TowleTech V. 36

TowleTech V.32A rare white dolphin called a Baiji which lives in the waters of China has been declared extinct this week after scientists spent six weeks searching the waters with zero sightings. A similar search in 1997 turned up 13 sightings, showing that the dolphin was on the verge of extinction. According to the website of the conservation group involved with the search, the Baiji’s death marks a more than disturbing turn of events: "Regarded in China as the ‘goddess of the Yangtze’, the 20 million year
old river dolphin was one of the world’s oldest species. The Baiji is
the first large mammal brought to extinction as a result of human
destruction to their natural habitat and resources."

TowleTech V.32Brian Lam put himself and the popular tech blog for which he writes on the line with a surprising claim: that he not only has seen an iPhone, but that it will be announced on Monday. The full text of the post reads: "Gizmodo Knows: iPhone Will Be Announced On Monday. I guarantee it. It isn’t what I expected at all. And I’ve already said too much." Will Apple announce a cell phone Monday or was Gizmodo just trying to get a few extra votes in the Weblog Awards? I suppose one thing is for sure: only Gizmodo knows. Meanwhile Business 2.0 has an insightful article on why the iPhone might not ever happen.

TowleTech V.32Sunspot 930 is at it again! The flamboyant spot sent up a massive solar flare earlier this week that caused a sizable geomagnetic storm here on the blue planet,
according to an advisory issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration. The storm can cause damage to power grids or
communication systems, but can also lead to stunning auroras.

TowleTech V.32VoIP provider Skype done gave the world free unlimited calling earlier this year, but it was only ever meant to be temporary and now this year is about over. Still, the flat rate of $29.95 for a year of phone service is a pretty fair deal, and signing up before January cuts that in half for the first year.

WiimoteTowleTech V.32After reports of damage caused by flying Wii controllers, Nintendo recalled the strap on the wireless remote, offering to replace it with a sturdier version. As notes, the company also took the chance to remind users of a little common safety sense when playing. "Hold the Wii Remote firmly and do not let go. For example, in Wii Sports bowling, the proper way to let go of the ball while bowling is to release the "B" button on the Wii Remote—DO NOT LET GO OF THE Wii REMOTE ITSELF."

TowleTech V.32Cingular is testing out a new cell phone in the Big Apple that includes a handy little feature: your credit card. Forget camera or MP3 player — these new phones have an embedded MasterCard PayPass, which uses RFID that lets you pay by waving the phone in front of a sensor. PayPass sensors are built into registers at McDonalds and AMC theaters and even some Coca-Cola vending machines.

TowleTech V.32One of the reasons that Google is a billion-something dollar a year company is the fact that they sell their internet search technology to businesses for use on their private "intranets." Meanwhile the Goog has made plenty of enemies giving away high-quality products that its competitors were previously charging for, but now Yahoo has stepped up to give them a taste of their own medicine. Yahoo teamed up with IBM to offer a free business-level search tool for private intranets, which can index and search up to 500k documents.

TowleTech V.32XM Radio launched a new seasonal station that offers an alternative to the barrage of Christmas music that takes over at this time of year. For 8 days starting tonight, Radio Hanukkah will play Hanukkah-themed songs with interludes by Jewish celebrities. "This could be refreshing. Who knows? Maybe non-Jews will start loving these songs too," said one fan.

TowleTech V.32UCLA alerted 800,000 students, faculty, and alumni to a data breach this week after it was discovered that "a sophisticated computer hacker" illegally accessed a database of personal information that included social security numbers and birthdates.

TowleTech V.32Photographer and freelance tech writer Jason Rowan posts an efficient write up of the new Nokia N93, a cell phone that includes a 3.2 megapixel digital camera. Said Rowan: "After you
get over the techno-lust and nervous fumbling the N93 inspires I started to find the
old Ready Steady Pendergrass touch coming back to me."

TowleTech V.32Two major Anti-Virus software makers issued dire warnings about the state of malicious internet attacks and scams in 2007. While email has been the most common avenue to personal data, mobile devices, IM, and social  networking sites all offer new ways to steal identities and scam users, according to Trend Micro and McAffee spokespersons. If my theory that the majority of these evil online deeds are a conspiracy by the companies that sell people protection against them, then surely they’re the ones who would know.

