2010/12/21

NEW NET Issues List for 21 Dec 2010

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 21 December 2010, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering. This week we're at Sergio's Restaurant, 2639 South Oneida Street, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

1. Snapshot of the Public BitTorrent Landscape http://torrentfreak.com/a-snapshot-of-the-public-bittorrent-landscape-101214/ In a few months BitTorrent will celebrate its tenth anniversary, and in these years it has become the preferred technology to share files online…2005, the BitTorrent landscape was totally different from what it is today. There were just a few hundred thousands files being shared, compared to the millions of files that are out there today…today we present a snapshot of the BitTorrent landscape at the end of 2010…the number of public torrents exceeds at least 10 million…close to 30 million peers were sharing a torrent at the time this snapshot was taken…video content is by far the most popular category on BitTorrent. The ‘video’ category contains more than half of all torrents available, and two thirds of all active BitTorrent users are downloading or sharing video content…all available files on BitTorrent add up to a massive 12,037.9 TB…Movies are by far the largest ‘video’ subcategory with 2,012,432 torrents, followed by TV which lists 1,011,607 torrent files…Movies have 7,173,330 seeders and 2,851,119 leechers…One of the categories that has been growing quickly in the last year is ‘books’. We currently count 399,267 available ebook torrents (including magazines), with 662,228 seeders and 172,811 leechers. Ebooks are followed by audio books, with 81,841 torrent files and comics with 15,774 available torrents…”

2. What’s going to happen with Delicious? http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/20/delicious-yahoo-social-bookmarking On Thursday a leaked screenshot from an internal Yahoo meeting revealed that the company proposed to "sunset" its popular social bookmarking service Delicious. Users on Twitter and across the blogosphere went into meltdown: what would that mean to their carefully curated bookmarks? Would everything be lost? A campaign to #saveDelicious sprang up immediately and already there has been a petition to open-source it; a suggestion of a crowdsourced buy-out and even some calls for the library of Congress to archive it. So what is all the fuss about?…”

3. Net Traffic, Display Realtime Internet Speed http://www.ghacks.net/2010/12/20/net-traffic-display-realtime-internet-speed/ What’s the current speed of your Internet connection? You probably know the maximum download and upload speed but it is harder to tell how fast you are currently uploading or downloading to the Internet. Unless of course, you are using a program like a speed test to show you exactly how fast it is. Then again, speed tests are flawed as well as they depend on a lot of factors. Net Traffic, a free portable application for Windows is a realtime Internet speed monitor that display the download and upload speed of a selected network adapter. Internet speed is not the best term, as it is quite possible to monitor traffic in a local network as well…”

4. Dropbox Hits 1.0, Adds Features http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/17/dropbox-hits-1-0-adds-features/ I’d like to extend hearty congratulations to the Dropbox team for doing what many web-based companies might avoid for years on end: putting out a 1.0 product. It’s a bit arbitrary, of course — this useful and popular service has been running great for quite a long time now, and the “beta” tag has always seemed mysterious to me. But they’ve done what they felt needed to be done to justify dropping it, and the improvements are substantial. The most important new feature is probably the selective syncing: you can now select which computers sync with which folders, so you don’t need to worry about your off-site HD footage backup saturating the shabby wi-fi at a coffee shop. I think this makes it into a much more versatile tool, and I plan to use it more extensively now that I don’t have to worry about my PC desktop contaminating my Mac laptop with uselessly synced OS-specific junk, and vice versa…”

5. Facebook Ramps Up Big E-Commerce Drive http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2010/tc20101217_877527.htm Facebook is ramping up efforts to entice companies such as Delta Air Lines (DAL) and J.C. Penney (JCP) to sell wares on its pages and convert more of its 500 million users into online shoppers. Managers at the Palo Alto (Calif.)-based social network have met in the past month with more than 20 companies, said David Fisch, who runs a newly formed commerce partnerships group at Facebook. The aim is to help retailers set up shop on its pages and build tools that let Web users interact while buying. Facebook is adding e-commerce features to attract users, keep them logged-on longer, and generate higher advertising sales. The effort may turn the company into an online shopping alternative to retailers such as eBay (EBAY), says Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research (FORR). "It's not natural to go to Facebook to shop—yet," says Mulpuru, whose firm is based in Cambridge, Mass. "But it's not a long step…”

6. The most reliable (and unreliable) blogging services on the Web http://royal.pingdom.com/2010/12/17/the-most-reliable-and-unreliable-blogging-services-2/ Blogging services have been around for a long time, with pioneers like Blogger paving the way for WordPress.com and more recent arrivals like Tumblr and Posterous. There are millions upon millions of blogs out there, many of them residing on these services…We included Blogger, WordPress.com, Typepad, Tumblr and Posterous in this survey. There are of course other services out there as well, but we chose to focus on these since it’s quite likely that if you’re currently on a blogging service, you’re on one of these five. For each blogging service, we monitored the uptime of the homepage and four individual blogs, so we could see how the service as a whole performed. For the details, check out our “Methodology” section at the bottom of this post. The reliability winner(s). The winner was without a doubt Google’s Blogger. The Blogger blogs didn’t have any downtime whatsoever during the two months we monitored them, followed by WordPress.com which had very little downtime. Typepad deserves an honorable mention here as well. Posterous had somewhat mixed results, but overall receives a passing grade. Tumblr was the only service in the test that truly failed…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

7. Conspiracy Theory time: former contractor says FBI put back door in OpenBSD http://www.osnews.com/story/24136/_FBI_Added_Secret_Backdoors_to_OpenBSD_IPSEC_ “…OpenBSD's Theo de Raadt has received an email in which it was revealed to him that ten years ago, the FBI paid several open source developers to implement hidden backdoors in OpenBSD's IPSEC stack. De Raadt decided to publish the email for all to see, so that the code in question can be reviewed…De Raadt received the email from Gregory Perry…Perry did some consulting work for the FBI's GSA Technical Support Center…My NDA with the FBI has recently expired, and I wanted to make you aware of the fact that the FBI implemented a number of backdoors and side channel key leaking mechanisms into the OCF, for the express purpose of monitoring the site to site VPN encryption system implemented by EOUSA, the parent organization to the FBI," Perry details in the email…This is also why several inside FBI folks have been recently advocating the use of OpenBSD for VPN and firewalling implementations in virtualized environments," he adds…the code has gone through several revisions…but still, De Raadt wants it analysed…I am making it public so that (a) those who use the code can audit it for these problems, (b) those that are angry at the story can take other actions, (c) if it is not true, those who are being accused can defend themselves…” [two interesting questions about this: 1.) Can the open source/BSD people figure out if there’s a backdoor in OpenBSD, and, 2.) If they can find a backdoor now, why didn’t someone see it earlier – ed.]

