2011/01/11

NEW NET Weekly List for 11 Jan 2011

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 11 January 2011, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering at Sergio's Restaurant, 2639 South Oneida Street, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

  1. Over 77% of Lifehacker Readers Say Google's Search Results are Less Useful Lately http://lifehacker.com/5730396/over-77-percent-of-lifehacker-readers-say-googles-search-results-are-less-useful-lately We asked readers last week whether…Google was losing the war against search result spam…More than three quarters found Google prone to spam…our just-closed reader poll…garnered just 30 votes shy of 10,000 responses…Benny Gesserit…uses Greasemonkey to customize his search results…turf anything from ExpertsExchange…zap the ads…customize to zap specific ranges of domains (ie [anything].about.com)…As spammers manage to get useless links boiling to the top, I zap 'em.…” [Can Google afford to downgrade content farm results and other frequently-appearing spam search results? There have been quite a few articles/posts lately about spam reaching annoying levels in Google search results, especially for lucrative keyword phrases; maybe it’s time for NEW NET and DHMN to discuss variations on the above strategy using GreaseMonkey – ed.]
  2. Salesforce Buys Web Conferencing Platform DimDim For $31 Million http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/06/salesforce-buys-web-conferencing-platform-dimdim-for-31-million-in-cash/ Salesforce…acquired DimDim, a web conferencing service for $31 million in cash. DimDim, which has raised around $9 million in venture funding, provides a browser-based web conferencing platform that doesn’t require the installation of any desktop software and is based on an open source platform. The platform provides real-time collaboration capabilities, the ability to share documents, record sessions, whiteboard and use video, voice and phone conferencing. Salesforce.com says that it will use DimDim’s real-time communication technologies in its social collaboration platform, Chatter…” [Salesforce is unlikely to continue the freemium DimDim model; what DimDim competitors have you used that worked well and are using the freemium business model? – ed.]

