2011/04/12

NEW NET Weekly List for 12 Apr 2011

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 12 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. Report Local, Non-Emergency Issues Via Facebook With SeeClickFix http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/report_local_non-emergency_issues_via_facebook_wit.php SeeClickFix allows community members to report and track on non-emergency issues they see, notifying local municipalities when there's a problem that needs to be fixed. SeeClickFix helps bring attention to the sorts of issues that local governments might not otherwise know about or pay attention to: potholes, graffiti, illegal dumping, and the like…The company was founded in 2009 and already has over 200,000 users reporting problems via its mobile apps and website…The Facebook app will tie directly to SeeClickFix's reporting platform, giving users access to the site's 140,000 registered public officials…the Facebook app features game mechanics that will help encourage activity and interaction. The app will award Civic Points for completing certain tasks…SeeClickFix says that over 40% of the reports that have been submitted via the mobile apps and websites have been marked as resolved…”

2. Best Web browser? Google's Chrome outshines Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2011-04-09-web-browsers.htm No computer program is used as often as a Web browser…too many users never give the browser any thought, spending years with the default program installed on a once-new computer…We’ll help you out by taking a look at the top four browsers on the Web… Internet Explorer 9…Mozilla Firefox 4…Google Chrome 10…Apple Safari 5…Each browser has its own quirks and download-worthy features. For your default browser, there isn’t a better option than Chrome…picking a browser doesn’t mean you can’t have several at your disposal. If a Web site doesn’t load correctly in one, a switch to another will often fix the issue…”

3. The Long and Wireless Road to a Home Router http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/technology/personaltech/07basics.html Buying a home wireless router is about as chaotic and confusing a shopping experience as you will ever encounter…you’ll see boxes marked cryptically as G, N and N+. And then another bunch of codes like 150, 300 and 600 as well as some marked dual-band. There are boxes next to them with things called “Powerline.”…with wireless routers ranging from $35 to $160 and up, do we really need the best? What you are looking for is “good enough.”…Here are the questions that really need answering when you are considering buying a wireless router. DO I EVEN NEED ONE?...WHAT KIND SHOULD I BUY?...HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND?...WHAT SPEED DO I NEED?... DUAL OR SINGLE BAND?…”

4. VMware Takes Over EMC’s Mozy Cloud Storage Service http://gigaom.com/cloud/vmware-buys-mozy-cloud-storage-service-from-emc/ VMware is officially entering the service provider market by…taking over the operations of the Mozy cloud-based storage service from parent company EMC…VMware almost certainly made this purchase move with an eye toward the future of its own products and offerings…VMware probably will help out its service provider customers that want a white label backup service targeting consumers and SMBs, which is Mozy’s sweet spot. VMware did something very similar with the Zimbra collaboration tools it bought last year…being directly engaged in operating Mozy “will further ramp our own cloud-related learning and accelerate new IP, scale, and capabilities into the products that we provide to our customers and public cloud partners” and that “we also see the opportunity to leverage Mozy’s data compression, synchronization, client integration, and analytic tools to extend several existing and not-yet-announced VMware products.”…Whatever VMware learns from operating Mozy will not only improve that service, but also its own on-premise virtualization tools that will increasingly need to operate even more efficiently and at greater scale…”

5. Five faces of online identity http://evhead.com/2011/04/five-easy-pieces-of-online-identity.html Every Internet service that has a concept of users has to deal with identity…identity is an important concept. But I've always found it a confusing one. I think that's because it's ambiguous in most discussions what "identity" means. ..there are five different things people mean in different contexts when talking about identity and the Internet…1) Authentication…Question Answered: Do you have permission?...Offline Equivalent: Picture ID or keys, depending on method. ..2) Representation…Question Answered: Who are you?...Offline equivalent: Business card…3) Communication…Question Answered: How do I reach you?...Offline Equivalent: Phone number…4) Personalization…Question Answered: What do you prefer?...Offline Equivalent: Your coffee shop starting your drink when you walk in the door…5) Reputation…Question Answered: How do others regard you?...Offline Equivalent: Word of mouth/references, credit agencies…Online identity is still a messy problem with lots of opportunities…”

6. Bing & Yahoo Pass 30% Search Engine Market Share http://searchengineland.com/bing-yahoo-pass-30-search-engine-market-share-hitwise-says-72565 A strong month of March has propelled Bing-powered search past the 30% market share level for the first time since Bing began providing Yahoo with organic search results last August…Bing and Yahoo…now combine for 30.01% market share…Google continues to have more than twice their combined market share, but dropped a couple percentage points in March to 64.42%…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

7. Internet probe can track you down to within 690 metres http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20336-internet-probe-can-track-you-down-to-within-690-metres.html “…A new way of working out where you are by looking at your internet connection could pin down your current location to within a few hundred metres…Every computer connected to the web has an internet protocol (IP) address, but there is no simple way to map this to a physical location. The current best system can be out by as much as 35 kilometres…Yong Wang…and colleagues…have used businesses and universities as landmarks to achieve much higher accuracy. These organisations often host their websites on servers kept on their premises, meaning the servers' IP addresses are tied to their physical location. Wang's team used Google Maps to find both the web and physical addresses of such organisations, providing them with around 76,000 landmarks…The first stage measures the time it takes to send a data packet to the target…a common geolocation technique that narrows the target's possible location to a radius of around 200 kilometres…Wang and colleagues then send data packets to the known Google Maps landmark servers in this large area…researchers can compare how long a packet takes to reach each machine from the router…this time difference narrows the search down further…they repeat the landmark search at this more fine-grained level: comparing delay times once more, they establish which landmark server is closest to the target…On average their method gets to within 690 metres of the target and can be as close as 100 metres…That kind of accuracy normally requires people to deliberately disclose their location, but Wang's method works without the user's permission. "This is a client-independent method,"…You can avoid any geolocation method by routing traffic through a proxy server, which makes you appear to be elsewhere. Wang can't get around this, but says he can detect proxies and so he can at least return a null result …”

