NEW NET Weekly List for 19 Apr 2011

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 19 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. Lots of interesting tech news in the past week or so.

The ‘net

1. Microsoft Office 365 enters public beta http://news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-20054852-75.html Microsoft has opened the tap on its cloud-based Office 365 and is now offering the service as a public beta for anyone to try out….After the public beta, Office 365 will officially launch later this year…Office 365 is Microsoft's attempt to offer businesses a cloud-based alternative to some of its traditional desktop and server products. The service combines Office Web Apps with hosted versions of Exchange and SharePoint as well as Microsoft's Lync product, which provides the online communication and collaboration piece…Once it officially launches, Office 365 will be offered as two different plans depending on the size of the company. Smaller businesses with 25 or fewer employees can pay $6 per person per month to receive Office Web Apps and the hosted versions of Exchange and SharePoint. Larger enterprises will have…a cost of …$10 to $27 per person per month…” http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/04/18/businessinsider-microsofts-latest-answer-to-google-apps-is-open-for-testing-2011-4.DTL “…Office, email, and other business software make up Microsoft's second biggest and most important business, after Windows. In the last year, Microsoft has earned $13.3 billion on $20.7 billion in sales from that division. Although Office 2010 is selling well, Google Apps is providing some competition -- one recent study showed that nearly 20% of U.S. companies have deployed Apps in some form…” http://telecommunicationnews.net/2011/04/14/jajah-adds-voice-calling-to-microsoft-lync-online-microsofts-cloud-based-next-generation-communications-and-collaboration-service/ JAJAH…will add voice calling to Microsoft Lync Online, Microsoft’s cloud-based next-generation communications and collaboration service when the product launches later this year…Telefónica, which owns JAJAH, will market the joint Microsoft-JAJAH service to its millions of business customers around the world. Microsoft selected JAJAH to provide Lync Online users the ability to call landlines and mobile phones and the ability to receive calls and route them to any device — landline, mobile or computer — without requiring a new telephone number…“Once JAJAH became part of Telefónica we saw the combination of powerful platform with global scale and infrastructure, which made JAJAH the obvious choice for a project of this magnitude,” said Gurdeep Singh Pall, CVP Lync Product Development…” http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/225378/office_365_isnt_mobile_enough.html “…the tools and services in Office 365 are not tied to a single PC or device, and data can be accessed from or synced among a desktop PC, the Web, and your smartphone--assuming you have a Windows Phone 7 smartphone. Microsoft may be trying to create a value proposition to drive adoption of Windows Phone 7 by ensuring it has a uniquely integrated experience for mobile business productivity. But…Microsoft is missing a prime opportunity to firmly establish Office 365 as the de facto mobile productivity suite, just as Microsoft Office is the dominant productivity suite for PCs…Microsoft needs to…create Office Mobile 2010 for other mobile platforms…on an iPhone 4…the browser you are using may not render Office 365 pages properly, and as a result some features may not function properly…The iPad appears not to have the limitations that the iPhone does. Working with Office 365 from the Apple tablet was no different than working with Office 365 from Internet Explorer 9 on Windows 7. So, at least in that respect Office 365 seems to be functional on mobile device other than Windows Phone 7…using a Web interface on a mobile device--especially a smartphone--is simply nowhere near as smooth and effective as a well-written app. For a perfect example, try using Facebook from the Safari browser on the iPhone, then use the Facebook app. The difference is night and day…if Microsoft invested its considerable resources to develop native apps for dominant mobile platforms like the iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphones and tablets it could easily dominate mobile productivity…”

2. T-Mobile Launches A Skype-Killing Voice Chat App For Facebook http://www.businessinsider.com/t-mobile-bobsled-voice-app-for-facebook-2011-4 T-Mobile has teamed with developer Vivox to create a web-based voice chat app that runs in Facebook. The app is called Bobsled and lets you start voice chats with your Facebook friends from within Facebook's chat window…there's huge potential here if it catches on, and could start eating into Skype's territory once Bobsled allows video chat and calls to landlines and mobile numbers…the service works a lot like Skype now, but instead on relying on people to sign up for the service, all your Facebook friends are right there, ready to chat…”

3. Tagged Buys Popular Social/Instant Messaging Client Digsby http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/19/tagged-buys-popular-socialinstant-messaging-client-digsby/ Tagged, the San Francisco-based social network that is most notable because of its ability to grow profitably during the Facebook era, has closed its first acquisition. dotSyntax, the corporation that created the popular Digsby instant messaging and social client, is now part of Tagged…they intend to keep the Digsby software as a standalone product, and also incorporate features into Tagged over time…Digsby has 3 million registered users today (Tagged has over 100 million)…If you’re unfamiliar with Digsby, there’s a good overview video here showing how the product works. It allows users to interact with social networks, webmail and instant messaging services. Websites can also integrate Digsby into their sites.”

4. Nokia Brings Photorealistic 3D Models Of 20 Entire Cities To Ovi Maps http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/19/nokia-brings-photorealistic-3d-models-of-20-entire-cities-to-ovi-maps/ Users of Google Maps and Bing Maps have enjoyed 3D imagery for a while now, and Nokia is now catching up with the launch of…3D models of 20 metropolitan areas from across the globe…like London, Barcelona, Los Angeles, Milan, New York, San Francisco and, of course, Helsinki…Starting with a bird’s-eye view, users can scale up and down and move around objects such as buildings and trees from their desktop, provided they install a browser plugin. Plugins are available for IE 7+, Firefox 3.5+, Safari 5+ and Google Chrome. A detailed 360-degree panoramic view of streets is also available…Ovi Maps for mobile currently covers 180 countries…”

5. Dropbox Lack of Security http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2011/Apr-19.html I am a fan of Dropbox. It is a great tool, a great product, and clearly they have a passionate team over at Dropbox building the product. Dropbox recently announced an update to its security terms of service in which they announced that they would provide the government with your decrypted files if requested to do so. This is not my problem with Dropbox. My problem is that…Dropbox made some bold claims about how your files were encrypted and how nobody had access to them…But anyone that tried to look further came out empty handed…We all had to just take them at their word…But this announcement that they are able to decrypt the files on behalf of the government contradicts their prior public statements…This announcement means that Dropbox never had any mechanism to prevent employees from accessing your files…anyone with clearance at Dropbox or anyone that manages to hack into their servers would be able to get access to your files. If companies with a very strict set of security policies and procedures like Google have had problems with employees that abused their privileges, one has to wonder what can happen at a startup like Dropbox where the security perimeter and the policies are likely going to be orders of magnitude laxer…”

6. Capture and Share Panoramas Anywhere You Go with the Photosynth App http://www.bing.com/community/site_blogs/b/search/archive/2011/04/18/capture-panoramas-anywhere-you-go-with-the-photosynth-app-and-share-on-bing.aspx What does a beautiful mountain pass, your favorite coffee shop, and your blossoming backyard garden all have in common? They’re all places you would love to capture and share, but a single photograph just won’t do…the official Photosynth app…lets you capture amazing panoramas of your favorite places to share with your friends and even the world…Photosynth’s interactive panoramas allow you to look left, right, up and down, letting you capture and view more of the places you visit…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

7. Cybercriminals Infected More Than Two Million Computers http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703730104576261503496468030.html The Justice Department said Wednesday it took several steps to disable a network of computers infected by a virus…The department said more than two million computers have been infected with a malicious program called Coreflood, allegedly used by cybercriminals to steal individuals' online banking credentials and passwords…The full extent of the financial losses caused by Coreflood is unknown, the Justice Department said…The Justice Department also said it obtained a temporary restraining order that will allow a government-hosted server to send commands to infected computers that will temporarily stop the Coreflood software from running on those computers…the actions being used to temporarily disable the virus on individual computers are the first of their kind in the U.S…Law-enforcement officials said Coreflood installed itself on computers by exploiting a vulnerability in machines running Microsoft Windows operating systems…” [so instead of the virus writers controlling your computer, now it’s the US government agencies controlling your computer without asking for your permission to do so – ed.]

