2011/12/13

NEW NET Weekly List for 13 Dec 2011

Below is a list of issues for the Tuesday, 13 December 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.

Apologies for the incomplete state of the list. I'm on the road from California to Wisconsin and time hasn't permitted me the luxury of internetting the way I usually do in Appleton at Aspen Coffee, Panera Bread, Tom's and the other places where I usually aggregate and curate the weekly list. Whether this is the final or initial list depends on how the early part of today's travels go...

If this post isn't updated before tonight's NEW NET meeting, it may be cleaned up and updated a bit later this week.

The ‘net

1. The end of social http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/12/the-end-of-social.html “…Plenty has been written about Facebook and privacy, Facebook and "forced" sharing…But none of the many reactions to Facebook get to the core of the problem, which isn't privacy at all. The real problem becomes visible when you look at it from the other direction. What effect does massive sharing have on the recipients?...I have hundreds of Facebook friends; do I really care to be informed about what everyone is listening to?...A little bit of information…is interesting, but a deluge is The Big Snore…automated trust systems undermine trust by incentivizing cooperation because of the fear of punishment rather than actual trust…If we rely on computational systems for a trust framework, we actually lose our instincts and capacity for personal trust; even more, we cease to care about it…Taking this a couple of steps further, the article points out that, to many people, Facebook's "frictionless" sharing doesn't enhance sharing; it makes sharing meaningless…”

2. Google Chrome extension lets you bypass Facebook news apps http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/google-chrome-extension-lets-you-bypass-facebook-news-apps/6028Millions of Facebook users have already embraced the Open Graph for reading and sharing news. Technology geeks and nerds, such as ZDNet readers, however, don’t like Facebook Open Graph news apps, noting they have major problems. Thankfully, there’s a solution out there, at least for Google Chrome users, which lets you skip all the nonsense. Frictionless is a browser extension that bypasses Facebook news apps and lets you go read the article at the original source. It was developed by Brian Kennish, who also built Facebook Disconnect, and Nik Cubrilovic, who was the driving force behind getting Facebook to explain and change how it uses tracking cookies. You can download the Google Chrome extension from the Chrome Web Store. Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari versions are in the works; the developers have posted the code on GitHub…”

3. How Evernote Made Me a Better Blogger http://www.lockergnome.com/social/2011/12/09/how-evernote-made-me-a-better-blogger/ “…When I started blogging about these aspects of new media at LockerGnome, rather than just living it, it was trial by error from the first day. I knew better than to draft my blog posts in the backend of WordPress, but didn’t know whether to use TextEdit, Google Docs, or Word. How did I did I save little ideas I had while at the gym?...This rough system, though, was primarily using Notepad to both transcribe interviews and add my thoughts, constantly saving files while praying my battery didn’t die before I saved again…I found myself overwriting files, using a combination of paper and the computer, and relying on email threads to find what I needed. And let’s not talk about bookmarks…Everything changed at SXSW in March when Tim Ferriss mentioned during a session that he used Evernote to help compile his book, the 4-Hour Body. Evernote was a solution to scanning things, eliminating paper methods of taking notes, and also being able to read online articles when offline, while also eliminating dozens of tabs…the concept resonated for months as I found myself having to completely restart my computer when I was overloaded with interesting articles, blog posts, research, and dozens of social media conversations. My blog posts for LockerGnome were doing well, though they were rarely profound…I also got a glimpse at how another team member uses Evernote…With Evernote, all your notes about a single article or topic can be in one place. And since Evernote is based in the cloud, everything is saved automatically, and can by synced to other devices connected to your account…”

Gigabit Internet

4. D.C. gets 100 gigabit network http://gigaom.com/broadband/d-c-gets-100-gigabit-network-maybe-politicos-will-finally-get-broadband/Washington D.C. went live with the first link of a 100-gigabit network Wednesday. The new network, called the D.C. Community Access Network (DC-CAN), will provide links out to communities east of the Anacostia River, but the ultra-high-speed network will soon serve the entire District. Unlike what Google is building in Kansas City, this isn’t crazy-fast fiber to the home; it’s a city-owned, middle mile, network link other providers can tap into in order to deliver faster broadband to homes and businesses…So while the network may not seem fabulous today, it most decidedly could be. Already, 24 community anchor institutions such as libraries, schools and other municipal buildings are connected to the 100-gig network…While many of the nation’s politicians don’t live in D.C. proper, I would love for this type of network to act as a showcase for how important the Internet can be for the average citizen…”

