2011/07/26

NEW NET Weekly List for 26 Jul 2011

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 26 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. The Telecommuting Boom http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/07/a-plausible-thought-about-the-future-the-telecommuting-boom/242367/ “…There are…reasons that telecommuting hasn't taken off in the way some imagined, despite the fact that most information-age jobs could…be done from anywhere. In his new book…Michio Kaku argues that the current telepresence technology "doesn't offer the full spectrum of sensations that come with being there in person." Others suggest companies want to keep an eye on their employees or employees fear being out of sight and therefore out of mind, even though telework hasn't been shown to hurt career advancement…the real reason that telecommuting hasn't taken off …is that it's just less fun, particularly for the people most likely to adopt it. For younger people, going to an office is more fun than sitting at home. It's where they make friends and find camaraderie. Home is great for a few hours, and then it's kind of lonely and dull. While there are coworking spaces and coffeeshops, the easiest solution is to just go into the office…As the Internet-native generation, which communicates by IM even in the office, starts to have kids, they'll care less about office life and more about home. Telecommuting will take off. The…fun factor will be delivered by social tools like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ as well as better and easier video conferencing like Skype-in-Facebook and Google Hangout…”

2. Twilio Client Lets Developers Integrate VoIP Calling Into Any Application http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/26/twilio-client-lets-developers-integrate-voip-calling-into-any-application/ Twilio, the company that’s on a mission to help developers bake telephony into their applications, is launching a new feature this morning that could well give rise to a slew of startups (or, at the very least, a bunch of new features in existing web and mobile applications)…it’s letting developers integrate the flexible and cost-efficient power of VoIP — the sort of technology used by services like Skype and Google Voice — into their own applications. And it saves developers the hassles involved with building out the infrastructure typically required to handle a VoIP service. Meet Twilio Client…Twilio Client is probably best described as a platform that facilitates embedded VoIP communications…”

3. Bing Tests Ads Within Organic Search Results http://searchengineland.com/bing-tests-ads-within-organic-search-results-86957 “…RKGBlog blog posted a screen shot of Bing testing search ads directly in the organic results…I almost cannot believe it…Why is this so shocking? Placing search ads inline with organic free listings is somewhat taboo for search companies…to allow advertisers to inject ads with guaranteed rankings in the organic results seems unethical to me…they are almost completely blended into the organic results that they look to be completely unbiased, free, organic listings. The “ad” label all the way on the right can be completely missed…Microsoft has confirmed…testing and experimenting on Bing…we carefully measure user engagement and reaction to these changes…”

4. LucidChart http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/26/lucidchart-nabs-1-million-from-500-startups-2m-companies-and-k9-ventures/ LucidChart, a web-based diagramming application, announced today that it has raised $1 million in seed funding from 500 Startups, 2M Companies, K9 Ventures, as well as several angel investors…On a basic level, LucidChart combines elements of Excel, Photoshop, and Google Apps all in one clean, easy to use application. Whether you’re a developer, a web designer, or just an average web user, LucidChart allows the creatively-minded to create sexy, yet sophisticated graphs, mockups for websites or mobile apps, flowcharts, diagrams…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

5. Volvo automatic brakes could reduce car crashes http://wot.motortrend.com/iihs-collision-avoidance-systems-like-volvo-city-safety-work-98657.html “…the Highway Loss Data Institute has found that cars equipped with automatic collision avoidance programs do actually avoid more low-speed collisions…Volvo’s City Safety feature…can apply 100 percent of braking force automatically. The system, which is designed only to work in speeds less than 19 mph, can avoid or diminish the severity of low-speed collisions in high traffic conditions…when comparing the XC60 (which has had City Safety standard) to comparable midsize SUVs, property damage liability claims went down 27 percent, bodily injury claims went down 51 percent, and collision claims went down 22 percent…The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration announced in response that they’re performing “extensive” research on features like City Safety…Volvo has announced that they’ll be turning to avoiding other collisions…the XC60 is now available with a pedestrian detection system that uses cameras to detect up to 64 pedestrians and can, in an emergency, apply the brakes to avoid hitting them. Looking forward, Volvo says it is looking to tweak the system to help drivers avoid hitting animals like deer, moose, and cows that stray onto roads…”

6. Oracle scrubs site of embarrassing Java blog http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20082151-93/scoop-oracle-scrubs-site-of-embarrassing-java-blog/ “…In the midst of its nasty legal battle with Google, Oracle seems to have resorted to a bit of Web site scrubbing. The database software giant is suing Google for allegedly infringing on its Java patents in the Android mobile operating system. Now, quietly, Oracle has removed all the blog posts of former Sun Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz from its Web site, including one embarrassing one that praised Google's use of Java in Android. Oracle acquired Sun and its Java programming language in January 2010…when Google launched Android, Schwartz, a prolific blogger, praised Google's use of Java in a blog post titled "Congratulations Google, Red Hat and the Java Community!" "I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of others from Sun in offering my heartfelt congratulations to Google on the announcement of their new Java/Linux phone platform, Android. Congratulations!" Schwartz wrote…”

