NEW NET Issues List for 06 Jan 2009

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 06 Jan 2009, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering -- the first for 2009. This week we're upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA\

The ‘net

1. JournalSpace: why you must keep your own backups http://tinyurl.com/76j2b3 (BlogHerald) “…for anyone who used JournalSpace for their blog the events of the last week were catastrophically significant. Three days ago, JournalSpace lost all of its data…That’s six years worth of blogs wiped out in one fell swoop. While every web and blog host (free or paid) will tell you that they have backup systems in place, rarely are they bulletproof. Deliberate attack, human error, hardware and software failures, and ISPs going out of business can all cause data to become corrupted and web sites to go offline – sometimes permanently. Bloggers have to take some responsibility for their own blogs. If your blogging software allows you to export or backup data to local storage, make sure you do it on a regular basis and then back that up with the rest of your home computer systems (you do backup those, right?)…”

2. UK housewives rule in online time http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7789494.stm “…A survey of more than 27,000 web users in 16 countries has shown that the Chinese spend the largest fraction of their leisure time online. However, UK housewives spend even more than China's average - 47%. Germans are the most likely to meet someone in real life that they first met online; more than three quarters have done so. The study also found that the UK is the least trusting of information in its newspapers among the 16 countries…The average respondent in China spends 44% of their leisure time online, nearly three times the amount of the average Danish respondent…”

3. 40 Unusual Websites you should Bookmark http://www.allticles.com/40-unusual-websites-you-should-bookmark/ “… beFunky - Awesome web app that turns images to cartoonized paintings and videos to cartoons…Numbr - Free disposable phone numbers. PDFHammer - Merge, edit and rearrange PDF documents online…CallTheFuture - Schedule text messages and get them delivered (as a voicemail) on any desired date in the future…”

4. Communication and collaboration - the big upgrade http://tinyurl.com/9xrcuz (Paul Buchheit) “…ants are kind of interesting because, more so than a lot of animals, the individuals are not really viable, and the hive (or colony or whatever) is kind of like a creature of its own…the ant colony is fairly sophisticated, but each ant's behavior is relatively simple -- they are just following some simple rules and don't really comprehend why or how the colony works...in many ways, the human society (or human superorganism) is kind of like the human brain -- the magic is in the connections. Significant advances have occurred when we upgraded the wiring that connects everyone…I can ramble on about ants and neurons and stuff, and people all of the world can read it, and digest it, and tell me I'm an idiot, and make their own ideas, and pass them on to other people, and it all happens in a matter of minutes. As much hype and excitement as there has been around the Internet, I think that people may still be misunderestimating its importance. We are literally upgrading the wiring that drives human society…”

5. Evite fails on the year’s biggest party night http://venturebeat.com/2008/12/31/evite-the-wrong-way-to-run-an-event-website/ “…No one cool uses Evite anymore. You know this. I know this. Auren Hoffman…an investor in competitor Socializr, wrote a column for us two years ago about why he hates Evite. But it’s still the biggest event website around. Well, we can add another item to Hoffman’s litany of complaints — Evite is down on New Year’s Eve. That’s right, it’s down on the biggest party night of the year…maybe it’s time to give in and use Facebook Events…”

6. 6 web technologies you need to use http://www.wired.com/software/webservices/news/2008/12/YE8_web?currentPage=all “…For this list, we've compiled the most truly life-altering nuggets of brilliance to hit center stage in 2008: the ideas, products and enhancements to the web experience so huge that they make us wonder how we got along without them. Nitpickers will notice that a couple of these technologies arrived two or three years ago. Others aren't even fully baked yet. But each innovation on our list reached a level of maturity, hit the point of critical mass, or stepped in to fill a burning need during 2008 that resulted in it significantly changing the landscape of the web…Identity Management, HTML 5, Lifestreaming, Firefox 3, Google Chrome, and Location Awareness…”

