2012/01/31

NEW NET Weekly List for 31 Jan 2012

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 31 January 2012, NEW NET (NorthEast Wisconsin Network for Entrepreneurism and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 PM weekly gathering at Sergio's Restaurant, 2639 South Oneida Street, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net
1.        Twitter Bots Create Surprising New Social Connections  http://www.technologyreview.com/web/39497/  “You might have encountered a "Twitter bot" before: an automated program that perhaps retweeted something you wrote because it had particular keywords. Or maybe you received a message from an unfamiliar, seemingly human-controlled account, only to click on an accompanying link and realize you'd been fooled by a spambot…a group of freelance Web researchers has created more sophisticated Twitter bots, dubbed "socialbots," that can not only fool people into thinking they are real people, but also serve as virtual social connectors, speeding up the natural rate of human-to-human communication…The Web Ecology Project set up an experiment in which teams of researchers competed to gain the most Twitter @replies. Since there was no rule against automating the process, a few teams quickly realized they could compete better by using bots…the group tracked 2,700 Twitter users, divided into randomly assigned "target groups" of 300, over 54 days. The first 33 days served as a control period, during which no socialbots were deployed. Then, during the 21-day experimental period, nine bots were activated, one for each target group…On average, each bot attracted 62 new followers and received 33 incoming tweets (mentions and retweets). But Hwang and his colleagues also found that the human-to-human activity changed within the target groups when the socialbots were introduced…”
2.       SocialFolders Teams Up With Evernote to Bring You 'Social Memory'  http://venturebeat.com/2012/01/31/socialfolders/  “…we often have files and bits of data that live exclusively on a server far away from our hard drives. And while that’s often really awesome, sometimes you want and need a backup of that information on your computer. Enter SocialFolders, a service that backs up your social and cloud data to your hard drive. “SocialFolders was basically created to help people manage their content on social networks and cloud services and allow everyone to actually own that content,”…SocialFolders is an app for Windows and Mac that syncs with Twitter, Facebook, Google Docs, Instagram, and as of Tuesday, Evernote. With SocialFolders, you choose which services you want to connect with and a corresponding folder for each service will appear in your file system, Dropbox-style. When you upload a new picture to Facebook or create a new Google Doc, the new file will automatically sync with your SocialFolders app on your hard drive. Starting Tuesday, you can add documents, images, and other files to Evernote with SocialFolders…”
3.       What It's Like When Google Comes to Your House for a Presidential Chat  http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/01/what-its-like-when-google-comes-to-your-house-for-a-presidential-chat/252281/  “The White House last night held the first-ever presidential "hangout," the latest in a line of administration experiments with social technologies, this time with Google's newish multi-camera live streaming Google+ platform. There was, as it turns out, a breakout star: one Jennifer Wedel, a 29 year-old mother of two and State Farm employee from Fort Worth, Texas, selected to participate on the basis of a video question she submitted on H1B visas. What was so eye and ear catching about her exchange with President Obama was her willingness to inject a little bit of her own reality into the presidential bubble…Wedel opened by raising the issue of her husband, a 40 year-old semiconductor engineer who, after seven years or so at Texas Instruments, lost his job three years ago and has been unemployed since. "My question for you," said Wedel to Obama, "is why does the government continue to issue and extend H1B visas when there are tons of Americans just like my husband with no job?" Obama began his response, and it quickly became clear that a long, Obamesque answer was in the offing…"I understand that...," interjected Wedel. "And so...," continued Obama. "But," said Wedel. "Yeah...," said Obama, who then gestured for Wedel to continue…"Why," she asked, "do you think the H1B program is so popular with big corporations?" Obama, though, preferred to focus on why what he's hearing from said corporations wasn't matching Wedel's stated experience. "It is interesting to me...," he began, and then switched approaches. "I meant what I said. If you send me your husband's resume, I'd be interested in finding out exactly what's happening right there…that kind of engineer, should be able to find something, ah, right away." He asked again for her husband's resume, and Wedel assured the president that she'd be taking him up on the offer…How did Wedel come to be in a digital room with the president of the United States in the first place? She's active on YouTube, she explained, "and I saw that little red telephone," an icon the company put up last week to collect questions. "I though, 'what the heck is that?' I clicked on it…last Friday, after work, she said, she got a call from a contact at Google…"I talked to them on Friday, and they were in my house Sunday. I basically had Saturday to clean." She points to her two children. "When I told them that Google was coming to our house, my 7 year-old was like, 'Google has people?'…Part of the company's tasks: explaining to participants just what the heck they were engaging in. Google sent a rep from Austin to her home, said Wedel, as well as a technician from Canada, equipped with just a few monitors and "a tiny webcam like you can buy at Walmart." Few of the chosen questioners knew what a Google+ hangout was, said Wedel, and Sunday featured a crash course in the tool as well as a dry run of the event, sans White House participation. The video "hangout" was new to Wedel, she said, but she liked it immediately. "Seeing their smiles, I could feel their energy, even though they weren't in the room. You can't see emotion in text, but there was something different about this. That's when I thought, this is going to be cool…” [cool way for her husband to get a new job – ed.]