5. Google’s high-speed gamble in KC http://www.kansascity.com/2011/12/10/3313746/googles-high-speed-gamble-in-kc.html “…Google Inc.’s plan to build a far faster Internet for our homes could be, as the kids say, an epic fail…The faster the Internet — even measured in fragments of a second — the more time people spend online. That means Google sells more ads…Google concedes there’s no guarantee with the project but insists it fully expects to add to company profits even as it gives first Kansas City, Kan., and then Kansas City, Mo., a tech leg up on the rest of America…Triumph or fiasco, Google plans to string thousands of miles of fiber optic cable across town. That’ll mark one of the most ambitious infrastructure overhauls Kansas City’s seen in generations…There have already been fits and starts. Google doesn’t concede its schedule has slipped, but it has changed slightly the vague timeline for the project. The real tests that lie just ahead — it’s promising service by summer to at least a few fortunate neighborhoods — will show how well a company that has thrived like no other online can perform in a world without a delete key. In many ways Google is a wonderful and an awful player to tackle this problem. It’s big. It’s got money. It’s got computer engineering smarts arguably without peer. And yet it has never flipped a switch on a service that resembles this. “The nature of the fiber project itself is a manifestation of our culture,” Lo said in an interview on the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. “We like to take on big problems.”… Google had originally said it would begin signing up customers this year, a prospect that appears to have disappeared. It had promised to light up the service for those earliest customers in the first quarter of 2012. Now it says those debut customers will get hookups in the first half of 2012. Again, Lo will give no hint how many homes might get access next year…For a company fully and sincerely committed to gathering and making handy the world’s information, it shares precious little about its own intentions…let’s assume that, on the high side, Google sinks $1 billion into wiring Kansas City (Google won’t say how much it’s spending. Analysts say it’s a tough cost to guess at, but that the hundreds of millions will pile up quickly.)…Ideally, that gigaspeed will summon a certain magic. Google makes the case that we won’t know what voodoo will take over on a blindingly fast Web until we get one. Then, though, the digital alchemy could transform our lives the same way Pandora, YouTube and Hulu altered our online universe…The company is hoping for even more dramatic changes. Should something special happen in Kansas City, pressure could grow for companies such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable to bring equally fast Internet to other markets, or risk Google moving in on them there as well…“Part of their strategy in Kansas City is just learning,” said Olson, the Edward Jones technology analyst. “They could spend $100 million and walk away with $50 million worth of learning…Cable and telephone companies essentially stumbled into the business of being Internet service providers. They were, after all, the utilities that had communication wires running to your home and figured out how to add Web connections to the mix. Those telecoms have been able to draw ever faster Internet speeds from mostly copper lines that run to homes by finding increasingly inventive new ways to move larger amounts of data faster…they’ve not seen a profit in taking fiber optic lines all the way to the home…So Google’s plan to install that ultra-speed fiber challenges the telecommunication industry’s conventional wisdom…”

