2011/08/09

NEW NET Weekly List for 09 Aug 2011

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 09 August 2011, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA, near Woodman's. Ignore the chain if it's across the stairs -- come on up and join the tech fun!

The ‘net

1. IE IQ story was bogus http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14370878 A story which suggested that users of Internet Explorer have a lower IQ than people who chose other browsers appears to have been an elaborate hoax. A number of media organisations, including the BBC, reported on the research, put out by Canadian firm ApTiquant…Questions about the authenticity of the story were raised by readers of the BBC website who established that the company which put out the research - ApTiquant - appeared to have only set up its website in the past month. Thumbnail images of the firm's staff on the website also matched those on the site of French research company Central Test, although many of the names had been changed…” [do you think BBC, CNN and other large mainstream media have a responsibility to do more thorough vetting of the articles they publish? – ed.]

2. Summify passes 2 billion aggregated stories, launches new design http://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2011/08/09/summify-passes-2-billion-aggregated-stories-launches-new-design-and-social-features/ Social summary service…works by automatically identifying the most important news stories for you across all of your networks and tells why they are important, so you can read what really matters. With this in mind, the Summify team has redesigned its email notifications to include clearly indicate the headline, highlight the contributors and a small excerpt, all left-aligned for uniformity…” [you should consider going to the Summify website, http://summify.com/, and playing the video at the top of the site – ed.]

3. Introducing Yahoo! WebPlayer http://developer.yahoo.com/blogs/ydn/posts/2011/08/introducing-yahoo-webplayer/ “…we’re announcing the first beta version of Yahoo! WebPlayer…Web based media player written in HTML and JavaScript. It supports a variety of video and audio media formats and services…Beyond being a flexible and universal media player, Yahoo! WebPlayer comes with advanced technology that can automatically add relevant video to your Web pages…After the player is added to a site, when a page loads, the player scans the page contents and adds play buttons next to ‘playable’ items. Playable items could be references to supported media or specific recognized terms, such as movie titles. Once clicked, a play button will open a slick in-page player that will stream all the detected playable items as a unified playlist…WebPlayer provides an extremely easy way to add video and audio to Web pages – we take all the complexity out of embedding various media players…or even having to find relevant videos to go with your content…”

4. Wikipedia Says It's Losing Contributors http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=14231832 Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that is written entirely by volunteers…is losing contributors…Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said the nonprofit company that runs the site is scrambling to simplify editing procedures in an attempt to retain volunteers. "We are not replenishing our ranks…Despite Wikipedia's wide-reaching popularity, Wales said the typical profile of a contributor is "a 26-year-old geeky male" who moves on to other ventures, gets married and leaves the website. Other contributors leave because, 10 years after the website was launched, there are fewer new entries to add…”

Gigabit Internet

5. Teaming Up with Google http://www.energybiz.com/magazine/article/227959/teaming-google Imagine the possibilities if an entire community had access to the fastest Internet service in the world. Imagine if large companies, disadvantaged neighborhoods, research institutions and schools all had Internet connectivity 100 times faster than what is available anywhere else. Imagine the platform this would create for innovation and the potential for job creation. This is exactly what is happening…as a result of a…partnership between Google and Kansas City Power & Light to broadly deploy Google's 1-gigabit Internet service in Kansas City, Mo…We are particularly excited about the possibilities and benefits Google Fiber could bring to our transmission and distribution system as well as our smart grid demonstration project…we hope to be able to move from rapid and automated outage response to a system by which we are able to predict and prevent outages…we hope to marry state-of-the-art energy technology with next-generation communication and Internet technology, giving customers better information and more control over their energy use and utility bills.”

6. Virgin Media brings 1.5 Gbps Internet to London http://www.technobuffalo.com/internet/londoners-to-get-broadband-speeds-of-1-5gbps-thanks-to-virgin-media/ “…Virgin Media is going to give lucky east Londoners speeds of up to 1.5Gbps instead — that’s 50% faster than Google’s 1Gbps service in Kansas City, Kansas. The company has just started testing its DOCSIS2-powered network with a select few subscribers it dubs “triallists,” which offers download speeds of up to 240 times faster than the national average in the U.K., and upload speeds of up to 150Mbps. Those living around Old Street, an area known as ‘Silicon Roundabout’, are the first to gain access to the service, but if all goes well, it should roll out to everyone living in a cabled area…”

7. ZyXEL Launches New PLA4205 500 Mbps Powerline Adapters http://high-definition-digital.tmcnet.com/topics/high-definition-digital/articles/204419-zyxel-launches-new-pla4205-500-mbps-powerline-adapters.htm ZyXEL…launched its PLA4205 500 Mbps Powerline Adapters which are designed to accelerating HD media streaming, improve digital home entertainment experience. The adapters are capable of delivering enough bandwidth to run multiple HD media streaming, gaming, video chat and other network applications simultaneously in any room with a power outlet…powered by the latest IEEE 1901 technology and a Gigabit Ethernet port, its 500 Mbps Powerline Gigabit Ethernet Adapter can provide a stable high-performance network for users to enjoy multiple HD streams, multiplayer gaming and Web surfing simultaneously. With a pair of plug-and-play PLA4205 installed, one can easily extend their home network through any electrical outlet for Internet access by HDTVs, Blu-ray players, DVRs, PCs and game consoles…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

8. Hackers Take $1B a Year as Banks Blame Clients http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-04/hackers-take-1-billion-a-year-from-company-accounts-banks-won-t-indemnify.html Valiena Allison got a call from her bank…about a wire transfer from her company’s account. She told the managers she hadn’t approved the transfer…As Allison, chief executive officer of Sterling Heights, Michigan-based Experi-Metal Inc., was to learn, her company computer was approving other transfers as she spoke. During hours of frantic phone calls with her bank, Allison, 45, was unable to stop this cybercrime in progress as transfer followed transfer. By day’s end, $5.2 million was gone. She turned to her bank, a branch of Comerica Inc…to help recover the money for her metal-products firm. It got all but $561,000 of the funds. Then came the surprise: the bank said the loss was Experi-Metal’s problem because it had allowed Allison’s computer to be infected by the hackers…the fraud department at Comerica said: ‘What’s wrong with you? How could you let this happen?’” Allison said. In increments of a few thousand dollars to a few million per theft, cybercrooks are stealing as much as $1 billion a year from small and mid-sized bank accounts…” [Some cybercrime articles are more hype than reality; the issue of small businesses losing lots of money to cybercrime is reality. If you have a small business, are you well protected against cyber-losses? –ed.]

