2011/07/05

NEW NET Weekly List for 05 Jul 2011

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 05 July 2011, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering at Sergio's Restaurant, 2639 South Oneida Street, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

1. Chrome breaks 20 percent global browser market share http://gigaom.com/collaboration/chrome-breaks-20-percent-global-browser-market-share/ “…Chrome is now used by a fifth of Internet users worldwide, taking 20.7 percent of the global browser market in June, up from just 2.8 percent in June 2009. In the same two-year period, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer share has fallen from 59 to 44 percent, and Mozilla’s Firefox also dropped slightly, from 30 to 28 percent…”

2. Fiber Internet in Rural America: A Stimulus Success Story http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/07/rural-fiber-internet/ “…the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation reservations in northwest North Dakota…putting in a 50-Mbps connection to the Elbowwoods Memorial health care center. That connection, made possible by fiber optic cable and broadband stimulus funds, will enable the center to connect patients to doctors…ResTel got a mix of grants and loans from the government totaling $21.9 million — which had to be matched by the cooperative — to lay fiber for businesses, individuals and even cell phone towers. The stimulus package earmarked $7.2 billion in grants and loans for projects to bring broadband to rural and urban areas…We believe for us to survive we have to do fiber-to-the-home,”…Brooks Goodall told Wired.com. “If not, we won’t be here in the future…People have bull sales live on the internet, but without that fiber connection you can’t do that…capacity for future growth is why most of the broadband stimulus grants to date have gone to fiber-based projects…Calix says it is the leader in fiber deployment with more fiber nodes deployed than any other company, including Verizon, which heavily invested in fiber optics with its FIOS service for U.S. consumers…Calix says it’s helped bring fiber optic connectivity to some 2.3 million homes..The biggest friend to fiber may be that LTE and DOCSIS are coming on so strong…the speedy 4G wireless networking protocol and the cable internet protocol that’s increased cable internet speeds more than than many suspected it could — giving fiber optic and DSL companies strong competition…”

3. Facebook To Launch Crowdsourced Ad Format Next Week http://www.fastcompany.com/1762820/facebook-to-launch-crowdsourced-ad-format-next-week “…next week Facebook will launch a new kind of unit that’s innovative not just for its format, but for how it was conceived. That’s because Facebook didn’t come up with the idea itself--it crowdsourced it. The new unit is called the “Comment” ad. It will appear in the right-hand column, like other ads. But it will be formatted like a conversation…The brand will make a statement or pose a question, and below that will be a comment box where the user can enter a response…If the user does enter a response, the conversation then appears in the user’s News Feed, where the brand starts to reap “earned” impressions among that user’s friends. And if some of the user’s friends comment themselves, those comments can be turned into Sponsored Stories…In other words, it’s the ad that keeps on giving…”

4. Shortmail: "Twitter For Email" Has 500 Character Limit, Forces Conciseness http://www.fastcompany.com/1763820/shortmail-twitter-for-email-has-500-character-limit-forces-conciseness Yesterday, I received roughly a hundred email messages during the course of my typical work hours--and that was an atypically slow workday for email…I sifted through most, one by one. Email is an unavoidable time-suck--and even smart folks like TED's Chris Anderson are spending lots of time thinking about a better way. But now, social startup 410 Labs is trying to fix our email woes with Shortmail.com…Shortmail.com, which launches publicly on Wednesday from private beta, is designed to create a digestible inbox. By limiting messages to 500 characters, Shortmail is "stressing conciseness," according to 410 Labs. Like Twitter, Shortmail features a character counter which tracks each letter typed--reach the max, and Shortmail will not allow you to send the message. The same restriction applies to messages received…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

5. 'Indestructible' rootkit enslaves 4.5m PCs in 3 months http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9218034/Massive_botnet_indestructible_say_researchers A new and improved botnet that has infected more than four million PCs is "practically indestructible,"…"TDL-4," the name for both the bot Trojan that infects machines and the ensuing collection of compromised computers, is "the most sophisticated threat today…[TDL-4] is practically indestructible," Golovanov said…TDL-4's traits, all which make it an extremely tough character to detect, delete, suppress or eradicate…TDL-4 infects the MBR, or master boot record, of the PC with a rootkit…But that's not TDL-4's secret weapon. What makes the botnet indestructible is the combination of its advanced encryption and the use of a public peer-to-peer (P2P) network for the instructions issued to the malware by command-and-control (C&C) servers. "The way peer-to-peer is used for TDL-4 will make it extremely hard to take down this botnet," said Roel Schouwenberg, senior malware researcher at Kaspersky, in an email reply Tuesday to follow-up questions. "The TDL guys are doing their utmost not to become the next gang to lose their botnet."…"Each time a botnet gets taken down it raises the bar for the next time," noted Schouwenberg. "The truly professional cyber criminals are watching and working on their botnets to make them more resilient against takedowns or takeovers." TDL-4's makers created their own encryption algorithm…”

6. Hackers Near Graduation, Ready Attacks http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/234996/hackers_near_graduation_ready_attacks.html In about a month the first graduates of the new Anonymous hacking school could start having an impact on the frequency of cybercrime. "You could have a quarter of a million people who could be educated on how to hack, not professionally, but enough to be significant," says Karim Hijazi, CEO of security start-up Unveillance…When LulzSec disbanded last week, its members announced formation of the school…from what he's read about the school, it will teach skills that include setting up Zeus botnets, the keystroke logging malware for stealing banking logins…”