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. Personal To Help Consumers Protect Their Digital Data http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/06/personal-raises-7m-from-steve-case-and-others-to-help-consumers-protect-their-digital-data/ Under the radar startup Personal…aims to give consumers control over their digital data…the company says that it helps users prevent companies tracking, compiling and selling digital information without the consumer’s consent…We aim to fundamentally turn the tables to empower consumers to become gatekeepers of their information and, if they choose, be rewarded for granting access to it, even anonymously.”…Personal could be a way for consumers to regain power over their data…”
  2. Flash Player sandbox can be bypassed http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/215820/security_researcher_finds_way_around_flash_sandbox.html A security researcher has found a gap in the way Adobe Systems has fortified its Flash Player for better security…Billy Rios, a researcher who is a security engineer for Google, published on his personal blog a way to get around Flash Player's local-within-filesystem sandbox. The sandbox allows a Shockwave Flash (SWF) file to read local files but not send data over the network…But Rios found that the sandbox restrictions are actually not quite so strict. He found he could bypass the sandbox but reformatting the request, such as "file://request to a remote server."…Adobe also blacklists some protocol handlers but not all, a method that Rios considers dangerous…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Verizon launches CDMA iPhone on Feb 10 http://news.cnet.com/8301-31021_3-20028088-260.html “…Verizon…will…begin selling Apple's iPhone…on February 10, a 16GB model will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract, according to Verizon Wireless' Web site. The 32GB model will sell for $299.99. An extra feature Verizon will offer is the phone's ability to be a personal Wi-Fi "hot spot."…Steve Jobs did not join McAdam on stage for the announcement…On February 3, a week before the scheduled launch, existing subscribers will have opportunity to pre-order the phone. McAdam did not delve into any details about pricing plans during the event…the journey to bring the iPhone to Verizon began two years ago. In 2008, they talked about bringing an iPhone to the CDMA network and it was designed and tested "to make sure it would come up to the standards of Verizon."…the iPhone Verizon sells will use CDMA technology, not LTE. Apple's Cook said there were two reasons for that: the first generation of LTE chipsets "forced design compromises," and "Verizon customers want the iPhone now." Though it will be first, Verizon does not have an exclusive contract to carry the CDMA model iPhone…”
  2. Motorola Xoom to boast barometer http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/10/motorola-xoom-to-boast-barometer-budding-meteorologists-have-fo/ “…Motorola's Xoom…was easily one of the highlights of the show…According to Moto's developer page, there's actually a barometer included, right alongside an accelerometer, magnetometer, ambient light sensor and gyroscope. Oddly enough, a proximity sensor is left out of the mix…it's good to know that at least one flagship slate will be compatible with Android 2.3's barometer support…”
  3. Notion Ink Adam hands-on preview http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/05/notion-ink-adam-hands-on-preview-video “…the long-awaited Notion Ink Adam…we got some very intimate time with the 10-inch PixelQi Android tablet this morning, and…we're incredibly impressed with…what will soon be one of the most unique Android tablets..The slab isn't the slimmest tablet we've seen (although it has a nice array of ports, including a full HDMI and USB), but at 1.5 pounds it felt lighter in hand than the iPad…what makes that reading experience so nice is its 1024 x 600-resolution, transreflective PixelQi display. The LCD backlight can be turned on and off by tapping the top button on the display, and…it makes for an incredibly crisp reading experience in the sun…Eden UI. This is the one we've all been waiting for -- the Adam's software interface…It's all a pretty nice layout, but it's also a bit confusing. It took us awhile to get the hang of how to close panels and then back out of an application…nothing crashed or took forever to open…A lot of that smooth performance of the UI has to do with the tablet's dual core Tegra 2 CPU. Notion Ink has done a lot to take advantage of NVIDIA's graphics and it definitely shows…at the moment the Adam is one of the most impressive tablets we've seen.”
  4. Textfree Users Made 2.5 Million Voice Calls In Ten Days http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/06/textfree-users-made-2-5-million-voice-calls-in-ten-days-and-theyve-sent-6-billion-messages-total/ “…Pinger, the company behind hugely popular texting application Textfree, announced that it was adding voice support…it adds voice calling to the iPod Touch and it allows iPhone users to make calls without burning their AT&T minutes…it went live for everyone on December 21…between December 21 and December 30, users made 2.5 million voice calls…when you sign up for the service you get a new, unique phone number, which your friends can use to text and call you…Textfree made it to the number two spot overall on the App Store before it went into its ‘Christmas freeze’…a lot of people who fired up their shiny new iPhones this Christmas saw Textfree as they first started browsing the App Store…over this same time span, Pinger says that users bought or earned 20 million voice minutes…Textfree lets you purchase cheap minutes just as you would on other VoIP apps like Skype. But it also lets you complete iPhone-specific ‘offers’ like those popularized on Facebook in order to earn these minutes…Pinger Chief of Product Joe Sipher says that rewarding users for downloading other applications has been “fantastic” and that the company has “made a ton of money” through it. He also says that many of the top 25 applications over the holidays were actually paying Pinger to appear as promoted applications in Textfree…”
  5. Android Passes iPhone In Total U.S. Subscribers http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/06/android-passes-iphone/ “…for the first time, in November, 2010, Android passed the iPhone in total number of U.S. smartphone subscribers…there are 61.5 million smartphone subscribers in the U.S., and 26 percent of them own an Android phone versus 25 percent with an iPhone. In the previous month—October, 2010—Apple still edged out Google with 24.6 percent market share versus 23.5 percent…Blackberry still has the largest installed base of smartphone users in the U.S. with 33 percent market share. But that share is down 4 percent over the past three months, while Android’s share grew 6 percent…”
  6. Microsoft looks into 'phantom' Windows Phone 7 data use http://news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-20028012-75.html “…Windows Phone 7 software…has the phone slurping up cellular data, even when the phone is connected to Wi-Fi…a handful of reports that say it's a built-in feedback tool that's essentially phoning home…this type of behavior would not be out of place compared to other smartphone operating systems…Apple's iPhone came under similar scrutiny last year, with some users reporting large chunks of data getting sent in the wee hours of the night…With some entry-tier data plans hovering in the 150MB to 200MB range (depending on which carrier you're on), that amount can be reached quickly when normal use is mixed with this extra data polling, which is said to range from 30MB to 50MB of data per day…”
  7. Motorola Atrix 4G Smartphone: NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual core Android/Linux with laptop dock http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2375273,00.asp “…Motorola Atrix…may be the single most interesting product at CES…an entirely new approach to mobile computing…The NVIDIA Tegra 2-powered, HSPA+ cell phone for AT&T runs two operating systems at once: Google's Android 2.2 and a customized…version of Linux which helps the Atrix turn into a desktop or laptop PC…it has a super-high-res 960x540 screen…802.11n networking on both 2.4 and 5Ghz, HSPA+ 4G of some variety or other, a gig of RAM, 16GB of storage plus a MicroSD slot, even a fingerprint reader. That's not what makes it cool. What makes it cool is the docks…The Atrix demo I saw had two docks: a "desktop PC" dock where it attached to a big LCD screen and a full desktop keyboard, and Motorola's sleek little aluminum Laptop Dock. The Laptop Dock is…almost like a MacBook Air with a little Motorola logo on top. When you dock the phone and flip open the laptop, the alternative Linux OS boots in about 10-15 seconds…”
  8. DanKam app clears up color blind confusion http://www.gizmag.com/dankam-smartphone-app-helps-color-blind/17451/ Best known for discovering security flaws in online systems, Dan Kaminsky has recently announced the development and release of a smartphone app to help with color blindness. DanKam takes the colors that cause viewing problems and applies filters to make them visible. The system is currently optimized for the most common form of color vision deficiency…the inspiration for his year-long development project was a friend's problem seeing the green hues on the skin of one of the characters in the latest Star Trek film. He originally tried altering the green vs red colorspace, but found that his friend then lost sight of the red in the image…Kaminsky's thinking was that although there are relatively few hues registered by our visual system, the slight photoreceptor shift towards red causes hue determination problems. He started experimenting with one of the most common cylindrical representations of points in the RGB color model – Hue, Saturation and Value…What the resulting DanKam augmented reality app attempts to do is to clean up the colorspace of the image or video signal so that those suffering from viewing problems have colors revealed to them…Users are able to tweak the color wheel to personalize the effect…Kaminsky says that he "really can't imagine how this technology will be used…”
  9. Amazon’s Android App Store Open To Developers http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/05/amazon-android-app-store-2/ Fragmentation. Curation. Recommendations. Take your pick: Android is getting all three, compliments of a new Amazon-run application marketplace due to launch later this year. Today, Amazon has launched the developer-facing part of the store, inviting devs to submit their applications so that they’re ready when the app store is ready for its consumer debut later this year…it’s going to bring some very interesting dynamics to the way Android applications are purchased and distributed…Android Market is a lot like Apple’s App Store with a few key differences: it doesn’t have an approval system, so developers can quickly submit and iterate on their applications. It also tends to have a lot of junky applications that Apple would reject — things that crash on launch on certain devices, or apps with that occasionally have features that don’t work as expected…the general attitude is to let the market decide what works…Amazon is taking an approach that is more in line with Apple’s. Developers who wish to appear on Amazon’s store have to get approval…Amazon is going to have slightly more stringent guidelines: your application has to work properly (i.e. it can’t crash right off the bat) and it has to do what you say it does. It also has to be safe…unlike Apple’s screening policies…Amazon says it’s going to take a more liberal stance as far as what’s allowed on the store…it sounds like you can upload the same ones to both Google’s and Amazon’s marketplaces…Amazon retains full control over how it wants to price your application…Amazon will use a variety of market factors to determine what price it wants to use, and you get a 70% cut of the proceeds of each sale (which is the industry standard). In the event that Amazon steeply discounts your application, or offers it for free, you’re guaranteed to get 20% of the List Price…aside from these pricing differences, would consumers want to use this Amazon App Store at all?...Amazon says that it can offer recommendations using the technology that already exists on Amazon.com…access to this Amazon marketplace from their Android device…is going to prove a bit tricky for some users — Amazon will offer a walkthrough instructing users on how to do this, but it will require you dig into the settings menu on the device and allow installation from “Unknown Sources”. It’s easy to find if you know what you’re doing…Amazon is in a position to establish itself as the de facto non-Google App Store — and that could prove to be very important…this isn’t going to replace Google’s Android Market by any means. Google’s store will have better international support for some time…But given how many Android devices are going to be out there in the near future (they’re activating over 300,000 a day), there’s certainly going to be enough customers to keep more than one store in business…I asked the Amazon team how Google felt about the launch — there was an audible chuckle, and they said something about Android being on an amazing growth trajectory and that they were fond of its openness…”

