2008/12/23

NEW NET Issues List for 23 Dec 2008

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 23 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. Five grand for Sock And Awe http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/2008/12/five_grand_for_sock_and_awe.html “…The week began with an Iraqi journalist throwing a pair of shoes at President George Bush. On Monday, a few people traded ideas on Twitter for what might be a good tabloid headline for the story - and came up with "Sock and Awe". By Tuesday one of those Twitterers - website designer Alex Tew, whose earlier ideas included the Million Dollar homepage - had come up with a game and posted it on a website, sockandawe.com. Now he has sold the site on eBay for £5,215. The buyer is a company called Fubra…Fubra have been quick to put adverts on the site, and are claiming they will have made their money back by tomorrow night. A spokeswoman…pointed out that another Fubra property, housepricecrash.co.uk, had continued to prosper - despite predictions that it would founder now that house prices have in fact crashed. (It must be a testament to Fubra's marketing skills that it manages to sell housing finance ads on a site devoted to the folly of investing in property)…”

2. Virgin Media rolls out superfast broadband http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081216/wr_nm/us_virginmedia_broadband “…Cable operator Virgin Media became the first Internet provider to roll out a mass-market super-fast broadband service in Britain on Monday, launching a 50 megabits per second offering…Virgin said the new service…cost 51 pounds ($76.73) per month on a standalone basis, or 35 pounds a month when taken with an 11 pound phone line…”

3. Hulu is Web site of the year http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/19/AR2008121901942.html “…Hulu officially launched March 12, a result of the unlikely collaboration between News Corp. and NBC Universal. Normally, such corporate fusion in new mediums doesn't pan out. The blogosphere was, to say the least, doubtful…"Boy, did we have to eat crow," recently wrote Michael Arrington of the influential blog Techcrunch.com. He added: "I was wrong. Hulu rocks…Hulu hosts more than 1,000 shows, from "Family Guy" to "Saturday Night Live." There are more than 130 content providers, not only NBC and Fox, but Sony Pictures Television, MGM Studios, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures and PBS. The site's database of full-length films also has grown…On average, a visitor watches 10 videos on Hulu in a month, which is good enough to chart Hulu sixth in videos viewed online. That only garners Hulu about 2 percent of the online video market, far below the leading Google sites…many believe Hulu is more appealing to advertisers than YouTube, and that Hulu's ad revenues could equal YouTube's by the end of 2009…”

4. Ping.fm Gets Backing from Reid Hoffman, Joi Ito http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/pingfm_gets_backing.php “…Ping.fm…lets users send a message through one interface (SMS, IM, web publishing tools) and then automatically cross posts it to more than 30 other social networking sites. It's a way to broadcast your messages into more networks than you could otherwise participate in…Ping.fm is just one of a number of companies trying to help users get their content out into multiple social networks automatically. They are all a little bit different. New entrant Tarpipe may offer the most sophisticated user controls and Pixelpipe stores high resolution copies of the photos and video it broadcasts in lower quality. There are a number of different services like this, but Ping.fm may be the most popular and now it's getting a big boost from Ito and Hoffman…”

5. Defeating Bedlam http://judson.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/defeating-bedlam/ “…the process of collecting and managing scientific information has been evolving…Attempting to replicate my old way of doing things, but on my computer — so, electronic versions of papers in electronic folders — didn’t work, I think because I couldn’t see what the papers actually were…Several pieces of software are now being developed to address this problem. I want to look at two of them here. The first is called Zotero; the second, Papers. Both are in version 1 and are still a bit buggy; but each has the potential, I think, to become a valuable tool for research…”

6. Report Reveals Twitter Is Mostly Hype http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebook_kicking_twitters_ass.php “…Marketing firm HubSpot will publish a report tomorrow on the state of Twitter at the end of 2008, based on user data the company harvested from its controversial app TwitterGrader. Though the report's methodology is not discussed, the numbers it includes are quite interesting…While the media has mentioned Facebook about 4X as many times as it has mentioned of Twitter in the last month - Facebook is not four times the size of Twitter. It is almost 30 times as big and growing much faster…They estimate that Twitter sees between five and ten thousand new accounts opened each day. That's a nice number, but it's far below, for example, Facebook's astonishing 600k daily registrations and 140 million active users. Twitter is a fascinating little phenomenon - Facebook is mainstream. …”