7. Two-thirds of Consumers Say Government Should Help Safeguard Online Privacy http://news.consumerreports.org/electronics/2011/06/cu-poll-consumers-want-government-to-protect-internet-privacy.html Two-thirds of consumers believe the government should play a larger role in protecting their privacy on the Internet, according to a new poll from Consumers Union. Over 80 percent want the ability to opt out of Internet tracking from a single location. “Very few people would agree that every piece of information they transmit should be available to everyone…” said Ioana Rusu, regulatory counsel for Consumers Union. The poll comes as the Senate Commerce Committee gears up for a hearing on online privacy and data security. The hearing, to be held Wednesday, will focus on three bills, the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights of 2011, the Do-Not-Track Online Act, and the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2011. "The idea of online privacy encompasses much more than the ‘creepy’ feeling consumers get when ads for an item they’ve looked at follows them around the web," said Rusu…”

8. Cisco Poised to Help China Keep an Eye on Its Citizens http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/cisco-aids-china-in-developing-surveillance-network/51872 “…Cisco Systems, among other major tech giants, have been called upon by the Chinese government to build a surveillance network that encompasses approximately 500,000 cameras in a single city…The system, being built in the city of Chongqing over the next two to three years, is among the largest and most sophisticated video-surveillance projects of its kind in China, and perhaps the world. The project, which will span roughly 400 square miles, will cost about $2.4 billion…Such big brother-like projects already exist in plenty of other nations. Just look CCTV in the United Kingdom. You can’t walk down a street in London without being recorded. However, China is being more heavily scrutinized here as human rights advocates fear that this network will be used for spying and/or capturing political dissidents…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

9. Ericsson Shows Off LTE Speeds Pushing One Gbps http://nexus404.com/Blog/2011/06/29/ericsson-shows-off-lte-speeds-pushing-one-gbps-swedish-mobile-great-ericsson-shows-off-ultra-fast-lte-speeds/ “…Ericsson…recently showed off a new kind of LTE system that will result in speeds approaching one full Gbps. Fully ten times faster than the current standard, it uses one of those incredible simple-in-retrospect…concepts called carrier aggregation. Carrier aggregation basically lets you take signals from multiple carriers and combine them into a bigger, faster connection…Ericsson system, dubbed LTE Advanced, isn’t exactly new…there is one critical difference: Ericsson expects to start wheeling LTE Advanced out by 2013, assuming it can get the necessary frequencies and equipment…I don’t have much call for mobile broadband signals, myself, but anything that improves broadband penetration and ups speeds (not to mention kills off those ridiculous bandwidth caps once and for all) is good enough by me…”

10. Smartphones finally overtake feature phones for new device purchases http://venturebeat.com/2011/06/30/nielsen-smartphones-finally-overtake-feature-phones-for-new-device-purchases/ 55 percent of U.S. consumers who purchased a new phone in the last three months bought a smartphone…This marks the first time…smartphones have outranked feature phones…in sales…38 percent of consumers own smartphones now, and 62 percent own feature phones…Android is…the…dominant mobile platform, with 38 percent of smartphone owners running Android devices…”

11. WiFi 'napping' doubles phone battery life http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-wifi-napping-battery-life.html WiFi is a popular wireless technology that helps users download information from the Internet. Such downloads, including pictures, music and video streaming, can be a major drain of battery. The energy drain is especially severe in the presence of other WiFi devices in the neighborhood…This means that the battery drainage in downloading a movie in Manhattan is far higher than downloading the same movie in a farmhouse in the Midwest…Duke-developed software eliminates this problem by allowing mobile devices to sleep while a neighboring device is downloading information…The new system has been termed SleepWell by Justin Manweiler, a graduate student…at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering…Manweiler described the system by analogy: "Big cities face heavy rush hours as workers come and leave their jobs at similar times. If work schedules were more flexible, different companies could stagger their office hours to reduce the rush. With less of a rush, there would be more free time for all, and yet, the total number of working hours would remain the same…SleepWell-enabled WiFi access points can stagger their activity cycles to minimally overlap with others, ultimately resulting in promising energy gains with negligible loss of performance…”

Apps

12. Apple to decide on Google+ app http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14027466 “…Google has asked Apple to approve a mobile version of its social networking site + (Plus) for iPhones and iPads…For + to succeed alongside Facebook and Twitter, it will need to reach as many mobile devices as possible…However, Apple exercises strict control over what can run on its platform and has blocked Google apps in the past. If the search giant fails to get a "native" app approved, it may find itself restricted to a browser-based web application, as it has been for other Google services on iOS…”

13. US soldier makes app for tracking down Taliban fighters http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/13928538 “…Getting shot at by Taliban fighters and need to call an air strike? There's an app for that. Tactical Nav can be downloaded to a smartphone to figure out where an enemy is firing from, and to call in an air strike or covering fire. It was created by US army captain Jonathan Springer after two of his comrades were killed in a rocket attack…Those deaths, he said, got him thinking. "What can I do to help prevent something like this in future?" His answer was to create the Tactical Nav app, which troops can download to their smartphones…"A compass, a map, and a camera. It's pretty simple…he's tested his app against everything currently in use in Afghanistan - and claimed it is just as accurate. The app is designed to give soldiers exact co-ordinates for where enemy fire is coming from. They can then send that information to their command centre, who will decide whether to call in an air strike, or send a rescue helicopter to help wounded troops…"As a fire support officer, I take into battle a compass, binoculars, a map, a protractor, a GPS device - a secondary GPS device in case one fails - and batteries…it combines all these components, and throws it into just the one app…”

