2009/01/27

NEW NET Issues List for 27 Jan 2009

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 27 Jan 2009, 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. iNum - A Worldwide Phone Number http://voip.about.com/od/servicesandsolutions/p/iNumProfile.htm “…iNum provides users with phone numbers with the +883 global country code, a code that has been created lately by the ITU. One can use a +883 number as a virtual number and be contacted through his phone and other communication device anywhere he/she is in the world, without having to worry about area codes and rates associated therewith…How To Obtain An iNum Number?...there are a handful of partners that are already providing the numbers. Examples are Gizmo5, Jajah, Mobivox, and Truphone. The numbers can be obtained from these partners for free…”

2. Throw Out Your Phone: Skype on steroids http://www.inc.com/magazine/20090101/work-play.html “…you have a cell phone, a work phone, a home phone, a couple of e-mail accounts, and maybe an instant-messaging program. With free software from VoxOx, you can keep them all in one place. Import contacts from all of your e-mail and IM accounts. Then, e-mail, IM, text, or call anyone you know, all through VoxOx. VoxOx is similar to Skype…But VoxOx is far more robust…there is one drawback: VoxOx gives users only two free hours of calls. Then, you can either pay a fee or get more free calls by watching ads. The software is still in beta, and it has some kinks…”

3. Skype’s Growth Starts to Slow http://gigaom.com/2009/01/21/skype-shows-signs-of-slowing-growth/ “…The big question now is: How long can Skype continue to grow…Even though it sold an additional 400 million more minutes, it was able to get a mere $2 million in additional sales, which is a ridiculously tiny amount…In 2007, Skype logged 20.65 Skypeout minutes per user, roughly flat with 2008…Skype grows because of its viral nature. Most people try and get their friends to download Skype so they can make free calls, a behavior unlikely to change. And once you have all your pals on the network, you don’t really need to use SkypeOut as much…”

4. eBay selling Skype? http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/technology/article5587116.ece “…When asked what was being done by eBay to add shareholder value in Skype, Mr Donahue admitted that “the synergies between Skype and the other parts of our portfolio are minimal. We're going to continue to run and operate the business. It's not a distraction currently. And at such time when we have further announcements on that, we'll let you know.”…If someone's willing to pay the right price, I don't think [eBay] would have a problem selling it…potential buyers for Skype might include Google, as it would fit well with the search engine's similar Google Talk feature, as well as American telecoms companies such as AT&T or Verizon, both of which have strong businesses in landlines and mobile telephone networks…It would be best for eBay to get whatever cash they could for it and focus on their struggling core marketplace business…”

5. Microsoft Releases Internet Explorer 8 RC1 http://tinyurl.com/at6hus (ReadWriteWeb) “…release candidate of Internet Explorer 8…feels a lot like IE7…IE8 has also taken a page from Chrome's playbook and now opens a separate process for every tab…it is noteworthy that today's RC1 won't install on Windows 7…In terms of speed, Microsoft decided not to follow the lead of the other major browsers, which are mostly focusing their energies on building faster JavaScript rendering engines. Instead, Microsoft's browser team argues that JavaScript is only responsible for 20% of the page load time on the 25 most popular sites online. So instead of speeding up the JavaScript engine, Microsoft optimized IE8 for these 25 popular pages…”

6. Open Courseware Projects: Ivy League and Beyond http://tinyurl.com/d4ezw7 (BestCollegeRankings) “…“Flat education,” or education provided for the masses via the Internet has become commonplace over the past few years, and open courseware projects abound on the Web. The following list of 100 open courseware projects are designed to offer readers access to supplementary materials for education…The downside to these courseware projects is that you cannot earn credits; however, a few colleges do offer tuition-paying students a chance to earn credits by completing some projects online …”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

7. Cleaning Conficker http://tinyurl.com/bnslt8 (eWeek) “…With infections from the Conficker worm still spreading, the good news is that there are ways to guard against it and clean your machine if you are infected…apply the Microsoft patch and ensure your antivirus protection is up-to-date…Beyond the obvious, however, there are several things users can do…security experts are still speculating what the end-game is for the hackers behind the worm…We think this is a wide-scale distraction to hide data breaches…This is an attack we have not seen in some time and is certainly a warning sign for something more to come…”

8. Obama to Defend Telco Spy Immunity http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/01/obama-to-fight.html “…The incoming Obama administration will vigorously defend congressional legislation immunizing U.S. telecommunication companies from lawsuits about their participation in the Bush administration's domestic spy program….The EFF is also accusing the nation's telecoms of funneling Americans' electronic communications to the Bush administration without warrants in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks…The August 2007 Protect America Act expired six months after its passage and was revived as part of the immunity legislation Holder addressed Thursday…The immunity legislation at issue was crafted after Walker had refused to dismiss the lawsuit EFF brought in 2006 against AT&T, accusing the telco of violating its customers' civil liberties…”

