2009/12/08

NEW NET Issues List for 08 Dec 2009

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 08 December 2009, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering.

We're trying out a sort-of-new location this week -- Harmony Cafe at 233 E. College Avenue, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA -- not sure which table(s) we'll be at, so if you don't see us downstairs, check upstairs. Harmony has free wifi and has an assortment of food and beverages. NEW NET used to meet in this 'location' several years ago when it was the Pilgrim Cafe.

Googlegooglegooglegoogle. In the many years I've been using Google and reading articles and posts about the company and its products, I've never seen anything close to the avalanche of announcements and stories about Google that proliferated on the web over the past week. The NEW NET meeting this week could quite easily be totally allocated to discussing Googlestuff. Not sure if that's a good thing or an ominous omen of Skynet's imminent total dominance of the interwebs. I, for one, welcome our tech overlords and would like to remind them...

The ‘net

1. Yes, We Can Write Our Opinions Without Contacting The Company We're Writing About First http://techdirt.com/articles/20091130/0854257133.shtml “…I recently wrote a short post about something that was apparently happening with YouTube and soon after received an angry email from a PR person at the company first scolding me for not contacting Google PR first and then demanding that I insert some PR babble paragraph that said nothing that addressed the key questions raised in the post in "response."…If I got something factually wrong, I have no problem having someone point out what was in error, but demanding that I first contact them and then include a meaningless statement is ridiculous. If the PR folks have something to say, they're free to take it up in our comments…For too long, companies have hid behind bland PR statements and the willingness of the press to "balance" stories with an accusation and a denial, but no real effort to get to the bottom of things. That's changing, and it's time that companies and their PR reps caught up to what's happening.”

2. As Google Backs Away From A Plug-in, Microsoft Rushes Towards One http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/12/02/google-microsoft-silverlight/ “…by far the most interesting thing they showed was the new beta version of Bing Maps. While it looked very nice, the real reason why it was so interesting is what it requires: Silverlight. This news comes just days after Google’s revelation…that they were backing away from supporting Gears in the future, in favor of HTML5…With Silverlight, Microsoft continues to make it clear that they intend to use this web application framework, which they developed, to power much of what they are doing on the web going forward. Again, the problem here is that not only does Microsoft control this, but it requires a plug-in to use…A humorous aside about the video linked to above is that while it’s a talk about Microsoft’s commitments to standards and interoperability with IE9, you need Silverlight to play it…” [Guess I probably won’t be using Bing maps in the future…]

3. Can Social Networking Find 10 Red Balloons? http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/can_the_internet_find_10_red_balloons_darpa_network_challenge.php “…The federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) plans to moor 10 red weather balloons at 10 fixed locations in the continental United States, and whoever sends in the GPS coordinates of all the balloons first will win $40,000…DARPA wants to test how the Internet, crowdsourcing and social networking can help to solve "broad-scope, time-critical problems."…Some teams have developed iPhone apps (iTunes link), while others are going to scour Twitter for clues. Some teams are also taking a more traditional approach and plan to simply drive around hoping to spot the balloons - and hoping their team will be large enough to find them…DARPA…hopes…this event…will foster fresh thinking and encourage technologists to discover "new, collaborative ways to approach problems…” [Balloon hunt nets $40,000 for MIT-led team http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34303629/ns/technology_and_science-innovation/ ]

4. Mozilla’s Thunderbird 3: Faster Search, Tabbed Email And More http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/12/07/mozillas-thunderbird-3-to-take-flight-with-faster-search-tabbed-email-and-more/ “…Tomorrow, the makers of Firefox will be launching the third version of Thunderbird, its open source and free email application that is produced out of Mozilla Messaging…One of the main improvements to Thunderbird 3, says Mozilla Messaging CEO David Ascher, is the client’s search capacity…Thunderbird 3 also includes tabbed email…The email client has been tweaked to integrate more seamlessly with Gmail and Windows and Mac OS X…Thunderbird currently has 10 to 15 million users…”

5. Tandberg to bring high-end video conferencing to low-cost PCs http://venturebeat.com/2009/12/08/tandberg-aims-to-bring-high-end-video-conferencing-to-low-cost-pcs/ “…Tandberg is announcing that high-end video conferencing features are being built into its low-cost PC video collaboration tool, Movi. The product is aimed at mobile workers who need to collaborate by video without too many quality compromises…It connects users via standard-based H.323 and SIP video conference systems. Norway-based Tandberg pairs its Movi software with its PrecisionHD USB camera, which can transfer video at 720p resolution and 30 frames per second. That good enough for high-definition video quality. The hope is to enable anyone in the world to work with others remotely…”

6. Bing search site suffers outage http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8394676.stm Microsoft has apologised for a brief outage which saw its search site Bing disappear from the internet. The outage lasted for nearly 30 minutes between in the early hours of 3 December. At that time anyone visiting the site got an error message…the outage was caused by a "configuration change" made to the site during testing. This, it said, had "unfortunate and unintended consequences" which included making the site unavailable…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

