NEW NET Issues List for 24 Feb 2009

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 24 February 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. 60+ Great How To Sites and Resources http://mashable.com/2009/02/18/how-to-guide/ “…Thanks to the social web, particularly niche blogs and expert-driven communities, it’s easy to find knowledge, insights and guidance direct from the pros, no matter what the topic area…Here’s a run-down of more than 60 great how-to sites and guides covering everything from building a mashup to being more productive…”

2. Free Conferencing App Yugma Available in New Skype Edition http://tinyurl.com/ahxtem (WebWorkerDaily) “…the free web conferencing application Yugma…a free, full-featured online meeting tool that is particularly good for inviting other participants on-the-fly to join a meeting even if they haven’t downloaded the Yugma application…Yugma SE is a plug-in for Windows- or Mac-based Skype users, and is available for free here. Like the standard Yugma application, it allows Skype users to share their desktops with each other during Skype sessions…up to 20 participants can collaborate at one time for free…” [http://webworkerdaily.com/2008/12/11/free-version-40-of-yugma-online-conferencing-app-is-here/ more Yugma info]

3. SpeakerRate: Honest Feedback http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/speakerrate_honest_feedback_speakers.php “…If you're a speaker, you know that standing in front of a crowd isn't half as hard as getting critical feedback on your talks. People who disliked it will generally remain silent or opt for a snarky tweet or two. Those close to you will tell you "You did great!" no matter how poorly you performed…SpeakerRate is designed to help you promote the talks you're giving - and get that critical feedback you're seeking…”

4. Facebook and Bebo risk 'infantilising' the human mind http://tinyurl.com/bduxv7 (Guardian) “…Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity, according to a leading neuroscientist. The startling warning from Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln college, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution, has led members of the government to admit their work on internet regulation has not extended to broader issues, such as the psychological impact on children…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

5. Anonymous Caller? New Service Says, Not Any More http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/02/trapcall.html “…A new service set for launch Tuesday allows cellphone users to unmask the Caller ID on blocked incoming calls, obtaining the phone number, and in some cases the name and address, of the no-longer-anonymous caller…TrapCall's basic unmasking service is free, and includes the option of blacklisting unwanted callers by phone number…It's currently available to AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers, with support for the other major carriers due within weeks…TrapCall takes advantage of a loophole in Caller ID blocking that’s long benefited corporate phone customers: Namely, calls to toll-free numbers are not blocked, because those calls are paid for by the recipient. TrapCall instructs new customers to reprogram their cellphones to send all rejected, missed and unanswered calls to TrapCall’s own toll-free number…The call invisibly loops through TelTech’s system, then back to the user’s phone, this time with the caller’s number displayed as the Caller ID. The caller hears only ringing during this rerouting, which took about six seconds in Wired.com's test…”

6. US bill proposes ISPs, Wi-Fi sources keep logs for police http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10168114-38.html “…politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations…the Internet Safety Act applies not just to AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and so on--but also to the tens of millions of homes with Wi-Fi access points or wired routers that use the standard method of dynamically assigning temporary addresses…or DHCP…That sweeps in not just public Wi-Fi access points, but password-protected ones too, and applies to individuals, small businesses, large corporations, libraries, schools, universities, and even government agencies. Voice over IP services may be covered too…”