9. Major Canadian ISPs Slow Down P2P http://torrentfreak.com/all-major-canadian-isps-slow-down-p2p-traffic-090120/ “…a CRTC investigation reveals that most of the ISPs in Canada actively slow down customers using P2P applications…On Bell Wireline, P2P traffic is slowed down between 4.30 PM and 2 AM. To cope with the increasing bandwidth demands of its customers, they further plan to disconnect heavy users and introduce metered plans where customers pay for the bandwidth they use…Rogers is also known to use DPI. Upstream P2P traffic is slowed down across their entire network, regardless of congestion..there is no such thing as net neutrality in Canada. All of the larger ISPs slow down their customers, with most of them specifically targeting P2P traffic through deep packet inspection…several legitimate businesses whose income depends on delivering content through BitTorrent or other filesharing networks are unable to compete with those who don’t…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

10. The Location-Aware Lifestyle http://www.wired.com/gadgets/wireless/magazine/17-02/lp_guineapig?currentPage=all “…I'm no newbie. I built my first Web page in 1994, wrote my first blog entry in 1999…But WhosHere had me stumped. It's an iPhone app that knows where you are, shows you other users nearby, and lets you chat with them. Once it was installed and running, I drew a blank. What was I going to do with this thing?...millions of people are now walking around with a gizmo in their pocket that not only knows where they are but also plugs into the Internet to share that info, merge it with online databases, and find out what—and who—is in the immediate vicinity…I became a geo-guinea pig…whenever I arrived at a new place, I would announce it through multiple social geoapps…I would let digital applications help me decide where to work, play, and eat. And I would seek out new people based on nothing but their proximity to me at any given moment…To test whether I was being paranoid, I ran a little experiment. On a sunny Saturday, I spotted a woman in Golden Gate Park taking a photo with a 3G iPhone…I searched the Flickr map, and score—a shot from today. I clicked through to the user's photostream and determined it was the woman I had seen earlier. After adjusting the settings so that only her shots appeared on the map, I saw a cluster of images in one location. Clicking on them revealed photos of an apartment interior—a bedroom, a kitchen, a filthy living room. Now I know where she lives…I used to stop newspaper delivery so people wouldn't realize I was out of town. Now I've told everyone on Dopplr that I'm going to DC for five days…A few days later I had another disturbing realization. It's a Tuesday and I'm blowing off a work meeting in favor of a bike ride through Golden Gate Park…Suddenly it hits me…I would be just a Google search ("Mat Honan Tuesday noon") away from getting busted…I can't afford to have the Internet ratting me out like that…Not only does Fire Eagle save you from having to update the same information on multiple programs, it also lets you specify the level of detail to give each app—precise location, general neighborhood, or just the city you're in…these options will mitigate privacy concerns…You have to have the ability to lie about your location…Any good social geoapp will let you type in a fake position manually, Coates says. Great news; I didn't need to get busted for missing meetings—or deadlines—ever again…it looked like I was going to have to endure a lonely burrito lunch by myself. So I updated my location and asked for company. My friend Mike saw my post on Twitter and dropped by on his way to the office. Later, I met up with a couple of people I had previously known only online: After learning I would be just around the corner from their office, we agreed to get together for coffee. One of them, it turns out, works in a field I cover and gave me a tip on a story…iPhone location apps can't send out constant updates. This means that people are often showing up where you were, rather than where you are…One way around such snafus is to use the Google phone, T-Mobile's G1. Unlike the iPhone, the G1 lets programs run in the background, so you can launch location-aware apps and keep them humming while you do other things…”

11. Stanford Students Release A Cool Batch Of iPhone Apps http://tinyurl.com/bc3fql (TechCrunch) “…Students from Stanford’s Fall 1008 iPhone class CS193P created a nice crop of apps…My favorite is iDiscover, which gives you random content you think will be interesting (text, videos, apps)… iDiscover is free. Air Guitar, a $1.99 app, looks like it might be another winner…”

