2009/12/29

NEW NET Issues List for 29 Dec 2009

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 29 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. A Decade of Innovation: How We See the Internet 10 Years After the Boom http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/pew-survey-internet-decade.php “…At the end of 2009, most Americans in this Pew survey have a dismal view of the 2000s. Between the Iraq war, the 9/11 attacks, economic and political distress and the curse of reality television, the decade has been voted the worst in our collective memory. But one of few bright spots in a tense ten-year period was and remains technological innovation, including the Internet, cell phones and email…”

2. Fix Slow Browsing — and More — With OpenDNS http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com/testdrive/article.php/3855361 For most small businesses, a reliable connection to the Internet is vital for both communication and commerce… your business is probably relying on ISP-provided DNS servers to reach sites and services on the Internet. They often do an adequate job, but they’re prone to sluggishness (and sometimes outages). Switching your business over to the independent DNS service provider OpenDNS, on the other hand, can make Internet access a bit speedier and safer for everyone on your network, as well as provide added features like content filtering so you can determine which Web sites your employees can and can’t visit…”

3. Backupify drops paywall; backs up your data from Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=28839 “…One of the best parts of keeping your data in the cloud is that you don’t have to worry quite as much about doing your own backups. If your computer crashes or your hard drive dies, you won’t lose all of the messages from your Gmail account or all of the photos you saved to Flickr…trusting lots of private data to a third-party provider on the Web still rattles some users and companies, especially when that valuable data is stored in a free service that has no service level agreement (SLA). There have already been horror stories of Gmail accidentally deleting inboxes as well as user accounts getting hacked and the inboxes getting wiped clean…Backupify will back up all online accounts for free and with unlimited storage. The offer will be open until January 31, 2010…In 2010 Backupify will announce its new pricing structure for the masses, which May said will likely move to a “freemium” model, with a free account that handles a basic amount of storage and then tiered pricing if you need more space. However, those who sign up during this trial will get an open-ended free account for getting in early…”

4. VeVite Taps Into Twitter For Event Invitations http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/12/28/vevite-taps-into-twitter-for-event-invitations/ There are a plethora of online invitation sites that let invitees and event organize utilize both Facebook and Twitter to publicize events to their social graphs. Cocodot, Pingg and others will pull in Tweets about an event by hashtag…VeVite has a different twist on social event invitations by providing a deeper integration with Twitter. Invites are sent via Direct Message, with a link back to the event on VeVite to RSVP. Once you login via your Twitter credentials, you can RSVP, and your comments on the page are automatically shared on Twitter as well. A host can only invite 250 people every 24 hours because of a Twitter DM restriction. But if the event is “open” then anyone can RSVP without getting a DM…The startup’s founder Sam Bensalem says that the VeVite plans to add Facebook and Gmail integration in the coming weeks. VeVite will also include payments integration, so host can charge for events similar to Eventbrite. But Bensalem says that the platform will be catered more towards casual meetups and events…”

5. Firefox 3.5 is Now the World’s Most Popular Browser http://thenextweb.com/2009/12/21/firefox-35-popular-browser-planet/ “…Firefox 3.5 is the most used browser in the world. Note this is the version of the browser rather than the browser brand but nevertheless an incredible achievement. The browser surpasses IE7 as the most popular browser, with IE8 close behind thanks to the success of Windows 7. In the US, IE8 still leads with 26% market share closely followed by IE7 and Firefox 3.5 equally tied…”

6. Windows Live Wave 4 Leaks: Mail, Photo Gallery, Writer http://news.softpedia.com/news/Windows-Live-Wave-4-Leaks-Mail-Photo-Gallery-Writer-Build-15-0-2403-826-130387.shtml Microsoft…is hard at work building the successors of the current versions of Windows Live clients and services, including Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Live Writer, etc…”

