NEW NET Issues List for 27 Feb 2007

My kingdom for a six hour laptop battery!

Since the charger for said laptop is four miles away from the laptop, you'll not be subjected to extemporaneous ramblings in this afternoon's post... Have to get this done before the battery runs out!

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 27 February 02007, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 6:45 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

  1. Firefox loses browser share, Safari gains http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,129246/article.html
  2. Firefox update available; 1.5 support ends soon http://blogs.chron.com/techblog/archives/2007/02/firefox_2002_update_available_15_support_ends.html
  3. RIAA Fights Back, Threatens Open Wi-Fi http://blog.wired.com/music/2007/02/riaa_contests_d.html
  4. Corel to test free apps market with limited suite http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/home/News.asp?id=42434&cid=6
  5. Registerfly faces losing ICANN accreditation http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070227-8933.html
  6. Intuit Makes TurboTax Available for Free http://news.yahoo.com/s/zd/20070227/tc_zd/201990
  7. Jellyfish.com's Smack Shopping Makes Paying Into Play http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070227/tc_cmp/197008859

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. Second security rival knocks Microsoft's antispyware Defender http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9011624&intsrc=news_ts_head
  2. Microsoft apologizes for serving malware http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070221-8898.html
  3. Symantec confident users will see beyond Norton 360 price tag http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9011760
  4. Nine Easy Web-Based Collaboration Tools http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070225/tc_cmp/197008244

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Settlement Lets Apple Use ‘iPhone’ http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/22/technology/22apple.html?hp
  2. Qwest: ‘Free’ Calls cost us ‘Millions’ http://gigaom.com/2007/02/23/iowa-free-calling-schemes/

Open Source

  1. TAPR introduces open-source hardware license, OSI skeptical http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070223-8911.html
  2. Dell to sell Linux laptops & PCs http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/index.cfm?newsid=8526
  3. Carnegie Mellon Folds Open Source Into New Degree Offering http://www.technewsworld.com/rsstory/55818.html


  1. Google charges for web programs http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6385487.stm
  2. Google's low-cost alternative to Microsoft Office http://news.com.com/Commentary+Googles+low-cost+alternative+to+Microsoft+Office/2030-1069_3-6161451.html
  3. Will you trust Google with your data? http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=4544
  4. Google, Profiled by a Former Intern http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2007/02/google-profiled-by-former-intern.html
  5. Turn Gmail Into Your Personal Nerve Center http://www.micropersuasion.com/2007/02/transform_gmail.html

General Technology

  1. IBM-er wins tech's version of Nobel, but few women keep her company http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/kevinmaney/2007-02-20-allen-am-turing-award_x.htm
  2. Microsoft tests "pay-as-you-go" software http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070222-8907.html
  3. Samsung accelerates graphics memory to 2000 MHz http://www.tgdaily.com/2007/02/23/samsung_gddr/
  4. No cure in sight for unpredictable hard drive loss http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070225-8917.html
  5. Vista, Office and Outlook 2007 are a Nightmare
  6. http://www.spendmatters.com/index.cfm/2007/2/27/Vista--Outlook-2007-is-a-Nightmare
  7. Dell reaches out to Linux users with OS-free laptop http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070226-8923.html
  8. Life-Long Computer Skills http://www.useit.com/alertbox/computer-skills.html

Leisure & Entertainment

  1. Merrill Lynch: 30% of U.S. Households to Own Wii by 2011 http://biz.gamedaily.com/industry/feature/?id=15309&ncid=AOLGAM000500000000022
  2. Movie theaters offer video games to fight falling ticket sales http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/02/25/yourmoney/movies26.php

Economy and Technology

  1. $8 billion: Shining a light on global warming http://yodel.yahoo.com/2007/02/22/shining-a-light-on-global-warming/
  2. Startups: Best and Worst Decisions http://www.startupping.com/2007/02/22/best-and-worst-decisions-part-2/

Civilian Space Technology

  1. NASA and Virgin Galactic team up on space travel http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070222-8904.html
  2. Simonyi: Spaced Out http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/ArticleReader.aspx?ArticleID=19256
  3. Civilian Space Travel Winner Gets Second Shot at Space http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/070207/law038.html?.v=94

Streaming Supercomputing

  1. PhysX PPU soon to be in open war with AMD/ATI and NVIDIA http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070222-8906.html
  2. Tech's supercomputer used for nuclear development http://www.collegiatetimes.com/news/1/ARTICLE/8575/2007-02-22.html
  3. What's so hard about doing non-graphics programming on a GPU? http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070227-8931.html



Innovation: BarCampMadison and FS3

Andy Bechtolsheim had a great quote in a recent InfoWorld article: "If you want to innovate, you sometimes have to throw things out and see whether you can make them successful. Because there's no easy way in advance to predict how exactly it will play out."

Andy's advice holds true for both BarCampMadison, 3 - 4 March 2007, and for the FireSeed Streaming Supercomputer (FS3). These are both tech 'projects' that didn't exist six months ago. No one knows how BarCampMadison will play out because it's a tech unconference. And no one knows how the FS3 project will turn out because it is not the standard approach to supercomputer design or to working on a major tech project.

The one thing participants do know about the barcamp is that they'll enjoy it. Having been to two previous barcamps, it's easy for me to know BarCampMadison will be both fun and successful. For those who have not been to a barcamp, consider participating in one this coming weekend. If there is any tech subject about which you're passionate, you will benefit in three ways from participating in this technology mêlée in Madison.

