2008/10/28

NEW NET Issues List for 28 Oct 2008

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 28 October 2008, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering. This week we're at the Basic Bookstore and Cafe in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, US.

The ‘net

  1. Online divorcee jailed; killed virtual hubby http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081023/ap_on_re_as/as_japan_avatar_murder “…A 43-year-old Japanese woman whose sudden divorce in a virtual game world made her so angry that she killed her online husband's digital persona has been arrested on suspicion of hacking…"I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry," the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting the allegations…She has not yet been formally charged, but if convicted could face a prison term of up to five years or a fine up to $5,000…The woman was arrested Wednesday and was taken across the country, traveling 620 miles from her home in southern Miyazaki to be detained in Sappporo, where the man lives…”
  2. In Satellite Photo Resolution Race, Who's Winning? http://www.pcworld.com/article/152813/ “…The arms race over overhead images heated up earlier this month as the two Web cartographers battling for the mantle of technical supremacy, Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., announced a pair of key deals. On Oct. 7, Microsoft signed a multi-year contract with DigitalGlobe Inc. to use its entire library of more than 177 million square miles of earth photos in its Virtual Earth and Live Search Maps. Until last month, access to DigitalGlobe's entire library of images, some of them taken at resolutions as fine as 2 feet-per-screen-pixel, had been exclusive only to Google for use in its Google Maps and Google Earth services. "It's safe to say that Microsoft's high-res coverage layer was not as extensive as Google's over the last couple of years,"…Microsoft's deal with DigitalGlobe, which is non-exclusive, is "an effort on their part to catch up." The following day, arch-rival GeoEye Inc. showed off the first color photos taken by its recently-launched GeoEye-1 satellite at a stunning 1.3 feet-per-pixel resolution…”
  3. Stick a fork in it: a broadband over powerline post mortem http://tinyurl.com/6lgk2c (Ars technica) “…Broadband over powerline (BPL) has joined the choir invisible, is pushing up the daisies, is an ex-broadband technology. Smart grids, which don't require broadband speeds, are moving forward, however. BPL encodes information on high-voltage and medium-voltage powerlines, and has speeds that were (at one time) competitive with cable and DSL. BPL is usually distinct from home powerline networking (like the HomePlug AV standard), which works over household voltages. BPL was advertised as a way to bring broadband to difficult-to-serve markets and to increase choices in competitive markets. BPL can be used to bring Internet access to homes, and to carry operational data and signals for the electrical networks over which BPL runs—the so-called smart grid. Smart-grid applications include video monitoring, live reporting of usage from homes and businesses, and remote operation of switches and other equipment... Why did BPL implode? It's pretty clear that competition from newer fiber-to-the-home and to the node networks (Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse, to name two), as well as increased speeds now possible on DSL and cable systems left BPL an expensive and unattractive option…”
  4. Broadband users reach their limit http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7684322.stm “…One million UK consumers have exceeded or come close to exceeding their broadband usage limit… 56% of broadband providers who advertised services as "unlimited" did impose usage caps and were prepared to cut people off if they used their service to excess. Only two out of the nine actually said what these limits were. As a result, uSwitch found that 80% of UK broadband customers either wrongly thought that they had an unlimited broadband package or did not know what their limit was…”
  5. IT pays the price for your fun at work http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-10075190-83.html “…It's clear that the line between work and play is blurring. Many people check work e-mail accounts in their off hours as much as they check their personal e-mail accounts. And who isn't occasionally distracted by something on Facebook or YouTube during the work day?...Ninety-seven percent of end users surveyed reported using one or more Internet applications at work, up from 85 percent last year… Corporations also continue to keep a watch on employee activities on the Web. Nearly 80 percent said they monitor corporate e-mail, 65 percent monitor Web browsing, 40 percent monitor peer-to-peer file sharing, 38 percent monitor IM messages, and 36 percent monitor social-networking activity…”
  6. Ray Ozzie Steers Microsoft Into the Cloud http://preview.tinyurl.com/5psjfy (PCWorld) “…Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie has officially filled the shoes previously worn by founder and Chairman Bill Gates, stepping in as leader of the company's vast developer network, which is its lifeblood and crucial to the enormous success of Windows. Ozzie delivered Monday's keynote speech at the company's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles, introducing Windows Azure, a cloud-computing development and hosting environment that integrates Ozzie's vision for the future of the Web…”
  7. Microsoft Office Is Coming To the Cloud http://gigaom.com/2008/10/28/microsoft-office-is-coming-to-the-cloud/ “…Microsoft’s Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote will have a new home in the cloud, the company announced…adding the Office suite to the cadre of software and services it has said it will provide as it develops its Windows Azure cloud-based platform. The browser-based versions of the apps will run on Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari, as well as on Windows Mobile devices. It will go into a tech preview for developers later this year…the suite will be a “lightweight” version of its client-based cousin and will be offered as a package rather than siloed and sold individually…”
  8. The Cloud is now “officially” full of Vapor http://blogs.zoho.com/general/welcome-microsoft/ “…Microsoft confirmed today…with grand fanfare, that next year they will be announcing a web-based version of their Office product. Yes, you read it right, Microsoft announced that they will be announcing… Microsoft had been pooh-poohing the whole SaaS world… even going as far as denying the inevitable and creating its own Software-plus-Services trend-of-one. But Microsoft took one big step forward today, and added some extra validation to the whole concept of productivity applications delivered using nothing but a browser… For their business model - I wonder if they’ll charge the same for the on-line version as they charge for the old, dinosauric version?...They surely risk loosing a grip on the desktop, as well, you don’t need Windows to run applications on a browser…”
