2010/07/06

NEW NET Issues List for 06 Jul 2010

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 06 July 2010, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering. This week we'reupstairs 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. IBM endorses Firefox as in-house Web browser http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100701/tc_afp/usitinternetsoftwarecompanymozillafirefox “…Any employee who is not now using Firefox will be strongly encouraged to use it as their default browser," IBM executive Bob Sutor said…"While other browsers have come and gone, Firefox is now the gold standard for what an open, secure, and standards-compliant browser should be."…All new computers for IBM employees will have Firefox installed and the global company "will continue to strongly encourage our vendors who have browser-based software to fully support Firefox,"…IBM, known by the nickname "Big Blue," has a corporate history dating back a century and now reportedly has nearly 400,000 workers…”

2. World’s first, Finland makes broadband service basic right http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100701/tc_afp/finlandtelecominternetonlineregulaterights Finland on Thursday became the first country in the world to make access to a broadband service a basic right, ensuring that a high-speed Internet connection is available to all Finns, a government official said. "Today the universal service obligation concerning Internet access of one Megabit per second (Mbit/s) has entered into force,"…The tech-savvy Nordic country amended its communications market act last year to make sufficient Internet access a universal service, such as the telephone and postal services…The Finnish government has also launched a project to connect all Finns to the Internet with fast fibre-optic or cable networks by 2015…”

3. Borrow, Rent, Buy and Lend with Your Neighborhood http://mashable.com/2010/07/01/neighborgoods/ “…you probably have a ton of stuff piled up in your closet that you hardly ever use. Conversely, you most likely find yourself in need of a hammer or sleeping bag every once and while — yet you’re reluctant to shell out the cash because, well, remember all that stuff stacked in your closet…NeighborGoods is a kind of social networking site for borrowing and lending. Like Craigslist, Freecycle and a bevy of other online classifieds sites, NeighborGoods allows users to browse and post information about goods they want/could stand to part with for awhile…the site allows users to create profiles for added personalization. Users can then search for goods in their neighborhood and connect with other users who have what they require. You can choose to rent, buy, borrow or score for free (or rent out, purchase, lend or give away)…”

4. Indinero: A Realtime Financial Dashboard for Small Businesses http://mashable.com/2010/07/03/indinero/ “…Mint.com has been a leader in this realm for personal finance: its technology helps you track multiple accounts, analyze spending trends, and manage financial goals. There isn’t a clear counterpart to Mint for businesses, though. That’s where inDinero…which launches today, is a web-based financial dashboard for small businesses. Like Mint, it aggregates financial data from bank accounts, investments, and other sources and places them in a simple, easy-to-navigate interface…The app is divided into five parts: Dashboard, Income, Spending, Planning and Trends. Dashboard provides an overview of your business finances, Income provides detailed information about your income streams, Spending breaks down your different costs, Planning helps you set goals for your business, and Trends analyzes and graphs out spending and income trends in order to provide useful insights…”

5. 70,000+ People Get Facebook Tagged in Huge Panoramic Photo http://mashable.com/2010/06/30/glastonbury-tagged-photo/ At last weekend’s Glastonbury Festival, the legendary UK music and performing arts event, a huge photo was taken of 70,000 enthusiastic fans. Now this picture, which was snapped during the halftime of the England-Slovenia World Cup Match, is being circulated around the web and tagged via Facebook Connect. The panoramic photograph has already been tagged with thousands of people and is, in all likelihood, the most-tagged photo in existence. The experience is a bit like Where’s Waldo for the digital age, where oddly dressed cartoon characters are replaced by real people…”

6. HP Shipping ePrinter: Printing Without a Computer http://jkontherun.com/2010/06/30/hp-shipping-eprinter-printing-without-a-computer/ HP has started shipping its first ePrinter — the e-All-in-One-D110a — a network printer making it possible to print wirelessly from anywhere. The D110a has integrated Wi-Fi and its own email address, which provides the ability to print from any device via email. This opens up image printing from the iPad or smartphones that are not connected to the local network where the printer lives…D110a is an all-in-one printer that connects to any network via Wi-Fi, and provides scanning, copying and printing wirelessly…This may be a good addition for small offices and home workers, and for less than $100…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

7. How to Create Your Own Email Aliases On The Fly http://webworkerdaily.com/2010/07/01/how-to-create-your-own-email-aliases-on-the-fly/ “…Simon recently wrote about tempalias, one of a growing number of services that lets users create temporary email addresses. If you want to be able to create your own temporary email addresses (also known as aliases) without having to use such a service, here’s an old trick that I use. It takes a little setting up, but once operational, it’s even easier than adding + signs to email addresses to create aliases…For this example, I’ll use Google Apps Standard Edition because it’s free, but there are lots of other services that will also work…”

8. Smartphone Security Startup Lookout Tops One Million Users http://techcrunch.com/2010/06/30/smartphone-security-startup-lookout-tops-one-million-users/ Lookout, a company that offers security data backup services for smartphones…now has one million users for its security application after only six months in operation. Lookout…just raised $11 million from Accel, Khosla and others…smartphone use is growing rapidly, there are security risks associated with the increased data and application usage on these devices…Lookout…is only available for BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile devices…Over the past six months, Lookout has seen the number of malware and spyware threats per hundred devices double to nine in every 100 devices being affected annually. Lookout has helped find more than 130,000 lost or stolen phones, backed-up over 87 million photos, and backed-up over 300 million contacts…the application is free…”