7. Clues to Massive Hacks Hidden in Plain Sight http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/02/volunteer-group.html “…For years, researchers with the nonprofit Open Security Foundation have been scouring press reports, bank websites and other sources for information on consumer data spills, tallying more than 394 million records lost or compromised in 1,700 incidents since 2000. In January, acting on a tip…foundation volunteers started looking for customer breach notifications coming from regional banks around the United States, and quickly found a pattern. A Jan. 17 story out of Maine indicated that Kennebec Savings Bank was informing 1,500 customers that their debit cards may have been compromised on a third party's system. Just two days later, a Kentucky newspaper reported that the local Forcht Bank had canceled 8,500 of its 22,000 customer debit cards because of an unspecified breach. The more the volunteers looked, the more cases they found, ultimately discovering notifications in five states…The foundation is accustomed to reading breach-disclosure tea leaves…By late January, it was becoming clear to the Open Security Foundation that something, somewhere had gone very wrong indeed…soon they became certain it was something even more serious. The banks evidently had no clue, and were distributing conflicting information…On January 19, Shettler published a note on DataLoss positing that the evidence was pointing to a breach at a payment-processing company, a firm that handles debit and credit card transactions from around the country, instead of a single leaky retailer…several media outlets began sniffing around the story. The next morning, as the world watched the presidential inauguration, Heartland issued a press release acknowledging it had been hacked…The timing of the press release raised suspicions that the company was trying to bury the announcement on a day when the country was focused on inaugurating Barack Obama. It's also possible that DataLoss' online musings forced Heartland to disclose the information when it did…Regardless of the timing, the incident helped shine a spotlight on work the Open Security Foundation is doing to ensure that data breaches don't pass quietly under the radar. That work is primarily the product of four computer security specialists who contribute to the project in their free time: Martin, Shettler, Kelly Todd and Jake Kouns. Todd and Shettler do most of the day-to-day tasks, each spending about 15 hours a week tracking news stories about breaches, managing the e-mail list, compiling statistics into easily read graphs and making the information available for download…Data loss experts have estimated the majority of breaches are still never made public for a number of reasons: Entities that are breached don't know about state laws that require them to report breaches. The breach doesn't involve personally identifiable information…Or the organization doesn't want the bad publicity a breach announcement will bring and is willing to risk keeping the information under wraps…the largest number of breaches reported — 29 percent — are attributable to stolen laptops and desktop computers rather than to hacking. Hacking is, however, the next largest category and accounts for 18 percent of incidents…Shettler said he's also surprised by the huge role that third parties, such as consultants and other outsourced service providers, play in breaches. Though such incidents account for only 11 percent of the database, the number of records affected in third-party breaches represents 41 percent of all lost or stolen records…”

8. Skype Calls' Immunity to Police Phone Tapping Threatened http://www.pcworld.com/article/159896/ “…Suspicious phone conversations on Skype could be targeted for tapping as part of a pan-European crackdown on what law authorities believe is a massive technical loophole in current wiretapping laws, allowing criminals to communicate without fear of being overheard by the police…organized crime, arms and drugs traffickers, and prostitution rings are turning to Skype and other systems of VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) telephony in order to frustrate investigators. While telecommunications companies are obliged to comply with court orders to monitor calls on land lines and mobile phones, "Skype' refuses to cooperate with the authorities…In addition to the issue of cooperation, there are technical obstacles to tapping Skype calls. The way calls are set up and carried between computers is proprietary, and the encryption system used is strong…The NSA (National Security Agency) is so concerned by Skype that it is offering hackers large sums of money to break its encryption, according to unsourced reports in the U.S. Italian investigators have become increasingly reliant on wiretaps…a recent example of customs and tax police in Milan, who overheard a suspected cocaine trafficker telling an accomplice to switch to Skype in order to get details of a 2kg drug consignment…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

9. More Customers Give Up the Cellphone Contract http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/21/technology/21prepaid.html “…pay-as-you-go phones are winning over fans for different reasons — recession-battered consumers are buying them as a way to cut costs and avoid the lengthy contracts and occasional billing surprises…Although prepaid phones remain a fraction of the overall mobile phone market, sales of the category grew 13 percent in North America last year, nearly three times faster than traditional cellphone plans…Virgin Mobile and Sprint’s Boost Mobile division now offer sleeker handsets, better coverage and more options, from 10-cent-a-minute calling cards that customers refill as needed to $50-a-month, flat-rate plans for chatterboxes who want unlimited calling, Web browsing and text messaging…In 2001, we would sell upwards of 100 contracts per month,” he said. “Now, maybe we do 10.” The store sells 100 prepaid refill cards each week, he said. Boost Mobile’s $50 unlimited-everything prepaid plan, introduced last month, has helped stoke demand, said Mr. Bournis. “Over the holidays, all of our Boost Mobile handsets were just collecting dirt,” he added. “After they announced the $50 plan, they sold out within a week…”