  9. NuConomy: Next-gen web analytics http://www.downloadsquad.com/2008/10/28/nuconomy-next-gen-web-analytics/ “…Web analytics is an increasingly important metric for web publishers…Technology has improved so that you can now track site entry points, popular keywords, specific post metrics, out-bound clicks, nationality of your visitors and more. The problem is, to actually get that data into something useful, you usually have to dedicate a bunch of time analyzing statistics or you have to pay for an expensive commericial analytics package. Today, NuConomy is officially launching its free web analytics platform, NuConomy Studio…The platform that NuConomy will most likely be compared to is Google Analytics, because both are free and both offer easy integration into various web platforms. In its scope, however, NuConomy Studio is much more akin to Omniture, but without the hefty licensing fee that pretty much excludes all but the biggest sites from taking advantage of its enhanced metrics…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. Time to patch Windows again, ASAP http://news.cnet.com/8301-13554_3-10074492-33.html “…If you use a Windows computer connected to a network, a newly discovered bug makes it possible for a bad guy to wreak havoc on the computer without your doing anything. The most vulnerable versions of Windows are XP, 2000 and Server 2003. Vista and Server 2008 are also vulnerable, but not as badly. Microsoft considers the bug important enough to issue the patch immediately rather than waiting for their normal once-a-month patch Tuesday…she offers some unusual advice, suggesting people first restart their computers "to verify that your machine is bootable." Can't hurt. Then she says to install the patch and reboot again…This particular bug is with a part of Windows known as the Server service. If you are not sharing files and/or printers on a local area network, then you don't need to have the server service running, bug or no bug…Microsoft describes how to both stop and disable the Server service in Security Bulletin MS08-067. They also suggest doing the same to the Computer Browser service…”
  2. Australia trials national net filters http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7689964.stm “…Is the Rudd government about to erect a Great Firewall of Australia... Senator Conroy has since indicated that there would be a two-tier system: a mandatory one that would block all "illegal material" and an optional tier that would block material deemed unsuitable for children, such as pornography… The website, "No Internet Censorship for Australia" asks: "Do we really want the Government of the day deciding what Australian adults can and can't see? Do we want Australia to join a censorship club in which Burma, China and North Korea are the founding members?…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Why Windows Mobile will die http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2008/pulpit_20081023_005500.html “…Windows Mobile is probably doomed…I'm not saying that Windows Mobile is bad, just that it is probably doomed. It's a simple matter of market economics. There is generally room in any technology marketplace for three competing standards…In personal computers we have Windows, Macintosh, and Linux (or similar Unix workstation variant)…among those three standards there tends to be a market-share distribution that is more or less 85-10-5… If I had to bet right this moment on the mobile 85-10-5 of 2011 I'd say iPhone, Android, then RIM, Symbian, or something completely new from behind Door Number Three. Why iPhone over Android? For exactly the same reason why the iPod holds that approximate 85 position among music players, including ones using open source software…”
  2. T-Mobile G1's POP3/IMAP Email Is Down http://gizmodo.com/5068743/t+mobile-g1s-pop3imap-email-is-down “…Over on the T-Mobile forums, there's a massive thread about the G1's totally borked POP3/IMAP email service. Looks like receiving, sending, and even just checking email results in a nasty connection error for just about everyone (one user estimates 95%)…The problem isn't tied to any particular email service, though Comcast users are reporting the most errors. Gmail seems to work just fine, and T-Mobile customer service reps' official response is to forward all other email to a Gmail account for the time being…Will, an admin at the T-Mo forums, has responded that these issues are familiar to T-Mo, saying, "We used to see similar errors and symptoms with the old MyEmail service and the new Consumer Email Client…”
  3. HP Mini 1000 starts at $399 http://www.jkontherun.com/2008/10/hp-mini-1000-ne.html “…Vivek caught sight of the new HP Mini 1000 netbook on HP's shopping page: Starting price of $399, Weight begins at 2.25 pounds, which is a little less than the HP Mini-note, Under 1-inch in thickness…The large screen bezel of the 8.9-inch Mini-note is gone; we're guessing a 10-inch display…the Mini-note differentiates itself from all other netbooks with the generous 1280x768 display resolution…”
  4. Dell Inspiron Mini 12: $600 MacBook Air? http://tinyurl.com/5cznro (LaptopMag) “…The Inspiron Mini 12 was just about the same thickness as the Lenovo ThinkPad x200 I had brought to the meeting, and only a bit thicker than the .76-inch MacBook Air that one of the meeting attendees had on the table…that extra girth buys the Dell more ports - 3 USB, full-size VGA out, a 3-in-1 card reader, along with a mic and headphone jack… The expanded display and the resulting larger chassis will make for a more comfortable work experience compared to a 10-inch netbook. Starting at under $600, those who have dreamed of owning a seriously thin laptop will be tempted by the Dell Inspiron Mini 12…”
  5. Wal-Mart To Sell Google's G1 Phones At Discount http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10077054-1.html “…If you're thinking of buying a T-Mobile G1, you might want to run to the nearest Wal-Mart instead of a T-Mobile store…Wal-Mart will sell the first Google Android smartphone in 550 stores nationwide starting Wednesday…T-Mobile currently sells the G1 for $179.99 with a two-year contract, but Wal-Mart will offer the device for $148.88 to new customers or current subscribers who are eligible for an upgrade…”