7. Yahoo, Verizon: Our Spy Capabilities Would ‘Shock’, ‘Confuse’ Consumers http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/12/wiretap-prices/ Want to know how much phone companies and internet service providers charge to funnel your private communications or records to U.S. law enforcement and spy agencies? That’s the question muckraker and Indiana University graduate student Christopher Soghoian asked all agencies within the Department of Justice…Yahoo writes in its 12-page objection letter (.pdf), that if its pricing information were disclosed to Soghoian, he would use it “to ’shame’ Yahoo! and other companies — and to ’shock’ their customers.”…Verizon took a different stance…Customers may see a listing of records, information or assistance that is available only to law enforcement…but call in to Verizon and seek those same services. Such calls would stretch limited resources, especially those that are reserved only for law enforcement emergencies.” Other customers, upon seeing the types of surveillance law enforcement can do, might “become unnecessarily afraid that their lines have been tapped or call Verizon to ask if their lines are tapped…The first DoJ agency to respond to his request was the U.S. Marshals Service…it had price lists available for Cox Communications, Comcast, Yahoo and Verizon…Comcast and Cox were fine with the disclosure…But Verizon and Yahoo took offense at the request. Yahoo…claims…disclosing the information would provide clues to its operating costs — regardless of whether these same clues are already available in public records…equally important to Yahoo’s objections was the potential for “criticism” and ridicule…Yahoo…added, in a veiled threat, that if the Marshals Service were to show anyone its letter objecting to the disclosure of pricing information, it could “impair the government’s ability to obtain information necessary for making appropriate decisions with regard to future FOIA requests…”

8. EFF sues feds for info on social-network surveillance http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-10407224-245.html The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the CIA, the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Justice, and three other government agencies on Tuesday for allegedly refusing to release information about how they are using social networks in surveillance and investigations…sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr for investigative or data gathering purposes…requests were prompted by published news reports about how authorities are using social networks to monitor citizen activities and aid in investigations…government officials have: used Facebook to hunt for fugitives and search for evidence of underage drinking…searched the home of a social worker because of Twitter messages regarding police actions he sent during the G-20 summit; and used fake identities to trick Facebook users into accepting friend requests…None of the agencies contacted had complied with the EFF's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and only one, the IRS, had asked for an extension, according to the suit…”

9. Commercial tool to crack BitLocker http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2009/12/first-commercial-tool-cracks-bitlocker.ars Passware, a software firm that provides password recovery, decryption, and evidence discovery software for computer forensics, has updated its flagship application this week to support breaking Microsoft's BitLocker hard drive encryption…Passware claims that full disk encryption was a major problem for investigators and that its tool helps police…That may be, but…anyone with $795 can now circumvent the encryption…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

10. Analysts Predict 1 Billion+ Mobile Web Users by 2010 http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/analysts_predict_1_billion_mobile_web_users_by_2010.php According to recent predictions from analyst firm IDC, mobile web usage is set to explode over the course of next year due to market forces like the tripling of iPhone applications, the quintupling of Android applications and the introduction of Apple's long-rumored tablet computer…While IDC may not predicting the death of the PC, it does believe that in 2010 mobile devices will eclipse PCs in several areas - or at least come very close…the firm claims we'll see more than a billion mobile devices connected to the web by year-end. That's almost as many mobile devices as internet-connected PCs, the latter which will total 1.3 billion…the growth rate of mobile devices is 2.5 times that of PCs…”

11. 20 mobile trends and future technologies http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/120409-20-mobile-trends-and-future.html “…Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Sony Corp. and Research in Motion Ltd. provided food for thought on upcoming uses for mobile devices at a Technology Town Hall meeting in Toronto…The presentations focused on emerging trends and future applications for mobile technology. Here are 20 highlights…”

12. All Hail The iPod Touch http://gigaom.com/2009/12/06/all-hail-the-ipod-touch/ “…it is becoming increasingly clear that the iPod Touch is Apple’s ace-up-its-sleeve, and according to a report by Flurry, a San Francisco-based mobile analytics company, 24 million iPod Touches represent about 40 percent of the total 58 million iPhone OS devices…it is just like an iPhone except that it has more storage, is skinnier and has none of the hassles of dropped calls…so what if it doesn’t make phone calls or have 3G connectivity? Those are problems you can fix by buying a MiFi and getting connected to Verizon’s 3G network, and you can make Skype calls as well…the iPod Touch is quietly building a loyal base among the next generation of iPhone users, positioning Apple to corner the smart phone market not only today, but also tomorrow…a whole generation of kids is now growing up with keyboard less computing as a default way to interact with machines…”

13. The Nook Isn't A Kindle Killer, But It's Still Awesome http://www.businessinsider.com/the-nook-is-no-kindle-killer-2009-12 “…Do this now: Disregard all other ebook readers on the market besides Nook and Kindle. Unless you plan to get all of your books from back-alley torrents, or stick to self-published and out-of-copyright PDFs, you are going to need a reader with a good content-delivery system, one it connects to directly via wide-area network…Sony messed up by putting a glare-inducing film over its screen to provide questionably beneficial touch controls; iRex avoided that, but made a "touch" interface that requires a stylus…The second screen is not a sudden and miraculous cure for what ails ebook readers…But Barnes & Noble is itself promising round-the-clock enhancing, optimizing and debugging over the next few months, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were three or four updates pushed through the Nook by March—the first possibly before Christmas. Does that mean it's not ready now? Let me put it this way…you are going to get a gadget worth being excited about…when Barnes & Noble gets its in-store offers and book-lending operation underway, Amazon will have to step up, or sit down…”