6. Gigabit internet in Stanford neighborhood http://www.kansascity.com/2011/12/10/3313757/stanford-community-got-first-taste.html “…Even among the elegantly weathered neighborhoods reserved for Stanford University’s faculty and senior staff, a community verily marinated in high technology, the introduction this year of Google-supplied Internet has yet to spurn radical change. Make no mistake, the ultra-fast service is adored. It dramatically cranked up downloads and uploads. Users notice the difference…Still, it has not really changed how he uses the Internet or how he interacts with neighbors similarly piped into the Internet’s express lane. Although a faster connection can radically change how quickly data get from your computer to the next, other data jams can complicate the quest for warp speed. Google started hooking up homes on the Stanford campus in July. The resulting Internet service comes close to the 1-gigabit- per-second speeds the company promises to deliver to some Kansas City homes next year…on the most basic level, Stanford offers a peek at what life is like with an uber-quick Internet connection…As much as people like the service, and feel grateful to Google, it’s not an instant life-changer. If there’s some early-adopter phenomenon taking hold, some incredible new application that proves irresistible at gigabit speeds, it’s flying well below the radar. Rather, some things that were simply annoying are no longer so…He recently had a message on his iPad suggesting an update of the Apple gadget’s operating system. The notice, naturally calibrated to conventional Internet, warned that downloading the update could take as long as an hour. “It took about half a minute,” Sweeney said. “It was great…A faster Internet gets rid of a big bottleneck. But it doesn’t make them all vanish. Hardware in people’s homes — or scattered across the Internet — is only as fast or slow as it was before…Stanford’s speed-of-light connections move the data logjams. Users, for instance, notice that some Web pages load more slowly than others. That could mean that the electronic servers hosting some websites will ultimately need more computing muscle, or to upgrade their own Internet connections, once more of the world has Stanford-like hookups. Likewise, the lines running in users’ homes in Stanford can slow things down. Many of those Ethernet cables — the ones that look like telephone wires with slightly fatter plugs — can’t move data at gigabit speeds…it’s basically up to the homeowner to get the most out of the juiced up Internet. That might mean upgrading the cables snaking through the house, or updating a computer to tap the full potential of the boosted Internet. The old stuff still works, it just doesn’t get the most out of the new service. Many customers then hire private technicians to put in new wires to their sundry computers and, often, their TVs…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

7. Apple Made A Deal With A Patent Troll http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/09/apple-made-a-deal-with-the-devil-no-worse-a-patent-troll/ “…Apple has been engaged in vicious legal battles over smartphone patents, many of which are aimed at squelching (or squeezing money out of) manufacturers of devices running Android. And now, for some reason, it has given valuable patents to a patent troll — which is using them to sue many of the top technology companies in the world. Meet Digitude Innovations, a firm…that recently filed suit…alleging patent infringement by technology companies including RIM, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, Amazon, and Nokia (note that Apple is not on this list)…In April, Digitude announced the “completion of its first such strategic partnership with one of the world’s leading consumer electronics companies” — which it didn’t name…Apple appears to be one of these participants, and may be the unnamed leading consumer electronics company that Digitude boasted about this past spring. Of the four patents that Digitude included in its claim this week, two were owned by Apple earlier this year, before they were transferred to Digitude…In both cases, Apple transferred ownership of the patent to a company called Cliff Island LLC, which in turn transferred it to Digitude Innovations. In fact, Apple has transferred a dozen patents to Cliff Island LLC this year..You probably haven’t heard of Cliff Island LLC, because it appears to exist in name only…I attempted to pay a visit to their office, only to find that it doesn’t appear to exist. But there are other tenants on the twenty-third floor of 485 Madison. One of which is Altitude Capital, the same IP-focused private equity firm that happened to lead Digitude’s $50 million funding round. Put another way, Apple appears to have transferred its patents to the patent troll Digitude, though it first routed them through a shell company that shares the same office as Digitude’s lead investor and Chairman…”

8. German court blocks European sales of all Apple’s 3G-enabled devices http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/androids-revenge-on-apples-iphone-ipad/9986 “…In yet another chapter in the mobile patent wars, this time around Android-power Motorola Mobility, soon to belong to Google, used a patent to smash the competition. Considering how Apple is using design and software patents to try to crush its rivals, I have to say I don’t think it could happen to a nicer company…the patent in question, Method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system is another perfect of a stupid software patent. Just like Apple is trying to block anyone from creating a phone or tablet that’s rectangular in shape because it would breech their “unique” designs, this bit of intellectual property (IP) blackmail material has nothing unique about it…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

9. Asus Transformer Prime earns rave reviews http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/article/409056/asus_transformer_prime_earns_rave_reviewsThe Asus Transformer Prime, the world’s first quad-core tablet, is getting praise from reviewers, who say it might be the best Android tablet yet. Arriving Dec. 19 for $500 for the 32GB model or $600 for 64GB storage, the Transformer Prime impressed reviewers with its svelte design, speedy performance via the Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor and camera quality…It has a 10.1-inch LED display with 1280-by-800 pixels resolution covered in Gorilla Glass, rocks a Tegra 3 processor running on four 1.3GHz chips and 1GB of RAM. The tablet comes with an 8-megapixel camera on the back and 1.3-megapixel one on the front, as well as microHDMI and microSD ports, all packed in a 8.3mm-thin bushed metal casing with a circular pattern…Asus is also selling a keyboard docking station for the Prime ($150, sold separately), which has a chicklet keyboard, USB and SD card slots and promises up to 18 hours of extra battery juice…PCWorld’s Melissa J. Perenson noted in her review that the Transformer Prime “represents one of the best tablet values today…”