Open Source

  1. Ubuntu's Live USB Disk Creator http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=ubuntu_usb_creator&num=1 “…Ubuntu 8.10 is shipping next week with a horde of updated packages including the Linux 2.6.27 kernel, X.Org 7.4, Pidgin 2.5, GIMP 2.6, and many other packages that have experienced significant milestones since the April release of Ubuntu 8.04. On top of these updated packages from the community, Canonical has been working on a few desktop Linux innovations of their own. For instance…a USB start-up disk creator. In this article we are providing a quick look at this utility to easily spin your own USB disk images…”
  2. Mozilla's mobile Fennec browser http://www.linux.com/feature/151153 “…Mozilla released the first workable alpha version of its new Fennec mobile browser last week, showcasing a new interface optimized for small-screen devices. Despite the slimmed-down look, however, Fennec makes use of the same Mozilla technologies under the hood that are well-known in Firefox. In my testing on my own handheld device, I found Fennec an enticing browser with a well-thought-out interface…You can grab the first usable release from the Fennec project site on Mozilla Labs…Perhaps the most innovative feature of Fennec is its user interface, which attempts to maximize the amount of screen real estate devoted to page rendering. It does so with context-sensitive UI elements and off-screen controls that you access with gestures…”
  3. Ubuntu 8.10 due Thursday http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-10075890-92.html “…Canonical will release the newest version of its Ubuntu version of Linux on Thursday…Ubuntu 8.10, aka Intrepid Ibex in the company's alphabetically ascending naming convention, is the latest installment of Linux for desktop computers and servers in the company's six-month release cycle. Among the new features are support for 3G wireless modems, the ability to set up an encrypted and password-protected private directory, a guest account that can help out someone needing temporary use of a computer, and built-in content from the BBC…”
  4. Codeweavers makes CrossOver free today http://tinyurl.com/5rbd6v (ComputerWorld) “…Try as you might to get away from Windows, you might think that you're stuck with using it because there's this one program that you have to use and you can't find anything on Linux or Mac OS that works for you. Well, you're in luck. CodeWeavers the company behind CrossOver Linux Pro and CrossOver Mac Pro is offering for today, October 28th, free downloads and registrations for these programs that will enable you to run many popular Windows programs, such as Quicken, Microsoft Office, and Photoshop CS2 on your favorite operating system…the company said it would provide its software for free in the unlikely event that under Bush's administration any of the following things happened: Return the stock market to it's 2008 high; Reduce the average price of a gallon of milk to $3.50; Create at least one net job in the U.S. this calendar year…or, and this one that actually happened, bring the average gasoline prices in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) to $2.79 a gallon. As Jeremy White, president and CEO of CodeWeavers, explains, "I was filling my tank at Big Steve's Gas Palace in St. Paul, I had just finished my morning corn dog and 64-ounce Dr. Pepper when I looked at the pump and noticed gas was at $2.79. I screamed 'Woohoo,' then I yelled 'Oh, crap!' as I realized every American can now have my software for free. Kind of upsets my fourth quarter revenue projections…”
  5. Faster booting with Linux http://weblog.infoworld.com/openresource/archives/2008/10/faster_booting.html “…Sitting in front of a PC waiting for it to start up can be infuriating, especially if you've had to reboot before doing a presentation or dialing into a WebEx conference…despite earlier technologies introduced by Microsoft, boot times seem to be getting slower, rather than faster, over the last 10 years…DeviceVM has introduced a technology called Splashtop that provides instant-on access to Web browser apps in seconds rather than minutes. How? By booting a minimal-footprint Linux kernel from flash memory that runs Firefox, Skype, a music player, or other special Splashtop apps. Today Splashtop comes pre-installed on notebooks and motherboards from ASUS, including the Eee PC…”

