2008/12/09

NEW NET Issues List for 09 Dec 2008

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 09 December 2008, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering. This week we're upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

1. Obama policy docs to live on Change.gov http://tech.yahoo.com/news/cnet/20081208/tc_cnet/83011357831011793838 “…President-elect Barack Obama's transition team announced Friday that all policy documents from official meetings with outside organizations will be made publicly available on the transition Web site on Change.gov. The site's Your Seat at the Table page allows visitors to download PDF files of the documents, as well as leave comments about them or upload one's own materials for the transition team to review. The page is searchable by keyword. "This means we're inviting the American public to take a seat at the table, and engage in a dialogue about these important issues and ideas…”

2. The Twitter Gold Mine http://radar.oreilly.com/2008/12/twitter-gold-mine.html “…There's always been jabs at Twitter for not having a viable business model and the chatter has increased in the current economic climate…Evan Williams, Twitter CEO, said "We had planned to focus on revenue in 2010 but that's no longer the case, so we changed the plan quite a bit... We've moved revenue higher on our list of priorities...ads are at about a 1st grade reading level now; with adsense and cookies, the ad networks have half an idea of what I'm interested in, but they aren't exactly smart about it. Just because a friend sends me an email about a baseball game doesn't mean I want to see ESPN ads in my Gmail. So what does this have to do with a Twitter business model? Twitter, potentially, has the ability to deliver unbelievably smart advertising; advertising that I actually want to see, and they have the ability to deliver search results far superior and more accurate to Google, putting Twitter in the running to beat Google in the latent quest to the semantic web…”

3. US role as internet hub starts to slip http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/dec/08/internet-usa “…America is losing its position at the centre of the internet…The US used to be a primary hub for many regions," said Eric Schoonover, a senior analyst at TeleGeography. "A lot of data still comes through the US, and a lot of content there is served out to other countries … but its importance is declining, though it has by no means gone away…In 1999, 91% of data from Asia passed through the United States at some point on its journey. By this year that number had fallen to just 54%…”

4. Viviti.com: build your own website easily http://www.killerstartups.com/Web20/viviti-com-build-your-own-website-with-ease “…just moved out of private beta, Viviti will enable anybody to come up with his or her dream website in a hassle-free manner. Generally speaking, the site offer more than 100 templates to choose from, and in the event none of these matches you vision one can be created from scratch. The whole system is an intuitive and flexible one, as no programming knowledge is required – all you have to do is click, drag and drop things into place. No coding experience is necessary at all. Registration to the site is also an effortless task, and once you have submitted your e-mail address and chosen a web address for your brand new site you are ready to go…”

5. MySpaceID & Google to Challenge Facebook Connect http://blog.wired.com/business/2008/12/myspaceid-partn.html “…MySpace and Facebook are racing to create a truly portable social network, one that allows you to bring your friends with you on your web travels. MySpace recently announced MySpaceID, a way to use your MySpace login info, and all the friends connections that come with it, on other websites. Last week Facebook opened up a similar program, Facebook Connect, but MySpace's effort is significantly different because it uses open web tools and partners with Facebook competitor, Google Friend Connect…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

6. Chinese: from Windows to Linux http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/microsoft%20to%20linux-12022008144416.html “…Authorities in the southeastern Chinese city of Nanchang are requiring all local Internet cafes to replace their Microsoft Windows XP operating systems with a Chinese-made system, Red Flag Linux…The switch was mandated by the Nanchang Cultural Management Bureau in what it said was an effort to crack down on pirated software, local sources said. But cafe managers said the new system requires a licensing fee of 5,000 yuan (about U.S. $726), and that even legitimate, non-pirated copies of Windows XP were being replaced…”

7. Secunia: less than 2% of Windows PCs fully patched http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=2262 “…It’s long been established that the unpatched state of the Windows monoculture is the reason we are facing a malware epidemic…According to data culled from 20,000 users of the free software inspector, less than 2 percent of all installed/detected applications are vulnerable to a known security vulnerability…Secunia defines an “insecure program” as a piece of software for which there is a newer version of the program available from the vendor that corrects one or more vulnerabilities, but the user have yet to install the secure version…it’s a safe bet it involves the most widely deployed software programs like Adobe Acrobat/Reader, Adobe Flash, RealNetworks’ RealPlayer, WinZip, QuickTime and Web browsers …”

