NEW NET Issues List for 15 Dec 2009

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 15 December 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. Trading ethics for ad revenue: Facebook pushes people to go public; I hear lawsuits riding on the wind http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebook_pushes_people_to_go_public.php Facebook announced this morning that its 350 million users will be prompted to make their status messages and shared content publicly visible to the world at large and search engines. It's a move we expected but the language used in the announcement is near Orwellian. The company says the move is all about helping users protect their privacy and connect with other people, but the new default option is to change from "old settings" to becoming visible to "everyone." This is not what Facebook users signed up for. It's not about privacy at all, it's about increasing traffic and the visibility of activity on the site…”

2. wikiHow vs. eHow: Is The Wiki Way Better Than Content Farms? http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/wikihow_vs_ehow_is_the_wiki_way_better_than_content_farms.php “…Herrick sold the business he founded, eHow, to Demand Media in 2006. eHow is one of Demand Media's flagship properties, but Herrick became frustrated with the focus on quantity over quality. So he created another business, wikiHow, which he claims produces higher quality articles…Herrick thought that the mediocre content production would hurt eHow's long term brand. Although he now concedes he may've been mistaken on that point, given Demand Media's success over the past couple of years…He thinks that the wiki way will "ultimately result in a higher quality product," compared to eHow…Jack Herrick admits that "wiki content typically starts out as low quality," but claims that…"the more people who edit an article, the more readers it attracted and the higher quality the article became." The problem is, there's no guarantee any given article will attract passionate volunteers to edit it…wikiHow…calls itself a "hybrid organization," meaning a "for-profit company focused on creating a global public good." But it's a company nonetheless. While the content of wikiHow has a Creative Commons license, the company profits directly by it…”

3. Online Couponing To Climb Beyond Downturn http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=118946 “…while the Internet this year accounted for less than 5% of all coupon redemptions, they represented one-fifth of their value…online versions typically have greater face value ($2.80 versus $1.41 for traditional circular coupons)…online leads the way this year in restaurants and retail stores…online still lags in coupon redemptions for supermarkets and drug stores, which continue to rely mainly on Sunday inserts and in-store promotions…online coupons outperformed print ones in categories such as attention, emotional engagement, memory retention and effectiveness. More players are jumping into online coupons as well, from traditional players like Valassis (RedPlum.com) and Valpak to Gannett's ShopLocal.com to a raft of pure-play Internet companies. Borrell expects the wider coupon craze to outlast the downturn as marketers come to understand their impact on shopping behavior…”

4. Skype 4.2 beta for Windows http://www.downloadsquad.com/2009/12/10/skype-4-2-beta-for-windows-adds-call-transfer-chrome-browser-pl/ Skype has released a new beta version of its internet communication client. Skype 4.2 beta for Windows includes…a couple of major new features including the ability to transfer calls. You can transfer calls to any of your Skype contacts for free. You'll have to pay SkypeOut rates if you transfer a call to a mobile phone or landline. There's also a call quality indicator, improved functionality with the Winodws 7[sic] taskbar and system tray, and improvements to the contact importing utility. Now that the Google Chrome web browser supports plugins, Skype has also added a Chrome plugin to its list of browser tools…”

5. WebGL: 3D Web draft standard http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-10413447-264.html “…hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to the Web has reached draft standard form. The standard, called WebGL, lets programmers who use the Web's JavaScript language take advantage of the fact that video cards can handle 3D graphics with aplomb…Internet Explorer remains the dominant browser in terms of usage…Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome, and Opera Software's Opera--are working hard…to get ahead by advancing the Web state of the art…All four of those browser makers have endorsed WebGL, and developer test versions of Firefox, Safari, and Chrome have it built in. Microsoft declined to comment for this story beyond reiterating its general support for standards…”

6. MapQuest Does Street Level Imagery http://www.spatiallyadjusted.com/2009/12/14/mapquest-does-street-level-imagery/ “…MapQuest 360 View “just works” without requiring any 3rd party player downloads. Take that Bing Maps…MapQuest works without any Silverlight player to get in your way…except of course it uses a 3rd party player called Flash. I suppose this plays into Adobe’s assertion that their 3rd party player download is included by default in many browsers by default…”

7. Freaked-Out Tweets After Earthquakes Help Scientists http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/12/twitter-earthquake-alerts/ “…U.S. Geological Survey scientists have developed a web service that combines seismic data about an earthquake with Tweets of surprise and angst…The goal of the project is to improve emergency response by providing a crowdsourced window of the conditions on the ground immediately following a quake…the “Earthquake! Earthquake!” SOS that you tweet, aggregated with thousands of others, provides an excellent indication of the strength and severity of a quake…“We’ve developed a prototype system that integrates Twitter messages with our standard earthquake alerts,” Earle summarized…”

