2009/09/22

NEW NET Issues List for 22 Sep 2009

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 22 September 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. White House unveils cloud computing initiative http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-10353479-52.html “…federal CIO Vivek Kundra unveiled the administration's first formal efforts to roll out a broad system designed to leverage existing infrastructure and in the process, slash federal spending on information technology…the federal government today has an IT budget of $76 billion, of which more than $19 billion is spent on infrastructure alone….the government "has been building data center after data center," resulting in an environment in which the Department of Homeland Security alone, for example, has 23 data centers…this has resulted in a doubling of federal energy consumption from 2000 to 2006. "We cannot continue on this trajectory," Kundra said…As an example of what's possible with cloud computing, Kundra pointed to a revamping of the General Services Administration's USA.gov site. Using a traditional approach to add scalability and flexibility, he said, it would have taken six months and cost the government $2.5 million a year. But by turning to a cloud computing approach, the upgrade took just a day and cost only $800,000 a year…”

2. Firefox use reaches critical mass; Skype reigns in IM http://www.infoworld.com/d/applications/firefox-use-reaches-critical-mass-skype-reigns-in-im-049 “…Mozilla's Firefox Web browser has finally reached critical mass. There are now more users running some variant of Firefox (50.6 percent) than not running it…Internet Explorer remains strong, with nearly 84 percent of users running the Web browser regularly…Google's Chrome continues to make inroads, with 16 percent of users running the browser at least occasionally. As with Firefox, this growth comes in spite of Internet Explorer's continued dominance: Fully 12 percent of users run both the Microsoft and Google Web browsers on their systems. In fact, among users of the three top Web browsers, only 15 percent run either Firefox or Chrome exclusively. Everyone else appears to run them in addition to, as opposed to in place of, Internet Explorer…Skype finally surpassed…MSN Messenger as the most widely deployed IM/VoIP client software for Windows PCs.”

3. Skype Founders Sue eBay http://gigaom.com/2009/09/16/skype-founders-sue-ebay-big-surprise/ “…the $2 billion bid from the Silver Lake consortium…has dealt with the litigation risk is by persuading eBay to assume 50 percent of any losses resulting from the lawsuit. But that still doesn’t mitigate against the possibility that the founders could win the lawsuit — and put their creation, Skype, out of business…there is no love lost among eBay management, the Skype founders and some of the investors in the consortium that’s trying to acquire it. Zennstrom and Friis were rebuffed by eBay management when they expressed interest in buying back Skype…When eBay bought Skype in 2005, it didn’t acquire Joltid — a major corporate blunder by then-eBay management. Many of the guys who spearheaded the acquisition (and overlooked the fact that they needed to buy the core technology) long ago left the company. Still, as I’ve said before, eBay needs to be held responsible for this clear negligence of its duties…”

4. Taming Your Digital Distractions http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/17/technology/personaltech/17basics.html Is there any human invention more duplicitous than the personal computer?...Sure, you could use your PC to analyze stats for the annual sales report due in two days…You get to your PC every morning with hours of productive time ahead of you. Next thing you know, it’s 5 p.m. and you’ve frittered the day away on Digg, Hulu, Wikipedia and your fantasy football league. And no wonder — how can anyone expect to get anything done when you’re plying your trade on one of the most distracting machines ever invented?...During the last few weeks, I’ve been using a slate of programs to tame these digital distraction …”

5. MS Office Web Apps technical preview http://news.cnet.com/8301-19882_3-10355890-250.html Microsoft has finally started to open up its Web-based versions of Office apps to early testers. Thursday we got access to a "technical preview" of Excel and PowerPoint on the Web (not, notably, Word). The obvious comparison that will be made is to Google Docs…Office Web Apps is a fundamentally different product from Google Docs. The apps run more slowly than the lightweight online Google productivity apps, but Microsoft will offer more features and commonality with the desktop apps…Office Web Apps doesn't work on Google's Chrome browser. That's a shame, since for Web apps (as opposed to more-static sites), I have found Chrome to be a faster and thus more usable platform than Firefox or Internet Explorer…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

6. Why virus writers are turning to open source http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-10356421-83.html “…By giving criminal coders free access to malware that steals financial and personal details, the malicious software developers are hoping to expand the capabilities of old Trojans. According to Candid W?est, threat researcher with security firm Symantec, around 10 percent of the Trojan market is now open source…”