8. Dropbox: Insecure by Design? http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/224857/dropbox_insecure_by_design.html “…Dropbox is a poster boy for the nascent cloud storage field and is among the most popular cloud storage services. It works by adding a special folder to your computer's hard disk. Any files you add are automatically uploaded to Dropbox's cloud storage area, and you can install Dropbox on a variety of computers and mobile devices, thereby syncing files across all their devices…Security researcher Derek Newton has discovered that authentication relies on a single, unchanging hash code that identifies the computer--that is, a steam of hexadecimal characters. Anybody who uncovers this hash, which is stored as plain text on the user's hard disk, can sync a user's Dropbox files on any computer, without a username or password prompt appearing. The user will be unaware of this third-party access, unless they check online to see what computers are accessing their account…Dropbox has responded by pointing out that for the attack to work, a hacker would have to gain access to a user's computer. At that point "the security battle is already lost," they say, because the hacker would have access to every file on the computer…Simply access a user's computer when they're not around (maybe while they're grabbing a cup of coffee), steal their Dropbox hash code, and you'll be able to monitor or download what they're adding to and removing from their Dropbox account at any time…Although most of us change our online passwords after being hacked, how many realize that resetting Dropbox is also necessary?...Whether the flaw is anything to be worried about is a matter of opinion…The whole issue shows how cloud software developers often trade convenience for security--having users log in each time to their Dropbox account at each boot-up would make Dropbox significantly less appealing…”

9. Police Arrest Three Men Over 'SpyEye' Malware http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/224813/uk_police_arrest_three_men_over_spyeye_malware.html “…police arrested three men late last week in connection with using the SpyEye malware program to steal online banking details…the three were arrested by the Police Central e-Crime Unit "in connection with an international investigation into a group suspected of utilizing malware to infect personal computers and retrieve private banking details." The investigation began in January and revolved around the group's use of a uniquely modified variation of the SpyEye malware, which harvests personal banking details and sends the credentials to a remote server controlled by hackers…police wouldn't say if arrests were made in other countries as part of this operation…”

10. Bank Customers Warned After Breach at Epsilon Marketing Firm http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/224112/bank_customers_warned_after_breach_at_epsilon_marketing_firm.html JP Morgan Chase…are warning customers that their names and e-mail addresses may have fallen into the wrong hands after someone broke into computer systems at e-mail marketing giant Epsilon. Epsilon, whose customers also include Visa…Citibank…acknowledged…an incident was detected where a subset of Epsilon clients' customer data were exposed by an unauthorized entry into Epsilon's…system…The information that was obtained was limited to email addresses and/or customer names only."…As a result, it is possible you may receive some spam email messages…Epsilon sent 6.5 billion e-mail marketing messages in 2009…the company also runs loyalty programs for Citi and Chase credit card users, and the kind of information stored in its databases could be extremely valuable to criminals looking to steal banking information in phishing attacks…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

11. FCC proposes rules for cell phone signal boosters http://www.cnet.com/8301-17918_1-20051885-85.html “…the Federal Communications Commission used its regular meeting this week to propose tighter regulations for cell phone signal boosters…Rather than approving a request by the CTIA to ban the sale of signal boosters outright, the FCC…proposes guidelines for using boosters safely and effectively. "Our goal in this proceeding is to facilitate the development and deployment of well-designed signal boosters that do not interfere with wireless networks,"…Supporters claim signal boosters serve a vital public role by enhancing cell phone service in undeserved, indoor, and rural locations…carriers argue that boosters interfere with cell phone towers and networks and may result in more dropped calls for subscribers. Unlike the carrier-supplied femtocells, boosters like the Wilson Electronics Sleek and the Wi-Ex zBoost work across all carrier networks…”

12. Clorox Employees Choose Their Smartphone; 92% Pick iPhone http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/clorox_employees_choose_their_smartphone_92_pick_iphone/ When Ralph Loura became CIO…of Clorox, he began replacing the BlackBerry smartphones in use at the company with a smartphone of the employees choosing. So far…he has replaced 2,000 smartphones, and 1,840 of them (92%) were iPhones. Of the remaining 160, employees chose 120 Android devices (6%) and 40 Windows Phone 7 devices (2%)…The smartphone replacement choice was part of a broader project for Mr. Loura, who was faced with employees not happy with…Windows 2000 boxes on their desks and the BlackBerrys in their pockets. The executive replaced the PCs with new HP laptops and set about moving the company’s corporate data and information to the cloud, where it could accessed by smartphones…”

13. Entry level Android to increase tenfold in 2011 http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/04/07/entry-level-android-units-to-increase-up-to-tenfold-in-2011/ “…Digitimes shows some explosive estimates for $150 and cheaper, contract free Android phones…the paper says it expects to see 20-25 million entry level Android devices ship in 2011, up from 2.5-3 million in 2010. Global smartphone sales will hike 54.5% from 2010 to 445 million units in 2011, of which 165 million or 37.1% will be Android models…”

14. Android 2.3 upgrade list: Is your phone getting Gingerbread? http://blogs.computerworld.com/18077/android_23_upgrade_list “…Android 2.3 operating system -- better known as Android Gingerbread – is…starting to make its way to handsets…Android 2.3 provides faster speed, better battery life, and a refreshed user interface. It also introduces a new and improved keyboard with a more intelligent cut-and-paste system…Google is believed to be working on a follow-up release numbered Android 2.4…This list has everything there is to know about the Gingerbread upgrade, broken down by device… LG has confirmed that all of its Optimus One phones will receive the Android 2.3 upgrade at some point…This includes…the Optimus V on Virgin Mobile…”

Apps

15. Kiip Rewards When Players Hit Achievements http://www.insidemobileapps.com/2011/04/11/kiip-mobile-advertising-rewards/ “…Kiip announced its $4 million round of funding last week…The San Francisco based mobile advertising network gives gamers real-world rewards when they hit certain achievements in a game. Companies like group deals startup Homerun.com can offer free goods from local businesses while Sephora can give make-up samples to gamers when they level up. The company has rounded up other big brands like popchips, Sony Dash, Vitamin Water, 1-800-Flowers, Dr. Pepper, GNC, Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s. It’s a nice way to capitalize on the psychological boost a gamer gets when they unlock a new item or level up…”