8. ZumoDrive For Cloud Storage And Syncing Application http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/12/14/zumodrive-lands-1-5-million-for-cloud-storage-and-syncing-application/ “…Zumodrive…creates a drive on your device that is synced to the cloud. But service has a different twist-the service tricks the file system into thinking those cloud-stored files are local, and streams them from the cloud when you open or access them…instead of saving local copies…ZumoDrive released a new version of its system that wirelessly syncs playlists between devices, auto-detects content, and lets users link file folders on their devices to ZumoDrive only once so that changes in that folder will always be linked to ZumoDrive…ZumoDrive faces competition from Dropbox, SugarSync, and Box.net.”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

9. Apple applies for tamper-resistant hardware patent http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/12/10/apple_investigates_tamper_resistant_hardware_ipod_motion_controls.html New patent applications revealed this week show Apple has worked on new methods to discourage users from opening its hardware…Apple's patent application notes that it is in the best interest of an electronics manufacturer to be able to know when a device has been "compromised" and opened…Unfortunately, many users nevertheless open their electronic devices to attempt to repair, reverse engineer or even hack various things within the device," the application reads…”

10. The Year's Most-Hacked Software http://www.forbes.com/2009/12/10/adobe-hackers-microsoft-technology-cio-network-software.html At the beginning of this decade, Microsoft represented a cybercriminal's dream target: universally-used software, brimming with bugs ready to be exploited to hijack users' PCs…hackers are looking toward another vendor whose products are nearly as ubiquitous and whose bounty of vulnerabilities are just being discovered: Adobe…Forbes asked a group of cybersecurity researchers from security firms…to name software programs with vulnerabilities most often used by hackers to victimize users' PCs this year, every one included Adobe Reader…It's a huge focus for attacks now, around 10 times more than Microsoft Office…” [Try out FoxIt Reader?]

11. Court will rule on privacy of text messages sent on employer-owned devices http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-court-texting15-2009dec15,0,4565821.story “…The Supreme Court said today it would rule for the first time on whether employees have a right to privacy when they send text messages on electronic devices supplied by their employers…Last year, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals broke new ground by ruling that the police officers had a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in their text messages. The officers had been led to believe by a supervisor that the devices were also for personal use, the appeals court said…”

12. Passwords hacked for popular Facebook developer RockYou http://digital.venturebeat.com/2009/12/15/rockyou-hacked-32-million-account-passwords/ “…RockYou has suffered a serious hacker attack that has exposed 32 million of its customer usernames and passwords, leading to possible identity theft…Apparently the database included the full list of unencrypted passwords in plain text. The flaw is apparently a big one because the RockYou usernames and passwords are, by default, the same as users’ email names and passwords. Security experts are advising RockYou users to change their emails and passwords. RockYou has some of the most popular apps on Facebook and it ranks third among Facebook developers with 55 million monthly active users…”

13. Hackers Brew Self-Destruct Code to Counter Police Forensics http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/12/decaf-cofee/ Hackers have released an application designed to thwart a Microsoft-packaged forensic toolkit used by law enforcement agencies to examine a suspect’s hard drive during a raid. The hacker tool, dubbed Decaf, is designed to counteract the Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor, aka Cofee. The latter is a suite of 150 bundled, off-the-shelf forensic tools that run from a script…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

14. AT&T may penalize iPhone users who use its full potential, metered usage next? http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-iphone10-2009dec10,0,4262001.story “…AT&T's head of consumer services, Ralph de la Vega, said that just 3% of iPhone users generate 40% of the data traffic on AT&T's cellphone network…AT&T…is likely to introduce a pricing system that would penalize heavy data users, encouraging them "to either reduce or modify their usage…By using data-intensive applications such as streaming audio and video services, a small number of iPhone users have been putting a huge burden on AT&T's network, causing lackluster performance in New York City, San Francisco and other major markets. "We've got to get to those customers and have them recognize that they need to change their patterns or have to face other things," De la Vega told investors…”

