2010/02/23

NEW NET Issues List for 23 Feb 2010

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 23 February 2010, 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. How we built secret London in a weekend http://eu.techcrunch.com/2010/02/16/guest-post-how-we-built-secret-london-in-a-weekend/ The website build weekend drew to a close two days ago and it is only beginning to dawn on me that we might just have achieved the impossible…One week ago, secretlondon put the call out on its blog, Facebook wall and Twitter feed for volunteers to help us build a site for the rapidly growing ‘Secret London’ Facebook Group and migrate the existing content across to a new home…over 40 people committed their weekend to make it happen. The challenge we were trying to solve was simple enough. The Facebook Group in just a few weeks had already attracted over 195,000 users, and completely outgrown its Facebook home…Members were telling me that there was too much information for them to possibly trawl through. We had to find somewhere for this restless and growing crowd to go before they lost interest, and quickly. The problem was there were only really four of us (me, plus the guys at onefinestay), and we had almost no money. What’s amazing, though, is how much you can do cheaply if you are working on a project that inspires people…Including the domain names for us and future secretcities, catering and all the other out of pocket costs, our total cost for the entire process have been less than £3,000…”

2. Apple’s Massive iDataCenter http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2010/02/22/first-look-apples-massive-idatacenter/ “…Apple’s new iDataCenter in Maiden, North Carolina…as illustrated by this aerial video…apparently taken by an area realtor…The new $1 billion data center will be nearly five times the size of Apple’s existing 109,000 square foot Newark, Calif. facility, and is seen as a key component of Apple’s cloud computing strategy…Apple’s data center in Maiden is expected to provide the back-end for a larger move into cloud computing, with most speculation focusing on a shift of iTunes user libraries from user desktops to online storage…”

3. The Mysterious Social Search Abyss Of 2010 http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/22/the-mysterious-social-search-abyss-of-2010/ “…At some point in mid January, a group of sites including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, and Foursquare saw a huge drop in number of searches for their domains…large social sites saw the most pronounced drops that all seem to be aligned. Weirdly, google.com did not see any drop (though I’m not sure who uses Google to google google.com)…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

4. PleaseRobMe.com posts when you're not at home http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/17/MNMQ1C3A0V.DTL Frank Groeneveld, a computer science student in the Netherlands, was fast asleep not long ago when a burglar tried to enter his home. Groeneveld, 22, managed to scare off the intruder but was left wondering: What if I wasn't home?...he found himself inundated by status updates on Twitter from users broadcasting…the fact that their home was likely unattended and vulnerable to a burglary. It led him and two friends to launch a Web site this week provocatively called PleaseRobMe.com, a mashup of users' content from Twitter, the San Francisco microblogging service, and FourSquare, a site in which users share their location. While little more than a gag, PleaseRobMe raises serious questions about the potential ills associated with publicizing information online, particularly a user's whereabouts…”

5. School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-10457126-71.html “…the Lower Merion School District…has been accused of remote-controlled Webcam spying on its students. The student at the center of the allegations, Blake Robbins, claims the school, having produced a still photograph taken remotely by a school official, falsely accused him of selling drugs…the school district has admitted activating students' laptop Webcams 42 times over a 14-month period. The district claims each activation was merely an attempt to locate a stolen or missing laptop…district spokesman Doug Young told the Post that the documentation signed by students when they received the laptops did not make it clear the Webcams could be activated remotely…” [http://www.philly.com/philly/education/85022542.html “…A lot of people think this is being blown out of proportion," said senior David Freedman, 18. "I believe the school when they say they only used it to find lost or stolen laptops. People realize this is not a real threat…Senior Bonnie McFarland, 17, said students knew that when the green light on their computers came on, "if you're not activating the camera, someone is…It an invasion of privacy, but I'm sure we signed stuff in waivers [when we got the computers]…What's more bothersome is the media attention the case has drawn, she said…” http://blogs.pcmag.com/securitywatch/2010/02/how_harriton_high_school_monit.php “…one Network Tech at the Lower Merion School District has been blogging and posting on Apple mailing lists how he did it…The tech, Mike Perbix, was used in a promotional video for the LANRev, the monitoring product used by the school…he talks at length about how he used the product to take surreptitious remote pictures using the webcam…how he used LANRev to perform location-tracking on remote notebooks and to disable the webcam for user access, but retain it for administrative access. He also blinked the light next to the webcam to give the impression it wasn't working at all…the notebook policies in the school: Possession of a monitored Macbook was required for classes…Possession of an unmonitored personal computer was forbidden and would be confiscated…students were disciplined for bringing other computers to school, and threatened with expulsion for trying to "jailbreak" their notebooks…” http://strydehax.blogspot.com/2010/02/spy-at-harrington-high.html ]

6. The Future of the Internet, Where Everybody Knows Your Name http://www.fastcompany.com/1554403/does-the-future-of-the-internet-require-the-end-of-anonymity Is anonymity online coming to an end?...Experts were nearly split down the middle, with 55% agreeing that Internet users will be able to communicate anonymously and 41% agreeing that, by 2020, "anonymous online activity is sharply curtailed."…there isn't even a consensus on whether anonymity is universally desirable…We'll see a wide range of online identity options, from anonymity, to different levels of reasonably verified identity. Whistleblowers, for example, need anonymity. Public discussion boards need some modest level of verified identity, whereas home banking needs strong authentication…the theme of the online world coming to mirror the physical world certainly emerges…”