7. MeasuredUp Connects Businesses with Disgruntled Customers http://tinyurl.com/9uaqd8 (ReadWriteWeb) “…MeasuredUp is a review service that allows customers to share their positive and negative experiences about local or online businesses, but until now, these businesses did not really have a chance to reach out to these customers through the service and rectify potential customer service issues. Now, MeasuredUp has introduced a new featured, Direct Connect, which allows companies to claim their identity on the service and reach out to their customers. Given this new functionality, it seems fair to compare MeasuredUp to Get Satisfaction and UserVoice…”

8. Scribd had blowout year http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/12/31/scribd-had-a-blowout-year-and-so-did-the-web-document/ “…The biggest surprise for me in the social media rankings that I posted earlier today was the appearance of document sharing service Scribd in the top 20…Scribd is heads and shoulders above other document-sharing services such as Docstoc…Scribd users upload 50,000 documents every day. What this tells me more than anything is that the concept of document sharing on the Web has legs and there is a real demand for it…Desktop-bound document formats like PDFs, Word docs, Powerpoint slides, and spreadsheets are increasingly irrelevant if they cannot be viewed and shared online directly in a browser…”

9. IE share slides record amount in 2008 http://tinyurl.com/8mvx5e (ComputerWorld) “…Internet Explorer's market share plunged by a record-setting amount during December, Web metrics vendor Net Applications Inc. said today. Microsoft Corp.'s browser lost 1.6 percentage points of its market share last month, ending December with a 68.2% share…a 10.4% decline in its share since December 2007…Firefox, whose market share climbed above the 20% mark in November, increased its share…to finish the year with 21.3% of the browser market…Apple's Safari…increased its share by eight-tenths of a percentage point…to end the month with 7.9% of the browser market…Google's Chrome…boosted its market share, ending the month above 1%…”

10. 2009: Products I Can’t Live Without http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/01/04/2009-products-i-cant-live-without/ “…This is a list of the products I tend to use daily. Some are for work (Wordpress, Delicious, Zoho, etc.), some are for fun (MySpace Music, Hulu, etc), and some are useful for both (Digg, Skype, YouTube, etc.). But I use most of them every day, or nearly every day, and I would not be as productive or happy without all of them. The list changes a bit from year to year, and is also getting longer (see chart). Just three products have been favorites all four years: TechMeme, Skype, Wordpress…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

11. Oregon GPS mileage tax http://www.dhonline.com/articles/2008/12/28/news/local/1aaa02_road.txt “…A year ago, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced it had demonstrated that a new way to pay for roads — via a mileage tax and satellite technology — could work. Now Gov. Ted Kulongoski says he’d like the legislature to take the next step…The governor wants the task force “to partner with auto manufacturers to refine technology that would enable Oregonians to pay for the transportation system based on how many miles they drive…critics worried that the technology could be used to track where vehicles go, not just how far they travel, and that this information would somehow be stored by the government…James Whitty, the ODOT official in charge of the project, tried to assure the public that tracking people’s travels was not in the plans…”

12. Police set to step up hacking of home PCs http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article5439604.ece “…The Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across Britain routinely to hack into people’s personal computers without a warrant…The hacking is known as “remote searching”. It allows police or MI5 officers who may be hundreds of miles away to examine covertly the hard drive of someone’s PC at his home, office or hotel room. Material gathered in this way includes the content of all e-mails, web-browsing habits and instant messaging…The strategy will allow French, German and other EU forces to ask British officers to hack into someone’s UK computer and pass over any material gleaned. A remote search can be granted if a senior officer says he “believes” that it is “proportionate” and necessary to prevent or detect serious crime — defined as any offence attracting a jail sentence of more than three years…They point out that in contrast to the legal safeguards for searching a suspect’s home, police undertaking a remote search do not need to apply to a magistrates’ court for a warrant…”

13. New Comcast Throttling System 100% Online http://tinyurl.com/8kbu74 (DSLreports) In line with their traffic management website Comcast has confirmed to us they've installed their new broadband throttling system across all markets. The system, which we first profiled back in September, throttles a user's connection if a particular CMTS port is congested, and if that user has been identified as a primary reason why. This two-condition throttling system replaces Comcast's old, FCC-criticized system of using forged TCP packets to throttle upstream P2P services for all users, regardless of consumption…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