Open Source

  1. Consortium of Microsoft, Oracle et al. not buying 882 of Novell’s patents? http://www.pcworld.com/article/216455/ “…a plan to create a consortium led by Microsoft to buy Novell patents has been withdrawn. Early in December Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle notified the German regulator that they planned to form CPTN Holdings with a view to purchasing 882 of Novell's patents. But the filing was withdrawn (Rücknahme) on Dec. 30. No reason was given for the withdrawal by German authorities…open-source advocates are extremely alarmed that patents with claims on some elements of open-source software could fall into the hands of companies that compete with that open-source software…The founders and leaders of CPTN have a long history of opposing and misrepresenting the value of open source software…Microsoft has used patent lawsuits to stifle competition from Free Software…and has long used unsubstantiated patent claims for a continued campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt against Free Software…CPTN might also decide to sell the patents on to…patent trolls…In September 2009, Microsoft sold 22 patents related to GNU/Linux during an auction where only non-practicing entities were invited…Novell is being bought by Attachmate, but the separate sale of Novell's patent portfolio to CPTN for US$450 million was already agreed…”
  2. Arduino The Documentary now online http://arduino.cc/blog/2011/01/07/arduino-the-documentary-now-online/ Arduino The Documentary is finally out…you can see it at Vimeo and download it from Archive.org…Arduino has not supported the production of this documentary beyond giving access to our 2010 NYC meeting…Whatever message the documentary transmits is part of the work of its makers…All the work was made by Rodrigo…Raul…Gustavo…and the people at Laboral Centro de Arte (financing, and equipment) in Gijon, Spain…”
  3. Drupal 7.0 Available Now http://mashable.com/2011/01/05/drupal-7-released/ “…Drupal 7.0 is officially available…the open source content management system…powers high profile websites like WhiteHouse.gov…Dries Buytaert estimates that approximately 1,000 people contributed to Drupal 7…Mashable recently named Drupal one of the 10 websites to watch in 2011, in large part because of the improvements promised by Drupal 7. The CMS already powers approximately 1% of all the websites in world…Drupal has always been well regarded in terms of its power and abilities; it’s just actually learning and using the system that can take more effort. That’s why one of the big undertakings with Drupal 7 (and something that will continue to be a focus in Drupal 8) is in usability…”
  4. Joomla Reorganized, Modernized http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/216363/joomla_reorganized_modernized.html “…Joomla content management system will release version 1.6 of the open-source software today, which features considerable improvements in access control and page layout…The project has about 80 volunteer programmers, including 10 who manage the code-base. Alongside Drupal and WordPress, Joomla is one of a number of open-source Web content management systems (CMS) that are increasingly being used to manage websites…The new version gives administrators a lot more nuanced control over how users can view and manage content…With the previous version of the software, administrators could only classify material within a two-level hierarchy of sections and categories…Now, an unlimited number of subcategories can be placed under categories…Joomla has been criticized for its over-reliance on HTML tables, which complicated the underlying source code of the Web pages…page rendering has moved to XHTML, a subset of HTML rendered within the XML (Extensible Markup Language) format…The software's architecture has also been reorganized so it can be used as a general use Web application framework, rather than as a CMS…”