14. AT&T releases free app to report network problems http://www.tuaw.com/2009/12/07/atandt-offers-app-so-you-can-report-crappy-service-huh/ In one of life's supreme ironies, AT&T today posted an iPhone app that allows you to report substandard service. That's right folks. Got a dropped call? No reception?...Let's see... I don't have any reception, so I pull out my new AT&T app to notify them of the problem. Doh! No reception to do that. And the app even nicely brings up a GPS map showing where I am. The GPS signal is much more reliable of course. Look, I know AT&T means well, but the app is a tacit admission that all is not well on the AT&T network. I know you could travel to someplace with good reception, and send the data to them, but I think this app will rub salt in an already sensitive wound. This reminds me of when I worked at a PBS station many years ago in Ohio. We had pretty weak reception, and the Station Manager decided to do an hour long program to tell people how to adjust their antennas if they couldn't receive us. I tried, and failed, to convince him that the very people we were trying to reach couldn't see the program. My pleas fell on deaf ears…”

15. Microsoft's mobile strategy needs a reboot http://www.betanews.com/article/See-ya-later-WinMo-Microsofts-mobile-strategy-needs-a-reboot/1259877453 “…Microsoft's second mistake: assuming that a great mobile OS was simply a pared down version of its desktop equivalent. Microsoft, which has subscribed to this mantra right down to the Start menu and cascading menus that until recently defined the UI, completely missed the mark on this one…First, we don't have the screen real estate. What works on a 23-inch flat screen doesn't simply shrink to the 3-ish-inch panels on most phones today…Second, we don't have the time. It may be acceptable to wait a few seconds for our laptops to look up an address. After all, we have dozens of other windows running at the same time, so we're absolutely free to pop into any of them and work on something else until the machine completes the task…When you're in transit, you need that answer now. From an often underpowered, battery-deficient sliver of technology…Apple, which wisely stripped anything remotely desktop-like out of its Mac OS X when adapting it for the iPhone, gets the need for simplicity. Likewise, Research In Motion, whose BlackBerry…interface hasn't changed much in a decade, remains a model of stripped down simplicity…”

16. Storing lithium batteries for longevity http://www.rcuniverse.com/magazine/article_display.cfm?article_id=1183 “…Batteries are perishable products that start deteriorating right from the moment they leave the factory…focus in this month's issue of AMP'D is to show some simple preventive measures that anyone can apply to slow the aging process of Lithium packs…The Battery University states that the recommended storage temperature for most batteries is 15°C (59°F). While lead-acid batteries must always be kept at full charge, nickel and lithium-based chemistries should be stored at 40% state of charge…Keep batteries in a cool and dry storage area. Refrigeration is recommended but freezers should be avoided. When refrigerated, the battery should be placed in a plastic bag to protect against condensation. Do not fully charge lithium and nickel-based batteries before storage. Keep them partially charged and apply a full charge before use. Store lithium-ion at about 40% state-of-charge (3.75-3.80V/cell open terminal). Lead-acid batteries must be stored fully charged…”

Open Source

17. Install ChromeOS in a USB Stick http://www.unixmen.com/linux-tutorials/606-install-google-chromeos-in-a-usb-stick “…Diet Chromium OS is one of many Chromium OS builds, Diet Chromium comes courtesy of a UK student and programmer known as Hexxeh. Hexxeh explains that he constructed the build in order to "fill a gap that hadn't been filled." His Web site offers instructions on how to install the lighter Chromium build on Windows, Mac and Linux machines.If you are interested to install Google ChromeOS (Diet) in a usb stick, then follow the instructions bellow [sic]…” [if you’re interested in this topic, consider attending the FDLLUG meeting this week]

18. Track Your Missing Notebook with Pombo http://www.linux-magazine.com/Online/Blogs/Productivity-Sauce-Dmitri-s-open-source-blend-of-productive-computing/Track-Your-Missing-Notebook-with-Pombo To recover a lost or stolen notebook, you need all the help you can get -- and this is where Pombo can come in rather handy…a tiny Python script that runs…quietly in the background and collects tracking information such as the IP address and information about all network interfaces as well as information about nearby wireless access points. In addition to that, the script can take a screenshot using the scrot tool and capture a snapshot with the notebook's webcam using the streamer utility. The script then packs, encrypts, and uploads the tracking information to a destination server…”

19. Why Open Source Phones Still Fail http://news.yahoo.com/s/zd/20091204/tc_zd/246552 The ultimate hacker phone, the Nokia N900 is the truest expression of Linux—the OS and the philosophy—that you'll find on mobile this year. It's a great niche gadget. But the idea that free, open-source solutions will sweep the mobile world is just as doomed in the U.S. as the idea of popular, open-source desktop PCs—in this case, because mobile networks don't welcome the unexpected, and they don't welcome geeks…With one exception, of course: Android. Android is a Linux-based OS, although it doesn't sign on to that namby-pamby free, open-source philosophy…”

SkyNet

20. Google Public DNS: is Google getting more evil? http://blog.louisgray.com/2009/12/still-waiting-for-evil-google-its-not.html Like many other early adopter technology watchers did today, I tweaked my computer settings to utilize Google's new Public DNS system…I did so for a few reasons - namely the promise of improved speed during Web surfing and because I trust Google implicitly…While others…expressed concern about Google's increasing knowledge base, which now includes the totality of your Web activity, I tend to believe, as Jesse Stay does, that this is just yet another move to prepare the way for the growth of Chrome OS and more Web apps from Mountain View, which will demand greater speeds, reduced load times, and fewer barriers - barriers which other gateways to the Internet have used to block specific application types, Web sites, or protocols…The more programs and services that Google introduces, the more I see people start talking about Google the way they once talked about Microsoft…the company is doing…a fantastic job of keeping people updated, and letting its developers be visible to explain away any questions…Today, on FriendFeed, as one commenter suggested Google could be sharing this information with the government or other entities, Google engineer DeWitt Clinton answered with clarity, "half the company would quit in protest on the spot if Google even contemplated doing something like that. Including our own founders…” [http://venturebeat.com/2009/12/03/google-launches-dns-service-for-faster-more-google-controlled-web/ ]