8. Apple deletes Mac antivirus suggestion http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-10111958-37.html “…Apple removed an old item from its support site late Tuesday that urged Mac customers to use multiple antivirus utilities…"The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box," he said. "However, since no system can be 100 percent immune from every threat, running antivirus software may offer additional protection." Apple's previous security message…was: "Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one application to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult." Security experts, while pleased that Apple would urge Mac users to install antivirus software, had warned that running multiple antivirus products could cause problems and recommended against it…There are no known viruses in the wild that exploit a vulnerability in the Mac OS, and Windows continues to be the overwhelming preference for malware writers to target their programs. But malware isn't just taking advantage of operating system weaknesses anymore. In fact, the majority of such threats now come from code that targets weaknesses in browsers and other applications that aren't platform specific. Mogull said he doesn't recommend that the average Mac user install antivirus software because of the low-level of malicious software seen for Macs at this time…”

9. Spyware nearly sent teacher to prison http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/scrt/B02EA7E566689C1FCC257519001251A8 “…If there's a poster child for the dangers of spyware, it's Julie Amero. The 41-year-old former substitute teacher was convicted of four felony counts of endangering minors last year, stemming from an October 19, 2004, classroom incident where students were exposed to inappropriate images…Amero said she did everything she could to protect her kids, but school officials, reacting to angry calls from parents, went to the police, who soon pressed criminal charges. The case ruined her life…Her conviction in January 2007 was the low point of her life, but soon after that Amero found a champion in Alex Eckelberry, the CEO of Sunbelt Software, who contacted her after hearing about her case. After looking at the evidence, he and other security professionals concluded that Amero had been wrongly convicted. Within months they had mustered a high-powered team of lawyers and security experts who ultimately got the guilty verdict overturned, setting the stage for a retrial…”

10. U.S. Is Losing Global Cyberwar http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/dec2008/db2008127_817606.htm “…The U.S. faces a cybersecurity threat of such magnitude that the next President should move quickly to create a Center for Cybersecurity Operations and appoint a special White House advisor to oversee it. Those are among the recommendations in a 44-page report by the U.S. Commission on Cybersecurity…commission members say they reviewed tens of thousands of pages of undisclosed documentation, visited forensics labs and the National Security Agency, and were briefed in closed-door sessions by top officials from Pentagon, CIA, and British spy agency MI5…Active policing of government and corporate networks would include new rules and a "red team" to test computers for vulnerabilities…government efforts led by the Homeland Security Dept. have been stymied by bureaucratic confusion and an unwillingness by agencies and corporations to share information about cyber break-ins…Forensics examinations and the reprogramming of each computer—which continues in the Pentagon, in Central Command headquarters in Tampa, and in military installations in Afghanistan—costs around $5,000 to $7,000 per machine…”

11. New trojan in mass DNS hijack http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/05/new_dnschanger_hijacks/ “…Researchers have identified a new trojan that can tamper with a wide array of devices on a local network, an exploit that sends them to impostor websites even if they are hardened machines that are fully patched or run non-Windows operating systems…There are several countermeasures users can take, Schmugar said, the easiest being hard-coding a DNS server in a machine's configuration settings…We're partial to OpenDNS, whose settings are 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220…”

12. Tech and Mumbai Terrorism http://blogs.siliconvalley.com/gmsv/2008/12/terrorism-20-micromanaged-massacres.html “…Technology has always been a double-edged sword, wielded as easily for ill as for good, so it’s worrisome, but hardly surprising, to hear how thoroughly and effectively the terrorists who conducted the Mumbai attacks embraced the latest conveniences. They prepared by studying high-resolution satellite imagery from a mapping service, relied on a GPS system to navigate from Karachi to Mumbai, carried BlackBerries and satellite and cell phones, and followed reports of their own progress on the TV news. And, says the New York Times, one of their most effective tools was Voice over Internet Protocol. The same technology used by Skype and others to bring the world closer together through free communication also enabled handlers monitoring the situation remotely to give the terrorists real-time instructions over a communications channel much more difficult to tap or trace than landlines or cells…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

