2009/11/03

NEW NET Issues List for 03 Nov 2009

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 03 November 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 -- if there's a chain across the steps, ignore it and come on upstairs.

The ‘net

1. Want 50Mbps Internet in your town? http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/10/want-50mbps-internet-in-your-town-threaten-to-roll-out-your-own.ars “…Regional telco TDS Telecommunications last week issued a press release announcing a major milestone for the company: 50Mbps service over fiber optic cable to residents of Monticello, Minnesota…Even better is the price, which starts at $49.95 a month for 50Mbps fiber service without the need to buy other services…But the entire congratulatory press release glosses over a key fact: the reason that Monticello received a fiber network was the town's decision to install a municipal-owned fiber network to every home in town… spawning a set of TDS lawsuits that went all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the town…”

2. Firefox 3.5.4 closes security holes http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-10385082-264.html “…Mozilla released Firefox 3.5.4 for Windows, Mac, and Linux on Tuesday to patch six critical security holes and some other problems. The new browser version also improves stability and fixes a problem with clearing browser history…”

3. What Comes After the Real Time Web http://siliconangle.net/ver2/2009/10/28/what-comes-after-the-real-time-web/ “…The real-time Web, or what some of us call "The Stream," is not an end in itself, it’s a means to an end. So what will it enable, where is it headed, and what’s it going to look like when we look back at this trend in 10 or 20 years? The Stream is going to go through two big phases, focused on two problems, as it evolves: 1) Web Attention Deficit Disorder. The first problem with the real-time Web that is becoming increasingly evident is that it has a bad case of ADD. There is so much information streaming in from so many places at once that it’s simply impossible to focus on anything for very long, and a lot of important things are missed in the chaos…2) Web Intention Deficit Disorder. The second problem with the real-time Web will emerge after we have made some real headway in solving Web attention deficit disorder. This second problem is about how to get large numbers of people to focus their intention not just their attention… What changes to our bodies, minds and organizations may result from these selective evolutionary pressures?... * Individual brains will get less good at things like memorization and recall, calculation, reasoning, and long-term planning and action. * Individual brains will get better at multi-tasking, information filtering, trend detection, and social communication… * Our bodies may actually improve in certain areas. We will become more, not less, mobile, as computation and the Web become increasingly embedded into our surroundings, and into augmented views of our environments. This may cause our bodies to get into better health and shape since we will be less sedentary, less at our desks, less in front of TV’s…”

4. Travel book goes mobile with scannable QR code http://www.physorg.com/news175882488.html Now a technology called QR codes, for Quick Response, offers a way to forge a functional relationship between your guidebook and your smart phone. The codes are already big in Japan, but relatively unknown in the U.S. QR codes are essentially barcodes that can be scanned by smart phone cameras and other devices. You aim your camera at a QR code on a page in a travel book, for example, and it links to information online, such as a map or directions based on the user's location…QR codes can also appear in media other than books. You can scan them off a computer screen. They've been put on T-shirts and even billboards…Sounds neat? It is, except for the fact that this emerging technology still has a few bugs…”

5. Microsoft Drops Prices Of Cloud Apps http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/enterpriseapps/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=221500016 “…Microsoft has lowered the subscription prices for its cloud computing applications… The software giant has lowered the price of its Business Productivity Online Suite…from $15 a month per seat to $10 a month…For Exchange Online alone, its email software-as-a-service, the price drops from $10 to $5. Microsoft also has increased its standard e-mail storage per user from 5 Gbytes to 25 Gbytes -- the same amount that Google provides for Google Apps subscriptions…Google Apps, by comparison, which includes apps for documents, spreadsheets and presentations, in addition to email, costs only $50 per user per year…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

6. New LoroBot ransomware encrypts files, demands $100 for decryption http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=4748 Researchers from CA have intercepted a new ransomware variant encrypting popular file extensions (.zip; .rar; .pdf; .rtf; .txt; .jpg; .jpeg; .waw; .mp3; .db; .xls; .docx; .xlsx; .doc) and demanding a $100 for the decryption software. According to the message which replaces the desktop’s background upon execution, the files are encrypted with 256-bit AES encryption, and that “there’s a 0% chance that you will be able to manually decrypt the files without the encryption key“. However, this particular cybercriminal appears to be bluffing since the ransomware encrypts the data using the XOR cipher. Naturally, by doing so he allowed CA’s researchers to release a free decryptor for Win32/Gpcode.J.…”

7. Gmail and the Constitution http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2009/10/29/on-gmail-and-the-constitution/ “…Is it kosher for a law enforcement agency to, pursuant to a lawfully granted search warrant, search your Gmail account without telling you? According to an opinion handed down earlier this year…the answer is yes…Judge Mosman concludes…Much of the reluctance to apply traditional notions of third party disclosure to the e-mail context seems to stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the lack of privacy we all have in our e-mails. Some people seem to think that they are as private as letters, phone calls, or journal entries. The blunt fact is, they are not…”

8. Scamville: The Social Gaming Ecosystem Of Hell http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/10/31/scamville-the-social-gaming-ecosystem-of-hell/ “…companies are making hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue on Facebook and MySpace through games like Farmville and Mobsters…these games try to get people to pay cash for in game currency so they can level up faster and have a better overall experience. Which is fine. But for users who won’t pay cash, a wide variety of “offers” are available where they can get in-game currency in exchange for lead gen-type offers. Most of these offers are bad for consumers because it confusingly gets them to pay far more for in-game currency than if they just paid cash…The games that scam the most, win…There can be only one reason Facebook and MySpace turn a blind eye to user protection – they’re getting such a huge cut of revenue back from these developers in advertising. If they turn off the spigot, they hurt themselves. Zynga may be spending $50 million a year on Facebook advertising alone, fueled partially by lead gen scams. Wonder how Facebook got to profitability way ahead of schedule?...a large portion of it is coming from users who’ve been tricked into one scam or another…It’s time for this to stop. Facebook and MySpace need to create and enforce rules against it so that game developers aren’t tempted to get a competitive edge by scamming users. And if Facebook/MySpace won’t protect users, then the government will have to step in…”