8. Obama moves forward with Internet ID plan http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20054342-281.html The Obama administration said today that it's moving ahead with a plan for broad adoption of Internet IDs despite concerns about identity centralization…administration officials downplayed privacy and civil liberties concerns about their proposal…A 55-page document (PDF) released by the White House…offers examples of what the White House views as an "identity ecosystem," including obtaining a digital ID from an Internet service provider that could be used to view your personal health information, or obtaining an ID linked to your cell phone that would let you log into IRS.gov to view payments and file taxes…Administration officials plan to convene a series of workshops…for what's being called the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, or NSTIC…On the other hand, it would be more convenient for law enforcement (not to mention intelligence agencies) if a more traditional, centralized system were used. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat…stressed the importance of aiding law enforcement. Protecting civil liberties is important, Mikulski said. "But the first civil liberty is to be able to have a job, lead a life…"We're going to support the FBI," said Mikulski, who heads the Senate subcommittee that oversees the FBI's funding. "We're going to support the growth of the FBI."…During the 2008 presidential campaign, President Obama told CNET that "I do not support the Real ID program." But after being elected, Obama has not called for its repeal and his administration said last month that it's working "very closely with the states to assist with implementation."…Although the White House is describing the NSTIC plan as "voluntary," federal agencies could begin to require it for IRS e-filing, applying for Social Security or veterans' benefits, renewing passports online, requesting federal licenses (including ham radio and pilot's licenses), and so on. Then obtaining one of these ID would become all but mandatory for most Americans…” [one post I read doubted the NSTIC will protect consumers’ privacy since the Dept of Commerce is supposed to help businesses flourish, not be the champion of consumers’ rights and privacy – ed.]

9. TSA security looks at people who complain about ... TSA security http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/04/15/tsa.screeners.complain/ Don't like the way airport screeners are doing their job? You might not want to complain too much while standing in line. Arrogant complaining about airport security is one indicator Transportation Security Administration officers consider when looking for possible criminals and terrorists…it could result in a traveler facing additional scrutiny. CNN has obtained a list of roughly 70 "behavioral indicators" that TSA behavior detection officers use to identify potentially "high risk" passengers at the nation's airports…TSA officials declined to comment on the list of indicators, but said that no single indicator, taken by itself, is ever used to identify travelers as potentially high-risk passengers. Travelers must exhibit several indicators before behavior detection officers steer them to more thorough screening…"Expressing your contempt about airport procedures -- that's a First Amendment-protected right," said Michael German, a former FBI agent who now works as legal counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "We all have the right to express our views, and particularly in a situation where the government is demanding the ability to search you." "It's circular reasoning where, you know, I'm going to ask someone to surrender their rights; if they refuse, that's evidence that I need to take their rights away from them. And it's simply inappropriate," he said…some experts say terrorists are much more likely to avoid confrontations with authorities, saying an al Qaeda training manual instructs members to blend in…The Department of Homeland Security says the program is successful, telling Congress last week that, in a recent test comparing behavior detection officers to random screening procedures, the officers were 50 times more likely to refer people they checked to local law enforcement, and about 4.5 times as likely to identify people with prohibited items or fraudulent documents…the study did not establish the program's scientific validity…The Government Accountability Office also criticized the study, saying TSA's records are incomplete and the study is not designed to answer the big question people have about the program: Does it work?…”

10. Grassroots Campaign To Improve Airport Passenger Security Screening http://avstop.com/april_2011/grassroots_campaign_to_improve_airport_passenger_security_screening.htm “…the U.S. Travel Association is launching a national grassroots campaign to urge Congress to implement a trusted traveler program. Eighty percent of travelers surveyed say there should be a nationwide trusted traveler program that provides alternative screening measures at airports for American citizens who submit to background checks and meet other criteria…If Congress implements a trusted traveler program, we'll see more Americans traveling and that will create more American jobs."…The "Be Trusted" campaign…will include advertisements in newspapers and airports, social media, events at airports, an advocacy website and toll-free number to connect travelers directly with members of Congress, and an online petition…The recommendation calls for the creation of a tightly controlled enrollment program and re-verification process, a confirmation process at the airport that ensures only enrolled individuals are utilizing the trusted traveler screening lanes, and a checkpoint process that reflects the low-risk nature of the traveler…”

11. Toshiba to launch self-erasing hard drives http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-20053910-83.html Toshiba will…debut a series of hard drives that can automatically erase or prevent access to their own data should the drives end up in the wrong hands…The company's new self-encrypting drive family will include a new feature that detects if the drive is connected to an unknown and undefined computer or other system. If so, the drive can either securely wipe all of its data or just deny access to that data. Customers can apply the feature to specific data on the drive and choose how and when to render the data indecipherable…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

12. How Android’s Freewheeling Ecosytem Threatens the iPhone http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/04/mf_android/all/1 “…It was January 2009…Android had been a disappointment…the first phone to run the system, HTC’s T-Mobile G1, was greeted with tepid reviews and lackluster sales. Rubin…and his team, including Android cofounders Rich Miner and Nick Sears, had lobbied Verizon for the better part of a year—but without success…the iPhone…had become an instant commercial and cultural phenomenon…Fortunately for Rubin, Sanjay Jha was in just as dire a position. Jha, the new co-CEO of Motorola…had been hired in August 2008 to resurrect Motorola’s handset business, and he had pursued an all-or-nothing strategy, laying off thousands and betting Motorola’s future on his ability to build a hit Android phone…Jha had come to Google headquarters to unveil his design—and it was impressive…And, thanks to his longstanding relationship with Verizon, he offered the potential of a partnership with the country’s then second-largest wireless carrier…says Hiroshi Lockheimer, one of Rubin’s chief lieutenants…“I think we said OK on the spot.”…that optimism faded a few months later…when the first prototype arrived in the Android offices…looked nothing like the designs Jha had presented…they were hideous…It looked like a weapon. It was so sharp and jagged and full of hard lines…We were really concerned…Another dud, right on the heels of the disappointing G1, might cement the public’s perception of Android as a flop…a failure would likely mean the end of Motorola, the company that invented the cell phone…A sense of doom pervaded the whole summer… Verizon…reached out to McGarry Bowen, a young ad agency known for its unconventional approach…A few days later, cofounder Gordon Bowen comes back and says, ‘What do you think when I say Droid?”…what the agency had done was simple: It turned the phone’s menacing looks into its biggest asset by marketing it as an anti-iPhone…“If there had been a phone in the movie Black Hawk Down, it would have looked like the Droid,” Bowen told the executives…Verizon and its new agency presented the Droid campaign to a group of 200 Android staffers…When they were over, the room erupted in applause…When the Droid launched, on schedule, it was a tremendous hit, outpacing sales of the original iPhone in its first three months. Motorola started to make an amazing turnaround; today, thanks to the Droid, it is profitable again. Verizon started winning more new subscribers…Most important, the Droid halted Apple’s march toward smartphone dominance…”

