2009/08/04

NEW NET Issues List for 04 Aug 2009

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 04 August 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.

I got carried away and included more articles than usual in this week's NEW NET list, especially in the Security, Privacy & Digital Controls section (DefCon week ;-). Next week's list will be shorter...probably.

The ‘net

1. Microsoft and Yahoo Announce Search Deal http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/its_official_microsoft_and_yahoo_announce_search_deal.php “…A few months from now, Yahoo's search engine will be "powered by Bing." After months of back and forth between Microsoft and Yahoo, the two companies finally announced a deal today that will bring Microsoft's search engine to Yahoo's properties, while Yahoo will become the sales force for both companies' premium search advertisers. Barring any roadblocks from industry and government regulators, this deal will grant Microsoft an exclusive license to Yahoo's core search technologies for 10 years. Yahoo expects that this deal will increase the company's cash flow by about $275 million. At its core, this agreement means that Yahoo has given up on its search engine business…” [ http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/03/technology/companies/03yahoo.html ]

2. Seadragon.com Goes Live http://on10.net/blogs/larry/Seadragoncom-Goes-Live/ “…Huge images on the web just haven't been fun in the past. Between the downloading, the snapping from scaled to full-size, and navigating around, it's just not the experience that high def images should have. Well that's about to change. Using Seadragon, you can now point the web service to your massive image (hosted on your site or any number of services) and it will be create a Deep Zoom image that you can then share through email, Twitter, Facebook, or embed on a site…”

3. ‘Take Back the Beep’ Campaign http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/30/the-mandatory-15-second-voicemail-instructions/ “…Over the past week, in The New York Times and on my blog, I’ve been ranting about one particularly blatant money-grab by American cellphone carriers: the mandatory 15-second voicemail instructions. Suppose you call my cell to leave me a message. First you hear my own voice: “Hi, it’s David Pogue. Leave a message, and I’ll get back to you”–and THEN you hear a 15-second canned carrier message…I, the voicemailbox owner, cannot turn off this additional greeting message. You, the caller, can bypass it, but only if you know the secret keypress–and it’s different for each carrier. So you’d have to know which cellphone carrier I use, and that of every person you’ll ever call; in other words, this trick is no solution…These messages are outrageous for two reasons. First, they waste your time…Second, we’re PAYING for these messages. These little 15-second waits add up–bigtime. If Verizon’s 70 million customers leave or check messages twice a weekday, Verizon rakes in about $620 million a year…Right now, the carriers continue to enjoy their billion-dollar scam only because we’re not organized enough to do anything about it…Let’s push back, and hard. We want those time-wasting, money-leaking messages eliminated, or at least made optional…” [ http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/take-back-the-beep-part-ii/ ]

4. Gliffy Unveils the First Online Diagramming API http://www.readwriteweb.com/enterprise/2009/07/gliffy-unveils-the-first-online-diagramming-api.php “…Gliffy, one of the top Web-based diagramming tools, has released the first API for any service of its kind…Other SaaS diagram makers include Lovely Charts and Draw Anywhere, but with these latest upgrades, Gliffy's real target is desktop software like Visio and OmniGraffle…”

5. Firefox: 1 Billion Downloads, 32 Percent of the Market http://www.dailytech.com/Firefox+Hits+Landmark+1+Billion+Downloads+Seizes+32+Percent+of+the+Market/article15857.htm “…Firefox reached 1 billion downloads on Friday. The impressive figure encompasses all downloads of the browser since its release in 2004…W3Schools.com, an internet research firm, is reporting Firefox to have seized 47.9 percent of the market, jumping ahead of Internet Explorer, which it says has a combined marketshare of 39.4 percent for versions 6, 7, and 8. More conservative StatCounter, another research firm, puts Mozilla's marketshare at 32 percent, while putting Internet Explorer's at just about 60 percent. Both firms' figures are suspect due to inherent difficulties in determining true browser marketshare…W3School's analysis is mostly of tech-related websites, which are visited more by the kinds of users who would use alternative browsers at a higher rate…”

6. eBay told it can't use core Skype tech, attempts workaround http://arstechnica.com/software/news/2009/07/ebay-told-it-cant-use-core-skype-tech-attempts-workaround.ars “…eBay is developing a new backend for Skype as it tries to resolve a legal dispute before spinning off the VoIP service next year. The company revealed its plans in its 10-Q regulatory filing on Thursday, noting that eBay and Skype are confident in their legal position vis-a-vis the technology they're currently using for peer-to-peer connections, but that the new system is being developed "just in case." Skype currently uses technology from Joltid to make its P2P connections on the backend. Joltid was founded by Skype creators Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström…” [http://skypejournal.com/2009/08/skype-not-falling.html ]