9. India tells Blackberry, Skype and Google they want encryption keys http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100701/tc_afp/indiainternettelecomregulateskypeblackberry India has given Internet telephony pioneer Skype and the makers of BlackBerry handsets a deadline to fall into line with strict security-monitoring regulations or be blocked…India's intelligence officials have long complained that they are unable to decipher encrypted data sent on Blackberry handsets, made by Canadian firm Research In Motion, or intercept calls on Skype. The government has threatened to ban or block BlackBerry and Skype services if the companies fail to adhere to a 15-day deadline…Google has been asked to ensure emails on its Gmail service can be deciphered, though no deadline has been issued…The government has been restricting imports from Chinese telecom equipment manufacturers because of Indian intelligence agency fears that "spyware" could be embedded in the equipment…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

10. Users Fume as Software Update Bricks Sprint EVO Phones http://www.technewsworld.com/story/Users-Fume-as-Software-Update-Bricks-Sprint-EVO-Phones-70320.html Less than a month after the release of the Sprint HTC EVO 4G, many of the smartphone's users recently found their devices rendered completely inoperable…a firmware update released by Sprint this week seems to have gone badly awry for an unknown number of the customers…For those customers, the firmware update has "bricked" their phones…The screen is blank, the signal is gone, the phone is dead. Blogs and Web sites are buzzing with user experiences…expressed by customers whose phones are anywhere from one day to a couple of weeks old. While Facebook user Becky Parker reported that her firmware update went without a hitch, noting that "now my EVO is FAAAAAAAAAST," lots of posts to Sprint's Facebook page are not so cheerful…Bill Gagnon said of his failed update: "Now Radio Shack said my new phone will be arriving within 7-10 days…”

11. Cisco Cius: Android tablet for workers, students http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/meet-cisco-cius-android-tablet-for-workers-students-watch-out-ipad/36387 “…Cisco CEO John Chambers today unveiled the Cisco Cius, a “mobile collaboration tablet that delivers virtual desktop integration with anywhere, anytime access…At 1.15 lbs., the device is an ultra-portable tablet that’s targeted at market segments that can benefit from real-time, video-based collaboration…It features a front-mounted 720p HD camera that refreshes at up to 30 frames per second. It’s WiFi-enabled, comes with an accelerometer, has a detachable battery and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera…it’s built on Google’s Android OS, which makes it an open platform for communication and collaboration. Out of the gate, it’s compatible with Cisco’s suite of business software tools…The Cius doesn’t appear to be a consumer product. Chambers wasn’t demonstrating this device as a movie viewer or control center for apps…The company showcased how companies can use these devices to keep mobile workers in the loop far better than a mobile phone or remote access connections might. One of my earliest criticisms of the iPad was that it was trying to be everything to everyone…I remember being less than impressed when Steve Jobs sat down at the iPad’s debut and demonstrated how to hammer out an email and work on a spreadsheet…Cisco has done it right with the Cius. It’s targeted at niche markets and enhanced…to make school or work that much more rewarding…”

12. Apple hiring iPhone antenna engineers for some reason http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/30/apple-hiring-iphone-antenna-engineers-for-some-reason/ “…Apple job postings for iPhone / iPad antenna engineers to "Define and implement antenna system architecture to optimize the radiation performance for wireless portable devices." All three were posted on June 23rd, the same day that we started seeing widespread reporting of the left-handed reception issues. Coincidence?

13. Microsoft waves bye-bye to Kin phones http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward/2010/07/microsofts_kin_smartphone_cant.html Less than two months after they showed up in stores amid a burst of hype over their social-media capabilities, Microsoft's Kin smartphones have roamed into a dead zone. The company is scrapping the entire project, although Verizon Wireless will keep selling the Kin One and Kin Two models…the Kin, once seen as a Web-savvy descendant of T-Mobile's Sidekick phones, was delayed 18 months after Microsoft management decided to rewrite its software on its Windows CE code base…Kin made little sense for Microsoft. Years after it had become obvious that the iPhone and Google's Android operating system were herding Windows Mobile to extinction -- mere months after it had publicly committed to a different platform, its upcoming Windows Phone 7 -- why would Microsoft split its efforts on two incompatible systems?...This debacle dates to 2008, when Microsoft spent a reported $500 million buying Sidekick developers Danger Inc. That expenditure not only yielded the ill-fated Kin, it also put Microsoft in a position to botch the Sidekick's server infrastructure so thoroughly that it nearly wiped out all the stored data of Sidekick users last year.…”

14. MIT's inexpensive Android optometry app could replace optometrist eye exams http://www.engadget.com/2010/07/02/mits-android-optometry-app-could-help-you-stop-squinting-all-th/ “…Bokodes, MIT's tiny replacement for barcodes…holographic nature enabled them to represent different information from different angles…that allows the tech behind them to be used in a very different and even more useful way: figuring out just how busted your vision is. The Camera Culture team at MIT's Media Lab evolved that tech into a $2 box that refracts the image displayed on a smartphone screen. When combined with an app that displays a set of dots and lines, the user can manipulate the image until things look to be perfectly aligned. Once complete, the app spits out a prescription…to make it easier for optometrists in developing countries to quickly and easily find glasses for people…an app that could save a trip to the doctor's office…”

15. Apple admits iPhones' signal bars give incorrect readings http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-apple-iphone-20100703,0,7116906.story Ever wondered why your iPhone had patchy service even though it showed the signal bars at full strength?...Apple revealed the embarrassing flaw, which it said has been a problem since the original iPhone was launched three years ago, as it was addressing an uproar over dropped signals on its new iPhone 4…"Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong," Apple said…Shortly after the Cupertino, Calif., company began selling the iPhone 4 on June 24, some users complained that the signal bars on the device dropped four or five bars when it was held a certain way…Apple said it would issue a software update in a few weeks. Because this issue can be found in all of its phones, there will also be an update for the previous-generation iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G…But the software update to fix the signal display won't resolve reception complaints that have long dogged Apple and AT&T…”

