds of PCs are running at once.  Although passive cooling is always an option, it doesn’t offer the cooling capability of a fan.

The new MSI cooler isn’t a passive cooler but actually uses a fan to cool the chipset without using any electricity. Ironically, the fan gets its power from the very thing it’s trying to remove — thermal energy.

The system is based on a beta Stirling engine. As hot air expands in the system, it applies pressure to the central piston in the heatsink pushing it up. The piston's movement upwards rotates gears which in turn spin the fan. Thermal energy generated by the chipset is converted into kinetic energy.

The fan blows through a common looking finned radiator to disperse the Northbridge’s heat production.

MSI tells DailyTech that the system is able to convert 70% of heat power to kinetic energy. It is important to note that enough heat must be supplied to spin the fan blades. If the chipset isn’t hot enough, the entire system will not run.

MSI is working on the cooler with Taiwanese company Polo-Tech. The powerless fan is expected to make its debut on MSI’s ECOlution during CeBIT 2008.

Can you tell the difference between music that passed through a pricey Monster stereo Cable, and a coat hanger? A reader forwarded us a post from the Audioholics Home Theater Forum and its author says no. He says his brother ran an experiment on him and four other audio aficionados listening to a new CD from a new group blindfolded. Seven different songs were played, each time heard with the speaker hooked up to Monster Cables, and the other time, hooked up to coat hanger wire. Nobody could determine which was the Monster Cable and which was the coat hanger. The kicker? None of the subjects even knew that coat hangers were going to be used. This is, of course, "nothing new," a Google of "monster cables vs coat hangers" shows that some users have been saying this for a while. Still, this is an experiment begging to be recreated under controlled conditions (say, for instance, a double-blind test). Science fair project! Read how it went down, inside...
I'm so sorry, but I do not buy into 90% of the hype brought to us audiophiles by the commercial sector of our hobby and the home entertainment industry at large. My brother, an audio engineering whiz kid has proven to me what is real and what is not. Let me rehearse with you an example of how he does this.

We gathered up a 5 of our audio buddies. We took my "old" Martin Logan SL-3 (not a bad speaker for accurate noise making) and hooked them up with Monster 1000 speaker cables [ed. Monster Ultra Series THX 1000 Audio Interconnects] (decent cables according to the audio press). We also rigged up 14 gauge, oxygen free Belden stranded copper wire with a simple PVC jacket. Both were 2 meters long. They were connected to an ABX switch box allowing blind fold testing. Volume levels were set at 75 Db at 1000K Hz. A high quality recording of smooth, trio, easy listening jazz was played (Piano, drums, bass). None of us had heard this group or CD before, therefore eliminating biases. The music was played. Of the 5 blind folded, only 2 guessed correctly which was the monster cable. (I was not one of them). This was done 7 times in a row! Keeping us blind folded, my brother switched out the Belden wire (are you ready for this) with simple coat hanger wire! Unknown to me and our 12 audiophile buddies, prior to the ABX blind test, he took apart four coat hangers, reconnected them and twisted them into a pair of speaker cables. Connections were soldered. He stashed them in a closet within the testing room so we were not privy to what he was up to. This made for a pair of 2 meter cables, the exact length of the other wires. The test was conducted. After 5 tests, none could determine which was the Monster 1000 cable or the coat hanger wire. Further, when music was played through the coat hanger wire, we were asked if what we heard sounded good to us. All agreed that what was heard sounded excellent, however, when A-B tests occurred, it was impossible to determine which sounded best the majority of the time and which wire was in use. Needless to say, after the blind folds came off and we saw what my brother did, we learned he was right...most of what manufactures have to say about their products is pure hype. It seems the more they charge, the more hyped it is.

This is for a short run of cable. If you're going over 50 ft, then you may benefit from better shielding, but for most home people's home theaters, this is not the case. Remember folks, just because something performs better spec-wise doesn't mean it actually sounds better. Specs are one thing, psychoacoustics are another. Of course, a coat hanger doesn't have a Monster Cable lifetime warranty, so if your coat hanger breaks, you'll have to go out and buy another coat hanger.

beautiful home-made door with led lit design.

hit the title link for the how-to.

Deep packet inspection gear has long had the ability to peer inside users' datastreams to pull out all sorts of interesting information, but a UK company called Phorm is taking DPI to the next level by using it to sell ads. The company's ambitious goal: segment users into small and highly-accurate "channels" by reading the URLs they visit, the search terms they use, and the content of the pages they visit. The resulting channels are then sold to advertisers who are salivating at the thought of better targeting. Actual users are predictably less thrilled, however, and a row over the issue has erupted in Britain.

Phorm made its announcement on Valentine's Day. The company said that it had inked deals with the three largest ISPs in the UK: BT, Talk Talk, and Virgin Media. The ISPs will place Phorm's gear inline on their networks, where it will have access to the datastream of all users. Phorm charges advertisers for access to highly-targeted customers, and it splits this revenue with the ISP. In addition to offering the benefit of more relevant ads, the company says that its gear will also warn users if they happen to visit phishing sites. So everyone wins, in theory.

But plenty of users don't see it that way. Web sites like BadPhorm have already sprung up, encouraging users to take action by pressuring their MPs and by complaining to ISPs.

The story has gained significant traction in the UK this week, with multiple pieces in the major UK media outlets. The Register even had the chance to interview Phorm's CEO on Friday at the company's London offices, and CEO Kent Ertegrul made clear that Phorm has nothing to hide. In fact, it welcomes scrutiny and has opened its system up to inspection by groups like Privacy International. Phorm claims that its system is far better for privacy than, say, Google's AdSense, since the analysis of the datastream is done in memory and only the user's "data digest" (stripped of all identifying information) is retained.

The real story of Phorm is "how you can run an advertising service and store nothing," Ertegrul told The Register. He's also convinced that raising the value of online ads will actually lead to less advertising on the sites that use Phorm's Open Internet Exchange (OIX), since web site operators know that ads interfere with content. We'll see.

Ertegrul knows that he needs to overcome consumers' gut reactions to the idea of advertisers targeting them based on clickstream data, but Phorm isn't helped in that work by having once been an adware (not spyware, it insists) provider. Before changing its name to Phorm last year, the company was known as 121Media, and it offered adware services including PeopleOnPage, which would show you others who were browsing a web page and allow you to chat with them (while showing you ads).

Also controversial is the idea that ISPs would simply opt all of their users into the scheme. Final announcements haven't been made, but this does seem the only real way to ensure enough participation to make the whole exercise worthwhile. Fortunately, opting out is as simple as blocking Phorm's cookie, and the company promises that no bandwidth throttling or other consequences will follow.

Where's the win-win?

All eyes are on Phorm and the UK's top ISPs to see if users will eventually acquiesce to the idea of being tracked online. The likelihood of the system staying on the right side of the law seems great to us, but only if Phorm's claim that this technology is AdSense-like is upheld.

The bigger issue is customer reaction. When one thinks back to the launch of Gmail, which was really the first time that AdSense came in for a beating owing to some folks' concern over a machine reading their e-mail and serving ads based on them, the majority of users didn't sweat it. That had a lot to do with Gmail being a win-win situation: you got a great web-based e-mail client and (then an unheard of) 1GB of space. Most people overlooked the privacy issue and didn't think too deeply about it.

With Phorm's plan, there doesn't appear to be a win-win aside from perhaps some phishing alerts, which frankly doesn't get us too excited. Without that win-win, users will scrutinize the deal more heavily, even if it is truly machine-based like AdSense is.

Further reading:

UK's BT admits misleading customers over Phorm experiments

BT has admitted that it secretly used customer data to test Phorm's advertising targeting technology last summer, and that it covered it up when customers and The Register raised questions over the suspicious redirects.

The national telecoms provider now faces legal action from customers who are angry their web traffic was compromised.

Stephen Mainwaring, a BT Business customer in Weston-super-Mare, believes sensitive banking data relating to his online horse racing business was press-ganged into a trial of an unproven technology. He suffered sleepless nights after detecting the dodgy DNS requests, and said today: "It is very likely that I and others will take legal action against BT for what they did last summer."

In a statement, BT said: "We conducted a very small scale technical test of a prototype advertising platform on one exchange in June 2007. The test was specifically conducted to evaluate the functional and technical performance of the platform.

"Absolutely no personally identifiable information was processed, stored or disclosed during this trial. As with all service providers, it is important for BT to ensure that, before any potential new technologies are employed, they are robust and fit for purpose."

Speaking to El Reg on Friday, Stephen agreed: "Absolutely, new technologies should be stringently tested, but not using mine and my customers' data. If they wanted to run a trial, they should have asked. I would have told them I did not want to be part of it.

"I note the statement, 'absolutely no personally identifiable information was processed, stored or disclosed'. That means that all my information was processed, stored or disclosed but the personal bits were filtered out. Clearly that was unlawful."

Stephen has already filed a complaint with the Information Commissioner's Office and is consulting on how to proceed through the courts with other BT subscribers who believe their connection was subject to illegal Phorm tests.

Today, he and a fellow BT customer also disputed the claim that only one exchange was involved in the covert testing.

Spike, a Reg reader based in Brighton and Hove, also noticed dodgy redirects of his web traffic last July to sysip.net, a domain owned by Phorm. He wrote about the mystery here at the time.

Spike and Stephen urged other BT customers who believe they may have been co-opted into last summer's secret trials to speak out.

We first asked BT about its relationship with Phorm in July 2007, when it was widely known as 121Media, a firm deeply involved in spyware. BT denied any testing and said customers whose DNS requests were being redirected must have a malware problem.

It wasn't until 14 February this year, when the deals between BT, Virgin Media and Carphone Warehouse to pimp customer web browsing were announced, that a cover-up was revealed. You can read the original story here.

BT's belated confession that it secretly used its customers' traffic to test the safety of ad targeting technology can only add to the distrust around Phorm, whose executive team includes a former BT Retail CTO. Several security firms have confirmed plans to classify Phorm's cookies - both for opting in and opting out of Webwise - as adware.

As part of its admission to the secret 2007 trials, BT also said it will follow Carphone Warehouse's lead and develop an opt-out that does not involve cookies and means no data will be mirrored to a profiling server, even if it is ignored. It follows serious concerns raised by experts on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) that Phorm's plan to use cookies to exclude people who opt-out is illegal.

BT repeated its insistence that the technology is legal, however. It said: "We are already developing an opt-out solution that would remove the need for opt-out cookies altogether. We have carried out significant due diligence in this area, and informed consent from our customers will satisfy the necessary legal requirements."

Yet some authorities on RIPA have argued that ISPs would also need permission from website owners to profile the content of their pages. BT has not responded to our questions on this point.

ISP data pimping has also invoked the ire of the Greatest Living Briton™. Today the BBC reports that Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web, has spoken out against ISP ad targeting. He summed up public opposition to the system: "It's [web traffic] mine - you can't have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me. I have to agree, I have to understand what I'm getting in return."