14. Mobile apps, quick response codes sell homes http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2011-06-30-home-seller-apps_n.htm “…Online real estate listings have been common for years, but now an array of search tools and smartphone apps let buyers tap into a wealth of information on the fly. Some brokers are using quick response codes — or QR codes — on their "For Sale" signs and flyers…Scan the code with a smartphone loaded with a QR app and it takes you directly to a website with photos, additional details and in some cases videos…Videos are better than the traditional slide show because, for example, buyers can get a better sense of how the dining room flows into the living room…Some agents have attached a camera to the dash or rearview mirror of their car and give viewers virtual tours and buying tips while driving around…Trulia.com has mobile apps for the iPhone and iPad and Android-powered phones. One enables users to see prices in a city or county using color-coded maps. It also shows neighborhood details including restaurant and grocery store locations…Zillow.com, offers free apps for the iPhone and Android smartphones…”

15. With app numbers rising, so are app-selling opportunities http://connectedplanetonline.com/mobile-apps/news/with-app-numbers-rising-so-are-app-selling-opportunities-0705/ The webOS-running HP TouchPad went on sale last week in the U.S., and the computer maker will certainly be expected to glean a few thing from Apple…on building an app store. In less than a year, the Apple App Store has managed to grow its iPad-specific collection past the 100,000 mark…Canalys announced this week that revenue from apps, in-app purchases and subscriptions across smartphones and tablets will rise from this year's expected total of $7.4 billion to $14.1 billion in 2012 and up to $36.7 billion by 2015. With so many applications to choose from, and so much money to be made, new markets are being born, with new companies such as GetJar offering more department store–style shopping…”

Open Source

16. Post-MacDefender, Linux Looks Better Than Ever http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/230569/postmacdefender_linux_looks_better_than_ever.html Until recently, it was a commonly held belief in the mainstream computing world that Macs are more secure than Windows PCs are. Then MacDefender happened, and a whole new era began…it became clear not only that Macs have begun to attract the attention of malware creators in a significant way, but also that Apple isn't particularly interested in helping its users out in this new era. Rather than jumping to attention with assistance in a timely manner, the company dragged its feet, denied the problem and stonewalled in every manner possible before finally taking action…the computing landscape is irrevocably changed in the wake of MacDefender and--later--MacGuard. While these certainly weren't the first bits of malware to target Macs, they were among the few to succeed so well…Mac users can no longer rest easy in the "security," real or perceived, of their walled garden--at least no more than Windows users can on their own platform…Two closed desktop operating platforms have now "fallen" to malware, in other words. That leaves the open one still standing: Linux. I'm not saying that Linux is impervious…No computing environment can ever be perfectly secure…”

17. Tux Paint Kids Summer Drawing Contest http://www.tuxpaint.org/latest/worldlabel.com-tuxpaint-kids-summer-drawing-contest-2011.php3 The developers of Tux Paint, the award-winning open source drawing application for children, are happy to announce the 2011 Tux Paint Summer Drawing Contest…Open to any child aged 3 to 12, the contest is a chance to win one of three OLPC XO-1 subnotebook computers, a USB-bootable version of the XO-1's "Sugar" environment ("Sugar-on-a-stick"), or a Tux Paint t-shirt. Submissions are due by midnight, Eastern Standard Time (UTC-0500), on September 12, 2011…”

18. Weekend Project: Create Virtual Hosts with Apache http://www.linux.com/learn/tutorials/464510:weekend-project-create-virtual-hosts-with-apache Apache is very flexible, and it's easy to configure Apache to handle several domains even when your Web server only has one IP address to share between them. You can use this to host multiple sites, or just to provide a sandbox for development rather than making changes on your live site. This weekend, we'll learn how to create virtual hosts with Apache. Setting up virtual hosts might seem like a big challenge, but it's not. In fact, you can set up a virtual host with just a few edits to Apache's configuration and by setting up additional directories for the documents…”