7. Footprint: real-time web stats, for free http://thenextweb.com/appetite/2009/12/24/footprint-realtime-web-stats-free/ While Google Analytics is a great product, one of the most frustrating aspects of it is the lack of any data about what’s happening right now with your site’s traffic…In these days of the real-time web, shouldn’t we have real-time web stats too? That’s where Footprint comes in…As a free product this is definitely worth a look, although it’s worth noting that Clicky offers a real-time tracking service as part of its paid-for full-featured analytics package…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

8. Encryption Code for 80% of the World’s Mobile Calls Cracked http://mashable.com/2009/12/28/gsm-encryption-cracked/ “…software engineer and encryption expert named Karsten Nohl told a group of hackers at the Chaos Communication Congress that he and a group of enlisted contributors had broken the primary encryption code protecting GSM phone calls. According to The New York Times, spokespeople from the GSM Association shrugged off the news…the crack now puts mobile interception of the majority of non-3G cellphone calls within reach of “any reasonable well-funded criminal organization.”…The current GSM encryption scheme is known as the A5/1 standard, based on a 64-bit encryption scheme. A newer specification based on…128-bit encryption called A5/3 has been available since 2007, but few network operators have undertaken the expense to upgrade their networks…”

9. Burglar caught thanks to Xbox Live http://www.afterdawn.com/news/archive/21033.cfm Jeremiah Gilliam of the Bronx has been arrested today after police officers found dozens of laptops, GPS devices and video game consoles in his apartment…he tried playing one of the stolen Xbox 360s online and signed in using the Xbox Live account saved on the system. The youth whose Xbox had been stolen, was playing online at a friend's house and saw his own Xbox Live name sign in, prompting the family to call the police who then traced the IP address back to the address where Gilliam was staying…”

10. Good Guys Bring Down the Mega-D Botnet http://www.pcworld.com/article/185122/ “…as a researcher with security company FireEye, Atif Mushtaq worked to keep Mega-D bot malware from infecting clients' networks. In the process, he learned how its controllers operated it…In November, he suddenly switched from de fense to offense. And Mega-D--a powerful, resilient botnet that had forced 250,000 PCs to do its bidding--went down. Mushtaq and two FireEye colleagues went after Mega-D's command infrastructure…Mushtaq's team first contacted Internet service providers that unwittingly hosted Mega-D control servers…The FireEye group received positive responses except from the overseas ISPs. The domestic C&C servers went down. Next, Mushtaq and company contacted domain-name registrars holding records for the domain names that Mega-D used for its control servers. The registrars collaborated with FireEye to point Mega-D's existing domain names to nowhere…Finally, FireEye and the registrars worked to claim spare domain names that Mega-D's controllers listed in the bots' programming… Mega-D had "consistently been in the top 10 spam bots" for the previous year…on November 1 Mega-D accounted for 11.8 percent of all spam that MessageLabs saw…Three days later, FireEye's action had reduced Mega-D's market share of Internet spam to less than 0.1 percent…"FireEye did have a major victory," says Joe Stewart, director of malware research with SecureWorks. "The question is, will it have a long-term impact?"…In 2009, Stewart outlined a proposal to create volunteer groups dedicated to making botnets unprofitable to run. But few security professionals could commit to such a time-consuming volunteer activity…”

11. Google's Chrome OS Cited as Likely Hacker Vehicle http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2009/tc20091228_112186.htm Google's computer operating system, due to be released next year, may rank among software most targeted by hackers in 2010, according to…the computer security company McAfee…The Web-based operating system, dubbed Chrome, relies on a technology known as HTML 5 that's designed to help Web applications behave like PC software. Developers use HTML 5 language to ensure that software delivers fast response times and stores information that users can access even when they're not connected to the Internet…Google said that it is "completely redesigning the underlying security architecture…so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware, and security updates…Keen interest in emerging technologies from security researchers doesn't always indicate impending attacks, says Pete Lindstrom, research director at Spire Security, a consulting firm. Security vendors have the potential to sell more products by promoting potential dangers that might lurk behind every mouse click…McAfee's report also said that attacks against Adobe…software, including Acrobat image-viewing tools and Flash technology for online video and animation, would become the most common type of attack on application software in 2010…”

