2011/07/12

NEW NET Weekly List for 12 Jul 2011

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 12 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. Google +Hangouts v. Facebook Video Chat: No Contest http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/06/facebook-video-chat-google-hangouts/ “…Facebook says that one on one video chat is far more popular on Skype than group chat and so it makes sense to start there. But that’s misdirection – group chat on Skype requires that at least one user be paying $4.49/month for premium service…Google’s new hangout product is all about group chat, and it’s free. Up to ten people can use it at once…If you want to have fun with a group of friends, or hold a dead simple video team call, Google Hangouts is perfect…Google Hangouts isn’t as good for one on one conversations…Instead you can just initiate a Google video call directly to another user, and that works very similarly to Skype and now Facebook (Google should add a video chat button to user profiles, too)…Facebook video chat is great to talk to friends one at a time. Google Hangouts is great for group chat. There’s no real overlap between the products at all…”
  2. Facebook trapped in MySQL ‘fate worse than death’ http://gigaom.com/cloud/facebook-trapped-in-mysql-fate-worse-than-death/ According to database pioneer Michael Stonebraker, Facebook is operating a huge, complex MySQL implementation equivalent to “a fate worse than death,” and the only way out is “bite the bullet and rewrite everything.”…the social network’s predicament is all too common among web startups that start small and grow to epic proportions…Facebook has split its MySQL database into 4,000 shards in order to handle the site’s massive data volume, and is running 9,000 instances of memcached in order to keep up with the number of transactions the database must serve…MySQL…wasn’t built for webscale applications or those that must handle excessive transaction volumes….MySQL and other SQL databases…consume too many resources for overhead tasks (e.g., maintaining ACID compliance and handling multithreading) and relatively few on actually finding and serving data…SQL was created decades ago before the web, mobile devices and sensors forever changed how and how often databases are accessed…products such as MySQL are also open-source and free, and SQL skills aren’t hard to come by. This means…when web startups decide they need to build a product in a hurry, MySQL is natural choice…then they hit that hockey-stick-like growth rate…and they don’t really have the time to re-engineer the service from the database up….they end up applying Band-Aid fixes that solve problems as they occur, but that never really fix the underlying problem of an inadequate data-management strategy…”
  3. Katango Organizes Your Facebook Friends Into Groups For You http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/11/kleiner-backed-katango-automatically-organizes-your-facebook-friends-into-groups-for-you/ “…Google recently launched a social network that revolves around one core idea: people want to share different things with different groups of friends…Facebook has allowed users to do just that via its friends lists…And it’s barely been touched…But is the problem that people don’t care for this selective sharing, or that they simply don’t want to put the effort into building out their friend lists?...Katango thinks it’s the latter, and it has the answer: it’s going to sort your friends for you, hooking into your Facebook account via Facebook Connect and automatically generating Lists based on your interactions with your friends and a host of other data…Today the startup is introducing step one of its plan: an iPhone application, which just went live on the App Store. Fire up the iPhone app, connect it to your Facebook account, and it will generate a handful of Friend lists based on a variety of factors: how closely you’re connected on the social graph, your stated geographies, and, most important, how you’re interacting with each other on Facebook…But the iPhone app launching today is really a proving ground for the technology. Eventually Katango plans to let other services and apps tap into its algorithms, allowing them to integrate its auto-grouping functionality…”