9. Privacy and social media investigation: how I tracked down an entire family from one tweet http://www.joannageary.com/2011/08/02/privacy-and-social-media-investigation-how-i-tracked-down-an-entire-family-from-one-tweet/ Last Saturday I presented to students…the primary aim was to get them up and running with their own blog and learn to publish online…I also knew it would be the perfect opportunity to gauge just how aware a group of bright, 16 and 17-year-olds were on the issues of web privacy and of just how easy it is to track down information about people online. The case study I included shocked them, especially when it came to Facebook privacy…I have been asked to explain the process I went through to obtain the information that I did…It frightens me how simple it was to get all that I did…Step 1…I chose a few keywords “gunfire, shot, attack, missile” and ran them through Twitter search…One in particular is particularly interesting: it references the first name of a person and says they were coming under attack. It also uses some army jargon that seems genuine…Step 2…I check the Twitter profile of the tweet. It provides me with what looked like the real name of the person tweeting, a profile picture, the town they live in and a profile description which connects them to the US military…Step 9…The couple have also been fantastically diligent with linking up with family members on Facebook…I now also get to see a list of profiles for the extended family. I learn the maiden name of the wife. It also turns out her mother has no privacy settings on her profile at all – her wall and all her photos are available to browse…I’ve gone from one tweet to knowing an entire family’s names, location, address, contact details, what they look like, how they are connected to the military and, potentially, where a part of the US army is coming under fire. I stop there because I am already completely freaked out by just how far I’ve already got from a few Google searches…it’s hard to see how we can always stop this type of jigsaw identification of people online…”

10. HOW TO: Remove yourself from ALL background check websites http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/j1mit/how_to_remove_yourself_from_all_background_check/ “…I decided to go ahead and use this list to collect removal procedures from ALL of these websites and provide direct links or instructions to do so. The following list was provided as being the "big boys", so if you remove your name from these ones then all the smaller "sites" should fall afterwards…Intelius.com, Acxiom.com, MyLife.com, ZabaSearch.com, Spoke.com, BeenVerified.com, PeekYou.com, USSearch.com, PeopleFinders.com, PeopleLookup.com, PeopleSmart.com, PrivateEye.com, WhitePages.com, USA-People-Search.com, Spokeo.com, PublicRecordsNow.com, DOBSearch.com, Radaris.com…How to remove yourself from each of these have been listed below…”

11. Google Group Members to Use Facial Recognition to Identify London Rioters http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/09/google-group-members-to-use-facial-recognition-to-identify-london-rioter/ A new Google Group called “London Riots Facial Recognition” has appeared online, in the wake of the riots that rocked the U.K. capital over the weekend. The group’s goal is to use facial recognition technologies to identify the looters who appear in online photos. The group appears to be thoughtfully considering its actions, in threads titled “Ethical Issues,” and “Keeping Things Legal,”…However, there’s a major “creepy” factor to this undertaking, too. The idea that a group of people would team up online to use (misuse?) facial recognition technologies in this way, notably outside professional law enforcement channels, seems like a modern take on vigilante style justice, where the torches of the angry villagers have turned into APIs and algorithms. In one newer thread, started just this morning, a commenter offers their assistance in building a tool using the Face.API, which could help identify people in photos posted on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter. There is even talk of using the Facebook Graph API and the Twitter API in conjunction with the Face.com one to help better identify the criminals…”

12. Google and Microsoft take patent war to the ‘net (Steve just smiles) “…Microsoft and Apple have always been at each other’s throats, so when they get into bed together you have to start wondering what's going on. Here is what’s happening: Android is on fire. More than 550,000 Android devices are activated every day, through a network of 39 manufacturers and 231 carriers. Android and other platforms are competing hard against each other, and that’s yielding cool new devices and amazing mobile apps for consumers. But Android’s success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents…” http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/03/microsoft-just-kicked-google-in-the-nuts/ “…Microsoft didn’t take too kindly to that remark. “Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no,” Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel tweeted out in response…in case that wasn’t enough, Frank Shaw, Microsoft Head of Communications, followed up…“Free advice for David Drummond – next time check with Kent Walker before you blog.,” Shaw tweeted, referring to another Google SVP and General Counsel…an email Walker apparently sent to Smith…reads as follows: Brad…After talking with people here, it sounds as though for various reasons a joint bid wouldn’t be advisable for us on this one…” [call me cynical, but it still seems likely Apple and Microsoft (and RIM) bought the Nortel patents with the primary purpose of pursuing lawsuits against Android; how many times do you know of where Google initiated a lawsuit? –ed.]

