Mark Pilgrim has radically transformed MagicLine into MonkeyDo, a new kind of “browsing assistant” that guesses what kind of page you’re on and offers to post it to your personal bookmarks log with the appropriate tags.

I’m not sure he’d agree that there’s a line connecting the dots of MagicLine and MonkeyDo — you can see his attached description for clarification — but I see them both as ways to “evacuate” data detected while surfing to a semi-stable remote store, for eventual reuse such as filling out forms.

His package also includes a ridiculously useful — as in ridiculously 1) complicated and 2) annoyingly absent from the DOM — subroutine that ‘uninherits’ all cascaded style sheets (though Aaron Boodman followed up with an alternative CSS reset technique).

Mark Pilgrim announces MonkeyDo

Think of it as Clippy the Useless Office Assistant, only for the web,
and actually useful. (I actually considered naming it, but thought better of it.) It sits in the background and watches as you browse, and if it recognizes a type of page that you consider interesting (as defined in Tools –> User Script Commands –> MonkeyDo options), it will offer to post it to Or if you prefer, you can tell it to automatically post certain types of pages, and it will simply notify you when it has done so.

The heuristic for identifying different types of pages is, of course, somewhat messy, and will inevitably lead to embarrassingly hilarious mis-identification, which someone will no doubt bring to my attention.

Mark’s announcement of MagicLine

It tracks your browsing and collects
– page URLs
– page titles
– referrers
– Author, description, keywords from meta tags
– Technorati tags from rel=”tag” links
– XFN links
– autodiscovered RSS/Atom feeds
– autodiscovered FOAF files

Then you can press Control + Shift + L anywhere to get the MagicLine prompt. Start typing, and it autocompletes based on all the data it’s collected so far.

CommerceNet’s newest Board member, Prof. Raj Reddy, has added a new honor to his surely-crowded mantelpiece. This time, it’s for the potential impact of robotics towards a cleaner environment.

Reddy Awarded 2005 Honda Prize From the Honda Foundation

The Honda Foundation has awarded Carnegie Mellon University professor Raj Reddy with the 2005 Honda Prize for his work in computer science and robotics, particularly as it pertains to “Eco-Technology” that is not only efficient and profitable, but also environmentally friendly. Reddy was recently honored as the first recipient of Carnegie Mellon Qatar’s Mozah Bint Nasser Chair of Computer Science and Robotics, and was co-chair of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee from 1999 and 2001. His achievements in artificial intelligence earned him the ACM’s 1994 ACM Turing Award, while his work in developing countries secured him a Legion of Honor in 1984. The Honda Foundation cited Reddy’s status as founding director of the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute and his commitment to accepting and teaching researchers from companies and universities all over the world in an effort to improve the international robotics community. “As a result, robotics has become one of the most promising technological areas for today’s industry as well as future society in the sense that it helps create more harmonious relationships between man and nature through the involvement of intelligent machines,” declared the foundation. Carnegie Mellon Provost Mark Kamlet pointed to Reddy’s current attempts to bridge the digital divide through the PCtvt personal computer and the Million Book Digital Library. Dean of the School of Computer Science Randal Bryant lauded the professor for his dedication to the concept of technology that improves the quality of life while keeping humans’ environmental impact to a minimum. Reddy’s areas of study include AI, human-computer interaction, and speech and visual recognition by machine.

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To view Raj Reddy’s ACM A.M. Turing Award citation, visit

Recently, Sun has been running an intriguing double-page spread print campaign with various of their technical luminaries standing in a field, Hands-Across-America style. Some depictions are a bit disingenuous (Bill Joy), some are not as flattering as they could be, and some, indeed, are eyebrow-raising “Oh yeah, I guess so-and-so really is still there!”

This has intersected with Gary Anthe’s latest from-the-labs report in ComputerWorld. I believe he’s written several of the other lab profiles we’ve pointed to in the past. The following review is courtesy of ACM’s TechNews clipping service. In the extended entry, we’ve excerpted a bit on Vipul Gupta’s work with miniaturizing emedded SSL web servers using ECC…

Sun’s R&D Spectrum Computerworld (06/06/05) P. 29; Anthes, Gary H. Plus sidebar on supercomputing

Sun Microsystems employs some 200 scientists with more than $80 million to spend annually on a wide variety of next-generation computing projects, including a possible 4-PFLOP supercomputer and a Web server the size of a quarter. Sun’s Proximity I/O technology, for example, will enable computer chips to fully maximize their potential computing power so that top-tier Internet switches can be built at dimensions and costs similar to PCs; currently, Internet switches cost millions of dollars and fill entire rooms, but Proximity I/O eliminates wire interconnects and the data-transfer bottlenecks associated with them. “When processors went from 10MHz to 3GHz, they didn’t become 30 times faster because the bandwidth didn’t increase by 30 times; it increased by two or three times,” notes Sun Labs researcher Robert Drost. Sun leveraged the potential of Proximity I/O to win a DARPA bid to design and build the next generation of supercomputer architecture. Sun, IBM, and Cray won the three $50 million contracts, and one project will be chosen for actual production by 2009. Proximity I/O would enable massively parallel computation between large numbers of processors, lifting the sustained speeds of that machine above 1PFLOP, possibly scaling to 4PFLOPS. On the other end of the computing spectrum, Sun has developed secure, coin-size Web servers that could be deployed in battlefield sensors, on personal medical devices, or RFID tags used for confidential situations, and Sun’s elliptic-curve cryptography (ECC) is key to this effort because it dramatically reduces computing requirements compared to RSA cryptography while maintaining similar security.