14. Android netbooks on their way http://venturebeat.com/2009/01/01/android-netbooks-on-their-way-likely-by-2010/ “…The image above shows a netbook Asus EEEPC 1000H running on Google’s mobile operating system Android. Huh? You thought Android was for mobile phones, right? Well, as we’ve written before, Google is planning to use Android for any device — not just the mobile phones…we discovered that Android already has two product “policies” in its code. Product policies are operating system directions aimed at specific uses. The two policies are for 1) phones and 2) mobile internet devices, or MID for short. MID is Intel’s name for ‘mobile internet devices,’ which include devices like the Asus netbook we got Android running on….Another indicator for a coming Android netbook is that Intel already had the right drivers for MID chips in place…”

15. My perfect travel companion http://www.usatoday.com/travel/columnist/grossman/2009-01-05-netbook-computers_N.htm “…The "companion" of which I speak is my new Acer Aspire One "netbook" computer. It has an 8.9" screen, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive, which easily holds all my software and data files, including my entire music and digital photo collections. It came with the Windows XP operating system and a six cell battery that provides five solid hours of work time – enough juice for a transcontinental flight. Best of all, it weighs less than three pounds, is only 10" wide, and 7.5" high and deep when open. That means I can still work comfortably in any airplane, even stuck in a middle seat when the passenger in front slams their seat all the way back…I have already consumed 105GB of hard drive space with over 200,000 files, yet my Acer boots up in less than a minute. Oh, and by the way this little computer is readily available for under $400…For years I've been resigned to carrying a considerably larger and heavier laptop which better fit my budget. With batteries typically lasting two hours or less, every time I purchased a new computer I had to invest in additional batteries to be able to work all day in a meeting room with no electrical outlets or to provide enough power for the duration of a cross-country flight…I review each new handheld computing device or personal digital assistant (PDA), but have always decided against buying one. The keyboards and screens are much too small for composing long documents or creating presentations…This is the first portable computer I've owned where I didn't have to purchase spare batteries, external wifi cards, or other accessories (except a slim little $15 neoprene sleeve that fits snuggly around the computer to protect it from bouncing around in my briefcase)…”

16. Freescale chip aims at 1GHz, $199 Netbook http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-10130690-92.html “…Freescale Semiconductor is expected to launch new silicon for Netbooks…The ARM chip architecture-based i.MX51 processor is designed to enable "low-power, gigahertz performance netbooks at sub-$200 price points…While Freescale, like Intel, believes the Netbook is a companion device to the PC, it envisions devices that are more frugal with power consumption and run the Linux operating system. Intel-based Netbooks using the Atom processor typically offer better performance than ARM-based devices and run the Windows XP operating system. "Because the primary function (of a Netbook) is accessing the Internet, Linux and Firefox are a good operating system and application for that purpose…He doesn't see ARM competing directly with Intel Atom processors, which target a higher-end Netbook segment…We don't believe ARM processor will replace x86, but will augment them for a certain segment of the market." Ideally, the Freescale chip would be used in Netbooks that get about eight hours of battery life and sport an 8.9-inch screen…”

Open Source

17. Creative Commons flourishing despite rough economy http://tinyurl.com/7yzl6b (Ars technica) “…Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2001 by legal scholar Lawrence Lessig to encourage copyright reform and provide a legally-sound licensing framework for works that could be freely redistributed. The licenses and file metadata scheme devised by Creative Commons are increasingly popular and have been adopted by a diverse group of artists and writers ranging from the music group Nine Inch Nails to science fiction novelist Charles Stross. In the years since it was founded, Creative Commons has expanded its focus to encompass similar efforts, including a Science Commons project and an open learning initiative. Lessig stepped down as CEO of the organization earlier this year when he announced plans to shift his focus towards broader political issues. He was replaced by Joi Ito, a Japanese entrepreneur who has close ties with silicon valley startups. Ito has previously served in various governance and advisory roles with the Mozilla Foundation, ICANN, and the Open Source Initiative…Ito's vision is is far-reaching; he contends that the Creative Commons licensing framework will soon become a "basic layer of interoperability" that will facilitate propagation of content and ideas. In that respect, he believes that the Creative Commons is analogous to the underlying communications protocol of the Internet…”

