2010/07/13

NEW NET Issues List for 13 Jul 2010

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 13 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.

I'm on the road in Burns Harbor right now so I won't be at NEW NET. Also didn't have much 'net access the past week, so am behind on NEW NET items for this week. Am putting up a bare bones list of news items and will update later with the rest of the tech stories I accumulated during the past seven days.

(Update: the rest of the stories have now been included below.)

The ‘net

1. Computers at Home: Educational Hope vs. Teenage Reality http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/business/11digi.html MIDDLE SCHOOL students are champion time-wasters. And the personal computer may be the ultimate time-wasting appliance…computers seem to have further separated children in low-income households, whose test scores often decline after the machine arrives, from their more privileged counterparts… “We found a negative effect on academic achievement,” he said. “I was surprised, but as we presented our findings at various seminars, people in the audience said they weren’t surprised, given their own experiences with their school-age children…parental supervision might be spottier, giving students greater opportunity to use the computer for entertainment unrelated to homework and reducing the amount of time spent studying…The North Carolina study suggests the disconcerting possibility that home computers and Internet access have such a negative effect only on some groups and end up widening achievement gaps between socioeconomic groups…Most schools configured the machines to block e-mail, chat, games and Web sites reached by searching on objectionable key words. The key-word blocks worked fine for English-language sites but not for Spanish ones. “Kids were adept at getting around the blocks,” she said…When devising ways to beat school policing software, students showed an exemplary capacity for self-directed learning. Too bad that capacity didn’t expand in academic directions…”

2. AOL's MapQuest Embraces OpenStreetMap Data for the UK http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20100709/tc_pcworld/aolsmapquestembracesopenstreetmapdatafortheuk AOL launched a version of its MapQuest application on Friday for the U.K. using data from OpenStreetMap, a project that uses volunteers to create detail-rich maps that are free. MapQuest Open will provide users with community-generated maps that are accurate and of high quality, AOL said in a statement. AOL will still run MapQuest, which uses commercially available maps. OpenStreetMap was founded in 2004 by Steve Coast when he was a physics student at University College London. He started the project due to the high cost of commercial mapping products, which were controlled by a handful of companies. Many of those products have restrictions on how people are allowed to used them. Now, volunteers have OpenStreetMap mapping parties, often creating specific maps for particular interests, such as cycling or hiking, tapping the knowledge of the local people who contribute. Volunteer mappers use a GPS unit to record "trace" data, or a list of points on a path. The unit can then plugged into a PC and the trace data can then be labeled, for example, as a road or footpath. It is then integrated into OpenStreetMap…”

3. DevHub Now Turns Building A Website Into A Game http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/10/devhub-now-turns-building-a-website-into-a-game/ “…DevHub…helps users build their own blogs and websites…DevHub now features a gaming mechanic that’s designed to help new users turn their bare-bones blog templates into full-fledged websites…a lot of users of the old version of DevHub would create their sites and only take advantage of the most basic features, leaving skeleton websites in their wake (a phenomenon that is doubtless seen on other website creators)…the new DevHub walks you through creating your site step by step, rewarding you for completing actions with points that can be used to further improve your site. When you first sign up you’re asked to choose from four tracks: blog, ‘WebHub’ (which is a portal with your social media profiles), a small business site, and a product promotion site (Michael says more tracks are on the way). After choosing a track, the site will show a wizard pointing out its main features…you’ll be prompted to complete tasks like adding a profile photo, connecting your Facebook account, and blogging something. Completing these actions allows you to accrue virtual points, which can in turn be used to further improve your site. Additional features that can be purchased in the DevHub marketplace include new templates, the ability to embed widgets, and a link roll…earning these doesn’t actually take very long…the goal is to get people to fill everything out and build a full-fledged website, and this provides a way to handhold them through the process…users can purchase these features without earning them for pretty steep amounts of real money…there’s a ton of competition in the site creation space, but this seems like a pretty good way to get users engaged to the point that they’ll keep coming back to DevHub…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

4. NSA supposedly planning to spy on US networks, denies report http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/07/nsa-supposedly-planning-to-spy-on-us-networks-denies-report.ars A report yesterday in the Wall Street Journal claims to expose details of a new NSA program, codenamed "Perfect Citizen," that will monitor critical infrastructure networks, both public and private, in order to look for suspicious activity that could be evidence of an impending hack attack…Raytheon allegedly won a $100 million contract for the first phase of Perfect Citizen, and the Journal has seen what are alleged to be Raytheon internal emails discussing the program. One…line, which the Journal quoted and which has since made its way around the Internet: "Perfect Citizen is Big Brother." The program is being funded out of the Comprehensive National Security Intiative, which was started as a classified effort under the Bush administration. The Obama administration has continued it, and has recently declassified some general information about the program…Wired has a response from the NSA…Today’s Wall Street Journal article by Siobhan Gorman, titled “US Plans Cyber Shield for Utilities, Companies,” is an inaccurate portrayal of the work performed at the National Security Agency. Because of the high sensitivity surrounding what we do to defend our nation, it is inappropriate to confirm or deny all of the specific allegations made in the article…”