13. Toys R Us Starts Selling Apple’s iPad 2 http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/toys_r_us_starts_selling_apples_ipad_2/ “…iPad 2…now on sale at…Toys R Us…For years, the retailer has sold…Apple's iPod…including the iPod touch…The iPad 2 first went on sale in the U.S. in early March, and was available at Apple's retail stores, as well as Best Buy, Target and Walmart, while late last month it went on sale at 500 Radio Shack stores…” [Toys R Us iPad sales should boost iPad app developers’ revenue – ed.]

14. Google hits 3 billion Android app installs; 350,000 device activations per day http://www.zdnet.com/blog/mobile-news/android-over-3-billion-apps-installed-350000-device-activations-per-day/1975 Android falls short in the apps category when compared to Apple…but current figures show the Android…is doing pretty well…there have now been over 3 billion apps installed from the Market…the last billion apps were installed in the last three months…there are now 350,000 activations of new Android devices every day. That puts the platform on a pace to hit over 127 million activations in a year…”

15. BlackBerry PlayBook now on sale starting at $500 with 16GB of storage http://www.engadget.com/2011/04/19/blackberry-playbook-now-on-sale-in-the-us-and-canada-starting-a/ Today is the day in BlackBerry land. The wait for a dual-core device with an up-to-date operating system and that stylized BB logo is now over, and a vast array of stores…are now ready to sell you your PlayBook. Whether you'll actually want to buy one is less clear-cut, however, as basic productivity apps like native email and calendar aren't yet available, Android app compatibility hasn't yet been rolled out, and the PlayBook has an unfavorable dependency on having a BlackBerry smartphone nearby in order to be the best tablet it can be…the PlayBook's ready for ownership in exchange for $500 for the 16GB model, $600 for the 32GB version, or $700 for the 64GB-equipped top option…”


16. Mobile App Talent Pool Is Shallow http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704547604576263200170918660.html “…The intense competition for mobile engineers, which affects large companies and fast-growing start-ups alike, is emerging as a key bottleneck as companies scramble to capitalize on the fast growth of smartphones and other mobile devices…Gartner Inc. expects revenue from Apple Inc.'s App Store, Google Inc.'s Android Market and other stores where mobile applications are sold to nearly triple to $15 billion this year…few software engineers have mobile development experience, which requires new coding skills compared to a desktop computer. Major media, tech, and social networking companies are looking to bulk up on mobile phone development staffers. The problem? The mobile app talent pool isn't very deep. That's forcing companies to increase wages, retrain software engineers, outsource work to third-party developers and set up offshore development labs to meet demand…"Almost all of our companies are looking for Android and iPhone developers," said Bijan Sabet, a general partner at Spark Capital, a Boston venture capital firm, whose portfolio includes Twitter Inc., Tumblr and OnSwipe…The mismatch has put upward pressure on wages…the average mobile salary last fall was about $76,000, but several companies said they pay experienced mobile developers anywhere from $90,000 to $150,000 a year…Ms. Robinson said competition for developers has forced the company to pay mobile engineers with little experience the same salaries as it would pay engineers with as many as 10 years of experience…Boston-based Where, which runs a mobile ad network and location-based recommendation service, opened a development center in Croatia to supplement its 18-person U.S. mobile engineering staff…Outsourcing some mobile development work has…been a boon for software development agencies such as 360mind and Pivotal Labs…The staff at 360mind, a 20-person mobile development shop, doubled last year, and is likely to double again this year…After struggling to recruit Android developers, location-based social network start-up Gowalla Inc. hired Pivotal Labs to build its Android client. Gowalla also farmed out development for its Windows 7 app…”

17. In-App Purchasing Generated 34% of Top 100 iOS Apps, But Apple Being Sued http://www.informationweek.com/news/development/mobility/229401697 “…Attorneys…filed a lawsuit against Apple on Monday claiming that the company allowed minors to purchase virtual goods through iOS games without the authorization of their parents. Meguerian let his 9-year-old daughter download several free games from the iTunes App Store…Several weeks later, Meguerian discovered his daughter had purchased approximately $200 of virtual currency called "Zombie Toxin," "Gems," and "City Cash."…At issue is Apple's former practice of allowing in-app purchases without a password for fifteen minutes after an initial authorization. With the release of its iOS 4.3 update in March, Apple began requiring passwords for every transaction, after news reports and state officials began questioning why…$99 virtual items in games like Capcom's Smurf's Village were being bought by children…It remains to be seen whether increasing friction in in-app commerce will curb its appeal…in-app payment and mobile messaging provider Urban Airship published a survey indicating that implementations of in-app purchasing will rise from 8% in 2010 to 31% in 2011. Mobile research firm Distimo found that 34% of the revenue generated by the top 100 iOS apps in December, 2010, came from free applications featuring in-app purchasing. What makes this more remarkable is that when these figures were released, less than 2% of iOS apps utilized this freemium model…”

18. A BlackBerry Tablet, but Where Are the Apps? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/technology/personaltech/14pogue.html “…it’s only April, and I’ve already got Tablet Fatigue. I’m not going to review the Electrolux tablet, the Polaroid tablet, the Sunoco tablet, the Kellogg’s tablet…The BlackBerry tablet, though, seems worth a look…It’s called the PlayBook, and it’s a seven-inch touch-screen tablet…The iPad, of course, is a 10-incher, but seven has its virtues. It’s much easier to hold with one hand…you ought to be able to slip the PlayBook into the breast pocket of a jacket — but incredibly, the PlayBook is about half an inch too wide. Whoever muffed that design spec should be barred from the launch party…There are no buttons on the front at all, and the top edge has only On, Play/Pause and volume keys…For now, the PlayBook’s motto might be, “There’s no app for that.” No existing apps run on this all-new operating system, not even BlackBerry phone apps…Remember, the primary competition is an iPad — the same price, but much thinner, much bigger screen and a library of 300,000 apps…does it make sense to buy a fledgling tablet with no built-in e-mail or calendar, no cellular connection, no videochat, Skype, no Notes app, no GPS app, no videochat, no Pandora radio and no Angry Birds?...only days before the PlayBook goes on sale April 19, the software is buggy and still undergoing feverish daily revision…If all of this gets fixed…PlayBook…may one day wind up in the pantheon of greats…”

