2011/10/25

NEW NET Weekly List for 25 Oct 2011

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 25 October 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. Will Xbox Bing solve the video search problem? http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20118611-1/will-xbox-bing-solve-the-video-search-problem/ Xbox Bing might be the first to do cross-platform video search right. Only a few years ago there was only Netflix, but now Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, and Vudu all offer top-notch streaming video services…it forces streaming video fans to keep a mental catalog of where their favorite shows and movies are available. When I rereviewed the Apple TV, I almost rented "The Trip" for $5 before I realized it was available for free on Netflix. Cross-platform video search is the obvious fix, but everyone…has failed to comb through multiple services…Microsoft is the next to take on video search in the home theater with the upcoming fall Xbox Dashboard update, which includes Bing video search. It's not perfect, but it's promising to do what nobody else has been able to do yet: true cross-platform search between Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Xbox Live Marketplace…Xbox is in a good position to add more searchable services, since HBO Go, Bravo, and Crackle are also headed to the console…Xbox is getting support from two major cable companies: Comcast and Verizon…Cross-platform search would be enough to put the Xbox 360 ahead of its rivals, but Xbox Bing also takes on the other huge problem with home theater video search: text input…with the Xbox Kinect's voice-recognition capability, you'll be able to…say "Xbox Bing Parks and Recreation."…I'm not sure I'm ready to start talking to my TV, but it will almost certainly be faster than the alternative…”

2. Facebook power users 'have gone to Google+ and Twitter' http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/8833593/Facebook-power-users-have-gone-to-Google-and-Twitter.html Sean Parker, a co-founder of original music file-sharing service Napster and a prominent Facebook shareholder, as well as, one time president of the site, has gone on the record saying that the social network’s biggest problem is not privacy – it’s the fact that some of its heaviest users have defected to other services because of a lack of decent set of controls…Parker said: “The strategic threat to Facebook is that power users have gone to Twitter or to Google+.” The technology entrepreneur, who is also now a Spotify investor, defined power users as those who contribute “tones of content to Facebook which is being consumed by everyone else” and called them “important networkers’ who prop the social network up. It his belief that some of these users have left Facebook for Twitter and Google+ because they have a lack of good controls over the information they see and who they share it with…I think Facebook’s biggest problem is the glut of information that Facebook’s power users are overwhelmed with… [Facebook] needs to address the need of power users to have more controls…Parker was quizzed on how Google+ could ever steal Facebook’s crown and become the social network of choice…Parker said: “Facebook would have to screw up royally and Google would have to do something really smart…”

3. Mary Meeker’s State of the Internet report http://news.yahoo.com/mary-meekers-state-internet-report-175805787.html Mary Meeker…assessment of what the Internet is doing and where it’s headed is taken as gospel. Meeker presented…her take on the state of the Internet and technology as a whole. You can take a look at her slides from the presentation below, but here are the meat and potatoes of Meeker’s keynote…We tend to think…Web innovation and use is in American hands…this isn’t entirely true: The top 10 Internet properties retain most of their monthly unique visitors outside the U.S...the numbers aren’t even remotely close. One word: China…China’s most important resource is arguably its population, and it’s leveraging that with Web and mobile platforms…People are spending more and more time using social networks, and less and less time on everything else the Internet has to offer…mobile…has driven increasing amounts of users to the likes of Pandora, Twitter, and Facebook…iPods, iPhones, and iPads have changed the industry…Basically, it’s a “two-horse” race between Andriod and iPhone…USA-made smartphone operating systems now have a 64-percent share—five years ago, it was a measly 5-percent…Meeker talked about the evolution of the user interface, how it began with loads of text, moved to graphics and icons, and now is all about tactile: Touch, and sound, and movement. It’s the progression of humanizing our technology, and it really, really makes you wonder what’s next. Meeker says sound is going to becoming increasingly important to the user experience…”

Gigabit Internet

4. Google Fiber may bring its super fast Internet to Europe http://venturebeat.com/2011/10/24/google-fiber-europe/ “…Google Senior Vice President David Drummond said at a French Industry Ministry meeting Friday the company was “looking very closely” at building an experimental, Google Fiber-like project somewhere in Europe…Google Fiber is one of Google’s many projects focusing on creating a faster Internet…Google says its fiber networks will be able to achieve speeds of 1 gigabit, around 100 times faster than a typical broadband connection…”

5. Net hooked up in Australia http://www.starnewsgroup.com.au/star/stalbans-deer-park-caroline-springs/319/story/142931.html More than 8000 properties in Hume will be among the first places across Australia to have access to the national broadband network, a $35.9 billion Federal Government project. The network, also known as the ‘NBN’, will be connected to 8300 Tullamarine homes, businesses and other premises…The NBN’s high speed fibre cabling is set to provide more than 90 per cent of internet users across the nation with faster connection and download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second…Tullamarine business owner Nella from Elasta Hairdressing & Beauty Supplies…said her employees often used the internet for marketing and research purposes. “I think it would be good because we use the internet quite a lot and sometimes it’s a bit slow, so it would be great if it could be faster…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

6. HOW TO: Spy on the Webcams of Your Website Visitors http://www.feross.org/webcam-spy/ “…I discovered a vulnerability in Adobe Flash that allows any website to turn on your webcam and microphone without your knowledge or consent to spy on you. It works in all versions of Adobe Flash that I tested…This attack works by using a neat variation of the normal clickjacking technique that spammers and other bad people are using in the wild right now…I took a computer security class (Stanford’s CS 155) last quarter and really enjoyed this research paper on framebusting and clickjacking. After reading it, I checked out a few popular sites to see if it was possible to clickjack them…I stumbled upon this blog post entitled “Malicious camera spying using ClickJacking” where the author shows how to clickjack the Adobe Flash Settings Manager page to enable users’ webcams…Adobe quickly added framebusting code to the Settings Manager page…and the attack stopped working…I just iframe the settings SWF file. This let me bypass the framebusting JavaScript code, since we don’t load the whole page…I was really surprised to find out that this actually works…I reported this vulnerability to Adobe a few weeks ago through the Stanford Security Lab. It’s been a few weeks and I haven’t heard anything from Adobe yet. I think it’s worth sharing it with the world now, so that Adobe pays attention and fixes it more quickly…”

7. New Security Threat: Infected QR Codes http://mashable.com/2011/10/20/qr-code-security-threat/ “…the next time you scan a QR code…it might just cost you money and wreak havoc on your smartphone….Kaspersky Lab…has noticed the first instance of QR code tampering. The incident took place in Russia last month and hoodwinked consumers who thought they were downloading an Android app called Jimm. The code actually contained malware that sent SMS codes to a premium rate number that charged for each message…cyberthieves will soon be able to create global premium rate numbers that could theoretically attack American consumers the same way. Infected QR codes could also be used for phishing scams…QR codes are new on the scene. “It’s just hitting the radar in the security community,” he says, adding that it’s a “pretty brilliant scheme…”

8. Global ISP tracker shows traffic shaping down, but not out http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/10/global-isp-tracker-shows-dpi-use-down-but-not-out.ars Want to keep tabs of how much your ISP uses Deep Packet Inspection to shape and throttle broadband traffic? Your first stop is the The Network is Aware website…They've published the global results of the Glasnost test, an application deployed by MLab that allows broadband subscribers to detect traffic shaping on their account. "Network transparency cuts both ways," the site notes. "It can be exploited to engage in surveillance of Internet service providers as well as Internet users." The MLab test lets users track for shaping on BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella, e-mail (POP and IMAP4), HTTP, SSH, Usenet (NNTP) and Flash video apps like YouTube…You can also track DPI deployment of all ISPs in a given country, or the activity of a specific ISP. In some instances the results show that DPI use has remained fairly steady, and very active…”