10. Low iPhone App Usage Stats Don't Tell the Whole Story http://tinyurl.com/dmqugh (PCWorld) “…Here are some "fun facts" taken from the report…Fact #1: With free apps, a whopping 80 percent of people abandon their selections the day after their first interaction. Fact #2: When it comes to paid apps, less than a third of users go back for more the following day. Fact #3: Only 1 percent of people end up developing a long-term usage relationship with any given app. Instead, most tend to lose interest after only a few minutes…First, the large number of free downloads make it easy to try iPhone applications and just trash them if they don't meet a need. I guess Pinch finds this interesting, but it's hardly significant. Slightly more interesting is that people buy applications and then don’t use them…What the report tells me is we need an easy way to "return" an iPhone app you don't like for a refund, say within the first 24 hours after downloading. That would help protect users against something else: The report suggests you can make a great deal of money selling a really bad application if the description and feedback can be made to seem positive enough…I have downloaded 58 iPhone apps…Of these 58 apps, I paid for about one-third of them…There are another four or five apps that I've decided I will never use and should delete from iTunes and my phone. There are, however, nine or 10 iPhone applications that are either essential to me or that I want to carry because when I do need them they come in extremely handy…”

11. Vibrating Bluetooth Bracelet with Caller ID http://jkontherun.com/2009/02/24/vibrating-bluetooth-bracelet-with-caller-id/ “…Bluetooth bracelet from Brando…around $50 and connects through Bluetooth to any phone supporting the hands-free profile. You can’t speak or listen to a call with it, but when your phone gets a call, the bracelet vibrates and displays the caller ID on the LCD…”

12. India Shatters Monthly Mobile Subscriber Record http://tinyurl.com/d58ubp (PCWorld) India…increased its mobile subscriber tab by a monthly record high 15.4 million people in January…The total number of wireless subscribers in India was 362 million at the end of January, while the total number of telephone connections - fixed and mobile - crossed 400 million...In the fixed telephony segment, the number of subscribers continued to decline…”

Open Source

13. Joomla vs Drupal - Battle of the CMSes http://www.odesk.com/blog/2009/02/joomla-vs-drupal-battle-of-the-cmses/ “…There are currently 4,695 Joomla developers on oDesk, and 201 open jobs. Joomla has shown steady growth over the last two years, from 300 jobs posted per month at the start of 2008 to over 500 today. The average Joomla job size is 125 hours. There are about half as many Drupal developers (2,212) and jobs (108) on oDesk, but the average job is almost twice the size, at 234 hours. Drupal, too, has shown steady growth from 125 jobs posted per month last year to 250 today. So, Drupal jobs have half the frequency and are twice the length, which may point to the platform being used more by larger enterprises, vs. smaller projects for smaller businesses for Joomla. Although there are fewer Drupal jobs for providers to choose from, it seems to be much less competitive of a skill. In fact, it made our list of the top 10 skills with the least competition and most opportunity, which we published in December…”

14. Ubuntu's 9.10: Karmic Koala http://www.crn.com/software/214502240 “…Ubuntu Linux version 9.10 now has a code-name -- 'Karmic Koala' -- and its focus will be on cloud computing tools on the server side, and faster boot times and design improvements on the desktop side, according to Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth…”

15. The Open-Source Collaboration Gap http://tinyurl.com/bp56r2 (Forbes) “…When it comes to open-source communities, individuals are much better citizens than institutions. The enlightened self-interest that causes individuals to send back bug fixes, contribute ideas for new features and write documentation is much harder to find in institutions…Almost all open-source projects begin as a community of individuals. A leader starts a project and publishes code on the Internet, and then others join in. As more people show up, community roles and rules develop…collaboration skills are part of being an individual but are much newer to institutions. For example, the idea of collaborating with outside partners on research and development, the practice of open innovation that Henry Chesbrough writes about, is novel and innovative. Skerrett points out that institutions don't have the same collaborative plumbing in place that individuals do…If collaboration and participation in open source and other communities is really as valuable as claimed, the benefits should start to be measured…”

16. 8 watt Aleutia E2 mini computer http://lwn.net/Articles/317827/ “…UK-based Aleutia, Ltd…ultra-low-power-consumption Linux PCs for classrooms and businesses in developing countries. The company's flagship product…E2 measures 115x115x35 millimeters, is fanless, and runs from Compact Flash storage. It sports a 500 MHz VIA processor, 1GB of RAM, and comes with VGA, Ethernet, PS/2, audio-in, audio-out, and three USB ports packed onto a ruggedized aluminum enclosure…The Compact Flash card is ready to boot; no installation required. It uses the GNOME desktop environment and a customized suite of applications, including several not common to vanilla Ubuntu…Apart from these supplementary applications, however, the system is a full-fledged Ubuntu installation, capable of downloading updates through the project's official APT repositories…The E2 is easily capable of handling Internet and office tasks like you would expect in the classroom or in an Internet cafe. The 8 watts of electricity it consumes is roughly five percent of the power drawn by a typical desktop computer…”