Meanwhile, the Downing Street petition against Phorm has now garnered almost 5,000 signatures.

Carphone Warehouse has said it will ensure that its subscribers are opted out of Phorm and Webwise by default. BT and Virgin Media have made no such promise.

You can follow all our reporting of Phorm over the last three weeks here. ®

All Linkin Park songs look the same

Linkin Park's singles often inspire the question "haven't they already written this song?" An mp3 that does the rounds from time to time mixes Numb (on the left) and Pushing Me Away (on the right) to illustrate this with almost comical effect: All Linken Park Songs Sound Exactly The Same.

As shown below, and forgive the hyperbole, much more than they sound the same all Linkin Park songs look the same. And while it's easy to criticize the band for their overuse of a formula that's by now cliche, the similarity between their tracks at least holds a lesson on the importance of song arrangement in pop music production.

The Linkin Park Formula

The standard Linkin Park structure looks like this:

  1. Quiet intro: Each song has a relatively quiet two-measure intro.
  2. The instrumental kicker: The full band come in together on the down-beat, and play two or four high energy measures, usually instrumental.
  3. Quiet verse: The song eases off for a verse or two, heightening the dynamic contrast between the song's sections.
  4. Heavy chorus: Usually the same chords established in the kicker, with Chester screaming over top for added emotion.

Here's how it "looks" in practice. Each image below shows the audio level in (roughly) the first 90 seconds of a Linkin Park song. Note that I adjusted the tempo of a few tracks for better visual alignment:

If the pattern isn't clear to you, mouse-over each image to highlight the 4 sections: Intro, kicker, verse, chorus. And click the title to hear the song on Youtube.

There's nothing particularly surprising or innovative about the structure. But its repeated use by Linkin Park is clearly successful: They're one of a few acts still selling lots of CDs.

Why It Works

There are several reasons why this song formula works, and whether or not you record pop music, understanding the reasons will make you a better producer:

Dynamic contrast: Our senses are drawn to change (remember why we listen to reference tracks while mixing?) so we find dynamic, evolving sounds more interesting. The up-and-down of a typical Linkin Park song grabs listeners' attention on an instinctive level.

Memorable hooks: Because it's often jarring, the kicker at the start of Linkin Park's songs is memorable, and makes for a great hook. Pop songs hit or miss mainly on the effectiveness of their hooks.

Familiarity: For lovers, it breeds contempt. For pop music artists, familiarity breeds fans. It's a truism in the traditional music industry that to succeed, a band needs a "sound." Linkin Park's re-use of the same basic song structure makes their music instantly recognizable, and lets their listeners feel immediately comfortable with new material.

Again, you may not write or record pop music. You may even despise the stuff. But knowing why a band would choose to re-use a formula like this will help you make better decisions about your own song arrangements (even if only to avoid having your music compared to Linkin Park.)

Cheap Gimmick?

What does this say about Linkin Park's music?

On one hand, the band and their producers deserve kudos for finding and exploiting a successful formula. They're in the entertainment business, after all, and appealing to fans is any entertainer's number one job.

On the other hand, it's hard not to view the six images above as a statement on the music industry. The major labels decry the actions of listeners who download music from free sources. But this is the alternative they offer: The same song, repackaged six different ways. The vast majority of music listeners who aren't Linkin Park fans ask the same question I did in the first sentence, "Haven't they already written this song?" And the obvious follow-up question, "Why would I pay for it more than once?"

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Tuesday, April 1st 2008

4:49 AM

Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight

anyone who has seen 1983's film BRAINSTORM, will know what a wonderful thing it would be to RECORD experiences directly for playback later. the 1995 film STRANGE DAYS played with similar ideas of recording the brain's information chatter amongst itself.
what would it be like to have such an introverted glimpse into one's self?
well, one very real scientist got that chance when one day she had a slow oncoming stroke and decided to ride it out and remember the whole thing!

she is forever changed after the experience, and she shares it with us here to change us so we don't have to go as far as she did for the same goal.

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Saturday, March 29th 2008

7:20 AM

Leaked Official RIAA training video links music piracy with drug dens and terrorism!

This is the kind of company that is making sure the public get the music they want at a price they want to pay?

Produced with the National District Attorneys Association, tells viewers that cracking down on music piracy will lead them to murders, drug dealers, and even terrorists!

An official RIAA training video has been leaked that is every bit as humorous as you'd expect it to be. The same group of uber intellectuals that brought you raids and lawsuits against grandmothers, college students, kids, disabled veterans, and even the deceased has made produced a training video for law enforcement that truly baffles the mind.

The first question given in the video clip below is why music piracy should be addressed in the first place. A respondent replies that because it "affects the quality of life in a DA's district" and that "it's a link to a lot of other crimes." According to her it can be used to "get into a drug house that you couldn't get in before" and that it can even "have links to terrorists organizations for those Federal prosecutors out there."

Just when you though they'd completely lost it, she then says that some people even sell guns and drugs with bootleg CDs. I know I've never heard of a "Pearl Jam & Pot special" and I'm sure that I'm not alone.

The other person on the panel even furthers these incredulous claims with his story of how in some places people actually ask if "'Would you like it WITH or WITHOUT?' The 'with' is a CD enclosing a piece of crack or whatever the case may be."

Honestly, has anybody ever even heard of this nonsense? I mean are drug dealers really savvy enough or have the time to download and burn pirated music?

Drugs as a whole would make you more money and at a faster rate than a lame bootleg copy of the new Britney Spears could ever fetch. So it's almost insulting to hear them try to make their point with a straight face.

RIAA Keeps Settlement Money, Artists May Sue
Imagine you had someone in debt to you, so you hire a debt collector to get your owed money. the debt collector successfully gets the money....and then KEEPS IT!
So now someone else owes you money again and nothing changes for you.

Despite collecting an estimated several hundred million dollars in P2P related settlements from the likes of Napster, KaZaA and Bolt, prominent artists’ managers are complaining that so far, they haven’t received any compensation from the labels. According to a lawyer, some are considering legal action.

When EMI, Universal Music and Warner music reached settlement agreements with the likes of Napster, KaZaA and Bolt, they collected hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation - money that was supposed to go to artists whose rights had been allegedly infringed upon when the networks were operating with unlicensed music.

Now, according to an article, the managers of some major artists are getting very impatient, as it appears the very people who were supposed to be compensated - the artists - haven’t received anything from the massive settlements. They say the cash - estimated to be as much as $400m - hasn’t filtered through to their clients and understandably they’re getting very impatient.

Lawyer John Branca, who has represented the likes of The Rolling Stones and Korn, said: “Artist managers and lawyers have been wondering for months when their artists will see money from the copyright settlements and how it will be accounted for.”

Indicating the levels of impatience with the big labels holding the money he added: “Some of them are even talking about filing lawsuits if they don’t get paid soon.”

Of course, EMI, Universal and Warner have a different take on the delay, with sources suggesting that it’s down to the difficulties in deciding who gets what money, based on the levels of copyright infringement for each individual group or artist.

A recording industry on the back foot having spent most of its time fighting the digital revolution rather than becoming part of it, is clearly trying to hang on to every penny, even when it comes to compensating the artists who they claim they were defending by taking legal action in the first place.

Irving Azoff, who manages Christina Aguilera, The Eagles, Van Halen, REO Speedwagon and Seal (amongst others) says it’s hard for artists to get what they deserve from the labels: “They will play hide and seek, but eventually will be forced to pay something,” he said. “The record companies have even tried to credit unrecouped accounts. It’s never easy for an artist to get paid their fair share.”

Typically, the labels see it a different way. An EMI spokeperson said that it was “sharing proceeds from the Napster and Kazaa settlements with artists and writers whose work was infringed upon” while Warner’s said the label is “sharing the Napster settlement with its recording artists and songwriters, and at this stage nearly all settlement monies have been disbursed.”

The Universal spokesman spoke only of the label’s ‘policy’ of sharing “its portion of various settlements with its artists, regardless of whether their contracts require it” with no mention of whether it had actually done this or not.

But typically, when money is involved, things start to get murky. The same sources who suggested the reasons for the delay in making payments are also suggesting that there might not be much money to even give to the artists.

It’s being claimed that after legal bills were subtracted from the hundreds of millions in settlements, there wasn’t much left over to hand out.

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Saturday, March 29th 2008

7:09 AM

Judge refutes RIAA's "MAKING AVAILABLE" claim.

p2pnet news RIAA News:- The mainstream media have already completely missed one of the most important events so far in the ongoing, and always vicious, fight between Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG and their own customers, whom they’ve ignominiously labelled “criminals” and “thieves”.

Last week Dutch P2P expert Johan Pouwelse deconstructed RIAA ‘expert’ Doug Jacobson’s ‘expert’ testimony, calling it “borderline incompetent” and saying allegations of copyright infringement levelled at a 57-year-old New York home health aide were “unproven”.

It went virtually unmentioned.

Will they similarly also miss what’s quite possibly the most important development so far?

Connecticut district judge Janet Bond Arterton has thrown out the RIAA’s infamous “making available” claim which comprises the bottom line for all the Big 4 P2P file sharing cases.

‘Prove it!’ - she says in effect.

Under the claim, the RIAA tries to assert merely having a shared files folder that can be accessed is copyright infringement, a specious argument already explicitly dismissed by judge Marilyn Hall Patel in her Napster decision.

In Canada, justice Konrad von Finckenstein ruled, “No evidence was presented that the alleged infringers either distributed or authorised the reproduction of sound recordings. They merely placed personal copies into their shared directories which were accessible by other computer user(s) via a P2P service.”

Then a year later almost to the day, New York social worker Tenise Barker came under attack with the RIAA arguing that simply making a file available in and of itself constitutes a copyright infringement.

“Were the courts to accept this misguided view of copyright law, it could mean that anyone who has had a shared files folder, even for a moment, that contained copyrighted files in it, would be guilty of copyright infringement, even though the copies in the folder were legally obtained, and even though no illegal copies had ever been made of them,” Ray Beckerman, one of the attorneys representing Barker, told p2pnet.

Matt Foster, a lawyer with Indiana Legal Services, unearthed this latest case, says Beckerman in Recording Industry vs The People.

In Atlantic v Brennan, in a 9-page opinion (pdf), district judge Janet Bond Arterton ruled the RIAA has to to prove “actual distribution of copies” and can’t rely on the mere fact there are song files on the defendant’s computer, and that they were “available”.

“This is the same issue that’s been the subject of extensive briefing in two contested cases in Elektra v. Barker and Warner v. Cassin,” says Beckerman.

Arterton also held the defendant —- who wasn’t even present at the decision —- had other possible defenses, such as whether or not the RIAA’s efforts to claim $750 for each allegedly infringed song is unconstitutional, and possible copyright misuse flowing from the record companies’ anticompetitive behavior.

Definitely stay tuned for this one.

New legislation has a chance at doing away with US wireless carriers' practices of phone subsidies, long-term contracts, and steep termination fees. With provisions that would require clearer language from carriers and non-subsidized handsets and plans, even Apple could be forced to open up the iPhone to other networks.

