NEW NET Issues List for 16 Mar 2010

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 16 March 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. Expensify: Easy, Paperless Expense Tracking and Reporting http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2010/03/expensify-easy-paperless-expense-tracking-reporting.php “…One of the applications launching in the App Marketplace is Expensify, an online tool for gathering and reporting expenses. Expensify…prides itself on its ability to create detailed and IRS certified expense reports without the need for a single scrap of paper. Users can associate a credit card with their account for automatic tracking of purchases, and Expensify will create electronic versions of the receipt, eliminating the need for paper receipt hoarding. For expenses like hotel and travel reservations…users can email the confirmation to Expensify and the app will generate the data and include a PDF of the email in the report. If you use the wrong card or pay with cash, mobile applications for iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Palm devices allow users to snap a picture of the receipt and send it to Expensify…”

2. Facebook Overtakes Google as Most Popular U.S. Website http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/company-news/facebook-overtakes-google-as-most-popular-u-s-website/19400137/ Facebook has overtaken Google (GOOG) to become the most popular website in the United States for the first time, according to new data from Hitwise, which measures Internet traffic. For the week ending March 13, the social networking juggernaut registered 7.07% market share, beating the search giant's 7.03% market share. "The market share of visits to Facebook.com increased 185% last week as compared to the same week in 2009, while visits to Google.com increased 9% during the same time frame…it's important to put these traffic numbers and charts into context. Google is a giant, $130 billion public company with a fantastically profitable business model that churns out $23 billion in annual sales. Facebook, though huge, is still a start-up in search of a sustainable business model that can justify its current valuation, which is estimated to be anywhere between $8 billion and $15 billion…”

3. 82% Of Users Will Abandon Their Favorite News Site If They Put Up A Paywall http://www.businessinsider.com/pew-82-of-users-will-abandon-their-favorite-news-site-if-they-put-up-a-paywall-2010-3 Project for Excellence in Journalism's annual state of the news industry study has a few depressing stats for the news sites looking to charge online…About 35% of Americans say they have a favorite news site that they check every day…82% of people with favorite news sites said they'd find somewhere else to find their news if they started asking for payments…”

4. ICQ Is Back And It Uses Facebook and Twitter http://www.socialtimes.com/2010/03/icq-is-back-and-it-uses-facebook-and-twitter/ “…ICQ…was one of the first desktop download chat applications and was sold to AOL for $400 million in 1998…it fell off the map after the acquisition, but has since resurfaced as a type of community-based social network that leverages Facebook and Twitter…ICQ has expanded its range to include a community based web page that allows you to log in, view your friends information, chat and customize your profile…the latest version of the desktop ICQ client introduced the ability to integrate your Facebook and Twitter…”

5. Are Amazon Seller Ratings Trustworthy? http://www.makingstrange.net/2010/03/is-amazon-seller-feedback-trustworthy.html Last month I bought a case for my Kindle via a third party retailer on Amazon. When the case arrived it was too small…I contacted the Seller about returning my product, which they told me I could do although I was still responsible for all the shipping costs…I agreed to all their terms and in addition to posting it to the private address, I also sent the Seller a copy of my invoice and of our email correspondence…Three weeks passed and I still hadn't heard back from the Seller nor had I received a refund, but I did receive about three emails from Amazon asking me to log onto their site and review the seller. Frustrated, I logged on and left a negative feedback score (2/5) and a comment along the lines of, "When the case arrived it was too small. The refund process was convoluted and to date (weeks later) I still haven't received my refund." Within hours I had an email from the Seller berating me for leaving negative feedback. Instead of being concerned about a misunderstanding…they complain that I was ruining their business…then gave me instructions about how to remove my negative feedback from Amazon…Shortly after this email exchange, I logged onto my Amazon account to find that my feedback had been removed…I looked into Amazon's Feedback Removal Policy and was confident that my review didn't meet any of their criteria for removal. I also wrongly assumed that they would not remove my feedback without at least notifying me. Also suspect was the message (screenshot above) saying that I had removed the feedback, when I hadn't…I called Amazon and was put through to a very helpful customer service person. After some digging, it was determined that the Amazon department representing Sellers removed my feedback in response to a complaint from the Seller…Amazon feedback removal policy that references product mentions says…if the feedback comment is only partly a product review but ALSO contains feedback about the seller's service…then the feedback would NOT be removed. When I pointed out to Amazon that…their policy clearly allows for this, I was told that they would need to get back to me because the very nice man I was speaking to was unfamiliar with the actual wording of the feedback policy…” [This post does not mean ‘Amazon is bad’ – it just illustrates the ‘customer service world’ we will increasing live in and need to learn to cope with because of the B2C (business to consumer) scale enabled/required by the internet.]

6. Facebook Kicks Off Implementation Of QR Codes http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/16/facebook-qr-code/ “…Facebook appears to have started enabling users to generate custom two-dimensional QR codes. From the looks of the screenshot embedded above, there are two types of QR codes: a personal barcode or a “status QR barcode”. This also seems to appear on Facebook Fan Pages…QR is short for Quick Response (because they can be read quickly by a mobile phone through its camera). They are used to take a piece of information from a transitory media and put it in to your cell phone…QR codes are generally more useful than a standard barcode is that they can store much more data…”

