2011/05/03

NEW NET Issues List for 03 May 2011

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 03 May 2011, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering. This week we're upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA -- if there's a chain across the steps, ignore it and come on upstairs. Andy M has left us for a sojourn to straighten out the technology of England, and we're hoping to recruit new international participants to NEW NET to allow our weekly gathering to continue being a truly global experience. If you are a tech enthusiast born outside the USA, or at least someone who has lived or traveled extensively outside the USA, please join us in our geek discussions...

It appears I got carried away this week with all the interesting tech news. Today's list may have the most items I've ever included in one week's worth of technology / economy news.

The ‘net

1. The Age of Broadband Caps Begins http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/04/att-broadband-caps/ Come Monday, AT&T will begin restricting more than 16 million broadband users based on the amount of data they use in a month…a majority of U.S. broadband users will now be subject to limits on how much they can do online…AT&T’s new limits — 150 GB for DSL subscribers and 250 GB for UVerse users (a mix of fiber and DSL) — come as users are increasingly turning to online video such as…Netflix…It’s a complete abandonment of the unlimited plans which turned the internet into a global behemoth after the slow-growth dial-up days, when customers were charged by the minute and thus accessed the internet as sparingly as possible…AT&T plans to charge users an extra $10 per month if they cross the cap, a fee that recurs for each 50 GBs a user goes over the cap…Netflix ranges from .3 GB per hour to 1.0 for normal resolution movies and up to 2.3 GB per hour for HD content…it’s not about the cost of data…Time Warner Cable brought in $1.13 billion in revenue from broadband customers in the first three months of 2011, while spending only $36 million for bandwidth — a mere 3 percent of the revenue…The real problem ISPs want to fix is congestion due to limited infrastructure. Cable customers share what are known as local loops, and the more that your neighbors use their connection, the less bandwidth is available to you…The blunt-force approach of a bandwidth cap does have the advantage of making users think twice about streaming HD movies from Netflix…most big ISPs…rather have you spending money on their video services than paying a third party. Bandwidth-intense services threaten to turn the likes of Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner Cable into utilities — a dependable business, but not one that has the huge profit margins these companies have come to enjoy…”

2. The Future of Media: Storify and the Curatorial Instinct http://gigaom.com/2011/04/25/the-future-of-media-storify-and-the-curatorial-instinct/ The explosion of real-time information…has produced a never-ending firehose of content. It has also created an opportunity for tools such as Storify, the curation service that launched as an open beta Monday…Storify is a relatively simple-looking tool that allows a user to pull in content from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and other social-media services and create a kind of story stream…former Associated Press foreign correspondent Burt Herman started the service after thinking about how journalists could use social media during a Knight fellowship…other, similar services…pull in Twitter feeds and allow users to create a kind of ongoing story about an event: Storyful is one…Keepstream is another…What Storify and similar tools do goes by a number of different name. Some call it “aggregation,”…Others prefer to call it “curation,” which implies a human being filtering and selecting the best of something and then pulling it together into some kind of coherent whole…While he doesn’t actually report the news…Carvin selects, verifies and re-distributes the news from hundreds of different Twitter streams he monitors of people who are actually on the ground or have knowledge of what is occurring…There are other examples…a book called Quakebook…is a collection of memories and reactions related to the earthquakes in Japan and the aftermath of that disaster. All the responses were collected through Twitter and became first an e-book and now a printed version. The rise of real-time information sources such as Twitter has produced such an unstoppable wave of content that we need curation and filtering more than we ever have before…while that used to be something that only traditional media sources did, now it’s something anyone can do…”

3. Finding And Buying A Domain Name http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2011/04/finding-and-buying-a-domain-name.html “…a good domain name is an important success factor in building and launching consumer web services…A number of our portfolio companies…acquired their domain names in connection with…our investment…A good domain name is short and memorable. It doesn't need to mean anything. Etsy is a good example of this…the average price of a good domain has risen…dramatically in the past year. We used to advise companies to spend $10k or less on a domain, then we upped…to $25k. We recently upped it again to $50k…Don't obsess about getting a name that is descriptive…If you own a domain that can work, give it serious consideration…Be prepared to pay up for a good domain…Think about rent to own…Think about offering equity instead of cash…Find an intermediary…finding and buying a domain is a huge pain in the rear. I've seen startups spend endless hours on it…it is worth getting it right. But there is also a limit to how much time and money you want to spend on this effort…”

4. Tools for Better Web Design http://www.technologyreview.com/business/37224/ If you like…the design of…any Web page, you can view the source code and see just how our designers created it…This openness is one of the best things about the Web, says Scott Klemmer, a professor at Stanford University…Klemmer's lab creates tools that help novice and experienced designers alike take advantage of such existing Web content to improve and adapt their designs more quickly…Blueprint…is…a plug-in for Adobe's Flash and Flex Builder tools. Through Blueprint, designers coding a page can search for examples of code without having to click through pages of results generated by conventional search engines…professional programmers using Blueprint completed tasks 28 percent faster and wrote higher-rated code than those using traditional Web search engines…Bricolage…can take any Web page and re-render it in the style of another…The idea is…to facilitate brainstorming…you can see if a particular direction is interesting…Bricolage can also be used to rapidly redesign a page for display on different devices, such as a desktop computer, an Android phone, or an iPad…designs are hard to describe in words," he says. Having examples on hand helps speed the process…Klemmer…wants to make the Web more accessible. Today's Web user is probably on a mobile device, and as the population ages, more Web users will have limited vision or motor skills…With the tools he's developing, a designer could make one canonical version of a website and then develop software that automates the conversion of this design into versions that work for the increasingly wide variety of people who may be viewing it.”

5. IE down to 56%, Chrome up to 12% http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20058804-264.html Microsoft's browser continues to lose share of worldwide usage…IE overall dropped from 55.9 percent in March to 55.1 percent in April…Chrome rose from 11.6 percent to 11.9 percent, while Safari grew from 6.6 percent to 7.2 percent. Mozilla's Firefox dipped from 21.8 percent to 21.6 percent…Apple operating systems accounted for 7.6 percent of browser usage in April. Of that 5.4 percent were browsers on Mac OS X, 1.2 percent on iPhones, 0.8 percent on iPads, and 0.2 percent on iPod Touches. In other words, 2.2 percent of browser usage took place on Apple's mobile operating system…Windows…is the dominant operating system used to browse the Web…Windows XP…with 53.2 percent of usage. Windows 7…25.1 percent…”

6. Youtube co-founders buy Delicious from Yahoo http://gigaom.com/2011/04/27/can-delicious-solve-our-information-discovery-problem/ Yahoo…isn’t killing its Delicious social-bookmarking service…Instead Yahoo is selling the service to Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, two of the co-founders of YouTube…they are planning to maintain the service…it also sounds like they have something much bigger in mind…their plan is to “build a world-class team to take on the challenge of building the best information-discovery service on the web.” The company also said that it wants to solve the problem of information overload…One of the biggest changes is the social nature of content; how we share it and…discover it via social networks…and the increasing amounts of content coming…from apps and services like Instagram…they are all ways of keeping track of those web links and photos and other bits of data…But they are disconnected from each other…the existing players have only started to scratch the surface of what they could do in terms of information discovery and smart recommendation…But think about the vast amount of content that has already been sucked in by Delicious over the years — arguably the single biggest asset that the company has, and the one Hurley and Chen were likely willing to pay up for…”

7. The skinny on finding airfare deals http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/04/29/airfare.search.tips/ “…Airfares for this summer are higher than they were a couple of years ago…But if you're flexible in where you go and when you go, there are some relative bargains out there. Most of these "sales" are completely unadvertised…many of them last only for a few days or hours. We call them pop-up sales…So although summer airfares are on average higher, here's how to increase your chances of snagging a deal…”

8. AT& T Groupon-challenger http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-02/at-t-will-take-on-groupon-with-10-promotion-at-daily-discount-deal-site.html AT&T Inc., aiming to tap the billion- dollar market for online coupons dominated by Groupon Inc., will introduce its own discount site in about a month in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth. The site, on its yellowpages.com subsidiary, is sweetening the deal for consumers who register with a $10 credit beginning today, said Dawn Benton…The U.S. daily deals market, with discounts of as much as 90 percent at restaurants, clothing stores and nail salons, will grow to $3.93 billion in 2015, from $1.25 billion this year, according to a projection from BIA/Kelsey…AT&T plans to roll out the daily deal site to other cities and offer it on mobile devices…” [Living Social, Google and Facebook have a deal-of-the-day now, so why not AT&T, I guess... ed.]

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

9. Oops! Sorry. Apple finally admits tracking users after they turn off location based services http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/apple-will-fix-location-tracking-glitch-with-ios-4-3-3/ “…Apple has said the tracking resulted from its A-GPS service and a glitch was saving more information than was necessary as well as continuing to operate even when users turned off location software…” http://www.macworld.com/article/159548/2011/04/apple_crisis_management.html

10. FBI & DOJ now competing with myDigitechnician in malware removal business http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9216199/Feds_to_remotely_uninstall_Coreflood_bot_from_some_PCs Federal authorities will remotely uninstall the Coreflood botnet Trojan from some infected Windows PCs over the next four weeks…Two weeks ago, the DOJ and the FBI obtained an unprecedented temporary restraining order that allowed them to seize five command-and-control (C&C) servers that managed Coreflood. Since then, the U.S. Marshal's Service has operated substitute C&C servers that have disabled the bot on most infected PCs. Those actions have reduced Coreflood by 90% in the U.S. and nearly 75% in other countries…The FBI has also identified infected computers, and in some cases has linked names to the static IP addresses. Those are the PCs targeted for remote Coreflood eradication…”