19. How Apple Ranks Most Popular Apps, Rejecting Apps with Pay-per-install Campaigns http://gigaom.com/2011/04/19/apple-reportely-rejecting-apps-with-pay-per-install-campaigns/ Apple isn’t just tweaking its App Store rankings to include more than download numbers and possibly lessening the impact of incentivized pay-per-install marketing campaigns. It’s actually banning apps that use pay-per-install, according to…Tapjoy…a number of developers have had their apps rejected recently apparently because they were running incentivized app installs, a form of cross promotion marketing for app developers, who pay to have their app installed in other apps. This jibes with another report from Pocketgamer, which also reported that a number of apps have been rejected for offering virtual currency in exchange for downloads of apps…incentivized app installs…allow a consumer to obtain virtual currency or goods in an app in exchange for downloading an app. These campaigns have helped boost the download numbers of some developers who work with Tapjoy and others such as Flurry and W3i to get their apps promoted…Apple has apparently started tweaking its app store rankings to factor in more than download numbers…blunting the effect of incentivized app installs, which some have called gaming the system…Tapjoy, which was also part of the scamville controversy on Facebook when it was running questionable offer-based payments as Offerpal, recently reported that it was serving 1.5 million app installs a day across iOS and Android, generating $35 million per month…With pay-per-install, Tapjoy and others don’t pay anything to Apple. Had a game developer just used in-app payments to sell virtual goods instead of incentivized app installs, they would need to fork over 30 percent of the in-app purchase to Apple. But alternative payment providers aren’t required to hand over some of their revenue to Apple from the money they receive…it’s not completely surprising that Apple might target these incentivized app install campaigns. They do have a way of helping apps jump into the top of the rankings through incentives rather than just relying on good reviews, word of mouth and more traditional marketing…But I’m not sure Apple has to ban all apps that use incentivized installs…completing removing one avenue of promotion and marketing for app developers, who have to get noticed in a sea of 350,000 apps…”

20. Navigon Adds Augmented Reality to Navigation Apps http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/225319/navigon_adds_augmented_reality_to_navigation_apps.html Navigon has upgraded its line of MobileNavigator apps for the iPhone and iPad with new augmented reality features…The most prominent feature of the updated navigation apps launched on Thursday is the new "Reality Scanner." Users can point their camera-enabled device in the direction of the path they're taking, and icons pop up onto the viewscreen, indicating landmarks and other locations such bars and hotels. It's a feature that's helpful to those of us who can get lost walking past the same address three or four times before we realize that's where we're supposed to be. Two new in-app purchases are also available in the updated navigation app. "Safety Cameras" costs $5, and alerts drivers to speed and red-light cameras along their path. "Traffic Live" costs $15 and offers live updates about traffic ahead, along with suggested alternate routes…”

Open Source

21. What Would You Do With 2500 Android Phones? 25000? Bug Labs Wants To See http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/73044 For some open source hardware is a tough concept to get their minds around…But Peter Semmelhack, CEO of Bug Labs thinks that open source hardware is ushering in a new revolution even greater than open source software has. Combined open source software and hardware will change the world according to Peter…With Bug 2.0 the company is squarely in the mobile hardware space…with the open source Android OS, there were…25 or so hand set makers selling Android phones. Peter said…why not 2500 or even 25,000 different Android makers? Each one innovating and making their version a little better/different/cheaper than the next. It is evolution in internet time…it would be like an innovation lab on steroids…if you would like to design your own Android phone device…you could start doing it with Bug Labs…”

22. First stable Blender 2.5 series arrives http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/First-stable-Blender-2-5-series-arrives-1227880.html After several years of redesign and development work, the Blender Foundation and its associated online developer community have announced the arrival of version 2.57 of their open source 3D content creation suite, the first stable release in the 2.5 series…Blender 2.57 features an updated graphical user interface (GUI) layout that includes a new icon set and graphic design, new customisable keyboard short cuts and internal architecture changes, such as updates to data access and the tool system (also referred to as an "Operator"). There is now a new method for extending Blender via Python Scripts; these are distributed and stored as 'Add-ons'…”

23. Oracle gives up on commercial Open Office, now purely open source http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/225357/oracle_gives_up_on_commercial_open_office.html Oracle announced Friday that it will no longer sell a commercial version of the Open Office productivity suite, and that the open-source OpenOffice.org will be transitioned to "a purely community-based open-source project." "Given the breadth of interest in free personal productivity applications and the rapid evolution of personal computing technologies, we believe the OpenOffice.org project would be best managed by an organization focused on serving that broad constituency on a non-commercial basis," said Oracle Chief Architect Edward Screven in a statement. Oracle will "begin working immediately with community members to further the continued success of Open Office…”


24. Greplin’s Chrome Extension Now Makes Gmail Search Infinitely Better http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/15/greplins-chrome-extension-now-makes-gmail-search-infinitely-better/ Gmail is arguably the best web-based email client out there, but it’s far from perfect…Gmail Search…is just painful. Wait times of 30-40 seconds aren’t unheard of, to the point that it’s becoming the butt of jokes (what can you do in the time it takes to run a Gmail search?) Enter Greplin, the Sequoia-funded startup that’s looking to search all of your online data from a single search box…the company is upgrading its Chrome browser extension to take that search box with you, and they’re starting with Gmail…you’ll first need to install the plugin and sign up for a Greplin account, then connect that account to your Gmail (and any other supported services you might use, like Facebook and Evernote)…so far, Greplin search has bested the default results in almost every way…take less than a second to pop up, as opposed to the 20+ seconds you can run into on Gmail…it shows results for partial-word matches (“Tech” would match for both “Technology” and “TechCrunch”) — which Gmail doesn’t do…there’s one possible issue for those of you who are concerned about your privacy — because Greplin needs to index your emails for quick searching, it has to actually store your messages. Most people probably don’t care about this, and the service has everything riding on its ability to keep your data secure, but it’s something to keep in mind…”

25. Talk to your browser: Google Chrome 11 beta adds support for speech input http://liliputing.com/2011/03/talk-to-your-browser-google-chrome-11-beta-adds-support-for-speech-input.html “…the latest beta version of…Chrome web browser adds support for the HTML5 speech input API. That means developers can write web apps that will convert speech to text, allowing you to interact with a web page by speaking into your computer’s microphone. The technology could let you search a web page, translate from English to French, or perform any number of other actions using your voice…While talking to a desktop computer still seems like something out of Star Trek, it should be interesting to see what type of web apps appear to take advantage of the new capability.”