16. Stellar Battery Life May Be Droid X's Best Feature http://www.pcworld.com/article/200505/stellar_battery_life_may_be_droid_xs_best_feature.html Never mind the jumbo 4.3-inch display, high-res 8-megapixel camera, or speedy 1GHz processor, the finest feature of Motorola's new Droid X smartphone may be its ability to hold a charge…Some smartphones are better at power management than others…if it's dead as a brick before the day is done--without a power outlet or spare battery in sight--well, that's one ugly reality check…I've had a chance to do some hands-on testing of…HTC EVO 4G…and the Droid X…when it comes to battery life, the Droid X puts the EVO to shame. Using both phones the way average folks do…I found that the EVO seldom lasted longer than a day…if I streamed a lot of video or activated the phone's built-in mobile hotspot, the EVO might die within three or so hours. The Droid X, by comparison, could run a solid two days between charges, based on normal use. Pushed to the limit…it still might last an entire workday…The Droid X has a 1540mAh battery; the EVO's is 1500mAh…”

Open Source

17. Ten Linux tools for crashed Linux, Windows or Mac machines http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/desktop-apps/2010/07/02/ten-tools-for-crashed-linux-windows-or-mac-machines-40089406/ Whether your machine is a Mac or based on Linux or Windows, when it fails to boot you need a dependable recovery tool. Here are a few Linux tools that may save the day…I have seen a rash of problems recently, from corrupt partition tables to severely infected machines. All these problems have been sorted out using Linux rescue tools, which come in particularly handy when the host system refuses to boot…Knoppix…Trinity Rescue Kit…Avira AntiVir…GParted Live…SystemRescueCD…Ubuntu Rescue Remix…F-Secure Rescue CD…Ddrescue…Safecopy…Linux rescue mode…Barts…”

18. Open-source ERP 'most active' SourceForge project http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9178761/Open_source_ERP_most_active_SourceForge_project “…Two open-source ERP suites, xTuple and ADempiere, were listed as the two "most active" projects Wednesday on SourceForge…WebERP and OpenBravo also made the top 20. XTuple probably has about 500 active participants in its open-source community…The "single hardest thing to pin down," however, is the number of companies using the suite in production, Lilly said. XTuple, based in Norfolk, Virginia, has 200 paying customers. Lilly's "best guess" is that there are actually between 7,000 and 10,000 installations of xTuple up and running around the world. Lilly also maintains the "ERP Graveyard" blog, where he chronicles the fate of vendors and products swallowed up via acquisition. The trend has hit open-source ERP too, evidenced by Consona's recent move to purchase Compiere, maker of an open-source suite. Consona has said it plans to continue supporting Compiere's open-source strategy…”

19. Speed up Open Office! http://www.fewt.com/2010/06/speed-up-open-office.html “…Open Office is pretty slow and painful to use out of the box. This simple step by step procedure speeds up the software, making it much more pleasant to use. Open OOo (I use writer for this process). Select Tools -> Options. Select Memory. Number Of Steps: 20…Click OK…With tuning, OOo opens in <>…”

SkyNet

20. Google News home page ruined http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_news_followup.php Earlier in this week we covered the new version of Google News…reaction to Google News' new layout has been resoundingly harsh…Google isn't offering an option to revert back to the old version, unlike it did with its last major Gmail update…The biggest complaint lies in the new layout itself, which users say is harder to scan. Previously, Google News had a three column top section with a two-column grid of stories below. Users could customize the arrangement of sections and a few sections were viewable at once, depending on the size of the monitor. The new layout has a wide center column with a "river of news"…and unchangeable side columns containing newer features like trending topics, FastFlip, local news and Spotlight. Depending on the monitor used, only one section may be viewable at a time in the center column…Those who value serendipity say they benefited more from the old layout with several blocks of stories on different subjects on the screen at once than from the new layout. Spotlight should be the serendipity engine of the site, but the long, image-less list of headlines is below the fold on most monitors. It's more like a cluttered stack of newspaper clippings stashed off to the side of your desk than a showcase of stories you might otherwise miss…”

21. Google to pay $700 million for Travel-Data Provider ITA Software http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gdBdBpGP93nOnA2hceCoLJr2sMFgD9GMIAR00 Google Inc. plans to buy travel technology company ITA Software Inc. in a $700 million deal…ITA Software, a 500-employee company created in 1996 by computer scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, sells technology that helps run the reservation systems of many airlines, including American, Southwest, Alaska and Continental. Its software also powers the tools that other travel websites use to track air fares…widespread reliance on ITA's technology means federal regulators are likely to spend six months to a year trying to determine whether the acquisition will give Google an unfair advantage in the rapidly growing online travel market…Consumers and small-business travelers in the U.S. will spend about $45 billion on airline tickets booked online this year, and that figure is expected to rise to $59 billion by 2014…with thousands of engineers at its disposal, Google conceivably could build upon ITA's success in the airline industry to expand into hotel, rental car and cruise reservations…he also predicted Google would be able to drive more traffic to airlines and travel agencies such as Orbitz and Expedia. Google would profit from ITA's technology by selling more ads alongside the flight data. Bing has been picking up more traffic with features that help people figure out whether the prices of airline tickets are likely to increase or decrease…Travel websites generally earn fees for sending traffic to flight booking sites, but Google appears more interested in improving its travel search service so that it can retain users and sell more ads…”

