2011/02/15

NEW NET Weekly List for 15 Feb 2011

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 15 February 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. Yahoo launches tablet-focused 'digital newsstand' http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-20031344-36.html Yahoo announced…"Livestand," an app for tablet and mobile devices that will start as a personalized browsing tool for Yahoo-owned content and, in the future, possibly external content…content will be customized based on user preference, as well as time of the day and location…Advertisements…will be "magazine-style."…Tablet-based publications have been all the rage since the debut of the iPad a year ago, with recent months seeing the emergence of tablet-only news publications like News Corp.'s The Daily and lifestyle magazines like Virgin Group's Project. But what Yahoo has built, and is initially fueling with its own content, is a visual news reader--a concept that has been popularized by the likes of Flipboard, a start-up that turns RSS feeds and Twitter streams into a magazine-like interface…”

2. New Tools Emerge to Help Develop Facebook Pages http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20110215/tc_pcworld/newtoolsemergetohelpdevelopfacebookpages “…The Facebook Page is replacing both blogs and corporate Web sites as the primary means of engaging customers and promoting products and services. The need to be unique and stand out from the crowd has given rise to new products and services to help businesses design better Facebook Pages. Creating a Facebook Page itself, is quite simple. Just go to the Facebook "Create a Page" section and follow the prompts. The tricky part is tweaking and customizing it to make it more appealing, or to promote specific products and services. Facebook has its own flavor of HTML called FBML--Facebook Markup Language. The Static FBML app lets companies add custom tabs to the Facebook Page…With a little HTML--or FBML as the case may be--skill, a business can use Static FBML to create dynamic, eye-catching tabs for a Facebook Page…For those who like a more user-friendly, no coding necessary, plug and play solution, there is Shortstack…Ad agencies and Web developers can get in on the action as well. FaceItPages offers a turn-key custom Facebook solution. The FaceItPages White Label option works for Web site creation services…”

3. Blekko Partners With Stack Overflow To Improve Search Results http://searchengineland.com/blekko-partners-with-stack-overflow-64795 Blekko and Stack Overflow have announced a partnership that aims to use the latter’s community of programmers to improve programming- and tech-related searches on Blekko. The agreement calls for Stack Overflow’s community of programmers to “help improve and maintain programming-related slashtags,” while Stack’s CTO, Jeff Atwood, will be the editor of those slashtags. Stack Overflow’s logo will show up on search results that have been curated by Atwood and the editor team…The idea of turning to a community of experts to help curate search results is an interesting and potentially successful tactic for Blekko…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

4. Microsoft Update Offers an Easier Way to Turn off Autoruns http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/219101/microsoft_update_offers_an_easier_way_to_turn_off_autoruns.html Microsoft's latest round of patches released on Tuesday includes an optional update that will shut off the "autorun" capability for users of older Windows operating systems, a move the company has made to reflect the resurgence of worms carried on removable media. Autorun is a feature that will automatically launch programs that are contained on removable media such as CDs, DVDs or USB sticks. It was designed for the convenience of users, but it also has been used by malware writers to force their malicious code onto victim's computers, with notable examples being the Stuxnet and Conficker worms. With the launch of Windows 7, Microsoft made a change in how autorun and a related feature, called autoplay, behaved compared to previous versions of Windows. To reduce the risk from worms, autoplay in Windows 7 didn't present an option to autorun programs contained on non-optical med…”

5. Data theft attacks besiege oil industry http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20031291-264.html For years, companies in the oil and energy industry have been the victims of attempts to steal e-mail and other sensitive information from hackers believed to be in China, according to a new report from McAfee…"Night Dragon," penetrated company networks through Web servers, compromised desktop computers, bypassed safeguards by misusing administrative credentials, and used remote administration tools to obtain the information…McAfee and other security companies now have identified the method and can provide a defense…McAfee didn't reveal details about what SCADA data was involved, but it's a potentially serious matter: such systems are at the operational heart of everything from oil pipelines and refineries to factories and electrical power distribution networks…the attacks appeared to be purely about espionage, not sabotage…The tools, techniques, and network activities used in these attacks originate primarily in China…we have been able to identify one individual who has provided the crucial C&C infrastructure to the attackers--this individual is based in Heze City, Shandong Province, China…The individual runs a company that…provides "Hosted Servers in the U.S. with no records kept"…The company's U.S.-based leased servers have been used to host the zwShell C&C…application that controlled machines across the victim companies…all of the identified data exfiltration activity occurred from Beijing-based IP…addresses and operated inside the victim companies weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Beijing time, which also suggests that the involved individuals were "company men" working on a regular job, rather than freelance or unprofessional hackers…Although it is possible that all of these indicators are an elaborate red-herring operation designed to pin the blame for the attacks on Chinese hackers, we believe this to be highly unlikely…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

6. Why WebOS Hasn’t Lived Up to Its Potential — Yet http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/02/webos-hp-palm-developers/ “…As of November 2010, Palm’s market share of U.S. mobile platforms weighs in at a paltry 3.9 percent…Sales of the Palm Pre — the flagship device…were lackluster, with numbers never breaking the 1 million mark in the first three months of the phone’s release. Weigh that against the iPhone 3GS, which launched two weeks after the Pre. 1 million of Apple’s handsets were sold in the first three days after release…Why did webOS seem so promising and then fall flat on its face?...WebOS introduced a sound development metaphor which had the potential to attract developers…Apps for the webOS platform are written primarily in JavaScript and HTML, programming languages used by developers to code for the web…Lots of people who wouldn’t have otherwise created apps flocked to to webOS…They could come in and port over a portion of an existing web app to webOS in a matter of hours…Another big draw for the developer crowd — “developer mode.” After entering the Konami code while on the Pre’s main idle launch screen, the phone becomes startlingly easy to hack. “Users can install anything from patches that change core functionality of webOS,” says developer Justin Niessner, “to replacement kernels that enable a user to overclock their WebOS device.”…But with every advantage webOS had in the veritable mobile platform buffet available to consumers, there were just as many setbacks…it took us six months to see a product. In Silicon Valley time, that’s an eternity.” The Pre was all but considered vaporware by the time its June 6 launch date came around…As for the phone itself, some found the Pre’s design lacking. “Palm definitely could have done themselves a favor by releasing some hardware with more modern design cues…”

