2011/03/29

NEW NET Weekly List for 29 Mar 2011

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 29 March 2011, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering upstairs at Tom’s Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA, near Woodman's. Ignore the chain if it's across the stairs -- come on up and join the tech fun!

The ‘net

1. HTTPS is more secure, so why isn't the Web using it? http://arstechnica.com/web/news/2011/03/https-is-more-secure-so-why-isnt-the-web-using-it.ars You wouldn't write your username and passwords on a postcard and mail it for the world to see, so why are you doing it online? Every time you log in to any service that uses a plain HTTP connection that's essentially what you're doing…Firefox users can go a step further and use the HTTPS Everywhere add-on to force HTTPS connections to several dozen websites that all offer HTTPS, but don't use it by default…The real problem, according to Lafon, is that with HTTPS you lose the ability to cache…Another problem with running an HTTPS site is the cost of operations. "Although servers are faster and implementations of SSL more optimized, it still costs more than doing plain http…Perhaps the main reason most of us are not using HTTPS to serve our websites is simply that it doesn't work with virtual hosts. Virtual hosts, which are what the most common cheap Web hosting providers offer, allow the Web host to serve multiple websites from the same physical server—hundreds of websites all with the same IP address. That works just fine with regular HTTP connections, but it doesn't work at all with HTTPS. There is a way to make virtual hosting and HTTPS work together—the TLS Extensions protocol…But until that spec—or something similar—is widely used, HTTPS isn't going to work for small, virtually hosted websites…”

2. Cloud Girlfriends teach you how to fake it http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20048443-1.html When we at CNET first heard about Cloud Girlfriend--a yet-to-launch service that creates your dream girl and then puts her on display so all your social-networking connections can admire her witty status updates and wall posts--we turned a wary eye to the calendar. Less than a week to April Fools' Day. What are the odds that a start-up that creates fake Facebook girlfriends is itself a fake…But then we found the brains behind the operation, a financial analyst for San Diego-based wireless company Remec named David Fuhriman who swears it's the real deal. We had a number of questions for Fuhriman…As Fuhriman put it in an e-mail to CNET, the premise behind Cloud Girlfriend is all about boosting your online persona…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

3. It’s Tracking Your Every Move and You May Not Even Know http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/26/business/media/26privacy.html “…we are already continually being tracked whether we volunteer to be or not…Mr. Spitz went to court to find out exactly what his cellphone company…knew about his whereabouts…In a six-month period…had recorded and saved his longitude and latitude coordinates more than 35,000 times…Unlike many online services and Web sites that must send “cookies” to a user’s computer to try to link its traffic to a specific person, cellphone companies simply have to sit back and hit “record.”…Tracking a customer’s whereabouts is part…of what phone companies do for a living. Every seven seconds or so, the phone company of someone with a working cellphone is determining the nearest tower, so as to most efficiently route calls…In the United States, telecommunication companies do not have to report precisely what material they collect…based on court cases…“they store more of it and it is becoming more precise.”…you have to hand over your personal privacy to be part of the 21st century.”…The major American cellphone providers declined to explain what exactly they collect and what they use it for. Verizon, for example, declined to elaborate other than to point to its privacy policy, which includes: “Information such as call records, service usage, traffic data,” the statement in part reads, may be used for “marketing to you based on your use of the products and services you already have, subject to any restrictions required by law…”

4. Color App Hack Lets You Spy On Anyone’s Photos Anywhere http://blogs.forbes.com/andygreenberg/2011/03/28/color-app-hack-lets-you-spy-on-anyones-photos-anywhere/ For anyone sketched out by the privacy implications of Color, the highly hyped, highly funded, and highly public iOS and Android social media app that launched last week, now would be a good time to ratchet your creep-o-meter up another notch or two. Within hours of Color’s release last Thursday, security researcher and Veracode chief technology officer Chris Wysopal wrote on Twitter that with “trivial geolocation spoofing” the authentication model of Color is “broken.”…Using a jailbroken iPad and an app called FakeLocation, Wysopal was able to set his device’s location to anywhere in the world. Launching Color a moment later, he found, as predicted, that he could see all the photos of any person at that location. “This only took about five minutes to download the FakeLocation app and try a few locations where I figured there would be early adopters who like trying out the latest apps,” Wysopal wrote to me in an email. “No hacking involved…” [another reason to let other people try out new apps for a couple weeks before downloading them – ed.]