12. Attackers Buying Own Data Centers for Botnets, Spam http://threatpost.com/en_us/blogs/attackers-buying-own-data-centers-botnets-spam-122109 The malware writers and criminals who run botnets for years have been using shared hosting platforms and so-called bulletproof hosting providers as bases of operations for their online crimes. But, as law enforcement agencies and security experts have moved to take these providers offline, the criminals have taken the next step and begun setting up their own virtual data centers. IP address space allocation is handled by five regional Internet registries (RIR), each of which is responsible for a particular group of countries. The RIRs work with large enterprises, ISPs, telecoms and other organizations that need large blocks of IP space. These organizations typically have to go through an application and screening process in order to get these allocations, including providing legal documentation listing the officers of the company, its business and why the address space is needed…criminals have found a way around this by going through local Internet registries (LIR) or by taking advantage of RIRs that don't have the resources to investigate every application as fully as they'd like…The criminals will buy servers and place them in a large data center and then submit an application for a large block of IP space. In some cases, the applicants are asked for nothing more than a letter explaining why they need the IP space…”

13. Security in the Ether http://www.technologyreview.com/web/24166/ “…they demonstrated how the very advantages of cloud computing--ease of access, affordability, centralization, and flexibility--could give rise to new kinds of insecurity…Cloud computing--programs and services delivered over theInternet--is rapidly changing the way we use computers…The airline, retail, and financial industries are examples of those that could benefit from cloud computing, says Dale Jorgenson, a Harvard economist and expert on the role of information technology in national productivity. "The focus of IT innovation has shifted from hardware to software applications," he says. "Many of these applications are going on at a blistering pace, and cloud computing is going to be a great facilitative technology for a lot of these people." Of course, none of this can happen unless cloud services are kept secure. And they are not without risk…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

14. Apple IPod Touch Application Downloads Jump 1,000% on Christmas http://www.businessweek.com/news/2009-12-28/apple-ipod-touch-application-downloads-jump-1-000-on-christmas.html Apple Inc.’s iPod Touch mobile- software downloads jumped more than 1,000 percent on Christmas Day, signaling that sales of the media player surged during the holiday season…Downloads of iPod Touch programs surpassed those for the iPhone for the first time…”

15. Apple seen selling 1.4 million $600 "Kindle Killer" tablets in 2010 http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/12/28/apple_seen_selling_1_4_million_600_kindle_killer_tablets_in_2010.html Even before it's been validated with a formal introduction, Apple's eagerly-awaited tablet device is being positioned by some members of the investment community as a device that could sell 1.4 million units in its first 9 months, just as others reiterate claims that it'll thrash Amazon's Kindle device in the process…”

16. Droid clobbers other Android phones in Xmas app downloads http://venturebeat.com/2009/12/28/droid-android/ “…T-Mobile’s myTouch 3G and G1, and the HTC Hero sold by Sprint, totaled roughly as many apps as those downloaded the Verizon/Motorola Droid phones on December 25…iPhone and iPod Touch users downloads thirteen times as many apps in December as all Android phone users combined…while the Droid is the hotter phone right now in terms of buzz, the numbers point to Apple’s continuing dominance of the app world going into 2010…”

17. Technology changes 'outstrip' netbooks http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8421491.stm “…netbooks…were popular in 2009, but some industry watchers are convinced that their popularity is already waning…What people are looking for now, he believes, is a machine that can keep up with the demands of contemporary web users - far more than the basic e-mail and web browsing that made the first models so appealing…Consumers, he said, were chafing against the restrictions that using a netbook imposed on them…Changing web habits and greater use of social media will mean consumers will be looking for gadgets that are tuned to specific purposes…Impetus for this change will come, he believes, from the phone world where many, many types of gadgets are already blooming. "It's no surprise that your mobile has changed a lot in the last three years but your PC hasn't," he said…Dell already produces notebooks sporting Latitude ON technology that use both Arm and Intel chips so that they can boot into either Windows or Linux. Battery life on Linux is in excess of 10 hours, for Windows rarely more than three…”