SkyNet

19. Why Google+ won’t hurt Facebook, but Skype will hate it http://gigaom.com/2011/06/28/why-google-plus-wont-hurt-facebook-but-skype-will-hate-it/ Google launched its much awaited and highly anticipated social networking platform today to a limited number of users. Dubbed Google+ (Plus), the service…is about the harsh reality of Google saving and enhancing its core franchise — Google Search…Today, search is not just about pages, but also about people and the relevance of information to them…Gundotra said that this is the first step by the company in its long social journey…Google…has leveraged its infrastructure to offer an array of services and…granular privacy that average folks can understand…In order to use Google +, you need to have a Google account, though it doesn’t…mean you need to have a Google Mail account…Circles: Google has come up with the concept of circles — you can create a circle of contacts that are family, friends, work friends, former co-workers and so on…you can define who gets to see what kind of updates…Hangout: This just might be the killer feature of Google + effort. It is essentially group video chat done right…Hangout felt intuitive and easy to use…Huddle: This is a mobile group-chat service that is very much like Beluga…Instant Uploads: It has also come up with a new approach to mobile photos & videos…Sparks: It is a new feature that allows you to create topics of interest and use them as source of information and then share it with various different groups…instead of getting bogged down by the old-fashioned notion of communication – phone calls, emails, instant messages and text messages – it needs to think about interactions…Google needs to think of a world beyond Google Talk, Google Chat and Google Voice…interactions are synchronous, are highly personal, are location-aware and allow the sharing of experiences…Interactions are supposed to mimic the feeling of actually being there…Google is thinking along these lines and is building products with a mobile-first point of view…Google+ should give folks at companies such as Blekko, Skype and a gaggle of group messaging companies a pause…Skype Video can easily be brought to its knees by Google Plus’ Hangout…the only way to beat Facebook is through a thousand cuts. Photo sharing services such as Instagram can move attention away from Facebook, much like other tiny companies who can bootstrap themselves based on Facebook social graph and then built alternative graphs to siphon away attention from Facebook. Google could…go one step further – team up with alternative social graphs such as Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr…” http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow/story/266334/6-things-google-can-do-that-facebook-can-t “…Google+, which is still in a trial phase and not yet open to all, steps back from the friend-accumulation game and instead considers how we, as social human creatures, already think about our friends. The outcome is cliques, or what Google is calling Circles. In real life, friends come in mini sub-groups, usually based on how we met…the new and exciting ideas that Google has germinating in Google+ come down to cliques, or friends grouping off into smaller subsets. That's a radical departure from Facebook, which does have some ability to put friends into different buckets, but not in a way that's central to the overall experience…Google+'s innovation comes in the form of how these circles of friends interact: video, mobile group chats, sharing and discussing content only within a circle that has a shared interest…” http://mashable.com/2011/07/01/google-the-pros-cons/ http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_plus_circle_system_may_not_be_sustainable.php “…Google's Circles…does allow for…public relationship with people in your industry…But at some point…the "put people into boxes" model may break down. Relationships aren't binary…but they're also not static…How will Circles adapt to change with them?...one simple example…you change jobs. Let's say you go to work for a competitor. Now, everyone in the circle called "Work" need to be put into a circle with less access to your daily thoughts and posts…Here's another example: you become friends with someone - real friends, not "Internet friends."…With Circles, you can easily dump all these same folks into one big Circle. From my initial foray into Google Plus, that's precisely what many of the early adopters have done…what about when one of those people becomes a real-world friend?...you spend a night out on the town with them, and realize you have a lot in common…This person has become a "Friend." Depending on how your Google Circles are set up, you may have had to drag-and-drop them into multiple different circles over time, as this relationship changes…But are you prepared to do that with all your relationships, from this point forward? Is that a sustainable system? How much of your time with Google Plus will be spent organizing and quantifying your degrees of closeness with your contacts…”

20. A preview of Gmail’s new look http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/preview-of-gmails-new-look.html “…Over the years, adding countless features to Gmail has made it an increasingly powerful communication hub, but along the way the interface has also become more cluttered and complex…we’re embarking on a series of interface updates to help strip out unnecessary clutter and make Gmail as beautiful as it is powerful…we’ll be working on these upgrades gradually over the next few months to allow plenty of time to understand and incorporate your feedback into the evolving design…We’re kicking things off with two new themes for you to try out as a sort of sneak peek at what we’re up to…Our new interface will eventually expand dynamically to accommodate different screen sizes and user preferences, but until then you can pick the information density that you prefer…Like Gmail, Google Calendar is also getting a new look. You’ll see it automatically within the next few days so there’s no need to turn it on, and we’ll also continue to make improvements there in the coming months…”

21. Why Google+ won’t become AOL or Facebook http://scobleizer.com/2011/07/01/why-yo-momma-wont-use-google-and-why-that-thrills-me-to-no-end/ “…Most “average users” are locked into Facebook and aren’t willing to consider a new social tool until they hear about it from their friends…let’s just be honest here. There are pieces of Google+ that are mighty geeky. Let’s start with how to bold and italicize text…that’s just the little thing. Let’s talk about the big thing. Circles…heavy and passionate users of social media, like myself, really love things like lists and groups…making sure our social graphs are really organized. Normal people do NOT do this. They just want to friend their 20 real-life friends and 30 family folks…Average/normal users want the system just to bring them fun stuff without doing any work…if you put the average Silicon Valley geek in front of a TV and tell him to sit on the couch and watch TV for four hours they won’t know what to do. They will start building databases of their favorite shows, start figuring out how to optimize their DVRs so they can fast-forward through commercials faster, and stuff like that. Normal/average users? They just want to watch TV…”

22. I tried to free myself from Google and failed http://www.betanews.com/joewilcox/article/I-tried-to-free-myself-from-Google-and-failed/1309622371 “…As I explained in April: "Over the coming weeks, I will disenfranchise myself from as many Google products and services as possible…to assess just how dominant Google really is and how much of its stuff can be reasonably replaced. If it can be reasonably replaced then Google might not be…dangerous monopoly some people worry that it is"…almost from the start I hit wall after [w]all with blazing speed and explosive crash and burn…Day 1, I ditched Google TV for Apple TV. That was easy, although I found Apple's product to be inferior…I also swapped the delightful Google-branded, Samsung-manufactured Nexus S for iPhone 4…I didn't need Gmail but couldn't do without it…Windows Live and Yahoo, don't (or didn't then) support IMAP…If Microsoft offered IMAP, I would have pointed the domain to its service…Google Reader, which is essential to my writing, seemed like an easy switch. But I found that the best web-based or software client alternatives sync with Google Reader. Calendar and Contacts were easily replaced…I wasn't dependent on Picasa Web Albums, using Flickr instead. Bing Maps replaced Google Maps…Bing Image Search is good enough compared to Google's product…Many other services were replaceable…two services absolutely were not replaceable, and a third one I couldn't give up because of its benefits…The first two: Google Search and YouTube…Bing proved to be the most useful alternative to Google…Consistently Google delivers more relevant results, at least for my needs…YouTube…could almost be described as necessary utility…Everybody uses YouTube…Many videos are only available at YouTube…In May…There were 2.2 billion viewing sessions. No. 2 VEVO had 360 million -- that's right more than 6 times less…If for no other reason than Google Search and YouTube, I couldn't free myself from Google…So I've decided to reverse the experiment. Rather than be separatist, I'll become loyalist. As I'll explain in a follow-up post, I will try to go all Google products and services…”