9. A New Eye on the Border http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/10/25/americas-third-war-new-eye-on-border/ A new high-tech, low-cost camera system is helping to detect illegal immigrants along the Texas-Mexico border…The new system of cameras is catching undocumented immigrants sneaking across private ranches and farms -- groups that would have otherwise gone undetected, according to local landowners…“There’s a lot of desperate people coming in here from all over the world and, frankly, a lot of them are getting through.” Unlike past cameras used along the Southwest border, these cameras do not provide a live video stream that must be constantly monitored. Instead, the cameras only snap pictures when something triggers a sensor…within seconds, an image is emailed to command center in Austin. Once the photograph is verified as illegal activity, it’s passed along to local and federal authorities monitoring the border…"We can hide them virtually anywhere, said Hank Whitman, chief of the Texas Rangers. “They are small, compact, but we move them consistently…you’re not going to find them.” The cameras cost roughly $300 each and the state plans to install 400 more along the 1,200-mile border with Mexico…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

10. Telefonica, Verizon Soon to Offer Virtualized Android Phones http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/242133/telefonica_verizon_soon_to_offer_virtualized_android_phones.html Telefonica and Verizon in a few months will become the first operators to offer Android phones running VMware's mobile hypervisor…Users of phones with the VMware product will find two profiles on their devices: one for personal use and one for business use. The setup allows for the isolation of enterprise apps from apps available on the open Android Market that could be malicious…Telefonica will make its offering available initially on the Samsung Galaxy SII. Unlike Verizon, Telefonica will allow users to have two phone numbers, one for business and one for personal use. That means a user will be able to have two voice and data subscriptions on one phone. Telefonica is able to make that offering using dual-SIM cards…Verizon…will only allow one phone number on its service, because of its network technology…”

11. Bye-bye unlimited 4G: Sprint institutes data usage caps http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/10/bye-bye-unlimited-4g-sprint-institutes-data-usage-caps.ars Sprint has announced that none of its customers with tablets, USB connection cards, or mobile hotspots will have unlimited 4G access anymore. Instead, the 3G and 4G data use will be combined and capped, with extra charges for overages. The restriction does not currently extend to mobile phones that are not used for tethering, and goes into effect next month. Sprint has been beating its chest in ads about its unlimited data services, but that bragging point is quickly crumbling. Last month, a leaked document stated the company would start capping data via mobile phone hotspot at 5GB per month…That cap is now official: both new and old customers are getting their plans capped…”

12. "What I Learned at the Verizon Wireless Workshop" http://www.sacbee.com/2011/10/25/4005119/what-i-learned-at-the-verizon.html A new smartphone can do a lot and it may often mean new questions: How do I make sure my battery doesn't run out during the day? Can I create a text message by speaking into my phone? What's an "app"?...Verizon Wireless is making sure smartphone customers – new and experienced – don't have to look far for answers to any and all questions with free Wireless Workshops, available at participating Verizon Wireless Communications Stores and online. To see what some customers had to say about their Wireless Workshop, see "What I Learned at the Verizon Wireless Workshop,"…The in-store workshops are led by specially trained data experts and sales representatives and run between one and two hours in length…Customers interested in attending a Wireless Workshop can register online at www.verizonwireless.com/workshops…” [Android workshops in Appleton are scheduled for Nov 12 and 19; iPhone workshop in Appleton is on Nov 5; maybe a workshop like this would be an opportunity for ABC to partner with Virgin Mobile to do a Smartphone Workshop in Appleton – ed.]

13. ARM Unveils Its Most Energy Efficient Application Processor Ever and big.LITTLE mobile processing http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20111019006329/en/ARM-Unveils-Energy-Efficient-Application-Processor-Redefines ARM…announced the ARM® Cortex™-A7 MPCore™ processor - the most energy-efficient application class processor ARM has ever developed, and big.LITTLE processing - a flexible approach that redefines the traditional power and performance relationship…A single Cortex-A7 processor delivers 5x the energy-efficiency and is one fifth the size of the Cortex-A8 processor, while providing significantly greater performance…One of today’s technology most significant challenges is how to create a System on Chip (SoC) that meets the conflicting consumer demand for devices with both higher-performance AND extended battery life. Big.LITTLE processing, enabled by Cortex-A7, achieves this by pairing the best of the high-performance Cortex-A15 MPCore and ultra-efficient Cortex-A7 processors. Big.LITTLE processing allows devices to seamlessly select the right processor for the right task, based on performance requirements…Mobile usage has changed significantly and today consumers are increasingly using their smartphone for the majority of their connected lives. This includes high-performance tasks, such as web browsing, navigation and gaming, and less demanding ‘always on, always connected’ background tasks, such as voice calls, social networking and email services…the mobile phone has become an indispensable compute device for many consumers…The Cortex-A7 processor occupies less than 0.5mm2, using 28nm process technology, and provides compelling performance in both single and multicore configurations. Used as a stand-alone processor, the Cortex-A7 will deliver sub-$100 entry level smartphones in the 2013-2014 timeframe with an equivalent level of processing performance to today’s $500 high-end smartphones…big.LITTLE processing…allows the power management software to seamlessly select the right processor, or multiple processors, for the right task…the Cortex-A7 - runs the Operating System (OS) and applications for basic always-on, always connected tasks, such as social media and audio playback. The OS and apps can then be seamlessly migrated to the higher-performance processor as demands increase for high end tasks, such as navigation and gaming. The time for this migration is in the order of 20 microseconds…”

14. ViewSonic rolls out $200 ViewPad 7e Android tablet http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/24/viewsonic-rolls-out-200-viewpad-7e-android-tablet/ “…ViewSonic's…ViewPad 7e Android tablet…will set you back an even $200. That unfortunately only buys you Android 2.3 (with an SPB shell on top) and not Honeycomb, but the specs are otherwise somewhat decent for the price, including a 1GHz ARM A8 processor, dual cameras, a "RiteTouch" 7-inch capacitive display, 4GB of storage with a microSD card slot for expansion, and HDMI output…one key omission is official support for the Android Market, but you do at least get access to Amazon's Appstore, as well as plenty of pre-loaded apps including Twitter, Kindle, and TuneIn Radio…”

15. Kobo's answer to Kindle Fire: $199 Vox Android tablet http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-19736_7-20122552-251/kobos-answer-to-kindle-fire-$199-vox-android-tablet/ “…the Kobo Vox has been unveiled…Kobo seems to have made one big change before launch: it dropped the price from $249 to $199 to match the Kindle Fire's price…it seems more in line with last year's Nook Color than the Fire. Weighing in at 14.2 ounces, the Vox has 8GB of internal memory, plus a microSD card slot for adding cards up to 32GB. It's a Wi-Fi-only device with no mention of Bluetooth. The multitouch screen seems decent enough with 1,024x600-pixel resolution and an antiglare coating, but what puts the Vox behind the Fire is its 800Mhz processor…this runs on Android 2.3 and seems to offer "full open access" to the Android Market. The best way to describe this is as a more open, generic-looking version of the Nook Color, though it is worth mentioning that the Vox comes in four versions that have Hot Pink, Lime Green, Ice Blue, or Jet Black trim…” [maybe the new trend will be to have ‘high-end’ tablets debut at $199 and new ‘low-end’ tablets debut at $99 – ed.]