11. Parents Rejoice: New Technologies Will End "Sexting," Driving While Texting http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/parents_rejoice_new_technology_will_end_sexting_driving_while_texting_and_more.php Mobile carriers in the U.S. will soon have expanded Family Locator solutions in place that offer far more controls than simply tracking family members' whereabouts…these services will offer tools that allow parents to stop teens from texting while driving, stop "sexting" from occurring and stop kids from communicating with unwanted parties. Parents will also be able to read the content of text messages, preview mobile photos before being posted publicly on the Internet or sent to friends and will be able to specify what types of applications can be downloaded to kids' phones…these type of "mom and dad are your Big Brother" services may strike you as a bit disconcerting with the level of access they provide…When a mobile operator is able to convert an account to a family plan, it reduces its churn rate by 75%, Roumeliotis says. Currently, 65% of subscribers in the U.S. are on this type of plan. Within this market, there are now millions of users who are happy to pay for Family Locator solutions at a cost of $5 to $15 dollars per month…there's no question that families are finding the real value of location-based services in tracking their family members' movements…Roumeliotis says there were more "paid-for locates" last year than there were Foursquare checkins…according to Foursquare's own data, there were 381,576,305 checkins in 2010…”

12. New FBI Documents Provide Details on Government’s Surveillance Spyware https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/04/CIPAV_Post EFF recently received documents from the FBI that reveal details about the depth of the agency's electronic surveillance capabilities and call into question the FBI's controversial effort to push Congress to expand the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) for greater access to communications data. The documents we received were sent to us in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request we filed back in 2007 after Wired reported on evidence that the FBI was able to use “secret spyware” to track the source of e-mailed bomb threats against a Washington state high school…It is clear from the documents we received that the FBI—and likely other federal agencies—have used this tool a lot. According the documents…the FISA Court appears to have questioned the propriety of the tool.8 Other agencies, and even other countries have shown interest in the tool, indicating its effectiveness…Some emails discuss trying to use a "trespasser exception" to get around a warrant,16 while others discuss telling the AUSA (government attorney) to cite to the "All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a)."17 And one email suggests some agents thought the tool required no legal process at all. In that email, the FBI employee notes he considers the tool to be "consensual monitoring without need for process; in my mind, no different than sitting in a chat room and tracking participants' on/off times; or for that matter sitting on P2P networks…Over the past few months, we've heard a lot from the FBI about its need to expand the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), a law that that requires all telecommunications and broadband providers to be technically capable of complying with an intercept order. Federal law enforcement officials have argued that under current regulations they can't get the information they need and want to expand CALEA to apply to communications systems like Gmail, Skype, and Facebook. However, these documents show the FBI already has numerous tools available to surveil suspects directly, rather than through each of their communications service providers…”

13. Why the PlayStation Network breach is scary http://ingame.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/04/26/6539290-why-the-playstation-network-breach-is-scary The PlayStation Network breach may prove to be the biggest data snatch ever seen…it turns out there are 77 million PlayStation Network accounts, compared to the 30 million "active" Xbox Live accounts that Microsoft most recently boasted…The great majority of PlayStation and PSP owners have PlayStation Network accounts largely because they're free, and because not having them can be an inconvenience…Seventy-seven million is a lot of accounts — compare that to Gawker Media's recent breach, where hackers stole data on 1.4 million readers…With the PlayStation Network, Sony is already admitting that far richer information has probably been stolen: Name, address, date of birth, email address, online ID and password…that's assuming the hackers didn't get users' credit card numbers. You're well aware of what they could do with those, especially when paired with all that other relevant information…Sony probably did not pay enough attention to security when it was developing the software that runs its network. In the rush to get out innovative new products, security can sometimes take a back seat. "They have to innovate rapidly. That's the business model," Paller said to Reuters. "New software has errors in it. So they expose code with errors in it to large numbers of people, which is a catastrophe in the making."…Sony is not alone. Other companies will certainly experience similar breaches in the coming months. We may be entering the age of the data breach…”

14. Sony warns of almost 25 million extra user info loss in SECOND theft! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13256817 A further 25 million gamers have had their personal details stolen as a result of security breaches at Sony. As well as the Playstation Network, which has been down since 20 April, the company has now taken its Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) service offline…Since the breach was revealed, shares in Sony have dropped by 4% amid calls for the company's CEO Howard Stringer to stand down over the crisis…This new attack goes beyond users of Playstation hardware, affecting PC and Facebook gamers - potentially an additional 25 million people…names, home addresses, e-mail addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers and gender information was taken. Additionally, direct debit details of around 10,700 customers in Austria, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany were stolen, as were the credit or debit card details of some 12,700 non-US customers…the information included card numbers and expiry dates, but said that it was taken from a 2007 database which was securely encrypted. The company added: "There is no evidence that our main credit card database was compromised. It is in a completely separate and secured environment…” [so why did they have expired credit card details stored? I’m betting they would previously have said the now-stolen information was in a “secured environment” also – ed.]

15. Rootkit on a brand new Toshiba Laptop http://blog.jitbit.com/2011/04/rootkit-on-brand-new-toshiba-laptop.html “…I've just discovered a built-in rootkit in my wife's brand new Toshiba laptop. A non-removable malicious software application right from the manufacturer. That even captured and sent-out screenshots of my wife's work…It all started with some corrupted files & folders on my wife's laptop. No problem - I launched the "CHKDSK" utility and scheduled a disk scan on restart…there was no disk scan when I rebooted. I tried again - no scan. I tried everything: rebooting to safe-mode, marking the disk as a "dirty" one with the "CHKNTFS" tool, booting with recovery disk - nothing helped. I just couldn't launch checkdisk or schedule it for the next startup…So I opened the Process Explorer tool (God bless SysInternals) and found a suspicious process called "rcpnetp.exe". Why hello there! The process has no "Description" and "Company Name" fields, it loads "rcpnetp.dll" via AUTOCHK.EXE. A-ha!...I opened Autoruns (God bless SysInternals #2) trying to find some registry key or something that launched this "rcpnetp" process…I found nothing. I decided to kill the process, delete those files from the "System32" folder and reboot the laptop. Imagine my frustration when those processes were back there, up and running! I spent hours trying to figure, where this monster launches from...So I turned to Google. And found some links (the second link is in Russian). It turns out the files are loaded from BIOS…It's a "security" software built into the BIOS of many laptops called CompuTrace. It is sorta like "LoJack" for laptops. If your laptop is stolen, CompuTrace can notify a server where your laptop is. It is written by Absolute Software and provided to laptop manufacturers so they can include it in the BIOSes…CompuTrace is a rootkit <...> it will hijack the AUTOCHK.EXE process that normally runs during Windows boot, and instead run its own code…”

16. Hackers Hit Guy Who Live-Tweeted Bin Laden Raid http://gawker.com/#!5797870 33-year-old IT consultant Sohaib Athar was just hanging out on Sunday at home in Abbottabad, Pakistan, when he heard an explosion and a helicopter hovering above. He started tweeting what was going on, and ended up unwittingly live-blogging the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. Athar has become become such an internet celebrity that his website's been hacked. According to internet security lab Websense, someone installed code on Athar's blog that attempts to install malware on any visitors' computers. That's potentially a lot of people, given that Athar (handle: ReallyVirtual) now has over 70,000 followers thanks to his citizen reportage…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

17. I told you the tethering police were coming http://www.zdnet.com/blog/mobile-news/i-told-you-the-tethering-police-were-coming-and-now-they-are-here/2243 “…I warned that the major carriers in the U.S. were about to up the ante in the war against the practice of tethering a smartphone to share its data connection…the intent was to warn folks that the practice of tethering was going to cause the carriers to react more visibly to prevent it…Today word is appearing that AT&T and Verizon have indeed taken the next step to curtail tethering…Google thoughtfully put the ability in Froyo, and Android phone owners were quick to jump on it to avoid the monthly fees (typically $20-$30) that carriers charge for the service…it’s clear the tethering police are here to stay…They have the ability to determine when customers are using the free tethering in Android, and they are going to stop it when they detect it…Today I read through several Terms of Service (TOS) agreements that customers on carriers accept when they sign up, and found proof positive that carriers will never allow customers to do what they want with the data plan. These carrier agreements all have a clause buried in them that makes it clear that the carrier will monitor the data usage, and in cases they feel the customer is using more than her fair share can shut them off…even if the cap has not been breached by the customer…They are the tethering police, and they are kicking down the door as we speak.”

18. Smartphones Are Local Search and Shopping Devices http://gigaom.com/2011/04/26/smartphones-are-local-search-and-shopping-devices/ “…Google, Facebook, and Groupon — as well as a host of marketers, app makers and merchants — are…hot for smartphones…because they…unlock money-making opportunities…smartphone users…are often looking for something specific, and they’re ready to move quickly. That’s a huge opportunity for merchants…Nine out of 10 smartphone searches end in an action…search engines are the most commonly visited websites at 77 percent, ahead of social networking, retail and video sharing…The survey found 79 percent of respondents used their smartphones for shopping, and three out of four smartphone users made purchases either in store or online using their phones. Seven out of 10 smartphone users turn to their phones while shopping in a store, showing the phone is often in use from the time research begins until the moment a purchase is made…smartphone users spent a median of $300 on purchases in the past year through their smartphone…eBay said global mobile sales hit $2 billion last year…Scanbuy reported mobile barcode scanning activity was up 16x in 2010 over 2009. This also points to the growing importance of mobile payments…That’s what makes the smartphone so potent. It’s with people at all times…retailers, merchants and advertisers…need to optimize sites for mobile, make themselves visible to mobile phone users, consider launching mobile apps, and figure out how to engage this mobile audience…”

19. Android Outranks Apple in Desirability http://www.pcworld.com/article/226354/android_outranks_apple_in_desirability_and_thats_huge.html “…A new report from Nielsen…finds an interesting shift not just in smartphone market share but also in smartphone desirability…The change…is that Android has now surpassed iOS in terms of consumer desirability…The difference itself isn't enormous, mind…but what it represents is arguably quite large…31 percent of mobile consumers surveyed from January to March of this year said they wanted an Android device. That's up from 26 percent…in late 2010. Thirty percent…said they wanted an Apple mobile device…down from 33 percent in the late-2010 window…In all the months we've been measuring Android's astronomical rise, there have always been skeptical explanations…The most common comment I see is the "Android's only winning because it's cheap" theory…Nielsen's new study…lends credit to the notion that…plenty of folks pick Android phones for more than just their price. We're looking at desirability here…The "cool" factor…The stat fiends found a full half of people who bought a smartphone in the past six months went with Android. Only a quarter took the iPhone route…”