12. Apple's A-bomb against Palm: 358 page iPhone patent http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/41207/128/ “…Palm's new smartphone (dubbed Pre) has clearly sent shivers down Apple's spine; partly because several key engineers with a deep knowledge of Apple's secrets switched over to Palm, but mainly because Pre is the first iPhone rival to use multi-fingered gestures like pinch zoom…make no mistake - too much is at stake here: Both Palm's very survival and iPhone's fate…"Boy, have we patented it!", said Steve Jobs during the world's first iPhone presentation in January 2007. Two years and several would-be iPhone killers later and the mobile industry still lacks a cellphone that would employ multi-fingered gestures like pinch zoom that made the iPhone famous. It's not that iPhone rivals lack technical expertise to engineer multi-touch-capable smartphone. On the contrary, it is sheer fear of lawsuits by one of the world's most powerful consumer electronics giant that is keeping multi-touch as an exclusive realm of the iPhone…Apple was awarded last week a mammoth 358 page patent that covers all aspects of the iPhone's user interface…Origins of multi-touch date back to 1982 when the first touch screen was engineered at the University of Toronto that could register more than one touch at a time…The technology went unnoticed until 1991 when Pierre Wellner published a paper about so-called digital desk that envision multi-fingered gestures, including pinching motions…Wayne Westerman and John Elias…started experimenting with possible uses through their Newark-based startup, Fingerworks…Their work caught attention of Apple who was at the time researching early iPhone ideas so the company acquired Fingerworks in 2005…"the mother of all iPhone patents"…outlines iPhone's features and UI in excruciating detail, including the software and how gestures like finger swipe or pinch zoom are detected. The patent also provides a sneak peek at next-gen iPhones by listing several features not included with current-gen iPhones, like applications for blogging, instant messaging, digital video capturing, video conferencing, MMS, etc…”

Open Source

13. 72 Programs For A Freeware Only PC http://www.freewaremission.com/2008/12/72-programs-for-a-freeware-only-pc/ “…I’ve been using only freeware and open source programs in my Windows Xp powered PC since july, and I can tell you that it really works. I had 51 freeware programs, now I have 72…”

14. Windows kicks Linux to the curb http://blogs.zdnet.com/storage/?p=379 “…Last July Linux had a huge opportunity to beat Windows in the red-hot netbook market…But faster than I’d expected Microsoft has kicked Linux to the curb, claiming an 80% attach rate for netbooks. Windows 7 is the final nail in the desktop Linux market’s coffin. Unless Microsoft gets stupid on pricing, it is game over for Linux netbook market share…Ballmer’s layoffs mean this is no one-time blip. Linux has changed the competitive landscape in a way Apple never could - after all Mac OS costs twice as much as Windows…Windows 7 will run fine on netbooks - a smart move. But how to price it? Linux is free, and as Moore’s Law drives down netbook prices, any difference will become more obvious. For the several billion people in the developing world, even $20 for Windows 7 may be too much…”

15. Linux dead at hands of Windows 7? Horse puckey! http://education.zdnet.com/?p=2054 “…utility computing is going to become…a lot more important than the latest features from Microsoft, Canonical, or Apple. Can it get us online, get us into the cloud, and play our multimedia files? If somebody wrote a post telling me that the desktop OS was dead at the hands of Google, I’d say not yet, but maybe sooner than we think. But to say that Windows 7, just because it can run faster than Vista on a netbook, has effectively killed desktop Linux just doesn’t make sense.…”

SkyNet

16. 5 Reasons to Worry About Google http://tinyurl.com/8jjnqp (MotleyFool) “…Unfortunately for Google, there are several signs of mortality as we head into this week's telltale report. If you haven't noticed the cracks, you're not paying attention. "Search-engine marketing" is just fancy talk for "advertising"...It's a small, small world…The incredible shrinking guesstimates…Something's missing…I have no problem with Google as a long-term winner. It's likely to remain the online market leader, and the company's influence in other forms of advertising is already being felt and will be even more pronounced in the future. However…even the once-invincible Google is cutting off projects and laying off workers…”

17. Google keeps its one-trick pony healthy http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10148497-93.html “…Google…reported…two non-cash charges writing down the value of investments in AOL and Clearwire by $726 million and $355 million, respectively. Factoring that and some other charges out, the company had net income of $1.62 billion, well over analyst expectations, with revenue excluding commissions rising 4.5 percent to $4.22 billion.Wasn't there supposed to be a recession happening or something? How did Google do well, if not actually knock the ball out of the park?...people performed more Google searches. Second, when they did, Google showed the search ads more often…Google has been turning up the volume knob on what calls universal search, the blending of video, book excerpts, images, news, blog postings, and other material besides Web sites into search results. "We tripled the number of queries that triggered different kinds of results…still betting heavily on online services such as Google Apps, its online competitor to Microsoft Office, and on Android, its mobile-phone operating system…85 percent of Google employees have at least some underwater stock options…Google offered an exchange program that lets employees exchange their worthless stock options for ones based on Google's current price--a move that Google expects to pay $490 million to fund over the course of the program…”