17. Marvell's Plug Computer: 5 watt Linux server http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/41525/136/ “…Marvell announced today a new type of computer. It's about the size of an AC to DC converting wall outlet plug, but is really a full SoC with a 1200 MHz CPU, built-in 512 MB Flash, 512 MB DRAM, Gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0 support. It runs small versions of Linux, consumes about 5 watts max while allowing remote users (presumably those authorized by the owner) to access data stored on the device from remote locations including local intranets or over the Internet…It could be setup as a remote print server, or a web server. It could run as a proxy re-directing traffic from outside locations to forward IP addresses…with a USB 2.0 interface, it is also capable of working with much larger USB flash drives or external hard disks. When used on an intranet, such a device could serve as a media server for the home or office network, allowing extremely low-power storage and immediate retrieval without having to have a dedicated PC-like machine sitting somewhere. Since it is IP address based, media file sharing among an entire office or home would be possible. Connect to a Wi-Fi enabled router and the ability to broadcast media at Wi-Fi speeds is suddenly possible…Marvell is targeting an eventual $49 price tag for the device, with a $99 developer version, both of which are reportedly immediately available on Marvell's website…”


18. Google: Making Search Results Better Isn't An Antitrust Violation http://techdirt.com/articles/20090217/1841023807.shtml “…this company was a pure search arbitrage player. It was buying ads on Google, sending people to a page full of links... and a bunch of Google ads. These pages are often considered spam by users for good reason: they don't provide value…Because of that, people began to indicate to Google that such links were poor uses of their time, and Google's algorithm properly corrected for that, lowering the prominence of those ads…the company in that NY Times profile, TradeComet, still isn't satisfied, and has now sued Google for antitrust violations…There are numerous problems with this argument. First, it was TradeComet that made the decision to rely almost entirely on Google to send it traffic. That was a strategic decision (and a bad one)…Google has every right to make its search results better, and getting spam-like pages out of sight is one clear way to do so…”

19. GeeMail puts offline Gmail on your desktop http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10167183-2.html “…GeeMail is a standalone Gmail client that runs on Adobe AIR. It looks and feels exactly like Google's Gmail, or at least how it did before the introduction of labs last year…Unlike Google's official offline solution that uses Gears, GeeMail is quite a bit faster. It grabbed 1,500 of my most recent messages in just a couple of minutes. This speed, while nice, comes at the expense of downloading a much smaller portion of your inbox than Gmail does…”

20. Google users hit by mail outage http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7907583.stm?lss Business and consumer users of Google's popular e-mail service were hit by an outage on Tuesday…More than 113 million people use Google mail worldwide…Google has the world's third most popular web mail service behind Hotmail with 283 million users and Yahoo with 274 million e-mail users…Google Mail was working on G1 mobile phones, which are powered by Google's Android operating system. Google Mail also appeared to be working if accessed through a third-party mail reading program configured to send and receive e-mail using the Imap mail protocol.”

21. New Google Maps tweak http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10166915-2.html?part=rss “…Google Maps got a small tweak that's been long overdue. Now, instead of just showing you the top 10 results of a local search on the map, it shows all of them. It still places the little map markers that match up with the top 10results, but now you can see other places that may be closer. I can see this being most helpful if it trickles down to mobile devices, where you may be searching for something that's within walking distance…when searching for a nearby camera store I got three or four results I wouldn't have otherwise seen since they were not in the top results…”

22. Google.org Gets More Businesslike http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_org_businesslike.php “…Google.org has announced a reorganization to help them meet the goals for Google's philanthropic arm…Google remains committed to contributing 1% of its equity and profits to Google.org…Dr. Larry Brilliant will step aside as Executive Director to take the position of Chief Philanthropy Evangelist. In his place, Megan Smith will step into the role of General Manager. As the current Vice President of New Business Development, Smith is a proven deal maker for Google, having lead the acquisitions of Keyhole ( which became Google Earth), Where2Tech (which became Google Maps), and Picasa…she retains that Vice President position in addition to taking on the General Manager role…”