16. Children’s apps & how to find good apps http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2011/04/the-world-of-childrens-apps-a-shake-up/ “…The current situation in app development from a consumer perspective is at the same time fantastic and a disaster…the ease of access Apple and Google have provided to the development tools and delivery platforms like App Stores mean that the diversity of developers and consequently the number of apps available for next to nothing is amazing. This has also meant that those investing a lot of money are still having to price their apps reasonably low to even begin to access a market…this also means that trying to find the apps that are of high…value and high quality design isn’t easy…Increasingly…parents…are willing to pay a bit more just to be supported in their app choices, and not have to spend hours researching online and sifting through the app store. “News and Noteworthy”, “What’s Hot” and the plethora of app review sites are not effectively helping parents make more efficient decisions about which apps to download. It isn’t a matter of cost, but of time…Over time, we are likely to see a shrinking of the number of players in the app market…if small developers get organized and start building their trade and alliances in the same way indie publishers and indie musicians have in their respective industries…these smallest developers who…become part of a wave of innovative developers with little money and little time, but lots of passion. There could be the potential for these smaller developers through a Moms With App type arrangement to establish a collective or establish some type of industry body that gave them greater capacity and the potential to grow…others may obtain a few licensing agreements and manage that fine line between creative control and earning a living. It is these developers who will be most interesting to watch. The nimble players with a bit of cash behind them…”

17. Xobni Co-Founder Returns With Postagram http://gigaom.com/2011/04/12/postagram/ “…the entrepreneur who co-founded the…email management company Xobni, has returned to the startup game with the launch today of his new company, Sincerely. Sincerely’s business is simple but ambitious: make it easy for users to make physical copies of photos taken on their mobile phones. Postagram, Sincerely’s first product, enables users to send postcards made from the photos they’ve taken with Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app for the iPhone. Postagram…allows users to turn their Instagram photos into pop-out postcards with short, 140-character messages. For 99 cents including postage, Postagram will print and mail the postcards anywhere in the world…Brezina is quick to emphasize that Postagram is just the first of many photo printing products Sincerely has in the works for various photo-sharing programs and mobile platforms. What I love about Postagram is that it makes it so easy to bring your photos back into the physical realm…For all the perks of digital photography, there’s still something special about having hard copies of certain pictures…”

18. RoomSaver.com Announces New Mobile Apps http://satellite.tmcnet.com/topics/satellite/articles/162131-roomsavercom-announces-new-mobile-apps-accommodate-needs-travelers.htm “…RoomSaver.com…recently introduced new apps for the Android operating system and Apple iPad. It has also announced an enhancement update to their existing iPhone application. The GPS-enabled mobile and tablet apps help travelers to quickly search, locate and access hotel coupons and deals. They are also allowed to share these deals with their friends via social media platforms and email…”

19. Mobile Apps - A Must for 2012 Political Campaigns http://axcessnews.com/index.php/articles/show/id/21541 “…Cami Zimmer works with political candidates, political consultants, political action committees, non-profit organizations, ad agencies and businesses to create powerful campaigns through the use of technology. She has worked at The White House in Washington, D.C. and has worked on public policy issues, managed campaigns, and ran non-profit organizations…Cami advises clients that a mobile app must be included in a social media communication strategy. As a political expert, she knows, “If you don’t go mobile, you may find it hard to reach your target audience.”…“A large part of a mobile strategy will really be about defining who your audience is and what your audiences’ experiences are…”

Open Source

20. Bitcoin gains an open source client http://www.i-programmer.info/news/136-open-source/2256-bitcoin-gains-an-open-source-client.html A Google engineer has released an open source Java client for Bitcoin, the peer-to-peer currency that may eventually revolutionize online transactions…the news that an engineer has developed BitCoinJ, a Java client that implements the simplified payment verification mode proposed by Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of Bitcoin, is welcome news. His affilaition with Google is an added advantage but BitcoinJ isn't an official Google project but one undertaken in the 20% of time Google allows its staff to spend on personal projects…The project aims to be easier to understand than the C++ implementation, and be suitable for usage on constrained devices such as mobile phones.”

21. 9 Best practices to secure your Linux Desktop & Server http://www.unixmen.com/linux-tutorials/1623-9-best-practices-to-secure-your-linux-desktop-and-server “…a few common security practices that every Linux user should follow…this post will show you how to secure your…server to the best of your abilities with the best available open source tools. 1- Checking your system for random mailers…2- Check your system using the root kit checker…3- Set up a root login detector and emailer…4- Set a SSH MOTD…5- Secure SSH Logins…6- Disable Telnet…7- Nuke PHP Shells…8- Install Brute Force Detection…9- Encrypt your data…”

22. BAVC Open Source Software class visits Google http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2011/03/bavc-open-source-software-class-visits.html The continuing mission of the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) is to inspire social change by enabling the sharing of diverse stories through art, education and technology. One of the ways they pursue this goal is by offering classes to youth, such as their Digital Pathways: Open Source class. This program offers intensive media training for young people who want to learn skills related to careers in technology and the media arts…the class was treated to lunch and a tour of Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA. During lunch, the students had a chance to sit down with members of the Open Source Programs Office and ask questions about working in open source…The students range in age from 13 to 19 years old and most had never coded in any language before they started…this class…”

SkyNet

23. Updates to Gmail Give You Better Control of Your Contacts http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/fixing-little-things.html “…every day, Gmail users share their "one thing" that would make Gmail better for them through our suggestions page…Recently, we've rolled out several small tweaks to Gmail…Here’s a rundown: Auto-save contacts setting…Better warnings for typos in email addresses…Fewer annoying error pop-ups…Easier transitions between certain actions…Keyboard shortcut guide for everyone…Refresh button…”

24. Google speech-recognition technology actually works http://www.slate.com/id/2290516 If you've got an Android phone, try this: Hit the microphone icon on the home screen, then ask, "How many angstroms in a mile?" Use your normal speaking voice—don't speak slowly or strain to over-pronounce "angstrom." So long as you have a good Internet connection, the phone shouldn't take more than a second to recognize your question and shoot back a reply: 1.609344 × 1013…Say "what's 10 times 10 divided by 5 billion" and the phone will do math for you. Say "directions to McDonald's" or read out an address—even a vague one like "33rd and Sixth, NYC"—and Android will pull up a map showing where you want to go…if that's not enough, Android lets you dictate your e-mail and text messages…If you've tried speech-recognition software in the past, you may be skeptical…Google's system, on the other hand, offloads its processing to…Google's data centers…How does Android's speech system work so well? The magic of data…Google's artificial intelligence programs…get their power by analyzing impossibly huge troves of information. For the speech system, the data are a large number of voice recordings…To most people the a sound in the words map, tap, and cat seems identical…To create the M sound in map, you bring your lips together, forming a long closed tube in your vocal tract. This affects the a sound that follows—since your throat is transitioning from the low-frequency m sound, the first 10 to 30 milliseconds of the a in map includes many low-frequency notes that aren't found in the early part of the a in tap. Now imagine how many such nuances there are for all the different words and combinations of words in every different language…Google's speech recognition program comprises many billions of pieces of text and audio…Speech recognition is still a very young field. "We don't do well enough at anything right now," Cohen says. He notes that the system keeps getting better—and more and more people keep using Android's voice search—but we're still many years (and maybe even decades) away from what Cohen says is Google's long-term vision for speech-recognition. "We want it to be totally ubiquitous…”