7. China Steps Up Web Monitoring, Driving Many Wi-Fi Users Away http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/26/world/asia/26china.html New regulations that require bars, restaurants, hotels and bookstores to install costly Web monitoring software are prompting many businesses to cut Internet access and sending a chill through the capital’s game-playing, Web-grazing literati who have come to expect free Wi-Fi with their lattes and green tea. The software, which costs businesses about $3,100, provides public security officials the identities of those logging on to the wireless service of a restaurant, cafe or private school and monitors their Web activity. Those who ignore the regulation and provide unfettered access face a $2,300 fine and the possible revocation of their business license. “From the point of view of the common people, this policy is unfair,” said Wang Bo, the owner of L’Infusion…“It’s just an effort to control the flow of information.”…Recent regulations make it difficult for individuals unaffiliated with a company to create personal Web sites…At public cybercafes, where much of China’s working class gains access to the Internet, customers must hand over state-issued identification before getting on a computer. The new measures, it would appear, are designed to eliminate a loophole…that has allowed laptop- and iPad-owning college students and expatriates, as well as the hip and the underemployed, to while away their days at cafes and lounges surfing the Web in relative anonymity. It is this demographic that has been at the forefront of the microblogging juggernaut, one that has revolutionized how Chinese exchange information in ways that occasionally frighten officials…according to its publicly issued circular, the measure is designed to thwart criminals who use the Internet to “conduct blackmail, traffic goods, gamble, propagate damaging information and spread computer viruses…”

8. Sony insurer sues to deny data breach coverage http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/22/us-insurance-sony-idUSTRE76K3PY20110722 One of Sony Corp's insurers has asked a court to declare that it does not have to pay to defend the media and electronics conglomerate from mounting legal claims related to a massive data breach earlier this year. The dispute comes as demand soars for "cyberinsurance," with companies seeking to protect themselves against customer claims and associated costs for data and identity theft. How to write such policies has become a huge subject of debate in the insurance industry. Zurich American Insurance Co…is likely to argue that the sort of general liability insurance it wrote for Sony was never intended to cover digital attacks…”

9. Hackers Shift Attacks to Small Firms http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304567604576454173706460768.html “…cyber thieves planted a software program on the cash registers at his two Chicago-area magazine shops that sent customer credit-card numbers to Russia. MasterCard Inc. demanded an investigation, at Mr. Angelastri's expense, and the whole ordeal left him out about $22,000. His experience highlights a growing threat to small businesses…Small companies, which are making the leap to computerized systems and digital records, have now become hackers' main target…small businesses generally have weak security…Visa Inc. estimates about 95% of the credit-card data breaches it discovers are on its smallest business customers…says Dean Kinsman, a special agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's cyber division…"It's going to get much worse before it gets better."…The fact that there are so many types of security threats makes it difficult for small firms to protect themselves…a Bellingham, Wash., restaurant called Burger Me LLC had its computerized cash register hacked. Criminals made untold numbers of fraudulent charges on customer credit cards…a credit-card company shut down Burger Me's account and put a hold on thousands of dollars in incoming payments…fees and lost business from not being able to accept credit cards put Mr. Griffith in so much debt…that he closed his formerly break-even burger joint…A 2010 survey…of small- and medium-size retailers in the U.S. found that 64% believed their businesses weren't vulnerable to card data theft…many small businesses neglect basic security measures such as changing default passwords…The investigator discovered a program called Kameo was capturing everything that came into Mr. Angelastri's system…Kameo was exporting that information over the Internet…the hackers…gained access to Mr. Angelastri's computer through a program he used to periodically access his technology system from outside the shop. The program could be used by anyone who knew the password, and he had picked an especially weak one: "pos," a common nickname for the cash-register software that was also the system's user name…The data also was being sent to an Internet server in Russia hosted by a Russian hosting company called FirstVDS…Aleksandr Belykh, the head of the abuse department of FirstVDS, said the user of the virtual server…is Russian…Mr. Belykh wouldn't disclose other details…”

10. Jammie Thomas judgment lowered from $1.5 million to $54,000 http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20081934-261/jammie-thomas-judgment-lowered-from-$1.5-million-to-$54000/ “…Last year, Rasset was ordered to pay $62,500 for each of the 24 songs she was accused of uploading illegally to the Web but in a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis that sum was lowered to $2,250 per song. The total damages award she is required to pay now has fallen from $1.5 million to $54,000…In Davis' decision, he makes it clear that he supports the jury's decision that Thomas-Rasset is liable for copyright infringement…He also found that Thomas-Rasset deserves to be punished. "She lied in her trial testimony by denying responsibility for her infringing acts and instead, casting possible blame on her children and ex-boyfriend for her actions." But he agrees with Thomas-Rasset's lawyers that the amount of damages awarded by the jury is extreme…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