18. Build your own in era of DIY electronics http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/17987/ “…While most tech gadget companies carefully guard their products from hackers, start-up Bug Labs is courting them. The company has just released a series of modules, known as the BUG, that snap together like electronic Legos to form an array of different gadgets, from GPS locators to motion detection cameras…The company freely gives away the hardware design and software code for the product, and hosts an online forum where hackers can post programs they've developed for the BUG…The company is part of the heretical "open source hardware" movement. Instead of top-down innovation, these companies seek to harness the collective creativity of hundreds or thousands of consumers to create cutting-edge gadgets. The more consumers create with their BUG, the more valuable the product becomes for users…”

19. Android-powered G1 phone is an enticing platform for app developers http://www.linux.com/feature/156008 “…What about the Linux-based open source Android platform that runs underneath all of the consumer-level apps and features? The easiest way to get a feel for Android as a platform is to explore what developers are doing with it. The G1 includes an over-the-air application catalog and installer tied to the Android Market, through which you can browse hundreds of Android apps…So far, all of the apps in Android Market are free of charge…Then are the utilities you won't find anywhere else, such as terminal emulation, or a full-fledged IRC client. The app browser even has a category for software libraries, which includes text-to-speech and file format conversion…Maemo developer Henri Bergius succinctly described the difference between the Nokia N-series and iPhone experiences on his blog: Nokia's preloaded apps encourage you to create -- shoot video, share photos, blog, etc. -- while the Apple platform encourages you to consume -- buy music, buy games, buy apps. Thus far, the Android platform is encouraging users to develop. That could make all the difference.”


20. Has Chrome Pushed Google over the Evil Edge? http://tinyurl.com/966ktq (eWeek) “…the emergence of Chrome in September was a shock to the system for many people who thought they knew Google cold. Until Chrome, some people still believed that Google really, really still meant not to do evil…Browser makers can market other Web services in them, put extensions in them, cut deals with OEMs and other software makers, and tie them to search platforms. Browsers = control. Google + search + Chrome = the ultimate control…When Google launched Chrome, I was very surprised that they did it because for the longest time, they claimed that the browser didn't matter to them. This is a complete, 180 degree turn…To get an idea of contextual technologies Google might turn on in Chrome, read this excellent piece Iskold posted to ReadWriteWeb Dec. 22…Iskold and I agree that Google's creation of Chrome means the company has jumped the shark of innocence. Rail about the Google.org philanthropic unit all you want, but I think Chrome exposed Google for the power-hungry machine many of us knew it was. Chrome effectively put Google in Microsoft's league, just on the Web instead of the desktop. Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps Google became evil when it claimed more than 50 percent of the world's searches…”

21. Google’s Top Ten Products http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/12/31/googles-top-ten-products-more-or-less/ “…1. Google Search, 2. Google Maps, 3. Google Image Search, 4. Gmail, 5. Google Book Search, 6. Google News, 7. Google Video Search, 8. Picasa, 9. Google Earth, 10. Google Groups…”

22. Google Product Ideas http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_product_ideas_crowdsourcing_mobile.php “…Google is taking the opportunity to include its massive user base in the decision process with the release of Google Product Ideas, a new offering that allows users to - you guessed it - propose what they'd like to see Google build and vote on proposed ideas from others. According to the introductory post, Google Product Ideas is currently focused on mobile development: "At Google, we know we've got some really great users with some really great ideas, and we're excited to open up a new project called Product Ideas, a platform through which we're taking a new approach to feedback for Google mobile products…”