7. Why becoming a data thief is all too easy http://content.usatoday.com/communities/technologylive/post/2010/02/why-becoming-a-hacker-is-all-too-easy/1 “…anyone with $325, average computer skills and a stomach for larceny can begin to amass a trove of corporate data like the one plundered in 30 days from 2,411 large organizations worldwide…Current versions of ZeuS sell for up to $10,000, and are used by elite cyber gangs to wire funds from of the online banking accounts of small- and medium-sized businesses. But older, free versions of ZeuS work just fine for turning an infected PC into a bot and harvesting all the PC's account logons that are stored in Web browser cookies…Shell out $25 and you can hire a spamming specialist to send out email lures to 250,000 people enticing them to click on a corrupted Web link that will infect their PCs with your free copy of ZeuS…The only other thing you need to do is shell out $300 to rent an Internet-connected server to collect and store the harvested account logons that your bots will obediently harvest…It was one of these type of servers that NetWitness tracked down and accessed in late January. NetWitness' report on what it found -- 68,000 account logons stolen from 75,000 botted PCs in corporate networks -- drew big headlines in the Wall Street Journal…compared to other ZeuS operations, this was minor league…Amateurs are getting more widely involved in harvesting data because there is a rich and robust market for valid account logons…it remains true that many people use the same username and password to gain access to multiple accounts…”

8. UBS to Deploy IBM Secure Banking USB Device http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20100222/tc_pcworld/ubstodeployibmsecurebankingusbdevice Banking giant UBS has started deploying a device from IBM that ensures online banking transactions aren't being interfered with by hackers.IBM's ZTIC (Zone Trusted Information Channel) is a smart-card reader that attaches to computer via a USB cable. During an online banking transaction, it bypasses the Web browser and makes a direct SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connection with the bank…UBS chose the ZTIC for use primarily with corporate customers setting up new payment beneficiaries in their online banking system, according to a bank spokesman. Those corporate customers will get the ZTIC for free…It is also available to retail customers but they will have to pay 65 Swiss francs (US$60)…The technology that is in the ZTIC has been around for a while, but IBM is the first company to get a major bank to deploy it…”

9. 'Chuck Norris' Botnet Hides in Your Router http://news.yahoo.com/s/zd/20100222/tc_zd/248598 Czech researchers have uncovered a botnet running on broadband routers and DSL adapters…They said the main purpose of the botnet was to steal the usual sensitive data: bank accounts, e-mail inboxes, etc. Vykopal added that the botnet could be used for attacking other systems…This bot has been named "Chuck Norris" for a comment in the source code referring to the American actor…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

10. NTT Docomo demonstrates Eye-Controlled Earphone technology http://www.macworld.co.uk/ipod-itunes/news/index.cfm?newsid=28691&pagtype=allchandate Possibly the most mind-blowing demonstration at this year's MWC (Mobile World Congress) show in Barcelona is NTT Doccomo's remote control earphones that work just by moving your eyes. According to Docomo the left and right side of your eye emits positive and negative electrons, and Docomo has developed a system that can use this to track eye movement. The earphones look like regular earbuds with three small metal sensors attached. When wearing the earphones you can control a music player by making specific eye movements. Double looking left or right skips backwards and forwards, rotating your eyes controls volume, and so on…”

11. AT&T Becomes Last of Big Four Carriers To Offer Android http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20100218/bs_nf/71736 “…AT&T will, for the first time, offer a mobile device based on…Android…the device is Motorola's Backflip smartphone. AT&T is the last of the big four carriers in the U.S. to offer an Android device…AT&T said on its web site that it plans to add at least two more Android-based devices in the first half of this year -- a new smartphone from HTC, and Dell's first smartphone. The $99 3G/Wi-Fi Backflip…has a touch pad, a 3.1-inch HVGA touchscreen, and a flip-out QWERTY keyboard. AT&T described the keyboard as featuring "an original reverse flip design." By flipping the keyboard backward, the device can be set in tabletop mode for listening to music, looking at videos and photos, or acting as a digital alarm clock…social networking "brought to the forefront" is becoming common on many Android-based devices…allows a carrier to position Android as "a platform that can be all about you…”

12. How smartphones are bogging down some wireless carriers http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2010/02/how-smartphones-are-bogging-down-some-wireless-carriers.ars “…Even though AT&T has made improvements to its network…those improvements have done little to stem the tide of complaints from consumers…To make matters worse, AT&T has announced a number of initiatives to add a even greater number of 3G data devices to its network, including Android smartphones, e-book readers, mobile data modems, and now the iPad…newer smartphones are changing the assumptions that carriers use when configuring their network…the iPhone uses more power saving features than previous smartphone designs. Most devices that use data do so in short bursts…Normally, devices that access the data network use an idling state that maintains the open data channel between the device and the network…to squeeze even more battery life from the iPhone, Apple configured the radio to simply drop the data connection as soon as any requested data is received. When the iPhone needs more data, it has to set up a new data connection. The result is more efficient use of the battery, but it can cause problems with the signaling channels used to set up connections…Cell nodes use signaling channels to set up the data connection, as well as signaling phone calls, SMS messages, voicemails, and more. When enough iPhones are in a particular area, these signaling channels can become overloaded—there simply aren't enough to handle all the data requests along with all the calls and messages…this technique is not limited to the iPhone. Android and webOS devices also use a similar technique to increase battery life…”