Daniel Williford is our TowleTech correspondent.

You can visit him at his blog, Until Today


  1. Cory says

    Sadly I’m not surprised that a species has become extinct due to man’s disregard for this planet. Our arrogance is placing us one step further to our own extinction. Of course there will be many in denial of this fact with half-truths that the Bush administration proves that Global Warming and man’s rape of nature is the far left’s conspiracy against the right. Pfft. If ignorance is bliss, earth truly is becoming Eden.

    I’ve always wondered if anti-virus companies were somehow behind many of the viral attacks to frighten more consumers into buying software. I’ve never heard of any one, or at least the majority of viral originators, being caught. It was always a mystery. What good would it do someone to spend weeks of their personal time to make a virus in the first place? They’re not getting paid and the viruses that are mostly manufactured don’t steal money, they just screw up databases. It’s a college prank on steroids. The only people that benefit from them are the companies that make the software for prevention. Conspiracy? With the history of corporate America, I wouldn’t put it past them.

  2. john says

    Politics aside,it is trajic about the Baiji Dolphin. Ofcourse we all know they once,(hopefully still) frequented the Yangtze River, which is (catastrophically), being dammed.

  3. Anon says

    The Baiji would hardly be the first large mammal species to go extinct due to the influence of mankind. It has now been determined that several large or megafauna species in North America went extinct due to the arrival and influence of the aboriginal Native Americans several thousand years ago. This cannot also be blamed on global warming. The Chinese are simply using up their natural resources in an attempt to end poverty at a fantastic rate.

    Speaking of identity theft, the RFID (mastercard paypass) chips have basically no security to prevent unauthorized chip readers (you can buy from electronic stores, possibly Radio Shack) from scanning the chips at a distance. Wired magazine had a big article on it a few months ago. So pass on paypass for now. Even if the chip is encrypted it can be read and the data copied onto another chip, essentially giving the hacker a copy of your credit card to use as they like.

  4. mark m says


    The article makes the claim that this dolphin is the first large mammal to go extinct due to man’s destruction of its environment, namely the damming of the river. It does not claim that this is the first mammalian species that man has wiped out.

    Yes, there is reason to believe that humans contributed to the extinction of several large mammals all over the globe (not just North America) whenever humans moved into a new region or began populating a new continent.

    The difference is how and for how long. Humans hunted some mammals to extinction, while other species may have simply been unable to compete with humans as predators, therefore dying out. But these changes happened over hundreds, even thousands of years.


    Take a look at the Earth’s human population – 6 billion and rising. You don’t have to be a mathematician to know that there isnt going to be enough resources to keep our numbers up.

    So you say that the Chinese are trying to keep their people from starving, suggesting indirectly that the loss of this species is just business as usual.

    Ok, yes, starving humans trump a cute dolphin that swims in rivers. Survivial of the fittest and all….

    So it shouldn’t bother skeptics of global warming when our numbers drive us to starvation, chaos and disease. We’re just speeding up the process by destroying the environment.

    The point that Cory and I keep making on these threads that nature is losing patience with us. We’re an intelligent species and have incredible adaptibility, but eventually our strain on the planet will snap and our species will suffer. Whether we cling to history in cities or in caves depends on choices we make NOW.

    Cory I doubt anyone but you has bothered to keep reading this, so thanks as always!

  5. Cory says

    LOL Thanks again Mark M =). You saved me from a long response. It’s not only just damning, the disruption an destruction of the ecosystem due to global warming is wreaking havoc on many, many species. Do you know who is next? The polar bear. Sounds amusing, but it’s happening. The melting of the ice is resulting in the drowning on many of them, as there is less and less land for the polar bears and other artic species to survive. Just so humanity can have the convenience of the automobile and every other luxury they want, specifies are becoming extinct. The newly melted colder fresh water from the artic that mixes with the warmer salt water near the equator is also damaging the coral reefs and other ecosystems that warm water species rely on for survival. Over population, let’s not go there. That’s a long discussion, and it’s not pretty (lord I feel like Debbie Downer – bwwwahhhhh waaahhhhh lol).