11. Look Out: Your Android Is Leaking http://www.esecurityplanet.com/trends/article.php/3937516/Look-Out-Your-Android-Is-Leaking.htm The headlines in mid-May had to frighten just about every Android user: “Androids Leaking Personal Data,” the stories shrieked…The problem: ClientLogin sent authentication tokens (basically user name and password) in clear text and, documented the Ulm researchers, it proved to be easy-peasy for just about anybody on a public WiFi network to snatch tokens of Android users on the network. And that could give those hackers access into personal accounts and, possibly, also into enterprise networks…almost immediately upon learning of the leak, Google’s Android team devised a patch…The bad news is there are plenty of other security vulnerabilities with Android phones…A core problem, she elaborated, “is developer laziness.”…many Android apps routinely request data and service access permissions they do not in fact need and, worse, some apps may transmit private user data in clear text…“We’ve seen these types of vulnerabilities across all platforms," said Khoi Nguyen, group product manager, mobile security group, Symantec. "There is nothing unique to Android.” Nguyen also suggested that an enterprises urge users to closely inspect the permissions requested by any app during installation and to say yes only if the requests make sense. Android, to its credit, highlights exactly what access the app requests…” [so this highlights a development opportunity for Android – come up with an app that examines other apps for known security risks and malware, asks you to check off each risk as being acceptable (opt-in for security risks) and generates an auto-email to the developer for that app asking them to remove those security risks or send you a reply email explaining why those ‘perceived risks’ are useful and necessary – ed.]

12. Mozilla’s Open-Source, Mobile Answer To ChromeOS http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/25/boot-to-gecko-mozillas-open-source-mobile-answer-to-chromeos/ “…from the heart of Mozilla’s developer newsgroup comes news of an ambitious new project: a standalone, web-based operating system. If that concept sounds familiar, I’ve also just described the core of Google’s Chrome OS which we’re beginning to see pop up on netbooks…It’s currently being developed for mobile devices. And it’s partially Android-based…the impetus behind the Boot to Gecko project is to “make open web technologies a better basis for future applications on mobile and desktop alike”. A lofty goal to be sure, as the core underpinnings would ultimately extend beyond just mobile devices. Should Gal and his colleagues (and really anyone who wants to help) succeed, Boot to Gecko would have the potential to change how we interact with the web, regardless of platform…”

13. Sprint & University of Notre Dame do 3-year study on students' wireless and social networking habits http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sprint-joins-university-of-notre-dame-for-groundbreaking-three-year-study-on-students-wireless-and-social-networking-habits-2011-07-26?reflink=MW_news_stmp “…The comments and questions have been floating about for years: "Kids these days don't talk anymore. They only text." "Don't college kids have any shame? They'll spill their guts on Facebook before talking to a real-live person."…does mobile technology actually help students learn to better express themselves and ultimately enhance their face-to-face interactions? Such questions will be studied and answered during a pioneering, three-year study by The Wireless Institute, the University of Notre Dame's preeminent research center aimed at developing innovations and educating students in wireless technology, economics and regulatory policy…"Mobile technology is central to the lives of American youth," said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse…Hesse is a graduate of Notre Dame. More than 98.8 percent of college students own a cell phone, according to a 2010 study from Ball State University…”

Apps

14. FDA Plans to Regulate Smartphone Apps http://www.pcworld.com/article/236011/fda_plans_to_regulate_smartphone_apps.html The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans Tuesday morning to regulate medical smartphone apps. Recent years have seen an explosion in smartphone apps related to health and medicine--the Associated Press estimates that there are already over 17,000 medical apps on the market…For now the FDA plans to regulate smartphone apps that combine with medical devices that are already regulated by the FDA. In other words, apps pertaining to heart monitors and other medical devices, but your diet planning app will remain unaffected…The CTIA Wireless association, a wireless industry group…says that the regulation hits the right balance. "Overall we think the FDA has taken a very reasonable and sensible approach on this. They've made some clear distinctions with regards to mobile medicine. It sets the stage for continued development and gives everybody an idea of what is and is not covered under the FDA guidance…”

15. How to Use Mobile Apps to Find the Perfect Spot to Pitch a Tent! http://www.life360.com/blog/how-to-use-mobile-apps-to-find-the-perfect-spot-to-pitch-a-tent/ “…while those rustic, true-blue hardcore adventurers will be getting out their maps… there is a certain…majority of us out there who will take every bit of help we can get from technology if it helps us set camp in a place that’s: the perfect elevation for sun, rather than rain; no bears nearby, or huge animals of any kind; or a perfect lakeside campsite if that’s what our heart desires! So, here is my brief rundown of a few such apps which can help us do just that…Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder…allows you to find the camping spot in the area that you wish to go, with the activities that you want to enjoy.They call it a “comprehensive database of every national park, state park and federal public land in America.” – That’s pretty impressive! Activities you can select from in your search include bird watching, bicycling, caving, climbing, fishing, horseback riding, water sports, and wildlife viewing…Camp Finder…AllStays Camp & Tent…we suggest you always travel with a GPS, and other useful apps and websites for your road trip…” [the camper-outdoors part of me thinks this is horrid, but the tech-entrepreneur-innovation part of me says this shows ingenuity and may have value – ed.]