General Technology

23. 'Make' magazine tv series http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-10130544-52.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20 “…Make: Television will debut, a partnership between the magazine, Twin Cities Public Television, and American Public Television. All episodes will also be available for DRM-free download in HD, on YouTube, Vimeo, iTunes, and Blip.tv. "Make: is the DIY series for a new generation," a release about the new show began. "It celebrates 'makers'--the inventors, artists, geeks, and just plain everyday folks who mix new and old technology to create new-fangled marvels. The series encourages everyone to invent, revent, recycle, upcycle, and act up. Based on the popular Make magazine, each half-hour episode inspires millions to think, create and, well, make…Make is also behind Maker Faire, a two-day DIY festival that takes place each year in both San Mateo, Calif., and Austin, Texas…”

24. Books That Have Shaped How I Think http://tim.oreilly.com/articles/favebooks_0705.html “…Here are a few of the books that have played a large role in my life…Rasselas, by Samuel Johnson. Johnson…Johnson's work is a wonderful reminder that our minds have prodigious energy that must be focused on the right objects, and that much human pathology comes from having insufficient objects for our striving. In that regard, I always like to quote from Rilke's poem "The Man Watching," which I encountered in Robert Bly's collection of Rilke translations…"What we fight with is so small, and when we win, it makes us small. What we want is to be defeated, decisively, by successively greater things."…Colin Wilson's The Outsider is another book that addresses the same theme: the untapped power of the mind and its constant battle with the world, to make sense of it, or be broken by it…(For a wonderful story recapitulating Wilson's ideas, I also recommend his takeoff on H.P. Lovecraft, The Mind Parasites.)…An Introduction to Realistic Philosophy, by John Wild…It was reading this book during high school that convinced me that philosophy was meant to be used, a guide to a better life, not a dry subject rehearsing the thoughts of dead men…Rissa Kerguelen, by F.M. Busby. A science-fiction book I read at about the time I was starting my company, and that influenced me deeply. One key idea is the role of entrepreneurship as a "subversive force." In a world dominated by large companies, it is the smaller companies that keep freedom alive…Positioning, and The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Anyone who wants to start a business with impact needs to read these books…”

25. IBM finalizing free Symphony office suite for Macs http://tinyurl.com/9kxd6x (InfoWorld) “…IBM announced Tuesday that its free Lotus Symphony suite of personal productivity applications will come out of beta for the Apple Inc. hardware platform later this month. Symphony, which was introduced by IBM in September 2007, is already available for Windows and Linux PCs. Now it will compete for Macintosh business with Microsoft Corp.'s market-leading Office for Mac software as well as fellow upstarts such as Apple's own iWork suite and OpenOffice.org, with which Symphony shares a common technical heritage…”

Leisure & Entertainment

26. Memo to Jeff Bezos http://www.teleread.org/blog/2008/12/31/memo-to-jeff-bezos/ “…As 2008 comes to a close I find I’m less of a Kindle advocate than I was earlier in the year. My new iPhone is partially to blame…Amazon is uniquely positioned to run away with the e-reader market, but the Kindle appears to be hampered by a lack of strategy and vision…what I’m talking about are five key issues that have caused me to abandon plans for a Kindle 2.0 purchase in 2009 (or whenever it comes out)…I used to think Amazon could take their time and the Kindle could survive any number of missteps. The iPhone has changed the game though and Google’s Android as well as a host of other knock-offs will ensure we’ll never again be limited to just the apps/features that initially came on the phone. This can only hurt the Kindle’s overall appeal. I hope you and your team have something truly remarkable in the works for Kindle 2.0…”

27. Apple working on large-screen iPod Touch http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-10129913-37.html “…Apple is expected to release an iPod Touch device with a 7- to 9-inch screen in the fall of 2009…Jobs has also quickly shot down talk of an Apple-produced competitor to Amazon's Kindle, which has been interpreted as a sign Apple was doing just that…”