7. The Next Evolution in Mobile Search Will Be Built on Voice http://gigaom.com/2011/02/11/the-next-evolution-in-mobile-search-will-be-built-on-voice/ “…Vlingo has decided to focus on becoming a personal assistant…an evolution from voice as a mere user interface…to voice as a natural means of getting a computer to do what you want. Much like Siri, the personal assistant app that Apple purchased last year, Vlingo has decided its future rests on helping users get things done without worrying about how they phrase a request and which app they need to use…When I use [conventional] voice commands on my Android handset, I have to find my program…hit a button to record my message…see the message…elect to hit send. The message is recorded verbatim if Google is feeling good, although I have to tell it how I want to punctuate the message…With Vlingo’s Android app, I open the Vlingo app, tap a button, and say, “Tell Kevin Tofel he should try the Vlingo app.” Vlingo then opens a text message addressed to Kevin and fills out the body text with “You should try the Vlingo app.” Instead of dictating text, I’m dictating actions…Vlingo currently offers an Android app, a BlackBerry app and an iOS app for Apple devices…the company also has a deal with two carmakers and a smart TV company to offer its personal assistant inside vehicles and so people can control their televisions from their couch without using a complicated remote…download the free version of Vlingo and check out the In-Car function…a user simply says, “Hey Vlingo,” and then issues a command. The app takes care of…reading back a text or email so you never have to take your eyes off the road to ensure that it’s correct. When comfortable, just say, “Send.” It also will read your incoming emails and texts out loud while you’re driving…”

8. Smartphones pass PCs in sales http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/02/07/idc-smartphone-shipment-numbers-passed-pc-in-q4-2010/ “…in the final quarter of 2010, smartphones passed global PC shipments for the first time in history…Today's IDC numbers have Smartphones climbing to over 100 million units for the quarter…"Android continues to gain by leaps and bounds, helping to drive the smartphone market," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team. "It has become the cornerstone of multiple vendors' smartphone strategies…Compare the 100 million smartphone figure to the 92 million PC numbers…This 'inflection point has arrived quicker than many have thought…How quickly have the mighty PC fallen…Smartphones don't include the tens of millions of tablets and iPods which could be considered mobile smart devices…”

9. HP unveils TouchPad tablet, WebOS headed to PCs http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-20031203-94.html Hewlett-Packard today took the wraps off its long-anticipated tablet, a 9.7-inch device it's calling the TouchPad, along with the bombshell that its WebOS is headed to PCs. The TouchPad will run…a 1024x768 pixel display, a weight of 1.5 pounds, 13mm thickness, front-facing cameras for video chat, 16GB or 32GB of built-in memory, support for Adobe's Flash, Beats by Dre speakers, and a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon…Initially the TouchPad will be offered as a Wi-Fi only device, though HP said it plans to release a version with 3G/4G mobile connectivity later…The new version of the Pre doubles the display resolution of the previous model, adds HD video recording, and a front-facing camera, along with squeezing in a 1.4GHz Qualcomm processor. HP is offering two versions of the Pre 3, one that's HSPA plus, and another that's an EVDO Rev A World phone. Either can be had with 8GB or 16GB of memory…The other new phone is called the Veer, which HP is positioning as an alternative to what the company called "jumbo phones"…The Veer is akin to a scaled-down version of the Pre in terms of its size, packing a similar slide-down keyboard form factor, HSPA plus, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, 8GB of storage, and an 800Mhz Snapdragon processor…” http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/hp-abandons-windows-plans-to-integrate-webos-into-pcs/ “…After announcing three new WebOS products…HP dropped a bomb; the world’s largest computer manufacturer will be putting WebOS on its printers, laptops, and desktop PCs next year. “I’m excited to announce our plans to bring the WebOS to the device that has the biggest reach of all: the personal computer,” said Todd Bradley, head of HP’s clients group. “Do the math on two PCs per second. You easily exceed 100 million devices with WebOS deployed annually. That’s the start of something pretty big…” http://venturebeat.com/2011/02/09/touchpad-multitasking/

10. AT&T offers unlimited free calls to any cell phone http://www.geek.com/articles/mobile/att-offers-new-plan-for-unlimited-free-calls-to-any-cell-phone-in-the-country-2011029/ Tomorrow is officially the day that the first iPhones will be sold by Verizon Wireless shops, and by most analyst estimates, it’s going to be a windfall weekend for the carrier…other carriers are panicking. T-Mobile has already announced that this weekend they’ll be giving away every phone in their inventory for free on contract…AT&T…has just announced that it will roll out a new calling feature that will allow certain AT&T customers to make unlimited calls to any other mobile number, even if it’s not on AT&T…the new option will allow users who decide to stick with AT&T despite Verizon getting the iPhone a potentially serious incentive to do so… unlimited free talk to any cell phone in the country…Last week, AT&T offered free microcells to customers “as our way of saying thank you for your continued loyalty…”