7. Facebook to end Beacon tracking tool in settlement http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iHu1jUmbDqb2SuYZV2Zd3DSqYSbAD9AS1IO80 Facebook is shutting down its much-maligned Beacon marketing program, launched nearly two years ago amid fanfare only to generate a storm of privacy complaints over the tracking of user activities at partner Web sites. Facebook agreed to end Beacon and create a foundation to promote online privacy, safety and security as part of a $9.5 million settlement in a lawsuit over the program…”

8. Gaming Mouse-maker Razer Hit With Infected Firmware http://tech.yahoo.com/news/pcworld/20090922/tc_pcworld/gamingmousemakerrazerhitwithinfectedfirmware Gamers trying to update their mouse or keyboard drivers from accessory maker Razer USA's Web site recently may have gotten more than they bargained for. That's because the company's computers appear to have been hacked, and its support site used to spread malicious Trojan horse programs, according to Rik Ferguson, a researcher with Trend Micro. After hearing comments from concerned customers, Trend researchers took a look at Razer's drivers. They downloaded 8 infected drivers, and immediately contacted Razer. "They immediately took the site offline…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

9. UC Berkeley researchers bring fluorescent imaging to mobile phones for low-cost screening in the field http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2009/07/21_cellscope.shtml Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are proving that a camera phone can capture far more than photos of people or pets at play. They have now developed a cell phone microscope, or CellScope, that not only takes color images of malaria parasites, but of tuberculosis bacteria labeled with fluorescent markers…We can take advantage of these mobile networks to bring low-cost, easy-to-use lab equipment out to more remote settings…”

10. Microsoft focusing on mobile search http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Search-Engines/Microsoft-Bing-Still-Has-Room-to-Grow-Says-Exec-370998/ “…In the weeks following Bing's June 3 rollout, Microsoft had pushed the search engine in the U.S. marketplace with a massive ad campaign estimated at between $80 million and $100 million…Microsoft made incremental gains in the search-engine space in August, with 10.7 percent of U.S. online searches. By comparison, Yahoo and Google had 16 percent and 64.6 percent…We've internalized what Google has been saying over the past few years, which is they see mobile search as one of the biggest areas," Songhurst said…Bing faces a similar uphill battle for market-share against Google in the mobile-search space, however…Google owns 52.5 percent of the mobile-search space, with Yahoo coming in second at 22.6 percent and Microsoft at 8.0 percent…” [ http://visualstudiomagazine.com/articles/2009/09/15/microsoft-exec-describes-search-ad-strategy.aspx -- “…July results on worldwide search engine use…Microsoft held fourth place with 2.9 percent search use, just behind the Baidu Chinese search engine. Google's lead was 67.5 percent, and Yahoo held the No. 2 position with 7.8 percent search use…”]

11. Why You Can’t Get a Good Phone With Verizon http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/09/verizon-smartphones/ “…Why does the U.S. carrier known for the best network have the worst smartphones?...They recognize they don’t have compelling devices right now but feel they can make up for it with network quality…Verizon’s extremely conservative approach to new handsets, the company’s long and rigorous testing procedures and its emphasis on the network rather than the phone has created a portfolio that’s a complete buzz kill…They can’t get the iPhone right now and they can’t take Nokia devices…All they can do all they can do is push the BlackBerry as hard as they can and hope for a new Motorola phone…”

12. Palm Axes Windows Mobile Phones http://www.informationweek.com/news/personal_tech/smartphones/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=220001048 “…smartphone maker Palm said Thursday that it will abandon the Windows Mobile platform for its devices in favor of its own webOS mobile operating system. "We've made the decision to dedicate all future development resources to the evolution of webOS," said Palm CEO Jon Rubenstein, in a conference call with investors, according to numerous industry blogs. "Going forward, our roadmap will include only Palm webOS-based devices,"…the company on Thursday reported a quarterly net loss of $161.1 million, compared to a loss of $39.5 million for the same period a year ago…”

13. Intel's Not-So-Mighty Atom http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2009/1005/technology-intel-atom-chips-digital-tools.html “…Netbooks are extremely popular right now, on account of their being smaller, lighter and (mostly) cheaper than their full-notebook cousins…The weight savings is accomplished by using smaller screens and omitting features like optical drives…the Atom…chip turns out to be the cause of most of the netbook's problems…the Atom family of chips…draw fewer than 10 watts of power. That's a tenth of the power drain of recent-issue Pentiums for the desktop. The lower wattage means a cooler device that lasts longer when running off a battery. It also means the chip doesn't have as much oomph…the atom is only good at doing a few things at a time. I have it do my browser and a few IM clients. I'm able to use my browser for almost all of my work…the Atom chip simply isn't up to the demands placed on it by a full-fledged Windows Vista computer doing business in today's Web world. Tasks are stuck in molasses; things that used to happen in the blink of an eye, such as switching windows or opening applications, now take one, two, even three beats. Internet Explorer's windows routinely freeze up on me. YouTube and Hulu videos are often stuttering and jerky; games like Flight Simulator are a joke…”

