2009/07/28

NEW NET Issues List for 28 Jul 2009

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 28 July 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. The Coming Upstream Revolution. And We Need It http://gigaom.com/2009/07/24/you-stream-i-stream-we-all-stream-upstream/ “…Most consumers pay some attention to their downstream bandwidth speeds, which can affect how quickly iTunes files finish downloading or the quality of movie streaming, but upstream speeds have never been as big of an issue. That’s clearly starting to change…Demand for upstream bandwidth is growing. Floyd Wagoner, a director of marketing and communications for Motorola Access Networks Solutions, said in an interview today that a U.S. cable provider has seen peak upstream bandwidth use increase by 24 percent from 2007 to 2008. The same provider saw average upstream bandwidth use increase by 17 percent…We’ve pointed out how online video uploads and file storage in the cloud are boosting our desire for faster upstream speeds and our use of upstream bandwidth…And don’t forget about online storage services like Mozy or Carbonite, which are also growing…will have big implications for the way ISPs think about their networks. You can place restrictions and caps on the few, but if this is a widespread movement of people putting their lives online (and I think it is) then ISPs are going to have to start pushing the limits on upstream speeds and capacity…”

2. Xoopit + Yahoo! Mail = Moving beyond that massive digital shoebox http://ycorpblog.com/2009/07/22/xoopit-yahoo-mail-moving-beyond-that-massive-digital-shoebox/ “…Enter Xoopit, which Yahoo! signed an agreement to acquire today. Their name may sound familiar – they won our Open Hack Day last fall and we teamed with them in December to launch the “My Photos” app in Yahoo! Mail…it’s the most popular third party app in Yahoo! Mail…With the integration of Xoopit’s platform technology and capabilities, the task of sending photos via email will be as easy as it should be and sharing photo albums with friends and family members will also be a cinch. You’ll be able to share your pictures among a group of friends or family like never before – combining pictures from numerous sources into a single album for a private group to view. And soon your inbox will become an organized photo index as well. Just imagine having a tool that collects all the photos you’ve sent and received over the years into that scrapbook you’ve never had time to assemble. Xoopit will bring phenomenal photo organization, improved photo sharing, and the serendipity of discovering forgotten photos…”

3. HP researchers develop browser-based darknet http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-10295761-83.html “…Darknets are encrypted peer-to-peer networks normally used to communicate files between closed groups of people. Most darknets require a certain level of technological literacy to set up and maintain, including taking care of the necessary servers. However, HP researchers Billy Hoffman and Matt Wood plan next week to demonstrate a browser-based darknet called "Veiled," which they claim requires little proficiency to set up and run. "This will really lower the barriers to participation," Wood told ZDNet UK. "If you want to create a darknet, you can send an encrypted e-mail saying, 'Here's the URL.' When (the recipient visits) the Web site, the browser can just get (the darknet application) going."…Browsers with HTML 5 support--such as recent versions of Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer--allow files to be stored "persistently" on the client, for working on them when offline. This feature, coupled with the distributed grid-computing nature of a darknet, means files can be effectively uploaded in perpetuity, even when the initial browser has been shut down…"One of the benefits of a darknet is that they are distributed," said Wood. "To destroy it, you would have to take down all of the clients, because if one server gets compromised, you just shift to a different server…”

4. Netflix Prize Leaders One-Upped With One Day Remaining http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/07/25/netflix-prize-leaders-one-upped-with-one-day-remaining/ “…a team of computer scientists had finally managed to improve Netflix’s recommendation algorithm by 10%, making them eligible to win the $1 million Netflix Prize, a competition that began back in 2006. The team, BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos, is composed of two former leaders in the competition who banded together in attempt to finally break the 10% barrier and managed to succeed with a score of 10.08%. However, their announcement kicked off a 30 day window where other teams were invited to make their final submissions and potentially take the prize. Tonight, with just one day remaining, a team called The Ensemble has managed to overtake BellKor with a score of 10.09%…”