9. Thousands of Consumer Internet Connectivity Devices Are Vulnerable to Attack http://www.physorg.com/news175788913.html “…Many of these devices are easy targets for just about anyone with mal-intent. One can ‘log in’ to your home router and plant software in it, much like a virus, and record your network traffic or alter it; record phone conversations, or do just about anything nasty one can imagine…Stolfo found that certain types of consumer devices publicly accessible over the Internet have vulnerability rates as high as 41.62 percent. Among VoIP phones, the vulnerability rate was one in five…Like PCs, embedded devices contain software…To protect themselves, consumers need only read their instruction manual and follow the directions telling them how to go online and set up their machine so no one can break into it.…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

10. Google Maps Navigation: The First Killer App for Android 2.0 http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_maps_navigation_the_killer_app_for_android_2.php Android 2.0 just got its first killer app: Google Maps Navigation. Google Maps Navigation for Android 2.0 will be available for free and will be part of the default Google Maps app on Android 2.0 phones. The service offers all the features that users expect from a modern GPS app, including traffic data, 3D view and turn-by-turn voice guidance. Because it's connected to the Google cloud, the app can also display street view images, satellite imagery and real-time traffic data. Google also implemented a voice recognition feature. Two weeks ago, Google severed its ties with Tele Atlas and started to display its own mapping data instead. Today's launch of the Maps Navigation app explains why Google decided to do this. Google can now display these maps without having to pay royalties to a third party and without having to negotiate a new contract with Tele Atlas…”

11. Want a Droid for work e-mail? It'll cost you $15 extra http://www.infoworld.com/d/mobilize/want-droid-work-e-mail-itll-cost-you-extra-575 “…Verizon offers three data plans for Droid customers: $30 month on top of your voice plan's rate for non-Exchange usage, $45 per month on top of your voice plan's rate for Exchange usage, and $50 per month total cost for a data-only plan (whether or not you use it to access Exchange)…”

12. iPhone cannot win the smartphone wars http://www.betanews.com/joewilcox/article/iPhone-cannot-win-the-smartphone-wars/1256668455 I'm going to make a bold prediction: Apple's iPhone will lose the mobile device wars…iPhone is to Android -- and somewhat Symbian OS -- handsets as Macintosh was to the DOS/Windows PC in the 1980s and 1990s…by the mid 1990s, Windows PCs pushed down Mac market share. The iPhone is poised to track similarly. Gartner predicts that Android OS shipments will exceed iPhone OS by 2012…Mobile devices like cell phones are sure to replace PCs…From this year, Gartner predicts that end users will spend more on smartphones than they will on notebooks. The analyst firm expects that most PC manufacturers will move into the smartphone market…the Windows PC is classic example of a robust and vital ecosystem. The Google informational/search platform is another. Around either platform, there is a discernible ecosystem of third parties -- not just software developers -- making lots of money. The two ecosystems are broad and deep. By comparison, Apple's App Store/iPhone/iPod touch platform is narrower and shallower, despite the depth of applications, because the ecosystem depends on a closed, end-to-end technology platform. Apple controls everything…”

13. Is the BlackBerry Doomed? http://www.toktumi.com/voipnews/blackberry-doomed/ “…At least part of RIM’s decline can be attributed to the surge in popularity of Apple’s iPhone and other smartphone devices…According to Gartner the BlackBerry will be leapfrogged by the iPhone, Microsoft Windows Mobile, and Google Android platforms in three years. Having recently developed versions of our popular Line2 app for both the iPhone and Blackberry platforms, I can tell you one major reason for RIM’s difficulties: It is simply too difficult and too expensive to develop applications for the BlackBerry platform. Developing for the iPhone platform was a piece of cake – one OS, one hardware platform, a powerful, well-documented API, and a simple submission process for the app store…the BlackBerry was never intended to support an app marketplace for third party developers. As a result developing for the BlackBerry was a nightmare. There are dozens of different models, many with different screen sizes, features, hardware, etc. If your software works on one, it may not work on others – so you have to test every single phone, every time you make a change…”

14. Stalqer Peers Into Your iPhone For A New Level Of Creepiness http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/10/27/stalqer-peers-into-your-iphone-for-a-new-level-of-location-based-creepiness/ “…Foursquare and Loopt have put location-based social networks on the map…there’s a new kid on the block, called Stalqer, which best described as a Foursquare on steroids. The iPhone app…will be free…Stalqer is very similar to Foursquare in that it tracks your and your friends’ locations…Stalqer updates the location in the background, which Foursquare, and most other apps, don’t do at the moment. This is because the device does not allow third party apps to run in the background. But Stalqer has found a way to record your location without you having to actually open up the application…The app sets up an email account which operates in the background, and collects large amount of data out of the POP or IMAP handshake relevant to location, primarily via the IP address…So when the phone checks for mail, the app gets a location point…on average, every 15 minutes…”