First, you'll get the chance to share your passion with others at the event by leading a session. Leading a session isn't about being a recognized expert who is giving a talk for others to sit passively and listen. The session leader's responsibility is to get the conversation started by explaining what there is about the topic of the session that gets them excited, that they are passionate about. Share your enthusiasm with others who are in the session. Elicit questions, be ready and willing to go off on tangents, ask others in the session to talk about their experience with the subject of the session.

Second, you'll get the chance to be exposed to tech topics about which others are really passionate. You will be involved in discussions about technology issues which are either new to you or are presented differently than you seen before. You may also contribute helpful information or ways of looking at things that other session leaders or participants hadn't heard before.

Third, you'll have the chance to meet a whole bunch of new tech enthusiasts. Some of them write code or design or build hardware. Others design websites or are proficient at using technology in unique or effective ways. You'll have the chance to connect with people passionate about the same topics as you or with geeks passionate about a topic you'd like to know more about. Some people have even said barcamps changed their lives and resulted in them doing new projects or starting businesses with people they met at the event. Serendipity is a great thing, and there will be lots of it at BarCampMadison.

The FS3 project is also well-described by Andy's quote and is being 'thrown out there' to see if we can make it successful. Not only is the technology unproven, but the ad hoc tech project model at this scale is unproven as far as we know. The project team will figure out ways to make both the FS3 and the ad hoc tech concept as successful as possible. Regardless of the eventual supercomputer product developed by the team, everyone who participates on the project will learn something about working with others in the knowledge economy and will take that experience with them to make their next project even better.

Two outcomes are desired from communicating about BarCampMadison and the FS3 project.
  1. Get more people involved in these two projects, and in other projects like them.
  2. Help others learn about these projects, encouraging them to contribute their suggestions, experiences and questions, making these projects and others more successful.
If you've been thinking about starting a project or event, throw it out there and see if you can make it successful! And if you like the sounds of BarCampMadison or the FS3 project, come join the fun!



Rethinking Malware Removal

A malware removal experience on Friday and Saturday last week made me wonder if computer malware problems should have the following three options:
  1. Throw out the Windows computer and buy a Mac.
  2. Work on malware removal for a maximum of two hours.
  3. Reformat the hard drive and reinstall.
The equivalent of about four hours over two days was spent on trying to remove a persistent piece of malware, following probably another four hours of malware removal work by the laptop owner. (At the normal myDigitechnician hourly rate, that removal would have cost $240.) The actual scan time with anti-malware tools was much longer than the eight equivalent man-hours invested in the job.

The laptop owner had employed a number of anti-malware prevention measures prior to getting the 'infection' on his computer:
  • Firewall
  • Antivirus
  • Anti-spyware
  • Auto-updating of Windows/MS Office/anti-malware
  • Safe computing practices
After getting the infection he took the following steps to get rid of the nasty critter:
  • Deleted all the garbage files (temp, temp internet, etc)
  • Manually updated anti-malware programs to make sure they were up to date
  • Scanned with antivirus and anti-spyware programs
  • Gnashed his teeth
Seeing as how none of the above fixed the problem, he passed it on to me. After he showed me what the malware was doing (re-directing Google search result links), my business partner and I used our normal assortment of malware removal tools. Each of the tools made the laptop a little cleaner because they all seem to find a few things that the others miss.

What finally located the problem child was scanning with an anti-malware program not previously used by us. The program wouldn't remove it -- it just identified what it was and where part of it was hiding. Once we knew that, though, its death knell had been rung! Other tools in the myDigitechnician arsenal were used to sneak up on the miscreant and his compadres from behind and yank them out of the computer while they were helpless. Additionally, we left behind warning signs telling them never to come back.

All told, it took about eight man-hours and twenty-two anti-malware tools to restore his laptop to "clean and green."

Maybe a better solution is to use a Mac.

For masochists and those whose vocations or avocations dictate they use a Windows computer, the solution appears to be figuring out how to re-format the hard drive and re-install all programs and data in less than two hours. This is the solution that Mr. Ballmer/Gates needs to work on. Not how to make the computer secure, but 1) how to detect a problem, and 2) how to quickly delete everything and re-install programs and data painlessly.

It has been clearly demonstrated that secure computing for the average Windows (dominant OS) computer user is NOT achievable. And that's NOT going to change with Vista or any other preventive security measures in the next few years.

[...this post was written on a Windows computer...]



FS3 Alpha: The Value of 'Just Doing It'

While researching HPC (high performance computing) and supercomputing with GPUs today, it became readily apparent short-term action is needed on the FS3 project.

It would be easy to spend weeks, months and maybe even years reading about, thinking about and talking about the advantages of GPU-based supercomputers over CPU-based supercomputers. Intel is working on HPC and so is AMD. Cray is building a new supercomputer for Edinburgh University for $222,000,000. Intel is rumored to be working on high end graphics cards. Etc, ad infinitum.

An MIT Technology Review article mentioned all the work being done at that university related to parallel programming models. In an HPC Wire editorial, there is more discussion about what programming languages are best for supercomputer programming.

I have a friend who spent years researching what personal computer to buy. He kept telling me that if he bought a particular computer, he knew it would be outdated very soon, plus he could save money if he waited a few more months and the price dropped on the older models. And so it went for quite a few years...

The FS3 project is likely to move ahead much more quickly if we build the six box, 12-GPU Alpha system suggested by David T than if we wait until we raise enough money to build the 50-GPU Beta system. Once the Alpha hardware is put together, the team will start finding out what the challenges are and will start developing the solutions. Coding for FS3 will be much more challenging than hardware, and every day we wait to start is another day of lost opportunities. We probably won't have the Alpha for BarCampMadison on 3 - 4 March 2007, but it's still possible to get the system put together for one or two university road trips before MinneBar on 21 April.