5. AP Not Amused By The Woot Story, Plays The Oil Spill Card http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/06/ap-woot-oil-spill/ Oh those jokesters over at the AP — the fun never ends! Last night, we wrote a post noting that Woot was (humorously) calling out the AP for not following their own ridiculous rules when quoting from content. By Woot’s calculation, using the AP tool, the AP owes them $17.50 (but Woot was nice enough to offer them the chance to buy some headphones off of Woot instead). The AP didn’t like that story — neither our’s or Woot’s…Paul Colford, the Director of Media Relations for the AP sent emails to both me and Woot CEO Matt Rutledge. Here’s what we got:…The Associated Press INTERVIEWED Mr. Rutledge, as this version of the “newsy little thing” you cite makes clear…the AP’s stance is that it’s fine to lift excerpts from others’ work as long as you interview them — even if that interview only results in a three word quote and the quotes you’re lifting are much longer. Just to make sure, I emailed the AP about it:…I’m confused, you’re allowed to quote all you want for free from a blog post if you do a phone interview with the person and quote three words from that interview?...I’m a little confused by this whole thing. So is Rutledge. I think the AP is too. But I’m going to go with what I can only assume is their policy now. Since I technically “interviewed” Colford for this post, I’m going to copy an AP story below. I’ll go with an oil spill one since he was so quick to point those out. And sure, I only got a few words out of Colford, but since that doesn’t seem to matter, I’m just going to paste an entire AP story below. I like this new policy…”

6. Virtual prisons: how e-maps are curtailing our freedom http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727670.900-virtual-prisons-how-emaps-are-curtailing-our-freedom.html “…ELECTRONIC maps are arguably the quintessential innovation of 20th-century cartography. Although a few academic cartographers accord the map mystical powers, it is merely a tool, useful for good, evil or both, which citizens can resist or constrain - up to a point. The question is not whether e-maps will restrict where we go and what we do, but to what extent…Since 1900, we have used maps to exclude industry from residential neighbourhoods, ban new construction on floodplains, help delineate "historic" districts that constrain a homeowner's choice of paint colour or replacement windows, put limits on where and with what weapons we can hunt game, restrict travel by foreign diplomats and journalists, prevent sex offenders from living near schools and playgrounds, and keep aircraft a nautical mile away from a vice-president's weekend retreat…In 2010, however, restrictive cartography is on the verge of more invasive applications as electronic technology replaces graphic lines requiring conscious interpretation with invisible fences, erected by proactive, self-enforcing geographical restrictions. The most impressive examples, and the most frightening, reflect the integration of geographical information systems (GIS), the Global Positioning System (GPS), and wireless telecommunications. A tracking device can instantly report its location to a GIS that determines whether the person, car or ship under surveillance has entered a prohibited area. Depending on circumstances and severity, a future system might be able to debit an offender's bank account, transmit a vocal warning or electronic pinch, notify the police or military, disable an engine, or even release a soporific drug into the violator's bloodstream. Electronic tagging and tracking on an unprecedented level is virtually certain - and could happen very soon…”

7. Blizzard backs off real-name forum mandate http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20010198-1.html Game developer Blizzard has backed down on a plan to require users of its official online forums to register with real names, just days after announcing the move. The shift…followed a firestorm of criticism from users expressing privacy concerns. "We've been constantly monitoring the feedback you've given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums," Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, wrote in the Friday post…Morhaime stressed that the real-name requirement was not to be confused with the optional in-game Real ID system that's now live with World of Warcraft and launching soon with StarCraft II. That system is a voluntary, optional level of identity designed to keep players connected even outside of games with features such as cross-game and cross-realm chat and real names on friends lists…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

8. Galaxy Beam Projector Phone Looks Worth the Wait http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/200816/galaxy_beam_projector_phone_looks_worth_the_wait.html “…a built-in Pico projector is the smartest addition to a cell phone so far, especially for any company that provides instructor-led training, product demos, or sales presentations…Samsung…Android-based…Galaxy Beam is scheduled for release to StarHub customers in Singapore July 17…Samsung has not yet announced a release date or prices for the United States…the projector…has a viewing size of five to 50 inches…an 8MP camera with autofocus and flash, plus a front-facing VGA camera, and HD video recording…a 3.7 inch WVGA super AMOLED touch display, 16GB of internal memory with an additional 32GB through the microSD card slot…Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, wireless Internet tethering, a USB 2.0 port, and GPS…TV out and an FM radio…weighs only 155 gram…”