14. Apple iPod touch (3rd Generation) http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2352686,00.asp “…The third generation of iPod touches looks identical to the 2nd generation models, but the capacities and prices are improved: 8GB ($199), 32GB ($299), and 64GB ($399). There's no built-in video camera, as had been rumored, which is a bit of a surprise, considering the less-expensive and much-tinier nano got one…Measuring 4.3 by 2.4 by 0.3-inches (HWD) and weighing in at 4.1 ounces, the device is, as always, dominated by its luscious 3.5-inch glass touch-screen. With a 480-by-320 resolution, the display is the best in the business…There's no Wireless N support yet—the 3rd generation touch is 802.11b/g Wi-Fi only…the company claims that the 32GB and 64GB versions of the device are 50 percent faster than the previous iteration (the 8GB touch doesn't get the hardware upgrade). Also, the higher capacity models include support for OpenGL ES Version 2.0, which lets developers create games and apps with better graphics…There's still no support for Flash, which is a feature I'd gladly trade for the slight speed boost…”

Open Source

15. System Rescue - My Favorite LiveCD http://ardchoille42.blogspot.com/2009/09/system-rescue-my-favorite-livecd.html “…One of the things I love about GNU/Linux is the existence of LiveCD's. A live CD or live DVD is a CD or DVD containing a bootable computer operating system. Live CDs are unique in that they have the ability to run a complete, modern operating system on a computer lacking mutable secondary storage, such as a hard disk drive. Live USB flash drives are similar to live CDs, but often have the added functionality of automatically and transparently writing changes back to their bootable medium…My favorite LiveCD is System Rescue CD. System Rescue is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash…”

16. Set Up A Simple High-Availability Web Server For A Small Company Using Debian Lenny http://www.howtoforge.com/set-up-a-simple-high-availability-web-server-for-a-small-company-using-debian-lenny “…This tutorial was written for the Debian Lenny distribution and supposes that the user has knowledge about what load balancing is and some basic skills of Linux, our two load balancers consist out of 2 machines that monitor each other [heartbeat], if the master stops responding the secondary one [Backup] will take the master role [Backup -> Master]. For this setup, we will need 3 IP addresses, 2 for each node and one virtual IP address that will be used by the master node (master node will catch this IP). At the end we will install Apache as our web server…”

17. Anonymous browsing on Android http://www.h-online.com/open/Anonymous-browsing-on-Android-Update--/news/114243 A group of developers at the Digital Technology Group (DTG), formerly the Laboratory for Communication Engineering (LCE), at the University of Cambridge have released two Android applications that allow users to browse the web anonymously using The Onion Router. The Onion Router, commonly referred to as Tor, is free software designed to provide internet anonymity to users while browsing online. It does this by bouncing the communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers from all around the world, preventing visited sites from learning a users physical location…”

SkyNet

18. Google Acquires reCAPTCHA to Fight Spam and Improve Google Books OCR http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_acquires_recaptcha.php Google just announced that it has acquired reCAPTCHA…Google, of course, isn't so much interested in owning software that can generate CAPTCHAs…but is looking at reCAPTCHA as a way to improve the optical character recognition (OCR) software it uses for large scale text scanning projects like Google Books and the Google News Archive Search...reCAPTCHA is currently in use on over 100,000 websites to prevent spam and fraud. the reCAPTCHA team, which is currently based at Carnegie Mellon University, will join Google…”

19. Google Acquired a Crowd Computer http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2009-09-17-n65.html “…reCaptcha technology might have been feasible to duplicate for Google, but the installed existing user base for reCaptcha is possibly the actual gold Google was after. ReCaptcha mentions they’re serving 30 million Captchas daily and that generally, people spend roughly 10 seconds on a captcha – that’s quite some human computing power Google snapped up there…At reCaptcha…you’ll always be presented with two, not just one words…reCaptcha already knows one of the words, but wants you to help solve the other word (if enough other people solve that other word similarly, the system gains confidence that it now knows what that word reads). So you can say one word is the actual Captcha test word... while the other word deliberately spends more of your time than needed for the robot test by letting you turn books into text. It’s these extra seconds that you spend solving the…unknown word that make up the CPU of that crowd computer Google now owns…There are other puzzles out there which are tough for today’s AIs, but easy for humans, which might benefit a Google project…calling 1-800-GOOG-411 allows US users to say what business they are looking for and to be then connected with that business, but the reason Google really did this, according to Google’s Marissa Mayer, was to “to build a great speech-to-text model ... that we can use for all kinds of different things, including video search…”