11. Are Web Apps The Future For Mobile Devices? http://www.tcgeeks.com/are-web-apps-the-future-for-mobile-devices/ “…If you own a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet computer then it’s probably easy to agree that the apps are a very large part of the device…Today I got word that one of my favorite companies in the world, 37Signals, had just released an app for…Basecamp. If you go looking in the iTunes App Store you wont’ see their app. If you look anywhere in the Android App Market you won’t find their app there either…It’s a web app…that makes a huge difference. Here’s why…when 37Signals set out to make an app for Basecamp they actually started by putting up a job ad for an iOS developer…Android started to really take off and of course their customers who had Android devices started to ask when they would have a version for them. It was clear to 37Signals that they would now have to hire an Android developer as well…they came to a conclusion that I think many companies are going to start considering: build an app that can run on just about every popular smartphone platform (at least those that support WebKit-based browsers)…Why build for one specific platform, on one specific device…by developing a web app, 37Signals can now support the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, Motorola Droid X, Motorola Droid 2, Samsung Galaxy S, HTC Incredible, HTC Evo, Palm Pre 2, BlackBerry Torch, or any other device running iOS 4+, Android 2.1+, webOS 2, or BlackBerry 6…Take the new startup OnSwipe who are building their web app-based platform for “insanely easy tablet publishing”…web apps are built using web-based technologies that take advantage of something called WebKit. WebKit is a way for the browser to identify your device and work just like a native app – taking advantage of multitouch and all of the other great things mobile devices can do…The advantage is that you could be using Android, or iOS or BlackBerry OS and still use the app…”

12. Nvidia pushing tablets to quad-core chip this year http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-20032113-64.html With its Tegra chip already well-ensconced in some of the most highly anticipated tablets from Motorola and Samsung, Nvidia is keen on moving the market quickly to super-high-octane tablets packing quad-core processors. Nvidia's dual-core Tegra 2 is already in the Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and LG Optimus Pad…Not resting on its laurels, Nvidia has started sample shipments of a quad-core Tegra processor codenamed Kal-El…We're expecting the first products with this processor to be out this holiday season…Nvidia is claiming a five-fold increase in performance over the current Tegra 2 chip…”

Open Source

13. Why The Arduino Won And Why It’s Here To Stay http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/02/why-the-arduino-won-and-why-its-here-to-stay.html “…In about a week, a rep from a large chip company is going to stop by and show me another “Arduino-like platform,” aka The Arduino Killer. This a pretty regular occurrence around here; every month or so there’s a company or person who wants to make the “next Arduino.” They usually contact me because I’ve covered the Arduino for years, helped get it in the maker world, and I use it daily in my work at Adafruit. I think it’s had an amazing impact on electronic hobbyists and artists, perhaps as much as the personal computer in the early days (Homebrew Computer Club, etc). There are more than 100,000+ Arduinos on the market, and by my estimates, a lot more when you add in the derivatives (approximately 150K as of 2/2011). Within the next 5 to 10 years, the Arduino will be used in every school to teach electronics and physical computing — that’s my prediction…Most of the time these Arduino-Killer brain-picking sessions end with well wishing, a list of things to consider if they want to kick Arduino in the pants, and that’s that — they usually never really do it. There are a few articles about Arduino, with some great history, but I want to address why it appears to have “won.”…I’m going to tell you why and why it’s here to stay. If you’re looking to make something to beat the Arduino, I got you covered — here’s your recipe…”

14. Remastering your Own Linux Distro http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/osrc/article.php/3924656/The-Joy-of-Remastering-your-Own-Linux-Distro.htm “…there are circumstances where remastering Linux makes a lot of sense…Sometimes individuals and companies are inclined to customize a Linux distribution to meet their highly specialized needs…generally the idea is to minimize wasted resources while maintaining complete platform control. Why install the extra software packages and code if it's not needed?...For most enterprise situations, I believe that remastering is the way to go. It's likely cheaper (in man hours) and simpler, as there are tools that make this easy. You also get the benefit of making changes later without much thought…What is "Linux From Scratch?" The idea behind Linux From Scratch is that you can work with either a base of code or instead, opt for something that is piece by piece…One of the easiest ways of accomplishing a reliable Linux remastering would be with a Web-based tool like SUSE Studio. What makes using this tool so compelling is that it doesn't require a whole lot of Linux expertise to operate. Unlike many of the Ubuntu-based remastering tools, the SUSE Studio utility is very simple, clean…”

15. OpenOffice.org vs. LibreOffice http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/osrc/article.php/3923351/OpenOfficeorg-vs-LibreOffice.htm On September 28, 2010, LibreOffice was announced as a fork of the OpenOffice.org office suite…last week…the two rivals released their 3.3 versions, and users had the chance to see whether the differences in the culture of the projects made any difference in the code…while the improvements over the previous common release 3.2 are numerous, few are major…a point-by-point comparison shows that while the new releases have numerous improvements over version 3.2 of the code, the advantage seems to lie with LibreOffice. So far as I can see, OpenOffice.org 3.3 contains no new features that LibreOffice 3.3 lacks while, by contrast, LibreOffice.org 3.3 has a number of features that OpenOffice.org 3.3 does not have…”

SkyNet

16. Two-step verification sign-in for Gmail / Google accounts http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/advanced-sign-in-security-for-your.html “…Most of us are used to entrusting our information to a password, but we know that some of you are looking for something stronger…we've developed an advanced opt-in security feature called 2-step verification that makes your Google Account significantly more secure by helping to verify that you're the real owner of your account…2-step verification requires two independent factors for authentication…your password, plus a code obtained using your phone…set-up wizard will guide you through the process, including setting up a backup phone and creating backup codes in case you lose access to your primary phone…After entering your password, Google will call you with the code, send you an SMS message or give you the choice to generate the code for yourself using a mobile application on your Android, BlackBerry or iPhone device. The choice is up to you…It's an extra step, but it's one that significantly improves the security of your Google Account because it requires the powerful combination of both something you know—your username and password—and something that only you should have—your phone…”