18. Evernote’s memory-jogging iPhone app adds offline access http://mobile.venturebeat.com/2009/12/23/evernote-iphone-offline/ “…Megan Berry named Evernote one of the best productivity applications for the iPhone today, but it sounds like a new, just-released version of the app is even better…when you create a note…it’s stored locally, on your iPhone. That means that if you have a bad cell connection or lose your connection altogether, you can still read the notes that were created on your phone and search through them. Users who have paid for the premium version can also download entire collections of notes, called notebooks, to their phones…being able to access notes anytime, despite the vagaries of my cell connection, means Evernote becomes useful in more places and less frustrating…”

Open Source

19. 10 Greatest Open Source Software Of 2009 http://www.cyberciti.biz/tips/10-greatest-open-source-software-of-2009.html “…best open source software of 2009…Inkscape…7-Zip…VLC…VirtualBox…Miro/Internet TV…TrueCrypt…Calibre…GnuCash…GIMP…Audacity…”

20. An early look at VLMC http://linuxcrunch.com/content/early-look-vlmc “…VLMC (VideoLAN Movie Creator) is a free video editing software, offering features to realize semi-professional quality movies, but with the aim to stay simple and user-friendly. VLMC is being developed with the support of the VideoLAN organization (the house of the famous VLC Media Player). The pre-release version will be available soon…”

21. 3 Wonderful Open-Source Games to Install After Installing Ubuntu http://tuxarena.blogspot.com/2009/12/3-wonderful-open-source-games-to.html Battle for Wesnoth is one of the most popular turn-based strategy games for Linux, if not the most popular. Completely free and open-source, it provides both singleplayer campaigns, as well as online multiplayer, hotseat or LAN support…SuperTux is a 2D jump and run Mario clone, with the difference that it uses its own maps, enemies, and the main character is... you guessed, Tux, the story taking place in Antarctica…When it comes to Linux shooter games, there isn't only one choice. Games like Nexuiz, OpenArena or Sauerbraten were a good fit here too…Based on the Quake 3 engine, World of Padman is a fun, cartoon-style first-person shooter with maps, weapons and characters inspired from the Padman series. It features nice, colourful graphics, popular modes like FFA, TDM or CTF, and weapons which will definitely make you laugh the first time you'll see them…”

SkyNet

22. Google Is About To Get Caffeinated With A Faster Search Index http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/12/28/google-caffeine-faster-search-index/ “…behind the scenes Google is also getting ready to push out an entirely new way for indexing the Web. Codenamed “Caffeine,” Google has been testing it since last summer in one datacenter, and is now getting ready to push it out across all of Google. Some SEO-minded tipsters say that they are starting to notice faster search response times, but Google is sticking to the party line that Caffeine won’t roll out until after the New Year…The look and feel of Google results won’t change…But it will significantly speed up how fast Google can present results, especially across different media types such as photos and videos…for generic search terms, Caffeine gives more weight to news and social media results, while more specific keywords are more likely to turn up websites about that topic…”

23. Consumer Groups Lobby FTC To Block Google’s Acquisition Of AdMob http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/12/28/consumer-groups-lobby-ftc-to-block-googles-acquisition-of-admob/ Google recently revealed that the Federal Trade Commission was intensely reviewing the search giant’s recent $750 million acquisition of mobile ad network AdMob…two consumer groups…have asked the FTC to block the deal on anti-trust grounds and possible privacy issues…the two groups say that Google’s acquisition of AdMob would lessen competition in the mobile advertising market, having a potentially negative impact on consumers, advertisers and application developers and others…”