16. Amazon adds HTML5 with KF8; its ebooks get much better looking http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2011/1025/Amazon-adds-HTML5-and-suddenly-its-ebooks-get-much-better-looking “…Amazon…announced a new, HTML5-supported Kindle format. It’s called Kindle Format 8 (KF8) and it supports a new range of formatting capabilities that mean design-centric e-books…will pop. As showcased on Kindle Fire, KF8 enables publishers to create great-looking books in categories that require rich formatting and design such as children's picture books, comics & graphic novels, technical & engineering books and cookbooks…Kindle Format 8 replaces Amazon’s existing Mobi format and gives book publishers and designers some 150 capabilities to choose from, including HTML5 and CSS3 support, as well as embedded fonts, drop caps, line spacing, alignment, justification, margin, color, style, and border…KF8 will be available in its Kindle apps eventually, as well as latest generation Kindle e-ink devices like the Kindle Touch and the recent $79 Kindle. Kindle Format 8 threatens the last bastion of publishing, namely highly visual works like coffee table books and cookbooks…”

17. Tablet computers: The 'it' gift this Christmas http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/25/pf/tablet_computers/ Wishing for an iPad this Christmas? You are not alone. Apple iPads and other tablets are the most desired gadgets this holiday season, according to the Consumer Electronics Association's holiday purchase patterns study…Tablet computers trail only clothes as the most wanted gifts overall…Notebook computers also rank high on Santa's list, followed by peace, happiness and money. That marks a significant change from just last year, when peace and happiness took the top spot, followed by laptop computers…”

18. World’s Cheapest Tablet Running Android http://reviewhubs.com/linuxtips/2011/10/worlds-cheapest-tablet-running-android-for-educational-institutions.html “…the highly anticipated “Sakshat Tablet” was successfully launched in India on Wednesday. The tablet is called “Akash” and was jointly developed by India in collaboration with the Datawind, and can easily be obtained for ($45) 2,200/- in Indian rupees. Akash tablet was developed jointly by India, with the UK Based company Datawind. The tablet will run Google’s Android 2.2 (Froyo) and a 7 “inch LCD, 800×480 resolutions. Akash tablet has 256 MB of RAM and 32 GB of expandable memory with two USB ports…and powered by Connexant Processor…”

Apps

19. Top Gear Android app http://www.androidpolice.com/2011/10/12/car-lovers-unite-bbc-worldwide-release-official-top-gear-app/ Here's one for the car buffs among you: the official Top Gear app. With this app courtesy of BBC Worldwide and sponsored by Mercedes Benz, you can stay on top of the latest news, videos, and shenanigans from the Top Gear crew. The app features photos, behind the scenes goodies, Top Gear clips, previews of upcoming Top Gear "stuff," and reviews of the latest cars driven…”

20. Dolphin Browser on Android updated with bookmark sync and Webzine enhancements http://venturebeat.com/2011/10/19/dolphin-browser-on-android-updated-with-bookmark-sync-and-webzine-enhancements/ Mobotap’s Dolphin Browser has updated its powerful Android app to version 7.0 with new features that let users sync settings and bookmarks as well as give better access to frequently visited sites…The Dolphin Browser…humbly started as a faster and better functioning alternative to the Android browser. And while the stock Android browser has greatly improved since the first Dolphin release, Dolphin keeps swimming along with more enhancements and features that help define it as a strong competitor. The update to version 7.0 on Android adds Dolphin’s first ever cloud-based functionality, with the ability to sync browsing preferences, bookmarks and custom gestures across multiple Android smartphones and tablets…Other cool features that help Dolphin stand out on Android and iOS include smart tabbed browsing, custom gestures for navigation, a sidebar for accessing bookmarks, a desktop mode option for switching between desktop and mobile site views…”

21. Android Overtakes iOS in App Downloads http://www.pcworld.com/article/242519/android_overtakes_ios_in_app_downloads.html The Android operating system now leads in total app downloads, another benchmark in the race to dominate the smartphone market…Android overtook iOS in the second quarter of this year with 44 percent of mobile app downloads being delivered to Android devices, compared to 31 percent going to iOS gadgets…In 2009, Google's OS facilitated just 11 percent of total app downloads. At that time, the firm projected that figure might grow to 23 percent by 2014…As recently as August 2010, ABI reported that iOS still held a dominant 52 percent of the market for mobile app downloads…Android’s install base now exceeds iOS by a margin of 2.4-to-1 worldwide…”

Open Source

22. Desktop dreams: Ubuntu 11.10 reviewed http://arstechnica.com/open-source/reviews/2011/10/desktop-dreams-ubuntu-1110-reviewed.ars Ubuntu 11.10, codenamed Oneiric Ocelot, prowled out of the development forest earlier this month…In this review, we're going to revisit Unity to see how much progress it has made over the past six months…The Unity desktop shell, which provides the heart of Ubuntu's user interface, is one of the distribution's key differentiating features…Although the Unity shell brought a number of significant aesthetic and usability improvements to the Ubuntu desktop, it suffered from some real drawbacks. The quality of the Unity environment that shipped in Ubuntu 11.04 was eroded by technical rough edges, questionable design decisions…Ubuntu's developers have done a great deal of work over the past six months to fill in the gaps and make the Unity experience better for end users…It's now more stable and its behavior is generally more predictable…but some of our major grievances with Unity still haven't been fully addressed. Unity looks like a work in progress… Ubuntu 11.10 is another modest incremental improvement over the previous release…The Unity shell still has some annoying limitations, but it feels more practical for day-to-day use…Ubuntu's distinctive look and feel is mature, but still benefits from some tasteful refinements in the new version. Further work is still needed…Thunderbird looks great in this release, but LibreOffice still looks gratuitously non-native…Hardware compatibility remains hit and miss, with some painful misses on laptops and netbooks…”

23. Top Free Android SSH Tools http://www.linuxlinks.com/article/20111022065038482/AndroidSSHTools.html Secure Shell (SSH) is a network protocol that operates over the Transmission Control Protocol and encrypts everything it sends and receives using 128-bit encryption. SSH also ensures that communication between the two hosts is not being intercepted in the middle by transmitting authentication information to the server using the same strength encryption. With its security safeguards, SSH is a popular protocol for secure data communication and remote command execution…This article selects high quality Android software that lets users perform SSH related tasks on Android devices. The article identifies the best SSH client and server implementations available for Android, as well as some other useful tools. All of the software featured in this article is available to download without charge…We give our highest recommendation to ConnectBot and SSHDroid… SSHmote…ServerAssistant…Telnet…”

24. PrestaShop Open-Source e-Commerce Software Celebrates 100,000th Online Store http://news.yahoo.com/prestashop-leading-open-source-e-commerce-software-celebrates-110247748.html PrestaShop.com…Open-source e-commerce shopping cart software, has announced a major milestone in its history by reaching its 100,000th active online store…With a community of over 275,000 e-commerce fanatics and 100,000 online stores, PrestaShop’s strength resides on its growing community and team members to ensure merchants receive the greatest benefits from their online stores…”