16. Home health devices, mobile apps need to be connected to providers http://www.fiercehealthit.com/story/home-health-devices-mobile-apps-need-be-connected-providers/2011-07-24 “…Increasingly, home devices are being used to monitor the health status and vital signs of patients; at the same time, there also has been an explosion of mobile apps that can work with such devices, smartphones, and/or tablets to aid consumers in managing their own health. Both of these developments hold promise for improving post-acute and chronic care…To really apply the new technologies in ways that will prevent readmissions, doctors must be online with their patients and their caregivers, and must receive relevant data from both in a way that's easy to use…Despite evidence of home monitoring's efficacy, payers that cover it are few and far between…”

Open Source

17. Lightweight Portable Security (LPS)-A Linux distro from DoD http://www.unixmen.com/software/1832-lightweight-portable-security-lps-a-linux-disto-from-the-us-department-of-defense Lightweight Portable Security (LPS), created by USA's Department of Defence, is a small Linux live CD focusing on privacy and security, for this reason, it boots from a CD and executes from RAM, providing a web browser, a file manager and some interesing tools…The idea behind it is that government workers can use a CDROM or USB stick to boot into a tamper proof, pristine desktop when using insecure computers such as those available in hotels or a worker’s own home. The environment that it offers should be largely resistant to Internet-borne security threats such as viruses and spyware, particularly when launched from read-only media such as a CDROM…”

18. Commercials and movies built with Blender http://www.unixmen.com/software/1754-commercial-a-movies-built-in-blender “…Blender is one of the most efficient, feature-packed, powerful…software with which you can create professional quality animation. Blender is cross platform, all-in-one 3D modeling and animation software suit that can be used to create computer generated images and movies! In contrast to any professional, feature intensive 3D modeling software which are priced in thousands of dollars, Blender, is an open source freeware and costs you nothing…Blender has been used for the production of TV commercials in Brazil, Australia, Iceland, and Sweden. I am highlighting a few here…blender is used in many mega media projects! You will be excited to note some amazing animation movies that have used the open source 3d modeling tool Blender…”

19. Wordpress vs Drupal vs Joomla http://www.techi.com/2011/07/open-source-wars-wordpress-vs-drupal-vs-joomla/ “…Wordpress vs Drupal vs Joomla – which is really the king of open source CMS? Our friends at Devious Media tackled the question and did a comprehensive breakdown, putting each CMS under a microscope to answer the most important questions to help people make a choice…” [an interesting infographic addressing the question of which open source CMS to use – ed.]

SkyNet

20. Google Deletes Last 7 Years Of User's Digital Life, Shrugs http://consumerist.com/2011/07/google-deletes-last-7-years-of-users-digital-life-shrugs.html Something happened to Dylan's Google account, and it's been disabled. He doesn't know what happened to the account, and no one at Google…is interested in acknowledging the problem or letting him back in to the cloud-based services where all of his correspondence and much of the digital trail from the last few years of his life is stored…He wrote a long and detailed open letter to Google…Dear Google…you turned off my entire Google account. You had absolutely no reason to do this, despite your automated message telling me your system "perceived a violation." I did not violate any Terms of Service, either Google's or account specific ToS…My Google account was tied to nearly every product Google has developed, meaning that I lost everything in those accounts as well…I had spent roughly four months slowly consolidating my entire online presence, email accounts, banking info, student records, etc…That means in terms of information, approximately 7 years of correspondence, over 4,800 photographs and videos, my Google Voice messages…I am sure as the days continue I will realize other things that Google has destroyed in their unwarranted disabling of my account…Why anyone would entrust anything to "The Cloud" after what I have gone through is completely beyond my ability to comprehend…I have exhausted the help forums. And that has only made me much angrier. I will not bother to quote the nonsensical exchanges I have had, there are too many and they will only aggravate me further…the only time a Google employee posted in my thread was to say that my question was in the wrong forum, and to tell me that I should have posted in the forum that it was originally posted in…There is no other corporation trading stock at the level of Google that does not offer customer support…In addition to the forums I also filed every form and request I could find and attempted to contact every office and even went in person to both Manhattan offices, but not one single person has been able to offer any assistance, which I find shocking and infuriating in a Kafkaesque nightmarish way. I was even told by one employee that they don't know what I should do and that, "Honestly, I don't even use Google.” [How much of your life’s data is stored only online? This highlights an opportunity for NEW NET or the DHMN to develop a standard system for backing up all data of value that one stores online, whether in Google services, on your own websites, in specialized storage sites such as Flickr, or in general storage services such as Dropbox or MS Skydrive – ed.]

21. Make multiple calls in Gmail http://googlevoiceblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/make-multiple-calls-in-gmail.html “…Until now…you were limited to making one call at a time. Today we're excited to relax that restriction and allow you to make or receive multiple calls in Gmail. If you’re in a call and make a second one, your first call will be put on hold while you talk on your new call. You can switch between calls by pressing the “Resume” button on the call you want to talk on, which will automatically put the previous call on hold…”

22. Google Places Removes Third-Party Reviews, Yelp, TripAdvisor Snippets http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20083249-93/google-pulls-third-party-reviews-from-places/ Google has stopped posting reviews snippets from third party-sites on its Places page. The Web giant made the move late last week after months of complaints from sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, which claimed their content was being republished without compensation. "Based on careful thought about the future direction of Place pages, and feedback we've heard over the past few months, review snippets from other Web sources have now been removed from Place pages," Avni Shah, director of product management at Google, wrote in a Google blog post explaining the move. "Rating and review counts reflect only those that've been written by fellow Google users…”