4.       'Super Wi-Fi' Blankets First County in U.S.  http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/27531/  “New Hanover County, North Carolina, just rolled out Super Wi-Fi…a new Wi-Fi standard operating in the 'white spaces' between 50-700Mhz, where previously only television stations were allowed to transmit."…This could mean super fast wireless connections for the county's residents, and also the potential to connect to Wi-Fi towers that are miles distant—something that is impossible with conventional Wi-Fi, mostly because the power of normal Wi-Fi transmitters are limited by the FCC…There's a bunch more in the release about how Super Wi-Fi is the greatest thing since penicillin, but I have to temper the hype a bit by referring to an earlier piece in Tech Review by Scott Woolley that notes that Super Wi-Fi can't really live up to its full potential, at least as a medium for long distance connectivity. Under government rules designed to protect local TV stations from harmful interference, high-power Super Wi-Fi signals (up to four watts), which can travel for miles, must give TV channels a wide berth. Low-power Super Wi-Fi signals (less than 40 milliwatts) face fewer restrictions. The result is that while there are 48 channels potentially available for long-range Super Wi-Fi, zero or one channel will be available for long-range use in the places most Americans live…”
Gigabit Internet
5.        Israel plans fiber-based national broadband network  http://www.electronista.com/articles/12/01/27/israel.joins.australia.with.national.fiber/    “Israel has followed Australian footsteps in planning its own national broadband network. The country's Israel Electric Corporation plans a purely fiber-based network that will supply many of the country's homes with at least 100Mbps speeds. They picked fiber with the intention to scale and could theoretically hit 1Gbps in time…As with the Australian buildout, the goal is to catch up to and eventually leapfrog countries with some of the fastest Internet access available…it could eclipse the US and other countries where sparser populations and corporate resistance to public deployments can keep the average speed down. Israel does have a vested interest in courting American companies by promising high speed Internet access to local workers. Intel, Microsoft, and now Apple consider Israel their Eastern technology center…”
6.       Three teams win in KC Google Gigabit Challenge  http://www.kansascity.com/2012/01/18/3378753/three-teams-ideas-earn-prizes.html  “…One team handed out T-shirts and fired Nerf guns at a prop. Some strolled back and forth while others anchored themselves to a lectern. Somebody opened with shaky video of his daughter hitting the buzzer beater that clinched a 13-11 basketball game. All came to a library auditorium Wednesday with dreams transformed to plans translated into pitches…The Gigabit Challenge was born out of news that broke last spring that Google Inc. had picked Kansas City as the place to build an ultra-fast Internet network…That inspired a local business start-up incubator, Think Big Partners, to corral prizes it values in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to turbo-charge a few entrepreneurs who see Google’s project as a chance to make something big…Perhaps the most polished pitch came from a pair of high school seniors from Johnson County, Jaspreet Singh and Andrew Ying of Blue Valley’s Center for Advanced Professional Studies. They made a convincing argument about using the fat data pipe of Google’s coming fiberoptic lines to stream video in a cable-like service at a better price. Their yet-developed product, Hong, would note programs individual viewers watch to gauge their interests and then target ads accordingly…“It’s a Pandora-like model,” Ying said in reference to ad-supported music streaming service, “for TV.”…Grand prize went to Sein Analytics & Asset Management…with a better way for small- to medium-sized financial institutions to sort the wheat from the chaff of asset-backed securities such as default credit swaps. One of the judges quizzed them on why their plan needed Google-speed Internet to work, and even after their victory they didn’t have much of an answer. In fact, they’ve been developing the business for two-plus years…The contest’s “Born Global” prize was landed by Kauzu, a budding online job site aimed at younger workers that plays off location technology to make nearby opportunities more obvious…A “People’s Choice” award drawn from online voting Wednesday from people watching the pitches in 41 countries went to Paruzia Technologies. The business hopes to provide storage, backup and support services remotely using Internet connections…” [so much for using gigabit speed to improve the KC economy; two of the three Gigabit Challenge contest winners aren’t even located in KC, and the grand prize winner doesn’t even need gigabit internet for their venture… - ed.]
Security, Privacy & Digital Controls
7.        Symantec advises disabling pcAnywhere software  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16740153  “Security firm Symantec has warned customers to stop using its pcAnywhere software. The company confirmed that "old" source code stolen by a hacking group had exposed vulnerabilities in the remote access program…In its website note, the company said it recommended "disabling the product until Symantec releases a final set of software updates that resolve currently known vulnerability risks"…It said the vulnerability left pcAnywhere users exposed to "man in the middle" attacks - a security hole which puts data at risk of being intercepted…It suggested that corporate customers who used pcAnywhere for business-critical activity should "understand the current risks" and "apply all relevant patches as they are released, and follow the general security best practices…”
8.       Senator Rand Paul: TSA’s intrusions undermine security  http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jan/23/tsas-intrusions-undermine-security/  “Today, while en route to Washington to speak to hundreds of thousands of people at the March for Life, I was detained by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for not agreeing to a patdown after an irregularity was found in my full body scan. Despite removing my belt, glasses, wallet and shoes, the scanner and TSA also wanted my dignity. I refused…I requested to be rescanned. They refused and detained me in a 10-foot-by-10-foot area reserved for potential terrorists…My detention was real and I was repeatedly instructed not to leave the holding area. When I used my phone to inform my office that I would miss my flight, and thus miss my speech to the March for Life, I was told that now I would be subjected to a full body patdown. I asked if I could simply restart the screening process to show that the machine had made an error. I was denied and informed that since I used my phone, to call for help, I must now submit or not fly…While sitting in the cubicle, I thought to myself, have the terrorists won? Have we sacrificed our liberty and our dignity for security? Finally, the airport head of TSA arrived after I had missed my flight. He let me go back through the scanner and this time the scanner did not go off. The only comment from TSA was that some of the alarms are simply random…a 6-year-old girl from Bowling Green was subjected to an invasive search despite her parent’s objections. Mr. Pistole…replied that TSA concluded because a child in a market in Afghanistan exploded a bomb, all American children needed to be evaluated as potential threats…My office is being inundated with their stories of assault and harassment by TSA agents. This agency’s disregard for our civil liberties is something we are expected to understand and accept…It is time for us to question the effectiveness of TSA…” [three cynical comments on this article: (1) how come Rand Paul (and other members of the US Senate and Congress) only speak out when TSA or other ‘bad’ legislation or regulations cause them personal inconvenience or problems, (2) Senator Paul was only allowed to go through the scanner again because the top TSA person at the airport didn’t want to get in trouble with a senator (Joe Citizen would have been arrested or at least refused permission to go through scanner again or to fly that day and would be put on the TSA list of ‘bad flyers’), and (3) it’s extremely unlikely that Senator Paul will pursue this issue until significant improvements are made – most TSA agents would give him special treatment because he’s a senator, so he’s unlikely to have future problems with TSA. – ed.]