25. Pagination comes to Google Docs http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2011/04/pagination-comes-to-google-docs.html “…one year ago, we launched a new version of the Google document editor, created from the ground up…we baked in a way of supporting text features that aren’t natively included with browsers—for example, we added a ruler for controlling the margins, text that wraps around images to create eye-catching docs and discussions for a more collaborative editing experience…we’re doing another first for web browsers by adding a classic word processing feature—pagination, the ability to see visual pages on your screen…Pagination adds visual page breaks while you’re editing your documents, so now you can see how many pages of that report you’ve actually finished…you can hide page breaks by selecting the “Compact” document view from the “View” menu…We’ve worked closely with the Chrome team to implement a recent web standard so we can support a feature called native printing. Before, if you wanted to print your document we’d need to first convert it into a PDF, which you would then need to open and print yourself. With native printing, you can print directly from your browser and the printed document will always exactly match what you see on your screen. For now, native printing is only available in Google Chrome…”

26. Google Chrome browser to guard against malicious downloads http://arstechnica.com/security/news/2011/04/chrome-to-guard-against-malicious-downloads.ars Google already warns users of its search engine if the page they're about to click on is likely to be malware. The company also has an API, the Safe Browsing API, to allow Web browsers to check if a URL is bad or not…Google has just announced that it's going to take this protection even further in its Chrome browser and apply it to executable downloads. Click a link that downloads a program Google's Safe Browsing API regards as hostile and you'll see a warning, along with an option to cancel the download…”

27. Government lets Google buy travel software company http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i7hXGBBrYiQfhvlcuSjbshAVZHMA Government officials are imposing significant conditions on Google Inc. as they allowed the Internet search leader on Friday to proceed with its $700 million purchase of airline fare tracker ITA Software. The purchase will establish the Internet search giant as a key player in online travel. ITA gives Google control over the technology that powers the reservation systems of most major U.S. airlines and many popular online fare-comparison services, including Kayak, TripAdvisor and Hotwire…Google agreed to license ITA's software to other companies on fair and reasonable terms through 2016, and to continue to invest in research and development of new products, which it would also have to license. Google previously promised only to honor all of ITA's current contracts, which expire over the next few years. ITA officials had worried that Google would keep its innovations for itself. Under the terms of the approval, any disputes would be subject to binding arbitration. Google also agreed to establish a separation between ITA and other Google operations to ensure that it cannot misuse proprietary customer data or technology that resides on or runs through ITA servers…”

28. Google begins tablet version of Chrome OS http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20051228-264.html “…Google's…programmers have begun building a tablet version of Chrome OS, its browser-based operating system…the company said…We expect to see different partners build different kinds of devices based on Chrome OS, but for this initial release we are targeting the notebook form factor...A tablet version of Chrome OS, though, raises a big question about Google's strategy, because the company's tablet version of the Android operating system, Honeycomb, is just now arriving on the market with Motorola's Xoom and other products designed to compete with the leader of the tablet market, Apple's iPad…So with Android and Chrome OS tablet software under development, what's Google's top tablet priority?...the answer today is Android. It's at the forefront of Google's mobile strategy and is a commercial success, at least in phones. Tens of thousands of Android applications are available…Chrome OS, by comparison, is immature and conceptually a greater leap from prevailing software development patterns…Google can let both tablet projects duke it out internally and in the market…It's not a simple matter of some internal Darwinian process within Google to let the be best product survive, though. That's because there are external parties involved: hardware partners, developers, retailers, and customers. Each of these groups must be won over, persuaded that the new ecosystem is worth their investment of time and money…”

29. Google buys PushLife http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/08/google-buys-mobile-entertainment-platform-pushlife/ “…Google has acquired Toronto-based mobile entertainment startup PushLife for close to $25 million dollars, Startup North is reporting. The company…enabled you to port your iTunes and Windows Media player libraries to non-Apple phones like Android and Blackberry…Founded in 2008 by former RIM employee Ray Reddy, PushLife let you manage wallpapers, music, videos, ringtones and other media on your cell phone…The grab is particularly interesting in light of reports that Google might be launching its own music service soon…”

30. YouTube is going LIVE http://youtube-global.blogspot.com/2011/04/youtube-is-going-live.html “…we're announcing the initial roll out of YouTube Live, which will integrate live streaming capabilities and discovery tools directly into the YouTube platform for the first time. This begins with a new YouTube Live browse page (www.youtube.com/live)...we'll also start gradually rolling out our live streaming beta platform, which will allow certain YouTube partners with accounts in good standing to stream live content on YouTube. The goal is to provide thousands of partners with the capability to live stream from their channels…to ensure a great live stream viewing experience, we'll roll this offering out incrementally over time. Partners interested in learning more about the livestream experience can check out today's post on the Partner Communications Hub…”

General Technology

31. Boy Scouts Add Robotics http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=135228346 “…Boy Scouts of America, which offers more than 120 badges ranging from archery to wilderness survival, next week will unveil a robotics merit badge meant to promote science, technology, engineering and math, fields collectively known as STEM…Badges have been dropped over the years — blacksmithing and beekeeping for example — and replaced with new versions more in line with skills boys need to succeed…"Last century, camping was an essential survival skill. Sometimes, you might have had to live outside in the 1900s to survive. We view STEM as an essential survival skill in the 21st century,"…Officials expect at least 10,000 of the nation's 2.7 million Boy Scouts to earn the new badge in the next year, compared with the roughly 500,000 who earn the most popular badge — first aid — each year. Those earning the badge will be required to design and build a robot while learning about robot movement, sensors and programming. The Boy Scouts have added four new badges in the last five years; the most recent was the Inventing badge introduced last June…”