13. Spotify, Spokeo, AOL, Others Sued Over Web Tracking http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/08/tracking-lawsuit/ “…Spotify, AOL’s About.me, Slideshare.net, Spokeo and the news site Gigaom.com were sued Monday on the grounds that KISSmetrics’ tracking technology violated federal and state privacy laws…At issue are methods KISSmetrics used…to track users who have deleted their cookies. The company juggled a variety of other technologies including Flash, Silverlight, HTML5 and so-called ETags in cached browser files to place and read unique identifiers. The suit was filed by a group of lawyers, including Scott Kamber, who already filed suit against Hulu and KISSmetrics on Friday, the same day a U.C. Berkeley report said those companies were re-creating cookies after users deleted them…”

14. 10-Year-Old Presents App Exploit at DefCon http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14443001 A novel class of security problems have been found lurking in many mobile games by a ten-year old hacker. Going by the handle CyFi, the hacker presented her findings at the DefCon hacker conference…She found that advancing the clock on a tablet or phone can, in many games, open a loophole that can be exploited. CyFi discovered the bug after getting bored with the pace of farming games and seeking ways to speed them up…While many games detect and block clock-based cheating, CyFi found ways round these security measures. Disconnecting a phone from wi-fi and only advancing a clock by small amounts helped to open up the loophole as it forced the game into a state not tested by its original creators…CyFi's discovery has since been verified by independent security researchers. The exploit has been found to work in versions of games for both Apple and Android gadgets…CyFi gave a presentation about her findings at DefCon Kids, the first meeting at the larger DefCon Con hacker conference, aimed at younger people who are interested in tinkering with hardware and software…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

15. Kal-El Quad-Core Tegra 3 Tablets and Phones http://www.androidcentral.com/nvidia-kal-el-quad-core-tablets-coming-fall-phones-early-2012 “…our first look at NVIDIA's quad-core…"Kal-El"…pretty much floored us…NVIDIA now tells us…We'll see quad-core phones about a year after first seeing dual-core phones and tablets…While people have been throwing around the Tegra 3 name for the next-gen platform (NVIDIA's dual-core platform is Tegra 2), Kal-El is still just a code name, and Tegra 3's not official …”

16. HTC Explains Android Bootloader Unlock Process, Warranty-Voiding Tool Coming http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/03/htc-explains-android-bootloader-unlock-process-warranty-voiding-tool-coming-later-this-month/ “…HTC CEO Peter Chou announced that the company will no longer be locking bootloaders on their devices…The process will begin with a web tool (due out later this month) through which you register an account and waive all liability in the event things go horribly wrong…you can kiss parts (or all) of your warranty goodbye…The first devices that are set to benefit from the unlocking treatment are the global version of the HTC Sensation, followed buy T-Mobile’s version of the device and the Sprint Evo 3D. Since unlocking the bootloader is one the of the first steps to running a custom ROM and really having some fun with your Android device, it’s heartening to see them focus on getting newer hardware opened up…” [it’s likely that one of the first add-ons from phone hackers will be a tool to eliminate the warranty-voiding part of this – ed.]

17. Atheros: 5, not 60 GHz is real future of Wi-Fi http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4218450/Atheros-5-not-60-GHz-is-future-of-Wi-Fi “…The emerging IEEE 802.11ac standard for delivering gigabit/speeds over 5 GHz represents the future of mainstream Wi-Fi, said William McFarland…The .11ad 60 GHz standard will play a complementary but more limited role, and beyond that the future is unclear…"There are not too many [wireless design tools] left on the table" beyond what the .11ac and .11ad standards are adopting…Sample chips for the 5 GHz 802.11ac and the 60 GHz 802.11ad standards should emerge late this year with systems products following late next year. The .11ac standard adopts multiuser MIMO and 256 QAM over 5 GHz. The techniques help it deliver Gbit/s speeds over existing Wi-Fi ranges when using 80 MHz of bandwidth and at least three antennas…The 60 GHz .11ad standard could support up to 7 Gbits/s thanks to even wider channels, but will be limited to use within a room due to difficulty of propagating the 60 GHz signals. The .11ac products will eventually replace .11n products. The 60 GHz products will open up new applications such as high-speed video transfers within a room…We feel the two systems are quite different and not really competitive with each other…China does not have the 80 MHz bands at 5 GHz needed to deliver the .11ac Gbit/s rates…”

18. Smartphones Unlocked: Understanding processors http://www.cnet.com/smartphones-unlocked-understanding-processors/8301-17918_1-20088704-85.html “…For this month's column, I'm going to…explain the processor's function…smartphones are so much more than phones and personal organizers. They're music and video players; they're mobile Web browsers and; they're cameras and camcorders…On your desktop, you've got…Central Processor Unit (CPU), Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), memory, and peripheral buses, that all connect to the motherboard. On a smartphone, you've got similar components, as well as other sub-processors, but they're integrated onto a single chipset, referred to as System-on-a-Chip (SoC), since there isn't room to have different chipsets…when we talk about processors, we're really talking about the SoC…Most companies use a CPU based a design from a company called ARM…Another element of the SoC is the GPU…it's responsible for such things as rendering Web pages and game play…Finally, the SoC incorporates a number of other sub-processors, such as video encoders and decoders, camera operation, and audio playback, so your smartphone can perform such tasks. Some companies also incorporate a phone's modem (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G/4G, etc.) into the SoC, while others keep them separate…There are four major players in the mobile processing world, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Samsung, but they're all have one thing in common: ARM…So what's the reason for variation?...some companies license ARM's CPU design and use it as is, while others only license the instruction set and create their own CPU based on the guidelines provided by ARM. Qualcomm is an example of the latter, which is why you see some of its dual-core processors clocked at higher speeds, such as 1.2GHz. Add to that different kinds of GPUs and various integrations of sub-processors and modems, and you're going to get some different results…the advent of dual-core processors has allowed them to do even more, such as 3D and 1080p HD video capture and playback. These chipsets consist of two CPU cores, running at 1GHz to 1.2GHz each…Qualcomm, Nvidia, and TI, have already announced plans for quad-core processors…"Existing functions on smartphones will get better and better, as they will get more powerful and power-efficient,"…we see the use of gestures, augmented reality, and increased wireless connectivity between devices becoming more popular in the future…” [Ten years ago, tech enthusiasts eagerly awaited new CPUs from Intel and AMD, as well as the desktop computers built with the new CPUs. It seems like most of that high tech innovation and ‘new product anticipation’ has moved from desktop PCs/CPUs to smartphones/mobile processors as well as the totally new functions the smartphones can perform, e.g. mobile payments, mobile medicine, AR. – ed.]