SkyNet

25. Google+ to Support Pseudonyms, Google Apps http://www.businessinsider.com/google-to-support-pseudonyms-google-apps-and-more-2011-10 Since its inception, Google+ users have been a loud, vocal bunch, and they've made their displeasure known about many issues, especially on the lack of support for pseudonyms, Google Apps, and brand pages…VP of Engineering +Vic Gundotra confirmed that support for pseudonyms would be rolled out soon, but did not provide details about what that support would look like…You can view the livestream broadcast with +Vic Gundotra and +Sergey Brin, here…Google would also be rolling out Google Apps support…Support for brand pages will also be forthcoming…Gundotra made a few pointed comments about Facebook's new vision for "frictionless sharing", which enables apps to share many of their users' activities automatically. He said, "We do not believe in oversharing", and pointed out, "From a philosophical standpoint, there is a reason why every thought in your head does not come out of your mouth…”

26. Google creates an infinite digital bookcase http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/designing-infinite-digital-bookcase.html As digital designers, we often think about how to translate traditional media into a virtual space. Recently, we thought about the bookcase. What would it look like if it was designed to hold digital books?...In this case, we imagined something that looks like the shelves in your living room, but is also capable of showcasing the huge number of titles available online—many more than fit on a traditional shelf…we designed a digital bookcase that’s an infinite 3D helix. You can spin it side-to-side and up and down with your mouse. It holds 3D models of more than 10,000 titles from Google Books. The books are organized into 28 subjects. To choose a subject, click the subject button near the top of your screen when viewing the bookcase. The camera then flies to that subject. Clicking on a book pulls it off the shelf and brings it to the front and center of the screen. Click on the high-resolution cover and the book will open to a page with title and author information as well as a short synopsis…If you’ve finished your browsing and find a book you want to read, you can click the “Get this book” button on the bottom right of the page, which will send you to that book’s page on books.google.com. Or, you can open the title on your phone or tablet via the QR code that’s in the bottom left corner of the page, using a QR code app like Google Goggles. You can also browse just free books by selecting the “Free Books” subject in the subject viewer…”

27. Google Kills Its Other Plus http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/10/google-kills-its-other-plus-and-how-to-bring-it-back/ “…Google’s quietly shuttered a number of products…But in doing so, they also killed off one of its oldest and most useful tools, from its most popular product. On Wednesday, Google retired a longer-standing “plus”: the + operator, a standard bit of syntax used to force words and phrases to appear in search results. The operator was part of Google since its launch in 1997 and built into every search engine since…the removal of + was made without any public announcement. It could only be found by doing a search, which advised the user to double-quote the string from now on…Google wouldn’t disclose exactly why they phased it out, though it seems obvious that they’re paving the way for Google+ profile searches…The fate of the “+” symbol was clear: protect a 12-year-old convention loved by power users, or bring Google+ profile searching to the mainstream? It was doomed from the start…Google needed to read minds to find what their mainstream audience was looking for, even if it meant ignoring what they actually wrote. They started with the introduction of spelling suggestions, with “do you mean?” prompts introduced in 2003. By 2009, these were so successful that Google replaced the user’s search with the corrected words by default…“It’s incredibly annoying,” wrote Peter Rojas, gdgt founder and co-founder of Engadget and Gizmodo. “I hate how they don’t want you to do searches for exactly the words you’ve entered and nothing else.” “I also use + constantly. It’s such a long-standing convention,” wrote Mat Honan, senior reporter for Gizmodo…Even Matt Cutts, head of webspam at Google, personally agreed. “My fingers are crossed for coming up with a better approach to this,” he said…As Google marginalizes its core base, it’s opened the door for…more nimble startups, such as DuckDuckGo, a one-man project…quickly becoming the go-to search engine for discriminating nerds. With a corpus of powerful search modifiers and a hard-line stance against tracking and personalization, it was created and maintained for the last four years by a single engineer, Gabriel Weinberg. This month, Weinberg announced DuckDuckGo accepted funding from Union Square Ventures and hired his first full-time employee. For those unwilling to leave Google’s deep index, there are other solutions. One pseudonymous hacker made FindErr, a simple proxy that adds quotes to every search before shuttling the user off to Google. My personal favorite is this simple userscript created by electrotype for Hacker News, which instantly adds quote marks to every submitted search. It works in Chrome natively…”

28. Google’s Switch To Encrypted Search Upsets SEO Companies http://searchengineland.com/reactions-googles-switch-to-encrypted-search-97511 Google caused a major stir in the search marketing community…with the news that it will begin encrypting searches and outbound clicks by default in some situations. The move means that valuable keyword referral data will not be passed to analytics programs (including Google Analytics) when a logged-in Google user searches from Google.com. Although Google says the change will impact less than 10 percent of searchers, that’s still a significant amount of keyword referral data that will now be hidden from website owners. Well, it won’t be hidden if those searchers click on one of Google’s ads because, in that case, Google says its advertisers need to be able to “measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and to improve the ads and offers they present to you…” http://www.zdnet.com/blog/seo/google-scares-the-pants-off-the-seo-industry-by-removing-analytics-keyword-data/4017 “…Google has decided to automatically enable encrypted browsing for searchers who are signed into their Google accounts. The goal, Google says, is to protect the privacy of their users by not relaying any search query information to Web sites a user clicks through to. In the SEO industry, that translates to a…drop in Analytics keyword data since you won’t be able to see the keywords that an encrypted search yields a click-through for…I can’t help but recall the pandemonium that transpires in the SEO industry every time Google makes a major move like this…we’re not really going to know the impact until some time passes and we start seeing data pop up from all over the industry — never mind your own subset of data for your clients over the course of the next 3-6 months. Remember the absolutely insane reactions to Google Instant?...my personal view on it is for everyone to just chill out, give it some time, and see how much YOU or YOUR CLIENTS are actually affected…you may not even have to go that far because you may not end up all that affected…”

29. Backupify Snapshot Exits Beta, More Features For Exporting Google Apps Accounts http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/19/backupify-snapshot-exits-beta-adds-more-features-for-exporting-google-apps-accounts/ Backupify, the startup that provides online data backup, archiving and export, is today releasing a new version of its Backupify Snapshot tool with additional features for Google Apps admins. The tool…allows Google Apps administrators to extract and download the complete Google Apps account for a departing company employ and save the data locally…With Backupify Snapshot, the idea is to recreate the same sort of account termination procedures companies are used to, but for cloud-based services. The tool compresses a user’s Google Apps account data (Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Contacts and Sites) into a Zip file that can then be downloaded to a local machine or server…Backupify Snapshot is available both as a standalone service and as a part of Backupify’s Google Apps Backup service…”

30. Google offers better Chromebook pricing to lure businesses and schools http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2011/10/google-offers-better-chromebook-pricing-to-lure-businesses-and-schools.ars When Google started selling Chromebooks a few months ago, businesses were given the option of three-year subscription plans, which gave them access to the device and related services for a monthly fee, eliminating the need to make a big hardware purchase up front…today Google added a new subscription plan that lets customers purchase the devices up front and save money on the overall cost of a three-year service plan. Google has heard from some customers “that they work with yearly budget cycles,”…This new option gives schools and businesses a choice to pay upfront for Chromebooks with one year of access to the Web-based admin management console, phone support, and hardware warranty coverage. After the first year, customers can choose to pay a monthly fee for years two and three for management console access and support… While Chromebooks offer an interesting take on Web-based computing, they are hardly going to replace Windows PCs or Macs for most users. Google is trying to make the devices more useful by partnering with Citrix to connect the Chrome browser to Windows virtual desktop…”