23. Google+ is the social backbone http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/07/google-plus-social-backbone.html The launch of Google+ is the beginning of a fundamental change on the web…Google+ is the rapidly growing seed of a web-wide social backbone, and the catalyst for the ultimate uniting of the social graph…Search removed the need to remember domain names and URLs. It's a superior way to locate content. The social backbone will relieve our need to manage email addresses and save us laborious "friending" and permission-granting activity — in addition to providing other common services such as notification and sharing. Though Google+ is the work of one company, there are good reasons to herald it as the start of a commodity social layer for the Internet…Because we have many different contexts and levels of intimacy with people in these groups, we're inclined to use different systems to interact with them. Facebook for gaming, friends and family. LinkedIn for customers, recruiters, sales prospects. Twitter for friends and celebrities. And so on into specialist communities: Instagram and Flickr, Yammer or Salesforce Chatter…The situation is reminiscent of electronic mail before it became standardized…An interoperable email system created widespread benefit…Email reduced distance and time between people, enabling rapid iteration of ideas, collaboration and community formation…The social backbone won't just make it easier to handle permissions, identity and sharing, but will naturally exert pressure for further interoperation between applications…When working with others, the faster and higher bandwidth the communication, the better…Facebook provides the most rounded complement of social features, so it's a reasonable question to ask why Facebook itself can't provide the social backbone for the Internet. Facebook's chief flaw is that is a closed platform. Facebook does not want to be the web. It would like to draw web citizens into itself, so it plays on the web, but in terms that leave no room for doubt where the power lies. Content items in Facebook do not have a URI, so by definition can never be part of the broader web. If you want to use Facebook's social layer, you must be part of and subject to the Facebook platform…Why is Google+ is the genesis of a social backbone? The simple answer is that it's the first system to combine a flexible enough social model with a widespread user base, and a company for whom exclusive ownership of the social graph isn't essential to their business…”

24. Google Image Search Shows More Information About Photos http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2011/07/google-image-search-shows-more.html Google's image search engine started to show additional information about photos after clicking the results. The landing page's sidebar includes EXIF data: camera, settings, focal length, flash usage and exposure bias. "Additional details are found from within the image file, often saved there by the digital camera that took the picture or the application that generated the image. This data can also be manually added or changed after the image has been created…Another change is that you can click "more sizes" for other versions of the image and "similar images" for visually related images…”

25. Google Acquires Facial Recognition Software Company PittPatt http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/22/google-acquires-facial-recognition-software-company-pittpatt/ Google has just acquired facial recognition software company PittPatt (Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition)…PittPatt, a project spawned from Carnegie Mellon University, develops a facial recognition technology that can match people across photos, videos, and more. The company has created a number of algorithms in face detection, face tracking and face recognition. PittPatt’s face detection and tracking SDK locates human faces in photographs and tracks the motion of human faces in video…”

General Technology

26. Lens-Free, Pinhead-Size Camera Developed http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110706101557.htm It's like a Brownie camera for the digital age: The microscopic device fits on the head of a pin, contains no lenses or moving parts, costs pennies to make -- and this Cornell-developed camera could revolutionize an array of science from surgery to robotics…Their working prototype, detailed online in the journal Optics Letters (July 6, 2011), is 100th of a millimeter thick, and one-half millimeter on each side. The camera resolves images about 20 pixels across -- not portrait studio quality, but enough to shed light on previously hard-to-see things…there are a lot of applications out there that require just a little bit of dim vision,"…Gill, whose other research interests involve making sense of how the brain's neurons fire under certain stimuli, began this invention as a side project related to work on developing lens-less implantable systems for imaging brain activity…”

27. Geekatoo Looks To Overthrow Geek Squad http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/25/geekatoo-looks-to-overthrow-geek-squad-and-fix-your-computer-for-cheap/ It’s Monday morning. You groggily open your email inbox and come across a set of photos from a cousin you haven’t spoken to in years. ‘Summer Trip!!!’, it’s called. You double-click, shrug as nothing happens, and watch a minute later as your taskbar slowly fills up with icons you’ve never seen before…Panic sets in…This sounds like a call for… GEEK SQUAD! Err, wait. Maybe not. Best Buy’s computer repair service can be quite pricey (and it’s difficult to tell exactly how much it costs from their website)…Enter Geekatoo, a company that’s similar to RedBeacon, Zaarly, TaskRabbit, but that has a much narrower focus: helping people get their computers fixed…First you type in a brief description of what’s going on, some system information (Mac or PC?), and some basic personal information (name, phone number, zip code). The service prompts you to set a bid window…The job then gets added to a queue visible to the site’s Geeks, who can bid against each other to determine who’s willing to offer the lowest fee to fix the job. Clients (in this case, you) can look at profiles for each of these Geeks, which includes reviews left by former clients and any certifications they might have. After you’ve gotten a few bids you can choose the Geek you’d like to hire, at which point the site will facilitate setting up a call and/or meeting to fix your computer…”