19. GPS sales drop as smartphones, new vehicles offer navigation http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/car-life/gizmos/gps-sales-drop-as-smartphones-new-vehicles-offer-navigation-functions/article2123105/ Demand for personal navigation devices (PNDs), the must-have gadget of recent years, is declining as traffic and mapping functions become almost standard in cars and mobiles, forcing Garmin Ltd and Dutch rival TomTom NV to find new revenue drivers…Garmin expects the North American PND market to shrink by 25 per cent this year…PNDs are fast being cannibalized as Google and smartphone makers such as Nokia offer free turn-by-turn navigation…Garmin has bought Germany-based Navigon to gain more exposure to this in-dash market and boost its core automotive/mobile business…Eyeing other opportunities, Garmin is looking to the fitness market, tapping into demand by athletes and joggers for watches with GPS sensors. Its marine unit offers products to plot charts, find fish and hook up on marine networks, while its aviation unit offers automatic flight control and air-traffic advisory systems…”

Apps

20. Skype Enables Video on More Android Smartphones http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/237285/skype_enables_video_on_more_android_smartphones.html Skype…version 2.1 of its application for Android…allows more smartphones and tablets based on Google's operating system to use its video calling feature…Users with Android 2.2-based smartphones that aren't on Skype's list should still be able to make video calls, according to the company. The feature can be enabled by going into "Skype settings" after launching the application and selecting "enable video calling…”

21. App Captures Candid Moments Before You Strike a Pose For the Camera http://venturebeat.com/2011/08/04/yo-mamma-loves-the-glmps-video-photo-hybrid-app/ The line between photos and videos is blurred with a new iPhone app called GLMPS. Photos snapped with GLMPS include a five second clip of the moment leading up to the snap. The videos (“picdeos?”) are added to your camera roll and uploaded to GLMPS.com…Sharing on Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and Tumblr is supported and encouraged. “Encouraged” to the point you can’t start using the app until you’ve signed in to Facebook or Twitter…Crawford says the mom demographic is the main GLMPS target. “When we looked across social networks, people were mostly taking shots of pets and kids,” she says. “Studies show women are the early adopters of this type of app.” The app conjures images of music videos that pause with the beat when the dancers do something fancy, or those dramatic intros to movies, foreshadowing the moments before something awful happens to a character. It’s sort of the way your mind captures moments. GLMPS is hardly alone in the picdeo scene. There’s robo.to, Keek, and (sorta) Viddy…”

22. Google offers workshops to lure Android tablet app developers http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-19736_7-20087468-251/google-offers-workshops-to-lure-android-developers/ Google is launching a series of workshops designed to grab developers who can create high-quality Android apps…Android Developer Labs (ADLs) will try to show developers how they can optimize their apps for Android tablets…ADLs will cover how to develop apps for the screen size and user interface of Honeycomb tablets and how to migrate apps from mobile phones to tablets. The sessions are for experienced developers only…The next two workshops will run in Seattle on August 15 and 16….followed by two workshops in New York City…on August 23 and…24…with a final session in Los Angeles on September 2. Anyone with the necessary qualifications can register, according to Google, but only a small number of people will be chosen to attend based on the quality of their existing Android apps…”

Open Source

23. Oracle: Java's worst enemy http://www.infoworld.com/d/application-development/oracle-javas-worst-enemy-168828 Oracle shipped Java SE 7 with a serious, showstopping bug, and who was the first to alert the Java community? The Apache Foundation…This is the same Apache Foundation that resigned from the Java Community Process (JCP) executive committee in protest after Oracle repeatedly refused to give it access to the Java Technology Compatibility Kit…It's the same Apache Foundation that developed Harmony, an open source implementation of the Java platform. Google used Harmony to build its Android mobile OS, which is now the subject of a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit from Oracle alleging intellectual property violations. Oracle has subpoenaed documents from the Apache Foundation to help make its case. Nobody is sure what this means for other Harmony users. It seems as if Oracle would like nothing better than to stomp Apache and its open source Java efforts clean out of existence…”

24. 5 Open Source 3D Modelling & Rendering Apps for Linux http://www.techdrivein.com/2011/08/5-open-source-3d-modelling-rendering.html “…What are the best, free and open source, 3D modelling and rendering apps available for Linux?...Art of Illusion is a free, open source 3D modelling and rendering application for Windows, Mac and Linux. Online repositories and a built-in downloading tool for installing extensions are some of the unique features of Art of Illusion…Blender is the most popular, free and open source, 3D modelling and rendering application for Linux. Blender foundation has produced a number of small animation movies created entirely using Blender…The first large professional project that used Blender was Spider-Man 2 movie…Ayam is a free 3D modelling environment for the RenderMan interface, distributed under the BSD licence…K-3D…supports polygonal modelling, and includes basic tools for NURBS(a mathematical model commonly used in computer graphics for generating and representing curves and surfaces), patches, curves and animation…MakeHuman is an open source application for creating 3D characters. Features that make this software unique include a new, highly intuitive GUI and a high quality mesh. According to its creators, a photorealistic humanoid can be modeled in less than 2 minutes using MakeHuman…”

25. Helping designers make better choices http://www.sustainablebusinessoregon.com/columns/2011/08/helping-designers-make-better-choices.html Imagine an online tool that helps apparel designers decrease the environmental impacts of their work and assists companies in improving innovation and building a low-carbon economy. That was our vision at Nike seven years ago, when we created an internal tool that lessens the environmental impact of our footwear…Nike invested $6 million to build the Environmental Apparel Design Tool—an expanded, online version that can help other companies lessen their environmental footprint…this open-source tool drives the early stages of the development process by helping designers and developers make better materials choices and reduce waste…By releasing the tool online, Nike wants others to improve on it. “We hope to inspire further collaboration…encourage widespread industry adoption of sustainable design practices and have more sustainable products available for the consumer,” says Hannah Jones, vice president of Sustainable Business and Innovation at Nike…If all apparel companies use this tool, the impacts could be breathtaking, from less-clogged landfills to expanding our sustainable material industries." The Environmental Apparel Design Tool is available on Green Xchange, a Web-based marketplace where companies can collaborate and share intellectual property that leads to new sustainability in business models and innovation. Nike has placed more than 400 patents on GX for research, to stimulate sustainability through open innovation…Nike product teams used the tool to help create soccer jerseys for the 2010 World Cup. Made from 100% recycled polyester, the sustainable fabric diverted 13 million plastic bottles from landfills and greatly reduced the use of natural resources like oil and water…”