7. Revolabs Solo TableTop Wireless Microphone http://tinyurl.com/727259 (CrunchGear) “…The Revolabs Solo USB microphone is a wireless mic/speaker for use in a meeting room setting. It can connect to a computer via USB, or to an A/V system with audio in/out. It consists of a charging base that connects directly to the audio source and a removable mic/speaker component. It communicates wirelessly via a secure, 128-bit encrypted, signal and uses digital spread spectrum to reduce interference, including the buzz from nearby cell phones…I leant this unit to our Program Manager who leads daily meetings between our local teams and a development partner in Belarus. Normally, he would dial in the remote team using Skype on a MBP and rely on the built-in mic and speakers…consensus from the team on the other side of the world is that the sound was significantly clearer and crisper. The remote team felt like they were ‘live’ and ‘present’ in the room. The Solo could be left on the table as different people gave their status updates and the Solo picked up everyone clearly…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

8. AdAware Developer Launches Avira-Based Antivirus http://news.yahoo.com/s/zd/20081215/tc_zd/235020 “…Swedish security firm Lavasoft pioneered spyware protection with their venerable Ad-Aware utility. On Monday, the company released a new standalone antivirus program, Lavasoft Anti-Virus Helix, priced at $23.95. Based on technology from Avira, the product cleans up viruses and other malicious software and also includes real-time protection to prevent further infection…”

9. Eugene Kaspersky on Malware, the Internet's Future http://tinyurl.com/6yxa4a (PCWorld) “…malware writers are increasingly targeting newer devices like smartphones, which have a low security barrier. I feel that cyber-terrorism will increase as well, with countries infrastructure being targeted more…The Internet was never designed with security in mind. If I was God, and wanted to fix the Internet, I would start by ensuring that every user has a sort of internet passport: basically, a means of verifying identity, just like in the real world, with driver's licenses and passports…in about fifty years, the Internet will be a much more regulated, safer place. Just as society has evolved, so too shall the Internet evolve…in the near future, say in about ten years, I feel that we may see an increase in cyber-terrorism attacks. Governments right now don't see this as a critical problem, but I fear that there will be some sort of major attack that will change this perception. Also, I think we're going to see more devices such as smartphones, car computers, smart homes and the like come under attack from malware writers …”

10. Yahoo cuts personal data retention to 3 months http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7787846.stm “…Yahoo is to cut the time it stores personal data from 13 months to three…Google stores data for nine months and Microsoft for six months…This policy represents Yahoo's assessment of the minimum amount of time we need to retain data to respond to the needs of our business while deepening our trusted relationship with users," said Anne Toth, Yahoo's head of privacy…Only last year, firms were saying that they couldn't go below 15 months…”

11. Undersea Cables Cut; 14 Countries Lose Web http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/12/mediterranean-c.html “…Reports from the Mediterranean indicate that two of the undersea cables severed and repaired earlier this year have been cut again, disrupting internet access and phone service between the Middle East, Europe, and parts of Asia. An additional third cable is down in the same region. The cuts are causing traffic to be re-routed through the United States and elsewhere…the outage has almost completely killed internet services throughout Egypt…They carry an estimated 90 percent of all data traffic between Europe and the Middle East…A France Telecom report listed 14 countries affected by the current problem. The Maldives are 100 percent down, followed by India, which has 82 percent disruption. Qatar, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates were the next most widely affected areas with about 70 percent service interrupted…”

12. Browse safely using Internet Explorer or Firefox http://news.cnet.com/8301-13880_3-10126811-68.html “…The second of my three-part update of the 10-Step Security story I wrote three years ago shows that some tech advice stands the test of time. (A post earlier this week freshened up tips one, two, and three from that story, which focus on Windows updates and security features.)…In my next post, I'll revisit the last four tips in 10-Step Security, which deal with e-mail safety…”

13. After six years, Homeland Security still without 'cybercrisis' plan http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10127134-38.html “…When the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was created, it was supposed to find a way to respond to serious "cybercrises." "The department will gather and focus all our efforts to face the challenge of cyberterrorism," President Bush said when signing the legislation in November 2002. More than six years later, and after spending more than $400 million on cybersecurity, DHS still has not accomplished that stated goal. "We need to have a plan tailored for a cybercrisis," DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Thursday…”