Mobile Computing & Communicating

5. Elop Fights Nokia Traditions in Race to Ship Microsoft Phone http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-27/elop-fights-nokia-traditions-in-race-to-ship-microsoft-phone.html Every summer for the last four years while Apple Inc. shipped a new iPhone, Nokia Oyj managers vacationed at their lake cottages in Finland. In mid-July, Nokia House is a ghost town…If you need a decision and the key person’s at the summer cottage? Forget it. You’ll resolve that issue in September. It’s something that hampers their agility.”…Nokia may provide a peek at its first Windows phone this year, though it’s promising volume shipments only in 2012. “It’s risky even to wait that long,” said Rob Sanfilippo…It would be great if they had them out by the middle of the year, June or summer, even if it’s one device to show that there’s real progress happening quickly.”…Apple squeezes three times more revenue per employee than Nokia, while Taiwan’s HTC Corp. gets twice as much…Both Nokia and Microsoft need the collaboration to work. Nokia’s smartphone market share has tumbled to 30.8 percent from 50.8 percent when Apple started shipping the iPhone in June 2007. Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, with about 3.4 percent of the smartphone market, is piggybacking the world’s largest mobile-phone maker to dent the emerging dominance of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android software… “The Finnish engineers I know are religiously committed to open source, and I could hardly think of a more implacable opponent to that philosophy than Redmond,” said Urbanscale’s Greenfield. “They are likely to lose a lot of talent that won’t want to work with Microsoft.” In a speech in 2009, Anssi Vanjoki, a former Nokia executive vice president, who resigned shortly after Elop was appointed, likened closed systems to Stalinism…”

6. AT&T admits to slowing down the Motorola Atrix and HTC Inspire http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/ATT-to-Uncripple-Atrix-Inspire-4G-Upstream-Capabilities-113413 “…AT&T recently found themselves on the receiving end of some "4G" angst when customers realized that two of the smartphones the carrier proclaims are "4G" weren't able to upload at 4G speeds. While AT&T wasn't clear when asked why, AT&T responses to Better Business Bureau complaints indicated that the HSUPA capabilities of these phones had been intentionally crippled. Whatever the reason, AT&T has informed users on Facebook that the company will be issuing a software update…” [again, ‘leading edge’ may (unnecessarily) equal ‘bleeding edge’ – ed.]

7. Windows Phone Will Beat RIM & Apple by 2015 http://www.readwriteweb.com/mobile/2011/03/idc-predicts-windows-phone-will-beat-rim-and-apple-by-2015.php “…Analysts at IDC are now forecasting that the Windows Phone mobile operating system will be the number two smartphone platform by 2015. And Android will be number one. "Android is poised to take over as the leading smartphone operating system in 2011 after racing into the number two spot in 2010," says senior researcher Ramon Llamas. But it's Nokia's recent shift from Symbian to Windows Phone that will have the biggest impact on the market going forward…By 2015, IDC projects that Windows Phone 7 will have an install base of 20.7% of smartphones, behind Android at 45.4%. iOS will be in third place at 15.3% and RIM's BlackBerry will be at just 13.7%…” [a lot of people, including moi, would predict IDC and MS will be nowhere near #2 in 2015 – ed.]