20. Google Chrome 3.0 Still Isn't Ready for Business http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/172219/google_chrome_30_still_isnt_ready_for_business.html “…I have been a huge fan of Chrome since it came out last September…it's still not quite ready to take center stage as the browser of choice for business. Although its performance and clean, intuitive interface make it a joy to use, its lack of mainstream support limits its usefulness in the office…browser performance can be just as important as operating system performance, because most of us spend hours a day in the browser. When Chrome hit the browser stage last year, it sparked a welcome performance race between all major browsers…of the four leading browsers (IE, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome), Chrome has the least support from developers…while Flash 10 is supported on Chrome with XP and Vista, it is not with Windows 7, Windows 2000, or Windows Server. There are tons of other Web applications out there, such as SalesForce.com, in which Chrome might actually work, but the developer is not yet committed to officially supporting it…”

21. Google's Android 1.6 Donut Is Ready http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Mobile-and-Wireless/Googles-Android-16-Donut-is-Ready-For-Developer-Consumption-549364/ Google released Android 1.6, the Donut release, to programmers. The build supports CDMA with new telephony APIs, as well as QVGA and WVGA screen resolutions to enable greater application coverage on more Android devices. The new Quick Search Box lets users search their phones for contacts and applications from a search widget on the home screen. Another perk is the text-to-speech engine, which could help Android smartphones better compete…Android apps will be able to voice what users text into their smartphones. Voice-enabling applications are becoming a huge deal, particularly in the wake of the popularity of Google's Voice Search technology, which lets users speak into their Android and Apple iPhone smartphones to find search results…” [Google needs to collaborate with developers of the top iPhone apps and convince/pay them to develop the same apps for Android or work with someone else to develop similar apps for Android.]

General Technology

22. AMD sub-$100 quad cores: mainstream transition from dual core CPUs? http://www.dailytech.com/AMD+First+With+Quad+Core+CPUs+Under+100/article16267c.htm “…AMD is introducing two new quad core Athlon II CPUs, including the first processor below $100. Just three months ago, AMD launched its first dual-core Athlon II CPUs at similar prices. OEMs are loving this move, as they will be able to market AMD's quad cores against computers with Core 2 Duos at the same price point…these new processor launches are in preparation for the launch of Microsoft's Windows 7 on October 22, which is expected to be the catalyst for a wave of PC purchases throughout the busy Christmas shopping season. Quad core CPUs have accounted for a small percentage of CPU shipments until now because of high price premiums and lower single thread performance in games…”

23. DreamScreen tablet computer comes from HP, not Apple http://venturebeat.com/2009/09/16/the-long-awaited-dreamscreen-tablet-computer-comes-from-hp-not-apple/ Hewlett Packard has beaten Apple to the punch in coming up with a beautiful tablet-like computer. The company’s just-announced DreamScreen products represent a new category of wireless connected screens. These screens are hybrids of slate computers and digital photo displays. They’re not multitouch screen-enabled…But you can control the panels through touch-enabled controls on the border of the screen. They’re not full-fledged computers that run Microsoft’s Windows software, but you can use them to keep up with Facebook friends, view photos as they’re updated in real-time, listen to Pandora Internet radio, share Snapfish personal photos and enjoy music and photo collections that are stored on other networked computers. It’s a category of computer that is suitable for casual use by broader, mainstream audiences who might use it while browsing TV…Given Apple’s example of the iPhone, I would expect that Apple would do a multitouch screen, and maybe even the full Mac OS X operating system. But I would also expect it would cost a lot more than this HP product…”

24. Microsoft Should Give Windows 7 $30 Student Deal to Everyone http://www.pcworld.com/article/172187/why_microsoft_should_give_30_student_deal_to_everyone.html “…Microsoft today announced a Windows 7 discount for college and university students -- and the deal's a doozy. In the U.S., for instance, students will pay just $30 for Win 7 Home Premium Upgrade if they order by January 3, 2010. The regular upgrade price is $120. Which led me to thinking: Why not extend the upgrade deal to all consumers? Here's what Microsoft could gain from such a move…”