14. Don't like speed cameras? Use them to punk your enemies http://tinyurl.com/7v6zke (Ars technica) “…Whenever a new, relatively unpopular technology hits the streets, you can always count on teenagers to try and exploit it…Such is the case with speed cameras, as high school students in Maryland have begun playing the "Speed Camera Pimping Game," wherein they attempt to punk the not-so-accurate cameras by creating faux license plates that can be traced back to peers and teachers…Students at Montgomery High School in Maryland have discovered that they can duplicate the license plates of their archenemies by printing a Maryland plate template on a sheet of glossy photo paper and digging up a handy license plate character font…these cameras are not sensitive enough to pick up the differences between these paper license plates and the real things. The students then tape the faux plate over their own and purposefully speed in order to be caught by the speed camera, causing the real owner of the license plate to receive a $40 citation in the mail…”

15. 1 Million+ Ways to Infect A PC http://garwarner.blogspot.com/2008/12/more-than-1-million-ways-to-infect-your.html “…scam takes advantage of the thousands of websites which have a "URL redirect" on them. A URL redirection program allows the website owner to "send you" to another website, while keeping track of where you went. They are often used in conjunction with an exit page that says something like "You are now leaving our site and being redirected to a new location. We aren't responsible for the content there." The problem is that many of those sites actually allow other people to use their URL to redirect traffic as well. That's what's happening here…CAUTION: THIS PORTION IS FOR PROFESSIONAL SECURITY FOLKS ONLY. IF YOU FOLLOW THESE LINKS YOU *WILL* INFECT YOURSELF! USE CAUTION!…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

16. Google reveals upcoming Android features http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-10127119-94.html “…Some of the changes coming to Android are bug fixes, affecting elements such as e-mail, conversation-list scrolling, and the alarm clock. Several new features are, however, also being added--for example, the ability to save MMS attachments…The WebKit browser core has been updated, and support for the new SquirrelFish JavaScript engine has been added. The browser will now support cutting and pasting, and will also include a find function. Android's camera functionality has received a major boost, with the addition of video capture…Virtual keyboards will also become possible, and third-party developers will be given the application programming interfaces to create their own input methods. A new API for speech recognition is also included…”

17. Assessing Android's potential in 2009 http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10127635-1.html “…2009 might be the year Android truly comes into its own. We've heard news that Sony Ericsson and HTC are planning new Android phones in time for summer next year; Chinese company Huawei is developing an Android smart phone; and Samsung has revealed plans for a "full touch screen" Android handset by next year as well…we weren't too thrilled with the odd placement of the keyboard and the lack of a standard headphone jack. So here's hoping future Android devices will resolve these issues, and perhaps add a little more flexibility--the ability to do data tethering would be nice…”

18. Foxit Enters eBook Reader Race http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2337304,00.asp “…Foxit Software, the developer of the lightweight PDF substitute for the Adobe Acrobat document format, has decided to offer an alternative to a hardware ebook reader as well. Foxit's eSlick is available for preorder, and will ship in five to seven weeks for $229.99 direct ($259.99 suggested retail price)…Foxit eSlick seems remarkably similar to its rivals. It uses the same screen technology developed by E Ink as the other two, displayed on a 600 x 800 display…eSlick also lacks the wireless capablities of the Kindle, substituting the dedicated wireless connection with a prosaic USB port. Internally, the device contains 128 Mbytes of RAM, with an SD card slot that supports up to 4-Gbyte cards. It does include an MP3 player…”

19. App Developer Strikes E-Book Deals With Major Publishers http://blog.wired.com/business/2008/12/app-developer-s.html “…ScrollMotion, a New York mobile app developer, has concluded deals with a number of major publishing houses, and is in talks with several others, to produce newly released and best-selling e-books as applications for the iPhone and iPod touch. Publishers now on board include Houghton Mifflin, Simon & Schuster, Random House, Hachette and Penguin Group USA…Each book is a separate application using Scroll Motion's new reader technology called Iceberg and is wrapped only in the FairPlay iTunes DRM, putting Apple directly into the e-book business by allowing them to pick up a certain percentage of each sale. “This is a business model that works on their business model,” said co-founder Josh Koppel…”

20. Project Gutenberg release Mobile Edition eBooks http://www.pg-news.org/20081221/pg-mobile-edition-ebooks/ “…using Amazon’s proprietary Kindle when you can use your mobile phone instead?...Java / MIDP 2.0 enabled cell phone is sufficient…PG Mobile is a software that transfers the plain text format provided by Project Gutenberg onto small handset screens - together with all the features known from physical books like turning pages, page numbers and bookmarks. Just download the PG Mobile version of any eBook and read it on your phone…”