24. Apple's Lala Deal: A Lump Of Coal In Google's Music Onebox? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/28/AR2009122802015.html Of all the things Google has launched this past year, the most useful may be its Music Onebox feature that allows you to easily play popular music from Google Search results. Following its debut in October, I found myself using it left and right for songs I wanted to listen to. One thing I noticed was that while deals were in place with iLike, imeem, Rhapsody, and Pandora, the majority of the one-click play results were from the streaming music service Lala. This was awesome because most of the songs served up by Lala were the full versions. But fast forward to today, and it's a much different story: Lala Onebox results are few and far between…”

25. Verizon slaps Google straight out of mobile search options http://www.brafton.com/industry-news/verizon-slaps-google-straight-out-mobile-search-options-$1350017.htm Telecom giant Verizon has peremptorily removed the option to use Google for smartphone searches on its network in favor of Microsoft's Bing, angering some users and complicating the picture for search engine optimization (SEO) professionals who target mobile device users. Previously, Verizon smart phone users were able to choose their default search provider from several candidates, including Google and Wikipedia, but those options have been excised…a forum thread on CrackBerry.com had reached 36 pages in length by last weekend, and that many users were unhappy with the loss of their search options. Microsoft signed a half-billion-dollar promotional deal with Verizon in January 2009, and The Register asserts that a similar agreement with Google was in the works until the Microsoft deal was completed. Some experts speculate that the move to Bing exclusivity could be Verizon's response to the news that Google will launch its own smartphone next year…”

26. Google Nexus One hands-on http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-10421219-94.html Thanks to a clandestine meeting with a source, I got a chance to play with and try out the Nexus One. It's basically, from my time with it, Google's Droid killer. It's thin, it's fast, it's better in every way…Even though the screen is the same size and same resolution as the Droid, it's noticeably better. The colors are much more vibrant and the blacks are blacker, as evidenced by putting both side by side…the Nexus One is astonishingly faster than the Droid. The speed dominance was most evident when we compared the loading of Web pages, but even when you're just scrolling around, launching apps, and moving about the OS, you could tell that there's a beefier brain inside the N1…When comparing the three phones in loading a Web page over Wi-Fi, the Nexus One loaded first, the iPhone 3GS came in a few seconds later, and the Droid came in a little while after that. This was constant throughout many Web page loads, so it's indicative of something going on inside with the hardware…”

27. Google Analytics Adds New Features http://searchengineland.com/google-analytics-adds-new-features-31624 “…Google has just released another set of very cool new features…The annotations feature basically allows users to make comments on graphs regarding events that happened on specific days...I love Snagit and use it daily to present recommendations, redesign mockups and for anything that needs basic design. But the problem with it is that it creates static snapshots. You cannot just change the view from visits to conversion rates and have the comments still applied to the graph…The new annotations feature, by contrast, is highly dynamic… annotations can be created by anyone involved with the production and promotion of a website for everyone else to see…This should help promote teamwork, as everyone involved will be able to understand the whole picture and coordinate activities with other teams’ activities…Google also announced two additional features for Google Analytics. Custom variables can now be segmented through advanced segments and they are also available in custom reports…”

General Technology

28. Smartphones were the tech story of 2009 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/24/AR2009122403323.html “…the biggest story in technology this year could have been the largely successful transition to digital television that wrapped up in June. But 2009's most significant tech developments took place on much smaller screens. Smartphones -- will we someday call them simply "phones," just as many people now assume a "phone" means a mobile device? -- led the headlines throughout 2009…The market for full-fledged, "real" computers was less interesting in 2009. Desktop machines continued to lose market share to laptops, although those portable machines didn't bring any noteworthy innovations of their own in hardware design…this could have been the year of the electronic book. But while Amazon's Kindle 2 and Kindle DX seem to be selling well (Amazon won't release specific numbers), forecasts of a boom in sales this holiday season will probably go unfulfilled after Sony and Barnes and Noble couldn't ship their own wireless e-book readers as scheduled…”