7. Introduction to Errand Running 101 http://fbfund.com/246/ “…RunMyErrand.com – a social networking inspired web and mobile platform connecting a community to get things done. We work with people and small businesses in a neighborhood, to help them outsource their life, and live more efficiently…What sorts of things can RunMyErrand do for you? Everything from picking up donations for goodwill and dropping off dry cleaning, to shopping trips to Ikea and Target. There are even some really out of the ordinary “errands” that are posted – take for instance the woman who needed her new Pug puppy picked up in New York, fresh off a flight on Pet Airlines, and chauffeured up to Boston! Runner fee on that one? $190…we allow people (we call them Senders) to decide how much they are willing to pay to have an errand done. On the other side, our network of local *background checked* errand runners (college students, young professionals, stay at home moms, and retirees too!) are alerted. They can place a counteroffer on the runner fee, or accept the errand immediately. The typical response time between and errand posting and a Runner acceptance is under 10 minutes…”

8. 4Chan Users Attempt To Incite Mass Fear, Succeed Only In Creating Really Tidy Block List http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/08/02/4chan-users-attempt-to-incite-mass-fear-succeed-only-in-creating-really-tidy-block-list/ “…Some 4Chan users are trying to stir up some good old fashioned fear. A message urges readers to “Write “9/02/09″ on flyers, stickers, currency, walls, etc...Tweet with the hashtag #sept2nd…Spam Google with “9.02.09″…This is much more likely to create a big annoyance for everyone rather than the intended effect of “its gonna be hilarious seeing everyone freak out.” Traditionally 4Chan has been much better at just raining on parades than than creating any serious mayhem…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

9. Excuse me while I change your aircraft’s flight plan http://deals.venturebeat.com/2009/08/01/defcon-hacker-excuse-me-while-i-change-your-aircrafts-flight-plan/ In a scary presentation at the Defcon hacker conference, a security researcher showed how easy it is to compromise the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic control system. Righter Kunkel was careful not to show exactly how to bring aircraft out of the sky. But he showed how its easy to shut down information going into an air traffic control tower, jam radar, submit a fake aircraft flight plan, get recognized as a pilot even if you aren’t a pilot, and stop planes from taking off at an airport…”

10. Defense Department eyes hacker con for new recruits http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9136167/Defense_Department_eyes_hacker_con_for_new_recruits “…Col. Michael Convertino came to Defcon for the first time last year, and after finding about 60 good candidates for both enlisted and civilian positions decided to come back again. "The principal reason that I'm here is to recruit," said Convertino, commander of the U.S. Air Force's 318th Information Operations Group, speaking Thursday during a panel discussion at Defcon's sister conference, Black Hat. "We have many empty jobs, empty slots that we can't fill…”

11. Kindle Users Sue Amazon Over Deleted Orwell Book http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2351087,00.asp Two Kindle users – one of them a high school student – have filed a class-action lawsuit against Amazon after the company remotely deleted copies of George Orwell's "1984" from their e-readers. Justin Gawronski, a teenager from Michigan, and Antoine Bruguier of California, sued the online retailer in Seattle District Court on Thursday for breach of contract, intentional interference with their belongings, as well as violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Washington Consumer Protection Act…”

12. Vegas ATM Malware Demonstrates Banking Security Woes http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/169488/vegas_atm_malware_demonstrates_banking_security_woes.html Computer security experts of all types--from hackers, crackers, and phreaks to security researchers and law enforcement officials--descended on Las Vegas last week for the annual Black Hat and DefCon security conferences. It is probably no coincidence that an attacker also chose last week to plant phony ATM machines around Las Vegas in an attempt to capture account and PIN information and extract money from compromised accounts. Perhaps the attacker saw it as a personal challenge to “hack the hackers” and test whether or not these security hobbyists and experts could detect an attempt to pull the wool over their eyes. The ironic part is that there was a presentation scheduled to be delivered at Blackhat by Juniper’s Barnaby Jack related to exploiting a flaw in certain ATM machines, but the presentation was canceled at the request of an ATM vendor…”

13. Britain To Put CCTV Cameras Inside Private Homes http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/08/britain-to-put-cctv-cameras-inside-private-homes/ As an ex-Brit, I’m well aware of the authorities’ love of surveillance and snooping, but even I, a pessimistic cynic, am amazed by the governments latest plan: to install Orwell’s telescreens in 20,000 homes. £400 million ($668 million) will be spend on installing and monitoring CCTV cameras in the homes of private citizens. Why? To make sure the kids are doing their homework, going to bed early and eating their vegetables. The scheme has, astonishingly, already been running in 2,000 family homes. The government’s “children’s secretary” Ed Balls is behind the plan, which is aimed at problem, antisocial families…”