7. FiOS/Verizon vs. Cable/Comcast During a Windstorm http://www.zdziarski.com/blog/?p=639 A nasty windstorm blew through a couple weeks back and decimated the power infrastructure in my town. A large part of the town was out for as much as six days. While most of us New Englanders have generators to take care of the necessities (laptops, WiFi, PS3, etc.), I noticed that many of my fellow generator-powered neighbors were still unreachable via their telephone, and weren’t online. No connection to the outside world…Come to find, they were all on Comcast. A few days into the outage…I began seeing Comcast trucks finally make it onto the scene…placing what appeared to be battery backup units all over town, about a mile or so apart from each other…It took until almost the sixth day for Comcast to bring enough of their repeaters back up to where my neighbors were able to make phone calls. I don’t think their Internet connections came back until even later…the other half of my neighbors (including myself) had Verizon FiOS, and…the rock solid network Verizon built up still managed to stay up…to give us dial tone and full throughput on our high speed Internet connections – something that’s not only critical for emergencies, but can also keep you from going downright mad when stuck on a generator for six days…you need to understand the differences in the technology…Comcast…uses coax cable for their network. Coax holds signal very poorly, and requires a repeater – or amplifier – every kilometer (about 0.62 miles)…Some cable companies use fiber converter boxes to convert the coax to fiber for the long haul back – but this too requires power. Verizon’s FiOS network, on the other hand, uses fiber optic directly to the home, which carries beams of light shot by tiny lasers between your home and the CO. Fiber optic can carry light as far as 100 miles without needing a repeater, so as long as the physical network is intact, your dial-tone and your Internet access can make it back to Verizon’s infrastructure. FiOS only requires that the battery in your FiOS panel works, or that you have a generator, and that somebody’s listening 100 miles away…”

8. Over half your news is spin http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/15/over-half-your-news-is-spin/ Today Crikey launches an investigation six months in the making. Spinning the Media is an investigation in conjunction with the University of Technology (UTS) Sydney into the role PR plays in making the media…after analysing a five-day working week in the media, across 10 hard-copy papers, ACIJ and Crikey found that nearly 55% of stories analysed were driven by some form of public relations…the number of people who go to communications school and go into PR over the years has increased and the number in journalism has shrunk even more dramatically.”…as Bacon and Pavey write today: Our investigation strongly confirms that journalism in Australia today is heavily influenced by commercial interests selling a product, and constrained and blocked by politicians, police and others who control the media message…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

9. Cyberattacks explode in Congress http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0310/33987.html Congress and other government agencies are under a cyber attack an average of 1.8 billion times a month…that has been growing exponentially since President Barack Obama took office. In 2008, security events caused by vectors including worms, Trojan horses and spybots averaged 8 million hits per month. That number skyrocketed to 1.6 billion in 2009 and climbed to 1.8 billion this year…The Senate Security Operations Center alone receives 13.9 million of those attempts per day. “We operate in an escalating attack environment in which threats to our information infrastructure are increasing in both frequency and sophistication,” Gainer wrote in testimony submitted to a Senate Appropriations subcommittee last night…The vast majority of the attacks have been stopped by the network’s automated system defenses, but…Attacks are increasingly focused on infiltrating application software on Hill staffer computers…”

10. 8000 iPhone and Android users in smartphone botnet http://www.sophos.com/blogs/gc/g/2010/03/09/8000-iphone-android-users-duped-joining-smartphone-botnet/ “…researchers at TippingPoint's Digital Vaccine Group have duped thousands of iPhone and Android smartphone users into joining a mobile botnet by spreading a seemingly innocuous weather application…Derek Brown and Daniel Tijerina revealed at the RSA Conference last week how they had created a smartphone application called WeatherFist which grabbed information from users, including their GPS co-ordinates and telephone numbers, before displaying local weather information. Tijerina and Brown chose not to distribute their application via the official iPhone and Android application stores…Instead they distributed the WeatherFist application via third party app markets like Cydia, SlideME and Modmyi, meaning that it could only be installed on jailbroken iPhones or Android devices where users had specifically given permission for non-approved applications to be run…”

11. Cyber-criminals don't need technical skills http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/03/13/BU6J1CEPK6.DTL “…Once the exclusive realm of highly technical geeks, the doors to the dark world of cybercrime have cracked wide open to individuals with basic computer skills thanks to easy-to-use software that experts say have become widely available in the last three or four years and made hacking as simple as clicking on a checkbox. Almost anyone can operate a botnet through simple commands on self-explanatory, Web-based programs. As a result, the number of amateur botmasters is on the rise. Correll said Panda Security identified 25 million pieces of malicious code last year - compared with 15 million samples detected in the previous 19 years. Sixty-six percent of last year's malware were data-stealing programs, most of which were produced with do-it-yourself hacking kits…”

12. Digital Activism in China http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/weiwei_event_roundup.php “…the Paley Center hosted a discussion about social media and digital activism with…Ai Weiwei, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and…Richard MacManus. The discussion touched upon a large variety of topics related to social media and digital activism in China…The conversation was moderated by Emily Parker, the Arthur Ross Fellow at the Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations, who is currently working on a book about China and the Internet…Ai Weiwei's name, for example, can never be used on these sites without getting censored…Ai Weiwei noted that services like Twitter and blogs are easy to use, but once he got too popular, his blog was quickly shut down…With regards to how Twitter is being used in China, Ai Weiwei noted that the most active Twitter users in China often use the service for political and philosophical discussions…Ai Weiwei told Dorsey that the "Chinese people think you are some kind of God" because Twitter allows people to express themselves without worrying about censorship…Dorsey said that Twitter - as a company - is focused on opening information as completely as possible and wants to ensure that everybody can participate in the conversations on the service. Twitter…was founded around the principles of immediacy and transparency…Dorsey said that Twitter is just a tool and that it can't change any governments itself, but that it is the users who can use it to change governments…One day, Ai Weiwei noted…we won't need tools like Twitter to change our governments…”

13. 60% of virtual servers less secure than physical machines http://www.networkworld.com/news/2010/031510-virtual-server-security.html Sixty percent of virtual servers are less secure than the physical servers they replace, the analyst firm Gartner said…Gartner identified…security risks associated with virtualization deployments. First on the list is that 40% of virtualization projects are undertaken without information security professionals in the initial planning stages…a threat to the virtualization layer can harm all hosted workloads. The hypervisor, as a new platform, contains new vulnerabilities including ones that have not yet been discovered…Network-based security devices are blind to communications between virtual machines within a single host…virtualization technologies do not provide adequate control of administrative access to the hypervisor and virtual machine layer…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

