2011/04/05

NEW NET Weekly List for 05 Apr 2011

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 05 April 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. Facebook, Your Future Bank http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/mar2011/tc20110330_626552.htm “…Nongamers may have missed Facebook's clever foray into the world of "virtual currency," where Facebook Credits cost 10 cents each and can be exchanged for game points or cartoony gifts. Those dimes are adding up…You can now purchase gift cards for Facebook Credits at Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy. So why couldn't Facebook use them as real currency, too? In fact, why couldn't Facebook become your bank?...this seems like a crazy idea…until you realize how smartphones are changing the world of money…PayPal did exactly this on the Web about a decade ago, when it pioneered a simpler way for eBay users to transfer funds securely; PayPal now has 94 million active accounts and is nearing $4 billion in annual revenue from $92 billion in PayPal transactions—about 18 percent of all global e-commerce…Facebook today both owns the Web—where 500 million-plus users now spend more time there than on any other site—and is a dominant app on smartphones. Beyond this customer base, Facebook has embedded "Like" buttons on almost every major website, becoming the only real product praise utility…Facebook already has a currency, its Credits…If only one of every five Facebook users adopted Credits to buy things, Facebook would be as big as PayPal…Becoming a financial powerhouse would help Facebook avoid the fate of many once-popular networks…Sharing photos and gossip with friends might make Facebook hard to leave. But upload your checking account and Facebook may just be forever.”
  2. Educational building blocks: how Minecraft is used in classrooms http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/04/educational-building-blocks-how-minecraft-is-being-used-in-the-classroom.ars “…Minecraft has been used to create some amazing things. And as one teacher learned, those very same elements that make the game so compelling also make it a great educational tool…Joel Levin, a computer teacher at Manhattan's Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, decided to start using the game to teach an entire unit to his first- and second-grade students. The lessons took place almost entirely in the world of Minecraft. And it was a huge hit…Prior to the Minecraft experiment, Levin had used a variety of tools to make his computer class more enjoyable for students…What those tools didn't have that Minecraft does, though, was the ability to keep students engaged…Levin also made some changes to the core game to make it more suitable for the classroom. Chief among these was making students invulnerable to damage while playing, so that they couldn't die in the game…"Minecraft is not easy to pick up and enjoy if you've never played this type of game before…I worried that kids wouldn't make it over the learning curve. I also worried they would be overwhelmed by the game environments…As it turns out, that worry was misplaced—the experiment was a rousing success…"From day one, the kids are all playing together in a single world," explained Levin. "They must share resources, take turns, work together, and, frankly, be nice to each other. This is usually the first time these kids have had to think about these concepts in a game…Kids have territorial disputes over where they are building. Kids have said mean things to each other within the game or have been destructive with each other's creations." Levin actually views these negative behaviors as a positive aspect of the lesson, and will often stop the game to address these concerns. He sees it as a way to help shape the way his students behave in an online environment…In the spring, Levin will be teaching four new groups of students, and soon he'll be starting an after school class as well. "Over half of my students signed up to take it," he told Ars. "I had to offer it on an additional day to accommodate…”
  3. Data.gov & 7 Other Sites to Shut Down After Budgets Cut http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/datagov_7_other_sites_to_shut_down_after_budgets_c.php “…Obama administration launched a number of ambitious websites, most notably Data.gov, that were dedicated to offering public and government data…to foster transparency and offer a platform for the development of new software and services…the Sunlight Foundation…reported that the public projects Data.gov, USASpending.gov, Apps.gov/now, IT Dashboard and paymentaccuracy.gov as well as a number of internal government sites including Performance.gov, FedSpace…would be taken offline in coming weeks due to budget cuts by Congress…there's a potentially viable effort to save these sites and organizations…see the Sunlight Foundation's Save the Data…”
  4. Web browser market share http://arstechnica.com/web/news/2011/04/web-browser-market-share-modern-browser-edition.ars “…Internet Explorer has steadily declined from its near-total monopolization of the browser market, and Firefox's growth has faltered, most likely due to strong competition from Google's Chrome…Microsoft's browser continues to shed market share, dropping 0.85 points to 55.92 percent. Firefox is essentially unchanged, at 21.80 percent…Chrome had another strong month, up 0.64 points to 11.57 percent. Safari saw gains too, up 0.25 points to 6.61 percent. Opera appears unchanged at 2.15 percent…Browser preferences show substantial geographic variation…Firefox has a much higher proportion of market share in Europe than it does in the US, and Internet Explorer is particularly strong in China and South Korea…Internet Explorer 6, is enormously widely used in China…there's no obvious reason for this state of affairs…China alone accounts for just under a quarter of the Internet's user base, so even if Internet Explorer were used nowhere else, it would still achieve around a 23 percent market share…Microsoft was quick to boast of Internet Explorer 9's 2.5 million downloads in its first 24 hours—a number quickly eclipsed by Firefox 4, which garnered 7.1 million in its first day…Internet Explorer 7 dropped…to 7.87 percent, and version 6 dropped…to 10.97 percent. Both browsers are approaching a usage level that will justify their abandonment by site developers, and those with a predominantly European focus can probably cut loose the decade-old Internet Explorer 6 with impunity. Those catering to a Far Eastern audience unfortunately have no such luxury…”
  5. Amazon Cloud Drive vs. Google Docs vs. Microsoft Skydrive http://www.pcworld.com/article/224149/cloud_fight_amazon_cloud_drive_vs_google_docs_vs_microsoft_skydrive.html Amazon…will give away 5 GB of storage to anyone who has an Amazon account. How does this compare with existing offerings from Google and Microsoft? The short answer is: not very well. If you need to store large files (more than a gigabyte, say) but not too many of them, then Amazon is worth a closer look. But it's short on features that both Google, Microsoft, and major competitors like Box.net have been stuffing into their clouds for some time…Amazon's…focused on music files: your storage quota is upped to 20 GB if you purchase an entire MP3 music CD from Amazon after you initiate your account…While you can get 5 GB for free, the price goes up quickly…When you get to a terabyte, Amazon will cost $1,000 a year….Compare that to Google Docs, which will only cost $256 annually…Amazon's limit is 2 GB per file, which is better than you will get from Google or Microsoft…for videographers or others who need to store huge files cheaply, Amazon should be your first place to try out…I've tried the Amazon service, and I've used the others…I keep going back to using Box.net. It is a very feature-rich environment…and the price is reasonable too for plans with less than 100 GB of storage. If you need to share large files, it is the easiest of the services to use (your correspondents just get a URL to click on to share your files -- they don't need to open their own account). Still, I am sure Amazon…will eventually bring it to feature parity with its competitors. And…the company will continue to lower prices on storage as it figures out cheaper ways to provide for more room…” http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-cloud-drive-for-windows-2011-4 “…Less than a week after Amazon's Cloud Drive went live, a developer has come up with a way to turn it into a network drive on your PC. This means…you can just drag and drop files into the network drive as you would with Dropbox or any other folder. The app, called Gladinet Cloud Desktop, already supports services such as Google Docs, and has been updated to include Amazon's new Cloud Drive. It's only available for Windows right now…You can download Gladinet…for $49.99…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. Webcam notarizations get the legal go-ahead http://www.tgdaily.com/business-and-law-features/55115-webcam-notarizations-get-the-legal-go-ahead “…physically standing before a notary may soon be a thing of the past, as Virginia just became the first U.S. state to explicitly allow webcam notarizations…residents of all 50 states can take advantage of the new law by simply logging onto NotaryNow.com…notary stamps issued (at this stage) would be from Virginia…if someone in Connecticut required a document to be notarized with a Connecticut-specific stamp, they wouldn't be able to use the above-mentioned service…users simply create an account and verify their identity with an authentication tool by uploading valid forms of identification. They are then put in contact with a notary (who is physically present in Virginia) via webcam. The client uploads his or her document(s). Upon approval from the notary, a revised document affixed with a digital certificate is issued and can be downloaded or printed out immediately…”
  2. Huge malware attack compromises millions of web pages http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Security/LizaMoon-Mass-SQL-Injection-Attack-Escalates-Out-of-Control-378108/ “…Security firm Websense has been tracking the “LizaMoon” attack since it started March 29…victims…saw a warning dialog that they had been infected with malware and a link to download a fake antivirus…Windows Stability Center…in a “very traditional rogue AV scam,”…More than 500,000 URLs have been injected with LizaMoon, according to Runald. If all the domains used in the attack are considered, eWEEK found about 2.9 million results on Google Search that have been compromised…legitimate Websites have been compromised in a way that one line of code has been embedded on the site. That code is a simple redirect, and executes when the user loads the page. The bulk of the action happens on the redirected page, where a script containing Javascript code kicks off the fake AV scam…The vulnerabilities weren’t within the database software, but “most likely in the Web systems used by these sites, such as outdated CMS and blog systems,”…The bulk of the victims, at 47 percent, appear to be from the United States…Not many antivirus programs seem to be able to detect the Windows Stability Center…As of April 1, only 17 out of the 43 tested block Windows Stability Scanner…” http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2382979,00.asp “…new bit of malware has been making headway across the Internet, but is it really that big of a deal?...In order for the script to have any noticeable effect on your computer, you have to agree to allow it to work its unhealthy magic on your system…The simple solution: Don't install unknown files! The more complex solution: Know what antivirus programs already exist on your system, and know what they look like when they scan for and find files…In short, Lizamoon can't do a thing to your system unless you let it…”