General Technology

23. 10 Easy Ways to Run Your Laptop Without Electricity http://tinyurl.com/baa4fq (GreenWebHosting) “…Have you ever tried to use your laptop without electricity for any length of time? Unless you have a load of laptop batteries in the storage shed, you might find that going without electricity or getting off the grid can prove difficult…you may want to try one or more of the ten options listed below…batteries are essential if you want to store or generate power from alternative sources. So, start with batteries, and then learn more about how to use that laptop with the least amount of power as possible…”

24. Scientist Looks to Weaponize Ball Lightning http://blog.wired.com/defense/2009/02/great-balls-of.html “…Ball lightning has been the subject of much scientific scrutiny over the years. And, as with many powerful natural phenomena, the question arises: "Can we turn it into a weapon?...The exact cause and nature of ball lighting has yet to be determined; there may be several different types, confusing matters further. But generally it manifests as a grapefruit-sized sphere of light moving slowly through the air which may end by fizzling out or exploding…Koloc's insight was that, under the right conditions, a donut-shaped mass of moving plasma would generate the required fields for containment itself. No Tokomak would be required for this "plasmoid," which would be completely stable and self-sustaining. It is a very close equivalent of the smoke ring -- another type of dynamic "vortex ring," which remains stable over a period of time…Koloc also theorized that if a donut-shaped plasmoid was created accidentally -- say, during a lightning strike -- it would remain stable for a period of seconds of minutes. This he believes is the explanation for ball lightning…the USAF’s Phillips Laboratory examined a very similar concept in 1993. Again, this involved accelerating a donut-shaped mass of plasma to high speed as an anti-missile weapon in a project called Magnetically Accelerated Ring to Achieve Ultra-high Directed Energy and Radiation, or MARAUDER. Based on the Air Force's awesome Shiva Star power system, experiments spat out plasmoids at ultra-high speed that were expected to reach 3,000 kilometers a second by 1995. But nothing was published after 1993, and MARAUDER was classified, disappearing into the black world of secret programs…”

25. The Netbook Effect http://www.wired.com/gadgets/wireless/magazine/17-03/mf_netbooks “…Mary Lou Jepsen didn't set out to invent the netbook and turn the computer industry upside down. She was just trying to create a supercheap laptop. In 2005, Jepsen, a pioneering LCD screen designer, was tapped to lead the development of the machine that would become known as One Laptop per Child…To build the laptop, dubbed the XO-1, One Laptop per Child hired the Taiwanese firm Quanta. It's hardly a household name, but Quanta is the largest laptop manufacturer in the world. Odds are that parts of the machine on your desk, whether it's from Apple, Dell, or Hewlett-Packard, were made by Quanta—possibly even designed by Quanta. Like most Taiwanese computermakers, it employs some of the sharpest engineers on the planet…Inspired (or perhaps a bit scared) by the OLPC project, Asustek—Quanta's archrival in Taiwan and the world's seventh-largest notebook maker—began crafting its own inexpensive, low-performance computer. It, too, would be built cheaply using Linux, flash memory, and a tiny 7-inch screen. It had no DVD drive and wasn't potent enough to run programs like Photoshop. Indeed, Asustek intended it mainly just for checking email and surfing the Web. Their customers, they figured, would be children, seniors, and the emerging middle class in India or China who can't afford a full $1,000 laptop. What happened was something entirely different. When Asustek launched the Eee PC in fall 2007, it sold out the entire 350,000-unit inventory in a few months. Eee PCs weren't bought by people in poor countries but by middle-class consumers in western Europe and the US, people who wanted a second laptop…All of which is, when you think about it, incredibly weird. Netbooks violate all the laws of the computer hardware business…”

26. Citrix Offers Free XenServer, Embraces Microsoft Hyper-V http://www.crn.com/software/214502446 Citrix is looking to undercut VMware's huge share of the server virtualization software market by offering its XenServer technology free of charge and by releasing its new Citrix Essentials technology to manage virtual servers created with both XenServer and Microsoft's Hyper-V…For Citrix, the revenue opportunity from a free XenServer is selling its new Citrix Essentials tool, which manages virtual servers created with either XenServer or Hyper-V…”