14. AT&T's network up to SXSW iPhone onslaught http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-20000406-52.html For anyone with an iPhone at last year's South by Southwest Interactive Festival here, the memories of slow, or nonexistent, coverage on AT&T's network are something that will likely last for some time. After all, at a gathering of thousands of Internet- and communications-dependent geeks, many of whom were toting Apple's hit smartphone, staying connected, both by phone and over the Internet, wasn't important; it was crucial. In the wake of that debacle, AT&T had promised that it would do better at this year's SXSWi,…now, with as many as 15,000 SXSW attendees, plus many more who are here for the accompanying film festival, and iPhones everywhere you can see, it does appear that AT&T has delivered. "It seems really good," said Marc LaSpina, a Web architect from Cleveland. "I haven't had any problems with it."…"It's going pretty well," Gumanow said, adding that AT&T's 3G service was performing better for him than the conference-provided Wi-Fi network…Nate Parsons, a technology consultant from Washington, D.C., also reported no problems. He recalled that at last year's SXSW, the iPhone "was pretty much unusable as a phone," and that it had been "sort of a communications blackout on AT&T." But this year, he said, "it seems like they've really fixed it."…"First of all, we're monitoring the network 24/7 in Austin…installing a new distributed antenna in the Austin Convention Center in order to boost capacity; expanding the capacity of the network by using 850MHz spectrum…for providing in-building service; deploying two cell sites on wheels (COWs) at the convention center and another one in Austin; and improving and augmenting the backhaul capacity to the sites that support the convention center…”

15. MS Marketplace will be the only way to get apps on Windows Phone 7 Series http://www.engadget.com/2010/03/15/confirmed-marketplace-will-be-the-only-way-to-get-apps-on-windo/ “…Microsoft's Todd Biggs…dropped a little bombshell on us: the only official way to get apps on a Windows Phone 7 Series device will be to download them from the just-detailed Windows Phone Marketplace. That means developers will have to abide by Microsoft's technical and content guidelines in order to make it in, with the very real possibility of rejection -- sound familiar? Todd told us Microsoft plans to avoid Apple-style submission headaches by making the process transparent and predictable…”

16. Black Swan is ready: Google Voice returns to iPhone via slick weblication http://www.gadgetell.com/tech/comment/google-voice-on-iphone-again-in-weblication-riverturn-opens-black-swan-up/ What the heck is a “weblication?” The answer is in Riverturn’s new Google Voice web application that looks more like a native app, in fact, it fooled everyone I showed it to. The new app brings the Google Voice experience to your iPhone, allowing you to place calls, send and recieve SMS, and even browse recent calls…Riverturn did it by working around the App Store and its oft illogical approval process…The app is actually running in Safari, but most users won’t realize it (I had to keep reminding myself). Voice Central, Riverturns name for the service, has the look of a great app but, according to Riverturn, runs faster thanks to the data running through their servers. Finger swiping delete calls, little icons on the bottom provide good-looking navigation, to contact details with the stock wallpaper background, Riverturn managed to make the Google Voice web app look like child’s play next to Voice Central Black Swan. User[s] simply navigate to the Riverturn website and the weblication loads in and users add the link to the home screen…”

17. Alex eReader now on sale in the U.S. for $399 a pop, starts shipping mid-April http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/03/16/alex-ereader-now-on-sale-in-the-u-s-for-399-a-pop-starts-shipping-mid-april/ Spring Design…dual screen Alex eReader will be available online today…for $399…the Android-based multimedia e-reader…supports eBooks in EPUB, PDF, HTML and TXT formats…Alex eReader features a 6″ EPD screen and a full color 3.5″…touchscreen LCD. The device supports full Web browsing over WiFi, allowing users to surf the Web, watch videos and communicate with online contacts while simultaneously reading and downloading books. Users can also use a number Google Android applications. Alex connects to Google’s bookstore with over one million titles, and other book stores that support Adobe DRM…Alex eReader weighs 11 ounces and measures 4.7″ by 8.9″ and less than a half inch deep. Users may add their own content or download content to the microSD card…up to 32GB. The Alex may be updated over WiFi and USB 2.0…”

18. Like iPhone, Windows Phone 7 Won’t Fully Multitask http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/03/windows-phone-7-multitasking/ Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series shares one trait in common with Apple’s iPhone: It doesn’t support full multitasking. While the iPhone does allow some limited multitasking…critics have knocked the iPhone for its inability to run third-party apps in the background. If you want to write an e-mail while listening to music in the Pandora app…you must first quit Pandora…For Windows Phone 7 Series…The OS can process Microsoft’s core integrated experiences, such as music and phone calls, in the background, but third-party apps cannot run in the background…That’s in marked contrast to Google’s Android and Palm’s WebOS, both of which support extensive multitasking…”

19. Windows Phone 7 will not support user-replaceable memory cards http://wmpoweruser.com/?p=14331 “…Microsoft has said Windows Phone 7 will not support memory cards, unless these are not user replaceable…Microsoft will work with OEMs to make sure that phones have enough storage for media and 3D games, but there will be no MicroSD cards for music. Some phones could have a MicroSD locked under the battery, but it won’t be user-replaceable. Microsoft needed to exercise some control to provide a great set of consumer experiences, Kindel said…”

20. Google Brings Nexus One To AT&T, Rogers Wireless http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/open_source/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=223900124 The search company says that it's pleased with sales of the device, even as critics declare the Nexus One a failure…Google on Tuesday added a version of the Nexus One that works with AT&T's 3G network in the U.S. and with Rogers Wireless in Canada to its online store…Google's Nexus One "Super Phone" hasn't broken or even bent any sales records. The Nexus One has sold about 135,000 units in the past 74 days, according to Flurry, a mobile analytics company…That's about eight times less than the number of Verizon Droid or Apple iPhone device sold during the initial 74 day sales periods of those devices …”