The iPhone is at the center of yet another squabble over US mobile phone consumers' rights. After "permanently inoperable" firmware updates, a class action targeting mobile phone locking practices, and even an unlocking exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 

Only a draft called "Wireless Consumer Protection and Community Broadband Empowerment Act of 2008" (PDF link) for now, the bill is sponsored by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and actually has some broad intentions: "To require the Federal Communications Commission to promulgate new consumer protection regulations for wireless service subscribers, to restrict State and local regulation of public providers of advanced communications capability and service, to increase spectrum efficiency by Federal agencies, and for other purposes."

The bill begins by noting the over 250 million mobile phone subscribers in the US, many of whom have replaced their home phone altogether. With this in mind, the bill mentions that the wireless industry is still practicing a number of shady tactics like inordinately long contract periods and high termination fees. Toss in more gripes about keeping customers in the dark over contract charges and coverage maps, as well as even a few comments about ubiquitous, affordable broadband service being a "policy priority for the Nation," and Markey has the makings of a fairly pro-consumer bill on his hands.

Indeed, this isn't the first bill of its kind. The Cell Phone Empowerment Act of 2007 also had early termination fees and hidden charges squarely in its sights. To their (slight) credit, however, some of the carriers are at least making a minimal effort now that more pro-consumer legislation like this is appearing in greater numbers. AT&T announced in October last year that it will prorate termination fees and no longer require contract extensions just for a change in calling plans.

Not much has changed since the Act of 2007 was introduced, and Markey's bill hopes to change that. Among the proposed changes, carriers would be required to offer "subsidy-free" mobile phones sans long contacts, but (somehow) at prices comparable to current subsidized equipment and plan prices. These changes could greatly affect already high-priced and high-profile devices like Apple's iPhone. Markey's bill would also require wireless carriers to be a more up front about everything from termination fees and additional state taxes to spelling out coverage maps in greater detail.

Going above and beyond wireless carriers, however, Markey also seeks to pave the way for more municipal broadband projects. Like the Community Broadband Act introduced in August 2007, Markey's bill states that such services "are in the public interest, and no State should thwart the ability of a community to seek to provide such services to its citizens." Established telecoms are obviously none too thrilled about initiatives like this, as they have lobbied fiercely in the past to stop cities like Seattle from laying fiber when the ruling provider—Qwest, in this case—doesn't even have plans to lay its own.

Microsoft lowered Vista requirements to help Intel sell incompatible chipsets

As far back as 2005, Microsoft executives knew that confusing hardware requirements for the Windows Vista Capable program might get them in trouble. But they did it anyway--over the objection of PC makers--at the behest of Intel, according to e-mails released as part of a class-action lawsuit pending against Microsoft.

In early 2006, Intel's Renee James, vice president and general manager of Intel's software and solutions group, was able to prevail on Microsoft's Will Poole to change the proposed requirements for Microsoft's proposed "Vista Ready" marketing program to include an older integrated graphics chipset that couldn't run Vista's Aero interface. At the time, Intel was worried that it wouldn't be able to ship the more advanced 945 chispet, which was capable of running Aero, in step with Microsoft's proposed schedule for the introduction of the marketing upgrade plan.

This led to the creation of the "Vista Capable" logo, which is the reason Microsoft is now in court, facing a class-action lawsuit on the part of PC owners who bought so-called Vista Capable machines in late 2006 only to find those machines could only run Vista Basic, which doesn't feature the Aero interface. The potential for confusion was well-understood both outside the company, as noted here in this CNET News.com story from March 2006, and within the company, as multiple e-mail threads reveal.

Intel's Renee James, head of the chip maker's software and solutions group

(Credit: Intel)

A treasure trove of e-mails has been released as part of that case, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Todd Bishop has spotlighted a number of e-mails that call into question whether Microsoft was acting, at least in part, on Intel's behalf when it set the requirements for the Vista Capable marketing program. (Read all the e-mails released by the court in this PDF.) Several pages of e-mails were redacted by the court. All e-mails quoted in this report were taken verbatim, typos and all, from a PDF file put together by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in a blog posted by Bishop yesterday.

"In the end, we lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with the 915 graphics embedded," Microsoft's John Kalkman wrote in a February 2007 e-mail to Scott Di Valerio, who at the time managed Microsoft's relationships with the PC companies and recently took a job with Lenovo. The change took place in January 2006, and was formally rolled out by Poole, currently corporate vice president of Microsoft's unlimited potential group, without the knowledge of Jim Allchin, the now-departed Microsoft executive who was supposed to be in charge of Vista's development

Intel declined to comment on specific e-mails until it had a chance to review them. But in response to the Kalkman e-mail, read to a Intel representative, the company said, "We do not know who John Kalkman is. We do know that he is not qualified to know anything about Intel's internal financials or forecasts related to chipsets, motherboard or any other products. He would have no visibility into our financial needs in any given quarter."

Jim Allchin

Jim Allchin, Microsoft's former head of Windows development, currently retired

(Credit: Microsoft)

The planning for the Vista Capable program started long before it was publicly announced in May 2006, a few months after the final delay in Vista's ship date was announced. The idea was to mimic what Microsoft did with Windows XP, to assure customers buying PCs sold within a few months of the launch date that their hardware could run the new operating system when it was formally released. This helps PC makers avoid a swoon in demand in the weeks and months prior to the launch of a new operating system.

Microsoft knew that Vista's Aero interface would put a significant strain on the hardware used in those PCs, and so in 2005 it started putting requirements together for the Vista Ready program using Intel's 945 chipset as the baseline chipset needed for designation as "Vista Ready."

Eric Charbonneau, an unidentified Microsoft executive, told his direct reports in August 2005 in an e-mail that the older 915 chipset wouldn't cut it. "Any OEM who plans to ship an Intel 915 chipset system (using UMA, without separate discrete graphics hardware) for Summer 2006 needs to know that: 1. Their systems will not be eligible for the Windows Vista Ready designation..." Simply put, the 915 chipset couldn't support the Windows Vista Display Driver Model (WDDM), and that capability was a requirement at the time for being able to slap a "Vista Ready" sticker on a PC.

However, at some point between that e-mail and January 2006, Microsoft changed its stance on the 915 chipset. The 945 chipset was Intel's top-of-the-line integrated graphics chipset when it was introduced in May 2005, but it still sold lots of lower-end 915 chipsets in both desktops and notebooks. Intel didn't launch the notebook version of the 945 chipset until January 2006, and was apparently concerned that it would be unable to get enough 945 systems into the market by the middle of 2006, the (at the time) launch expectation for the Vista Ready program.

With notebooks a far-faster growing segment of the PC market than desktops, Intel apparently felt that if only 945 chipsets were deemed Vista Ready, that demand for systems with 915 chipsets--still a significant mix of its products--would fall off the face of the earth. And also, that it would be unable to produce enough 945 chipsets to meet its committments to PC makers--orders that might otherwise go to Advanced Micro Devices.

"In the end, we lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with the 915 graphics embedded."
--John Kalkman, Microsoft

In January 2006, Poole sent an e-mail to several Microsoft executives informing them that the plan had changed, and that Intel approved. "I went over the new plan with Renee tonight. Not surprisingly, she is pleased with the outcome. I told her we wanted to communicate to OEMs and retail first, and then they can cascade their own communication. They are losing orders every day, so we need to get a simple communication out ASAP."

In February 2006, one month after Will Poole informed the Vista team of the decision, Microsoft's Will Johnson wrote an e-mail laying out some more of the specifics.

"We have removed the WDDM requirement for Vista Capable machines, the modern CPU and 512 RAM requirements remain intact, but the specific component that enables the graphical elements of Windows Vista (re: aeroglass) has been removed. This was based on a huge concern raised by Intel regarding 945 chipset production supply and the fact that we wanted to get as many PCs as possible logo'd by the 4/1 US retail REV date. The push to retail should be that while this opens up a wider band of machines to being Vista Capable retailers should be very aggressive in communicating to their OEMs (and thus Intel) to maximize production of 945 chipset equipped machines going forward."

According to e-mails exchanged, many inside Microsoft were appalled at the decision to let Intel's supply concerns dictate its marketing policies. Now Microsoft had to go out and create a two-tiered program promoting both "Vista Capable" machines and "Vista Premium Ready" machines.

A Vista Capable sticker would simply mean the PC could run Vista Basic, allowing PC makers to promote their PCs as "Vista" PCs while glossing over the fact that the minimum hardware requirements for that label couldn't really handle the improved graphics that were one of the major reasons to upgrade to Vista. This confusion was exactly what Microsoft and its PC partners hoped to avoid when they were first drawing up the requirements in the first place, and several e-mails show those concerns were shared widely prior to, and following, Poole's decision.

Hewlett-Packard was particularly incensed, since it had decided to adopt Intel's 945 chipset more aggressively, believing it was the only chipset that would support the Vista Ready program.

Microsoft's Mark Croft wrote in response to Poole's e-mail that, "We need good messaging for the elimination of WDDM in Capable, as we have had this as a requirement since inception over 18 months ago."

But perhaps the most surprised executive inside Microsoft at the move was Allchin, the head of the Vista development team.

"We really botched this," he wrote in a thread responding to Poole's e-mail. "I was not involved in the decision making process and I will support it because I trust you thinking behind the logic. BUT, you have to do a better job with customers that what was shown here. This was especially true because you put me out on a limb making a commitment. This is not ok."

Will Poole, co-head of Microsoft's emerging markets efforts, who authored the e-mail acknowledging pressure from Intel.

(Credit: Microsoft)

Later, in a private e-mail, Mike Ybarra of Microsoft pleaded with Alchin to step in and reverse the decision. "Jim, I am passionate about this and believe this decision is a mistake," he wrote. "We are caving to Intel. We worked hard the last 18 months to drive the UI experience and we are giving this up."

Allchin appeared to agree in his response, but seemed resigned to fate.

"It might be a mistake. I wasn't involved and it is hard for me to step in now and reverse everything again," he wrote to Ybarra. "We might be able to thread the needle here if we make 'capable' just related to 'old' type hardware."

And so, confusion began, just as Microsoft employees and partners predicted it would. Some Microsoft marketing units started saying that the even older 865 chipset would now qualify for the Vista logo program, which was squashed. But it was easy to see where the confusion stemmed once the requirement for WDDM was dropped, as essentially anything relatively modern that could easily run Windows XP would be capable of running Vista Basic.

Anantha Kancheria wrote to Rajesh Srinivasan as part of a discussion in March 2006 around the 865 confusion, and employed a little gallows humor.

"Based on the objective criteria that exist today for capable even a piece of junk would qualify. So based on that yes 865 would qualify. For the sake of Vista customers, it would be a complete tragedy if we allowed it. I don't know how to help you prevent it."