Read more

Jeff Hawkins, as most of the digerati knows, has been developing his theory of human intelligence for a while now, and recently founded a non-profit research institute to pursue it with visiting researchers and sponsored graduate students. Redwood, in the Kepler’s Books building in Menlo Park, appears to remain quite separate from this venture, but the spinoff theme seems quite appropriate.

In related WSJ coverage, they report that Bruce Dunlevie of Benchmark, a past backer, and Harry Saal, a past CommerceNet supporter, are on their board — less for the money, as one might imagine with Hawkins and Dubinsky involved, than for the connections and business development challenges that await them. I suspect they’re on the right track to conceive of this as a platform play that needs open developer support first and foremost. Good luck!

A New Company to Focus on Artificial Intelligence

Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky will remain involved with what is now called PalmOne, but on Thursday they plan to announce the creation of Numenta, a technology development firm that will conduct research in an effort to extend Mr. Hawkins’s theories. Those ideas were initially sketched out last year in his book “On Intelligence: How a New Understanding of the Brain Will Lead to the Creation of Truly Intelligent Machines,” co-written with Sandra Blakeslee, who also writes for The New York Times.

Dileep George, a Stanford University graduate student who has worked with Mr. Hawkins in translating his theory into software, is joining the firm as a co-founder.

Mr. Hawkins has long been interested in research in the field of intelligence, and in 2002 he founded the Redwood Neuroscience Institute. He now spends part of his time there while continuing to serve as chief technology officer of PalmOne.

Artificial intelligence, which first attracted computer scientists in the 1960’s, was commercialized in the 1970’s and 1980’s in products like software that mimicked the thought process of a human expert in a particular field. But the initial excitement about machines that could see, hear and reason gave way to disappointment in the mid-1980’s, when artificial intelligence technology became widely viewed as a failure in the real world.

In recent years, vision and listening systems have made steady progress, and Mr. Hawkins said that while he was uncomfortable with the term artificial intelligence, he believed that a renaissance in intelligent systems was possible.

He said that he believed there would soon be a new wave of software based on new theoretical understanding of the brain’s operations.

“Once you know how the brain works, you can describe it with math,” he said.

Mr. Hawkins acknowledged, however, that full-scale applications of his theoretical approach had not yet been developed or proved . Mr. Hawkins is now demonstrating a pattern-recognition application using a version of his software. It allows a computer to correctly identify a line drawing of a dog from many different patterns. Commercial uses for the technology might include speech recognition for telephone customer service or vision systems for quality control in factories.

Initially, the company will offer free licenses to the Numenta software to permit experimentation and help build a research community to develop the technology, Ms. Dubinsky said.

Here’s another example of what makes this place so dynamic. Stanford scientist, KJ Cho, developed a great nanotechnology method, but didn’t know how to make a business out of it. He meets a veteran like Bill Miller, who helps him throw a business plan together — and within 18 months, the new company, Nanostellar, has gotten $3 million in venture backing and already cranked out a prototype for a new catalytic converter that aims to undercut prices of existing models, and help save the environment too. Worst case, it may end up one of the nine of ten start-ups that eventually fail — but hey, better the idea is given a chance to fly than to let it die in the labs.

Posted by Matt Marshall on January 19, 2005 08:07 AM

(from SiliconBeat: Silicon Valley’s engine chugs on)

Nanostellar, Enabling Innovation

Dr. William Miller (Chairman, Founder)
Dr. Miller is a Herbert Hoover Professor of Public and Private Management and Computer Science Emeritus and he was Vice President and Provost of Stanford University. He is currently serve as Chairman of the Board at Borland Software Corporation. He is also President and CEO Emeritus of SRI International. He has served on the board of directors of several major companies such as National Science Foundation, Wells Fargo Bank, Networks, and Varian Associates. Dr. Miller also played a role in the founding of the first Mayfield Fund as a special limited partner and advisor to the general partners. He received a Ph.D. in Physics from Purdue University. | 01/19/2005 | Cleaning up cars at atomic level
By Matt Marshall, Mercury News

When Stanford University scientist KJ Cho developed a method to study the qualities of materials at the level of about 30,000 atoms, he had no idea it could help clean up the environment.

Semiconductor companies such as Texas Instruments and Intel used his modeling software to select materials that would let them build chips smaller and smaller. Specifically, Cho’s method was crucial to letting those companies select the right “high-K dielectric” material needed to insulate the semiconductor’s data from its power lines, helping keep electrons from going where they shouldn’t.