32. Why Lithium Has Become Our Preferred Battery of Choice http://gigaom.com/cleantech/why-lithium-has-become-our-preferred-battery-of-choice/ “…questions on why lithium has become the preferred choice, and what comes after lithium?...you decide that the best battery in the world has to be one with a lithium anode and a fluorine cathode. The voltage is almost 6 V. You are excited, but also concerned that water breaks down at 1.2 V. You are also pretty sure that water and lithium should not be mixed…Your amputated finger on your right arm is evidence of your past attempts at working with fluorine and you have a new appreciation for the miracle of the opposable thumb…The history of the development of the lithium-ion battery is the quest for the development of a high voltage battery. And the higher the voltage, the higher the energy. An easy way to design a battery is to go to the table of standard potentials, pick something that wants to oxidize, and pair it with something that wants to reduce. Lithium is pretty much at one end of that series, making it an ideal anode…even after many decades of research there is still no rechargeable lithium-metal based batteries. We have primary batteries with lithium metal (your watch battery, for example), but no commercially available rechargeable one (yet)…one could insert the lithium into a cage, with graphite being a very good cage…on the cathode side…materials like cobalt oxide were able to insert lithium…Like the graphite anode, cobalt oxide allows us to make a workable cathode. Cobalt oxide, like graphite, is a cage that has weight and volume, but working with it is much more practical than working with lithium and fluorine. Thus was born the modern lithium-ion battery…The voltage is much lower than our hypothetical chemist’s dream (3.7 V instead of 6 V). And it has these two cages that make the weight and volume of the battery go up…We have to either find a way to increase the voltage, or find a way to increase the capacity. In lithium ion batteries this means that we are constantly searching for anodes and cathodes that hold more lithium for less weight and volume of the cage…Today we use cathodes that operate at ~3.8 V with a capacity of ~180 mAh/g…we could conceivably increase the voltage by 10 to 15 percent and the capacity by 50 percent. The choices on the anode side are a bit more limiting. We have one material that has a lot more capacity than graphite (10 times more), but it decreases the voltage of the battery…increasing the capacity of the anode by 10 times does not increase the energy of the battery that much…”

DHMN Technology

33. Augmented Reality Comes Closer to Reality http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/augmented-reality-comes-closer-to-reality/ “…Vernor Vinge’s classic 1981 novella “True Names” described the impact of the Net long before most people had personal computers, let alone an Internet connection…In his 2006 “Rainbows End,” he sketched a compelling description of the societal impact of augmented reality in which technology evolves to the point where high-resolution displays are integrated into contact lens worn by just about everyone. Combined with powerful lilliputian computers and broadband wireless networks, it becomes possible to customize visual reality by displaying a personalized world by transforming what the wearer is gazing at…when Michael Lynch, Autonomy founder and chief executive…demonstrated “Aurasma” on an iPhone…I gained a clear sense of how life might end up imitating science fiction…Autonomy embeds moving imagery within the world itself, transforming what you see in a way that’s visually convincing. Aurasma…is based on the company’s IDOL pattern recognizer…it then uses the iPhone’s computing power to correctly “insert” a video image into the scene on the screen of the handset or tablet, complete with convincing 3D accuracy…The best part of the demo came when Mr. Lynch held an iPad up to a copy of a recent New York Times. For everyone who has seen Harry Potter and his magic newspaper, the implications are obvious…Autonomy plans to make Aurasma available as a free application on smartphones next month…Mr. Lynch is obviously hoping that he has an answer to the…question: “What comes after Google?”…Autonomy intends to offer a free software module that will allow anyone to build their own application…Mr. Lynch acknowledged that challenging Google, which now has a dominant position in search and a keen interest in augmented reality, is obviously not without risk…”

34. NFC Task Launcher expands potential uses of Android tag reading applications http://www.nearfieldcommunicationsworld.com/2011/03/30/36757/nfc-task-launcher-android-tag-application “…Joshua Krohn has built an Android app that enables multiple instructions to be stored in an NFC tag and then automatically executed on the handset when the tag is read. "Instead of only having the options to do things like launch a URL, call a number, open a map to a location or launch a single application, users can now create tags that perform a larger number of actions and can accomplish tasks that are currently not available in these types of applications like interacting with the hardware of the device or changing aspects of the configuration," Krohn told NFC World. "You could have a tag that enables Wi-Fi, configures your wireless network and then connects — so visitors would never have to enter your security key to use your wireless connection. They would not need to have an open network, they would only need to scan the tag…Krohn has used the app to program a number of tags so that they can be used to switch his phone into the correct mode for particular locations; one for his car, one for his office and one for his laptop…In Krohn's car…touching the phone to the tag on the dashboard tells the handset to enable Bluetooth, disable Wi-Fi, set the media volume to maximum and launch the Car Home app. The office tag, meanwhile, enables Wi-Fi, disables Bluetooth, and configures and connects to Krohn's secure network. And, on his laptop, a tag configures wireless tethering with his choice of access point name and security key and then initiates the tethering…"It also allows multiple users to use the same tag to perform the same tasks — it's not tied to any account or service. So, one tag in a public locations could perform the same task for many users…”

35. Augmented Reality Interface Exploits Human Nervous System http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/26624/ “…as augmented reality (AR) inches ever closer to prime time…an issue that could be distracting and even dangerous: Clutter in…our visual field…solution is…straightforward…display objects that demand attention in the user's peripheral vision as simple icons that can be processed even by the limited visual acuity of our peripheral vision. If a user wants more information, for example to read an email represented in the peripheral vision by an icon, simply concentrating on the object brings up a higher-resolution instance of it with as much attached information as necessary…By adding an eye-tracking system, their AR interface allows interaction to be driven entirely by gaze direction. This allows an AR interface that keeps information in peripheral vision, in a simplified form that can be processed by the brain. It's a bit like existing application-switching interfaces: a single source of information (or none at all) can be front and center, while other running applications are represented by icons that only come to the fore when directed…an object that has come into view…An icon appears in the user's peripheral vision (a) indicating that more information is available about this object…As soon as the user directs their attention to the icon…a more detailed read-out becomes available…”

36. 10-yr old daughter programming Arduino http://www.cjibo.com/blog/2011/4/2/geek-daddy-is-proud.html “…my daughter got her hands on her first Arduino. We have done Lego Mindstorms in the past and programmed in a couple different programming languages…We started a project for my work office to create “On Call” lights so that people will know when someone is on the phone...I decided to let my daughter program the micro-controllers for the project. In less then 2 hours she had completed her code…I had only to point my daughter to where the documentation for Arduino was and she was off to the races. She even got over some compile errors without dad jumping in…I will fuel this fire as long as I can, but how kewl is it to have a 10 year old daughter that is now programming and controlling micro computers. She is going to have a hard time sleeping as she has already started to think of more projects she could do…”