31. Gmail's pending makeover http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20123485-93/google-confirms-gmails-pending-makeover/ “…Google is about to give your Gmail inbox a makeover…The new look is designed to be cleaner, simpler…One of the biggest changes is that the Gmail window will automatically adapt to whatever size the user chooses. Gmail is adding user's profile pictures "to make chats "feel more like a real conversation."…Google is making the size of the label and chat areas on the left more flexible…”

General Technology

32. Bill Gates to defend Microsoft in one final Windows 95 antitrust suit http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/73536.html The Novell v. Microsoft antitrust lawsuit entered its trial phase in the Utah U.S. District Court this week…The case, which Novell originally filed in 2004, has traveled a long and winding road…In the late 1980s, Novell was riding high: Its WordPerfect and Quattro Pro were among the most popular word processing and spreadsheet applications, respectively. Then along came Microsoft, determined to make its Office suite and productivity applications the most popular…Novell's creations bit the dust, for all practical purposes…Novell maintained that their demise was a result of Microsoft's abuse of its dominant market position…The trial is moving forward on Novell's allegations that Microsoft delayed releasing Windows 95 in order to keep WordPerfect and Quattro from gaining traction. Novell is seeking between US$500 million and $1.2 billion in compensation. The trial promises to be a long one, with former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates possibly being called as a witness…Even if Gates' testimony is confined to a video deposition, it may prove too uncomfortable for Gates to have his emails trotted out for public consumption…There certainly is a plenty of history to uphold the image of Microsoft the monopolist…With this history, the jury is bound to look very skeptically at claims by Microsoft that it is innocent of anticompetitive behavior…”

33. MIT radar video can see through walls http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/ll-seeing-through-walls-1018.html The ability to see through walls is no longer the stuff of science fiction, thanks to new radar technology developed at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. Much as humans and other animals see via waves of visible light that bounce off objects and then strike our eyes’ retinas, radar “sees” by sending out radio waves that bounce off targets and return to the radar’s receivers…Lincoln Lab researchers have built a system that can see through walls from some distance away, giving an instantaneous picture of the activity on the other side…Walls, by definition, are solid, and that’s certainly true of the four- and eight-inch-thick concrete walls on which the researchers tested their system…What has been difficult for through-wall radar systems is achieving the speed, resolution and range necessary to be useful in real time. “If you’re in a high-risk combat situation, you don’t want one image every 20 minutes…The Lincoln Lab team’s system may be used at a range of up to 60 feet away from the wall…And, it gives a real-time picture of movement behind the wall in the form of a video at the rate of 10.8 frames per second…”

34. Steve Jobs’ biography released http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_TEC_STEVE_JOBS_BOOK A new biography portrays Steve Jobs as a skeptic all his life…calling executives who took over Apple "corrupt" and delaying cancer surgery in favor of cleansings and herbal medicine."Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson, to be published Monday, also says Jobs came up with the company's name while he was on a diet of fruits and vegetables…Isaacson wrote that Jobs was livid in January 2010 when HTC introduced an Android phone that boasted many of the popular features of the iPhone. Apple sued, and Jobs told Isaacson…"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion…I'm going to destroy Android…I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."…The biography, for which Jobs granted more than three dozen interviews, is also a look into the thoughts of a man who was famously secret…Jobs calls the crop of executives brought in to run Apple after his ouster in 1985 "corrupt people" with "corrupt values" who cared only about making money…He called Jonathan Ive, Apple's design chief, his "spiritual partner" at Apple. He told Isaacson that Ive had "more operation power" at Apple than anyone besides Jobs himself - that there's no one at the company who can tell Ive what to do. That, says Jobs, is "the way I set it up."…Jobs says LSD "reinforced my sense of what was important - creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could…”

35. Former Apple, Google Engineers Develop Friendly, Smart Learning Thermostat http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20125166-54/in-nest-labs-finally-an-apple-of-home-energy/ “…Nest Labs…came out of stealth mode today, telling the story of how two consumer electronics mavens, including the "father of the iPod," decided to take on the unlikely quest of making a better thermostat. The product is just a programmable thermostat. But the genius of Nest Labs is that it decided to make the iPhone of thermostats--a device that looks cool and is smart enough to spare the owner the frustrations of unfriendly technology. Instead of pulling out an owner's manual, people simply use the Learning Thermostat by turning a familiar dial to change the temperature. After a few days, or a week at most, it will know the household schedule and create a suitable program…the EPA estimates that households can cut energy by 20 percent to 30 percent simply by having a set schedule. And heating and cooling is almost half of household energy use, about $1,000 a year in the U.S…A motion sensor will let the thermostat "see" when people are usually in a room and it even sips juice from home wiring to recharge the batteries. But the power of the device is the software: the artificial intelligence to improve home efficiency automatically…The display…shows a leaf to signify they're doing well in being efficient…only a small fraction of today's programmable thermostats are actually programmed…Whether the $250 Learning Thermostat or subsequent products from Nest Labs are a hit with consumers remains to be seen…”

36. Ten years of Windows XP: can longevity be a curse? http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2011/10/ten-years-of-windows-xp-how-longevity-became-a-curse.ars Windows XP's retail release was October 25, 2001, ten years ago today. Though no longer readily available to buy, it continues to cast a long shadow over the PC industry: even now, a slim majority of desktop users are still using the operating system. Windows XP didn't boast exciting new features or radical changes, but it was…a pivotal moment in Microsoft's history. It was Microsoft's first mass-market operating system in the Windows NT family. It was also Microsoft's first consumer operating system that offered true protected memory, preemptive multitasking, multiprocessor support, and multiuser security…In the history of PC operating systems, Windows XP stands alone…No previous PC operating system has demonstrated such longevity, and it's unlikely that any future operating system will. Nor is its market share dominance ever likely to be replicated; at its peak, Windows XP was used by more than 80 percent of desktop users…the effect of Windows XP's long life and massive market share has its downsides. Windows XP…hasn't kept up with modern developments…Installing it on systems without optical drives is…troublesome…Windows 7 and Mac OS X both use GPUs' powerful 3D capabilities to accelerate their user interfaces…Windows XP also lacks a true 64-bit version…The continued widespread usage of the old operating system makes it much harder for developers to depend on these new features…Windows 7 will overtake XP within the next year…Nonetheless, it will be several years before developers and administrators can put Windows XP behind them…Ten years is a good run for any operating system, but it really is time to move on…the stagnation it caused hurts, and is causing increased costs for administrators and developers alike…Windows XP needs to be not only the first ten-year operating system; it also needs to be the last…”

37. Best-ever topographic map of Earth released http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44938627/ns/technology_and_science-science/ The most complete digital topographic ever made of the Earth was released by NASA Monday. The map, known as a global digital elevation model, was created from images collected by the Japanese Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, or ASTER, instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite. The 3-D effect is achieved by merging two slightly offset two-dimensional images (called stereo-pair images) to create depth…The ASTER data cover 99 percent of Earth's landmass and span from 83 degrees north latitude to 83 degrees south…It features improved spatial resolution, increased horizontal and vertical accuracy, more realistic coverage over water bodies and the ability to identify lakes as small as 0.6 miles in diameter. The map is available online to users everywhere at no cost at https://lpdaac.usgs.gov/ or http://www.ersdac.or.jp/GDEM/E/4.html. "These data can be used for a broad range of applications, from planning highways and protecting lands with cultural or environmental significance, to searching for natural resources…”