9.       When college applicants plagiarize, Turnitin can spot them  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-plagiarism-20120129,0,2954802.story  “The student's admissions essay for Boston University's MBA program was about persevering in the business world. "I have worked for organizations in which the culture has been open and nurturing, and for others that have been elitist. In the latter case, arrogance becomes pervasive, straining external partnerships." Another applicant's essay for UCLA's Anderson School of Management was about his father. He "worked for organizations in which the culture has been open and nurturing, and for others that have been elitist. In the latter case, arrogance becomes pervasive, straining external partnerships." Sound familiar? The Boston University student's essay was written in 2003 and had been posted at businessweek.com. The UCLA applicant was rejected this year — for plagiarism. The detection of such wholesale cheating in college applications is on the rise due to the use of Turnitin for Admissions, an anti-plagiarism database service that compares student essays to an immense archive of other writings…"The more we can nip unethical behavior in the bud, the better," said Andrew Ainslie, a senior associate dean at UCLA Anderson…In the school's first review of essays from potential MBA candidates this year, Turnitin found significant plagiarism — beyond borrowing a phrase here and there — in a dozen of the 870 applications, Ainslie said. All 12 were rejected. Turnitin — as in, "turn it in" — began in the 1990s and became a popular tool at high schools and colleges to help detect copying in academic term papers and research by scanning for similarities in phrases from among billions of Web pages, books and periodicals…”
Mobile Computing & Communicating
10.     Obama and Romney campaigns use Square for fundraising  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2012/01/obama-and-romney-campaigns-use-square-for-fundraising.html  “Barack Obama's use of social media is credited with helping him reach out to voters in a groundbreaking way that helped him win the 2008 presidential race. In 2012, the Obama campaign is eying a new way to reach voters and donors too -- Square. The president's reelection campaign…is outfitting its staff across the U.S. with the small plastic smartphone credit card readers and mobile payment apps from Square, the San Francisco start-up run by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. But just as the Obama campaign isn't alone in its embracing of social media this year, it too isn't alone in deploying Square for easier, faster fundraising on the campaign trail. On Tuesday, Republican Mitt Romney's campaign announced it too would be using Square for fundraising in Florida…”
11.      Droid Razr Maxx Boasts Best Android Smartphone Battery  http://www.engadget.com/2012/01/31/motorola-droid-razr-maxx-review/  “…Enter the Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx. A mere two months after its predecessor was released on Verizon, this new contender came around to challenge the battery life of every single next-gen phone we've ever used. Its back end has been filled out somewhat to make room for a bigger battery, but at 8.99mm, it's still slimmer than a huge number of competing handsets on the market today. So what makes the Maxx different from the RAZR? Is it worth paying $300 with a two-year commitment -- a $100 premium over its original?...Power users who need to have the longest lifetime possible will have no choice but to pick it…At its worst, it's an original RAZR with a $100 extended battery pack attached. At its best, however, the Maxx is proof to every phone manufacturer that it really is possible to make a slender (and absolutely stunning) device that can actually survive more than a full days' worth of heavy use…”
12.     The Smartphone Has Become an Essential Shopping Tool  http://www.pcworld.com/article/249064/the_smartphone_has_become_an_essential_shopping_tool.html  “…over half of U.S. adult cell phone owners used their handsets for shopping assistance while in stores during the 2011 holiday season…A quarter of cell owners used their phones while inside a store to go online and find product reviews. And a quarter of adult cell users went online to see if they could find a better price for a product they were considering buying…Mobile devices are rapidly becoming essential shopping tools, and more smartphone- and tablet-toting consumers will soon insist that physical stores match or beat the prices of their online competitors…The bad news for retailers: Mobile devices are here to stay, and price-matching is only going to get more popular.”
13.     Marko Ahtisaari: smartphone evolution is only just beginning  http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/jan/31/ahtisaari-nokia-lumia-design  “…Nokia's problem is that it's struggling to keep pace in the smartphone market as first the iPhone and then Android phones such as Samsung's models have eaten into the top-end market, while cheap low-end versions have attacked the Symbian market…Nokia's response, to ally itself with Microsoft and adopt Windows Phone for the interface, has been described…as a Hail Mary pass – an American football phrase for staking everything on one attempt…So what, I asked, could Nokia bring to the smartphone table now? "There's a point of view about design that all innovation in the interaction with the phone has been done," Ahtisaari says. "Nothing could be further from the truth. The phase we're in now is like the 1880s in the car industry. Back then, cars had tillers…It took 15 years to settle on the steering wheel at the front controlling the front wheels. And we're in the middle of that part of the evolution of interaction."…"Look at iOS. Multiple pages of apps, and folder, with a physical home key. It's very elegant; it was a great innovation five years ago. But the core interaction hasn't evolved much. It's simple but constant…Our aim was to start and make the most beautiful phone, where we took away every unnecessary element. In the N8, we had the extruded form. And looked to rapidly evolve it, with better materials…Will the next design perhaps omit the popup USB cover – the one design oddity and only moving part in the phone? "Definitely, if you can take away a moving part and make it more beautiful in the placement of the component, we'll do it, so that's something where we can certianly keep improving. Take it to the extreme," he adds, "why are there any connectors?"…It's a thought. With open NFC, and wireless charging, you wouldn't need any connectors – either for power or sound. It's quite an aim…”
Apps
14.     Google Launches Official G+ Page For Android Developers  http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/01/android-developer-hangouts/  “If you want a high number of quality apps in your app store, you better make sure your developers have all the tools and knowledge to do the job. Google has recognized this, and is taking extra steps to provide tips, services and even instruction to Android developers in order to promote the Android Market as a hub for plentiful, high-quality apps. The latest effort in this push…is the addition of a Google+ Android Developer Page, +AndroidDeveloper…a hub for development tips, as well as a place to talk about updates to the Android SDK and other developer tools…One of the most useful features of the new developer page could be the introduction of weekly “office hours” via the Hangouts tool in Google+. Developers will be able to ask questions of the various Android teams, and delve deep into discussion with other coders…”
15.     Rypple, hot off Salesforce acquisition, launches Android app for social management on-the-go  http://venturebeat.com/2012/01/31/rypple-android-app-salesforce-social-hcm/  “…social performance management service Rypple has launched a native Android app to make sure managers and employees can connect no matter where they are. Rypple’s software helps managers improve employee performance through “social goals” and consistent feedback and recognition. It’s in an increasingly competitive market for cloud-based human resource management services. Leading competitors include SuccessFactors…Workday, Taleo, Ultimate Software, and Cornerstone OnDemand…The key features of the Android app include public recognition for colleague praise, real-time feedback and social goals for tracking priorities. “The best feedback often comes on the taxi ride back to the office after an important meeting,” Rypple co-founder and co-CEO Daniel Debow told VentureBeat via e-mail. “Rypple’s investment in an Android app lets our users stay aligned with key priorities, get real-time updates, and recognize great work — away from the office…”