Open Source

21. Open source programming languages for kids http://www.linux.com/feature/155203 “…The past couple of years have seen an explosion of open source programming languages and utilities that are geared toward children. Many of these efforts are based around the idea that, since the days of BASIC, programming environments have become far too complex for untrained minds to wrap themselves around. Some toolkits aim to create entirely new ways of envisioning and creating projects that appeal to younger minds, such as games and animations, while others aim to recreate the "basic"-ness of BASIC in a modern language and environment…Developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT, Scratch is a graphical programming environment implemented in Squeak that works in a very Lego-like fashion…Alice teaches programming fundamentals in the form of 3-D movies and games. Alice is developed in Java, and is somewhat like Scratch in that you build things in a drag and drop interface. Alice, developed by a group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, has releases for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows… based on the already user-friendly Ruby programming language, Shoes is an open source toolkit that's a bit more in line with traditional programming methods. All that's required to make a program in Shoes, besides its runtime environment, is a basic text editor…”

22. Barracuda offers a new -- and free -- alternative to Spamhaus http://www.linux.com/feature/155880 “…For many years Spamhaus has been top dog in the anti-spam world of DNSBL (Domain Name System Block List; also known as Realtime Blackhole Lists or RBLs). But Spamhaus is no longer a 100% free service. Even small nonprofits are now expected to pay at least $250 per year for a subscription to the Spamhaus DNSBL Datafeed Service. Now a new, free alternative to Spamhaus has arrived: the Barracuda Reputation Block List (BRBL), provided by well-known, open source-based Barracuda Networks. And Barracuda CEO Dean Drako says the company has no plans to charge for the service in the future…”

23. Ubuntu-sponsored FOSScamp builds community http://www.linux.com/feature/155866 “…The week-long Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) meets every six months at changing locations to discuss what will be in the next release of Ubuntu. The mostly unpublicized FOSScamp always meets the weekend before. The FOSScamp un-conference has no program, no invited speakers, and costs nothing. Like some sort of geek Woodstock but smaller, the Ubuntu hip just show up…”

SkyNet

24. What Gmail does better than its competitors http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10125647-2.html “…I've done my fair share of shuffling from one e-mail program to the next--trying to find the best service that not only offers speed and stability, but also reliability and spam control…Google's Gmail app is different. It's better than its competition on a number of levels and provides the kind of e-mail experience that's simply unrivaled online…Gmail blocks the most spam…Gmail's filter feature is the best in the business…there are ads on Gmail, but unlike the other services, they're not intrusive in any way…Gmail groups an entire e-mail conversation into one and forgoes the use of individual strands…”

25. New search-by-style options for Google Image Search http://tinyurl.com/4d4frw (GoogleBlog) “…Many of us use Google Image Search to find imagery of people, clip art for presentations, diagrams for reports, and of course symbols and patterns for artistic inspiration…searching for the perfect image can be challenging if the search results match the meaning of your query but aren't in a style that's useful to you. So some time ago we launched face search, which lets you limit your search results to only images containing faces…we also rolled out photo search, which limits results to images that contain photographic elements, ignoring many cartoons and drawings which may not be useful to you…we're pleased to extend this capability to clip art and line drawings…”

26. Japanese seek to scrap Google's Street View http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20081219/tc_afp/japanitinternetgooglejapan “…A group of Japanese journalists, professors and lawyers demanded Friday that the US Internet search giant Google scrap its "Street View" service in Japan, saying it violates people's privacy…The Google Japanese unit earlier said it was blurring the faces of people seen in Street View scenes by special technology and that it would delete the pictures of people and buildings upon request. Japan has stricter protections on privacy in public than in the United States, with Japanese able to stop their pictures from being used against their will…”

27. Street View: Home on the Web http://tech.yahoo.com/news/pcworld/20081218/tc_pcworld/homehomeontheweb “…Westcliffe is a small town in the Wet Mountain Valley, beneath the Sangre de Cristo Mountains…I made several summer trips to the area in the 1990s, when my parents had a cabin outside town…when I found out that Street View had dramatically increased its coverage of America's byways, I immediately looked for Westcliffe and then was instantly dismayed when I found it. It feels wrong, somehow, that this isolated little town is in the ever-growing grasp of Google -- documented, catalogued, and searchable…”