The 865 was eventually scrubbed from the program, but the 915 was allowed to remain. And so, PCs with the 915 chipset were sold as Windows Vista Capable, while others sold with the 945 chipset or better were labeled Vista Premium Ready. As predicted, confusion ensued, and even Microsoft executives and directors were snared.

Steve Sinofsky, the former head of Microsoft office development and current head of Windows and Windows Live development, wrote an e-mail to Microsoft's Brad Goldberg in July 2006 asking about a Dell Latitude he purchased that he thought was labeled as "Vista Ready," but in reality didn't have enough graphics hardware to run Vista.

Steven Sinofsky

Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft senior vice president, Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group

(Credit: Microsoft)

Goldberg, then vice president of Windows product management, explained, "Some PCs that are windows vista capable will run aero and some will not. In the interim we've created a marketing designation that allows OEMs to market PCs as "premium ready." every pc that is premium ready will run aero."

Goldberg continued, "for holiday oems will be heavily pushing premium ready machines but because Intel was late with their integrated chipset the majority of the machines on the market today are windows vista capable but not premium ready. originally we wanted to set the capable bar around aero but there are a bunch of reasons why we had to back off...a bit messy and a long story that I'm happy to walk you through if helpful. " Goldberg has since been reassigned.

In January 2007, Jon Shirley, a former Microsoft COO and current member of the board of directors, wrote CEO Steve Ballmer an e-mail complaining about driver support for some peripherals he wanted to use with his Vista PC. Ballmer forwarded the e-mail to Sinofsky, asking for input on whether Microsoft should be doing anything differently.

Sinofsky launched into a post-mortem on Vista itself, with this graph pertaining to Intel.

"Intel has the biggest challenge. Their "945" chipset which is the baseline Vista set "barely" works right now and is very broadly used. The "915" chipset which is not Aero capable is in a huge number of laptops and was tagged as "Vista Capable" but not Vista Premium. I don't know if this was a good call. But these function will never be great. Even the 945 set has new builds of drivers coming out consistently but hopes are on the next chipset rather than this one."

Ballmer's response? "Righto thanks."

Microsoft is now defending itself against claims the Vista Capable program was misleading and unfair, all thanks to a decision to allow Intel to sell older chipsets that couldn't run Vista's Aero interface--really one of the main reasons to upgrade--with the word "Vista" attached. As the e-mails show, many within the company knew they were heading down this path when they embarked on a two-tier logo program, but the need to keep Intel happy--over the objection of the world's largest PC maker--won out in the end.

UPDATED: 6:25 p.m., PST - Microsoft issued the following statement after this blog was posted: "We included the 915 chipset as part of the Windows Vista Capable program based on successful testing of beta versions of Windows Vista on the chipset and the broad availability of the chipset in the market. Computers equipped with this chipset were and are capable of being upgraded to Windows Vista Home Basic. Microsoft authorized the use of the Premium Ready designation on PCs that could support premium features of Windows Vista."

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Monday, March 17th 2008

1:13 AM

Oz admits $85m p0rn filtering FAIL

The Australian government has admitted that the AUS$85m it spent trying to protect kiddies from internet porn was AUS$85m too many.

Little more than six months after Oz rolled out a free internet filter for concerned parents across the country, Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has dubbed the $85m scheme a "failure," reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

This porn-filtering effort is the centerpiece of the government's $189m NetAlert program, designed to keep Aussie minors away from sexual predators as well as less than wholesome online content.

When the free filter made its debut in August, officials predicted that 2.5m households would use the software within the year. But within minutes, a clever kiddie cracked its protection wide open. And as of today, only 144,000 copies have been downloaded or ordered on CD-ROM.

And of those 144,000, only 29,000 are actually being used.

"The program has clearly failed, despite over $15m being spent in advertising to support it," Conroy told The Sydney Morning Herald, before adding that filters aren't everything. "Labor has always said that PC filtering is not a stand-alone solution to protecting children from online dangers."

Then he added that the government has a new plan for battling unsavory online material - and it's all about filtering too. "The Government has a comprehensive cyber-safety plan that includes the implementation of mandatory ISP-based filtering to deliver a filtered feed to all homes, schools and public internet points. Education for parents and teachers as well as children is a priority."

Evolution Wins as Creationists (Accidentally) Switch Sides in Florida


The Florida Board of Education officially upheld evolution yesterday.

The board didn't quite mean to do that, of course. In a 4-3 vote, the Board accepted a proposed curriculum that replaced all references to evolution with the phrase "the scientific theory of evolution." In so doing, the board inadvertently made evolution central to public school science education, and also, almost incidentally, mandated education on just what constitutes a "scientific theory."

Until now, Florida's schools weren't required to teach evolution. The old curriculum guidelines didn't even mention it by name.

That state education officials would approve the new standards was not a foregone conclusion. Since last November, 12 county school boards passed resolutions calling for classroom evolution to be balanced by "alternatives" -- a polite euphemism for religiously orthodox explanations of life. The resolutions were non-binding, but raised fears that that the Board of Education would try to duck controversy by diluting the new standards.

Apart from being illegal, teaching creationism as science is a very bad idea. Students may not be permanently scarred by failing to learn about evolution at an early age -- though the National Academy of Science would surely disagree -- but, they're bound to be stunted if told that evolution and creationism are even remotely equivalent in any scientific sense.

Yesterday's decision is thus great news for Florida -- and perhaps for the nation. Had Florida backed down, Texas -- where a pro-evolution science education official was fired last year, and a curriculum revision is scheduled later this year -- might have followed suit. Together they exert enough purchasing power to drag the nation's textbook manufacturers with them, science be damned.

The 4-3 vote was obtained by including a last-minute wording change to the standards. Suggested by the state's education commissioner after he realized that the original version wouldn't pass, it required that the curriculum's references to "evolution" be replaced by the "scientific theory of evolution." Linda Calloway, who'd publicly opposed the original version in months leading up to the vote, ended up a supporter.

The amendment's supporters called the language change a victory -- and it is, though not in the way they imagine.

Not only will Florida's students learn about evolution; they'll also learn that the scientific definition of a theory is different from the everyday definition, referring not to wild-eyed speculation but to a vast body of observation and testing that confirms a hypothesis so strongly that it might as well be considered fact.

A big thank-you, then, to religious critics of evolution education. The language change will better help Florida's children understand not only evolution, but science itself. (If only this USA Today headline writer had the same education.)

Isn't democracy grand?

Note: People interested in how religious and scientific beliefs need not conflict should check out my Q&A with evangelical theologist Michael Dowd.

Note Two: I originally reported that the wording changes were known as the "academic freedom proposal." That actually referred to a separate amendment that was rejected by the Board.

Decision: Florida schools must teach evolution [Palm Beach Post]

Evolution joins curriculum
[St. Petersburg Times]

Dutch professor calls RIAA expert 'borderline incompetent'

ONE OF THE WORLD'S top experts in the science of P2P file sharing has offered his harsh evaluation of the RIAA's so-called expert witness report.

With what can only be described as a good dose of Dutch courage, Delft University's Assistant Professor Johan Pouwelse, dealt a devastating thump on the head to the music industry when he labeled the RIAA's super expert, Dr Doug Jacobson's report as 'borderline incompetent'.

Prof. Pouwelse is the same bloke who stopped the Dutch equivalent of the RIAA dead in their tracks back in 2005. In the UMG v Lindor trial, the RIAA claimed it had carried out its analysis with sophisticatedly advanced equipment and software which, it assured everyone, was never, ever mistaken.

But now, Ms Marie Lindor has decided to fight back with a report drafted by her very own internationally renowned expert witness. In his report, Pouwelse writes that certain procedures that should have been taken to ascertain that a particular computer had been uploading copyrighted works illegally, weren't taken.

And, taking no prisoners, Professor Pouwelse goes on to say that Jacobson, a director at the Iowa State University Information Assurance Center, lacked 'in-depth analysis', 'proper scientific scrutiny' and that his reports were 'factually erroneous' and frequently contradicted his own deposition testimony.

Going for the jugular, Powelse describes the systems and techniques used in the indictment of Ms Lindor as 'overly simplistic', Jacobson's investigative process as 'unprofessional' and his methods 'self-developed', 'unpublished' and unaccepted by the scientific community.

He concludes by giving his expert opinion that Jacobson has shown 'borderline incompetence'.


After suffering humiliation at the hands of a hacker in 2007, the future of anti-piracy company MediaDefender is in serious doubt. Its parent company, ARTISTdirect, has called in a team of specialists to “assist in the exploration of strategic alternatives.” That’ll be alternatives to liquidation, then.


In early 2005, online music business ARTISTdirect saw its stock being traded at just a cent. Then in mid 2005, it paid MediaDefender founders, Randy Saaf and Octavio Herrera, $43m for their anti-piracy company and the stock rocketed to beyond $3.00. Smiles all round - but not for long.

In September 2007, disaster struck. MediaDefender had gathered many enemies due to their anti-p2p activities. One of them decided to teach the company a lesson by hacking into their systems and leaking their internal emails and closest secrets to the Internet. The effect on the company and its operations was dramatic.

Within days, seemingly everyone knew about the MediaDefender leak and inevitably, news started filtering through to MediaDefender’s customer base. With the company’s secrets out in the open, and its operations virtually shut down, people started asking if it was possible for the business to continue and if it did, how effective could it be? MediaDefender’s customers weren’t happy, and the company was forced to issue $600,000 in credits to them by way of compensation for a total lack of results in the 3 months following the leak. But this was just the beginning.

In a SEC filing, the financial damage started to become clear. As a result of the hacking, by November 2007 MediaDefender had lost a massive $825,000 - and growing. Before the email leak, stock was around the $2.25 mark. Three months later in December 2007, things were starting to look bleak as stock plummeted to $0.63.

With the stock sitting today at $0.51, ARTISTdirect needed to take some drastic action - and they have, calling in Los Angeles based financial services company, Salem Partners LLC, to try and sort out the mess. Salem Partners are to explore “strategic alternatives” for the business (which is currently $30m+ in debt), such as restructuring, merger or sale. For this service they will be rewarded well: Salem are on a $50,000 a month retainer for the first 4 months with numerous six and seven-figure bonuses woven in to the rates, dependent on the deals they manage to do.

They could decide to sell MediaDefender off as a separate entity, so it’s possible that Randy and Octavio would like to buy their old business back. One thing is certain - it won’t fetch anything near the $43m they sold it for. The pair currently pick up $350k a year each at MediaDefender so they’re not quite at rock-bottom yet, but would they even want it back after last year’s disaster? Time will tell.

Potential buyers will probably choose to wait a little. According to a source, ARTISTDirect’s current FORM 10-QSB financial statement is not online, but it should have been posted to SEC by Feb 14th 2007 March 31st 2007. Looks like the worst of the financial pain hasn’t even been reported yet.

Update: A comment from a TorrentFreak reader who wanted to correct the above date:

“Most companies have financial years that end 12-31, and quarters that end 3/31, 6/30, 9/30. You file 4 reports about financials (at a minimum) per year. A quarterly report is called a 10-Q, a yearend report is called a 10-K. The forms they are filing are 10-QSB and 10-KSB, with the SB meaning small business, however they are still governed by the same rules and regulations.