5. AT&T said to block 4chan http://gigaom.com/2009/07/27/att-4chan-blocked-over-ddos-not-content/ AT&T said it blocked one section of the site to control a distributed-denial-of-service attack that was affecting an unnamed AT&T customer. 4Chan is, for lack of a better term, the “Wild West” of the Internet…Net neutrality is all well and good, but when one particular server is negatively impacting other users, AT&T is obligated to respond. Not everyone jumped on the blame AT&T bandwagon, however. Late last night, Shon Elliott from unWired Broadband wrote on the North American Network Operators Group mailing list: There have been a lot of customers on our network who were complaining about ACK scan reports coming from 207.126.64.181. We had no choice but to block that single IP until the attacks let up. It was a decision I made with the gentleman that owns the colo facility currently hosts 4chan [sic]. There was no other way around it. I’m sure AT&T is probably blocking it for the same reason. 4chan has been under attack for over 3 weeks, the attacks filling up an entire GigE. If you want to blame anyone, blame the script kiddies who pull this kind of stunt…”

6. Ann Arbor News abandons print, goes online http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20090723/tc_afp/usmedianewspapersindustryinternetannarbor The Ann Arbor News published its final edition on Thursday, the latest US newspaper to abandon print for an online future. "Farewell, Ann Arbor," read a banner headline on the last edition of the 174-year-old daily, the only newspaper in the town in the northern state of Michigan. The closure of the Ann Arbor News makes the city, which has a population of nearly 115,000 and is home to the University of Michigan, one of the largest in the United States without a daily newspaper…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

7. Warner Busts Out Night Vision Goggles to Foil Potter Pirates http://newteevee.com/2009/07/25/warner-busts-out-night-vision-goggles-to-foil-potter-pirates/ “…Warner Bros. Pictures is resorting to drastic measures to prevent unauthorized video recordings of its newest Harry Potter epic. Security guards in Germany have been using night vision goggles in theaters running Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to find camcorders that might be otherwise hard to spot once the theater lights are off…UK audiences were subjected to a similar treatment in 2004 to prevent the recording of The Prisoner of Azkaban. The measures caused quite a stir back then, and German Potter fans and privacy advocates are equally upset this time around. German officials have already announced that they plan to investigate Warner’s measures…Warner has since officially acknowledged the use of the surveillance gear. The company said that it was restricted to 10 theaters that have been known to be visited by pirates armed with camcorders before…”

8. Hacker Says iPhone 3GS Encryption Is ‘Useless’ for Businesses http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/07/iphone-encryption/ “…Apple claims that hundreds of thousands of iPhones are being used by corporations and government agencies. What it won’t tell you is that the supposedly enterprise-friendly encryption included with the iPhone 3GS is so weak it can be cracked in two minutes with a few pieces of readily available freeware. “It is kind of like storing all your secret messages right next to the secret decoder ring,” said Jonathan Zdziarski, an iPhone developer and a hacker who teaches forensics courses on recovering data from iPhones…”

9. UAE Carrier's Blackberry Update Was Spyware http://tech.yahoo.com/news/pcworld/20090722/tc_pcworld/rimuaecarriersblackberryupdatewasspyware “…Blackberry firmware update pushed out to subscribers of United Arab Emirates carrier Etisalat contained spyware…The update was supposed to improve Blackberry performance, but after some investigation, technical users reported that it actually contained software that could spy on users activities…Independent sources have concluded that the Etisalat update is not designed to improve performance of your BlackBerry Handheld, but rather to send received messages back to a central server…a telecommunications surveillance application that was designed and developed by SS8…a Milpitas, California, company that develops communications surveillance products for law enforcement…Etisalat has described the problem as a "slight technical fault,"…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

10. How Palm Re-Enabled iTunes Sync http://www.precentral.net/how-palm-re-enabled-itunes-sync “…Palm has released webOS 1.1, which…re-enables Palm media sync…Palm believes that openness and interoperability offer better experiences for users by allowing them the freedom to use the content they own without interference across devices and services, so on behalf of consumers, we have notified the USB Implementers Forum [USB-IF] of what we believe is improper use of the Vendor ID number by another member. When Apple updated iTunes to 8.2.1 and blocked the Pre, presumably they did so by telling iTunes to block out any Vendor IDs besides Apple's…Palm thinks it's improper for iTunes to only allow connectivity with certain Vendor IDs. Since they feel they're in the right there, I guess they don't mind wading into the gray area of spoofing another company's USB Vendor ID…”