Open Source

21. Mario Goes Open-Source with Arduino http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2361357,00.asp The open-source Arduino electronics platform has received a ton of attention from the hardware enthusiast community. And one more follower is joining the fray--Mario himself. The mustachioed plumber of console video game fame has been converted into an eight-by-eight LED matrix by Carnegie Mellon University student Chloe Fan…The game isn't quite the Mario you know from your legacy Nintendo Entertainment System (or current-generation Wii). For starters, it's just lights: While one often sees the game's LED-backed grid used in devices like the open-source Monome…Obviously, certain elements are missing from this stripped-down version of the famous platform-scroller. Unlike Nintendo's version, there aren't any objects to interact with, nor can you really do anything save for make a little light move from platform to platform. If you scroll forward too quickly and accidentally bump Mario off the screen, the level automatically restarts--a harsh punishment for those who don't quite master the separate jumping and forwarding routines…it's a unique combination of open-source hardware and software development that's recreated a classic element from video game culture on relatively simple, inexpensive equipment. Ardiuno is a free, open-source electronics platform that comes with a full set of schematics for assembly (and subsequent tweaking) of a hardware microcontroller. Lazier developers can purchase pre-configured Ardiuno boards from a variety of sources, and the specific C/C++ coding environment--Ardiuno's language--is configurable via open-source software across a variety of operating systems. Launched in 2005, Ardiuno has served as the backbone for a number of other unique projects across the Web…”

22. Mozilla borrows from WebKit to build fast new JS engine http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2010/03/mozilla-borrows-from-webkit-to-build-fast-new-js-engine.ars Mozilla's high-performance TraceMonkey JavaScript engine, which was first introduced in 2008, has lost a lot of its luster as competing browser vendors have stepped up their game to deliver superior performance. Firefox now lags behind Safari, Chrome, and Opera in common JavaScript benchmarks…Mozilla is building a new JavaScript engine called JägerMonkey. The secret sauce that will drive Mozilla's new JavaScript engine engine into the fast lane is some code borrowed from Apple's WebKit project. Mozilla intends to bring together the powerful optimization techniques of TraceMonkey and the extremely efficient native code generator of Apple's JSCore engine…”

23. Hedge fund offers $1.8 billion for Novell http://news.cnet.com/8301-31021_3-10462638-260.html Elliott Associates has offered to acquire software maker Novell. The acquisition offer…is valued at $1.8 billion, or $5.75 per share. Elliott Associates already owns 8.5 percent of Novell's shares…The hedge fund says its experience in restructuring and acquisitions will "deliver maximum value to shareholders." Novell confirmed that its board had received the letter and "anticipates that its Board of Directors will review Elliott's proposal in consultation with its financial and legal advisors…”


24. Fast New Gmail Windows http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/fast-new-windows.html “…Frequently, I find that I need to find an old message while I'm composing an email. When this happens, I click on the "new window" icon to pop my compose area into its own window…There are a number of places you can pop up new windows in Gmail…When writing a message, hold the "Shift" key while you click on the Compose Mail, Reply, Reply All or Forward links and you'll get a new window…Holding the "Shift" key while typing the keyboard shortcut — in other words typing "C" "R" or "F"…When you're reading your mail, hold the "Shift" key while you click on a message to open the conversation in a new window…If you're reading an email and want to save it for later, you can click the "New window" link in the upper-right hand corner of the conversation view…”

25. Google Product Search Prepares For Mobile Shopping Boom http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Search-Engines/Google-Product-Search-Prepares-For-Mobile-Shopping-Boom-194502/ Google…rolled out a feature for its Google Product Search for mobile application that lets shoppers see whether stores like Best Buy and Sears have products in stock at nearby locations. Google Product Search for mobile with local inventory lets people use their mobile phones to search and find products sold by Best Buy, Williams-Sonoma, West Elm, Sears Pottery Barn or other participating retailers. Users of Google Android, Palm WebOS or Apple iPhone services who have enabled the My Location feature can look for the blue dots in the search results…If there is a blue dot associated with a product, users can tap the "In stock nearby" link to go to the seller's page. This will tell users whether the product is "in stock" nearby…Google Product Search for Mobile with local inventory is a smart way to connect users to local businesses, which should bring more businesses into the Google Local Business Center and ultimately more advertising for the search engine…Market researcher Compete found that 36 percent of consumers said they would like to receive mobile grocery coupons…29 percent said they want cellphone apps that scan product barcodes for an offer or discount, and 26 percent want offers they can pursue at their leisure, as well as coupons from movie theaters…”

26. Google admits Buzz mistakes, tries again at SXSW http://venturebeat.com/2010/03/14/google-admits-buzz-mistakes-tries-again-at-sxsw/ A product manager from Google told attendees at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas that Google had misstepped by launching its social network, Google Buzz, too broadly and too promiscuously. In the future, said Google’s Todd Jackson, the company will pre-test new features rather than roll them out to all customers at once…Danah Boyd, a social media researcher with Microsoft, complained that Gmail had been “one of the most private systems imaginable” until Google Buzz outed who was emailing who. “There’s a big difference between publicly available data and publicized data,” she said. “I worry about this publication process, and who will be caught in the crossfire”…Privacy experts have made the same observation about Facebook, which shifted a few months ago from keeping all its users’ information out of Google’s search engine, to publishing members’ profile data without their express permission…”