SkyNet

  1. Google Goggles Solves Sudoku Puzzles on Android, iPhone http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/8251003/Google-solves-Sudoku.html “…Sudoku…can now be solved instantly by…mobile phone – no matter what the level of difficulty…Google Goggles uses a phone’s camera to capture a picture of any Sudoku puzzle and then sends it back to Google. The company’s servers compute the answers and send an image of the completed puzzle back to the user…the Daily Telegraph’s Puzzles Editor said the move was “a sad day” for puzzle fans. “When you finally solve a real mind-bender, it brings a rush of achievement. I hope Google's new tool won't diminish that feeling…The new version of Goggles means that, along with landmarks and other well known images, the software now also recognises adverts, barcodes and Sudoku. The application’s main function, however, is for price comparison information and general web searching…”
  2. Google Science Fair seeks budding Einsteins and Curies http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/google-science-fair-seeks-budding.html “…To help make today’s young scientists the rock stars of tomorrow…we’re introducing the first global online science competition: the Google Science Fair. It’s open to students around the world who are between the ages of 13-18. All you need is access to a computer, the Internet and a web browser…in local or regional science fairs…you had to be in the same physical space to compete with kids in your area. Now any student with an idea can participate from anywhere, and share their idea with the world. You build and submit your project—either by yourself or in a team of up to three—entirely online. Students in India (or Israel or Ireland) will be able to compete with students in Canada (or Cambodia or Costa Rica) for prizes including once-in-a-lifetime experiences (like a trip to the Galapagos Islands with a National Geographic Explorer), scholarships and real-life work opportunities (like a five-day trip to CERN in Switzerland)…if you’re entering a science fair locally, please feel free to post that project online with Google Science Fair, too…Registration is open through April 4, 2011. Please note: you must get parental or guardian consent in order to compete. You can check out the complete rules here…The semi-finalist projects will be posted on our online gallery, where we’ll encourage the public to vote for a “people’s choice” winner. From our list of semi-finalists, we’ll select 15 finalists to bring their projects to Google headquarters on July 11 to compete in our final, live event, where world-renowned science judges will select a winner in each age category, as well as a grand-prize winner.…”
  3. Google's Mobile Matchmaker http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-01-07/marissa-mayer-and-googles-local-search-strategy/full/ “…Google's Marissa Mayer isn't shy when laying the dazzling innovations her company is planning—or has launched—in mobile and local technology…Mayer…recently moved over to overseeing local products, a key growth area…In Google's lexicon, "local" includes its excellent maps as well as mobile search technology…Many of her group's projects also extend into the social arena…What most excites the always-enthusiastic Mayer is something called "contextual discovery…If you're standing in front of a cathedral in Spain, we know from the GPS in your phone where you are, even which way you're facing. If you've never been there before, you're probably a tourist. We can tell you interesting facts about it—when it was built and by who. Or, if you've been walking past it every day, we might show you the news…Mayer also explained how the Google Goggles application…can work in conjunction with location…if Google knows where you are and the time of year, it can do a much more reliable job of identifying a bird you just photographed…at a restaurant you might see a marked-up version of a menu on your phone, based on experiences and recommendations of your friends and/or by people who go there regularly…We ultimately know we need to get social right," she conceded. "If you think about the Web, there are four key platforms—search, video, mobile, and social. Google has done really well in three of those four. And we haven't gotten social right yet…Google's maps are evolving quickly, Mayer explained, with a new version available…that loads more quickly and has features like rapid zooming in and can store maps on the phone if you regularly go to an area…Mayer herself carries two phones—an iPhone 4 and the Nexus S…The next big breakthroughs will come in image recognition, like with the bird example, or facial recognition…”
  4. Google’s Search for a Clearer Voice http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/guest/26242/ Smart phone…Typing on a touch screen or a downsized keyboard is still frustrating compared to a full-size computer keyboard. That's probably why Google says that, even before the release of its new personalized Voice Search app for Android in mid-December, one in four mobile searches were already input by voice rather than from a keyboard…Google's servers will now log up to two years of your voice commands in order to more precisely parse exactly what you're saying…the app originally got about three out of five searches correct. After a few days, the ratio crept up to four out of five. It's surprisingly good at searches that involve common noun…and…vertical searches…like airline flights and movie listings…Voice Search digitizes the user's input commands and sends them off to Google's gargantuan server farms. There, the spoken words are broken down and compared both to statistical models of what words other people mean when they utter those syllables, plus a history of the user's own voice commands, through which Google refines its matching algorithm for that particular voice…Voice Search doubles as a spoken-command system for the phone. As shown in this video, it understands commands such as, "Send mail to Mike LeBeau. How's life in New York treating you? The weather's beautiful here." The app will find LeBeau in your contacts—it's better at matching names here than in a Web search, because it's working with a limited set…”
  5. Google To Remove H.264 Support From Chrome http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/01/google-reveals-plan-to-remove-h-264-support-from-chrome/ In a move to encourage support for royalty-free codecs on the Web, Google…will remove the patent-encumbered H.264 codec from future versions of its Chrome Web browser. This new twist in the video codec debate could help accelerate adoption of Google’s own WebM format, but it will also compound the technical challenges faced by content producers who want to use standards-based video to reach a broad audience on the Web…the H.264 codec is the current de facto industry standard for encoding digital video…Web standards advocates oppose using it as the standard format for the HTML5 video tag. The underlying compression mechanisms in H.264 are patented and adopters have to pay royalties to a licensing consortium called MPEG-LA…In an effort to provide a viable open alternative to H.264, Google acquired video technology company On2 and opened up the company’s competitive VP8 codec, creating a new royalty-free media format called WebM. Support for WebM has since been added to Firefox, Opera, and Chrome. Microsoft and Apple have declined to adopt the new royalty-free format, however, and have remained committed to supporting H.264 in their browsers…”