10. When maps write themselves http://www.gadget.co.za/pebble.asp?relid=4061When mapping moved onto phones, the obituaries were written for stand-along GPS navigational devices. But they are taking on a new life…Cellphones…are becoming so feature-laden, it is sometimes absurd to call them phones. They are cameras, camcorders and calendars. Games consoles, web browsers and word processors…Why would you need a separate device to direct you in the traffic, when most smartphones can do the job just as well?..In truth, though, there is an enormous gulf between the navigational capacity of an “also” device and an “only” gadget. For simple mapping and basic directions, the “also” does fine…Rather than being overtaken by mobile technology, standalone GPS devices have evolved to a level of sophistication and utility far beyond what the phone offers…Its local office has just been rebranded from Tele Atlas to TomTom Africa, and is ramping up capacity to provide live mapping…By tracking fleets that are fitted with navigational devices, as well as individual users who allow their devices to be tracked individually, it becomes possible to map traffic patterns, and for the device itself to incorporate “knowledge” of those patterns to direct a motorist away from traffic snarls…Their users are able to submit information on changes to routes, road names and traffic conditions, which are then assessed and fed back into the maps by a team of updaters sitting in TomTom Africa’s Pretoria headquarters. “it’s like a call centre, but consisting entirely of people who work on updating the digital maps…And our users in effect become a community of updaters, feeding the information through to the team, using a function called MapShare.” In one year alone, 45 000 reports were received from South African motorists. You could call this social media for maps…”

11. PortableApps.com Platform reaches version 10 http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/PortableApps-com-Platform-reaches-version-10-1392264.htmlPortableApps.com has announced the release of version 10, code-named "Leo", of the project's open source portable software platform for Windows. Founder and lead developer John T. Haller explained that with the PortableApps.com Platform, users can install a variety of free and open source applications to portable storage such as a USB flash drive or external hard drive. Once installed, the applications run completely from the drive and can be used on any Windows computer…”

Apps

12. Amazon makes a move which could fundamentally change retail sales http://www.gizmag.com/amazon-price-check-app/20778/ “Amazon, one of the companies at the very forefront of online retailing in the United States is to make a compelling offer this coming Saturday for one day only - use its smartphone app (Android or Apple app) to compare prices, and they'll effectively pay you $5 to walk out of the store. It is an historic move in the evolution of retail sales. Mobile sales make up around 5% of American retail sales right now, but with the population heading for blanket smart phone penetration, the price comparison app might go mainstream quite quickly from here and retail advertising may never be the same again. Several such apps exist, but none with this level of promotional effort behind them. The Price Check by Amazon App is designed to let users compare prices with Amazon.com and its merchants when you are standing in front of a real product in a bricks and mortar store. Products are identified by scanning a barcode, taking a picture, speaking the product name or using text search, then compared to Amazon prices. You can then, of course, purchase the product online…A mobile app gives online retailers the ability to make a bid on a customer's patronage at the time- and point-of-sale, inside a competitor's bricks and mortar. Offers can be made and thresholds established for changing behaviors with incentives, at the same time as creating a marketing intelligence tool par excellence…For bricks and mortar retailers, this could be a telling blow…”

13. Lightbox and Skitch apps http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/12/lightbox-app-debuts-new-photo-journal-its-a-lazy-mans-tumblr/ “…Lightbox, the beautifully designed social photo app for Android…is today launching a revamped web interface that’s like a lazy man’s Tumblr. As with the hot blogging startup Tumblr, the idea with Lightbox’s new photo journal feature is to provide a stream of updates others can follow…Previously, Lightbox users were given a page for their public photos at a custom URL…Today, that URL will now become a photo blog, where photos are automatically organized into albums for you…The end result is an automatically created photo blog with an attractive layout…” http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/12/evernotes-skitch-sees-3-million-downloads-on-android/ “…Skitch…has reached 3 million downloads of Skitch for Android…Skitch has also added a new feature to its Android app – image rotation…This feature lets users rotate arrows, text and shapes by tapping the object, pressing with two fingers, then rotating. You can rotate multiple objects at once, by tapping them individually then doing the two-finger rotate…”