Gigabit Internet

  1. Google’s 1 Gbps Network Spurs Big Ideas in Kansas City http://www.govtech.com/e-government/Googles-Gigabit-Network-Spurs-Big-Ideas-Kansas-City.html “…I recently conducted a site visit to the “Kansas Cities” to get a feel for how things are moving along there as Google ramps up to build 1 Gbps networks there…the mayors are establishing a steering/planning committee comprised of stakeholders from each city — but no city officials…By creating a plan, establishing a shared vision among constituents, sorting out priorities and generating ideas for network applications from a perspective of independence, the elements that enable broadband to deliver its main benefits should come into clear focus …Chattanooga…Oklahoma City and elsewhere…have discovered that launching community broadband networks opened the floodgates for hundreds of ideas for applications and services that would run on those networks. Oklahoma City managed to turn 217 of its many hundreds of ideas into applications on its government-use-only wireless network by year three. Chattanooga has 485 applications running on its city-use wireless network…It would have been impossible to put these applications into play without a structured system of soliciting, evaluating, sorting good from bad, prioritizing and converting ideas into actual applications. Kansas City generated an enormous amount of local awareness and support for the network when it wooed Google. In Kansas City, Mo., the mayor’s chief of staff sees 100 ideas coming in a day. ..Pulaski, Tenn…is using the fiber network to facilitate programs that increase the start of home-based businesses…Digital inclusion is a major concern of the Wyandotte County Economic Development Council, which includes Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Joe Reardon and undoubtedly many others. Managers within the Kansas City library systems, as well as Kansas City, Mo., CIO Ivan Drinks, have floated the concept of wiring libraries as central computing hubs to drive inclusion programs. Additionally they could serve as neighborhood labs for constituents to test locally created applications that utilize the gigabit connectivity…”
  2. WiGig Alliance Version 1.1 Specification: Multi-Gigabit Wireless Coming Soon http://www.ubergizmo.com/2011/06/wigig-alliance-multi-gigabit-wireless/ “…thanks to WiGig Alliance, we are very happy to announce that multi-gigabit wireless connection will soon be accessible from…next-gen gadgets. According to the WiGig Alliance…the theoretical speed is 7 Gigabit per second…a new multi-gigabit wireless specification…is now certification-ready…A test event for WiGig Alliance members is planned for Q4 2011 and the WiGig specification is expected to roll out in the market sometimes next year…”
  3. Risk-takers sought for Chattanooga’s fast Web http://timesfreepress.com/news/2011/jun/28/risk-takers-sought-chattanoogas-fast-web/ Chattanooga needs to engage entrepreneurs to invent a killer app to fully realize the economic benefit of the city’s lead in the global race for the fastest Internet, experts told city leaders on Monday. The city-owned utility, EPB, handily beat Google and the rest of the U.S. in the race to build infrastructure capable of supporting Internet speeds of 1 gigabit-per-second…the city is using the high-speed Internet link for more than 50 ideas to “connect anything, anywhere.” But most of those applications are designed to improve city services instead of serving up the next disruptive idea. For the next big idea…educated young entrepreneurs and adventurous investors are needed…To that end, Chattanooga…city leaders have been “carrying out a very aggressive public relations campaign” about the city’s gigabit service…Spearheading the effort is Lamp Post Lab, a venture backed by EPB, Lyndhurst and the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund designed to attract top talent to the city…the group is offering a $50,000 prize to the college student who can best answer the question, “What would you do with a gig?”…The winner receives $50,000 and gets put up in Chattanooga for the summer to develop their idea. But anyone who is accepted into the program gets their room and board paid up for the summer…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. Microsoft’s Android Patent Shakedown http://blogs.forbes.com/timothylee/2011/07/07/microsofts-android-shakedown/ In the 1980s, attorney Gary Reback was working at Sun Microsystems, then a young technology startup. A pack of IBM employees in blue suits showed up at Sun headquarters seeking royalties for 7 patents that IBM claimed Sun had infringed. The Sun employees, having examined the patents, patiently explained that six of the seven patents were likely invalid, and Sun clearly hadn’t infringed the seventh…An awkward silence ensued. The blue suits did not even confer among themselves. They just sat there, stonelike. Finally, the chief suit responded. “OK,” he said, “maybe you don’t infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk [IBM headquarters in New York] and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?” After a modest bit of negotiation, Sun cut IBM a check, and the blue suits went to the next company on their hit list. This story sheds light on the recent…string of stories about Microsoft demanding royalty payments from various companies that produce smart phones built on Google‘s Android operating system…Most people would say that Google has been more innovative than Microsoft in recent years—especially in the mobile phone market—so why is Microsoft the one collecting royalties? The reason is that Microsoft has more patents than Google. A lot more. The patent office has awarded Google about 700 patents in its 13-year lifetime. Microsoft has received 700 patents in the last four months…” http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/how-apple-led-the-high-stakes-patent-poker-win-against-google-sealing-ballmers-promise/2011/07/09/gIQAH17I6H_story.html “…Microsoft was on the verge of releasing their first Windows Phone 7 devices, and knew their best hope in the market would be to go after Android — the same OS which quickly ran Windows Mobile into extinction…it looks like Microsoft is slowly…forcing Google’s OEM partners for Android to…a patent fee…paid to Microsoft, not Google, mind you…with Microsoft and now HP offering their own rival mobile OSes backed by a vast array of patent protection, some of these OEM partners may begin to think twice about…Android…Google’s last great chance to save Android in this regard may have been the Nortel patent purse — 6,000+ patents spanning mobile and wireless innovation…Microsoft began to complain that the auction could result in a termination of the existing licensing agreements they had on the Nortel patents…But this complaining was odd since…the existing licensing agreement on the Nortel patents would…be honored by any winning bidder…The auction commenced on June 27…Intel made the starting bid…After the sixth round of bidding, Intel indicated it too was withdrawing…By the end of the eight round, Ranger (Google) partnered with Intel…By the 19th round, Apple presented a $4.5 billion bid. Ranger (Google)…decided not to continue. Apple (in partnership with Rockstar) was declared the winner…Apple…staked the Rockstar group to ensure a victory…the other companies involved…RIM, EMC, Ericsson, Sony, and yes, Microsoft…together had the cash and clout to break Google’s will…But why on Earth was Microsoft…bidding on patents they already had licensing rights to?...one has to assume that they simply did not want Google winning them — at all. Even if Microsoft maintained licensing rights to the patents, a Google win would ensure that it would be a lot harder to sue Android and its OEM partners for other patent infringements…it sure looks like Microsoft teamed up with longtime enemy Apple to ensure victory…if the U.S. or Canadian governments don’t…block this result…or force fairly drastic changes…Google and Android seem in some very serious trouble…” http://www.mobilecrunch.com/2011/07/06/microsoft-aims-at-samsung-to-continue-milking-android-cash-cow/ “…According to the math, Microsoft has made around $150,000,000 from HTC-built Android phones, compared to the roughly $30 million received from Windows Phone licensing…”
  2. AntiSec steals 90,000 military email account addresses and passwords http://www.slashgear.com/antisec-steals-90000-military-email-account-addresses-and-passwords-12164446/ The rash of hacks and attacks against the websites of government and private firms over the last year has grown…Hacker groups have been pilfering data from servers that are poorly secured in droves and then posting the information stolen online…The most recent hack that AntiSec has taken credit for was of a server run by military contractor Booz Allen Hamilton…attackers claim that they were able to steal 90,000 email addresses and passwords for military accounts…The US government has already passed measures that allow it to treat cyber attacks as an act of war. I keep wondering when we will see a war on hackers declared along the lines of the war on terror…”
  3. KC man pleads guilty in hacking scheme http://www.kansascity.com/2011/06/22/2968820/kc-man-pleads-guilty-in-hacking.html A Kansas City man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to his role in an elaborate scheme to hack computers at the University of Central Missouri…Daniel J. Fowler, 21, admitted that he and another man conspired for a year beginning in March 2009 to plunder the UCM computer network by downloading large databases of student, alumni, staff and faculty information, which they later tried to sell. The men also transferred money to their student accounts and attempted to change their grades…Fowler admitted that he helped develop a computer virus, which they placed on a thumb drive and installed on computers around the campus. In some cases they told victims that they wanted to show them vacation photos on the drive to get access to their computers. Once installed, the virus would allow conspirators to capture a user’s keystrokes, remotely access the infected computer, download files and turn on webcams…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. 32% of all US iPhone 4s are on Verizon http://venturebeat.com/2011/07/07/study-32-of-all-us-iphone-4s-are-on-verizon/ “…Verizon has still ended up with a healthy 32 percent of the U.S. iPhone 4 market…The study, if accurate, proves that there was indeed considerable pent-up demand for an iPhone on Verizon’s network…Verizon’s iPhone 4 market share jumped from 20 percent during the device’s launch week in February to 26 percent in May…there seems to have been a big jump in Verizon iPhone 4 sales between May and June…to take advantage of its unlimited data plan, which the company is scheduled to stop supporting today for new customers. AT&T dumped its unlimited data plan last year…”
  2. Hands-Free Cell Phones Are No Safer on the Road http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2388190,00.asp “…An auto safety group warned on Thursday that any use of a cell phone, hands-free or not, can be distracting enough to cause a car crash. The Governors Highway Safety Association combed through a decade's worth of statistics and research papers about the causes of car crashes, and found that cell phone-related distractions accounted for 15 to 25 percent of crashes. The figure is likely even higher…the group recommends a complete ban on cell phone use, hands-free or not, for novice (high-risk) drivers…Novices are the highest-risk drivers. Their attention should be focused on driving, not on cell phone conversations or other distractions. A ban…the group acknowledges that it has not found conclusive evidence suggesting that a cell phone ban for novice drivers, already enacted in 30 states, has actually prevented any car crashes. Last year the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found no reduction in car crashes, even after handheld cell phones were banned in California, Connecticut, New York and Washington, D.C…”
  3. Why Verizon Killed Its Unlimited Plans http://www.businessweek.com/technology/why-verizon-killed-its-unlimited-plans-07082011.html Verizon stopped offering new customers unlimited plans on Thursday, July 7…No matter what Verizon says, though, this pricing shift isn’t about supply or a lack of mobile capacity. It’s about demand: Because we want mobile connectivity wherever we go, Verizon is betting we will pay for it…Verizon will now charge new customers $30 for 2 GB of data at the low end vs. $80 for 10 GB of data at the high end. The ability to buy different buckets of data is similar to the longtime telco practice of offering tiered pricing in packages of minutes. It is a good way to milk profits because consumers will generally pick a bucket that offers more capacity than they need so they don’t go over the limit…”