  3. Condé Nast pays phisher $8 million http://www.geek.com/articles/geek-cetera/conde-nast-pays-phisher-8-million-by-accident-2011045/ “…at publisher Condé Nast…a single phishing e-mail saw the company pay out $8 million. The phishing e-mail in question was an electronic payment authorization request form for a company called Quad Graph. Conde Nast use a company called Quad/Graphics to handle its magazine printing…someone completed the form and authorized payment. Wire transfers were then made through a JPMorgan Chase Bank account…In total $7,870,530.02 was transferred to a Quad Graph account in Texas before the mistake was noticed. Another smaller payment of $47,137.91 was also made to a separate account in the name of Andy Surface. It looks like he setup both accounts…Condé Nast didn’t notice the problem…the real Quad/Graphics contacted the publisher asking where their money was. Condé Nast went to the FBI in a panic…The money was found in the two accounts as Mr Surface had not done anything with it yet…”
  4. Banks, Credit-Card Issuers Warn of Email Breach http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/05/business/05hack.html “…experts said Monday that millions of people were at increased risk of e-mail swindles after a giant security breach at an online marketing firm. The breach exposed the e-mail addresses of customers of some of the nation’s largest companies, including JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Target and Walgreens…the breach may be among the largest ever. And it could lead to a surge in phishing attacks — e-mails that purport to be from a legitimate business but are intended to steal information like account numbers or passwords…While e-mail addresses may not seem particularly vulnerable, experts say that if criminals can associate addresses with names and a business like a bank, they can devise highly customized attacks to trick people into disclosing more confidential information, a technique known as “spear phishing.”…A spear-phishing e-mail is…dangerous because it can include a person’s name and is sent only to people who are known to be customers of a certain business, greatly increasing the likelihood that the targets will be duped…With the information stolen from Epsilon, thieves could send customers of a particular bank an e-mail that appeared to be from the bank, complete with their names…they could even include the customer’s address in the e-mail…The companies that alerted customers or acknowledged being affected also include Barclays Bank, U.S. Bancorp, Walt Disney, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Best Buy, L. L. Bean, Home Shopping Network, TiVo…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Verizon’s 4G LTE crushes Sprint’s WiMAX according to 1,000 speed tests http://venturebeat.com/2011/04/01/sprint-4g-wimax/ “…According to a series of 1,000 speed tests conducted by BTIG Research in New York City…Sprint’s 4G network gets download speeds of around 1 megabit per second on average — far slower than even 3G networks on rival carriers…Verizon’s 4G network…achieved download speeds nearly 10 times as fast on average. The test reveals Sprint’s deep dark secret about its 4G network: it’s simply not that fast. That’s mainly due to…WiMax technology…with faster LTE networks being deployed by Verizon and AT&T, Sprint’s going to have a hard time convincing consumers that they should pay extra for its slower 4G speeds…Verizon’s network averaged download speeds of 8.3 Mbps and upload speeds of 4.47 Mbps. Sprint’s…clocked in at 1.19 Mbps down and .39 Mbps up…It should be noted that BTIG’s Sprint 4G speeds seem slower than other speed tests, where Sprint normally achieves download speeds of around 2 Mbps to 3 Mbps. But even that seems difficult to call 4G — both AT&T and T-Mobile’s 3G networks can hit those speeds without issue…it definitely seems like Sprint 4G customers are getting shortchanged…”
  2. Android Is Destroying Everyone, Especially RIM -- iPhone Dead In Water http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2011/04/android-continued.html “…six months ago, I put up a blog post suggesting Android was going to be the dominant mobile phone operating system and that developers interested in the largest user bases ought to start developing for it in preference to iOS…It looks like the Verizon iPhone launch is helping iOS hold its own with 25% of the market…I believe the mobile OS market will play out very similarly to Windows and Macintosh, with Android in the role of Windows. And so if you want to be in front of the largest number of users, you need to be on Android…The numbers above are for the US…Android will be stronger in the developing world than it is in the developed world. And most of the growth in smartphones is going to come from the developing world in the next five to ten years…” http://www.businessinsider.com/android-iphone-market-share-2011-4?op=1 Google's Android OS has gained an astonishing 7 points of market share in the US smartphone market in the past three months…RIM's market share over the same period collapsed, dropping almost 5 points. Apple's share increased slightly, but is dead in the water and has now fallen way behind Android. Android now has a third of the US market (33%). RIM's share has plummeted to 29%. Apple is holding at 25%. In the "also ran" category, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 did nothing to stop its decline, which fell from 9% to 7.7%. And Palm, which is barely worth mentioning anymore, fell another point to 2.8%...The Android gains matter because technology platform markets tend to standardize around a single dominant platform…the more dominant the platform becomes, the more valuable it becomes and the harder it becomes to dislodge. The network effect kicks in, and developers building products designed to work with the platform devote more and more of their energy to the platform…it's not a question of which platform is "better." (This is irrelevant.) It's a question of which platform everyone else uses…” http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/04/04/android-is-a-mess-say-developers/ “…Wilson, a venture capitalist, has been advising developers to write first for Android…Arment, a developer, thinks that's bad advice. He believes Android's market share gains may be illusory -- especially when the rise of the iPad is taken into account -- and that as a development environment, Google's OS has serious shortcomings. Baird's survey suggests that developers have taken Wilson's advice. 71% of respondents said they were writing apps for Android vs. 62% for iOS…the survey also suggests that programmers writing for Android are finding the ecosystem to be…perilous as Arment predicted…Device fragmentation…Store fragmentation…Ease of development…App visibility…Ability to get paid…”
  3. Intuit Readies A Tablet App For GoPayment, Targets Square http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/29/intuit-tablet-gopayment-square/ Mobile payments are finally taking off right now. But it is not mobile wallets for consumers with NFC-chipped mobile phones leading the way. It is payment apps for small merchants like those made by Square and Intuit’s GoPayment…an upcoming GoPayment tablet app…aims to replace the cash register for small businesses…The GoPayment app will work on both the iPad and Android tablets In addition to taking credit card payments with a swiper that plugs into the headphone jack, it also lets merchants set up a cash register with their own products and prices. They can even take pictures of the products with their iPad 2 and the picture is placed on a virtual button to make it easy for any employee to ring up the items. It will also have the ability to take pictures of checks and deposit them from the image…GoPayment has been around for two years, but only recently started to target the lower end of the market where Square is gaining traction—small businesses without merchant accounts at banks who don’t already take credit cards…The trick to making money in payments processing is to keep the fraud rate down. Intuit already handles payments for many small businesses through and has built up an expertise in fraud detection to the point where it transfers money to its payments customers in a matter of two or three days. Square reduces its risk for larger accounts by holding the money for 30 days. Intuit’s credit card swiper might be uglier than Square’s, but don’t underestimate how important it is for small businesses to get getting paid faster…GoPayment processes about $9 million a week, whereas Square is processing about $7 million (but GoPayment’s numbers include payments from the Web and QuickBooks, not just mobile)…Update: Intuit says it is now up to $12 million a week in payment volume…” http://www.chipchick.com/2011/04/intuit-gopayment.html “…start accepting credit and debit personally from your own phone. Intuit’s GoPayment is a combination of app and hardware – sign up for the app, and you’ll receive a small card swiper that plugs into your iPhone’s headphone port…Receipts can be sent via text or email. The app itself and the card swiper are both free, but Intuit does charge a small fee per transaction…”
  4. Google’s Android anti-fragmentation push is vital http://www.slashgear.com/googles-android-anti-fragmentation-push-is-vital-01143896/ Reports earlier this week painted an ominous future for Google’s open-source strategy with Android…OEMs and carriers…claimed, Android head Andy Rubin had become a harsh gatekeeper, doling out early access to new iterations of the OS only to those who’ll toe the Google line…doing it all under the banner of “non-fragmentation.”…The versatility was clear from the start. “The Android platform will be made available under one of the most progressive, developer-friendly open-source licenses…Handset manufacturers and wireless operators will be free to customize Android in order to bring to market innovative new products faster and at a much lower cost.”…the number of Android devices on the market snowballed, and with them came untold variations on the core platform…Yet, look at what consumers are demanding, and you’ll see it’s consistency. Last month’s J.D. Power 2011 survey results found Apple’s iPhone…scoring full marks for “ease of operation” whereas its Android-reliant rivals managed 3/5. Perhaps more galling for Motorola and HTC, the second and third place holders, the iPhone scored top marks for satisfaction with handset features while they managed 4/5, despite in many cases their Android devices being better equipped than the Apple alternative…The message from users is clear: they want a straightforward user experience and the tightly-constrained iOS environment delivers on that…Still, for every fragment avoided, there’s the possibility of legitimate, interesting – and, dare I say, useful – innovation being squandered…If Google clamping down on fragmentation is enough to prevent mediocre, skin-deep UIs then I’m all for it.”
  5. ASUS Eee Pad Transformer at Best Buy Soon for $400 http://www.slashgear.com/asus-eee-pad-transformer-at-best-buy-soon-for-400-31143689/ “…new Android tablet…keyboard bottom…nearly final build of Android 3.0 Honeycomb…on Best Buy for a mere $400…This tablet is still not available for pre-order yet…10.1″ IPS display sizing up at 1280 x 800 pixel resolution covered with Gorilla Glass…NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB flash storage…1.2-megapixel webcam on the front, 2x USB 2.0 along the sides, Bluetooth 2.1…802.11 b/g/n…”