13. MIT's Sketch-Interpreting Software Turns Tablet Computers into Smart Whiteboards http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-02/mits-sketch-interpreting-software-turns-tablet-computers-smart-whiteboards “…computer science colleagues have begun developing sketch-recognition for tablet computers such as Apple's iPad that can interpret stylus drawings of chemical bonds and element symbols for chemists, circuit components such as batteries or capacitors in an electrical engineering diagram, and even family trees…We want to interconnect this with some of the other things we've done with speech and web-based lookup so that one could walk up to the whiteboard and sketch a molecule and say, 'Has anybody published anything like this…I point at the corner of the molecule and I say, 'What if I put a methyl group there?' Not draw it, but just gesture at it…The MIT software then breaks down the drawn symbol into different parts such as horizontal, vertical or diagonal elements. Algorithms help clean up stray marks and enhance intentional strokes. And a database allows the system to compare drawn symbols to known symbols…”

Open Source

14. Microsoft, Amazon strike patent deal covering Kindle and Linux http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2010/02/microsoft_amazon_in_patent_deal.html Microsoft and Amazon.com have reached an agreement that gives each company a license to the other's patent portfolio, in a way that could revive one of the Redmond company's longest-running controversies…as part of the deal, Microsoft says it's granting Amazon patent-related "coverage" for its use of open-source and proprietary technologies in its Kindle e-reader, and its use of Linux-based computer servers…the deal could raise eyebrows in some corners of the technology world, if it's interpreted as Amazon implicitly endorsing Microsoft's claims that Linux and other open-source technologies violate its patents. Open-source advocates have long disputed those claims…Amazon is paying to avoid a possible patent claim from Microsoft…Microsoft roiled the open-source community in 2007 when it claimed that Linux and other open-source technologies violated more than 200 of its patents. The company sued TomTom last year over the navigation company's implementation of the Linux kernel in its devices. TomTom ultimately settled with Microsoft in an agreement that required it to remove Linux-related file-management technologies from its products…”

15. Sage Bionetworks Snaps Up $6.7M Grant to Train Young Network Biologists http://www.xconomy.com/seattle/2010/02/23/sage-bionetworks-snaps-up-6-7m-grant-to-train-young-network-biologists/ Sage Bionetworks, a fledgling Seattle nonprofit attempting to launch an open-source biology movement, has nabbed a $6.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to train young scientists to learn to better use genomic data to help improve drug discovery and patient care. The grant lasts for four years, and it may be supplemented and extended…if this vision is going to become reality, it will require a culture change in biology, making it more open and less proprietary. The new training program is one key step toward making that happen…”

16. A handbook for the open source way, written the open source way http://opensource.com/business/10/2/how-manual-open-source-way-written-open-source-way Remember the Seinfeld episode where Kramer had the idea to make a coffee table book about coffee tables? I always thought that was a pretty elegant idea. Well, a few months ago, some of the smart folks on Red Hat's community architecture team had a similarly elegant idea: Write a book about building community the open source way... and write it with a community, the open source way. Meaning, open the text up, allow interested users to contribute, and see what happens…The book is entitled The Open Source Way: Creating and nurturing communities of contributors and you can access the current text here…”

17. As Cars Get More Complicated, Maybe Open Source Is The Way http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100217/1208458199.shtml “…Michael A. Spiegel over at the Software Freedom Law Center makes an interesting point about this situation: If Toyota truly wanted to repair its public image and reputation for quality, it would make its source code available to anyone interested, not just a single government regulator. The public is far more likely to discover bugs and suggest improvements than a relatively small number of overworked and potentially inexperienced government employees. This is a intriguing proposition for a number of reasons. By releasing its software to the open source community, they could become key participants in the growing open source car ecosystem. By doing so, they could potentially benefit from the collective intelligence of that community looking at their code. Sure, Toyota may scoff at sharing what they consider to be proprietary IP with potential competitors, but…while software definitely is playing a critical part in automotive systems, by itself, it is not the selling point of a car…”

SkyNet

18. Google Buzz Privacy Backlash Not Anticipated, Google Says http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Messaging-and-Collaboration/Google-Buzz-Privacy-Backlash-Not-Anticipated-Google-Says-212091/ “…Google did not expect the negative backlash that befell Google Buzz when it launched Feb. 9. Horowitz acknowledged users were "unhappy," which led Google to work around the clock to address concerns…Google launched Google Buzz Feb. 9 to let users post status updates, links, photos and videos within the application that leverages Gmail users' e-mail and chat contacts as a ready-made social network…Google has taken several steps to ameliorate the ensuing privacy backlash, making privacy controls more visible and making the service auto-suggest instead of auto-follow…while Google tested Buzz with its 20,000-plus employees, it failed to run Buzz through the Trusted Tester program, a network of friends and family of Google employees who are given access to products before they launch…”