Apps

  1. EyeNetra – Your $2 Eye Testing Tool That Works http://gadgetizor.com/eyenetra/7856/ “…due to lack of cheap and affordable eye care facilities, many people around the around in various countries become the victims of blindness…scientists and students at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge Massachusetts have a come up with an unique and cheap solution. Netra + Catra - $2 Eye Testing Tool…a hardware app and an accompanying software app. Another thing required is a mobile phone with a camera…Netra – the package of the hardware tool and the mobile application is available for as low as $2…makes it a very affordable eye-testing solution for hospitals and clinics in villages in…developing or under developed countries…just attach the Netra adapter onto a mobile phone with a camera, install the companion Netra software…look into the eye piece and follow the simple instructions to quickly receive your prescription for glasses, right on the phone…Catra…is used for testing an eye against symptoms of Cataract which is another major cause of blindness…”
  2. Freemium titles generate two-thirds of App Store gaming revenues http://gigaom.com/2011/07/07/freemium-titles-generate-two-thirds-of-app-store-gaming-revenues/ The rise of freemium or free-to-play apps has been dramatic over the last year, becoming the dominant revenue model for the top gaming titles in Apple’s App Store…in June, free-to-play games, which monetize through in-app purchases, now account for 65 percent of revenue among the top 100 games in the App Store, while paid downloads account for 35 percent of revenue. That’s a big reversal from January, when paid download revenue brought in 61 percent of revenue for the top 100 games…it shows how developers have embraced the freemium model, and at least for the top publishers, they’re finding it more lucrative than charging for downloads…”
  3. OpenFeint recruits game developer to lead free-to-play focus http://venturebeat.com/2011/07/07/openfeint-recruits-game-developer-to-lead-free-to-play-focus/ OpenFeint has hired a game development leader to help its customers focus on making free-to-play mobile games. The move reflects the growing importance of free-to-play, the business model where users play for free and can purchase virtual goods with real money…OpenFeint has hired Ethan Fassett, a former Playdom executive with expertise in free-to-play Facebook games. Fassett will lead the development of next-generation social networking features with distribution channels for free-to-play developers. OpenFeint, which was purchased in April for $104 million by Japan’s Gree, makes tools that developers can use to make their games more social. The company’s tools are used by 6,000 games on Android and the iPhone, with a total of 90 million players for those games.…”