Apps

8. This App is Rated R: Mobile App Stores to Institute App Rating System http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/this_app_is_rated_r_mobile_app_stores_to_institute.php “…CTIA Wireless Association announced…it will add a new voluntary App Rating System to its list of industry guidelines. Participating app stores will allow parents to block access by children to apps rated suitable for adults only. It seems likely that new adult apps will thus be made available as well. From the sacred to the profane, effective content ratings and guidelines could create a safe haven for all kinds of new apps and commerce to flourish…No list of which app stores will participate is available yet, but the organization's membership includes both Apple and Google, among many others. CTIA uses the number 800,000 to reference the large number of apps at issue…it seems that the organization is hoping or presuming that Google and Apple will participate. It seems unlikely that the system would be announced without some favorable consultation of those two most relevant members of the association. While a system intended to protect childeren by offering app ratings sounds like a good idea, it also sounds like it could become complicated. Voluntary ratings could prove ineffective, for one thing. The line between what's appropriate or innapropriate for children is also a subjective one. Wherever the line gets drawn regarding innapropriate content, you can probably expect someone to protest it…”

9. Android 3.0 catalog still stalled below 100 apps http://www.electronista.com/articles/11/03/29/android.3.catalog.stuck.at.100.apps/ A follow-up check by Second Gear developer Justin Williams has revealed Android 3.0's app catalog to have made little progress in the month since launch. About 14 core apps are still truly native, while a total of 50 include both the native apps as well as those phone apps with basic resizing for the larger screen…Android Market currently has no simple way to filter for tablet-optimized or tablet-only apps…The issue underscores an ongoing issue with app support on Android 3.0 so far that reflects the hastened launch schedule. Google posted the beta SDK just a month before the Xoom shipped and the finished version two days before launch…A lack of devices has also reduced access to hardware. The second wave isn't due to start until the LG Optimus Pad reaches Japan at the end of March…Apple was more deliberate with its own tablet plan and gave developers two months' lead time. It started with about 1,000 iPad-native apps already in the App Store and has about 65,000 as of the design's first-year anniversary…”

Open Source

10. Open Source Electronics Pioneer Limor Fried on the DIY Revolution http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/03/ff_adafruit/ Limor Fried is a maker’s maker…She earned an electrical engineering degree from MIT, invented several delightfully nerdy things to do with Altoid tins, and reverse-engineered the legendary Roland TB-303 synthesizer. Now she runs Adafruit Industries, a New York City company that makes open source electronics kits and components for the growing tide of DIYers who are inventing the future…She’s leading the open source hardware movement, which may soon join open source software as a world-changing phenomenon that reinvents everything from business models to invention itself…She created one of the first community-led electronics companies. At Adafruit, the forums come first and the founders’ voices are front and center…Her cat is named MOSFET, as in the metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor…One of the things about doing projects is that documenting them and sharing them with people used to be really difficult. Now we see so many people putting up videos, and it’s so easy. I can make a five-minute video in an hour, with a preface and edits and nice audio and everything…There are also so many really great websites where people can share their projects. We have Instructables and iFixit and Etsy and Make and Hack a Day and our own Adafruit. So people who used to do this stuff alone now have even more community. It used to be just freaks in garages; now it’s freaks in garages working together…”

11. Gameduino spritely takes centre stage http://www.electronicsweekly.com/blogs/gadget-master/2011/03/gameduino-spritely-takes-centr.html “…you can now connect your Arduino system to a VGA monitor and speakers, to enable writing an Arduino sketch to create video games (via Forth)...It is a properly designed, tested, and documented project created by Gadget Master James Bowman, and it is made available as open-source hardware…It's packed full of 8-bit game goodness: hundreds of sprites, smooth scrolling, multi-channel stereo sound…James provides full details of how to make a Gameduino board - see Gameduino: a game adapter for microcontrollers…Gameduino is a game adapter for Arduino - or anything else with an SPI interface - built as a single shield that stacks up on top of the Arduino and has plugs for a VGA monitor and stereo speakers. The sound and graphics are definitely old-school, but thanks to the latest FPGA technology, the sprite capabilities are a step above those in machines from the past…”