During the next FS3 weekly teleconference, I'm going to propose planning be started for the software/coding part of the project -- if it hasn't already been started. The FS3 Alpha system can be assembled for $15K - $30K, depending on its final design. Concurrent with software planning are a number of other activities, including putting the organizational structure for the FS3 project in writing (LLC or other entity, with all the important details spelled out), following up with AGW on the $250K grant applications, developing a professional FS3 website, and making connections with potential project members.

Lots of activities, lots of things to plan for. FS3 Alpha -- here we come.



Business Models and Exit Strategies: FS3

The FS3 project team can learn from the recent announcement of Google Apps Premier Edition and the response post on the Zoho blog.

A popular business model in the dotcom boom days was 'float an attractive-sounding internet or high-tech idea with a minimal organizational structure developing that idea and get a few million dollars to work on it.' No working product or service, no customers (at least no paying ones) and minimal 'skin in the game.'

The exit strategy, if there was one, was often 'be acquired by a large company for more millions.' The start-ups didn't always pay attention to developing a revenue stream and making the business a profitable one.

Zoho, however, appears to be focused on providing a usable, effective product and generating positive cash-flow. They are concentrating on developing the best possible online apps suite available, and have been releasing a steady stream of improvements, with more on the way. Zoho also has the advantage of flexibility and quick response possible from a small company that a large company will never be able to match.

The Zoho blog post uses the metaphor of Google Apps being an anchor tenant in a mall. People shopping at mall anchor stores often spend money in the smaller stores surrounding the anchor. The presence of the anchor results in more customers and revenue for the small companies than they would have had without the anchor. Another post about the Google Apps Premier Edition alluded to the same effect, using the "rising tide floats all boats" metaphor. Approaching innovation products with an abundance theory mentality will, in the end, be much more productive than the attitude that any win for a competitor is a loss for the other players. In a mature market with commodity products the abundance theory may not hold, but online apps is certainly not a mature market.

Zoho undoubtedly has several exit strategies, one of which is 'sell to Google for billions.' But one of their short-term and long-term strategies is also 'provide a continually-improving good product to paying customers for a positive cash-flow.' As long as they focus on the later while being prepared for the former, they'll be in great shape. In fact, working extremely hard at the latter greatly increases the chances of the former happening!

Lessons here for the FS3 project team and ad hoc tech projects in general are:
  1. Establish a sound strategy around a market need, developing a real solution to that need.
  2. Continually improve your product, and have an internally documented pipeline of useful, customer-defined improvements so you know where the company and the product is headed.
  3. Use media focus on your competitors as incentive to work harder at delivering innovations rather than letting them be a distraction to your team.
  4. Have your prime goal be delivery of a useful product to a diverse customer base resulting in a positive cash flow.
  5. Be aware of short development cycles and compressed internet-time product life so you can take advantage of the opportunities those phenomenon present, but build and develop products that will serve your customers over the long haul.
The FS3 project will be impacted by technology innovations, such as a 66% speed boost gained from the Samsung 2000 MHz graphics memory that was in the news recently. These innovations must be incorporated into the FS3 when appropriate and ignored when they would only get the project off track. Figuring out which developments to incorporate and which to ignore, well, that's half the fun of the project!



FS3 Project: Alpha Boxes and Ad Hoc Project Issues

Intriguing developments occurred in the past few days on both the equipment front and the ad hoc tech project aspects of the FS3 streaming supercomputer project.

In the past eight days I've been in four meetings for the FS3 project. A weekly teleconference was established to monitor project progress, make necessary adjustments and discuss new issues. Two of the four meetings were the weekly teleconferences.

The third gathering was an organizational project meeting on 18 February in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA. The FS3 was explained to people interested in it who had not yet had a chance to extensively discuss the project. Numerous aspects of the project were covered ranging from "where the heck did this project come from" to "should the FS3 use gigabit interconnects, 10GigE, or something else?" The meeting lasted two to three hours, but would have gone longer if people hadn't had other commitments. Three meeting participants reconvened at Lin's Garden after the meeting for some tasty Chinese food and to discuss the supercomputer and a plethora of other topics.

During the organizational meeting on 18 February, the consensus was reached to add an alpha stage to the FS3 project. The alpha stage goal is to build a small cluster of computers for demonstrating the streaming supercomputer concept at a relatively low cost. FS3 alpha is targeted to have 6 boxes with 12 GPUs. Justin put together specs for the important components on Sunday night, 18 Feb. Today I put together detailed parts list spreadsheets for two approaches to the FS3 alpha. One is a middle of the road cost and the other is a bare-bones low-cost system. Both approaches have the same GPUs, motherboard and RAM, but have differences like two 500 GB HDs vs one 250 GB HD, a UPS vs a surge suppressor, etc.

The FS3 alpha concept is that a 12-GPU system gives an entry point for people to play with the hardware and see what they can make it do. After building the boxes and installing minimal software, the project team will take the FS3 alpha on road trips to universities and tech events. This gives the project some exposure, creates buzz and gets new people intrigued by the concept to the point where they'll work on the project or ask how soon they can buy an FS3 fifty-GPU system!

Now that the alpha system is spec'd out, the last two steps before buying the hardware and starting the snowball rolling downhill are securing funding and establishing the FS3 company (governance structure, equity or ownership structure, LLC vs S Corp vs ?). The team is working on those issues as this post is being written...