17. Google adds video editor to Honeycomb http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13970_7-20032003-78.html Google today unveiled Movie Studio, a new application for the upcoming Honeycomb era of Android tablets that lets people edit videos…The software…is designed to expand on a phone's abilities to capture imagery…people can combine still images and videos to create broader video that can be shared online. People will be able to add musical soundtracks, fade to black at the end of the video, and add effects like the Ken Burns-style panning so common on Apple video software…The software requires Android 3.0, the tablet-optimized version of Android set to debut soon with Motorola's Xoom tablet…Google likes a six-month development cycle for Android. With Gingerbread released in late 2010, that suggests the sequel should arrive in the second quarter of this year…”

18. How to Switch to Google Calendar http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/219629/how_to_switch_to_google_calendar.html I want to sync my calendar across all my Macs and iOS devices, give my wife access to my calendar (and have access to hers), and do it all without paying for Apple's MobileMe. For that, Apple's iCal just won't do. Still, I like the iPhone's Calendar app. With the free Google Calendar, I found a scheduling solution that lets me keep myself organized, continue using the iOS Calendar app, give my family and coworkers easy access to my availability, and easily add new appointments from anywhere. Here's how I set things up…”

19. Google Chrome Extension Allows Blocking Content Farms and Other Sites From Search Results http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20110215/tc_pcworld/googlechromeextensionblockssitesfromsearchresults If you're tired of getting crappy Google search results filled with sites that offer content with little or no value, you can do something about it. A new Google Chrome browser extension called Personal Blocklist can stop those sites from appearing in your results and you'll be helping Google out at the same. The extension, created by Google's Web Spam fighter Matt Cutts, allows you to create personal blacklists of specific sites that you don't want to see in your search results. Your blacklists will also be sent to Google, where the search giant will consider using the data to adjust its search algorithm and rank the offending sites lower…”

General Technology

20. How Metamaterials Will Boost Wireless Power Transmission http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/26392/ “…there is a growing interest in wireless power transmission. RFID chips have become ubiquitous in the western world thanks to the ability to provide them with small amounts of power power wirelessly. But there have been many much more ambitious attempts to devise more powerful ways to transmit power. The Japanese have a long-standing interest in beaming power to the ground from solar panels in space…One of the limitations of aircraft is the amount of fuel they can carry so there have been various attempts to beam power to them using microwaves and lasers. Some researchers have even looked at the possibility of launching and powering a spacecraft on the tip of a powerful laser beam…the idea of wirelessly recharging portable devices such as smartphones, laptops and media players has obvious appeal…There are numerous problems with all these ideas. Microwave and laser beams can carry significant power but they also tend to fry anything that gets in their way. Inductive chargers are safer because they rely on a resonant effect between two closely spaced coils. But they are not particularly efficient at the best of times and what efficiency they do have drops off a cliff as the distance between the coils increases…Yaroslav Urzhumov and David Smith at Duke University in North Carolina say there is a way to dramatically improve this using metamaterials, the strange artificial stuff that researchers can use to bend electromagnetic waves to their will…In practical terms, that translates into a big increase in efficiency. "The power transfer efficiency with the slab can be an order of magnitude greater than free-space efficiency…”

21. What is the best way to use a Li-ion battery? http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/02/ask-ars-what-is-the-best-way-to-use-an-li-ion-battery.ars Lithium ion batteries are particular about their operating conditions, and there are a lot of small things that can contribute to better quality of life. Li-ion batteries have a reasonably finite lifespan and can hold only a fraction of their original capacity after a few years, but things like operating temperature, how long the battery spends plugged in, how the battery is used, and the charge cycling you asked about can contribute to how long the battery lasts…One of the worst things you can do to a Li-ion battery is to run it out completely all the time. Full discharges put a lot of strain on the battery, and it's much better practice to do shallow discharges to no lower than 20 percent…Most manufacturers recommend that you do a full discharge of the battery about once a month to help your device calibrate the time gauge…On the other end of the spectrum, keeping a Li-ion battery fully charged is not good for it either. This isn't because Li-ion batteries can get "overcharged" (something that people used to worry about in The Olden Days of portable computers), but a Li-ion battery that doesn't get used will suffer from capacity loss, meaning that it won't be able to hold as much charge and power your gadgets for as long. Extremely shallow discharges of only a couple percent are also not enough to keep a Li-ion battery in practice…Another thing that Li-ion batteries hate is heat. This somewhat less of a problem for cell phones, but a big problem for notebooks. Even using a battery at room temperature for a year can bring its capacity down by as much as 20 percent, and the interior of most computers is a mite cozier than than that. So in a unfortunate twist of fate, laptop batteries usually spend the most time in the worst possible state: plugged in at 100 percent charge, running at an elevated temperature…”

22. Jeopardy-playing computer called by some the biggest computing advance in decades http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9209661/IBM_s_Watson_s_ability_to_converse_is_a_huge_advance_for_AI_research IBM's Jeopardy playing supercomputer has been touted by some observers to be one of the biggest computing advancements in the past several decades…Watson…owes that significance to its ability to deliver more than calculations and documents. It can answer verbal questions posed by humans…"I would say it's the largest computing advance of this century," said Richard Doherty, research director at Envisioneering Group…this is the largest advancement in decades. This isn't an iPad. To reach [a computer] conversationally and have it respond with knowledgeable answers is a sea change in computing."…Watson is a study in advancements in artificial intelligence and natural language processing that overcome the formidable challenge of conveying the same information in many different ways. IBM scientists spent four years building a computer system that could rival a human in answering questions posed in natural language…Watson is a significant step, allowing people to interact with a computer as they would a human being. Watson doesn't give you a list of documents to go through but gives the user an answer. IBM made this happen by going back to square one and analyzing the nature of questions and answers…”