9. Woven electronics http://www.ethlife.ethz.ch/archive_articles/100701_smarte_textilien_per/index_EN Electrical engineers from ETH Zurich have devised intelligent textiles that already have electronic components such as sensors and conductive filaments woven into them. The advantage: the fabric can be mass-produced on conventional ribbon looms – and washed…for the most part the electronic parts have only been attached to or sewn into plain old clothes like coats or T-shirts – an endeavor ultimately doomed to fail because of one practical drawback: they’re difficult to wash. Moreover, it takes a lot of handiwork to produce them…Scientists from Professor Gerhard Tröster’s Wearable Computing Lab, however, have now gone one step further: they’ve developed a new technology to attach thin-film electronics and miniaturized, commercially available chips to plastic fibers. The researchers eventually succeeded in integrating a large number of microchips and other microelectronic elements directly into the architecture of the material…”

10. App Inventor is Android’s Build-Your-Own-App App http://www.pcworld.com/article/200902/android_gets_a_buildyourownapp_app.html Got an idea for a smartphone app? If you've got an Android phone you might be able to build it yourself, thanks to App Inventor for Android, a new Google Labs program for Windows, OS X, and Linux that's designed to make building Android programs as easy as piecing blocks together. Steve Lohr's story in the New York Times makes it sound sensational; here's a video from Google showing a lady creating her first App Inventor app…Google sees the program as an educational tool of particular interest to teachers and students. It's an exciting idea that's more than slightly reminiscent of HyperCard, the brilliant visual programming tool that was a big deal on the Mac more than twenty years ago, and which is missed to this day. HyperCard or something similar would be a boon on the iPhone -- even Steve Jobs has says he thinks so, although Apple apparently doesn't have any interest in building such an application itself, and new restrictions in the iOS developer agreement prevent apps developed with the HyperCard-like RunRev from being distributed on the App Store.…”

11. Preview the New MobileMe Calendar Beta http://www.apple.com/mobileme/news/2010/07/preview-the-new-mobileme-calendar-beta.html A completely new version of MobileMe Calendar is now available as a beta on me.com.

12. To sign up, go to me.com/calendar and click "Request an invitation." You will receive an email notification when you have been added to the beta…Here are some of the new features…Share calendars with family and friends…Publish a calendar for a group or team…Event invitations with RSVPs…Works on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac…”

13. Fring Overwhelmed by Video Calling, Temporarily Suspends Access to Skype http://erictric.com/2010/07/09/fring-overwhelmed-by-video-calling-temporarily-suspends-access-to-skype/ Yesterday, Erictric reported that Apple approved a Fring update that allows 2-way video calling to other mobile platforms over 3G. Apparently, the improved application has become a huge success, as the company briefly announced today on its blog that for the time being they are suspending access to third-party Skype in order “to free up capacity” for better Fring-to-Fring video calls. The company indicates that since they announced 2-way video calling over 3G yesterday, they have witnessed some network stress…”

14. Why I Turned In My iPhone and Went Android http://blog.louisgray.com/2010/07/why-i-turned-in-my-iphone-and-went.html For such a long-time Apple believer and Mac/iPhone customer, the idea of turning my back on Steve Jobs and crew, stopping my app store and media buying preferences almost entirely and choosing a divergent path is not one taken lightly. In the two months following Google I/O, I've talked about my looking at Android and how I think the mobile operating system is a real challenger to the iPhone…I have been publicly and openly thinking about moving off iPhone for more than six months…what I saw told me that the speed at which Android has improved and the speed at which new models are developed and released is far outpacing Apple…I kept running into ways to use my EVO where my previous generation iPhone could not keep up, and even my handling of the new iPhone 4 was not enough to make me feel I had chosen wrong…I also will never tell you that Android is perfect - in software or in hardware…But I don't feel that any of these bugs are permanent, nor are they reason to switch back…When I first discussed my thoughts on Android, I made comments saying that if I were a software developer looking to deploy a mobile app, I would look to code for Android first and iPhone and iPad second, to gain highly visible mindshare in a fast growing marketplace…The momentum is clear and the option of multiple choices is clear. If I like Android and hate my new carrier, Sprint, I can switch to Verizon and get the Incredible. If I have an aneurysm and love AT&T, I can get the Aria. If I want a small screen, I can do that. If I want a physical keyboard, I can find a device that does that. But for iPhone, I simply would have to take whatever Apple offers and believe that their choices are right for me…”