15. Not Yet the Season for a Nook: classic v 1.0 symptoms http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/10/technology/personaltech/10pogue.html “…Every one of the Nook’s vaunted distinctions comes fraught with buzz kill footnotes…It takes nearly three seconds to turn a page — three times longer than the Kindle — which is really disruptive if you’re in midsentence…You wait for the Nook to respond, but there’s no progress bar, no hourglass, no indication that the Nook “heard” you. So you tap again — but now you’ve just triggered a second command that you didn’t want. It takes four seconds for the Settings panel to open, 18 seconds for the bookstore to appear (over Wi-Fi), and 8 to 15 seconds to open a book or newspaper for the first time, during which you stare at a message that says “Formatting.” “Over one million titles?” Yes, but well over half of those are junky Google scans of free, obscure, pre-1923 out-of-copyright books, filled with typos. (They’re also available for the Kindle, but Amazon doesn’t even count them)…Of the current 175 New York Times best sellers, 12 of them aren’t available for Kindle; 21 are unavailable for the Nook…74 percent of the time, Amazon offers the lowest-priced e-books (cheaper than B&N or Sony) by an average of 15 percent. What about the Nook’s built-in Wi-Fi? It’s there, but you get no notification when you’re in a hot spot. And if the hot spot requires a login or welcome screen, you can’t get onto it…You can’t lend a book unless its publisher has O.K.’ed this feature…Also unfinished: the auto connection to the wireless hot spots in B&N stores, which will offer special treats like a free-cookie coupon…”

16. Windows Mobile 7 coming “late next year” http://wmpoweruser.com/?p=11213 “…Microsoft UK head of mobility Phil Moore confirmed Windows Mobile 7 will not be showing up very soon. "It has been put back until late next year but it is definitely coming. You’re going to see a lot more on Windows Mobile 7…”

17. Amazon's Kindle winning battle, but Adobe poised to win e-book war http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9142005/Amazon_s_Kindle_winning_battle_but_Adobe_poised_to_win_e_book_war “…the brains directing the challenge against Amazon.com Inc.'s market-leading Kindle is Adobe Systems Inc…while this holiday season may belong to the Kindle, future ones may not…more than 100 publishers, book retailers and libraries are using Adobe's Content Server 4 software to deliver encryptable e-books via the two formats favored by Adobe: PDF and ePub…30 e-book readers rely on Adobe software…PDF and ePub are open industry standards, though the optional encryption and DRM provided by Adobe's Content Server and enforced by the Adobe Reader are not. Adobe may balk at the comparison, but its role in the e-book market is similar to the one Microsoft Corp. plays in the PC market: It's a builder of a semi-open ecosystem of partners to whom it sells publishing tools…Amazon.com is like Apple: successful, but secretive, with a reliance on proprietary formats like the Kindle's native AZW that creates customer hassle and lock-in.…”

18. GM Allows Internet Installation In 7 Car Models http://hothardware.com/News/GM-Allows-Internet-Installation-In-7-Car-Models/ “…owners of several Chevrolet models can transform their vehicle into a rolling Wi-Fi hot spot with Chevrolet Wi-Fi by Autonet Mobile…system allows for full Internet access the car, and up to 150 feet around the car…what this does is connect you to a 3G cell network, so if you head out to the boonies, there's a good chance you'll get little to no connectivity, but in the cities you should be just fine…”

19. First '4G' services go live in Norway, Sweden http://news.zdnet.co.uk/communications/0,1000000085,39936974,00.htm Offering theoretical maximum speeds of 100Mbps and real-world speeds of 20-80Mbps, the services are about 10 times faster than predecessor HSDPA. As of Tuesday, people in Norway and Sweden will be able to buy a mobile dongle that supports the long-term evolution (LTE) of 3G. (TeliaSonera is calling its network '4G', but the official IEEE definition of that term cites 100Mbps as a minimum speed.) "We are very proud to be the first operator in the world to offer our customers 4G services," TeliaSonera mobility chief Kenneth Karlberg said…At launch, TeliaSonera's LTE services cover around 400,000 people in the centres of Stockholm and Oslo…LTE, which is an all-IP technology, offers high speeds and capacity, and lower latency, than its predecessors. This makes it more suitable than 3G for services such as streaming HD video, videoconferencing and online gaming…Until 1 July 2010, TeliaSonera is applying no data cap, but after that date it will put a 30GB-per-month cap in place. Services will cost 599 Swedish crowns (£52) per month from July…”

20. New Hack Gives You Droid Root Access http://www.pcworld.com/article/184257/new_hack_gives_you_droid_root_access.html The Motorola Droid has been rooted, according to Hack a Day, paving the way for wireless tethering, customized UIs, multitouch support, and other features not specifically endorsed by Verizon on the Android 2.0 platform…Root access also means you could get tethering working before it is released next year--and without having to pay $30 a month. Hack a day notes that the rooting process is relatively simple, involving upgrading the firmware via copying a file to the SD card…”