Here is where it gets tricky, there are 3 types of filers. Large Accelerated, Accelerated and Non-Accelerated. Your Large Accelerated are your big boys, Ford, GE, Coca-Cola, etc, they have a market capitalization of over $700Million US. Accelerated are companies you’ve heard of, but they aren’t that big. Market capitalization of between $50million and 700million.

Non Accelerated is everything under 50million. To be filing a 10-QSB/KSB, you have to be Non Accelerated by default. So anyways, a non-accelerated company has 45 days after the end of a quarter to file a 10-Q. If their financial end of year was 6/30, their 10-Q would have been due February 14th. However, this time of year, it’s time for a 10-K, because their financial end of year is 12/31. A Non Accelerated company gets 90 days from end of year to file a 10-K. All of this means, they are due to file a 10-KSB by March 31st.”

The Pirate Bay finally got what they hoped for.

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Monday, March 17th 2008

1:11 AM

The evolution of tech company logos...

You’ve seen these tech logos everywhere, but have you ever wondered how they came to be? Did you know that Apple’s original logo was Isaac Newton under an apple tree? Or that Nokia’s original logo was a fish?

Let’s take a look at the origin of tech companies’ logos and how they evolved over time:

Adobe Systems

Source: Adobe Press

In 1982, forty-something programmers John Warnock and Charles Geschke quit their work at Xerox to start a software company. They named it Adobe, after a creek that ran behind Warnock’s home. Their first focus was to create PostScript, a programming language used in desktop publishing.

When Adobe was young, Warnock and Geschke did everything they could to save money. They asked family and friends to help out: Geschke’s 80-year-old father stained lumber for shelving, and Warnock’s wife Marva designed Adobe’s first logo.

Apple Inc.

In 1976, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs ("the two Steves") designed and built a homemade computer, the Apple I. Because Wozniak was working for Hewlett Packard at the time, they offered it to HP first, but they were turned down. The two Steves had to sell some of their prized posessions (Wozniak sold his beloved programmable HP calculator and Jobs sold his old Volkswagen bus) to finance the making of the Apple I motherboards.

Later that year, Wozniak created the next generation machine: Apple ][ prototype. They offered it to Commodore, and got turned down again. But things soon started to look up for Apple, and the company began to gain customers with its computers.

The first Apple logo was a complex picture of Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree. The logo was inscribed: "Newton … A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought … Alone." It was designed by Ronald Wayne, who along with Wozniak and Jobs, actually founded Apple Computer. In 1976, after only working for two weeks at Apple, Wayne relinquished his stock (10% of the company) for a one-time payment of $800 because he thought Apple was too risky! (Had he kept it, Wayne’s stock would be worth billions!)

Jobs thought that the overly complex logo had something to do with the slow sales of the Apple I, so he commissioned Rob Janoff of the Regis McKenna Agency to design a new one. Janoff came up with the iconic rainbow-striped Apple logo used from 1976 to 1999.

Rumor has it that the bite on the Apple logo was a nod to Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science who committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple. Janoff, however, said in an interview that though he was mindful of the "byte/bite" pun (Apple’s slogan back then: "Byte into an Apple"), he designed the logo as such to "prevent the apple from looking like a cherry tomato." (Source)

In 1998, supposedly at the insistence of Jobs, who had just returned to the company, Apple replaced the rainbow logo ("the most expensive bloody logo ever designed" said Apple President Mike Scott) with a modern-looking, monochrome logo.


Source: Canon Origin and Evolution of the Logo

In 1930, Goro Yoshida and his brother-in-law Saburo Uchida created Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory in Japan. Four years later, they created their first camera, called the Kwanon. It was named after the Kwanon, Buddhist Bodhisattva of Mercy. The logo included an image of Kwanon with 1,000 arms and flames.

Coolness of logo notwithstanding, the company registered the differently spelled word "Canon" as a trademark because it sounded similar to Kwanon while implying precision, a characteristic the company would like to be known and associated with.


In 1996, Stanford University computer science graduate students Larry Page and Sergey Brin built a search engine that would later become Google. That search engine was called BackRub, named for its ability to analyze "back links" to determine relevance of a particular website. Later, the two renamed their search engine Google, a play on the word Googol (meaning 1 followed by 100 zeros).

Google.com in 1998

Two years later, Larry and Sergey went to Internet portals (who dominated the web back then) but couldn’t get anyone interested in their technology. In 1998, they started Google, Inc. in a friend’s garage, and the rest is history.

Google’s first logo was created by Sergey Brin, after he taught himself to use the free graphic software GIMP. Later, an exclamation mark mimicking the Yahoo! logo was added. In 1999, Stanford’s Consultant Art Professor Ruth Kedar designed the Google logo that the company uses today.

The very first Google Doodle: Burning Man Festival 1998

To mark holidays, birthdays of famous people and major events, Google uses specially drawn logos known as the Google Doodles. The very first Google Doodle was a reference to the Burning Man Festival in 1999. Larry and Sergey put a little stick figure on the home page to let people know why no one was in the office in case the website crashed! Now, Google Doodles are regularly drawn by Dennis Hwang.


Source: IBM Archives

In 1911, the International Time Recording Company (ITR, est. 188 and the Computing Scale Company (CSC, est. 1891) merged to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR, see where IBM gets its penchant for three letter acronym?). In 1924, the company adopted the name International Business Machines Corporation and a new modern-looking logo. It made employee time-keeping systems, weighing scales, meat slicers, and punched-card tabulators.

In the late 1940s, IBM began a difficult transition of punched-card tabulating to computers, led by its CEO Thomas J. Watson. To signify this radical change, in 1947, IBM changed its logo for the first time in over two decades: a simple typeface logo.

In 1956, with the leadership of the company being passed down to Watson’s son, Paul Rand changed IBM’s logo to have "a more solid, grounded and balanced appearance" and at the same time he made the change subtle enough to communicate that there’s continuity in the passing of the baton of leadership from father to son.

IBM logo’s last big change - which wasn’t all that big - was in 1972, when Paul Rand replaced the solid letters with horizontal stripes to suggest "speed and dynamism."

LG Electronics

LG began its life as two companies: Lucky (or Lak Hui) Chemical Industrial (est. 1947), which made cosmetics and GoldStar (est. 195 , a radio manufacturing plant. Lucky Chemical became famous in Korea for creating the Lucky Cream, with a container bearing the image of the Hollywood starlet Deanna Durbin. GoldStar evolved from manufacturing only radios to making all sorts of electronics and household appliances.

In 1995, Lucky Goldstar changed its name to LG Electronics (yes, a backronym apparently not). Actually, LG is a chaebol (a South Korean conglomerate), so there’s a whole range of LG companies that also changed their names, such as LG Chemicals, LT Telecom, and even a baseball team called the LG Twins. These companies all adopted the "Life is Good" tagline you often see alongside its logo.

Interestingly, LG denies that their name now stands for Lucky Goldstar… or any other words. They’re just "LG."


Microsoft’s "groovy logo" source: Coding Horror

In 1975, Paul Allen (who then was working at Honeywell) and his friend Bill Gates (then a sophomore at Harvard University) saw a new Altair 8800 of Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems or MITS. It was the first mini personal computer available commercially.

Allen and Gates decided to port the computer language BASIC for the computer (they did this in 24 hours!), making it the first computer language written for a personal computer. They approached MITS and ended up licensing BASIC to the company. Shortly afterwards, Allen and Gates named their partnership "Micro-soft" (within the year, they dropped the hyphen). In 1977, Microsoft became an official company with Allen and Gates first sharing the title general partners.

On to the logo history:

In 1982, Microsoft announced a new logo, complete with the distinctive "O" that employees dubbed the "Blibbet." When the logo was changed in 1987, Microsoft employee Larry Osterman launched a "Save the Blibbet" campaign but to no avail. Supposedly, way back when, Microsoft cafeteria served "Blibbet Burger," a double cheeseburger with bacon.

In 1987, Scott Baker designed the current, so-called "Pac-Man Logo" for Microsoft. The new logo has a slash on the ‘O’ that made it look like Pac-Man, hence the name. In 1994 Microsoft introduced a new tagline Where do you want to go today?, as part of a $100 million advertising campaign. Needless to say, it was widely mocked.

In 1996, perhaps tired of being the butt of jokes like "what kind of error messages would you like today?", Microsoft dropped the slogan. Later, it tried on new taglines like "Making It Easier", "Start Something", "People Ready" and "Open Up Your Digital Life" before settling on the current "Your potential. Our passion."

Oh, one more thing: what was Microsoft’s original slogan? It was "Microsoft: What’s a microprocessor without it?"

… Microsoft’s very first advertising campaign "Microsoft: What’s a microprocessor without it?," which touted how Microsoft’s line of programming languages could be used to create software that would take advantage of the early microprocessors. The first advertisement in the campaign appeared in a 1976 issue of a microchip journal called Digital Design and featured a four panel black-and-white cartoon titled "The Legend of Micro-Kid." The cartoon depicted a small microchip character as a boxer who possessed speed and power but quickly tired out because he had no real training. The other character, a trainer complete with a derby on his head and big stogie hanging out of his mouth, related the story of how the Micro-Kid had a great future but needed a manager, such as himself, in order to succeed. (source: PC Today)


Motorola, then Galvin Manufacturing Corporation, was started in 1928 by Paul Galvin. In the 1930s, Galvin started manufacturing car radios, so he created the name ‘Motorola’ which was simply the combination of the word ‘motor’ and the then-popular suffix ‘ola.’ The company switched its name in 1947 to Motorola Inc. In the 1980s, the company started making cellular phones commercially.

The stylized "M" insignia (the company called it "emsignia") was designed in 1955. A company leader said that "the two aspiring triangle peaks arching into an abstracted ‘M’ typified the progressive leadership-minded outlook of the company." (I’m serious, look up the logo-speak here: Motorola History)

Mozilla Firefox

In 2002, Dave Hyatt and Blake Ross created an open-source web browser that ultimately became Mozilla Firefox. At first, it was titled Phoenix, but this name ran into trademark issues and was changed to Firebird. Again, the replacement name ran into problem because of an existing software. Third time’s the charm: the web browser was re-named Mozilla Firefox.

In 2003, professional interface designer Steven Garrity, wrote that the browser (and other software released by Mozilla) suffered from poor branding. Soon afterwards, Mozilla invited him to develop a new visual identity for Firefox, including the famous logo.

Update 2/7/08: I goofed on this one, guys: it was John Hicks of Hicksdesign that actually made the Firefox logo, designed from a concept from Daniel Burka and sketched by Stephen Desroches - Thanks Jacob Morse and Aaron Bassett!


Source: about-nokia.com

In 1865, Knut Fredrik Idestam established a wood-pulp mill in Tampere, south-western Finland. It took on the name Nokia after moving the mill to the banks of the Nokianvirta river in the town of Nokia. The word "Nokia" in Finnish, by the way, means a dark, furry animal we now call the Pine Marten weasel.