21. Is Google DNS faster? http://blog.browsermob.com/2009/12/google-public-dns-vs-opendns-vs-your-isps-dns-measuring-performance/ “…we were curious if their service really offered significant performance benefits. So we…built a quick-n-dirty tool to measure exactly that…The results surprised us… * Google – 67.3 ms * OpenDNS – 45.8 ms * Qwest DNS – 25.6 ms…our trusty old DNS server we’ve always been using is still the fastest…We were very surprised, however, to see how much faster OpenDNS was compared to Google…we’ve made the test available for everyone…”

22. One of Google Chrome OS's hardest tasks? Printing http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-10407264-265.html “…Google is paying close attention to the thorny problem of making sure Chrome OS will work with the myriad devices consumers can be expected to connect to those Netbooks, said Linus Upson, engineering director for the Chrome browser and Chrome OS…manufacturers of USB storage drives and cameras have all pretty much settled on standards that make it easy to ensure those devices will work with your software. But printers are another story. Printer drivers are generally unique to the device and pose problems for computer makers. "We want to get out of the business of printer drivers. All the problems related to drivers we want to go away," Upson said…talks are ongoing with printer manufacturers, Upson said. Expect to see something from Google along those lines prior to the expected launch of Chrome OS in late 2010. As for the other driver problem--the so-called "long-tail" of USB devices--don't hold your breath waiting for Chrome OS support for your Wacom tablet. "If that's important, Chrome OS is not the OS for you in 2010…”

23. Google Images: better format for image results http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/show-me-pictures-better-format-for.html “…Over the next twenty-four hours we're rolling out a new format for image universal results. When we're confident that we have great image results, we'll now show a larger image and additional smaller images alongside. With this new layout we're able to show you more pictures than before, so you have more to choose from…”

24. Google Chrome now bundled with Avast http://download.cnet.com/8301-2007_4-10409905-12.html “…Avast and Google Chrome might be the next peanut butter-and-jelly combo in the software world. Google's nascent browser has paired with one of the most popular free security programs in the world so that when users run the Avast installer on a computer that has neither Chrome nor Avast, they'll be offered a chance to install Chrome simultaneously. This is the first such bundling for Avast in its 21-year existence…The Avast/Chrome combo may strike some as an odd couple, or at least more beneficial for Avast than for Chrome, but keep in mind that Avast has more than double the users that Chrome does…Chrome had more than 40 million users…the Czech Republic-based security vendor is preparing to fly its 100 millionth user to Prague on an expenses-paid trip…”

25. Google Chrome Extensions & Mac and Linux Versions Available http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_chrome_extensions_mac.php “…Google Chrome may be the best browser on the market. It's faster and more stable than Firefox and today began opening up to user modification with the availability of more than 300 browser extensions. Official Mac and Linux versions were just made available today as well. Can Chrome remain so much stronger than Firefox once a pile of extensions or added on?... If you haven't tried Chrome yet, you really should. Poor little Firefox is a great community project and has done wonders for the web, but it's grown bloated and slow over the years…”

26. Offline Gmail Becomes Standard Feature http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/offline_gmail_becomes_standard_feature_but_still_uses_gears.php “…This morning Google announced that "offline Gmail" is leaving the Gmail Labs testing area and will be implemented as a standard feature for all users. Once enabled, this feature allows you to access your Gmail even when no internet connection is available. You can read and respond to messages, star them or label them just as you would if you were online. When a connection is restored, all the changes you made are synced with Google's servers and any messages in your Outbox are sent out. As of today, all Gmail users will now have this feature turned on by default, however those who have never used it before will need to configure it first in order to take advantage of the enhanced functionality…”

27. Google launches real-time search http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10410599-2.html “…We are here today to announce Google real-time search," Singhal said, calling it "Google relevance technology meets the real-time Web." Twitter search will show the latest matches for a particular search term, but Google wants to do more than sort results by time. "Relevance is the foundation of this product," Singhal said…Google will build a section called "latest results" into the regular Google search results page that automatically refreshes Internet content from sources like Twitter …”

28. Google acquires AppJet/EtherPad http://venturebeat.com/2009/12/04/google-acquires-appjet-maybe-wave-will-become-usable-now/ “… AppJet’s EtherPad collaborative browser-based word processor is, many people say, much easier to figure out and use than Google Docs, with a much more intuitive, attractive user interface…this morning AppJet announced on its company blog that it’s been acquired by Google for an unspecified amount. Here’s some advice for Google: Let the AppJet team overhaul not just Google Docs, but the intractable, needlessly complex Google Wave real-time collaboration tool…” [EtherPad is Back Online Until Open Sourced http://etherpad.com/ep/blog/posts/etherpad-back-online-until-open-sourced ]

29. Google quietly rolls out Dictionary http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2009/12/google-dictionary.html “…The search giant has quietly rolled out Google Dictionary, which presents definitions and synonyms…Dictionary companies have expected Google would saunter into their realm any day…The company that might be hurt the most by Google's new product is Answers.com. Previously, the "definition" button at the top right of all Google searches for words would direct users to entries on the Wikipedia-like Answers.com site. Now those links go to Google Dictionary, a less colorful, less cluttered interface…”