Apps

  1. Facebook-Enabled, Social Recommendations of Mobile Apps Are Here With Apptitude http://www.insidemobileapps.com/2011/03/31/facebook-social-app-recommendations-apptitude/ “…Apptitude — a way to learn about the mobile applications your Facebook friends use…“The top 25 chart is essentially broken,” Mantri said. “It’s rigged and it’s unfair to independent app developers. We need to democratize the playing field for developers and more importantly, for users.” Unlike other recently launched recommendation systems like Explor, the smart thing about Apptitude’s design is is that it doesn’t require a user’s friends to have signed up for it. The app analyzes your friends’ previous Facebook wall postings to understand what mobile apps they might use…It also detects whether a person’s friends have “liked” a mobile app’s Facebook page…Mantri and Agrawal also have plans to build in different game mechanics to reward users for finding hot apps first…Mobile app discovery is a notoriously difficult problem…Indie developers can get free credits from companies like Tapjoy, but they need to give exclusive distribution rights to them. Other discovery solutions like Chomp, Appsfire and Appolicious…tend to appeal to a minority of users who will go out of their way to search engines beyond the app store or voraciously look for articles and Top 10 Lists about apps they should use. Apptitude will probably suffer from this meta-discovery problem too…these discovery issues reflect deep cultural differences in the way Apple and Facebook have run their platforms…Facebook has historically shied away from building app leaderboards, or prominently promoting its app directory…Apple has never had social software ingrained into its culture; its iOS ecosystem has grown up and adapted to using leaderboards in the app store as a major distribution channel…Zynga has mastered the art of viral distribution…on iOS, Rovio Mobile’s Angry Birds is barely social…it doesn’t need to be to get tens of millions of users…”
  2. A proximity-based app has nailed the triangulation problem http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/37228/ “…device-to-device sharing of music, videos, and photos will become commonplace…thanks to a new crop of proximity-based apps…that provide a simple way to share media between phones. One of the most interesting and advanced of these tools is LoKast. Created by Boris Bogatin, an engineering grad from the University of Pennsylvania…LoKast is unique in that it uses programming tricks to capture GPS and wireless data about which phones are actually nearby…The app lets users stream their own music, videos, and photos from their phones to anyone within a radius of 1,000 feet…The app works over both 3G and Wi-Fi. A "LoKast Live" feature lets users see new videos and photos added in real time and play them back instantly—helpful at a wedding, business meeting, or party…LoKast checks the quality of the smart phone's GPS signal and triangulates its position based on proximity to a Wi-Fi hot spot. Other apps use just a simple GPS location string…LoKast also uses an intermediary server in the cloud…Using a server is more costly, but it provides a smoother transmission…and it transmits over greater distances…Bogatin downplayed privacy concerns, saying, "LoKast is meant for disposable proximity media sharing"—for photos and movies that are created for a one-time event…”
  3. Collegefitness.com: translating successful websites into smartphone apps http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/entrepreneurship/2011/04/04/brent-skoda-of-collegefitness-launches-nutritional-apps “…The founder of CollegeFitness.com and his team at Ahkeo Ventures, have launched two mobile applications taking advantage of the nutrition database that forms the backbone of the fitness site. That website, which was reaping $2.4 million a year in revenue before Skoda graduated Texas Christian University in the winter, earned Skoda last year’s Global Student Entrepreneur Award…Skoda, 24, and his team developed the apps—one a kids’ educational game and another a location-based app for grownups…The free, ad-supported applications are intended to form a spin-off of CollegeFitness.com called Appcasters…“My Play Chef Lite,” lets children pick a recipe and earn points by choosing nutritious ingredients. In its first five days of availability, the application had been downloaded 13,712 times, played 27,599, and served more than 3.3 million advertising impressions…the second application, called "Yumee,"…incorporates detailed nutritional information on menu items that allows users to do more than just choose between an Italian and a Thai restaurant within a few blocks of them, but also decide on menu items based on calorie counts and nutritional value…My Play Chef Lite and Yumee are available just on the Android system, not Apple’s iOS…That was a conscious choice, Skoda said, because the Google Android app market is less crowded and complicated to get into…they'll be coming to Apple devices at least by May…”