21. How the iPhone Changed Kayak’s Business http://gigaom.com/2009/12/09/how-the-iphone-changed-kayaks-business/ “…A mobile app needs to be more accessible than a web site, that’s for sure. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be simpler and dumber, as travel search service Kayak learned this year. Now, the company is changing its overall business strategy to address user needs that it only became aware of from seeing how they use the Kayak iPhone app. When Kayak went to build its first iPhone app earlier this year…it stripped down its travel search functionality to the bare essentials…currently 5 percent of Kayak’s total search volume takes place on the iPhone…But users complained loud and clear that they wanted the ability to do everything they could on Kayak’s web site on their phones, so O’Donnell went back to the drawing board to amp up the app’s functionality while maintaining a simple, finger-friendly interface…”

22. Cherrypal Launches World's First $99 Laptop http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cherrypal-launches-worlds-first-99-laptop-79315337.html Cherrypal, the company that brought the world's "greenest" desktop computer to market last year, announced today that it has officially launched the first $99 laptop computer: the Cherrypal Africa. With a screen size of just 7 inches, the Africa is a mini netbook computer that enables anyone to browse the Internet at an affordable price…Named after Cherrypal's recent community building initiative in Ghana, the Africa…runs on a 400 MHz processor and features 256 GB RAM, 2 GB flash memory and can run either Linux or Windows CE operating systems…”

Open Source

23. The definitive guide to open source hardware projects in 2009 http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2009/12/open_source_hardware_2009_-_the_def.html “…Each year we do a guide to all open source hardware and this year there are over 125 unique projects/kits in 19 categories, up from about 60 in 2008, more than doubling the projects out there! - it's incredible! Many are familiar with Arduino (shipping over 100,000 units, estimated) but there are many other projects just as exciting and filled with amazing communities - we think we've captured nearly all of them in this list. Some of these projects and kits are available from MAKE others from the makers themselves or other hardware manufacturers - but since it's open source hardware you can make any of these yourself…”

24. The speed of technology's 'creative destruction' http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-10412986-16.html “…though businesses fail in all areas of the economy, technology ventures, and especially Web start-ups, prove particularly short-lived. It's Joseph Schumpeter's creative destruction...in overdrive. Le Monde suggests three reasons: the speed of innovation/evolution (AOL's walled-garden approach meets Yahoo's open-portal approach), the ability of incumbents to crush nascent competitors (Netscape meets Internet Explorer), and the shortcomings of business models (Skype: only $500 million out of more than 520 million subscribers). These are good points, but perhaps there's another: technology companies are increasingly disposable because they're so darn cheap to create…this process of creative destruction may well be accelerating, and open source is one of the primary fuels…”

25. French army sides with Mozilla in Microsoft email war http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20091210/tc_nm/us_mozilla_france A new email client unveiled by Mozilla this week contains code from an unusual source -- the French military, which decided the open source product was more secure than Microsoft's rival Outlook…France's military chose open source software after an internal government debate that began in 2003…The military found Mozilla's open source design permitted France to build security extensions, while Microsoft's secret, proprietary software allowed no tinkering…The French government is beginning to move to other open source software, including Linux instead of Windows and OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office…”

26. Linux Mint: Making Linux easy http://mybroadband.co.za/news/Software/10816.html “…Most users that have used Linux as their desktop operating system for any length of time will tell you that Ubuntu is one of the most user-friendly Linux versions available. The people over at Linux Mint disagree, however, and make it their mission to customise each new release of Ubuntu with a layer of additional user-friendliness. To do this they re-build Ubuntu with a range of popular tools that are excluded by default from Ubuntu as well as including a couple of their own scripts to make managing the system easier…”


27. Google Phone In January, Unlocked, Thinner Than iPhone http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/12/google-phone-in-january-unlocked-thinner-than-iphone/ “…the Googlephone has appeared. Forget the Droid, the G1 and all those other Android wannabees. Google will begin to sell its own reference Android 2.1 handset, designed by Google,made by hardware partner HTC, and called the Nexus One. The phone will be sold online by Google itself. The Nexus One will, crucially, be sold unlocked, giving Google complete control over the hardware and software with no pesky carrier interference. Even the iPhone, which has had almost unprecedented autonomy in its functionality is still constrained by carriers: AT&T’s anti-tethering paranoia is a good example…”