16.     Salesforce.com Launches New Social, Mobile Customer Service Platform  http://www.infoworld.com/d/applications/salesforcecom-launches-deskcom-help-desk-service-185359  “Salesforce.com today unveiled a new SaaS (software as a service) help-desk application called Desk.com that can reach users through social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Desk.com, which is based on Salesforce.com's recent acquisition of Assistly, can be deployed in a matter of days even by companies with no dedicated IT staffers, according to Salesforce.com…It's important to align help-desk software with social networks, given the sheer amount of time customers are spending on Facebook and other sites, according to Salesforce.com. Companies are also facing pressure dealing with the "new social, global, and mobile customer," given how easy it is for consumers to transmit their opinions about a product or service over the Internet to many people, Bard said. The Facebook and Twitter integrations are standard, and companies can tie their accounts on those social networks to Desk.com…”
SkyNet
17.     Google Earth 6.2: A Seamless Globe  http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2012/01/google-earth-62-its-beautiful-world.html  “…With Google Earth 6.2, we’re bringing you the most beautiful Google Earth yet, with more seamless imagery and a new search interface…The Google Earth globe is made from a mosaic of satellite and aerial photographs taken on different dates and under different lighting and weather conditions. Because of this variance, views of the Earth from high altitude can sometimes appear patchy. Today, we’re introducing a new way of rendering imagery that smoothes out this quilt of images. The end result is a beautiful new Earth-viewing experience that preserves the unique textures of the world’s most defining geographic landscapes—without the quilt effect. This change is being made on both mobile and desktop versions of Google Earth…”
18.     Google Music Now Lets You Download All Your Saved Music  http://lifehacker.com/5879732  “One of our biggest complaints about Google Music was that you couldn't re-download any songs you'd added to your online library. Google's now brought this feature for the web interface and the Music Manager app, so you can download your music—whether it's your entire library or just a few tracks—with the click of a button. This works for purchased music and songs you've uploaded yourself, though you can only download purchased tracks two times from the web interface. To do it, just click the triangle next to a song or group of songs and choose "Download Selected Songs". If you want to download your whole library, open up the Music Manager app for Windows, OS X, or Linux, go to the Download tab, and click "Export Your Library"…”
19.     Google Reincarnates Dead Paper Mill as Data Center of Future  http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/01/google-finland/  “Joe Kava found himself on the southern coast of Finland, sending robotic cameras down an underground tunnel that stretched into the Baltic Sea. It’s not quite what he expected when he joined Google to run its data centers. In February of 2009, Google paid about $52 million for an abandoned paper mill in Hamina, Finland, after deciding that the 56-year-old building was the ideal place to build one of the massive computing facilities that serve up its myriad online services. Part of the appeal was that the Hamina mill included an underground tunnel once used to pull water from the Gulf of Finland. Originally, that frigid Baltic water cooled a steam generation plant at the mill, but Google saw it as a way to cool its servers…As it turns out, all 450 meters of the tunnel were in excellent condition, and by May 2010, it was moving sea water to heat exchangers inside Google’s new data center, helping to cool down thousands of machines juggling web traffic. Thanks in part to that granite tunnel, Google can run its Hamina facility without the energy-sapping electric chillers found in the average data center…”
20.    How to prevent Google from tracking you  http://howto.cnet.com/how-to-prevent-google-from-tracking-you/8301-11310_39-57368016-285.html  “Much has been made of Google's new privacy policy, which takes effect March 1. If you're concerned about Google misusing your personal information or sharing too much of it with advertisers and others, there are plenty of ways to thwart Web trackers…You don't become anonymous when you block tracking cookies, Web beacons, and the other identifiers as you browse. Your ISP and the sites you visit still know a lot about you, courtesy of the identifying information served up automatically by your browser. The Electronic Frontier Foundation offers the Panopticlick service that rates the anonymity of your browser. The test shows you the identifiable information provided by your browser and generates a numerical rating…According the the entropy theory explained by Peter Eckersley on the EFF's DeepLinks blog, 33 bits of entropy are sufficient to identify a person…knowing a person's birth date and month (not year) and ZIP code gives you 32 bits of entropy. Also knowing the person's gender (50/50, so one bit of entropy) gets you to the identifiable threshold of 33 bits…Prominent in the Google privacy policy are links to services that let you view and manage the information you share with Google…To view everything (almost) Google knows about you, open the Google Dashboard. Here you can access all the services associated with your Google account: Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, Picasa, Blogger, AdSense, and every other Google property. The dashboard also lets you manage your contacts, calendar, Google Groups, Web history, Google Voice account, and other services. More importantly, you can view and edit the personal information stored by each Google service, or delete the service altogether…Several free browser extensions help you identify and block the companies that are tracking you on the Web…While people are rightly concerned about who is watching and recording their Web activities, at least Google makes it possible to use the company's services without being too forthcoming with your personal information. ISPs and other Web services do as much tracking as Google--or more--but garner far fewer headlines…”
General Technology
21.     Printed Stickers Designed to Monitor Food Temperatures  http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/39553/  “A plastic temperature-recording sticker that could provide detailed histories of crates of food or bottles of vaccine would be the first to use all-printed electronics components—including memory, logic, and even the battery. The cost per sticker could be only 30 cents or less…There are lots of efforts in academia and research where they play with printing electronics…What's new is "somebody trying to do it commercially and figuring out what are the first things you can make with 10 or 20 bits of memory and a simple battery," he says. "We need a library of different building blocks that are made by the same standard manufacturing process to get this ecosystem working." The envisioned product will be designed to work either with a printed display or a contact readout, and include a battery that can last six to nine months, allowing the sticker to make a continuous record of temperature. Existing temperature sensor stickers that cost just pennies offer a crude measurement—using a chemical reaction to change color when they hit certain thresholds, alerting to possible spoilage…”