18. Welcome You Fine Google Notebook Users http://blog.evernote.com/2009/01/22/google-notebook-import-2/ “…Google announced that they were stopping development on Google Notebook. We’re big fans of Google Notebook, in fact many of [us] used it before Evernote came along. When we heard the news, we immediately began work on a Google Notebook import tool. Today, it’s ready. So, all of you Google Notebook users can now easily bring your notes, labels, and sections right into Evernote…”

19. Google's GrandCentral Not Dead http://www.alleyinsider.com/2009/1/pogue-googles-grandcentral-not-dead-just-resting “…New York Times tech columnist David Pogue insists that Google hasn't killed GrandCentral, and that version 2.0 is "imminent." You’ve got it wrong. Everyone from GrandCentral still works on GrandCentral, and the 2.0 version is imminent. A PR guy explained to me that it’s taken a year to merge the GrandCentral servers with Google’s, but they’re nearly done…”

20. Google Web Drive http://blog.wired.com/business/2009/01/why-a-google-we.html “…The fabled GDrive is by far the most clamored-for Google service that, so far anyway, has yet to see the light of day. We’ve been hearing about a Google Drive online storage solution for years, but lately some tell-tale signs seem to point toward GDrive becoming a reality…DropBox and its ilk already offer pretty much what GDrive is rumored to be — it just isn’t Google doing the file hosting…So what’s not to love? Well, for one thing DropBox already does all that (except for the Google Docs integration), but the real issues are the same ones that DropBox faces. There are two essential problems with the whole cloud computing paradigm that no one has really solved. The first is trust. It’s one thing to trust your e-mail to Google, it’s another thing to trust the company with the entirety of your digital life. Forget problems of security and privacy, even the basic issue of server downtime leaves many people cold. The other big issue with online storage is that, for most of us, documents like spreadsheets, word processor files and the other formats that Google Docs understands are not what’s taking up the majority of space on our drives. Is the fabled GDrive going to store and sync my 200 or so gigabytes of mp3 files? For free? Somehow I doubt it…Microsoft’s Live Sync service…hasn’t changed the way we use Windows, nor has it made us throw out our hard drives…”

General Technology

21. Doom as a tool for system administration http://www.cs.unm.edu/~dlchao/flake/doom/ “…I am proposing a new mapping for managing system loads. As mentioned above, people frequently talk about "blowing processes away", and the Unix command to destroy a process is "kill". This suggests a metaphor for process management. Each process can be a monster, and the machines can be represented by a series of rooms. Id Software has generously released the source for Doom, which has been ported to Linux. I downloaded one of the many versions and added a few lines of code that would spawn a new soldier for each process, renice the process when it is wounded, and kill the process when it dies…A new sysadmin can be given less power by providing her with a smaller weapon. A rank beginner may not be given a weapon at all and be forced to attack processes with her bare hands. It would take a foolhardy player to attack a room full of monsters, just as a newbie should not kill a bunch of important processes. A more experienced sysadmin would have time to stop a newbie who is trying to kill the wrong process. The real work could be left to those with the big guns. The truly great sysadmins could have BFGs…” [for reference, see also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcQ7RkyBoBc]

22. Lifeline for Renewable Power http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/21747/?a=f “…Germany is the world's largest user of wind energy, with enough turbines to produce 22,250 megawatts of electricity. That's roughly the equivalent of the output from 22 coal plants--enough to meet about 6 percent of Germany's needs. And because Vattenfall's service area produces 41 percent of German wind energy, the control room is a critical proving ground for the grid's ability to handle renewable power…The grid has a limited ability to shunt extra power to other regions, and it has no energy-storage capacity beyond a handful of small facilities that pump water into uphill reservoirs and then release it through turbines during periods of peak demand…As more and more wind turbines pop up in Germany, so do overloads and shortages caused by unexpected changes in wind level. In 2007, ­Vattenfall's engineers had to scrap their daily scheduling plans roughly every other day to reconfigure electricity supplies on the fly; in early 2008, such changes became necessary every day. Power plants had to cycle on and off inefficiently, and the company had to make emergency electricity purchases at high prices. Days of very high wind and low demand even forced the Vattenfall workers to quickly shut the wind farms down…We simply do not have the transmission capacity available to properly integrate new renewable resources…The challenge facing the United States is particularly striking. Whereas Germany already gets 14 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, the United States gets only about 1 percent of its electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal power combined…”