13. Yahoo's Top 10 Mobile Searches for 2008 http://tinyurl.com/6axt3n (ReadWriteWeb) “…Yahoo just announced the top 10 search terms on its mobile search engine. The top mobile searches are either for social networks (MySpace, Facebook), or searches for local information (Craigslist, movies, weather). A lot of of mobile searchers were also looking for auctions on eBay…time sensitive topics like the Olympics, AIG, and The Dark Knight…not a single one of the top mobile search terms appears on Yahoo's top 10 list of searches on its regular search engine…these results definitely stress the difference between what mobile users are looking for when they do searches compared to regular Internet users…”

14. In Flickr's mobile upgrade, video! http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10113534-2.html “…Yahoo-owned Flickr pushed out a very worthwhile upgrade to its mobile-optimized site, m.flickr.com…since last April, anyone accessing Flickr from an iPhone or iPod Touch can play videos hosted on Flickr's servers. In a few weeks, Flickr will unlock this capability for anyone using a Webkit, Opera Mobile (but not Mini), for Firefox Mobile browser…You'll also now be able to do maintenance work, like add contacts, mark images as favorites, adjust privacy settings, and browse interesting photos…”

15. Novatel Wireless MiFi: Hotspot In Your Pocket http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2336280,00.asp “…the MiFi, an "intelligent mobile hotspot" that combines a 3G modem, router, and embedded Linux-based PC to create clouds of Internet connectivity wherever you go. About the size of a deck of cards, the MiFi gets rid of all of the confusing configuration issues around setting up 3G connections and WiFi routers. The device has a processor and Linux-based OS built in, which can run various applications, including security programs, VPNs, and drivers for home appliances. "I could take MiFi over to my grandma's house and have it beam pictures [from the Web] over to the WiFi-enabled digital picture frame I gave her," said Novatel chief marketing officer Rob Hadley. "I want to have an application for MiFi where, when I'm traveling, it alerts me to changes in gate information….The device will have 40 hours of standby battery life and about four hours of continuous connection time on a charge…”

Open Source

16. Open Madison Everything http://openeverything.wik.is/Madison%2c_WI The Open Madison Group co-sponsored an Open Everything event on Dec 6, “a roundtable discussion on the current state of 'open' in the region. Participants come from an array of sectors dealing with various levels and components of 'open' issues, including: technology, education, libraries, journalism, government, philanthropy, arts, nonprofit sector, and more.” The group is planning an open robotics event in 2009 if there is enough participation.

17. Forensic investigation using free Linux tools http://www.linux-tip.net/cms/content/view/363/1/ “…An administrator of a company has been accused of hoarding illegal material…on his company network system. You have been called upon to examine the suspect server and unearth evidence…Your boss has told you that you are not allowed to shutdown the server…We will use the following forensic products: The Helix 3 Live CD to create a server image on the running system, PTK and TSK running on a Mandriva 2009 Server to investigate the case. Helix is a customized distribution of Ubuntu Linux…that includes customized linux kernels, excellent hardware detection and many applications dedicated to Incident Response and Forensics. You are also able to use Helix tools for acquisition and investigation on a running Windows system. PTK is a graphical (web-based) interface to the command line digital investigation analysis tools in The Sleuth Kit. Together, they can analyze Windows and UNIX disks and file systems (NTFS, FAT, UFS1/2, Ext2/3). Both The SleuthKit and PTK Source Code are available and run on UNIX platforms. The file system tools allow you to examine file systems of a suspect computer in a non-intrusive fashion. Because the tools do not rely on the operating system to process the file systems, deleted and hidden content is shown…”