Open Source

  1. Citizen science, civic media and radiation data http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/06/radiation-data-japa-citizen-science.html “…From crisis response to situational awareness, free or low cost online tools are empowering citizens to do more than donate money or blood: now they can donate, time, expertise or, increasingly, act as sensors…in the Gulf of Mexico…open source oil spill reporting provided a prototype for data collection via smartphone. In Japan, an analogous effort…has grown into Safecast, a crowdsourced radiation detection network…I recently heard more about the Safecast project from Joi Ito at this year's Civic Media conference at the MIT Media Lab, where Ito described his involvement…and the Safecast project's evolution from a Skype chat…Safecast now includes…feeds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Greenpeace, a volunteer crowdsourcing network in Russia, and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology…the sensors to detect the data were not in place at all. So we decided to help with that."…A KickStarter campaign in April raised nearly $37,000 to purchase Geiger counters to gather radiation data. Normally, that might be sufficient to obtain dozens of devices…The challenge is that if Geiger counters weren't easy to get before the Japanese nuclear meltdown, they became nearly impossible to obtain afterwards. The Safecast project has also hacked together iGeigie, an iPhone-connected Geiger counter that can detect beta and gamma radiation. "The iGeigie is just a concept product, it's not a focus or a main solution…we've been…trying to help cover more ground with single sensors…We have Arduinos in the static devices that we are building and connecting to the web…We're putting those around and they report data back to us." In other words, the Internet of Things is growing…Citizen science looks like the new frontier. "I think the real value of citizen media will be collecting data…The development of Oil Reporter, grassroots mapping, Safecast, social networks, powerful connected smartphones and massive online processing power have put us into new territory…there could most definitely be inaccuracies in crowd-sourced data…But our hope is that with…more data being reported…those points that are outliers can be eliminated…The spread of open source software is now being accompanied by open source hardware and maker culture…When you can't meet demand for a device like a Geiger counter, people will start building their own, said Ito at the MIT Civic Media conference. He's seeing open hardware design spread globally…”
  2. CERN launches open source hardware effort http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2011/07/for-the-good-of-all-of-us-cern-launches-open-source-hardware-effort.ars “…a group of CERN engineers have decided to bring the advantages of the open source software development model to the world of hardware. CERN has launched a new community-centric effort called the Open Hardware Repository (OHR) with the aim of encouraging collaborative electronics design. CERN has also developed a new license, called the Open Hardware License (OHL), to govern the distribution of open hardware designs…CERN's project isn't the first open hardware license—the Tucson Amateur Packet Radio group created one in 2007. The two licenses aren't related, but they do share similar underlying goals. There have also been a number of open hardware projects launched under more conventional open source licenses…”
  3. VLC media player suffering in face of malware and uncaring Google http://www.geek.com/articles/news/vlc-media-player-suffering-in-face-of-crapware-and-uncaring-google-2011077/ “…VLC…It’s free to download and use, includes support for just about any video format you’d want to watch, and has a dedicated team of developers behind it. The problem is, while VLC is developed as a not-for-profit open source project, other companies are taking advantage of its popularity to distribute adware and spyware… the official versions are available at the VideoLan website–the organization composed of volunteers who develop the media player. However, if you do a search for VLC on the top two search engines: Google or Bing…malicious links appear alongside the official VideoLan page. These other links are put there by companies that want you to download their modified version of VLC that includes adware and spyware…VideoLan team faces two major problems…the first is their software being associated with malicious activity and being flagged by antivirus software as such, and the second being the search engines apparently not willing to do much about it….18 common URLs…which include crapware/adware/spyware…get so high up on the search listings is because they are willing to pay for adwords…Fauvet states that asking Google to remove these links turns out to be pointless…”