19. Stop Playing Tag: Publish Your Google Calendar Now http://www.pcworld.com/article/189667/ You can save a lot of back-and-forth making appointments if you publish your calendar to the Web…I've been publishing my calendar to the Internet for a couple of months. It really paid off yesterday, when I had to set up five interviews for an article. In the past, there would have been lots of back and forth in e-mail. "Is this time good for you?" "No, I'm sorry, how about this time?" Instead, I just pointed the interview subjects to my public calendar, and I had nine appointments set up within an hour…I started publishing my calendar in December, when I saw a friend doing it and thought it looked potentially useful. At first I was worried that I'd be giving away too much of my privacy. But the calendar can be set to show only busy and free time, without revealing details of what you're busy doing. It doesn't hurt me for you to know when I'm busy, and the payoff is big in saved time…"People tell me all the time that they love being able to see my calendar," he said. "I’m surprised more people don’t do it, because Google makes it so easy…”

20. Google Calendar’s Upcoming Facelift http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/17/google-calendar-ui/ “…Google Calendar may not be the sexiest product Google offers, but, as with Gmail, there are plenty of people who use it to manage their business and personal lives…we’ve gotten our hands on a screenshot showing what appears to be an internal build of Google Calendar, giving us an idea of what a forthcoming UI refresh might look like…the changes are all aesthetic and fairly minor but they add up to make a difference — the new version looks more modern, and it also looks more like Google’s other Apps…These aren’t part of the default Google Calendar site now, but you can activate it through Google Calendar Labs…”

21. How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/02/ff_google_algorithm/ “…Want to know how Google is about to change your life? Stop by the Ouagadougou conference room on a Thursday morning. It is here, at the Mountain View, California, headquarters of the world’s most powerful Internet company, that a room filled with three dozen engineers, product managers, and executives figure out how to make their search engine even smarter…The decisions made at the weekly Search Quality Launch Meeting will wind up affecting the results you get when you use Google’s search engine to look for anything …just as Google isn’t ready to rest on its laurels, its competitors aren’t ready to concede defeat…Facebook…would rather get information from their friends than from an anonymous formula. Twitter’s ability to parse its constant stream of updates introduced the concept of real-time search…Yelp helps people find restaurants, dry cleaners, and babysitters by crowdsourcing the ratings…the biggest threat to Google can be found 850 miles to the north: Bing. Microsoft’s revamped and rebranded search engine…The new look, along with a $100 million ad campaign, helped boost Microsoft’s share of the US search market from 8 percent to about 11…while Google does a great job of searching the public Web, it doesn’t have real-time access to the byzantine and constantly changing array of flight schedules and fares. So Microsoft purchased Farecast — a Web site that tracks airline fares over time and uses the data to predict when ticket prices will rise or fall — and incorporated its findings into Bing’s results. Microsoft made similar acquisitions in the health, reference, and shopping sectors…The algorithm is extremely important in search, but it’s not the only thing,” says Brian MacDonald, Microsoft’s VP of core search…Google’s response can be summed up in four words: mike siwek lawyer mi…The top result connects to a listing for an attorney named Michael Siwek in Grand Rapids, Michigan…Type those same words into Bing, for instance, and the first result is a page about the NFL draft that includes safety Lawyer Milloy. Several pages into the results, there’s no direct referral to Siwek. The comparison demonstrates the power, even intelligence, of Google’s algorithm…It possesses the seemingly magical ability to interpret searchers’ requests — no matter how awkward or misspelled. Google refers to that ability as search quality…Google has offered to give me an unprecedented look at just how it attains search quality…”

22. A web clipboard for Google Docs http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2010/02/web-clipboard-for-google-docs.html “…we’re launching a new web clipboard that improves copy and paste in Google Docs. This new clipboard temporarily stores items you’ve copied in the cloud, then allows you to paste them with proper formatting into other Google Docs…The new web clipboard lets you copy content between documents, spreadsheets and presentations more easily and with improved fidelity, and this is just our first step…”

23. Google gets go-ahead to buy, sell energy http://green.venturebeat.com/2010/02/19/google-gets-go-ahead-to-buy-sell-energy-just-like-a-utility/ “…Google…just got the green light from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — giving it the same rights and abilities as any other utility company, just like PG&E…It still seems unlikely that Google will actually set up its own utility company…it plans to buy lower cost energy wholesale to slash its own massive energy bills. On top of that, it claims that it will use its new authority to buy more energy generated from renewable sources…Wal-Mart set up its own energy venture, Texas Retail Energy, after it got similar approval, in order to reduce its annual electricity costs. It makes sense for corporations with huge energy demands (think of all Google’s gigantic data centers across the country) to buy it in bulk…Wal-Mart hasn’t propelled itself into the utility market…it seems like Google will follow in its footsteps…”