28. Jam of the Month Club: Google gives phones, not $, as holiday bonus http://www.crn.com/it-channel/212501865 “…Google is famous for treating employees to generous year-end bonuses, but this year the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant isn't adding an extra zero or two to staffers' holiday checks -- it's giving them dog food. No, not actual Kibbles n' Bits…Google apparently handed out G1 Dream handsets to about 85 percent of worldwide employees in lieu of cash bonuses, according to news reports…Some commenters on the site say Google's holiday bonuses have traditionally been only $1,000…Others speculate that the phone may be the Android Dev Phone 1, which is priced at $399, not $179. …”

General Technology

29. Hard Work and Practice in Programming http://radar.oreilly.com/2008/12/hard-work-and-practice-in-programming.html “…I was privileged to hear an inspired rant by Alan Kay about the unwillingness of people to work hard to learn new skills. I'm quoting from memory, so the lines below are not exact, and there's no way I can convey the wonderful sense of outrage expressed in Alan's voice, but I hope you can imagine it: If some entrepreneur introduced the bicycle today, no one would fund him. You have to actually learn how to use it! ...I saw a controller for Guitar Hero that costs a couple of hundred dollars. You can get a decent electric guitar for that price. But you'd have to actually learn something to play it!...it's important to remember how much we lose when we think that ease of use is everything. Many things worth doing are hard, requiring a great deal of practice before you achieve mastery…The interview with Stroustrup provoked a great discussion on the O'Reilly editors' backchannel. It was so juicy that I wanted to share it with all of you…”

30. Microsoft Extends XP Availability For Distributors http://www.crn.com/software/212501445 “…Microsoft system builder partners who've been feeling queasy about the impending Jan. 31, 2009, deadline for selling PCs with Windows XP pre-installed can now breathe a bit easier, as Microsoft is giving them a way to obtain XP licenses through distribution after the deadline…a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the existence of a flexible inventory program that will allow distributors to place their final orders for Windows XP OEM licenses by Jan. 31, 2009, and take delivery against those orders through May 30…It's yet another sign of the market's resistance to Windows Vista, and of the growing realization within the channel that many customers have decided to simply skip Vista and wait for the arrival of Windows 7…”

31. The Wide (and Weird) World of Two-Screen Laptops http://technologizer.com/2008/12/19/two-screen-laptops/ “…Lenovo’s upcoming ThinkPad W700 mobile workstations are loaded with high-end features, including an optional secondary 10.6-inch LCD display that sits to the side of the main 17-inch screen…Back in 2003 at PC World, we got in a Xentex Flip-Pad Voyager, a truly bizarre product that sported two screens, each of which could flip around independently–and it also had a keyboard that folded in half…Then there was the Estari dual-screen tablet PC…”

Leisure & Entertainment

32. 10 Best (and DRM-free) Online Music Stores http://tinyurl.com/57llqf (PCWorld) “…you don't have to wait for the big stores to join the DRM-free revolution. PC World editors have compiled a list of our ten favorite online music stores that offer huge selections of DRM-free music at reasonable prices. Even better, these songs are sold in formats compatible with iPods, Zunes, and most portable audio devices. Slacking on holiday gift shopping? Many of these stores offer gift certificates as well. Of these, my favorite site is Amie Street, because of its innovative pricing system and its ease of use…”

33. No more lawsuits: ISPs to work with RIAA, cut off P2P users http://tinyurl.com/3t8h8u (Ars technica) “…In a stunning turn of events, the US music industry has ceased its long-time litigation strategy of suing individual P2P file-swappers. Instead, with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo acting as a broker, the RIAA has signed voluntary "graduated response" agreements with major Internet service providers…what do ISPs get out of the deal?...congestion relief…colleges and universities no longer have to worry about "pre-litigation notices" and a stream of subpoenas seeking student info, dead grandmothers and kids in housing projects won't be hit up for $4,000 settlements, and an unbelievably brutal public relations disaster will basically come to an end…”

34. iPods Are Dying http://www.michaelrobertson.com/archive.php?minute_id=281 “…The iPod is dying off and in a few years it will be just a footnote in history. Hardware advances ensure mobile phones are destined to be the next generation MP3 player. There's one big obstacle holding back massive phone/MP3 migration and that is the difficulty of getting songs onto phones. A new mobile phone music search engine called Tuneroom will help remedy this shortcoming by making it easy to wirelessly load songs from the web to your phone…”