8. Looking for facts: The Internet Goes to War? http://asert.arbornetworks.com/2010/12/the-internet-goes-to-war/ “…the above headlines refer to the rash of DDoS attacks both against the Wikileaks web site and the retaliatory strikes against hosting and commercial institutions that severed ties with the organization…are we now in a permanent state of cyber-war?...I’ll compare the Wikileaks and retaliatory DDoS attacks to historical baselines of attack activity and discuss broader DDoS trends…getting accurate data about Internet attacks can be a challenge…In one instance, two engineers at the same ISP debated the largest observed botnet attacking their company — one estimated the size at a few thousand hosts while the other at millions…when pressed on the source of their data, both of these engineers readily admitted they were really just guessing…This blog post provides a first look at quantitative measurements of over 5,000 confirmed (via operator classification or mitigation status) attacks over the last year across 37 large carriers and content providers around the world…in 2010, we observed a number of DDoS attacks in the 50+ Gbps range. These large flooding attacks often exceed the inbound aggregate bandwidth capacity of data centers and carrier backbone links (often OC192 / 10 Gbps)…carriers generally need specialized, high speed mitigation infrastructure and sometimes the cooperation of other providers to block the attack traffic…hard to imagine that 400 Mbps was an impressive attack back in 2002…service or application level attacks may focus on a series of web or API calls that force an expensive database transaction or calls to slow storage servers. The attackers then use botnets to inundate the web service with thousands of clients issuing a steady stream of these particularly expensive web / API calls. Other application attacks attempt to overwhelm SIP, HTTP or TCP state…Unlike massive DDoS traffic floods, application attacks can be far more subtle…if we’re in a Cyber-War, then very large (50+ Gbps) traffic floods and sophisticated application attacks are the front-lines…the question of Wikileaks and the retaliatory hactivist attacks. Were these attacks massive high-end flooding DDoS or very sophisticated application level attacks? Neither…most of the attacks over the last week were both relatively small and unsophisticated…the attacks were unremarkable…The DDoS traffic (in red) never grew beyond 3-4 Gbps…more of an annoyance than an imminent critical infrastructure threat…By the end of the week, Anonymous followers had mostly abandoned their attack plans as ineffective…Most volunteers clearly did not realize the tools do not anonymize their PC source IP address…In the specific case of the Wikileaks retaliatory attacks, we believe most of the traffic did not spoof and used the actual sources IPs…”

9. Appeals court: warrant required before Feds can read e-mail http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/12/breaking-news-eff-victory-appeals-court-holds In a landmark decision issued today in the criminal appeal of U.S. v. Warshak, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the government must have a search warrant before it can secretly seize and search emails stored by email service providers…As the Court held today, Given the fundamental similarities between email and traditional forms of communication [like postal mail and telephone calls], it would defy common sense to afford emails lesser Fourth Amendment protection....[T]he police may not storm the post office and intercept a letter, and they are likewise forbidden from using the phone system to make a clandestine recording of a telephone call--unless they get a warrant, that is. It only stands to reason that, if government agents compel an ISP to surrender the contents of a subscriber's emails, those agents have thereby conducted a Fourth Amendment search, which necessitates compliance with the warrant requirement…Today's decision is the only federal appellate decision currently on the books that squarely rules on this critically important privacy issue, an issue made all the more important by the fact that current federal law--in particular, the Stored Communications Act--allows the government to secretly obtain emails without a warrant in many situations…”

10. MSE 2.0 arrives with heuristic scanning, network traffic inspection http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2010/12/mse-20-arrives-with-heuristic-scanning-network-traffic-inspection.ars Following a four-month beta program, Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) 2.0 has been released. The new version significantly revamps the heuristic scanning engine, adds Windows Firewall integration as well as network traffic inspection. The update unquestionably makes MSE, which has already become very popular due to its quiet but effective ways, even more of a must-have for Windows users. MSE has always been very good at finding and removing malware, but it has relied mainly on antimalware definitions. The improved heuristic engine makes it even better at detecting threats; at the same time, we expect the number of false positives to slightly increase as well. The new Windows Firewall integration is a minor improvement: it lets you tweak Microsoft's firewall from inside MSE…”

11. Top 5 Security Threats in HTML5 http://www.esecurityplanet.com/features/article.php/3916381/Top-5-Security-Threats-in-HTML5.htm Somehow technology seems to evolve at a rapid pace, even when the standards bodies that help define it do not. Consider that most of today's websites are built on HTML4, a standard that was introduced in 1997. In the thirteen years since, the way we use the Web has changed dramatically, even if the underlying standard has not. To bridge the gap, Web developers have adopted and embraced a variety of additional technologies, everything from using client-side JavaScript to build needed features, relying on server-side scripts to process data in ways the browser could not, and using third-party plug-ins, such as Flash, to extend the browser even further. All of these developments reflect the shift from browser as document delivery platform to browser as Web application platform. Now, with the nearly-complete standard for HTML5 being implemented (at least in part) in the latest or beta versions of all the major browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera, many of the advanced Web app features developers need will be available in native HTML. But with any major introduction of new features, HTML5 also brings with it potential security vulnerabilities – which is not to say that HTML5 is "flawed," but that, invariably, there will be new attack vectors for hackers to exploit. Some originate from elements of the standard itself, some from implementations of the standard in each browser, and some from the care that developers do (or do not) take in building their HTML5 code…”