SkyNet

26. Try out a new look and keyboard shortcuts for your Gdocs list http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2011/08/try-out-new-look-and-keyboard-shortcuts.html “…we’d like to invite you to try out a new look for the documents list that's rolling out to users over the next few days. If it's available to you, you'll be able to preview the new look by clicking on Try the new look under the gear icon in the upper right…While using the new interface, you may want to see more of the items in your documents list on the screen at one time. To do this, click on the gear icon in the upper right and go to Documents settings. Under Row height, you’ll be able to select the option to use a denser view. As part of this new look, we’ve also added keyboard shortcuts to help you easily navigate your documents list without a mouse…”

27. Google+ quotes and tips http://www.businessinsider.com/google-pro-tips-round-up-week-5-2011-8 “…Want to try out new Google+ features before they launch to the public? You can sign up for the Google+ Platform Preview mailing list here [http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/platform-preview/ ]…Still waiting for a feature to get implemented? Add your Google+ feature requests here [https://www.google.com/moderator/#16/e=9fe9f ]…a poll with the +1 button in your comments…works best if you disable comments. But if you're looking for more nuanced opinions/open comments, provide an option such as: "None of the above, and I'll tell you why in comments"…+Ahmed, [https://plus.google.com/103030116155431184588/posts/VC6k22GSEaD ], has helpfully written a bunch of useful, in-depth guides to Google+…” http://arstechnica.com/web/news/2011/08/one-month-with-google-why-the-social-network-has-legs-1.ars If you're a stranger who follows me on Google+, you might think I rarely use the service. That's because the majority of my posts have been limited to the seven circles I created for friends, acquaintances, family, Ars staffers, and other people I like to expose to various aspects of my personality. You had no idea? That's exactly the point. After one month with Google+, it's clear to me that this—sending updates to certain groups of people and not to others—is the main appeal of the service…Some people don't like this approach. I do, but it took a while…”

28. Squeeze More Usability out of Gmail with Preview & Labs http://www.gottabemobile.com/2011/08/05/squeeze-more-usability-out-of-gmail-with-preview-labs/ “…Over the past few years I have been finding tweaks and add ons to the standard Gmail experience that help me squeeze more productivity out of Gmail…To make changes to Gmail, you will need to visit the Gmail Labs section of your account. Here you can enable a variety of extra features and functionality to enhance your Gmail experience…The new preview pane is an awesome add on that lets you move through your email quickly while you read and respond to messages. The new message area is really great for use on the wide screen, and I like that you can quickly toggle it on and off when you move between a big screen and a small one. Pick form a vertical or horizontal split to find the layout that works best for you…If you have ever hit send to early, this is going to be your favorite Gmail add on. Instead of wasting time with a followup email, hit Undo Send and you’ll have your email back to make changes and send again…If you use Google Calendar to manage your life, this gadget is especially helpful. Instead of switching between tabs when you need to set up an appointment, glance over at the Google Calendar gadget…Google Docs Gadget…Enable this lab, and you will see your recent documents on the left side of your Gmail inbox…After adding all those gadgets to your Gmail experience, you’ll quickly get sick of scrolling to find the gadget you want. Enter Right Side Chat. Enable this lab and your chat section will move to the right side, replacing ads, so that you can see your contacts on chat without hiding your other gadgets…”

29. Google to Shut Down Educational Programming Tool Android App Inventor http://www.hackeducation.com/2011/08/09/google-to-shut-down-educational-programming-tool-android-app-inventor/ “…Google said that some of the projects in Labs would graduate to “full-fledged” products, but others would be terminated. And unfortunately, it appears as though one of those that’s getting the axe is Android App Inventor. App Inventor was a DIY tool for building Android apps…it was hugely popular among educators, particularly as it required no programming knowledge. App Inventor was created with the idea that anyone should be able to tinker on their smartphones and that anyone should easily be able to design and develop their own apps…The source code will be opened and made available, and Google says it is “exploring opportunities to support the educational use of App Inventor on an open source platform…”

General Technology

30. AMD bets on Bulldozer to take back the desktop http://www.zdnet.com/blog/computers/amd-bets-on-bulldozer-to-take-back-the-desktop/6480 Starting this month, AMD will finally have a chip designed to go head-to-head with the fastest Core i5 and Core i7 Sandy Bridge processors. AMD has been working on Bulldozer for six years and it has a lot riding on the new chip design…The high-end processor, code-named Zambezi, has been the subject of steady leaks for months…Zambezi…will reportedly include four processors, the quad-core FX-4100, six-core FX-6100 and eight-core FX-8100 and FX-8150…the FX Series is a CPU, not an APU…The Scorpius high-end desktop platform will include an eight-core FX-Series processor, Radeon 6000 HD discrete graphics and AMD’s 9-series supporting chipset…The FX Series is also based on an entirely new architecture, which AMD refers to as Bulldozer. Each Bulldozer module has two integer cores that share other components including the floating-point unit, instruction cache and front-end logic. AMD’s roadmaps refer to the integer cores as Bulldozer “cores,” which makes things a bit confusing. An eight-core FX Series processor actually has four Bulldozer modules with a total of eight integer cores and four floating-point units; a quad-core has two Bulldozer modules with four integer cores and two FPUs. Intel’s core, by comparison, has a single integer core and dedicated floating-point unit, but the integer core is capable of processing two threads simultaneously, a feature the company refers to as Hyper-Threading…”