28. Spotify, An Alternative to Music Piracy http://torrentfreak.com/spotify-an-alternative-to-music-piracy-090102/ “…Spotify is a music service that gives users access to a huge library of music, through a lightweight application that looks like a mashup of the best parts of iTunes and Last.fm. Music is streamed, partly supported by P2P technology, but it plays instantly, like we’ve never seen before. One of the software engineers at Spotify is Ludvig Strigeus, the creator of uTorrent. It is therefore no surprise that the application uses very few resources, just 12k memory when we tested it…Spotify uses a hybrid p2p system where music is delivered both by our servers and using P2P,” Andres Sehr said. “This allows us to deliver the long tail of music which may not be very popular, as well as quickly serve up the latest hits that the majority of users listen to. P2P allows us to both increase the speed that we deliver music and also lower the cost of streaming it…”

29. How To Try Spotify Immediately, No Matter Where You Live http://tinyurl.com/9w232x (TechCrunch) “…New European streaming music service Spotify, which TechCrunch UK has been tracking since October, is getting increasingly good reviews…Sadly, it is only available in the UK, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Spain and France and you need an invitation to join…The user experience is beyond even the best web based streaming services like LaLa, MySpace Music and Imeem…There is no way to move music outside of the application, or onto music devices. But it is the best way to legally find and stream music for free that I’ve seen. I have no invitation and I live in the U.S., but I’ve been using Spotify all afternoon. There have previously been posts on getting into the service from a banned location once you have an invitation using a proxy server…”

30. Netflix streaming comes to LG HDTVs http://ces.cnet.com/8301-19167_1-10131049-100.html “…LG announced the first TVs with built-in Netflix streaming, due to arrive in the U.S. this spring. The models will go by the generic name "Broadband HDTVs," but we have a feeling they'll be known as "Netflix TVs" soon enough. The plasmas and LCDs are equipped with Ethernet jacks that allow them to stream movies and TV shows from Netflix, including HD content when available. Netflix currently offers online streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows, dubbed "Watch Instantly," to its customers who pay $8.99 per month and up. But you need to connect an external device, like the Roku Netflix player, an Xbox 360, a TiVo DVR, a specially equipped Blu-ray player like the Samsung BD-P2550 or LG BD300, or even a PC, to enjoy it on your TV. The LG TVs eliminate the need for an external device. They will cost around $300 more than similar LG models that lack the streaming capability--a pretty steep premium considering that you can get a Roku for $99 or an Xbox 360 for $199…”

31. DTV Coupon Program Out Of Money http://www.wcax.com/Global/story.asp?S=9621646&nav=4QcS “…national switch to all-digital TV happens next month, but the government's coupon program to help consumers just ran out of money…The government is offering coupons for $40 off the box, but the money just ran out. Congress may approve more funding for the coupon program but, for now, people who request a coupon will be put on a waiting list, and will get a coupon if one that's already been sent out expires before it's used…”

Economy and Technology

32. Microsoft getting ready to lay off 17% http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2008/12/rumors-of-upcoming-microsoft-cut-backs.html “…Bad news on the rise and with perhaps January 15th 2009 as an interesting day for Microsoft news…people are given impossible tasks like coding things not yet designed, automating things not get coded, documenting unfinished ideas (all subject to being cut next week too). On top of that they must account for their time by the hour…There are billions of dollars hardware purchased every year across this group without any planning and I can assure you that 50% of them are not even used or required at first place. Most of the hiring in this group is not for getting things done or being innovative in datacenter world but each manager here trying to build their own empire by just hiring whether they really need it or not…”

33. Bill Me Later Ousted from Amazon http://www.digitaltransactions.net/newsstory.cfm?newsid=2036 “…Amazon.com Inc. disclosed this week that it would no longer accept Bill Me Later Inc., the fast-growing online credit system…Many observers had expected Amazon to stop accepting Bill Me Later when online auction leader and retailer portal eBay announced in October that it would buy Bill Me Later for $945 million…Amazon waited until Dec. 30, after the holiday shopping season, to post a notice on its Web site saying that starting Dec. 31 it would not accept Bill Me Later…An active experimenter in payment alternatives, Amazon had been a minority investor in Bill Me Later, with a stake believed to be 10% or under, and had only started accepting the credit system last summer…consumers’ usage of credit for online purchases is declining in favor of debit and other payment alternatives. “It is fascinating to me that credit card usage is going down … yet Bill Me Later is like a form of super-credit,” he says. Rather than granting the borrower a line of credit with a limit and then approving transactions based mostly on how much the borrower has open on that line, as does a credit card issuer, Bill Me Later uses a proprietary “transactional” credit system in which the borrower’s risk is assessed with each purchase…more than 4 million consumers have used it, charging an estimated $1 billion this year…”