12. Tracking Trick Shows the Web Where You Are http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/26914/ “…Using nothing more than the unique number assigned to every Internet connection, websites could determine whether you're logging on at home, at work, or a travel location like an airport or hotel, researchers at Microsoft have shown. They say the technique could target advertisements more precisely—or improve the security of Web services by identifying users as legitimate according to their location. Websites commonly use the numbers known as Internet protocol (IP) addresses to approximate the physical location of visitors (visit this site to see the location guessed from your IP address). The method, which is typically accurate to the level of a city, lets advertisers target people with local deals. Until now, though, IP addresses have not been used to determine what kind of place the person is connecting from. Researchers at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley used a data set of IP addresses collected from logs of updates to an unnamed widely used software package and from log-ins to an unnamed popular webmail service. Tracking user locations by IP address could help advertisers sidestep suggested features of the "do not track" option that Congress is considering as a way to let people opt out of tracking by advertisers…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

13. Google Blog Post Protests Carriers' Android Lockdowns http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2010/12/its-not-rooting-its-openness.html “…The Nexus S, like the Nexus One before it, is designed to allow enthusiasts to install custom operating systems. Allowing your own boot image on a pure Nexus S is as simple as running fastboot oem unlock. It should be no surprise that modifying the operating system can give you root access to your phone…Legitimately gaining root access to your device is a far cry from most rooting exploits. Traditional rooting attacks are typically performed by exploiting an unpatched security hole on the device. Rooting is not a feature of a device; rather, it is the active exploitation of a known security hole. Android has a strong security strategy, backed by a solid implementation…all Android applications are sandboxed from each other, helping to ensure that a malicious or buggy application cannot interfere with another. All applications are required to declare the permissions they use, ensuring the user is in control of the information they share…Unfortunately, until carriers and manufacturers provide an easy method to legitimately unlock devices, there will be a natural tension between the rooting and security communities. We can only hope that carriers and manufacturers will recognize this, and not force users to choose between device openness and security. It’s possible to design unlocking techniques that protect the integrity of the mobile network, the rights of content providers, and the rights of application developers…”

14. Airport Apps Put You First in Line http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/travel/19prac-travelapps.html “…Holiday travel is brutal. Security lines are longer. Planes are more crowded. The battle for storage space heats up as travelers vie to stuff all those gift-laden bags in overhead bins. And if bad weather hits, your delayed or canceled flight may make you tardy for Christmas or New Year’s dinner — that is, if you even make it out of the airport. This year, the experience may be even more intense. Over the holidays, 43.6 million passengers are expected to travel on United States carriers, up about 3 percent from last year, according to the Air Transport Association of America, the industry trade group. Still, holiday travel doesn’t have to be totally miserable. While the usual groundwork — showing up early with boarding passes in hand and packing as lightly as possible — still applies, an array of travel applications for smartphones can help you tackle just about any problem that might arise at or on your way to the airport. So before you leave home this year, take a moment to download a few of these to help you navigate the holiday crush…”

15. 50 Android Apps for the Mobile Knowledge Worker http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/mowi/article.php/3917851/50-Android-Apps-for-the-Mobile-Knowledge-Worker.htm Android apps can make all the difference for today knowledge worker. Today's staffer can be at the office one day, at a conference the next and working from a remote office the day after that. The right Android apps can help, even if you're just taking work from your desk to the conference room and back. Your Android phone can be an invaluable tool that helps you manage your news feeds, monitor the weather, find the sport scores, track finances and monitor appointments. Here's a list of 50 of the best Android apps for tracking, managing and updating your information…”

Open Source

16. Humble Indie Bundle #2 Just Made One Million Bucks http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=ODkzNg “…the Humble Indie Bundle #2…crossed the million dollar USD mark. There's still about two days and eighteen hours left for this seven day event where you can pay whatever you want (literally) for a collection of five indie games: Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos, and Revenge of the Titans. The Humble Indie Bundle #2 is following in the steps of the original bundle that also earned more than a million dollars for its developers and charity combined…The $1,000,000 in sales for the second bundle are from over 131,000 sales…The Linux user is paying nearly $14 for the bundle while Windows users are paying the least at about six and a half dollars and the Mac OS X gamers are paying about two dollars more than the Microsoft gamers…”

17. Tiny Core Linux 3.4 arrives http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Tiny-Core-Linux-3-4-arrives-1156392.html Tiny Core lead developer Robert Shingledecker has released version 3.4 of Tiny Core Linux. Based on the 2.6.33.3 Linux kernel, Tiny Core Linux 3.4 features a variety of updates, including additional options in the mount tool (mnttool). Other changes include improvements to AppsAudit, adding new multi-select extension updates and MD5 checking, as well as new wallpaper gradients and an updated colour preview. The Fluff file manager has also been updated to version 0.8.5, which includes integrated file type and associations, as well as several user interface (UI) improvements. Tiny Core is a minimal Linux distribution that weighs in at just over 10 MB in size. The "tiny frugal" desktop distribution features the BusyBox tool collection and a minimal graphics system based on Tiny X and JWM. The core can run entirely in RAM, allowing a very fast boot. With the help of online repositories, Tiny Core Linux can be expanded to include additional applications…”

18. Android will be using ext4 starting with Gingerbread http://ldn.linuxfoundation.org/blog-entry/android-will-be-using-ext4-starting-with-gingerbreadThere are two popular technologies for running remote graphical desktops: Virtual Network Computing (VNC) and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). VNC uses the Remote FrameBuffer (RFB) protocol. It's platform-independent and there are open source server and client applications for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. The RDP was developed by Microsoft and is the only remote desktop protocol used by default in Windows. At first glance, using VNC due to its open source benefits, platform-independence, and feature advantages might seem the best. However, RDP might be the best solution, even on Linux machines, if your organization is primarily a Microsoft shop. Installing an RDP server or client on a handful of Linux machines is likely easier than deploying VNC servers and clients on your entire Windows fleet. In this tutorial, we'll see how to get RDP support in Linux. We'll install a RDP server so Windows users can use the native Remote Desktop Connection client to remotely connect. Then we'll install an RDP client so Linux users can remotely connect to Windows, or other Linux machines...”