Leisure & Entertainment

37. Nintendo 3DS, The Next Step In Portable Gaming Evolution http://www.crunchgear.com/2011/03/26/review-the-nintendo-3ds-the-next-step-in-portable-gaming-evolution/ Nintendo has long defined the rules of childhood. In Nintendo’s world, logic and whimsy are intermixed and there is always a bigger boss and another castle. We learned from Nintendo that you can always turn your enemy’s weapons against them and that evolution is a fact…Nintendo also defined video gameplay…The Nintendo 3DS is…a cute little handheld aimed at…tweens and, more important, early adopters in the 18-36 market…The 3DS costs $250 in the United States and…comes with a 2GB SD card, AR gaming cards, a stylus, a charging dock, and a power cable. It is available in black…IGN believes that the device is running two 266MHz ARM11 CPUs and a 133MHz GPU. It’s powerful enough to drive Nintendo-style graphics on the special screen, a deceptively demanding task as there are in fact twice as many pixels to render as it “looks” like…The two most interesting features, however, are the two front cameras and the 3D screen…I’ve tried to offer a through overview of the 3DS in this review in an attempt to explain why the console could become one of the most interesting developments out of any electronics company in this decade. Like it or not, the 3DS normalizes 3D gaming…The 3DS is an entirely new way to think about portable gaming and I believe it will change our perception of the value of 3D content…Imagine the 3DS as an initial step to a holographic future…”

38. The Improbable Rise of Minecraft http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_16/b4224032575898.htm When Markus Persson was a teenager, a teacher asked him to think about his future. He responded with a jokey list "of things I wanted to accomplish before I was 30," he says. "The last couple of items were, 'Work as a game developer' and 'Become a millionaire.'" He's a year late, but he can now put check marks alongside both. Persson, 31, is the lone developer behind Minecraft, a no-frills video game that has sold more than 1.75 million copies…hasn't spent a dime on marketing…The only place to buy Minecraft is on Persson's website, where it goes for €15 ($21)…The goal, as much as there is one, is to avoid being eaten by monsters that come out after dark. But all the fun lies in building elaborate edifices to protect against those bumps in the night. Players use square blocks of materials like dirt, gravel, and clay to construct caves, towers, and fortresses. It's like playing with digital Legos…Persson coded Minecraft on a lark in 2009, looking for a side project when he came home from working his day job at King.com, a gaming site. By the end of January he was selling about 7,000 copies on an average day. "Once it got up to 15 copies a day, that was enough for me to have a salary. After that it's been like imaginary numbers," Persson says…In late 2010, Persson founded a new gaming company in Stockholm called Mojang ("gadget" in Swedish). He and seven employees split their time between continuing development of Minecraft and working on a new video game, Scrolls, which Persson says will be a mix between the classic board game Risk and the fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering…” http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/04/minecraft-to-exit-beta-november-11-with-32-million-in-revenues.ars “…Minecraft is set to shed its beta cocoon on November 11 of this year…a back-of-the-envelope calculation from a Reddit question-and-answer session revealed that the game has generated about $32 million in revenue since its release, with copies selling first for $14, and later for $21…”

39. Amazon introduces cheaper Kindle with adverts http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/amazon/8445279/Amazon-introduces-cheaper-Kindle-with-adverts.html “…Amazon introduced a discounted version of its Kindle electronic reader that features adverts yesterday…in the US from May 3 for $114, $25 less than the current lowest-priced model…users will have…sponsored screensavers and adverts on the home page…become part of their reading experience…"We're working hard to make sure that anyone who wants a Kindle can afford one," said Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and chief executive…Special offers will be sent directly to the new Kindle and will focus on getting users to spend more money on the Amazon website…Analysts believe that the e-reader market will really take-off when the devices are made available for less than $100.”

40. Robotic Musicians Push Boundaries of What Machines and Instruments Can Do http://singularityhub.com/2011/04/06/robotic-musicians-push-boundaries-of-what-machines-and-instruments-can-do-video/ “…upcoming musicians don’t have soul. Or heart. Or even blood. That’s because these cutting edge instrumentalists are robots. Expressive Machines Musical Instruments (EMMI) is an organization geared towards automated acoustic performance…Some of EMMI’s performances are robot-only, while others use human-generated feedback to direct their sounds…EMMI is actively exploring how robots expand the kinds of music we can produce…Kemper, Barton, and Rogers are all music PhD students at the University of Virginia, and as such don’t have a ton of funding for their EMMI project. To raise money to create new instruments, they paired up with experimental musicians EARduo and went on Kickstarter. The following video is their pitch for a Monochord-Aerophone Robotic Instrument Ensemble (MARIE) which includes a robotic re-imagining of the clarinet. The Kickstarter project for MARIE already closed (it was a success!) but the video gives a great overview of EMMI…There are three main instruments in the EMMI stable: PAM or Poly-tangent Automatic (multi-)Monochord, a stringed device that can shred like an electric guitar; MADI or Multi-mallet Automatic Drumming Instrument, which is basically a snare drum attached to a million different robotic arms that can strike it; and CADI or Configurable Automatic Drumming Instrument, a group of various percussion instruments with robotic strikers…One of Steven Kemper’s other projects is RAKS, Remote electroAcoustic Kinesthetic Sensing. Using a series of wearable kinetic sensors, a human can move their body to alter the general tone or sounds of a robotic ensemble…There are many artists exploring the robot-music interface, and each has their own niche…EMMI seems to be about pushing the boundaries of what music we can make when we extend ourselves through robotic instruments. When I see PAM shredding, or MADI pounding a beat it would take humans on several instruments to replicate, I envision a new generation of robotic-acoustic devices whose very nature includes mechanical performers. Just as portable synthesizers changed the realm of what was possible in the 70s, these robot instruments could open up whole new fields of music in the 21st century…”

41. Why Did DISH Buy Blockbuster Assets For $228M http://gigaom.com/video/dish-blockbuster-acquisition/ “…The deal includes Dish paying about $320 million for Blockbuster’s assets, with about $228 million of that in cash…Dish appears ready to try to keep Blockbuster afloat and use its brand and physical locations for cross-sale opportunities, among other things…With so many locations throughout the U.S., Dish could use free or discounted Blockbuster rentals as a value-add to its pay TV subscribers. It could leverage the movie chain’s physical presence and brand in marketing efforts aimed at Blockbuster customers. But the more interesting opportunities could lie online: Blockbuster also holds streaming rights to a number of video titles that Dish could use to expand its own streaming offerings…”