20. Smartphone Buyers Want Android, But Are Developers Shying Away? http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2384315,00.asp “…Looking at the installed smartphone user base…about 37 percent of smartphone users have an Android-powered device while 27 percent have an iPhone. About 22 percent own a BlackBerry…Nielsen's numbers, however, come the same week as a report from Appcelerator and IDC that found developer momentum shifting from Android to Apple. The report "shows that interest in Android has recently plateaued as concerns around fragmentation and disappointing results from early tablet sales have caused developers to pull back from their previous steadily increasing enthusiasm for Google's mobile operating system,"…About 91 percent of developers are "very interested" in iPhone development, while 86 percent said the same about the iPad. About 85 percent were interested in developing for Android phones and 71 percent wanted to develop for Android tablets…63 percent of developers said fragmentation poses the biggest risk to Android, followed by weak initial traction in tablets (30 percent), and multiple Android app stores (28 percent)…”

21. E-Readers Need Work Before Schools Toss Out Textbooks http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2384791,00.asp Makers of e-readers…have some work to do before the devices replace textbooks at universities, according to findings from a long-term study…There is no e-reader that supports what we found these students doing…Researchers at the University of Washington said that seven months into the study, less than 40 percent of the 39 first-year graduate students they monitored were regularly doing their academic reading using the Kindle DX—the e-reader used for the UW study…researchers also found that the Kindle DX "…disrupted a technique called cognitive mapping, in which readers used physical cues such as the location on the page and the position in the book to go back and find a section of text or even to help retain and recall the information they had read." Another "drawback…was the difficulty of switching between reading techniques…Most e-readers were designed for leisure reading—think romance novels on the beach," said study co-author Charlotte Lee, a UW assistant professor…"We found that reading is just a small part of what students are doing. And when we realize how dynamic and complicated a process this is, it kind of redefines what it means to design an e-reader…”

22. Barnes & Noble: Microsoft lawsuit is ‘scheme’ to kill Google Android http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/2011/04/27/barnes-noble-microsoft-lawsuit-is-scheme-to-kill-google-android/ “…Microsoft is misusing these patents as part of a scheme to try to eliminate or marginalize the competition to its own Windows Phone 7 mobile device operating system posed by the open source Android operating system and other open source operating systems,” B&N said in a court filing Monday. “Microsoft’s conduct directly harms both competition for and consumers of eReaders, smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile electronic devices, and renders Microsoft’s patents unenforceable.” Microsoft sued B&N and two Nook manufacturers (Foxconn and Inventec) last month over five patents the software giant says are being violated. The technology in question involves tabbed window navigation, Web-page loading and text selection on B&N’s Nook e-reader and Nook Color tablet…B&N denied all of Microsoft’s allegations, questioned the validity of Microsoft’s patents and demanded a jury trial in the federal case…B&N is standing up to Microsoft, which has admitted its preferred venue for fighting Android is the courtroom…”

23. Apple now world's second-largest buyer of accelerometers, gyroscopes, microphones http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/05/02/apple_now_worlds_second_largest_buyer_of_accelerometers_gyroscopes_microphones.html The multitude of sensors found in devices like the iPhone 4, iPad and iPod touch have made Apple the second-largest buyer of microelectromechanical sensors…Apple's purchases of MEMS sensors increased 116.7 percent in 2010 to $195 million, according to DigiTimes. MEMS sensors include the accelerometers, gyroscopes and microphones found in Apple's mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPad. Apple's purchases…pushed the iPhone maker ahead of Nintendo to make it the second-largest MEMS sensor purchaser last year. In fact, Apple is only $5 million behind Samsung, the largest purchaser…Much of the appeal of these products lies in their sophisticated user interfaces, which rely heavily on MEMS sensors, specifically accelerometers, gyroscopes and microphones…Starting…with the iPhone 4, Apple added a gyroscope to its iOS-powered devices, offering precise motion controls for applications and games. The three-axis gyroscopes are provided by STMicroelectronics. Apple has also put accelerometers in its iOS devices, and the iPod nano and its MacBook notebooks…”

Apps

24. What 44 Billion Mobile App Downloads by 2016 Means http://gigaom.com/mobile/what-44-billion-mobile-app-downloads-by-2016-means/ “…ABI Research reported Thursday that an estimated 44 billion mobile applications will be downloaded within the next five years…More than half of all phones sold in the U.S. last quarter were smartphones, for the first time ever…We’re in the midst of migrating many activities from desktop to mobile computing and also from heavy, full-featured software to task-based computing…Apps such as Seesmic, FiOS Mobile and Remember the Milk allow me to connect with people, devices or data over the web. And they do so in a fashion that’s generally more pleasing to use than a mobile site…I use an app for visual appeal and easier access to functionality, which means the software has transitioned my mobile web usage away from the browser…these apps are bite-sized, functional chunks of the mobile web. The small bits of software are designed specifically for mobile use…which brings a level of navigation and enjoyment not found in a browser. This task-based approach, and the large demand for apps that support it, underscore the challenge that new devices faces when entering the market…Building a great device that’s easy to use isn’t enough these days…although web apps can suffice in some cases, the promise of app-like features from HTML5 is still off in the distance…you can’t cram a desktop user interface into to a mobile device…”

25. Apple App Store will generate 75% of all app store revenue in 2011 http://thefonecast.com/News/tabid/62/EntryId/4087/Apple-App-Store-will-generate-three-quarters-of-all-application-store-revenue-this-year.aspx “…mobile application stores run by Apple, Google, Nokia and RIM will generate $3.91 billion worldwide…this year, an increase of 65.7% from 2010…Apple will be responsible for 75% of this…In 2008, the app market was worth just $207.33 million. These figures…are expected to double by the end of 2014 to $8.46 billion…Apple’s…App Store is still expected to have 60% market share in 2014…Android Market is predicted…overtaking Research In Motion and moving into second place. Android app revenue in 2011 is expected to increase…to $404.15 million…total number of downloaded applications this year is expected to reach 18.6 billion, almost double last year’s 9.5 billion…”

26. First Look: Google Docs App for Android, turns photos into editable documents http://gigaom.com/collaboration/first-look-google-docs-app-for-android/ My company has been using Google Apps for a few years now; it provides a simple way to collaborate on documents and spreadsheets…Google has now released a Google Docs app for Android to complement the web app. I’ve installed it…and it looks like it will be a useful tool, offering the ability to create, edit and collaborate on documents while on the go…Unfortunately, it can’t be moved to an SD card…you can edit it by clicking on the “Edit” button, which appears to take you to the mobile web version of Google Apps, but it’s so tightly integrated with the app that it’s hard to tell…Editing word processing documents is pretty easy…Editing spreadsheets is a bit trickier, but still reasonably easy to navigate…it’s fine for minor edits. The Google Docs app also lets users create documents from photos taken with the phone’s camera, and even tries to convert them into text using optical character recognition (OCR)…Unfortunately, the results were less than stellar…It’s hard to say whether Google’s OCR system is limited (although Simon has previously reported reasonably good results from using Google Docs OCR), or whether the photos my camera takes just aren’t good enough, but at least the Google Docs app also includes the original image in the document, so you can edit it manually as needed…I’m impressed with the app so far, with the exception of its OCR capabilities…”

27. Android Market #1 in free apps, on track to take Apple’s app crown by July http://news.cnet.com/8301-27076_3-20058080-248.html Apple frequently touts the number of applications available to iOS users, which now sits north of 350,000. But that number could be in danger of coming in second place to rival Google in just a few months…If all application stores maintain their current growth pace, approximately five months from now Google Android Market will be the largest store in terms of number of applications followed by the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad,..Google has already made headway on attacking Apple…pushing past the App Store with 134,342 free applications versus the App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch's 121,845 free applications…Google will be 40,000 applications short of evening out with Apple's overall volume by the end of June, and will catch up completely in July…Based on Distimo's data, books reign as the supreme category on the iPad as of the end of March, with 16,712 book applications. Games come a close second at 13,861 applications. From there it drops off to education, followed by entertainment and lifestyle applications…”

28. Amazon Uses Steve Jobs’ Own Words in Defense to Apple Lawsuit http://www.geekwire.com/2011/amazon-seeks-to-toss-apple-app-store-suit-cites-steve-jobs-in-its-defense Amazon.com today responded in court to Apple’s lawsuit over the name of its Android Appstore — calling the iPhone maker’s claim to the “App Store” trademark baseless, and pointing to a statement from Apple CEO Steve Jobs as one piece of evidence in its favor. The Seattle-based online retailer asked a federal judge in San Francisco to throw out Apple’s trademark suit, calling the phrase “app store” generic…Amazon points in part to comments by Steve Jobs last fall…Jobs referred repeatedly to “app stores,” in a generic sense…“So there will be at least four app stores on Android, which customers must search among to find the app they want and developers will need to work with to distribute their apps and get paid. This is going to be a mess for both users and developers. Contrast this with Apple’s integrated App Store, which offers users the easiest-to-use largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone…”

29. Android apps for photographers http://blog.worldlabel.com/2011/android-apps-for-photographers.html Your Android device is not only good for snapping photos and sharing them…Using the right apps, you can turn it into a handy photographic companion which can handle a wide range of photography-related tasks…the Golden Hour Photos app…can tell you precisely when the sun is slightly above or below the horizon and gives great light…for any day and any location, so you can plan your photographic trips accordingly. In addition to that, Golden Hour Photos provides an overview of relevant weather conditions such as cloud coverage and visibility…Depth of Field Calculator is another nifty utility which lets you calculate depth of field based on several parameters like camera model, aperture, focal length, and distance to the subject. This functionality can be useful especially when you work with macro photography…the PHOforPHO app offers a set of handy photographic features. It comes with its own hyperfocal distance and depth of field calculators, a tool for calculating EV value for multiple exposures (handy when taking multiple shots for producing an HDR image), and a dedicated exposure calculator…Similar to PHOforPHO, Photo Tools comes with a depth of field and hyperfocal distance calculator, a tool for calculating EV value for multiple exposures, and a location info tool. Photo Tools also includes the Blue & Golden Hour Calculator, so it can replace the Golden Hour Photos app…” [I especially like the ‘golden hour’ feature of two of these apps – ed.]