Leisure & Entertainment

27. The 20 Best Free PC Games http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0%2C2845%2C2340696%2C00.asp “…Games are expensive. What are you going to do, stop playing them? Hah! You can give your credit card a break and still stay up until 2am yelling at your computer monitor if you just know where to find all the best free PC games…There are more lame flash games out there than you could possibly catalogue, and even a few really great ones…What follows are some of the best free PC games you can get online…”

28. Who should buy the Nintendo DSi and who shouldn't http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10168665-1.html “…DSi takes with it most of the features the DS Lite had to offer, but adds new multimedia capabilities. The DSi has been on sale in Japan…and has already sold well over an astonishing 1 million units…Nintendo has announced that the DSi will go on sale April 5 in North America…the new DSi…screens are a quarter of an inch larger. The DSi hardware also actually eliminates the Game Boy Advance slot found on the Lite, so you won't be able to play older Game Boy Advance games or DS titles that make use of the port…DSi does introduce is an SD card slot, two 0.3 megapixel cameras, and a brand new menu system. The new upgradeable firmware will be exclusive to the DSi and offers a DSi Shop online store, photo editor, music player (sorry MP3 fans, it only supports AAC files), audio recorder, and PictoChat…DSi also features speedier hardware than its predecessors--its main processor doubles the speed of the DS Lite's and has four times the RAM, as well…What we do know is that the DSi's battery life won't last as long as the DS Lite's…We don't think the feature set of the new DSi is worth the price if you already own a DS Lite. (Don't forget, the new DSi is $40 more than the current DS Lite.) We just don't see the DSi as being a legitimate music player or photo editor…if you've yet to hop aboard the Nintendo DS train, there really isn't a better time to get on than right now…If you're an owner of the original "fat" DS and Game Boy Advance compatibility isn't a deal-breaker for you, we fully endorse the step-up to the DSi…”

29. NASA Creating Online Multiplayer Video Game http://www.space.com/entertainment/090219-nasa-mmo.html “…NASA plans to let Virtual Heroes, Project Whitecard and Information in Place take the lead in creating a game that emphasizes fun first and foremost. The game community sent in 800 pages worth of responses to NASA's initial outreach on developing an MMO. "The single biggest point that was pushed forward by the game community was that you have to let game design lead the development…It's easy to build a game that's no fun. It's hard to build a game that's successful and fun." A playable demo of the game is slated for release before the end of the year, based on a tech demo that uses Epic's Unreal Engine 3. Players will get to roam around in a multiplayer experience focused on moon base operations…We've had to create a new genre of gameplay, creating what we call first person exploration," said Jerry Heneghan, founder and CEO of Virtual Heroes…”

30. InstantAction enables 3-D games in web browsers http://tinyurl.com/aqew82 (VentureBeat) “…InstantAction is announcing today the formal launch of its site that lets gamers play 3-D games in a web browser. The site will have nine games that are available for free at the outset, with a half-dozen more games coming soon. The Eugene, Ore.-based company, which is owned by Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp, says it can convert almost any game to run in a web browser…”

Economy and Technology

31. Stimulus Big Winner: Battery Manufacturing http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/22188/ “…the Congressional stimulus bill could help jump-start a new, multibillion-dollar industry in the United States for manufacturing advanced batteries for hybrids and electric vehicles and for storing energy from the electrical grid to enable the widespread use of renewable energy. The nearly $790 billion economic stimulus legislation contains tens of billions of dollars in loans, grants, and tax incentives for advanced battery research and manufacturing, as well as incentives for plug-in hybrids and improvements to the electrical grid, which could help create a market for these batteries…”

32. Intel takes Nvidia to court http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-10166684-92.html “…Intel has sued Nvidia over the latter's right to create and sell motherboard chipsets that support Intel's Nehalem (aka Core i7) class of desktop processors…the filing…is actually a request for an injunction to prevent Nvidia from manufacturing a Nehalem chipset. We have a cross-licensing agreement with Intel, entered into about four and a half years ago. Intel is now basically saying the cross-license agreement doesn't apply to future bus interfaces, specifically DMI, (the direct media interface Intel uses to link the Nehalem CPU to a system's memory, a new feature for Nehalem chipsets). Intel has now filed an injunction against us, basically trying to stop us from innovating on DMI…The PC has become a GPU-based platform as much as a CPU-based platform, and Intel is trying to delay that inevitable shift. They're trying to do everything they can to slow that down and it's because they recognize the importance of the GPU…”

33. Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0 http://tinyurl.com/cvfcdp (EastBayExpress) “…This wasn't your average sales pitch. At least, not the kind that John, an East Bay restaurateur, was used to. He was familiar with Yelp.com, the popular San Francisco-based web site in which any person can write a review about nearly any business. John's restaurant has more than one hundred reviews, and averages a healthy 3.5-star rating. But when John asked Mike what he could do about his bad reviews, he recalls the sales rep responding: "We can move them. Well, for $299 a month." John couldn't believe what the guy was offering. It seemed wrong…John may sound paranoid, but he's got company. During interviews with dozens of business owners over a span of several months, six people told this newspaper that Yelp sales representatives promised to move or remove negative reviews if their business would advertise. In another six instances, positive reviews disappeared — or negative ones appeared — after owners declined to advertise…Many business owners, like John, feel so threatened by Yelp's power to harm their business that they declined to be interviewed unless their identities were concealed…Several business owners likened Yelp to the Mafia, and one said she feared its retaliation…”

34. Don't Trust Yelp (Or Anyone Else) With Your Online Reputation http://tinyurl.com/dccpuw (Yahoo) “…Is Yelp using negative user reviews to coerce small businesses into buying its advertising?...Yelp is accused of offering to move negative reviews and replace them with positive reviews, for a $299-a-month fee…How would a reader know whether Yelp is cooking reviews?...I have no way to know whether the allegations against Yelp are true…My bet is the paid top reviews are mostly, truth be known, advertiser written. And who could blame a small business person for gaming a system that’s so ripe for being gamed? All user-generated review content on the Internet should be considered suspect. It can be difficult or impossible to know how the content is generated and by whom. Or how the publisher manipulates the content to meet its sales goals. Even though users aren’t paying to read Yelp’s opinions, this case reminds us that, even when something’s free, buyers should still beware…”

35. Why the Smart VCs Are Boarding their Jets http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/20/why-the-smart-vcs-are-boarding-their-jets/ “…if you want to cover startups well…You have to distill between the pioneer money and the lemming money. By the time the lemming money is investing, the story has been told, and the pioneers have already picked their bets…According to new numbers by Dow Jones VentureSource, venture capital investment fell in the United States last year but rose in China, India and Israel despite increased economic and political turmoil in those regions…all three of my litmus tests support the theory that…smart money is doubling down on emerging markets…We think of a VC’s job as investing in high tech—but really, it’s about investing in high growth…venture capital is at heart a home run business. And most of the sectors where VCs have traditionally gotten the biggest home runs have simply matured: Chips, computers, software, telecom, Internet…Compare that to places like India, China and even Central Africa where incomes are rising, populations are growing and nearly everything is a growth industry. Trucking, logistics, coffee shops—and yes, some Internet and tech companies too. Sure, it’s fraught with its own risk, whether it’s ethical quandaries of whether to bribe public officials, language and cultural barriers, immature capital markets or just the grind of investing halfway around the world. But venture investors are supposed to take risk. They are supposed to be pioneers. If it were easy, there wouldn’t be the promise of 10x returns…”

36. Intuit Defends Its Threatening Letter to Mint.com http://tinyurl.com/ahdwf5 (WSJ) “…A letter sent to Mint CEO Aaron Patzer from Intuit assistant general counsel Liza Emin Levitt wound up getting posted on TechCrunch, and it makes Intuit appear to be a little insecure. Intuit, the company behind financial planning software Quicken, requested that Mint provide “substantiation and evidence” for its perceived drastic jump in users to more than 850,000 at the end of January 2009 from around 600,000 toward the end of November 2008, and wrote that “all advertising claims must be verified and substantiated before they are used in advertising…Which begs the question–is it normal behavior for one company to write a formal legal letter to another, demanding that it verify its data? And in particular, what about the time limit Intuit posed at the end of the letter, which said, “Please respond to this letter with the requested substantiation before February 6, 2009.” Or else what? Intuit will ask Mint to meet it behind the bleachers after school?…”