15. Creative is latest to tackle e-book readers http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10387880-1.html “…Creative…showed off a working model of its first e-book reader, tentatively named the MediaBook, at its annual general meeting Thursday in Singapore. The device reportedly has a touch screen, text-to-speech function, and an SD memory card slot. It will run on Creative's Zii System-On-Chip technology and will be Internet-enabled…”

16. New mobile device does Twitter and only Twitter http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/techchron/detail?&entry_id=50840 The Twitter Peek, which debuts on Amazon.com today, flies in the face of the "everything-and-every-app-you'll-ever-need-in-your-life" marketing used to promote today's smart phones. This hand held device does Twitter and nothing but Twitter…Executives at Peek Inc. of New York aren't betting on the tech-savvy crowd…they believe the Twitter Peak [sic] will interest customers who own simple, inexpensive cell phones, yet still want to read their Twitter news updates and other tweets away from the desktop. "Twitter's more useful on a mobile device,'' said Peek founder and CEO Amol Sarva…Peek's first products introduced last year - the Peek Classic, which just does e-mail and costs $19.95, and the $59.95 Peek Pronto, which accesses up to five e-mail accounts and can send and receive text messages. Each requires a wireless service plans that start at $15 per month…the Twitter Peak [sic] costs $99 for six months, which includes the monthly wireless data service through T-Mobile, and $7.95 per month afterward, with no service contract. Or you can fork over a one-time $199 payment that includes wireless service for the lifetime of the device…”

17. Opera Mobile 10 Beta For Smartphones http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/11/02/opera-mobile-10-beta-for-nokia-and-other-symbians60-smartphones-released/ It’s been about two months since Opera introduced the non-beta version of its Opera 10 desktop browser, and today the Norwegian software developer is following up on that release with that of the latest beta build of Opera Mobile, a custom browser specifically built to give Symbian and Windows Mobile equipped handset users a (much) more pleasant Web browsing experience…”

18. Augmented Reality Goes Mobile http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/nov2009/tc2009112_434755.htm “…Once Monocle is activated, users looking through the iPhone camera can see reviews and other information about restaurants, stores, and other businesses in the direction the camera is pointing. Monocle was one of the first smartphone applications in the U.S. to use a technology known as augmented reality, which meshes digital information with actual images of the subject of that data. For many, augmented reality evokes images of what the Terminator sees as he homes in on a potential target, or the real time data seen by Luke Skywalker as he scans the barren Tatooine desertscape through a pair of field goggles. Augmented reality, also known by the acronym AR, has been around for at least two decades, but it has been largely relegated to applications in key areas such as training and inspection in automotive and aerospace manufacturing…”

Open Source

19. Citibank Doesn't Want Your Business, Linux Users http://consumerist.com/5393579/citibank-doesnt-want-your-business-linux-users “…Citibank won't let customers using Linux computers log in to their online accounts. Adam argues that in 2009 this doesn't make sense, especially when no other major corporate website blocks him like this…I frequently struggle with Citibank because they seem to have decided to not support Linux and Firefox as clients for their online credit card account management sites…I want to be able to access my accounts online from my PC like I do for my cell phone provider, three other banks, my 401k manager, my school and scores of other places where online paperwork takes place as part of the business of real life. I'm even able to do online business with the State of New York, the State of Calfifornia, the IRS and even some obscure federal agencies...I can successfully apply for and receive a credit card through Citibank using Firefox and Linux, but after they've got my business, I can't login to manage my account. What's up with that…”

20. Ford unveils open-source Sync developer platform http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-10385619-48.html When Ford and Microsoft opened up their joint Sync platform for its own applications and updates, we wondered when the day would come that third-party developers would be given a crack at the in-vehicle infomatics interface. Well, that day may be on the horizon. Ford announced that it is testing an open-source platform to could be used in the future to develop applications that make use of Sync to connect to social networks in the cloud…the system is built on a Robotics Studio platform by Microsoft that has been layered with an open-source cloud-computing platform developed by Ford that will allow…interactions with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter…How can social network interactions be useful and safe in 2,000-plus pounds of steel moving at 70mph?…”

21. Open Source Hardware http://pcplus.techradar.com/node/3130/ “…Open-source hardware has reached its tipping point. If the time wasn’t ripe for this revolution, news of an open-source camera from a university wouldn’t have made it past the campus science journal. But Stanford’s Frankencamera project is popping up all over the radar…The Arduino computer project started as an inexpensive prototyping system and is now accessible to electronic students worldwide thanks to dozens of clones that spawned because of Arduino’s open specs. Then there’s the RepRap self-replicating open spec 3D printer that’s 50 times cheaper than commercial alternatives. Hardware maker VIA has released a reference design for a netbook, MIT plans to do the same with its solar-powered car and there’s even an open-source graphics card under development…Using non-proprietary standard hardware helps them keep their costs down…open-source hardware actually presents a business opportunity for the hardware vendors. Take the example of Cisco. When a licence violation forced the company to release the specs for one of its routers, sales picked up. A dozen or so third-party firmware projects mushroomed around the router and made it do things way beyond Cisco’s wildest imagination…”

22. Your own DNS http://www.wisnaes.com/2009/10/25/setting-up-your-own-dns-part-1-getting-started/ “…I have had a server in the house on and off over the years, but after moving to Brazil, it became a real need. The server is used for developing websites, testing different installations, caching updates for the workstations in the house, sharing files and sharing our laser printer as well as a number of other small things. It is also a way for me to learn more about networking, Linux servers etc. Learning is also one of the reasons why I would like to set up a small caching DNS that also resolves the stuff I have on my local network. This task has been a challenge, but with the help of a lot of different online documentation, friends that have given me tips about this and that, I have managed to get it to a point where I can truly say it is working. So I thought I would try to gather the information here, both to help others and for me to remember what I actually have done…”