Leisure & Entertainment

25. Winning Netflix Team Draws From AT&T, Yahoo http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2009/09/21/winning-netflix-team-draws-from-att-yahoo/ “…BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos took the $1 million prize in a competition that pitted 41,000 teams from 186 countries, all trying to improve Netflix’s movie-recommendation system, also known as Cinematch, by 10%. It was a goal that Netflix itself hadn’t been able to accomplish. The team formed from three existing ones that entered the contest in October 2006. Mr. Koren, a senior research scientist at Yahoo, and Chris Volinsky, director of the statistics research department at AT&T Labs Research, were part of BellKor, a three-person team that won Netflix’s first “progress prize” in 2007 for improving Cinematch by 8.43%. The following year, BellKor merged with Team Big Chaos, a pair of computer-science students from the Graz University of Technology in Austria, to capture the second $50,000 progress prize. “The success of that collaboration told us that that was a really powerful way to improve our scores,” Mr. Volinsky said…The group later added Team Pragmatic Theory, a pair of researchers who worked at Canadian telecommunications-software developer Broadsoft…”

26. Hulu Already Working On Subscription Service http://blog.streamingmedia.com/the_business_of_online_vi/2009/09/hulu-already-working-on-the-technical-requirements-for-subscription-service.html “…Rupert Murdoch and NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker, speaking at a Goldman Sachs conference, indicated that one day, Hulu may indeed have a subscription based service…Hulu is already beta testing a subscription based video service internally and is working out all of the technical details for the offering…”

Economy and Technology

27. The Man Who's Beating Google http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2009/1005/technology-baidu-robin-li-man-whos-beating-google.html Robin Li has built the most popular search site for the world's biggest audience--in China. That's round one in epic battle…In a decade he has transformed Baidu from a handful of employees putting in sweat equity to an enterprise with 7,000 workers and a market value of $12.8 billion. Li's…Baidu stake is worth an estimated $2.1 billion…Baidu has captured a huge slice, each month racking up 8 billion searches and 145 million unique visitors…making it the most popular non-U.S. site in the world…While Baidu has a 2-to-1 lead in China, Google ( GOOG - news - people ) has been steadily winning eyeballs there…If Google isn't the leader there, will it really be the leading search company in the world?…”

28. Can Amazon Be Wal-Mart of the Web? http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/business/20amazon.html “…Fifteen years after Jeffrey P. Bezos founded the company as an online bookstore, Amazon is set to cross a significant threshold. Sometime later this year, if current trends continue, worldwide sales of media products — the books, movies and music that Amazon started with — will be surpassed for the first time by sales of other merchandise on the site. (That transition already occurred this year in its North American business.) In other words, in an increasingly digital age, Amazon is quickly becoming the world’s general store. Alongside the books and CDs and DVDs are diapers, Legos and power drills, not to mention replacement car clutches and more arcane items like the Jackalope Buck taxidermy mount…”

29. Dell to Buy Perot Systems for Services http://gigaom.com/2009/09/21/dell-to-buy-perot-systems-for-services/ “…Dell said today it would pay $3.9 billion to purchase IT services company Perot Systems in a deal designed to help the computer giant compete as the business of supplying computer hardware becomes more entwined with offering services — from unified computing packages to fully-formed computing clouds. The industry has long criticized Dell for its poor services capabilities when compared with competitors such as IBM or HP…Peter Altabef, the current chief executive of Perot, will stay on to run Dell’s services business. The acquired company was founded in 1988 by Ross Perot, who twice ran for U.S. president. As part of this push to meld computing gear and services, HP last year purchased EDS, an IT services company that was also founded by Ross Perot…”

30. Oracle's Larry Ellison says Sun losing $100 million a month http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_13391182 “…Declaring that Sun Microsystems is losing $100 million a month, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison expressed frustration Monday over an extended European anti-trust review that has delayed his plans to acquire the struggling computer-maker. But he also told a Silicon Valley audience that he expects the deal will eventually win approval. "The longer this takes, the more money Sun is going to lose, and that's not good for anybody…”