27. Google Fiber Is No Laughing Matter http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/03/al-franken-jokes-but-google-fiber-is-no-laughing-matter/ “…U.S. Senator Al Franken has been enlisted to lobby Google in a bid by two midwestern cities to get free upgrades to gigabit internet connections. Comedy from the funniest man in Congress may give the towns of Duluth and Superior an edge in the increasingly clownish bids by municipalities across the country…In his video Franken joins the ranks of the fake mayor of Duluth, the real mayor of Duluth, and the towns of Topeka, Kansas and Sarasota, Florida (temporarily renamed “Google” and “Google Island” respectively) in trying to curry Google’s favor…The competition for a ground-breaking Google experience is stiff — but so is much of the attempted humor by the above municipalities. Meanwhile Madison, Wisconsin, 16 towns in Utah, Huntsville, Alabama, and hundreds of other cities and towns are vying for Google’s attention more soberly, but have failed to attract the widespread attention that the pranks have. So Minnesota is wise to bring out the big gun that is Franken, late of Saturday Night Live…Given the sour state of the economy, which offers little cause for mirth, any American town or city that suddenly sees its broadband speeds increase 10,000 percent as a result of being connected to Google’s infrastructure will instantly become more attractive to spendy technophiles, start-up employers, telecommuters with jobs on the coasts and the latest flock of college graduates…” http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/162880/ “…more than 50 people who turned out Saturday to audition for the “Twin Ports Google Movie,” few wanted to be the Cirrus executive…Filming for the 20- to 30-minute film will culminate with a rally from 2-4 p.m. Saturday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. It’s all to woo Google to choose Duluth-Superior for its super high-speed fiber-optic service…”

28. Web guru Tim Bray takes Google Android job http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20000423-264.html Tim Bray--co-inventor of XML, notable tech blogger, and until recently a Sun Microsystems employee--has joined Google's Android team in part to show the world what he thinks is wrong with Apple's iPhone…In a blog post titled "Now A No-Evil Zone," Bray said Monday he's in philosophical alignment with Google in general and in opposition to Apple's iPhone specifically. "The reason I'm here is mostly Android. Which seems to me about as unambiguously a good thing as the tangled wrinkly human texture of the Net can sustain just now,"…Bray offers the following tirade against Apple's ways: The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet's future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It's a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord's pleasure and fear his anger. I hate it. I hate it even though the iPhone hardware and software are great, because freedom's not just another word for anything, nor is it an optional ingredient…he said he recognized the time for absolutes is over for Google. “It's now too big to be purely good or in fact purely anything. I'm sure that tendrils of stupidity and evil are even now finding interstitial breeding grounds whence they will emerge to cause grief…” [http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/201x/2010/03/15/Joining-Google ]

General Technology

29. Student robot competition in Milwaukee http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/87422377.html Kayla Willis worked with all of the speed, focus and precision of a professional pit crew mechanic, tightening the bolts and testing the suspension of the machine under her tender care…With tools clanging, music blaring and a dozen conversations chattering nearby, the senior from Rufus King High School and two other sets of busy hands simultaneously worked to finish assembling the robot, which was to compete with dozens of others in the FIRST Robotics Wisconsin regional tournament Friday and Saturday at the U.S. Cellular Arena…it also was a chance for students to check out the competition, meet up with friends from other teams and lend a hand - or spare part - if possible. "That's the atmosphere," Willis said, praising the spirit of competition but also cooperation. "Other teams help each other. It's like one big family getting together. It's basically students in action....It's also an excellent learning opportunity."…FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology - is a nonprofit group that promotes careers in science, technology and engineering to young people. Each robotics team received a set of parts; some pieces they were required to use, while others were optional…Dakota Caldwell, a sophomore at Washington High School and co-captain of team #1268, watched over his techs as they worked on their robot's quirky compressor…Caldwell said he joined the robotics team a year ago because he's loved tinkering since he was a young child…Caldwell and others said the FIRST competition let them build and design, but also showed them real-world uses for software programming, math, physics and other sciences…”

30. Eight Innovations That Could Change the Way We Manufacture http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=15243.php “…Society of Manufacturing Engineers…goal was to scan the vast technology landscape for cutting-edge innovations and to investigate ways they can be utilized…Printed RFID Tags…Nanoporous Silicon Electrodes…High-Temperature, High-Power Microelectronics…Nanotube Inks…Nano Fibers…Self-Healing Agents…Phase-Changing Polymers…Bio-Based Products and Materials…” [http://www.sme.org/cgi-bin/getsmepg.pl?/html/technologies_change.htm&&SME& ]

31. New OpenGL 4.0 aims to match DirectX 11 http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20000277-264.html Aiming to keep pace with Microsoft and advance the computing frontier, the group behind OpenGL has announced a new version of its interface designed to make advanced graphics easier for programmers to handle. OpenGL 4.0 adds more support for using a graphics processing unit (GPU) for other computing chores and for tesselation, which subdivides a region on a graphics object into many smaller patches for more detailed imagery. The technology got its start as a graphics library at pioneering Silicon Graphics…"OpenGL 4.0 exposes the same level of capability of GPUs as DirectX 11…”

32. Wearable computing expert now Apple "prototype scientist" http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/03/wearable-computing-expert-now-apple-prototype-scientist.ars Apple has hired an expert in "human-computer interaction for mobile applications" to complement its research and development in mobile computing…Richard DeVaul, known for his work in the field of "wearable computing," is Apple's newest senior prototype scientist. DeVaul originally studied architecture, anthropology, and physics at Texas A&M before working on a masters degree in visualization science. Before finishing his masters thesis on "novel dynamics constraints approximation algorithm for computer animation applications," DeVaul left Texas A&M to pursue an MS and later PhD degree in Media Arts and Sciences at MIT…he also worked as a research scientist at MIT's famous Media Lab. DeVaul's PhD dissertation revolved around a project called "Memory Glasses," which were designed to provide the wearer with context-sensitve cues to assist in memory recall. Much of the research focused on determining how to determine context, including using GPS location and accelerometer data—something that Apple's mobile devices can already provide…After DeVaul finished his PhD, he spent the last six years working as the CTO and president of AWare Technologies, which he also co-founded. AWare originally focused on mobile monitoring technologies for athletic and military applications, as well as motion analysis for Olympic teams…”