14. Google unveils Flipboard-like Currents app http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57339643-94/google-unveils-flipboard-like-currents-for-android-ios/Google is going after Flipboard with its own digital newsstand application optimized for smartphones and tablets. The company unveiled Google Currents, touting it as a central location for news content, video and photo feeds, RSS subscriptions and Google+ streams…” http://www.itworld.com/software/232331/google-currents-vs-skepticism-internet “…In the case of Google Currents I decided to keep an open mind and dig in a bit deeper and I'm liking what I see. Am I saying Currents is better than Flipboard…No, I am not. I'm saying the Currents is a different kind of product…here's what most people are missing. Currents isn't just an app. It's a self-publishing service and delivery system. Anyone can create an Edition in the Currents Producer and publish it. So what's an Edition? Well it can be a lot of things…I created an Edition that pulls in blog posts, Google+ posts and YouTube videos into a single magazine. It was simple to do; you don't need any tech skills…You can go as simple (leaving defaults in place) or as elaborate as you like, creating tables of content, styling what articles look like on various devices and so on…You can even include content from Google Docs if you'd like. And then you can protect it all. For each Section you create, you can control who has access to modify it, and who has access to read it. If you're a small company you can create and distribute a company newsletter through Currents, and you can leave parts of it public and parts for employees only…”

SkyNet

15. Google's Integration of Google+ into Gmail is Right Touch http://www.pcworld.com/article/246005/googles_integration_of_google_into_gmail_is_right_touch.htmlGoogle's integration of its social networking service into its e-mail platform is a welcome change because it makes adding people to Circles and sharing photos super easy. The feature Google+ users will probably appreciate most is the ability they now have to post photos they receive in Gmail directly to Google+ without having to download the image, then upload it to Google+…Google will be rolling out that change and others over the next few days to Gmail, Gmail Contacts and the "standalone" version of Google Contacts…”

16. Native Client turns Chrome into high-end gaming platform http://venturebeat.com/2011/12/08/google-nabs-square-enix-and-other-game-developers-to-do-native-chrome-games/Google announced today that its three-year effort to create a muscular browser technology that can run heavy duty apps such as console-like games is now ready for prime time. Google has provided the platform to allow games to run in the Chrome browser and make use of the computers 3D graphics hardware. That makes it possible to run games with high-end console-like graphics in a web browser…”

17. Chromebooks: Google’s next uphill battle http://gigaom.com/collaboration/google-network-2011/Some businesses literally threw me out of the meeting five minutes in when they realized I asked them to move their emails outside of their firewall,” remembered Google’s Rajen Sheth at GigaOM’s Net:Work conference in San Francisco Thursday. Sheth is known as the father of Google Apps, and he told his audience Thursday that establishing these apps what a bit of an uphill battle. Even Google’s executives initially didn’t believe in the idea, and it took months to finally get the approval for one single engineer. Seven years later, Chrome Google Apps have evolved into a huge success story with four million business customers. However, Sheth already has his next battle picked: He is now Group Product Manager of Chrome for Business at Google, and in this role is trying to sell Chromebooks to enterprise customers. “I feel like it’s a déjà-vu,” he said when asking about the challenges around establishing the device in the enterprise world. Some people already get it, he said, others aren’t quite there yet…”