18. Keeping tabs on your network traffic http://www.linux.com/feature/154156 “…One of the first things I do upon installing a Linux distribution is put the Network Monitor applet on my GNOME panel. Watching the blue lights twinkle on and off makes me aware of network traffic. But if you want more details about what's happening on your network, such as which application is hogging bandwidth or what each network interface is up to, you can turn to specialty tools like NetHogs and IPTraf…Unlike most bandwidth monitoring tools, which display network usage per IP address or per protocol, NetHogs monitors the network and presents bandwidth usage per application. Thus you can see how much bandwidth the RSS aggregator, browser, software updater, and even IRC and IM clients are using…”

19. Perl 6 to break compatibility http://tinyurl.com/6oa4hq (ComputerWorld) “…Version 6 of the popular Perl programming language will not be compatible with previous versions, but will open up a new world of custom “languages” and interpreters, according to its founder Larry Wall…It will break backward compatibility [but] in order to simplify it we have to get rid of old cruft, particularly the regular expression cruft,” Wall said. “A lot of the unreadability of Perl is related to the regular expression syntax – and we didn't do that, we got it from Unix. It needs to be end-of-lifed. Regular expressions are not strings, they are a sub-language. We took it and made it worse. There is this two-pass nature that is evil…”

20. Python 3.0: intentionally backwards incompatible http://docs.python.org/3.0/whatsnew/3.0.html “…Py3K”, is the first ever intentionally backwards incompatible Python release…This article doesn’t attempt to provide a complete specification of all new features, but instead tries to give a convenient overview. For full details, you should refer to the documentation for Python 3.0…”

21. 7 Best Image Viewers for Linux http://www.junauza.com/2008/12/7-best-freeopen-source-image-viewers.html “…Some Linux users may not care much on whatever image viewer they are using. But to those who are rather picky, they can always get and install other image viewers with different features to suit their needs. Here’s a list of popular free and open source image viewers that you may want to check out…”

22. VMGL brings 3-D effects to VMs http://www.linux.com/feature/154368 “…VMGL is a little-known application written as part of Google's Summer of Code 2006 program that lets OpenGL apps running inside a virtual machine take advantage of the graphics hardware acceleration on the host. It has limitations, but if you want 3-D in VMs, VMGL is your best bet…”

23. OpenSolaris tackles Ubuntu dominance http://tinyurl.com/6klz4z (ZDNet) “…Sun has crafted the second release of OpenSolaris with a number of improvements in an attempt to make it more competitive with desktop-orientated Linux distributions such as Canonical's Ubuntu…New third-party software includes file indexing and search tool Tracker, the Songbird media player and the Transmission BitTorrent client…Version 2009.4 is set to be released in April 2009…”

SkyNet

24. Google a Monopolist? http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdaily/2008/12/hogans-litvack.html “…Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. called off their joint advertising agreement just three hours before the Department of Justice planned to file antitrust charges to block the pact, according to the lawyer who would have been lead counsel for the government…We were going to file the complaint at a certain time during the day," says Litvack, who rejoins Hogan & Hartson today. "We told them we were going to file the complaint at that time of day. Three hours before, they told us they were abandoning the agreement…”

25. Google officially opens office in downtown Madison http://tinyurl.com/6bcpan (AP) “…Google…announced the creation of a Madison office last spring and officially opened it Wednesday…James Laudon, the head of the Madison office, says it will design hardware and software for Google's data center…” [time for a road trip to Madison!!]

26. 3DVinci's ModelMetricks Google SketchUp Projects for Kids http://www.pcworld.com/article/154932/ “…Google Sketchup is a playful, fun to use and powerful 3D drawing program. In 2006, Google released a free version of SketchUp for Macintosh and Windows computers…Although designed for architects, SketchUp is so easy to use that first graders use it. I have little talent at computer graphics, but within two months of using SketchUp I had designed my own 3D art museum for a local artist in the town where I work… Bonnie Roskes is a professional engineer who…loves Google SketchUp and had already written the definitive guidebook for adults who use SketchUp. Imagine my delight to discover she recently finished writing 11 short guidebooks on using SketchUp with kids. These books are exactly what I was looking for – with step by step instructions and lots of clear illustrations…”