SkyNet

  1. Google Maps for Android gains downloadable maps http://gigaom.com/mobile/google-maps-for-android-gains-downloadable-maps/ Google updated its Maps for Android software Wednesday…I noticed one unannounced new Labs feature that could help consumers manage their mobile broadband usage: map downloads for offline use…Anyone on tiered data plans, especially heavy domestic travelers, can benefit from offline map downloads with the Labs feature…After finding a place on the map, a quick tap of the “Download map area” option will download an 10 square mile map around the location. Downloading my test map over a standard 3G connection took just over a minute. Once I had the local area stored on my handset, I placed the phone in airplane mode to simulate an offline status. The locally downloaded area appeared as a black square in the map software and I was able to interact as normal by zooming in and panning around…”
  2. Google Map Maker for carto-masochists http://njgeo.org/2011/07/10/map-maker-for-carto-masochists-part-1/ “…back in March of 2010, I contacted Google…to submit Rowan University’s GIS data to be included on Google Maps. I heard nothing from them – not even an automated response – for several months. In August of 2010, someone in Administration noticed that Google had relabeled Rowan University as Glassboro State College, a name not used since 1992. I was instructed to…remedy this as soon as possible…I was finally contacted by “Brandon” from the Cities in 3D Team…I got excited. In hindsight, the excitement was premature and irrational…Instead of accepting the data, I’m instructed…I should use Google Map Maker instead…I find Google Map Maker to be an incredible disappointment…For a company such as “do no evil” Google to create a framework where users can volunteer time to build its GIS repository with no compensation – not even data retrieval – I find completely unconscionable…I loved hearing how a group of OSM mappers hijacked a Google Mapping Party (the concept itself lifted from OSM) and got the assembled group to work on OSM…I wanted the University on Google, solely because Google is the new Mapquest; it’s the go-to map service for the average person. (Quick aside, Mapquest has Rowan University completely mapped out through its OSM-sourced open.mapquest.com.) Brandon’s earlier suggestion…to redraw everything…wasn’t going to happen and I let Brandon know…Brandon responded with two points that made me bristle. First, Rowan was too small for Google…This is a 215 acre campus with 50+ structures…Second, I was encouraged “to do as much as you can on your own…No one volunteers my cheap labor for projects other than me, buddy…I finally bit the bullet, signed into Map Maker…Tomorrow, how Map Maker can only make bad maps…”
  3. Share your docs on the go with the improved Google Docs for mobile http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2011/07/share-your-docs-on-go-with-improved.html “…we've updated the look of Google Docs for mobile browsers and added the ability to sort, narrow, and share multiple docs in your mobile docs list. To get started, go to docs.google.com from your supported device’s browser. Press Sort to organize the list of docs visible in the mobile browser, or press Narrow by to specify the subset of docs you’d like to see. To share from your mobile docs list, select one or more documents, press the Share button, and select Share, Get the link to share for public or unlisted docs, or Email as attachment…”
  4. Disco, Google’s Hushed Messaging App, Continues To Improve http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/09/google-slide-disco-google-plus/ It has been over three months since we first broke the news on the existence of Disco, the group messaging app made by the Slide team within Google. Google still refuses to talk about it…Today brings version 3 of the app — and the app is starting to get really good…today’s update brings a range of key new features. The biggest one is photo sharing, a feature which is now a must-have for all group messaging apps. Also…1-to-1 chat capabilities…Using the new “Star” commands, you can choose to follow any Twitter feed within a Disco group and see all the updates from that account within the app. You can also call up Yelp recommendations and reviews right from within the app with the new feature. Finally, you can also create a poll for everyone in the group using the Star options…If friends are not yet using Disco, you can still interact with them via SMS within the app…”
  5. Mixed reactions to G+ “……” http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/07/google_comes_up_short.html “…Google+ is…Google's first big attempt at playing catch-up. The problem with catch-up is that you risk trying to solve problems that already have solutions. True innovation comes from identifying and solving the unsolved problems…”
  6. Google's Photovine Site Is Live — It Looks Like A Photo-Sharing Service http://www.businessinsider.com/googles-photovine-is-live-it-looks-like-an-iphone-photo-sharing-app-2011-7 Last month, Google got the trademark on the word Photovine and registered the domain…A tipster just pointed us to the site and it looks like there's something there now: a page advertising some kind of photo sharing app running on an iPhone. There's also a support page with a FAQ about the app…it's a project by Slide, Max Levchin's social sharing company that Google acquired last year. Slide has been releasing other apps largely independently from other Google social efforts like Google+. Just last week, Slide began issuing invites for a photo-sharing app called Pool Party…”
  7. Marissa Mayer Explains Why There Aren't More Girl Geeks http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/06/google-marissa-mayer-women-in-tech_n_891167.html “…Marissa Mayer..as a senior executive with the search giant…is one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley. Her work at Google influences how hundreds of millions of people access information on the web…One of the most iconic women in tech today, Mayer's career path offers lessons for how to attract more women to a male-dominated field…Mayer, who calls herself a "proud geek," did not grow up obsessed with computers -- she bought her first one in college…She wanted to be a pediatric neurosurgeon. Mayer credits Stanford's "exorbitant" tuition fees with turning her on to tech. Frustrated with how much more she was paying to take the same courses and memorize the same chemistry facts as her peers attending less expensive colleges in her home state, Wisconsin, Mayer switched to a major that would let her take advantage of courses and faculty only offered at Stanford: symbolic systems, a blend of psychology, linguistics, philosophy and computer science…Mayer blames the dearth of female programmers and Internet entrepreneurs in part on tech's image problem. She argues that growing up, girls are offered a narrow stereotype of what it means to be a "geek" -- something akin to the bespectacled loner who spends hours typing away at a screen. Attracting more women to the Silicon Valley…requires doing away with those stereotypes and showing young women that techies don't have to love video games. Mayer herself is…a former ballet dancer with a penchant for cupcakes and the fashion designer Oscar de la Renta. "The number one most important thing we can do to increase the number of women in tech is to show a multiplicity of different role models," Mayer said. "The stereotype of that very complete and rigid picture of what being a computer scientist means really hurts people's understanding and ability to identify with the role…Mayer is optimistic that sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google, as well as smartphones and the programs they run, will be a catalyst for changing the ratio in technical fields by clarifying the practical applications of computer science…some women differ from men in that it's important to them to understand how their careers will influence people's daily lives…For a lot of women, they didn't see how computer science touches people…One reason I think this will improve in coming years is that girls are experiencing a lot of computer science and a lot of technology on an everyday basis," said Mayer. "When you use those things every day, you become curious in terms of how they were made…”