31. New Mac minis deliver serious performance http://www.macworld.com/article/161414/2011/08/mac_mini_mid_2011_review.html “…The latest version of the Mac mini…released along with Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)…gets a price cut while overhauling what’s inside…the 2011 Mac mini is quintessential Apple: beautiful, well-engineered, forward-looking, and powerful enough for most…the Mac mini is again available in two models, with the less-expensive mini starting at $599. This gets you a 2.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor (last year's model used the older Core 2 Duo), 2GB of RAM, a 500GB 5400rpm hard drive, and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics processor that shares 288MB of main memory. For $799, Apple ups the processor speed to 2.5GHz, the RAM to 4GB, and the graphics processor to a discrete AMD Radeon HD 6630M with 256MB of dedicated memory…Mac mini is also available in a server version starting at $999…Both models replace last year’s Mini DisplayPort port with a Thunderbolt port that supports both video (resolutions up to 2560 by 1600 pixels) and data connections, as well as Mini DisplayPort displays…you can connect DVI and VGA displays with the appropriate adapters—only an HDMI-to-DVI adapter is included—and the mini supports both dual-display and video-mirroring modes when two displays are connected…The 2011 mini’s ports and connections are otherwise identical to last year’s: one FireWire 800 port; four USB 2.0 ports; a gigabit (10/100/1000BASE-T) ethernet port, an SDXC card-reader slot, and auto-sensing analog/optical-digital audio input and output minijacks…the Mac mini still gives you 802.11a/b/g/n wireless, but Bluetooth has been upgraded to Bluetooth 4.0…the front of the new mini is missing the familiar opening of a slot-loading optical drive. That’s right: Like the MacBook Air, the Mac mini doesn’t have a SuperDrive. For those who still frequently use DVDs and CDs, this may be a deal-killer…When I reviewed the Mid-2010 Mac mini, I called it Apple’s most versatile computer for those who didn’t need workstation-level performance. Without an optical drive, the 2011 mini may not be quite as versatile, but Core i5 processors mean that, for the first time, the mini is a serious performer—nearly twice as fast as its predecessor and comparable to some of Apple’s latest MacBook Pro models…” [question for NEW NET participants – for what use cases do you think a Mac mini is a good choice? – ed.]

32. Create an animated biography from your photos http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2011/08/create-an-animated-biography-f.html “…New software pulls all the photos of a specific person from a collection of tagged photos, analyses them for similarity of expression and head position, and links them in an animated movie. The final product can turn a smile into a frown or show how a person has aged over time. "We can easily summarise a person's life in photos," says Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman…One example shows a girl growing from birth to age 20 in 2 minutes…This new software uses existing photos to transition between the two images. It chooses each photo in the animated sequence based on its similarity to the previous image, while moving incrementally toward the person's head position and facial expression in the final photo. With collection of several hundred or thousand images, there are to be plenty of shots that capture a range of expressions…A version of this software is now available in Picasa, a photo-hosting site run by Google, as a feature called Face Movie…”

33. New USB Power Spec Could Power PCs Over USB http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2390762,00.asp “…The USB 3.0 Promoter Group said Tuesday that it has submitted a new USB Power Delivery solution that could deliver as much as 100 watts via a USB cable, specifically USB 3.0…In reality, however, the increased power specification will likely mean that an increasing number of devices can be bus-powered, meaning that they will not require an extra power adapter. That will mean less cost, and less hassle, for the average consumer. Many conventional laptops use as little as 20 watts or so even while plugged in and running at full performance, meaning that conceivably - and, at this point, we're not sure why you would want to - devices like a laptop could be powered by a USB cable running from another computer…the power could be supplied in either direction, without the need to swap a cable. The new specification would be compatible with existing cables, according to the group. More importantly, it would also be compatible with the existing USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 specifications, as well as the USB Battery Charging 1.2 spec already in existence…First announced in 2009, USB 3.0 started appearing in early 2010 in external hard drives like the WD My Book. Real-world tests, however, were initially unimpressive, and the technology got caught up in the furor over a competing Intel technology, Light Peak or Thunderbolt, which was included on new iMacs…”

DHMN Technology

34. How to create your own aerial map http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/9555369.stm “…A project in New Orleans is working to create an aerial view of the earth that is entirely constructed by the public. The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Plots) was set up in the wake of the BP oil spill in 2010…Plots developed affordable tools that could be used by anyone to take aerial pictures of their environment and community. Using cheap digital cameras, plastic bottles and bits of string the aerial cameras can be created for less than $200…At 1,000 to 1,500 feet- about 300 to 450 metres - the camera can take great high resolution pictures that rival anything Google Maps can produce…"Our goal is to pick particular places and do long-term monitoring over one to two years…The aim of the project is to open up this method of mapping to the wider community…”

35. Why wireless networks are slow http://mattryall.net/blog/2011/08/why-wireless-networks-are-slow “…wireless networks are always going to be slower than wired networks because of factors like: interference from other devices that use the same spectrum…the inverse-square law…the fact that the speeds referred to by standards like 802.11g (54 Mbps) are theoretical maximums rather than a speed that can be achieved in practice. Digging deeper when comparing wired to wireless networks, there are even more limiting factors to consider…the marketing speed of a wireless network, like 54 Mbps…is the theoretical maximum bandwidth which needs to be shared among all your devices on the network…The next problem is how the network deals with collisions…collision management in wireless networks still a problem…A final additional problem with wireless networks is how the number of channels available is very misleading. Even though the 2.4 GHz spectrum used by 802.11b and 802.11g has 14 channels available, the majority of channels available on the spectrum overlap significantly with one another…your neighbours running their wireless network might interfere with yours, even if you’re using a different channel. Try to pick a channel that is far away from those used by other wireless networks operating in the same area…”