The fourth recent meeting on the FS3 project was a 6 a.m. IHOP breakfast on 19 February. I met with one of the project advisors, Kurt, who posed important questions and offered great advice. Had he not had an early morning teleconference scheduled, we might have sat there, drank more coffee, talked and worked on the project for another hour or two. One of the Kurt's suggestions is playing out today and over the next few days. That suggestion is to get the basic ground rules laid down for the project. The four ground rule areas we discussed on 19 Feb are:
  1. Define and put in writing the governance and ownership rules for the LLC, or whatever organizational form is chosen.
  2. Define how the company will recognize and make the transition from a 'research project' to a capitalist company with the goal of making a profit.
  3. Define how FS3 intellectual property will be approached, protected and owned.
  4. Develop expectations for all project members, clearly spell them out in writing, get alignment on those expectations and manage expectations throughout the project.
We discussed the markets for the FS3 streaming supercomputer, potential business models for the FS3 company and reasons why the project would be good for Wisconsin. Kurt, like David T, felt this is an important project to keep in Wisconsin and to move ahead on quickly. Development of the FS3 in Wisconsin will:
  1. Help build the culture of innovation in the state.
  2. Enable or enhance advanced projects at universities and other research organizations in the state which require low-cost HPC resources (high performance computing).
  3. Enable advances or breakthroughs in alternative energy and biomedical/biotech, two recognized focus sectors for Wisconsin's future.
  4. Enable some awesomely cool games, hopefully leveraging collaboration with the four Wisconsin video game companies.
Lessons were learned over the past week about ad hoc tech projects. Those lessons learned (although not yet totally internalized or prioritized yet, unfortunately) include:
  1. Issue meeting or discussion notes on the day of the meeting or discussion. Take the time -- MAKE the time.
  2. All meeting/discussion notes must include action items or next steps agreed to in the meeting, listing the item, the person responsible for completion and the target date. Those agreed-to expectations need to be followed up on and managed by the project manager.
  3. Any ad hoc tech project needs a simple, compelling, professional website to which non-project people can be referred. The FS3 project does not yet have such a website, and its lack was felt when a BFG Technologies employee asked me this morning if we had a website. Arghhh! We need to get the content written, then build and launch the website. Soon.
  4. Ad hoc tech project members will have hugely varying agendas, expectations and levels of expertise at communicating and collaborating. The important thing for people to focus on in these projects is continual improvement. Mistakes WILL be made -- progress will be mighty slow if none are expected or accepted. But the focus will be on what we learn, the advances we make and the passion we have for what we're doing. Those who wish to focus on mistakes will do better in a large corporation than on an ad hoc tech project team.
More on the FS3 project in upcoming days...



NEW NET Issues List for 20 Feb 02007

Extremely busy but fun-filled waking hours have led me to neglect this blog for the past few days.

This afternoon's post consists solely of the NEW NET articles for this evening's weekly meeting. Lots of good tech news to discuss. If you're in the vicinity of Appleton, Wisconsin, USA, Earth and haven't had a recent dose of tech talk, we'll see you tonight at Tom's!


Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 20 February 02007, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 6:45 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

  1. Wikipedia's Wales: Damn the advertising, full speed ahead! http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070215-8860.html
  2. Wikipedia Breaks Into U.S. Top 10 Sites http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20070217/tc_pcworld/129135
  3. No Turning Back from Rich Internet Apps http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070217/tc_cmp/197006901
  4. Blogs can bite back: US presidential candidates learn http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070218/tc_afp/usvote2008politics

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. Savant’s anti-malware software acts as a bouncer http://www.gcn.com/print/26_04/43171-1.html?topic=reviews
  2. Mac users 'still lax on security' http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6378541.stm

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. The iPhone: Mac or iPod? http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,253149,00.html
  2. Time is right for Palm sale, analysts say http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/index.php/id;333014543
  3. Vonage patent infringement trial set to begin http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070220-8884.html
  4. Coming Up: Vonage Wireless? http://businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2007/tc20070220_452876.htm
  5. The Battle for Mobile Search http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2007/tc20070220_828216.htm

Open Source

  1. Flaw allows malicious hackers to take control of Snort http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20070220/tc_pcworld/129195
  2. Cuba embraces open-source (cigar-smoking penguins) http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070219/ap_on_hi_te/cuba_software
  3. Reports: Open source gathers steam http://news.yahoo.com/s/infoworld/20070215/tc_infoworld/86127


  1. Google co-founder: Science needs entrepreneurs http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/biztech/02/19/google.interview.reut/
  2. Google buys its way into in-game advertising http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070216-8868.html
  3. Google VP: Mobile phones the future of the Internet http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070220-8885.html
  4. Google class debuts at the UW http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/304299_google20.html

General Technology

  1. Can Earth Dodge Asteroid Heading This Way? http://www.abcnews.go.com/Technology/Science/story?id=2885820&page=1
  2. Virtual PC 2007 made available http://news.zdnet.com/2110-3513_22-6160244.html
  3. AMD releases low-watt processors as part of cold war http://www.itwire.com.au/content/view/9759/53/
  4. AMD finalizes DTX motherboard specification http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070220-8886.html
  5. New NVIDIA compiler offloads math functions to GPU http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070219-8878.html
  6. Vista "Express Upgrade" anything but express http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070216-8861.html
  7. An Example of Why UAC Prompts in Vista Can’t Always Be Trusted http://www.symantec.com/enterprise/security_response/weblog/2007/02/an_example_of_why_uac_prompts.html
  8. What Dell customers want - Linux, no craplets, more RAM, no offshored tech support http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=265

Leisure & Entertainment

  1. Shunning YouTube, Viacom hooks up with Joost http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070220-8883.html
  2. 10 Things You Might Not Know About the Sirius-XM Merger http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2007/02/10_things_you_m.html

Economy and Technology

  1. 'Internet Addict' Sues IBM for $5 Million http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,129169/article.html
  2. Seven steps to remarkable customer service http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/customerservice.html
  3. Gates and Jobs to Make Historic Joint Appearance At Fifth Annual 'D (did Walt invite you to this, David?) http://www.primenewswire.com/newsroom/news.html?d=114073



FS3 Obsidian; Meeting Tomorrow

The first general-invitation meeting for the FS3 Obsidian project is happening tomorrow, 18 February 02007, in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA.