SkyNet

12. Google Commerce Search 3.0: You won’t believe it’s online shopping http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/03/google-commerce-search-adds-search-as-you-type-local-product-search-reccomendations.html Google rolled out new products for e-commerce websites on Monday including auto-completion and product previews for search fields and a search function that enables consumers to see what a local store has in stock, in real time. The updates, which also include a recommendations system and what Google calls "Enhanced Merchandising" tools to allow retailers to feature on-sale items in search results, make up Google Commerce Search 3.0…"Most websites don't have a good e-commerce experience," said Nitin Mangtani, a group product manager working on Google's Commerce Search team. "Consumers are demanding a better online experience. But a lot of websites have told us they can't afford 1,000 engineers to develop their site and add the features that consumers are asking for."…Google is hoping to step in and offer medium- to large-sized online retailers a few products to bring their e-shops up to speed in the increasingly competitive world of online shopping…”

13. James Gosling, 'father of Java,' joins Google http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/java_inventor_joins_other_founding_fathers_at_goog.php James Gosling, the man who founded programming language Java at Sun Microsystems, announced this morning on his blog that, "through some odd twists in the road over the past year...I find myself starting employment at Google today."…Last August, Oracle filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming that its Android software infringes on patents and copyrights related to Java, patents acquired when Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems. Google has called the whole thing "baseless." Gosling used to work for Sun Microsystems, where he founded Java, but left when it was acquired by Oracle last year…What will be his purpose with the Big G? He says that he isn't sure, but that "it'll be a bit of everything, seasoned with a large dose of grumpy curmudgeon." Some are speculating that Gosling will come over to the Google-side to work on Android, the IP offender in question, while others wonder if "having on your payroll the father of the programming language at issue in the suit will come in handy when it goes to trial." Gosling joins other big names like Vint Cerf and Tim Bray at the company that intends to harness the world's information. Cerf led the team in the 1970s that created the TCP/IP protocols, which act as the backbone to the Internet. Bray co-invented XML, a standard that has since been used in the development of hundreds of languages, including RSS, ATOM and XHTML…”

14. Google city: Android is the beacon http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/03/29/google-city-android-is-the-beacon/ “…Just about everyone still thinks of Google as a search company. The reality is that those days are long over. Google is a web services company that makes quite a big chunk of its revenue from a very large, efficient advertising platform. The notion that Google is 90+% search hasn't been true for a long time, but lately it's become obvious: YouTube, AdSense, Enterprise and location/mapping are becoming huge businesses in their own right and together may have replaced search as Google's biggest revenue generator…On Google's last earnings report, it said that AdSense accounted for a significant 30% of its revenue. AdSense is advertising on third party websites. That has little to nothing to do with search…All but 3% of the remaining 70% of Google's revenues come from its "Sites". Google doesn't break down search within that, but that 67% is likely still mostly search. Still, YouTube, another huge Google business not directly tied in with search, is "hockey-sticking" as well…YouTube averaged over two billion pageviews a day and users were uploading 35 hours of video every minute. That's likely to have increased significantly in the past six months. Even more importantly, YouTube has learned to monetize its pageviews much more effectively…Google told me that its Apps business is growing faster than any other major cloud business. Specifically, Google Apps is the fastest-growing cloud business today…Google's Maps/data/location services are just starting to explode. To put into perspective how important location is to Google, consider the fact that the company recently tried to buy Groupon for an estimated $6 billion…Social is either Google's biggest failure or its biggest opportunity -- or both…Compared to the businesses above, search revenue and growth potential is relatively flat, prompting some to announce the search party over. Google has known since the earlier part of the decade that there is only so much market for search, and they've planned accordingly. That's why the next decade of Google's growth will be dominated by other businesses…Google's got a city of products to protect and Android ties them all together. ..Android is increasingly the tie-into everything Google is doing -- even more so than search. It is really the new beacon at the core of Google's city…”

General Technology

15. Acer's dual-touch-screen Iconia laptop reviewed http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20048383-1.html “…Instead of a screen and a keyboard, the Iconia ditches the keyboard for a second screen, which can be used either as an extended desktop or for a virtual keyboard. (We've seen a similar concept before, but with dual 7-inch screens, in the Toshiba Libetto W100.) In practice, it works better than you might expect. Onscreen typing is still nowhere near as intuitive as the real thing, but a few generations of iPhones and iPads have trained us to tap-type without too much trouble, at least for short writing tasks…”

