Saturday, November 14, 2009
NSA building cybersecurity data center facility...
The NSA is building the facility to provide intelligence and warnings related to cybersecurity threats, cybersecurity support to defense and civilian agency networks, and technical assistance to the Department of Homeland Security, according to a transcript of remarks by Glenn Gaffney, deputy director of national intelligence for collection, who is responsible for oversight of cyber intelligence activities in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
"Our country must continue to advance its national security efforts and that includes improvements in cybersecurity," Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, said in a statement. "As we rely more and more on our communications networks for business, government and everyday use, we must be vigilant and provide agencies with the necessary resources to protect our country from a cyber attack."
The data center will be built at Camp Williams, a National Guard training center 26 miles south of Salt Lake City, which was chosen for its access to cheap power, communications infrastructure, and availability of space, Gaffney said. The complex will comprise up to 1.5 million square feet of building space on 120 to 200 acres, according to the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City.
According to a budget document for the project, the 30-megawatt data center will be cooled by chilled water and capable of Tier 3, or near carrier-grade, reliability. The design calls for the highest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard within available resources.
The U.S. Army Corps of engineers will host a conference in Salt Lake City to provide further detail the data center building and acquisition plans. The project will require between 5,000 and 10,000 workers during construction, and the data center will eventually employ between 100 and 200 workers.
As part of its mission, NSA monitors communications "signals" for intelligence related to national security and defense. Gaffney gave assurances that the work going on at the data center will protect civil liberties. "We will accomplish this in full compliance with the U.S. Constitution and federal law and while observing strict guidelines that protect the privacy and civil liberties of the American people," Gaffney said.
On Nov. 30, the Department of Homeland Security will formally open a new cybersecurity operations center, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, in Arlington, Va. The facility will house the National Cyber Security Center, which coordinates cybersecurity operations across government, the National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications, which operates the government's telecommunications network, and the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, which works with industry and government to protect networks and alert them of malicious activity.
Information Week Analytics has published a report on the 10 steps to effective data classification. Download the report here (registration required).
Acknowledgements: Information Weekly
Friday, November 13, 2009
Boeing and Air NZ to airtest biofuel next month...
Boeing and Air New Zealand will fly a jumbo jet powered partly by biofuel next month, the two companies announced today.
An Air New Zealand jet will leave Auckland on December 3 with a 50-50 mix of jet fuel and oil from jatropha trees, in one of its four engines on a flight designed to show that jatropha biofuel is suitable for use in aviation as well as economical to produce .
"This flight strongly supports our efforts to be the world's most environmentally responsible airline," said Rob Fyfe, chief executive of Air New Zealand. "Introducing a new generation of sustainable fuels is the next logical step in our efforts to further save fuel and reduce aircraft emissions."
The jatropha nuts, which contain 40% oil, were harvested from trees in Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania.
Friends of the Earth's biofuels campaigner, Kenneth Richter, welcomed the move to get the aviation industry to reduce the environmental footprint of its planes, but he raised concerns about the impact of biofuels. "Even jatropha is being linked to food price rises and habitat destruction. Current rates of growth in air travel mean it is not enough to switch to biofuels."
Robin Oakley, head of Greenpeace UK's climate change campaign, said: "We need a dose of realism here, because this test flight does not mean an end to the use of kerosene in jet engines. The amount of jatropha that would be needed to power the world's entire aviation sector cannot be produced in anything like a sustainable way, and even if large volumes could be grown, planes are an incredibly wasteful way of using it."
Boeing said their trees were grown on marginal land not required for food in India and south-east Africa.
Billy Glover, Boeing's managing director of environmental strategy, said that to prepare for the test flight, his team had tried to source biofuel reliably and economically for commercial aviation.
"The processing technology exists today, and based on results we've seen, it's highly encouraging that this fuel not only met but exceeded three key criteria for the next generation of jet fuel: higher than expected jet fuel yields, very low freeze point and good energy density. That tells us we're on the right path to certification and commercial availability."
Air travel contributes up to 5.5% of UK carbon dioxide emissions and the search for a greener alternative to kerosene jet fuel has been fraught with difficulty. Airlines cannot use standard biofuels such as ethanol because this would freeze at high altitude. Testing for the Air New Zealand flight showed that the jatropha-based biofuel was more suitable for flying since it froze at -47C and burned at 38C.
Chris Lewis, a fuels specialist at Rolls-Royce, which tested the jatropha biofuel, said: "The blended fuel meets the essential requirement of being a drop-in fuel, meaning its properties will be virtually indistinguishable from conventional fuel which is used in commercial aviation today."
Last month, Darrin Morgan, an environmental expert at Boeing, said biofuel-powered aircraft could be carrying millions of passengers around the world within three years, much sooner than most experts thought.
The Air New Zeland plane is not the first to use biofuels. In February, Virgin Atlantic successfuly tried a mixture of 80% jet fuel and 20% biofuel (made from coconut oil and babassu palm oil) in one engine of a Boeing 747 on a flight between London and Amsterdam.
Oakley said that technological advances in jet engines could only make a difference if there was a limit to the "massive expansion of the airline industry around the world."
"If Boeing were really serious about reducing their impact on the environment they would end their vocal support for a third runway at Heathrow and put some of their billions into high-speed rail technology instead," he said.
Monday, November 09, 2009
A massive iceberg is heading for New Zealand...
The massive iceberg spotted southwest of New Zealand could be moving closer.
The iceberg was seen by Australian scientists working on Macquarie Island, who estimated it to be 500m wide and 50m high.
NIWA oceanographer Mike Williams said it was unusual to see icebergs in that part of the Southern Ocean.
"The only precedent for icebergs being seen that far north is the one that came through in November 2006," he said.
The 2006 iceberg, which broke off the Ronne Ice Shelf, came within 90km of the Otago coast. Sightseeing flights were arranged to view the iceberg.
Williams said, depending on ocean currents, the new iceberg could be pushed south to the Campbell plateau, southeast of New Zealand.
"But if it's far enough north, it'll come into the current that feeds up into the Auckland Islands and New Zealand."
Moving at 2km/h to 3km/h, the iceberg could take two weeks to come within sight.
Mike Williams said it wasn't clear whether climate change was to blame. There is every possibility that this is the case.
The previous iceberg in 2006 emanating from the antarctic, spent a number of weeks floating up the east coast of New Zealand before melting in the Pacific Ocean. It was the subject of tourist flights and helicopter rides to the iceberg. I don't know exactly how many people stepped onto the iceberg, but it would have been a risky business. I suppose there were a few Scotch whiskies on the rocks at that time. This particular iceberg is expected to move closer to the South Island than the previous one.
Should be some exciting times ahead. I would imagine the tourist operators to be out in force again this southern summer. More helicopter rides to the floating ice in coming weeks? It may attract a few foreign visitors as icebergs are a rare occurrence so far north of antarctic waters. A visit to iconic Queenstown and a trip to the iceberg could be part of a popular tourist package. Readers are invited to come on over to New Zealand in coming weeks.
Down by the HuttRiver