It appears nine people will participate in the meeting, which is a manageable size for this stage of the project. The project objectives and design specifics for the FS3 (FireSeed Streaming Supercomputer) have not yet been nailed down, so having a meeting with too large a group is unproductive at this point.

Justin spotted a great article released yesterday about NVIDIA's new CUDA software development kit. CUDA is designed to "...allow full access to the 128/96 cores of GeForce 8800 graphics cards..." He also contacted the article's author, Wolfgang Gruener, and may be connecting with NVIDIA through Wolfgang. The title of the article is, appropriately for the FS3 project, "NVIDIA activates a supercomputer in your PC." This article emphasizes the concept around which Justin has developed the draft design for the FS3 Obsidian, namely, parallel processing utilizing the thousands of cores in ~ 50 linked graphics cards.

Results of the meeting will be posted on this blog. Check back in a couple days if you're interested in what was decided and what the next steps will be for the FS3 supercomputer.



NEW NET Weekly Issues List

No time today to write a post, so here's the weekly NEW NET issues list...

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 13 February 02007, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 6:45 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

Top Three Tech Issues in The Past Seven Days

  1. Internet Security – The first three articles below in the Security section address different aspects of internet security. If the implication of the first article is true, that’s great news. Microsoft’s backing, as discussed in the second article, may finally give OpenID critical mass. Finally, all those at the RSA conference whose security was compromised, as discussed in the Security article # 3, deserved it and should have known better.
  2. Quantum Computer – If the quantum computer being introduced this week isn’t a hoax, it represents a huge step up the Moore’s Law curve, although you and I will still be using standard silicon CPU computers for a few years.
  3. Future of Personal Computing – The points made in this post by Mark Cuban will have a huge impact on the future of the way you interact with computers and on myDigitechnician’s business model.

The ‘net

  1. Pipes and Filters for the Internet http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/02/pipes_and_filte.html
  2. Critical mass and social network fatigue http://blog.jonudell.net/2007/02/06/critical-mass-and-social-network-fatigue/
  3. A Comparison of Live Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo Mail http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/02/08/a-comparison-of-live-hotmail-gmail-and-yahoo-mail/
  4. State of the Virtual World – Key Metrics, January 2007 http://blog.secondlife.com/2007/02/09/state-of-the-virtual-world-%e2%80%93-key-metrics-january-2007/
  5. Blogs transform Mideast social dialogue http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070209/ap_on_hi_te/mideast_blogging
  6. Firefox 3 To Support Offline Apps http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/firefox_3_offline_apps.php
  7. Students charged in online snow-day hoax http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070210/ap_on_re_us/fake_snow_day

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. Internet Attacked! (Did Anyone Notice?) http://blog.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2007/02/internet_survives_major_attack.html?nav=rss_blog
  2. Microsoft and OpenID http://identity20.com/?p=90 http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/02/openid_gets_a_b.html http://www.identityblog.com/?p=668
  3. Conference Attendees Drop Ball on Wi-Fi Security http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20070209/tc_pcworld/128921
  4. Congress: We want our porn labeled and our data retained http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070209-8804.html
  5. Microsoft's Bitlocker: useful tool or impediment to forensics? http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070207-8789.html
  6. Victim of RIAA "driftnet" awarded attorneys' fees http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070207-8786.html
  7. Defense Department sued over "censorship unit" disclosure http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070209-8805.html

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Hacking Skype: 25 Tips to Improve Your Skype Experience http://www.voip-news.com/feature/hacking-skype-020607/
  2. Samsung Ultra Smart F700 Kicks iPhone Butt http://www.trustedreviews.com/mobile-devices/news/2007/02/09/Samsung-Ultra-Smart-F700-Kicks-iPhone-Butt/p1
  3. Windows Mobile 6.0 released http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070208-8802.html
  4. Yahoo Messenger Inside Yahoo Mail http://blogs.pcworld.com/techlog/archives/003722.html

Open Source

  1. Canonical and Linspire team up http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070208-8801.html
  2. Rumors of Novell Linux ban greatly exaggerated http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070207-8794.html
  3. JBoss founder Marc Fleury leaves Red Hat, now what? http://blogs.zdnet.com/Burnette/?p=258


  1. Try Google's Smart Custom Search Engine http://blogs.pcworld.com/tipsandtweaks/archives/003691.html
  2. Google and cable firms warn of risks from Web TV http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2007-02-07-google-web-tv_x.htm
  3. Google: Web is OK for TV (despite what you may have read) http://gigaom.com/2007/02/09/google-web-is-ok-for-tv-despite-what-you-may-have-read/

General Technology

  1. Burnaby-based company to roll out a quantum leap in computer design http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=483eb224-1f44-4459-b50c-97f60a92fd6a&k=22661
  2. The Future of Personal Computing ? http://www.blogmaverick.com/2007/02/11/the-future-of-personal-computing/
  3. More megapixels, better photos: Fact or fiction? http://news.com.com/2100-1041_3-6156398.html
  4. Vista follow-up likely in 2009 http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/02/09/HNvistafollowup_1.html
  5. Windows "Vienna": hypervisor being considered http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070211-8811.html
  6. Intel's GPU plans could include extending x86 ISA (CGPU?) http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070211-8810.html