28. Why So Many Are So Wrong on the 'Google Phone' http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2357081,00.asp “…The idea that gets everyone hot under the collar is that Google may sell a phone directly, magically compatible with all U.S. carriers, but somehow without the restrictions and bindings that U.S. carriers place on devices…The U.S. uses two incompatible radio standards on three different spectrum bands. It's possible to build a GSM phone that supports T-Mobile and AT&T, sure. But folks who want Sprint and Verizon will still be out in the cold, because the network-based controls on those carriers can actually lock out unapproved phones. Never mind that while you can build a phone that supports 3G on three carriers, I've never seen a chipset that supports all four…Remember, unlocked smartphones have been available here for years. Nokia has been trying to push them on people for ages. Some of Nokia's phones, such as the N95 and E71, have been excellent. Almost nobody buys them, because they're seen as too expensive without the carrier subsidy…It's clear that American consumers want some sort of messiah to save them from the structure of our wireless industry. But it's not going to be Apple, and it's probably not going to be Google, either…” [Google phone would break industry model http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/14/AR2009121403454.html “…The new phone would be capable of operating on any network, according to a source close to the company…” ]

29. Googlephone v. pigs-in-a-blanket http://brainstormtech.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2009/12/15/holiday-party-smackdown-googlephone-v-pigs-in-a-blanket/ “…a friend…was presented with the new phone. “Mostly, I wanted to see the photo of the engagement ring that was on it,” she says…It wasn’t an iPhone, and besides, there were pigs-in-a-blanket and these really good mini-cheeseburgers, and I was hungry, so I didn’t pay too much attention. “…Great hardware is the minimum starting point in the smartphone market these days…As a piece of hardware, the Google phone…had better be on par with an iPhone. If not, as we have seen time and again with would-be competitors, it will be a non-starter. What sells smartphones these days has as much to do with the software running the phone and the applications available as the hardware…”

30. Schmidt disses privacy, Mozilla worker touts Bing over Google http://news.cnet.com/8301-13860_3-10413473-56.html “…Google CEO…Schmidt said"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines--including Google--do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities."…"That was Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, telling you exactly what he thinks about your privacy," Mozilla Director of Community Development Asa Dotzler said on his personal blog, referring to the CNBC comments. "There is no ambiguity, no 'out of context' here. Watch the video…Dotzler shows how one can easily switch Firefox's search engine from Google to Bing, adding, "Yes, Bing does have a better privacy policy than Google…Schmidt is hardly the first to point out that the idea of privacy on the Internet might be outmoded. "You already have zero privacy. Get over it," former Sun CEO Scott McNealy famously intoned…security expert Bruce Schneier makes a passionate argument…"Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we're doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance," Schneier wrote. "We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals…Privacy is a basic human need…” [from SEOBlackhat, “Caveat Quaeror, Let the searcher beware”, from EFF blog, “…personal hypocrisy of Schmidt's dismissive stance…for about a year, Schmidt blacklisted CNET reporters from Google after the tech news company published an article with information about his salary, neighborhood, hobbies, and political donations -- all obtained from Google searches…Schmidt's statement is painfully similar to the tired adage of pro-surveillance advocates that incorrectly presume that privacy's only function is to obscure lawbreaking…”]

31. When Google Runs Your Life http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2009/1228/technology-google-apps-gmail-bing.html “…As you run to the shower, you hit Google News and check headlines, then Gmail. Your first appointment of the day has been moved to a new location; Google Maps will direct you there. Quickly update your expense report--including the printout of that sales presentation using, say, Google Template…Your boss wants to discuss your group's contributions to some marketing documents? Lean on Google Groups. You're not even out the door yet. You have the rest of the day to search for work-critical information on the Web while you're at the office…Google…wants to own your every waking minute online--at home, while in transit, at your workplace, wherever you happen to be…Google Applications…allows us to instantly share Google calendars, spreadsheets, memos, reports, e-mail, corporate blogs, presentations and more--much, much more--by storing them in Google's enormous data centers. These bundled office-suite services make Google money on subscriptions, but they are also something of a Trojan horse to pull more people onto the Internet so that Google can make even more money from ads…Eric Schmidt, Google's owlish chief, sounds so reasonable. "Our model is just better," he says. "Based on that, we should have 100% share…The three-year-old business of Google Apps is easy to miss…The enterprise is still dwarfed by Microsoft, which makes $19 billion from the office suite. Still, 2 million businesses have signed on to use Google software in its short life, drawn by cost, speed, collaboration and control…Genentech bought both Apps and Office for all employees…Genentech asked Google for features like a calendar that could handle large meetings, sorting out rooms and audiovisual needs, meetings for more than 1,000 employees at a time--700 additions in all. "They knocked them all out in a couple of months," says Todd Pierce, chief information officer at Genentech…Pierce requested 15,000 dummy log-ins to make simultaneous requests to the system. "They gave them to me in a couple of hours," he says. "If you were testing Microsoft or [IBM's] Lotus, you'd need several weeks and several hundred thousand dollars in servers…a multinational can send Gmail between, say, the Berlin office and San Francisco, and the German on one end will end up as English at the other, thanks to Google Translate…”