Civilian Aerospace

34. Armadillo: valve movement and Tesla http://www.armadilloaerospace.com/n.x/Armadillo/Home/News?news_id=364 “…We are pretty sure we know what caused the valve movement problem that downed Pixel at the LLC. Our systems run the propellant valves through a set of relays controlled by a watchdog microcontroller, which drives the valves closed if the main computer doesn't continuously toggle a keep-alive signal bit. We found that with the valves on the bench, we could get interruptions to the current when we tapped on the relays in the electronics box. We believe that acoustic vibrations from the operating rocket engine could cause the contacts on the relay to intermittently lose contact…It wasn't a problem for the Rocket Racer, because the electronics box was isolated farther away in the cockpit…We have had a fairly miserable time with the methane engine work we are doing for NASA. The basic idea was to adapt our alcohol engine for methane, adjusting the element sizes to get the mixture ratio correct. Bottom line -- it didn't work…We are planning on starting higher altitude flights at our home base in February, as soon as the brand new amateur rocket regulations go into effect. We should be able to fly to 8000’ altitude right behind our shop…Paying customer work for the Rocket Racing League and NASA take priority over this work right now, but we should be ready for a three minute hover test fairly soon…I used to be known for my crazy turbocharged Ferraris, and I have a lot of great car stories to tell from those days, but Armadillo wound up getting me out of the supercar world by taking over all of my discretionary spending and eventually making me fairly frugal and money conscious…my twin-turbo Testarossa had pulled 1010 hp at the rear wheels on a dyno. This is a level of performance that has basically ruined the experience of most high performance cars for me…For years, my drive to the Id Software office afforded me an almost daily opportunity to run out fourth gear on the service road…After we moved to a new location, the route just wasn't there anymore, and I would find that weeks had passed without the throttle ever going to the floor…Responsiveness is what I wanted from the Tesla, and it delivers. There is only a single forward gear, so there is no shifting or being in the wrong gear…Your right foot really is an "accelerator" rather than a "throttle", and it honestly does transform the driving experience. Coupled with excellent traction control, there is very little reason not to floor it every time you come away from a stop, getting smoothly pulled forward like you are on an enormous rubber band. As Robert Duffy put it, "You are driving a railgun…”

35. Virgin Galactic signs 20-year spaceport lease http://www.space.com/news/081231-space-tourism.html “…Virgin Galactic, and the State of New Mexico announced today that they have signed a 20-year lease agreement – a deal worth an estimated $150 million to $250 million which firmly plants the spaceline operator's world headquarters in New Mexico to make use of Spaceport America. The inland Spaceport America is billed as the nation's first purposely built commercial spaceport…Construction is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2009 with the terminal and hangar facility scheduled for completion in 2010. Road construction to Spaceport America is already underway. The site of New Mexico's Spaceport America is 30 miles (48 km) east of Truth or Consequences and 45 miles (72.4 km) north of Las Cruces…”

36. Future of commercial spaceflight uncertain http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/081231-tw-newspace-2009.html “…one big issue looms for…next year, said Jeff Foust, an aerospace analyst, journalist and publisher, as well as editor and publisher of the respected website, The Space Review. And that topic of trepidation is the state of the economy. "This is going to affect companies in the industry in two ways. One, it's going to make it that much more difficult for companies to raise the money needed to develop their vehicles," Foust told SPACE.com. "It won't directly affect companies that are already self-funded or otherwise fully-funded - like Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Armadillo Aerospace, Bigelow Aerospace, etc. - but those companies trying to raise tens of millions of dollars or more to carry out their business plans will find that steep path to funding has become even steeper…another impact tied to the rocky economy - a potential reduction in customer demand, particularly in space tourism. A whiplash from the continuation of a deep recession in 2009, he said, may well be people reconsidering tossing out $95,000 to $200,000 or more for suborbital jaunts, or putting the trip off a few years…”