DHMN Technology

23. MEMS Foucault Pendulum on a Chip http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/design/a-foucault-pendulum-on-a-chip A new type of microscopic gyroscope could lead to better inertial guidance systems for missiles, better rollover protection in automobiles, and balance-restoring implants for the elderly…The device the UCI engineers built is a MEMS gyroscope made of silicon that is capable of directly measuring angles faster and more accurately than current MEMS-based gyroscopes…Today’s MEMS gyroscopes don’t measure angles directly. Instead, they measure angular velocity, then perform a calculation to figure out the actual angle…Shkel says his gyroscope is more accurate because it measures the angle directly and skips the calculation…four small masses of silicon a few hundred micrometers wide sit at the meeting point of two silicon springs that are at right angles to each other. A small electric current starts the mass vibrating in unison. As the gyroscope spins, the direction of the vibrational energy precesses the same way a swinging pendulum would. The gyroscope operates with a bandwidth of 100 hertz and has a dynamic range of 450 degrees per second…conventional microgyroscopes (at least those of the ”mode matching” variety) operate at only 1 to 10 Hz and have a range of only 10 degrees per second…”

24. Paper Accelerometer Could Mean Disposable Devices http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/devices/paper-accelerometer-could-mean-disposable-devices Tiny microscale accelerometers revolutionized car air-bag deployment systems in the mid-1990s. Costing a few dollars apiece and just a few millimeters wide, these sensitive microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices carved from silicon replaced a bulky, multicomponent deployment system that used to cost more than US $50…researchers at Harvard have fashioned a MEMS force sensor that’s so cheap it could be disposable. It’s made from paper, and each one costs four cents…MEMS accelerometers are used to monitor vibrations in buildings and bridges, to trigger hard-disk protection in falling laptops, and to sense motion in iPhones and Wii remotes…he expects the low-cost, lightweight, and easy-to-fabricate devices to open up new applications in different areas, from consumer gadgets to medicine…What is truly exciting, he says, is "if you can make such sensors on paper, you can make them on stretchable, biocompatible substrates like silicone, and then you can mimic the properties of skin."…But silicon devices also perform better, measuring forces smaller than 80 micronewtons compared with 120 µN for the paper sensors…In piezoresistive silicon sensors, the resistance change is typically measured using an electrical circuit called a Wheatstone bridge, which is fabricated on a chip along with the MEMS device. The Harvard researchers constructed their bridge circuit on the paper by simply gluing resistors at appropriate locations and then connecting them into the circuit using silver ink…The lab is developing cheap, easy-to-use, paper-based diagnostic devices that could improve disease testing in poor countries. Diagnostics for All, a spin-off of the lab, plans to start field trials in the second quarter of this year of a paper chip that tests for liver damage. "Rather than making things faster or supersensitive, the idea should be to have the right amount of technical sophistication and be as inexpensive as possible…”

25. Balloon-Borne Photography http://spectrum.ieee.org/geek-life/hands-on/balloonborne-photography Although there's a certain awe-inspiring beauty to the images…weather balloons can capture from the edge of space…most of the good stuff happens much nearer the ground…Since most of the interesting images come in the first 100 meters, why go higher?...balloon flight is all about payload weight…FAA Part 101 regulates what size and type of balloon can be operated without notifying the FAA…Moored balloons can't have an inflated diameter of more than 6 feet (1.8 meters) or a capacity of more than 115 cubic feet (3256 liters). These requirements will pretty much drive all the other decisions you make. The best source I've been able to find is Balloons Direct. It sells a US $35 chloroprene weather balloon with a 1.7-meter diameter and a total fill capacity of 2464 L—enough to lift 2.1 kilograms…There are lots of pan-zoom-tilt webcams around, but most require an Ethernet connection, which would leave little lift for the camera—an altitude of 30 meters would require an entire kilogram's worth of Cat 5 cable. I turned my attention to Wi-Fi–enabled webcams, settling on the Vivtek PZ7131. It features 640-by-480 resolution, a 2x optical zoom…The camera required about 1.5 amperes at 12 volts…because I had to tether it anyway, I decided to run 12 V up on a wire from the ground…I spent an evening with my 15-year-old son braiding a 30-meter length of two-conductor wire out of some 22-gauge single-conductor wire…A test confirmed that the camera received enough power to operate…Helium isn't cheap these days. The only place it's being made locally is the interior of the sun, so we have what we have, and it's running out fast…My tank…set me back $60, and the company lent me the inflator for free...It took several weeks for work and weather to align, but I finally woke up to a sunny November morning with only light winds. I hooked the inflator up to the helium tank…The inflation took a good 10 minutes…The balloon rose barely 10 meters before the weight of the lines proved to be too much…We returned to the tank and carefully remated the balloon to the inflator. After another influx of helium, the balloon easily carried the camera to the mooring lines' 30-meter limit. The Wi-Fi signal remained strong, and the camera operated perfectly, capturing some great stills and video of the neighborhood from above…”