23. Picasa Gets Unlimited Storage for Photos & Videos, Also Better Tagging http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/thanks_to_google_plus_picasa_gets_unlimited_storage_for_photos_and_videos.php “…for Google Plus users - nearly everything you upload to Google Plus won't count towards your storage limits on Picasa, with the only exception being videos longer than 15 minutes…the photo-sharing service provides up to 1 GB of free storage for photos and videos to its users…If you're signed up for Google+, photos up to 2048x2048 pixels and videos up to 15 minutes long won't count towards this free storage limit. And Google will automatically resize photos for you when you upload them to Google+, so they stay under the free size limit…only photos uploaded directly to Picasa Web Albums over the 2048x2048 size will count towards the 1 GB of free storage…when that limit is reached, photos will be automatically resized…There are a few other integrations between Google Plus and Picasa…photo tagging…lets anyone in your extended network in Google+ tag people in your public photos… you can adjust this setting to enable manual approval of tags…”

24. Google to Retire Blogger & Picasa Brands in Google+ Push http://mashable.com/2011/07/05/google-blogger-picasa-rebranding/ Say goodbye to the Picasa and Blogger names: Google intends to retire several non-Google name brands and rename them as Google products…The move is part of a larger effort to unify its brand for the public launch of Google+…Blogger and Picasa aren’t going away, of course — they’re two of Google’s most popular products. Instead, according to two sources familiar with the matter, Google intends to rename Picasa “Google Photos” and Blogger will become “Google Blogs.” Several other Google brands are likely to be affected, though our sources made it clear that YouTube would not be rebranded…”

General Technology

25. Self-driving car that’s impossible to crash http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/88824-cmu-develops-self-driving-car-thats-impossible-to-crash “…Cars that can drive themselves and prove, with 100% certainty, that they will avoid other vehicles?...that’s what a team at Carnegie Mellon University is developing. Self-driving cars are desirable for…reasons…we covered earlier…computer-controlled systems are a lot more accurate than humans, allowing more cars to crammed onto a stretch of highway — but primarily, self-driving cars have the potential to dramatically reduce the loss of human lives in automobile accidents, and the billions of dollars in associated costs. The problem is…Software can be buggy…and you really don’t want your car to suffer the automotive equivalent of a blue screen of death while doing 100 mph in the fast lane. Humans cause accidents because we all react in different ways to a given situation, and with different response times...Carnegie Mellon’s ingenious solution: a distributed control system that runs on every car. This system…allows the cars to talk to each other, kind of like a pack of wolves, or hive mind. If one car needs to pull off the freeway, then the other cars move to make space. If a car in front has to slow down, the other cars know…that they must slow down too….To tackle the tricky concept of provable safety, the CMU research team used formal verification to mathematically prove that their control system is safe. Starting with just two cars on a single lane, the team proved with 100% certainty that the cars could not crash. They…increased the complexity of the system, each time using formal verification to ensure 100% safety. Today, the distributed system can control any number of cars moving between any number of lanes — as long as the road is straight; they haven’t made it work with corners yet…”

26. Scientists use inkjet printing to produce solar cells http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13977038 “…solar energy…is known as a clean and sustainable form of energy, but this is offset by the manufacture of solar panels which is an expensive and complicated process. Finding a balance between costs of production and efficiency could become key to future manufacture of solar cells, and many scientists around the world have been concentrating on developing new materials and methods to do that. The recent inkjet approach is one of those novel methods…The team used chalcopyrite - a material composed of copper, indium, gallium and selenium and also known as CIGS. It has a much greater solar efficiency than silicon, currently used to manufacture solar panels…They managed to produce solar cells of 5% efficiency - and say that in future, they will aim to increase this figure to about 12% to make the product commercially viable…We produced CIGS solar cells using cheap inkjet printing under normal conditions…there was almost no waste in the process - unlike with a more expensive method of vapour phase deposition…”

27. Rare earth minerals find in Pacific could spark Japan-Hawaii stand-off http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/commodities/8616623/Rare-earth-minerals-find-in-Pacific-could-spark-Japan-Hawaii-stand-off.html Explorers from Japan claim to have found more than 100bn tonnes of rare earth minerals, which are used in the manufacture of electronic goods like hybrid cars and flat-screen televisions. The sought-after deposits could spark a battle between Japan, Hawaii and Tahiti, which are near to where the minerals have been located…the Japanese scientists claim the minerals can be easily extracted, having pinpointed their presence in sea mud across 78 locations up to 20,000 feet under the sea…Just 0.4 square mile of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption. "Sea mud can be brought up to ships and we can extract rare earths right there using simple acid leaching. Using diluted acid, the process is fast, and within a few hours we can extract 80pc to 90pc of rare earths from the mud…”