Leisure & Entertainment

  1. Will Vista Run Your Games: The Final Word http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,2090571,00.asp
  2. Jobs on DRM: We want iTunes to be DRM free, but… http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=4445
  3. Xbox Live Arcade Founder Leaves Microsoft For PopCap Games http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/2007/02/xbox_live_arcad.html
  4. Apple Embraces Casual Gaming http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2007/tc20070209_857229.htm
  5. Virgin announces digital game delivery service http://gaming.monstersandcritics.com/pc/news/article_1262824.php/Virgin_announces_digital_game_delivery_service

Economy and Technology

  1. A Kirkland cafe with no prices http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2003558690_terrabite06e.html
  2. Kodak "revolutionizes" inkjet market with cheap ink http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070206-8778.html



FS3: Managing and Organizing Info for Ad Hoc Tech Projects

Now that the FS3 project (FireSeed Streaming Supercomputer) is actually up and running, it appears the project will actually be a two-part project for some of the people involved.

Part one is the portion that deals with designing, building and developing the supercomputer itself. Part two of the project is learning how to effectively organize the information associated with an ad hoc tech project and how to manage the project for optimal results when the project team is geographically spread out, for the most part haven't worked together all that much and have widely differing reasons and incentives for being on the team. In the words of one of my favorite metaphors, it will be akin to 'herding cats.' (YouTube video clip, 1:07 min)

For some people on the project, the benefits of gaining new 'knowledge economy' skills may be greater than the benefits directly related to supercomputing. With the global economy, increasing communication power of the internet, and acceptance of a collaborative open source approach to important needs, there will be an increasing number of opportunities to participate in either ad hoc tech projects or more traditional 'work' projects.

The team is currently using a Google Group, Google Docs, email, Ventrilo (for teleconferencing), cell phones, blogs, and an occasional Gchat IM. As we work through the early stages of the project, I'm hoping to get agreement on a highly effective set of tools for collaborating remotely. Connecting with someone who has worked on this type of project over the past six months to a year is one of my goals. The relatively recent timeframe is mentioned because some tools now available were not in existence as recently as a year ago. If you've got some suggestions based on your remote collaboration over the past year, please connect with me -- I'd love to hear your experiences and suggestions.



Windows Vienna: The Future of Client OSs

With the release of Windows Vista and a recent presentation by Ben Fathi, there have been a number of articles and posts related to Windows Vienna, the client OS successor to Vista.

There are certain to be verrry interesting discussions at Microsoft and at other tech companies now and over the next three to five years about where client OSs are headed. Between Linux, virtualization, online applications such as Zoho or the growing GoogleSuite led by Google Docs, and who knows what else, Windows is unlikely to be the overwhelmingly predominant "OS" on desktop and laptop computers (ok, also on tablets, UMPCs and other x86 OS devices). Not to mention the increasing amount of "computing" time that is moving to cell phones and other highly-mobile devices.

Some people feel Vista is Microsoft's last hurrah in terms of a full-blown personal computer OS. However, based on trends of the past 20 years in personal computing, it's likely a large number of mainstream pc users will still want a client OS five years from now. They will buy their "pc" from Office Depot or Best Buy. And Vienna (or whatever the official MS release name is at that point) will be the OS installed on the pc they buy. Because a Window client OS is what they have now and is the computing platform with which they're comfortable.

This isn't to say there won't be many "personal computing" models and choices other than a client device with a Windows OS. I fully expect there to be two or more robust options for primary computing platforms five years from now. Just as some college students and others have been using OpenOffice since 2000 or earlier as a replacement for MS Office, in 2012 there will definitely be college students and others exclusively using online apps which have no need for a full-blown client app, such as Windows Vista or Vienna. There will also be other "personal computing" platform options which most of us would have difficulty getting our heads around today.

If you're an early adopter or like to play with bleeding-edge personal computing, give no further thought to Vienna. But if you are a traditionalist who used Win98 for six years and are happy with the your client OS, have no fear -- Microsoft will be there for you!


BarCampMadison: Sessions

BarCampMadison is only three weeks away, so there's not much time left to do recruitment of people or companies for session topics of high interest.

A majority of the people participating in BarCampMadison will either present on a topic about which they are passionate or will be content to participate in other people's sessions as an active learner or as an incidental contributor.

Because there are technology areas in which I'm highly interested, however, I've been contacting people involved in my areas of interest to see if some of them will come and lead sessions. I'd love to learn more about technologies in alternative energy, in robotics, in 3D printing, in technological innovation, in supercomputing and in seventeen or eighteen other areas.

Because of the following items, I haven't managed to recruit as many BarCampMadison participants in the above areas as I would have liked:
  1. Working on marketing, sales, engineering and other business aspects of Abba Makolin, Waldron & Associates, LLC, providing 'Innovation Technical Resources' to manufacturers who need outside assistance for process, product and materials development and troubleshooting
  2. Working on marketing, sales, a little technical work, and various other aspects of myDigitechnician, an in-home computer service provider for consumers
  3. Participating in activities related to economic development of the New North
  4. Spending time with family and friends
  5. Enjoying all sorts of technology-related activities
  6. Maintaining and improving my spiritual, mental and physical health
So this is a call to all those involved in the above-listed tech areas (such as supercomputing), or those who know someone involved in those areas. Please seriously consider participating in BarCampMadison (click on this link to register -- there's no charge to participate) or forward information about BarCampMadison to people you know and encourage them to participate. At the very least, send me their name and contact information (send info to bwaldron [att] gmail {dott} comm).