Open Source

15. TeamViewer 5.0 review http://www.linuxuser.co.uk/reviews/teamviewer-5-0-review/ A fantastic remote desktop app available for free (if you use it for non-commercial purposes). Some very advanced features, yet easy to use. A great option for the home user offering tech support to family and friends…Although it’s free for non-commercial users, every time you log out of a session you get a message to remind you. You then get directed to a webpage advertising its features and offering to sign you up for a newsletter…TeamViewer is a free remote desktop tool that has been around for a while on Windows and Mac OS. Now a Linux version is available. TeamViewer offers a bit more than just remote desktop sharing. It comes bundled with a host of other features such as the ability to manage share lists, record sessions and have voice conversations using VoIP…”

16. Linux game console adds GPU, accelerometers http://www.tuxmachines.org/node/46445 GamePark Holdings (GPH) is readying a new version of its GP2X handheld game console running open source Linux games. The "GP2X Caanoo" is equipped with a 533MHz ARM9 CPU and 3D-ready GPU, a 3.5-inch display, Wi-Fi, and an accelerometer with a vibration motor. The heir to GPH's previous, Linux-based GP2X "Wiz" game console, which in turn replaced other models, starting with the original GP2X, the GP2X Caanoo will ship at the end of the month, says Maxconsole.net, which posted specs for the device. The Caanoo will be available in three versions, ranging from a basic $120 model up to one equipped with a Wi-Fi-dongle version, games and accessories for $150, says the site. Engadget, citing the Maxconsole.net site, simply says the device will ship August 15 for $150…”

SkyNet

17. Google Maps Gets Bird's Eye View http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_maps_gets_birds_eye_view.php A few months ago, Google launched 45° imagery for select cities through its Google Maps API. In February, Google launched this new way to browse maps as an experimental feature in Google Maps Labs and starting today, this bird's eye view imagery will be available for all users by default. These high-resulution images - which are currently only available in a select number of cities in the U.S. and South Africa - will automatically appear once users zoom in to an area while in satellite mode. For Bing, a similar bird's eye view feature has long been one of the differentiating features of Microsoft's mapping product. For the time being, Bing's bird's eye view is available in more places, but otherwise, the feature sets of Google's and Microsoft's products are very similar. Just like Bing Map, Google also allows users to rotate images and see a location from different angles, for example. Overall, this is nice update to Google maps, as it allows users to zoom in closer and see buildings and other locations with more detail…”

18. Chrome OS Gets Ready for Gaming http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/chrome_os_gets_ready_for_gaming.php When Google's new Web-based operating system Chrome OS launches later this year, it may be ready to serve not only as a simple netbook and tablet OS, but also as an interface for playing casual games like those currently found on Apple's iPhone and iPad. On Apple mobile gadgets like the iPhone and iPod Touch, a combination of hardware-based motion sensors allow the device to know how you're holding it - up, down, sideways, etc. - and changes the orientation accordingly. And in the iPhone 4, a new gyroscope allows for additional motion-sensing capabilities, too, like the ability to track orientation, velocity and rotation…Web browsers, like IE, Chrome, Safari and Firefox, haven't traditionally been able to detect which way is up. That may soon change for Google Chrome, the browser that forms the core of the upcoming operating system of the same name - it's getting orientation capabilities that will tell apps running in the browser which way the device is being held…the orientation support now being added to Chrome would be "particularly useful" for mobile gaming. "For example, tilting a device can turn it into a steering wheel or a tabletop on which a marble rolls…”

19. Google quietly invests more than $100M in Zynga and prepares Google Games launch http://games.venturebeat.com/2010/07/10/google-quietly-invests-in-zynga-and-prepares-google-games-launch-report/ Google has reportedly secretly invested $100- $200 million in social gaming firm Zynga…The investment is on top of other deals that have brought Zynga almost $500 million in capital in the past year. The deal reportedly closed a month ago and is part of a strategic partnership still being negotiated. Google itself made the investment, not Google Ventures, and Zynga could be part of Google Games, a new platform launching later this year. Google Games will be part of a larger social network that Google is launching to compete with Facebook, and it will bring in users through all of Google’s different connections to users, such as Gmail. Hence, Google Games could become a very serious contender in the social game space in a short period of time…”

20. YouTube Leanback http://www.businessweek.com/idg/2010-07-09/youtube-leanback-hands-on.html YouTube's new Leanback service aims to become a fixture on your television by letting you watch an uninterrupted stream of full-screen YouTube videos in high definition. The beta service decides what to show you based on your YouTube account preferences, and you can use Leanback to watch your YouTube movie rentals obtained through the new YouTube Store. Leanback also offers a number of different video feeds organized by category if you get tired of the initial personalized video stream Leanback offers by default…Leanback is meant to be used on large screens like your television so…try this out on a larger screen like your Internet-capable television. To start using Leanback, point your Web browser to youtube.com/leanback…Leanback has a number of different video categories, including sports, science & technology, film & animation, YouTube movie rentals, how-to videos, and others…”