23. Unmanned Vehicles Mimic Insects http://tinyurl.com/8dbljx (AviationWeek) “…The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of "WolfPack"--a coffee-can size, air-dropped network of ground sensors--include fast-moving spiders, high-jumping grasshoppers, bees with detachable surveillance payloads and sensor-equipped dragonflies. Development of BAE Systems' WolfPack worked out the dynamics of connecting a series of low-cost, not-so-smart sensors to create a very smart network. That network could, for example, monitor and analyze nearby communications and map the information flow. It then could trigger electronic jamming or even the injection of a data stream of algorithms that captures low-power traffic, attacks communications protocol stacks and otherwise manipulates a foe's flow of information. A second-generation WolfPack added a propulsion system to manipulate the modules and recharge the batteries… University of Maryland is using the hearing mechanism of flies--a pair of mechanically-coupled ears--to create miniature acoustic receivers for an "artificial fly" micro-UAV that can navigate into otherwise inaccessible locations…”

24. Better Than Owning http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2009/01/better_than_own.php “…Ownership is not as important as it once was. I use roads that I don't own. I have immediate access to 99% of the roads and highways of the world (with a few exceptions) because they are a public commons…The web is also a social common good. The web is not the same as public roads, which are "owned" by the public, but in terms of public access and use, the web is a type of community good…Libraries share some of these qualities. The content of the books are not public domain, but their displays (the books) grant public access to their knowledge and information…Very likely, in the near future, I won't "own" any music, or books, or movies. Instead I will have immediate access to all music, all books, all movies using an always-on service, via a subscription fee or tax. I won't buy – as in make a decision to own -- any individual music or books because I can simply request to see or hear them on demand from the stream of ALL…For many people this type of instant universal access is better than owning…It's not hard to imagine most other intangible goods becoming social goods as well. Games, education, and health info are also headed in that direction. As creations become digital they tend to become shared, ownerless goods…”

25. Notebooks now make up over 70 percent of Mac sales http://tinyurl.com/cl7u4e (VentureBeat) “…Four years ago, sales of desktop machines made up 60 percent of Apple’s computer sales, while notebooks made up 40 percent…In its most recent quarter, Apple reported that its notebooks constituted some 71 percent of all Mac sales…”

26. WD First 2TB Hard Drive http://www.pcworld.com/article/158374/western_digital_launches_worldfirst_2tb_hard_drive.html “…brand-new 2TB Western Digital hard drives are showing up in Australian online stores. The drives are Western Digital's first foray past single-terabyte varieties, and are sure to come as a punishing blow to…Seagate and its 1.5TB drives which don't seem to be working quite right as of late…This move now leaves Samsung as the only major hard drive manufacturer to not win a part of the storage race thus far. Hitachi was the first-to-market with a 1TB drive, Seagate was the first to break through the terabyte barrier with a 1.5TB drive, and Western Digital is now the capacity leader. Expect to see all four major players jockeying for position…as each preps a drive to try and beat the performance of its peers. It happened with single terabyte drives; it'll happen with two-terabyte drives…”

27. Hot air balloon generator http://www.ecofriend.org/entry/eco-tech-hot-air-balloon-generator-to-provide-green-electricity/ “…Ian Edmonds, an environmental consultant…has designed an innovative renewable generator, which is designed to provide electricity at the cost of a wind turbine and is more acceptable to society. The generator is essentially a hot air balloon, which uses the energy of the sun to heat air inside it. As the air inside the balloon heats up, it lifts in the air and pulls a tether, which rotates a generator on the ground. Once the balloon reaches a height of 3 kilometers, the air inside is released through its vent and it comes back to the ground…These tethers would not only look weird, but will also be hazardous for choppers and small airplanes flying at a lower altitude…”

Leisure & Entertainment

28. The End Of An Era - Flight Sim Is No More http://www.steve-lacey.com/blogarchives/2009/01/the_end_of_an_e.shtml “…Microsoft has shutdown the ACES game studio and axed the entire staff…Microsoft Flight Simulator is dead…multiple reports indicating that the entire Flight Simulator team has been axed…There were people on the team that have worked on FlightSim since it’s subLOGIC days..popular sites such as AVSim and Sim Outhouse are waking up to the new reality…I guess it’s a good day for X-Plane, though I think I’d really like to see FlightGear, an OpenSource flight simulator, ahem, take off…”

29. New Spore Games Target Kids, Wii Players http://blog.wired.com/games/2009/01/electronic-arts.html “…A new Creature Keeper game is aimed at young kids who want to play Tamagotchi with the monsters they create. Spore Hero is an action-adventure game for Wii. And a new expansion pack to the flagship PC game allows players to tweak the gameplay, creating their own adventures and challenging other players…Spore Creature Keeper takes those monsters and dumps them into a virtual-pet game aimed at kids. In addition to ensuring that their little creation gets its daily exercise, players will be able to decorate their critter's living space, and invite friends over for play dates…Spore Hero will allow players to create and interact with a fully rendered creature, and then lead them on a casual adventure to become their galaxy's champion, with a number of challenges along the way…Spore Galactic Adventures (pictured above), the game's first expansion pack for PC and Mac…expands the creative pathways open to players by allowing them to create their own gameplay. Spore allows you to play God: prodding a single-celled organism along the evolutionary road, you design entire civilizations to explore vast tracts of space, befriending (or conquering) neighbors…”