General Technology

  1. Anti Sleep Pilot detects drowsy drivers http://www.gizmag.com/anti-sleep-pilot-monitors-driver-fatigue/17439/ “…Tired motorists are also eight times more likely than rested motorists to get in an accident, displaying driving abilities similar to those of someone who is intoxicated. The problem is, we often don’t know when we’ve reached that “too tired” state…the Anti Sleep Pilot…device sits on your dashboard, monitoring you and your driving conditions, and lets you know when it’s time to pull over and take a ten-minute rest…Once you start driving, the Pilot continuously calculates your fatigue level, and displays your status. Its calculations combine 26 different parameters, including your personal risk profile, your fatigue status when you started driving, and input from a clock and accelerometer. It also maintains and measures driver alertness through occasional reactive tests, in which you must touch the device as soon as indicated. The longer you take to react, the slower your reaction time is getting…it does not use cameras to monitor the driver’s eyes. When the combination of variables indicate that you’re reaching your limit, the Pilot’s visible and audible signals alert you to the fact that you need to take a break – the device is light- and sound-sensitive, so its display and alarm automatically adjust for cabin conditions…the unit is able to monitor time and vehicle speed…so there’s no pulling over for only a few seconds just to shut it up…Anti Sleep Pilot is so far only available in Denmark, although interested parties can pre-order on the company website. Its price should be around US$250…”
  2. GE Ecomagination Challenge for “Eco-Home” technology http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/07/ge-ecomagination-phase-2/ General Electric…revealed a new — perhaps not surprising — “eco-home” focus for phase two of their Ecomagination Challenge, a competition through which GE and its venture capital partners committed to invest $200 million in clean, green technology startups. The Ecomagination Challenge is now seeking green tech ideas to power the home…the competition wants proposals in the following consumer-facing categories: household energy efficiency including management software, appliances and air conditioning; and renewable power, from solar, wind, hydro and biomass. Applications will be accepted online through GE’s Ecomagination Challenge site from January 18 to March 1, 2011…GE’s chief marketing offier and senior vice president, Beth Comstock said…Phase one was great…,But we felt we could get consumers more engaged…We got about 1,000 ideas in the home energy management space alone, out of about 4,000 total ideas in the last phase. They came from kids as young as ten and entrepreneurs over ninety…”
  3. Best Buy Launches Buy Back Program http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20028042-54.html Best Buy today launched a buy-back program designed to quash the fear of technology obsolescence…When Best Buy customers purchase the service with their products, they can return their product and get paid for a fraction of its purchase price, depending on how long the consumer had it…The cost of the buy-back program for laptops, Netbooks, or tablets is $69.99. For smartphones that cost less than $350, it's $39.99, and $59.99 for smartphones that cost more than $350…Best Buy could extend the program to game machines or other electronics, depending on consumer reaction…A customer can get up to 50 percent of the purchase price within six months, up to 40 percent for six to 12 months, up to 30 percent for one year to 18 months, and up to 20 percent for 18 months to two years…”
  4. Lexar Echo MX and ZX Flash Drives http://www.storagereview.com/lexar_echo_mx_and_zx_flash_drives_announced_ces_2011 Lexar has announced two new Echo flash drive models in time for CES 2011. The Echo MX drive is a high performance thumb drive with a nice always-on capacity meter and the Echo ZX drive is a small-footprint drive meant to live in your notebook for transparent backups. Both drives feature 128-bit AES encryption and use the Lexar Echo backup software for no-touch backup. The Echo MX and Echo ZX drives have five-year and two-year limited warranties, respectively…the Echo ZX is a small-footprint thumbdrive that is ideally small enough to leave in your notebook's USB port. While there, it will backup files as they are changed on the system by using the Lexar Echo backup software. The Echo ZX is available in capacities of 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB…”
  5. ioSafe Hard Drive Withstands Drops, Submersion, Shotgun Blasts http://www.pcworld.com/article/216253/hard_drive_withstands_drops_submersion_shotgun_blasts.html ioSafe's Rugged Portable hard drive…withstood drops, submersion and even blasts from a 12-guage shotgun…The drive ranges in size from 250GB to 1TB and is priced starting at US$150. The case is waterproof and can protect the data for up to three days in salt or fresh water at a depth of 10 feet, or 30 feet in the case of the titanium SSD version. The aluminum drive can withstand drops from 10 feet and the titanium from 20 feet…the most impressive demonstration of the drive's durability was at a Las Vegas gun range where data was recovered after the drive was shot with six blasts from a 12-gauge shotgun. The outer case was peppered with buckshot but there was no loss of data…The rugged drive has USB 3.0 and FireWire connections. Any model purchased comes with one year of data recovery service. Three years costs $50 and five years costs $100. The service includes data recovery even in cases of accidental deletion…”