33. Printed buildings [not providing a link because it appears the source website was injected with malware] “…In a small shed on an industrial park near Pisa is a machine that can print buildings…Driven by CAD software installed on a dust-covered computer terminal, the armature moves just millimetres above a pile of sand, expressing a magnesium-based solution from hundreds of nozzles on its lower side. It makes four passes. The layer dries and Enrico Dini recalibrates the armature frame. The system deposits the sand and then inorganic binding ink. The exercise is repeated. The millennia-long process of laying down sedimentary rock is accelerated into a day…This machine could be used to construct anything. Dini wants to build a cathedral with it. Or houses on the moon. Dini’s machine marks a vital step change from the shoebox-size 3D printing of today, to tomorrow’s ability to print complete structures on site. Although others have been working hard on the prototype, Dini’s machine is ahead of the pack…The conceptual leap from modelling to manufacture may seem small, but making it has taken seven years of Dini’s personal endeavour in the face of bankruptcy…”

34. Tech Networking Dinner Party http://blog.bumblebeelabs.com/my-hn-dinner-party-3/ “…32 people, 7 courses & 7 hours to shop, drive, prepare & cook, just another one of those easy, casual weekend dinners. I’ve made it somewhat of a specialty of mine to do very large scale parties within very restrictive time limits…I also started enjoying improvised dinners like the one’s I’m doing down in the Bay Area. I would arrive deliberately with no idea what I was going to make, plan a menu while shopping and then cook in a foreign kitchen before serving to horde of hungry diners…A lot of people are curious about the logistics of scaling up a dinner party and I think it has a lot of similarities to scaling up a startup. I’m going to spill a lot of secrets here that I’ve never revealed in public before…”

Leisure & Entertainment

35. Daniel Suarez: interview with the author of Daemon http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/5173318/Daniel-Suarez-interview-with-the-author-of-Daemon.html “…Daniel Suarez..novel, Daemon…centres around Matthew Sobol, a gifted online game designer who dies from brain cancer. But he doesn’t simply leave behind his impressive body of work; rather, he writes one last script, a program that sparks to life when his obituary is published on the web. The program, known as a daemon, then proceeds to propagate across the internet, burrowing deep in to systems and machines, unchecked and seemingly unstoppable…Suarez, a systems analyst and software developer living in California, has become increasingly uncomfortable with what he sees as the growing homogeny of our computer systems and infrastructures…Suarez first started penning the novel in 2002, and when he finished the book two years later, set about finding an agent and publisher. “Most said it was too long for a first novel,” he recalls…So Suarez did what any self-respecting geek would do, and turned to the internet for a solution. He decided to self-publish the book through Lightning Source…He used the web to mount a word of mouth marketing campaign…The epiphany for Suarez came in the late 1990s when he was writing a program called Weather Master, which created weather patterns for fictional worlds. He sold the program online…Payments were automatically swept in to an account, which Suarez left unchecked for several months…I realised – if I kicked the bucket, this thing would keep going, all automated…Efficiency, says Suarez, is all well and good, but there’s a fundamental need to balance it with a robustness and resilience that means society can benefit from the interoperability of systems without ever becoming entirely reliant on a single set-up…We’re seeing the start of this already,” he says. “Some businesses are using open source software, like Linux, and different flavours of it at that. If we have lots of different operating systems, then our infrastructure has a better chance of surviving new threats from malware and viruses.”…Experts have long feared the internet doomsday scenario; Daemon is arguably more terrifying,” says…William O’Brien, a director of cybersecurity at the White House…Daemon provides a revealing and at times frightening insight into our impotence in the face of technology we can neither control nor understand…” [ http://tins.rklau.com/2009/01/daemon-is-about-to-be-bestseller.html Daemon’s sequel, Freedom, was released in 2010 – if you enjoy technology, read both of them, in order]

36. Brian Fargo returns from exile with Hunted: the Demon’s Forge http://games.venturebeat.com/2010/03/15/brian-fargo-returns-from-exile-with-hunted-the-demons-forge/ “…Fargo is announcing Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, which he calls the “re-imagining of the classic dungeon crawl.” The game uses high-end graphics and lets players explore a dungeon cooperatively, playing alternatively a big brawling swordsman or an elf-like archer woman. “The idea is to get lost in a classic dungeon world built with the latest graphics technology,”…Fargo…published classic fantasy games such as The Bard’s Tale and Wasteland…inXile has built itself up into a big studio. It has worked on smaller titles such as web and iPhone games to get a feel for the new age of gaming…with Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, inXile hopes to establish itself as a major player in the third-person action-adventure role-playing game space. The game uses the Unreal 3 engine for its graphics and has high-end game features such as physics, dynamic lighting and movie-like cut scenes…The elf woman, E’Lara, says the “air is thick with death” as they enter the town…E’Lara shoots arrows and casts spells from afar, while her colleague Caddoc closes in for melee. One of the characters is controlled by the player, while the other is controlled by the computer. You can switch between them in between levels. And you can play cooperatively online if you want…” [ http://www.co-optimus.com/article/3596/Hunted__The_Demons_Forge_is_Co-Op_At_a_Distance.html ]

37. Demolition City http://www.addictinggames.com/demolitioncity.html Try it, you’ll like it…

38. Fandango Begins Rolling Out Mobile Tickets That Let Moviegoers Go Paperless http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/15/fandango-mobile-tickets/ “…With so many mobile phone movie apps, it’s easy to find what’s playing at nearby theaters and even purchase tickets right from your mobile phone, but then you still have to get a paper ticket from the dispenser or the ticket agent…Today, Fandango is launching a mobile ticket program in eight cities which lets moviegoers finally go paperless. Your ticket is delivered to your mobile phone via an SMS or MMS message linked to a 2D barcode, which the ticket-takers can scan…”