14. Hanging with hackers can make you paranoid http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-10302236-245.html “…Defcon and Black Hat…offer a forum for researchers to share information about vulnerabilities they find in software, hardware and systems. Targeted this year were everything from the iPhone and surveillance video feeds to e-parking meters and security underlying the Domain Name System…On July 27, Web sites belonging to a handful of security researchers and groups were hacked and passwords, private e-mails, IM chats, and potentially sensitive documents were exposed on the vandalized site of security golden boy Dan Kaminsky. (Mitnick, whose jailing in the '90s for computer crimes made him a cause celebre at "Free Kevin" benefits at Defcon at the time, was among those attacked.)…three South Koreans registered as press were ejected for asking questions that led organizers to believe were on an intelligence-gathering mission instead of merely reporting…I had a panic of my own at Defcon this year. I was connected to the Internet using an EVDO wireless card and a virtual private network and was startled a short while later when a Web page opened up out of the blue and I noticed the VPN was disconnected…Also arousing suspicion were the Defcon badges, which featured a built-in microphone, LED, digital signal processor, and custom circuit boards designed to be hacked as part of a contest. I prudently popped the battery out of my badge after discussing the microphone capability with another journalist. Some attendees chose not to wear the badges at all, even without the battery, tucking them in satchels and digging them out every time they needed to display them…It was the other stuff--the hacking and viruses and sniffing--that made me and others at the show jumpy. Security guru Bruce Schneier, however, brushed it off as the mere cost of doing business. "This is the way hackers play," he said. "This is the experimental battlefield. It's not bad; it is just what it is. Defcon has an important place in computer security.”

15. Update On Sam Sethi Litigation: We Decline To Participate http://www.crunchnotes.com/2009/08/03/update-on-sam-sethi-we-decline-to-participate/ “…Update to our June post on the…absurd…Sam Sethi litigation. Our lawyers sent a letter letting them know that we have no intention of submitting the the jurisdiction of the UK courts, although we’d be happy to litigate his claims here in California. Sethi obtained a default judgment on July 30 and is now messaging people “fyi won my libel case against arrington last thurs. News to break today thought I would tell you first. pls keep mum for now.” By “won” I guess he means we didn’t show up, as we previously stated, and so the court had no choice but to give him a default judgment. It’s important to reiterate that the courts didn’t determine anything other than the fact that we didn’t show up. I had a long talk with a number of UK legal experts about whether we should defend the case in the UK even though we aren’t subject to UK jurisdiction. They were fairly confident we’d actually win…but that the total legal costs could exceed £500,000. That’s just not an interesting proposition for us. Meanwhile, I’ve had to cancel my London FOWA speaking engagement, and certainly won’t be visiting that country any time soon…”

16. Electronic High-Security Locks Easily Defeated at DefCon http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/08/electronic-locks-defeated/ World-renowned lock experts Marc Weber Tobias, Toby Bluzmanis and Matt Fiddler are at it again. The three, who have made numerous headlines for bumping and picking Medeco high-security locks and other brands, have now succeeded to crack state-of-the-art, CLIQ technology electro-mechanical high-security locks. They showed Threat Level how they could easily bypass the electronic portion of the locks and thwart audit logs that track who opens a lock and when. They provided the demonstration in advance of a presentation they’re giving at the DefCon hacker conference…The hacks are low-tech and don’t involve attacking the actual electronic component of the lock. Instead, they use standard techniques for opening mechanical locks, similar to bumping — where an attacker places a specially-designed key in the keyway and “bumps” it repeatedly with a device until the lock releases…”

17. Sniffing the Unsniffable http://markgamache.blogspot.com/2009/06/sniffing-unsniffable.html “…Enter my new best friend, STrace, from Microsoft. STrace uses MS Research's amazing tool, detours. I'll avoid a huge digression and just say that detours is crazy awesome. It intercepts win32 functions in memory and allows the code to be altered on the fly. That's right "re-writing the in-memory code for target functions". Yikes!...One of the things that STrace does for us, to support its original goes, is to inject itself into processes that are using SSL. You simply find the PID of the process and inject the DLL and you get your data out, unencrypted…We will use some pstools to get the rest of what we need. If you don't know pstools and the Sysinternals Suite, you may not actually be a windows admin…”