27. Does Google Have a Secret OS? http://www.internetnews.com/dev-news/print.php/3788821 “…Net Applications noticed something unusual with stats from Google.com, which would represent Google employees, not the public at large that use its search engine. Two-thirds of the visitors from Google.com did not hide what operating system they were running…One-third, however, were unrecognized even though Net Applications' sensors can detect all major operating systems including most flavors of Unix and Linux. Even Microsoft's new Windows 7, which is deployed internally at Microsoft headquarters, would show up by its identifier string. But the Google operating systems were specifically blocked…All I can tell you is there's a good percentage of the people at Google showing up [at Web pages] with their OS hidden…With the one-third obfuscated Google visitors, it was only the OS that was removed. Their browser, for example, was not hidden. And two-thirds of Google systems surfing the Web identified their OS, mostly Linux…So what's Google hiding?...some Silicon Valley watchers think they know: the long-rumored software-as-a-service-oriented Google OS…”

28. Google Native Client http://google-code-updates.blogspot.com/2008/12/native-client-technology-for-running.html “…At Google we're always trying to make the web a better platform. That's why we're working on Native Client, a technology that aims to give web developers access to the full power of the client's CPU while maintaining the browser neutrality, OS portability and safety that people expect from web applications…”

29. Gmail Finally Gets A To-Do List http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/12/08/gmail-finally-gets-a-to-do-list/ “…Google finally realized how helpful it would be to add a to-do list to Gmail. It is called “Tasks” and is now available in Gmail Labs (click on the beaker icon next to “Settings” on the upper right hand corner of Gmail). When you enable Tasks, it appears as a link in the left-hand column under Contacts. Click on the link and a box pops up in the lower right-hand corner like it does with Gtalk. You can add tasks, reorder them, cross out completed tasks, switch to a new list, or pop out the box to keep on your desktop…really useful for people who find that they keep Gmail open all the time. In general, I’m not a big user of to-do lists. Not because I don’t need them (I do), but because they require that I open a separate application or go to a dedicated Website like Remember The Milk…”

30. Magazines on Google Book Search http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/search-and-find-magazines-on-google.html “…announcing an initiative to help bring more magazine archives and current magazines online, partnering with publishers to begin digitizing millions of articles from titles as diverse as New York Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and Ebony. Are you a baseball history fanatic? Try a search for [hank aaron pursuing babe ruth's record] on Google Book Search. You'll find a link to a 1973 Ebony article about Hank Aaron, written as he closed in on Babe Ruth's original record for career home runs. You can read the article in full color and in its original context, just as you would in the printed magazine. Scroll back a few pages, for example, and you'll find a two-page spread on 1973's fall fashions. If you'd like to read further, you can click on "Browse all issues" to view issues from across the decades…”

31. Google's Open Handset Alliance gains Vodafone, 13 others http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-10119237-94.html “…In addition to Vodafone, new members of the alliance are AKM Semiconductor, ARM, ASUSTek Computer, Atheros Communications, Borqs, Ericsson, Garmin International, Huawei Technologies, Omron Software, Softbank Mobile, Sony Ericsson, Teleca, and Toshiba…now the group boasts 47 members. Nearly all the major handset makers have signed on, including HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung. U.S. wireless operators T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel are also members. Neither AT&T nor Verizon Wireless is an Open Handset Alliance member…”

32. Will Google replace your doctor? http://searchengineland.com/paging-dr-google-will-google-replace-your-doctor-15752.php “…Dilbert cartoon creator Scott Adams shared a different point of view, telling blog readers how Google helped him find treatment for a speech defect known as Spasmodic Dysphonia…Adams was using Google Alerts to get information about the condition. Google notified him of an “obscure medical publication” that wrote about Spasmodic Dysphonia. He took the information to his own doctor, was referred from there to other doctors, and eventually had successful surgery to fix the voice defect. “I never would have found that path without Google Alerts,” Adams writes…”