30. Nintendo brain-trainer 'no better than pencil and paper' http://tinyurl.com/d3ppmw (TimesOnline) “…The survey of ten-year-old children found no evidence to support claims in Nintendo's advertising campaign…that users can test and rejuvenate their grey cells…The company suggests that its programmes can make users “two to three times better in tests of memory…Professor Lieury said that helping one's children with their homework, reading, playing Scrabble or Su Doku or watching documentaries instead of soap operas matched or beat the console…”

Economy and Technology

31. Silicon Valley’s Fork in the Road http://www.newsweek.com/id/181392 “…top executives at HP…are ringing an alarm bell about what they see as a looming disaster, not just for HP, but for the entire U.S. tech industry. They say that unless we boost government spending on science, technology, engineering and math—STEM, in industry jargon—we will be unable to keep up with countries like China and India. At some point, companies such as Apple, Cisco, HP, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle could be eclipsed by foreign rivals, just as Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have been…HP isn't a place given to hysteria. This is the world's largest tech company, an outfit that did $118 billion in sales last year and earned a net profit of more than $8 billion, one that employs 321,000 people worldwide, about 100,000 of them in the United States. HP also operates one of the world's leading industrial research labs, with 600 scientists working under the direction of Prith Banerjee, an Indian-born computer scientist with a background in academia and start-ups. Banerjee says the rest of the world has been rapidly boosting spending on science and technology, while the United States has been, in effect, scaling back. "There is a perfect storm headed toward our tech industry...Nobody at HP wants to come out and say we should let automakers die. But it must gall them to see bright, aspiring scientists starved of funding while Detroit gets rewarded for its stupidity…Williams traveled to China, where the government is creating the world's largest nanotechnology research facility and dishing out grants of as much as $100 million to veteran scientists. One woman he met, a 28-year-old fresh out of graduate school, had been given $5 million to pursue nanotech research. "In the United States," he says, "a young assistant professor would struggle to raise $50,000, let alone $5 million…”

32. Sony: $2.9 billion loss http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1e88f78e-e847-11dd-a4d0-0000779fd2ac.html Sony…said on Thursday that it would plunge to a Y260bn ($2.9bn) operating loss in the year to March 2009 as the global downturn and strong yen wreaked havoc on sales. The group was expecting an operating profit of Y200bn only last October…Sony has said it will cut 8,000 full time jobs in total and shut five or six factories. So far it has announced the closure of one factory in France, with the loss of 312 jobs, and one in the US, with the loss of 560 jobs. Sacking staff in Japan is sensitive, because many were implicitly promised a ‘job for life’, but sparing them would risk angering Sony’s foreign employees…”

33. Microsoft will cut up to 5,000 jobs http://tinyurl.com/dmczbc (BusinessWeek) “…Microsoft is…eliminating about 5,000 jobs, or 5.5% of its 91,000-person workforce. The net reduction will be less than 3,000 because Microsoft will keep hiring in key areas…Microsoft's flagship Windows business, where sales fell 8% to $3.98 billion—far off the company's forecast for 10% to 12% growth three months ago…Many of the PCs that were sold were low-priced netbooks that tend to go for less than $300. For the version of Windows in those machines, Microsoft gets less than half as much as it does for the version in a full-blown PC…people who use these stripped-down devices do much of their computing on the Web…Microsoft's Internet division is losing money at just as remarkable a clip. Losses in the division almost doubled to $471 million from a year earlier. That's on just $866 million in sales…its Entertainment & Devices business. The $3.1 billion division posted profit for the second straight quarter, as the company sold 6 million units of its Xbox gaming console—more than double the quarterly sales of Sony's (SNE) PlayStation 3 console…”