22. Google Adds Native Usage Tracker to Blogger http://bloggerindraft.blogspot.com/2010/07/introducing-blogger-stats.html “…some of you use Google Analytics or other third party tools to track your blog traffic, many of you have requested an easier-to-use, fully-integrated stats feature for Blogger. We heard that, and we are excited to announce that Blogger in Draft now has built-in stats…it monitors and analyzes your visitor traffic in near-real-time. You can see which posts are getting the most visits and which sites are sending traffic to your blog right now…There's also a lot more data that's being tracked, such as popular search keywords that send visitors to your blog, which country your visitors come from, and which web browsers they are using…Stats…shows all of this data in a simple, easy-to-understand graphical user interface. Since Stats are part of Blogger, you don't have to sign up for another service, or embed any code in a gadget…if you want the enterprise-level power and flexibility of Google Analytics, you can still use it, as outlined in this Help Center article…”

23. Google Offers Mobile Payment with Chrome Checkout Extension http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_offers_mobile_payment_with_chrome_checkout.php It might not be long before those little signs on storefront windows read "We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discovery and Google Checkout." Google released last week an extension for its Chrome browser that makes on-the-go payment for Android smartphone users possible. The technology relies on several factors…the customer both has a Google Checkout account and is using an Android phone…Google's technology requires a little forethought from the merchant, but seems simple and safe in its execution. The merchant has to set up a Google Checkout merchant account, populate the store with merchandise and then install the Android Payment Chrome Extension. From there, when a customer wants to buy something, the merchant creates a shopping cart with those items on their computer. The extension will then create a QR code, which when scanned with the phone will take the customer to Google Checkout page where they can complete the transaction…this approach…doesn't have the same security concerns that have delayed the launch of mobile credit card based payment system Square. The actual act of payment, with Google's solution, does not require the swiping of a credit card and keeps the act of payment solely in the hands of the customer…”

24. Google Creates YouTube Video Game to Highlight Chrome and Flash http://mashable.com/2010/06/30/google-chrome-fastball/ “…Google Chrome comes with Adobe Flash built-in. To highlight the addition, Google has created Google Chrome FastBall, a Flash-based game for YouTube. The FastBall game tasks users to complete a series of web-oriented challenges that integrate with APIs from a combination of Google and social services like Last.fm and Twitter in a series of YouTube videos. The idea behind the game is to both demonstrate Chrome’s Flash capabilities and the underlying speed of the browser…We should note, that though the game is meant to highlight Google Chrome with Flash, the game appears to play quite well in other browsers too…”

General Technology

25. World’s first roadable aircraft wins FAA approval http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/news/7860966/Terrafugia-Transition-flying-car-gets-go-ahead-from-US-air-authorities.html The Transition was designed as a "light sport" aircraft…with a maximum weight of 1,320lb…the manufacturers found it impossible to fit the safety features - airbags, crumple zones and roll cage, for instance - that are required for road vehicles into that weight…the FAA has granted the Transition an exemption - allowing it to be classified as a light sport aircraft despite being 120lb over the limit. Light sport aircraft licences require just 20 hours' flying time…The two-seater Transition can use its front-wheel drive on roads at ordinary highway speeds, with wings folded, at a respectable 30 miles per gallon. Once it has arrived at a suitable take-off spot - an airport, or adequately sized piece of flat private land - it can fold down the wings, engage its rear-facing propeller, and take off…Its cruising speed in the air is 115mph, it has a range of 460 miles, and it can carry 450lb. It requires a 1,700-foot (one-third of a mile) runway to take off and can fit in a standard garage…one of the major advantages of the Transition over ordinary light aircraft is safety - in the event of inclement weather, it can simply drive home instead of either being grounded or flying in unsafe conditions…The car is expected to retail at $194,000…”

26. Presentation for ‘Minority Report Interface’ That Blew People’s Minds at TED http://singularityhub.com/2010/07/02/presentation-for-minority-report-interface-that-blew-peoples-minds-at-ted-video/ The movie Minority Report features one of the most discussed and influential user interfaces ever shown on the silver screen. Using a pair of special gloves, Tom Cruise’s character can navigate and manipulate a vast array of digital images and information using intuitive gestures and movements…The concept was developed for the film by John Underkoffler of MIT’s Media Lab who has gone on to recreate it as a marketable system. Known as ‘g-speak’ the revolutionary interface is under development by Underkoffler’s company Oblong. It was debuted at the TED conference this year and now we finally have access to that video. Watch Underkoffler casually demonstrate what might very well be the future of human computer interactions…”

27. Scientists to present car for blind drivers next year http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/us_and_canada/10497032.stm US Scientists and the National Federation of the Blind are developing a car for the blind…Non-visual aids include sensors indicating turns in the road via vibrating gloves. Puffs of compressed air on the face will alert the driver to obstacles. Other aids to be fitted include a vibrating vest to give feedback on speed and a steering wheel with audio cues and spoken commands indicating the car's direction…The model to be presented next year will be a modified Ford Escape sport utility vehicle…The prototype is expected be be publicly tested by a blind driver on the Daytona race track in Florida next January.”