36. Qbo Open Source Robot Can Now Control Music Via Hand Gestures http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/qbo-open-source-robot-can-now-control-music-via-hand-gestures-video-04-08-2011/ Qbo…created…to provide a low cost, open-source robot enabling anyone to enter the robotics and the artificial intelligence world…has been programmed to use its stereoscopic vision and only pay attention to hands that are nearby, successfully distinguish, in real-time, among several hand gestures associated with…commands including: play/pause, stop, volume up/down, next/previous song…”

Leisure & Entertainment

37. Warner Bros. Pulls Back the Curtain on Flixster Collections http://allthingsd.com/20110804/warner-bros-pulls-back-the-curtains-on-flixster-collections-its-ambitious-digital-video-bet/ “…Flixster Collections, a social movie portal…Warner Bros. studio…just went into public beta yesterday…Warner Bros. is trying to…serve as your starting point whenever you’re thinking about renting, buying or watching a movie, or even when you’re thinking about thinking about it. The free service ties into users’ Amazon, Apple iTunes, Hulu and Netflix accounts — as well as your hard drive, if you let it. And it lets you and your friends see what you’ve already watched… And if you’d like to see a movie that’s actually in theaters, it can help there, too, via links to movie reviews, trailers and online ticketing services…the fact that it requires a standalone download…may be a lot for casual video fans to take in. Especially since Facebook and Twitter already do a pretty good job of letting you and your friends gab about movies — without the privacy worries of letting a service look into your Netflix queue or root around in your hard drive…” [so is it beyond the realm of possibility that Warner Bros. would look on your hard drive to try and figure out if you have bootleg movies?? You have to invite the vampire to come in? – ed.]

38. How To Create an Ebook with OpenOffice.org http://olex.openlogic.com/wazi/2011/how-to-create-an-ebook-with-openoffice-org/ Do you want to see your name on the front page of a book? It’s easier than you might think. First, write the book. Next, follow these simple steps to prepare an ebook using the free OpenOffice.org desktop publishing application. Publishing ebooks today can be a DIY business…you can…get your work into the hands of readers who can download ebooks from popular sites such as Amazon CreateSpace, Lulu, or Lightning Source…assume you’ve already written the book you want to publish…import it into OOo Writer and use that program’s rich set of tools to create a file for publication.. Begin by formatting your text…OOo Writer comes with several predefined styles, but you can add your own or edit standard ones…OpenOffice.org by itself can’t generate an ePub document, but you can install an extension such as ePub Generator to do the job for you…At this point all the preparation steps are done. Press OK; your document is now saved as PDF or ePub file, and you can call yourself a writer and tell your friends, “I published a book…”

39. Why Time Warner rules the cloud http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20089408-261/why-time-warner-rules-the-cloud/ “…Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes…compared Netflix with the Albanian army--the view that the popular company would remake film distribution, he said, was a little like saying the tiny country's army would conquer the world…Because Time Warner, one of the world's largest and powerful media companies, owns HBO, Bewkes is now in a position to have some say about how the cloud develops…for years HBO has owned exclusive electronic-distribution rights for three of the six major Hollywood studios. For these studios to deliver movies via the cloud, they need HBO's say-so…Developed with the help of five of the top studios (except Disney), UltraViolet is the cloud video platform designed to allow the viewing, storage, and playback of movies on numerous cloud services and on a multitude of devices…Over at HBO, the company developed a Web-streaming service and an iPhone and Android app that have proven popular with users and critics. One of the most popular features is that HBO Go users can access every episode of "The Sopranos," "Sex in the City," "True Blood," and nearly every other show in its library…Bewkes…believes his content is valuable regardless of the medium over which it's distributed. Bewkes may have developed some skepticism about the idea that content is less important than the technology that moves it around because he's heard this before. In 2000, when Bewkes was HBO's CEO…Time Warner's then management was allowing itself to be acquired by AOL…They believed that much of the value in the new company would be found in content distribution…AOL Time Warner was once valued at over $270 billion and a few months after the deal closed it was down to $80 billion…In 2009, a year after becoming Time Warner's CEO, Bewkes unloaded AOL and Time Warner Cable and put all his chips on the company's content…”

Economy and Technology

40. Streetblimps Uses Smartphone App to Improve Mobile Billboard Effectiveness http://www.sacbee.com/2011/08/04/3816634/streetblimps-uses-smartphone-app.html “…Streetblimps' truck-mounted mobile billboards use TeleNav Track…on BlackBerry…smartphones to map routes that help advertisers reach target audiences and also document the effectiveness of the billboards…Prior to using TeleNav Track from AT&T, Streetblimps drivers had to report their locations every hour on the hour and use cameras to document their progress along each daily route, which would then be submitted with reports at the end of each day and couriered overnight to clients. Using the capabilities of TeleNav Track from AT&T, Streetblimps has the ability to give clients updates on the exact location of their mobile billboards via a secure web portal that provides a minute-by-minute "breadcrumb trail" of every vehicle displaying the billboard, as well as provide them with a comprehensive performance recap of mobile billboard locations at the end of an ad campaign…”

41. Billion Dollar Club: 12 Startups With Skyrocketing Valuations http://www.businessinsider.com/the-billion-dollar-valuation-startups-club-2011-8 “…VCs are now pouring money into the next crop of startups. Valuations are skyrocketing as VCs compete to get in the next hot deal…suddenly, a lot of founders are finding themselves in the billion-dollar club…Quora…Foursquare…Appnexus…ZocDoc…Spotify…Storm8…Square…Gilt Groupe…Airbnb…Vente Privee…Dropbox…”

42. State Farm’s Chicago “Next Door Café” http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2011/08/02/next-door-cafe-opening-thursday-to-foster-community.php “…Next Door Cafe, a new collaboration between Doejo...and State Farm hopes to take things to a new level. The cafe, which officially opens on Thursday, will have the requisite Intelligentsia coffee, sandwiches and salads from Southport Grocery, breads from Red Hen and pastries from Hoosier Mama...State Farm has been working on the concept for upwards of two years and wants it to be a localized spot where people can hold meetings, learn about events happening in the surrounding community, attend on-site seminars and speak with life and financial planning coaches—all for free. Customers can get free advice and learn about how to set themselves up for their future, whether that's to buy a house, get a car or learn how to curb your shopping habit...program director Brett Myers says it's not about the sales, rather building a community. Essentially, it's more of a regular coffeeshop with some added amenities, like free Wi-Fi, meeting rooms and even meeting "closets" with white boards and flat screen displays...The cafe will be open daily between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., while coaching services will take place between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays and until 5 p.m. on weekends…”