26. Why So Many Augmented Reality Apps Fail in the Real World http://adage.com/digitalnext/post?article_id=148540 “…There's a huge gap between the practicality of current mobile AR apps and what's shown in marketing-driven or concept videos. A great example of this is World Lens…it's a concept that is game changing -- it will literally translate Spanish text into English text in your mobile viewfinder when you load the app and point your viewfinder at text. The video itself is so astounding, it has more than 3.2 million views on YouTube since December. But there's a problem when you view the promise of the video and actually try the current execution…World Lens is the type of mobile AR app that promises utility and will likely be game changing once the kinks are worked out…Though iTunes created an augmented reality section for these types of apps, most of them aren't even true AR. Most of them involve using a stationary image you place via your viewfinder on an object or use the viewfinder itself as the backdrop for the app. The Star Wars Falcon Gunner game…is "Lite AR" in that the AR function itself doesn't provide any additional game-play value or interaction. Most of the iPhone Mobile AR games also use this same approach…mobile augmented reality is very overhyped and not ready for prime time…and won't be for another few years…some mobile AR executions…do show potential…Layar is the most prominent mobile AR developer and they're doing some interesting things with their platform mostly as it pertains to enhanced information…Two of my other favorite mobile AR apps include Sunseeker and iButterfly…gaming devices that offer webcam functionality will likely be a more developed and practical platform for AR than mobile. Microsoft Kinect with 8 million sales in it's first 60 days is already showing quick adoption of AR in the digital living room…the PR value for AR is diminishing quickly for brands and doing an AR application or initiative just to do it does not make sense anymore…” [same article on a VR website http://www.vr-news.com/2011/01/31/why-so-many-augmented-reality-apps-fail-in-the-real-world/ ]

27. Make your own telepresence robot for only $500 http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20031960-1.html “…We've seen several platforms for these machines that let you remotely guide a robot around a distant location, with prices ranging from $15,000 for Anybots' QB system to $3,000 for the R.BOT 100…Johnny Chung Lee has a history of creating low-cost versions of very expensive devices, such as his $14 steadycam, and a homemade electronic whiteboard that uses the Wii Remote. To keep in touch with his fiancee after moving to Mountain View, Calif., where Google's headquarters are located, Lee made his own telepresence robot for only $500…he took a $250 iRobot Create and a similarly priced Netbook, linked them with a few hardware and software modifications, and now communicates through Skype and the robot…All the details are available on his Procrastineering site…”

28. 8.5W Core i3-based desktop computer http://ssj3gohan.tweakblogs.net/blog/6112/85w-core-i3-based-desktop-computer-(english).html “…This blog will explain to you in quite intimate detail what I have done to achieve 8.5W AC power consumption in idle with an Intel Core i3-based (H55 chipset) desktop system without sacrificing performance - this is not the 9000th Atom or VIA based system, nor does it utilize laptop hardware (MoDT). I'll start from the beginning: why did I start this and what's so special? Then comes a whole slew of primarily hardware hacks: I of course did some undervolting,I reorganized a lot of power delivery on the motherboard, made quite a few dc-dc converters more efficient and removed all unnecessary components I could find. On the software side I chose Windows 7 as Linux doesn't quite support every power saving feature. In the meantime I stuck a multimeter in every nook and cranny of the computer to see where power is flowing, creating a very detailed picture of the power consumption of individual parts. In the end, I got laptop power consumption with desktop performance…”

Leisure & Entertainment

29. Hands-on with 'Duke Nukem Forever' http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gamehunters/post/2011/02/come-get-some-hands-on-with-duke-nukem-forever/1 At the start of Duke Nukem Forever -- out May 3 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC -- the beefy protagonist is playing a video game based on his own legendary alien butt-kicking. "Is the game any good?" asks one of two girls kneeling before "The King" in his penthouse apartment, on the top floor of his casino. Duke quips, "After 12 years, it (expletive) better be!"…the long-overdue follow-up to 1996's Duke Nukem 3D has become a running joke in the gaming biz…Pitchford, who got his start as a developer working on Duke Nukem 3D at 3D Realms (before leaving in '97 to start Gearbox), says he believes the over-the-top character still resonates with gamers today. "Truthfully, I think Duke is bigger than ever before. He's become iconic, someone important to video game culture…Pitchford says the single-player campaign can take players 15 to 18 hours to complete, which is relatively lengthy compared with most of today's first-person shooters…”

30. Sidereel: Your Dial Tone for TV http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco/2011/02/07/sidereel-your-dial-tone-for-tv/It’s a great time to be a cord-cutter. Thanks to Internet companies like Amazon, Apple, Boxee, Google, Hulu, Netflix, and Roku, it’s getting easier every day to cancel your cable or satellite TV subscription without giving up on your favorite TV shows. There’s just one problem. If you do cut the cord—as I did two years ago—it gets a lot more complicated to figure out where to watch your shows…The best service I’ve found for locating and tracking my favorite shows comes from a San Francisco startup called Sidereel. At the Sidereel website, you can search for your favorite shows, add them to a personalized calendar, and sign up for e-mails that will notify you when new episodes are out…Sidereel isn’t a household name like YouTube or Netflix, but the angel-funded, 35-employee startup says it’s the world’s largest independent TV site. It attracts a million users every day, and over 10 million per month…I headed over to Sidereel recently to spend some time with founder and CEO Roman Arzhintar. Right off the bat it was clear that Arzhintar isn’t your typical brash SoMa/Silicon Valley CEO—he’s more John Hodgman than Master of the Universe…Arzhintar got interested in media at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, where he was a protege of the college president, former CBS president Arthur Taylor…he took a roundabout path into the media business, getting a law degree, spending three years as a corporate attorney for a technology firm, realizing that “not only was I a bad lawyer but I also hated being a lawyer—there’s no interaction with people…”