32. Google and Facebook launch URL shorteners http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/6816481/Google-and-Facebook-launch-URL-shorteners.html Google and Facebook have launched their own URL shorteners, tools that transform a long internet address in to a much shorter string of random characters. Google's new URL shortener, goo.gl, will be available through Google's Toolbar and its Feedburner RSS feed, but is not yet available as a stand-alone service for "broader consumer use". Facebook's shortener, fb. me, is predominantly designed for use on mobile device, and it's unclear whether fb. me will be rolled out across the whole platform. URL shorteners have grown in popularity over the last 18 months, with an increasing number of web users using services such as TinyURL and bit.ly to condense links so that they can be shared more easily on social networking sites such as Twitter, which imposes a limit on the number of characters that can be contained within a single message…”

General Technology

33. WiGig Alliance Finalizes Spec, Tri-Band Wi-Fi in 2010? http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2356980,00.asp “…WiGig speeds are predicted to be higher than originally expected, from 6 Gbits/s to closer to 7 Gbits/s, executives…That's ten times faster than 802.11n. The WiGig protocol uses the 60-GHz spectrum, far away from the 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz frequencies used by the current generation of 802.11a/b/g/n devices. By next year, all three frequencies, and technologies, could be implemented in a router or card, allowing extremely high-speed throughput at short distances…"By 12 to 18 months, you could see early products out there," he said…Most developers have talked about 60-GHz technology in the context of the living room, where the short-range, high-speed transmissions could be used to eliminate HDMI cables…consumers can also purchase their own 60-GHz products…Best Buy offers the RocketFish 60-GHz adapter, which transmits 1080p signals up to just over 32 feet…”

34. Seagate laptop hard drive goes super thin http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10414903-1.html At only 9.5mm, the regular 2.5-inch laptop hard drive is already very thin compared with the 25.4mm of the 3.5-inch desktop hard drive. But Seagate…announced Monday the Momentus Thin, a new 2.5-inch-based laptop hard drive that's 25 percent thinner, at only 7mm. This reduction in thickness makes the new hard drive comparable, in physical size, to that of most solid state drives (SSDs) used in Netbooks and ultraportable computers. However, it retains the advantages of regular hard drives, which include much higher capacities and, most importantly, a much lower cost per gigabyte. The Momentus Thin offers the same performance as a regular SATA 2.5-inch hard drive, which is faster than most low-end SSD used in Netbooks. The new drive comes in two capacities (250GB and 160GB); sports 8MB of cache memory, supports a SATA 3Gbps interface, and spins at 5400rpm. The Mometus Thin uses the same type of cable and ports as a regular SATA 2.5-inch hard drive…”

35. Let’s stop talking about “backups” http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2009/12/14.html “…let’s stop talking about “backups.” Doing a backup is too low a bar. Any experienced system administrator will tell you that they have a great backup plan, the trouble comes when you have to restore…a million other things that can go wrong even when you “have” “backups.” The minimum bar for a reliable service is not that you have done a backup, but that you have done a restore…”

Leisure & Entertainment

36. Amazon's Disc+ On Demand Could Be Big http://www.pcworld.com/article/184185/ Amazon has unveiled a "limited time only" promotion called Disc+ On Demand that has the potential to change the way we consume media. Now when you purchase select DVD or Blu-ray discs, you can download a digital copy of your film for instant viewing via your Mac, PC, Roku, TiVo, and more. This promotion is the perfect way to get a little more out of the Christmas gifts you buy for others; you can watch the movies first…”

37. Fitness video games are reshaping medium http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091211/ap_on_hi_te/us_games_fitness_games “…The nation's largest sports retailer partnered with Nintendo last month to sell the popular Wii console and games. It's another sign of the times: Video games aren't just for shooting aliens anymore. "I actually came here looking for soccer equipment for my sons for Christmas, but this caught my eye," said Celia Fernandez while browsing the sports- and fitness-themed Wii games at The Sports Authority. "We bought a Wii last year but don't use it as much anymore, so I was thinking we might get them a new Wii game to go with their new soccer equipment…”