11. Pedal power for Kenya's mobiles http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8166196.stm Two Kenyan students are hoping to market a device that allows bicycle riders to charge their mobile phones…People have to travel great distances to shops where they are charged $2 a time to power their phone, usually from a car battery or solar panel…It is estimated that some 17.5 million people out of Kenya's 38.5 million population own a mobile handset - up from 200,000 in 2000…The two electrical engineering students from Nairobi University have been working on their own invention, which they are selling for 350 Kenyan shillings ($4.50) each…In Kenya, bicycles are sold with a dynamo to be attached to the back wheel to power the lights. The dynamo lead can be switched to plug into the charger instead, they explained. Mr Katana explained it takes an hour of pedalling to fully charge a phone, about the same time it would if it were plugged into the mains electricity…”

12. Laptop Prices Dip Under $300 in the US http://tech.yahoo.com/news/pcworld/20090724/tc_pcworld/laptoppricesdipunder300intheus Laptops are closing the price gap on less-powerful netbooks, with retailers delivering fully equipped systems for under US$300 as part of promotional offers. Wal-Mart will start offering limited quantities of a fully loaded Compaq laptop for $298 starting July 26, according to an entry on Wal-Mart's Checkoutblog site. The laptop being offered is a Compaq Presario CQ60-419WM from Hewlett-Packard, which is powered by Advanced Micro Devices' Sempron SI-42 processor running at 2.1GHz. The laptop comes with Windows Vista and includes a 15.6-inch screen, 3GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive and Nvidia's GeForce 8200M integrated graphics. It also includes a DVD-RW drive, according to specifications provided by HP. For such a low price, the laptop is packed with features and could run out of stock quickly…”

13. Samsung Confirms It’s Working on NVIDIA Tegra Phone http://blog.laptopmag.com/samsung-confirms-its-working-on-nvidia-tegra-phone “…Samsung is working with NVIDIA’s Tegra processor in an upcoming device…Other than a confirmation we don’t have any release date or pricing, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a $199 Tegra phone from Samsung in the U.S.…”

14. Verizon to offer Palm Pre in early 2010 http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-10296775-94.html “…Verizon Wireless…has confirmed it will be getting the Palm Pre early next year…”

15. Apple Growing Rotten To Core: Official Google Voice App Blocked http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/07/27/apple-is-growing-rotten-to-the-core-and-its-likely-atts-fault/ “…Apple had begun to pull all Google Voice-enabled applications from the App Store, citing the fact that they “duplicate features that come with the iPhone”. Now comes even worse news: we’ve learned that Apple has blocked Google’s official Google Voice application itself from the App Store. In other words, Google Voice — one of the best things to happen to telephony services in a very long time — will have no presence at all on the App Store. If there’s ever been a time to be furious with Apple, now is it…it’s not hard to guess who’s behind the restriction: our old friend AT&T. Google Voice scares the carriers. It allows users to send free SMS messages and get cheap long-distance over Google Voice’s lines…”

Open Source

16. PortableApps Delivers Enhanced Beta of its Open Source App Suite http://ostatic.com/blog/portableapps-delivers-enhanced-beta-of-its-open-source-app-suite#buzz PortableApps has issued a new beta version of its Platform 2.0 release, downloadable here…It’s especially popular as a way to store many useful applications on a pocketable drive, but many netbook owners who don't want to run bloated applications use the small-footprint apps in the PortableApps suite. The open source applications that you get are top-notch, and the new upgrade to the suite includes many meaningful enhancements…”

17. Moblin - the Web2.0 OS http://software.intel.com/en-us/blogs/2009/07/24/moblin-the-web20-os-and-on-getting-heckled/ “…I touched on some of the high points of what makes Moblin great as an OS design *for* netbooks…Moblin in its current form has a goal to boot in 8 seconds from when the BIOS finishes its work to the moment the CPU and Disk are truly idle and able to do useful work…”