23. Running Ubuntu 9.10 With Older PC Hardware http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=ubuntu_karmic_old&num=1 “…we looked at how Ubuntu 9.10 is running with older PC hardware…ran a set of tests across Ubuntu 8.04.3 LTS, Ubuntu 8.10, Ubuntu 9.04, and…Ubuntu 9.10…The laptop we used for this old PC hardware testing…had an Intel Pentium M 1.86GHz processor, Intel 915 + ICH6M Chipset, 2GB of system memory, an 80GB Hitachi HTS541080G9AT00 IDE HDD, and an ATI Mobility Radeon X300 graphics processor… Ubuntu 9.10 also provided the best performance when compared to earlier Ubuntu releases from the past 18 months. However, in six of the eighteen tests that were run, there were notable performance regressions involving Ubuntu 9.10. Many performance improvements can be attributed to the switch from the EXT3 to EXT4 file-system by default, but in the tests that did not benefit from this newer file-system, it ended up degrading the performance…most users will find Ubuntu 9.10 worth the upgrade…”

24. Early adopters bloodied by Ubuntu's Karmic Koala http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/03/karmic_koala_frustration/ “…Ubuntu 9.10 is causing outrage and frustration, with early adopters wishing they'd stuck with previous versions of the Linux distro. Blank and flickering screens, failure to recognize hard drives, defaulting to the old 2.6.28 Linux kernel, and failure to get encryption running are taking their toll, as early adopters turn to the web for answers…”

25. Linux Software Roundup: Communications Apps http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/ubuntu-linux-communications,review-31708.html “…we will be focusing on communications applications. While these apps still rely on Internet access to function, their focus is to allow the user to communicate with other individuals using the Internet simply as a transit medium. We will go over Personal Information Managers (PIM), email clients, Instant Messengers (IM), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software, and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) clients… Personal Information Managers (PIMs) are typically thought of as email clients deluxe, but they usually also include at least an address book, calendar, task manager, and some sort of system for taking notes…Evolution is incredibly user-friendly as far as PIMs go, without sacrificing advanced functions. I always wondered why many distros choose Evolution over Thunderbird, but I wonder no more. In short, Evolution gives even Outlook a run for it's money. If you don't like to run KDE apps, or if Kontact is simply overkill for your needs, go with Evolution…If your email address is provided to you by your ISP or the company that you work for, you will most likely need an email client…”

SkyNet

26. Google makes Similar Images part of image search http://news.cnet.com/8301-27076_3-10384618-248.html Google on Tuesday announced that its similar-images feature is now a standard part of the company's image search technology…as a way for users to find images that share certain visual similarities with those in Google Images search results. This means that you could do a search for "ice cube" and very quickly fork out Google's results between images of the frozen chunks of water and the popular West Coast rapper…”

27. Google Music Search: Partners with MySpace, Lala, Gracenote and Others http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_music_launches.php “…Google Music…service is powered by Lala and MySpace's iLike. Other partners include Gracenote, iMeem, Pandora and Rhapsody. Google has also partnered with the major music labels: EMI, Sony Music, Universal Music Group and Warner Music. Through Lala and iLike, Google will also be able to feature music from a large number of independent labels. This new service will be available only in the US for now and will be integrated in the default search results page…big winners here are obviously Lala and MySpace/iLike…”

28. More, more, more real estate in Google Maps http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/10/more-more-more-real-estate-in-google.html “…Google Maps has become an even more useful tool for online real estate searching. Here are a couple of things you can look out for next time you visit…we've made it easier to find real estate listings…simply select "Real Estate" from the 'More' button on the top right of any Google Map to discover listings…refine your search using the left hand panel - price, bedrooms, bathrooms…We've also added the ability to search for rental listings in the US…Google Maps is now showing even more information about an area as you pan around and zoom in. There are small icons on the map showing the names and location of businesses and prominent features of the neighborhood…”

29. Preview Google's Search Results http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2009/11/preview-googles-search-results.html “…If you click on "Show options" and select "Page previews" after performing a search, Google will show a longer snippet and a thumbnail for each search result…”

30. Google hybrid onboarding: cutting back on your long list of passwords http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/cutting-back-on-your-long-list-of.html “…Thanks to the utilization of new technology, we're now seeing large-scale success in eliminating the need for passwords while increasing the successful registration rate at websites to over 90%. The most visible examples come from Plaxo, Facebook, Yahoo! and Google using a technique the industry calls hybrid onboarding. In the past, if you're a Gmail user who got an invitation to use Plaxo or Facebook, you were asked to perform the traditional process of creating a new account with yet another password, and then you might also have been asked to provide the password of your email account so Plaxo or Facebook could look up the list of your friends. With hybrid onboarding, if you click on such an invitation in your Gmail…Clicking the large button on the Plaxo page takes you to a page at Google…If you give consent to share a few pieces of information, you are sent back to Plaxo with all key registration steps finished. The registration process used to involve more than 10 steps, including requiring you to find one of those "email validation" messages in your inbox. If you've followed the steps above, you can now sign into Plaxo more easily — by simply clicking a button…”

31. Eric Schmidt: What the Web Will Look Like in 5 Years http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_web_in_five_years.php Google CEO Eric Schmidt envisions a radically changed internet five years from now:… * Five years from now the internet will be dominated by Chinese-language content. * Today's teenagers are the model of how the web will work in five years - they jump from app to app to app seamlessly. * Five years is a factor of ten in Moore's Law, meaning that computers will be capable of far more by that time than they are today. * Within five years there will be broadband well above 100MB in performance - and distribution distinctions between TV, radio and the web will go away… * There are many companies beyond Twitter and Facebook doing real time. * "We can index real-time info now - but how do we rank it?"…”