21. Google Maps Now Shortens Your Maps URLs http://erictric.com/2010/07/10/google-maps-now-shortens-your-maps-urls/ “…you’ve just found exactly what you were looking for on Google Maps, and now you’re trying to send it over to a friend. The problem: the URL to the map is about as long as Gone With The Wind. You waste precious seconds heading over to a URL shortening website — or worse — you email that URL as it is. Your friend hates you…Google Maps now allows you to shorten Google Maps URLs…in the following format: http://goo.gl/maps/xxxx...To enable the feature, you must click the Labs button within Google Maps…”

22. Google launches Android app to find empty parking spots http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/09/google-parking-open-spot/ Sick of circling the city streets in your car, looking for a spot — any spot — that you can squeeze into? Google may have the answer, or at least the very beginnings of one, though it’s going to heavily rely on the good deeds of your peers to be a success. Meet Google Open Spot, the latest addition to Google Labs, which has just released a new application for Android phones…fire up the Android application (it doesn’t look like there’s a web-based version yet), and you’ll see a map with nearby open parking spots marked with colored dots. These spots were placed by other users, who are supposed to hit the app’s ‘Mark a Spot’ button when they leave a crowded parking lot or happen to see an open spot as they walk by. The color of each available spot is tied to how long ago it was marked by another user — a spot that’s 10-20 minutes old will look yellow, while a spot marked within the last five minutes will be bright red. After 20 minutes spots are removed from the map. You’re able to see parking spots within a .9 mile radius of your current location…”

General Technology

23. Netgear's ReadyNAS Ultra Redefines the Role of Network Storage http://www.pcworld.com/article/200743/how_netgears_readynas_ultra_redefines_the_role_of_network_storage.html “…Netgear…ReadyNAS Ultra series of network-attached storage…has grabbed my attention…The ReadyNAS Ultra and Ultra Plus series…support up to 2TB hard drives today, and will support 3TB when they come out…By allowing a TiVo to use the additional storage of the ReadyNAS Ultra, Netgear has busted wide-open a heretofore strict, and senseless limitation that has constrained the concept of a locally-based home entertainment network…Sharing music, photos, user-generated videos across a network is neither new nor difficult. But how many times have you looked at your DVR and lamented that you had to delete one thing to make room for another? I've heard tale of epic family battles, not far off from those clever commercials, started over the question of whose content gets cut first from the DVR…The holy grail among DVRs has been finding a way to offload the content one wants to hold. And with the Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra and TiVo, TV lovers finally have a way to do so. It's even plausible to attach another USB drive to dangle off of the ReadyNAS Ultra, which opens up the concept of developing content libraries on separate hard drives…”

24. Computer Mouse Turns Invisible http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/07/computer-mouse-invisible/ “…researchers at MIT have found a method to let users click and scroll exactly the same way they would with a computer mouse, without the device actually being there. Cup your palm, move it around on a table and a cursor on the screen hovers. Tap on the table like you would click a real mouse, and the computer responds. It’s one step beyond cordless. It’s an invisible mouse. The project, called “Mouseless,” uses an infrared laser beam and camera to track the movements of the palm and fingers and translate them into computer commands. “Like many other projects in the past, including the Nintendo Power Glove and the Fingerworks iGesture Pad, this attempts to see how we can use new technology to control old technology,” says Daniel Wigdor, a user experience architect for Microsoft who hasn’t worked directly on the project. “It’s just an intermediate step to where we want to be.”…In the case of the Mouseless project, the infrared laser and camera are embedded in the computer. When a user cups their hand as if a physical mouse was present under their palm, the laser beam lights up the hand that is in contact with the table. The infrared camera detects this and interprets the movements. A working prototype of the Mouseless system costs approximately $20 to build, says Pranav Mistry, who is leading the project…”

25. Students, Meet Your New Teacher, Mr. Robot http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/science/11robots.html “…The two hit it off quickly — unusual for the 6-year-old, who has autism — and the boy is imitating his playmate’s every move, now nodding his head, now raising his arms…Yet soon he begins to withdraw…the companion, a three-foot-tall robot being tested at the University of Southern California, maintains eye contact and performs another move, raising one arm up high. Up goes the boy’s arm — and now he is smiling at the machine…So far, the teaching has been very basic, delivered mostly in experimental settings, and the robots are still works in progress, a hackers’ gallery of moving parts that, like mechanical savants, each do some things well at the expense of others…Researchers say the pace of innovation is such that these machines should begin to learn as they teach, becoming the sort of infinitely patient, highly informed instructors that would be effective in subjects like foreign language or in repetitive therapies used to treat developmental problems like autism…these advances have stirred dystopian visions, along with the sort of ethical debate usually confined to science fiction. “I worry that if kids grow up being taught by robots and viewing technology as the instructor,” said Mitchel Resnick, head of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “they will see it as the master…”