26. Gmail Helps You Avoid E-Mailing the Wrong Bob http://www.fastcompany.com/1747488/bob-enters-the-gmail-canon Gmail Labs is a repository of fun and helpful stuff--so helpful, in fact, that we often wonder why Labs features don't become Gmail fixtures more often…Gmail has decided that two Labs features-- "Don't forget Bob" and "Got the wrong Bob?"--both deserve to enter the Gmail canon…The features are fairly simple, drawing advice from your emailing patterns. Say you regularly email a certain group of people. If you suddenly leave one person out, a little feature in your composition window will suggest you "Also include" certain other contacts, which you can add with a simple click. And here's one I could have used last week, when I wanted to email my editor Tyler Gray and my colleague Greg Ferenstein something. I accidentally sent the materials to Tyler and to a completely different Greg F., a friend who doesn't work for Fast Company. Whoops. "Got the wrong Bob?" would have caught that error…”

27. Why Google is spending big to advertise Chrome http://blogs.forbes.com/greatspeculations/2011/04/18/chrome-gives-google-gilded-future/ In its recent earnings announcement, Google…mentioned that it is investing heavily in Chrome, which is why it’s the fastest growing browser in the world…the increasing presence of Chrome could further benefit the dominant position of Google…Chrome now has 120 million daily users and more than 40% of these were added last year alone…Chrome is really pushing the web, and it has a fantastic opportunity when people have adopted Chrome…everybody that uses Chrome right is a guaranteed locked in user for us in terms of having access to Google…”

28. Chrome OS Nears Release, Probably http://www.pcworld.com/article/225444/chrome_os_nears_release_but_where_are_the_netbooks.html Google's Chrome operating system…finally seems ready for a May launch. The company launched a stable developer channel for Chrome OS last week, fueling speculation that devices with the software would be announced in May at Google I/O conference, possibly shipping by summer…Reviewing Chrome OS and the CR48 laptop, PCWorld's Edward Albro wrote "I don't expect using the Chrome OS to be a revolutionary experience. Instead, it feels a bit more like working with one hand tied to your side -- it's possible, but awkward." He notes, however, some advantages of Chrome OS versus netbooks running Windows, such as 15-second boot, longer battery life, and simplicity…do Chrome OS netbooks stand a chance? They could, if the price is lower…Asus is rumored to launch a sub-$250 Chrome netbook…That's almost half the starting price of an iPad, and could be a tempting proposition…”

29. Google starting to make money in mobile http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/14/google-mobile-tripped-1-billion/ “…Without any radical effort, we already announced at end of Q3 this is a $1 billion run-rate business,” says Pichette. Mobile is “growing at an amazing blazingly pace,” he says. “We tripped into $1 billion.”…Google is tackling that opportunity with mobile search obviously, but also with Android, which comes with Google search built-in as the default…Asked whether Google would have to build out a local salesforce with feet on the ground to take advantage of the new mobile and local advertising opportunities, sales chief Nikesh Arora didn’t rule out any possibilities. “we will use a combination of existing sales teams and methods and others that might be required,” he responded…”

30. Five hidden tools and tricks for Google Calendar http://www.macworld.com/article/159223/2011/04/googlecaltips.html “…While Google's Calendar app has a number of known features that ease the pain of planning—integration with other calendars, mobile accessibility and schedule sharing, for example—there are a handful of other useful tools and tricks you may not know about. Read on to find out how these features can help you cut down on planning time and increase your productivity…Learn keyboard shortcuts…Auto-decline appointments…Easily reschedule events…Add attachments to events…Add events to Google Calendar via SMS…”

31. Google Map Maker: Map your own neighborhood http://gigaom.com/2011/04/19/google-turns-map-maker-loose-on-in-the-u-s/ “…after helping improve maps in 183 countries and regions, Google is turning the power of crowd-sourced mapping on in the United States…Google originally hoped locals around the world would use Map Maker to fill in basic data on roads, landmarks and basic information for maps. The work has paid off, said Google, with the 30 percent of the world’s population equipped with maps on where they live, double the percentage when Map Maker began…With Map Maker, any Google user can contribute to Google Maps by adding information about local places, correcting bad data or highlighting businesses or points of interests that are missing. Users, for example, could help supply information on exits for a local mall, specific building names for a school campus or could correct the spelling of a business listing or alert users to a closed restaurant…Google is opening up a few new features for Map Maker, including the ability for people to use Google Streetview to add edits to maps. So why is Google turning on Map Maker in the U.S.? I think it has to do with being a comprehensive authority on local data, which is being integrated into more and more of Google’s offerings. Google is in the process of building out its Places directory for businesses and it’s been asking users to rate them via the formerly named Hot Pot recommendation feature. It’s now offering check-ins through Latitude, which is built into Google Maps. It added Place searches into its regular search experience. And it’s working on serving up more location-based ads, which drive traffic and phone calls to local businesses. Combined with its turn-by-turn navigation service in Google Maps on Android, the local data provides a potent combination for consumers and local businesses to find each other. If Google can improve its Maps, it makes that piece even stronger and it helps identify businesses that Google can target as potential Places customers…”

32. Google Rolls Out Its Panda Update, Begins Incorporating Searcher Blocking Data http://searchengineland.com/google-rolls-out-its-panda-update-internationally-and-begins-incorporating-searcher-blocking-data-72497 “…Google launched a substantial algorithm change (known as “Farmer” or “Panda”) aimed at identifying low-quality pages and sites. These are pages (often seen on so-called “content farms”) with text that is relevant for a query, but may not provide the best user experience…In the United States, the initial launch impacted nearly 12% of queries…In recent months, Google has launched two ways for searchers to block particular sites from their search results. The first was a Chrome extension. More recently, Google has launched a block link directly in the search results that appears once a searcher has clicked from the results to a site and then return to the search results. When Panda launched initially, Google said that they didn’t use data about what sites searchers were blocking as a signal in the algorithm, but they did use the data as validation that the algorithm change was on target. They found an 84% overlap in sites that were negatively impacted by Panda and sites that users had blocked with the Chrome extension. Now, they are using data about what searchers have blocked in “high confidence situations”. Google tells me this is a secondary, rather than primary factor…”

General Technology

33. Tiny Personal Aircraft Is Ultra Light, Relatively Cheap http://mashable.com/2011/04/15/flynano-airplane/ “…Designed by Finnish aeronautical engineer Aki Suokas, this single-seat “microlight” aircraft will be available in three models — a 20 kW electric version, a 24 hp gasoline model, and a 35 hp gasoline-powered racing version. Flynano takes off and lands on water and flies up to 43 miles at 76 mph. It’s built of carbon fiber composite, making its surprising 154-pound weight light enough for it to be flown without a pilot’s license…Soukas and his company say they’re officially launching the aircraft at the Aero 2011 show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, which started o n April 13 and goes through April 16. They say the plane is “in the air now.” And according to GizMag, these tiny floating airplanes will be available in July of this year, and the most-expensive model will cost $39,000…”

34. Intel and Micron shrink NAND flash, using 20 nanometer process http://www.infoworld.com/d/computer-hardware/intel-and-micron-shrink-nand-flash-923 Intel and Micron Technology on Thursday said they had shrunk NAND flash memory in size…using 20-nanometer process technology…Flash memory is commonly used to store…data in products such as Apple's iPad or iPhone and other consumer electronics…the smaller flash memory could leave room to add more features, such as larger screens or bigger batteries…The flash memory achieves a 30 to 40 percent reduction in board space…IMFT will begin mass production of the chips in the second half of this year.”