DHMN Technology

  1. Paul Carr endorses Freedom™ and Little Brother, says no more cloud for him http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/10/why-im-having-second-thoughts-about-the-wisdom-of-the-cloud/ I’ve always been a big advocate of storing things in the cloud. Not just emails and files, but my entire life…I bank online, I pay taxes electronically…For email, voice and SMS I use Google Voice, forwarding to whichever SIM card I happen to be using, wherever I am in the world. Recently, though, I’ve started to have second thoughts about the wisdom of the cloud…it’s a question of data paranoia…I’ve been growing increasingly alarmed by stories like this: the US government subpoenaing Twitter (and reportedly Gmail and Facebook) users over their support of Wikileaks. The casual use of subpoenas, including against foreign citizens is worrying enough – the New York Times says over 50,000 “national security letters” are sent each year - but even more concerning is the fact that often these subpoenas are sealed, preventing the companies from notifying the users they affect. It used to be that if the US government wanted access to documents or letters in my possession they’d have to subpoena me directly…I’m giving serious thought to the idea of taking my communications back out of the cloud: switching back to a traditional email client and storing my documents on my encrypted hard-drive…a little less…text messaging and a little more…old school voice conversations…I’ll miss the convenience of having my documents available wherever I am. But increasingly that feels like a small price to pay…”
  2. MakerBot Thing-O-Matic – the DIY 3D printer http://www.gizmag.com/makerbot-thing-o-matic--the-diy-3d-printer/17516/ “…the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic…is a desktop 3D printer that comes in kit form and, once assembled, can then be plugged into a PC via USB to print 3D objects from your own 3D digital designs…The kit comes with v2.0 of MakerBot’s Automated Build Platform that lets users set up a print queue of multiple or a variety of objects, with the machine automatically clearing the build surface between builds and ejecting the completed object before moving onto the next job…Thing-O-Matic features the MakerBot MK5 plastruder that the company says is “essentially unbreakable” making it extremely reliable and easy to maintain. Changing the filament is also easy thanks to the filament pressure thumbscrew, and can even be hot-swapped mid print…The MakerBot Thing-O-Matic kit comes with all components, all the tools you’ll need to put them together and one pound (454 g) of ABS plastic to print with. It sells for US$1,225…”
  3. Pioneer prototype laser-based heads-up display with Android http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/09/pioneer-prototype-laser-based-heads-up-display-with-android-hand/ Looking down at gauges? Officially passe. Check out Pioneer's vision of the future, a prototype that uses an embedded laser projector…the idea is that a virtual concierge…pops up to give you information, and you could also get streaming video from traffic cameras, all without you having to look down. The information is supposed to come via a smartphone…an Android…”