30. Google builds ‘Translated Search’ into main search engine http://topnews.us/content/28711-google-entwines-translated-search-feature-its-main-search-engine Google's automated language translation feature, which is currently available at the Google Translate service, is being entwined into the Internet search giant's main search engine…the new tool will facilitate users in quickly finding Google search results in their preferred non-English language, out of any of the 51 languages that will initially be available…users need to click on 'Show Options' at the top of the search results page; and thereafter choose 'Translated Search.' Upon the mention of the search term by the user, Translated Search selects thedifferent languages in which to translate the user's query, and presents the listing of search results written in those languages…”

31. Google Finance Adds Realtime News Streams http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/12/04/google-finance-realtime-news/ “…Google Finance is adding realtime news streams. If you go to its market news page, the stories will update automatically without refreshing the page…Looking at it now, new stories are updating only every minute or two…when a stock-related story is breaking, it could be very compelling…When new headlines break every 10 or 15 seconds or so, it becomes a new way to consume news. You can sit there and literally watch the news as headlines scroll down automatically. Perhaps that is why the news stream will only be turned on during trading hours. It switches back to the static news page 90 minutes after trading ends in the U.S. and starts up again the next morning 90 minutes before…”

32. Google extends personalized search to all http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-10409885-265.html “…Google keeps a history of your Web searches for up to 180 days, using what it says is an anonymous cookie in your browser to track your search queries and the results you most frequently click on. For several years it has allowed those with Google accounts to receive customized search results based on that history, but now even those without Google accounts will receive tailored results based on a history of their search activity…By building a profile of past searches, Google can also gain insights into what kinds of advertising you're most likely to favor…Privacy advocates will likely be put off by the fact that this is an opt-out rather than opt-in service…”

33. Google Reinvents Search For Mobile Era http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/web_services/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=222000946 “…strides Google has made in voice recognition and image recognition promise to open new markets for the company and to change the way people search and interact…Google on Monday announced…Google Goggles, an experimental image recognition system for Android 1.6+ devices by which users can submit search queries using snapshots of certain objects…"What's Nearby?" location-based search capability in Google Maps for mobile…a plan to provide in-conversation voice translation across languages, starting in the first quarter of 2010…Google is deepening its commitment to new modes of search: search by voice, search by location, and search by sight…location-based search will be able to provide information about whether requested products are in-stock at shops willing to share inventory data with Google…”

34. Google Favorite Places coming to window near you http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-10409904-265.html “…Google is turning its sights squarely on the local ad market, with plans to promote its local business listings in storefronts around the U.S. Stickers bearing Google's logo and a QR code have been distributed to 100,000 of the most popular businesses in Google's Local Business Center database, and starting this week consumers will be able to use code-scanning applications on modern phones to look up the Google listing for that particular restaurant, store, or dry cleaner…The company analyzed which local listings were generating the most activity, and declared those to be "Favorite Places on Google," and therefore eligible for the sticker promotion…”

35. Google Earth: Sometimes eight screens are better than one http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/12/sometimes-eight-screens-are-better-than.html “…Dan Barcay, one of the engineers on the Google Earth team, modified a Google Earth client so that it would synchronize views across multiple computers. The effect was pretty stunning: all of a sudden, flying around in Google Earth really felt like flying, and exploring the ocean trenches was like piloting a submarine. When you splashed through the sea surface you cringed slightly, expecting to get wet. You could even command your own lander down to the Moon or Mars. It was amazing to all of us how much more impressive Google Earth felt when we were surrounded by screens and able to turn our heads to look around (and even walk around). It felt more like a ride than a computer program, something between an observation-deck and a glass-walled spaceship. As a result of this totally seamless, immersive experience, we decided to name it the Liquid Galaxy. With the Liquid Galaxy, we could fly through the Grand Canyon, leap into low-Earth orbit, and come back down to perch on the Great Pyramid of Giza without even breaking a sweat…”

36. Living Stories: Google, NY Times and Washington Post http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/living_stories_google.php “…Living Stories is the name of a new experimental collaboration between Google Labs, the New York Times and the Washington Post that seeks to transcend that 500 year-old metaphor with a parsable flow of news content around big stories…”

General Technology

37. How the Mac roared back http://brainstormtech.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2009/12/01/charlie-wolf-how-the-mac-roared-back/ “…The twin drivers of the Mac’s rebound," he writes in his executive summary, "were the home market’s continued share gains in the PC market and the Mac’s share gains in the home market itself…Wolf makes the case that there's an iPhone "halo effect" that's even stronger than the original iPod halo, especially in Europe…Its dollar share of the home market is growing even faster than its unit share. Today, Apple gets one out every ten dollars spent on home computers worldwide. (See below.) In the U.S., its dollar share is more than one in five.”