Open Source

  1. Open Goldberg Variations Raises $16,000 in 20 Days for "Open Source Bach" http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/03/25/prweb8239353.DTL “…the Open Goldberg Variations project has achieved its first fundraising milestone, raising more than $16,000 in just 20 days on Kickstarter.com. The project's aim is to create a new score and studio recording of J.S. Bach's masterpiece, the Goldberg Variations, and donate them to the public domain…top quality public domain scores and recordings have been all but impossible to find. The Open Goldberg Variations project will change this…by creating the first open source version of the score. The project will spotlight award-winning pianist Kimiko Ishizaka, who will perform the variations in a top German sound studio to produce a definitive contemporary recording of the highest professional standard…The project is the first fruit of a partnership between the Open Goldberg Project and MuseScore, the company behind the MuseScore open source music notation software…”
  2. Redbull sends marketing doodad to hackerspace using an open source product http://www.newsfactor.com/blog_article.php?aid=3338144 “…Redbull is harnessing the power of open source hardware to market their product to hackers everywhere…It seems that a rep for the company dropped off a package at a hackerspace in LA called Null Space Labs. It came in what is obviously a laser cut wooden box, a material that tends to make hackers salivate. Inside they found the board you see above. It took a bit of time to look over the hardware was eventually identified as an Uzebox…they plugged in an original NES controller to the controller port on the back of the board and were playing a version of Pac-man in no time. Marketing and advertising have their place in our lives…we have no problem with it when done creatively and targeted to our interests. Good job Redbull, and might we add, that’s a heck of a routing path for your PCB outline.” [the type of marketing that Luke might endorse – ed.]

SkyNet

  1. Google picks Kansas City for Gigabit Internet Service http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/ultra-high-speed-broadband-is-coming-to.html “…we’re very happy to announce that we will build our ultra high-speed network in Kansas City, Kansas. We’ve signed a development agreement with the city, and we’ll be working closely with local organizations, businesses and universities to bring a next-generation web experience to the community…In selecting a city, our goal was to find a location where we could build efficiently, make an impact on the community and develop relationships with local government and community organizations. We’ve found this in Kansas City. We’ll be working closely with local organizations including the Kauffman Foundation, KCNext and the University of Kansas Medical Center to help develop the gigabit applications of the future. Pending approval from the city’s Board of Commissioners, we plan to offer service beginning in 2012…” http://gigaom.com/broadband/kansas-city-gets-gigabit-speeds-what-about-the-rest-of-us/ “…One great thing that should come from news coverage of Kansas City’s community stakeholders is that the real value of broadband finally will sink into more people’s minds…Over and over in Wednesday’s Kansas City webcast, you heard government officials, business people and just plain folks talk about the economic, healthcare and education benefits they have planned for broadband…” http://www.kansascity.com/2011/04/02/2771669/the-courtship-of-google-a-cautious.html “…The players who closed the deal — mostly the leadership at the Unified Government of Wyandotte County — spoke of hush-hush conversations, flurried exchanges of emails and no-frills get-togethers that wound up convincing Google it was right to come to confluence of the Kaw and the Missouri…Kansas City, Kan., was chosen out of more than 1,100 communities that begged Google to hook them up with the fastest onramps to the Internet…one key to their decision seems to be simplicity. The county and city governments of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., are combined. Fewer bureaucrats to haggle with. The local electric provider — a key player in sharing utility poles and buried conduit — is publicly owned…just a handful of people armed with technical expertise put the case to Google. “We believe in staying below the radar…said County Administrator Dennis Hays…Wyandotte County had a couple of other built-in advantages…Kansas City has long been a railroad hub. And rail right-of-ways have been prime places for running fiber-optic wire…You aren’t going to run into data bottlenecks with Kansas City…Wyandotte County also still counts on the trusty old utility pole. While more vulnerable to bad weather, it’s also cheaper and quicker to tie another line to a telephone pole than to bury the lines underground…a Google spokesman..said the ease of working with a small group in a city that he termed business-friendly — not because of taxes, but because it moved efficiently — mattered…We were interested in going somewhere we could build quickly…” [I think I might move to Kansas City and get a job for Google as a community technology evangelist for gigabit internet applications – ed.]
  2. Google making app that would identify people's faces http://www.cnn.com/2011/TECH/mobile/03/31/google.face/ Google plans to introduce a mobile application that would allow users to snap pictures of people's faces in order to access their personal information, a director for the project said this week. In order to be identified by the software, people would have to check a box agreeing to give Google permission to access their pictures and profile information, said Hartmut Neven, the Google engineering director for image-recognition development…Google has had the technical capabilities to implement this type of search engine for years…"People are asking for it all the time, but as an established company like Google, you have to be way more conservative than a little startup that has nothing to lose," said Neven, whose company Neven Vision was acquired by Google in 2006…Neven Vision specialized in object and facial recognition development. The object-related programs are reflected in an image search engine, called Goggles. The face-recognition technology was incorporated into Picasa, Google's photo-sharing service, helping the software identify friends and family members in your computer's photo library. In 2009, Google acquired a company called Like.com, which specialized in searching product images but also did work in interpreting pictures of people…Google also faces numerous inquiries from governments regarding information collected by its Street View vans. Developers who report to Neven work on aspects of that street-level photography initiative -- mainly privacy-minded features such as the automatic blurring of faces and license plates…Google acknowledges the nefarious ways someone could leverage facial-recognition technology. Many people "are rightfully scared of it," Neven said. "In particular, women say, 'Oh my God. Imagine this guy takes a picture of me in a bar, and then he knows my address just because somewhere on the Web there is an association of my address with my photo.' That's a scary thought…”
  3. Google announces +1 Button in a challenge to Facebook's Like Button http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/03/google-announces-1-button-aiming-right-for-facebooks-like-button.html Google is taking on Facebook's Like Button with a button of its own, the +1 Button. "Our goal at Google is to get you the most relevant results as quickly as possible," Rob Spiro, a Google product manager, wrote…That's why we recently started to include more information from people you know -- stuff they've shared on Twitter, Flickr and other sites -- in Google search results. Today we're taking that a step further, enabling you to share recommendations with the world right in Google's search results…If a user likes the website they've visited, they can click the +1 Button to publicly share that with those Google has identified as friends or contacts…a list of any friends who have clicked the +1 Button for that link will show up too…adding the button to websites will be easy, giving Google fans the option of giving a +1 to participating pages outside of Google.com…The whole system is similar to that of Facebook's Like Button…”
  4. Gmail Motion April Fools' gag inevitably turned into reality using Kinect http://www.engadget.com/2011/04/02/gmail-motion-april-fools-gag-inevitably-turned-into-reality-usi/ “…When Google showed off a new and revolutionary Gmail Motion control scheme yesterday [April 1], it failed to fool most people, but it didn't fail to catch the attention of some motion control geeks with Kinect cameras on hand…the FAAST crew that's already brought us a Kinect keyboard emulator for World of Warcraft has taken Google to task and actually cooked up the software to make Gmail Motion work. All your favorite gestures are here: opening an email as if it were an envelope, replying by throwing a thumb back and, of course, "licking the stamp" to send your response on its way…”
  5. Will latest Google Books ruling spur formation of US public digital library? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/04/technology/04library.html Is the tantalizing dream of a universal library dead? Some scholars and librarians across the country fear it may be, now that a federal judge in New York has derailed Google’s bold plan to build the world’s largest digital library and bookstore. With 15 million books scanned, Google had gotten closer to the elusive goal than anyone else…others, who were troubled by Google’s plan, have hailed the ruling…as an opportunity to bring new urgency to a project to create a universal public library — one that, they say, would be far superior to Google’s because it would not be commercial…The lofty effort, the Digital Public Library of America, counts a long list of heavyweights among its supporters, including librarians from major universities and officials from the National Archives and the Library of Congress. Some of the nation’s largest philanthropic foundations have said they were interested in financing the project, though its total cost has not been determined…But the endeavor remains in its infancy. The group has many champions…but it has no formal structure other than a steering committee. It has formed six working groups to study the project’s scope, financing, governance, legal hurdles, technical issues and audience. “Everyone who is at the table has a different idea of audience, scope, content and governance,” said David S. Ferriero, the archivist of the United States…There is no practical plan for getting it started…”
  6. Google Cloud Print Ready printers now available http://chrome.blogspot.com/2011/03/google-cloud-print-ready-printers-now.html “…Imagine printing an important email from your Chrome notebook on your train ride to work, then finding the completed printout in the printer tray when you reach the office. Or printing your airline boarding pass from your smartphone to your home printer, so you can grab the printout on your way out the door…Last year, we launched Google Cloud Print, a service that enables users to print from any device, operating system, or browser to any printer without the need for drivers or a PC connection…the most seamless experience is offered by Google Cloud Print Ready devices, a new generation of web-connected printers that don’t need to be attached to a computer. Today, HP has announced that all of its ePrint-enabled printers are Google Cloud Print Ready…With a Google Cloud Print Ready printer, you can print emails, documents and web pages from supported apps without having to hunt for drivers or printer cables…”
  7. Google Kills Off Those Little Square Codes You Scan With Your Phone http://www.businessinsider.com/those-little-square-codes-you-scan-with-your-phone-are-dead-2011-3 “…those cryptic black and white square labels on a sign in a business…Have you ever scanned one with your cell phone to see what happens? If you haven't, you probably never will. That technology, QR Codes, is on its way out. It's going to be replaced by near-field communication…Google…quietly phased out support for QR Codes from its Google Places service earlier this week. When Places launched, businesses could put a sign with a QR code in their front window…But last December, Google started sending out window decals with NFC chips to participating businesses in Portland, Oregon. Earlier this week, Google officially dropped support for QR codes from the product. Today, Google upped its membership in the NFC Forum, becoming a principal member…”