The modern company we know as the Nokia Corporation was actually a merger between Finnish Rubber Works (which also used a Nokia brand), the Nokia Wood Mill, and the Finnish Cable Works in 1967.

Before focusing on telecommunications and cell phones, Nokia produced paper products, bicycle and car tires, shoes, television, electricity generators, and so on.


Source: Nortel History

In 1895, Bell Telephone Company of Canada spun off its business that made fire alarm, call boxes, and other non-telephone hardware into a new company called the Northern Electric and Manufacturing Company Ltd. It began by manufacturing wind-up gramophones.

In 1976, Northern Electric changed its name to Northern Telecom Ltd. to better reflect its new focus on digital technology. Nineteen years later in 1995, it became Nortel Networks "reflecting its corporate evolution from telephoney manufacturing company to designer, builder, and integrator of diverse multiservice networks."


Palm Computing Inc. was founded in 1992 by Jeff Hawkins, who also invented the Palm Pilot PDA. The company has gone through some rough patches in its history: its first PDA called Zoomer was a commercial flop. Next, it was bought out by U.S. Robotics who was promptly sued by Xerox for patent infringement over its Graffiti handwriting recognition technology.

Then it gets convoluted: U.S. Robotics was bought by 3Com, and Hawkins, disgusted with office politics, left to create his own company Handspring. Ironically, not long after he left, 3Com spun off Palm Inc as a separate company. Palm Inc split into two, PalmSource (the OS side) and palmOne (the hardware part). palmOne then merged with Handspring and then bought PalmSource to coalesce back into … Palm, Inc.!

Got that? No? Never mind. All along this journey, they not only change names, but logos as well. Well, at least the graphics designers got some money.


Source: Xerox Historical Logos

Xerox Corporation can trace its lineage back almost 100 years ago to the Haloid Company, which was founded in 1906 to manufacture photographic paper and equipment.

In 1938, Chester Carlson invented a photocopying technique called electrophotography, which he later renamed xerography (Carlson was famous for his persistence: he experimented for 15 years and through debilitating back pain while going to law school and working his regular job). Like many inventions ahead of its time, it wasn’t well received at all. Carlson spent years trying to convince General Electric, IBM, RCA, and other companies to invest in his invention but no one was interested.

Until, that is, he went to the Haloid company, who helped him develop the world’s first photocopier, the Haloid Xerox 914. The copier were so successful that in 1961, Xerox dropped the Haloid from its name.

In 2004, fresh from a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for cooking the books, Xerox tried to re-invent itself (complete with a new logo). Four years later in 2008, it tried to get away from the image that it’s only a copier company and adopted a new logo. The good news is people don’t think of copier when they see the new logo. The bad news is, they think of a beach ball.

Update 2/7/08: And yes, I missed the “Digital X” logo of Xerox. Check out Brand New blog for the entire scoop.

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Monday, March 17th 2008

1:09 AM

The evolution of car logos.

This article should come in handy for the next time you’re stuck in traffic: have you ever wondered why the Audi in front of you has a logo of four interlocked rings? Did you know that the Cadillac emblem was inspired by a family crest of a nobleman who later turned out to be a fraud? Or that Volkswagen was Hitler’s idea?

We took a look at the evolution of tech logos before. Today, let’s take a look at the fascinating stories behind the logos of some of the most popular cars in the world:

Alfa Romeo

Source: Cartype

Surprise! Alfa Romeo, the car manufacturer and pride of Italy, traced its beginnings to France. In 1910, Milan aristocrat Cavaliere Ugo Stella collaborated with the French car company Darracq to market the line in Italy. When the partnership failed, Stella moved the company and renamed it Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company) or A.L.F.A.

Alfa Romeo’s distinctive logo was created in 1910 by a draftsman named Romano Cattaneo. One day, while waiting for a tram at the Piazza Castello station in Milan, he was inspired by the red cross in the Milan Flag and the Coat of Arms of the noble House of Visconti, which featured a biscione (grass snake) with a man in its jaws, symbolizing "Visconti’s enemies that the snake [was] always ready to destroy." (Source) Two Savoia dynasty knots separated the words ALFA and MILANO.

The Romeo part came in 1916 when Neapolitan businessman Nicola Romeo bought the company and converted its factories to produce munitions and machineries for World War I. After the war, the company went back to producing cars and took on its owner’s last name to become Alfa Romeo.

Aston Martin

In 1913, Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford founded a company that later would become Aston Martin. At the time, Martin & Bamford Limited produced Singers racing cars, but the duo wanted to create a more sophisticated model of their own. They named their first car Aston Martin after the founder Lionel Martin and the Aston Clinton hill climb racing course where their Singers car had won previously.

We can’t talk about Aston Martin without mentioning James Bond. In 1959, Ian Fleming put his super spy James Bond in an Aston Martin DB Mark III. When it was made into a movie in 1964, Bond drove an updated, supersleek silver Aston Martin DB5 (complete with machine gun, passenger ejector seat, and revolving number plates!)

James Bond and his Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger

Interestingly, Ian Fleming himself didn’t drive Aston Martin. He preferred the 1963 Studebaker Avanti!


German engineer August Horch, who used to work for Karl Benz, founded his own automobile company A. Horch & Cie in 1899. A decade later, he was forced out of his own company and set up a new company in another town and continued using the Horch brand. His former partners sued him, and August Horch was forced to look for a new name.

When Horch was talking to his business partner Franz Fikentscher at Franz’s apartment, Franz’s son came up with the name Audi:

During this meeting Franz’s son was quietly studying Latin in a corner of the room. Several times he looked like he was on the verge of saying something but would just swallow his words and continue working, until he finally blurted out, "Father - audiatur et altera pars… wouldn’t it be a good idea to call it audi instead of horch?". "Horch!" in German means "Hark!" or "listen", which is "Audi" in Latin. The idea was enthusiastically accepted by everyone attending the meeting. (Source: Wikipedia, A History of Progress (1996) - Chronicle of the Audi AG)

And so Audiwerke GmbH was born in 1910. In 1932, four car makers Audi, Horch, DKW, and Wanderer merged to form Auto Union. The logo of Auto Union, four interlinked rings that would later become the modern Audi logo, was used only in racing cars - the four factories continued to produce cars under their own names and emblems.

Four car companies became Auto Union (1932)

Fast forward to 1985 (skipping a whole lot of history), when Auto Union ultimately became the Audi we know today.


Source: Motorcycle

In 1913, Karl Friedrich Rapp and Gustav Otto founded two separate aircraft factories that would later merge to form BMW or Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (Bavarian Motor Works). Rapp and Otto actually had little to do with BMW’s manufacturing of cars. Josef Popp, Max Friz and Camillo Castiglioni were the ones who played big roles in making BMW a modern car manufacturer.

Source: Cartype

The circular BMW logo was a representation of a spinning propeller of a Bavarian Luftwaffe. At the time, aircrafts were painted with regional colors and the colors of the Bavarian flag were white and blue. It is said that the pilot saw the propeller as alternating segments of white and blue, hence the logo. The roundel was a nod to Karl Rapp’s original company.

During World War I, BMW was a major supplier of airplane engines (and later airplanes such as the Red Baron) (thanks Redditors!) to the German government. After the war, Germany was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles to manufacture airplanes and BMW was forced to change its business: it first made railway brakes before making motorized bicycle, motorcycles and cars.

Update 3/6/08: Neatorama readers Dan S. and Bruce Kennedy who pointed out that the idea of BMW logo being derived from spinning propeller was actually an advertisement by the company (scroll down about halfway). Also thanks to klaus who pointed us out to the logo of EMW, which BMW took over in 1928.


Early Buick emblems (source: Buick Car Club of Australia)

The Buick Motor Company was founded in 1903 by David Dunbar Buick, a Scottish-American inventor who invented the overhead valve engine. If you didn’t recognize the name, you’re not alone - but remember this: Buick, a high school drop out founded a company that later became the world’s largest auto company, General Motors.

At 15 years of age, Buick dropped out of school to work for a plumbing fixture manufacturer. When that business failed, Buick and his friend took it over - but within a few years, Buick had an argument with his partner because he preferred to spend his time tinkering with car engines. Buick sold his share in the company and quit.

With the money, Buick founded the Buick Motor Company and within a few years ran it to the ground. He was kicked out of the company by his partner William "Billy" Durant in 1906 and later sold his stock for a mere $100,000. Had he held on to his shares, it would’ve been worth well over $100 million today. In his later years, Buick held low-paying jobs and couldn’t even afford a telephone. He died penniless as an inspector at the Detroit School of Trades. Ironically, years later Durant himself would be forced out. General Motors, the company that Durant built, refused him pension and he died almost penniless. (Source)

Buick crests and tri-shields (source: Buick Car Club of Australia)

Back to the logo story: Early Buick logos were variations of the cursive word "Buick." In 1930s, General Motor Styling researcher Ralph Pew found a description of the Scottish "Buik" [sic] family crest and decided to use it as a radiator grille decoration. In 1960, the logo incorporated three such shields, to represent the three Buick models then built: LeSabre, Invicta, and Electra.

In 1975, Buick changed their logo to a hawk named "Happy" with the launch of their Skyhawk line. However, in the late 1980s, as the Skyhawk car was retired, Buick went back to the tri-shield logo.


Source: car-nection.com, who has lots more Cadillac emblems.

When Henry Ford left his second automobile company, Henry Ford Company (see below), his financial backers tried to liquidate the company’s assets. An engineer named Henry M. Leland persuaded them to continue the company instead. They listened, and so Cadillac was born.

Cadillac’s first logo was based on a family crest of a minor aristocrat that the company was named after: Antoine de La Mothe, Seigneur de Cadillac (Sir of Cadillac). In 1701, de La Mothe founded Fort Pontchartrain which would later become Detroit. Cadillac was named after de La Mothe in 1902, following a bicentenary celebration of the founding of the city.

Problem was, de La Mothe was never a nobility! Born Antoine Laumet, de La Mothe was forced to leave France for America under a mysterious circumstance (some say he committed a crime or was unable to pay his debt). In the New World, he was able to assume a new identity and cobbled together a famiy crest with elements "borrowed" from, shall we say nobler sources.

Source: car-nection.com

In 1998, Cadillac had a new design philosophy called "art and science" and had its logo redesigned. Gone were the six birds called the merlettes, the crown, and the entire fabricated de La Mothe family crest as the company tried to shake up its stodgy image. The new logo made its debut a few years later, looking positively like it was made by Piet Mondrian!


Source: Fiat

Fiat, then named Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian Automobile Factory of Turin), was founded in 1899 by a group of investors, including Giovanni Agnelli who later became its Managing Director. Agnelli bought his shares for $400 (about $10,000 in 2007 money). It’s worth billions now, and there had been an Agnelli in Fiat management ever since. Regardless or perhaps because of its wealth, the Agnelli clan remained a fractious and complicated group of people.