30. Apple, Android phone users are heaviest app downloaders http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/04/27/6543575-apple-android-phone-users-are-heaviest-app-downloaders iPhone owners have an average of 48 apps on their phones, and Android users, 35, making them the smartphone app kings…BlackBerry users have an average of 15 apps on their phones…As both an iPhone and BlackBerry owner, I know which phone I prefer to have apps on and which one is easier to use: Hands down, it's the iPhone…iPhone and Android users "use their apps more often: 68 percent of app downloaders with iPhones and 60 percent of those with Android phones reported using their mobile apps multiple times a day compared to 45 percent of app downloaders with Blackberry/RIM phones…Palm owners came in third, with 21 apps on their phones, followed by Windows Mobile users, with 17…Last year…the average number of apps on iPhones was 37; Android, 22; Palm, 14; Windows Mobile, 13; and BlackBerry, 10…Consumers with either iPhones or Android phones "represent the majority of the smartphone market in the U.S. and 74 percent of mobile app downloaders…”

Open Source

31. Open Source Robot, DARwIn-OP, Shows Off at RoboGames 2011 http://singularityhub.com/2011/04/28/open-source-robot-darwin-op-shows-off-at-robogames-2011-video/ “…The DARwIn line of humanoids was created by Dennis Hong’s RoMeLa group at Virginia Tech, but DARwIn-OP is open source and able to be improved by anyone…At the recent 2011 RoboGames in San Mateo, DARwIn-OP was on hand to showcase its soccer playing, as well as its many other skills…Notice how robust this little bot is, autonomously getting up from falls without any problems. It’s color and pattern recognition is also top notch…The retail cost of the bot (as sold by Robotis) is $12,000…with about a dozen universities using DARwIn-OP and sharing their innovations through open source code and CAD, the bot has made a very good start. As we’ve seen with…Willow Garage’s PR2, once you can get a diverse group of engineers working on the same platform there’s a lot of potential to accelerate the field of robotics…while DARwIn-OP isn’t using the same open source library as the PR2 (that being ROS) I think the two projects are simpatico. DARwIn-OP is a small scale walking humanoid for $12k while the PR2 is a full scale rolling humanoid for $400k…When you add in all the other great open source robots out there I think we’re seeing an expansion of the ecosystem that will be beneficial to everyone…”

32. Bellingham's LinuxFest Northwest http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/04/29/1990605/bellinghams-linuxfest-northwest.html It'll still have the robot demonstrations and Web developers talking about new software applications, but LinuxFest Northwest is adding a business component this year…The event is free and takes place 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 30 and May 1, at Bellingham Technical College. This year several of the sessions will include topics about how to turn a program idea into a business. It's an opportunity to take some of the enthusiasm generated at LinuxFest and apply it toward possible business ventures, said Dennis King, a shareholder of BIG Idea Lab, a Bellingham incubator for high-tech firms. "(Linux) gives more opportunities for people to take a great idea and develop it into a business," said King, noting that the free tools in the Linux operating system allows for inexpensive startups…”

33. Top 50 Portable Open Source Apps http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/osrc/article.php/3931816/Top-50-Portable-Open-Source-Apps.htm If you travel frequently, it can be frustrating to have to use a system that doesn’t have your favorite open source software already installed…many of the most popular open source applications come in portable versions that you can take with you on a USB thumb drive or other portable media…These apps can run from any portable device (a thumb drive, CD, DVD, portable hard drive or other device) without needing to be installed directly on the hard drive of the system you're using. They also don't leave behind any files on the host system, and they don't interfere with other software installed on that system…we've compiled some of the best portable open source applications available. Some of these were originally designed by the project owner to be portable. Others are open source applications that have been re-packaged for portability by a third party. Several groups, notably PortableApps.com and winPenPack, have created suites of portable open source applications. Others offer directories with many individual portable apps…”

34. We need a GitHub of Science http://marciovm.com/i-want-a-github-of-science Publishing is central to Academia, but its publishing system is outclassed by what Open Source software developers have in GitHub. GitHub's success is not just about openness, but also a prestige economy that rewards valuable content producers with credit and attention. Open Science efforts like arXiv and PLoS ONE should follow GitHub's lead and embrace the social web…my academic department is currently running a junior faculty search…I’ll receive each candidate’s application packet…The presence of a first-author article in the ultra-prestigious academic journals Science or Nature would all but guarantee an offer…To anyone involved in academia, this overwhelming focus on publications is a given…But at the beginning of an academic’s career, before citations accumulate, reputation rests largely on what journals they have published in…Scientists make a big deal of peer-review, because it is supposed to be the filter that separates mere opinions from trusted, citable sources. However, the peer-review process in science has close analogs in any "old-media" field…Selecting content worthy enough for distribution is made by the field's establishment, which effectively silences what they don't choose…Because publishing affects scientists so deeply, the strengths and weaknesses of this system inevitably affect the makeup and character of science as a whole…is there a better way?...My latest project, Instant Q&A for Physician Communities, relies heavily on open source code and led me to GitHub and Git…a distributed version control system…GitHub is a cloud service that hosts over 1 million Git repositories. Since its launch in 2008, GitHub has quickly become the de facto platform for publishing open source code…How has GitHub become so successful?...I believe it represents a demonstrably superior way of distributing validated knowledge than academic publishing…Scientists never begin a research project from an intellectual vacuum. They stand on the shoulders of giants, building on the knowledge contained in previous publications to form a new, coherent finding…GitHub has evolved to solve the same general problem that scientific publishing does: making modular, validated units of knowledge easily usable by a global community, with mechanisms that efficiently allocate prestige to proven contributors. GitHub has the advantage of doing this with 21st century technology, the social web, while academic publishing is based on the printing press…anyone can publish a gem to GitHub, and published gems are prioritized by the numbers of developers “watching” for updates or “forking ” new development lines. This is the social web at work, where the audience gets to decide what and whom to pay attention to…One can complain that lowering barriers to publication leads to content that on average is of lower quality. But the abundance of non-significant projects in GitHub does not detract from its usability…Gems on GitHub are not just code. They also have authors whose relative contributions are automatically catalogued by Git…GitHub profiles are supplanting traditional resume items, such as a CS degree, for discerning employers looking to hire top talent…current Open Science efforts that ask scientists to “share all your data” have not become mainstream, because they do not appropriately reward knowledge producers. They are all free-distribution and no prestige…Evangelists for Open Science should focus on promoting new, post-publication prestige metrics that will properly incentivize scientists to focus on the utility of their work…there are fundamental differences between publishing software code and publishing science. Copying code results in an exact replica and does not affect the original. By contrast, duplicating a research finding may require significant expenses just to recreate experimental conditions…PLoS is at the cutting edge of both open-access and rethinking the functions of a journal. PLoS One comes closest to what I am describing, in that their peer-review process screens only for scientific rigour, not perceived impact, meaning they will publish content considered unsexy and let future citations determine importance. But they have not yet embraced the social web…We need a social network of science, meaning scientific bundles of knowledge must be structured and accessible by API…In 2004, as an undergrad, I spent a summer writing Python code to download and analyze all existing RCSB structures…Open-sourcing and publishing that code might have saved someone’s time, spurred new thinking, or at the very least marked a tangible reward for my work…That idea did not even occur to me, because I was not a good enough programmer to know about SourceForge, a less-social precursor to GitHub, so the code went nowhere…”

35. An In-Depth Interview With Dries http://drupalwatchdog.com/1/1/an-indepth-interview-with-dries Drupal is developed by thousands and used by millions of people around the world, powering a diverse range of web sites. It continues to grow rapidly in popularity. In this interview, I visit with Drupal's creator, Dries Buytaert, who tells how Drupal evolved over the past ten years out of a simple message board written in a college dormitory in Belgium. He discusses how his company, Acquia, has impacted his ability to focus on Drupal, weighs in on some of the new features in Drupal 7, and looks toward the next decade of progress…Dries was on a Drupal tour in Australia, calling from a hotel room in Sidney. For Dries, trips like this are becoming more and more common, allowing him to meet an increasing number of the people all over the globe using and developing Drupal. He listens to success stories and challenges faced in adopting or migrating to Drupal. “It helps me as the project lead to talk to as many Drupal people as I can…”

SkyNet

36. Standard Google Chrome web browser now supports speech input http://liliputing.com/2011/04/google-chrome-web-browser-now-supports-speech-input-using-html5.html Last month Google rolled out a…beta version of the…Chrome web browser with support for speech input through HTML5, allowing you to use your voice to interact with web pages…Google has moved the feature from the beta channel to the stable channel..that means if you loaded the browser today, you probably have the new feature…why would you want speech input for a web site? In a word: translation…Google has added speech input to the web version of Google Translate, which means you can speak in English (…or another language) into your computer’s microphone, press a button, and convert your words into another language. Hello universal translator. That feature has been available for Android and iOS…but it’s pretty awesome to be able to use it in any web browser. I can also imagine speech input coming in handy for web sites that provide maps, navigation, music jukebox, or VoIP functionality.”

37. Google Apps For Business drops freemium max down to 10 http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2011/04/helping-small-businesses-start-and.html Google Apps launched five years ago…Small businesses in particular often ask us to make Apps easier to adopt and manage…for customers who sign up online we’re adding the Flexible Plan, a new $5 per user per month pricing option which requires no contractual commitment…we’re eliminating upfront payments for new customers to make it easier for them to manage their cash flow. Whether they choose the Flexible or Annual Plan, customers will pay at the end of each month…Starting on May 10, new organizations (excluding schools and non-profits) with more than 10 users will need to sign up for our paid service…Only new customers will be impacted; existing Google Apps customers can expand beyond 10 users (up to a maximum of 50) at no additional charge, and we’ll continue to offer Google Apps for free to groups with 10 users or fewer. Schools and non-profits that qualify for Google Apps for Education will not be affected…” http://newsgrange.com/google-apps-gets-5-monthly-plans-but-also-introduces-stricter-limits-on-free-business-accounts/ “…The good news: business users won’t have to prepay for a whole year anymore. Google’s new flexible plan gives company’s the option to pay $5 per month per user without any contractual commitments. Google will continue to offer annual plans for $50 per year. When it first launched, Google Apps was available for free at no cost to organizations of any size. The first paid version of Google Apps – Google Apps Premier – launched in 2007 and introduced a 99.9% uptime promise and 24/7 tech support. Since the launch of this paid version, Google has slowly brought the amount of users business could add to their free accounts down – first to 200, then 50 and now 10…” [moral of this NEW NET item: if you have a small business with ten employees or less, sign up now for a free Google Apps For Business account, and when other freemium web services launch that might be useful, register for an account with them early on. – ed.]