33. Google Slows N.C. Build, Foregoing State Grant http://tinyurl.com/6fuwjh (DatacenterKnowledge) “…Google has told…North Carolina that it won’t meet the job creation criteria for a $4.7 million state grant for its data center project in Lenoir, N.C….Google has told construction workers that “that there won’t be any more work on the site for a while.” The company has completed work on the first of two planned data centers in Lenoir, but thus far employs only about 50 workers at the site…Last month Google suspended construction on its planned data center in Pryor, Oklahoma. The company says it remains committed to the $600 million project, and that work will resume when the company needs additional data center capacity…Google spent $452 million on its infrastructure in the third quarter of 2008…well below the record $842 million Google spent on its data centers in the first quarter. Microsoft has announced that it will cut data center spending, saying it plans to reduce capital expenditures for 2008 by $300 million for the remainder of its fiscal year…”

General Technology

34. Electric vehicle plan endorsed by Hawaii http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/40430/113/ “…The Hawaiian Electric company and the State of Hawaii endorsed an effort to build an alternative transportation system based on the concept of electric vehicles with swappable batteries and a “smart” battery charging network on Tuesday…his network idea will be most appropriate for “island” economies, since their energy costs are typically higher…Hawaii is a small market, with high energy costs. Currently the state has 1.2 million cars and citizens are replacing between 70,000 and 120,000 vehicles each year. Typically, island drivers do not make trips over distances of more than 100 miles, which means that there won’t be as great a need for battery recharging stations…In the latter part of November, the mayors of San Francisco and other Bay Area cities endorsed the Better Place network…”

35. USC Holographic Videoconferencing System http://tinyurl.com/658enf “…Paul Debevec, a research associate professor at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies, has helped develop a holographic videoconferencing system just like the fictional one depicted in recent Star Wars films. He demonstrated the science-fiction inspired system — which uses off-the-shelf video projectors and a fast-spinning mirror to create the illusion of a 3-D image — at the Army Science Conference this week…”

36. The 10 big energy myths http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/nov/27/renewableenergy-energy “…Myth 1: solar power is too expensive to be of much use…Myth 2: wind power is too unreliable…Myth 3: marine energy is a dead-end…Myth 9: the most efficient power stations are big. Large, modern gas-fired power stations can turn about 60% of the energy in fuel into electricity. The rest is lost as waste heat. Even though 5-10% of the electricity will be lost in transmission to the user, efficiency has still been far better than small-scale local generation of power. This is changing fast. New types of tiny combined heat and power plants are able to turn about half the energy in fuel into electricity, almost matching the efficiency of huge generators. These are now small enough to be easily installed in ordinary homes. Not only will they generate electricity but the surplus heat can be used to heat the house, meaning that all the energy in gas is productively used…”

37. More than 16 cores may well be pointless http://tinyurl.com/5sd2ng (Ars technica) “…the "memory wall" problem…arises when the execution bandwidth (i.e., aggregate instructions per second, either per-thread or across multiple threads and programs) available in a single socket is constrained by the amount of memory bandwidth available to that socket. As execution bandwidth increases, either because clockspeeds get faster or because the die contains more cores, memory bandwidth has to increase in order to keep up…But memory bandwidth isn't keeping up…it's the reason that on-die cache sizes have ballooned in recent years. As the memory wall gets higher and higher, it takes more and more cache to get you over it…most modern server processors are really high-speed memories with some processor core stuck on the die, instead of vice versa…”

38. AMD's XGH: external GPUs may soon see the light of day http://tinyurl.com/5rfrfu (Ars technica) “…Mobile graphics chips are generally not suitable for high-end gaming or some professional work…AMD decided to solve the problem by putting the GPU outside the laptop in a breakout box…a standardized system that would make graphics cards as swappable for laptops as they are for desktops…AMD's solution was simple: they brought PCIe outside the case, pin for pin. Sunnyvale contracted with JAE for a connector which could handle PCIe bandwidth at low cost, while remaining small enough to fit on thin laptop cases…there should be no performance difference between XGP systems and the same GPU in a desktop graphics card implementation…Fujitsu Seimens has built an XGP-compatible breakout box containing a Radeon HD3870 mobile GPU and offering HDMI and DVI ports. This box, dubbed the AMILO Graphic Booster…which purports to allow desktop-style PC gaming, rendered either on the laptop's screen or an external monitor…”