General Technology

  1. Intel Shipping 4.4 GHz Xeon CPUs http://www.hpcwire.com/news/Intel-Shipping-44-GHz-Xeon-CPUs-118450819.html “…CPU World reported that Intel has been quietly shipping Xeon "Westmere" processors clocked at a scorching 4.4 GHz…no confirmation from Intel that this is actually true, but article contents that this particular part, the Xeon X5698, is a dual-core chip…If true if would be the fastest Intel CPU ever offered…So why isn't Intel talking…One guess is that these chips are going into yet-to-be announced specialty servers…The most likely target for the X5698 is high frequency trading (HFT) servers, where single-threaded speed is driving application demands…”
  2. World Backup Day: what are you doing to make sure you're covered? http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/03/world-backup-day-what-are-you-doing-to-make-sure-youre-covered.ars When you rolled out of bed this morning, did your thoughts turn to preserving your data in the case of hardware failure?...March 31, is…the first World Backup Day…You may have heard it a thousand times before, but we'll take the grand occasion of a day devoted to the topic to once again remind you of the importance of backups. Given our history with computers, most of us at Ars have suffered hardware failures in the past. It's also very rare that we don't have a very recent backup to restore from, because there are fewer more irritating computing experiences than trying to piece together the shards of your digital life…To celebrate World Backup Day, we're sharing our own backup methodologies—and occasional missteps…”
  3. Commodore 64 is relaunched http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/the-commodore-64-is-back/12192 “…It might not be the 1980s, but that doesn’t stop Commodore bringing back and updated version of the legendary Commodore 64!...This thing comes fully-loaded:…Dual Core 525 Atom processor…NVIDIA Ion2 graphics…2GB of DDR3 memory - expandable to 4GB…1080p HD quality video playback…Play all your favorite 8-bit era games within seconds of turning the Commodore 64 on, by either selecting the C64 icon from the boot menu to run a C64 emulator…Fully PC compatible, so it will run Windows! Prices start at $595…”
  4. Solar power device captures both light and heat http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110404111148.htm A new polymer-based solar-thermal device is the first to generate power from both heat and visible sunlight -- an advance that could shave the cost of heating a home by as much as 40 percent…This new device uses a fluid that flows through a roof-mounted module to collect heat from the sun while an integrated solar cell generates electricity from the sun's visible light. "It's a systems approach to making your home ultra-efficient because the device collects both solar energy and heat,"…A standard, rooftop solar cell will miss about 75 percent of the energy provided by the sun at any given time because it can't collect the longest wavelengths of light -- infrared heat…"On a rooftop, you have a lot of visible sunlight and heat from the infrared radiation," Carroll said. "The solar-cell industry has for the most part ignored the heat."…the new solar-thermal device takes advantage of this heat through an integrated array of clear tubes, five millimeters in diameter…The visible sunlight shines into the clear tube and the oil inside, and is converted to electricity by a spray-on polymer photovoltaic on the back of the tubes. This process superheats the oil, which would then flow into the heat pump, for example, to transfer the heat inside a home…the new device allows for the collection of both visible light and infrared heat from nearly sunrise to sunset. This means it provides power for a much greater part of the day than does a normal solar cell…this is also the first solar-thermal device that can be truly building-integrated -- it can be made to look nearly identical to roofing tiles used today…Tests of the solar-thermal device have shown 30 percent efficiency in converting solar energy to power. By comparison, a standard solar cell with a polymer absorber has shown no greater than 8 percent conversion efficiency…”
  5. Basketball: Optimal Aim Points for Bank Shots http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110310151224.htm “…After simulating one million shots with a computer, the NC State researchers show that the bank shot can be 20 percent more effective when shooting at many angles up to a distance of about 12 feet from the basket. Bank shots are also more effective from the "wing" areas between the three-point line and the free-throw lane. However, straight-on shots -- those corresponding to the area around the free-throw line -- from further than 12 feet are not as well suited for bank shots…the optimal aim points make a "V" shape near the top center of the backboard's "square," which is actually a 24-inch by 18-inch rectangle which surrounds the rim. Away from the free-throw lane, these aim points were higher on the backboard and thus further from the rim. From closer to the free-throw lane, the aim points were lower on the backboard and closer to the rim. The researchers also discovered that if you imagine a vertical line 3.327 inches behind the backboard and found where it crossed the aim point on the "V" shape on the backboard, you'd find the optimal spot to bank the basketball to score a basket…”
  6. AMD Llano processor now shipping http://www.zdnet.com/blog/computers/amd-says-llano-processor-is-now-shipping/5395 “…Llano, which consists of a dual- or quad-core CPU combined with a DirectX 11 graphics processor, won’t be AMD’s first APU. It is already shipping C-Series (code-named Ontario) and E-Series (code-named Zacate) APUs…But these low-power APUs are designed for smaller netbooks and ultra-thin laptops, as well as budget notebooks. Llano is AMD’s first 32nm processor…Llano is a more powerful processor than the current APUs, which will give AMD a badly-needed competitor to the dual-core Core i3 (Sandy Bridge) processors in the mainstream laptops and desktops…AMD has a separate desktop CPU, code-named Zambezi, in quad- and eight-core versions that will compete head-to-head with Intel’s fastest Core i5 and Core i7 processors…”
  7. Microsoft Windows 8: 10 Reasons It Will Shatter Windows 7 http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Enterprise-Applications/Microsoft-Windows-8-10-Reasons-It-Will-Shatter-Windows-7-759149/ “…Windows 8 is just around the corner…one thing is for certain: Windows 8 will be even better than Windows 7. Here’s why…It improves upon a nice operating system…The security keeps improving…ARM compatibility is key…An application store…Instant-on is what’s needed…more suitable for tablets…Better power consumption…What’s with History Vault?...A better interface…Microsoft’s lesson learned…”

