Friday Afternoon News You Can Use

Oct. 19, 2012

Some of it serious; some, not so much. Time to take a gander at news you may have missed while otherwise occupied this week.

Some of it serious; some, not so much. Time to take a gander at news you may have missed while otherwise occupied this week.

This one is serious. Eugene Kaspersky, the Russian virus guru, has come up with his solution for "saving the world," or, maybe more pertinently for us in the automation space, stopping evil-doers of various stripes from messing with our control systems in cyberspace. He's going to build an operating system designed exclusively for process automation from the ground up.

Is he serious? Well, he's built a pretty successful software security operation. It's not like he's an amateur. But already there's pushback. Some folks are already raising concerns that, after all, he's Russian. Is anybody in the West going to buy a system that conceivably could have a backdoor in it that would feed important information directly into Vladimir Putin's laptop? Perhaps more to the point, how long is this going to take, first to build, then to get into enough systems and operations to make any difference in a cyberwar that already is seeing skirmishes in various place? So far, it doesn't look like folks such as Siemens, Honeywell, Emerson, ABB and Yokogawa are lining up to buy version 1.0.

Still, even if Kaspersky doesn't get his version off the ground, the basic concept sounds promising. This could be a story worth following for awhile.  

Meanwhile in the U.K. the geeks at Cambridge Consultants are doing an interesting technological cross-over. They're taking technology developed for fertility monitors and using it to find early warnings of oil leaks under the sea at offshore oil-drilling platforms.

The sun may have set on the old British Empire awhile back, but you'd better keep an eye on those folks. While they've been distracting us with royal family scandals, Harry Potter books and Downton Abbey, in the background, their scientists have been doing interesting stuff. At the other end of the country from Cambridge, in a town called Stockton on Tees, Air Fuel Synthesis has been working on a project to make gasoline out of air. This week the company announced that the process is far enough along that its people have produced 5 liters of the stuff. A drop-no, an eyedropper full-in the bucket, you say. Well, yes, but they have much bigger plans. Read all about it here.

And then there's that behemoth Master of the Cyberworld, Google, that knows more about me than my mother ever did-and I and my mom talked pretty regularly. On the other hand, did you tell your mother everything? The point is that while Google knows an awful lot about all of us, they don't really like sharing. But this week, they opened up some of their giant server farms for a massive photo shoot-and the pictures are pretty amazing.

Finally, we're coming up hard on Halloween, and it's time to get ready. Along with the requisite pumpkins, hay bales, cornstalks, orange lights, candy bribes, etc., it might be a good idea to get in your Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Kit. I mean, if the zombies really are going to start an apocalypse, they'd be doing it around Halloween. And the folks at outdoor gear vendors REI want you to be prepared.  

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