24. Google’s Music Strategy: Past, Present and Future http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/02/google%E2%80%99s-music-strategy-past-present-and-future/ “…it would be nuts to count out Google in the race to replace iTunes’ pay-per-download model with a cloud-based music service that is easy and attractive enough to convince non-music-buyers to open their wallets…Apple has owned the digital music market since…the launch of the iTunes music store in 2003…the company’s one-two punch of iTunes and iPod has fended off all comers…we’re approaching a major inflection point in the short history of digital music, a time when we stop administering our own music collections on local hard drives, and instead build them online, where they can be accessed on a multitude of connected devices — smartphones, netbooks, tablets, computers, televisions, bookshelf systems and cars — without the tedium of managing each and every file transfer by hand…Google’s approach to music has been very un-Google: Send users to the walled gardens of Lala, iLike, Pandora and Rhapsody…Google has been playing nice with the music industry — not only with Google music search, but with Vevo, the music video site owned in part by Sony Music and Universal Music Group. Vevo is already working well, tallying 35 million visitors and 13 billion views in December…hardly anyone is going to Vevo.com to view these videos — instead, they’re going to Google’s YouTube…Even before it launches a dedicated cloud-based music service, Google might already be the top cloud-based music company in the world, in a sense, due to the popularity of music streams on YouTube. (It’s even possible to download full MP3s from YouTube without paying a cent, using Dirpy or other tools.)…Google is considering purchasing a U.S. and Israeli company called Catch Media, as reported by CNET…”

25. Google Acquires reMail http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/17/google-continues-shopping-spree-acquires-remail-and-former-gmail-employee/ “…Google…has acquired another email-based startup, reMail.ReMail developed a powerful iPhone application that gives you instant full text-search for all of your Email. Launched in August, reMail is an alternative to the native iPhone mail client, which has a number of shortcomings…The startup was incubated at Y Combinator, and was founded by Gabor Cselle, who completed his Master’s thesis on Organizing Email, worked on the Gmail team, and was also VP of Engineering at Xobni, which he left last year to pursue his own company…he will be joining Google in Mountain View as a Product Manager on the Gmail team. reMail will be discontinued and has been removed it from the App Store…” [http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/the_5_most_interesting_things_about_googles_remail_acquisition.php ]

General Technology

26. Toward a Grand Unified Theory of n00bs http://dangrover.com/?action=view&url=toward-a-grand-unified-theory-of-n00bs “…It’s like…if you asked a friend if there was a Starbucks in his neighborhood and he said, yeah I think there’s one half a mile down, maybe. And you drive half a mile and see a big carwash place, and you park and walk in and ask to speak to the manager. And you tell the carwash manager how unhappy you are with this terrible new Starbucks redesign."…As a computer savvy person, it's easy to forget how different the average joe is from you. This disparity is the source of much frustration and inefficiency in the world. And it's only going to get worse, unless we do something about it…The initial reaction of folks like me, of course, is to dismiss these people. After all, they don't know what a browser is. They don't seem to understand what site they're on or who it's run by. They're unfamiliar with basic design idioms used universally across the web (e.g. headings, subheadings, navigation, comment forms). Some seem to lack even basic reading comprehension, and no amount of redesigning or copyediting will enhance the understanding these people take away from a page. They can only be described as n00bs…there are legitimate excuses for this kind of behavior that can be found by examining some key differences between those who build software and those who use it…”

27. Touchscreen Computers You Don’t Even Need to Touch http://www.economist.com/sciencetechnology/tm/displayStory.cfm?story_id=15536460 “…touch-screens on mobile phones means that a swipe, tap or a flick comes as naturally these days as the click of a mouse. But existing touch-screens have their limits. Those relying on changes in electrical resistance tend to have poorer resolution than is needed for modern applications, while those that rely on capacitance require an ungloved finger…a new generation of touch-screens, known as optical liquid crystal displays…embed tiny light sensors next to many of the screen’s pixels. In the brief moments between each successive screen image, the backlight is turned off. In these periods of darkness, undetectable to the human eye, sensors are able to pick up light coming from outside the device. Although such sensors are designed to detect only the presence or absence of a finger touching the screen, Ramesh Raskar, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wondered whether this new type of device could be turned into not a touch, but a touchless screen by using the sensors to detect more distant objects as well. His idea was to treat each sensor as if it were a pinhole camera…then stitch the two-dimensional images from each pinhole together to obtain a three-dimensional picture. This could then be used to determine which bit of the screen a distant finger is pointing at…”

28. Bloom Box: revolutionary fuel cell technology or just black magic marketing? http://www.dailytech.com/Is+the+Magic+Alternative+Energy+Bloom+Box+for+Real/article17752.htm “…The "Bloom Box" a roughly cubic structure has already been embraced by eBay, Google, Staples, FedEx, and Walmart…But is the new box the solution to all of mankind energy problems or a snake oil remedy for the world's fossil fuel habit?...So what is a Bloom Box exactly? Well, $700,000 to $800,000 will buy you a "corporate sized" unit. Inside the box are a unique kind of fuel cell consisting of ceramic disks coated with green and black "inks". The inks somehow transform a stream of methane (or other hydrocarbons) and oxygen into power…To get a view of the cost and benefits, eBay installed 5 of the boxes nine months ago. It says it has saved $100,000 USD on energy since. So assuming the maximum cost -- $4M USD -- the investment on a Bloom Box would appear to take 30 years to recoup…Mr. Sridhar originally invented a similar device when he was working for NASA designing infrastructure for a prospective Mars colony…Inside the box, one disc can produce energy to "power a lightbulb" (60 W, assuming a full power lightbulb). The discs are produced from baked sand and then painted on each side with the special ink…best of all it can produce at full power 24-7 -- something no solar or wind generator can claim…the only thing that's for sure is that Wednesday's announcement should be intriguing.” [ http://earth2tech.com/2010/02/21/10-things-to-know-about-bloom-energy/ http://earth2tech.com/2010/02/22/10-fuel-cell-startups-hot-on-bloom-energy%E2%80%99s-trail/ ]