32. Google: You too could win millions in stock http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-10388919-265.html “…Google…granted a Founders' Prize--"a multimillion-dollar stock bonus"--to the team that developed Google Chrome…”

33. Mystery of Argleton, the 'Google' town that only exists online http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/6474746/Mystery-of-Argleton-the-Google-town-that-only-exists-online.html “…Argleton, a 'phantom town' in Lancashire that appears on Google Maps and online directories but doesn't actually exist…The town appears on Google Maps in the middle of fields close to the M58 motorway, just south of Ormskirk…An internet search for the town now brings up a series of home, job and dating listings for people and places "in Argleton", as well as websites which help people find its nearest chiropractor and even plan jogging or hiking routes…Google and the company that supplies its mapping data are unable to explain the presence of the phantom town and are investigating…One theory is that Argleton could have been deliberately added, as a trap to catch companies that violate the map's copyright. So-called "trap streets" are often inserted by cartographers…Roy Bayfield, head of corporate marketing at what would be Argleton's closest university, Edge Hill, in Ormskirk, was so intrigued by the mystery that he walked to the where the internet indicated was the centre of Argleton to check that there was definitely nothing there…"I started to weave this amazing fantasy about the place, an alternative universe, a Narnia-like world. I was really fascinated by the appearance of a non-existent place that the internet had the power to make real and give a semi-existence." When Mr Bayfield reached Argleton – which appears on Google Maps between Aughton and Aughton Park – he found just acres of green, empty fields…”

General Technology

34. Turn Your Windows 7 Computer Into a WiFi Router In 5 Minutes, Free & No Hardware http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/how_to_turn_your_windows_7_computer_into_a_wireles.php Connectify.me is a new service we just found out about. They've sussed out how to make any Windows 7 computer into a WiFi hotspot. Since we just installed Windows 7 on a spare laptop, we figured it was about time to make Windows do something cool, so we installed the app. We were quite literally up and running with other devices connected in five minutes…”

35. Microsoft Exec Taking Heat On Windows 7 Upgrades http://www.crn.com/software/221400164 “…Windows 7 upgrade media won't allow users to do a clean install on a hard drive that doesn't have a previous Windows version, and many customers are finding this out the hard way when they try to upgrade…Microsoft's EULA only allows Windows 7 upgrades to be installed on PCs that have a previous version of Windows already installed…”

36. Stackable memory advance brings flash-killer closer to market http://arstechnica.com/hardware/news/2009/10/intel-and-numonyx-announce-stackable-phase-change-memory.ars Intel…and its collaborator, Numonyx, have hit on a way to increase PCM densities by stacking memory arrays on top of one another. They've demonstrated at 64Mbit memory using the stacking technique…PCM, which combines the speed of DRAM and the non-volatility of flash memory, has been the subject of much excitement…each memory cell consists of a small chunk of a special alloy that changes its physical characteristics and electrical properties (i.e., it changes phase) in response to how it is heated and cooled…Because the PCM memory cells are so much simpler than a flash cell, and because the basic technology doesn't bump up against the same kinds of physical limits as magnetic storage, PCM holds out the potential for a massive boost in storage densities, in addition to its other desirable properties…”

37. Elders in a digital world http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/technology/personaltech/29basics.html “…Contrary to stereotypes, computers, social networks, e-mail and even video games are becoming essential parts of older peoples’ lives. Some of the highest growth rates in broadband use are happening among the elderly…Although challenges remain for many older people, any number of products can help them become more involved in the digital age. Here’s a look at some of the most popular ones…”

38. Construction robot inspired by sci-fi flick Aliens http://www.news.com.au/technology/story/0,25642,26280648-5014239,00.html “…The Dual-Arm Power Amplification Robot gives users superhuman strength and resembles the hydraulic exoskeleton worn by Sigourney Weaver in the climactic scene of the sci-fi classic. The robot is being developed for disaster relief situations and can lift more than 100kg…Most robot researchers think that robots should move as automatically as possible with very little human instruction," Mr Shirogauchi said. "What we are developing is a robot which moves only when an instruction is given from a human and moves exactly according to that instruction." The robot's primary purpose is construction and comes with interchangeable parts to adapt to any situation…”

39. An App so You'll Never Forget http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/23846/?a=f “…Smart.fm is one of several companies selling software designed to help users remember. The company's algorithms were inspired by research that shows people remember information more effectively they try to memorize it at key times…Those algorithms determine how often to present a piece of information to the user and in what context. For example, a completely new word and its translation are shown frequently, and a user is asked relatively easy questions about them, designed to jog the memory. But once the user has demonstrated the ability to recall that word and its meaning, this information will appear less often…”

Leisure & Entertainment

40. DSi LL: Nintendo supersizes its gaming handheld http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10385975-1.html “…Nintendo has taken the wraps off a new version of the DSi handheld that sports larger 4.25-inch dual screens…We're still scratching our head as to who would actually want one of these, since we've always felt the pocketable aspect of the DS/DSi was one of its great advantages…”

41. Board game Settlers of Catan comes to iPhone http://download.cnet.com/8301-2007_4-10383423-12.html If you've never heard of Settlers of Catan, you owe it to yourself to read the Wired story, Monopoly Killer: Perfect German board game redefines genre. Then you owe it to yourself to buy a copy, as I did, and find two or three friends for one of the best board game experiences you'll ever have. No friends? No problem: Settlers of Catan just landed on the iPhone and iPod Touch. And you don't need 2-3 available humans, 3-4 available hours, and a flat surface to play it. For the uninitiated, Catan unfolds on an island. It's your job to score 10 victory points by capturing the most settlements, building the longest roads, and so on…”