28. Cracking the Code of the Mind http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110712094203.htm Machine logic is based on human logic. But although a computer processor can be dissembled and dissected in logical steps, the same is not true for the way our brains process information, says Mark Shein of Tel Aviv University…They have developed a new kind of a lab-on-a-chip platform that may help neuroscientists understand one of the deepest mysteries of our brain -- how neuronal networks communicate and work together…Shein has applied advanced mathematical and engineering techniques to connect neurons with electronics and understand how neuronal networks communicate. Hoping to answer ultimate questions about how our neuronal circuits work, the researchers believe their tool can be also used to test new drugs. It might also advance artificial intelligence and aid scientists in rewiring artificial limbs to our brain…”

DHMN Technology

29. New Technology Allows Lenses to Change Color Rapidly http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110712094050.htm A University of Connecticut scientist has perfected a method for creating quick-changing, variable colors in films and displays, such as sunglasses…The new technology also has captured the interest of the U.S. military as a way to assist soldiers who need to be able to see clearly in rapidly changing environments…This is the next big thing for transition lenses…Sotzing's new technology does things slightly differently -- his electrochromic lenses are controlled by an electric current passing through them when triggered by a stimulus, such as light…if a person emerges from a dark passageway and into the desert, a lens that would alter its color instantly to complement the surroundings could mean life or death for some soldiers. "Right now, soldiers have to physically change the lenses in their goggles,"…Currently in talks with sunglass manufacturers, Sotzing says that the world of Hollywood could have a market for this technology. He describes applications he calls "freaky," including colors that move back and forth across the glasses…”

30. A Chilean Teen Tweets About Earthquakes Better Than His Whole Government http://gizmodo.com/5822319/a-chilean-teen-tweets-about-earthquakes-better-than-his-whole-government “…Sebastian Alegria, a 14-year-old Chilean high school student, decided to hack together a twitter alert system that's already a year ahead of the Chilean government's own planned project. Alegria's rudimentary yet effective system comes from having survived Chile's own earthquakes last year and seeing the devastation that covered Japan earlier this year. Keen on finding an inexpensive solution for early earthquake detection, he rigged an Arduino and domestic earthquake detector to tweet seconds before detectable seismic activity. Tweeting from @AlarmaSismos, it has already successfully detected every major earthquake that could be felt from Santiago since May…He plans on deploying more sensors throughout the country…”

31. Make music wearing the Imaginary Marching Band http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20083089-1/make-music-wearing-the-imaginary-marching-band/ “…The Imaginary Marching Band consists of several pairs of open-source gloves that let you create music as though you were playing actual instruments. Using the Arduino-based wearable instruments--which can reproduce notes using MIDI data output via USB--you can produce the sounds of the trumpet, trombone, tuba, snare drum, bass drum, and cymbals. The gloves can be used with any audio-editing software…"The Imaginary Marching Band proposes a reality where technology helps us interact with the real world in more memorable, unique, and ultimately fun ways," Peterman says on his Kickstarter page…”

32. Taking the Parrot AR. Drone from Virtual to Reality http://www.designworldonline.com/articles/7556/12/Taking-the-Parrot-AR--Drone-from-Virtual-to-Reality.aspx “…The Mechanical and Design Department at Paris-based Parrot developed a promising concept for a remote-controlled aircraft for gamers. Compatible with iPhone®, iPad® or iPod® touch devices, the remote-controlled ‘quadricopter’ was designed to fly missions indoors and out. But would it perform as planned? Only a fully functioning prototype would tell…the only way to find out how the Drone would fly was with injection molded parts in the actual materials that would be used for the finished product. Because of the time and expense involved, traditional injection molding was out of the question. Fortunately there was a low cost, high speed alternative—Protomold, the injection molding service from Proto Labs…Parrot’s engineers uploaded their 3D CAD models for the AR.Drone parts to the Protomold website. After receiving an interactive quote, with manufacturability analysis, they placed their order online. And in a fraction of the time conventional injection molding would have taken, a shipment of real, functioning plastic parts was in the Parrot team’s hands…“Proto Labs’ engineers made several technical suggestions for improving the moldability of the parts. It saved us a lot of potential headaches. And we were happy with the product we got—both in terms of lead times and the quality of the prototype parts…”

Leisure & Entertainment

33. Music publishers file copyright suit against Grooveshark http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20082136-261/music-publishers-file-copyright-suit-against-grooveshark/ Grooveshark just can't seem to shake its copyright woes. A group of songwriters and music publishers filed a lawsuit on July 15 in Tennessee against the digital-music service, claiming Grooveshark enables users to obtain music illegally and therefore is liable for copyright infringement, contributory infringement, and vicarious infringement. Grooveshark…is a service that offers free music by enabling users to post their own tracks to the site and then share them with other users. Grooveshark's "users and subscribers are actively infringing plaintiffs' copyrighted musical compositions," the plaintiffs said in their complaint…”

34. Apple forces Amazon to alter Kindle app http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20082925-93/apple-forces-amazon-to-alter-kindle-app/ Apple has finally brought the hammer down on e-reader apps, enforcing its new in app-subscription rules that require app developers to strip out any links to external mechanisms for purchasing digital books or subscriptions. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Canada-based Kobo have all updated their iOS e-reader apps, though as of this morning Barnes & Noble had only updated its Nook Kids app, not its main Nook app…”