18. Air Cursor Software Coming for Windows, Linux http://tech.yahoo.com/news/pcworld/20090722/tc_pcworld/aircursorsoftwarecomingforwindowslinux A Web cam and Air Cursor software from Taiwan's publicly funded Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) is all a user will need to control their computer cursor with simple hand gestures in the air. ITRI developed the software to work with common computer hardware so people won't have to buy anything new to get set up…”

SkyNet

19. 100,000 users to get Google Wave this fall http://news.cnet.com/8301-27076_3-10291968-248.html “...While about 6,000 developers got their hands on Wave Monday, a post on the Google Wave developer blog says the company isn't planning to open it up to everyday users until September 30th. At that time, some 100,000 users will be let into the program. To be a part of that first run, users will have had to have signed up to use the service on Google's invite page…Wave is Google's re-imagining of Web e-mail…It blends live chat and e-mail in one service…”

20. Google's Android To Invade Homes http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/22/google-android-homes-technology-wireless-google.html “…Touch Revolution says a string of well-known companies will introduce a range of Android-powered household gadgets before the end of the year. The devices will fall into three basic categories: home control devices, media control devices and home phones, says Bill Brown, Touch Revolution's vice president of marketing. All the gadgets will feature touch-screens in sizes ranging from 4.3 to 10 inches, support Android as an operating system, and connect to the Web through wi-fi or wired Ethernet…”

21. Google Expert Tips: How to Find Anything Fast http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9135728/Google_Expert_Tips_How_to_Find_Anything_Fast “…The tips and tricks below will help you improve the precision of the search results Google provides--and use far fewer keystrokes to get them. Get to know search operators: Google made its name by delivering powerful search results in response to queries of any level of sophistication, but learning to use Google's search operators can really hone your Google-fu. The Google Help Cheat Sheet rounds up some of the finest…”

General Technology

22. Windows 7 Has Been Released to Manufacturing http://windowsteamblog.com/blogs/windows7/archive/2009/07/22/windows-7-has-been-released-to-manufacturing.aspx “…Windows 7 has RTM’d…Today after all the validation checks were met, we signed off and declared build 7600 as RTM [Windows 7 will be in retail stores and shipping on new PCs starting October 22nd]…”

23. Wireless power system shown off http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8165928.stm “…Eric Giler, chief executive of US firm Witricity, showed mobile phones and televisions charging wirelessly at the TED Global conference in Oxford. He said the system could replace the miles of expensive power cables and billions of disposable batteries…The system is based on work by physicist Marin Soljacic at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It exploits "resonance", whereby energy transfer is markedly more efficient when a certain frequency is applied. When two objects have the same resonant frequency, they exchange energy strongly without having an effect on other, surrounding objects…”

24. Samsung Unveils Gesture-Sensing Hologram http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/cliff-kuang/design-innovation/samsung-invents-worlds-first-gesture-sensing-hologram “…Samsung has been noisily touting its new smartphone, the JET. But they're actually somehow managed to upstage themselves: During the product launches in London, Dubai, and Singapore, they've been presenting the phone's capabilities using a "gesture-sensing hologram."…”

25. Western Digital Rolls Out First 1TB Laptop HHD http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10296034-1.html “…Western Digital announced Monday two laptop drives that offer "extreme" amounts of storage: the Scorpio Blue 1TB and the Scorpio Blue 750GB. Prior to this announcement, the largest laptop hard drive available was 500GB. Currently, the largest desktop hard drive on the market is 2TB. The Scorpio Blue 1TB drive, though half the capacity, is still very impressive, considering the fact that a 2.5-inch laptop drive is much smaller than a 3.5-inch desktop drive. The new WD laptop drives are the first that use 333GB per platter technology…”