39. Aluminum MacBooks unstable after 3rd-party RAM upgrade http://tinyurl.com/5ujtu6 (TUAW) “…purchased one of those shiny new unibody MacBooks? If you happen to be in the market for a RAM upgrade you may want to hold off for a little while…forums are reporting problems with third-party RAM upgrades, noting system instability and lock-ups. Even users who have purchased RAM from providers that pride themselves on Mac compatibility such as Crucial and OWC are seeing the same issues…Apple will only officially support their own branded RAM from Samsung; upgrade kits of this sort are apparently working without issue…acquiring these modules has become somewhat of an act of futility as Apple's online store says the upgrade kits are unavailable for owners of the 2.0 and 2.4 GHz MacBook. Many are guessing-slash-hoping that the problem is caused by the newness of the DD3 spec. modules…”

Leisure & Entertainment

40. Nintendo Thinking About Changing Accelerometer in Wiimote http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/12/nintenso-thinki.html “…At the heart of the success of the Wii is the accelerometer chip inside the Wiimote that detects motion in three dimensional space…Nintendo is looking into improving the efficiency and sensitivity of the control and is currently looking into chips from companies such as Kionix Inc, and Tronics…This is a separate issue from the recently announced Wii MotionPlus controller. The new add-on peripheral adds extra position sensitivity and horizontal rotation (with the help of a gyroscope) to the Wiimote…STMicroelectronics main contribution was the merging of a three-accelerometer panel design with an electronic circuit that, according to Vigna, could recognize 'the displacement of fewer than 10 electrons' and was good enough to detect sensitive motions from 'a flick of the wrist or a big movement of the arm' and could be built at a cheap price. A couple of years later, the $3 sensors were born and were placed in the Wiimotes…But even successful technology needs to improve to keep the pace. Future microelectromechanical chip systems are bound to get even smaller, more sensitive, and become even cheaper to build …”

41. Kindle: a great gift for Washington's Birthday? http://news.cnet.com/8301-13512_3-10114263-23.html “…As reported by the Wall Street Journal this week, Amazon is out of stock on its Kindle ebook reader…The larger message in the Journal article is that the Kindle's success proves that "e-book readers are for real," which is a conclusion I have mixed feelings about…sales of Kindle books are still trivial compared with sales of paper books, so what has really been proved? I think all we can really say today about ebooks is that they're good for some people. We don't really know how much demand there is for ebooks as they exist today because market awareness still isn't very high outside the usual "early adopter" community…However popular the Kindle is, it can never address the whole market as long as it's so closely associated with one bookseller. Without a single dominant platform, we'll never get a single commercial standard for ebook distribution. At the Baen Free Library, Project Gutenberg, and independent ebook sellers such as eBooks.com, customers face an excessive variety of format choices…The Kindle has the potential to become the de-facto standard ebook platform…It would also be good to see more competition among suppliers of ebook display technology. E Ink owns the whole market, and the company's progress to date has been fairly slow…The sooner we reach the point of sub-$100 readers, the sooner we can build a multi-million-customer market for ebooks, and the sooner we can start talking seriously about how "e-book readers are for real…”

42. Amid recession, developer finds hope in App Store http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-10116063-52.html “…Not long ago, during an evening of hanging out with friends, five of us sat in my living room, staring at and holding tight to our iPhones or iPod Touches. This wasn't the anti-social behavior you might think, though. Actually, we were having a great time, banging our fingers furiously on the touch screens of the five devices, trying to kill each other (and not be killed ourselves) in the utterly addictive multiplayer shooting game Maze Wars Revisited. The game, which tasks multiple players on a single Wi-Fi network with hunting each other down in a dense maze, was newly available that week on Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch…”

Economy and Technology

43. Why Twitter didn’t sell to Facebook http://gigaom.com/2008/12/03/why-twitter-didnt-sell-to-facebook-%E2%80%94-really/ “…Facebook offered $500 million of its stock…In October 2007, when Microsoft invested $240 million in Facebook, it valued the social network at $15 billion…different reports have emerged which point to a more somber valuation of $5 billion. Three percent of $5 billion actually works out to about $150 million. Given that Twitter was valued between $80 million and $120 million in its last round, the monetary incentive just wasn’t there to sell to Facebook…”