42. Nintendo Profit Halved as Wii Console Sales Slow http://www.pcworld.com/article/174633/nintendo_profit_halved_as_wii_console_sales_slow.html “…Nintendo sold 5.75 million Wii consoles during the April to September period, down 43 percent on the same period a year earlier, it said Thursday. It also cut its full-year sales forecast for the period from April 2009 to March 2010 to 20 million consoles because of the poor results. It had been hoping to sell 26 million. The sharp drop in Wii sales was attributed to a lack of big-name games…”

43. Best Buy Prepares for the Post-DVD Era http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/best-buy-prepares-for-the-post-dvd-era/ Best Buy sells a lot of DVDs, but it is taking another step to get ready for the day when that business shifts online. The giant electronics retailer on Tuesday is announcing a partnership with Sonic Solutions‘ Roxio CinemaNow service to deliver first-run DVDs streamed online directly to consumers. The idea…is to let consumers pay once for a DVD and then eventually be able to play it on any device: television, Blu-ray disc player, personal computer, handheld media player or smartphone…”

44. Kingston, Paramount Team Up on Movie Delivery Via Flash Memory http://www.realtechnews.com/posts/6825 “…Kingston and Paramount Digital Entertainment (PDE) announced a new delivery system for movies, on flash memory rather than optical media…the movies will be supplied on Kingston media in as part of bundle packages and for sale. The first such movie, “Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen” is currently available at all OfficeMax stores for $29.99. Customers receive this movie on a 4 GB Kingston DataTraveler drive…users obviously shouldn’t expect Blu-ray quality video. After all, a single-layer DVD is 4 GB in size…you are obviously losing quality, just vs. regular DVD. much less Blu-ray. One good thing is you can count on the drives themselves: Kingston Data Traveler drives have a five-year warranty and 24/7 tech support…”

Economy and Technology

45. Meet Zong+, A Mobile Payments Platform On Steroids And Potential PayPal Killer http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/10/29/meet-zong-a-mobile-payments-platform-on-steroids-and-potential-paypal-killer/ “…Zong’s model of billing micropayments to your cell phone bill…in 2009 alone, Zong has processed mobile payments for over 10 million unique users worldwide. Today, Zong is launching a new feature…Zong+, a extension of the mobile payment startup which lets users bill microtransactions to credit, debit and prepaid cards…in addition to making online purchases through their cell phone bill, Zong customers will also be able to link any type of payment card to their Zong account through a one-time entry process and continue to purchase goods by simply entering their mobile number and confirming the security transaction code sent to their phone…”

46. Amazon Speeds Checkout with PayPhrase http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/amazon_speeds_checkout_with_new_payphrase_technology.php “…Amazon.com has just announced a new checkout system called "PayPhrase" which speeds up the process of making online purchases by allowing shoppers to enter a unique phrase and 4-digit PIN number to complete their transaction. Both the phrase and PIN are created in advance and are linked to a shipping address and preferred method of payment. After the initial set up, PayPhrase users are no longer required to sign in or fill out credit card information when shopping online. Amazon already has a similar speedy checkout system known as "1-Click."…Although not designed to replace 1-Click, the new PayPhrase system is even easier to use and more flexible. Using this system, shoppers don't have to be signed in to the site with an Amazon account as is necessary with 1-Click…”

47. With Ribbit, BT Is Rethinking Its Voice Business http://gigaom.com/2009/10/30/why-bt-is-rethinking-the-voice-business/ “…BT, formerly known as British Telecom…bought Mountain View, Calif.,-based Ribbit for $105 million some 15 months ago…BT has fully embraced the new communications reality, one that goes beyond mere voice calls. And to show how serious it is, the company has made Ribbit founder Ted Griggs the chief technology officer of BT Voice…Ribbit…was started about three years ago with the promise of bringing together web and voice using a new kind of a platform, one that was able to take inputs from different communication tools — XMPP, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, MSN and Flash Media Server –- and make them talk to their “switch.”…Ribbit’s products merge traditional notions of communications with web applications and extend them. In other words, voice is viewed as just another API that can be used to enhance a user’s experience. Ribbit for Salesforce and Ribbit for Oracle are two examples of voice and the web coming together…” [http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/ribbit_mobile_launches_challenges_google_voice.php ]

48. Is this how Novell treats its customers? http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-10387502-16.html “…in what strikes me as a first, Novell has publicized a customer loss, announcing to the world that the City of Los Angeles dropped it for Google Apps, including Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. Who at Novell could have possibly thought this was a good idea?...Until Novell's announcement, I had no idea that Los Angeles had dumped Novell GroupWise in favor of Google Apps, and suspect few others did, either. Novell, however, attacks Los Angeles' decision, arguing "The City of Los Angeles should have opted for this proven product [GroupWise] to ensure the security of its data and to save taxpayer money. They have taken a risk with no reward."…This isn't the Novell that I know. I used to work for Novell, and have never seen the company publicly criticize a customer, not even for defection…the only companies that benefit from this kind of customer abuse are IBM and Microsoft, because Novell slams Google Mail's alleged security and cost deficiencies, without them having to sully their hands…”