Leisure & Entertainment

26. Artists Find Backers as Labels Wane http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/technology/internet/22music.html “…with the structure of the music business shifting radically, some industry iconoclasts are sidestepping the music giants and inventing new ways for artists to make and market their music — without ever signing a traditional recording contract. The latest effort comes from Brian Message, manager of the alternative band Radiohead…His venture, called Polyphonic, which was announced this month, will look to invest a few hundred thousand dollars in new and rising artists who are not signed to record deals and then help them create their own direct links to audiences over the Internet…in the last few years marquee musicians like Trent Reznor, the Beastie Boys and Barenaked Ladies have created their own artist-run labels and reaped significant rewards by keeping a larger share of their revenue. Under the Polyphonic model, bands that receive investments from the firm will operate like start-up companies, recording their own music and choosing outside contractors to handle their publicity, merchandise and touring. Instead of receiving an advance and then possibly reaping royalties later if they have a hit, musicians will share in all the profits from their music and touring. In another departure from tradition in the music business, they will also maintain ownership of their own copyrights and master recordings — meaning they and their heirs can keep earning money from their music…”

27. Nintendo doubles the fun in `Wii Sports Resort' http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090724/ap_en_ot/us_game_review_wii_sports_resort “…In November 2006, "Wii Sports" — the software that's packaged with Nintendo's Wii — introduced the U.S. audience to a new way to play…With more than 45 million copies in circulation, "Wii Sports" has probably been played by more people than any game in history. A subsequent minigame collection, "Wii Play," sold 23 million copies. So Nintendo has high expectations for "Wii Sports Resort"…boosting the number of events from five to 12. The three sports that have returned (golf and bowling from "Wii Sports," table tennis from "Wii Play") are sharper, thanks to the new Wii MotionPlus accessory…The package comes with one MotionPlus device, which attaches to one end of the Wii remote and gives it more precise control…The most engrossing of the new events is archery…Frisbee may be the most challenging entry…”

28. Netflix 2Q tops expectations http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090724/ap_on_hi_te/us_earns_netflix “…Netflix Inc.'s second-quarter profit shot past analyst expectations, following a familiar script as recession-weary consumers flocked to its DVD-by-mail and Internet streaming service. The performance announced Thursday is the latest evidence that a bad economy is good for Netflix because it offers low-cost home entertainment at a time when more people are pinching pennies…”

29. MySpace + Yahoo Games = A New Online Gaming Powerhouse? http://paidcontent.org/article/419-could-myspace-yahoo-games-a-new-online-gaming-powerhouse/ “…If Yahoo Games is really on the block, it’s 19.2 million monthly unique visitors could be a huge source of new traffic for MySpace—since visits to its own games portal (and the network as a whole) have trended downward over the past year. Combined, Yahoo Games and MySpace Games would attract roughly 19.7 million unique visitors (per comScore)—moving it just ahead of EA with 19.6 million uniques. But MySpace would need to get more than just traffic out of the deal for it to be lucrative…”

Economy and Technology

30. Microsoft Misses Earnings http://searchengineland.com/microsoft-misses-earnings-yahoo-board-meets-about-potential-microsoft-search-deal-22952 Microsoft reported worse-than-expected earnings yesterday…Operating income, net income…for the quarter were $3.99 billion, $3.05 billion…which represented declines of 30%, 29%...respectively, when compared with the prior year period. For the full fiscal year revenues were $58.44 billion, a 3 percent decline from fiscal 2008 and the first time that sales had declined in the company’s more than 30 year history. The decline was blamed on the economy, among other factors, but also the rise of netbooks. According to Microsoft netbooks have a roughly 11 percent share of the PC market. Microsoft’s OS dominates there but margins are much smaller. Online business services, which houses Microsoft’s various online and internet ad businesses saw revenues of $731 million in the quarter. That compares with $837 million a year ago, a 13 percent decline. The unit lost $732 million in the quarter (compared with $485 in the same period last year) and for the full fiscal year there was a loss of $2.25 billion…”