38. Intel's Larrabee GPU put on ice http://arstechnica.com/hardware/news/2009/12/intels-larrabee-gpu-put-on-ice-more-news-to-come-in-2010.ars Intel's Larrabee will launch eventually, but not as a GPU…Intel will put the hardware out as a development platform for graphics and high-performance computing. But Intel's plans to make a GPU aren't dead; they've just been reset…The Larrabee delay is obviously great news for NVIDIA, and even better news for AMD…”

39. Of Geeks and Girls http://scicom.ucsc.edu/SciNotes/0901/pages/geeks/geeks.html “…Cheryan, now a psychologist at the University of Washington…offers an explanation: Women don't identify with the archetypal image of computer scientists. Cheryan's subjects describe this image as “nerdy, techie, stay up late coding, energy drinks, no social life.… They don't frequently take showers.” The geek room conjures this picture in our minds, Cheryan says, based only on the stuff we find lying around…Her research also provides a potential solution: Change the perceptions by changing the stuff. But for the women who already feel at home in computer science, this is a threatening thought. “You get used to people being quirky,” says Sherol Chen, a graduate student in computer science at UC Santa Cruz. “There's no punishment for being different here.” Changing the culture might wipe out that sense of belonging, they fear…According to the NSF, the last 20 years have seen a massive influx of women into fields like chemistry, biology, and math. Women earned more than 60 percent of the undergraduate degrees in biology in 2006. The fraction of women getting math degrees has hovered around half since 1975. But the percentage of women completing computer science majors peaked at 37 in 1984, and has steadily declined since…”

40. Seagate enters solid-state drive market http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-10411097-92.html Seagate is making a belated but potentially market-changing entry into the solid-state drive market…Seagate's first salvo in the market is the new Pulsar drive, which is designed for blade computers and general server applications and offers up to 200 gigabytes of capacity…the key dollar metric for solid-state drives in the server market is IOPS, or input/output operations per second…SSDs provide superior dollars per IOP as compared to traditional hard drives," said Rich Vignes, a senior product line manager at Seagate. Pulsar drives achieve a peak performance of up to 30,000 read IOPS and 25,000 write IOPS, Seagate says…”

41. Austin student's team wins national science competition http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/2009/12/08/1208siemens.html “…Liberal Arts and Science Academy junior Dan Liu will share the $100,000 Siemens Competition grand prize for research…Liu; Sean Karson of Winter Park, Fla.; and Kevin Chen of Sugar Land won the team category of this year's competition…For their project, "Relating Missing and Decycling Edges in Directed Graphs," Liu and his team tackled a 30-year-old math problem in the field of graph theory. Their work, Siemens officials said, could lead to greater efficiencies in complex networks such as the Web and transcontinental trade routes. Contest judges said in a statement Monday that the work had already been cited by other mathematicians…The team's mentor was Jian Shen, a math professor at Texas State University, which hosted the math camp where the team members met. Liu said he and his teammates kept in touch after math camp by phone, e-mail and video Web chatting…”

Leisure & Entertainment

42. Apple Has Acquired Lala http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/04/AR2009120404715.html “…Apple has acquired digital music startup Lala…For over a year, Lala users have been purchasing the rights to stream their music an unlimited number of times for ten cents per song…all the money users have been spending on web songs may go down the drain…It seems inevitable that Apple will eventually launch its own cloud-based streaming music service…This acquisition comes a little more than a month after Lala was integrated into Google's OneBox and Facebook's gift store…”

43. University of Michigan teaches how to create iPhone instruments http://www.macworld.com/article/144720/2009/12/iphone_music.html “…Over the past year, several well-respected colleges have created ensembles built around the idea of using an iPhone or an iPod touch combined with wrist-strap USB speakers to play music compositions. Following the lead of Stanford's Mobile Phone Orchestra, the Helsinki Mobile Phone Orchestra, and the Berlin Mobile Phone Orchestra, the University of Michigan has assembled their own mobile phone ensemble. Michigan's is unique in that they have built a college course around it. The course is called “Building a Mobile Phone Ensemble” and it is taught by Georg Essl, one of the leading developers behind the research that led to Ocarina. In this class, students not only have to compose and conduct performances with their iPhone instruments, but they also have to write their own software to create instruments…”

44. Boxee debuts Boxee Box, ready to take on Roku http://digital.venturebeat.com/2009/12/07/boxee-debuts-boxee-box-ready-to-take-on-roku/ “…New York based startup Boxee is looking to become the conduit through which people view and share web based content on their TVs. The company’s software transforms your laptop into a set-top box like Roku. While I control Boxee using the Apple Remote from my Macbook, many users are desperate to ditch their laptops, demanding a dedicated media device with Boxee at its core. Boxee answered Monday by announcing a D-Link built Boxee Box…Through partnerships with Internet TV guide Clicker and social conversation tool Cliqset, the improved social media functions include a simplified interface for finding and sharing content on Facebook and Twitter…he expected the Boxee Box to be available in stores in the Q2 of next year with an anticipated price of $200…Boxee will remain open source, with the D-Link box to be the first of many set-top boxes that will run the Boxee software. Boxee CEO Avner Ronen also said that the Boxee Box does not have Netflix integration as of yet, although he hopes to have it done shortly…”

45. Get Discounted Concert Tickets at the New Windows Section 7 http://on10.net/blogs/sarahintampa/Get-Discounted-Concert-Tickets-at-the-New-Windows-Section-7/ Microsoft has teamed up with concert promoter Live Nation to launch Sections 7, a website for finding discount concert tickets, select artist merchandise, and other offers. New users are prompted to register upon their first visit to the site in order to gain access to exclusively offered discounts, daily music deals, and even sweepstakes. Every day the site features new deals and discounts, so it’s worth revisiting on a regular basis…”