General Technology

  1. Best free alternatives to top-selling software http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-20078249-285/best-free-alternatives-to-top-selling-software/ Later this month I'll be canceling my subscription to a leading security suite that runs on two of my home-office PCs. I'll replace it with Microsoft's free Security Essentials…I simply no longer needed to spend money for the convenience of an all-in-one security app. That got me thinking: Is there any software that the average PC user needs to pay for? Most of us bought our current operating system--usually Windows or Mac OS X--as part of the purchase of the computer itself. Do-it-yourselfers have Linux as a free-OS alternative…What about all those commercial security suites and system utilities? I ran down Amazon's list of the 20 best-selling software titles to find those for which no viable free alternative is available. Granted, my criteria are pretty broad: the freebie has to offer only the basic functionality of the fee-based product and an interface that won't stymie the average user…” [It’s been a while since we talked about free alternative software, so I figured it was time for a NEW NET refresh on what free software people are using these days – ed.]
  2. In Search of a Robot More Like Us http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/12/science/12robot.html “…Rodney Brooks often begins speeches by reaching into his pocket, fiddling with some loose change, finding a quarter, pulling it out and twirling it in his fingers…as Dr. Brooks points out, training a robot to do it is a vastly harder problem for artificial intelligence researchers than I.B.M.’s celebrated victory on “Jeopardy!” this year with a robot named Watson. Although robots have made great strides in manufacturing, where tasks are repetitive, they are still no match for humans, who can grasp things and move about effortlessly in the physical world…“All these problems where you want to duplicate something biology does, such as perception, touch, planning or grasping, turn out to be hard in fundamental ways,” said Gary Bradski, a vision specialist at Willow Garage…Many robotics researchers are pursuing a bottom-up approach, hoping that by training robots on one task at a time, they can build a library of tasks that will ultimately make it possible for robots to begin to mimic humans…The limits of today’s most sophisticated robots can be seen in a towel-folding demonstration that a group of students at the University of California, Berkeley, posted on the Internet last year: In spooky, anthropomorphic fashion, a robot deftly folds a series of towels, eyeing the corners, smoothing out wrinkles and neatly stacking them in a pile. It is only when the viewer learns that the video is shown at 50 times normal speed that the meager extent of the robot’s capabilities becomes apparent. (The students acknowledged this spring that they were only now beginning to tackle the further challenges of folding shirts and socks.)…Robonaut 2, a dexterous robot developed in a partnership between NASA and General Motors, was carried aboard a space shuttle mission to be installed on the International Space Station. The developers acknowledged that the software required by the system, which is humanoid-shaped from the torso up, was unfinished and that the robot was sent up then only because a rare launching window was available…”
  3. Microsoft to Windows XP diehards: Just under 3 more years' support http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9218330/Microsoft_revs_dump_XP_campaign_says_time_to_move_on_ Microsoft on Monday made its most aggressive move yet to convince customers to drop Windows XP and adopt Windows 7, telling them that there were only 1,000 days of support life left in the older operating system…"Windows XP had an amazing run and millions of PC users are grateful for it. But it's time to move on," Rose said, adding that the operating system exits security support in "less than 1,000 days."…According to usage statistics and research firm surveys, Microsoft has its work cut out in moving users off XP. Web metrics firm Net Applications now has Windows 7's usage share at 27%, for example, but XP still powers 51% of the world's personal computers…Businesses are even more reliant on Windows XP, said Forrester Research when it recently estimated the aged OS's share at 60% of enterprise PCs…”

DHMN Technology

  1. Dangerous Prototypes: An Open Source Hardware Project A Month http://hothardware.com/News/Dangerous-Prototypes-An-Open-Source-Hardware-Project-A-Month/ Dangerous Prototypes is a two-year old organization with the stated mission of producing "one new open source project every month." In its nearly two years in existence, DP has created about 30 projects, such as the Flash Destroyer. All are being sold by another interesting company, Seeed Studio. Seeed is a contract manufacturing/sales channel for hire. It helps hardware designers get their ideas manufactured in China and sold worldwide. Intrigued, we contacted DP's head honcho, Ian Lesnet…and picked his brain a little about his company, which is based in Muscatine, Iowa, but is really "run by loose network of paid and unpaid contributors all around the world…”
  2. Kinect Hack Used to Control Quadrocopter http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-software/quadrotor-interaction “…the Flying Machine Arena (or FMA) at the ETH Zurich have just posted a video of their latest feat: A natural human-machine interface for controlling their quadrocopters. Until now, visitors of the FMA could use a magic wand like the one in the right picture to send quadrotors racing through the 10x10x10m space. As shown in the video, the addition of a Kinect now allows a far more natural and intuitive interaction…”
  3. The Uzebox: An open source hardware games console http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/392560/uzebox_an_open_source_hardware_games_console/ “…The Uzebox is another open source hardware project, and, unlike many that begin with grand plans but have fallen by the wayside, it has met with success. The 8-bit games console, which is licensed under version 3.0 of the GNU GPL, has not only been successful in the sense that its design can be downloaded and an actual, working console be constructed. It's also got enough of a following that a completed Uzebox can be purchased online from multiple sources, and, for those who know which end of a soldering iron is more likely to burn a hole in the kitchen bench, DIY component kits can be purchased…”
  4. Interview with Bre Pettis http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/05/founder-stories-makerbot-hardware-startups/ Chris Dixon heads down the homestretch of his Founder Stories interview with Bre Pettis and the two touch on the fact that the barriers to entry for founders foaming at the mouth to launch hardware startups are being washed away…we’re seeing this startup culture come into hardware, where normally this was just the realm of the really big companies who could afford to do this kind of R&D and development and I think in the next ten years we are going to see a huge amount of hardware startups…it used to cost 30 million [to launch a startup], you had to run a data center and do all these other things, and now you can do it on a couple thousand dollars and that sort of created a renaissance of, I think, internet startups…Pettis offers this advice: “Make it so people can do things with your hardware that you don’t expect, leave openings, try and be future compatible…”