26. New biofuels processing method for mobile facilities http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/100706AgrawalBiomass.html “…Chemical engineers at Purdue University have developed a new method to process agricultural waste and other biomass into biofuels, and they are proposing the creation of mobile processing plants that would rove the Midwest to produce the fuels…"Material like corn stover and wood chips has low energy density," Agrawal said. "It makes more sense to process biomass into liquid fuel with a mobile platform and then take this fuel to a central refinery for further processing before using it in internal combustion engines." The new method, called fast-hydropyrolysis-hydrodeoxygenation, works by adding hydrogen into the biomass-processing reactor. The hydrogen for the mobile plants would be derived from natural gas or the biomass itself…H2Bioil -- pronounced H Two Bio Oil -- has been studied extensively through modeling, and experiments are under way at Purdue to validate the concept…”

27. Virtual reality you can reach out and touch http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm?section=news&tpl=article&BrowsingType=Features&ID=91335 “…advances in haptic technology and a new approach to generating virtual reality (VR) content are helping to create virtual experiences that are far more realistic and immersive than anything achieved before…With funding from the EU in the Immersence project, they developed innovative haptic and multi-modal interfaces, new signal processing techniques and a pioneering method to generate VR objects from real-world objects in real time. The latter technology, developed at the Computer Vision Laboratory of Swiss project partner ETH Zürich, uses a 3D scanner and advanced modelling system to create a virtual representation of a real object, such as a cup, box or, in one experiment, a green fluffy toy frog. The 3D digital representation of the object can then be transmitted to someone at a remote location, who, by wearing VR goggles and touching a haptic interface, can move, prod and poke it…the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, is developing a haptic device with two contact points that should make it possible to grasp an object with a virtual hand…Immersence researchers did not stop at human-object interaction, however. Technische Universität München also developed technology to enable human-human interaction in a virtual environment…they used a mobile robotic platform with two arms to serve as the dance partner for a real human dancer. By wearing VR goggles, the user would see a dancer of the opposite sex and could dance with them by holding the “hands” of the robot…Gamers will obviously be delighted by the developments, which promise to bring a whole new dimension and realism to VR environments. Besides entertainment, however, there are many serious applications for haptic VR technology. Doctors, for example, could use it to treat patients remotely, physiotherapists could use it for training and rehabilitation and industrial designers could collaborate remotely by virtually “teleporting” touchable digital mock-ups of designs over the internet…”

Leisure & Entertainment

28. Amazon Kindle dual-screen e-reader patent granted http://www.engadget.com/2010/07/06/amazon-kindle-dual-screen-e-reader-patent-granted-barnes-and-nobl/ Looks like the battle for e-reader dominance between Amazon and Barnes & Noble could soon expand beyond the recent spate of price drops and into the courtroom as well: the USPTO just granted a 2006 Amazon patent on e-readers with secondary LCD displays (like the original Kindle's scroller-navigation panel), and several of the claims are potentially broad enough to cover the Nook and many other devices with both electronic paper and LCD displays. What's more, Amazon agreed not to file for any corresponding foreign patents during the four-year approval process and thus wasn't required to publish the patent application -- meaning this is likely a complete surprise to the entire industry. Yeah, it's juicy. Here's one of the claims that could cause problems for Barnes & Noble -- in plain English, it potentially covers any device with both an electronic paper display and a second smaller LCD display next to it…”

29. Apple Records goes digital, but still no Beatles http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20009758-261.html One of the great mysteries involving Apple Records, the music label created by the Beatles, is why the band's music is still not available online--legally. Perhaps that could change as Apple Records has at least now for the first time made some of the label's catalog available for download. In partnership with EMI Music, Apple Records announced Tuesday that it is releasing 15 remastered albums that it will also make available for download on October 26. Among the acts whose music is being released by Apple Records, the chief division of the Beatles' primary business entity, Apple Corps, are Badfinger, James Taylor, and Billy Preston. Okay, but what anybody who knows anything about Apple Corps knows is that what people really want from the company is "Help," and "Across the Universe," and "Yesterday," and all the Beatles' music…”