DHMN Technology

  1. Workshop makes industrial tools available to anyone http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/manufacturing/2011-04-02-industrial-tools-inventing-techshop.htm “…Modeled after gyms, TechShop is attracting members who pay as little as $100 a month to use industrial strength equipment to invent whatever they can imagine…Housed on two floors of a building that might otherwise have become loft condos, there are workshops for working with wood, metal, plastics and textiles, plus an electronics lab and computer design stations. Startups can even rent offices there by the month…Perhaps the most popular tool at TechShop is the laser cutter, a $30,000 metal box delicate enough to engrave paper but powerful enough to cut thick leather…One laser cutter fan is Marie LaCour, who started her kids’ party invitation business, Goobitty Goo, after getting laid off from her graphic design job of 14 years…A year later, she says, ”this has become my office.“…Hatch is deeply serious in his belief that giving more people access to more tools can transform societies and economies…Members must take classes that include extensive safety briefings before they can use specific equipment…After Jack Dorsey co-founded Twitter, his next idea was to offer a device that lets anyone with a bank account and a smartphone accept credit cards. Dorsey’s business partner, Jim McKelvey, designed and built a prototype at TechShop in Menlo Park…Newton says that his original motive for starting TechShop was purely selfish. He wanted his own shop, but he didn’t want to have to make stuff for clients in order to fund it. He just wanted a place to play…Newton opened the first TechShop on a shoestring in Silicon Valley’s Menlo Park in 2006. Since then, the shop has grown to nearly 900 members…The hope is that democratizing the tools of innovation can lead to economic revitalization…the San Francisco location houses the permanent office of a city-backed San Francisco non-profit, SFMade, that helps inventors turn their ideas into businesses in hopes of creating more manufacturing jobs…”It amazes me that nobody’s done this yet,“ he says. ”It seems like a dumb, obvious idea that there should be these things all over the place.”
  2. Keyglove is a Mouse and Keyboard for One Hand http://technabob.com/blog/2011/03/30/keyglove-one-hand-mouse-keyboard-controller/ “…Being able to control a computer with one hand is a great thing in a small workspace or if you are standing up and need to hold a notebook or tablet. One-handed control is also something that people with some sort of physical handicap benefit from as well…Jeff Rowberg has developed a cool one hand input device that controls the mouse and the keyboard for a computer user. The glove is called the Keyglove. It’s festooned with 34 sensors that produce keystrokes and letters when you touch them together…Its powered by Arduino/AVR prototype boards and has a motion sensor inside that controls the mouse pointer on a computer. Jeff is…on Kickstarter. He’s is looking to raise $10,000 and has about 27 days left to hit that number…” [take time to look at the photos in the article – ed.]
  3. Print your very own handheld vacuum cleaner http://www.geek.com/articles/geek-cetera/print-your-very-own-handheld-vacuum-cleaner-20110323/ “…there’s a growing base of people producing open source hardware made with 3D printers. Christopher Olah of Hacklab.to has just completed one such project that allows anyone to print and create their very own handheld vacuum cleaner. It’s small, but…it’s perfect for getting into small areas and picking up dirt and dust, so ideal for keyboard cleaning…The only other parts you need for this vacuum are a DC motor, power supply, tape, and some cloth for a filter. Olah has made the files necessary to print the parts available for free on Github, and also produced a visual guide on exactly how to put the vacuum together once the printing has been done…”
  4. The Asymmetrical Online War http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/the-asymmetrical-online-war/ “…John Brunner wrote a science fiction novel, “The Shockwave Rider,” about a lone programmer who creates a computer worm that exposes a repressive regime’s secrets and ultimately undermines a tyrannical government. Life invariably seems to find a way to imitate art, but as the world’s computer systems and networks continue to fall prey to hackers, the resemblance has become eerie…“It’s a completely surreal realization that nation states can be seriously confronted by teenagers…said John Perry Barlow, the Grateful Dead lyricist who co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 1990 to help defend young computer hackers. “One very smart person can take on an entire nation state.”…In the space of a little more than a month, two computer security firms have been publicly humiliated, one by an anonymous computer hacker who claimed in an e-mail interview with a Forbes columnist to be a 16-year-old girl and a second by someone who is apparently a 21-year-old Iranian who later appeared online as a proponent of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government…last month, RSA, a Massachusetts-based firm that sells software to corporations and governments that is used to keep digital secrets, was forced to admit that it had been the victim of what the firm described as a mysterious “Advanced Persistent Threat,” potentially undermining crucial encryption technology that protects millions of computers around the globe…the dystopian world that was envisioned by Mr. Brunner, as well as similar future political scenarios drawn by a generation of “cyberpunk” science fiction writers like Neal Stephenson, William Gibson and Vernor Vinge, seem increasingly to be echoed by real world events…”