28. Intelligent cars will report accidents to authorities http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/news/7870387/Intelligent-cars-will-report-accidents-to-authorities.html “…aircraft-style black boxes that can send video footage and information about driving behaviour during accidents to the police and insurance companies…The car, which is being developed by researchers at computer chip giant Intel, will record information about the vehicle speed, steering and braking along with video footage from inside and outside the vehicle. This would be automatically sent to police and insurance companies in the event of an accident to make it easier to determine the cause of car crashes and identify the person responsible…They are developing technology that will transform cars into smart vehicles that are able to detect dangers on the road and even take over control from motorists…On board sensors will also be able to detect pot holes in the road and report their location to road maintenance authorities as the car is moving. The cars will also be able to track the location of surrounding vehicles and alert drivers if they get too close or try to change lanes when another vehicle is in their blind spot. Using the LED rear and head lights found in most modern cars, the car is able to track the location of other vehicles and display them on a satellite navigation map. Motorists will also be able to use their mobile phone or computer lock and unlock their car remotely, turn on the alarm and even start the engine to warm it up in the morning…Once a car is connected, more or less on a continuous basis, all sorts of interesting possibilities present themselves. "With vision systems on cars, it is perfectly reasonable for a car on its own to see the sign that says 'wrong way' or 'do not enter' and bring the vehicle to a halt at the side of the road so we don't have these senseless accidents where someone has failed to recognise a sign…aviation style black box technology for recording the circumstances around accidents could also help speed up payouts by reducing delays in determining causes of accidents…”

29. Electrolux to make vacuums from plastic ocean trash http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE65S11I20100629 Electrolux…will harvest bit of plastic from floating garbage islands in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans, as well as from three European seas, and use the material to manufacture six showcase vacuum cleaners….the vacuum cleaners will…be…used to bring attention to the issues of plastic pollution and the scarcity of recycled plastics…"There are plastic islands, some several times the size of the state of Texas, floating in our oceans. Yet on land, we struggle to get hold of enough recycled plastics to meet the demand for sustainable vacuum cleaners," said Cecilia Nord…The "Vac from the Sea" initiative will gather plastic by diving for it or scooping it up from waves…”

30. Cybercompanions http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/05/science/05robot.html Nothing Eileen Oldaker tried could calm her mother when she called from the nursing home, disoriented and distressed in what was likely the early stages of dementia. So Ms. Oldaker hung up, dialed the nurses’ station and begged them to get Paro. Paro is a robot modeled after a baby harp seal. It trills and paddles when petted, blinks when the lights go up, opens its eyes at loud noises and yelps when handled roughly or held upside down. Two microprocessors under its artificial white fur adjust its behavior based on information from dozens of hidden sensors that monitor sound, light, temperature and touch. It perks up at the sound of its name, praise and, over time, the words it hears frequently…Ms. Oldaker’s mother, Millie Lesek, exclaimed that night last winter when a staff member delivered the seal to her. “Here, Paro, come to me.” “Meeaakk,” it replied, blinking up at her through long lashes…“Don’t rush,” Mrs. Lesek instructed, stroking Paro’s antiseptic coat in a motion that elicited a wriggle of apparent delight. “He can stay the night with me…For those with a hankering for a custom-built companion and $125,000 to spend, a talking robotic head can be modeled on the personality of your choice. It will smile at its own jokes and recognize familiar faces…Even at its edgiest, artificial intelligence cannot hold up its side of a wide-ranging conversation or, say, tell by an expression when someone is about to cry. Still, the new devices take advantage of the innate soft spot many people have for objects that seem to care — or need someone to care for them. Their appearances in nursing homes, schools and the occasional living room are adding fuel to science fiction fantasies of machines that people can relate to as well as rely on…In the months before Mrs. Lesek died in March, the robot became a fixture in the room…“He likes to lie on my left arm here,” Mrs. Lesek would tell her daughter…Even when their ministrations extended beyond the robot’s two-hour charge, Mrs. Lesek managed to derive a kind of maternal satisfaction from the seal’s sudden stillness. “I’m the only one who can put him to sleep,” Mrs. Lesek would tell her daughter when the battery ran out…”

Leisure & Entertainment

31. Amazon updates Kindle DX, drops price http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20009371-1.html “…almost three months after Apple launched its tablet, Amazon is making efforts to resuscitate the DX with a price cut to $379…The device still has "free" integrated 3G wireless connectivity from AT&T…The e-reader uses Amazon's new electronic ink display with "50 percent improved contrast for the clearest text and the sharpest images.…the DX's screen doesn't get washed out in direct sunlight like the iPad's screen does. "Unlike backlit computer or LCD screens, Kindle DX's screen looks and reads like real paper, with no glare. Read as easily in bright sunlight as in the living room."…you can read Kindle books and sync your library across multiple devices, including the Kindle, Kindle DX, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android phone, and BlackBerry…Battery life for the new Kindle DX is rated at one week on a single charge with wireless on or two weeks with wireless turned off…”

32. Universal unveils 360 degrees of King Kong … in 3-D http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_15404519 “…A replacement for the cheesy animatronic, banana-breath encounter, "King Kong 360 3-D" combines state-of-the-art digital filmmaking with eco-friendly theme-park-ride technology…"You will be inside of a 3-D story as opposed to viewing the story from a seat,"…Peter Jackson, who directed the high-tech 2005 remake of the 1933, stop-motion animated monster movie classic, oversaw the creation of the "360-3D" film at his Weta Digital special effects studio in New Zealand…Entering a dark passage, tram riders are given a moment to don the 3-D glasses handed out at the start of their trip. Trams then move to a platform flanked by two 187-by-40-foot curved screens. The trams' roofs complete the full field-of-vision illusion. Sixteen high-def projectors – eight for each screen – emit a continuous, synchronized image of the action to the viewers' right and left at 60 frames per second…nearly three times the 24 fps rate of standard feature films…the nearly three-minute show is hardly just a visual experience. Each of the trams' four cars rests on its own steel platen. Powered by compressed air, the four metal plates are programmed to move individually and in sync with whatever piece of the elongated film is happening closest to their car…if Kong tosses a T. rex onto the roof of Car 2, the folks in Cars 3 and 4 may see the reptile's tail hit the metal, but they won't get shaken as violently as those in Car 2…”