30. Brain-controlled games boarding planes soon? http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20009785-1.html Ever found yourself struggling to stabilize that mobile device for optimum in-flight entertainment? Toronto-based Interaxon says it may have an alternative in the form of thought-controlled in-flight games that let you keep your hands (and gadget stands) tucked away…soon enough, you may be playing the likes of Mario Kart on your way from coast to coast--with brain power alone. Interaxon's system measures brain waves through electroencephalography (EEG) technology, reacting to alpha waves associated with relaxation and beta waves linked to concentration. As users relax or focus their thoughts, the interface translates their brains' electrical activity into a control signal the computer can understand. Earlier this year, visitors to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver got to test a similar Interaxon system for controlling displays at one of three light shows. At Niagara Falls, for example, they had 15 seconds to harness their brain waves to choose the color for each of seven lights illuminating Horseshoe Falls. The in-flight system involves a headset, a display attached to the seat in front of the passenger, and games specifically designed for use at 35,000 feet. It was shown off last month at On the Wings of Innovation, a global aerospace symposium organized by the Ontario Aerospace Council…”

31. Canon Wonder Camera Concept http://www.gizmag.com/canon-wonder-camera-concept/15591/ “…the star of the show, was the Canon Wonder Camera, one of the first times we’ve ever seen a “concept camera”…Concept to market times are now measured in months rather than years…The rate at which digital cameras are progressing in capability is perhaps even more breathtaking than computers – seemingly each month the form factor for any given category gets smaller, while resolution and zoom get larger, there are new and better and more image stabilization technologies, more intelligent algorithms and more processing power to fix human error and storage capabilities are rapidly progressing towards effective infinity…only battery technology is lagging behind in this area – as a traveling journalist I carry more batteries than memory cards these days because I’m far more likely to run out of battery than memory space…The Wonder Camera is Canon’s vision and ALL those same aforementioned trends are evident, extrapolated to outrageous levels…most of the technologies envisioned actually appeared to work, or had been synthesized so they appeared to work so that we could see what the future might hold. Those technologies are all part of the Wonder Camera: still image and video imaging are combined – with such massive resolution, you can simply pick out the exact still image you want at any time…”

32. MP3Tunes Alternative To Paid Streaming Music: “Buy Anywhere, Listen Everywhere” http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/12/mp3tunes-buy-anywhere-listen-everywhere/ “…MP3Tunes, an online music locker…launched in late 2005…the service has 500,000 users, and has…a variety of new products to help those users get access to their music from almost any Internet connected device. The core of the service is a music locker. It finds music on your hard drive and then backs it up online over a period of days. You can then log in and stream that music from a browser…It will also sync your music across devices, making sure, for example, that iTunes has the same song library on each of your computers. It will also grab those iTunes playlists and make them available elsewhere as well…the best part of MP3Tunes are the mobile apps. The Android application in particular is extremely useful. If you buy a song on the Android via the built in Amazon store, for example, you can easily upload that song quickly to MP3Tunes, and then have it available on, say your iPhone or iPod touch (as well as your desktop and everywhere else)…”

Economy and Technology

33. Deals Galore, Competitors Abound: A Primer On Groupon-Like Startups http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/11/groupon-competitors-guide/ “…group-buying sites and other companies that use discount-deals as the core of their business have become a red-hot trend, with Groupon spreading through cities around the world at a frantic pace and countless competitors and clones trying to catch some of the spotlight. Perhaps the reason for the sites’ traction is that the group-buying model is easy to understand. For those that haven’t tried them, companies like Groupon find local restaurants, spas, or other businesses that are willing to provide large discounts, provided that their name is spread to a number of new customers. Groupon advertises the business by offering the coupons online, and takes a cut of the money spent on them. However, there are plenty of variations on the model and the differences can be confusing, so we’re going to give a primer on some of them below…”

34. Chicago’s Excelerate Labs Graduates Nine Startups http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/11/nine-startups-graduate-from-chicagos-excelerate-labs/ We recently wrote about the launch of a Y Combinator and TechStars-like startup incubator in Chicago, Excelerate Labs. The program’s nine fledgling startups are set to graduate from the inaugural session of the incubator in a few weeks. Here’s a brief look at the startups that will be graduating from the incubator…FanGo Software Systems …Noblivity…PVPower…WeGather’s goal is to offer religious institutions a custom based software to create a community website to engage participants. The SaaS platform helps increase donations, improves volunteer participation, centralizes e-communications, and helps create calendars…”

35. Yahoo Hands Over Property Sales Listings to Zillow http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20100709/tc_pcworld/yahoohandsoverpropertysaleslistingstozillow Yahoo's real estate site will rely exclusively on Zillow for sales listings…The deal…will bring Zillow's approximately 4 million property sales listings to Yahoo Real Estate later this year, but it will not affect the way Zillow's own Web site works…The deal will benefit real estate advertisers, such as brokers, home builders and homeowners, by streamlining the ad purchase process for the two sites and offering greater exposure…The agreement between Yahoo and Zillow doesn't include rental properties…In May, Zillow, with 7 million unique visitors, and Yahoo Real Estate, with 6.1 million, ranked second and third, respectively, in the U.S. real estate category, behind leader Move, which drew 12.4 million to its network of sites, which also includes Realtor.com and Moving.com…”