34. $200 Laptops Break a Business Model http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/26/technology/26spend.html “…Mr. Title, a 35-year-old new-media manager at a film production company in New York, has dropped his cable subscription and moved to watching most of his television online — free…recently, he sidestepped more expensive full-featured computers and picked a bare-bones, $200 Asus EeePC laptop, also known as a netbook…there are low-priced and free alternatives that are both user-friendly and reliable enough to make the switch,” Mr. Title said. “Then there’s the extra bonus of saving some cash…the fear now is that consumers like Mr. Title, and businesses operating with the same cost-cutting mind-set, will erode the high-margin businesses of the information technology industry — slowing some technologies and companies but giving new momentum to others…Penny-pinching shoppers like Mr. Title could have the most immediate effect on the tech industry, particularly if more people consider canceling their cable subscriptions to watch video online, or drop their landline telephones to depend on their cellphones or on Internet calling services like Skype…Many consumers appear ready to abandon the costly desktop computer altogether…The day of the Rolls-Royce laptop and the high-end computer may not be totally over…But certainly the audience for that type of product is getting smaller and smaller…Arista Networks, a start-up based in Menlo Park, Calif., has much of its internal technology processes online, or “in the cloud.” Instead of buying its own hardware and software systems from the likes of Microsoft and Oracle, it opted for e-mail and online document services from Google and online sales and manufacturing software from Netsuite, based in San Mateo, Calif. It is spending a fifth of what it would be for traditional technology, said Jayshree Ullal, Arista’s chief executive. She smells a trend. “I think 80 percent of the new high-tech and small to mid-size companies are doing what we’re doing…”

35. Twenty-Two Years Of Job Creation Wiped Out In One Day http://tinyurl.com/c49nw8 (A VC) “…that's about 40,000 jobs in total that the three firms I've worked in have helped to create over the past two decades…our economy lost 75,000 jobs yesterday…I am among those who believe that tech-based entrepreneurship is a big part of the way out of the mess we are in. But can we in the venture business collectively replace 75,000 jobs per day? No, we can't…Charlie O'Donnell may have a better answer, which is that entrepreneurship will have to do the heavy lifiting. As Charlie says: “Well, what if there are no openings come this May--literally none. No job postings. No on campus interviews. No job fairs. This isn't a fantasy. It's happening right now. Even the companies that are showing up to job fairs aren't hiring--they're just there for branding…You know what that makes all these students, and everyone else out there in the job market...besides screwed? Entrepreneurs.” Charlie is talking about people coming right out of college, but I think this is going to be true for a lot of people who need a job going forward. The big companies are not going to be the answer. We are going to need more people going out on their own…They'll bootstrap a business that hopefully can cover their cost of living…”

Civilian Aerospace

36. Launch of eSpace http://www.colorado.edu/news/r/17366381460d8ddafc59c1667b47d5fa.html “…The University of Colorado at Boulder, a national leader in aerospace engineering, and SpaceDev Inc., a leading entrepreneurial space company located in Louisville, Colo., have partnered to create eSpace: The Center for Space Entrepreneurship. eSpace is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating new entrepreneurial space companies, commercializing aerospace technologies created within these companies and developing the aerospace workforce to support them…By providing access to the academic resources of the university, grants to promising space entrepreneurs, and access to both the manufacturing infrastructure of SpaceDev and a network of experienced aerospace entrepreneurs, we expect to create a fertile environment for ensuring the best possible chance of success for startup space companies…eSpace is unique in its approach to supporting the creation of these companies by lowering the barriers for entry to an absolute minimum, according to Tibbitts. More than $1 million has been provided to support the launch of the center…”

37. SpaceShipTwo rocket motor test success http://tinyurl.com/agguqm (Flightglobal) “…Virgin Galactic's Rocket Motor Two (RM2) propulsion system for its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle has successfully completed hot firing tests…Virgin Galactic is planning flight-testing before the end of the year. Trials will begin with carrier flight tests using the rocket glider spacecraft's mothership, WhiteKnightTwo, which made its maiden flight on 21 December 2008…Burt Rutan said in July 2008 that paraffin- and asphalt-based solid fuels had been tested, for what is now known as RM2. California based-space technology company Spacedev has been contracted by Scaled Composites to assist the company in developing RM2…In 2004 the Scaled Composite-designed SpaceShipOne's rocket motor used gaseous nitrous oxide as its oxidiser and hydroxyl terminated polybutadiene as its solid fuel, to carry its pilot, and ballast representing two more people, for two flights into space…The RM2 oxidiser and fuel has been the subject of speculation given the larger, eight-person SS2's energy needs to reach space…”

38. Researchers cooking up gelled rocket fuels http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2009a/090121HeisterGelled.html “…This is a very multidisciplinary project," said Stephen Heister, the Purdue University professor of aeronautics and astronautics…Gels…would allow the military to better control rockets than is possible with solid fuels now used. Motors running on gelled fuels could be throttled up and down and controlled more precisely than conventional rockets that use solid propellants…The gelled propellants also tend to have a little more energy than the solid propellants…The fluid mechanics of gels are quite challenging. The viscous properties of the gel change depending on how fast it's flowing, which is not true of common liquids such as water or gasoline." The project will tap the expertise of food scientists and food engineers, who are accustomed to working with gels…”