38. Google Traffic to Demand Media Sites Down 40 Percent http://blogs.forbes.com/jeffbercovici/2011/04/25/google-traffic-to-demand-media-sites-down-40-percent/ “…Google’s recent algorithm overhaul is doing exactly what it was meant to do: Traffic from the search engine to websites operated by content farms is way, way down. The update, nicknamed Panda, was meant to prevent publishers that mass-produce shoddy, shallow articles from driving them to the top of Google search results using the tricks of search engine optimization (SEO)…Hitwise looked at downstream traffic from Google — ie. what sites do users surf to next after visiting Google.com. In the first two weeks of January, 0.57 percent of those who departed Google next visited a site operated by Demand Media, the best known of the content farms. That proportion hovered at 0.55 percent through the last week of February, when the initial Panda changes took effect…by mid-April, with the full suite of Panda updates in place, Demand was feeling the pain. As of April 16, it accounted for only 0.34 percent of Google’s downstream, a 40 percent decline from the start of 2011…”

39. Google Experimenting With Voice Search on Google.com http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_experimenting_with_voice_search_on_googleco.php Google is allowing some users to search the web by voice on their desktop browsers…Selected users are shown a little grey microphone at the end of the search box…Voice search may or may not come to the desktop browser version of Google beyond this experiment, but it would good for Google's long term interests if it did…Voice search on the desktop could change the nature of peoples' search queries and provide a lot more speech data for Google to analyze and learn from…Most readers here may be able to type as fast or nearly as fast as they can speak…but I imagine that's not the case for the vast majority of Google users. Most peoples' search queries are classically short and crude, generally 3 words or less; in many cases that may be because people simply grew tired of struggling to type. Web search by voice, in the comfort of your own home, could be a very different search experience for millions of people…that could be a big boost to the company's efforts to develop deep artificial intelligence and an understanding of the meaning in free-form text…”

40. Google Summer of Code 2011; 1,116 students, $6+ million http://ostatic.com/blog/googles-summer-of-code-2011-includes-many-ambitious-projects “…Google's Summer of Code event helps foster hundreds of interesting open source projects driven by students who are helped by mentoring organizations. For Summer of Code 2011, Google has announced its list of accepted projects…Google will also inject more than $6 million of support for the open source ecosystem through this year's Summer of Code…Google chips in $5,550 per student, with $5,000 going to the student and $500 going to the mentoring organization. For 2011, Google has announced that 1,116 students that will be participating…helping out 175 mentoring organizations…Google's Summer of Code 2011 effort will inject $6.14 million…in the open source ecosystem." Each year, the financial backing for Summer of Code gets bigger. You can find the full list of accepted projects here. The projects include creations for KDE and GNOME, and a number of Linux-focused ideas. There are animation systems, applications for smartphones and tablets, and much more…”

41. Google Acquires TalkBin, A Feedback Platform For Businesses That’s Only Five Months Old http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/25/google-acquires-talkbin-a-feedback-platform-for-businesses-thats-only-five-months-old/ “…YC alum TalkBin has just announced that it’s been acquired by Google — less than five months after the company was founded. TalkBin offers a platform that lets customers give immediate feedback to local businesses (users submit their opinions and critiques via mobile applications, and it looks like the businesses can read and respond to them from a web app)…” http://37signals.com/svn/posts/2883-exit-interview-jaikus-jyri-engestrm Jaiku was not much more than a year old when we were acquired. It was like hitching a ride on a firecracker!” says Jyri Engeström, co-founder of Jaiku. “I poured my heart and soul into designing the service with our small team,” he says of the microblogging tool similar to Twitter. “As a sociologist I was convinced microblogging had the power to change society (see Egypt) — and I thought we would keep building the company for a long time…in October 2007, Jaiku agreed to a sale to Google (rumored purchase price: $12 million). At the time, Engeström (right) and co-founder Petteri Koponen wrote, “Our engineers are excited to be working together [with Google] and enthusiastic developers lead to great innovation. We look forward to accomplishing great things together…We joined Google with the assumption we’d build a new, more scalable service that would be tightly integrated with a small project called Android…I was convinced microblogging was the defining social innovation of the decade…so it was exciting to…have Google’s near-infinite engineering resources behind us to meet the exploding demand.” Industry insiders also felt the prospects for the collaboration were bright. RWW’s Marshall Kirkpatrick wrote…Jaiku is probably a superior service to Twitter.”…But after the purchase, Jaiku was closed to new users and quickly slipped into “the Google black hole,”…David Lawee, the Google Vice President in charge of acquisitions, told Manjoo that moving a new company onto Google’s systems takes 3-6 months and enables scaling…Then, in January of 2009, Google’s Vic Gundotra announced changes to Jaiku: “We are in the process of porting Jaiku over to Google App Engine. After the migration is complete, we will release the new open source Jaiku Engine project on Google Code under the Apache License…Google will no longer actively develop the Jaiku codebase…Engeström’s view of the open source move now: “Jaiku was open sourced and put on life support so we could focus on building a new product…Members of the original Jaiku team, myself included, eventually left Google because we were all frustrated by these events…Engeström sees lessons on both sides of the deal. “It shows how hard it is for a company that starts with a product, a way of doing things, and a culture, to change when the world around them changes,” he explains. “Google rightly saw social coming fast in the rear view mirror, but even with the acquisitions, 20% time, etc., it has been hard for them to change who they are…being a small fish at Google doomed Jaiku. “I personally learned a huge lesson, which was that being acquired by the market leader can be a kiss of death to a startup. If the acquirer is at the height of their power and you are still regarded as small and insignificant, they will find it incredibly difficult to change their ways — even if they are the smartest people in the world and your product represents a disruptive force to their business in the long run…”

General Technology

42. Joi-ning the MIT Media Lab http://joi.ito.com/weblog/2011/04/25/joining-the-mit.html “…In November of last year, I was attending Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford…where a bunch of folks from Silicon Valley go to Oxford to hang out with entrepreneurs, students and others…Megan Smith, one of the coolest people I know, was there and we were talking…Suddenly, Megan said, "Would you be interested in being the Director of the MIT Media Lab?...I answered, "Umm. Yeah, of course!" Megan smiled and immediately started tapping into her phone…Several months later, I found myself at the front entrance of MIT Building E14…As I walked into the building, I felt like a pilgrim from the Middle Ages entering a cathedral. I was in awe and a bit of shock…After a day of non-stop meetings with a bunch of the faculty and students, I realized that I'd found my tribe. Everyone was super-smart, driven, working on very cool stuff. They weren't afraid to try anything…the Media Lab…created a power to think long-term with agility that I'd never seen anywhere else. People talked matter-of-factly about getting sensors from this lab, maybe we need a tissue scientist, and robots from that lab, and visualization from this lab to take this research in this other direction…John Seely Brown often talks about "The Power of Pull"…instead of stocking assets and resources, we should pull them, as we need them…Instead of planning every detail, one could embrace serendipity and chart a general trajectory…In the past 25 years, the Lab helped to create a digital revolution -- a revolution that is now over. We are a digital culture…One of my missions will be to integrate my network with the Media Lab…For those of you who aren't sponsors of the Lab, I urge you to come visit and hang out and consider joining the team…” http://bostinnovation.com/2011/04/25/mit-media-lab-names-japanese-vc-joichi-ito-as-new-director/ “…Joichi Ito (Joi) will be the fourth director of the MIT Media Lab. Joi is an extremely well respected Japanese Venture Capitalist who has made a number of high profile investments in companies like Flickr, Last.fm, Kickstarter and Twitter. He has also served as a board member of Icann, the Internet’s governance organization and helped establish the first commercial Internet service provider in Japan. Joi is also recognized as one of the world’s leading thinkers and writers on innovation, global technology policy, and the role of the Internet in transforming society…” http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/26695/ “……” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/science/26lab.html “…Directing the Media Lab is an alluring challenge because of the potential of blending the longer term focus of university research and development efforts with the agility and risk-taking approach of Silicon Valley start-ups, Mr. Ito said. “You embrace serendipity and you pivot as you go along this longer term arc. That’s the way I have lived my life…Mr. Ito, who maintains a home outside of Tokyo, became a resident of Dubai at the end of 2008 to gain a better understanding of the Middle East…Last year he traveled about 230 days…Mr. Ito first attended Tufts where he briefly studied computer science but wrote that he found it drudge work. Later he attended the University of Chicago where he studied physics, but once again found it stultifying. He later wrote of his experience: “I once asked a professor to explain the solution to a problem so I could understand it more intuitively. He said, ‘You can’t understand it intuitively. Just learn the formula so you’ll get the right answer.’ That was it for me…”

43. 5 Robots That Can Help Make the Planet Greener http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/earth-day-5-robots-that-can-help-make-the-planet-greener “…robots, like all technologies, are not a panacea. More automation could mean less carbon emissions and less waste, but it could also mean the opposite…Below I'm listing five robotic technologies that could potentially help to make the planet greener…1. Recycling robots. Waste is a…hugely inefficient process screaming for more automation…we need much better recycling bots…2. Telepresence robots. Air travel is…costly…Now there's another option: telepresence robots…You embody a robot, controlled over the Net, that acts as your proxy at a remote location…3. Harvesting robots. Agriculture has become highly industrialized…robots could replace some of today's…practices with more efficient ones…and…make crops more sustainable…How harvesting robots would impact labor is another issue…3. Personal mobility vehicles…using a car to drive for short distances is very wasteful…Enter the personal mobility vehicle -- a small machine designed to take a single person for short rides…these vehicles will play an important role in reducing our dependence on cars…5. Autonomous cars…We're not just talking about driverless cars, vans, and even buses…we also need smarter cars that interact with each other and the road…”

DHMN Technology

44. Tweenbots Now on Kickstarter http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/diy/tweenbots-now-on-kickstarter “…Tweenbots are little robots that are designed to do two things: look cute, and drive in a straight line. They're released into the wilds of public places, where they rely entirely on the kindness of human strangers to get them to the destination that they have written on a flag. If somebody told me that people would be this kind to a helpless little robot, I wouldn't have believed them, but boy was I wrong... Just watch the video, and if you've seen it before, watch it again, because it'll make you smile…I very much want one…thanks to Kickstarter, mass production of Tweenbots is a real possibility... Kacie Kinzer needs $35k to make it happen, mostly because the Tweenbots need custom-made motor assemblies. A mere $65 will get you your own Tweenbots kit when they become available…” [if you think Tweenbots are cool and a worthwhile tech project, go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kaciekinzer/build-your-own-tweenbot today and make a pledge to help fund the project – ed.]