Leisure & Entertainment

  1. Japan Gets World’s Steepest Roller Coaster (Videos) http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/12/takabisha-japan-gets-worlds-steepest/ “…you might want to visit the Fuji-Q Highland, an amusement park that just added a very special new attraction: the world’s steepest roller coaster…Takabisha…accelerates to 100 mph, has a 43m drop and a 121-degree freefall. The Japanese roller coaster beat the former record holder, the Le Timber Drop in France, which measures “just” measures 113.1 degrees. Fuji Q Highland invested $37 million in the development of the Takashiba. One ride takes 112 seconds and costs $12.50…”
  2. Games reign as most popular mobile apps http://news.cnet.com/8301-10797_3-20077213-235/games-reign-as-most-popular-mobile-apps/ “…Games dominate as the most popular of all mobile apps…Among app users surveyed by Nielsen, 64 percent had played game apps in the past 30 days. Weather apps were the second most popular, followed by social networking, maps/navigation/search, music, and then news…93 percent of app downloaders are willing to pay for the games they play--the highest figure for any app category. That contrasted with 87 percent who will do so for entertainment apps, 84 percent who will dish out money for maps/navigation/search apps, and 76 percent who will open their wallets for news apps…The typical mobile gamer plays for around 7.8 hours each month, Nielsen said. iPhone users are the heaviest gamers, playing for around 14.7 hours each month, while Android owners put in close to 9.3 hours per month diving into their favorite games…”
  3. YouTube is working on the best reality show you’ll never see http://venturebeat.com/2011/07/11/youtube-is-working-on-the-best-reality-show-youll-never-see/ Rumor has it Google’s YouTube is holding a competition to find video producers who can create original content…Winners of the competition will obtain one of 20 “channels” the video site plans to feature in a new design coming this winter…“The idea is that YouTube will end up with cable TV-like ‘verticals’ — food, sports, entertainment, etc…One thing YouTube has commented on is its need to attract more advertisers with content that keeps viewers on their website longer. According to the company’s blog, YouTube visitors are “spending just 15 minutes a day on YouTube, and spending five hours a day watching TV…”
  4. The road ahead in mobile games http://venturebeat.com/2011/07/10/the-road-ahead-in-mobile-games/ “…While Zynga dominates social games and big publishers rule console games, the global smartphone game market is still up for grabs…mobile gaming could become the largest game market of them all…With…the success of Angry Birds…mobile game companies are raising tens of millions of dollars…Mobile games could be a $13 billion market in 2014, according to Merel…How will a huge mobile game market come about? That’s one of the questions we’ll explore at GamesBeat 2011…We’ve got 80 of the game industry’s finest minds focused on the evolution of mobile gaming…to figure out how to connect the dots in mobile games…”
  5. Pandora Crosses 100M Users, Seeing 36M Monthly Active Users http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/12/pandora-crosses-100m-users-seeing-36m-monthly-active-users/ Pandora…now has 100 million registered users and 36 million monthly active users across its platform…Pandora got a strong start in the public markets but shares quickly fell to below the company’s initial pricing of $16 per share. But Pandora’s stock was able to rebound recently, and closed at $19.26 yesterday afternoon. Pandora says that it ended 2010 with 2.3 percent market share of all radio listening in the United States, and has increased its market share to 3.6 percent…” http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/12/new-pandora/ “…Pandora will begin a massive metamorphosis on the web this week…New Pandora is beautiful. I cannot think of a single thing I like better about the old site…We started on it about a year ago…At first, we had been talking about more incremental changes, with the site still operating in Flash. But then…We realized we could do the full Pandora experience without Flash,” he says…Conrad then brings up New Pandora and shows me how quickly it loads compared to the old site. By my count, it takes 2-3 seconds and then music begins playing. It’s an insanely faster onboarding experience…Content on Pandora is deeper than most people realize. We needed a better way to present it…you can now visit any page on Pandora while your music continues to play. And unlike the old site, where elements would open in new windows or clunky Flash overlays, everything is fluidly displayed using HTML…”

Economy and Technology

  1. Foursquare checks in with over half a million businesses http://venturebeat.com/2011/07/06/foursquare-checks-in-with-over-half-a-million-businesses/ “…check-in application Foursquare announced today on its blog that as of last week it has more than half a million businesses signed up and offering specials. Businesses looking to take advantage of customers using Foursquare to check in to their locations can sign up for a merchant account. Once they do so, they can offer specials, update venue information…Foursquare spotlights several specials that are currently running, including one from Radisson Hotels that allows guests to check out 2 hours later than normal. Also, McDonald’s is offering a free beverage with the purchase of a meal to people who check in with Foursquare…”
  2. HP kills Palm division, renames it webOS global business unit http://venturebeat.com/2011/07/11/hp-kills-palm-webos/ Jon Rubinstein, the former CEO of Palm who orchestrated its $1.2 billion sale to Hewlett-Packard in 2010, is no longer heading Palm. And Palm itself is no more: HP has renamed the division the “webOS global business unit.”…Stephen DeWitt, who was the senior vice president in charge of HP’s American PC business, will lead the new division, which is known as HP’s Personal Systems Group…HP’s webOS-powered phones, such as the Pre and Veer, have been praised for their innovative interfaces, but haven’t made much headway in the market yet. With Android commanding a plurality of the smartphone market (at about 38 percent) and Apple’s iOS dominating tablets to the tune of 75-90 percent…HP has a lot of lost ground to make up. The executive shuffle may be a recognition that webOS needs a more seasoned product marketing executive to push it forward in the market…”
  3. Indian Mobile Bank Eko Processing $270 Million in Payments a Year http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/11/indian-mobile-bank-eko-raises-5-5-million-processing-270-million-a-year/ Innovative mobile banking platform Eko India Financial Services has raised $5.5 million…Mobile banking is one of the most exciting trends in the tech world outside Silicon Valley. And now that more people have mobile phones than toilets in the world, there’s a real chance at bridging the unbanked gap…The most innovative stuff is mobile payments is being done using basic SMS, and it’s dramatically changing people’s financial lives. Savings soar when your money isn’t readily available, people can safely travel between villages without fear of being robbed, and paying for goods and services no longer requires an in person transaction. The coolest part of this trend: Much of the strides are being made by for profit companies, not aid groups and NGOs. They help millions of people and build self-sustaining businesses that make money doing it…Fewer than 14 million people work in India’s formal economy…Reaching the poor digitally is the only way to unlock the huge demographic potential of the country…The most clever part of the business is its distribution network. While the accounts are backed by the State Bank of India and ICICI Bank, Eko has created “tellers” out of the trusted corner grocers who operate throughout India. These are the masters of the country’s huge micro-economy that sells cell phone minutes by the Paisa, medicines by the pill and Western brands of shampoo by the ounce…”