31. Is the party over for Microsoft? http://www.marketwatch.com/story/is-the-party-over-for-microsoft-2009-07-24 Everyone knew the day would come when the fortunes of Microsoft Corp. would reverse. The company might now be in actual decline…Microsoft is a software company. It has been distracted too easily by the success of others in essentially unrelated fields. Here are but a few examples…Years ago in the pre-Internet era, AOL was the talk of the town, so Microsoft had to copy it with MSN. No money was made…Netscape was the rage for a while, so Microsoft threw together a browser and got in that business. The browser was given away for free. No money was made; the strategy got the company in trouble with government trustbusters…During the early days of the Internet, new online publications appeared. Microsoft decided to become a publisher too, rolling out a slew of online properties including a computer magazine and a women's magazine. They were all folded…Teddy Ruxpin became a hot toy. Microsoft rolled out a couple of robotic plush toys, including the creepy Barney the Dinosaur who sang "I love you and you love me." The company soon lost interest and dropped the whole thing…Yahoo and Google showed that a search engine could be a money maker, so Microsoft copied that idea; it now has Bing…Apple rolled out a MP3 player, the iPod. Microsoft came up with its own MP3 player, the Zune…This is a company that began making development tools for programmers, beginning with a programming language. Does anyone see a pattern here…”

32. Starbucks offers first peek at its not-a-Starbucks café http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2009527518_starbucks24.html?cmpid=2628 “…The Starbucks that isn't a Starbucks — officially called 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea — opens Friday morning…15th Avenue Coffee and Tea is the latest in a string of stores that Starbucks has remodeled in a more rustic style using recycled materials…The test stores will sell a rotating menu of beer…and wine…along with coffees, teas and food not found at most Starbucks locations…Die-hard Frappuccino fans will have to go elsewhere, because 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea will not serve those…15th Avenue's ambience is similar to…the rustic, old-time coffeehouse vibe of its oldest existing store inside the Market. The 15th Avenue store's community table, which easily fits 10 to 12 people, has a surface that came from a wooden ship…”

33. Apple forces Microsoft to change Laptop Hunter ad http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-10295057-71.html “…according to AdAge Microsoft has actually made changes to one of the Laptop Hunter ads. It's the one featuring Lauren, the aspiring law student, and her mom, who claimed that Lauren usually gets what she wants. In the original version of the ad, Lauren, who wants to spend a maximum of $1,700 on her computing dreams, offered this competing statement: "This Mac is $2,000, and that's before adding anything."…A Microsoft representative told AdAge: "We slightly adjusted the ads to reflect the updated pricing of the Mac laptop shown in the TV advertisement. This does not change the focus of the campaign, which is to showcase the value and choice of the PC…”

Civilian Aerospace

34. How to glue together a lighter spacecraft http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327185.400-how-to-glue-together-a-lighter-spacecraft.html “…Burt Rutan, the aerospace pioneer whose firm Scaled Composites is designing civilian suborbital spacecraft for Virgin Galactic, is using an alternative technique to secure the fuel tanks in order to keep the weight of the space plane down. Rutan says the use of heavy mountings can be avoided completely by careful design of the tank and fuselage. His idea, described in a US patent granted last month, is to glue the fuel tanks to the inside of the craft…with a superstrong industrial adhesive…”

35. XCOR Aerospace Tests Lynx Aerodynamic Design http://www.xcor.com/press-releases/2009/09-07-24_XCOR_tests_lynx_aerodynamics_in_USAF_wind_tunnel.html XCOR Aerospace, Inc., announced today that it has finished a series of wind tunnel tests of the aerodynamic design of its Lynx suborbital launch vehicle. The tests took place at the U.S. Air Force test facility located at Wright-Patterson Air Base near Dayton, OH, using an all-metal 1/16th scale model of the Lynx…“We are at a very exciting point in the Lynx program,” he said. “While we are refining the aerodynamic design, we are making progress in fabricating the Lynx’s crew cabin, testing cryogenic pumps that will be used in the propulsion system, and continuing the test program of the liquid fuel rocket engines that will propel the Lynx to the edge of space. We are making concrete progress in turning our dream of affordable space access into reality…”