49. How technology really helps the economy http://www.physorg.com/news175509560.html “…Since about 1995, the U.S. economy has experienced a productivity resurgence…Some manufacturing companies have re-thought the whole production process…all of the companies we looked at, these organizational changes are bigger and more costly than the technology investments themselves…companies are adding value to the economy, but it's often showing up as greater consumer value rather than in GDP…There is a big disruption going on. This current recession, the Great Recession, is not a simple cyclical downturn in demand. Instead, when demand comes back, it's going to be for a lot of new products and new services and in whole new industries. So it's not just a Great Recession; it may be The Great Restructuring, a fundamental reorganization of business activity. It's not simply a matter of going back and buying the same things we used to buy. Some of them won't exist any more. One reason I think we're seeing such a lag in hiring and employment is that people aren't simply being hired back into the same old jobs they did before. It's going to take a lot of entrepreneurial activity to figure out the best way of grappling with these problems…”

Civilian Aerospace

50. Masten Space Systems take lead in $1 million race http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/10/30/2111070.aspx “…Masten Space Systems' Xoie rocket prototype has apparently taken the lead in a nail-biting race for a million-dollar prize from NASA. The Masten team's "try, try again" effort at California's Mojave Air and Space Port was aimed at winning the top prize in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge's Level 2 contest. Although the official results are still pending, it looks as if today's flight was good enough to best Texas-based Armadillo Aerospace, which qualified for the prize with its Scorpius rocket last month. A dark-horse team in the race, California-based Unreasonable Rocket, still has a chance to snare the prize, either later today or on Saturday…”

51. Controversy erupts over mock lunar lander contest http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18087-controversy-erupts-over-mock-lunar-lander-contest.html “…Masten was originally offered just two days – Wednesday and Thursday – to attempt the competition flights. They were unable to start the vehicle's engine on Wednesday, and were able to make only one of the necessary two legs of the flight on Thursday, hampered by a fuel leak that caused the rocket to catch fire as it landed (see a video of the flight here). Lunar Lander Challenge judges then decided to allow Masten another opportunity to fly on Friday beyond the two they had originally scheduled, prompting a protest from Armadillo president John Carmack. Similar extensions have not been afforded teams in past years. "The rules have given the judges the discretion to do just about anything up to and including awarding prize money for best effort if they felt it necessary, so there may not be any grounds to challenge this, but I do feel that we have been robbed," Carmack wrote…”

52. Rocketeers win $1.65 million in prizes http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/11/02/2111070.aspx “…Masten Space Systems' Xoie rocket prototype has won a million-dollar prize from NASA, edging out…Armadillo Aerospace, which qualified for the prize with its Scorpius rocket in September. NASA said Armadillo would receive the Level 2 contest's $500,000 second prize. A different flight by a different rocket, known as Xombie, earned Masten the $150,000 second-place prize in the Lunar Lander Challenge's less ambitious Level 1 contest. Armadillo won the $350,000 top prize in Level 1 last year…The program, one of NASA's Centennial Challenges, was aimed at encouraging the development of new rocket technologies that could potentially be used in future spacecraft…Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge has had its intended impact, with impressive performances by multiple teams representing a new generation of aerospace entrepreneurs," Andrew Petro, NASA's Centennial Challenge program manager…questions were raised about the fairness of giving Masten an extra opportunity to launch beyond the scheduled times on Wednesday and Thursday. Armadillo team leader John Carmack said…For the past couple weeks, as it became clear that Masten had a real shot at completing the Level 2 Lunar Lander Challenge and bettering our landing accuracy, I have been kicking myself for not taking the competition more seriously and working on a better landing accuracy. If they pulled it off, I was prepared to congratulate them and give a bit of a sheepish mea culpa…The current situation, where Masten was allowed a third active day of competition, after trying and failing on both scheduled days, is different. I don't hold anything against Masten for using an additional time window that has been offered, since we wouldn't have passed it up if we were in their situation, but I do think this was a mistake on the judges' part. "I recognize that it is in the best interests of both the NASA Centennial Challenges department and the X Prize Foundation to award all the prize money this year, and that will likely have indirect benefits for us all in coming years…Permit me to be petty enough to be upset and bitter about a half-million dollars being taken from me and given to my competitor…but I do feel that we have been robbed…the judges decided to award Masten the million dollars and give Armadillo the $500,000 second prize. The contest started out with four competitors. One of the teams, BonNova, withdrew from the competition before making an official flight attempt. But the Unreasonable Rocket team…persevered to the very end. On Friday and Saturday, Unreasonable Rocket repeatedly tried to fly its Blue Ball rocket through the Lunar Lander Challenge's Level 1 course…Blue Ball eventually made it through the first leg of the Level 1 course on Saturday - but the rocket sustained damage during the landing and could not launch again for the second required leg…Unreasonable Rocket's Level 2 entrant, known as the Silver Ball, made a series of tethered test flights on Sunday. During the day's fourth test, the rocket severed the tether and crashed…Unreasonable Rocket's father-and-son team won high praise from onlookers as well as the organizers of the challenge. "They are only the third team to successfully fly the flight profile of the competition, so they have much to be proud of…”

53. KC Team Competes to Build an Elevator to Space http://www.fox4kc.com/wdaf-space-elevator-102909,0,5183920.story “…The Kansas City Space Pirates…are one of only three teams left in the space elevator competition at Edwards Air Force Base in the California Desert…"We're in it for the prize money, and the fact that it could change the state of mankind in the future, that's just all the better," said Brian Turner, captain of Kansas City Space Pirates…"These solar panels convert to electricity, which comes to the electronics on the back side, here, and powers this little motor," said Turner. The motor propels the robot up a cable attached to a helicopter more than half a mile in the air. The faster, the better…it's powered with a laser, shot through a custom-built telescope…we'll be beaming more energy to our robot in this competition than has ever been beamed to a remote moving device ever…The space elevator games start next week on Wednesday. You can watch it on NASA TV…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