35. External hard drives bundled with 3GB free cloud storage http://www.crunchgear.com/2011/04/19/hitachi-announces-first-usb-3-0-external-drives-bundled-with-personal-cloud-space/ Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (which was just acquired by Western Digital) has announced the company’s first USB 3.0 external hard drives, the so-called Touro Mobile Pro Portable Drive and the Touro Desk Pro External Drive (the bigger one in the picture). What’s special about these devices is the personal cloud-based back up solution they come with…In the US, the Touro Mobile Pro Portable Drive are already available with 500GB ($109.99) or 750GB ($129.99) on board…Included in these prices are 3GB of free storage space “in the cloud”, which is not really all that much (it costs $49 per year to upgrade 250GB)…”

36. Solar power without solar cells: A hidden magnetic effect of light could make it possible http://www.kurzweilai.net/solar-power-without-solar-cells-a-hidden-magnetic-effect-of-light-could-make-it-possible “…A dramatic and surprising magnetic effect of light discovered by University of Michigan researchers could lead to solar power without traditional semiconductor-based solar cells. The researchers found a way to make an “optical battery,” said Stephen Rand, a professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Physics and Applied Physics. Light has electric and magnetic components. Until now, scientists thought the effects of the magnetic field were so weak that they could be ignored. What Rand and his colleagues found is that at the right intensity, when light is traveling through a material that does not conduct electricity, the light field can generate magnetic effects that are 100 million times stronger than previously expected. Under these circumstances, the magnetic effects develop strength equivalent to a strong electric effect. “This could lead to a new kind of solar cell without semiconductors and without absorption to produce charge separation…”

DHMN Technology

37. element14 unveils Do It Together blog http://www.ecnmag.com/News/2011/04/Industry-News/Do-It-Together-blogs/ element14 today unveiled a new community resource, the “Do It Together” blogs, offering up-to-date news, information and personal insight…Engineering enthusiasts have a lot of passion, thriving on the ability to share information, and element14 is a resourceful community for collaborating and communicating with like-minded individuals,” said Alisha Mowbray, senior vice president of marketing, element14. “The interactive Do It Together blogs allow industry professionals to further connect with fellow peers and enthusiasts to drive the open exchange of ideas…Dave Young: Co-founder of BlueStamp Engineering, an extracurricular program for high school students, electrical engineer and hackerspace enthusiasts, Young has designed everything from audio circuits to energy harvesters…Charles J. Gervasi: With over 10 years experience in circuit and board design, Gervasi focuses on schematic and PCB level design…Chris Kraft: Kraft is a self-described tech geek who specializes in software programming, FPGAs, individual fabrication, and 3D printing. He also enjoys getting involved at all stages of engineering projects and truly embraces open source and DIY movements…Jeremy Blum: An electrical and computer engineering student at Cornell University, Blum has been working with electronics and building microcontroller projects for several years and has an extensive background in the Arduino programming environment…Jeri Ellsworth: Ellsworth is an entrepreneur and a self-taught computer chip designer specializing in custom ASIC, FPGA, system level, and mechanical design spaces…”

38. Online Cash Bitcoin Could Challenge Governments, Banks http://techland.time.com/2011/04/16/online-cash-bitcoin-could-challenge-governments/2/ “…Bitcoin digital currency…works a lot like cash in that it's anonymous…Because Bitcoin…relies on public key cryptography, there's no way to know, just looking at the database of transfers, who sent money to whom…Bitcoin is potentially revolutionary for several reasons. For one thing, artificial currency inflation is impossible…because Bitcoin has no central authority, no one can decide to increase the money supply. The rate of new bitcoins introduced to the system is based on a public algorithm and therefore perfectly predictable. More revolutionary perhaps is that because no intermediaries are needed for Bitcoin transactions, governments will have no intermediaries to regulate…While centrally run, the e-gold company didn't require identification to open an account, making the currency somewhat anonymous. That was, until the FBI and Secret Service raided e-gold's Florida offices and the company began to cooperate with investigators…eventually the e-gold currency was itself shut down…Because Bitcoin is an open-source project, and because the database exists only in the distributed peer-to-peer network created by its users, there is no Bitcoin company to raid, subpoena or shut down. Even if the Bitcoin.org site were taken offline and the Sourceforge project removed, the currency would be unaffected…taking down any of the individual computers that make up the peer-to-peer system would have little effect on the rest of the network…Like any new technology, an anonymous and distributed virtual currency has good uses and bad. The bad, of course, is that bitcoin could facilitate illegal activities, including the sale of pirated or counterfeit goods, stolen credit card numbers and passwords--even child pornography…The good, though, turns out to be really good…Live under a repressive regime and want to buy a repressed book or movie? Here's how. No wonder the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls Bitcoin “a censorship-resistant digital currency.”…the value of the Bitcoin economy is currently estimated to be only $5 million, but it's growing. Exchanges where you can swap dollars for bitcoins and vice versa are up and running…the number of vendors that accept bitcoins for payment continues to expand…Bitcoin might pose a threat…to payment processors…it's a story that's just getting started…”

Leisure & Entertainment

39. E-Books See Triple Digit Growth As Paper Book Sales Dive http://www.crunchgear.com/2011/04/15/e-books-see-triple-digit-growth-as-paper-book-sales-dive/ “…the Association of American Publishers reveals…e-books sales experienced “powerful continuing growth”…and paper books of all types dipped, compared to…January-February from last year…reactions of the RIAA and AAP are…different…AAP and other booksellers aren’t being dragged kicking, screaming, and suing into the future, but are embracing it despite its implications…booksellers are actually excited about the future of publishing, the money to be made, the markets to be reached, and so on. The fact that a report like this can be published without any kind of bitter commentary on the decline of paper books is telling…With greater sales of e-readers comes greater piracy and the threat of phantasmal “lost income,” as the music industry loves to say…I imagine we’ll see a few quixotic stands by the booksellers as well…A $99 Kindle, ad-supported or not, will push another few million of the things out the door, and technological advancements like flexible devices have yet to make their impact…unlike the record industry, booksellers are itching to get their hands on these new product vectors. The market won’t begin to settle down until e-readers are as popular as mobile phones and PCs, which I believe will happen despite the threat of tablets…”

40. Kinect Support for Netflix Arrives Today on Xbox 360 http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/Kinect_support_for_netflix_arrrives_today_on_xbox_360.php Kinect support for Netflix is arriving today…The update will allow the motion-controlled gaming system add-on to control Netflix content on the Microsoft Xbox 360…you'll be able to control the Netflix interface with just a wave of your hand or the sound of your voice…you'll be able select TV shows and movies recommended by Netflix, and play, pause, fast forward or rewind videos using the sound of your voice or gestures…You can see an early…virtual demo…in this video…”