39. Refenes' & Saltsman's Baffling $350 App Store Success http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=27628 “…indie developer Tommy Refenes…has philosophical objections to Apple's mobile digital distribution platform…The App Store "is the Tiger handheld game of this generation"…like low-quality LCD-based handheld games, the true successes of the App Store seem to be translations of established franchises and brand names that present severely downgraded versions of their original experiences…seven of the eight best-selling App Store games last year were mobile versions of existing major game franchises."It's just a way to sell a brand," Refenes said. "That's what the Tiger handheld games were, and that's what I think the App Store is…Along with fellow prolific indie developer Adam Saltsman…Refenes developed a "joke game" for iPhone titled Zits & Giggles, consisting mainly of popping virtual pimples…Zits & Giggles launched at $0.99. Sales were never remarkable, and they eventually tapered off entirely. But rather than pursue a traditional marketing strategy like offering the game for f ree for a limited time, Refenes did just the opposite: he raised the price to $15, exorbitant by iPhone standards. Shockingly, "the day I put it up to $15, three people bought it…So," he continued, "I said, 'I'm going to put it up to $50.' Four people bought it." After observing that fortuitous trend, Refenes decided to test its resilience by boosting the game's selling price every time at least one copy was sold. "I stopped paying attention to it for a while," he recalled, then "I checked it on Valentine's Day, and 14 people bought it at $299." The game has now reached a price tag of $350…”

Economy and Technology

40. Kwedit Reveals Repayment Rate Already At 26% http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/12/amidst-controversy-storm-kwedit-reveals-repayment-rate-already-at-26/ Kwedit, the innovative and suddenly controversial payments platform for virtual goods, is releasing some early data. The service lets users promise to pay later in lieu of a direct credit card payment when they want virtual currency for social games like Farmville. It’s not a legally binding promise…When the product first launched they had no idea what percentage of promises would be repaid. Anything at all is incremental revenue to game publishers, and since the stuff they’re selling has no marginal cost (virtual currency), it’s all upside. But after nearly two months of being live, they say the repayment rate is 25.9%...for game publishers, that’s a staggeringly attractive monetization option…right now game publishers are only able to get cash out of 1-3% of users. If they can get another few percent to pay via Kwedit, and 25% of that money is actually paid, revenue from games can double or more…”

41. Netflix settles privacy lawsuit, cancels $1 million contest http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/03/netflix-ditches-1-million-contest-in-wake-of-privacy-suit.ars Netflix has canceled its $1 million contest aimed at finding a better recommendation engine in the wake of a privacy lawsuit settlement…Netflix first announced the contest—actually the sequel to its original contest—in August of 2009. The goal was to crowdsource its active user base to write a more intelligent recommendation engine based on users' past rentals…the company wanted to find the Next Big Thing™ by offering $1 million to the person with the best algorithm…the contest involved Netflix disclosing what it considered to be anonymized user data to those trying to come up with solutions. This, however, led to a lawsuit by a closeted lesbian mother who argued that Netflix had not sufficiently anonymized the information…within weeks of the data being released, researchers had found a way to use an external data source to decode an individual's viewing history with surprising accuracy…”

42. Ning CEO Bianchini steps down to become EIR at Andreessen Horowitz http://digital.venturebeat.com/2010/03/15/ning-gina-bianchini/ Ning CEO and co-founder Gina Bianchini is leaving the build-your-own-social-network startup to become an executive-in-residence…Andreessen announced the move in a blog post today: My fellow co-founder and Ning CEO Gina Bianchini has decided to step down after five and a half years of hard and terrific work…I’d like to celebrate this moment by enthusiastically congratulating Gina…Ning today is one of the world’s top social networking properties, with more than 2.3 million user-created Ning Networks and more than 45 million registered users, and is far and away the market leading social platform for interests and passions…”

43. The extortionists at Yelp http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/philg/2010/03/15/the-extortionists-at-yelp/ When I told a friend about East Coast Aero Club’s experience with Yelp, he pointed me to “Yelp Accused of Extortion” in WIRED magazine. Our story: We asked our customers to register with Yelp and post reviews of our airplane and helicopter flight school. About 15 of them did so and the Yelp page was filled with positive reviews. A few days later, however, we looked and 11 of them had been removed. Now it is down to just 2 reviews. Another friend said “Just wait; they are going to call you up soon and ask you to pay them a monthly fee. Then they will restore the positive reviews. Companies with a lot of negative reviews get the same call; if they pay a fee the negative reviews are removed.” [At first I thought that, because the reviews were entered over just a few days, Yelp might have legitimately thought that they were spam. But then I reflected that they were all from legitimate and diverse email address, from diverse IP addresses (though probably nearly all in the Boston area), and pretty clearly from different pens. A human reviewer would not have concluded that these were spam…I got an email from a reader, who happens also to be a Yelp employee. He says that the allegations are unfounded and that whether or not reviews appear is purely algorithmic, with the main goal of the algorithm being to fight spam. He…obliquely confirmed my suspicion that the algorithm might suppress reviews from people who register, post one review, and leave. The goal of Yelp is to have a genuine community in which people return to the site regularly…”