22.    Nearly 50% of businesses now issuing Macs, 27% support the iPad  http://venturebeat.com/2012/01/26/50-percent-businesses-issue-macs-research/  “…Forrester…reports that almost 50 percent of businesses in North America and Western Europe now issue Mac computers…Forrester’s new report…found that 46 percent of enterprises were issuing Macs to employees. Those employees receiving Macs tend to be “senior in rank, higher paid, younger, and in emerging markets,” and managers are much more likely to have Apple products than regular employees. Notably, only 36 percent of small businesses reported issuing Macs in 2011…Forrester says that 27 percent of companies are supporting the iPad…iPhone support is more common than iPad support, with 37 percent of businesses now supporting the iPhone. Support for the iPhone is projected to rise to 55 percent in 2012. Overall, Forrester believes Microsoft’s dominance in the enterprise is quickly coming to a close…”
23.    Apple introduces us to the Wild World of Coded Magnets  http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2012/01/apple-introduces-us-to-the-wild-world-of-coded-magnets.html  “Once in a while we're treated to a new Apple invention that virtually contains a new self-contained world of possibilities and vocabulary to enrich it…Today is such a day. This is such an invention. Apple's invention reveals a wild world of programmable magnetic devices, and more particularly, to security for computing devices and peripherals that may be provided by programmable magnets…Apple envisions this technology eventually working into iOS devices to produce wild haptic effects using Ferrofluids on touchscreens and virtual keyboards. It will also allow Apple's iOS to present light based points on the display as a way to guide a user through a process like a teacher…In my view, this is what I call a foundational patent. It's a wide overview of a new technology front being opened that will later on be broken down and defined in other single vision patents using this technology. In fact, a single vision patent has already rolled out. In December 2011…a report titled "The iPad's Smart Cover Patent has insightfully come to Light."…pointed to how Apple has placed a magnet under the iPad's display that works in conjunction with a magnet in the actual iPad cover. This is how the iPad is put into hybernation and later awakened when unfolding the iPad cover…This makes the programming of magnets discussed in this patent come to life. So the technology presented in Apple's latest patent application, isn't theoretical: it's a proven fact. The question now is: What will Apple do next?…”
Leisure & Entertainment
24.    4 Inspiring Examples of Digital Storytelling  http://mashable.com/2012/01/31/digital-storytelling/  “In 2011, Sundance Film Festival created The New Frontier Story Lab, an initiative created to foster the development of a new style of media production…The New Frontier Story Lab helped many an interactive narrative come to life. Each of these productions features multiple points of entry across platforms and employs technologies such as facial recognition, augmented reality, geo-location, motion sensors, data visualization and the entire toolset of social and mobile platforms…Bear 71 is a multi-user interactive social narrative that observes and records the intersection of humans, nature and technology…Participants explore and engage with the world of a female grizzly bear via animal role play, augmented reality, webcams, geolocation tracking, motion sensors, a microsite, social media channels and a real bear trap in Park City…Pandemic 1.0 is part film, part interactive game, part sociological experiment, and was one of the most talked-about experiences at Sundance 2011…a mysterious virus has begun to afflict adults in a rural town. The town’s young people soon find themselves cut off from civilization, fighting for their lives. People online work with people in the real world to unlock a variety of hidden clues. This transmedia storytelling experience unites film, mobile and online technologies, props, social gaming and data visualization, enabling audiences to step into the shoes of the pandemic protagonists…Part book, part film, part family photo album of a place that’s been lost in time, the National Film Board of Canada’s Welcome to Pine Point website explores the memories of residents from the former mining community of Pine Point, Northwest Territories…the online experience combines photographs, sound and video clips, interviews, music and narration by Simons to personally immerse the viewer in a multimedia world of memory and loss…Rome is a multiplatform interactive narrative experience inspired by the music of Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi…The result culminated into a feature film…which was adapted from the novel The Reapers are the Angels. The project integrated the use of webGL within the Chrome browser, creating a rich graphical interactive experience complete with elements of game play.”
25.    How Can I Release My Music Online So Music-Lovers Can Easily Find It?  http://lifehacker.com/5879943/how-can-i-release-my-music-online-so-music+lovers-can-easily-find-it  “…I'd like to release some music I've made, but…don't want to go through a record company. What are my options?...It's not hard to skip the record labels and sell and distribute music on your own. Let's start by taking a look at how you can skip the labels and get your music online before we move onto making sure music-lovers can find it…You have three different choices for charging for your music: free, pay-what-you-want, and a set price. Each has their own advantages and different services that work better…let's break down the best places to upload your music…If you're releasing your first set of songs, you might want to start by giving your music away for free…Soundcloud is the easiest to use free music upload service. It takes just a couple clicks to upload a song…If there's an equivalent to Myspace out there right now, it's Reverb Nation. Part social network and part personalized website, Reverb Nation allows you to put tracks online…If you're interested in the streaming services, Spotmeup is a free tool to submit your songs to Spotify and Pandora allows independent artists to submit songs…February 1 marks the start of the RPM Challenge, a contest where you're tasked with writing, recording, and releasing an album within the month of February (similar to how NaNoWriMo works for novels)…Bandcamp is free to use for musicians and allows you to set your price for your album or let people pay whatever they want…if you want to get your music onto the big stores like Google Music, Amazon, and iTunes, you have to go through a distribution service and pay a little money…the two most recommended services for this are TuneCore and CD Baby. For around $35-$40 both of these services will upload and sell your music on Amazon, iTunes, Beatport, Facebook, eMusic, and a host of other stores…If you're interested in selling music through Google Music you do so after paying a one-time $25 fee…”
26.    HBO Looking To Use New Technology For Boxing Matches  http://www.boxingscene.com/hbo-looking-use-new-technology-on-february-4th-card--49063  “HBO Sports…is seeking permission to use some new technology…For the past 3 years we have been working on wrist based sensor devices that would allow us to measure in real time the speed and force of punches thrown.  To date, the sensors have been approved and used in Nevada, California, New Jersey, Michigan, Foxwoods and Washington, D.C…The unit itself is 1” x 1” and is applied to the inside of the wrist, on top of the commission approved wraps and protected by the padding in the wrist of the glove.  The unit weighs 0.2 ounces…we’ve tested on hundreds of fighters at various gyms and amateur events…We believe we are on the verge of a very exciting technological breakthrough that could create much interest and entertainment for boxing fans…”
27.    The Sky Is Rising!  http://www.techdirt.com/skyisrising/  “For years now, the legacy entertainment industry has been predicting its own demise, claiming that the rise of technology, by enabling easy duplication and sharing -- and thus copyright infringement -- is destroying their bottom line…since creators and performers of artistic content existed long before the gatekeepers ever did, we've looked into the numbers to get an honest picture of the state of things…not only is the sky not falling, as some would have us believe, but it appears that we're living through an incredible period of abundance and opportunity, with more people producing more content and more money being made than ever before…”  [you’ve got to look at the infographic in this article to fully appreciate the situation described above in words – ed.]