41. Apple iPhone 4 to become most-used camera on Flickr http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/apple-iphone-4-to-become-most-used-camera-on-flickr/ According to Flickr's count, popularity of Apple's iPhone 4 has skyrocketed while point-and-shoot cameras appear to be quickly going the way of the Dodo bird. Apple’s iPhone 4 is on track to surpass all other cameras used to take photos posted to Flickr within the next month. Point-and-shoot cameras, on the other hand, have fallen in the opposite direction…the Nikon D90 is used by more of the site’s photographers than any other camera. In fact, aside from the iPhone 4, DSLR cameras dominate the top five spots, with Canon’s Digital Rebel XSi, 5D Mark II and Rebel T1i taking ranks three, four and five. Since Flickr has become a favorite among professional photographers and amateur photographers who wish they were professionals, it’s no surprise that DSLRs are as popular as they are…Point-and-shoot cameras have gone in the exact opposite direction…Canon’s PowerShot line completely dominates this sector, but the percentage of Flickr members who use these cameras has plummeted to staggeringly low numbers…While Flickr’s analytics should be taken with a grain of salt — they don’t necessarily represent the market at-large — the data does support a long-standing belief among industry watchers that the point-and-shoot is gasping its last breaths…iPhone 4…photos…are just as good — or better — than most point-and-shoots…the phone’s digital zoom is nothing compared to an optical zoom…But when uploading photos to Flickr can be done on the go, and iPhone apps like Instagram quickly make photos look more interesting than anything most people can crank out of a point-and-shoot, it’s easy to see why the iPhone 4 has become such a worthy adversary…” [the oft-repeated story of ‘the best tech doesn’t always win’; it appears the point-and-shoot will inversely mirror the rise of smartphones and soon go the way of Luke’s separate PDA; just another reason for DHMN to get involved with Micro-Factory, 3D printing, open source hardware and other custom advanced manufacturing technologies – ed.]

42. Crackle: Free movies, TV shows on iOS devices! http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-19512_7-20055325-233.html “…you can watch movies and TV shows on your iPhone or iPad, but there's always a catch--usually a monetary one. Hulu and Netflix cost money. PlayOn costs money and requires you to leave your PC on…Enter Crackle, a new app that lets you watch dozens of TV shows and a couple hundred movies, all free of charge…Available for iPhone, iPod, and iPad (the app is universal), Crackle delivers much of (but not all) the same content as its eponymous Web service. On the TV side, you'll find shows like "10 Items or Less," "Barney Miller," "Charlie's Angels," and AMC's new "The Killing."Unfortunately, a lot of the available series are merely "minisodes," not full eps. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I don't want 5 minutes and 30 seconds…On the plus side, Crackle recently added a batch of classic "Seinfeld" episodes, and plans to swap them for 10 different ones every month…”

Economy and Technology

43. Zoom, zoom: Zipcar is a $1 billion company! http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2011/04/14/zoom-zoom-zipcar-is-a-1-billion-company/ “…Car-sharing service Zipcar is having a huge first day on the public markets, with its stock climbing 70% above its $18 per share IPO price at one point. As of last check, the shares were at around $28.58, which puts the Cambridge, Mass.-based company's market cap at a whopping $1.1 billion…amazing for a company that booked at $14 million net loss in 2010…maybe it's just a belief that Zipcar is at the vanguard of a burgeoning urban industry…Zipcar has a fleet of around 8,500 cars spread out in dedicated parking spots over 14 metro markets and more than 200 college campuses. Users rent cars via the Internet or their mobile devices, and then use their personal "Zipcards" to unlock the doors. Just drive and return to the same spot. Both gas and insurance are included in the rental fee. According to…the CEO of rival car-sharing company RelayRides, Zipcar is believed to have penetration of between 5% and 10% of licensed drivers in its metro markets…”

44. Purchase Sharing Site Shwowp Becomes Buyosphere, Opens To The Public http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/15/purchase-sharing-site-shwowp-becomes-buyosphere-opens-to-the-public/ “…Shwowp co-founder Tara Hunt tells me that the post launch feedback for Shwop’s original branding wasn’t good, but the tipping point was when the site won a “Worst Brand Name of 2010″ award from blog Eatmywords…Hunt…wrote a blog post inviting people to come up with new suggestions. While the survey brought in over 3000 pageviews and over 1200 suggestions, none of them were quite the right fit…Eatmywords blogger Alexandra Watkins…came up with the name Buyosphere…the bootstrapped startup didn’t have the cash for the Buyosphere domain, which was being squatted on. Hunt wrote the site owner an email, explaining…I have 500 bucks…he took her offer…personal Buyosphere site profiles are called Buyographies, the data analysis of what gets bought is called Buyometrics, its new blog is called the Buyble…Users can also create collections or lists of items they have or want like “Dry Shampoos I’ve Tried, “The Four Hour Body Toolkit” and “If I Had A Million $$” and share them with friends on Buyosphere, Facebook and Twitter…Buyosphere is currently in its data gathering phase, and that the grand vision is to be like a Mint specifically for purchases…”

45. QR codes help generate additional sales for your small business http://blog.verticalresponse.com/verticalresponse_blog/2011/03/qr-codes-what-are-they-and-do-you-need-them.html “…there are a ton of possibilities for you to incorporate…QR codes into your own business…The QR or "Quick Response" code…is a code…made up of black blobs (technical term) arranged in a square pattern on a white background…for small businesses…these codes can help generate business! For most mobile phones that have cameras, there are…apps that enable the code to be easily read by just pointing the phone at the code. Once the code is read, the mobile phone will do what you want it to do like opening a web page…when we use QR codes, we'll direct anyone who scans one to a page that contains much less information since scanning large web pages on a smart phone can be overwhelming. Practical Applications of a QR Code for Businesses…Get More Customers - When someone scans in the code, take them to a web page where they can get a special deal or a discount for your services…Grow Your Email List - If you offer something of value…you can direct anyone who scans the code to a sign up form…Customer Service Videos - If you've got an informational video about your company, your products or services, you can direct them to a mobile-friendly page where you host the video…Where You Can Put QR Codes to Work…Printed advertisements…Signs…Sandwich boards or billboards…Your store or restaurant window…Datasheets and collateral…Direct mail postcards…Product labels…Business cards…Take out menus…Magazine publications…There are a bunch of easy ways you can generate a QR code…You can also use Goo.gl which is a URL shortener combined with a QR code generator. Why is that cool? Because it allows you to track the number of visits to the page where the QR code was read…”

Civilian Aerospace

46. NASA awards $269 million to four firms to privately develop rockets and spacecraft http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/science/space/19nasa.html The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced Monday that it was distributing $269 million to four companies to develop spacecraft to take its astronauts to orbit in the future…Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, of Hawthorne, Calif., which already has a contract to carry cargo to the International Space Station, will receive $75 million toward making its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule suitable for passengers. SpaceX had two successful launchings of its Falcon 9 last year…Sierra Nevada Corporation of Louisville, Colo., will receive $80 million for its small space plane design, and Boeing will receive $92.3 million for a capsule design. Blue Origin, a quiet, enigmatic company started by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, will receive $22 million to work on its capsule design…Another winner — even though NASA did not give it any money — may be the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Except for SpaceX, the other companies need a rocket to fly their spacecraft…After the shuttles are retired this year, the United States will have to rely on the Russians, at a cost of more than $50 million a seat, for taking NASA astronauts to orbit. Mr. McAlister said NASA was aiming for commercial providers to begin flying astronauts to the International Space Station in the “middle part of the decade…”