38. New printed chip could spark cheaper sensor networks http://gigaom.com/2011/10/20/new-printed-chip-could-spark-cheaper-sensor-networks/ Thin Film Electronics ASA, a maker of disposable memory used in toys, has developed a way to add computing to its circuits…it can offer thin, disposable tracking tags for a few cents apiece…Thin Film…has been manufacturing thin-film memory chips that provide about 20 kilobytes bits of storage, which were used in toys and games…it has added transistors to its circuits, which gives the chips a soupcon of intelligence — enough to perhaps track inventory or send environmental data from a sensor back to the network…the plan is to attach a sensor component to the smart thin-firm circuit to create a low-power and cheap sensor…Each thin-film circuit should cost “pennies” to produce. A low price is important, because it makes the technology far more accessible than RFID…A single-print run can make from half a million to 3 million chips, but the process is much cheaper than the traditional silicon process, although the resulting chip also carry far less information and intelligence…”

39. Scientists Sequence the First Carbohydrate Biopolymer http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111011112757.htm “…Understanding the structure of…complex biomolecules has revolutionized drug development, medical diagnostics, forensic science, and our understanding of evolution and development. But, one major molecule in the biological triumvirate has remained largely uncharted: carbohydrate biopolymers. Today, for the first time ever, a team of researchers led by Robert Linhardt of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has announced…the sequence of a complete complex carbohydrate biopolymer. The surprising discovery provides the scientific and medical communities with an important and fundamental new view of these vital biomolecules, which play a role in everything from cell structure and development to disease pathology and blood clotting…The first glycosaminoglycan sequenced was obtained from bikunin…Bikunin, for example, is a natural anti-inflammatory that is used as a drug for the treatment of acute pancreatitis in Japan. It has the simplest chemical structure of any proteoglycan. Linhardt views the discovery of the structure of bikuin as the first step on the ladder to the discovery of the structure of more complex proteoglycans…”

DHMN Technology

40. Robot builds itself with foam http://news.discovery.com/tech/robot-builds-itself-with-foam-111020.html Combine off-the-shelf insulation foam and modular robot components and you get a self-assembling robot…The Modular Robotics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania…has created a robot that can be assembled from foam that hardens and pieces that allow the robot to move…lining up a bunch of the actuators (the modular robot parts) can create a snake-like bot that can move into small, narrow spaces, while arranging them in another pattern allows for a more conventional four-legged arrangement. A key advantage of this kind of construction is that you don’t need to know what your robot has to do beforehand…if one is sending a robot someplace where it isn’t clear what you need, then it helps to be able to decide on the task and build on the spot. The robot’s parts are CKBot modules, which can be taken apart and reassemble themselves, because the components can recognize where they are in relation to each other. The foam is commercially available insulation, and it turns out such foams are a great material. Revzen noted in an email that they expand to 30 times their initial size, and are actually quite strong…”

41. Best Robotics Software for Linux http://www.junauza.com/2011/10/robotics-software-for-linux.html “…Robotics is no longer an emerging field. In fact, it has become a science that's accessible to everyone thanks to the attention it gets in media, Internet and print…no robot is complete without the right kind of programming. So, whether you're a robotics enthusiast or a super geek who's busy building a giant robot in his/her basement, read on as we've got a list of some of the best and coolest Robotics software out there for Linux…Player…OpenRDK…Choreographe…Fawkes…CARMEN…ROS…On a side note, if you have some disk space to spare, I'd recommend installing Fedora Robotics spin that includes all the important robotics software you’d ever need…”

Leisure & Entertainment

42. Facebook, Spotify and the Future of Music http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/10/ff_music/all/1 “…I’d never even heard of Spotify, but Sean mentioned it to me one day,” Zuckerberg says. “I was like, wow, this person has built a really cool music product and also understands how you can integrate social things in it.” Within a day, Zuckerberg had updated his Facebook status: Spotify is so good…In September, after two years of speculation following Zuckerberg’s four-word swoon, Facebook announced an ambitious initiative that lets its users quickly and easily share music with one another—in many cases for free. Facebook worked closely with Spotify, as well as with a dozen other services, and is opening itself up to potentially hundreds more…An orgy of free song-sharing seems to be exactly the kind of thing that the horrified labels would quickly clamp down on. But they appear to be starting to accept that their fortunes rest with the geeks…“I’m not part of the past—I’m part of the future,” says Lucian Grainge, chair and CEO of the world’s biggest label, Universal Music Group. “There’s a new philosophy, a new way of thinking.”…every dominant Internet company—including Apple, Amazon, and Google—has ramped up a streaming music service, each one an attempt to reinvent the way we purchase and listen to music…Rhapsody and the personalized radio service Pandora have championed the streaming model for years; now they are being joined by second-generation services like Rdio, MOG, and Turntable…streaming subscription services hasten an even bigger upheaval: songs becoming links, playable with one click, from a newsfeed, email, or Facebook profile. The real fun is about to begin…”

43. 'Battlefield' throws down gauntlet before 'Warfare' lands http://www.usatoday.com/tech/gaming/story/2011-10-23/battlefield-3-cover/50884732/1 “…perhaps the biggest war game showdown to date kicks off this week with Electronic Arts' release of first-person combat game Battlefield 3, available Tuesday. EA, the No. 2 publisher in the U.S., has Activision's multibillion-dollar Call of Duty franchise in its sights. Deploying Battlefield 3 two weeks before the Nov. 8 arrival of the next Call of Duty installment, Modern Warfare 3, is part of EA's extensive campaign to gain inroads into the $5 billion first-person shooter game market. At stake is leadership in one of the hottest genres for the $60 billion global video game industry. First-person shooters currently account for about 16% of all console video game sales, and that's expected to increase…”

44. Lytro's new light field camera http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/10/lytros-new-light-field-camera-lets-you-focus-after-you-take-a-picture.ars “…Lytro unveiled its first consumer product on Wednesday—a digital camera capable of capturing "living images" that can be infinitely refocused after capture. While the new camera is designed to change the way we capture and share snapshots, the technology has the potential to radically alter how all photographs are made. The new Lytro camera is a small rectangular tube of aluminum, with an f/2 lens on one end and a small 2" touchscreen on the other. The only controls are a power button, shutter button, and a slider to control the 8x zoom range of its lens. There are no controls for aperture, shutter speed, or focus—because the Lytro doesn't need them…Ng first began his efforts to capture living images as a researcher at Stanford…the Stanford Multi-Camera Array…consists of a hundred or more CMOS sensors and matching lenses and it was used to capture, among other research oddities, what is known as a light field…Ng wrote his PhD thesis on the computational concepts and algorithms necessary to do so, as well as methods to capture a light field using digital CMOS sensors. Ng then set about shrinking the SMCA—its hundred sensors and lenses, four PCs, and striped RAID array…—into something even a casual photographer could use…the specially designed Lytro sensor uses a sort of micro lens array on top of a high-megapixel CMOS sensor to record 11 "megarays" of light field information. These 11 megarays are what allows a Lytro user to shoot first and focus later…” [“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” – last week NEW NET had an article about the ‘Enhance Button’ and this week’s list has an article about the launch of a camera that takes pictures which are focused after they’re shot – ed.]