29. NEC develops 16Gbps link usable for USB 3.0 http://www.electronista.com/articles/10/02/17/nec.usb.3.controller.triples.in.speed/ NEC…developed a new chipset whose bus speeds could more than triple the speed of USB 3.0…it has conquered the interference that plagues very high speed data and provided considerably more headroom. It expects that USB 3.0 or a similar technology could reach 16Gbps, or about 3.3 times faster than the peak 5Gbps of the official spec. The speed would amount to about 2GB per second…NEC would still need to obtain approval from an organization like the USB Implementers Forum to make its technology part of a standard but could potentially cut down even very large data transfers to a matter of seconds…”

30. Super Velcro http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/24539/?a=f “…researchers have made an extremely strong adhesive that comes apart when heated. The adhesive is 10 times stickier than Velcro and the reusable gecko-inspired glues…The polymers in the glue bond to each other within minutes when they are initially heated…The adhesive could lead to cars that are easy and cheap to customize. Xie envisions interchangeable car bumpers and trim in different colors. Customers could even specify where they wanted their radio, GPS system, or cup holders placed…strong, switchable adhesives could make it easier to recycle computers and electronics, if these adhesives were used to glue them together…The glue could find use in any application requiring a strong but alterable bond, such as furniture, toys, and buildings. Geoghegan envisions offices or hotel rooms that could be tailored to accommodate a handicapped person…”

31. Reinventing the Wheel http://cleantechnica.com/2010/02/21/columbia-university-students-reinvent-the-wheel/ “…students at Columbia University has made it to the next round of Walmart’ s Better Living Business Plan Challenge…by yes, reinventing the wheel. The team has proposed a business venture that would make energy efficient, lightweight composite wheels for buses, trucks and other large vehicles…Lightweight composite wheels are familiar to bicyclists and ATV enthusiasts, but their use in wheels for heavier vehicles has been limited…Three of the four members of the team are Boeing employees involved in the distance learning program of the Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, so a likely inspiration for the project is the growing use of durable, lightweight composite materials in aircraft. Durability is the key to translating composite wheels into use by trucks and other heavy vehicles, and another factor is cost…”

Leisure & Entertainment

32. Clicker: The TV Guide Of Online Video http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/18/clicker-funding/ “…Clicker doesn’t actually store content on its servers, but instead makes it very easy to search through the vast amounts of content available online. Clicker’s index includes over 600,000 full length TV episodes spanning 10,000 shows. The service also allows users to search through premium content including Netflix’s Instant Streaming movies and Amazon Video on Demand (though you have to pay to watch them). The site also offers music videos, and has started teaming up with schools to index their lectures and other original content…”

33. Phone Game Needs No Server http://www.technologyreview.com/communications/24624/?a=f A new augmented reality game can run on two Android phones, over 3G or Wi-Fi, without an additional server. The unique networking method used for the game could be quite useful for those working on disaster relief or in the military…Multiplayer games on mobile devices like phones usually require remote servers for communication between devices and game hosting…The game uses a computing middleware system, called Ibis, originally developed for high-performance, distributed computing tasks, such as image processing or astrophysics research, but which Kemp and colleagues have adapted to run on Android phones. "It allows each phone to run a lightweight communication server…the game offers a modern-day take on the old gun-slinging shootouts of the Wild West by fusing the real world with virtual play. It's simple enough: two players walk three steps away from each other, turn and shoot. But instead of firing bullets, a player tries to shoot a photograph of his opponent, lining up the onscreen crosshairs in the camera's viewfinder with the opponent's face. Each player has up to six shots, and the first to "shoot" their opponent in the face wins…The accelerometers and digital compass built into Android phones allow the game-- distributed on both phones--to act like the referee, making sure each player has taken three steps and doesn't turn too soon. "And to evaluate if it was a hit or a miss, we use a face-detection algorithm…”

34. Lego Creating Multiplayer Online Game http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20100218/tc_pcworld/legocreatingmultiplayeronlinegame “…Lego Group plans to launch an MMOG (massively multiplayer online game) in the second half of this year, to be called Lego Universe…the game…was four years in the making…The Lego Universe will be aimed at children 8 to 12 years old, though the company hopes the offering will be appealing to older individuals as well…Players cannot be killed, but they can be reduced to a pile of unassembled bricks. The idea is to play the game and collect bricks, which will allow users to build more interesting models…Some worlds will have traditional Lego themes, such as pirates, ninjas and castles, while others will be novel for the Lego space…Users can also graft behaviors onto their creations…”

35. Wal-Mart Picks Up Digital VUDU http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2010/tc20100222_235241.htm “…Wal-Mart said it would buy VUDU, which sells and rents downloadable movies and TV shows that can be viewed on such Web-connected devices as Blu-ray disc players and some LG televisions…Buying VUDU pushes Wal-Mart further into the online territory dominated by Apple, Amazon.com and Netflix and helps the retailer compensate for weakness in demand for CDs and DVDs sold through brick-and-mortar outlets. "The one area of Wal-Mart's business that's under threat is digital…Sales of digital entertainment can also fuel demand for the hardware needed to play music, TV, and movies…The VUDU purchase may help Wal-Mart generate sales of flat-panel TVs and Blu-ray players. VUDU expects to be built into more than 150 products this year, compared with 8 in 2009…”