36. EcoMotors Revs Its Engine With $23.5 Million Series B Funding http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/12/ecomotors-revs-engine-to-23-5-million-series-b-funding/ EcoMotorsannounced today a $23.5 million series B funding round from Khosla Venturesand Bill Gatesthat the company will use to build and test its eco-friendly engine, known as an Opposed Piston Opposed Cylinder (OPOC) engine. EcoMotors makes engines that run on diesel or gasoline but have greater power density, weigh less and produce lower carbon emissions than conventional engines. OPOC engines are being developed for passenger vehicles, as well as for commercial vehicles, aerospace and power generators…”

Civilian Aerospace

37. Sky not the limit for rocket maker http://coloradocommunitynewspapers.com/articles/2010/07/11/highlands_ranch_herald/news/15_cm_rocket_hr.txt It was 1997 when Jerry Larson and a friend set their sights on becoming the first amateur team to send a rocket into space. Nine years later, they would realize their dream…A company he started in his home now has become the talk of the aerospace industry, and hundreds of educators, business associates and military officials are seeking the services of UP Aerospace. Larson is especially proud of the impact his launches at Spaceport America in New Mexico have had on school children…The red tape and costs associated with most scientific space experiments prevent most educational institutions from launching into space, but UP Aerospace has single-handedly made such a thing accessible and affordable. “We’ve had grade school kids put experiments on board. That’s unheard of. Grade school kids don’t launch stuff into space,” said Larson, who studied aerospace engineering, rocket propulsion and space flight dynamics at the University of Washington…He later adds: “We kind of keep trying to push the envelope of what we can do. We’re blazing new trails all the time.”…As technology improved, Larson seized the chance to utilize everyday electronics such as laptop computers to his advantage. His government connections and credentials — he has a high explosives permit — enabled him to create a company that could operate on relatively little money and with few employees…”

38. Japanese "space yacht" IKAROS proves photon acceleration works http://en.rian.ru/science/20100710/159753904.html “…experimental spacecraft IKAROS started to accelerate after unfurling its kite-like solar sail, proving that the new fuel-saving propulsion technique is no science fiction. On May 21, Japan launched IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun), dubbed a "space yacht" for its 200-square-meter sail made of 0.0075 mm-thin polyimide resin, which uses solar radiation to get propulsion. It finished deploying the sail a month ago…The spacecraft is now located 11 million miles from Earth and is heading towards Venus. Upon reaching the planet's orbit it will continue a three-year journey to reach the other side of the Sun. The far-reaching goal of the project is to build a fuel-effective "hybrid" engine, combining photon acceleration and ion propulsion…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

39. Kudos for CUDA http://www.hpcwire.com/features/Kudos-for-CUDA-97889444.html It's been almost three years since GPU computing broke into the mainstream of HPC with the introduction of NVIDIA's CUDA API in September 2007. Adoption of the technology since then has proceeded at a surprisingly strong and steady pace. Many organizations that began with small pilot projects a year or two ago have moved on to enterprise deployment, and GPU accelerated machines are now represented on the TOP500 list starting at position two. The relatively-rapid adoption of CUDA by a community not known for the rapid adoption of much of anything is a noteworthy signal. Contrary to the accepted wisdom that GPU computing is more difficult, I believe its success thus far signals that it is no more complicated than good CPU programming. Further, it more clearly and succinctly expresses the parallelism of a large class of problems leading to code that is easier to maintain, more scalable and better positioned to map to future many-core architectures…”

40. Intel defends iCore performance vs parallel processing http://www.infoworld.com/d/hardware/intel-defends-icore-performance-vs-parallel-processing-410 Intel tried to push back at coverage of a recently published paper that found its Core i7 processors couldn't match the parallel processing performance of an Nvidia GPU, saying its rival took the findings of the paper out of context in a blog post that trumpeted the results…However, the paper's findings were clear. Titled "Debunking the 100x GPU vs. CPU myth: An evaluation of throughput computing on CPU and GPU," the paper was written by Intel engineers and sought to discredit claims that GPUs outperform CPUs by a wide margin in parallel processing applications. Nevertheless, the paper still found that one of Intel's fastest quad-core desktop processors, the 3.2GHz Core i7 960, was markedly slower than an older Nvidia graphics card, the GeForce GTX280, in benchmark tests conducted by the engineers…”


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