33. The Plaza's Guest Rooms To Feature Ipads With Virtual Concierge http://www.hotelinteractive.com/article.aspx?articleid=17409 The Plaza (www.theplaza.com), New York City’s ultimate luxury destination, announced today it will offer iPads in all guest rooms and suites featuring the first virtual concierge application available on the tablet devices…The iPads will feature a multimedia video welcome and provide guests easy, touch screen access to control their entire hotel experience. Services guests will have at their fingertips include ordering room service, making restaurant reservations, communicating with the concierge, requesting wake-up calls, exploring NYC destination guides, and even checking airline schedules and printing boarding passes. The devices will also be pre-loaded with leisure and business friendly applications such as newspapers…The Plaza first started offering iPads for guests to use while dining in The Palm Court. Hotel managers quickly realized the popularity of the devices with guests, and decided to extend the program beyond the restaurant, into the guest room…”

34. How Steam stopped me from pirating games and enjoy the sweet DRM kool-aid http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/07/05/how-steam-stopped-me-from-pirating-games-and-enjoy-the-sweet-drm-kool-aid/ Up until a few weeks ago, the last PC game I purchased and didn’t pirate was Team Fortress 2 via the digital download service, Steam. The last PC game I purchased in a retail box was Half Life 2. Yet like many, I’ve still managed to play every PC hit over the last decade…Part of my motivation was that it’s just so damn easy to pirate a game. It’s like three clicks of the mouse to download a torrent and even less on Usernet. The files download as fast as my cable modem allows and I have the full game with simple cracking instructions a few minutes later. Why in the world would I want to drive to a store and give them $50 for the same thing?...the primary reason people buy games retail is for the multiplayer modes. Most pirated games do not allow for multiplayer as the game often has to connect to an official server where its legitimacy can easily be verified by some sort of authentication service. So while I played through Modern Warfare 2’s single player mode twice, I haven’t seen one minute of the mutliplayer mode…I already established I’m lazy. Steam understands that’s the norm for most gamers. That’s why Steam makes it so damn easy to buy games. There are top sellers lists, coming soon lists, demo lists, and best of all, legit sales and free-play weekends…The movie industry really should look to Steam for guidance. The ecosystem could very easily be applied to purchasing movies as well…DRM schemes hate your freedom. They don’t want you to be able to travel abroad or enjoy your content on any system you want. That doesn’t really describe Steam, though, so at least one company is showing the whole industry how it should be done…”

Economy and Technology

35. Amazon.com to acquire shopping site Woot http://www.businessweek.com/idg/2010-06-30/amazon-com-to-acquire-shopping-site-woot.html Amazon.com plans to acquire online discount retailer Woot.com…which offers one item for sale each day…"We plan to continue to run Woot the way we have always run Woot -- with a wall of ideas and a dartboard," Rutledge wrote. "From a practical point of view, it will be as if we are simply adding one person to the organizational hierarchy, except that one person will just happen to be a billion-dollar company that could buy and sell each and every one of you like you were office furniture." Last July, Amazon announced it would buy online shoe and apparel retailer Zappos.com for US$847 million…Amazon purchased audio book seller Audible in a $300 million deal, announced in January 2008. Electronics wholesaler Rutledge launched Woot in July 2004. It started as an employee store and marketing testing site…In recent days, Woot has offered for sale the iPod Nano, filtered water bottles, a camcorder, a digital picture frame and a television set…”

36. The Ben Franklin Project: publishing newspapers with free programs & services http://jrcbenfranklinproject.wordpress.com/tools/ Breakdown of the tools you’ve suggested we investigate during the Ben Franklin Project…” [Ben Franklin Project is an opportunity to re-imagine the newsgathering process with the focus on Digital First and Print Last. Using only free tools found on the Internet, the project will – from assigning to editing- create, publish and distribute news content on both the web and in print]

37. NY Hotels Upset Over More Efficient 'Home' Competition; Gets Politicians To Try To Outlaw Such Things http://techdirt.com/articles/20100628/0037599977.shtml “…The internet enables people to communicate directly with each other and create more efficient solutions than some larger (often regulated) industry, and that industry freaks out…With hotels in the Big Apple being ridiculously expensive much of the time, people have taken to Craigslist, as well as some specific services like AirBnB, Crashpadder and Roomorama, to find residents willing to rent out their rooms or apartments on a short-term basis -- for much lower prices…that upsets the hotels…they've convinced politicians to try to effectively outlaw the practice…New York state senators…would make it illegal for any homeowner or renter to sublet for less than a month…The reality of the situation is that the internet has made it so that people can be more efficient in things like transportation or short-term housing, and the old guard doesn't like it one bit, so they come up with regulations like these to outlaw it, even though it greatly harms the public, who get more out of using such services.”