Leisure & Entertainment

  1. Camera market flipping to new sensor technology http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20048197-264.html A new type of image sensor that's been flipped front to back is beginning to give photographers a better view of the world. The new sensors use a technology called backside illumination, and chipmakers including Sony and Samsung are leading the charge to build them into a variety of cameras…backside illumination, or BSI, is pretty easy to understand: flip the sensor around so the light it's detecting isn't partially blocked by a bunch of electronics. What used to be the back of the sensor is now facing outward toward the light. The advantage, illustrated among other places in the iPhone 4 camera, is better light sensitivity…more pixels without degrading how well each pixel works, yielding more detailed photographs…better image quality with the same number of pixels…to make a mobile phone perform more like a point-and-shoot or to make a higher-end SLR shoot better in dim conditions…In 2011, backside illumination sensors should account for 20 percent of the $5.6 billion revenue from image sensors built with the mainstream CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) process…By 2015, it should be 70 percent of an $8.2 billion CMOS image sensor business…Most sensors today employ front-side illumination, in which transistors and wires necessary to transmit image-sensor data are on the surface of the chip facing the outside of the camera. A lot of recent image sensor work has focused on reducing the number of transistors and on letting multiple pixels on the sensor share the same electronics. That improves the "fill factor," the percentage of each pixel that can be used to gather light. With backside illumination, though, the fill factor can go all the way up to 100 percent…Sony is outgrowing the rest of the pack, in part because of its early adoption of backside illumination in its Exmor R line of BSI sensors…Canon, a pioneer in CMOS image sensors, "is still relevant, but is looking for partners for their future sensors." Sony's sensors are used not only in its own still cameras and video cameras but also in SLR cameras from Nikon and Pentax…”
  2. Forget swapping headphones: MyStream lets you share music wirelessly http://venturebeat.com/2011/03/31/mystream-launch/ Have you ever sat next to a friend on the train and wanted to listen to the music he or she was listening to, only to be forced to uncomfortably share headphones? MyStream…wants to change this by allowing you to share your music wirelessly with friends. MyStream allows you to see what other people in the same wireless or Bluetooth network are listening to. It lets you listen in on the songs other MyStream users are listening to, or 30 second clips from other songs on playlists they’ve created…When the application is being used it is public to anyone in the wireless network, and more than one person can listen in on the music…With regards to potential copyright law violations, the company believes it has a low level of liability. The application does not enable any music sharing that is not already possible through portable speakers or an audio splitter…MyStream was founded in June 2010 by Richard Zelson, who is a first time entrepreneur. The company, which currently has five employees, has raised $800,000 in funding…”

Economy and Technology

  1. Salesforce.com and Intuit Tying QuickBooks to CRM http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/223946/salesforcecom_and_intuit_tying_quickbooks_to_crm.html Salesforce.com and Intuit will…integrate their respective CRM (customer relationship management) and QuickBooks accounting applications…Intuit will resell Salesforce.com software along with an integration that moves information between the software and QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online…This will be an improvement over the way many small businesses currently do CRM, namely in spreadsheets or on paper…a number of other CRM vendors have also built integrations to QuickBooks…Salesforce.com's capabilities will help those companies improve how they track customers, leads and deals…Both Intuit and Salesforce stand to tap a sizable market. Some 4 million businesses use QuickBooks, while Salesforce reports having more than 92,000 customers…”
  2. Startup Visa D.O.A., and Startup America Just a Giant Press Release? http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/30/startup-visa-d-o-a-and-startup-america-just-a-giant-press-release/ “…U.S…Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra…said that the President would only support the Startup Visa in the context of “comprehensive immigration reform”. What this means is that the legislation will be lumped in with toxic debates about illegal immigration and will be held hostage to other interests…there is almost no chance that this contentious issue will be resolved until after the next elections—which means that the Startup Visa could be Dead on Arrival…well-intentioned efforts to build Silicon Valley–style technology hubs are all based on the same flawed assumptions: that government planners can pick industries they want to develop and, by erecting buildings and providing money to entrepreneurs and university researchers, make innovation happen. There is not one example of a Government-sponsored tech cluster—anywhere in the world—that has worked…”
  3. Texas Instruments To Acquire National Semiconductor for $6.5 Billion http://newenterprise.allthingsd.com/20110404/texas-instruments-to-acquire-national-semiconductor-for-6-5-billion/ Two of the oldest names in the chip business are about to combine…Today, TI announced it will acquire National for $6.5 billion…TI specializes in wireless chips sold into mobile phones while National specializes in analog chips. TI is in the analog chip business too and has 30,000 analog products in its portfolio, which will now be supplemented by the 12,000 analog products that National sells. In one go, analog products will become more than 50 percent of TI’s business. Another key factor: National’s manufacturing prowess. It owns chip factories–usually referred to as “fabs”–in Maine, Scotland and Malayasia, and TI says it will continue to operate them…”
  4. BMW to Launch NYC Tech Incubator With $100 Million Investment Fund http://www.fastcompany.com/1743933/bmw-to-launch-nyc-tech-incubator-with-100-million-investment-fund “…BMW announced the planned creation of a tech incubator in New York City to seed innovations in mobile and location-based services…while such a strategy has obvious benefits in an industry increasingly looking to merge vehicles with high-end tech (BMW's iPhone integration, Ford SYNC, Hyundai's iPad owner's manual), the automaker is clear that it's not expecting to invest only in technology applicable to automobiles…the Big Apple serves as the ideal case-study for mobile tech. "We're interested in things that actually help you get around in cities, [and] New York creates some interesting challenges for mobility,"…Such a dense urban space helps seed very unique innovations…from Zipcar to UberCab…distinctly mobile services such as GroupMe and Foursquare were founded New York. Diehl says he's interested in new ways to look at traffic, parking, entertainment, the interlinking of different transportation modes, and places where "the digital meets the offline space." "As megacities become bigger, people have mobility needs, but they satisfy them in different ways…We have also always been innovative--trying to shape the future--so let's not ignore what's happening but deliberately go into this space and see what we can contribute here and transfer our ideas and brand value in the field of [mobile] services…”