18. Building in Surveillance http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/08/building_in_sur.html “…Under a requirement taking effect soon, every computer sold in China will have to contain the Green Dam Youth Escort software package. Ostensibly a pornography filter, it is government spyware that will watch every citizen on the Internet…It can monitor a user's reading habits. It can even enlist the computer in some massive botnet attack, as part of a hypothetical future cyberwar. China's actions may be extreme, but they're not unique. Democratic governments around the world -- Sweden, Canada and the United Kingdom, for example -- are rushing to pass laws giving their police new powers of Internet surveillance, in many cases requiring communications system providers to redesign products and services they sell…New police powers, enacted to fight terrorism, are already used in situations of normal crime. Internet surveillance and control will be no different. Official misuses are bad enough, but the unofficial uses worry me more…China's government designed Green Dam for its own use, but it's been subverted. Why does anyone think that criminals won't be able to use it to steal bank account and credit card information, use it to launch other attacks, or turn it into a massive spam-sending botnet?...These risks are not theoretical. After 9/11, the National Security Agency built a surveillance infrastructure to eavesdrop on telephone calls and e-mails within the United States. Although procedural rules stated that only non-Americans and international phone calls were to be listened to, actual practice didn't always match those rules. NSA analysts collected more data than they were authorized to, and used the system to spy on wives, girlfriends, and famous people such as President Clinton…In Greece, between June 2004 and March 2005, someone wiretapped more than 100 cell phones belonging to members of the Greek government -- the prime minister and the ministers of defense, foreign affairs and justice. Ericsson built this wiretapping capability into Vodafone's products, and enabled it only for governments that requested it. Greece wasn't one of those governments…Researchers have already found security flaws in Green Dam that would allow hackers to take over the computers. Of course there are additional flaws, and criminals are looking for them…It's bad civic hygiene to build technologies that could someday be used to facilitate a police state. No matter what the eavesdroppers and censors say, these systems put us all at greater risk. Communications systems that have no inherent eavesdropping capabilities are more secure than systems with those capabilities built in…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

19. Free wifi at Barnes & Noble http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/169178/barnesandnoble_makes_wifi_free_via_atandt.html Barnes & Noble bookstores nationwide offer Wi-Fi access, and the majority of them are already hotspots through AT&T. Those stores now offer free access via Wi-Fi, with a focus on expanding customer awareness of the Barnes & Noble's burgeoning e-book library…on Tuesday the two companies announced that AT&T Wi-Fi has gone complementary. Users with laptops, Wi-Fi equipped smartphones and other wireless devices can now surf the Web in stores without having to set up an account or pay…”

20. Verizon Wireless slashes most smartphone prices to $99 http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/08/03/verizon-wireless-slashes-most-smartphone-prices-to-99/ “…Verizon…prices of its smartphones have been slashed, cut, and discounted down to iPhone 3G levels. Every single smartphone - expect for the new BlackBerry Tour and Samsung Saga - can be had for $99 or less on-contract. This means that the HTC Touch Diamond, HTC Touch Pro, and Samsung Omnia are now only $99 straight up. It’s like Verizon is talking right to those feed up with AT&T’s shenanigans…”

Open Source

21. Creating Snapshot-Backups with BackerUpper On Ubuntu 9.04 http://www.howtoforge.com/creating-snapshot-backups-with-backerupper-on-ubuntu-9.04 BackerUpper is a tool similar to Apple's TimeMachine. It is intended to create snapshot-backups of selected directories or even your full hard drive. From the BackerUpper project page: "Backerupper is a simple program for backing up selected directories over a local network. Its main intended purpose is backing up a user's personal data." This article shows how to install and use BackerUpper on Ubuntu 9.04…”

22. Creating Convincing Images with Blender Internal Renderer-part1 http://www.packtpub.com/creating-convincing-images-blender-internal-renderer-1 “…In the advent of 3D as part of the numerous studies involved in Computer Graphics, a lot of effort has been made into developing tools and applications that emulate real-world environment…In 3D rendering context, there are a number of ways on how to achieve realism in your scenes, but intuitively, the use of external renderers and advanced raytracers does help a lot in the setup and makes the creation process a bit lighter as compared to manually setting up lights, shaders, etc…Hopefully in this short article, I can describe to you numerous ways on how to achieve good-looking and realistic images with some nifty tools, workarounds from within Blender and use the Blender Internal Renderer to achieve these effects…”

23. Marble is a polished jewel http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/marble.html “…Marble is a geographical map program, somewhat similar to Google Earth/Google Maps. However, unlike Google Earth, which requires 3D acceleration to work properly, Marble requires no special graphics and will run well even in virtual machines using a generic display driver. Marble is available for all major operating systems. It also comes in two flavors, the Qt and KDE versions. The latter version is the recommended one, as it provides some additional features that are missing in the Qt version. The KDE version also comes as a full blown live CD…”