Leisure & Entertainment

18. Amazon’s Jungle Logic http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/opinion/amazons-jungle-logic.html “…Amazon was encouraging customers to go into brick-and-mortar bookstores on Saturday, and use its price-check app (which allows shoppers in physical stores to see, by scanning a bar code, if they can get a better price online) to earn a 5 percent credit on Amazon purchases (up to $5 per item, and up to three items). Books, interestingly enough, were excluded, but you could use your Amazon credit online to buy other things that bookstores sell these days, like music and DVDs. And, if you were scanning, say, the new Steve Jobs biography, you’d no doubt be informed that you were about to pay way too much. I wondered what my writer friends made of all this, so I dashed off an e-mail to Scott Turow, the president of the Authors Guild, and cc’ed Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, Andre Dubus III, Anita Shreve, Tom Perrotta and Ann Patchett. These writers all derive considerable income from Amazon’s book sales. But when the responses to my query started coming in it was clear Amazon’s program would find no defenders in our ranks. “Scorched-earth capitalism” is how Dennis described it…Stephen wrote “I love my Kindle” and noted that Amazon had done well by him in terms of book sales. But he too saw the new strategy as both “invasive and unfair.”…it quickly became clear that the real source of our collective dismay was actually gratitude, not ingratitude. On my first book tour I was invited to Barbara’s Bookstore in Chicago. The employees optimistically set up seven folding chairs, then occupied those chairs themselves when nobody showed up for the reading…As the owner of a new independent bookstore in Nashville, Ann may have more to lose than the rest of us, so I found her calm, resigned response particularly interesting. “There is no point in fighting them or explaining to them that we should be able to coexist civilly in the marketplace,” she wrote me. “I don’t think they care. I do think it’s worthwhile explaining to customers that the lowest price point does not always represent the best deal…Tom agreed: “People have to understand that their short-term decision to save a couple bucks undermines their long-term interest in their community and vital, real-life literary culture…”

19. Two Doctor Who episodes recovered! http://www.doctorwhonews.net/2011/12/dwn111211160008-two-doctor-who-episodes.htmlThe BBC revealed today that two complete episodes of Doctor Who have been returned to the BBC Archives. Firstly, the complete third episode of the William Hartnell story Galaxy 4, Air Lock has been recovered - prior to this only a short segment from the first episode remained in the archive with no telesnaps taken to show how the third episode and its characters would have looked. Secondly, the complete second episode of Patrick Troughton's third story The Underwater Menace has also been recovered - making this the earliest complete episode for the Second Doctor to now exist in the Archives…Both episodes were found via former TVS engineer Terry Burnett, who bought them at a school fête in Marchwood, Southampton back in the 1980s!...Both episodes were shown this afternoon at the British Film Institute's Missing Believed Wiped event - the first time they've been seen in the United Kingdom since their original transmission…”

Economy and Technology

20. Obama Administration Announces $2 Billion in Resources to Support Job-Creating Startups http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/12/08/we-can-t-wait-obama-administration-announces-2-billion-resources-supportToday, the White House announced administrative and private sector actions that will help entrepreneurs grow their businesses and create jobs by increasing their access to capital and resources. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is moving forward with launching a $1 billion Early Stage Innovation Fund, originally announced as part of Startup America, which will provide matching capital to Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs), targeting early-stage small businesses seeking private institutional capital. Today, the White House is also hosting the first board meeting of the Startup America Partnership, where board members will announce commitments from more than 50 private-sector partners to deliver over $1 billion in value – from free software to free consulting and legal services – to 100,000 startups over the next three years. The President also renewed his call for Congress to work on a bipartisan basis to develop ideas from his American Jobs Act plan that will help our small and growing businesses access capital while continuing to protect investors. Specifically, the President has called for increasing limits on “miniofferings,” allowing “crowdfunding,” and phasing in some requirements for small firms as they go public…”

Open Source Hardware

21. New Modular Open Source Hardware From Tinkerforge http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/09/step-aside-arduino-tinkerforge-is-the-new-sheriff-in-mod-town/ “…Perhaps what you need is the new open-source gear from TinkerForge. The modular system is designed for even novice users to whip up fully functioning robots in a matter of minutes hours. You start with a 4 x 4cm Brick, which you program over USB, but it won't do anything until you add accessories in the form of Bricklets: switches, joysticks, motors, accelerometers and LCDs. You can stack up to eight Bricks to expand the potential of your projects, including a step-down transformer and a (forthcoming) WiFi unit. If the rules-based programming software is too easy for you, the hardcore can bust out their mad C, C++, C#, Java and Python skills. The first models are available today, Bricks cost between €30 ($40) - €50 ($70) and Bricklets cost €3 ($4) - €20 ($25). Head on past the break to catch the press release and a video of some of the brilliant ways you can use this technology, including an infra-red theremin, self-positioning telescope and robots…”