Economy and Technology

31. Paid Apps that Pay Off: $150,000 in a Month http://www.androidguys.com/2011/02/09/paid-apps-pay-150k-month/ “…Google said…the number of paid app purchases are not increasing as they should with the increases in use of Android in general…Should Android developers forget about paid apps and just monetize with ads?...maybe not. There are counter-examples to the conventional wisdom, examples of developers whose paid apps have generated a decent chunk of revenue. This series of posts will look at a few examples, including one developer who brought in more than $150,000 in revenue in less than a month from a single app. ADWLauncher EX, the highly customizable home replacement by AnderWeb, hit the Market on December 24, 2010, selling for more than $3.00, and topped 50,000 downloads in mid-January…the app managed to generate more than $150,000 in its first month on the Market…despite the success, the experience has not been entirely rosy for AnderWeb. He noted that hundreds of orders each day are cancelled by Google (i.e. not user-requested refunds) due mostly to users whose banks do not allow transactions in another country's currency…international developers like AnderWeb will have to wait for the changes to roll out more widely…Keep an eye on AndroidGuys in coming days for more case studies of developers whose paid apps have paid off. And you'll find even more examples in this list of dozens of apps that, based on price and minimum download numbers, have each generated more than $100,000 in revenue…”

32. Visa Buys Virtual Goods Monetization Platform PlaySpan For $190 Million http://techcrunch.com/2011/02/09/visa-buys-virtual-goods-monetization-platform-playspan-for-190-million-in-cash/ PlaySpan, a virtual goods monetization platform, has been acquired by Visa…Visa will pay $190 million in cash for the company…The deal comes nearly a year after Visa spent a whopping $2 billion on e-payment company CyberSource…the acquisition of PlaySpan complements the CyberSource deal and will extend the company’s presence in digital and mobile commerce…PlaySpan has been growing like a weed, striking partnerships with a number of social network, gaming and media companies, including Viacom, Disney, Facebook, Ubisoft, and Sanrio. PlaySpan’s flagship product UltimatePay is a ‘Monetization as a Service’ platform for apps, games, videos and digital goods. Based on the user’s location, the payments platform draws from over 85 different payment options. Because of its vast variety of payment options (which include PayPal, pre-paid cards, and a number of credit cards), UltimatePay is designed for a global audience. Currently, PlaySpan powers virtual goods marketplaces across 1,000 video games, virtual world publishers and social networks…Approximately 45 percent of U.S. online spending takes place on Visa’s network today and for Visa’s fiscal first quarter 2011, the company reported 25 percent year-over-year growth in ecommerce payment volumes globally. Visa is going to use PlaySpan to capitalize on the growing digital goods market, which generated an estimated $25 billion in consumer spending globally in 2010 and is expected to reach $280 billion by 2014…The acquisition is even more impressive when you conside that the company was founded by 12-year-old, Arjun Mehta, in 2006…”

33. Bill Gates Dumping Microsoft Shares By The Millions http://www.informationweek.com/news/windows/microsoft_news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=229204354 “…Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is continuing to sell shares in the company at a rate that might set off alarm bells…in the past 12 months, Gates has sold off a whopping 90 million shares—reducing his holdings of Microsoft common stock by 13%. Over the past two years, Gates has cut his interest in the company he co-founded by about 22%...Gates now holds roughly 591 million Microsoft shares, or about 7% of the 8.4 billion shares outstanding, and remains its largest single stockholder…If you invested one dollar in Microsoft in 2001 and cashed out that holding today, your compound annual return over the five-year period would be a measly 2.74%. That same dollar invested in Apple would have returned 38.8% annually over the half decade, in Google the payback would have been 11.12%, in Oracle 30%, and in IBM 17.37%. (Who knew, without checking, that IBM and Oracle were better investments than Google over the past five years.)…Reports Tuesday indicate Ballmer is set to shake up Microsoft's management ranks in a big way…Bloomberg says Ballmer's next move could be to elevate engineering and product specialists to senior positions in an effort to return Microsoft to its software engineering roots…”

34. Successful SEM Tactics For Marketing Mobile Apps http://searchengineland.com/successful-sem-tactics-for-marketing-mobile-apps-62110 Got a new mobile app that needs marketing?...marketing a new mobile app involves a lot of the same elbow grease and detailed, tactical campaign work as a search engine marketing campaign…Hopefully the development team built in great keywords to the app name and description to give the best advantage possible for being found in app store searches…Coordination is key to app promoting success. The more downloads generated in a short period of time, the better the app store ranking for Apple or Android. Launching PR, main website and email promotion, and paid campaigns in as coordinated an effort as possible will help drive a burst of interest and hopefully downloads…search engine marketer can easily create an AdWords or AdCenter campaign promoting the app…it makes sense to run this campaign targeted to mobile devices, but you may also want to target desktops and laptops in a separate campaign as people may browse for apps via their computers…create a Facebook ad campaign and target profiles interested in the app’s subject area (e.g., fantasy baseball) as well as profiles interested in mobile apps and technologies (e.g., iPhone apps, Android phones)…look at mobile specific channels…with specialized mobile advertising networks like AdMob (Google owned) and iAd (Apple owned)…Both platforms support reporting on downloads to help refine campaigns and budgets, and account managers can refine matching placements once sufficient data is collected. Additionally, Google AdWords offers in-app advertising as well, with the ability to target placements in particular apps that are a good target audience fit…The primary goal of any campaign is to drive downloads, especially in an effort to enhance app store rankings. For paid apps, additional metrics around revenue, cost per download and ROI are immediately relevance…”

35. iPhone App User Worth More Than An Android App User http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-iphone-android-revenue-per-user-2011-2 Apple's iPhone users are worth more to a developer on a monthly basis than Google's Android users based on ad revenue…Mobclix looked at…50 apps on each operating system…apps had to have 500,000 downloads or 75,000 active users, with an active user being someone that plays with the app three times a week…One fundamental reason is ad rates are higher for iPhone…Another reason is that iPhone users are more engaged with apps than Android users…”