39. 2nd European CubeSat Workshop http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM8S7WPXPF_index_0.html “…The Second European CubeSat Workshop…was held at the European Space Technology and Research Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands from 20 to 22 January 2009. Following…a similar workshop in 2008, there was an even higher level of interest shown by universities and students for this year’s event, with more than 200 participants…CubeSats are pico-satellites of standardised dimensions (cubes of 10 cm per side, with a maximum mass of 1 kg). They are being used more and more frequently by universities as an educational tool that offers hands-on experience to aerospace engineering students in designing, testing, and operating a spacecraft system and its ground segment…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

40. Supercomputing Hits the Desktop http://www.designnews.com/article/162620-Supercomputing_Hits_the_Desktop.php “…The recent wave of new personal supercomputers packs on a single desktop the processing horsepower - in some cases, four teraflops and beyond - that typically has only been available from dedicated, multi-million dollar, high-performance computer (HPC) and cluster offerings. Fueling the additional computing muscle is a new breed of hybrid system that harnesses both CPU and GPU (graphics processing unit) technology, amassing a performance punch that's on par with traditional, dedicated HPC systems…NVIDIA and its customers have been circumventing the performance roadblock by piecing together custom systems that combine multiple multicore CPUs and Tesla GPUs. MIT and Harvard, for instance, have 16 GPU systems cranking through complex medical imaging research…John Stone, a senior research programmer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has long been a user of HPC clusters, but admits a personal supercomputer brings a level of convenience not seen with traditional systems. Stone, part of the university's Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group, taps HPC technology to create a mathematical model that simulates the behavior of biological molecules at an atomic level - something that's not visible even through highly sophisticated microscopes. A couple years ago, running these highly complex calculations meant tapping some far-off supercomputer for days. Last year, Stone's group began working with CUDA and a custom-built hybrid CPU/GPU system and was able to perform the same work on a single GPU machine in their own lab in only 27 minutes…”

41. GPU computing: massive data parallelism http://weblog.infoworld.com/stratdev/archives/2009/01/gpu_computing_i.html “…password guessing is an embarrassingly parallel problem, right up there with 3-D rendering, face recognition, Monte Carlo simulation, particle physics event reconstruction, biological sequence searching, genetic algorithms, and weather modeling…For embarrassingly parallel problems, for example digital tomography, an under-$10,000 Tesla personal supercomputer can beat a $5 million Sun CalcUA…”

42. AccelerEyes Launches GPU Engine for MATLAB http://tinyurl.com/cltvj8 (HPCwire) “…Jacket 1.0, a GPU engine for MATLAB. Jacket was developed by AccelerEyes, a two-year-old Atlanta-based startup that was founded by Georgia Tech grad John Melonakos, who also runs the company. AccelerEyes aims to tap into the enormous user base of engineers and scientists currently using MATLAB, but who would like to take advantage of the latest GPU hardware to accelerate computing and visualization…Jacket allows developers to program GPUs in workstations, PCs and embedded systems using MATLAB's M language. The Jacket runtime manages all CPU-GPU memory transfers, kernel configurations and execution launches behind the scenes. The GPU computing engine is built atop CUDA…”

43. First Symposium on Application Accelerators http://tinyurl.com/dgc4oj (HPCwire) “…GPUs, FPGAs, vector processors and other exotic special-purpose chips…are advanced processor architectures that the scientific community is using to accelerate computationally demanding applications…The first annual 2009 Symposium on Application Accelerators in High-Performance Computing (SAAHPC'09) will take place July 27-31, 2009, in Champaign, Ill., and aims to bring together developers of computing accelerators and end-users of the technology to exchange ideas and learn about the latest developments in the field…”

44. NTU, First Asia-Pacific CUDA CoE http://tinyurl.com/ajafx2 (IT NewsOnline) “…Nvidia Corp. and National Taiwan University (NTU) have announced that NTU has been named as Asia's first CUDA Center of Excellence…This appointment and our adoption of GPUs will empower our academic researchers to do world-changing research," said Prof. Ji-Wang Chern, Dean for Research and Development of NTU. "This partnership with Nvidia will help NTU improve the state of parallel computing education in Taiwan and equip the next generation of computational researchers with the tools they need to make great discoveries." "Taiwan is the global epicenter of technology innovation and NTU is one of the key universities cultivating engineers and developers that will go on to become true pioneers in the world of IT. We are delighted to recognize their contribution by naming NTU a CUDA Center of Excellence," said David Kirk, chief scientist at Nvidia…”


*****

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