SkyNet

  1. Russia Blocks Google Acquisition of Online Ad Firm http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10074033-93.html “…Russian antitrust regulators have blocked Google's acquisition of ZAO Begun, an online advertising unit of Rambler Media. The companies had agreed to the terms of the $140 million acquisition in July, but Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service said "nyet." According to Svetlana Gladkova's translation of a Russian news report, the reason is that Google hadn't submitted complete information on employees in Russia, so the FAS couldn't evaluate the deal's consequences…”
  2. Gmail Adds Emoticons, Canned Responses & Updates Mobile Client http://tinyurl.com/5coza8 (SearchEngineLand) “…Gmail team has…added emoticons to mail messages, created a new labs project for canned responses and…released a new mobile Gmail client for J2ME-supported and BlackBerry phones. The new client is “designed to be more reliable in low signal areas and provides basic offline support for phones like the Nokia N95, Sony Ericsson W910i, and BlackBerry Curve.” You can also manage multiple Gmail accounts in the same client…”
  3. Google Earth brings virtual tourism to iPhone http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-10075543-37.html “…Google…dived headlong onto Apple's highly regarded mobile phone with a full-fledge application, a handheld version of its Google Earth geographical software… I tried the application late last week and was impressed how well the iPhone version kept up with the performance, features, and usability of Google Earth for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux--at least, while using a Wi-Fi network connection…What's most interesting to me, though, is that the iPhone's multitouch screen actually made using the application easier than the PC versions…”
  4. Gmail gets integrated calendar, docs http://lifehacker.com/5069708/gmail-labs-adds-google-calendar-other-gadgets-to-sidebar “…Gmail has added support for sidebar gadgets to its experimental Labs section, allowing users to add an agenda view of Google Calendar, a short list of recent Google Docs files, and…web-based gadgets…adding too many gadgets could lead to some page-loading slowdown. You can enable the GCal, Docs, and external gadget support in the beaker-icon Labs menu of Gmail…here's a few ways to make Gmail gadgets more convenient…”
  5. Google reaches $125 million settlement in book copyright lawsuits http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10076948-2.html “…Google will be paying authors and publishers $125 million as part of a settlement agreement that resolves a suit against its Google Book Search initiative, the Authors Guild and a group of publishers announced Tuesday. The settlement enables authors and publishers to receive compensation for online access to their works. Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, called the settlement "the biggest book deal in U.S. publishing history." Google is digitizing the works from many major libraries, including the New York Public Library and the libraries at Stanford and Harvard universities, and is making those texts searchable…”
  6. Google’s Green Agenda Could Pay Off http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/28/technology/internet/28google.html “…Google, the Internet search and advertising giant, is increasingly looking to the energy sector as a potential business opportunity… Google’s chief executive…joined Jeffrey R. Immelt, General Electric’s chief executive, to announce that they would collaborate on policies and technologies aimed at improving the electricity grid. The effort could include offering tools for consumers…engineers at Google are hoping to unveil soon tools that could help consumers make better decisions about their energy use….Google is now considering large investments in projects that generate electricity from renewable sources…”