Economy and Technology

42. An inside look at 23 startups from Dave McClure’s Demo Days http://www.geekwire.com/2011/demo-days “…I believe passion is the critical differentiator between really good, and great, teams. And…passion is what separates the Bay Area from all other pale imitations to the undisputed startup mecca. I spent the last two days at the 500 Startups Demo Days, where a wide-range of startup companies gave 5-minute presentations describing their mission, progress, funding needs and objectives…I was blown away with the quality of the companies, and more important, the energy, intelligence and focus of the teams. Dave McClure’s 500 Startups…provide early-stage companies with funding ranging from $10,000 to $250,000 via seed investments through their startup accelerator program…Demo Days gave a group of their first 100 or so startups…invested in just the last 12 months…a chance to shine…within the first few presentations, I started spending less time looking at my laptop, and more time tuned in to the presentations…Below, I rank all of the Startups… Best of Show: Visual.ly…Baydin…AwayFind…InternMatch…YongoPal…955Dreams…SayGent…ReadyForZero…SpeakerGram…evozMonitor…MotionMath…MYGENGO…”

43. SEC opens the gates to crowdfunding? http://rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2011/04/sec-opens-the-gates-to-crowdfunding-and-a-new-structure-of-capitalism.html “…Many have focused on the potential from the current SEC review to relax limits on shareholders for private companies, notably the rule that if a private company has 500 investors or more it has to disclose its finances…Few seem to have focused on what I think is potentially a bigger issue from the SEC moves: opening up crowdfunding as a mechanism for equity investment…Federal securities regulators are weighing demands to make it easier for fast-growing companies to use social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to raise money by tapping thousands of investors for very small amounts of shares…The use of “crowd-funding” techniques has spread in recent years from artists looking to fund creative works to entrepreneurs trying to expand their firms…Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Sellaband and so on allow people to put money into worthy ventures, but they cannot get an equity stake for their contribution. It may be possible before long to get equity for putting money into a creative or other small venture…The emergence over the last few years of new entities and funding mechanisms for seed and pre-venture capital startups could prove to be just the beginning of the emergence of a new structure for capital markets for small companies and new ventures…the potential is for new and more open structures to create far better use of capital than we have today. A more fluid form capitalism could transform business and how individuals create value…”

44. Microsoft Launches “Bing Business Portal” For SMBs http://searchengineland.com/in-challenge-to-google-places-microsoft-launches-bing-business-portal-for-smbs-72452 “…Microsoft is launching the “Bing Business Portal” (BBP)…The BBP allows local business owners or their agents or designated representatives to claim and enhance listings with additional content…Business owners can also add links to Facebook and Twitter…Mobile website creation and the ability to generate deals and offers are standout features of the new BBP…”

45. 7 Keys to Startup Success http://blog.softlayer.com/2011/7-keys-to-startup-success/ We recently announced a partnership with the Tech Wildcatters Incubator Program, a Dallas-based “microseed” fund and startup accelerator, and we couldn’t be happier with the results we’ve seen thus far. Much of the press coverage of the sponsorship focused on the $1,000/mo of cloud, dedicated or hybrid hosting solutions we offered the program’s startup companies, but the most exciting aspect of the relationship thus far has been getting to engage with the participating up-and-coming entrepreneurs…our investment in this community reinvigorates the startup culture we’ve tried to maintain as the company has grown…There are no “guaranteed win” formulas or “super-secret secrets to success” in business…but these ideas may help you position your business for success: 1. Hire people smarter than you…2. Hire a diverse group…3. Founders should put skin in the game…4. Boot-strap the beginning…5. Operate with financial sense, operational sense and common sense…6. CBNO – Challenging But Not Overwhelming…7. Have fun and make money…”

Civilian Aerospace

46. Virgin Galactic Hiring SpaceShip Pilots http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/awst/2011/04/11/AW_04_11_2011_p34-307262.xml&headline=Virgin%20Galactic%20Hiring%20SpaceShip%20Pilots&channel=awst Virgin Galactic is looking for a few good pilots…to fly paying customers to the edge of space and back in its SpaceShipTwo rocketplane…The pilot selected—plus two more to be hired later—must be able to handle both the air-launched SpaceShipTwo and its multi-engine WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft. A deft touch with the passengers will be a big plus as well, since they’ll be in the same cabin as the flight crew…MacKay has yet to take controls of the SpaceShipTwo as it moves from drop tests to powered flight. That job continues to be handled by Peter Siebold and Mark Stucky, the test pilots at Scaled Composites who are breaking in their company’s new spacecraft. But MacKay is logging valuable time in Scaled’s SpaceShip simulator…A former Royal Air Force test pilot, MacKay has logged more than 12,000 hr. at the controls of more than 100 different aircraft types. After 16 years of military service, he joined Virgin Atlantic in 1995 and became a Boeing 747 captain before moving to the Airbus A340 in 2002…“What we want to do in this campaign is identify three candidates,” MacKay says. “That’s our minimum. We’re looking at getting one person aboard ’round about June or as soon after June as we can manage it; then as the schedule demands, maybe taking on another couple from those initial candidates…”

47. Roscoe company is ready to head to Mars http://www.wrex.com/Global/story.asp?S=14414204 A Rockford area company gets ready to head into space, again! Forest City Gear already supplied parts to two mars rovers and now it's about to send up some in a third…Frederic Young believes that the success of the rovers Spirit and Opportunity brought NASA's supplier back to them again for parts. Instead of lasting the planned 90 days, the probes have been going for 7 years…The company will have between 60 and 70 gears on the newest rover, Curiosity. It will be about the size of a small SUV. "There are a whole bunch of gears that we use in the actuator arms on all the instruments. There are a number of different scientific instruments and then we have all the gears on all the wheel drives as well…Forest City Gear also makes parts for the medical, industrial and defense industries, but space travel earned the company a lot of attention…”