45. Can Hobbyists and Hackers Transform Biotechnology? http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/37444/ For most of us, managing our health means visiting a doctor…Biohackers are on a mission to change all that. These do-it-yourself biology hobbyists want to bring biotechnology out of institutional labs and into our homes…In Biopunk, journalist Marcus Wohlsen surveys the rising tide of the biohacker movement, which has been made possible by a convergence of better and cheaper technologies…Wohlson discovers that biohackers, like the open-source programmers and software hackers who came before, are united by a profound idealism. They believe in the power of individuals as opposed to corporate interests, in the wisdom of crowds as opposed to the single-mindedness of experts, and in the incentive to do good for the world as opposed to the need to turn a profit. Suspicious of scientific elitism and inspired by the success of open-source computing, the bio DIYers believe that individuals have a fundamental right to biological information, that spreading the tools of biotech to the masses will accelerate the pace of progress…” http://ostatic.com/blog/episurveyor-and-the-call-for-open-source-mobile-healthcare-applications “…EpiSurveyor…an open source tool designed to allow anyone in the world to create handheld data entry forms, use them to collect data on mobile devices, and transfer the data to other devices for analysis…it's widely used in public health efforts all around the world, for disease surveillance and collecting public health data…the Lemelson-MIT Program has announced that Selanikio is the recipient of its 2009 $100,000 Award for Sustainability for his contributions to public health…As people all around the world increasingly tote mobile devices, their smartphones…become increasingly potentially potent as data collection devices, and collecting health data is a good application of this concept…the open source community could have a big impact on the new wave of "doctor apps" for mobile devices. When Apple showed off its early version of the iPhone 3.0 operating system recently, it also showed applications designed to monitor the blood pressure and glucose levels of iPhone owners, and send the data off to remote doctors. Many more of these applications are on the way…”

46. A digital music teacher of his own A-chord http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42707781/ns/technology_and_science-innovation/ “…Andrew Garza of the University of Illinois, Chicago built a digital device designed to conduct…guitar lessons for him. By lacing a guitar's fret board with LEDs that signal exactly where to place one's fingers to play a chord, Garza managed to hack his way to righteous shredding. Named the "GuitArduino" after the Arduino microcontroller that coordinates the LEDs, Garza's invention comes preprogrammed with all the major and minor chords on a guitar, as well as two different finger positions for each. Garza designed the GuitArduino as the final project in his engineering degree…"I just thought of it one day, and that was it. I love guitar, and I love electronics, and I figured I might as well combine them," Garza told InnovationNewsDaily…The GuitArduino distinguishes itself from other digital guitar teachers by functioning totally independently from a personal computer. Users input the chords from the song they want to learn directly into the GuitArduino's digital interface. The gadget's onboard computer then causes the LEDs mounted under the fret board to cycle though the chords. This visual aid allows the user to concentrate on finger placement, learning the song as they follow along with the lights…check out the below video…Garza hopes to add pressure-sensitive feedback and adjustable speed to future versions. "The only people I’ve shown it to are my roommates, and they got a kick out of it. I only finished it last week, and I’m excited to show it to more people at the (engineering student senior project) expo…”

47. Music with the Mind: The Brain-Computer-Music-Interface http://www.gizmag.com/music-with-the-mind-brain-computer-music-interface/18489/ Imagine a Wii that lets you play a musical instrument with your brain without touching strings or a keyboard. That's exactly what this "proof of concept" brain-computer-music-interface (BCMI) is designed to do – it uses brain waves and eye movement to sound musical notes…the BCMI can be set up on a laptop computer for under $3,500 (including the computer). For people who are disabled, assistive technology usually aims at day-to-day functioning and largely ignores the unique aspect of being a human – creativity. This is different…imagine a car crash or a stroke left you totally paralyzed and your only active movements were eye movements, facial gestures and minimal head movements. If you still retain full cognitive capacity, you would have what is called locked-in syndrome, a fate some might regard worse than death…Historically, assistive technologies have relied on the person being able to maneuver at least one part of their body…Most of the technology has been simply passing them by. Technology in the form of the brain computer interface (BCI) provides hope for these and many other people…In the past decade this technology has moved increasingly from fantasy into a reality…we have moved from driving wheelchairs with brainwaves to driving a car controlled by mind power…the brain computer musical interface promises to enhance life immensely for those with a most severe disability, locked-in syndrome…Using brainwaves a person can almost immediately produce a full range of musical notes from this device by simply looking intently at one of four icons. These four icons are responsible for sounding pitch, rhythm, and controlling the strength and speed of the notes…With minimal practice in this proof of concept test, the person with locked-in syndrome rapidly demonstrated skill at playing and found it an enjoyable experience. Check out what such a device can do when output from it is hooked into a piano keyboard. A practiced person has the potential to play masterful music using nothing but his or her brainwaves…until now, these technologies largely ignored the most unique aspect of being a human – creativity…It's in our nature to create. The BCMI promises to give a whole new medium for creativity because it can be used by anyone almost regardless of any physical disability…”

48. Sony: Android and Nvidia go together http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-20058114-64.html Sony's adoption of Nvidia silicon for its upcoming Android tablets makes the graphics chip supplier--at least for the time being--the hardware standard for the Android tablet world…For the tablet platform, we're standardizing on Android 3.0 and Nvidia's Tegra 2," said Kunimasa Suzuki, a senior vice president at Sony…after Sony unveiled two Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" tablets on Tuesday. One has a 9.4-inch (1280-by-800) display and front and rear cameras, while the other is "foldable" and uses two 5.5-inch displays. Both tablets, due in the fall, will run Android 3.0 on top of Nvidia's Tegra 2 processor…others, including Toshiba, have similar Honeycomb-Nvidia tablets on the way…Google's endorsement of--and standardization on--Nvidia's Tegra technology early on before Android 3.0 was finalized for the Motorola Xoom has probably been the biggest factor in making Nvidia's chip, practically speaking, the only choice right now for Honeycomb. That said, Nvidia is not Intel. And this is not the PC industry where there is one dominant player. Large chip companies like Texas Instruments and Qualcomm also make processors based on the ARM architecture. Those chips can--and do--run Android…”

Leisure & Entertainment

49. Why the Kinect Connected With Game Players http://spectrum.ieee.org/podcast/geek-life/tools-toys/why-the-kinect-connected-with-game-players “…Microsoft sold 10 million units of its new Kinect in three months…the Kinect is by far the fastest-selling consumer product of all time…Apple sold 3.3 million iPads in its first 90 days, one-third as many as Kinect…The way the Kinect has connected with gamers is quite an achievement for a company better known for its software than hardware…Microsoft…quietly employs 850 Ph.D.s, from software engineers to sociologists, in labs in six countries on three continents. Apple, by contrast, invests no money at all in basic research. For the original iPod, for example, product designers and engineers there combined a 1.8-inch hard drive invented by Toshiba, a scroll wheel invented by Synaptics, software from one tiny company, and an interface largely designed by another. The reason companies like Apple don’t put money into basic research is that the technology breakthroughs that come out of research labs often benefit competitors almost as much as they do the companies that do the work…My guest today is Alex Kipman…the general manager of incubation for the Xbox and…a key member of the Kinect development team…he’s the holder of more than 60 patents and an IEEE member…With Kinect, you can really just step in front of the sensor, and as soon as you do the sensor recognizes you; it knows the difference between you, your loved ones, and your family. As you start moving, it understands your body movement…Finally, we have voice recognition, so that if you see something, you can just say it…We have several eyes—some that see in color, some that see in the infrared range so that we can see in ambient light in variant ways. We don’t care if it’s brightly lit or a superdark environment; we still see through appropriately. And we have four microphones that serve as ears so that we can appropriately position sounds from different sound sources, different mouths in the room…there’s a lot of ambient noise including loud noises coming out of speakers, and we can still break through all of that noise and focus on the signal of the people speaking…what would you say are the key technologies that came out of the research organization?...voice recognition: There exists no system before Kinect whereby you don’t have to push a button to talk. If you think about your phone, if you think about cars that have voice recognition, if you think about voice recognition on a PC, these are usually systems where you need to press a button before the system starts listening to you. In our case, there are no buttons, there are no controllers; the system is listening to you 100 percent of the time…” [like Robert Heinlein’s Athena and Minerva – ed.]