36. iPhone Game House ngmoco Raises $25 Million, Buys Freeverse http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/22/ngmoco-25-million-series-c-buys-freeverse/ Neil Young, the CEO of iPhone game startup ngmoco, wants to “amass enough scale” to accelerate “away from the pack.” He just raised a $25 million series C round and acquired Freeverse, another top iPhone game developer…Two of its games alone—TouchPets and Eliminate—have been installed 9 million times, and hundreds of thousands of people play every day. Last year, ngmoco switched to free-to-play games with in-app purchases for virtual goods through its Plus+ social game network. All of Freeverse’s games, such as Skee-Ball, Flick Fishing, Flick Bowling, and Moto Chaser, are paid apps. Skee-Ball is the No. 4 ranked paid app in the App Store. But Young plans to move the Freeverse games over to the free-to-play model…Young also acquired the $0.99 game Charadium from another game developer and plans to convert that over to free-to-play as well…Young says TouchPets had “its biggest revenue day” last weekend, and its next two games, We Rule and GodFinger (a “social god game”), were designed specifically with the free-to-play model in mind. “On any given day, you have about 2% of your audience paying you money…”

Economy and Technology

37. For Chip Makers, the Next Battle Is in Smartphones http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/22/technology/22chip.html “…The going rate for a state-of-the-art chip factory is about $3 billion. The plants typically take years to build…the chip wars are about to become even more bloody. In this next phase, the manufacturers will be fighting to supply the silicon for one of the fastest-growing segments of computing: smartphones, tiny laptops and tablet-style devices…ARM Holdings…owns the rights to the core chip design used in most smartphones and licenses that technology to manufacturers…Intel…has long been held up as the gold standard when it comes to ultra-efficient, advanced chip manufacturing plants…GlobalFoundries…a new player in the contract chip-making business, was formed last year when Advanced Micro Devices…spun off its manufacturing operations…helped by close to $10 billion in current and promised investments from the government of Abu Dhabi…Even without the direct investment of a factory, it can cost these companies about $1 billion to create a smartphone chip from scratch…these types of chips have made their way from smartphones like the iPhone to other types of devices because of their low power consumption and cost…Nvidia and Qualcomm want to get their chips into as many types of consumer electronics as possible, including entertainment systems in cars, and home phones with screens and Web access…Intel is about to enter the phone fray, both to expand its market and defend itself against the ARM chip makers…Intel executives argue that consumers will demand more robust mobile computing experiences, requiring chips with more oomph and PC-friendly software…”

38. Yuri Milner: DST Has $1 Billion for Social Media http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2010/tc20100218_270634.htm In early 2009, as Russian investor Yuri Milner scoured the social media landscape for possible targets, he didn't wait for Facebook to call. Milner hopped on a plane and met directly with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Palo Alto, Calif., paving the way for his company, Digital Sky Technologies, to pay $200 million for an almost 2% stake. "I am making big investments," says Milner, who estimates that he spends as much as 75% of his time traveling. "You just have to be personally involved…Digital Sky Technologies, which in December led a round of funding in social gaming site Zynga, plans to invest more than $1 billion in social Web startups around the world, mostly outside Russia…Digital Sky tends to take small stakes in large, established social media companies that might otherwise be on the verge of an initial share sale. Such a big infusion—typically at a higher valuation than earlier-stage investments—gives an enterprise time to pursue growth without facing the pressures of a publicly traded company…Milner says he invests for the "very long term," comparing his style to that of Warren Buffett, an investor he admires…In January, the average Russian Web user spent 9.3 hours on social sites…U.S. ranked 18th, with users spending 4.5 hours on social sites…”

39. Hertz To Add Nissan Leaf EV to Rental Fleet http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/02/hertz-rent-nissan-leaf/ “…Hertz…is adding the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle to its rental fleets in Europe and the United States next year…it will begin taking reservations for the car in April and begin putting them in driveways in December…Nissan is of course stoked by the announcement, which will give people a chance to try out an EV without forking out the dough to get one…it’s said to be shooting for something in the $26,000 to $33,000 ballpark…”

Civilian Aerospace

40. Dubai inaugural World Space Risk Forum http://www.bi-me.com/main.php?id=44590&t=1&c=35&cg=4&mset=1011 The World Space Risk Forum…will be held…in Dubai from 1 - 3 March 2010…Delegates attending the event will include CEOs and CFOs of satellite manufacturers, satellite operators and launch service providers, in addition to all the major global insurance brokers and underwriter companies…A panel of industry experts will debate each session topic giving the audience an opportunity to gain insights on new developments in the space industry and their economic consequence…”