48. If You Can’t Name That Star, Try Asking Your Telescope http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/business/10novel.html “…New point-and-shoot telescopes…require only the push of a button to go into action…the device gets its own bearings, aligning itself with the stars above so it can tell you that the twinkling light in the eyepiece is Betelgeuse…“I think the telescope that sets itself up, so anyone can easily use it, is great,” said Jay Pasachoff, chairman of the astronomy department and director of the Hopkins Observatory at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. “This kind of telescope makes it possible for people to be out in their backyards and look at the most interesting astronomical objects within minutes.”…Amateur stargazers are also finding a wealth of data via low-cost technology like smartphone apps. Smartphones, with their cameras and abundant processing power, offer novel features that telescopes cannot…Smartphone apps and accessories for stargazing are so popular that they will have a separate block of vendors at the Northeast Astronomy Forum and Telescope Show…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

49. High-performance computing on gamer PCs, Part 2: the software choices http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/04/high-performance-computing-on-gamer-pcs-part-2-the-software-choices.ars “…the HPU4Science scientific computation cluster. The cluster is built in a master-worker configuration in which the master dispatches jobs to the workers, compiles and processes the results, and handles data storage. The master is equipped with a dual Intel XEON processor, a four-SSD RAID array for short-term storage, and an array of five 2TB hard drives for archival storage. The networking is a simple Gigabit Ethernet…a cluster of this scale requires careful software selection to maximize the performance of the hardware…Linux is the current standard bearer for high performance computing operating systems, with almost 92 percent of the top 500 supercomputers…The key features of Linux are stability, the ability to pick from a wide variety of file systems…the large existing code base for high performance computing, and the ease of tailoring the OS to the specific hardware requirements…The master and all workers run Ubuntu server edition, installed with the minimal OpenSSH server profile…data management is one of the largest problems in a cluster of this scale. With 16 GPUs tearing through computations, an average of tens of megabytes of data are transferred throughout the cluster every second. Peak data transfer rates are closer to gigabytes per second, and it is essential that managing and storing all of this data keeps up with the processors…BTRFS…allows software RAID with performance on par with hardware RAID. If it can perform as well as hardware RAID, software RAID is ideal because it can be more easily tailored to the specific system requirements and offers substantially more flexibility…because of the large amount of data that needs to be stored, the risk of data corruption is high, and BTRFS's checksum algorithm ensures data reliability…Given the choice of a highly parallelized GPU based cluster, there are very few choices for programming languages. The freely available libraries from NVIDIA for interfacing with the GPUs (CUDA) are written in C. CUDA, relative to previous general-purpose GPU computation approaches, enables easier GPU processing by abstracting away most of the interaction between the software and the hardware…The primary negatives of CUDA are that it does not allow recursive functions, and that it is a closed architecture owned by NVIDIA…Because CUDA is written in C, the most straightforward programming language to use with the libraries is, obviously, also C. However, there is also a Python wrapping for these libraries called PyCUDA that seeks to map Numpy functions to the GPU. Regarding programming languages, HPU4Science cluster architect and administrator Yann Le Du said…Python impresses me. It's the perfect choice for someone who wants to write nice, compact code, yet be able to explore wildly beforehand and make good use of specialized libraries…Donald Knuth, master of us all, has long advocated literate programming as the way forward for technical programming, but these ideas have been superbly ignored by the large majority of people who code…The core concept behind literate programming is to describe what you want to do and code it all at the same time, making sure that humans can understand what you're doing, not just machines…Building a high-performance computing cluster is more than just careful hardware selection. The details of the software, including operating system, file system, and programming languages, all affect the system performance. The HPU4Science cluster uses Linux for its versatility and BTRFS for its software RAID capability. The programming languages of choice for the computations are C and Python, and simple modifications to the Python code allow it to run at speeds similar to C. Most of the programming for the cluster is done in the Literate Programming paradigm to maximize comprehension and peer review of the code…”

50. Where’s the Parallel Beef? http://www.linux-mag.com/id/8577/ “…“Where are the parallel programming tools?” This question has become fundamentally important to the future of computing…in order to sell hardware you need software and to create software you need tools. Every processor has a development platform of some sort. If your market is small, you may have to supply the environment, which might look like a machine code assembler, a C compiler, and a debugger…if you sell into a large hardware market, you will…have…many software vendors that supply various software tools for your hardware. In the x86 world for example, there are too many languages and vendors to list…The HPC story has always been a bit different. Back in the day, when you purchased an “integrated” supercomputer (e.g. Cray, Convex) there was a set of sophisticated software tools and compilers that aided software development…When parallel computers and eventually clusters entered the scene, the three key development tools were, a compiler (Fortran or C), MPI, and if you were lucky a parallel debugger…The change from expensive integrated system to a multi-sourced cluster created a drastic reduction in price, often a factor of 10 or more, but pretty much removed any incentive for commercial parallel programming tools from the component vendors or integrators…Many of the top scientific applications have been ported to some form of parallel computer (MPI, multi-core, GP-GPU). The HPC sector is growing and now the rest of the market is going parallel in a big way. So, “where’s the parallel HPC tools?”…I attribute the dearth of tools to three issues. The first is lack of economic incentive (i.e. the market is too small and the grad students are cheap). The second is more subtle. In order to sell programming tools you need hard ROI numbers. A good compiler, debugger, or profiler can show a pretty quick return because they work in virtually all cases. Automatic parallelization tools or languages usually work on some cases, but are not as universal and can be a tough sell. And finally, parallel programming is a really hard problem…”

51. Amazon Makes Cloud-Based Clusters Even Cheaper http://gigaom.com/cloud/amazon-marries-spot-pricing-with-hpc-instances/ “…Spot Instances are Amazon EC2 instances priced below face value depending on how much demand AWS has for spare capacity…Amazon’s Jeff Barr explains…in his blog post on the new pairing, citing the example of Scribd used thousands of Spot Instances to build a grid for a single job. Not only did it save the capital expense of buying all that gear, but it also saved 63 percent, or $10,500, off the face value of EC2 instances. Running these same jobs on Cluster Compute Instances would save time because of the high-end processors and low-latency network, and also would let AWS users run larger jobs, more latency-sensitive jobs in the same amount of time while still reaping the rewards of lower Spot Instance rates. AWS sweetened the Cluster Compute product even further in November with the option of GPU Instances running Nvidia’s Tesla M2050 graphical-processing units. It’s quite literally like having a supercomputer available on demand. Using intelligent scheduling and workload management products, AWS customers could automate the process of running jobs using Spot Instances when the price aligns with the priority of a given workload…”


*****

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