DHMN Technology

28. Hardware Hack Takes Control of Your Hand, Freaks You Out http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/06/possessedhand-takes-control-of-your-hand-freaks-you-out/ If this technology developed by researchers at the University of Tokyo ever ends up as a commercial product, then you could have the terrifying experience of your hand being possessed, moving itself without any commands from your own brain…The experimental device is actually called the PossessedHand, and controls your digits by shooting small electric currents into your wrist via electrodes strapped to your forearm. The PossessedHand runs on an Arduino micro-controller, and can auto calibrate itself to make sure it is twitching the corrects fingers and muscles inside your hand. The theory is that the PossessedHand could be used to teach people to play musical instruments by training their fingers to move correctly. I’m not sure that this simple, mindless repetition would actually work without involving the brain. After all, “muscle memory” doesn’t actually reside in the muscles. It could…have medical benefits, teaching patients to use their hands again after strokes or accidents…”

29. Kinect Hack Makes Laser Dance Show http://www.pcworld.com/article/229402/kinect_hack_makes_laser_dance_show_turns_your_living_room_into_a_nightclub.html “…now you can bring the party to you and pump it up with a Kinect hack laser show…Using the Kinect's motion tracking and mapping feature to his advantage, Kinect hacker Matt Davis made his body into an audio-visual controller. As Matt explains, by moving his left hand along the z-axis (from the front of his body to the back of his body), he controls where the focal point of the lasers moves (they aim forward or back); using his right hand x-axis (left to right) controls lateral (side-to-side) motion for the lasers; and on the right y-axis (up and down) is the size and so-called "craziness" of the lasers…The Kinect communicates with OpenNI (an interface that allows communication between devices like the Kinect and middleware), which talks to Max/MSP (a visual programming language used in music and multimedia), which finally talks to Ableton Live (a music sequencer that can utilize digital audio and/or MIDI data)…With all of these audio and visual effects joined together, Matt can make some interesting dance music just by moving his body…Just imagine what the possibilities of this would be if you added in a kaossilator…”

30. Inside a DIY Smart House http://www.pcworld.com/article/231260/home_automation_inside_a_diy_smart_house.html “…With the right equipment and a little know-how, you too can assemble your very own home automation system. Grad School Digital Imaging student Sam Cox from the United Kingdom has a great example of how beneficial home automating can be. He began automating his home from scratch a year ago to increase his home's security…On the security front I wanted something cheap, flexible and scalable, all without paying a monthly fee…His custom-built security alarm system runs a set of IP webcams installed throught the house. The alarm can project audible warnings to the intruder, as well as record footage and email a still image…Sam built other convenient home improvements, such as a system that wakes you up, gives you weather information for the day ahead, and alerts you of incoming email…his system lets him stream music into any room, turn on appliances, and dim lights. Sam used his old Mac Mini as a command system for his setup…“RFID is one area that I've worked hard on. It works in such a way that my home knows who's in and can adjust any settings such as the type of music being played or optimum light level accordingly.” Using apps such as iAutom8, Sam can use his iPhone to control switches from anywhere in the house, as well as stream live footage from the webcams…The system I use is called HomeEasy, which is a wireless (433MHz) interface. Singles are generated from an RFXCom Ethernet transmitter…Sam learned how to code everything as he went along, using other people’s AppleScript for similar projects, then adjusting them accordingly…Although automating his house has cost Sam around $1200 so far, the end result has been worth the time and money…”

31. Printer produces personalised 3D chocolate http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14030720 Chocolate lovers may soon be able to print their own 3D creations thanks to work by UK scientists. A 3D printer that uses chocolate has been developed by University of Exeter researchers that prints layers of chocolate instead of ink or plastic…several retailers have already expressed interest in taking on the device…Dr Liang Hao told BBC News that chocolate printing, just like any other 3D printing technique, starts with a flat cross-section image - similar to that produced by ordinary printers turning out images. "And then you do a 3D shape - layer by layer, printing chocolate instead of ink, like if you were layering 2D paper to form a 3D shape…”

32. Innovation to Blow Your Mind http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/coming-this-summer-innovation-to-blow-your-mind-124430363.html “…July 7 - 10, Red Bull Creation touches down in NYC. On Day 1, each team will receive a definitive build topic…For the next 72 hours, these teams will scramble through the city, acquiring and re-appropriating used materials like they were teleported into a live-action Katamari Damacy…On July 10, from 3-7 p.m., Brooklyn's own McCarren Park will be transformed into the site of the ultimate hacker showdown. Sleep-deprived artisans will sweat their way to the finish, battling for $10,000 cash and brand new tools valued up to the same amount. ..Back in May, the first 10 teams were announced--but anyone with the latest model abacus knew there were 6 left to be unveiled…here's the breakdown on Red Bull Creation's lovingly-deemed Wild Cards…Techshop -- San Francisco, CA…Effin Ladies -- Houston/Austin/Portland/San Fran…NYC Resistor -- Brooklyn, NY…Alpha One Labs -- Brooklyn, NY…ITP -- New York, NY…Double Wide – Nevada…THE ORIGINAL TEN TEAMS…i3Detroit -- Detroit, MI…Donner Party 2.0 -- Truckee, CA…North Street Labs -- Portsmouth, VA…Innovation Thirst -- Greenville, TX…1.21 Jigawatts -- Minneapolis, MN…hack.rva -- Richmond, VA…23B -- Fullerton, CA…Ruination -- Rochester, NY…Buildface -- Brooklyn, NYHarford Hackerspace -- Baltimore, MD…”