24. 10 super-cool Linux hacks you did not know about http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/linux-cool-hacks.html This article is a compilation of several interesting, unique command-line tricks that should help you squeeze more juice out of your system, improve your situational awareness of what goes on behind the curtains of the desktop, plus some rather unorthodox solutions that will melt the proverbial socks off your kernel…”

25. Google go Simple http://www.h-online.com/open/Google-go-Simple--/news/113915 A new Google project, Simple, aims to be as BASIC as possible. Simple is very much a work in progress, but currently consists of a compiler and runtime for the Simple language, which is a dialect of BASIC specifically for developing Android Applications…The hope is that a simple programming language, based on BASIC, will open up programming Android devices to a wider audience. When Simple was announced, an example of Simple code was shown which worked as an accelerometer driven Etch-A-Sketch. The entire program, including defining the forms, is composed of only 35 lines of code…”

SkyNet

26. Search Options now on Google Images http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/search-options-now-on-google-images.html “…Today we are rolling out Search Options for Google Images. This new feature offers quick access to existing tools, including search by color and image type. Color search will find images that are only in color or only in black and white, or even images that contain a specific color, such as red, pink, or green. Type search is a great way to narrow down your results if you are looking for a specific kind of image, such as a photo, clip art, line drawing or face…”

27. Send Gmail from another address without "on behalf of" http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/send-mail-from-another-address-without.html Quite a few of you use Gmail's custom "From:" to send messages with one of your other email addresses listed in place of your Gmail address. Since these messages are sent by Gmail's servers but "from" a non-Gmail address, we have to include your original Gmail username in the "Sender" field of the message header to comply with mail delivery protocols and help prevent your mail from being marked as spam. Most email programs just display the "From" address and not the "Sender" field, but some (including versions of Microsoft Outlook) show these messages as coming "From username@gmail.com On Behalf Of customaddress@mydomain.com" which really annoyed people. We heard your request for another option that wouldn't show the "on behalf of" text loud and clear, and now there's a new option that does just that…”

28. Lookout Paypal! Google Checkout's New Gadget is Incredibly Simple http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_checkouts_new_gadget_is_incredibly_simple.php “…on the Google Checkout Blog, the company announced the introduction of a new, embeddable gadget which you can place on any web site where you sell your products and/or services. An embeddable gadget like this is nothing new to the online shopping space - Checkout's major competitor PayPal has offered their own copy-and-paste code for years on end. But what's interesting about this new gadget is how it's tied to the Google Docs service for inventory management on the back-end. The gadget is also incredibly simple to set up and use…”

29. Google using billboards to raise awareness of Google Apps http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2009/08/google-goes-oldschool-with-aggressive-google-apps-campaign.ars “…Starting today and running for the next four weeks in August, Google will be running a series of billboards—yes, real ones—in Boston, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco in order to showcase the benefits of "going Google" for business. The hope is that more business owners will ditch managing their own e-mail, calendaring, and doc sharing solutions in favor of Google Apps—especially now that they're out of beta…Google says that the billboards will be changed every single weekday for the next month, but you environmentalists in the crowd should worry not—all vinyl used on the billboards will be recycled and turned into either computer bags or shopping bags…Billboards may not directly win converts to Google's enterprise solutions, but they certainly will raise the company's visibility as a serious alternative to Microsoft in the office.”

30. Google's Vision for the Future of Google Books http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/googles_vision_for_the_future_of_google_books_eboo.php “…Google Books' engineering director Dan Clancy laid out a clearer vision of the company's plans for Google Books for the first time. Among other things, the company hopes to create its own electronic bookstore for in-print books. In Google's vision, publishers would partner with the company and offer all of their books through Google and through traditional retailers…stressed that he doesn't believe that brick and mortar book retailers will die anytime soon. He did, however, argue that book retailers will have to adapt to the changing environment and start to offer digital copies of books in addition to regular print copies…”

31. The Case Against the Case Against Google http://www.slate.com/id/2223755/ Is Google too powerful? The Justice Department's Christine Varney thinks so. As Fred Vogelstein reports in Wired, the attorney who represented Netscape during the federal government's long-running Microsoft antitrust case sees the tech world's newest giant as the latest threat to online innovation. "For me, Microsoft is so last century," Varney told a conference last year. "They are not the problem. I think we are going to continually see a problem, potentially, with Google…The online-policy wonk doesn't just think Google is getting too big. She might be ready to do something about it…the rest of the Obama administration appears less enthusiastic than Varney about a potential trustbusting spree. I'm on the anti-Varney side as well: Prosecuting tech giants for getting too big is so last century…Google may be big now, but it'll eventually find itself just as beaten down as Microsoft has become, and it'll get there without any help from the government. How can I be so sure? Because we've seen this movie before…”