16. Intel doubles capacity, drops price in refresh of popular SSD line http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9215089/Intel_doubles_capacity_drops_price_in_refresh_of_popular_SSD_line “…The new 2.5-in. Intel Solid-State Drive 320 Series offers models that more than triple capacity over the X25-M and reduces prices by up to 30%, or $100, on some models. While aimed at the laptop and desktop market, the consumer SSD has also been Intel's most popular model for servers in data centers. The SSD 320 more than doubled sequential write speeds from Intel's second-generation X25-M consumer SSD, to 220MB/sec…Intel has added native 128-bit AES encryption on the drives, which protects data while at rest on the NAND flash memory…while Intel has lowered its prices, it still amounts to about $1.80 per gigabyte. Wong expects mass adoption of SSDs by consumers won't occur until the price has reached about $1 per gigabyte, sometime in 2012 or 2013…”

17. U.S. motorists to get car tracking devices, pay by the mile? http://dvice.com/archives/2011/03/feds-consider-m.php “…you probably thought you were safe from Washington state's proposed mileage tax targeting hybrid and electric cars that pay less in gas taxes, but the federal government is now considering the same thing, complete with wireless mileage monitoring devices for every car in the country. The government is having a bit of a problem keeping up with the amount of money required to keep our highways from crumbling into dust, so the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is exploring some new ways of raising revenue. One of these ways could be to implement the system that Washington state has been thinking about: a tax based on mileage, instead of gas consumption, to make sure that hybrid and electric vehicles don't get off for free…how is Uncle Sam going to keep track of your mileage? The plan would be to require all cars to have a mileage tracking device, which would transmit information wirelessly to government tracking receivers at gas stations…”

DHMN Technology

18. Holographic display table is everything 3D should be http://dvice.com/archives/2011/03/holographic-dis.php “…With funding from DARPA, Zebra has been able to develop an electronic version of the…technology, embodied in an actual glasses-free 3D holographic projector table…Color, real-time, 3D holographic displays with up to 12 inches of visual depth. The technology enables 360-degree viewing by a team of 20 people without 3D glasses or goggles…this isn't simply a 3D image. It's a full color 360 degree high definition hologram, meaning that you can walk all the way around the display and view it from any angle you want. And not just view it, but actually see the scene from that perspective…These displays will at first be put to work for the military, but Zebra Imaging also wants to get them into the 3D entertainment and gaming markets…”

19. Kickstarter: The Cosmonaut Stylus Treats Tablets Like Whiteboards, Not Paper (and that’s awesome) http://www.crunchgear.com/2011/03/29/kickstarter-the-cosmonaut-stylus-treats-tablets-like-whiteboards-not-paper-and-thats-awesome/ Kickstarter is really the go-to place for all things iPad/iPhone…It’s kind of a running joke with us right now because of the sheer amount of iPad products on the site. But the Cosmonaut is different. It’s actually clever…Writing on an iPad isn’t like writing on paper. It’s different and as the embedded Kickstarter video explains, the experience is more like using a white board and so this stylus was designed with that in mind…this project doesn’t have multiple tiers of funding. Pledge what you want. There’s only 3000 funding slots open and pledges start at just a $1. Clever. This isn’t the Cosmonaut’s creators first go on Kickstarter. Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost were behind one of the first Kickstarter breakout products, the Glif. That project hit $137k in funding so these boys know a thing or two about creating a novel product…”