Leisure & Entertainment

33. Nvidia Boasts New Laptop GPU With DX11 Crysis 2 http://www.tomshardware.com/news/geforce-gtx-580m-sli-crysis,13018.html Nvidia now stakes claim to the title of the world's fastest notebook graphics processing unit with the GeForce GTX 580M. How fast are they? In SLI, they're fast enough to play Crysis 2 at max settings in 1080p with DirectX 11 effects and high-resolution textures…check out the video below…The first notebook PC to feature the GeForce GTX 580M is the Alienware M18x with the option to go SLI. The Alienware M17x will offer a bit more flexibility with the GeForce GTX 580M along with Nvidia Optimus technology and will deliver 5 hours of battery life when using the integrated graphics instead of the discrete GPU…”

34. World of Warcraft offered 'free' http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13973145 Popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft (WoW) is to be offered free up to level 20. Previously fans of the game, which has 11.4 million subscribers, had to pay a monthly fee of £8.99. Under the new system, players will be able to build an unlimited number of characters but they will not be able to join guilds or accumulate more than ten gold coins. The move is seen as a way of attracting new players to the game…”

Economy and Technology

35. Google loses Nortel Patents to Apple/Microsoft/et al. consortium for $4.5 billion http://www.cringely.com/2011/07/the-enemy-of-my-enemy/ Nortel Networks, the bankrupt Canadian telecom company, came that much closer to disappearing completely yesterday with the cash sale of its portfolio of 6000 patents for $4.5 billion to a consortium of companies including Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion (RIM), and Sony. The bidding, which began with a $900 million offer from Google, went far higher than most observers expected and only ended, I’m guessing, when Google realized that Apple and its partners had deeper pockets and would have paid anything to win. This transaction is a huge blow to Google’s Android platform…Google is the youngest of these companies and has probably the smallest patent portfolio, most of which isn’t mobile or telecom related. This puts Google and Android at a legal disadvantage and explains the 45 patent infringement suits that one analyst says Google in presently facing in the mobile area alone…with the consortium sitting on more than $100 billion in cash, the outcome came down to determination, not resources. Google stayed in it only long enough to make sure of the consortium’s intentions and to make the purchase more painful for them, if that mattered. It certainly mattered to Google, because that $4.5 billion number will be at the heart of the inevitable anti-trust lawsuit Google will file almost immediately. Every good anti-trust lawyer in America just cancelled his or her July 4th holiday to prepare their pitch for Google, which will probably claim Restraint of Trade as well…Google can probably operate unfettered for another 2-3 years, during which they’ll try to build their own mobile patent portfolio. Google may well be able to use the courts to slow the actual Nortel transaction, too…Here’s the consortium participation as I understand it. RIM and Ericsson together put up $1.1 billion with Ericsson getting a fully paid-up license to the portfolio while RIM, as a Canadian company like Nortel…might actually have a net zero cost after tax savings…Microsoft and Sony put up another $1 billion. There is a reportedly a side deal for about $400 million with EMC that has the storage company walking with sole ownership of an unspecified subset of the Nortel patents…Apple put up $2 billion for outright ownership of Nortel’s Long Term Evolution (4G) patents as well as another package of patents supposedly intended to hobble Android…this deal isn’t about royalties. It is about trying to kill Android…”

36. News Corp. Lost at Least $1 Billion on MySpace http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2387898,00.asp “…News Corp. has finally rid itself of MySpace. It sold the troubled social site to a little-known advertising company called Specific Media for $35 million, a measly amount compared to the $580 million News Corp. shelled out to acquire MySpace in 2005…News Corp likely lost at least $1 billion dollars on the doomed site…When News Corp. snapped up MySpace six years ago, it was a promising site and the top social network, growing to 90 million registered users by 2006. Meanwhile, Facebook was on the sidelines, mostly used by college students…”

37. GoDaddy Sold for $2.25 Billion http://mashable.com/2011/07/02/godaddy-sold/ GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain registrar, has been sold to three private equity firms in a deal valued at $2.25 billion…KKR & Co., Silver Lake Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures…agreed to take on GoDaddy’s debt…which the Wall Street Journal says amounts to roughly half the value of the deal…for between $2 billion and $2.5 billion…GoDaddy…has seen significant growth over the past three years, with sales rising by 25% to $947 million from 2009 to 2010…”

Civilian Aerospace

38. Moon Express Announces First Successful Flight Test of Lunar Lander System http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/moon-express-announces-first-successful-flight-test-of-lunar-lander-system-developed-with-nasa-partnership-124783794.html Moon Express, Inc. today announced a successful flight test of a prototype lunar lander system…Controlled flight tests of the Lander Test Vehicle (LTV) allow Moon Express to assess lunar vehicle design, including guidance, navigation and control software and new landing leg concepts…The flight test marks an important milestone in the collaborative agreement, demonstrating that innovative public-private partnerships can be utilized to establish new capabilities…Moon Express plans to send a series of robotic spacecraft to the Moon for ongoing exploration and commercial development focused on benefits to Earth…The recent discovery of abundant water on the Moon is the key we needed to economically liberate valuable lunar resources such as Helium-3 and platinum group metals…Dr. Barney Pell, Co-Founder, CTO and Vice Chairman of Moon Express, believes that exploration and development of lunar resources is one of the most important activities for humanity's future. "The Moon has never been explored before from an entrepreneurial perspective," he said. "I believe the Moon may be the greatest wealth creation opportunity in history…”