35. One ISP says RIAA must pay for piracy protection http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10127841-93.html “…Jerry Scroggin, owner-operator of Bayou Internet and Communications, wants the music and film industries to know that he's not a cop and he doesn't work for free…According to Scroggin, if RIAA representatives ask the help of his ISP, they had better bring their checkbook--and leave the legal threats at home…Scroggin said that he receives several notices each month with requests that he remove suspected file sharers from his network. Each time, he gets such a notice from an entertainment company, he sends the same reply. "I ask for their billing address," Scroggin said. "Usually, I never hear back…Small companies like his are innocent bystanders in the music industry's war on copyright infringement. Nonetheless, they are asked to help enforce copyright law free of charge. Many of them can't afford it, he said. Significant resources must be devoted to chasing down suspected file sharers and there's a real cost to that…They have the right to protect their songs or music or pictures," Scroggin said. "But they don't have the right to tell me I have to be the one protecting it. I don't want anyone doing anything illegal on my network, but we don't work for free…”

Economy and Technology

36. Tech Firms Seek $1 Billion For U.S. Car Battery Plant http://tinyurl.com/3ep2ro (InformationWeek) “…More than a dozen tech companies announced Thursday an alliance seeking more than $1 billion in federal funding to build a U.S. car battery plant that would compete with market-dominating Asian manufacturers…The Alliance said it needs between $1 billion and $2 billion over five years for research and to build a competitive manufacturing facility that would be shared by the consortium's members…The market for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for cars is too small to support the building of a plant by any one company, the group said. By working as a block, the tech companies with federal money would have the resources to narrow the lead of Asian manufacturers, which supply the majority of batteries used today in hybrid vehicles and electric cars. The battery industry in those countries receives government subsidies, according to the Alliance…”

37. Even Bigger Nightmare On Tech Street http://gigaom.com/2008/12/22/even-bigger-nightmare-on-tech-street/ “…The technology sector, already rocked by the credit crunch and slowing global economies, is facing a bleak 2009…“The problem is three times worse than everybody thinks,” said Terry Gou, chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., a large Taiwan-based contract manufacturer…Now here is a man who should know the actual extent of the troubles. His company’s customers include Apple, Nintendo and Hewlett Packard. Its subsidiary, Foxconn, makes handsets for Motorola and Nokia. Any slowdown in orders from his end customers affects his business. Closer to home in Silicon Valley, companies like Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Adobe are shutting down for the holidays to save money. In other words, the entire technology ecosystem is slowing down to a crawl. Chipmakers Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and United Microelectronics Corp. have slashed their revenue forecasts and are putting employees on unpaid leave…PCs and mobile handsets, the twin drivers of technology demand, have seen their sales slump. The impact is being felt by companies like Intel, Texas Instruments and National Semiconductor, all having indicated that their revenues are going to decline next year. Further down the food chain, even semiconductor equipment makers are cutting jobs and running for the proverbial hills…”

38. Palm shares rise after $100 M investment http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/12/22/technology/palm.php “…Shares of Palm, which makes the Treo and Centro cellphones, rose sharply on Monday after Elevation Partners agreed to pay $100 million to increase its stake…Elevation, whose managing directors include Bono, the U2 singer, and Roger McNamee, a private-equity investor, bought a 25 percent stake in Palm last year…Palm, which posted its sixth straight quarterly loss last week, is working on new operating software to compete with the BlackBerry, which is made by Research In Motion, and the iPhone…The investment will give Elevation a 39 percent stake in the company…”

39. Washington Is Killing Silicon Valley http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122990472028925207.html “…For more than 30 years the entrepreneurship-venture capital-IPO cycle centered in Silicon Valley has generated new wealth, commercialized innovation, and created new companies and industries. It's also spun off millions of new jobs. The great companies created by this process -- Intel, Apple, Google, eBay, Microsoft, Cisco, to name just a few -- have propelled most of the growth in the U.S. economy in the last two decades…From the beginning of this decade, the process of new company creation has been under assault by legislators and regulators…Congress, the SEC and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) have piled burdens onto the economy that put entrepreneurship at risk… Faced with crushing reporting costs if they go public, new companies are instead selling themselves to big, existing corporations…For all of this, we can first thank Sarbanes-Oxley. Cooked up in the wake of accounting scandals earlier this decade, it has essentially killed the creation of new public companies in America…and cost U.S. industry more than $200 billion by some estimates…FASB has fiddled with the accounting rules so much that, as one of America's most dynamic business executives, T.J. Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductor, recently blogged: "My financial statements are a mystery, even to me…FASB's biggest crime against the economy and the American people came when it decided to measure the impossible: options expensing…thereby drying up options as an incentive for people to take the risk of joining a young company and guaranteeing that the legendary millionaire secretaries would never be seen again. Not to be outdone, the SEC has…made sure that corporate directors would never again have financial privacy and would be personally culpable for malfeasance anywhere in the company. This has led to a mass exodus of talented people from boards of directors in places like Silicon Valley…”