Civilian Aerospace

37. Skylon Rocketplane http://tinyurl.com/bqx2ar (Fast Company) A million Euros of funding (around $1.25 million U.S.) has just been awarded to Reaction Engines Ltd. to develop a radical kind of space launcher known as the Skylon…The key to the design is a technology dubbed Sabre, a hybrid engine of a different kidney. In "aircraft mode" it inhales air like a normal jet engine, but the air is super-cooled by a heat-exchanger and then burned in a rocket engine with hydrogen fuel. When the Skylon reaches the vacuum of space, the air intakes are closed off, and the engine reconfigures itself to burn stored liquid oxygen and hydrogen like a conventional liquid-fueled rocket…The aim of the project is to divide the typical cost per kilo of launching a payload by ten. And that would revolutionize the satellite launching business as well as space travel…”

38. CO2 satellite launch failure on Orbital Sciences rocket http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7907570.stm “…the fairing - the part of the rocket which covers the satellite on top of the launcher - had failed to separate properly…The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) was intended to help pinpoint the key locations on our planet's surface where the gas is being emitted and absorbed. The $270m mission was launched on a Taurus XL - the smallest ground-launched rocket currently in use by the US space agency. This type of rocket has flown eight times, with two failures including this launch…Scientists had hoped the OCO mission would improve models of the Earth's climate and help researchers determine where the greenhouse gas is coming from and how much is being absorbed by forests and oceans…The four-stage Taurus XL rocket is manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation…”

39. Space Firm: New Rocket Costs, Economy http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/090223-sn-orbital-economy.html Orbital Sciences Corp. warned investors on Feb. 19 that the company's spending on the new Taurus 2 rocket and Cygnus cargo-supply vehicle it is building to service the International Space Station will continue as a drag on profit in 2009…Orbital is in the midst of one of the most aggressive hiring programs in the space industry. The company increased its headcount by 600 in 2008, including 135 in the last three months of the year, and the work force now totals about 3,600, Chief Operating Officer J.R. Thompson said. Orbital plans to add 350-400 new employees in 2009, he said…Orbital booked roughly $2 billion in Taurus 2 and Cygnus orders from NASA in late 2008 as part of a Commercial Resupply Services contract to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station. Orbital is facing a delay in revenue from the contract following a bid protest by Planetspace Inc., a Chicago-based firm that submitted a cargo-resupply proposal that scored higher and cost less than Orbital's…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

40. Adobe: The GPU is not a universal app accelerator http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/41486/140/ “…Photoshop CS4…a milestone release for the entire software industry as it is the first major complex application that introduced general purpose (GP) GPU acceleration to its users…this new feature may be exciting or disappointing. The bad news was that only canvas rotation and zooming supported GPU acceleration…the good news was that we saw GPGPU acceleration in a commercial application, giving it more horsepower to deal with huge images…time to talk to Adobe’s Photoshop product manager John Nack, along with software engineering lead Russell Williams, about the experiences they had with GPGPU acceleration and about the challenges implementing what GPUs are really good at -- parallel number crunching…in order to take advantage of the GPU, data has to be shipped to a graphics card the rate of about 3 GB/s. In general computations, the data has to be shipped back at a rate of about 600 MB/s. Imagine the massive amounts of data that large images can create and it quickly becomes apparent that there can be substantial delays -- especially if you cannot compute data while other data is being shipped…this highlights limitations in future GPGPU-accelerated applications, such as Apple's well-touted Mac OS X Snow Leopard. If Apple can’t change the hardware interface, their GPGPU acceleration will also be limited…”

41. ASRock X58 SuperComputer http://tinyurl.com/djtbtn (TrustedReviews) “…The ASRock X58 SuperComputer motherboard gets its name from the Nvidia Tesla Personal Supercomputer which promises to bring super computing to the desktop. The idea is that you load up a PC with an epic amount of graphics power using three Tesla C1060 cards to shift the computing load from your CPU to the GPUs. In essence a C1060 is a GTX 280 with 4GB of GDDR3 memory and no graphics outputs. You also need to include a fourth graphics card in the shape of a Quadro so you have somewhere to connect your displays et voila you have your own Super Computer. The key features that you need in a motherboard when building an Nvidia Tesla are support for four widely spaced PCI Express 2.0 graphics slots so the ASRock SuperComputer fits the bill admirably…”



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