39. University Of Wisconsin Students Win Space Habitat Competition http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/jul/HQ_11-213_XHab_Winners.html University of Wisconsin students topped two other university teams to win the 2011 NASA eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge, a competition to design and build a space habitat. The team will now take its inflatable space loft to NASA's annual Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) field test in Arizona in September. It will be tested as part of a simulated astronaut mission to an asteroid. ..the 14-member University of Wisconsin team's design held promise for habitability and application to the Desert RATS mission simulation and was ready for field use because it had little leakage in the inflatable systems. The loft will be part of the home for a crew of four during the field test…Next year's competition, X-Hab 2012, will look at volume, geometry and habitability of a deep space habitat and technologies for plant growth and geo-science sample handling…”

40. Shuttle Atlantis crew at KSC for final mission http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20110705/NEWS02/107050310/Shuttle-Atlantis-countdown-begins-today NASA will start up its last shuttle launch countdown today…The four are scheduled to don bright-orange pressure suits early Friday and climb aboard Atlantis for the planned 11:26 a.m. launch of NASA's 135th shuttle mission. Jam-packed in the shuttle's cargo bay: a year's worth of food and other supplies to deliver to the International Space Station…” [seems weird to think that this is the last US shuttle launch; the good thing will be if this gives a boost to civilian aerospace! – ed.]

Supercomputing & GPUs

41. GPGPU Acceleration: The PGI Option http://www.clustermonkey.net//content/view/305/1/ “…The remarkable computation power of General Purpose Graphical Processing Units (GP-GPUs) has led them to steadily gain traction in High Performance Computing (HPC). But creating GP-GPU programs can require new programming methods that often introduce additional work and code revisions, or even re-writes, and frequently become an obstacle to the adoption of GP-GPU technology. To help solve this problem The Portland Group (PGI) has introduced an elegant way to augment existing HPC applications, allowing them to run efficiently on GP-GPUs while still maintaining their original code structure using standard Fortran or C…GP-GPUs are good at solving Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) problems. This class of problem is often referred to as "data parallel," where a single instruction is executed on a large amount of data at the same time. SIMD maps well to video processing, and most importantly, it maps well to many of the mathematical operations used in HPC applications…There are two popular programming languages for GP-GPUs. The first is the NVIDIA CUDA language…the Compute Unified Device Architecture, is designed to work on NVIDIA GP-GPUs and multi-core x86 systems…The other language is OpenCL, which was developed by Apple Computer and is a standard low-level API for GP-GPU and multi-core hardware…Both NVIDIA and AMD/ATI have pledged support for the OpenCL standard, which supports both data parallel (GP-GPUs) and task parallel (multi-core) processing…Given that most HPC codes are written in Fortran and C (and some in C++), there is no way for the language to tell the compiler where to run code (CPU or GP-GPU) or what data should be sent to and from the GP-GPU. One solution to this problem is the use of “comment” directives, or pragmas, which allow a user to provide hints and guidance to the compiler…A similar approach for GP-GPU programming has been developed by The Portland Group and is called the PGI Accelerator Programming Model. This model allows existing Fortran and C codes to be augmented with comments so that they can be compiled to use the NVIDIA GP-GPUs for more compute-intensive portions of code…”

42. Benchmarks Show the Advantages of GPU Flexibility on Application Performance http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/HPC+GPU+Flexibility:+The+Evolution+of+GPU+Applications+and+Systems+Part+5+%E2%80%93+Benchmarks GPUs are arguably one of the hottest trends in HPC. They can greatly improve performance while reducing the power consumption of systems. However, because the area of GPU Computing is still evolving both for application development and for tool set creation, GPU systems need to be as flexible as possible. This blog presents some benchmarks of the configurations presented in Part 4 of this series. In some cases the benchmarks are compared to a Supermicro system that has 2 GPUs in 1U (the first GPU Computing server released) and in some cases, the benchmarks discuss scalability of certain applications…”

43. Startup Brings HPC to Big Data Analytics http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/2011-06-16/startup_brings_hpc_to_big_data_analytics.html “…ParStream, a Cologne-based startup that has developed a bleeding-edge CPU/GPU-based analytics platform that marries high performance computing to big data…Michael Hummel and Joerg Bienert…funded the venture themselves but were able to subsequently attract some external investment. That was enough to develop the initial software and appliance products, and even snag a couple of paying customers…They wanted the application to be able to search through about 6 billion data records against 20 parameters in less that 100 ms. Unfortunately, most of the current database technology, based on decades-old software architectures, doesn't provide anything close to the level of parallelism required to digest these big databases under such strict time constraints. Thus was born ParStream and its new mission: to do big data analytics with an HPC flair. Hummel and Bienert developed their own database software kernel that was able to handle the tourism industry's search problem on conventional hardware, that is, x86 clusters…they quickly realized the solution they came up with could be generalized. "Afterward, we looked at other industries and found that this big data challenge was everywhere, so we decided to make a product out of it…They initially wrote their software to run on generic 64-bit x86-based Linux platforms -- single nodes and clusters. Later they found their parallel approach and bitmap structure was very well-suited to general-purpose GPUs, which provided a speed up of 8-10x, compared to the CPU-only version…They have two existing customers in Europe in the eCommerce sector, and five additional prospects across multiple industries running proof-of-concept deployments…A German customer with a web analytics application originally took three to five minutes on a "large cluster" to analyze billions of records using their traditional database solution. After some tuning of the ParStream software, the customer was able to perform the same query calculation in 15 ms, and on just four x86 servers. The most difficult part was convincing the customer that the solution was spitting out valid results "instantaneously." The company is currently in the process of migrating their whole infrastructure to ParStream…”


*****

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