50. PopCap's newest game designer: 9-year-old Owain Weinert http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2011/04/PopCaps-newest-video-game-designer.html “…unlike most other nine-year-olds…Owain just spent a week architecting a video game in the Seattle offices of gaming company PopCap Games, maker of the popular Bejeweled and Plants and Zombies…In March of 2010, Owain was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia…The week was granted on behalf of the Make-a-Wish Foundation…Over the last few weeks, the team at PopCap has worked with Owain to create Allied Star Police, a real-time strategy game, completely of Owain's design…Owain is an articulate and energetic fourth grader -- when he arrived at his first meeting with the PopCap team, armed with a clear vision of his game laid out in a PowerPoint, producer Kirk Scott said the team was blown away…he came in and was using terminology that we use every day to make games."…the group of artists, programmers and developers was only going to spend a week on the game design, but Scott said the team was so excited about the project, they asked for extra time. PopCap now plans to release Allied Star Police to the App Store in the coming months…Owain's dad Alex Weinert, a program manager in Microsoft's Xbox division, said…"As much as he puts a brave face on it, (the illness has) been one hell of a ride," he said. "The day after the release party, he was in the hospital getting chemo…and, at one point things weren’t going too well…So I pulled up the Q13 video of the party on my laptop, which he hadn’t seen, and it was like the best pain medicine ever…"I have to say, my brother's addicted to it, my dad’s addicted to it and so am I," said Owain. "When this thing comes out, it’s going to be the next big hit after Bejeweled or Plants and Zombies!…”

51. Self-publishing: Its pros and cons http://www.riverfallsjournal.com/event/article/id/98490/ “…Thirty years ago, I wrote a little book…I self-published at a time when it wasn’t too common…Turns out I was on the cutting edge. I recently learned that in 2007, 134,000 books were self-published in the United States. In 2008, 285,000 hit the bookstalls. And in 2009, 764,000 books were self-published in the U.S. Meanwhile, conventional publishing was flat, without 250,000 titles published two years ago…my wife and I served on the faculty at the Sixth Annual Writer’s Workshop and Literary Festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico…One of my favorite speakers was red-hot literary agent Kristin Nelson, who spoke on the subject of what publishing would be like five years from now…As for self-publishing, Nelson said go right ahead. But also know getting the book written and printed…is the least of your worries. Selling the book is the hard part…Nelson was especially interesting when she talked about the Kindle and its effect on sales. It wasn’t such a big deal, she said, when Kindles cost $400 per unit. Now that the prices have dropped precipitously, its effect on the market is very noticeable…one of her clients who made it to the bestseller lists typically sold 15,000 copies per month. Once the price of Kindle hit an all-time low, sales jumped to 25,000 copies per month…she concluded that in five years books will still be around, but the nature of publishing will be very different from the good old days…many authors asked Nelson, who has sold 100 books since she became an agent, what she looks for in a book. She wisely said she really had no idea…”

52. Cheapest E-Books Upend the Charts http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703838004576274813963609784.html The nation's largest book publishers are facing increasing pricing pressure on the digital front as the number of cheap, self-published digital titles gain popularity with readers…Amazon.com Inc.'s top 50 digital best-seller list featured 15 books priced at $5 or less on Wednesday afternoon. Louisville businessman John Locke, for example, a part-time thriller writer whose signature series features a former CIA assassin, claimed seven of those titles, all priced at 99 cents…They're training their customers away from brand name authors and are instead creating visibility for self-published titles," one senior publishing executive…says of Amazon…publishers are casting a worried eye towards the previously scorned self-published market. Unlike five years ago, when self-published writers rarely saw their works on the same shelf as the industry's biggest names, the low cost of digital publishing, coupled with Twitter and other social-networking tools, has enabled previously unknown writers to make a splash. The issue of pricing has been paramount since Amazon launched its Kindle e-reader in November 2007…Initially publishers sold their e-books at wholesale prices to Amazon, which then offered the e-book at the discounted price. The country's six largest publishers…subsequently embraced the so-called agency model in which they set the retail prices of their e-books. On Wednesday, many of the Kindle best-sellers offered by these major firms cost between $11.99 and $14.99. Amazon says its studies have shown that digital titles sold by publishers using agency pricing aren't showing the same rate of unit growth as books that Amazon can discount. "The publishers showing the fastest growth are the ones where we set the prices," says Russell Grandinetti, Amazon's vice president for Kindle content…”

53. A YouTube for Writers? http://www.koreaittimes.com/story/14379/youtube-writers Everyone loves to hear the inspiring stories of people discovering fame after receiving several viewer hits on YouTube; this is great for those who have a talent in music, animation, or some other audio and visual method. However, it does not do much for those who are talented in writing - unless somehow portions of stories are re-enacted in visually appealing ways…Book Country, started by the makers of Penguin - a book publisher -, started its site with this intent: get works out there so that there are more possibilities for people to meet their writing dreams…Book Country is providing as many tools to writers as possible; it allows writers to publish a small portion of their works - approximately a chapter - so that other members can review it and give writers feedback. It also lets users contact other users that are specifically interested in the genre of the writing…Book Country hopes that it will be able to attract publishers that are searching for talent…Book Country allows users to self-publish for a small fee…Although the ultimate dream would be to be recruited, Book Country gives further tools in case writers need to take this bumpy road alone…there is guides on how to self-promote/market, find an agent, review rights, and how to use social media as a tool. After review of the website, it is obvious that Book Country is organized with the intent to make users succeed…”

54. Minecraft Mod Developer Accounts On The Way, Free To Sign Up http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/34292/Minecraft_Mod_Developer_Accounts_On_The_Way_Free_To_Sign_Up.php Minecraft developer Mojang today announced its intent to introduce a licensing deal that will allow mod developers to download the source code for the game…Markus "Notch" Persson explained that players will be given the chance to sign up for a 'mod developer' account. Mod developers will received a unique certificate for signing their mods, so that players will be able to see which individual developers made each mod…The terms also note that, "We retain the right to use your mod idea and implement it ourselves in Minecraft. This is to prevent the situation where we have to avoid adding a feature just because there’s a mod out there that does something similar. It’s also great for dealing with bug fixes provided by the community."…Originally, the modding license was going to cost money, but after a spot of confusion from the community, Persson quickly changed his mind and decided to make the mod API access free. "In the long term, we hope this means people will do awesome new things with the Minecraft engine and play around with it," he said…”

Economy and Technology

55. I am starting a company in Chile http://amix.dk/blog/post/19617 “…I will…participate in Start-Up Chile this June…I'll cover why I think this is an amazing opportunity…I have chosen to participate with Wedoist — which until now has mostly been a side-project that I have worked on in my spare time. Wedoist is out and you can try it out…this minimal release of Wedoist is growing, has thousands of users and is already profitable…My first startup Plurk.com is a top 1000 site in the world…I want to change how people collaborate and improve productivity and communication for the better…Here are my main reasons why I have chosen to participate in Start-Up Chile and not in one of the many bootstrap programs in Europe and US: the program is backed by the Chilean government and seems to be very professionally run…each startup receives $40.000 USD subsidy (no equity)…Chile has one of the best economies in Latin America and one of the fastest growing economies in the world — which means they must be doing something right and I want to explore their society and culture more…I can connect with some of the best entrepreneurs and hackers — not just Chilean, but from around the world since this is a global program…being in Latin America while working on a startup sounds like quite a deal…”

56. Visa Invests in Square http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/apr2011/tc20110427_640203.htm Visa, the world's biggest electronic-payment network, has invested in Square, maker of credit-card readers used with smartphones…a Visa executive will become a strategic adviser to Square, and the two companies will team up in areas that may include international expansion…The alliance may help Visa strengthen ties with local merchants that are increasingly turning to simple mobile devices such as those from Square to process payments. Payments made via smartphone credit-card readers may rise to $55 billion by 2015, from $11 billion this year…Square…is adding about 100,000 local merchants a month…In the first three months of this year, the company processed $66 million in payments…it expects to triple that amount in the current quarter…”

57. Square To Beef Up Card Reader Security This Summer http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/28/square-to-beef-up-card-reader-security-this-summer-and-verifone-wasnt-so-wrong-after-all/ “…Square will be releasing a new card reader…this summer, and it will use encryption at the read head…last month, rival (and much larger) payments company VeriFone…said that Square should recall all of its readers because they didn’t encrypt credit card data, making it easy for thieves to skim the information. Square CEO Jack Dorsey…outlined all the ways that credit card fraud could still be committed, regardless of encryption…Square COO Keith Rabois writes that the company will be adopting Visa’s new set of mobile application best practices…among these best practices is a requirement that these applications “encrypt all account data including at the card-reader level and in transmission between the acceptance device and the processor…what does that mean for the hundreds of thousands of existing Square card readers?...Rabois said that Square is still more secure than the vast majority of card readers in the field…even if Square does wind up having to distribute a new batch of readers, the relatively inexpensive per-unit cost probably won’t have a major impact on them…”

58. eBay’s PayPal Buys Mobile Payments Startup Fig Card http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/28/ebays-paypal-buys-mobile-payments-startup-fig-card/ “…PayPal…bought mobile payments startup FigCard…Fig Card allows merchants to accept mobile payments in stores by using a simple USB device that plugs into the cash register or point-of-sale terminal. All the consumer needs is the Fig app on his or her smart phone. The connection with PayPal is that when consumers setup their payment information, they could add PayPal as a payments option…Prior to founding Fig, Metral was co-founder and CTO of Firefly, which was sold to Microsoft. He also went on to architect sign-on system Microsoft Passport…mobile and online to offline is a big part of eBay’s strategy both for its marketplace and PayPal business…PayPal…is looking to connect with local merchants…bringing them a PayPal-focused point of sale system could help them compete with emerging technologies like NFC, Square and others…”

59. Intuit’s GoPayment Cuts Transaction Fees http://techcrunch.com/2011/05/01/intuits-gopayment-cuts-transaction-fees-pricing-now-more-in-line-with-square/ Inuit’s GoPayment reader, which competes directly with Square, is about to become more attractive to small businesses today. The company…dropped the transaction fee ($0.15 per transaction) for both new and existing customers…GoPayment offers a complimentary app and credit card reader to allow small businesses to conduct charges via their smartphones. GoPayment is available for iOS, Android and Blackberry phones…businesses using the mobile payments reader will only pay a flat 2.7 percent fee of a transaction for any swiped cards. Intuit will charge 3.7 percent for both key entered and non-qualified transactions…”

60. Ultracapacitor Startup Ioxus Raises Funds From NRG, GE http://gigaom.com/cleantech/ultracapacitor-startup-ioxus-raises-funds-from-nrg-ge/ “…Tesla Motor’s CEO Elon Musk…said he’d bet on capacitors over batteries for the future of electric cars…high-profile investors — including GE, NRG Energy, ConocoPhillips, Braemer Energy Ventures, Alstom, and Schneider Electric…have backed ultracapacitor startup Ioxus with $21 million…Ultracapacitors are energy storage devices that can deliver quick bursts of intense power and withstand more charge and discharge cycles than batteries. The technology is less established; the costs are higher than batteries; and much of the opportunity right now lies in niche markets…For automakers and OEMs looking to buy energy storage devices, ultracapacitors are often seen as being in competition with batteries. But Ioxus has developed a sort of hybrid battery, ultracapacitor technology, and thinks the storage devices should be used in tandem…Ultracapacitors are not looking to replace batteries in the acceleration or main storage of a car – they are merely there to enhance the battery, make it last longer, and reduce the warranty issues related to replacing large batteries.” Used in conjunction with batteries, ultracaps could also help make vehicle-to-grid technology more feasible, allowing electric cars to provide on-demand energy for the power grid without cutting battery life short. Hall explained, “Ultracapacitors are a power component. Batteries are an energy component. Marry two technologies together, and you have a solution that works well…”