Economy and Technology
28.    General Assembly Provides Entrepreneurial Skills To A Chosen Few  http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/161/general-assembly  “…This is General Assembly, founded in January 2011 in a 20,000-square-foot loft in New York…by four friends in their late twenties and early thirties as a campus for technology, design, and entrepreneurship…It's something new--augmented education, a stopgap for the startup economy. It's an intermediary that gives…exposure to the way business is done on the ground. The school focuses on technology and entrepreneurship, covering everything from fundraising to wireframing. Some classes are three-hour one-offs, others are weeklong workshops, and certificate programs…are 60-hour programs spread over several weeks…The teachers are practitioners…who focus on usable results…the glass-walled space hosts hackathons, meetups, happy hours, and two dozen startups…It creates a selective, aspirational network, mixing promising newbies and people who have already made it…It iterates and updates its offerings every few weeks, based on detailed student surveys. When its students said they wanted to study Android development, General Assembly ginned up a class two weeks later…This close-to-the-ground, customizable model has been a missing piece of the innovation ecosystem. Top universities can't always move fast enough to provide the technical and entrepreneurial skills needed in this new world…established institutions are partnering with General Assembly…GE…is sending more than 100 suits for a five-day session that will get them up to speed on emerging technology, design, and entrepreneurship…They will also expand online by recording classes and sessions and making class materials, like slide decks, available…each school in this emerging field will have to discover if the market is large enough for its ambitions…”
29.    FounderSoup: Stanford Startup Generator  http://techcrunch.com/2012/01/28/founder-soup/  “…a group of Stanford computer science and business students started the…FounderSoup program. It’s designed to give entrepreneurs with an idea or a fledgling company a chance to pitch — not to raise funding, but to recruit co-founders…I watched as 20 ideas were pitched, and 170 PhD, MBA, and undergraduate students mingled. What I saw was an effective model for fostering startups…Mike Dorsey tells me “As a CS student and an MBA, I would constantly get questions from entrepreneurs to connect them to people with coding skills. I’d also get all these coders with great products who needed business co-founders.”…At the Founder Soup pilot event, 4 teams discovered co-founders and 2 went on to receive funding…For Thursday, 50 founders submitted ideas and 20 were given the chance to pitch for 90 seconds each. Afterwards, each team was stationed around the Stanford d.school and approached by those interested in joining their team…Some startup-spawning universities are beginning to set up their own VC funds, accelerators, and incubators, like Harvard’s new Experiment Fund and Stanford’s StartX…More universities and cities should look to copy the FounderSoup model…” [although northeast Wisconsin doesn’t have a ‘startup-spawning’ university, it would be worth using the concept of FounderSoup to connect more potential startup cofounders in our region – ed.]
30.    Betaworks Returns All Capital  http://pandodaily.com/2012/01/28/that-was-fast-betaworks-returns-all-capital-and-then-some/  “…a lot of people are waiting for results that prove…New York is really a tech ecosystem that is here to stay…This letter to shareholders from Betaworks Founder and CEO John Borthwick is one of the first pieces of evidence I’ve seen that New York is for real…we have produced eight companies; among these, three have become category leading social tools, three were acquired, and two are just taking off. We raised $26 million from terrific investors. Our exits last year gave us the capital to return all invested capital…Those exits included…Twitterfeed…TweetDeck…and GroupMe…Interesting as those companies are, Betaworks as a startup itself is more fascinating to me. It’s not a fund, and it’s not an incubator. It’s a company that takes ideas and develops them in hyper-speed to become other companies that are put out into the world. It’s analogous to how a movie studio puts out films. In Borthwick’s words: “Betaworks is a platform that accelerates early-stage company building…it’ll get it’s fair share of critics from…people who decry companies that are built to flip…This studio model Borthwick describes has long been an alluring one…but no one has really proven it can work. For former entrepreneurs, it captures a lot of the fun part of starting new things and allows them to share their experience, but avoids the drudgery of operating and scaling…”
31.     Inside SAP's Skunkworks as It Takes Aim at Oracle  http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052970203430404577092651330963684-lMyQjAxMTAyMDIwNTEyNDUyWj.html  “…Now SAP's chairman, the 68-year-old engineer is trying to take advantage of cheaper memory chips in servers to speed up complex business calculations and allow companies to do in seconds what currently can take hours or days. The aim is to allow executives to quickly access and analyze business data even on hand-held devices…he hopes to revolutionize business computing again and put his main competitor, Oracle Corp., on the defensive. But if he fails, SAP could end up stagnating in an industry full of bigger and richer tech adversaries. Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison publicly derided Mr. Plattner's big bet as "whacko" in 2010 and said he wanted the name of SAP's "pharmacist."…For his bet, Mr. Plattner decided to do an end run around SAP's corporate research-and-development department with thousands of engineers. Instead, he recruited a bunch of university students in this small city outside Berlin. Working in a converted East German railway building dubbed "the villa," these T-shirt-clad 20-somethings built the prototype of Mr. Plattner's new product…”
DHMN Technology
32.    Why 3-D Printing Isn't Like Virtual Reality  http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/guest/27533/  “...Typography used to be heavy industry. The companies that make typefaces are still called foundries because there was a time when letters were made of metal…Today, fonts are a thing that you pick from a drop-down menu and printers are things in your home that can render just about any typeface you can imagine…Today, it's reasonable for most people to have a pile of paper and a printer that cost them next to nothing and for businesses to have stockrooms laden with the raw material of documents. Print shops have had to stay a step ahead, selling convenience, their ability to print nicer things on bigger formats, or the economics of scale…It's also important not to confuse 3-D printing & desktop-class fabrication…There is more to desktop manufacturing than 3-D printers. A well-appointed contemporary maker workshop has working CNC mills, lathes, and laser cutters…Aside from the 3-D printer, none of these tools are terribly science-fictional; they're well-established technologies that happen to be getting cheaper from year to year. Something interesting happens when the cost of tooling-up falls. There comes a point where your production runs are small enough that the economies of scale that justify container ships from China stop working. There comes a point where making new things isn't a capital investment but simply a marginal one. Fab shops are already popping up, just like print shops did.”
