Net of the living dead

CipherTrust is tracking the number of zombies (infected PCs used to send spam and fishing mails). In May that added up to 172,009 new zombies a day: 20% in the United States, 15% in China (down from 20% of the 157,000 new zombies a day in April), 26% in the EU, 6% in Germany, 5% in France and 3% in the UK. Good to be the last on the list - but not when you think about relative populations (and the 53% PC usage in the UK). If spam is the tragedy of the commons, zombies are undead goats trekking the muddy ruin of the devastated common into your hall...

Ways of working together

Unless you’re a hermit, you'll need to collaborate with other people to get your job done - but the software you use every day doesn't always help you do that. Software designed to help people work together -- in real time or whenever it’s convenient for different individuals -- offers a mix of services for communicating and sharing information. Here's the Buyer's Guide on collaboration tools I wrote for ZDNet UK recently...

Instant back and forth

I use Trillian for IM because I need to talk to people on AIM, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ and IRC (and I don't want five clients running when I can have one that brings everyone together). What I'd like next is for Trillian to cover Skype IM - let me do the text chat conversations just like all my other text chat conversations and if I want to move to talking out loud, have it launch Skype ready to dial them (and maybe copy across the last few lines of the conversation as it's in the log file). There's a Skype API and a Trillian API: surely they can dance together?

bigger smaller disks

Seagate has a 4Gb drive to challenge the USB mini-drives that have been proliferating lately; it's rather bigger because even a 1" hard drive is going to be bigger than a memory card, but they've done it quite neatly with a circular body and a rotating cover that keeps the USB cable neat and tidy - turn it to release the plug, turn it again to tuck it away - and the ubiquitous blue LED in the centre. Sony's promising a 2Gb version with the USB sticking out the top like an aerial and an AutoSync button for backing up a specific directory. I think I’d still rather have 40Gb in my bag with a Bluetooth connection though...

Loose lips beat ships

Keep making the phone calls - it's good for the economy. The mobile phone sector now contributes as much to GDP as the total oil and gas extraction industry; in 2003 that was a chatty £22.9bn which is 2.3% of the total UK GDP. Construction tops the list of contributing industries at just under 6%; hotels and restaurants are the next, at 3.4% and then oil and gas, mobiles and food manufacturing are neck and neck - and just a little ahead of dead tree dinosaurs (paper, print and publishing at 2.2%).

The mobile sector employs nearly 200,000 people and the average employee is probably feeling underpaid now they know they generated £120,000 in revenue in 2003. Next time a local council is considering an application for a new mobile mast or the government is hoping to raise money by auctioning off frequencies or planning new regulations mobile phone networks, the mobile industry would like them to remember that it contributes £15 billion a year to government finances. Without that we might need an extra 3p on the cost of income tax - although without your mobile phone bill you might have more money to pay it, of course.

Small and far away

Wireless Access Points don't need to be huge bulky boxes: NetGear has some nice little units that don't make itlook as if you've brought a PABX home from the office. The Asus Pocket Wireless Adapter is a little smaller - about 4" by 2" - and it can also act as a repeater so if your main access point doesn't reach all the way to the garden you could tuck this on a shelf in the kitchen. Oh, and it's only £31.

Chemistry is hard: new battery technology

Battery power has been lagging behind everything else for quite a while, because chemistry is harder than physics, or writing software. Finding molecules that do what you want consistently takes time. I think the exciting thing about NEC's organic radical battery is not just that you can recharge it in about 30 seconds but that it can discharge fast, so it's good for kit that needs a lot of power, like a hybrid car. The 80 hour battery life they talk about is after a 30 second charge (and it's for a MiniDisc player, which doesn't use batteries up that fast anyway); imagine a battery that takes five minutes to charge but drives your iPod for 80 hours, or your PC for ten.

a press release on the first development of organic radical resin batteries
More technical details about the battery
More technical details about the discharge properties