19. Setting Up Remote Graphical Desktops on Linux http://www.linuxplanet.com/linuxplanet/tutorials/7249/1/ There are two popular technologies for running remote graphical desktops: Virtual Network Computing (VNC) and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). VNC uses the Remote FrameBuffer (RFB) protocol. It's platform-independent and there are open source server and client applications for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. The RDP was developed by Microsoft and is the only remote desktop protocol used by default in Windows. At first glance, using VNC due to its open source benefits, platform-independence, and feature advantages might seem the best. However, RDP might be the best solution, even on Linux machines, if your organization is primarily a Microsoft shop. Installing an RDP server or client on a handful of Linux machines is likely easier than deploying VNC servers and clients on your entire Windows fleet. In this tutorial, we'll see how to get RDP support in Linux. We'll install a RDP server so Windows users can use the native Remote Desktop Connection client to remotely connect. Then we'll install an RDP client so Linux users can remotely connect to Windows, or other Linux machines…”

SkyNet

20. Gmail Users to Get Free Phone Calls Through 2011 http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9201839/Google_extends_free_phone_call_offer_for_U.S._Gmail_users “…When Google announced the ability to make phone calls from Gmail in August its plan was to offer free calls to the U.S. and Canada until the end of this year. But now users will be able to make free calls to those destinations for all of 2011, Google said…Google can afford to offer free calls to fixed and mobile phones in an effort to attract more users because it isn't as dependent on making money from the calls as Skype…If Google one day decides to start charging…its continued popularity will be decided by factors like quality, ease-of-use and how well integrated it has become in the way people communicate…The voice services Google is offering now are only the beginning: network operators should start to get really nervous when Google introduces an easy-to-use service that is tightly integrated with its Android smartphone and tablet operating system…There is already anecdotal evidence that business travelers are using Skype on their smartphones to make phone calls while abroad, threatening operators' still-lucrative roaming business…”

21. Google Android 3.0 Honeycomb Motorola Tablet for CES http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Desktops-and-Notebooks/Motorola-Teases-Android-30-Honeycomb-Tablet-for-CES-529991/ Motorola has released a brief video on YouTube teasing the introduction, at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, of a tablet computer based on Google's Android Honeycomb operating system. The clip, titled "Tablet Evolution" and set in a museum, is a 1:36-minute history lesson of actual stone tablets, beginning with an Egyptian hieroglyphic tablet dated 3,200 B.C. and moving on to the Ten Commandments and Rosetta Stone…Motorola calls Apple's iPad a "giant iPhone" (iOS powers both devices) and notes that Samsung's Galaxy Tab is Android OS "for a phone." The Tab is based on Android 2.2, which Google executives have acknowledged is not optimized for tablets. Even so, the Tab has sold more than 1 million units this year. Motorola concludes its clip by having a honeybee buzz over a hooded display marked with the Motorola logo, hinting at the tablet…it will release both a 7-inch and 10-inch tablet based on Android…Honeycomb tablets and the iPad 2 should set the stage for interesting rivalry in 2011…”

22. Tech firms set up shop at Google Ventures’ Startup Lab http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Tech+firms+shop+Google+Ventures+Startup/3981371/story.html A small team has toiled away since early October in a quiet corner of Google Inc’s GOOG.O sprawling campus in Mountain View, CA on a project related to the discovery of human antibodies. The group is not part of Google, and has nothing to do with Google’s flagship Internet search business. But Google has provided the team - part of the secretive New Hampshire-based biotech company Adimab - with a workspace fitted with top-notch amenities, including high-speed Internet access, conference rooms, even - ping-pong table. Adimab and four other companies are among the first tenants of the new Startup Lab managed by Google’s venture capital arm. The lab represents the latest expansion of Google Ventures, the search engine’s $100-million-a-year fund which launched in March 2009, providing Google with an opportunity to chase the big financial payoffs that can come with venture investing while helping it build ties to the fast-paced world of start-ups…”

23. Wave Technology Lives On In Google's New Shared Spaces http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/wave_technology_lives_on_in_googles_new_shared_spa.php “…Google has quietly launched a new Labs project today - Google Shared Spaces. Based on Google Wave gadgets technology, Shared Spaces is designed to be an easy way to create and share collaborative applications. As Shared Spaces uses Wave technology, there are already 50 different gadgets available, including shared maps, scheduling tools, polls, Sudoku games, and drawing boards. Our latest report, Engaging Online Communities, takes a look at how the modern enterprise must set up the right social media monitoring systems, keep track of the social gestures that people make and intelligently analyze data about their communities. Shared Spaces seems to be a fairly easy way to quickly share a workspace with a friend or colleague. You simply share the space's URL to invite others to join. There's a chat box for real-time communication, but it appears that the work space persists, meaning you can use it for longer-term work as well…”