38. James Cameron’s New 3-D Epic Could Change Film Forever http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/11/ff_avatar_cameron “…In 1977, a 22-year-old truck driver named James Cameron went to see Star Wars with a pal. His friend enjoyed the movie; Cameron walked out of the theater ready to punch something…He had been daydreaming about the kind of world that Lucas had just brought to life. Star Wars was the film he should have made. It got him so angry he bought himself some cheap movie equipment and started trying to figure out how Lucas had done it…He spent days scouring the USC library, reading everything he could about special effects. He became, in his own words, “completely obsessed…Cameron came up empty and temporarily shelved his ambition to trump Lucas…he made it to the director’s chair, overseeing a schlocky horror picture, Piranha II: The Spawning. One night, after a Piranha editing session, Cameron went to sleep with a fever and dreamed that he saw a robot clawing its way toward a cowering woman…The story was so compelling, he was able to persuade a small film financing company to let him direct the picture. When it was released in 1984, The Terminator established Arnold Schwarzenegger as a huge star, and James Cameron, onetime truck driver, suddenly became a top-tier director…in 1995, he wrote an 82-page treatment about a paralyzed soldier’s virtual quest on a faraway planet after Earth becomes a bleak wasteland. The alien world, called Pandora, is populated by the Na’vi, fierce 10-foot-tall blue humanoids with catlike faces and reptilian tails…Cameron thought that this project — titled Avatar — could be his next blockbuster. That is, the one after he finished a little adventure-romance about a ship that hits an iceberg. Titanic, of course, went on to become the highest-grossing movie of all time…Cameron would not release another Hollywood film for 12 years…finally, he’s back. On December 18, Avatar arrives in theaters…why did it take one of the most powerful men in Hollywood so long to come out with a single film? In part, the answer is that it’s not easy to out-Lucas George Lucas. Cameron needed to invent a suite of moviemaking technologies, push theaters nationwide to retool, and imagine every detail of an alien world…”

Economy and Technology

39. Panasonic Takes Control of Sanyo for $4.6 Billion http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8405757.stm Panasonic has completed its purchase of a 50.2% majority stake in Japanese electronics rival Sanyo…Analysts said Panasonic was most interested in Sanyo's manufacture of hybrid car batteries, a field in which both firms are strong…While Panasonic runs a joint venture with Toyota to produce hybrid car batteries for Toyota's Prius model, Sanyo makes similar batteries for Honda, Ford and Peugeot Citroen. Sanyo is also a leading producer of solar panels…”

40. Time Warner spins out AOL http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-10412836-265.html “…As AOL prepares to spin out from under the historic but disastrous Time Warner deal, it will find itself up against an old foe: Yahoo. Both Yahoo and AOL are attempting to shed their legacies as old-school Internet companies snowed under by the rise of Google by turning themselves into Internet destinations. Long live the portal…Both companies are attempting to turn themselves into sources of original content that is both compelling to both the masses and the critics, not to mention the advertisers…”

41. Spinvox close to accepting £92 million takeover http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/technology/article6954544.ece SPINVOX, the troubled technology firm, is close to accepting a $150m (£92m) takeover offer from an American rival. A sale to Nuance Communications, the speech-recognition group, could be announced before Christmas. It marks the end of the road for Spinvox, which converts mobile-phone text messages into voicemails. Once hailed as one of Britain’s most promising technology start-ups, the company ran short of cash in the summer. It was also rocked by allegations of financial mismanagement and claims that most of its messages were transcribed in overseas call centres…”

42. Swype raises $5.6M for novel text-entry technology http://mobile.venturebeat.com/2009/12/14/swype-raises-5-6m-for-novel-text-entry-technology/ “…Swype lets you enter text more easily into a cell phone text message. You begin typing a message with a virtual keyboard on a touchscreen phone. The device suggests different words for you to choose, and you make your choice by swiping your finger through the right word on the screen. The company says that most users can type about 30 words per minute in normal text messages. With Swype, they can type above 40 words per minute…Swype was founded in 2002 by Cliff Kushner, the co-inventor of T9, the predictive text technology that is used to guess at what you’re trying to write in text messages. T9 is used in billions of phones. Kushner created his new technology…to help the disabled use gadgets more easily…Samsung Omnia II, launched this fall, is the first phone to use Swype’s technology…”

43. Malaysia’s MOL Global buys Friendster http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b79fb0fa-e578-11de-81b4-00144feab49a.html Friendster, the site that pioneered social networking early in the decade, is being acquired by a Malaysian online payments provider, bringing to an end one of the stranger dotcom sagas. While its star has faded in the US and Europe, Friendster is popular in south-east Asia. MOL Global said it hoped to pair its retail partners and payment platform with Friendster’s large regional network to create a content, distribution and commerce network…”