Civilian Aerospace

  1. The Next Space Race http://www.newsweek.com/2011/07/10/the-next-space-race.html “…I’m at the National AeroSpace Training and Research Center, a private facility outside Philadelphia, to see if I have the “right stuff.”…I’m testing my mettle for what’s coming next: the era of commercial space, a time when anyone, not just the newsreel heroes of NASA, can explore the galaxy and make a living up there. I’m training to be an astronaut. With the end of the space-shuttle program…NASA…assumes an awkward new role as partner, patron, and competitor of the private sphere. More than a dozen companies…are working on space-shuttle replacements, aided by hundreds of millions of dollars from the Obama administration, which hopes to have NASA use these vessels even as the agency develops a longer-range starship of its own…Hundreds of regular (albeit rich) people have already booked flights, paying between $95,000 and $200,000 each, and next year Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is expected to send up its first passengers. That’s where the Philadelphia training comes in. Commercial space needs workers: gravity-free professionals to serve tourists, researchers, and the businesses around them…Before long, “you’re definitely going to see a larger core of commercial astronauts than government astronauts,” says Eric Anderson, president of Space Adventures, the only company thus far to put civilians into orbit…To get a peek at how commercial space will prepare its people, I signed up for private astronaut training, a three-day NASTAR certificate course for suborbital researchers. Founded in 2006, NASTAR began as a showcase for its parent company, Environmental Tectonics Corp., a leading maker of flight simulators. In 2010 it won Federal Aviation Administration approval for private space training, the first company to do so…”
  2. X PRIZE Foundation Appoints Alexandra Hall to Senior Director of Google Lunar X PRIZE http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/x-prize-foundation-appoints-alexandra-hall-senior-director-30-million-google-lunar-x-1536359.htm “…Alexandra Hall…brings a wealth of experience in both the private and public sectors in USA and Europe to the X PRIZE Foundation. As the co-founder and former CEO of Airship Ventures, a company that uses airships for passenger flights, science research and media purposes, Hall is credited with breaking new ground in aviation by bringing Zeppelin airships back to the U.S. after 70 years…Hall has a degree in Astrophysics from the University of Leicester in United Kingdom and is regarded as a leader in bringing space and astronomy to the public…Hall will draw on her professional experience and enthusiasm for space exploration to manage all aspects of the Google Lunar X PRIZE…”
  3. SpaceX to break ground on new launch facility at Vandenberg AFB http://www.dailybreeze.com/business/ci_18457607 Space Exploration Technologies, the Hawthorne-based launch vehicle developer, will break ground Wednesday on the future launch pad of its largest planned rocket. SpaceX…plans to launch its future Falcon Heavy - which would be the largest launch vehicle since the Saturn V moon rocket - from its newest SpaceX launch pad, at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc…The company says the Falcon Heavy will set a record for affordable spaceflight, with more than twice the performance of the space shuttle or Delta IV Heavy rocket, which is operated by United Launch Alliance. Standing 227 feet, the Falcon Heavy would be able to carry payloads weighing more than 53 metric tons to orbit, at one-third of the cost…SpaceX has not secured a primary customer for the first Falcon Heavy launch…because potential clients want to wait until the rocket has made a first successful launch. As a result, that first flight will be mostly self-financed by SpaceX…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

  1. C++AMP: Accelerated Massive Parallelism http://drdobbs.com/blogs/cpp/231000963 The next version of Microsoft Visual C++ will introduce C++ Accelerated Massive Parallelism, also known as "C++ AMP."…The first targets are GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) programming…You can use DirectCompute to run general-purpose code on the GPUs that provide support for this API…Microsoft wants to lower the barrier to entry for heterogeneous hardware programmability. C++ AMP builds on DirectCompute, introduces one core C++ language extension and makes it part of Visual C++, and integrates it with Visual Studio…Parallel programming is hard and heterogeneous hardware programmability combined with parallelism is even harder. However, C++ AMP introduces an STL-like library for multidimensional data, allowing you to use your existing C++ STL knowledge. Thus, if you are a Visual C++ developer, you don't have to learn a new language…We will have to wait for the next Visual Studio release to start working with C++ AMP…watch the demonstration "Blazing-fast code using GPUs and more, with C++ AMP" presented by Daniel Moth…”
  2. WebCL: New hardware power for Web apps? http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20077978-264/webcl-new-hardware-power-for-web-apps/ Web applications such as image editors and advanced games could get a new performance boost from a graphics chip's processing power through a technology called WebCL. Hardware acceleration is all the rage right now among browser makers: it can speed up everything from animating graphics to laying out all the elements of a Web page. Tapping directly into the hardware at a low level not only speeds things up, it saves precious battery power…several companies are hard at work on a new interface called WebCL…a browser-specific offshoot of a movement called GPGPU--general-purpose graphics processing unit…Some examples of what it can offer: image processing algorithms, video game engines to simulate real-world physics, and even mining bitcoin virtual currency…”

*****

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home