Civilian Aerospace

  1. Space tourism closer as Virgin Galactic nears lift off http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12909071 “…In the Mojave Desert…In a non-descript beige hangar sits the Virgin Galactic spaceship…I visited to see how the work was going - and to be the first journalist to report from inside the spaceship…when all they can hear is silence the passengers will know they're in space. They'll be able to see the curvature of the earth and the thin band of atmosphere above. Passengers will then get around five minutes of weightlessness to float around the cabin - which will probably mean them bumping into each other, as the cabin is only seven-and-a-half feet in diameter…Test pilot Peter Siebold says flying the Virgin Galactic spaceship is ''exhilarating''…the astronauts' journeys will begin at a site in New Mexico. There, the world's first purpose built, commercial spaceport is under construction…The 5,000 square mile site in the middle of the desert has a unique combination of advantages…We are about a mile above sea level…We've got restricted airspace above us which is being shared with White Sands Missile Test Facility. And this beautiful, stable weather we have above us; this blue sky, it's like this 340 days out of the year. So it's a very conducive place to conduct a commercial space operation like this…” [three videos with the article – ed.]
  2. SpaceX Falcon Heavy is coming http://news.discovery.com/space/spacex-something-big-and-heavy-is-coming-110331.html Space Exploration Technologies released a promotional video on Thursday that previews the unveiling of a new member of the Falcon rocket family, a heavy-lifter that will compete with United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets…SpaceX's website describes the Falcon Heavy as being capable of lifting more than 70,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit and about 43,000 pounds to geostationary transfer orbit. The rocket consists of standard Falcon 9, with two additional Falcon 9 first stages serving as liquid-fueled strap-on boosters. Advertised price: $95 million…On Sept. 28, 2008, SpaceX became the first private company to send a privately made and designed liquid fuel rocket, the Falcon 1 Launch Vehicle, into Earth orbit…In Dec. 2010, SpaceX sent the Dragon, an unmanned capsule into space on the back of the Falcon 9. SpaceX successfully recovered the Dragon from the Pacific Ocean, less than one minute from a scheduled landing time and within one square-mile of a target landing area…They aim to carry payloads and people to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA contracts. The Falcon Heavy will be a next step forward, allowing SpaceX to carry a larger payload to the ISS. The Dragon Space Capsule is undergoing continued development to take crew and pressurized and unpressurized payloads to the ISS.” [video with article – ed.]
  3. NASA Announces Winners of 18th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/news/releases/2011/11-039.html NASA has announced the winners of the 18th annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race -- and it's Puerto Rico's year…Teodoro Aguilar Mora Vocational High School of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, snared the top two berths in the high school division; and, for the second straight year, the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao held off all comers to win the college division. The NASA competition challenges students around the world to build and race lightweight, human-powered buggies…Teodoro Aguilar Mora Vocational High School first raced in the event in 2010…This year, Team II posted a final time of 3 minutes 18 seconds…Team I was close behind, delivering a final time of 3 minutes 24 seconds…The University of Puerto Rico in Humacao, the only school in the world to enter a moonbuggy in every race since the event was founded in 1994, rolled to victory in 2010 with a winning time of 4 minutes 18 seconds. This year, the team crushed that previous best, completing the roughly half-mile course…in 3 minutes 41 seconds…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

  1. High-performance computing on gamer PCs, Part 1: Hardware http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/03/high-performance-computing-on-gamer-pcs-part-1-hardware.ars “…As the scope of scientific research has become more complex, so have the computational methods and hardware required to provide answers to scientific questions…For smaller labs, it can be nearly impossible to get adequate, timely access to critically important computing resources…With these issues in mind, a research team in the Laboratoire de Chimie de la Matière Condensée de Paris (LCMCP) at Chimie ParisTech, led by research engineer Yann Le Du and graduate student Mariem El Afrit, has been building a high performance computational cluster using only commercially available, "gamer" grade hardware. In a series of three articles, Ars will take an in-depth look at the GPU-based cluster being built at the LCMCP. This article will discuss the benefits of GPU-based processing, as well as hardware selection and benchmarking of the cluster…The cluster, known as HPU4Science, began with a $40,000 budget and a goal of building a viable scientific computation system with performance roughly equivalent to that of a $400,000 "turnkey" system made by NVIDIA, Dell, or IBM…The ideals of the project team dictated that the system use open source software wherever possible and that it be built only from hardware that is available to the average consumer…With most clock speeds topping out at 3 GHz, achieving the computational capacity necessary to attack complex scientific problems means increasing the number of processors in the system…CPUs…come at a heavy price, $50-$250 per core…GPUs like NVIDIA's GTX 580 pack over 512 computational units…for around $500…dollar for dollar, the processing power of these chips is unparalleled. With a GPU-based system, the cost is much lower, but the scientific problems solved with the GPU must be translated to simple, linear operations. Some problems that can be tackled on CPU-based systems may be intractable on a GPU system, but many, if not most, scientific problems can be largely translated to linear algebraic operations, so the subset of intractable problems is small. Another advantage of working with massively parallelized GPU processing is the ability to train neural networks…With the right choice of neural network methodology, the parallel and solitary cores that make up a GPU can be efficiently put to use on extraordinarily complex problems…LCMCP decided to move forward with GPU-based processing…to provide better answers to some questions that arise in Magnetic Resonance Imaging. As shown in the diagram, the system is set up in a Master-Worker configuration…In the simple Master-Worker mode, the master dispatches specific problem sets and algorithms to the workers. The workers then simply churn through the computations and report the results back to the master, where they are compiled and assembled into a final report. When using neural network algorithms, the master describes the problem parameters to the workers and selects the specific neural network algorithm to be used. This information is dispatched to workers and each worker independently explores its own set of possible solutions to the problem using the provided methodology. The master collects the results, combines the individual results to see if a more optimal hybrid solution exists, and finally reports the best results to the user…”
  2. Leap to Whole-Cell Simulations Powered by GPU Computing http://www.hpcwire.com/offthewire/Leap-to-Whole-Cell-Simulations-Powered-by-GPU-Computing-119068769.html Researchers have built a computer model of the crowded interior of a bacterial cell that…accurately simulates the behavior of living cells. The new "in silico cells" are the result of a collaboration between experimental scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biology in Germany and theoretical scientists at the University of Illinois using the newest GPU (graphics processing unit) computing technology…University of Illinois chemistry professor Zaida Luthey-Schulten…saw a paper by Wolfgang Baumeister and his colleagues at Max Planck that located every one of a bacterium's ribosomes, its protein-building machines, inside the cell…she asked Baumeister and his colleague Julio Ortiz if they would repeat the study in Escherichia coli (E. coli)…Luthey-Schulten was amazed at how little "space" remained inside the cell…like everybody else, my perception of the cell up until Wolfgang and Julio's 2006 article had always been that it's a pretty big sack of water where a lot of chemical reactions occur," she said…Well-designed computer simulations of whole cells can track every reaction within the cells while also accounting for the influence of molecular crowding and other variations between cells…The computer simulation also showed how molecular crowding influences the behavior of a molecule that, when it binds to DNA, shuts down production of the sugar-transporter protein…The new model is only a first step toward an accurate simulation of a whole working cell, the researchers said. The development of better models will rely on the work of those conducting research on actual cells. Their data provide the framework for improving computer models…”
  3. Processing data streams with hard real-time constraints on heterogeneous systems http://gpgpu.org/2011/03/29/data-streams-real-time-constraints#more-3405 Data stream processing applications such as stock exchange data analysis, VoIP streaming, and sensor data processing pose two conflicting challenges: short per-stream latency — to satisfy the milliseconds-long, hard real-time constraints of each stream, and high throughput — to enable efficient processing of as many streams as possible. High-throughput programmable accelerators such as modern GPUs hold high potential to speed up the computations. However, their use for hard real-time stream processing is complicated by slow communications with CPUs, variable throughput changing non-linearly with the input size, and weak consistency of their local memory with respect to CPU accesses…Our framework outperformed the alternative methods by allowing 50% more streams to be processed with provably deadline-compliant execution even for deadlines as short as tens milliseconds. Overall, the combined GPU-CPU execution allows for up to 4-fold throughput increase over highly-optimized multi-threaded CPU-only implementations.”

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