22. PreenFM, Open Source Hardware Synth http://createdigitalmusic.com/2011/12/preenfm-open-source-hardware-synth-behind-the-scenes-with-the-creator/First revealed last month, PreenFM is an open source hardware synth…it’s an FM synth, with…up to six-operator FM synthesis with some nine algorithms, up to 4-voice polyphony (depending on algorithm), glide, selectable LFOs, modulation matrix, and preset banks with SysEx support. It’s all usable via a display and MIDI support. It’s also fully open source hardware…PreenFM is free for use under the GPLv3 and Creative Commons. And it’s got a unique platform under the hood: the open source LeafLabs 32-bit development platform gives this some serious horsepower. It’s very much in contrast to the ultra-inexpensive 8-bit brain of our own MeeBlip synth; think of the MeeBlip as an exercise in what you can do with a little two-stroke engine versus the V8 muscle in this…I got creator Xavier Hosxe to tell us more of the gory details and share some sounds…”

23. Open source electric spinning wheel http://opensourcetextiles.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/an-electric-spinning-wheel-that-you-can-build-at-home/It’s all very well to talk about the wonders of open source technology, but it doesn’t mean much without some real examples. That’s why I’m so excited to tell you all about Maurice Ribble’s open source electric spinning wheel, called the “Electric Eel Wheel”. The Electric Eel is a hand spinning wheel with an electric motor. It operates much like a regular saxony spinning wheel, with a belt driven flyer and a scotch tension system to slow down the bobbin, except that rather than treadling it with your feet to provide the power, you simply set the dial on the front to the speed you like. There are a number of companies providing (non open-source) electric spinning wheels. Cost is generally fairly high compared to a manual wheel. For example, the Ashford e-spinner is around US$900, and the Roberta Electronic is around US$1,2000. These are all fair prices for a machine made for sale, but with a bit of DIY spirit, you can now make yourself one for much less…”

Open Source

24. HP open-sources WebOS http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/hp-open-sources-webos-but-will-anyone-develop-for-it/9993 “…Today, HP announced that webOS would live on as an open-source project. In addition, Enyo, its application framework, is also being open-sourced…According to HP, the company will “continue to be active in the development and support of webOS. By combining the innovative webOS platform with the development power of the open source community, there is the opportunity to significantly improve applications and web services for the next generation of devices.”…president and CEO, Meg Whitman, said, “WebOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable. By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices.” HP also stated that it will engage the open source community to help define the charter of the open-source project…”

25. Ingenuitas Puts Open-Source Software to Work in Manufacturing http://www.xconomy.com/detroit/2011/12/06/ingenuitas-puts-open-source-software-to-work-in-manufacturing/ “…Ingenuitas was a legal term for those who had been born free, and the word served to distinguish those who had enjoyed freedom since birth from freemen who started out in slavery. Nathan Oostendorp, Katherine Scott, and Anthony Oliver chose Ingenuitas as the name of their startup tech company because the “born free” ethos is a clever nod to their mission to revolutionize the manufacturing sector through open-source software. Launched in April, Ann Arbor-based Ingenuitas was created with the goal of bringing the technology used on factory floors into the post-Internet age. “There’s a big deficiency in smarts when it comes to the computers used in manufacturing,” says Oostendorp, who was a co-founder of Slashdot.org and director of SourceForge.net prior to starting Ingenuitas. “The computers used on the line are based on technology that’s 20 to 30 years old.” What Katherine Scott, Ingenuitas’ director of R&D, wants to eliminate are the inefficiences in the current system of checking for product defects as they roll off the assembly line. “Right now, a person stares at the assembly line all day. That’s not only expensive, it’s a very monotonous job that leads to high turnover,” Scott says. What Ingenuitas has developed is software called Simple CV, which uses a Python interface to open-source vision libraries to give users access to algorithms in feature detection, filtering, and pattern recognition. It’s supposed to enable camera-equipped computers to take over line-inspection duties…”