Leisure & Entertainment

  1. iCade turns iPad into a throwback arcade gaming tablet http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/01/icade-game-cabinet-ces/ Less than a year after ThinkGeek created an arcade gaming cabinet for iPad as part of its annual April 1 shenanigans, Ion Audio has partnered with both the geek shopping site and Atari to bring forth the real thing. The iCade — yup, that’s the same “product” name as the ThinkGeek gag version — looks like a miniaturized version of any typical arcade machine. The top flips open, you slide the iPad in, and wireless Bluetooth connectivity does the rest…when Fred Galpern, Ion’s gaming product manager, saw the imaginary iCade pop up on ThinkGeek’s site last year, he called up the site’s brass and proposed they work together to make the dream a reality…Atari was brought on board as a partner in supplying games for the unit…Ion says it will release a developers kit, so we’ll hopefully see a slew of iCade-compatible games by year’s end…$100 is all you’ll need to plunk down at Ion Audio or ThinkGeek (yes, the site will be selling an exclusive ICade that looks like the April Fools’ version) if you want to relive some ’80s gaming glory days…”
  2. Hands On with the World's First Color E-Ink eReader http://www.electronista.com/articles/11/01/08/hands.on.with.hanvon.color.e.ink.reader/ “…Hanvon's E920 color E Ink reader…screen is, as promised, much more interesting to use than on just about any other e-paper reader. Colors are muted due to the nature of the technology, but it still stands out very clearly and is extremely sharp: at 1600x1200, the 9.7-inch display isn't quite Retina Display accurate but is noticeably…"pixel-free"…The display is very slow to refresh…It's likely the added complexity of color in a still young technology creating the influence, but it could make for some frustration for those read quickly…Apart from books, there's support for viewing a dictionary, browsing photos, playing simple games or even creating notes on the touchscreen with an included stylus. It rather smartly uses an optional pop-up menu system and a single menu bar to keep the interface out of the way of reading or drawing. The touchscreen was very usable with fingers, but the stylus was merely adequate…It will reach its home country of China first; US plans haven't been mentioned so far…”
  3. Ion's Book Saver personal scanner converts your books to digital http://content.usatoday.com/communities/technologylive/post/2011/01/at-ces-ions-booksaver-personal-scanner-converts-your-books-to-digital/1 “…good old fashioned print books…schlep those along digitally without breaking your back or having to repurchase every title. Ion's…new $189 Book Saver Book Scanner…lets you convert printed materials to digital PDF files that are compatible with popular electronic readers…Ion, which is perhaps best known for digital turntables that convert LP records to MP3s, claims it takes less than 15 minutes to convert a 200-page book or about 1 second per two pages…You place the book onto a cradle that's angled in such a way that you need not worry that pages lie completely flat. The contraption has two cameras that take separate images in rapid succession of each page of an open book after you press a button that loosely resembles a video game controller. You then lift a cover, turn the page and snap the button again…”

Economy and Technology

  1. Skype buys Qik http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/06/confirmed-skype-buys-mobile-video-startup-qik/ “…Skype…picked up mobile video startup Qik…deal was around $150 million…Qik, which enables mobile phones users to record and stream videos in realtime, has 5 million users…Qik was founded in 2006 and offers innovative and flexible solutions to capture and share video with anyone across mobile devices, the web, and desktop platforms. Videos can be shared in real time or stored…The Qik service is available on over 200 mobile phones across the Android, iPhone, Symbian, Blackberry and Windows Mobile platforms…”
  2. Kickstarter: Direct To The Audience For Crowdsourced Funding http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/10/startup-sherpa-kickstarter/ “…to crowdsource the funding for a project—whether it is a product, album, or a film—one of the best places to find both patrons and early customers is Kickstarter…Chris Dixon dives deep into the crowdsourced-funding phenomenon with Kickstarter founder Perry Chen. The majority of projects on Kickstarter are creative ones involving film, art, or music. But product design and startups can be just as creative…some of the most notable projects are technology products, including open social network Diaspora and the TikTok iPod Nano watch that raised almost $1 million. In the videos below, Dixon and Chen discuss what made those two projects take off. Chen also offers advice for how to kickstart your own project on his site…”
  3. Intel agrees to pay NVIDIA $1.5 billion http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12159922 The world's biggest micro-chip maker Intel has agreed to pay its smaller rival Nvidia $1.5bn…to use its technology…Intel now has the right to use Nvidia technology at a time when graphics processing is increasingly important…Intel is the dominant market player supplying micro-processors for 80% of the world's personal computers. However, the sector is changing rapidly as computing becomes more mobile…The amount that Intel has agreed to pay in Monday's settlement reflects the importance of Nvidia's graphics technology to the chip-making giant, which is keen to take a slice of the mobile computing market…”