Supposedly, the famous Fiat "scrabble tiles" logo of the 1960s was designed by the company’s Chief Designer who was driving past the Fiat factory during a power outage and saw an outline of the factory’s neon sign against the dark sky (Source: The Language of Auto Emblems)


Most people know that Ford was founded by (who else?) Henry Ford. What most people didn’t know was that this was his third automobile company. Ford experimented with cars while working for Thomas Edison, and left to found his first auto company, The Detroit Automobile Company, which went bankrupt in just 2 years. He then built a race car and founded Henry Ford Company. Ford left that one after just one year (the company later became Cadillac - see above).

In 1902, Ford went on to create his third automobile company, the Ford & Malcomson, Ltd., and almost lost that one when sales were slow. He was unable to pay his bills to John and Horace Dodge, who supplied parts. Ford’s partner brought in a group of investors and even convinced the Dodge Brothers to accept shares in the company, which was renamed Ford Motor Company. Later, the Dodge Brothers went on to form their own car company (can you guess what?)

In 1909, Childe Harold Wills, Ford’s first chief engineer and designer (who also help to design the Model T), lend a script font that he created to make his own business card, to create the Ford logo. The famous blue oval was added later for the 1927 Model A - it remained in use until today.


Source: Mazda [wikipedia] and Mazda Brand Evolution

Mazda began its life in 1920 as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Co. in Hiroshima, Japan. At the time, there was a cork shortage because of World War I, so the company was founded to process a cork substitute made from the bark of an Abemaki or Chinese cork oak tree. It was a good idea at the time, but shortly afterwards Japan could get real cork again and the company foundered.

In 1927, Jujiro Matsuda came onboard and the company began manufacturing tools, three-wheeled "trucks" and then cars. After World War II, the company formally adopted the name Mazda, which depending on who you ask, stood for the Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda or an anglicized pronunciation of Matsuda the founder’s name (or both).

In the 1936 logo, the M shaped curve was inspired by the emblem of Hiroshima city. The 1991 and 1992 logos symbolized a wing, the Sun and a circle of light. Mazda’s current logo, nicknamed the "owl" logo, was designed by Rei Yoshimara in 1997. The stylized "M" was meant to look like stretched wings, but many people saw a stylized tulip instead.


Source: Mercedez-Benz UK

The modern Mercedes-Benz traced its lineage to a 1926 merger of two car companies, Daimler-Motored-Gesellschaft or DMG, founded by Gottlieb Daimler (along with Wilhelm Maybach), and Benz & Cie, founded by Karl Benz. Both Daimler and Benz worked independently to invent internal combustion-powered automobiles. Their factories were actually just 60 miles apart, yet they didn’t know of each other’s early work.

After World War I, the German economy was in tatters, and to survive, the two companies formed a syndicate in 1924, where they would continue to sell their separate brands but would standardize design, share purchasing and advertising. In 1926, however, the two companies merged into Daimler-Benz.

The name "Mercedes" came about in 1900. A wealthy European businessman and racing enthusiast named Emil Jellinek began selling Daimler’s cars. He wanted a faster car, and specified a new engine to be designed by Maybach and to be named after his 10-year-old daughter’s nickname, Mercédès or Spanish for "grace." "Mercy" (See below)

Jellinek was quite a character. He used to pepper DMG’s engineers with colorful suggestions and criticism such as "Your manure wagon has just broken down on schedule" and "You are all donkeys". However, as he actually sold a lot of cars, he was tolerated and even listened to. Later, Jellinek would add Mercedes to his own and became Emil Jellinek-Mercedes. (Source: My Father Mr. Mercedes by Guy Jellinek-Mercedes and MBUSA Biographies)

The star in Daimler’s logo came from an old postcard where Gottlieb Daimler had drawn a star above the picture of his house and wrote that "this star would one day shine over [his] own factory to symbolize prosperity." The three-pointed star symbolized Daimler’s ambition of making vehicles "on land, on water and in the air." (Source: Daimler)

After the merger, a new logo was designed. It combined the symbols of the two companies: the three-pointed star of DMG and the laurel wreath of Benz.

Update 2/18/08: There’s a dispute on the origin of the name “Mercedes.” According to Baby Names World, Mercedes is a girl’s name of Spanish origin meaning “Mercy.” It was taken from the Virgin Mary’s liturgical title “Maria de las Mercedes” (Mary of the Mercies; ‘Our Lady of Ransom’):

Latin ‘mercedes’ originally meant ‘wages’ or ‘ransom’.
In Christian theology, Christ’s sacrifice is regarded as a ‘ransom for the sins of mankind’, hence an ‘act of ransom’ was seen as identical with an ‘act of mercy’.


Source: Mitsubishi

In 1854 feudal Japan, a man named Yataro Iwasaki, son of a provincial farmer whose grandfather sold the family’s samurai status to settle some debt, began his career on the wrong foot: he was called home from school at the age of 19 when his father was injured in a dispute with the village leader. Iwasaki asked a local magistrate to hear his case, and when refused, accused the man of corruption. Iwasaki was promptly jailed for seven months.

Fast forward to 1868: Iwasaki was working for the Tosa clan when the Meiji Restoration abolished Japan’s feudal clan system. He acquired Tsukumo Shokai, the Tosa clan’s shipping business and renamed it Mitsubishi in 1873.

It was a fourth-generation Iwasaki, a man named Kayota Iwasaki, who turned Mitsubishi into a giant corporate group that included an automobile manufacturing company, Mitsubishi Motors.

The name Mitsubishi was a combination of the words "mitsu" (three) and "hishi" (water chestnut, used in Japan to mean a rhombus or a diamond shape). The official translation of the name was "three diamonds."

The Mitsubishi logo was a combination of the Iwasaki family crest, three stacked diamonds, and the three-leaf crest of the Tosa Clan.


Source: Peugeot Fan Club

Peugeot got its start in 1812 in Montbeliard, France, when two brothers, Jean-Pierre and Jean-Frédéric Peugeot converted their windmill into a steel mill. Their first products were rolled steel for saw blades and clock springs, as well as cylindrical steel rods. For decades, the Peugeot family business made metal goods, machine tools, crinoline dresses, umbrellas, wire wheels, irons, sewing machines, kitchen gadgets and by 1885, bicycles.

Indeed, Peugeot’s entry into the automobile business was by way of bicycles. At the time, the company was one of the largest bicycle manufacturers in France. In 1889, Armand Peugeot created the company’s first steam-powered car. A year later, he abandoned steam in favor of gas-powered internal combustion engine after meeting Gottlieb Daimler.

The Peugeot "lion" logo was designed by jeweler and engraver Justin Blazer in 1847. It was based on the flag of the Région Franche-Comté. The logo was stamped on Peugeot kitchen gadgets to denote the quality of their steel. It took Armand 14 years to convince his family that cars could be a moneymaker. Only then did they allow him to use the Peugeot lion logo. (Source: Independent)

Now, you may not drive a Peugeot car, but I bet you’ve used a Peugeot invention of 1842: the peppermill. The mill’smechanism was so reliable that it remained virtually unchanged until today.


Source: Renault

Louis Renault was 21 when he made his first car in the backyard of his parent’s home. He soon got orders for cars, so in 1898, along with his brothers and friends, Louis opened the company Société Renault Frères in Boulogne-Billancourt, France.

The first Renault logo, drawn in 1900 featured the three initials of the Renault brothers: Louis, Ferdinand and Marcel. In 1906, the logo changed to a front end of a car enclosed in a gear wheel.

Renault FT-17 tank, driven by American troops, going forward to the battle line in the Forest of Argonne. (Source: The National Archives)

During World War I, Renault manufactured light tanks for the Allies called the Renault FT-17. This was so popular that after the war, Renault actually changed its logo into a tank. The diamond shape was introduced in 1925 and remained until today. The modern Renault logo was created in 1972 by Victor Vasarely [offical website wikipedia], the father of Op art (or optical art).


If you’ve ever seen a Saab car commercial, then you’d know that the company was "born from jets". You wouldn’t know it from the car’s staid style, but historically this was accurate: In 1937, an aircraft company called Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget ("Swedish Aeroplane Limited" or simply SAAB) was created to meet the needs of the Swedish Air Force.

When World War II ended, SAAB the airplane company started making cars to diversify its business. The first car it made was a prototype called the the Saab 92001 or ursaab (meaning "original Saab") in 1946. It was test-driven for nearly 330,000 miles (530,000 km) in utter secrecy, usually on narrow and muddy forest roads in the early mornings or late nights.

In 1947, the Saab Automobile company was incorporated. The company’s first car was the Saab 92, named because it was simply the company’s 92nd design project (the previous 91 had all been aircraft).

The griffen logo, featuring the head of a mythological beast that had a body of a lion and head and wings of an eagle, came from Vadis-Scania, a truck manufacturer that merged with SAAB (airplane) company. The griffen was a coat of arms of the province Scania.

In 2000, Saab Automobile company was bought out by General Motors, and thus no longer had any connection with SAAB outside of its history and logo similarities.

Source: The Saab Brand, Saab History

Confused? Don’t worry about it, just enjoy the pictures.


Source: TheSamba

You wouldn’t know it from the company’s website but Volkswagen (German for "People’s Car") can trace its history straight to the villain of World War II: Adolf Hitler.

Here’s the short version of the story: After World War I, Germany’s economy was shot and cars cost more than most people can afford. When Hitler rose to power and became Chancellor, he spoke at the 1933 Berlin Auto Show of his idea to create a new and affordable car.

At the same time, Ferdinand Porsche (yes, that Porsche) was designing an odd-looking yet inexpensive car (which would later become the Volkswagen Beetle). Porsche met with Hitler in 1934, who asked that the car to have the following specifications: it should have a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), a fuel consumption of 42 mpg, and could carry 2 adults and 3 children. He said the car should look like a Maikaefer - a May beetle and even gave Porsche a sketch of the basic design. Porsche promised to deliver the design, with prototype cars to be built by Daimler-Benz.

In 1937, the Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH was created (it became simply Volkswagenwerk GmbH a year later). In 1938, Hitler opened the state-funded Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, which was to produce the KdF-wagen (kraft durch freude, meaning "strength through joy"). Few were actually built, instead, the factory (employing forced labor) churned out military car, based on the same chassis: the Kübelwagen, Schwimmwagen, and Kommandeurwagen.


It was later found out that Hitler had this in mind all along. He added an extra secret specification to Porsche’s design: the car was to be able to carry 3 men, a machine gun, and ammunition.

After Germany was defeated in World War II, the British took over the Volkswagen factory and the KdF-Wagen was renamed the Beetle. The British then sought to give control of the company - first they asked the Ford Motor Company, then the French Government, other British car manufacturers and lastly, Fiat. All turned down this "free offer" because they thought the Beetle’s design was inferior and that the company would be a money drain. (Source: The Auto Channel)

So, the British gave the Volkswagen company back to the German government in a trust. Later, having sold more than 21 million cars, the Volkswagen Beetle would become one of the world’s best selling cars ever.