Civilian Aerospace

26. Armadillo Aerospace launches commercial rocket from New Mexico spaceport http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2011/12/armadillo-aerospace-rocket-video.htmlCommercial space venture Armadillo Aerospace announced a successful launch of a sleek-sounding rocket from the nation's first commercial spaceport in New Mexico. On Sunday, the Mesquite, Texas-based start-up blasted its STIG A rocket to an altitude of 124,000 feet above Spaceport America in Las Cruces, N.M…An on-board camera gives you the opportunity to take a virtual trip to sub-orbit…"This successful test of our STIG A reusable suborbital rocket technology represents major progress for the Armadillo Aerospace flight test program," Neil Milburn, company vice president of program management, said in a statement. "The flight successfully demonstrated many of the technologies that we need for our manned suborbital program." The rocket carried a scientific experiment meant to study the liquid and gas flow process, which is sensitive to the gravity and acceleration levels encountered during spaceflight. It was designed by team of undergraduate students at Purdue University…”

27. NVIDIA Goes to the Moon with CUDA and Tegra 3 http://vr-zone.com/articles/nvidia-goes-to-the-moon-with-cuda-and-tegra-3/14146.html “…A privateer team called Synergy Moon is getting ready for their entrance for the Google Lunar X-Prize challenge, a $30 million competition of privateer teams who are working on launching a rocket into space putting human crew in an orbiter around Earth. This is followed by a sending a rover to land on the Moon. In order to develop the lunar rover, Team Synergy Moon was joined by Martin Peniak, young scientist famous for his work on the Mars Rover Simulator developed in conjunction with ESA (European Space Agency). Impressed with an article about neural network using NVIDIA's GPU acceleration, Martin selected CUDA to be the base of all future work. One of his projects is the Tesla Lunar Rover and Tesla Surveyor, both of which are going to utilize multiple Tegra systems…Currently, the launch is scheduled for December of next year, consisted out of Earth orbiter inhabited by astronauts such as team leader Mr. Miroslav Ambrus-Kis and documentary producer Nebojsa Stanojevic, while the autonomous Lander packing several Lunar Rover will be launched from the orbiter to the moon, where it will utilize Martin's patterns running on NVIDIA Tegra 3 hardware…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

28. Exascale: an innovator’s dilemma http://blogs.nvidia.com/2011/11/exascale-an-innovator%E2%80%99s-dilemma/NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang gave an electrifying opening keynote today at SC11, the annual gathering of the international supercomputing community, as it gears up for the industry’s next grand challenge: exascale computing…Disruptive technologies are typically cheaper, less advanced and spring from low-margin markets. By their nature, they fly in the face of the forces that govern large, established companies. And yet history is on their side. The steady progression of the computing industry – from mainframes to mini computers to workstations to PCs to today’s mobile devices – can be read as successive waves of disruptive innovation…For much of the past two decades, computer scientists were able to steadily improve the supercomputer performance by scaling out ever-larger CPU-powered systems. However, Huang argued that this approach has hit a wall. Due to the energy required to power them, it’s no longer practical to scale out CPU-only systems…”

29. AutoForm Solver GPU Version Up To 2.5X Faster http://www.tenlinks.com/news/PR/autoform/120811_gpu_version.htmAutoForm Engineering GmbH, the leading supplier of software solutions for the sheet metal forming industry, has successfully developed a GPU version of the AutoForm solver. This version focuses on superior speed performance and enables users to take advantage of high speed-up factors of up to 2.5. The speed improvement is achieved without compromising the accuracy of the results. The new AutoForm GPU version enables users who run AutoFormplus R3 on today’s Windows PC generation to reach a new level of speed. An Nvidia graphic card with CUDA-support and 3GB memory is the only prerequisite for users to then simulate various types of stamping parts much faster. Speed-up factors of up to 2.5 are reached by using the unique AutoForm bending enhanced membrane element (BE-M). Speed is particularly important during feasibility assessment and process engineering when the focus lies on splits and wrinkles of the stamped part. Dr. Markus Thomma, Corporate Marketing Director of AutoForm Engineering, stated: “We are pleased to present our GPU version of the AutoForm solver. By simply making a small investment in a single Nvidia graphic card, users can reach a new level of speed. The GPU version enables users who are dedicated to the initial phases of process development to run more process design alternatives and to accelerate their engineering cycle…”


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