Civilian Aerospace

43. NASA Selects Visionary Advanced Technology Concepts For Study http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/aug/HQ_11-260_NIAC_Selections.html NASA has selected 30 proposals for funding under the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, or NIAC, program. The advanced concepts selected for study under NIAC were chosen based on their potential to transform our future space missions, enable new capabilities or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building and operating space systems. Each proposal will receive approximately $100,000 for one year to advance the innovative space technology concept and help NASA meet operational and future mission requirements…NASA's early investment and partnership with creative scientists, engineers and citizen inventors from across the nation will pay huge technological dividends and help maintain America's leadership in the global technology economy…”

44. Still eyeing the lunar prize http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1902/1 Four years ago next month, the X PRIZE Foundation announced its newest space prize: the Google Lunar X PRIZE, or GLXP…Up for grabs was $30 million in prize money provided by the search engine giant for the non-government teams (the prize purse includes awards for both first and second place) able to land a spacecraft on the Moon, travel at least 500 meters, and transmit a series of data packages that include photos and high-definition video…Nearly four years later the prize has gone unclaimed, although not for a lack of interest. By the time the X PRIZE Foundation closed team registration at the end of 2010, 29 teams were registered to compete (one has subsequently dropped out)…However, developing a lunar lander—and raising the money required to build and launch it—has turned out to be harder that some initially thought. The prize deadline has reflected this: originally the $20 million first prize was to decrease to $15 million at the end of 2012, and then go away entirely by the end of 2014, but now first prize will only be decremented “whenever a government-funded mission successfully explores the lunar surface”, according to the prize guidelines posted on the prize web site, something the foundation estimates is “currently projected to occur in 2013.” One of the newer teams not deterred by the various technical and fiscal challenges of the Google Lunar X PRIZE is Moon Express. Established last year, Moon Express attracted attention because of the people behind the team…Moon Express’s co-founders include Bob Richards, a longtime space entrepreneur who had previously been with Odyssey Moon, the first team to register for the competition, as well as Barney Pell, a computer scientist who worked for a number of Silicon Valley startups, and Naveen Jain, another Internet entrepreneur…”

45. The future of far-out travel: New Mexico’s Spaceport America http://www.dallasnews.com/travel/getaways/20110804-explore-future-of-far-out-travel-at-new-mexicos-spaceport-america.ece NASA’s memorable launch of Atlantis on July 8 signaled an end to the agency’s epic 30-year space shuttle program, but did it bring to a close America’s heroic age of spaceflight? Not at all. Far from the public eye, on a desolate stretch of New Mexico desert, a new project promises to write the next chapter in the story of mankind’s irrepressible urge to conquer space: the commercialization of spaceflight…Visitors can now explore the world’s first purpose-built spaceport. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority recently introduced a tour program that offers participants a glimpse into the future of space travel and a close look at what’s happening on the ground at the remote site 35 miles southeast of Truth or Consequences…construction of the largely state-funded $200 million facility is slated to wrap up in October. Attention thereafter will focus on the arrival of primary tenant Virgin Galactic with its passenger spaceships ready for suborbital flights from the spaceport beginning as soon as next summer. Branson is dedicated to taking tourism to the next level, almost 70 miles into space, and he isn’t likely to stop there. He seeks to develop orbiting resorts and to land passengers on the moon.…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

46. JP Morgan makes more $$ with GPUs http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2011/08/04/j-p-morgan-shows-benefits-from-chip-change/ Investment banks are some of the biggest speed freaks in the computing world, closely guarding their secrets for squeezing more performance out of servers in a world where time is money….Nvidia GPUs that have been added to J.P. Morgan servers–working as accelerators alongside x86 processors–have generated peak performance that is in excess of 100 times faster than microprocessors alone for some kinds of computing…In more typical cases, the bank is getting a 40-fold speed-up while reducing costs by 80%, since fewer servers are needed to get the work done…software has to be revised to take advantage of the GPUs…But customers like J.P. Morgan have a need for speed that makes the work worth it. The investment bank’s equity derivatives group is using the GPUs for what are called risk computations. It owns many combinations of complex financial assets–each possibly linked to multiple underlying securities–and needs to assess what would happen to their values under various what-if scenarios, such as changes in the economies of various countries or market downturns? Greater computing horsepower can make it possible to add more variables to make each scenario more realistic, and to do more scenarios in a given amount of time. Other firms on Wall Street also are evaluating or adopting GPUs…”

47. CPU/GPU and Parallel Heterogeneous Computing. A Tale of to Siblings http://www.glgroup.com/News/CPU-GPU-and-Parallel-Heterogeneous-Computing.-A-Tale-of-to-Siblings-55009.html Imagination Technologies is the latest GPU company looking to make their computing capabilities available to wider audience. But with the lack of a unified CPU/GPU programming model, we are still flooded with options to fully utilize the hardware available in computer systems. OpenCL, the open standard for parallel programing of heterogeneous systems, seems like the right approach, yet Microsoft with DirectCompute, has the might and market share to once again drive its own standard. Over the past few years an increasing number of companies have pursued their own vision for a unified CPU/GPU programming model. In 2007, David Patterson at Berkeley and many others joined to provide an overview of the challenges they saw ahead in parallel computing. Since then, companies like Intel, NVIDIA, AMD, and Microsoft have presented initiatives in this area, with products like Larrabee, CUDA, Fusion, or C++ AMP. Partnering with Vector Fabrics, Imagination Technologies is simply joining a trend…”


*****

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