33.    Recon Instruments brings action camera viewing into your goggles  http://www.gizmag.com/recon-instruments-action-camera-goggles/21243/  “Skiers and snowboarders of the future are going to be pretty close to cyborgs. Over the years, we've seen such wearable electronics as heated clothing, cell phone-compatible ski gloves and camera-equipped goggles. We've also seen the Recon Instruments goggles, which use a small heads-up display so that you can view your speed, vertical and other ego-inflating (or deflating) stats…now we have a new upcoming technology that combines two existing ski electronics into one seamless system - machine is starting to take over. Recon Instruments and Contour announced a partnership that will turn Recon's goggle-mounted display into a viewfinder for Contour action cams…Contour + and ContourGPS cameras will sync with the MOD Live device via Bluetooth and turn it into a viewfinder. Skiers will be able to line up shots without ever removing their goggles. They'll also be able to view battery life and remaining storage space and control camera settings in real time. Future self-made action film stars beware, though: your footage will only be as good as your skiing, and if you're paying more attention to your in-goggle display than the ground ahead of you, it won't be pretty…Of course, the Recon + Contour technology won't come cheap, particularly if you don't own any of the necessary devices…”
34.    Does HP’s TopShot Printer really hit-the-mark?  http://www.daniweb.com/hardware-and-software/pc-hardware/usb-devices-and-other-peripherals/reviews/408041  “…HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275 is a multi-function printer like no other. The printer portion of the TopShot is much like the HP LaserJet Pro 100…What makes the TopShot different is the paper feeder and flatbed scanner on top has been replaced by a flat white platform, called the capture stage, and an arm that is positioned above the stage. On this arm there is a camera and 3 flashes. As the name suggests, it takes a picture of any 2D or 3D object you can fit onto the stage, under the arm. The end result is a mixed but, in the right environment could be a game changer for a business…Printing speed is about average for other laser printers at this price. Text comes in around 17 pages per minute, where as color was about 4 ppm. Granted, it’s not the fastest printer on the market the print quality is excellent…What makes the TopShot stand separate from the competition is obviously the scanning function. The camera used by the TopShot for all scans is an 8 megapixel CMOS image sensor. On all scans there are six images taken, three with ambient light and three using the three flashes one at a time. The 6 images are then merged together to create a 2D image. For 3D objects the scans come out clear and detailed. It is not as good as a high quality camera, but the resulting image has the feel of a professional image taken in a light box due to the pure white stage as a back drop. While the images are clear, their resolution isn’t all that impressive. At only 245 dpi any resizing of the image starts to show distortion…”
35.    Canadian teens send Legonaut 15 miles into atmosphere  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/26/canadian-teenagers-lego-man-space  “…Two Canadian teenagers have sent a Lego man into the outer reaches of the Earth's atmosphere using a home-stitched parachute and equipment found on Craigslist. Two weeks ago, Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad, both 17, attached the plastic figurine replete with maple leaf flag to a helium balloon, which they sent 80,000 feet into the air. The pair managed to capture the entire journey into the blackness of space, including the descent, which lasted 97 minutes, using four cameras, at an entire cost of just £254. Spending four months of Saturdays on the project, the teenagers launched the professionally made weather balloon from a football pitch. It then soared to more than double the height of a commercial jet's cruising altitude – some 24km into the upper atmosphere…”
36.    Why Apple Should Start Making a 3D Printer Right Now  http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/01/why-apple-should-start-making-a-3d-printer-right-now/252184/  “…The progression that computers made from IBM to your laptop has patterned the expectations for all future technologies. First, big companies create and use a very expensive set of technologies. Then, garage tinkerers start to use slightly cheaper, smaller versions of the original technology. They create a culture that makes the technology easier to use and they give it more users, which drives down its costs. Finally, when it is sufficiently cheap and easy to use, mass market consumers start to buy it…The latest technology that seems to be working its way along this trajectory is 3D printing. For those not in the MAKE crowd, 3D Printers are machines that produce three-dimensional objects from digital data by printing in thin layers of physical material, similar to the way an inkjet prints in two dimensions…After a couple decades of research, development, and industrial deployment, the technology appears to be on the threshold of developing a mass market. Still, it's hard to imagine what to do with such a general purpose machine sitting in one's house. And that's what makes Brendan Dawes such an interesting early adopter. For one, he's kept meticulous records of his productions since he bought his MakerBot Thing-O-Matic from Makerbot Industries, a company that sells stripped down do-it-yourself 3D printers directly to consumers, in December 2010. Over the past year he has posted his "printings" on a tumblr called everythingimakewithmymakerbot. The site reads like a diary or sketchbook; an intimate account of a creative person interacting with a new technology. But more to the point: Dawes seems like a normal, creative person. He's not a hardcore geek with an industrial engineering degree…I asked Dawes if the Makerbot had changed him; if it had altered his perspective in some unexpected way. "What's exciting to me is the opportunity to look at industrial design --a very difficult, very sophisticated craft-- with fresh eyes. I'm able to approach these problems from crazy angles, because I haven't spent twenty years immersed in the culture of industrial design…”
Open Source Hardware
37.    Interview of ColorHug maker, Richard Hughes  https://banu.com/blog/41/interview-of-colorhug-maker-richard-hughes/  “…The ColorHug is a colorimeter that can be used to calibrate computer displays. It was created by Richard Hughes (hughsie). It is a fully open hardware project, and the design, drivers and firmware are available on the Gitorious code hosting website. From the branches and commit logs it appears that others have taken an interest in its development too, and have begun to contribute to it…My name is Richard Hughes, and I'm a programmer in the desktop group at Red Hat…after my masters had finished I took a job at a large UK defence contractor. It was pretty much the opposite environment to open source, and as soon as Red Hat asked if wanted to hack on cool stuff full time I jumped at the chance…I'm hugely privileged to spend all day writing free software…When I bought a digital SLR camera, my wife paid for me to go on a course to learn how to use the camera properly. During this course I used OSX for the first time, and came to the realisation that the color stuff just worked…Color Management on Linux was in sorry state of affairs then, and I thought I could do something about that…A colorimeter is a device that attaches to the screen and measures the actual colors output by the computer…As LCD panels get older, they get yellow and dull, and even CRT monitors have phosphors that degrade over time. This means you have to calibrate every few months…The ColorHug is an open source colorimeter. It's designed from scratch, and every part is 100% open source…The device is a small USB peripheral that connects to the host computer and takes XYZ measurements of a specified accuracy…ColorHug has no battery and takes the few hundred milliamps it needs from the USB bus…The ColorHug is actually a PIC microcontroller that is interfaced with a TCS3200 light to frequency chip. The frequency is proportional to the amount of light, and so by enabling the red, green and blue photodiodes in the sensor we can combine these with a bit of clever maths into an XYZ color value…”  http://www.hughski.com/
38.    Top ten open source projects of 2011  http://blog.ponoko.com/2012/01/30/top-ten-open-source-projects-of-2011/  “…If it can be made, it can be open sourced. Here are our top ten articles about open source projects from 2011…#10 Second Generation Open Source Laser Cutter…#9 Arduino 1.0 programming environment and language released…#8 FabFi: community-built wireless network…#7 Comic-style introduction to Arduino…#6 Global Village Construction Set…#5 Open source hardware from Microsoft…#4 littleBits — educational open-source modular electronics…#3 FabScan open source 3D scanner…#2 WikiHouse – the open source house…#1 Doctor 3D prints a model of a bone for surgery preparation…” [not all of these are hardware, but they do directly relate to hardware – ed.]