36. Daily Deal sites: passing fad or future of shopping? http://www.betanews.com/article/Daily-Deal-sites-passing-fad-or-future-of-shopping/1297229175 “…Mobile loyalty card app CardStar announced it has become the first app of its ilk to partner with Groupon, the extremely hot daily deal service, and users of its iPhone and Android apps in more than 160 cities will have location-specific access to Groupon deals. CardStar lets users scan or manually enter all those shopping rewards cards into a single app, and then their smartphone's screen can be scanned at the cash register when they check out. Generally speaking, the app focuses on cards that users already have or ones that they get separately from CardStar. But with this new version of the software, users can now sign up for new cards directly through the app, and with the Groupon deal, membership isn't even required to view the daily deals…"Now you're seeing this explosion in daily deal sites, just like you did in location-based services," continued Miller. "The same thing could happen again. It'll change more after Google's Groupon clone takes root, and when Facebook unleashes Facebook Deals. What does that do to Groupon and LvingSocial?...since Groupon caught on, daily deal sites have begun springing up like weeds. In December, there were more than 200 daily deal sites in the US alone…It's funny, we're announcing the partnership with Groupon today, but we actually know the guys at LivingSocial better, and we've had discussions with them. We've also talked to the company that powers AOL's deal sites and Mobile Spinach…”

Civilian Aerospace

37. Mars 500 crew ‘lands’ on Red Planet http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1356804/Walk-mars-simulation-2-astronauts-step-car-park-Moscow.html After 257 days in a locked steel capsule, six researchers on a 520-day mock flight to Mars have finally ‘landed’ on the Red Planet. The all-male crew - three Russians, a Chinese, a Frenchman and an Italian-Colombian - has been inside a windowless capsule at a Moscow research centre since June. Today their simulated flight arrived at Mars and two crew members, Italian Diego Urbina and Russian Alexander Smoleyevsky, emerged from their spacecraft to walk on the 'surface' of Mars…The crew members communicate with the outside world via e-mails and video messages - occasionally delayed to give them the feel of being more than a few yards away from mission control. They eat canned food similar to that eaten on the International Space Station and shower only once a week. The 520 days of the mission represent a probable flight: 250 days to get to Mars, 30 days on the Martian surface and 240 days for the return journey. Their 3.6metre-wide and 20metre-long craft is parked in a Moscow car park next to a block of flats. It contains six tiny sleeping pods with cot-like beds, a living room, a eat-in kitchen, a working zone, a toilet, a laboratory and greenhouse. None of the men have considered abandoning the mission, although they are free to walk out at any time…”

38. NM Governor wants private funding to finish Spaceport America http://www.cibolabeacon.com/articles/2011/02/15/news/doc4d59bfff5663f489829568.txt Gov. Susana Martinez, in announcing her appointments to the Spaceport Authority Board of Directors, once again stressed that the project in southern New Mexico should be completed by private funding. “I believe that with the right leadership and the right approach, the spaceport can be a successful venture that brings jobs to New Mexico,” Martinez said in a news release. “New Mexico's taxpayers have made a significant investment in the Spaceport project. It's time to see the project through to completion by bringing in private funding.” She made similar remarks last month, when she removed all spaceport board members who had been appointed by her predecessor, Bill Richardson. The $200 million Spaceport America is a commercial space travel facility…Taxpayers have funded a major portion of Spaceport America. Voters in Sierra and Dona Ana counties voted for a gross-receipts tax increase for the project…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

39. GPU-Powered Science And Innovation Drive GPU Technology Conference 2011 http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/216263.php “…the third annual GPU Technology Conference (GTC) will return to San Jose's McEnery Convention Center from Oct. 11-14, 2011. In addition, Los Alamos National Laboratory will co-locate its Accelerated High Performance Computing (HPC) Symposium at the conference…Attendance at the 2010 event grew more than 50 percent, and further growth is anticipated this year…"GTC has moved to the top of the annual agenda for the scientific and technical GPU computing community," said Bill Dally, NVIDIA's chief scientist. "The addition of the Accelerated HPC Symposium in this event underscores the central importance of GPUs and parallel computing…”

40. NVIDIA Quadro Powers All Five Academy Award Nominees for Best Visual Effects http://www.tradingmarkets.com/news/press-release/nvda_nvidia-quadro-powers-all-five-academy-award-nominees-for-best-visual-effects-1492571.html This year…the Best Visual Effects category…Oscar nominees…were created by studios using NVIDIA(R) Quadro(R) professional graphics solutions. Double Negative (DNeg) created visual effects for several of this year's nominated films including "Inception," "Iron Man 2," and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1." Central to DNeg's effects workflow is their proprietary fluid simulation system, known as "Squirt," a component of which was recently rewritten to leverage the NVIDIA CUDA(TM) parallel computing architecture and Quadro graphics processing units (GPUs)…"Iron Man 2" features spectacular visual effects work, much of which was delivered by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). "Working with NVIDIA Quadro, we're able to work faster and iterate more frequently, which hugely benefits our artists, and ultimately the quality of our project work on films like 'Iron Man 2,'" notes Ben Snow, ILM visual effects supervisor…Scanline VFX utilized its proprietary simulation software, called "Flowline," to create natural phenomena, such as the spectacular tsunami recreation in "Hereafter." Scanline is now writing its next generation of "Flowline" as a CUDA architecture-based, GPU-optimized application…Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI) completed the majority of the visual effects work on "Alice in Wonderland," creating 1,700 shots in total. Effects accelerated by NVIDIA GPUs include the mist and lightning emitted by Jabberwocky the dragon, the appearing and disappearing effects of the Cheshire Cat, and the dust and destruction caused by the hot-tempered Bandersnatch…”


*****

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