45. How Apple’s A5 Chip and iOS 5 Will Change Mobile Gaming http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/10/ios-5-a5-processor-gaming/ If the last two weeks of mainstream press coverage are to be believed, the only relevant features in Apple’s new iPhone 4S are Siri, the phone’s remarkable digital assistant, and the new 8-megapixel camera, which delivers near point-and-shoot image quality…there’s one other feature that’s largely been ignored…Apple’s A5 processor, which grants exciting new opportunities for iOS game developers. The 1GHz dual-core A5, along with various aspects of iOS 5, have the potential to seriously supercharge gaming on both the iPhone 4S and iPad 2…now that Apple’s A5 processor is available in both iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S, game developers can go hog wild in designing graphically intense 3D worlds for iOS, confident of a growing installed base of Apple’s fastest mobile chip…the A5 processor will “certainly help remove some restrictions for developing games that demand more CPU power.” According to Apple, its A5 processor delivers CPU performance twice as fast as its previous chip, along with seven times faster graphics processing — and all without additional battery life penalties…The increased processing power enables richer, more cinematic gaming experiences, bringing iOS gaming much closer to what you’ll find on consoles, if not gaming PCs…“iOS 5 is really slick,” Mustard says. “The best thing it offers to developers is iCloud…Seamless syncing across devices is a huge thing for gaming,”…In Infinity Blade II, for example, users will find a new community-based gameplay mode called Clash Mobs…Other group-based challenges could be incorporated in a wide variety of games and game types. Just as the original iPhone’s accelerometer gave us the entirely new genre of physics-based gaming, we should expect developers to respond to iCloud with similar innovation in community-based gaming — leading to novel new modes of play we can’t yet imagine…“The ability to play turn-based games asynchronously with your friend via Game Center in iOS 5 makes mobile social gaming even more convenient on mobile devices, which people tend to pick up and put down throughout the day,” says Tam, whose company developed a turn-based game called Cannon Ball…Tam believes that as developers get more familiar with what iOS 5 and the A5 have to offer, we’ll see a lot more games that incorporate these new features….”

46. Zombies leads Android Games of the Week http://www.androidapps.com/games/articles/9898-contract-killer-zombies-leads-android-games-of-the-week “…This latest release from Glu Mobile raked up plenty of buzz this week, dropping you in the middle of a war against the undead. Protect Evelyn and other survivors in this first-person shooter game, exploring the terrain for wayward zombies. The timing couldn’t be better for Contract Killer: Zombies, as Halloween nears and our growing love for zombie culture returns to prime time with a second season of Walking Dead. But the release may have been a little rushed for Glu — you’ll come across a few bugs and camera angle issues that will hopefully be resolved soon…”

Economy and Technology

47. Twitter Founder Pushes Square’s Payment Device Into Wal-Mart http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-24/twitter-founder-pushes-square-s-payment-device-into-wal-mart.html Square Inc…said its credit-card reader for smartphones will be available in Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s locations nationwide, boosting the number of retail outlets where it is sold to more than 9,000. The reader, which lets businesses handle payments via mobile devices, was previously available in about 200 Apple stores, as well as Target Corp., RadioShack Corp. and Best Buy…Square is targeting small businesses that may not be able to afford machinery that handles credit cards…At stake is a mobile commerce market that Juniper Research predicts will surge to $670 billion in 2015. “Payments have a lot of friction, a lot of distraction,” Rabois said…our mission is to make Square ubiquitous.” Square’s technology lets U.S. businesses handle payments via Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad, as well as devices running on Google Inc.’s Android software. The card reader plugs into the headphone jack of the mobile device and lets merchants swipe customers’ credit and debit cards. The device can be ordered free on the Web. The reader is sold at stores for $9.99, a cost that can be refunded online…”

48. WordPress.com Users Can Soon Put Ads on Their Blogs http://news.yahoo.com/wordpress-com-users-soon-put-ads-blogs-160304394.html “…WordPress.com and Federated Media have teamed up to give WordPress's millions of users the ability to place ads on their blogs…It's unclear how Automattic and Federated Media will split the revenue with WordPress.com users. WordPress also revealed that it now powers 15% of all websites on the Internet…Twenty-two percent of all new website registrations are WordPress installs…”

49. Groupon Is A Disaster http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-10-21/tech/30305419_1_groupon-s-ipo-ipo-boutique-daily-deals “…a few months ago, Groupon was the Internet's next great thing. Business media christened it the fastest growing company ever. Copycats proliferated…Today, the startup that pioneered online daily deals for coupons is an example of how fast an Internet darling can fall. Groupon, which had to delay its initial public offering of stock this summer after regulators raised concerns about the way it counts revenue, is discounting its expectations for the IPO. In June, it was valued as high as $25 billion, but in a regulatory filing Friday, the company said it expects a valuation less than half that…Now, Groupon faces concerns about the viability of its daily deals business model. The novelty of only coupons is wearing off. Some merchants are complaining that they are losing money -- and customers…"Groupon is a disaster," says Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research analyst. "It's a shill that's going to be exposed pretty soon…”

50. Amazon Lets You Spin Up A Supercomputer Cluster http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/18/amazon-spin-up-supercomputer-cluster/ Thousands of companies from Dropbox to Netflix rely on Amazon Web Services to provide storage and computing in the cloud. Amazon’s cloud computing offerings range from storage to on-demand computing cycles. But Amazon wants companies to ask themselves what their engineers could do if they had access to a supercomputer?...Amazon highlighted a combination of existing services which allow companies to spin up the equivalent of a supercomputer to solve big data problems…Depending on the job, it could require the combination of Amazon S3 (its cloud storage service), EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), Elastic MapReduce (Hadoop clusters)…Cycle Computing, spun up a cluster of 30,000 computing cores which would have cost $18 million for them to build themselves. Instead it only cost $1,300 per hour of data crunching…”

51. Apple's cash hoard grows to $81B with two-thirds of it offshore http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/10/18/apples_cash_hoard_grows_to_81b_with_two_thirds_of_it_offshore.html Apple's…cash and investments continues to grow, reaching $81 billion during the company's fourth quarter of fiscal 2011…Apple's cash pile would have been even larger were it not for two major expenditures last quarter: Apple's acquisition of Nortel patents, and a legal settlement and licensing agreement with Nokia…two years ago, Apple had $31.1 billion in cash and investments…Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer went out of his way to note that a majority of Apple's cash and investments -- about two-thirds -- are held overseas…Apple is among a consortium of companies, including Cisco, Duke Energy, Oracle and Pfizer, who are pushing for a one-time tax break on an estimated $1 trillion held by corporations in overseas accounts. Those companies currently face a 35 percent tax on any profits they generate outside of the U.S. Under the proposed plan, companies would benefit from a temporary tax break with a tax rate of just 5 percent in a one-year period…”

52. China is now Apple’s second-most important market http://gigaom.com/apple/china-is-now-apples-second-most-important-market/ China isn’t just where Apple manufactures products. It’s now the country that delivers the most revenue for the company after the U.S…during Apple’s fiscal fourth-quarter 2011 earnings call, CEO Tim Cook shed more light on just how important China has become…Cook said that if you count the greater China region as a whole (which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan) it now accounts for 12 percent of Apple’s full-year revenue for 2011. That’s up from just 2 percent in fiscal year 2009, he said. That makes it Apple’s “fastest-growing region by far…It’s an area of enormous opportunity. It has quickly become No. 2 on our lists of top revenue countries very, very quickly…”