44. Microsoft’s BizSpark Program Reaches Thousands of Startups, Developers http://tinyurl.com/6afr5g (Xconomy) “…BizSpark, Microsoft’s new outreach program for startups…offers free software, development tools, and technical support to early-stage startups worldwide, with the goal of helping local software economies…BizSpark has signed up “network partners”—investors, venture firms, university incubators, and other organizations—who are connected with local startup communities and can help with outreach. “The fundamental principle is to make this available through the local software economy…BizSpark has about 800 network partners worldwide and sees between 100 and 200 startups a day…The National Venture Capital Association, the European Business Angel Network, and the TiE entrepreneur group are some of Microsoft’s bigger partners…”

Civilian Aerospace

45. Alan Stern and the nature of the space industry http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1264/1 “…Recognizing just how difficult it is to engineer stuff that not only defies gravity, but performs useful functions in doing so, is hard and seems to be getting harder. Neither Boeing nor Airbus has been able to build and deliver their new, more efficient and economical airliners on time or within budget. Neither firm suffered from political interference or lacked for capital, yet the A380 and the Boeing 787 were subject to the same problems that are hurting the MSL and other NASA programs…These repeated failures are so pervasive that they cannot easily be blamed on any one factor: not on government bureaucracy, not on a lack of funding, and not on political pressure. The fact that the SpaceX Falcon 1 took so long to achieve a successful first flight, and that the Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo has been repeatedly delayed, cannot be blamed on an old-fashioned “big aerospace” way of doing business or mentality. Perhaps the problem has to do with the nature of what the industry does…”

46. Spaceport Sheboygan Lunch, Dec 11 http://www.sheboyganpress.com/article/20081207/SHE04/812070408/1097 “…Coastal Connections, Young Professionals Network of Sheboygan County, invites members and guests to a "power lunch" at noon on Thursday, Dec. 11, at the site of Spaceport Sheboygan —the former Armory, 516 Broughton Drive. James Testwuide, chairman of the Great Lakes Aerospace Science & Education Center, will be the featured speaker. He will discuss the creation of the science and education center in Sheboygan…”

47. Secretive Space Vehicle Tested at Private Texas Site http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/081208-blue-origin-stern.html “…That secretive rocket work being bankrolled by billionaire Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com fame has shed some new light on its activities. Blue Origin is developing New Shepard, a rocket-propelled vehicle that takes off and lands vertically and is designed to routinely fly multiple astronauts into suborbital space at competitive prices…Blue Origin is now noting that, in addition to providing the public with opportunities to experience spaceflight, New Shepard will also provide frequent opportunities for researchers to fly experiments into space and a microgravity environment…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

48. NVIDIA Adds OpenCL to CUDA http://tinyurl.com/5wdn77 (MarketWatch) “…NVIDIA Corporation today announced its full support for the newly released OpenCL 1.0 specification from the Khronos Group. OpenCL (Open Computing Language) is a new compute API that allows developers to harness the massive parallel computing power of the GPU…”

49. Searching for the Personal Supercomputing Killer App http://tinyurl.com/586vcp (HPCwire) “…Don't take me wrong -- I love the idea of having a supercomputer under/on my desktop…but now that it's within reach…I'm trying to figure out what I -- as an average everyday guy -- would do with it…it seems like there's nothing that the supercomputer can't do when it comes to improving the efficiency of industry. But I'm having a difficult time envisioning how the personal supercomputer will translate into advances for the modern household….When I was at the SC08 conference this last month…I asked the question "What do you think you would do with a personal supercomputer?" I was mostly met with blank stares…”

50. Decoupling HPC from the datacenter http://www.hpcwire.com/blogs/Decoupling-HPC-From-the-Datacenter-35576624.html “…the other potential datacenter killer is the personal supercomputer (PSC), which can inhabit the desktop, deskside or office closet. The current generation of PSCs is largely based on GPUs, which can now provide multi-teraflop acceleration…”


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