46. Redbox Will Destroy the Entertainment Industry http://newteevee.com/2009/12/08/study-redbox-will-destroy-the-entertainment-industry/ “…just wait for the entertainment apocalypse that Redbox’s dollar-a-night movie rentals will bring about. That, in a nutshell, is the bottom line of a new report…from the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. that says Redbox’s low-cost movie rental will cost the entertainment industry $1 billion in revenue…Redbox is disrupting the home video industry in four ways: * DVD sales are cannibalized * Customers will want lower rental prices from other outlets * The perceived value of movies will be harmed * Redbox’s sale of discs into the aftermarket conflicts with other retail channels…While the report spends much of the time decrying Redbox and its kiosk ilk, it does hedge itself a bit, saying that “foregone revenues from low-cost new release DVD rentals may be hard to distinguish from other transformational shifts in the industry…”

Economy and Technology

47. Groupon: social networking to enable deep discount on local group offers http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/12/02/groupon-gets-a-hefty-30-million-from-accel-for-local-offers-service/ Chicago based Groupon…offer users deep discounts on local deals – spas, sky diving lessons, hotels, restaurants, golf, whtaever. Discounts range from 40%-90% of the normal price. If enough people buy into the offer, everyone gets the deal. If there aren’t enough people, no one gets the deal…Example – 1,600 people in one day bought skydiving lessons in Chicago, says the company, getting a 44% discount on the $229 price. And the company making the offer normally sells just 6,000 lessons per year. They sacrificed some profit, but gos [sic] lots of new customers. What makes the service so compelling is that people have an incentive to get their friends involved to make sure the minimum is hit. And Groupon makes it easy to spread the word about offers via Facebook and Twitter…”

48. Beware Social Media Snake Oil http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_50/b4159048693735.htm For business, the rising popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media Web sites presents a tantalizing opportunity. As millions of people flock to these online services to chat, flirt, swap photos, and network, companies have the chance to tune in to billions of digital conversations. They can pitch a product, listen to customer feedback, or ask for ideas. If they work it right, customers might even produce companies' advertising for them and trade the ads with friends for free…But the same tools carry risks. Employees encouraged to tap social networking sites can fritter away hours, or worse. They can spill company secrets or harm corporate relationships by denigrating partners. What's more, with one misstep, one clumsy entrée, companies can quickly find themselves victims of the forces they were trying to master…”

49. The rise and fall of MySpace http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fd9ffd9c-dee5-11de-adff-00144feab49a.html “…MySpace was firmly at the forefront of Web 2.0, the label at that time applied to a new level of software functionality that helped internet users to interact directly with one another. As an online social network, MySpace offered a new kind of shared experience, ­connecting millions of users via interests in music, film and popular culture…Its rapidly expanding tribe of users had attracted the attention of other potential buyers. Viacom, for one, a rival media conglomerate that owns companies such as Paramount Pictures and Comedy Central, was eyeing it…Murdoch got there first and the resulting $580m deal transformed his image at a stroke…Millions of teenagers across the world adored MySpace, spending hours every day connecting with each other online and fine-tuning ­personal profile pages that reflected their tastes and personalities. News Corp had new-found cultural cachet…Months after the acquisition…MySpace signed a three-year advertising contract with Google worth $900m – effectively paying for News Corp’s purchase…by the beginning of 2008, things began to sour. Facebook, a rival social network that was simpler and easier to use, was gaining momentum and starting to grow more quickly than MySpace…Users began to desert the site, which had become cluttered with unappealing ads for teeth straightening and weight-loss products…in April this year, DeWolfe left, closely followed by most of his senior management team. Since then, MySpace has shed 40 per cent of its staff, closed many of its international offices and publicly given up trying to match Facebook in the race to become the world’s biggest social network…”

50. Citysearch, Urbanspoon start pulling in tweets http://venturebeat.com/2009/12/06/citysearch-urbanspoon-start-pulling-in-tweets-take-that-yelp/ “…Citysearch and Urbanspoon, two IAC-run sites devoted to helping people find places to go out and eat, are announcing deep Twitter integrations today…incorporating a Twitter stream isn’t jaw-dropping from a technical perspective, but it should serve as a warning to other review sites like Yelp that real-time streams of thoughts could pose a threat to their model…Instead of reading static reviews, people could check in on a Twitter stream to see if restaurant customers from the night before were happy with dinner. Or they theoretically could use a location-based service like Gowalla, Loopt or Foursquare to see if a bar is really busy right now based on the number of check-ins…”

51. Trulia looks to capitalize with iPhone app and mobile web upgrades http://venturebeat.com/2009/12/08/trulia-hopes-to-capitalize-with-iphone-app-and-mobile-web-upgrades/ “…Trulia, a real estate search engine, today released its upgraded iPhone application and new mobile version of its web site. Trulia is a free service with no registration required that provides home buyers and real estate professionals with key real estate data and the ability to search through some 3.5 million homes for sale…For the visual searcher, movable maps allows the user to toggle and find homes in selected areas as well as update search preferences directly from the map…For the mobile web, realtor.com lists over 3.8 million homes and gives you similar search preferences and listing formats. For iPhone apps, RedFin and Zillow are the closest competitors…”

Civilian Aerospace

52. Rocket test will carry Purdue experiment http://www.physorg.com/news178826040.html Purdue University researchers are designing and building an experiment that will operate during a test flight of a new type of reusable rocket…It is one of three scientific research payloads recently selected by Blue Origin to be carried to suborbital altitudes during a flight test of the company's New Shepard rocket…Purdue's experiment, funded by the National Science Foundation, involves studying conditions in which liquid wicks or remains stationary when influenced by a specially designed structure inside a spherical vessel…Because of the weightlessness of a spacecraft in orbit, liquid propellants float freely inside fuel tanks and water drops bounce around inside recycling systems. This complicates efforts to design fluid management systems for spacecraft…”