Affordable Technology for SMBs

40. Drop.io gains more drag-and-drop, Firefox, Facebook features http://tinyurl.com/3mw8m8 “…Drop.io, a service that offers hosted file sharing, conference calling, fax receiving, blogging, collaboration, and media presentation features, has released a major new version of its Firefox add-on. The new features allow users to drag and drop virtually anything from their desktop or even other browser tabs, and Facebook Connect integration allows for immediate sharing with the user's social network. Drop.io's new Firefox add-on can be found at drop.io/firefox along with a video that demonstrates what it's capable of…”

41. GizmoCall tries to make cheap VoIP calls easy http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-10124311-94.html “…A new low-cost voice over Internet Protocol service…promises to provide cheap phone calls without requiring any software to be downloaded. The service, called GizmoCall, launched this week. Unlike Skype, which requires users to download a software client to use the service, GizmoCall is Flash-based, requiring nothing more than a browser. Users simply go to the Web site, sign up for a username and password, and start making calls…the allure of GizmoCall is that it provides free and low-cost calling…But what is cool about GizmoCall is that it also allows users to make free calls to toll-free numbers and Session Initiation Protocol addresses. SIP is used to enable telephone calls to be made over the Internet. Using a SIP address, which consists of a username and domain name, enables people to make and receive phone calls all over the world. Services like Net2Max provide SIP addresses and can even help people forward SIP calls to their Skype user accounts…adding money to my GizmoCall account so I could call regular phones was not so easy. I followed the instructions to add $10 to my account using my credit card. Two hours later, my account was still at zero, even though the service had accepted my credit card. I've had similar credit issues with other VoIP services. I was told by one VoIP company that there is a lot of fraud associated with these services, so everyone is very careful to verify orders. But as a legitimate user trying to use the service, it was just annoying…”

42. Keeping in touch without breaking the bank http://tinyurl.com/7bwjgb (Canada.com) “…New forms of communication -- in this case, Skype Internet calling service -- are allowing relatives all over the world to stay in touch cheaply…As economic stresses grow, families with members who live overseas or beyond provincial or national borders are increasingly reaching out via new media and technology, rather than over telephone lines. As of September, the Skype network boasted 338 million registered users…Through VOIP Discount, Vanden Dungen's boyfriend calls via his computer to her cellphone, and no one pays a cent for daily communication between Vancouver and his hometown of Stockholm. It's free to call a landline or cellphone using VOIP Discount from anywhere in North America to Europe, while Skype costs nothing only when a call or video-message is shared between Skype users…”

Civilian Aerospace

43. XCOR Aerospace Completes Successful First Test Fire http://tinyurl.com/9mmg6l (PRNewswire) “…XCOR Aerospace, Inc., announced today that it has successfully completed its first test fire of the rocket engine that will be used to power its Lynx suborbital launch vehicle to the edge of space. The new engine, designated the 5K18, produces between 2500-2900 lbf thrust by burning a mixture of liquid oxygen and kerosene…The first test of the engine was performed using pressure-fed propellants whereas the final version of the engine will be fed using XCOR's proprietary cryogenic piston pump for liquid oxygen and a similar piston pump for kerosene…"The propulsion system is not only the hardest part of the launcher to design and build, it also determines every other aspect of the vehicle," said XCOR CEO Jeff Greason…"XCOR's revolutionary rocket engines are the heart of our vehicle design," Nelson states. "They are a disruptive technology in the space launch industry because they make it possible to deliver payloads with much higher reliability, significantly shorter lead times and dramatically lower operating costs…”

44. GLXP team revealed http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/editors/22466/ “…entrepreneur Michael Joyce finally unveiled his team for the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a robotic race to the moon with a $30 million prize purse. Joyce registered for the competition back in November 2007 but has kept the details of his "Mystery Team" under wraps until now. A year (and some heavy recruiting) later, he has announced his team, dubbed Next Giant Leap. It includes MicroSat Systems, a small spacecraft company formed in 2001 that has mostly built satellites for defense programs; Draper Laboratory, an independent, nonprofit lab that builds guidance and navigation systems for spacecraft (it's currently working on such technology for NASA's Orion vehicle and the Ares Rockets); and MIT's department of aeronautics and astronautics, which includes former astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman and David Miller, head of MIT's Space Systems Laboratory…The Astrobotic team is lead by William Whittaker, the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) professor behind the driverless SUV that triumphed on a course of urban and suburban roads in the DARPA's Urban Challenge last year. Already, the CMU-based team has built a robotic spacecraft called Red Rover, and it's working with Raytheon and the University of Arizona with the aim of launching within the next two years…” http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/lunar-xprize-1217.html