53. Card Tricks Win Big Rewards for Some Travelers http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204618704576640931800937612.html Want a free trip to Paris? Just sign up. Hard-core collectors of frequent-flier miles are turning credit card sign-up bonus offers into vast stashes of miles, points and expensive trips by opening new card accounts by the dozen…practitioners call it travel hacking…The big play among mileage addicts is signing up for what are now huge credit card bonuses - up to 100,000 miles or hotel points…Card sign-up bonuses rocketed onto the free-perk scene a couple of years ago, then waned. Now they've come back strong…Credit-card churn is the big thing now…Most new cards are free since issuers typically waive annual fees for the first year…People who churn cards say it's important to meet these requirements and pay off balances monthly to avoid hefty finance charges. They also typically check their credit ratings regularly…Mr. Draper carries five cards in his wallet and has 30 to 40 at home…Adding a Venture small-business card brought the total haul to 300,000 free points, which he parlayed into $4,500 worth of Hyatt Hotel certificates and free luxury rooms in Buenos Aires. Enough was left over for a family trip to the Disney Grand Hyatt Cypress in Florida…I do this to experience a level of travel that I couldn't do otherwise…”

Civilian Aerospace

54. Does China want to own the moon? http://news.discovery.com/space/china-moon-resources-bigelow-111020.html Within about 15 years, China could have a permanent presence on the moon, and be laying claim to its resources. There may not be anything the United States, hobbled by debt and politically polarized, can do to stop China. By the time U.S. astronauts return to the moon they may need permission to touch down -- from China…The way Bigelow sees it, China, which has no debt, cash reserves of $3 trillion, technical skills, a long-term strategy and strong national support, will lay claim to raw materials on the moon in about 15 years…"Nothing else China could possibly do in the next 15 years would cause as great a benefit for China," Bigelow said…China, which is not a member of the International Space Station program, last month launched a test module for its own outpost in orbit. A capsule to robotically dock at the module is scheduled to be launched in November. That will be followed by human missions in 2012. In addition to a small space station, China has announced plans for a lunar base by 2020. "They're serious about what they're doing," said Mark Sirangelo, who oversees Sierra Nevada Corp., one of several firms working to develop commercial passenger spaceships for NASA…"Not only do they have a lot of people and a lot of money focused in on it, but they have a lot of willpower. I think that's one of the things that we in this country are lacking a little bit right now…”

55. SpaceX Unveils Dragon Spacecraft http://www.wesh.com/r/29568835/detail.html SpaceX…has taken the wraps off its newest spacecraft, intended to fly to the International Space Station…the Dragon spacecraft will become the first privately built spacecraft to dock with the Space Station. SpaceX is targeting a launch date of Dec. 19. The Dragon would carry supplies to the space station crew…The Dragon arrived Sunday at SpaceX's Cape Canaveral hangar, and now rests a few yards from the Falcon-9 rocket that will carry it into space. SpaceX has spent $800 million developing the rocket and spacecraft, and has also received $312 million in taxpayer money from NASA…The Dragon is not capable of carrying astronauts. However, a SpaceX spokesman said the company can build one for astronauts in three years…”

56. A gateway to space emerges in the desert http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1957/1 “…Spaceport America…is now officially the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space.”…The crowd at the event included about 150 of Virgin Galactic’s future astronauts as well as others that spanned the gamut of celebrity from Buzz Aldrin to actress Kate Winslet to Britain’s Princess Beatrice. The event was designed to demonstrate the progress both Virgin and New Mexico had made on their spaceplane and spaceport, respectively, but also served as a reminder that their work, despite Monday’s celebration, is not yet done…The company also announced the hiring of the first of several pilots who will fly WK2 and SS2: Keith Colmer, a 22-year veteran Air Force pilot who was leaving the military to join Virgin…Virgin did use the event to make the case that it is the leading company in the commercial suborbital sector, far ahead of its rivals…“There is no other company that is as close to flying people to space as Galactic,” claimed Whitesides. “There is no one else test flying vehicles that can take you and me into space. And there is no one whose vehicles are based on a design that has already been safely to space with people,”…earlier this month Virgin hired Mike Moses, who has been launch integration manager at the Kennedy Space Center for the final shuttle missions, as its new vice president of operations…While the company has made progress on staffing as well as lining up customers—it now has 455 “future tourist astronauts” signed up—the company still has work to do on the vehicle itself, including the rocket motor that will power SS2 on its suborbital spaceflights…”

57. Huntsville's commercial space market topic of town hall meeting http://blog.al.com/breaking/2011/10/huntsvilles_commercial_space_m.html The commercial space market was the topic of conversation Sunday night at a town hall meeting aimed at promoting Huntsville's reputation as the heart of space exploration. About three dozen people turned out at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center…Participating companies included SpaceX, Space Operations and Virgin Galactic, the first company to get a contract with NASA for a commercial spaceflight. The town hall was conducted by Huntsville Space Professionals, a group formed last year to help local engineers and contractors laid off because of the scrapping of the Constellation program…” [I’m amazed that only three dozen people turned out for a commercial space ‘town hall meeting’ in Huntsville – ed.]

Supercomputing & GPUs

58. India’s GPU Proving Ground http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/2011-10-17/india%E2%80%99s_gpu_proving_ground.html The Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC) is acting as a proving ground for the future of GPUs and heterogeneous computing in India…VSSC had “equipment in a single room delivering 220 teraflops” but to get to the 200+ teraflop range to run a homegrown x86-tailored CFD application called PARAS, they would have needed 5,000 CPUs…Nvidia “offered them the same architecture, [ability to] use the same room and offer a quantum jump in performance with a hybrid architecture of CPUs and GPUs.”…by adding 400 GPUs to the existing 400 CPUs, they got to their 220 teraflop goal…another Indian supercomputing center, Tata CRL, has a 170 teraflops system with 3600 CPUs built at a cost of $30 million. VSSC achieved 220 teraflops with an investment of $3-3.5 million…Only the code that was more parallelized had to be tweaked and this gave them a 40x performance boost on one account and a 60x boost on the other.”…VSSC consumes 150 kWh for generating 220 teraflops. Tata CRL, on the other hand, is using 2.5 mWh for 170 teraflops.”…with 2 teraflops available for $10,000, it changes the equation. We want every scientist or researcher to have this…”

59. PRACE Installs First Large Scale Hybrid Supercomputer http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/2011-10-19/prace_installs_first_large_scale_hybrid_supercomputer.html “…CURIE is the second PRACE Tier-0 system…designed and built by Bull, CURIE has general purpose modular architecture…last summer, it was extended…by adding 192 Teraflop/s (DP) peak performance provided by 288 nVIDIA M2090 GPUs…Altogether, this will lead CURIE to deliver a global peak performance of more than 1.7 Petaflop/s, by the end of this year. CURIE is the first large scale hybrid system available into PRACE. “It is important for PRACE to extend its facilities with hybrid supercomputing resources. CURIE will be the first of a larger generation of hybrid systems in PRACE. With CURIE, European scientists will be able to exploit the potential of these novel system architectures…”

60. Intel next-gen chip to support key Apple tech http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-20107096-64/intel-next-gen-chip-to-support-key-apple-tech/ Intel's next-generation processor is expected to add support for a key OS X technology that accelerates gaming and financial applications…Listed as a "core" OS X technology, OpenCL "dramatically accelerates" applications by tapping into the special processing power of the graphics processing unit…It taps into what an Apple developer page states as the "the amazing parallel computing power of the GPU." GPU-centric acceleration can be used for financial modeling, accounting applications, analysis on large media files, games, and media applications…much of the performance boost in Intel's next-generation Ivy Bridge processor (up to 60 percent faster than Intel's current Sandy Bridge chip) is due to more graphics circuits…”


*****

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