Leisure & Entertainment

20. Amazon Cloud Player Doesn’t Work On iOS — But It’s Not A Flash Issue http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/28/amazon-cloud-player-ios/ “…Amazon dropped a bomb on their rivals in the online music space: a fully working cloud storage and playback system. And it’s not just working on desktop web browsers, it works on Android devices too. One important place it doesn’t work though: iPhones, iPads, iPod touches — no iOS devices…you might think this is a Flash issue (Apple’s devices famously do not support Flash). But it’s not. I don’t have Flash installed on my MacBook Air and the Cloud Player works fine (as does it when you disable Flash in Chrome). Flash is needed to upload files to Cloud Drive, but not for playback…it appears that Amazon may simply be blocking the mobile version of Safari from playing back songs through Cloud Player…even if Amazon wanted to bring Cloud Player to iOS devices, Apple may not want it there. The company is gearing up to launch their own music locker system…” http://gigaom.com/mobile/hands-on-with-amazons-cloud-drive-cloud-player/

21. 3 Million Nooks Color Sold http://www.crunchgear.com/2011/03/29/estimates-point-to-3-million-nooks-color-sold/ “…3 million Nooks Color have rolled off the assembly line and into stores over the past year, giving the Nook Color firmly at 50% of the “iPad-like” tablet market. They estimated 600,000-700,000 sales per month in January and February during the post-holiday gift card redemption season. These numbers are actually quite impressive, especially for a relatively underpowered $249 tablet (or, if looked at another way, a wildly overpowered ereader). The popularity with Android hackers and rooters explains some of the sales while others see the device as an inexpensive alternative to the iPad…”

Economy and Technology

22. Startup Incubator TechStars Raises $8 Million http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/29/startup-incubator-techstars-raises-8-million/ “…TechStars has raised $8 million in new funding for its programs in Boston, Boulder, New York, and Seattle. The new funding comes from more than fifty venture funds and over 25 individual angel investors…TechStars, which launched in 2007, is a “startup boot camp” for tech entrepreneurs in which selected startup receive up to $18,000 in seed funding (or $6,000 per founder up to three founders in exchange for 5 percent of the company), three months of mentorship from successful entrepreneurs and investors, and the opportunity to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists at the end of the program…for the past few years, the incubator has been raising money incrementally for each program and location. But this raise enables TechStars to operate and fund startups for the next four years…”

23. Message Bus: The Start Project’s First Graduate Launches, Pulls In A Cool $3 Million http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/29/message-bus-the-start-projects-first-graduate-launches-pulls-in-a-cool-3-million/ In late 2009, a group of seasoned entrepreneurs and investors came together to form The Start Project, a Silicon Valley-based incubator focused on idea generation, software development, product vision, and bringing great ideas to market…Today, Message Bus becomes our first look into what the group has been up to over the last year: thinking about email delivery, open APIs, and infrastructure applications. Like so many other startups before it, Message Bus is aiming to tackle the age-old problem of how to make our email systems easier and, at the same time, more robust…Message Bus bifurcates this challenging task into two parts: First and foremost, maintaining and administering email systems no longer makes sense for most companies, so the startup wants you to be able to send an email via a simple API easily and reliably — by providing a scalable engine that ensures the highest deliverability of email…Thanks to virtual servers, open APIs, and the cloud, deploying applications no longer involves assembling the entire chain, from the top down to the physical hardware. The old form of infrastructure deployment is no longer a requirement, as applications can be created on top of a host of infrastructure services that act like applications themselves…Message Bus pegs itself as an “infrastructure apps company” that is targeting the many businesses that no longer need to build up an entire stack to service their products. Its infrastructure applications will offer a suite of messaging utilities, beginning with email, in an effort to open up the massive data clouds behind every messaging system to allow companies greater insight into the data and analytics behind their applications and businesses…”

Civilian Aerospace

24. Scientists to Reap Benefits of Private Spaceflight Revolution http://www.space.com/11220-private-spaceflight-revolution-scientists.html “…Southwest Research Institute…bought seats on suborbital flights from both XCOR Aerospace and Virgin Galactic. SwRI's experiments are already built and ready to go…No one can guarantee when they will finish their flight-test programs…said Alan Stern, vice president of SwRI's space division…SwRI plans to send three different scientists — including Stern — and three different experiments up to suborbital space. One project will test out a biomedical harness, another will investigate the geology of asteroids and comets by performing microgravity experiments, and the third will look into the ability of suborbital vehicles to do astronomy and atmospheric science…SwRI plans to get good science out of its multiple suborbital research flights. But the institute also hopes that it can serve a pioneering role, by showing other researchers what can be done and simultaneously helping to further the development of private spaceflight. "We hope to start, or catalyze, a revolution," Stern said…”