36. Cirque du Soleil founder eager for space voyage http://news.cnet.com/8301-19514_3-10293956-239.html Guy Laliberté, a former street entertainer who founded the enormously successful Cirque du Soleil, says he…might try to teach his crewmates a few card tricks if he can figure out how to do it in weightlessness…Laliberté, a Canadian worth an estimated $2.5 billion, is believed to be paying upward of $35 million to visit the International Space Station as a "spaceflight participant," or space tourist…Laliberté is the founder of the One Drop Foundation, dedicated to improving water conservation. He said he plans to hold a news conference in August to discuss his "Poetic Social Mission" to the space station and to unveil its theme and objectives…”

37. Spacewalkers Add New Batteries to Space Station http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/090724-sts127-fourth-spacewalk-wrap.html “…astronauts added a fresh set of vital batteries on the International Space Station Friday…Cassidy and Marshburn sped through their battery replacement work at the left edge of the space station's main truss. The station's truss serves as its backbone and is as long as an American football field…The batteries are a critical part on the space station's solar array power grid. They store power from the solar wings when the space station is flying in darkness over the Earth's night side. There are four sets of batteries on the station, one for each pair of solar wings, but they are only designed to last 6 1/2 years. Each battery weighs about 375 pounds (170 kg) and is about the size of a small refrigerator…The batteries on the station's Port 6 truss - where Cassidy and Marshburn worked Friday - are part of the outpost's oldest solar arrays, which launched in 2000 and have been in service for nine years. So NASA wanted spacewalkers to replace them before they died. The old batteries will return to Earth aboard Endeavour next week…”

38. Wait a Bit Longer for Your Galactic Vacation http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/07/space-tourism/ “…Five years ago, there was a lot of buzz about the average person flying to the edge of space and enjoying a little weightlessness. SpaceShipOne had just claimed the Ansari X-Prize and a host of teams were touting their spacecraft development programs and talking about suborbital tourist flights from “spaceports” around the country. But in the years since, a shortage of funding has dashed the dreams of future astronauts. Several companies that promised to take us beyond atmosphere have quit the space race and others have gone quiet…Virgin is just one of the companies hoping to provide rides to space. Here’s a rundown of some of them…”

39. Our next giant leap will need private backing http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article6722405.ece “…The Moon landings came less than 70 years after the first powered flight — Orville Wright’s “brief hop” at Kitty Hawk — and only 12 years after the launch of Sputnik…The Apollo programme was a transient spin-off from the rivalry of the Cold War. The impetus was lost — a prime example of the ever widening chasm between what can be done technically and what there is a motive for doing (Concorde is another instance)…In the US, a panel of experts is advising President Obama on whether to set a goal of landing on Mars, and whether to construct a permanently manned lunar base. Such a programme would involve huge expense, and “safety culture” may make the cost prohibitive. The US public reaction to the shuttle’s safety record — two disasters, each a national trauma, in 120 flights — suggests that it is unacceptable for tax-funded projects to expose civilians even to a 2 per cent risk…To keep the costs of manned spaceflight acceptable, it must be openly accepted that it is hazardous. The first explorers venturing towards Mars would confront risks far higher than in a Shuttle flight: even “one-way tickets”. (It is astonishing that the Apollo astronauts avoided disaster. President Nixon’s speechwriters prepared a eulogy in case Armstrong was stranded on the Moon, never to return.)…Companies funded by Jeff Bezos, of Amazon, and Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal, are developing new rockets. The recent “Google prize” to launch a robotic lunar lander is engaging many ingenious inventors, and leveraging far more money than the prize itself. Potential sponsors with an eye on posterity might note that Queen Isabella is now remembered primarily for her support of Columbus…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