General Technology

24. The Brainy Learning Algorithms of Numenta http://www.technologyreview.com/business/26811/ Jeff Hawkins has a track record at predicting the future. The founder of Palm and inventor of the PalmPilot, he spent the 1990s talking of a coming world in which we would all carry powerful computers in our pockets. "No one believed in it back then—people thought I was crazy…At his current firm, Numenta, Hawkins is working on another idea that seems to out of left field: copying the workings of our own brains to build software that makes accurate snap decisions for today's data-deluged businesses. He and his team have been working on their algorithms since 2005 and are finally preparing to release a version that is ready to be used in products…Some companies are already putting Numenta's latest approach to the test. Sm4rt Security Services, a computer security firm based in Mexico City, is one of them. "We were hired by one of the world's top banks to prove this new technology was able to prevent card fraud," says CEO Victor Chapela. "In just three months we've managed to match the accuracy of the existing systems, which have been developed over 25 years." The bank will deploy a Numenta-based fraud checker alongside its existing measures sometime next year, he says. The bank suffers more than $100 million of fraud every year, he says, "so anything that can cut even a fraction of that has a very quick payback." Numenta's technology is attractive to banks because its ability to learn from previous data sidesteps a crucial limit on fraud prevention technology. A bank's computer system has just 10 milliseconds to decide whether to authorize a transaction, says Chapela: "There's simply no time to search a person's past transactions…”

25. Secure Flash Drives Lock Down Your Data http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/213323/secure_flash_drives_lock_down_your_data.html Hollywood makes secure flash storage look easy. If the bad guy steals a thumb drive, it either blows up or some secret counterintelligence agency marshals the nation's resources in a no-holds-barred data hunt--most likely with Bruce Willis or Tommy Lee Jones working the streets. If the good guy steals the drive, it goes to a special-needs, special-deeds sidekick in a basement somewhere who cracks the code in 5 minutes…Secure flash drives give security-conscious users a great way to transport sensitive information. And you can work directly off of such drives so that their top-secret data never resides in another location--except on a secure online backup service, of course. The three basic approaches to securing data on a flash drive involve using software, hardware, or a combination of both…”

26. Best Buy Kills Return Fees Amid Poor Sales http://www.pcworld.com/article/214218/best_buy_kills_return_fees_amid_poor_sales.html “…Best Buy had previously charged a 15 percent restocking fee for notebook computers, projectors, camcorders, digital cameras, radar detectors, GPS devices and in-car video systems. A 10 percent restocking fee applied in most cases for Apple's iPhone, but no longer. A 25 percent restocking fee still applies for special order products. "Best Buy continually listens to our customers," the retailer said in a statement, "and they told us they want to give confidently this holiday season and every other day of the year -- and with that comes easier returns." According to Snopes.com, the 15 percent restocking fee had been dinging Best Buy's reputation since April 2008, when a chain letter ranting about the policy began to circulate. The fee was likely in place to discourage free "rentals" of expensive tech products and after-purchase price comparisons. But last quarter, Best Buy posted lower earnings than expected as sales slumped in its U.S. stores. Competition from online retailers such as Amazon and other stores like Wal-Mart and Target cut into Best Buy's market share as they filled the void left by Circuit City. Best Buy's return period is 14 days for computers, monitors, projectors, camcorders, digital cameras, tablets and radar detectors; and 30 days for everything else. Wireless carrier charges may still apply for mobile phones, and some items, such as software, movies, music and video games can only be returned for the same item…”

27. Quantum Dot Displays Start to Shine http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/26831/ Few display technologies rival the visual brilliance and energy-saving potential of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). Yet OLED displays are mostly found in smaller applications like mobile phones. The manufacturing technology for OLEDs has struggled to scale up for mass producing computer monitors or televisions…QD Vision, an MIT spinoff, has announced a display technology based on quantum dots that could not only be easier to manufacture than OLEDs, but also be even brighter and more energy-efficient…the Massachusetts company announced a partnership with major manufacturer LG Display to develop displays that use quantum-dot light-emitting diodes (QLEDs) as their pixels. In early November, QD Vision also partnered with Solvay, a Belgium-based chemical company, to build a platform for printing QLEDs. Quantum dots are nanometer-sized sem iconducting crystals that can shine a bright, spectrally pure color when exposed to either light (photoluminescence) or electrical current (electroluminescence). QD Vision's first product, a quantum dot optic that warms the normally harsh glow produced by LED lamps, relies on photoluminescence; the quantum dots emit color when light from the LEDs excites them…”

DHMN Technology

28. 3D printer 'like Star Trek replicator' http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/printer+like+Star+Trek+replicator/4001652/story.html “…With a special 3D printer at his disposal, Helmut Kungl, chief executive of Ottawa's XYZ-RGB Inc., was able to prototype, refine, patent and create working versions of an innovative sleeve for an iPhone 4 without ever leaving the office…3D printing offers a glimpse into the future of manufacturing — something that will change everything from medicine to how we make automobiles…Printing times vary, but, in Kungl's case, one of his iPhone accessories takes as long as three hours to complete…One company that is taking full advantage of 3D printers is Manitoba's Kor Ecologic. The company has designed a new gas/electric hybrid vehicle called the Urbee, the car's body (glass panels included) were made using a 3D printing technology called Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)…Organovo, a company from San Diego, California, is using it to build human tissue and organs that can be used to help save a person's life when donor organs or tissue cannot be found. Earlier this month, the company announced it had used a variation of a 3D printer, called the NovoGen MMX Bioprinter, to print blood vessels…Even in the home, 3D printing is making inroads. Manufacturers are pushing to get 3D printers into the hands of average consumers in hopes they will spark a boom in desktop manufacturing…While prices for industrial 3D printers range from $50,000 to well over $200,000, models geared to consumers are already available starting at around $500. The idea of being able to manufacture his own replacement parts for camera gear is what sparked Ottawa's Kungl to spend around $50,000 on a 3D printer about a year ago. Kungl's company, XYZ-RGB, is in the business of capturing and processing 3D images. The company's 3D image files have been used in movies such as G.I. Joe, Public Enemies, Lord of the Rings and King Kong…He stumbled upon the design for the iPhone sleeve while trying to figure out a way to use the camera in the iPhone 4 to capture 3D photos. Kungl's iPhone sleeve, which is already in demand at retailers, has been designed to incorporate a mount for a tripod, so that iPhone owners can take pictures and video with no need to hold the device…he created a bumper case for the iPhone 4 that incorporates a slot to allow for the tripod mount…then used the company's 3D printer to make the case. As soon as his staff members saw it, they all wanted one of their own. "The guys started asking for it. Then they showed a friend and they showed some friends. I have run out of materials," he said, adding that he has already sold more than 150 of the cases at a price of $23 each…” [this story is a perfect example of why DHMN, the FVTC Fab Lab and EAA need to have and encourage high utilization and creative innovation with both low-end ($1000) and mid-range ($5000 - $10,000) 3D printers and 3D scanners – ed.]