47. Teams reach for the sky at NASA Student Launch Initiative http://blog.al.com/breaking/2011/04/teams_reach_for_the_sky_at_nas.html “…More than 40 teams of students from colleges, high schools and middle schools across the country converged on Bragg Farms in Toney for the NASA Student Launch Initiative. Their goal was to achieve some of the same engineering feats that made the U.S. Space Program possible, but on a much smaller scale…The university teams were also competing for a $5,000 prize, sponsored by ATK Aerospace Systems. The high school, middle school and 4-H teams were not competing, but were participating for experience's sake…Using black powder, the team sent their reusable solid rocket booster 5,325 feet into the air. When asked if they were happy with the results, they all laughed excitedly…"I'm just glad it didn't hit any cars," Griffin said…Also important was how close the rocket came to achieving an altitude of one mile, or 5,280 feet, above the ground…each team began its journey eight months ago. Teams had to make it through a project proposal, a preliminary design review and a critical design review. They also had to successfully launch their rocket at home…students were also judged on two education outreach activities they conducted back home, as well as a website they built for their projects…One "team" that had everyone impressed was Lucas Kalathas. The 22-year-old physics major at Shippensburg University completed his project solo. "This has been my hobby for about five years now," Kalathas said. "I submitted my proposal and couldn't find teammates interested, so I did it myself…”

48. Tobacco and beaver pelts: the sustainable path http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1827/1 In 2009…the Review of US Human Space Flight Plans Committee) presented its report to the White House…few seem to have notice the commission’s most audacious finding: The ultimate goal of human exploration is to chart a path for human expansion into the solar system. What would it take for humans to expand into the solar system?...If our goal really is expansion into the solar system, then that…implies two essential enabling objectives: physical and economic sustainability. These should drive our thinking about destinations…in 2011 alone, the global oil industry will spend $490 billion on new oil wells, production platforms, and other energy infrastructure. Every year the global mining industry extracts billions of tons of raw material from the Earth’s crust worth trillions of dollars. The global energy industry is worth $5 trillion per year, of which $4.4 trillion comes from coal, oil, and natural gas…What…could we find in space that has economic value here on Earth?...we can only speculate, but that’s why this is an R&D agenda…It might involve energy, or metals and minerals, or something we haven’t thought of yet…if the space advocacy community spent…a little more time gathering evidence of value, we might actually get somewhere…Space-based solar power and sun shields may be worth exploring…there is some evidence that we have already hit peak gold; we may hit peak phosphorus in 30 to 40 years, and may exhaust the Earth’s crust of readily obtainable antimony, zinc, tin, silver, lead, indium, and copper (to name a few) within 50 years (sooner if economic conditions in developing countries continue to improve at anything close to current rates)…all the metals that we mine today come originally from asteroids delivered to the Earth’s crust during the heavy bombardment phase of its formation, so we are already mining the asteroids…a relatively small metallic asteroid with a diameter of one mile contains more than $20 trillion worth of industrial and precious metals…at 1997 commodities prices…The exploration and settlement of North America was driven by private investment. Investors backed one costly expedition after another. Why? Because they obtained royal charters guaranteeing them monopoly rights to any gold, silver, and precious gems they discovered…what the history books don’t tell you is that, year after year, they all failed to achieve their real objective, to make a profit. The value proposition came from unexpected directions through hands-on testing and trial and error…No early explorer of North America (the Elon Musks of their time) or investor in these endeavors ever imagined what would ultimately make these first colonies sustainable: tobacco in Jamestown, and beaver pelts in Plymouth…This is why we need to start now to explore sustainable paths toward human expansion into the solar system…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

49. HP Sees GPUs Taking More Computing Load http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/224970/hp_sees_gpus_taking_more_computing_load.html Graphics processors…are increasingly handling a larger computational load and bringing supercomputer-like capabilities to complex scientific and math applications, according to a Hewlett-Packard executive…new math and science applications can take advantage of hundreds of graphics processor cores in workstations…by harnessing the parallel processing capabilities of CPUs and GPUs, which speeds up workstations while reducing overall power consumption…HP on Tuesday started shipping new desktop and mobile workstations with optional Nvidia or Advanced Micro Devices GPUs, which include hundreds of processing cores…We're starting to see more software vendors look at the GPU as the next thing to design for," Peterson said. CPUs remain important thanks to multiple cores and features like multithreading, but GPUs offer better raw computing power…But there are programming challenges as applications need to be written for parallel execution across GPUs and CPUs…Applications such as Autodesk's Autocad and Adobe's Premiere Pro and Photoshop are taking a larger set of workloads off CPUs and moving it to GPUs…Queries can also be set up for math packages such as MatLab and Mathematica, with calculations taking place on GPUs…the engineer, the scientist, the mathematician, the video editor -- they can all benefit tremendously from these GPU accelerated applications…”

50. Parallel Computing Institute Arms Researchers to Address Major Challenges http://www.scientificcomputing.com/news-HPC-Parallel-Computing-Institute-Arms-Researchers-to-Address-Major-Challenges-040511.aspx The University of Illinois’ Coordinated Science Laboratory has launched a new interdisciplinary institute that will provide resources to enable breakthroughs in parallel computing. The Parallel Computing Institute (PCI) will arm researchers and educators with the support they need…PCI will serve as an incubator for developing and sustaining interdisciplinary centers and initiatives in parallel computing by expanding access to resources and infrastructure, teaching critical skills to graduate and undergraduate students, creating more opportunities for funding, establishing key external partnerships and sharing center creation expertise with research teams who want to do high-impact work in parallel computing. Parallel computing provides the most powerful and efficient infrastructure for computation-heavy applications, such as…videoconferencing, immersive reality and others…“Illinois is already a leader in parallel computing, with tremendous depth and breadth in this area,” said PCI Director Bill Gropp, CSL Researcher and the Paul and Cynthia Saylor Professor of Computer Science. “What PCI aims to do is to provide researchers in different disciplines the opportunity to collaborate in an innovative, resource-rich environment. By approaching problems in a strategic, interdisciplinary way, we can develop solutions with greater impact.”…One of PCI’s early thrusts will be research and education that make it easier to program on parallel platforms. An example of such research includes the development of middleware that translates the CUDA programming language for field-programmable gate arrays, an adaptable, low-power chip solution…PCI administrators will work with researchers to prepare and submit proposals, reach out to potential industry partners…The institute intends to capitalize on growing industry interest in parallelism, says Wen-mei Hwu, PCI Chief Scientist, CSL Researcher and AMD-Jerry Sanders Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Many commercial developers and software vendors are beginning to tackle parallel programming issues,” Hwu said. “We want to be the place where they come for help…”



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