Civilian Aerospace

61. Portland State Aerospace Society wants to launch a miniature satellite into orbit http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/04/the_portland_state_aerospace_s.html “…the Portland State Aerospace Society…guys aren't just some oddballs blowing things up in the desert…this group of community members and students has a pretty lofty goal: shooting a miniature satellite into orbit…said Nathan Bergey, the society's chief physicist and self-appointed chief evangelist…It's easy to build a rocket; it's hard to do it right." The society builds low-cost, open-source rockets that feature sophisticated electrical, navigational and communication systems…shooting a nanosatellite into orbit…holds a special place in the imaginations of society members and guides each project as they make small steps toward outer space…Greenberg…co-founded the society when he was still in grad school, back in 1998. Since then, the group has gone from a 3-foot rocket to a 12-foot one. Each year, they take their rocket into the desert to launch…Last year, their rocket soared to 15,800 feet…the highest launch was in 2002, when the rocket peaked at 18,000 feet…Faculty adviser Bart Massey considers the society unique on an international scale in its level of technological sophistication and its embrace of open-source hardware -- making the blueprints of electrical and mechanical parts available to anyone. This philosophy of sharing knowledge is a strong guiding principle in the society…As the Portland State Aerospace Society moves into more and more complex territory, its funding needs grow. Members keep costs low by building pieces of equipment rather than purchasing…Each launch costs about $3,000…The next launch is scheduled for the end of summer, and members are trying to raise $30,000 for the launch, other expenses and to build an improved rocket…”

62. NASA Showcases Commercial Manned Spaceflight Options as Shuttle Program Closes http://www.tmcnet.com/topics/articles/169271-nasa-showcases-commercial-manned-spaceflight-options-as-shuttle.htm “…The commercial crew development program has enabled NASA to work with private industry to build affordable access to low earth orbit (LEO) and the International Space Station…Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada, SpaceX, and Boeing were on hand to discuss their proposals…Rob Myerson, program manager for Blue Origin, said his company was developing a crew transport system comprised of a seven seat orbital space vehicle and a reusable booster system (RBS)…Sierra Nevada program manager Mark Sirangelo had a bad IT day; his Powerpoint slides were corrupted, so he was forced to rely on holding up a “low tech” picture of the company's Dream Chaser lifting body…The vehicle could be configured for a wide variety of missions in LEO including cargo transport to and from the ISS and satellite service missions…it could land horizontally at any airport around the world…SpaceX had the flashiest presentation. The company ran its latest YouTube video with a mix of pictures, animation, and Elon Musk sound bites discussing the development of Dragon from an unmanned cargo capsule to a full-blown manned spacecraft with thrusters to provide a pinpoint landing capability on “any solid service in the solar system.” In the last 30 seconds of the SpaceX clip, a Dragon space capsule is shown descending down to a red landscape – Mars…Boeing stuck with “safe, affordable, soon” as its mantra for the CST-100 spacecraft…”

63. Scrubbed! Space Shuttle Launch Delayed at Least 3 Days Due to Electrical Failure http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=scrubbed-space-shuttle-launch-delay-2011-04-29 The shuttle Endeavour suffered a minor but potentially troublesome electrical failure that delayed its launch…Technicians won't know for sure until they drain the external fuel tank and get access to the errant unit, a process that will take 24 hours…the problem…occurred in one of Endeavour's three auxiliary power units (APUs), which provide hydraulic pressure for adjusting the rocket nozzles and moving the ailerons and other aerodynamic control surfaces. These units have caused trouble in the past: two caught fire during Columbia's landing in December 1983. This time, an electric heater in APU No. 1 failed, which could have caused the hydrazine fuel to freeze once in orbit and burst the fuel line…” [when Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and other civilian space launches run into problems, like they inevitably will, I just hope the media, NASA, the US government and the general public remember that even the second to the last launch of the US space shuttles, 30 years after the first shuttle flight, had technical problems that caused a significant launch delay – ed.]

64. Space Adventures offers Moon trips http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/04/29/49620879.html “…Space Adventures is offering trips to the Moon for around 150 million dollars a trip…space travel to the Moon and back will take 7 or 8 days and that one tourist has already applied for the trip which provides for orbiting the Moon on board the Russian Soyuz spaceship 100 kilometers from the Moon’s surface…Space Adventures have sent a total seven private individuals to the ISS…”

65. Tiny Satellite Has Big Potential http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/90713/ “…advances in science have made sophisticated technology smaller and more affordable…it may be possible for us to launch our own personal satellites someday…a Vermont physics professor is working with students to send a satellite into orbit next spring…CubeSat's an off-the-shelf item that looks like something made with Erector Set parts. The light metal frame is about 4 inches on each side…Brandon is using grant money from NASA. His students are helping build and test the equipment that they'll install in the CubeSat…This is the one that's actually going to go into space…in the bottom we have a mother board and on top of it a little processor board...we use a Texas Instrument MSP430 2618 microprocessor."…A CubeSat starter kit like this one costs $7500 dollars…you purchase or build your own circuitry, then pack it into the little cube…I just got back Sunday from the Cubesat developers workshop at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, and what people are doing with CubeSats now is just amazing and how it has advanced in the last few years…Brandon estimates 30 to 40 CubeSats have been launched in the past 8 years…Most of the rockets that are used to launch satellites were developed from ballistic missiles which carried heavy warheads. When they're launching…they have to have the same weight to make the rocket work properly, so a lot of them just have iron ballast."…Commercial space people like Boeing and Aerospace Corporation and people like that sort of looked at these as toys…when the universities started doing stuff with them…people realized you can do real science with these…So, everybody else got involved with it…someday, provided a million and a half dollars in grant money is forthcoming, and after much work by Brandon and VTC students, a Lilliputian space ship four inches wide and twelve inches long will fly from here to the moon, where it will land…our batteries…just arrived from Scotland…these batteries are a thousand dollars…Already a 4 inch CubeSat can do more than a Volkswagon-sized satellite could 30 or 40 years ago…the CubeSat conference, somebody just announced that they're working on an X-ray telescope. I was astounded that somebody is doing that in a CubeSat…”

66. Chip satellites designed to blow in the solar wind http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/April11/EndeavourSatellite.html A group of…fingernail-sized satellites may travel to Saturn within the next decade, and as they flutter down through its atmosphere, they will collect data…prototypes of these chip satellites, named "Sprite," will be mounted on the International Space Station after the space shuttle Endeavour delivers them on its final flight…The thin, 1-inch-square chips…will be mounted to the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE-8) pallet, which will be attached to the space station, exposing them to the harsh conditions of space to see how they hold up and transmit data…The flight dynamics of a chip satellite are fundamentally different from these larger "CubeSats." "Their small size allows them to travel like space dust," said Peck. "Blown by solar winds, they can 'sail' to distant locations without fuel. ... We're actually trying to create a new capability and build it from the ground up. ... We want to learn what's the bare minimum we can design for communication from space…” [when I read this ‘chip satellite’ article, my first thoughts were about the movie “Twister” and that the cubesat enthusiasts probably “look at these as toys” – ed.]

67. NASA Expects 700,000 Spectators for Shuttle Launch http://www.space.com/11507-nasa-space-shuttle-endeavour-launch-crowds.html “…launch of NASA's space shuttle Endeavour…is expected to draw…an enormous crowd…officials expect a massive turnout of at least 700,000 spectators for Endeavour mission…After Endeavour's mission, NASA has only one more shuttle mission planned. The shuttle Atlantis is slated to lift off June 28 for one last trip to the International Space Station.” [so if 700,000 are expected for the penultimate launch of the shuttle program, how many people will be at the final launch in June/July 2011, especially with school out for the summer? – ed.]

Supercomputing & GPUs

68. AMD, MulticoreWare to Provide OpenCL Tools for Fusion Processors http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/2011-04-27/amd_multicoreware_to_provide_opencl_tools_for_fusion_processors.html AMD…announced a new collaboration with MulticoreWare…to deliver an advanced set of tools for OpenCL optimization. The tools development effort accelerates software developers' ability to create and optimize software that fully exploits the unique processing capability of AMD Fusion Accelerated Processing Units (APUs)…Our work with AMD is designed to specifically tackle major development challenges the software ecosystem is currently facing, such as maximizing compute utilization, efficiently handling data movement and minimizing dependencies across cores…said Professor Wen-Mei Hwu, chief technology officer, MulticoreWare…AMD and MulticoreWare are committed to working together to continue fueling broad industry adoption of OpenCL. The advanced set of tools is designed to work across all relevant vendor hardware, encouraging expansive OpenCL deployment…”

69. AMD Fusion '11 Summit Attracts ARM, Microsoft http://www.brightsideofnews.com/news/2011/4/26/amd-fusion-11-summit-attracts-arm2c-microsoft.aspx After years of waiting, AMD is finally launching their developer summit in Bellevue, WA…ARM is going to reiterate their commitment to OpenCL and the tasking of ARM Cortex A-9, A-15 cores with their own Mali series GPU, nicely tying to AMD's focus on Fusion APUs, i.e. Ontario (9W) and Zacate (18W) in the low power segment…AMD is pushing strong in forming a software ecosystem that is not based on pure power metal approach, but rather intelligent approach through industry standard APIs such as OpenCL. Advanced Micro Devices is preparing over 100 sessions for developers, and the company expects up to 600 developers on this first conference…Seattle-Redmond-Bellevue-Tacoma area…is host to not just Microsoft, Bungie or Valve Corporation, but Nintendo America as well. The area is home to over 150 game development teams that are located in the area, and about 600 companies in desktop, server and smartphone segment…”


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