32. Google's Schmidt Leaves Apple Board http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124930285423801287.html “…Eric Schmidt, Google Inc.'s chief executive, is resigning from the Apple's board, citing the growing overlap of the two companies' businesses…the Federal Trade Commission has for months been investigating whether Mr. Schmidt's membership on the Apple board amounts to a violation of antitrust laws, given the increasing areas where the companies' businesses overlap…Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that as "Google enters more of Apple's core businesses, with Android and now Chrome OS, Eric's effectiveness as an Apple board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest." The statement said that Apple and Mr. Schmidt had reached the decision mutually. In May, Mr. Schmidt said he had no plans to resign from Apple's board despite the FTC's inquiry. More recently, he said that he would discuss whether he should resign with Apple…”

General Technology

33. SiRF Unveils Next Generation GPS http://tech.yahoo.com/news/zd/242650 “…SiRF, the San Jose-based embedded GPS company, has unveiled SiRFstar IV, a vast upgrade to the GPS architecture used in many portable and in-car GPS systems released over the past five years. The new architecture aims to reduce battery drain, and it allows for much smaller receiver components. Intriguingly, SiRF designed SiRFstar IV not to just coexist with other components in cell phones and other consumer electronics, but take advantage of the additional sensors included in those devices as well. Kanwar Chadha, SiRF's founder, said in an interview that as the market evolved, GPS moved from in-car use to portable devices, and now to digital cameras and camcorders…”

34. DIY home surveillance with a Webcam http://news.cnet.com/8301-27076_3-10301349-248.html “…summer vacation season…is one of the peak periods of home burglaries…Got a house sitter or an alarm system? Good for you. If not, there are a handful of ways to turn a computer into a tool that will alert you if someone's there who shouldn't be. For the sake of this guide we're keeping things simple and limiting our list to free apps that work on PCs, Macs, or both. A few simply use your browser. Later on we also have a section on specialty hardware that can take you beyond what most Web cams are capable of…”

35. Blind students test-drive experimental vehicle http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2009579542_blindcar01.html “…Twenty blind people took turns piloting a car Friday, the first public test of technology that might one day overcome barriers to putting the sightless behind the wheel…Virginia Tech engineers started work on the vehicle in response to a 2004 challenge from the blindness-advocacy group, which asked which U.S. university could build a vehicle that the blind could drive with the same freedom as the sighted…”

36. How the Incredible Shrinking Hard Drive will shape our Industry http://software.intel.com/en-us/blogs/2009/08/01/how-the-incredible-shrinking-hard-drive-will-shape-our-industry/ “…This particular blog is going to be some of my observations about hard drives, what the past ten years have looked like, where we are today, and what might the next decade hold in store? I’ll of course indulge some musings for what it might also mean for the Gaming industry…if standard Hard Drives are even still around, it’s possible we might see an $8-10 USD Hard drive with ~100TB of capacity…Current sized thumb drives could likely hit 1TB capacities for about ~$10 USD…More advanced smaller drives might emerge that would likely be ~100GB capacity, with dimensions that are only a few Millimeters in size (~1/4” or <), for price points in the ~$100 USD range…”

37. Microsoft Releases Windows XP Mode RC for Win7 http://www.pcworld.com/article/169603/microsoft_releases_windows_xp_mode_rc_for_win7.html “…Microsoft has just made available the release candidate for Windows XP Mode…Windows XP Mode, for those that don't know, is a free downloadable "virtual XP environment" for Windows 7. It's provided mainly as a way for businesses to migrate to Windows 7 without worrying about that one application they rely on that just won't run on Vista or Win7…”

Leisure & Entertainment

38. Game utilizes human intuition to help computers solve complex problems http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=7252 A new computer game prototype combines work and play to help solve a fundamental problem underlying many computer hardware design tasks. The online logic puzzle is called FunSAT, and it could help integrated circuit designers select and arrange transistors and their connections on silicon microchips, among other applications…”

39. SOE Seattle vets trip Detonator Games http://www.gamespot.com/news/6214601.html With spy-themed massively multiplayer online game The Agency still in the works, a trio of the game's developers have defected to form their own studio. On July 4--Independence Day--SOE Seattle veterans Matt Wilson, John Smith, and Corey Dangel officially established Detonator Games. According to its Web site, the studio's mission is "to bring the best of social entertainment to the emerging world of mobile and social networks."…”