37. Tempe team wins Aerospace Challenge http://tinyurl.com/8qujuv (AZCentral) “…A team of five students from the Tempe Tri-City Christian Academy won the 10th annual Honeywell Fiesta Bowl Aerospace Challenge at the Challenger Space Center in Peoria…they will travel for free to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Students from six Valley school presented their models for next-generation space stations to a panel of Honeywell engineers and NASA astronauts who in turn asked questions about the designs. The questions ranged from how to properly sustain power to the space station to the specifics of who would be living and working there…”

38. NASA unveils robotics competition Saturday http://blog.al.com/breaking/2008/12/nasa_unveils_robotics_competit.html “…NASA will unveil details Saturday about a robotics competition that generally pulls in more than 1,000 Huntsville area students…the annual For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, Robotics…will reveal the competition scenario for 2009, according to NASA, launching a six-week design and building frenzy for thousands of students in 1,687 international student teams. NASA wants students to learn how to build robots for future space exploration…The event also will be streamed live at NASA Robotics Alliance Project Web site at http://robotics.nasa.gov. Each year, FIRST presents a new robotics competition scenario with twists and nuances to challenge the teams. Each team receives an identical kit of parts and has six weeks to design and build a robot based on the team's interpretation of the game scenario…”

39. Space Adventures: private space walk at $45-55 mln http://en.rian.ru/world/20081231/119293573.html “…Today, for the first time, Space Adventures offers spaceflight participants the unique opportunity to walk in space" at $45-55 million a go…The price of a "ticket" on a 10-day scheduled mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has risen from $30 million to $35-45 million…”

40. Obama wants Pentagon and NASA to play nice for moon race http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/40796/113/ “…Under Obama's vision, NASA and The Pentagon will join forces, sharing expenses, to foster our return to the moon by the year 2020, a date competing with China's effort. In 1958, President Eisenhower signed into law the civilian agency mandate for NASA. Following that law, several previous military efforts were handed over to NASA for continued research and development. These included the well known Saturn I heavy lift project in November, 1959; the transfer of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency's responsibilities to NASA in December, 1959; the transfer of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and all of its research to NASA in December, 1959…All of these were military programs transferred to NASA's control. Now, some 50 years later, the Obama administration cites concern over maintaining our lead in space against China as the driving impetus behind a future NASA sharing R&D expenses with the Pentagon, and potentially cancelling existing projects, such as the Ares I rocket, in favor of military alternatives…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

41. PlayStation supercomputer http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2008/dec/31/playstation-cluster-internet-security “…security researchers have used a supercomputer made of 200 PlayStation 3s to crack the keys of a fundamental internet security safeguard. It only took three days and some 'new math', says David Molnar, a computer science PhD candidate at UC Berkeley…The security researchers used their supercomputer to crack the MD5 hash and set themselves as a rogue security certification provider…”

42. Supercomputer arrives in Butte http://www.montanasnewsstation.com/Global/story.asp?S=9597743 “…The arrival of Montana's first supercomputer is a transformative event that is expected to trigger groundbreaking research, promote business growth and bring more jobs to Butte…It's very standard like everything else down there, but at the same time it's a high performance computer that's going to get connected as we get going through the networks and being able to push good business out of Butte and into the rest of the markets throughout the world. I think it's a pretty exciting time," said Jim Kambich, MERDI president and CEO…The new computer will help create 137 high quality P-D level jobs across southwest Montana over three years and 250 jobs statewide, according to an official with the governor's office. "That's why it's really big to land it here and outside of an academia situation so it's more accessible to businesses…”



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