40. BofA’s Birnbaum Urges Wall Street to "Think Parallel" http://www.wallstreetandtech.com/it-infrastructure/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=218600457 “…Birnbaum was inspired by a realization that there are not enough skilled parallel programmers to meet the demand in industries such as Wall Street; his reading of the book Threading Building Blocks by James Reinders, Intel's chief evangelist, which instructs developers to learn to "think parallel" (in other words, understand how to write programs to perform many tasks at once, rather than one process after another); and a meeting with a high school student who took an immediate interest in parallel programming ideas, as well as Birnbaum's own conversion from serial to parallel programming, which took place about eight years ago. "It became clear to me that you need to reopen your mind in order to re-run experiments that you may have run before," he says. "Young people are going to come with open minds, they'll be willing to trying anything, they'll come up with new solutions to problems. For a lot of the big problems we have today, we need new, creative solutions." In his class today, Birnbaum notes that his students asked thoughtful, insightful questions. "They had no problem even with advanced concepts that many of them were seeing for the first time…”

41. PGI’s latest compilers aimed at x64+GPU programming http://insidehpc.com/2009/07/20/pgi-compiler-9-x64-gpu-hybrid-programming/ “…I was struck by the diversity of vendors and partners exhibiting technology based on NVIDIA’s GPUs at ISC last month in Germany. At least 19 companies were offering products that use, facilitate, or support GPUs as part of a larger solution, including everyone from OS and library providers to HPC system vendors…With companies integrating GPU hardware into their solutions, and other companies developing tools to make the GPUs themselves easier to use, GPUs are starting to benefit from a real network effect…The Portland Group, Inc — or just PGI to their friends — is a long-time provider of compilers that focus on the HPC user community. In late June they announced that version 9.0 of their compiler suite has new capabilities that enable HPC users to get at the power of GPUs without all the pain typically associated with GPU programming. While GPUs can offer significant speedups for certain classes of application over more traditional CPU-only parallel programming, they also present significant barriers to adoption. Even if an application is well-suited to the GPU model, making effective use of the added resources on a GPU can be tough. Using tools like CUDA on NVIDIA’s GPUs requires substantial effort on the part of application developers who now must explicitly manage the transfer of data to the processors of the GPU, fetching of the answer from the GPU, and restructuring of operations to take advantage of the various levels of parallel processing within the hardware (both vector and multiprocessor). OpenCL begins to address some of the concerns that developers have with CUDA in as much as OpenCL has the potential to be supported cross-platform, while CUDA is limited to NVIDIA products. However from a programming point of view OpenCL is still rather low level, requiring the developer to rewrite the computational kernel, allocate and explicitly manage device memory…”

42. NVIDIA CUDA Toolkit 2.3 Released http://www.hpcwire.com/offthewire/NVIDIA-CUDA-Toolkit-23-Released-51404032.html “…NVIDIA announced today it has released version 2.3 of the CUDA Toolkit and SDK for GPU computing. This latest release supports several significant new features that deliver a major leap forward in getting the most performance out of NVIDIA's massively parallel CUDA-enabled GPUs…”

43. Film Effects Are Battleground Between Chip Rivals http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124873282919984939.html In the film "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," the wizard Dumbledore conjures up a tornado of fire that marks a new feat in animation -- and a milestone for a breed of chips that are beginning to play broader roles in the computing world. The simulation was created by Lucasfilm Ltd.'s Industrial Lighting & Magic unit, which developed software that exploited the collective power of graphics chips from Nvidia Corp. in dozens of computer workstations. Special-effects houses ordinarily use those desktop machines to conceive and refine animation ideas, while hundreds of servers are used to render final images in a process that can take days or weeks. But creators of the latest Harry Potter installment wanted an effect that those "render farms" couldn't deliver -- fire that looked realistic, yet could be directed to swirl around the scene precisely…Those thinking of overhauling their server rooms include Scanline VFX, a German special-effects company that is known for sophisticated simulations of tidal waves and other effects involving water. Stephan Trojansky, Scanline's president, estimates that shifting to Nvidia's chips for more processing chores would allow the company to squeeze 800 processor cores in the space of 16 cores on Intel chips. "We would miss an opportunity if we don't jump on that train," Mr. Trojansky says. Another company adopting GPUs is Otoy LLC, a Los Angelesbased company that is working with AMD to assemble a system with 1,000 GPUs. Jules Orbach, Otoy's chief executive, says the system will be used to create special effects, as well as to centrally serve up videogames over the Internet…”


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