40. Nikon's Digital Camera is the First with a Projector http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2351143,00.asp That LCD on the back of your camera can get a little crowded when family and friends are all clamoring at once to view your images. Nikon is intent on changing that with the introduction of the Nikon COOLPIX S1000pj, the world's first camera to a feature a built-in projector…The S1000pj shoots 12-megapixel stills and standard-definition video, and can then project the images and video on a screen up to 40 inches in width at a resolution of 640x480 at 30 frames per second…A speaker also embedded in the camera will play back audio. To round out the projector experience, a wireless remote and projector stand will also be included…”

Economy and Technology

41. Bank Of America To Shut 600 Branches Due To Surge In Online And Mobile Banking http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2009/07/bank_of_america.html “…After two decades of aggressive expansion in the bricks-and-mortar side of its retail-banking business, Bank of America is reportedly set to close about 10% of its 6,100 nationwide branches as more and more consumers handle their banking needs online and with mobile devices rather than visiting their local branch…”

42. Bits of Destruction Hit the Book Publishing Business: Part 3 http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/bits_of_destruction_hit_book_publishing_part3.php “…In Part 3, we'll dig into one very specific business practice: returnability (a.k.a. "the curse of unsold inventory")…We outlined the practice of "returnability" in Part 1, but it took a pioneer in print on demand (POD) from Canada to help us see the scale of the issue. Bruce Batchelor is a successful publisher and author…eliminating this business practice…may seem radical and impossible to book industry veterans who have never known an alternative. But change may now be feasible: necessity is often the mother of invention…”

43. JetBlue and United give Twitter a try to sell airline seats fast http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2009-08-02-jetblue-united-twitter-airfares_N.htm “…JetBlue and United airlines are offering their Twitter followers first dibs on some discounted fares, using the uber-trendy form of messaging to quickly connect with customers and fill seats on flights that might otherwise take off less than full. Like the e-mails that many airlines began to send out in the 1990s, tweets are presenting a new, faster way to promote sales. And in fitting with this latest mode of instant communication, travelers have to decide quickly whether to fly…”

Civilian Aerospace

44. Space Tethers and Space Elevators http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1430/1 August, it would seem, is space elevator month. This weekend the Japan Space Elevator Association is hosting its first technical competition, where battery-powered climbers will attempt to ascend a 150-meter cable held aloft by a balloon. Later this month the 2009 Space Elevator Conference will take place at Microsoft’s headquarters outside Seattle. And until last week, the Space Elevator Games, featuring the beamed power competition with prize money provided by NASA’s Centennial Challenges program, was slated to take place this week at the Dryden Flight Research Center in California…Despite this confluence of events, it seems we’re, at best, only incrementally closer to actually being able to build a space elevator than we were when the resurgence of interest in the concept started early this decade. Likewise, the potential of space tethers—close cousins to the space elevator concept, but much less technically challenging given their far shorter lengths—has yet to be realized…Both concepts are examined in detail by Michel van Pelt’s book, Space Tethers and Space Elevators…”

45. A Netscape moment for the commercial space industry? http://venturebeat.com/2009/08/02/a-netscape-moment-for-the-space-industry/ “…commercial providers may be taking a significant role in how NASA accesses low Earth orbit and how missions beyond low Earth orbit use orbiting “gas stations”. At the same time, two commercial space companies, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, have received significant investments from well known funds…suggesting that capital markets see a fundable new industry developing…these developments are reminiscent of the Internet industry in the early 90s. Prior to 1993, the National Science Foundation ran the Internet as an exclusive tool for university and government research (commercial speech was completely banned from the Internet prior to 1991). The NSF then decided to turn over the operation of the Internet to the private sector. Just two years later, Netscape’s IPO set records for first day gains. Despite the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000, the Internet industry has been one of the largest economic drivers of the last 15 years. The suggestions coming from the Augustine Commission are somewhat reminiscent of NSF’s decision…”

46. Orbiting gas station could refuel lunar missions http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327194.300-orbiting-gas-station-could-refuel-lunar-missions.html “…The panel convened by order of the White House to assess NASA's plans for the future of human space flight - including the project to send people back to the moon by 2020 - is pondering a radical idea to set up orbiting depots at which relatively small, inexpensive rockets could stop off to pick up fuel. The potential benefits of such a scheme are detailed in a white paper submitted last week by Jonathan Goff, an engineer with Masten Space Systems…”