General Technology

  1. Multi-Robot Pursuit System http://www.dodsbir.net/SITIS/display_topic.asp?Bookmark=34565 “…Develop a software and sensor package to enable a team of robots to search for and detect human presence in an indoor environment. There are many research efforts within robotics in path planning, exploration, and mapping of indoor and outdoor environments. Operator control units are available that allow semi-autonomous map-based control of a team of robots. While the test environments are usually benign, they are slowly becoming longer and more complex. There has also been significant research in the game theory community involving pursuit/evasion scenarios. This topic seeks to merge these research areas and develop a software/hardware suit that would enable a multi-robot team, together with a human operator, to search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject…”

Leisure & Entertainment

  1. YouTube Enables Deep Linking Within Videos http://tinyurl.com/6ys4dp (TechCrunch) “…It’s not a big new feature but it’s certainly one that will come in handy: YouTube will now allow you to send users to a specific point in a video by appending a short tag to the end of a video’s URL…”
  2. LucasArts, BioWare unveil new 'Star Wars' game http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-10071972-52.html “…LucasArts and BioWare unveiled Star Wars: The Old Republic, a new massively multiplayer online game…The companies did not divulge a release date and it appears that they will not show any live game play…LucasArts and BioWare…have pulled the curtain back on what appears a large-scale online game in which players will be able to take on roles and create their own, personal Star Wars story lines…”
  3. iPhone can rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP for games http://www.macworld.com/article/136345/2008/10/ngmoco.html “…When a company forms specifically to publish games for Apple’s iPhone, it’s certainly worth noting. But when that company is headed up by two veterans of Electronic Arts who see the iPhone as hotbed for game development, it really grabs headlines…Young describes the App Store as “an effortless distribution system”…marked contrast to the barriers a developer has to face to get a game out for…a Nintendo DS or Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP). Both of those businesses require most developers to go through a much more rigid approval process and secure retail distribution channels. But still, barriers to success for iPhone developers remain, Young added. “There’s a lot of noise in the App Store…”
  4. Fly into the danger zone with your iPhone http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13549_7-10076386-30.html “…if you've been aching for a true dogfight flight sim for the iPhone, you may not have to wait much longer. There are a couple of flight sim games for the iPhone, however, according to SnakeHead Software, their game Flying Aces is the first true dogfight flight sim for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The game puts you in control of an F-15 Eagle flying over the Persian Gulf and uses accelerometer controls to give you a more realistic flight experience…SnakeHead Software is planning to release a multiplayer version of the game sometime in the future…”

Economy and Technology

  1. 19,683 Tech Layoffs And Counting http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/10/24/19683-tech-layoffs-and-counting/ “…This has been a brutal month or so for tech layoffs….there have been 19,683 job eliminations at tech companies announced since mid-September, and we’re not even counting the 24,600 people at Hewlett-Packard who are being eliminated as a result of its merger with EDS. But only five big companies make up more than 90 percent of the layoffs: Xerox (3,000), Dell (8,900), Yahoo (1,500), eBay (1,500), and German chipmaker Qimonda (3,000). The other 33 companies are mostly startups, and collectively account for 1,683 layoffs. Although three more companies (Sony Ericsson, Nvidia, and TicketMaster) account for an additional 1,110 job losses…”
  2. Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing http://radar.oreilly.com/2008/10/web-20-and-cloud-computing.html “…A couple of months ago, Hugh Macleod created a bit of buzz with his blog post The Cloud's Best Kept Secret. Hugh's argument: that cloud computing will lead to a huge monopoly. Of course, a couple of weeks ago, Larry Ellison made the opposite point, arguing that salesforce.com is "barely profitable", and that no one will make much money in cloud computing. In this post, I'm going to explain why Ellison is right, and yet, for the strategic future of Oracle, he is dangerously wrong… when Larry Ellison says that cloud computing and open source won't produce many hugely profitable companies, he's right, but only if you look at the pure software layer. This is a lot like saying that the PC wouldn't produce many hugely profitable companies, and looking only at hardware vendors! First Microsoft, and now Google give the lie to Ellison's analysis. The big winners are those who best grasp the rules of the new platform. So here's the real trick: cloud computing is real. Everything is moving into the cloud, in whole or in part. The utility layer of cloud computing will be just that, a utility, without outsized profits…The company that creates the right platform for network effects in data may well achieve the scale that Hugh Macleod envisioned…”
  3. What Tim O'Reilly gets wrong about the cloud http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2008/10/what_tim_oreill.php “…Tim O'Reilly…makes some important and valid points, but his analysis is also flawed, and the flaws of his argument are as revealing as its strengths… take a look at the big kahuna on the Net, Google, which O'Reilly lists as the first example of a business that has grown to dominance thanks to the network effect. Is the network effect really the main engine fueling Google's dominance of the search market? I would argue that it certainly is not. And in fact, if you look back at that 2005 O'Reilly article, What Is Web 2.0?, you'll find that O'Reilly makes a very different point about Google's success…”
  4. Upwardly Mobile http://www.technologyreview.com/business/21533/ “…An Indian startup thinks that the right software can make cheap phones a financial lifeline to hundreds of millions…. a Bangalore startup called mChek is plunging into microfinance. Its software is already used by 500,000 people, who can use their mobile phones to pay their phone bills and purchase a limited number of goods and services, such as airline and movie tickets. Through a pilot project, as many as 5,000 borrowers will begin using the system to manage their finances--tapping keys on their cell phones to access bank accounts and execute transfers, make payments…and possibly even do business with local merchants. Several borrowers should be able to share one phone…”