Civilian Aerospace

44. ‘Barnstorming era’ of space exploration is approaching http://www.examiner.com/x-37614-Austin-Market-Examiner~y2010m3d11-Richard-Garriott-Barnstorming-era-of-space-exploration-is-approaching Gaming pioneer Richard Garriott of Austin, who paid $30 million to travel to the International Space Station in 2008, says that within three to five years, the “barnstorming era of space will absolutely captivate the public’s interest.” A documentary about Garriott’s space adventure, “Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission,” will premiere at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival…he expects space to attract more notice as private industry ramps up space-travel options, and as NASA phases out the shuttle program and begins focusing more on potential missions to the moon and Mars…Garriott said he would live on the moon or Mars “in a heartbeat.” As for future space travel, he said: “I can’t tell you exactly on what vehicle and what date yet, but I have no doubt I will return to space, most likely multiple times…”

45. European participants in 520-day simulated mission to Mars http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMBEV9KF6G_index_0.html “…The Mars500 experiment…ESA-selected Europeans, Belgian Jerome Clevers, Arc’hanmael Gaillard and Romain Charles from France and Colombian-Italian Diego Urbina, started the mission training at the end of February with the other crew-members at the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow. Two of these four candidates will be selected as European participants in Mars500. This first full-duration simulated mission to Mars will start in a special human habitat at IBMP in Moscow next summer…blueprint for a possible human Mars mission in the future using conventional propulsion: 250 days for the trip to Mars, 30 days on the martian surface and 240 days for the return journey, totalling 520 days…the big question on a long mission to Mars is the human factor: how best to select and prepare humans to mentally and physically endure a spaceflight of at least one and half years – possibly much longer – in a closed environment…”

46. New Suborbital Spaceships Spark Scientific Frenzy http://www.space.com/news/suborbital-spaceships-science-opportunity-100312.html Anticipation is on the rise for a new crop of commercial suborbital spaceships that can serve the scientific and educational market. These reusable rocket-propelled vessels are expected to offer quick, routine and affordable access to the edge of space, along with the capability to carry research and educational crew members…250 scientists, educators and the makers of suborbital rocket vehicles met last month in Boulder, Colorado to discuss the tantalizing science opportunities offered when suborbital trips are routine during the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference…Suborbital flights up to 62 miles (100 km) above Earth could serve numbers of disciplines, such as astronomy, the life sciences, microgravity physics…the space agency is seeking Congressional approval in their fiscal year 2011 budget for $75 million in planned funding over five years for NASA's Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research (CRuSR) program…Miller said the backing by NASA's CRuSR program is akin to the government becoming an anchor tenant customer for air mail delivery in the 1920s…Yet to be demonstrated is the hoped-for flight rates of suborbital vehicles. Quick turnaround of these craft is central to realizing the profit-making potential of over-and-over sojourns by piloted and unpiloted vessels…Risk is not new to scientists and educators," Stern added. "Scientists risk their lives going to the bottom of the ocean, to the tops of mountains, to the poles of the Earth. Scientists have lost their lives in space exploration, as have educators…NASA should continue to monitor commercial suborbital space developments. Whereas the commercial developers stated to the committee that they do not need NASA funding to meet their business objectives, this entrepreneurial approach offers the potential for a range of opportunities for low-cost quick-access to space that may benefit NASA as well as other federal agencies…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

47. GP-GPUs: OpenCL Is Ready For The Heavy Lifting http://www.linux-mag.com/id/7725/ “…In this column I want to talk about the other GPU language: OpenCL. Before I launch into OpenCL background, I want make a prediction. I believe OpenCL will gain acceptance in much the same way nVidia CUDA has. Like CUDA, OpenCL has a freely available SDK (Software Development Kit), is based on the C language, and can be explored using low cost video hardware. OpenCL brings two other features to the table, however. These are open standard compliance and support for data-parallelism (GP-GPU) and task-parallelism (CPU) methods. I’ll take a closer look at these below…”

48. NVIDIA Tesla GPUs Help TechniScan Deliver Timely Breast Imaging Diagnostics http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/nvidia-tesla-gpus-help-techniscan-deliver-timely-breast-imaging-diagnostics-87326822.html “…TechniScan's Warm Bath Ultrasound…system utilizes NVIDIA Tesla GPUs to compute its complex algorithms used in creating 3 dimensional images of the breast. "Waiting for medical results of diagnostic breast imaging is very stressful for women. The anxiety and stress can play havoc both mentally and physically," said David Robinson, chief executive officer at TechniScan. "NVIDIA Tesla GPUs have reduced the time it takes to process our data from 4.5 hours to less than 20 minutes." As a result, women can get the results of their imaging while they are still at the hospital or clinic along with a review from their radiologist…”

49. Otoy says supercomputer will enable revolutionary games-on-demand service http://games.venturebeat.com/2010/03/10/otoy-announces-supercomputer-will-enable-revolutionary-games-on-demand-service/ “…While Steve Perlman’s OnLive has revealed concrete plans to launch its service today, another rival, Otoy, is revealing today that its video compression technology will be the foundation of a new kind of supercomputer that will enable the digital distribution of video games…The multiple-teraflop supercomputer will be made by Supermicro…Supermicro says it will launch Fusion Render Cloud Servers in the second quarter. The Fusion Render Cloud is a new kind of supercomputer that uses a bunch of servers with both microprocessors and graphics chips in them. These servers can be used to create high-end graphics imagery that can be piped at lightning speed to a home computer. The effect is that a low-end computer could be used to display high-end games, thanks to the processing that happens in the so-called cloud. Otoy’s ORBX codec — the compression software – is one of the key links here because it allows one server to send thousands of streams of high-definition video or game graphics to just about any display…About 10 supercomputers could probably support a million users…The hardware itself is quite intimidating. A supercomputer will consist of 128 servers, with a total of 250 AMD “Mangy Cours” Opteron microprocessors and 500 graphics chips based on AMD’s Cypress designs. Each of those graphics chips can process 2.7 teraflops, or 2.7 trillion math operations per second. Each supercomputer could serve 3,000 high-definition users, or 12,000 standard-definition users. Otoy’s own software on a consumer’s own machine is tiny, taking up just four kilobytes of data…”



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