47. Virgin Galactic aims for the Moon http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/science/2009/07/virgin-galactic-aims-for-the-m.html “…Whiteknighttwo…will take tourists up to 50,000 feet before their spaceship detaches and blasts into space for a few minutes of weightlessness and an unforgettable view of the earth below…But that's just the start as Branson told me shortly before joining the crew on Whiteknighttwo at its debut at the Oshkosh air show in Wisconsin…Looking further ahead, and we like to dream, we hope that one day Virgin Galactic will be able to ferry passengers between continents at a fraction of the time that they currently travel between continents. "We also hope that one day to have a space hotel up there we can take people to that might be quite close to the Moon and people will be able to head off in small spacecraft to head off round the Moon before lunch or before breakfast…”

48. SpaceX Completes Qualification of Falcon 9 First Stage Tank and Interstage http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20090729006404&newsLang=en Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces the successful completion of qualification testing for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle first stage tank and interstage. Testing took place at SpaceX’s Texas Test Site…The first stage tank and interstage hardware were subjected to a proof test of 1.1 times the maximum expected operating pressure (MEOP), and a burst pressure proof test of 1.4 MEOP; qualifying both articles with a 1.4 factor of safety…The first stage also passed this human rating milestone when subjected to structural bending tests…Falcon 9 continues to pass qualification testing in preparation for its first flight, scheduled for 2009,” said Elon Musk…”

49. Rocketplane Says It's Far from Finished in Oklahoma http://www.newson6.com/Global/story.asp?S=10822128 “…The company that promised to launch our state into the future of space travel said it's far from finished with its work in Oklahoma. Rocketplane Global co-founder Chuck Lauer said the company may be grounded, but it's far from gone. "When you run out of money, you lay people off. That's what we've done. A lay-off does not mean we're dead, it means that we're on hold," said Lauer. "We're in suspended animation until we get more money…” [ http://www.okgazette.com/p/12776/a/4386/Default.aspx ]

Supercomputing & GPUs

50. A binary Translator Framework for GPGPU http://gpgpu.org/2009/07/30/gpuocelot Ocelot, developed at Georgia Tech, seeks to develop a set of tools that enable the low level analysis of GPGPU applications as well a providing a JIT compiler for generic architectures. Ocelot currently provides an implementation of the NVIDIA CUDA runtime, capable of running the entire CUDA 2.2 and 2.1 SDKs…”

51. Personal Supercomputers Promise Teraflops on Your Desk http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/08/personal-supercomputers/ “…Personal supercomputers are available in many flavors, both as clusters of CPU and graphics processing units (GPUs). But it is GPU computing that is gaining in popularity for its ability to offer researchers easy and quick access to raw computing power. That’s opening up a new market for makers of GPUs, such as Nvidia and AMD, which have traditionally focused on high-end video cards for gamers and graphics pros. True supercomputers, the rock stars of computing, are capable of millions of calculations per second. But they can be extremely expensive — the fastest supercomputer of 2008, IBM’s RoadRunner, costs $120 million — and access to them is limited. That’s why smaller versions, no bigger than a typical desktop PC, are becoming a hit among researchers who want access to massive processing power along with the convenience of having a machine at their own desk. “Personal supercomputers that can run off a 110 volt wall circuit allow for a significant amount of performance at a very reasonable price…For researchers, this means the ability to run calculations faster than they can with a traditional desktop PC. “Sometimes researchers have to wait for six to eight hours before they can have the results from their tests,” says Sumit Gupta, senior product manager at Nvidia. “Now the wait time for some has come down to about 20 minutes.” It also means that research projects that typically would have never get off the ground because they are deemed too costly and too resource and time intensive now get the green light. “The cost of making a mistake is much lower and a lot less intimidating,” says Stone. The shift away from large supercomputers to smaller versions has also made research more cost effective for organizations…”

52. The High Cost of High Performance http://www.ddj.com/hpc-high-performance-computing/218600408 Organizations that depend heavily on high-performance computing (HPC) are salivating at the prospect of the performance potential of GPUs (general-purpose graphics processing units), which is often 10 or even 100X faster performance per chip, usually with less power consumption than mass-market x86 sockets…Unfortunately, the current state-of-the-art of GPU languages and compilers means that this new memory hierarchy is exposed to the programmer, who must explicitly arrange data appropriately to reap the potential higher speed…”

53. Common cheap chips get job done faster http://www.isgtw.org/?pid=1001938 Although much of today’s most interesting research requires immense amounts of computational power, many scientists don’t have the funds to access expensive supercomputers or clusters. Now, a commonplace computer chip may provide a thrifty way to get those jobs done…Computational geneticists Marc Suchard of the University of California Los Angeles and Andrew Rambaut of the University of Edinburgh were able to use GPUs to speed up their computations by a factor of 100…”


*****

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