Civilian Aerospace

  1. Armadillo Aerospace meets Lunar Lander Challenge http://www.lcsun-news.com/ci_10811080 “…that changed Friday at the Las Cruces International Airport, when Texas-based Armadillo Aerospace successfully completed one contest in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. A small crowd gathered at the viewing platform held its breath as the Armadillo lander roared upward, moved sideways and landed, staying in the air for more than 90 seconds. A cheer erupted when it became clear the launch had succeeded...State officials announced Friday that Armadillo Aerospace and a second company, Rocket Racing Inc., will partner to test vehicles that can carry people to suborbital space...Teams had to launch from one point, travel 50 meter up, move 120 meters over, land on a target, while staying in the air at least 90 seconds. Teams had the chance to refuel and then had to reverse the process, landing at the starting point....A late-morning launch by a second team, the Chicago-based True Zer0, was unsuccessful. The Armadillo team will compete today in a more-difficult contest with a larger purse…”
  2. Space Tourist Lands Safely http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/081023-expedition17-landing-day.html “…A Soyuz spacecraft has returned safely from the International Space Station, touching down with an American space tourist and two Russian cosmonauts in a picture perfect landing that followed two flawed descents on similar vehicles… Garriott and Volkov made a bit of space history with their successful landing. Their return marked the end of the first spaceflight to include two second-generation spaceflyers… Garriott performed a host of science experiments and education events during his mission. He also photographed some of the same spots on Earth that his father observed more than 30 years earlier and created some zero gravity artwork while taking care not to spill paint in weightlessness…”
  3. Space Bubbles Would Thrill Tourists http://www.space.com/news/081024-rocketracing-spacetourism.html “…The Rocket Racing League is teaming up with a private aerospace company and the state of New Mexico to build a new fleet of suborbital spacecraft…Passengers would be surrounded in a clear, bubble-like shell that gives a panoramic, 360-degree view of Earth and space, rather than be limited by the round window portals offered by other private spaceflight efforts…Under the joint venture, Armadillo Aerospace and the racing league would build a fleet of vertical launch and landing spacecraft capable of flying two passengers on suborbital spaceflights. Tickets will cost about $100,000, about half that set for rides on billionaire Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spaceliners, league officials said. Passengers would likely launch into suborbital space about 62 miles (100 km) above Earth …”

Supercomputing & GPUs

  1. AMD drops the cheap HD 4830 on budget gamers http://tinyurl.com/6nbojq (Ars technica) “…AMD has fired the latest salvo in the video card wars with the introduction of its Radeon 4830 graphics card…which retails for under $150, outperforms the NVIDIA 9800GT…The HD 4830 supports DirectX 10.1 and shader model 4.1, and sports a total of 956 million transistors. The card's memory interface is 256-bit, rather than the 128-bit interfaces on the HD4650 series and below…AMD packed the GPU with 640 stream processing units…”
  2. Sequential programming is dead. So stop teaching it! http://tinyurl.com/55bdbw (Intel) “…All major manufactures of CPUs, GPUs and ASICs have moved to a many core design, yet universities and colleges are not training engineers in the parallel and concurrent disciplines needed to efficiently program on such systems. To make matters worse, many of the computer science and engineering faculty are often not yet informed enough to effectively teach the subject, even were it to be offered…most engineering and computer science graduates will not have the skills to provide competitive advantage on multicore and many core platforms. Undergraduates need to be exposed to parallel programming techniques starting in CS1 and then need to build on the skill in every (relevant) course. This is not the case at most institutions; when they teach parallel computing at all, they often relegate it to advanced topics or elective courses…”

*****

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