38. Small Businesses See Big Opportunity in Lower Ad Costs http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20100702/tc_pcworld/smallbusinessesseebigopportunityinloweradcosts “…small and medium-size businesses are benefiting from new opportunities to reach consumers…mom-and-pop businesses are taking advantage of a depressed media market and increased access to technology to produce successful marketing campaigns….In the case of a commercial for a local diner, Eat at Joe's, a small agency shot high-definition video with a digital camera, edited the material at home, and charged the restaurant owner a mere $5,000…production costs on the 30-second spot with 40 actors would have run around $200,000 several years ago…A Facebook campaign targets users based on nine filters--such as age, location, and keywords--for a minimum budget of $1.00 a day. Google's AdWords directs advertisements based on keyword searches with payment per click and even non-tech savvy business owners can learn the basics (to keep costs down, pay attention to these money-wasting AdWords mistakes). For a quick estimate of how much a search advertising campaign would cost, enter a keyword and budget on Yahoo! Search Marketing and see a prospective monthly breakdown…E-mail campaign services such as Emma and Constant Contact also have seen growth as another relatively low cost way to reach consumers and track results…these myriad marketing techniques can direct consumers to a functional Web site that costs little or nothing to build, even without coding experience, on sites including Weebly, Doodle Kit, and Jimdo…”

39. Deepwater Horizon spill cost to BP exceeds $3 billion http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jul/05/bp-asks-oil-spill-partners-for-400m-dollars “…Since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on 20 April, the cost of the response to date amounts to approximately $3.12bn, including the cost of the spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to the Gulf states, claims paid, and federal costs. The news follows BP's agreement on 16 June to put $20bn into a special clean-up fund for the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster…Approximately 44,500 personnel, more than 6,563 vessels and some 113 aircraft are now engaged in the response effort…almost 95,000 claims for compensation have been submitted and more than 47,000 payments have been made, totalling almost $147m…As of 3 July…the total volume of oil collected or flared by the containment systems is approximately 585,400 barrels…the first relief well, which started 2 May…reached a depth of 17,725 feet on 4 July. The second relief well, which started 16 May, has now reached 13,871 feet. Both wells are still estimated to take approximately three months to complete from the start of drilling…”

Civilian Aerospace

40. New NASA Game Hands Over Keys to Virtual Moonbase http://www.space.com/entertainment/new-nasa-game-hands-over-keys-to-virtual-moonbase-100702.html NASA…hopes to give virtual explorers a sense of what life on the moon would be like in a new computer game launching this month…"Moonbase Alpha," will allow players to work together in a futuristic lunar base. It will be available for PC download from Valve's Steam network on July 6. Players must tackle the challenge of restoring oxygen flow and critical systems after a meteor strike cripples a solar array and life support system. This comes as a precursor to NASA's massively multiplayer online game, called "Astronaut: Moon, Mars & Beyond," where players would take on astronaut roles, such as a roboticist, and explore virtual versions of the moon and other extraterrestrial locations. [Video: Moonbase Alpha trailer] NASA and the game developers had debated about whether to keep the "Moonbase Alpha" setting on a lunar base, after the cancellation of NASA's Constellation Program that aimed to return astronauts to the moon. But they eventually decided to forge ahead with their original plans…”

41. Unmanned capsule misses space station http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38060650/ns/technology_and_science-space/ An unmanned Russian cargo ship sailed past the International Space Station instead of docking on autopilot, as engineers on Earth struggle to determine what went wrong…The robotic cargo ship Progress 38 was slated to dock at the space station at 12:58 p.m. ET (1658 GMT) but lost its navigational lock on the orbiting lab about 25 minutes before the rendezvous…aboard the spacecraft are 1,918 pounds of propellant for the station, 110 pounds of oxygen, 220 pounds of water and 2,667 pounds of dry cargo — which includes spare parts, science equipment and other supplies. Russia's disposable Progress spacecraft are similar in appearance to the three-module Soyuz…Progress vehicles do not have a crew-carrying module like the Soyuz ships. Instead, Progress vehicles are equipped with a propellant module to store fuel for the space station…” [Progress 38 docks with ISS on 2nd try http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/russian-cargo-ship-docks-space-station-100704.html ]

42. Family Aims High for Ultimate 4th of July Vacation: Zero Gravity Flight http://www.space.com/news/stern-family-zero-gravity-holiday-100702.html “…I am going on a family vacation to the nation's capitol…we will not be going to the usual tourist destinations. All five of us will be spending our Independence Day suspended in gravity as we embark on our first family Zero-G trip…It came about through my father, (planetary scientist Alan Stern), a space scientist and has been on at least a dozen weightless flights, who is leading a project at the Southwest Research Institute on the science uses for weightless flights…We will board onto a Boeing 727 that has been modified to endure a series of parabolas. Through the course of 12 to 15 parabolas, the plane will go soaring up to an altitude of 34,000 feet only to begin the precipitous 10,000-foot dive, which grants us 30-second periods where we are allowed to float about the cabin freely…Naturally, my dad will not let an educational opportunity be wasted giggling and doing somersaults…My 16-year-old brother, Jordan, hoped to bring a pair of magnets in his flight suit and see if they act the same way as they normally do. I hoped to blow bubbles and see whether they pop at a faster or slower rate than usual…we did not submit our plans early enough to flight organizers to have the gear needed for our experiments approved. But we will have a chance to participate in some other experiments already planned…These include some zero gravity antics with a hula hoop, and density experiments with liquids and solids that use cooking oil, colored water and a jar full of treats like jelly beans, gum balls and rock candies…In the near future, suborbital flights will allow for both passengers and researchers to leave earth to experience zero gravity for longer than 30-second intervals. For many people, going to outer space will no longer have to be a pipe dream; it will be a reality…”