45. New Teams Join $30 Million GXLP http://www.space.com/news/081216-googlexprize-newteams.html “…Two new international teams tossed their hats into the lunar ring Tuesday in a race to win a $30 million contest for landing a privately built spacecraft on the moon. Euroluna - a ragtag group of science fiction-loving European engineers - has put its stock in what team members billed as a "mobile phone on wheels" to win the international Google Lunar X Prize. "We've been dreaming about space, we've been dreaming for awhile," said Euroluna team leader Palle Haastrup, adding that his group consists mostly of friends and family in Denmark, Italy and Switzerland. "We've been working on this for more than a year now." The China-based team Selene, meanwhile, hopes its four-wheeled LuRoCa 1 rocket car will take home first prize…”

46. SpaceShipTwo's mothership maiden flight http://tinyurl.com/89t4mo (FlightGlobal) “…Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo mothership WhiteKnightTwo made its historic 59min maiden flight at about 08:16 local time on 21 December from Mojave air and spaceport, reaching a maximum altitude of 16,000ft (4,880m). The first test flight of the Scaled Composites designed twin-fuselage carrier aircraft with four Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308A engines follows taxi trials on the 20, 16 and 12 December…It reached an altitude 4,000ft above the original test plan's maximum altitude. That is how confident we are about the aircraft…There will be another flight early in the new year," says Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn…”

47. NM Spaceport America gets FAA approval http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28244166/ “…New Mexico's Spaceport America, the anticipated home base for Virgin Galactic's suborbital space tourism operation, has won its launch site license from the Federal Aviation Administration, state officials reported Monday. The FAA's go-ahead, which came along with the issuance of a final environmental impact study, brings the $198 million project closer to its construction phase, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority said…the authority's executive director, Steven Landeene, was quoted as saying. "We are on track to begin construction in the first quarter of 2009…The last requirement before construction can begin is a signed lease agreement with Virgin Galactic…Initial plans called for the spaceport to be built at a cost of $225 million…The current budget is set at $198 million, with an estimated $140 million of that coming from the state and the balance coming from local tax revenue…”

48. Company chosen to build spaceport http://www.lcsun-news.com/ci_11267410 “…Albuquerque-based Gerald Martin Construction Management has been chosen to oversee construction of Spaceport America, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority announced Thursday…Gerald Martin also built the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum and the under-construction Hilton Garden Park Hotel in Las Cruces…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

49. The fastest computers are going hybrid http://www.gcn.com/print/27_29/47729-1.html “…Judging by the recent SC08 conference in Austin, Texas, the future of supercomputer design seems to be heading toward using multiple types of processors in a single system. That approach is a significant change in the supercomputing field…In the past decade, systems that use commodity processors produced by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices have increasingly dominated the biannual Top500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers compiled by laboratories at the Energy Department and a group of universities…Recently, however, developers began augmenting commodity processor-based supercomputers with specialty processors, such as floatingpoint accelerators, field-programmable gate arrays, repurposed graphics processing units (GPUs) and even IBM’s Cell Broadband Engine (Cell/BE) processors, which were designed for video game consoles. For example, developers of the top computer on the most recent Top500 list — Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Roadrunner, a 1.1 petaflop IBM machine — augmented its AMD Opterons with IBM PowerXCell processors. And on the Green500 list, which is the Top500 reordered by power efficiency, the top seven computers all ran on IBM Cell/BE-based BladeCenter QS22 servers…”

50. NVIDIA CUDA & distributed computing http://www.nvidia.com/object/io_1229516081227.html “…CUDA technology makes it easy for scientists and researchers to optimize BOINC projects for NVIDIA GPUs and they are already using it for applications in molecular dynamics, protein structure prediction, climate and weather modeling, medical imaging, and many other areas.” BOINC is a unique approach to supercomputing in which multiple consumer computers are joined together over the Internet and their combined computing power is used to tackle very large computational tasks. BOINC provides the distributed computing grid layer for a wide variety of scientific projects that work to help cure diseases, study global warming, discover pulsars, and do many other types of scientific research on home PCs…”


*****

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