For those people who signed up to participate in BarCampMadison or who plan to sign up, consider what session you'd like to lead, or what other ways you can get involved in the event. This tech unconference is of the people, by the people, and for the people. Get involved! Contact me if you need ideas on how you can do that.

Hope to see you at BarCampMadison, http://barcampmadison.com, in Madison, Wisconsin, on March 3 - 4, 2007!



Tech Traps For The Average User / NEW NET issues list

The pervasiveness of computers in everyday life, and especially the globally connected internet, leads to both minor and major problems for the average computer user.

This week's NEW NET issues list highlights some of those dangers. When Sam Surfer hops onto the internet to check out the Super Bowl website prior to Super Bowl XLI, the last thing he's expecting is that a trojan will be waiting for him there and will install itself on his computer through a security hole in the Windows operating system. The happy consumer who just bought both a brand new shiny Windows Vista laptop and that pink iPod they've been wanting for a long time is not expecting Vista to give their iPod major headaches. In a third scenario, the happy-go-lucky non-geek who decided to give Gmail a try is not expecting to automatically be signed up for personalized search on Google which will result in Google tracking lots of info about them in order to give more relevant search results.

All three of these situations were in the news over the past week, illustrating how the tangled web we weave is becoming more tangled each day for that 'average user.' And it will only get more tangled as time goes by and the web becomes an even more essential part of our daily lives.

Stay tuned to NEW NET and myDigitechnician as we help you avoid getting caught in dangerous places on that tech web!


Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 06 February 02007, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 6:45 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

Top Three Tech Issues in The Past Seven Days

  1. Super Bowl Site Trojans – The Trojan on the Super Bowl website as well as a Center for Disease Control (CDC) and several other sites attempted to install keylogger software on site visitors’ computers with unpatched Windows, including a patch just released last month. The danger to Windows computers is increasing daily when just surfing sites once considered ‘safe’.
  2. Vista / iPods / QuickBooks – Millions across the world own iPods and use them with Windows, expecting the two will co-exist peacefully. Now they find out Vista could cause problems for their iPod. And it appears Vista owners who use QuickBooks may be required to update to Quickbooks 2007. Problems with a new OS are to be expected, but these two seem a bit much.
  3. Google & Personal Search – Personalized search is sometimes predicted to be the next big improvement in internet search. Google is making a move in personalized search that seems to go against their ‘do no evil’ mantra. They are automatically signing up new Google account holders (like for Gmail) with personalized search, making it a hard to find opt-out option.

The ‘net

  1. Zoho Notebook Takes Aim At Microsoft OneNote http://www.informationweek.com/software/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=197002841
  2. Zoho's Cool Web-Based Note Taker http://blogs.pcworld.com/techlog/archives/003667.html
  3. BarCampMadison? Yahoo tests Local mashups http://gigaom.com/2007/02/02/yahoo-beta-testing-local-mashups/
  4. Top 10 Picks From DEMO 2007 (Luke, look at Whisher) http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/demo07_top_10_picks.php
  5. Edit your images online with Picnik http://lifehacker.com/software/images/edit-your-images-online-with-picnik-233575.php
  6. Yahoo's mission quest http://money.cnn.com/2007/02/01/technology/pluggedin_lashinsky_yahoo.fortune/
  7. Bandwidth hogs exist, but the light users are key, says report http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070131-8748.html
  8. CircleUp Gets Answers From Your Friends http://www.mercextra.com/blogs/takahashi/2007/02/01/demo-circleup-gets-answers-from-your-friends/#more-56
  9. Do You Play Tag Online? http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,128724-c,internetnetworking/article.html
  10. Startups pursue social Web surfing http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/business/technology/personal_technology/16608881.htm
  11. MapQuest Launches New Gasoline Price Info Portal http://www.resourceshelf.com/2007/01/31/mapquest-launches-new-gas-prices-portal-for-us/
  12. February 2007 Web Server Survey http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2007/02/02/february_2007_web_server_survey.html
  13. Are User-Generated Web Sites Breaking The Search Engines’ Algorithms? http://blogs.mediapost.com/search_insider/?p=457
  14. Go to iFilm for Super Bowl Commercials http://www.ifilm.com
  15. eBooks want to be free. What about audiobooks? http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/2007/02/books_want_to_b.html

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. Super Bowl Site Trojan Aims to Nab Passwords http://blog.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2007/02/official_superbowl_site_pushin.html
  2. Who Watches The Watchers In Surveillance Society? http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070205/tc_cmp/197003126
  3. A Real ID revolt http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070205-8770.html

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Free upload for any MIDI file < style=""> http://www.thomasscott.net/freeload/tone.html
  2. Seagate Touts Pocket-Sized Mobile Storage http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2088945,00.asp
  3. iPhone Lawsuit On Hold http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=197002550
  4. Broadcom puts WiFi, Bluetooth and FM radio on a chip http://www.techworld.com/mobility/news/index.cfm?newsID=7935&pagtype=samechan

Open Source

  1. Novell may be stripped of Linux distribution rights http://www.itwire.com.au/content/view/9179/53/
  2. Free ODF converter for Word now available http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070202-8764.html
  3. Peugeot Citroën revs up 20,000 Suse Linux desktops http://news.yahoo.com/s/infoworld/20070130/tc_infoworld/85567