29. Blending Art With Facial Recognition Technology http://www.psfk.com/2010/11/blending-art-with-facial-recognition-technology.html “…Hit Counter is an interactive artwork that uses facial recognition software to count and display the number of visitors who have viewed it. Made by New York-based designer Zach Gage, the art is in the form of a birch box which houses a stat counter and a camera eye. Gage’s work is being displayed as part of the ongoing ‘Pixel Pushers’ exhibition at the Scion Installation, Los Angeles. In the early days of the Internet, popularity was generally attributed to websites. Site usage was illustrated via “hit counters” at the bottom of each page. With the rise of social media and the self-made user, popularity is now attributed to individuals. Popularity is commonly conveyed with follower counters, friend counters or view counters. Despite the problems that popularity has led to in the physical world, we have opted to translate this metric into the digital/virtual space. Hit Counter re-translates this metric back into the physical space. With no other means to judge it, Hit Counter demands to be assigned a worth based solely on its popularity. Hit Counter software makes extensive use of OpenFrameworks, openCV for facial recognition…”

30. 3D Hologram Prints Invade Military, Commercial Design http://singularityhub.com/2010/12/16/3d-hologram-prints-invade-military-commercial-design-videos/ Many technologies claim to be holograms, but there’s really only one that truly deserves the name. If you have to wear special glasses, it’s not a real hologram. For decades, scientists have been able to use lasers to record three dimensional images on a flat surface, but these images have been very simple and were often difficult to view without more laser light. Now, a new generation of hologram companies are making 3D holograms that are photo realistic and can be viewed under simple LED and halogen bulbs. Zebra Imaging, based in Austin, Texas, is one of these new kind of hologram companies, and they’ve sold tens of thousands of custom-made digital prints, many to the US military for mission planing and bomb analysis. Watch their holographic prints on display in the videos below, along with a brief look at their new motion display technology, which is like a 3D computer screen. There’s nothing quite as cool as a real hologram. In the past few years, researchers in holography have been able to streamline and modernize the holographic printing process so that they can take CAD drawings or real world images and convert them into a hologram quickly…”

31. Neuroscientists create the first brain-controlled exoskeleton http://io9.com/5713568/neuroscientists-create-the-first-brain+controlled-exoskeleton We've had brain-computer interfaces for years now, as well as mind-controlled prosthetic limbs. Now neuroscientists have taken it to the next level, with a system that would allow you to control a super-powered exoskeleton using only your thoughts…We've known for a while that thinking about moving activates the same areas of the brain as moving itself does - so monkeys (and humans) learn to do this by imagining that they're moving left, right, up or down. But the researchers discovered that the monkeys learned much faster if their arms were moved at the same time the cursor did - basically, they got feedback via movement in their bodies as well as from looking at the monitor…Each monkey was first trained to control a cursor using brain signals only; electrodes collected and processed data from the monkeys' motor cortex cells and transmitted those commands to the computer. Basic science research has shown that simply thinking about a motion activates brain cells in the same way that making the movement does, so each monkey needed to only think about moving a cursor to do it…”

Leisure & Entertainment

32. Xbox Kinect vs Nintendo Wii http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20101218/bs_nf/76563 Three years ago, my kids were dragging me to every Game Stop, RadioShack and Toys R Us within a 20-mile radius looking for a Nintendo Wii video-game console, the hottest ticket of the holiday season. We never found one…but my oldest son, Zachary, was lucky enough to get one for his bar mitzvah. Over the months that followed, our family was leaping, swatting, punching and kicking our way around the basement engaged in virtual adventures and sports competitions, waving wireless controllers and nunchuks at the motion sensor. Good fun and good exercise…Within 18 months though, the Wii became lonely, collecting dust on the shelf above the TV with only an occasional reprieve from isolation when a new game arrived or certain of the kids' friends came over. Whether it's because Facebook is the only nonhuman commitment today's kids are willing to make, or perhaps because of some shortcoming of the Wii, it failed to pass the longevity test…When Microsoft launched the Kinect, its motion-sensing answer to the Wii, the tide turned in its favor. I suppressed concern that both platforms were future eBay fodder and bought the Xbox and Kinect bundle for $350…whereas the Wii allows online play with some games through WiiConnect24, Xbox Live opens an entire world of interaction with other gamers…Which system has the better quality graphics is a matter of taste. Zachary clearly favors the Xbox…But there is a world of difference between gaming with a controller in your hand and gaming with just your body. Kinect needs more room to work properly, at least six feet, and optimally nine, between players and controllers, as opposed to between three and eight feet for the Wii…I found the full-body motion sensing fun and didn't miss the worry that the Wii controller would slip out of someone's hand and fly across the room, causing injury or damage. There's also no sore or calloused thumbs after a vigorous game. What I did miss, though, was the sense of connection to the game through my hands. Like most game systems today, Wii actively engages three senses -- sight, sound and touch -- by delivering synchronized vibrations to the controller when you hit a tennis ball, clobber your boxing opponent…With Kinect, the sights and sound are there, but you are left to imagine virtual contact with objects like balls or bad guys as your hand waves through the air. When Kinect adds Star Wars games, it could be awkward to wave a pretend light saber in the air without some kind of attendant prop…the Xbox is the more advanced system that is sending Nintendo's engineers back to the drawing board, likely banking on 3D gaming as the next big advance…which games Microsoft releases for Kinect use in the coming months will have a lot to do with its ability to permanently steal Wii and PlayStation users…”