39.    Ninja Blocks: Connect your world with the web  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ninja/ninja-blocks-connect-your-world-with-the-web  “…Want to bridge the things in your life with the web? Maybe you want to get an alert when your friends are playing on Xbox Live, or send an SMS to your phone when someone is at your front door. Even if you're an electronics expert, or a programming prodigy, these are complex, finicky projects. Ninja Blocks puts aside the complexity of electronics, networking, and coding and allows you to focus on creating…Ninja Blocks are simple but powerful open source hardware backed by an amazing web service called Ninja Cloud that allows your Ninja Block to talk to your favorite web apps. Each Ninja Block comes with an RGB LED and built-in temperature sensor and accelerometer. Four expansion ports and a regular USB port allow you to add further inputs and outputs…You can tell your Ninja to perform tasks like…Talk to Siri and turn on the light…Take a picture of your front yard and save it to Dropbox when movement is detected…Switch your lava lamp on whenever your friends are playing on Xbox Live…”
Open Source
40.    You Bought It, but Do You Own It?  http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=2164  “On February 10th, I’m sending a letter to the Library of Congress in support of granting exemptions to the DMCA for jailbreaking your own devices. If you believe that you should be able to run whatever programs you want on your own hardware, please sign my letter to show support…In 2002, I intercepted a key on the original Xbox that allowed me to encrypt and run my own software on the device…It was bewildering that running linux on this PC with the green X is illegal, yet running linux on this architecturally identical beige box next to it was legal…MIT sent letters to me officially repudiating involvement in my activities, fearing the worst. Fortunately, brave souls at the MIT AI lab stood up for me in defiance of the campus counsel, and provided me with resources and the connections to the EFF to negotiate with Microsoft and see a positive ending to the whole situation. I’m lucky. Not everyone has the encouragement, wisdom and strength of a team of MIT faculty and EFF counsel behind them.. many lawsuits have been filed under the DMCA, creating a tone of fear. Research projects are abandoned, business plans are scrapped…operators left with the will to research jailbreaks work in shadow, a constant fear of lawsuit haunting them for the mere practice of attempting to load their own software onto hardware that they legally own…I believe if you buy hardware, you should own it; and ownership means nothing less of full rights to do with it as you wish. If you believe in this too, please sign my letter to the Library of Congress…”
41.     HP publishes webOS Enyo framework under open source Apache license  http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2012/01/hp-publishes-webos-enyo-framework-under-open-source-apache-license.ars  “HP has published the code of Enyo, the underlying JavaScript framework of the webOS platform. It is available from a public repository on GitHub and is distributed as open source software under the permissive Apache license. The release of Enyo is the first step in HP's plan to completely open the webOS mobile platform. The webOS platform is built on top of Linux, but has a proprietary application stack that is made with HTML and JavaScript. HP obtained the platform in its 2010 acquisition of failing device manufacturer Palm. At the time, HP said it intended to ship the webOS software environment on a wide range of products, including tablets, printers, and desktop computers…”
Civilian Aerospace
42.    The Great Moonbuggy Race  http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/31/the-great-moonbuggy-race/  “…I am ecstatic this year because I have a team of high school students entered in NASA’s 19th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race. The Great Moonbuggy Race is an engineering competition that requires a team of six students to design a “proof-of-concept” wheeled rover that will race over a half mile of simulated lunar terrain. In April, two team members, one male and one female, will drive the completed vehicle in competition at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This contest will present design challenges that are similar to those encountered by the original lunar rover team. This is the 16th year of competition for high school teams, but it will be the first year for Chicago’s public high school students…Making the decision to enter a team in The Great Moonbuggy Race is important to me because I can give my students an after-school opportunity that engages them in engineering in a way that is fun, creative and exciting. It isn’t often my students get to see, let alone talk to, engineers…For some, this competition will give them unparalleled opportunity to reach a goal that is often elusive in a traditional classroom setting. This may be the first time many have left Chicago and for all of them, it will be the first time they will be up close and personal with NASA rockets…”
43.    Vega rocket aims to make space research affordable  http://www.nature.com/news/vega-rocket-aims-to-make-space-research-affordable-1.9944  “…the European low-cost rocket Vega is ready for lift-off next week…the European Space Agency (ESA)…hopes that the new launcher will tap into a market for small scientific satellites, making space research affordable for institutions such as universities…Vega's first launch will take nine satellites into orbit. The main payload is the Italian Space Agency's Laser Relativity Satellite (LARES), which will study the Lense–Thirring effect, a distortion of space-time caused by Earth's gravity and predicted by general relativity. Vega will also carry ALMASat-1, a demonstration Earth-observation microsatellite from the University of Bologna, Italy, and seven CubeSats — standardized minisatellites developed by various European universities as educational projects. Their applications range from Earth imaging to testing solar panels and radio technologies…”  [while this is not strictly a ‘civilian’ aerospace item, it does talk about a new rocket that has the objective of making space research more affordable for non-governmental organizations – ed.]
Supercomputing & GPUs
44.    Virginia Tech unveils HokieSpeed; supercomputer for the masses  http://www.powermanagementdesignline.com/electronics-news/4234006/Virginia-Tech-unveils-HokieSpeed--supercomputer-for-the-masses  “…Virginia Tech is again pushing the supercomputing envelope, announcing its new HokieSpeed machine, said to be 22 times faster than its predecessor. At just one quarter of the size of X and boasting a single-precision peak of 455 teraflops, with a double-precision peak of 240 teraflops, the HokieSpeed debuts with enough performance to vault it into the 96th spot on the most recent Top500 list. The $1.4 million supercomputer is made up of 209 separate computing nodes, interconnected across large metal racks, each roughly 6.5 feet tall. In all, the machine occupies half a row of racks, three times less rack space than the X. Each HokieSpeed node consists of two 2.40-gigahertz Intel Xeon E5645 6-core CPUs and two Nvidia M2050/C2050 448-core GPUs on a Supermicro 2026GT0TRF motherboard. That gives HokieSpeed over 2,500 CPU cores and more than 185,000 GPU cores…”
45.    Many Core processors: Everything You Know (about Parallel Programming) Is Wrong!  http://my-inner-voice.blogspot.com/2012/01/many-core-processors-everything-you.html  “David Ungar is "an out-of-the-box thinker who enjoys the challenge of building computer software systems that work like magic and fit a user's mind like a glove.". this is a summary from  SPLASH 2011 in November 2011. In the end of the first decade of the new century, chips such as Tilera’s can give us a glimpse of a future in which manycore microprocessors will become commonplace: every (non-hand-held) computer’s CPU chip will contain 1,000 fairly homogeneous cores. Such a system will not be programmed like the cloud, or even a cluster because communication will be much faster relative to computation. Nor will it be programmed like today’s multicore processors because the illusion of instant memory coherency will have been dispelled by both the physical limitations imposed by the 1,000-way fan-in to the memory system, and the comparatively long physical lengths of the inter- vs. intra-core connections…If we cannot skirt Amdahl’s Law, the last 900 cores will do us no good whatsoever. What does this mean? We cannot afford even tiny amounts of serialization. Locks?! Even lock-free algorithms will not be parallel enough. They rely on instructions that require communication and synchronization between cores’ caches. Just as we learned to embrace languages without static type checking, and with the ability to shoot ourselves in the foot, we will need to embrace a style of programming without any synchronization whatsoever…”

*****

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