41. Where’s the ore for Mars miners? http://news.discovery.com/space/mars-prospecting-ores-gold.html “…On Earth, surface waters, ground waters and even chemicals left by living things play major roles in leaching, concentrating and depositing valuable metals and minerals like iron, gold, silver, nickel, copper and many more…on Mars there are no oceans or surface waters; no microorganisms either…So where does a starving miner look on Mars for usable quantities of ore?...The vast volcanic landscapes of Mars, for instance, are analogous to what geologists call the "Large Igneous Provinces" (LIPs) of Earth. These are areas where lots of lava poured out over the surface…Elements that are extracted from Earth's LIPs include nickel, copper, titanium, iron, platinum, palladium and chromium. Mars' large volcanoes mountains themselves might also prove fruitful…Other potential mineral hot spots are the abundant large impact craters on Mars…”

42. SwRI-Organized Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference a Hit http://eon.businesswire.com/portal/site/eon/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20100219005694&newsLang=en The Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) has brought the research and education communities together with suborbital vehicle providers and government funding agencies for the first time. “When we conceived the idea for NSRC last summer, many people were skeptical that such a meeting would generate much interest…“But people voted with their feet and came to NSRC, over 250 of them…featuring more than 80 presentations during nine sessions, NSRC, held in Boulder, Colo., Feb. 18–20, also included a public lecture night for Boulder-Denver residents, a multi-state university student contest and a press conference. NASA also turned out in force, with more than 20 participants…researchers from the U.S. Air Force and the Naval Research Laboratory, as well as six foreign nations attended…”

43. Warp drives for space flight http://news.discovery.com/space/warp-drives-making-the-impossible-possible.html “…advanced propulsion expert Richard Obousy is concerned that citing problems with a theoretical futuristic warp drive is a little shortsighted…a warp drive is a purely theoretical device at this stage, and no evidence exists that indicates that a warp drive could actually be built," Dr. Obousy told Discovery News. "There are, however, some research papers which lay down a mathematical and physical framework for how such a device might function…Dr. Obousy gave Discovery News an exclusive look at his "warpship" concept (a piece of 'sufficiently advanced technology' itself), a spaceship that could generate its own warp "bubble," compressing spacetime in the front of the vehicle and expanding it from the rear…to warp spacetime, the warp drive would need to manipulate the "dark energy" that is theorized to pervade all space…Also, microscopic extra dimensions as predicted by superstring theory would need to exist. Assuming these theories stand the test of time, then perhaps Obousy's warp drive could be a reality in the distant future…”

44. Falcon 9 rocket hoisted upright http://news.discovery.com/space/falcon-rocket-rises.html “…Over the weekend, Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, hoisted its first Falcon 9 rocket at a new launch complex just south of the Kennedy Space Center, where Endeavour touched down…Just four flights remain before NASA retires Endeavour and sister ships Atlantis and Discovery, due to safety concerns and operating costs that eat about $3 billion a year…SpaceX plans to pump fuel through its Falcon 9 booster this week to test the rocket and its Florida launch team…In addition to the Falcon rockets, SpaceX is developing a capsule known as Dragon, which will carry cargo -- and possibly crewmembers -- to the space station…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

45. The Cost to Play: CUDA Programming http://www.linux-mag.com/id/7707 “…With all these options, the one that seems to have the most “buzz” is CUDA. I often wonder about language adoption and I am constantly amazed at how fast CUDA has gained ground in the HPC space…the “buzz” around CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) is more than marketing hype. People are using it for real work, i.e. it is past the curiosity stage. NVidia recently released some statistics related to CUDA usage: 2700+ CUDA-related citations on Google Scholar…800+ CUDA-related videos on YouTube…300+ Universities Teaching the CUDA Parallel Programming Model…I attended the NVidia GPU Technology Conference this past fall and it was full of CUDA programmers attending workshops, building relationships, and learning as much as they could about this new programming method…The rapid uptake of CUDA applications by programmers was no accident. NVidia did an excellent job making CUDA accessible and promoting the toolkit…For those looking to duplicate the success of CUDA, it may be worth considering the following points…”

46. Supercomputer on your desktop http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9154198/The_supercomputer_on_your_desktop High-performance computing (HPC) has almost always required a supercomputer -- one of those room-size monoliths you find at government research labs and universities. And while those systems aren't going away, some of the applications traditionally handled by the biggest of Big Iron are heading to the desktop…processing that took an hour on a standard PC about eight years ago now takes six seconds…Monumental improvements in desktop processing power, graphics processing unit (GPU) performance, network bandwidth and solid-state drive speed combined with 64-bit throughput have made the desktop increasingly viable for large-scale computing projects…”

47. Berkeley discusses progress in parallel programming http://eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=BITM4KVK4EOA3QE1GHPSKHWATMY32JVN?articleID=222900125 Researchers gave an update Thursday (Feb. 11) on their work to find new programming models for tomorrow's many-core processors…Kurt Keutzer, a professor working at Berkeley's Parallel Computing Lab, described more than half a dozen applications researchers have written using a new parallel methodology called Pallas…Using this approach, one team created a program that reduced the time needed to create an MRI image from one hour to one minute. The code is already being used at a local children's hospital. In another example, the approach reduced the time to handle object recognition from 222 seconds on an Intel Nehalem processor to 1.8 seconds on a massively parallel Nvidia GTX 280 chip. Other efforts in areas including speech recognition, option trading and machine learning showed results ranging from 11 to 100-fold performance gains…The Copperhead framework being co-developed with Nvidia is focused on generating fast executable code for data-parallel applications. It will work both with Nvidia's Cuda and the OpenCL environments…”


*****

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