33. FCC ‘net neutrality’ plan feared stunting Internet TV services http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101221/wr_nm/us_fcc_internet_analysis Internet TV services planned by Microsoft, Google and Amazon could be held back by imminent rules that would allow phone and cable companies to charge consumers based on usage…The Web traffic rules, due to be voted on by the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday, could tip the economics away from consumers watching TV over Internet lines if they help cable companies charge more versus their own television offerings. Said one executive at a major US media company: "in the event a cable company feels threatened" by Internet TV services, "they could control offerings through pricing the usage…”

34. Apple owns 66% of online music market, Amazon second at 13% http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/12/apple-owns-66-of-online-music-market-amazon-second-at-13.ars Despite unrelenting competition from numerous online music vendors—particularly Amazon—iTunes has managed to actually increase its market share. The music service now makes up 66.2 percent of the online music market, according to new numbers from NPD, with Amazon coming in second with 13.3 percent for the third quarter of 2010. iTunes has managed to increase its share from 63.2 percent earlier this year, even as Amazon has made aggressive efforts to chip away at iTunes' customer base and artist exclusives. In fact, Amazon was so good at pushing its "Daily Deal" promotions (deeply discounted albums of hot bands) that Apple apparently felt threatened by it—an anonymous music industry exec said earlier this year that Apple was stepping up pressure on artists to avoid Amazon's music promotions, lest they lose their valuable marketing support from iTunes…”

35. AssaultCube – Realistic Fast-Paced Linux First-Person Shooter Game http://www.tuxarena.com/?p=87 AssaultCube is a first-person shooter game based on the Cube engine with support for online multiplayer and single player games, with a fast-pace gameplay and entertaining gaming modes. The latest version was released on November 14, 2010 and brings several bug fixes and tweaks. AssaultCube takes place on realistic maps and includes 12 multiplayer game modes, including the classic DM, TDM, CTF or Survival, 24 maps (and more available to download), 8 weapons to choose from and various pickup items. The game doesn’t offer a storyline (and I believe most multiplayer shooter don’t even need one), and it offers two different teams, the so-called Cubers Liberations Army (CLA) and the Rabid Viper Special Forces (RVSF)…”

Economy and Technology

36. Chile’s Grand Innovation Experiment http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/18/chile%E2%80%99s-grand-innovation-experiment/ “…It isn’t real estate, universities, or VCs that make innovation happen; it is entrepreneurs. To create a tech center like Silicon Valley, you need to first attract smart entrepreneurs from all over the world. Then you have to create entrepreneurial networks; instill a spirit of risk-taking and openness; and build mentoring systems. You also need to provide seed financing to startups. The money is easy; everything else requires a change in culture that usually takes decades…Chile is trying a radical new experiment…to short-circuit this process. It is importing entrepreneurs from all over the world, by offering them $40,000 to bootstrap in Chile. They get a visa; free office space; assistance with networking, mentoring, fundraising, and connecting to potential customers and partners. All the entrepreneurs have to do, in return, is commit to working hard and live in one of the most beautiful places on this planet…Start-Up Chile, is still in the pilot stage. Chile has selected 25 teams to receive grants. Seventeen of these teams have already moved to Chile’s capital city, Santiago. The program will be officially launched on January 13, 2011. It will then be opened to the next batch of 100 startups. Chile expects to “import” around 1000 startup teams over the next three years…Chile has a chance to become the first region in the world that will build a tech center out of nothing at all. And it will achieve this feat for a much smaller investment than other regions have made in efforts that failed. All of the teams that I met raved about the opportunities they had gained by being in Chile. They told me they have gained valuable time to perfect their technologies before having to raise capital from Angels or VCs; that they’d found Santiago to be a really cheap place to live; and that they benefit by being able to network with each other, are appreciative of the support that the Chilean government is providing by connecting them to local businesses and investors, and enjoy the high quality of life and wonderful scenery and climate. They also find the natives to be very friendly and eager to learn from them…”

37. iPod nano Watch Project Makes Kickstarter History http://mashable.com/2010/12/17/kickstarter-ipod-nano/ The iPod nano watch kit TikTok+LunaTik is now officially the most successful Kickstarter project of all time…The project reached its conclusion late Thursday evening, bringing in a staggering $941,648 from 13,511 backers in just 30 days. That figure is all the more impressive when you consider that TikTok+LunaTik’s original goal was only $15,000. The project itself was born after Scott Wilson, the founder of the Chicago-based design studio MINIMAL, first saw the new iPod nano. When we spoke to Wilson last month, he explained it was clear that the device could be a great wrist watch, after seeing the size and shape of the new nano…When the success of TikTok and LunaTik became clear, Wilson took measures to ramp up production at the factories in China. Through the course of the project, Wilson has offered up additional updates on the status of the kits, created a website for interested users who missed out on the Kickstarter pledge bonanza at Lunatik.com and promoted other worthy Kickstarter projects…”

38. Online ad sales eclipse newspaper advertising in 2010 http://venturebeat.com/2010/12/19/online-ads-eclipse-newspapers-in-2010/ Online ads are expected to eclipse newspaper advertising for the first time…U.S. spending on online ads will hit $25.8 billion in 2010, compared with $22.8 billion spent on print ads in newspapers, the Wall Street Journal reported. This change has been a long time coming, since consumers have moved to the internet in large numbers and newspaper readers have stopped subscriptions as the papers get thinner and thinner. It reminds me of 2008, when I left the newspaper business after nearly 20 years to join VentureBeat. Back then, there was a lot of hand-wringing about the fate of newspapers. Times were heady for tech blogs and other online news sites. Then the recession hit and made everyone in the media gloomy. Ad spending in the U.S. is expected to rise 3 percent to $168.5 billion, eMarketer said. But spending on print ads in newspapers will decline 8.2 percent in 2010 and the forecast is for another decline of 6 percent for newspapers in 2011…”