44. AlikeList raises $5M to help local businesses get discovered http://digital.venturebeat.com/2009/12/15/alikelist-raises-5m-to-help-local-businesses-get-discovered/ AlikeList is applying social networking…for listing, referring, and discovering trusted local businesses…when looking for a local business — a restaurant, doctor, or contractor — people trust the recommendations of people they know. Based on this principle, the company created a social network where people save lists of positive recommendations for local businesses and then share them with friends. People can “like” businesses or add them to a “try list.” AlikeList thus accelerates word-of-mouth marketing. Businesses can pay subscription fees and usage fees to the company to target specific users with special offers…”

Civilian Aerospace

45. Bezos' space flight project Blue Origin shows signs of life http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2009/12/bezos_space_travel_project_blue_origin_shows_signs_of_life.html “…Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos’ project to take paying customers into space is providing a glimpse of its plans, amid growing interest from NASA in working with private space contractors…there is still a veil of secrecy surrounding Blue Origin, which has its main operations in the Seattle suburb of Kent…In Van Horn, Texas, site of the Blue Origin launch facility, local officials and others say the company has tightly controlled information about its activities…Blue Origin describes New Shepard as “a vertical take-off, vertical-landing vehicle designed to take a small number of astronauts on a suborbital journey into space.” Suborbital refers to space flights that enter space but do not reach orbit level and eventually return to the ground…New Shepard will take off and accelerate for roughly two and a half minutes “before shutting off its rocket engines and coasting into space.” The crew capsule will then separate from the propulsion module and the two will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and “land for re-use.” The crew capsule will land with the help of a parachute…”

46. First Monarch Butterflies in Space Take Flight http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/091208-space-monarch-butterflies.html The first-ever Monarch butterflies in space have taken flight on the International Space Station…Space station commander Jeff Williams, of NASA, beamed video of the first of several Monarch butterflies fluttered its gossamer wings in weightlessness last week, just after the insect emerged from its cocoon and began floating around their enclosure…while butterfly larvae have been sent to space before, the colorful insects on the space station now are the first to successfully go through all phases of their development — from larva to pupa to adult butterfly — in orbit. More than 170,000 students between kindergarten and 12th grade and 2,800 teachers are following the experiment on Earth, where they are comparing the space butterflies' lifecycle with that of similar insects on the ground…”

47. SpaceShipTwo and the modern imagination http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1529/1 With the rollout of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo at Mojave Air and Space Port in California last week, we are moving closer than ever to a new kind of space tourism business. The biggest question now is how sustainable the business will be and how much will it change the way we look at out world. A hundred years ago tourism was almost exclusively the domain of the well off. In the post-World War II era it became a mass activity that is today one of the world’s largest industries. Mass tourism changed the way people saw the world. Suddenly there were millions of people all over the world who had at least some small exposure to other lands and other cultures…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

48. Fastra desktop supercomputer packs 13 NVIDIA chipsets http://www.electronista.com/articles/09/12/14/fastra.ii.hits.12tflops.with.gtx.295.275.cards/ The University of Antwerp has revealed what it believes is one of the fastest computers ever to fit into a regular tower chassis. Called just the Fastra II, its main processor is just a 2.66GHz Core i7…It combines six dual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 cards with a single GeForce GTX 275 to provide a total of 13 GPUs in a single desktop. Since the NVIDIA cards can accelerate CUDA and other general-purpose computing tasks, the sheer parallelism lets the PC handle up to 12 teraflops of general work as well as 3D graphics…It should be used primarily for tomography, or creating 3D images of bones and organs from X-ray images, which in turn can lead to recreating missing parts in patients…the system still runs on primarily off-the-shelf components elsewhere and uses an ASUS P6T7 WS mainboard to accommodate all seven video cards; one 1,500W power supply and three 450W supplies keep the extreme power demands in check. A 1TB Samsung hard drive, 12GB of DDR3 memory, and the Lian-Li case are all stock. The only modifications are a custom cage to suspend the GeForce boards and a custom kernel for the CentOS Linux build that runs the design…”

49. NVIDIA, National Taiwan University Aim to Unlock Secrets of Universe http://www.hpcwire.com/offthewire/NVIDIA-National-Taiwan-University-Aim-to-Unlock-Secrets-of-Universe-79230237.html A research team at National Taiwan University (NTU) is achieving breakthrough results in learning about the early evolution of the universe by harnessing NVIDIA Tesla parallel processors -- which provide the computational horsepower of an IBM BlueGene/L supercomputer, at just 1 percent the cost and 10 percent the power consumption. The team…is studying the interactions of sub-atomic particles, to learn about the origins of the universe…NTU is carrying out this work on the first GPU-based supercomputer in Taiwan, the 128-GPU cluster at CQSE, which uses 16 NVIDIA Tesla S1070 1U systems and 64 Tesla C1060 processors…”



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