53. Virgin Galactic's Commercial Spaceliner Makes Public Debut http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/091207-spaceshiptwo-debut-wrap.html “…SpaceShipTwo made its debut here today – a super-slick looking rocket plane showcased as the world's first passenger-carrying commercial spacecraft…New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was joined by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for the honor of christening SpaceShipTwo as Virgin Space Ship (VSS) Enterprise. "I have to tell you that there's a lot of cool things you get to do when you're Governor, said Schwarzenegger. "But today is one of the coolest things that I've ever done." Schwarzenegger said that "space is our next great frontier," and pledged to keep California in the forefront of space enterprise as the "aerospace capital of the world."…Branson has billed Virgin Galactic as the world's first commercial spaceline…"I want to say that this program has been, at this point, harder than we thought it would be. It's taken longer and is more difficult," Rutan admitted, saluting Branson for sticking with the project. "This is an enormous milestone today in unveiling the first commercial manned spacecraft…Next year will mark a major shakeout of the SpaceShipTwo, said Rutan. "We'll do captive carry, glide tests...then rocket-powered flights and then open the envelope and fly to space…”

54. Spaceport supporters tout project in Washington, D.C. http://www.sheboyganpress.com/article/20091203/SHE0101/912030471/1973/SHE0205/Spaceport-supporters-tout-project-in-Washington-D.C. Advocates for making Sheboygan the Midwest's hub for aerospace development made their case Wednesday before the House Aviation Subcommittee in Washington, D.C., arguing that the city's location and industrial base make it uniquely suited for that role…Spaceport Sheboygan is one of several proposed spaceports in the country seeking to join six federal spaceports and six already-licensed commercial spaceports. The Great Lakes Science and Education Center has raised about $5 million so far, including the city's donation of the armory, and need about $11 million to open Spaceport Sheboygan…”

55. Congress Examines Astronaut Safety on Commercial Spaceships http://www.space.com/news/091202-congress-astronaut-safety.html “…Two U.S. companies, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Orbital Sciences Corp., are already building unmanned cargo ships under separate contracts with NASA worth about $3.5 billion in all to deliver supplies to the International Space Station after the shuttle fleet retires. They and other firms have also announced intentions to build craft capable of carrying humans to orbit…NASA's safety chief, said the agency has provided its safety requirements to those firms, but formal discussions over human-rating a commercial spacecraft have not yet begun. The agency plans to use some federal stimulus funds to develop concise technical requirements for non-NASA spacecraft builders, as well as set up some form of oversight…the House committee for transportation and infrastructure met to take testimony from commercial spaceflight experts on the maturity of privately developed spacecraft…the FAA will likely watch over actual flights of commercially-built manned spacecraft…”

56. SpaceX starts NASA astronaut training http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2009/12/spacex-trains-its-first-batch-of-nasa-astronauts.html “…SpaceX announced Thursday that it recently conducted its first NASA astronaut training class…SpaceX, the upstart aerospace company founded by internet tycoon Elon Musk, is creating the Dragon capsule initially to carry cargo the International Space Station starting in 2011 after the space shuttle is retired…the training took place in October at its corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., and focused on how astronauts will interact with Dragon while it’s approaching and being berthed to the space station…”

57. Suzaku Spies Treasure Trove of Intergalactic Metal http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/astro-e2/news/intergalactic_metal.html “…This is the first detection of chromium and manganese from a cluster…Previously, these metals were detected only from stars in the Milky Way or from other galaxies. This is the first detection in intergalactic space…The chromium is 30 million times the sun's mass, or 10 trillion times Earth's mass. The manganese reservoir weighs in at about 8 million solar masses…The Suzaku study data show it took some 3 billion supernovas to produce the measured amounts of chromium and manganese…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

58. Researchers Demonstrate a Better Way for Computers to 'See' http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/?p=1989 “…Harvard and MIT researchers have recently demonstrated a way to build better artificial visual systems by combining screening techniques from molecular biology with low-cost high-performance gaming hardware donated by NVIDIA. Below is an image of the 16-GPU ‘monster’ supercomputer built at the DiCarlo Lab…the 18″ x18″ x18″ cube may be one of the most compact and inexpensive supercomputers in the world…The team drew inspiration from genetic screening techniques whereby a multitude of candidate organisms or compounds are screened in parallel to find those that have a particular property of interest…Their models outperformed a crop of state-of-the-art computer vision systems across a range of test sets, more accurately identifying a range of objects on random natural backgrounds with variation in position, scale, and rotation…”

59. Air Force To Expand PlayStation-Based Supercomputer http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/linux/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=221900487 The U.S. Air Force is looking to buy 2,200 Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles to build out a research supercomputer…The PlayStation 3s will…be added to an existing cluster of 336 PlayStation 3s being used to conduct supercomputing research…The Air Force has used the cluster to test a method of processing multiple radar images into higher resolution composite images (known as synthetic aperture radar image formation), high-def video processing, and "neuromorphic computing,"…Department of Defense awarded $2 million for this research under its High Performance Computing Modernization Program, the DOD's arm for supercomputing research, development, test, and evaluation. That follows an initial investment of $118,000 on the original cluster…the information directorate's advanced computing architectures team considered alternative configurations and the possibility of a hybrid system, but found multicore Xeon servers slower and more expensive than PS3s, and GPGPUs to be slower in some important types of calculations…”


*****

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