  1. Google can't use "Gmail" name in Europe http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&ct=us/0-0&amp;fp=45c0f7185e6fb1a5&ei=ueLARZ6ZOaCcHenX0YcI&url=http%3A//arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070131-8741.html&cid=0&sig2=dzp2CHSlC0Wu9beWbb7_kg
  2. Google moves to shake up software, take on Microsoft http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2007/01/29/google_moves_to_shake_up_software_take_on_microsoft/
  3. Google Ramps Up Personalized Search http://searchengineland.com/070202-224617.php
  4. Google Flatlines Again http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/02/02/google-flatlines-again/
  5. Google put pressure on legislators to stay quiet http://www.wcnc.com/news/topstories/stories/wcnc-020207-jmn-google.429a68fa.html
  6. Google Launches Maps For Windows Mobile http://searchengineland.com/070202-085625.php
  7. Google Apps for Your Domain about to be paid-for service http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9684223-2.html
  8. Google Releases New Link Reporting Tools http://searchengineland.com/070205-165836.php

General Technology

  1. Reader feedback: Windows Vista woes http://www.tgdaily.com/2007/02/02/windows_vista_reader_feedback/
  2. Finally, Vista Makes Its Debut. Now What? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16934083/site/newsweek/page/1/
  3. P.A. Semi releases power-efficient dual-core 64-bit CPU http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,128754-c,cpus/article.html
  4. Vista & QuickBooks: Backwards Compatibility Strategies http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=220

Leisure & Entertainment

  1. Apple: Vista May Corrupt iPods http://www.crn.com/sections/digconnect/digconnect.jhtml?articleId=197003009
  2. Apple offers iTunes fix for Vista users http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/news/comments/apple-offers-itunes-fix-for-vista-users/9451
  3. Sony looks for a game machine surge http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070202-8759.html
  4. A Million Penguins: Publisher launches its first "wiki" novel http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070201/wr_nm/penguin_wiki_dc
  5. GooTube Slammed By Viacom Takedown Demand http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/02/02/gootube-slammed-by-viacom-takedown-demand/
  6. Jack Thompson Faces Florida Supreme Court Disciplinary Hearing http://gamepolitics.com/2007/02/03/jack-thompson-faces-florida-bar-disciplinary-hearing/

Economy and Technology

  1. SEO: StumbleUpon's New Webmaster Friendly Referral Page http://searchengineland.com/070131-073500.php
  2. IP's Brave New World: Lawyers in Second Life http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1170237755271



Windows Vista Launches: Initial Reports

At the end of January 2007, roughly five years after Windows XP was launched, Microsoft released Windows Vista.

It's interesting to keep track of the initial reactions, reports of problems and comments in the media and on the blogs. An article yesterday mentioned an estimate that 1% of Vista users will experience upgrade problems. That percentage seems like a pretty low number. When XP Service Pack 2 was released, there were reports of upgrade problems for 20% to 30% of the users.

Here are some of the comments and problems read online over the past few days:
  1. Vista consumes 10 - 11 GB of hard drive space and takes from 30 minutes to several hours to install, depending on your setup. Your computer may look like it crashed or hung, but don't re-start the installation because you'll just drag out the process that much longer. Apparently the screen will often not indicate things are progressing, when, in reality, the install is proceeding normally.
  2. Apple iTunes and Vista do not play nice together. Almost all media reports on this topic have mentioned Apple warning iPod users to wait to play with Vista until things have been upgraded. Apple's website does, however, have an iTunes Repair Tool for Vista 1.0, so if you already mixed Vista with iTunes, head to Apple to get that tool. In addition to the iPod, some older Samsung MP3 players didn't mesh well with Vista.
  3. Graphics drivers and video cards can cause problems. Because the final Vista hadn't been released in the wild yet, there were many combinations of hardware/drivers that had not been tested, and video requirements for Vista is apparently one of the more sensitive parts of the system with respect to legacy equipment.
  4. Some casual online games don't work as well with Vista as they might. WildTangent says, "The new Vista operating system has pretty extensive incompatibility with a lot of popular casual games." It's not necessarily all bad if WildTangent isn't compatible with Vista, since WT has been reported to cause problems itself.
  5. There are reports that any QuickBooks versions before 2007 are incompatible with Vista. That could be big!
  6. Vista seems to be a bit finicky regarding the SATA cables; for more details, check out the TG Daily post.
There are plenty more where those came from, so if you are upgrading to Vista, or even installing it clean on a new machine, have an XP computer with internet access handy. If you start having problems, put Google to work to see if anyone else has had the same issue and has published a solution.

For those who don't have to upgrade or buy a new computer, our advice is to wait a couple months before you give Vista a shot.



Fun with Supercomputers

Good news on several fronts regarding the FS3, FireSeed Streaming Supercomputer.
  • A 250 word abstract has been submitted to the Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest.
  • A grant research project has been started to explore, apply for and, we hope, receive grant(s) money for the project.
  • Justin was contacted by an Milwaukee-area group who is highly interested in the project.
  • A knowledgeable tech entrepreneur agreed to be an informal project advisor.
  • Justin started a Google Groups (which is out of beta now) for the FS3 project.
  • We're getting closer to setting the dates and locations for project organizational meetings.
As the streaming supercomputer project moves from casual conversation to a full-blown ad-hoc tech project, it will be interesting to see how fully we can apply the things we've read about and talked about in terms of knowledge workers, remote collaboration, technological innovation, entrepreneurism and whatever other good concepts I'm forgetting.

For anyone who's reading this and has an interest in collaborating on a streaming supercomputer project, contact Justin or me. We'd love to have you join the project!