But that niche wasn’t big enough to build a business out of, so Cho searched for a better way to put his method to use.

In a brainstorming session in 2003, he and two others — Michael Pak, an engineer who had recently run a DSL company, and Bill Miller, a physicist and former provost of Stanford University — stumbled onto a good idea.

Cho’s method could help find low-cost materials to replace the highly expensive platinum and palladium coatings on catalytic converters.

Catalytic converters facilitate chemical reactions that convert automotive exhaust pollutants such as carbon monoxide into normal atmospheric gases such as nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water.

By introducing cheaper nanomaterials of similar or even superior emission-reducing qualities to platinum, they could reduce the cost of a catalytic converter by 30 percent — the devices average $100 to $300 even for cheaper cars — and help the environment.

In November 2003, Menlo Park’s Nanostellar was born — with Cho’s collaborator, Jonathan Woo, joining in as a founder, and Deepak Srivastava, a NASA scientist, as a scientific adviser.

The trick was to take Cho’s modeling technique and find an efficient way of manufacturing the desired materials.

They moved quickly. By April 2004, the group already was experimenting with products in their lab. By June, they had attracted $3 million, with venture capital firm 3i as lead investor. And by December, Nanostellar delivered its first two prototypes to automobile manufacturers for testing.

Pak, who is chief executive, said one automaker is planning to use Nanostellar’s material for its converters as early as the fourth quarter of this year.

Meantime, the company has 20 full-time employees and is operating off a $1.5 million bridge loan. Cho and his colleagues plan to raise a bigger round of venture capital shortly, but declined to talk about the details.

“Pollution is a huge problem,” Pak said, “and government regulations are getting stricter every year. . . . This is a great application to demonstrate the power of nanotechnology.”

They aim to produce the nanomaterials for half the cost of platinum, which generally makes up about 65 percent of the total cost of a catalytic converter.

After solving the platinum-replacement challenge, Nanostellar plans to move to step two: finding even lower-cost materials that will help improve on platinum’s emissions-reducing qualities by reducing the amount of nitrous oxides still not tackled by catalytic converters.

ACM News Service

“Boeing, U. of I. to Work on Computer Trust Issues”
Chicago Sun-Times (01/06/05); Knowles, Francine

Boeing and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Information Trust Institute have teamed up to design trustworthy, reliable, and secure networked systems and software employed in critical infrastructures, with a focus on basic breakthroughs that can become practical and important commercial products within five to 10 years, according to institute director William H. Sanders. The Information Trust Institute will receive an undisclosed amount of funding from Boeing’s Phantom Works unit over the next five years for the purpose of investigating “trusted software,” and Phantom Works VP Gary Fitzmire says U. of I. was chosen on the strength of its trusted software research. The institute’s mission includes setting up science and technology for creating trustworthy networked information systems, the development of methods for evaluating such systems’ trustworthiness, and the administration of those methods to applications in systems including e-commerce, finance, emergency response, data and information processing, and aerospace. The institute has embarked on research projects that include misbehavior detection in wireless networks and a railcar health monitoring system, while the U. of I. last month solicited research project proposals based on the Boeing agreement. Submitted proposals included new software security and survivability techniques, and reliable and robust control of automated aerial vehicles.

From the article
The institute, which launched late last year, is part of the university’s College of Engineering, that recently signed one of its largest master research agreements ever with Boeing’s Phantom Works unit. The business is Boeing’s advanced research and development arm, and it’s providing undisclosed funding to the university over the next five years to support research in “trusted” software. The research will span topics related to security, privacy, reliability, safety and survivability.

The collaboration will focus on “fundamental innovations that can become viable and significant” marketable products in a five-to-10-year time frame, said William H. Sanders director of the institute.

ACM News Service

“Sony Research’s Parisian Play Station”
Technology Review (01/10/05); Pescovitz, David

Sony Computer Science Laboratory (CSL) Paris director Luc Steels describes the facility as “a scientific lab, but not all innovation is based on science and not all science leads to innovation.” The lab was inspired by the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in its establishment as a place where researchers can exercise their creativity with an unusual degree of freedom, rather than being forced to rigidly adhere to a corporate mandate to develop strictly commercial products. “[It’s] probably for prestige and advertising purposes, but nevertheless, it’s unique and great that a big corporation will put some of their profit to identify people they consider the smartest in the field and let them come up with new ideas,” notes Emory University professor Philippe Rochat. Steels says Paris is an ideal locale for the lab, given the richness of its culture as well as its reputation as a hub of scientific research that is attractive to potential employees as well as visiting academics. Steels’ previous experience includes the directorship of the University of Brussels’ Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and his work with emotional speech synthesis technology that is now used in Sony’s QRIO humanoid robot. Among the facility’s six researchers is Atau Tanaka, who develops musical systems that make listening a vehicle for social interaction by integrating mobile technology and peer-to-peer networking. Another project of note at Sony CSL Paris focuses on unique search engines for digital music libraries.