The VW logo itself was supposedly designed by Franz Xavier Reimspiess, an employee of Porsche, during an office logo design competition. He was given a one time payment of 100 Reichsmarks (about $400).

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Monday, March 17th 2008

12:59 AM

aerial geometry: 5 circular communities from the sky

following the star forts post a couple of weeks ago i became immersed in a world of aerial geometry due to the fact that i find it hard to research a topic for this site and not explore everything related to it. to be honest, star forts are pretty impossible to beat for impressiveness but the circular communities below are still quite stunning. there’s a wikipedia link and google maps link for each example apart from the one in brondby - if anyone knows more about it let us know. as always, leave any other examples of similar communities in the comments.

2. nahalal, jezreel valley, israel - (wiki / google maps link)

3. unknown community, brondby, denmark (google maps link)

4. firuzabad, fars province, iran - (wiki / google maps link)

5. hamadan, hamadan province, iran - (wiki / google maps link)

Dubai in 1990 prior to the craziness

The same street in 2003

 Last year

The madness.  Dubai is said to currently have 15-25% of all the world's cranes.

The Dubai Waterfront.  When completed it will become the largest waterfront development in the world

All of this was built in the last 5 years, including that island that looks like a palm tree. 

The Palm Islands in Dubai.  New Dutch dredging technology was used to create these massive man made islands.  They are the largest artificial islands in the world and can be seen from space.  Three of these Palms will be made with the last one being the largest of them all.  

Upon completion, the resort will have 2,000 villas, 40 luxury hotels, shopping centers, movie theaters, and many other facilities. It is expected to support a population of approximately 500,000 people.  It is advertised as being visible from the moon.


The World Islands.  300 artificially created islands in the shape of the world.  Each island will have an estimated cost of $25-30 million. 

The Burj al-Arab hotel in Dubai.  The worlds tallest hotel.  Considered the only '7 star' hotel and the most luxurious hotel in the world.  It stands on an artificial island in the sea. 

Hydropolis, the world's first underwater hotel.  Entirely built in Germany and then assembled in Dubai, it is scheduled to be completed by 2009 after many delays.

The Burj Dubai.  Construction began in 2005 and is expected to be complete by 2008.  At an estimated height of over 800 meters, it will easily be world's tallest building when finished.  It will be almost 40% taller than the the current tallest building, the Taipei 101. 

This is what downtown Dubai will look like around 2008-2009.  More than 140 stories of the Burj Dubai have already been completed.  It is already the worlds tallest man made structure and it is still not scheduled to be completed for at least another year.   

The Al Burj. This will be the centerpiece of the Dubai Waterfront.  Once completed it will take over the title of the tallest structure in the world from the Burj Dubai. 


Recently it was announced that the final height of this tower will be 1200 meters.  That would make it more than 30% taller than the Burj Dubai and three times as tall as the Empire State Building. 

This is a city on crack.

The Burj al Alam, or The World Tower.  Upon completion it will rank as the world's highest hotel.  It is expected to be finished by 2009.  At 480 meters it will only be 28 meters shorter than the Taipei 101.  

The Trump International Hotel & Tower, which will be the centerpiece of one of the palm islands, The Palm Jumeirah.

Dubailand.  Currently, the largest amusement park collection in the world is  Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, which is also the largest single-site employer in the United states with 58,000 employees.  Dubailand will be twice the size. 

Dubailand will be built on 3 billion square feet (107 miles^2) at an estimated $20 billion price tag.  The site will include a purported 45 mega projects and 200 hundred other smaller projects.  

Dubai Sports City.  A huge collection of sports arenas located in Dubailand. 

Currently, the Walt Disney World Resort is the #1 tourist destination in the world.  Once fully completed, Dubailand will easily take over that title since it is expected to attract 200,000 visitors daily.

The Dubai Marina is an entirely man made development that will contain over 200 highrise buildings when finished.  It will be home to some of the tallest residential structures in the world.  The completed first phase of the project is shown. Most of the other high rise buildings will be finished by 2009-2010.   

The Dubai Mall will be the largest shopping mall in the world with over 9 million square feet of shopping and around 1000 stores.  It will be completed in 2008.  

Ski Dubai, which is already open, is the largest indoor skiing facility in the world.  This is a rendered image of another future indoor skiing facility that is being planned. 

Some of the tallest buildings in the world, such as Ocean Heights and The Princess Tower, which will be the largest residential building in the world at over a 100 stories, will line the Dubai Marina. 


The UAE Spaceport would be the first spaceport in the world if construction ever gets under way.  I'm not joking...  

Some other other crazy shit...

  • The Dubai Metro system, once completed, will become the largest fully automated rail system in the world. 
  • The Dubai World Central International Airport will become the largest airport in size when it is completed.  It will also eventually become the busiest airport in the world, based on passenger volume. 
  • There are more construction workers in Dubai than there are actual citizens.


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Monday, March 17th 2008

12:33 AM

Jack Thomson blames NIU shooting on his favorite pastime...VIDEGAMES!

It's Virginia Tech all over again! Florida attorney Jack Thompson has appeared on Fox News this morning as a "School Shooting Expert", blaming 27-year-old sociology grad Steven Kazmierczak's rampage yesterday at Northern Illinois University on - you guessed it - video games like Counter-Strike. Kazmierczak, identified only this morning, walked onto a lecture hall stage dressed in black and opened fire on a crowded science class, killing six students before taking his own life. As always, no evidence has been found linking Kazmierczak to video games, Counter-Strike or otherwise, but Thompson never let a lack of evidence keep him from shooting off his mouth. I imagine his ears perk up like a dog hearing its master's voice the moment a terrible tragedy like this occurs. We're currently looking into Kazmierczak to see if there is any sort of video game connection. We'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: Here is the video of Jack's appearance, in which he comlpetely ignores the interviewer's question and goes on an anti-gaming tirade.

Hypermiling the 2007 Honda Civic 2.2 i-CTDI & 2007 Audi Q4 4.2 TDI

We'll admit it, we've been teases this week. Two forbidden diesels and nary a whisper of fuel economy. Well, today you get the goods. We aren't going to give you the standard "this is what we got in the city and this is what we got on the highway" spiel, because you can find that anywhere. Officially, the Civic does about 41/56, Q7 does 19/21. Booorrr-ing. What we're going to do is hypermile these cars. Although, much like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, we're not sure you can handle the truth. To be perfectly honest, we were shocked ourselves. Shocked and giddy, like a bunch of little girls splashing around in a pool of glistening diesel. Before you click through and watch the video, we need to lay down some facts. What we did can be repeated by anyone. There were no tricks, no cheats. Hell, we didn't even make that much of an effort. The footage you're about to enjoy isn't necessarily exciting, but from an engineering standpoint, it's smack-you-in-the-mouth amazing.

Water for $42 per bottle. What is wrong with people!?


I've never understood people's fuss over the water they drink when they go to hotels, let alone their willingness to pay for what is otherwise free in most western countries. When I'm out in cities where you can drink tap water, that's what I ask for; when I have to buy mineral water, I ask for the cheapest.

Water is water is water. Having said that, I agree that sometimes the taste is distinct. For example, here in Madrid, mineral water Bezoya and Aquafina taste strange to me; I will drink them if I have to, but I avoid buying those brands -- I don't like water that tastes like something (it's not supposed to taste like anything!), but otherwise I'm not fussed. The whole "tap water isn't good for you" conundrum doesn't phase me in any way.

It totally ruffles my feathers when I go to a posh hotel and people I go with actually have a preference of mineral water, so I would go absolutely bonkers if I went to Claridge's Luxury Hotel in London and was given a water menu with 30 international brands to choose from. 30!

According to a recent article in the BBC: For the most refined palette there is fine artesian water from Japan at $30 a bottle and $40 a bottle, or Mahaolo from Hawaii, described on the menu as "rare deep sea water" that is "very old." And Just Born Spring Drops from India is apparently "light and not aggressive," at $42 per bottle.


"We wouldn't do this if there wasn't a demand for it," says the hotel's public relations manager. Apparently guests not only ask for berg or glacial water, but water with no sodium content or water fortified with calcium and magnesium; they even specify the region from where they want the water! "People are so very, very careful about what they eat these days that it's moved into water."

Have I completely lost perspective here or do you find this as absurd as I do?

China to ban horror movies in order to create more balanced culture.

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has added ghosts, monsters and other things that go bump in the night to its list of banned video and audio content in an intensified crackdown ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

Producers have around three weeks to look through their tapes for "horror" and report it to authorities, the General Administration of Press and Publications said in a statement posted on the government Web site.

Offending content included "wronged spirits and violent ghosts, monsters, demons, and other inhuman portrayals, strange and supernatural storytelling for the sole purpose of seeking terror and horror," the administration said.

The new guidelines aim to "control and cleanse the negative effect these items have on society, and to prevent horror, violent, cruel publications from entering the market through official channels and to protect adolescents' psychological health."

The regulations suggest China, where graphic, pirated sex and horror movies are available on most street corners, is keen to step up its control of the cultural arena ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August, which are widely seen as a coming-out party for the rising political and economic power.

They come just weeks after Beijing clamped down on "vulgar" video and audio content, slapped restrictions on Internet sites and handed down a two-year film-making ban to the team behind the steamy "Lost in Beijing."

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Sunday, March 9th 2008

7:05 AM

A worrying development last month was that Scientology gained DIRECT ACCESS to Ebay's database to allow them to delete auctions under eBAY's VeRO program.

There is balance in the universe however, as the smarter people of Norther Europe can smell bullshit when it tries something fishy. Germany, Belgium, St. Petersberg and many more European places are banning Scientology for it being a criminal organization and other activities.
The latest action from a rational country to stand up to Scientology is southern Germany's Munich. They shut down a kindergarten school (pre-grade school/infants), as soon as they learned that it was run by Scientology.

From the article....

City authorities in Munich, southern Germany, have closed down a kindergarten with immediate effect after discovering it was run by the Church of Scientology, the municipality said.

"The wellbeing of the children in the establishment was under threat because the education process was based on the principles of Scientology," the municipality said in a statement.

The kindergarten opened last summer and had 18 children looked after by two adults.

The Church of Scientology became the subject of intense debate in Germany last year when Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise, one of its most famous followers, was chosen to play the role of a resistance hero in a film about a failed plot to kill Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Cruise was deemed by many Germans to be unsuitable for the part because of his beliefs. In January, German historian Guido Knopp compared a speech the actor made to fellow Scientologists with a call to war by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

The comparison drew a furious response from the Church of Scientology, which has been described in Germany as a sect that exploits its members financially.

It has been under surveillance in some German states for more than 10 years and regional ministers agreed in December to investigate the possibility of banning it.

A court in southern Germany earlier this month threw out a bid by the Church of Scientology to stop intelligence services watching it.

It ruled that there were clear indications that the movement "seeks to establish a social order that runs counter to the constitution".

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