29. 2010’s hottest contenders: 8 products to watch http://venturebeat.com/2009/12/21/2010s-hottest-contenders-8-products-to-watch/ “…which products are going to be making the biggest waves in 2010?...here are my picks for the hottest innovations to watch…Evernote…Eventbrite…Square…Foursquare…iTunes TV…Boxee…Kayak…HTC…e-readers…social gaming…”

30. NVIDIA's next-gen "Fermi" GPU may be delayed until March http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2009/12/rumor-has-nvidia-flagship-dx11-part-delayed-until-march.ars “…Originally slated to launch this past November, then delayed until CES, Fermi is already late. But if NVIDIA really is pushing back the Fermi launch until March 2010…that will give AMD/ATI's "Evergreen" GPU family some three quarters of uncontested DX11 leadership…this development strikes NVIDIA at a particularly awkward time. Earlier this year, the company bowed to the inevitable and halted development of its chipsets for non-Atom x86 platforms. This move was due in part to lack of a DMI bus license, and in part to the fact that the GPU's impending move onto the CPU die means that integrated graphics processors are a losing battle in the long-term if you aren't also in the x86 CPU business. The massive contraction of the company's IGP prospects left NVIDIA with discrete GPUs and high-performance computing as the two pillars on which much of the company's business case rests…”

31. San Jose police test head-mounted cameras for officers http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_14030412 San Jose police, under fire for interactions with the public that have turned violent, on Friday launched a pilot project equipping officers with head-mounted cameras to record contacts with civilians. Officers will activate the cameras, about the size of a Bluetooth device and attached by a headband above the ear, every time they respond or make contact with a person. At the end of the officer's shift, the recording will be downloaded to a central server…”

32. First Look at Blio, Ray Kurzweil's Tablet-Friendly Ebook Format http://gizmodo.com/5435814/first-look-at-blio-ray-kurzweils-tablet%20friendly-ebook-format “…Blio, officially debuting next week at CES, lets you read your ebooks as they're intended to look on paper. Clearly, Kurzweil is signaling his choice of tablets over e-ink, and his first shots are definitely persuasive…E-ink has manifold problems, but maybe the greatest of those is that it's just for text, rendering it essentially useless for any book that requires rich illustration. Blio seems to solve that issue, while at the same time offering text-to-speech capabilities that turn your ebook into an audio book …”

Leisure & Entertainment

33. E-Books Beat Regular Books On Xmas http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/retail/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=222100175 Amazon sold more electronic books than physical books on Christmas Day, due to the popularity of the Kindle e-reader, the online retailer reported. It was the first time e-books had led in sales. In addition, the Kindle has become the most gifted item ever on Amazon…e-readers were among the popular consumer electronics items in the holiday season. Forrester Research predicts that 3 million e-readers will be sold this year in the United States. Next year, U.S. sales will reach 10 million units…”

34. Get a USB TV tuner for $29.99 shipped http://news.cnet.com/8301-13845_3-10419549-58.html For several years I've relied on free over-the-air digital signals to bring high-definition TV into my house. And I've paired those signals with Windows Media Center for free DVR goodness. The key bit of hardware in that equation is a TV tuner, and right now Meritline has the deal to beat: a Mygica U6012 Hybrid USB TV tuner for $29.99 shipped. Because this is a "hybrid" tuner, it can pull in the aforementioned over-the-air HD signals (aka ATSC), Clear QAM (digital signals delivered via cable), or analog channels (aka NTSC, also delivered via cable)…”

35. Wow! 2 Million Downloads For 'Tap Tap Revenge 3' Since Going Free Last Week http://www.businessinsider.com/tap-tap-revenge-3-2-million-downloads-since-going-free-last-week-2009-12 “…Another iPhone Christmas winner: Tapulous, whose "Tap Tap Revenge 3" music/rhythm game is the most popular app in the App Store right now…Since dropping its price to free (from 99 cents last week), Tapulous tells us it's had 2 million downloads of "TTR3."…”