25. Will Morpheus Be the First Vehicle on the Moon Since Apollo? http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/29/project-morpheus-lunar-lander-apollo/ “…A group of NASA engineers -- acting on their own initiative to find funding in other research and development projects, and in partnership with an aerospace startup, together with their own sweat equity -- have designed and built a breakthrough piece of technology: the first new lunar landing craft from the space agency in 40 years. The heart of the NASA engineers' project is a fully functioning lunar lander…It’s the first time in years that NASA has designed and constructed a space flight vehicle…the creators of Morpheus hope to give the lander a test run on May 4th…We’re really focusing on two technologies,” Ondler told FoxNews.com. “One is autonomous and hazardous avoidance. It has sensors on board that allow it to detect hazards in the environment and adjust its trajectory to land in a safe spot.” “The other is the propulsion system -- liquid methane,” Ondler added. “You can make the methane from water on the moon; there’s lots of water trapped in craters on the moon. So that allows you to not carry all of your fuel with you. You can arrive at a planet and make fuel yourself on the surface.”…the concept stems from a similar lander created by Armadillo Aerospace, an aerospace startup based in Mesquite, Texas. NASA was turned on to Armadillo after the company won NASA’s lunar lander challenge in 2009 -- a contest that ultimately created the idea for Morpheus. “Our vehicle was called Pixel,” Neil Milburne, vice president for Armadillo Aerospace…we had a bunch of folks come in from JSC to witness the flight. Once we demonstrated what was physically possible, we realized we needed to supersize this thing and put a bigger engine on there," he said. "NASA’s Morpheus is the next generation of that vehicle…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

26. Comparing GPUs and CPUs http://www.hpcwire.com/news/Comparing-GPUs-and-CPUs-118873154.html “…Interest in GPUs was already high when China's Tianhe-1A supercomputer achieved a number one TOP500 ranking using the power of the graphics chips. With that success, many in the HPC community are wondering what GPU computing can do for them…While for some applications GPUs can offer 20x performance increases or more over CPUs, that doesn't mean they are always the right choice…The GPU remains a specialized processor, and its performance in graphics computation belies a host of difficulties to perform true general-purpose computing. The processors themselves require rewriting any software…The use of GPUs speeds up a single node considerably, sometimes more than 30 fold. But if at the same time we don't develop a 30-fold higher bandwidth and 30- fold lower latency interconnect, scaling will always be limited across clusters of GPUs…The general consensus seems to be that with the proper resources and training, GPUs are worth the trouble. "Essentially, if the effort has been made to port the code to GPUs then the performance improvement over CPU systems can be phenomenal…One area where GPUs really shine is data analysis, where they may net speedups of 200x…”

27. NVIDIA PhysX Technology Adopted for Funcom's Dreamworld Engine http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/NVIDIA-PhysX-Technology-Adopted-for-Funcoms-Dreamworld-Engine-NASDAQ-NVDA-1418231.htm “…Funcom's Dreamworld 2.5, a leading game engine for massively multiplayer online games…is the first game to incorporate server-side NVIDIA® PhysX® technology. This unique implementation into Dreamworld Engine 2.5 results in more than a doubling in the speed-of in-game physics processing vs. traditional client-side PhysX technology, delivering realistic collision effects within the online gaming environments. Dreamworld 2.5 currently powers two of the world's most popular MMOs: Age of Conan and Anarchy Online, with a third, the Secret World, currently in development. The updated Dreamworld Engine 2.5 with server side PhysX is now live in Age of Conan. "We are excited to be working closely with NVIDIA to integrate PhysX technology into our Dreamworld 2.5 engine," said Rui Casais, chief technology officer at Funcom. "Server-side collision using PhysX will allow us to add a new level of realism to our online worlds…”


*****

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