Civilian Aerospace

39. Three Google Lunar X PRIZE Competitors Awarded NASA Contracts http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/featured-article/three-google-lunar-x-prize-competitors-awarded-nasa-contracts “…NASA announced that it purchased data related to innovative lunar missions from three private firms. All three contracts, valued at $500,000 each, were awarded to teams competing for the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE: Astrobotic Technology Inc of Pittsburgh, PA; Moon Express Inc. of Mountain View, CA; and the Rocket City Space Pioneers…of Hunstville, AL. The contracts mark the first of several through NASA’s $30 million Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data project…In exchange for these contracts, Astrobotic, Moon Express and the Rocket City Space Pioneers will demonstrate how they will address one of the top ten technical risk areas associated with a low-cost lunar surface mission. In the coming months, each group will take an unproven but critical technical component to a high degree of technical readiness, such that it could be considered ready for spaceflight. NASA and the teams both are likely to benefit greatly from this process. Additionally, these contracts demonstrate a critical difference between the first era of lunar exploration and ‘Moon 2.0,’ a new era that is just beginning…” [woo-hoo! Moon 2.0!! – ed.]

40. Using a new spacesuit: first UND, then Mars http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/187407/ The Mars spacesuit designed by UND is going to Antarctica for testing because Antarctica is a lot like Mars. But first, they’re testing it at UND because North Dakota is a lot like Antarctica at this time of year. If you were at the corner of 42nd Avenue South and University Way at about noon Friday, you might have caught an odd glimpse: A spaceman with a backpack drill making holes in the lawn at Clifford Hall. That was Pablo De Leon, an aerospace engineer with UND’s Space Suit Laboratory. NASA is planning to send his team to Antarctica to do some more drilling. The research topic is something like a bad joke: How many astronauts does it take to drill a hole in the ground? How long does it take? The answer so far seems to be at least two and a little longer than you’d think…”

41. Businesses pitch their space plane proposals http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20101218/NEWS02/12180319/1006/NEWS01/Businesses+pitch+their+space+plane+proposals “…Companies this week submitted proposals seeking a share of the roughly $200 million NASA plans to spend during the next year to develop their vehicles. NASA's eventual choice of two or three commercial providers of crew taxi services to the International Space Station likely will be taken from that group. "They want to create a field of potential candidates who could deliver a vehicle," said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Space Systems group, one of the contenders. "I would imagine that anybody who thinks they could do it would have responded." NASA won't disclose the number or identity of companies that submitted proposals under the second round of its Commercial Crew Development program, or "CCDev," but several have announced their plans publicly…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

42. Fine tuning virtual colonoscopy with GPUs http://blogs.msdn.com/b/healthblog/archive/2010/11/29/fine-tuning-virtual-colonoscopy-a-faster-better-less-expensive-screening-test-for-colon-cancer.aspx “…drinking a gallon or so of go-litely bowel prep and then waiting for your gut to evacuate has never been high on this doctor’s list of favorite things to do. For that reason alone, many people avoid having a screening colonoscopy even though it is a test that can save lives by detecting cancer early. Avoiding the nasty prep and the invasive (some would say embarrassing) test are reasons why many people are attracted to an alternate test called “virtual” screening colonoscopy. In this test, a CT scanner replaces the colonoscope, but unfortunately the gut-cleaning prep is still required. ..clinicians at the Massachusetts General Hospital are testing a concept that could make virtual colonoscopy faster, less expensive and even easier for the patient. Using the magic of computers and software, it is possible to digitally remove the normal contents of the gut and make the inside of the gut appear just as if the patient had done the usual bowel evacuation prep. However, one issue with the virtual “cleaning” has been the amount of time needed to process the CT images…The time needed to run the necessary computer algorithms can take up to 60 minutes for each exam, far too long to be practical…Using Microsoft’s high performance computing (HPC) platform, Microsoft .Net 4.0, and the Intel Parallel Studio 2011 developer tool suite, researchers were able to reduce the time needed to run the algorithms from 60 minutes to just 3 minutes…The collaboration…uses a fully parallelized GPU-based volume rendering engine developed by Microsoft…demonstrates the capability to do high performance CPU and GPU-based computing with Windows HPC and .NET for colon cancer screening…”

43. Finding the needle in the haystack, instantly, with GPUs http://www.northeastern.edu/news/stories/2010/12/supercomputing.html “…A terrorist plants a time bomb along a gas line in a residential neighborhood. He e-mails a photo of the death trap to law enforcement officials, but no one can tell exactly where the bomb is located. The solution may lie in work being done in Northeastern University's Computer Architecture Research Laboratory, where electrical and computer engineering professor David Kaeli and his team have developed supercomputing hardware/software technology to pinpoint the location of people, buildings—or even bombs—10 to 15 times faster than traditional computing methods. Northeastern researchers are collaborating on the project with colleagues at the University of Virginia and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), a Sunnyvale, California-based company that develops computer processors for the commercial and consumer sectors. The innovative technology, which aligns with Northeastern’s commitment to research that solves global challenges in health, security and sustainability, showcases the value of using Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to help protect the nation’s critical infrastructure…”

44. Fundamental Shift Needed to Continue Rapid Advances in Computing http://www.hpcwire.com/offthewire/IT-Needs-Fundamental-Shift-to-Continue-Rapid-Advances-in-Computing-and-Help-Drive-US-Competitiveness-112080329.html The rapid advances in information technology that drive many sectors of the US economy could stall unless the nation aggressively pursues fundamental research and development of parallel computing -- hardware and software that enable multiple computing activities to process simultaneously, says a new report by the National Research Council. Better options for managing power consumption in computers will also be essential for continued improvements in IT performance. For many decades, advances in single-processor, sequential computer microprocessors have enabled computing performance to increase dramatically -- on the order of 10,000 times in the last 20 years alone. However, power management and other technological limitations have made it impractical to continue improving computer performance in this way much longer. Parallel computing, therefore, is the only known alternative for improving computer performance without significantly increasing costs and energy usage…”


*****

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