36. XBMC Updates to 9.11 Camelot, Brings Awesome New Look, Improved Features http://lifehacker.com/5433795/xbmc-updates-to-911-camelot-brings-awesome-new-look-improved-features XBMC is a killer open-source, cross-platform media center, and today they've released XBMC 9.11, introducing a whole new default look and feel, and it's very friendly on the eyes…XBMC is a free download for Windows, Mac, Linux, Apple TV, and pretty much anywhere else you want to put it…”

37. Project Canvas given green light by BBC Trust http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8426104.stm The BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body, has given a provisional go-ahead for a project which could kick-start demand for internet TV. Project Canvas is a partnership between the BBC, ITV, BT, Five, Channel 4 and TalkTalk to develop a so-called Internet Protocol Television standard…”

Economy and Technology

38. Tech Mergers and Acquisitions to Grow in 2010 http://www.pcworld.com/article/184563/ “…Tech M&A activity in the United States hit lows of $3.1 billion in the first quarter and $2.3 billion in the second quarter of this year, as measured by value of closed deals. Those numbers were a far cry from the $13.8 billion posted in the second quarter of 2008 and the $44.6 billion in the third quarter of 2008… the industry is starting to rebound with $9.8 billion worth of closed deals in the third quarter of 2009…Billion-dollar deals made a comeback in the third quarter of this year with announcements such as Xerox's $6.5 billion purchase of Affiliated Computer Services and Dell's planned acquisition of Perot Systems for $3.9 billion…Another pending deal that could boost the stats is Oracle's $7.4 billion purchase of Sun, which is being reviewed by European regulators…Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are potentially hot properties in the social networking industry. Creating financial value in Facebook and Twitter will be a challenge, however, and therefore the list of companies willing to shell out big bucks for the sites is limited, Armstrong said. Armstrong believes LinkedIn may have more value to potential acquirers because the site is built around a quite significant type of transaction – the hiring of new employees. "Paying a billion or so dollars for Twitter would just be madness," Armstrong says…”

39. Smart Grid spending boom to top $200B by 2015 http://green.venturebeat.com/2009/12/28/smart-grid-spending-boom-to-top-200b-by-2015/ If there was one breakout business within the cleantech sector this year, it was the Smart Grid. Companies working toward the construction of a cleaner, more efficient electrical grid have multiplied, offering new ways to connect homes and businesses to utilities, to transmit more data, and to use less energy overall. The industry…should represent $200 billion in total spending by 2015…To put this number in context, 2009 saw $10 billion in Smart Grid spending, and the U.S. government’s big grid giveaway this year — in the form of grants from the U.S. Department of Energy — came to only $3.4 billion…While the emphasis today is on smart meters and their makers, like Itron and Landis+Gyr, Pike predicts that most of the business — about 84 percent of it to be exact — will swing toward grid automation services…only about 2 percent of Smart Grid spending is expected to go to advanced transportation systems. This seems about right. Even after the cars hit mainstream showrooms, it will take years for them to capture enough market share to make a difference in grid operations. Without EVs on the road, electric car fueling companies like Coulomb Technologies and Better Place won’t be able to break out either. Even though many utilities have elaborate multi-year plans to roll out smart meters to customers in their coverage areas, the Smart Grid gravy train won’t chug along forever. Spending in the space should peak at $35 billion in 2013, Pike expects, arguing that once government backing for grid expansion shuts off, growth will slow. That said, by then the business should be well established and generating regular, self-supporting revenue…”

40. How do you get a $4 million second round from Google Ventures at age 21 http://venturebeat.com/2009/12/27/how-do-you-get-a-4-million-second-round-from-google-ventures-at-age-21/ “…SCVNGR offers a platform to help businesses, universities and museums build real-world, location-based games. Some are exactly what the name implies — scavenger hunts with clues from your phone. Cities can use them in tourism campaigns to promote places, while museums can use them to point out works of art. Still others, like jewelers, can use them for promotions. One SCVNGR-based game involves burying a $15,000 diamond ring in the ground and giving it away to the finder…It’s proving to be a rather profitable niche for the Boston-based startup. The company turned cash flow positive in the last half of 2009 and will bring in $1 million in revenues this year, all from being an idea that Priebatsch submitted to a business plan competition his freshman year…”