35. NaNoWriMo http://www.romeoobserver.com/Story.asp?page=community&storyid=19938 “…Debra Wiseman…read about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The non-profit program challenges writers to complete a 50,000 word novel in the month of November…"It gives you focus and lets you know you're not the only one that has trouble," she said of the contest. "It gives a place where you can go if you need help . . . they even teach you how to publish your novel."…"I thought it would be fun to do a story about someone who moved to a city and experienced it for the first time, and that's how I started my book in November," she said…After finishing the novel, titled "Bryn's Family Plan," Wiseman sent it to smashwords.com, a website where authors can publish their works as eBooks and name their own prices…As an eBook, her novel can be read on computers as well as on devices such as Nooks and Kindles…"I wouldn't have gotten published it if wasn't for that contest," she said. "The other novels I just wrote, and I knew I'd finish them because I had proven I had done it."…Given the success she has had, Wiseman is also hoping to set up a "barcamp," where writers in the area would meet in a coffee shop, library or diner and write together in order to exchange ideas and encourage one another. She said she hopes to organize the event in the fall to gear up for the November 2011 contest…”

36. Netflix Deal with DreamWorks http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/netflix_deal_with_dreamworks_a_potential_roadmap_f.php (thanks: +Robyn Tippins) Netflix and DreamWorks Animation are reportedly in negotiations to bring DreamWorks movies to the video streaming service. In and off itself, that is not major news. Netflix makes and breaks content distribution agreements with different partners all the time. Yet, the DreamWorks deal would directly affect the pocketbook of one of Netflix's major competitors - HBO…HBO is willing to let DreamWorks out of the deal two years early, making the studios' animated movies available to Netflix in 2013. It would be a bit of a coup for Netflix to be the go-to movie distributor over the likes of HBO and a signal both the mid-term future of content streaming…Netflix is at the mercy of its content partnerships. As the company grows and disrupts traditional media businesses, licensing agreements are getting steeper and more difficult to negotiate…”

37. Humble Bundle Launches Its Third Pay-What-You-Want Video Game Offer http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/humble_bundle_launches_its_third_pay-what-you-want.php “…Humble Bundle is set to launch its latest package deal today, continuing its successful "pay-what-you-want" business model with the release of a new bundle containing 5 indie games. This bundle includes: Crayon Physics Deluxe, Cogs, VVVVVV, Hammerfight, and And Yet It Moves. As with the previous Humble Bundles, these games are all available cross platform (several of which are making their Mac and Linux debuts with this offer) and are DRM-free…”

Economy and Technology

38. However we vote, Amazon loses http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cap-amazon-tax-20110725,0,114958.column “…Seattle-based Amazon has filed a referendum to repeal a new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that, as of July 1, required out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes on online purchases by Californians. Budget-writers conservatively expected the tax collection to raise about $317 million in this fiscal year, $200 million of it for the deficit-strapped state general fund and the rest for local governments…Amazon promptly refused to obey the law and fired 10,000 California "affiliates" — website operators that provided links to its online showrooms in return for a commission. Without the physical tie to California of affiliates, Amazon claims, it isn't required to collect taxes under a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling…Last week, Amazon was given permission by state officials to begin collecting the roughly 500,000 signatures needed to qualify its repeal measure for the next statewide ballot, probably June 2012…”

39. Jumio Turns Webcams into Credit Card Readers http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/jumio_turns_webcams_into_credit_card_readers_on_desktop_and_mobile.php “…Jumio is today launching a new technology called Netswipe that turns any webcam into a credit card reader, both on the desktop and on mobile. The service aims to bridge the convenience of online and mobile shopping with the security inherent in face-to-face transactions. It also makes it incredibly easy to shop — you just hold up your credit card in front of your webcam…Credit card fraud is a big problem, explains Jumio founder and CEO Daniel Mattes, "it's 200 hundred billion per year in the U.S. alone,"…When conducting business online, the fraud risk is even greater because merchants are dealing with "card not present" transactions - meaning transactions where a physical card has not been swiped in a reader. When merchants process these fraudulent transactions, they end up dealing with chargebacks and lost revenue…The company's staff uses a 24/7 monitoring tool to track potential fraud, but are not involved in the actual transactions. It's the software that knows if you're holding up a real credit card or a piece of paper…” http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/26/jumio-turns-webcams-into-credit-card-readers-and-why-merchants-will-welcome-netswipers/

40. LinkedIn Debuts Embeddable Job Application Tool For Companies http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/25/linkedin-debuts-embeddable-job-application-tool-for-companies/ “…LinkedIn is rolling out a major plug-in to companies—Apply With LinkedIn. The new plug-in (initial details on the feature were originally revealed by GigaOm in early June), puts an “Apply with LinkedIn” button to any company website. Companies can customize the look and feel of the “Apply with LinkedIn” module to feel like part of a specific branding. And companies can manage submissions by routing applications to email address or a web app for applying for a job…Some of the first companies to debut “Apply with LinkedIn” button on their company websites include Netflix, TripIt, and Photobucket. LinkedIn says another thousand companies will be rolling out the Apply With LinkedIn button…” [this could give LinkedIn a huge advantage over other job sites – ed.]