54. China Joins Petaflop Club http://www.hpcwire.com/blogs/China-Joins-Petaflop-Club-67358662.html China…has unveiled "Tianhe," a 1.206 peak petaflop machine powered by a combination of 6,144 Intel CPUs and 5,120 AMD GPUs. Amazingly, the price tag was a mere $88.24 million. The system is installed at the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT)…In the TOP500 sense, Tianhe would not be considered a true petaflop system. According to online reports, the machine achieves only(!) 563.1 teraflops with Linpack…Tianhe's rather low Linpack efficiency (Rmax/Rpeak) may limit its applicability somewhat…The NUDT machine didn't even manage to reach the 50 percent mark in efficiency…Most supers have a Linpack efficiency north of 75 percent…The new Earth Simulator in Japan boasts a 93.4 percent figure. Undoubtedly, the problem is related to extracting Linpack FLOPS from the GPUs. Although one would think these general purpose graphics processors would excel at this type of vector math, optimal Linpack performance is also dependent on a generous cache. Modern CPUs have plenty of it, but GPUs contain only limited internal caches…NVIDIA's upcoming Fermi processor will be the first GPU with a true cache hierarchy (not to mention much better double precision performance), so I imagine Linpack results on this architecture should be a good deal more impressive…Tianhe will represent an interesting test case for a CPU-GPU hybrid supercomputer…”

55. Chinese Academy of Sciences and Tsinghua University Named CUDA Centers of Excellence http://www.hpcwire.com/offthewire/NVIDIA-Recognizes-Chinese-Academy-of-Sciences-and-Tsinghua-University-as-CUDA-Centers-of-Excellence-66938532.html NVIDIA today announced that the Institute of Process Engineering (IPE) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Tsinghua University have been recognized as CUDA Centers of Excellence for their commitment to furthering GPU Computing research and their teaching of parallel programming courses based on the CUDA architecture…NVIDIA's recognition of the CAS IPE and Tsinghua University stems, in part, from the institutions having demonstrated their commitment to revolutionizing science and engineering research with GPU Computing by leveraging NVIDIA Tesla GPUs across a host of science and engineering research projects…”

56. Compilers and More: A Computing Larrabee http://www.hpcwire.com/features/Compilers-and-More-A-Computing-Larrabee-67032637.html “…Intel has been careful to present Larrabee as a graphics processor that can also be used for highly parallel tasks such as game physics, avoiding the claim that it will be appropriate for HPC. The Intel marketing department isn't stupid, of course; they don't want to erode the market for their own very high-powered and successful (and highly profitable) Core-2 (and beyond) server processors. Nonetheless, it will be hard to prevent experimentation and even productization of HPC systems with Larrabee processors, either as the main CPU or as an attached accelerator…Larrabee looks an awful lot like an x86 cluster node; anyone who has experience building HPC clusters has pretty good intuition about the design tradeoffs that make for a balanced and effective system…Larrabee supports several kinds of parallelism. It was recently stated that Larrabee will have 32 cores in its first implementation…The Larrabee goes back to a simpler time, apparently back to the original Pentium dual-issue, in-order control unit. This simplifies the microarchitecture, freeing up chip real estate for other purposes, in this case for more cores…designers simplified the control unit in order to free chip resources and expand other capabilities. For RISC, this meant a larger register file and cache, while for Larrabee, it means more cores. Both solutions depend on software to deliver performance…”

57. NVIDIA and VSG Accelerate Oil & Gas Exploration http://www.hpcwire.com/offthewire/NVIDIA-and-VSG-Accelerate-Oil-Gas-Exploration-65993032.html “…Open Inventor 3D Graphics Toolkit will employ the NVIDIA CompleX scene-scaling acceleration engine, enabling the visualization and manipulation of huge data sets required for energy exploration. Open Inventor…advanced 3D applications to fully scale across the multiple graphics processing units (GPUs) powering NVIDIA Quadro Plex visual computing systems. This technology turns a single workstation into a visual supercomputer, providing engineers and scientists an immersive, ultra-high resolution experience capable of handling extremely large visual scenes, such as those used in seismic interpretation and other oil & gas-related research…"The value of NVIDIA application acceleration engines integrated into software like Open Inventor and powered by Quadro professional solutions is incredibly significant to the oil and gas industry…Geophysicists can…discover new energy reserves more rapidly and cost effectively than ever before…”

58. Researchers help ease transition to parallel programming http://www.physorg.com/news175509292.html In 1995, a good computer chip had a clock speed of about 100 megahertz. Seven years later, in 2002, a good computer chip had a clock speed of about three gigahertz -- a 30-fold increase. And now, seven years later, a good computer chip has a clock speed of... still about three gigahertz…chip makers…adopted a new strategy for increasing computers' power: putting multiple "cores," or processing units, on each chip. In theory, a chip with two cores working in parallel can accomplish twice as much as a chip with one core. But software developers tend to see their programs as lists of sequential instructions, and they've had trouble breaking up those instructions in ways that take advantage of parallel processing. Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Saman Amarasinghe and his colleagues at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab are giving them a hand. In the past, computer science researchers had hoped that sequential programs could be converted into parallel programs automatically. "I spent a good part of my life trying to do that," says Amarasinghe. But Amarasinghe has now come to the conclusion that "if you want to get parallel performance, you have to start writing parallel code…”


*****

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