41. The Elves Leave Middle Earth – Sodas Are No Longer Free http://steveblank.com/2009/12/21/the-elves-leave-middle-earth-%E2%80%93-soda%E2%80%99s-are-no-longer-free/ “…a fairly successful 3½ year-old startup…had just crossed cash flow breakeven, had grown past 50 employees…and had recently hired a Chief Financial Officer…the new CFO got up to give her presentation – all kind of expected; Sarbanes Oxley compliance, a new accounting system, beef up IT and security…Then she dropped the other shoe. “Do you know how much our company is spending on free sodas and snacks?” And to answer her own question she presented the spreadsheet totaling it all up…I had lived through this same conversation four times in my career, and each time it ended as an example of unintended consequences. No one on the board or the executive staff was trying to be stupid. But to save $10,000 or so, they unintentionally launched an exodus of their best engineers. This company had grown from the founders, who hired an early team of superstars, many now managing their own teams. All these engineers were still heads-down, working their tails off, just as they had been doing since the first few months of the company. Too busy working, most were oblivious to the changes that success and growth had brought to the company. One day the engineering team was clustered in the snack room looking at the soda machine. The sign said, “Soda now 50 cents.” The uproar began…A few engineers went to the see the CEO. But the damage had been done…The best engineers quietly put the word out that they were available, and in less than month the best and the brightest began to drift away…”

Civilian Aerospace

42. Innovators: X-Prize Effect http://www.bloomberg.com/avp/avp.htm?N=innovators&T=Innovators:%20X-Prize%20Effect&clipSRC=FLASH/innovators/innovators_broadcast-x-prize_effect.flv “…27 minute video report about the X PRIZE and NewSpace developments includes interviews with Peter Diamandis, Dave Masten, John Carmack and others…”

43. xkcd: Gravity Wells http://xkcd.com/681/ xkcd’s explanation of gravity wells for orbital mechanics and space travel

44. White House science office reports United States rocket propulsion work lagging http://blog.al.com/space-news/2009/12/white_house_science_office_rep.html Limited demand for rocket engines could slow advanced U.S. propulsion work…the U.S. space launch industry has seen a decline in launch services over the past decade . . . From 2004-2008 the U.S. shared of commercial launches was about 17 percent, compared with 42 percent for Russia, 21 percent for Europe and 18 percent for the multi-national company SeaLaunch." From 1999-2008, rocket launches in the United States dropped by half - down from 31 to 15…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

45. Workshop Focuses on Use of Manycore and Accelerator-based Computing for Advancing Science http://www.hpcwire.com/features/Workshop-Focuses-on-Use-of-Manycore-and-Accelerator-based-Computing-for-Advancing-Science-79438722.html Online, at conferences and in theory, manycore processors and the use of accelerators such as GPUs and FPGAs are being viewed as the next big revolution in high performance computing (HPC). If they can live up to the potential, these accelerators could someday transform how computational science is performed, providing much more computing power and energy efficiency…they are already helping to drive significant scientific research projects -- not bundled together in large systems, but rather one server at a time. In early December, a group of astronomers, physicists and HPC experts gathered at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory near San Francisco to discuss how GPUs and FPGAs are meeting their unique needs…”

46. Third Workshop on General-Purpose Computation on Graphics Procesing Units http://gpgpu.org/2009/12/20/cfp-gpgpu-3 “…The goal of this workshop is to provide a forum to discuss these general-purpose programming environments and platforms, as well as describe successful applications that have leveraged this approach to acceleration. This year’s workshop is particularly interested in code/compiler optimizations, supercomputing environments, and virtualization techniques that lower the barrier to successfully utilizing these platforms…”

*****


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