Civilian Aerospace

41. Commercialising the Moon: the Lunar X Prize and beyond http://www.theengineer.co.uk/in-depth/the-big-story/commercialising-the-moon-the-lunar-x-prize-and-beyond/1009410.article “…With the last mission of the space shuttle underway and NASA’s plans for future manned missions to space seemingly on hold, it might seem odd to talk about the Moon as a target for exploration. But for a number of organisations, the race to the moon is back on, with the prize of increased scientific knowledge and, some are convinced, of enormous financial gains…The Space X Prize was the springboard for Virgin Galactic and SpaceShipOne’s successor, SpaceShipTwo, is currently undergoing flight trials ahead of a planned first commercial flight later this year. With Virgin Galactic claiming to have secured some 500 customers, each paying $200,000 for their flight, commercial space flight certainly seems to be a sound and potentially lucrative venture. The Lunar X Prize entrants have similar hopes. ’Some people argue that the first group of trillionaire entrepreneurs will be involved in the commercialisation of space,’ said Michael Potter, leader of the first team to register for the Lunar X Prize, Odyssey Moon. Based on the Isle of Man, although working mainly from San Francisco, the organisation has already secured a number of customers for lunar landing services from a surprising range of sectors, from hard science to performance art. With Potter quoting costs of up to $5m per pound of payload, it certainly seems like the Moon is a viable business proposition…”

42. Ghostly Landing of Atlantis Closes America’s Space Shuttle Era Forever http://www.universetoday.com/87655/ghostly-landing-of-atlantis-closes-americas-space-shuttle-era/ Atlantis swoops in like a ghost to end NASA’s Space Shuttle Era on July 21, 2011…Barely discernable in the pre-dawn twilight and appearing as an eerie, ghost like figure, Space Shuttle Atlantis and her four person crew swiftly glided to a triumphant landing at the Kennedy Space Center that closed out NASA’s three decade long Space Shuttle Era – in the wink of an eye it was all over…The finality of it all was at once thoroughly unbelievable that the shuttles would never fly again but utterly definitive at ‘wheel stop’ that we had witnessed the end of a historic and magnificent Era in human spaceflight. Everyone present at the shuttle landing strip let out a loud cheer and thankful applause upon the safe conclusion to the 135th and last flight of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program – since the first blastoff of Columbia on the STS-1 mission on April 12, 1981…” [check out the picture of Atlantis in this article – pretty cool photo for the ending of an era – ed.]

43. Americans Back Private Space Entrepreneurs http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/innovation/2011/07/22/poll-finds-american-support-private-versus-government-space-missions “…most of the public wants to see the United States develop a new spacecraft that will send astronauts into space. A majority say they would prefer to see private enterprise rather than a government program achieve that goal…Only 38 percent of those polled think the nation should rely on the government to run the country’s manned space missions in the future, while 54 percent say private companies should take the wheel.”

Supercomputing & GPUs

44. New Cornell Collaboration to Explore GPU Computing Using MATLAB http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/2011-07-19/new_cornell_collaboration_to_explore_gpu_computing_using_matlab.html “…Cornell University Center for Advanced Computing (CAC) today announced that it is testing the performance of general-purpose GPUs with MATLAB applications in a new research collaboration with NVIDIA, Dell, and MathWorks. This research will explore GPU computing capabilities for data manipulation on NVIDIA GPUs using MATLAB applications. In particular, Cornell will focus on the use of multiple GPUs on the desktop via the MathWorks Parallel Computing Toolbox, and a GPU cluster via MATLAB Distributed Computing Server…“The launch of this GPU capability with eight nodes (each with eight CPU cores) and eight NVIDIA Tesla M2070 GPUs (each with 448 CUDA cores) is extremely valuable particularly for researchers needing to process large blocks of data in parallel…”

45. Multicore Association Launches Working Group to Create Parallel Programming API http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/2011-07-26/multicore_association_launches_working_group_to_create_parallel_programming_api.html The Multicore Association, a global non-profit organization that develops standards to speed time-to-market for products with multicore processor implementations, has announced its continued intent to tear down barriers that slow development of complex multicore applications. These barriers arise when programmers attempt to split programmatic workloads into parallel tasks that can be executed in parallel on different processor cores. The organization has launched a new working group, Multicore Task Management API (MTAPI), charged with creating an industry-standard specification for an application program interface (API) that supports the coordination of tasks on embedded parallel systems…”

46. GPU.NET 2.0 Brings HPC to Linux and Mac http://www.infoq.com/news/2011/07/GPU.NET-2 GPU.NET 2.0 supports Mono, enabling building and deploying computational intensive applications for Linux and Mac OS X along the already supported Windows. GPU.NET is a managed solution for writing computational intensive .NET applications that run on the GPU. The platform has its own compiler and runtime in order to avoid intermediary libraries that might slow it down and to generate cross platform binaries that can run on multiple systems. Currently only C# and F# are supported, but VB.NET support is to be added. GPU.NET runs on CUDA 4.0 NVIDIA graphics cards, with support for AMD devices being under development…”


*****

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