Civilian Aerospace

31. 2009 Lunar Lander Challenge: Level 2 -- Done! http://www.armadilloaerospace.com/n.x/Armadillo/Home/News?news_id=367 “…module vehicles fly so much nicer than the quads -- the control authority is much better, they don't have propellant trim issues, and they have slosh baffles inside the tanks. We also knew that the new "amateur rocketry regulations" were due to come into force this year, which would allow us to fly in many more areas than the experimental permits we had been getting would…We had 15 full loads on the super mod before our Lunar Lander Challenge attempt…nearly three million pound-seconds of delivered impulse from the vehicle, not even counting the previous flights as a normal module. That is around $30,000 in direct testing costs…We got the fuel and lox loaded, but when we were nearing completion of the helium fill, Russ noticed that there was a leak from the high pressure servo valve packing. Fifteen previous flights had never seen one. This was tense, because not only was the contest timer ticking, but our lox was also boiling off at about three pounds a minute, so if we had a 15 minute delay, I would be very worried about running out of lox while over the pad. TODO: valve stem leakage is a chronic problem, we need a better torque spec and locking mechanism…We had had a power outage at the hangar. It hadn't effected the laptop that I run the main flight control program on, but it must have also interrupted the wireless radio that communicated with the rocket. If that had happened during the flight, the vehicle would have gone into an auto-land from wherever it was. TODO: get a UPS for everything at mission control…this flight was completely nominal, and the terminal guidance also worked properly, so I landed one foot from the center. The offload procedure was also completely nominal. We had a half hour to spare…” [This detailed description by John Carmack of real-life NewSpace development work shows how easy it is for things to go wrong when procedures and products are continually being improved/changed. NewSpace products and procedures may need to bring back reasonable engineering safety factors or margins of error.]

32. Team Selenokhod Enters $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE Competition http://www.xprize.org/media-center/press-release/team-selenokhod-enters-30m-google-lunar-x-prize-competition “…Team Selenokhod, a Russian group of engineers and managers, announced its official entry into the Google Lunar X PRIZE - a $30 million competition that challenges space professionals and engineers from across the globe to build and launch to the moon a privately funded spacecraft capable of completing a series of exploration and transmission tasks as outlined in the competition’s official rules. Team Selenokhod, headquartered in Moscow, Russia with ten group members, is among 20 teams from 44 countries that are competing for their share of the $30 million prize purse…”

33. MIT students spend only $150 to snap stunning photos from near-space http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/sep/21/mit-students-budget-space-photographs “…Oliver Yeh spent less than $150 (£93) on a secondhand camera, a GPS-enabled mobile phone, a weather balloon and a polystyrene coolbox which he launched from a field in Massachusetts as part of a science project. The result was a time-lapse array of stunning photographs from the edge of space that could easily have come from Nasa, with its $17bn annual budget. Yeh, a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, enlisted two friends to help with Project Icarus, which he dreamed up to prove that it was possible to reach the upper levels of the atmosphere even on a tight budget…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

34. SGI Makes Leap Into 'Personal Supercomputing' http://www.hpcwire.com/features/SGI-Makes-Leap-Into-Personal-Supercomputing-60079687.html “…SGI's move into mini-clusters parallels Cray's entry into the market last year with the CX1. Like Cray's machine, Octane III is aimed at technical computing users in need of more power than a workstation, but looking for the same sort of turnkey user experience. Pricing looks to be in the same general range. Cray's minimally-configured CX1-LC starts at under $12,000, while SGI's base configuration for the Octane III starts at $7,995. The idea is to give workstation users a comfortable path to HPC, and establish a larger base of users upon which to grow the market…The graphics workstation comes with a single dual-socket, quad-core 5500 CPU and a choice of high-end NVIDIA GPUs: the Quadro FX1800, FX3800, FX4800, FX5800 for visualization, or the Tesla C1060 for GPGPU accelerated applications. Memory capacity tops out at 144 GB…”

35. Parallel Programming: I Told You So http://www.linux-mag.com/id/7526 “…First, parallel computing is hard and second we need to re-think how we do things. This opinion is shared by virtually everyone who has worked in HPC over the years. The prognosis is not that great either. Take a look at Greg Pfister’s blog where he writes about comments like Parallelism Needs a Killer Application…In a similar vein, Mike Wolfe of The Portland Group (producers of excellent optimizing compilers) writes in HPCwire about the recent OpenCL fanfare. His article entitled Compilers and More: OpenCL Promises and Potential provides a fair assessment of OpenCL. I like to think of these articles as “buckets of cold water thrown on the masses”…”

36. NextComputing Announces High-Density Stream Computing Server http://www.hpcwire.com/offthewire/NextComputing-Announces-High-Density-Stream-Computing-Server-59548257.html NextComputing, manufacturers of high-performance, portable workstations and servers, announces the NextStream, a high-density stream computing server…the NextStream is best suited to mission-critical applications requiring high-throughput data streaming and/or a mix of traditional CPU processing and GPU parallel processing…”


*****

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