Civilian Aerospace

  1. The Case for the Moon: Why We Should Go Back Now http://www.space.com/9716-moon-110110.html The moon, once an enticing siren for intrepid space travelers, has begun to feel old-hat to some…But many refuse to give up the goal of sending humans back to the moon…SPACE.com asked many scientists, astronauts and space leaders about the role our moon could play in future exploration. Here, then, is the case for the moon…The moon is still exciting…Important science…A mission for humanity…Stepping Stone…Useful lunar resources…”
  2. What Made 400 People Volunteer for a One-Way Mission to Mars? http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/01/10/space-volunteer-way-mission-mars/ An interplanetary trip to Mars could take as little as 10 months, but returning would be virtually impossible…A special edition of the Journal of Cosmology details exactly how a privately-funded, one-way mission to Mars could depart as soon as 20 years from now -- and it prompted more than 400 readers to volunteer as colonists. "I've had a deep desire to explore the universe ever since I was a child and understood what a rocket was," Peter Greaves told FoxNews.com. Greaves is the father of three, and a jack-of-all-trades who started his own motorcycle dispatch company and fixes computers and engines on the side…Other volunteers include a 69-year old computer programmer, a college student at Texas A&M, and a 45-year-old nurse…The environment, once the novelty wears off, is likely to be deadly boring. Despite being well prepared and fully equipped there are certain to be unanticipated problems that cannot be remedied. One by one the crew will get old, sick, and die-off."…Harrison said that he was sure good colonists could be found, but that political and regulatory hurdles would be a tougher issue. There will be tremendous public and political opposition from many members of the public to a mission which can only end in death ...Eventually the outpost would reach self-sufficiency, and then it could serve as a hub for a greatly expanded colonization program." Given the difficulties of the mission, Lana Tao, the editor of the Journal, said she was surprised by the response. "The e-mails volunteering were a complete surprise. At first we thought the e-mails were a joke, that volunteers were not serious. Then we received more and more with men giving their reasons and qualifications, and we realized they were completely serious." Pasha Rostov, the 69-year old computer programmer, is serious about it. "I do VERY well with solitude," he wrote of his qualifications. "I am handy with tools, very good at making things work, have generated my own solar energy, built three houses (with my own hands) and am quite sane and stable. And, I am ready to go to Mars. Sign me up," he wrote.”

Supercomputing & GPUs

  1. Redefining What is Possible With GPUs http://www.scientificcomputing.com/articles-HPC-GPGPU-Redefining-What-is-Possible-010711.aspx General purpose graphics processor unit (GPGPU) technology has arrived during a perfect storm of opportunities. Multi-threaded software is now a necessity as x86 and other conventional processor designs have been forced to adopt a multi-core approach…parallelism is now the path to performance…applications and research efforts that do not invest in multi-threaded software will not benefit from modern multi-core processors, because single-threaded and poorly scaling software will not be able to utilize extra processor cores. As a result, computational performance will plateau at or near current levels, placing the projects that depend on these legacy applications at risk of both stagnation and loss of competitiveness…any teenager (or research effort) from Beijing, China, to New Delhi, India, can purchase a teraflop-capable graphics processor and start developing and testing massively parallel applications…Installing four high-end GPUs in a workstation can create a machine with a peak flop rate comparable to the large MPP2 supercomputer that Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) made available to users just a few years ago…commodity supercomputing in the hands of the masses is going to have a huge impact on both commercial products and scientific research…GPGPU technology has made the competition global and accessible to almost anyone who wishes to compete, as opposed to the past where competition was restricted to a relatively small community of scientists. While programming GPGPUs to achieve high-performance can be a challenge, and there are internal resource limitations that must be overcome, the wide variety of applications that already exhibit very high-performance — as shown on the NVIDIA Web site and in the scientific literature — clearly demonstrates that people are willing to put in the time and effort needed to make this technology work. Those who ignore the potential of multi-threading and GPGPU devices place themselves in a position of competitive disadvantage…”
  2. Multicores and Manycores and GPGPUs, Oh My! http://www.scientificcomputing.com/articles-HPC-Multicores-and-Manycores-and-GPGPUs-Oh-My-010711.aspx To recap the problem: Most high performance computing applications, like PC applications, were originally written to run on one single-threaded processor. Thirty years of hardware-software innovations have enabled most codes to exploit only a modest number of parallel processing elements…56 percent of HPC codes are no more than eight-way parallel and only six percent can run on more than 128 processor cores. The bulk of sustained performance progress on real-world applications has come not from hardware parallelism, but from Moore’s Law — governed, generational jumps in single-threaded processor speeds. This evolutionary gravy train hit a heat-and-power wall half a dozen years ago. Since then, several processor strategies have emerged to help get the train moving forward again. This is important, because…12 percent of HPC sites have at least some codes that run more slowly on their newest HPC system than on the prior one, and 50 percent of the sites expect unprecedented retrograde performance like this on some codes within 12 months. At the recent HPC User Forum meeting in Seattle, steering committee chairman Steve Finn of BAE Systems led a panel of experts from AMD, Army Research Laboratory, Cray, ET International, Intel, NVIDIA, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) through a discussion of alternative processor strategies…titled: “Heterogeneous Multicore, Manycore and GPGPU Computing in HPC…”

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