43. China space ride plunge kills six http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100630/wl_nm/us_china_funfair_accident A space shuttle simulator ride plunged to the ground, killing six people and injuring another 10 at a popular south China amusement park…Survivors said there was a power cut and they heard a loud explosion moments before the drop…The "space flight" attraction at Overseas Chinese Town East aimed to give riders in 11 four-person cabins the experience of a rocket launch…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

44. GPUs Boost Supercomputers' Energy Efficiency http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/200309/gpus_boost_supercomputers_energy_efficiency.html “…Eight of the world's greenest supercomputers combined specialized accelerators like GPUs with CPUs to boost performance and make supercomputers more power efficient…Supercomputers with accelerators are three times more energy efficient than their non-accelerated counterparts on the list, according to Wu Feng, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute…Supercomputers with accelerators averaged 554 MFLOP/s per watt, while other measured supercomputers without accelerators produced 181 MFLOP/s per watt…supercomputers combining GPUs with CPUs include the Dawning Nebulae supercomputer, which was in the fourth spot, and the Mole-8.5 supercomputer, which took the eighth spot. The supercomputers are in China and combine Nvidia's Tesla C2050 graphics processors with Intel's Xeon X5650 quad-core processor, which runs at 2.66GHz. The Nebulae supercomputer achieved efficiency of around 492.64 MFLOP/s per watt, while the Mole-8.5 achieved efficiency of 431.88 MFLOP/s per watt…The top three green supercomputers were IBM supercomputers, all in Germany. The supercomputers include PowerXCell 8i processors from IBM, with custom field-programmable gate array accelerators to boost application performance…”

45. Accelerator Adoption Picks Up Speed http://www.hpcwire.com/blogs/Accelerator-Adoption-Picks-Up-Speed.html?ref=119 “…we're six months deep into 2010, and while there hasn't been a lot of blockbuster stories on the HPC front, the trends are unmistakable: more GPU computing, multicore multiplication in CPUs, and the search for a software model that ties everything together…the biggest "story" of the year from a vendor had elements of all three of these trends. That was Intel's revelation of the upcoming "Many Integrated Cores" (MIC) HPC coprocessor, based on recycling the company's Larrabee technology…The rationale behind MIC is to be able to preserve the industry's investment in x86 software in order to provide a smooth path to manycore technical computing. To help ease that transition, Intel will supply its own MIC compiler, parallel computing development tools and software libraries to support the new architecture…While there have been questions about the relative performance merits of GPUs versus CPUs for certain codes, a consensus does seem to be forming that the path from petascale to exascale computing will need the help of coprocessing accelerators -- if not GPUs, then something like them. Cray, IBM, Appro, Bull, SGI, and practically every other HPC OEM have added, or are in process of adding, a GPGPU option to their machines…Progress in making GPU programming easier, while not spectacular, has been relentless. CUDA 3.0 and OpenCL 1.1 were released in the first half of the year, and the ecosystem continues to grow around them, although to a much greater extent around CUDA…”

46. Realistic Assessment of GPU parallel processing for HPC http://www.linux-mag.com/id/782 “…Because HPC is about performance numbers, I find it difficult to make any determinations about performance without a set of carefully prepared benchmark data…the use of GP-GPUs for HPC…concept is sound and the idea makes good sense from a commodity standpoint (i.e. let the larger video market help fund the HPC market)…the GP-GPU can be considered a SIMD parallel co-processor (Single Instruction Multiple Data)…Even without seeing any numbers, the advantage of dedicated SIMD hardware (GP-GPU) vs a general purpose processor (CPU) makes sense. The SIMD hardware takes advantage of the regularity in a problem and can solve certain problems (like graphics) very fast…Thus, I was not surprised when the first numbers for GP-GPU results began showing up on the web…Initially, there were claims of 20-30X faster. These numbers were not totally unexpected…Then there were claims of 100X and even some wild claims in excess of 1000X speed up…an order of magnitude improvement beyond the leading edge was good, two orders of magnitude was very interesting and invited further analysis, but three orders of magnitude was often a bunch of…Whenever I hear claims of GP-GPU speed up, I often ask “X times better than what?”… recently there was a paper submitted by a team of Intel engineers…which I suggest reading…entitled Debunking the 100X GPU vs. CPU myth: an evaluation of throughput computing on CPU and GPU…the paper has something that makes me smile — benchmarks and numbers…overselling a technology never helps and in the end when I don’t get my 100X speed-up I might be inclined to think “this stuff does not work.” There is also a more subtle point to be made here. In both cases, the applications were optimized (parallelized) for their respective hardware…”

47. The Mix Between CPUs and GPUs in Servers Will Change http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/cpu/display/20100625140039_The_Mix_Between_CPUs_and_GPUs_in_Servers_Will_Change_AMD.html “…While central processing units (CPUs) will still remain in use in the long term, the mix between them and GPUs in servers will change, according to AMD. “I think what CPUs and GPUs can do is change the mix [of their existence inside servers]. The x86 CPU architecture is on the curve towards the end of Moore’s law due to power limitations…It is hard to build an exascale server using purely x86 technology because that server is going to be too big and will consume too much power. There are already scalability limitations and some of them are pretty thoroughly explored…fifteen years ago all supercomputers were based on various proprietary chips…the vast majority of HPCs today are powered by x86-based chips. Graphics chips are also moving into that space and going forward they have chances to replace conventional CPUs on that market…they are unlikely to completely replace microprocessors…some code needs to be run on central processing units. In general, the dawn of heterogeneous computing is coming, not the dawn of all-around GPU computing…”


*****

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